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House Democrats Continue Impeachment Inquiry Investigation and Hearings During Congressional Recess; Ukrainian President Says He's Unlikely to Release Transcript of Conversation with President Trump; Cory Booker Announced He Has Reached The Required Donor Threshold To Qualify For The November Debate. Aired 8-8:30a ET
Aired September 30, 2019 - 08:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
REP. ADAM SCHIFF, (D-CA): -- to shake down foreign leaders for help in his reelection.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If Democrats want to impeach because Rudy Giuliani talked to a couple Ukrainians, good luck with that.
REP. NANCY PELOSI, (D-CA): We could not ignore what the president did. He gave us no choice.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This whistleblower allegation is so serious, it gets to the very heart of our nation's democracy.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you read the seven-page little Nancy Drew novel that the whistleblower put together, it drips with condescension, righteous indignation, and contempt for the president.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: President Donald Trump has been caught red-handed with his hand in the taxpayer cookie jar.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is NEW DAY with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to New Day. It is Monday, September 30th, 8:00 now in the east. I'm Alisyn Camerota. Jim Sciutto is in this morning for John Berman.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: And you haven't kicked me out, so I think things are going OK.
CAMEROTA: No, you are really behaving well thus far. We'll see how this hour goes.
CAMEROTA: President Trump is escalating his attacks on the whistleblower, demanding to meet his accuser face to face. The president was seemingly irked by developments in the push to impeach him. Mr. Trump also threatening big consequences for whoever supplied information to that whistleblower. The president also attacked the Democrat who is leading the impeachment probe, even accusing him of treason. Adam Schiff confirms there is a tentative agreement for the whistleblower to testify soon. Congress is technically out of session for the next two weeks, but that is not slowing down their impeachment probe. House Democrats are going full steam ahead with hearings and depositions even this week.
SCIUTTO: The pace of this is just remarkable. And breaking this hour, Ukraine's new president now says he is, quote, unlikely to release a transcript of his conversations with President Trump. The whistleblower, you'll remember, alleges that President Trump repeatedly pressured President Zelensky to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden for the president's political gain. We should note that the White House has only released a five-page summary of what was a 30-minute conversation. That is not a transcript.
CNN's Clarissa Ward, she is live in Ukraine's capital of Kiev with the breaking details. This is a remarkable moment to hear from the Ukrainian president in the midst of all this. Tell us what the headlines were.
CLARISSA WARD, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Jim. Ukraine's president has really bent over backwards not to get involved in this, not to come out swinging on either side. It's crucial for Ukraine to remain independent in this domestic political turmoil.
But what he did say today, he was ambushed by Reuters press agency at a small event outside Kiev, and he said that they would not be releasing a transcript of the now infamous conversation between Trump and Zelensky. He did not give a reason for that, presumably partially to sort of preserve Ukraine's integrity and independence in this issue, but also potentially because that call was embarrassing for Zelensky because he is seen to be apparently disparaging France and Germany, which are key allies of Ukraine.
Now he did go on to say as well that Ukraine would investigate anyone who was found guilty or believed to be guilty of breaking Ukrainian law. But this is a crucial detail here, Jim, because repeatedly former Ukrainian prosecutors and, indeed, a senior official in the current prosecutor's office have said that there is absolutely no evidence that either of the Bidens engaged in any unlawful activity here in the Ukraine. He also went on to say, Jim, that in any case, Ukraine would not do anything at the behest of another person. Jim?
SCIUTTO: Clarissa Ward there in Kiev, on the ground.
CAMEROTA: Thank you very much for all of that reporting, Clarissa.
Joining us now to talk about it, we have CNN political analyst Margaret Talev, she's the politics and White House editor for "Axios," and CNN political commentator Joe Lockhart. He's President Clinton's former White House press secretary.
