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Trump's Defends Floundering as Impeachment Probe Heats Up; Sen. Elizabeth Warren & Husband are Interviewed about Campaign. Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired October 1, 2019 - 07:00   ET


ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: It remains unclear whether Giuliani will comply. He has said various things.


CNN has learned that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was actually on that July 25 phone call when President Trump repeatedly pushed the Ukrainian when President Trump repeatedly pushed the Ukrainian president. That could trigger a new subpoena for Pompeo's testimony.

And a source tells CNN that President Trump recently pressured Australia's prime minister to help Attorney General Bill Barr with his investigation of the origins of the Mueller Russia probe.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: While that's going on, the president continues to declare that he will try to figure out the whistle- blower's identity, despite concerns about that person's safety.

And now -- and I think this is a really important development -- the intelligence community inspector general, a Trump appointee, is debunking claims by the president and his allies that the whistle- blower lacked firsthand knowledge of the conduct outlined in the report. The intel community's inspector general is scheduled to testify on Friday, which caps a very busy week ahead in this impeachment inquiry.

CAMEROTA: All right. Joining us now, CNN political correspondent Abby Phillip and CNN political director David Chalian. Great to have both of you.

David Chalian, for a Congress known as do-nothing, they have certainly shifted into a higher gear in terms of -- I mean, they're supposed to be on recess, and all of these developments that have just come out, all of the people that they're calling, the records that they're subpoenaing, I mean, this is quite a week.

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Yes, I think, while most of the Congress is out, it was made clear by Adam Schiff that his Intelligence Committee was going to continue to work on this and not lose any of the momentum that they had in all -- you remember how sort of rapid-fire the developments have been coming last week.

And so if they were just going to go away and say, we'll get back to this in a couple of weeks, that could have really caused a problem in terms of standing up the impeachment inquiry that Nancy Pelosi announced.

The Intelligence Committee continuing to do its work so that when the rest come back, Alisyn, there's going to be sort of a road map and a path for how this impeachment inquiry is going to play out this fall.

BERMAN: What really interests me is that the defense or the strategy, if there is one, that this White House and its allies have taken has been blowing up in their face at times, Abby.

The inspector general of the intelligence committee [SIC] -- community, who is a Trump appointee, felt the need to respond to things that the president and his allies have been saying. They've been saying, oh, it's just hearsay what this whistle-blower said. This doesn't count.

The inspector general, who is a Trump appointee, said no, no, no, no, it counts, and you know what? I have other stuff here.

So let me read you what he wrote, in response last night. He said, "In short, the ICIG did not find that the complainant could find nothing more than secondhand or unsubstantiated assertions. The ICIG determined that other information obtained during the ICIG's preliminary review supported the complainant's allegations."

So the substance there, the fact that they have other evidence, is fascinating to me; and also the fact that, look, we went through two years of the Mueller investigation, where he never responded to the words "witch hunt." We didn't last two weeks before the inspector general here said, you know what, Mr. President? You're wrong.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, because the argument by the Trump's -- the president's allies has been on two fronts.

One, they've alleged some kind of conspiracy in which the inspector general -- the inspector general of the I.C. had somehow changed the whistle-blower laws to allow secondhand information, which also, this letter says, is not true.

But then you hear Lindsey Graham going out repeatedly saying, you can't get a parking ticket based on hearsay, which first of all, is not true. But also, it does not apply here.

They are making it clear that the information contained in this letter, some of which is secondhand. The details of the call are secondhand, but that was verified by the transcript of the call itself.

And then subsequently, I think this letter from the ICIG really lays -- it forces you to read this whistle-blower complaint a little bit more closely, because it says this person did have direct knowledge of some of the things that they talked about in this letter, A, and B, they are subject matter experts that gives even more credence to the kinds of things that they have to say.

So I think it really is one of the strongest forms of pushback that we've seen from a Trump appointee, mind you, about a narrative that is coming from all sides among the president's allies in an effort to undermine the whistle-blower.

CAMEROTA: David, it's not just the president who may be in trouble with an impeachment inquiry beginning. It's also high-level people around him.

So obviously, his personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, has been implicated in much of this, when you hear the report, as well as the rough transcript. Attorney General Bill Barr and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

And there was this interesting moment where Mike Pompeo has been asked what he knows about some of this pressuring of foreign leaders. This is his purview.


So Martha Raddatz this weekend asked him -- no, actually not this weekend, two weeks ago -- 10 days ago, I should say -- asked him what he knows about that July 25 call with the Ukrainian president. Here was his answer.


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 I.C. whistle-blower complaint, none of which I've seen.


CAMEROTA: He was on that phone call, we now know. He was on that phone call.

CHALIAN: I love that you said "answer" with a question mark.

