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Donald Trump Believes The House Will Impeach Him; A Stunning Show Of Anger Out Of Syria. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired October 21, 2019 - 14:00   ET

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


[14:00:00]

JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: I think Facebook wants to have it both ways. They want to be on a platform where large numbers of people come together and they make money off of that, you know, advertising and the like.

But they don't want to take that step understanding that their platform is being used to manipulate public opinion to try to help regulate that.

There is a fair question about, well, who gets to decide, what's the truth? But some of this information that you see and Donie has great reporting. He has been covering this for so long. Some of this stuff is just garbage.

And you know that it's manipulation at play. But so far, these social media platforms don't seem to want to step up and rock the boat, so to speak. And so this will continue.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: And a lot of Americans are thirsty for it, even if it's coming from Russia. Thank you so much, Josh Campbell. Donie O'Sullivan, appreciate it.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN Breaking News.

KEILAR: Hi there. I'm Brianna Keilar, and this is a Special Edition of CNN RIGHT NOW. Just moments ago, the President said he believes that House will impeach him showing signs that the cracks in his Republican wall of support maybe getting to him.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

QUESTION: Do you believe it's a foregone conclusion that the House will impeach?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, I think they want to, any Democrat wants to because they're not going to beat me in the election. So of course they want to impeach. Why would they want to impeach me? It's so illegitimate. It cannot be the way the founders, our great founders meant this to be.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KEILAR: So the President also said that Republicans should act more like Democrats, at least in one regard.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I think they're lousy politicians. But two things they have -- they are vicious and they stick together. They don't have Mitt Romney in their midst. They don't have people like that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KEILAR: As the President pressures Republicans to fight more, there are a string of reversals, indicating that he is feeling pressure from inside his own party, as he even just mentioned there about Mitt Romney.

He is no longer at this point pursuing holding the G7 International Summit at his own Florida resort. His Chief of Staff is still trying to reverse his admission that there was a quid pro quo involving military aid to Ukraine.

And after President Trump celebrated the U.S. troop withdrawal in Syria, the Defense Department is now saying that a few hundred American forces will remain in the war-torn nation in Eastern Syria to protect oilfields.

I want to bring Dana Bash in. She is our Chief Political Correspondent. The President says he fully expects to be impeached by the House, which I mean, I think that was our expectation, but just hearing him say that. This is something that he considers an inevitability. What did that whole press-avail, his Cabinet meeting just tell you about where he is at.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: That he is growing more and more sober to the reality of his situation. How that determines his action or his reaction, that's a whole different question.

Because the way that he, you know, sort of went after Republicans, went after Mitt Romney tells you that he is not heeding the advice of his old friend, Chris Christie, who went on TV this morning saying, you know what, it's time to stop making people mad. You need your friends right now, and he is not doing that.

And he also doesn't -- as much as he says that the Democrats don't have a Mitt Romney, he is not a student of history. He hasn't had it really good when it comes to Republican cohesion and Republicans being lockstep behind him, because he is so popular among the Republican base, and that is the constituency of most of these Republicans, especially in the House.

KEILAR: That's the different situation we're seeing now because normally, you have congressional Republicans who are so wary of the support the President has. They don't want to upset those supporters of President Trump's and they just sort of kowtow to whatever he does.

Now, that is not exactly the case. But there are still a lot of issues where they aren't fully taking aim at the President and he says he wants them to fight more specifically when it comes to impeachment. One, what does the President want? And two, what will Republicans do?

BASH: Right, he is sending a warning shot to Republicans who are seeing their own -- who are having their own questions about whether or not they're on a sinking ship and that is the Trump ship or not.

And what has been really fascinating to watch Brianna, over the past week, is the way Republicans are channeling their anger, their frustration, their concern about the President on impeachment, which they're saying privately, doing so publicly, especially on the issue of Syria, and to a lesser degree that, you know, very, ill-fated decision to have the G7 Summit at Doral, how bad that looked.

And that isn't just something that I'm observing. That's something that was articulated to me by a senior Republican on the Hill.

KEILAR: Tell me more about that. They feel free to go after him on Syria, but not Ukraine.

BASH: Yes, because the Syria -- the Syria debacle, the way that he made that decision so impulsively and the fact that this is a kind of a mainstay of Republicans national security, Rand Paul aside, President Trump aside, this is historically where the Republican Party has been, which is fight them over there, so you don't have to fight them here and protect national security. That's at least been since 9/11.

