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House Dems Drafting Subpoenas For White House Documents And Demanding Documents From Pence In Impeachment Inquiry; Ex Diplomat: Trump Said Ukraine "Tried To Take Me Down" And Was Influenced By Negative Information From Giuliani; Rep. Eric Swalwell (D), California Is Interviewed About The Impeachment Inquiry; Texts Show Efforts By Trump Envoys To Get Ukraine To Probe Bidens Amid Concern About Quid Pro Quo; Angry Biden Declares Trump "Has Indicted Himself"; Texts Show Efforts by Trump Envoy to Get Ukraine to Probe Bidens Amid Concern About Quid Pro Quo; As Denuclearization Talks Resume, North Korea Warns New Submarine-Based Missile is a "Time Bomb, Fearful Dagger". Aired 5-6p ET
Aired October 4, 2019 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
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WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Happening now, breaking news. Seeking more documents. House Democrats are drafting subpoenas compelling the White House to turn over the documents they've demanded as part of the impeachment inquiry and now they're also seeking documents from Vice President Pence as their investigation widens.
Build that stonewall. President Trump threatens not to comply with Democrats' demands for documents saying the full House needs to vote on the impeachment inquiry first, a dare contained a new Republican National Committee talking points obtained by CNN.
Smoking text. House Democrats release damning text messages between Trump representatives showing efforts to get Ukraine to give the President the Biden investigation he wanted. Tonight, details on the opening statement of the closed door congressional testimony by the former U.S. Special Envoy for Ukraine.
And ticking time bomb. North Korea engages in tough talk and diplomacy touting its newest weapon, a submarine-based missile calling it, and I'm quoting now, fearful dagger even as denuclearization talks with the U.S. resume.
I'm Wolf Blitzer and you're in "The Situation Room."
The breaking news this hour, House Democrats are now drafting subpoenas for White House documents as part of their impeachment inquiry into President Trump. Those could come at any time. They're also now separately demanding documents from Vice President Pence as the investigation into the Ukraine scandal deepens. We'll talk about the breaking news much more with Congressman Eric Swalwell of the Intelligence and Judiciary Committees. And our correspondents and analysts are also standing by.
First, let's go straight to Capitol Hill. Our Congressional Reporter Lauren Fox is on the scene for us. Lauren, the panels investigating the President set. Today is the deadline for getting these documents but it appears the White House is not going to comply.
LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: Well that's right, Wolf. The House Foreign Relationships Committee, Intelligence Committee and Oversight Committee, they wanted documents from the White House today that would help them with their inquiry into the impeachment of President Donald Trump. Now, Wolf, what is so key about these documents is that the White House doesn't seem to be complying so they have threatened that they will move forward with the subpoena. It's late in the day so that could be coming any time.
Also today, the same three committees asked for documents from the Vice President Mike Pence and in a letter today the chairman wrote, "Recently, public reports have raised questions about any role you may have played in conveying or reinforcing the President's stark message to the Ukrainian President". That's what the chairman wrote and they went on to say, "The reports include specific references to a member of your staff who may have participated directly in the July 25th call. Documents you may have obtained or reviewed including the records of the call and your September 1st meeting with the Ukrainian President in Warsaw during which you reportedly discussed the administration's hold on U.S. security assistance to Ukraine".
So, a lot of document requests coming from Capitol Hill as they seek to move rapidly in their impeachment inquiry, Wolf.
BLITZER: We'll see what happens. The clock is clearly ticking. Right now, Lauren Fox, thank you.
Let's go to the White House right now. Our Chief White House Correspondent Jim Acosta is there. Jim, what's the reaction there to this world wind developments.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: It seems, Wolf, the stonewalling continues. President Trump threatened to fire off a letter today from the White House saying that White House lawyers will not cooperate until House Democrats hold a vote on their impeachment inquiry. We are just finding out now that letter may not be coming from the White House until Monday at the earliest. And that there is a bit of an internal debate going on inside the President's impeachment team as to whether or not to fire off that letter.
Now, as for this request for information from Vice President Mike Pence, his office has just responded with a statement saying that this request for documents and other information, quote, does not appear to be a serious request and so the Vice President's office is now knocking that down. There is a quote there from Katie Waldman, the Vice President's Press Secretary but President Trump, he was in full damage control mode today, Wolf, cleaning up his plea for China and Ukraine to dig up dirt on Joe Biden. His performance today here at the White House seemed aimed at fending off these charges that he's seeking the assistance of foreign countries to help him in his re- election bid in 2020. The President -- the problem though for him is that he's already made this plea in front of the cameras.
