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Washington Nationals Win World Series; House of Representative Set to Hold First Formal Vote on Impeachment Process; President Trump's Top Russia Adviser to Testify to House Committee in Impeachment Inquiry; Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX) Interviewed on Rules for House Impeachment Inquiry; Wildfires Spread in Southern California. Aired 8-8:30a ET
Aired October 31, 2019 - 08:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: -- to have that happen in the last few days.
ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: That's right. He turned 21 on October 25th, perfect timing for this, right, because, I'll tell you what, they were going through champagne bottles and beer cans like crazy during that celebration. It was definitely lots of fun, and hats off to the Nationals for just an incredible season.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: You say you're a professional, Andy, but where is your protective eye wear like the rest of them were wearing?
SCHOLES: I didn't have any, and I tell you what, it hurts. Getting champagne in the eye, I don't recommend it.
CAMEROTA: Don't I know it.
BERMAN: If you notice, the camera shooting Andy right now has a little bit of film on it. It's actually the champagne -- this is not a joke. It's the champagne residue from last night that doesn't come off easily.
SCHOLES: No, yes, the halo you see right there, that is from us getting blasted nonstop in the middle of that party. I blame I think Max Scherzer the most because he was the one just annihilating everyone in the middle of that clubhouse, and he got us pretty good a few times. He did.
CAMEROTA: All right, Andy, we'll let you go lick your wounds and bask in your sorrow. Thank you very much.
SCHOLES: I'm going to go cry right now.
BERMAN: He really did seem sad. He wasn't kidding. He's was really bummed out. I've been there. I've been there.
All right, thank you to our international viewers. For everyone else, NEW DAY continues right now.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is NEW DAY with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman.
CAMEROTA: Welcome to your NEW DAY. It is Thursday, October 31st, 8:00 in the east. Happy Halloween. It's also a very big day in Washington, and not just about politics. Of course, as you just saw, the Washington Nationals are World Series champions for the first time. The Nats beat the Astros in game seven, setting off this wild celebration from Houston all the way to D.C.
BERMAN: The other major story this morning is the impeachment investigation. It is a big day that will be playing out for hours before our very eyes. The House is set to hold its first formal vote on the impeachment process, and Democrats are preparing to take their investigation public.
Also, the key witness today in the impeachment inquiry just arrived on Capitol Hill moments ago. This is Tim Morrison who pulled up to the capitol and walked through the halls. He's the president's top Russia adviser, although he announced he's leaving the White House last night, which is interesting in and of itself. He's expected to corroborate witness testimony about the alleged quid pro quo in which the president leveraged military aid to push Ukraine to investigate the Bidens. Impeachment investigators also want to hear from former National Security Advisor John Bolton. They have invited him to testify, but Bolton's lawyer has been cagey about whether he will comply with a subpoena or appear without being forced.
CAMEROTA: So joining us to discuss all of this, we have Congressman Joaquin Castro. He's a member of the House Intelligence Committee and vice chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee. Good morning, Congressman. So let's just start with what we just saw. Tim Morrison has arrived to be interviewed by one of the committees. And he is, as we've talked about, the top Russia expert and Europe expert based at the NSC, but inside the White House. He was on that call July 25th. He is in the meetings. What do you want to hear from Tim Morrison?
REP. JOAQUIN CASTRO, (D-TX) INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: I want to hear exactly what he knows about what the president said to the president of Ukraine. We have a transcript, but it's important that we go through the process of hearing from the witnesses who were actually there and listened in on the phone call. You all know that as part of the committee, I can't get into the specific testimony of what I've heard, but I can say that my impression after hearing many of these witnesses is that there was -- that the president did try to use the leverage of the United States government for political favors, for political purposes. And perhaps that's what we'll hear again today. I'm anxious to hear his testimony.
CAMEROTA: You know what's interesting is that some of our sources say that what Tim Morrison may say is that, yes, he was on that call, but he didn't think anything untoward happened, that he didn't see anything wrong with what he heard. If that is the case, could it change your impression if that's the case?
CASTRO: That would certainly be an interesting perspective or an interesting take from a witness. But certainly, there's been a lot of concern that has been expressed by other witnesses, and ultimately the judge is the United States Congress and the American people of whether the president committed an unlawful act.
And, really, as we've listened to the witnesses come in, there really is a divide here between -- not between liberal or conservative people or Democrats or Republicans. It's a divide between people who had a sense of ethics and were following the rules and were disturbed by the president's behavior, and those other group of people who seemed to go along with it or enable it or empower the president to use and abuse his office for his own political gain.
CAMEROTA: Tim Morrison announced yesterday that he is stepping down from his post. Is that significant to you?
