Return to Transcripts main page
Former Dallas Officer Found Guilty of Murder; Khashoggi's Fiancee Marks One Year since His Murder; State Department IG to Hold Briefing on Capitol Hill; Pompeo and Democrats Clash over Impeachment. Aired 6:30-7a ET
Aired October 2, 2019 - 06:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Former Dallas Police Officer Amber Guyger could spend the rest of her life in prison. She was found guilty of murdering her unarmed black neighbor inside his apartment.
CNN's Ed Lavandera is live in Dallas with more.
Does she find out her sentence today, Ed?
ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's possible she could find that out. She has spent her first night in jail after the shocking murder conviction that came down yesterday afternoon here in Dallas. Amber Guyger is now in the sentencing phase of this case.
Yesterday, we heard from Botham Jean's mother, who detailed how her life has become a roller coaster since the murder of her son. She detailed the philanthropic and charity work that Botham Jean had done here in the Dallas community. She really painted a picture of just how much she misses her son.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALLISON JEAN, BOTHAM JEAN'S MOTHER: My life has not been the same. It's just been like a roller coaster. I cannot sleep. I cannot eat. It's -- it's just been the most terrible time.
He died a few days before his 27th birthday.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LAVANDERA: Prosecutors also showed, Alisyn, rather offensive and racially tinged text messages and social media postings. That is something that if Amber Guyger does take the stand at some point today in her own defense again in the sentencing phase, she will have to answer to. So we're not really sure yet if she is going to take the stand again. Remember, she did testify for about three hours in the evidence phase of this trial. Amber Guyger faces anywhere between five years and life in prison.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: You're saying the jury made a clear and fairly quick assessment here as to guilt or innocence. We will see how that plays out in sentencing.
Ed Lavandera, thank you so much for your continued reporting on this story.
Happening now, the fiance of murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi is among those marking the first anniversary of his murder outside the Saudi consulate where he was killed in Istanbul. This as a new petition filed at the International Criminal Court calls for an investigation into the Saudi crown prince for crimes against humanity, including Khashoggi's murder.
CNN's Jomana Karadsheh live in Istanbul with the very latest.
JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John, just a short time ago, this memorial service began here outside the Saudi consulate to mark the exact hour a year ago when Jamal Khashoggi walked into that consulate to never emerge again.
Now, attending this ceremony are a number of his friends, some officials, activists and dissidents from the region. And we've also had an unannounced appearance by the owner of "The Washington Post," Jeff Bezos. And as you mentioned, also the fiancee of Jamal Khashoggi I expected to be one of the speakers at this event. As you recall, a year ago she was standing out here waiting for her fiancee as he walked in to try and obtain the paperwork that would allow them to get married. Instead, he was brutally killed and his body was dismembered.
And a year on, still, no sign of justice, and so many questions that remain unanswered. Some of these key questions. Where are the remains of Jamal Khashoggi and who ordered the killing? As we know, the CIA had concluded that it was the crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, who ordered the killing of Khashoggi. Something that Saudi Arabia has consistently denied. And we heard it again from the crown prince himself in that interview with "60 Minutes" over the weekend, saying he had nothing to do with it. But for the first time taking responsibility as the leader of the country.
And on this one-year anniversary, we're hearing renewed calls that there should be a further investigation into the role of the crown prince. As you mentioned, too, Washington lawyers in a petition that was obtained by CNN, these two lawyers drafted a petition on behalf of the National Interest Foundation that is a non-profit in Washington that is critical of U.S. policy in the region, calling on the International Criminal Courts chief prosecutor to investigate the crown prince of Saudi Arabia for his role here and also for other crimes against humanity.
But, as we have seen over the past year, despite the outrage, despite the outcry that we have seen, there's been little in terms of action to achieve justice. Alisyn. John.
CAMEROTA: All right, Jomana, thank you very much for that update.
So, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is set to face reporters overseas at any moment. There's the scene right now, getting ready for him. This as the impeachment battle heats up back here at home. So we will bring you that live, next.
CAMEROTA: All right, we are moments away from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaking in Rome. The State Department -- well, we should just let you know, we'll bring you that as soon as he says anything of relevance. And he might say a lot of things of relevance since his name is in the middle of what's happening with the impeachment inquiry.
