Return to Transcripts main page

AT THIS HOUR

Source: Pompeo Was on July 25 Call, Faces Subpoena; Giuliani Faces Subpoena as Democrats Seek Documentation on Ukraine; Trump Also Pressed Australian P.M. to Help A.G. Barr in Investigating Origins of Russia Probe; I.C. I.G. Pushes Bank on Trump Claiming Whistleblower Lacked First-Hand Knowledge; Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-MI) Discusses Trump Campaign Anti-Impeachment Ads, Impeachment. Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired October 1, 2019 - 11:00   ET

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


[11:00:00]

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: And thank all of you for being with us today.

I'm Poppy Harlow. We'll see you back here tomorrow.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Jim Sciutto.

"AT THIS HOUR" with Kate Bolduan starts now.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan. Thank you so much for joining me.

If you dared to turn away from your TV or phone the past 24 hours, you may have missed like 100,000 new developments on the impeachment inquiry into the president and the whistleblower report that started it all. I'm only slightly exaggerating.

Let's start here. The House Intelligence Committee is zeroing in on the president and the key figures around him.

First, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. A source telling CNN he was actually on the July 25th phone call where President Trump pushed the president of Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden. Pompeo initially indicated he knew nothing about the call when it first became public. He is now facing a subpoena.

Then there is Rudy Giuliani. The president's personal attorney is also facing a subpoena from the House Intel Committee. The committee wants to see text messages, phone records, other communication related to his work with Ukraine on behalf of the president. It is unclear if Rudy Giuliani will comply.

And then there's the Attorney General Bill Barr. A source tells CNN President Trump recently pressed the Australian prime minister to help the A.G. with the investigation into the origins of the Russia probe.

You have all of those men defending the president, but one Trump appointee is now. The inspector general, he appointed, is now openly pushing back on the president's claim that the whistleblower lacked firsthand knowledge of the allegations in the complaint and more.

As you can see there's a lot to get to. I didn't say half of it.

BOLDUAN: Joining me right now to work through it is CNN Crime and justice reporter, Shimon Prokupecz, CNN senior congressional correspondent, Manu Raju, and CNN's Sarah Westwood is at the White House.

Sarah, let's start with you, if we could, because Secretary of State Mike Pompeo just this morning is responding to that subpoena from the House. What's he saying?

SARAH WESTWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Kate. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo responding defiantly to that subpoena from the House Foreign Affairs Committee, suggesting that perhaps the State Department does not want to comply with the congressional committee under the terms laid out in the subpoena issued Friday.

I want to read you part of the tweets Pompeo posted moments ago from Italy where he is traveling for administration.

He wrote, "I'm concerned with aspects of the committee's request that can be understood only as an attempt to intimidate, bully and treat improperly the distinguished professionals at the Department of State, including several career foreign service officers."

And then he goes on to say, "Let me be clear, I will not tolerate such tactics and I will use all means at my disposal to prevent and expose any attempts to intimidate the dedicated professionals I am proud to lead and serve alongside at the State Department."

He also released a letter he had written to the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and he lays out a few of the concerns with that subpoena, among them the fact that the five current and former State Department officials whose depositions are being sought by House Democrats won't be allowed under the terms of the committee to bring a State Department lawyer or a White House lawyer with them to their testimony.

House Democrats have said that's because they want to get candid testimony from these witnesses.

Also, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo saying these witnesses won't have enough time to retain their own personal counsel under the deadline set up by House Democrats.

This is all coming as sources tell CNN that Pompeo was actually listening in on the now-infamous July 25 phone call between President Trump and Ukrainian President Zelensky. This, despite the fact that the two times Pompeo has already been asked about the whistleblower complaint, he feigned ignorance as if he didn't know what happened on that phone call. He was actually listening in.

Take a listen to what he told ABC News when he was asked about the phone call.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED ABC NEWS ANCHOR: What do you know about those conversations?