ACOSTA (voice-over): With mounting evidence he solicited foreign interference in the 2020 election, President Trump is changing his story. Insisting he's now more interested in rooting out corruption than investigating former Vice President Joe Biden.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don't care about Biden's campaign. What I do care about corruption.
His campaign, that's up to him. Politics, that's up to them. I don't care about politics. So we are looking at corruption. We're not looking at politics. We're looking at corruption.
ACOSTA (voice-over): But that is not how the President laid it out the day before when he directly called on Ukraine and China to dig up some Biden family dirt.
TRUMP: It's a very simple answer. They should investigate the Bidens. By the way, likewise China should start an investigation into the Bidens. Because what happened in China is just about as bad as what happened with Ukraine.
ACOSTA (voice-over): Now the President is claiming he never thought Biden would win the Democratic nomination.
TRUMP: I think he would be an easy opponent. But I never thought Biden was going to win. I don't care about politics. But I do care about corruption.
ACOSTA (voice-over): And Mr. Trump could not answer whether he was seeking corruption probes in foreign countries that don't include Democratic candidates.
EAMON JAVERS, WASHINGTON REPORTER, CNBC: Have you asked foreign leaders for any corruption investigation that don't involve your political opponents? And are there other cases --
TRUMP: You know, we would have to look --
ACOSTA (voice-over): So far at least one Republican is not buying it. As Utah Senator Mitt Romney tweeted, "By all appearances, the President's brazen and unprecedented appeal to China and to Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden is wrong and appalling". But Romney is mostly alone in the GOP.
Florida Senator Marco Rubio tells CNN affiliate WFOR, Mr. Trump is just trolling the media.
SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: I don't know if that's a real request or him just needling the press knowing that you guys we're going to get outraged by it. He's gotten -- he's pretty good at getting everybody fired up and he's been doing that for a while and the media responded right on task.
ACOSTA (voice-over): That may explain why the President is confident the Republican controlled Senate will hold its ground and keep Mr. Trump in office if House Democrats vote to impeach.
TRUMP: They have no choice. They have to follow the leadership and then we'll get it to the Senate and we'll going to win. The Republicans have been very unified.
ACOSTA (voice-over): But the impeachment inquiry has found its way to Congressional town halls. Iowa's Joni Ernst got an earful at one in her state.
AMY HASKINS, IOWA VOTER AT ERNST TOWN HALL: Where is the line? When are you guys going to say enough?
SEN. JONI ERNST (R), IOWA: Yes. Good question. So --
ACOSTA (voice-over): Aren't you breaking the law asking for foreign help?
The President is also not answering whether he had violated the law. The Chair of the Federal Election Commission says the law is clear. "It is illegal for any person to solicit, accept, or receive anything of value from a foreign national in connection with the U.S. election." Mr. Trump appears to be relishing his latest fire storm claiming his battles with the media have invigorated the Christian faith.
TRUMP: I got a call the other night from pastors, the biggest pastors. Evangelical Christians. They said we have never seen our religion or any religion so electrified.
ACOSTA (voice-over): The President is describing the latest job numbers in almost biblical terms.
TRUMP: Asia is doing poorly to put it mildly. And we continue to do very well with a miracle.
ACOSTA: And the President says none of this has to do with politics but it's worth noting he is now fundraising off of the Bidens for days as well as this impeachment probe. And Mr. Trump has been telling his allies, he doesn't believe he's done anything wrong in seeking foreign help for his reelection next year. A source close the White House who had spoken with the President in recent days says the President is, quote, going for broke. Wolf?
BLITZER: All right, Jim, thank you. Jim Acosta at the White House.
We're also learning new details behind the scenes efforts by President Trump representatives to give Ukraine -- to get Ukraine to give the President the investigation of the Bidens he wanted.
Our Political Correspondent Sara Murray is joining us. Sara, there are some potentially key evidence in these text messages that House Democrats have now released.
SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. I mean, between the text messages and what we know about this testimony, you can really see how the relationship between the U.S. and Ukraine began to hinge on whether Ukraine is willing to play ball in the President's investigations. And behind the scenes, diplomats were scrambling to try to smooth over this relationship.
