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House to Begin Televised Impeachment Hearings Next Week; Report: Trump asked A.G. to Hold News Conference to Clear Him on Ukraine; Republican Warning Signs after Election Losses This Week; Source: Jeff Sessions to Announced Senate Bid; PA Voters in Swing Districts Weigh in on 2020 Race. Aired 7-7:30a ET
Aired November 7, 2019 - 07:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The first dates have been set for those first public hearings. The White House is essentially bracing themselves.
KELLYANNE CONWAY, COUNSEL TO DONALD TRUMP: You cannot impeach a president, remove him from office, based on somebody saying they presumed and someone else saying they interpreted.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You want an initial hit, someone to describe exactly what took place? I don't know if anyone is better than Ambassador Taylor.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The Republicans have struggled to try to defend the indefensible.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Republicans are not struggling on anything.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In the immediate aftermath of the transcript being released, what he wanted was the attorney general to have a public appearance. Bill Barr declined.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The president views Barr is as his personal attorney.
ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is NEW DAY. Alisyn loves that sunrise.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Well, I love that sunrise, but also, that was an awfully ominous sting, music sting we just started with.
BERMAN: The sun is rising, dun dun dun.
CAMEROTA: Dun, dun, dun. BERMAN: All right. We begin with new allegations that President Trump tried to use the Justice Department to influence public perception about the impeachment inquiry.
"The Washington Post" was the first to report this morning that the president asked Attorney General William Barr to hold a news conference last month. Go out in public and clear the president of any wrongdoing involving his July call to Ukraine, where there was this alleged shakedown with the Ukrainian president. The attorney general refused to hold that news conference, reportedly, for reasons that are not known.
This comes as a new witness heads to Capitol Hill today to testify. Jennifer Williams, the senior adviser to Vice President Mike Pence, was on that July call. She is expected to reveal her concerns about it and talk about the vice president's role in all of this.
It's still unknown whether former national security adviser John Bolton will appear today.
CAMEROTA: The televised impeachment hearings will begin next week. The first witness House Democrats will call is Ambassador Bill Taylor. You, of course, will remember he's the top American diplomat in Ukraine.
Taylor tells lawmakers it was his clear understanding that U.S. aid to Ukraine would not be released until the Ukrainian president agreed to investigate President Trump's political rivals. In other words, that's a condition for a quid pro quo.
Taylor will testify in public before the House Intel Committee next Wednesday.
Joining us now to talk about this and so much more, we have CNN political director David Chalian; CNN political analyst Rachael Bade. She's a congressional reporter for "The Washington Post." And CNN chief legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin. Great to have all of you.
Rachael, let's talk about your reporting in your paper, "The Washington Post," about how President Trump had wanted Attorney General Bill Barr to go out and make a public statement, basically exonerating President Trump of any wrongdoing or any illegality in that July 25 phone call. And we had seen, in the past, Bill Barr go out and make a misleading summary of the Mueller report. So do we know why he refused to do it this time?
RACHAEL BADE, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. Quite a difference. I mean, back when the Mueller report was released, Trump -- Barr went out there and braced Trump's No. 1 talking point, which was no collusion. Said that specifically to reporters.
But clearly, when it came to Ukraine, from our understanding and my colleagues' reporting, is that Barr wanted nothing to do with the Ukraine business and wanted to distance himself from it from the moment this all hit the headlines. If you recall, back in this transcript, the president told President
Zelensky of Ukraine, oh, work with my attorney general, Bill Barr. He's going to want to help you with this investigation you're going to do of the Bidens.
Well, right when the transcript came out, the -- a spokesperson for Barr specifically pushed back on that, saying he never had a conversation with the president about that.
A couple of days later, Mulvaney had this big press conference where he said, look, of course there was a quid pro quo. Money is contingent on them helping us with this investigation, suggesting DOJ was aware of it.
Well, DOJ pushed back on that again, saying this was, quote, "news to them." So clearly, Barr has not wanted anything to do with this Ukraine controversy. And this reporting that my colleagues got, saying he was not willing to go out there and say, quote, "no quid pro quo" like Trump wanted him to is just another indication of that.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: You know, there's an irony here. That if Barr had said from the beginning, the Justice Department has to investigate this. We have to look at this as a criminal matter, they could have stopped all these congressional hearings. They could have said -- because, you know, that's -- law enforcement always goes first.
