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President Trump Admits To The Call With Ukraine President; Subpoena Looms Over Mike Pompeo On Ukraine Documents; Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA) Is Interviewed Regarding The Whistleblower Report; U.S. Soldier Charged Over Bomb-Making Instructions On Social Media; Trump Accuses Biden And His Son Of Corruption, Says Republican Would "Be Getting The Electric Chair"; Trump Meeting South Korean President Amid Reports Some In Seoul Feel Snubbed By Trump-Kim Overtures. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired September 23, 2019 - 17:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[17:00:00]

BILL WEIR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: But yet he continues to carry that message with unflappable optimism somehow, Jake.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Bill Weir, thanks so much. Our coverage on CNN continues right now. Thanks so much for watching.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Happening now, breaking news. Trump's perfect call, the president admits to talking about his rival Joe Biden in a call with Ukraine's leader but denies of using his power for political gain by pressuring him to investigate Biden's son. Tonight, he's accusing Biden of corruption that would get the electric chair for a Republican.

Tipping point, the new scandal triggers a seismic shift in the House Democrats position on impeachment. Now, three House committees are threatening to subpoena Secretary of State Mike Pompeo unless they get documents on the president's contacts with Ukraine.

U.S. soldier charge, new details of an undercover FBI operation and an American serviceman is accused of sending bomb-making instructions over a social media and allegedly naming potential targets including news stations and a presidential candidate.

And meeting Kim soon? President Trump dangles a possibility of an imminent one-on-one with North Korea's Kim Jong-un. But as the leaders court each other, South Korea is set to feel spurned. We're watching the United Nations where President Trump is scheduled to meet his South Korean counterpart this hour. I'm Wolf Blitzer and you're in "The Situation Room."

We're following multiple breaking stories this hour including some fast moving development surrounding President Trump's controversial phone call with Ukraine's president. Mr. Trump is now saying it would have been okay if he pressured the Ukrainian leader to investigate Joe Biden, although he continues to deny he did.

And he's now openly accusing Biden and his son of corruption of such magnitude that a Republican in the same position would, in the president's words, be getting the electric chair.

Meanwhile, House Democrats have just threatened to subpoena Secretary of State Mike Pompeo unless he hands over documents tied to the Ukraine controversy. We'll talk about the breaking news and much more with congresswoman Jackie Speier of the Intelligence Oversight and Armed Services Committees.

And our correspondents and analysts are also standing by. First, let's go to our White House Correspondent, Kaitlan Collins. She's over at the United Nations for us. Kaitlan, this Ukraine call controversy has overshadowed clearly the president's day.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Wolf, and a lot of that has to do with the president himself who's brought it up repeatedly as soon as he stepped foot here at the United Nation's headquarters this morning.

And in between his meetings with world leaders today, defending his actions, going after the former vice president and insisting, Wolf, he didn't pressure Ukraine and threatened to withhold aid money, though if he did, he says it would have been appropriate.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Everybody is looking for that call.

COLLINS (voice-over): President Trump's plays on the world stage overshadowed tonight by questions about his conduct during a phone call with a foreign leader.

TRUMP: We had a perfect phone call with the president of Ukraine.

COLLINS (voice-over): Trump insists he didn't cross the line with the president of Ukraine, after confirming he did bring up former vice president, Joe Biden, and his son during the call.

TRUMP: The one who's got the problem is Biden.

COLLINS (voice-over): Aides denied reports he pressured Ukraine to investigate his political rival, though Trump is publicly accusing the former vice president of corruption tied to his son's business activities.

TRUMP: If a Republican ever did what Joe Biden did, if a Republican ever said what Joe Biden said, they'd be getting the electric chair by right now.

COLLINS (voice-over): Biden says Trump is abusing his power to smear him and should release the transcript.

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Trump is doing this because he knows I'll beat him like a drum.

COLLINS (voice-over): Trump's admission has re-ignited Democratic calls on Capitol Hill for his impeachment, warnings Trump dismissed today.

