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Secretary of State Mike Pompeo Subpoenaed by Three House Committees after Missing Two Deadlines to Turn Over Requested Documents; Reporting Indicates White House Attempted to Limit Access to President Trump's Conversations with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Russian Leader Vladimir Putin; Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) Interviewed on Why She Has Not Yet Publicly Supported Impeachment of President Trump; Kurt Volker Resigns as U.S. Special Envoy to Ukraine; Alaskan Republican Party Will Not Hold Presidential Primary; Ted Turner Discusses Environmentalism. Aired 2-3p ET.
Aired September 28, 2019 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: And again, two U.S. presidents impeached, Bill Clinton and Andrew Johnson in 1868.
Hello again everyone, and thank you so much for being with me. I'm Fredricka Whitfield. We begin with the latest in the impeachment inquiry against President Donald J. Trump. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi describing it as a sad time for the country, but, she says, given the mounting evidence, it is full steam ahead.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. NANCY PELOSI, (D-CA) HOUSE SPEAKER: This is not a cause for any joy that we have to go down this path. It's a difficult decision to make. But we have that obligation. Because in the actions that were taken undermine the Constitution and the oath that we take to protect and defend, including the oath that the president takes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: Meantime, President Trump remains defiant, tweeting earlier today, "Can you imagine if these do nothing Democrat savages, people like Nadler, Schiff, AOC plus three, and many more had a Republican Party who would have done to Obama what the do nothings are doing to me? Oh, well. Maybe next time."
CNN's Jeremy Diamond is at the White House for us. So Jeremy, we are now learning that the U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has been subpoenaed by three House committees. What is the White House saying to this?
JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: That's right. What we're seeing here is the first concrete investigative steps in this House impeachment inquiry, and it is a significant step at that. The Foreign Affairs Committee, the House Oversight Committee, and the House Intelligence Committee joining forces to subpoena the secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, over documents related to the State Department's and the president's interactions with Ukraine.
These were documents that the House committees first sought from the State Department back in September, on September 9th actually, and because those documents were not provided the House committees have now moved to subpoena the secretary of state. And what they are also saying is that if the State Department does not provide those documents, they're going to use that as evidence to bolster their claim in this impeachment inquiry that the president and his administration are indeed obstructing congressional inquiries.
Now, the Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has insisted throughout this process that the State Department has not done anything wrong to his knowledge in relation to foreign policy with Ukraine. Here he is just a couple days ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE POMPEO, SECRETARY OF STATE: To the best of my knowledge and from what I've seen so far, each of the actions that were undertaken by State Department officials was entirely appropriate and consistent with the objective that we've had certainly since the new government has come into office. We have tried to use this opportunity to create a better relationship between the United States and Ukraine, to build on the opportunities, to tighten our relationship to help end corruption in Ukraine.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DIAMOND: Now what the House committees are seeking are documents related to the State Department officials' interactions with Rudy Giuliani, the president's personal attorney, who we know traveled to Ukraine, met with Ukrainian officials in coordination with the State Department. And they are also seeking records related to that temporary withholding of the $391 million of aid to Ukraine.
And also, these committees are also seeking depositions from five State Department officials, including Ambassador Volker, who we know resigned on Friday amid these developments.
Now, what is significant about this, of course, is that these inquiries are looking broadly into this relationship, the foreign policy interactions between the United States and Ukraine as it relates to this phone call of course between the U.S. president and President Zelensky. And this is the concern that I'm hearing from national security officials and experts beyond simply the call and that demand. There's also this question of an outsourcing of U.S. foreign policy for the president's political gain. Fredricka?
WHITFIELD: All right, Jeremy Diamond, thank you so much from the White House.
And CNN has learned of more Trump phone calls the White House is trying to keep secret. Sources tell us the president's conversations with Russian leader Vladimir Putin and Saudi prince Mohammed bin Salman were subject to tighter than normal restrictions. Here now is CNN's Pamela Brown. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
PAMELA BROWN, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: We have learned the White House efforts to limit access to President Trump's conversations with foreign leaders extended to phone calls with the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Russian leader Vladimir Putin. This is according to several people familiar with the matter. Those calls, both with leaders who maintain controversial relationships with Trump, were among the presidential conversations that aides took remarkable steps to keep from becoming public.
