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Trump Told Officials to Work Through Giuliani on Ukraine; Graham Invites Giuliani to Testify before Senate Judiciary Committee on Corruption in Ukraine; Rep. Brendan Boyle (D-PA) Discusses Democrats Calling Trump's Refusal to Cooperate in Impeachment Inquiry Obstruction, Trump Withdrawing U.S. Forces in Syria, Abandoning Allies; Sanders Announces He's Scaling Back Campaign Events Following Heart Attack; PG&E Cuts Electricity to Nearly 800,000 Californians to Prevent Wildfires. Aired 11:30a-12p ET
Aired October 9, 2019 - 11:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: We have a much bigger picture this morning of just how much power President Trump has given his personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, when it comes to dealings with Ukraine. Two sources telling CNN, as far back as May, the president essentially made Giuliani the gatekeeper for determining how the administration would deal with Ukraine's new president. Never mind the official channels.
CNN national security reporter, Kylie Atwood, joins us from the State Department with details on a meeting where the president made clear how much clout Giuliani would have.
Kylie, what have you learned?
KYLIE ATWOOD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY REPORTER: Yes, we're learning new details about this meeting that happened in late May with President Trump, his ambassador to the E.U., Gordon Sondland, and the special representative to the Ukraine, Kurt Volker, who has since quit his job, and U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry.
During that meeting, these three U.S. officials came to President Trump and they were hoping to convince him to have a meeting with President Zelensky of Ukraine because they just came back from his inauguration and they thought Ukraine was on a good track headed to take on some of the corruption internally.
But what they found during that meeting was President Trump wasn't as opened as they had hoped and he told them to deal with Rudy Giuliani to circumvent the traditional official channels and to deal with his personal lawyer when it came to these discussions about Ukraine-U.S. relations going forward.
And one of the folks who was familiar with that meeting at the White House in May said that the message was, if they can satisfy Rudy, they can satisfy the president. Essentially, that these U.S. officials had to satisfy Rudy Giuliani in order to get President Trump to engage with the Ukrainians on the policy side.
HILL: Meantime, of course, Senator Lindsey Graham saying he plans to invite Giuliani to testify on Ukraine. Has Giuliani responded yet?
ATWOOD: Yes. So, Senator Graham wants to hear from Rudy Giuliani. He is worried about the reports of corruption that he says are still ongoing in Ukraine, not necessarily about the Biden issue. But Rudy Giuliani has not been clear if he's going to actually go forth and talk to Congress about this yet.
He had an interview last night. Listen to what he had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUDY GIULIANI, PERSONAL ATTORNEY TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: I have to weigh that with my client and the other lawyers involved. It's not a unitary decision. What decision I make may affect the other decisions. I mean, I would love to testify and give you a half hour to point out Biden Inc., four decades of crime. I'd love to do it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ATWOOD: Rudy Giuliani making it clear that the ball is in President Trump's court to decide if he will allow Rudy Giuliani to speak to Congress.
Of course, the ball is also in the White House court when it comes to the other U.S. officials who Congress wants to hear from. Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch is supposed to go up to the Hill on Friday. We don't know if she has been given clearance to do so.
HILL: We will wait and see.
Kylie Atwood, great reporting. Thank you.
Coming up, President Trump defies Democrats on impeachment. Democrats say he is strengthening the case for obstruction. So where does it all go from here?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): The president is obstructing, obstructing Congress from getting the facts that we need. He has -- it's an abuse of power for him to act in this way.
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): The failure to produce this witness, the failure to produce these documents, we consider yet additional strong evidence of obstruction of the constitutional functions of Congress, a co-equal branch of government.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HILL: As you just heard there, Democrats calling President Trump's refusal to cooperate in the impeachment inquiry obstruction. This on the heels of the scathing letter from the White House, branding the inquiry "unconstitutional and an illegal bid to overthrow the 2016 election."
So what is the next move for Democrats?
Joining me to discuss, a Democratic Congressman from Pennsylvania, Brendan Boyle.
Sir, good to have you with us this morning.
The White House made it very clear they do not intend to play ball. No witnesses, no documents. We should point out, of course, this is a move we seen before. What does this do for Democrats? What is the next step?
