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Key U.S. Diplomat to Testify in Impeachment Probe Today; Reports: Putin & Hungary PM Helped Sour Trump on Ukraine; CNN Poll: Half of Americans Support Impeaching & Removing Trump; Dems See Impeachment Proceedings Taking Longer Than Expected. Aired 6-6:30a ET

Aired October 22, 2019 - 06:00   ET

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


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DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: A new CNN poll on impeachment just out this morning.

[05:59:13]

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The president of the United States should be allowed to run the country, not have to focus on this kind of crap.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is lacking legitimacy, credibility and fairness.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And a vast majority of Republicans in the House, in a private vote, would vote to impeach him.

TRUMP: We never agreed to protect the Kurds for the rest of their lives.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We didn't guarantee the Kurds' safety for the next thousand years, but we absolutely told them we would protect them.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have a crisis of confidence in this country, and it's one that I think we have to change.

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

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is NEW DAY. It is Tuesday, October 22, 6 a.m. here in New York.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: I'm reliably told it is, in fact, 6 a.m.

CAMEROTA: It is 6 a.m., and we are hours away from another consequential day in the impeachment inquiry.

America's top diplomat in Ukraine, Bill Taylor, is set to testify behind closed doors. So you'll remember that Bill Taylor is the one who expressed concern in text messages about the Trump administration withholding military aid in Ukraine in exchange for political favors. Bill Taylor called that, quote, "crazy."

Also likely to come up, new reporting that Russian President Vladimir Putin and Hungary's prime minister urged President Trump to adopt a hostile view towards Ukraine at the very same time that President Trump was pressuring the Ukrainians to dig up dirt on Democrats.

BERMAN: We also have breaking news. A new CNN poll releasing this second. It shows that support for impeaching and removing the president from office -- yes, impeaching and removing -- is at an all- time high. This is the first time in our poll that support for removal has significantly outpaced opposition for removal. Of note, though, the president's job approval rating seems to be holding steady. We're going to dig into these numbers, brand-new numbers in just a moment, but we want to start with the hugely important testimony today.

Joining us now CNN political correspondent Abby Phillip and CNN political director David Chalian.

Friends, let me read for you, along with Alisyn, this key text message that Bill Taylor, who will be the witness today behind closed doors to these congressional committees, just one of the text messages he sent that has caused so much uproar.

He wrote, quote, "Are we now saying that security assistance and White House meeting are conditioned on investigation?"

To which Gordon Sondland, the ambassador to the European Union, responded --

CAMEROTA: "Call me."

BERMAN: So we have that evidence already, David Chalian. You have Bill Taylor, who had a long career in foreign service, who returned to Ukraine to serve as acting ambassador after the other ambassador was withdrawn. Today he goes behind closed doors. How important is this moment?

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Yes. This is what happens when you have career professionals, as you're describing, John, bang up against the political desires President Trump was clearly trying to get enacted here. You get sort of a flare sent up like that.

I mean, what Bill Taylor says in that text and why today's testimony is so important is he's the one that said, hey, everyone, there seems to be a quid pro quo here. Is that what we're really doing?

And you know, Sondland after discussing it with the president, tried to tamp that down and say, no, no quid pro quo whatsoever or earlier said, call me, like you just showed.

But what Bill Taylor's going to be able to do for investigators who are talking to him today, for House members who are on these committees, is provide a full context to his thinking, his understanding, what his experienced mind was going through as he was seeing what he clearly thought he was seeing, which was a tie of this aid to a request for investigations to achieve President Trump's domestic political goal.

CAMEROTA: And just for a little bit more background, Abby, he was -- he served as U.S. ambassador to Ukraine from 2006 to 2009. He is deeply respected in diplomatic circles. He had retired. He was called back into service because of -- after the -- Marie Yovanovitch was recalled and sort of ousted from that position.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: And he was reluctant to do it.

CAMEROTA: He was reluctant to do it, our --

PHILLIP: As our reporting shows.

