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Senator calls or Hearing into Trump's Syria Actions; Southern District of New York Investigates Giuliani; Two Men Tied to Giuliani Associates Due in Court Shortly; Longtime Democratic Congressman Elijah Cummings Dies; Trump Legal Team Baffled by Mulvaney Performance; U.S. Touts Ceasefire in Syria But Turkey Calls It a 120 Hour Pause. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired October 17, 2019 - 15:30   ET



PORTER GOODMAN, VOLUNTEERED IN SYRIA TO HELP KURDISH GROUP FIGHT ISIS: -- Donald Trump's actions. And they spread this misinformation without understanding the context, where this information came from, and what is motivating the Turkish state without understanding their reputation and the track record of the groups on either side of this information war.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: You mentioned Erdogan, he's meeting with Putin in just a couple of days. We'll watch to see what comes of that. Porter Goodman, thank you for your perspective. I appreciate it.

GOODMAN: Thank you, Brooke.

BALDWIN: More on our breaking news. The White House straight up admits to a quid pro quo with Ukraine. We have new reporting on what the President's lawyers thought of the Acting Chief of Staff's performance in the White House briefing room a bit ago.

Plus, Rudy Giuliani making history for the first time someone who once led the prosecutor's office in the Southern District of New York is now the subject of an investigation by the Southern District of New York.

We'll be right back.



BALDWIN: In just a few minutes the two men connected to some associates of Rudy Giuliani are set to be arraigned. These four men face counts of conspiracy and making false statements all tied to an alleged scheme beginning in March of 2018 to evade campaign finance laws. So Giuliani's associates Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman are supposed to be arraigned next week.

And as part of this case CNN has come to learn that the Department of Justice is also investigating Rudy Giuliani, who is not only the President's personal attorney and the accused point man in this shadow foreign policy going on with Ukraine, but he is the former mayor of New York City, and he once served as the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York. That is the branch of the Justice Department that is now investigating him.

Chris Smith is a contributor to "Vanity Fair," he just wrote this piece titled "They're Clearly Looking Right at Rudy Giuliani -- The SDNY Takes on Rudy Giuliani, Its Former Chief." So, good to see you back here.


BALDWIN: Has this ever happened where a guy who used to, you know, head SDNY is now being investigated by SDNY?

SMITH: No, the Southern District has been around in one form or another since 1814 and has had 70-plus heads. Rudy's setting a record here. He's the first as best anybody can tell to be investigated by the office that he used to lead. They've been looking at his financial records since at least August, talking to people through late summer about his dealings in Ukraine. You know, not just the Biden stuff but the business dealings that could have compromised his relationship with Trump and with national security.

BALDWIN: What are folks at SDNY telling you?

SMITH: You know that It's a very complicated case. That the fact that he is -- Giuliani is the President's personal lawyer adds a layer of caution. There are potentially attorney/client privileges involved, but the business dealings on Giuliani's behalf or by Giulani are actually a potentially much cleaner prosecution, than if they were to try to prosecute him for being involved in pressuring Biden.

BALDWIN: We were reporting and you alluded to this, we learned yesterday that Giuliani could have been used in a foreign influence operation on the White House and the President. What do you know about that counterintelligence investigation?

SMITH: Sure. The FBI has been asking questions about Giuliani's involvement with all of these Ukrainian players since last spring and that appears to still be active. If they had gotten to a dead end, if they felt there was nothing to it, the requirements are that it be shut down within six months. But as best we can tell, they're still out there talking to folks. You know, as we keep discovering, there are multiple sides and it's very possible that Rudy got played by a couple of them here who were looking to move a prosecutor they didn't like, to move a U.S. ambassador they didn't like, and that they felt Giuliani could be their instrument in that machinations.

BALDWIN: Curious to see if these associates are willing to flip and talk.

SMITH: Well, none of Rudy's colleagues have been arrested in the past 24 hours. So that's a win for him. Right?

BALDWIN: Chris Smith, Chris Smith writing for "Vanity Fair." Thank you very much. SMITH: Thank you.

BALDWIN: Thank you.

More on our news here. that we're being told that the President's legal team is baffled by what just happened in that briefing room where the acting chief of staff just admitted quid pro quo with Ukraine. Stand by for more news.



BALDWIN: Civil rights champion, public servant, the nation is mourning the unexpected loss of Maryland Democratic Congressman Elijah Cummings. His office says he passed away early this morning in a hospital after suffering complications from long-standing health challenges. Up on Capitol Hill the entrance to his office is draped buy black bunting in honor of his service. Cummings spent more than two decades in Congress and one of his last acts as Chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee included signing two subpoenas for documents related to a temporary end to a policy change that allowed some immigrants with severe health issues to remain in the United States.

