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AT THIS HOUR

Democrats Consider Holding Kupperman in Contempt for No Show; Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL) Discusses Kupperman No Show, Impeachment Inquiry, Sondland's Testimony on Quid Pro Quo, Death of ISIS's Baghdadi, Trump Booed at World Series; California Wildfires Force Evacuations, Threatens to Engulf Major Freeway; Rep. Katie Hill Announces Resignation Amid Relationship Scandals, Ethics Probe; Did Trump Influence Pentagon's Pick of Microsoft over Amazon. Aired 11:30a-12p ET

Aired October 28, 2019 - 11:30   ET

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


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[11:30:25]

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: President Trump is in Chicago about to take the stage to speak before the International Association of Chiefs of Police in Chicago. You see the event starting any moment now. We'll keep an eye on that. We'll bring you any headlines that will be coming out as soon as they happen.

Back in Washington, a key witness in the impeachment inquiry has now become the first to fight the subpoena coming from Congress in court. Former deputy national security adviser, Charles Kupperman, was scheduled to be interviewed by House investigators on Capitol Hill, interviewed right now. He did not show up.

Kupperman is now potentially facing being held in contempt of Congress for not appearing. What do Democrats do now?

Joining me is a Democratic Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi, a member of the House Intelligence and Oversight Committees, committees involved in the inquiry.

Thanks for coming in.

REP. RAJA KRISHNAMOORTHI: (D-IL): Thanks, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Your reaction to Kupperman not showing up today?

KRISHNAMOORTHI: Well, I think that, as we mentioned in our subpoena to him, you know, not coming in would be considered a potential obstruction of the inquiry and any blocked testimony or testimony being withheld would be considered corroborative of the whistleblower's complaint.

I have to tell you that there has been a parade of witnesses who have come forward, career public servants who are apolitical, sticking their necks on the line to tell the truth. That's what we would expect of him and others but obviously he's made a different choice, at least of right now.

BOLDUAN: Congressman, tactically, do you wait for a judge to rule on this, if a judge is going to weigh in, or do you think you can move ahead with what you have without -- do not need to hear from him?

KRISHNAMOORTHI: I'm going to let Chairman Schiff decide our course with regard to him in particular.

But there are other witnesses that are scheduled to come this week before us who are going to provide, hopefully, even more testimony to flesh out, you know, kind of the full extent of what happened with regard to Ukraine, as well as who was involved and who directed it. This is very important for us to find out ASAP.

BOLDUAN: Do you think -- he does share an attorney with John Bolton, Kupperman does. He's a long-time associate of John Bolton's. Do you think how Charles Kupperman has reacted to it, the path he's taken, do you think that is a foreshadowing of how John Bolton will respond if and when you ask him to appear?

KRISHNAMOORTHI: I'm not sure. I think, based on press reports, Mr. Bolton has some very strong views about Rudy Giuliani potentially running a shadow foreign policy, not necessarily in the best interest of the country, but perhaps in the best interest of his personal clients, who include Donald Trump and also potentially foreign actors.

It will be up to Mr. Bolton to decide. But I hope that all witnesses who are subpoenaed come forward to comply with their duty.

BOLDUAN: The "Wall Street Journal," in speaking to Ambassador Gordon Sondland's attorney, is reporting that he -- when he was speaking before the committees, he told the committees of the president's efforts to get Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden in exchange for a White House meeting amounted to a quid pro quo. Is that your understanding of his interview and what he said?

KRISHNAMOORTHI: I can't comment on the specifics of his testimony except that, if the press reports are correct, that a White House meeting was conditioned on political investigations of the president's domestic rivals, that would be a big problem, and that would amount to a --

(CROSSTALK)

KRISHNAMOORTHI: -- would amount to that type of quid pro quo.

BOLDUAN: One of your colleagues, Stephen Lynch, told CNN last night that - he wouldn't go into the details but he also said, "I would not dispute what the attorney is saying," in part. Would you dispute what the attorney is telling the "Wall Street Journal?"

KRISHNAMOORTHI: Again, I don't want to go into the specifics of his testimony.

As I said that day, you know, basically, I left with the impression that Mr. Sondland was somewhat evasive on certain conversations and details. That being said, if for some reason he decides that he wants to supplement his testimony, I'm sure that the committee would want to potentially hear about that.

But I'm not going to get ahead of my chairman in terms of what he may or may not do with regard to Mr. Sondland.

BOLDUAN: Can I get your reaction also, as a member of the Intelligence Community, to hearing the news that the leader of ISIS died in a U.S. raid to capture him this weekend?

KRISHNAMOORTHI: Sure. I think that the world is better off without his existence. He was a blood-thirsty killer.

