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Biden Says I'm The Frontrunner, Not Worried About Money; Biden Takes Fires Over Super PAC Money; Judge Orders Release of Mueller Report Grand Jury Information; Pompeo Dodges Questions Amid Growing Impeachment Inquiry; Feds Subpoena Brother of Giuliani Associate. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired October 25, 2019 - 15:30   ET




BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: Joe Biden gets a "60-Minute" treatment this weekend in a teaser clip released by CBS News. The former Vice President has one message. Confidence.


NORAH O'DONNELL, CBS CO-HOST: Do you still consider yourself the front-runner?

JOE BIDEN (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I know I'm the front-runner. Find me a national poll with a notable couple of exceptions. The last four that have come out. But look, this is a marathon. A marathon.


BIDEN: This is a marathon.

O'DONNELL: You can look at the last campaign finance filing. We looked at that. You have less than $9 million in the bank. Bernie Sanders has nearly $34 million in the bank. Senator Warren has $26 million. How do you compete against that?

BIDEN: I just flat beat them. We're on course to do extremely well. I'm not worried about being able to fund this campaign. I really am not. Truly.


BALDWIN: Biden may not be worried about funding this campaign, but his campaign just reversed its self-imposed ban on super PAC money and that has opponents crying foul. Senator Elizabeth Warren saying the super PACs should have no place in the Democratic primary. Listen to Senator Sanders this afternoon in Iowa.


SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT) DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You have heard Joe criticize me once or twice or to times because of my support for Medicare for All. All right. It's called democracy. I disagree with Joe. All right. I do not think a super PAC is healthy for American democracy. All right.


BALDWIN: David Chalian is our CNN political director. And David, does this issue come back to bite the former Vice President among primary voters or do they even care?

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Well, some voters care although I would imagine that the voters that care most about this might already be Sanders or Warren supporters. And not necessarily, I don't think Biden is probably going to lose support over this. But come back to haunt him is the more pertinent question, Brooke. And it will. It is. You know, Julian Castro is sending out funding emails on this. Warren and Sanders both have been out there trying to make hay of this.

So this will be a contrast and in a Democratic nomination field when you're running in a Democratic primary there's a lot of agreement on a lot of everything, right. So when you have a difference the campaigns do tend to play up the differences to try to differentiate them and this is one that some candidates will try to take to the voters even though it has not historically been a voter motivating issue necessarily.

BALDWIN: Got it. And then of course, the other part of the conversation which came up with Norah's conversation with the Bidens is just the heat over his son Hunter. So let me play what he had to say during the interview about the Trump children and any role in a Biden White House for his own kids. Here you go.


O'DONNELL: Do you believe President Trump's children have acted properly and avoided conflicts of interest?

BIDEN: Look, I wasn't raised to go after the children. Their actions speak for themselves. I can just tell you this, that if I'm President, get elected President, my children are not going to have offices in the White House. My children are not going to sit in on cabinet meetings.

O'DONNELL: What's improper about that?

BIDEN: It's just simply improper because you should make it clear to the American public that everything you're doing is for them. For them. And the idea that you're going to have, go to the extent that he has gone, to have, you know, his children, his son-in-law, et cetera, engaged in the day-to-day operation of things they know nothing about.

O'DONNELL: You don't think Jared Kushner should be negotiating a Middle East peace solution?

BIDEN: No, I don't. I don't. What credential does he bring to that? (END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: So here's a response from Brad Parscale, the Trump campaign manager, to that on Twitter. Hunter Biden would never have an office in the White House, because he's proven that his only qualification is being the son of Joe Biden. If the scenario, David, becomes Trump V. Biden do you think this will be a huge issue between the two of them?


CHALIAN: There's no doubt it will be an issue. President Trump has made it clear he wants Hunter Biden front and center in this campaign. And Joe Biden as you just heard, I mean, he was doing some of this in advance of our last debate in Ohio, of turning the tables and trying to push it back on the presidency. You want to talk about family. You have your daughter, your son-in-law working right there in the White House, that's something that I would not allow in my White House.

He's trying to sort of go from defense to offense. Which is what I think you see him doing in that "60 Minutes" interview as well. I don't think it will be the central issue in this campaign, Brooke, but it clearly is going to be at least one of the points that is going to be for them to battle out.

BALDWIN: Yes. David Chalian, thank you very much.


