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White House Attacks Whistleblower Ahead of Possible Testimony; Former Ukraine Special Envoy, Even Rudy Giuliani Could Testify; Interview with Representative Debbie Dingell (D-MI) on Impeachment. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired September 29, 2019 - 16:00   ET

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


[16:00:00]

FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN HOST: Being with me this Sunday. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.

All right. The pressure is mounting and fast. Intel chairman Adam Schiff now says he plans to act urgently in the impeachment inquiry into President Trump after announcing there is now a tentative agreement with the whistleblower to testify before Congress.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): This is serious business here. The president has suggested that people like this whistleblower should be treated the way that we used to treat spies and traitors and we used to execute spies and traitors. There's no messing around here and what's more, we want to protect this whistleblower, but we also want to encourage others that are aware of this wrongdoing or other wrongdoing to come forward and that's a vital interest of ours as well.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: So this comes as sources tell CNN that former U.S. special envoy to Ukraine, Kurt Volcker, plans to appear in front of three congressional committees this week. So fat it's unclear if the White House will use seek to use executive privilege to restrict Volcker's deposition.

Let's go straight to CNN's Sarah Westwood at the White House.

So, Sarah, what's the reaction been like from the White House to these possible testimonies?

SARAH WESTWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Fred, allies of President Trump have been out in full force this morning questioning the motives of the whistleblower. This as House Intelligence chairman Adam Schiff announces that there is this tentative agreement to bring the whistleblower in for testimony. But that the safety of the whistleblower is a top priority to House Democrats. They want to keep the identity of this whistleblower protected if he comes before the committee. Also, a condition of negotiations for the whistleblower's testimony as

CNN reported earlier this week is that the whistleblower's attorneys get the appropriate security clearances from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence in order to accompany the whistleblower. Those talks according to Schiff are underway.

Now Stephen Miller this morning appearing on "FOX News Sunday" also attacks the whistleblower accusing him of being a partisan and of undermining Trump's administration. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEPHEN MILLER, WHITE HOUSE SENIOR ADVISER FOR POLICY: I think it's unfortunate that the media continues to describe this individual as a whistleblower and honorific that this individual most certainly does not deserve. A partisan hit job does not make you a whistleblower just because you go through the Whistleblower Protection Act.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WESTWOOD: Now a source familiar with the talk says that the discussions are still ongoing between House Democrats and attorneys for the whistleblower, so nothing set in stone, but that testimony could happen soon as House Democrats are pressing the administration on a number of fronts for documents and testimony related to President Trump's phone call with Ukrainian President Zelensky.

That includes on Friday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo being subpoenaed by three congressional committees. They are looking for documents by Friday and also depositions from senior State Department officials including former envoy to Ukraine, Kurt Volcker. He is set to appear before committees, three of them, this week, Fred. So a lot of pressure on the administration this week specifically to produce these materials to Congress.

WHITFIELD: All right. Sarah Westwood at the White House, thank you.

All right. Let's talk about all this with CNN's Michael Warren, contributor for "TIME" magazine, Jay Newton-Small, and CNN political analyst and historian Julian Zelizer.

Good to see you all.

JULIAN ZELIZER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Hello.

WHITFIELD: All right. Michael, you first. You know, you wrote an in-depth background story on CNN.com Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani's 10-month mission. It has been aimed at proving the Democrats' dealings with the Ukraine are the origin of the investigation into the Russian election interference, and Giuliani says, you know, he was working on behalf of the State Department. Do you believe that Kurt Volcker, if he testifies this week, he would concur with that?

MICHAEL WARREN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we'll have to see. You know, Giuliani has been pretty slippery, telling CBS News earlier today that he was directed by Volcker and the ambassador, U.S. ambassador to NATO, Gordon Sondland. But he's sort of said maybe it wasn't direction. Maybe it was simply suggesting that he and the Ukrainian official that he spoke with a few times in August and September that that was just a suggest. Somebody to connect with.

So this is something that maybe Volcker in his testimony will be -- he certainly will be asked to clarify. Maybe he can finally clarify this on which Giuliani has surely been all over the place.

