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Trump Blasts Democrats For Impeachment BS; Speaker Pelosi Tells George Stephanopoulos President Trump Is "Scared" Of Impeachment Inquiry, President Trump and Finnish President Hold Joint Press Conference. Aired 2-2:30p ET
Aired October 2, 2019 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: Trump says Schiff should be forced to resign and potentially charged with treason. Schiff says anyone who thinks they will stand in the way of congressional requests should think again.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): The White House needs to understand that any action like that that forces us to litigate or have to consider litigation will be considered further evidence of obstruction of justice.
We're not fooling around here, though. We don't want this to drag on months and months and months, which appears to be the administration's strategy. So they just need to know that even as they try to undermine our ability to find the facts around the President's effort to coerce a foreign leader to create dirt that he can use against a political opponent that they will be strengthening the case on obstruction if they behave that way.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: And then, moments later, the President responded.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, the whistleblower was very inaccurate. Not a thing wrong, unless you heard the Adam Schiff version where he made up my conversation. He actually made it up. It should be criminal. It should be treasonous.
We don't call him Shifty Schiff for nothing. He is a shifty, dishonest guy. This guy was negative one Mike Pompeo.
He can't -- you know, there's an expression, he couldn't carry his blank strap. I won't say it because they'll say it was so terrible to say. But that guy couldn't carry his blank strap. You understand that?
They are the do-nothing Democrats. They don't do any work. All they want to do is try and win the election in 2020. So they come up with this impeachment nonsense. Ninety nine percent of Nancy Pelosi's time is spent on this. She should worry about lowering the price of drugs which I've done.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: CNN's Chief White House Correspondent, Jim Acosta is inside that news conference and Jim just listening to President Trump earlier, it's like, how -- what? Wow.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: What am I watching? Right? Yes, Brooke, I think the question heading into this press conference that we're going to see starting here in a few moments with the President of Finland, is whether or not we are witnessing a meltdown in real-time or whether or not this is just another day that ends in why.
The President did just blow up in front of reporters in the Oval Office attacking the credibility of the whistleblower even though the Inspector General and the Director of National Intelligence both said that this whistleblower is acting in good faith.
The President also attacked what the whistleblower is saying despite the fact that what the whistleblower is saying in his complaint is backed up with what is in that rough call transcript released by the White House.
And so the credibility of the President is on the line here. It seems almost more than the whistleblower himself, and we'll see whether or not the President wants to continue this tirade when he walks out here in just a few moments with the President of the Finland.
I will tell you though, if past is prologue, the President doesn't always do that when he walks into these, what we call two plus two joint news conferences with a Head of State.
We saw this a couple of weeks ago with the Prime Minister of Australia. He went off on a rant in front of reporters in the Oval Office. But then when he walked in here into the East Room with the Prime Minister, it was a bit more tame. We could see a repeat of that when the President walks in here in a few moments with the President of Finland.
But no question about it, Brooke. What we're seeing from the President, I think reflects what we're hearing and reporting from behind the scenes. Aides and associates of the President, both inside the White House and outside the White House, warning the President that he faces the real likelihood of being impeached.
Officials publicly and privately up on Capitol Hill on the Republican side, in some cases, saying that they don't know where all of this is headed. They're concerned about the President's behavior. They're concerned about the President using terms like Civil War and coup.
And by the way, just as the President was about to make these remarks in the Oval Office, the Trump campaign released a new ad, repeating this line that if Democrats were to impeach and remove the President from office that there would be some kind of coup.
These are the words that we haven't really heard from a President of the United States in our lifetime. And yet, Brooke, we're watching it in real time.
The question, of course, is whether or not the President will repeat all of that here in the East Room, but he seems to be fired up. And I will tell you just talking to a Trump adviser in the last several minutes who watched what the President did in the Oval Office, this adviser was saying, isn't the President a great messenger. Look at the way he went off.
People inside Trump world, people inside the President's trusted circle of advisers and aides, they are cheering him on into this fight and they see this despite this being a lot of provocative behavior, being a way to energize his base heading into the 2020 election -- Brooke.
