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Pelosi Narrows Impeachment Inquiry; Former Ukraine Prosecutor on Hunter Biden; Questions on Whistleblower Complaint; Stock Market Reaction to Impeachment. Aired 6:30-7a ET
Aired September 27, 2019 - 06:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOE LOCKHART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: They've, you know, that won't take much and I don't think they'll have to do any public information gathering on that.
Secondly, I think the speaker wants to get this done ahead of the campaign next year and get it done while people are focused on it. You -- you've -- you know, it's a chicken and egg thing, but the public -- the polls have moved. The public now is by -- in a poll this morning, supportive by one point of impeachment. That was a 12-point deficit last week.
So I think what she's done is very smart. She's narrowed it. She's put it in probably the best prosecutor's hands, Adam Schiff's, in the most serious committee --
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Taken out of Jerry Nadler's, you're saying?
LOCKHART: Well, and also in the most serious committee, which, you know, you don't have the -- the crazies on the intel committee, except for maybe Mr. Nunes, but that's a whole other subject. So I think by narrowing it, she'll be able to move with enough speed so that they can politically take advantage of this moment, which is a moment.
CAMEROTA: And meaning, just to be clear, Joe, they're narrowing it -- they're not going to include the articles of impeachment from the Mueller report?
LOCKHART: No, I actually think they will. I -- but I think what --
CAMEROTA: How's that narrowing it to Ukraine?
LOCKHART: Well, no. What they're doing is they're narrowing the investigative part of it. The part that we will see in public. My guess is when they actually get to putting articles of impeachment on the floor, they'll have the Mueller stuff, that's already done. We -- there's a 450 page document saying what the president did. And there will be obstruction. And I think it will be under a big umbrella of abuse of power, whether it's obstruction of justice, you know, you talked in the last segment about the -- moving, you know, it down to a special server, the obstruction of justice, the firing Comey. It's a pattern of things. But what we'll see publicly between now and the end of October, maybe through Thanksgiving, is Ukraine, Ukraine, Ukraine.
CAMEROTA: David, isn't it so interesting how things happen so gradually and then suddenly? And so after all of this talk from Democrats that never seem to lead anywhere and now suddenly they might have it prepared by October, which by my clock is next month.
DAVID GREGORY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, it's true. And I agree with Joe that there's been a kind of clarity here and focus around abuse of power. But, you know, until and unless it moves the public and Republicans, nothing's really changed for Nancy Pelosi. When she said that this would be particularly divisive with an election coming up -- we're already in the campaign, of course -- and she hasn't moved Republicans yet. So I think there still is much risk politically for Democrats. It doesn't mean they don't feel compelled to do it and it doesn't mean it's not the right thing to do, but I think there still is much risk for them doing this now. I mean I think the point about impeachment, if you look historically, Andrew Johnson's was, you know, maybe you put that aside, it was after the assassination of Lincoln. But in the case of Nixon, in the case of Clinton, these were in the second terms. You were not facing an election. And I think we're already so tribalized (ph) and polarized in this country politically, I still think this becomes very difficult to move forward.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: I think it's very interesting, what the Republican response has been. Not tons of Republicans coming out and saying they see problems here, but Mitt Romney, Ben Sasse, we heard Mike Turner in the hearing yesterday.
And then, for some reason, there are all these Republican senators who seem to have lost their reading glasses completely because they said that they hadn't read this complaint as of noon yesterday. We read the complaint in real time in less than three minutes. (INAUDIBLE).
CAMEROTA: And, by the way, I couldn't stop reading it. After that, it's -- it's a fascinating complaint. It's short. Senator -- you know, lawmakers, you can do this. It's short and riveting.
GREGORY: Right. It's not the Mueller report. It's a lot shorter.
CAMEROTA: It's not the Mueller report. This is -- these are the cliff notes.
BERMAN: So, David, very quickly on that point, I do wonder if there are Republicans who are pausing here before they give too boisterous of a defense.
