Return to Transcripts main page


Public Hearings in Trump Impeachment Inquiry Begin This Week; Nikki Haley Claims Tillerson, Kelly Tried to Recruit Her to 'Save the Country'; Giuliani Associate Says He Gave Demand for Biden Inquiry to Ukrainians. Aired 6-6:30a ET

Aired November 11, 2019 - 06:00   ET



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Several administration officials slated to head to Capitol Hill this week for public televised hearings.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Republicans have been demanding that the public be able to judge for itself.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is inappropriate. I do not believe it was impeachable.

DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: Former Vice President Biden takes questions from voters in a CNN town hall, live from Iowa.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Joe Biden faces the threat of a new challenger, Michael Bloomberg.

JOE BIDEN (D-MN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I have no problem with him getting in the race.

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I like Mayor Pete, but of the women on the stage, do I think that we would be standing on that stage if we had the experience that he had? No, I don't.


ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is NEW DAY. It is Monday, November 11. Here in New York, and we are honoring our veterans today. We'll have an important segment coming up about all of that.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Excellent. Always important to do it every day, but obviously, today, extra special.

CAMEROTA: All right. And we begin with what is the most consequential week thus far in the impeachment inquiry. Televised public hearings will begin on Wednesday with these three key State Department officials set to testify. Their testimony will be make-or- break for Democrats who are trying to make the case that President Trump abused his power by attempting to coerce Ukraine into investigating the Bidens.

Meanwhile, the president's Republican allies are pushing for their own set of witnesses.

BERMAN: As of now, two key White House figures will not testify: acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and former national security advisor John Bolton. But later today, a judge will hear arguments on a last-minute effort from Mulvaney to determine whether he has to show up.

Witness after witness has alleged that Mulvaney was a key broker pushing for Ukraine to push an investigation that could benefit the president politically.

Also new this morning, reports that one of the men who worked for Rudy Giuliani, one of the men under indictment, traveled to Ukraine in May with an ultimatum to investigate the Bidens, and he is prepared to tell the story to investigators. Is this a full flip?

Let's start with CNN's Suzanne Malveaux, live this morning on Capitol Hill, where they're making the final preparations for these historic impeachment hearings -- Suzanne.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: John, it's really quiet right now but not for long. This is really a dramatic shift in the impeachment inquiry as it goes public this week. You have many, many Democrats who are hoping that the evidence and the witnesses that they bring forward will convince the American people to impeach and remove the president from office.

And then you have Republican lawmakers telling us, trying on, if you will, various defense strategies for the president.


MALVEAUX (voice-over): In just two days, the House's impeachment inquiry is going public, starting off Wednesday with televised testimonies from top diplomat to Ukraine Bill Taylor and deputy assistant secretary of state George Kent.

On Friday, former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, will testify.

The high-stakes hearings bringing some of the nearly 2,700 pages of impeachment testimony released so far to life, highlighting allegations President Trump withheld military aid to Ukraine for political gain.

REP. DEBBIE DINGELL (D-MI): The American people need to understand what the issues are to get the facts, and we need to bring them along.

MALVEAUX: The president warning his Republican colleagues not to give an inch, tweeting, "The July 25 phone call to the Ukrainian president was perfect. Republicans, don't be led into the fool's trap of saying it was not perfect but is not impeachable."

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There shouldn't be anything. There shouldn't be impeachment hearings.

MALVEAUX: The tweet coming after this defense from one House Republican.

REP. MAC THORNBERRY (R-TX): I believe that it is inappropriate for a president to ask a foreign leader to investigate a political rival. I do not believe it was impeachable.

MALVEAUX: Other GOP Trump allies already following the president's advice, previewing their strategy for impeachment hearings.

SEN. JOHN KENNEDY (R-LA): The quid pro quo, in my judgment, is a red herring.

SEN. RAND PAUL (R-KY): There's always contingencies on aid.

MALVEAUX: Democrats disagree.

REP. JACKIE SPEIER (D-CA): This is a simple, straightforward act. The president broke the law. This is a very strong case of bribery.