But I want to point out a few elements that were essential in capturing and killing him, which is our alliances, which unfortunately the Trump administration has not been fond of including with the Kurds.

[11:35:09]

Secondly, our Intelligence Community and the excellent information that they basically provided in identifying his location. Again, a community that's under attack by the president almost constant constantly.

And, third, our presence in northern Syria. We could not have done this without a presence in northern Syria, especially in those areas where ISIS has collected.

I'm very concerned that our pullout from northern Syria basically means that ISIS is going to scatter and then pose another threat to us again.

BOLDUAN: All valid concerns.

After all this, this feels like a turn, but kind of isn't, it is somewhat related, the president appeared at the World Series game last night. And in doing so, he was met -- you could see it from the video -- from the crowd, he was met by loud and sustained boos from parts of the audience as well as chants of "lock him up," were quite audible. What did you think of that?

KRISHNAMOORTHI: I personally don't want to see any president or candidate for president subject to those types of cheers.

President Trump, unfortunately, led those similar chants with regard to Hillary Clinton. I thought that was unacceptable then.

I don't want to see any president or nominee or any candidate or politician subject to that type of chanting.

But that goes to show how much, unfortunately, this president has contributed to the kind of debasing of our political rhetoric.

And his use of the term the other day "human scum" to describe Republicans that would disagree with him with regard to this Ukraine matter just goes to show that he's contributing to the very rhetoric that's being used against him as well.

BOLDUAN: Congressman, thanks for coming in.

KRISHNAMOORTHI: Thank you, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Appreciate it.

KRISHNAMOORTHI: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Coming up for us, fast-moving wildfires force tens of thousands of people to evacuate in California. Flames threatening to engulf a major freeway. We'll take you live to the ground next.

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[11:41:54]

BOLDUAN: Hurricane-force winds are fueling an explosion of wildfires in California right now. We'll show you.

This is a look at the biggest threat in Los Angeles County, the Getty Fire, still raging out of control. That is a terrifying scene to be driving past. It's just off the 405 Freeway at the moment. It's burned 400 acres, forcing thousands to evacuate their homes.

At the same time, the largest of the more than dozen wildfires burning right now is in the northern part of the state in California's wine country. The Kincade Fire burning more than 60,000 acres and forcing more than 200,000 people from their homes.

CNN crews are positioned throughout the fire zone as we speak. CNN's Omar Jimenez is in Los Angeles. And Dan Simon is in Healdsburg, California.

First, let me get to you, Omar.

What are you seeing and hearing there today?

OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Kate, we're along the 405 Freeway in Los Angeles. And this entire hillside over the course of this morning, at one point, was on fire. Now it is a smoldering hillside.

That's because a lot of these flames have been moving with the direction of the wind and moving further back into this hillside right here. It's moved over the top of the eyesight that we're seeing here.

And a helicopter just went into the clouds, into the smoke behind there as they've been dropping in water and -- you know what, here, our photographer is going to come up.

See this helicopter coming out of the smoke here. They've been dropping fire retardant over the course of this morning, coming in, in round after round, trying to make sure that these flames don't creep onto the many cars you see driving along the 405. The road has not closed over the course of this. One of the big fears is the winds, the windy conditions we have seen

over the course of the past few days that some of these embers could spread even as far as miles and start fires in places there weren't fires to begin with -- Kate?

BOLDUAN: Omar, thank you. Stick with me.

Dan, how are conditions where you are?

DAN SIMON, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, today, it's a race against time, Kate. Right now, the winds are calm so, hopefully, fire crews will make some progress today.

Right now, this fire is 5 percent contained. They reduced it. It was 10 percent over the weekend. But the winds were so strong over the weekend, more than 90-mile-per-hour gusts, and that's really what has caused this fire to really spread.

Let me explain where I am, Kate. This was a 150-year-old winery, the Soda Rock Winery. It's just reduced to rubble really in an hour. That's what you have here. All you can see is this sort of stone facade in front of me.

In terms of what fire crews will be doing today, water drops, 3,000 firefighters on the ground.

Also, Kate, I should tell you, you have about two million people within this area that have lost power. So much consternation because so many people are in the dark.

We don't know when that power goes back on because the winds are expected to pick up sometime tomorrow night -- Kate?

BOLDUAN: Just need a break from this weather and it's not coming anytime soon.

Dan, thank you so much.

Omar, thank you as well.

Really appreciate it, guys.

[11:45:05]

Coming up still for us, she was seen as a rising star in the Democratic Party, a freshman Democrat who had turned a red seat blue. Now Congresswoman Katie Hill is stepping down, facing allegations of improper relationships. The story behind her resignation. And what it means also for her swing district.

