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Live Coverage of Sen. Lindsey Graham; Sen. Chuck Schumer Statement on Senate Floor; Donald Trump Press Conference. Aired 10:30- 11a ET
Aired September 25, 2019 - 10:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: -- Mueller investigation, correct? And so one of the things that Durham is looking into is the role of countries, including Ukraine, in providing intelligence that became part of that investigation.
So let's just, again, reiterate what just -- what I just said. That they're no longer looking into this phone call as a potential violation by President Trump. However, they are still looking into whether or not Ukraine provided any intelligence that became part of the investigation, that we then became known -- it became known as the Mueller investigation.
POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR, NEWSROOM: Jeffrey Toobin, it sounds like what Evan is saying here is that this is the end of the line, at least within the Justice Department. And the only way to hear more, and to compel more answers of all the questions you laid out, is for them to testify --
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: Correct. And --
HARLOW: -- and answer these questions.
TOOBIN: ... this is all, now, part of an impeachment investigation. I mean, just, you know, to not bury the lede. I mean, the question here is, does this phone call constitute an abuse of power by the president? Does his asking for a favor -- that's the word the president used, not the word I use -- which is, gathering dirt on my political opponent.
HARLOW: Multiple favors.
TOOBIN: Multiple favors, all related to his political fortunes. Is that an impeachable offense?
Now, there are a constellation of questions around that. Is it a crime? That, Evan says the attorney -- the Justice Department has concluded it's --
HARLOW: Not -- TOOBIN: -- not a crime. It doesn't have to be a crime to be an impeachable offense, that's a well-established, going back to the framers. But there are people who will not necessarily take the Justice Department's conclusion at face value. That is something that's going to be investigated by others.
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: And the other thing we have to keep in mind is, the only reason we're reading this is because of a whistleblower's complaint that involved the president's relationship with Ukraine. We don't know the full extent of that complaint yet. That's something Democrats still say they want to see. They said seeing this transcript would not be enough.
So we don't know that that complaint only stemmed from part of this conversation. There could be -- it said there were multiple acts. We don't know exactly what all of those other acts are, we have an idea --
HARLOW: Well --
COLLINS: -- so that's the question, also, going forward. Is, if this is not everything.
HARLOW: What we do know is that that whistleblower wants to speak to Congress.
HARLOW: And wants to speak to the Senate Intelligence Committee.
Asha Rangappa, to you. Your read?
ASHA RANGAPPA, CNN LEGAL AND NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Yes. I just wanted to make a few points about Bill Barr and his involvement. During one of his hearings earlier this year, he was actually asked specifically whether it would be illegal for a candidate in the upcoming election, to receive foreign assistance.
RANGAPPA: And he was very cagey in his answer -- I think you can pull up that clip -- and he was very -- he hesitated and he mentioned very specifically, if it is coming from --
HARLOW: Yes, we'll find it.
RANGAPPA: -- a foreign intelligence service. Yes. So there's that. The other piece is that, remember that just as he is evaluating this criminal referral, he was also assisting the DNI in the legal, you know, advising of whether the complaint should reach Congress. So he's also making this argument --
RANGAPPA: -- for why the entire complaint should be shielded --
HARLOW: I think that's --
RANGAPPA: -- a complaint that involved him.
HARLOW: I think that's a really important connection and point to make, Dana Bash, because it is the case that, you know, the I.G. did not need to go to the Justice Department for their advice on this, right? But did, and was blocked from handing over this information.
All of this, happening within the same few weeks that the Department of Justice is considering this criminal referral having to do with whether or not there was a significant campaign finance violation here.
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. And, look, on the first part of your question, this is in large part because the law is a little bit murky when it comes to the president of the United States. The whistleblower law didn't take into account that it could be blown on the president of the United States. It just didn't.
And so that's why there are -- there's some to-ing and fro-ing and the negotiation over whether Congress can actually get this. Negotiation, I should add, that was kind of ended when the Republican-led Senate said, we need to see that, which was no small thing. You can count maybe on one hand, how many times Republicans in the Senate stood up to this White House, saying, we need to see something, you're wrong about withholding information. This was one of them, so that was a big deal.
But you're absolutely right, that this whole question of whether or not there was something criminal, is out there still.
But I just want to go back to what Jeffrey said and a point I was making earlier. When it comes to impeachment, which is the territory we are in now, that historic move that the speaker made yesterday, that is going to be a determination of elected members of Congress, elected House members.
