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Key Witness In Probe Refuses To Show Up Before Congress; Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, The Leader Of ISIS And One Of The World's Most Wanted Terrorists Is Dead; Donald Trump Booed At World Series. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired October 28, 2019 - 14:00   ET



BROOKE BALDWIN: It is Monday afternoon. You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin. Thank you for being here. An Impeachment Inquiry witness is a no show at his deposition today and now Charles Kupperman has set up another major showdown in court between the White House and Congress.

Kupperman served as Deputy National Security adviser, as John Bolton's number two. Past witnesses had testified that the former National Security adviser, John Bolton was greatly alarmed over the pressure Ukraine was under to conduct these political investigations.

Kupperman was also listening in on that critical July 25th phone call between President Trump and his Ukrainian counterpart, but instead of revealing what he knows today in front of these committees up on Capitol Hill, Kupperman's lawyer filed suit asking a judge to figure out how he should get out of this historic rock and a hard place. Should he follow a congressional subpoena ordering his testimony? Or follow the White House directive to stand down?

Here was the President today as he compared his case to the one involving Jussie Smollett, the actor accused of faking being the target of a hate crime.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Then you have the case of this wise guy, Jussie Smollett, and he said MAGA country did it. MAGA country. Okay, he said -- that's a hate crime. That's a hate crime. And it's a scam. It's a real big scam, just like the impeachment of your President is a scam.


BALDWIN: The Democrats running this Impeachment Inquiry say that the lawsuit is no excuse for Kupperman's no show today and that they are threatening him with contempt and the Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff added this.


REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): I think we can infer from the White House opposition to Dr. Kupperman's testimony that they believe that his testimony would be incriminating of the President.

If this witness had something to say that would be helpful to the White House, they would want him to come and testify. They plainly don't.


BALDWIN: CNN congressional reporter Lauren Fox is live on Capitol Hill. And so, Lauren, talk to me a little bit more about what Schiff is saying in terms of using these witnesses who aren't showing up to testify in terms of building their case for impeachment?

LAUREN FOX, CNN POLITICS U.S. CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: Well, Brooke, really today was a somewhat significant departure from what we've seen over the last several weeks, as these three committees had been holding many of these depositions behind closed doors, they've been able to get a lot of the witnesses that they've sought, including Marie Yovanovitch, the former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine, they've also got the current E.U. Ambassador to come behind closed doors and testify.

But today, obviously a significant departure as they heard that Kupperman was not going to be attending this deposition. Now, Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee warned if this is what the White House wants to do, if this is the playbook they want to follow, they're just going to count this up as potential obstruction of Congress. Here's what Adam Schiff said.


SCHIFF: You know, it's hard to say what other senior officials will do. I'm sure they'll get like instructions from the White House. And if they do and they fail to appear, they will be building a very powerful case against the President for obstruction, an Article of Impeachment based on obstruction.


FOX: And of course, Brooke, Democrats wanted to hear from this witness today because he was on that July 25th phone call. Also, he was close with John Bolton, someone we know who expressed concern about the role of Rudy Giuliani, the President's personal lawyer in policy with Ukraine -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: All right, Lauren, thank you. Let's discuss. With me now CNN contributor, Andy McCabe, served as Deputy Director of the F.B.I. until he was fired in 2018. So welcome back to you, sir.

So obviously two stories here. You have Kupperman defying the subpoena saying let's wait until this plays out courts. You have Adam Schiff saying, oh, no, no, we're not going to be doing that, we're going to be adding this to potential obstruction Article of Impeachment for the House Democrats. So who between these two sides, who do you think comes out on top legally speaking?

ANDREW MCCABE, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, it's hard to say. But this is a fundamentally different situation than the one we confronted in the wake of the Special Counsel's report. Right?

So you'll recall, the administration took a similar hard line in prohibiting any White House employees from speaking or doing so behind closed doors with White House attorneys.


MCCABE: They weren't allowed to talk about anything they had done during their time in the White House. It's kind of surprising that they've waited to this late in the game to deploy that tactic with these witnesses. So it's -- we should have expected this all along. I think the committee was lucky to get some of the higher level officials that they've gotten from the State Department and other places.

The difference here is that the committee can charge forward with the acts of impeachment, regardless of what happens in the judicial proceeding. That's something that didn't exist in the Special Counsel situation.

