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House of Representative to Hold Vote on Impeachment of President Trump; Active Duty Military Officer Currently Working inside White House to Testify to Congress about President Trump's Call to Ukrainian President on Investigating Joe Biden; Rep. Katherine Clark (D-MA) is Interviewed About a Military Officer to Testify Against President Trump. Aired 8-8:30a ET
Aired October 29, 2019 - 08:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- official who would actually be defying the White House's orders not to cooperate, so his testimony is very important.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The process that's going on in Congress today is a disservice to the American people.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: House Democrats taking a significant step, setting a vote for later this week.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The cow is out the barn. They're only doing that because of the pressure.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are not willing to allow the White House to engage in a lengthy game of rope-a-dope in the courts, so we press forward.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is NEW DAY with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: And good morning, everyone. Welcome to your New Day. It is Tuesday, October 29th, 8:00 now in the east.
And the most damning testimony in the impeachment inquiry is expected to happen today. An active duty military officer currently working inside the White House, his name is Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman. He will testify that he will actually defy his commander in chief because he was so concerned about Mr. Trump's phone call with the Ukraine president. And he was so concerned about that and other things that he witnessed, he twice reported his concerns to his superiors. Vindman says he reported it out of a, quote, sense of duty. In his opening statement that has been obtained by CNN, Vindman says "I did not think it was proper to demand a foreign government investigate a U.S. citizen, and I was worried about the implications for the U.S. government's support of Ukraine." JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: As investigators hear from Vindman and four
other witnesses this week, Democratic leaders now planning to hold a vote on the impeachment inquiry Thursday. The vote will force lawmakers to go on the record supporting or opposing the investigation and will lay out the rules for the next phase, taking the probe public. The Speaker's move shuts down a key GOP talking point that the inquiry is not legitimate because there never had been a formal vote.
We are already seeing, though, some of the president's Republican allies trying to discredit today's witness, Colonel Vindman, who we will note was awarded a purple heart and is an active member of the U.S. military. Listen to what Congressman Sean Duffy, former Congressman Duffy, said right here on NEW DAY moments ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RACHEL CAMPOS-DUFFY, CONSERVATIVE COMMENTATOR: Mr. Vindman, he's an adviser to the president. He is a former Ukrainian. He wants to make sure that taxpayer money goes in military aid to the Ukraine.
BERMAN: I'm sorry. I'm sorry. Why does it matter where he was born?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: You hear me saying why does it matter where he was born? He moved to the United States when he was three-years-old with his family. He's been in the military for 20 years, again, awarded the Purple Heart, an active duty member. Sean Duffy questioned, he said he didn't know whether or not Colonel Vindman put America first, which is a pretty shocking statement to make about --
CAMEROTA: But you are starting to hear it more than just from Sean Duffy.
BERMAN: Joining us now, Joe Lockhart, former Clinton White House press secretary, Abby Phillip, CNN political correspondent, and Jeffrey Toobin, CNN chief legal analyst. And I do want to start with Colonel Vindman, what he is going to say today. And let me just read you part of what he will testify. This is part of his opening statement. He said "I was so concerned by the call, I did not think it was proper to demand that a foreign government investigate a U.S. citizen, and I was worried about the implications for the U.S. government's support of Ukraine." He reported it twice to NSC lawyers.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: Right, and he was so outraged, even before the issue of quid pro quo arose. The simple act, he thought, of the president asking President Zelensky of Ukraine to investigate an American citizen, the political rival of the president, was so outrageous to Vindman that he thought that needed to be reported up the chain of command. And this was even before the issue of, well, was American aid conditioned on this? It just shows how outrageous this was, to him, and I think many others.
CAMEROTA: And so unambiguous. It wasn't open to interpretation. He was so clear on what he was hearing that it raised all of these alarm bells. Here's another piece from his opening statement that I think is really interesting, Abby. "In the spring of 2019, I became aware of outside influencers promoting a false narrative of Ukraine inconsistent with the consensus view of the interagency. This narrative was harmful to the U.S. government policy. While my interagency colleagues and I were becoming increasingly optimistic on Ukraine's prospects, this alternative narrative undermined U.S. government efforts to expand cooperation with Ukraine." It's interesting, Abby, because he was on the call. It's not hearsay. He was on the call. He was concerned about it, and he was starting to see things around him that he was quite concerned about.
ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: See things that he clearly believed were contrary to U.S. foreign policy. And this is important, because what we heard in the last hour was an attempt to imply that Vindman could not possibly have U.S. interests in mind because, maybe he wasn't born in the United States, or perhaps he had some preference for Ukraine. But the fact of the matter is it is the United States government's policy that the U.S. support Ukraine in their fight against Russia.
