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Pompeo Subpoenaed For Ukraine Documents By Three House Committees In Impeachment Probe; Interview with Sen. Bob Menendez (D- NJ); Biden Comments on Trump Impeachment Probe; Rough Transcript of Call Shows Ukraine Leader Flattering Trump Effusively. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired September 27, 2019 - 17:00   ET


JAKE TAPPER, CNN THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER: -- morning for State of the Union.


My guest will include Congressman Hakeem Jeffries, Republican member of the House Judiciary Committee, Congressman Jim Jordan, and Democratic Presidential Candidate, Senator Cory Booker, 9:00 A.M., noon Eastern on Sunday.

Our coverage on CNN continues right now. Have a great weekend.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN THE SITUATION ROOM: Happening now, breaking news, issuing subpoenas. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has just been subpoenaed by three House committees demanding Ukraine documents as the impeachment inquiry quickly accelerates. Hearings could start as soon as next week.

Moving transcripts, the White House corroborates the whistleblower complaint, admitting its own national security attorneys ordered the rough transcript of the Ukraine call moved to a highly classified computer system, claiming it was designed to cut down on leaks.

On tweet time, President Trump erupts in a Twitter tirade, fuming about the impeachment inquiry, the whistleblower and House Democrats, painting himself as the victim of a media conspiracy and declaring, and I'm quoting now, we're in a war.

And forced flattery? The rough transcript of the Ukraine call shows the country's president is the latest leader to heap praise on President Trump in hopes of getting what they want with no compliment too over the top.

I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in The Situation Room.

The breaking news this hour, the House impeachment inquiry into President Trump is rapidly picking up speed. Three House committees have just subpoenaed the Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, demanding documents pertaining to Ukraine that he has failed to produce so far. And Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff tells CNN, we could see impeachment hearings and more subpoenas as soon as next week, with some Democrats hoping for actual impeachment of the president possibly by Thanksgiving. We'll talk about breaking news with Senator Bob Menendez, the top Democrat in the Foreign Relations Committee. And our correspondents and analysts are also standing by.

First, let's go straight to Capitol Hill. Our Congressional Correspondent, Sunlen Serfaty, is getting new information.

Sunlen, foreign affairs, the intelligence, the oversight committees, together, they have now subpoenaed the Secretary of State for documents.

SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. Things are escalating very quickly for the administration this evening. Tonight, the Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, he has been subpoenaed by these three very powerful committees here on Capitol Hill, they say (ph), for documents related to the Ukraine probe, which, of course, is the new focus, the new center of the impeachment inquiry into President Trump.

Now, Pompeo has failed to turn over the documents that this committee have requested, many times documents related to President Trump, related to his personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, and their role and their dealings with the Ukrainian government.

So this subpoena is essentially is to try to compel Mike Pompeo to turn over the documents they want. And they've set a deadline of next Friday, October 4th.

Now, all of this comes as the House Intelligence Committee, they are making moves of their own, and, of course, significant that they are the committee that's leading the impeachment inquiry, Adam Schiff, today, telling CNN that he does anticipate likely a hearing next week, significant given that it is during a two-week congressional recess.

He has told his members of the committee to be on standby, ready to come back to Washington if need be. He says, they will be moving as expeditiously as possible and subpoenaing evidence and hearing depositions over the recess. Of course, top priority is potentially getting that whistleblower in front of the committee. And many members, Wolf, of that committee also want see people like Rudy Giuliani, like the attorney general in front of their committee as well. Wolf?

BLITZER: All right. Sunlen, thank you. Sunlen Serfaty on Capitol Hill.

The White House strategy so far is to attack the whistleblower, even as it continues to confirm the most damaging allegations in the complaint. Let's go to our Chief White House Correspondent, Jim Acosta.

Jim, the president he's been on a Twitter tirade over this.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: He certainly has, Wolf. President Trump is continuing to lash out over the whistleblower complaint that's launched these impeachment maneuverings up on Capitol Hill. The president stayed behind closed doors for most of the day as the White House wrestles with whether it is time to beefing things up in terms of its team for the fight that is coming up on Capitol Hill.

But one source close to the White House told me earlier this afternoon a lot of the people in the president's orbit believe the Ukraine investigation is worse than usual for the president.


