Return to Transcripts main page
At This Hour
Vice President Harris Meets with Mexican President to Address Migration; CNN Obtains 2019 Audio of Giuliani Pressuring Ukrainian Officials to Announce Biden Probe in Exchange for Improved Relations; Colonial Pipeline CEO Stands By Decision to Shut Down Pipeline. Aired 11:30a-12p ET
Aired June 08, 2021 - 11:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN AT THIS HOUR: Developing at this hour, Vice President Kamala Harris is in Mexico, the final stop on her high- stakes mission to try and stem the record flow of migrants to the United States.
During her first stop in Guatemala, the vice president issued a very blunt message.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KAMALA HARRIS, U.S. VICE PRESIDENT: I want to be clear to folks in this region thinking about making that dangerous trek to the United States-Mexico border, do not come, do not come.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: CNN's Jeremy Diamond is live in Mexico City following the V.P. Jeremy, Harris is meeting with Mexico's president right now. What all are you expecting?
JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, listen, we saw already Vice President Harris arriving to meet with the Mexican president. U.S. official and a Mexican official signing this memorandum of understanding outlining essentially cooperation between the U.S. and Mexico in terms of stemming the migration that is mainly coming from if Central America through Mexico to the United States.
This is a memorandum of understanding that is going to be security cooperation on development fronts, on security cooperation, and that is going to be the focus of this bilateral meeting between the vice president and Mexican president, which is under way right now as we speak.
What is interesting here, and this is something that the U.S. special envoy for the northern triangle outlined last night to reporters, is that there is this increasing alignment between the U.S. and Mexico on the priority and the importance of tackling the root causes of migration. And that is because while the U.S. remains a destination country for those migrants, Mexico has increasingly become not only a transit country but also a destination country for many of those Central American migrants.
At the same time, there are these messaging issues. You heard the vice president making that very clear, unequivocal message in Guatemala, one of those countries where you're seeing tens of thousands of migrants coming to the United States every single month saying, do not come, and then also struggling to answer this question of why she has not come to the U.S. -- visited the U.S.-Mexico border yet, offering a flip answer, frankly, saying that she hasn't been to Europe either. That, of course, wasn't exactly the question.
What is clear is that the vice president is focused on her mission addressing the root causes of migration, not necessarily going to the U.S.-Mexico border.
BOLDUAN: Jeremy Diamond, good to see you. Thank you.
BOLDUAN: Coming up for us, a CNN exclusive. For the first time, you're going to hear Rudy Giuliani in his own words pressuring Ukraine to investigate conspiracy theories about Joe Biden.
BOLDUAN: Now to another CNN exclusive, never before heard audio of a 2019 phone call, Rudy Giuliani in his own words on tape, pressuring Ukraine's government to investigate baseless conspiracies about then- candidate Joe Biden.
You'll recall allegation that's Trump pressured the Ukrainian leadership to investigate his political rival in exchange for better relations and military aid. It later became a central focus of his first impeachment.
CNN's Matthew Chance has this exclusive report.
REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE), what exactly did you mean?
RUDY GIULIANI, DONALD TRUMP'S FORMER PERSONAL ATTORNEY: Meaning meddling in the election.
MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): It was the coal that set events in motion.
KURT VOLKER, U.S. DIPLOMAT: Okay, we should have on the line America's major, Mayor Giuliani, and we have Andriy Yermak.
CHANCE: Thrusting a reluctant Ukraine into America's divided politics. We already know through transcripts and testimony Giuliani pressured them to announce investigations important to then President Trump. But this is the first time we've heard his actual voice. GIULIANI: I want very much to see that our two countries are able to work together.
CHANCE: Giuliani cajoled the Ukrainian presidential adviser on the other end of the line, first promoting debunked conspiracy theories that Ukraine, not Russia, was involved in U.S. election meddling in 2016 and tried to hurt the Trump campaign.
GIULIANI: Way back in last November, I got information from a reliable investigator, international investigator, that there was certain amount of activity in Ukraine during the 2016 election that was -- that involved Ukrainian officials and Ukrainian -- mostly officials being asked by our embassy possibly by other American officials.
