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INSIDE POLITICS

Boris Johnson: "Disagree Profoundly" With U.K. Supreme Court's Ruling; Donald Trump Meets With Boris Johnson Amid Political Turmoil; Donald Trump: "Never Any Quid Pro Quo" On U.S. Military Aid To Ukraine; Representative John Lewis Joins Democrats Call For Impeachment Inquiry; House Speaker Nancy Pelosi To Make Statement Amid Impeachment Calls Later Today. Aired 12-12.30p ET

Aired September 24, 2019 - 12:00   ET

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


[12:00:00]

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JOHN KING, CNN HOST, CNN NEWSROOM: Welcome to "Inside Politics." I'm John King in Washington. We're just moments away from hearing from the President of the United States. He's at the United Nations General Assembly just finished a bilateral meeting with the British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, both of the leaders facing tough questions. Prime Minister Johnson a defeat in court back home. Let's listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Thank you very much, everyone. It's great to be with my friend, Boris Johnson. I just got a position that he is having a very easy time with; it's much easier than he thought. I just asked him if it was tougher or easier, and he said, well, I guess what he expected. I think it is pretty much what you expected.

BORIS JOHNSON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: It is.

TRUMP: And he's doing a fantastic job not easy and but doing a really good job and I think he is going to make great progress come October, come November, but great progress for the country.

JOHNSON: October the 31st.

TRUMP: The results are going to start to show in November. But it looks to me like he is making great progress, so it's an honor to have you here. We're going to be discussing trade. We can quadruple our trade with U.K., and we can, I think, really do a big job. Bob Lighthizer is here, our Trade Representative. Your Trade Representative is here. They're already scheduled today to continue negotiations so we can have substantially more trade with U.K., and we look forward to doing that. We'll talk about other things also. It's great to have you, Boris.

JOHNSON: Donald, thank you very much. It's great to be here, and I certainly hope that we can make a lot of progress. Our Secretary of State Elizabeth Truss is here, and we have to get going on that, always remembering that the NHS is not for sale. But everything else, there's a huge amount we can do.

I guess we'll also talk a bit about Iran and some of those difficult issues where we share a common perspective. We want to dial things down but also make sure that people in the Gulf don't get the wrong idea about what they can get away with. That's a complicated issue. We have to make progress there as well.

TRUMP: We'll be talking about many things. We look forward to it and we'll start in just a minute. Thank you very much, everybody. Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Some of your critics are saying that you should resign because you misled the Queen with regard to shutting parliament down. How do you respond to that?

JOHNSON: Thank you very much. As I said earlier on, let's be absolutely clear. We respect the judiciary in our country, we respect the court. I disagree profoundly with what they had to say. I think it was entirely right to go ahead with a plan for a Queen's speech. This is the longest period we haven't had a Queen's speech for 400 years.

We have a dynamic domestic agenda we need to be getting on with more police in the streets investments in our National Health Service, improving our education better education we need to get along with that. And frankly we need to get along with Brexit that's the other one if you're the British people, whether they want to leave or remain, they want to get this thing done by October 31st, and that's what we're going to do.

TRUMP: That was a very nasty question from a great American reporter.

JOHNSON: Was that an American reporter?

TRUMP: It was an American reporter.

JOHNSON: I think he was asking the question to be fair that a lot of British reporters would have asked me.

TRUMP: I tell you, I know him well, he's not going anywhere. Don't worry about him. Okay, go ahead any other questions?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Any idea for the Prime Minister how he should deal with the charges?

TRUMP: No, I think he's dealing very well. I've watched it very closely. He's a friend of mine. I tend to watch friends closer than enemies but the enemies you have to watch in a different way. I think he's doing very well. It's a complicated subject, but they took a vote and the vote -- I was there, I happened to be there the day that --

JOHNSON: You were there that day.

TRUMP: I made a prediction even. I even made a prediction. It was the correct prediction. That was a long time ago, and it takes a man like this to get it done. They have to get it done otherwise it will be a terrible thing to do it any other way. I don't see another vote, I don't see anything happening. I think he's going to get it done.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, what was your reaction when you heard these U.K. Supreme Court decision? What was your reaction?

TRUMP: I had no reaction, I just asked Boris, and to him it's another day in the office. He's a professional. It's just another day in the office.

