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Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-IL) is Interviewed About House Impeachment Investigation; Steven Pifer is Interviewed About Volker's Testimony; Stabbing at Paris Police Headquarters. Aired 8:30-9a ET
Aired October 3, 2019 - 08:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right. The breaking news, CNN has learned that dozens of pages of documents were turned over to House committees on behalf of former special envoy to Ukraine, Kurt Volker, who will speak to Congress this morning. We are waiting to hear what he has to say.
Also new this morning, House Democrats promised to subpoena the White House tomorrow if it does not turn over documents requested in the impeachment investigation.
Joining me now is Congresswoman Cheri Bustos. She is the chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and now supports the impeachment investigation.
Congresswoman, thank you so much for being with us.
And we should note, you represent one of the so-called Trump districts.
REP. CHERI BUSTOS (D-IL): I do.
BERMAN: The move to support impeachment was not easy for you.
Max Rose, from Staten Island, a Trump district, a historically Republican district, switched last night. He opposed impeachment as of a month ago, even riding an op-ed, now comes out in support of it.
Why the shift, do you think?
BUSTOS: Well, I wouldn't so much call it a switch as it is new information coming out on a daily basis.
Look, I'm -- you and I have talked about this, John. I'm a former investigative reporter. And I still take those skills with me to the Hill every single day.
And that is a desire to get to the truth. So, when the transcript came out in the president's own words, asking
a foreign entity to do a favor for him in exchange for delivering defense against -- basically to protect itself, Ukraine, against Russia, that was a line that just went way too far. And so I think as you see more Democrats saying that we've got to get to the truth here, I don't see it so much as a switch as it is a desire to make sure that the American public knows exactly what's going on here.
BERMAN: Well, as a matter of fact, Max Rose, until last night, had not expressed his support for impeachment inquiry. Now he does. That is, in fact, a shift in his position.
And to your point, I'm holding the transcript or the notes or the reconstructed transcript of the call in my hand and you can see right here, President Trump asked the leader of Ukraine to dig up dirt on Joe Biden and his son. He says, whatever you can do with the attorney general would be great. If you can look into it, he goes on.
So what more do you need to hear than that to support impeachment?
BUSTOS: Well, I don't think it's so much what more we need to hear on that. It is -- look, we -- this is not anything that any Democrat is taking lightly. This is a somber moment in our nation's history.
And again, as more evidence came out in the president's own words, the reason Max Rose is in this place he is today, the reason I am in this place I am today and other members of Congress are in the place we're in today is because this is in the president's own words. This is a transcript of what the president said to the president of Ukraine, basically saying, I am going to compromise America's democracy for my own political good.
And this is just something that I have complete fate in Adam Schiff as the head of the Intelligence Committee to make sure that we get to the truth here.
I would just characterize this as a desire to get to the truth, to make sure that we are defending our democracy at all costs.
BERMAN: I hear what you're saying. I'm just trying to understand if that's a yes just on the impeachment inquiry based on this transcript or is it based on what you are reading in black and white, you could be a yes on actual impeachment.
BUSTOS: I'm waiting for the Intelligence Committee to continue to do its job and, again, John, you wouldn't go to press without the full story. You've got to continue to make sure that you have the story.
And never is anything two sides of a story anymore. It is multiple sides to a story. So, we have a hearing today in the intelligence committee. There are more documents that will be turned over. But, you know, the long and the short of it is, nobody in our nation has ever been above the law.
BERMAN: Congresswoman -- BUSTOS: What we're saying is that the president needs to comply with
the subpoenas, the White House needs to comply with the subpoenas and we need to continue.
BERMAN: If they don't -- and I'm running out of time, and I'm trying to get two quick questions in.
BERMAN: But if they don't, could you support an article of impeachment on just the failure to comply with subpoenas? In other words, obstruction?
BUSTOS: Let's wait and see where it goes. Again, I'm not going to rush to judgment on this.
BUSTOS: But let's just see where this goes.