In the case of Trump's call with Prince Mohammed, officials who ordinarily would have been given access to a rough transcript of the conversation never saw one according to one of the sources.
Instead the transcript was never circulated at all, which the source said was highly unusual, particularly after a high-profile conversation. The call, which the person said contained no especially sensitive national security secrets, came as the White House was confronting the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, which U.S. intelligence assessment said came at the hand of the Saudi government.
With Putin, access to the transcript of at least one of Trump's conversations was also tightly restricted according to a former administration official. It is not clear if aides took the additional step of placing the Saudi Arabia and Russia phone calls in that same highly security code word operated system that held that now infamous phone call with Ukraine's president and which helped spark the whistleblower complaint made public this week, though officials did confirm calls aside from the Ukraine conversation were placed there, and those calls didn't also reach the threshold similar to the Ukraine conversation.
But these attempts to conceal information about Trump's discussions with Prince Mohammed and Putin further illustrate the extraordinary efforts taken by Trump's aides to strictly limit the number of people with access to his conversations with foreign leaders. I am told this practice really went into place more than a year ago after there were conversations leaked between the leaders of President Trump and Mexico as well as Australia. We should note the White House did not comment about the limiting of access to calls with the Russian and Saudi leaders.
Pamela Brown, CNN, Washington.
WHITFIELD: Joining me right now to discuss the calls and the new fallout from the whistleblower complaint, CNN political analyst Margaret Talev, who is also the politics and White House editor for "Axios," and CNN senior justice correspondent Evan Perez. Good to see you both.
All right, so, Evan, you first. Your sources are telling you that the U.S. Justice Department is coming under heavy criticism for how it handled the whistleblower complaint. Specifically, what kind of new complaints, and criticism?
EVAN PEREZ, SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Fred, part of the issue here is that the Justice Department looked at the criminal complaint and the referral from the inspector general for the intelligence community, and did a very narrow review. They essentially looked at whether or not this represented a violation of campaign finance law. And, look, that is what the inspector general did refer. But we've never known the Justice Department to just limit itself to what people are asking them to investigate. They have the full panoply of U.S. law to look at and see whether or not there are any legal violations, any other legal violations.
And so that's where the criticism is coming. The issue here is that the inspector general and the complaint, itself, from the whistleblower, lay out other possible legal violations, legal issues, including perhaps a counterintelligence risk for the president. The Justice Department instead decided to just narrowly look at this from a campaign finance law violation and arrived at the conclusion that there was no crime, there was no violation of campaign finance law.
So you can expect that this is something that is going to be picked up by members of Congress that are looking at this. They're going to want to hear from Bill Barr, the attorney general, why was this limited.
And let me just add one real quick thing. The FBI also looked at this. They got a separate referral, remember, from the inspector general, and they similarly looked at it very narrowly, kicked it over to the Justice Department, and deferred to them. Now, we've never known the FBI to defer to anyone, certainly not in the Clinton e-mail investigation, right? It's not apples to apples comparison, but it does bear to compare the two things and see how they were handled.
WHITFIELD: And then, Margaret, there has been quite a bit of criticism toward the White House for releasing the summary of this phone call. But now we're learning the Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is actually the one who urged the White House to do it in that fashion. What is the reason for that?
MARGARET TALEV, SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, BLOOMBERG NEWS: Well, look. There are a couple things going on, Fred. One is that senators, whether they're Republicans or Democrats, do feel very strongly that the White House needed to be responsive to those requests, responsive to Congress's ability to get information. Also, for the White House the calculation that its hand was going to get forced anyway, better to try to get in front of it and be in some control of the narrative. But I think it's fair to say that they are not entirely in control of the narrative now.
And things are moving apace. On the House side, there are a number of calculations going on. On the one hand, I think everyone from Nancy Pelosi to the intel chairs wants to be able to see every transcript of every call with every foreign leader now. On the other hand --
WHITFIELD: But there has to be a willingness and a cooperation in which to do so. And isn't that the biggest potential obstacle?