Basically, the statement was to produce dirt on then-Candidate Trump and Paul Manafort.
CHANCE: By the time of the call in July 2019, Joe Biden had already emerged as the Democratic Party's frontrunner to challenge President Trump, digging up dirt on Biden, like the unfounded allegations of corrupt dealings in Ukraine when he was vice president had become a priority for Trump and his longtime adviser.
Throughout the roughly 40-minute call, Giuliani repeatedly pressed the Ukrainian leadership to publicly announce investigations into this too, something that would have undoubtedly benefitted Trump's re- election campaign and damaged Candidate Biden.
Listen to how Giuliani sets out what's required.
GIULIANI: And all we need -- all we need from the president is to say, I'm going to put an honest prosecutor in charge, he's going to investigate and dig up the evidence that presently exists and is there any other evidence about involvement in the 2016 election. And then the Biden thing has to be run out.
I don't know if it's true or not. I mean, I see -- I see him bragging about it on television. And to me as a lawyer -- to me as a lawyer, it sounds like a bribe. Somebody in Ukraine has got to take that seriously.
CHANCE: In the Ukrainian presidential office, they took it very seriously. Then there's now the country was fighting a desperate war against Russian-backed rebels in its east and heavily depended on U.S. weapons and military aid to hold its ground, including millions of dollars that had been frozen by the Trump administration while Giuliani pursued these political investigations.
Mindful of the need of a strong relationship with Washington, the Ukrainian presidential adviser on the call tried to assure Giuliani investigations he wanted would be looked at.
ANDRIY YERMAK, HEAD OF THE OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT OF UKRAINE: And we'll be ready this day immediately communicated to coordinate, to work and investigate everything which you listed.
CHANCE: But, privately, Ukrainian officials say they were alarmed that being sucked into American politics, especially when Giuliani repeatedly suggested compliance would open the door to closer U.S.- Ukrainian ties, even a presidential meeting, undermining the former U.S. president's assertions that he never sought political favors from Ukraine to secure U.S. support, so-called quid pro quo.
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: I want nothing. I want nothing. I want no quid pro quo.
CHANCE: Now we can hear Giuliani set out his offer.
GIULIANI: So, if he could make some statement at the right time that he supports a fair, honest law enforcement system and that these investigations go wherever they have to go, going to be run by honest people, that would clear the air really well. And I think it would make it possible for me to come and make it possible, I think, for me to talk to the president and see what I can do about making sure that whatever misunderstandings are put aside and maybe even, I kind of that this could be a good thing for having a much better relationship where we really understand each other.
CHANCE: One former Ukrainian official who was listening in on the call understood all too well. He spoke to CNN last month of his outrage as he heard Giuliani try to force a deal that in his words threatened Ukraine's national security.
IGOR NOVIKOV, FORMER ADVISER TO UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT ZELENSKY: Let me remind you, we're a country fighting an active war with Russia for many years. So, anything to do with swapping, you know, favors within our bilateral relationship in exchange for trying to get us involved into U.S. domestic politics is just wrong on many levels, morally, ethically and probably even legally.
CHANCE: By call's end, the Ukrainian side seemed to understand exactly what President Zelensky of Ukraine was expected to do, to keep Washington on the side and on the call at least they agreed.
YERMAK: I'm sure that Zelensky will say that, yes.
VOLKER: Yes, good.
GIULIANI: Second, boy, that would -- that would -- believe me, Andriy, that would -- that would be good for all of us.
CHANCE: Giuliani has denied any wrongdoing in Ukraine and says he was just trying to help his personal client, Trump.
It was, of course, this and other aggressive attempts to coax Ukraine vigorously denied by then administration officials that led to former President Trump's first impeachment, in which he was eventually acquitted by the U.S. Senate. It's hard to know if actually hearing Giuliani relentlessly pressing Ukraine like this -- GIULIANI: If he could say something like that, on his own, in conversation, it would go a long way. It would go a long way with the president to solve the problems.
CHANCE: -- would have in any way influenced the outcome of the impeachment vote.
