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Ken Frydman is Interviewed about Rudy Giuliani; NBA Commissioner Speaks Out about Tweet; Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) is Interviewed about Impeachment Inquiry. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired October 8, 2019 - 08:30   ET




ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Rudy Giuliani's press secretary for his 1993 mayoral campaign is speaking out and telling his story in a "New York Times" op-ed. He says that Giuliani's recent behavior has led him to re-examine the man he worked for 25 years ago.

Joining us now is that man, Ken Frydman. He is now the chief executive of Source Communications, a Manhattan strategic communications firm.

Ken, great to have you here.


CAMEROTA: Here's what you wrote in this "New York Times" op-ed yesterday. You said, America's mayor, as Rudy was dubbed after September 11th, is today President Trump's bumbling personal lawyer and henchman, his apologist and defender of the indefensible.

And that's very different, you say, than the man that you knew when you were his press secretary.

So what was Rudy like when you worked for him 25 years ago?

FRYDMAN: Well, I worked on the '93 campaign, which was probably his toughest campaign, frankly, because he was trying to unseat an incumbent mayor, Mayor Dinkins. So as I've said before, he had to listen. Politicians don't tend to listen unless they want to win. And he wanted to win, of course. And so he listened and he responded, you know, appropriately to recommendations. He didn't always take them. But after he won, you know, like many politicians, he stopped listening, OK?

CAMEROTA: So -- OK. But when -- you're saying that the person that you knew was sort of more level, even keeled, level-headed --

FRYDMAN: Yes. Yes.

CAMEROTA: He was a listener.


CAMEROTA: He responded appropriately.


CAMEROTA: And so, when you see moments like this one --


CAMEROTA: On Fox -- well, let me just play it for you and then you can tell me what you think.


CAMEROTA: Let's watch this.


RUDY GIULIANI, PRESIDENT TRUMP'S ATTORNEY: By the way, do you have any idea that the State Department and --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So then you know the libel law --

GIULIANI: Shut up, moron. Shut up.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK, hold on. Rudy -- Rudy, OK, hold on. Hold on. Everybody --

GIULIANI: Shut up. You don't know what you're talking about.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Chris, Chris, Chris --

GIULIANI: You don't know what you're talking about, idiot.


CAMEROTA: That's not someone who's listening.

FRYDMAN: No, no, that's someone who's calling people names.

Listen, he -- he yelled at ferret owners back in the day, but there's a big difference at yelling at ferret owners and yelling at, you know, at reputable people about impeachment and the president.

CAMEROTA: But, I mean, I guess the big question, the $64,000 question that a lot of people are wondering is what happened? What happened? When did you notice Rudy Giuliani change from the person you knew into what we've seen recently?

FRYDMAN: Well, the -- the turning point that I couldn't ignore is the same for -- for many people, that it's the "Access Hollywood" tape and his ferocious defense of the indefensible. And he was the only one who would go on Sunday morning political talk shows to defend that. If you recall, even Chris Christie wouldn't do it.

CAMEROTA: So that was before Donald Trump won, right? FRYDMAN: Yes. Yes. That's correct.

CAMEROTA: That was during the campaign. And so Rudy Giuliani put himself out there and defended that tape that everybody heard with their own ears.


CAMEROTA: And why? Why do you think he did that?

FRYDMAN: Because he wanted to remain relevant and he wanted to gain the president's trust and appreciation. And, you know, probably, you know, he was in the running for secretary of state at the time. So this is what a campaign proxy does. Only you have to draw the line.

CAMEROTA: So you think that it is relevance at any cost? Do you -- because some people have speculated that it -- I mean, you know, I know you're not a doctor, but that it may be some sort of mental decline.

FRYDMAN: I -- see, I'm not a doctor, so I can't speak to that. But I -- I just see a ferocity in him that I didn't see 25 years ago. And I think it's -- it's his zealous need, as I say, to remain relevant and to make a -- and to make a living, frankly. You know, he has one client and there's only one president of the United States, right?

CAMEROTA: You make a good point.

Ken Frydman, everybody should read your op-ed to see just what has changed from the man that you knew.

Thanks so much for sharing it with us on NEW DAY.

FRYDMAN: Sure. Thanks for having me.


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, the NBA caught in the middle of this political crisis dealing with China and Hong Kong. The new response from the NBA commissioner. Where does he come down on free speech versus big money? That's next.



BERMAN: All right, breaking overnight, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver is speaking out after China announced it was suspending all NBA pre- season broadcasts as the diplomatic spat over a tweet supporting Hong Kong's protests escalates.


CNN's David Culver is live in Beijing with all the breaking details.

David, tell us what's going on here. DAVID CULVER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: All right, John, this

is a mess that's getting worse with each passing moment.

What we've heard in the past few hours from Adam Silver is an effort to try to clean up any misunderstanding, as he put it, some mistranslations, misinterpretations.

This goes beyond the economics. This goes beyond the sports. This is hitting at the core of a geopolitical issue. One that's pitting freedom of speech right up against profit.

