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tv   CNN Newsroom with Poppy Harlow and Jim Sciutto  CNN  September 25, 2019 7:00am-8:00am PDT

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zbrnchs th this is "cnn breaking news." top of the hour. i'm poppy harlow in new york. we have two significant developments breaking right now, the trans script of the call between president trump and his ukrainian counterpart has just been released. let's bring in our pamela brown. what does it say? >> this is five-page transcript. it appears to be a nearly complete transcript of the july call, poppy, where president trump asked ukrainian president zelensky several times to collaborate with attorney general barr and his attorney,
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rudy guilliani, his private attorney, to look into biden and his son hunter. we should note president zelensky mentioned outreach to guilliani first. it was on page four where biden was brought up. after pleasantries were exchanged president trump starts off the conversation, telling the ukrainian leader about how much help the u.s. has offered to ukraine in comparison to european companies. he doesn't specifically mention military aid but says the u.s. has been, quote, very, very good to ukraine. so not an explicit quid pro quo, but the president was clearly teeing up his request to ukraine. so after that exchange about u.s. help to ukraine, trump then says, i would like you to do us a favor. he asked ukraine to look into its role in the 2016 election where he claimed without evidence that ukraine has the dnc server, and on biden. he then mentioned biden on page 4. he says, there is a lot of talk about biden and his son and a lot of people want to find out if biden stopped the prosecution
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of a company tied to his son. we should note there is not direct evidence to support this allegation that the president made in the call. now, zelensky said in response to the president bringing up biden that the next prosecutor would look into it. now, we should note that at the bottom of this log there is a disclaimer, that this is not a, quote, verbatim transcript of a discussion. it goes on to say that the text of this document records the notes and recollections of situation room duty officers and nse policy staff assigned to listen and immoralize the conversation in written form as the conversation takes place. i do want to note a senior white house official says that there is voice recognition software that puts the transcript out, what it calls a transcript, and then those who listened to the phone call look over that to make sure that it is an accurate reading. it is also important to take a step back here. this is just one part of the whistle-blower complaint surrounding president trump. it is not the full picture. the white house is preparing to
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release that complaint to congress. we are told that that could actually happen today. back to you. >> okay. there is a lot to die just there, pamela brown. great job going through it. we will get back to you for your analysis in a moment, but i appreciate you laying it out. now over to evan perez. you are live at the justice department with another significant development? >> that's right, poppy. we learned for the first time just a few minutes ago that the justice department had received a criminal referral from the inspector general for the intelligence community to investigate whether or not this -- the contents of this phone call constituted a violation of campaign finance law. if you know, if you remember, this is something that has been looked at before, the idea that asking for a thing of value from a foreigner could be a violation of campaign finance law. so the justice department received this referral back at the end of august. the justice department criminal division has been looking at this issue, the fbi also got a separate referral.
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they've been looking at this issue for the last few weeks, and just in the past week the justice department determined that they did not have enough evidence here to go forward with a full investigation. they determined that they did not merit a full-blown investigation, and it is not actually a campaign finance violation. part of the issue here is that how do you put a value on this thing of value, this -- whatever the conversation was between president trump and the president of ukraine in which he is urging this investigation of the vice president's son and this company that he was associated there with. whether or not that really rises to the level of a criminal violation, so the justice department in the end determined that it was not a criminal violation and so has closed this matter. now, a couple of things that we should note. in the -- in the phone call, the july phone call with the ukrainian president, president trump mentioned that he wants him to talk to attorney general bill barr. the justice department tells us that bill barr did not have any
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such communication with the president, did not know about this phone call, did not communicate with either the ukrainians about this issue, has never discussed opening an investigation into biden with the ukrainians. that's an important part for us to note here. the justice department says that never happened. also noteworthy that the attorney general has been involved in this issue. he has not recused from all of this, despite the fact his name was mentioned. obviously, again, the justice department says that he was not aware of this until weeks later when this referral came to the justice department. poppy. >> okay. evan, thank you. stay there. let's bring pamela brownback in. pam, that is an incredibly significant development that the intelligence community's inspector general took a criminal referral to the justice department on this with questions about whether this was a violation of campaign finance laws. >> a huge development coming
