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White House Official Who Listened To Ukraine Call To Testify Next Week; DOJ Review Of 2016 Election Probe Now A Criminal Matter. Aired 10-10:30a ET

Aired October 25, 2019 - 10:00   ET

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


JIM SCIUTTO, CNN NEWSROOM: -- top adviser on the National Security Council is scheduled to speak under oath with Congress.

[10:00:04]

Sources say he will back up top diplomat Bill Taylor's explosive testimony from earlier this week. Democrats called it damning for the White House because Taylor said, in his view, there was a quid pro quo with Ukraine. And now, White House Official Morrison could testify and corroborate that claim.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN NEWSROOM: But it could get worse for the Trump administration. A source telling us that lawyers for former National Security Adviser John Bolton, if you remember his exit from the White House, well, they have talked with impeachment investigators negotiating a possible deposition of Bolton in private.

And as the impeachment inquiry continues centered on a request by the president for Ukraine to investigate his political enemies, we're learning that Attorney General Bill Barr's investigation of the origins of the Russia probe -- separate one here -- that's become a criminal probe.

Let's start on the impeachment inquiry though. Our Senior Congressional Correspondent Manu Raju is on Capitol Hill. Manu, good morning to you.

Democrats are considering how they may draft formal articles of impeachment. Cicilline is saying, of course, that's part of our job. We're talking about what they may look like.

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it's early in these discussions. This has been happening for some time behind the scenes, among mostly rank and file members, real serious negotiations about how they are drafted have yet to take place. Ultimately, that decision's going to be made by the speaker, and she has not yet made the decision about how to draft articles of impeachment. She contends she still hasn't made the decision about whether to impeach.

But one reason why they are being circled about how exactly articles of impeachment would be drafted and how many there would be, what exactly they would like, is they are in phase one of the impeachment inquiry, which means closed-door depositions. We're expecting several more to happen, at least through next week, potentially the week after. These are taking a bit longer than they initially anticipated. We'll see how long they ultimately stretch.

But we're also getting a glimpse of what they may learn in upcoming testimony. According to multiple sources who we have spoken to, Tim Morrison, a top official at the National Security Council at the White House, is expected to comply next week and come and testify, assuming he gets a subpoena from House investigators, which is expected.

And in that testimony, he is expected to corroborate key elements of that testimony from earlier this week where Bill Taylor, the top diplomat to Ukraine, contended that he has told that the president withheld funds, vital security funds, for Ukraine in exchange for Ukraine publicly announcing investigations into the Bidens, as well as into 2016 election interference.

Throughout Taylor's testimony, he mentions Morrison's name about 15 times, had multiple conversations about all of this and we are told that he's going to corroborate those key elements of their conversation. But but we're also told that he does not believe necessarily the administration did anything wrong and that he is going to have some nuance in his testimony.

So there's a lot that still has to happen, including the potential of John Bolton, the former national security adviser, coming behind closed doors. A lot of interest from Democrats in particular bringing him forward, because, of course, as you know, he raised a lot of concerns behind the scenes about the security aid being withheld. Jim and Poppy?

SCIUTTO: Manu Raju, thanks very much.

HARLOW: For more now on how the White House is handling all of this, let's bring in CNN White House Correspondent Jeremy Diamond.

Jeremy, is there a united front on the messaging here from the White House?

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Poppy, there are certainly discussions at the White House about how to kind of ramp up the messaging at the White House. Look, there has been a lot of criticism from Republicans, including Republican lawmakers on Capitol Hill about how this White House is handling the messaging in the face of this ramping up impeachment inquiry by House Democrats.

And now, I'm being told by three sources familiar with the matter that the White House is indeed looking to hire somebody to handle the impeachment messaging operation at the White House. And I'm told that the top pick right now for that job is Tony Sayegh, who is formerly the Treasury Department spokesman.

There is still disagreement among inside the White House. Some officials are opposing Tony Sayegh's hire and the president has not yet signed off on it. But it is clear that as these House Democrats move forward with this inquiry, as the information that we're learning from the testimony from current and former officials grows more and more damning by the day, that this White House is trying to take this much more seriously and trying to ramp up the defense and the messaging operation here at the White House.

Back to you guys.

HARLOW: Jeremy, thank you very much for that reporting. Let's talk about all of this. I'm pleased to be joined now by Texas Republican Congressman Lance Gooden. He also serves on the House Financial Services Committee.

