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Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) Is Interviewed About The Phone Call Of President Trump And Zelensky; Threats Against Journalists Increasing Under Trump. Aired 7:30-8a ET
Aired September 25, 2019 - 07:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
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[07:30:39] ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: A new report in the Washington Post details the efforts by President Trump to pressure officials in Ukraine to investigate his political rival and the role that the President's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani who is a private citizen played in all of this.
Joining us now is Democratic Senator Chris Murphy. He serves on the Foreign Relations Committee. Senator, it is so good to have you here this morning because you have some information. You went to Ukraine. You met with President Zelensky as much of this was unfolding. So let's just go through it and what he told you and what you heard. So let's start with the phone call. What did President Zelensky tell you about this now infamous phone call with President Trump?
SEN. CHRIS MURPHY (D-CT): Well, so I had heard back in spring when the initial revelations were coming out about Rudy Giuliani's overtures to the new Ukraine government that the government there which is a novice government, President Zelensky has never held elected of office before. Was very confused about whether they should be listening to the U.S. Embassy or they should be listening to the President's campaign advisers who were making these demands on them about investigations.
So part of the reason I decided to go over there in early September with Republican Senator Ron Johnson was to, you know, make sure that the Zelensky government understood that the proper channel of communication with the United States was through the State Department and the embassy, not the reelection campaign of the President.
Now, I did not talk about that specific phone call with Zelensky. I did raise with him the general problem of communicating with the President's campaign representatives. And he did separately represent great concern about the aid being cut off. It was only after I left that I found out that the President had raised this issue directly with him, the desire to enlist Zelensky in the reelection effort personally on that phone call.
CAMEROTA: Why did Zelensky think the aid was being cut off?
MURPHY: Well, Zelensky asked us why the aid was being cut off. And Senator Johnson had recently spoken to the President about this. Senator Johnson re-laid that as far as he understood, it had to do with corruption in Ukraine and the belief on behalf of President Trump that other European countries should be footing the bill for military assistance in Ukraine.
At the time, you know, I didn't, you know, necessarily know what the corruption concern was. And I'm not sure Senator Johnson did. We now know that President Trump was talking about only one issue. He was talking simply about his desire to get the Zelensky government in the business of serving his political ends.
And, you know, whether or not there was a quid pro quo explicitly stated by the President on that phone call or other communications, it doesn't really matter. When you have a new president of Ukraine who is hearing from the United States of America that his aid is being cut off and he has an outstanding request to do the President's political bidding, it is common sense that he especially as a political novice representing a country very dependent on the United States would connect the two. Imply the two were connected.
CAMEROTA: OK. So back to Rudy Giuliani and his role, you were concerned about it. Last night, Rudy Giuliani explained who he was acting at the behest of, listen to this moment.
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RUDY GIULIANI, PERSONAL LAWYER OF PRESIDENT TRUMP: You know who I did it at the request of? The State Department. I never talked to a Ukrainian official until the State Department called me and asked me to do it.
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CAMEROTA: Your response, senator?
MURPHY: Well, I mean, that frankly raises even higher levels of concern. When I was in Kiev, three weeks ago, I asked the State Department if they had been involved in any of the back channel communications with the Zelensky government trying to get Zelensky to interfere in the 2020 election. They told me that they weren't.
And so now we have a question of how deep this goes in the State Department. How many people in the State Department were trying to pressure the Zelensky government to destroy Vice President Biden and his family? I don't know whether that's the truth from what we understand. Rudy Giuliani has long been involved in trying to manipulate Ukrainian politics.
[07:35:10] I think it was unlikely that he was simply doing this as the request of the State Department. But if he was, why on earth was the State Department trying to get campaign advisers for the President to do diplomacy with the Ukrainians. That strains credibility. But if it's true, it frankly has to be part of what the House is looking into.
CAMEROTA: Senator, you just mentioned that you went on this trip with Republican Senator Ron Johnson. Was he concerned about things that came up there? MURPHY: Well, I think Senator Johnson was very concerned about the suspension of aid. And he stated publicly that he disagreed with the President's decision to suspend that aid. He did not raise the concerns about Giuliani's interference. I raised those concerns.
But I think it's very well known that the cutoff of military aids to Ukraine caught everyone by surprise. I mean, there aren't a lot of things that Republicans and Democrats agree on these days in Washington. One of them is this aid was really important. Republicans and Democrats are on board with getting this aid to the Ukrainians as quickly as possible.