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from our evan perez to look into this. i mean this is very significant and now we're gaining some insight into why that referral happened, even though we don't have the whistle-blower complaint in full we do have what we know is a part of the complaint. that is this transcript between president trump and the ukrainian president zelensky where he mentioned on several occasions that he would have his own attorney general and his personal attorney, rudy guilliani, work with the ukrainians on two u.s.-related matters, one involving his political rival, the democratic presidential candidate joe biden, and his son hunter and also looking into election interference. it is also significant that even before the president brought that up and said, i would like you to do us a favor, he did talk about how much the u.s. has helped ukraine. now, the president has spoken about that publicly. he did at the u.n. this week. so he didn't specifically mention any -- the explicit quid pro quo unless you do this, unless you investigate this, we
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are going to withhold this military aid to you, but he did sort of tee up the request by saying, look, we're very -- the u.s. is very helpful to ukraine in comparison to european countries. now, we should note it was actually president zelensky of ukraine who first brought up outreach to rudy guilliani. at that point the president did say, one more thing, i do want you to work with bill barr and rudy guilliani to look into biden and his role in firing a prosecutor that was looking into a company linked -- that his son was on the board of. again, there was no direct evidence of wrong doing there, but this really gives some insight, transparency into what was going on behind the scenes, and that criminal referral we just found out about. now, in terms of why the white house is doing this, a senior white house official says it came down to transparency. they weighed the institutional concerns, they looked at the precedent that this could set, but in the end the president made the decision that he wanted
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to be transparent. that's what a senior white house official is saying today. >> okay. evan perez, pamela brown, stay there. we will get back to you. we will have you read through some of this. with me now is our chief national correspondent, anchor of "inside politics," john king. i'm just getting halfway through this thing. what is your read? >> the president says this call was perfect and beautiful, poppy. >> right. >> the democrats will say based on what pam brown just laid out that it is the foundation for impeaching the president of the united states. that's what they're going to say. now, they need more witnesses. as pam smartly laid out, the president did not say, "investigate joe biden if you want your money," at least in what we have seen so far. but he did bring up aid before he brought up biden. he brought up rudy guilliani. what are the democrats going to say here? they will want a full transcript, not just a summary. they will want to know if there are recordings. they will want to bring in the people listening to the call. they want to see the full whistle-blower complaint because we know it was about other things as well. someone in the intelligence community trying to connect the
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dots from this call to other actions by the president or his administration. rudy guilliani keeps going on "fox news" and holding up his phone and saying, it is all on here. guess what, the democrats are going to want that phone and want rudy guilliani under oath, testifying about if the president tees up aid, then he brings up joe biden and he brings up, you mr. guilliani, explain the meetings. did you bring up the possibility of clearing that i had a, did you bring up the possibility of a summit meeting with the president. here is the question, did the president abuse his power for personal political gain, that a trump-appointed inspector general made a credible referral to the justice department asking the question, was this a campaign finance violation. even if they decide in the end no, it is debatable, we're not going forward, it is a trump-appointed inspector general. all of this anyway, poppy, is eye-popping presidential behavior. that it happened after what we went through in 2016 with russian interference and the mueller investigation, it is just beyond the realm. >> i'm so glad you point out,
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john king, the order of what happened in this call and the order of when they were brought up, that aid was brought up, then biden. yes, it was zelensky that brought up guilliani first, but the way that the president followed up on that and talked about the prosecutor that was ousted, all significant. stay there and let me bring in jeffrey tuben with this. jeffrey, as john just said, the trump-appointed inspector general took this to the justice department with a criminal inquiry into whether it was a campaign finance violation. >> okay. just to back up and talk a little bit about the law, it is unlawful to obtain a thing of value. >> right. >> from a foreign source in an american political campaign. >> and there is no question that an investigation into the leading candidate in the democratic party and his son would be a thing of value. >> i don't know about no question. i mean i think the legal complexities could get considerable very quickly. but it is certainly possible and
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it certainly seems to be the basis of this investigation, this criminal investigation that the president was seeking a thing of value from a foreign source, and possible -- and i emphasize possible, violation of american campaign finance law. that seems to be the basis of the criminal referral which now is before attorney general william barr. william barr is in this transcript. william barr becomes a very important person in this investigation at several different levels. he is now presumably, at least for the time being unless he has to recuse himself, in charge of deciding what to do with this criminal referral. he is also someone that the president is saying in this transcript, talk to him, mr. president, mr. zelensky, president of ukraine, cooperate with him in the investigation of my rival biden.