TALEV: It is a potential legal obstacle. The political or practical obstacle is that they understand the merits of keeping a tight focus on this, that if you look like you're going on a fishing expedition you lose public trust or public interest in this, whereas if you stay focused on an area that across partisan lines there is a lot of discomfort with, what exactly was the president doing in some of these calls and how was he balancing his own political desires against national security, seems more clear cut on this Ukraine call.
And so you can see from the beginnings of this list the committees on the House side, they want to call Kurt Volker, they want to call the ousted U.S. ambassador to the Ukraine. How much beyond that do they broaden it? Are they going to try to reel in every past national security adviser, the deputies, the lawyers who work in the counsel's office and have worked in the NSC? All of that is part of what's getting worked out behind the scenes now, and on both sides there are a lot of calculations.
WHITFIELD: So, Evan, now to learn that these transcripts or notes of conversations the president had with Putin as well as the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia have been stored in a secret data server, that only spikes now the interest, right, of particularly members of Congress about what is the content? Because if you've got to put it away in this secret place, then does that only raise suspicion about something untoward happening in those conversations? So how does -- how do members of Congress, how does anyone get to the bottom of the content of those transcripts?
PEREZ: That is going to be very hard, because, look, as Margaret points out, there is a political motive here, there's a political goal here by the Democrats, which is to hurry up and do this. And so if they broaden this out to try to get those other transcripts, as you point out, it's going to be a long, drawn out fight. And I don't know that they're going to be able to get all of those, certainly because it does belong to the executive branch. The president has a lot of power when it comes to these issues.
But it goes really to the heart of what the whistleblower was calling attention to. The whistleblower says that essentially there was no purpose to this, there was no national security purpose. There was really just an embarrassment or a political protection motive to do this. And so piercing that is going to be a big battle for members of Congress and certainly the White House, which wants to make sure this never gets out.
WHITFIELD: All right, Evan Perez, Margaret Talev, good to see you both. Thank you.
Still ahead, even with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announcing the launch of an impeachment inquiry this week, a dozen Democrats on Capitol Hill have not made a public statement in support of the inquiry. We'll ask Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson where she stands today. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
WHITFIELD: While an overwhelming majority of House Democrats support impeachment proceedings, 223 in total according to CNN's latest tally, there are still 12 Democrats in Congress who have not yet come out in support of the probe, at least not explicitly. My next guest is one of them, Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson is a Democratic Representative from Texas. Congresswoman, good to see you.
REP. EDDIE BERNICE JOHNSON, (D-TX): Thank you for having me.
WHITFIELD: So are you still among the 12 House Democrats who was not quite committed to this impeachment inquiry, or have you changed your mind?
JOHNSON: I was actually a little surprised I was one of them because my feeling is we cannot talk about impeachment until we have all the facts together.
WHITFIELD: But isn't that what the inquiry is about, the impeachment inquiry, to search to see if there is enough?
JOHNSON: I've read every word of the inquiry, and that is what it is, an inquiry. It has no names attached. I think all of that needs to be checked out to make sure that we are very sure that the facts are the facts. We're in a society now where we cannot assume anything. And we cannot believe documents where there is no author. But we can and we do have the ability to examine all of the facts and not rush to judgment until we have all of those facts clarified.
WHITFIELD: Then do you at least support this inquiry is under way in this manner, because there seems there have been a number of inquiries leading into exploring whether impeachment is a right thing to do in the last year, year and a half, but it was this week where the House speaker, who has long been reticent, this week she said, according to the complaint, according to the transcripts, that there were laws that have been violated and there have been constitutional violations. And, thereby, it is time for at least an inquiry. Do you agree with that sentiment from the House speaker?
JOHNSON: I agree with a lot of things that I've heard, but I have also my own thoughts. I'm elected from District 30, Texas, and I represent those people. And I have to depend on myself to make sure that when I cast a vote it is mine. It is mine based upon the facts. And I will do that when that time comes.
We have very able leadership in all of the committees that are looking. I hope we'll consolidate that so people can really understand what the facts really are. I don't want to get into a situation where we're doing more confusing than we are clarifying. I want to be certain that we have explored -- impeachment is very serious. And it's going to be a hard mountain to climb. Even after we impeach, that's an indictment. It has to go to the Senate for the trial. And right now, I'm not even certain we can even get the Senate to even address the issue.
