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Interview With Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA); Trump Tax Fight; Yovanovitch Transcript Released; House Democrats Release Testimony Of Key Impeachment Witnesses; Alleged White Supremacist Accused Of Synagogue Bomb Plot; CNN: Mueller Interview Notes Show Origins Of Trump Pushing Conspiracy Theory Ukraine Involved In DNC Hack; Trump At War With California Governor Over Wildfires. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired November 4, 2019 - 18:00   ET

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


[18:00:13]

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Happening now, breaking news: dangerous Giuliani.

New details tonight on testimony by top impeachment witnesses, who say U.S. policy in Ukraine was hijacked by the president's personal lawyer and Mr. Trump's political goals. We're breaking down the just- released transcripts.

Obstruction evidence. That's how a lead impeachment investigator is now describing new administration stonewalling, as a slew of key witnesses refused to testify. How will that impact the probe and the timetable for public hearings?

Trump's taxing blow. The president loses a legal appeal to keep this tax returns secret and out of the hands of New York prosecutors. The fight now heading to the U.S. Supreme Court.

And Harris makes her case. I will talk to the 2020 Democratic presidential candidate about impeachment and the presidential race, as she's now betting the future on her campaign in Iowa.

Senator Kamala Harris joins us live.

We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BLITZER: We're following breaking news on just-released transcripts of pivotal testimony in the impeachment inquiry.

The ousted U.S. ambassador to Ukraine telling lawmakers that Rudy Giuliani's shadow campaign to dig up political dirt for President Trump undercut U.S. policy. Marie Yovanovitch says Ukrainian officials warned her that engaging with Giuliani was dangerous, and she should watch her back.

Yovanovitch, who was later removed from her post, says she felt threatened by the president. In other testimony, a former top adviser to Secretary Mike Pompeo said

the State Department was being used to advance Mr. Trump's domestic political goals, and that's a big reason that he resigned.

I will get reaction from Senator and Democratic presidential candidate Kamala Harris. And our correspondents, analysts and other guests are also standing by.

First, let's go to our senior national correspondent, Alex Marquardt.

Alex, impeachment investigators released the first round of transcripts from those closed-door depositions.

ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right, Wolf.

This is just the beginning of the new public phase of this impeachment inquiry. There were two transcripts that were released today from the former Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, well as Mike McKinley, a former top aide to the secretary of state.

Now, both of these transcripts add a lot to what we had already learned from sources, including new allegations about what was called a very dangerous shadow policy in Ukraine.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MARQUARDT (voice-over): Tonight, the impeachment inquiry moving into public view, as transcripts of closed-door testimony are released for the first time, explosive comments made under oath by former Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, and Michael McKinley, a former top aide to the secretary of state who resigned in protest.

Yovanovitch telling lawmakers that the rogue Ukraine policy, led by President Trump's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani was "not good policy," kind of a partisan game that cut the ground from underneath the U.S. Embassy."

"Ukrainians were wondering whether I was going to be leaving," Yovanovitch said, "whether we really represented the president."

Yovanovitch said that, late last year, she learned from Ukrainian officials about a concerted campaign that Giuliani and a former prosecutor had plans and that they were going to, "you know, do things, including to me."

A senior Ukrainian official warning her to watch her back.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): That smear campaign orchestrated by this irregular channel was successful in removing a U.S. ambassador and tarring her reputation.

MARQUARDT: After repeated attacks from Trump allies, like his son Don Jr. and Giuliani, Yovanovitch, who is a 33-year veteran of the Foreign Service, went to Ambassador Gordon Sondland, a point man for the president on Ukraine, for advice. His response? "You need to go big or go home. Tweet out there that

you support the president and that all these are lies and everything else."

McKinley, for his part, said he was "disturbed by the implication that foreign governments were being approached to procure negative information on political opponents and what appears to be the utilization of our ambassadors overseas to advance domestic political objectives."

McKinley says he went to his boss, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, three times for a show of support for Yovanovitch, but Pompeo didn't respond, which is directly at odds with what Pompeo told ABC News.

MIKE POMPEO, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: I never heard him say a single thing about his concerns with respect to the decision that was made.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS: So, you were never asked to put out a...

POMPEO: Not once, not once, George, did Ambassador McKinley say something to me during that entire time period.

MARQUARDT: Officials at the State Department were reluctant to show support, Yovanovitch said she was told, in case the rug would be pulled out from under them by Trump.

[18:05:09]

Finally, Trump pulled Yovanovitch out of Ukraine in May. She said she was called at 1:00 in the morning and told to get on the next flight to Washington.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I heard very, very bad things about her for a long period of time. Not good.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MARQUARDT: And there is much more to come from these depositions.

So far, there have been 13 hearings behind closed doors. The committees leading the inquiry or releasing these transcripts bit by bit. Tomorrow, we're expecting to see two more transcripts from two of the president's point men, Wolf, on Ukraine, Kurt Volker, the former special envoy to Ukraine, and Gordon Sondland, the current U.S. ambassador to the European Union.

BLITZER: We will see how fascinating those transcripts are as well.

Alex, thanks very much for that report.

As House Democrats prepare to release more testimony transcripts, they're also dealing with new defiance by multiple witnesses who refused to appear before Congress today.

