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Men Tied to Giuliani Arrested; Democratic Candidates on LGBTQ Issues; Astros Advance to ALCS; Bill Taylor Asked to Testify; Conservative Media Turning on Trump. Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired October 11, 2019 - 06:30   ET




JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: A bizarre, new twist this morning in the impeachment investigation. The two associates of Rudy Giuliani, the ones who tried to dig up dirt, foreign ,dirt on Joe Biden, the ones who were grabbed by authorities after they dined with Giuliani, but before they could leave the country, they were headed to Vienna. Guess who else was headed to Vienna at nearly the same time, one Rudy Giuliani. That's according to an interview he gave with "The Atlantic's" Elaina Plott.

Elaina was going to be with us this morning. She lost her voice. She has a remarkable account of her last few days talking to Giuliani in "The Atlantic." I recommend everyone read it.

Joining us now to talk about all of it, CNN's senior political analyst John Avlon, who worked for Rudy Giuliani for some time.

Let me just read part of what Elaina writes here.


BERMAN: She was going to interview Giuliani this week. He said he couldn't do it because he was going to Vienna, it turns out, where these two guys were headed. Elaina writes, when I called at 3:00 p.m. to ask about his Vienna trip, a woman claiming to be his communications director answered the phone. I've called him more than a hundred times, Elaina says, over the past year, and this is the first time that has ever happened. She said she'd have to get back to me. As we spoke, I could hear a voice that resembled Giuliani shouting a-hole in the background. Sorry, the woman told me, he was talking to the TV.


BERMAN: Let's put up the picture just so we can see. Let's show -- just so we can see that Rudy Giuliani has known these guys for a while. We don't know when this picture is from, but he's been paling around with them, not in a small way, in a big way --

AVLON: Yes. BERMAN: For a couple of years. And they were the ones that he has been using in the Ukraine to try to dig up dirt on Biden.

AVLON: That's right. And I think one of the open questions is who's been using who. But Rudy has fallen in with this crew for the last several years. Elaina's story is a great one. The question of why is everybody going to Vienna and him denying it has anything to do with the fact his two most current, prominent clients are there seems stretching the limits of credulity.

But there's a tragic opera quality to all of this, as is often happens with Rudy. These two guys have insinuated themselves into his life and have apparently been prime drivers of this Ukrainian expedition, which the president -- which Trump has bought into apparently. The president of the United States has bought into. Trump has -- Rudy has bought into. And it's unclear, though, whose bidding they are doing.

BERMAN: Well, they -- they are doing Giuliani's bidding, we know that much. Giuliani wants them to be in Ukraine digging up dirt on Joe Biden. He has been working with them. I think to absolve him of the responsibility on this. I mean, not the campaign finance violations.

AVLON: Correct.

BERMAN: He's not named in this indictment.

AVLON: Correct.

BERMAN: But in terms of their work in Ukraine, he wanted Yovanovitch out as the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine. They did too. They're working together on it.

AVLON: I think -- that's, I think, the key point. And it appears, you know, there were a lot of people who were -- had a financial or political incentive to get Yovanovitch out. And that's one of the reasons why that is going to be such a key thing to resolve.

BERMAN: And she may be testifying in a few hours --

AVLON: Potentially.

BERMAN: If the president doesn't try to block her.


One thing we know from reporting is that Giuliani wasn't happy with how she was responding to his pressure to launch these investigations.

AVLON: Correct.

BERMAN: So, Elaina Plott, again, it's a -- it's a really fascinating article. It turns out that one of the times she was interviewing Rudy Giuliani, they were there.


BERMAN: These guys were there. And she checked her tapes. Let me just read part of this as she describes them.

Sipping back-to-back glasses of Macallan, double, one large ice cube, and smoking a Nicaraguan cigar. Giuliani told me he'd known Parnas for two years. Parnas laughed and said he'd grown up idolizing Giuliani. They bantered about how the Mueller probe would likely amount to nothing.

