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"New York Times:" Trump Only Released Aid After Whistleblower Came Forward; Trump Distances Himself From Giuliani On Ukraine Actions; Powerful Storms Threaten Holiday Travel For Millions. Aired 1-1:30p ET

Aired November 27, 2019 - 13:00   ET

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


[13:00:00]

JOHN KING, CNN HOST: Thanks for joining us today in Inside Politics today.

Ana Cabrera is in for Brianna Keilar. She starts Right Now. Have a great afternoon and have a wonderful Thanksgiving

ANA CABRERA, CNN HOST: I'm Ana Cabrera in for Brianna Keilar on this Wednesday.

Underway right now, confirmation he got caught, why the president's knowledge of the whistleblower before he released the Ukraine aid blows up his entire defense.

And did the president just throw Rudy Giuliani under the bus? The ominous comments we've seen many times before.

Also, why has Fox News Host Jeanine Pirro been at the White House two days in row?

Plus, why the 2020 race just became more unpredictable as one candidate rises while another falls?

And the holiday travel nightmare as to powerful storms stand in the way of millions heading home.

We start with an interesting new timeline on the Ukraine scandal. We know that President Trump has made a habit of attacking the whistleblower who brought this scandal to light. Well, now we're learning, according to The New York Times, the president knew about the whistleblower and the report long before the rest of us, also before Congress and before the White House finally relented and released the military aid to Ukraine.

Our Jeremy Diamond is in West Palm Beach where the president is spending the holiday at his Mar-a-Lago resort.

Jeremy, how does this change the picture?

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Ana, this revelation that the president was briefed on this whistleblower complaint in late August is extremely significant. Until this New York Times report yesterday, we did not know whether or not the president had been briefed on it at all before that aid to Ukraine was released. And Indeed this revelation does shed new light on two events that happened after the president was briefed on that revelation.

The first of which is, of course, president's decision on September 10th to actually release the hold on aid to Ukraine. That happened on September 11th. We did not previously know whether or not the president knew about the whistleblower complaint when he made that decision. Now, we know that he did indeed have that knowledge.

And also two days before that on September 9th is when the president spoke with the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, Gordon Sondland, and unprompted, told Sondland no quid pro quo, that there was nothing, that he wanted nothing from the Ukrainians. There was a question as to how the president could say no quid pro quo when he had not even been accused of committing a quid pro quo.

Now, we know that perhaps it was because that whistleblower complaint made that allegation that there was a connection between the security aid to Ukraine and the president's desire for these politically motivated investigations.

And so while now, Ana, we do have these public Intelligence Committee hearings on this impeachment process, in the rear-view mirror, clearly, there's still a lot more still to be uncovered about exactly what happened and the president's motivations in releasing that hold on the aid to Ukraine.

CABRERA: Jeremy, let me ask you about this breaking news from The New York Times. Reports that Rudy Giuliani was pursuing business deals with Ukrainian officials as he was pushing for investigations into the president's political rivals, what do we know?

DIAMOND: That's right. Well, Rudy Giuliani has previously denied having any financial interests in Ukraine. But now The New York Times is reporting that he at least pursued hundreds of thousands of dollars in business from Ukrainian government officials, some of those same Ukrainian government officials that Giuliani was meeting with and pressuring to carry out these investigations that the president was so keen on.

Now, Giuliani said that he ultimately did not pursue these agreements because they were too complicated and he told The New York times that he never received a penny. But it is significant particularly because we already know that the Southern District of New York, attorneys there are already investigating Giuliani over whether or not he may have violated foreign lobbying laws. So this certainly a very interesting disclosure now and certainly raises more questions about Rudy Giuliani's involvement in all of these activities in Ukraine. Ana?

CABRERA: Indeed. Jeremy Diamond reporting, thank you.

Rudy Giuliani says he was joking when he said he had insurance if the president threw him under the bus over Ukraine. Well, Now, we may find out what he really meant because the president just tossed his personal attorney into the middle of Pennsylvania with the bus heading straight for him.