MIKE POMPEO, SECRETARY OF STATE: So you just gave me a report about a -- a I.C. whistleblower complaint, none of which I've seen.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WESTWOOD: Pompeo was facing a deadline of Friday to comply with those subpoenas, so just three days until House Democrats say they would consider the administration to have committed obstruction under the impeachment inquiry.

So far, Kate, Pompeo has not publicly commented on the State Department's role in facilitating talks between the president's personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, and the Ukrainians for the purposes of obtaining dirt on the Bidens. That, of course, is at the center of the impeachment inquiry at this moment.

BOLDUAN: Sarah, thank you so much. A lot happening from the White House.

But to what Sarah just ended on, let's get over to Manu Raju.

Manu, what are you learning about the subpoena for Rudy Giuliani that he's facing?

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's still unclear here on Capitol Hill whether or not Rudy Giuliani will actually comply with the request for documents by October 14th.

Democrats gave them two weeks to turn over a range of documents stemming from the beginning of this administration up until now related to the Giuliani efforts to urge the Ukrainian government to investigate the Bidens, something he admitted to doing publicly.

[11:05:09]

Giuliani did tweet signaling he may not comply with that. He raised what he calls a number of concerns. If you look at the way the administration has dealt with the Congress this year, they've fought virtually all requests.

The Pompeo request is the first indication that the Trump administration will not cede any ground despite the Democrats being in an impeachment inquiry, and Democrats are expecting Giuliani to fight this as well.

Last night, Giuliani was asked if he would be willing to testify if asked to come to Capitol Hill. He did not rule that out.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) RUDY GIULIANI, PERSONAL ATTORNEY TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: Oh, I don't know. I'm weighing the alternates. I'll go through it. I'll get all my evidence together. I'll get my charts. I don't know if they let me use videotapes, and tape recordings that I have, if they let me get some of the evidence that I gathered.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RAJU: It's not entirely clear what he was referring to, those video tapes and audio records. And just to be clear, he has not been asked yet to come and testify, that some of the Democrats have not made a decision on. He still was not asked in that interview whether he would comply with the request here from the subpoena to turn over documents.

A question here about whether they'll get any compliance or whether the Democrats will use the noncompliance as what they use as an impeachable offense, which is obstruction of Congress -- Kate?

BOLDUAN: If past is prolog, we know how often administration officials have been complying with subpoenas, so let us see.

Manu, thank you so much.

Let's get to Shimon because has another, door three or chapter three in the new developments.

What are you learning, Shimon, about the president then pressing another foreign leader, this time, the Australian prime minister, to assist Attorney General Bill Barr in the investigation into the origins of the Russia probe?

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME & JUSTICE REPORTER: Right, so here's what's going on. As we know, the president has ordered a review of that investigation, what led up to it, some of the tactics used by the FBI and Intelligence Community.

As we know, there was a lot of information that was obtained from foreign allies. People know the FBI was working with the Intelligence Community. One of those allies was the Australians.

Where all of this fits in is Georges Papadopoulos, the former foreign policy adviser to the campaign, met with Australian's top diplomat. And it really is what set off this entire Russia investigation, and the collusion investigation where Papadopoulos this diplomat he had information that Russians were offering information, dirt on Hillary Clinton.

And so that is what Bill Barr is looking into, how that meeting came about, what happened there, what was the nature of that conversation.

So the president asked the Australians to cooperate in that investigation. And the Justice Department says, well, this was at the request of Bill Barr. They see nothing wrong with this.

Bill Barr went to the president and said, can you please ask or partners, folks we're looking at, to help us in this investigation. That's what that's all about.

Of course, if you didn't have the Ukrainian situation, we probably would be looking at this very differently.

Also "New York Times," I think it's important to note, said this conversation with the Australians was also something that was hid from normally where they would -- put this in the system. They also hid this conversation.

BOLDUAN: It adds to the complexity.

(CROSSTALK)

PROKUPECZ: That's exactly it, yes.

BOLDUAN: All really matters.

Shimon, thank you so much.

Manu, Sarah, thank you guys as well.