GREGORY: Yes, I think they are. I mean I think there's no question the Republicans are worried they'd have to be, of course, on the face of it. But there is more information to come out. This is narrow. This is focused. But there are some a dozen White House officials who are named in this complaint as being concerned about the president's behavior. And the president takes that seriously enough to try to threaten them and treat them as spies. So there's a lot more that could come out here as an inquiry is officially underway.
CAMEROTA: So, Joe, what's going on behind the scenes? Tell us again because when you got word that Newt Gingrich was launching this impeachment effort or inquiry, what starts happening? What is happening this morning in the White House if it were functioning the way you'd experienced it?
LOCKHART: Well, the interesting thing is, a lot of people have talked about, this has, you know, come on the White House in the last week and it's landed on them and it's just not true. We know from "The New York Times" reporting this morning that they knew about this in August. But it is typical of this White House and part of the problem, which is, they don't have either the communications or political infrastructure to deal with these crises.
Their response is the same no matter what the crisis is, which is, which is, the president tweets and then everybody runs in behind it.
And right now you have the complete communications plans for this White House is to have Rudy Giuliani go on television and make things worse, arguably. He is going to be at some point restricted because he's going to be a center of this investigation. It's very hard to have someone who's accused of something out talking about it. And you have the president and the president is, you know, continuing his politics of grievance and then retweeting people from Fox. That does nothing to speak to the majority of the country.
So they are unprepared for this and the idea of bringing in, you know, a bomb thrower like Corey Lewandowski to run this makes it even worse.
BERMAN: Has he called you to ask for advice yet?
LOCKHART: Corey or the president?
BERMAN: Corey. Given the -- given that you ran in a way the war room that Corey now is reportedly being considered to run, if he called you for advice, what would you say to him?
LOCKHART: I'd tell him that they need to take everything they've done for two and a half years and turn it upside down and to get the president to start focusing on kitchen table issues, saying this investigation is real, people will come to their own conclusions, I'm focused on the people. And the possibility of that happening is exactly zero.
CAMEROTA: OK. David, Joe, thank you both very much.
So the former Ukrainian prosecutor who met with Rudy Giuliani to discuss investigating Joe Biden is now speaking out. We have a live report from Kiev, next.
CAMEROTA: The former Ukrainian prosecutor tied to this Trump/Ukraine scandal is speaking out and telling "The Washington Post" that Joe Biden's son, Hunter, did not violate any laws.
CNN's Matthew Chance is live in Kiev with more.
This is so confusing. That's what the whole thing was supposed to be founded on according to, you know, Rudy Giuliani and the president.
MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it is confusing. I'll try and clear it up for you a little bit.
But, you know, there's been contradictory statements released by this guy, Yuri Lutsenko, the former prosecutor general of Ukraine. He's been saying since May that, you know, the Bidens did nothing wrong. But before that, he was one of the leading advocates of the sort of speculation, the conspiracy theory that Joe Biden as vice president acted inappropriately in urging the former president of the Ukraine to dismiss the prosecutor general. So, I mean, he's basically the source of that -- of that rumor.
Not so much the source, but the main point of contact inside the Ukrainian authorities for Rudy Giuliani and therefore the Trump administration in its kind of efforts to find dirt on Joe Biden. It seems that Yuri Lutsenko reached out to Rudy Giuliani back in January of 2019. They met in that month. They met in the following month as well in which we expected they discussed all sorts of issues relating to this.
And it was a huge thing for Rudy Giuliani as well to come into contact with this man. But this wasn't a guy who just walked in off the street. He was the prosecutor general of Ukraine. And so it was enormously attractive and tempting for the Trump administration to go with this and they did seem to go into it whole hog.
I mean we've seen now that White House transcript of the conversation on July the 25th between President Trump and his Ukrainian counterpart, Volodymyr Zelensky, where the president of the U.S. actually advocated for this prosecutor general who had already been essentially on his way out as being dismissed by President Zelensky. He said, you know, I heard you had a prosecutor who was very good. And he was shut down. And that was really unfair.
This is talking about Yuri Lutsenko. It's something that came out in the -- in the whistleblower report as well. And it seems to have been a main point of contention, or one of the points of contention, between the Trump administration and the authorities -- the government in Ukraine.