So in an effort to help the president by saying there's no law enforcement matter by, you know, declining, he set the stage for impeachment, which is a, you know, mixed blessing, to say the least.
BERMAN: Three's something biblical, actually, about this, right? Three times, William Barr denied the president on Ukraine. No. 1, denied to hold a public news conference. No. 2, denied Mick Mulvaney's assertations about, you know, the no quid pro quo in the Ukrainian investigation. And also, the Justice Department went out of its way, David Chalian, to separate itself from a meeting with Rudy Giuliani here. It really does seem that there is some attempted distance here that Barr is trying to place. And the question is why.
DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: There is attempted distance. There's no doubt.
And the flip side of what Jeffrey's saying, of course, is that the president -- I mean, the attorney general did shut down this criminal referral that came their way pretty quickly, which I take Jeffrey's point. Yes, move to impeachment.
But moving out of the legal and into the political, it's not entirely clear that that is a worse scenario for Donald Trump in the end.
CAMEROTA: Here's a little bit more of what Attorney General Barr did do and was willing to do, and this touches an everything you all are talking about, "Even without a news conference from the attorney general, the Justice Department gave the president nearly everything he wanted. In an orchestrated rollout alongside the release of a transcript of Trump's Ukraine call, the department publicly announced that criminal division prosecutors had found no wrongdoing by the president, at least as it related to campaign finance law. The department also released a legal memo on why the intelligence community's inspector general was not required to turn over a whistle- blower complaint to Congress."
So Jeffrey, they -- it wasn't like he completely washed his hands of this.
TOOBIN: No, he didn't. But, you know, remember. From the partial transcript of the president's call to the president of Ukraine that really is the core of this story, you have -- you have the president saying, talk to Barr. Barr is my guy. Barr is -- and -- and he was apparently, the president, lying about all of the Barr stuff.
And you can see that, you know, Barr, as zealous a supporter he has been of the president, might be a little offended by the idea that he was sort of dragged into this without his knowledge.
CAMEROTA: Well, I don't know that the president is lying as much as wishful thinking. He wanted Barr to handle this.
TOOBIN: Perhaps. I mean, that -- that is perhaps -- yes. Perhaps that is not exactly a lie.
CAMEROTA: All right.
TOOBIN: Not exactly the truth either. But that's OK.
BERMAN: We're at this key moment now in the impeachment proceedings where we're finishing up with the closed-door depositions; and next week starting on Wednesday, it all goes public for the world to see. And these are the three witnesses we're going to hear from next week: William Taylor, George Kent, and Marie Yovanovitch.
William Taylor will be the first witness, Rachael. And we've now seen the transcript of his closed-door deposition. And he says, of what he alleges was basically a shakedown by President Trump on the president of Ukraine, "That was my clear understanding. Security assistance money would not come until the president of Ukraine committed to pursue the investigation."
So he will testify that he saw evidence of the shakedown. And he'll also testify to something now the Republicans are calling into question, that he thought it was wrong. That he thought what he saw was wrong.
What's the significance of the moment when William Taylor goes public next week?
BADE: Yes, so Democrats are -- I mean, clearly, they're trying to start off with a bang. This is a witness who can connect all the dots and talk to all the various chapters of this saga. Not just Ukraine and its history with Russia in needing assistance from the United States and how that benefits America, in and of itself, but Giuliani's work behind the scenes with these sort of corrupt and shady figures that were in Ukraine and very questionable.
And then he, obviously, heard point blank from other people at the White House that the money was being withheld, military assistance to Ukraine, was being withheld specifically to try to leverage this investigation and make Ukraine do this probe of Trump's adversaries. So this is a person who can sort of start at the beginning and go connect the dots all the way through the end. I think it's going to be --
TOOBIN: The one thing he can't --
CAMEROTA: Is that he didn't hear directly from President Trump.
