Return to Transcripts main page


Inching Toward Impeachment; Court Ruling A Big Blow For Boris Johnson; On Royal Tour With The Sussexes; U.K. Supreme Court Rules Parliament Suspension Unlawful; Putin And Maduro Skip United Nations General Assembly. Aired 3-3:30a ET

Aired September 25, 2019 - 03:00   ET




ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: Hello and welcome to our viewers joining us from all around the world it is 8:00 a.m. in London, 3:00 p.m. in Hong Kong. I'm Rosemary Church in Atlanta headquarters and this is CNN Newsroom.

Let's get started. The U.S. President inching toward impeachment after Democrats announced an inquiry into that phone calls with the leader of the Ukraine. The British Prime Minister gets back to London to face angry MP's and calls for his resignation.

And hitting the beach with Harry and Meghan, the royal couple on tour in South Africa meeting with community groups and talking to CNN.

Good to have you with us. So, only two presidents in the history of the United States, had been impeached. Andrew Johnson in 1868, and Bill Clinton in 1998, neither one was removed from office, but Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is hoping for a different results with Donald Trump. She announced a formal impeachment inquiry on Tuesday with the U.S. president accused of pressuring Ukraine's president to investigate political rivals Joe Biden and he's son for corruption.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), U.S. HOUSE SPEAKER: The president has admitted to asking the president of Ukraine to take action which would benefit him politically. The actions of the Trump presidency revealed these horrible facts off the president's betrayal off his oath of office, betrayal of our national security, and betrayal of the integrity of our elections.

Therefor today I am announcing the House of Representatives is moving forward with the official impeachment inquiry. The president must be held accountable, no one is above the law.


CHURCH: The White House is preparing to release a whistleblowers complaint about the president's actions. And the president is once again using Twitter to unleash his fury. CNN's Kaitlan Collins has more.


KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: It didn't take long for President Trump to respond to the House Speaker launching that formal impeachment inquiry against him. He was back in his hotel during a break in between his meetings here at the United Nations Summit and within minutes, the president was tweeting, lashing out at the house speaker, accusing Democrats of distracting from his successes here at the United Nations Summit. Even though he himself is focus on the scrutiny over this phone call during his time here while meeting with world leaders.

And then the president said he couldn't believe that Democrats are already moving this fast ahead before the White House even had a chance to release the transcript of that call with Ukrainian, with the Ukrainian president. He tweeted just shortly after it said quote, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo received permission from the Ukrainian government to release the transcript of this phone call. He said quote, they don't know either what the big deal is. He called it a total witch hunt scam by the Democrats.

Now we should note, the president did announce his going to authorize the full release of the unredacted version of that transcript which he said was going to declassified, supposed to come out on Wednesday. But, so far Democrats have said, that's just simply not enough for them. They now want to see this one transcript of the president's phone call with the president of Ukraine, they also want to see this complaint from this whistleblower.

That is really what is leading to these growing momentum, these calls for impeachment, from people who had been hesitant even getting near those calls in the past. The White House essentially said, they had been expecting this, the Trump campaign said, they already prepared a video, of Democrats in the past calling for an impeachment inquiry.

So what is over the next few days to say essentially what Democrats are doing now, it's no different from the investigations they had been doing for the last few days, but of course the president is expected to continue to fire off about this as it goes along. Kaitlan Collins, CNN, travelling with the president, in New York.


CHURCH: James Davis is director of the institute of political science of the University of St. Gallen, he joins me now from Switzerland. Good to have you with us.


CHURCH: So, in the coming hours, the White House will released the full transcript of President Trump's phone call with his Ukraine counterpart, and the whistleblower's complaint might also be release. One source had told CNN, that -- we will delete that when we see it, but all of this coming a day after Nancy Pelosi announced a formal impeachment inquiry into President Trump triggered by Mr. Trump asking a foreign leader to investigate his political rival Joe Biden and his son.


Given the Senate is on likely to vote to impeach the president, where is this all going and what all can be achieved in the end?

DAVIS: What I mean the first thing we need to say is that, words matter. Calling this ongoing investigation or a series of ongoing investigations now an impeachment proceeding matters. Why does it matter? I mean, one could argue that impeachment proceedings have been going on for quite some time, the speaker yesterday pointed out, six committees investigating this president.

But calling it an impeachment proceedings, brings it to a level that the courts has tended to grant a particular deference to. That is to say during the Nixon impeachment hearings, the courts were willing to demand the president to turn over those tapes, that he was claiming were protected by executive privilege, to make the actual conversations of the Oval Office available to the Congress so they could exercise their oversight authority.

And so I think what's happening here is by calling -- by labeling these ongoing investigations now and bringing them under the umbrella of an official impeachment proceedings, we get the Congress in a stronger position, where the White House has to fear that if they stonewall any further, the courts would actually rule against them.

