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Dozens of Pages of Documents Delivered House Committees on Behalf of Former Ambassador Kurt Volker Ahead of Testimony; Stabbings Takes Place in Paris, France; Brother of Murder Victim Forgives Killer; Father of Botham Jean Speaks Out. Aired 8-8:30a ET
Aired October 3, 2019 - 08:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: We will find out.
The breaking news is this. Dozens of pages of documents were delivered to the House Intelligence and Oversight Committees on behalf of Kurt Volker ahead of his deposition today. That's according to two sources familiar with CNN. This is reporting from Evan Perez and Kylie Atwood. What remains unclear is if the documents were cleared by the State Department to be handed over or if they're considered Volker's personal documents. The State Department would not respond to requests for comments.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: That is a vital distinction because, as we know, some in the government, the State Department, have been blocking some handover of documents. If this is from Kurt Volker's own emails, if this is from his own computer system, obviously those would be, we assume, quite telling. So that's what we need to find out today.
Things are happening, as we discussed, at a breakneck pace. Let's bring in Dana Bash, she's are CNN chief political correspondent, and David Axelrod, CNN senior political commentator and host of "The Axe Files." So, David, Kurt Volker, he is just a pivotal player in all of this. He knows the answer as to why the Ukrainians were so determined to meet with Rudy Giuliani and vice versa, and if he had these documents, it is so interesting that dozens of pages of documents have now been delivered to the House Intel, Oversight, and Foreign Affairs Committees.
DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: He's critical in a number of respects. For one thing, Rudy Giuliani keeps appearing on television with his tablet showing text messages that he got from Volker and suggesting that he was acting at the instance of the State Department in meeting with these Ukrainian officials, belying the fact that he had had contacts in Ukraine for months before that, apparently. And Volker can put those text messages into context and explain why it was that he tried to arrange some sort of discussion between Giuliani and the Ukrainian government.
The second thing is, and really the most critical link here, is this issue of military aid that had been frozen, which was obviously a matter of great concern to the Ukrainian government, and what was the linkage between that and the Giuliani kind of rump mission here? Volker has been said to have wanted to help the Ukrainians navigate the situation. So he can fill in a lot of the missing puzzle pieces here.
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: And if I may, Giuliani- style, hold up my phone and tell you that I'm one of the reporters who Giuliani cut and pasted the Volker -- what he says are the Volker texts, which according to this text that he sent me a screen shot of, was Friday, July 19th, which would have been before the big phone call, which was July 25th.
And according to this text, if accurate, it's Volker asking Mayor Giuliani about connecting him with somebody who is close to President Zelensky, helping him arrange that. That is going to be one of the key questions, why did he do that? Did he have any idea what Giuliani wanted to do? Giuliani was talking publicly about the Bidens at that point. And what was he trying to just help navigate, as this whistleblower says in the complaint, help the Ukrainians navigate the demands of the president himself and others, or was there more?
BERMAN: And, again, let me just read to you from the notes, the so- called reconstructed transcript, that the White House released. There's no ambiguity about this, where President Trump is asking the president of Ukraine, there's a lot of talk about Biden's son, that Biden stopped the prosecution and a lot of people want to find out about that.
So whatever you can do with the attorney general would be great, if you can look into it, the president said. So, David, I imagine asking Kurt Volker, hey, what did you think about that request, would be key. Also, had you heard things like that before? Was that something that Rudy Giuliani asked you about before? Had you been instructed to lean on the Ukrainian government before on those subjects? Those will be crucial.
AXELROD: They will. And beyond that, I think he may be able to shed some light on how the Ukrainians interpreted that call.
AXELROD: They have publicly kept a front on this, trying to maintain their relationship with the administration. But you read the whistleblower complaint and some of the other reporting, and you get a strong sense that they understood exactly what the message was that the president was sending. And he was an intermediary who was talking to the Ukrainians. So I'm sure that those discussions will be a subject of interest to the committees today.
CAMEROTA: And Dana, let's remember, there was a phone call that predated that July 25th call because some of the things that Zelensky brings up in that call are sort of follow-ups to some previous conversation. It's obvious. He says in there, I will personally tell you that one of my assistants spoke with Mr. Giuliani just recently, and we very much hope that Giuliani will travel to Ukraine and we will meet. So they already knew that that was a goal, to reach out to Giuliani and have him act as a proxy somehow for President Trump.
BASH: Yes. And according to Giuliani, again, if this text is accurate, it already started. It was already in the works, just six days before that phone call happened. And then if you go back even more, to months, the one time that the White House did readout a call between the two presidents, President Trump and the president of Ukraine, there was just a kind of one-line discussion about corruption. So, this had been going on for a very, very long time.