[14:05:27]

KEILAR: And he has already hit their fiscal conservative roots.

BASH: Exactly. Exactly. So this is -- so this and -- and the amount of anger about it and the way that even Mitch McConnell lashed out in a very scathing op-ed, that was about Syria, but it was about more than Syria.

KEILAR: Very good analysis. Dana Bash. Thank you so much. And now for another perspective. Let's bring in Joe Walsh. He is one of the Republicans challenging Trump for President. Thanks for joining us.

JOE WALSH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Hi, Brianna.

KEILAR: You are a former Illinois congressman. I wonder if you see any significance in the President saying that he does believe now that he will be impeached?

WALSH: No, look, I think he knows it is coming and it needs to come. That's directed at Republicans. Brianna, he sounded like a frightened baby right there.

Look, this Doral thing, him hosting, wanting to host the G7 at his summit, that was different, Brianna, something changed. That was -- that was almost like such an in your face, I don't give a damn what you do about me, I can do whatever I want -- that even Republicans, even Republicans, Brianna, push back against him. It's really important to note though, I need to say this, Republicans

don't like him - Republicans in Congress. They don't like him. They don't fear him. They don't respect him. They do believe he is incompetent. They do believe he is a moron.

Everything I say about Trump publicly, the vast majority of my colleagues up on Capitol Hill, they feel the same way about him privately. They don't fear Trump, but they fear Trump's voters.

Brianna, I was campaigning in Iowa all weekend, and even just talking to Republican voters on the ground in Iowa, they were even bothered by this Doral thing, the G7 thing. The best that they could say was, it doesn't look good.

So Republicans in Congress, they fear Trump's voters and Trump's voters were bothered by what Trump did that will move them.

KEILAR: I want to ask you one of the things we just heard him say because he is not supposed to do that, obviously. The President is not supposed to be enriched by foreign interests. This was an international summit of nations that was going to -- that is going to happen in the U.S. that he was having happen at his property, Doral.

But he dismissed what governs this kind of behavior by a precedent which is the Constitution. He called this the quote "phony Emoluments Clause." What did you think about that?

WALSH: He has clearly never read the Constitution, Brianna, but he doesn't read. Somebody should show him a picture of the Constitution. But again, that's it. Look, everybody around Donald Trump, Brianna, they treat him like a child.

And Republicans in Congress are nervous, because they know he is becoming more unhinged, more reckless, more erratic every day. And this is always important to remember again, they don't like him.

The Republicans in the Senate, they don't like him. They don't fear him. They have no respect for him. So if this thing really turns on him, and Republican voters in the polls, they keep moving against him, Republicans in the Senate will abandon him in a heartbeat because they don't like him at all.

KEILAR: If there were a vote held today, do you think he would get through impeachment?

WALSH: Well, the vast majority of the Republicans in the House in a private vote would vote to impeach him, in the Senate to remove him. Again, if it were a private vote, the vast majority of Republicans in the United States Senate would vote to remove him.

Brianna, they don't want him at the top of their ticket in 2020. They'd like an alternative. I'd love it to be Joe Walsh. Go to joewalsh.org and find an alternative.

KEILAR: But not in a -- but not a private vote. So is the answer to that right now, no, they would not be swayed. So what would it take? WALSH: Yes, no, you're right. Right now, no, the Senate would not

vote to remove him. But again, as this -- look at how the polls have moved, and you've got to keep an eye on Republican voters, because these Republicans in the Senate will do what their voters want them to do, and they're moving on.

[14:10:08]

WALSH: You look at these polls, they want him impeached and removed in an increasing number. If those polls keep moving, because the Republicans in the Senate don't like Trump, and they want him gone, they'll get rid of him in a heartbeat. So it's very fluid.

KEILAR: I want to ask you about Mick Mulvaney. He is many things right now acting White House Chief of Staff, as well as other roles in the Trump administration.

You actually entered the House at the same time. You worked alongside him, you know him.

WALSH: Yes.

KEILAR: What do you think about what you have seen from him lately, where -- I mean, just let me run through some of these things, cooking up a quote, "drug deal" on Ukraine, according to John Bolton, reportedly, his --

And then his press conference, where he admitted that the President held up military aid to Ukraine in exchange for investigation of Democrats. Then trying unsuccessfully this weekend to clean that up because he actually was so definitive about how he said it at his press conference last week. What are your thoughts?

