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Key Witness Transcripts in Impeachment Inquiry to Be Released; Nine American Family Members Killed in Mexico; Today's Elections Could Indicate Voter Trends Ahead of 2020; Trump to Ask Supreme Court to Rule on Tax Returns Case. Aired 7-7:30a ET
Aired November 5, 2019 - 07:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: -- Republicans, they demanded transparency in the impeachment inquiry, and that's exactly what they are getting. Democrats about to release new transcripts of testimony from two key witnesses in the impeachment inquiry: former special envoy to Ukraine, Kurt Volker, and U.S. Ambassador to the E.U., Gordon Sondland. We could see these transcripts at any minute.
Text messages place both men, along with Rudy Giuliani, at the center of the Trump administration's efforts to get Ukraine to publicly announce an investigation into the Bidens.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: On Monday, investigators released the transcript of testimony from former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, and Michael McKinley. He was that former top aide to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
Yovanovitch told investigators she was the target of a shadow campaign by Rudy Giuliani to get her fired, because she was standing in the way of the president's plan to get dirt on the Bidens.
She also testified she was warned to, quote, "watch her back" and that she remains worried about being the target of President Trump's retaliation.
McKinley told lawmakers he resigned in protest over how Yovanovitch was treated. He also testified that he raised concerns about her removal with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on three separate occasions, but Pompeo did not respond. Well, that contradicts what Pompeo has said in public.
Meanwhile, President Trump wants to reveal the identity of the whistle-blower.
BERMAN: We also have breaking news this morning out of Mexico, where nine American family members from the Mormon community have been killed. We have a live report from Mexico City in just minutes. We will get to that in a second.
First, though, the impeachment inquiry. Joining us to discuss, CNN political analyst John Avlon, CNN senior global affairs analyst Bianna Golodryga, and CNN chief legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin, who's always happy that his title outranks.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: Thank you. It is. I'm tough but fair.
BERMAN: Listen, I want to play something that Rand Paul said overnight about the impeachment inquiry. The president was in Kentucky last night campaigning. Senator Rand Paul, who knows the law and knows the impact of his words, went up on the stage and asks the world to out the identity of the whistle-blower.
Now, the statement from the whistle-blower at this point may or may not be relevant to the impeachment inquiry. There are plenty of people who suggest it isn't. But by outing the identity, you could put this person's safety in question, and you also question the sanctity of whistle-blower laws in general. And Rand Paul knows this as he says what you're going to hear him say right now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. RAND PAUL (R-KY): The whistle-blower needs to come before Congress as a material witness, because he worked for Joe Biden at the same time Hunter Biden was getting money from corrupt oligarchs. I say tonight to the media, do your job and print his name.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: There's something deeply deceptive and underhanded about what he's doing there, Jeffrey, because he's saying someone else should do this, because he knows that if he said it out loud, that'd be breaking the law.
TOOBIN: Well, but that's breaking the law, too. I mean, let's, you know, not slice the bologna too thin. I mean, the whole idea of whistle-blower protection laws is so they don't have to endure that kind of behavior, much less on national television.
CAMEROTA: It's like bullying.
TOOBIN: It's bullying. It's dangerous. It's -- it's designed to discourage whistle-blowers from coming forward, while whistle-blower laws are supposed to do the opposite. But, you know, they are playing by their own rules, and they're not paying a consequence for it.
JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: And not just that, right? I mean, being a libertarian means that you allegedly like small government. You want to maximize individual freedom. You want to maximize accountability. That would include, presumably, whistle- blower laws that keep the safety and privacy of a person telling the truth against intimidation.
But, you know, we call Donald Trump a divider, not a uniter all the time. One thing he's been able to do is bring together Lindsey Graham and Rand Paul. Don't agree on much, but they've both sacrificed their political souls out of fealty to this cat. BIANNA GOLODRYGA, CNN SENIOR GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: And you're absolutely right. He knew exactly what he was doing. Sean Hannity knew what he was doing last night when he was threatening to release the name, as well.
And there's no reason to hear from the whistle-blower at this point, because everything that he's been saying, everything that he had said, has been validated by all of the other witnesses.
