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CNN NEWSROOM

Trump Is Calling McConnell as Often as Three Times A Day; Fox News Poll: 51 Percent Support Impeaching and Removing Trump; Trump Warns McConnell about Disloyal Republicans; Pence And Other Republicans Dodge Questions on Trump's Ukraine Call; Trump Defends Abandoning Kurds as Turkey Pounds Syria; Democratic Candidates Unveil LGBTQ Plans Ahead of CNN Town Hall; Nearly 800,000 Remain in the Dark in California as PG&E Tries to Prevent Wildfires. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired October 10, 2019 - 15:30   ET

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


[15:30:00]

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: President Trump leaves the White House in less than an hour for a campaign rally in Minnesota as two scandals unfold that are linked to his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani as we've just been discussing. And there are signs that President Trump is scrambling behind the scenes to keep Republicans on his side. A source tells CNN that the President has called Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell as often as three time a day reportedly telling him that he plans to amplify issue attacks on any Republican who criticizes him. Leader McConnell's office denies those conversations are actually that frequent.

In addition to that the "Washington Post" today is reporting that the White House is so concerned about Republicans turning on the President, that the Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney is planning these private dinners and meetings with lawmakers to express appreciation for their support. So, John Kasich is a former Republican Governor of Ohio, he's a CNN senior political commentator, Governor, a pleasure as always.

JOHN KASICH, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Thank you.

BALDWIN: So this whole charm offensive, we can call it, from the White House towards members of his own party. I know he's showing such bravado and I don't know, strength, I guess outwardly on Twitter towards this whole impeachment inquiry. But the fact that he reportedly is doing that, what does that tell you about his mindset right now?

KASICH: Well, he's obviously worked up. You wouldn't be normal if you weren't worked up in that job. And I think, you know, having been in the House for 18 years and gone through impeachment and many different things, declaring war and things like that, the members are whispering to one another in the hallways in their hideaways, all of these Senators get hideaways, these special little rooms where they go. I don't know if you knew about that.

BALDWIN: Yes. KASICH: Their little hideaway. So they probably get together and they kind of whisper to one another, what you think is going on. And they're talking about what's happening at home. What are people saying at home about this whole thing?

BALDWIN: Well, let's talk about what people are saying at home. A new Fox News poll out today, 51 percent of Americans want Trump impeached and removed from office. The President responded to that, and I quote from a tweet, from the day I announced I was running for President I have never had a good Fox News poll. Whoever their pollster is, they suck, quoting the President. Of course, we found at least five examples --

KASICH: That's what I used to say about my golf game.

BALDWIN: Well, this is the President of the United States talking about Fox News polls which by the way we found like five examples when he has touted the Fox News polls when they're good news for him. What do you think, just speaking of constituents and you know fellow Republicans? What are they thinking when they're saying these numbers rising on more and more Americans in favor of the impeachment inquiry? And --

KASICH: Impeachment. Yes. I think the inquiry is -- what I suspect is people have not followed all the details of all this but they know there's something wrong. And when a President of the United States calls a President of another country, that's kind of getting through, and he's trying to get some dirt dug up on his opponent. People, they kind of get that so they say we need to check this out. Because it's foreign policy, too. And so I think they're saying, yes, we better get into this. In terms how they feel about impeachment.

BALDWIN: No, but what about Republicans listening to these folks?

KASICH: Well --

BALDWIN: As the numbers are going up.

KASICH: As the numbers grow, it will be very interesting if they have a vote on impeachment inquiry inside the House. It will be interesting to see how many Republicans say that's right, and they should. You know, if I were a member of House, I would say absolutely they should do that. I mean that we should get to the bottom of this. This is a serious, serious matter. I mean what Trump did was just absolutely irresponsible and dangerous. I think in terms of the precedence for others and what he tried to do is just terrible.

BALDWIN: But you're not worried about losing your seat. You're in a different position to be able to say that.

KASICH: Well, you know what, and I think that's fair. But you know when I expanded Medicaid, which everybody said you're for Obama and Obamacare, I ran for re-election in Ohio. I've never been in a position where I shied away. And I'll tell you why. Because I think as a member of Congress you need to be a leader, you don't be a follower. And when you're a leader and you have a strong voice. You'll convince most people. People will go, you know, yes, he knows what he's doing and that's the way I operated all my whole career.

BALDWIN: Which is exactly what Senator Mitt Romney has done, and the President has called him a pompous ass.

KASICH: Yes. Well, he's good at name calling, that I'll give him.

BALDWIN: How about the Vice President avoiding answering directly when he is specifically asked about the President's Ukraine call and whether it

was appropriate.