CAMEROTA: But Mike Pompeo and Kurt Volker talked him into it, said they needed him. So, you know, it seems as though he will be, from everything we know about him, candid, forthright in explaining all that he saw around him.

PHILLIP: Yes, it does feel like Bill Taylor's text message exchanges, even though they weren't even provided by him, really blew this whole thing open.

It really showed that internally, within the people who were responsible for this policy, there were concerns at the time about what was going on.

And in fact, the concerns, you know, go beyond just the appearance of something looking bad. In one of the text messages, Taylor says, effectively, that if the aid is held up, the Russians will love it, and you know, he's like, "And I'll quit," which was something of a joke. But it was a sign of how important he felt that this effort was to get this money released one way or another, to ensure that U.S. policy was being carried out, because rightfully so, he believed that the policy was tied to continuing to keep Russia in its place and out -- out of Ukraine, and -- and the opposite of what Giuliani was trying to do, which is keep the money held up in exchange for political investigations had absolutely nothing to do with U.S. policy.

So it's really connecting it to the national security imperative here that I think Bill Taylor is, in some ways, uniquely able to do because he's a career official.

BERMAN: On paper, he may very well be the most important witness so far, but we don't know, because so many of the other witnesses turned out to be much more explosive than we ever anticipated. So we'll have to wait and see.

Another development overnight, this comes from the "New York Times" and "The Washington Post," both papers reporting in different ways that President Trump soured on Ukraine or increased his sourness on Ukraine after serious discussions with Vladimir Putin, and Viktor Orban, who was the leader of Hungary.

Let me read a couple of quotes from "The Times" and "The Post" here. "The Times" writes, "Just ten days before a key meeting on Ukraine, President Trump met, over the objections of his national security adviser, with one of the former Soviet republic's most virulent critics, Prime Minister Viktor Orban of Hungary, and heard a sharp assessment that bolstered his hostility toward the country," Ukraine.

"The Washington Post" version of this is, "Trump's conversations with Putin, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and others reinforced his perception of Ukraine as a hopelessly corrupt country, one that Trump now also appears to believe sought to undermine him in the 2016 U.S. election, the officials said."

Viktor Orban is a pariah among many, David Chalian, in Europe. Someone who is seen as working against the European order. He traffics sometimes in anti-Semitic tropes. He puts out anti-Muslim rhetoric. The president invited him to the White House over the objections of many, and he heard this about the Ukraine. Where does this all fit in?

CHALIAN: Yes. Well, two things here. One, you -- it's hard not to harken back to Nancy Pelosi's comment the other day about all roads here seem to lead to Putin, and this is more evidence for that.

Once again, President Trump is in the position of letting Putin in his ear and influence his thinking of -- of the way the world order should be. And as Abby just pointed out in this case, in direct contradiction to what U.S. foreign policy is as it relates to Ukraine.

Secondly, I think in the reporting in "The Times" you just read, John, I think it's really, really interesting to see the clause "in opposition to his national security adviser." I think John Bolton is going to become -- you know, the former national security adviser here -- more and more central to this entire impeachment inquiry than he has been to date. He keeps coming up in the testimony, and now we're seeing where he was in direct opposition to the president here on listening to the Hungarian prime minister.

CAMEROTA: All right. A lot will unfold today, as it always does. David Chalian, Abby Phillip, thank you very much.

BERMAN: All right. Other breaking news, this brand-new poll which shows support for impeachment and removing the president growing. We'll dig into these numbers next.

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[06:12:14]

CAMEROTA: Just out this morning, a brand-new CNN poll finds public support for impeaching and removing President Trump from office on the rise, but the president's approval rating overall is staying steady.

Let's bring back David Chalian to break down the numbers for us. What are you seeing, David? CHALIAN: Good morning, guys.

Yes, here's that numeric high. Fifty percent, half the country in this poll just released by CNN, conducted by SSRS, "Should Trump be impeached and removed from office?" Fifty percent say yes. Forty- three percent say no.

