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Flurry Of Impeachment Probe Developments In Last 24 Hours; Pompeo Visits Italy, Meets Italian President; House Democrats Request Info From Mueller Probe's Secret Grand Jury. Aired 10-10:30a ET
Aired October 1, 2019 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN NEWSROOM: A very good and busy Tuesday morning to you. I'm Jim Sciutto.
POPPY HARLOW, CNN NEWSROOM: And I'm Poppy Harlow.
Today, as the impeachment inquiry grows, it is now reaching the president's inner circle. In the last 24 hours alone, we've seen headlines raising questions about the actions of some of the president's strongest defenders, namely, this morning, the secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, also the attorney general, Bill Barr, and the president's personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani.
First, a latest phone call where a source tells us President Trump asked the Australian prime minister to help Attorney General Barr investigate the origins of the Russia probe.
SCIUTTO: Officials say that the call was actually Barr's idea and completely different from the phone call with Ukraine. As for that call, where the president pressured, you'll remember, Ukraine's leader to investigate a political opponent, a source now says that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was on that call, even though he never mentioned that fact when asked about it when he had the opportunity several times.
Then there's Rudy Giuliani, who has now been subpoenaed for all documents related to his admitted role in that plan. And Senator Lindsey Graham, the president's top ally, vociferously defending the move despite pushback from the Intelligence Community, In fact, some pretty definitive fact-checking.
HARLOW: So there you have it. This is all happening as the president and his allies fall back on falsehoods and are fact-checked in real- time by one of the president's own nominees inside of the administration.
Our team is covering this from all angles this morning. Let's begin with our Senior Justice Correspondent Evan Perez. Where would you like to start, Evan?
EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, look, I think with the Justice Department is right now trying to essentially make a difference between what happened on this recent phone call between President Trump and the Australian prime minister, where President Trump asked for help with this Justice Department inquiry , they say this is a big difference between that and happened in the July 25th phone call between the president, President Trump and the Ukrainian president.
And the difference is this. One is taking a look at what happened in 2016 and 2017 with regard to the investigation that became the Mueller prove, and the other, the Ukrainian phone call, has to do with the allegation that the president was trying to get essentially dirt from the Ukrainians, get help from the Ukrainians to dirty up his prospective potential opponent for 2020 elections. Now, that's the big difference.
With regard to the ongoing investigation, that backward-looking one, Attorney General Bill Barr says that he has been meeting with people in other countries to try to further that investigation, which is being led by John Durham, a seasoned prosecutor. And they say one of the things that they're trying to do is trying to figure out whether or not other countries provided intelligence again that became part of this, what they say, are false allegations against President Trump.
Again, that's an investigation that's just getting started and they view it as a completely different thing from what was alleged in the Ukrainian phone call.
SCIUTTO: Let's talk for a moment, Evan, about that investigation led by John Durham, because I think a lot of folks at home don't know much about it, and if you listen to the (INAUDIBLE) over the president that they are portraying this as potentially explosive. And, again, it's early, but based on what you know, how far long is this, how serious is it and is there possibility of criminal referrals from it?
PEREZ: Well, yes, it's very early. And I don't know that we can really predict whether or not there will be any criminal charges found at all in this. Look, the people, Jim, that you and I have talked to for the last couple years in the Russia investigation say it was a legitimate investigation, that it was -- there was a legitimate predicate for doing it, and that they handled things by the book.
Now, Durham is going to be looking at all of the intelligence that was gathered, including by U.S. and foreign intelligence agencies. And if someone did something wrong, then perhaps we'll see something. But I think everybody who is sort of spreading the idea that there's some big thing to be found there doesn't know what they're talking about, because it's still so early in the process.
And so I think Bill Barr has some suspicions. The attorney general has some suspicions. He believes that this was not a thoroughly legitimately done investigation. We'll see what John Durham finds as a result of this in probably another year or so.
HARLOW: It will keep you busy, Evan. Thank you very much.
Also this morning, the Intelligence Community's inspector general is forcefully pushing back at allegations by the president and his closest allies that the whistleblower lacked, quote, firsthand knowledge and that the complaint is all hearsay. That's just not true.
Manu Raju is on Capitol Hill. What steps has the I.G. taken to debunk those talking points from the president, I mean, in a remarkable fashion, twice yesterday?
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, in a very unusual letter to be put out by a Trump appointee, Michael Atkinson, who issued the statement in his office, said that essentially what the president and his allies have been saying that this whistleblower had secondhand knowledge, was relying only on hearsay just in not true.
