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Key Witness Asks Federal Judge to Rule on Testifying; Mother of Slain Journalist on al-Baghdadi's Death; Astros Win Game Five; Wildfire Rages Near Los Angeles Freeway; Trump Leaves Dems in the Dark about Raid. Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired October 28, 2019 - 06:30   ET




ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: President Trump's former deputy national security adviser, Charles Kupperman, is scheduled to testify in just a few hours on Capitol Hill. But it's unclear if that deposition will happen now that Kupperman has asked a federal judge to determine whether he must testify. Kupperman's testimony is key because he listened in on that July 25th phone call between President Trump and Ukraine president.

Back with us now, Margaret Talev. Also joining us, CNN political commentator Joe Lockhart.

So, Margaret, this -- the -- the Kupperman issue is complicated because he's getting diametrically different orders, one from the congressional committees that want to hear from him that have issued a subpoena, and one from the White House that says that they don't want him to talk. So, now what?

MARGARET TALEV, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Right. Well, I reached out to Mr. Kupperman's attorney last night and this morning and haven't heard back yet definitively. So I think it is -- yet remains to be seen. But the legal -- the -- well, the response last week certainly suggests that he is not going to come and answer questions until a court has weighed in.

And this is important for a couple of reasons. You know, one is because we've seen other former White House officials just go ahead and defy or look past the guidance from the White House and come and speak anyway. So this is different. But the other is, of course, because Mr. Kupperman and John Bolton share the same attorney. And so the question is, is John Bolton going to take his cues from how a court weighs in, in Mr. Kupperman's case or not, and that could have real implications.


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, that's the biggie here. It's the same attorney with John Bolton. And, Joe, you know that Democrats want to speak with John Bolton. How

important is it to them and is it important enough, Joe, to have this fight in court, a fight that might take more than a day or two?

JOE LOCKHART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I think it is. And I think, you know, this is a -- a potentially very risky move for the White House because this idea of constitutional immunity I have not found a legal person who can explain any precedent for it. It's a brand-new privilege that the White House is trying to assert.

And if the judge takes that view, which I think most legal experts have articulated, then there's no excuse for someone to not go up. And I think that's what John Bolton is trying to do. He's really trying to weigh this idea of, he doesn't want to be in contempt of Congress, but he doesn't want to run afoul of the Republican establishment in Washington either. So what he's basically saying now through one of his deputies and their legal team of, I'll go up there, but I'll go up there kicking and screaming, which sort of solves his political problem in town.

CAMEROTA: This will be fascinating to see what happens today.

Meanwhile, let's move on to this weekend.

Former Chief of Staff John Kelly was at this summit and he talked about a warning that he gave President Trump in terms of what would happen once John Kelly left.

So listen to this.


JOHN KELLY, FORMER TRUMP WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: I said, whatever you do, and we were still in the process of trying to find someone to take my place, I said, whatever you do don't -- don't hire a yes man, someone that's going to tell you -- won't tell you the truth. Don't do that because if you do, I believe you'll be impeached.


CAMEROTA: Well, he's quite prophetic in terms of, Margaret, what he says he told the president. The president says, John Kelly never said that. He never said anything like that. If he would have said that, I would have thrown him out of the office. He just wants to come back into the action like everybody else does.

And then there's this.

BERMAN: Yes, this is the doozy. I mean this is actually --

CAMEROTA: This is the doozy. And, actually, Margaret, hold your thought because I want to -- I want to bounce this off of Joe because, you spoke for a former president, so here is the press secretary and what she said. She says, I worked with John Kelly and he was totally unequipped to handle the genius of our great president.

How many times did you use phrasing like that, Joe, when you spoke for the president?

LOCKHART: Yes, I would say exactly zero. This is language that we expect out of North Korea and cult of personality authoritarian regimes. And it shows that there's an audience of only one for all of these people. They only care about the president. They don't care -- they don't care about the truth. They don't care about what anyone else thinks.

