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AT THIS HOUR
Two Men Who Helped Giuliani's Efforts to Investigate Biden in Ukraine Under Arrest; House Democrats Prepare a Flurry of New Subpoenas; Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA) Discusses Whether Yovanovitch Testifies Tomorrow, Arrest of Giuliani Associates, Sanders' Presidential Race. Aired 11-11:30a ET
Aired October 10, 2019 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everybody. I'm Kate Bolduan. Thanks so much for joining me.
We begin with breaking news this hour. Two associates of Rudy Giuliani arrested this morning, due in court in Virginia later today, facing criminal charges for violating campaign finance laws.
It has to do with Ukraine. They allegedly gave hundreds of thousands of dollars to a Donald Trump super PAC. And the indictment even mentions efforts to push out the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine.
Let's get much more on this as these details are still coming out. CNN's senior justice correspondent, Evan Perez, is joining me now with the details.
Evan, 21 pages, this indictment is. What are you learning from it?
EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kate, I think the bottom line of this indictment is that, for the first time, now we're getting some information from the prosecutors in Manhattan that ties some of the foreign influence money that these two men are charged with.
Essentially trying to scheme to bring into the U.S. political system with the efforts that the president of the United States and his personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, which we know, in recent days, have shown they were involved in an effort to try to remove the U.S. ambassador in Ukraine. Her name is Marie Yovanovitch. She's now going to become a key figure in this unfolding scandal that is here in Washington.
Let me just give you the back story here. Igor Fruman and Lev Parnas are the two men who were arrested. They were arrested yesterday at Dulles Airport. They're due to appear in court here this afternoon in Alexandria, Virginia.
And they're facing charges in Manhattan. This is where these charges on conspiracy, false statements to the Federal Election Commission, and falsification of records is something they're facing along with two other individuals.
The indictment says, quote, "These contributions were made for the purpose of gaining influence with politicians so as to advance their own personal financial interests and the political interests of Ukrainian government officials, including at least one Ukrainian government official with whom they were working."
And then another part of the indictment reads as follows, it says that "Parnas" -- this is Lev Parnas -- "met with a person identified as Congressman One and sought Congressman One's assistance in causing the U.S. government to remove or recall the then-U.S. ambassador to Ukraine. Parnas' efforts to remove the ambassador were conducted, at least in part, at the request of one or more of the Ukrainian government officials."
And, Kate, the importance of this is that we know the president was pushing to remove, that Rudy Giuliani, his personal lawyer, was very much involved in trying to get removed. She was sidelined as a result of this effort.
According to this indictment, we now know that these two men, taking foreign money, bringing it into the U.S. political were at the heart of that effort to remove her.
And I think it's going on raise additional questions here. What were the interest of Rudy Giuliani, where was his personal interest and where did they intertwine with essentially U.S. government foreign policy and the president's own personal interest?
Because you remember that these men were essentially helping to dig up dirt on Joe Biden. And Rudy Giuliani had cited them publicly. He said they're his clients, that they were helping him try to get this operation in Ukraine started, essentially, to try to tar the 2020 potential rival for President Trump.
Again, these are important questions that are going to be raised as a result of this indictment today -- Kate?
BOLDUAN: And they're going to be in court today. There's much more to be learned because there's a lot of people not named. As you mentioned. Congressman One, you know, Candidate One, throughout this whole thing.
And also, part of this is that, in the indictment, it says that these defendants, that they attempted to conceal the scheme from the candidates, from the campaigns. So it really gets to -- there's so many more questions of who knew what and when and where did this influence fall.
PEREZ: Right. Can I --
BOLDUAN: Go ahead. PEREZ: Can I add one last thing? One of the things that is mentioned
here, and I think it will raise two additional questions, is there's a mention of a rally. This is, again, these men were involved in raising money and going to a particular rally to support a candidate in Nevada. We now know that that is a rally that President Trump attended.
PEREZ: So, again, these are important questions where we don't know -- obviously, there's no indication and no accusation that the president or anybody associated with him knew exactly what these men were doing, the provenance of the money, the idea that there was foreign money being brought in and concealed, which is illegal under U.S. law. Those are important things to note.
But, again, important questions being asked about who these people were associating with and why, was the president's personal lawyer so deeply involved with that.
BOLDUAN: Absolutely, Evan. Stay with us, please.
This adds even more pressure to the White House as Democrats and Congress, of course, are pushing forward with their impeachment inquiry.
CNN's Kaitlan Collins is at the White House with more on this.
Kaitlan, is the White House responding? How is the White House responding if at all?
