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Trump Hosts Turkey's President at White House; Tensions Ahead of Erdogan Meeting; Closing Arguments in Stone Trial; Record Cold in the U.S.; Schiff Leads Charge for Impeachment. Aired 6:30-7a ET
Aired November 13, 2019 - 06:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: While the first televised impeachment testimony plays out live today on Capitol Hill, President Trump will counter program in a way. He'll roll out the red carpet at the White House for a controversial figure, the president of Turkey.
CNN's Joe Johns is live for us at the White House.
What do we expect, Joe?
JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Alisyn.
Well, the main event scheduled here at the White House is a news conference between President Trump and Turkish President Erdogan. Some tough questions expected on the first day of the impeachment hearings, but not just about impeachment.
This visit by Erdogan is controversial in its own right. Some up on Capitol Hill have called for the president to rescind the visit of Turkish President Erdogan. It's because of Turkey's decision to invade northern Syria right after the president pulled out U.S. troops. We're hearing this morning allegations of war crimes during that invasion.
It's also controversial because of Turkey's decision to purchase arms from Russia. Turkey, of course, a NATO ally. You remember back in May of 2017, the last time President Erdogan visited the United States, there were reports -- and you can even see video of bodyguards of President Erdogan attacking protesters. There are expected to be protesters for the Erdogan visit here in Washington, D.C., today. The Secret Service and law enforcement in Washington are going to be on high alert.
Back to you, John and Alisyn.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, Joe, thank you very much.
And today's visit comes as U.S. officials have obtained this drone video of possible war crimes committed by Turkish-backed forces in northern Syria.
We're back now with Abby Phillip, CNN political correspondent, and Bianna Golodryga, CNN global affairs analyst.
And, look, there are plenty of questions to ask regarding Syria and Turkey, one of which would be to President Erdogan, did President Trump really object when you announced to him you were going to invade northern Syria? However, I can't help but think, Abby, that this really is counterprogramming from the president. That what he's trying to do is divert attention. Have this news conference at the same time as the impeachment hearings because he can't give up the stage. He just feels like he needs to try to seize the moment no matter what's going on, on the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue.
ABBY PHILLIP, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, and this was going to be an incredibly controversial visit to begin with. But the timing makes it even more useful to the president as a form of distraction. And I think at the press conference this afternoon, this is going to be where the president's allies are going to get a first-hand account from him about how he wants to be defended. This is his opportunity to lay out the groundwork for what he wants them to say and how he wants them to attack the witnesses potentially or criticize the process.
And so it's functionally very important for the president to get out there because we know, based on our reporting and how this has gone in the past, that the White House, the president's campaign and his allies look to President Trump for marching orders on this stuff. He is the war room. And I think today the war room is literally going to be on live television in the White House East Room as he's giving this press conference.
CAMEROTA: I don't think the president can be blamed for wanting to counterprogram. I think that that makes sense. I mean Joe Lockhart has said that what they did during impeachment was continue to do the country's business. That's what they always tried to show. I'm not sure how a visit from Erdogan at this moment, after the president is seen as capitulating by so many people to what Erdogan wanted in northern Syria, and now that we have these -- I mean we've had reports since the day it started of atrocities happening. How is this proving that you're doing the U.S.' business?
BIANNA GOLODRYGA, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Yes, invite Boris Johnson if you want to deflect, right? Why are you inviting Erdogan at a time when you've seen what took place in Syria where they went in and they're accused of war crimes, including chemical weapons attacks against Syrians. There's a big question to be answered about whether or not they knew where al Baghdadi was located because it was so close to the Turkish border.
If, in fact, we are so close with Turkey, and they're a NATO ally, why did the U.S. have to fly through Iraq to -- for that raid, as opposed to going through next door Turkey? And, of course, they bought that anti-defense missile system from Russia.
So there's a lot on the table here. There were sanctions on the table as well. There's a huge disconnect between where the U.S. military stands, the defense secretary said that Turkey will be held accountable. How are they being held accountable? He's being rewarded with a visit here.