CAMEROTA: And that --
TOOBIN: You're going to hear that a lot.
CAMEROTA: Absolutely. We already hear it. That's already what Republicans have fastened on.
So here's P-103: "When Taylor says, 'I think the origin of the idea to get President Zelensky to say out loud that he's going to investigate Burisma and the 2016 election,' I think the originator, the person who came up with that was Mr. Giuliani."
And then the prosecutor -- the interviewer asks, "And he was representing whose interests?"
And Taylor says, "President Trump."
But again, they will say, David Chalian, that that's -- he's surmising.
CHALIAN: They will say that. But I also think you will see Democrats point out that it is Bill Taylor's testimony, the written statement that we already had in the public domain, that helped Sondland flip his story and actually admit about a quid pro quo.
So I do think that Democrats will push back that, while he didn't speak to Donald Trump directly, to suggest that Bill Taylor isn't able to connect some of the dots here, I think defies what Bill Taylor's testimony is.
CHALIAN: But this -- having him come up first is the classic lesson we all learn in journalism school, right? Lead with the lead. I mean, that -- they're putting forward the person they believe is their strongest witness to tell this story to the American people.
BADE: I also think it's --
CAMEROTA: It's important Sondland did talk to the president. So to your point.
CHALIAN: It's precisely my point. Yes, thank you.
BADE: Yes. I was just going to jump in and say I think it's important to keep in mind Republicans are very much going to be using this sort of line of attack of you didn't specifically hear quid pro quo from the president's lips. You heard this from other people who heard it from Sondland, who doesn't even know who told him that the military money was actually leveraged on this investigation.
But we should keep in mind that there were two potential quid pro quos here, and Sondland and others have testified that they have heard from the president's lips that they needed an investigation for this head of state meeting to actually occur with Ukraine. And this was something Ukraine really wanted.
So even though, you know, perhaps there was -- there's not going to be someone up there to say I heard directly from the president's lips that the military aid was linked to this investigation, people have testified, multiple people, that it came from the president's lips when it came to the head of state meeting.
TOOBIN: And overarching all of this is the issue of Rudy Giuliani. And if Rudy Giuliani is telling people to do something, who's telling Rudy Giuliani? Giuliani has said over and over again, I was the president's lawyer. That's the only purpose I had over there. So the idea that you can draw some meaningful distinction between Giuliani and Trump, I think, is a flawed concept.
BERMAN: And who told us that he was working on the president's behalf? Rudy Giuliani.
CAMEROTA: Rudy Giuliani.
BERMAN: In a tweet.
CHALIAN: Not lately. He's gone kind of quiet.
BERMAN: It wasn't just that we dress alike. We think alike also.
Jeffrey, Rudy Giuliani hired defense lawyers.
TOOBIN: He did. Wise choice.
BERMAN: Well, I think it is interesting. I mean, his name has actually gone under the radar for a couple of weeks, as other people have testified here. But now he's got this defense team. I think we're going to hear a lot about him starting next week in public.
TOOBIN: Absolutely. And -- you know, and I think it's important to -- to point out that Rudy Giuliani has not been accused of any crime so far. His two associates are under indictment for a crime where Rudy Giuliani is not charged. And he very well may never be charged with anything.
But if you look at the campaign finance issues around him, if you look at the Foreign Registration Act issues around him, it is certainly wise for him to get a lawyer. Especially since the Justice Department very publicly, as you pointed out earlier, said, we don't want to meet with him anymore, because he is the subject of a criminal investigation.
CAMEROTA: OK. Jeffrey, David, Rachael, thank you very much for all of your reporting.
So a twist for the 2020 race that could pit the president against his former attorney general, Jeff Sessions. What will win out? The president's desire to win that seat for Republicans? Or his animosity for Jeff Sessions? We explore.
CAMEROTA: After election losses this week in Kentucky and Virginia, how do Republicans see their chances in 2020?
Joining us now is David Frum. He's a senior editor at "The Atlantic" and former speech writer for President George W. Bush.
David, great to see you this morning.
DAVID FRUM, SENIOR EDITOR, "THE ATLANTIC": Thank you.