Let's bring in our Senior Congressional Correspondent, Manu Raju. Manu, what are you hearing from impeachment investigators about these

witnesses and the road ahead?

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, Democrats had set out an ambitious schedule for this week, but they're not getting much cooperation. Just today, four White House officials defied subpoenas, including John Eisenberg, who is a top attorney at the National Security Council, someone who fielded complaints from individuals about that push to investigate the president's political rivals, the Ukraine investigation.

Those concerns were raised to Mr. Eisenberg. Also, there were -- he was involved in that effort to push for the transcript of the July phone call between President Trump and President Zelensky, in which they talked about that investigation into the Bidens. He ordered that to be placed on a secure server. He did not come today.

Now, at the same time, there are also questions about whether John Bolton, the former national security adviser, someone who has been mentioned in a number of different testimonies, will come forward as well. He apparently also had concerns about this effort to investigate the president's political rivals via Ukraine.

Now, he is represented by an attorney who represents his former deputy Charles Kupperman. And Kupperman has already defied a congressional subpoena. And he has asked a court to rule about whether he should comply with that request.

Now, I asked Adam Schiff, the House Intelligence Committee chairman, if he would fight this and wait to see how the court proceedings play out and secure this testimony, or if he would charge ahead with his impeachment probe.

He suggested he would do the latter.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RAJU: One of the witnesses who was supposed to come, Charles Kupperman, filed a lawsuit to essentially force a ruling about whether he should testify. That's going to be delayed until December.

It's possible John Bolton also may follow a similar course. Will you delay your proceedings to ensure you get their testimony? Or are you ready to move forward without hearing from these key witnesses?

SCHIFF: We're not going to delay our work. That would merely allow these witnesses and the White House to succeed with their goal, which is to delay, deny, obstruct.

RAJU: Is it OK for officials to defy congressional subpoenas?

REP. JIM JORDAN (R-OH): Look, if the process was fair, if there are real due process rights, I don't think you would see it happening. I think you would see the witnesses come, but they understand what kind of rigged game this is.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RAJU: The last comment from Jim Jordan, the top Republican on the Oversight Committee, no concerns with defiance of subpoenas.

But, Wolf, Democrats are suggesting that this could all be used as more evidence of obstruction of Congress when they start to move towards articles of impeachment, which could occur later this year -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Yes, I'm sure they will.

Manu Raju, thank you very much.

As Americans are able to read new impeachment testimony for themselves, President Trump is clearly on the attack right now against his former U.S. ambassador and other key witnesses.

Let's go to our Chief White House Correspondent, Jim Acosta.

Jim, the president is resorting to a familiar tactic, trying to discredit his critics.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: He certainly is, Wolf.

President Trump is responding to the mounting evidence in the impeachment inquiry by attacking the whistle-blower and other key witnesses, such as the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, as well as the national security official Alexander Vindman.

The president is sending a clear warning to witnesses who testify against him, threatening to disclose damaging information about Vindman.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ACOSTA (voice-over): With transcripts of damaging testimony being released in the impeachment inquiry, President Trump is taking aim at the investigation's most crucial witnesses.

The president took a swipe at former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, who testified she felt threatened by Mr. Trump.

TRUMP: You look at the transcripts, the president of Ukraine was not a fan of hers either. I mean, he did not exactly say glowing things.

ACOSTA: But the president is still saving his toughest rhetoric for the mysterious whistle-blower who prompted the probe, claiming, without proof, that he's a partisan Democrat.

TRUMP: If he's the whistle-blower, he has no credibility, because he's a Brennan guy. He's a Susan Rice guy. He's an Obama guy. And he hates Trump.

ACOSTA: The president wants to blow the lid off of the whistle- blower's identity, tweeting: "The whistle-blower gave false information and dealt with corrupt politician Schiff. He must be brought forward to testify."

[18:10:05]

But that's not accurate. Much of the whistle-blower's account has been confirmed by the rough White House transcript of Mr. Trump's call with the leader of Ukraine, as well as by witnesses like national security official Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman.

The president is hinting he will go after Vindman's character.

QUESTION: What evidence do you have that Colonel Vindman is a never- Trumper?

TRUMP: We will be showing that to you real soon. OK?

ACOSTA: That's despite the fact that the White House is still struggling to answer whether the president sought a quid pro quo.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Was -- was there a time when military aid was held up because the president wanted Ukraine to look into the Bidens?

KELLYANNE CONWAY, COUNSELOR TO THE PRESIDENT: I don't know.

ACOSTA: The president is pushing back on any notion that GOP senators are beginning to concede Mr. Trump's Ukraine call was inappropriate, tweeting: "False stories are being reported that a few Republican senators are saying that President Trump may have done a quid pro quo, but it doesn't matter. There is nothing wrong with that. It is not an impeachable event."

Democrats point to the witnesses who testified there was a quid pro quo.

REP. CHRISSY HOULAHAN (D-PA): If all of those things are true -- and, largely, the testimony that I have heard has corroborated that -- then we really do have something that's very, very serious and grave.

ACOSTA: The president was handed another major legal setback when a federal appeals court ruled Mr. Trump must turn over his long secret tax returns.