But, meanwhile, the State Department's inspector general is asking for an urgent Ukraine briefing on Capitol Hill today. That sounds mysterious. We don't know why or what he wants to say to these congressional staffers, only that it is urgent.
Joining us now is CNN military and diplomatic analyst retired Rear Admiral John Kirby. He's the former State Department spokesperson and former Pentagon press secretary.
Admiral Kirby, great to have you.
REAR ADMIRAL JOHN KIRBY (RET.), CNN MILITARY AND DIPLOMATIC ANALYST: Thank you.
CAMEROTA: So here's what we know. It's described as, quote, highly unusual and cryptically worded --
CAMEROTA: The request from the State Department IG that he come today to speak with congressional staffers because he has an urgent matter.
What do you make of this?
KIRBY: Well, clearly, in my view, it has -- it's got to have something to do with -- with the documents in question here. I mean, remember what the committee's asked for. They subpoenaed -- they obviously wanted to depose some witnesses. But they also submitted directly to Secretary Pompeo for documents related to this Ukraine matter.
My guess is that Mr. Linick has some information about those documents. I don't know what that could be. Obviously we have to wait and see. But the fact that he labeled it as urgent, the fact that this request came on the same -- right before -- the day before Ambassador Volker is supposed to go be deposed tells me that it's clearly tied to that and probably document related. But, again, we'll have to wait and see.
BERMAN: So, admiral, explain to us exactly the role of the State Department inspector general. How independent is he from the secretary? And also just tell us about Steve Linick, because he was appointed during the Obama administration when you were in the State Department.
KIRBY: He was. He is a -- he's an incredibly honest man. Obviously very hard working, very diligent. He is a -- I think the American people can take pride in the fact that he is a very dedicated public servant and takes his job extraordinarily seriously. Secretary Kerry had great respect for Mr. Linick when he was secretary of state.
Look, he is a completely independent operator. That's the way the inspector general system is set up. Yes, he's appointed. In this case he was appointed by President Obama, so it's a political appointee, but he is not beholden to that party. He's not beholden to even the president that appointed him. He is beholden to the Constitution and to the roles and responsibilities of being an inspector general. He can be relieved, obviously, of his duties by the president. He serves at the pleasure of the president. But he doesn't have to -- he doesn't have to run past anything through Secretary Pompeo before he goes and talks to members of Congress about this.
CAMEROTA: So, John, tell us, just from your experience, obviously in the State Department, what of all of this, the phone call between President Trump and the Ukrainian president, Ambassador Volker, who is the special envoy to the Ukraine, abruptly resigning, the recall of the ambassador to Ukraine. What of this jumps out at you most?
KIRBY: To me it just -- it speaks of -- and I hate to use the word cover-up because I know we're -- you know, we ought to be sensitive about that, but it certainly speaks to a very concerted effort by the Trump administration, politically the political side of the Trump administration, to obscure the degree to which this president tried to exert political pressure on a foreign leader to investigate a domestic political opponent. And it, to me, it now, especially in the last couple of days, it certainly draws the State Department into this in a way that we just hadn't realized before.
When you look at Pompeo's letter, the multi-page letter to Chairman Engel, it's all process. There's no principle in this. It's all, here's why I can't help you or I can't help you as fast as you want. It's not, hey, this is not the right thing to investigate, you're wrong. He's never taken issue with that.
Even when he gave an evasive answer about the fact -- about the phone call, now we learned that he was actually on the call himself, he didn't -- when he was talking to Martha Raddatz a week or so ago, it was a very evasive answer. Not -- not disputing that the call took place, not disputing that he wasn't on it, just sort of evasively pulling himself out of it and saying, hey, well, look, I haven't seen the -- the whistleblower report. So there's just a lot of obfuscation going on. A lot of -- a lot of
trying to cloud up the issue here.
BERMAN: First of all, I think we may have the sound of that call. I'll let the control room look for that as I bring up the two figures who we do believe will speak to Congress over the next ten days.
The first is Kurt Volker, who was the special envoy to Ukraine dealing with issues there. Someone who used to be ambassador to NATO, a respected person in the diplomatic community.
BERMAN: He's talking. So despite Pompeo's efforts to keep people from talking, he quit last week.
