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First Exposed Ukraine Scandal; Miller Emails Revealed; Sisters Recount California School Shooting; Aired 8:30-9a ET
Aired November 18, 2019 - 08:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Here's a name you will need to remember, Dale Perry. Until now, he was a little known energy executive, but one day he may be remembered as the man who single handedly touched off the impeachment investigation of President Trump.
CNN investigative correspondent Drew Griffin has this CNN exclusive report.
DREW GRIFFIN, CNN INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: John, Alisyn, it's a murkier side of the story, but easy to understand the motive. Not politics, money.
At the heart of the issue, were Rudy Giuliani and his associates using their power and influence as the president's men to carve out their own profits from the Ukrainian gas industry?
GRIFFIN (voice over): You probably don't know Dale Perry, but history may record this energy executive as one of the first who sounded the alarm about what would become President Trump's impeachment inquiry.
In April, Perry's former business partner, Andrew Favorov, now a director at Ukraine's state owned gas company Naftogaz, says two shady characters had approached him with a secret plan to take over the management inside Naftogaz. Those two shady characters, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, are two low-level Soviet born businessmen from south Florida. And they were trying to clear the way for their own gas business.
GRIFFIN (on camera): You said he took it as sort of a threat? A shakedown?
DALE PERRY, MANAGING DIRECTOR, ENERGY RESOURCES OF UKRAINE: A shakedown, because he said, look, either I join them and become the CEO, or they're going to find someone else to be the CEO and remove all of us. All of us meaning the top management of Naftogaz.
GRIFFIN (voice over): Naftogaz was finally making a profit. Its new CEO had spent five years cleaning up the corruption plagued giant.
The efforts had supportive anti-corruption leaders across Ukraine and the world, including U.S. Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch.
But Parnas and Fruman said they were working on getting rid of the ambassador.
PERRY: They were suggesting that President Trump had already agreed that, yes, they would remove her.
GRIFFIN: Andrew Favorov isn't talking, but two sources familiar with the matter tell CNN Perry's description of the events is correct. Perry was so alarmed he wrote a letter that eventually reached the State Department but it may have been too late. A short time later, what Parnas and Fruman predicted happened, the U.S. ambassador, Marie Yovanovitch, was removed, stunning anti-corruption officials in Ukraine. Now we know from American diplomats Parnas and Fruman had powerful help.
GEORGE KENT, DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF STATE: I became increasingly aware of an effort by Rudy Giuliani and others, including his associates Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, to run a campaign to smear Ambassador Yovanovitch.
GRIFFIN: While Rudy Giuliani was using Parnas and Fruman to help him push his conspiracy theories about the Bidens and that Ukraine was behind the election meddling in 2016, Parnas and Fruman were using Giuliani for their own scheme, to oust a U.S. ambassador getting in the way of their plans for a gas business. Sound farfetched?
Former federal prosecutor Ken McCallion has seen it before in Ukraine and says the House impeachment inquiry is exposing the real issue, money.
KENNETH MCCALLION, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: It's really not just about the Bidens, it's not about a DNC server being hidden in Ukraine, it's really about the money. It's a fight for control of Naftogaz and the natural gas resources.
GRIFFIN: Parnas and Fruman may have begun their plan in 2018. Parnas hired Giuliani for half a million dollars. A federal indictment alleges they also began donating hundreds of thousands of dollars in foreign funds to Republican causes, giving them incredible access to political fundraising events, including at least ten with President Trump. Both have pleaded not guilty. "The Washington Post" even reports Lev Parnas told the president he needed to replace his U.S. ambassador to Ukraine and Trump reportedly agreed.
This would all make perfect sense except for one thing, Parnas and Fruman had zero experience in the gas business and could not have acted alone.
MCCALLION: Parnas and Fruman, with no background in the oil, gas, natural resources area, all of a sudden decided to form a company which you can only do in Ukraine or Russia, really, with the blessing of the powers that be and, in this case this would be Firtash.
