Return to Transcripts main page
House Democrats Release Transcripts of Testimony from Witnesses in Impeachment Inquiry; Witness Claims Secretary of State Pompeo Made Misleading Public Statements regarding Former Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch; Nine Americans Die in Attack in Mexico; Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD) is Interviewed About Trump Impeachment Inquiry; Impeachment Politics Face Test in Kentucky Governor's Race. Aired 8-8:30a ET
Aired November 5, 2019 - 08:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: -- are expected to be released at any moment. We would, of course, bring those to you. Text messages establish that both men along with Rudy Giuliani were directly involved with this backchannel effort to get Ukraine to publicly announce investigations into the Bidens and Democrats.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Also this morning, we're analyzing the just released testimony of two key State Department employees, former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, and Michael McKinley, a former top aide to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Yovanovitch reports the concern about her safety because of statements from the president, and McKinley's testimony suggests in bright, neon flashing lights that if Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was not flat out lying in public about the dismissal of Yovanovitch, he is at a minimum parsing language in a very misleading way.
And breaking news. The Mexican government is expected to release more information in just moments about this deadly ambush attack that killed nine members of an American family. We're going to have the breaking details in a live report from Mexico very shortly. Just looking at these pictures right now. They're horrifying.
We're going to begin, though, with the impeachment inquiry. Joining us, CNN political analyst Maggie Haberman, she's the White House correspondent for "The New York Times," and CNN chief legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin. Maggie, I want to start with you. Republicans have been calling on Democrats to release the transcripts of the testimony of the impeachment inquiry. Well, they got some now. And what story do these transcripts tell so far?
MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: So far I am having trouble finding information that bolsters Republicans' cases that this is unfair, that information was being cherrypicked, that there's a fuller picture, at least from these two. It's possible when the Volker and Sondland transcripts of released, and those are the ones that I did hear Republicans talking about, that they had concerns about information getting cherrypicked and creating a certain narrative from. But so far the two we saw yesterday, to your point, they create a picture of an ambassador who was concerned about being threatened on some level by the president of the United States. And they create a sense or a -- there were statements to the fact under oath that Mike Pompeo was not telling the truth when he was asked by an aide to give a statement supporting the ambassador.
This will all be washed away in headlines because everything is moving so fast and hot and out. But it so far is not adding fuel to Republicans claims that this is some effort to try to damage the president and it's all unfounded.
CAMEROTA: I think one of the big takeaways is that it wasn't that the president didn't like Marie Yovanovitch. He claims he didn't know her. It was that she was seen in the transcript, you see, as an impediment to whatever shadow diplomacy Rudy Giuliani was doing. Rudy Giuliani wanted Viktor Shokin, the widely disgraced prosecutor, to come to the U.S. He was trying to -- I don't know, coordinate with Viktor Shokin somehow, and she denied him a visa. And then there was a target on her back.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: There's only one story in these transcripts. There's one story, which is that the Trump political appointees, the people outside the State Department chain of command, were trying to get dirt on Joe Biden and steamroll anyone who was in their way. That's the only story that you can interpret from what we've seen so far.
And just to emphasize what Maggie said, there's no consistent defense you see from the Republicans. They're complaining that these opening statements were released publicly. But there's no sort of narrative that they are trying to put forward. Now, maybe they will when the full story has come out. But certainly, based on what we've seen, there's no defense that comes through in the questions from the Republican members.
BERMAN: I will suggest also there's one story which you outlined there. And it's a story that senior administration officials, including the president and the secretary of state, seem to be lying about now when confronted with it, or have over the last few months. You were talking about the president saying he didn't remember Yovanovitch. It's in the transcript. He's talking to the president of Ukraine about her. He may not be best friends with her, but he certainly knew what he was doing in regards to her. He speaks about her at length.
And then with Mike Pompeo, and I just want people to know this, so let's play it. So Mike McKinley testified yesterday they he had three conversations, three conversations with Mike Pompeo.
CAMEROTA: He tried.
BERMAN: Well, three times he went to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, three specific times to try to get a statement of support for Yovanovitch. And Mike Pompeo was unresponsive there. But those conversations happened. And I just want you to watch the secretary of state, how he handles direct questions from George Stephanopoulos about this subject. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE POMPEO, 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 --
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS: So you were never asked --
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)
TOOBIN: It was a great contradiction in those answers. It didn't happen, and I'm not talking about it.
BERMAN: And he may be trying to hide behind a specific time period there. But this is the secretary of state, Maggie, not being straight with the American people in public.
