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Top Diplomat Was Told Trump Wanted Investigations Announced In Exchange For Military Aid; Bolton Suggested Taylor Write Cable To Pompeo On Ukraine Aid Hold; White House Adds Two New Aides To Impeachment Team; Suspicious Situation On Airplane In Amsterdam; Suburbs Revolt Helps Lead Democrats To Victory In Virginia & Kentucky. Aired 2:30-3p ET
Aired November 6, 2019 - 14:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: We're back with more breaking news. Let's go back to the Bill Taylor transcript. He is the first person who will be testifying in this public impeachment inquiry next Wednesday. We now have his transcript.
Kylie Atwood, over to you. What section are you highlighting?
KYLIE ATWOOD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY REPORTER: So we're getting a little bit more details with regard to Bill Taylor, who was recruited from retirement to take this job by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. And was pulled in after Ambassador Yovanovitch extensively was pushed out of the job because Trump lost confidence in her.
But Bill Taylor didn't initially want to take the job. What he told lawmakers is that, when he saw sat down with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to discuss the situation at the State Department, he said that, quote, "All to say I was concerned that there was, I think I put it, a snake pit in Kiev and a snake pit here, and I was not sure that I could usefully serve in that context."
So he described Secretary Pompeo committing to U.S. policy with regard to Ukraine. And he also said the Giuliani did not come up in that conversation.
But there was an interesting tidbit in which there was conversation about a congratulatory note to President Zelensky that had not gone through yet. Bill Taylor noted that. And Secretary Pompeo seems surprised to that. That statement did go forth.
What we're learning here is that Bill Taylor was hesitant. He didn't necessarily want to take this job at the beginning. He was convinced to take the job.
But then, of course, we know, Brooke, that he grew more and more frustrated as he saw this parallel foreign policy carried out by the president's personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani. And we know he wrote a memo to Secretary Pompeo expressing his
concerns about that policy in late August and he never received a notice back, anything back from Secretary Pompeo on this front.
We should note that, as we are reviewing this transcript from Bill Taylor, the top U.S. diplomate in Ukraine, he is on the job in Ukraine right now. He is still serving in that post.
He is not among the officials who have resigned in the wake of this impeachment inquiry. And he is one of the folks who is already on the schedule to come back and speak to lawmakers in a public testimony next week.
And that is when Adam Schiff told folks today it will be up to those watching to determine what they think about the legitimacy of those coming farther and those who are telling their story, their version of events.
And with regard to Bill Taylor, he is really the one who laid out the elements that amounts to a quid pro quo.
BALDWIN: Yes. No, and to your point, this is a man who came out of retirement to take this job, and he was recruited by Mike Pompeo, the secretary of state, to take this job.
Kylie, thank you very much.
Paul Callan, let's talk John Bolton.
John Bolton comes up a couple of times here in this testimony, who was the former national security adviser.
September 28th, 2019, John Bolton suggested Ambassador Taylor write a, quote, unquote, "first person cable directly to Secretary Pompeo about President Trump's hold on aid to Ukraine to get attention back there."
It is so clear that, in the texts between Sondland and Taylor, it was against everything in him to understand why the U.S. was withholding this $400 million.
And what about John Bolton is so key in all of this?
PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I think John Bolton who was very close to the administration, somebody in conservative circles was highly respected and somebody who maybe would have backed the idea that it was OK to investigate the Bidens as part of American foreign policy.
In fact, the opposite is true. It's clear that Bolton thought this was a severe violation of established protocol in negotiations with a foreign country, that it would be bad for the United States.
And what struck me about his involvement, it's like the involvement of every other profession diplomate around the Ukraine issue. They're all stunned that the president is threatening the president of Ukraine that $400 million in aid is going to be cut off unless he agrees to investigate the Bidens.
And at the very beginning of the analysis of this transcript, I note that, as early as May, the president conveyed a message that he had a back channel through Giuliani and that something irregular was going happen in terms of the conduct of Ukrainian policy. And Giuliani becomes the conduit, not any of the professional diplomats.
BALDWIN: What's the quote -- it was during a meeting in May of '19, Trump made clear to those in the irregular channel that, "In order for Zelensky to get this Oval Office meeting that they needed to," quote, "work with Rudy Giuliani."
BALDWIN: Everyone, hang tight. We'll get another quick break in.
We're also learning how Bill Taylor talked about this nightmare scenario involving the Russians.
We'll be right back.
BALDWIN: As House Democrats announce the first public hearings in the impeachment inquiry for next week, we are learning that the White House is adding to new aides to its ranks.
Kaitlan Collins is at the White House.