TRUMP: It's just a Democrat witch-hunt. Here be we go again.

COLLINS (voice-over): He may not be worried, but he also hasn't committed to releasing the whistleblower's report to the intelligence committees as the law mandates.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- clear this up by releasing the whistleblower report, sir.

TRUMP: Quiet.

COLLINS (voice-over): Instead, he questioned the patriotism of that whistleblower, asking if the person is on our country's side. One question surrounding the call is whether or not Trump threatened to withhold millions in military aid if Ukraine didn't investigate Biden and his son.

MARIA BARTIROMO, FOX NEWS HOST: Did the president threaten to cut off aid to the Ukraine.

RUDY GIULIANI, ATTORNEY TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: No. No, that was a false start.

BARTIROMO: 100 percent.

GIULIANI: Well, I can't tell you if it's 100 percent.

COLLINS (voice-over): His attorney may not be sure, but Trump insisted he didn't.

TRUMP: I put no pressure on them whatsoever. I could have.

COLLINS (voice-over): Critics say the question could be cleared up if the White House released the transcript of the call.

TRUMP: Perhaps you'll see it, perhaps you won't see that. It depends on what we want to do.

[17:05:03]

COLLINS (voice-over): While the White House debates releasing it, aides are struggling to explain how Trump can attack the international business dealings of his rival's children when his own children profit from businesses he still owns.

STEVE MNUCHIN, SECRETARY OF TREASURY: I'm not going to speculate on that.

TAPPER: I don't understand. So it's okay for Donald Trump, Jr. and Eric Trump to do business all over the world, it's okay for Ivanka Trump to have copyrights approved all over the world while President Trump is president, but while the Vice President Biden was vice president, his son shouldn't have been able to do business dealings?

MNUCHIN: Again, I don't really want to go into more of these details. COLLINS (voice-over): Amid the firestorm, Trump abandoned plans to skip the climate summit at the United Nations today.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's going to be there.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You know, I wouldn't be surprised if he popped in and stop by.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, really?

COLLINS (voice-over): Instead, sitting in for just under 15 minutes.

(on camera): Now, Wolf, there is no evidence that Joe Biden did anything improper here. The president hasn't provided any to that effect, but that doesn't mean he won't keep pushing it as here at the United Nations' headquarters, we're waiting on the Ukrainian president who was on his way right now, and of course, is scheduled to meet with Trump on Wednesday.

BLITZER: Kaitlan Collins reporting for us from the U.N. Thank you. Let's got to Capitol Hill right now where House Democrats are demanding documents tied to this controversy and threatening to subpoena the secretary of state to get them. Our Senior Congressional Correspondent, Manu Raju is joining us.

Manu, three committee chairman, now they just put out a joint statement.

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, they just put out a joint statement to Mike Pompeo sending him a letter saying that he must turn over documents related to Rudy Giuliani, the president's attorneys discussions with Ukraine officials and provide that information to Capitol Hill by Thursday or they say they will subpoena for those documents.

Giuliani of course, acknowledge just last week that he did speak to Ukrainian officials about investigating the Biden's. Now at the same time, senators have just returning to Capitol Hill, reacting to all the news from over the weekend including Republican senators who have been wary about criticizing this president.

I did speak to one top Republican senator, Chuck Grassley, about the concerns being raised about this whistleblower. Grassley himself has long advocated for whistleblower protections and I asked him about the president's criticism of this whistleblower.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RAJU: You've been a long-time advocate of protecting whistleblowers. Are you comfortable with the president today suggesting that this whistleblower may have been involved in treasonous activity?

SEN. CHUCK GRASSLEY (R-IA): What I'd like to do is -- I don't know anything about it either what you folks have reported. And since I listen to a lot of whistleblowers, I would invite the whistleblower to come and talk to me. RAJU: The president admitted to talking to the Ukrainian leader about the Biden's. Is that an appropriate use of his office, do you think?

