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Buttigieg and Klobuchar Lead Charge Against Elizabeth Warren; Pompeo Aide to Testify in Impeachment Inquiry; Ukraine Backstory of Impeachment; Endorsements for Sanders. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired October 16, 2019 - 08:30   ET

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


[08:30:00]

BIANNA GOLODRYGA, CNN SENIOR GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: And that's why you saw so much of the focus going after her, going after her on specifics, going after her on health care, going after her on a number of policies, whether it was from Amy Klobuchar. We knew that Pete Buttigieg would be approaching her with specifics on health care, which he fundamentally disagreed with her on and he now believes, as he has been saying, that health care for all who want it is the best process going forward and allowing people who want to keep their private insurance to be able to do so.

And as he said on this show, as I just tweeted, because it really did stand out, when he said, listen, she offered more specifics on how many selfies she took than she offered on health care. This is the pressure that she's going to be facing. I think compared to other frontrunners, like Joe Biden early on in his first debate, she fared OK. She managed to pull through. But I think she's going to have a lot more questions to answer and it's going to be more of a fundamental issue as to where this party is going.

DAVID GREGORY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, I mean I totally agree with that, but I also don't think people are going to be marching in the streets, you know, with signs that say how she's going to pay for it. You know, I mean, I don't think that's going to be the most compelling issue.

What it -- what it -- I think there's old math and new math. The old math is, who can beat Donald Trump. Oh, and it's got to be Biden, name recognition, all that. The new math is, hey, there's something really going on in the liberal end of the Democratic Party that's captured by Warren and Sanders. More by Warren than Sanders. And she's showing that on the debate stage. And it's causing friction. But I think that ideological divide within the party is -- is problematic for them at a time when they're otherwise united against (INAUDIBLE) --

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: I think there's something a little bit more going on in the Medicare for all discussion there, the way that Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar were using it than just Medicare for all, because they were saying she wasn't being straight. They were saying she wasn't being honest. So they're raising other issues about Elizabeth Warren and trying to throw in doubt there. And I think both Klobuchar and Pete Buttigieg are doing it for Iowa. GOLODRYGA: Look, and she came into this race saying, look, I've got

authenticity. These are issues and values that I've had for many, many years, not just this past year. And also thinking big. That's her mantra, right? Why not think big if you're going to run for president of the United States? I've thought big on numerous issues in the past, especially after the financial crisis, with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. People told me I couldn't do it. I did it.

You heard from Klobuchar saying, you know what, just because you're the one that thinks big doesn't mean that others don't have big ideas that are of value as well.

GREGORY: And that comes through so strongly when she's up there and so clearly. So, I agree with you, there's -- they're trying to raise a credibility issue. But her response is pretty compelling. And it's poetic. It's, you know what, I am -- I am tired of small ball. I'm tired of -- let's not talk about, you know, Donald Trump's twitter account. I'm tired of the art of the possible. Big, bold, that's how we win as Democrats.

You know, that can be enough, I mean because people don't have to believe that she's going to win Medicare for all down the line. I don't think they're not going to vote for her because she may not achieve that. There is an analogue.

You know, we don't say it enough, she is really a mirror of Donald Trump in so many ways. She wants to get troops out of the Middle East. She doesn't want a wall and she's not targeting immigrants and she doesn't have his crudeness, but she --

GOLODRYGA: Trade.

GREGORY: Right.

GOLODRYGA: Right.

GREGORY: But she has his populism and she has -- and she'll say and stand for things that people think is totally fanciful.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: All right, let's move on to the other big news in Washington --

GREGORY: I thought that was it. I thought that was like --

CAMEROTA: That's it. All right --

GREGORY: No more coffee for you. Thank you.

CAMEROTA: All right.

BERMAN: (INAUDIBLE) out of here.

GREGORY: Right.

CAMEROTA: And --

BERMAN: We'll talk about global issues.

CAMEROTA: Hard wrap.

Let's move on to the other big news, and that, of course, are all of these daily developments, hourly developments with impeachment. Today will be no different.

So today is Michael McKinley. He's the former senior adviser to Secretary Pompeo who quit abruptly last week and, of course, investigators want to know why he did that, as well as what he has been seeing for the past months, because that's what all of these other people have been testifying to.

