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QUEST MEANS BUSINESS
Joe Biden Speaks Out on Ukraine Controversy; CNN: Nancy Pelosi Expected to Announce a Formal Impeachment Inquiry Against President Trump; U.K. Supreme Court Rules Parliament Suspension was Unlawful. Aired 3-4p ET
Aired September 24, 2019 - 15:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
RICHARD QUEST, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST, QUEST MEANS BUSINESS: Sixty minutes before the end of trading on Wall Street. It's been down for most of the
session. We'll get to why there was an early rally which dwindled by lunchtime, and we've been down for most of the day.
The markets and now the reasons why. Donald Trump is facing a potential impeachment inquiry, and that sent stocks on to the roller coaster ride.
Britain's Boris Johnson is preparing for his U.N. speech after being told he gave unlawful advice to Her Majesty the Queen. The head of WeWork is
looking for a new office, stepping down as CEO.
Tonight, live from London. It is Tuesday, the 24th of September, I am Richard Quest in the U.K., of course, and I mean business.
Good evening, tonight two world leaders and two powerful nations and each one facing a moment of reckoning in their first term in office. The
British Prime Minister, on the one hand, Boris Johnson and the U.S. President Donald Trump on the other.
Now the men seemed in good spirits, jollying each other along when they met at the U.N. earlier. It was almost the Don and Boris Show. Yet Mr.
Johnson is reeling from a historic Supreme Court ruling in Britain this morning. And Mr. Trump may be facing an official Impeachment Inquiry
within hours, if not days.
We've learned that Donald Trump plans to release the transcript of his call with the Ukrainian President, at the center of the calls. And if you look
at the way the stocks moved off their session lows, let's begin in Washington with the story.
Donald Trump has responded to the growing calls for his impeachment by saying he will release the transcript of a phone call between himself and
the new leader of Ukraine. In a tweet from the U.N., he said he would like the unredacted transcript with President Zelensky available tomorrow. And
he said it was a friendly and appropriate call, denying that he put pressure on Zelensky for information or to get information and gather dirt
if you like on the former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter.
No quid pro quo, he claimed, and it was the continuation of the greatest witch hunt of all, so says the President.
CNN's Boris Sanchez is at the White House. Is it an indication that the flames are getting a bit hot that the President having said over the
weekend that he might or he might not release the transcript is now confirming he will?
BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Richard, the President said a number of different things about releasing this transcript. At one point
yesterday, he said that he hoped that reporters would see it. At another point, he said that he didn't want to put this out there because as we
heard from sources inside the White House, this could set a dangerous precedent moving forward for this White House.
Keep in mind, the President has had numerous private conversations with other world leaders like Vladimir Putin and their justification for keeping
it private is sort of nullified here with the release of this transcript. We should also point out that this isn't the full story.
The Democrats and other lawmakers in Congress want to get their hands on this whistleblower's complaint. The initial document that sparked this
entire controversy, and this call between President Trump and his Ukrainian counterpart was only one instance of concern for this whistleblower.
So there is a bigger picture here, and we actually just got word from Adam Schiff's Twitter account -- he is, of course, the Chairman of the House
Intelligence Committee that that whistleblower now wants to testify.
Of course, all of this is happening as growing calls for impeachment has essentially forced Nancy Pelosi to a point where she may move forward on
this. She was actually just doing an interview in which she hinted at some action on that front.
This transcript comes out tomorrow. The President has said that that conversation with the Ukrainian President was perfect. We'll see if it
actually was -- Richard.
QUEST: But from all my overnight reading, people are saying in Washington and those who like yourself who know about this stuff, that a tipping point
has been reached, that this qualitatively feels different in terms of the calls for impeachment. Why so?
SANCHEZ: Well, this is yet another instance of the President sort of trying to normalize behavior that would have sunk just about any other
politician. In this instance, the President has essentially acknowledged that he had a conversation with another world leader about a potential 2020
rival, and he also acknowledged that to some degree, he dangled the possibility of withholding aid.
SANCHEZ: The President has tried to justify that saying that he tried to withhold aid from Ukraine because he wanted other European leaders to pitch
in on their effort to defend Ukraine from Russian intervention, from pressure from Russia. But the timing there is suspect.
Further, this is a mounting case that has been made for Democrats to impeach this President going all the way back to some of his behavior in
trying to tamper with the Russia investigation. The question is ultimately if this will be consequential.
Nancy Pelosi, the House Speaker has argued that going into an election year, it may not be wise to go in the direction of impeachment. However,
it may have reached a tipping point and maybe too far now for her to go backward -- Richard.
QUEST: Good to see you. Thank you, Boris Sanchez at the White House. We're expecting Joe Biden to make his own statement on the matter any
moment now. When that happens, of course, we'll bring it to you soon as we can.