Sir, thank you for being here. You've had a busy week, you had some important questioning of Mark Zuckerberg on Facebook. We've watched that. But let's talk about what's going on right now, sir.

You have not been on this network since September 25th. You talked to Chris Cuomo right before the whistleblower complaint was released, right before the White House transcript of that call with Zelensky in July was released. So now that you have read both, because you told Chris, I'm waiting to read and then I will have more answers.

[10:05:01]

What did they tell you about the president's behavior?

REP. LANCE GOODEN (R-TX): You know, I read that Transcript. There is absolutely nothing impeachable in that transcript.

And what's happened since then is we've found in talking with Democrats that they don't like the transcript, but they've said, you know, if Nancy Pelosi had waited just a few more days, we probably wouldn't have gone down this path.

When I talk to my colleagues across the aisle, they have no idea how this thing ends. They have no plan. They just know that as soon as they actually cave and have to vote on something, then they're in a position they don't want to be in because they're having to take a stand on the record, which is what Republicans have a problem with. Put this on the floor, vote on this, and let's initiate a real inquiry where the minority party has rights and where these sessions are not being held behind closed doors.

HARLOW: Yes. Except you got --

GOODEN: The press -- you all should be outraged in the press that you're not -- go ahead.

HARLOW: Let me jump in, with the facts. You've got 48 Republicans on the three committees behind closed doors questioning them. You had Mark Meadows, Republican, who told The Washington Post that each side alternates asking questions in set time blocks. There has been no limit provided on the number of questions that each side can ask. That is from Mark Meadows.

But getting back to the call, you say there's nothing impeachable in the president's call with Zelensky on July 25th. Would you do it? I mean, if you were president, would you solicit help from a foreign government to dig up potential dirt on a political rival?

GOODEN: Listen, for the last four years, I have seen people in the media, people across the aisle, complain about how this president operates.

HARLOW: Can you just answer my question about you?

GOODEN: I will admit he is non-traditional.

HARLOW: Would you do it? Is it okay? Does it sit well with you?

GOODEN: I'm not the president of the United States.

HARLOW: Does it sit well with you?

GOODEN: I don't even know what's happening in these discussions because I haven't even been a part of these discussions. Yes, it's great that there are 40 members of the House, but my constituents that I represent, they're asking me questions that I can't even answer.

HARLOW: Well, you get the transcripts.

GOODEN: I hope I do. I really hope I do. Because right now, Democrats have closed us out of the process and people, including the press, yourself, are asking me questions to answer that I don't even have the facts on because we have been shut out of the process.

HARLOW: I don't think that's fair, respectfully, Senator. Congressman, sorry. I'm giving you a promotion.

GOODEN: Thanks for the promotion.

HARLOW: You're welcome. I don't think that's fair. I just asked you about the transcript of the call released by the White House and simply said would you have asked what the president asked of Zelensky? You don't want to answer that. I understand that. That's okay.

GOODEN: No, no, no, I'm not telling you that. I'm telling you I don't have all the facts to what was going into the before-and-after of that call. I've seen just that little bits and pieces of it. You're asking me to comment on something based on facts I just don't have. I don't know if I would have had that same conversation.

HARLOW: Okay.

GOODEN: I just don't know.

HARLOW: Let me ask you something about facts that you've asserted, just so I can better understand it. You tweeted on September 26th, let me quote this and pull it up for you. The Democrats want to impeach a president trying to expose a crime then elect a person who committed a crime. Who are you accusing of committing a crime?

GOODEN: Go back to -- repeat that? You're asking me to comment on something that was out on Twitter a month ago? HARLOW: That's okay. Well, it's a full tweet. Let me pull it up again. I'm going to read it to you. You tweeted on September 26th, the Democrats want to impeach a president trying to expose a crime then elect a person who committed a crime. Sir, who are you accusing of committing a crime and what crime?

GOODEN: I believed at the time -- I believe we were -- you're taking that potentially out of context, but I think we were talking about Hillary Clinton and we were going down that path of the emails and how we kind of just brushed that aside or how the last Congress did and how --

HARLOW: No, no.

GOODEN: You're asking me to comment on something I can't see. I'm looking into a camera. I'm looking into a camera. You're asking me to comment on Twitter posts from a month ago. I can't see what you're talking about.

HARLOW: Can I just read it to you again? Because --

GOODEN: You've read it to me and I believe we were talking about Hillary Clinton.

HARLOW: But here is why I think it matters, because you're an elected member of Congress and your words, just like my words as a journalist --

GOODEN: And you're expecting me to remember what I tweeted a month ago and have it.

