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Sondland: Trump Ordered Diplomats to go Through Giuliani on Ukraine; Mulvaney Denies Quid Pro Quo after Admitting it to the Press; White House Announces G-7 Summit will be Held at Trump's Resort; Prince William & Kate Visit Pakistan Orphanage. Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired October 18, 2019 - 07:00   ET


ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: John, thank you very much.


All right. We're following new developments in Mick Mulvaney's stunning admission that there was a quid pro quo with Ukraine. NEW DAY continues right now.


MICK MULVANEY, ACTING WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: Did he mention the corruption related to the DNC server? Absolutely. That's why we held up the money.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mick has said some stuff there.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When you add some context to it, we'll see where it goes.


REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): Things have just gone from very, very bad to much, much worse.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Key figure at the center of the Ukraine scandal testifying before Congress.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The opening statement Sondland provided establishes that the president directed Sondland to talk to Giuliani. That is very damning for the president of the United States.

MULVANEY: You may not like the fact that Giuliani was involved. It's not illegal. It's not impeachable. The president gets to use who he wants to use.


ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is NEW DAY.

Mick Mulvaney is the acting chief of staff, but they don't hand out Oscars for the way he acted yesterday. For weeks, President Trump has been insisting over and over there was no quid pro quo with Ukraine. But Mick Mulvaney proudly and repeatedly proclaimed there was.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The demand for an investigation into the Democrats was part of the reason that he was told to withhold funding to Ukraine?

MULVANEY: The look back to what happened in 2016 certainly was part of the thing that he was worried about --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To be clear, what you just described is a quid pro quo. It is funding will not flow unless the investigation into the Democratic server happened, as well.

MULVANEY: We do -- we do that all the time with foreign policy.


BERMAN: So Mulvaney is now somehow saying this is being misreported. No. We committed the remarkable feat of journalism of pressing record on the camera.

All of this is going down at the same time that Trump ally Gordon Sondland further implicated the president in the Ukraine controversy and Rudy Giuliani. The U.S. ambassador to the E.U. told Congress that the president ordered him and other diplomats to deal directly with his personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, on all matters involving Ukraine.

CAMEROTA: All right. Meanwhile, overnight smoke was seen rising over an eastern border city in Syria, raising questions about that five-day cease-fire that Vice President Pence claimed he'd brokered with Turkey.

Since the safe zone was not clearly defined by U.S. negotiators, it is not clear whether that city is even in it.

Vice President Pence agreed to accept Turkey's military presence in northern Syria in exchange for a brief halt to the violence. That is considered a major victory for Turkey since they avoided economic sanctions and still forced Kurdish fighters to surrender significant territory. Still, President Trump is calling it out as, quote, "an amazing outcome," with members of his own party privately alarmed by his apparent lack of understanding about Syria, and publicly criticizing it.

Joining us now, we have Maggie Haberman, CNN political analyst and White House correspondent from "The New York Times"; and Jeffrey Toobin, CNN chief legal analyst and former federal prosecutor.

Maggie, great to see you. Let's start with Mick Mulvaney. He seems to be suffering from an acute case of Giuliani-itis, which is blurting out the truth and then spending some time trying to clarify and walk it back. What was happening behind the scenes after that remarkable press conference?

MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, before and after were two different things. Before, the goal was for him to go out and talk about the sites -- a whole separate controversy, which is the president's selection of his own club to host the G-7 next year.

CAMEROTA: The Doral Club.

HABERMAN: The Doral in Florida, which is just definitionally a conflict of interest and raised all kinds of questions about how they are accusing and the president is accusing the Biden family of a conflict of interest while he's doing this. Two things can be true at once.

Mulvaney also knew he was going to face impeachment questions. He's the first person who has been in that briefing room in Lord knows how long from -- he was not, you know, a policy expert and not talking about immigration or something like that.

He was not supposed to say what he said. He was not supposed to say, yes, there was a quid pro quo or whatever version of it that he just said on the tape.