And, you know, the really starring thing about what John Kelly said was, Mr. President, left to your own devices, you'll do something criminal or impeachable. And there's a context for that, which is, you look at his campaign. His campaign chairman is in jail. You look at the Trump Organization, his -- the lawyer for the Trump Organization is in jail. And the thing that, you know, now you have the president's personal lawyer under criminal investigation. The thing that ties all this together is they're all working at the direction of Donald Trump. So, Kelly was right, he needed somebody there to keep him from committing crimes.

BERMAN: Margaret, we've got to run, but do you think we'll hear more from John Kelly like this?

TALEV: I think the really interesting question is now whether Adam Schiff or any of the congressional committees decide that John Kelly would be an important person to come talk to them in the context of the current inquiry.

CAMEROTA: I'm going to guess yes, but we'll see.


CAMEROTA: But we'll see.

Thank you very much.

BERMAN: All right, the family of the journalist James Foley, who was murdered by ISIS in 2014, this morning they're celebrating the mission that killed Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of ISIS. We're going to speak with James Foley's mother, next.




DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Last night the United States brought the world's number one terrorist leader to justice. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is dead.

The world is now a much safer place.


CAMEROTA: That was President Trump announcing the success of a U.S. special forces raid this weekend that killed ISIS leader al-Baghdadi. ISIS is responsible for thousands of deaths, including those of several American journalists.

One of the journalists killed was James Foley, who traveled to Syria to bring attention to the horrors unfolding there. James' mother, Diane Foley, joins us now.

Mrs. Foley, thank you so much for being with us. Tell us where -- where you were when you heard the news of al-Baghdadi's death.

DIANE FOLEY, MOTHER OF SLAIN JOURNALIST JAMES FOLEY: Well, I was at home and it came as such a welcome surprise, really, that I was so grateful we had troops still in Syria who were able to use the intelligence and -- and make this happen. I -- I'm very, very grateful.

I'm hopeful that his demise will be a huge blow to the regrouping of ISIS. However, we need to continue to be very vigilant because they certainly want to regroup and bring back their reign of terror. But I'm very, very grateful.

CAMEROTA: You immediately expressed concern for the families of the other people, Americans, who are still held hostage in Syria. What do you want the U.S. to do?

FOLEY: Well, my hope would be that we can use that same American expertise and intelligence to find innocent Americans who have been taken hostage and bring them home. It's difficult. Many of these nations and terrorist groups want to use our citizens as political pawns and leverage and -- but I'm so hopeful that we can now find them and bring them home.


CAMEROTA: And, Diane, for your family personally, you've waited for this for a long time. I mean ever since James was abducted in 2012 and then killed in 2014. And does this give your family some measure of justice or closure?

FOLEY: Well, certainly it does. I agree with the president that it protects our world. This man was out to kill many, many more westerners for sure.

However, I think it's very important that the ISIS fighters who are in custody be brought to trial, particularly Kodi al-Sheikh (ph), the British jihadist, the Beatles, as they were called, who tortured and killed the four Americans and many, many others. I hope that they can be brought to the United States for a fair and transparent trial. And I feel the same way about the thousands in prison camps in northern Syria. They need to be also brought to trial so that their crimes can be fully exposed.

CAMEROTA: And I know that you were quite worried --

FOLEY: That, to me --

CAMEROTA: Sorry to interrupt -- about the notion that ISIS prisoners had escaped during the tumult of the past couple of weeks when U.S. forces were pulling out of northern Syria. I know that you were very concerned that ISIS prisoners had gotten out.

And so what do you think is happening now in terms of that and also why haven't -- what has the State Department told you about why some of these people responsible in ISIS for the deaths of Americans haven't been brought to justice here in the U.S.?

FOLEY: Well, a lot of the reason is because one of the alleged perpetrator's, al-Sheikh's mother, has filed suit in the United Kingdom. She has been fighting extradition to the United States. She prefers her son be tried in the United Kingdom because all of the evidence against her son cannot be used there. So she has held up their being brought to the United States in a big way. All the way to the supreme court in the United Kingdom.

But, hopefully, that is coming to an end and we can see justice and have those men held accountable for the horrific crimes they imposed on so many, including our son.