HARLOW: I'm not.

GOODEN: You're asking the same question.

HARLOW: Do you mind if I just finish the question to get one answer?

GOODEN: I have nothing in front of me. I'm staring into a black screen. I can't even see who I'm talking to.

HARLOW: So, Congressman, just to put a button on it and we will move on, but I think your words matter, just like mine do as a journalist. Your words matter a lot.

GOODEN: Absolutely.

HARLOW: Because you're an elected member of Congress, so they matter to every person you represent. And this is again what you wrote. I'm sorry you don't have it in front of you. You're welcome to pull out your phone and pull up the tweet, September 26th, quote, the Democrats want to impeach a president trying to expose a crime, comma, then elect a person who committed a crime. You're accusing someone running for president of committing a crime, and I'm asking you who that person is.

GOODEN: Sure. Okay, it triggered me now. [10:10:01]

We're talking about Joe Biden in that particular tweet, because at the time we were talking about how the president was bragging about a prosecutor that he got fired in the Ukraine, and we were going down this path at the time when Joe Biden was leading in the polls. He's not anymore.

But now it comes back to me, now that you've read it three times and I've run through my Twitter account in my mind, which is difficult to do. But we're talking about Joe Biden. If Joe Biden is going overseas and bragging about getting a prosecutor fired that was investigating his son, that is absolutely as much criminal.

We've come to a point where a vice president --

HARLOW: So here is the issue, Congressman, you just said if.

GOODEN: When something happens that the vice president does and then he runs for president, suddenly, he's immune from any investigation or prosecution at all.

HARLOW: Except there's a really big --

GOODEN: That tells me if I want to break the law, all I've got to do is run for president and you can't investigate me. That's crazy.

HARLOW: There are some really big holes in that argument, but let's start with the biggest one. There are zero evidence at this point that Joe Biden did anything wrong. As you know, he was among so many leaders in the west calling for Shokin to be pushed out as prosecutor. The IMF --

GOODEN: How do you know this? How do you know this?

HARLOW: Christine Lagarde -- because I read it, because I have it here, because we fact-check --

GOODEN: Did you read it in a leaked report, a leaked report that you haven't seen? Is it from The New York Times?

HARLOW: It's not.

GOODEN: They're great with the leaks.

HARLOW: Congressman, could you just respectfully let me finish the question, okay?

GOODEN: Sure.

HARLOW: Let me cite to you from someone in the Bush administration, okay, not some liberal. Quote, Steven Pfieffer, who is a career foreign service officer in the Bush administration talking about why Shokin had to go. Virtually, everyone in the U.S. government, he says, that he knew at the time, quote, felt that Shokin was not doing his job and should be fired. You are saying in this tweet, your words to everyone, without any evidence that Joe Biden committed a crime. Where is your evidence and is that responsible, sir? Is it responsible?

GOODEN: I'm saying that we have gone down -- we have gone down this path where if the president of the United States says he wants corruption thrown out of our society, he wants to investigate corruption, that's suddenly an outrage, offensive thing to bring forward.

HARLOW: Okay, yes.

GOODEN: Democrats on the other side are outraged that this president wants to get corruption out of our society. And so what have they done? They've started these investigations we don't even know what's happening. It's crazy.

HARLOW: I just don't -- can you help me just finally --

GOODEN: If the Trump -- if the Trump --

HARLOW: Can you help me square the circle here because I'm having a hard time? You're upset with the process of how Democrats are conducting this inquiry.

GOODEN: Absolutely.

HARLOW: And you can voice that and that's --

GOODEN: Aren't you upset with the process?

HARLOW: -- and that's your opinion, sir. But they are conducting an inquiry --

GOODEN: It's an opinion shared --

HARLOW: Sir, they are conducting an inquiry to determine --

GOODEN: -- by every Republican in Congress --

HARLOW: -- whether or not there are high crimes and misdemeanors.

GOODEN: -- that has been shut out of this process.

HARLOW: Congressman, the Democrats are conducting an inquiry into whether there were high crimes here, right, by the president, whether something is impeachable. Without an inquiry --

GOODEN: Do you know that, because I haven't seen anything but leaks?

HARLOW: Without an inquiry, you said on Twitter -- without an inquiry, sir, you said on Twitter that Joe Biden committed a crime. That's my point. Square the circle for me.