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so william barr is now a central figure in all of this -- these developments. >> as you said, he has the ultimate authority to decide where this question went. >> unless he recuses himself, and in light of his being all over this transcript he is going to have a lot of pressure to recuse himself. >> but it is also a good time to remind people barr was one of the people pushing for the release of this transcript. secretary of state mike pompeo was saying they shouldn't release it because he said it would set a dangerous precedent. we were told by people barr is pushing it but it is problematic for him because you see through the same lens that the president views rudy guilliani and the attorney general. he is saying here, of course as pam pointed out, the ukrainian president brings up rudy guilliani first, talking about him, and president trump says, quote, i will ask him to call you along with the attorney general. he goes on to praise rudy and says, quote, there's a lot of talk about biden's son, that biden stopped the prosecution and a lot of people want to find out about that. so whatever you can do with the attorney general would be great. >> whatever you could do with
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the attorney general would be great. >> would be great. he is essentially saying talk to rudy guilliani, talk to bill barr, talk to rudy guilliani, talk to bill barr, interlinking the two of them. >> and let's be clear about what this conversation is about. this has nothing to do with american interests in ukraine. this only has to do with the political interests of the president of the united states. the only reason that biden comes up here at all, the only conceivable reason is that the president wants dirt on biden. what went on here with biden and his son is almost a decade ago. it has no relevance to contemporary relations between ukraine and the united states except as a source of campaign fodder for the president. >> hold that thought. let me get dana bash in here. dana, there is so much here and yet the white house chose to put
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it out. what does it mean for the president? >> there's something else in the following sentence from what katelyn was just reading from which i think is the key when it comes to what the house democrats did yesterday, the question of impeachment. that is the president didn't just say, please talk to the attorney general, he personally said, about joe biden. so if you can look into it, dot, dot, dot, it sounds horrible to me. the president of the united states himself asking the leader of another country to look into something that he thinks is bad for his political opponent, full stop. that sentence in and of itself is exactly why you have democrat after democrat who -- for whom it was politically perrilous from trump districts to come out and say i'm now for impeachment. that's the reason they said it. there is the law jeffrey is talking about. there's the criminal complaint,
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there's a question about whether he violated campaign finance laws. that's all fine and good, but when it comes to the constitution and the question of whether the house of representatives should impeach a president, high crimes and misdemeanors, that's more murky. it is a determination of the house of representatives, and you have so many people saying, this is exactly why, and now they have it in black and white. >> dana, you point out the dot, dot, dot. i should note again, as pam brown said at the top, the white house says it is not a verbatim transcript of the discussion. >> right. >> it is such an important sentence that you just read, if you can look into it, dot, dot, dot, it sounds horrible to me, what else is there as well. >> right. there's no obvious quid pro quo as we've seen, but as we have heard again from democrat after democrat who changed their positions, doing a 180 to bea impeach or not to impeach, they don't need a quid pro quo. they just see the idea of a president of the united states asking another leader to look into something that could hurt
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their political opponent and say, that's beyond the pale, that's an impeachable offense. even if we see nothing else, i'm telling you based on all of the conversations i had with house democrats who changed their mind yesterday, that sentence is going to be the one that sticks out to them. >> and this that was so striking here, asha, that you had the trump-appointed inspector general refer this and bring it over to the justice department to say -- you know, to bring a criminal complaint and say was this a cam pin finance violation, what strikes you the most? >> what strikes me the most is what jeffrey pointed out, is this conflict that bill barr is implicated in this call or at least verbally being enlisted to assist in this effort. he's now in charge of evaluating whether this criminal referral has any merit under u.s. law. it is a conflict of interest, so
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technically there should be special counsel 2.0 to evaluate this because it is not really clear that he is able -- it is clear to me actually that he is not able to evaluate this because he himself is -- is involved in this in some way. >> so jeffrey toobin, to asha's point, bill barr conflicted. special counsel 2.0? >> well, there are a couple of possibilities. it may just be that the -- he would recuse himself and the deputy attorney general would take over the investigation. rod rosenstein's successor. >> remember when we saw that? >> yes. but, again, remember the historical and political context here. donald trump was enraged at jeff sessions for two years, embarrassed him, humiliated jeff sessions because he recused himself in what became the mueller investigation.