GRASSLEY: Would you maybe, through your -- maybe through your news media, you can -- I think we'll go up here. I think through the news media, maybe you can get the whistleblower to come and talk to me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RAJU: I just talked to another top Republican senator, John Cornyn of Texas, who also would not criticize the president's conduct in any way. Democrats on the other hand are banging the drums, are saying that this needs to be investigated fully.

One Democratic senator on the Senate Intelligence Committee, Mark Warner, wants a bipartisan investigation on his committee to look into the matter.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. MARK WARNER (D-VA): That's why we need to see the transcripts. So before we make a full judgment, with the idea that potentially the president of the United States is trying to influence American aid contingent on trying to get dirt on a political opponent, again, I hope that's not true.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RAJU: Mark Warner would not say whether or not it would amount to an impeachable offense if the president decide to withhold military aid in wherein a poise to get the Ukrainian officials to investigate the Biden's.

But House Democrats on the other hand, are more and more, Wolf, are voicing concern or saying it's time to move forward. One Democratic member told me today they have reached nearing a tipping point on impeachment.

The question ultimately is will the House Speaker go along with that route. She has sharpened her rhetoric but she still has not embraced moving forward with impeachment proceedings, Wolf.

BLITZER: Manu Raju on Capitol Hill, thank you. Let's get some more on all of this. Joining us now, Democratic Congresswoman Jackie Speier of California. She's a member of the intelligence, the oversight, and the Armed Services committee.

Congresswoman, thanks so much for joining us.

And I want to point out that listening to the president today, do you believe he has essentially admitted to what has been reported, that he did, in fact, put pressure on the new Ukrainian president to investigate his potential 2020 rival?

REP. JACKIE SPEIER (D-CA): I don't know that we can ever believe anything that the president says, Wolf. I do think what he's technically done is declassified the complaint by the whistleblower.

[17:10:00]

So, if he's declassifying it, certainly the classified version of it should be submitted to the intelligence committees of both the House and the Senate as is required by law. It is required that the director of National Intelligence shall transmit a complaint to the committees. And I feel very strongly that until we see that complaint and the breadth of it, we're not in a position to make any statements.

BLITZER: I know you want that whistleblower complaint, but you also want the White House to release the transcript of this phone call between the president and the Ukrainian leader. Would you accept a partially redacted version or having an agreed-upon source review the transcript as the president suggested?

SPEIER: I will not be confident anything coming from the White House that's redacted because what we have seen over and over again from attorneys inside and outside the White House, they will do the president's bidding. They are not putting the law first and this lawless presidency is becoming more and more absurd.

BLITZER: Well, let me just follow up. Is the transcript enough or do you actually want to hear the audio in addition to reviewing the transcript because there are some who believe the transcript could be altered, for example.

SPEIER: Well, I would be confident in getting the transcript because my sense is, knowing nothing I might add, that the actual whistleblower based his determination on the transcripts. I could be absolutely wrong. It could be from signal intelligence, I'm not quite sure. But none of this is going to come to fruition unless we can actually see the complaint from the whistleblower.

And let me be really clear. This offense is so egregious that it is a form of bribery by which if it's true, the president, not once, not twice, but eight times has been reported, tried to get the Ukrainian president to do an investigation of Joe Biden and his son not for purposes to benefit the country, but for purposes of benefiting his re-election. It just reeks of corruption.

BLITZER: Earlier today the president asked why he would give money, the United States would give money to a country he believes is corrupt. Are you concerned the president was dangling military assistance to influence the Ukrainian president?

SPEIER: Well, it certainly appears to be that way, but we actually give money, forms of foreign aid, to many countries that are showing themselves to be of greater democracies.

And certainly with the election of this most recent president in Ukraine, they have become more Democratic in their approach. So this $250 million is a commonplace contribution in foreign aid to a country that is showing Democratic principles.

BLITZER: The chairman of your intelligence committee, Congressman Adam Schiff, now says that impeachment in his words may be the only remedy that is co-equal to President Trump's conduct. You've been supportive of opening an impeachment inquiry, but do you now believe the evidence is there to actually go ahead and impeach?