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Nothing from the White House yet. We've asked them to comment on this but, so far, they have not. They've declined to do so.
But what we are learning is more from this super PAC, this pro-Trump super PAC that these two men donated to. They own this energy company. This energy company made a six-figure donation to this pro- Trump super PAC in May of 2018. That was the donation, of course, that prompted this SEC complaint alleging they violated campaign finance laws.
We reached out to that super PAC. They said they can confirm that they had that donation made to them, but they said, after that complaint was filed, America First Action placed that donation into a segregated bank account. "It has not been used for any purposes and the funds will remain in that account until these matters are resolved."
That coming from Kelly Sadler, a former White House aide who is now a spokesperson for America First, which is the pro-Trump super PAC that has several White House officials, in addition, working for it, namely the former small business administrator, Linda McMahon. Sean Spicer also doing work for them. They are responding to this now. And one more connection, Kate, that we should make to this is John Dowd is representing these two men. Of course, you'll remember Dowd was on the president's legal team until the early spring of last year. He's not commenting on this, either.
But this is something that will be something the White House has to comment on.
BOLDUAN: And Rudy Giuliani is also not responding at this moment, which is unusual for Rudy Giuliani. We will wait and see.
Kaitlan, thank you so much.
Evan is back with me. We are joined by Michael Gerhardt, a CNN legal analyst and law professor at UNC. He literally wrote the book on impeachment. Susan Glasser, CNN global affairs analyst and staff writer for the "New Yorker."
Michael, how -- do -- do these two arrests today of Rudy Giuliani associates, does it complicate the impeachment picture that is happening on Capitol Hill?
MICHAEL GERHARDT, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I don't think it does yet. We may -- I think we'll need more information about who knew what about what they were doing, who was involved with it, who might have sanctioned it, who supported it. So we've got to do fact-finding.
This is actually a perfect illustration of why in an inquiry held by the House more fact-finding is needed and the House can undertake further investigation that will include determining the extent to which Giuliani was connected with these people or these people were connected in some way with the president.
There's no evidence, as all of you have said, thus far indicating any connection between them and the president, but it's within the House's jurisdiction, so to speak, it's power to look into any possible connection.
BOLDUAN: Susan, this puts the spotlight squarely back on Rudy Giuliani. We know that Marie Yovanovitch was pushed out following complaints to President Trump by Rudy Giuliani and others. We know that one of these men in this indictment told NPR that he helped connect Rudy Giuliani to folks in Ukraine when Rudy was on his quest to investigate Joe Biden. And we know that happened to the president before.
But what does this mean for the president and impeachment, do you think?
SUSAN GLASSER, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: I think that's an excellent question. To me, we'll see how the facts play out.
But first of all, we should point out that Ambassador Yovanovitch is supposed to appear tomorrow before Congress and testify in a deposition to the House Intelligence Committee. It's unclear whether she will be allowed to do so by the State Department. Remember, Trump and Secretary of State Pompeo have refused to cooperate thus far with the inquiry. So that is very significant.
I also find it very significant that there's this unnamed congressman number one in the indictment. What we already know publicly is that a former Republican Congressman, Pete Sessions, met with these two men last year and that, after that meeting, he transmitted a letter of complaint about Ambassador Yovanovitch, that was the first public complaint that I'm aware of that there was a Republican campaign against this foreign career service professional.
And it was months later that President Trump personally, according to reporting, is the one who made the decision to oust this ambassador. And, again, there was no real complaint against her, except there appeared to be these criticisms of her coming from the previous Ukrainian government that she was too tough on corruption.
And so, again, we have a lot of new information that's interesting in this indictment that people will follow up. But I'm struck by the fact that it's very relevant to the unfolding impeachment inquiry on Capitol Hill.
This is not some separate unrelated scandal.
GLASSER: Potentially, it helps answer the question that I've been wondering from the very beginning, which is, why did the president of the United States personally fire a U.S. ambassador to Ukraine. And then months later, withhold hundreds of millions of dollars in military aid. And months later, have a phone call with the new leader of Ukraine and demand an investigation.
These are very troubling and suspicious facts. And so I think this is a major development.
BOLDUAN: Evan, can you help us link this to the bigger picture of the investigation, as Susan has just kind of doing, as well.
BOLDUAN: The broader picture of the investigation into Ukraine and the pressure coming from the president and his inner circle.
PEREZ: Well, you know, I think Susan said it correctly, that I think this is beginning to fill in some of the blanks, some very important unanswered questions that remain.