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>> right. >> is barr going to now recuse himself? again, i don't see how he can't recuse himself in light of the fact that he's named. you know, by name in here. obviously he has had some sort of prior dealings on the subject of rudy guilliani's investigation of the biden -- the biden relationship in ukraine. >> sure. >> i mean i don't think a special counsel is necessary right away, but that is a determination that i think has to be made by the deputy attorney general of the united states, not by -- >> not bill barr. >> not by barr because barr has to be recused here. >> hold that thought. i want to go back to pamela brown and i will get right to you, kaitlyn. i think it would be instructive and helpful for people to hear some of the words. we are looking at live pictures of the president. you know, he is on the world stage. he is at the u.n.. this is a meeting with the
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delegation about venezuela. this is his moment on the world stage, in the spotlight, and this is what has come out. can you read some of the most telling parts of the call? >> quickly, not to mention the timing of the meeting with ukrainian president zelensky on the sidelines there of the u.n. ga. the key here is on page 4. this is when he first brings up biden. zelensky mentioned he had reached out to or the ukrainians had reached out to rudy guilliani. the president then goes on to say, well, the other thing, there's a lot of talk about biden's son, that biden stopped the prosecution and a lot of people want to find out about that. so whatever you can do with the attorney general would be great. biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution. so if you can look into it, dot, dot, dot, it sounds horrible to me. so there you have it. as dana rightly pointed out, that is what democrats will seize on. you have the president of the
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united states asking a foreign government to open up an investigation into his political rival. we should note that this allegation from the president that joe biden had the prosecutor in ukraine fired to shut down the investigation of a company tied to his son, that there is not direct evidence to support that allegation of wrong doing. but what is interesting here, poppy, is the response from president zelensky when the president brought up biden. >> yes. >> because he says, i wanted to tell you about the prosecutor. first of all, i understand and i'm knowledgeable about the situation. since we have won the absolute majority in our parliament, the next prosecutor will be 100% my person, my candidate, who will be approved by the parliament and will start as a new prosecutor in september. he or she will look into the situation specifically to the company that you mentioned in this issue. the issue of the investigation of the case is actually the issue of making sure to restore the honesty so we will take care of that and we'll work on the
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investigation of the case. so you have zelensky saying, yes, once my new prosecutor is in place we will reopen that investigation. >> yes. >> it is also worth noting again, reiterating that the president mentions several times he would have his own attorney general and his private attorney, rudy guilliani, work with ukraine on this matter. it is significant. >> and i would note, by the way, that in this you see the president use the word "favor," pamela brown. you see the president talk about the u.s. being very, very good to ukraine. let me get kaitlan collins back in here on this. we know from the person who perhaps knows the president best, and that is michael cohen, about the way that the president asks for things. let me remind people about what michael cohen has said previously about the president. quote, he doesn't give you questions. he doesn't give you orders. he speaks in a code, and i understand the code because i have been around him for a decade. >> and if you read the mueller
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report about him wanting to fire mueller, that is essentially what every person who has communicated to, they say it wasn't an explicit ask but they knew exactly what it was the president wanted them to do. this call with the ukrainian president happened the day after robert mueller testified on capitol hill. trump brings mueller up pretty soon. he says, quote, as you saw yesterday that whole nonsense ended with a very poor performance by a man named robert mueller, an incompetent performance, but they say a lot of it started with ukraine. right before that the president is asking him to look into crowdstrike. that's the cybersecurity firm the dnc hired after they were hacked to look into their servers, something the president has since taken and run with, brings it up multiple times dating back to the press conference in helsinki when he applied the fbi and dnc were hiding something when he was asked about election interference. he brings it up here and says, quote, the server, they say ukraine has it. you see starting early on, on page 3 after essentially they've gotten through the greetings,