BERMAN: Finally, what are you hearing from your constituents? Again, I know that you do represent a so-called Trump district. I'm curious what you have heard as you have gone back for this two-week recess.
BUSTOS: Well, I've been home pretty much this whole time. I do what we call supermarket Saturdays where I walk the aisles of the grocery store. I did that on Monday and Wednesday of this week.
And only one person, only one person of everybody I interacted with brought up the president. And that person did not bring up impeachment in the same word as Donald Trump.
What people are saying is help us with the cost of health care, bring down the price of prescription drugs. Let's make sure that we are addressing violence in communities. Let's make sure that our kids can afford to go to school if they want to pursue higher education. It is still those issues that families talk about when they're sitting down at their kitchen table that I continue to hear about.
And so, I think it's worth noting, John, in a closing thought here, is that we are doing this in the U.S. House of Representatives on the Democratic side while the intelligence committee is pursuing the investigation here, we are also working on prescription drug prices, health care, just making sure that we're addressing what people want us to make sure that they sent us to Washington to do.
BERMAN: All right. Congresswoman Cheri Bustos, thank you for joining us this morning. I always appreciate your time.
BUSTOS: Thank you, John.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: All right. President Trump's dealings with Ukraine, of course, the focus of the impeachment inquiry on Capitol Hill. So, we will speak to the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine about all of this, next.
CAMEROTA: OK. We are just minutes away from former U.S. special envoy from Ukraine, Kurt Volker, facing questions from lawmakers behind closed doors about President Trump's dealings with Ukraine.
Volker resigned a week ago after the president's lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, shared texts that seemed to show Volker acting as a liaison between Giuliani and Ukrainian officials.
Joining us now is Steven Pifer. He served as the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine in the Clinton administration.
Mr. Ambassador, great to have you here.
I know that you know Kurt Volker. You've worked with Kurt Volker. So, what do you believe he'll say to lawmakers this morning?
STEVE PIFER, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO UKRAINE: Well, he's a career foreign service officer. I believe that Ambassador Volker is going to say, this is what happened. He'll answer the questions truthfully and honestly and he'll probably describe what he was trying to do in terms of working with Ukraine, both to help to find a solution to the conflict in eastern Ukraine, which is an American interest we would like to see that conflict ended, we would like to see the Russians and the Russian proxy forces out of eastern Ukraine, and he'll talk probably, depending on the questions, about how the interaction of Mr. Giuliani with the Ukraine has affected his work.
CAMEROTA: And if, let's say, the president of Ukraine wanted Ambassador Volker to act as a liaison between Ukrainian officials and Rudy Giuliani, who they believed to be a proxy for President Trump, and he had any concerns about that unusual arrangement, who would Ambassador Volker have gone to with those concerns, or would he, as an ambassador, have raised them with someone?
PIFER: Yes. Well, I think this is one of the difficulties that Ambassador Volker and other American diplomats working on Ukraine have faced over the course of 2019 is we've had, in effect, two foreign policy approaches towards Ukraine. One has been that policy that's been carried out by people like Ambassador Volker, Ambassador Yovanovitch, who was our ambassador until she unfortunately recalled back in May, and then Ambassador Taylor, who's now on the ground in Kyiv, and that is a policy that's designed to advance American national interests.
And then over on the side, you have Rudy Giuliani, who's not pursuing American interests. He's out there to basically advance the personal interests of President Trump and trying to come up with stories, many of which have been discredited, about how Ukraine might have impacted the American election, or about this long debunked story about Vice President Biden's effort to get the Ukrainian prosecutor general fired. Those things are not consistent. And that's going to make things complicated.
CAMEROTA: Yes, they have made things complicated and awkward. And so, again, I mean from your experience of being the ambassador, not in this situation, but if you were, if somebody -- if Ambassador Volker knew that Giuliani wanted dirt on Joe Biden and Joe Biden's son, what would -- what is he supposed to do with that information or what would he have done with that information?