Mr. Trump's lawyer Jay Sekulow said in a statement: "The decision of the Second Circuit will be taken to the Supreme Court. The issue raised in this case goes to the heart of our republic. The constitutional issues are significant."

The president has argued repeatedly he shouldn't release those returns while he's under audit.

TRUMP: I'm always under audit, it seems, but I have been under audit for many years because the numbers are big. And I guess, when you have a name, you -- you're audited. But until such time as I'm not under audit, I would not be inclined to do that.

ACOSTA: The foul atmosphere in Washington may explain why the president is clinging to the World Series champion Washington Nationals, who were invited to celebrate at the White House.

TRUMP: America fell in love with the Nats baseball. They just fell in love with Nats baseball. That's all they wanted to talk about -- that and impeachment.

(LAUGHTER)

TRUMP: I like that Nats baseball much more.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ACOSTA: The president slammed the suggestion that the whistle-blower could be allowed to respond to written questions in the impeachment inquiry.

But the president is forgetting something very important. His own legal team was just fine with written questions when Mr. Trump was answering them in the Russia investigation.

Wolf, we should also point out, about those long secret tax returns, we asked the president about that as he was departing for this rally in Kentucky this evening. He didn't answer the questions -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Jim, thank you, Jim Acosta at the White House.

Joining us now, Senator and Democratic presidential candidate Kamala Harris. She serves on the Judiciary Committee, which would conduct an impeachment trial of the president of the United States.

Senator, thanks so much for coming in.

SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Good to be here.

BLITZER: You're a busy lady. You're also on the Intelligence Committee, the Homeland Security Committee.

HARRIS: Yes.

BLITZER: You have got a lot -- and you're running for president as well. So you're a busy lady.

HARRIS: Yes.

BLITZER: How concerning are these comments we heard from these two ambassadors today, Ambassadors Yovanovitch and McKinley, both career Foreign Service officers, professional diplomats who've been doing it for 30-plus years?

HARRIS: Right.

Well, first, let's applaud them for their patriotism, because, in spite of the fact that the president of the United States, who is also the commander in chief, has attempted to smear them and threaten them, they still have had the courage, I believe, based on love of country, to come forward and let the American people know what really happened. And this is yet again another example of Donald Trump exercising his

power in a way that is completely about self-service, and not in the best interest of our nation, not in the -- certainly not in the best interest of truth, not in the best interest of justice, and not in the best interest of our national security.

BLITZER: Based on everything you have heard so far, Senator, if he is impeached in the House, it comes to a trial in the Senate, would you vote to convict and remove the president from office?

HARRIS: Well, Wolf, we will let the process take its course, but based on everything I have seen, yes.

BLITZER: The answer is yes. All right, let's talk...

HARRIS: And because let's be clear, Wolf.

I am a former prosecutor. I have handled a lot of cases over my life. And when we are looking at this, we are talking about basically a confession. We are talking about the commission of this offense in plain sight, a cover-up of evidence.

And so there really is not, in this case, much left to the imagination, frankly.

BLITZER: But you believe the evidence is crystal clear?

HARRIS: It appears that way.

BLITZER: As a prosecutor, you're putting on your prosecutor's hat.

HARRIS: Yes.

BLITZER: One of your rivals, former Vice President Joe Biden, says the impeachment inquiry should look at everything, not just the Ukraine scandal, right now.

Do you agree that the scope should include the Mueller report and all those allegations that were suggested in there?

HARRIS: I do. And I will tell you why.

We -- and the framers, in their brilliance, the framers of our Constitution, the founders of our nation, they imagined a moment such as this, where there would be an abuse of power by one branch of government.

[18:15:07]

And so they designed our democracy anticipating this and therefore creating three co-equal branches of government that would be a check and balance on any abuse of power.

The impeachment process is that check on the abuse of power by Donald Trump. Why am I saying that? Well, look, we know that there were at least 10

individual counts of obstruction of justice. The Mueller report tells us that. Bob Mueller essentially told us that, so the only reason that he didn't proceed with an indictment is because of some memo that says the Department of Justice cannot indict the sitting president.

But if you read through the report, which I have, and the memo, you will know it leaves open Congress and its responsibility then to act. And that's what's happening.

So the 10 counts of obstruction of justice, as well as what has happened in terms of Ukraine, should absolutely be considered in this process.

BLITZER: That memo from the Office of Legal Counsel over at the Department of Justice.

HARRIS: That's right. That's right.

BLITZER: Let's say there is a trial in the Senate.

You're a juror in the Senate, but you're also campaigning in Iowa and New Hampshire and elsewhere.

HARRIS: Yes.

BLITZER: What would be your priority?

HARRIS: Well, my priority is to be present and to make sure that justice occurs.

BLITZER: Even if it lasts for several weeks, you would stay in Washington?

HARRIS: Well, listen, Wolf, I do believe that justice is on the ballot in 2020.

And when we have a criminal living in the White House, I believe that there should be all of us fighting for justice and accountability. And that is part of the process.

BLITZER: Let's talk a little bit about some of the issues out on the campaign trail right now.

HARRIS: OK.

BLITZER: Your fellow 2020 contender Senator Elizabeth Warren, she's released her Medicare for all plan.

She says it would not include a penny increased in middle-class taxes. How do your two plans differ?

