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Key Witness in Dallas Officer's Murder Trial Gunned Down; Rocket's GM Tweet Ignites Firestorm; Bradley Podliska is Interviewed about Being a Whistleblower; U.S. Begins Pulling Troops from Syria; Trump Makes Corruption 2020 Issue. Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired October 7, 2019 - 06:30   ET




BIANNA GOLODRYGA, CNN ANCHOR: Former President Jimmy Carter says he feels fine after a bad fall yesterday at his Georgia home. The 95- year-old said he lost his footing while getting ready for church and hit his forehead on a sharp edge. Carter explained the injury at an event for Habitat for Humanity in Nashville last night.


JIMMY CARTER, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: I took 14 stitches in my forehead. And my eye's black, as you noticed. But I had a number one priority, and that was to come to Nashville to build houses.


GOLODRYGA: Is there anyone tougher than him? The former president got 14 stitches and that bruised eye from the fall. He and his wife, Rosalynn, will be working with volunteers in Nashville this week to help build 21 homes.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: And I love that he's wearing a Braves hat with the Braves in the playoffs.


BERMAN: All right, there's been a dramatic development in the case of the Dallas police officer convicted of killing a black man in his own apartment. A key witness in the murder trial has himself been killed. Joshua Brown was shot multiple times in the parking lot for the apartment complex. He testified less than two weeks ago to Amber Guyger's actions after she killed Botham Jean.

CNN's Ed Lavandera live in Dallas with the latest on this.

This is incredible, Ed.


Well, this -- a shooting has sparked a wide range of speculation as to what the motive might have been. But 28-year-old Joshua Brown, that witness in the Amber Guyger murder trial, he was a neighbor and heard the altercation between Amber Guyger and Botham Jean in that apartment complex. This is a different apartment complex several miles away from where Botham Jean was killed. But it was here Friday night where Dallas Police say Joshua Brown was shot multiple times in the lower body.

Now, there was a wide range of speculation over the weekend that he had been shot in the mouth. Every indication we have at this point is that that is not the case.

The attorney representing the family of Joshua Brown is also the same -- one of the same attorneys that was representing Botham Jean's family, Lee Merritt. He told us last night that Joshua Brown was shot in November of 2018, so about a year ago, in a -- in a -- in a shooting event that had nothing to do with the Botham Jean trial and that he was wounded in that attack and that at some point he did worry that that person was, quote, going to come back and finish the job.

Now, whether or not all of this is connected to the Botham Jean trial is completely unclear at this point. But that is a shocking development in this story as just a couple of days after the trial ended, this young man murdered here in Dallas.


BERMAN: All right, Ed, please stay on this for us.

All right, surprising developments in the NBA overnight. With one tweet, the Houston Rockets general manager, Daryl Morey, ignited this firestorm with China and, most surprising of all, may be the NBA retreat here.

Andy Scholes here to explain in the "Bleacher Report."

Good morning, Andy.


You know, several Chinese businesses are suspending ties with the Houston Rockets after General Manager Daryl Morey expressed support for Hong Kong's pro-democracy protests.

Now, on Friday, Morey tweeted, fight for freedom, stand with Hong Kong.

Now, he later deleted that tweet, but that was the first instance of someone related to the NBA showing their support for the Hong Kong protesters.


Now, when it comes to big pro-sports leagues, the NBA is the most popular in China and it's not even really close. Tencent, who has a $700 million multi-year deal to stream NBA games, says, well, right now they are suspending streaming Rockets games because of Morey's tweet.

Now, the Rockets, one of the most popular teams in China because of their former star Yao Ming, Yao's now the president of the Chinese Basketball Association, which also announced it's suspending cooperation with the Rockets.

Now, Morey says he didn't mean to offend anyone, tweeting again, I was merely voicing one thought based on one interpretation of one complicated event. I have had a lot of opportunities since that tweet to hear and consider other perspectives.

Now, Morey also added his tweets don't represent the Rockets or the NBA. The NBA releasing a statement on the matter saying in part, we recognize that the views expressed by Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey have deeply offended many of our friends and fans in China, which is regrettable. The league went on to say, the values of the league support individuals' educating themselves and sharing their views on matters important to them.

Now, some politicians, like Democratic Presidential Candidate Beto O'Rourke were not fans of the NBA's response. He tweeted, the only thing the NBA should be apologizing for is their blatant prioritization to profits over human rights. What an embarrassment.

And, John, this all comes as the Rockets are set to play in Japan and then LeBron and the Lakers set to play in China later this week.

BERMAN: Yes, I get there's a lot of money on the line, but Daryl Morey, his tweet was supporting democracy.


BERMAN: It's really interesting to see all of this.

Andy Scholes, thank you very much.

SCHOLES: All right.

