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Warren, Biden Fighting for Lead in 2020 National Polling; Tim Ryan Dropping Out of Presidential Race; Giuliani's Role in Rogue Policy Operation At Center of Impeachment Inquiry; Pence: NBA Acting Like "Wholly Owned Subsidiary" of China. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired October 24, 2019 - 12:30   ET


[12:30:00] JOHN KING, CNN HOST: -- in today's Quinnipiac poll. Joe Biden leading in CNN's poll released again just yesterday. Exact numbers aside, the Warren/Biden/Sanders grouping has been at the top of the pack now for months. There's been more change in the lower tiers and one of those changes today has a very important impact.

Amy Klobuchar's three percent in the Quinnipiac poll is good news for the Minnesota senator. That is expected to make her qualify, the ninth candidate now to qualify for the November debate stage. That's important not just for Senator Klobuchar, I would argue it's also helpful, at least for now, to Vice President Biden, and if you have another one of the moderate voices who in recent weeks have been much more aggressive in challenging the Warren/Sanders approach specifically on healthcare but more globally too on the idea that how left can you take the party.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Without question. And I think Senator Klobuchar has been making the argument as has Pete Buttigieg, and it's been I think of it, you know, harmful to Senator Warren or at least just change her plan. She was planning on trying to go through this primary process without being specific on Medicare for All. You've questioned her after every debate, she has very successfully dodged all of those questions about how it's going to be paid for.

The reality is now she is going to have to have a plan. So Senator Klobuchar has a very important place in this race. Is she going to emerge as the winner of Iowa? We'll have to see how that goes. But at this point, you know, she is playing the role of shaping with the conversation. So for her, she's relieved that she's obviously on the debate stage because if you're not on the debate stage it's impossible to play.

KING: To that very point, not on the debate stage impossible to play, I want to bring in CNN's Dan Merica who has some breaking news for us on one of the candidates who's been struggling at the bottom apparently ready to say goodbye.


DAN MERICA, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: Yes. Tim Ryan is dropping out of the presidential campaign and will now run for re-election in his Ohio House seat. Take a listen to what he said in a video that was just posted online and sent to supporters.


REP. TIM RYAN (D-OH), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm announcing today that I'm withdrawing from the presidential campaign. After seven long months of hard work, I'll be returning home to my family and friends and community in Ohio to run for re-election for my congressional seat. I got into this race in April to really give voice to the forgotten people of our country. The workers who have been left behind, the businesses who have been left behind, the people who need healthcare or aren't getting a quality education or saddled by tremendous debt. I wanted to give voice to the forgotten communities that have been left behind by globalization and automation. And I'm proud of this campaign because I believe we've done that. We've given voice to the forgotten communities and the forgotten people in the United States.

And while it didn't work out quite the way we planned, this voice will not be stifled. I will continue to advocate and fight for the working people of this country, white, black, brown, men, women. Those people who get up every day, take a shower, go to work sometimes.


MERICA: So Tim Ryan, you know, basically ran out of money at this point. You know, he ended Q3 with just $425,000 in the bank. In the entire campaign, he only raised $1.3 million and he had cashed -- the amount of cash he had in the bank going into the fourth quarter was just $160,000. He got into this race saying that he wanted to raise the voice of Midwestern Americans, Midwestern Democrats, thinking he could seize on that message to kind of break out of a larger field. That clearly didn't happen. He was largely drowned out by not only the size of the Democratic field but also the fact that he just didn't have the money to fund the campaign that could actually win in 2020.


KING: He got out hustled in the money department by I think Pete Buttigieg, another Midwestern in the race as well. Dan Merica, appreciate the breaking news. As the field we've been waiting for, we had 20-plus candidates at one point. You've been waiting to see, it's tough and it's expensive to run for president. And a lot of good candidates simply just end up didn't making the cut when things happen.

I just want to show the -- we have a graphic of all the candidates struggling at two percent or below. They include Senator Cory Booker, former congressman Beto O'Rourke, Tom Steyer who's in the debate next time, Andrew Yang is on the debate next time, Julian Castro has said if he doesn't raise $800,000 by -- I think by the end of the month, you know, in a couple of days, next Wednesday, I think that is, that he'll get out of the race. Tulsi Gabbard has struggled, Senator Bennet has struggled. Again, you can take -- you know, everyone at home has their own positions but these are credible people when you look at their resumes and it just can't get any traction in this crowded field.

HEATHER CAYGLE, CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER, POLITICO: Yes. And I think for someone like Senator Klobuchar who's on the fence, as you said, she's painted herself as an aggressive foil to Warren but as we've seen in the past that normally ends up benefiting someone like Biden in the long run and not Klobuchar, right? Because you're the attack dog but that only works for so long, and so we could see her dropping down below where all these other candidates (INAUDIBLE).

KING: She's now going on TV with -- she's raised some money which always helps, and she's going on TV trying to keep her numbers up. I think this -- as the field shrinks a bit, it's going to be fascinating to see do the ones at the bottom keep shrinking, the people -- you know, or just -- I mean, Biden is hoping, you know, that he stays on top of the poll.