And just to put this into perspective, we still haven't seen a visit from President Zelensky, who had been begging for one. It's one of the reasons why we're in an impeachment hearing right now. And yet you've invited somebody who has violated so many agreements against U.S. interests to the United States. There's a lot of issues here at stake and there's a lot of people, and I think rightly so, questioning whether this is the right moment to invite Erdogan.
BERMAN: But I think the answer -- you both answered, I think, your own question, which is why Erdogan, because controversy trumps controversy. Pun intended here. This is the president's playbook. He doesn't care if he's introducing something new and controversial into the atmosphere. He just wants you to focus on that. I just think it's going to be awfully hard today, Abby, with these impeachment hearings going on. And he'll be watching in the morning. I'm not sure he's going to like what he sees in the morning.
BERMAN: You know, Jim Jordan doesn't really get a chance to talk until this afternoon. And he may not get a chance to see that, the president. This morning's going to be tough for him to watch.
PHILLIP: Yes. I mean I think it is going to be difficult for him to sit through it. And we'll see to what extent he actually comments as it's happening. But I -- I do think he's going to watch. I mean the White House -- the West Wing is full of televisions and the president typically spends most of his morning up until 11:00 or 11:30 in the morning in the residence where he is watching TV a lot of that time.
CAMEROTA: Exactly (INAUDIBLE).
PHILLIP: So in -- during executive time. So he's going to be watching more than likely than not.
And I would also say that the other thing about Turkey and about Erdogan that is puzzling with the president is that he has long brought people like Erdogan, basically strong men in the region, though he's a NATO ally, into the inner fold of U.S. foreign policy. It's been puzzling to a lot of people that this is just yet another example of that. The president is much less bothered by some of the things that Bianna just described than a lot of people in the foreign policy establishment think he should be.
And, in fact, he wants Erdogan to take a stronger role in the region despite any concerns that we might have about how it's being done and whether or not it's been done in a way that is consistent with American values.
BERMAN: All right, Bianna, Abby, stand by.
We're getting our first live pictures right now. Cameras, for the first time this morning, allowed into the 1100 Longworth House Office Building. This is a big room, as Alisyn was pointing out.
CAMEROTA: It's the chamber of the Ways and Means Committee, right? And this is the largest, most spacious place to do this.
BERMAN: For the House of Representatives. So big that in 1949 and 1950, when they were renovating the actual House chamber, this is what the House used to meet for two full years. It's that big.
And you can see the lights being set up on the right side of the screen is where the witnesses will be sitting. Behind that is where the members will be sitting. And then, of course, there are places for members of the public and the media all to watch.
And we will be watching history unfold.
CAMEROTA: It is a handsome room. I have to agree with them.
BERMAN: And you know a handsome room.
CAMEROTA: I know. I do know handsome rooms.
BERMAN: All right.
CAMEROTA: We'll be right back.
CAMEROTA: Jurors in the Roger Stone trial hear closing arguments today. And the last few days have not only been about Roger Stone. They've also brought up testimony that questions the truthfulness of what President Trump told Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
Let's get the latest from CNN's Shimon Prokupecz, he is live in Washington.
Tell us everyone we need to know about this Stone trial.
SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: Yes. So it was yesterday that Rick Gates took the stand and that is where really they connected Trump, Donald Trump, to really this entire -- what this trial is really about, and that's, of course, WikiLeaks and the fact that Roger Stone, according to prosecutors, lied to members of Congress during their investigation, telling them that he had no contact with people inside the Trump campaign, and Donald Trump for that matter, concerning WikiLeaks.
Well, that all changed yesterday when Rick Gates took the stand and in one of the final questions to him, the prosecutor asked him if Roger Stone had any communication with then candidate Trump concerning WikiLeaks. And here's how that exchange went. The prosecutor, Aaron Zelinsky, asking Rick Gates, after Mr. Trump got off the phone to Mr. Stone, what did Mr. Trump say? And then Rick Gates says he indicated more information would be coming.