So the only reason they would want to out his name is to attack him, to publicly attack him, to retaliate against him for what he's done and for coming forward, which was a very brave thing to do, because look at what's happened subsequently.
GOLODRYGA: So many other people have come forward expressing their alarm, too.
CAMEROTA: I'm glad you brought up Sean Hannity. Because there was something really interesting in the released transcripts of Marie Yovanovitch's interview.
I don't know if we have it. I don't have it in front of me, but the gist of it was that she was told that someone high up in the State Department -- she assumed it was Pompeo -- was going to call Sean Hannity and say, Do you have evidence of what you're saying about the Bidens? Because if you do, please share it with us, and if you don't, stop.
So in other words, at the State Department, they know that this is not true. They have no evidence of what they're saying about the Bidens. But then Sean Hannity -- I mean, somehow that message was never communicated or never paid attention to.
GOLODRYGA: Yes. Welcome to the banana republic of the United States right now. I mean, when we read that his name had been mentioned in the testimony repeatedly, the first question that came to my mind is why were Republicans not alarmed by that?
CAMEROTA: They get their talking points from him.
GOLODRYGA: They kept focusing on the fact that there was no quid pro quo. They were focused on the phone call. Every single thing that came out of this transcript that we did not know before was alarming and disturbing and not normal.
And it goes beyond, well beyond just that July 25 phone call. This shadow government, this shadow foreign policy between Rudy Giuliani and what Sean Hannity knew and what Mike Pompeo knew and maybe looked the other way and did not acknowledge, is something that does not happen in the United States. And you've had countless number of diplomats who have served for decades say that this is not normal. AVLON: And that's -- this is not normal is the thing. We heard from
McKinley. He resigned, because he saw the State Department being misused as part of a political mission to benefit the president.
We saw Sean Hannity, you know, a FOX News opinion host, being effectively treated as White House communication director, giving talking points to the administration and also somebody who principals would call to find out what was really going on behind the scenes. That's a sign of bizarro world, folks. That's the tail wagging the dog.
BERMAN: Yes. This is P-115. McKinley, we did see the transcript of his testimony yesterday, was asked, "... what was happening was efforts to use the State Department to dig up dirt on a political opponent. Is that fair"" he was asked.
And McKinley says, "That's fair. And if I can underscore, in 37 years in the foreign service in different parts of the globe and working on many controversial issues, working ten years back in Washington, I'd never seen that."
And this is a guy who worked closely with Pompeo. And by the way, whither Mike Pompeo, I ask Jeffrey Toobin. Because -- because --
TOOBIN: I like to say "whither."
BERMAN: Because McKinley also testified that he had three conversations with Mike Pompeo about trying to get some kind of statement of support for Ambassador Yovanovitch. Pompeo didn't respond at all to that, but he did tell George Stephanopoulos that he never had any conversations. So listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE POMPEO, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: From the time that Ambassador Yovanovitch departed Ukraine until the time that he came to tell me that he was departing, 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 --
POMPEO: Not once. Not once, George, did Ambassador McKinley say something to me during that entire time period.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You were never asked to put out a statement in support of Ambassador Yovanovitch?
POMPEO: George, again, I'm not going to talk about private conversations that I had with my most trusted advisers.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: Even though he just did. TOOBIN: Yes, I was going to say, that was an interesting shift in one
But look, I mean, the remarkable thing about this story, with the exception of Ambassador Sondland, whose testimony may come out today, every single story that has come out, every piece of testimony, every opening statement, every account of the private depositions so far has been consistent.
There has been this -- there was this private effort to undermine the State Department officials and operate United States foreign policy for the sole benefit of Donald Trump getting reelected. That was the only agenda that these people had.
And you know, they all -- they're all consistent. And Ambassador Yovanovitch's testimony was so vivid it was like the movie "Gaslight," you know, where it's like all this stuff was happening outside her view, and everybody's telling her things that -- like you're in trouble, but she can't see it. It was just chilling.
AVLON: And when she asks for advice from Ambassador Sondland, she's told that he said tweet positive things about the president.
CAMEROTA: It's that simple, by the way.
CAMEROTA: It's that simple.
BERMAN: Good advice from Sondland.
CAMEROTA: It's that simple.
BERMAN: It's deeply troubling.
