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Volker Statement Details Warnings He Gave Rudy Giuliani; Jobs Report: Unemployment Rate Drops to 3.5%; Warren Raises $14.6M in Q3 Reinforcing Her Frontrunner Status. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired October 4, 2019 - 12:30   ET


[12:30:00] LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: -- from other sources including Mayor Giuliani that was more negative causing him to retain this negative view. That's just one of the arguments that Volker made behind closed doors yesterday, John. It was also clear that Volker was saying he had deep skepticism that anything about Joe Biden would have been true. He said that he had known Joe Biden for many years and that he was very skeptical that anything about what Giuliani was peddling had been true.


JOHN KING, CNN HOST: Lauren Fox, appreciate that, up on Capitol Hill. Come back to us as this trickles out.

Let's go around the table. I want to talk a little bit more about this because there are things in this -- what we've been able to read quickly here, there are things in here that Democrats are going to jump on and say, aha. There are also things in here that Republicans are going to jump on and say, aha ha.

Let's start with one of those. This is on page nine, the question is, was it a quid pro quo? Did the United States withhold military assistance passed by Congress -- Congress urgently tried to help the new Ukrainian president. Did the president withhold it until he got a commitment that the president of Ukraine would investigate Joe Biden? Here's what Kurt Volker said, "The issue of a whole placed on security assistance to Ukraine also came up during the same time I was connecting Mr. Yermak, a top aide to the Ukrainian president and Mayor Giuliani, the president's personal lawyer. I did not perceive these issues to be linked in any way."

That it is a very solid for Republicans. They're going to say, no, they might have been talking about it but it was not a quid pro quo.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Right. And if I may, my understanding is that Republicans -- one of the reasons Republicans want to get the full transcript of the very lengthy Q&A that he did, the deposition well beyond this opening statement is because they feel that they have -- that Volker gives more meat on that bone, that Volker will say -- Volker did say no quid pro quo, period, end of story. There was no quid pro quo which is what the president has been saying. But to hear it from Volker, despite all of these damning texts and other things that he said in here which is not helpful to the president that they believe is the key.

KING: All right, the text certainly suggests otherwise. Mr. Taylor at least, the other person involved in the texts, Mr. Taylor certainly thought there was a quid pro quo and Volker certainly thought it was unusual that Giuliani was involved. And he talks about that in here as well. But a couple of other things he says, remember the charge is, you heard the president constantly, several times a day whether it's on Twitter or in person talking about he believes Joe Biden is corrupt and Joe Biden was trying -- Joe Biden got a prosecutor in Ukraine fired to protect his son.

Mr. Volker told this to the committee and this will not sit well with the president. "In addition, I've known former vice president Joe Biden for 25 years. And the suggestion that he would be influenced in his duties as vice president by money for his son simply has no credibility to me. I know him as a man of integrity and dedication to our country."

He went on to talk about the ambassador that President Trump had recalled from Ukraine at Rudy Giuliani's suggestion at least was the last straw in that, you know, in the account being that she was not happy with Mr. Giuliani meddling in Ukrainian politics. Mr. Volker said this, "I've known Ambassador Yovanovitch since we served together in London in 1988. I've always known her to be professional, capable, dedicated to the national interest, and of the highest integrity."

Are we going to end up in a situation where some of this is highly damming about Rudy Giuliani meddling around, the president's skepticism, the conspiracy theories the president had that have been proven to be false about Ukraine's involvement in 2016, not good for the president. But the parts about, I didn't see it as a quid pro quo from a veteran diplomat who was deeply involved.

MICHAEL BENDER, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: Yes, it's really interesting here. It adds -- it fills in some gaps here but also raises some more questions I think for Kurt, and it would be good to see the transcript of his testimony. Because on one hand, he is aware of the president's interest in corruption and we see that in the text messages going back and forth. But in here, he says that the first time he heard about any connection to Biden was when he saw the transcript, after the transcript comes out. So I'd want to know a little more about the connective tissue between there.

But clearly, he is doing everything he can here to distance himself from Giuliani, going so far as -- there's one other part here where he had said that he fundamentally disagreed with Rudy that Zelensky was surrounded by enemies of the United States.

KING: All right, we'll continue to track the testimony and get reactions one piece as we go through this. We're going to be going through these weeks, if not months. The Ukraine call is one piece, this testimony is one piece, the challenges we'll try to put it all together. We will attempt to do our best at that one.

When we come back, I promise you just moments ago, 136,000 jobs last month. That's good, the U.S. economy continues to grow. But there are some buts.


[12:39:34] KING: Fresh economic numbers today showing a resilient but slowing American labor market. The September jobs report includes an eye-popper. The jobless rate is down to 3.5 percent. That's the lowest since 1969 when Richard Nixon was president. But not everything in this report is so positive.

CNN's Christine Romans is here to break down the numbers.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: John, two messages from this jobs report. 136,000 net new jobs, a little lighter than economists had hoped for. It really shows you that job growth is still there but it's not quite as robust as it has been recently in the past months and even the past few years.

