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Impeachment Probe Heats Up as Trump's Defense Flounders; Sources: Advisors Warning Trump It's Likely He'll Be Impeached. Aired 6-6:30a ET
Aired October 1, 2019 - 06:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're trying to find out about a whistleblower.
SEN. MARK WARNER (D-VA): Any rational person would be concerned about the whistle-blower's safety after the president's comments.
JAY SEKULOW, ATTORNEY FOR DONALD TRUMP: The president now has to worry about conversations that he's having with world leaders, being leaked to the press. That is not good.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The fact that Mike Pompeo would be part of this call. He doesn't say anything about it, or he doesn't bring it to anyone's attention in Congress is problematic.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This could get awfully messy if it includes the secretary of state.
ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is NEW DAY. It's Tuesday, October 1. Welcome to October. Six o'clock here in New York.
So are you ready? Every time we blink, there are major developments in the impeachment investigation of the president. Remember: the paramount question is did the president pressure a foreign leader to investigate a political opponent? And we've seen evidence of that in black and white. Everything else is just context.
To that end, while you were blinking, Rudy Giuliani has been subpoenaed for all documents related to his admitted role in pressuring the Ukrainians for dirt on Joe Biden. It remains unclear whether the president's personal attorney will comply.
CNN has learned that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was on the July 25 phone call, where President Trump leaned on the Ukrainian president. Pompeo was less than fulsome when asked about this publicly. And now this could trigger a new subpoena for his testimony. And a source tells CNN that President Trump recently pressed
Australia's prime minister to help Attorney General Bill Barr with his investigation of the origins of Mueller's Russia probe. There's new reporting on the attorney general's expansive and personal role in pushing questions about the Russia investigation.
CAMEROTA: And President Trumps continues to declare that he will try to figure out the whistle-blower's identity, despite concerns about that person's safety.
Now the inspector general, a Trump nominee, is refuting the president's claims that the whistle-blower lacked firsthand knowledge of the conduct that's outlined in the complaint. Apparently, the whistle-blower does have firsthand knowledge.
The inspector general is expected to testify on Friday. That will cap a busy week ahead as this impeachment inquiry heats up.
So let's begin our coverage with CNN's Suzanne Malveaux. She is live on Capitol Hill. What's the latest?
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Alisyn.
Well, House Democrats are moving full steam ahead to get those documents; also to talk to key witnesses in the Ukraine scandal as the president and his allies are fighting back.
MALVEAUX (voice-over): House Democrats escalating their impeachment strategy as three committees issue a subpoena to Rudy Giuliani, ordering President Trump's personal attorney to submit documents related to Ukraine.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've asked for his documents. We'll then talk to his associates and then decide whether to bring him in at that point.
MALVEAUX: Giuliani's stunning admission in a CNN interview that he pressed the Ukrainians to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son fueled the Democrats' decision. The three chairmen suggesting he has "evidence -- in the form of text messages, phone records and other communications -- indicating that you were not acting alone and that other Trump administration officials may have been involved in this scheme."
Giuliani says he's undecided on whether he will appear before Congress.
RUDY GIULIANI, ATTORNEY FOR DONALD TRUMP: Oh, I don't know. I'm weighing the alternatives. I'm -- I'll kind of like go through it. I'll get all my evidence together. I'll get my charts.
MALVEAUX: This as a source tells CNN Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was also on the July 25 phone call with the Ukrainian president. When questioned about it last week, Pompeo deflected.
MARTHA RADDATZ, REPORTER, ABC NEWS: What do you know about those conversations?
MIKE POMPEO, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: So you just gave me a report about a whistle-blower complaint, none of which I've seen.
MALVEAUX: A source familiar with a recent call between the president and the Australian prime minister tells CNN that President Trump pressured him to help Attorney General William Barr review the origins of the Russia investigation. The White House dismissing the report, calling it part of a previously announced investigation.