HARRIS: There's significant differences, actually.

My plan, which I believe is the best plan, frankly -- and there are independent folks, including Kathleen Sebelius, for example, who has reviewed my plan and says it is the most effective in bringing coverage for everyone.

It brings costs down. It covers everyone, including people with preexisting conditions. It extends coverage for Medicare to include dental and vision and hearing aids, which are very expensive.

And then the points of distinction are, I have a 10-year transition period, in large part because I talked with our friends in organized labor who had negotiated contracts and really kept their wages down to have increased health care benefits.

And I didn't want them to lose out in a process that would have only given them a four-year transition period, such as the other...

BLITZER: You want a 10-year transition period.

HARRIS: I want a transition.

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: But, at the end of 10 years, would -- Medicare for all, would there still be private health insurance for those who want it?

HARRIS: You got the second point, which is the biggest point of distinction.

I'm not getting rid of private coverage. I heard from too many people who say, Kamala, don't take away our choice.

So my plan gives people the choice of a private or a public plan under Medicare for all.

BLITZER: Where do you think her plan, Senator Warren's plan, falls short?

HARRIS: Well, I think that you should -- I -- let me -- I will speak for myself. I'm not going to be in the business of taking away choice from the American people.

The American people have said they want the choice between a private plan and a public plan. And I trust the American people to be able to make a decision that's in their best interest and the best interest of the health care of their family.

BLITZER: All right, her plan gets rid of private health insurance. Bernie Sanders ' plan gets rid of private health insurance.

But yours -- and I just want to be precise -- does not?

HARRIS: That is correct.

However, you should know that we're going to rein the insurance companies in. So, under my plan, there will be no more co-pays, there will be no more deductibles. And if the insurance companies play by our rules, then they play in our program.

BLITZER: It sounds like your plan is close to Pete Buttigieg's plan, because he says Medicare for all who want it, but if you don't want it, you still have private health insurance.

HARRIS: Well, no, because, first of all, there's not a lot of detail that's been offered in Pete's plan. So I don't really know how to compare the details.

But the difference, I think, is that we are talking about reining in the insurance companies, meaning they're not going to get to do business as usual. When you talk about Medicare for all who want it, one, that doesn't mean Medicare for everyone. My plan is Medicare for everyone, including the 30 million people in America today who are not covered.

And it means that the insurance companies are not going to be able to play as they have been playing, which is to put profit over public health.

BLITZER: Will middle-class taxes be raised under your plan?

HARRIS: No, they will not.

BLITZER: You sure?

HARRIS: I'm positive.

BLITZER: So where's the money going to come from?

HARRIS: We're going to -- one, it's going to be about increasing the taxes when we're talking about the top 1 percent. It's going to be about repealing Trump's tax bill that was a tax cut for the top 1 percent and the biggest corporations.

It's going to be about also taxing bonds and stock trades on Wall Street. And there will be an additional tax on employers, frankly, because now they are not going to have to pay the kind of money that they have been paying for employer-sponsored health care plans.

Another part about my plan, Wolf, that is very important, I am decoupling insurance from your employer. That's an old system, based on the days when people would graduate high school or college, they would go to work at the same place where they would retire.

[18:20:02]

That's no longer the case in America. People in America are being laid off in their 50s. People in America, if you talk to any 20-year- old, they will tell you working anywhere for two years is a very long time.

People are much more transitory in terms of their employment. I don't want that your health care and your coverage is a function of where you work or if you work. So I decouple insurance from the employer.

BLITZER: I want you to react to something that Congressman Jim Clyburn, the House majority whip, told our Dana Bash yesterday on "STATE OF THE UNION."

He said that for some older African-American voters, it is an issue that Mayor Pete Buttigieg is gay. What do you make of that?

HARRIS: I -- here's what I make of it.

Bias occurs in every community. But I have to tell you, to be very honest with you, that I think that we -- I'm never going to buy into that trope. And I think it's a trope that has evolved amongst some Democrats to suggest that African-Americans are homophobic or that there's transphobia in the black community as a community.

That's just nonsense. And I'm not saying that about Representative Clyburn, who I respect a lot. I'm talking about a trope that has developed amongst some.

And the reality is that, sadly and unfortunately, in all communities, bias occurs, and, in particular, homophobia and transphobia. I have spent my entire career fighting against it. So I know it is a fact.

But to label one community in particular as being burdened by this bias, as compared to others, is misinformed. It's misdirected. And it's just simply wrong.

BLITZER: Let me get your thoughts...

HARRIS: Not to mention the fact that, listen, there are -- when you talk about the African-American community, it is not a monolith.

BLITZER: Of course.

HARRIS: It includes gay, transgender, LGBTQ people within that community who are loved by their community, loved by their family.

BLITZER: Like every community.

HARRIS: Like every community.

BLITZER: Yes, absolutely.

Let's talk about some politics right now.

HARRIS: OK.

BLITZER: In recent days, we have learned you have cut your offices and staff in New Hampshire to focus almost exclusively on Iowa.

So, what message does that send?

HARRIS: I'm all in, in Iowa. I'm all in, in Iowa.

BLITZER: So, what does that mean? If you don't win in Iowa, it's over?

