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Trump Repeats Attacks on Schiff, Pelosi, and Whistleblower; Trump: Only "Legitimate" Whistleblower Should Be Protected. Aired 12:30-1p ET
Aired October 2, 2019 - 12:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[12:30:00] KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: -- an incorrect number we should note. The president said get a better candidate, this time you'll need it.
What you were seeing there quoting the president on his own Twitter feed is really, John, an insight into what people are telling us behind the scenes just how frustrated the president is, how he's trying to frame this that Democrats are going to do anything else except try to impeach him. Something you saw Democrats try to push back on in that press conference earlier today when they came out talking about essentially everything else under the sun before they got to this impeachment inquiry that is focused against the president and clearly the president is agitated by it and he's making that obvious in the Oval Office.
JOHN KING, CNN HOST: Agitated might be an understatement. Kaitlan Collins is live for us outside of the White House. Appreciate it.
Let's come into the room. Look, there are a lot of facts that are going to be in dispute here for weeks and months. There's a lot. There will be a lot of debates about does it reach the bar of impeachment or is it, you know, just bad, just wrong. Some of the things the president and did. But what I'm going to say is indisputable is the fact that these attacks on the whistleblower are dangerous especially from anybody but especially from the president of the United States sitting in the Oval Office.
We depend on people in government to raise their hands when they see things that they believe are wrong. Now, maybe sometimes they file a complaint and we prove the facts are otherwise. But for the president to be attacking this person and saying anyone who cooperated with this person, gave this person information is a spy, the president -- not only is that dangerous but the president is sending a signal there. There could be other people who might want to raise their hand right now and the president is sending a signal, don't dare.
ASMA KHALID, POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, NPR: But John, to your point, I mean, one of the 2020 Democratic presidential candidates Kamala Harris has explicitly called for Twitter to suspend his account and really publicly sort of, you know, made this pitch of hers. And we heard from the White House earlier today, they told us that they thought that was rather authoritarian of Kamala Harris and that in many ways they, you know, defended his use of Twitter, praising the fact that he takes his opinions directly to the public and that he shouldn't be criticized for doing that.
I mean, to me, what's been fascinating is in the sort of broader poll of public opinion amongst Republicans and we could look at his fund- raising numbers from yesterday which were astronomical. There just doesn't really seem to be cracks in that broader Republican public opinion.
KING: And Kaitlan made the point that he seems more agitated than normal today. I think that they are -- I think he is becoming more and more aware of the fact that this impeachment inquiry is real. But as we discussed at the top of the show, he also watched the speaker of the House who gets under his skin. We have seen this on Pelosi issues in the past, on the Mueller investigation in the past and now on impeachment.
And here's what she had to say. The president is talking about the whistleblower. We'll play you the tape when we get it in, talking (INAUDIBLE) about the whistleblower. Here's what the speaker said just a short time ago on the same subject.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): The Intelligence Community recognizes the importance of whistleblowers. Protecting whistleblowers who see wrongdoing of any kind in our government is essential. The president probably doesn't realize how dangerous his statements are when he says he wants to expose who the whistleblower is and those who may have given the whistleblower that information.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VIVIAN SALAMA, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: Leaks have long been an issue that gets under the president's skin since the day he took office, but certainly this particular incident with this whistleblower where an impeachment inquiry was triggered, it's on another level for him. And we hear from aides inside the White House that this is something that he's stewing over in private. He's talking about ways to try to find out if we can find the identity. He makes those comments public. He wants to know who this person is and anyone who helped him is collateral damage as well.
SEUNG MIN KIM, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: And it's not just Pelosi saying this even though that was one of the more recent comments yesterday. Chuck Grassley's statements yesterday were very significant. And while he didn't explicitly name the president in his statement, the intention was clear.