SPEIER: Well, again, we want to see the complaint. I want to see the transcript. I believe that the director of National Intelligence has an obligation to present that to us when he testifies on Thursday.

If he does not, I feel very strongly that this is a case where inherent contempt should be imposed, and that we bring that resolution to the floor. It's privileged. It can come immediately to the floor. The Sergeant-at-Arms can then take the director of National Intelligence and have him be fined on a daily basis until he turns that over.

BLITZER: The acting director of National Intelligence scheduled to testify publicly before your committee on Thursday. What will you do in that hearing if he still hasn't handed over to your committee the whistleblower complaint?

SPEIER: I will be one of those that's going to actually take whatever is necessary to create a resolution to come before the House for contempt, inherent contempt of the acting director Maguire.

BLITZER: Congresswoman Jackie Speier, thanks so much for joining us.

SPEIER: Thank you, Wolf.

BLITZER: The breaking news continues. Next, an undercover FBI operation results in the arrest of an American soldier accused of sending bomb-making instructions over social media.

Plus, an insider reveals what President Trump thinks about the growing controversy over his Ukraine contacts.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:15:00]

BLITZER: There's more breaking news we're following this hour. A United States Army soldier has now been charged with sending bomb- making instructions over social media and he allegedly suggested bombing news stations and other targets.

Our Crime and Justice Reporter, Shimon Procupecz is working the story for us. So Shimon, the soldier was in contact with an undercover FBI agent. What are you learning?

[17:19:58]

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: Yes, he was in touch with this undercover agent, but also an informant, someone that the FBI use to make contact with him in August on several occasions.

And in all those conversations, he talked about this soldier, 24-year- old Jarrett William Smith, stationed in Kansas, talked about launching some kind of an attack inside the United States.

Specifically, he mentions local news stations. He also mentioned, as you said, Wolf, targeting a major American news station. He wanted to target a network he said possibly using a car bomb to launch this attack.

And here's how the FBI in the complaint that they issued today that wasn't sealed by the court, here's how they describe that conversation. And what he says is major news network, major news network headquarters and the CS, that's the informant, tells him that would certainly make a statement.

And then Smith says, "A large vehicle bomb. Fill a vehicle full of various explosive materials, then fill a ping-pong ball, drilling them, injecting them, put the ball in the tank of the vehicle and leave 30 minutes later and then boom.

The FBI there saying that what he wanted to do here wouldn't have necessarily worked. But what was very concerning here for authorities, certainly, is that he knew how to make bombs. He talked about how to make bombs on Facebook.

And that is what alerted him to the FBI back in March, and they waited. And then back in August is when they started working this investigation yet again. And that is when he made these statements.

And so now he is charged with essentially putting these postings on Facebook, telling people how to make bombs. Specifically, he was very interested in making cellphone bombs, Wolf.

BLITZER: And they didn't identify the major news network that was supposedly was being targeted, right?

PROKUPECZ: No, they didn't identify, not in the court papers. They did not identify who he was targeting, which news organization. They did talk about that conversations he had with an FBI undercover about possibly targeting politicians, mentioning Beto O'Rourke, the Democratic candidate for president. He did talk about that, obviously concerned there as well. But other than that, there was no mention of any specific target, Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Shimon, thanks for that update -- very disturbing developments. Let's get some more on the breaking news right now. Joining us, former FBI supervisory special agent and CNN Law Enforcement Analyst, Josh Campbell. He's the author of a brand new book entitled "Crossfire Hurricane: Inside Donald Trump's War on the FBI."

Josh, thanks so much for coming in. Thanks so much for writing this book. I want to get to it in a moment, but first of all, what stands out to you when you look at this type of threat that Shimon was just reporting on?

JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Yes, Wolf. There is a lot we don't know about the motivation of this person, but one thing that always stands out as a former counter-terrorism agent is the fact that this person was a member of the military, someone who would obviously be trained in warfare.