A lot of people watched it in just shock within the White House. The president's outside lawyer, Jay Sekulow, issued a statement making clear that they were not pleased with this. He said the president's legal team had -- an outside legal team had no part of this.

Mick Mulvaney and the White House counsel, Pat Cipollone, are not on good terms. And I don't know whether that contributed to this or not. I know that the president -- I know he said he didn't watch the press conference. I'm told he did watch some of the briefing.

He was very, very -- his focus was elsewhere. His focus was on Turkey and his focus was on what Mike Pompeo and Mike Pence were doing. I suspect that the president's reaction may change as it often does as he watches the coverage.

BERMAN: Jeffrey Toobin, I know you watched this with rapt attention. And Mick Mulvaney didn't just say it; he repeated it. He said, "Get over it." And he said, "We do it all the time." What did you see there?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: What I saw is that he was acknowledging reality. I mean, if you look at the starting with the whistle-blower complaint and the partial transcript that was released, plus all the witnesses that have come forward, it's quite clear that he was telling the truth yesterday at this press conference. That there was this organized effort led by Rudy Giuliani and then, you know, endorsed enthusiastically by the president that said, look, we are not giving this taxpayer money to the government of Ukraine unless they help us with our political interests and investigate our opponents. I mean, that's what happened.

[07:05:36] And Mulvaney, you know, sort of blurted that out. And then, you know,

they had to sort of come in and try to clean it up. I mean, if you look at how the facts are coming in, there's no other explanation for what happened.

CAMEROTA: Yes. And he didn't just do it once. I mean, again, the reporters in the room saw that he was saying something that was explosive, and they asked him repeatedly, are you sure you -- are you sure that's what you meant? Because it sounds like a quid pro quo. Are you sure you mean a quid pro quo? They asked him repeatedly, and he stuck to it.

So Jeffrey, what does that mean for the impeachment inquiry? I mean, does this make it easier now for investigators today?

TOOBIN: Well, I think, you know, impeachment, you always have to remember, is a political process, not a legal process. And the question, really, has always been about this, is what are the Republicans going to do?

The Democrats in the House of Representatives and probably in the Senate are united on this issue, that this is an abuse of power. And the question is when or whether -- more importantly whether -- Republicans will say this is too much, this is an abuse of power.

At the moment, it really doesn't look like that's going to happen. It certainly -- it doesn't look to me like you're going to see any number of significant defections. Certainly, not enough in the Senate to get to 67.

But I mean, the question --

CAMEROTA: Well, I mean, we're just --

TOOBIN: -- has always been, what are the Republicans going to do?

CAMEROTA: Republicans were upset afterwards.

BERMAN: Republicans were confused, I think.


BERMAN: You know, Lisa Murkowski and others were confused. I didn't hear anyone say, a-ha, we have it here. They were confused.

CAMEROTA: No, no. But they were --

BERMAN: They said the types of things they normally do.

Maggie, I've got a bunch of questions for you. No. 1, as we sit here on Friday morning, does the -- how does the White House think this week went? That's No. 1.

And I'm just -- where is Rudy Giuliani inside Trump world? How's his standing right now, and is there any sense that, at some point, he may be pushed aside or kept at arm's length? HABERMAN: Well, to answer that backwards, this question has been

there about Rudy Giuliani for the last two weeks, three weeks, four weeks as this controversy has taken shape.

We know that the president had lunch with Giuliani last weekend at his golf club in Virginia. The president, you know, said warm things about Giuliani that same day.

But as we know, if time marches on and Giuliani becomes more of a liability, then I think you will see the president start to push him off on an ice floe and separate himself from Rudy Giuliani the same way we saw him do with Michael Cohen, another lawyer.

It's not entirely the same thing, but I think that, also, remember. This is a little different than Michael Cohen, where the president was just completely involved in this.

Unlike the Stormy Daniels payment, where they were able to say, this is really just Michael Cohen's thing. The president's on this call with the president of Ukraine. It's a little hard to just extract him from this.

The White House knows this was not a good week. I mean, they're not, you know -- There -- There is a feeling inside the White House, and we've all lived through three years of people both inside the building and outside saying, oh, my goodness, it feels like it's unraveling, or it feels really crazy there.