Also pushing back on the notion that the whistleblower -- the forms of detailing how a whistleblower complaint can be made were changed soon before this complaint was made in August.
Now, what this statement put out yesterday essentially says is that the whistleblower came forward, checked multiple boxes and said not only did they have secondhand knowledge, but also personal and direct knowledge. And one passage from it said, in short, the Intelligence Community inspector general did not find that the complainant could provide nothing more than secondhand or unsubstantiated assertions.
The inspector general of the Intelligence Community determined that other information obtained during the inspector general's preliminary review supported the complainant's allegations, essentially saying that the inspector general did a review, made sure that these allegations were credible in the view of Michael Atkinson. And that's why he issued what he said was a credible and urgent concern based on what the whistleblower is saying.
So pushing back on the notion, this is simply hearsay, this person did not have any direct knowledge, saying, yes, this person did have direct knowledge and did have access, as they say, access to sources and information directly, people who had direct knowledge of what happened here. So, clearly, Michael Atkinson sees a real concern with this complaint.
HARLOW: And on top of this, Manu, the president's personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, now facing a subpoena by House Democrats, do you have any more clarity this morning on whether he will actually comply?
RAJU: Well, he is not saying one way or the other. He did tweet last night, saying that he would listen to -- he would take it under consideration. But then also in that same tweet, Rudy Giuliani said that there were all sorts of questions and privileges that could be breached, so a sign he may be willing to fight this in the days ahead.
He has two weeks to turn over records related to the Ukraine matter, everything, dating back from the beginning of this administration up until now and everything that was referenced in that whistleblower complaint about Giuliani's efforts to urge Ukrainians to investigated the Bidens. Ultimately. the question, will he comply, will Democrats hold him in contempt or will they use any non-compliance as evidence of obstruction of Congress that they believe could be an impeachable offense. Jim?
SCIUTTO: Manu Raju, that's an interesting prospect, no question.
just moments ago, this is a new video, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Italy, this as we learn that Pompeo was on that call with the Ukrainian president when the president gave that pressure. Let's get the latest from the White House now, Sarah Westwood joining me.
Sarah, of course, Secretary Pompeo, he's under scrutiny this morning over his participation, particularly his -- many opportunities to acknowledge knowledge of this phone call with the Ukrainian president, which he did not. Where does his positioned stand and is he likely -- is the expectation that he'll be subpoenaed for this investigation?
SARAH WESTWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: That's right, Jim. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's role coming increasingly under scrutiny as a source tells CNN that Pompeo was, in fact, listning on that July 25th phone call between President Trump and Ukrainian President Zelensky. And he was asked about this last week when he was in New York for the U.N. General Assembly. He said to the best of his knowledge, any State Department officials who had been involved in this had acted appropriately.
Then he was asked again a little more than a week ago on ABC about the complaint and he deflected by saying that he was just now learning about the reports of what was said. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARTHA RADDATZ, ABC NEWS HOST: What do you know about those conversations?
MIKE POMPEO, SECRETARY OF STATE: So you just gave me a report about the I.C. whistleblower complaint, none of which I have seen.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WESTWOOD: Now, so far, Pompeo has not commented on the role officially that the at a time State Department played in facilitating talks between the Ukrainians and the president's attorney, Rudy Giuliani. Of course, he is already facing a subpoena from three different Congressional committees. And the deadline for him to comply with that is Friday, Poppy and Jim.
HARLOW: Okay. That's going to be very interesting to watch, what he is willing to give over, if anything. Sarah, thank you very much.
Joining us now to talk about all of this, CNN Senior Political Analyst David Gergen, of course, former adviser to Presidents Nixon, Ford, Reagan and Clinton. Susan Page is also with us, Washington Bureau Chief for USA Today.
Oh, David, where do we begin? Why don't we begin with Mike Pompeo? You just heard him -- I mean, it sounds like he, at best, being disingenuous, at worst, lying to the American people about a call that he was on. Martha Raddatz has questioned when you know about that conversation could not have been more direct. Where does this go?
DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: I just -- we're all sort of (INAUDIBLE) on what we're watching.
Listen, I think if Mike Pompeo was on that call and he's just saying that he didn't know anything about what was happening on the call until much later, he's clearly lied. And the American people have to take that into account in trying to make judgments who are the good guys and who are bad guys in this drama. And I think that we now have yet another cabinet officer who is ensnared in this, probably wanted to keep his distance, but he's ensnared.
SCIUTTO: Yes. I mean, West Point, where he graduated from, has an honor code. I wonder what classmates would think of that answer.