And they, so many of them that I talked to yesterday, said it is a question of whether or not the president even mentioned the idea of investigating a political opponent in a phone call with a foreign leader, and he did, according to a White House-released transcript.
HARLOW: Multiple times, and extensively. Kaitlan Collins?
COLLINS: Can I point out that we're going to hear, in the coming hours and days, from allies of the White House, that the president doesn't make an explicit ask about aid here and the investigation into Joe Biden.
But if you're reading between the lines, on page two at the end, the Russian -- or, excuse me, the Ukrainian president says to the president, "I would also like to thank you for your great support in the area of defense." That means aid, military aid. That's what this aid package was that, just days before this call, the president had instructed Mick Mulvaney to tell the Pentagon to freeze while they're reviewing it.
He said -- so Zelensky says, "I'd like to thank you for your great support in the area of defense." The next thing --
TOOBIN: But just read the next sentence, read the next sentence. It --
COLLINS: -- no, let me -- let me finish. I'm making my -- let me make the point.
TOOBIN: -- I'm sorry, I apologize.
COLLINS: The next line from Donald Trump is, "I would like you to do us a favor, though."
COLLINS: So they --
HARLOW: So I'm going to read it --
COLLINS: -- it is not explicit, but that --
HARLOW: All right.
COLLINS: -- is a pretty implicit ask from the president.
HARLOW: I'm glad you pointed it out. To Jeffrey, your point. I'm going to read that whole chunk for people, OK?
TOOBIN: Because it adds to Kaitlan's point --
HARLOW: It adds to her --
TOOBIN: -- it's even better, yes.
HARLOW: -- very important point. Quote -- this is President Zelensky on the phone with President Trump -- "I would also like to thank you for your great support in the area of defense. We are ready to continue to cooperate for the next step. Specifically, we are almost ready to buy more Javelins from the United States for defense purposes."
President Trump, immediately thereafter, quote, "I would like you to do us a favor, though, because our country's been through a lot and Ukraine knows a lot about it." That's when the president -- Jeffrey Toobin -- goes on to talk about CrowdStrike, which Kaitlan laid out what that is.
Let me get John King in here and I'll come right back to you. John King, that is when the president goes into his series of asks. JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Right. And so the
question, here, Poppy, is we know where the Democrats are going here. They are going to say this call -- again, that the president has described as harmless, as beautiful, as perfect -- has the president of the United States raising the issue of aid, the president of Ukraine raising the issue of aid, and the president then saying, I need a favor. And the president, repeatedly saying, why don't you dig up some dirt on Joe Biden and cooperate with my personal attorney and the attorney general of the United States.
Democrats are going to say they have all the bricks they need, there, to lay the foundation of a president abusing his power, undermining American national security and using his position -- and potentially even invoking the name of his attorney general, not just his private attorney -- to put pressure on a foreign government to help him for political -- domestic political gain. The Democrats will have their bricks.
My question, now, is, as this information comes out, what do the Republicans say? Because there has been --
HARLOW: I was just going to ask you that.
KING: -- a lack -- there's been a lack of courage in this town --
KING: -- for most Republicans, when it comes to standing up to out- of-bounds behavior by the president.
HARLOW: Well --
KING: But Dana made a very important point, just a few minutes ago. This did not happen by accident. Transparency is great. Give the administration credit for releasing this, but not too much credit.
They did it because even though most Republican senators -- Mitt Romney's the one big exception -- most Republican senators are silent on this. Behind the scenes, they're talking to their friends at the White House, they're being told -- they were told before this release, there's some troubling information in here. And they privately don't want to get caught up in it.
The question is, do those private concerns start to become public? That's when an impeachment snowball, that right now is all Democrats, plus maybe Justin Amash, could get bigger.
HARLOW: And, Dana, the way -- to John's point, the way that many of those Republican members of Congress in the last, you know, 24 hours have answered those questions, that ever single anchor and journalist has asked them, well, what if there is a there, there? What if there is that connection? Would you be comfortable with that? None of them have answered and said yes, right?
BASH: I would say --
HARLOW: -- they've either said no or they've skirted.
