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Tillerson Pushes Back at Haley's Claims; Gates Expected to Testify; Impeachment Inquiry Starts Tomorrow. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired November 12, 2019 - 08:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[08:30:00]

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: President. Tillerson has pushed back with a new statement. He says, quote, at no time did I, nor to my direct knowledge did anyone else serving along with me, take any actions to undermine the president. Ambassador Haley was rarely a participant in my many meetings and is not in a position to know what I may or may not have said to the president.

Joining us now is Ian Bremmer, president and found -- he's president himself and founder of the Eurasia Group and GZERO Media.

Ian, I know, on the one hand, people look at this and say, wow, Nikki Haley positioning herself for the future. That's interesting. I continue, though, to think the underlying theme of all this is fascinate, which is that Nikki Haley is saying there were senior Trump administration officials, including the secretary of state, who thought the president was a threat to America. And neither Tillerson nor Kelly are denying that. And if you put that in conjunction with the anonymous book, all these quotes about that, you know, that's a statement.

IAN BREMMER, PRESIDENT, EURASIA GROUP: I remember the first time this came up was back when Gary Cohn, right, was concerned that Trump was going to try to break the U.S./South Korea trade deal. And he ordered, you know, sort of a briefing put together and Cohn basically said, I'm just not going to put that on the president's desk. I'm going to take that away.

Now, you could argue that's insubordination. You could also argue that that is a -- someone who is trying to advise the president best for the country and protect him and the team as a whole. I mean, you know, this is a gray area. And I -- when I see Tillerson and Kelly and Nikki Haley arguing about this, I see a lot of public positioning. I don't see a lot of real substantive disagreement. In other words, do I really believe that they came to Nikki and saying, we're prepared, you know, to get rid of this president.

We're going to do everything. We're going to save the country. And she said, oh, no, I couldn't possibly do that? No, I don't believe that. I think that you had them making arguments about what they did and didn't want to present directly to the president and I think leaders do that all the time. It's gotten much more extreme because there are lot of folks around this president who fully recognize that he doesn't have the background or the time or the inclination or the attention span to actually get up to speed on policies that we need to run this country. And I think they're all, you know, trying to expose, justify that they did the best they possibly could.

Former Secretary of Defense Mattis doing the same thing, right? All with slightly different spins, but fundamentally telling, in my view, the same story.

HILL: Telling the same story also, you know, to your point, somewhat protecting themselves, but it also begs the question of, of the why now and the what. There is so much speculation about, oh, this is all -- let's look ahead to 2024. Let's see what's next for Nikki Haley. It's fascinating, though, to see it laid out in this way and it makes you question who the real audience is. Is it readers? Is it perhaps the president? Is she trying to send a message to President Trump do you think at all?

BREMMER: Well, no one's the villain of their own narrative. And Nikki Haley, of all of the people that have served in the Trump administration, is the one in my view that has positioned herself best for the future. And, let's be very clear, she wants and expects one.

When she was in office, she was very careful to say good things about the president. But also as someone without foreign policy experience, I'll tell you, my friend, Antonio Guterres, secretary-general of the U.N., would -- wasn't necessarily expecting that he'd get along well with her, got along very well with her. All of these ambassadors of European countries to the U.N., who have no love for President Trump, said that she worked very hard, she got up to speed, she was capable, she was competent and she was a direct line into the president, which the president, ambassador of the U.N. from the U.S., certainly is not.

So, I mean, not only was she able to build a network that she didn't have before, but she's also managed to very savvily (ph) continue to say, I'm the president's person. And there's no question here that her first and foremost audience is making sure that Trump doesn't spike her. And she's done that exceedingly well.

BERMAN: It is interesting, though, all of this discussion has to do with a previous era in the Trump administration, which John Kelly was there, when Rex Tillerson was there, when Nikki Haley was there.

BREMMER: Right.

BERMAN: They're all gone.

BREMMER: They're all gone.