PIFER: Yes, my -- again, my guess is that in those circumstances -- and I haven't spoken to him about this -- but I think the ambassador would be concerned because, again, having Mr. Giuliani go to the Ukraine with that message is going to detract from Ambassador Volker's work, which is, again, focused on U.S. national interests. And it's a confusing message to send to the Ukrainians. And I fear it puts Ukraine in a very, very difficult position because, since 1991, when Ukraine regained independence, the country's had broad, bipartisan support from Democrats and Republicans in Congress. And that's been a real asset for Ukraine.
PIFER: But if Ukraine now becomes a political football in American domestic politics or in the 2020 election, that could put that bipartisan support at risk.
CAMEROTA: I mean --
PIFER: So it's a tricky time for Ukraine.
CAMEROTA: Yes, it is. And I guess what I'm getting at is that if Ambassador Volker had concerns, would he have put those in an e-mail to somebody?
And the reason I ask is because we've just learn this morning, an hour ago --
CAMEROTA: Dozens of pages of documents were delivered to these investigatory committees from Kurt Volker's side. So if he had concerns, would he have put those in an e-mail to someone?
PIFER: Yes. Yes, I mean, I think if he had concerns, he would have expressed them. Whether he would have done that in an e-mail or whether he had gone to somebody and expressed them directly, I don't know.
But, again, I'm assuming that from his position, having Mr. Giuliani working on the side on a different (ph) agenda was not helpful. But that will come out because, as I said, I think Ambassador Volker will answer the questions truthfully and he'll tell the story as he saw it from his perspective as the special envoy trying to work to find a solution to Ukraine's conflict with Russia.
CAMEROTA: Why do you think he resigned the way and when he did?
PIFER: I don't know. I mean I think he -- perhaps he felt he was in a very difficult position, given how things were developing.
It's also, when he began work back in 2017, the idea was that he would work with the Russian counterpart by the name of Vladislov Skerkov (ph). And the idea was, could they work together to support the effort that the Germans and the French have led to try to broker a peaceful settlement in Donbas (ph)? Well, the last meeting with Skerkov (ph) I think took place more than a year and a half ago and that sort of contact effort has dried up because the Russians did not want to continue it.
Now, Mr. -- Ambassador Volker has been working to maintain international support for Ukraine. He's been very involved in Ukraine.
PIFER: But at least that idea of trying to work with the Russians --
PIFER: He hasn't been able to achieve much progress on that because the Russians have not been engaging.
CAMEROTA: Right. I mean, as I understand, he was tasked with dealing with Donbas (ph) and Crimea, and now he's embroiled in all of this.
Ambassador Steven Pifer, thank you very much for your expertise in these matters. I know these are tough questions. Thank you very much for your help with them.
PIFER: Thank you.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, the breaking news, we're getting new information about a deadly stabbing attack at Paris police headquarters. We'll bring you those breaking details, next.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
BERMAN: All right, the breaking news, a deadly stabbing attack at Paris police headquarters.
CNN's Nick Paton Walsh joins us now with the details.
Nick, what have you learned?
NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: John, things have changed substantially since we last spoke. We are now talking about a total of five dead from this attack, including the attacker.
The five dead are all police officers, as far as we understand at this point. [08:55:01]
I say police officers. We are led to believe the attacker is, in fact, an administrative officer who works inside that police headquarters. And, in fact, police union secretary has been quoted on our affiliates BFM TV as saying that, in fact, that attacker may have worked there for 20 years or so. I say there, within French police.
This occurring right in the heart of police headquarters in Paris on the Ile de la Cite right next to Notre Dame, the ruins of that after the fire earlier on this year. We're right at the heart of sort of tourist frequented Paris. It's in lockdown now. Many ambulances on the scene. And a startling rise in the death toll, John.
BERMAN: All right, Nick, please keep us posted. We're going to have much more on the breaking news ahead.
And also a key witness arrives on Capitol Hill. That's next.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: A very good Thursday morning to you. I'm Jim Sciutto.
POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Poppy Harlow.
In minutes a key witness will be on capitol hill delivering testimony.