I'm hearing that a lot this week. I don't know that that's dispositive about anything. You know, this White House has proven fairly durable at withstanding hurricanes that are occurring within. So we'll see what happens in the next week.

But I just don't understand yesterday, which seemed at first to be trying to distract from Gordon Sondland's testimony, replacing it with other scandals? I just -- I don't understand what they thought they were doing.

CAMEROTA: That was an interesting strategy, to pivot to the Doral --


CAMEROTA: -- Emoluments Clause scandal, where people -- legal experts came out, and Jeffrey, we'll be with you in one second. That of course, that lit people's hair on fire.

HABERMAN: Even if you take out the Emoluments Clause issue, which nobody is in agreement, in ide agreement on that, it's just a pure conflict of interest. I don't remember another time where you have had a sitting president in modern history direct a contract to his own property. This is just unheard of.

CAMEROTA: Usually, Jeffrey, standard politicians -- and by that, I mean non-corrupt ones, in the past -- try, even if it were the best choice, even if Doral were the best choice with the best accommodations, they specifically wouldn't choose it, because they would want to avoid that sort of look of conflict.

TOOBIN: You know, the United States is a big country. And it has a lot of resorts. And the idea that Doral is the only one that could host the G-7 is just -- is just absurd on its face.

But look, you know, the president has made a lot of money off the presidency. You know, he denies that, but if you look at the foreign leaders who have stayed at his hotel in Washington, who -- this is -- you know, there has been a lot of grifting going on. This is the biggest and most public grift that the president has engaged in.


But it's just -- again, it's part of a pattern. And, you know, money always matters.

Just to, you know, add to what Maggie said about Giuliani, one fact that is not yet in evidence is where Giuliani was getting his money during this period in the Ukraine. And what was -- what were Giuliani's business relationships in Ukraine? That is a great unknown in all of that. And if that were to come -- were to come out, I mean, that would be a very, you know, probative fact about how, you know, this whole story -- whole story went down.

BERMAN: In fact, the Southern District of New York, we know from our reporting on the president and others, is investigating just that thing.

Jeffrey, one of the things that was interesting gets lost in all this Mulvaney stuff yesterday, was -- was that -- how in line it was with Gordon Sondland's testimony. I mean, Mulvaney basically said we ran foreign policy. We ran Ukraine through Giuliani. And Sondland said the same thing. And Sondland said he was very uncomfortable with it. This matters.

TOOBIN: It matters, but you know, all the evidence here points in the same direction. I mean, that's why Mulvaney's press conference was sort of -- was weird, because it was finally someone in Trump world acknowledging reality which was, yes, Rudy Giuliani was running our relationship with -- with Ukraine. And yes, it was based on getting political dirt on the Democrats.

You know, it's shocking when people acknowledge the truth. Now of course, they had to walk it back and pretend that he didn't say what he'd said. But what made Mulvaney's comments so significant is that it's in line with all the other evidence in the case, including Sondland's testimony yesterday.

CAMEROTA: That's why it was so disconcerting for reporters in the room. I'm sorry, wait. Was that you just -- you just spoke? Something that sounds like the truth. Well, you sure you want to say that?

Anyway, Jeffrey, thank you.

Maggie, thank you very much. Have a great weekend. President Trump has nothing but praise for the ceasefire in Syria. But Turkey says that they are actually the big -- they are the winners. So we'll talk with Fareed Zakaria about all this, next.


BERMAN: Breaking overnight, new questions about whether what the administration is calling a ceasefire in Syria is holding. Turkey, by the way, says there's no ceasefire, just a pause in operations.

We have seen smoke rising above the northern Syria city of Ras al-Ayn all night. President Trump, he is praising this deal, but how will the administration's decision to leave Syria affect the larger power dynamic, not just in the Middle East but all around the world?

I want to bring in Fareed Zakaria, host of CNN's "FAREED ZAKARIA: GPS."