MURRAY (voice-over): Tonight, CNN has obtained former U.S. Special Envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker's opening statement to the House Intelligence Committee. Revealing how Rudy Giuliani tainted President Trump's thinking on Ukraine. Volker claims Giuliani peddled dubious information as President Trump remained convinced Ukraine was full of terrible people who tried to take me down. A reference to the unproven allegations that Ukraine was involved in the 2016 election meddling. Volker described diplomats struggling to manage the fallout and convinced Trump that the new Ukrainian leadership could be trusted.
VOLODYMYR ZELENSKY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT: Thank you very Mr. President.
MURRAY (voice-over): Hours before Trump spoke with Ukrainian President Zelensky by phone on July 25th, Volker was working behind the scenes to try to ensure a smooth conversation between the two world leaders. "Heard from White House House, assuming President Z convinces Trump he will investigate, get to the bottom of what happened in 2016, we will nail down date for visit to Washington." Volker said via text to an adviser to the Ukrainian President, Andrey Yermak.
On the call, Trump pressed Zelensky to investigate the Biden family and Trump's unfounded belief that it was the Ukrainians not the Russians who meddled in the 2016 election.
REP. MIKE QUIGLEY (D), INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: When you read these texts, is it basically substantiate every aspect of the whistleblower's complaint that the President of the United States coerced (ph) a foreign power to help himself politically.
MURRAY (voice-over): Days earlier, Giuliani had breakfast with Volker. Volker testified that he told Giuliani, "It is not credible to me that former Vice President Biden would have been influenced in any way by financial or personal motives in carrying out his duties as Vice President".
In the weeks after Trump's call with Zelensky, Ukraine was still trying to get a face-to-face meeting with Trump. Gordon Sondland, U.S. Ambassador to the European Union texted Volker to say, "I think potus really wants the deliverable". They set out to get a statement from Ukraine that might sue (ph) Trump's demands. That statement was never issued. Volker testified that he wasn't aware of efforts to push Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden. And he differentiated investigations into Biden with a probe into Burisma, the Ukrainian company Biden's son served on the board of. He said that as unfounded accusations against the Bidens came out publicly, he urged Ukrainians not to interfere in U.S. politics.
Volker also testified he didn't see a link between the push to investigate 2016 and the freeze in military aid to Ukraine. But other diplomats were suspicious. Bill Taylor, a senior U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, repeatedly raised concerns about with holding aid. "As I said on the phone, I think it's crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign." He told Sondland in September.
"Bill, I believe you are incorrect about President Trump's intentions. The President has been crystal clear, no quid pro quos of any kind," Sondland replied. Still the revelations unsettled lawmakers including at least one member of the GOP.
REP. WILL HURD (R), INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: I think some of these things are indeed damning. It's a confirmation of some of the veracity of the whistleblower's report.
MURRAY: Now in September, Sondland was the one who is saying that there was no quid pro quo, Wolf. But apparently, his tone changed in the course of less than two weeks. Previously, he had a conversation with Republican Senator Ron Johnson, this is according to the Wall Street Journal where he told the Senator that this aid to Ukraine was, in fact, tied to President Trump wanting Ukraine to pursue these investigations. The President apparently told Ron Johnson that that was not what was going on and all of a sudden in these text messages, the diplomat's tone changed.
BLITZER: All right, Sara, thanks very much. A lot going on. Sara Murray with us here in "The Situation Room."
Let's bring in Democratic Congressman Eric Swalwell of California. He's a member of both the Intelligence and Judiciary Committees. Congressman, thanks so much for joining us.
REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D-CA), INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Of course, good evening, Wolf.
BLITZER: I may have to interrupt you. Chairman of the Intelligence Committee Adam Schiff may be emerging from this long meeting that you guys have had today with the Inspector General of the Intelligence Community Michael Atkinson. I want to hear what he has to say. You'll stand by. We'll discuss that as well. But let's get to some of the key issues unfolding right now. First of all, tell us more about the documents your committee is now seeking from the Vice President Mike Pence.
SWALWELL: Well the question, Wolf, here is, was the Vice President a part of this presidential extortion of Ukraine? We know the President was tieing a meeting to the White -- a meeting at the White House and it looks like security assistance to Ukraine in exchange for the Ukrainians investigating the Bidens and exonerating the Russians. The Vice President had a meeting with the Ukrainian President on August 30 in Warsaw standing in for the President. The security assistance at that point had not been given to Ukrainians. So was he a part of this scheme that the whistleblower described and the President has confessed to.