BALDWIN: I want to come back to that in a second just pushing forward, but just -- people listen to the name Charles Kupperman, they do not know who he is.



BALDWIN: But they may know certainly who his boss was in John Bolton, and they share a key person being a lawyer. So do you think this play with Kupperman is perhaps foreshadowing because we know Bolton is a key witness? He is being asked to talk as well. Might we see this same strategy deployed with John Bolton?

MCCABE: It very well could be the same strategy, but the primary difference in these two men is Bolton is no longer part of the administration. He left under somewhat notorious and adverse circumstances.

It's probably reasonable to assume that he doesn't hold the President in high regard at the moment and so he may have a stronger personal motivation to get in front of the committee and tell them what he knows.

We've also heard that, you know from other witnesses that he objected to what he saw, he was concerned about the infamous drug deal and the interactions of Rudy Giuliani.

So he may have a story that he wants to get off his chest. I don't know that we've heard similar descriptions about Kupperman. It is completely logical that the committee would pursue his testimony because he is a primary witness to the phone call itself.


MCCABE: I think they have to go down this -- go down this alley and see if they can get him in front of them. But ultimately, if he doesn't come in, they probably can move on without him.

BALDWIN: And in case people are like, wait, drug deal what, metaphorically speaking, metaphorically speaking --

MCCABE: Of course.

BALDWIN: Several witnesses have told the White House that they saw the Trump administration pressure Ukraine to conduct these investigations in exchange for the U.S. you know, helping them out militarily with the $400 million. Vice President Pence was asked about this, asked if he was aware, and this was his response.


MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I can only tell you what I know. And what I know is that the transcript of the President's call with President Zelensky shows that there was no quid pro quo, he did nothing wrong.

MARGARET BRENNAN, CBS HOST: But were you aware of that deal that they are giving the details of that is sworn under oath exists?

PENCE: I cannot -- no. I can also tell you that in all of my interactions with President Zelensky, we focused entirely on President Zelensky's agenda.


BALDWIN: So just from all of your time at the F.B.I., and what you know the Vice President would know or not, would he be unaware?

MCCABE: Well, of course, I don't know for a fact, but it is hard to imagine that a matter that was -- so -- I don't want to say widely known, but clearly known among a cadre of upper senior officials in the White House, so you're talking about Mick Mulvaney, Rick Perry, obviously Ambassador Sondland, the President himself, others who were on the call -- it's hard to imagine that the Vice President wouldn't have had any understanding of the underlying issue with Ukraine and the President's interest in using that relationship to get information for his campaign.

However, you know, I think it's -- his answers were remarkable in not just what he said, but really what he didn't say.

BALDWIN: Didn't say.

MCCABE: He didn't really address that part of the issue.

BALDWIN: Andy McCabe, come back. Thank you very much.

MCCABE: I will. I will. Thank you, Brooke.

BALDWIN: Thank you. Breaking news now on the death of Abu Bakr al- Baghdadi, new details from the Pentagon just in this afternoon, including video and prisoners from that operation. We have all of that for you next. Also ahead, President Trump booed at the World Series. What it says

about our great national pastime in the age of Trump.

And just moments ago, emotional words from Congresswoman Katie Hill about her reason for resigning. What she says about who is to blame and what she plans to do next.

You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin. We'll be right back. We'll be right back.



BALDWIN: We are back. You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin. Listen, this was a mission several months in the making, when it was over, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of ISIS and one of the world's most wanted terrorists was dead.

Officials were able to track him down, thanks to one of Baghdadi's closest companions who was captured two months ago in Iraq. The raid began Saturday night when elite U.S. troops boarded helicopters in Iraq and flew more than an hour to Baghdadi's Northern Syria compound.

And while Baghdadi killed himself after being cornered by U.S. forces, at least two ISIS fighters were captured. President Trump detailed the raid during this Sunday morning news conference.


TRUMP: Last night, the United States brought the world's number one terrorist leader to justice.

He died after running into a dead-end tunnel, whimpering and crying and screaming all the way.

He ignited his vest killing himself and the three children.

His body was mutilated by the blast. The tunnel had caved in on it, in addition.

These savage monsters will not escape their fate.

We will continue to pursue the remaining ISIS terrorists to their brutal end.

In some cases, they were very frightened puppies.

He was a sick and depraved man, and now he is gone.

He died like a dog. He died like a coward.

