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Dems Threaten to Subpoena White House as Trump Rages; Trump's Ukraine Mess Leads to Anxiety in Pence World; Sen. Bernie Sanders Cancels Campaign Events After Heart Procedure. Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired October 3, 2019 - 07:00   ET



ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: -- another defining moment in Donald Trump's presidency. In just hours, the first witness will answer questions by lawmakers about the president's Ukraine dealings.

[07:00:12] Kurt Volker, a long-time foreign policy expert for all different administrations, he quit last week as the U.S. special envoy to Ukraine. Why? He is mentioned repeatedly in the whistle-blower complaint that led to the impeachment inquiry. So we will soon learn what he knows about attempts by President Trump and Rudy Giuliani to pressure Ukraine to dig up dirt on Joe Biden.

Tomorrow, House Democrats plan to subpoena the White House if documents related to Ukraine are not turned over. And they're also making this threat. If the administration does not comply, that itself could end up as an article of impeachment, much like it was with Richard Nixon.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: We could hear from the president this morning as he heads to a Bill-signing ceremony. He could not contain his rage. Just yesterday he was swearing all over Twitter. He was telling provable lies with the president of Finland sitting by his side. And bullying a reporting who would not let him dodge one of the central questions of the impeachment investigation.


JEFF MASON, REPORTER, REUTERS: The question, sir, was what did you want President Zelensky to do about Vice President Biden and his son Hunter?


MASON: Yes, it was a follow-up of what I just asked you.

TRUMP: Listen. Listen, you ready? We have the president of Finland. Ask him a question.

MASON: I have one for him. I just wanted to follow up on the one that I asked you.

TRUMP: Did you hear me? Did you hear me? Ask him a question.

MASON: I will. But --

TRUMP: I've given you a long answer. Ask this gentleman a question. Don't be rude.


BERMAN: All right. Dana Bash joins us now live from Washington. By the way, we'll have Jeff Mason on in a little bit to figure out how he felt about that moment and that very fair question.

But Dana, you've got some fresh reporting as well about concerns, I think, amongst some of the president's allies about how the president and the White House are handling this.

DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, John. You remember during the Russia investigation the president was successful in setting the narrative, calling it a hoax, calling it a witch hunt.

He's trying to do the same thing now with Russia. He's trying to do the same thing now except some Republicans on Capitol Hill tell us that they see this as different. They're very worried that the president and even top aides in the White House don't get that.


BASH (voice-over): What you mostly hear from congressional Republicans on impeachment is the sound of silence. GOP sources tell CNN they have a good reason for that. Fear. They have no idea what else House Democrats investigating will uncover.

Along with GOP fear, frustration with the president. Performances like Wednesday in the Oval Office.

TRUMP: The whistle-blower was so dishonest.

BASH: And later in the East Room.

TRUMP: This is a fraudulent crime on the American people.

BASH: His rambling shoot-from-the-hip comments, his stream-of- consciousness tweets not exactly an anti-impeachment road map for his fellow Republicans.

In fact, a source involved in Senate GOP discussions tells CNN, "He is taking it upon himself to tweet about every shiny object. That is not helpful right now."

To be sure, lots of Trump GOP allies eagerly came out to defend the initial bombshell: the transcript summary of the president asking Ukraine's leader to do him a favor and investigate his political opponent, Joe Biden.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): It was a nothing burger for me, the phone call with the president and the Ukrainian president.

BASH: But GOP spin on behalf of Trump is not aging well, especially confronted with facts about the call.

SCOTT PELLEY, "60 MINUTES": President Trump replies, "I would like you to do us a favor, though."

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

PELLEY: No. It's in the transcript.

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

PELLEY: Yes. It's in -- it's in the transcript.

BASH: And about the whistle-blower.

REP. JIM JORDAN (R-OH): You had a bureaucrat who didn't like the president.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Whoa, whoa, whoa. What are you talking about?

JORDAN: We know he didn't like the president.

TAPPER: We don't know that.

BASH: Baseless attacks like that on the whistle-blower --

TRUMP: We have a whistle-blower that reports things that were incorrect.

BASH: Plus, repeated brazen threats from the president did compel Iowa Republican Chuck Grassley, a longtime champion of whistle- blowers, to release a statement, warning, "No one should be making judgments or pronouncements without hearing from the whistle-blower first and carefully following up on the facts."

Also noteworthy, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who rarely grants interviews. This week, he did, declaring if the House impeaches the president, the Senate will have no choice but to start a trial.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): Under the Senate rules, we're required to take it up if the House does go down that path. And we'll follow the Senate rules.