BLITZER: You're also preparing subpoenas for the White House. The President as you know is threatening not to comply unless the full House of Representatives formally votes to open an impeachment inquiry. Should the House hold that vote?
SWALWELL: Wolf, you know, we're going to do this on our timetable. Not the accused's timetable. And, you know, the President, you know, has a legal obligation to comply. We're going to seek their compliance. But we have a confession from the President. We have cooperating witnesses, we have text messages that were turned over yesterday from a former U.S. Ambassador. We're going to give this President a fair process but it's also going to be a swift process and we're not going to let him continue to obstruct us and prevent us from getting to the bottom of this.
BLITZER: But don't you think that holding a formal vote and getting the 218 vote majority would bolster your legal authority to get the documents, the witnesses you're seeking.
SWALWELL: Well, Wolf, you know, we have an investigation that was voted on in the House Judiciary Committee. We have the speaker saying we have a formal impeachment inquiry. We're doing the work of bringing witnesses in and there may be a vote on impeachment. But, again, when you have a confession from the suspect, you don't really need to interview a thousand witnesses and go through millions of documents. We're going to have a fair process but he's made a lot of the work easy for us.
BLITZER: Let's talk about the new details we're learning from information turned over by the former Special Envoy to Ukraine, Kurt Volker.
You're in the room for Kurt Volker's deposition, and it went on for some nine hours yesterday. What's the most significant new piece of information he shared?
SWALWELL: That there were others in the State Department concerned that the President was extorting the Ukrainians asking them to investigate the 2016 election and also investigate his upcoming opponent. One phrase from one individual Bill Taylor was it would be crazy to withhold security assistance in exchange for help on the President's political campaign.
Wolf, so many of us throughout this administration have seen followers and minions and sycophants and we've been wondering if there is a proof of honor, people inside of the administration who are doing the right thing. We saw that proof of honor through Bill Taylor. We now hope that others will come forward just like this whistleblower through the proper channels, do the right thing. Only the republic is counting on that.
BLITZER: Bill Taylor, a career diplomat, a charge d'affaires in Kyiv in Ukraine. The acting ambassador after the other ambassador was brought back to Washington. Do you think there is an explicit quid pro quo, Congressman, in the text messages that Volker shared?
SWALWELL: Well, Bill Taylor expressed concern that there was a quid pro quo. The President said I have a favor to ask though. You know, I would call that a quid pro, though.
BLITZER: That was in the phone conversation --
SWALWELL: That's right.
BLITZER: -- with President Zelensky.
SWALWELL: So in the history of quid pro quos, though, Wolf, no one has ever said, hey, I have a quid pro quo for you. I think the President came pretty close. That's not even the standard though. I think you see in that presidential confession that he was leveraging U.S. help for Ukrainians in exchange for them helping him in his election.
BLITZER: What are you hearing privately from Republicans who have seen the same evidence you have?
SWALWELL: Yes. I talked to one Republican today who did express concern, just wanted to make sure that the President got a fair process. And I understand that sentiment. We don't want, you know, to have mob justice or a rush, you know, to an outcome here and we want to give him a fair process but that also means that the President when we ask for documents has to turn them over. And if he is not willing to do that, then we should consider putting his refusal to do that in the bucket of obstruction of Congress and categorize that as a consciousness of guilt.
BLITZER: Have you scheduled depositions with the current U.S. Ambassador, the European Union Gordon Sondland who's also involved in all of these discussions.
SWALWELL: He's on our witness list and I'm going to let Chairman Schiff, you know, announce the upcoming timetable.
BLITZER: We're expecting Chairman Schiff to walk out of the meeting. As you know, he's been hearing -- all of you guys today have been briefed by the Intelligence Community's Inspector General, Michael Atkinson, about his efforts to corroborate the whistleblower complaint. First of all, what could you tell us about what you learned today?
SWALWELL: Well, we heard a couple of weeks ago from the Inspector General that he made a conclusion that the whistleblower's complaint regarding the presidential phone call was urgent and credible. Today, we learned the process that went into making that conclusion. We learned about the investigation he conducted and we have only reinforced our belief that it was a proper conclusion and that the arrows continue to point in only one direction which was that our President was leveraging your taxpayer dollars to get help in a presidential election that would only benefit himself and no other American.