Starting with his very first speech on the House floor, Maryland's Congressman will be remembered for using the power of his words to be a change agent.


FORMER REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS (D-MD): My mission is one that comes out of a vision that was created long, long ago. It is a mission and a vision to empower people.


To make people realize that the power is within them.

The way I see it, you can go down in history as the poster boy for gritty, drug company executives, or you can change the system. Yes, you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're doing our level best --

CUMMINGS: What does that mean? What does that mean when a child is sitting in their own feces, can't take a shower, come on, man?

We're dancing with the angels, the question will be asked, in 2019 what did we do to make sure we kept our democracy intact? Did we stand on the sidelines and say nothing? And we have got to get back to normal. With that, this meeting is adjourned.


BALDWIN: Congressman Elijah E. Cummings. Rest in peace. More on our breaking news as the White House admits a quid pro quo

with Ukraine a key ambassador is testifying right now and throwing the President under the bus.



BALDWIN: We are now getting reaction from within the White House to statements made by the President's Acting Chief of Staff, Mick Mulvaney, admitting to that quid pro quo. Sources are telling CNN that Trump's legal team is quote, baffled. CNN's Sarah Westwood is back there at the White House. And so Sarah, tell me more.

SARAH WESTWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well, Brooke, after that remarkable press conference from Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, a source familiar with the reaction inside the legal team said people there are just a little stunned after watching what happened. Jay Sekulow, one of the President's lawyers said that the legal team was not involved in preparing Mick Mulvaney for that briefing, and the source said that the legal source did not view what they saw from behind that White House podium as helpful to the President's efforts to try to fight these impeachment inquiry charges.

Sources also tell our colleague Evan Perez that Justice Department officials were angry and confused while Mulvaney was explicitly tying the President's desire to see politically advantageous investigations to that decision to suspend the aid. So clearly, Brooke, what we're seeing, there's a lot of shock expressed from the people who are supposed to be defending the President against this very allegation of quid pro quo right now.

BALDWIN: Sarah, thanks for the update. Keep us posted on any others. More on our breaking news. More Republican Senators are speaking out against the President's spin of his great victory involving the so- called cease fire with Turkey.



BALDWIN: President Trump said that Turkey's cease fire negotiated by Vice President Pence and Secretary Pompeo is quote/unquote, an amazing outcome. While Turkey says it's actually not a cease fire at all. The President also made some questionable statements about how this all came about, and how long the U.S. has been working to arrive to this point.

CNN's Daniel Dale is here with the fact check. So Daniel, the floor is yours.

DANIEL DALE, CNN REPORTER: Well, the President said this is a deal that people had been trying to make for many years then he made it ten years, then he made it 15 years, then he said more than 15 years. None of these statements frankly make any sense. This is an extremely narrow temporary deal specifically tied to the circumstances that Trump's own decision led to.

I spoke to former senior Obama National Security official Ben Rhodes. I spoke to a couple of professors who studied Turkish, Kurdish issues. They say they have no idea what the President is talking about, that this is a deal that gives Turkey what it wants. And that previous U.S. administrations have never pursued because these were not U.S. aims at all. So again, the President is trying to tout some momentous historic achievement that no one else sees as such.

BALDWIN: We should also note that not only did he say, you know, that the Kurds are happy, and that Erdogan is happy, but all of civilization is happy. So there's that. Let me ask you this, how many falsehoods have you counted just in the past week -- Daniel?

DALE: Well, the previous week, the week ending Sunday, it was 129. That's the most he's made in the 14 weeks I fact checked at CNN. And what's interesting, Brooke, is that the subjects have changed. It used to be about immigration and the economy. Now hid dishonesty is focused on both Syria and especially Ukraine, and whistleblower. He said more than 20 times in just two weeks that the highly accurate whistleblower was highly inaccurate. So this is up and down, egregious kinds of dishonesty.

BALDWIN: And then with regard to the no quid pro quo, no quid pro quo, which is what we heard from Trump and so many other White House officials, and of course you saw Mick Mulvaney, he was basically like, yes, you know, and so what. What do you expect Mick Mulvaney will do?

DALE: Well, I don't know if they'll let him talk again. I don't know who thought that was a good idea. Who authorized that performance? We know that people on the President's legal team are not very happy for obvious reasons with that performance, but this is something we've seen over and over from the President and his team. They deny something. Then they admit it and dare you to do something about it. They say so what, this is normal, everyone does it. And so maybe they'll roll with that strategy like they roll with it in other circumstances.

BALDWIN: Daniel Dale, good to have you on. Thank you very much.

DALE: Thank you.

BALDWIN: And thank you for being with me. I'm Brooke Baldwin. Let's send things to Washington. "THE LEAD" with Jake Tapper starts right now.