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Historic Week As Public Impeachment Hearings Start Wednesday; New Revelations From Nikki Haley. Aired 2-2:30p ET
Aired November 11, 2019 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: You are watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin. Thank you for being here. For weeks now, congressional Republicans blasted this Impeachment Inquiry, demanding that those closed-door depositions be brought out into the open.
So starting this Wednesday, they will get their wish as three of those witnesses, all State Department employees will move from behind the scenes to center stage in the Inquiry's first public hearings.
So just a heads up for you, Wednesday, we will hear from Bill Taylor. He is the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine. He testified that it was his, quote "clear understanding" that the U.S. wouldn't give Ukraine military aid unless it announced an investigation into President Trump's political rivals.
That same day, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State George Kent, will also be up on Capitol Hill. Remember Kent told Congress that Rudy Giuliani launched, Kent's words, campaign of lies against former Ukraine Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch and Yovanovitch herself will appear on Friday. She testified that quote, "unfounded and false claims" led to her ouster, adding that Trump pressured the State Department to get rid of her.
So all of those hearings will take place as Republicans try to thread the needle in their defense of President Trump, but not his actions on Ukraine. Here is retiring Texas Congressman, Mac Thornberry.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. MAC THORNBERRY (R-TX): I believe that it is inappropriate for a President to ask a foreign leader to investigate a political rival. That leads to a question if there's a political rival with a family member who is involved in questionable activity, what do you do? Just let them alone, but set that aside, I believe it was inappropriate. I do not believe it was impeachable.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: Congressman Thornberry was probably pleased with his answer. The President, however, was not taking to Twitter to say this, "Republicans, don't be led into the fool's trap of saying it was not perfect, but is not impeachable. Nothing was done wrong." Kaitlan Collins is a CNN White House correspondent and Paul Callan is
a CNN legal analyst. So let's dive in, starting with the President's tweet. Now, obviously, you know, Republicans -- we've talked a lot about how Republicans are trying to figure out their strategy moving forward saying, all right, maybe -- maybe the call was -- but not impeachable. What do you think of the President tweeting there? And is that their best defense?
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, he is tweeting that and they're ignoring it, and that's the President and Republicans trying to figure out what their strategy is going to be here. And the President can say that to Republicans all day long.
But what we've heard repeatedly from these lawmakers is that when they get in front of the cameras, they want to have something more to say than just insisting that the call was perfect because a lot of them behind closed doors have been conceding that no, they don't think what he did was appropriate. They're just maintaining, they don't think that he should be impeached over it.
Now, that comes is they really have struggled to mount a defense, even though we're just days away from these public hearings, and so that's why you're seeing the discrepancy here.
But the President is telling them to say that because he truly thinks he didn't do anything wrong. He says, it's not a plan. He truly doesn't think that he messed up here or that anything he did was inappropriate.
BALDWIN: Yes. So that's the Republican side. Paul, what about Democrats? I mean, obviously, this is a massive, massive week for them. Their star witness out of the gate is Bill Taylor, who we've talked so much about in his -- all of his notes and notebooks and he has the proverbial receipts, right? How important is he for the Democrats and what is -- what's really on the line for them?
PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, I think he is very important for the Democrats and he is going to set the tone for the impeachment proceedings.
You know, if this starts out weak and unpersuasive for the Democrats, the public is going to lose interest.
BALDWIN: Just like that.
CALLAN: Yes, absolutely. They have the votes to impeach and they can impeach. But ultimately, he is only going to be removed from office if you can pick up at least another 12 or 13 senators, Republican senators, and that means you have to have a huge shift in public opinion against Trump. So this is really, really an important week for the Democrats.
BALDWIN: Let's just take a step back, obviously, in history and think about where we are. So this is for the third time in modern U.S. history the House has voted to do something like this, to begin a formal Impeachment Inquiry into the President. I'm just curious how much you think the public will be swayed by this
and you know, we'll get to this later, but you think of the millions who watched the Senate hearings for Watergate and are people going to stop and watch all of this?
COLLINS: That's why the White House is bracing for these because they know how effective public testimony on camera from these people who have impressive credentials can be. And that's really been their fear about these, especially Bill Taylor on Wednesday, because they've seen him as essentially maybe the most formidable, the person with the most damaging testimony.
But then Yovanovitch as well, the former Ukraine -- U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine, that's someone that the President has really zeroed in on behind closed doors, and they know that it's effective, and that's why you've seen this.
COLLINS: But also, they're going to have these people on camera talking about this, talking about the chaos, talking about how they didn't know who to listen to on what was going to be the policy in Ukraine.
