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State Department Official Kent Says Volker Reached Out to Giuliani Because He Had Influence over Trump's Thinking on Ukraine; Official Says Giuliani's Actions Were a Campaign of Lies to Discredit Former Ambassador to Ukraine; Steyer Aide Apologizes after Report He Offered Money for Endorsements in Iowa; Suspect in Acid Attack Now Charged with Hate Crime; Roger Stone Associate Takes Stand about Threats and Vulgar Texts; Pence Aide Said Trump's July 25 Call with Ukrainian President Was Political and Not Normal Diplomatic Call. Aired 3:30-4p ET
Aired November 7, 2019 - 15:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JAMES BAKER, FORMER FBI GENERAL COUNSEL: -- before testimony comes out that Mr. Giuliani played a central role in running the United States foreign policy with respect to Ukraine. And everybody knew that he was the President's personal attorney. It just defies common sense, this assertion by some that somehow the President didn't know what was going on, that he has some type of plausible deniability. And yet it's his personal attorney doing all of these activities supposedly at the behest of the President. As some type of combination of emissary for foreign relations, as well as his person attorney running around trying to conduct an investigation that Mr. Giuliani tweeted about last night or yesterday sometime.
And so, look, it is clear that Giuliani had a central role and whether the American people believe that somehow the President didn't know about this is for them to decide. It just seems crazy to me.
BALDWIN: Jim Baker, stand by for me. We're reading through his, we're also reading about testimony calling Rudy Giuliani's action as, quote/unquote, campaign of lies. So more from George Kent. Stand by.
BALDWIN: More on the breaking news. Key testimony just released from George Kent's deposition before lawmakers. He is still the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, and we know he felt cut out of decisions regarding Ukraine. Our senior congressional correspondent Manu Raju is on
Capitol Hill. And you know, you've been reading through this, there are some key sections here about Rudy Giuliani's involvement in all of this. So what are you reading?
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, he is very concerned about the role that Rudy Giuliani played in pushing forward this campaign, what he calls a campaign of lies. In part, this push to get rid of the former Ukraine Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, someone who had raised concerns about Giuliani's efforts himself to pursue investigations, push Ukraine to announce investigations into the President's political rivals. And he says that he was cut out as a person in charge of Ukrainian policy in the State Department. He says he was cut out in favor of this parallel foreign policy effort that Rudy Giuliani was a part of.
Now he says this in reference to what his concerns are. He says, Mr. Giuliani at that point had been carrying on a campaign for several months, full of lies, incorrect information about Ambassador Yovanovitch. So this was a continuation of his campaign of lies.
So he was then asked, so you did not think it was true at the time that the Ambassador was removed because she was part of the efforts against the President? He responds, I believe that Mr. Giuliani as a U.S. citizen has first amendment rights to say whatever he wants, but he's a private citizen. His assertions and allegations against former Ambassador Yovanovitch were without basis, untrue, period.
Now he goes on to talk more about the role that Rudy Giuliani played as it came to carrying out foreign policy, specifically, Ukraine policy. He says that later on in the testimony he talks about his conversations with the U.S. Special Envoy to Ukraine at the time, Kurt Volker. Who said that Kurt Volker was reaching out to Giuliani because it was clear that Giuliani had, quote, influence on the President in terms of the way the President thought of Ukraine. And we know the President had dispatched, according to other witnesses, essentially said, deal with Rudy Giuliani when it came to Ukraine.
And what was Rudy Giuliani doing? He was pursuing those investigations, pushing the Ukrainian government to look into Joe Biden. Pushing the Ukrainian government to look into 2016 election interference something that could undercut the findings of the U.S. intelligence community that Russia interfered in the 2016 campaign to help the President. Those investigations, of course, could help the President politically if Ukraine were to move forward, and all of this coming at a time that Ukrainian aid had been withheld.
Nearly $400 million that had been approved by Congress to provide to Ukraine to fight back against Russian aggression. And he talks about the decision to withhold that money saying a lot of confusion about that as well. But here's an individual, Brooke, who was cut out of the decision-making process. Who should have been in charge of Ukraine and saw Rudy Giuliani pursuing these efforts and raised some significant concerns -- Brooke.
BALDWIN: Manu, thank you for reading through it. And for all these updates we'll keep reading through it. This is again the George Kent transcript that Congress has just released -- more on that. Also Democratic Presidential candidate, Tom Steyer responds to reports that one of his campaign aides offered money for endorsements in Iowa. The details on what happened there, ahead.