ACOSTA: Taking cover in his social media bunker, President Trump is painting the mysterious whistleblower as a turncoat who can't be trusted, tweeting, sounding more and more like the so-called whistleblower isn't a whistleblower at all. In addition, all secondhand information that proved to be so inaccurate that there may not have even been somebody else, a leaker or spy feeding to him or her, a partisan operative?

But one key part of the whistleblower's complaint is adding up as the White House acknowledged its own national security attorneys directed aides to move the rough transcript from the president's call with the leader of Ukraine to a highly classified system.


DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: The whistleblower, it turned out to be a thing, a highly partisan whistleblower.

ACOSTA: The president is crying foul, describing himself as the victim of conspiracy orchestrated by the deep state and the media.

TRUMP: We're at war. These people are sick. They're sick. And nobody is calling it out on them (ph). I don't understand. People are afraid to call that call out. They are afraid to say that the press is crooked. We have a crooked press. We have a dishonest media.

ACOSTA: But House Democrats appear to have seen enough and are making a list of Trump figures who should testify under oath, including the president's personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, who insists he was talking to Ukrainian officials about former Vice President Joe Biden with the blessing of some aides at the State Department.

RUDY GIULIANI, PRESIDENT TRUMP'S ATTORNEY: They basically knew everything I was doing, so it is being done with the authorization and at the request. And then I have a final one, in which they -- there's a big thank you about how my honest and straightforward discussion led to solving a problem in the relationship. So I think I should get some kind of an award.

ACOSTA: Democrats want to hear more about that.

REP. JACKIE SPEIER (D-CA): I actually think that Rudy Giuliani is digging himself a deeper hole. And I do believe that he is the political henchman for the president, not am attorney, not a person that is working for the State Department. ACOSTA: But there are also questions for Attorney General William Barr, mentioned by name by Mr. Trump in that call with the Ukrainian president.

REP. MIKE QUIGLEY (D-IL): I would. I think, first, let's remember, he applied for this job by arguing against the Special Counsel's work. He has acted not as an independent attorney general but a Special Counsel for the president of the United States during the Mueller investigation and certainly now.

ACOSTA: The president demanded resignation of House Intelligence Committee Adam Schiff, who mocked Mr. Trump's Ukraine call earlier in the week. Schiff, the president said, must resign and be investigated. He has been doing this for two years. He is a sick man.

Biden is hammering out new lines of attack for the upcoming campaign, tweeting, I believe our election should be decided by the American people, not foreign governments, as Mr. Trump's former foe was warning the president should be stopped.

HILLARY CLINTON (D), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He has endangered us all by putting his personal and political interests ahead of the interest of the American people.

But this is ultimately about much more than Donald Trump. It is about us.


ACOSTA: Now, tonight, White House officials appear to be souring on the idea of bringing in former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski to lead a rapid response war room for an impeachment fight over here at the White House. Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney is now opposed to that idea, we are told, and the president was angry when he heard about the proposal. As one official put it to us earlier today, Wolf, no one here sees a need for adding anyone to this inside team here at the White House. Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. Jim, thank you. Jim Acosta over at the White House.

Want to bring in our Chief National Security Correspondent, Jim Sciutto.

Jim, the White House argues the decision to move the documents around this call with the president of Ukraine was designed to get it to a highly secure computer system in order to cut down on leaks.

But, first of all, what do you know about the secure computer system?

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: What's clear, this is a way -- this system has never been used before. The system is designed with code word access, so only certain people would have the code word to access what is contained on the system. It's designed specifically to protect the most sensitive intelligence information. This would be things like the sources and methods behind classified intelligence acquired versus foreign adversaries, operations, for instance, involving Osama Bin Laden, that being an example, or secret negotiations with Iran for a nuclear deal. That's the way this kind of thing has been used in the past.

To use it to shield from eyes within the administration, just normal conversations with world leaders that the White House finds politically sensitive would be an entirely new way to use this system. And, by the way, one indication that these calls that were put in the system do not meet that standard of being highly classified information, is when the White House released that transcript to the public, there were no redactions in it, which is the kind of thing you would see if it was previously classified document, that there was still some sensitive information that have to be blacked out, not with that transcript.

BLITZER: And there was another intriguing development we're following. We now know that the Justice Department was actually informed about the whistleblower complaint weeks before there was a formal referral over to the Justice Department to check it out. And it raises all sorts of new questions about how the Justice Department has been handling it.

SCIUTTO: That's right. A full week before the former referral by the Intelligence Community's inspector general, it is another case of this administration and, in this case, the Justice Department not following what is the practice, the intended practice with whistleblower complaints like this.