HABERMAN: The secretary of state has developed a habit, as we have seen, of when he is faced with questioning, whether it is from a junior reporter or a senior one of saying either that something isn't true or you're working for the DNC if you ask this question. This is a pretty straightforward question, and he doesn't provide, based on this transcript that was delivered under oath, this testimony, he provides an answer that contradicts that. He's going to have to explain why he did that. But it is certainly worth asking him why when he speaks publicly again.
CAMEROTA: We've been talking all morning about the calls from Rand Paul to out the whistleblower. You also have reporting that they are also trying to out the anonymous writer of the op-ed, the Justice Department. What are they trying to do? Or what steps are they taking to do this?
HABERMAN: Sure. So an assistant attorney general at the Justice Department sent a letter to the publisher and agents for Anonymous, this author who we don't know if they're still in government or not -- they may have not, they may not -- who is writing this book called "A Warning" that is due out in a couple of weeks. The letter seeks proof that the author never signed a nondisclosure agreement, and barring any proof of that, some information about where they served and the dates of service.
Now, you can read this two ways. There are legitimate questions. The Justice Department, which serves as the lawyers for the executive branch, does ask questions about people's book writing. This is not the first time there have been efforts to review books. There's also very few cases of anonymous authors who have served in the administration, so this is a bit sui generis. But the book's agents are taking it as an effort to unmask the author.
Remember, the president wanted people to figure out who this author was last year when the person wrote an op-ed in "The New York Times," and it is consistent, as we have seen, with the president's efforts to figure out the identity of other whistleblowers or people who have spoken out anonymously, and we know that he has raged about leaks. So it's not surprising. Again, you can make an argument, I think, on either side for this, and they might both be true. But taken together it just adds to another piece of the pie that looks as if the president is trying to figure out who he thinks is against him when they can be protected in a certain way.
TOOBIN: Everybody should read Maggie's story in "The New York Times." But just step back. The Justice Department doesn't have anything better to do than talk about a book that hasn't even been published yet? When I worked in the government, I signed a prepublication review agreement. I submitted my book for review. That's only true if you have a security clearance. There's no evidence so far that this Anonymous person has a security clearance. If you don't have a security clearance, you can write anything you want.
CAMEROTA: But it is different than the whistleblower protection. That's a law. So the whistleblower is protected, that identity by law needs to be protected. Writing a book and wanting to be anonymous, all bets are off if you're exposed.
TOOBIN: Absolutely. And this person, I assume, like Joe Klein who wrote "Primary Colors" --
CAMEROTA: At some point.
TOOBIN: -- under the name Anonymous was unmasked. This is a much less serious thing. The whistleblower's life is in danger. That is a serious concern. The anonymous thing, it just shows how the Justice Department instead of doing the work of protecting the country is doing the work of protecting Donald Trump's political interests.
BERMAN: So very quickly, Lev Parnas, who is one of the shady figures under indictment for trying to influence the U.S. elections with these donations, and curiously connected to Rudy Giuliani, now apparently is willing to talk to impeachment investigators, which is a new development. Jeffrey talked to us about the legal implications here, suggesting they need to coordinate between the Southern District and Congress. But what kind of danger, Maggie, in a political sense, if this guy wants to talk, does he pose for Giuliani and perhaps the White House? And don't forget, the president went to great ends to say he doesn't really know the guy even though he's in pictures with him, which may be what pissed him off.
HABERMAN: It might be. Our understanding is that did bother him, and we know that the White House had to sign off on John Dowd, Parnas' former lawyer who is also Donald Trump's former lawyer, representing him. I think it's too soon to say. We've had a lot of witnesses who have claimed to know things over the course of the last two-and-a-half years about Donald Trump and it just hasn't materialized. So I am personally waiting to see what this person knows.
He might know more about Rudy Giuliani. He might know more about Rudy Giuliani's finances. He might know more about what Giuliani was doing in Ukraine. He spent a lot of time around Giuliani. He spent a lot less time around Donald Trump. So I think if he has information, it's going to be there. But I'm still waiting to see.
TOOBIN: Everybody should go on YouTube and look at the video of Giuliani and Lev together at the Trump hotel. It's just -- it's vivid and it's somewhat entertaining, I would say.
CAMEROTA: Very good.
TOOBIN: They should continue watching CNN, but also look at YouTube.
CAMEROTA: Our viewers can multitask. Jeffrey, Maggie, thank you very much.
Now to our breaking news. Mexico's president and top officials of the Mexican government are addressing this deadly ambush that killed nine American family members in the Mormon community, including six children, some of them very young. This was in northern Mexico. You can see the aftermath of this hideous attack on this family caravan. CNN's Matt Rivers is live in Mexico City with all the breaking details. What are they saying, Matt?