Take a look at this over time, and you'll see that it's the high-water mark. Over the course of this year, the pro-impeachment and removal number has grown. Last month, it was at 47 percent. It is now at 50 percent.

Take a look at where this stands by party. Eighty-seven percent of Democrats would like to see the president impeached and removed. Fifty percent of independents representing where the country overall is, and only 6 percent of Republicans, so obviously divided politically.

And I want to give you another example of that. We asked folks, "Do you think congressional Democrats are doing this mostly because they believe Donald Trump committed impeachable offenses, or they're just out to get the president at all costs?" Where you sit politically matters for everything.

Look here. Among Democrats, 86 percent say they're doing it because the president committed impeachable offenses. But among Republicans, only 8 percent believe that. Eighty-seven percent of Republicans say Democrats are doing this to just get the president at all costs.

You mentioned his approval rating. It is holding steady. It's now 41 percent approve, 57 percent disapprove. This is basically where we've seen him throughout the bulk of his presidency.

This here may be the most important number overall. Ninety percent of Republicans approve of the president's job performance. If you're looking for cracks with Republicans in Congress, you may need an awfully big magnifying glass when they see that number there.

And then take a look at where President Trump is historically, OK? Compared to his modern-era predecessors at this point in their presidency, he's down near the bottom of the pack, only above Carter. But I will note that the four gentlemen ahead of him who were also in the 40s, all got reelected to second terms, Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: These are really telling numbers, David. It's so interesting to see just how divided the parties are in terms of their impressions of all of this.

BERMAN: And frankly, more so over the last two weeks. If there's been movement, that's where the movement has been.

CAMEROTA: David, thank you very much.

So the impeachment inquiry, the time line could be changing. Some Democrats now concede that impeaching President Trump may take longer than they had initially thought. So what does all that mean? We discuss it next.

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[06:19:26]

BERMAN: New this morning, multiple Democratic lawmakers tell CNN that the impeachment inquiry in the House is taking longer than anticipated and will take longer than they anticipated, and that an impeachment vote might not take place until the end of the year.

Back with us Abby Phillip and David Chalian. So Abby, what does that mean here? Because when the Democrats went into this, they wanted to keep it very focused. Nancy Pelosi did, at least, around issues surrounding Ukraine, but it might drag out a bit. Does that create issues?

PHILLIP: Potentially. I mean, I think that the context of the poll that we just released this morning is important, because even while support for impeachment is going up over time, little by little, the partisanship of this is also expanding.

And that's one of the things that Nancy Pelosi, in some ways, believes is a red flag about impeachment; that -- that it needs to have some kind of bipartisan support in the public. And it seems that those numbers are moving, actually, in the wrong direction.

So if there is more time on the table for Democrats, I think it does raise potential problems. It increases the likelihood that this just becomes a slog, a big mess in which there's a lot of disinformation being thrown out, which already is happening at extraordinary rates.

I was surprised to see that so many people believe the things that President Trump says about this inquiry, because many of them, most of them are not true. So that's an ongoing problem for Democrats, and being able to manage that is going to be one of the biggest challenges of this impeachment inquiry, especially if it goes into the next political cycle, the 2020 election.

CAMEROTA: And David, it sounds like Democrats believe they need public hearings in order to pull this off. But I would just challenge that premise, because the other option is that they can just release the transcripts of the behind-closed-doors depositions, and they can do a report.

And all I'll just remind people is that public hearings don't always necessarily go the way you think they're going to go. See Corey Lewandowski, for example. And so if they think that they need the public hearings to solidify support, it makes sense, but it also might not go their way.

CHALIAN: Well, I think the public deserves to see, Alisyn, some of these witnesses out in the open. These are the public's representatives in Congress, taking on one of the most severe remedies, the most severe remedy to a constitutional crisis between the executive and the legislative branches. I certainly hope there will be public hearings. Politically, to answer your question, you're right. It doesn't always

go the way that -- of the party who designs the hearing. And Corey Lewandowski's hearing was a good example of that.