[12:35:06] You have some interesting reporting on Biden, he has a money problem. He's the former vice president of the United States but he has much less money than Warren or Sanders heading into this vital fourth quarter. We're 102 days from Iowa voting, and you said it's a conversation now among some of his allies to do something that will become an issue if they do it in the next debate. Start a super Pac, find another way to raise money because so many people who've cut money to Joe Biden in the primary have maxed out. So if they want to give more, they have to find a super Pac.

Bernie Sanders' campaign manager overnight saying Democrats shouldn't be doing that. What do we know?

ZELENY: Yes, we do know that allied of Joe Biden, a lot of alumni of the Obama administration well, they're having, you know, furlong advanced conversations about setting up a super Pac to defend Joe Biden against attacks from the president. Not about the Democratic primary per se but this is all happening at the same time. So, I'm told that it's almost in the final stages but there is still some worry among donors. Are people going to give to this, or is it going to give him some issues in the primary? But I spoke to one Democratic top strategist who supports Joe Biden and says he needs the help.

Trump is outspending him here so that's why they're doing this. We'll see how this plays out going forward. Super Pacs sometimes are helpful but in this environment when you look at the amount of money that President Trump has, $158 million, Joe Biden had about $8 million in the bank. That's a problem.

KING: That's a problem going forward. We'll see.

And as we go to break, this time, we want to revisit for you the solemn tribute today to Congressman Elijah Cummings.


REP. EMANUEL CLEAVER (D-MO): And oh God, please now receive the bootlegging preacher based in Baltimore, Elijah Cummings. Amen.

CROWD: Amen.



[12:41:52] KING: Topping our political radar today, a little fun in Kansas. Renewed speculation of a Mike Pompeo Senate run today as the secretary of state visits home, visits Kansas, for the fourth time this year. The secretary of state is in Wichita which he represented in Congress before joining the Trump administration. Secretary Pompeo and Ivanka Trump visiting an aviation training center holding a round table with education and business leaders. As for that possible Senate run, Secretary Pompeo saying he's still very much focused on his job at the State Department.

The House Ethics Committee says it's now investigating freshman Democratic Congresswoman Katie Hill. The allegation that Hill had an inappropriate sexual relationship with one of her congressional staffers that would violate House rules. Hill denied any affair with Graham Kelly, her current legislative director. She did, however, admit to a separate extramarital relationship with a female campaign staffer prior to taking office.

And the commerce secretary Wilbur Ross now under investigation for possible misuse of a private e-mail account. The National Archives and Record Administration says it launched this probe after the Washington Post revealed Ross used a personal account, a personal account for government business on numerous occasions.

Up next, a look at what the impeachment testimony tells us so far about the central role of the president's personal lawyer.


[12:47:49] KING: There is someone missing from cable TV as the impeachment debate heats up. The president's television lawyer Rudy Giuliani. CNN has learned Giuliani is himself looking for a lawyer, a criminal defense attorney, as his activities come under scrutiny not only in Congress but by the feds. Let's walk through how central Giuliani is to this impeachment inquiry.

This, from the initial whistleblower complaint. "A meeting or phone call between the president and President Zelensky would depend on whether Zelensky showed willingness to play ball on issues that had been publicly aired by Mr. Lutsenko and Mr. Giuliani." And key impeachment witnesses have backed that up. Let's take a look as we go through this.

Beginning with Gordon Sondland, he's the president's handpicked ambassador to the European Union, he told Congress, "It was apparent to all of us that the key to changing the president's mind on Ukraine was Mr. Giuliani." That from Gordon Sondland.

The former ambassador to Ukraine told Congress she thought Giuliani was central to her being recalled, pulled out of that job by the president. Marie Yovanovitch saying, "I do not know Mr. Giuliani's motives for attacking me." But she went on to say there were individuals working with Mr. Giuliani, his associates she believed had personal financial ambitions stymied by her anti-corruption policy in Ukraine. That was her take.

Fiona Hill was a key Russia aide at the National Security Council, a key deputy of the former National Security Adviser John Bolton. She quotes her boss, John Bolton is saying, "Giuliani's a hand grenade who's going to blow everybody up." That in Fiona Hill's congressional testimony.

And Bill Taylor who has emerged as a critical witness here about the quid pro quo, "The push to make President Zelensky publicly commit to investigations of Burisma, that's the Ukrainian oil company, energy company, and alleged interference in the 2016 election showed how official policy of the United States was undercut by the irregular efforts led by Mr. Giuliani." He said Mr. Giuliani essentially had a rogue foreign policy.

Giuliani despite all of these testimony insists he was working with these officials, not around them.


RUDY GIULIANI, TRUMP'S PERSONAL LAWYER: They reached out to me, they asked me to talk to (INAUDIBLE). I did it under direction and control, I reported back to them. I discussed with them. The statement is clearly from the text, their idea, not my idea.