I want you to listen now how Adam Silver, the NBA commissioner, is addressing this growing issue.


ADAM SILVER, COMMISSIONER, NBA: We are not apologizing for Daryl exercising his freedom of expression.

CULVER (voice over): NBA Commissioner Adam Silver standing behind Houston Rockets' General Manager Daryl Morey after growing backlash over the league's handling of a tweet Morey posted in support of Hong Kong protesters.

SILVER: The long-held values of the NBA are to support freedom of expression and certainly freedom of expression by members of the NBA community.

I don't think it's inconsistent on one hand to be sympathetic to them and at the same time stand by our principles.

CULVER: Silver stressing this is not about money and that he is not willing to jeopardize the league's values.

SILVER: I understand that there are consequences from that exercise of, in essence, his freedom of speech. And, you know, we will have to live with those consequences.

CULVER: This comes after China's state media announced it would halt broadcasting all NBA pre-season games and slamming the NBA, stating, we express our strong dissatisfaction and opposition to Silver's stated support of Morey's right to speech. We believe any remarks that challenge national sovereignty and social stability do not belong to the category of free speech.

Morey's tweet set off a firestorm in China after he tweeted his support for Hong Kong protesters. China demanded a clarification of the tweet, which has since been deleted and the NBA responded by calling the post regrettable.

The Chinese government responding to the NBA saying it's not going to work if you have exchanges and cooperation with China but don't understand Chinese public opinion.

Many U.S. politicians on both sides of the aisle slammed the NBA's response. Republican Senator Josh Hawley writing a scathing letter to Silver, accusing the league of putting potential profits in China over human rights. Later tweeting that the NBA should apologize for groveling to Chinese communist party and cancel all exhibition games until the situation in Hong Kong is resolved peacefully.

JOSEPH CHENG, POLITICAL SCIENCE PROFESSOR CITY UNIVERSITY OF HONG KONG: They should understand that if they yield one time, then the pressure will be greater. And it is very typical for the Chinese authorities to ask more and more.

CULVER: The creators of "South Park," Matt Stone and Trey Parker, hitting back in "South Park" fashion after the Chinese government scrubbed this episode of "South Park" from the Internet Monday.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Anybody who would betray their ideals just to make money in China isn't worth a lick of spit.

CULVER: The comedy duo issuing a fake apology saying, quote, like the NBA, we welcome the Chinese censors into our homes and into our hearts. We, too, love money more than freedom and democracy.


CULVER: For the first time today, CNN had the opportunity to take this crisis, Alisyn, directly to the ministry of foreign affairs. I was at that briefing a few hours ago. The question I posed to them is, what we're looking at here, China using its influential over businesses to threaten the bottom lines and profits of companies and organizations so as to manipulate free speech. Their response essentially is that what you're looking at here is the price of doing business with China. That the Chinese people have certain expectations. If you don't live up to that, this is going to be the result.

CAMEROTA: Well, there you go. And, David Culver, that was an excellent question. Thank you very much for all of the reporting.

OK, here's what else to watch today.


ON SCREEN TEXT: 11: 00 a.m. ET, Briefing with Customs and Border chief.

12:30 p.m. ET, Fed chair speaks.

4:30 pm. ET, Presidential Medal of Freedom ceremony.


BERMAN: All right, the breaking news.

A top diplomat has been ordered by the State Department not to testify to Congress as part of the impeachment inquiry. He was ordered not to just minutes before he was set to show up. We are waiting to hear from the committee chair in just moments.

All the breaking details ahead. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)


BERMAN: All right, the breaking news, today's star witness in the Trump impeachment investigation will not testify on Capitol Hill. Ambassador Gordon Sondland has been ordered by the State Department not to appear this morning. His attorney claims he has no choice but to comply as a sitting ambassador employed by the State Department.

House Intelligence Chair Adam Schiff is scheduled to respond to this 11th hour move in just minutes. You're looking at live pictures. We expect to hear from him shortly.

In the meantime, joining me now is Republican Congressman Adam Kinzinger. He is a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, the founder and co-chair of the House Syria Caucus.

Congressman, we've got a lot to talk about today.

And just so our audience is clear, you have criticized what the president said on the phone to the leader of Ukraine. I just want to get that out there.

But the president and his defenders call the phone call perfect and say he has the absolute right to request an investigation of the Bidens. If that's the case, why then block Ambassador Sondland's testimony?

REP. ADAM KINZINGER (R-IL): Yes, I don't know. This is, obviously, all just happening, so I don't have any rationale or reasoning.


I typically believe, whether it was President Obama or President Trump, that you should do, in front of Congress, what Congress asks, unless there's a legitimate reason not to.

That said, yes, I think, look, the call was inappropriate. But there's a lot of questions that are still out there and that's where, you know, I think Democrats made a big mistake by, instead of just inquiring about what happened, they automatically went with an impeachment inquiry, and that's a whole different -- a whole different meaning behind it.