BALDWIN: New today, a judge has just ordered President Trump to pay $2 million to settle a lawsuit with the State of New York. The lawsuit filed in 2018 against Trump and his three oldest children accused the Donald J. Trump Foundation of violating campaign finance law and said it was quote, a little more than a checkbook to serve Mr. Trump's business and political interests. The Foundation's lawyers accused the Attorney General's office of political motivation and released a statement saying it will donate the $2 million among eight different charities.
And then it went on to write in part, we are pleased that the court in rejecting the Attorney General's frivolous request for statutory penalties, interest and other damages recognized that every penny ever raised by the Trump Foundation has gone to help those most in need.
More trouble inside the Tom Steyer 2020 campaign. A report out by the Associated Press this afternoon indicates that a top Iowa campaign aide allegedly offered money to local politicians for campaign endorsements for Steyer. Steyer's presidential run has already apologized over a campaign aide who resigned after secretly downloading a database of South Carolina supporters of Democratic rival Senator Kamala Harris.
Abby Phillip is our CNN political correspondent with the campaign's response. Doesn't sound good.
ABBY PHILLIP, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, a dicey week for Tom Steyer and his campaign. This is one of those odd situations where basically this Steyer aide who was a former state representative official reached out to some of his former colleagues in a way that made many of them feel like what he was really offering them was money in exchange for political endorsements in Iowa. One of those officials, Tom Courtney, said that the offer left a bad taste in his mouth.
But interestingly, the Steyer campaign is basically saying we didn't actually disburse money to any Iowa candidates. We don't intend to this cycle. But the aide in question, Pat Murphy, apologized. He said it was never my intention to make my former colleagues uncomfortable and I apologize for any miscommunication on their part. So in ways he's acknowledging there was clearly some kind of conversation that happened that made folks feel that that was the offer being made.
And this comes, as you just pointed out, as Steyer is facing just this week another aide accused of improperly accessing information that belonged to another campaign in South Carolina. A lot of the Democratic campaigns right now with a bad taste in their mouth, frankly, about the Tom Steyer campaign. He is flush with money. He is a mostly self-funded candidate, but there are some concerns that there's other stuff going on here. The campaign has spent a lot of time this week basically apologizing for a lot of different incidents -- Brooke, BALDWIN: He is in a debate coming up a little later on this month.
BALDWIN: Abby, thank you very much. Abby Phillip.
Coming up, a Minnesota man has been charged with hate crimes for allegedly tossing acid on another man's face. That victim joins me live, next.
BALDWIN: A suspect in a horrific attack captured on surveillance video tossing acid in the face of a man he's arguing with. He has been located, arrested and charged with a felony hate crime. Clifton Blackwell is this man here accused of attacking the victim outside a Mexican restaurant in Milwaukee last Friday. Mahud Villalaz suffered second degree burns on his face. Villalaz is a U.S. citizen who immigrated to this country from Peru. What he told police, Blackwell called him illegal and told him to go back to where he came from.
And Mahud is with me from Milwaukee along with his lawyer, Craig Mastantuono. So thank you, gentlemen, for being with me. And Mahud, how are you doing?
MAHUD VILLALAZ, HAD ACID THROWN IN HIS FACE (via Skype): I'm doing better. In fact if nothing worse happens to me.
BALDWIN: OK. I know it's painful but can you take us back to the moment that -- I mean, this whole thing was over, my understanding, where you parked your car and your attacker was mad that you parked in a bus lane. You moved. He approached you a second time and then what did he say to you?
VILLALAZ: He told me, why you came here, invade my country? Go back to your country. And then he got -- argued with him and escalated when I told him to -- everyone has come here from somewhere else. And I tell him, Indian Americans came here first, they be the longest. That's the moment when he throw me the acid. And the pain was so bad. Only think go to the restaurant to wash my face right away because the burn was so painful, very painful.
BALDWIN: I can't even begin to imagine. But just as an American citizen, this was over where you were parking your car. What was going through your mind as this was happening?
VILLALAZ: At the moment, he keep arguing about that, he told me you got to be 30 feet away. And then argued after that. And then he started telling me that, you don't respect my laws he says. And then when I tell him, hey, what are you talking about, he got a little bag and pulled out a bottle in that moment.
BALDWIN: But what are you thinking, sir? What are you thinking when this is happening? You live here lawfully. VILLALAZ: Right. I don't understand the question. What is it?
BALDWIN: If he's telling you to go back, home is here.
VILLALAZ: Yes. At that moment, Yes, my instincts told me that something is up with this guy. And I was concerned, something, have something else in his bag. And then I ignored him and go back to my truck and move it.
