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Anthony Scaramucci Weighs In On Impeachment, Ukraine, and Lisa Page; Sen. Gary Peters (D-MI) Discusses House Judiciary Calls For Adam Schiff To Testify; How Melania Trump Compares To Past First Ladies. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired December 2, 2019 - 07:30   ET

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


[07:30:00]

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: -- one of the things you're referring to is what Sen. John Kennedy of Louisiana said again this weekend about Ukraine. Somehow he is equating Ukraine and the politicians there -- maybe being concerned about Donald Trump as a candidate because they thought that he was in bed with Russia -- with Russia interfering through cyberattacks in our election.

What did you think when you heard him say that again?

ANTHONY SCARAMUCCI, FORMER WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR, MEMBER, PRESIDENTIAL TRANSITION TEAM EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE: Well, I mean, I think -- I think it's frustrating. I -- again, I understand the strategy. I understand why they're doing it.

But again, what I'm calling into question is the rationality -- the historical rationality because in five years from now people are going to look back and say what exactly were you doing? You had a fever going on related to President Trump.

The guy broke the law. He's a traitor to the Constitution of the United States. You took an oath to the Constitution and so you're going to disavow your own oath of the Constitution for him? OK, why are you doing that?

You see what I'm saying?

CAMEROTA: But do you keep saying --

SCARAMUCCI: So that's the issue.

CAMEROTA: -- five years from now because you think that he's going to win a second term?

SCARAMUCCI: No. Well, he could -- he could -- like I -- I've said this consistently and I've been very surprised by this. When you and I first talked about this in August, I said the guy's nuts, he's going to do something really stupid, it's a Trump noble meltdown, and all of that unfolded.

They didn't get O.J. on the original murder but they got him on the sports memorabilia, OK? This is like classically what President Trump has done, OK? So he's

been caught now in the Ukraine scandal and his only defense right now is if he can just get the Republicans to hold the line and accept his illegality.

And so what's at risk right now is the American voter. Fifty percent of them, right now, say they want him impeached and removed from office.

More information comes out. I think Speaker Pelosi's going to be correct about this. As more information comes out, I think it has to go to 60 or possibly 65 percent.

I would have thought -- and this was my surprise because I've read the Constitution and took constitutional law -- I thought that these guys had took an oath to that Constitution. It's been sacred and it's worked so well for so many years for so many people. I would have thought those people that took that oath would have said OK, look, I'm not going to disavow the oath to the Constitution.

But now you've got a group of -- they're like Vichy Republicans --

CAMEROTA: What?

SCARAMUCCI: -- I would say. You remember the Vichy Republic -- the -- OK, so when --

CAMEROTA: Tell me more.

SCARAMUCCI: OK, so when Hitler took over Paris and took over France there was a Vichy group of French that were helping him administrate the French government.

CAMEROTA: I mean, that's really strong. I mean, that's really a strong --

SCARAMUCCI: And they're like Vichy Republicans. Yes -- no, they're --

CAMEROTA: That's a strong charge. I mean, in the meaning (ph).

SCARAMUCCI: Well, I don't -- I'm not -- I'm not comparing anybody to Hitler. I'm not suggesting that. I'm just suggesting that they're falling in line in a way that is absolutely despicable --

CAMEROTA: I --

SCARAMUCCI: -- as it relates to the Constitution.

CAMEROTA: I want to ask you about this -- Lisa Page, a name that has become something of a household name because President Trump has talked about her so much. She was the FBI attorney, as we all know, who has been accused of being part of some sort of conspiracy or deep state because she and Peter Strzok didn't like Donald Trump, I think is fair to say. She is speaking out for the first time. She has an interview in the "The Daily Beast" and she says she has kept her silence while President Trump has insulted her. All of these years she has kept her silence and not gone public.

And she says that she reached the breaking point, and what made her reach the breaking point now and why she's now speaking out was watching President Trump -- and I can't believe I'm about to say this -- a U.S. president, simulate a sex act at one of his rallies.

Watch this moment.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I love you, Peter. I love you, too, Lisa. Lisa, I love you. Lisa, Lisa -- oh God, I love you, Lisa. And if she doesn't win, Lisa, we've got an insurance policy, Lisa.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CAMEROTA: That was the President of the United States.