REP. BRENDAN BOYLE (D-PA): Yes. First, let's take a moment to reflect the fact that what President Trump and his administration is saying is they're above the law and Congress is no longer a co-equal branch of government and this administration is going to run rough shod over the Constitution of the United States. So that in and of itself, in my view, could be and should be one of the articles of impeachment.
Now in terms of what we do next, fortunately, a lot of the underlying facts of this case are already known. The one time the White House actually was transparent in this in releasing their summary of the call, not even the full transcript, which I still think we feed to get, but at least their summary of it was so bad and so indicting and clearly showed a quid pro quo. Clearly showed putting the national security of the United States secondary to the president's primary concern of getting help for his entire campaign.
In my view, we have enough facts but in and of themselves. If we can call the witnesses, the people who are also on that call, the people who gave information to the Intelligence Community inspector general, that, to me, would be a logical next step to get that confirmation. Then from there, in my view, we would have enough in order to vote on impeachment.
HILL: So calling those witness, as we know and hearing from them two different things these days in Washington.
A short time ago, your colleague, Congressman Garamendi, was on saying, "We would use the full power of Congress, including the inherent rights of Congress to hold people, if, in fact, witnesses were refusing to answer questions, essentially going to inherent contempt. Would you agree with that move?
BOYLE: Yes, I did hear that with my friend from California. Inherent contempt hasn't been used since 1935. I do believe Congress should explore that option. Now the idea of imprisoning people in the capitol basement, I think, has a few practical problems.
However, the one aspect of it that appeals to me is the ability to levy $25,000 daily fines. I think that's something we need to seriously look at. Because what is at stake is not just the facts in these matters. But whether or not going forward Congress will continue to be a co-equal branch of government and whether or not Congress will have the ability to exercise oversight over the executive.
That is a key constitutional principle that is now at stake.
HILL: What are you hearing from folks in your district?
BOYLE: You know, it's very interesting. I represent -- proud to represent my hometown of Philadelphia. For most of the last several years, when I was back home at events such as this past week, we mostly hear bread-and-butter issues, prescription drugs, I don't have all health care costs, the need to get wages up, especially in working-class and blue-collar jobs.
This weekend was very different. I held a ton of privacy fairs around my district to crack down on identities theft. I was really struck by how many people brought up impeachment to me and were absolutely convinced we needed to go down this path. That really is different than what I've experienced over the previous three years.
HILL: When you say they were convinced you need to go down this path, that is a path of inquiry, right? The question we saw in polling, do you support impeachment or impeachment inquiry and the possible removal of the president, those are very different?
BOYLE: They are different questions. Although, yesterday, we had three different polls released that all showed support for the impeachment inquiry now well over 50 percent. Just three weeks ago, that was below 40.
Then a few of the polls I saw asked the next question, do you support impeachment with conviction and removal. The numbers were a little bit lower. Not that much lower. That is a real change from where we were a few weeks ago. I think we need to acknowledge that.
HILL: Before I let you go, you serve on the bipartisan Free Syria Caucus. This is occupying a lot of space for many of us today as we watch this. We've heard from Lindsey Graham, as well Adam Kinzinger, speaking out against the president. Lindsey Graham saying these airstrikes are leading to the emergence of ISIS.
Republicans speaking out back in December seems to have an impact on the president and his decision in Syria. Do you think the same thing could happen this time around?
BOYLE: I hope so. Seeing the scenes are sickening. Adam and I are the co-chairs and co-founders of the Free Syria Caucus. We have personally met time and time again with the activists on this issue, people who have literally risked their lives on the ground to bring out pictures of what is going on. The brave White Helmets that rush in when Assad's brutal regime is firing on them.
The United States owes the Kurds and those who are fighting for a livable free Syria so much better. And what President Trump has done is really sickening. It betrays our allies and betrays American values.
HILL: Congressman Brendan Boyle, I appreciate you joining us today. Thank you.
BOYLE: Thank you.
HILL: Just ahead, scaling back. Democratic presidential candidate, Bernie Sanders, says he is changing the pace of his campaign after a heart attack. Could it also change his standing in this race? More on that, next.
HILL: Democratic presidential candidate, Senator Bernie Sanders, is taking a break from the campaign trail, announcing he is scaling back campaign events after suffering a heart attack last week.
CNN's Ryan Nobles is live in Burlington, Vermont.
So, Ryan, what else are we hearing from the campaign this morning?