BALDWIN: Yes. All right. We'll talk to you in just a little bit. We will stand by for that news conference. Jim, thank you very much. Let's go to Kaitlan Collins. She is also there at the White House. And Kaitlan, you have new reporting on the President's mindset behind the scenes. What are you hearing?
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Brooke, one thing that the President made clear is That he is in a combative mood right now. He is looking at this
situation. He is watching Nancy Pelosi and Adam Schiff give this press conference that they gave earlier delivering those warning shots to the White House about these requests for documents and for interviews, warning that they will subpoena them if necessary.
COLLINS: And the President is growing angry because he feels like he is being wronged here. He emerged from the Russia investigation, he declared vindication. He thought this was finally behind him, this impeachment strategy from Democrats, and you saw a lot of their investigations that they've done for the last several months go nowhere.
And now the President is trying to essentially grapple with what he is facing now and just how quickly this Impeachment Inquiry is moving.
We reported last week that when Nancy Pelosi announced this, the President was incredulous because he didn't think she was actually going to go there, that she was actually going to take that next step.
And then over the next few days, aides inside the White House didn't feel that the President was properly grasping the enormity of what was facing him, and while they still feel that way, they still don't feel that the President realizes just how quickly this is going to be moving. And if he wants to respond, he is going to have to do the same.
You're seeing the President lash out at the people who were leading this charge, Nancy Pelosi and Adam Schiff. And that is a lot of what the President did there in the Oval Office. And essentially, that mirrors what he has been saying privately, focusing on the Democrats here saying that they're just out to get him, focusing less on the contents of his call.
But as Jim was saying, he thinks that people in the President's world say that he is staying on message. He is doing the right thing. There are other people who think that the President needs to grasp this a little bit more tighter. He needs to understand what exactly is coming.
Whether or not that changes how he does going forward is still another question though.
BALDWIN: Right. How can this denial strategy really work for him? Kaitlan, thank you very much.
The other big event I just want to give you the heads up here, we are watching the Inspector General for Mike Pompeo's State Department is about to deliver his message to congressional investigators.
Steve Linick filed an urgent briefing request just hours after Pompeo sent this letter defying congressional demands. Secretary Pompeo is pushing back on Democrat subpoenas for documents in their efforts to depose officials within his own department.
But this is what lawmakers want to know. They want to know exactly what was the role of the State Department during these negotiations with Ukraine? Pompeo did just admit that he too, was on that July 25th call.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE POMPEO, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: As for was I on the phone call? I was on the phone call. The phone call was in the context of, now, I guess I've been a Secretary of State for coming on a year and a half. I know precisely what the American policy is with respect to Ukraine. It's been remarkably consistent and we will continue to try to drive those set of outcomes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: Manu Raju is on Capitol Hill and Manu, how unusual is it? This urgent meeting between the State Inspector General in Congress?
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's very unusual. This is something that typically does not happen according to Democratic and Republican aides that I've talked to. To request a briefing like this in what is being described by the Inspector General as an urgent briefing with several congressional committee senior staff for those committees that are going to be meeting in a classified room just off the Senate floor to talk about exactly what the Inspector General is indicating.
That this has to do something about Ukraine, according to a very brief e-mail that the Inspector General sent to Capitol Hill yesterday. Also saying that the Inspector General had received -- obtained documents from the State Department's legal adviser and those documents, he plans to share with these aides later today.
Now, the question is exactly what. The Inspector General has already been investigating a number of matters internally, including personnel practices at the State Department. How does this tie into exactly what the Democrats are seeking?
We do know that the Democrats, of course issued that subpoena late last week to try to get documents turned over to Capitol Hill, also they tried to schedule depositions for current and former officials to come and testify. But Mike Pompeo pushed back sending that letter yesterday saying that they would not comply with the request from the Democrats and soon after that, the Inspector General asked for this urgent briefing.
So how these two are connected still is a mystery of sorts, but one, hopefully we should get some more details about, but again, this is behind closed doors in the classified setting. So details may be scarce, but at the moment, it's got a lot of people's attention here on Capitol Hill -- Brooke.
