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CNN NEWSROOM

Biden for 1st Time Says Trump Should be Impeached; Biden Campaign Senior Advisor Symone Sanders Discusses Biden Calls for Trump's Impeachment over Asking Ukraine & China to Investigate Political Rival, & 3 GOP Trump Defenders Flipflop on Impeachment; Trump Supporters Graham, Gowdy, Pence Flipflop on Stonewalling Congress; Former NBC Star Matt Lauer Accused of Anally Raping NBC Colleague in New Book. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired October 9, 2019 - 14:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


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[14:30:00]

JOE BIDEN, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES & DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: No, think about it. Ever see them in a cabinet meeting? Yes, Mr. President, you're the greatest person in the world.

(LAUGHTER)

BIDEN: I mean, think about it. I mean, we've become so inured by this ridiculousness.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST; Joe Biden, airing a new level of frustration. For the first time, calling for the impeachment of President Donald Trump.

Symone Sanders is a senior advisor for the Biden campaign.

Symone, a pleasure. Thank you so much.

Those are some of the strongest words we've heard so far from the former vice president. Tell me why he decided to go there today?

SYMONE SANDERS, SENIOR ADVISOR, JOE BIDEN 2020 PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN: Well, thanks for having me today, Brooke.

So 15 days ago, Vice President Biden stood in Wilmington, Delaware, and he said if Donald Trump refused to cooperate and obstructed the investigation that Congress had, it's their constitutional duty, it would be a tragedy of his own making and both actions would very necessarily lead to impeachment proceedings.

Well, the last 15 days, Brooke, have been a remarkable time in our American political history.

I mean, from the whistleblower complaint being made public to the revelation that Trump specifically reached out to Ukraine and on a call with a foreign government asked him to investigate his political opponent, for his own personal political gain.

In just the last 24 hours, Donald Trump asserting that he is not beholden to our Constitution and obstructing the investigation of Congress by not allowing an ambassador to participate.

As the vice president noted today, Donald Trump stood on the White House lawn and asked Ukraine as well as China to investigate his political opponent. It's been made very clear.

Vice President Biden said today Donald Trump has betrayed our country, his oath of office and he has committed impeachable acts. That is why.

But it's really important to Vice President Biden to lay that out to the American people, which is why in our first event today in New Hampshire, that's exactly what he did. He's taking this very seriously.

(CROSSTALK)

SANDERS: And I think his speech today underscored that.

BALDWIN: It's clear he is, and also clear that public opinion, Symone, is shifting on impeachment. But when you look at polls that came out, a poll yesterday, "Washington Post"/George Mason, roughly 50/50. What about voters, voters who don't support impeachment? The move today politically risky for Biden?

SANDERS: Brooke, I laid out for you why Vice President Biden felt it was important to do what he did today.

Donald Trump has essentially betrayed our country. He has put his personal interests and political interests over those of the American people. He stood on the White House lawn and asked a foreign government to interfere in our elections.

In the beginning of vice president's speech today, he talked about, for 200 years, since the founding of our country, that one of the cornerstones that the founders talked about that they wrote into the Constitution that there should be no foreign interference in our government. We should protect our voting process the integrity of our process, integrity of our democracy at all costs.

That's why the Constitution is written the way it is and why there's a clause, if you will, impeachment clause to deal with in the event a president no longer has the interests of the American people in mind, a president that is asking for foreign interference.

I encourage folks to go to our Web site, get on our mailing list, www.JoeBiden.com. We're going to make sure folks see Vice President Biden's speech today.

This is a grave and serious time for America. Whether you are a Democrat, Republican or Independent. Vice President Biden believes that the American people have to know exactly what's going on, and that he should explain to them why he came to the decision he came to. And that's what we did today.

(CROSSTALK)

SANDERS: The last 15 days have been grave.

BALDWIN: On explaining, we know and have to come out, and a lot of times when President Trump throws out these claims, we have to fact- check them and especially the claims on your boss and his son our baseless.

But reporters keep asking Joe Biden to explain more on his son's involvement in these companies overseas and he gets frustrated with members of the media when they try to get those answers. Will he explain that?

SANDERS: Brooke, we're not going to play Donald Trump's game here. The allegations, which are -- frankly, not allegations. They're smears and lies, that the Trump campaign, President Trump and his henchman, Rudy Giuliani, have said about Vice President Biden and his son and his family. Are lies. They're smears and unfounded and have been debunked.

Vice President Biden is understandably frustrated when folks in media, folks across the country in the media are asking about how Donald Trump's breach of oath of office reflects badly on Joe Biden. That doesn't make sense.

A couple weeks ago, you heard Vice President Biden on the campaign trail told reporters ask the right questions. That's the posture we've taken and will continue to take. This is not about Joe Biden. This is about Donald Trump.