BERMAN: The breaking news this weekend, a new whistleblower has come forward with information that might be damning to the president. And he or she is already drawing fire from the White House. So what is it like to be a whistleblower in the spotlight? We will speak to someone who's been in this position, next.



BERMAN: A second whistleblower has come forward with what we are told is first-hand information of the claims made by the initial whistleblower about President Trump's dealings with Ukraine. Remember, the phone call where the president leaned on the president of Ukraine to dig up dirt on his political rival, Joe Biden.

Joining us now is Bradley Podliska, a former whistleblower who worked as an investigator in the House Benghazi committee. Bradley, thank you so much for being with us this morning.

The idea that a second whistleblower, a new person, is apparently coming forward with information that corroborates the claims by the first whistleblower, what does that tell you about the information itself?


Well, I'd first like to thank you for having me on the show.

When I heard about the second whistleblower coming forward, it simply reminded me of when I read the initial complaint. And I had two initial reactions to that. My first one was, this is extremely well written. And the second reaction was, this person is very well connected. And if you read the complaint, he's not talking about just one or two people that know about this. He's talking about several people that are aware of what's going on. And so --

BERMAN: Having strength in numbers, what does it do to the credibility of these complaints?

PODLISKA: So it's either going to come down to, this would be dichotomous in my opinion. Either several people are going to come forward and corroborate this or several people are going to come forward and say, no, this is not true.

BERMAN: There is a letter that was published overnight by some 90 people in the national security community who asked that the whistleblower's identity be protected. You have a different take on this. It's not that you don't want the identity protected, but you think the initial whistleblower, for his or her own sake, should come forward and go public.


PODLISKA: Yes, I do. Ordinarily, I would agree that whistleblowers should remain anonymous. However, this is an unprecedented case. And I believe that the whistleblowers -- in this case two whistleblowers, that their names are eventually going to be leaked and I believe the whistleblowers would be better served and better protected if they came forward and gave their narrative, told their side of the story.

And the reason for that is I believe the American people are phenomenal arbiters. They can determine who's telling the truth, who's looking out for the country. And so if these whistleblowers were to come forward and to tell their story, the American people would weigh in and determine whether or not what they were saying was true.

BERMAN: What's this person going through right now? You've been there to a certain extent. So explain that to us.

PODLISKA: Yes, my advice to these whistleblowers would be, the present you is probably very scared and very frightened. However, the future you is going to thank you for what you've done, showing this strength of courage. I can promise you that you're going to be blessed with peace of mind.

You're going to sleep soundly at night after all this is done. And so that would be what I would offer to these whistleblowers is to just stay strong.

BERMAN: The initial whistleblower has come under criticism from the president himself basically questioning the patriotism of this person. What do you make of that?

PODLISKA: Well, I can't comment on the president directly given my ongoing military duties. But what I say what the -- anybody should be doing when they're confronting a whistleblower is simply to refute the whistleblower's allegations with facts. You can falsify the allegations, you can simply come out with your own facts to dispute that, and that's -- this is -- that is how this should be played out. There should never be personal attacks involved in any of this.

BERMAN: The attorney for the whistleblower, Mark Zaid, was also your attorney, if I'm correct. And this attorney's motives have been called into question, calling him some kind of a Democratic operative.


Based on your experiences, how do you refute those claims?

PODLISKA: Yes, that is completely untrue. I know Mark. The allegation that Mark's a political operative or partisan or pursuing a partisan agenda is categorically false. I hired Mark because he's considered a top lawyer in national security and in the intelligence community. I know he's very well connected in Washington, D.C. And I know that he worked constructively with both Republicans and Democrats. And that's why I hired him. I didn't -- I wasn't going to hire a political hack. I was going to hire somebody that could win for me.

BERMAN: And going back to your first answer, when you first saw the initial complaint, you said, number one, very well written. Number two, very connected. Explain to me what you mean by that.

PODLISKA: Well, in this complaint they talk about officials, high- level officials. So this wasn't somebody hiding out in the corner cubicle, you know, siphoning off information. This was somebody that was obviously out there socializing with people in leadership positions putting together this complaint. And so that was immediately apparent to me as soon as I read this.

BERMAN: All right, Bradley Podliska, again, thank you for joining us this morning. Thank you for sharing your own experience and how it relates to what these now at least two people might be going through this morning.

PODLISKA: Thank you for having me.

BERMAN: All right, Bianna.

GOLODRYGA: All right, breaking overnight, U.S. troops withdrawing from northern Syria, clearing the way for Turkey to invade at the expense of our Kurdish allies.

So what's going on here? We're going to discuss coming up next.


