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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER
Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) Wants Whistleblower Outed; Roger Stone Trial Begins In Shadow of Impeachment Inquiry; Key Election Day Races In KY, MS, VA; Nine Women And Children Shot, Burned Alive In Ambush Possibly Mistaken For Rival Drug Cartel. Aired 4:30-5p ET
Aired November 5, 2019 - 16:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: They go on to describe his briefing at the White House last month as a -- quote -- "televised confession."
But most White House officials have been refusing to go to these depositions, even if subpoenaed. And this isn't a subpoena.
SEUNG MIN KIM, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Exactly.
And it goes to -- it's yet to be seen whether they take that additional step to try to compel him to testify. But even if he does, you can turn this to the courts, which is what's going on with some current subpoenas right now.
And as we have seen with the courts, sometimes, Democrats do win these legal battles at the end of the day, but -- end of the day, but what's working against them is time.
And I think considering the various West Wing advisers who have -- or administration officials who have declined to appear before Congress so far, I would not -- I would be extremely surprised if Mick Mulvaney came along.
TAPPER: And, David, let me ask you.
Just this week, four White House officials refused to show up after being subpoenaed to testify on Capitol Hill, two National Security Council lawyers, a senior budget official, and the top aide to Mick Mulvaney.
Two aides who were requested, not subpoenaed, requested to testify today didn't show up, an energy adviser and a budget aide.
At a certain point, do you worry that this makes the White House look like they have something to hide?
DAVID URBAN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: No, I just think that it just exemplifies the fishing expedition, right?
The folks that are listed on there are people who have absolutely zero to do. Wells Griffith. Some of these folks are fairly far removed from any of this.
TAPPER: One of them put the rough transcript into the secret compartment.
URBAN: Correct. But I'm saying the laundry list of people.
And it appears that -- I don't believe there's any political blowback from them not appearing.
TAPPER: What do you think?
MEHDI HASAN, SENIOR CONTRIBUTOR, THE INTERCEPT: I mean, Mulvaney, obviously, is not a fishing trip. He's the chief of staff.
URBAN: Oh, no.
HASAN: But you start with Mulvaney, and if he doesn't turn up.
I mean, I think the Democrats description of televised confession is a good one. It's one that they should stick to in terms of their own messaging.
I mean, just to remind that this is what he said, he said at the time: "Absolutely no question about that. The president mentioned corruption and the DNC servers, and that's why we held up the money. That's why we held up the money."
That's up there with, "Do me a favor, though."
I mean, these are -- this is why, to go back to our earlier discussion, you can't really defend on substance. You have to say it's either not impeachable, or you have to drone on about secret hearings and Soviet-style behind -- that's all the Republicans have, because again and again -- and Don Jr. was on TV this morning saying, everyone should go and read the transcript -- which I find hilarious, because reading the transcript is what's got his father in trouble.
TAPPER: It is true that the president keeps saying read the transcript.
And the transcript so far is rather damning, because he brings up the -- he brings up the Bidens.
NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: Yes, he brings up the Bidens. He brings up Burisma. He brings up the DNC server from 2016.
Somehow, he thinks he's going to brand the transcript and brand this call as perfectly reasonable. He's got these T-shirts. He was I think in Mississippi or Kentucky recently, where people behind him had the T-shirt on that said, read the transcript, not as catchy as make America great again, but do what you got to do.
So, yes, I mean, I don't think Republicans are necessarily going to get on board with this idea that this was perfect. I think the question is, even if they say this was terrible, not impeachable, then sort of what is the punishment for a president who does this?
How do you prevent him from doing this again?
TAPPER: Yes, which is ultimately where I think a lot of people think it's going to end up. He shouldn't have done it, but it's not impeachable, although we're not there yet clearly.
Everyone, stick around.
Senator Rand Paul now repeating the president in attacking the whistle-blower. Boy, what a difference a few years make. We will show you.
Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. RAND PAUL (R-KY): The whistle-blower needs to come before Congress as a material witness. I say tonight to the media, do your job and print his name!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: That was Kentucky Senator Rand Paul at a rally with President Trump last night taking a page from Trump's playbook, attacking the credibility and integrity of the whistle-blower who sounded the alarm, and trying to get the media to reveal the whistle-blower's identity.
Phil, as a former FBI and CIA analyst, what do you think when you hear Rand Paul saying we should be revealing the whistle-blower's identity, even though his lawyer or her lawyer has done everything they can to say we don't want this out there?
PHILIP MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: Boy, at a personal level, I hope I don't meet Rand Paul anytime soon.
I mean, that's appalling. You -- forget about the legalities of this. And I would bet -- I haven't talked to a lot of my friends back in the business, but I would bet they share this view. You worry about personal security.
First of all, what's the significance of the investigation? We know what happened already. We saw some of it break out today, when Sondland said, yes, yes, we did this.
So we know what happened already. You don't need a whistle-blower for substance. But you release the name, you got to deal with stuff like personal security. I'd want somebody, if I were him or her, checking my mail, looking for stuff like anthrax. So, the government's checking my mail. I want 24/7 around the house.
And then if I have a family, I want to be relocated.
TAPPER: And so, Laura, you're a former federal prosecutor.
I want you to take a listen to Senator Paul today talking to Suzanne Malveaux on Capitol Hill about what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. RAND PAUL (R-KY): The whistle-blower statute protects the whistle-blower from having his name revealed by the inspector general.
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You don't think this is dangerous to actually out the whistle-blower? I mean, the president has said that he's treasonous and a traitor.
PAUL: I think that the Sixth Amendment of the Constitution is very clear. And I think that what we should have is that you should have the right to confront your accuser.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: What do you think about that argument?
LAURA COATES, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: So it's OK to break the law via proxy, according to a senator.
TAPPER: Is it against the law to reveal the whistle-blower's name?
COATES: The notion that, well, the spirit of the law says that you're not supposed to retaliate against the whistle-blower, and that would -- in terms of employment practices and the like.
Not allowed to -- the spirit of it, it says, the reason you want to protect it is because you want to encourage people to come forward with any grievances and any information about abuses of power and the like.
And so technically revealing the name and leaking it would -- I don't think it would be technically illegal, but it violates the spirit of the law that a senator, who's part of the legislative branch of government, has written, to say, here's the law as it stands.
And remember it the intelligence community already has exemptions in place, unlike what happens with other civilian employees. Civilian employees who are not an intelligence community, they can go to court and get legal recourse if they are fired or retaliated against.
Those in the intelligence community don't have that same avenue. And so the senator essentially is undermining his own legislation. He didn't write it, but his own branch of government.
TAPPER: I saw a lot of libertarians on social media today expressing dismay at what Rand Paul said.
And for the record, in the past, he was very strong when it came to expanding whistle-blower protections.
Here's Senator Paul back in 2015, in the wake of the Edward Snowden revelations.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL: I would extend the whistle-blower statute for people who want to come in and want to tell an authority, an investigator general or somebody, if they want to reveal that they think something is being done illegal.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: So what happened, that just a Republican got elected president?
MUDD: I guess so.
I mean, I just don't understand this at a general level. Let's say -- take it out of the political realm. You see financial fraud in the CIA, which is where I work, and it's substantial financial fraud going on, hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars.
You want to maintain your career. Wouldn't you want to say, hey, my supervisors, who have control over my career, are doing something wrong? I think I have the right to anonymity to go forward and say, you need to investigate John and Jane Doe, without being outed.
I don't understand why this is a big deal, because, otherwise, you're going to discourage people from saying when they see fraud in government. You want that to happen. I don't think so.
TAPPER: And then, of course, there are two Republican senators who disagreed with Rand Paul earlier today. Let's play that sound.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MITT ROMNEY (R-UT): Whistle-blowers, particularly those that are blowing whistles on action within the government, should be allowed to remain confidential. So going after the whistle-blower, I think it's misdirected.
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): We need to know who this person, because without the complaint, there would be no impeachment inquiry.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: OK, so two very different takes.