BERMAN: And when you take the anonymous book, which covers a period past that, this anonymous senior Trump administration official says that Mick Mulvaney is just a yes man. And in -- it is in this period that the president committed actions on this phone call with Ukraine that will likely get him impeached.

BREMMER: And Pompeo is also more of that, more -- much more of a facilitator than Mattis and Tillerson were. I mean Pompeo certainly understands the policies, but ultimately he's going to salute up the flag pole, right? And in that environment, Trump is much more capable of damaging himself.

BERMAN: Which he has done again.

BREMMER: Which he has done.

BERMAN: You know, Pompeo and Mick Mulvaney under the watch of Pompeo and Mulvaney, the president has committed actions that will likely get him impeached.

BREMMER: Yes. And certainly Trump doesn't like that. He opposes the impeachment where he talks about all the time. Even says we should impeach like senators, which of course, doesn't exist.

But given the fact that he's going to be impeached but almost certainly not convicted, you could make the argument that this new team is more of what Trump is happy with.

[08:35:06]

And that if we're coming into 2020 with a fail -- an ultimately failed impeachment and Trump feels emboldened and empowered to play however he wants in the run-up to these elections, you're going to be hard pressed to make the true Trump supporters say that what he did was fundamentally wrong.

BERMAN: Can I ask a question about something completely different here, which you weighed in on Twitter, and I think it's an important point that we don't make nearly enough. This has to do with the president going to the National's baseball game, getting booed there.

BREMMER: Sure.

BERMAN: Then he went to the LSU/Alabama football game and he got cheered.

And there were people on Twitter -- you posed both. I guess you thought both were interesting.

BREMMER: I did post both. Yes.

BERMAN: But there were people on Twitter who were saying about the LSU/Alabama game, this is the real America is how they said it at that LSU/Alabama football game that was cheering the president.

BREMMER: Yes.

BERMAN: And you think that there's a problem with that kind of framing.

BREMMER: I do. I mean, there's no question that in my mind -- I mean I -- my grandmother emigrated, Ellis Island, to a country where everyone was a real American. Everyone that got to this great country was a real American. And I think that part of the problem we have in our politics today is this decision that if you're not with us politically, you're not somehow real American. That Washingtonians are not real Americans. You know, New Yorkers are not real Americans. My God, I mean I came here precisely because this is where the American dream really happens, right? People from all over the country trying to make it in New York City.

I do believe that Alabama, Tuscaloosa, is sort of the forgotten America. I mean, you know, they're down 46, 47, 50 on things like poverty and opioid addiction and literacy rates. And we need to do a lot more to make them feel like they are part.

But saying that you're real Americans and other people aren't isn't the way to do that. You know, it's more to try to bring them in and have one dialogue.

And the reaction that I saw from everyone, I saw the mainstream media only talking about how Trump was booed and no one bothering to show the cheers. And then I saw supporters saying, oh, no, these are real Americans and those people that are booing Trump somehow don't express patriotism when patriotism is all about, in this country, being able to express your honest to God opinion. It's other countries that don't have that.

BERMAN: And it reminded me when Sarah Palin was traveling and said, I'm in the American part of America here.

BREMMER: Yes.

BERMAN: No, this is all the United States of America.

BREMMER: I find that deeply offensive. I find that deeply offensive. I really do.

BERMAN: Ian Bremmer, thanks for coming on this morning.

BREMMER: Good to see you guys.

BERMAN: Appreciate it.

HILL: We are less than an hour away now from more testimony in the Roger Stone trial. What the next witnesses could say about the 2016 campaign and the president. That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[08:42:24]

HILL: The trial of longtime Trump confidant Roger Stone resumes this morning in Washington. Stone is accused of lying to Congress, obstruction and witness tampering to thwart the Russia probe in 2017. Jurors are expected to hear this week from former Trump campaign deputy Rick Gates.

Shimon Prokupecz is live outside U.S. District Court in Washington.

Shimon, good morning. SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Good morning,

Erica.