By the way, these two men, Fruman and Parnas, who are charged with a couple of other individuals, by the way, but these two men in particular were being asked to appear as soon as this week before the congressional committees that are doing the impeachment inquiry. They were supposed to appear. Or they were being asked to appear. We didn't know whether or not they were going to. But the fact that they were arrested at Dulles Airport perhaps answers that question. The other thing that I think is worse mentioning here is that this is
an investigation that's been going for a while. Bill Barr, the attorney general, was briefed on it when he first took office back in February and we know he's been keeping his distance from Rudy Giuliani.
You know, I think it's a very smart thing that he did that because I think the questions that are coming about Rudy Giuliani and where his personal interests and where U.S. government foreign policy interests align and whether or not one was taken precedence over the other, I think that's an important question that's being asked as part of this impeachment inquiry.
Again, he's very close to the president. He's the president's personal attorney. He's the one that was going around trying to dig up this dirt, allegedly, on Joe Biden and trying to --
BOLDUAN: And he says he's doing all of it for the president.
PEREZ: Yes. He makes no bones about it. He says he's doing it on behalf of the president and because he believes that it is important for the voters to know about this before the 2020 election.
It's clear, by the way, Kate, that from this document, from these documents in Southern District of New York, the prosecutors are very much keeping their eye on the idea not only of foreign influence but perhaps this information campaign that may be coming as a result of any efforts from Russia or the Ukrainians, who are working for some of these people, who may be trying to influence the 2020 election.
Again, big questions that are being asked before people start casting their ballots for 2020 and I think this is beginning to illuminate some of that.
BOLDUAN: Much more to come.
Michael, Susan, Evan, thanks, guys. I really appreciate it.
Coming up for us, another key impeachment witness -- as we've been talking about. Another key impeachment witness scheduled to answer questions on Capitol Hill tomorrow. But what happens if she doesn't show? If she's not allowed to? We're going to ask a member of the House Oversight Committee, next.
Plus, George Conway, he's speaking out, joined by a group of prominent conservative legal minds. They're laying out their case that the president has violated his oath of office and are laying out their case for what that should mean for impeachment. One of the attorneys behind this new letter is our guest.
Be right back.
BOLDUAN: In the wake of the White House's flat-out refusal to cooperate with aspect of the House's impeachment investigation, a job uniquely prescribed in the Constitution for the House of Representatives, as a reminder, House Democrats are looking to the phase of the inquiry, holding a conference call tomorrow to plot their next moves as most members are still in their districts for recess.
Democrats are also waiting to hear if their next witness will actually appear, former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, who we talked about today. She's now becoming a central focus in this investigation.
She is scheduled to speak to House committees behind closed doors tomorrow. But the last administration employee that was planning to appear was blocked at the last minute by the White House.
CNN's Manu Raju is joining me now with more.
Manu, what have you learned?
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, at the moment, the Democrats and Republicans are still expecting Marie Yovanovitch to appear tomorrow. I stress at the moment because that could change.
While she had been recalled from that post as the Ukrainian ambassador, she still is a State Department employee, which is prompting a lot of questions about whether or not she may actually need a subpoena to testify.
This comes as Democrats are planning a flurry of new subpoenas in the wake of the White House refusal to cooperate with their investigation.
The also plan to subpoena three Rudy Giuliani associates to appear after they did comply with a request for records. Today, two of those associates, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, have been arrested on campaign finance allegations, so the question, they probably are not going to end up speaking to those individuals.
But there are others that they do want to bring forward in the days ahead. There is also a top former Russia advisor for President Trump, Fiona Hill, who left the Trump administration this summer. She is supposed to testify on Monday.
At the same time, there are questions, Kate, about exactly what the Democrats' next steps are in the wake of the presidential stonewalling.
And as the pressure to builds to finish the impeachment this fall, tomorrow there will be a conference call that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi plans to have with some of her members.
At the moment, she believes there should not be a vote to formally authorize the impeachment inquiry. Some of her members do. They want to call the White House's bluff because the White House says it's not complying with the requests because there has been no formal vote.
Nevertheless, those kinds of debates will happen behind the scenes as Pelosi and Democrats ramped up the investigation saying the stonewalling won't slow them down -- Kate?
BOLDUAN: Let's see what the next moves are.
Great to see you, Manu. Thank you very much.
RAJU: Thank you.
BOLDUAN: Joining me right now is Democratic Congressman Ro Khanna, from California. He sits on the House Oversight Committee, one of the key committees leading the impeachment investigation.
Congressman, thank you for coming in.