Susan Page, let's make what is a fair distinction here, right? The Ukrainian call you have, the president pressuring a foreign country, it seemed, to dig up dirt, not to mention, pursue some conspiracy theories, but dig up dirt on a political opponent, what Barr is up to is something different because this is investigating the origins of the 2016 investigation. Whether that goes anywhere is an open question here. But is there something fundamentally wrong with that investigation, asking allies for help and participation?
SUSAN PAGE, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, USA TODAY: Well, here's what ties those stories together. Both of them are efforts to protect the president's political prospects through pressure on foreign leaders. Because the Barr investigation is an effort to discredit the Mueller investigation, it's to discredit the idea of Russia interference in the election in 2016. It's an effort to say there's some alternative explanation for how that inquiry got started.
So in that way, those two efforts are tied, but, clearly, the Ukrainian example is more explosive, because not only do we have the president explicitly pressuring a foreign leader to dig up dirt on a political rival, but there's also the suggestion that he was holding up appropriated aid okayed by Congress in an effort to make sure the Ukrainian leader followed through.
HARLOW: David, the question then becomes, putting all of these things together, what will the American people -- what will Congress do about it, right? And where is the will of the American people?
CNN has some very interesting new polling out on that front. More Americans now favor impeachment than did before. You're at 47 percent on that front. But there is an 8 percent increase among Republicans, 11 percent increase among independents. And if you look Republicans 50 years old and younger, 22 percent now favor impeaching the president, up from 9 percent in May. Is that -- I mean, what does tell you? How much does that matter? GERGEN: It matters a lot. For the first time, national polls are showing that a majority of Americans favor the impeachment proceedings, not the impeachment itself but the impeachment proceedings, it's one step short. But that shift in politics will entirely affect a lot of players who are like -- Democrats in Trump districts will feel more secure, they can hold the House more easily, and the Republicans, if they see this continue to shift, you may see more Republicans who are in tight races back home questioning the president, coming out against him.
And we saw that in Watergate much more decisively, but this isn't Watergate in terms of where the public is yet, but it's starting to crack.
But let me go back to the original issue about Barr and the question of talking to Ukrainians. There may be a legitimate foundation for what Barr is doing, and he'll have to come out and show us that so we understand what the theory and it's not based on some half-baked conspiracy theory. But I think increasingly, it looks like it's a distinction without a difference between what Barr did and the call to Ukrainians.
In both cases, as Susan Page, Pointed out so well, in both cases, the administration was using the powers of the presidency to go to a foreign country to pressure them to come up with dirt to help the president's political prospects. And there's one other connection, and that is, in both cases, the Ukrainian case and the Australian case, the phone call, the report on the phone calls essentially was placed in a black box so that almost nobody could see them. We talked about a cover-up last week where Ukraine -- it looks like much of same may have happened with Australia.
SCIUTTO: And that's an issue that even some Republicans have said they have an issue with or at least want to have investigated.
Susan, this is a basic question I keep coming back to. If the president and his attorney general are focused on looking back two and half years ago to the origins Russia interference, which, by the way, the Justice Department run by a Trump appointee indicted Russian military intelligence officials for that interference, but if they're doing that, who is focused in this administration today on defending the next election? Where is the emphasis on keeping 2020 safe?
PAGE: And, in fact, isn't the message of the Ukrainian exchange to encourage foreign interference in the next election? I think it's really quite extraordinary that the administration is choosing to look back at the Russia investigation.
Democrats -- some Democrats were disappointed that the Mueller testimony in his report didn't lead to just this point, where they're on the verge of impeaching the president, but they were ready to move on, and now this has exploded. When you think about the change in polling, this is in the space of a week that we have seen a significant surge in the number of Americans who support an impeachment inquiry and impeachment and removal from office. But where will we be a week from today?
SCIUTTO: Yes. And you know folks in vulnerable districts thinking about perhaps their political future might notice that shift.
HARLOW: Sure, yes.
SCIUTTO: David Gergen, Susan Page, thanks to both of you. Goodness, there's a lot to discuss and digest.
HARLOW: It's only Tuesday.
SCIUTTO: Still to come, protecting the whistleblower. The Intelligence Community's inspector general debunked directly many claims by the president and his allies against the whistleblower. We're going to discuss the implications behind what is a really rare move.
HARLOW: And back to the Bahamas, CNN returns one month after Hurricane Dorian to see how the Bahamas are coping, including one man who lost his wife in this storm.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What am I going to do now? I mean, yes, life goes on, but this is the life I lived, and I'll never get to do this again in my time. And you know, my wife is gone, my partner, my love.
