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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER

"No Quid Pro Quo" Defense May Not Matter For Impeachment; Sources: Giuliani Now Searching For A Defense Attorney; Two Giuliani Associated Promoted Connections To Giuliani And Trump To Make Money; Lawyer For Giuliani Associate Links Trump To Case By Suggesting Executive Privilege May Apply; Biden Campaign Stops Discouraging Possible Super PAC; Right Now: Rep. Cummings Lies In State At U.S. Capitol; U.S. May Start Moving Battle Tanks And Troops To Syria To Protect Other Troops Near Oil Fields. Aired 4:30-5p ET

Aired October 24, 2019 - 16:30   ET

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


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[16:30:56]

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: If nothing else, President Trump wants his supporters to remember one thing about this impeachment inquiry. He says there was "no quid pro quo" in his dealings with Ukraine. It's the new no collusion. It's contradicted, of course, by testimony from officials who say at the very least it seem to them that there was a quid pro quo.

As CNN's Tom Foreman reports for us now, the no quid pro quo chance might not even be a standard that needs to be met for the President to be impeached.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There was no quid pro quo.

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The President has grabbed on to the phrase no quid pro quo like a new campaign slogan.

TRUMP: There was no quid pro quo.

FOREMAN: Or a life raft, depending on how you see it, splattering the words across his public comments --

TRUMP: There was no quid pro quo.

FOREMAN: -- his Twitter feed and into the statements of his followers.

RUDY GIULIANI, PRESIDENT TRUMP'S PERSONAL ATTORNEY: There's no quid pro quo.

FOREMAN: The Latin phrase is most often heard in legal circles and roughly means something for something, an exchange of favors. For team Trump, no quid pro quo is a denial, a quick way to say the President did not hold up military aid to Ukraine as a way of forcing that government to investigate his potential Democratic rival, Joe Biden and his son. But there are problems.

TRUMP: If you take a look at that call, it was perfect.

FOREMAN: For starters, according to testimony and documents presented to congressional investigators, Trump was pushing the no quid pro quo line in private conversations well before the Ukraine scandal became public.

At the very time, critics say he seemed to be asking for an exchange of favors. What's more, impeachment, by law, would not require proof of a quid pro quo. It could be invoked merely over the President abusing his power by asking for such a personal political favor from a foreign government, whether or not he offered anything in return.

TRUMP: No collusion. No obstruction.

FOREMAN: It's not surprising Trump might grab on to the phrase, he's had luck doing that sort of thing before, claiming time and again that the Russia investigation had cleared his name, which the Mueller report did not do.

TRUMP: The no collusion.

No collusion. No obstruction.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

FOREMAN: Still, it may not work quite as well this time, because the problem is the constitution defines the terms for impeachment and quid pro quo does not even show up. Jake?

TAPPER: All right, Tom Foreman, thank you so much.

Coming up, two of Rudy Giuliani's associates trying to dig up dirt on Joe Biden are already facing charges and now new CNN reporting on how they were cashing in on their ties to Giuliani and to President Trump.

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[16:37:56]

TAPPER: Welcome back. President Trump's personal lawyer may now need a lawyer. Sources telling CNN that Rudy Giuliani is shopping around for a defense attorney as he faces questions about his association with two men recently indicted for campaign finance crimes, including allegations of hiding the origins of $325,000 donations to a pro-Trump Super PAC.

Soviet born Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman touted their connections to Giuliani and the Trump administration.

I want to bring in CNN's Vicky Ward and Anne Milgram. Milgram is a former prosecutor and was attorney general of New Jersey. But, Vicky, let me start with you. You have a great story up on cnn.com about these guys that raked in hundreds of thousands of dollars, they jetted around the world touting their connections to Giuliani and to Trump. Tell us about this Ukrainian billionaire that record on.

VICKY WARD, CNN SENIOR REPORTER: Yes. So, Ukrainians place great stock in the culture of connections and Parnas and Fruman came to him and promised him that they could broke a meeting with the new president of Ukraine, Zelensky, and wait for it, Energy Secretary Rick Perry and Vice President Mike Pence. Amazing, right? They also dropped Rudy Giuliani's name and they wanted to be paid a big fee for this.

TAPPER: And the meeting ultimately did happen but we're not clear that Parnas and Fruman had anything to do with it, though.

WARD: They said -- no, it absolutely -- they did not have anything to do with it.

TAPPER: Oh, OK. OK.

WARD: But it didn't stop them trying to network and use their connections. The day they were arrested, Jake, they were en route to Vienna, and as they say in the piece, to actually broker an appearance by Viktor Shokin, the former Ukrainian prosecutor, to go on Sean Hannity's program on Fox News.

TAPPER: Shokin, that's the guy that Joe Biden was --

WARD: Exactly.

TAPPER: -- led the charge to have fired. He was not anti-corruption enough. In another instance, you write about Parnas and Fruman convincing a Florida businessman to loan them $100,000 in order to connect them with Giuliani. How did they go about doing that?

