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Source: Mike Pompeo Was On Trump Call With Ukraine President; Mike Pompeo Pushes Back On Calls For State Officials To Be Deposed; Mike Pompeo Accuses House Democrats Of Intimidation, Bullying; CNN Poll: Nearly Half Of Americans Support Impeaching Trump; Ukraine President Zelensky Speaks Amid Uproar Over Trump Phone Call. Aired 12- 12:30p ET

Aired October 1, 2019 - 12:00   ET




KATE BOLDUAN, CNN HOST: What's the time - what do you think the timeline - I mean any idea on what the timeline is on the regulation?

GUPTA: Well, you know the President talking about this obviously several people are now focused on this. I would say within the next weeks to months. Kate.

BOLDUAN: I mean, couldn't happen fast enough when you look at what they're dealing with. Great to see you Sanjay, amazing work. Thank you.

GUPTA: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: And thank you all so much for joining me for another rocking day. "INSIDE POLITICS" with John King starts right now.

JOHN KING, CNN HOST: Thank you, Kate. And welcome to INSIDE POLITICS. I'm John King. Thank you for sharing this important day with us. We begin the hour with the Trump Administration, pushing back forcefully and defiantly against the House impeachment inquiry.

The Secretary of State Mike Pompeo a short time ago tweeting a letter he sent to the Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Secretary of State saying, it's "not feasible to depose State Department officials". Here's a quote from that letter. I'm concerned with aspects of your request that can be understood only as an attempt to intimidate, bully and treat improperly the distinguish professionals of departments of state, including several career foreign officers.

Secretary Pompeo goes on to say, "Let me be clear. I will not tolerate such tactics and I will use all means at my disposal to attempt to prevent and expose any attempts to intimidate the dedicated professionals whom I am proud to lead and serve alongside at the Department of State. This pushback comes just as Democrats prepare to question a handful of State Department workers. And as the Democrats made clear, they want to know more, much more, about Pompeo himself. We now know, for example, the Secretary was on that July 25th phone call between President Trump and the Ukrainian President, making Pompeo now a central player as Democrats allege the President used government resources as part of an effort to get Ukraine help to discredit Joe Biden.

We should note the Secretary currently in Rome meeting with top Italian officials. Here to share the reporting on this breaking news, CNN's Kylie Atwood and CNN's Manu Raju on Capitol Hill. Kylie, to you first, this is coming from the Secretary of State but make no mistake the President and the entire administration telling Congress, no, go away.

KYLIE ATWOOD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY REPORTER: Yes, this is Secretary of State who is one of the closest members of Trump's cabinet to the President. It is very noteworthy that he's come out with this letter and he posed the letter on Twitter at the same time that the letter went to the Committees on the Hill. That is something the State Department has often complained the Hill has done to them.

But nevertheless, he's going forth and making this statement saying, essentially, it is not feasible for the State Department employees who have been disposed by these Committees to go forth and be disposed in the amount of time that the Committees have given them. That's over the next two weeks that these were scheduled.

And there is a number of legal and procedural reasons that he lays out in this letter to the Hill. He says, first of all, the legal authority here is questionable, because these officials who are being deposed, they weren't subpoenaed, so it would be voluntary for them to showing up. So he's questioning that. Secretary Pompeo is also saying that they had been given inadequate amount of time to prepare here.

If they were to go forward and talk, he is saying that they aren't given enough time to actually go over what they're going to be discussing. And the third thing he says is that they have been prevented, these State Department officials, from going into these depositions with Counsel. And he also says they've been asked for documents that are personal documents, and those are the same documents that have been subpoenaed to the State Department.

So there is a number of questions and frustration that he lays out here, not the least of which is the fact that he says State Department employees are being bullied by this action taken by the Hill.

KING: Now to use of that language tells you this is the first step in what appears just a quick, flat out no, defiant position from the administration on cooperating what the Democrats say is a legitimate impeachment inquiry. Kylie Atwood, I appreciate the reporting. Come back and we can get more details on how this brought about?