GRIFFIN: Firtash is Dmitry Firtash, a Kremlin connected oligarch who made a fortune selling Russian gas to Ukraine. He's been fighting extradition to the United States since 2013 when he was charged in a bribery scheme. He's declared his innocence and has hired prominent Washington lawyers to lobby the Trump administration to drop his case. Attorneys for Parnas and Fruman refused to answer questions about Dmitry Firtash, but in an odd arrangement, Firtash's attorneys hired Lev Parnas as a translator.
Sources tell CNN, Parnas has bragged Dmitry Firtash was bankrolling his lavish lifestyle of private planes and bodyguards, telling them, I'm the best paid interpreter in the world.
GRIFFIN: Alisyn and John, federal prosecutors certainly want to know what Parnas, Fruman and Rudy Giuliani were doing. Giuliani insist to me he did nothing illegal. But there's a question now of his shadow foreign policy in Ukraine didn't also involve some shadowy business deal.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Our thanks to Drew Griffin. It is so much easier when you just follow the money.
BERMAN: The roster of individuals involved there, pay attention.
CAMEROTA: And all of the puzzle pieces just sort of magically come together.
All right, meanwhile, a massive stack of Stephen Miller's e-mails have just been revealed. They capture what he has to say about minorities and immigrations. We break down that in our "Reality Check."
BERMAN: So, this morning, the White House is throwing its weight behind a senior aide who has been proven to traffic in white supremacist articles. Full stop.
John Avlon with a "Reality Check."
JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: That's right, guys.
So, amid the impeachment inquiry, you might haves missed this, President Trump's chief speechwriter and immigration policy adviser was found to have pushed stories from white nationalist websites. The White House isn't contesting that fact but they are standing by him while attacking a group that brought the information to light as a far left smear organization. This is not a little nuts. I'm talking, of course, about Stephen
Miller, who intensely defends the president's immigration policy and rejects the idea that the administration has ever dabbled in racist rhetoric.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHEN MILLER, SENIOR WHITE HOUSE POLICY ADVISER: I think the term racist, Chris, has become a label simply to try to silence and punish and suppress people they disagree with.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AVLON: But in a boatload of e-mails from 2015, just before joining the Trump campaign, Miller e-mailed the right-wing website Breitbart some 900 times, obsessively trying to influence their immigration coverage by sending articles by white nationalist sites like Vdare and American Renaissance, which are dedicated to making American white again.
Emails leaked to the Southern Poverty Law Center's Michael Edison Hayden by former Breitbart editor named Katie McHugh, who herself was fired after making anti-Muslimism remarks and now was working to expose members of the far right.
Now, according to e-mails reviewed by Hate Watch, Miller's fixated on crimes committed by non-whites, was upset about the removal of confederate flags after the Charleston AME massacre, invoked the great replacement conspiracy theory that implies whites are being pushed out by minorities, pushed a racist novel that features the murderous rape of white women at the hands of refugees.
As Edison writes, quote, Miller touches solely on the perspective of severely limiting or ending non-white immigration. Hate Watch, he says, wasn't able to find any examples of Miller writing sympathetically or even in neutral tones about any person who was non- white or foreign born.
Now, keep in mind that that time his boss was Jefferson Beauregard Sessions, chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Border Security and Immigration. And Miller soon became senior policy adviser to the Trump campaign.
If you don't think his views have driven the Trump administration's immigration policy, you haven't been paying attention. Under Trump, the U.S. moved to admit no refugees into our country for most of October. Last week we learned that Ambassador Sondland had been instructed to fast track immigration from Europe according to "The Washington Post," while asylum seekers from Mexico and central America are being blocked at the border, while the Trump administration attempted to change its entire policy of separating kids, putting them in cages, to allowing indefinite family detentions. And what we're learning through these e-mails just confirms what we've seen expressed through Trump policy. It's about cracking down on non-white immigration, both illegal and legal. Now, the White House is hoping this will all go away. They put out a
statement that Miller hades bigotry and all its forms and tried to suggest that anti-Semitism is behind the e-mail leak. Now, CNN's tried to reach Miller since the story broke last week, but he once told "The Washington Post" that anyone who thinks he's a racist is an ignorant fool, a liar and a reprobate who has no place in civilized society. But this is evidence, in Stephen Miller's own words, that white nationalist sites have inspired the president's chief speechwriter and may be driving America's immigration policy in the Trump era. And that's your "Reality Check."