REP. RO KHANNA (D-CA): Thank you, Kate, for having me.
BOLDUAN: You heard Manu and he always has the best reporting. Right now, there's an expectation that the Ukraine ambassador, former Ukraine ambassador, will be appearing to speak before the committee. Do you expect that to happen tomorrow?
KHANNA: I'm hopeful she will come. I think she wants to testify. I hope the secretary of state won't block her from testifying. The American people can learn from her, why was Giuliani involved, her recommendations on a relationship with Ukraine overruled by the president or the administration. She can shed a lot of light on what happened.
BOLDUAN: You're hopeful and that is great. Do you really think it's going to happen?
KHANNA: Again, it should happen. I can't predict what this administration is going to do. They're capable of stonewalling at any moment.
What I will say is I hope with Trey Gowdy -- their new lawyer there. Trey Gowdy used to be on the Oversight Committee in Congress. He has advocated for transparency in the past and has said Congress is owed documents and witnesses, no administration should stonewall that. Hopefully, he'll be able to provide that advice.
And I think it's in the administration's interests to level with Congress and get the facts out there.
BOLDUAN: Congressman, just this morning, two associates of Rudy Giuliani have been arrested to for campaign finance violations. These two men have been on the radar, as Manu is reporting, of the House's impeachment investigation. Now they are going to be before a federal judge in Virginia today. What does that mean for you guys?
KHANNA: It's very concerning. Usually what happens when you have people arrested, prosecutors will tell you that they often talk. They want to get some leniency on their sentencing. So it will be interesting what they have to share and what Giuliani's involvement in all of this was.
BOLDUAN: The White House says that it is not going to cooperate with any requests essentially unless and until the House holds this full House vote to formally launch impeachment proceedings. One of your Democrats colleagues, John Garamendi, said yesterday that he supports holding this vote because he believes that it will strengthen your hand. Why don't you agree?
KHANNA: Because the White House has stonewalled for the past three years. And anyone who thinks that if we do this that suddenly they're going to cooperate, I think that is just naive.
The speaker is tough and we are exercising all of our rights under the House that we have. And you need to be tough to stand up to this administration. They've been totally uncooperative.
BOLDUAN: Why not call their bluff? Why not call the president's bluff?
KHANNA: Because all that's going to do is buy the president time. There will be a debate, there will be a vote. They are looking to delay this.
The speaker is committed to having a vote in the House. There will be a vote once the Judiciary Committee does their work and every member of Congress will be on record.
But the speaker is not going to voluntarily cede House rights to an administration that has been totally uncooperative.
BOLDUAN: Congressman, what do you do, then? You issue subpoenas. Some of the reporting is that there's no plan to go to court because, again, that will take a lot of time to enforce subpoenas. What are you going to do?
What if they stonewall, they don't answer, they don't respond to issued subpoenas, everybody stares at each other? What do you do?
KHANNA: Kate, it would be a difficult situation if the facts were more complicated. Here you have the president of the United States having gone on national television actually bragging out asking Ukraine to interfere in our elections, asking China to interfere in our elections.
Everyone in this country knows what happened, that he was asking for a favor from Ukraine to get political dirt on Joe Biden. So I think let's move ahead. Let the Judiciary Committee do their
work. And let's have a vote in the House. And the vote can be simple: Do you think that is what our founders intended for American democracy or do you think it's not? And let's put everyone on the record. I really don't think this is some complicated case.
BOLDUAN: You are the national co-chair of Bernie Sanders campaign for 2020. He's trying to push back on something that he clearly laid out to reporters, the way he put it was it was, he was going to change the nature of his campaign, scaling back, if you will, following his heart attack. Are you concerned about his ability to continue at top speed after the heart attack?
KHANNA: I'm not. I just spoke with him yesterday. We had a good call with the other co-chairs. He is as committed as ever to fighting the corruption in our system, to standing up for working Americans. He is going to be doing rallies.
He may now have a schedule more like some of the other leading candidates. I mean, a lot of fuss before this for saying, you don't have to get up at 7:00 in the morning and campaign until 10:00 at night and do three or four events necessary a day. So I think it's healthy for him to have more balance.
But I am 100 percent convinced that he is going to continue with energy and he's in it to win.
BOLDUAN: Congressman, thanks for coming in. I appreciate your time.
KHANNA: Thank you, Kate.
BOLDUAN: Coming up, a group of prominent conservatives, including the husband of Kellyanne Conway, are sounding off on President Trump, calling on lawmakers to move fast with the impeachment investigation. One of the attorneys behind this effort joins me, next.