And so, bringing that to bear on a potential target could be, you know, obviously very deadly. But then the second aspect, Wolf, this idea that this news media outlet may have been among his targets of attack. I want to dig in to his past and his social media to figure out why he would have been targeting a news network. What motivated him to pick that as his potential target.

BLITZER: Let me also get your thoughts, Josh, on these late developments on this phone call between President Trump and his Ukrainian counterpart. The president has now admitted that he may have pressured president Zelensky to investigate the Biden's. So, why is that so concerning from an FBI perspective?

CAMPBELL: Yes, Wolf, we are only two months away from when Robert Mueller sat in front of Congress and testified, closing the books on his investigation in a potential Russian collusion with the campaign of Donald Trump.

And here we are, two months later talking yet again about another foreign government possibly intersecting or interfering with the U.S. government. This time, it is so troubling, Wolf, the fact that the president himself is involved allegedly, and the fact that his own personal attorney would be reaching out, trying to get a foreign government to assist and to go after a political rival.

If you're inside the FBI right now staring at those facts, it's a very difficult situation understanding what's coming your way especially should they decide to open an investigation.

BLITZER: You've just published and written a really critically important excellent new book about what it was like inside the FBI during the Russia investigation. What do you hope, Josh, that readers will take away after they get through this book?

CAMPBELL: Yes, Wolf, what I tried to do is to bring readers inside the FBI. We've heard a lot of voices throughout the Clinton case, throughout the Russia investigation. One particular set of voice that we haven't heard comes from the people, the rank and file in the FBI who have been on the receiving end of this campaign of attack by the president and by his allies.

Now, this book, it's critical in certain aspects of the FBI. Not every decision that they made was perfect. In fact, I do fault them.

[17:24:59]

But in the main, what I hope the reader understands is that this was an agency that was working to stop a counter-intelligence threat in the midst of being thrown into a political battle here in Washington, and again, as I mentioned, on the receiving end of attack from the president of the United States.

BLITZER: Half of the proceeds from your book are going to help children of fallen FBI agents. Explain what this cause is all about.

CAMPBELL: Thanks, Wolf, for letting me mention that. This book is about a controversial period of time, obviously, the last three years with the Clinton case, with the Trump case. One thing that is not controversial and this is one key thing that I try to do with this vehicle, Wolf, is use this as a vehicle for good.

There are still FBI agents that are dying today from 9/11-related illnesses that are now manifesting some 18 years later. And in doing the research for this book, I learned of this fund from the FBI Agents Association that actually sends the children of fallen agents to college.

So, half of my proceeds from this book will be going to that fund. I hope, you know, your viewers and readers, whether they agree with the book or that they disagree with the book, they'll understand that it's going for a good cause and trying shed light on this very important charity that is out there, Wolf, taking care of those surviving children of those who pay the ultimate sacrifice.

BLITZER: So important indeed and so nice of you to do that. Once again, the book is entitled "Crossfire Hurricane: Inside Donald Trump's War on the FBI. Josh Campbell, is the author. Josh, thanks so much for writing this book.

CAMPBELL: Thank you Wolf so much.

BLITZER: There is more breaking news coming up. President Trump wavering on whether to release the transcript of his call with the Ukrainian president. Will it set a dangerous precedent?

[17:30:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: The breaking news this hour, President Trump deflecting the controversy surrounding his call with Ukraine's President and now openly accusing Joe Biden and his son of corruption that would have a Republican in the same position, according to the President, quote, getting the electric chair. Let's dig deeper with our experts and our analysts.

Chris Cillizza, President Trump now says a Republican would get the electric chair if they did what Biden did. The President is accusing the former Vice President of being corrupt, but does he have any real proof?

CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS EDITOR-AT-LARGE: Note currently if you look at any fact-checker. And this has been fact-checked a number of times because Donald Trump has made these claims before. They didn't get as much attention, but he has made these claims before.