Now, that conversation taking place the end of July 2016, just weeks after WikiLeaks had released e-mails from the DNC that were hacked. Now we know by the Russians. That information coming out. And then just weeks later, Roger Stone, on the phone, inside an SUV with Donald Trump, talking about that more information would be coming, that WikiLeaks would be issuing more hacked e-mails. And, of course, that is essentially what this trial is about, the fact that Roger Stone lied to members of Congress, but, more importantly, as you say, Alisyn, these connections to the campaign and, of course, Donald Trump.
BERMAN: And, of course, Shimon, I'll take it, the important thing here is the president said he never recalled such a conversation.
PROKUPECZ: That's right.
BERMAN: Shimon, thank you very much for that reporting.
Joining me now is former FBI general counsel and CNN legal analyst, Jim Baker.
And, Jim, one of the things that has been remarkable about the Roger Stone trial is that it hasn't just been about Roger Stone. The prosecutors really have brought President Trump and then candidate Donald Trump right into the middle of it.
And I want to put back up on the screen -- well, let me start with P2O2 because this is what the president said in his written testimony to Robert Mueller. He said, I recall that in the months leading up to the election, there was considerable media reporting about the possible hacking and release of campaign-related information. But at this point in time, more than two years later, I have no recollection of any particular conversation when it occurred or who the participants were.
I don't recall, he said, yet yesterday, on the stand, Rick Gates recalled, in vivid detail, this phone call between Roger Stone and then candidate Donald Trump that appeared to be about the release of these Russian e-mails.
What does that tell you?
JIM BAKER, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, it's -- I'm thinking about it in two ways. One, is the -- what are the implications for Mr. Stone, who's alleged to have engaged in a variety of criminal activity, and then what's the implication for Donald Trump? For Mr. Stone, it's very bad, it's very bad, because he -- his statements including -- included flat out statements to Congress that he did not know things, that he did not recall them -- I mean, I'm sorry, that he did not know them. He was very specific. He did not use the phrase, I do not recall or I have no recollection. So, for Mr. Stone, the Gates testimony, I think, was quite bad.
For Mr. Trump, it's pretty bad, but, you know, there's going to be a lot that hangs on the president's statements about, you know, I don't recall, I have no recollection. It's an astute thing for him to have done and it may be part of the reason that Director Mueller, Special Counsel Mueller, didn't end up charging him. But it's -- it undercuts substantially the president's assertions, but whether it proves that the president committed a crime of perjury or obstruction is quite something else.
BERMAN: So you said really bad for Roger Stone, pretty bad for Donald Trump. Is it kind of bad for Robert Mueller here because Robert Mueller made a decision to settle for these written answers from the president. And at a minimum, this written answer from the president begs more questions. So, why wouldn't it be worth the president issuing a subpoena for President Trump to get him to come answer in more detail here?
BAKER: You know, based on what was in the report and what Mueller said at the hearing and so on, I mean it's just -- I think they made a calculation and it's not a bad calculation. When a witness says that they don't recall something, then what you have to do is prove that at the time they said they don't recall, they actually did recall.
They have to -- you have to prove that the statement that they didn't recall is false. And that's hard to do. You've got to have other evidence, either through documents, other witness statements, to actually prove that. So it's quite tricky to do. Remember, the government has to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt in order to bring criminal charges and to get a conviction at trial.
And so that, you know, that's just a hard thing to do. And I think, you know, as Mueller said, I think they just calculated that this is just going to take too long to try to drag the president in by a subpoena. He's going to fight it. And we want to finish our report and move on and bring the facts forward.
And I think they assessed that they were just going to have a hard time disproving that this that the -- proving that the president's statement that he did not recall was false. That'd be hard to do.
BERMAN: Hard -- impossible to do in writing, hard to do in person. Robert Mueller didn't really push it. And, of course, the Gates testimony is that the campaign talked about the WikiLeaks information at length. Again, did the president not know about that either? We won't know.
BERMAN: Jim Baker, thank you so much for that. Really appreciate you being with us this morning.
BAKER: Thanks, John.
CAMEROTA: Thanks, John.
Up next we have an interesting profile. A closer look at Democrat Adam Schiff's journey into the spotlight and the cult classic movie he knows beginning to end.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [06:51:44]
BERMAN: This morning, arctic conditions across the country being blamed for at least four deaths in two states. In Ohio, a snowstorm and whiteout conditions led to a 50-car pileup.
