Return to Transcripts main page


White House on Political Influence in Foreign Policy: "Get Over It!"; Mulvaney: Trump Will Host G-7 at His Doral Resort; Pence & Pompeo Hold Press Conference in Turkey on Cease-Fire Agreement. Aired 1:30-2p ET

Aired October 17, 2019 - 13:30   ET



BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: Linked to Ukrainians who maybe don't exactly like what the --




BASH: Just the basic, just the basic notion of Giuliani not being -- there's a reason why people who work for the government are not allowed to take money from the outside. It's because it causes major conflicts of interest, which is why, you know, you don't use your private attorney or your friend or somebody who might be being paid by the very people you're trying to influence.

I mean, there are so many conflicts.

KEILAR: And these guys, who are associates of Rudy Giuliani's --



KEILAR: That's right. They have been charged for pushing foreign money into the U.S. political system, including a huge donation to the Trump super PAC.

BORGER: Right, and the president has said he knows nothing about that.

You can look at this in a couple of ways. One is that Rudy Giuliani was playing a game on both sides here. He was pleasing the president because he was pushing for investigations into Burisma, which we know equals Joe Biden, and into the 2020 election. At the same time, as Dana pointed out, that he was making money off -- and I think he said he was paid $500,000 -- he was making money off the Ukrainians.

Whether the president knew that Rudy Giuliani was making money off the Ukrainians has yet to be discovered, but Giuliani was playing both sides of this. As far as the president was concerned, when Giuliani is whispering in

his ear, I'm trying to get this done so that Zelensky will look into Biden, the president is happy with that, as he told all of his foreign policy leaders dealing with Ukraine in an Oval Office meeting on May 23rd, he said to them, talk to Rudy, Ukraine is corrupt.

And they were all shaking their heads. Why do we have to talk to Rudy? And then they figured it out. So Giuliani has got a little game going here.

KEILAR: We've been seeing all these diplomats testify on Capitol Hill. Mick Mulvaney really tried to minimize what we've been hearing from them. It was interesting how he tried to do it. He tried to do it kind of by not remembering most of their names.

Let's listen.


MICK MULVANEY, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: I can never remember the gentleman who testified -- McKinney, is that his name? I don't know him. He testified yesterday.

I can't remember the other person's name, Durham, Durham.

Who said that?


MULVANEY: I'm sorry, I don't know who he is. Is that someone who testified this week? I don't believe I talked to anybody named George Kent in my life.


KEILAR: What did you think of that?

BASH: I have to say --


KEILAR: Does he need a better Rolodex or memory?

BASH: No. I actually -- first of all, you called him out on it but it is quite obvious what he is trying to do. Which is, those people don't matter. Who are they? I couldn't pick them out of a lineup.

KEILAR: And it's not McKinney. It's McKinley.

BASH: Right. But he's trying to say they're not relevant, they wouldn't know anything from Adam, and that's it.


KEILAR: The president says, I don't even know that person.

BORGER: Here's the problem.


BORGER: He's trying to diminish these people. But then you could flip that and say, well, shouldn't the White House chief of staff know a high-ranking official in the State Department? Shouldn't -- these are points you should make -- I mean, I would make -- that if you're at that level, you should actually know the people who are responsible for making U.S. policy.


KEILAR: And maybe he does. And maybe he does, right?

BORGER: That's the argument he's making, but you can turn that on its head.

KEILAR: You said there's a problem with him making -- you were going to say something. I interrupted you. There's a problem with him making this argument? Were you saying that?



KEILAR: All right. Never mind. Gloria filled in the gap there.

BASH: You filled in my gap.


KEILAR: Let's also talk about -- I thought it was interesting when we learned this G-7 part of things, that he's going to host the G-7 at his club, right, which we knew was a possibility. But it's very -- I don't know if it's surprising, but it is certainly a breach of protocol, right?

But what does that say -- I don't mean to go off on this tangent about that, because it actually sort of speaks to the broad thing that we saw Mulvaney doing.

BASH: They don't care.

KEILAR: That's --

BASH: He doesn't care. There's a shame factor that has been missing. That chip has been missing since day one. And that has been the through line of all of these issues. And the latest is Doral.

What did Mick Mulvaney say to the question about, was it the president's idea. Yes, it was the president's idea. How about Doral? That's not the craziest idea.

KEILAR: That's not the craziest idea.

BASH: Or the question, are you worried about these foreign leaders who look to this country, around the world, who look to this country as sort of a beacon.

KEILAR: Not to be self-serving, right?

BORGER: Not at all.

BASH: You know what his answer was? No. Next question.


BORGER: I mean, they don't care. Self-dealing is not in the vocabulary.



BORGER: Self-dealing in not in the vocabulary. And what Mulvaney was saying was, look, if we do it, it's just fine. This is the best place in the entire United States, and the president suggested it and thought it was a great idea.

And, again, it goes back to what Dana was saying, which is, yes, we're doing it, so what?

KEILAR: To that point, Jim Baker, we have this, "so what, I don't care," element as Dana and Gloria just put it. How much is what a president does, what a White House does, normally governed by norms rather than actually any kind of rule, law that actually has a somewhat expedient consequence that might deter someone who likes to push boundaries from pushing them and blowing right through them?

JIM BAKER, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: The president over the past several years has destroyed a lot of the different norms that applied historically in the United States. The question is whether he's abusing his power.

Look, this issue with the Doral Country Club is part of a pattern of corruption -- there's no other way to say it -- and self-dealing, as I think Gloria was saying, that goes back several years. The Mueller report is replete with examples of a pattern of corruption that should be unacceptable in this country.

And the question is whether the Congress of the United States and ultimately the voters are going to hold the president accountable for all of this.

Even if he has the power to do these kinds of things, the question is whether he's abusing that power. Is he going too far?

KEILAR: Jim Baker --


KEILAR: -- I'm going to have to pause because the vice president and the secretary of state are starting to speak in Turkey. MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Earlier this week,

President Trump took decisive action to call on Turkish forces to stand down, to end the violence, to agree to negotiations.



PENCE: Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Mr. Vice President? Mr. Vice President, can I finish my question that I started, please?

KEILAR: All right. Vice President Mike Pence there along with the Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Ankara, Turkey, announcing the U.S. and Turkey agreed to a cease-fire, 120 hours for Kurdish forces to leave the area in northern Syria.

Just to be clear what's happening here, this is being spun by the administration, by the vice president as a "U.S. saves the day" situation. But this is a cleanup mission. And by all accounts, from critics of the president's, from people who are normally his allies, this is actually a huge, deadly mess, arguably strategically misguided that was caused by the U.S.

You heard Vice President Pence say the U.S. did not support the Turkish invasion. Well, the U.S. made, by all accounts, this Turkish invasion of northern Syria possible, taking on the Kurds, former allies of the U.S., who fought alongside U.S. troops, really taking the brunt, 11,000 casualties in the fight against ISIS.

And this cease-fire, just to be clear what's happening here, this is where the Kurds live. This is their home.

I want to bring in Nick Paton Walsh, nearby in Irbil, Iraq. This is 120 -- and Barbara Starr, with us from the Pentagon.

Nick, this is 120 hours for the Kurdish forces to leave. This is their home.

So this is a situation where the U.S. has brokered, certainly ratcheting down the violence so that they can withdraw, but this is not as it would have been made to appear there in this press conference.

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Look, there's a lot of stuff we simply don't know from hearing Vice President Pence talk. He hasn't established what he means by, quote, "the safe zone."


Now, if you listen to President Erdogan, that's pretty much the entire Turkish border where the Kurdish live.