CAMEROTA: What was that? What was that?

CHALIAN: It was a deliberate non-answer. I mean, Martha Raddatz was talking about a "Wall Street Journal" report at the time about Giuliani being mentioned eight times by the president.

He just went straight to that report. Her question was if he knew anything about the call. He chose not to answer that question. He just made up some smoke screen over here.

I mean, I really think the question is if Mike Pompeo was on that call, why wasn't he the whistle-blower? Like why did he listen to that call and hear the way in which the president behaved and remained silent? That -- that to me is the question that needs to be posed to the secretary of state.

CAMEROTA: Well, we don't know if he remained silent within the walls of the West Wing. I mean, as we're hearing, there are all sorts of advisers and people around the president who are not comfortable with this and who actually went to the whistle-blower to tell the whistle- blower about their discomfort and, may I add, moved the transcript, the rough -- or the total transcript of that call into the secret codeword-protected computer.

BERMAN: I don't know that Mike Pompeo was one of the people supplying information to the whistle-blower.


BERMAN: But maybe, I guess. Maybe. I wouldn't count on it. But in answer to the question that Martha asked, what do you know about the conversation, he most definitely didn't say everything, because I was listening to it --


BERMAN: -- which would have been the most honest version that he could have given. Go ahead.

PHILLIP: It's interesting to me that Mike Pompeo was even on this call in the first place. I mean, based on our reporting, it's not that common for the secretary of state to be on foreign leader calls. And we also reported yesterday that John Bolton, who was the national security adviser at the time, was not on the call.

So there is something interesting happening here in the fact that Pompeo was on the call in the first place. It suggests that he -- well, obviously, he knew what the president said on that call.

And then subsequently, when there were conversations within the White House about whether or not the call should be -- the transcript of the call should be released, Pompeo was one of the voices, saying, you know what? I don't think we should release this. He cited precedent in those conversations.

But obviously, he knew the substance and the context of what was discussed and did not think that it was going to be helpful to the president's case.

Ultimately, he was right about that. It -- this transcript did not put a lid on this controversy. It actually, in some cases, really blew the lid completely off of it and opened up a window for Democrats to move forward with this impeachment inquiry.

BERMAN: And it makes him a witness. It makes him a witness now, and it's going to make his life uncomfortable in the coming days and weeks.

CAMEROTA: Well, I mean, there's also reporting, David, that there were all sorts of people always on these calls. Because the -- our Jamie Gangel reports that, when John Kelly was the chief of staff, there were people -- he would often have these calls with foreign leaders on speakerphone, and that people -- John Kelly advised people to go in and baby-sit these phone calls, because the president was so unprepared, and he would go off on tangents. And that John Kelly sometimes would mute the phone so he could --

people around the president could give him better direction and guidance of what to say. So I think that there were lots of people often listening to these calls.

CHALIAN: There's no doubt about that. I would just note this wasn't a typical foreign leader call. We have the actual call rough transcript to show us that it wasn't.

It was a mission to get Joe Biden investigated and a mission to pursue a conspiracy theory about the DNC server and how the 2016 election was hacked.

This wasn't just a congratulatory typical call and concern that the president may speak odd and funny with world leaders. This was the president of the United States wanting to get on a call with a foreign leader to do his bidding in his domestic political situation. So there was nothing routine about this call.

BERMAN: And again, I'm so glad you brought that up, because this isn't the wacky way that President Trump talks to world leaders. This is about what we have now seen in black and white, which Democrats say is evidence that the president pressured a foreign leader to act on his behalf for political gain.

David Chalian, Abby Phillips, thank you very much for being with us this morning.

We have a rare interview with one of the Democratic frontrunners. Senator Elizabeth Warren and her husband speak to CNN in an exclusive interview. Ahead.



BERMAN: All right, this morning, as we've seen Republicans struggling to defend President Trump amid the flurry of developments on Ukraine. John Avlon here with a reality check on this defense, John.

JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, there's some awkward moments, because the facts of the Ukraine whistle-blower case are bad, and so the president's defenders are sounding a little bit desperate in recent days.

But to help you smoke out the spin, here's a list of some of their signature moves. So first, there's just denial. President Trump set the tone here with a tweet. Quote, "IT WAS A PERFECT CONVERSATION WITH UKRAINE PRESIDENT!" The all caps does make it more convincing, Mr. President.

We've all seen the rough transcript that you released, and it's not good. Maybe the only person who hasn't seen the transcript was House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do you make of this exchange? President Zelensky says, "We are almost ready to buy more Javelins from the United States for defense purposes."


And President Trump replies, "I would like you to do us a favor, though."

REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): You just added another word.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, it's in the transcript.

MCCARTHY: You said, "I'd like you to do a favor, though?"