MALVEAUX: As House investigators fill in the schedule for the impeachment inquiry, Republican congressman and House intel ranking people Devin Nunes also submitting a wish list of witnesses on behalf of the GOP, including Vice President Joe Biden's son Hunter and the anonymous whistle-blower.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): So if they don't call the whistle-blower in the House, this thing is dead on arrival in the Senate.

MALVEAUX: House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff rejecting that request, saying the whistle-blower will not be testifying, writing, "The inquiry will not serve as a vehicle to undertake the same sham investigations that the president pressed Ukraine to conduct for his own political benefit."

REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D-CA): We don't want to revisit conspiracy theories. If people have relevant information to this investigation and the president's conduct, of course we want to hear from them.


MALVEAUX: So while the impeachment hearings get underway, President Trump is now planning events at the same time, counterprogram, if you will.

So Tuesday, he says he's going to release a transcript of a second phone call with the Ukrainian president, which he says exonerates him.

And then Wednesday, he is holding a joint press conference with the leader of Turkey at the White House. A very controversial visit, as you know, because of the Turkey move against the Kurds after the U.S. withdrew in Syria. That, John, is going to happen at the same time that you have two key

witnesses giving public testimony. So obviously, trying to compete for Americans' attention -- John.

BERMAN: Trying. Public impeachment hearings are historic, no matter what the president does to try to take the attention away, Suzanne.

New allegations this morning from former ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley. She says two top administration officials tried to recruit her to undermine the president.


Who are they? What did they want? And what does it say about the chaos inside the White House? That's next.


CAMEROTA: In her new book, Nikki Haley details efforts within the Trump administration officials to undermine President Trump. Haley writes that former chief of staff John Kelly and former secretary of state Rex Tillerson, quote, "confided in me that when they resisted the president, they were not being insubordinate, they were trying to save the country. It was their decisions, not the president's, that were in the best interests of America, they said. The president did not know what he was doing."

Joining us now to talk about all of this, we have Rachael Bade, congressional reporter at "The Washington Post" and a CNN political analyst; and Jeremy Diamond, CNN White House correspondent. Great to have you both.

So Nikki Haley is coming out with a book, Jeremy. And this is -- she's basically saying that there were these different factions. And it sounds like -- I mean, why is she throwing so much shade at Rex Tillerson and John Kelly? What's the move here?

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: I think it's evident when you see the reaction from the president. The president tweeting last night that everybody should go out and buy Nikki Haley's book. And clearly, this was what she wanted to publicly position herself as, as she tries to sell this book and as she tries to position herself as kind of a future star of the Republican Party.

We have known for months through our reporting, through other people's reporting that there were these efforts by Rex Tillerson, by John Kelly, by the former defense secretary, Jim Mattis, to undermine the president, to just ignore some of his orders sometimes. We've reported on numerous instances of that.

It's obviously interesting to hear it from a former U.N. ambassador, former cabinet-level official. But it's also interesting that she is positioning herself as the person who did not join those efforts.

BERMAN: I think the big picture here is you take this in conjunction with this book from Anonymous, "A Warning," which paints this picture as the president as a 12-year-old in an air=traffic control tower. And you have these officials now saying it was chaotic and there were people trying to babysit the president. Nikki Haley admits to it.

And John Kelly, in his reaction to the Nikki Haley book, which is not a denial, also confirms it. Let me read that, Rachael. "Tillerson did not respond to a request for a request for comment, but Kelly declined to comment in detail, but he did say that, if providing the president with the best and most open, legal and ethical staffing advice from across the government so he can make an informed decision is working against the president, then guilty as charged."

In other words, you're damn right I did. We were all working to keep the country safe.

RACHAEL BADE, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. And let's remember, that's one of the reasons why Republicans on the Hill really liked John Kelly. And they were really upset when he left and nervous.

I mean, this is somebody that they thought would speak frankly to the president. They know he did, and that, obviously, put him at odds with a lot of Trump allies and eventually Trump himself.

But this sort of gets to this whole debate that we're seeing in the Republican Party when it comes to Trump. Trump has liked to surround himself with yes-men and people who, once he tells them to do something, don't really question his judgment and push back on that. Kelly was not one of those.

And so, you know, Nikki Haley is now trying to paint that as, look., this is a guy who was trying to undermine the president, suggesting that perhaps it wasn't even patriotic and was maybe -- she hasn't used the word treasonous, but what she's saying is that they were trying to undermine the president.

