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CNN: National Security Council Official Raised Concerns To White House Lawyers After Ukraine Call; Sen. Sanders Scaling Back Campaign Schedule After Heart Attack. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired October 9, 2019 - 12:30   ET

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


[12:30:00] MICHAEL WARREN, CNN REPORTER: He made that very clear. In fact he's told CNN that recently. I want to be secretary of state. He now had that opportunity. And it really alarmed a lot of people sort of in the career level as well as some even some of these political folks.

But look, I think it's very interesting that Rudy Giuliani sort of is playing this role and we're learning more and more that, again, sort of confirms that whistle blower statement as the President has been saying the entire thing was wrong.

JOHN KING, CNN HOST: He keeps saying it's wrong. Every piece of information we've been able to corroborate has turned out to be spot- on. I mean, not just right, but spot-on. Here's Rick Perry, his end of the conversation. Again, listen to all these names as Rick Perry goes through. Yeah, I talked to these guys.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICK PERRY, ENERGY SECRETARY: I talked to the President about this. I had a conversation, a phone call with Rudy Giuliani about it. I've talked to the previous ambassador. I've talked to the current ambassador. I've talked to Kurt Volker, Gordon Sondland, the E.U. ambassador.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Everyone of the people mentioned by Secretary Perry there is a government employee, somebody with the official charge to do this business, except the President's personal attorney, who I should also mention as he goes around accusing other people of corruption, his security firm has contracts with overseas people including in the past at least a pro-Russia party in the Ukraine.

SEUNG MIN KIM, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yeah. I think this is also why Giuliani has become such a center, such a focal point for Congress in terms of someone who wants to be questioned. Obviously, Democrats have set him on their sites. The interesting wrinkle in this yesterday is Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham saying he would be interested in having Giuliani come talk to his committee.

Now, there are a lot of details that have to be worked out here. Obviously, I mean, we've talked to the committee and said, this would be open or closed. And we haven't decided that yet. It could be staff questioning, it could be senators. But we already saw one of the members of that committee, Kamala Harris who's running for the Democratic presidential nomination, basically licking her chops and getting ready to question Rudy Giuliani.

And I think a lot of Republicans told me just privately, they are not sure this is a good idea. They know Rudy is just to have him constantly out there saying things is not good for the party.

KING: All right, to have his facts challenged which is not hard at all and to have the sources of information challenged many of whom are suspect especially when it comes to Ukraine. But the other stuff Rudy Giuliani, I mean press business practices, again, as we stick to the information building as the standoff continues.

Here's some more reporting yesterday. A White House official who listened to President Trump's July phone call with the Ukraine leader describes it as quote, crazy, frightening, and completely lacking in substance related to national security, according to a memo written by the whistle-blower at the center of the Ukraine scandal.

And then CNN reporting following up on this, at least one National Security Council official alerted the White House's national security lawyers about the concerns, three sources familiar with the matter said. A detail that had not been previously disclosed, unsettled aides also immediately began quizzing each other about whether they should alert senior officials who were not on the call, mainly those at the Justice Department since Trump had invoked the agency's boss, Bill Barr multiple times.

MARGARET TALEV, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes.

KING: So the President says this is all false. All the reporting you do shows across his administration including people loyal to him, who worked for him, listen to this call and thought, what in the world is going on.

TALEV: There are real concerns about bypassing the normal filters and standards by which things come up through lawyers reviewing them, through the career diplomats reviewing them. They're being that sort of internal administration checks and balances on, is this the right policy to be pursuing, is this good idea of who's being held accountable?

And President Trump, one of his central arguments in the 2016 campaign was that Hillary Clinton as secretary of state had acted outside of those sort of lanes with the private e-mail servers, the conversations kind of outside of scrutiny or purview. But all of this is an outside conversation with someone who has private contracts.

And these are all bypasses on those filters, text chains on personal phones, e-mails that are not government e-mails, policies that are not routed through the policy departments. There is a lot -- this is not just a Democratic concern. This is a bipartisan --

KING: And outside of the process, outside of the -- you're very smartly build what the process should be outside of the process. He's not saying, how can I help you against Russian aggression? Read the call. Raised by the White House, how can I help you against Vladimir Putin?

He's saying, can you pursue this debunked conspiracy theory about 2016 and can you get dirt on Joe Biden, can you do a favor? So in addition to the process, there's also the substance of that call which is, shall we say, outside the norms. We'll come back to it later.