Now, there aren't that many more Republicans speaking out and defending the whistleblower. And remember, the acting DNI also made this case too that defending the act of the whistleblower himself. Perhaps when Congress is back in session, Republicans are back on Capitol Hill, they'll be more outspoken in terms of this whole situation and protecting the whistleblower's identity. But right now, I mean, Grassley seems to be a lone voice. KING: And anyone who criticizes the president gets -- if you're the whistleblower, you're a partisan hack or you're not to be trusted or you're a spy. If you're Adam Schiff, you're treasonous, all the pattern up there.
Up next, we're waiting to hear from the president directly. We'll play that tape when it comes into us. He's in -- with -- in the -- sorry, in the White House in the Oval Office with the Finnish president.
And we also have some economic concerns playing out today in the financial markets.
[12:36:25] KING: Taking you straight to the Oval Office. The president of the United States with his Finnish counterpart.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: -- things to discuss including trade and military and purchases and a lot of different very exciting events. So we'll have a long time together today. We'll then be having lunch. I think we're going to be seeing the media right afterward and say a few words. But it's an honor, Mr. President, to have you with us. Thank you.
SAULI NIINISTO, FINNISH PRESIDENT: Thank you. Thank you very much. I'm waiting for our discussions.
TRUMP: Yes, yes. See, he's a man of few words and he gets it done. That's what I like about him. Anyway, OK. Thank you all very much.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: President Trump, how are you responding (INAUDIBLE) that you are putting the whistleblower's life in danger?
TRUMP: Well, the whistleblower is very inaccurate. The whistleblower started this whole thing by writing a report on the conversation I had with the president of Ukraine and the conversation was perfect. It couldn't have been nicer. I saw Rick Scott, I saw many of the senators talking about it, many of the congressmen talk about it. 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. He made it up, every word of it made up and read it to Congress as though I said it. And I'll tell you what, he should be forced to resign from Congress, Adam Schiff. He's a low life. He should be forced to resign.
He took a perfect conversation, realized he couldn't read it to Congress because it was a very nice conversation. I knew many people were on the phone. Not only were many people on the phone, we had stenographers on the phone taking it down word for word. He took that conversation which was perfect. He said, I can't read this, so he made up a conversation and he reported it and said it to Congress and to the American people and it was horrible what he said and that was supposed to be coming from me, but it was all fabricated. He should resign from office in disgrace. And frankly, they should look at him for treason because he is making up the words of the president of the United States. Not only words but the meaning and it's a disgrace. It should not be allowed to happen.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Your own DNI said the content was complicit with the complaint so should --
TRUMP: No, no, he didn't say that. You have to take a look. No, no, no, he did not say that. And in fact, if you look at what he said, he found everything to be very normal. He's a good man, and Joe and he found it to be very normal. I saw Schiff trying to (INAUDIBLE) you know, call him shifty Schiff. We don't call him shifty Schiff for nothing. He's a shifty dishonest guy, who by the way was critical of one of the great secretary of states, graduated number one in his class at West Point, graduated one of the tops of his class at Harvard Law School, the most honorable person, Mike Pompeo. And this guy was negative on 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 said it was so terrible to say. But that guy couldn't carry his blank strap. Understand that?
So you're dealing with bad people. And, you know, I watched China over the last few days and I watched some of these other countries build up, build up, build up and we built up more than any of them because of me but no help due to the Democrats. They're a disaster. They're 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, and everyone knows, the conversation -- all based on one phone call that I had where I'm talking to the president of Ukraine -- you'll hear from our ambassadors, you'll hear from some of the folks that know all about the call why the call was set up and everything else. It's perfect.
[12:40:14] The call was perfect. In fact, Lindsey Graham said I didn't know you could be so nice. There was no quid pro quo. Remember, before they said -- the only reason I put that out and I did it with the approval of Ukraine by the way, otherwise, I couldn't have done it, was because the whistleblower was so dishonest. The whistleblower said terrible things about the call but I then found out he was secondhand and third hand. In other words, he didn't know what was on the call. No.