That is a bipartisan consensus, and that's what Vindman is saying there. And if President Trump, who runs the federal government, wants to change that policy, he could do that with his own government. He did not. He used Rudy Giuliani and, in Vindman's view, used Giuliani to push a narrative about Ukraine that was political in nature, that Vindman believed would undermine a bipartisan support, not just for aid but foir Ukraine in general.
So the facts are important here. And it's really important to note that President Trump could have done this a normal way. He could have used the government that he runs --
CAMEROTA: If he wanted to change the policy, he could have changed the policy.
PHILLIP: And he did not do that.
JOE LOCKHART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think I've learned from Counselor Toobin the phrase consciousness of guilt. When someone reports something up the chain, a normal White House would look and say, well, that's not what the president meant and let's clear that up and make sure. But what they did is the opposite. They tried to hide it. They moved the transcript to a secret server. They did everything they could. The White House lawyers, rather than going in and saying this is running contrary to policy or there's something abnormal here, sought to cover this up, which tells you that they knew what they were doing was wrong and they continued to do it anyway.
TOOBIN: If you were doing a real investigation, you would talk to a lot more people in the White House. But the White House has said no one is allowed to talk. And Vindman is risking his career by coming in and talking, notwithstanding the instructions of the White House counsel Pat Cipollone. We'll see if others come forward in light of Vindman's testimony.
BERMAN: He's risking his career. Given what former Congressman Duffy and other allies of the president are saying right now, he's really laying it all on the line. His choice to testify is extraordinary considering he's active duty military, considering the attacks, the unfounded attacks that he just opened himself up to.
TOOBIN: And, again, the story gets so interesting and complicated. He has an identical twin brother who is also a lieutenant colonel in the military and also working in the White House at this moment. So if this is some sort of Ukrainian plot, it has a double barreled effort. I mean --
CAMEROTA: Thank you for suggesting that.
TOOBIN: This FOX News insanity and, with all due respect to our new contributor, former Congressman Duffy, his insanity and, frankly, anti-immigrant bigotry that is reflected in casting aspersions on Vindman is --
CAMEROTA: He was saying that he himself is of Irish descent and he may feel some sort of loyalty to Ireland. He's just spelling it out. I appreciate Sean Duffy's candor. I appreciate the candor of how he sees all of this, because we are hearing it on FOX TV and elsewhere, and we're going to be hearing it all day.
LOCKHART: It's worth noting, though, when you walk into the White House, most of the staff there are not the people close to the president. So I'm not surprised the president is saying, I don't know this guy. He should know this guy if Ukraine is important to him because he's his point person. But most of these people either are detailed from the Pentagon or the CIA --
CAMEROTA: National Security Council.
LOCKHART: Or National Security Council, or are there. It doesn't matter who the president is. And their loyalty is to the government and to the country, not to any individual politician who happens to get elected. But their job depends on the president wanting them there, because he can get rid of him. And it is an act of courage to come forward like this.
PHILLIP: I will say, it does seem to put some additional pressure on some of the people who have been hemming and hawing about whether they're going to go before Congress, like Charles Kupperman who yesterday pushed this to the courts. Here is someone who is currently working in the White House and made a determination that he is able to testify under subpoena. It really calls into question whether the conflict for Charles Kupperman is that he can't or that he simply doesn't want to, because he's not willing to risk, perhaps, his reputation in the same way that Alexander Vindman has.
BERMAN: He can walk in there today and testify if he wanted to. There's no way to keep him from doing it. But he is choosing this legal stalling tactic, and we'll see how long it works. I want to play -- we're talking about how Republicans are justifying
or dodging in some cases or choosing to comment on what's going on. I want you to watch Manu Raju, our senior congressional correspondent, confront Congressman Mark Amodei, a Republican from Nevada, about some of the facts, the substance of this investigation so far. And watch this incredible dance.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The White House transcript that was released had President Trump asking President Zelensky to open an investigation into the Bidens.
REP. MARK AMODEI, (R-NV): Do you know if they've even got plans to call the whistleblower? Because I heard they didn't. Now, I don't know if that's true.
RAJU: You're not answering my questions about the substance of the allegation.
AMODEI: I disagree with your conclusion. It's a conclusion, not a --
RAJU: I'm asking you about what's in the White House transcript.
AMODEI: My English teacher says you've got a conclusion. So if you want to interview yourself, go right ahead.
RAJU: Why don't you want to answer the question. Is it OK for the president to ask --
AMODEI: It's not a question.
RAJU: -- a foreign country to investigate the Bidens.
AMODEI: Why don't you want to do an interview instead of interviewing yourself?