[14:35:11]

BALDWIN: And it's about obviously, in your opinion, Joe Biden becoming president. And you have to ask the tough questions and I understanding the viewpoint you come from as well.

Symone Sanders, with the Biden campaign. Symone, thank you very much.

Coming up, three of President Trump's biggest supporters, defending the White House for stonewalling Congress. But it that wasn't that long ago they felt very differently about oversight.

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SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): Article III of impeachment against Richard Nixon, the article was based on the idea that Richard Nixon, as president, failed to comply with subpoenas of Congress.

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BALDWIN: Former Congressman Trey Gowdy, Senator Lindsey Graham and Vice President Mike Pence, three Republican men at the center of Trump's orbit and in the president's corner when it comes to fending all calls for impeachment. Not long ago, they took quite a different tone.

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TREY GOWDY, (R), FORMER CONGRESSMAN: The notion that you can withhold information and documents from Congress no matter whether you're the party in power or not in power is wrong. Respect for the rule of law must mean something irrespective of the vicissitudes of political cycles.

GRAHAM: Article III of impeachment against Richard Nixon, the article was based on the idea that Richard Nixon, as president, failed to comply with subpoenas of Congress. The day Richard Nixon failed to answer that subpoena is the day he was subject to impeachment because he took the power from Congress over the impeachment process away from Congress and he became the judge and jury.

MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You testified about the allegations made against President Clinton.

You said, if they were true, it showed over many months Mr. Clinton engaged in deception, lying under oath, concealing evidence, tampering with witnesses and, in general, obstructing justice by seeking to prevent the proper functioning of the courts, the grand jury, and the investigation of the Office of the Independent Counsel.

I believe -- I'm inferring here -- I believe you testified that if those were proven to be true, those would be instances where the president put his personal interests above public service.

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BALDWIN: Jill Filipovic is a journalist, author and weekly columnist for CNN.com. Her piece entitled, "Even Republicans Know that Trump Can't Do the Job of President."

You just heard all of that sound. Hypocrisy. What else?

JILL FILIPOVIC, FREELANCE JOURNALIST & CNN WEEKLY COLUMNIST & AUTHOR: Yes. It's -- frankly, we're at a terrifying moment right now. We keep talking about this as an impending constitutional crisis. We're in a constitutional crisis.

The fact that Republicans are willing to criticize Trump gently on Syria but not touch this pressing domestic issue, I think really shows how craven the party is, and just how deep of trouble our country is in at this moment.

BALDWIN: You make this point in your piece that these same Republicans who are standing by Trump when it comes to all things impeachment are outraged over what's happening with pulling U.S. troops out of Syria and what could be happening to our friends the Kurds. Right?

Of all the controversial things that President Trump has done, why stand up to him on this? Is it because it's politically innocuous?

FILIPOVIC: That's a big part of it, frankly. Americans don't like a dictatorship. We don't like the sense that members of a party are falling in line behind the strongman.

This gives Republicans plausible deniability, cover. They can say, look, no, it's not that we agree with Trump on everything. Criticized him on Syria, spoke out about this. Allows them to do that in a way that is low stakes.

Trump won't go after them on Twitter for criticizing his Syria policy. He tends to give Republicans more leeway on foreign policy. And, it frankly, doesn't matter to Republican voters that they aren't in line with Trump on this particular issue. It's -- a very high-stakes issue, but quite low-stakes for members of the GOP.

BALDWIN: The tone, though, at least for a pair of Republican women, is shifting slightly.

Let me play this. This is Senator Joni Ernst. When asked by Randi Kaye whether she felt it's right for the president to ask foreign countries for political assistance. Check this out.

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SEN. JONI ERNST (R-IA): Again, I think we're gorge to have to go back just as I said last week. We'll have to wait all of that information is going to go to Senate Intelligence.

(CROSSTALK)

RANDI KAYE, CNN ANCHOR & CORRESPONDENT: Is it appropriate? Just the ask itself?

ERNST: We don't have all the facts in front of us and what is pushed out from the media we don't know what's accurate at this point.

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BALDWIN: Randi kept at it. Kept asking the question. And had Senator Martha McSally echoed that sentiment when talking to the Arizona Republicans.

Jill, isn't the problem with hearing this, Trump has already admitted, already confirmed what he's done in broad daylight.

FILIPOVIC: Right. I don't know that at this point there are such tremendous questions over the fact that Trump has solicited now multiple times help in undermining U.S. democratic processes from foreign nations. He has now also said he's refusing to comply with a legitimate, constitutionally allowed inquiry by Congress.

We are in trouble. This is such a necessary moment for Republicans to step up. And hearing Joni Ernst say they want more information to come out, great. Then the president needs to provide the information Congress is requesting.

[14:45:14]

BALDWIN: Jill Filipovic, good to see you.