CAMEROTA: And as I understand from your latest piece, you see what happened in Kentucky as ominous for Republicans in 2020. And it's more than just the people who say they didn't vote for Governor Matt Bevin, because he was a jerk.
FRUM: Look at -- I think one of the most ominous races were the ones where nothing seemed to happen, the race in Mississippi. Mississippi must be one of the most conservative states in the union, if not the very most; one of the most pro-Trump states in the union, if not the very most.
In 2015, the governor's race, Republicans got 66 percent of the vote in Mississippi. This time, they got 53 percent. That's still a win. But it's an indication of a decline in Republican intensity. That's pretty ominous for the president.
CAMEROTA: And back to Kentucky for a second, because you saw the red flags --
CAMEROTA: -- primarily in the coal country counties in southeastern Kentucky. What was their message? FRUM: Well, I wrote about this for "The Atlantic" in 2017. That if
you look at that southeast corner of the state, that what you saw was the effect of Obamacare.
No state had a swifter decrease in un-insurance between 2012 and 2017 than Kentucky. Fifteen percent of Kentuckians lacked insurance before Obamacare went into effect. And they got that down to, if I remember right, about 5 or 6 percent.
And the biggest benefit was in the southeast corner of the state, Appalachia coal country, overwhelmingly white. These were areas where Rand Paul in 2016 got about 80 percent of the vote. But these are also areas where, between 15 and 20 percent of the people would lose coverage if Medicaid was repealed.
And that's what Governor Bevin attacked. That's what President Trump has been attacking nationwide: 1.7 million fewer Americans on Medicaid today than two years ago.
CAMEROTA: It's interesting, David. I mean, your interpretation seems clearer than some of the Republicans in Congress. If I can read to you some of the Senate Republicans and what they took away from election day losses.
Senator -- Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell from Kentucky: "I don't think that anything happened there Tuesday changes 2020."
Senator Shelly Moore-Capito: "Probably a wake-up call for us to find our way back to the suburban voter."
Senator John Thune: "We've got our work cut out for us, for sure, in some of those areas."
Senator Susan Collins: "I think this was an example of a very unpopular governor."
It goes on. So they -- they don't quite -- haven't quite lassoed the idea that this was about health care and President Trump's attack on Obamacare.
FRUM: Well, what senators say is not always what senators think. Though that -- TI think those things do register concern.
And if the problem is an unpopular governor, Republicans need to remember that in 2020, on the top of the ticket, they'll have a very unpopular president. Many of the -- that was the issue with Matt Bevin, is here was a governor who went out of his way to alienate suburban districts.
Remember Covington, the Covington boys from the Catholic school who got into that famous YouTube altercation?
FRUM: And President Trump made -- made a huge issue out of them, campaigned with the Covington boys? Almost every precinct in Covington voted Democrat.
CAMEROTA: Jeff Sessions, former attorney general and former senator, is reportedly going to announce today that he wants his Senate seat back.
CAMEROTA: Here is what President Trump has said of late about Jeff Sessions.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The attorney general made a terrible mistake.
Even my enemies say that Jeff Sessions should have told you that he was going to recuse himself. What kind of a man is this?
The only reason I gave him the job, because I felt loyalty.
I told you before, I'm very disappointed with the attorney general, but we will see what happens.
The attorney general says, I'm going to recuse myself.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: How's this going to go, David?
FRUM: Well, this turns the Republican -- the contest of the Republican nomination in Alabama into a blood bath. Because there will be -- Jeff Sessions is very popular but so is the president in Alabama among Republicans. So he takes -- he's elevating the president into a primary fight, something presidents normally stay far, far away from so they can embrace the winner, whoever it turns out to be. Should Jeff Sessions win, how does President Trump support him in the general election and who will believe it?
So what President Trump has just done is taken what should be one of the surest Republican wins in the Senate, Alabama, now held by a Democrat who won against an accused child molester, and put it into question for no good question.
And when Republicans are saying, well, we've got this for 2020. The Trump X-factor, he is such a factor for chaos. And even where Republicans should have it easy -- Alabama and Mississippi -- they now have it hard.