BERMAN: And again, I do think we're talking about Kurt Volker, one of the questions is, is he going to be a team player if your team is the Trump administration? What we know of him, David, is he is a team diplomacy player.
BERMAN: He is a straight shooter, at least historically here. So his mission and goals may not be the goals of the administration.
AXELROD: I agree. He was a part-time diplomat. He's also the executive director of the McCain Institute, very close to Senator John McCain. And so he is not a Trump loyalist, and he is someone who, I'm sure, cares deeply about his own reputation here. So he quit, obviously, for a reason. He is free and clear in this hearing. And one -- you suspect that he's going to want to have a full airing of what actually happened, particularly because Giuliani keeps brandishing him as the guy who authorized his activities.
BASH: And my understanding in talking to somebody who is close with Ambassador Volker is that's exactly what he's planning on doing, on telling the true story like it is, not holding back because he doesn't feel the need to protect Donald Trump. He feels the need to protect American diplomacy and, obviously, his own storied reputation.
CAMEROTA: And so, Dana, what is your estimate about these dozens of pages of documents that have just been delivered to the different Intel and Oversight, et cetera, committees. Is it that you think that they would have come from his personal stash?
BASH: It's hard to think not since the secretary of state said so publicly, that he does not intend to hand over witnesses or documents right now. It's hard to believe somebody who is a by the book guy like Volker not just bringing his own personal documents. But this is one of those cases where, to quote our friend Jeffrey Toobin, we just don't know, so let's wait and see.
BERMAN: David, can I ask you about someone named Mike Pence, the vice president of the United States --
AXELROD: I've heard of him.
(LAUGHTER) BERMAN: -- and why over the last 24 hours we've heard an awful lot about him. There's a "Washington Post" story that includes some people noting about how much he knew or was involved in pressuring Ukraine. But his staff says he certainly never knew anything about the request to get dirt on Joe Biden. Just the fact that he's in the news so much right now, what does that tell you?
AXELROD: It tells me that he's not happy to be in the news. There's no one more loyal to Donald Trump in public than Mike Pence in a fawning and consistent way. And he was scheduled to go to the president's inauguration in Ukraine. He was pulled back at the last minute. One of the questions is, did he know why he was being pulled back?
And then after, in early September, I believe, he traveled there, met with the president of Ukraine, or he met with him somewhere, and expressed, again, the deep interest of the United States and this president in going after corruption. This was after the president's conversation -- President Trump's conversation with Zelensky in which he made clear what he meant by corruption, which was a very specific case, which is the case he believed they should make against the Bidens.
So whether witting or not, Mike Pence was an instrument of reinforcing that message. And that puts him right in the middle of this, and I'm sure he's deeply uncomfortable about it.
CAMEROTA: Dana, any thoughts on that as we wrap up?
BASH: Yes. Our reporting is that he is deeply uncomfortable about it. He has spent the last three years walking the tightest of tightropes, being as loyal as he possibly can to the president, over the top loyal to the president, and trying to stay out of his way and trying to stay out of trouble.
And this might be one of those situations where he, as David said, maybe unwittingly, went and deliver a message from the president that was possibly something that the House is going to use to impeach him.
BERMAN: Dana Bash, David Axelrod, thank you very much.
We do have breaking news. We're just learning about a stabbing attack that is unfolding at this moment at the Paris police headquarters. We understand that several officers have been injured. So let's get right to CNN's Nick Paton Walsh with the breaking details. Nick, what have you learned?
NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This is very much the heart of policing in Paris. Literally feet away from what's left of the Notre Dame Cathedral, the Paris police prefecture. We understand in the last hour or so, inside the very heart of that building, there appears to have been an incident which has left a man wielding a knife shot dead, and it seems two police officers seriously injured. From what we're seeing, the area there, it occurs on, I'm sure those of you familiar with Paris, on one of the central islands of that particular city. That island has been sealed off. We understand that the metro station is also being searched as well. So certainly a sense of paralysis there in an area which is really the heart of tourism for anyone who visits Paris there.
This particular police headquarters, a place where you may also, for example, as a Paris citizen get routine documents checked. So it's possible that other people were caught up inside that area. And of course now police desperately trying to be sure that this was just one attacker, that there isn't somebody else they need to be looking for, too.
But Paris, sadly, since the Bataclan attacks of November, 2015, a place not inured to but increasingly used to random acts of violence that could be possibly terror related. No indication of motive here yet. But over the past months we have seen instances in which men wielding knives have attacked strangers in the street. Alisyn, unclear what's happened here yet, though. The situation still unfolding in the heart of Paris. Alisyn?