So one week before the general counsel for the intelligence agency involved, in effect, gave the heads up to the Justice Department that there was this whistleblower complaint about this particular call between the president and Ukrainian president, and crucially that Barr's name was mentioned in that complaint.

So it was referred in advance to the Justice Department and they then let the White House know a full week before formally it was handed over to the Justice Department and other officials. It raises hard questions about, one, why, and two, did it give officials there who had an interest in the investigation of this a chance to see what are they going to do about it. And we know what followed that was that there were efforts to keep the complaint concealed. It's a remarkable delay.

BLITZER: Yes. We'd better get some answers to those questions. And I know the Democrats in the House, they're trying. All right, thanks very much. Jim Sciutto, for that.

Let's get some more on all of this. Democratic Senator Bob Menendez of New Jersey is joining us. He's the ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Senator, thanks so much for joining us. Let me get your quick reaction to the breaking news, not one, not two, but three house committees have just subpoenaed the Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, for documents involving Ukraine, you're calling him to testify as well.

In your eyes, does he bear responsibility for Rudy Giuliani's interference in State Department affairs?

SEN. BOB MENENDEZ (D-NJ): Well, if Rudy Giuliani is telling the truth, then he definitely bears responsibility. Who is Rudy Giuliani as it relates to the State Department or any official position of the United States government? He has none, to my knowledge. He is not an ambassador. He's not a special envoy. He has no specific title. He has not been employed by the federal government. And in that regard, he is the president's private attorney obviously playing the role of henchman in an attempt to dig up dirt on one of the president's potential political opponents.

This is outrageous. This is why I've asked the inspector general of the State Department to investigate as to what the State Department did, what it knew, what the secretary knew, how was Rudy Giuliani facilitated, who was he given access to, what role was he allowed to play for the same documents, many documents of that the House is asking for, which this State Department has not been willing to come forward with.

And so we have the president of the United States perversing and corrupting the use of his power to get a foreign government involved once again in our election and using the resources of the federal government, hundreds of millions of dollars of Congress in a bipartisan way voted to give Ukraine, to defend it against Russia, being held up in an inordinate period of time, over two months, that preceded this call, all in an effort to get dirt on one of the president's political opponents.

This is outrageous as it gets, even for this presidency. It goes to the core of our democracy and our Constitution. And that's what it has to be pursued at every cost (ph).

BLITZER: I've got to quickly move on. But do you know if Rudy Giuliani has security clearances?

MENENDEZ: I'm unaware of any security clearance he has or any official role or unofficial role that he as at the State Department. In all of my intercessions with the Secretary of State and with the State Department, no one has ever told me that Rudy Giuliani plays any role at any level in any way with the State Department.

BLITZER: Members of the House Intelligence Committee, Senator, they want to hear testimony from Giuliani, also from the attorney general, Bill Barr. But what happens if these key witnesses refuse to cooperate?

MENENDEZ: Well, this is where the House can play a much different role than we can in the minority in the Senate. The House has the power to subpoena these individuals. And if they fail to comply with the subpoena, not just for documents, which is what I understand that the House committees did today, but can subpoena the Secretary of State to come before their committee if, in fact, he refuses to do so voluntarily.

I would hope he would do so, voluntarily. I hope he would do so before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. I hope that Chairman Risch will take active participation in doing the oversight, the reviews, the request for documents and the engagement with the Secretary of State because this goes to the very essence of how we're conducting foreign policy and the national interest and security of the United States.

BLITZER: As you know, President Trump, he has attacked you personally this week, implying that you and your colleagues, Democratic colleagues, inappropriately pressured a Ukrainian prosecutor. The fact is you were concerned the prosecutor was blocking Robert Mueller's efforts to investigate Ukraine. But how do you respond specifically to the president's accusations, the attacks against you?


MENENDEZ: Well, this is the president's version of alternative facts. It's like when you're a five-year-old that's caught doing something bad, he wants to change the topic with you. The reality is that this letter sent by myself and two other colleagues was a result of a New York Times investigative piece that suggested that the Ukrainian prosecutor wasn't willing to provide information to Bob Mueller, the Special Counsel, because of fear -- this is 2018 -- fear that then the Trump administration would hold monies from Ukraine that was critically needed to the Ukrainians.