CAMEROTA: David Frum, thank you very much. Everyone should read David's latest article in "The Atlantic." Great to talk to you.
FRUM: Thank you.
CAMEROTA: John. BERMAN: All right. One of the president's longest political advisers, Roger Stone, is on trial in Washington. What we have learned about his interactions with then-candidate Trump the days that it became public that the DNC emails were hacked, and the two former Trump officials who will testify against Stone.
CAMEROTA: And you will also hear more from our voter panel. These are women in key swing districts who will play a big role in deciding the 2020 election.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: How many of you, if the election were held today, show of hands, would vote for President Trump?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: Their answers and how they see the Democratic field, next.
CAMEROTA: On Wednesday, we introduced you to a group of six voters from two key swing districts in Pennsylvania. These voters are an important demographic: white women without college degrees. All say they vote for the person, not the party. Three of them voted for Barack Obama and then Donald Trump.
So we wanted to know which candidates and issues interest them this time and how many plan to vote for President Trump. Here now is part two of our "Pulse of the People."
CAMEROTA: So show of hands. How many of you have at times voted for Republicans and at times Democrats? All of you.
How many of you voted for President Obama and then voted for President Trump? OK.
So Marian, explain how you were able to vote for both.
MARIAN TAYLOR, PENNSYLVANIA SWING VOTER: I voted for Trump, because he was not a politician. You get tired of the same old, same old from Washington, that -- and I really wanted someone that would make big changes.
GAYLYNN BLASKI, PENNSYLVANIA SWING VOTER: President Trump, he said he was going to take care of us and he was going to make sure we had more money in our paychecks and help us out. Because you go to work, you work hard, and you have nothing. And then there's people that don't even work that have more than I do.
CAMEROTA: Has your life economically, financially improved under President Trump? CRYSTAL ARLINGTON, PENNSYLVANIA SWING VOTER: I have -- I have a lot
more in my paycheck.
TAYLOR: I do have more in my paycheck as well.
ARLINGTON: My stock portfolio is doing great.
TAYLOR: That too.
ALISON GREEN, PENNSYLVANIA SWING VOTER: Maybe that's why I look at the economy different. I'm not where a lot of you are financially, I don't think. I'm pretty darn low income. My family has received Food Stamps personally.
CAMEROTA: What do you do for a living?
GREEN: I -- until recently, I worked at a grocery store. And now I am running a cafe.
CAMEROTA: Do you think that the economy is doing great?
GREEN: No. I think the economy for the upper middle class has gotten better, and that's great for them. But the economy hasn't gotten better for me.
CAMEROTA: Crystal, you voted in 1992 for Bill Clinton. You didn't vote again in an election until 2016. Is that right?
ARLINGTON: Donald Trump was running. And I said, finally, another businessman, and I got fired up.
CAMEROTA: Has he lived up to your expectations?
ARLINGTON: Absolutely. I think he can -- he's doing just fine. If he says, this is what I'm going to do at this time line, he does it.
CAMEROTA: Well, he hasn't built the wall. That was one of his main promises. So I mean, do you hold that promise against him?
ARLINGTON: No. Because isn't the whole wall part of getting the money from Congress, too? And isn't Congress stopping him from getting the money? I mean, where's the money going to come from? Is he just supposed to print it right there at the White House?
GREEN: Well, he did take some from the defense budget.
BLASKI: I think it's coming from Mexico was the campaign promise.
GREEN: I believe that's literally a quote.
CAMEROTA: How many of you, if the election were held today, show of hands, would vote for President Trump? OK. One of you would.
Lisa Marie, are you on the fence?
LISA MARIE HALECKY, PENNSYLVANIA SWING VOTER: I liked him in the beginning when he first came out. He was saying things like it is. Probably saying things like most of us think but don't want to say. But I'm also thinking he's gotten out of control.
ARLINGTON: That's just him. I mean, just -- watch him from the '80s on. He's just -- I mean, he used to go on the Oprah show and stuff. He's just always been so candid about, I can do that movie star or I can do this. He's just --
BLASKI: He's a reality star.
ARLINGTON: He's just Donald Trump.
CAMEROTA: You like that he's --?