MATT RIVERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Alisyn, still very much a developing story, but one that is certainly going to really send shock waves across the United States and, frankly, Mexico today. What we know so far, there is a large Mormon community. It's a sect of the Mormon church not officially recognized by the church in Utah, but they have lived, this family, a large extended family, hundreds of family members, have lived in this area. It's called Sonora. It's a state in northwestern Mexico. They've lived there for decades.
And it was yesterday in the mid-afternoon that three different vehicles driven by three different women, inside the three vehicles, 14 minors, they left traveling for safety in a group. They were each going to go do different things, according to family members that we spoke to. It was around 3:00 p.m., according to the government, that this attack began. The motive behind it, we're not sure, but the aftermath was incredibly tragic. Nine people dead, three women, including six children. One child remains missing, and another six were injured as a result of this attack.
What family members that CNN have spoken to are saying is they believe this could have had something to do with the cartel violence that we've seen in this part of the world before. What they think might have happened is that this group of cars was attacked by a cartel looking to attack another cartel, and this could be a case of mistaken identity. Now, the Mexican government, obviously, trying to respond to this
right now. A daily press conference given by Mexico's president is under way. But it's clear they don't have a lot of information right now either going on what they're saying is firsthand accounts by family members. And speaking of firsthand accounts, CNN was able to speak with a relative of one of those people who were killed.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LEAH STADDON, FAMILY MEMBERS KILLED IN MEXICO ATTACK: I think a lot of us are just speechless. It's horrific. My sister could actually see the smoke from her house. And they heard the gunshots. Just can't believe that this actually happened to our family. It just seems like a bad dream.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RIVERS: So the State Department says that they are looking into this from the United States, but, clearly, this is something that is going to really have a massive impact on the relationship between the United States and Mexico. John, Alisyn?
BERMAN: Matt, we'll take it again. The Mexican president is briefing right now. We're hearing him suggest there is still one child missing, and that's on top of the three mothers and six children confirmed dead. This is horrifying.
CAMEROTA: It's just shocking, and so, obviously, Matt will bring us any developments from that press conference.
Meanwhile, House Democrats are making the case for abuse of power by the president of the United States. We'll speak with a Democrat who was there for these depositions, next.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: This morning, the House Intelligence Committee is expected to release two more transcripts from key witnesses in the impeachment inquiry. This is all part of making the impeachment inquiry public.
Joining us now is Democratic Congressman Jamie Raskin. He serves on the House Oversight and Judiciary Committees and he was there for these closed-door depositions.
Congressman, thanks so much for being on with us.
It's good to have you because, obviously, our viewers are busy people. They don't have time necessarily to read the hundreds of pages of these transcripts from the depositions. You were in the room.
Can you give us what your big takeaways of having been there?
REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D-MD): Well, thanks for having me. Ambassador Yovanovitch was a dedicated public servant for 3 1/2
decades in the State Department's Foreign Service.
She was appointed ambassador twice under Republican presidents, once under Democratic president, and served ably and had an excellent reputation. And then, all of a sudden, was subjected to a smear campaign where her integrity was brought into doubt, where she was accused to be an operative of George Soros, where all kinds of deranged things were being thrown at her with no basis at all. And she was basically set up for a comprehensive smear campaign by Rudy Giuliani and his henchmen Parnas and Fruman who were going around Ukraine.
And she was told by lots of people this was happening to her. And there was an effort by Ambassador McKinley, another distinguished Democrat -- rather -- take that back, distinguished diplomat, not a Democrat. I suspect -- I don't know what his political partisanship is, but he had been ambassador to Afghanistan. He had been ambassador to, I think, Colombia, ambassador to Peru.
RASKIN: And he tried to get Secretary of State Pompeo to speak out on behalf of Ambassador Yovanovitch. And he refused to do it. And he said he could not believe there was this, you know, campaign of smears and lies against her and the State Department would not stand up for her. And he said basically he ended up resigning in protest saying he had never seen anything like this in 37 years in his service in the State Department.
CAMEROTA: I mean, Congressman, you know what Republicans have been saying over the past few days. OK. I might not have handled things this way, but nothing illegal, nothing illegal here. In fact, nothing even rises to the level of impeachment.
RASKIN: OK. Well, so, this, of course, was not a civil service appeal by Ambassador Yovanovitch. I mean, she was recalled and removed from her job by the president.