So we basically said, the rule of law should be that you engage and answer the special prosecutor, secondly, that, in fact, your monies should not be a threat at the end of the day, Congress supports this, and asked three specific questions. So far different than the president's effort to use a foreign power to engage in our elections to ultimately affect the outcome.

BLITZER: The whistleblower complaint, as you know, Senator, raises the question of whether the transcript or of other inappropriate phone calls are saved on that classified server. Is that something the House and the Senate, for that matter should pursue?

MENENDEZ: Absolutely. Look, I have been pursuing the question of President Trump's meetings and engagement with President Putin where either there was no one present or the note takers' notes were taken supposedly by the president. I wanted to know that conversation for quite some time. Because what we saw after the president stood side by side with Putin at one of their meetings in a press conference, I think it was in Helsinki, ultimately listening to the president basically give Putin the okay, he said he didn't do anything, I accept it. Outrageous, when all of our intelligence agencies collectively and unanimously said the opposite.

So I think what we have here is the cover-up because there's no reason to take what we now saw as this document, which the White House was trying not to provide, and put it in a special server. That server is for covert activities, maybe actions taken being by the CIA or other element of government in some place in the world, maybe sensitive negotiations, North Korea or Iran. But it certainly isn't about a conversation that was about getting dirt on your political opponent. That's a cover-up.

And what we have seen in the attempts to stop access to this and what we've seen with others, I'm concerned in the State Department, what was two of our ambassadors doing engaged with Rudy Giuliani as it relates to his efforts over there?

So I am concerned that it's not only the actions, it's now the cover- up that seems to be taking place.

BLITZER: Senator Menendez, thanks so much for joining us.

MENENDEZ: Thank you.

BLITZER: We're going to have a lot more on all the breaking news. House Democrats issuing a subpoena to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, demanding documents about the president's dealings with Ukraine by next Friday.



BLITZER: There is breaking news. House Democrats have subpoenaed the Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, for documents. The Democratic Chairman of the Foreign Affairs, the Intelligence Committee and the Oversight Committee, they are all demanding that Pompeo produce records about President Trump's dealings with Ukraine by next Friday.

We have a lots to discuss with our experts and our analysts. What pieces, Gloria, of the puzzle are these chairmen looking for?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, they want to discover exactly what the State Department's involvement in all of this was. They want to find out what Ambassadors Volker and Sondland did. We know from the complaint here that the day after the phone call, these ambassadors worked for the State Department were visiting with President Zelensky. And according to the whistleblower, they were trying to figure out a way to, quote, navigate the demands that the president made of Mr. Zelensky.

And then later on in the complaint, the whistleblower also says that these two ambassadors had spoken to Mr. Giuliani in an attempt to, quote, contain the damage, unquote, to U.S. national security. So I think the question is, were they emissaries on behalf of the Secretary of State? How involved was the State Department in Rudy Giuliani's plan to deal with Zelensky directly and the president's phone call either before or after?

BLITZER: The chairman, Dana, in their letter to Pompeo say, if the press reports are accurate, such corrupt use of presidential power for the president's personal political interest and not for the national interest is a betrayal of the president's oath of office and cannot go unchecked. The fact is these committees, they want the documents by next Friday. What does that say to you, what's going on, because this seems to be moving rather quickly?

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: They are moving very quickly. Manu was reporting that even though Congress has gone for two weeks, they're not. They want to have a hearing as soon as next week, and that's why they are also pushing to get these documents as soon as next week.

They also understand the history of trying to get documents from this White House.


The two big ones obviously excluded from that this week, and that it will be very, very difficult to do, and not just documents, also to get the actual players, big players like Pompeo. Pompeo might have to go, but Rudy Giuliani, to come to Capitol Hill to testify. Giuliani told our colleague, Michael Warren, that he has no intention of doing that.

He talks a lot, not under oath, because he says he is going to abide by attorney/client privilege there. He's privileged that he's the president's personal lawyer.

BLITZER: It's interesting, Jim Baker, the former General Counsel over at the FBI, the chairman also say to Pompeo that if he refuses to comply, that would be used to build a case of obstruction.

JIM BAKER, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Obstruction of Congress, that might be an impeachable offense. That's right. That's what we've been hearing today, I think, that there's the underlying conduct where the president is using his official power in order to keep himself in power. I mean, I think that's the core of what the problem is here, right?