Manu to you on Capitol Hill, you've been reporting for days. The Democrats say they're not going to stand for it this time. If there is what they view is obstruction by the administration, they're not going to the court, they're not going to leave it to the lawyers. Do they take a medium step here and actually issue subpoenas and see how the Secretary responds then?

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We're waiting for an official response from the Committees. They have yet to respond to this request. You're absolutely right, John, Democrats are signaling that they're not going to put up with the pro attractive fight that could end up in court that could take some time the play out.

They're meeting some additional steps by suggesting they may hold Pompeo in contempt, that something they've threatened to do, and that move forward and doing through other officials. But at the moment the concern among Democrats is once again they will get drawn out into a fight that we've seen all year that the House Judiciary Committee in particular dealt with, with this administration after issuing subpoenas and them saying, no, we're not going to comply with these subpoenas, then ultimately having to send the issue to court.

We've seen what happened with those lawsuits including fro the White House Counsel, Former White House Counsel Don McGahn. They're still sitting in court. That's a concern from Democrats who want to move rapidly on this impeachment probe. What they're arguing privately is that if there is what they view as obstruction to the subpoenas, they're going to use that as evidence of obstruction of Congress which is one of this.


RAJU: What we sited also in the Nixon articles of impeachment they're planning to say we're going to do essentially the same thing here. So we'll see what the Democrats' next step is, but at the moment, John, they say they're not going to put up with it as they try to wrap up this impeachment inquiry in just a matter of weeks, John.

KING: All right. The question is you won't put up with it, but how do you get building blocks if you can't interview the people who have the information to it? That is the - at the moment. Manu Raju, I appreciate the reporting. If there is official response please come back to us in the hour?

With me to share the reporting and their insights here in studio, CNN's Nia-Malika Henderson, Jonathan Martin with "The New York Times," Politico's Heather Caygle and Margaret Talev with Axios also joining us CNN's Legal Analyst, Shan Wu.

Shan, let me start with you, the Speaker call this an impeachment inquiry. The House Democrats say they have this standing. They don't want to drag this out in court. Is there a quick legal path where you think they have the standing to say you cannot say, no, you must come answer questions?

SHAN WU, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: They can certainly say that John, I think the difficulty is would the idea of what legal path? Legal paths usually end up in court very hard to think of an alternative that guarantees no court. Although I do think a point Manu just raised, which is they could get the people on record as refusing and then make that, in and of itself, evidence of obstruction which would be the basis for another article of impeachment. KING: It would be an article of impeachment, but as we bring it into the room, I just wanted to show, we could show you, it's a handful of people they want to interview. Of course, they want to get Secretary Pompeo in the end, the Democrats do. If they don't get to interview him, they at least want documents from Secretary Pompeo because he was on that July 25th call.

They want to know what he said after the call to the President. What he did whether he was the wander someone else who decided to put it in the top secret server in keep it out of the normal chain of recordkeeping. But these other officials look at those four other officials, now most around the country don't know their names.

It's the Former Ambassador to Ukraine. It's the President's Former Special Envoy to Ukraine who resigned on Friday Kurt Volker. There is two other officials, one at the State Department one at European Diplomat.

What the Democrats want from them is Rudy Giuliani in their view and he has admitted a lot of this with seeking meetings with Ukraine to get dirt on Joe Biden, using resources of the State Department which the Democrats want to make a cases and abuse of power.

Without from those people who interacted with Giuliani, who helped him set up the meeting, who the Democrats believe raise some concerns about what they were doing? And that's why they want him in the depositions. Without them how do you build your case? In the sense, on the one hand, you say, we're not going to stand for obstruction, and other hand without those witnesses how do you convince the American people there is "there" there?

MARGARET TALEV, POLITICS AND WHITE HOUSE EDITOR, AXIOS: I mean, you're looking for a timeline and you're looking for emotion. So you're looking for when did you become aware of the efforts engage in a Biden term of investigation? How did it make you feel? Were you concerned? Who did you tell you are concerned to?