So, I think it has moved the White House, they looks like they going to release some transcripts although I would wonder, what those transcripts look like. I've heard from people who had been in those conversations before the explicit transcripts are not kept, but rather a right up of the telephone conversation. So we might not see transcripts. We might see something like, some notes that summarized of what was said. And of course, much more interesting would be the whistleblower report was made available.

CHURCH: Absolutely, and some critics are asking why Nancy Pelosi did not wait for the release of the phone call transcript. Why do you think she pulled the trigger on this announcement before it's released?

DAVIS: Yes, I mean, I think we've had a lot of experience with this president, who claims that he'll release information or will sit down with special prosecutor or will allow he's Secretary of State or his director of National Intelligence, or his Attorney General to speak before the Congress on ongoing issues of concern. He makes all sorts of promises, but then it never comes about. Somehow he changes his mind.

And so I think with that experience, the speaker probably thought, listen I've just got to take this move. I've got to pull the trigger to force the release of this transcript and force the release of the whistleblower report. I think if she hasn't done, we would probably tomorrow or a day after be hearing yet another reason why the president cannot do so. So, I think she felt she had no choice.

CHURCH: Right and even though that full transcript, or the notes at least of that phone call, with Ukraine's president could be released soon it's only part of the complaint filed by the whistleblower and that we will find out more in the coming hours, if that complain is also release and if the whistleblower ever talk to the intelligence community because we have an indication that may very well happen. When you look at what we know so far, abuse of power may be a quid pro quo, with Ukraine's military funds withheld there, how strong might the case be for impeachment against the president do you think in the end?

DAVIS: Yes, I mean, I think we will have to wait and see how this thing plays out. I think there are certainly numerous issues on which impeachment is warranted, this presidency has been unlawful. This presidency has been untruthful, it has obstructed the rightful article one's responsibilities of the Congress for oversight.

So, I think there's plenty of grounds for impeachment, but at the end of the day impeachment is a political act. And so the question is going to be is the House going to feel it in a strong enough position politically to move forward? And that I think is going to be a function of how both the members of Congress, but also public opinion receives the information that is in the whistleblower report also, what the whistleblower says whoever she or he might be, when they appear before Congress.

There's been an effort to claim that the whistleblower act in itself unconstitutional, with that be a member the intelligence committees has actually worked for the president, therefore cannot charge the president with something. That of course, is something that the courts will have to decide.


But there's one thing that is clear, every officer of the United States government, has sworn an oath to uphold the constitution and that is an oath, that means -- that individual has and responsibility, not only a right, but a responsibility to report illegal wrongdoings, if that what's she or he thinks is taking place. And so whether the whistleblower chooses to do that anonymously or not, it's within their purview. But that person I think is going to appear before Congress whether the president likes it or not.

CHURCH: Yes. We shall wait to see what comes out of this transcript, and perhaps if this the complaint is also made available, we shall see, James Davis, many thanks to for your analysis, I appreciate it.

DAVIS: Thank you, Rosemary.

CHURCH: To Britain now. The Brexit process are now even more complicated with an extraordinary ruling by the U.K. Supreme Court. By unanimous decision, the courts said, the Prime Minister suspension of parliament was unlawful. Boris Johnson address the U.N. general assembly Tuesday, but he cut his visit short to return to London and that is where Hadas Gold joins us with the very latest. Good to see you again, Hadas. So, what can Boris Johnson expect on his return to London?

HADAS GOLD, CNN POLITICS, MEDIA AND BUSINESS REPORTER: Well, we are expecting Boris Johnson to land in the U.K. in the next couple of hours. The big question is whether he will go directly to the House of Commons. Now, when this are actually normally the day for Prime Minister's questions. There's no requirement that he goes to Prime Minister questions, but with parliament being resume and you can't even say it's been recalled, because according to the courts it was never actually suspended.

There will be a lot of clamor to here from Boris Johnson himself. And what we do understand other cabinet ministers could appear and right now the schedule for the House of Commons is pretty notable. I'll hold up the schedule paper right here. This is the entire schedule, all we have right now are prayers and urgent questions and the (inaudible) statements.

Now they will need a lot of prayers today to get to what a sure to be an explosive day, but actually we don't really know what exactly will be coming in terms of actual legislated actions. What we know is especially from the oppositions Labour Party, from Labour MP's and shadow cabinet ministers that their most important priority right now, is making sure that Boris Johnson gets that extension from the European Union to make sure the U.K. does not crash out of the European Union on October 31st, because so far, Boris Johnson has said, do or die, the U.K. will leave, but many in the parliament are very afraid of that no-deal situation.