Fact-checkers say there's no "there" there. That, yes, Hunter Biden was on the board of this Ukrainian natural gas company. That, yes, Joe Biden did go to Ukraine and say we are going to withhold a -- a billion dollars, excuse me, in loan guarantees unless and until this prosecutor is removed. Because the administration -- the Obama administration, as well as others in the world, believed that this prosecutor wasn't taking a hard line on corruption in the Ukraine.

But the case that Hunter Biden was on the board of, the case was already was shelved by the time Joe Biden went to the Ukraine. So the problem here is the facts don't bear Donald Trump out. That won't stop him from saying it, as we've seen throughout the day at the U.N., and it won't stop a lot of people, unfortunately, from believing it, Wolf.

This is the alternate reality and the -- you know, the alternate facts and truth that he has created, but those aren't the same thing as established facts. And the established facts simply do not back up that there was anything nefarious going on. Maybe something else would come out, but what we know now puts Donald -- what Donald Trump is saying to a lie.

BLITZER: Gloria, you had a chance to speak to a person close to the President for your new column on cnn.com. What are you learning about the President's outlook on this clearly developing story?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, while Democrats in Congress seem to think this is crossing the Rubicon, I was told today that the President isn't really worried about it. Not surprising to us, but this source said to me he's not bothered, he's not worried, and that he believes the whole system is so rigged and so evil that none of this has any real substance.

And he also said, and this is kind of interesting to me, that the President believes that -- he likes Joe Biden and that -- this source said the President has, quote, compassion for Joe Biden. I don't know if this is the way you actually show compassion, but the President hasn't been big on empathy here. So while Washington is in turmoil over this and the Democrats are in turmoil, and there are all kinds of constitutional and legal scholars looking this over, the President is more concerned, I was told, with how he's going to handle gun control and Iran.

BLITZER: You know, Jeffrey, I want you to listen to how the President's explanation of this controversy has evolved. Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did you discuss Joe Biden, his son, or his family with the leader of Ukraine?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It doesn't matter what I discussed, but I will say this. Somebody ought to look into Joe Biden's statement because it was disgraceful.

The conversation I had was largely congratulatory, was largely corruption -- all of the corruptions taking place, was largely the fact that we don't want our people like Vice President and his son creating to the -- the corruption already in the Ukraine.

If you don't talk about corruption, why would you give money to a country that you think is corrupt? One of the reasons the new President got elected is he was going to stop corruption. So it's very important that, on occasion, you speak to somebody about corruption. Very important.

[17:35:10]

And there was no pressure put on them whatsoever. I put no pressure on them whatsoever. I could have. I think it would probably, possibly, have been OK if I did.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Well, what do you think, Jeffrey? Does it sound like the President may have tied that military aid to this request to investigate the Bidens?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: Of course. Of course. I mean, the only reason that the -- the Ukrainian President is interested in talking to the President is because he wants this aid, and the President says, as he's acknowledging, you know, go investigate Biden. So this is an obvious quid pro quo. And it's a quid pro quo not for the benefit of the American people, not for the benefit of our national interests; it's a quid pro quo to help Donald Trump get reelected.

And what we're going to have to decide is whether that's acceptable behavior for a president. And you know, we can go off and talk about, you know, Joe Biden's son, and we can talk about all these side issues, but the real issue here is whether the President of the United States can go to a foreign leader and say, I want you to do this solely for the benefit of my campaign. That's what this is about, and that's what we'll have to decide.

BLITZER: Everybody, stand by. There is a lot more we need to discuss and we will, right after a quick break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:41:01]

BLITZER: We're back with our experts and our analysts.

And, April Ryan, as the President clearly waivers on whether he'd like the transcript of his call with Ukrainian President Zelensky to be released, some members of his team argue it would set a dangerous precedent. Do you believe we're going to see the transcript of that conversation?