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that the president is bringing up hillary clinton, her e-mails, the dnc, the election interference and the conspiracy theory he has promoted the dnc was hiding something not over the russians interfering in the election. >> kaitlan is clearly right that a lot of times the president speaks in code. this is not in code. this is explicit. i mean this is not -- >> a very good point. >> -- something you have to -- you know, i would like you to do a favor. the favor is investigate democrats. that's the favor. it is not help the national interest. it is not help our geopolitical situation. it has nothing to do with that. the only thing he wants from the president of ukraine is dirt on democrats. >> okay. >> that's all -- >> it is a great point. >> the only request here. >> it is a great point. >> it is not in code. it is explicit. >> john king to you and to build on what jeffrey toobin just said, he also is calling on the president of ukraine to talk to his personal attorney, not to talk to the white house, not to
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talk to his administration. quote, rudy very much knows what is happening. he is a very capable guy. if you could speak to him, that would be great. rudy guilliani does not work for the american people. he works for the president personally. >> well, rudy guilliani is now going to be a witness in the democrat's impeachment inquiry, whether the democrat's impeachment inquiry beforcomes articles of impeachment is still in question. having covered the bill clinton impeachment, i would urge everyone to leave your minds open to the changing that we go through in the investigation. to jeffrey's point, i want to make a point, joe biden asked the government of ukraine to fire a prosecutor. it is not correct that he was investigating hunter biden. all of the democracy, all of the reformers in ukraine wanted the prosecutor fired because they viewed him as a crook. now maybe we will learn other things. to your point, rudy guilliani talked to -- this is the president of the united states mentioning aid, asking for help
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investigating democratic opponent, involving his personal attorney. don jr. meets with russians at trump tower, no lessons learned from 2016. one other point i want to make that the democrats will look at closely. in the call as well -- again, it is not a full transcript. he suggests at one point, you should call my attorney general. put it together. it is a president that traffics in innuendo all the time. the president of ukraine calls the attorney general of the united states, asks for help in an investigation of joe biden and that leaks. think of the headline. think of the headline. that's how trump destroys his opponents. that's how he does it. he traffics in innuendo all the time. if the president of ukraine called the attorney general and it leaked out, that's bad news for joe biden even if there's no there there. that's what democrats are going to investigate, is he using and abusing his power to damage his political opponents and to undermine u.s. national security. >> poppy, i know we are dealing with a lot of stories here and obviously a big story here, the big story is the transcript. but evan perez mentioned
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something earlier, and i hope evan is still with us. >> he is. >> about the criminal referral -- >> to the justice department. >> -- to the justice department of a possible criminal offense by the president in terms of violating campaign finance laws. if evan -- if we can just ask evan, is it true that the attorney general has already declined to pursue this investigation? >> yes. >> has he made the judgment that there is no -- nothing here to investigate? >> yes, that is the final answer from the justice department. what we're told by a justice official is that that final determination was made by the associate attorney general, the assistant attorney general, brian benjakowsky, the head of the criminal division. under the way the justice department operates, that's the way these are handled according to justice officials that talked to us a little while ago. they said that once the referral came in, it is the first time
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that bill barr, the attorney general, became aware of this conversation. he had not had any conversations with the president about ukraine. he had not reached out to the ukrainians. he had had no conversations about investigating biden with the ukrainians. but, you know, the justice department decided that they were going to look into this. they interviewed people at the white house to make sure that they had an accurate record of the call, but the call is pretty much everything they looked at. there was -- this was the evidence that they had to look at, and they didn't do any additional interviews. they didn't interview the president. they didn't interview rudy guilliani as far as we can tell. so that's the extent of the investigation. they simply looked at the statute and determined that this did not meet the letter of the statute and could not essentially do a fuller -- a full-blown investigation. in the end they determined this did not meet what the statute says is a thing of value under campaign finance law.