AVLON: Yes, hanging out at an infamous cigar bar in Washington, D.C., as Rudy is one to do. These two guys using flattery and have really used flattery to try to get themselves as close as they can to Trump's inner circle. Rudy apparently has embraced them entirely, trying to use them as operatives to dig up this dirt. And, again, I think the potential that Rudy has being duped in being -- is being used as well.

BERMAN: Well, but Rudy -- look, America's mayor getting duped is a high bar for me.

AVLON: I -- well, I appreciate that -- that -- that faith in him. I worked for Rudy Giuliani for many years. I have the utmost respect for what he did.

There is a terrible irony that Rudy Giuliani began his career combatting corruption, combatting the mafia, very successfully, and he seems to have been pulled in by a conspiracy theory involving some potentially corrupt people, and certainly corrupt intent.

BERMAN: I guess the question is, was he pulled in or has he been fomenting the conspiracy theory and an active instigator in all of this?

AVLON: I -- look, I think, you know, instigator, you know, I think he has seriously bought into this. I think reporters who have dealt with him in recent years know that he has been driving this particular conspiracy theory, which seems to have reached the president's ear.

BERMAN: No (ph).

AVLON: I think the other question, though, is, what of their interests in the Ukraine and what role do they have and whose bidding may they be doing that Rudy may or may not be aware of?

BERMAN: Absolutely. They wanted the ambassador out. She's out.

All right, John Avlon, thanks for being with us.



AVLON: Follow the money.

CAMEROTA: You can quote me on that.

All right, meanwhile, protesters interrupted Mayor Pete Buttigieg on live TV last night. How the 2020 candidate responded to this, next.



CAMEROTA: Nine Democratic presidential candidates answering questions on issues affecting the LGBTQ community at CNN's town halls last night. Protesters interrupting this historic event to draw attention, to highlight a pressing issue.

CNN's Kyung Lah explains.



KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The first presidential candidate to identify publically as gay before a historic LGBTQ town hall was paused by protesters highlighting transgender members of their community who have been murdered.

MAYOR PETE BUTTIGIEG (D-IN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I do want to acknowledge what these demonstrators we're speaking about, which is the epidemic of violence against black transwomen in this country right now. And I believe or would like to believe that everybody here is committed to ending that epidemic, and that does include lifting up its visibility and speaking to it.

LAH: Unscripted moments forcing candidate response.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But let me tell you something, black transwomen are being killed in this country. And, CNN, you have erased black trans women for the last time. Let me tell you something, black transwomen are dying. Our lives matter!

BETO O'ROURKE (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: She grabbed the mic to stand up for herself and other transwomen of color and trans men of color that she talked about as well. That's what democracy looks like in America.

SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Make sure that we create safe communities in which they can exist.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How do we get those men to stop killing us? How do we get these men to stop killing transwomen of color? We are hunted --

HARRIS: I know. I know.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Systematically hunted. How do we do that?

HARRIS: There needs to be a safe place for the members of our transgender community to go when they have been exposed to that kind of harm. And we know there's not always a safe place.

LAH: Kamala Harris highlighted how, as a prosecutor, she fought and helped eliminate an anti-gay law. And Joe Biden pledged gay rights would impact international relations in his administration. COOPER: So a country like Saudi Arabia --

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Saudi Arabia. Same thing. By the way, they have very little social redeeming value. No, I -- and I've been blunt about it. I've been very, very blunt about it. Very blunt about it. I know they are supposedly our ally and all the rest. And I'm not saying -- look, there are certain things that we cannot tolerate.

LAH: Cory Booker equated gay rights with all civil rights.

SEN. CORY BOOKER (D-NJ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We are not free when we swear an oath, all of us swear an oath it will be a nation of liberty and justice for all. Those are aspirational words right now until every LGBTQ American has equal rights. And I will get the Equality Act passed and into law in our country.

LAH: A night of serious issues, but not without some levity.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A supporter approaches you and says, senator, I'm old fashioned and my faith teaches me that marriage is between one man and one woman. What is your response?

