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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER

House Releases Text Of Impeachment Rules; U.S. Colonel Delivers Damaging Testimony Against President Trump; Kushner To Biden: I've Spent Three Years Cleaning Up Your Messes; New CNN NH Poll: Sanders And Warren Neck And Neck In Lead. Aired 4:30-5p ET

Aired October 29, 2019 - 16:30   ET

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


[16:30:00]

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Democrats hope that Thursday's House vote on the impeachment inquiry process, opening hearings, providing deposition transcripts and more, will quiet Republican complaints of non-transparency, even though one of the more than 40 House Republicans who could have attended every deposition now admits that he has not attended a single one.

Republicans are debating a new way to go after the impeachment process.

And, as CNN's Kaitlan Collins reports now, so is the White House.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As the top White House expert on Ukraine testified today, President Trump was lashing out at the Purple Heart recipient without naming him, accusing Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman of being a political opponent, asking: "Was he on the same call that I was? And how many more never- Trumpers will be allowed to testify?"

The president's attacks coming as the White House is privately deciding how to respond to the latest moves by Democrats, who are now slated to take their first vote on the impeachment inquiry, forcing lawmakers to go on the record supporting the investigation.

REP. HAKEEM JEFFRIES (D-NY): Every member will have to make a decision based on their conscience.

COLLINS: The vote could work in the White House's favor or against it. Trump's aides are waiting to see what Democrats do before making any moves.

Republicans have demanded for weeks that Democrats must vote before the inquiry can be seen as legitimate, though, today, they claimed it's too little, too late.

REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): I applaud the speaker for finally admitting it is an entire sham, but you can't put the genie back in the bottle. COLLINS: One Republican congressman admitting he hasn't attended any

of the closed-door depositions.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: But why are you not there?

REP. TED YOHO (R-FL): Because I have other responsibilities in the House. And what I -- I see this as a sideshow.

COLLINS: Ted Yoho is a Republican who sits on one of the three committees allowed in the room, but he says he hasn't even read the transcripts.

YOHO: We have read the summary of Volker's, and there was one other one we did.

HARLOW: The summary, or you have gone actually to read the full transcript?

YOHO: No, just the summary of them.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COLLINS: Now, Jake, Ted Yoho said he was going to go to Vindman's testimony today, where we are told a shouting match occurred between Republicans and Democrats, with Democrats accusing Republicans of trying to out the whistle-blower, though Republicans said, no, they weren't trying to out the person by naming them.

They just wanted to find out who it was that Vindman spoke with. That happened behind closed doors. We're being told the Democrats are being prepared to move these in front of the cameras in public, though right now they're still lining people up to come privately, including the Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney's national security adviser, Rob Blair, who, Jake, was also on that July phone call.

TAPPER: All right, Kaitlan Collins at the White House, thanks.

Let's keep talking to my experts.

Amanda, I'm all for transparency. I would love open hearings. I get it all. But like when you find out that, first of all, there are more than 40 Republicans that are allowed to hear these depositions, and people like Ted Yoho, Congressman Ted Yoho, hasn't even been to one, even though he's entitled to go to that, doesn't that kind of, like, undermine Republicans' argument here?

AMANDA CARPENTER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, a little bit.

But, frankly, it's a little bit easier for Republicans, if you don't want to defend the president outright, to pretend like you don't know what's going on, like many Senate Republicans are doing right now under the defense, well, we might be jurors in a possible conviction, so I can't talk about it.

But the White House is struggling. Republicans are struggling, because there's not a coherent message from the White House. You saw Kevin McCarthy come to the cameras earlier today and talk about a mistrial. Well, that's like not a thing. There's no legally collected evidence.

You're going to be part of it. You're going to have to participate at some point. Laura Ingraham took a good stab last night and that blew up in all Republicans' faces this morning.

And then you have Steve Bannon out there literally doing a podcast to try to help Republicans' message. And I listened to it. I will save you the time. It all comes down to just questioning people's motives and accusing anyone that speaks out against the president of not supporting his America-first policy.

(CROSSTALK)

CARPENTER: That's all they got.

TAPPER: And we were talking about this dual loyalty accusation that Rudy Giuliani and Congressman Duffy and others have been making against today Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman, who has no dual loyalty.