BLITZER: Congressman Eric Swalwell, thanks so much for joining us.
SWALWELL: My pleasure. Thanks, Wolf.
BLITZER: And to our viewers, stay with us. There's a lot more we have on the breaking news. House Democrats keep up the pressure in the Trump impeachment investigation by requesting documents from the Vice President Mike Pence.
Also breaking, a very angry Joe Biden just fired back at President Trump. You're going to hear what he just said.
BLITZER: Breaking news. Just a short time ago on California, the former Vice President Joe Biden responded very angrily to the allegations and the innuendo President Trump has been throwing at him. CNN's Jessica Dean is joining us from Los Angeles. Jessica, tell us more about what Biden just said.
JESSICA DEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Wolf, he came in to speak to reporters and, you know, typically they'll wait for questions, the candidates he launched right into what he had to say today. He was forceful. He really had a lot to say, he want to get it off his chest. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: All of this talk of the President about corruption comes from the most corrupt President we've had in modern history. He's the definition of corruption. He's corrupted the agencies of government from the Defense Department, from the State Department, from the Justice Department, all about making sure that he, in fact, allows somebody else to pick his opponent for him. That's what this is about.
And I am not going to stand for it. And I'm not going to respond to it. I'm not going to talk about anything other than what the facts are. He's indicted himself by his own statements.
The constitutional process not with standing what he calls it, he calls the impeachment inquiry a coup. A coup. He talks about how we should handle whistleblowers. He talks about there will be a civil war. This is a guy that's unhinged. He is unhinged.
I worry about what he's going to do. Not about me or my family. I worried about what he'll do in the next year of the presidency.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DEAN: Vice President Biden going on after that to say he's very worried about what President Trump could do as it pertains to the U.S. international interest, Wolf. Again, asking the rhetorical question, if anyone had ever seen a President so unhinged, Wolf?
BLITZER: We'll see how the President responds to the former Vice President. Jessica Dean in Los Angeles, thanks very much.
We've got lots to discuss. There's lots of breaking news. We've got our experts here, our analysts. Much more right after this.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: We're following multiple breaking stories including a very angry Joe Biden just now declaring Donald Trump, and I'm quoting the former Vice President, as the most corrupt president in modern history. Also telling reporters the President, once again, I'm quoting, has indicted himself by his own statements.
Let's bring in our correspondents and our analysts to appreciate what we just heard. John King, what do you think?
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, look, almost everything the President says about Joe Biden and his family is reckless, irresponsible, false, unsubstantiated, unproven, and wrong. Right? Let's just put that out there.
But this is still testing time for Joe Biden because he -- number one, he was slipping in the race even before this a little bit. Elizabeth Warren closing the gap and making it a very competitive Democratic race.
Number two, Democrats lived this in 2016 where Trump threw a lot at Hillary Clinton that was not fair, out of context, some of it false, some of it reckless, and she lost. So Democrats are thinking, do we want to live through this again? So for him to show fight is very important, and for him to show energy is very important.
The other day, he read a statement where he said I'm not going anywhere, but he looked down. It was a prepared entertainment, he looked down. To have Joe Biden looking into the camera, showing the fight, this is a big moment for him. He has to convince, number one, the voters he has to stick with him.
Number two, can he make this an opportunity? He's under attack from the man all Democrats don't like. Even if you support another Democrat in this race, you don't like President Trump. Can he use this as an opportunity to get new votes, to hold what he's got and maybe build, or does this hurt him even though most of it is reckless and unfair? So it's testing time for him and that's important.
BLITZER: What do you think, Gloria?
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: No, I agree. I think at some point, Joe Biden is going to have to directly answer questions about Hunter Biden, for example, but perhaps not at this point. And I think that he's got good answers because, as John was saying, everything that's been thrown out there, the conspiracy theories, have proven to be untrue. But he's going to have to say it, right? And he might have to say it in some detail.
But I do think he's got to show that this angers him. And I think what he started to do today, he will do more of because he took it from -- you know, he said this is not about the Bidens, this is about the country. And that is what Nancy Pelosi has been saying. This is about the constitution; it's not about politics. And so, the Democrats are all on the same page on that message.
BLITZER: And you keep hearing the President, Sara, ridicule the former Vice President as a loser. He tried to run for president twice before. He was a one-percenter, he said. The only way he was saved is because Barack Obama saved him and gave him a job, but he's weak, he's old. You've heard that -- those accusations from the President.
SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Right. And, you know, a lot of these things, Donald Trump suffers from a lot of the same problems. You know, Donald Trump is no spring chicken. Donald Trump has plenty of issues of conflicts that are spreading around his own family and his own business empire.
But I think when you look at, you know, Joe Biden trying to field these attacks, you know, this is a good sort of moment for him to practice. Before long, if he does become the Democratic nominee, he is going to be on the debate stage.
He is going to be up against Trump, and Trump will have all kinds of things to throw at him involving his family and involving whatever other conspiracy theory the President has decided to embrace on any given day. Because he doesn't care if the facts are true or not, he cares if the punch lands. And Joe Biden is going to need to figure out how he is going to field those attacks and now is the time to be figuring that out and to be practicing.
BLITZER: What were the most important things, Shawn, you learned from the -- and we got a lot of new information from these text messages, from these statements from these witnesses who are now coming forward.
SHAWN TURNER, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, you know, what stood out to me most is, you know, these text messages were so matter of fact and conclusive with regard to what these individuals understood they were supposed to be doing on behalf of the President.
What I expected to see with these text messages was some sort of nuance and cryptic language between individuals who were maybe getting messages who -- on behalf of the President or kind of intimating what they thought the President wanted, but this is very clear.
They understood. They mentioned the President's name, the President wanted Zelensky to open an investigation, and they say that. And they even say the President wanted the deliverable.
So what was really clear to me is that this is out in the open. At no point did these individuals kind of stop and say, you know, look, it's a bad idea for us to be talking so openly and so candid about this in text messages. They seem to have no understanding that this is inappropriate.
KING: Sondland does at the end.
TURNER: He does --
KING: Sondland --
TURNER: He does at the end.
KING: Sondland catches at the end.
KING: You're right, yes.
TURNER: But if you look at the language that Sondland uses --
TURNER: -- it's different from the language that he's been using --
BORGER: Well --
KING: Right, they're having a chatty text conversation and then --
BORGER: I think we have it, yes.
KING: After a four-hour delay, finally (ph).
BLITZER: Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union. We're going to discuss that. We've got a lot more to discuss. Let's take a quick break. We'll be right back.
BLITZER: We're back with our correspondents and our analysts.
And, Gloria, the text messages that the House Democrats have released, the President cited one of those text messages as evidence that there was no quid pro quo, no demand on the Ukrainians to get dirt on Biden in exchange for aid, economic and military aid, or a meeting with the President. He points to this exchange that is one of the text messages on September 9th from Bill Taylor, who's the Acting U.S. ambassador, the charge, in Ukraine, to Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union.
This is Bill Taylor. As I said on the phone, I think it's crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign. Sondland texts back, Bill, I believe you are incorrect about President Trump's intentions. The President has been crystal clear, no quid pro quos of any kind.
BORGER: Well, and we should also note that there was a great deal of time that lapsed between those two things. First of all, the conversation that they were having on text was a very casual kind of conversation.
BORGER: Then suddenly, Bill Taylor says, as I said on the phone, this is crazy, you can't have this kind of thing going on. And then suddenly, the tone of Sondland, later --
BORGER: -- changes into what is effectively a disclaimer, like something on a medicine bottle which says, you know, this can cause whatever, and says --
KING: That somebody just reminded me they preserve these things.
MURRAY: Just in case.
BORGER: Yes, in case of a leak.
BORGER: And it sounds like it was written by a lawyer --
BORGER: -- which says, by the way, no, no, no, there was no quid pro quo. And if you read the entire text, it says the President is trying to evaluate whether Ukraine is truly going to adopt the transparency and reforms that Zelensky promised.
BORGER: So he then picks up the party line when we know from "The Wall Street Journal" reporting that, weeks before, he had met with a Republican Senator, Johnson, and said just the opposite. It's --
KING: In an interview, Senator Ron Johnson said he learned of a potential quid pro quo from the U.S. ambassador to the European Union --
KING: -- Gordon Sondland. Johnson then calls the President, saying what's going on, and the President denies it, according to this excellent reporting in "The Wall Street Journal." So this is why the Democrats want to have witnesses. This is why the Democrats want to air this out.
BORGER: Two stories.