The House Speaker, as Boris was saying, Nancy Pelosi made it clear she was seriously considering whether the President had committed an impeachable
offense, even if she wasn't completely ready to explicitly say so.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): It's really sad to think that our President would perform an impeachable offense. It's hard. You know, it's hard to
just say we've gotten to that place. But what would be an impeachable offense would be that which is proven in an investigation. We have to have
(END VIDEO CLIP)
QUEST: Lauren Fox is on Capitol Hill. And Lauren, the leader -- the House Speaker has resisted so far, the fact that she is seemingly moving, at
least to be more agreeable to the suggestion. Is that very significant in your view?
LAUREN FOX, CNN POLITICS U.S. CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: Well, absolutely, Richard. We have seen such a sea change over the last 24 hours up here on
Capitol Hill when it comes to this question of impeachment. And in part, it is because a large number of these moderate, these frontline freshmen
members have been coming out en mass to support impeachment, arguing that these new revelations about the President and Ukraine are so significant
that it has changed their calculus on whether or not to move forward on impeachment.
They say that if these allegations are true, they think the next step would be to move forward with impeachment. I just want to lay out a little bit
about what is exactly going to be happening up here on Capitol Hill, Richard. In just a little while, all of the Democratic caucus is going to
be meeting with the Speaker and they're going to have a family discussion about next steps, and we expect Nancy Pelosi to make an official statement
at five o'clock on where she wants to go -- Richard.
QUEST: Okay. So, Lauren, help me understand, what's the purpose and point of going for impeachment, when at the moment, there's virtually zero chance
you would get a conviction in the Senate?
FOX: Well, I think that's been the political calculus for a long time. Why go forward with something that could be as politically as contentious
as impeachment, given the fact that the Republicans control the Senate? We know that we don't expect that it would pass out of the Senate. So what
does that mean exactly?
Well, Democrats in the House are arguing if the President is doing something wrong, why do we have an impeachable offense if we are not going
to be willing to actually move forward with impeachment? They're saying that at some point, you have to put those politics aside -- Richard.
QUEST: What's the feeling there? I mean, never mind the sort of the -- what's the raw emotion that you can feel? You work there every day.
What's the emotion that you're feeling in Congress?
FOX: it just feels significantly different than it has in the previous six months. I mean, this day feels very different than I would say, even the
day that the Mueller report came out. There's anticipation, of course when that report was getting ready to be released, but this is different.
This is moderate members who are on the front lines of the reelection for the House Democrats and they are saying, now is the time to move forward.
I think that it's very hard to ignore that there's been a major shift up here.
QUEST: Lauren, we'll need you more in the days ahead to help us understand that shift and talk more about it. Thank you.
Now in London, well, a stunning ruling from the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom and the stunning defeat for the Prime Minister Boris Johnson. The
Supreme Court says his suspension of Parliament was unlawful and is now void.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LADY HALE, U.K. SUPREME COURT PRESIDENT: The decision to advise Her Majesty to prorogue Parliament was unlawful because it had the effect of
frustrating or preventing the ability of Parliament to carry out its constitutional functions without reasonable justification.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
QUEST: The Prime Minister says he will follow the judgment. He strongly disagrees with it. Boris Johnson is due to address the U.N. General
Assembly in the coming hours, anytime now, and then he flies home. He is unlikely to be home in time for the sitting of Parliament, which is due to
take place tomorrow morning at 11:30 London.
QUEST: Today's defeat has not changed his insistence that the U.K. will leave the E.U. on October 31st. Even as the opposition leaders are calling
on Boris Johnson to resign.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BORIS JOHNSON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: Frankly, I think we need to get on with Brexit. That's the overwhelming view of the British people, whether
they are ready to leave or remain they want to get this thing done by October 31st. And that's what we're going to do.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: That was a very nasty question from a great American reporter.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
QUEST: Bianca is with me here in London. Nic Robertson is at the United Nations. We start with you, Nic. I suspect the Prime Minister was not at
all fazed by that particular question than the President was.
More importantly, he gives his speech or what? He hooves to home as fast as possible.
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: It looks that way, doesn't it? I mean, he -- ideally, he would be there at 11:30 a.m. U.K.
time tomorrow, as soon as the Parliament opens its doors. Look, they are following wind, and you don't get that going -- flying back to London very
He could be back there just about by then if he gives a speech about 9:00 p.m. in the evening here. He is number 37 out of 38 speakers today. These
things as you know, very well drag on. I guess he could squeak in.
One wouldn't expect him to cut things out of it just to pick up a couple of minutes on the aircraft, and one would expect him to lay out the points
that he is going to lay out and we've heard those today and that is, he is sticking to his guns.