APRIL RYAN, WASHINGTON D.C. BUREAU CHIEF, AMERICAN URBAN RADIO NETWORKS: Wolf, who knows? This president always fights anything that gives a glimpse to what he really does. But we have seen in the past with past presidents, any time that people want to know more or release information about private conversations, many of the presidents in the past have said, it's not a good idea because it breaks down that relationship where you can share information without fear of people knowing.

But, at the same time, we're dealing with the possibility of breaking the rule of law about issues that the President could have done something and asked for something that should not have been done by a president of the United States. And we're also hearing that the President -- his staff, rather, and the lawyers are really tense about this whole thing. As some are saying, they don't even pay attention to it, understanding that the DNI, Director of National Intelligence, felt it was no big deal.

So if the President is acting like it's no big deal, that's because the DNI is downplaying this. But in the meantime, everyone in that White House is in a tense moment and they're wringing their hands trying to figure out what they have to do if they have to do something.

BLITZER: You know, it's interesting, Chris Cillizza. The President found time today, during a very hectic day and week at the United Nations General Assembly, to tweet his displeasure with the U.S. intelligence official who fight (ph) -- who filed the original whistleblower complaint, writing in part -- and I'm quoting the President -- who is this so-called whistleblower who doesn't know the correct facts? Is he on our country's side?

How damaging is it for the President to publicly question the loyalty of this U.S. intelligence official who went through all the proper channels in filing this complaint?

CILLIZZA: Well, I mean, it's very problematic. Look, this is a ramping up of his rhetoric from when it initially broke. Remember his famous/infamous line that it's a partisan hack who did it, and then, when questioned further, he said, well, I don't actually know who did it. So now, it's a -- someone who's disloyal to this country. We should not be surprised, Wolf.

This is a person, Donald Trump, who, when he says disloyalty, he doesn't mean -- he doesn't understand it the way we normally would, that loyalty is to the country, not to any person or any particular office. He understands it as loyalty to him personally. That's how he always has done things.

It's -- remember when Jeff Sessions recused himself in the Mueller probe, he said, how could you do this to me? How could you do this to me? It's not about Jeff Sessions doing the right thing because of possible conflicts of interest. How could you do this to Donald Trump?

Everything revolves around him. Therefore, if you're doing something that makes Donald Trump's life more difficult, you're being disloyal to the country. But by that, he just means, disloyal to me.

BLITZER: As you know, Jeffrey, three House committees now are threatening to subpoena the Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for documents involving these conversations with Ukraine. Do you think they're going to get them?

TOOBIN: No. I think -- you know, we've seen how this administration reacts to congressional oversight. And you know, they are -- they produce nothing. I mean, there is, you know, now a series of court cases, whether it's about the President's tax returns or about the testimony of the Secretary of Commerce, the Secretary -- the Attorney General Barr's testimony.

I mean, they have decided that stonewalling is the way to react to congressional oversight. And unless the courts intervene, and the courts move very slowly, that's clearly what's going to happen. I mean, we are now in -- almost into October, and Democrats have accomplished basically nothing in terms of their oversight of the administration because of this stonewall. So, you know, it's been working, and I don't see any reason why that will change.

[17:45:09]

BLITZER: Yet the movement, Gloria, towards impeachment in the House of Representatives is clearly gaining some steam as a result of the Ukraine controversy.

BORGER: Yes, it really is. Look, Nancy Pelosi wrote a very strong letter over the weekend, and it's clear that -- you know, she said we're entering this grave new world, basically, with this, and so I believe that you'll see more and more Democrats coming out and saying, we should impeach. The thing that Nancy Pelosi is really worried about is those 40 or so Democrats who won in Republican districts who are moderate, who have been against impeachment, and this could -- this could push them over that line.

I think they need to get more information. And to Jeffrey's point, the courts are moving slowly. Nancy Pelosi has always said we're going to fight it out in the courts, but if the courts are moving slowly, what can Congress do? They look helpless here, and they have to be able to act in some way, shape, or form. And maybe taking that vote is the one way to do it.

BLITZER: All right, guys --

TOOBIN: And there is --

BLITZER: Yes.