He has shrapnel in his body fighting as part of the U.S. Army in Iraq.

But you say that the dual loyalty charge, there's even more to it than that.

MEHDI HASAN, SENIOR CONTRIBUTOR, THE INTERCEPT: Well, he's a Jewish refugee from Ukraine, came to the U.S. at the age of 3.

When you accuse a Jewish member of the government of holding loyalty to a foreign country, I think it's fair to say that's an anti-Semitic trope, if not smear. Of course, this is a president who's also-called Adam Schiff shifty Schiff. So he's not afraid of these kind of things.

Look, the whole of this process is in bad faith. You mentioned mistrial is not a thing. All of their precedent invocations are not things either. Everything Nancy Pelosi has done is by the book, within her powers. Even this vote today, there was no real need for the vote.

A federal judge said last Friday, everything's fine. You don't need to have a vote.

And guess what? Republicans have a vote. And when they had a vote, they come out and say, this is a sham, it's too little, too late.

Surprise, the Republicans are all about bad faith. That defines everything they do on this issue. And that's what will define it going forward.

[16:35:03]

You mentioned, what, 47 Republicans sit on the three committees.

TAPPER: Yes.

HASAN: Thirteen of the people who stormed the SCIF were on those committees. They could have just walked in. They didn't have to storm.

The whole thing is bad faith.

(CROSSTALK)

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: I mean, and the problem is the bad facts, right, that they're dealing with that have come out of all of these depositions, the whistle-blower, the text messages.

I talked to a person who was in those meetings and asked, is there anything that's coming out of these depositions that puts the president in a good light, right? And this person said, no.

And I imagine, if there was something that was exculpatory of the president, the Republicans would be rushing to the cameras to tell it. But all they can do at this point is talk about process. It's not going to get easier for them in terms of the messaging.

The core problem is this bad, bad set of facts for this president.

TAPPER: And what's the saying? If you can't argue the law, what is that?

LAURA COATES, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, I think the point you want to make is, you're pounding the table because you have nothing actually to talk about.

And the whole thing here, the Republicans have to understand, shooting the messenger is not effective once the message is already out. It's kind of an exercise in futility.

The message has been out multiple times now. The president and the White House issued the message at one point in time with that summation of the call. The whistle-blower complaint out there is a message. You have got Bill Taylor. You have got Fiona Hill. You have got Alexander Vindman as well.

The message is out, which is why it's so imperative to have the public hearings to essentially say you can argue and pound the table all you want, because you hate the process. But once it's already out there, that's the genie that can't go back into the bottle.

And so I think what they have right now is trying to figure out how they're going to contain a message that's loud and clear to the American public, even before an impeachment article has been drafted.

TAPPER: Quickly.

HASAN: I have a solution for the president and the White House.

According to resolution out today, Trump can turn up in Congress and argue his own case and cross-examine witnesses. I, for one, would pay money to see that.

(CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: You don't know. Maybe he will. Maybe he will.

(CROSSTALK)

COATES: Exactly what you wish for.

HASAN: No, no, I'm looking forward to it.

TAPPER: Stick around.

He's been smeared, disparaged, his loyalty to America questioned, and Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman is not the only career government employee under attack for testifying about what he sees as the facts in the impeachment inquiry.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:41:35]

TAPPER: In our politics lead, as President Trump continues to attack Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman, the top Ukraine expert on the White House National Security Council, not to mention an Army veteran and Purple Heart recipient, a reminder that Vindman is not the only one who has been sounding the alarm about the Trump-Ukraine dealings.

As CNN's Alex Marquardt reports for us now, there are several other career officials raising similar issues, despite the president trying to discredit them.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman, wearing his formal Army service uniform, was a stark reminder he was approaching his testimony today not as a political official, but a senior member of the U.S. military, an expert on Ukraine, his country of birth, then part of the Soviet Union.

JOHN YOO, FORMER DEPUTY ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL: Some people might call that espionage.

MARQUARDT: Vindman's immigration story leading some Republicans to question his patriotism.

The damning testimony in this impeachment inquiry has been all the more powerful because, like Vindman's, it's coming from people with years of service working for administrations from both parties.

KELLY MAGSAMEN, FORMER DIRECTOR FOR IRAN, NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL: It's because it's of the love of country. It's because of the oath of office that they took, the oath to the Constitution. That's the reason why they're doing why they're doing now.