QUEST: All right. Stay with me. Bianca, how significant is all of this and what's happened to them? It is high drama, and it's of constitutional
significance in the United Kingdom. But does it change the Brexit scenario?
NOBILO: All it might do that will tangibly impact what we see in the coming days is make it harder for the Labour Party and Jeremy Corbyn to
deny Parliament a vote of no confidence in Boris Johnson because Jeremy Corbyn keeps saying that Boris Johnson is not fit for office. He has now
been shown to have acted unlawfully by the Supreme Court.
The other minor parties within the U.K. Parliament want to see a vote of no confidence, and Jeremy Corbyn has thus far not wanted to do that because
there's a chance that if Boris Johnson was toppled in such an event, that he wouldn't be the leader that was chosen to take over anything with
QUEST: Nic, and it's very -- there's never a good time to be at a political crisis when you're outside the country like this, but he was
sitting next to the U.S. President in some bizarre, Don -- Donald and Boris show, as they exchanged quips about who has the most Supreme Court rulings
ROBERTSON: Yes, Donald Trump said, you know, he was seven nil down at one point with the Supreme Court, but almost don't worry, because if you keep
going forward, he said, I started winning, and then there have been a lot of wins from there. Of course, Boris Johnson has yet to turn that corner.
Yes, look, it was very chummy. The ideal partner for Boris Johnson at this moment, somebody who can, you know, slap him on the back, smile at the
camera, tell journalists that they're stepping out of line.
Look, Boris Johnson is going to -- he is here. He is going to stick to his guns. He is going to make his points in his messages here. He has been
able to do that. It has been advantageous to be out of the U.K. so that he can speak about slightly different issues while he is here. He would be so
battered and dogged when he gets home to the U.K. All the questions would be very, very Brexit-oriented, Brexit-focused in detail.
So this is an opportunity, and plus, he is on the world stage. You know, he can speak about the bigger philosophy, the bigger vision he gave us, the
philosophy on, you know, on essentially, you know, how nations work today. He talked about how Britain just to diverge a little bit here, he talked
about Britain who invented the underground train. The United States invented the brake and that was how great metropolises were built.
You know, it gives him the opportunity to do that, and maybe it makes him feel good.
QUEST: Nic Robertson, you will be -- at the United Nations watching events there for us. Thank you.
Bianca, the judges of the Supreme Court were pretty dismissive.
NOBILO: Well, they were and it was unanimous. This seems to have surprised a lot of people. The certainty, the fact that it was put in such
sharp relief, black and white. There's no wiggle room here for the Prime Minister.
And it is difficult to tell what Parliament does now with this. It is quite telling that the order paper, I know that you're always a fan of
collecting them for tomorrow, is basically blank.
So it just has prayers at the top and then urgent questions, if any. The rest of it is blank. Usually it's reams and reams of paper. That just is
a perfect symbol for the fact that nobody knows what is going to happen next.
QUEST: How's "The Brief"?
NOBILO: "The Brief."
QUEST: Congratulations. It launched last night.
NOBILO: It was a success. Thank you.
QUEST: A warm welcome to the schedule.
NOBILO: Thank you very much. We will be back in about an hour and 45 minutes.
QUEST: Oh, if the show do better than I do, they'll have -- thank you.
NOBILO: Thanks, Richard.
QUEST: Thank you. President Trump has called out China at the United Nations. Unusual to talk about trade in such pejorative terms about one of
the world's superpower. That's what he did, accusing Beijing of gaming the system.
And there's a switch up at WeWork, the Chief Executive steps down. The company is trying to get its IPO back on track.
QUEST: Breaking News to bring you. The U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will announce formal impeachment inquiries according to multiple sources on
Capitol Hill. The announcement is due to be made two hours from now. Remember, we've just been talking about that with Boris Sanchez at the
White House and Lauren Fox who said from what was happening on the Hill so far, it felt different. There seems to be a greater atmosphere towards
Now, we now can say Pelosi is expected to make that announcement, in fact, just as Bianca Nobilo, she had started with "The Brief." We will obviously
be in Washington and bring it to you.
To Wall Street. U.S. markets are down. They are off the lows. Now, the reason they're off the lows is because Donald Trump said he would release
the transcript of that conversation. They have language below these levels.
And the reason they were down, trade and China's trade practices and the way the President was so bellicose against China and its trading regime.
He is calling for foreign and reciprocal trade with U.S. partners, and he is slamming nations that he says are acting in very bad faith.