AVLON: Yes. If that's -- that is how our government seems to be working behind the scenes. If you want to protect your job, say nice things about the president on social media.
GOLODRYGA: He said --
AVLON: That's a sign of societal sickness.
GOLODRYGA: He said, "Go big or go home," right?
GOLODRYGA: And tweet your support of the president.
But also, what a disgrace to feel threatened. You're a diplomat serving your country, and to get a phone call at 1 in the morning, saying you have to get on a plane ASAP for your own security. This is something out of a movie, like a bad movie. It doesn't happen here.
So to hear her testimony, someone who is ill-prepared for this type of scenario has been serving her country, has been promoting western values in Ukraine, to be basically sitting as a lame duck in Ukraine, because even the Ukrainian officials don't know whether she has any relevance at that point. You know, Mike Pompeo has a lot to answer for at this point.
And it raises the question, does this go beyond just Ukraine? We know Rudy Giuliani was spending time in Romania. He was spending time in other countries, as well, Turkey perhaps. So what role has U.S. foreign policy played in helping him pursue --
GOLODRYGA: -- whatever he's been trying to investigate for the president?
CAMEROTA: He was also making hundreds of thousands of dollars from a company called Fraud Guarantee.
CAMEROTA: Rudy Giuliani made 500 -- the reporting is he made $500,000. How mad is Hunter Biden he was only getting tens of thousands of dollars from Ukraine? I mean --
AVLON: When a company's called Fraud Guarantee, I think it's an indication of the deck we're playing with. But --
TOOBIN: What do you think the second-choice name was for that company?
AVLON: Yes, you know, Suckers Invest Here.
Look, you know, but the important point about Pompeo, I mean, look, we know other countries' interests. One of the interests that seems to be pursued is Kremlin-backed Ukrainian oligarchs. I mean, there's a Russian angle to this story that seems to be close to the heart of it.
But when Pompeo goes out and he lies as sort of effortlessly and patiently as he did in that interview, apparently, it's a reminder that, to carry water for this president, to be a loyal soldier, means you need to be willing to lie all the time.
BERMAN: I want to ask about Lev Parnas if I can. Because we're going down that Giuliani road.
CAMEROTA: Fraud Guarantee.
BERMAN: Fraud Guarantee.
GOLODRYGA: Can we just -- can I just tell you the reason behind the name? Because he had been investigated before and, I believe, based on criminal charges or investigations. So because he didn't want his name to be tarnished in a Google search, he named the company Fraud Guarantee, for fraud to be connected to his name through a company, not because of anything that he'd done in the past. BERMAN: Yes. Those Google things did--
AVLON: A little SEO -- a little SEO manipulation.
GOLODRYGA: A little digging there.
BERMAN: So Mr. Parnas of Fraud Guarantee and Google fame, his lawyer is now apparently saying, You know what? Maybe he will be willing to cooperate with impeachment investigators.
So that's a loaded offer in many different ways, Jeffrey, and you are uniquely qualified, with your vast legal experience working in Iran- Contra, among other things, to explain what the significance of this is.
TOOBIN: Well, the significance is he's getting ready to talk, and what any good lawyer would be doing is talking to both the Southern District and the congressional investigators, because you don't want to -- you don't want to piss one off. You certainly want -- you want to coordinate with both.
But if he's looking to cut a deal with the Southern District, that would be a way of cooperating with the congressional committees, as well.
You don't want to cooperate with the congressional committees and -- and leave yourself hanging. I mean, this guy is under indictment in the Southern District. That's got to be his priority. But you can deal with both of them at once.
CAMEROTA: Things are getting interesting.
TOOBIN: Very interesting.
CAMEROTA: Thank you very much.
BERMAN: I sense trouble at Fraud Guarantee. That's all I can say.
CAMEROTA: I do, too. With a capital "T."
OK. Now we want to get to our breaking news that we told you about. Nine American family members of the Mormon community, including six children, have been killed in northern Mexico in an apparent ambush attack.
CNN's Matt Rivers is live in Mexico City with the breaking details. What do we know about this, Matt?
MATT RIVERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Alisyn, still very much a developing situation. The details that we're getting are actually coming from a family member based here in Mexico.