Want to bring in CNN meteorologist Chad Myers.
Chad, how much more of this are we going to see?
CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Well, today is the bottom. This is the lowest and the coldest it gets. We warm up from here. But temperatures are below zero in some spots with wind chill factors today.
This weather is brought to you by Kay, where your love story is always the most important one of all.
We will see cold weather, though, all across the East Coast, all the way down to the Gulf Coast, below freezing. And I know you're laughing in this if you're in the northeast, wait, a freeze warning? Yes, it's zero up here. Well, I'll tell you what, 24 in southern Louisiana is also cold too. Pipes break down there. And we will see that weather for the next couple of hours before it begins to warm up.
Temperatures are in the teens and 20s for this afternoon. But here's the story. We get another low pressure that tries to run up the East Coast. And, you know what, nine weeks from now, three weeks from now this could be a snowstorm nor'easter. But at least it is going to warm up into the 40s for that storm, the nor'easter, as it runs up the East Coast. So temperatures are going to be 30s and 40s, not 20s and 30s. So a rain event for the coast, not a snow event for the coast.
So this is the bottom. We go up from here. I'm the light at the end of the tunnel.
CAMEROTA: Thank you, Chad.
BERMAN: You are the light at the end of the tunnel, Chad.
CAMEROTA: Thank you. You're the light of our life.
BERMAN: I always say that about you.
CAMEROTA: Thank you very much.
MYERS: You're welcome.
BERMAN: Is that Ann Murray or is that --
CAMEROTA: Yes, you light up my life? You light up my life.
BERMAN: Debbie Boone.
BERMAN: OK. Never mind. CAMEROTA: We need to know this.
Meanwhile, Congressman Adam Schiff is a central figure, of course, in the impeachment inquiry, leading the charge for House Democrats. The ten-term congressman and chairman of the House Intel Committee spoke to CNN's Gloria Borger about what is ahead as the impeachment investigation goes public.
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): Well, it feels at times like being in the eye of the hurricane. You can never tell when you're going to step out of the eye into gale force winds.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST (voice over): But it's a sure bet that this week House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff will be at the center of the storm, leading an historic public inquiry on impeachment.
SCHIFF: It's, of course, much more intense now than ever before.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Shifty Schiff.
BORGER: Anyone not living under a rock knows that Schiff is one of President Trump's favorite targets.
TRUMP: Little pencil neck.
BORGER: And he's not subtle about it.
On camera --
TRUMP: He should resign from office in disgrace and, frankly, he -- they should look at him for treason.
BORGER: And on Twitter.
SCHIFF: I can't even keep up with the president's Twitter attacks on me. My staff has stopped sending them to me, they're too numerous.
BORGER (on camera): You don't follow him on Twitter?
SCHIFF: I don't follow him, no, no. I have more important things to do.
BORGER (voice over): Just months ago, Schiff was in the camp that believed impeachment was not a good idea.
STEVE ISRAEL (D), FORMER U.S. REPRESENTATIVE: We've talked in depth about this.
BORGER: Steve Israel is a close Schiff friend and former Democratic colleague. ISRAEL: Impeachment might have some consequences that would be harmful
to the country, to the Democratic Party, to members of Congress. But when the president engaged in this phone call with President Zelensky, that was a bridge too far for him.
SCHIFF: What made this a necessity for me and so many of my colleagues is that if the president believes that he can abuse his office, the power of that office, he can fail to defend our national security and there is no accountability, even if the accountability is only in the House, that's too dangerous a prospect to persist.
BORGER: Schiff came to Congress from his Los Angeles County district almost 20 years ago.
SCHIFF: Ready to win an election?
BORGER: A moderate Democrat who beat the Republican incumbent, a leader of the impeachment fight against Bill Clinton. How's that for irony.
SCHIFF (2000): Mr. Rogan's priority has always been in engaging in these national, partisan, ideological crusades and ignoring the business at home in the district. And I don't think people value that.
BORGER: Schiff's Harvard Law classmate, Karl Thurmond, remembers a friend who knew where he wanted to go and how to get there.