HARRIS: Well, I -- listen, I am very clear-eyed about what's going on right now, which is that Iowa is the first in the -- state.

And I intend to win this election. I intend to be the Democratic nominee. And in order to do that, I must do well, we must do well in Iowa.

So, I am all in. We have incredible resources that we have put on the ground. If you have the ability to watch -- and I encourage everyone to watch the Liberty and Justice Dinner over this weekend, and you will see that my team was robust, it was energized, it was a real presence at that dinner.

And it's a reflection of the resources that we're putting into that state about organizing people on the ground and harnessing the kind of energy and enthusiasm that we're seeing in Iowa.

BLITZER: It's February 3, less than three months now from the Iowa caucuses.

HARRIS: Yes.

BLITZER: When you say you must do well in Iowa, what does that mean?

HARRIS: It means we must do well.

BLITZER: Does that mean you must win, come in second, third? What does that mean?

HARRIS: I mean, I think we need to place. That's for sure, yes.

BLITZER: Well, first, second or third?

Because you saw this "New York Times"/Siena College poll right now, and still three months, almost three months ago, Warren at 22 percent, Sanders 19, Buttigieg 18, Biden 17. You're down. What, you're only at 3 percent.

HARRIS: Yes, but, Wolf, let's look at history. Let's look at history.

And you know that many of the Democratic nominees in the last many election cycles for president -- in fact, most -- were at the bottom of the polling process at this point in the election.

And I have heard stories -- and I'm sure John Kerry will correct it -- about how, at this point, I think, by December, he was mortgaging his house. I think he was number -- fifth in polling, went on to be the nominee.

BLITZER: Right.

HARRIS: You can look at where Barack Obama was. You can look at -- there are a number of examples that tell you that this process toward Iowa and the caucuses is really just beginning in earnest.

And, in fact, the J.J. -- formerly called J.J. -- now called the Liberty and Justice Dinner, which happened this past weekend, really is for -- many, I think, agree, the kickoff to the season.

So, stay tuned. BLITZER: I did some checking, because you have said this before. And you're right. Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, three months before Iowa, they were not at the top of the pack at that point.

HARRIS: No, that's right.

BLITZER: Others were at the top of the pack. But in those three months, they worked hard.

One thing...

HARRIS: In fact, history tells you that you're the nominee if you're not at the top of the pack.

(LAUGHTER)

BLITZER: Let's see if that happens.

You have qualified for the next -- November -- in a couple of weeks, the next November presidential debate.

HARRIS: And December.

BLITZER: And December as well.

HARRIS: Yes. That's right.

BLITZER: So, at least right now, as far as our recollection, our numbers are concerned, nine candidates have so far qualified for the Democratic debate in November and the Democrat -- and five, only five, in December.

HARRIS: Right. And we are one of the five.

BLITZER: So, will be watching you on the debate stage.

Senator, thanks so much for coming in.

HARRIS: Great to be with you, Wolf. Thank you. I appreciate it.

BLITZER: Good luck out there on the campaign trail.

[18:25:00]

HARRIS: Thank you.

BLITZER: The breaking news continues next, much more on the release of the impeachment testimony transcripts. Will they shift public opinion on the investigation into President Trump?

We will talk about that next with a key House Democrat from the impeachment inquiry, Congresswoman Madeleine Dean.

There, you see her.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [18:30:00]

BLITZER: We're back and we're tracking the breaking news right now from the first batch of testimony transcripts released today in the impeachment investigation.

Joining us now, Congresswoman Madeleine Dean, a Democrat, serves on the Judiciary Committee. Congresswoman, thanks so much for joining us.

So what stands out to you from these first transcripts that we're seeing from these closed-door depositions?

REP. MADELEINE DEAN (D-PA): Well, I've just begun to read some of the transcripts of the Ukraine ambassador and they're kind of -- they're chilling, actually. What we know is Ukraine is our ally. What we know is Ukraine is a democracy that has been under attack since 2014, violent attack by Russia. And we, the Congress, appropriate money to support our friends and our allies who are subject to attack.

But the president and his shadow foreign policy apparently led by Mr. Giuliani and others undermined our foreign policy, undermined our support for Ukraine and actually threatened our ambassador there. It's actually chilling to think that she got called saying she needed to take the next plane home. People were worried for her security. And the transcript of the call with the president to the other foreign leader saying she's going to go through some rough times, some tough times.

It is, as some of our chairmen have said, a contamination of foreign policy and very it's upsetting for our own national security, as well as the security of Europe and Ukraine.

BLITZER: In these hundreds of pages of transcripts released today, and more will be released tomorrow, Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, a career foreign service officer, a diplomat, 30-plus years in this State Department, she describes in great detail how she believes she was targeted by Rudy Giuliani, the president's personal lawyer, and his allies. How concerned are you by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's role in overseeing this?

DEAN: Well, if you read more into -- I guess it's Ambassador McKinley's testimony, he was very concerned about that and asked Secretary Pompeo to make sure he did straighten the record, correct the record for this career courageous diplomat who took on very difficult assignments only to have her name smeared in an absolutely absurd way by Giuliani and others.

No one believed the smear, by the way. Her reputation is intact. But it's troubling, Pompeo's silence. That's what seems troubling from what I read through these transcripts that were released today.

