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Trump's Ukraine Call; Barr at Center of Ukraine Controversy; Tropical Storm Karen's Future Remains Uncertain; Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired September 26, 2019 - 06:30   ET



ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Is earning his money from ABC because, well, you know, sometimes people say, why do you all pay contributors? Because they know their subject matter. And he knew that that's how Donald Trump speaks. I mean he was able to channel it because he's known him for so long. And, in fact, it was verbatim what the president said.

OK, thank you both very much for all of your insights and reporting.

Joe Biden has found himself at the center of President Trump's unfounded attacks about Ukraine. How is Joe Biden responding? Well, we have new remarks from the Democratic frontrunner, next.



CAMEROTA: Former vice president and 2020 candidate Joe Biden reacting to President Trump's call with Ukraine's leader. Biden appeared on the Jimmy Kimmel show last night.


JIMMY KIMMEL, HOST, "JIMMY KIMMEL LIVE": How does this rank as far as on the outlandish scale for you, the last 48 hours, watching this transpire?


When you step back from it, it -- this is not about me and my family. There's not one single, solitary, legitimate journalist in the world who's given any credibility to this. They've debunked all of what he's had to say for the past -- since Giuliani started this a while ago.

But what I -- what I do worry about is, I do worry about all of the other families that can't take care of themselves. And what's happening with this president and his constant diversions into -- look, we want to get his attention, have 70 polls in a row showing your beating him. And that, all of a sudden, gets his attention.

Based on the material that they acknowledged today, it seems to me it's awful hard to avoid the conclusion that it is an impeachable offense and a violation of constitutional responsibility. But, look, that's -- I am confident in the ability of the House and Senate to deal with this. My job is just to go out and flat beat him.


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: So I think one of the unknown questions right now is how all of this will affect the presidential race, not specifically because, you know, these allegations that the president keeps on making are about Joe Biden, but because of the oxygen that will be taken up by impeachment. And I've heard from Democratic campaign that there's concern that the things they've been trying to talk about, health care and other things, will not get as much attention now.

CAMEROTA: Well, that's fair, except that we also hear that when they're giving their stump speech, when they're out at town halls, people bring up their own pocketbook issues and people bring up their own issues. And so the voters refocus the candidates.

BERMAN: Yes. Well, we'll see.

All right, so one of the now central figures in all of this who was emerged in the last 24 hours, U.S. Attorney General William Barr. He is mentioned in this phone conversation between the president of the United States and Ukraine. Does he now have to recuse himself from all of this? Next.



CAMEROTA: The rough transcript of the conversation between President Trump and Ukraine's president is five pages long, but Attorney General Bill Barr is mentioned four times. President Trump repeatedly encouraged Ukraine's leader to reach out to Bill Barr about investigating Joe Biden.

Joining us now is CNN legal analyst Elliot Williams. He is a former federal prosecutor.

Mr. Williams, great to have you here.

So the idea that President Trump kept bringing up the attorney general, Bill Barr, in this conversation, I'll just give you one example at the moment. Here it is from the transcript. President Trump says, 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.

What are we to make of that?

ELLIOT WILLIAMS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I -- well, it's incredibly troubling. And, again, a lot of people were thinking of this as William Barr having the problem here. Really this is the president's willingness yet again to weaponize the attorney general and the Justice Department for his own political aims. If you -- if we remember, you know, I'm old enough to remember when

the president asked the former attorney general, Jeff Sessions, to investigate Hillary Clinton. So once again we see the attorney -- the president's willingness to ask the attorney general to act almost as a political henchman of sorts --


WILLIAMS: For things that are advantageous to him politically.

CAMEROTA: We should remind people, you were also the former deputy assistant attorney general. And so is it customary that any attorney general would be tasked with something in the foreign affairs sector like this?

WILLIAMS: No -- I -- well, I mean, the Justice Department does oversee a great deal of intelligence matters and so on.