It's not just his personal interest, like some financial interest or something. The whole conversation was to get information about a potential political opponent to make sure that the president could stay in power. And that's what we're talking about. But these other types of resistance would add to the articles of impeachment.

BLITZER: And, dana, you know, there's a story that's breaking in The Washington Post right now that Rudy Giuliani is scheduled to make an appearance in the coming days at a Russian-sponsored conference in Armenia, and that Russian individuals who are sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury Department, they are in charge of putting all of this together. You're getting some new information now.

BASH: Well, that's right, I texted, right, as we were coming on the air. I texted Mayor Giuliani about this, asking if he is still going, and his answer was probably not, but we'll know by the end of the day. He also added that he did not know until now that Putin was going be there, if that's true.

BLITZER: But did he know that these other Russians sanctioned by the United States government are putting this conference together?

BASH: I don't know the answer to that. I will ask in a text. Maybe I'll get an answer by the end of the next segment.

BLITZER: Well, let me get Shawn to weigh in. Shawn, what do you think about apparently, at least until now, he told The Washington Post in this story, he was planning on attending, really, the only American who would attend this conference?

SHAWN TURNER, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Yes. Look, the truth is there are few words to describe how inappropriate this -- Rudy Giuliani attending this conference right now would be.

When I was at the White House, and I know Rudy Giuliani is not an official member of the White House. But when I was at the White House, anytime someone who was as close to the president as Rudy Giuliani is was going to be attending any event in any country under any circumstances, there were people there who did their due diligence and making sure that they understood everything that was necessary to understand about that conference, who was sponsoring it, who was going to be there and whether or not it was appropriate?

And so what this tells me is that despite the fact that Rudy Giuliani has irregular access to the leader of the free world, the most important person in all of government, no one is vetting the things that he is doing. No one is checking his decisions to make sure they are the right thing to do for the country and for the president.

So I hope that he is right. I hope that he is not attending by the end of the day, because I think it would be a huge mistake.

BLITZER: Yes. He'll probably be getting a lot criticism for even suggesting he would be attending. If you're texting with him, ask him if he has security clearance, as I'm curious to see if he does have security clearance as well.

We have more on the breaking news. We'll get to that after this.



WOLF BLITZER, CNN: We're back with our political, legal, and national security experts.

You know, Gloria, the Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Adam Schiff, says they're preparing for hearings, formal hearings, on this impeachment inquiry starting as soon as later next week. Next week. A lot of these Democrats, they would like to see a formal vote on impeachment by Thanksgiving. Is that --


BLITZER: Is that realistic?

BORGER: Well, look, this is happening at mock speed. Considering what occurred with the Mueller investigation, I think what the Democrats may be doing is overlearning the lessons of the way they handled the Mueller testimony, which was not very well. And so, now, I think they -- they realize that during the Mueller

testimony, they kind of let things sort of go on and on and on and weren't forceful enough. So now, I think they're saying, all right, we've got to -- we've got to speed things up.

The danger of that is, of course, the American public may say, whoa, wait a minute, we need to hear more. But they believe they have a narrative that's easily digestible and that they can tell it very directly and very quickly. And I think they want to get this done before you get into the primaries.

BLITZER: And they want to focus strictly, when it comes to a formal vote on impeachment, on the Ukraine issue. And all the Mueller stuff and all the other stuff, Stormy Daniels, whatever, that's not going to be part of this, right?

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Currently, that is the plan. And you know, at the beginning of the week -- it was this week that this happened, right?


BORGER: Right.




BASH: There was talk about, when Nancy Pelosi officially made her 180 on announcing impeachment inquiry, how they were going to handle it process-wise because the process matters a lot on this on the Hill, whether they would do a select committee like Watergate or not. She declined -- she decided not to do that. The Committee Chairmen didn't want to give up their -- you know, their power on this.

But you know what? It turns out that she, as she often is, was, you know, 10 steps ahead because it has happened organically. Adam Schiff is effectively the head of this investigation by the nature of what is being investigated and what they are zeroing in on, which is this call with Ukraine.

BORGER: But she still didn't let the House take a vote, which was really interesting.

BASH: Right.


BORGER: Because, usually, impeachments, you take a vote at the House.

BAKER: Right.

BORGER: And Nancy Pelosi somehow avoided that. BLITZER: To even want a formal impeachment inquiry.

BORGER: Exactly.

BASH: At least she's not (ph) on record.

BORGER: Right.