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[11:50:19]

BOLDUAN: California Congresswoman Katie Hill has announced she is resigning. She has been accused of having an improper relationship with a member of her congressional staff, something she's denied. It would be a possible violation of new House rules that ban such relationships.

The House Ethics Committee opened an investigation into Hill and, at the very same time, she had to admit to an inappropriate relationship with a campaign staffer before she took office.

Another important factor here is Congresswoman Katie Hill says her husband, who she is currently in the midst of divorcing, is out there trying to humiliate her by releasing intimate photographs, some of which have been published.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi, in reacting to Hill's announcement, praised her work but added this: "She has acknowledged errors in judgment that made her continued service as a member untenable."

CNN's international correspondent, Kyung Lah, has much more of the back story and what this means for her seat. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

REP. KATIE HILL, (D-CA): Hi. How are you?

KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This was Katie Hill last January.

(on camera): From congresswoman-elect to dropping the elect.

(CROSSTALK)

LAH: How does it feel?

HILL: It feels good. It's time to get to work, for sure.

LAH (voice-over): Moments later, she was sworn into Congress. No one had any idea her promise of tenure would be so brief.

In a letter from her congressional office, Representative Hill announced her resignation, writing, "This is what needs to happen so that the good people who supported me will no longer be subjected to the pain inflicted by my abusive husband and the brutality of hateful political operatives."

Hill's estranged husband is the man standing next to her. He has not replied after repeated requests for comment from CNN. But Hill says he is part of a "smear campaign built around cyber exploitation."

"Having private photos of personal moments weaponized against me has been an appalling invasion of my privacy. As long as I'm in Congress, we'll live fearful of what might come next and how much it will hurt."

Representative Hill is referring to private photos that were leaked and published online of her and a female campaign staffer. Hill has admitted to a relationship with a campaign staffer, apologizing, calling it inappropriate. But she denies a separate charge, an alleged relationship with her

male congressional staffer. A relationship between members of Congress and their staff violates House ethics rules.

Some Democrats in Hill's district say personal issues don't matter in the Trump era.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'd rather have someone "F" something than rather "F" our country.

LAH: But politically, this may matter in the swing district.

UNIDENTIFIED HILL CAMPAIGN VOLUNTEER: Would we lose the seat to the Republicans again? I don't know. I'm not saying we would. Hopefully not, but it just doesn't help.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LAH: California Governor Gavin Newsom has a few weeks to set a date for a special election.

And something we should make clear, Kate. In her statement, Representative Hillis is saying she's not stepping back because of the allegations of these relationships. She's stepping back because of the torture and the unknown horror of these personal photos being out there.

And speaking with GOP operatives, Kate, I've had conversations where some say they've seen dozens of these personal photos that have yet to be released -- Kate?

BOLDUAN: That distinction she offers is an important to point out.

Kyung, thank you very much. I really appreciate it.

Coming up for us, the Pentagon snubs Amazon over a major defense contract. Did President Trump's public criticism of Amazon's Jeff Bezos play a role.

[11:54:00]

Be right back.

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BOLDUAN: The Pentagon picks Microsoft over Amazon for a massive government contract worth $10 billion to manage the military's Cloud computing services. With that, many are asking, since Amazon was the long-time favorite to get this job, did President Trump's public criticism of Amazon's founder, Jeff Bezos, impact the final call here?

Here with me now is CNN business correspondent, Alison Kosik, with more on this.

What are you learning about this contract? ALISON KOSIK, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: What's interesting here, to

put this in perspective, many people don't realize that Amazon is more than retail. It's Cloud services business actually drives the majority of Amazon's profits. And it's been a leader in this space because of the thousands of government contracts that it has.

So Amazon losing a $10 billion government deal, called Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure, JEDI for short, was a huge punch to the gut for Amazon.

One analyst calling it a game-changer deal for Microsoft, one of Amazon's biggest competitors, and that it could have ripple effects for years to come.

A source familiar with the situation said Amazon may actually fight this decision in court, because the thinking is, President Trump, who has made his animosity for CEO Jeff Bezos very, very clear and very public, has had a hand in pushing Amazon out of this deal.

In fact, a new biography of former Defense Secretary James Mattis reports Trump personally got involved in who would win the contract and, last year, actually directed Mattis to screw Amazon out of a chance to bid on the contract. This is according to Web site Task and Purpose. Mattis declined.

[12:00:08]

But in June, Trump did say, Kate, that his administration would review the contract plan because competitors claimed Amazon had an unfair advantage.