And part of the reason why everyone was scratching their heads when the president out of nowhere cut this aid off is because there was really no support in either party for the suspension of aid. It seemed to be some very personally motivated decision by the President.
CAMEROTA: Very quickly senator, are you confident that we're going to see the transcript of that phone call and/or the whistle-blower complaint today?
MURPHY: I'm not confident. So what I understand is that there are often not transcripts kept of these phone calls. Often, someone working for the President is simply taking notes of these phone calls. And so I have a question as to whether we are going to see a word-for- word transcript or whether we're going to see an interpretation of the phone call for someone who works for the President of the United States. That is very different.
I was glad yesterday that the Senate unanimously passed a resolution demanding that the whistle-blower complaint be presented to Congress. It needs to be unredacted. Again, I don't want the administration deciding what parts of that whistle blower complaint gets to us and what don't.
Then we have to ask these other questions that are growing now by the day especially after Giuliani's comment last night about how involved the State Department was in this corruption. These are all important questions.
CAMEROTA: Senator Chris Murphy, thank you for coming in with all of your information on this.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, a major international report just released moments ago paints a bleak future for our planet. What's it mean for more than 1 million people in key cities around the world? That's next.
[07:42:05] CAMEROTA: A U.N. panel of more than a hundred scientists just released a major climate change report focusing on the ice covered parts of earth and our oceans. Its findings are dire unless action is taken now. CNN's chief climate correspondent Bill Weir joins us with more.
BILL WEIR, CNN CHIEF CLIMATE CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, good morning.
Yes. This is the third in three big seismic year-long investigations telling us kind of what we already know but just cementing in the earth is melting. It's looked at the oceans and the cryosphere, so much life. And our planet is depending on these places. And if you've ever tried to heat up a cold bathtub one kettle at a time, you know, it takes a while. But get this, thanks to all the heat trapping pollution around the planet, this blanket.
Right now, the oceans are absorbing about the equivalent of three to four Hiroshima size atomic bombs a second. And so now, all of that heat, 90 percent of that heat was absorbed and we're starting to see it. So there's no ice off the coast of Alaska. That was the first shot. Fish stocks like are moving to colder waters around the world. Coral reefs are really, really in danger.
And then when it comes to the ice on land, this cryosphere, snowy mountain top, smaller glaciers they say are expected to lose 80 percent of their mass by 2100. And that's not only going to threaten winter sports and tourism in places especially the lower elevations, resorts you know about because you just can't make snow at a certain temperature.
But these are the water towers for a billion people. All that ice and snow pack goes into rivers then, you know, which keep cities like Los Angeles in existence and waters all of our crops. Hydropower is threatened as all of that ice melt decreases. Then in the end, the triple whammy is sea level rise. It is accelerating twice as fast as the 20th century right now.
This is that glacier I showed you up in Alaska. The land based glaciers in Alaska are contributing to sea level rise way more than any other region. And so places like Miami, Florida, which are just a foot above sea level rise, they're looking at these numbers that if -- even if we all switched to skateboards tomorrow, they're looking at about a foot to two feet sea level rise at the very minimum.
We're more on path now without changing to four to five, maybe six feet of sea level rise by 2100. And that means storms that would happen once a century will happen every year. So it's not a matter of, like, the waves lapping up onto your front step if you live on the coast. It's a matter of not having time to rebuild because the storms will just keep coming.
CAMEROTA: I don't know how you get out of bed in the morning Bill Weir, I really don't. I mean I know that there are answers out there. And you often address those.
WEIR: But that's the thing. The action that happens now will save countless lives down the road.
CAMEROTA: Thanks for breaking all down for us.
WEIR: My pleasure.
CAMEROTA: We really appreciate it.
BERMAN: All right, with each passing day gets more and more dangerous to be a journalist around the world. John Avlon has the reality check, sir?
[07:45:01] JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Hey guys.
Well, look, there's a lot going on, impeachment, Brexit, Ukraine, the U.N. So, you might have missed this. Over the weekend a U.S. army soldier was arrested after allegedly telling an undercover FBI agent that he wanted to bomb the headquarters from a major network.
Two sources confirmed that network is us. This is all unfortunately part of a pattern. Remember the case of coast guard Lt. Christopher Hassan a self described white nationalist, who was arrested in February for plots against journalists as well as Democratic politicians. Well, according to "The New York Times," prosecutor say, he called his intended targets traitors and talked about sparking a race war and civil war if trump were to be impeached.