WALSH: Brianna, it's so disappointing. I served with Mick. I got elected with Mick. Mick is a good guy. He is a friend. He's a good conservative, but he is yet one more poster child for one of these Republicans who has sold their soul to Donald Trump. He is no different.

Mick Mulvaney, Brianna, is no different than my Freedom Caucus colleagues in the House, who now pledge a defense fealty to Donald Trump instead of the Constitution.

All of these conservatives and Republicans like Mick Mulvaney who've sold their soul to Trump. It is actually more disappointing to me than Trump himself. It's just sad.

KEILAR: Joe, thank you so much. Joe Walsh joining us, we really appreciate it.

WALSH: Thank you, Brianna.

KEILAR: A stunning show of anger out of Syria. Kurds throwing food at U.S. military vehicles after Trump abandons an American ally. What Trump is saying about the troops now? Also, how Hillary Clinton's attack on a Democratic presidential

candidate, Tulsi Gabbard is actually helping Gabbard's campaign. And will the real Pierre Delecto, please stand up?

Mitt Romney admits to using that name for a secret Twitter account and it's revealing a lot about the senator's online activity.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[14:17:13]

KEILAR: It was a stunning scene playing out before cameras in Syria today. Kurdish civilians pelting rotten vegetables at a convoy of U.S. military vehicles as the troops left Northern Syria.

The President's drawdown decision has set off blistering criticism by top former and current U.S. officials who called the move a strategic blunder and an abandonment of America's Kurdish allies in a successful military operation.

Today, the President continued to defend his decision to pull troops out.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're working with the Kurds. We have a good relationship with the Kurds, but we never agreed to, you know, protect the Kurds. We just fought with them for three and a half to four years. We never agreed to protect the Kurds for the rest of their lives.

They were fighting ISIS, you know, they hated ISIS. So they were fighting ISIS. But we never agreed -- where is that agreement that said we have to stay in the Middle East for the rest of humanity? For the rest of civilization?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KEILAR: Contrary to the President's claim that he is bringing the troops home, most of the military personnel are being redeployed to Iraq.

And today, the President and Defense Secretary, Mark Esper said several hundred troops may actually stay behind now not to fight alongside the Kurds or guard ISIS prisoners, their mission will be to protect oil fields in Eastern Syria, at least on paper we should point out.

So with me now is Robin Wright. She's a Distinguished Fellow at the U.S. Institute for Peace in the Woodrow Wilson International Center. She is also a contributing writer for "The New Yorker" where she just wrote a piece titled, "Turkey, Syria, the Kurds and Trump's Abandonment of Foreign Policy."

And she writes that quote, "The President's ignorance of the world has never been so blatant or produced such bipartisan opposition." Robin, thank you so much for coming into the studio to talk to us.

I want to talk big picture because this piece, I mean, if you wanted to understand what's going on, it is just a phenomenal piece to read. But first, I want to ask you what you think of those images of Kurdish civilians, pelting this U.S. convoy?

ROBIN WRIGHT, DISTINGUISHED FELLOW, U.S. INSTITUTE FOR PEACE IN THE WOODROW WILSON INTERNATIONAL CENTER: It's striking, most of all, because the relationship between the Kurds and the Americans in this third of Syria was phenomenal. They actually got along very well. It was one of the most successful U.S. military missions in decades, maybe since Vietnam.

They managed to push back together with minimal U.S. support the caliphate and they had created a stable corner where, you know, there was a hope for a future and by the U.S. withdrawal, there's the danger of ISIS reemerging and another war between the Kurds and the Turks and a great instability with long term repercussions.

KEILAR: What is it about this moment -- and you write about this in your piece. What is it about this moment where the President's lack of foreign policy experience is having such a damaging effect?

WRIGHT: Well, I think he talks about having no commitment to the Kurds, and it's true that we have no military commitment, but part of the deal was we would try to make sure that any political resolution ensured that the Kurds rights were represented.

[14:20:12]

WRIGHT: The Syrian government has marginalized and sometimes persecuted the Kurds and it was very important. That was the quid pro quo in a way of engagement that the two would cooperate.

The Kurds had a choice. They were approached the same day in 2014 by the leader of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, Kurd force and by U.S. Special Forces military officer. The Iranians offered more. He opted for the Americans, and now we're walking away.