MARQUARDT: Ambassador Bill Taylor came out of retirement after a 30- year career in the Foreign Service, handpicked by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to help the Trump administration in Ukraine.

The Vietnam veteran gave an explosive statement to the committees, telling them that the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, Gordon Sondland, told Taylor that everything the Ukrainian president wanted from the United States was dependent on him going to a microphone and saying he is opening investigations of Biden and 2016 interference.

For that, the president called him "never-Trumper diplomat Bill Taylor, who I don't know."

The president's former top adviser on Russia, Dr. Fiona Hill, also testified that Sondland discussed investigations, which she interpreted as a reference to the president's call for investigations into the Bidens. Hill has served as an intelligence officer on Russia, as well as working at Harvard and the Brookings Institution.

MAGSAMEN: You have to have a base of people who are experts on issues that are trying to do the right thing for the United States of America, regardless of who the president is.

MARQUARDT: Among the harshest testimony was from Marie Yovanovitch, the ambassador that Trump had recalled from Ukraine, after what she called a concerted campaign against her by Rudy Giuliani and his associates.

It was Yovanovitch's third time as an ambassador. Her first was under President George W. Bush, part of more than 30 years in the Foreign Service.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MARQUARDT: Ambassador Yovanovitch also told lawmakers in her testimony that the State Department is being hollowed out.

And, today, the president of the American Foreign Service Association, which represents U.S. diplomats, issued a pleading statement, asking them, despite the current circumstances, to stay in the service, the president saying: "The Foreign Service needs you. Your country needs you" -- Jake.

TAPPER: And let's not forget that, when the president calls Bill Taylor and Lieutenant Colonel Vindman never-Trumpers, he also said that never-Trumpers are human scum.

Alex Marquardt, thank you so much for that report.

It's already getting ugly in 2020 world. The president's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, just fired back at Joe Biden.

Stay with us.

[16:45:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TAPPER: Breaking news in our "POLITICS LEAD." President Trump's son- in-law, White House official Jared Kushner, firing back at former Vice President Joe Biden after Biden claimed that Kushner and his wife Ivanka who also works for the administration have no business serving in the White House.

And that's not all Kushner is saying. CNN White House Correspondent Jeremy Diamond joins me now. Jeremy, Kushner took a shot at Biden while abroad, while overseas.

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right. Well, Vice President Joe Biden said a couple of days ago at an interview with 60 Minutes that he thought that it was improper for Jared Kushner and for Ivanka Trump to be serving in the White House in the President's administration. He has said that his own children would not do so.

So Jared Kushner, in an interview with Israel's Channel 13, he fired back. This is what he said.

[16:50:14]

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JARED KUSHNER, SENIOR ADVISOR TO THE PRESIDENT TRUMP: Look, he's entitled to his opinion. But a lot of the work that the President's had me doing over the last three years is actually been cleaning up the messes that Vice President Biden left behind.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

DIAMOND: What those messages are, Kushner cited criminal justice issues Biden sign was part of voting for that 90s crime bill for example. Jared Kushner helped pass the first step act. Those are just a few of the issues that Kushner pointed to, but also clearly serving as a political line of attack as well here.

TAPPER: And Kushner was also asked about the impeachment inquiry. What does he have to say?

DIAMOND: That's right. Behind the scenes, we know that Jared Kushner has been very involved in discussions about impeachment at the White House, but we have not heard from him publicly on this topic very much. But here he sounded off saying that he, the President, has done nothing wrong.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KUSHNER: They've been trying to impeach the president for the last three years or get him out of office and they've been unsuccessful at that. The best thing going for the president is that he hasn't done anything wrong. They want to play silly games, then we'll obviously deal with that inappropriate matter.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

DIAMOND: And Jake, Jared Kushner also said that this is not going -- they're not going to let impeachment distract them at the White House. Of course, I would point Jared Kushner to the President's Twitter feed where he is extremely focused on this impeachment.

TAPPER: Well, maybe it won't distract Jared. Anyway, Jeremy Diamond, thanks so much. A look at a new CNN poll for the state of New Hampshire tells quite a different story than the most recent national 2020 polls. Stay with us.