WHITFIELD: And how has the State Department been responding to Giuliani's claims, that he really was kind of working on behalf, almost like an emissary, on behalf of the State Department, at the direction of the State Department, Michael?

WARREN: Well, last week, a source close to these conversations characterized Giuliani's characterization as totally false. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has been asked about this. He says -- not really directly answering that question but simply saying that the State Department acted appropriately. Again, that's why all eyes are going to be on Volcker because people are going to want to know, did anybody direct him to tell Giuliani to meet up with this particular Ukrainian official?

[16:05:03]

WHITFIELD: And Jay, including today, we've seen a lot, you know, the nation has seen of Rudy Giuliani, you know, and his point of view on all this, and his approach. Do you think he is helping or is he hurting the president?

JAY NEWTON-SMALL, CONTRIBUTOR, TIME MAGAZINE: Well, Fred, Giuliani has always been really good at muddying the waters and I think that's what the president wants out of him. He goes out there, he says all kinds of fantastical things and it's really just a lot of innuendo. And that's always been the president's playbook when he -- for a lot of areas where things that he doesn't want to see -- you know, that he's against, you know, when he's upset about something or when he wants to -- he feels attacked, he sends Rudy out -- excuse, sends Rudy Giuliani out or he himself tweets about it.

And he really sort of says -- hints at all different things, dark, you know, suggestions, but never really offers proof of it. And Rudy Giuliani does exactly that. And sort of tries to muddy the waters that the case is never really clearly made and that against him, against Donald Trump and it really goes to sort of -- that's the way he protects himself. And so I think Rudy is doing exactly what the president wants him to be doing which is doing all kinds of fantastical suggestions. And that's sort of been his job of late, it's been his job for the last couple of years.

WHITFIELD: So, Julian, you know, are we seeing the start of maybe any erosion of Republican support? Everything from, you know, Mitch McConnell saying -- reportedly encouraging the White House to release some rough draft, you know, transcriptions of the phone call with Ukraine, to Mitt Romney among, you know, a handful of Republicans who are saying something is strange about this. It's very troubling about this conversation. Do you see that this is just the start of on erosion of support that the president --

ZELIZER: Well, I think I --

WHITFIELD: -- has been enjoying?

ZELIZER: I think a handful is the keyword, and I don't think we're yet at the start of erosion. Republican support still remains pretty solid, but this issue above many others seems to have increased private concern about Republicans. It's so clear the kinds of allegations that are being made. It's very hard to defend. Unless you do the Giuliani strategy of confuse and muddy the water. So the question is, can partisanship contain this concern or does it grow as the investigation produces more and more data ala Watergate?

WHITFIELD: So you wrote, you know, an op-ed for CNN.com, you know, this week titled "Four Reasons Conservatives Should Back Impeaching Trump." Do you think Republicans will eventually be unable to, you know, ignore this? Or what will really be the tipping point potentially?

ZELIZER: Well, look, I think there's ways this can be framed by Democrats, that it is not a left-wing agenda. This is about national security ultimately and that's a value that Republicans have talked about for decades, and they will be forced to ask the question if the evidence continues to unfold this way, are they OK with a president making decisions about foreign policy based on personal interest rather than national security? And it's also about presidential power. Are Republicans OK with very strong, aggressive use of presidential power or abuse of presidential power?

Those are two key conservative rhetorical talking points and that's what impeachment is going to force them to answer as well as do they believe in law and order.

WHITFIELD: Jay, a new ABC News poll shows that the majority of Americans think Trump's actions tied to Ukraine is a serious problem. But they're also, you know, not even surprised. A majority of whom say they're not surprised by this kind of behavior. But what does this mean? How do you translate this, you know, to the electorate?

NEWTON-SMALL: Well, Fred, I think this is just -- it's sort of classic Trump in that they've come to expect this of him. They've come to sort of just roll their eyes and say, oh, that's just Trump being Trump. And I think that's a danger in many ways because he consistently gets away with doing all kinds of things that other politicians could never even fathom. And so I think to some degree Republicans, what Julian was saying, are Republicans going to allow him to sort of take such executive privilege? In many ways they don't seem to have a choice because the base just seems to forgive him whatever it is that he wants to do.