These people, who were part of this convoy, they were traveling in a state of Mexico called Sonora, which is where this Mormon community has lived -- the family has lived there -- for decades, with hundreds of members in this community. And apparently, what happened is there were three women and a number
of children in several different cars, moving from one part of Sonora to another. It was during that ride at some point that this convoy of cars, a couple of cars holding these women and children, were attacked. We don't know by whom, but the results were absolutely horrendous.
We have some video of one of the cars, given to us by a family member, which shows the car completely burnt. And in total, three women and six children, according to this family member, were killed.
In terms of the motive here, we're not sure. What the family is speculating about right now is they believe this could be a case of mistaken identity. Sonora is a part of Northwestern Mexico that has seen horrific amounts of cartel-, drug-related violence. And what the family thinks might have happened is this was one cartel looking to attack another and mistaking this convoy for being a rival cartel; and the violence erupted thereafter.
No matter what the motive is, though, this family has lost at least nine people so far, and this is just the latest in a string of violent attacks here in Mexico. This year alone, Alisyn, we have seen almost 100 people per day murdered in the country of Mexico as a result of drug-related violence.
And yet this attack stands out, because there are nine Americans, at least right now, who are killed. This is going to have reverberations in Washington and, frankly, across the rest of the United States as we wake up here in Mexico.
CAMEROTA: Those numbers are staggering, Matt, as are the descriptions of what happened. These -- some of these were babies; these are toddlers. These are not --
CAMEROTA: These are babies who were killed.
BERMAN: Three mothers, six children. We're waiting for a statement from the State Department on all of this. Matt, please keep us posted.
All right. It is election day across the country. Polls open in a number of key states, states that will give us a sense, maybe, of where things are headed over the next 12 months. A preview next.
CAMEROTA: Voters head to the polls today in several key states: Kentucky, Mississippi, Virginia, and New Jersey. All of these could give us clues as to how the 2020 presidential election might play out.
So joining us now is CNN senior politics writer and analyst Harry Enten. OK, Harry, take us through it. So I know you're keeping your eye
closely on Kentucky. Unpopular Republican governor, is that right?
HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICS WRITER AND ANALYST: Yes, Matt Bevin is a deeply unpopular Republican governor. His approval ratings have consistently been below his disapproval ratings.
But you know, if you know something about Kentucky, the president carried that state by about 30 points. So I think what we're seeing there and, in fact, what we're seeing across the board is the nationalization of state politics.
You know, if you go back to the beginning of this decade, about 40 percent of blue states, red states had the opposite party ruling the governorship. Now that's down to 20 percent. And that, I think, is key what's going on in Kentucky, which if this were ten years ago, I wouldn't be surprised if Matt Bevin was going down in defeat. But he has a real shot of victory tonight, because Donald Trump is so popular in that state.
BERMAN: If Democrats can't win that state this time with those candidates, they can't win that state, period, basically.
ENTEN: That's exactly right. I mean, Andy Beshear is the some of the former popular governor, Steve Beshear. He's a great candidate. Matt Bevin not that popular. But again, Donald Trump rallying there last night, the "X" factor. And if Bevin wins, it's probably because of Donald Trump.
CAMEROTA: OK. Let's talk about Mississippi. Shouldn't that be an easy win for the Republican lieutenant governor?
ENTEN: I mean, Tate Reeves, look, a perfectly popular guy, but Jim Hood is the best candidate the Democrats could put up. A longtime attorney general in that state, reelected multiple times. But Mississippi hasn't had a Democratic governor elected in that state in 20 years.
And the rules are such in Mississippi that you need a majority of the win to win statewide, and you also need to win a majority of the state House districts. That may or may not be constitutional, but it really is a long row to hoe for Jim Hood, because of those rules put in place. If that -- if he doesn't get a majority of the vote, doesn't win a majority of the state House districts, it goes to the state House, and that, of course, is controlled by Republicans.
BERMAN: So we just had former Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe on, who claimed to be very confident that Democrats would take back both houses of the legislature there. What's the significance of that, and how does it look for the Democrats?
ENTEN: Yes, look, the Republicans hold very slim majorities in both that state Senate and that state House, only two seat majorities not counting vacancies. And we saw back in 2017, when all the seats were up in the House of Delegates there, that Democrats ran away with it, picked up very many seats. I believe, you know, double-digit seat gains.