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): It's OK to cooperate with Mueller to get Trump, but it's not OK to cooperate with Barr to find out if Trump was a victim of an out-of-control intelligence operation? We're not going to have a country like that.
MALVEAUX: President Trump and his allies called out by the intelligence community inspector general, who was a Trump appointee, forcefully pushing back against false narratives that the whistle- blower lacked firsthand knowledge of the conduct outlined in the complaint.
The document stating the whistle-blower "possessed firsthand and other information" and that the I.G. "determined that other information obtained during the ICIG's preliminary review supported the complainant's allegations."
Meanwhile, President Trump's focus? Finding out who the whistle- blower is.
TRUMP: We're trying to find out about a whistle-blower. We have a whistle-blower that reports things that were incorrect.
MALVEAUX: The whistle-blower's attorney tweeting they are "entitled to anonymity" and "is not to be retaliated against. Doing so is a violation of federal law."
WARNER: Any rational person would be concerned about the whistle- blower's safety.
MALVEAUX: And all this comes as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell concedes that the Senate would have to take up impeachment if the House passed articles charging the president with crimes -- Alisyn.
CAMEROTA: OK, Suzanne. Thank you very much for laying all of that out.
President Trump and his allies are trying to discredit the whistle- blower, but the inspector general is coming to the whistle-blower's defense. We'll tell you about that next.
[06:09:48] BERMAN: New questions this morning about how President Trump's personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, will respond after being subpoenaed for all documents related to his outreach to the Ukrainians, including his effort to encourage them to open investigation into the Bidens.
"The Washington Post" reports that Giuliani told them he has at least 40 texts from the State Department asking him to get involved.
I want to bring in CNN political analyst Rachael Bade. She's the congressional reporter for "The Washington Post." And CNN political correspondent Abby Phillip.
In terms of Rudy Giuliani, two things fascinate me about this letter from Congress. No. 1, the letter points out Rudy Giuliani, you admitted to this already. You went on CNN and told Chris Cuomo you pressured the Ukrainians for dirt on Joe Biden. That's No. 1.
The other thing that's fascinating to me is the note here that if you do not comply with the subpoena, it will be used as an adverse inference against you and the president, which means, potentially, an article of impeachment.
So Rachael, is this the whole new ball game we're seeing here? Congress flexing its new muscle with an official impeachment inquiry, and did we see signs that Rudy is cracking?
RACHAEL BADE, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, I mean, we're definitely seeing that they were serious when they said they're going to move quickly. Right?
I mean, this only came out, what, a week and a half ago. We're already seeing them say, we need to talk to Rudy Giuliani. It was only a matter of time, since he's really at the heart of this Ukraine controversy, had met with Ukrainian officials to sort of carry out Trump's wish to try to get them to investigate Joe Biden.
And not only has he admitted it, but you mentioned those text messages. Democrats want to see those text messages to see if anybody else in the State Department had been sort of coordinating with them, who else was part of this effort. And this just shows, I mean, it's only been two weeks, and we are seeing them move like lightning right now.
And so they are serious about potentially having an impeachment vote before the holidays, and we're seeing that right here with how quick they're moving.
CAMEROTA: OK, to prove your point, here's the calendar, Abby -- we'll just put it up -- that we know of. Here's what their -- the House Intel is doing.
Marie Yovanovitch -- she's the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine -- is appearing tomorrow. OK? And was recalled under sort of dubious conditions, you know, the reporting is, is that she wouldn't go along with the narrative of the administration to investigate what they wanted to investigate. She was, you know, trying to do her job. That's at least the reporting.
Kurt Volker, who just resigned his post, he's the former U.S. special envoy to Ukraine.
OK. And then Michael Atkinson who's the inspector general, who has a lot of these answers and who is coming to the defense of the whistle- blower.
Then Mike Pompeo; then Rudy Giuliani on October 15th. I mean, I don't know which one you should be popping more popcorn for, because all of these are so fascinating.