That's right, Rick Gates, the next big witness here for prosecutors. And that could happen as soon as this morning. There is a possibility that he could be the first witness up for the prosecution.

It's going to be a big day because Rick Gates is really going to be testifying all about the campaign. The reach out from the campaign to Roger Stone, who is arriving in court as I'm speaking right now. Rick Gates is going to talk about the communications that he had with Roger Stone about WikiLeaks. About Roger Stone's claims that he had information ahead of time of what WikiLeaks was going to be putting out there and how the president, then candidate Donald Trump, knew about this, had conversations with people in the campaign about it, in anticipation of the release, about how happy the campaign was, when the release came out, issues surrounding the release and how the campaign was trying to build a strategy, a media strategy surrounding the release of the hacked emails.

So it's going to be a big day for sure if Rick Gates takes the stand for the prosecution. And ultimately it is going to be about the campaign, what the campaign knew and how much the campaign was working in essence with Roger Stone to try and get more information ahead of time concerning what WikiLeaks was going to be releasing.

John.

BERMAN: And, again, we're looking at live pictures right now of Roger Stone arriving at this courthouse. This slow walk in for all the cameras to see. Roger Stone very much about the presentation and the show of it all.

And as Shimon says, this trial has been so fascinating, not just because it's about whether or not Roger Stone was honest in his testimony to Congress, but we're learning new facts about the Trump campaign and Donald Trump's role and knowledge of so much of what ended up in the Mueller report, including his knowledge of the hacks and of what WikiLeaks did. And we could learn more today. So stay tuned for that.

An emotional moment for "Jeopardy's" Alex Trebek. The iconic game show host got choked up in a response to one person's Final Jeopardy answer.

[08:45:00]

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ALEX TREBEK, HOST, "JEOPARDY": Let's take a look at your response. Did you come up with the right one? No. What is, we love you, Alex. That's very kind of you. Thank you.

Cost you $1,995. You're left with $5. OK.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BERMAN: He was left with $5, but he won our hearts right there.

HILL: Yes.

BERMAN: What a genuine human moment.

The 79-year-old Trebek just resumed chemotherapy for treatment for pancreatic cancer. There were so many people moved. The #weloveyouAlex ended up trending on Twitter. And the contestant who wrote the message says he is glad he got to say what everyone was thinking.

HILL: It's quite a moment. You think about how many people, really, watch him every night, have been, you know, pulling for him in this battle and who can relate to that battle too based on their own family and friends.

BERMAN: And Alex Trebek is in this fight in a very public way, hosting the show every night for everybody to see. Takes a lot of courage to do what he's doing.

All right.

HILL: A nice moment that we all needed.

Historic public impeachment hearings now just over 24 hours away. We're going to get to "The Bottom Line" with someone who was at the center of the Watergate hearings. That is next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[08:50:16]

HILL: The new public face of the Trump impeachment inquiry now just one day away. And this is what Americans will hear for the first time directly from witnesses about whether President Trump used the powers of his office to pressure Ukraine to find dirt on a political rival.

Let's get to "The Bottom Line" this morning with John Dean, former Nixon White House council and CNN contributor.

These will be different than what we have been used to seeing in terms of any sort of inquiry these days in Washington. Obviously the first public hearings. And they'll be done differently. What are you watching for tomorrow?

JOHN DEAN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: A couple things.

First of all, I'm curious to how the Republicans will deal with it. You know, they have tried to make a show out of it when it's had sort of a semipublic aura to it. They have no defense. Have they collected a defense where they actually can go to the substance? I don't think so.

And I'm also curious to see how Trump is going to try to divert attention, which he typically does in situations like this.

So those are the key things I've -- that have got my attention.

BERMAN: One of the things that is interesting, as compared to recent hearings, is that lawyers will do the bulk of the questioning. Why does that matter?

