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Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) is Interviewed on Ukraine Situation; Whistleblower Alleges White House Cover-up. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired September 27, 2019 - 08:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[08:30:00]

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Do you feel that that is tantamount to witness intimidation. And, if so, could that in and of itself become ultimately an article of impeachment?

REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D-CA): Good morning, John and Alisyn.

This national nightmare continues. The president's comments, those are comments intended to intimidate future witnesses. And I do think it should be considered when we draw up articles of impeachment.

And it just fits the pattern of behavior here that shows a consciousness of guilt. Innocent people don't talk that way. People who have nothing to worry about don't worry about whether anyone would quote/unquote spy on them. And so it's sad that it's been reduced to this and we're at this place in our country's history, but we're no longer powerless. And you see now 223 people, colleagues of mine, a former Republican and Democrats determined to act.

BERMAN: All right, this has all developed fairly quickly here over the last two weeks and at lightning pace over the last 48 hours. But I want to get to what the process is going to be over the next few days and weeks in your investigation. How is this going to work? How much do you really need to investigate because you now have the notes from that phone call, if you want to impeach or draft up articles of impeachment on -- leaning on the president of Ukraine, all you have to do is cut and paste from the notes from that conversation.

So, what is the investigation going to focus on?

SWALWELL: We should move swiftly, but not hurriedly. And we should focus on this Ukraine call. It's presidential extortion and, as a former prosecutor, John, I can tell you that cases are made much easier when the defendant cops to the act. And here the president is not denying what he said, he's just saying that it's OK to say that.

In fact, John, he said in 2016 that he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and get away with it. And, right now, he is holding the weapon in his hand. And we will find out if he is, indeed, right about who we are as Americans. So we will --

BERMAN: But, Congressman, what will you -- again, what will you investigate? What more do you need to know then about that call? SWALWELL: I don't believe we need to know much more. And I would, you

know, recommend to my colleagues that we keep this simple. That, of course, the president is entitled to a fair process, like anyone, but that we don't need to have months-long hearings. We don't need to hear from people who are going to show up and insist on executive privileges that don't exist. We have the president's own words. And we have his conduct after the fact that goes to the consciousness of guilt, of trying to threaten witnesses.

BERMAN: What about what Nancy Pelosi yesterday called the cover-up, which is the whistleblower complaint right now, which alleges that records of this conversation were moved to a super-secret server. What questions do you believe are essential involving that?

SWALWELL: It's an ongoing cover-up, John. We have reason to believe it's happening right now. The inspector general told us that the urgent and credible concern persists right now, as much as it did a month ago.

So what we can do is we can seek to find if, indeed, calls with Putin, calls with MBS of Saudi Arabia, calls with Erdogan of Turkey have been moved into this top-secret server to protect the president.

But, again, we have to be laser-like in our focus here. And the only way to protect the future election and to uphold our duty to the Constitution, I think, is to move swiftly, not hurriedly, on this act the president has committed with Ukraine.

BERMAN: OK. I get that. But what does it matter if other calls have been treated the same way? Is the action of choosing where to store this call impeachable in and of itself, or does it have to be indicative of something else?

SWALWELL: Well, again, it goes to a consciousness of guilt. It's, why would they do this? And improperly using the classification system is a violation of the law. And these transcripts are not supposed to be classified for political purposes. So if he has other shady dealings, it would be those dealings that would probably be violations of the law.

But, John, again, I want to focus on --

BERMAN: Sure.

SWALWELL: What he did with Ukraine. I think that is -- that is the act that most Americans understand and it relates to a future election. And I think that's what the speaker was talking about.

BERMAN: So, OK, if you want to focus just on Ukraine then, what does that mean about who you will be speaking with? Does that mean you won't call witnesses necessarily to corroborate the idea of where this information was stored?

SWALWELL: You know, we need to hear from the whistleblower, and that would probably be in a private setting. And the whistleblower effectively, you know, went to a tip line. And that's not the front- row witnesses. He spoke to the front-row witnesses and those are people we may want to hear from.

But again, John, when the defendant or the suspect cops to the crime, you really can start crossing off witnesses you need to talk to.