Up next, Bernie Sanders changes his campaign strategy after a heart attack. Almost 20 years ago, another Democratic contender also on the trail dealing with a heart issue.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[12:34:38] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Instead of it going thump, thump, thump. It will go thump, thump, thump, thump, thump, thump. So I mean, that's the -- that's how you feel. It feels just not a regular heartbeat. In other words, you're aware you have a heart. Most of us live everyday, we're not aware we have a heart. When this occurs you're aware you have a heart.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Bernie Sanders is acknowledging it's time to slow it down. The senator home in Vermont recovering from a heart attack, he suffered on the campaign trail last week. He spoke with reporters last night about his recovery, reassuring voters that he intends to remain a force in the race, but also acknowledging his campaign will shift strategy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[12:40:12] BERNIE SANDERS (D-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Look, we were doing, you know, in some cases five or six meetings a day, you know, three or four rallies and town meetings and meeting with groups of people. I don't think I'm going to do that. But 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.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: We won't know until we see him back on the trail. He does say he'll be at the CNN debate next week. But he was known, one of the things that made Sanders so interesting as a candidate was he was the energizer bunny. He did all these rallies. He says he's leading a revolution and he's incredible active in doing so. Do we expect this to impact, to hurt him?

MELANIE ZANONA, CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER, POLITICO: I mean this could be a setback for him. It also comes as he just posted a massive fund- raising hall, he out race everyone else in the field. So we'll just have to wait and see. As you said, this was part of his strength as the way he was able to go out there and be so vigorous and energetic.

And I think more broadly, this just brings the topic of age to the forefront for all the candidates, the top three frontrunners are on their 70s, the President is under 70s. And the candidates also have to be prepared for the Republicans to weaponize this as well. I mean keep in mind what they did to Hillary Clinton after she had pneumonia and a dizziness spell. So I think candidates have to be prepared to talk about this issue.

KAROUN DEMIRJIAN, CNN COMMENTATOR: I think it also necessarily just begs the question of what role will Bernie Sanders' campaign be playing in the greater campaign stories. I mean will he continue be, you know, considered a frontrunner for the presidency or just somebody who's going to be a, you know, a very loud voice of where the party should be on various policy issues, because campaigns are very taxing and that's true but so as being president.

And unfortunately, you know, I know that there's, you know, stories about how Reagan would be done with his work before 5:00 p.m. But we live in a 24/7 world right now. The president, the current president tweets at 3:00 in the morning sometimes. You can't just pare down your schedule if you're in the White House. And that's of course what everybody who's running right now is hoping to be.

KING: Right. And one of the interesting things throughout the campaign in watching Senator Sanders is that, this is a very different race than 2016 when he was more of the alternative to one candidate, the frontrunner, the establishment candidate, Hillary Clinton, Jonathan Martin touches on this in "The New York Times."

This will just raise the issue of age which to me has always been the Achilles heel of Sanders's campaign, said Andrew Smith who's the polling director at the University of New Hampshire. When Sanders ran for president in 2016, he was the not-Hillary Clinton candidate and no one paid attention to how old he is. Now, there will be a lot of attention to how old he is, and how old Joe Biden is as you note, and Elizabeth Warren. Is that the issue, the vigor, or, you know, how does this get processed?

TALEV: Well, everyone's in their 70s that we're talking about. But Elizabeth Warren is on a completely different end of her 70s than Bernie Sanders and then Joe Biden. And I think this will emphasize this.

It almost changes, it almost adds like a touch of -- like a grace note or a humility note to this discussion of Bernie Sanders and the role that he plays. We have been looking at him in the context of the primary as he and Elizabeth Warren are running in the same lane. He was the dominant guy last time around, but maybe that's because she wasn't in it. He's got the money now, but you see her upswing in the polls. You know, is it a race between the two of them?

I think now that we're talking about this, this is like a legitimate concern. You know, his health is a legitimate issue for him, it's a concern for him as well as it is for voters. But if you add together the intense loyalty and fund-raising, small donor fund-raising prowess that both Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren have, as two people who are competing against one another. If you put that together and compare it with the rest of the field including Joe Biden, the money blows everybody else away. The number of supporters blows everybody else away. Their combined imprint in the polling blows everybody else away.

So I think Bernie Sanders is going to have to figure out does he have the physical stamina and is he on a health trajectory to be able to go all the way with this. I think he will right now. But if not, you can understand how he and Elizabeth Warren joining forces together in terms of harnessing the vote and the support would be enormous and seemingly unstoppable in the primaries.

KING: Right. And I would just remind people just don't underestimate him in the sense that because if you look at the national polls right now, he runs third. There's been a lot of conversation even before the heart attack about does he have a path to victory in the race. But he helped rewrite the Democratic rules as well. And you mentioned he had raised $25 million in the last quarter as a candidate in this.

You don't have to win to a mass a lot of delegates. And then you see how the race drags out as you go. So I think there's a lot we don't know. But I think the question is, we'll see him on the debate stage, number one, three hours on the debate stage should be your first test. And that's coming up pretty quickly.

[12:44:43] Up next for us when we come back, as the impeachment fight escalates in the House, some Republicans in the Senate trying to thread the needle.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Republicans trying to navigate President Trump's impeachment fight are getting mixed signals. On the one hand, new NBC Wall Street Journal poll shows the President's approval rating holding steady despite those growing questions over impeachment. On the other, a Quinnipiac poll this week showing a reversal in public approval of an impeachment inquiry which support jumping 21 points since the end of July. That uncertainty leading many in the GOP like the Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski to adopt what you might call a take it slow approach.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[12:50:00] SEN. LISA MURKOWSKI (R-AK): Even before there has been any considered review that people have decided that there is either absolutely you must get rid of him tomorrow viewpoint or he must stay in and no questions asked. There is a process.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: I'm beginning to think that there weren't anybody like that left.

TALEV: Two or three. KING: We're laughing about it but in a way it's not funny. In the sense that you, you know, sort of a veteran member of the Senate whose father was a senator as well, essentially saying, why doesn't everybody just calm down. The question is, she says we need facts. Will she stir and push to get those facts? Or is that just a political argument? We're waiting for facts. Or when she come backs she's very well-respected by leader McConnell. Will she say, look, Mr. Leader, we have to have a legitimate process to answer these questions?

DEMIRJIAN: Maybe. Honestly it's not really on the Senate in a way. Like I mean the House's job to build this case and make the case to the Senate then sits there as a jury to decide whether it actually holds water. I mean you see--

KING: In impeachment, right, that's what the process.

DEMIRJIAN: In an impeachment, right. You see that Lindsey Graham is stepping up and saying I'm going to have an inquiry in which there's so far only one witness and that witness is Rudy Giuliani, which seems more like a way of kind of poking holes in what the House is doing. And Lisa Murkowski doesn't control a committee that would have a direct in on that.

But, you know, they can make demands from the sidelines like this to say, you know, let's take it a little more process. But in a way, every time she talks like that she's bolstering Nancy Pelosi's argument for not putting anything on the floor until they're done. And have more facts setting up.

KING: As you jump in, I'll just bring up one other thing she said, again, this sounds very reasonable, which means it will never happen. This is Murkowski again.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MURKOWSKI: And I'm also trying to think to myself if this set of facts were to be in front of me and the president was President Hillary Clinton as opposed to President Donald Trump, would I be viewing this in a different way because if I do, that's wrong.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Amen. But --

TALEV: Yeah. It's kind of hard to see where that all goes. I mean I think when you look at those trend lines in the polling, you understand how the pressure really falls the way we always knew that it fell, on those swing state senators, on those swing district House members, because you see this sort of flat line in the low 40s of support for the President.

And on the other side which is like 50 and a little bit of change, a move hardening, a move towards more motivation to oust him from office whether through impeachment or through election, you know. But I think, I don't know how that translates in terms of a vote at all. And as long as Republicans continue to control the Senate, the impeachment fight itself still at this point ends the way we have always known.

KING: They come back from recess next week. It will be interesting to see if the language changes from what they've heard at home. We shall see.

[12:53:13] Up next for us, the Acting White House Chief of Staff is Mick Mulvaney. Does the impeachment inquiry put his job in jeopardy?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: A little lightning round at the end of the show, a couple other quick stories. Some headlines for you here in the middle of the impeachment, you would think President Trump needs all hands on deck. Mulvaney sidelined as Trump's impeachment crisis rages. The Atlantic says, Mick Mulvaney's uncertain fate.

About a week ago, CNN's Dana Bash wrote a piece that the President was mad at Mulvaney. The White House said, oh, come on, go away. That we're still seeing these headlines a week later, it tells you what?

TALEV: It tells us that the President is frustrated with both Pat Cipollone and with Mick Mulvaney for not preventing what has been happening in terms of the roll out.

KING: Isn't the better question, is the President happy with anyone?

TALEV: I see Trey Gowdy's involvement now as a bit of a buffer for Mick Mulvaney. Trey Gowdy is close both with Mick Mulvaney and with Lindsey Graham. And it creates an ally even from the outside for Mick Mulvaney in terms of how to sort of prosecute their defense.

KING: Excellent point, excellent for an old friend from South Carolina, friend from the House.

Hillary Clinton yesterday, the President tweeted that she should run again. She said, don't tempt me. This in the "Daily Beast", the idea that Clinton would mount a third presidential bid has circulated for months among fringe right wing activists. Now, as House Democrats move closer to impeaching Trump, more mainstream pro-Trump figures are picking up the same claim. I'm going to emphasize the word, claim.

She knows -- she clearly, you could completely understand this, likes to mix it up with the President. She's criticizing Mike Pompeo in an interview late last night I think for his role in the middle of this. You can understand that the idea that she's going to run again, why are the conservatives?

ZANONA: Yeah. Conservatives just go bunkers over this obviously. But I think part of it is that Republicans are trying to make the argument that impeachment is all about undoing the results of the 2016 election. Perhaps this theory can bolster that. And I wouldn't be surprise if this makes its way into the President's Twitter feed at some point but.

KING: It's click bait, right?

KIM: Click bait, basically, we'll see.

TALEV: Hillary Clinton is not going to stand in Elizabeth Warren's way. Somebody else can do that. That's not going to be her.

KING: Wow. That was -- wow, OK then. Interesting take there.

[12:59:53] Thanks for joining us today in INSIDE POLITICS. Don't go anywhere, busy NEWS DAY. Brianna Keilar starts right now. Have a great afternoon.

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