JOHNSON: Yeah, it's tomorrow is another day in parliament.

TRUMP: We had, Boris, the first couple months, we had been - I think we were 0 for 7 with the Supreme Court. Since then we won the wall, we won asylum, we won some of the biggest ones. We've had a great streak going.

[12:05:00]

TRUMP: We've had a great streak going. But we started off, we were 0 for 7, and then as you will report back the first time, you were shocked that we won. Since then we've almost run the table. We've won a lot of decisions. I'm sure that is going to happen to you.

JOHNSON: Well, we're not counting our chickens and we're full of respect for the justices of our Supreme Court. But we're going to push on. We're going to respect what the court has to say, but we're going to get on ask deliver Brexit. I think that's what the British people want.

TRUMP: And otherwise, he has been very nice to the court. He has total respect for the court.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On a separate subject, can you explain why aid to Ukraine was stopped?

TRUMP: Because I think other countries should be paying also. Why is the United States the only one paying to Ukraine? I've been talking about this for a long time, not only with respect to Ukraine but a lot of other countries. But frankly, why isn't Germany? I just met with the chancellor. Why isn't Germany? Why isn't France? Why aren't these other countries paying?

Why are we paying all the time, and nobody is giving I believe more to Ukraine. President Obama used to send pillows and sheets. I send anti- tank weapons and a lot of things to Ukraine. I don't know if you know it or not, that payment was made. But I wanted to get other countries. Other countries should also pay, because frankly, it affects them more.

There's a wall between Russia and the U.K. and they don't pay, and why are they not paying? Why is it always the United States that's paying? I made that loud and clear. I told that to Mike Mulvaney, I told it to a lot of people. I told it to a lot of different people. I told it to Mike, I told it to two Mikes, and I told it to Steve. I keep asking the same - I said it to Wilbur Ross. I keep asking the same question. Why is it that the United States is always paying these foreign countries and other foreign countries that frankly are much more affected, they're not? So I said, hold it up. Let's get other people to pay, and then everybody called me, oh please, can we pay? There was never any quid pro quo.

The letter was beautiful. It was a perfect letter. Unlike Biden, who, by the way, what he said was a horror. Ask how his son made millions of dollars from Ukraine, made millions of dollars from China even though he had no expertise whatsoever, okay?

So what he did was a real problem. With us there was no pressure applied, no nothing. Okay, folks. Thank you very much. Thank you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: The President of the United States just a short time ago at the United Nations with Boris Johnson, the new Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, both leaders deep in controversy right now. Welcome to "Inside Politics." I'm john king.

Let's wrap this up with me in studio to show their reporting and their insights this day, Margaret Talev with Axios, Toluse Olorunippa with The Washington Post, Heather Caygle with POLITICO, and Jackie Kucinich with The Daily Beast.

We'll go to London live as well in just a moment much of that conversation actually dealing, I'm sure the President was grateful with Boris Johnson and his problems back home, with Brexit, with the Supreme Court decision today slapping the new Prime Minister saying he shut down parliament without cause.

So Boris Johnson will leave after his speech to the General Assembly and go back to the Britain to deal with his issues. Let's start with the President I said there was never a quid pro quo, the issue at hand here the President's phone conversation back in July with his Ukrainian counterpart.

There is a whistleblower complaint suggesting that President did something wrong in that conversation. The President himself has now conceded he asked the Ukrainian President to investigate Joe Biden and the role of Joe Biden's son Hunter working for a Ukrainian Gas Company.

The President said no quid pro quo. He said it was a beautiful letter there. He was confused himself over the details and the confusion is interesting because the President -- the Democrats are meeting this afternoon. They could move forward soon with impeachment or at least inch toward impeachment. The President earlier called that ridiculous.

When he says, never a quid pro quo it was a beautiful -- he called it letter there, but it was a conversation. He also said that the hesitation, the reason he withheld aid he made a decision to withhold aid just before that phone call. If you're suspicious, you connect the dots. The President says, no, I wanted them. I was waiting for other countries to help us with military aid. The administration for days has said the issue was corruption, not military aid.

MARGARET TALEV, POLITICS AND WHITE HOUSE DITOR, AXIOS: So he now seems to be saying these are two completely different things that just happened to occur at the same time. On the one hand, why aren't other countries paying, other countries should pay, and on the other hand, concerns about Joe Biden not connected no connection at all.