BERMAN: Well, I -- but are there witnesses, though? I am very -- I genuinely am curious. And I want to know, beyond the whistleblower, who I imagine you will speak with, and I certainly hope it's behind closed doors or else it would violate every tentative of the whistleblower construct.

[08:35:07]

But who, beyond that, is essential? There's Rudy Giuliani. There's William Barr. Are you crossing them off the list? It's people who the whistleblower calls White House officials who express concern to him. Are they on the list?

SWALWELL: I'll leave that to our chairman. I will just say, in my opinion, as a former prosecutor, you don't necessarily need another Corey Lewandowski-like hearing with someone like Rudy Giuliani, who's going to come in and shout at Congress or assert privileges that don't economist and just gum this up in the courts. You have the president admitting to the crime and then, after the fact, threatening people to not come forward.

BERMAN: All right, I think this is very interesting. It seems to be suggesting that he -- you're suggesting that much less is more as far as you're concerned. And, in your mind, this could all be over fairly soon.

Congressman Eric Swalwell, thanks for coming in today.

SWALWELL: Thanks, John.

BERMAN: Appreciate it.

SWALWELL: My pleasure.

CAMEROTA: Very interesting to hear from him in that tact.

All right, now on an entire separate note --

BERMAN: Now to something completely different.

CAMEROTA: Now to something completely different. CBD is widely regarded as a safe form of medical marijuana, at least by its users. But Dr. Sanjay Gupta has a warning, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[08:40:37]

CAMEROTA: A recent study shows that one out of seven Americans uses CBD. That's the non-psychoactive part of the marijuana plants.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta looks at the science behind medical marijuana in a CNN special report called "Weed 5: The CBD Craze." It premieres this Sunday. So here's a little preview.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Why did you do it?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I didn't think there was any risk in trying it. Yes, I'd never heard about anybody having any negative effects from it, so I thought that I had nothing to lose.

I took two puffs off of it. The next thing I know I'm, you know, feeling crazy, not thinking straight, not being able to move.

GUPTA (voice over): Within seconds, Jay appeared to have lost consciousness and started to have frightening hallucinations. His friend drove him to Lexington Medical Center where he started having seizures.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On the Glasgow coma scale, they said that I scored a three.

GUPTA (on camera): So 15 is basically normal.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Fifteen.

GUPTA: And three is brain dead, essentially.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, sir.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CAMEROTA: Oh, my gosh! Sanjay, it sounds like that young man almost died from CBD?

GUPTA: Yes. Well, look, this is a really interesting story. Maybe one of the most important stories here.

CBD is generally safe. CBD is non-psychoactive, as you mentioned. It can be a medicine. The problem is, and the problem that's occurring in -- for many people is that this wasn't CBD. He went -- he bought this at a gas station, paid for it with a credit card, you know, thought he was doing everything right. When this product was consequently tested, it had no CBD in it at all. It was entirely a synthetic.

And that's part of the issue right now. This has become widely available. People buying it in all sorts of stores. You need to keep in mind, there is really no regulation around this. There's no regulation that requires these products be authentic, that they be safe, that they be tested ahead of time. So when they say the wild west right now, this is exactly what it means.

I mean Jay survived, is doing well, but there's a lot of people who have gotten sick because they thought they took something and they were taking something else.

BERMAN: The stores are everywhere. You see the product advertised in all kinds of different things -- GUPTA: That's right.

BERMAN: From, you know, rugs, to coffee, to everything.

GUPTA: Yes.

BERMAN: You know, so you wrote this great cnn.com article to go with "Weed 5," which is a great name, about medical marijuana. You said, we are in the age of wisdom, but also the age of foolishness.

So do you think consumers are being foolish when it comes to CBD?

GUPTA: Yes, obviously, took that from Dickens himself.

Look, I think the foolishness really refers to the lack of regulation. I mean it's amazing to me, I've been covering this for six years, for so long there was so much regulation on all cannabis products, cannabis molecules, schedule 1, highly addictive, no medical benefit. Seemingly overnight, hemp, CBD, is legal everywhere because of the farm bill. So it was like drinking from a fire hose in the middle of a drought for this community. And there was no regulation around it.