But what I'm struck by is that they're getting to them quickly. They're getting -- I mean, this is so different than the Mueller report. They are getting right -- like she just -- well, she was recalled, and then the special envoy just resigned, and they're already calling them within days, Abby.
ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, absolutely. And it's part of the effort to get ahead of what the White House has been doing on other probes, which is basically stalling for as long as possible, trying to get these things locked up in the courts, and trying to -- to frustrate the narrative that Democrats might be able to put together about any kind of wrongdoing.
It is also critical for some of these officials, who will be the building blocks of a broader case about who knew what when, and -- and particularly how high in the Trump administration.
I'm particularly interested in what Kurt Volker has to say. He is a key person in all of this. He played a middle-man role between Giuliani and the Ukrainians. What did he know about why that aid was held up, and about what Giuliani was supposed to be doing, exactly? What did President Trump want Giuliani to be doing? And what did he communicate to his senior -- his senior diplomatic staff about how this should affect U.S. foreign policy with Ukraine?
These are really, really critical questions that will start to fill in some of the blanks here about -- about motive and about when people knew about certain aspects of this.
Bill Barr has tried to claim that he doesn't know -- he didn't know anything about what Giuliani was doing and didn't actually act on it. The question is, is that really true, and what exactly does Kurt Volker know about that?
BERMAN: You're talking about the difficult situation this puts diplomats in, the State Department in. You could see it when Mike Pompeo was asked a direct question about this.
We now know, based on reporting, that Mike Pompeo was on the call where the president leaned on the Ukrainian leader. Martha Raddatz weeks ago, or I guess ten days ago asked Mike Pompeo about this. I want you to watch him squirm during this answer. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RADDATZ: What do you know about those conversations?
POMPEO: So you just gave me a report about a I.C. whistle-blower complaint, none of which I've seen.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: No, she asked a question about a phone call that he was on, Rachael. He was on that phone call. He knew it when he was answering that question to Martha. That's going to be a world of problems for him.
BADE: Yes. It's been really interesting to watch the Republican leaders, also, on the Hill squirm. Kevin McCarthy in his "60 Minutes" interview on Sunday, you know, was pushing back on a transcript that was -- the interviewer was actually reading verbatim, and was like, that's not what the transcript said. Well, actually, it is what the transcript said.
Republicans are really uncomfortable here. And you're seeing it right there in that Pompeo clip. You're seeing it when you watch Kevin McCarthy on TV. But when it comes to Pompeo in particular, remember, the House has already subpoenaed him for information. They want to know exactly what he knew. He was on that call. How much did he know about what Rudy Giuliani was doing, you know, in Ukraine? And they want to see how systematic was this sort of effort to put the pressure on Ukraine to investigate the Bidens.
PHILLIP: That's not --
CAMEROTA: Yes. I mean, what I think is so interesting, Abby, is that he has -- he's under no obligation to tell Martha Raddatz the truth. He can lie to her. But why? If he was on the call and there was nothing untoward, why lie about it? So anyway, these are some of the questions --
PHILLIP: And Alisyn --
CAMEROTA: Yes, quickly, Abby.
PHILLIP: -- we should just make a note that Pompeo also argued against releasing this transcript. He did not want this transcript out, and now we know it's because he was on the call. He knew exactly what had been said on that call, and he did not think it would be helpful to President Trump. Turns out he was probably right about that.
CAMEROTA: That's very good context. Abby, Rachael, thank you very much.
Also, concern is growing inside the West Wing about how the president is handling the impeachment inquiry. So we have brand-new reporting about the warning the president is now getting from his own aides.
CAMEROTA: Concern is reportedly growing inside the West Wing over the president's handling of the impeachment inquiry. Sources tell CNN that some of the president's aides are warning him that it is likely that he will be impeached in the House and that they are frustrated that the president will not give up on his conspiracy theories about the 2016 election and beyond.