But what it sets the stage for is all of the financial and political schemes that the president was executing along with Giuliani and his henchmen. Remember, the president organized the shakedown of the Ukrainian government in order to obtain political dirt or to manufacture political dirt on the Bidens and in order to confirm the discredited conspiracy theory that it was Ukraine and not Russia that interfered in the 2016 election.
So the president has tried to say this is just about one phone call, and it was a perfect phone call. It was a perfectly unlawful phone call, but it's not just about a phone call, it's about a whole campaign to run a -- not a parallel shadow foreign policy, but a perpendicular foreign policy, working across purposes with Yovanovitch who was leading a campaign against corruption in Ukraine. And, in fact, it was the president's deputies who were reviving corruption and trying to exploit the traditional corruption that took place in that country.
CAMEROTA: Well, Senator Rand Paul last night was at a Trump rally. And he wants the person, the whistle-blower who helped launch this inquiry to be made public. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. RAND PAUL (R-KY): The whistleblower 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)
CAMEROTA: What do you say to Senator Rand Paul?
RASKIN: Very dangerous stuff to be scapegoating and targeting the whistle-blower.
The whistle-blower is an irrelevant distraction at this point because the whistle-blower was the person who said -- and remember the president emphasized this -- I don't have firsthand knowledge of any of this, but I've been told a series of things by people who were involved. All of those people -- not all of them, but lots of them have come forward, very bravely over the threats of the White House to testify precisely about what they knew.
Ambassador Yovanovitch is one of them, Ambassador McKinley is another, and there are a whole series of other witness whose depositions are going to be --
RASKIN: -- released this week and go public.
So the attempt to demonize and vilify the whistle-blower is a scapegoating tactic that, again, is a distraction from the merits of the case. You'll notice the president's defenders are doing everything they can to distract people from what actually happened there because there's almost complete agreement on it. Nobody is telling any story other than the president organized this shakedown against the Ukrainian government and then tried to cover it up afterwards.
CAMEROTA: Very quickly, is former national security adviser John Bolton going to appear on Thursday?
RASKIN: We don't know the answer to that, but our position is that everybody needs to appear. When you are subpoenaed by the United States Congress to come and render your testimony to the government, you come. And now, they've concocted this silly thing that, oh, well, the White House can stop it by claiming absolute immunity which is a doctrine that appears out of nowhere like the stork brought it.
No court has ever found there's some kind of absolute immunity on the contrary, everybody owes the sovereign their testimony. If the president could stop people from testifying in an impeachment investigation, then that would absolutely neuter the impeachment power which the founders put into the Constitution for a reason. We don't have kings here. The president has a job to faithfully execute the laws passed by Congress. If you're not faithfully executing the law but you're out committing high crimes and misdemeanors all over the world, then Congress will call you to account.
And we're in the middle of that process right now. It's a serious, it's a solemn process and we're not going to accept people defying and trampling the rule of law.
CAMEROTA: Congressman Jamie Raskin, thanks so much for explaining all of that to NEW DAY.
RASKIN: Thank you for having me.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: So, we're still about a year from the presidential election, but why wait? It actually is Election Day in several states. And the decisions made today could tell us a lot about what will happen next year.
CAMEROTA: Voters in several states head to the polls today. The race for governor in Kentucky will be one of the most closely watched. Of course, President Trump was there last night rallying support for the governor, Matt Bevins' re-election. The president won this deep red state by a 2-to-1 margin in 2016.
Today's vote comes in the midst of an impeachment fight. Will that have an impact?
Well, CNN's Evan McMorris-Santoro was up early. He talked to voters in Louisville.
EVAN MCMORRIS-SANTORO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Soren Noris has his work cut out for him. He's trying to persuade independent voters to cast their ballots for the Democrats -- in Kentucky.
(on camera): Can you teach me the official door knocker knock? Which is it's like a dank, da-dank, dank, dank, dank (ph), that's how you do it?
SOREN NORIS, PROFESSIONAL ORGANIZER, AFL-CIO: Yes. Well, you want to be very firm and loud so they come to the door. But if you just do the straight loud, it sounds like a police knocking on the door. So, that's why we do that.
MCMORRIS-SANTORO: So shave and a haircut, not a cop.
MCMORRIS-SANTORO (voice-over): The gubernatorial election here is one of two governors races taking place today in addition to the high- profile battle for control over Virginia's state legislature.
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): The motion to reconsider is laid upon the table.
MCMORRIS-SANTORO: But this contest might be the first real look at how the politics of impeachment are playing out on the ground.
The race could be decided by swing voters in working class suburbs like this one in Louisville.