But, look, the president nominates the attorney general, but it's an independent position. And just to give you an instructive example, when you work on criminal cases, and when they're percolating in the Justice Department, you get very strict guidance not to discuss criminal cases with the White House or anyone at the White House. Even -- you know, even when it comes to like drafting press releases and stuff like that. There's a clear -- and, again, that's hard for the president to understand. He's tested this line a few times. But even despite being the head of the executive branch, the investigation of prosecution of criminal cases is just something separate from the White House and the president has no business directing the attorney general to -- to carry out particular cases.

CAMEROTA: I want to remind people of the striking moment during Attorney General Bill Barr's confirmation hearing when Senator Kamala Harris asked him specifically if the president had ever asked him to investigate anyone. And you now hear this in a different light.

So listen to this moment.


SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA): Has the president, or anyone at the White House, ever asked or suggested that you open an investigation of anyone?

WILLIAM BARR, ATTORNEY GENERAL: I wouldn't -- I wouldn't --

HARRIS: Yes or no?

BARR: Could you -- could you repeat that question?

HARRIS: I will repeat it.

Has the president or anyone at the White House ever asked or suggested that you open an investigation of anyone? Yes or no, please, sir.

BARR: The president or anybody else. HARRIS: Seems you'd remember something like that and be able to tell



CAMEROTA: That was his hearing on the Mueller report, not his confirmation hearing.

But how do you hear that now?

WILLIAMS: It's almost -- you know, remember Bill Clinton and it depends on what the definition of "is" is. It's a yes or no question, did the president ask you to investigate anybody. And this -- so, number one, that exchange is even more troubling today. Number two, now we should look at the Justice Department's statement from yesterday about, you know, the -- and you showed it on -- in the tease, the president has not asked the attorney general. We're going to need to parse every word of that and hear from the attorney general again as to, OK, did a subordinate? Was there a suggestion made?


As we saw on the -- on the call with Ukraine, a question does not have to be explicit. And, you know, it's hard to give the attorney general the benefit of the doubt at this point given everything we know about how the president regards the role of attorney general and his almost squirreliness (ph) in answering what ought to have been a straight forward question.

And getting back, Alisyn, to what I said a moment ago, the justice -- the president ought not to be meddling or directing criminal investigations in any instance.

CAMEROTA: But, I mean --

WILLIAMS: And so it's just incredibly troubling.

CAMEROTA: But you're so -- I mean it was -- that moment was strange when Senator Kamala Harris asked him to begin with because everybody thought this is not a man who's usually tongue tied and can't synthesize a simple question. And now, reading the transcript of how many times the president at least wanted Bill Barr to be involved with the Ukraine investigation, it just is -- it is seen through a whole new light.

But to your point about how the Justice Department says that he's not involved, I do want to read the statement from them. Here it is. The president has not spoken with the attorney general about having Ukraine investigate anything relating to former Vice President Biden or his son. The president has not asked the attorney general to contact Ukraine.

And so you're basically saying -- I mean we'll have to leave it there, but you're basically saying we now need to parse that in terms of whether Ukraine was asked to contact Bill Barr or something like that. WILLIAMS: Yes. He -- he asked Ukraine on a phone call to contact the

attorney general. Even if he doesn't end up going on to have the specific question with the attorney -- conversation with the attorney general, we need to at least -- I mean the attorney general is not a witness to this and it's hard to see how the attorney general, number one, can -- can maintain his role in it. So we have more questions to be answered.

CAMEROTA: Understood.

Elliot Williams, thank you very much for all of your expertise.

WILLIAMS: Thank you.


BERMAN: All right, a short time ago we told you about the daughter of CNN contributor Wajahat Ali, who needed a liver transplant. We have the best update ever for you, next.



BERMAN: All right, we have an important weather update for you this morning.

Tropical Storm Karen could still pose a threat to the United States. Forecast models show the storm looping around toward the hurricane- ravaged Bahamas and potentially Florida.