It was at the U.N. G.A. when all of this took place, and the President took a particular aim at China. Justice against the country and accused Beijing
of gaming the system.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: ... not only has China declined to adopt promised reforms, it has embraced an economic model dependent on massive market barriers, heavy
state subsidies, currency manipulation, product dumping, forced technology transfers and the theft of intellectual property and also trade secrets on
a grand scale.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
QUEST: Clare is with me in New York, what do you make of it?
CLARE SEBASTIAN, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Richard, I had to look back at his past U.N. speeches and how he has referred to this dispute and
the issues with China in the past. And this definitely was a step change. Not only did he dedicate more time to it, it was about four or five
minutes, but he really amped up the rhetoric.
And I think it's interesting looking at that clip that you just played. He listed the barriers, the market barriers that China has put up as he sees
it, and those really are the sticking points in the negotiation with China. Those are the structural issues that the U.S. wants changed and that China
has so far resisted. These are the major reasons why we don't yet have a trade deal.
But Richard, it's not just what he said, it's the timing of it. We've just wrapped up deputy level talks in Washington. We were told by the Treasury
Secretary and by the U.S.T.R. that they were productive, so that fueled a little bit of optimism.
But going into the principal level talks in October, it seems that this rhetoric has now created some skepticism certainly in the markets that
there will be any progress these talks going forward.
QUEST: You watch the markets closely. Let's just circle around on this. The ability of the markets to withstand an impeachment inquiry. Clare,
now, we're in uncharted territory, well, in the sense for this presidency.
We will obviously have to go look back and see what happened during the Clinton presidency with those impeachment -- but it's different even then,
because the facts and the nature of the presidency are difficult. What's your feeling?
SEBASTIAN: Well, I think it's going to be a serious issue for the markets. No one wants to see that kind of, you know, potential power vacuum and that
kind of uncertainty, even if it doesn't eventually lead to any kind of you know, impeachment proceedings. The uncertainty around it is going to
rattle these markets, especially, Richard, given the context.
They're already very worried about trade. We have warnings of global recession. We have warnings of potential U.S. recession sparked by that
trade war, so the markets are already really on a knife edge over this.
Although, I have to point out still that we are within shouting distance of record highs on these markets. So despite the volatility that we're
seeing, they are still pretty high, up about 30 percent since Trump's election.
QUEST: Clare Sebastian. Clare, thank you. Now, it is reported that Boris Johnson, the British Prime Minister has spoken to the Queen after today's
Supreme Court ruling that said he unlawfully advised her to prorogue Parliament.
We don't know what the conversation, obviously, and we don't know whether it was a call of an apology. Whatever it was, the Brexit realities have
not changed. The balance of power remains unchanged. The views of parliament on a Brexit deal unchanged. Boris Johnson's position unchanged,
and the E.U.'s position -- join in with me -- unchanged.
What has changed are the chances of each outcome. Here is capital economics. More delays is now 45 percent. No deal, exit at some point 40
percent. But I think perhaps the worrying numbers, at least for the remainers, the exit with a deal, and the U.K. stays in, only come in
together at 15 percent.
In other words, it looks as though more delays is the way forward. Join our conversation. Your phone and your device -- your digital device. And
we go to Joe Biden in the United States.
JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: When I announced I was running for President, I said I believed that the core values of this nation, our very
democracy, was at risk.
And events in recent days have made that even clearer, not only to me, but I think to everyone.
We have a President who believes there's no limit to his power. We have a President who believes he can do anything and get away with it. We have a
President who believes he's above the law. Pursuing the leader of another nation to investigate a political opponent to help win his election is not
the conduct of an American President.
The allegations that blocked hundreds of millions of dollars -- that he blocked hundreds of millions of dollars in congressionally approved aid to
another country -- and this is an allegation -- unless he agreed to smear a political opponent, is not the conduct of an American President.
Denying Congress the information which it is constitutionally entitled to and obstructing its efforts to investigate actions is not the conduct of an
American President. It is an abuse of power. It undermines our national security. It violates his oath of office, and it strikes at the heart of
the sworn responsibility of the President -- a President has to put national interests before personal interest.
I knew, when I decided to run, this President would attack me and anyone else who he thought would be a threat to his winning again. Well, that's
what he does. That's what he's always done.
BIDEN: And know that, even though every reputable publication that has looked at the charge that has been made against me, and they found them
baseless and untrue and without merit, that's not about to stop him.
I can take the political attacks. They will come and they will go, and in time, they will soon be forgotten.
But if we allow a President to get away with shredding the United States Constitution, that will last forever.
Too many people, too many good, decent people have taken an oath to this nation and given their lives over the past 243 years to let that happen.
Too many people are serving this nation right now and honoring the oath they have taken to let that happen.
This isn't a Democratic issue or a Republican issue. It is a national issue. It is a security issue.
It is time for this administration to stop stonewalling and provide the Congress with all the facts it needs, including a copy of the formal
complaint made by the whistleblower.