And notice how this dovetails sadly with what we red from Bill Taylor's testimony, the 15-page opening statement that he made just a short while ago.

BLITZER: The top diplomat in Ukraine.

DEAN: That's right. And he was the charge d'affaires and he was the one who said that he grew increasingly concerned over the shadow foreign policy that was being constructed by Rudy Giuliani and others right alongside our own foreign policy and to the undermining of Ukraine and to the undermining of global security.

Remember also what's going on here. The president very directly withheld aid to Ukraine, $391 million worth of aid, because he said you have to do us a favor though, you have to do me a favor though. He wanted the president of Ukraine to publicly come out and say that he was going to investigate what looked like some wrongdoing by the Bidens. It was an attempt to shake down this foreign leader in his first days in office, an attempt to use the president's office, our president's office for his own political gain instead for diplomacy and peace around the world.

BLITZER: Rudy Giuliani told our Dana Bash he does not have security clearances yet he was in charge of what's being described as this shadow policy. What does that say to you?

DEAN: Well, I cannot understand putting him in charge of that in any way. He is a personal attorney to the president. He has other clients and other business interests that could be in serious conflict, certainly would be in serious conflict with any kind of State Department work. It shows an irresponsible president, a president who doesn't have a grasp of diplomacy, who doesn't respect diplomacy.

These and career diplomats who have worked for presidents of both administrations over the course of 30 and 40 years are gravely concerned about the wrongdoing of this administration by way of its State Department and a shadow foreign policy.

BLITZER: There's a long list of witnesses who will not appear before the inquiry this week, including lawyers from the National Security Council, officials from the Office of Management and Budget.

[18:35:03]

Can the inquiry proceed and can you draft articles of impeachment without that kind of testimony?

DEAN: Well, you see, the inquiry is proceeding and very effectively, sadly. And we do know that most of these people who are talking to the Intelligence Committee behind closed doors are also willing to come in public.

Last week, we passed a resolution setting out the procedure as we moved forward into this next phase on a journey I really want to emphasize to my constituents and to other Americans, nobody came to Congress to -- nobody came to this 116th Congress hoping to impeach a president or having to consider articles of impeachment. But I will tell you, I'm a member of the Judiciary Committee and the Financial Services Committee and a member of this caucus, and no one is above the law. As I come home to my constituents, they tell me how troubled they are by the corruption and the wrongdoing of an administration that is out of control that is seeking personal political advantage, is seeking the help of a foreign country to interfere with our elections when we know that our past elections have been interfered with by Russia, China, and that we are under attack at all times. Imagine that our very own president is seeking a foreign interference with the upcoming elections for his own gain.

My constituents are very upset about this. They want us to be doing the work of Congress. They want the Senate to pick up some of the 300 bills that our House has passed that would help protect them, would help protect our planet. You saw just today what the president has decided to do. He began the unraveling of our part in the Paris Climate Accord. This is an administration that is recklessly irresponsible, whether it's about our planet or global security or the healthcare of its citizens.

BLITZER: All right. Congresswoman Madeleine Dean, thanks so much for joining us.

DEAN: Thank you very much, Wolf.

BLITZER: Just ahead, witnesses suggest Secretary of State Mike Pompeo turned a blind eye as Rudy Giuliani was pressuring about Ukraine and the U.S. ambassador. That is not what Pompeo has been saying.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:40:00]

BLITZER: We're following breaking news in the impeachment investigation after the release of testimony transcripts, key witnesses offering rather disturbing accounts of Rudy Giuliani's shadow diplomacy in Ukraine and how it undermined U.S. policy without any intervention by the State Department.

Let's bring in our correspondents and our analysts.

And, Gloria, Ambassador Yovanovitch, she faced a lot of pressure, tremendous pressure from Giuliani and his allies. Ambassador McKinley, a top adviser to Secretary of State Pompeo resigned over this. How important are these transcripts?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think they're very important, because the big picture that it shows us is a foreign policy that was effectively hijacked by Rudy Giuliani and the president of the United States that ran an alternate route to what people -- the professionals working in the State Department thought their policy was. And that's what's so troubling about this.

I mean, you have Ambassador McKinley quitting, going to the secretary of state three times and saying, can't you support this ambassador, receiving no response and saying eventually that he resigned because he was concerned about the engagement of our missions to procure negative information for domestic purposes. That's not what the State Department is supposed to do.

BLITZER: It's interesting, Laura, because Ambassador McKinley was testifying under oath, sworn testimony, before these committees saying he went to Secretary Pompeo three times and asked him to express his support for Ambassador Yovanovitch. But listen to what Pompeo told George Stephanopoulos on ABC only a couple of weeks ago.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MIKE POMPEO, SECRETARY OF STATE: I never heard him say a single thing about his concerns with respect to the decision that was made.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS HOST: So you were never asked

POMPEO: Not once, George, did Ambassador McKinley say something to me during that entire time period.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: So there's there's a clear discrepancy there.

LAURA COATES, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I mean, was it laryngitis? Do we actually not say anything? We weren't actually heard? Or have we seen this before with respect to the Ukrainian call, when we have one person saying something under oath and then have it contradicted later on. Remember, Pompeo is not where others have been. He's not testifying under oath. You're talking to George Stephanopoulos, which we all know you don't have to talk to the media, unfortunately.