A lot of it confirms what the White House has been denying saying that these things weren't true. It was from a whistleblower who they claim is bias. It's not full -- the full picture -- they won't be able to make that same defense, they don't think, once these people are on camera, and they don't have someone in the room from the White House.
They will have Republicans who are being aggressive. They want to have someone from their point of view, though, cross examining this person.
BALDWIN: Do you think this will be must see TV in the way that it was in the 70s?
CALLAN: I really don't know. I think that it's really going to depend on how Schiff conducts himself as the Chair and I say that because during Watergate, you had Sam Ervin, who portrayed myself as just a simple country lawyer and there was a sense of fairness that exuded from Sam Ervin, as the evidence was presented.
CALLAN: I suspect here, there is such a partisan split that I think we're going to just see a lot of speechmaking by both sides, much as we saw during the Kavanaugh confirmation hearing, and I think that turns the public off. I don't think they see fairness in that.
COLLINS: That's what's so interesting about the format of this hearing. It's not going to be what people are used to seeing, each lawmaker getting five minutes. It is going to be staff doing the questioning, and at the beginning, Adam Schiff is going to have 90 minutes and then Devin Nunes, the Ranking Republican is going to have 90 minutes for their staff to question these people. So it's going to look a lot different and so that'll be something
that's really interesting to see all of that.
CALLAN: If they pull that off and they make it ...
CALLAN: ... a fair presentation and compelling, it could be must see TV.
CALLAN: Of course, we will be watching it.
BALDWIN: Of course, we will and we'll be -- of course, you will all be watching us covering this. Let me -- let me pivot to what's happening this afternoon at five o'clock.
So this Federal judge will decide if Mick Mulvaney the Acting Chief of Staff can join a case that will decide whether the White House wins or Congress wins when it comes to subpoenas. Right? They want all these folks to talk for this Impeachment Inquiry.
Mulvaney is trying to join a lawsuit with the former Deputy National Security Adviser, so just -- will you just walk me through legally what is going on?
CALLAN: Well, the subpoenas that have been issued of White House personnel are being contested by the White House and they're claiming something, what they -- they're calling it Constitutional Immunity, that in no case, can you in Congress subpoena somebody who works for the President.
Now, most legal experts, I think, think that that's a ridiculous concept. I mean, there's executive privilege, there are limited kinds of privilege that might prevent a witness from testifying. But there's no such thing as a general constitutional privilege, but that's what's being asserted by the Trump administration, and we'll have to see how the courts rule on this.
BALDWIN: And this official working on this whole Impeachment Inquiry tells us that Trump's Chief of Staff, if he had nothing to hide, then he should be eager, right, to testify.
Does Mulvaney have a point when he says -- this is back to you on a legal piece -- does Mulvaney have a point when he says his jobs as Acting Chief of Staff and also over at OMB, put him in a unique role and could executive privilege actually apply to him?
CALLAN: You know, normally executive privilege would apply to him. He is Chief of Staff and executive privilege is there to protect the President with his confidential advisers and the Chief of Staff would fall into that category.
But Mulvaney has got one big problem.
BALDWIN: What's that?
CALLAN: He had that press conference when he said, get over it, this happens in politics all the time -- referring specifically to the Ukrainian situation. So lawyers have a term that's called waiver of the privilege that occurs when you openly talk about something that's confidential.
I think Mulvaney waived executive privilege, at least as far as the Ukraine issue goes and he doesn't have a leg to stand on with respect to that.
BALDWIN: Why -- thinking of Mulvaney joining this group lawsuit, why is John Bolton, his lawyer dangling this, you know, nugget of information or conversation that he is privy to that there hadn't you know, they haven't listened to up on Capitol Hill and all of this testimony, yet the lawyer is saying well, but we are -- you know, fighting the good fight in court? Why do that?
COLLINS: Well, it's notable because it's -- there's this delay tactic happening because they know that this court is not going to get to this ruling as fast as Democrats would like them to as they're trying to speed this up.
And so it's notable that his attorney is now saying, well, he was in all of these meetings that all pertain to this, that all of these lawmakers don't know about yet.
So essentially saying there's more there than you already know even from these witnesses you've spoken with --
BALDWIN: But we're not going to tell you yet.
COLLINS: But you need to get to someone closer. Yes, it's really notable, but it's also notable that Mulvaney is part of this lawsuit and he is trying to side essentially, piggyback with John Bolton and the former Deputy National Security adviser, Charlie Kupperman, because John Bolton and Mulvaney were barely on speaking terms when Bolton left over the aid.