And it is time for the Congress to fully investigate the conduct of this President.
The President should stop stonewalling this investigation and all the other investigations into his alleged wrongdoing.
Using its full constitutional authority, Congress, in my view, should demand the information it has a legal right to receive.
If the Congress does not -- if the President does not comply with such a request from the Congress, if he continues to obstruct Congress and flout
the law, Donald Trump will leave Congress, in my view, no choice but to initiate impeachment.
That would be a tragedy, but a tragedy of his own making.
I have always believed -- and still do -- that America is a truly special and unique nation, better than any other nation in history. We have made
the experiment of self-government work. We have always been a beacon to other countries around the world.
We know who Donald Trump is. It is time to let the world know who we are. Thank you very much.
QUEST: So, Joe Biden there talking about the President and Ukraine and the controversy involving Ukraine. He says this is not the conduct of a
President describing it as an abuse of power.
And then he talked about himself and his own family saying that they were big enough to be able to withstand this, and it would soon be over for
But if we allow our President to shred the Constitution, it will last forever, he said, but -- but, he did not go so far as I could hear as to
say, he actually wanted to go for impeachment. Now, he wants an investigation into it. And if that investigation proves that there was
wrongdoing or at least gives the allegation of wrongdoing, then you go for impeachment.
It significant that the former Vice President has said this is nailing his colors to the mast. We'll talk about it later in the program.
Also in the program, Boris Johnson is under pressure. Calls for the Prime Minister to resign. He acted unlawfully. A member of a legal team that
fought Mr. Johnson's government at the Supreme Court, after the break.
QUEST: Breaking news on CNN. The Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden has been speaking on the controversy
involving Ukraine and President Trump. Stephen Collinson is here.
As I listen to him, to the Vice President or former Vice President, he gave a strong argument against the actions President Trump is alleged to have
done, but stopped short of calling for impeachment now.
STEPHEN COLLINSON, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Yes, Richard, and I think in many ways that is the prudent thing to do politically. And we are now
entering a very grave national moment in the United States. Impeachment was only conducted three times in the first 220 years of U.S. history.
Only two presidents were actually impeached and had a Senate trial. We're now looking at perhaps going to -- down this road for the second time in 20
years following the impeachment of Bill Clinton at the end of the 1990s. That is what you would expect from a president, someone with presidential
So, I think that's the reason why Biden is being circumspect here. And of course, we don't know exactly all the details. But what has been happening
today is that Democrats, including Joe Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi have been making political calculations that the political change, the
calculation is changing so quickly that impeachment now is not just a possibility, it almost seems like a likelihood. And it's incredible how
quickly this has all unfolded.
QUEST: But is there a real risk here that when we get the transcript, it will be some form of vague, you know, will no one with me of this
troublesome priest-type of thing. Never actually say, hey, would you go and have a dig around in the files. Not like, you know, I mean, you know,
I remember Bill Clinton and the whole thing of looking through his Oxbridge files in the U.K. that the British government were asked to do. Is it
going to be more circumspect?
COLLINSON: Yes, and I think that's what the White House must be banking on with this high-stakes gamble of releasing the transcript of a conversation
with a foreign leader which is very unusual. It was interesting in the tweet in which the president announced this.
He argued that there was no quid pro quo. Which seems to suggest that he believes there is nowhere on that transcript where he is telling the
president of Ukraine, look, I will not give you $400 million in military aid unless you open an investigation into Joe Biden.
Now, Democrats will say that it doesn't matter. A president has abused his power if he's trying to get a foreign leader to target a political
opponent. It looks to me that where the White House wants this fight to be is over the question of, was there a direct quid pro quo?
That's the kind of fuzzy area which you're talking about. And of course, the president doesn't always speak in complete sentences. We could get a
QUEST: Right --
COLLINSON: Disjointed transcript, and there may not be the evidence that while it may convince the Democrats to go for impeachment, it may not
convince, it may not be a clear-cut case that will convince the American public --
QUEST: Yes --
COLLINSON: That this is the right thing to do.
QUEST: I was watching the Vice President -- the former Vice President obviously closely. I mean, he's got gravitas. And he certainly presented
it in a sort of presidential fashion where -- but there's no passion in the way he speaks these days. Is there, he -- I mean, as far as I'm being
cruel about it, it's not exactly riveting stuff watching him deliver this.