These are bad people, these are dishonest people. And when the American people find out what happened it's going to be a great day. And you know what? We have to go back to building our country because 99 percent of Nancy Pelosi's time is spent on this. She should worry about lowering the price of drugs which I've done. But it's hard to do it without the help of Congress, about creating border security, which I've done. We built -- we now have hundreds of miles of wall under construction on the southern border. She should worry about infrastructure. She should worry about the USMCA. She's not doing it.
I just saw part of the press conference before the president came -- and I'm sorry to bother you with this, Mr. President because we have other things to talk about but I will tell you, I just watched a part, she says oh drug prices. Well, she's been trying to get drug prices down for how long has she been in Congress, for years. She should focus on her own district. Do you see what's happening to her district? We call it tent city. It's terrible.
In fact, we just sent a violation to the city of San Francisco, unsafe water, unsafe conditions, environmental EPA, our EPA which is doing a great job is sending Nancy Pelosi with all the talk about EPA, there's needles and drugs all over the street, there's tents, there's people that are dying in squalor in the best location in San Francisco. It used to be a great city.
Now you have to see what's happened to San Francisco. You happen to see what the Democrats have allowed to happen as an example. What they've allowed to happen, just take a look at Los Angeles, great cities. One other thing, yesterday as you know I was sued by Governor Gavin Newsom, he's another beauty, I was sued by him, he's a do- nothing, sued by him so that I can't get on the ballot in the state of California.
It was a massive story. It was the biggest story, Mr. President. It was headlines all over the place. Trump gets sued but this do-nothing governor in California. It was big. Here's what happened. Yesterday I won the case very convincingly, a very tough, smart highly respected judge, not a Trump person at all, not appointed by Trump, appointed by somebody that you would call the opposition, came out with a scathing and tough opinion. I won the case. I didn't see one story that I won that case. Not one story from the fake news. I didn't see Steve write it, I didn't see you write it, I didn't see anybody write it.
So let me just tell you just to finish, Nancy Pelosi and shifty Schiff who should resign in disgrace by the way, and Jerry Nadler and all of them, it's a disgrace what's going on and we should be focused on making America great again and keeping America great because that's what we have to do. And when I look at that parade with military and millions of people and everything else, we better get smart. We better start focusing on the right things because of what they did with this nonsense. Think of it, you have a perfect -- I mean, perfect conversation with a president of another country, Ukraine in this case, and they try and say, oh, let's impeach him. They've been trying to impeach me from the day I got elected. I've been going through this for three years. They've been trying to impeach me from the day I got elected. You know what? They failed.
This is the easiest one of all because this one is based on one conversation. What about Obama's conversation with the president of Russia where he says, hey, hey, tell Vlad I'll talk to him after the election is over. Nobody reports that, right? That's stuff you should report. But you people should be ashamed of yourself. We have the most dishonest media that you can imagine and you should be ashamed of yourself.
OK, I think I've answered most of your questions. What do you think?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Finland is the happiest country in the world. What can you learn from Finland?
TRUMP: Well, if you got rid of Pelosi and you got rid of shifty Schiff.
[12:45:01] Finland is a happy country. He's a happy leader too.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you going to cooperate --
TRUMP: No Republicans have raised concerns.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- that the identity of the whistleblower should be protected?
TRUMP: I don't care. Look, I think a whistleblower should be protected if the whistleblower is legitimate. But when the whistleblower makes a big report on the conversation I had with a president of Ukraine and it was a great conversation. We talked mostly about congratulations on your win. We talked about corruption and we're really referring mostly to 2016 because what the Democrats did in 2016 was corrupt. And let's see what happens. They're more concerned with that than they are with me and impeachment. They're trying to hide what maybe is coming. I let our great -- if you look, I let our great law enforcement take care of it, OK?
Attorney General Barr, I guess is working on it. I hope he's working on it because what happened in 2016 is a disgrace to this country. And they're more worried about that because they know they're guilty as hell, all right? They're much more worried about that.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The whistleblower immediately illegitimate if they are reporting misconduct act about you, sir?
