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GOP Not Concerned by Trump Asking Ukraine & China to Investigate Bidens But Constituents Are; GOP Presidential Candidate, Former Congressman Joe Walsh Discusses Trump Asking Ukraine & China to Investigate Bidens, Impeachment, the Whistleblower Complaint; Treasury Watchdog Launches Probe into Trump's Tax Handling Amid IRS Whistleblower Complaint; Volker Testified Before 3 House Committees Yesterday on Ukraine & Offers Warning to Giuliani. Aired 2:30-3p ET
Aired October 4, 2019 - 14:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: CNN contacted the offices of 64 Republican lawmakers in the House and Senate to see if any were concerned about President Trump's call for China now to investigate his 2020 rival, Joe Biden.
And you see all the names on the screen here. Barely any of them responded. Not one said they're worried. But some of their constituents are and they want to know, where is the line being drawn.
Here is Iowa, Republican Senator Joni Ernst getting confronted on this very issue.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All of our allies, he's pushing aside. He's making fun of them on Twitter --
SEN. JONI ERNST (R-IA): Ma'am --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And then we end up with, oh, we love people from North Korea or we love Russia. But where -- I understand it's a non- answer answer, I get it, I know what you're saying. But --
ERNST: I can't speak for him. I'll just say that.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But you can speak for yourself.
ERNST: And I do. I have said this time and time again. North Korea, not our friend. Russia, not our friend. I have made that very, very clear. And the president knows where I stand on those issues. BALDWIN: What about whistleblowers?
ERNST: And I've said that too. Whistleblowers should be protected. I stand with Chuck Grassley on this. We have laws in place. Again, laws need to be enforced.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: Right. So this is what's happening as these members of Congress on recess.
In a letter to his fellow Republicans in Congress, former Illinois congressman and currently Republican presidential candidate, Joe Walsh, is imploring Republicans to put country over party.
And Joe Walsh is with me now.
Congressman, welcome. Good to have you on.
JOE WALSH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Good to be with you, Brooke.
BALDWIN: Your fellow Republicans, why so silent?
WALSH: I'll start here. Silence after what we witnessed yesterday, I mean, a president in front of the world telling foreign governments to interfere in our election, any Republican silent after yesterday, Brooke, it's unconscionable and it's unforgiveable. He is what our founding fathers feared.
Now, why are Republicans silent? They're silent because they're afraid. Brooke, you and I have said it before, these Republicans feel the way about Trump that I do. They're just scared to death to say that publicly.
BALDWIN: I want to come back to precisely that point.
But here is a Republican who came out in the wake of what you mentioned about Trump being like China, if you're listening. This is Mitt Romney.
He tweeted a little bit ago saying, "What Trump did yesterday is appalling and wrong. But from other Republicans crickets.
You have Senator Ron Johnson, of Wisconsin, going so far as telling reporters, quote, "I don't think there's anything improper about it. We have proper agreements with countries to investigate potential crimes. I don't know what may or may not have happened with China and the Bidens, but I think an awful lot of investigations can occur here in America."
To your point about putting country over party, what do you think will need to happen for the Republican Party to do that, to turn on Trump?
WALSH: They've got to lead. And we need to encourage the Mitt Romneys of the world. When Senator Romney came out today and said, this has got to be condemned, you can't stand there and tell China to interfere in your election, when Congressman Will Hurd last night said the same thing, that needs to be encouraged.
Brooke, the toughest thing is for the first one or two or three or four Republicans to stick their necks out because they're going to get hit. It's happened to me. Once you say it, once you say that this guy has no clothes, that he's disloyal, you get pounded mercilessly every day.
So these first few who come out, Brooke, we need to encourage and hope that other Republicans will follow.
BALDWIN: If you're right and you're talking to Republicans and deep down, they're under the rock saying, we hope he's out too but they can't say it out loud because they don't want to lose their seats --
WALSH: I'm losing you, Brooke.
BALDWIN: Can you hear me, Joe Walsh? Joe Walsh? Did you lose me?