I mean, he was -- the fiscal conservatives didn't bat an eyelash when he increased spending into all these tax cuts. It did not upset hugely. I mean, we've got huge deficits running. The hawks didn't seem to care when he -- you know, when took money from the budget to build the border wall, he took money from the Pentagon to build the border wall. He constantly does betray what they say are Republican sort of main stays and values. But without any impunity or with no impunity and that's because that's just Trump being Trump and his base just kind of says, oh, that's the way he is and they expect of him these days.

[16:10:02]

WHITFIELD: All right. Jay Newton-Small, Julian Zelizer, Michael Warren, thanks to you all.

ZELIZER: Thank you.

NEWTON-SMALL: Thanks, Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right. Still ahead, Democrats say time is of the essence when it comes to the impeachment inquiry, but not all of them are on the same page. I'll talk to a key lawmaker about why some Democrats are taking a slow and steady approach.

The Trump administration is under scrutiny for hiding some of the president's calls on a different server, but the U.S. State Department is reporting -- is reportedly focusing on Hillary Clinton' e-mails again. The strategy behind all of that, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WHITFIELD: All right, right now there are just 12 House Democrats who don't support impeachment into President Trump. But even those who do support it they're cautious about supporting impeachment itself.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. EDDIE BERNICE JOHNSON (D-TX): That's 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's no author. But we can and we do have the ability to examine all of the facts.

REP. HAKEEM JEFFRIES (D-NY): And we'll see where we get with respect to Articles of Impeachment at the end of the process. We're going to follow facts, we're going to apply the law, we're going to be guided by the Constitution and we're going to present the facts to the American people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[16:15:03]

WHITFIELD: All right. I'm pleased to be joined now by Michigan Democratic Congresswoman Debbie Dingell.

Good to see you, Congresswoman. So there is impeachment and then there is the impeachment inquiry. Where are you on impeachment?

REP. DEBBIE DINGELL (D-MI): You know, I think I'm where the bulk of my colleagues are, which is we need to follow the facts. So I think my colleagues before me just stated it very clearly. Impeachment is very serious for this country. One of my concerns has been how divided we are, but we are divided but we can't be divided on the rule of law so we need to get the facts. So as others have said, that's why these investigations are so important. They need to be done in classified settings at the Intelligence Committee with the whistleblowers, with the inspector generals. We need the facts.

WHITFIELD: So this inquiry, or in this inquiry, what are the facts that you believe are missing? What is needed in which to take it a step further into impeachment proceedings?

DINGELL: You know, I'm going to be -- by the way, I plan on still trying to lower the cost of prescription drugs in the committees that I'm on as this is happening. My colleagues in the Intelligence Committee with the skill of Chairman Nadler and Chairman Cummings from Oversight who have had a look at record, you know, we've had a report from a whistleblower that there could be conversations, that there could be a pattern of corruption that's endangering our national security.

The inspector general thought -- had reported to us that it was a credible and urgent threat. Now we need to know what is in that, and by the way, a lot of this probably should never be made public. There are issues that need to be very confidential. We have to make sure that the whistleblowers are safe. That's one of the most important parts of our whistleblower's law. That we need to know, has the rule of law been violated? Has our national security been harmed? And if so, they'll come forward with this recommendation.

WHITFIELD: So while you're an advocate of the inquiry and yes, you know, you want as much information to come to the surface as possible as it pertains to these concerns, you are still focused on prescription drugs among the issues that you believe your constituents and Americans want you to spend your time on. Are you worried, however, that there are a number of pressing issues that will take the back -- take to the back burner because of the energy going into the fact-finding mission during this impeachment inquiry?