TRUMP: OK, are you ready? I heard the whistleblower's report from you people and how bad it was, about just a simple conversation. By the way, this whole thing revolves about a simple conversation. And if you remember at the beginning, it was quid pro quo. That's all you heard about. And I think he said seven or eight times quid pro -- in other words you're going to do that or we're not going to give you money. You're going to do this or we're not going to -- I never said it.
But when I heard these horrible stories come out, I had no choice but to release a conversation which I hate to do and I hope I don't have to do it again with the leader of a country. I asked a certain person to call up a certain person in that country to get permission to do it. Otherwise, I wouldn't have been able to do it. And if I didn't do it and I appreciate Ukraine for allowing us to release the conversation but it was so innocent it didn't hurt them. If anything, it helped them because it was a very innocent conversation. But when a whistleblower takes a very nice innocent -- Lindsey Graham said I never knew you were that nice a person. He said you never asked him for anything, you were really, really nice. Lindsey said I never knew you were so nice. That was a perfect conversation.
I heard Rick Scott today say that was a perfect conversation. How can they impeach him on that conversation? He read it. He's a very smart guy from Florida, Rick Scott. And he said that was a perfect conversation how can you impeach him by doing that conversation. But the whistleblower wrote not that conversation. He wrote a vicious conversation. In other words, he either got it totally wrong, made it up or the person giving the information to the whistleblower was dishonest. And this country has to find out who that person was because that person is a spy in my opinion. You ready?
So when a whistleblower purposely or not gives something that's totally erroneous -- now, here's where I fooled them. They never thought I'd release the conversation. They never thought in a million years that I'd release the conversation. When little Adam Schiff saw the text, when he read it, he couldn't believe it. When Nancy Pelosi, who worked a day early, Nancy Pelosi called for essentially impeachment. Let's impeach the president. Before she saw the transcript -- and this is an exact word for word transcript of the conversation, right, taken by very talented stenographers. Listen to me. So when she saw that, she was -- I heard she went crazy. She said we can't impeach him with this conversation, that's a great conversation. She went by the whistleblower. And the whistleblower was so bad, I would even think about it.
But here's what happened. The whistleblower was wrong. The only thing that matters is the transcript of the actual conversation that I had with the president of Ukraine. It was perfect. We're looking at congratulations, we're looking at doing things together, and what do we looking at, we're looking at corruption. And I believe in 1999 there was a corruption act or a corruption bill passed between both countries where I have a duty to report corruption. And let me tell you something. Biden's son is corrupt and Biden is corrupt. And I'd rather run against Biden than almost any of those candidates. And I think they'll all weak but I think Biden has never been a smart guy and he's less smart now than he ever was.
Thank you very much. Thank you.
[12:50:01] TRUMP: Let me do that again. It's a fair question. So this morning and last night my comms people came to me. Listen to this one, president. I'm glad they're interested in Finland. I'm interested in Finland much more. But my comms people came to me and they said, sir, there's a book or something being written. It's written by Washington Post people so you know it's inaccurate. You know it's probably a fraud. So two reporters of the Washington -- and they said, President Trump started screaming, ranting, and raving that on the southern border where we are right now building a tremendous wall -- it's unbelievable what's going -- Army Corps of Engineers -- we're doing a lot. We have -- we'll soon have over 100 miles under construction completed. We're going to end up with 400 to 500 miles. OK, ready?
That I wanted a wall but I wanted a moat, a moat, whatever that is. Not a word I use but they use it, a moat. And in the moat, I wanted alligators and snakes and I wanted the wall to be a fence and I wanted it to be electrified and I wanted sharp spikes at the top so if anyone gets it, it goes piercing through their skin is somewhat the way they said it. Skin piercing spikes. But I want that whole wall to be electrocuted. And sir, you never said that. They came to me, the comms people. They came to me yesterday and they said, did you say this? I said why are you asking that stupid question? Because the fake news media is saying that you said this in a book. I said what book? They said Washington Post. I said well obviously it's fake because almost everything the Washington Post does is fake. It's a fake newspaper. It's owned by a rich guy for the purposes of giving him power in Washington. It's really -- I mean, it's a lobbyist. I call it the lobbyist Washington Post for Amazon and he ought to be ashamed of himself because what they do to his reputation -- I think maybe it's probably no good anyway but what they do to his representation with the Washington Post is a disgrace.