CAMEROTA: Well, Diane, of course. And, Diane Foley, thank you very much for sharing how you're feeling today and for being such a voice of justice for all of the people who have suffered at the hands of ISIS. Thank you very much. Great to talk to you this morning.

FOLEY: Thank you for your time. Thank you.


We'll be right back, I should say. We'll be right back.



BERMAN: With President Trump watching, the Astros beat the Nationals to take a three games to two lead in the World Series.

Andy Scholes was there. He has more in this morning's "Bleacher Report."



You know, the Nationals, they came home to D.C., up 2-0 in this series, and the fans here were so excited to potentially win their first-ever World Series, but the Astros just crushing all their hopes and dreams, winning all three games here in the nation's capital.

Now, before the fourth inning last night, President Trump was shown on the Jumbotron. He received some cheers and many loud boos from the crowd.


CROWD: Boo. Lock him up. Lock him up. Lock him up.


SCHOLES: Yes, you can hear there were also some chants of "lock him up." Trump was sitting with the first lady and members of Congress in a suite.

Now, as for the game, Nationals starter Max Scherzer scratched just hours before first pitch with back spasms. So Joe Ross started instead. And he gave up a pair of two run home runs to Yordan Alvarez and Carlos Correa.

The Yordan home run, check this out, going right off a fan's chest because he was double-fisting beers. That's some dedication right there. Astros ace Gerrit Cole amazing in this one. He shut down the Nationals, pitching seven innings with one run ball. Houston now just one win away from their second world series in three years with a 7-1 win.


DAVE MARTINEZ, WASHINGTON NATIONALS MANAGER: We just got to keep battling. You know, these guys, they're not going to quit. I can tell you that right now. We got the day off tomorrow, come back Tuesday, and I -- you know, I truly believe these guys will come -- get after it again Tuesday. And I told them, I said, I know we're going to go 1- 0, I said, but we're going to play game seven. I believe that. So keep pushing.


SCHOLES: Yes, the road team has won the first five games of this series. First time that's happened, guys, since 1996. No team has ever won four games on the road in the World Series, and that's what's facing the Nationals now if they want to be the champs.

CAMEROTA: I love the idea of the guy double-fisted. He was like, oh, how do I put this down? I'll just take it to the chest.

BERMAN: Just take it. No question. No hesitation.

SCHOLES: He did end up with that ball.

BERMAN: You don't have to think about that.

CAMEROTA: No, you really don't.

All right, Andy, there it -- oh.

BERMAN: You know, I don't even think he spilled a drop.

CAMEROTA: I agree. It's masterful, actually. It's masterful.

All right, thank you very much.

All right, you're looking at live pictures now of a fire that is currently raging in Los Angeles County. This fire is dangerously close to the 405 Freeway. Evacuation orders are in place at this hour. The situation in northern California also remains quite dangerous.

CNN's Dan Simon is live in Healdsburg, California, outside of a winery that burned down over the weekend.

What's the situation there, Dan?


This was the Sotarock (ph) Winery and it stood here for 150 years and then in about an hour it was reduced to ash and debris. And you're seeing scenes of devastation like this throughout the community.

And what makes this fire so extraordinary isn't just the burned-out structures, it's the impact it's having on so many people. About 200,000 folks have been forced to evacuate their homes because of the shifting winds, the dynamic winds, wind gusts over 90 miles per hour over the weekend. And then, on top of that, you have about 2 million people who have been in the dark because PG&E, the utility, cut power to prevent other wildfires from breaking out.

We should point out, though, that PG&E may ultimately be responsible for this catastrophic Kincade Fire because one of its transmission lines went down near where the fire started.


And that is just a nightmare scenario -- or could be a nightmare scenario for this company because they are in bankruptcy because of some of the culpability they faced with some of the previous wildfires.

In the meantime, this fire has charred 55,000 acres, just 5 percent contained. I can tell you, the winds have died down. So fire crews hopefully will make some progress today. But the winds expected to pick up again tomorrow night.


BERMAN: All right, Dan, I'll take it. Dan Simon up in northern California.