Hassan has pled not guilty. A few months earlier we saw the sixth saga of Cesar Sayoc who was recently sentenced to 20 years for mailing pipe bombs to CNN who was prominent Democrat. His own defense team blend an obsession with President Trump and right wing media that quote, promoted various conspiracy theories and more generally the idea that Trump's critics were dangerous, unpatriotic, and, evil.
His lawyer said that, Trump specifically blamed many of the individuals whom Mr. Sayoc ultimately targeted with his packages. Or how about the California man who pled guilty of threatening to kill reporters at the Boston Globe for being enemies of the people. Or the seize man (ph) caller who said that two of our CNN colleagues quote, if I see them I'm going to shoot them.
None of this happens in a vacuum. Last year was the most dangerous year to be a journalist on record with dozens killed around the world, hundreds thrown in jail, and thousands threatened, included in that list, Washington Post Columnist, Jamal Khashoggi. He was dismembered by a Saudi hit squad. His life apparently less important to President Trump than a multi-billion-dollar arms deal. And Trump's called for any news he doesn't like has been eagerly adopted by autocrats around the world.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We live in a fake news era as you know.
RODRIGO DUTERTE, PRESIDENT OF THE PHILIPPINES: You are a fake news outlet.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're politically correct attitudes and against fake news.
(END VIDEO CLIP) AVLON: And get this, Trump has used the phrase fake news in tweets and in speeches more than 1,100 times according to fact base. That's more than the number of days he's been in office. It's three times as often as Trump has used the word constitution. It blows away how often he's used the word truth. And it's only slightly less he's used the word freedom.
Let's look closer what he does not just what he says because on Monday the publisher of "The New York Times" revealed an incident from two years ago that was telling. It's when he was warned by U.S. official that one of his reporters in Egypt was about to be arrested. The official believed the Trump administration wasn't going to help the reporter and feared punishment just for calling "The Times".
Luckily for reporter Declan Walsh he's Irish. And the Irish government extracted him to safety instead. And when another "Times" reporter arrived in Egypt to replaced him, he was detained and deported apparently just out of spite. A senior U.S. official at the U.S. embassy said reportedly said, quote, what did you expect? His reporting made the government look bad.
Look, there's an inherent tension between all presidents and the media. But no American president is so consistently threatened the media. And here's what Trump told Lesley Stahl, you know why I do it, I do it to discredit you all and demean you all so that when you write negative stories about me, no one will believe you.
So this isn't a war in journalists, it's a war on truth being perpetrated for self-serving reasons. But the racist and damage to our democracy is real. And that's your reality check.
CAMEROTA: And it has violent consequences. And I'm so glad that you pointed that out. Heated rhetoric, hateful rhetoric leads to violence. We've seen it as you just pointed out John, thank you very much.
OK. On a much lighter note, we have a royal surprise this morning. Baby -- there's baby Archie. John, finally, drop the banner, please. I need to see the full thing. Thank you. He's making his first public appearance on the family's royal tour of Africa. Look how cute he is.
BERMAN: He's very cute.
CAMEROTA: Prince Harry and Meghan Markle brought the four-month-old to meet one of the heroes of the anti-apartheid movement, Archbishop Desmond Tutu. The noble piece prize winner called this a rare privilege and honor to meet the little prince. I think it might be the other way around.
BERMAN: The other way around. But still it's wonderful.
CAMEROTA: OK. That is a very cute baby. I mean it looks just a lot like a baby.
BERMAN: Yes, shocking that that child would be attractive, right? CAMEROTA: Well, that's exactly what I looked like as a baby.
BERMAN: Yes. He's got beautiful parents. I mean, chances are he was going to look OK.
CAMEROTA: Yes. But he's very cute. All right, I'm just glad that we finally saw him. All right, my work here is done. Oh, no it's not. I have to read this.
[07:49:11] How will President Trump navigate the impeachment inquiry now on Capitol Hill? We are about to speak to the author who knows the President's history and how he reacts better than anyone.
CAMEROTA: How is President Trump responding to news of an official impeachment inquiry and what will his strategy be going forward? Well, joining us now is Tony Schwartz. He's the co-author of Donald Trump's 1987 memoir "The Art of the Deal." Tony, great to have you here as we -- as in case people don't know, you spent a year shadowing him, working with him every day. You know how he operates. And I'm wondering, I am struck by how different he seems to be this week with this announcement of impeachment and even the threat of it before yesterday, how subdued and different his style looks this week at the general assembly. What are you struck by this week?