CHURCH: Yes, and some are calling for Boris Johnson's resignation, but others are a little more cautious. Talk to us about how all of this and the Brexit deadline of course, are playing into Mr. Johnson's political future?

GOLD: Yes, many are calling for Boris Johnson resignation including Jeremey Corbyn, leader of the opposition who would very much like to be Prime Minister himself. However despite those calls for the resignation, there are no plans as of right now to call a no confidence vote in the Prime Minister that can get that process started kicking.

Boris Johnson out of office. Now the reason is because, this is a delicate dance around (inaudible). Because if they were to call a no- confidence motion, you got a certain number of days before you can form a government and then if that builds a certain number of days before general election in October 31st which is coming up in just over 30 or so days is very fast approaching and it would fall within that time period.

So there is a fear by the opposition parties, that if they were to call or try to start good the general election process that the U.K. could accidentally crash out without a deal. CHURCH: All right, Hadas Gold, we shall be watching to see how

parliament proceeds in just a matter of hours from now. Many thanks to you joining us live from London.

Well, Iran's president will speak at the United Nations just a day after the U.S. President Donald Trump slam Tehran of its nuclear program. And we will have a live report from the Iranian capital next.

Plus, Russian President Vladimir Putin is a no show at this year's U.N. general assembly, but he is staying busy. The latest on his talks when Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, just ahead.




DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No responsible government should subsidize Iran's bloodlust as long as Iran's menacing behavior continues sanctions will not be lifted, they will be tighten.


CHURCH: A day after President Trump called out Iran as a security threat its President Hassan Rouhani will be speaking at the United Nations. Despite the rhetoric President Trump still suggested he is open to talks with Tehran. And French President Emmanuel Macron feels it's time the U.S. sat down with Iran and the other parties to the Iran nuclear deal the JCPOA to ensure Iran never acquires or develops nuclear weapons. Iran's Foreign Minister had this to say.





CHURCH: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is also open to talks with Iran even inviting President Hassan Rouhani to London. CNN senior international correspondent Fred Pleitgen is live from Tehran, he joins us now. Good to see you Fred. So, the U.S. president appears much more eager than Iran for talks at this point. What's the strategy behind Iran's clear reluctance to sit down with Mr. Trump?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think the Iranians for their parts, their strategy basically hinges around the fact that their saying that there's not going to be sanctions really if they are simply not going to sit down with President Trump. I think the Iranians feel that they can be in this for at least a longer game if you will. May be not completely long game but certainly for a longer game than what is happening right now that they can withstand those crippling American sanctions.

And quite frankly of course President Trump yesterday in his speech at the U.N. was talking about as well. When he said sanctions would be tightened but rather than loosen to at this point in time. The Iranians are saying under the circumstances absolutely no talks are going to happen. But it's been quite interesting, I think there around the UNGA and also here in Tehran, Rosemary, where you have heard, maybe the Iranians hinting under what circumstances they would be willing to talk to the United States.

You have President Hassan Rouhani coming on and saying, look, maybe there are certain parts of the JCPOA that Iran will be willing to talk about, but they want sanctions relief first and of course they want to be able to sell their oil on international markets as well. It was quite interesting in that interview that Javad Zarif gave to our own Christiane Amanpour, where he said that the Iranians are basically seeking something like a permanent for permanent. Where the Iranians say that they would permanently allowed inspections of their nuclear facilities, but in return they wanted to permanently be able to get sanctions relief from the U.S. as well.

And they want that to be codified by the U.S. Congress. So the Iranians certainly laying out under what circumstances they will be willing to talk but at this point in time they clearly don't feel that that has been fulfilled. Now does that mean it's absolutely not going to happen at the UNGA? We don't know. We certainly do see that especially Emmanuel Macron -- the president of France really seems to be starting a diplomatic initiative to try and get something in an underweight. He clearly still hopes that something could happen at the UNGA, but sort of seeing the signs here you're coming out of Tehran and also the Foreign Ministry that we had in that soundbite over there. It's certainly doesn't seem as though right now the Iranians seem to be up for any sort of sidelines meeting with the Trump administration, Rosemary.

CHURCH: And they are really standing firm aren't they? Why do they feel they have so much leverage when it comes to sanctions here? Because clearly that is not the message that they get in from the United States. But they must have some sense of -- there may be some sort of compromise.


PLEITGEN: Well, essentially the Iranians are saying, Rosemary, is that they had been in this situation before. They have tough sanctions against them, you know, there are many Iranian official who acknowledge of the sanctions that are facing right now are certainly probably tougher than any of the sanctions that they have ever face before. But, of course, this is a nations that around 240 years ago was in a war that overcame a big war. It is a nation that defines itself if you will by resistance as they put it towards Western powers and specifically towards the United States.