SCARAMUCCI: I just want to thank the control room for getting the close-up on my face. (INAUDIBLE) sex acts.

CAMEROTA: What were you thinking while you were just --

SCARAMUCCI: OK, thanks, guys.

CAMEROTA: What were you thinking?

SCARAMUCCI: That's, like, revolting.

Look, I mean, but the guy -- here's the thing, OK. The guy -- he's entranced about 35 to 40 percent of the people, OK, with this sort of nonsense. Some of them are afraid of him, some of them like the antics, some of them use him as an avatar for their anger against the establishment.

But, you know, the truth of the matter is the system has roughly worked for a very large group of people. Is it a perfect system? It is not. Is it a system that needs progress and reform? It absolutely does.

But what the president has done is he's broken the law and you're either going to accept that he's broken the law -- you're going to put him above the law, which is going to totally be dangerous --

CAMEROTA: The law that you're talking about is asking for a foreign country's interference -- allowing a foreign country to interfere in our elections.

SCARAMUCCI: He's bribing -- he's bribing the Ukrainian president for his own personal gain, OK? That's literally what Hamilton wrote -- the Federalist papers, 65. He

said you can't be in a situation where the chief executive could use the office for his personal gain. It's just right there in the -- in the article, OK?

CAMEROTA: Very quickly, I just want to say one more thing about Lisa Page in terms of the substance of what is motivating her. She says that, you know, this I.G. report is coming out next week --

[07:35:06]

SCARAMUCCI: What?

CAMEROTA: -- and she believes that she will be exonerated.

I want to quickly read what she wrote in "The Daily Beast." "While it would be nice to have the I.G. confirm publicly that my personal opinions had absolutely no bearing on the course of the Russia investigations, I don't kid myself that the fact will matter very much for a lot of people. The president has a very loud megaphone."

SCARAMUCCI: Oh, I mean, here's what I would say. There's many people that are still in the president's web that feel the exact same way as Lisa Page and so I applaud her for doing that.

And I would just say to you if you're watching this program right now and you're in the president's web and you know he's a very illegal, very nefarious guy, speak out, OK? It's the Christmas season. You'll be doing a very good thing for your country and you'd be -- a very good -- a very good thing for the world, actually, so just speak out.

And I applaud Lisa Page for doing it but I also understand why she didn't do it sooner because it is very intimidating until it's not intimidating. And then all of a sudden you realize, wait a minute, OK, I've got a job to do here and I'm going to be profile in courage as opposed to these guys in the Congress that are profiles in cowardice.

CAMEROTA: The phone lines are open.

SCARAMUCCI: OK.

CAMEROTA: Anthony, we'll take your phone call.

SCARAMUCCI: Hey, no more close-ups with the revolting fake orgasms, though, please, OK?

CAMEROTA: Thank you.

SCARAMUCCI: I mean, that was horrifying.

CAMEROTA: Thank you very much for that, Anthony.

SCARAMUCCI: All right.

CAMEROTA: Great to see you -- Jim. JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: A critical week ahead for the impeachment inquiry. And, red-state Democrats -- one of the two Democratic senators up for reelection in a state President Trump carried in 2016 will face some tough questions. He joins us, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[07:40:45]

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. DOUG COLLINS (R-GA): The first person who needs to testify is Adam Schiff. Adam Schiff is the author of this report. And if he chooses not to, then I really question his veracity and what he's putting in his report. I question his -- you know, the motives of why he's doing it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCIUTTO: That is the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, Doug Collins. He's joining other Republicans piling on Intelligence Committee chairman Adam Schiff. The GOP claims Schiff had inappropriate contact with the whistleblower whose complaint sparked the impeachment investigation.

Joining me now is Democratic Sen. Gary Peters. He is on the bipartisan whistleblower protection caucus. Senator, thanks so much for taking the time this morning.

SEN. GARY PETERS (D-MI): Great to be with you. Thank you.

SCIUTTO: Now, as you know, this allegation against Schiff is one of the many debunked allegations from Republicans regarding the impeachment inquiry. Schiff, himself, did not have contact with the whistleblower, to our knowledge. The whistleblower reached out to the committee, the committee referred the whistleblower to proper channels here.

Do you, though, believe that Schiff might want to testify to face the questions and clear the air?