TONY SCHWARTZ, CO-AUTHOR, "TRUMP: THE ART OF THE DEAL": Well, I think in psychological terms, they sometimes call this labile, which is swinging in a motion from one extreme to the other. So I think he is subdued at one moment. He calls Nancy Pelosi, who wants to get this figured out. And on the other hand, publicly, he goes out on the attack. So, you know, he's never much in control of his emotions. They're running him.
[07:55:02] CAMEROTA: Let me play an example of what I'm talking about in terms of the subdued President Trump. This was yesterday at the general assembly as talk of impeachment was building. Watch this.
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TRUMP: Americans will never fire or tire in our effort to defend and promote freedom of worship and religion. We want and support religious liberty for all. Americans will also never tire of defending innocent life.
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CAMEROTA: This is supposed to be one of his signature issues. Freedom of religion, and that's how he was delivering it yesterday. What do you see?
SCHWARTZ: Well, what I see is he's reading. And when he's reading from a teleprompter, he is lost. And he literally is reading without actually connecting to the words that he's saying. So when he's not being spontaneous or reactive, he ends up being awkward and kind of disconnected in the way you just saw. CAMEROTA: Let's talk about what you think is about to happen. So you have studied him and enough so that you know his playbook. And so you have a prediction for what you think we're about to see. Let's go through it. You say that number one, he will set the narrative on impeachment. What does that mean?
SCHWARTZ: So Alisyn, first of all, this is the Roy Cohn legacy. This is what Roy Cohn taught him to do as a young man in which he's been doing over and over, hundreds and hundreds of times, under any situation where he feels threatened. So the first piece of this is set the narrative. So he's in the cat seat because he's the President with the most ability to go out to the largest number of people. And what he'll do now is he'll flip the story. He's already flipping the story.
CAMEROTA: You say turn the tables. And what does that look like?
SCHWARTZ: It's not about me. It's about them. It's, they're out to get us again. It's get people to shift their perspective on this or particularly the base, which is what he's aiming at overwhelmingly.
CAMEROTA: Well that, he's already doing that in terms of saying you need to be looking at Joe Biden and his family. I mean we've heard them attempting to do that, but somehow, that didn't sway Democrats from calling up impeachment. Number three, flood the zone.
SCHWARTZ: Well, let me go to, so turn the tables is specifically Biden, although it's also attacking Greta after her speech at the U.N., because what they wanted --
CAMEROTA: A 16-year-old environmentalist who is arguing so passionately for climate change.
SCHWARTZ: Exactly. And he goes after a 16-year-old because it gins up the media. Because he knows that that will deflect attention from what is otherwise going to be preoccupying.
CAMEROTA: OK, so three, flood the zone.
SCHWARTZ: So now, flood the zone is, you know, deflect, demean, deceive, do everything possible to engineer the shifting of this narrative so, you know, that's a Roy Cohn approach. So when you earlier had a guest or you yourself might have said that there are 1,000 times where he says no collusion, no obstruction, that's his method, is say it over and over and over again, because if you do, people will start to believe it no matter how preposterous it is.
CAMEROTA: What does tweak the complicit mean?
SCHWARTZ: Tweak the complicit is, so you gin up your base by playing to their emotions and getting them to feel aggrieved the way you do. We're in this together. They're coming after us. But the complicit, the key complicit parties in this are those folks who will vote one way or another on impeachment. And they, the Republican part of this, they are not stoked by emotion. They privately know or I shouldn't say know, but they privately believe Trump should be out. They hate Trump, almost all of them. The only reason that they don't go after him is because they feel he'll come after them. And that's where he goes after the complicit is to say, you are the ones, I will go after you if you go after me. So you better go out into the world and defend me.
CAMEROTA: I assume that rinse and repeat is self-evident. That he will just keep doing that over and over.
SCHWARTZ: Absolutely. He will go at this over and over and over again. He will drown us in a blizzard of lies and of rationalizations and blame.
CAMEROTA: Well, Tony, it's very interesting. As I've said, you've seen it before but I don't know, I mean I think that anything is possible this week, particularly since yesterday he did something different and promised to release the whistle blower complaint and the transcript of the phone call, very quickly.
SCHWARTZ: William Goldman about Hollywood, nobody knows anything. That's where we are right now. We're in a moment of having no clue. No person can rightly say they know.
CAMEROTA: OK. Well, thank you for that addendum at the end of all this. Tony Schwartz, nice to see you.
[08:00:05] All right, Adam Schiff, the chair of the House Intelligence Committee, joins us live on NEW DAY as we --