CAMEROTA: Nick, please keep watching this for us and bring us any updates. Thank you very much.
So there was this very emotional scene inside a courtroom at the sentencing in the murder trial of a former Dallas police officer, including a moment where a young man hugs his brother's killer. We'll speak to that family next.
BERMAN: This morning, much of the country is still just stunned after the final day of the trial for the former Dallas police officer convicted of murdering her unarmed black neighbor in his apartment. Many are upset at the 10 year sentence saying it's just not enough. And the emotional moment after the sentence was handed down that left the courtroom just speechless. This is that moment.
Let's get more now from CNN's Ed Lavandera in Dallas.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We, the jury, find unanimously that the defendant did not cause the death of Botham Jean while under the immediate influence of sudden passion arising from an adequate cause and assess the defendant's punishment at ten years imprisonment in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.
ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The words left Botham Jean's family appearing dismayed and shocked. Amber Guyger sentenced to 10 years in prison. She'll be eligible for parole in five years at just the age of 36.
CROWD: No justice! No peace! No justice! No peace!
LAVANDERA: Outside the courtroom, the sentence angered protesters, sparking chants.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The police department around the country has (INAUDIBLE).
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE).
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is not a joke! This is our lives.
LAVANDERA: But, at the same time, inside the courtroom, a dramatic scene was unfolding.
BRANDT JEAN, BOTHAM JEAN'S BROTHER: I forgive you.
LAVANDERA: Botham Jean's 18-year-old brother, Brandt, spoke directly to the former Dallas police officer who killed his brother. He told Guyger that he didn't want to see her rot in prison and that he had one request before she was taken to her jail cell.
B. JEAN: I love you as a person. And I don't wish anything bad on you. I don't know if this is possible but can -- can I give her a hug, please? Please?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
LAVANDERA: Guyger's attorney called it humbling and the most amazing moment he had ever seen in a courtroom. The emotion lingered long after the case ended. Judge Tammy Kemp hugged Botham Jean's family and, in a rare move, also hugged Amber Guyger, the convicted murderer, and gave her a Bible.
JUDGE TAMMY KEMP: You can have mine. I have three or four more at home. This is the one I use every day. This is your job for the next month.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm proud of you young man.
LAVANDERA: Allison Jean, Botham's mother, shared her hope for how Amber Guyger spends her years in prison.
ALLISON JEAN, MOTHER OF BOTHAM JEAN: That ten years in prison is ten years for her reflection and for her to change her life.
If Amber Guyger was trained not to shoot in the heart, my son would be standing here today.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was no threat.
A. JEAN: He was no threat to her. He had no reason to pose a threat to her because he was in his own apartment, in his sanctuary.
LAVANDERA: Ed Lavandera, CNN, Dallas.
(END VIDEOTAPE) CAMEROTA: Joining us now is Botham Jean's father, Bertram Jean, and the family's attorney, Ben Crump.
Mr. Jean, first, obviously, we're so sorry for what happened to your family and all of the grief that you all are experiencing. And just what a moment. I mean what a moment that your son created yesterday in the courtroom, you know, showing us all his grace and compassion. And it was really breathtaking for us to watch.
But I understand that for your family and for you, that moment might have been more complicated. So explain what -- what was going through your head and what you were feeling as your son was saying that and hugging your other son's killer.
BERTRUM JEAN, BOTHAM JEAN'S FATHER: Good morning.
I felt really good about it. And I suppose for the family it was really heart wrenching seeing Brandt's (INAUDIBLE) extend his mercy to (INAUDIBLE) after losing his brother.
And -- but I felt the same way as Brandt. I wish I could have extended that same courtesy. I want to tell her that I'm -- I'm broken. My family is broken. We are hurting every day. It's still very fresh. But I have no hatred for her. And I would like to befriend her. That's my sentiment.
CAMEROTA: And, Mr. Jean, what allows you to do that, and your son? What allows you to be so forgiving?
JEAN: Because from how we were brought up. And that's what Christ would want us to -- to do. You know, go back into biblical times. That's what we learned. If you will not forgive, neither will your father forgive you.
I don't want to see her rot in hell. I don't want to see her rot in prison. I hope this will help her to change and recognize the damage, the hurt that our family is going through.
CAMEROTA: And what --
JEAN: So I wish her well and I will pray for her family and pray for her as well.
CAMEROTA: What about that sentence? What -- how did you feel? I mean she could have gotten 99 years in prison. She got 10. What was your family and your reaction to that?