Joining us now, CNN political commentator Joe Lockhart. He was President Clinton's press secretary and led the war room during Clinton's impeachment inquiry.
Joe, what are -- what do you make of that reporting? During the Clinton impeachment, were there aides that were coming to the president and saying, you're handling this badly?
JOE LOCKHART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, there's two parts to that. One is, I think, that it was well into November when most of the White House staff and the president, with President Clinton, thought he wasn't going to be impeached. We'd won the midterm elections, and we thought that sent a message to the Republicans to back off. And, you know, we realized late that there was nothing to stop them, and they were going to go ahead.
We did not have the problem with the conspiracy theory. I mean, I think all political people will focus on little pieces of information, you know, that seem to exonerate them, but President Clinton was very disciplined to not talk about this in public.
The problem the White House staff is having now is the president is just, you know, living out loud. Everything he thinks, everything -- every thought that crosses his mind, he puts on Twitter, and it's just -- it gives everybody a running list of every hour a new headline.
I can see why they might be concerned, because there's evidence that's backfiring right now. The inspector general of the intelligence community, a Trump appointee, last night basically fought back against the administration, the suggestion that the whistle-blower complaint is just secondhand information.
This is what the inspector general wrote. Didn't have to write anything, but he wrote this. He said, "In short, the ICIG did not find that the complainant could provide nothing more than second-hand or unsubstantiated information. The ICIG determined that other information obtained during the preliminary review supported the complainant's allegations." "Other information obtained." Because of what the president and his
allies have said, their own inspector general just said, Nuh-uh, not only are you wrong, but I have more.
LOCKHART: Yes, and you know, the weekend was about Republican leaders fanning out and using the hearsay argument and trying to denigrate what the I.C. had done, what the whistle-blower had brought to the I.C.
And it demonstrates, I think, the weakness in the White House strategy, which is they are arguing some -- in a way where every revelation now is going to, you know, weaken their argument.
Their argument is that, you know, nothing was done wrong here, and you know, everything was perfect, when in fact, we're going to find out that a lot of things were done wrong here.
The better argument for them would be to say, let's let the investigators look at this. We're going to focus on other things right now. The president's going to be the president. We've got a lot of other work to do. You know, we've got talks starting again in North Korea. That's important. We've got other issues.
But you know, the argument they're using, you're going to find week by week that, all of a sudden, OK, you won't hear hearsay anymore. Because that's been debunked. You won't hear that things weren't put -- you know, covered up, put on the private server, because that's going to be documented in the hearings.
So their argument, rather than being durable and being able to work through these revelations, gets weakened, you know, every day.
CAMEROTA: They're really not taking your free advice. You've been saying this every morning, about they should focus on the people's business. They should try to pivot to all the things that people care about. They're really not doing that in a striking way.
LOCKHART: Well, I like to tell people my paid advice is better than my free advice. But in this case, the free advice is real. It comes out of experience of having been through this.
And I'm not -- you know, it's not my job to help President Trump. You know, I think he's in serious trouble for serious reasons. But the path that they're pursuing is not going to work, and the path that they're pursuing is being driven by the president.
And the president is someone who is self-indulgent, self-pitying, and -- and is susceptible to any theory, no matter how outrageous or out there, that seems to be exculpatory for him.
And, you know, there's one thing for politicians to sit in a room and feel sorry for themselves and, you know, sort of go through all this. But when they do it out loud, they give everyone like you a chance to, you know, lay it all out and expose the lies, the -- you know, the made-up stories, and the conspiracies for what they are.
BERMAN: Look, when you do it out loud now, it could be a new article of impeachment, like attacking the whistle-blower.
BERMAN: Something like that has legal or, at least, serious existential ramifications.
All right, Joe. Thank you very much.
CAMEROTA: Thanks so much.
BERMAN: All right. We do have some breaking news out of Hong Kong. Violent clashes erupting between police and protesters. And it's coming on a really important day as China celebrates 70 years of communist rule. We have a live report next.