CASTRO: I hope that that means that he'll speak more freely, that he'll be able to corroborate whatever facts we need, or perhaps speak in conflict with whatever we've heard. But I hope it means that the president and the White House don't keep him in a box.
CAMEROTA: After you heard Bill Taylor's testimony, you tweeted, obviously publicly, that you believe that Ambassador Gordon Sondland committed perjury. Why?
CASTRO: Yes, that was my impression. And I can't get into it too specifically, but his account of how things went down, of what he knew, was in conflict with what at least a few other major witnesses have told us. And that's why I tweeted that out.
CAMEROTA: Today will be the first vote on the impeachment process. As you know, Republicans have been calling for that. Nancy Pelosi had been reluctant. Today it is actually going to happen. And what, as we understand it, will happen is that then the rules will be set. Let me just pull up for our viewers some of the rules that are expected today. It will allow the Intel Chairman, Adam Schiff, the ranking member, to question witnesses for up to 90 minutes. This is for the public phase. The Republicans may request witnesses and issue subpoenas, but the Dems need to sign off on that. The House Intel will write the report and then transmit their findings to the House Judiciary. The White House Counsel can participate once those proceedings reach the House Judiciary.
So do you think that it is fair that Republicans will have to bounce whichever witnesses they want to hear off of Chairman Adam Schiff given this is such a partisan moment?
CASTRO: Yes, that's standard procedure in any committee. That's the case for any committee process whether it's intelligence or judiciary or any other committee in the Congress. And it was the case when Democrats were in the minority, and as somebody that spent 16 years in the minority party in the Texas legislature and the U.S. congress, I can tell you that that's standard practice.
CAMEROTA: What do you predict for the vote today? Just up and down party lines?
CASTRO: Yes, it will be an up and down vote, and I predict that it's going to pass. I think that you've seen even some of the Democrats who were at first hesitant to open an impeachment inquiry now come around and say that based on the evidence they've seen reported that they believe that we should pursue an impeachment inquiry. And I think if you look at the numbers, that's where either a majority or in some polls a plurality of the American people are as well.
CAMEROTA: Let's talk about all the other business that Congress is supposed to be attending to, primarily funding the government. The current stop-gap measure runs out on November 21st, which may be smack dab in the middle of the public hearings. Do you worry or have any concern that because of this impeachment process that there will be a government shutdown?
CASTRO: Well, the Congress should be able to do both of those things at once, hold this impeachment inquiry and also vote on a budget. That's what we should do. That's what we owe the American people. But as Senator Schumer said, I am concerned that the president could use this as a reason to try to shut down the government or somehow not come to any agreement either on an appropriations bill or on a continuing resolution. So, yes, that's certainly in the back of my mind.
CAMEROTA: And then what?
CASTRO: What's that?
CAMEROTA: And then what? If this becomes an impediment to the government functioning, then what?
CASTRO: Well, that's a great question. I think if we get to the point, and I hope that we don't, that you do have a government shutdown, usually it's the will of the American people that gets this Congress straight, that straightens out the politicians. That's what we saw when Ted Cruz shut down the government in 2013, that he finally had to change course because the American people speak up.
CAMEROTA: OK, Congressman Joaquin Castro, we know you need to get going. Obviously, Tim Morrison has arrived and is ready for questioning. So thank you very much for taking time to talk to us on NEW DAY.
CASTRO: Thank you.
BERMAN: We do have breaking news we need to get to. Hurricane-force winds spreading wildfires across southern California as we speak. Several homes are engulfed in flames in San Bernardino County. Mandatory evacuations under way at this hour. CNN's Omar Jimenez is live in southern California with all the breaking details. Some of these pictures we're looking at here, Omar, are just remarkable.
OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: John, this is exactly what officials were fearing and why they put out an extreme red flag warning for the first time ever this week. Homes completely engulfed in flames in San Bernardino. This is a fire that broke out early this morning here in California. At this point, people are still waking up. And for those that are in what is now a mandatory evacuation area in that San Bernardino area were woken up essentially in the middle of the night, just close to 4:00 in the morning here Pacific time, and were in some cases scrambling for their lives at points.
Look no further than those flames to see how dangerous these situations become. And you may be able to hear the wind blowing across my microphone right now. This was some of the strongest winds at least our crews have felt as we stepped outside in the early morning hours. And we know yesterday, just north of where we are here in the southern California area, we got wind gusts of 74 miles per hour. Those are hurricane speeds.
For this fire in particular, to give you an idea of how quickly it changed and how quickly it spread, when it first came through, it -- there was a report of a vegetation fire. That was how it was being described by officials. Literally an hour later it had exploded to 200 acres. And right now, as we understand from fire officials that we're hearing from, there are about 350 personnel on scene, and they are attacking it from the air, the only place and the only state where they attack it from the air and on the ground as well, Alisyn.