So people who often very well intentioned, want to take these products in pursuit of good health for something, all of a sudden are getting something that's entirely different than what they expected. That has to be fixed. If you're going to sell these products you aren't the auspices of, maybe this could do some good for your body, for your health, whatever, it's got to at least be safe. It's got to at least be what it says it is. And right now there's no guarantees of that.

BERMAN: All right, Sanjay, thank you very much.

"Weed 5: The CBD Craze" airs Sunday night at 8:00 p.m. Eastern only on CNN.

And I do want to note that these specials from Sanjay for years now have been critical and have moved the public discourse and public policy on this.

CAMEROTA: Absolutely! I can't wait to watch it. I mean I personally find reality weird enough, but that's me.

All right, here's what else to watch today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ON SCREEN TEXT: 9:30 a.m. ET, Speaker Pelosi holds news conference.

5:00 p.m. ET, Joe Biden campaign event in Las Vegas.

6:30 p.m. ET, President Trump speaks at White House reception.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: All right, President Trump has slammed the whistleblower sources as spies, hinting at some kind of harsh punishment for them. [08:45:05]

We're going to get reaction from the former chair of the House Intelligence Committee, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CAMEROTA: President Trump appeared to be lashing out at the people who gave the information to the whistleblower at the center of this impeachment inquiry. So listen to this moment.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I want to know, who's the person that gave the whistleblower -- who's the person that gave the whistleblower the information, because that's close to a spy. You know what we used to do in the old days when we were smart, right, with spies and treason, right? We used to handle it a little differently than we do now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CAMEROTA: All right, joining us now with reaction to this and so much more, we have CNN national security commentator Mike Rogers. He's the former chairman of the House Intelligence Committee and host of CNN's "DECLASSIFIED."

Hi.

MIKE ROGERS, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY COMMENTATOR: How are you? Good morning.

[08:50:01]

CAMEROTA: I'm well. I --

ROGERS: I like your new set.

CAMEROTA: Thank you very much.

ROGERS: (INAUDIBLE). Yes.

CAMEROTA: It's great to have you here in the set.

ROGERS: Thanks.

CAMEROTA: Is whistleblower the same as a spy?

ROGERS: No, absolutely not. You know, this is the one thing about Trump is, he would say this probably in his New York real estate office, if he was frustrated, that would come out. The one thing about Trump, it just comes out wherever. There doesn't seem to be a filter for responsible conversation as president of the United States. And, to me, that's just a great example. You should never set that example that people who believed that there are criminal acts or wrongdoing, or someone's not following the rules, should not have access to the whistleblower podium (ph).

BERMAN: And, look, at this point it could also be witness intimidation for people who might be involved in an impeachment inquiry. Congressman Eric Swalwell, who we just spoke with, saying he could see that conceivably being an article of impeachment in and of itself.

And at the risk of saying an interview I just did was interesting, an interview I just did was very interesting, Mr. Chairman, which is Swalwell suggested that the impeachment inquiry is really going to be laser focused on just the phone conversation. Just how and to what extent did President Trump lean on the leader of Ukraine to go after a political opponent? And the other stuff, maybe not as important. It isn't, you know, it's not the crime, it's the cover-up. He's suggesting here it might just be the crime.

ROGERS: Yes, this is a big change from where they were, I think, even 24 hours ago. The Democrats were talking about the center piece of this being the whistleblower, and the phone call. What I think that says to me is they've changed their legal tactic here. They're going to focus only on the phone call because of the difficulties investigating the whistleblower complaint. And he -- the congressman mentioned a few of those. Hey, we think that they'll be declaring executive privilege. Yes, it will be hard.

I think this is a big mistake for the Democrats --

CAMEROTA: Why?

ROGERS: If you're going to impeach a duly elected president of the United States, I think you have to do all of it and you have to do it right and you have to put it out in front of the American public so they can understand where you're going.

This, to me, when they do this narrow thing, we're going to do this in a hurry, we're going to give him a fair hearing, but we're going to impeach him soon, I just -- that serves to separate Americans. I think they ought to stop all of that rhetoric, go and do their investigation, and then try to present a case to the American people if they want to go that far. I think impeachment is -- and we have to understand what's going to happen. It will separate America in a way that -- that would be troubling for me, so they better be right.