Former Fox News Anchor Bill O'Reilly asked the president about whether he directed Giuliani's efforts to dig up dirt in Ukraine. Here's his answer.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: Well, you have to ask that to Rudy. But Rudy, I don't even know -- I know he was going to go to Ukraine and I think he canceled the trip. But Rudy has other clients other than me.

No, I didn't direct him. But he is a warrior. Rudy is a warrior. Rudy went -- he possibly saw -- but you have to understand, Rudy has other people that he represents.

CABRERA: This isn't the first time we've seen President Trump use this tactic. Trump also uses the ask someone else defense early and often.

TRUMP: Well, you have to ask Michael Cohen. Michael is my attorney and you'll have to ask Michael.

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STEVE DOOCY, FOX NEWS HOST: How much of your legal work was handled by Michael Cohen?

TRUMP: Tiny, tiny little fraction.

CABRERA: We know that's not true. Michael Cohen told us as much in his lengthy congressional testimony in February. Cohen also talked about how he followed orders from Trump on the Stormy Daniels payment.

REPORTER: Did you know about the $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels?

TRUMP: No, no.

CABRERA: That also is not true. In fact, Cohen testified that Trump instructed him to pay Daniels during the 2016 campaign in exchange for her silence about an alleged affair with Trump, which the president denies.

TRUMP: Manafort has nothing to do with our campaign.

He was with the campaign, as you know, for a very short period of time.

Mr. Bannon came on very late.

CABRERA: We know the president doesn't like to share the spotlight but Steve Bannon was a key part of the Trump victory. He joined the campaign as chief executive in August of 2016 and was instrumental in energizing the base, which was a game changer. And Paul Manafort, his short period of time, was actually five incredibly important months in 2016. Manafort helped Trump clinch the GOP nomination and fight back a mutiny at the Republican National Convention. That's a big deal.

TRUMP: Let me just tell you I hardly know the gentleman.

CABRERA: Now we've moved into the impeachment inquiry. The president called Gordon Sondland a great American. Sondland gave a million dollars to the Trump inauguration. The president nominated him as ambassador to the European Union. He called the president from a restaurant in Ukraine and the president took the call. They spoke several times, according to Sondland's testimony. But the president now says he hardly knew Sondland, just like these guys.

TRUMP: I don't know those gentlemen.

CABRERA: No equivocation on this one. He doesn't know them. Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, U.S. citizens who did business in Ukraine, associates of Rudy Giuliani, and apparently frequent photo pals of the president. The president says he takes a lot of pictures with a lot of people, but this many could fill an album.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CABRERA: Here with me now is Congressman Gregory Meeks of New York, a Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Congressman, thanks for coming in.

REP. GREGORY MEEKS (D-NY): Good to be with you.

CABRERA: The president now saying he did not direct Rudy Giuliani to go on this mission in Ukraine to dig up dirt. How do you see those?

MEEKS: Well, we've got clear testimony from strong diplomats, patriots who are there just because they want to help their country that contradict that, that said that they worked with Rudy Giuliani because it was at the direction of the president of the United States of America.

And what the president is doing is just as you just showed, he lies, he lies and he lies and then he throws people under the bus. It's who he is and was who he was before he was president, as Lindsey Graham and Ted Cruz and all the other Republicans said at that time. And now, they go back and they try to protect this guy.

But the camera of history is rolling and the lies that they're saying and how they're trying to protect this guy right now is going to be refuted in that history simply by bringing up the videotape and listening to these witnesses who are just distinguished diplomats and American patriots compared to this president who says he wants to get his side out or others that were involved. Well, who's stopping them from testifying? This president.

So he has abused his power clearly and he's obstructing. Any other person in America, whether you -- no matter what position you have, would be indicted already for obstruction if in fact they were trying to cover up as this president is trying to cover up his --

CABRERA: It sounds like you're ready to impeach.

MEEKS: Look, I want Mr. Bolton and Mulvaney and I want Mr. Giuliani, because I want to search -- we're just trying to do the right thing in the search for the truth.

CABRERA: So you want them to all come in and testify.