You can't bring those people want to talk you, he get the answers to this questions unless those people talk publicly. I think what Secretary Pompeo is doing here is a big deal it is an important turning point in all of this because it shows a couple things. That there is a lot of second guessing right now in the White House about whether turning over that transcript was the right thing to do?

A lot of concern about the shift in public opinion, even if it's not reflected yet in the Senate Republican numbers. Pompeo himself is now on the hot seat and because this foreshadows the White House's strategy. The White House knows Democrats want to get to this as quickly as possible. So they're going to work or it's not going to work? Get out before the Iowa caucuses.

This is a way to prevent them from doing that. They know that they can get Democrats off fuddled up on the process, and turn this into a fight about who is blocking who with documents? Instead of what this is really about which is like what is the President doing? And what do the people around him are supposed to administer foreign policy feel about it?

KING: And to your point about a big, would be committee sensitize to this? I guess the expectation was the administration which has said no to Congress when Congress asked if Wednesday come after Tuesday, the administration refused to answer. That is just a fact of life in Washington it didn't come with a Presidential tweet, so maybe we don't think it's a big deal.

This is the Secretary of State in a letter to the Chairman of the Committee saying go away, you're not going to get to my people. At a time the Democrats believe they're critical and the timing is interesting because Wednesday, as in tomorrow, Marie Yovanovitch the Former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine was scheduled to be deposed.

The day after that a man Democrats view as critical to this Kurt Volker the Former U.S. Special Envoy to Ukraine was supposed to be deposed. Volker resigned on Friday, I'm told from friends that he resigned after having arguments or a pus back from the administration about whether or not he should cooperate?

The question is will he now? He is not a government employee anymore. Would he go about this - without this but the bigger question for me is what do the Democrats do? Because this is the test, the administration is essentially saying, okay, we're going to play our card, you play yours.

HEATHER CAYGLE, CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER, POLITICO: And I think they're asking I was talking to some folks on the Hill earlier, and they're wondering if Volker is going to come in on Thursday because like you pointed out, he doesn't work for the administration anymore. And the IG is supposed to testify behind closed doors on Friday.

So the question for Democrats now is between those two things, if Pompeo continues to block all these other officials and the documents, do they have enough to build a real abuse of power case or not?


KING: Shan, back to the lawyer for the help here. What is the standing issue in the sense? Do the Democrats would they have more standing in a court if there were actual articles of impeachment on the table, or just the fact that they call this an impeachment inquiry?

My point being today, do they have any standing to get a quick decision? Or if they go to court are we looking at weeks and weeks and weeks and so on that we have with Don McGahn issue and the other issue that has been languishing in the courts now for a couple months?

WU: I think they definitely have standing, period. How quick it is? I think it depends on who are they choose to stand. I think they're on stronger territory foundation if they actually do articles of impeachment. Certainly as a condition precedent, they need to issue the subpoenas.

They can go to court quickly someone force the subpoenas, obviously they could be appeals but they've got to get it on track. The court may move along quickly. The Supreme Court recognizes that Nixon as did the DC circuit they moved it along relatively quickly.

KING: And to point, as you jump in I just want to make the point of the building blocks of the case here. The handful of lower level State Department officials are critical to this issue what did Giuliani do? Who helped him in the government? What did they know about it? Were they nervous about it? Did they object to it? Is that why the Ambassador, for example, was recalled? We don't know the answers to those questions.

As what the Democrats trying to get it. But then the Democrats do want to take this higher, to the box. Mike Pompeo, who we now know was on that phone call, again, when the President said, hey, do me a favor, to Ukraine, after discussing the issue of military aid. Secretary Pompeo was not compelled, but this was him - as this was always breaking and the whistleblower complaint was filed. He was asked a question on ABC News, he could have said, hey Martha, I was on that call, instead he chose this.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What do you know about those conversations?