CAMEROTA: OK, Omar, thank you very much for being there for us. Please stay safe.
Meanwhile, will former National Security Advisor John Bolton be subpoenaed to testify, and how would he respond? Today, some critical court hearings could change the course of the impeachment investigation.
[08:15:00] BERMAN: Happening now, President Trump's top advisor on Russia is behind closed doors on Capitol Hill. Tim Morrison, being questioned in the impeachment inquiry, we understand he will corroborate much of the witness testimony to this point, alleging a quid pro quo between the president and the president of Ukraine.
Also this morning the House of Representatives will have its first vote on impeachment procedures. Joining us now CNN Chief Legal Analyst, Jeffrey Toobin, Political Analyst David Gregory and CNN's Senior Global Affairs Analyst Bianna Golodryga. Let's talk about what we just saw, Tim Morrison -- a very tall man, by the way.
CAMEROTA: He is a large presence, at least physically, yes.
BERMAN: Arriving on Capitol Hill, walking in to that deposition room, Jeffrey, and his testimony's important. He is still currently a White House employee, that won't last long -- but he was on these phone calls, he has a lot to say.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: Right, and you know, many of the witnesses -- important as they are, have been at some remove from the president. They've been in the State Department, they've been in Defense Department. Morrison works right there in the NSC which is part of the White House complex. He is basically one step removed from the president.
He works for John Bolton, John Bolton works directly for the president. And he is the person who was in charge of coordinating Ukraine policy, and he of all people should know what the real terms of the relationship were. Was it American national interest, or was it the president's political agenda -- his personal political agenda, the key factor in the relationship?
CAMEROTA: He looks like he's David Gregory tall --
BERMAN: He's that tall -- he's that tall.
CAMEROTA: He's that tall, David. Or maybe taller, I just -- I don't know yet.
DAVID GREGORY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: It's nice to see people of normal height.
CAMEROTA: Tim Morrison also announced his resignation. It's not immediate, he is still -- when he testifies he will still be at the National Security Council, still working in the White House. But he announced that it is imminent, and so the feeling is that will free him up, I guess to speak more candidly.
GREGORY: Yeah, and we don't know that that means that he's going to go out of his way to criticize the president. But I do think it's stunning to see a parade of witnesses -- particularly those who are political appointees. Who are not just bureaucrats, who are not part of the deep state as President Trump would call them, who stand up and say something wasn't right here, and he reportedly says that call didn't go as well as it could have.
This is important because the White House, and the president's top allies have made a point of saying this was a perfect call, there was nothing untoured [ph] here. And yet the people who are actually experts in this area, who work most closely with the policy are now saying one after the other there was a lot that was wrong with this call, this was bad policy, this was bad action, this was potentially abusive power -- and that starts to accumulate -- perhaps the crescendo is John Bolton.
BERMAN: He said that the call could have been better. He also said, and this is important Bianna, "Mr. Morrison said that he had a sinking feeling after learning about this conversation from Ambassador Sondland."
This is -- according to Mr. Morrison, President Trump told Ambassador Sondland that he "was not asking for a quid pro quo, but President Trump did insist that President Zelensky go to a microphone and say he is opening investigations of Biden in the 2016 election interference and the President Zelesky should want to do this himself" -- basically a quid pro quo. And if Morrison testifies to this it just adds more meat to that argument. BIANNA GOLODRYGA, CNN SENIOR GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Well yes,
because it's not just agree to do this sort of behind closed doors on a phone call to appease a president, it's to make this public. It's to go out on a record, to go on an interview with CNN of all places, and say that you are going to be opening up this investigation.
Now it's important to remember that Morrison sort of was late to the game here, he replaced Fiona Hill as the top Russia-NSE expert there and advisor to the president, and he also, like Hill is a Russia hawk (ph) -- knows U.S.-Russia, knows U.S.-Russia-Ukraine policy going back years. So he would be able to testify that this goes against U.S. interest -- U.S. national interest. That this is not a typical behavior from a U.S. president vis-a-vis an ally -- a western country that is actually being invaded as we speak, by Russia.
And we know that the president, from all of the reporting that we're hearing thus far and other testimony -- the president had a animus toward Ukraine despite the fact that every single one of these diplomats, every single one of these people who've -- we've seen testify over the past couple of weeks have said that they were actually inspired and optimistic by what they saw from President Zelensky.
We keep going back to the president of the United States talking about corruption and his concern. There are not one of these people who've testified -- not one said that they in fact agreed with the president and were concerned about corruption in the new Zelensky era.
