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Democrats Subpoena Pentagon And Budget Office In Ukraine Scandal; The Trump Whistleblower Is About To Go Through Hell. Aired 2- 2:30p ET

Aired October 7, 2019 - 14:00   ET



BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: Someone with firsthand knowledge of the conduct described. That is, according to Attorney Mark Zaid who confirmed the details to CNN and is also representing the first whistleblower.

And this person who is a member of the Intelligence Community has already spoken with the Intelligence Community Inspector General, that as three House subpoenas -- House Committee subpoena the Pentagon and the White House Budget Office for documents on Ukraine military aid.

And over at the White House, you can now add Energy Secretary Rick Perry to the list of top Trump officials ensnared in this whole thing. So let me just take you back to Friday in that phone call about that perfect call between House Republicans and President Trump.

In a bit of a plot twist, the President told lawmakers he didn't even want to talk to Zelensky despite his numerous claims about corruption concerns. No, no. Instead, he says he did so because Secretary Perry, one of the two leaders to discuss a natural gas project.

And for his part, Rick Perry says it was all about energy and not at all about Joe Biden or his son.


RICK PERRY, U.S. ENERGY SECRETARY: Absolutely. I asked the President multiple times, Mr. President, we think it is in the United States and in Ukraine's best interest that you and the President of Ukraine have conversations - that you discuss the options that are there. So absolutely, yes.


BALDWIN: CNN Chief Political Correspondent, Dana Bash is in Washington.

And Dana, that White House transcript that we've all read shows that Trump and Zelensky never discussed the energy issue once. So what's going on here?

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: What's going on is that Rick Perry, who we haven't heard very much from at all, during the Trump administration, three years, almost three years that it's been an effect, and Rick Perry probably wears that as a badge of honor that he stayed below the radar and away from, you know, the media, and probably more importantly, away from the Trump chaos is now fully in it.

And you just played Rick Perry, out of the country, traveling around doing his job as Energy Secretary and saying, excuse me, Mr. President, you're not going to run that bus over me so fast. I'm going to tell you exactly what I did and why I did it.

You know, I'm sure the President isn't very happy with the Energy Secretary's statements. But he just admitted, yes, of course, as Energy Secretary, it was my job to try to get the leaders of these two countries together from the perspective of energy.

You're right. It didn't come up as far as we know on the summary -- based on the summary of this call, but it certainly is not -- goodness -- is not sitting well with Rick Perry to be blamed for this mess.

BALDWIN: Yes. Dana. Thank you very much.

BASH: Thank you.

BALDWIN: And look, let's call it what it is, this crisis of conscience in the Republican Party is on full display, all regarding Trump's requests for Ukraine and China to help investigate a political rival.

The few Republicans who have dared criticize the President, such as Senator Mitt Romney have found themselves under heavy Twitter attack from this President.

The handful of Republicans who are publicly standing up for the President are mounting an unorthodox defense insisting you can't take the President's word seriously claiming Trump was just joking when he spoke on the White House lawn and asked China to investigate Joe Biden.


SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL): I don't think it's a real requirement. Again, I think he did it to gig you guys.

SEN. ROY BLUNT (R-MO): I doubt if that China comment was serious to tell you the truth.

QUESTION: You don't take the President --

BLUNT: The President loves -- no, the President loves to go out on the on the White House drive. I haven't talked to him about this. I don't know what the President was thinking, but I know that he loves to bait the press.

REP. JIM JORDAN (R-OH): I don't think anyone America really believes -- except people may be in the press and some Democrats in Congress -- really believe that the President of the United States thinks China is going to investigate. He is making a statement.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC HOST: Well, he is asking for it and the President hasn't said he's joking. He said a very direct statement. He wasn't smiling. There wasn't laughing. It wasn't a joke. Why can't you answer yes or no? Do you think it's appropriate?

JORDAN: I don't -- because I don't think that's what he did.


BALDWIN: Rick Wilson is a Republican strategist and Mia Love is a former Republican Congresswoman from Utah and a CNN Political Commentator.

Here we go, guys. Thank you so much, both for being with me.

And Rick, I just wanted to start with you.


BALDWIN: This is not a joke. Trump has never said he was joking. Plus, you know, he has tweeted this in reference to a China request, quote, "A lawyers and others have stated, as President, I have an obligation to look into possible or probable corruption." So Rick, since Trump himself isn't using this as a defense, why are Republicans?

WILSON: Because Republicans are living in a climate that they've lived in for several years now of absolute fear of Donald Trump. They fear him more than losing their honor. They fear him more than losing their integrity. They fear a tweet from Donald Trump more than then the most dangerous, you know, poisonous snake.


WILSON: There is -- there is a sense of terror that they don't want to cross him. They'll look for any excuse, no matter how risible and how silly to use to try to defend him. And this whole -- he's just joking. He's pranking the media. It's a very, very thin read to cling to.

And I think it's one that they will regret doing in the few days. Because of course, these things always reveal themselves that, you know, he did ask it, it was serious. He wasn't joking.

These things never work out the way the spin looks at first for the Republican Party.

BALDWIN: The other defense Congresswoman, you know, that we've been hearing from Trump and Republicans is, you know, yes, we did it, but nothing to see here. This is Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Watch this.


MIKE POMPEO, U.S. STATE SECRETARY: Nations do this. Nations work together and they say, boy, goodness gracious, if you can help me with X, we will help you achieve Y. This is what partnerships do. It's win-win. It's better for each of us.

I don't -- I'm not offended when your Prime Minister ask, can you help us with X? Right? It doesn't bother me a lick.


BALDWIN: I mean, well, first of all, Congressman, what Trump was doing, was that help kind of justice? You know, Pompeo was describing and will that defense work?

MIA LOVE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, you know, I like Mike Pompeo. I've worked with him. I believe he feels like he is doing his job. However, the problem that we have here is that he wasn't just looking at all corruption. It was the problem that comes into question is that he is looking at a political opponent.

And that's where you kind of feel like, I wonder if Mike Pompeo was on the other end? If he would say, OK, are you asking me this just because he is a political opponent? Or are you asking me to look into this? Because you're really concerned about corruption? And I think that that's where you get a little -- you get a little bit -- you start to question, what the motivation is.

The other thing also is, I don't think that people are just looking for excuses to defend the President. I think that there's been some mistrust back and forth, and I think that there are some members of the GOP that have justified some of these things in their minds. They're sitting there saying, well, this can't actually be happening, so it must be this or it must be that. I just think that --

BALDWIN: Why are they doing that?

LOVE: I know.

BALDWIN: It is like a Republican reckoning now.

LOVE: Well, here's that problem, too. No, but there's a reason. Think about this, all of the Republicans that have gone out that have stood up and put themselves out on the limb --

BALDWIN: Are done.

LOVE: Or targeted by Democrats, and they're done. They're done. So what you have is a division in the Republican Party here. You've got people who are standing up who are saying, wait, this doesn't sound right, like Senator Mitt Romney.

And then you've got other people that are saying, hey, you know, you're absolutely out of your mind here. The whole thing is bizarre. And I think what's sad is that the work of the American people isn't getting done.

Everybody is doubtful. Everybody is questioning. They don't trust the United States government any longer. BALDWIN: Let me let me play one more clip. And then Rick, I want to

hear from you. You know, I found this. She used bizarre as a word. This is another Republican senator going a disturbing step further. This is Senator Ron Johnson, on the Sunday shows, saying he doesn't trust the CIA and FBI


SEN. RON JOHNSON (R-WI): I just want the truth. The American people wants the truth.

CHUCK TODD, MSNBC HOST: So do you not trust the FBI? You don't trust the CIA? I am just very confused here.

JOHNSON: No, I don't.

TODD: You don't trust either of those agencies.

JOHNSON: Absolutely not. After Strzok and Lisa Page.

TODD: Okay.

JOHNSON: After James Comey --

TODD: You believe the FBI and the CIA? These government agencies?

JOHNSON: Peter Strzok -- John Brennan. No, I don't trust any of these guys in the Obama administration.

TODD: Okay.

JOHNSON: I don't trust anybody.

TODD: You don't trust them now? You trust them now?

JOHNSON: No, I didn't trust him back then.


BALDWIN: I mean, and Rick, this is -- you know, this, but why this is so significant coming from Senator Johnson is the fact that he is The Chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, meaning it is his job to work with the CIA, work with the FBI to keep our election safe.

WILSON: And right now, I would advise Senator Johnson to go back this weekend and read the quote from Steve Bannon. It's coming out in a new book about him, where he says, we made up all this deep state stuff to fool the Trump rubes. We made it up. It's all made up.

And Ron Johnson sounds like he is reading from the most lurid conspiracy Web sites out there. And you know, I expected him to start quoting crazy Quinone Pizza-gate theories next. He was really not doing himself a service, I think in that interview, and he came across looking like somebody who -- it has not been his reputation traditionally, but he came across looking like a conspiracy edge case guy, and not like a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin. BALDWIN: But what's your message to these Republicans? Because Mia

is exactly right. You look at the Republicans who have stuck their big toes out and spoken up and out against and they are gone.