PETERS: That will be up to Chairman Schiff as to whether or not he wants to do this.

But, you know, it seems to me what we're seeing is just the continued pattern of trying to distract from the real facts. I mean, this is a very, very serious situation. The facts that have come out through the hearings, I think are very damaging to the president.

I think what we'd like to see and I think what the American people would like to see is what is the counterargument that the White House has as opposed to always debating the process and saying that this is not being done properly. In fact, they're going to be given a chance to come forward in the Judiciary Committee to have their attorneys present. They seem to be punting on that as well.

I think we need to be focused on the facts. And I understand the White House --

SCIUTTO: OK.

PETERS: -- may believe the facts aren't on their side and they're trying to distract.

SCIUTTO: Well, one not so much counterargument but counterattack is, of course, to go after the whistleblower here. You're part of the bipartisan committee --

PETERS: Right.

SCIUTTO: -- on whistleblowers and you have had Republican support. Chuck Grassley saying that the whistleblower's identity needs to be protected here. But, Republicans continue to push.

I wonder, do you believe that makes it less likely for whistleblowers to come out in the future, knowing that there might be a deliberate effort to out them even though the law provides protections for their identity?

PETERS: Well, I am -- I'm very worried about that.

I'm ranking member on Homeland Security and Government Affairs. As you know, we're the top oversight committee for the U.S. Senate and we oversee the federal government and we rely on whistleblowers to come forward to say that something is not right here. And then we go in and investigate to determine whether or not it is true.

Whistleblowers are absolutely essential to keep the federal government accountable to the American people. It's something that has to be protected, has to be safeguarded.

Whistleblowers already take a tremendous risk when they come forward. They risk their jobs, their career. It can be very intimidating. And to make it appear as if that veil could be punctured is very, very damaging to whistleblowers and holding the federal government accountable to the American people.

SCIUTTO: As you know, as well as me, the impeachment process is as much a political process as it is a legal, constitutional one here. You are a Democrat who won in a red state and is now running for reelection in a red state -- a state that Donald Trump won by a wide margin here.

Do you believe that given that public opinion on impeachment did not move significantly, if at all, after public hearings, that you and other Democrats in tough districts and states will pay a political price for this?

PETERS: Well, you know, I'm going to wait to see if the articles of impeachment are actually drafted -- if they come to the Senate. As you know, I'll be one of 100 jurors that will sit and listen to those facts and make a decision. And I just hope that we all focus on the facts. This is a very important and very serious constitutional issue. We have to be divorced from the politics and I know that's extremely

difficult in this hyperpartisan environment. But we owe it to the Constitution and we owe it to the precedent that will be set for future presidencies as well. These are -- these are bigger issues than the politics of the day and it's up to all of us in the U.S. Senate to rise above that, and I hope that happens.

SCIUTTO: As I'm sure you are aware, your Republican colleague, Sen. John Kennedy, yet again, is propagating -- peddling a conspiracy theory about Ukrainian interference in the election based on a whole host of debunked theories and bases.

[07:45:00]

I just wonder, given that we know and senators have been briefed on how this conspiracy theory was planted and promoted by Russian intelligence, specifically to divert attention away from Russia, if you believe that Sen. Kennedy and others like him are in effect helping Russia here and hurting the U.S. by continuing to talk about these conspiracies?

PETERS: Well, I'm very disappointed with what -- with what I've heard. It's very clear the Russian interference in the election -- we have a consensus of all of our intelligence agencies that have come forward.

I'm a member of the Armed Services Committee. We've had detailed briefings on Russian activities. This is -- this is very clear that this is what happened. We have to rely on our intelligence folks, which are highly professional individuals.

And to peddle conspiracy theories that basically mouth propaganda being put out by the Russians is very damaging to national security.

SCIUTTO: Yes.

Senator Peters, we appreciate having you on the show this morning.

PETERS: Great to be with you. Thank you.

CAMEROTA: All right, Jim.

Now to a totally different topic -- Black Friday numbers set records. Will Cyber Monday match that? We have the numbers, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[07:50:42]

CAMEROTA: Time for "CNN Business Now." Black Friday shoppers smashed online spending records. Will Cyber Monday do the same?

Chief business correspondent Christine Romans joins us with more. Really?

