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State of the Union
Interview With Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN); Interview With Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI). Aired 9-10a ET
Aired November 10, 2019 - 09:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST (voice-over): Wall to wall. The impeachment inquiry enters a new public phase. Americans will hear for themselves the allegations against President Trump.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm not concerned about anything.
TAPPER: Will televised hearings change that?
And the buck stops where? Top officials suggest the quid pro quo went all the way up to the White House acting chief of staff.
MICK MULVANEY, ACTING WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: We do that all of the time. Get over it.
TAPPER: And a former adviser signals he could reveal new information. So who was directing the U.S. stance towards Ukraine?
I will speak to Republican Senator Ron Johnson next.
Plus, room to grow? A surprise announcement shakes up the 2020 presidential race, as former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg makes a play for the Democratic nomination. Is he right to doubt the 2020 contenders?
SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We have to make sure that we have a candidate that brings people with us.
TAPPER: Presidential candidate Senator Amy Klobuchar joins me to discuss next.
TAPPER: Hello. I'm Jake Tapper in Washington, where the state of our union is on the brink.
Today is the beginning of what could be a pivotal week in the impeachment inquiry, when Americans will get to hear for the first time directly from three witnesses at the center of the investigation.
The public hearings are set to begin after the release of transcripts showing two key witnesses, National Security Council staffers Dr. Fiona Hill, who has since left the White House, and Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman, testified that they were told that the push to get Ukraine to open investigations into the Bidens and the 2016 election was coordinated by acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney.
On Friday, Mulvaney defied a congressional subpoena, refusing to testify, instead asking to join a lawsuit that will settle whether certain current and former White House officials can be forced to testify.
This could set up a potential constitutional crisis, as the White House exerts executive privilege over some of the witnesses Congress believes -- Democrats in Congress believe are the most crucial to its investigation.
Republicans are also giving some new clues into their strategy. They have released a list of witnesses that they want called to publicly testify as part of the inquiry, including Hunter Biden and the whistle-blower.
In a letter released late Saturday, House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff said that the whistle-blower will not be called, saying that testimony is -- quote -- "redundant and unnecessary."
Joining me now to discuss all of this, a Republican senator who has been directly involved in U.S.-Ukraine policy, Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, also the chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee.
Senator, thanks so much for joining us. We appreciate it.
SEN. RON JOHNSON (R-WI): Good morning, Jake. How are you doing?
TAPPER: So, if we can, first, I would like to try to just get some information, because you had a window into a lot of this, and that the rest of us don't have.
On August 31, you called President Trump to ask him, point blank, whether military aid to Ukraine was being held up in exchange for Ukraine publicly announcing these political investigations.
And you say that the president strongly denied it. But one day later, on September 1, Ambassador Sondland, as he testified to Congress -- quote -- "spoke individually with Mr. Yermak," the Ukrainian adviser to the president of Ukraine, "where I said" -- this is Sondland speaking -- "that the resumption of the U.S. aid would likely not occur until Ukraine provided the public anti-corruption statement that we had been discussing for weeks" -- unquote.
And just to be clear, what that means, by the anti-corruption effort, Sondland had said this was part of a -- quote -- "effort to prompt the Ukrainians to investigate Vice President Joe Biden or his son or to involve Ukrainians directly or indirectly in the president's 2020 reelection campaign" -- unquote.
So, how do you reconcile that the Ukrainians were being told they needed to announce these investigations publicly if they wanted that aid one day after President Trump told you strongly that that was not the case?
JOHNSON: Well, first of all, let me correct your pontification to why I called the president.
I called the president to try and get -- to convince him to let me let President Zelensky know. I was going to make a trip to Ukraine the following week. I met with President Zelensky with Senator Murphy on September 5.
And my main point was, I was trying to get him to give me the clearance say -- to tell President Zelensky that the aid was going to be provided.
And so,when I asked him that, he was, again, very consistent. He said: "Ron, you know what a corrupt place it is. And besides, Ron, why isn't Europe stepping up to the plate? I talked to Angela Merkel and I said, why don't you provide funding for these things? And Angela Merkel tells me, because you will. You know, Ron, you're schmucks."
And that was the rationale that he had consistently been providing to certainly me and, I think, other people in his administration of why he had serious reservations -- and I would say legitimate reservations -- about providing hard-earned taxpayer dollars for Ukraine.
TAPPER: So, can I just interject for one second? I want...
JOHNSON: ... to President Trump.
TAPPER: Go ahead. Go ahead.
I just want to -- it is not true that Europe doesn't -- it is not true that Europe doesn't help the Ukrainians. I mean, I just want to -- this is not you saying it. It is President Trump.