WILSON: Well, look, a lot of the folks that are gone were from more centrist and moderate districts around the country in the suburban rings around major cities, where Republicans have held those seats for many, many years. And Donald Trump is unpalatable to those folks.


WILSON: Donald Trump has attacked a lot of Republicans, and they get primaried by some person who then goes ahead and loses the seat as a general rule. And so you've got a vicious cycle running both directions.

Mia is exactly right. You've got Trump on the one hand attacking Republicans who disagree with them in any way at all, and on the other hand, the Democrats are ready to swoop in and take those seats the minute Trump weakens them.

LOVE: That's right.

WILSON: So Donald Trump has been a great recruiter for the Democratic Party.

BALDWIN: What about -- Mia Love, what about what Mick Mulvaney has said, the acting Chief of Staff. His prediction, post impeachment landslide, right? He has come out and he has now said that he thinks in that world that President Trump could win 45 states in 2020 after the whole impeachment process, and I have certainly never seen any poll indicating anything like this. Congresswoman, do you think he is merely drinking the White House Kool-Aid? Or might there be some truth to this?

LOVE: Well, there might be. Remember where we were in the elections, looking at the -- the polls didn't indicate that Donald Trump was going to win, and he won. And so that that was surprising to everybody.

I do believe that in areas, especially in states where you do have Democrats that have come up. There are moderate Democrats or Democrats that have -- that are pressuring to -- that are pressured into saying, hey, we support impeachment, they are going to be called out on this.

There are going to be campaign ads about this impeachment. The fact that there isn't a vote on the floor, those are the things that you could see, even in some of the Town Halls that actually have been happening ...

BALDWIN: For sure.

LOVE: ... throughout this the recess. You could see that there -- you know, this is a dividing mark. So it depends on where America is. And if America is not ready to impeach the President of the United States, you better believe that we're going to see this be a dividing factor and the President may win or this may just get the House back again -- with the GOP members. So it's --

BALDWIN: Rick, what do you think? I'm curious, I mean, I hear -- no, I hear the Congresswoman saying it is very possible. Rick, 45 states, what do you think of this prediction?

WILSON: Look, right now the Republicans lost 42 seats in the last cycle. They've already got 15 retirements, of which seven of those 15 are in districts that are going to go to the Democrats, by almost every model. There's almost no chance of getting the House back. I don't think that impeachment is without political consequences for the Democrats if they do it badly.

And you know, God knows they have trouble organizing a two-car motorcade sometimes. But there's also a political downside to the President here in the few Republican seats that are vulnerable, where people are not loving the fact that this country has been submerged into an impeachment sideshow, and 50 percent of the blame or more rest with the way Donald Trump has behaved in office as the President, where he is engaging in things like the Ukraine scandal and engaging in the whole spectrum of corruption large and small that's led us to this point.

BALDWIN: Rick Wilson and Mia Love, appreciate the conversation. Nice to have you both on.

WILSON: Thanks, Brooke.

BALDWIN: A former whistleblower speaks out about what it's like to sound the alarm on the government. And he says it's a lot like going through hell. So we'll ask him all kinds of questions coming up next.

Plus, it is Rick Perry's fault. That is the President's newest defense for asking a foreign power to meddle in the election. So what about all those other excuses? We will take you through the list.

And they shed blood alongside U.S. troops, and now the President is abandoning the Kurds in Northern Syria, what this decision means for America's enemies coming up. You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin. We'll be right back.



BALDWIN: We're back. You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin. With the identity of the first whistleblower still unknown, his or her actions are drawing praise from 90 of the nation's former National Security officials including a former Defense Secretary, two former CIA Directors and a former Director of National Defense.

All of them signing on to this letter that defends the person's decision, while blasting President Trump's attempts to unmask their identity. But my next guest says despite public praise from those officials, and some Members of Congress, this whistleblower could face challenges in the days and perhaps years to come.

His name is Daniel Meyer. He is the former Executive Director of the Intel Communities Whistleblowing Program and his recent "Daily Beast" piece is titled, "I was Whistleblower. The Trump Whistleblower Is About To Go Through Hell." So Daniel, thank you so much for joining me. Welcome.


BALDWIN: You write about this experience, quote, "American whistleblowing is at its best, cold and transactional: you think the violation through. You record it without emotion, you convey it lawfully and you run for cover." You say it's cold and without emotion, but also run for cover. The decision which I know you've made three times can't be an easy one to make.

MEYER: So the important thing to understand is that the whistleblower cannot attach the disclosure to the identity. The minute you get emotionally caught up in your actions, you're going to push the envelope go too far and make it difficult to protect you.