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT, ANCHOR, "EARLY START": Yes, you know, the American consumer is just a powerhouse here.

And the smartphone is transforming the annual American ritual of showing your thanks by spending money. Shoppers spent a record $7.4 billion online Black Friday -- $2.9 billion of that was on smartphones. That's the biggest day ever for mobile sales.

Americans shopping on their phones meant fewer people heading out to physical stores. Foot traffic fell six percent. That's the third year of decline.

Today's Cyber Monday is poised to be even bigger. Online sales forecast to -- get this -- $9.4 billion. That will be the biggest online shopping day ever. The biggest categories are beauty items, toys, and some electronics -- especially TVs.

Online shopping is transforming the retail industry. Walmart, Target, and Best Buy -- they're all investing heavily in e-commerce and it's paying off. And stores now act as pickup locations for online sales and also serve as warehouses for those online orders.

But, you guys, the American consumer very confident here, spending money here. The stock market up 25 percent this year, the job market is strong. You're not seeing that kind of optimism from businesses.

CAMEROTA: Why?

ROMANS: They're not spending so much because of the trade war and still, uncertainty over where this trade war with China will go. But the consumer, at least, doing very, very well here.

CAMEROTA: Christine, thank you --

ROMANS: You're welcome.

CAMEROTA: -- very much.

SCIUTTO: Well, it was a tiny change, though with huge consequences. Apple has decided to make its map app show that Crimea is a part of Russia. It's not -- it was legally annexed by military means. It's not the first time an American company caved to the whims of an autocratic regime.

John Avlon has your reality check.

JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: That's right, guys.

Look, Apple is an innovation icon, the great American company, but its $2.5 billion investment in affordable housing got overshadowed big- time by its recent decision to roll over for Vladimir Putin and make Crimea part of Russia in its map apps.

And it's totally appropriate they caught flack for that because the issue isn't whether they were complying with a local law for people viewing maps in Russia, which is what they told Reuters. It's that this is just the latest example of a major company agreeing to reinforce reality-challenged propaganda. In this case, the Russian lie that Crimea, which was annexed from

Ukraine under military force in 2014, is part of the Kremlin's empire. And it echoes a pattern of capitulation we've seen.

I'm talking, in particular, about China's insistence that U.S. air carriers change their Web sites to erase any mention of Taiwan or less access to the Chinese market. Now, a couple of companies tried to hold out but they ultimately bowed to the demands the one-China policy overwhelmed the reality of nearly 24 million free people living in Taiwan.

Now, the Trump White House slammed the power play as Orwellian nonsense, part of a growing trend by the Chinese Communist Party to impose its political views on American citizens and private companies.

This is true. Just look at the Gap apologizing for a t-shirt that omitted Taiwan from China. Mercedes-Benz apologizing for the sin of quoting the Dalai Lama in an Instagram ad. Or even more sinister, Marriott Hotels firing an hourly employee just for liking a tweet about free Tibet.

And when the Houston Rockets general manager tweeted his support for pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, China demanded he be fired. A troll mob descended on social media, Rockets merchandise suddenly disappeared from Chinese stores, and the general manager soon apologized.

But let's be honest, this isn't about apologies. This is about trying to change behavior, silencing dissent overseas as well as at home using the cudgel of money.

Days after the Houston Rockets flap, South Park released an episode mocking China's growing influence in Hollywood. That includes the banning of Winnie the Pooh because Chinese leader Xi Jinping has been accused of looking like him by protesters and John Oliver. So, the South Park episode, called "Banned in China," was summarily banned in China and the entire series scrubbed from the Internet over there.

But it's also incidents like the brief banning of this girl's TikTok account after she tried to educate viewers about the nearly-two million Uighurs currently in detention camps that China calls vocational training centers.

We are watching an old drama play out -- the drama of power and ethics. And ethics has been losing a few rounds lately excused by rationalizations about smoothing tensions and not wanting to offend different cultures. But don't be fooled. Boil it all down and it's about autocrats using fear and greed to overwhelm freedom.

[07:55:09]

As the great song "Me and Bobby McGee" reminded us, freedom's just another word for nothin' left to lose, and these companies fear there is a lot of money left to lose when it comes to China.

Now, this is a jump ball moment because the more they cave, the more it will create a new normal where autocrats' demands can cause American companies to parrot their propaganda.