Kaitlan, who are they adding and why?
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Tony Sayegh is a former adviser to Steven Mnuchin, and the other is Pam Bondi, former Florida attorney general, a favorite of President Trump for some time.
We're are learning and confirming they are going to be joining the administration to help bolster its message and strategy as they are facing House Democrats in this impeachment investigation, which, as you just noted, is ramping up with the announcement of these public hearings. They're start a week from today.
Sources tell us that both of these aids are only expected to be brought in on a temporary basis. How long it will last is unclear, whether it matches up exactly with as long as this impeachment drags out, which could be a while.
While both of these aids are coming on and saying it's not just going to be about impeachment, the timing lines up with that, and that is what they are going to be helping the administration with, Brooke.
We should note, the White House has been denying for several weeks now that they needed to add any staffers to their ranks. But this is acknowledgement that they are going to need help dealing
with House Democrats, especially with these transcripts being released, these witnesses coming back to Capitol Hill. And that is what they are hoping these two aides are going to be able to do.
BALDWIN: Kaitlan, thank you for that.
We'll stay on our breaking news as well, of course, continue to analyze excerpts from this Bill Taylor testimony.
Also, we'll give you an update on this break story out of Schiphol International Airport in Amsterdam where there's a suspicious situation on an airplane. As Nic Robertson was reporting, a threat to life in the vicinity. Lots of questions here. We're live in just a moment.
BALDWIN: Update on the breaking story out of Amsterdam. Dutch authorities say they are investigating a suspicious situation onboard a plane at Schiphol International Airport, a huge hub, a global hub in Amsterdam.
Nic Robertson has the update.
Nic, what is the story now?
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: The latest we're hearing from Dutch police is passengers and crew are safely off the aircraft. They say their investigation continues.
These are very limited details. We don't know what the investigation that continues is still looking for. We're not clear at the moment if there were other people other than the passengers and crew onboard who may have been taken into custody. Police are not mentioning being taken into custody.
What we understood from the Dutch police was that they were investigating the suspicious incident on board an aircraft, that emergency services have been deployed.
The Dutch national broadcaster indicated that they believed there were 27 passengers on board the aircraft. They believe the pilot had triggered an alarm indicating a potential hijacking situation.
These are details from the Dutch national broadcaster. These are not yet from the Dutch police. The Dutch police have yet to provide details.
But indications are, and we've seen pictures on social media, of parts of the airport being deserted. Passengers being held in other areas of the airport.
Flight Radar 24, that flight tracking radar system, indicated that there was an emergency situation at the Schiphol Airport, that the gates in the areas A and D, the even-numbered gates, that aircraft due to go to their gates, had been directed to hard stand.
But as the situation stands right now, the Dutch police are saying that their investigation continues and we wait to get more details -- Brooke?
BALDWIN: Nic, thank you. Let us know.
In the meantime, Josh Campbell is joining us. Josh is our law enforcement analyst, spent years with the FBI.
So when you hear some of what Nic is reporting, and thank goodness, everyone sounds to be OK, but the investigation has only just begun. What will they be looking at?
JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Absolutely. And very little details right now that we're hearing from officials. We can imagine, at this point in time, their focus is on mitigating whatever this issue is.
Now, we don't know where exactly this happened at the airport. Anyone who has flown in and out of Schiphol Airport knows this is a massive airfield. We don't know if this happened at a gate. Those are details we don't yet have.
But we know that information is coming from military police who appear to be controlling the flow of information as they attempt to determine what happened.
What we don't yet know, and those of who travel know, over the years, watching different incidents, there are a multitude of ways that an aircraft crew can signal there's an issue on board. We all have cell phones now.
We don't know if that local reporting that Nic was reporting about the pilot flipping a switch, whether that was accidental or whether that was in response to some type of incident. So a lot of information we don't have yet.
I can tell you this is causing massive interruptions at that airport. This is Europe's third-largest airport, after London's Heathrow and Charles De Gaulle. Some 71 million passengers come through there. They're attempting to mitigate that, get air traffic back up and running.
We're waiting to hear additional details from military police.
The good news, Brooke, the passengers are now safely off that aircraft.
BALDWIN: Passengers and crew, A-OK. The investigation only just begins.
Josh Campbell, if you get more, we'll pop up back on TV and you can report it.
Thank you very much.
CAMPBELL: Thank you.
BALDWIN: Let's switch gears and talk politics. For the first time in decades, a clean sweep for Democrats in Virginia as they claim majorities in both the state House and the Senate.
In Kentucky, a state that President Trump won by 30 points just three years ago, Democrat Andy Beshear earned more votes than Republican incumbent, Matt Bevin, in the race for governor. Beshear is calling it a victory, although Bevin has yet to concede.