MEEKS: Absolutely.

CABRERA: They aren't though right now. So should the Democrats sort of pump the brakes and hold off on moving forward?

MEEKS: So what has to happen -- because we're not going to play the president's game. So what has to happen and what folks need to understand who is obstructing justice, the one that's obstructing it, and hold that person accountable.

So he's like a mob boss. That's really what he's acting like. And so if a mob boss is doing and acting in one way and he's preventing the federal government or someone else from doing their investigation, then they get indicted for obstruction of justice. And think, just like this president did, he tried to intimidate a witness.

So it seems to me that everybody other than this president would be investigated for other things right now.

CABRERA: Well, let me ask you about Rudy Giuliani in this new reporting that he was working on business deals in Ukraine at the same time he was pursuing this, what some have called, shadow foreign policy with Ukraine at the president's behest.

Here's what The New York Times is writing today. The documents indicate that while he was pushing Mr. Trump's agenda with Ukrainian officials eager to get support from the United States, Mr. Giuliani also explored financial agreements with members of the same government.

[13:10:04]

What's your reaction?

MEEKS: My reaction is that, clearly, Giuliani is the agent of the president of the United States. He was there for not any other client. He was there for the president. He was part of the shadow government, and so, so much so, that you've seen the diplomat that come to testify.

CABRERA: Is he there for himself trying to get business?

MEEKS: Well, he might have been trying to do both. He might have been trying -- but the main reason why he was there and the business that he was trying to get on the backs of the president is that he was the president's attorney. And the president directed him to be there and told our diplomats to work through Rudy. And that's why you see so many stepping up and are appalled at what took place, because they know what diplomacy is all about and what was in the best interest of their country, and others will step up.

It's time, and I hear that he may say those who are anonymous that wrote the op-ed in "The New York Times" before and others that are in the government, it's time. It's time to step up and come out and make sure that you are known, because the camera is rolling. Whether you're General Kelly, you listen to all the individuals with integrity that used to work for him. They come back now and tell you how he wanted to do what he wanted to do in a reckless manner and warned him that if he continued, he will get impeached.

CABRERA: Now, this impeachment inquiry officially began with the whistleblower complaint or after that complaint was made public.

Now, we're learning another big report from The New York Times that the president knew about this whistleblower and this report from the whistleblower before releasing the withheld Ukraine aid. What does that tell you? Does that change anything?

MEEKS: Look, it tells you that what the president is engaged in is a cover-up. He knew why he used the words quid pro quo after he got word of the whistleblower and the investigation that was taking place. He's trying to cover up the crimes that he was committing and his abuse of power and his failing to do what his oath of office was not to spend taxpayer dollars or hold up taxpayer dollars for his personal gain, which he was trying to get the president of Ukraine to do. He knew what he was doing. He got caught doing it and trying to cover it up now.

And then he had a report on earlier where he only spent $20,000 before but now that the impeachment inquiry started, he's spent over 2 million to try to fool the American people with more propaganda and propping up his lies. But his lies will be uncovered. And I would hope that my Republican colleagues realize that quickly, because the camera of history is indeed, I repeat, running.

I would not want to be the ones so that if you got grandkids or just have a new grandkid, that they go back and look at this history and see the cover-up that this president is doing and that these individuals who many of them in the beginning told you who this president was. They were accurate. Look at all of them. Lindsey graham, Ted Cruz, Mitt Romney, they told you who he was when he was running.

CABRERA: They're all supporting him now and they are doing so with incredible loyalty. In fact, you had Lindsey Graham the other day saying he doesn't want to look at this evidence until they hear from the whistleblower, that this is basically a baseless investigation.

But let me ask you this. If it weren't impeachment, what about the idea of censure, because that came up this week with your fellow congresswoman, Brenda Lawrence? Would you support going that route to hold this president accountable?

MEEK: I am a patriot. I have a responsibility irrespective of office. I don't care if I lose the office for it. The history will record where I was and what I did when this guy was president of the United States. And I want it to be clear. That's why I love to be on this show and other shows, because I want the record to reflect very much what my position was and why and what I did during this process.