CAMEROTA: But what about the argument that if you look at the transcript of the phone call, it's all right there? You see the ask. You see the do me a favor.

ROGERS: Yes.

CAMEROTA: You see the, I'm going to need to you talk to Rudy about all of this.

ROGERS: Clearly, this is bad and it's wrong. And I've said it on air before, all -- but I do believe in due process. So the other team also gets an opportunity to come in and say, well, let me put this in context for you. You didn't -- you don't know the whole context. You don't know the whole conversation that we had. This isn't as bad as what you think it is, so I'm going to go ahead and explain it. So they get that opportunity if you'll let them. And my argument is, you have to let them. If you believe in due process, you have to let them. Just because you like Trump or don't like Trump or disagree with his politics or love his politics, everybody in this country gets due process.

And what we're talking about doing is undoing a legal election in the United States. It might be the right answer for them. It might not be, depending on where you fall. But I'll tell you, if we're going to do that in this country, we better do it right.

And so think about the credibility issues leading into this. They've been calling for impeachment on x and y and z and now they're got one and they're going forward with it. That -- that disturb (ph) people.

BERMAN: Well, except Pelosi -- Pelosi's blocked it until now. So it's -- you know, she successfully kept it from happening until now. So this is different.

And just to make one last point, Swalwell did make clear, they do want to talk to the whistleblower. The whistleblower is going to be a witness. Maybe even only one the only witnesses they seem interested in bringing in. So that does (INAUDIBLE).

ROGERS: Well, the only thing -- if -- you can't have a witness that wasn't a direct witness to the material facts. So you -- they are going to have to have other witnesses.

BERMAN: Right.

ROGERS: You can't just bring the person who said I heard somebody or somebody told me this. You're going to have to bring all the people who told that particular witness if you're going to do it correctly.

CAMEROTA: That's a good point.

OK, so tell us about the new season of "DECLASSIFIED: Untold Stories of American Spies," but don't tell us yet. We have a clip. Watch this.

ROGERS: Oh, I love that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now, it's the day before 9/11. So we start trying to game plan, how is this guy going to make it into New York?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And so what they did was they set up individuals at all entry points into New York City.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The great thing about working with the Joint Terrorism Task Force is that you have NYPD, you have the Port Authority. So we're talking with the Port Authority cops as to what they've got to do at each of these spots.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We cannot let this guy get into Manhattan with a bomb in his car. So we need to do a vehicle stop and we need to try to do it in such a manner to not overly raise his suspicion.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So he was coming up the Jersey Turnpike. And we've got the surveillance team calling it out. Where is he? We start at the Outerbridge Crossing. He doesn't take that.

[08:55:02]

And then he goes up to the Goethals Bridge and he doesn't get off. And he goes to the Holland Tunnel and he doesn't get off. And then he goes to the Lincoln Tunnel and he doesn't get off. Well, the only place he can go now if he's coming to New York is the George Washington Bridge.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CAMEROTA: You've got our attention.

ROGERS: It's (INAUDIBLE) -- it's an exciting episode because it shows, a, that they only had a few days, which is very rare in a terrorist case like this, they only had a few days to react. This was an operational plan by someone who was trained at an al Qaeda training camp in Pakistan, and it was a go. They had all of the folks, they were assembling bomb materials. They were going to set off bombs in the New York City subway system. And if it weren't for the work of the Joint Terrorism Task Force across the country, and the National Security Agency, we may have had a different story. And this really lays it out in a way I think people are going to find fascinating.

BERMAN: Mike Rogers, excited to see it. Thank you for coming in this morning.

ROGERS: Thanks for having me.

BERMAN: Appreciate it.

CAMEROTA: Great to see you.

BERMAN: You can watch the new season of "DECLASSIFIED: UNTOLD STORIES OF AMERICAN SPIES." It premiers this Sunday at 9:00 p.m. only on CNN.

CAMEROTA: OK, CNN has just gotten a new interview with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi as the battle over impeachment intensifies.

CNN's coverage continues right after this quick break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:00:00]