So this is going to, at a bare minimum, rev up the Democrats' insistence on understanding the full details of the whistleblower's complaint, seeking not just a transcript but a transcript also of that call but also to have full awareness and probably need some public awareness about what the whistleblower said, and it's going to put more pressure on both the White House to have a fuller disclosure. It's going to put more pressure on Nancy Pelosi to move forward with impeachment from her own caucus.

[12:10:00]

KING: But to the point about whether it's the whistleblower complaint or the transcript of the call. We'll discuss this throughout the hour. The Democrats want to see the full complaint. There is also pressure on the President. Just release the transcript. If you did nothing wrong, if it was so beautiful, if it was perfectly appropriate as you said, just he can declassify the President has the power. He could do it in the course of this conversation.

He was asked about this earlier today. The President again asked about this call. And he keeps suggesting, maybe we'll see it eventually but he says it was perfect. Sorry, we have a little gremlin in the computer there. But again to this point, if they wanted to get this out, the President has the power to do it immediately. This controversy has been growing for over a week plus now. Why not?

TOLUSE OLORUNNIPA, THE WASHINGTON POST: The President has changed his story multiple times over the last 48 hours and there are pieces of evidence that he could use if he has evidence on his side to back him up that could basically prove what he was saying. If there was nothing wrong with this call, nothing was perfect then he didn't have a quid pro quo.

There is a bunch of information that if you were to release the transcript, if you allow the whistleblower to come forward, if you would put everything open if he really feels that he was on solid ground with the way he's carrying out foreign policy then he could provide that to the American people, but the fact that he is changing his story, that the is changing from you know this was about corruption to saying now we want other countries to give in and add funding as well to Ukraine. It really causes Democrats and especially trying to figure out what's going on? What's happening behind the scenes?

I thought it was interesting with the President tried to get a few - I told Steve Munchin, I told Wilbur Ross and all of these other people, these are potential targets for Democrats to say, did the President talk to you about this? What was really happening behind the close doors? And the President is bringing them into this circle as well.

KING: And that is very important again if you think about where we could be going here? If momentum builds to our impeachment and you have impeachment proceedings that is essentially a trial in which they would call in witness and President there just added to witness unless they might have been on it anyway, but when the President does thinks that, that is going to get. If you are building a list, we would want to talk to, who did the President talk about this?

This is what we're trying to get to just a second ago. Listen to the President this morning, because his words matter here. The President now admits, yes, I asked the President of Ukraine to get dirt on Joe Biden. He says despite how reckless that is, despite how outside of norm it is to ask for a foreign government to help you get dirt on a potential political partner. Well, the President says, no big deal. This one was worth because you are important.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: As far as withholding funds, those funds we pay, we would fully pay. But my complaint is always been and I withhold again, I'll continue to withhold until such time is Europe and other nations contribute to Ukraine because they're not doing it. Just the United States we're putting up the bulk of the money, and I'm asking why is that? I want other countries to put up money. I think it's unfair that we put up the money that people call me they said oh, let it go and I'll let it go. But we paid the money. The money was paid.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: We paid the money, the money was paid. It's important if you look at the timeline here, the President put the money on hold until his Chief of Staff hold that money before the call. He had the call, the money was still held after the call until it became public as the Inspector General had told Congress there was a whistleblower complaint.

So when the potential was for them to forgive me, get caught for this to be aired out in public, then they release the money and only then.

HEATHER CAYGLE, CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER, POLITICO: I think it's important to note that the call is just one part of the whistleblower complaint as far as we know. It certainly seems to be a big part from what we know but there are reports there are other aspects to this and I think the Democrats are asking themselves, yes, they're running towards impeachment seemingly right, but what do we do in the meantime if we don't get the whistleblower complaint?

How do we keep momentum up? What if it takes weeks or months to really get these details? And so tomorrow we'll see them we just reported they're voting on a resolution condemning Trump, it's not going to mention impeachment at all. But I think the leadership is looking for ways to keep the momentum going and keep their caucus inline, while we try to figure out what really happened here. KING: All right, we will come back to this in a minute because the President's issues are growing here at home, but we just saw him in a photo opportunity with man he described as his. The man he said he had full confidence in the new U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who is going to speak for the General Assembly and then go home because of his problems back. CNN's Nina Dos Santos is with us now from outside the Parliament in London.