But you have to have these sort of people who have this expertise. And if they have some sort of knowledge about a topic, and they're not speaking their minds, I mean, are they really doing their duty there, too?

I do think it's really interesting, this book. Clearly, she is looking at the future. She's looking at running for something. Perhaps even president some day. And the way she wants to do this right now is to tie herself to Trump. We'll see if that works in five, ten years when the Republican Party perhaps has changed.

CAMEROTA: I mean, one man's undermining is another man's guardrails. And that's the distinction. Here's how Nikki Haley explained it herself on CBS yesterday.


NIKKI HALEY, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO U.N.: It should have been go tell the president what your differences are and quit if you don't like what he's 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 it was -- it was offensive.


CAMEROTA: I mean, look, we know from lots of Jeremy reporting and people who were in the administration talking that they felt that they couldn't quit, because they were the safeguards, they felt, trying to keep the train on the track.

DIAMOND: And frankly, this is why you saw John Kelly recently say, in an interview on stage, that essentially, he warned the president, if you hire a yes-man after me as chief of staff, you will be impeached. And that was obviously a suggestion that Mick Mulvaney, who by all accounts and by our reporting, as well, is some -- somewhat of a yes- man, in the sense that he does not push back on the president's demands day-to-day. He sees himself very much in the "let Trump be Trump" vein. You'll remember that from Corey Lewandowski back in the 2016 campaign, right?

And so this is kind of the concern. And there are fewer guardrails at the White House today. There are fewer Jim Mattises, Rex Tillersons, John Kellys. And that is why you see the way that the president conducts himself in foreign policy in particular, I think, with this abrupt Syria withdrawal.

These were decisions that past top advisers tried to prevent.

BERMAN: I'm sure Mike Pence is enjoying reading the Nikki Haley book this morning and the praise that the president's heaping on it. But that's a discussion for another time.

Stand by, friends, because with two days to go until the public impeachment hearings, Republicans doing everything they can to muddy the case against the president. We'll tell you the latest lines of defense. That's next.



BERMAN: Politico calls it a monumental week. This is just the third time in the nation's history we've had public, televised impeachment hearings. Because you know, Andrew Johnson, they didn't have TV back then.

CAMEROTA: They didn't?

BERMAN: No, I'm telling you.

CAMEROTA: All right. No, you know a lot about this.

BERMAN: Three key witnesses this week will appear before Congress. You can see right there. William Taylor, the first to testify on Wednesday.

Back with us, Jeremy Diamond and Rachael Bade.

Rachael, you've done reporting on what both sides are doing to prepare for this. What do you see?

BADE: So Democrats, they want to make sure that this is going to be a hearing that people remember, that it stands out in their minds and really will bring these sort of 2,000 pages worth of transcripts to life for Americans who are not sort of as in the weeds as we are.

If you remember back to the Robert Mueller hearing, a lot of Democrats thought that would be a big moment for impeachment with Mueller talking about his findings on obstruction of justice. Well, it really tanked.

And so there's a lot of pressure building up on these hearings this week. They want to make sure they can convey to the American people what it is that they think is impeachable here.

Republicans, they already are employing the strategy of trying to sort of change the conversation and focus on Joe Biden and trying to say that the president had a reason to tell Ukraine that he needed these investigations done before he handed over aid. Basically, that Joe Biden was -- his son Hunter was doing something untoward and that they should be investigating this.

So they released their witness list that they wanted to see over the weekend. That included Joe -- Joe Biden's son Hunter, one of his business associates, and several other people that they think can sort of make this argument that Ukraine was, in somehow, meddling in the 2016 election, which has been debunked, by the way.

But that just shows you they're going to try to change the topic. And that's their No. 1 strategy.

CAMEROTA: Yes, I know. That strategy is a little bit confusing in terms of going back to relitigate 2016, Jeremy, because they want -- so the 2016. The idea that they're -- they want to relitigate 2016, I thought that the Republicans were the ones who said, stop telling us that things in 2016 election were illegitimate. But now, they actually want to call witnesses that might have been somehow meddling in 2016?