GOODEN: So, let me -- okay, here's the circle. You're comparing a Twitter post to an impeachment inquiry that is bringing people into a skiff where members of Congress don't even know what's happening if they're not part of the 40. You're comparing a Twitter post to an inquiry of impeachment that the U.S. House has not authorized. That's a stretch.

HARLOW: Yes. Democrats have the right to hold this inquiry the way they are doing it now. They do. That's just a fact.

GOODEN: Oh, I'm not saying --

HARLOW: Congressman, I've got to go but you're --

GOODEN: I'm not saying it's illegal what they're doing, but the American people --

HARLOW: You're minimizing --

GOODEN: -- are outraged, are outraged by this process. And the fact that the fake news media is not outraged with me is very telling.

HARLOW: Please don't insult the media on this network or on this show, on our show. And, Congressman, you say it's just a Twitter post, but it's your words and your words matter a lot. Thank you for being here.

GOODEN: I didn't say it's just a Twitter post. Those are your words. I said you're comparing a Twitter post to an impeachment inquiry.

HARLOW: I apologize. I shouldn't have added the word just. Congressman Lance Gooden, thank you for being here. Jim?

SCIUTTO: Poppy, good to you for calling it out. It's a frequent talking point. Go to the fake news media. I had an experience yesterday asking direct questions of the president's trade adviser --

HARLOW: I know.

SCIUTTO: And more power to you. And, listen, it's about giving straight answers to straight questions.

HARLOW: I just think that words matter. And when you represent so many people in the U.S. Congress and you write that someone has committed a crime, come here with the evidence. And I'm happy to debate it with you any time.

SCIUTTO: Well, he didn't answer the question, so that's why I love broadcasting with you, Poppy.

HARLOW: You too. You too.

SCIUTTO: Well, listen, CNN has learned that the Justice Department has opened a criminal investigation into how the Russia probe got started in 2016.

[10:15:00]

What does this mean for the key players in that investigation? I'm going to speak to one of them, the former acting director of the FBI, Andrew McCabe. That's coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCIUTTO: We've now learned that Attorney General Bill Barr's review of the Russia probe is now a criminal investigation. That designation is important because it allows federal prosecutors to subpoena witnesses and potentially file criminal charges.

Democratic Chairman Adam Schiff and Jerry Nadler have weighed in, saying they are concerned that the Justice Department is being used by the president and his allies for the possibility of political revenge.

Here with me now is one of the people who could be a target of this, Andrew McCabe. He was Deputy Director of the FBI during this time. He then ran the FBI after James Comey was fired by President Trump.

[10:20:00] Andy, thanks for taking the time this morning.

ANDREW MCCABE, FORMER ACTING FBI DIRECTOR: Sure.

SCIUTTO: We don't yet know the bounds of this, and it's CNN's reporting that it could be that they've discovered evidence of something criminal central to the investigation or possibly tangential to it, for instance, false statements or something connected to it or even possibly leaking information. So let's stipulate that.

But, as you know, John Durham, who's leading the investigation, he's respected by Democrats and Republicans, he led the CIA interrogations investigation.

MCCABE: He did.

SCIUTTO: Is it your concern that that investigation is now targeting you and your work?

MCCABE: Well, no. Here's my concern, Jim. So if the investigation is conducted with integrity, with impartiality, if there aren't preconceived theories or judgments brought into it, then I have no concerns about it whatsoever, whether it's an internal investigation or conducted as a criminal probe.

I know, because I was there, I was in the room when these decisions were made, I worked with the team that opened and initiated these cases, approved their work, I know that nothing improper was done. The information that we had in front of us at the time and that we chose to act on is well known by the public. Many of us have spoken about it openly in the past.

What you had was not, you know, political operatives planning a coup. There was no improper purpose to the decisions we made. You had a room full of career government officials with a very serious responsibility about investigating potential threats to national security, and that's exactly what we did.

SCIUTTO: Concerned at the time that the country was under attack by a foreign adversary.

MCCABE: That's right.

SCIUTTO: As you know, and I mentioned, John Durham, he's respected, he's a former U.S. district attorney in Connecticut. Based on your understanding of how this works, would he have to sign on to this being transitioned to a criminal investigation, or could Barr, because, of course, Democrats are concerned that Barr is politically motivated here, but would Durham have to sign on to this as well?