JOHNSON: I'm not here to argue. I'm just -- I'm not here to argue with you.
TAPPER: I just want our viewers to know.
JOHNSON: I'm here to provide...
TAPPER: Yes. Yes. I just want to correct the one thing that President Trump said, because the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development says that the E.U. contributed $425.2 million, on average, for 2016-2017. The U.S. was second with $204 million.
Again, I'm not fact-checking you. The president's impression is incorrect.
Go ahead. I'm sorry.
JOHNSON: Yes, Jake, I'm not here to argue the individual points. I'm trying to give you what exactly happened, OK...
TAPPER: Yes. Please.
JOHNSON: ... so your listeners hear a different viewpoint, different perspective.
So I'm the one that raised the issue from my phone call with Gordon Sondland the day before, where he described some type of -- something that Ukraine had to do before President Trump would release the funding.
And when I brought up that scenario, President Trump immediately -- and I have described as adamantly and vehemently -- denied it. So that's really what the purpose of that phone call was.
But going back to the May 23 meeting in the Oval Office -- and this is what Kurt Volker testified that President Trump basically said -- I can't -- you know, I don't have the -- my impression of what the exact quote was, but this is largely true.
Kurt Volker said, this is what President Trump said about Ukraine. They are all corrupt. I don't want to spend any time with that.
That was his general feeling of Ukraine. One of the things I was trying to do, we were all trying to do, is get him to meet with President Zelensky. We felt he would be every bit as impressed with President Zelensky's dedication to fulfilling his mandate to not only defeat, not only fight corruption, but as he said in a speech in Ukraine that Murphy and I attended, to defeat corruption.
We were very confident that, if President Trump would meet President Zelensky, he kind of would feel a soul mate and the support would flow.
And also, Jake, I have to point out, I found out about the withholding of the -- or the holdup in the funding about the end of August, August 29.
JOHNSON: The funding was released by September 11, largely due to pressure a lot of put on by people like me and Senator Portman and Senator Durbin and other people.
TAPPER: Also the whistle-blower complaint.
JOHNSON: Again, the funding was release. And -- go ahead. Well...
TAPPER: Well, the whistle-blower complaint came out, and then, two days later, the aid was released.
JOHNSON: Well, who knows exactly why.
JOHNSON: But a lot of us -- a lot of us were trying to put that pressure on.
TAPPER: Fair enough.
JOHNSON: But, again, I remain sympathetic with President Trump's legitimate concerns about the corruption.
When you are going to provide hundreds of million dollars of hard- earned American taxpayer dollars into a system, you want to make sure it is not corrupt.
TAPPER: I think...
JOHNSON: And he has been very consistent in his conversation with me and others that that was his reason for withholding the funding.
So, I think the thing is, when he spoke with President Zelensky on July 25, the president, in all his opposition to corruption, only brought up two items. One of them had to do with CrowdStrike and this conspiracy theory that the Ukrainians actually hacked the DNC. And the other one had to do with Joe and Hunter Biden, who he named in particular.
And that's why a lot of the people who have testified, as we have learned this week -- and these are not anti-Trumpers. These are people who either work for President Trump right now or have worked for President Trump. They have testified that they came to see that, when people talked about corruption, they meant Biden, that that is what it actually meant.
A lot of the people, whether it is Gordon Sondland or Fiona Hill or Lieutenant Colonel Vindman, one after the other understood your point of view from, like, oh, the president opposes corruption in Ukraine, and who wouldn't oppose corruption, but that, in actuality, what -- they came to see this was actually -- and I think Fiona Hill used the term code -- this was actually code for investigate the Bidens.
JOHNSON: Well, again, that is their impression.
I have never heard the president say, now, I want to dig up dirt on a potential 2020 opponent.
What I have always heard the president consistently concerned about is what happened in 2016. Why did this -- how did this false narrative of Russian collusion with my campaign occur? Why was I strapped with the special counsel?
(CROSSTALK) TAPPER: Right. And there are two investigations about that, right? There are two investigations.
JOHNSON: ... his desire to get to the bottom of what happened there. It is a very human desire.
Jake, you are interrupting me, but go ahead. Interrupt me again.
TAPPER: Well, I just want to say, in terms of the investigations into the origins, in May, the attorney general appointed a former U.S. attorney, John Durham, who is very respected, to investigate the origins of the Russia investigation.
There is also the inspector general for the Justice Department investigating whether or not the FBI conducted any FISA abuse or any other abuses.
There are investigations into that already by the United States law enforcement community.
And, by the way -- and -- and, by the way, I continue with my oversight with Senator Chuck Grassley. And some pretty interesting things that have occurred.