And that's your reality check.

CAMEROTA: John, such an important reality check for everybody --

SCIUTTO: Very important.

CAMEROTA: -- to understand what's going on. Thank you very much.

OK, now to this. First Lady Melania Trump unveiling this year's White House Christmas decorations. It's nice to get a look at these -- lovely. This display is called the "Spirit of America." It features glittering Christmas trees, snow, and red, white, and blue decorations.

And, CNN's Kate Bennett is the author of "Free, Melania." That's a new book about a very private first lady. Kate takes us inside the White House to show us how Mrs. Trump compares to past first ladies.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KATE BENNETT, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, AUTHOR, "FREE, MELANIA" (voice-over): First ladies are often judged by their public image despite what they may actually be like in private.

Barbara Bush, though frequently opinionated --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: America loves Barbara Bush.

BENNETT (voice-over): -- was beloved for her grandmotherly persona.

Hillary Clinton privately engaged in cultural improvements at the White House but dubbed a meddler in West Wing policy.

HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm here as an American citizen concerned about the health of her family and the health of her nation.

BENNETT (voice-over): Michelle Obama not necessarily in love with restrictions of White House life --

MICHELLE OBAMA, FORMER FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES: Turnip for what?

BENNETT (voice-over): -- but publicly viewed as an open and friendly first lady.

But, Melania Trump, almost three years in, remains something of a mystery -- from the start, an ambiguous participant. It was clear she had to fend for herself. A reluctant entrance to public life --

MELANIA TRUMP, FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES: Hello, Iowa.

BENNETT (voice-over): -- fewer events, a smaller staff, and a lower profile. However, with Melania Trump, the flares of independence crossed from private to public, unique to a modern first lady, defining her as a spouse not joined at the hip with President Trump as her spokeswoman once described her to CNN.

She tweeted and released statements on her own without Trump's approval, sometimes in direct opposition to his. Taking her own motorcades, canceling a joint trip when headlines about alleged infidelities arose, with more rumors about how she lives and where lives.

REPORTER: There are persistent rumors that Mrs. Trump does not live in this White House.

SARAH SANDERS, FORMER WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: That is an outrageous and ridiculous claim.

BENNETT (voice-over): Melania and Donald Trump are a rare first couple, living in separate bedrooms, according to sources familiar, while the first lady resides on a different floor in the White House residence.

At times, also expressing a different opinion from her husband, Donald Trump.

M. TRUMP: We have two independent people thinking on their own and have a very open conversation.

BENNETT (voice-over): She has faltered -- that jacket.

M. TRUMP: I wish people would focus on what I do, not what I wear.

BENNETT (voice-over): But she has also found some footing, learned how to steal the spotlight, wield her significant influence -- remember that call for the firing of a West Wing aide -- and find her professional comfort zone. Detached, aloof, possibly -- always with little regard for how first ladies before her have handled the job.

M. TRUMP: I don't feel like a prisoner, no -- I'm enjoying it. And this will not last forever and it's a very special time.

BENNETT (voice-over): Kate Bennett, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CAMEROTA: A really interesting look.

SCIUTTO: Yes.

CAMEROTA: And I do find it interesting when the first lady says I wish people would focus on what I do, not what I wear, as she's dressed as Annie Hall or whatever -- in whatever outfit that was.

You can just stay quiet, Jim, and I -- and I allow you --

SCIUTTO: I've learned. CAMEROTA: -- to -- yes, that is actually the most wise --

SCIUTTO: Yes.

CAMEROTA: -- tact.

Thanks to our international viewers for watching. For you, "CNN NEWSROOM" with Christina Mcfarlane is next.

For our U.S. viewers, the president's lawyers say no thank you to the invitation to participate in Wednesday's impeachment hearing. Let's get right to it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Deadly weather marches across the U.S.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We knew if we got stranded, we kind of prepared for that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The same system that brought heavy snow to the Northern Plains is now shifting to the northeast.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The White House responded to House Judiciary chairman Jerry Nadler's offer to let the White House have a lawyer present at Wednesday's hearing and the White House will not be sending an attorney.

REP. TOM MCCLINTOCK (R-CA): I think it would be to the president's advantage to have his attorneys there.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Speaker Pelosi has --