But I think that there's a higher calling here for transparency, and you could do both. You could release those transcripts and hold some public hearing so that the public has as much opportunity for buy-in as possible.

I do think that the longer this goes, the more of Nancy Pelosi's initial reluctance for going here creeps back in. A, because of what Abby says about the polarization and that there is no sort of Republican by him.

But also, B, as time goes on and this drags out, I do think that, you know, you have the potential for voters to question whether or not this is just purely a politically motivated exercise.

BERMAN: Also, when's Iowa?

PHILLIP: Yes, I think that's a big --

BERMAN: When's Iowa? I mean, Iowa's like the first week of February.

PHILLIP: And you have voters --

CHALIAN: Yes, in 104 days.

PHILLIP: Voters being forced into this kind of split personality situation, where you have, you know, a ton of Democrats basically saying, I want to run against Trump, and then at the same time there is an inquiry going on to potentially remove him from office. It's very difficult to -- for Democrats to maintain that as we get into the voting portion of this -- of this 2020 cycle.

BERMAN: Let me just get the flip side of this, though, which is that as they've done these hearings, what you're talking about behind closed doors, there's been an enormous amount of information that's come out every time.

CAMEROTA: Yes.

BERMAN: Including from sources that I think --

CAMEROTA: Absolutely.

BERMAN: -- that most of us didn't expect there to be information from.

CAMEROTA: And without public hearings, then already you've seen the polls shift, which I'm sure Nancy Pelosi is looking at. But David's won me over. He won me over.

BERMAN: I've always been -- I've always been on team David on public hearings. But all I'm saying is the more they investigate, the more they find out. And if the goal is to get to the truth here. CAMEROTA: Yes. That takes a while.

BERMAN: That takes a while.

CHALIAN: But it does seem to be growing, right? And not narrowing --

BERMAN: Right.

CHALIAN: -- as they learn more from these witnesses.

CAMEROTA: OK, but the House did take a vote yesterday, and that was whether or not to censure Congressman Adam Schiff for how he has thus far handled the impeachment inquiry. And every Republican, yes?

BERMAN: Every Republican who voted, I think, voted --

CAMEROTA: Everyone who voted, voted to censure. But some --

BERMAN: Didn't vote.

CAMEROTA: -- sustained or whatever it's called.

So Adam Schiff's response to -- so it didn't go through, because obviously, Democrats control the House. However, Adam Schiff responded to this censure by tweeting, "It will be said of House Republicans when they found they lacked the courage to confront the most dangerous and unethical president in American history, they consoled themselves by attacking those who did."

Poetic, Abby?

PHILLIP: Yes. I mean, it is -- that's what -- I mean, I think Adam Schiff is at the center of this, but mostly because that's what President Trump wants. I mean, there's really no reason for Adam Schiff to be at the center of Republican anger over this. It's a distraction from the substance, as you pointed out.

The reason this is happening is because the information that is coming out of these depositions has not been positive for the president.

[06:25:04]

So you can criticize Adam Schiff for what he did in that hearing. It's unnecessary given the facts, but at the same time, the facts are what they are, and that's at the center of this impeachment inquiry.

This is a vote about process. It wasn't a vote about what they've learned so far, to be sure.

David, Abby, thank you very much.

We talk about elections. There was an election.

CAMEROTA: I've heard. Our neighbors.

BERMAN: We have breaking election news. We have breaking election news from overnight. The Canadian prime minister, Justin Trudeau, this one was a squeaker. We have a live report from Canada, next.

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CAMEROTA: Tonight, Canada --

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JUSTIN TRUDEAU, PRIME MINISTER OF CANADA: -- our Liberal team back to work, back to Ottawa with a clear mandate. We will make life more affordable. We will continue to fight climate change.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

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