BALDWIN: Still ahead here on CNN. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo finds himself getting further and further dragged into this whole Ukraine controversy. But he wasn't up for answering any questions about it when he went home to Kansas. You will see the awkward moments for yourself.



BALDWIN: All Right. Breaking news now on Capitol Hill. A judge orders the release of grand jury information from the Mueller investigation here to be used in this broader inquiry. So let's get back to our CNN senior Congressional correspondent Manu Raju. Tell me what's happening.

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it's a very significant win for House Democrats who had been suing to get information, grand jury information that had been redacted from the Mueller report. Now a federal judge has just ruled that the Justice Department must turn over the redacted portions of the Mueller report. They were redacted because they were covered -- because they were grand jury information. They must turn that information over by next week -- by October 30th.

Now the judge also rules that transcripts and underlying exhibits also must be turned over to the committee. Now the committee -- the Democrats have been fighting with the Justice Department for months over this information. Saying that they needed this information to determine whether or not to impeach President Trump. They have said it's all part of their broader effort, as part of its impeachment inquiry. Now pushing back the Justice Department has said it's not entitled to that information, said this is invalid inquiry in part because there was no vote to authorize this inquiry.

So a judge here siding with the Democrats' arguments here. A significant ruling that will likely be appealed by the Justice Department. But it could portend good news for the Democrats as they fight under of a range of matters with the administration as part of their investigations.

BALDWIN: Yes, Manu, thank you.

Let me get some quick reaction with Garrett Graff. He's the author of the book "The Threat Matrix, Inside Mueller's FBI and the War On Global Terror." And so, Garrett, If we're talking about redacted portions from the Mueller report now

available for this impeachment inquiry, why would that be helpful?

GARRETT GRAFF, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, it's going to be helpful to the House Democrats in providing some new leads to follow-up on. I mean, fundamentally it doesn't alter the trajectory of the Mueller report. It's not going to tell us sort of dramatic new conclusions. What it is going to give the Democrats sort of a sense of, is how Mueller put together his investigation and what he thought that was important.

And remember this is similar in some ways to what happened in Watergate. Is that you saw the grand jury for Watergate turn over some important material to the House to help inform their impeachment inquiry. And I think it's just another sign of how important is that the House actually be moving forward with a more informal impeachment inquiry. Because they are now sort of entitled to a broader set of information or at least can make a stronger argument in court that they are entitled to that.

BALDWIN: Which to Manu's point, could be helpful for these House Democrats. OK. Now let's get to why we booked you. Talking about your piece on Mike Pompeo. So you wrote a piece for "Wired." That the headline is "Pompeo Was Riding High Until the Ukraine Mess Just Exploded." So let me play some of the tense moments when Secretary Pompeo went back to his home state of Kansas this week and dodged questions about Ukraine and this whole impeachment inquiry. Listen to this.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You were in Warsaw and so is Rudy Giuliani. During your time there did you meet with Giuliani?

MIKE POMPEO, SECRETARY OF STATE: You know, I don't talk about who I meet with.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Text messages show that diplomats under your authority told the Ukrainians that a good relationship with President Trump was only possible if they investigated his political opponent and theories about what happened in 2016. Were you aware that this was happening?

POMPEO: Again, you've got your facts wrong. Sounds like you're working at least in part for the Democratic National Committee when you phrase that predicate of a question that way. It's unfortunate --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have testimony from respected diplomats. Is that damaged your image and your leadership in the agency?

POMPEO: I don't think about that stuff. You all talk about this noise an awful lot.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What good, really, is the word of the U.S. in light of the President's treatment of the Kurds? Has that undercut U.S. credibility?

POMPEO: The whole predicate of your question is insane.


BALDWIN: So -- back to you and your piece and in the opening bit of your piece you talk about -- we play the clip of the WSMV interview, where he basically has the seven-minute interview where he saw his political life flash before his eyes, talk to me about that.

GRAFF: Yes. Mike Pompeo has been basically spending this entire year trying to pretty carefully set himself up as the heir apparent to Donald Trump. This was a path that he has strong backing from the Koch Organization.

He has strong backing from evangelicals. He has strong backing among sort of the MAGA base that makes up Trump space.


And that he has been positioning himself for this Senate run in his adopted home state of Kansas next year which was part of presumably the reason that he ended up just totally coincidentally in Wichita yesterday for the fourth time this year as Secretary of State.