BERMAN: And he feels no compunction to listen to the secretary, apparently.
What might he have to say or what's his perspective, do you think, in this whole mess?
KIRBY: He is also, like you said, John, very high respected. He's an honest broker. A career diplomat. A man very informed and knowledgeable about this part of the world.
I don't know for -- you know, for a fact why he resigned, but I would suspect it would be -- it wouldn't surprise me if he resigned as quickly as he did to exactly do this, to free himself up, to get himself out under the yolk of the State Department and Mike Pompeo and be able to talk to Congress as a private citizen and therefore be completely honest.
Now, what's he going to say? I don't know.
What -- what's going to be really interesting, John, is to see, to the degree to which it was push or pull with Giuliani, right?
Did he push Giuliani to make these contacts or was he pulling Giuliani along trying -- or was Giuliani pulling him along and sort of pushing Kurt into a situation that he was uncomfortable?
I've seen some speculation that perhaps he tried to saddle up to Giuliani, not because he was trying to help Giuliani do this work, but just so that he could keep tabs on Giuliani and be able to be informed about what conversations he was having and maybe steer those in a more constructive way. We just don't know. We're going to have to wait and see what he has to say.
CAMEROTA: OK. We have more questions for you, but, stick around, please, if you would, admiral --
KIRBY: You bet.
CAMEROTA: Because now to this story.
Prince Harry invoking his mother and revealing his deepest fear. So we have details for you about this update in a live report from Africa, next.
BERMAN: All right, we are waiting to hear from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. You're looking at live pictures from Rome. He will hold this briefing very shortly. We just don't know to what extent he will talk about what's going on in the United States right now. The impeachment inquiry that he is very much, very much in the middle of. He speaks this morning as the secretary of state but also as a potential witness in this impeachment investigation.
So joining us again, Admiral Kirby, John Kirby, who worked at the State Department as a spokesperson there, and John Avlon, CNN's senior political analyst.
And, John, I want to start with you on the idea of Mike Pompeo, one of the president's men here, very much in the spotlight. He now, we know, because of the reporting, he was on the phone call when the president leaned on the Ukrainian president to dig up dirt on Joe Biden. We know that he obfuscated when asked by Martha Raddatz about it.
JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: That's a polite word for it.
BERMAN: We know that he's trying to keep State Department officials from talking to Congress over the next few days. And we know that he's about to talk out loud in Rome.
What do you expect to hear from him?
AVLON: Look, I think he'll probably be trying to stick -- we'll hear him in a second -- to sort of the State Department line.
The problem is he is in the middle of this. The pushback to accountability and transparency is stunning. The language Pompeo's using about intimidation and bullying is a classic example of the administration's impact to project and deflect because that's, of course, what the president, frankly, has been doing to the whistleblower in this entire inquiry.
So this is a secretary of state who's caught in the middle of a growing scandal. And the fact that the inspector general does not report to him is going to be causing Mike Pompeo a lot of anxiety.
BERMAN: You say caught. It's either caught and/or put himself there.
AVLON: Yes. I think both can be true.
AVLON: This is part of the problem of a cabinet that acts as enablers to the president's worst instinct to secure their own jobs.
CAMEROTA: Admiral Kirby, we're watching Secretary of State Mike Pompeo take the podium. We are also listening in and we will bring it to our viewers whenever he says anything of relevance.
But I have a basic question for you, Admiral, is there anything wrong with the secretary of state being on the phone call in general with the Ukrainian president and President Trump? Are -- is the secretary of state often listening in on phone calls generally in the administration when you worked for phone calls like that between leaders?
KIRBY: It varies from president to president and call to call. I don't know how many times Secretary Kerry was on the phone when President Obama made a call. I know he was -- that it happened from time to time depending on the importance of the call and the leader in question and what was going on with or in that particular nation. So I'm not particularly troubled by the fact that he was on this call with Ukraine. It is not uncommon for the secretary of state to once in a while to listen in.
What's really strange is the way he has tried to sort of cover up the fact that he actually did participate or not be completely honest about that.
CAMEROTA: Well --
KIRBY: That tells you -- I mean that, to me, that's a red flag that there's -- you know, clearly there were concerns about this call that even he might be uncomfortable with.
