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Trump Escalates Attacks as Impeachment Probe Intensifies; Whistleblower Expected to Testify Soon; House Democrats Begin Impeachment Hearings and Depositions this Week; President Trump Escalates Attacks as Impeachment Probe Intensifies; NYT: Trump and Giuliani Ran Shadow Foreign Policy in Ukraine. Aired 9-9:30a ET
Aired September 30, 2019 - 09:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Good Monday morning, everyone. I'm Poppy Harlow in New York.
As the impeachment battle begins to take shape, President Trump launches a new round of attacks on Twitter. His primary target this morning is congressman and the head of the House Intelligence Committee, Adam Schiff. The president is saying that the Democratic chair should be, quote, "arrested for treason" possibly.
Next on the president's list the whistleblower, the president demands to meet this person that he calls his accuser face-to-face, even as attorneys for the whistleblower say they have, quote, "serious concerns" for their client's safety.
And another troubling thought from the president of the United States this morning, warning a civil war-style split in the country can only be stopped by, you guessed it, keeping him in office.
Our team is covering this from all angles this morning. Let's go to our senior Washington correspondent Joe Johns. We'll begin there at the White House then we'll go to Lauren Fox on Capitol Hill.
I mean, Joe, the president called for the outing of a confidential whistleblower last night. He said that Adam Schiff may have committed treason last night and then proposed his potential arrest this morning and then he accused last night another U.S. official of spying on him.
JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Right. And, you know, in the big picture, the 30,000 foot view, Poppy, we're all looking to see how the president and his allies, even his personal attorney, are going to defend the president as this impeachment inquiry moves forward, and treason, of course, one of the words the president has thrown around before, not always accurately, but there are some other things that the president tweeted over the weekend.
There you see that one, "Adam Schiff, the chairman of the Intelligence Committee, made up a fake and terrible statement," goes on talking about the Ukrainian president and says that it bore no relationship to what he said on the call. That's referring to the statement by Adam Schiff before the Intelligence Committee as things kicked off last week.
Schiff did, in fact, embellish the president's words as we know them from the conversation notes that were released. He said it was a parody, nonetheless, a CNN fact check has found them certainly to be confusing.
A couple other things I think worth noting the president also sort of invoking, if you will, the Confrontation Clause of the United States Constitution, that's used in trials, when he writes that he deserves to meet his accuser when his accuser, the so-called whistleblower, represented a perfect conversation with a foreign leader in a totally inaccurate and fraudulent way.
And one more note, a lot of people are talking about this morning, is the president's retweeting or tweeting of a comment by the Texas minister Robert Jeffress, in which Jeffress suggested that there would be a civil war-like fracture in the United States if Democrats succeeded in removing President Trump. That got a pretty immediate reaction from, among others, the Republican Congressman Adam Kinzinger who essentially called it repugnant.
HARLOW: Yes. He did.
JOHNS: Back to you, Poppy.
HARLOW: OK. Joe Johns, thank you very much for that reporting.
Let's go to Capitol Hill now. Lauren Fox is on the Hill for us this morning.
Good morning, Lauren.
LAUREN FOX, CNN POLITICS CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Poppy. So, you know, it's full steam ahead up here on Capitol Hill, despite the fact that it is a congressional recess. The Intelligence Committee still planning on holding a series of closed-door hearings this week. We expect that they will hear testimony from the Intelligence Community's inspector general on Friday. We also expect that there could be more subpoenas handed out this week.
Adam Schiff said yesterday that he is preparing, that he will ask for documents from Rudy Giuliani. He also said on "60 Minutes" there may very well come a time where we want to hear from him directly. Also, there are negotiations to have the whistleblower come and testify behind closed doors. Of course there are still some logistic concerns about how exactly you get the whistleblower to testify and you protect that person's identity.
Yesterday Nancy Pelosi held a call with her Democratic caucus asking them to be very serious in how they talk about the impeachment proceedings. She also argued that public polling is changing dramatically on where Americans feel about impeachment -- Poppy.
HARLOW: She's right. She's got a majority now, 55 percent who say move forward with the inquiry, but still only 6 percent are Republican, and that's the rub for them. Lauren, before you go, you've got some great new reporting this
morning about how worried members of Congress, both Democrats and Republicans, were for months on end over the summer about the lack of giving this aid to Ukraine, including Mitch McConnell.
FOX: That's right. You know, Poppy, over several months, Democrats and Republicans had come together, they wanted this money, this military aid, to go to Ukraine. Multiple months go by, they keep asking questions, why hasn't this money gone out, why hasn't this money gone out? Finally, at the end of August, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell gets personally involved. He starts making calls to the secretary of Defense and the secretary of State trying to get to the bottom of it.