I do want to note, LeBron James, moments ago, wrote, quote, man, these L.A. fires aren't no joke. Had to emergency evacuate my house. And I've been driving around with my family trying to get rooms. No luck so far.


BERMAN: And these are live pictures on the screen. So LeBron James had to evacuate with his family there.

CAMEROTA: If LeBron James is having a hard time finding a place to go, you can only imagine what it's like for regular people.

BERMAN: But, again, you know, it's 3:55 in the morning now. That's real time from LeBron James. Really, really interesting. All right, this morning we know that President Trump did not notify congressional leaders before the raid that led to the death of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. In fact, he didn't call Democratic leaders at all, even after the raid, only talking to Republicans.

So, what does that tell us about the state of play in Washington with impeachment on?

Here to discuss, CNN political commentator Michael Smerconish, host of CNN's "SMERCONISH."

Michael, surprised by that?

MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I'm not surprised. I don't know that legally he was obligated to do so. I mean it's yet another example of the sad state of partisanship and polarization in Washington. I think from the White House standpoint, he would say that he was worried that leaks could occur if, in fact, word got out of the mission before it was executed. The public will have to decide whether that's credible.

CAMEROTA: Well, I certainly understand not telling people before the mission was executed. It's such a sensitive mission, you don't want anything to screw it up. But the idea, if Nancy Pelosi is right, Michael, that he alerted the Kremlin before the leadership in the House, what does that tell us?

SMERCONISH: Look, I'm troubled by that. I wish everyone got along. They don't. That's the sad state of affairs.

I -- my glass is half-full. I'm thrilled this guy is dead. I give the president credit for having given the order to carry this out. It reminds me of the aftermath of when we got bin Laden and some wanted to go back and take a look at Obama and I was thrilled to give him credit. So consistency demands that today I say, thank you, Mr. President.

In the same breath, may I remind everybody, that Ayman al-Zawahiri, bin Laden's number two, is still out there. And, guys, you remember, it used to be bin Laden, Zawahiri, bin Laden, Zawahiri. The guy's out there. He put together videos. We never hear anything. So I hope he's next.

BERMAN: Michael, what do you think this does to some of the president's Republican critics who have been very upset over the president's policy towards Syria, because that's been an interesting backdrop to the impeachment inquiry as well?

SMERCONISH: Right. I know that there's an analysis that says, hey, the success of the mission actually undercuts our withdrawal from the area. I don't know if people are going to approach it on that granular a level. My hunch is that the American people will just be thrilled that this guy, the head of ISIS, is gone, especially after watching an interview, like Alisyn just did with Mrs. Foley. I mean we're thrilled that it's over.

But there's a policy decision here that now requires more analysis and debate.

CAMEROTA: And also just that, you know, obviously if you don't have your own people on the ground, you have to rely on the intelligence from say the Kurds who -- now we have a more complicated relationship with and, you know, we just heard from Phil Mudd about what an impressive, masterful, intelligence operation this was, to figure out a moving target, you know, one person, needle in a haystack, and how well they were able to zero in on him. I mean apparently the reporting is that they'd been figuring this out for months and it just feels a little bit as though that may change now that we're changing on the ground in Syria.

SMERCONISH: The question is, can you do both? Can you withdraw and maintain the security ties and the level of intelligence gathering that's necessary to carry out a mission like this. We don't want to put more Americans in harm's way. And yet, at the same time, we want to keep our finger on the pulse of what's going on in that hot spot.

BERMAN: All right, counselor, a judge has been asked to decide whether Charles Kupperman, deputy to John Bolton, needs to testify in the impeachment inquiry. What will a judge say?

SMERCONISH: So, John, this is the big picture question. I don't know what the judge is going to say, but here's the issue for the Democrats, at what point do we shut down this phase and move on to public hearings? Do we really require Kupperman? Do we really require an effort to get Mike Pompeo, Rudy Giuliani, John Bolton? You know, the higher you get in the food chain, the stronger the case for executive privilege becomes, the more difficult it will be to obtain that testimony.


If you have the July 25 telephone conversation, the so-called memorandum, and you have Ambassador Taylor, and, frankly, according to NBC and "The Wall Street Journal."