GOLODRYGA: Well, the focus, and rightly so, has been on Rudy Giuliani and what role he's played in all of this up until now.

But I think, as of today, and going forward, a lot of focus needs to be on Mike Pompeo's role as well as secretary of state because what you're hearing time and time again, from all of those who are testifying is that career diplomats were thrown under the bus. They were told to step aside and Rudy Giuliani and his makeshift political policies regarding Ukraine were given the green light to go ahead.

Mike Pompeo has said that these State Department officials should not testify because I won't allow them to be bullied. What we're actually seeing is that they weren't protected. And that this was a situation that many of these career diplomats that have been there for decades in multiple administrations had never seen a situation like this before. And I think Mike Pompeo has a lot to answer for.

CAMEROTA: And they want to testify is what we're seeing.

GOLODRYGA: Right.

BERMAN: Well, to that end, and I just want to have people see this for context, there's this new Gallup poll out minutes ago which show that 52 percent of Americans want to see the president impeached and removed. Oh, it's the change that's really interesting here. It's completely reversed from June. So you see, again, where that trend is.

David Gregory, to the point Bianna and Alisyn were just making though with McKinley testifying today, it is the career diplomats who are now finding out over the last six months who have been objecting, but it's also some political appointees --

GREGORY: Right.

[08:35:09]

BERMAN: Like Fiona Hill, like John Bolton. There have been people for months and months and months saying something stinks here --

GREGORY: Right.

BERMAN: Which is important to establish a pattern. And what stinks and to what end I think is what they're after.

GREGORY: Well, and this is, you know, how Donald Trump rails against what he calls the deep state. It's not the deep state. It's not bureaucrats. It's not -- as you say, he's uniting people against him because of what is becoming clearer. You start with the whistleblower report and how all these other witnesses are building on it to say that there was this cutout foreign policy that was perhaps run by Rudy Giuliani.

And, again, where was the abuse of power potentially? Denying money to Ukraine in order to further his political aims. You know, that piece of it is coming into sharper view, and I think that's one of the reasons why you see the polls moving.

The other reason you see the polls moving is, of course, that it's not the National League. It's the Nationals league.

BERMAN: Wow. And you waited.

GOLODRYGA: He went there.

BERMAN: He waited until 8:35.

CAMEROTA: Four hours. Three and a half hours.

BERMAN: You've been on TV three hours -- yes, three and a half hours and you waited for that.

GREGORY: Did the show just start?

BERMAN: All right, David Gregory --

GREGORY: I thought it just began.

BERMAN: Thank you for that. Congratulations to you.

GOLODRYGA: Yes, well deserved.

GREGORY: (INAUDIBLE). Go Nats!

GOLODRYGA: Yes.

BERMAN: And the Washington Nats.

CAMEROTA: Bianna, thank you.

BERMAN: All right, the impeachment investigation to remove David Gregory from that chair -- no, it began with a phone call with the president of Ukraine. So why does that country keep popping up in so many of the issues we're talking about? "Reality Check," next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[06:41:34]

BERMAN: So, when it comes to our American impeachment inquiry, there is another nation that keeps coming up again and again and again, Ukraine. But why?

John Avlon tells us in our "Reality Check."

John.

JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: That's right, guys.

Look, with apologies to the talking heads, you might ask yourself, how did we get here? I'm talking, of course, about Ukraine becoming ground zero for America's impeachment inquiry. And it's a good question. And it begins long before President Trump asked the president of Ukraine to investigate the Bidens.

Going back all the way to Paul Manafort's corrupted ventures in Ukraine and Putin's invasion of Crimea.

So let's start with Trump's former campaign manager. Right now Paul Manafort's in federal prison. But more than a decade ago, he was riding high in Ukraine as a political svengali (ph) for pro-Putin Ukrainian president. Somehow managing to pull a cool $60 million along the way in a country where the average monthly salary is just $200.

Now, he earned that money by pimping the pro-Russian agenda of President Viktor Yanukovych. Now, Yanukovych parlayed his (INAUDIBLE) cronyism into a 350 acre estate with a private zoo. Not surprisingly, Ukrainians got a bit fed up and took to the streets, forcing their president to flee to mother Russia.

But just days later, Putin used the chaos to slip in troops and annex Crimea, a valuable ex-Soviet land on the Black Sea. The west's response was sanctions after the fact with even Trump criticizing Obama for not being tougher.