[12:40:07] The unemployment rate though at 3.5 percent. This is the lowest since December 1969, so a new 50-year low in the unemployment rate. Let's look at the sectors here. Business and information services, health care, very strong job growth there as usual. Manufacturing, though, another 2,000 jobs lost there.

You can see this is really the bite of tariffs and higher costs because of the president's trade war putting a crimp on hiring and manufacturing. A real slowdown in pace in manufacturing hiring compared with the last few years. So the pace this year, about 160,000 on average. You can see that that is the lightest job creation since the great recession. So the economy is still generating jobs but not to the pace we have seen in recent years.


KING: Christine Romans, appreciate that. The president weighing in almost immediately after the report came out tweeting, "Breaking news, unemployment rate 3.5 percent drops to a 50-year low." The president then adds a little sarcastic commentary regarding his current headache. "Wow, American, let's impeach the president even though he did nothing wrong."

Ana Swanson of the New York Times joins our conversation. To the point Christine Romans was making, the slowdown in manufacturing, that's 108 consecutive months of job growth, that's good news. The low in unemployment rate, that's good news. If you're an American looking for a job, you can probably find one. That's good news. What are the warning signs?

ANA SWANSON, TRADE AND INTERNATIONAL ECONOMICS REPORTER, THE NEW YORK TIMES: That's right. So this is kind of a mixed report that the unemployment rate is obviously a great figure for the president, but in other areas, a little bit troubling. Wage growth was a little bit sluggish, and then also you have this evidence in this and in other data that the trade war is weighing on manufacturing and, in fact, also starting to bleed over into services.

KING: Let me jump in on that point, I just want to show the Institute of Supply Management manufacturing index that came out the other day which caused a lot of tremors in the market. You just see the steady drop in the manufacturing numbers. Peter Navarro, one of the president's trade advisers who sat down with our Jim Sciutto earlier today, and he said it has nothing to do with trade, it's all about the Fed. It has mostly to do with trade, doesn't it?

SWANSON: I think so. I mean, you have Peter Navarro on one side, on the other side you have the Federal Reserve, you have the International Monetary Fund, you have major Wall Street banks, S&P, and others saying that the trade is having an effect on the economy. And meanwhile, you have the administration doubling down on this approach. We had new tariffs announced in Europe this week and there are further tariff increases that are set to go into effect on China this month and also in December.

So, not just what has already happened but also potentially more weight on manufacturing and other sectors of the economy ahead.

KING: And we're having this conversation, you know, early October heading into the election year where if you're an incumbent president, this is it? It has continued to be strong, in some ways they would argue it gets stronger. Although we're seeing the juice of the Trump tax cuts are now out of the economy which is why you see it's slowing a little bit. But the president this morning saying we're the envy of the world.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Europe is not doing well, Asia is doing poorly, to put it mildly, and we continue to do very well. We're the miracle. But the unemployment numbers just came out, 3.5 percent unemployment, and that is a tremendous number, the lowest in over 50 years so very happy.


KING: It just to me, I'm trying to fathom the politics of the moment in the sense that the Clinton impeachment during a strong economy was in his second term.

BASH: Exactly.

KING: This impeachment inquiry is going on. We'll see if it gets to impeachment but Democrats seem to be on that track. Just as we head into the election where you have a president -- again, there are some warning signs out there, but who at that moment, 3.5, that's a pretty good bumper sticker. Trump, 3.5 percent unemployment. That's a pretty good bumper sticker. And yet you have this giant cloud of impeachment. How is that going to play out, out there in America?

LISA LERER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, that's the question of the moment, isn't it? This is a fairly unprecedented situation where you have a president running for re-election under an impeachment inquiry. I think, you know, the economy is really his strongest argument in a lot of these suburban districts that help Democrats win back the House that we talk about all the time on this show and everywhere else. That those are kind of the swing voters who could make or break the election for him, and the economy is a really strong argument he has right now for -- with that group who don't necessarily like his tone, don't necessarily like all the chaos in Washington but, you know, like how their finances are. If that starts to falter, that's a major issue for him.

KING: And he said today he's confident. He said this before and it's been months later. He said it several times, he says he's confident. Again, we'll have a deal with China. We'll see how that plays out. His sensitivity of it you get where our Jim Sciutto confirming other reports that in a conversation with President Xi he said, you know what, let's keep the straight tax going, I won't talk publicly, I won't be critical of you when it comes to the Hong Kong demonstrations. So the economy is clearly on his mind on that one.

We'll keep an eye, we'll watch. I just don't understand the moment given what's happening.

When we come back, Elizabeth Warren posts some big fund fundraising numbers.


[12:49:44] KING: Elizabeth Warren today again showing her strength in the Democratic race for president, releasing her third-quarter fundraising numbers and they are big numbers. Let's take a look at the top candidates in terms of fundraising. Elizabeth Warren reporting in the third quarter she raised just shy of $25 million. Bernie Sanders leading the Democratic pack in the last quarter with just over $25 million. You see how they did in the second quarter.

[12:50:05] Both Mayor Buttigieg and former vice president Joe Biden dropped if you will, 21 in the second quarter, just over 15 for Joe Biden. Just shy of 25 in the second quarter, down to 19. Still an impressive haul there for the mayor but dropping down. But this is a big number for Senator Warren who, of course, we've also seen rise both in the national and the early state polls.

