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GOP Lawmakers Give Non-Answers to Whistleblower Complaint; New Details on Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky, the "Donald Trump of Ukraine"; "Weed 5: The CBD Craze" Premiers Sunday at 8:00 P.M. Aired 1:30-2p ET

Aired September 27, 2019 - 13:30   ET




BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: As the biggest controversy of the Trump administration takes over Washington, we're already seeing a lot of public information on President Trump's phone call to the Ukrainian president where he seeks dirt on Joe Biden. The transcript of the call is public. The whistleblower complaint is also now public.

But, Chris Cillizza, there are a lot of Republicans who say they haven't even read them yet.

CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS REPORTER & CNN EDITOR-AT-LARGE: Brianna, let's revisit. The whistleblower complaint is nine-ish pages long, the Ukraine transcript is five pages long, and these are not single- spaced. You can get through both of them with a thorough reading in about 30 minutes.

Haven't read it are just a few names. Rob Portman, Lamar Alexander, you haven't read it? No comment, need more info. Again, trying to buy time.

Tom Cotton has been one of the president's most loyalists. Marco Rubio looking at 2024 probably to run for president. All keeping their options open.

Then we have this last group. There's nothing there that they've tried to do to discredit it.

Let' me highlight this guy. Basically, what Lindsey Graham said, he read the Ukraine transcript, and basically, because he doesn't say, if you give me X, I'll give you Y, there was no quid pro quo.

Also Lindsey Graham, in 1999, said that was a ridiculous argument when he said the words are not the important thing, it's the intent. What's changed between now and then, Brianna? I don't know.

Back to you.

KEILAR: Chris Cillizza, thank you so much.

Here to discuss this now with us, we have former Pennsylvania Republican Congressman Charlie Dent and former Illinois Democratic Congressman Luis Gutierrez.

Clearly, Congressman Dent, Republicans don't know how to handle this if they're claiming they haven't read these documents. What is their thought process right now as they're trying to figure out exactly what to say and where to be on this?

CHARLIE DENT, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Clearly, they're buying time because this is a very easy read, as was just stated. Very easy read. I read both of these. It didn't take long.

Once you read these things, and they're written in plain English, this is absolutely stunning.

In my view, as a former chairman of the House Ethics Committee, I can tell you, if somebody had presented this information to our committee that a member was collaborating with a foreign government to investigate his or her opponent with official government resources, that would have triggered an investigation immediately and probably a referral at some point to the Department of Justice.

This is eye-popping, full stop. Without even getting into the quid pro quo aspect of this.

I think they're just simply buying time. There's no defense for this. The president, he weaponized himself to damage Joe Biden, which I think he did, while simultaneously blowing up his own presidency. Absolutely stunning.


KEILAR: Congressman Gutierrez, I want to ask you about something that Democrats have been saying. They have been saying Republicans are going to come around. They look back to the Nixon Watergate hearings and they say, Republicans came around. Do you think they will?

LUIS GUTIERREZ, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I don't think so. I don't think many. Not enough so that you and I can call this a bipartisan process in the end.

I think impeachment in and of itself is one where two parties really clash with one another, and who is going to fight for the soul of America versus so their party will be triumphant in the next election? Who is going to put that first?

But, look, I just want to say Charlie is really on this. I read them both and here's what we need to understand. First, we got the readout, partial redacted readout of the conversation between the president of Ukraine and President Trump. Now you take this complaint by the whistleblower and it's amazing how much of it is the same, right?

So this whistleblower, who I want to say is a patriot because what he did is he said, listen, I saw something during my time, right? I have a responsibility to inform and I'm going to follow the proper channels. And lastly, I would say this. And Charlie and I both know this. As

former members of Congress, we could never, from our office, even pick up a phone from our congressional office to ask somebody for a campaign contribution.

What's more, we could not use our personal cell phone within the halls of Congress to even do that. And this is much worse than that.

KEILAR: Congressman --

GUTIERREZ: So imagine the corrosiveness of the office of the presidency of the United States.

KEILAR: Congressman Dent, the president has threatened this whistleblower. We know this. He said this to a crowd that he was speaking to yesterday. What do you make of that and how Congress should react?

DENT: Again, another stunning statement. This whistleblower, from what I can tell, I read in, I think, the "New York Times," said that he or she was a CIA agent or employee. And I just can't believe the president of the United States --


KEILAR: CNN has not confirmed that. I just want to make that clear.


DENT: I read that in the "New York Times," I think.

But the point is this person put his or her neck out to make this statement in good faith. And everything this whistleblower has said, as Luis just stated, pretty much is compatible with what I read in the summary of the phone transcript.

I think it's horrendous the president of the United States would make these types of threatening, moblike statements about an employee of the government who was alarmed by what he or she read.

And apparently, he wasn't the only one who saw this. But there was at least a dozen people on that call.

And I think Congress is the first to actually identify those people and bring them in to hear what they thought of the call.

KEILAR: Congressman Dent, Congressman Gutierrez, thank you --


KEILAR: Final word quickly, sorry.

GUTIERREZ: Thank you. He's not a Benedict Arnold. He's a Paul Revere. He's a patriot. And he's bringing the forces of justice to bear. And I think it's shocking that the president would use this kind of language. Thank you.

KEILAR: Congressman Gutierrez, thank you.

Congressman Dent, thank you so much.

Great conversation with both of you.

DENT: Thank you, Brianna.

KEILAR: Now, some call him the Donald Trump of Ukraine. We have new details on how the man at the center of this phone call at the White House is reacting to this controversy.