BASH: Senate GOP sources say they're bracing for more shoes to drop. A politically dicey waiting game for more than a handful of Senate Republicans on the ballot and potentially vulnerable in 2020. From Cory Gardner in Colorado to Martha McSally in Arizona, to Joni Ernst in Iowa, Susan Collins in Maine, to Thom Tillis in North Carolina.

It's not just their own political future at state but control of the Senate, which Republicans could lose with three or four seats, something McConnell is well aware of. [07:05:08]

MCCONNELL: What I want to do is spend our time accomplishing things for the American people.


CAMEROTA: OK. Dana, great reporting. Stay with us. We want to bring in CNN political analyst David Gregory, as well.

Dana, are you saying that from your reporting, your conversations behind the scenes with Republicans, that they are most upset about his lack of discipline in terms of the message and his profane reaction to some things? Or the substance of what they read in the transcript of that phone call?

BASH: Look, all of the above. That's the truth. And it's also the fear of the unknown. They just don't know what else the House Democrats are going to uncover. So there -- there's all of that.

There's also the frustration that they're not getting enough information from the White House just about strategy. The White House made a decision, even though they had a flirtation with setting up a war room like Bill Clinton did in the '90s, a flirtation with that. They decided, no, we're not going to do that.

Instead, they're going to use what Bill Clinton did not have, because he was in his second term. And that is the president's re-election campaign to hit back. And they've been hitting really hard in tweets and videos and emails to their supporters.

But people I talked to on the Hill say that's not enough. This is official. This is dire. We need to have -- have the White House engage, and they feel like the White House is just not doing that.

BERMAN: And it's striking because what we saw, David, yesterday in this news conference, it's important to distinguish between the noise and the substance. From the president we got rage, rage, rage, rage, rage, rage, rage, rage, rage.

A non-answer to the central question of the entire matter, which is why did you pressure the president of Ukraine to dig up dirt on Joe Biden? It's important to distinguish the two.

DAVID GREGORY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I think it is. We know when Mueller was appointed as special prosecutor. We know this in Bob Woodward's book "Fear." The president felt that everything was collapsing around him, that this was going to be the end of his presidency.

He felt that he prevailed in that initial inquiry. Now he faces another one. And you see that frustration, the erratic behavior, the anger.

I think the president is increasingly isolated, and we know this not just because of his own erratic behavior, but those who are leaking around him. There's so much reporting about how he's behaving. The vice president story, which we'll get to in a moment, as well.

And of course, the bureaucracy, the fact that a whistle-blower is coming forward. All of that has to create an impression for him that this is different. And that the terrain has fundamentally changed.

And so even though we have the call and that will be debated, it's what else is there? What are the documents? Who else will come forward? The president is acting in a way that he's clearly afraid of that.

CAMEROTA: One pivotal person who will be coming forward today to talk and, oh, to be a fly on the wall of that closed-door session. It's Kurt Volker. He's seen as a straight shooter. He's worked in -- he's nonpartisan. He's worked for Republican and Democratic administrations. And he has some of these answers, Dana.

BASH: He does. And I've talked to people who know him, who say they expect him to be that straight shooter. The man who's enough of that to have been tapped -- tapped to head the McCain institute in Arizona. Look, he is somebody who has a lot of answers as to what the president's real motivation was.

The question that Jeff Mason tried to ask and got, you know, shot down by the president himself. What was the president really trying to get at? And we believe that he has the answer to that, because Rudy Giuliani has sent us all screen shots of Volker's texts, helping to set up a meeting between -- at least one meeting between Giuliani and the leader of Ukraine. And we know that the reason Giuliani wanted to do that is about Joe Biden.

I mean, Giuliani said so real time. He's even saying so now. And if -- if Volker is honest about that and can shed light on that, that could be a very, very big moment.

GERGEN: And can I just say, I think it's so clear, because the president keeps telling us what the focus was that when you say corruption, he means Joe Biden.

So when he brings up corruption with the Ukrainian leader. When Rudy Giuliani is off wanting to meet with the Ukrainians, it's this two- headed monster. One, in their view, did the Ukrainians work with Hillary Clinton to try to hurt Trump? And two, was Joe Biden's son, Hunter, who was on the board of this energy company, involved in corruption at that company?

That's what the president meant as corruption. And everything was directed toward that effort. So what does Kurt Volker know about this? Where -- are there other documents? Are there other calls that were directing people to only go in that direction?

BERMAN: You know what else I think? I think when the president says Joe Biden, he means Joe Biden. And I see in the notes of this conversation, you know --

CAMEROTA: Clever. BERMAN: -- the so-called transcript here. There's a lot of talk about Biden's son. The president said to the leader of Ukraine that Biden stopped the prosecution, and a lot of people want to find out. So whatever you can do with the attorney general would be great.


Kurt Volker I'm sure will be asked, what do you think of that? And that will be telling his answer there.