Now, if you look at the economy right now, it is certainly a very bad here in Ira. The currency is tanking. Obviously a lot of people have lost their job. International companies have pull-out of Iran as well, but at the same time, you don't get the sense that the -- the government structure, the power structure is anywhere near the brink of -- if you will, collapse or anything else. So they clearly feel that they can still go on with all of this and quite frankly they also feel that they believe that President Trump wants to speak to them.

That what President Trump wants some sort of foreign-policy victory and I think also if you look at the past couple of months or so, where you have had the U.S. and Iran really on the brink of war, you have the Iranians shooting down a drone of the United States. You had obviously all of the issues around that attack on the Saudi oil field which obviously the Iranians say, it wasn't the, but the U.S. says Iran was definitely involved in.

They believe that it's the U.S. administration in that point in time that blinked and it didn't do anything to counter that or at least to take military action to counter them. And of course, the Iran's are very happy with that but they feel at this point in time, that they are quite a strong position, both militarily and diplomatically and if they can hold out economically as well, Rosemary.

CHURCH: All right, Fred Pleitgen joining us there live from Tehran, many thanks. Well, Mr. Trump attack Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro at the U.N. General Assembly calling him a Cuban puppet. But Mr. Maduro wasn't there to hear it instead he was headed to Moscow to meet a key ally, Russian President Vladimir Putin. For more CNN's Moscow Bureau Chief Nathan Hodge, joins us now. Good to see you, Nathan. So, what are you learning about expectations and what might come out of these talks?

NATHAN HODGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Rosemary its important right off about, just to know how important of an ally, Russian President Vladimir Putin is for Nicolas Maduro. Russia is a key provider of the military existence to Venezuela. It sent military and technical assistance, its included weapons contracts were with the Venezuelan government and as well Ross Neft (ph) of Russia's state oil company has extended billions in credits to (inaudible), this is Venezuelan state oil company.

But we've been seeing or the expectations that have been sent by the Kremlin had been fairly low on this visit. Yesterday Demetri Peskov, President Putin's Press Secretary has said that they didn't expect that new military deals might be sign during this visit. But certainly the optics of it are very important that this is Putin presenting a unified front. Putin also not attending the U.N. general assembly with Maduro.

And in sort of setting the scene for today's meeting between Maduro and Putin, Peskov said that the two leaders would be discussing direct interference by third countries in the affairs of Venezuela and that of course is a direct swipe with the Trump administration which is supported, Juan Guaido as Venezuela's interim leader and certainly which has directed very, very strong rhetoric towards Venezuela.

And of course that the Treasury Department earlier this week impose new sanctions on entities that were moving Venezuelan oil to Cuba. So very complicated picture here and we are going to be waiting to see what exactly comes out of what's supposed to be breakfast meeting between Maduro and Putin, Rosemary.

CHURCH: All right. Nathan Hodge bringing us live report from Moscow. Many thanks.

Well, life's a beach for Britain's Prince Harry Meghan as they tour South Africa, where they met members of his organization, as well as CNN. We will have that for you on the other side of the break.



CHURCH: Welcome back everyone, environmental activists Greta Thunberg isn't letting the comments of Donald Trump stop her from fulfilling her mission. The 16-year-old told world leaders that while people suffering from climate change, all the politicians do is talk about money and economic growth. The U.S. president responded by tweeting, she seems like a very happy young girl, looking forward to a bright and wonderful future. So nice to see. While Thunberg didn't respond directly, a few hours later she updated her twitter bio with Mr. Trump's exact words.

Well, CNN has the first interview with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex since they introduce baby Archie to the world. Royal correspondent Max Foster caught up with Prince Harry and Meghan during their visit to Cape Town, they had just visited a program which uses surfing as a therapy for at risk youth.


MEGHAN MARKLE, DUCHESS OF SUSSEX: You know, I think what is so amazing about being here today is you can see there's so much good happening in the world and there's so much positivity in all this diversity and inclusivity. I think the focus is on that. It's like you're so great that you are here today. Just highlight the yes. There's a lot of attention on things that could be a bit troubling in the world that this is actually what's making a difference and what matters.

PRINCE HARRY, DUKE OF SUSSEX: It is exactly what Meghan has said, I think what these kids are doing, and the coaches are the main thing, because they have this quite unique experience. I said unique, it's not as unique as you thing, because so many of these communities have been through very similar traumatic experience, but they have now come into a place like this, in to the (inaudible), to be able to -- not only (inaudible), but to be able to help the younger generations.


CHURCH: The royal couple and Baby Archie are on the first leg of a 10 day tour of Africa. The couple told well-wishes, he's enjoying the trip. Good to hear.

And thanks for joining us I'm Rosemary Church. Quest, World Of Wonder is up next. But first I'll be back with the check on the headline. You are watching CNN. Do stick around.