There is discrepancy there. The question is why and if there truly is one. But we do know corroboration-wise, is that multiple people who heard this telephone call and heard about the conduct of what you're talking about, Gloria, have run it up the chain. Now, how far up the chain it went is the question. National Security Council lawyers were alerted more than once. More than one person has said that. So Pompeo, was he really not included in every conversation or is it convenient not to have had it come where the buck stops in his office.

BLITZER: You spent, Phil, your career in the Intelligence Community. We know that Rudy Giuliani is now being -- they're looking into him. Federal prosecutors are looking into what he did. We know he was engaged in the so-called shadow diplomacy without any security clearances. That's what he told our Dana Bash. What does that say to you?

PHILIP MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: I mean, there's a couple of things. There's a legal thing and there's a policy thing. Look, I think the Democrats have this wrong. This is not about shadow diplomacy. The president can do inappropriate things in diplomacy if he wants. This is about money.

So the questions are going to be, did Rudy Giuliani had interactions with the Ukrainians, for example, on getting money for campaign events, not did he go out to Ukraine and do things that the State Department doesn't like.

[18:45:05]

So, I think if I were Rudy Giuliani, I wouldn't care about the Democrats, I would care about the Feds and FBI looking at money.

On the security clearance, just one quick comment, Mr. Giuliani, I have a quick question. If you need to understand what Russia is doing because you are the point person on Ukraine and don't see any intercepted communications about the Russia military, you don't see any imagery that is satellite photography of what the Russians are doing, how the heck do you know what America understands about Russia?

I think the security clearance thing isn't a problem in terms of the president going forward. It's embarrassing. It's embarrassing.

BLITZER: It's extraordinary, too.

MUDD: Yes, it is.

BLITZER: Pretty significant.

You know, so how is the president, Kaitlan, responding to all of this?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, as you're seeing this information, this detailed testimony come out from the testimonies that were released today, the president was lashing out trying to distance himself from Marie Yovanovitch when he spoke to reporters just briefly before he went to Kentucky for that rally tonight. He said he didn't really know the ambassador, but he heard that the Ukrainian president didn't like her and that was essentially where he left it.

If you read the transcript that the White House released of that call, you actually see the president was the first one to bring up Marie Yovanovitch with the Ukrainian president. He said she was bad news and that the people she was associated with were bad news.

So, it doesn't fit the narratives that he didn't really know her because we know the president's allies, including his own son who were calling for her to be removed in that position, something she later said she felt threatened by the way the president spoke about her to the Ukrainian leader.

BORGER: Can you imagine, though, being the ambassador there and suddenly realizing the president of the United States is trashing you?

BLITZER: And she heard that for the first time from Ukrainian officials, not through regular diplomatic U.S. channels.

BORGER: Exactly, and she doesn't even know the president knows who she is, right? And he is trashing her. And then, she is getting trashed by Giuliani. She's getting trashed in certain media. And she -- no wonder she felt threatened or victimized here.

COLLINS: And what notable is she says that no one ever came to her to ask and tried to verify allegations that were made against her. She said she never heard until she was giving this testimony in front of lawmakers no one ever asked her if those alleged things about her were true.

COATES: Yes, she still told her successor, Bill Taylor, to do the work, because it was compulsory given the leverage the United States had over Ukraine. And he took this job, begrudgingly, his wife told him not to do it, begrudgingly said that he did it because out of honor and service for his country. He was the person, remember, who then turned to Ambassador Sondland and questioned what was happening the quid pro quo, all this unfolding of somebody who didn't even know she was being attacked.

BLITZER: What's at stake right now? Because this is a pretty dramatic moment. It looks like they're getting ready to wrap up the closed door depositions and go to public hearings?

MUDD: Well, I'll tell you, I mean, this is making me cringe. I've been there. 2002-2003, American people elect politicians they trust. The politicians said, don't trust the CIA, they're too conservative with links about Iraq and al Qaeda. And where did that end up?

I look at this and it's not just a question of what we look at in terms of Ukraine. It's a question of the American people elect a politician to be president. He's got to make fundamental decisions about how to confront a post-World War II adversary for decades, that is the Soviets and then Russians, and you have to sit back and say, I can't trust him, I just can't trust him.

The issues here are more profound about Ukraine. It's about the trust of the American people and Oval Office. I can't trust them.

BLITZER: Because so many of these officials who've been subpoenaed now are unwilling, Gloria, to testify. We put a graphic up on the screen to show our viewers. It looks like if there's going to be legal battles, Adam Schiff, the chairman of the Intelligence Committee, he wants to move on and get into the public session.

BORGER: Well, he does. And he says, look, it's just going to be another point of obstruction here, and we're going to use that in the impeachment. And these are just people trying to obstruct our investigation. But consider the people who have testified, Wolf, these are people, some of whom are still work. I mean, Vindman, as you reported, Kaitlan, is at work in the White House right now.

COLLINS: Has been every days since --

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: Lieutenant Colonel Alex Vindman.

BORGER: Lieutenant Colonel Vindman, and he has been trashed also by a lot of people.

COLLINS: The president.