WALSH: Brooke, I can't hear you anymore. But I think I know where you were going.
Look, politicians, Brooke, they have so few opportunities to do what's right, to put country above party. Man, we are at one of those moments right now, Brooke, in this country's history where we have a clear and present threat right in front of us. And every Republican knows it.
Again, I'll say what I said before, Brooke, we got to encourage these Republicans, these first few Republicans to come out.
And Senator Rubio today basically punted and wouldn't even acknowledge that what President Trump did was wrong. They need to be called out.
This is -- again, we have so few opportunities to say this. Every Republican right now has an opportunity to put their country above their party.
We have a president right now who has demonstrated extreme disloyalty. And if we -- if Republicans can't call this out, Brooke, they'll never be forgiven and then there's nothing else to call out.
BALDWIN: Joe Walsh, let me try this again. Can you hear me?
I think we have gremlins in the system.
WALSH: I can't hear you Brooke
BALDWIN: I wish I could keep this conversation going.
Joe Walsh, thank you very much to hear a Republican perspective.
Breaking news. Moments from now, the chairman of the Intelligence Committee will speak after the testimony of the Intelligence Community watchdog testifying on this whistleblower complaint.
Plus, after these damning text messages showing diplomats pressuring Ukraine, is there legal exposure?
BALDWIN: CNN has learned about another inspector general investigation of the Trump administration. The Treasury acting inspector general says his office will look into how the department handled requests from the Ways and Means Committee for the president's tax information. And all of this comes amid a second whistleblower over at the IRS.
Lauren Fox is our CNN Politics congressional reporter.
You are the one with the scoop. Lauren, tell us what you're learning.
LAUREN FOX, CNN POLITICS CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: We know that House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neil sent a letter requesting the office of the inspector general at Treasury to look into how the Treasury Department responded to his April request for the president's tax returns. We know the OIG is going to launch a probe.
They said in a statement, "Chairman Neal has asked Treasury OIG to inquire into the process by which the department, received, evaluated and responded to the committee's request for federal tax information. We are now undertaking that inquiry."
That's according to the acting inspector general of the Treasury Department.
And I will tell you, this comes after we had reported earlier this week that a whistleblower had come forward back in July to House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal alleging that there has been potential wrongdoing related to the presidential audit program. That's the program in which the president and the vice president's tax returns are audited when a new administration comes into office -- Brooke?
BALDWIN: Lauren, thank you very much.
[14:45:08] The key witness in the middle of the scandal says he doesn't believe Joe Biden did anything wrong. And his testimony doesn't stop there. We have part of the transcript for you. And the damning text messages linking an investigation to presidential meeting, a former federal prosecutor will pick through each of these on the legal exposure, next.
BALDWIN: Houston is paying tribute to a pioneering sheriff's deputy who had a heart of gold. Thousands of people of all faiths came out to honor Sandeep Dhaliwal, an officer who touched so many lives while spreading a message of acceptance.
CNN's Omar Jimenez tells how he went "BEYOND THE CALL OF DUTY."
OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): On the day of a funeral with the sadness come memories.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This shall be forever, forever his day.
JIMENEZ: The memories of Deputy Sandeep Dhaliwal are those of an icon reflected in the thousands that came to pay their respects.
JIMENEZ: He was the first officer of Sikh faith to join the Harris County Sheriff's Office in Houston, pushing to allow for a more authentic representation of himself.
ADRIAN GARCIA, FORMER SHERIFF, HARRIS COUNTY: I told him, Sandeep, the policy is ready, but I want you to know that this does not mean you have to do this.
JIMENEZ: But he did, becoming the first officer in Harris County to wear his turban on the job and grow his beard out, as is custom within the Sikh religion.
DEPUTY SANDEEP DHALIWAL, FORMER HARRIS COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICER: It will give me the chance to open up the conversation.
JIMENEZ: A beat cop who loved working the streets, he became an inspiration.