BASH: -- yes. And I would say now (ph) --
HARLOW: So what would they say to --
BASH: -- yes, I would say, to you and John, don't hold your breath. We're already seeing statements from top Republicans on key committees, saying, you see? There's no quid pro quo. Intentionally missing the point. I got a call earlier today from somebody who saw the transcript, saying, among other things, there's no quid pro quo, again besides the point.
So what you are seeing -- and you will continue to see -- from the president's allies on Capitol Hill and even more important from his campaign and his political operatives, is, this is why you elected this guy. You elected this guy to talk tough to world leaders, to root out corruption.
I'm not kidding. As crazy as this sounds, what I'm saying, I'm just telling you what the strategy is from Republicans, and what you're going to see. And that is an attempt to get the Republican base riled up --
HARLOW: Dana, let me jump in.
HARLOW: Republican Senator Lindsey Graham is speaking on the Hill.
SEN LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC), CHAIRMAN, JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: -- they investigated his political opponent, you would be very disappointed. That does not exist.
So, from my point of view, to impeach any president over a phone call like this would be insane.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But why underwhelming? In that transcript, he says, "favor," he asks him to work with the attorney general, Barr, going forward, on looking into getting dirt about Joe Biden.
GRAHAM: I hope he will. I hope we will look at the corruption problem in the Ukraine. And I think the president pointed out, in the firing of the prosecutor, maybe he deserved to be fired. Maybe he was corrupt, I don't know, but an obvious conflict of interest.
Joe Biden is a very good friend, but we can't have a country where one side looks like at and the other side does not. So here's the point. When Vice President Biden called for the prosecutor to be fired -- and we will cut off all aid -- there is a conflict if, in fact, your son is on a board of a company being investigated. I think that's something that somebody should look at here.
The Ukrainian president did not feel threatened. He was the target of the phone call, he felt fine with what happened. I've read it, just like you have. You can make your own decision. But from a quid pro quo aspect of the phone call, there's nothing there.
Suggesting that the prosecutor may have been fired because of a conflict of interest is something I hope somebody will look at over here, not the firing of the prosecutor. But Vice President Biden is a good man. I've enjoyed a good relationship with him. But I can assure you that if any Republican family member was engaged in conduct like this, they would raise questions.
You can ask for the prosecutor to be fired, if you think he's corrupt and it's in the national interest of the United States, a lot of people felt the guy was corrupt. But the one thing that I think is -- has to be dealt with here, is that the son of the vice president was receiving a lot of money (ph) from the Ukraine, and some of the sources of the funds were under investigation by the prosecutor.
I don't know what the right answer is, I just hope somebody will look at it. And I don't mind the president, bring up the idea, maybe the guy was fired because of a conflict of interest.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But how is it -- but how is it not inappropriate, that the president asked the president of another country to look into a political rival who's running for election, possibly against him if he wins the primary next year?
GRAHAM: I don't know what you looked at. I think it's very appropriate, for the president of the United States, to suggest that you got a corruption problem, and this prosecutor that was fired, maybe it was because he was corrupt, or maybe because he was looking -- looking at something close to America here.
The vice president's son was receiving money from the Ukraine, was on a board of a company that was the subject of investigation --
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), MINORITY LEADER: The nature of President Trump's communications with President Putin, as well as Ukrainian President Zelensky, should be requested and provided, with special focus on the phone call that took place with Mr. Putin a few days after the Zelensky call on July 25th.
The timing of the departures of the United States ambassador to Ukraine and the former director of national intelligence and his principal deputy, must be investigated, as well as the movements of President Trump's personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani: the correspondence between him and the White House, and his interactions with foreign governments.
We must learn what actions President Trump or his aides took to withhold congressionally directed security aid to Ukraine, and why. And more besides.
The answers to these questions, and others, can be pursued by the House committees involved in the impeachment inquiry. And that is precisely what the inquiry is for. The release of the transcript of one of President Trump's calls with President Zelensky, which just came out, will not assuage our concerns or the public's concerns. Based on early reports, it may heighten them.
We must remember: The president was reported to have several calls with President Zelensky over the summer. And his administration has a well-earned reputation for dishonesty, altered facts and incomplete disclosure in public releases.
We need to see the complete, unredacted whistleblower complaint, without further delay. The whistleblower must be allowed to testify without fear of intimidation. And then we must pursue the many relevant avenues of inquiry, that I just described.
Yesterday afternoon, the entire Senate, all 47 Democrats and 53 Republicans, agreed to my resolution, calling for the whistleblower complaint to be transmitted immediately to Congress, a reflection of the seriousness with which these events are viewed on both sides of the aisle.