And Fareed, the situation on the ground is what it is. We will see what happens there with the Turkish troops and whether the U.S., the former U.S. allies, the Kurds, what happens to them.


But my bigger question is to what effect will this all have? And I want to read you something that Mitt Romney said yesterday on the Senate floor. He asked, "Are we so weak and inept diplomatically that Turkey forced the hand of the United States of America?" He said, "Turkey?"

What's the answer to that question? Does this show we are now so weak and inept diplomatically?

FAREED ZAKARIA, HOST, "FAREED ZAKARIA: GPS": Well, it shows that we are really clueless. We -- this was done without any thought, without any strategy, without any follow-up.

But I just want to start, John, with what is -- what has happened on the ground: 250,000, a quarter million people, have been displaced. Hundreds, if not thousands of people, have died. Dozens of people have been tortured. Credible reports of war crimes. ISIS prisoners have escaped.

We have ceded our positions to countries like Russia and to the Assad government. We are bombing our own weapons caches to prevent them from falling into enemy hands. That is the on-the-ground result here.

Now, why did it happen? It's a mystery, because we had a pretty good deal with the Turks. If you look at what the Obama administration had set up, it was a -- it was a kind of -- there were zones. The Kurds were in their zone. The Turks were in their zone. It required a little management. It required a few hundred troops, a very small effective use of American power, was maintaining the stability over a very complicated area.

And why did we give it all up? It's really completely unclear. Because it does not benefit America at all. And it benefits Russia. It benefits Iran. It benefits the Assad government. And it benefits Turkey.

BERMAN: I think the president, for his part, would make the case he never wanted troops in Syria. This is just about getting troops out of some kind of foreign effort.

I want to read you something Admiral McRaven wrote yesterday. He was on with Jake Tapper yesterday, too, in a great interview. But he writes about the lasting global impact of this. He says, "If the president doesn't understand their importance" -- he's talking about the Kurds -- "If the president doesn't demonstrate the leadership that America needs, both domestically and abroad, then it is time for a new person in the Oval Office -- Republican, Democrat or independent -- the sooner, the better. The fate of our Republic depends on it."

Again, what message about America's leadership is this sending to the world?

ZAKARIA: Well, there are two things. One is the profound political and moral point that Admiral McRaven makes in that piece, which is we are letting down people who have not just fought with us, not just believed in us but died for us.

And if you do that, how are you going to get the next group of people to do it? How are you going to get people to believe anything you say?

It's absolutely clear that President Trump is completely transactional. He will turn on you on a dime, whether you are a group militia fighting for the United States, whether you're a country or whether you're, frankly, one of the people who work for him.

You know, General Mattis was one day the greatest general in the world. The next day he's the most overrated general in the world. That kind of purely transactional approach is not going to get you stable long-term allies.

The second is come back to the point you made. The president says he wanted to get troops out of Syria. There is a way to do this. That is why there are processes. That is why you have, you know, the whole network of professionals and experts.

You do it by consulting with allies. You do it slowly. You do it over time. You do it in a way that doesn't have this massive disruption.

As I said, there's no clear benefit to -- to the United States in this. And remember, these troops are not -- we're not decommissioning these troops. They're just going to move back to a place like Ft. Bragg. We're still paying for them.

In fact, you know, it's not clear that you're saving any money in doing this. You are putting an enormous amount of American foreign policy in jeopardy with no appreciable gain. BERMAN: And again, next time you come on, we'll talk about who does

benefit from all of this. One of the clear beneficiaries -- and we've already seen it on the ground in Syria -- is Russia. So a lot to talk about there. Fareed Zakaria, thanks so much for being with us -- Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: OK, John. We have some breaking news in Alaska. A plane carrying a high school athletic team skids off the runway. Several people have been seriously hurt. So we'll bring you the latest, next.



BERMAN: All right. We do have breaking news. A commuter jet carrying 42 people, including a high school swim team, crashed off the coast of Alaska. The Peninsula Airways plane went off the runway at this airport late yesterday afternoon in the Aleutian Islands. It is not clear what caused the accident.