MCCABE: I think he would. Now, it's in Mr. Durham's court to determine how that authority is going to be executed. So, certainly, the attorney general can give him the additional authority to turn it into a criminal probe, but, ultimately, it will likely be Durham's decision whether or not to impanel a grand jury, whether or not to issue subpoenas and try to compel testimony, those sorts of things. SCIUTTO: Okay. It's a curiosity of mine, because I covered Russian interference in the 2016 election very closely.

MCCABE: Sure.

SCIUTTO: It's a concern as an American. And we know, and I continue to speak to people in these agencies who say Russia will attack again in 2020.

MCCABE: Absolutely.

SCIUTTO: Should people at home be concerned that if Barr's DOJ is focused on this investigation of the investigation back in 2016, should they be concerned that he's not adequately focused on protecting the next election from foreign interference?

MCCABE: Well, I think people should be very concerned that there appears to be within the administration, both from the president and now possibly with the attorney general as well, an underlying lack of trust, an underlying suspicion about the conclusions that we drew in 2016 about Russian-maligned cyber activity, about their interference in our democratic process.

So if those decision-makers are not convinced by the unanimous conclusions of the intelligence professionals involved at the time, then we have a problem on our hands, because it suggests that they are not taking the Russian threat to the 2020 elections as seriously as they should.

SCIUTTO: Is it possible though? Are there legitimate questions about how the investigation began and the possibility, at least, that laws were broken?

MCCABE: No, not from my perspective. And, again, I give you that perspective as someone who has done this for 21 years, making decisions about what things get investigated and what things don't. I know the sorts of things that we considered. I mean, look, it's very simple, we all knew that the Russians had been attacking our cyber infrastructure since as early as the fall of 2014. We knew they had focused those attacks on the DNC. We knew that they had stolen the DNC emails. We knew that they weaponized that material during the convention against Hillary Clinton.

And then we found out that before that weaponization was made public, an individual associated with the campaign, George Papadopoulos, who none of us knew anything about prior to that point, told a foreign diplomat before it was public knowledge that the Russians had reached out to the campaign and offered that assistance.

That is incredibly serious to the organization, the FBI, that has as part of its mission constantly investigating the Russians and their efforts to undermine our democracy. So when that information came to our attention, we made the obvious and rational decision to investigate whether or not anyone affiliated with the campaign was working in concert with the Russians.

And, of course, we know from the Special Counsel's work, many Russians were actively engaged in doing exactly that.

SCIUTTO: And reaching out to members of the Trump campaign at the time, although the Special Counsel determined no evidence of criminal activity, or at least insufficient evidence.

[10:25:01]

MCCABE: That's right.

SCIUTTO: Andy McCabe, thanks very much for your time.

MCCABE: Thanks, Jim.

SCIUTTO: Happening now, funeral services underway for Representative Elijah Cummings, former Presidents Clinton and Obama among thousands in Baltimore saying goodbye to the longtime Maryland congressman. He was revered there.

HARLOW: He certainly was. Cummings rose to become chair of the House Oversight Committee, one of the most powerful Democrats in Congress.

Kristen Holmes is with us now from Baltimore. A somber day, for sure, with a lot of big names who will be there remembering and honoring him.

KIRSTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Poppy and Jim.

Well, that's absolutely right. We have a lot of big names, as you said. The speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, is also going to talk. We have former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

But what's perhaps more remarkable is the thousands of people, members of the public who lined up at 4:00 A.M. this morning just to pay their respects. In fact, about an hour ago, the church came out and said that they were at capacity.

Now, this is a church that holds more than 4,000 people, and there were still hundreds of people here in line. I spoke to one woman who said that she was a principal at a school where Cummings was on the board, and she was so grateful for all that he had done for their school that she would have crawled here if she had to today just to pay her respects.

And this really goes to show you the kind of politician that Cummings was. He was a son of a sharecropper, someone who never forgot his roots, somebody who was a champion of the city of Baltimore and of the working class.

And we heard from Democrats and Republicans who said he did all of this with grace, that he reached across the aisle, something, of course, we know to be true because of his unique friendship with Mark Meadows, who is a staunch Republican supporter of President Trump.

So, really, a big hole here to be filled, a lot of sadness, but also a lot of joy in celebrating his life. SCIUTTO: Well, and it's great to see that bipartisan turnout in saying goodbye to him. Kristen Holmes, thanks very much.

HARLOW: All right. So Tulsi Gabbard making some news overnight. She says she will not run for re-election in Congress and is going to focus 100 percent on the 2020 race for the White House.

Next, is her campaign getting new energy after that criticism from Hillary Clinton?

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[10:30:00]