This was unexpected. In the past, when we've asked to look into President Trump, our Republican colleagues have stonewalled. But, to their credit, they realize the seriousness of this situation, and unanimously agreed to support our resolution.
I hope, I pray it is a harbinger of things to come, where we can look at the facts, not the politics, and come to conclusions. Because without doubt, the White House and the president's congressional allies will rush to call this effort a partisan witch hunt, no matter how serious the allegations or how even-handed the inquiry.
I'd remind everyone that, just yesterday, every Senate Republican agreed that the White House's decision to block the whistleblower complaint from Congress was wrong. There was unanimous, bipartisan agreement in the Senate on that point. Not a single senator objected.
But let me be clear nonetheless, because I know accusations of partisanship are already being written. This inquiry was not taken up for partisan reasons, and it does not pre-judge an outcome.
Our framers, in their wisdom, assigned to one chamber of commerce (sic) the right to accuse. And to the other, the right to judge. The House of Representatives will investigate, and determine whether sufficient evidence exists to accuse the president of an impeachable offense, or impeachable offenses. If it comes to that, the Senate will be the scene of the trial; Senators, the jurors.
We must take our responsibility with the utmost gravity. Our framers, not trusting our liberty to one branch of government alone, afraid of the ever-present danger of tyranny, of an overreaching executive, provided a remedy to Congress, should the executive attempt to subvert or violate the Constitution of the United States.
We are not yet at the stage where any judgments can be made, one way or the other. But I remind my colleagues, today, that if the day should come when we are called upon to carry out our constitutional duty, history will judge whether we did so faithfully or not. History will judge if each of us acted as a solemn juror of democracy, who placed fidelity to the Constitution and our system of government above the narrow considerations of partisan politics.
Now, on another issue, not directly related, but with the same cause, with the same worry, with the same concern -- an overreaching executive, the emergency declaration. The commencing of the impeachment inquiry in the House, while significant, is not the only significant action Congress will take today, nor is it the only action dealing with the president's overreach.
Today, the Senate will vote on President Trump's national emergency declaration, which he is using to steal money from our military in order to fund a border wall.
HARLOW: You just heard from the Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. Before him, you heard from one of the president's closest allies in the Senate, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham.
And, Dana Bash, to you because you were mid-sentence when we jumped over the Lindsey Graham. Exhibit A of what you were just saying --
HARLOW: -- Lindsey Graham, and I quote --
HARLOW: -- "To impeach any president over a phone call would be insane." The parties are laying out their political positions here, and digging in.
BASH: OK. So this is the time when you play the, "Can you imagine if it was President Obama?" game.
HARLOW: OK. Yes, all right.
BASH: Can you imagine if it was President Obama? Would Lindsey Graham be saying that? Would Doug Collins, the ranking Republican member of the Judiciary Committee in the House, be saying effectively what Lindsey Graham said on-camera, he said in a statement.
Or any of the other Republicans we are going to hear, talking from that same song sheet. The answer is no. It just -- it's not. I think we just have to call it what it is, and --
HARLOW: Let's listen to the president, Dana.
HARLOW: There (ph) is the president.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How is there not pressure (ph) President Zelensky? How does the transcript --
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There was no pressure whatsoever. And if you take a look at the Democrats, they went down to see the president of Ukraine. And they asked him for all sorts of things, and don't go with the Republicans, and stay with us, and -- like it's a political war. They shouldn't have done that. That should be an impeachable event, I guess, based on what you're saying.
The Democrats just came out, they went down there, a group of people, some of whom I was dealing with on the gun issue, and they went down, put tremendous pressure on Ukraine.
The president himself just came out with a statement, saying there was absolutely no pressure put on him, and there wasn't. What I do want to see is, I want to see other countries helping Ukraine also, not just us. As usual, the United States helps and nobody else is there. So I want to see other countries helped.
Just so you understand, it's the single greatest witch hunt in American history, probably in history, but in American history. It's a disgraceful thing. The letter was a great letter, meaning the letter revealing the call. That was done at the insistence of myself and other people that read it. It was a friendly letter, there was no pressure.
The way you had that built up, that call, it was going to be the call from hell. It turned out to be a nothing call, other than a lot of people said I never knew you could be so nice.