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, I'm going to assume it's a guy who said that. And I'm going to say to them, just marry one woman. I'm cool with that. Assuming you can find one.

LAH (on camera): There's very little daylight between these candidates when it comes to issues affecting the LGBTQ community, like passing the Equality Act, banning gay conversion therapy, expanding HIV care. This evening, a testament to the growing power of the LGBTQ vote in the 2020 election.

Kyung Lah, CNN, Los Angeles.


CAMEROTA: Oh, snap, Elizabeth Warren.

BERMAN: Yes, I know, it was a really interesting night there.

So the Houston Astros punched their ticket to the American League championship series for the third straight season.


Carolyn Manno has more in the "Bleacher Report."

Good morning.


And this is what baseball fans have been waiting for all season long. The Astros and Yankees with a spot in the World Series online standing in the way, of course, the team with the smallest payroll in the big leagues, the Tampa Bay Rays. The crowd at Minute Maid Park in Houston whipped up into a complete frenzy for the winner take all game five and the Astros got off to a quick start with four straight hits to begin the game. Houston built up a 4-0 cushion in the first inning.

And then their starter, Garrett Cole, did the rest. Another playoff masterpiece. He threw eight innings, giving up only one run on two hits while striking out ten. Houston sends the Rays home for the winter with the 6-1 victory to clinch the series.

Next up, the heavyweight showdown with the Yankees. These teams combined for 210 wins and close to 600 home runs in the regular season. So get your popcorn ready for this one. Game one is tomorrow night in Houston.

The NLCS gets started tonight on our sister channel, TBS. The Cardinals host the Nationals just after 8:00 Eastern as well.

Meantime, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady continues his assault on the record books. It took the 42-year-old one throw against the Giants to pass future Hall of Famer Peyton Manning for the second most career passing yards in NFL history. In a less than perfect performance on Thursday night, Brady did have 334 yards passing, zero touchdown passes. Even more shockingly, he ran for two scores. New England now a perfect 6-0, two wins clear of everyone else in the NFL.

John, that is the glass half full version of Patriots sports for you this morning after a rough Thursday night game.

BERMAN: They're 6-0. They're 6-0.

MANNO: An ugly win is a win. An ugly win is a win.

BERMAN: And Tom -- that's the only time ugly has ever been used in the same paragraph as Tom Brady. Let's just say that right there.

MANNO: I digress.

BERMAN: Great to have you here this morning.

CAMEROTA: This is dicey territory you're on. Thank you very much.

MANNO: Noted.

CAMEROTA: So President Trump taking aim with his most personal attacks yet on the Biden family. We discuss.



CAMEROTA: House Democrats want the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine to testify as part of the Trump impeachment inquiry. Longtime diplomat Bill Taylor was thrust into the public eye last week when his text messages were released, including that one where he called withholding military aid to Ukraine in exchange for political dirt for President Trump, quote, crazy.

CNN's Kylie Atwood is live in Washington with more.

What's the latest, Kylie.

KYLIE ATWOOD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY REPORTER: Yes, so, Alisyn, Bill Taylor is the latest person that House Democrats really want to hear from as part of this impeachment inquiry related to Ukraine. And that is because he is the current U.S. ambassador to Ukraine. He took over that position earlier this year when Ambassador Yovanovitch was released from the position early. She was expected not to leave and she was ousted early.

He took over and he has been the person on the ground there. So he has really seen what has happened over the past few months. And we know that he has some hesitations about what the Trump administration was doing and he memorialized those hesitations via text. He said to another ambassador at one point that he had fears about tying political assistance to President Trump to the security assistance, about $400 million in security assistance that the U.S. had put on hold for Ukraine.

I want to read you that text message exchange because it's really at the heart here.

Bill Taylor said, quote, as I said on the phone, I think it's crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign. And about five hours later, Ambassador Gordon Sondland, he is the U.S. ambassador to the EU, replied saying, the president has been crystal clear. There's no quid pro quos of any kind. I suggest we stop the back and forth by text.