[16:40:01]

WARD: Well, this is the most amazing one of all, pleading abject poverty. They needed money to pay for -- Lev Parnas needed money to pay for his son's circumcision. They got a check for $100,000, which they didn't repay him. The gentleman who gave them the money had to go to court to get his money back.

TAPPER: That's -- I guess that's one way to do it. Anne, let me bring you in. When Parnas and Fruman were in court, their lawyer -- the lawyer for Parnas drag President Trump in the defense suggesting executive privilege might apply because Giuliani was an attorney for both Parnas and an attorney for President Trump. You say that this argument likely cannot apply here.

ANNE MILGRAM, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Yes. I mean, I think, first of all, it's a really strange argument for someone like that to make. Usually the President makes it or the White House makes it, it's not Parnas' to make himself. That's the first point. The second point is it really only covers official deliberations, things that the President or the senior officials in government are doing. And so even if Parnas is represented by Giuliani and Giuliani also represents the President, there's no indication that these types of communications took place.

And finally, and maybe most importantly, executive privilege is not absolute. So even were the President to invoke it here, there's a case United States versus Nixon that both says it's not absolute and says that in criminal prosecutions the government often gets access to that evidence.

TAPPER: And federal prosecutors told the judge that they have a "filter team" combing through this potentially privileged material. Couldn't there be some overlap if these two men were trying to carry out the President's agenda in Ukraine?

MILGRAM: Yeah. That's a really interesting question. If the President and the White House basically come forward and say we're going to exert executive privilege, that's exactly how it would happen.

So the judge is smart to have the prosecutors have that already, it means there's a separate group of prosecutors, they go through everything, they see things that are attorney/client privilege and they take them out so that the prosecutors who are handling the case never see that stuff.

TAPPER: All right. Anne Milgram and Vicky Ward, thank you so much. Excellent stuff. Appreciate it.

Joe Biden's campaign may be celebrating new polls, but there is a major concern that they're also dealing with. Stay with us.

[16:45:00]

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TAPPER: In our "2020 LEAD" today, the Biden campaign is dropping its opposition to a super PAC to bolster his candidacy. A super PAC is an outside group created to raise unlimited sums of money with far fewer rules. Despite polls showing Joe Biden as one of the two frontrunners in the Democratic field, his campaign in recent weeks has been hemorrhaging cash.

Let's discuss. And Astead, Citizens United, the good government group, they just issued a statement pointing out that in 2016 Biden said he told Bernie Sanders not to take money from a super PAC because if you do "people can't possibly trust you. Well, four years ago -- three years ago. So why has Biden changed his mind?

HERNDON: They only -- they don't even have to go back that far. As recently as April, he was tweeting that he wasn't going to take money from a super PAC, and that wasn't how he viewed how election should run right now. Clearly, things have changed. Why? Because they're hemorrhaging cash

as you say. But they also just have a different cost-benefit analysis. They think that they have a firewall once they get through the early states.

Once you pass Iowa, New Hampshire, where he is kind of not doing as well particularly with those white college-educated voters, they think that the working-class, non-white coalition and Democratic states will stick with them. And they also don't think that they're motivated that much by the anti-Wall Street messages of Warren and Sanders.

They think that they have that constituency kind of locked down. If only they can survive to that point. So they know that this is going to cause them some attacks but particularly from the more progressive or left-wing candidates. They think their constituency really does not care about that because they have oriented their entire campaign around just beat Donald Trump.

S.E. CUPP, CNN HOST: Well, Biden has different -- I'm sorry.

TAPPER: Go ahead.

CUPP: Bidan has a different agenda than Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders who are sort of on a progressive purity test campaign. And really they are out to prove who's most progressive on a lot of issues which pleases a lot of their voters.

Biden knows that his name of the game is electability. And why do people who like Biden like him? Because they think he can beat Trump. What is Biden's explanation for why he's doing this? Trump is going to do it, so are we.

And I think if you're someone who's you know one of those Democratic voters who just wants to beat Trump, you kind of like that this guy is -- I'm going to break some rules and I'm going to do what it takes to drive this ship ahead.

TAPPER: And Keith, with the Trump campaign running attack ads against Joe Biden on social media and on television, one Biden ally told CNN "Trump is crushing him with spending." The argument is basically we can't unilaterally disarm.

KEITH BOYKIN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, I understand that they put that statement out today that said that after the election comes -- happens and Biden is elected, they're going to institute all those reforms then. But you know, I don't really have a strong opinion about what Biden is doing, to be honest.

But I do feel like if you're running as an electable candidate, you should be able to show that you're raising money from people and that you have the ability to spend your money in the wise judicious manner. So the fact that he's running through money so quickly is not evidence that he's an excellent electable candidate.

TAPPER: And Brianna, Bernie Sanders campaign just released a statement in response saying, "the former vice president has been unable to generate grassroots support and now his campaign is endorsing an effort to buy the primary through a super PAC that can rake in unlimited cash from billionaires and corporations. That's not how we defeat Trump. It's a recipe to maintain a corrupt political system which enriches wealthy donors and leaves the working-class behind."