Mitt Romney saying, protect the whistle-blower's identity, and Lindsey Graham saying, out the whistle-blower.
COATES: And neither of them are actually addressing the particular facts in this case.
Remember, here's the issue. This is like shooting the messenger. For what reason? This is like saying here we have a package full of mail. We have the mail bomber. We have corroborating testimony from everybody. And then guess what?
I'd like to know the person who actually delivered the mail to the person unrelated. This is shooting the messenger. The whole key here is, you have corroboration, you have testimony. That's what we need to hear.
That's what started the impeachment inquiry and the conduct of the president himself.
TAPPER: All right, thanks so much, Phil Mudd and Laura Coates.
Drama in court today for longtime Trump friend and confidant Roger Stone -- the odd request that abruptly stopped the first day of his criminal trial.
Stay with us.
TAPPER: In our "NATIONAL LEAD" today, day one today for the criminal trial of longtime Trump crony Roger Stone. It all started, of course, with that early morning raid in South Florida when authorities came to his home. And then, of course, there were those news conferences were Stone mimicked his idol Richard Nixon, but the charges are of course no joke.
Stone is on trial for obstruction of justice and other crimes, accused of misleading Congress during its investigation of Russian election interference, lying about his efforts to get information from WikiLeaks, and witness tampering among other charges.
CNN Shimon Prokupecz joins me now. And Shimon, day one and there has already been drama. Roger Stone had to leave court.
SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: Yes, he wasn't feeling well. It all started this morning around 10:15. He went to the bathroom. His wife followed him. She said he wasn't feeling well. He was in there for quite some time. He came out. And then later in the afternoon, he asked the judge if he could be excused for the rest of the day.
He wasn't feeling well. The judge let him go. The judge even offered him some Imodium to try and see to get him to stay in court. That didn't happen. He left. But there was even more drama. We had a witness, a juror seated in the audience who collapsed. An ambulance had to come and remove them. And then there was an argument of some kind in the hallway between two
Roger Stone associates. So that sort of turned to a thing. And you know, when you think about it, this is just the beginning. This is just jury selection. We're supposed to start opening statements tomorrow and then we should start seeing some of the more interesting witnesses, associates of Rogers Stone come in and testify.
TAPPER: What a surprise that a Stone trial would start off as a circus. This trial is happening, of course, as the impeachment inquiry is going on. Are there any larger implications of Stone being tried for lying to Congress about the Russia investigation which actually has quite a bit to do with the Ukrainian scandal?
PROKUPECZ: In the end, yes. It does have a lot to do with the Ukraine scandal. If we're just going to revisit a lot of everything that went on during the Mueller investigation, there is a chance that we're going to learn some new things that are redacted in the Mueller report that could come out, and obviously what did Trump know, how much did he know, how much was Roger Stone sharing with people close to him. A lot of that is going to get revisited at this trial. So that's where we could start seeing some of the drama and some of the implications for the president.
TAPPER: All right, day one. We'll be seeing a lot of you, Shimon. I appreciate it. Also in our "NATIONAL LEAD," it's election day today. President Trump is not on the ballot today, but today marks a big test in how his brand, not to mention impeachment is or is not resonating with voters with President Trump pushing hard for Republican victories in Mississippi, and Virginia, and Kentucky as CNN's Dianne Gallagher reports.
DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's Election Day. Three states with major contests which could be seen as a test of the impact of impeachment and Donald Trump's political power.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If you lose, it sends a really bad message. You can't let that happen to me.
GALLAGHER: An election-eve push from the President in Kentucky, a state he won by nearly 30 points in 2016 for unpopular Republican governor Matt Bevin who is locked in a bitter race with the Democratic Attorney General Andy Beshear. Now, Bevin has run a campaign with a national focus heavily featuring his support for the President.
GOV. MATT BEVIN (R-KY): Kentucky is leading the way and that we support the President of the United States Donald J. Trump.
GALLAGHER: But Beshear, the son of a former Democratic governor believes the key to winning what has become the deep-red Bluegrass State is a focus on local issues.