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>> well, that's really interesting. but i think democrats and members of the house of representatives are going to have a lot of questions about how that determination was made. did the attorney general actually recuse himself from that decision even though it was referred to the assistant attorney general in charge of the criminal division. what was barr's role in it? second, what was the department's reasoning? just like there's nothing to see here, go away? i understand the argument that this is not covered by the campaign finance laws, but i think some sort of elaboration of the justice department position on that will certainly -- will certainly be required. of course, the other thing is, you know, attorney general barr is all over this transcript. what was his involvement with the president, with rudy guilliani in the whole ukraine story? now, i think what you are saying, evan, is that at the moment they're saying the
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attorney general had no role. well, then why was he mentioned so often by the president? is that right? >> the president -- >> i'm sorry. >> no, go ahead, evan, and then i have a follow-up for you. go ahead. >> that's right. what they're saying is that the attorney general was not aware of these conversations, didn't actually do any of the things that the president was saying in the phone call he was going to ask barr to do, and there was no consideration for barr to recuse himself. they didn't even consider whether he should recuse himself because they believe since nothing happened with regard to barr it didn't merit that. again, those are questions, jeffrey, you are asking very big questions that i think obviously will come from the democrats. i should add one last thing, that while they're not investigating this anymore, this is a closed issue, this is done according to the justice department, there is something that is still alive. that is there is an investigation that's being led by john durham, who is a respected prosecutor from connecticut, who is looking into the origins of the entire
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investigation that we came to know as the mueller investigation, correct? and so one of the things that durham is looking into is the role of countries including ukraine in providing intelligence that became part of that investigation. so let's just, again, reiterate what i just said, that they're no longer looking into this phone call as a potential violation by president trump, however, they are still looking into whether or not ukraine provided any intelligence that became part of the investigation that then became known as the mueller investigation. >> jeffrey toobin, it sounds like what evan is saying here is that this is the end of the line, at least within the justice department, and the only way to hear more and to compel more answers of all of the questions you laid out is for them to testify. >> correct. >> and answer those questions. >> and this is all now part of an impeachment investigation. i mean just, you know, to not bury the lead, i mean the
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question here is does this phone call constitute an abuse of power by the president. does his asking for a favor -- that's the word the president used, not the word i use, which is gathering dirt on my political opponent -- >> multiple favors. >> multiple favors, all related to his political fortunes, is that an impeachment offense. there are a constellation of questions around that. is it a crime? that, evan says the justice department has concluded it is not a crime. it doesn't have to be a crime to be an impeachable offense. it is a well-established, going back to the framers. but there are people who will not necessarily take the justice department conclusion at face value. that is something that's going to be investigated by others. >> and the other thing we have to keep in mind is the only reason we are reading this is because of a whistle-blower's complaint that involved the president's relationship with ukraine. we don't know the full extent of that complaint yet. that's something democrats still
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say they want to see. they said seeing this transcript would not be enough. we don't know that that complaint only stemmed from part of this conversation. there could be -- it said there were multiple acts. we don't know exactly what the acts are. we have an idea. that's the question going forward, is if this is not everything. >> what we do know is that that whistle-blower wants to speak to congress. >> yes. >> and wants to speak to the senate intelligence committee. asha, to you, your read? >> yes. i wanted to make a few points about bill barr and his involvement. during one of his hearings earlier this year he was actually asked specifically whether it would be illegal for a candidate in the upcoming election to receive foreign assistance. >> yes. >> and he was very cagey in his answer. i think you can pull up that clip, and he was very -- he hesitated and he mentioned very specifically, if it is coming from a foreign intelligence service. >> yes, we'll find it. >> yes. so there's that. the other piece is that remember that just as he is evaluating
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this criminal referral, he was also assisting the dni in the legal, you know, advising of whether the complaint should reach congress. he is also making this argument for why the entire complaint should be fielded, a complaint that involved him. >> i think it is a really important connection and point to make, dana bash, because it is the case that, you know, the ig did not need to go to the justice department for their advice on this, right? but did and was blocked from handing over this information. all of this happening within the same few weeks that the department of justice is considering this criminal referral having to do with whether or not there was a significant campaign finance violation here. >> that's right. and, look, on the first part of your question this is in large part because the law is a plglie bit murky when it comes to the
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president of the united states. the whistle-blower law didn't take into account it could be blown on the president of the united states. it just didn't. so that's why there's some to'ing and fro'ing over whether congress can actually get this, negotiation i should add that was kind of ended when the republican-led senate said, we need to see that, which was no small thing. you can count maybe on one hand how many times republicans in the senate stood up to this white house saying, we need to see something, you're wrong about withholding information. this was one of them, so it was a big deal. but you are absolutely right that this whole question of whether or not there was something criminal is out there still. i just want to go back to what jeffrey said and a point i was making earlier. when it comes to impeachment, which is the territory we are in now, that historic move that the speaker made yesterday, that is going to be a determination of
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elected members of congress. elected house members. so many of them that i talked to yesterday said it is a question of whether or not the president even mentioned the idea of investigating a political opponent in a phone call with a foreign leader, and he did according to a white house-released transcript. >> multiple times and extensively. kaitlan collins? >> can i point out that we're going to hear in the coming hours and days from allies of the white house that the president doesn't make an explicit ask about aid here and the investigation into joe biden, but if you are reading between the lines on page 2 at the end the russian -- excuse me. the ukrainian president says to the president, i would also like to thank you for your great support in the area of defense. that means aid, military aid. that's what this aid package was that just days before this call the president had instructed mick mulvaney to tell the pentagon to freeze while they're reviewing it. zelensky said, i would like to thank you for your great support in the area of defense. the next thing -- >> just read the next sentence.