COLLINSON: You've put a finger on a point that a lot of Democrats talk to about privately, especially when you go to campaign trail rallies of people
like his main competitors in the Democratic race. Elizabeth Warren for example, especially, given the fact that she's emerging as his biggest
I think what the Biden people would tell you is this is the Vice President, the former Vice President showing presidential temperament, the kind of
presidential temperament and circumspect nature that's been missing from the Oval Office --
QUEST: Right --
COLLINSON: For the past two and a half years. He knows that he's auditioning for the role of president. His entire campaign has based on
the fact that he has got presidential temperament and Donald Trump doesn't have it. So, in many ways, we're watching the main point of the Biden
campaign, and potentially a preview of the 2020 general election campaign playing out right in front of our eyes today.
QUEST: Thank you, good to see you as always, Stephen, thank you. Now, returning to other top stories, the businesswoman who brought the case
against the British government and its decision to suspend parliament says Boris Johnson cannot ignore the enormity of today's Supreme Court verdict.
Gina Miller told CNN no Prime Minister should be able to shut down parliament at will.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GINA MILLER, ANTI-BREXIT CAMPAIGNER: The Prime Minister is now trying to downplay this, and somehow saying that he disagrees with the highest court
in the land and the most senior judges, 11 of the most senior judges. And he must not be allowed to downplay this.
Because this is a significant moment in that, no Prime Minister has ever used their office to do this. No Prime Minister has illegally advised the
queen on actions that should be taken. So, I mean, this is absolutely fundamental to our constitution, this judgment.
Is that parliament is sovereign and he cannot or in fact any Prime Minister cannot just close down or shut down parliament just because parliament
disagrees with them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
QUEST: James Libson is with me, the executive partner at Mishcon de Reya; the firm that represented Gina Miller. Good to see you, sir. As I read
the judgment, it was very little case law at this level of the prerogative. And I was fascinated to see the judges going back to the case of
proclamations, active union, 15 cases from the 1600, 1700s. So, although statute law, statute law, but new case law was made today.
JAMES LIBSON, EXECUTIVE PARTNER, MISHCON DE REYA: Absolutely. There was no case law for them to base a decision on. But they went back to first
principles, and lady Justice Hale made it very clear when she was speaking -- delivering the judgment earlier today, that it was a case that was
actually fundamental and pretty basic principles and they drew their decision from that.
QUEST: But those constitutional principles that she drew up on, which were parliamentary supremacy, that the Prime Minister had infringed that. But
if this idea that of the remedy that she -- she didn't just simply say it was unlawful, she said it was void, were you surprised?
LIBSON: Well, I don't know if you've been following the case carefully. But in the final day of the case, last Thursday when there was a lot of
discussion about remedy and the court seemed to be struggling about the remedy. And they found a solution, not particularly creatively, I think
it's the logical solution that they found in saying that it was void and they don't need a remedy because the remedy is that the prorogation was
never made in the first place, it didn't happen.
It is -- very floridly she described the piece of paper being a blank piece of paper when it was marched into parliament. And there was -- and
therefore it never took place.
QUEST: Has it -- it hasn't changed the Brexit scenario one shot?
LIBSON: No, I'm a lawyer, and my answer to that, it was nothing to do with Brexit. The court made -- it cleared there was nothing to do with Brexit -
QUEST: No, but the court made -- right, but it wasn't done in isolation --
LIBSON: Of course, it's been that --
QUEST: This case was done with a view to positioning parliament so it could do something if necessary against Brexit. But as I look at it at the
moment, the crucial date is still 16th, 17th for the summit, 19th for the letter, asking for an extension.
LIBSON: No, all that's done is allow parliament to scrutinize in the meantime, and that ability had been taken away from parliament up until the
prorogation had -- as it --
QUEST: What do you expect parliament to do with what it's got now? I mean, you've handed without you, but I mean, through your offices, you've handed
parliament -- they're all going to rejoin tomorrow. What are you going to do?
LIBSON: Well, parliament did a lot in the four days before the prorogation that we saw. It got bills passed through parliament in record time. It
hold the government to account, that's not for me. I've done my job. We took the case on, we won the case. It's now for the MPs to do the scrutiny
that they've been seeking to do.
QUEST: What do you expect is the fallout from this? In terms of the re- affirmation -- it's one of these things where everybody who has ever studied law knows that parliament is supreme or parliament is sovereign.
But this sort of stamps it, it reminds everybody in a very graphic way.
LIBSON: Yes, it's very graphic. And I think what's happened is that all of the principles of our constitution have come up butting against each
other. So, we've got the sovereignty of parliament that's come up with the executive extending its powers or seeking to extend its powers and the
judiciary then also coming in.
And in strained times, that's when you see the constitution tested, and we've just seen it done.
QUEST: James, would you agree with me that the system worked?
LIBSON: Right, absolutely.
QUEST: I mean, isn't that really the -- isn't that what you think about from today?
LIBSON: I think --
QUEST: The system worked.