Dana and David, I want to get your take on the name Mike Pence. Which all of a sudden in the last 24 hours has been invoked a great deal by the president and his team.

Why do you think, Dana, that the story in "The Washington Post" is out there saying Mike Pence, he sure was involved with Ukraine in many ways. He should have known, maybe, the president's position on this. Why are we hearing this now?

BASH: Well, for a lot of reasons. One, he was sent over there by the president. Another is that he is somebody who's involved.

The president has a very small inner circle. Pence has -- is politically sort of deft enough and has been for the past three years to kind of be where he needs to be, but be away when he needs to be away.

And the answer is we don't really know exactly what the vice president knew. What we do know from our reporting from our White House team is that the vice president's people in his world are nervous about how this may or may not implicate him. And that suggests that he was more involved than he was. More than we know, I should say.

But it has been remarkable how the vice president, through all of this tumult, through all of this chaos for the Trump presidency so far has been able to kind of separate himself and stay on the issues that he's focused on. This might be the thing that changes that.

CAMEROTA: Never underestimate the impulse and power of self- preservation, David Gregory. Because if Rudy Giuliani is starting to implicate somehow Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and President Trump is somehow starting to implicate Vice President Mike Pence, things are going to get interesting.

GREGORY: Well, that's for sure. And I think, you know, one of the things that we need to do is pay attention to the reporting on this, because you want to pay attention to the leaking.

The fact that there are anonymous leakers who are close to the president and the vice president, who are in conflict with each other.

There's so many layers to this that I think about. You know, on the one hand, if there's something of a rogue operation led by the president that involves his attorney general, perhaps, and Rudy Giuliani. Maybe part of the defense of that is this was actually -- everybody was doing this for two reasons. One, it wasn't so rogue. It was above board. And we were trying to,

you know, get them to investigate corruption and foreign interference. And that's legitimate, and we could have that debate.

It could also be a shot across the bow to Democrats, saying, really? You want to go after the president and the vice president? It really does look like a coup, doesn't it? And that that could be a narrative that they keep on driving.

BERMAN: And a message to Republicans in the Senate, saying, hey, don't count on a President Pence, you know, if you push out President Trump, because they're all going down, maybe, in this.


BERMAN: It's interesting at many levels.

David Gregory, Dana Bash, thank you.

CAMEROTA: Thank you, both.

Bernie Sanders is off the campaign trail for the moment and indefinitely. So what we know about his surgery and his heart condition, next.



BERMAN: This morning Senator Bernie Sanders is in the hospital and off the campaign trail, recovering from a heart procedure. The Vermont senator had two stents inserted in an artery after doctors found some kind of a blockage.

The senator is staying on message. This is what he wrote, that he is feeling good and is, quote, "lucky to have good health care."

Joining us now, CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

Sanjay, talk to us about the procedure, the two stents, and what that tells you about the senator's heart.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, first of all, procedure is the right word, as opposed to an operation. I think a lot of people hear "heart procedure," they think he had open heart surgery. This is a much less invasive type thing, where you're actually putting a catheter into one of the arteries around the heart. And if we have some animation to show this.

That -- that stent sort of balloons up, opens up that blood vessel that is blocked, and then a titanium cage is placed in there to sort of hold the vessel open. He had two that were put in. We don't know if it was two stents put into one artery or there were two arteries that were blocked.

But it's typically, you know, a procedure that doesn't take very long. An hour or so. Patient's awake during this procedure. And, you know, John, a lot of people have heard of this. This is a commonly done procedure. You know, probably more than a million a year, for example, done in the United States.

That's likely what he went through. We know that he was already up talking, even tweeting not that long after, which would be pretty typical as well, John.

CAMEROTA: Sanjay, it's interesting to look at what happened to the senator before he went into the hospital for this. So this is the moment, at a campaign stop. And you know, he's 78 years old, but he's normally very active and energetic on the campaign trail.

But in this moment, you see he takes off his jacket. So he's overheated. He took a sip of water. And then he asks for a chair. He makes his way over -- oh, we might be looping this.

But at some point, you see him make his way over to a chair, and he has to sit down for the remainder of this campaign stop. I mean, what do you see as a doctor when you look at this?

GUPTA: Well, you know, he was subsequently complaining of chest pain. You think about the heart like a big muscle, and it's not getting enough blood flow. That hurts. And people become uncomfortable. They may become short of breath. They're obviously concerned. It doesn't necessarily mean that that was a heart attack, meaning that heart muscle tissue actually died.


As a result, that wasn't getting enough blood flow, and the muscle dies. And we don't know if that happened.

We also know that, if you're not getting enough blood flow to a muscle and then you restore the blood flow, in this case through a stent, people typically feel better, because that pain tends to go away. That's why the procedure is often done, is to relieve those sorts of symptoms.