Meanwhile, corruption continued in Ukraine, in part because there was a prosecutor turning a blind eye to it. So a collection of international officials, including then veep Joe Biden, pushed forced Ukraine to force the prosecutor out.

Now, around the same time, candidate Donald Trump plucks Paul Manafort to run his campaign. And they're birds of a feather. Self-styled tough guys with a flexible moral code. But Manafort's rise highlighted a, quote, glaring vulnerability for Mr. Trump, his admiration for Vladimir Putin. And days after this report appeared, Manafort was gone. But Trump's Ukraine obsession wasn't.

And maybe he wanted to deflect from Russia's election interference, but along the way Trump bought into a right-wing theory that Ukraine was the real source of election interference. The real collusion. Trump even sagged to the new Ukrainian president that the DNC might have hacked itself and the server was hiding in Ukraine.

Look, this is tin foil hat stuff. And just listen to Trump's own former homeland security adviser on this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is completely debunked. Repeating that debunked theory to the president, it sticks in his mind when he hears it over and over again. Let me just again repeat that it has no validity.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

AVLON: Got that? Also without validity is the idea that the corrupt prosecutor who Biden forced out was forced out because he was investigating Biden's son, then on the board of one of Ukraine's largest gas companies.

Now, look, the optics of Hunter Biden's job are bad, but there is no evidence that either Biden did anything illegal. But all this fueled a shadow foreign policy conducted in part by the president's lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, outside of anything resembling normal channels, forcing out the U.S. ambassador for the sin of being too independent. And two of Rudy's associates that helped dig around for Ukrainian dirt are now under arrest for funneling foreign money into a pro-Trump PAC.

So that's how we got here. And as the daily drip, drip of testimony proves, there's still a lot of light that needs to come out. But at the end of the day, there's only one winner in this twisted tale, and his name is Vladimir Putin. Same as it ever was.

And that's your "Reality Check."

CAMEROTA: Same as it ever was.

AVLON: Yes.

BERMAN: Vladimir Putin loves stop making sense, by the way.

CAMEROTA: Who doesn't.

AVLON: It's a huge information (INAUDIBLE), really.

BERMAN: Huge fan.

CAMEROTA: Who doesn't.

BERMAN: Psycho killer, one of his favorite songs. Just saying.

CAMEROTA: Oh, my gosh.

[08:45:00]

John, thank you very much.

BERMAN: I'm going to be hacked. I am so hacked over the next hour.

CAMEROTA: Bingo.

Here's what else to watch today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ON SCREEN TEXT: 10:00 a.m. ET, House GOP news conference.

12:00 p.m. ET, Trump speaks at White House.

5:00 p.m. ET, Joe Biden campaign event in Iowa.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CAMEROTA: OK, a new development in the 2020 race could give Senator Bernie Sanders a boost in the battle for progressive voters. We'll get "The Bottom Line" on all of this, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CAMEROTA: OK, CNN has learned that Representative Alexandria Ocasio- Cortez will endorse Senator Bernie Sanders this weekend.

[08:50:04]

Representative Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib are expected to join her.

So what will all of that mean for progressive voters, and will that give him a leg up over Elizabeth Warren? I have a lot of questions right now.

BERMAN: You have a lot of questions.

CAMEROTA: I have a lot of questions for "The Bottom Line."

BERMAN: You know what? We've got a man with a lot of answers.

CAMEROTA: And there he is.

David Chalian, let's start there. What does this endorsement from most of the squad mean for Bernie Sanders?

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Well, it's a nice way for Bernie Sanders to return to the campaign trail, right, after the heart attack. You've seen him, even before the heart attack, sort of slip in the polls a little bit. This is his way of coming back, showing he can stand on the debate stage and do his thing for three hours, as he did last night, and then follow up with a big rally and a big endorsement in terms of that progressive left wing slice of the party.

But I would also note this, Alisyn. There's a flip side. Bernie Sanders wouldn't need to roll out such a big high-profile endorsement if they didn't feel they needed some juice right now. So, to me, rolling out this endorsement this weekend also indicates that Sanders is looking to jolt his campaign back into a tier that it once was and it has, quite frankly, fallen from. I mean this is now a race with Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren sort of into a top tier unto themselves.