BALDWIN: Got it. Manu, thank you very much. I am just keeping my eye on that -- one of those screens to see when we see the President Trump, we're going to take it live.
In the meantime, let's have a conversation. I've got several smart voices, Asha Rangappa, let me just start with you first. Listening to Congressman Adam Schiff earlier today during the news conference, he said, forcing the Intelligence Committee to litigate or consider litigation to get requested documents would be evidence of obstruction. What exactly does that mean?
ASHA RANGAPPA CNN LEGAL AND NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: What that means is that now that the House and these congressional committees have invoked their impeachment power, this explicit power that's laid out in the Constitution. The balance between the branches has shifted.
RANGAPPA: Whereas before you kind of had this just regular separation of powers, you know, tug-of-war that might need to be resolved through litigation.
This is the zenith of the House's power. I mean, these documents have to come forward. They are conducting an inquiry of the highest magnitude. And so I think that he is stressing that that is exactly where they are right now. And indeed, that, you know, this would be evidence of obstructing that particular investigation, which was an Article of Impeachment for Nixon as well.
BALDWIN: Okay, and then John Avlon, you're sitting with me, and, you know, we hear the President's language in characterizing all of this as a coup. He tweeted this last night, he said in, all caps, on Twitter, and pardon my language. But this is the language of the President of the United States, called it bullshit.
And then in that conversation where the Finnish President was just sort of sitting there, he referred to, you know, Mike Pompeo's -- for whatever reason he can curse on Twitter, but he didn't say -- he is referring to his jockstrap. This is the President. What is going on?
JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: You're not looking at a President who is acting presidential in any way, shape or form. In some ways, we left normal a long time ago, but the pressure is ratcheting up on the President.
BALDWIN: He is feeling it.
AVLON: As impeachment is being real. He is reacting in a way that recalls banana republics rather than American Republicans. He is calling it a potential coup. No, this is a mechanism put in place by the founding fathers to hold the Executive Branch accountable.
He is accusing Members of Congress of treason, which is obviously a very serious charge, also an Article Impeachment, by the way. One that he has reminisced in the past, you know, the way it was handled was through execution. Too bad we can't do that anymore.
And then calling for a Civil War. We had a Civil War in this country with over 700,000 Americans who were killed and for the President of the United States to be invoking it is beyond a dereliction of duty. It is an insult to the honored dead from those conflicts. It is an insult to American history and the responsibilities of that office and to the oath of office, which he took.
So I don't think -- you know, the campaign right now, the President's campaign is fundraising off some of this language. But this is not a President who is facing the pressure of impeachment, with anything like a presidential focus that we've come to expect. It's a total departure. And it really, really degrades the office.
BALDWIN: You here, just staying on, I think it was Jim, who was reporting that, you know, folks inside are standing by him, you know, believing that this sort of language is firing up his base, but he needs more than his base to get reelected.
AVLON: Yes, but the President has already said that he doesn't believe he needs to reach out to swing voters. They're going for an electoral vote strategy, not a popular vote strategy. You'll hear that folks and the campaign in the White House make that point over and over again.
The problem is that, at the end of the day, the President is about someone who can unite the American people. That's a core responsibility. FDR said it was primarily an office of -- a place of moral leadership. The President has given that mantle away.
So in trying to have a play to the base strategy, to divide to conquer the American people is so out of the American tradition and the basic responsibilities of the office as we've seen it. The President doesn't even seem to have a passing familiarity with that role as a national uniter. He is the divider in chief. He has embraced that at the detriment of our country.
BALDWIN: Abby Phillip, you cover this White House each and every day, your reaction to what we have heard thus far from the 45th President and what we should expect out of this news conference with the President of Finland.
ABBY PHILLIP, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: We're clearly in one of President Trump's many cycles of really devolving over pressures that are that he's facing as President and this is one of the things that White House aides and the President's advisers worried the most about, perhaps a less so even than the impeachment probe itself, but what the President does in response to it that only compounds his problems with swing voters.