And I also think it's important here to note that we have spoken with a number of folks who are former colleagues of Ambassador Bill Taylor. He is widely respected in the diplomatic community. He came out of retirement to assume this post. And they say that he is basically going to be put in sort of a quandary here because he wants to do Ukraine policy. He didn't take this job so that he could get enmeshed in the politics here.

So it's going to be interesting to see how this develops and how he decides to work with the House Democrats versus working with the State Department, who so far has put the quash on anyone from the State Department being allowed to talk to them as part of this impeachment inquiry.

CAMEROTA: Yes, that will be very interesting, Kylie. Thank you very much for the update on that.

Meanwhile, as you know, President Trump has long had this symbiotic relationship with right wing media. So why is he getting frustrated with them now and speaking out against some of his old allies?

Joining us now to discuss is CNN political commentator Michael Smerconish.

So, Michael, let's talk about some -- how the president seems to be quite frustrated with some people in right wing media. Let's start with Matt Drudge.

So "The Drudge Report," as people know, aggregates different articles. And you can tell Matt Drudge's position by those he chooses to highlight and those he chooses to use as headlines.

And so here is Oliver Darcy of CNN's latest reporting. Matt Drudge is reacting to changing circumstances, a person close to the media mogul who said Drudge has grown exasperated with Trump told CNN business. Not only is Drudge's website aggressively covering the impeachment news, it is doing so by featuring commentary from some of the president's fiercest critics or the harshest criticism of him.

That's significant, Michael.

MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It is significant because the holy trinity of a firewall for the president is Drudge, Fox News, and a.m. talk radio. And there are cracks in two of the three, one being Drudge, the other being Fox News. As you correctly point out, he aggregates. He doesn't provide original content. But through the selections that he makes, Alisyn, you get a perspective. You get a point of view.

And don't lose sight of the fact that "The Drudge Report" came on the scene the last time the country went through this. In the midst of the 1990s, Matt Drudge broke a lot of stories. I remember the Lisa Myers NBC story in particular about the Clinton impeachment.

So he holds great sway. He puts out, though those links that he aggregates, a message of what's going on in the world, in the country, on any particular day. And the president is no doubt upset with the fact that Drudge has not been a strong ally in his selection of stories recently.

BERMAN: It's also interesting he rails against the Fox News polls. Any poll that doesn't show him winning. And the Fox News polls have been brutal on the president lately. He doesn't like.

And then Maggie Haberman, who's going to be on in a little bit, reports that the attorney general of the United States, William Barr, just met with Rupert Murdoch.

CAMEROTA: Wonder what that was about?

BERMAN: Yes, that's interesting, Michael.

SMERCONISH: It is interesting. And, you know, I can't help but wonder if there's a generational divide within Fox News, meaning between Murdoch and the Murdoch children. Maybe they don't see the world the same way that the father does. Who knows how long Fox will continue to present the sort of stories, at least in primetime, that it does.


I found it interesting that the president began his day yesterday by blasting Fox News for the poll that John just referenced. But, of course, in his rally last night, he singled out a number of the hosts whose opinions he appreciates and relies on for support.

CAMEROTA: Yes, but most of those hosts are not journalists. So the ones that the president likes, the Sean Hannitys of the world, they're -- they are the, you know, all in commentators. They're not the journalists. And when the journalists at Fox News daine to say anything against the president, he, you know, criticizes them, insults them on Twitter, goes after them, has the people at his rallies come over and be nasty to them. I mean it's -- it's quite clear who he likes and who he doesn't like.

There was a moment on "Fox and Friends," which is reportedly his -- well, one of his favorite morning shows.

BERMAN: In addition to NEW DAY.

Good morning, Mr. President.

CAMEROTA: I mean, of course.

Good morning.

Obviously just one of his favorites.