So let's start there with what Clarissa reported, Joe, and that is, if the Ukrainians are not going to put out their verbatim transcript of this conversation, then it's very hard to trust, actually, what the White House has put out. They don't have the best record with transparency, and the fact that, as Jim points out, this was a five- page summary of what we understand to be a 30-minute phone call, of course it just raises the question of what are we missing? What have they expunged? What are they hiding in that other computer network that is not supposed to be designed to store conversations like this but was storing conversations? So now what?
JOE LOCKHART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think that's what investigation and what Adam Schiff is going to be leading, because if you believe the reporting around this, and there's no reason not to, there has to be an e-mail record of people talking about, did you hear what the president said, and why it was moved from the normal server to another server. So I think they will try to -- there is no audio copy of this tape, but they will try to reconstruct using the e-mails what actually happened in that call.
The other thing is, the Ukraine president is saying now that he doesn't want to release this. Well, Congress, if they wanted, has leverage. They'll have to reauthorize more money going forward. They may be able to apply some pressure on the Ukrainian president to say we need this. We may not have heard the last of this.
SCIUTTO: Margaret Talev, it's CNN's reporting from Friday that it was not just the phone calls with the Ukrainian president that were moved to the codeword protected system normally reserved for classified discussions, et cetera, but also, imagine this, the president's call with MBS, the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia around the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, and the president's conversation with the Russian President Vladimir Putin. Does the White House have a defense for taking what is an unprecedented step in using a system intended for one thing, not for politically sensitive phone calls, like the ones that were included under this president? Do they have a defense for this?
MARGARET TALEV, SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, BLOOMBERG NEWS: Jim, I think their defense so far is that they're allowed to, and that while there may be political norms or expectations about what those systems are for, that they don't believe that there's any prohibition for moving it on to that other system.
But I think you're right that it is the least surprising thing that after the notes of this conversation came out, that everyone in Congress was like, wait a minute, what about the other phone calls? And so you're starting to see certainly Schiff push for this. You're also starting to hear from other national security professionals about whether they believe it's appropriate.
And there has always been this kind of weighing of the considerations because, of course, presidents from both political parties need to have a little bit of maneuvering room for deliberations with foreign leaders. But it does -- do the questions about the national security implications or the domestic political tradeoffs outweigh those considerations? So you are going to see a push for the release of some more information, but on the Democrats' end, they don't want to kind of create this Mueller-like situation where they ask for everything and it goes off in a million different tentacles. So I think we are going to see a push to have the release of some additional transcripts or notes, but perhaps not everything.
CAMEROTA: One of the interesting developments this weekend, Joe, was hearing the former Homeland Security Advisor Tom Bossert come forward and say he and others had tried to talk the president -- first of all, it's "The New York Times" reporting that there were other advisers who tried to talk the president out of these conspiracy theories that he holds so dear. He is very -- he appears to be attached to the conspiracy theory that Ukraine was involved in the 2016 election rather than Russia. The president is so resistant to the idea that his pal Vladimir Putin or Russia could be behind it. And to hear Tom Bossert, we rarely hear the cracks within the circle of the administration. And I just think it's notable to play right here what Tom Bossert said this weekend about this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TOM BOSSERT, FORMER TRUMP HOMELAND SECURITY ADVISOR: At this point I am deeply frustrated with what he and the legal team is doing in repeating that debunked theory to the president. It sticks in his mind when he hears it over and over again. And for clarity here, George, let me just again repeat that it has no validity.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: He couldn't get the president to hear that.
LOCKHART: Yes. I Listen, we have heard this before. And we've heard -- we had an anonymous writer to "The New York Times" op-ed page saying that the president is a child and we have to manage him like he's a child. We had Rex Tillerson talk a little bit. But this was probably the most direct and on camera explanation of what it's like in the White House, which is the president is fueled by conspiracy theories, he spends time watching FOX News, looking at these far right wing websites, and that has more validity to him than the billions of dollars we spend on intelligence gathering from the government, because it reinforces his own view, which is -- and it goes back to this idea that he wasn't legitimately elected, that the Russians helped. He cannot live with that, he cannot sit with that, so he creates these or parrots these conspiracies that show there was someone else.