LIBSON: I think we should be celebrating the system. I think the system's come out, it's kept everything in balance, everyone may be angry about
what's going on in our country, but the system has its checks and balances and they're working.
QUEST: Good to see you, sir --
LIBSON: Thank you very much --
QUEST: Thank you very much indeed, thank you. Too little, too late. Two top Volkswagen executives are hit with new charges in the diesel emission
scandal. A German prosecutor says they missed that daring investors. After the break.
QUEST: Volkswagen's chief executive and chairman have been indicted on the charges of market manipulation related to the 2015 diesel emissions scandal
we've talked about so often. It's alleged that the executives delayed telling investors about the financial risks of its emissions cheating.
In a statement, the company rejects the accusations and says the allegations are groundless. The shares are down 2 percent, and that tells
you really, all perhaps you need to know in terms of the way the market views it. Jack Ewing, always good to have you with us, the European
economics correspondent at "The New York Times" joins me.
And it's an odd one this, isn't it? Because the authorities are not saying that these men were responsible. This is a classic, they didn't do
anything about it afterwards.
JACK EWING, EUROPEAN ECONOMICS CORRESPONDENT, NEW YORK TIMES: You know, that's correct. I mean, it's still possible, in Wintercorn, the former
chief executive has been accused of being part of the fraud with the other two executives, which the supervisory board chairman and he is the current
chief executive, you know, just being accused of knowing about it and not doing the right thing.
QUEST: Well, today, what stands to happen to them if convicted?
EWING: Well, the maximum sentence would be five years in prison. I mean, usually, you wouldn't expect the maximum in a case like this, but it's a
serious charge. There's no question about that.
QUEST: For Volkswagen, is there a feeling that this just won't go away. I mean, I have lost track of the number of investigations or damages or the
billions that the company has paid.
EWING: Right, I have trouble keeping track of it myself, Richard. But yes, no, it just keeps going on and this is hitting Volkswagen at a time
when they were really trying to turn the corner. I mean, just a couple of weeks ago, they were unveiling their new electric car which is supposed to
be part of a family of emission-free affordable electric vehicles.
They have a new logo, they were trying to reposition themselves as an environmentally friendly company, and this is obviously a setback for all
QUEST: Jack, since we have you, let's just switch subjects if we may. I saw Mario Draghi's comments yesterday to the European parliament. You ever
seen them? Basically saying that the economic situation in Europe is much worse -- not that we thought of, feared, but it is much worse.
EWING: There is a lot of stuff to worry about. I mean, you've just been talking about Brexit, that's a big threat to the economy, we've got the
trade war, confidence is very low. The Chinese economy is slowing down which is bad for Europe, particularly Germany, and it kind of comes back to
Because you know, cars are the backbone of the German economy and there's just a lot of stuff hitting the car industry at the moment. And that drags
down the whole European economy.
QUEST: Jack, good to have you as always, thank you for staying with us this evening late, thank you. On the day he may face an official
impeachment inquiry, President Trump is on the world stage, he's pushing America first and telling other leaders to do likewise.
QUEST: And a reminder of the breaking news tonight. CNN has learned Nancy Pelosi; the U.S. House Speaker will announce a former impeachment inquiry
into Donald Trump. Multiple sources are telling us that on Capitol Hill. She just made the announcement just over an hour from now, of course, we'll
bring it to you as and when she speaks.
Donald Trump meanwhile made his third appearance at the U.N. annual assembly of the U.N. And his speech this year was more forceful, declaring
the importance of what he called the national foundations of the free world. Calling on countries to reject globalist thinking -- wise leaders
put their own people first, he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The future does not belong to globalists. The future belongs to patriots. The future belongs to
sovereign and independent nations who protect their citizens, respect their neighbors and honor the differences that make each country special and
(END VIDEO CLIP)
QUEST: Guy Ryder is with me, Director General at the ILO, International Labor Organization. Do you agree with any of what Donald Trump said?
GUY RYDER, DIRECTOR GENERAL, INTERNATIONAL LABOR ORGANIZATION: Well, I think what we saw at the General Assembly today, Richard, is a sort of a
clash of two sets of ideas. One is as you've heard, the idea that somehow, international cooperation, multilateral organizations are in contradiction
to national interests, the will of the people as it were.
And on the other hand, you've got the idea that if we're really going to make some sort of an impression on the global challenges we all face, you
know, international cooperation is an absolute pre-condition. And that there is not a contradiction between the national interests and this type
of international cooperation which in my view we so badly need.
QUEST: Yes, but Donald Trump's argument is extremely persuasive, and it indeed has persuaded electorates not only in the United States, but Brexit
in Brazil, you know, this could go on in Italy. You're losing the argument for globalists, Guy.