KING: Sondland, in a text, says no quid pro quo; Sondland tells a Republican Senator, I'm worried the President has a quid pro quo here. This is the issue where -- this is why this is going to take weeks and months, but you need the witnesses to sort it out because that's a clear discrepancy.
BORGER: And I think Taylor was trying to put it on the record here, don't you?
BORGER: And say, oh --
BLITZER: Taylor, a career diplomat, Sara, a foreign service officer, the charge in the Ukraine; Sondland, a political appointee. He was named the U.S. ambassador to the European Union after giving, what, a million dollars to the Trump campaign during the election.
MURRAY: Yes. I mean, they're in very different positions in terms of how they ended up in the middle of this issue. And you can really tell that by the way their messages are going back and forth. And you can also tell that by how concerned Bill Taylor is by what we're doing at that time, what messages it's sending to the Ukraine and to the Russians.
He's basically saying, you know, the Ukrainians are going to believe that they cannot depend on us, and the Russians are going to be essentially overjoyed that we are stalling on this assistance, especially if we decide to back out and not provide it. At the same time as the President is essentially tapping the Ukrainians to say, hey, take the fall for election meddling, so we don't have to blame our good friends Russia over here.
And so, Bill Taylor is just kind of appalled in these messages at these signals that they're sending across the region. Whereas, you read these messages from Gordon Sondland and it kind of sounds like he's playing, you know, a much political and sort of legally wary game.
TURNER: Yes, and that was --
BLITZER: Because, Shawn, there's another text --
BLITZER: -- on September 8th from Bill Taylor who was in Ukraine, the career diplomat, to Gordon Sondland, the political appointee, the U.S. ambassador to the E.U., and Kurt Volker, the special envoy for Ukraine. It reads like this -- the nightmare is they give the interview and don't get the security assistance. The Russians love it. And I quit.
TURNER: Yes, absolutely. And he's absolutely right. Look, Bill Taylor is the kind of person who -- you know, we talked a little bit about how concerned he would be and how concerned these text messages reveal he would be. He is on -- he is very likely to have shared his concern, his anguish, with other people. And so, from that perspective, we know there are other -- there are probably other people out there who can corroborate this.
That text message, though, communicates very clearly that he was not only concerned about what was happening overall, but he was willing to -- and, you know, he may have been joking there, but he was willing to take some action on his own behalf in order to protest this. So it's very likely that there are other people who can corroborate these.
BLITZER: And all of a sudden, the Vice President, Mike Pence, has been brought into this, big time. The House Democrats are seeking his cooperation, his documents.
KING: Yes, they -- because he is central to some key events here. He was supposed to go to the inauguration of Zelensky; he was pulled back. They sent Rick Perry, the Energy Secretary, instead. Then he did have some meetings and conversations with Zelensky, both in person and on the phone, in between when all of this is playing out. So the Democrats are now saying, what do you have? What documents do you have?
His national security adviser, General Kellogg, was on the July 25th phone call with the President of the United States. The Vice President says he didn't know about the Biden part of that call. Well, it was in his briefing book when he was traveling to Europe. So this is a -- we go back to Iran Contra. The Vice President is now saying he was out of the loop.
It was in his briefing book. So did he not do his homework for the meeting and read his briefing book so he could be fully prepared, or is he forgetting that he read the call, or did he read it and not find it troubling that the President of the United States brought up the debunked conspiracy theory about Ukraine hacking into the elections and the Vice President? Did he read it and was he not concerned, or did he not read a very critical document going into a very important meeting?
BORGER: And you have to also ask the question of whether he had a conversation with the President who said to him, you know, you're not going to go, I don't want you to go to the inauguration. And then what the -- he would say --
KING: Why? Did he ask --
BORGER: -- why?
BORGER: And then, did the President not say to him because, you know, they're not doing what I asked them to do about investigating Joe Biden and Hunter Biden? I mean, the President will say that to anybody we now know, so would he --
TURNER: No, the Vice President --
BORGER: Wouldn't he have said that to his Vice President?
TURNER: Vice President Pence continues to take this position of being uninformed or not well prepared for these meetings, and that's an unsustainable position. There are people on his staff who are responsible for preparing and then making sure that he sees and reads what he needs to read, and he continues with saying, I didn't see it, I didn't read it, I wasn't aware. He's going to have to change that.
MURRAY: Yes. I think it gets pretty unsustainable when the transcript of the call is in your briefing book. And if you are Mike Pence and this is not your first time dealing with a foreign leader on behalf of this government of the United States, you want to know what the President's been saying.