KASICH: If he's not toadying up, they'll probably figure out a way to get rid of him. I mean --

[15:35:00]

BALDWIN: Let me get to -- I want just people to watch this exchange, right, instead of focusing on the facts and what we know. This was Mike Pence in Iowa yesterday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I never discussed the issue of -- of -- the issue of the Bidens with President Zelensky.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- you were aware of it for the administration.

PENCE: What I can tell you is that all of our discussions internally, I mean the President and our team and our contacts, in my office with Ukraine were entirely focused on the broader issues of lack of European support and corruption.

BALDWIN: But you're aware of the interest --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KASICH: Well, he doesn't want to say this was wrong, and he -- and he doesn't want to -- he didn't want to say anything, really. He's just trying to get past this, which, you know, that's the problem with being Vice President for somebody like Donald Trump. I mean, you're operating in, it's like walking on ice and you don't know if the ice is going to crack and you're going to end up in the water. I mean, it's -- when people came to me and said, you know, would you do something with him? I said absolutely not, because I felt from the beginning, Brooke, that this was not going to be a pretty picture of the presidency. Which is why I didn't endorse him, support him, go to the convention or any of those other things.

BALDWIN: Yes. And just last quick question, because you have a book coming out.

KASICH: Yes. It's coming out. I'll be on Jake to preview it, but it is not about politics. It's about how of us can live a life a little bigger than ourselves. And the fact is, is that we matter, we the people. And I'd love for people to see it, young, middle and our seniors to see how they can be impactful and live a life bigger than themselves.

BALDWIN: Governor John Kasich --

KASICH: Love to be with you, Brooke. You're the best. Thanks.

BALDWIN: Thank you.

Coming up next, fears are growing that thousands of ISIS fighters could escape prisons in Syria as Turkey intensifies its offensive. President Trump dismissing that by saying they would like to escape to Europe. We'll talk live to an Air Force colonel about the potential long-term impacts of all of this.

[15:40:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: Criticism is ramping up on President Trump's decision to pull U.S. troops from the Syrian border as tens of thousands of Kurdish civilians are desperately fleeing Turkey's military onslaught. Even his former National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster says Trump doesn't have a full understanding what's at stake. Take, for example, the President's extraordinary statement about the Kurds relationship with the United States.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Now, the Kurds are fighting for their land, just so you understand. They're fighting for their land, and as somebody wrote in a very, very powerful article today. They didn't help us in the Second World War. They didn't help us with Normandy as an example. They mentioned names of different battles. But they're there to help us with their land and that's a different thing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: Colonel Cedric Layton is a former member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and a CNN military analyst, and Colonel, a pleasure to have you on. Welcome, sir. Before we talk about what President Trump said last night, there was a tweet that caught my eye this morning from one of our standing contributors, Wajahat Ali. And I just wanted to read it for you. He said, here are the countries that did not fight with the U.S. at Normandy whose leaders Trump nonetheless helps or praises, Saudi Arabia, Russia, North Korea, Israel, Turkey, Philippines, Egypt, Hungary. But he decides to single out the Kurds.

Colonel, he has a point, you know, when you heard the President say that yesterday what were you thinking?

COL. CEDRIC LAYTON, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Well, Brooke, one of the biggest things here is the fact that the Kurds never had a country. They haven't had a country ever since really the dawn of time, and after World War I when they started carving out places, the Kurds were the ones that were left without a place to call their own. They were part of Turkey for the most part during World War II. Turkey was a neutral country.

There's no way they could have supported us in World War II even if they'd wanted to and that's just part of the, I think, misinformation we're dealing with here with the President. He has no historical context. He doesn't understand that what the Kurds have done for us now in the current fight, the fight against terror, is what's most important and, in that fight, they've really sacrificed way beyond we could have asked anybody else to do, actually.

BALDWIN: What's the long-term impact of abandoning the Kurds?

LAYTON: It's really significant. Because we have a group of people here, various groups such as the YPG and you know all the different parts of the Syrian Democratic Forces who are the immediate sufferers in this particular case. But what we really are dealing with here is the lack of trust. Once we do something like this with one ally, every single ally is going to turn around, Brooke, and is going to say, we can't trust the Americans. And that goes not only with a strategic level but also for the tactical level.

And I remember when I was working military to military relationships in all parts of the world, the tactical trust is the trust that matters when it comes to these kinds of things. And when you can't have those one-on-one relationships with people, you're not going to be successful at the very local level that you need to be successful at in order to do this.

BALDWIN: And to your point about trust and also just the U.S.'s deep relationship with the Kurds in fighting ISIS. You know I've read quotes from some military reporters talking to Special Forces troops. Speaking about their relationship with the Kurds and saying, as a result of this they feel ashamed. What are you hearing from your colleagues in the military?