RYDER: I mean, there's some high-profile examples of multilateralism under pressure. I don't think that should lead us to believe that the argument
is lost. And if -- I think anybody who listened to the Secretary-General of the United Nations this morning, a terrific speech.
I think he made the case most effectively for why putting your own people first, I don't know any leader who came to the United Nations without the
interest of his own people foremost in his or her minds. But most of them know that promoting those interests is entirely compatible. No, it's not a
It's entirely compatible with his collective effort to address -- be it climate change, be it the global economy, be it the trade situation,
Richard. So, I don't think -- we're under pressure, there's no doubt about that and no sense in denying it. But the argument is not lost.
QUEST: But Guy, if the U.S. says, its president says, look, we have been taken advantage of, China has ridden a coach in four -- through the global
trading system, having agreed to join the WTO, it's barely followed any of the rules.
RYDER: Yes --
QUEST: Surely, he's right to call attention to that. But if you leave it to the WTO and everything else, nothing gets done.
RYDER: Well, one thing is for sure, Richard, nothing is getting done at the World Trade Organization right now because they are victims of this
impasse, this confrontation that's taking place between the world's big powers. But look, multilateralism, international cooperation is predicated
on having international rules.
And that means everybody, it's really what you've been talking about from the Supreme Court ruling in the U.K. The rules apply to us all, now be you
ever so great, you play by the same rules, and if you can't make that stick, you've got a problem. That's true.
QUEST: But I'm --
RYDER: But there's a --
QUEST: But I'm reminded of that phrase the devil has the best tunes. And let me make it clear, I'm not describing the U.S. President in those terms.
I am saying though, that what you would say is the nationalist argument, the heresy of nationalism that he calls patriotism.
These are exceptionally persuasive arguments, when the turgidness of multilateralism comes up against it.
RYDER: Yes, I mean, there's certainly, it's an imperative on people like myself who work in the international system to make it work, not to be so
turgid, not to be so slow. Not to speak in a language its ordinary people don't relate to. These are real challenges that we face.
But you say the devil's got the best tunes, just take a look over our shoulder at history and see when the tunes of nationalism, isolationism
have worn out. We haven't really come very well out of those situations, have we?
So, we have to win the battle of ideas, I don't think it's a case of patriots taking on globalists. I don't know really what the, you know, the
definitions of those terms are. I'm a very pragmatic sort of a guy, I know, does it work? And the answer is, taking over the long-term,
international cooperation, multilateralism works.
It's delivered for the United States as much as it's delivered for any other country. The benefits have not been evenly distributed across
QUEST: Right --
RYDER: That's for sure and that's something we also need to look at.
QUEST: You know, I was in Sri Lanka until just last night. I flew back this morning --
RYDER: Yes --
QUEST: Great country, wonderful time, amazing.
QUEST: But you see there, the policies -- I mean, you do see income inequality as do you in all emerging --
RYDER: Absolutely --
QUEST: And developing nations --
RYDER: Yes --
QUEST: And I question how much progress we're making.
RYDER: We're not. I mean, I think one of the drama and one of the biggest indictments of the way we've run the global economy in recent years has
been this explosion of inequalities. I put it in the plural --
QUEST: Yes --
RYDER: And so long as we don't answer that, people are going to react in a way that they are reacting. This is a fertile territory if you like or
terrain, upon which populist arguments, you know --
QUEST: Right --
RYDER: Gain credence, and you're absolutely right. If we don't start --
QUEST: Right --
RYDER: Protecting that --
QUEST: Thank you --
RYDER: Better, it's not going to work.
QUEST: Guy, let me apologize for not being with you in person, I was on my way back here and it was Brexit over here -- well, you get the idea, sorry
that I'm not there to shake hands and say thank you very much for joining us. We will take a profitable moment after the break.
QUEST: Tonight's profitable moment. As I said, I was in Sri Lanka and late last year in that country, they had a constitutional crisis when the
president tried to fire the Prime Minister and it was the Supreme Court of that country that said no, that was illegal and that decision could not
And then in this country too, we have a case where a Prime Minister tries to do something unlawful, and it is the Supreme Court today that stepped in
and said no, you can't do that, and we'll reverse the decision.
What do I take from all of that? There will be those who say judges stretching their powers too far, separation of powers, what business is it
of the judiciary. But anybody who has taken the time to read lady Justice Hale's carefully thought-through judgment will realize that it really is
the judges at the highest level that have the integrity, caliber, intellectual thought to work through these issues.
And that's why we give them the responsibility, and that's why you've got to be careful who you choose as your top judges. And that's QUEST MEANS
BUSINESS for tonight, I am Richard Quest in London --
Whatever you're up to in the hours ahead, I hope it's profitable, the bell is ringing, the day is done.