DINGELL: I'm worried that the media is going to focus on fact-finding and not in communicating to the American people what we're going to be doing on like lowering drug prices. Fact of the matter is, we all have different committee assignments. I care very much. I don't think this is a happy day for this country. I think it's a very sad day that we are where we are. Having to have this impeachment inquiry. But I also -- I was home this weekend. I've a very divided district of Ann Arbor which has been putting a lot of pressure on me for months. But I went down river yesterday which had very significant Trump numbers in the presidential. And I was in Monroe County, that President Trump won by 21 percent.

People there are trying to -- they do want to know that we're going to do things that they're concerned about. They're worried about tariffs. I've got UAW workers that are walking the picket line, that are worried about trade deals. But they're also really concerned about what's happening to our country. They want more information. I thought I might be yelled at more yesterday. I was yelled at on a plane by somebody not many my district. But people are thoughtful. They're engaged. They're worried.

WHITFIELD: Yes. And did this impeachment talk reach a new level in your view once the House speaker said laws have been violated, the Constitution has been violated, and the inquiry took on a whole new momentum as a result of the House speaker's words this week? Are you in agreement with that method, that style?

DINGELL: I would say that the speaker probably contribute that, but I'm also going to tell you that when it becomes public that a whistleblower has said that our country's national security could be harm and inspector general and the head -- the acting director of Homeland Security say they're credible and that our national security could be at risk, our jobs as elected officials are to protect our national security and to protect our Constitution. Quite frankly, those are the words that I'm so deeply disturbed about.

WHITFIELD: Among the Democratic candidates in the race for the White House, Senator Elizabeth Warren. She's been a very strong proponent of impeachment. Not just the inquiry but the impeachment. She had this to say at a presidential forum in Detroit earlier today. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[16:20:03]

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We cannot have a man in the White House who believes that he can use whatever tools are available in government to him that he can squeeze world leaders, that he can use your tax dollars to dangle as aid in front of a foreign country, not for purposes of helping the United States of America, but for purposes of helping Donald Trump get re-elected. That is wrong and Congress has a responsibility to step up and vote on impeachment.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: So she also said apparently, you know, that the investigation should happen quickly. In your view, what is a reasonable time frame in which to get to the bottom of all these questions?

DINGELL: So first of all, I think that one of the fundamental principles of our Constitution is due process as well. But I agree with everything that she said about how we have to make sure that our national security is not being violated and those kinds of conversations aren't happening with the president. And because I do know that Republicans and Democrats alike have promised to delivery lowering prescription drugs and everybody is going to be held accountable for that for next year. I -- you know, story after story because I've got those UAW members walking the picket line because their jobs have been shipped overseas to Mexico, we need to not have this dominate the headlines every single minute. That we need to get the facts and I do believe we need to move quickly.

WHITFIELD: All right. Congresswoman Debbie Dingell, thank you so much.

DINGELL: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: Straight ahead, House Democrats say the whistleblower at the center of the Ukraine controversy could testify in front of lawmakers as early as this week, but what are the questions Republicans should be asking? I'll talk to the former Republican chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:26:01]

WHITFIELD: All right. Welcome back. We're going to have to take a short break for now and come back to you when we have some guidance on where we're going next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:30:20]

WHITFIELD: OK. Welcome back. Democrats are ramping up their impeachment inquiry this week with a tentative agreement to interview an anonymous whistleblower. And congressional leaders on both sides of the aisle are preparing for what could be the most bruising political fight in decades, the possible impeachment of a president.

Joining us right now, CNN National Security Commentator, Mike Rodgers. He's the former chairman of the House Intelligence Committee and now host of CNN's "Declassified". Mike, good to see you.

MIKE ROGERS, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY COMMENTATOR: Great to see you, Fred. How are you?

WHITFIELD: I'm good. So, let's talk about this whistleblower and possibly testifying this week. And there's a tentative agreement that that person might do that. And then, the former special envoy to Ukraine might also appear before Congress this week. So, what are some of the questions that you would want asked of these two?

ROGERS: Yes. And first of all, it's like a very hungry lion and you walking between that line and a very tender steak. It's just going to be a rough go, unfortunately, by all of the public appearances surrounding the particular whistleblower. But I do think there's legitimate questions to get to the bottom of it.