BLITZER: You know, the whole notion, you know, Jim, that the White House insists the President did nothing wrong. It was a perfect conversation. Yes, it was classified.

The whistleblower, though, says that the White House official -- a White House official told him that moving that classified summary of the phone conversation to this highly secure server, that was, in the words of this official in the complaint, an abuse of this electronic system. Is that true?

BAKER: Well, I don't know all the rules with respect to that system, but it looks -- it looks bad. I mean, it looks bad; that's why we're talking about it. Because it looks as though they had some knowledge about the content of the -- of this call and perhaps the other ones and moved it to this other system.

If they did it for a reason to -- other than just maintain the classification of it, to hide something that was embarrassing or so on, that could be a violation of the executive order. Now, that's not really a punishable crime in any sense, but it is unlawful to do it.

And they have to be careful because there are a set of laws that do apply to the handling of presidential and federal records. And I've been trying to dig into that lately and try to sort out not knowing exactly what the details are, but that would be something that they should have been concerned about.

BLITZER: If it was so sensitive, that summary, that rough transcript of that phone conversation, Shawn -- you used to work for the office of the Director of National Intelligence -- when it was eventually released and we all saw it, there was nothing redacted at all. So what was so sensitive about it?

SHAWN TURNER, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Yes. You know, the short answer, Wolf, is that there was absolutely nothing in the transcript of that call that warranted moving that transcript to a secure -- or special -- to a special-access program system.

Look, you know, I've reached out to former colleagues in the intelligence community, and I asked a very simple question with regards to this matter. You know, there's been folks from the White House who have claimed that this transcript was removed to prevent leaks. And so, I asked a very simple question.

You know, the President had some leaks of calls with world leaders come out early on in his administration. So I asked, is it standard operating procedure now to move all of the President's calls with world leaders to a secure system? I was told, very clearly, no. So the question here is, why just this one? And that's what's going to have to be answered here very shortly.

BLITZER: Right, I suspect we're going to be getting answers fairly soon. Right now, there's other news we're following, including Democratic frontrunners Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren. They are out there campaigning in key states where early contests will take shape -- will shape next year's presidential race.

But what is Biden saying about President Trump right now and about the impeachment probe? We're going to get a live update when we come back.



BLITZER: We've got a quick update on a story we just brought you. Rudy Giuliani now has told our own Dana Bash he will not -- he will not -- go to a Kremlin-backed conference in Armenia next Tuesday.

"The Washington Post," earlier, reported that he had told them he would be attending this Kremlin-backed conference where Putin was expected to attend as well. Giuliani now says he did not know until now that Putin was going to the conference.

"The Washington Post" reported that Giuliani was going to be making a paid appearance at that conference, but he has just told Dana Bash he no longer will be attending the conference.

Other breaking news right now, Joe Biden just made on-camera comments about President Trump and the impeachment probe. Let's go to our political reporter Arlette Saenz. She's joining us from Las Vegas where Biden is holding a campaign rally. So what is he saying now, Arlette?

ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: Well, Wolf, Joe Biden just wrapped up his speech here in Las Vegas where he had some tough words for President Trump when it came to that phone call with the Ukrainian President along with the start of that impeachment inquiry.

And Joe Biden told voters here that the President is trying to hijack the election instead of focusing on voters' lives. Take a listen to what he had to say here in Las Vegas a short while ago.


JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We have a president who's violated his oath of office, a president who has put at risk our national security, a president who may -- and that would be decided -- the decision of the Congress to make -- may have committed a crime, and a president --


BIDEN: -- and a president who used the power of his office and your tax dollars to try to persuade a foreign leader to, once again, interfere in a presidential campaign. It's pretty clear that he will stop at nothing to hold onto power.

Look, in the weeks and months to come, it's the Congress' job to pursue the facts and to hold Donald Trump accountability.



SAENZ: Now, Biden cited those polls of head -- potential head-to-head matchups that have shown him beating President Trump in a possible general election matchup.

He says it's no surprise that the President would try to target him. But he says his focus, going forward, is going to be talking about the issues important to American people and also, making sure that they defeat Donald Trump -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Arlette, thanks very much.

Coming up, the rough transcript of the Ukrainian President's White House phone call reinforces a lesson all world leaders have learned: to get on President Trump's good side, flatter him a lot.



BLITZER: The breaking news this hour, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo subpoenaed by House Democrats, demanding documents pertaining to Ukraine as part of the impeachment inquiry sparked by a whistleblower complaint about President Trump's phone call with the Ukrainian President.