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


JONATHAN MARTIN, NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Technically true but not totally honest to the question.

KING: Not good government, not transparent.

MARTIN: That's fair to say. In terms of the documents, the Trump folks have turned over two pretty important documents here in the last week. So there is some precedent under pressure that they'll turn over documents. I think the reality is they're going to fight every subpoena and try to keep their people off the Hill.

But when you've got Kurt Volker, and we had the Former Ambassador to the Ukraine, these are not Trump appointees, they are not mega folks, they are career diplomats. So what would stop them from being on the sort of back nine of their career showing up to testify?

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: And are there more people like those folks, not only in the State Department, there are other people who are named in this sort of a White House officials, the half a dozen or so that cooperated or gave information to this whistleblower.

So we don't know. Pompeo is obviously trying to chill those folks and sort of bully them in some ways in saying, you know, this is going to be uncomfortable for you if you cooperate. The other thing that Republicans seem to be doing in addition to focusing on the process and sort of bogging Democrats down with that, they also seem to be trying to push Democrats to actually take a vote, right? To put that in that uncomfortable position, do they really have the 218 votes to go forth to really formalize this thing? The initial thinking was, well, they kind of formalized it with the impeachment inquiry, but does the actual vote formalize it anymore and put Democrats in an uncomfortable position?

MARTIN: I didn't understand why Pelosi did not have a vote before they left for the recess, for this reason, because he would have more legal cover initiative a formal impeachment inquiry to try to compel more documents and more political standing to say, we're doing this investigation and we're asking for these documents.

John, politically, you would get by from not a big group at least some folks on the GOP side. Why? If it was an impeachment investigation, there would be people who would be forced to say, are you for the investigation or not? They would be on the record, right? Pelosi would have some buy-in on the other side of the aisle. But it will hurt Pelosi implies from Texas and is not running in again.

People like that would have given her at least patina a bipartisanship so that when the administration did stonewall them they could say you're stonewalling a bipartisan inquiry that the House voted for.

KING: We do know this a big deal just got bigger with the administration saying no. When we come back, much more on the latest developments on the impeachment inquiry, what the Democrats do now? And let you at home, what the American public, thinks about this escalating confrontation.



KING: So welcome back, the President's inner circle coming much more into focus today amid the Democrats' impeachment inquiry and the new move from the White House to say, no, we will not cooperate. This fresh polling shows how Americans feel about the impeachment question.

A new CNN poll shows nearly half of Americans say the President should be impeached and removed from office. You can see that number ticking up over the course of 2019. 45 percent of Americans, though, don't feel the President should be impeached. So you have a public divide as we ever some critical decisions to be made in the days and weeks ahead.

Returning to where we started, Mike Pompeo sending a defiant letter accusing Congress of trying to bully State Department employees. The Democrats say they want information from a handful of ambassadors and State Department staffers to find out what Rudy Giuliani was up to.

If you listen to the President's phone call with the President of Ukraine, and you go back a couple months knowing Rudy Giuliani was already meeting with Ukrainians trying to get dirt on Joe Biden, Democrats want to piece this together.

[12:20:00] KING: Democrats want to piece this together. They make a case it's an abuse of power. Listen to Giuliani last night saying, I didn't do anything wrong.


RUDY GIULIANI, PRESIDENT TRUMP'S ATTORNEY: Well, I don't know, I'm weighing the alternatives. I'm kind of like go through it I'll get all my evidence together. I'll get my charts. I gathered all this evidence before the Mueller probe ended, so it was clearly under my responsibility as the lawyer for the President of the United States.

Well, the final meeting that the Ukrainians asked for, the investigation was over.


KING: There is a couple interesting things there. That was Trumpaganda in full swing last night on the Hannity program. But a couple of things I gathered this stuff before the Mueller report was over. He's trying to get himself a privilege there. I did this in the context of being the President's Attorney, therefore it is privileged.