I think the big question -- and we don't know the answer to this right now, the campaign hasn't said one way or the other is did he, in fact, have a heart attack or not?

The way that you would tell that is you could actually tell through a blood test. There would be certain -- certain proteins in the blood you could measure that could tell whether someone's had a heart attack or not. It's relevant, because it might affect his overall recovery.

He didn't have a heart attack, I mean, look, people can have this stenting procedure, go home the next day. Sometimes even the same day. Someone's had a heart attack. They probably want to observe longer. Check his heart function. That might take a few days. But still not weeks that we're talking about for recovery for something like this.

BERMAN: And talk more about that, Sanjay. Because we've seen Bernie Sanders on the campaign trail incredibly vigorous campaign schedule.

GUPTA: Right.

BERMAN: Do we know for sure, if he can get back out there again. I've seen people who've had this procedure out there doing pretty much everything pretty quickly.

GUPTA: Yes. I mean, look. This is -- again, it's one of the most commonly-done cardiac procedures. So you see a lot of these patients. And again, you think about the goals of the procedure. Someone is functioning, but they're not functioning well. They have chest pain, if they are more active.

The goal of the procedure is to basically restore someone's -- someone back to their normal level of activity. Open up that blood flow to the muscle. In this case, the muscle is the heart. And people will feel better. Typically, actually, be able to be more active than they were. Because they were probably limited to some extent by the fact that he, you know, was not getting enough blood flow in the first place.

If he had a heart attack, though, then the question is how well is the heart functioning? How well is the heart able to pump blood? My guess is it's still pretty well, considering how -- how quickly he seems to already have recovered. He's up talking to friends and stuff. Wasn't on a breathing machine. They're not in an ICU. It doesn't seem so.

All these things, I think, bode pretty well. I think that that's -- But that'll be the big question sort of going forward.

CAMEROTA: OK. Sanjay, thank you very much for getting up extra early out there for us to explain all of this.

BERMAN: Right. The president's anger and perhaps his insecurity incredibly visible during one crucial moment at the White House.


TRUMP: We have the president of Finland. Ask him a question.

MASON: I have one for him. I just wanted to follow up on the one that I asked you, which was --

TRUMP: Did you hear me? Did you hear me?

MASON: Yes, sir.

TRUMP: Ask him a question.


BERMAN: The reporter who asked that question, Jeff Mason, joins us next.


BERMAN: We're getting new reaction this morning to that incredibly tense moment in the president's news conference. He wouldn't answer a simple question. Perhaps the most basic question of the current impeachment investigation.


MASON: What did you want them to look into on Biden?

TRUMP: Look, Biden and his son are stone-cold crooked. And you know it. His son walks out with millions of dollars. The kid knows nothing. You know it, and so do we. Go ahead. Ask the question.

MASON: The question, sir, was what did you want President Zelensky to do about Vice President Biden and his son, Hunter?

TRUMP: Are you talking to me?

MASON: It was just a follow-up of what I just asked you, sir.

TRUMP: You ready? You have the president of Finland. Ask him a question.

MASON: I have one for him. I just wanted to follow up on the one that I asked you.

TRUMP: Did you hear me? Did you hear me? Ask him a question.

MASON: I will.

TRUMP: I've given you a long answer. Ask this gentleman a question. Don't be rude.

MASON: No, sir, I don't want to be rude. I just wanted you to have a chance to answer the question that I asked you.

TRUMP: I answered everything. It's a whole hoax. And you know who's playing into the hoax? People like you and the fake news media that we have in this country. And I say, in many cases, the corrupt media, because you're corrupt. Much of the media in this country is not just fake, it's corrupt.

And you have some very fine people, too. Great journalists, great reporters. But to a large extent, it's corrupt, and it's fake.

Ask the president of Finland a question, please.


BERMAN: Joining me now, Jeff Mason, White House correspondent for Reuters, whose job I might add, it is to ask the president of the United States questions.

Jeff, just first off, what did that feel like to you? MASON: Well, it's funny, John. In the moment it just felt like I'm

here to do my job, and I just continued doing it. Afterwards, it was a little surreal. I've been humbled by the reaction to it.

BERMAN: Why did you want to ask that question? Why is the question, what did you want from the Ukrainian president, so important?

MASON: Well, I think it goes to the heart of this entire controversy. And the president has been saying for some time now that his call was, quote unquote, "perfect." That's something he keeps repeating and repeating.

So if that's the case, if he wants to dispute anything that was said in that transcript or if he wants to suggest that, in fact, he wasn't looking for the Ukrainian president to investigate Vice President Biden or Hunter Biden, then he had a chance to say that.

And if not, then he would be confirming that that is, in fact, exactly what he --