The outcome in Mississippi was more Trump friendly. Lieutenant Governor Tate Reeves avoided an upset by state attorney general, Jim Hood.
But today, a source close to the White House had this assessment, telling CNN that last night's results -- and I'm quoting here -- "Totally bad." Kentucky and Virginia signaled to the GOP that they are underestimating voter intensity against Trump and it could be terrible for them next year. Bad omen for impeachment."
CNN Political Commentator, Andrew Gillum, is with me here, the former Tallahassee mayor. He lost that bitter battle in 2016 for Florida governor.
Andrew Gillum, nice to see you again, sir.
ANDREW GILLUM, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: You, too. You, too, Brooke.
GILLUM: Thanks for the reminder, by the way.
BALDWIN: But we get you now. We get you here now at CNN.
Let me begin with just the sentiment you heard from the source over at the White House that this is the worry, that this is a bad omen for impeachment. Do you agree with that?
GILLUM: I do. We've been listening to people on the right warn us day after day and interview after interview that impeachment is the great disaster for the Democratic party. And I think we found out yesterday the exact opposite.
First of all, let's acknowledge, we are talking about states all below the Mason-Dixon line where Republicans have had strongholds. A 30- point lead for the president in Kentucky. And to elect a Democrat statewide as governor is pretty incredible.
Mississippi, the state of Haley Barbour, as one that could have potentially flipped. There ought to be alarm bells going off all over the White House. Mainly because suburban voters have caught up with the rest in the
Democratic Party. And that is in spite of all the hyperbolic talk of Donald Trump.
He has arrived in the presidency and is still not prepared to make any of the alterations necessary to grow into the position of president. This situation in Ukraine, all, and completely of his own making.
These folks want predictability. They want seriousness. They want a president, not someone who terrifies them every single day they open up their Twitter feed. And they're abandoning the Republican Party at record rates right now.
BALDWIN: Let's go back to your point about the suburbs. Many are calling this proof of a suburban revolt, anti-Trump sentiment building against the president, even in public Republican strongholds across the south.
And then at that rally on Monday, President Trump said a poor showing, a poor showing would reflect badly on him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If you lose, it sends a really bad message. And here is the story. If you win, they're going to make it like ho-hum. If you lose, they're to say Trump suffered the greatest defeat in the history of the world. This was the greatest. You can't let that happen to me!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: Who do you think the president energizes with comments like this, his supporters or his critics?
GILLUM: I think he does both. I don't suffer illusions. I know the president has a pretty resilient base. Those who are with him are going to be with him regardless of what he does.
But those are people that want to assure reelection for the president. He's got to be worried. These suburban areas that, quite frankly, look the other way in 2016 election. Partly because I think they thought that maybe it wasn't going be as bad as many of us predicted.
The truth is that it's worse. And he's offensive to the senses of the suburban voters. It's been that way for a lot of us for a long time.
But now they're looking up every single day. They resent his tariffs. They resent the unpredictability of this administration, the lawlessness that is taking hold. The Ukrainians being one example. His Russia first policies. All of this is the symptom. Now they're showing out. They showed it in 2018 in the congressional races and they
reemphasized that message. Many of those same flipped districts that's we saw in 2018, they made the same message loud and clear in places like Kentucky and Virginia, flipping the House and the Senate in Virginia into Democratic control for the first time in a generation.
BALDWIN: Your race wasn't that long ago. You juxtapose that with what happened last night and all of this said, what kind of Democrat, Andrew, can win elections rights now?
GILLUM: I know there's a healthy debate in our party right now, but I tend to believe this is going to be a race about the candidate who puts the voters at the center of the conversation, that we talk about health care.
We're dealing with sophisticated voters in a lot of these places, particularly, when we talk about the suburbs.
I know our hair gets on fire when we hear bold agendas, but voters are making the calculation. They're saying, listen, we may still have to work with potentially a Republican Senate. There will be compromise in the process. It will be the tug and the pull.
In my case in Florida, I got closer than any Democrat had in 24 years in the race for governor in Florida and came 30,000 votes short. And I ran unapologetically as a progressive.
So I think we need a candidate who will focus and put centrally in the message and the voters in mind. And I think the voters are smart enough to do the rest.
BALDWIN: Andrew Gillum, thank you for coming on. Good to see you.
GILLUM: Of course.
BALDWIN: Thank you.
We will get you back to our breaking news out of Washington today. This testimony of a key witness is released, the transcript is released describing a quid pro quo, according to him, involving Ukraine. Hear what he says the president's role is in all of this.