That's the argument, why not to do it. It's -- nobody wants to unilaterally disarm. The idea is there's too much money in politics, its corrupting everything. That's the Bernie Sanders and Liz Warren's argument. And Joe -- I mean, basically, the same Joe Biden, you're part of the problem.

BIANNA GOLODRYGA, CNN SENIOR GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Well, and this is Joe Biden saying, we've calculated the risks and we'll take the hits right now. We don't have another debate where we're going to have this be brought up publicly before the nation for another few weeks Hopefully, we'll be talking about something else there.

I agree with you. This is a money issue for them that they've got to deal with right now. And they're thinking longer-term. I think it does benefit him to some degree to say that these are unusual times and his whole message of saying we just have to get Trump out of office is something that could hopefully help him as far as their thought process in convincing voters why he's doing this now.

But of course, they've also said once he does become president that all the change -- all the rules would be -- will change and go back.

HERNDON: Of course, the problem for Joe Biden is that this isn't just a money problem, it's an enthusiasm problem. That the reason the grassroots support is incoming to be able to stave off this decision is because there's not that much energy for him.

And if that is true, it is -- won't be just ads that are going to be able to overcome that. It's a much deeper and more structural problem with the campaign. And that and that's what we're going to test now if the super PAC does happen and we see the kind of money start flowing.

BOYKIN: And just one quick point about that too. I think there is an enthusiasm question about it but it's the same question we also had with Hillary Clinton in 2016 because Bernie had all the enthusiasm but she got all the votes.

So enthusiasm doesn't necessarily translate to people who are -- who are going to turn out to vote for you at the primary or in the general election.

TAPPER: I do think though that this might feed into the swampy picture of Joe Biden 40 years in politics, Hunter Biden, you know, all these problematic votes that we're going to see coming up.

CUPP: And if you're Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, that's exactly what you should say. But I think -- I think Biden's calculus here is he's going to say, you guys want to play by the rules? Great. Let's see how far that gets you. The rules are going to constrain us. Trump is not going to play by the rules. And if you want someone who's going to take a tough fight to Trump, you have to play on his terms. These are the terms. I'll find my conscience later.

HERNDON: You know who's speaking to themselves though, the other candidates who swore off super PAC money and haven't been able to raise anything. You think of Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, all of those, you know, that kind of money could have been going to them.

TAPPER: Absolutely. We just want to take a moment right now to remember somebody that remember -- that was remembered today as a master of the House and a North Star. Right now, Congressman Elijah Cummings, the Democrat from Baltimore who died last week is lying in state at the U.S. Capitol.

He is the first African American ever to be given such an honor according to Congressional historians. Cummings was the son of sharecroppers. He found his voice as a passionate advocate for civil rights and a moral force in the Halls of Congress. He was someone whose personal friendships knew no party, however.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): His voice could shake mountains, stir the most cynical hearts inspiring us all to be better. Those gathered here today have lost a dear friend and our country has lost a giant.

REP. MARK MEADOWS (R-NC): Perhaps this place and this country would be better served with a few more unexpected friendships. I know I've been blessed by one.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: Our hearts go out to Chairman Elijah Cummings' family and friends today, especially his widow, Maya. May his memory be a blessing.

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TAPPER: And our "WORLD LEAD" today, the President is defending his decision to leave service members in Syria to protect oil fields tweeting he "will never let a reconstituted ISIS have those fields." And now CNN is learning more tanks and troops may be moving into the region to protect members of the U.S. military stationed near those oil fields. CNN's Barbara Starr joins me now. Barbara, what is this new mission that you're learning about?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, if you're going to keep troops there to protect the oil fields, who's going to protect the troops? The idea is you're going to have to move in something and there's a range of ideas being discussed at the very highest levels. It could be battle tanks, but that is going to require a lot of support, a lot of extra troops going in.

So that may be a very heavy lift for the U.S. military to do that. But there may be lighter armored vehicles that could also move in. One of the big questions is what is the threat that they have to address? Right now the President's talking about ISIS, but also Russia, the Syrian regime, they all have battle tanks if they move into the oil field, would the U.S. really fire back at them?

TAPPER: That's a big question. And Barbara, the President also suggested on Twitter, "Perhaps it is time for the Kurds to start heading to the oil region." So he's suggesting that an entire group of people leave where they live and move hundreds of miles away.

STARR: Yes, you know, essentially what self deport themselves. We've heard that concept before. This would be a very controversial idea. It is hard to see how it wouldn't be anything other than humanitarian disaster. Many people feel it would result if it ever happened in the Kurds never been able to return to their homeland, Jake.

TAPPER: Certainly not with the Turks pushing in. Barbara star at the Pentagon, thank you so much. You can follow me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter @JAKETAPPER, you can tweet the show @THELEADCNN. Our coverage on CNN continues right now. Thanks so much for watching. We will see you tomorrow.