[15:45:00]

LAYTON: I'm hearing the same thing, Brooke. They're feeling ashamed. They're feeling really, in essence, they're hurt by this. Because what they've been doing is working the very important issues that you work when you're one on one with a foreign counterpart. And when that foreign counterpart sees that you are not being supported by your leadership team, they're not going to trust you. They might trust you as a person but know whatever you say can't be backed up by the leaders that you have and that's a really serious problem, and one that's going to affect us for many generations to come.

BALDWIN: Colonel Layton, thank you. Appreciate it as always, your expertise.

LAYTON: You bet, Brooke. You bet.

BALDWIN: Thank you.

We are just a few hours away from a history making night here at CNN. Nine Democratic Presidential candidates will take part in a special series of town halls focusing on LGBTQ issues. A live look at what's ahead.

Plus we are staying on the breaking news today. The "Wall Street Journal" reporting that Rudy Giuliani had lunch with two men who were arrested just hours later for campaign finance violations. Prosecutors say they were stopped at the airport with one-way tickets out of the country.

[15:50:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: Where do the Democratic presidential candidates stand on LGBTQ issues? In just a couple of hours they will share their thoughts right here on CNN in a history-making Presidential town hall. It will be the first time a major cable news network will air a forum devoted to issues within the LGBTQ community.

And CNN's Kyung Lah is there in Los Angeles where those nine candidates will take the stage in a couple of hours. I know some of them are already giving us a bit of a preview of their plans. Tell me what you know.

KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: What they're doing ahead of this town hall, this historic town hall, Brooke, is detailing some of their proposals. And we're hearing from three of these Presidential candidates. There are nine who are going to be speaking. But three chose this morning to unveil a few more specifics about where they stand when comes to the community and how they would further rights and access for to health care for the LGBTQ plus community.

Now Senator Kamala Harris before arriving here at the town hall, ahead of this town hall, she did stop at the Abbey in West Hollywood in Los Angeles. It is a bar and gathering place. She mingled with members of the LGBTQ plus community, stopping to take pictures. And then this morning rolled out a detailed plan on what she would do.

Now some highlights that I noted here is that she would establish a chief advocate for LGBTQ plus affairs in the White House. What that would essentially do is that she would expand the decision-making powers to include members of the community in her decision-making process in the White House. She also talks about passing the Equality Act and reversing some of the Trump administration rollbacks, namely the ban on transgender service members.

Moving on to Elizabeth Warren, she also says that she would pass the Equality Act, reverse the Trump administration's actions like transgender service members, the ban on them. And also widen access to HIV prevention drugs.

And then Pete Buttigieg, also released his plan, beyond his very compelling story as the first openly gay married man to run for President. He mirrors much of the Democratic platforms. Passing the Equality Act, expanding access to medical care when it comes to gay and lesbian community members, and also trying to ban gay conversion therapy. So all of this, Brooke, is trying to bring these issues to the forefront that we're going to hear a lot of specifics from each of these nine candidates when they take questions from CNN moderators as well as people who are sitting in the audience -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: Love that we're doing this, Kyung, thank you very much. And again, just a heads up to all of you. This all begins 7:30 Eastern this evening

only here on CNN on just all of the most important issues in the LGBTQ community.

Also, let me throw this at you, Senator Bernie Sanders will not be participating in the town hall tonight. He is recovering, as you know, from a heart attack. But he will be talking to CNN's chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, on "THE SITUATION ROOM," and you can catch that at 6:00 Eastern.

Minutes from now, President Trump leaves the White House for a campaign rally in Minnesota. Multiple scandals are erupting, involving his personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani. So we'll be watching to see if he answers any questions on that. And we'll bring that to you live. We'll be right back.

[15:55:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: The lights are starting to come back on in California. Nearly 800,000 customers were left in the dark all in an effort to prevent wildfires. The state's largest utility company says it warned customers months ago that this major inconvenience would be happening.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm angry at PG&E. And it's just a major inconvenience that's going to cost companies billions of dollars. And they all could have been avoided.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think whatever they need to do, to keep us safe and give us power, I'm sure they're thinking of our best interests, so I'm confident that there's a reason for it.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BALDWIN: We should keep in mind that some of the deadliest fires in California have been blamed on downed power lines. Last year's Campfire which was started by electrical lines owned by PG&E killed 85 people.

That will do it for me today, I'm Brooke Baldwin. Thanks for being with me. We'll see you back here tomorrow. In the meantime "THE LEAD" with Jake Tapper starts right now.

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