So part of the problem you have is, you have the fake news, you have a lot of corrupt reporting, you have some very fine reporters and journalists, but you have a lot of corrupt reporters, a lot of corrupt journalists -- I would rake (ph) you right in there, by the way -- and, and --
TRUMP: Excuse me, excuse me, excuse me. Excuse me. So we're having -- if you noticed, the stock market went up when they saw the nonsense. All of a sudden -- the stock market went down very substantially yesterday, when they saw a charge. After they read the charge, the stock market went up very substantially.
We have created the greatest economy in the history of our country, the greatest economy in the world. Had my opponent won, China would right now be the number one economy, by far. And right now, China is way behind us and they'll never catch us if we have smart leadership, way behind.
We've picked up trillions of dollars, and they've lost trillions of dollars. And they want to make a deal, very badly. It could happen, could happen.
TRUMP: It could happen -- it could happen sooner than you think. Our military's rebuilt, our military has never been stronger. When I came in, it was depleted. Our vets are happy. So many great things are happening, and the Democrats feel they're going to lose. We had the highest poll number -- Rasmussen, 53, but they say you could add 10 to it. A lot of people say you could add more than 10 to it, because a lot of people just don't want to talk about it, but they want to vote for Trump.
So I'd just say this. We have the strongest country we've ever had, we have the best economy we've ever had, we have the best unemployment numbers we've ever had, we have the best employment numbers we've ever had. We have, now, almost 160 million people working. That's far more than we've ever had working in our country before. Thank you very much, everybody. Thank you. Thank you.
HARLOW: The president, there, same playbook, different day. Pamela Brown with me at the White House. The president just said, again, just like he did with the Mueller report, this is a witch hunt, there was no pressure, there was a nothing call.
In a moment, I'd like you to read more from that call because the facts matter here more than, perhaps, ever before. He's trying to equate Joe Biden's work with Ukraine on rooting out corruption, with his asks of the president here. They're just not the same, there is no evidence of wrongdoing by Joe Biden or his son, Hunter.
And this is the line from Republicans and from the president, we're going to hear over and over again, and this struck me, what he just said, Pamela. Let me read it to you, OK? The president just said, answering that reporter's question, "If you look at the Democrats, they went down to see the president of Ukraine. They asked him for all sorts of things. Don't go with that, Republicans. Stay with us. It's like a political war. They shouldn't have done that. That should be an impeachable event."
He just said that the Democrats asking the president of Ukraine for something should be impeachable. Look at what he asked the president of Ukraine for, in this transcript.
PAMELA BROWN, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, absolutely, Poppy. You know, you read this transcript, and it is there, in black and white. The president, explicitly asking the Ukrainian president to work with his own attorney general, Bill Bar, and his private attorney, Rudy Giuliani, to investigate his political rival Joe Biden, and his son, Hunter.
Now, the president only mentions Biden one time, but he obliquely references it throughout the conversation, by urging the president of the the Ukraine -- of Ukraine, I should say -- to work with U.S. officials.
Now, here's what he said exactly, on page four of this five-page transcript. "The other thing, there's a lot of talk about Biden's son, that Biden stopped the prosecution and a lot of people want to find out about that so whatever you can do with the attorney general would be great. Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution, so if you can look into it... It sounds horrible to me."
Now, just for context here, as you sort of alluded to, Poppy, the president is making this allegation without backing it up with clear evidence, that Biden had this prosecutor fired because he was looking into the company that his son was on the board of.
There is no evidence to support that allegation, though Biden has said publicly, he wanted this prosecutor in Ukraine fired --
BROWN: -- because he wasn't doing enough to investigate corruption.
HARLOW: And I think, Pamela Brown, it's so important to note, on top of that, that it wasn't just Joe Biden. It was the entire, you know, Western Hemisphere, it was the IMF, that this guy was ineffective at rooting out corruption, that he had to go. Those are the facts --
HARLOW: -- they're out there, the American people have to read them. Because you're going to --
HARLOW: -- hear these talking points that are lies, over and over again.
BROWN: Well, and -- exactly. And just to sort of take a step back here, because Republicans -- and we just heard Lindsey Graham say this -- are really sort of trying to make this point, that there's no explicit quid pro quo here, that the president didn't say, well, we'll give you military aid if you investigate Biden.
But he clearly made -- wanted to make the point, very early on in the conversation, about how much the United States has done for Ukraine. He says the U.S. has been very, very good to Ukraine.