BORGER: And the president saying, well, where do his loyalties lie, et cetera, et cetera. Imagine that. So, the people who don't want to testify, right, they're going to have

their legal battles. They're going to fight with Congress, whatever. But these people are the people who may be suffering the most because their names are known.

BLITZER: All right. Everybody, stick around.

There's more news we're following, including more breaking news. The feds say they thwarted a synagogue bomb plot by an alleged white supremacist.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:54:46]

BLITZER: Breaking news in Colorado where a 27-year-old suspect was in court this afternoon on charges he plotted to bomb an historic synagogue in Pueblo. Court papers say he posted comments online about wanting to kill Jews and paid a so-called witch doctor $70 to poison the synagogue's water supply with arsenic.

[18:55:05]

He was arrested while examining inert pipe bombs prepared by undercover agents and faces a maximum of 20 years in prison if convicted of a hate crime.

Other news we're following -- a long-time Trump ally Roger Stone was in court today just hours before his criminal trial begins tomorrow. Stone is charged with lying to Congress and attempted obstruction in one of the last cases stemming from Robert Mueller's investigation. Tonight, CNN has obtained new information from the special counsel's probe.

Our justice correspondent Jessica Schneider is here in THE SITUATION ROOM with details.

So, what are we learning, Jessica, from these documents?

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, we're seeing in part just how far back Paul Manafort, the campaign manager pushed this unsubstantiated theory that Ukraine and not Russia was responsible for hacking the DNC computers. It was the height of the 2016 election where Manafort blamed the Ukrainians and possibly even pushed this theory to the president who has now talked about the debunked theory numerous times in public.

All these revelations are gleaned from the interview notes with Rick Gates, who's the deputy campaign chair who cooperated with Mueller's team. The interview notes saying this: Gates recalled Manafort saying the hack was likely carried out by the Ukrainians, not the Russians. Gates also noted this theory was supported by Konstantin Kilimnik. He was a long-time associate of Paul Manafort's, also a key character in Mueller's report, and was indicted for allegedly trying to tamper with potential witnesses against Paul Manafort. Now, prosecutors have also said Kilimnik has ties to Russian

intelligence, though Kilimnik has denied this and then once Paul Manafort was ousted from the campaign, we saw in these documents that Steve Bannon tried to make it clear that there should be a separation, including in this e-mail to Jared Kushner when he said: We need to avoid this guy like the plague. They are going to try and say the Russians worked with WikiLeaks to give this victory to us. Paul is a nice guy but can't let word get out he is advising us.

We've also learned from these newly released documents that Trump campaign officials, Trump himself, and his family members repeatedly discussed how they could get access to the stolen Democratic e-mails that WikiLeaks had. Gates even telling Mueller's investigators how Trump said, quote, get the e-mails when they were onboard his campaign plane. And that Michael Flynn, the short-lived national security adviser could also use his intelligence sources and ties to Russia to get those e-mails.

And, Wolf, a lot coming out in these nearly 300 pages. A lot of it was redacted but we expect to see a lot more of these pages. We're expecting to get documents monthly for some time to come.

BLITZER: All right. We'll read them together with you. Thanks so much for that report, Jessica.

Also, tonight, President Trump is at war with California's Democratic governor trying to blame him for the wildfires that have ravaged the state.

CNN's Stephanie Elam reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You got fires eating away at California every year because management is so bad.

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Trump again taking aim at California and its Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom, tweeting that the governor has done a terrible job of forest management and that he told Newsom he must clean his forest floors.

In another tweet, Trump writes: Every year, as the fires rage and California burns, it is the same thing and then he comes to the federal government for money help. No more. Get your act together, Governor.

Newsom shot back at the president you don't believe in climate change. You are excused from this conversation. Trump's tweets are drawing criticism from scientists who point out the federal government actually controls the majority of California's forests.

Newsom shot back at the president: You don't believe in climate change. You are excuse from this conversation.

Trump's tweets re drawing criticism from scientists who point out the federal government actually controls the majority of California's forest.

GLEN MACDONALD, UCLA PROFESSOR AND CLIMATE CHANGE EXPERT: Take a look at how much forest floor you would be cleaning up. It doesn't even make any sense. The other thing is a lot of our fires aren't burning in forests. They're burning in grass land and in shrub land.

ELAM: Yet Newsom acknowledging California's need to step up its prevention efforts has bolstered found clear off potential wild fire fuel like dead wood and scrub brush.

NEWSOM: We are better than this. We're more capable than this, not only in our vegetation management and forest management, but our utilities must be made more capable to deal with these conditions.

ELAM: Wildfires are only the tip of the Twitter tug of war. The political opponents have also squared off over the environment, immigration, and homelessness.

TRUMP: The governor doesn't know, he's like a child. He doesn't know what he's doing.

ELAM: But there is some evidence the two leaders can be more civil than it seems Newsom recently telling CNN --

NEWSOM: Interestingly, we communicate. Not in public -- on the phone, in person. He is very gracious in those calls. And I hope in turn I am as well.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ELAM: And wildfires, Wolf, are a part of life in California. They have been for thousands of years. But what people here are hoping is that politics are put aside to help figure out how to quell these fires as these summers are getting longer and drier and the winters are getting shorter here -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Good point. Stephanie Elam, thanks very much.

And to our viewers, thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.