CAMEROTA: I think we have that moment with Martha Raddatz that I think is worth playing again, because, again, if this was commonplace, if this is a common practice in the State Department where sometimes the secretary of state listens in on these calls when they're relevant, then why this answer? Listen to this moment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARTHA RADDATZ, ABC NEWS: What do you know about those conversations?
MIKE POMPEO, SECRETARY OF STATE: So you just gave me a report about a IC whistleblower complaint, none of which I've seen.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: It gets weirder each time you listen to it, actually, Admiral.
KIRBY: Yes. I mean her question was, what do you know about these conversations? Not, hey, what do you know about the IC whistleblower complaint. He just deflected and spun, which is a tactic certainly in my former profession I'm familiar with. If you don't like the question, you give -- you provide a different kind of answer.
CAMEROTA: Yes, but I mean --
KIRBY: He clearly didn't want to go there.
CAMEROTA: Yes, but, again, why isn't the answer, yes, I was on that phone call. I am routinely on these phone calls.
CAMEROTA: Nothing untoward happened.
KIRBY: I suspect it's because he knows how serious this call is and he probably knew about the voracity. If he hadn't even read the whistleblower complaint, he certainly knew about the voracity of the central allegation, which was that there was put -- pressure put by Trump on President Zelensky. That's why I think he was just trying to spin his way out of that.
AVLON: Yes, the answer is self-evident, he's trying to hide something.
AVLON: Remember, that report, in the initial report had been out more than 24 hours in the papers, you know, so it's not like the secretary of state wasn't aware of the issue.
KIRBY: That's exactly right.
AVLON: He just -- he Heisman-ed (ph) it because he didn't want to deal with it because he knows there's trouble there.
BERMAN: That's a -- it's a dishonest answer.
AVLON: OF course. Yes.
BERMAN: Pure and simple. The answer to the question is, what do you know about this call is, I know a lot because I listened to the whole damn thing. That's the actual honest answer. What he did was obfuscate and spin at best there. It really is very interesting to hear that again. And, once again, he -- that is why he finds himself in the middle of this investigation and a potential fact witness to this investigation.
Admiral Kirby, Congress did something interesting yesterday. They wrote a letter to the deputy secretary of state saying, you know what, the secretary's got a problem here. The secretary's got a conflict of interest here and the suggestion is you might have to deal with this. What did you make of that letter?
KIRBY: Yes, very interesting. They went right to John Sullivan, the deputy, not going through Pompeo, which is itself just a message about how -- how strongly they think he is now no longer credible in terms of a conduit to the State Department because of this perceived conflict of interest. I'm not a lawyer, so I don't know whether, you know, to the degree
there is technically a conflict of interest here. I mean he is the secretary of state, so he is the agent responsible for providing these documents and for making available these witnesses. But, clearly, they're making a very strong statement that because of his participation on the call, because he hasn't been honest about that, that he does have potential conflicts of interest here. We'll have to see how that plays out.
CAMEROTA: Admiral Kirby, I have another basic question.
CAMEROTA: Because Kurt Volker, tomorrow, is going to be deposed on Capitol Hill. I mean you've talk about -- meanwhile I'll just put up what we know about Kurt Volker. He resigned, as we know, somewhat abruptly, as the special envoy to Ukraine. He is mentioned repeatedly in the whistleblower complaint. He's also mentioned on that phone call between the president of Ukraine and President Trump. He is the person who connected Rudy Giuliani with Zelensky's adviser. And he's the executive director of -- at ASU of the McCain Institute.
So is there anything wrong with him connecting President Zelensky's adviser with Rudy Giuliani since we heard President Zelensky, on the phone call with President Trump, say that's what he wanted to do, what he wanted to have happen?
KIRBY: I think what -- so there's a lot there, Alisyn. I mean we don't know how much pressure Volker felt by the White House to make these connections and whether he did it really begrudgingly and only because he had to, maybe he fought back and was -- and was -- and was ordered to do it. We don't know how much context Volker had about these connections and what Giuliani really was trying to do. I think he -- I'm sure he understood the essential element that he was trying to dig up dirt on Biden, but how much did Volker really know?