RAJU: The president asked on the White House lawn --
AMODEI: Will you answer my question?
RAJU: On the south lawn of the White House the president asked China to investigation the Bidens. Is that OK?
AMODEI: You know what, if you don't want to interview me, then interview yourself.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: I haven't heard logic like that since second grade.
TOOBIN: I'm fluent in English. I have no idea what he was talking about. BERMAN: There wasn't an answer in there. Clearly there wasn't an
answer and a mass avoidance of even answering the substance of the question.
TOOBIN: And one of the interesting things about the vote that the Congress is going to take on Thursday is that one of the claims that Republicans have made is that there hasn't been a vote authorizing this inquiry. That's been a big process argument. One of the -- we'll see once this vote -- it's going to pass with some -- we don't know exactly how much, but certainly Nancy Pelosi is going to win this vote. And the question of, will that prompt more Republicans to start talking about the merits of the case against the president as opposed to the process.
CAMEROTA: No, you've already heard it. Now they're going to impugn Vindman's character. You already heard what he led with which is, where's the whistleblower? So you're going to take the vote. I don't think I've heard from the whistleblower yet. Obviously, I hear them casting about. They're casting about because, as we've talked about, the fact pattern is a tough one.
PHILLIP: They might need to talk to the president about that, because President Trump wants to talk about the substance. He still thinks this call is perfect. He still is talking about how the transcript of the call vindicates him, which pretty much no Republican is willing to say at this point. So they're going to come up against a problem here. The president wants his defenders to be more staunch in defending the substance of the call. They are clearly, based on that clip that we just saw, not willing to do that.
CAMEROTA: Last word, Joe.
LOCKHART: Now that the champagne has opened --
LOCKHART: Listen, I think that Pelosi has handled this masterfully. She held off this vote. The vote isn't hard for the Democrats, the vulnerable Democrats. They've already said they're for opening an impeachment. The ads are going to run against them. I'm sure they've probably already started. But what she did is she allowed the Republicans to walk out and make all of these process arguments that she's now said, I'm giving you a vote to give you exactly what you asked for, and you're going to vote against it. So I think it's much more about getting to the place where Republicans will say, yes, he did it. There's nothing wrong with it. I agree with the president.
CAMEROTA: We'll see what changes today. Abby, Jeffrey, Joe, thank you very much.
The first vote, as we're saying, is now scheduled for Thursday on the impeachment inquiry. So what can we expect in the coming weeks? A member of the House Democratic leadership is going to join us with that and more.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [08:16:58]
BERMAN: A grandfather whose young granddaughter fell to her death on a cruise ship now faces charges. Puerto Rican authorities charged Salvatore Anello with negligent homicide. Prosecutors say 18-month- old Chloe Wiegand fell after her grandfather raised her on to rails near an open window to the 11th floor of the cruise ship. An attorney for the family says they thought the window was closed. Chloe's parents blame the cruise line saying the window should not have been open.
CAMEROTA: What a horrible story.
Well, this morning, an active duty army officer who works in the White House will testify before the House committee's leading the impeachment inquiry. Colonel Alexander Vindman's opening statement provides some of the most damning, and direct testimony yet. House Democrats will move forward with their first impeachment vote this week.
Joining us now is Congressman Katherine Clark. She is the vice chair of the Democratic Caucus.
Good morning, Congresswoman.
REP. KATHERINE CLARK (D-MA): Good morning, Alisyn.
CAMEROTA: OK. So the colonel's testimony, he is a Ukraine expert. He is the first person that the committees will hear from who was actually on that July 25th phone call and was disturbed by what he heard. He went to his superiors, not once, but twice. He went to legal counsel to talk about how disturbed he was because he was hearing a fundamental shift in the relationship between the U.S. and Ukraine that involved a deal for political dirt on president Trump's opponent.
Do you think that today is a game changer somehow with this testimony?
CLARK: I certainly think that Colonel Vindman's testimony as we were able to see in his opening statement is going to be firsthand evidence of the betrayal of this president, of his oath of office, of the integrity of the 2020 elections and of our national security. It is part of the Patriots who are coming forward at great risk to them and their careers to share the truth with the American people.
And I think that he corroborates the testimony that we've heard from Bill Taylor and Fiona Hill. So, this is going to be very important testimony to be taken today on Capitol Hill.
CAMEROTA: What you're starting to hear from some Republicans, and we just had former Congressman Sean Duffy of Wisconsin on 20 minutes ago, as well as in some right wing media, they are beginning to cast doubt on Colonel Vindman. They -- despite the fact he's a Purple Heart recipient and all the credentials you just lay out, they point out that he was born in Ukraine. He emigrated here when he was 3 years old. They're starting to say that perhaps he can't be trusted. Your thoughts?