And what we saw, though, more importantly, for the nationalization of our politics, if you look at the popular vote in those House of Delegate races back in 2017 and then you flip forward to the House popular vote, the U.S. House of Representatives in 2018, those two lined up nearly perfectly.
So one of the reasons I'm keeping an eye on Virginia tonight is because that House popular vote there may very well tell us -- give us sort of a clue in on what's going to happen in 2020 nationally.
CAMEROTA: All right, Harry. We look forward to getting all of the analysis from you tomorrow, as well.
ENTEN: I love elections, baby.
CAMEROTA: I know. This is your Super Bowl, baby.
ENTEN: It's my Super Bowl, my World Series, my NBA championship. Stanley Cup, too.
CAMEROTA: You deserve a chicken sandwich.
ENTEN: I'm going to get one.
CAMEROTA: I bet you are.
All right. Thank you.
Sorry for all that.
A federal appeals court once again ruling that the president's accounting firm must turn over his tax returns in New York. Is this fight headed to the Supreme Court, and what will happen? That's next.
CAMEROTA: President Trump again losing a challenge in federal court to keep his tax returns from a Manhattan grand jury, potentially setting the stage for a showdown in the U.S. Supreme Court.
Joining us now to talk about this and so much more is Jeffrey Rosen. He's the president and CEO of the National Constitution Center. He's also the author of a new book just out today, "Conversations with RBG: Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Life, Love, Liberty and the Law."
Jeffrey, great to have you here.
JEFFREY ROSEN, PRESIDENT/CEO, NATIONAL CONSTITUTION CENTER: Great to be here.
CAMEROTA: I can't wait to get to your 25 years of conversations that you've been having with RBG. But first, let's just talk about the news of the day. So the New York prosecutors want to see President Trump's tax returns.
He has just lost in an appeals court. Is this something that you think the Supreme Court will take up?
ROSEN: As it happens, Justice Ginsburg is the justice who will decide whether to refer it to the entire Supreme Court. But if you read the appellate court opinion, and I urge viewers to read it, because it's fascinating. It's by Chief Judge Robert Katzmann. It seems pretty tight.
He cites three cases. He says Chief Justice Marshall ordered Thomas Jefferson to turn over subpoenaed materials. Bill Clinton had to turn stuff over. And most importantly, Richard Nixon had to turn over arguably privileged materials.
Here, there's no claim of executive privilege. The tax returns were before he was president. He's not going to be arrested or he doesn't have to appear in court. It's just ordering the accountants to turn over the documents. Therefore, the appeals court reject as extraordinary the claim that he doesn't have to turn it over.
CAMEROTA: Meaning they reject as extraordinary the claim that he -- that there is presidential immunity from this?
ROSEN: Yes. That there's presidential immunity from ever having to have any interactions with the legal system. They said no court has held that before, from Chief Justice Marshall, to Nixon, to Clinton. And therefore, there's no support for it in Supreme Court precedent.
CAMEROTA: Since RBG is the deciding factor here, is this a case that she would take up?
ROSEN: Well, as the circuit justice, she would refer to the whole court anything that she thinks would be controversial. So if she thinks there's a good chance four justices would vote to hear the case, she would ask the whole court to decide. She wouldn't decide it on her own.
CAMEROTA: Do you think she's inclined to do that?
ROSEN: No. This is written by Chief Judge Katzmann, who she knows and respects well. The opinion is tight. It's narrow. Predictions are very dangerous, but I would bet that the great RBG would be persuaded by Chief Judge Katzmann's opinion.
CAMEROTA: Well, if anybody can predict and know her thinking, it would be you, because you have known her for 25 years, correct me if I'm wrong. You've had a series of conversations and correspondence with her. And can you just tell us about that relationship and how you met? I understand it was in an elevator.
ROSEN: It was. It was the luckiest elevator ride of my life. And I was a young law clerk on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia circuit, and she was coming down from an exercise class called jazzercise. This is the early '90s.
CAMEROTA: Now hold on. Was she in her jazzercise outfit, because that's what I'm imagining right now?
ROSEN: You know, I have to say she actually was. She was in her jazzercise outfit --