TOOBIN: There is one possibility, which is that the whistleblower will decide --

BORGER: Right.

TOOBIN: -- to go outside the system and go to -- and deliver the -- his information to Congress directly. That is still a possibility.

BLITZER: All right, guys, stick around. There's more news we're following, including a possible fallout from the Trump-Kim courtship. Is South Korea feeling snubbed?

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[17:51:32]

BLITZER: There is more breaking news, President Trump meeting this hour with South Korean President Moon at the United Nations and discussing North Korea. This comes as some South Korean officials are said to be feeling slighted by Mr. Trump's and Kim Jong-un's continued overtures to resume denuclearization talks. CNN's Brian Todd is working this story for us. Brian, the South Koreans appear to be feeling sort of left out of the process.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right, Wolf. Tonight, some top South Korean officials just under Moon Jae-in are saying they feel like they're being frozen out. They believe that in trying to help President Trump broker his deal with Kim Jong-un, South Korea is being prevented from building stronger ties with Pyongyang.

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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President --

TODD (voice-over): Tonight, Donald Trump is still on a mission to get a critical next meeting with Kim Jong-un.

TRUMP: We're getting along very well with North Korea, and I have a good relationship with Kim Jong-un.

TODD (voice-over): But the President's comments at the U.N. today come as one of Trump's key allies in the process is reportedly feeling snubbed and left out. Despite the smiles and handshakes at the U.N. between Trump and one of his wingmen, South Korean President Moon Jae- in, aides to President Moon reportedly feel South Korea has been marginalized.

One top South Korean official telling the news Web site Vox it, quote, bothers him South Korea is not at the negotiating table. Another top Moon adviser told Vox the U.S. position has been really harmful to South Korea's efforts to build better ties with the North.

A State Department spokesperson tells CNN there is complete agreement between the U.S. and South Korea on a common approach to denuclearization. But a veteran diplomat who's had recent discussions with a South Korean official tells CNN tonight, there is something to the Vox report.

EVANS REVERE, FORMER ACTING ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF STATE FOR EAST ASIAN AND PACIFIC AFFAIRS: In certain circles, particularly inside the Blue House in Seoul, there are some people who are not pleased with the overall status of North/South dialogue. And some of those people, including people who are very close to President Moon, have, in the last two or three weeks, said some things on the record conveying their sense of exasperation and even anger.

TODD (voice-over): One indication that President Trump may have been willing to leave Moon behind is Trump's nonchalance over North Korea's recent barrage of short-range missile nuclear tests, which violate U.N. resolutions and directly threaten South Korea's security.

TRUMP: He has been doing some short-range missiles, but so does every other country do short-range missiles. Every country is doing them. They're pretty standard fare. TODD (voice-over): But at the same time, U.S. officials recently told

CNN, Trump himself has soured on Moon, believing Moon hasn't done enough to rein in those North Korean missile launches. For its part, experts say, North Korea has been trying to drive a wedge between Trump and Moon Jae-in and has always tried to marginalize South Korea.

MICHAEL GREEN, SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT FOR ASIA AND JAPAN CHAIR, CENTER FOR STRATEGIC AND INTERNATIONAL STUDIES: At every opportunity, the North Koreans under Kim Jong-un will do just what they did under his father and grandfather, which is to put the South Koreans in a place where they're isolated and they look like they are not the legitimate government and to portray North Korea as an equal to the United States, China, Russia.

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TODD: Analysts say another big obstacle for South Korea in this entire process is Kim Jong-un's own view of unification. They say that just like the South, North Korea also wants the two countries to come together as one, but Kim wants to do that under the communist rule of North Korea. Something the U.S. and South Korea will never agree to -- Wolf?

BLITZER: Brian Todd reporting. Thank you. Breaking news next, President Trump turns the table and accuses Joe Biden of corruption, saying -- and I'm quoting now -- if a Republican did what Biden did, they'd be getting the electric chair.

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[18:00:02]

BLITZER: Happening now, breaking news. Trump's admission.