I mean, I know that his team likes to say he was out of the loop, he wasn't in the loop on this, you know, we found out just before it happened or just after it happened; but he knows when he is going on the world stage, he's representing himself to these other countries, that he needs to know what the President has said before. So it just stretches the imagination.
BLITZER: And his national -- Pence's national security adviser, as you pointed --
BLITZER: -- was on the call with Pompeo and a whole bunch of others listening to the President --
BLITZER: -- and Zelensky have this conversation.
All right, everybody, stick around. There is more breaking news. Diplomacy and threats from North Korea as denuclearization talks resume under the threat -- and I'm quoting now -- of a ticking time bomb.
BLITZER: Just getting some pictures. Bernie Sanders has been released. He's been able to leave the hospital. There you see him right now waving with his wife as they walk out of the hospital he spent the last few days after going through a couple of stent operations involving his heart. Leaving the hospital in Las Vegas.
We're told he's heading back to Vermont to spend a few days there. And hopefully, he'll recuperate rather quickly. There he is, a live picture, in the front seat of that vehicle. They're presumably going to be heading over to the airport and then flying back to Vermont for a few days of rest, which is totally understandable. He was smiling. He looked pretty good.
Meanwhile, there's other important news we're following as well, including some tough new talk from North Korea tonight even as it's believed to have resumed negotiations with the U.S. over denuclearization.
CNN's Brian Todd is here with the latest. Brian, the Kim regime is touting its newest weapon.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The regime is very excited about this weapon, Wolf, a newly tested submarine-launched ballistic missile. Analysts say, tonight, North Korea is using a notorious tactic from its own playbook, talking peace while pointing a figurative gun at America.
TODD (voice-over): Tonight, just as there is new activity inside North Korea's embassy in Sweden where sources say new talks with the U.S. are beginning --
(SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
TODD (voice-over): -- there are fiery new threats coming from inside the reclusive country. North Korean state media bragging about the medium-range missile it just test-fired this week. They call it the Pukguksong-3, slated to be deployed from a gigantic nuclear-capable submarine Kim's regime is building. And in a new statement, the North Koreans say the Pukguksong is a time bomb for their adversaries and, quote, the most fearful dagger that will destruct all enemies.
THOMAS KARAKO, DIRECTOR OF THE MISSILE DEFENSE PROJECT, CENTER FOR STRATEGIC AND INTERNATIONAL STUDIES: This does look like a more advanced missile than what they've tested in the past over the past three years.
TODD (voice-over): Analysts say the Pukguksong-3 could have a range extending to 1,100 miles. That can't reach the U.S. from North Korea but could reach America's coast if the submarine managed to make its way across the Pacific.
KARAKO: It could be off the West Coast, but, frankly, it also might be off the coast of Alaska or the coast of Hawaii or Guam or Japan. And so, from a defensive side, it certainly poses a much more challenging problem for the United States. TODD (voice-over): Experts say the missile test could have been timed
to coincide with these talks between officials just under Kim Jong-un and President Trump. How much pressure are these diplomats under tonight to kick start a denuclearization process that's gone nowhere since Trump walked out of the Hanoi summit in February?
SCOTT SNYDER, DIRECTOR OF THE PROGRAM ON U.S.-KOREA POLICY, COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS: We don't know on the North Korean side how much pressure they're under. What we do know is that the North Koreans may believe that President Trump is under pressure.
TODD (voice-over): In fact, one source with knowledge of the talks tell CNN, the North Koreans sense an opportunity now, perceiving Trump as politically vulnerable and, quote, starving for a win. It could mean the process is, tonight, at a tipping point.
TODD (on camera): What happens if these talks don't succeed?
SNYDER: Well, it will be kind of back to square one, in some ways. And then the question will be whether the personal relationship between Trump and Kim can be used to prevent us from going all the way back to fire and fury.
TODD: And analysts say it's a safe bet tonight the North Koreans are using that newly tested missile and the new submarine it's going to be deployed on as leverage against the United States in those talks in Stockholm and beyond that.
This is a show of strength for the North Koreans and a threat that, if talks break down, this relationship could indeed go back to the war- like posture that both sides displayed just two years ago -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, Brian, thank you. Brian Todd reporting. Up next, House Democrats now demanding documents from Vice President Mike Pence as the impeachment inquiry widens.