[16:55:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TAPPER: In our "2020 LEAD," Senator Bernie Sanders and Senator Elizabeth Warren neck and neck in a new CNN 2020 poll of New Hampshire Democratic voters. Sanders is slightly ahead at 21 percent, Warren at 18 percent, so they're within the margin of error of each other. Biden at 15 percent, third place, Buttigieg at ten, a whole bunch of candidates tied at five percent.

This polling as candidates are swinging through these key early states, including New Hampshire, who officially filed their ballots for the primary. Let's talk about it. Our poll shows no clear leader for New Hampshire, but a state that is kind of famous for picking more moderate Democrats, you have the two Progressive candidates Warren and Bernie Sanders at the top.

HENDERSON: Yes, it's sort of the New Englanders. Obviously, Bernie Sanders won at last go-round, so I'm not really surprised that he's up top and then Elizabeth Warren there from Massachusetts. Listen, I think polls like this reminds us that it's a state by state contest. I think if you're any of those kinds of lower-tier candidates Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar, you got kind of figure out what actual state you can win, right?

Bernie Sanders clearly might be able to win a state like New Hampshire. Elizabeth Warren seems competitive there too, same in Iowa. If you're Joe Biden, you feel good about your standing in a state like South Carolina and throughout the south places like Mississippi and Georgia. So for these other candidates, they might have a lot of money. And Pete Buttigieg should be glad that he's at ten percent, but what state can you win.

If you're Amy Klobuchar, what state can you win? If you're Tulsi Gabbard, she what five percent I think in that poll.

TAPPER: Still, that's a big jump for her.

HENDERSON: It's a big jump. It might help her get into this next debate, small victory. If it doesn't look like you can actually win a state and win delegates.

TAPPER: And Mehdi, take a look at Biden's New Hampshire poll numbers in July. He was at 24 percent, now he's at 15 percent. I'm no pollster but I don't feel -- those numbers are going in the wrong direction.

HASAN: Yes, they are in the wrong direction. Last week, when I came on the show, you got a CNN national poll where he'd extended his lead and Biden's people are delighted that despite all the gaps, and all the evidence of decline that we're seeing in the debates and rallies and elsewhere, he was still doing well, still beating off Sanders and Warren.

But as we know, American elections decided on a national level. These are not the swing states, but these are the early voting states in the Democratic primaries, New Hampshire matters. Bernie having a resurgence, a lot of people thought he was finished, it was all going to be Warren and Biden on the last debate. Don't run off Bernie Sanders. He's come back. That stent is more like a kind of rocket fuel. I mean, he's got new energy, new life.

HENDERSON: His people actually say this. Yes.

CARPENTER: He's been able to kill for presidential primary.

HASAN: He was -- he was at the J Street rally this week, getting standing ovations from people at J Street who weren't always seen as very left-wing. They were seen as "moderate centrist. So you know, I think it's all to play for. The polls are all over the place. I just checked before I came in today. At this point in the cycle in 2016, Ben Carson was leading the Republican field.

TAPPER: Come on.

HASAN: On November -- start on November 2015, he was leading the polls. He took over Trump, and yet he came fifth, and he's now the Housing and Urban Development Secretary.

TAPPER: And what do you think about all this? I know you're not a particular fan. You're looking for an alternative to President Trump. You want a more moderate Democrat.

CARPENTER: Yes, like, I don't know if I'll vote for one. I think my vote is going to be for Republicans, and will show that it is not available to Trump. I have someone that he should have been able to pick up and probably won't.

That said, on the Democratic side, it's clear that people are still looking. And I would be nervous if I were any of these candidates, because you're looking for a chance to break out. And now the prospect of impeachment looms over everything. It's not a slam dunk case in states like Iowa and New Hampshire. And so these candidates are going to have to talk about impeachment, which in itself, even if you support it is a negative topic.

TAPPER: Yes, and 57 percent of these New Hampshire Democrats say they remain undecided.

COATES: Well, that's pretty much the Democratic Party right, who is the clear front runner when there isn't one. That's kind of democracy working this far out ahead of an election, so we have to stay tuned. TAPPER: All right, stay tuned, everyone. Thank you so much. I'm glad you're here. You can follow me on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter @JAKETAPPER. You can tweet the show @THELEADCNN. Our coverage on CNN continues right now. Thanks so much for watching. We'll see you tomorrow.