But that is beyond our responsibility at this time. But that is a thought. Our responsibility is to be sure that when we move to impeach, which is to indict, that we have very solid information. Nobody is above the law, and especially persons who have taken on the oath to uphold our Constitution, certainly has a responsibility to do that. I don't shy away from that. But you can look at me and tell that I'm very concerned about rushing to judgment. I've been a victim of that kind of thing. But I do think that we have the capability of justifying and clarifying all that the document has shown.
WHITFIELD: So to further extrapolate on what you're saying when you said you want some assurances that the Senate would be able to support the sentiment that perhaps the majority of the House would engage in if indeed they feel that everything is there in which to proceed. So is your decision predicated on the Senate and what its sentiment may be in addition to what the sentiment of your district would be, what your constituents would say? Given that President Trump lost your district by a whopping 61 percent in 2016, how much are you gauging your sentiment on your constituents in addition to the Senate?
JOHNSON: Well, I think it's going to be both. To be quite honest with you, it's both, because if we move to impeach, which is the indictment, I want it to be so airtight that the members of the Senate cannot find any excuse not to follow the constitutional direction. That is a real concern because my feeling is that if we indict and nothing happens in the Senate, it'll backfire on us. As far as I'm concerned, I have many opinions of things that have happened long before this that might have been able to rise to illegal. But we've not been able to prove it.
WHITFIELD: But something has been missing. Things have been missing. What is it that you would need to solidify your point of view, especially on those things you say you've already seen, but it's not quite enough to put you in the direction of impeachment? What would you need to hear?
JOHNSON: Well, I think we need to just substantiate what the whistleblower has documented in their document. It clearly, without question, brings a constitutional question. And we are all subject to following our Constitution and following the law. But do we take a piece of paper where we don't even know where it came from and declare it to be truth without investigation?
WHITFIELD: Sure, because the whistleblower is saying in this complaint, while that person didn't necessarily witness, hear by their own ears the phone call, but there are others who expressed concern who say they were witness to the phone call who came to this person who doctored this complaint, you're saying that is not enough?
JOHNSON: Well, I think that our committee leadership that is working now as we speak will document and make sure that all of that is airtight. I am not in any way defying anything that has been said in this document, but I do think it's important that we make sure that when we move forth with this information, we have enough to substantiate, to make it stick, to make sure there can be no doubt, because we're going to need to be just that perfect to get any action out of the Senate.
WHITFIELD: OK. And I should say not doctored the complaint, but instead really authored the complaint, because as far as we know, that's what resulted in this complaint, that this person actually authored it.
All right, Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson, good to see you. Thank you so much.
JOHNSON: Thank you.
WHITFIELD: All right, coming up, President Trump's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani says he will not testify to Congress without the OK from the Oval Office even after he was mentioned dozens of times in the whistleblower's complaint. How big of a risk were his meetings with Ukrainian officials? More on that next.
WHITFIELD: As House Democrats move forward on impeachment, President Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani says he will not testify before Congress without the president's approval. The whistleblower complaint highlights Rudy Giuliani's role in President Trump's dealings with Ukraine. His name was mentioned dozens of times in the complaint. Giuliani has said he could exert lawyer-client privilege if forced to testify.
Joining me right now to discuss, Samantha Vinograd, a former senior adviser to the National Security Adviser under President Obama. Good to see you. So Giuliani, a private citizen, says he coordinated with U.S. officials, namely the State Department, in order to speak to Ukraine. That is pretty unusual, isn't it?
SAMANTHA VINOGRAD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: It's highly unusual. I think it is important to remind viewers what typically happens after a head of state call. There is of course a lot of focus right now on the written read out of this call that was released, the official readout that we think was documented for the presidential record.
Even before that happens, however, there is often a verbal readout that is given by the national security adviser to people who may be weren't on the call, like the secretary of state. One would have assumed in this instance, for example, at least a verbal readout would have been given to Attorney General Barr as well because he was specifically mentioned on the call by name, and he was assigned with follow-up from the call.