That's one thing he's trying to do to protect it from being - from him having to testify about it, anyway. The second part is what Democrats want to get, Special Envoy Volker, Ambassador Yavanovitch and others in the Chair for. I did at the request of the State Department that is the big issue.

Was the State Department asking the President's private lawyer who they knew want dirt on Joe Biden to do stuff for it? Or it was Rudy Giuliani using the leverage saying the President supports my effort. That's the key question here and the administration now saying you're not going to get your testimony.

CAYGLE: And I think for Democrats they're wondering, how much is Giuliani going to participate? Senior leaders do not want him to testify. I think he would like to testify but their fate it would end up being a circus like Corey Lewandowski a couple weeks ago. But they do want these documents. They do want his to feel the pressure from them and feel like he needs to turn over things and help them.

He said last night, I was the Attorney, privilege things like that but then last week he said I was operating as a friend of Trump. So he goes back and forth. So Democrats feel like I think, they have a legal argument to make that it's not under privilege and he has to turn these things over.

KING: And that Pompeo letter today, if you had any doubt, gives you insights onto to the past due of the administration. The answer is no, if Congress wants documents, the answer is no, if the Congress wants witnesses and we're going to stoke our base by accusing Congress of bullying and intimidating and pushing our people around.

That's to keep Republicans - to try to keep Republicans in their corner. There has been a lot of reporting about this. This from our team at the White House, the President has dismissed talks of performing an impeachment response team, raging that talk of bringing former aides back to help him projected weakness. He has privately declared he doesn't need any more lawyers, even though several people have privately told him that his Personal Attorney, Rudy Giuliani isn't helping him.

You can understand the President here because he had a legal team during the Mueller investigation they cooperated and the President thinks that's how he got Bernon, that's how you have ten very detailed counts of potential obstruction detailing reprehensible behavior in the Trump White House. He doesn't want a repeat if that.

People he has hired and people he is paying or his campaign is paying cooperating with investigators. The question is can they sustain that?

HENDERSON: That's I mean, they've done pretty good so far and if you think about their approach post Mueller report, it was this idea of stonewalling at every turn, to claim privilege of for folks who probably didn't even likely have privilege. So that's what you see coming out of this White House. I think it's probably a little bit of what surprised the Democrats.

I think they thought so that the veneer of this impeachment would compel them to cooperate. If you're in the White House, you think the cooperation you've had so far by releasing that transcript has already brought you tons of trouble. So the idea is just to deflect.

But also have the President essentially say, listen, there was nothing wrong with that call. It was a perfect call. Little Adam Schiff with two D's has gone rogue this is an illegitimate investigation. So we'll see. I think over the past couple days before today, it was unclear what their strategy was?

You heard all the folks on the Sunday shows, Rudy Giuliani with his sort of affidavits and conspiracy theories, but today I think it's certainly much clearer.

KING: It's confused in spin. We haven't had a substantive pushback about the phone call.

MARTIN: He doesn't want one. At the point--

KING: To that point take a breath. One of the key players here is the current President of Ukraine. The man on the other end of that phone call, he's having a news conference back home right now. CNN's Clarissa Ward is there, details of what he has to say about all this, including the man we were just talking about, Rudy Giuliani in just a minute.



KING: Some breaking news just in to CNN. Ukraine, of course, central to the impeachment inquiry here in Washington. Ukraine's President, Volodymyr Zelensky, just spoke to reporters in Kia. And our CNN's Chief International Correspondent, Clarissa Ward was there. She joins us now live. Clarissa, what new information did we learn?

CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The subject of this press conference, John, was not supposed to be President Trump and that now infamous phone conversation between him and President Zelensky, but there were a couple of American reporters in the room, and we quickly began asking him the sail salient questions.

I started out by asking him whether he had felt any pressure to investigate the Bidens in order to facilitate the unfreezing of that military aid to Ukraine. He responded to me by saying, I'd like to tell you I never felt pressure. I have lots of people who would like to put pressure on me here and abroad, but I am President of independent Ukraine.