GURVINDER SINGH, HUMANITARIAN AID DIRECTOR, UNITED SIKHS: When he donned a turban on the job with his uniform, many he looked royal. He looked like a king. DHALIWAL: The Sikh community is going to make sure our first responder, along with our citizens of Harris County, are taken care of.
JIMENEZ: To the people Dhaliwal served, he was a friend.
DHALIWAL: (INAUDIBLE). He's going to be a cop. (INAUDIBLE).
JIMENEZ: To his friends, he was family.
SINGH: Beyond family. Because family you can't choose. I choose Sandeep.
JIMENEZ: Late September 2019, everything would change. Now Harris County Commissioner Garcia got a call from the sheriff.
GARCIA: The sheriff paused and he says it's Sandeep. It's Sandeep.
JIMENEZ: Dhaliwal was killed during a traffic stop in northwest Houston.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All I know is I lost my hero. I miss him. So I will never get him back. But he's here with me all the time.
JIMENEZ: In this photo, young Connor (ph) was just three years old when he met Dhaliwal at a gas station. Now he's 7, holding on to the same bracelet Dhaliwal gave him that day.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's not died in our hearts. He's up there with the angels because now he's an angel.
JIMENEZ: Now there are other Sikh officers in Harris County. All of them carry on the extraordinary legacy Dhaliwal now leaves behind.
UNIDENTIFIED LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICER: (INAUDIBLE).
JIMENEZ: Omar Jimenez, CNN, Houston.
BALDWIN: Oh, that 7-year-old.
Omar, thank you so much for bringing his story to us. He has done so much in Harris County, Texas.
Now to this.
More on our breaking news. The president daring Speaker Pelosi to hold a vote on the impeachment inquiry. And until she does, he nor the White House will cooperate.
Plus, the president claims he's all about finding corruption, but when asked, he cannot name a single case outside of Joe Biden that he's asked a foreign power to investigate.
BALDWIN: You are watching CNN on a Friday afternoon. I'm Brooke Baldwin. Thank you for being with me.
The developments on the impeachment investigation are coming in fast with the biggest eye opener from a batch of text messages released by three House committees.
These messages between top diplomats suggest what the president has denied regarding that phone call back in July with the Ukrainian president, a quid pro quo. In fact, the pressure for Ukraine to launch an investigation into Trump's political rival was so explicit that the texts show one diplomat is forced to deny it.
The president saw that text in a whole different light. And here he was moments ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The text message that I saw from Ambassador Sondland, who is highly respect, was, there's no quid pro quo. He said that. He said, by the way -- it almost sounded like, in general. He said, by the way, there's no quid pro quo. And there isn't.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: We will get all into those text messages in just a second.
But to other developments just today. The Intel Community's inspector general is speaking to House committees in a closed session. The former diplomat caught in the middle of Trump pressuring Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden testified that he found the allegations against the former vice president had, quote, unquote, "no credibility" and that he found Biden to be a man of integrity.
We're also learning that President Trump raised this issue of investigating not only Joe Biden but Elizabeth Warren with the Chinese president back in June.
And Trump reportedly booted the American ambassador to Ukraine because she blocked efforts on Ukraine doing a Biden investigation.
Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, is one of the officials focused on the president's impeachment strategy from the White House.
And finally, the president is daring the Democrats, daring Speaker Nancy Pelosi on this impeachment vote.
Let's start the hour. Let's focus on veteran diplomat caught up in all of this, Kurt Volker. He quit his job as special envoy to Ukraine in the wake of the controversy and yesterday testified before three House committees. And so we now know some of what he told these lawmakers behind closed doors.
CNN Politics congressional reporter, Lauren Fox, is on Capitol Hill for us.
Volker testified that he gave a warning, specifically to the president's personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani. What did he say?
FOX: Well, we have his opening statement now, Brooke. And what we are learning is that essentially he argued against any of this information on the Bidens, saying that it probably was not credible.
But we also know that the administration had a negative view of Ukraine and that's what he was working against.