TOOBIN: You know, it's also possible, I think to become too fixated on this issue of quid pro quo. Remember Vindman -- Colonel Vindman said, I was freaked out and appalled by the very act of the president asking President Zelensky to give him political dirt on the Bidens.
He didn't even know at that point that the aid was being conditioned on it. But the very act of asking, even without a quid pro quo was improper in Vindman's view, and I think in the minds of many. So it's been interesting, I think how the president and his supporters have turned this in to quid pro quo, or it's all fine -- I don't think that's necessarily the choice.
CAMEROTA: And David, I mean, I know that it's hard at home unless somebody has a flow chart to figure out all of these names and all of these developments. But what they need to know is that today is the most consequential day thus far in this impeachment inquiry.
And that's because of everything we've been talking about in terms of Tim Morrison, as well as today is the much anticipated vote in the House that will establish the rules for the public hearings, and then in addition to that there are these two important court cases as to whether or not Charles Kupperman has to comply with the subpoena and that has consequences for John Bolton.
GREGORY: Because you don't need the flow chart as much anymore if, as a consequence of this vote we have a public process that begins, you start to see these witnesses in gavel to gavel coverage where you can see the more complete story. Because of course we do know the end of the story -- we know how it all ends.
We know that the president admitted what he did -- we have a partial transcript of the call, though there's questions about what else might be in that -- in the transcript that was in the ellipses. But the point is, this becomes more public, you have Republicans (inaudible) opportunity to play more of a role than they've played thus far.
And then this brawl kind of breaks out in to the public, but I don't think it's going to get any less divisive, it's just going to be -- it's going to be consequential in the sense that we're going to get a vote that's going to show just how polarized the capitol is in this question. And of course the president and his allies hope that polarization extends in to those states that are most important for him to win reelection.
BERMAN: So Jeffrey, Allison brought up this court hearing today that has to do with Charles Kupperman who was the Deputy National Security Advisor. And this has to do -- he's asking a judge to tell him whether he has to comply with the subpoena to talk to the House.
The bigger importance of this is how it might relate to John Bolton, the National Security Advisor. Bolton's lawyer says that he's not going to go talk to Congress voluntarily. He's not going to go just because Congress asked nicely.
BERMAN: He says that you'll have to issue a subpoena. But then he won't even promise to go if there is a subpoena.
TOOBIN: Correct. And it is fairly common for witnesses to say, look I'm not just wandering in to testify because you asked nicely. You know, I don't want to be perceived as someone who is anxious to testify, give me a subpoena. But the issue with Bolton, and the issue with all of these NSC witnesses is that the president's lawyer, Pat Cipollone has said in a very direct way, we don't think you should testify -- we think this is an illegitimate inquiry.
Morrison, very significantly is not following that directive, he is agreeing to testify. Vindman -- Colonel Vindman, did not follow that directive and agreed to testify. The question is will Bolton? And Kupperman, ultimately decide to testify over the objections of the White House Council?
This court hearing, which I think is frankly a little bit of a bogus sideshow, I mean this guy's got a subpoena, why does he have to ask a court about whether to agree to it (ph)?
CAMEROTA: You had also predicted a couple of days ago that this is going to be tied up for a long time, are you surprised by how quickly this is now before a judge?
TOOBIN: Well, it's before a judge, it's not decided in the district court -- there is no resolution in the circuit court. So yes, the schedule is fast by Judicial standards, but it may be a long way from over --
CAMEROTA: (Inaudible) --
GOLODRYGA: And you made a really good point by mentioned that Lt. Colonel Vindman said that despite being warned, or asked, or perhaps even strongly asked to not come and testify, he in fact did -- and he returned to work the next day, right? So you had Chuck Schumer in fact reaching out to the Pentagon and saying, please don't hold anything against him or counter against him because of what he did.
I will say, in addition to Bolton who's very important to hear from, Mike Pompeo continues to be a critical player throughout all of this because up until even last night in an interview on Fox News he said once again, yes I was on that call and there was nothing wrong with that call.
So we've had witness after witness say that they expressed concern to him, that they in fact thought that call was of concern. And Mike Pompeo, the Secretary of State continues to say that that was a perfectly fine call.
BERMAN: It's interesting, the Deputy to Secretary of State who was nominated to be Ambassador to Russia, who testified -- we'll play this out in a little bit. Basically said he did see problems with this idea of what happened, and also said he saw meddling by Rudy Giuliani --
CAMEROTA: By Rudy -- right.
BERMAN: Much more about that. Jeffrey, David -- very tall David Gregory, and Bianna Golodryga, thank you all for being with us.
So as the House move toward impeachment today, the attention sooner or later is going to shift to the Senate. The warning from some key Republicans about how they plan to proceed.