The whistleblower talked to a lot of people in the White House to -- that supported the complaint and the whistleblower complaint try to find out who those folks were and what access they had and start walking down that list.

And if you're the Republicans, you're going to say, great. Did you happen to know about the other leaks from the White House on these very sensitive conversations between the president and Australia, and the president of Mexico, which were pretty serious leaks? And so, you're going to have to try start trying to figure out was it a partisan thing and then the whistleblower complaint. Even the IG said yes, partisanship played a role. But he believed that the facts overrode. That it was a partisan role.

So, I think it's the legitimate concern of the folks in the committee. You'd hope it'd be on both parties to determine what were the motivations for the whistleblower? Who, in fact, that gave that whistleblower the information?

And then, you would go on to that next chapter about Volker about saying, did the White House tell you to do this for these specific purposes? Did you have these conversations with the leadership of Ukraine based on that transcript and the kind of things the president was asking in that transcript? All of that to me is going to be very material to this investigation.

WHITFIELD: So, there has -- there have to be hurdles such as security clearances cleared before you hear the testimony of possibly the whistleblower and the same could pertain perhaps to Kurt Volker. Are you concerned that that may stand in the way of their candor on answering any and all questions that would come before them?

ROGERS: You mean about getting the lawyers' clearances do you mean?

WHITFIELD: So, reportedly, there has to be security clearance...

ROGERS: Yes.

WHITFIELD: ...for the whistleblower to actually testify. And possibly, that might apply to Kurt Volker. Are you concerned that not getting...

ROGERS: Yes, I would be a little...

WHITFIELD: ...security clearance will stop them from testifying?

ROGERS: Yes. It was my belief, Fred, that the clearance issue was not based on the two individuals. He would have clearance. He would just need to extend it. And I guess that's -- they could deny that.

But secondly, on the whistleblower, that person, if he is in the -- in the intelligence business has a security clearance, my understanding was, the lawyers that this particular person would have might not have a clearance. And they'd have to approve the clearance for the lawyers on the specific line of questioning.

That's happened before. I dealt with it as chairman. There's a process to do it. That shouldn't be the determinant factor. Meaning the White House shouldn't mess with that process. They should allow that to go forward. And I hope that's in fact what they do.

If they don't, it just continues to show there's something to hide that my argument is there's no FBI (ph) agent. If you're not guilty, don't act guilty. Let's -- let the information go where it's going to go. WHITFIELD: Having the transcripts -- the transcripts of the president's conversations with the leaders of Russia, of Ukraine, you know, and of Saudi Arabia in this special vault, does that raise concern to you that there are things to hide from these conversations?

ROGERS: Well, you know, listen. All of it makes me uncomfortable including the conversation the president had on the phone with the Ukrainian leader. Trying to drag in any domestic political issue in a foreign conversation is never helpful.

The one thing that's struck me on this, and I've talked to some -- a group of intelligence folks over the last couple of days that bothered them is that part of the reason -- of course, this is the White House's version of this and some of these folks who work in the intelligence business -- part of the reason was because of those pretty serious leaks with other presidential leaders, they started to, they would call it neck it down, just make it smaller the people who could have access to these conversations.

So remember, they're going to come back, I would imagine...

[16:35:13]

WHITFIELD: Yes, lock down.

ROGERS: Yes.

WHITFIELD: Do you believe that that that's the reason?

ROGERS: I don't know. I mean, now of course, obviously, you -- given the context of the conversation from Ukraine you would certainly want to - the Ukrainian leader -- you'd certainly want to see these conversations to make sure it was consistent with that.

But here's the other problem. You don't want that information to get out or the President of the United States, this one or any other one, will never be able to have a candid conversation on those phones with another foreign leader.

So, if you do this, it has to be very tight. It has to be a very small review. And it should not be made public for that reason of you have to have this capability to be candid with leaders overseas.

Again, given the context of this, it's likely that they're going to have to have somebody take a look at those transcripts to make sure that there wasn't something following up on the Ukrainian conversation that might be of interest.