[12:50:00] They asked me of my advice about the text. I didn't tell them, he must, he should, he has to, he must. I said -- I gave them my advice about what would give everybody comfort that the corrupt Ukrainian Government that's been corrupt for a long time was on the right road, that it was willing to root out corruption no matter who it hurt, without fear of favor the way our agencies should be able to do but don't.


KING: CNN's Michael Warren joins our conversation. A couple of points there in the sense that, again, the testimony contradicts what Rudy Giuliani said there in that interview with Howie Kurtz on Fox. So there's that. Then there's also though where is he? I mean, he is -- the president (INAUDIBLE) in the other day, Giuliani was not there. He has some problems right now.

MICHAEL WARREN, CNN REPORTER: Yes, he does. October 8th seems to be the last time he was on TV, he was on Fox News. He's basically been dark now for over two weeks. We know that he did meet with Trump two Saturdays ago at Trump's golf course, had lunch with him. We don't know exactly what they talked about. And he's not even really speaking much to reporters these days as well.

So, there is a lot of pressure now on Giuliani. And we know that the federal investigators up in the Southern District of New York are certainly looking into scrutinizing some of Giuliani's work, so he's clearly laying low. But as you pointed out, he's all over this testimony, and he can say these things that I was working -- I was giving advice, I was helping out these government officials who were asking for my help. But it's also clear from all of those other testimonies that there were people in the government who did not appreciate what Giuliani was doing, who thought that he was inserting himself. And that those three amigos, Sondland, Kurt Volker, and Rick Perry were as Bill Taylor said sort of this rogue operation that was operating outside of the normal channels that Ukraine policy ought to be done.

KING: He's everywhere including the president's own words in the July 25th phone call what the president says was perfect with President Zelensky. Remember, we have a secretary of state, we have an ambassador in Ukraine, we have a National Security Council, we have a structure that every president and every government has. "Rudy very much knows what's happening and he's a very capable guy. If you could speak to him that would be great. I will have Mr. Giuliani give you a call and I'm also going to have the attorney general Barr and we'll get to the bottom of it."

So, the president right there blessing these other testimonies from these other people that everyone keeps saying is hearsay. There you have the president on the phone call with Zelensky saying, Giuliani is my guy, not these other people.

MARGARET TALEV, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Right. And so what you have is the -- you have some Republicans now saying if it didn't come straight from the president's mouth, how do we know that it really happened? Giuliani is the answer to all of those questions. Giuliani is the person who the president was talking to. And we know that the National Security Council kind of was very uncomfortable about this.

I don't think we have as clear of visibility about how comfortable Pompeo was with it. He rolled with it, but it's probably not what he wanted, he's the secretary of state. And so Giuliani is at the center of all of these questions and still unanswered. I think for everyone except for probably the president knows is when was Rudy Giuliani doing at the president's direct (INAUDIBLE), and when he was freelancing his own operation or when was he acting in a way where he was then trying to convince the president that he was trying to do the right thing?

Those matter for -- what happens to the president, it matters in the impeachment question, but it is a separate matter for himself. And that's why he needs a lawyer to understand like the kind of whose game was he running and to what end?

KING: Because his former office in the Southern District of New York is looking -- he was the U.S. attorney there, the current U.S. attorney, his former law partner, looking into whether he had shady business dealings here.

WARREN: That's right. I should say it's problematic for him to be making these arguments that he was doing all this as the president's attorney and he was just doing this for his client. If he's going to want -- he wants to use that defense to say those conversations are protected under attorney/client privilege, but it does raise a lot of problematic questions about -- if he's talking about this, he really is sort of holding on to the president as these questions about what the president knew and what -- why he acted the way he did. You know, that there is more scrutiny in those questions as well.

KING: We'll see as the relationship continues if they stay so close.

Up next, it's opening week for the NBA. It has a new critic, the vice president of the United States.


[12:58:53] KING: Vice President Mike Pence picking an interesting fight this hour, in so many words calling the NBA and Nike cowards for not defending protesters in Hong Kong.


MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And some of the NBA's biggest players and owners who routinely exercise their freedom to criticize this country lose their voices when it comes to the freedom and rights of the people of China. And siding with the Chinese communist party and silencing free speech, the NBA is acting like a wholly owned subsidiary of that authoritarian regime.


KING: His own boss, the president, really hasn't stood by those.

VIVIAN SALAMA, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: I actually reported a couple of weeks ago that the White House, the president specifically, ordered that all his officials take a measured response to Hong Kong because he didn't want to alienate and ruffle feathers with Beijing. And so it is a little bit ironic that the vice president would say something like that for sure and take a position like that.

ZELENY: I mean, without question, the president has -- I can't even think of maybe he said a couple of small things like that, so I'm not sure what the vice president is doing out there perhaps freelancing today.

KING: The players who've criticized the president and so that's why he doesn't want to do it.

Thanks for joining us on INSIDE POLITICS. Don't go anywhere, a busy news day. Brianna Keilar starts right now. Have a great afternoon.