This had a lot to do with it because Bolton wanted the aid released, Mulvaney was pushing back against it. So it's really notable --
BALDWIN: And so Mulvaney trying to get in on what Kupperman and Bolton are doing.
COLLINS: Mulvaney is using a private attorney here not the White House counsel who say they've blessed this. But it's notable because just a few weeks ago, he said he didn't feel like he needed an attorney.
BALDWIN: Okay, actually, let me get to you on what's happened with tax returns. So before I let you go today, a Federal judge decided that Trump cannot sue New York State officials in the Washington, D.C. court room. This was an attempt by Trump to stop the release of his tax returns.
What happens now? And could they just file a suit, just in another court?
CALLAN: Well, they certainly can try to do that, to file it in another court. But I think he's on very weak ground, the President with respect to the tax returns because they're being sought in connection with a grand jury investigation in New York's criminal investigation and the courts generally say, in a criminal case, the grand jury has the right to information. It's not like a congressional committee or something else.
So I think in the end, the tax will -- we may finally -- while we won't just get to see them because grand jury proceedings are secret, so unless they are leaked, the grand jury will see them though.
BALDWIN: Okay, Paul and Kaitlan thank you very much.
New revelations today from Nikki Haley. She says President Trump's top aides tried to get her to undermine the President. What her new book reveals about potentially her next moves.
And a CNN investigation into Rudy Giuliani's globetrotting. Was he acting as a shadow Secretary of State? You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin. We'll be right back.
BALDWIN: Some pretty remarkable revelations from former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley today. "The Washington Post" reports that her upcoming memoir, Haley says former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and former White House Chief of Staff John Kelly attempted to recruit her to undermine President Trump.
In an early copy of this book obtained by "The Post," she writes, quote, "Kelly and Tillerson confided in me that when they resisted the President, they weren't being insubordinate, they were trying to save the country. It was their decisions, not the President's that were in the best interest of America they said. The President didn't know what he was doing."
Haley said Tillerson also warned that people would die if Trump went unchecked.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NORAH O'DONNELL, CBS HOST: You memorialized that conversation? It definitely happened.
NIKKI HALEY, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: It absolutely happened. And instead of saying that to me, they should have been saying that to the President, not asking me to join them on their sidebar plan. It should have been, go tell the President what your differences are and quit if you don't like what he is doing. But to undermine a President is really a very dangerous thing, and it
goes against the Constitution and it goes against what the American people want and that was -- it was offensive.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: By the way, Tillerson did not give a comment to the post. As for Kelly, according to the paper, he declined to comment in detail, but did say that if providing the President quote " ... with the best and most open legal and ethical staffing advice from across the government, so he could make an informed decision is working against Trump, then guilty as charged."
Ron Elving is the Washington desk senior editor and correspondent for NPR. He has read an advanced copy of the book, and also with us is Abby Phillip, our CNN political correspondent.
And so Abby, let me just first turn to you and why -- what is she up to? Why is she writing this book right now?
ABBY PHILLIP, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: She has been known for a long time to be a really savvy political operator, and this is just another example of that where Nikki Haley has done what seems to be impossible.
She has managed to kind of exert some degree of independence while she was a Cabinet Secretary in Trump's administration.
BALDWIN: Even be critical of him at times.
PHILLIP: Even being willing to be somewhat critical of him at times. But she left in relatively good graces. She has now written this book that has really actually put her firmly into a pro-Trump camp by exposing some of the President's top aides who were working behind the scenes essentially to undermine him and she got a presidential tweet for it.
The President endorsed her book, said that everybody should go out and buy it and go on her tour, and this is essentially what Nikki Haley needs in order to survive in the Trump Republican Party.
She knows that she has a long political future ahead. She cannot do that without being on Trump's side and she has really solidified her place by doing this. It's extraordinary in this book.
BALDWIN: To piggyback off of your point, Ron, when you wrote about your reading this book and you wrote this, "With varying degrees of subtlety, Haley implies that her loyalty is less to Trump the man than to the voters who made him President." Why do you say that? How does she make that point?
RON ELVING, WASHINGTON DESK SENIOR EDITOR AND CORRESPONDENT FOR NPR: She makes that point by talking about her hometown of Bamberg, South Carolina, where her parents moved as immigrants from India in 1969, and she was born there. She makes it clear that she understands the people of Bamberg, a town
of about 2,500 at that time, and the real Americans is what she calls them. People who have been forgotten by Washington and New York and Los Angeles and the media, and people who had been left behind, which is rhetoric we heard from President Trump when he was running for President in 2016.