In fact, it was the Ukrainians helping Hillary Clinton get elected. It was 3 million illegals voting that provided her with the 3 million. It is a -- it's I think a mental defect that he can't come to terms with what the reality is. But as Tom Bossert pointed out yesterday, people work with him every day to try to bring him along, and it doesn't work.
SCIUTTO: They try sometimes. Other times they don't.
LOCKHART: Sure, some people.
SCIUTTO: Mick Mulvaney told people, including his Homeland Security secretary not to bring it up, because he doesn't want to. This gets to, Margaret, does it now, dereliction of duty here, because we're less than 14 months away from another election which U.S. intelligence believes Russia will interfere with if the president doesn't accept that they did so in 2016. As Republicans and Democrats accept and call a major threat, how can he credibly defend the country from an attack on the next election? What is the White House saying to defend that? Why aren't you hearing from more Republicans on the hill saying, listen, the president is wrong here?
TALEV: Yes, I think the Republican question is a good one, but a little bit different. Behind the scenes, I think there are officials at DHS, at the Department of Justice, throughout the government who have been trying to focus on this, they are public servants who have policy mandates, and protecting election security is one of those. But there's just no reason to believe that you're going to hear a change of heart at the top now from the president when he's been moving in the other direction messaging wise to try to protect his own legacy and talk about the legitimacy of his own election.
One interesting development, Jay Sekulow, one of the president's lawyers telling "Axios," there are no plans at this point for a war room in terms of the White House. We'll see whether that changes. At this point the White House is not mobilized yet for what is -- I don't see how you turn the trains around at this point -- appears very likely to be an impeachment battle, at least in terms of a House vote. And there are these efforts by people close to the president or in the president's orbit to turn the attention to Giuliani, turn the attention to Mick Mulvaney. Is Giuliani failing him messaging-wise? Is Mick Mulvaney failing him strategy-wise? But it is the president both who has made these statements that have gotten him in such hot water and who is directing the strategy now about how to respond.
SCIUTTO: He's his own war room, basically.
CAMEROTA: The president just tweeted, I'm told that it is relevant, so I have not read it yet, but I will read it cold now, Joe. This will be interesting. "The fake whistleblower complaint is not holding up. It is mostly about the call to the Ukrainian president, which in the name of transparency I immediately released to Congress and the public." Not sure the calendar shows the immediacy of that. "The whistleblower knew almost nothing, its secondhand description of the call is a fraud!"
SCIUTTO: Let's immediately fact check that, because it's full, as often the president's statements, with inaccuracies and falsehoods. His White House and Justice Department held back this complaint. They didn't even report it to the inspector general for a week, it went to the Department of Justice and White House. It was a week before it even went to the inspector general or to Congress. So it is false. He did release it, but only under great pressure.
CAMEROTA: Great point. Also furthermore, it is almost -- it matches what the transcript, or the rough transcript, I should say, of the call is, almost word for word. The idea that the whistleblower complaint is a fraud, it matches what we read with our own eyes in the whistleblower complaint. Also, it brought up the idea that there was this other secret code word protected computer where they were transferring politically --
SCIUTTO: Which turned out to be a fact as well.
CAMEROTA: Which they have not denied.
LOCKHART: This is the difficulty they have in trying to spin this story, which is the whistleblower complaint in and of itself, they could have maybe said this is hearsay, all that stuff. But they released the transcript of the call, which backs up everything that's in the whistleblower complaint.
And that's not all. The president in the, remember, in the first two or three days, last week you were running a good day by day, as he confessed to all of it, and said there's nothing wrong with it. So all of a sudden when they realize that there is something wrong with it, they're saying it's fake. But they, the White House, the president --
CAMEROTA: Rudy Giuliani.