ANDY BESHEAR, ATTORNEY GENERAL, KENTUCKY: This race isn't about who's in the White House. It's about what's going on in the houses all across Kentucky.
GALLAGHER: A similar situation in the ruby-red state of Mississippi with the gubernatorial race between Democrat Jim Hood as state's attorney general and the Republican lieutenant governor Tate Reeves whose campaign has also embraced the president.
TATE REEVES (R), LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR, MISSISSIPPI: I'm standing with President Donald Trump and Jim Hood is standing with the Liberals.
JIM HOOD, ATTORNEY GENERAL, MISSISSIPPI: You all know me. I worked for you for years. I do my job and I'm straight shooter.
GALLAGHER: Hood, Mississippi's only statewide elected Democrat has run a moderate campaign with intense focus on Medicaid expansion. And in Virginia a different story. Several tweets but no visits from the president, instead it's 2020 Democrats showing support for candidates.
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Let's elect these guys and everybody else who's running as a Democrat.
GALLAGHER: Fighting to flip control of both general assembly chambers which are narrowly controlled by Republicans.
GALLAGHER: And here in Mississippi, there's an additional hurdle for the candidates for governor. It's not enough to simply win the popular vote, the candidate also has to win the majority of State House districts. And Jake, to complicate it even further, if there's a split tonight, well the Republican-controlled legislature will decide who gets to be the governor.
TAPPER: All right, Dianne Gallagher in Jackson, Mississippi, thanks so much. Coming up next, a really rough story. The American family ambushed in Mexico, some members even burned alive, how relatives realize that their loved ones were the victims. Stay with us.
TAPPER: A horrific tragedy to tell you in the "WORLD LEAD." The slaughter of Americans near the U.S. border in Mexico. Those murdered include three women and six small children. The gunmen apparently shot up their caravan of SUVs and set them on fire.
Family members say one of the children who survived walked 14 miles to get help. And CNN's Matt Rivers reports.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think a lot of us are just speechless. It's horrific.
MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Family members in shock after a horrendous attack by suspected criminal groups and left nine people dead including three women and four small children and two babies. It happened Monday while they were traveling in a caravan through northern Mexico just south of the border, headed to pick up family for an upcoming wedding.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I just can't believe that this actually happened to our family. It just seems like a bad dream.
RIVERS: Family members tell CNN, the group was driving between the Mexican states of Sonora and Chihuahua in a caravan for safety reasons, when they were attacked by an armed group which sprayed the car with bullets and set at least one on fire.
Mexican government officials say it's unclear whether the attack was targeted, or a case of mistaken identity with the shooters mistaking the families as rival groups. Kendra Lee Miller is the bride at that upcoming wedding. She tells CNN her sister-in-law, Rhonita Miller, is among the victims.
KENDRA LEE MILLER, FAMILY OF THE VICTIMS: Rhonita was one of the most vibrant happy souls that I've ever met. She was just have so much spark and life in her.
RIVERS: Kendra says Rhonita was driving one of the vehicles with four of her seven children to Tucson, Arizona to go shopping for the wedding. 43-year-old Dawna Langford and her two children were in another vehicle, and 29-year-old Christina Johnson and her seven- month-old son were in a third vehicle. Seven children overall were injured in the attack, and are now hospitalized.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: None of my grandchildren made it out. They're burnt to a crisp. And my daughter-in-law, in her about as innocent as they come, and I'm not saying it because she's gone, but she was a good mother to those children. They're innocent as the day as long.
RIVERS: The victims are all members of a Mormon community in northern Mexico, not affiliated with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
RIVERS: And Jake, that boy you mentioned off the top who walked all that way, before he walked those 14 miles he hid his six siblings, likely saving their lives in the process.
TAPPER: All right, Matthew Rivers in Mexico City, thank you for that horrible story. I appreciate it. You can follow me on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter @JAKETAPPER. You can tweet the show @THELEADCNN. Our coverage on CNN continues right now. Thank you so much for watching.