HARLOW: All right. This morning, House Democrats say they need secret grand jury information from Robert Mueller's investigation for their impeachment inquiry into the president, and this is about Ukraine. There's an interesting potential connection here. The request focuses on some of the redacted details relating to former chair, Paul Manafort and his associations with Ukraine. They also apparently focused on President Trump and what he did or did not know about WikiLeaks' document drop.
SCIUTTO: Joining us now to discuss, CNN Legal Analyst and former federal prosecutor, Jennifer Rodgers. I wonder what this indicates to you about the scope of the impeachment inquiry, if they're asking -- because this is not just about the Ukraine call, clearly.
JENNIFER RODGERS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Right. Well, that's what's really interesting, it's how far beyond the Ukraine situation that we've been talking about for the last few days is this going to go. I thought they might actually go into some of the obstruction counts that the Mueller investigation came up with. But it looks here like they may be deviating to some of the WikiLeaks stuff that's going to be the subject of the Roger Stone, which is coming up very soon, and also the Paul Manafort/Ukraine connection.
So I don't know exactly where they're going but they're clearly going beyond the Ukraine scandal with President Zelensky that we've been focusing on. HARLOW: So it's not impossible to get grand jury information but it's hard. If you look back to Watergate, there is some precedent for it but it's not easy. I wonder if it's been made easier because of the official impeachment inquiry opened by the House Democrats. Does that make courts more likely to grant this?
RODGERS: It does. We had some objections from the Republicans that there was no official impeachment inquiry, and that's why some of these --
HARLOW: Because they haven't voted on it.
RODGERS: Couldn't go over, that's right. So you still may have some of those objections, but they're in a stronger position to get the material because of what they've done.
On the other hand, grand jury material is supposed to be secret and a judge can't just vitiate that on his or her own. So we still will have a fight here.
I ultimately think they will get it because of the impeachment inquiry, but they're going to have to battle that out.
SCIUTTO: Okay. You're a former federal prosecutor, you're familiar with the work of a typical attorney general. And so tell us what's unusual, for people at home who don't know the inner workings, regulations, et cetera, for a president to dispatch, in effect, his attorney general around the world to America's closest allies to ask for help, perhaps even intelligence help in an ongoing investigation.
RODGERS: Well, usually, how it works when you have an investigation and you want some foreign country's help with it is the low-level people, the line assistance dispatch a request, it goes through the State Department to the foreign country, a low-level person on the other end works on the request, gathers the information and sends it back. That takes a lot of time, which is why sometimes a higher-level person might get involved if it's an emergency, but the attorney general is never involved. And you know who else is never involved is the president making a phone call to say, let's help investigate our own intelligence community and law enforcement apparatus.
HARLOW: Inappropriate, it clearly sounds like you think it is. Illegal?
RODGERS: Not illegal, no. And in one way, it's contrasted to the situation with the Biden investigation request, because it is an actual investigation at DOJ. I think it's an inappropriate one. I think it shouldn't be going on. But it's open.
HARLOW: The Durham investigation?
RODGERS: People know about it. That's right. And so it is a real investigation. So I think it can be contrasted with the other stuff going on and people to confuse this, but it is still an abuse of power for the president and attorney general to be making the requests. SCIUTTO: Having participated in many investigations yourself, and, again, it's early and something of an unfair question you're going to answer, but cut can you tell, based on the moves, how serious this Durham probe is of the origins of the Russia interference probe?
RODGERS: Well, it looks like it's serious to the president and to the attorney general.
What they will uncover and what we will all learn? I'm not sure. I mean, the Mueller investigation was exhaustive. The indictment that was issued against the Russian officers, the GRU officers, is solid. It is ironclad.
So are they going to find anything that really suggests that the counterintelligence probe shouldn't have been opened when it was so successful and resulted in what we know is wrongdoing? I don't think so. Will they find some dirt to throw on people, I don't know, some Stzrok/Page like inappropriate conversation? I don't know. But it's certainly serious to the president and the A.G., which is why it's problematic.
SCIUTTO: Well, it's a good point, because sometimes where investigations start, say, Whitewater, is not where they end up, say, Monica Lewinsky. Jennifer Rodgers, thanks so much.
HARLOW: Thank you.
RODGERS: Thanks, guys.
SCIUTTO: How dangerous are President Trump's attacks on the whistleblower who sparked the impeachment inquiry? We're going to ask an expert on whistleblower protection, which, by the way, are designed to protect whistleblowers, keep them safe. That's coming up.