FILIPOVIC: Thank you.

BALDWIN: Coming up, a new book unveiling a disturbing allegation against former NBC star, Matt Lauer. A former producer says Lauer raped her anally while intoxicated. What NBC and Lauer are saying, next.

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[14:50:32]

BALDWIN: A new book revealing an incredibly disturbing allegation against former NBC star, Matt Lauer. An allegation many have not heard before.

I warn you going into this the details are troublesome but an important part of the story.

According to this new book, "Catch and Kill," by Ronan Farrow, Brooke Nevils, a former NBC news producer working on the Winter Olympics in Sochi, says after a night of drinking, including six shots of vodka, she went to Lauer's hotel room to pick up her press credential because Lauer took it as a joke. She then left.

But according to this book, she returned a little later after Lauer asked her to come back. And told Ronan Farrow she, quote, "had no reason to suspect Lauer would be anything but friendly based on prior experience."

According to this book, she says Matt Lauer then pushed her against the door, kissed her, pushed her to the bed, flipped her over and asked her if she liked anal sex.

Farrow writes she said, no, according to her interview with him, Lauer, quote, "just did it." Did it while she says she kept saying, no, until she says she silently wept into her pillow.

And then this disturbing detail. She told him as a result of this assault she bled for days.

Despite all of this, she does reveal she went on to have consensual sex with Matt Lauer on several occasions. He told Farrow it was, quote, "completely transactional, it was not a relationship."

Sometime later, Meredith Vieira, formerly of the "Today" show, told her to go to NBC human resources with a lawyer after learning about the assault. When she did that, she told Farrow that NBC essentially covered it up.

Both NBC and Matt Lauer are now speaking out.

And Brian Stelter is our chief media correspondent and host of "RELIABLE SOURCES."

And Matt Lauer breaking silence with a lengthy statement.

BRIAN STELTER, CNN CHIEF MEDIA CORRESPONDENT & CNN HOST, "RELIABLE SOURCES": Categorically saying she's making it up.

Here's a part of it, denying it. "The story Brooke Nevils is telling is filled with false details intended only to create the impression it was an abusive encounter. Nothing could be further from the truth."

Lauer says, "There was aggressive about that encounter. Brooke, did not do anything to object, did not cry. She was a fully enthusiastic and willing partner."

And says, "At no time did she behave in a way that made it appear she was incapable of consent. She seemed to know exactly what she wanted to do."

Lauer went on to say, "The only concern she expressed was someone might see her leaving my room. she embraced me at the door as she left."

Lauer says, "The encounter she now falsely claims was an assault was the beginning of our affair. It was the first of many sexual encounters over the next several months."

He says, "After we returned to New York, we communicated by text and phone, met for drinks. She met me in my apartment on multiple occasions to continue our affair. Our meetings arranged mutually. And at no time during or after multiple visits did she express discomfort with our affair."

She tells a different story in "Catch and Kill," out next week from Ronan Farrow. I obtained an early copy.

She describes PTSD after the events in Sochi. Started drinking heavily. Wasn't herself anymore at work. That is why Vieira told her to go to H.R.

BALDWIN: What is NBC saying?

STELTER: A couple questions come up right away. Were the proper protections in place for employees? How could Lauer be sleeping, alleging raping in one case, a female colleague without management knowing?

NBC says this was truly something kept from management.

A new statement today saying, "Matt Lauer's conduct was appalling, reprehensible and fired within 24 hours of us learning of the complaint. Our hearts break again for our colleague."

In the book, she said she told lots of people at NBC. An open question about who knew what, when.

And came up on the "Today" show this morning. Here's what Savannah Guthrie said.

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SAVANNAH GUTHRIE, NBC CO-HOST, THE TODAY SHOW: You know, this is shocking and appalling and -- I honestly don't even know what to say about it.

I want to say that we -- I know it wasn't easy for our colleague, Brooke, to come forward then. It's not easy now. And we support her and any women who come forward with claims.

And it's just very painful for all of us at NBC and at the "Today" show and you know, it's very, very, very difficult.

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STELTER: You remember, at the time that Lauer was fired, the report was this was an inappropriate sexual encounter at work. Rape is something different. A rape is a crime. That's what Brooke Nevils is alleging She spoke with Meredith because of Harvey Weinstein.

[14:55:06]

A reflection of how the world is changing, progress is being made. But you wonder about the power imbalance in situations like this. Powerful men who seem to be protected by companies. And in Lauer's case, perhaps protected for many years.

BALDWIN: Brian Stelter, thank you for that.

STELTER: Thank you.

BALDWIN: America clearly in the middle of a constitutional crisis. Is the president's obstruction ultimately what leads to his impeachment in the House?

Plus, as the president says the whistleblower should apologize to him, see the 14 times the allegations have already been corroborated, including by the president himself.

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