So these two reporters wrote this book and they said I wanted a moat with alligators, snakes, electrified fences so people get electrocuted if (INAUDIBLE) has touched the fence and spikes on top. Never said it, never thought of it, and I actually put something out on social media today. I said I'm tough on the border but I'm not that tough. OK, it was a lie. You asked the question. It was a total lie. It was corrupt reporting, OK? I don't even use fake anymore.
I call the fake news now corrupt news because fake isn't tough enough. And I'm the one that came up with the term. I'm very proud of it. But I think I'm going to switch it largely to corrupt news because of the media in this country -- not everybody. We have some great reporters, some great journalists but much of it is corrupt. It's corrupt, you have corrupt media in this country and it truly is the enemy of the people.
Thank you very much. Thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Will you release the transcript, sir?
TRUMP: Thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thanks, everybody.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Press, we're leaving now, thank you.
TRUMP: Thank you very much.
KING: You're watching the president of the United States, a lengthy discussion with reporters there in the Oval Office. One of the challenges covering this president especially in the time of an impeachment inquiry is, it's a sad statement but a true statement, the president constantly and repeatedly lies including in that session you just saw right there.
At the end, he was attacking two very professional New York Times reporters who just wrote a very good book on immigration. The president is questioning that. He cooperated with that book. He sat down for an interview with the two reporters now he's trashing that book.
I want to come back to the substance of other things. So at the very top of it, he was talking about how the whistleblower gave a very inaccurate description of his call with the president of Ukraine in the whistleblower complaint. The president himself released the transcript. The whistleblower complaint is public and it's not a transcript, it's a memo. It's a rough transcript you might call it.
But take the whistleblower complaint, match it up to this, the whistleblower got it spot on. The president also said when he was reminded that his own director of national intelligence, acting director, said the whistleblower got it right, said that the description of the call tracks what is in this White House memo. The president of the United States saying he did not say that. Yes, he did.
That's one of the challenges here. The president is talking to his base and the Republican Party and he's trying to tell them it's not Wednesday. That is one of the challenges as you cover this story and you try to be fair to the president, is that some of what he says, this is his transcript. He released it. The words are right here for anybody to read including he says there's no quid pro quo. That's a definition you can leave to the lawyers.
The president of Ukraine, we're almost ready to buy more javelins from the United States for defense purposes. The president of the United States, I would like you to do us a favor, though. And he goes on to ask about 2016 and then Joe Biden.
SALAMA: That's why it's so important for people to actually take a few minutes to read the transcript, to read the whistleblower complaint and basically determine on their own.
[12:55:07] This was released by the White House and so, you know, don't take our word for it if you don't want to. If you believe the president's account, just go and take a look at the transcript and see.
The other interesting thing is that he's trying to basically narrow this down into just one element of this bigger what he calls a witch hunt and saying that this started from the day I entered office, the Democrats have been out to get me and this is just one more piece of the puzzle. And so he's trying to say you know what, in his words, exonerated -- he's constantly saying he's exonerated by Mueller. I was exonerated in the Mueller investigation and so this is just another part of that and you'll see that it will work out. But, A lot of people around him are much more nervous this time around.
KIM: And your point about speaking to his base is so important because it's not just this issue. He speaks, he creates this kind of alternate reality or universe that his supporters pick up on. I mean, think of how many times we've had to fact check him on, for example, his poll numbers. And he inflates what his approval ratings are. He talks constantly about the hundreds of miles of fencing and the wall that's going up in the southern border when his own administration says it's only refurbishing the fencing the fencing that already there and he has -- it has not gone any further. He just constantly kind of creates this alternate universe that a lot of his supporters -- KHALID: And usually it's somewhat difficult to maybe fact check
what's happening at the border. I think to your point, Vivian, it is remarkably easy to read the summary and transcript for anybody who wants to.