Something different happened here, Fred. Instead of Attorney General Barr being debriefed, what we know from the whistleblower complaint is that the day after the call, two State Department officials, our ambassador to the E.U. and our special envoy for Ukraine, went to meet with the Ukrainians according to the whistleblower to navigate the president's demands of the Ukrainians. Shortly thereafter one of these officials put Rudy Giuliani in touch with the Ukrainians to follow up on the call as well in the investigation of Biden.
What didn't happen is our embassy in Ukraine where there is an acting ambassador, a charges, where there is a legal office, and where there is a chief law enforcement officer who is charged with working on anticorruption issues were not, to the best of our knowledge, in the loop. So instead it appears that President Trump's friends and family list got a readout, whether verbal or otherwise, of this July 25th call, and official channels were not used to loop in the right people.
WHITFIELD: What is the danger of that?
VINOGRAD: The danger of that is certainly undercutting the experts and leaving them out in the dark, and for obvious reasons in this case, because it appears that the president may have been abusing his power and soliciting foreign election interference. That's danger number one.
Danger number two, we didn't elect the president to be a counterintelligence risk. We elected the president to guard against them. And if the president of the United States is doing things that senior members of his team don't know about, like, for example, when he reportedly met with the Russians and said he wasn't concerned about Russian election interference, that's "Washington Post" reporting for last night, we can't erase those moments from foreign officials' minds. This isn't "Men in Black." There's no magic device that can do that. So by leaving his own team in the cold, foreign government knows things about the president that are sensitive, that are dangerous, that are potentially illegal, and that becomes a manipulation point.
WHITFIELD: And then how, usually, is that kind of interaction stored, documented, who would usually be privy to that information?
VINOGRAD: It's important to note the national security adviser is the one who really runs this process of facilitating the official document of any interaction, whether it be a call or a meeting for the presidential record. It is the law to document presidential conversations. Typically, once the Situation Room staff sends notes of the call up, the national security adviser and anyone else who is on the call proofreads those notes.
WHITFIELD: And in this case it would have been John Bolton.
VINOGRAD: Correct, it would have been John Bolton, although there are reports now that other calls that may have preceded Bolton were also treated this way and stored on the code word system. But the national security adviser comes up with what we call a distribution list of who gets to receive that call readout or meeting readout, and then the document itself is stored on what we call the high side, which is a top-secret level system. Unless there is code word material that is a higher-level classification in the document, to the best of my knowledge, Fred, never once did we store a meeting readout on the code word system, unless, again, there was code word content.
WHITFIELD: Sam Vinograd, thank you so much, appreciate it.
VINOGRAD: Thank you.
WHITFIELD: Still to come, as the impeachment inquiry circles President Trump, some state Republican parties are still refusing to hold primary elections. Are they rethinking that decision? We'll ask the GOP chairman from Alaska next.
WHITFIELD: In a strong show of support for President Trump, Alaska's Republican Party has decided not to hold a presidential primary in 2020. Republicans in Arizona, Kansas, Nevada, and South Carolina also intend to cancel their 2020 presidential primaries, citing similar reasons as Alaska.
President Trump does have challengers for the 2020 nomination. Republicans Joe Walsh, Bill Weld, and Mark Sanford have all said they want to take on the president.
Glenn Clary, the chairman of Alaska's Republican Party is with me right now. Good to see you. So canceling primaries has happened before, ala Reagan, even Obama. But they were unchallenged. This incumbent is being challenged. Why not let voters decide?
GLENN CLARY, ALASKA GOP CHAIRMAN: Well, Fredricka, thank you for having me on the program. President Trump enjoys over 90 percent support rating up here in the state of Alaska, and the state central commission decided that, listen, we need to jump over the presidential preference poll, is what we call it, not a primary, it's a preference poll. And so we put in an interim rule to where we could do that, and then they voted to execute that rule.
And we do have an out where we could if something happens where we need to put it together and have a preference poll we could do that with a vote of the district chairs in the state.
WHITFIELD: So you could change your mind?
CLARY: Absolutely. Yes.
