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Trump Lawyer Says They'll Bring Tax Return Loss To Supreme Court; Trump Demands Identity Of Whistleblower Be Made Public; Trump Hosts World Series Champs Washington Nationals But Doolittle Declined Invitation. Aired 1:30-2p ET

Aired November 4, 2019 - 13:30   ET

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


[13:30:00]

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: We're going now through these pages and pages of transcripts that just came out from two testimonies on Capitol Hill.

Also, the president is facing another setback in his fight to keep his tax returns private. And now this fight is headed to the Supreme Court. We'll have more on the implications of an appeals court decision, next.

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[13:35:06]

KEILAR: President Trump is now ready to go to the Supreme Court in his effort to keep his tax returns private. An appeals court ruled today that an accounting firm used by Trump must turn over eight years of returns to a grand jury in New York.

And President Trump fought the release with the argument that, as president, he enjoys absolute immunity from any criminal process.

Joining me now to discuss, we have CNN Supreme Court Analyst, Joan Biskupic. And Kim Wehle back with us as well.

The president is going to appeal this ruling today with the Supreme Court. This decision has to do with New York's criminal investigation of the Trump family real estate business. What was the court's rationale here, Kim?

KIM WEHLE, PROFESSOR OF LAW, UNIVERSITY OF BALTIMORE SCHOOL OF LAW: The court's rationale is that there's no such thing as this kind of sweeping absolute immunity from any process whatsoever by anyone during the presidency.

Now, keep in mind here, we have a state process, we have a state prosecutor seeking information from a third-party accountant firm. We don't have Congress getting information from the White House. We don't even have information being sought from the White House about official business while he's president.

These are his personal tax returns from a third party. And the court said, wait a minute, there's no basis in the law for this massive umbrella, basically bullet-proof process for the president while he's in office. It just doesn't exist.

And the 75-page very compelling lower court decision explains in no uncertain terms to the dangers of the destruction of democracy and the Constitution if the president were to be immune from any type of judicial oversight while in office.

KEILAR: Now you have lower courts who said what Kim said, basically this doesn't exist, you don't have this protection. How would the Supreme Court see this, Joan?

JOAN BISKUPIC, CNN SUPREME COURT ANALYST: This is not a decision at the margins. It's not a fringe decision. It's by a very respected chief judge, Robert Katsun, in the Second Circuit, relying deeply on Supreme Court precedent in a Clinton case and, more importantly, from a 1974 U.S. v. Nixon case in the Watergate tape case.

If the Supreme Court were to go in another direction here, it would be startling just because how this decision is so in the main.

Some of you might remember, when this case was argued by Trump's lawyers at the Second Circuit recently, this was a case where a lawyer said, if President Trump shot someone on Fifth Avenue, there would be nothing to do here.

So the claim from the Trump administration is awfully bold, audacious, even. And I think it would be a big deal if the Supreme Court would go in another direction. But we just don't know. Obviously, they said they would appeal.

KEILAR: All right, we'll keep our eye on it.

Joan, Kim, thank you so much.

As transcripts in the testimony of two key witnesses in the impeachment probe are released this hour, the president is stepping up his demands for the whistleblower to be revealed. We'll discuss that, next.

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[13:42:46]

KEILAR: Remember, we would have never known about the phone call at the center of the impeachment inquiry if it were not for a whistleblower, a whistleblower whose lawyer says was willing to answer questions from Republicans directly, but in writing, to preserve anonymity. President Trump says that is not good enough.

My next guest, Dan Meyer, has been a whistleblower four times. He also used to oversee the program that the whistleblower went through to try to file a complaint against the president of Ukraine.

How extraordinary is this offer, first, by the whistleblower to say, hey Republicans, without going through Democrats -- what the lawyer said -- I will answer written questions but it has to be in writing to preserve anonymity?

DAN MEYER, FORMER WHISTLEBLOWER & FORMER DIRECTOR FOR WHISTLEBLOWING AND TRANSPARENCY TO THE INSPECTOR GENERAL, DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE: Well, this is an exceptional situation. It's exceptional because we normally don't have a political institution in the House to do an actual review of the whistleblower's disclosure.

But it makes sense that the attorneys are allowing for a safe way to asking questions of the whistleblower without an intermediary. I thought it was very gracious for the counsel to the whistleblower to offer that.

KEILAR: The president says that's not enough. He says that the whistleblower's identity should be revealed, that the whistleblower should come forward and testify. Just tell us what kind of danger that would put the whistleblower in.

MEYER: It could be extreme in these circumstances. And not necessarily from the president himself or not from White House staff or not even from the leadership and the agency the whistleblower works for.

But the president has a very active base. It's a faction within American politics. And there are individuals within that base who could threaten this whistleblower physically.

So this is just as disconcerting as when the identity of SEAL Team Six's leader was revealed publicly. That gave an opportunity potentially for terrorists to attack his family. The same could happen here. Domestic terrorists could come after the whistleblower.