And to some degree, reminiscent of another figure from the populist Republican ranks, Sarah Palin, who in 2010 endorsed Nikki Haley as a candidate at that time, a trailing candidate for Governor in South Carolina in the primary, and she leapt to the front of the pack and was nominated by the Republican Party and elected.
ELVING: So Sarah Palin doesn't come up in the book, but there is a legacy there.
BALDWIN: Let me just stay with you because she also claims that she was honest with the President when she said things that you know, he said things that she didn't agree with, and specifically, she is referring to what happened in Charlottesville and she is drawing upon her own personal experience with what happened in the Charleston Church and also with regard to what he said in Helsinki, can you Ron, walk us through those points?
ELVING: She makes it clear that she spoke to the President disapprovingly after his first round of reaction to the Charlottesville riot and to the death there of a protester.
And, and this was something that she did not feel good about because, of course, she had come to national attention for taking down the Confederate flag in the State Capitol there in South Carolina after the shooting at the Mother Emanuel AME Church there in 2015, nine people were shot dead.
And she really had her finest hour in the public eye in all of that and was seen as quite a heroic figure for a time. So she went right at the President.
He then altered his rhetoric for a time, but as she also points out, he went back to the original rhetoric and with respect to the Putin meeting in Helsinki, she says what basically everyone was saying that the President shouldn't have seen so subservient to the Russian leader.
BALDWIN: So still, as you point out, Abby, he -- the President -- tweets this endorsement of Nikki Haley and her book, why do you think he holds her in such good graces A, and B, what are the chances for a Trump-Haley ticket in 2020?
PHILLIP: I think this is a one of those mutually beneficial relationships. The President understands that by keeping Nikki Haley close, he has access to a certain part of the Republican Party who thought that she was at the time the biggest rising star and perhaps she still is. But Nikki Haley is a young conservative woman, a minority. The
President needs more of those allies and he knows it. And I think that's one of the main reasons why he keeps her close.
He keeps everyone -- you know, it would only take Nikki Haley saying a bad thing about President Trump publicly for him to decide to turn on her, but she has not done that, and so he has really tried to maintain that relationship. Do I think that somehow Mike Pence is going to go away and Nikki Haley is actually going to replace him? Probably not.
Mike Pence has also been a really loyal soldier to President Trump. He is really critically important when it comes to evangelical voters, which is such a huge part of his political constituency.
And I don't think that there's really -- unless something dramatically changes -- anything is really going to change that. But I think even the President acknowledges Nikki Haley is a sort of figure of the future of a Republican Party that he wants to keep close to him.
We were just talking about Bamberg and the Confederate flag. I was down in South Carolina when Nikki Haley decided to do that. She is very used to kind of balancing on this very narrow political line in a very conservative state of South Carolina. The interest of moving the party forward in certain ways, the balancing, the needs of a very conservative, very Republican state, and that's exactly what she is doing right now on the national stage with Donald Trump.
BALDWIN: So maybe, maybe not 2020, but perhaps 2024. We'll continue the conversation. Ron and Abby, thank you both so much.
A CNN investigation reveals new details today about Rudy Giuliani's role in the whole Ukraine scandal, what we've learned about Giuliani acting as this shadow Secretary of State and sometimes against U.S. policy.
And the teenage survivor of that deadly ambush in Mexico is speaking out. His father and so many others hailing him as a hero.
BALDWIN: As the public hearings are about to begin in this Impeachment Inquiry, the President's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani is coming under scrutiny even more.
A CNN investigation reveals that Giuliani at times acted as the shadow Secretary of State. In fact, Giuliani's actions sometimes went against official U.S. policy.
CNN senior investigative correspondent, Drew Griffin reports.
DREW GRIFFING, CNN SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT (voice over): When Brazil's President attended the U.N. General Assembly in late September, he was recovering from surgery, only on the ground for 30 hours. He reportedly didn't meet with any heads of state. He did, however, meet with Rudy Giuliani.
It's a prime example of how Giuliani's position as President Trump's pro bono lawyer has given him unprecedented access to foreign leaders and how those leaders treat him as a representative of the President.
A CNN review finds Giuliani has met or communicated with top government officials of at least seven countries since becoming Trump's attorney. His actions so troubling sources inside the U.S. State Department tell CNN they tracked Giuliani's comments, which sometimes contradict U.S. policy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There are those in the State Department and the professional U.S. national security apparatus, who view Giuliani as a shadow Secretary of State.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRIFFIN (voice over): Giuliani left public office as New York's Mayor back in 2001. Since then, he has made millions in speaking fees and security and safety consulting contracts all over the globe.