WHITFIELD: What would be the conditions in which you'd change your mind?
CLARY: Well, if something happens to President Trump, his support goes into the tank, which I don't foresee that happening because Alaska is totally behind him. These other candidates, if they contact us and we consider them, they have to get at least 13 percent of the vote to get one delegate, and if they put up a campaign in the state of Alaska for our three electoral votes and they want to do that, then we'll evaluate and assess that.
WHITFIELD: In light of this week in particular, with the impeachment inquiry getting a jumpstarted, the complaint coming from the whistleblower, are those some of the things that you think could cause support for the president to dwindle?
CLARY: Well, I think it is premature to say the support is going to dwindle or stay the same or increase. All of this needs to be sifted out. The facts need to be brought to everybody's attention. It's a shame that people came out 72 hours before the documents were released and have already demonized the president on these issues. And we just need to wait for the facts. We need to look at the facts. And then we need to evaluate what really happened and what really transpired rather than people taking their own biased opinion and sifting that out on the media and putting it out in front of people and trying to give their bias against the president and convince people of that bias.
WHITFIELD: Well, now that you've had a chance to read the complaint, the whistleblower complaint, and perhaps even the phone call transcript, what are your views?
CLARY: Well, I haven't read the complaint yet. And I'll get to that this week. But my views are going to be held until we see all of the facts and I get a chance to read those facts.
WHITFIELD: When will you get a chance to read them? They've been out a little bit.
CLARY: I said this week. We'll do that this week.
WHITFIELD: Glenn Clary, thank you so much.
CLARY: Thank you, Fredricka. Appreciate you having me on.
WHITFIELD: Absolutely. Glad you could be with us.
All right, now in today's Turning Points, Christine Ha has cooked her way around the world and even won over celebrity chef Gordon Ramsey. And now she is serving up something new.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRISTINE HA, CHEF AND AUTHOR: It's going to be spicy.
I'm known as the Blind Cook. I grew up in Houston, still live in Houston. I love the city, so I am excited to be opening my very first restaurant.
There you go.
I would call The Blind Goat a modern Vietnamese gastro club where I am taking a lot of lesser known street foods of Vietnam and putting my own personal story into the dishes as well. I started cooking when I was in college because it stemmed from missing my mom's home cooking. And my vision loss was gradual over time so I'd always have to find new ways to adapt.
Is the door open on your side or my side?
I was correctly diagnosed with NMO, for short. That is an autoimmune condition where primarily it affects the optic nerves and the spinal cord. Grad school is when I decided to audition for Master Chef. I didn't realize I would get as far as I did, and I guess the rest is history.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Christine!
HA: As a woman, as an Asian-American in a commercial kitchen who has a vision impairment, sometimes I feel like people don't expect as much from me, but I put 100 percent into everything I do. That just proves to other people eventually that she has the tenacity and the determination to keep challenging herself and other people's perspectives.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: When you hear the name Ted Turner, what comes to mind? Media mogul, founder of CNN, owner of the Atlanta Braves, the guy who donated $1 billion to the United Nations. As it turns out, all of those things were part of a larger plan centered around saving the planet. And it's this part of Ted's life that is the focus of a CNN special documentary airing tonight and hosted by our chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta, who joins us right now. So, I hear Ted's motto is save everything. We know about that title, Captain Planet. Where does this come from? Because I think people do think of the bigness of business.
SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Right.
WHITFIELD: But what about this?
GUPTA: By the way, it is everywhere in Ted's world, save everything, a bumper sticker he gave me. An interesting point, right? Capitalism versus conservationism. Those two things seem like they're at odds with each other. How do you make money and also help save the planet? Ted Turner is probably the best example of someone who has done that. He's clearly made a lot of money and then used that money to do concrete things.
There are some interesting things about his life. He is the biggest owner of a private herd of bison in the world. And he's famous for his grills where he actually serves bison. So we had a conversation about that. How do you put it all together, Ted, the bison, the meat, saving the planet? Take a listen. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GUPTA: So when you're making the case that you should eat bison instead of beef, you sell both at your restaurants.
TED TURNER: Right.
GUPTA: What's your preference?