GOLODRYGA: And breaking overnight at this hour, the United States is pulling troops from northern Syria, clearing the way for Turkey to invade and essentially abandoning Kurdish fighters who have fought alongside the U.S. to defeat ISIS.

Joining me now is Ambassador Nicholas Burns, he's the former undersecretary of state and a former ambassador to NATO. We should also note that Mr. Burns is also a foreign policy adviser to Joe Biden's 2020 campaign.

Ambassador, thank you so much for joining us.


GOLODRYGA: Let me begin by getting your reaction to this developing news overnight that the U.S. is pulling out its remaining 1,000 forces from northern Syria.


BURNS: Well, this is a very serious mistake by President Trump because the Syrian Kurds have been our closest ally in Syria over many years. They've been protecting the U.S. troops there. They're also the most significant help to us in defeating the Islamic state. And they've held the ground in northern Syria and prevented the Syrian government, Russia, and Iran from occupying it.

So they had a very strategic role. They played -- they played into American interests and they helped us achieve our interests there. And, suddenly, the president decided, on a Sunday evening, to withdraw them without informing France and Britain, our two allies who are there with us.

So this is a major mistake. It's going to have consequences for us because the credibility and word of the United States will be in question, that we don't stand by our friends who have stood by us.

GOLODRYGA: Our friends, that being the Kurds.

You mentioned that our allies there, our European allies, were not informed. The Kurds weren't informed either. I want to read you a tweet for the spokesperson for the Syrian Democratic Forces. And he tweets this, we are not expecting the U.S. to protect northern Syria, but people here are owed on explanation regarding security, mechanism deal, destruction of fortifications, and failure of U.S. to fulfill their commitments.

What does this mean going forward for our allies, the Kurds, and their plight?

BURNS: It put -- it puts them in a great jeopardy in northern Syria. They're going to be defenseless now. The Turks want to carve a 32 kilometer zone from their border into northern Syria and control it. The Turks, as you know, consider the Syrian Kurds to be terrorists. We disagree with them. And for years the United States and the Bush and Obama administrations and into this administration have felt that we need to protect them because they've been protecting us. And you'll remember that Secretary Jim Mattis resigned in large part because of the president's decision a year ago to abandon the Kurds. He apparently -- we thought he was talked out of that, but now, after a phone call with President Erdogan yesterday, on Sunday, the president has changed course again.

And the message here to all of our friends in the Middle East is that the United States is unreliable. Some of the statements coming out of the Syrian Kurds this morning are that the United States has stabbed us in the back.

GOLODRYGA: And how does this help promote U.S. interests in any way, shape, or form? Because you keep hearing from military leaders who oppose this decision, saying that this benefits Russia, first and foremost, and Iran as well.

BURNS: That's exactly right. I mean apparently I think it's on good -- good evidence that the State Department and Defense Department oppose this decision by President Trump. The Syrian Kurds have been holding ISIS prisoners. They're helping us to present the return of the Islamic State. And so there will be very serious consequences for the United States as a result of this decision.

GOLODRYGA: And this wasn't the only geopolitical development overnight. We're also hearing that the North Koreans are ruling out resumptions of what they call sickening talks with the United States.

So where does that leave the U.S. with regards to our intentions of moving those talks forward?

BURNS: I think it's clear by now that President Trump's attempt to try to negotiate with Kim Jong-un have not succeeded. I think the president was right to try diplomacy a year and a half ago, but he's had three summits with Kim. There've been no results. In fact, the North Koreans haven't even started on their rudimentary aspects of these negotiations. They haven't declared to us where their nuclear facilities are. And there's a lot of evidence that the North Koreans are building up their nuclear weapons force and their conventional missile forces and they've been firing rockets into the Sea of Japan.

And so it's time for the United States to go back to where we were, and that's trying to lead a sanctions effort, to make sanctions work and inflict some damage on the North Korean economy to get the attention of Kim Jong-un. But to stick with this policy, as the president appears determined to do, is simply going to be fruitless. It's not going to be in the security interest of the United States. It hurts South Korea and Japan as well.

GOLODRYGA: Yes, as I was just going to say, it does nothing but hurt our allies in the regions there who have been opposing the developments of arms that we've seen lately out of North Korea. Quickly, while I have you here, I want to go back to Russia, because

something caught my attention, and all of our attentions, over the weekend with revelations that the president, apparently in conversations with former prime minister of Britain Theresa May, displayed some skepticism that Russians were behind the poisoning of Sergei Skripal, the former Russian spy.

To that the Russian ministry in the United Kingdom tweeted that story and wrote, this is the best evidence that no evidence of Russian involvement exists.

This seems to, once again, benefit Vladimir Putin. By the way, today's his birthday, we should note.

BURNS: Well, it certainly does. I mean here's President Trump not taking the word of the United Kingdom, our closest ally, that the Russians launched this nerve agent attack inside the United Kingdom.