WHITFIELD: OK. Let me now turn to the "CNN Original Series, Declassified: Untold Stories of American Spies", that you host. It premieres tonight with a look at a plot to blow up the New York City subway system on the 18th Anniversary of 9/11. Here's a preview.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The first e-mail that came across was from that address to a yahoo account, njbzaz@yahoo.com. And then, there were three e-mails from njbzaz@yahoo.com saying, please get in touch with me right away. I need the formula. The marriage is ready for flour and oil.

The term marriage is a term that we all know and understand to mean attack. The other problem is, is that these e-mails are occurring just days before the anniversary of 9/11. Everybody was concerned that we had a major problem on our hands.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: All right. Zazi wasn't a known terrorist. He was more of a lone wolf. So, how did authorities become aware of the fact that this plot even existed in the first place?

ROGERS: Yes. And think about this, didn't know he was there. He was living Colorado at the time. He had traveled to Pakistan, Fred. He trained in an al-Qaeda training camp. He had gotten explosives training in an al-Qaeda training camp and made it back into the United States. And they didn't know who he was.

So that, in and of itself, was a little nerve racking. And in this story tonight, you're going hear how it unfolds and how the National Security Agency played a very important role on a small tip that allowed this whole thing to kind of kick into action.

And the scary thing and the good thing about this is it showed how across agencies our intelligence services kind of rounded up. And in the matter of a few days, we're able to identify him, get some background on him, and stop the subway attack.

And it was serious. They had bombs. They had materials. They were going to do this. It was an ongoing operation that could have happened if it weren't for the quick action of our Joint Terrorism Task Force.

WHITFIELD: All right. Mike Rogers. We'll be watching. Fascinating stuff.

ROGERS: All right. Thanks.

WHITFIELD: Don't - and thank you so much for joining us this Sunday. Don't miss the season premiere of the "CNN Original Series, Declassified: Untold Stories of American Spies", tonight at 9:00 Eastern and Pacific only on CNN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:42:25]

WHITFIELD: All right. One of the president's fiercest supporters in Congress gave a fiery defense of the president's controversial call with the President of Ukraine today.

Republican Congressman Jim Jordan of Ohio and CNN's Jake Tapper got into a contentious exchange during his appearance on "State of the Union" today as Tapper challenged Jordan's accusations about Democratic Presidential Candidate, Joe Biden, and his son, Hunter.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: The president is calling for Ukraine to investigate his rivals.

REP. JIM JORDAN, (R-OH): Jake, you're missing the fundamental point here.

TAPPER: I'm not missing anything.

JORDAN: The Democrats -- if you want to impeach -- and this is their argument, Rudy Giuliani talked to Ukrainian. Rudy Giuliani the private lawyer of the president. So, we're going to impeach this president.

TAPPER: I'm not saying whether...

JORDAN: Give me a break.

TAPPER: I'm not...

JORDAN: I think the American people are going, really?

TAPPER: I'm not taking any position...

JORDAN: And my (CROSSTALK) - in light of what this president's been able to do leading our country, in light of the economic growth, what he's done with our Supreme Court Justice, what he's done with the Embassy in Jerusalem, a host of things, you really think the American people are like, wait a minute, so Rudy Giuliani, the president's private lawyer had a conversation with Ukrainian (CROSSTALK). Give me a break.

TAPPER: I think that you came here and leveled a bunch of accusations and allegations about Hunter Biden.

JORDAN: I didn't believe -- I stated the facts. I didn't -- I just said the facts. Did he take $50,000 a month?

TAPPER: He was paid by a foreign company. Yes.

JORDAN: $50,000 a month.

TAPPER: His friend by Burisma. But Joe Biden was trying to get a prosecutor who was not pursuing corruption fired. And it was supporting -- it was...

JORDAN: It's amazing the gymnastics you guys would go through to defend what -- do you really think the vice president -- the vice president of the United States...

TAPPER: Sir, it's not gymnastics. It's facts. And I would think somebody who's been accused of things in the last year and two would be more sensitive about throwing out wild allegations against people.

JORDAN: I'm throwing out wild allegations. I'm throwing out the facts. You're -- the what...