MEYER: And I think this has been a case book example, the last three weeks of how to proceed with the maximum amount of protection. But as you noted, the critical point going forward, is will the Intelligence Community circle around this whistleblower? Will the head of the agency provide the protection, even if there's strong pressure from other quarters to reprise against him?

Remember, Richard Nixon went after Ernie Fitzgerald in the 1970s, but it can only do so through officials in the Air Force. Nixon had no direct personal authority. So that's the critical thing, it is who will circle around to protect the whistleblower?

BALDWIN: You know, some have said that this whistleblower will feel that a huge weight has been lifted, you know, off his or her shoulders that they will be able to sleep better. But you say that the days ahead could involve a lot of second guessing. How so?

MEYER: Well, the critical realization for the whistleblower is whether those in charge of his or her career path are going to step forward to make sure as all of this turns towards impeachment, and away from the whistleblowing, whether the whistleblower is on a strong career path. If that's not the case, then the second MEYER: So guessing will begin.

In my three, four instances of whistleblowing people stepped in to make sure that I had options going forward, and they did so rather aggressively. So I was very fortunate. But many of the whistleblowers that I've helped and represent over the years, that has not been the case. They've been all been abandoned by official Washington after they were done with their whistleblowing.

BALDWIN: And, Daniel, it's my understanding that you were fired last year, reportedly over a poor performance review. But I know you say that's not the case that this was flat out retaliation. And so what might these whistleblowers be facing, especially with this current President, demanding to meet that person face-to-face and saying that his or her source is a spy?

the critical phone issue, when you've blown the whistle, is you need to make sure that you're actually performing at like 120 percent because every opportunity that's out there for somebody to take advantage of your situation, they may try to do that.

And then the critical thing and my experience was unique because it was within the I.G. community. There were a number of people who are allegedly or reprised against who are I.G. staff, and it's very hard to get at those issues because the I.G.'s are supposed to do the investigations in the Intelligence Community. How can they do them if they are in fact that reprisers?

But this whistleblower is not in that situation. This person appears to be outside the I.G. community. So not only I.G. Atkinson, but also the I.G. of whatever agency this whistleblower has come from, they will have the steps and the tools to necessarily go forward and protect the person.

BALDWIN: All right, Daniel Meyer, thank you very much.

MEYER: Thank you.

BALDWIN: Coming up, Rick Perry made me do it. That is the President's new excuse for soliciting foreign election interference. But there are many more. We will walk you through the growing list.

Plus, the impact of the President's abrupt decision to turn his back on U.S. allies in Syria. Why is he abandoning the Kurds now?



BALDWIN: We hit on this off the top of the show, but the going attempts by Republican lawmakers to defend President Trump's behavior over Ukraine are seemingly becoming more baffling.

But are these GOP defenses more bizarre and unreasonable than the President's own reasons for his controversial actions? Chris Cillizza is our CNN Politics Reporter and Editor-at-Large there in D.C. with an answer to that. So my friend, what is the answer?

CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS REPORTER AND EDITOR-AT-LARGE: Holy moly. Okay, let's go through all the different ways Donald Trump has set to defend this Ukraine call starting with maybe my favorite, it was a perfect phone call. I'm not exactly sure what that entails. But it was a perfect phone call.

Then we went to, well, yes, I did mention Biden, but we need to probe Biden. And that's the important thing, because there's a lot of corruption there -- by the way, no details of corruption. Then there was where we're going to -- it was really about other

countries paying their fair share as it relates to military aid. Remember, military aid was being withheld? Military aid going to the Ukraine, this is Trump at the UN talking about that.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We want to make sure that country is honest, it's very important to talk about corruption. If you're not talking about corruption, why would you give money to a country that you think is corrupt?

One of the reasons the new President got elected is he was going to stop corruption.

My complaint has always been and I withhold again, and I'll continue to withhold until such time as Europe and other nations contribute to Ukraine because they're not doing it, just the United States. We're putting up the bulk of the money. And I'm asking, why is that?


CILLIZZA: Right. OK, let's keep going. The next one, there was no quid pro quo. So yes, I brought it up. But there was no I, if I'll do X, if you do Y. He said that in a tweet, no pressure, unlike Joe Biden and his son, no quid pro quo. I'll note again, because it's important, no evidence that Hunter or Joe Biden did anything illegal in Ukraine.

Okay. Then we moved over here to spy. Remember, the whistleblower may be a spy. Maybe a spy. Again, big difference between a spy and a whistleblower. Donald Trump apparently didn't differentiate.

Then we have Adam Schiff, Adam Schiff helped.