Of course, we find out just a couple of weeks later the money is released, but Democrats and Republicans still have questions, why it took so long for that money to go out -- Poppy.
HARLOW: Lauren, thank you. Great reporting as always. We'll get back to you shortly.
Let's talk about all of these developments because, wow, it was a busy weekend. A.B. Stoddard is here, associate editor and columnist for RealClearPolitics, Brittany Shepherd, national politics reporter for Yahoo! News, and our global affairs analyst Susan Glasser with "The New Yorker."
Good morning, ladies. So, Brittany, let me begin with you and I'd like everyone to just listen to this exchange. "60 Minutes" did a great comprehensive piece on all of this last night. They sat down with House leadership. Listen to what House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SCOTT PELLEY, CBS' "60 MINUTES": President Trump replies, I would like you to do us a favor, though.
REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): You just added another word.
PELLEY: No. It's in the transcript.
MCCARTHY: It said, I'd like you to do a favor, though?
PELLEY: Yes, it's in the White House transcript.
MCCARTHY: When I read the --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARLOW: OK. Of course, that's the Ukraine transcript of the July 25th call. Though is a key word and it was in there, Brittany. What does that show you, that the Republican leadership in the House responded in that way? Are they prepared for the battle ahead? BRITTANY SHEPHERD, NATIONAL POLITICS REPORTER, YAHOO NEWS: Well, I
think it definitely says that the Republican leadership was going to be towing the line with the president. We saw this, of course, around the Mueller report that they were not going to be breaking from talking points, at least in the beginning, because they might be afraid of repudiation from the president and his allies, and I kind of don't want to get ahead of Republican skis in messaging.
You know, the Trump campaign is really good at fundraising off of controversy. I think my phone got like six or seven texts just this weekend from the Trump campaign being able to say, you know, we're not cash poor and if you believe that impeachment, you know, doesn't -- won't help our party like donate some money to us, and so I think leadership is going to be a bit quiet and let the campaign do its thing, while they let recess kind of (INAUDIBLE) along for the next two weeks.
HARLOW: Susan, the fact that the president retweeted or tweeted out that quote from one of his staunchest supporters last night talking about a civil war-like fracture and the fact that that prompted Republican congressman Adam Kinzinger to say, quote, "I have visited nations ravaged by civil war, @realDonaldTrump, I have never imagined such a quote to be repeated by a president. This is beyond repugnant."
Will this response continue to be, though, Susan, just words from Republicans in Congress or will anything turn here? Right? Will any action be taken?
SUSAN GLASSER, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Well, it's a good question. You know, for every Adam Kinzinger the truth is, is that there haven't been a lot of others to respond in this way and you could argue, in fact, that the thing that's notable is the sound of silence largely coming from the Republican caucus in both the House and the Senate. I think that's going to be -- when we look back on this period of time, one of the most historically resident facts is the extent to which the Republican Party has essentially become the party of Donald Trump and so, you know, to me, I often think, how few, you know -- the whistleblower is an outlier, right.
We made such a big news out of the fired former Homeland Security adviser to Donald Trump speaking out yesterday and saying that he was concerned about the president's spreading conspiracy theories. The reason that it's news is because so few have spoken out, even though there's been this epic turnover. So I don't see that changing yet. But I do think Trump in this very frenetic, almost this panicky response that he's had over the last few days to the surprise Ukraine investigation and impeachment proceedings, he seems so panicky and attacking so viscerally people like Mitt Romney, the only Republican senator. Will he overdo it? Will he risk, you know, alienating more Republican swing votes? That is a question.
GLASSER: But so far no.
HARLOW: So you have what Adam Kinzinger said last night responding to that tweet.
A.B., you have Nevada Republican Mark Amodei who said on Friday he supports letting this at least play out. He quickly sort of said, I don't mean I support impeachment, but I --
A.B. STODDARD, ASSOCIATE EDITOR AND COLUMNIST, REALCLEARPOLITICS: Right.
HARLOW: You know, but I do support letting the process play out, and you do have polling turning. The CBS-YouGov poll, 55 percent of Americans support this inquiry, but still only 6 percent of Republicans.
So, will members of Congress like him from Nevada get any company any time soon?
STODDARD: I think that's going to depend on whether or not we see new revelations, you know, in -- quickly. We're going to have the Ukraine envoy who just resigned on Friday night, speaking to the Congress, we have the whistleblower speaking not only to the House Intelligence Committee, but the Senate Intelligence Committee, which is in a Republican majority conducting a bipartisan investigation. That Republican senators very well know could yield far more damaging information than just what we learned from the complaint on Thursday and that's what's making them so nervous.