So it's troubling when I see that a career foreign service officer like him, a man known for his integrity, actually helped facilitate some of these conversations. But that did -- that's why we need to see exactly what he's going to say about the context around that.
And back to what I said about whether he was pushing Giuliani to do this or whether he was simply trying to pull information from Giuliani so that to keep Giuliani from causing more damage than he might have already have done. So it's really about the context here.
It is troubling that the connections were made, but I think we need to know a lot more about how -- what kind of pressure Volker was under and what exactly was the nature of the communication with Giuliani before we can rush to judgement on Volker's integrity here.
AVLON: That's right. And, look, I think Volker, you know, being the director of the McCain Institute, is an example of a conacadre (ph) of folks who are trying to work within the context of this administration to make sure the national interest is being pursued. The problem is they keep running into the winds of the president's overwhelming self- interest and they're trying to contain that. You're going to deal with the president's lawyer who's been inserted in the middle of Ukraine, who has contacts in the Ukraine going well back. And the fact that he resigned when this came up presumably will also free him to tell the truth fully when he comes and testifies.
BERMAN: But the issue isn't the what. It's not the conversation between Giuliani and Zelensky that didn't happen, it's the why. It's the why. And there's all kinds of reporting over the last few months that Zelensky wanted to talk to Giuliani to figure out what the heck it was that Giuliani kept saying. And Giuliani, among other things, was being critical of Zelensky and there's reporting that Zelensky wanted him to stop being critical so he wanted to say, hey, pal, stop it.
And then there's reporting that Volker wanted to mitigate the situation here. You have this guy, Giuliani, running his own diplomatic operation here and he wanted to figure out a way to contain it according to some of the reporting there. So it's -- again, it's not the what, it's the why. And we'll see how much of that Volker answers tomorrow.
CAMEROTA: Well, sort of, except it's behind closed doors.
BERMAN: Right. But Congress -- well, Congress will see.
CAMEROTA: Yes, Congress will see.
BERMAN: Yes, I'll -- let me rephrase that, we may not see but Congress will see.
CAMEROTA: We may have to wait for these answers.
AVLON: (INAUDIBLE) on this.
BERMAN: We should note, Mike Pompeo, right now, is giving an opening statement. It's being translated into Italian. We have been told he will take a couple of questions. Who gets to ask those questions? Will they be about Italian domestic policy? Or will they be about the impeachment investigation? We just don't know.
CAMEROTA: OK. So should we press on? Do we have more time to talk to -- I have a million more questions.
BERMAN: We're taking it all the way to the top of the hour.
CAMEROTA: I have a million more questions for Admiral Kirby. How much time do I have?
All right, here's may next -- here's my next question. Marie Yovanovitch, OK --
CAMEROTA: Who will also be deposed next week, we now know, she was the ambassador who was recalled under, I guess, curious circumstances. She became the U.S. ambassador to the Ukraine in 2016. She called on the Ukrainian government to do more to fight corruption. She unexpectedly was recalled from her post in May. She joined the diplomatic corps in 1986.
So, Admiral Kirby, what you hear Zelensky say to President Trump in that famous phone call on July 25th is that he felt that she supported Poroshenko. He felt she supported the president that he ran against, his predecessor, and that she was not a fan of his.
CAMEROTA: That's why he didn't like her.
What do you know?
KIRBY: Well, all we've heard is that also Zelensky didn't really have many direct relations with her at all. That Zelensky was surmising this from what people were telling him. Some of his own political allies and maybe even some people in the Trump administration. So we're not really sure how much Zelensky knew or could prove that she was operating against him.
But I can tell you, I've worked with her when she was at the State Department. Again, a woman of tremendous integrity, vast knowledge of the region, certainly was the right person to send over there because she just had so much experience in that part of the world. And I would be shocked, quite frankly just shocked, if she was doing anything inappropriate or other than just pursuing U.S. national security interests over there, just wasn't her style. So I don't buy the argument that she was supporting one candidate over another. We were very religious in the Obama administration at never getting involved in domestic politics whatsoever. That -- so I just don't -- I don't find any validity there based on my experience with her.
BERMAN: All right --
CAMEROTA: That's really helpful.
BERMAN: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is taking questions right now.
Here's what we're going to do. Let's reset at the top of the hour. We'll bring you more of this news conference in just a second.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.