KEILAR: What kind of concerns does his family have now?

MEYER: There could be stalking. There could be accosting in a public place. If someone had a mental health problem and access to weapons, it could threaten their physical safety.

[13:45:01]

This is a very difficult situation for any employee to be in. And if we allow an unmasking of whistleblowers prior to a time when it has to be done at a trial -- sometimes it has to happen at a trial -- if it's done prematurely, then the right protections are not in place.

KEILAR: You've heard Republicans backing up the president. They don't want writing, they don't want answers in writing, they want to hear from the whistleblower. Some might argue the whistleblower has a duty to appear. As someone with experience being a whistleblower, what do you say to that?

MEYER: Well, the due process will be afforded to everybody who is under suspicion for criminal activity. That's where it's happening now. And it will happen during the trial.

During the trial, if the evidence is to be provided against the president, a trial in the Senate, then they'll have to come forward with who the source is and the source will have to be cross-examined.

There may be situations where they can't compel someone to come forward. And they may lose that evidence. That's why these collateral sources coming forward have been so important for the other side because now they have independent corroboration of many of the original claims.

KEILAR: Dan, thank you so much. We really appreciate your insight on this.

MEYER: Nice to be here.

KEILAR: Right now, the World Series champions, the Washington Nationals -- live pictures here -- as they visit the White House. Not all of the players are there. Most of them are, by far, but we're going to discuss why these White House visits have become so politicized.

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[13:51:25]

KEILAR: Right now, the World Series champions, the Washington Nationals, are at the White House and they're celebrating their victory in the World Series with President Trump.

There's at least one Nationals player who is boycotting the event. Pitcher Sean Doolittle, who has been an outspoken supporter of immigrants and the LGBTQ community, told the "Washington Post" he couldn't bring himself to go.

This is what he said, "At the end of the day, it has more to do with the divisive rhetoric and the enabling of conspiracy theories and widening the divide in this country."

I want to bring in David Aldridge, the editor-in-chief of "The Athletic D.C." He's been covering all of this.

It's interesting, Sean Doolittle is not attending the event. We know why. There are other players not there, Anthony Rendon, Victor Roadless (ph). We don't know why they are not there. But, it's not like, oops, you didn't go to the White House to celebrate the World Series. It's a very noticeable absence.

What do you think about this -- baseball is normally not quite as political as football. What do you make of this bleeding into baseball?

DAVID ALDRIDGE, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, "THE ATHLETIC D.C.": It doesn't shock me, especially with Doolittle. Doolittle and his wife have been very strong progressive advocates for LGBTQ, especially, but also for other issues, the fight for 15. There's other things they been very strongly in favor of publicly. Used their platform to promote this. That doesn't surprise me at all.

I don't know -- if Anthony Rendon is not there. I don't know why he's not there. He's not said. Nobody's said they weren't coming other than Doolittle before today.

The absences of these other players will have to be explained in the coming days.

KEILAR: What do you make of these events becoming so politicized?

ALDRIDGE: I think everything in our country has become politicized in the last three and a half years, hasn't it? Sports events are no different.

Certainly, with sports, what you don't have in the larger society is, you have a number of prominent African-American athletes, who tend to be on the progressive side of the scale, politically, who use your platform, whether it's LeBron James or Steph Curry or some of the other pro athletes that have done so over the last year and a half that are not comfortable in this realm. They don't want it to be there.

We saw it with the woman's World Cup team. They made it very clear they didn't want to be invited. You know? And certainly the Mystics, the WNBA, the same thing.

KEILAR: I want to take the politics out of this for a moment. I hear the president describing the win. I'm a Nats fan. I went to the parade on Saturday. This was amazing to witness. And it was also this bizarre World Series with all of the wins on the road.

But what is this -- what does this mean for this community and this team.

ALDRIDGE: They are one of the most amazing teams I've ever covered, in terms of their mental toughness, to be behind in five elimination games in the playoffs. Forget 1931, when everyone thought the manager was going to get fired. The fact that they made the playoffs is remarkable.

Then to have five elimination games, to be behind in each ones of those elimination games, three of which were on the road, including game seven of the World Series, and then to come back in each and win, it speaks to a certain toughness you don't see in many teams. They need to be applauded for that. And they really are remarkable.

[13:55:02]

KEILAR: For keeping the faith and not blaming each other.

ALDRIDGE: Right.

KEILAR: It's been amazing to witness.

David Aldridge, thank you for coming on.

ALDRIDGE: You're welcome.

KEILAR: We appreciate it. We're continuing to work through these transcripts of the testimonies from two key witnesses in the impeachment inquiry, revealing new details, including Ukraine, raising concerns about Rudy Giuliani as early as February.

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[14:00:04]

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: Hi, there. I'm Brooke Baldwin. You're watching CNN. Thank you for being here.