They have no idea what Rudy Giuliani has been up to, telling everyone on FOX News that he had the approval and the direction of the State Department, how vast this spreads within the administration, maybe not with conspirators but people who are complicit because they knew, because the vice president was supposed to go to Ukraine in a delegation upon President Zelensky's inauguration and in a snub directed by President Trump, Rick Perry, the Energy secretary, was sent instead.
Mick Mulvaney was asked to freeze the aid that Mitch McConnell and other Republicans, along with of course Democrats, were so upset was being stalled throughout the summer. So there's so much more that they don't know that is out there, what if transcripts leave that secret server and his conversations with Putin or the crown prince of Saudi Arabia that they're trying to stay quiet but they're under tremendous pressure to stay quiet and not criticize in the press.
HARLOW: And Brittany, I mean, I think exactly to A.B.'s point was this reporting that over the weekend that it was explosive that barely made headlines because of all that is going on, and that, "The Washington Post" breaking the news over the weekend, they're reporting is that in that now infamous Oval Office meeting in 2017 with the Russians including Kislyak, the president said to the Russians, that he was, quote, "unconcerned" about Moscow's interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election because the United States did the same in other countries -- Brittany.
SHEPHERD: And I do feel like that's exactly the pitch the Democrats are making right now during recess as they're home in their home districts, especially those crucial swing Democrats who flipped seats from Trump in 2018. They're telling their constituents like, look, we don't want this to be partisan, but we need to follow the letter of the law and hold the president against the Constitution and these reports like from "The Washington Post" trickling out about Trump's alleged calls with Ukraine kind of sell the more constitutional and less partisan part of this argument.
But, you know, I think the question for me as a campaign reporter is, are voters going to be open to listening to that line of conversation?
HARLOW: Yes. And I think that's -- that is the question to ask because that's what matters, the sentiment, where is the will and the sentiment of the American people. We're going to talk to two lawmakers in the next two hours and talk to them about what their constituents are telling them at home.
Susan, Tom Bossert, of course formerly with the president's administration, now a contributor to ABC News, said yesterday he was deeply disturbed, his words, by that call with the Ukrainian president and for the president asking for political dirt on an opponent, and then "The New York Times" writes this, quote, "Trump was repeatedly warned by his own staff that the Ukraine conspiracy theory that he and his lawyers were pursuing was completely debunked long before the president pressed Ukraine this summer to investigate his Democratic rivals.
The "Times" also says that other former aides said he would not accept the facts no matter how many times they were laid out to him. The significance?
GLASSER: Yes. I think this is an extremely significant bit of testimony and I imagine this would be something that figures into the House Intelligence investigation of this. The president of the United States spreading conspiracy theories from the Oval Office after his staff, U.S. government officials, have briefed him on the nature of these allegations and that they're completely false. Remember, we have the transcript because Trump's own officials put them out because Trump himself put this transcript out in which it's clear that he's referring to this completely untrue allegation that somehow the CrowdStrike server ended up in Ukraine.
This is an extraordinary development. We have a president who is personally spreading conspiracy theories, despite having been told the actual facts by his own administration. These are his own officials. And so I believe that that's very significant testimony. I think we're going to find out a lot more information in the course of this investigation, and, you know, again, we just, as a system, as a country, are we really prepared for the idea that we have someone in the Oval Office who is willing to stake his presidency on a completely crazy and untrue conspiracy theory? This is a real novelty for America.
[09:15:00] POPPY HARLOW, ANCHOR, NEWSROOM: Uncharted territory for sure. Thank
you ladies, A.B., Brittany, Susan, appreciate having you this morning. Still to come, will Rudy Giuliani cooperate with Congress or not? He is totally giving mixed messages on that front.
And as house Democrats dig into the impeachment probe, one lawmaker says the president should also face a criminal trial if removed from office. I will speak to the Democratic member of Congress about that. Plus, how will this investigation differ from Watergate? A former Watergate prosecutor joins us live.
HARLOW: All right, welcome back, Rudy Giuliani; the president's personal attorney will not make clear if he will or won't cooperate with any subpoenas from the House Intelligence Committee. As early as today, Intel Chair Adam Schiff could issue subpoenas for documents related to the whole Ukraine affair from Giuliani. Giuliani contradicted himself about whether he would or will not comply.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUDY GIULIANI, ATTORNEY TO DONALD TRUMP: I wouldn't cooperate with Adam Schiff. I think Adam Schiff should be removed. If they remove Adam Schiff, if they put a neutral person in who hasn't prejudged the case, if they put someone in, a Democrat who hasn't expressed an opinion --
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, TELEVISION JOURNALIST: You're not going to cooperate --
GIULIANI: I didn't say that --
STEPHANOPOULOS: Wait --
GIULIANI: I said I would consider it.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You said you wouldn't do it.