DEAN: Well, look, they had to change the House rules to arrange that. They had to give them 45 minutes. The chairman can then refer to a counsel and let him do it. They've got to do it because they can't get a narrative of anything if you just do these five-minute rule segments because while the Democrats have been pretty good at it, I testified, as you know, before the Judiciary Committee when they were looking at the Mueller report. And there was a thread to the Democrats' questions. There was none to the Republican questions, even when they were trying to discredit a witness.

So this will give the audience a chance to see a story unfold. Forty- five minutes is a good hunk of time to tell a story.

BERMAN: Nothing, though, like what you went through in 1973.

DEAN: No.

BERMAN: You were just telling us.

So, Bill Taylor's going to testify tomorrow morning. How long did you testify?

DEAN: I testified for eight hours a day for five days. First day was reading my statement. I've said, if I'd of known I was going to have to read that statement, it would not have been 60,000 words. I learned the morning I arrived, you have to read it. And I said, oh, my God, I didn't even write it to read it. I used a lot of words that are not always easy to pronounce and --

HILL: First time saying some of them out loud?

DEAN: Yes, exactly.

HILL: That will be quite different. But I think, too, like the point that you're making, right, we have two tomorrow, two folks who are set to testify. The fact that it is going to be shorter and will need to be so focused and how important it is to have the, you know, the staff attorneys doing this questioning from the beginning. You were talking about the narrative and what the public will see.

How much of that, do you think, is already starting to get through in terms of what's being put out or is not being put out by each side?

DEAN: Well, you know what, we know the basic -- the core issues from the behind closed doors hearings. So I think they'll draw on that to decide -- they've selected who are probably the strongest of the witnesses to tell the story. They want to come right out of the box and get it to people. It's very important that the American public understand what's going on.

I'm hoping they rebroadcast these somewhere, not just streaming, but somebody actually takes a block of time and replays them, at least in some concentrated form.

BERMAN: So it's interesting to me, it strikes me that the Democrats need to do two things here, which is to lay out what happened, and to an extent they've already done that. We have the transcript of the president's phone call.

DEAN: Right.

BERMAN: We have the transcripts of the deposition testimony. They need to show what happened but they also have to make the case that it's bad or why in their mind it's impeachable.

How do they do that?

DEAN: Well, for a lot of people this will be the first time they hear it. There is a theatrical aspect to these hearings.

I never understood during Watergate, when people came up to me after I testified and say, liked your show. I thought, what in the world are they talking about? Years later, when I watched Iran/Contra, the hearings, I thought, this is a show. No question there's a theatrical aspect to congressional hearings.

So they have to give a good show tomorrow. And the show they've got to put on is why the president has done something that is so serious that we should entertain the impeachment proceedings.

HILL: Sounds simple.

BERMAN: It sounds simple.

HILL: But we'll see.

BERMAN: But are there risks for the Democrats in that?

DEAN: Sure there are.

BERMAN: What are they?

DEAN: Well, it's like the Mueller hearings. They thought the Mueller hearings would -- he would come out and make a case and he was a weak witness. So they hoped they -- they -- I think they've selected who they believe will be strong witnesses for tomorrow.

[08:55:02]

HILL: Strongest out of the gate, in their mind.

DEAN: Yes.

BERMAN: John Dean, great to have you here with us today. Thanks so much for your insight on this. A rather unique perspective, shall we say.

DEAN: I'll be watching them tomorrow.

BERMAN: (INAUDIBLE). I'm sure you'll enjoy watching it more than being part of it.

So we're getting new details about tomorrow's hearings and how House Democrats will present their case. This as we're getting new facts from the transcripts of the deposition themselves.

CNN's special coverage continues right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: A very good Tuesday morning to you. It's a big week. I'm Jim Sciutto.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Poppy Harlow.

We are on the verge of seeing history unfold on Capitol Hill. Public impeachment hearings kicking off in just over 24 hours. We now know who will be questioned first. And we know how they will be questioned, at least by the Republicans.

[09:00:00]

We know the GOP plan of defense. An 18-page memo lays out the party's strategy. And hours from now, Republican lawmakers and aides will meet to solidify their next move.