TEXT: Zelensky: "I wanted to tell you about the prosecutor. First of all I understand and I'm knowledgeable about the situation. Since we have won the absolute majority in our parliament, the next prosecutor general will be 100 percent my person, my candidate."
BROWN: And then what's interesting, President Zelensky brought up, thanked him for his great support, the U.S.'s great support, in the area of defense, which is of course military aid.
And then, the president goes on to say, I would like you to do us a favor though. And that is when he brings up the first request, which is to investigate election interference in 2016 --
BROWN: -- making these allegations of Ukrainians working with Democrats.
HARLOW: You know what -- BROWN: Could I just -- yes.
HARLOW: Yes. Pam, look, this thing is only five pages long. Every American should take the time to read this today, and then you decide for yourself.
Jeffrey Toobin, as we wrap up here -- and of course our coverage is going to continue, but -- Lindsey Graham said nothing here, no quid pro quo. You see something very clearly, in this transcript.
TOOBIN: well, you know, going back several minutes ago, when I rudely interrupted Kaitlan --
TOOBIN: -- well, and I want to apologize for that. But the discussion of -- well, first of all, a point that Dana has made several times. Many Democrats say, this is an impeachable offense regardless of whether there is a quid pro quo with the aid.
And one of the Republican talking points -- we heard it from Lindsey Graham -- is that there was no quid pro quo. But there is very strong evidence that there was a quid pro quo here.
The section that Kaitlan was reading was, the Ukrainian president talking about the military aid that he was looking forward to getting from the U.S. government, and then how he was going to spend that money on American weapons. That is the comment that prompts the president to say, "I would like you to do us a favor," which is, give me dirt on my political rivals.
One more technical point. At the very end, what Pam was reading, that quote about Biden, if we could put it back up on the screen. That -- that last line, "Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution, so you can look into it." Can we just put that up on the screen?
HARLOW: It's page four.
TOOBIN: Look at the ellipses there. What is that?
HARLOW: We don't know, because (ph) again --
TOOBIN: Is that -- is that --
HARLOW: The White House has said this is not a verbatim transcript of the discussion.
TOOBIN: But, I mean, that's a pretty important part --
HARLOW: Yes, very.
TOOBIN: -- of the -- and there are several ellipses here, at significant parts. Is that something that was edited out? I don't -- I mean, I'm --
HARLOW: It's a great point.
TOOBIN: -- I don't mean to suggest anything untoward, but if you are looking at this in a, you know, evidentiary way, you certainly would want to know what the context of those ellipses are, both there and throughout the five pages.
COLLINS: And right now, the president is in between meetings with world leaders, that's what he's got going on all day, that's where he was, just speaking there, when he was talking about impeaching Democrats. Often, a tactic we see the president use where, when he's accused of something or blamed with something, he turns it around onto whoever is saying it about him.
He's going to be in these meetings all day. It'll be interesting to see what he thinks of the coverage when he finishes up his day, because he was assured by aides -- and he assured aides that he -- that releasing this was actually going to prove him right. Aides felt confident that there was no smoking gun here, and now you're seeing what Jeffrey just read there, and there are going to be a lot of questions about that.
HARLOW: And, Kaitlan, just do you see the parallel that I saw in the president's answer there, that he said that the Democrats asking of something, a favor from the Ukrainian president, is an impeachable offense?
COLLINS: Which is what the --
HARLOW: His transcript lays out --
COLLINS: -- is saying here. Like Jeffrey was saying, even if he doesn't explicitly say, I'm not going to give you this military aid if you don't conduct this investigation into Joe Biden, the Democrats are saying, just him simply saying, conduct an investigation into Joe Biden, this guy who is running for president against me, is enough for them to move forward with impeachment.
HARLOW: What a development -- two developments. And I think people should not forget, there are two significant things here, Kaitlan. There is this transcript and all of the asks of the president here; the president of Ukraine, after discussing aid. And there is the Department of Justice, saying no on an I.G. referral about a criminal complaint, was this a violation of campaign finance laws; Bill Barr, leading the Justice Department, saying, nothing to see here.
COLLINS: Bill Barr, who pushed for this letter and this transcript to be put out.
HARLOW: Yes. Thank you, Kaitlan. Great reporting.
Thank you all for being with me. I'm Poppy Harlow in New York. Jim and I will see you --