GIULIANI: I said --
STEPHANOPOULOS: You said you would not cooperate with Adam Schiff --
GIULIANI: I said I will consider it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARLOW: OK, well, you heard his words. Michael Warren joins me now, you have a great piece on cnn.com about this. I would just note, Rudy Giuliani is calling for, you know, impartial, independent chair of the House Intel Committee. Well, I'm old enough to remember when Devin Nunes chaired that committee, right? So, there's that.
Let's talk about where this goes because Schiff made it so clear last night, Michael on "60 Minutes", they are going to subpoena documents from Rudy Giuliani within a few weeks. So, where does this go?
MICHAEL WARREN, CNN REPORTER: Well, look, it's a congressional subpoena like any other. It's a committee in the House of Representatives have the same sort of powers to subpoena. And so, there's really nothing for Rudy Giuliani to stand on when he says he -- or suggests he's not going to comply.
And listen, he doesn't actually end up saying when pressed, and this is reflected in conversations I've had with him as well. When pressed --
HARLOW: Yes --
WARREN: He doesn't actually say he's not going to comply. But he is taking those opportunities when asked to trash Adam Schiff, to call the committee illegitimate. I think that's really part of his effort to sort of push not any sort of legal case, but really sort of a public affairs case, which is really what Giuliani's role is in Trump's orbit.
HARLOW: You call this in your piece, quote, "a surreal climax for Giuliani's ten-month quixotic mission." So, he is also saying, Michael, I'm going to ask my client what I can and can't do. His client is the president of the United States. How much do we know about how much attorney-client privilege could weigh in here?
WARREN: That's right. This is something that Giuliani is really pushing, saying when you do press him, are you actually going to resist the subpoena, he says, well, I've got to talk to my client, attorney-client privilege here matters.
It doesn't seem and I've asked him about this, that there's any precedent for using that when particularly the attorney, which would be Rudy Giuliani in this case could be a material witness, could have materials as Adam Schiff has said and maybe even himself be a witness for this proceeding.
So, it doesn't have a lot of weight there, it doesn't have a lot of precedent, but again, it's a part of Giuliani's effort to sort of muddy the waters here, to call out Adam Schiff for being a partisan Democrat. But at the end of the day, this is what impeachment is.
It is a political operation, as much it is, and more so than any sort of legal operation that the house is pursuing right now.
HARLOW: It would also, Michael, be perhaps a weird sort of admission that the president perhaps told him to take some of these trips to Ukraine and have some of these conversations -- if you're saying I can't talk to them because of attorney-client privilege, right?
It's going to be interesting to follow. Thank you, Michael, it's a great piece, everyone should read it online. Ahead, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says it doesn't matter, her words, if the impeachment inquiry into the president hurts the Democrats chances of keeping the house in 2020. We'll ask another Democratic Congressman if he agrees, next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
HARLOW: As the impeachment investigation into President Trump moves ahead, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is privately calling on members to avoid appearing overly partisan. She wants them to focus on the president's actions.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you have any anxiety at all about any of this stuff we're talking about or anything that we're not talking about, impacting your ability to hold control of the house in 2020?
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): It doesn't matter.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It doesn't matter?
PELOSI: Our first responsibility is to protect and defend the constitution --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right --
PELOSI: Of the United States.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, I hear you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARLOW: Joining me now, Democratic Congressman Brendan Boyle of Pennsylvania. Good morning, thanks for joining me.
REP. BRENDAN BOYLE (D-PA): Thank you.
HARLOW: Do you agree with Speaker Pelosi who just said it does not matter if this impeachment inquiry costs Democrats the house in 2020?
BOYLE: Yes, I do. I mean, I wouldn't be enthusiastic about that prospect by any means, but some things are so important, so fundamental, that frankly, I think we have to push forward with this impeachment process, regardless of the political consequences.
I think at the moment, and I know we're so used to having a pretty fractured society politically, where two sides are dug in. I think actually on this question, the politics are still murky, it shows that there has been movement in the last week to ten days that people have been moved the same way a lot of my colleagues have been in Congress because of this Trump-Ukraine affair.
That said, you know, at the end of the day, the president has left us with no other choice. We have to push forward with impeachment because the facts demand it.
HARLOW: So, Congressman, Eric Swalwell; your fellow Democrat in the house told my -- [09:30:00]