Nino, President Trump said for Boris Johnson, the set back at the Supreme Court in the U.K. just another day at the office. I suspect not the case, right?

NINA DOS SANTOS, CNN EUROPE EDITOR: No, here in the United Kingdom this is something that has ruffled huge political feathers. And essentially the Supreme Court in this country doesn't behave in the same way as the Supreme Court over in the United States. These kinds of rulings are incredibly rare.

And remember, that the ruling came unanimously with all eleven of those Supreme Court Justices saying that they believe that Boris Johnson had acted unlawfully by advising the grade to suspend parliament. Essentially, he at the time said, that he wanted to suspend parliament pro rocket to give it its proper turn.

[12:15:00]

SANTOS: For a longer period than usual to layout a new domestic agenda. One, which many people here feel is heading towards an imminent general election now we see the Supreme Court didn't buy that. They said that not just embarrassingly that the Prime Minister had potentially mislead the Queen and broken the law, but that's parliament was not she suspended at all.

That is done today is, got a lot of MPs resuming their seats in parliament early and the Speaker of House of Commences said that parliament will be reconvening around lunch time tomorrow. Ahead of that Boris Johnson is returning to the United Kingdom.

Usually on a Wednesday, mid day we have a show piece event who Prime Minister's question time, when the Prime Minister is able to be questioned by other MPs who could bet many of those MPs very, very keen to question them. We don't yet know whether that part of the event will go ahead. John.

KING: Remarkable leadership challenges on both side of the Atlantic. Nina, I appreciate the live reporting from outside parliament. We'll keep track of that as well. Up next, when we come back here though, back to President Trump's issues and the math, the growing number Democrats calling for impeachment. That number seeming to grow by the minute.

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[12:20:00]

KING: It's a breaking news now from Capitol Hill just moments a very influential voice among House Democrats adding his voice to the cause for impeachment proceedings against the President of United States. Let's get straight up to CNN's Manu Raju, who is live on Capitol Hill. Manu, not all House Democrats are created equal. John Lewis goes to the floor of the House explain the significance of what just happened?

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, he is civil rights icon, someone who has revealed. And both parties in particularly in the Democratic caucus, he had not been moving, not supportive of. He is saying that publicly that he believes impeachment proceedings should move ahead, but as more and more Democrats believe it is now time to begin impeachment proceedings. John Lewis just took to the House floor indicating he agrees.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. JOHN LEWIS, (D-GA): We cannot delay. We must not wait. Now is the time to act. I have been patient for betrayal every other path and use every other tool. I should believe the time to begin impeachment proceeding against this President has come.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RAJU: Now, John, the terrain has been shifting here dramatically over the last 72 hours or so after months of debate and division in the speaker's resistance to moving forward. They had growing number of signs that this party, this caucus of the House will begin to move forward on impeachment proceedings.

We expect the Speaker of the House to may curve former position known later today I just had a chance to ask her whether or not her position has changed in all an impeachment? Whether she will not brace anything else such as a select committee to investigate his want some members have pushed forward?

She said I will make my statement later today. She that over and over again. So later today, John, she meets with her Chairman, who are Chairman who are investigating this President bench will meet with a full Democratic caucus, she is expected to lay her views and we can see serious action moving forward.

For the first time, this party starting to sound more united on the issue of impeachment after divisions of weeks of divisions and signs that those Democrats are moving in that same direction. John there is hearing from moderate Democrats freshmen Democrats represent districts that President Trump carried now signaling and may be time to move forward an impeachment a sign that Speaker may be there as well. John.

KING: Manu Raju, live on the Hill with important news on what this shaping up to be a moment to stay on Capitol Hill. Manu, stay in touch. Throughout the hour and throughout the day, let's come back into the room. No offense, meant to any other House Democrat, but not all law makers are created equally. John Lewis is the conscious, he is an American hero. He is the conscious of the Democrats on Capitol Hill.

He's also an icon within the black caucus and so you take the pieces of the Democratic Pie the black caucus, very loyal to the Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Most of its members have stayed back as she had said please let's take this slowly. Please, let's not risk the 2020 election here. What is the significance of John Lewis coming forward and then you add in that the Speaker says you will hear from me later today?