CAMEROTA: So helpful, John, to have people's suspicions confirmed with his own words and actions.
All right, here's what else to watch today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ON SCREEN TEXT: 9:30 a.m. ET, Mueller grand jury hearing.
4:30 p.m. ET, Ivanka Trump USAID initiative.
6:00 p.m. ET, Michelle Obama book signing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: Santa Clarita, California, coming together to remember two students killed in last week's school shooting. A motive for that attack is still unknown.
Joining us now are Jaimee and Madi Roeschke. They are sisters and students at Saugus High School. They hid together during the shooting.
Girls, God, that sounds so horrifying what you both endured and we're so sorry that you had to live through -- I mean we're happy that you lived through it but we're so sorry that you had to endure it.
So, Jaimee, tell us where you were hiding and what you heard.
JAIMEE ROESCHKE: We were hiding in the core (ph) of a classroom and before that we were just hanging out in a classroom and we heard three gunshots at first. And my sister got up and then after that we heard another three or four and then these kids just came running in. So we all ran to the core (ph), because we had no teacher in the class.
CAMEROTA: Madi, I want to read what you were texting to your mom while all of this was unfolding. We have that text -- the screen of the text. You said, shooter, gunshots, I love you, I'm with Jaimee. Your mother says, what, where are you? You say, we heard gunshots, hiding. Your mother tries to type, go in a classroom, but obviously she's so nervous that there's typos. You say, I am. She corrects, classroom. Then you try to say, I'm in the core, which is a part of your school, hiding. She says, are you safe? And then later there's a text that pops up from your mother, she says, is door locked? You say, yes, doors are locked. We all have scissors and chairs.
Did you think that scissors and chairs could protect you that day in your classroom?
MADI ROESCHKE, SAUGUS HIGH SCHOOL STUDENT: We hoped that they would. One of the students that was with us passed scissors out to everybody and some of the drills from last year, they taught us to arm ourselves with anything that we could, such as scissors, chairs, any heavy objects, just in case the shooter were to find us.
CAMEROTA: Jaimee, did you both -- I mean were you both talking while this was happening? Were you and your sister -- what were you doing and did you think that you were going to be able to make it out?
J. ROESCHKE: I wasn't sure if we were going to make it out because I just felt really helpless and I didn't know what was going to happen. But I was telling her that I loved her and then we were just being quiet because we didn't want like the shooter to find us if he was in our area.
CAMEROTA: Madi, I know that obviously you both have been aware of everything that's happened around his country. Obviously you know what happened in Newtown. In fact, you had just sent your mother, two months ago, the public service announcement that the parents at Newtown put out, basically about how this could happen to any of the kids and action has to be taken.
Had it occurred to you, did you fear that this could someday happen at your school?
M. ROESCHKE: I definitely wasn't surprised that it happened.
Of course it was very hard and a traumatic experience, but with the state of America right now, with gun control not being strict enough, with kids being able to access guns so easily, it didn't surprise me. And I honestly was never in shock and then -- I was just crying with my sister hoping that we would be safe, but I wasn't surprised that it happened.
CAMEROTA: I mean what does that tell us about how you both, at 15 years old and 17 years old, are not in shock when you have to cower in your classroom because this is such a possibility now for all kids in every state, at every school.
And so, Madi, and Jaimee, how are you doing today? How are you both coping with this?
M. ROESCHKE: I think we're OK. Being together has helped a lot because I know that if I wasn't with her during that it would have been way harder, especially because she didn't have her phone. She left it on her desk and it's still at school. I know that we've spent a lot of time together trying to cope with everything. Like yesterday we went to the vigil with my family and it was really nice to be there and to see the community get together, but it was also very sad and I was just crying the whole time for Gracie and Dominic.
CAMEROTA: Yes, of course you were. Of course you were. And I know that you know those student who were killed.
Well, Madi and Jaimee, we're thinking of you. Take care of yourselves. As we know from covering this, it takes a long time. It's going to be an emotional roller coaster. Thank you very much for sharing your texts and your personal experience with us. Take care of yourselves.
J. ROESCHKE: Thank you.
M. ROESCHKE: Thank you.
CAMEROTA: We'll be right back.