CNN meteorologist Chad Myers tells us how.


CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: It's like a storm that just will not go away, you know? At 40 miles per hour right now, way, way north of the islands. Make -- posing no threat whatsoever, but it will loop around.

This weather is brought to you by Xyzal, all night, all day allergy relief.

Now, they loop around every once in a while, but this thing just has a mind of its own. Even if it's going to hit the U.S., and I don't think it's going to be anything when it get there is, it would be almost ten days from now, making a big circle, going back toward the Bahamas.

But yesterday at this time, that number was 65 miles per hour. Today it's 30. The hurricane center not very convinced that this thing is going to do anything. What it's going to do, it's going to get caught up in a high pressure that's going to heat up the southeast.

In fact, Atlanta will be above 90 degrees for the rest of the week, into the weekend. Chicago, though, how about this, 63 degrees for a high temperature on Saturday. That might feel good. It might feel like fall. Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: Thank you very much, Chad, for that.

And now we have a great update for you about a story that hits close to home for us.

You'll remember we told you the story of CNN contributor Wajahat Ali's three-year-old daughter who is battling cancer and needed a liver transplant. Well, we are happy to report that the three-year-old, Nusayaba, has gotten a new liver. She received the transplant from an anonymous donor on Tuesday. Wajahat tweeted the news yesterday saying that Nusayaba is recovering nicely and thanking everyone for their support, including, of course, the donor's family. He says, quote, I told the donor's family, my life belongs to them and begged them to tell me how to can repay them. They just said to pray for the donor, their family member, and they wanted Nusayaba to live a long, healthy life. There's still much goodness in the world. Don't ever lose hope.

BERMAN: I shouted out loud when I saw that new yesterday. It is so wonderful. And just think about that, an anonymous, living donor. Someone who doesn't know Wajahat or his daughter came forward to give part of his or her liver to that three-year-old girl.

CAMEROTA: So beautiful.

Human beings are wonderful. Forget what I've said before.

BERMAN: There can be -- there are decent people out there.


BERMAN: All right, something else that might make you smile.

It turns out the president did the talk show hosts a favor when he asked the president of Ukraine for one. "Late Night Laughs," next.



CAMEROTA: All right, the comics had a hay day with President Trump's request for a favor. Here are your "Late Night Laughs."


JIMMY KIMMEL, HOST, "JIMMY KIMMEL LIVE": The White House fired back this morning. They countered with a summarized transcript of Trump's now infamous call with the president of Ukraine. And what a transcript this was. It was like, this was like if OJ told Chris Darden, hey, you found my glove. It was like --

STEPHEN COLBERT, HOST, "THE LATE SHOW WITH STEPHEN COLBERT": Trump immediately says, I would like you to do us a favor though. Ladies and gentlemen, our contestant has said today's secret words. The phrase that pays. The Ukrainian in exchange. The phrase that pays the Ukrainian in exchange for presidential favors. Tell the president what he's won. It's protracted impeachment inquiries. A permanent stain on his already shameful legacy and a lovely Broyhill dinette set. Broyhill, eat crow in style.

JAMES CORDEN, HOST, "THE LATE LATE SHOW WITH JAMES CORDEN": That favor was for Ukraine to dig up dirt on Joe Biden's son. Trump is denying that this is a case of quid pro quo. But I'm pretty sure that's because Trump thinks that quid pro quo is that game they play in Harry Potter.


CAMEROTA: Colbert wins that round.

BERMAN: You think so?

CAMEROTA: That was so good. The dinette set. The phrase that pays.

BERMAN: I like a good Harry Potter joke. And we do know the president's a big fan of Hermione, I'm just saying.

CAMEROTA: Oh, my God.

BERMAN: All right.


BERMAN: The whistle-blower complaint, it could be released at any minute. We are awaiting that moment.

NEW DAY continues right now.


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BERMAN: Welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is NEW DAY.