Back to you.
BERMAN: Well, some of Rudy Giuliani's sources seem to be drying up at this crucial moment.
Matthew Chance, thank you very much for being with us now.
So the future of the Trump presidency could hinge on answers to some key, new questions. What are they? That's next.
CAMEROTA: There are so many questions this morning now that we have seen and read the whistleblower complaint.
Michael Smerconish has a list of the questions that vexes him the most. If only we could -- oh, good, he's here.
Joining us now is CNN political commentator --
BERMAN: He -- if Smerconish is vexed, we're in for it.
CAMEROTA: Michael Smerconish. How convenient that you're here with your questions.
OK, Michael, great to see you.
Let's start with your first question. What evidence will emerge to corroborate the cover-up charge? Don't we already know about this code word protected computer? Is that -- do you need more?
MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, I need more. I want to know more than the whistleblower provided in the complaint. The whistleblower makes reference to more than half a dozen U.S. official who provided this information.
Let's meet them and let's evaluate them. I imagine, Alisyn, that there's a whole slew of people who today were unaware of their identity. Think Fawn Hall, who all of a sudden are going to become household words in America. Let's look at them. I can't just take the word for this. I want to see the people behind it and know more.
CAMEROTA: I like the timing of this because the last -- when Fawn Hall was in the news, I went as Fawn Hall for Halloween, OK, that year. I have time to go before this Halloween as whoever is going to emerge. Thank you.
BERMAN: Can I tell you, I have ages of notes of preparation and the one thing I apparently left out or didn't even consider --
CAMEROTA: Is what I did for Halloween that year.
BERMAN: Is Fawn Hall for Halloween.
Michael, there is a key point on that, which is that the White House, which has known about all of this since the middle of August, has not denied in any way the form or substance of that specific allegation, which is that the notes from this call were moved to a more secure server. That didn't happen in the last 24 hours. I find that very interesting.
Let me give you your second question here, will the whistleblower withstand scrutiny regarding alleged political bias? Well, the inspector general, in the intelligence community, says that while there may have been bias there, he still finds this complaint credible and of urgent concern.
SMERCONISH: That's true. I'm just drawing attention to that line in the OLC legal opinion that says that there was some indicia of an arguable political bias on the part of the complainant in favor of a rival, political candidate. I -- look, I want to know everything. I want to know everything. So I want to know what exactly is that a reference to.
John, common sense tells me, this is -- this is according to "The New York Times," a CIA employee. That person's been vetted. It's not as if they went out on the street and they grabbed, you know, a talk show host and all of a sudden that's the person who's going to be subject to a proctological (ph).
My expectation is that this person is going to have some credibility. But, nevertheless, we need to see how they undergo the scrutiny.
CAMEROTA: OK, your next question is, can congressional Democrats resist pursuing everything? Meaning, you -- you are waiting to see if they will really narrow an impeachment inquiry to the Ukraine issue.
SMERCONISH: Yes. And I've been paying attention to your discussion this morning and I know that that's what Speaker Pelosi is now trying to determine. I also saw Congresswoman Maxine Waters do some interviews yesterday and she seems to me like, you know, she really wants a piece of this.
It will be a mistake if the Democrats use a shotgun blast instead of a sniper approach. This should not be for their interest if their interest is ruining the president, and it is. It shouldn't be about the Mueller report. It shouldn't be about those ten alleged instances of obstruction. It shouldn't be about gas that was purchased in Scotland for the Air Force. It shouldn't be about emoluments. It should be about this and this only. Otherwise, it will play into the president's complaint that it's all a witch hunt.
BERMAN: And then your last two questions, and I'll just shorthand them, Michael, deal with the political implications here for the presidential race.
SMERCONISH: So, in the end, I mean, does Joe Biden win the battle but lose the war? Even if the allegations that have been made about the vice president and Hunter Biden have no merit, nevertheless, does it seep into the consciousness of voters and do they start to challenge that great strength that he has, which is the electability argument? And I don't think we're going to know that for quite some time.
And I also raise, I think, an important question. You know the president is going to continue to dig with Rudy about Hunter Biden. If they uncover some information, how will the media handle it and will the media be prepared to deal with it on the merits whatever they may be?