BERMAN: You know, it's a good point, I hadn't thought of that, that he would have preferred to have waited until December or maybe early January for something this big --

CHALIAN: Right, imagine just before the Iowa caucuses or something.

BERMAN: And this splashy.

CHALIAN: Yes.

BERMAN: Yes, you'd rather be doing it in Ames, perhaps, than doing it in New York City, maybe, if you're trying to push voters forward there.

Do you think this has an impact on Elizabeth Warren, because her numbers have been up, up, up, up, up. If Bernie Sanders starts to creep up again, does she start to sag?

CHALIAN: You know, John, that Donald Trump, the Republican Party, has -- they've been eager to make the squad, as they like to call themselves, sort of boogie woman, if you will, boogie women, if you will, of the Democratic Party. So, in this way, Elizabeth Warren has some distance from something that could be a potential attack against her in a general election context. Not that they wouldn't be for her if she's the nominee. I assume they would be. But by having them come out and endorse Bernie Sanders, I think Elizabeth Warren avoids any of the potential downside.

Listen, it's an endorsement I am sure Elizabeth Warren would have loved to have had. This is a group of women who definitely has the ability to enthuse a segment of the party. But that is not how Elizabeth Warren is going to win the Democratic nomination. She has a lot of the liberal energy in the party. She has a lot of the young energy in the party right now. That's where she's sort of taken a slice from Sanders.

What Elizabeth Warren needs to do now in her mission is broaden beyond that. She needs some of the more moderate piece of the Democratic Party. She needs some of those Biden voters, some of the non-college educated voters in the party to come on board. So I'm not sure that not getting this endorsement is a real blow to Warren.

CAMEROTA: David, let's talk money.

There's new figures out. And Joe Biden doesn't have that much cash on hand, certainly compared to his rivals. So just this morning we learned he has $9 million on hand. I mean compare that to $33.7 million for Bernie Sanders, $25.7 million for Elizabeth Warren.

So what's that about?

CHALIAN: Yes. I mean that Sanders number is just -- he's just sitting on a pile of money, Alisyn. Excuse me. And it is the kind of money that he can continue to raise at that clip.

Remember, he was the top fundraiser in the last quarter. And it's all largely small dollar donors. He can go back to those donors again and again and again. Hit them up with a text message. Hit them up with an e-mail. And they can donate more.

Joe Biden is raising money in the traditional way. He's taken time off the trail, going to hotel ball rooms or people's well-appointed living rooms and those donors tend to max out and you can't go back to them.

Joe Biden, four people in this race are ahead of him in cash on hand. It is a concern because it's not as easy for Joe Biden to raise money as it is for Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders. They're redefining how to raise that money in the race and they clearly are also stockpiling resources for the fight ahead in a way that his team is not able to do at the moment.

BERMAN: David, we've just got about 30 seconds left. One of the things that strikes me, we've been on TV a long time.

CAMEROTA: I just feel it's like many days.

BERMAN: A long time this morning. But we've barely actually talked about Joe Biden. You know, Joe Biden, as you emerge from that debate last night, not necessarily one of the top story lines. I wonder what that means.

CHALIAN: It's a great question, John. It may be, actually, a good thing for Joe Biden in the sense that the headline was Hunter Biden going into the debate, right? He gave that interview to ABC's "Good Morning America."

[08:55:00]

And Joe Biden was able to sort of deal with that question near the beginning of the debate and then not have that be the big headline coming out of the debate. I think Joe Biden went in with sort of a "do no harm" strategy and he probably did no harm.

But here's the problem. Far bigger threat than the Hunter Biden story to Joe Biden, I think, is Elizabeth Warren and how she is the dominant force in this race. And that was clear on the debate stage last night. And Joe Biden is not going to be able to just go through the campaign from here to Iowa and New Hampshire doing no harm. He's going to actually have to take Elizabeth Warren down a bit.

BERMAN: David Chalian, thanks for being with us and congratulations to you and the entire team who were a part of putting this debate on. So much goes into it. You're a big part of it.

CHALIAN: Thanks, guys.

CAMEROTA: Great job.

BERMAN: Thank you.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's former senior adviser, who quit a week ago, he will speak to House investigators moments from now. Our coverage of this impeachment inquiry continues, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:00:09]

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: A very good Wednesday. END