All of these details are important and there's a lot. But one single fact it's important not to miss here, that the inspector general, who first vetted this whistleblower complaint, an inspector general appointed by President Trump, he just fact-checked, refuted, slapped down the central case that the president and his allies are making against the whistleblower, a case like -- well, here's some of it. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): I can't believe we're talking about impeaching the president based on an accusation based on hearsay.

Why did they change the rules about a whistleblower, you can use hearsay when you used to could not just weeks before the complaint?

REP. JIM JORDAN (R-OH): He had no firsthand knowledge. He heard something from someone who may have heard something from someone.

(CROSSTALK)

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: No, no, no. His sources were firsthand sources.

You know, as well as I do that you do not need to have firsthand knowledge to be a whistleblower. And even if --

(CROSSTALK)

JORDAN: You don't now, because they changed the form. You used to. They changed the form.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: That's what they've been saying. Then the inspector general, Michael Atkinson, put out a statement yesterday saying, well, one, the whistleblower did have direct firsthand knowledge of certain allegations in the complaint, so not hearsay.

Two, secondhand information is OK. That is allowed by law in whistleblower complaints.

Three, no existing rules were changed or bent to allow secondhand information to be part of any complaint. It was clarifying information that they put out.

[11:10:03]

Shimon Prokupecz is back with us. Also joining me is CNN legal analyst and former assistant U.S. attorney, Elie Honig, and CNN political correspondent, Abby Phillip.

Shimon, let me start back with you.

I want to start with this is, again, a Trump-appointed inspector general pushing back against the president and Lindsey Graham, who is the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.

PROKUPECZ: All these conspiracy theories that are out there saying somehow this form was changed --

(CROSSTALK)

PROKUPECZ: Yes.

Look, this is probably the entire single -- this entire statement was probably the most important information that came out yesterday. There are a lot of good reporting that came out. To me, this gives more credibility to the whistleblower, gives more credibility to the investigation that the inspector general here conducted, the people they interviewed. They clearly this whistleblower. They clearly believe there's a problem.

Now, you just don't see this. You don't see an inspector general normally put out this kind of statement, essentially to refute everything that's been out there.

The reason they're doing it is because they know it's a concern. There's concern that other whistleblowers will not come forward. They need to do as much as they can to protect the system to allow the whistleblowers to come forward.

BOLDUAN: Elie, to Lindsey Graham's argument that this complaint is based on hearsay, thus, he won't pay any attention to it. He's a former JAG attorney. He knows the law. As a matter of law, does any of the complaint fit the definition of hearsay?

ELIE HONIG, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: There are parts of the complaint that technically are hearsay, but what they are doing is a distraction tactic. They're attacking the message, because the message itself is so damaging.

What the whistleblower is saying about the phone call is technically hearsay, but who cares? We have the phone call. We have the president's word in the call with President Zelensky.

BOLDUAN: Right.

HONIG: So sure, the whistleblower can provide a guide, point to different things, different pieces of evidence. And he's corroborating. He describes that call dead on. And he knows about the storage of the call in the other server, dead on. This whistleblower is corroborated, on point.

But, ultimately, what matters is the evidence itself. What for this. This is going to be an aggressive, offensive tactic by the president and his defenders. Go after the whistleblower. Hopefully, people won't pay attention to the actual evidence.

BOLDUAN: Abby, if the inspector general literally refuted these attacks, where are the Republicans to go then?

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Kate, you would almost think the lawmakers would have access to people on their staff, researchers who could help them look into the conspiracy theories before they made them on television.

Now that the I.G. has said they have no basis in fact, I think you're hearing and seeing a lot of Republicans shifting arguments by basically saying what the president did or said was not against the law, not against sort of the letter of the law. They are challenging Adam Schiff and Nancy Pelosi to name the part of the U.S. code that corresponds to what the president did.

But, you know, honestly, that is really a sign of how difficult this has become for them. They are not even necessarily trying to defend the president's comments. Many of the president's allies are saying they don't think that it is strictly illegal. They are not necessarily arguing that it was proper.