You know, the Politico article back in 2017 mate named Alexandra Chalupa as an American-Ukrainian that was hired by the DNC. Now, through Freedom of Information Act requests, we found out that she visited the White House 27 times during the campaign.
You know, in our oversight letter, we point out that she had a meeting with 16 Ukrainian journalists a month later, the black ledger digging up dirt on...
JOHNSON: .. dropping the dime on Paul Manafort occurred.
And Nellie Ohr also talks about working with a Ukrainian politician...
TAPPER: Paul Manafort is in prison.
JOHNSON: ... that has completely admitted trying to, you know, dig up dirt on President Trump as well.
So, there's a lot of smoke out. There's a lot of questions that remain unanswered. And from my perspective, it's a completely legitimate concern on the part of President Trump to find out, what happened?
TAPPER: Yes. JOHNSON: Why I have been tormented?
Why have -- where's this effort to sabotage my -- my -- my presidency since the day after the election?
JOHNSON: I'd be asking the same questions. And, by the way, I am asking the same questions.
TAPPER: So, that's not what President Trump is pushing for, though, when he talks about this DNC-CrowdStrike server conspiracy theory.
JOHNSON: Jake, that's shorthand.
TAPPER: Listen to President Trump. Listen to President Trump's former homeland security adviser.
JOHNSON: That is shorthand for...
TAPPER: President Trump's former homeland security adviser, Tom Bossert, when it came out that President Trump was pushing for an investigation into this conspiracy theory, this is what Bossert had to say:
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TOM BOSSERT, FORMER WHITE HOUSE HOMELAND SECURITY ADVISER: It's not only a conspiracy theory. It is completely debunked.
Let me just again repeat that it has no validity. The United States government reached its conclusion on attributing to Russia the DNC hack in 2016.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: So that's not me. That's -- that's President Trump's former homeland security adviser. But I want to ask you a question...
JOHNSON: Jake, that is the...
JOHNSON: No, listen, listen, listen, that is the server. And that is correct.
But I just pointed out Alexandra Chalupa worked for the DNC. That is a question that remains open.
JOHNSON: So that's a legitimate concern. One thing you're seeing that article asked was, why was this funding
withheld? I would ask a different question. Why weren't the Ukrainians asked -- concerned about that well before I met with President Zelensky on September 5?
JOHNSON: I was with President Poroshenko on December 18. There was no problem about this.
At the inauguration, this issue wasn't raised. I meet with Ukrainian representatives all the time.
JOHNSON: Nobody ever raised the issue of the military funding being withheld.
JOHNSON: So, from my standpoint -- and this is -- this is the way I said it to President Zelensky. This is a timing issue.
This is the end of the year. There's a pot of money that hasn't been expended.
TAPPER: So, let me ask you about that timing issue.
JOHNSON: I know Mick Mulvaney and Russ Vought. They're fiscal conservatives, go, why are we spending this with three weeks left in the fiscal year?
JOHNSON: That's another plausible explanation.
TAPPER: But the NSC officials testified that this wasn't about being a fiscal conservative for Mulvaney.
Fiona Hill and Vindman, Lieutenant Colonel Vindman, said Sondland said that this agreement, this, you have to announce these public investigations into the Bidens, was being coordinated by Mick Mulvaney.
Does it not concern you that the White House chief of staff reportedly supported this, what is clearly a, you have to do this if you want the money, because, literally -- and you know this because you have been a strong advocate for military aid to Ukraine -- literally, Ukrainians desperately needed this military aid...
TAPPER: .. and were dying, were dying, literally being killed between the time that the money was held up in July and when it was released in September.
So, this isn't just about political games and throwing out names like Alexandra Chalupa.
JOHNSON: Well, Jake, there -- Jake...
TAPPER: This is about people who desperately need military aid getting it.
JOHNSON: Jake -- Jake -- Jake, there's a war going on. And people are dying.
You know, President Obama, we authorized $300 million of lethal defensive weaponry. He never supplied it.
I would take things that Colonel Vindman says with a grain of salt as well, because, in his testimony, he said the Obama administration provided Javelin weapons. They didn't. It was March 2018 that 210 Javelin weapons were finally approved in terms of a movement over to Ukraine.
JOHNSON: So -- so, again, yes, people are dying. But I ask the question...
TAPPER: So, it doesn't concern you that Mulvaney is bringing up this quid pro quo?
JOHNSON: ... why -- why -- why weren't the Ukrainians -- why weren't the Ukrainians -- why weren't the Ukrainians asking me about, where's all the support? They never brought that issue...
TAPPER: But, sir, it doesn't concern you...
JOHNSON: Poroshenko didn't in my other meetings.