They brought body parts back with them et cetera et cetera. There wasn't much left.

He was screaming, crying and whimpering. It was brutal. [14:15:10]

TRUMP: He led his three children to death. He was an animal, and he was a gutless animal.


BALDWIN: Let's talk about it all. Bob Baer is a former C.I.A. operative and CNN intelligence and security analyst and Jennifer Cafarella is the Research Director for the Institute for the Study of War.

So thank you both for coming on. And Bob, let me just start with you. And before we, you know, really dive in just -- let's just step back and just look at the big picture here. How huge is this?

ROBERT BAER, CNN INTELLIGENCE AND SECURITY ANALYST: Oh, it's big. He was the spiritual Baghdadi of the Islamic State. He was an important figure. He was a recruiting tool for people in Europe and the rest of the Middle East. So this was a major victory over terrorism, no doubt about it.

And the fact that we ran him to ground was inevitable, but it is still very, very important in this organization secondly is on its back feet on this, so it's good. I mean, it's a victory.

BALDWIN: It's a victory and it's the how they did it. I'm looking down in my notes Jennifer because I just want to be precise on this detail. It been in the works for months ever since a Baghdadi companion and ISIS member was captured by the Iraqis. He ultimately led officials to this courier and that courier's wife is who provided the documents that ultimately led to al-Baghdadi. Is it at all surprising to you that this key link on finding him finally came from within, so to speak?

JENNIFER CAFARELLA, RESEARCH DIRECTOR, INSTITUTE FOR THE STUDY OF WAR: Yes, I think it has been surprising for some that there was no signaled Intelligence really that was critical to this raid, you know, we've heard lots of stories of cell phone intercepts, et cetera and in this case, it really was the humans on the ground.

I think what this demonstrates is there really is no substitute for human intelligence, and therefore there's no substitute for the relationship of Americans on the ground, risking their lives, those of our local partners, in this case the Iraqis and also the Syrian Kurds, which facilitated this operation, actually enabling us to take down such a terrible human being.

BALDWIN: Bob, you heard some of President Trump's remarks on the al- Baghdadi raid from yesterday morning and he went into you know, all of this detail regarding what exactly these, you know, members of the military did and you know, where the ISIS leader was found, who was with him, what U.S. forces were able to recover? Do you think he revealed too much?

BAER: No, I don't think he did. And I think a lot of the sourcing, I agree that it was human sourcing which put the picture together, it will be hidden from us forever. Because in a raid like this, you can count on that the Delta Force had some sort of eyes on before this raid -- cameras, drones -- it doesn't matter. He didn't really get into it.

I know, he talked about breaching walls and the rest of it. I don't like the way he put it, going after -- calling the man a dog. I mean, he was a despicable human being, but this just raises the temperature.

And what I'm concerned about is there's going to be some sort of blowback in terrorist attacks in Europe or this country or somebody who is going to take up arms. I think it was unnecessary.

BALDWIN: Do you think that because of this and because of his language?

BAER: I think so absolutely. Yes. It's going to take some either sleeper cell or somebody who's going to be self-recruited to do damage, to do violence against us or somebody.

BALDWIN: To that point, let me get to this sound. Jake was talking to Mark Esper, the Defense Secretary precisely about this because we hear so much from President Trump about ISIS has been 100 percent defeated. Here's the Defense Secretary on precisely this point.


JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Where the President has said they're defeated, but they're not fully defeated.

MARK ESPER, U.S. DEFENSE SECRETARY: Well, it's a physical Caliphate and defeat, you know, it's hard to defeat an ideology. So what we're going to have to do is stay on top of this. We're going to have to make sure we have the capability to go in and again, destroy targets as they arise.


BALDWIN: So you can't defeat an ideology. But what could happen next? Do you agree with Bob's point that future attacks are inevitable?

CAFARELLA: I do think future attacks are inevitable, unfortunately. And that's not just because we eliminated the terrorist leader, ISIS leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. But because this is a very capable military organization, despite the fact that it lost its physical control of terrain.

We set that physical manifestation of the Caliphate as our military objective, because it was concrete and measurable and achievable. But what that win did not do was eliminate the ISIS fighting force, which is estimated to be still 18,000 at minimum across Iraq and Syria, not to mention 10,000 additional detained fighters in Syria alone.