CLARK: My thoughts are simple. Here we have a clear example of the Republicans who have no excuse for the conduct of the president and who sees mounting evidence of truly a betrayal of our democracy.
And so, they're approaching two tracks. One is to focus on process as we saw with the political stunt from last week, storming the SCIF, and then going in and eating pizza there. And now, they are trying to assassinate the character of a Purple Heart winner, you know?
And we've seen this playbook before from this administration -- obstruct, stonewall, and if that doesn't work, when people put their country over their own self-interest, then you go after them and you try and attack them as immigrants. Unfortunately, this is not a new tact of this administration or the complicit Republicans.
ROMANS: They're also -- some of the Republicans are also saying the vote that Nancy Pelosi has now scheduled for this Thursday, the first vote on impeachment, is Democrats caving to Republican pressure.
Let me play it for you what Senator John Kennedy said yesterday about how this is clearly GOP pressure and it doesn't really matter anyway.
Listen to this moment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN KENNEDY (R-LA): The cow's out of the barn, OK? They're only doing that because of the pressure. They don't want to do that. Any modifications that they're making right now is just like putting paint on rotten wood.
And I think they've made up their mind. And if they've made up their mind, then they need to go ahead and send the articles to us.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: Let me get you to respond to two portions of that. Is this vote on Thursday a result of GOP pressure?
CLARK: You know, the Republicans continue to flounder about, looking for something that they can do to distract the American people from the truth that is emerging here. So what we have here is what we've always said. We are going to let the facts dictate the timeline and the process.
And this resolution that we're taking up this week is a signal that we are moving from the private interviewing that is a process that was held up by the courts as recently as Friday -- Republicans know that -- moving to public hearings. And it is important that we have this resolution to set out how the evidence goes from the Intelligence Committee to the Judiciary Committee. A more public viewing of these transcripts and live witness testimony moving from a confidential, highly secure setting to one that is public.
That is all that is happening here. The Republicans know it. But again, when you cannot say there have not been abuses of power, when the evidence is mounting daily against this president and what he's done, the betrayal of his oath of office. The abuse of power for his own political gain, it's all they have to say. It's all they have to fall back on.
CAMEROTA: Congresswoman Katherine Clark, you answered everything that Senator John Kennedy there raised. Thank you very much for your time.
CLARK: Thank you, Alisyn.
BERMAN: We have breaking news this morning.
General Motors taking a huge financial hit from the strike. The new numbers showing how much the company lost, next.
BERMAN: All right. Breaking news, General Motors earnings -- they are out. On the plus side, they beat expectations, but the automaker is projecting losses of nearly $3 billion due to the six-week-long United Auto Workers strike.
CNN's Vanessa Yurkevich is live in Lordstown, Ohio.
Another set of issues there where this GM plant recently closed and was not reopened in the strike negotiations. You have all the breaking details for us.
VANESSA YURKEVICH, CNN BUSINESS & POLITICS CORRESPONDENT: Hi, good morning, John.
Yes, that's a big number coming from GM, but that's also having a big impact on a place like Lordstown. It may say "home of the Cruze" behind me but GM is no longer producing cars here. This plant is closed.
And that is leaving workers who were holding out hope facing some very harsh new realities.
TIFFANY KING, FORMER GM WORKER: Never, ever, ever did I think I would see this day.
YURKEVICH (voice-over): Tiffany King spent more than half her life working at this GM plant in Lordstown, Ohio. This parking lot once filled with the cars she helped build. Now it sits completely empty.
KING: It's all gone in a blink, in an instant. YURKEVICH: This is her first time back since she helped build the
last Cruze six months ago. She's held out hope this engine would start again. But that ended Friday. GM and the United Auto Workers Union signed their contract with no new plan for Lordstown.
KING: By that time, my mind was already made up I was going to stay here. I wanted to stay here. This is my home, my community.
YURKEVICH: Lordstown, the poster child for the auto industry, once a huge economic driver for this rural part of the state, not anymore.
President Trump took notice, came to town and promised these workers their jobs.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Don't sell your house. Do not sell it. We're going to get those values up. We're going to get those jobs coming back. And we're going to fill up those factories or rip them down and build brand-new ones. That's what's going to happen.
YURKEVICH: But it didn't. Most workers have left town, and the city says it's lost $1 million since March. These two shuttered restaurants are signs of the times.
What will this area start to look like in the next couple of months, next couple of years?
BILL ADAMS, VICE PRESIDENT, LOCAL UNION 1112: I would say it's going to get --