And Lindsey Graham, of all people, should know that may not fly. He, many years ago during the Clinton impeachment, argued himself that impeachable conduct does not have to be illegal.

This is a really tough spot they're in. It has become even more challenging. Because as Elie pointed out, the whistleblower complaint is corroborated by actual evidence that the White House has released themselves. This will only get harder to defend as we go along for them to defend what actually happened and transpired here.

BOLDUAN: Let me read a couple of lines from the statement. This is an unusual statement to come out from the inspector general. I find it fascinating because it speaks this isn't just a complaint that he saw and handed on.

Here are the two parts I think are important. "In short, the I.C. I.G., the inspector general, did not find the complainant could provide nothing more than a secondhand or unsubstantiated assertions, which would have made it much harder and significantly less likely, for the inspector general to determine in a 14-day calendar review period that the complaint appeared credible as required by statute."

"The I.G. reviewed the information provided as well as other information gathered and determined that the complaint was both urgent and that it appeared credible."

Guys, what does this tell you about what the I.G. did or the fact that there had to have been some amount of investigation that happened beforehand?

PROKUPECZ: It sounds -- Michael Atkinson, the inspector general here, a former DOJ official, a long time DOJ official, long time lawyer. It sounds, when you read this, they were very thorough in their investigation --

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: He had to have been known the seriousness --

(CROSSTALK)

PROKUPECZ: Exactly. Keep in mind, the Department of Justice did not do any kind of investigation. There was a review. The review was based solely on the so-called transcript of the conversation. Outside of that, the Department of Justice, from everything we know, did nothing else to try to investigate this.

[11:15:13]

HONIG: What the I.G. is saying is I was able to corroborate this whistleblower to confirm he was credible and it was pretty easy. I think that's what he's saying between the lines. He said it only took me two weeks to figure out this guy was on point.

Shimon makes an important point. Let's not forget, the Department of Justice, Bill Barr's Department of Justice didn't even open an investigation. They killed it before it even got off the ground.

All you need is a kernel of potential criminality in order to open an investigation. The fact they're not even willing to take a look into this says something about the partiality of Bill Barr's Department of Justice.

BOLDUAN: I think, in the end, what you guys, including you, Abby, have all laid out, it that when it comes to the, "This is hearsay, don't believe it, they changed the rules, this and that," don't believe it, don't believe it.

Listen to the inspector general himself, someone Donald Trump appointed. This is what he said in his review of what he found. He lays the groundwork for what is to be an investigation, and don't listen it to it when they attack the messenger.

Shimon, Elie, Abby, thank you so much. Coming up for us, the president's reelection team is already trying to

capitalize on this impeachment fight, spending big money on thousands of anti-impeachment ads online. What is the impact of that?

Plus, a new poll is showing support for impeachment is growing among two critical groups of Americans right now. We're going to dig into the numbers.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:21:30]

BOLDUAN: If there's any question right now that the impeachment inquiry is nagging at the president this moment, take a moment to absorb this. The president himself tweeted or retweeted more than 100 times about impeachment over the weekend.

His campaign seems to be taking note of that, buying ads on the president's Facebook page in the last week, adding up to at least hundreds of thousands of dollars, all on ads, all mentioning the word "impeachment."

Those ads have been viewed between 16 and 18 million times according to new research by NYU. But what impact are they having? That is much more difficult to measure, of course.

And what do these tactics mean for the impeachment inquiry already underway in the House?

Joining me now is Democrat Congresswoman Debbie Dingell, of Michigan.

Congresswoman, thank you for being here.

REP. DEBBIE DINGELL (D-MI): Thank you, Kate. Good to see you this morning.

BOLDUAN: Good to see you, too.

When you see how much the president is focused on this and his campaign is already trying to capitalize on impeachment, what do you think? Do you have regrets that Speaker Pelosi took this step?

DINGELL: You know, I was one of the most recent people to come out, under enormous amount of pressure, I might add. I was focus of ads by both Tom Steyer and moveon.org. But I was worried how divided it country is. And, frankly, we're continuing to see how divided this country, though you could be divided on the rule of law.