And if this clear obstruction and abuse of power that's unrefuted, the president has a chance to bring forward his witnesses. The chair of the Judiciary Committee has said he wants the president to participate in it. So he has his opportunity. I want the president to let the witnesses testify. Let's really talk about a drive for the truth. The American people should say to the president and the pressure should be on him, let everyone testify. Because if it was anyone else, they would be compelled to testify or take the Fifth or if they won't take the Fifth, they don't do that in front of everyone else.

CABRERA: It's interesting you feel so opposite what you felt during Bill Clinton's impeachment, because you were there. You were a new member of Congress when Bill Clinton was going to be impeached. You did not support impeachment at that time but here you are saying adamantly that you must, you know, uphold your oath of office and impeach this president.

MEEKS: Because of what's at stake. What's at stake is our democracy.

[13:15:00]

You've got individuals, Russia, that try and played into our Democracy. It's the essence of who we are as a country. Bill Clinton was more of a personal matter or personal scenario that did not jeopardize the democracy in our country.

CABRERA: He lied under oath.

MEEKS: Well, this guy has lied several times. It did not jeopardize our democracy, the fabric of who we are, the leadership of who we are around the world. We talk about and tell everyone that they must be diplomatic and we must have democracy and honestly moving forward in our governments and in our institutions. This guy is corrupting our institutions. That's what's on the line here.

CABRERA: Congressman Gregory Meeks, thank you very much for coming in and Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family.

MEEKS: Thank you.

CABRERA: She is one of the president's loudest defenders on television, but why has Fox Host Jeanine Pirro been at the White House the last two days?

Plus, why the 2020 race just became more unpredictable as one candidate rises while another falls?

And two powerful storms standing in the way of millions traveling for the holiday, we'll take you into the heart of the storm.

Plus, will the parade balloons fly? You're looking at live pictures here in New York as they're gearing up for the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.

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CABRERA: Welcome back. If you're traveling in the next 24 hours or so, it could be a doozy. Know Snow, rain and strong winds, more than 19 million people are under some sort of winter weather warning or advisory that could impact Thanksgiving travel plans.

From Oregon to New York, two massive storms are pounding the U.S. causing dangerous road conditions along with delays and cancellations at airports. We're tracking everything you need to know.

Let's start with CNN National Correspondent Ryan Young in Minneapolis for us. And, Ryan, looks like the roads are starting to clear a little bit. Tell us what you've been experiencing there.

RYAN YOUNG, CNN NAITONAL CORRESPONDENT: They are just a little bit but we still have to watch them, because, as you know, Ana, it looked different at one point. Look, the snow came fast. We're talking about nine inches. If you look right here, you can still see some of that impact from the overnight snow.

But the real focus now is on that out there, that slush, which we know turns to ice. Overnight, we saw nearly 200 accidents and 300 spin- outs. So you understand the folks in Minnesota know how to deal with these conditions. They still had trouble driving this morning. It's been improving so far.

I will say this though. Because of the snow mostly falling overnight, what we have figured out though is the impact on the airport has been minimized. In fact, what we heard is that most snow fell had very minor cancellations and, in fact, about 100 delays. That's good news so far.

But the real talk is how much longer before this starts to freeze again because it's very cold, and you mentioned that wind. The wind has been up to about 30 miles per hour. That's the bone chill that you've been feeling throughout this area in terms of the folks who've been walking by us have even commented about that. Not super cold but cold enough to create more conditions on the road.

So As we look forward to folks who travel home, they're hoping that it remains sort of like this and we don't have a second impact of snow so they can get home and be safe. I'd like to see how it turns out. Ana?

CABRERA: Okay. Well, I see that wind whipping, Ryan. Go get warm. Take your mind to Miami or to Tampa or somewhere in Florida right now because they're in the 70s and 80s, as it's showing, that little box on the corner of the screen.

YOUNG: Absolutely.

CABRERA: See you later, Ryan. Happy Thanksgiving, my friend. Meantime, strong winds are threatening to ground the balloons at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. The floats and the band will march tomorrow, of course, but will the 16 large character balloons fly?