CAMEROTA: Well, the problem is, is that Rudy Giuliani and the president are not necessarily a trustworthy source on Hunter Biden. I mean they've already made claim that if you trace it back to the origin of it, come from, you know, a wildly partisan talk show host, to your point, or come from this prosecutor who was ousted who has changed his story six ways to Sunday. So it is going to be a real challenge, Michael.
SMERCONISH: But I -- I keep reading these stories that say there is no truth to any of this. And many of them come -- the print versions -- with embedded links. And when I click on the embedded link, I just don't get answers to all of my questions.
For example, why was Barisma (ph) being investigated to begin with? I want to see the definitive analysis, just because I'm a guy who asks a lot of questions. Adam Entis (ph), who wrote that "New Yorker" piece, was on my show on CNN last weekend and that's as close as I think we come. But I want to know everything. That's what I'm saying.
CAMEROTA: Us too.
BERMAN: And there is an impeachment investigation going on right now, coincidentally, just for you.
Michael Smerconish, thank you very much.
CAMEROTA: Thanks, Michael.
Tune in to "SMERCONISH" tomorrow morning at 9:00 a.m. Eastern. Michael will be speaking with the executive editor of "The Washington Post" and Democratic candidate Tom Steyer.
BERMAN: All right, two names for you, J. Lo and Shakira.
CAMEROTA: Oh, yes.
BERMAN: And apparent a video that maybe we should keep watching.
CAMEROTA: I think we should.
BERMAN: They're going to be part of the half-time show, I'm told, at the Super Bowl.
CAMEROTA: I know. That's going to be a fantastic half-time show. You're right, John.
BERMAN: Yes. We'll have details, next.
BERMAN: All right, so you may have seen this yesterday. President Trump claiming, without evidence, that the stock markets would crash if he is impeached. But that is not the biggest threat to the economy right now.
Chief business correspondent Christine Romans joins us with how the markets have reacted to impeachment.
CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Hi, guys.
You know, that's right, John, President Trump tweeted Thursday, do you think it was luck that got us to the best stock market and economy in our history? It wasn't. We've, obviously, fact checked that. It's not the best economy or stock market in history. But he's saying an impeachment would crash the stock market.
Impeachment is so rare. History just really isn't a really great guide.
During the Nixon era, the market faltered because the economy wasn't strong. Remember -- remember the energy crisis? Stocks fell 33 percent.
The impeachment of President Bill Clinton had zero effect on confidence in the economy. In fact, from the day the House voted to impeach Clinton, to the day the Senate voted not to remove him from office, the S&P 500 rose 27 percent. Bottom line, the health of the underlying economy, Trump's impeachment, pun intended.
And, look, at least right now it's unlikely the Senate will remove Trump from office. The risk -- the real risk for investors is maybe Trump chaos fatigue causes him to lose in 2020. And he's also warned this before. Remember, he said if a Democrat beats him, for example, the stock market would crash. He's almost becoming the president who cried stock market wolf. The bigger threat to stocks here, the trade war with China. The president's own trade war with China. Or maybe freezing up in the lending markets. Something the New York Fed has been battling in the last couple of weeks. Or some shock that we don't foresee in the 10-year-old bull market, Alisyn.
BERMAN: That would be the boy who cried the wolf of Wall Street.
ROMANS: The boy -- there you go. I'd see that movie.
CAMEROTA: Sounds like impeachment could help the economy from what you're hearing, or it did with Clinton.
Thank you very much, Christine.
OK, two big music superstars teaming up for America's biggest sporting event. Look at this. I mean it said for me to talk right now, but I feel like we don't need to talk. I feel like we could just watch this. Yes, that's J. Lo. and Shakira. They'll be headline the Super Bowl halftime show in Miami on February 2nd. The super star singers each have close ties to Miami. J. Lo. says performing at the Super Bowl is a dream come true for her and even more because she will share this stage with a fellow Latina.
BERMAN: I don't usually get to watch the halftime show because the Patriots are in the game every year and I have to use that time.