Let's take a closer look at more of the Democrats, more of the Democratic candidates here and we add in the president. He doesn't have a major challenge yet, some challengers but nobody causing him a problem. A $125 million in the last quarter but the president is going to have a giant bankroll when one of these Democrats emerges to challenge him. The ranges, I said, Senator Bernie Sanders is over $25 million, Andrew Yang at $10, Cory Booker at $6, Marianne Williamson at $3, Senator Michael Bennett, $2.1. These are the range of the Democrats.

Twenty-five almost, $25 million for Elizabeth Warren, also the rise in the polls, she again, has the president's attention.


TRUMP: Elizabeth Pocahontas Warren, you know, when I used to hit her, I thought she was gone. I thought she was gone. She came up from the ashes. She emerged. Now we're probably going to have to do it again because I don't see sleepy Joe making it, I tell you. No, I thought she was gone.


KING: I just want you to note for the record that was an official, taxpayer-funded quote-unquote policy event. All presidents do them, some presidents involved politics in them. That was kind of over the top. But Elizabeth Warren does have his attention again because if you're in the Democratic race, she was the growth stock all summer long. There was no question she was going to have an impressive fundraising haul but she doesn't do the big donor fundraisers. That's a good number.

SHAWNA THOMAS, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, VICE NEWS: It is a good number, and she should have his attention, to be honest. I mean, the thing is, all of these things, the fundraising numbers which we were all breathlessly waiting for in-between breathlessly waiting for more information about the impeachment, as well as the polling that keeps going on, it is all going in the right direction for her. And all that matters right now are trends. One thing is enough to say who is going to be the nominee.

But putting the president aside, if you're Joe Biden or if you're Bernie Sanders, you are -- you should be worried and trying to figure out how are you going to spend your money to get to where Elizabeth Warren is getting because she is getting traction out in the world.

KING: I said the flips, you know, he is noticing her. She was asked yesterday, Senator Warren was asked about the president. All that money. One of these Democrats is going to emerge and the president is going to be fully loaded in terms of his bank account. and he's spending weeks and months testing things now because he has so much money. He's on Facebook, he's doing other things testing it. And she says no worries.


SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If you think it's going to be all about scooping up a bunch of money from rich people and then buying a bunch of TV ads, and that's how it is someone is going to win, then, yeah, it looks like Trump is doing a lot here and the Republicans. I just don't think that's how democracy works anymore.


KING: Is she right?

BASH: Well, she's right about -- maybe she's right about ads, and maybe she's right about, you know, who he gets his money from. But what they're doing at the Trump campaign is spending that money on identifying every single person with a pulse over 18 who might even think about possibly voting for Donald Trump and figuring out -- starting to figure out how to target those voters to make sure they get out and vote. The DNC, I'm not sure if they're there yet. They certainly don't seem to be there, and the question as it was in 2018 is whether it is the machine or the passion and whether or not there is enough passion for a Democrat no matter who they are that can overcome the very, very technical micro-targeting that the Trump campaign is already starting to plan.

LERER: And you do feel like the Democrat will have the money. There's a lot of money out there in the field as we saw from all those numbers, those will consolidate. And Elizabeth Warren, I think it's important to note, has not said whether she would accept, you know, money from big donors in the general. She's not doing it in the primary. She may do it in the general. It's just that they'll be starting from a deficit in terms of operation and that is the crucial point.

KING: And she mentioned the big donors, yes, President Trump and the Republicans do get a lot of big donors, but the president also has a very impressive -- you know, to defend him, small-donor network. And that's what his campaign manager is focusing on. Brad Parscale saying this, he says, the impeachment drive is helping the Trump campaign. He said this in a RealClear Politics op-ed piece. "If the groundswell of small-dollar donations flowing into the Trump campaign's coffers offers any indication, the Democrats are going to pay a terrible price for indulging the demands of their radical base."

Trying to make the case, there's no question from a fundraising perspective it's helping the president. We don't know what's happening among independents and the broader electorate. But they're making more money.

SWANSON: But -- and with money comes the ability to also define who your opponents are. And the other thing that they can do because he is currently the president and he will be the Republican nominee for the presidency despite the other people running is make a decision that they're going to flood social media with ads, they'll try to define Elizabeth Warren in the way that he is trying to also define Joe Biden right now.

[12:55:08] And that -- like that is his prerogative and it gives them a leg up on all of this.

BENDER: I think if there's any justifiable criticism of the Trump machine up to this point is that they haven't done a good enough job raising money from big donors. It's starting to change a little bit, but you're right, this impeachment probe is tailor-made for the small- dollar donor kind of pitches that the Trump campaign makes. And it's a sign of not any move in the middle but that this election for the Trump campaign is definitely going to be about the base. That was true two weeks ago, and more so right now.

KING: Appreciate you all coming in on this crazy day. Have a good weekend. Thanks for joining us on INSIDE POLITICS. Brianna Keilar starts after a very quick break. Take care.