Let's go to CNN's Brian Todd. Brian, the rough transcript of that call shows Ukraine's President was very effusive in his support and his praise of the President.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, he flattered the President at just about every turn. It seems President Zelensky has taken a page out of the playbook of several other world leaders, from Vladimir Putin to Angela Merkel to Kim Jong-un. All of whom seem to know that once you flatter Donald Trump, well, just about anything is possible.


TODD (voice-over): A phone call filled with controversy and flattery. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky laid it on thick with President Trump when they spoke on July 25th.

Zelensky said Trump's plane is probably better than his. Trump is not just 100 percent right but 1,000 percent right, at one point. And Trump's winning campaign was an example for him. Quote, I would like to confess to you that I had an opportunity to learn from you. We used quite a few of your skills and knowledge.

Trump biographers say it looks like Zelensky got the memo on Trump from other foreign leaders.

MARC FISHER, CO-AUTHOR, "TRUMP REVEALED: AN AMERICAN JOURNEY OF AMBITION, EGO, MONEY AND POWER": The way to get where you want to go with Donald Trump is to flatter, to fawn, to understand that there is no compliment that you can give that is too excessive.

TODD (voice-over): Other leaders have also been sure to get on Trump's good side whether it's whispering in his ear, inventing an American President's Cup for him to award, giving him an unprecedented visit inside the Forbidden City, or putting his face on billboards.

Not complimenting the President, biographers say, doesn't get a foreign leader very far with him, so they'll fawn and grovel. Even if they don't particularly like the man.

FISHER: It's done with enormous amounts of cynicism. Whether people like him or consider him a fool, nonetheless, they all end up using many of the same kinds of tactics.

TODD (voice-over): In that July call, Zelensky also mentioned Trump's hotel. Quote, actually, last time I traveled to the United States, I stayed in New York near Central Park and I stayed at the Trump Tower.

An Instagram post last year before he ran for president shows Zelensky jogging with the Trump Hotel in the background.

More than 110 foreign officials from nearly 60 countries have been spotted at Trump hotels, golf courses, and other properties since 2017, according to "The New York Times."

ROBERT WEISSMAN, PRESIDENT, PUBLIC CITIZEN: It's the casual corruption of the Trump administration.

TODD (voice-over): And a Saudi lobbying firm paid hundreds of thousands of dollars for food and accommodations at the Trump International Hotel in Washington.

Ethics advocates warn foreign leaders could be booking stays at Trump properties to curry favor with the President, something which violates the constitution.

WEISSMAN: And so, they can change U.S. policy in ways that favor them while benefiting President Trump but presumably against what the United States would do in the absence of this kind of effort.


TODD: The Trump Organization has promised to donate the profits from foreign entities spending at these properties. And when he became president, Trump pledged to remove himself from day-to-day operations of those properties, turning them over to his sons.

But some groups are still suing President Trump for violating that part of the constitution that forbids a president from making money off a foreign government, a claim that Trump's lawyers refute -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Brian, there's now some question about Attorney General Bill Barr and his use of the Trump Hotel here in Washington.

TODD: Right, Wolf. Documents obtained by "The Washington Post" recently show that Barr is planning to host a party at the Trump International Hotel here in D.C. during the holidays this year to the tune of at least $30,000.

Justice Department officials say Barr was not trying to curry favor with the President by booking that. They say he only chose the Trump Hotel after famous venues like the Willard and -- the Mayflower Hotel, well, they were already booked.

BLITZER: Brian Todd reporting, thank you. The breaking news continues next. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo subpoenaed by -- for documents by House Democrats as the impeachment inquiry rapidly gains steam.



BLITZER: Happening now, breaking news. Impeachment subpoena. House Democrats just put the Secretary of State on notice, demanding documents relating to the Ukraine scandal. Tonight, the impeachment pushes in overdrive with hearings possibly just days away.

White House admission. The Trump administration now confirms one key aspect of the whistleblower complaint about the President's phone call to Ukraine. We'll tell you what we're learning about the decision to move the transcript into a secretive computer system.

Holed up and tweeting. President Trump is venting his fury with new urgency as the wheels of impeachment are set in motion. Are he and his team prepared for the battle ahead?


And gone rogue. That's how the House Speaker is describing the Attorney General after Bill Barr's name came up --