CNN's Brynn Gingras is on the ground for us in New York, where those balloons are being inflated. Brynn, what are the officials saying about the chances they actually fly tomorrow?

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: All right. And, I'm going to give it to you straight, okay? The NYPD is the one who gets to make this final call and the official word is it's a game time decision. You'll hear that over and over again when it comes to these balloons. I've done this story so many times. It's always a Thanksgiving Day decision. But we just have to wait for tomorrow.

But, hey, there are some factors that come into play. But as I explain that to you, I kind of want to give you a look at what we're seeing here because my inner child is freaking out right now. This is Astronaut Snoopy. This is definitely a crowd-favorite. And I just talked to one of these guys who have been in inflating them, Snoopy is almost fully inflated.

So I want to walked down here just a little bit because you can see we've got a whole street full of balloons that are still going to be inflated for tomorrow's parade. It doesn't matter what the wind are. They are still going to be inflated tonight.

Now, the numbers, Ana, 23 miles per winds, 34 miles per wind gusts. Those are numbers that the NYPD tracks as they look as to whether or not these balloons need to come down because of a safety issue. There have been issues in the past and that's why they track this. But there is a back-up plan to a back-up plan to a back-up plan.

Some of these balloons can fly as high as 55 feet in the air and they just lower them down to about ten feet having all these helpers walking them on the ground to make it a little bit safer. On top of that, there are actually NYPD members that walk with these balloon handlers on the parade route tomorrow and will have machines in their hands tracking wind gusts.

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So, again, there's a lot of factors that go into that big question that 1 million that come here to see the inflation (ph) are asking, but we'll know more tomorrow, Ana, and we'll certainly be tracking that for you guys.

CABRERA: Okay. We'll keep an eye on that one. Thank you, Brynn.

Let's bring in Meteorologist Ivan Cabrera in the CNN Weather Center.

Ivan, we're talking about a couple of different of storms here. Fill us in on who could get hit the hardest and how long these storms are going to impact people.

IVAN CABRERA, CNN METEOROLOGIST: A couple of storms, and you and I could be late to Grandma Cabrera's house. That will be terrible. Just kidding. We're work siblings.

All right, let's check in on storm number one. As you saw Ryan there, we're in the clear, I think, at this point for Minneapolis. That's storm number one. The worst of it right now is going to be wind, not so much the snow or the rain, yet still a little bit here but that's is going to be the problem unless you're driving in areas where it hadn't treated (ph) and, of course, you're up in Minnesota and most of them have.

All right, here, the winds anywhere from 50 to 55 miles an hour, sure, gust is 65. But right now, that has not materialized, and so the airports are doing pretty well across the Midwest and even into the east coast.

But I want to focus on storm numero dos, because is the one that is I think going to be wreaking havoc we're having because it's going to be happening on Sunday, as we all try to get back from grandma or grandpa, it's 2019, right, whoever is cooking out there, they're going to be glad to see you go.

But wherever you're going, you're probably going to be late because this storm has the potential to impact a good chunk of the country. We're talking torrential amounts rain cold enough for snow in New Mexico, in Colorado, and then heading up to the north, into the north central plains and eventually the Midwest.

Here is the issue. By Sunday afternoon, we could be looking at significant rain across all the airports in the east, intense winds as well. And then look at this. I'll put this in a motion to be able to see. I'll leave you with this big question mark. Will the snow get close enough to Boston to start accumulating here? That's something we're going to have to fine-tune over the next few days.

But all in all, I think Black Friday and Saturday look good. It's way back that's going to be an issue on Sunday. Ana?

CABRERA: Okay, thank you. We know you'll keep an eye on that. Ivan Cabrera, good to see.

Former Fox -- I should say, Fox Host and one of the president's biggest defenders showing up at the White House over the past two days. The question is why.

Plus, more on our breaking news, Rudy Giuliani reportedly pursued business contracts with Ukrainian officials as he pushed investigations into the president's rivals.

Stay with us.

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