LOCKHART: -- Rudy Giuliani, confirmed all the facts here.
SCIUTTO: There's a word for it. It's gaslighting. It's deliberately muddying the facts with falsehoods, and we see it repeatedly.
CAMEROTA: Margaret, we have to go. Thank you.
CAMEROTA: Thank you. Thank you very much. Joe, thank you.
Up next, Senator Cory Booker reaching an important milestone. He's going to tell us why or if he is staying in the race. Today was his deadline, his self-imposed deadline. Did he make all of that money? We will find out.
CAMEROTA: The Democratic presidential candidates are facing growing pressure to qualify for debates and stay in the race. Cory Booker announced he has reached the required donor threshold to qualify for the November debate despite his campaign running behind. I think that we'll find out in a second on a self-imposed donation fundraising goal of $1.7 million.
Joining us now is Democratic senator and presidential candidate, Cory Booker. Great to have you here.
SEN. CORY BOOKER (D-NJ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's great to be here. Thank you for having me. CAMEROTA: Okay, so last week, you came up with this ambitious goal
for yourself of $1.7 million, or your campaign said you wouldn't be able to press on with your campaign.
Booker Yes, it was a moment of radical transparency where we just wanted to show people under the hood.
CAMEROTA: Absolutely. And you did that and today is the deadline? Have you made the $1.7 million.
BOOKER: We blew past it last night. It has been the best sort of period of fundraising we've had for the campaign. We owe a lot of gratitude to the tens of thousands of people who came forward to empower us to be in a position to continue in this campaign and grow in this campaign.
And we still have until midnight tonight, so we're going to hopefully run through the tape and we hope to actually end this quarter if we can at $2 million raised during this period.
CAMEROTA: Well, that worked. So the gambit of the radical transparency worked.
BOOKER: Yes, it really did. It's one of those times I think that people -- a lot of folks sent us notes. You know, it's still early in this campaign. A lot of people were sitting back, but folks really valued my voice in this race, the message that we have and more about healing and unity in our party and in our country.
And so I'm really excited people said -- went to corybooker.com and helped out.
CAMEROTA: Okay, so let's talk about now, qualifying for the third or whatever we are at.
BOOKER: The November debates.
CAMEROTA: The November debates. That's better. The November debates, you've qualified in terms of donors, the amount not of donors.
CAMEROTA: But not in terms of polling. And I -- I mean, I think we have latest polling. This is the Quinnipiac poll from a couple of weeks ago, and you're well, at the bottom of that pack, at least. So where are you with that?
BOOKER: Well, these polls are all over the place. It's a strange measure, especially when you see the margin of error off to being five or six points in and of itself.
So we've hit the three percent. Heck, we've been up to six point points on many poles. We're not really concerned. We've qualified for two already. Two more, and we're in the debates. We should have no problem making that debate stage.
But again, the urgency to raise money is really what we keep looking at and that's something that seems right now to be on the right trajectory. I hope it continues.
CAMEROTA: Let's talk about the Impeachment Inquiry that has been launched in the House against President Trump.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said this weekend that it's worth losing the House in 2020 if that's the political cost of the Impeachment Inquiry, that she basically said that that would be -- it doesn't matter -- where her words, do you think that it's worth any political cost launching this?
BOOKER: I think politics be damned. We all swore an oath. Nancy did, I did. Speaker Pelosi, excuse me, and I did to uphold and defend the Constitution.
This is going to be something that people look back in history and say, what did you do when a President of the United States potentially betrayed his nation, really national security in order to pursue his own personal gain, his own personal benefit? This is serious stuff. And this is time to do the right thing, not the political thing.
CAMEROTA: The problem with that if there is a problem is that voters just may not be where you are. According to "The New York Times" Jonathan Martin has some reporting, New Jersey representative Andy Kim, a Democrat who else did a Republican incumbent in 2018, by focusing on issues like health insurance coverage for preexisting conditions, held a Town Hall style meeting in his district on Saturday, we're only one voter asked about impeachment, and even then it was part of a multipronged question.