According to a local television affiliate, two passengers were critically hurt. Ten others were treated for minor injuries.


The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are wrapping up their historic tour of Pakistan after taking in the sights and honoring Prince William's mother, Diana.

But their trip did not end without a few bumps on the way home. CNN's Max Foster caught up with the couple for Duchess Kate's first interview since becoming part of the royal family. This is a big deal to hear from her. Here it is.

MAX FOSTER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, John and Alisyn, the thunderstorm is finally clearing in this part of Pakistan. It caused havoc yesterday.

We were on the royal flight going into Islamabad, and we had to abort two landings, would you believe, because the turbulence was just too bad. But we're back on schedule, and the tour continues apace.


FOSTER (voice-over): This week's royal tour of Pakistan has been a visual feast. But behind each photo opportunity lies an issue that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge care passionately about and want to highlight.

Take the SOS Children's Village in Lahore, a remarkable project that homes, educates, and nurtures orphans.





FOSTER: This was the duchess' first news interview since she married the duke eight years ago.

(on camera): Thank you so much for speaking to us. But I know this is a cause very close to your heart.

DUCHESS KATE: Absolutely. I think William and I really wanted to come and see SOS Children's Village like this. You know, there's so many vulnerable women here that they've really sort of used their positivity and -- and the support that the village here provides them, really, to support and protect the next generation, the children in their care, and give them the best possible start to their future lives.

FOSTER: You look like you really, really enjoyed the entire visit.

DUCHESS KATE: Yes. It's been fantastic. We've seen a lot of Pakistan. A huge variety. It's amazing seeing some of the geography. But then to see some of the, you know, communities like this has been really special.

FOSTER (voice-over): You can't come to Pakistan as a member of the British royal family and avoid comparisons to Diana, Princess of Wales. Especially when you visit the same unmistakably beautiful mosque.

This, another memorable image from 1990s Lahore. And the duke and duchess visiting the same hospital, keen to keep the late princess's legacy alive but without imitating her.

The future king and queen wearing royalty in their own way.


(on camera): What's been interesting watching this couple grow into their roles, they are going to be king and queen one day. And they're effectively defining what sort of monarchy they want Britain to have in the future -- Alisyn and John.

CAMEROTA: Great reporting there from Max. It's very interesting to hear from Duchess Kate, because we never hear from her.

BERMAN: We literally have never had an interview with her since she has been part of the royal family.

CAMEROTA: What if her voice had been completely different than we'd expected? Like, really deep and -- and disturbing somehow.

BERMAN: We'd have to do breaking news. That would be breaking news.

CAMEROTA: All right. Meanwhile.

BERMAN: Parts of the Gulf Coast under a tropical storm warning this morning as a tropical disturbance closes in. CNN meteorologist Jennifer Gray joins us live with the very latest.

Jennifer, what's going on?

JENNIFER GRAY, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Hey, guys. This could be nester later today. But right now, a potential tropical cyclone. So tropical storm warnings are up for the Gulf Coast.

And here's the storm right here. Forty-mile-per-hour winds, gusts of 50 moving to the northeast at 14 miles per hour.

Here's the track expected to impact the Florida Panhandle by the time we get into Saturday morning as a tropical storm. As far as rain goes, we could see 4 to 6 inches along the Panhandle. Isolated amounts, possibly higher.

Forecast wind gusts, as well, increasing to about 20 to 25 by 3 p.m. today. And then by 9 p.m., already at 45 in Apalachicola. Topping out around 60 by Saturday morning there.

And then the winds will start to diminish by the time we get into Saturday afternoon into Sunday.

Also, storm surge across the Big Bend of Florida. Three to five feet possible. And then down to Tampa could see two to four feet of storm surge. So guys, this is going to be a fast mover in and out, but it could definitely cause a lot of rain across the Panhandle.

CAMEROTA: It sure looks like it. Jennifer, thank you very much.

So the president's chief of staff said we should get over it concerning the president's use of foreign policy and money to further his political goals. How will this affect the impeachment investigation? One prominent Democrat joins us with his thoughts.