Plus, Geraldo Rivera would like to beat up the, quote, "rotten snitch whistleblower." See how this is playing on the president's favorite channel.


KEILAR: It's Ukraine, not the Ukraine, as the president has called it. Corruption is actually lessening in Ukraine, despite President Trump's claims.

And Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, a comedian short on political experience, who is sometimes called Ukraine's Donald Trump, might actually have some decent political chops.

Joining me now is Nina Jankowicz. She's a fellow at the Wilson Center in Washington. Her first book, "How to Lose the Information War," will be published next year.

Nina, you were in Ukraine this spring for the presidential election there. You've had some really interesting pieces recently in "Politico" and in the "Washington Post," where you kind of hold back the curtain on this country, which is so important right now.

Tell us about Zelensky. He's this sex joke comedian, some people might not know that, and tell us what the release of this conversation with Trump meant to him.

NINA JANKOWICZ, FELLOW, WILSON CENTER: I think people in Ukraine are blindsided by the conversation. Certainly, Zelensky never meant for it to be public.


The thing to understand about Ukraine is it's not in a situation of picking its international allies. The United States for Ukraine is the most important ally. We give hundreds of millions of dollars of aid every year to help them.

And Zelensky is trying to make a friend, maybe trying to shore up rhetorical support for the hot war Ukraine is fighting with Russia. He was caught between a rock and a hard place and doing what he does best as a showman. He understands the art of flattery. That was clear from that call.

KEILAR: We've seen other leaders do that, so that certainly didn't seem surprising because it works, right? We've seen them use it because it works.

You debunk a handful of myths, and one is a myth that President Trump parroted in this call, that Joe Biden lobbied to fire a prosecutor to help his son, Hunter Biden. Explain this.

JANKOWICZ: Joe Biden was the Ukraine enforcer for the Obama administration. He was our highest-level envoy. After the revolution, we came in and tried to support Ukraine as much as we could with all sorts of aid. That all came with stipulations, including anti-corruption reform.

The next president in Ukraine who came put in a pretty corrupt prosecutor. It was clear he was doing more to stall anti-corruption reform than actually doing his job and prosecuting those cases, including one against this company Burisma, on which Hunter Biden sat on the board.

So the president came in and said, if we're giving you a $1 million loan guarantee, it's important you remove this prosecutor. This was a consensus among the international community. It wasn't something that came out of the blue that Biden was doing for his own personal reasons.

And Poroshenko removed the prosecutor, they got the loan guarantee. And by doing that, appointing a new prosecutor, Biden was inviting more investigation into that company that his son was sitting on the board of.

KEILAR: It's such an important fact check that we have to revisit as we go through this.

Nina, thank you so much. We really appreciate you sharing your knowledge with us.

JANKOWICZ: Thank you for having me.

KEILAR: President Trump calling the whistleblower a spy and threatening retaliation, sending chills through the Intel Community. And now those comments are on video.



KEILAR: In a new CNN documentary Dr. Sanjay Gupta takes us inside the booming and unregulated CBD industry and how a growing number of people are vaping it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Vaping CBD. It's one of the most popular ways to take it. And 30 percent of CBD users do it. And it turns out vaping is likely what made their tainted CBD so much more dangerous.

DR. MICHELLE PEACE, RESEARCHER, VIRGINIA COMMONWEALTH UNIVERSITY: When we're talking about positive fix for something like CBD, and you're inhaling it by vaping it, that's probably going to be an effective delivery system.

GUPTA: I traveled to Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond to meet researcher, Michelle Peace, who's investigating vaping during this CBD craze.

PEACE: But if that CBD happens to be tainted, you're increasing a rapid response of whatever it's adulterated with, which is some of the concern here.


KEILAR: Sanjay Gupta is with us now.

A lot of consumers will be surprised to find out CBD is not always safe, Sanjay.

GUPTA: The issue, CBD itself, pure CBD is safe. It can be a medicine, it's non-psychoactive.

The problem, Brianna, it's a totally or wholly unregulated industry, which means when you buy a product you don't have any guarantee that, in fact it is what it says it is.

And some of these cases we're hearing, the people you see in the documentary film, they weren't getting CBD at all. Even though it was labeled CBD, had had no CBD in it, a complete synthetic. That is the problem right now, Brianna.

When they say it's the Wild West of CBD, this is what it looks like. There are responsible folks making this product properly, going through the testing, but they're getting lumped in with the dodgy producers as well.

KEILAR: You've been trying to inform people. You wrote an op-ed on about this. What can people do to say stay of?

GUPTA: I think there will be regulation necessary and the responsible players in this area are welcoming that regulation.

In the interim, someone thinking about buying CBD, one thing to ask for and should get, absolutely get, a certificate of analysis. Sounds like it's complicated but it's a simple thing. Ask for it. It's an independent labs verification that the product you're buying is in fact it what it says it is and doesn't have potentially harmful ingredients.

An important step if you're thinking about buying this. KEILAR: Very good point.

Sanjay, thank you so much.

GUPTA: Thank you.

KEILAR: Appreciate it.


CNN's "special report, "WEED 5, THE CBD CRAZE," premieres Sunday at 8:00 p.m.

We have more on our special coverage of the whistleblower complaint that alleges the president solicited interference in the 2020 election and the White House tried covering it up.

Plus, Geraldo Rivera reveals what he'd do to the, quote, "rotten snitch whistleblower."



KEILAR: This Sunday night, the return of two CNN original series. You can find out the true stories of the agencies protecting the U.S. --