It wasn't until the very end of August, a few weeks before the end of the fiscal year...
TAPPER: Senator Murphy says that the Ukrainians -- Senator Murphy says the Ukrainians were concerned about the holdup of the aid.
Can I just ask you, though, does it really not concern you at all that Mick Mulvaney...
JOHNSON: Yes, in September, at the end of August, when we all find out about it.
TAPPER: But does it really not concern you at all that Mick Mulvaney has now been -- it's been asserted by Gordon Sondland that Mick Mulvaney was the -- was saying, they can't get this military aid or a White House meeting unless they publicly announce these corruption investigations, which are about Burisma and the Bidens?
That doesn't concern you at all?
JOHNSON: Well, from my standpoint, I understand that most of President Trump's advisers wanted the military aid released.
And they were trying to figure out in some, way, shape or form to convince President Trump to approve that release.
It's certainly what I was trying to do in my phone call to him on August 31. So I don't have a problem with advisers trying to figure out some way, shape, or form to convince the boss to do this.
But the relevant question is...
TAPPER: Even if it's for political investigations into his opponent?
JOHNSON: ... what was the president's viewpoint on this?
And my testimony is that, when I raised the issue, he vehemently, adamantly and angrily denied that there was any kind of condition to release that. He was concerned about corruption. He was concerned about the fact that Europe doesn't step up to the plate and provide as much support as they really should, because it's in their backyard.
TAPPER: That's not true. That's not true.
JOHNSON: I'm just telling you what I know about my own conversation with President Trump.
TAPPER: All right, Senator Ron Johnson, we appreciate your time today. Thank you so much.
JOHNSON: Have a good day.
TAPPER: Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg filed paperwork this week to join the 2020 Democratic field. So what does that say about the Democrats who've been running for months?
We will ask 2020 candidate Senator Amy Klobuchar next.
Stay with us.
TAPPER: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION. I'm Jake Tapper.
You could call it the revenge of the billionaires.
As top 2020 candidates target the uber-rich, former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is now considering jumping into the race. He's apparently concerned about the strength of the current field of Democrats.
Joining me now to discuss, Senator Amy Klobuchar, who has now qualified for the next two Democratic debates. She's also a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Senator Klobuchar, thanks so much. Congratulations on making the debate stage.
We have a lot to get to.
KLOBUCHAR: Thanks, Jake.
TAPPER: I want to ask you about impeachment.
House Republicans are asking to call many of their own witnesses, including Hunter Biden, to testify in the impeachment probe. Would you be OK with Hunter Biden testifying?
KLOBUCHAR: Adam Schiff has said this best, and that is, that's what this is all about, which was a sham investigation that the president was trying to push.
And, for now, the House is simply gathering relevant evidence about what the president did. That is what this is about.
I note they also want to try to get the whistle-blower to testify, when, in fact, all sources tell us that what the whistle-blower said was secondhand information, and they now have firsthand information of diplomats, military people, others that actually heard these actions occur where the president was pushing for Ukraine to start an investigation against his political opponents in exchange for military assistance.
That is what all of this mounting evidence is showing. And that is why I would agree with Adam Schiff. Why would you reveal the whistle- blower, when you're supposed to have protections, which Republican Senator Grassley has vehemently argued for, protections for this whistle-blower?
TAPPER: So that's a no on Hunter Biden?
KLOBUCHAR: I see no reason why you would have Hunter Biden testify,when, from what all the reports that we have seen is, this wasn't a valid investigation.
It was something where the president was messing around to try to get information against a political opponent.
TAPPER: Let's turn to the latest in the 2020 race.
Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg filed to run in the 2020 primary election in Alabama, the first state with a filing deadline. The mayor seems to be concerned, according to his aides, that Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders are too liberal to beat Trump and that the moderate candidates, such as yourself, are not strong enough to win the nomination.
Is his analysis incorrect?
KLOBUCHAR: Yes, very incorrect. First of all, I'm gaining momentum all the time. We're doubling our
offices in Iowa. We got an extraordinary amount of help after that last debate, raising $2.1 million at AmyKlobuchar.com in just six days.
And so we are building an operation that can win. And I have the most endorsements of anyone in Iowa, of any of the candidates.
Stepping back to this assertion from his spokesperson, I have seen a lot of excitement about all of our candidates. I think all of them have served our country in one way or another.
And when people look at the White House, and they see this multimillionaire, including, by the way, independents, moderate Republicans, and how he's messing up so many things, I don't think they say, oh, we need someone richer.
I don't think that, Jake. I think you have to earn votes, and not buy them.
And I certainly welcome Mayor Bloomberg to the race. He has done incredible work on gun safety, on environmental issues. And it is work of merit.