KEILAR: And you call the President who, you know, he sent Vice President Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to Ankara figure out a ceasefire. I think some people use air quotes to talk about the ceasefire.

You say the President is taking credit for the ceasefire and that you say perverse, it's perverse.

WRIGHT: Well, he talked about that he was preventing the Turks from having to kill millions of people. To me, that sounds like ethnic cleansing. The reality is the deal is so vague that it doesn't say where the safe zone is, whether it's a ceasefire.

The Turks have come out and said, this is just a pause for five days. This is not a permanent ceasefire. It leaves -- the Kurds have a totally different understanding. They're pulling away from the conflict area, not from the whole area. And the Turks are also talking about pushing in two million refugees,

who they've generously supported, but they're trying to put them back in Kurdish areas where they have no homes, there's no economy, and they really should be going back to the part of Syria where they have some stake and have some future.

For the Kurds, this sounds like ethnic cleansing.

KEILAR: What does this mean, just broadly for American relationships with other countries for America's standing in the world?

WRIGHT: I think this leads a lot of countries including very close allies to say what about the United States' commitments after all, whether it's the Iran nuclear deal where the world with five other major powers made a commitment and then walked away from it.

What does the American promise mean anymore? And can it vary from one President to the next? And it may vary again with the next President.

And so I think that the credibility of the United States long term is now a doubt.

KEILAR: Robin Wright, thank you so much, really appreciate your perspective.

WRIGHT: Thank you.

KEILAR: And President Trump just claimed that he is the only President to give up his salary. That is not true. We will have the facts ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[14:27:08]

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I was going to do it at no cost or give it free if I got a ruling. This is a question as to whether or not you're allowed to give it because it's like a contribution to a country. I'd have to get a ruling. But I would have given it for nothing.

It's a lot of -- a lot of money I would have given away like I give away my salary. I give away my salary. It's I guess, close to $450,000.00. I give it away. Nobody ever said he gives away salary. Now, it comes up because it is, but I give away my presidential salary.

They say that no other President has done it. I'm surprised to be honest with you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KEILAR: They actually do not say. President Trump moments ago responding there to concerns about his plan to hold the G7 at his own resort in Doral, Florida, which he changed his mind about over the weekend. We'll have more on that in a moment.

First though, let's address this false claim the President just made that no other President gave away their salary.

It turns out Presidents Hoover and Kennedy also did, thanks for Daniel Dale for that quick fact check. And even though Trump is not drawing a salary from being President, he is still, as his acting Chief of Staff said in the hospitality business.

That's what Mick Mulvaney said Sunday when he went on TV trying to clean up his own disastrous news conference from last week.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICK MULVANEY, ACTING WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: But he was honestly surprised at the level of pushback. At the end of the day, you know, he still considers himself to be in the hospitality business.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KEILAR: Still in the hospitality business, just how blurred is the line between Trump's family business and his presidency? Let's bring in CNN Politics Reporter and Editor-at-Large, Chris Cillizza. Walk us through this.

CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS REPORTER AND EDITOR-AT-LARGE: Oh, yes, it's very, very, very intertwined, Brianna. So let's jump right into it.

Okay. First of all, Donald Trump. Well, let me say first, first, before we get to this, I want to say Donald Trump, usually Presidents take their money, their holdings and put them into a blind trust, which means a third party not related to their family who then handles their investments and their finances while they are President to preserve full transparency. They don't see anything.

Donald Trump did not do that. He essentially said, no, we're not going to do that. I'm going to let Don, Jr. and Eric Trump -- his two sons -- his two eldest sons, they're going to manage it. It'll be fine. But there's no blind trust.

Okay, so let's start there. All right, now to the many ways in which this entanglement becomes problematic.

The Saudis spent $270,000.00 on hotel rooms at Trump International Hotel here in Washington. Fifty plus rooms. The Saudis, right? Someone who would want to influence let's say, a President by maybe spending a quarter of a million dollars on rooms.

Let's keep going. Okay, this is -- you've seen -- Donald Trump has taken 305 days which he has gone to some kind of Trump property. We have the Trump International Hotel graphic, it could be a Trump hotel, it could be a Trump property somewhere, but he spent 305 days, 238 of those days he has played golf at those properties.

Again, just more publicity more Trump, more Trump, more Trump and again, he makes money off of them.

[14:30:09]