BALDWIN: And just quickly the fact that they found him, the leader of ISIS in this al Qaeda dominated territory tells you what? CAFARELLA: So it's interesting that he was there. Obviously, al

Qaeda is a competitive movement to the Islamic State. But we've seen two things. First, ISIS was actually using this province of Idlib to get foreign fighters into and out of Syria. They were also attempting to attack the rival al Qaeda governance project which challenged the legitimacy of the Islamic State.


CAFARELLA: For that reason, it's surprising actually that Baghdadi would locate himself amidst competitors. And so it raises the question, was he reconsidering his longstanding unwillingness to consider a reunification of the Global Jihadist Movement?

BALDWIN: Well, we'll leave it for there for now. Jennifer, thank you very much. Bob Baer, as always, thank you very much for your perspective on all of this.

President Trump rarely goes to public events, if it's not a friendly crowd, so when he's walked into the stadium during the World Series, you hear the chants, it was quite the scene. So let's talk about that.

And his former Chief of Staff, John Kelly with some damning remarks about the President and how he warned him of impeachment. We'll be right back.



BALDWIN: Booed in his own backyard - that was the reception at Nat's Park when President Trump showed up on the Jumbotron in Game 5 of the World Series last night in D.C.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... the President and First Lady in their seats.


CROWD: (Chanting "Lock him up.")


BALDWIN: Do you hear that chant? You don't need me to tell you what they're chanting. You know this is President Trump's first appearance at a major league baseball game. He did not throw out that ceremonial first pitch as previous presidents have done. That honor instead went to frequent Trump critic, Chef Jose Andres.

Chris Cillizza is CNN's political reporter and editor-at-large and I don't know if you were at the game, I know a bunch of our colleagues were, you know, this President, for the most part avoids crowds like yesterday and I guess we now know why. CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS REPORTER AND EDITOR-AT-LARGE: Yes, I

mean, this was the first major league baseball game he has been to, Brooke. Every president from -- and we'll start here from Taft who threw out the first one up through Trump has thrown out at least one pitch.

So let's go to where this all started, 1910, William Howard Taft. Most people know Taft, if you know anything about him because he had a bathtub that would fit four regular sized people installed in the White House. He's a big guy. Taft threw the first pitch out in 1910, Opening Day, he threw it -- because I'm a nerd -- he threw to Walter Johnson, a famous Washington pitcher called the "Big Train." Johnson then went on to pitch a one hitter. Okay.

Presidents did this throughout all the way through the 20th century. 2001 probably the most famous first pitch by a President, Game 3 of the World Series, New York Yankees - Arizona Diamondbacks. It was October 30th, six weeks after the September 11th attacks, George W. Bush in a bulletproof vest walks out to Yankee Stadium and does what we're about to show you and then George W. Bush throwing out another opening first pitch a few years later with a very different reception. Let's play that.


CILLIZZA: What a difference seven years make there, Brooke. I will say that 2001 pitch, he throws a strike. It's one of the most memorable moments of his presidency.

Now, I want one more famous/infamous first pitch, Barack Obama, 2009. We know he is a Chicago White Sox fan. It's not -- he actually threw a pretty good pitch. But here's the issue, I wish I had to tellustrator.

These jeans -- these jeans and these shoes. I know white shoes, white sneakers are very in now among the kids. This is 2009. Trust me, they weren't in then. And the jeans were maybe three sizes too big which is weird because Obama famously quite a stylish guy really missed on those jeans -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: I would actually say white tennis shoes and mom jeans are actually weirdly sort of back end, it's just taken a few years since that.

CILLIZZA: Back in now, but they will not in, in 2009, people.

BALDWIN: No, they weren't. That intensity was not in -- not in. But listen, I read your whole piece on all of this and actually my biggest takeaway was that, okay, like a lot of people don't like President Trump.


BALDWIN: #NotNews. What you point out points to something bigger just in terms of public discourse? Can you just make that point for me? CILLIZZA: Yes, so I'll do it briefly. Look, I get this, if you're a

liberal, this makes you feel good -- him being booed. People chanting lock him up. I get it. I follow Twitter. I understand all of that.


CILLIZZA: But, Donald Trump has made his name in politics by lowering the public discourse, by redefining downward what it means to be in that -- presidential.

When we respond in ways like this, there's an old saying, don't get down in the mud with a pig because the pig likes it and you get dirty. That's what you're dealing with here.