But I don't think you just waltz in and say, instead of, well, I'm good enough to be president, your argument is, the other people aren't good enough.
That is not how we have been conducting these debates. We're having legitimate debates about who is the strongest person. I think I have the strongest argument, being from the heartland, the place that we need to win, being the one that has won every red and purple congressional district over and over again, and someone who can govern from strength, and someone who's gotten through the gridlock of Washington.
KLOBUCHAR: I'm looking forward to debating Mayor Bloomberg about that, but not if he just comes in and his whole purpose is to say the rest of the field isn't good enough.
TAPPER: Two new recent polls have shown that the moderate candidate who appears to be breaking into the top tier in Iowa is actually South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg.
Recent comments in "The New York Times" suggest that you don't believe that Mayor Buttigieg is qualified to be the president. Am I reading that wrong?
I don't think I want to dwell on various press articles, but I will say this. I think any of the candidates that were on that debate stage were more qualified than the president of the United States right now. So, let me make that clear. TAPPER: Well, more qualified, more qualified than Trump.
KLOBUCHAR: I like Mayor Pete, but...
TAPPER: But do you think...
TAPPER: Do you think Buttigieg is qualified, period?
KLOBUCHAR: But let me explain why I think I am the better candidate.
And, by the way, we get asked this all the time. Welcome to politics. And that's what was in that article. Various candidates get asked about each other all the time. And I made what I think was a cogent case.
And that is that I'm the one from the Midwest that's actually won in a statewide race over and over again, including bringing in those voters that just voted in Kentucky, those kind of voters, just voted in Virginia, brought them over the edge, so that we had strong leaders that were able to win those elections.
Those are the kind of voters I have won. And that's not true of Mayor Pete. That's just a fact.
KLOBUCHAR: I also am someone that has passed multiple bills as the lead Democrat, important bills in Washington, D.C. He's had a different experience.
We should be able to have those debates about candidates without being accused of being negative. All this is are, questions were asked.
And the last point I made in that article was that, of the women on the stage -- I'm focusing here on my fellow women senators, Senator Harris, Senator Warren and myself. Do I think that we would be standing on that stage if we had the experience that he had? No, I don't. Maybe we're held to a different standard.
But my goal here is to get the best candidate to lead the ticket. I believe that's me. That is why I have been able to attract the kind of support that I have in the early states. And I am doing this the right way, running a grassroots campaign.
TAPPER: Senator, your 2020 opponents former Vice President Joe Biden and Senator Elizabeth Warren are feuding, I think it's fair to say, after Biden said that the way Warren is pushing for Medicare for all is -- quote -- "elitist." Do you agree that the way she pushes her plans and suggests that her plan is the right one and Joe Biden should run in a different primary if he's going to repeat Republican talking points, do you agree that this is elitist?
KLOBUCHAR: OK, let me separate these things.
I don't think Elizabeth Warren is elitist. I don't think that -- that is not the adjective I would use to describe her in any way. I think she's pushing for a policy that I don't agree with, and would kick 149 million Americans off of their health care in just four years, their current health care.
That is a fact. it says it on page eight of the bill of the Sanders- Warren bill.
That being said, I think there's a better way, with one big, bold idea. And that is by having a competitive nonprofit option that can compete with the insurance companies and bring the prices down.
I also think that we need to take on the pharmaceutical companies in a big way, work that I have done with Senator Sanders. And that means bringing in less expensive drugs from other countries. That means allowing and unleashing Medicare to negotiate and getting rid of that prohibition that says they can't. I lead that bill.
And I will get that done as president.
And it also means looking at the House proposal, which is a great one, to put a cap on some of these prices and save taxpayers $350 billion.
KLOBUCHAR: Those are bold ideas, Jake. And there's no monopoly on good ideas.
And that's the point I would make about Senator Warren's and Senator Sanders' proposals. I would not call them elitist.
TAPPER: Warren and Sanders aren't here, but they would say those individuals would be kicked off private insurance, but then would be covered by the government health care, Medicare for all.
Thank you so much, Senator Klobuchar. We appreciate your time, as always.
KLOBUCHAR: It was great to be on. Thanks, Jake.
TAPPER: President Trump has a new defense for his administration's dealings with Ukraine: no firsthand knowledge.
Is he right?
We will break down the key testimony next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: It seems that nobody has any firsthand knowledge. There is no firsthand knowledge. And all that matters is one thing, the transcript. And the transcript is perfect.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Not sure about the transcript being perfect but he is true that the firsthand testimony has not come yet. President Trump distancing himself today -- or this week, from new testimony released this week and where are key officials who may have that firsthand knowledge. They're not to be found. Let's discuss.
But first I have a little house cleaning. First of all I want to hold up Karine Jean-Pierre's new book "Moving Forward." It's the only reason we're allowed to have you on CNN today. So, thank you so much. Congratulations on book.
KARINE JEAN-PIERRE, SENIOR ADVISER, MOVEON.ORG: Thank you.
TAPPER: And second of all we have veterans at the table and I want to say thank you so much for your sacrifices and your service. Really appreciate it
REP. MAX ROSE (D-NY): Thank you.
TAPPER: Congressman, let me start with you. It does seem essential that Rudy Giuliani and Mick Mulvaney who have the firsthand knowledge of what President Trump told them or did not tell them to do testify. Are we ever going to hear from them?
ROSE: That is a great question. I have now been a congressman for just about a year or so, so I can remember what it's like not to be a congressman watching T.V. I remember when I was in Afghanistan you turn on the T.V. you see how ridiculous politics is. Rudy Giuliani, Mick Mulvaney, they're perfectly evincing that at this moment. If there is nothing to hide then just come up and speak with these committees.
This is not difficult. This is checkers, not chess.
TAPPER: And you're on the -- we should point out you're on the Trump campaign advisory committee, David. What do you think? I mean, it is not a bad argument. Like if there is nothing to hide Mulvaney and Giuliani should testify.
DAVID URBAN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes but this is also -- this is also politics at the highest level being played on both sides. Now this is -- this isn't about an exposition of the truth as much as it is an exposition of politics at this point, right? And so I think there is absolutely zero to gain from either those gentlemen to go and testify and the perjury trap that Mr. Sondland found out that he was -- he almost got himself into. TAPPER: Yes. What do you think?
LINDA CHAVEZ, DIRECTOR, BECOMING AMERICAN INITIATIVE: Well, there is zero to gain. Yes. There's the truth to gain.
CHAVEZ: I mean, if you put somebody under oath you hopefully will get the truth and these are the people who do have firsthand knowledge. Mulvaney, you know, he has now joined the lawsuit to say, court, tell me what to do because I'm caught between two branches of government. And there you have the president saying, oh, yes, Mick Mulvaney, yes, I'm fine with him going up. Well, if you are fine with him going up, why not send him up?
TAPPER: What do you think? What do you think? This is a potential constitutional crisis that we have here because --
TAPPER: -- there is no way that Giuliani and Mulvaney want to go willingly, they've made that clear. And so it is the question of the executive privilege being asserted by the White House versus Congress saying, we are subpoenaing you.
JEAN-PIERRE: I always go back to this. The do me a favor though. We have to remember --
TAPPER: In the transcript.
JEAN-PIERRE: In the transcript. And we got a -- we saw like the memo of that transcript. And this is what Donald Trump says. He admitted to it.
So when they talk about the whistle-blower, ah, that argument is kind of moot now. When we talk about the -- the -- you look at the depositions, diplomat after diplomat have gone on record to say their -- give their first account of what happened.
The president has admitted it in the memo. He admitted in front of the cameras. Mick Mulvaney admitted it. His lawyer Giuliani admitted it. Like we already know where we stand with this because the truth is out there. We're just digging in to make sure we can connect the dots.
URBAN: Karine, this is where we disagree. This is where I think there's testimony -- there is no testimony and, Jake, you said this earlier in your earlier segment, Senator Johnson says this as well, the testimony from all these -- all these officials say we're talking about a meeting, about a potential meeting between President Zelensky. That is the only firsthand knowledge that anybody has they'll talk about. You'll see whether it is Tim Morrison who said --
TAPPER: The national security staffer. URBAN: He was first on the call and so Vindman was too. The only two people who were actually participants in the call said -- Morrison said, I don't -- look, I didn't like it but I don't think it is illegal and nobody there talks about there was no discussion of aid during any of this. Not one bit. Not one bit.
JEAN-PIERRE: Yes --
CHAVEZ: Vindman was so upset about this. This is a lieutenant colonel.
URBAN: Right --
CHAVEZ: He's a decorated veteran.
JEAN-PIERRE: A Purple Heart recipient --
CHAVEZ: He was so upset about it that he went to his boss. John Bolton said he didn't want to be part of the drug deal and they went to the --
URBAN: Linda, I don't disagree -- I don't disagree that Colonel Vindman think he's doing exactly what's correct in this case. I don't disagree with it at all. I disagree with his analysis, the whole policy.
People have differences of opinion. Listen, if you're going to foggy bottom and ask about Iran, if you were to foggy bottom to ask about Paris accord you get lots of people pushing back --
TAPPER: -- bring in one person who can vote on this.
ROSE: Way too much in the weeds right now.
JEAN-PIERRE: That's right.
ROSE: OK, so there is just some very important questions here. Why, when the president of the United States, had the opportunity to bring up anyone -- anyone in the world, why did he bring up the Biden family during that conversation?
TAPPER: In a rough transcript. Right.
ROSE: Yes. And moreover --
ROSE: One sec, one sec. Is it OK though for a president, a senator, a Congress person to use their office to advance their own self- interest? I'm sure you don't think that is OK. And that is all we are trying to get to the bottom of here. And as we continue to obfuscate, deflect, talk about this person, that person. You are not seeing the big picture here. Which is the fact that potentially -- potentially -- that's all we're trying to, the president of the United States talking about draining the swamp and he became part of it.
URBAN: So what the president says and with the answer to that question is, is talking about corruption. Talking about corruption with Senator Johnson earlier, talking about corruption on numerous attempts. Saw Ukraine as a cesspool of corruption.
JEAN-PIERRE: But that is not true.
TAPPER: All right. I got to squeeze -- I got to squeeze in a short break. We're going to keep the conversation going.
Coming up, several Democrats candidates are sharpening their criticism of Senator Elizabeth Warren. But are some f their words rubbing voters the wrong way? That is next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I have no -- no problem with him getting in the race.
TRUMP: I think he's going to Biden actually but he doesn't have the magic to do well. Little Michael will fail.
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Oh, my goodness. How important. How monumental that he's running for president.
SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It is not enough just to have somebody come in, anybody, and say they're going to buy this election.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: The candidates standing between former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the Oval Office weighing in on his possible 2020 bid. Let's discuss.
Jean-Pierre -- Karine Jean-Pierre, let me start with you. What do you make of the surprise announcement from Bloomberg?
JEAN-PIERRE: You know, if he does decide to do it it's going to be clearly an uphill battle. It doesn't matter how much money you have, you can't really, like they say, buy yourself an election. And no one is fining for a billionaire to jump in. But there is another piece of this too which is you cannot win the Democratic nomination or the general election, a Democrat can't without getting overwhelming support from African-Americans, from the black community.
One of the problems that Michael Bloomberg has is stop and frisk policy that he over saw as mayor of New York City. This is a policy that overwhelmingly put black boys, black men and black -- and Latino men in prison --
JEAN-PIERRE: -- which was seen as a civil rights violation. So how does he get through that? So there is more to this than he -- that he really needs to think about.
TAPPER: He was your mayor. You're a fellow New York City moderate Democrat.
ROSE: Yes. Yes. Sure.
TAPPER: What do you think?
ROSE: So, a few things. One is another short New Yorker, I'm deeply offended by the president's comments.
ROSE: The second thing I would like to applaud Mayor Dinkins as being the only living New York City mayor right now to not involve himself in 2020 drama. But in all seriousness right now, OK, this is no longer about left or middle. Where the American people are, both the primary electorate as well as the general electorate there is the populous.
The central question is who's side are you on? Are you on the side of the special interest or hardworking Americans who have been ignored or ripped off?
So the more the merrier in this primary. Let's see what happens. It is a year away. But he can't -- he can't buy it. So let's see what he was going to say.
CHAVEZ: You know, it's really sort of unfortunate because Bloomberg does have two very important issues which should matter to the Democrats, climate and guns. And he has actually spent a lot of his wealth promoting these issues so he should be a credible candidate but I have to agree with Karine, it is going to be a very difficult uphill battle. I always thought he ought to have gotten into the Republican primary and challenged President Trump then at least we'd have one real billionaire in the race.
TAPPER: David, I want you --
TAPPER: -- to take a look at this poll -- a recent "Fox News" poll before he announced, only six percent of Democratic primary voters would definitely support Bloomberg, 50 percent say they would definitely support Michelle Obama, 27 percent Hillary Clinton. A third of the voters say they would never vote for Bloomberg. That's the highest in this survey even over Hillary Clinton who got a pretty sizeable 30 percent, please don't run. So he doesn't come into the race incredibly popular with Democrats.
URBAN: Yes. So, it is amazing what a billion dollars will do for you, right?
URBAN: You're going to spend a billion dollars of your own money. Kevin Sheekey who is the mayor's strategist, he's an incredibly talented guy. Mike Bloomberg is a very smart guy. I wouldn't put it past him to be able to move those numbers. Look, I think it is incredibly interesting that Democrats have two billionaires running in the primary, Tom Steyer and Michael Bloomberg. The two socialists that shows you the expanse between this party. They can't figure out which way they are going --
JEAN-PIERRE: Elizabeth Warren is not a socialist.
URBAN: OK. Close to a socialist. But, you know, it shows you the expanse and the struggle for the soul of the Democrat Party, where they're going to end up.
Max points out correctly like he's a moderate. That is where America wants to end up but two different spectrums there.
JEAN-PIERRE: You're talking about Democrats and the soul of the -- of the party and your party has Donald Trump who was dividing the country constantly?
URBAN: No. In the party -- Karine, in the party Donald Trump's 90 plus percent. In your party there is nobody 90 plus percent.
JEAN-PIERRE: No. But Trump is -- you want to talk about Tuesday? You want to talk about Virginia and how it turned blue --
URBAN: Yes, sure. Sure, it is fine. Absolutely. Sure.
JEAN-PIERRE: -- and how the suburbs are leaving the Republican Party?
URBAN: But that's not a Donald Trump --
JEAN-PIERRE: No. That is true.
CHAVEZ: I think David makes an important point and it is one --
URBAN: Wait. Say that again, Linda.
(LAUGHTER) CHAVEZ: And it's one that (INAUDIBLE) celebrated. There actually is diversity in the Democratic Party and there is none in the Republican Party.
TAPPER: And we have to end it there. Again, Happy Veterans Day to both of you.
ROSE: Thank you.
URBAN: Thanks, Jake.
TAPPER: Thank you for honoring us with your presence here today as well as you two.
JEAN-PIERRE: Thank you. Thank you so much.
TAPPER: It is a question on a lot of people's minds what happened to Senator Lindsey Graham? That is next.
TAPPER: Finally from us this Sunday, we invited the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina to the show this week. We were told he was unavailable.
We wanted to ask Graham about his views of the mounting evidence that President Trump's team was pushing Ukraine to publicly announce an investigation into the Bidens. About the $400,000 in aide and the White House meeting that government of Ukraine desperately wanted would not happen without that announcement.
Graham's public statements on the matter have been confusing. On September 25th after the White House released that rough call transcript between President Trump and Ukrainian President Zelensky, Graham called the call a -- quote -- "nothing (non-quid pro quo) burger."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): If you're looking for a circumstance where the president of the United States was threatening the Ukraine with cutting off aide unless they investigated his political opponent, you would be very disappointed. That does not exist.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Then in October, Graham told Axios that other evidence beyond the rough transcript might change his mind.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GRAHAM: If you could show me that Trump actually was engaging in a quid pro quo outside the phone call, that would be very disturbing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: We now have reams of evidence. Testimony from multiple Trump administration diplomats and national security officials current and former suggesting that outside that phone call Ambassador Gordon Sondland, Rudy Giuliani, acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney all were pushing Ukraine to investigate the Bidens if they wanted that aide and that White House meeting. Now the Judiciary Committee chairman has a different and brand new take.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GRAHAM: What I can tell you about the Trump policy toward the Ukraine, it was incoherent. It depends on who you talk to. They seem to be incapable of forming a quid pro quo.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Coherence is not particularly evidence in Chairman Graham's position in this impeachment inquiry. On October 9th he tweeted -- quote -- "if House Democrats refuse to release the full transcript of" former Ukrainian ambassador Kurt Volker's testimony as requested by Republican Congressman Jordan, "it will be an abuse of power."
And then this week as that transcript and many others were released, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee said he was not going to read any of the transcripts.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you plan on reading these transcripts that were released?
GRAHAM: No. I don't care what anybody else says about the phone call. The phone call I made up my own mind is fine. I think this is a bunch of BS.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Beyond the fact that reading these transcripts is actually, you know, Graham's job, as Senate judiciary chairman. His statement recalled nothing so much as former Indiana Republican Congressman Earl Landgrebe in 1974. When asked by an "Associate Press" reporter about a new set of damning Nixon tapes, Congressman Landgrebe said -- quote -- "don't confuse me with the facts. I've got a closed mind.
I'm going to stick with my president."
Now, we see plenty of folks like that in Congress today, but it is jarring to hear similar sentiments from Graham who as House impeachment manager during the Clinton impeachment, and then under the tutelage of his former mentor, the late John McCain, saw and perhaps still sees himself as someone willing to be independent with allegiance not to any politician but to the public, to the rule of law, to the U.S. constitution. Graham spoke on the Senate floor after the loss of his friend McCain.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GRAHAM: Don't look to me to replace this man. Look to me to remember what he was all about and try to follow in his footsteps.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Is Senator Lindsey Graham trying to follow in the footsteps of John McCain? Or is he trying to follow in the footsteps of Earl Landgrebe?
Thanks for spending your Sunday morning with us. And Happy Veterans Day to all have served and sacrificed.
"FAREED ZAKARIA" is next.