And you know, John is right, the President's campaign is largely running to sort of energize his base, but they do recognize that he cannot fall too far with independent voters and with people who are in the middle of the political spectrum.
And this kind of behavior, what we saw in the Oval Office is one of the many things that turns those people off. It is a sort of erratic behavior that appears on social media and then in person in the White House itself in front of foreign leaders that creates the perception that the President is not in control of the situation.
What's been interesting also about how the White House is responding to this is that they've decided not to have a war room effort, something formally composed to deal with this inquiry. They've let the President handle it himself, which is exactly how they handled the Mueller probe, and they're taking this strategy this time around as well.
But in some ways, the Impeachment Inquiry that he is facing right now is a little bit different. It's moving a lot more quickly and it has the potential to get away from them very, very quickly.
PHILLIP: So we're waiting this week for the President's advisers to come up with some kind of response plan. But clearly, I think what we've seen today shows that one is direly needed, because with the President taking this into his own hands, it really does seem like things are more out of control than a White House that is comfortable with where they are would like to be.
BALDWIN: He believes he is his own best messenger. Right? And he's felt that way for a really long time. I hear you though, on the point about the war room. Guys, let's all stand by. We are about to hear from this President again today. What might he say next? Your guess is as good as mine. You're watching CNN. We'll be right back.
BALDWIN: We're back. You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin. You see those two podiums there in the White House. We are waiting to see President Trump and his counterpart from Finland step behind those podiums, and of course, they'll be taking questions. And of course, we'll be listening.
Let me kick off or continue this conversation until we see them with you, Gloria Borger. Let me talk to you. In the commercial break, I was just handed this piece of paper and this is the deal. This is from ABC News that Speaker Nancy Pelosi tells George Stephanopoulos that President Trump is quote unquote "scared" of the Impeachment Inquiry. You think she is trying to get under his skin?
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: I think she's already succeeded in getting under his skin. If you look at his little impromptu presser earlier this morning, I mean --
BALDWIN: He is live tweeting responding to her.
BORGER: Well, he is live tweeting responding to her, then his presser both laced with profanity, he seems to be in kind of a tailspin. And quite honestly, from a source I spoke with who is close to people in the White House, this source said to me, look, there's nobody in the White House now who can say no to the President.
They all just kind of get out of his way. There's nobody just stop him, put the brakes on, tell him you can't do that. You should not tweet that. This does not work for you because after all, it's worked for him in the past to a certain degree. And they just effectively get out of his way.
And this is, you know, Donald Trump unbound and what we're seeing and what he is tweeting is actually what he is saying. So it's the real Donald Trump.
BALDWIN: And when we listened to Adam Schiff earlier, I mean, basically, since the Democrats took over the House, the White House has stonewalled, right? Documents, subpoenas, you name it, but Schiff today basically putting the White House on notice saying, don't do it this time.
BORGER: Yes. He said, we're not fooling around here, though. And what he means is whatever they did with the Mueller report, they learned a lesson, which is they looked ineffectual and they let Corey Lewandowski go up there and make them look foolish, not answered their questions.
They didn't march him out of the committee, and they're not doing that anymore. They're playing hardball and they intend to see this through. Now, they are going to have fights over subpoenas. I don't know where that goes, does it go to the court? But he also said, look, you don't comply with us, it's going to become an obstruction charge as you were talking to Asha about earlier.
So this is going to become part of our complaint against you. So even if you take this to court, we're going to say to you this is going to be part of our reason that we want to impeach the President. BALDWIN: Speaking of our brilliant lawyer, Asha. Asha, let me ask
you this, as we wait to hear from the President, you know, also significant this morning is that the Secretary of State finally admitted that yes, indeed, he was on that Zelensky July 25th call after he was essentially caught.
RANGAPPA: Yes. He was being coy when he was asked about the allegations in the whistleblower complaint when he was asked about it earlier suggesting that he you know, kind of had no idea and meanwhile he knew exactly what had happened. And you know, remember that it was after that call also that decisions were made to put the transcript of that call as apparently they have done with other calls into a more restricted ...
BALDWIN: The vault is how we are calling it.