Everybody says Speaker Pelosi. But, for me, those clarifying moments were when the inspector general said a whistleblower filed a case. He found them to be true and credible, and of an urgent to our national security.

That's my job, to protect this country, and to protect the Constitution.

I think there's a lot of confusion, a lot of chaos out there. I am actually surprised back home. I knew what Ann Arbor would be very supportive, but my downriver voters voted for President Trump. They're asking questions. They're puzzled. They're focused. They're not sure.

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: That's very interesting. You and I have had this conversation for a very long time. You have always said, whenever we talk about impeachment, you have said, Kate, that's not what folks at home are asking me about, in months past.

I have been wondering if that has changed since this whistleblower complaint has come out. You said that the downriver folks, the more conservative folks, who voted no Trump, you say they're now asking questions.

DINGELL: I have to say this, I deliberately spent most of my weekend in those communities, because I wondered what are people were thinking. I'm not going to say I didn't get yelled at by a couple of people, but I also think they see chaos in Washington. They're trying to figure it out, what does it mean.

But that doesn't mean people from Ann Arbor to the downrivers are not concerned about the cost of prescription drugs. I was at an opioid summit this morning, walking the picket lines with UAW workers worried about trade deals. They're also are worried about what's happening in Washington and how we'll make sure we're doing what we need to do for them.

BOLDUAN: But you said you have noticed a change?

DINGELL: They look at Washington and say, what's happening? You can't look at the number of tweets that the president is doing.

We are trying to be very thoughtful. To me, this is an investigation. We're getting the facts. We're following the facts. We need to know what the truth is. But we need to protect our national security. We need to protect our country.

[11:25:07]

I think people are asking questions. Not everybody understands it, but they're concerned when they hear that our national security is in danger.

BOLDUAN: It's interesting that you -- when you put it that way.

The secretary of state, he's facing a subpoena from the House. He just made clear this morning that he's going to be fighting it. What he said -- what Mike Pompeo said in a tweet is that he believes these subpoenas, that it's an attempt to bully and intimidate the people at the State Department.

What do you say to that?

DINGELL: I say to him, we need the facts. They've been to be -- Congress has -- this has been spelled out in our Constitution. We have three branches of government. We have responsibility to make sure that we have oversight on all three, so no one branch becomes more powerful than the other. Congress has an oversight responsibility.

There are clearly things -- I mean, there are 300 senior national security officials who have said they're seeing a pattern of corruption and danger to our national security. That's our fundamental job, to protect this country.

He's -- secretary of state's got to be very careful.

Chairman Schiff is conducting his interviews in a classified setting, which I think is very important. I think we have to protect the whistleblower. He's getting death threats as a result of all of this.

You know, whistleblowers are very important in this country, to protecting our national security. This is all complicated. People don't understand it all, but they're trying to figure it out.

BOLDUAN: Could I play for you what Mitch McConnell said just yesterday about impeachment on CNBC? I want your take on it. Listen to this.

DINGELL: Sure.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): It's the Senate rule related to impeachment that would take 67 votes to change, so I would have no choice but to take it up.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: When you heard that, did that surprise you at all that that would be McConnell's position on this?

DINGELL: I think all of us right now are bound by the law, protecting the Constitution.

Look, you know the last few days I've read Aristotle, the Federalist Papers. You know, democracy, when you go back and read Aristotle, you get a lot of thought.

I'm not surprised. It's a difficult situation everybody finds themselves in. But we also have a fundamental responsibility to protect this country, our national security and our constitution. That's all of our jobs. That's what we do as Americans.

No Republicans and Democrats. This should not be partisan. It's more partisan than it should be. We need to get the facts. And the American people need to understand what's being found.

BOLDUAN: That's a long road ahead.

Congresswoman, thank for you coming on. I really appreciate it. It's good to see you.

DINGELL: Thank you. Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Thank you.

Coming up for us, there's a new poll showing the Republican support for impeachment is growing in light of this whistleblower report. But will it move any Republicans on Capitol Hill? Where things stand, that's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)