CAYGLE: I think, with John Lewis coming out, we should expect to see merely the four Congressional Black Caucus come out and support. And that's really important because we already have two thirds of Democrats on record supporting some form of impeachment proceedings. That's just going to bump the numbers way up.

KING: All right, forgive for enough. We're about 60 percent when we came on the year it was 62, 63 percent. So up we go.

CAYGLE: Right.

JACKIE KUCINICH, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, THE DAILY BEAST: One and this only increases that your point because it's not just the black caucus. You saw some of Nancy Pelosi's closest allies someone like Rosa DeLauro who come out. But I think there are couple of words in that freshmen op-ed that came through, seven freshmen from marginal districts said if the Ukraine situation is true, if that is true, and I think that's going to matter for a lot of Democrats, getting that whistle-blower's report, getting the transcripts, because while there are a lot of calls for impeachment on doing it.

It's one of the most solemn things the House can do. Particularly the lawmakers that have been there a long, long time, they know that and they take it very seriously.

KING: I covered the Clinton White House the last time we went through this. For all the jokes and the tweet readings and sort of the snarkiness around the town, you cross that threshold, you're in a different place. You're in a different place in town you're in a different place in our business. You're in a different place in our politics. You're in a different place in country.

[12:25:00]

KING: You made the point about the freshmen. And again, you have to think of the Democratic pie, if you were above 60 percent, heading towards 70 percent now we suspect by the end of the day that number will grow even more.

You look at the Democratic family and the Speaker's voice is the most important point. Her rationale for months has been go slow, we have 30 or 40 members from difficult districts back home we need to keep the majority of it. If you want to fight for health care, if you want to fight for all the other things on the Democratic agenda, we need to keep the majority.

You read that op-ed in "The Washington Post" today written by seven freshmen members, some of whom won very close elections, other won by decent margins but in a big Democratic year and in a presidential year they're void. They write if these allegations are true, we believe these actions represent an impeachable offense. We do not arrive at this conclusion lightly. We call on our colleagues in Congress to consider the use of all congressional authorities available to us including the power of inherent contempt and impeachment hearings to address these new allegations. Find the truth and protect our national security.

So to them, move forward with a little bit of caution, they're not saying get all the way there, but create some kind of forum in which the administration has no choice but to give us the transcript of the call, give them the whistle-blower report, give them witnesses.

OLORUNNIPA: Look at the context of where we are? Over the last six or seven months the Trump Administration has had a complete stonewalling approach to any inquiry by the Democrats in the House who have try to get information about the Mueller Report about the Russia investigation.

Now all these Democrats see that there is a whistleblower complaint that the White House is blocking, and they're infuriated that the White House is even interjecting into this process because they think the law is black and white. That the White House Administration has to turn over this information because that's what the law says.

There is a lot of pent-up frustration and I think that's why you see the proverbial dam breaking with so many Democrats coming out not only with what the President has publicly admitted to saying that, yes, he talked about his political opponent in a call with a foreign leader, but also the fact that the whistleblower complaint has been withheld and it does seem like the White House is stonewalling and not allowing Congress to fulfill its work.

TALEV: And I think that this is an important point because what we are hearing in terms of people hold the tie that's now breaking for impeachment. Falls along two arguments, and they're different arguments. One is that if the President did something in terms of his conversations or with the Ukrainian President or the withholding of the funding. If he did something that is illegal that should be impeachable.

There is a separate parallel argument that says that if the White House is refusing to comply with the law in turning stuff over to Congress that is impeachable. They are not the same thing. And it may turn out that the President was within his legal rights even if you don't like it, or it seems like offer unpresidential to deal with the Ukrainian President the way he did.

And so for the White House, there is a decision point in the next day and a half about what they do between now and Thursday? That Thursday hearing involving the whistleblower, that could have an impact on ultimately whether that number crosses to 18 and stays above to 18 on the Democratic side or how quickly an inquiry would proceed?

KING: So you have big decisions for the House Speaker this afternoon. Enormous decisions for the President and his National Security Team to make and when we come back what about Republicans especially on Capitol Hill? Do they think this is a big deal or they just want to turn and run?

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