What if for voters, this just isn't top of mind? It's not their most burning issue?
BOOKER: Well, first of all, Andy Kim is -- I joke, he is sort of like the James Brown of New Jersey politicians. He's one of the hardest working people out there. He is going to earn his reelection because people see him in his community, how hard he works.
And again, I'm not worried about the politics of this moment. This deserves --
CAMEROTA: But this is now -- I mean, I'm not asking about the politics, I am asking about what if voters think that you're focus and your priorities aren't right?
BOOKER: Well, look, God, you're asking a guy who campaigned for the United States Senate talking about criminal justice reform when it didn't pull in the top 10 issues in my state. But I focused on it because we can have a nation where you get treated better, as Bryan Stevenson says, if you're rich and guilty than if you're poor and innocent. It was the right thing to do because I swore an oath.
Every time I pledge allegiance to the flag, it will be a nation of liberty and justice for all. When you're elected to these positions, it's a sacred trust. You do what's right, even not what's popular. You do what is urgent at the time, not necessarily what's going to take you up in the polls. And this is really one of those moments.
Now that I've read the Intelligence reports about what the Russians are trying to do to our elections. I've read the whistleblower report, I've read so many things that lead me to believe one of the great urgencies of our moment, it may not be top of mind of people is Russians efforts to undermine Western democracy and ours.
Here, they're attacking the Ukraine. I've been there. I've met with soldiers who've lost a lot. They're under attack. They've lost lives over there. And we were withholding aid for the President's petty political ambitions? That's unacceptable. That's a violation of our Constitution.
CAMEROTA: I know you've said in the past that you think that President Trump's conversation with the President of Ukraine and his behavior towards them is "thuggish." I'm quoting you. Do you think that it is fair to ask former Vice President Joe Biden, about his son's dealings with Ukraine, Hunter Biden, who sat on the Board of that gas company? Do you think that this is a legitimate question for former VP Biden?
BOOKER: I think every major news outlet has looked at this, probed at this not just recently. For years, this has been looked at and nothing is there. The fact that this President is trying to distract people by attacking someone who is clearly a statesman in our nation, who has served and sacrificed for his country for decades, has an honorable reputation. It's just unacceptable to me. It's offensive to me.
And the fact of the matter is, it's just not going to work. Because it's laughable that Joe Biden has done anything wrong.
CAMEROTA: Well, not that Joe Biden had done anything wrong. But you know, it has come up that is there a whiff of nepotism that Hunter Biden got this privileged position that was high paying on this Board. Is that a legitimate question? Or should VP Biden's campaign not have to talk about that?
BOOKER: Look, his campaign will take care of themselves. I'm not giving them advice. But do I think there should be heightened ethics rules in the United States government? Heck, yes.
You see the President right now with his children going out there and profiting off of the position of their father. This is -- we have a lot of ethics changes to do.
When I became Mayor of the city, Newark, we ended a raft of new ethics laws. Some of them I couldn't get past the council, but I imposed them on myself. If I'm President of the United States, we need a new day in Washington, where ethics, where our ideals, where their public trust is reinforced.
[08:25:13] BOOKER: So yes, we need changes, and this President is a great
example of someone who is violating emoluments clause, could be betraying his nation at this point. Literally, this is a demonstration of why we need to tighten ethics laws in this country.
CAMEROTA: Senator Cory Booker, thanks so much. We appreciate you being in studio.
BOOKER: No, thank you and thanks to all the people who went to corybooker.com and helped me out in the last 10 days.
CAMEROTA: Great to talk to you.
BOOKER: All right.
SCIUTTO: Coming up right on topic, how his former Vice President Joe Biden battling those daily attacks and false accusations as well by President Trump and his allies? We're going to ask one of Biden's campaign managers. That's next.