DIAMOND: The president's own former homeland security advisor, Tom Bossert, has said that this Ukraine 2016 meddling thing is a completely debunked conspiracy theory. And he said that he has said that at the White House when he used to work there.

So the fact this is kind of the strategy they're pursuing is interesting. Of course, all of this is because they're trying to distract from the mounting allegations.

All this is happening after weeks of testimony, during which you have seen multiple current administration officials, not just former officials, but these are like current State Department officials, current officials who work at the National Security Council at the White House say, essentially, this was not just about one phone call. This was about a whole government's effort to pressure Ukraine to carry out these investigations.

And so Republicans want to stray as far away from that as possible. We're seeing the president doing the same.

BERMAN: So there's a story in "The New York Times" this morning, which I find very interesting, and it has to do with Lev Parnas, who's one of these characters who worked with Rudy Giuliani, who is now under indictment for funneling money into the election.

He apparently is ready to flip and sing. Let me read you what "The Times" is reporting this morning.

"This associate, Lev Parnas, told a representative of the incoming government" -- the Ukrainian government -- "that it had to announce an investigation into Mr. Trump's political rival, Joe Biden, and his son or Vice President Mike Pence would not attend the swearing in of the new president, and the United States would freeze aid, the lawyer said."

The two significant things here is No. 1, you have this guy saying there was an ultimatum. You know, I'm going to shake you down to get something I want. Now, it's not the military aid or it's not the meeting with the president. It's a different quid pro quo. It's Mike Pence. But I think the bigger picture here, Jeremy, is this guy wants to talk.

DIAMOND: Yes. Absolutely. And it's also an important reminder, aside from these impeachment hearings, there is still this case in the Southern District of New York that is investigating not only Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman but also Rudy Giuliani, the president's personal attorney.

So as we see these impeachment hearings this week, it's important to remember that that's still going on.

Look, I think it is important to note, though, that none of the other participants in the meeting have so far confirmed that. The Ukrainian official who was in the meeting has not confirmed -- has said that there was no discussion of security aid in the meeting. But not on the Mike Pence front. And so that --

BERMAN: Their denials are very carefully worded. They don't deny there was a meeting. Right? They denied that military aid was discussed. But that's not the subject of "The New York Times."

DIAMOND: And we know -- and we know that Mike Pence was initially slated to attend this inauguration. We know that in his stead, the energy secretary, Rick Perry, was sent instead. We don't know the reason for why, and officials have told us that, look, plans change very frequently with these kinds of trips.

But again, another interesting allegation to kind of add to the entire story line.

CAMEROTA: Rudy Giuliani denies this --

BADE: And just --

CAMEROTA: Just one second, Rachael. Rudy Giuliani denies this version of the story, and I believe we have his denial. So here it is. Please.

BERMAN: "Categorically, I did not tell him to say that."

CAMEROTA: There you go.

BADE: How many times has Rudy Giuliani changed his story before? I mean, we'll see how long that holds.

No, I think there's an interesting back story here with this whole "New York Times" piece. So last week, Republicans were talking about a strategy if they didn't go after Hunter Biden, and if they didn't try to, you know, justify what Trump was doing and trying to demand this information of what happened into 2016, another strategy they have talked about is just throwing people under the bus. And that includes Rudy Giuliani. That includes Gordon Sondland and Mick Mulvaney, saying they orchestrated this whole thing without notice of the president or without direction from the president.

And I wrote a story about that, and literally within hours of that story, I got an email from the lawyer for Parnas. And this is what he said. "This is not a good strategy, because you need actors to play a fall guy, and Parnas is not going to be auditioning for that role."


So clearly, you know, there really is a split between this guy and the person he had worked for for months, Giuliani. And so we'll just have to see, do Democrats actually try to get information from him?

He is not a perfect witness. Obviously, he's been charged with trying to get people abroad to meddle in the U.S. election; trying to bring foreign money into our own electoral system. So he's not a perfect witness, but he actually could know things that they don't right now.

CAMEROTA: Things are getting curiouser and curiouser. Rachel, thank you very much.

Jeremy, thank you.

Now to this big story. Protests are erupted on the streets of Hong Kong overnight after a demonstrator was shot by police. So we'll bring you a live report from the ground next.