CHANCE (on camera): Well, Kate, of course, the Ukrainians never did enact any investigation into 2016 election meddling or, of course, into Joe Biden and they paid a price for it. Even though the White House moved to unfreeze the military aid it had froze in the Trump administration, President Zelensky of Ukraine, he never got that invitation to the White House, not until yesterday, of course, when he announced that, finally, two years after this call he's been invited to the White House in July by President Biden.
BOLDUAN: Fantastic reporting. Matthew Chance, thank you so much.
Still ahead for us, the CEO of Colonial Pipeline testifies on the ransomware attack that shut down operations and set off a gas shortage in multiple states, defending the decision to pay ransom to the hackers, that's next.
BOLDUAN: This morning, the Colonial Pipeline CEO is facing lawmakers for the first time since his company was hit with a massive ransomware attack, which, of course, you'll remember forced it to shut down operations on a critical fuel line for nearly a week. The CEO today defending that decision and the decision to pay millions in cryptocurrency in ransom to the hackers. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): Our colleagues' latest findings should guide the entire institution's ongoing security review. Today's report is one of the many reasons I am confident in the ability of the existing investigations to uncover all actionable facts about the events of January 6th.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: Clearly, that is Mitch McConnell, not the Colonial Pipeline CEO.
Joining me right now, regardless, is James Clapper, the former director of National Intelligence, he's the CNN National Security Analyst. It's good to see you, Director, thank you for being here.
JAMES CLAPPER, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Thanks for having me, Kate. BOLDUAN: The testimony from the Colonial CEO today, just in general, it gets at the bigger challenge of these ransomware attacks. The need for information-sharing between private companies and the federal government in a way that can be really uncomfortable for private companies, of course, on some level what this comes down to is whose job is it to try to make this stop because it's coming more and more and more. What do you think?
CLAPPER: Well, Kate, I think it's -- the answer is all the above. A company's private entities certainly have a responsibility to do all they can in a defensive way to defend against and to be prepared if they are struck by a ransomware demand, and to be resilient to recover, keep their data separate, do table tops exercises and all that sort of thing. And so I think it's perfectly legitimate for a hearing, the members of Congress to ask about what defensive measures that Colonial Pipeline had introduced.
But I also think the government has an obligation to be more aggressive about pursuing ransomware practitioners and to extract pain because that's what's going to stop this when their source of funding drives up. So I think the answer to your question is, it's a shared responsibility.
BOLDUAN: And kind of getting to that, Lisa Monaco, top Justice Department official, she offered a very strong warning to companies in light of all of this. Let me play what she said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LISA MONACO, DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL: The threat of severe ransomware attacks pose a clear and present danger to your organization, to your company, to your customers, to your shareholders and to your long-term success. So pay attention now, invest resources now. Failure to do so could be the difference between being secure now or a victim later.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: It was a pretty blunt statement from Lisa Monaco. What did you think of this?
CLAPPER: Well, I think Lisa is right to exhort the companies to do all they can to defend. I think it would have been good to add what the government is going to do to be more aggressive about pursuing ransomware practitioners, if I can call them that, criminals, hacktivists, as they just did when they recovered, I think, 2.3 million of the $4 million that Colonial Pipeline paid. There needs to be a lot more of that and it needs to be publicized.
But I think she's correct. Companies, particularly as they are a part of our critical infrastructure, need to make the investment and the time and devote the energy to defense and resilience.
BOLDUAN: And with so much of this originating out of Russia, how do you think Joe Biden should handle this very important issue when he meets with Putin in eight days from now? [11:55:01]
CLAPPER: Well, I'm quite sure that President Biden is going to make it crystal clear to President Putin that such behavior is unacceptable and trying to hide behind the guise that these are criminals and we don't control is baloney. And if they don't, then that's sad commentary on Russia.
So I think he'll put it to him and I doubt that President Biden will side with President Putin who will deny all.
BOLDUAN: Yes, much different with this president versus the last. Helsinki 2.0, this will not be. It's good to see you, Director Clapper, thank you very much.
CLAPPER: Thank you.
BOLDUAN: And thank you all so much for joining me at this hour. I'm Kate Bolduan. John King picks up after this break.