TAPPER: The prosecutor was not pursuing corruption. That's why the entire West wanted him fired including anti-corruption activists in Ukraine. I don't understand what you don't get about that.

JORDAN: I get that. I'm just talking about this specific case. That there's been reporting on and the facts of that specific case are what he was paid per month, $50,000. Like I said, that's more than some of the folks I get the privilege of representing in the 4th District of Ohio get paid in a year.

He's getting that $50,000 a month, the vice president's son. He got hired for what?

TAPPER: The president's daughter, right now, is having all sorts of copyrights granted in foreign countries. That doesn't alarm you. The president's sons...

JORDAN: Come on.

TAPPER: ...are doing all sorts of business all over the world. That doesn't alarm you.

JORDAN: Jake, come on.

TAPPER: What's come on? Either there's a principle -- either there's a principle that people should not -- that people should not benefit from their connections or there isn't.

JORDAN: The previous administration's FBI went after this president on July 31st (CROSSTALK).

TAPPER: They (CROSSTALK) because they didn't even acknowledge there was an investigation until after the election.

[16:45:02]

JORDAN: No. They went after him. They spied on two Americans associated with President Trump's campaign. They put Peter Strzok in charge of that.

TAPPER: If they...

JORDAN: The guy -- the guy who said Trump should lose a hundred million to zero.

TAPPER: OK.

JORDAN: They allowed -- they allowed...

TAPPER: If...

JORDAN: ...Jim Comey to leak documents to get a special (INAUDIBLE).

TAPPER: Sir.

JORDAN: They used a dossier to go get a warrant to spy on (INAUDIBLE).

TAPPER: OK. Now, we're back to the dossier and Peter Strzok.

JORDAN: No. I'm just saying that's what happened to President Trump.

TAPPER: If...

JORDAN: And in light -- now that - none of that worked. None of that worked.

TAPPER: I understand you want to change the subject. But the president...

JORDAN: No. It's -- it is...

TAPPER: ...was pushing the President of Ukraine to investigate a political rival. I cannot believe that that is OK with you. I can't believe it's OK with you. If this is a principle...

JORDAN: It is not OK because he didn't - but he didn't do that. He didn't

TAPPER: It's in the transcript. We've all read it.

JORDAN: I've read the transcript.

TAPPER: He says that the Bidens need to be investigated.

JORDAN: You got to read it in context. That's what you guys do. You guys don't read things in context. The context is that that comes up when (Salisky's) talking about...

TAPPER: All right.

JORDAN: ...all investigations open and candid.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: Jordan is a member of the Oversight Committee. And that is one of the House Committees Kurt Volker, the former special envoy to the Ukraine, is said to appear before this week.

All right. Much more straight ahead in the "Newsroom". But first, I want to highlight this week's "CNN Hero" who is providing comfort and nourishment to victims of natural disasters.

Twenty-seventeen top ten "CNN Hero" Stan Hays is mobilizing "Operation Barbecue Relief" to feed survivors and first responders across the country and now, overseas.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STAN HAYS, CNN HERO: We are getting ready to ship over to the Bahamas 10,000 meals. This is our first international mission, our three- millionth meal since we started the organization in 2011, is going over on this plane. For us, that's a huge milestone. We hate to see disasters happen. But we're so blessed that we can provide them comfort through good, hot barbecue meal. Get on bread. The folks there that just need a good, hot meal. They need a lift up. And that's what these meals are.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I appreciate it.

HAYS: You bet. Thank you, sir. If it takes their mind away from what's happening to them for a few minutes, it means a lot.

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WHITFIELD: For more on "Operation Barbecue Relief", go to cnnheroes.com.

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[16:50:59]

WHITFIELD: All right, new reporting today that the Trump Administration continues to investigate Hillary Clinton's e-mails. According to the "Washington Post", as many as 130 current and former state department officials who sent e-mails to Clinton have been contacted by state department investigators.

A senior state department official speaking on the condition of anonymity tells the Post, "This has nothing to do with who is in the White House. This is about the time it took to go through millions of e-mails, which is about three and a half years."