RYAN NOBLES, CNN WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Well, essentially, Erica, this came after Bernie Sanders made a trip to his cardiologist yesterday. Remember, he had a heart attack a week ago.
After he returned from that visit to the cardiologist, he spoke to reporters a little bit and talked to us about how things could change in his campaign. Listen to what Sanders said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT): I certainly intend to be actively campaigning. I think we're going to change the nature of the campaign a bit, make sure that I have the strength to do what I have to do.
I don't know if there's anybody who did more rallies than we have done. We're probably not going to do three or four rallies a day, do two or do other events as well.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NOBLES: Sanders pointed out that while he was going to scale things back that he was already moving at a pretty incredible pace, and far exceeding what many of his Democratic rivals were doing. Travel has many as six days a week, hold three to four different events per day. He started to think that's not necessary and now in light of this scare with his health, it would make sense to dial things back a bit.
That doesn't mean he's getting out of the race. He still has more than $30 million to spend in television ads to get his name out across the country. It just means they're going to be doing things a bit differently. Erica, there's a different perception among voters, particularly
because age was already an issue for Sanders. He just turned 78. He would be 79 on the day he was inaugurated. And he has a heart attack to go along with those concerns about his age.
It's important to point out Sanders isn't the only older candidate. President Trump is in his 70s. Elizabeth Warren in her late 60s. Of course, Joe Biden as well in his 70s.
This is an issue across the board. You add the health issues along with it to Sanders, that does complicate the picture for him a little bit.
I asked him about that, Erica. I specifically said, do you think this is going to change voters' minds. He said he believes voters will look at the totality of his record. This will include the heart attack, but also he's been a fighter his entire career. And this is something he'll fight through and keep going with his quest to become the next president of the United States -- Erica?
HILL: In terms of that record and who Senator Bernie Sanders is known to be, just put in perspective for us how unusual it is for him to admit he is deciding to scale back? Because that is something.
NOBLES: You're absolutely right about that, Erica. The fact that he had such an impressive pace before was a point of pride for Sanders.
I was talking to some reporters here in Vermont yesterday that have covered him all the way back to his days as the mayor of Burlington. The fact that he would always be out there was something he was known for. It was a part of his legend. That was what his 2016 campaign was about as well, never taking his foot off the gas pedal.
For him to come out and say it was necessary for him to do so was significant. That's why his campaign is trying to put that in perspective, that the standard for Sanders is perhaps a little bit different than it is for some other candidates.
His campaign manager gave me a statement, quote, "As Bernie said, we're going to have an active campaign. Instead of a breakneck series of events that lap the field, we are going to keep a marathoner's pace that still manages to outrun everyone else."
So the message is, yes, things will be a little different but that doesn't mean the commitment to win this race will be any different -- Erica?
HILL: Ryan Nobles, in Burlington for us. Ryan, thank you.
Coming up, in the dark. California's largest utility company shutting off power for hundreds of thousands of residents. Why and just how long will this last?
[11:58:19] HILL: What a morning in California. Tens of thousands of people waking up without power. In fact, the state's largest power company says it's shutting off electricity for nearly 800,000 customers in northern and central California. PG&E says it's unprecedented but it's needed to prevent power lines from sparking wildfires.
CNN's Lucy Kafanov is in Marin County, California, with the details in northern California.
So how long do these power outages last, Lucy?
LUCY KAFANOV, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Erica. Some officials are predicting that some residents might be in the dark for days. Everything here effectively depends on the weather conditions. The combination of gusty winds, low humidity could create the conditions for potentially catastrophic fires.
Marin County, where we are standing right now, is one of the more vulnerable areas. It is a densely populated area. It is expected to have very strong gusting wind as we get later into the evening.
Residents here have actually been without power since midnight. The shopping center we're standing at right now would normally be bustling this time of day. There's very few cars behind me. A lot of the businesses here have effectively shut down.
This is an unprecedented move, shutdown by PG&E. Portions of 34 of the state's counties are going dark. Classes in at least one major university and several districts have been suspended temporarily. The airports are open but there's a lot of traffic headaches with traffic lights going dark.
Residents understand this is unfortunately the new normal for California. This state has been hit by several deadly devastating wildfires. We saw one of the most dangerous ones taking place last November. PG&E was thought to have caused that with faulty equipment so these blackouts are part of an effort to prevent a similar disaster -- Erica?
HILL: Wow. Could last for days.