It's -- but it's tantamount to what President Trump has done here in the United States. He hasn't taken the word of our intelligence community that Russia hacked into the Democratic National Committee in 2016. The president's following this extraordinary story, which is false, that somehow the Ukrainians did it. That's at the source of his problems with Ukraine. His request to President Zelensky and now the House impeachment trial. The president has not stood up, not just for the United Kingdom, but for our CIA, our intelligence community, the State Department, the Pentagon. He's questioned all the agencies of his government and he seems to take the word of Vladimir Putin. It's extraordinary that there isn't more outcry in the president's own party --


BURNS: In the Republican Party against what he's doing.

GOLODRYGA: That does seem to be the common theme.

Ambassador, we'll have to leave it there.

Thank you so much for joining us.

BURNS: Thank you so much.


BERMAN: It seems like almost every day is Vladimir Putin's birthday.


BERMAN: All right, President Trump says that pushing Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden is all about rooting out corruption. So how hard is it to believe that this president is all of a sudden an anti- corruption crusader?

John Avlon has our "Reality Check."

I think the answer might be very.

JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, because I bet you don't see this one coming, guys. I mean Donald Trump trying to reframe his re-election around being an anti-corruption crusader.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don't care about Biden's campaign. But I do care about corruption.

What I want to do, and I think I have an obligation to do it, probably a duty to do it, corruption. We are looking for corruption.


AVLON: OK, that takes brass. I mean this is a guy who's been called the most corrupt person ever to run for the presidency. A guy whose charitable foundation was shut down after an investigation by the New York attorney general found that it was engaging in a, quote, shocking pattern of illegality. He's the only president in decades to refuse to release his tax returns with the Justice Department involved in the effort to make sure they stay secret. And the only president to refuse to divest themselves from the business interests. I think even Jimmy Carter felt honor bound to do it with his peanut farm. Instead, he's hyped his businesses form the White House, pushing is Dural golf resort for the next G-7 summit, while Republicans forked over more than $3 million at Trump properties during the midterms and foreign governments routinely do do business there.

Not only that, he's cozied up to dictators and autocrats from North Korea, to Russia, to Egypt. So combatting corruption is not exactly and area where he's got core credibility.

So why is he doing this? Well, he already admitted to asking a foreign power to investigate a political rival who's beating him in most 2020 polls. So the initial strategy of denial doesn't work anymore. So now it's an anti-corruption initiative. Of course the real strategy is deflect and project. Leave folks thinking that everyone is corrupt. It's not true, and this isn't normal.

Here's just a taste of why the strategy going after the Biden family for corruption is a sign that, as Vox put it, irony is dead. The Trump family is reportedly still making foreign deals despite the president's promise not to. For example, Ivanka Trump has been granted 16 new trademarks from the Chinese government, including one for voting machines, while she has worked in the White House. Ivanka (ph) also released financial statements showing that she made $3.9 million in 2017 from the Trump Hotel in Washington. That's just part of the $82 million haul she made along with her husband, fellow White House staffer Jared Kushner, who "The New York Times" reports paid little or no federal taxes for years.

But now, let's take President Trump at his word, a risky proposition, I know, and say that his administration is uniquely committed to combatting corruption around the world. Well, if that's the case, it's worth asked why they've proposed cut the budget devoted to fighting corruption by 40 percent. And the amount dedicated to combatting international organized crime by 75 percent.

If you want to find the truth, follow the money. And the Trump administration's own budget suggests that combatting corruption isn't a priority. It's almost as if this whole thing is a political stunt designed to distract from the obvious. Donald Trump doesn't really care about corruption at all.

And that's your reality check.

BERMAN: You know, I would refer back to another "Reality Check" here, John, for perhaps some of the answers here. This could be an issue of projection in the I know you are but what am I defense.

AVLON: Oh, it's project and deflect, no question about it.

BERMAN: Excellent.

GOLODRYGA: We just need a running loop of all of these "Reality Checks," right?

BERMAN: Exactly.

AVLON: Appreciate that, guys.

BERMAN: All right, thanks, John.

We have many new developments on the impeachment investigation of the president of the United States.

NEW DAY continues right now.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This second whistleblower, the indication is that he or she has first-hand knowledge. How much more do Republicans have to have before they take what is before us very seriously?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The whistleblower lawyers say the newest claims comes from someone who works in the intelligence community.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've never seen a president's administration sabotaged from the day after election.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I doubt if the China comment was serious.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Leaders ask other leaders for favors. Traditionally, those favors have not been research my political opponent.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Republicans are not keeping quiet. They're just rallying around the president. It's absolutely disgraceful.

(END VIDEO CLIP) [07:00:04]

ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman.