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White House Declares War on Impeachment Inquiry & Constitution; Sanders Scaling Back Campaign after Heart Attack; NBA Weighing Free Speech Against Access to Chinese Market; Rep. Jim Himes (D-CT) is Interviewed about Impeachment Battle. Aired 7-7:30a ET
Aired October 9, 2019 - 07:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- themselves of that opportunity, it's actually their loss.
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ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: All right. We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is NEW DAY. It's another busy one. Because we begin with President Trump stonewalling the impeachment inquiry.
The White House counsel sending a blistering eight-page letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other top Democrats, claiming that they lack the constitutional authority to even investigate the president. The White House calls the inquiry an illegitimate effort to overturn the 2016 election.
Well, that has Speaker Pelosi warning that any attempts by the Trump administration to hide the truth will be regarded as further evidence of obstruction of justice.
Democrats have now subpoenaed a key witness in the case, Ambassador Gordon Sondland. You'll remember that President Trump blocked Sondland's congressional testimony yesterday. The White House is suggesting other key witnesses will also be blocked from testifying this week.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: So while the White House wants the discussion to be about process, there is important substance here, key developments in the investigation.
CNN has new details about the July 25th call between President Trump and the Ukrainian president. A White House aide who listened to the conversation described it as "crazy" and "frightening." That's according to a memo written by the whistle-blower and turned over to Congress. CNN has also learned that back in May, months before the call,
President Trump directed Energy Secretary Rick Perry and two top State Department officials to circumvent official diplomatic channels and instead deal with Rudy Giuliani after the Ukrainian president asked to meet with President Trump personally.
Joining us now is CNN political analyst Maggie Haberman. She is a White House correspondent for "The New York Times."
MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Good morning.
BERMAN: Maggie, welcome to this next stage as "The New York Times" described it. War. That is what CNN is calling it, and that is clear what's going on here.
The White House took days to release this letter. They were mulling releasing this letter days ago. Why, ultimately, decide -- did they decide to make this a fight about process rather than the substance of the investigation?
HABERMAN: John, I think there's a couple of reasons. I think that the main one, and I think that we've been -- we've been talking about this for days now, is that the basic fact set is not -- is not great for the White House. You know, the question of legality, putting it aside politically, this is a set of potentially damning facts.
Now, you have Republicans arguing after the testimony from Kurt Volker last week that Democrats were cherry-picking the information that came out. Republicans are not in control, obviously. So I think until they are, you're going to see this focus on process.
Part of the reason there was this delay from last week until now, and one is I think that they wanted to double check some of the arguments they were making, however aconstitutional some of them may appear. But there was a debate about whether to call for the House to put this to a vote, to formally open an impeachment inquiry. The letter does not do that.
It does reference that previous impeachment inquiries have taken that step, and therefore, this is why this one is out of bounds. But I think the White House is aware that even some Republicans are not interested in having to record a vote on that matter.
CAMEROTA: Maggie, what's the feeling inside the White House? Are they anxious about the fact that this is all beginning? Or do they think that somehow impeachment could politically help the president?
HABERMAN: Depends on who you talk to, Alisyn. There is a disagreement of views on this among the various aides. There are some people who think that this could help them politically. There are people who think that the -- that the transcript of the call was truly nothing to be concerned about. There are people who think that whatever they put out, that it's going to be looked at in the worst possible light. But there are other people who recognize that an impeachment inquiry,
you know, will swamp this White House, in terms of what it's doing over at least the next couple of months. That it is going to basically require all of their focus.
There isn't agreement on who is actually running it. The answer you hear most often is Jared Kushner. It's not clear that Jared Kushner actually wants to be seen that way. This is something of a hot potato within the White House, where the president is given different answers by different aides as who is in charge.
And then you have the president himself, who while he does -- has in the past, anyway, said that he sees some value politically to an impeachment fight, the reality of it, now that it's really upon him, from everyone I've spoken to, does not thrill him. No president wants to be impeached. I don't think Donald Trump is an exception.
BERMAN: I want to get to more of the process in a second. Because you have some reporting on Trey Gowdy, which is a little -- I don't want to say different. But it adds some -- adds some perspective to what's going on here. Hold on for that for one second.
I do want to talk about Gordon Sondland Sondland. The White House pulled the rug out from under his testimony yesterday. He'd been flown to the United States. Republicans were expecting him to testify, as well.
And my understanding, Maggie, is that there are some Republicans who were hoping he would. Because they felt like why not have a witness who is loyal to the president here? So there is some Republican unease with what's going on here in the White House strategy.
HABERMAN: There were Republican House members who are loyalists to the president who went to the White House to voice their concern with the fact that Gordon Sondland was not allowed to go ahead and testify. This was a decision that was made pretty late, as I understand it, the night before.
And their concern was they believe, as I said before, that there are pieces of the Volker testimony from last week that would be beneficial to the president to have out there. They believe that Sondland could confirm some of that or at least bolster some of that. And that's what they're hoping to do and where they were hoping to go with it. And they felt blind-sided.
I mean, again, part of the problem that this White House has had is there is no consistent message or no consistent information being provided, let alone within the White House but to allies outside of it. And I think that was part of what you saw yesterday from House Republicans, as well.
CAMEROTA: Maggie, you know, having covered this White House now for three years, I was not surprised that Gordon Sondland's appearance was canceled. Stonewalling is their style. Stonewalling is the go-to that we've seen throughout the Mueller investigation and now throughout this investigation.
What I was surprised about was that the transcript of the phone call was put out. That's what I thought seemed to break the pattern. What's your perspective on this?
HABERMAN: I think that the transcript of the phone call being put out, I think, was certainly surprising. And I think there are some people within the White House who, in retrospect, wish it hadn't happened. Not just because there's obviously been this debate about the facts and the fact set and what it means for the president. But also that it sets the precedent, right? That they're going to be expected to put out other transcripts when questions arise.
But I agree with you broadly that their strategy for all of these inquiries, since the Democrats took over the House, has been to basically try to starve them. To try to deny Democrats of key witnesses. To not provide documents. To say, we did all of this before. And to not recognize the House's independent role as a co- equal -- co-equal branch of government. And you're going to see more of that, clearly, based on this letter, going forward.
BERMAN: All right. Trey Gowdy. And just to remind people who he is, he was a Republican congressman who oversaw the Benghazi investigation. And he was at the White House yesterday, Maggie. Is he or is he not, based on your reporting, going to serve as an outside counsel on impeachment to the president?
HABERMAN: Maybe. Most likely. But there were reports last night that Trey Gowdy had lunch with the president yesterday. There were reports several hours later that he was on board.
The way that it has been described to me is -- and No. 1, I think people got confused in the initial reports, in not understanding that he was not ever supposed to be part of the White House apparatus, No. 1. It was always going to be some kind of outside counsel.
No. 2, someone involved in the outside legal team said to me an offer has not been made to Trey Gowdy yet. They do expect to make one. They do expect he will take it. But it wasn't a done deal as of last night.
And John and Alisyn, as you know, until these things are done in Trumpland and even then, they're not necessarily done.
So he will likely be there. I think they would welcome his help. I think that they would welcome his help on a number of fronts, including a public-facing defense. But it is not quite there yet. Maybe that'll change in the next couple of hours. But as of last night, it wasn't done yet.
BERMAN: Until the president writes it on Twitter, it's not real.
CAMEROTA: That's true.
HABERMAN: Even then. I mean, even then -- you know, remember, they had -- this actually reminds me a lot of what happened with the effort to try to form a more expansive legal team outside the White House for the president during the Mueller probe, where there was an announcement on the record from Trump's advisers that Joe DiGenova was going to be joining the White House legal team. And then, I think, within a day or two, that was suddenly not the case anymore. So we'll see.
CAMEROTA: Well, in case it does become Trey -- Trey Gowdy, I think that it's important to go back and see how he would feel about a president not giving documents to Congress when they are subpoenaed or when they need them for an investigation. So here is how Trey Gowdy feels about that or did in 2012.
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TREY GOWDY, FORMER REPUBLICAN REPRESENTATIVE: 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.
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CAMEROTA: He feels strongly that the White House cannot withhold any information or documents, Maggie.
HABERMAN: There is a wealth of quotes from both Republicans and Democrats saying the opposite thing of what they are saying now about impeachment. Again, it isn't just Republicans.
I do think that Trey Gowdy can expect to have a lot of those quotes played back to him if he is helping this legal team on this show, on a number of shows. And I think that one of the things that the Trump folks have been trying to avoid is allies and surrogates who become their own distraction. And I'm not sure that Trey Gowdy necessarily gets them there.
CAMEROTA: All right, Maggie Haberman. Thank you very much for the inside scoop from D.C.
BERMAN: All right. There's important news in the Democratic race for president. Senator Bernie Sanders has announced he will scale back his campaign events after suffering a heart attack. What does that mean for his campaign and the future of the 2020 race?
BERMAN: All right. Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders now says he will change the nature of his campaign after a follow-up visit with his cardiologist. There's no indication that he plans to end his bid for the White House following his heart attack. But he did acknowledge that health issues will likely be something that voters will take into account.
CNN's Ryan Nobles has been all over this story. He's up in Burlington, Vermont, where the senator is recovering from this heart attack. Ryan, what's going to happen?
RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right, John. This news came after Sanders visited with a cardiologist here in Burlington yesterday. This was a follow-up appointment after that heart attack he suffered last week in Las Vegas.
And we were a bit surprised when Sanders told us about how the heart attack was going to impact his campaign going forward. Listen to him talk about how the nature of the campaign will change.
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SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: 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 be doing 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.
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NOBLES: This is a pretty big shift for Sanders, because one of the things that he has prided himself on is just how busy he is on the campaign trail. He will travel as many as six days a week, hold between three and four events a day.
And now he says that he's actually going to become more in line with his Democratic opponents. Not doing quite as many events. But he still plans to be very actively involved in this campaign. And also, John, he says he is not going anywhere.
Now, it's important to keep in mind while this is certainly a setback for Sanders, he's now a 78-year-old man who suffered a heart attack that could hurt his campaign. Sanders is still a force to be reckoned with in this Democratic nomination, primarily because he's going to report $33.7 million cash on hand. Those are a lot of resources to keep the campaign moving.
Even if we may not see Sanders on the campaign trail as much, expect his ideas and his voice to still be an important part of this process. But no doubt, this changes the scope of the Democratic primary in a big way -- John.
BERMAN: All right, Ryan. Ryan Nobles for us in Burlington. Please keep us posted.
CAMEROTA: I think that's really important that he's had a more rigorous schedule, he says, than other candidates.
BERMAN: Oh, yes.
CAMEROTA: And he's going to make it equal to the other candidates now.
BERMAN: We'll see. We'll see.
CAMEROTA: All right. The NBA's hopes for global expansion into China has become a political, diplomat, and financial mess, all because of one now-deleted tweet. This is the latest example of U.S. companies' struggle to balance American free-market ideals and democracy with one of the biggest economies in the world.
CNN chief business correspondent Christine Romans joins us. How are they going to do this one?
CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, you two.
Well, you know, the NBA has found itself in an issue faced by airlines, hotel chains, retailers, tech companies, virtually anyone who wants to do business in China. Toe the Communist Party line on Hong Kong protests, on Uyghur Muslims, on Taiwan's independence claims, on Tibet, or face threats of losing access to the big Chinese market.
Adam Silver of the NBA, by saying he respects his employees' free speech, he chose principle over profit. And you guys, that is rare, quite frankly.
Now, before the Hong Kong protests, the most visible flashpoint has been Taiwan. Taiwan is a self-ruled democracy that Beijing insists be treated as part of mainland China.
Airlines caved to Chinese demands to change their dropdown menus and their maps to read Taiwan, China, rather than simply Taiwan.
Chinese aviation authority demands that Hong Kong and Macau also be clearly labeled as part of China.
At the time, the U.S. government called China's language police "Orwellian nonsense." But you know, companies themselves rarely stand up against the Chinese government.
Last year, The Gap apologized for a T-shirt with a map of China that did not include Taiwan. Tech blogs noticed this week that Apple is hiding the Taiwan flag from its emoji keyboard for users whose IOS settings are in Hong Kong or Macau.
Last year a Marriott employee was quickly fired, and Marriott apologized because that employee, you guys, on social media liked a post about Tibet -- Alisyn.
CAMEROTA: OK, Christine. Thank you very much for that update.
So the White House has decided to fight the impeachment inquiry. What do Democrats do now? Well, a member of the House Intelligence Committee tells us, next.
[07:24:18] CAMEROTA: President Trump waging war on Congress and the impeachment inquiry, cutting off all cooperation. So what is the next step for Democrats?
Joining us now is Democratic Congressman Jim Himes of Connecticut. He is a member of the House Intelligence Committee.
So what now? What now, Congressman? They won't cooperate with the inquiry.
REP. JIM HIMES (D-CT): Good morning, Alisyn.
Well, now it's pretty clear what happens next, which is that witnesses that we want to interview are served subpoenas. And the president's four-page letter notwithstanding which, you know, made no legal sense, made no legal arguments that work.
I mean, you know, the subject of an investigation doesn't get to say, hey, I don't want to cooperate here.
You know, a subpoena is a very serious document. It literally means under penalty. If you don't show up, there is a penalty. Jailing and fines and that sort of thing.
So subpoenas will be received by all of the people that the Congress wants to talk to. They will ignore those subpoenas at their peril. You don't get to say no to a congressional subpoena. So I imagine that we will eventually get to talk to these people.
Look, the objective here is not to keep folks from talking to Congress. I think anybody with any law school at all around the president will know that you can't ignore a congressional subpoena. It's just to make a political argument, which is what they letter was. And to stall for time, of course, which is -- which is pretty unfortunate. Because we've got a lot to do.
CAMEROTA: Well, I mean, you say that their legal argument was specious. Pat Cipollone is the White House counsel. He's the one making those legal arguments.
Here is, I think, the heart of their case. So let me read it to you. This is what was in the letter to your committee's chairman: "You have denied the president the right to cross-examine witnesses, to call witnesses, to receive transcripts of testimony, to have access to evidence, to have counsel present and many other basic rights guaranteed to all Americans."
What's wrong with that argument?
HIMES: Well, Alisyn, what's wrong with that argument is it completely misunderstands the process, right? So in an impeachment proceeding, you have the House do articles of impeachment. That is akin to an indictment. Right? And then you have the Senate do a trial.
A trial is a place where, as all Americans know, there is a prosecutor and there is a defense, and everybody gets to see all the evidence. In an indictment, in a grand jury proceeding, which is what the House is doing, that is not true.
So it's just completely specious. And I would point out to you, Alisyn, that the same rules that we have followed in every other investigation -- Benghazi, the eight or nine Benghazi investigations -- are being followed now. Meaning when a witness comes before a committee, the Democrats get precisely the same amount of time as the Republicans to ask questions.
And so it almost makes me sad that you read that on television, because it's just a fundamental and specious misunderstanding of what the process is. We're doing this investigation the way congressional investigations have always been done. If there is a trial in the Senate, all of the due process that the letter refers to will be observed, as it always is in any form of trial.
CAMEROTA: Well, I mean, Congressman, I think it's helpful to have you spell that out for viewers. I don't know if all viewers are as steeped in the process and in the legality as you are. And so I think it's helpful to hear their argument and then hear you explain why you believe it's specious. But -- but look --
HIMES: I'm in politics. I understand -- I understand what they're doing here. But it is just 100 percent completely wrong.
Again, this investigation is being conducted like every other investigation has been and all of those due process protections will be observed in the Senate.
HIMES: Now, what troubles me, of course, is that Pat Cipollone and the lawyers, they know this. So they are deliberately being misleading. And I don't know -- I guess I've been in politics a little while, but that still makes me sad.
CAMEROTA: That's helpful.
Speaking of articles of impeachment, it sounds as though Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi now believes there is ample evidence of obstruction of justice, given that Ambassador Gordon Sondland's appearance was canceled, given this letter. And that there is evidence of asking a foreign power for help investigating a political rival in the upcoming election. We've all seen the transcript.
So what are you waiting for? Why not vote on the articles of impeachment now?
HIMES: Well, because impeachment is a serious thing, Alisyn. And, you know, we need an opportunity to talk to the witnesses who were in the room.
Look, despite what the president is saying, the whistle-blower complaint is very specific, and it is fully corroborated, as you point out, by the so-called transcript that the White House put out there.
And by the way, by the president himself, who looked into a whole bunch of television cameras and said, hey, China, you, too, ought to investigate Joe Biden.
You know, you're right. The facts aren't really much in dispute here. But you know, you don't rush to judgment. You don't do this without taking due care. And you need to dispose of some arguments.
The -- you know, the secretary of state is still trying to convince the American people that this is something that we do, you know? And Alisyn, the reality is that we probably, over the generations, have worked with hundreds of countries on corruption. Right? There are a lot of corrupt countries out there. So hundreds of times we've gone to countries and say, we want to work with you to reduce corruption.
Not in a single once of those instances -- not ever, not once -- has working with other countries on corruption involved the president saying, I want you to investigate this person who happens to be my political opponent.
So, you know, we've got to do away with a lot of the absolute baloney that people like the secretary of state of the United States of America have been putting out there so that the American people understand the facts about what is happening here.
CAMEROTA: Congressman, is there any chance left in your mind that this Friday, former ambassador Marie Yovanovitch appears to answer questions?