So the president did not like that Brian Kilmeade on "Fox and Friends" doesn't like the Syria policy. So here was the moment from "Fox and Friends" that the president -- aroused his ire.


BRIAN KILMEADE, HOST, "FOX AND FRIENDS": A disastrous series of events. I hope the president will rethink this.

STEVE DOOCY, HOST, "FOX AND FRIENDS": I think the president's doing exactly what he wants to because he's made, from the get go, very clear, campaign promise --

KILMEADE: To release ISIS fighters?

DOOCY: Campaign promise to end and, you know, wars in other countries. Absolutely.

AINSLEY EARHARDT, HOST, "FOX AND FRIENDS": To bring our troops home.

KILMEADE: And abandon our allies? That's a campaign promise?


CAMEROTA: OK, the president does not like that. He says, what's happened to Fox? I mean he tweeted out what -- what are they doing to us? What's happening to Fox because, again, Brian dained to have an opinion that was separate from the president's.

SMERCONISH: In the span of the last three decades, these oracles, Drudge, a.m. talk radio, Fox News, have replaced the conventional Republican leadership. These outlets hold tremendous sway over primary voters in Republican primaries. And that's why it's very important to pay attention to what signals are coming out of them because we're looking at the Congress. You know, we're looking at the Senate in particular to see whether any Republican senators are going to abandon ship on this impeachment fight. And these are signs that maybe the audience that they pay attention to the most is being told all is not well. That's why it's significant.

BERMAN: Michael Smerconish, a pleasure having you on with us this morning.

SMERCONISH: Thanks, guys.

BERMAN: Everyone needs to watch your show tomorrow morning as well.

Great to have you here.

So, late night comics, what were they talking about?

CAMEROTA: I don't know. What were they?

BERMAN: They were -- they were talking about the impeachment investigation and the president's claims that he doesn't know Rudy Giuliani's indicted associates.

CAMEROTA: I'm sorry, were you setting me up for a line?

BERMAN: Here are your "Late Night Laughs."



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But you were -- you were aware of the interest in the Bidens being investigated --

PENCE: I was --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And that being tied to Ukraine being held up?

PENCE: What I -- well, that's your question. Let me be very clear.

TREVOR NOAH, HOST, "THE DAILY SHOW WITH TREVOR NOAH": (INAUDIBLE). Oh, Mike Pence avoided that question like it was a woman with her ankles showing. That was extreme.

JAMES CORDEN, HOST, "THE LATE LATE SHOW WITH JAMES CORDEN": It seems like a bad development for the president, but Trump actually claims that this is good news. He was like, see, I told you I never pressured Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden. I pressured Rudy Giuliani to pressure these guys to pressure Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden. I'm fine.

JIMMY KIMMEL, HOST, "JIMMY KIMMEL LIVE": Trump says he doesn't know these guys, but there he is with Igor, looking like they just won best RV dealership in Gary, Indiana. And here's Lev and Igor having dinner with none other than DJ TJ (ph). Another round of drinks and four more bottles of cologne, please. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: Well, you were the one that said it smelled dirty.

CAMEROTA: It's a good thing this isn't smell-o-vision.

OK, that was great.

OK, meanwhile -- why are you making me laugh?

BERMAN: I'm not trying.

CAMEROTA: We have a lot of serious news.

BERMAN: There are raging wildfires in the Los Angeles area. We're getting breaking updates from the ground there.

NEW DAY continues right now.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

CAMEROTA: We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is NEW DAY.

And we do begin with breaking news because there have been wildfires that have erupted overnight across southern California. You can see them on your screen there. Santa Ana winds have gusted more than 60 miles per hour and they are fanning the flames and sparking, of course, more fires.

So there are now mandatory evacuations underway in the Los Angeles area. Thousands of residents have been ordered to leave as of this hour because of these ferocious winds that are fueling these fires. You're looking at a live shot on your screen right now from one of the affiliates there. Many of those evacuees were asleep, of course, when these fires ignited overnight.


BERMAN: So dozens of homes have already been destroyed, burned through.