GUPTA: Did you ever think about becoming a vegan? That would be the most sustainable, wouldn't it?
TURNER: Well, it depends on how you do it.
GUPTA: In terms of just pure resources and to product out it takes 600 gallons of water to eat a burger.
TURNER: Is it really 600 gallons?
GUPTA: It's 660 gallons for a third of a pound burger. I haven't just turned you into a vegetarian, have I?
TURNER: No. But I'm going to give it some more thought.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GUPTA: About as far as we could get.
WHITFIELD: Is he really.
GUPTA: The guy does sell a lot of bison burgers for sure. But it was interesting because he has been thinking about this his whole life, Fred.
WHITFIELD: And that's what is remarkable, because I think people think about he as the media mogul --
WHITFIELD: -- it's the big business that he has been thinking about all his life. But then you are revealing to us that he really has been fueled by his passion to be an environmentalist, and he was really one of the first big ones before many people even knew the word "environmentalist."
GUPTA: Pre Al Gore. He was giving money away before most of these guys were giving any money away. It was interesting, even the bison farm, all kidding aside, what was interesting about that, and I didn't understand this before I got there, was that bison are the native animal, native species to North America. There used to be 30 million, 40 million around North America. The way that they interact with the land, the way that they interact with the grassland is the way that it's supposed to be.
Cattle are not from this continent, so this trample the land. And the land is important because it is one of the largest sinks of carbon. It pulls carbon dioxide out of the air. So if you have naturally normal occurring grasslands like with Ted's ranches, it does a better job of actually reducing CO2.
WHITFIELD: Was that his motivation?
GUPTA: That was his motivation.
GUPTA: His motivation was save everything, first of all, because you can't save the planet unless you save everything on the planet. And with regard to the bison specifically, restore these species back to their native habitats because the earth prospers and flourishes that way.
And again, it is not just a nice way of looking at things, not just a nice way of looking at the world. There is real science behind this now. The grasslands where the bison live in North America are going to be bigger CO2, carbon dioxide, sinks than the cattle.
WHITFIELD: And quickly, did he have a point of view about the momentum of the climate crisis today versus the energy that he has put into this cause for decades?
GUPTA: Well, it is really interesting because there are a lot of people saying, look, we've already crossed the threshold. Bellwether species are disappearing. The reefs are warming. It is too late is what some people are saying. And you won't be surprised, Fred, that's not Ted's point of view. He's like, we're never out of the game until we're out of the game. We may be bottom of the seventh and we're a few runs behind, but we're coming back. That's very much how he feels.
And again, part of it is applying the capitalism to the conservationism. How do you incentivize corporations to do this, to make it worth their while? No one better than Ted Turner.
WHITFIELD: Keep the metaphor going, essentially he is saying everyone has got to be in the game. Everyone has skin in the game.
GUPTA: That's true. That's right. And save them all.
WHITFIELD: That's right. Dr. Sanjay Gupta, thank you so much.
And be sure to tune in tonight. "Ted Turner, Captain Planet," premieres at 9:00 eastern and pacific only on CNN.
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WHITFIELD: With the impeachment inquiry into President Trump moving at a rapid pace, Democrats are making their case to the American public. Earlier I spoke with Congressman Ted Lieu of California. He sits on the house Judiciary Committee, and explains why he supports the impeachment inquiry.
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REP. TED LIEU, (D-CA) HOUSE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: So the reason that this impeachment inquiry is different is this is not a partisan issue. It's an American issue. No American president should ever be soliciting a foreign power to target an American citizen for political purposes. And when you look at this rough transcript, literally right after the Ukrainian leader raises the issue of U.S. military aid, Donald Trump asks for two favors, one of which is to go after Joe Biden.
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WHITFIELD: Congressman Lieu is one of 223 House Democrats who have publicly announced their support of an impeachment inquiry. Just 12 Democratic members of Congress remain holdouts.
Thank you so much for being with me today. I'm Fredricka Whitfield. We have so much more straight ahead in the Newsroom with Ana Cabrera right after this.
ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: You're live in the CNN Newsroom. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York. Thanks for being with us. We begin this hour with a presidency in peril and an impeachment investigation in overdrive.