JEAN: We expected a conviction, and I felt the years were -- may not have been sufficient. Based on the crime, I think it could have been a little more. But the jury has spoken.
CAMEROTA: Mr. Crump, have you ever seen anything like that during a victim impact statement in a courtroom? BEN CRUMP, BOTHAM JEAN FAMILY ATTORNEY: I have not. This is -- that
was an extraordinary moment. But this is an extraordinary family, Alisyn. They are a very godly family. And what Mr. Bertram and Brandt were talking about was her eternal grace, even though, Ms. Alisyn, Botham's mother has expressed that there must be worldly consequences because we don't believe the punishment fits the crime. But they were praying for a conviction, and this was an historic case, Alisyn, because, as my colleagues and I thought about it, we believe it's the first time that a white police woman has ever been convicted of murder for killing a black man in America.
So this history is a teachable moment for all of America that we have to learn from this through Botham's legacy about de-escalation and conflict resolution, without this shoot first, ask questions later mentality when it comes to police interaction with black and brown people.
CAMEROTA: And, Mr. Crump, you know, people outside the courtroom, there were also emotions. So there was so much emotion inside the courtroom when Mr. Jean's son did that act of mercy, as he said, and then outside there was frustration at the sentence. And so what is your message for people who are feeling frustrated today?
CRUMP: Well, we have to use these as teachable moments. Hopefully, people -- the police will understand that de-escalation, the court system will understand that there are dozens of black men that I have represented in wrongful conviction cases that spent decades in prison for crimes they didn't commit, but yet you have this white police woman kill this unarmed black man in his own apartment and she only gets ten years.
There are people in our community that gets ten years for selling marijuana.
So we have to get to equal justice. But every day is progress. Terrance Crutcher (ph) was killed in Tulsa, Oklahoma, by a white police woman and he had his hands up, don't shoot, on video, and she wasn't convicted. So like the late Johnnie Cochran said, it is a journey to justice. Each case is a little more progress to getting to equal justice under the law of all Americans. At least we got the conviction on this one and hopefully next time we will get equal justice because that's the only thing that can make America live up to his words on the Declaration of Independence --
CRUMP: And the Constitution that all men are created equal.
CAMEROTA: So -- so, Mr. Jean, both your sons seem like extraordinary people.
CAMEROTA: Botham and Brandt, they just seem extraordinary. They're -- they're role models. I mean the friends of Botham who testified said what a special person he was, that they wanted to be friends with him forever. You know, he had this wonderful effect on people. And so can you just tell us about him and what allowed him to be like that?
JEAN: Well, growing up, I think he spent probably a lot of time with me, with his family and I have Botham as a baby with me, as my wife left for university, Botham spent probably a lot of time with me. And I -- I fed him. I bathed him. I brought him to school, picked him up and we always spent a lot of time together, played cricket with him, one of our games in the region, cricket, which we love.
I would be up very early, take him out to the playing field and just being with him. And there are moments when, in his early life, this boy, five years old when -- three years old, his mommy was not back from school yet and he would cry, I want my mommy. I would have to take a flight late Friday afternoon and spend the weekend in Barbados, where she was studying, and we had a good time together.
CRUMP: At church.
JEAN: Yes, at church as well.
So, you know, he grew up that way. He grew up in church. He loved to sing. Well, that was amazing to watch him develop into that great song leader. And he was always singing, always wanted to be up there singing, maybe others happy. And I call him the gentle giant because of his size, but he was so soft and just embrace everyone.
CAMEROTA: Yes. And I know that it had -- it has been a challenge for you to listen to any videotapes now of him singing because of all that you've lost.
JEAN: Yes, certainly. It brings me so much grief when I have to listen to him up there. It just breaks my heart to know that he's not around anymore. And so for now I cannot -- cannot take it in. Probably later down in life I might be able to do that.
CRUMP: And, Alisyn --
CAMEROTA: Yes, quickly, Mr. Crump.
CRUMP: He was a near perfect -- yes, he was a near perfect person of color. And it shouldn't be that you have to be perfect if you're an unarmed black or brown person in America to get justice. Botham was 26 years old, a certified public accountant working for Price Waterhouse Cooper, one of the big three accounting firms. I mean he really had the most incredible future. But there are so many other just regular black and brown people who this happened to, who should also get equal justice.
CRUMP: And so that is the message to the protesters in the world. CAMEROTA: Yes. We hear both your messages. We hear both your messages
and certainly the message that both your sons stood for about forgiveness, Mr. Jean.
Thank you very much for remembering him with us this morning. Botham Jean.
We'll be right back.