BALDWIN: Craig, if I may just ask your attorney a question. So the man now faces this felony hate crime. Can you just tell me exactly what he faces and what justice looks like for Mahud?
CRAIG MASTANTUONO, ATTORNEY FOR ACID ATTACK SURVIVOR (via Skype): Sure. The gentleman is charged with first-degree reckless injury, which is a felony. And then there's a hate crime penalty enhancer that says that it alleges that Mr. Blackwell targeted Mahud for his race, color, national origin or ancestry. And if that is proven it would add five-year prison enhancer onto an already 25-year maximum charge.
For Mahud moving forward, he has to participate in the criminal justice process, that's what I'm here to assist him with. I work in the criminal justice system and participate potentially in a trial or other court proceedings.
BALDWIN: Craig and Mahud, I appreciate you coming on national TV and sharing your story. And I hope justice is served for you. Thank you, gentlemen, very much.
VILLALAZ: Thank you.
MASTANTUONO: Thank you.
BALDWIN: Shifting stories, abusive e-mails and it is only day two of testimony in Roger Stone's federal trial. The political operative and long-time friend of President Trump is accused of lying to Congress, witness tampering and obstructing justice during the Robert Mueller investigation. CNN crime and justice reporter Shimon Prokupecz is just outside of federal court there. And I understand a key witness here has just taken the stand.
SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: Yes, that's Randy Credico, Brooke, he just took the stand. He is that witness, you talk about witness tampering. This is the guy that the government says Roger Stone tampered with, tried to intimidate him in not cooperating with Congressional investigators. He went before members of Congress and he gave testimony about contacts with Roger Stone, about contacts with WikiLeaks. And Roger Stone tried to prevent him from going forward and cooperating. And so that is why he is taking the stand.
There's several extensive text messages of Roger Stone, essentially what the government is arguing, threatening him, cursing at him. Using all sorts of vile language to try and prevent him from testifying. At one point telling Randy Credico, stonewall. Plead the fifth. Hold to the plan. Stick to the plan. And Randy Credico now on the stand. He is a colorful person, as we know. He is a comedian. He also does imitations. So it's certainly going to be a lively end of the day as he is now on the stand under direct examination -- Brooke.
BALDWIN: Shimon, thank you for the update. Day two here of testimony. We'll talk again.
Just in to us here at CNN, new details about what the Vice President's adviser testified today behind closed doors about that July 25th phone call between President Trump and the Ukrainian President. So Lauren Fox, what do we know?
LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: Well, what we're learning is that Jennifer Williams told lawmakers behind closed doors that she did think that the call on July 25th that she'd listened in on in was more political than diplomatic in nature. However, her concerns about that call she never raised to her superiors and that's a key detail. Basically she was one of the Vice President's two aides who were on that call.
And it's a very key detail because it gives Democrats an opportunity to say that she had concerns about what was going on with this funding. Also, she said she did not believe that the Vice President was part of these discussions with the Ukrainians. Obviously, that is a key detail here. Because Democrats going into this wanted to know what the Vice President knew and when. But we're just getting new details, of course, exactly what she said in the room, her testimony spanning several hours this morning. It got out just a few minutes ago -- Brooke.
BALDWIN: OK, so, she appeared. Someone who did not, was a former National Security Adviser John Bolton. Why was he not on Capitol Hill today?
FOX: Well, he wasn't on Capitol Hill today. He was never subpoenaed which, of course, is very unusual, given what we've seen over the last several weeks with these depositions. But they did not want to subpoena him because they didn't want this tied up in court. When an aide for Adam Schiff said earlier, was they didn't want this getting tied up in a rope-a-dope in court. Of course, they're going to track this up as potentially just another example of obstruction of Congress, when these individuals don't come before Congress for these depositions.
Democrats are saying we don't want to get tied up. What we want to do is move forward with our impeachment inquiry. If they don't want to show up, that's on them. They can see that in a potential article of impeachment when they move forward, saying that these individuals and the White House were obstructing Congress -- Brooke.
BALDWIN: And what's the timeline here for this impeachment process now?
FOX: Well, potentially, this could all be wrapped up in the House of Representatives before Christmas. That of course, is coming as they move into this public phase of the impeachment inquiry. Next week we're going to see three public hearings. That's a very significant addition to what we've been seeing in these closed-door depositions. Of course, we're getting these transcripts more and more of them every single day.
So the American people are getting an opportunity to see exactly what's been going on for the last several weeks in what Republicans had argued was a closed-door process. Of course, all that have moving into the public sphere. Once you have these public hearings, that's going to be a very significant change for the American people who are going to be watching --