KARL THURMOND, LAW SCHOOL CLASSMATE: I played quarterback. Adam played on the line for his team. And in one play, Adam literally ripped the jersey off my back. And, you know, that's Adam. And, so, yes, he is very ambitious. He is very competitive. But not in a cut throat or a back-stabbing way. He knew back then he wanted to get involved in politics.
BORGER: Schiff served in the state senate, but his greatest impact came as an assistant U.S. attorney when he prosecuted an FBI agent for selling secrets to the Russians.
SCHIFF: Well, it does feel at times like my life has come full circle.
BORGER: From a major role in the Republican-led 2014 Benghazi investigation, to becoming chairman of the Intelligence Committee this year.
ISRAEL: What people don't understand about Adam is that he wanted to go on the Intelligence Committee for two principal reasons. Number one, it was bipartisan, and, number two, it was quiet. And so I often say to him, how'd that work out for you, buddy?
BORGER: Not as expected. Just weeks ago, House Republicans tried to censure him.
BORGER (on camera): How did that feel? You have Republican friends.
SCHIFF: Yes. Well, you know --
BORGER: Or you used to.
SCHIFF: I think my Republican colleagues finding they lacked the courage to stand up to this unethical president have consoled themselves by attacking those who do. And that's a sad reality, but it is where the House GOP is. Kevin McCarthy will do whatever Donald Trump asks him to do. He'll merely ask how high he wants McCarthy to jump and then McCarthy will jump.
REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): It's behind closed doors with a chairman who has lied three times to the American public looking them in the eye. And somehow we're supposed to trust what comes out of that?
BORGER (voice over): It's ugly and very personal. Illegitimate hearings, Republicans say, run by a partisan.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is a Soviet-style impeachment process.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Chairman Schiff is unfit to chair the Intelligence Committee.
BORGER: The chairman is having none of it.
SCHIFF: For this president, they're going to destroy what America stands for in the world. They're going to countenance -- holding up aid or meetings or whatever to get help in the next election campaign. They're going to normalize that, rationalize that. They're going to hunker down and put their heads in the sand about it? Where's people's sense of duty?
BORGER: If that sounds like a line out of a screen play, it could be. Schiff has written a few of his own and took some dramatic and controversial liberties in describing the president's phone call with the Ukrainian president.
SCHIFF: And I'm going to say this only seven times so you better listen good, I want you to make up dirt on my political opponent, understand? Lots of it.
BORGER: The performance turned into a political opening for Republicans. One in particular.
TRUMP: Shifty Schiff is a double corrupt politician. He took my words on the phone call and they were so good he totally changed them.
BORGER (on camera): Do you regret doing it that way?
SCHIFF: No, I made it clear I was mocking the president and just as clearly the president doesn't like being mocked. But it was a mafia kind of an organized crime shakedown. But I'm not surprised if the president wasn't attacking me about this, he'd be attacking me about something else.
BORGER: What's his mood like these days? How would you describe it?
ISRAEL: He's got some overwhelming responsibilities and they are on his shoulders. But he is excellent at relieving that burden with his humor. Look, he's got a goofy sense of humor that people don't see.
BORGER: Goofy is not a word people would use about him.
ISRAEL: Well, he loves funny movies. Everybody knows that he can take you from the first word of "The Big Lebowski" to the scene of "The Big Lebowski."
UNIDENTIFIED MALE, ACTOR, "THE BIG LEBOWSKI": I'm the dude. So that's what you call me, you know?
BORGER: Are there any words from the dude that would apply to your life?
SCHIFF: I've been asked in the past. I'm not sure whether you can air this or not is my only question. What line from "The Big Lebowski" comes up most in political life? And I have to say it's the line, no, you're not wrong, you're just an (EXPLETIVE DELETED).
CAMEROTA: I didn't see that coming. Wow. Wow.
CAMEROTA: I also didn't see "The Big Lebowski" coming. I was betting "Rocky Horror."
BERMAN: Really interesting to see that profit.
And Adam Schiff will be in the middle of it all today.
CAMEROTA: So the historic impeachment hearings on Capitol Hill begin this morning.