Brett Bruen is a former director of global engagement at the White House under President Obama. Good to see you. So, people who are being questioned in this probe told the Post that this is, quote, an obscene abuse of power. But then other state department officials quoted in the Post say this is protocol. Which is it in your view?

BRETT BRUEN, PRESIDENT OF THE GLOBAL SITUATION ROOM: Well, I will say it smells like a hunting expedition. It really appears as though the Trump Administration is deputizing diplomatic security agents to do their opposition research.

And let's also bear in mind, this is happening at same time that Rudy Giuliani was running around Ukraine looking to dig up dirt on Joe Biden. There is a pattern of behavior here that is quite concerning and I think should be alarming to a number of us who have served in our nation's national security structure because this was never the case before.

We never pursued the political agenda of a president. We never pursued past political appointees because quite frankly, there are higher priorities. And I'd like to know who put this at the top of the priority list.

WHITFIELD: So, you don't see this as coincidental that this would be revealed, that they would up the ante on searching e-mails in August. And then now, we're talking about Rudy Giuliani and Ukraine. You see this as calculated.

BRUEN: Well because the table is stacked with very pressing issues that diplomatic security needs to address. The security of our embassies overseas and threats to American diplomats which have only multiplied in recent years and yet somehow in some way it was communicated that this ought to be the priority. And that is alarming to me. I am concerned that somehow we are politicizing the work of diplomatic security agents in an unprecedented fashion.

WHITFIELD: Hillary Clinton's e-mail probe overshadowed much of the 2016 campaign. Do you see this impeachment inquiry doing the same in this race 2020?

BRUEN: Well, you know, it's interesting. I think on the one hand it has certainly sucked up a lot of the oxygen and from the presidential campaign and it is focused squarely here in Washington up on Capitol Hill.

But at the same time, there is a risk for Democrats. One, they've had difficulty over the last nine months in trying to pin problems on President Trump. And we'll see what happens with Adam Schiff and this latest hearing. But I do certainly think we're also seeing an increased focus now on the national security credentials of the candidates.

And a lot of the Democratic candidates have struggled on this score. And with the attention on these issues like Ukraine, it will force them to spend more time in this space and less, the other issues that they've been talking about.

WHITFIELD: Brett Bruen, thank you so much.

BRUEN: Good to be with you.

WHITFIELD: All right. Late night television is poking fun at all things Washington. Impeachment was front and center as "Saturday Night Live" kicked off its 45th season last night.

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ALEC BALDWIN: Get me Rudy Giuliani on the phone.

LIEV SCHREIBER: Oh hi, Mr. Trump. What's new?

BALDWIN: What do you mean, what's new, Rudy? I'm being impeached. It's the greatest presidential harassment of all time, I would know. I'm like the president of harassment.

[16:55:08]

SCHREIBER: You got to relax, Mr. Trump. We got nothing to worry about. Nobody's going to find out about our illegal side dealings with the Ukraine.

BALDWIN: Good.

SCHREIBER: Or how we tried to cover up those side dealings.

BALDWIN: Great.

SCHREIBER: Or how we plan to cover up the cover up.

BALDWIN: Rudy, where are you right now?

SCHREIBER: I'm on CNN right now. Let me put you on speaker.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: All right. Thank you so much for hanging with us on this Sunday. I'm Fredericka Whitfield. The "Newsroom" continues with Ana Cabrera right after this.

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ANA CABRERA, CNN HOST: Hello. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York. Thanks for being here. You are live in the "CNN Newsroom". And this week in the last relatively calm days before the impeachment inquiry really picks up on to the American landscape thundering in possibly into America's history books.

Today, we learn that the person who set this monumental machine in motion, the whistleblower, is a step closer to going under oath, the man or woman who filed that high-level complaint accusing President Trump of strong arming a foreign government, Ukraine, into digging up political dirt on Joe Biden and his son.

And that person is close to testifying before the powerful House Intelligence Committee. The exact date, we don't know yet. The name of the whistleblower and where he or she works, we don't know that either.

[17:00:00]