BALDWIN: Totally, coincidentally, you say that.

GRAFF: Totally, coincidental.


GRAFF: And that he has been you know sort of charting a path that I think sort of goes through this Kansas Senate seat next year and then sets himself up to be Trump's heir apparent in 2024. And that that has been sort of a very careful path that he had been looking to navigate successfully. I mean, he would be one of the only folks in the Trump administration to have actually been able to leave the administration sort of with his, you know, reputation intact at least within Trump circles. Trump still very much likes him. And that this has really exploded in a big way over these that last six weeks, and has become clear that Mike Pompeo's State Department is the center of this entire Ukraine scandal.

BALDWIN: So talk more about that, because maybe he was the heir apparent. Maybe Kansas Senator, but because of the explosion of this Ukraine controversy, how much may his role truly be in jeopardy?

GRAFF: Well, we don't yet know, but what we see are increasing signs that Mike Pompeo's fingerprints were either on almost every stage of this scandal or should have been. That he's been trying to play in some circles and in some instances sort of the idea that he didn't understand what was happening in his own State Department.

But we saw, you know, last week the testimony from Bill Taylor where he said that John Bolton told him to write a cable directly to Mike Pompeo laying out his concerns, which did come out. And that this is -- and that's sort of the type of thing where it's going to be really hard for Mike Pompeo to say he didn't understand what was going on. Particularly because he was on that telephone call with the Ukraine President Zelensky.

BALDWIN: Got it. Garret Graff, as always, thank you very much. Love your insights. We will see you again, I am sure.

Coming up next here on CNN, new subpoenas issued in the investigation into Rudy Giuliani associates. Why investigators want to speak to the brother of one of the men already indicted.



BALDWIN: New today, federal prosecutors have subpoenaed the brother of one of Rudy Giuliani's indicted associates, Igor Fruman, pleaded not guilty to charges that he and another associate funneled foreign donations into U.S. elections. His brother Steven is now under subpoena and CNN's Kara Scannell is following this for us. So what might prosecutors want to know from this Steven Fruman?

KARA SCANNELL, CNN REPORTER: Well, Brooke, it seems like prosecutors here are advancing their investigation. This subpoena came to Steven Fruman just two weeks after his brother was arrested on those campaign finance charges and prosecutors up here appear to be following the money. What we've learned recently is that they're examining more than 50 bank accounts, kind of tracing the money there. And the relationship between Igor and Steven Fruman, it's not just that they are brothers. They appear to have been in business together.

There are addresses that they've used in common, it looks like they may have invested in property together as well. So all of this as prosecutors trying to understand more about the money flows and these relationships. We've also learned that prosecutors have searched multiple premises as part of their investigation. And in one case they even had to blast off the door of a safe and they're now scrutinizing those documents, records, whatever materials were inside of the safe.

So you know, this as this investigation is progressing, it's really only broken out in public in the past two weeks since their arrest of Igor Fruman and his partner Lev Parnas. Now prosecutors are sending out subpoenas and building their investigation out -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: All right. Kara, thank you, Kara Scannell.

More on our breaking news this afternoon exposing major gaps in the White House explanation for why President Trump froze military aid to Ukraine.



BALDWIN: Didn't want to let you go before just updating you on one of our top ten CNN Heroes from 2018. Amanda Boxtell's organization, Bridging Bionics, provides free or low-cost cutting-edge therapy to people with mobility impairments. So here's Anderson Cooper with the story of one of the many, many people she's helped.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST (voice-over): Three years ago Nate White injured his spine in kayaking accident and was told he'd never walk again but it's hard work and determination along with Amanda's incredible help has paid off. A year ago he did this. And now just three years after his accident, he's doing this.

NATE WHITE, INJURED SPINE IN KAYAKING ACCIDENT: Amanda always believed that I was going to be walking again.

AMANDA BOXTELL, FOUNDER BRIDGING BIONICS: He's living the miracle of what we all aspire for.

This is the power of technology that everybody should have access to. That's my goal.


BALDWIN: Next Wednesday the top ten CNN Heroes of 2019 will be revealed. So stay tuned.

I'm Brooke Baldwin. Hope you have a wonderful weekend. But stay right here. "THE LEAD" with Jake Tapper starts right now.