KING: And to the point of, you know, about the border though, I'm not going to go into every detail, what the president basically said, I never talked about spikes on the wall. Actually, there's a videotape of him talking about spikes on the wall and other things that were discussed there. But please.
OLIVIER KNOX, CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, SIRIUSXM: You know, we kind of hung up on the idea of whether there's not a White House war room to respond to a lot of this stuff. There is a war room, it's called the campaign. The campaign has been pushing out Facebook ads, hundreds if not thousands of Facebook ads. Stuff that we don't necessarily track as closely as the president in the Oval Office.
And so a big part of --
KING: I've learned that some of them -- forgive me for interrupting, but they're full of lies too.
KNOX: But I think -- fair. But the point I'm trying to make is you've got to look at the overlap of what he's saying in the Oval and what he's saying to his base -- what he's directly saying to his base via Facebook ads. I think it's really interesting that we've seen this evolution from I didn't do it to if I did it, it's fine and normal to now back to I didn't actually do these things that, you know, again -- and this is as close by -- this is as close as to a transcript as you're going to get about the president's phone call.
They now use voice recognition -- or they've used to use voice recognition software to generate as close as possible to a transcript. We have it. I mean, it goes to Pompeo's comments earlier about of all we talked about was, you know, Russia and pushing back. Do they know we have the conversation now, guys?
KING: This is the administration who brought us the term alternative facts. They just want to sometimes pretend that this is their own document.
To the other point earlier, I think it was about 18 minutes with reporters in there. He said Adam Schiff he believes has committed treason. Adam Schiff should be forced to resign. Adam Schiff did at the beginning of the big hearing the other day exaggerate, give what he called a parody version of this call where he essentially pretended to be a mob boss and trying to intimidate somebody. And a lot of Democrats think that was a mistake by Chairman Schiff because if the Democrats were trying to convince Trump voters and independents this is a serious inquiry about the facts, nothing about as funny, nobody should have parity.
But he said that Adam Schiff should be forced to resign because he said something that was not true, sitting in the Oval Office -- if that's the standard, you should resign if you say something that is not true. Birther, 6 million people voted illegally. I could go on.
KIM: I mean, we have -- I mean, our fact-checker at the Post is kept very busy all the time checking his facts. But -- I mean -- and this goes to another point too that the president has-- I mean, for someone who has always had a very strong rhetoric, it really has escalated in the last couple of days because now we're -- he is, you know, very easily throwing out the word treason. He's talked about a civil war. He's talked about a coup. And this is rhetoric that should be clearly very alarming for the situation that we're in.
SALAMA: And he's not using it to -- exclusively today, we saw him at the U.S. mission to the United Nations last week using the exact same language, saying anyone who helps a whistleblower or anyone else who basically leak information about any of his conversations is treasonous and a spy. And so this is obviously becoming part of his rhetoric that he's going to use to combat this issue.
KING: I just -- he said at one point, totally erroneous, he said about the whistleblower report. Again, two things that we've been able to track, a, the characterization of the Ukraine call and the whistleblower saying that they used the secret server, the top-secret server for these documents. The White House it's president's own transcript which he released confirmed parts of the whistleblower. The president's own lawyers in confirming that's what they've done, have confirmed other parts of the whistleblower. The president says he's totally inaccurate.
KHALID: Yes. I mean, I don't know what else there is to say. I mean, it's remarkably easy to assess things. I mean, he seems stuck on this idea of a quid pro quo. I mean, you can read the documents and see maybe there's a missing verb. But I think anybody who's ever really looked into like diplomatic relationships between any country knows that the United States and Ukraine are not on equal footing. There's not really.
KING: And to an important point made earlier, this is one phone call. This went on for months. There was a previous phone call between the presidents. There were a lot of Rudy Giuliani meetings. There are all those things we don't know about. We will find out eventually one hopes.
Thanks for joining us in the INSIDE POLITICS --