RANGAPPA: ... you know system -- the vault. And so you know, you also have to wonder whether he knew of that, was he a part of that decision as well?
I don't know what to say, Brooke. I mean, this is like, you know, the tentacles spreading to, you know, so many different departments in terms of being involved in this, I have to tell you, what I find incredibly shocking about this is that it took like one -- that there are so many people involved, and yet we're only hearing about this now from a single whistleblower, and that this may have just been continuing on and on indefinitely if that had not happened.
BALDWIN: Yes, and we know but we don't know a ton about it, and John, I'm going to direct this to you that the State Department Inspector General, you know, is on this urgent trip, urgent meeting behind closed doors up on Capitol Hill after basically Pompeo threatened to block any of this citing intimidation and bullying.
We don't know what this meeting is about. One could guess. We're not guessing. But what do you think of what could be going on?
AVLON: I think they're two things. First of all, Pompeo's letter itself was a classic of the administration's impulse to project and deflect by accusing, intimidation, and bullying. Let's listen to the President.
BALDWIN: Here we go.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Thank you very much. Thank you. Look at all the press that you attracted. Do you believe this? That's very impressive.
SAULI NIINISTO, PRESIDENT OF FINLAND: They are not after me.
TRUMP: I hope not. You're lucky. Thank you very much. Today, it's my honor to welcome President Niinisto of Finland to the White House, and Mr. President, it's wonderful to host you once again in Washington.
We've gotten to know each other over the last period of time, and it's been -- it's been a great experience.
The President and I have just concluded very productive discussions on a number of exciting opportunities for our two nations. Before going further, I want to express our deep condolences over the horrific stabbing attack that took place yesterday in a college in Finland. America is praying for the victims and their families and we send our unwavering love and support.
NIINISTO: Thank you.
TRUMP: The American and Finnish people are linked by an abiding commitment to self-government, individual rights, democracy, and the rule of law.
This past May, our country celebrated the 100th Anniversary of America's recognition of the independent nation of Finland in 1919. As President Wilson wrote at the time, our recognition was prompted by the sympathies for a cause similar to that which caused our own declaration of independence in 1776.
A century after we established diplomatic relations, the United States and Finland remain united by those same cherished values. Central to this effort as our nation's close cooperation on matters of security and defense. Although Finland is not a member of NATO -- you save a lot of money -- Finland participates in many NATO missions and exercises and I'm pleased that Finland is substantially increasing its military budget.
America and Finland are also working together to advance stability, freedom of navigation, and respect for national sovereignty in the Arctic.
Both of our nations are committed to a secure Arctic Region free from external intrusion, interference and coercion. Simply put, we believe that the affairs of the Arctic should be governed by the actual nations of the Arctic. And as you know, there are the people coming into the Arctic and we don't like it and we can't let it happen and we won't let it happen.
The United States and Finland are likewise partnering to ensure the security of 5G networks. It is critical that we use safe and trustworthy technology providers, components and supply chains.
We welcome the establishment of the OROS Innovation Center in Finland. Qualcomm has done a fantastic job with it. This Innovation Center will greatly expand American unfinished businesses and cooperation in 5G. We're also glad that the Finnish company, Nokia, it's a great company, a global leader in 5G technology is developing its cutting edge products right here in the United States at Bell Labs in New Jersey. Across the United States, foreign direct investment from Finland
totals over $10 billion. Each year, Finnish-owned companies invest more than $120 million in research and development in America and expand our exports by more than $1 billion.
Just today, Finnish Nokian Tyres opened a new manufacturing plant in Dayton, Tennessee, a $360 million investment that is creating hundreds of brand new beautiful jobs for a great state, Tennessee. We love Tennessee, so they made a wise choice. You never lose when you go to Tennessee.
I encourage other Finnish companies to increase their investments in the United States. There is simply never been a better time to do business in America. We have passed the largest tax cuts and reform and also regulation cuts in the history of our country.
We slashed business tax and we're fueling job growth through a record setting campaign to abolish all of those really terrible, unnecessary regulations. We have plenty of regulations but many of them we didn't need we got rid of them.