BERMAN: We'll get to that in just a second, but you think Ambassador Sondland should be testifying today?

KINZINGER: Yes, I mean I don't -- I haven't heard the reasoning for not. But, yes, typically, any time I think somebody from the administration is called in front of a committee they should come testify. And especially on something like this. And if the, you know, White House would think this would help exonerate them, you know, bring him in.

BERMAN: Ambassador Sondland reportedly told Senator Ron Johnson that military aid was tied to these investigations of the Bidens and the election. So what questions -- and you're not part of these committees, but what questions would you ask Ambassador Sondland if you had a chance?

KINZINGER: Yes, I mean, I think I'd want to know what information he had. You know, it's one thing to say, hey, can you tell us and investigate the Bidens or any political opponent. You know, keep in mind, and I tell this to my Republican friends, there will be a Democratic president again some day and we don't want to give that president license to do the same thing if whatever that is. So, that's number one.

Number two is, is there evidence that military aid was withheld as a contingent for getting this information? And if that's the case, that's a whole new level of issues and concerns. I remember back in the summer finding out and literally sitting in a foreign affairs committee and finding out that this aid was being held back and we didn't know why and obviously it was released before the end of the fiscal year. So, yes, there's legitimate questions there.

Again, the problem is, though, the Democrats started calling it an impeachment inquiry --

BERMAN: I understand.

KINZINGER: And that has a whole different level of things.

BERMAN: I understand. I just want to be clear though so maybe your Republican colleagues can understand because you keep on saying it's wrong for the president to ask the Ukrainian leader to investigate the Bidens. Why is it wrong?

KINZINGER: Well, it's wrong, and that's different than saying it's impeachable. That's a different question. But it's wrong because I think no foreign government should have any interference in our election system. So if it's -- if there's legitimate information about corruption in American government corruption, that's one thing. But when it's focused on somebody that's running in a presidential election, you know, literally, it would be like, let's say President Obama in 2015 calling somebody and asking about what one of the Trump sons is doing so that he can use it to discredit or whatever. We'd be outraged about that.

So I'm just trying to be consistent, which is, let's leave American domestic elections in the United States of America. We're not a banana republic where every empire can come in and make a change in our election. We are the United States of America, and we have to put up a firewall from outside interference no matter who.

BERMAN: So you've criticized the Democrats for launching the impeachment inquiry and you flat out said that you think this is wrong but not impeachable. What then is impeachable? What's the bar for you?

KINZINGER: Well, I don't -- you know, I mean that's -- there's no actual definitive thing. It's high crimes and misdemeanors. It's really ultimately, as we all know, a political question. So that's where, you know, the process of figuring it out.

If Democrats decide this is impeachable, then it's impeachable because it's their decision to make. For me, as I have to look at this decision, you know, talking to the Ukrainians and saying, give us information on Biden in and of itself is not impeachable. What else comes out, who knows? But, yes, it's a decision everybody has to make.

BERMAN: I want to ask you about Syria.


BERMAN: This has been a big concern of yours for some time and the president yesterday announced the withdrawal of troops from the northern Syria border, which would allow Turkey to move in. You're very concerned about the message that this sends now and in the future to U.S. allies. Why?

KINZINGER: So it's two things. Think of every time we've been in battle and we've left our allies behind and they've gotten slaughtered. Even the Kurds, by the way, after 1991. We had a whole northern no-fly zone set up after they were basically slaughtered by Saddam Hussein because we encouraged them to rise up and then didn't step in. So you think about that.

Look at -- I mean the translators in Afghanistan that we promised visas to if they worked with us that are still now hiding from the Taliban because we can't get them here. So this would be another -- another nix in that.

The other thing is this though. You know, people like Rand Paul constantly say, we don't want 100,000 troops in Syria. I don't either. OK. This is exactly the model that we should be implementing for future kind of fights like this. A few hundred troops. Using local forces to fight the battle so we don't have to. And then to look at that, a special forces operation mainly with 1,000 troops and say, it's an endless war is disingenuous.

And it's like, when your grandma looks at you and tells you you're tired, you're tired, you're tired, you eventually feel tired.


That's what's happening when, whether it's any president or any leader says, we're tired of these endless wars. We're sick of them. Eventually people feel that way because they need leadership to come and tell them what the reason for this fight is.

BERMAN: Congressman Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, as always, thank you for being with us this morning.

KINZINGER: You bet. We'll see you.

CAMEROTA: All right, John, as you know, we're monitoring breaking news on Capitol Hill. Chairman Adam Schiff of the House Intel Committee will speak with reporters about these developments very shortly.

And "NEWSROOM" with Poppy Harlow and Jim Sciutto will continue after this quick break.


JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: Good Tuesday morning to you. I'm Jim Sciutto.



Breaking news this morning, and it is significant, following White House discussions late into the night, just moments ago, the State Department has told Gordon Sondland, that ambassador, not -- not to testify this morning, just over an hour before the U.S.