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, it's in the -- it's in the transcript.

MCCARTHY: When I read the transcript --


AVLON: Oops, as Rick Perry might say. But that deer-in-the- headlights moment was awkward. But it's only one step away from the hearsay defense we've heard. Here's Senator Lindsey Graham.


REP. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): It's all hearsay. You can't get a parking ticket conviction based on hearsay. The whistle-blower didn't hear the phone call.


AVLON: OK. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines hearsay as the same thing as a rumor, something unverified and unsubstantiated.

But of course, the Trump-appointed inspector general found that the whistle-blower's complaint was both credible and urgent. Plus, it's been backed up by the call transcript. So it's not hearsay.

Then there's the deep state dodge, which includes the false accusation that the whistle-blower regulations were mysteriously changed weeks ago. A CNN fact check: that is false. Whistle-blower allegations have to be corroborated, and that's exactly what happened here.

Or how about the "I know you are but what am I?" defense, exemplified by Trump senior advisor and America's sweetheart, Stephen Miller?


STEPHEN MILLER, SENIOR ADVISOR TO DONALD TRUMP: The president of the United States is the whistle-blower, and this individual is a saboteur.

(END VIDEO CLIP) AVLON: Got that? Look, the whistle-blower followed all the proper procedures, according to the DNI. They are literally a whistle- blower, while the president is literally not.

There's also the classic project and deflect where surrogates like Congressman Jim Jordan try to present President Trump as an anticorruption crusader, while reprieving the president's narrative that the Bidens were engaged in corrupt behavior, which was denied by Ukrainian prosecutors.

Muddying the waters between fact and fiction can result in a lot of cross talk. And then statements like this.


GRAHAM: You know, you've got an opinion. I've got an opinion.


AVLON: We've all got opinions. That's also called the Ron Burgundy defense.


WILL FERRELL, COMEDIAN: Agree to disagree.


AVLON: Except this isn't a comedy. It's our country, and it's really not that much to ask members of Congress to have a fact-based debate.

And that's your reality check.

CAMEROTA: We always appreciate a good Ron Burgundy reference.

AVLON: Who doesn't?


No. 2, in terms of a fact-based defense or analysis, you know, Intel Chair Adam Schiff has, I think, understandably upset at the president, because he did this whole riff as though what it would sound like if he were a mob boss. This was at the hearing for DNI Maguire, and he read it like it was a page from "The Godfather." Is that a problem for this --

AVLON: It is a problem. It was a huge mistake. It was an unforced error. Never should have done it. Glad you mentioned it.

BERMAN: It's not treason, though, which is what the president is is quoting right now, which is, I think, perhaps the larger issue. But I get the point. All right, John. Thank you.

CAMEROTA: Senator Elizabeth Warren surging in the polls, and she takes her presidential pitch to voters. But there's one person we've not heard from in her camp. Warren's husband speaking out in his first interview.


M.J. LEE, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: If she does become the nominee, she will go up against President Trump. Now, are you ready for that?




CAMEROTA: Senator Elizabeth Warren is trying to become the first woman president, and that would make her husband of nearly 40 years the first gentleman. How does he feel about that and more? The pair talked exclusively to CNN's M.J. Lee. And she joins us now with this big interview.

So how interesting. Tell us everything.

LEE: Yes, Senator Warren's campaign has obviously had a lot of political momentum lately, and for the first time since she announced her campaign on New Year's Eve, her husband Bruce is speaking out.

We sat down with him, and then the couple together, and we talked about a whole range of things, including the story of how they met 40 years ago, and a previously unreported reporting about their deliberations over whether Senator Warren should jump into the 2020 race and how they might be preparing for a match-up against President Trump.


LEE: So let's talk about the two of you. This is your first joint interview of the campaign.


LEE: How did you two meet?

WARREN: Oh, at a pink hotel.

BRUCE MANN, HUSBAND OF ELIZABETH WARREN: Yes, yes, a pink hotel in Key Biscayne.

LEE (voice-over): Meet Bruce man, a Harvard Law School professor better known these days as Elizabeth Warren's husband.

(on camera): So 1979.

MANN: Yes.

LEE: You meet senator Warren. What was she like?

MANN: Oh, the -- first, let me set the scene, because -- LEE: Please.

MANN: It's completely improbable.

LEE (voice-over): The two met when they were 29 years old, attending a law conference in Florida. Warren had recently separated from her first husband, Jim Warren.

MANN: As I approached the reception, I looked across the lawn, from about, oh, I don't know, 25 yards away, the -- I saw Elizabeth talking to a couple of people, and the -- and even from that distance, the -- I was just -- I was just drawn to her. I mean, she was so lively, so animated, so engaged. I just fell for her from 25 yards out before even meeting.

LEE (on camera): Love at first sight?

MANN: For me, yes, it took -- it took her a couple of days.

LEE: And you?

WARREN: I was much slower. That was a Sunday late afternoon when we met.

LEE: That's right.

WARREN: I wasn't completely in love with him until sometime mid- morning on Monday. He was in the row ahead of me down at the other end of the row, and it was on Monday when I actually saw him in shorts and good-looking legs.

LEE: Wow.

WARREN: Yes. That's when -- that's when I was all in.

MANN: Yes, that's right. That's right. She completely objectified me.

WARREN: It's true.


LEE (voice-over): As the couple tells it, it was a whirlwind romance built on a shared love of teaching and academia and a bond over their similar upbringings. Just months after they first met, it was Warren who popped the question.

WARREN: It was in the fall, and I'd watched him teach a class, which I'd never done before. So I'm sitting in the back of the room while he's teaching. And with classes, he taught a really good glass, and students lots of interaction. Students asked him questions.

And he walks back in this big empty classroom, he looks down at me and he says, "Well, what did you think?"

And I said, "Great. Will you marry me?" And he said -- MANN: Yes.

WARREN: Yes. And that was it.

LEE: That was it?

MANN: That's right, yes.

WARREN: That was it. Yes.

I got to see him in one -- you know, I got to see him in shorts, got to watch him play tennis. Got to do all that when we were in Miami for three weeks, and then got to see him teach, and -- but that's it.

MANN: Yes.

WARREN: I'm marrying this one. You know when you find a good one, grab him and hang on.

I really am glad to see all of you here.

LEE (voice-over): Warren is now one of the leading candidates for the Democratic nomination for president. If she wins, her husband would be the first male presidential spouse in history. He says it's not a role he ever imagined himself playing.

(on camera): When you first met the senator, she was a Republican.

MANN: I don't think I knew that at the time. However conservative she might have been at the time, the -- it was not particularly apparent, and we really didn't discuss politics.

LEE (voice-over): Friends and colleagues describe Mann as the quieter of the couple, devoted to his scholarship and even more devoted to his wife. He's been by Warren's side as her political career has taken off rapidly, beginning with a Senate campaign in 2012 and a presidential run announced on the last day of 2018.

(on camera): So that conversation between the two of you where you decide, OK, we're going to do this. I'm going to run for president.

What is that conversation like?

WARREN: I don't think of it as a single conversation.

MANN: No, not really. Not really.

WARREN: It was the bits and pieces kind of thing that people who live together do. A piece here about what's happening in our country, a piece about a place we ought to be fighting back.

And over time -- now, I did have conversations with other people, real conversations that I told them I was going to have. And I wanted him to think about it so I could get good advice, and this is an important decision. MANN: And so the conversations she mentioned were asking people to

give her three reasons why she should run, three reasons why she shouldn't. And she saved me for last.

And so finally she asked me for three reasons pro and con, and I said no, I'm not going to do it. And I said, you're going to run anyways. The -- so it just doesn't matter, because if you don't run and Democrats lose, you'll feel guilty, because then that means there will be no one to fight for the people and the issues that you care about.

WARREN: It just became clearer and clearer in this fight that you're right. I couldn't not do it.

LEE: So we fast forward ten months.


LEE: You know that your wife has been leading the polls lately. As the person who knows her best, why do you think she's leading the polls right now?

MANN: Because she's the best person to do the job.

WARREN: I'm glad you feel that way.

MANN: I do, I do, I do, I do. It's an entirely unbiased opinion.

WARREN: That's right, that's right. Absolutely.

MANN: The -- the --

WARREN: And you remember we don't do polls.

MANN: That's right. We do not do polls.

LEE: And if she does become the nominee, she will go up against President Trump. Are you ready for that?

MANN: I mean, I'm not sure if anyone -- how anyone trains for it. You just jump into the deep end, and you swim.

LEE: Do the two of you talk yet about what life could be like at the White House?

WARREN: No, huh-uh.



MANN: No, no, no. It's a bit early.

LEE (voice-over): As his wife is running for president, Mann is continuing to teach at Harvard Law School. He has spent limited time on the campaign trail so far but says he already has one of the most important jobs on the Warren campaign. MANN: My principal role has been as -- as Bailey's handler.

WARREN: That's right.

MANN: I help -- I help Bailey manage his photo ops.

LEE: The couple's 16-month-old Golden Retriever has developed a following of his own.

(on camera): So what are the things that you two are doing to try to keep any sense of normalcy when you're home?

WARREN: Bailey.

MANN: Yes.

WARREN: Bailey. No, it is. We try to get out to Fresh Pond. And if it's a really good day, we actually do doubles at Fresh Pond.