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read the next sentence. >> let me make the point. >> i'm sorry. i apologize. >> the next line from donald trump is, i would like you to do us a favor though. >> i'm going to read it -- >> it is not explicit but it is an implicit ask from the president. >> to jeffrey, your point, i'm going to read that whole chunk. >> it adds to kaitlan's point even better. >> quote. this is president zelensky on the phone with president trump. i would also like to thank you for your great support in the area of defense. we are ready to continue to cooperate for the next steps. specifically, we are already ready to buy more javelins from the united states for defense purposes. president trump truimmediately thereafter. i would like you to do us a favor though because our country has been a lot and ukraine knows a lot about it. then the president goes on to talk about crowdstrike, which kaitlan laid out what that is. i will get john king in here. that's when the president goes into the seeries of asks.
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>> we know what the democrats are going to say. the call that the president has described as harmless, beautiful and perfect, has the president raising the issue of aid, the president of ukraine raising the issue of aid and the president saying, i need a favor, and the president repeatedly saying, why don't you dig up dirt on joe biden and cooperate with my personal attorney and attorney general of the united states. democrats will say they have all of the bricks they need to lay the foundation of a president abusing his power, undermining american national security and using his position and potentially even invoking the name of his attorney general, not just his private attorney, to put pressure on a foreign government to help him for domestic political gain. the democrats have their bricks. my question is as the information comes out, what do the republicans say? >> i was going to ask you that. >> i was going to say there's been a lack of courage when it comes to republicans standing up to out-of-bounds behavior by the president. dana made a point a minute ago, this did not happen by accident. give the administration credit for releasing it but not too
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much. they did it because most republican senators, mitt romney is the exception, most are silent behind the scenes. they're talking to their friend at the white house. they were told before the release there's troubling information in there and privately they don't want to get caught up in it. the question is do those private concerns start to become public, that's when an impeachment snowballed. right now it is all democrats and plus maybe justin amosh. it could get bigger. >> dana, to john's point, the way many of the republican members of congress in the last 24 hours answered those questions that every single anchor and journalist asked them, what if there is a there there. would you be comfortable with that? none have answered and they have skirted it. >> i would say to you and john, don't hold your breath. we are seeing statements from top republicans on key committees saying, you see, there's no quid pro quo. intentionally missing the point. i got a call earlier today from
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somebody that saw the transcript saying, among other things, there's no quid pro quo. again besides the point. so what you are seeing and you will continue to see from the president's allies on capitol hill and even more importantly from his campaign and his political operatives is this is why you elected this guy. you elected this guy to talk tough to world leaders, to root out corruption. i'm not kidding. as crazy as this sounds, what i'm saying, i am just telling you what the strategy is from republicans and what you are going to see. that is an attempt to get the republican base -- >> dana let me jump in. republican senator lindsey graham is speaking on the hill. >> -- investigated his political opponent, you would be very disappoint evidence. that does not exist. from my point of view to impeach any president over a phone call like this would be insane. >> reporter: in that transcript
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he says favor, he asks him to work with attorney general barr going forward on looking into getting dirt about joe biden. >> i hope we will, i hope we will look at the corruption problem in the ukraine. i think the president pointed out in the firing of the prosecutor, maybe he deserved to be fired. maybe he was corrupt. i don't know. but an obvious conflict of interest. joe biden is a very good friend, but we can't have a country where one side looks at and the other one does not. here is the point. when vice president biden called for the prosecutor to be fired, and we will cut off all aid, there is a conflict if in fact your son is on a board of a company being investigated. i think that's something that somebody should look at here. the ukrainian president did not feel threatened. he was the target of the phone call. he felt fine with what happened. i have read it just like you have. you can make your own decision, but from a quid pro quo aspect of the phone call, there's nothing there suggesting that the prosecutor may have been
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fired because of a conflict of interest. it is something that i hope somebody will look at over here, not the firing of the prosecutor but vice president biden is a good man. i have enjoyed a good relationship with him, but i can assure you that if any republican family member was engaged in conduct like this, they would raise questions. you can ask for the prosecutor to be fired if you think he is corrupt and it is in the national interest of the united states. a lot of people felt the guy was corrupt. but the one thing that i think is -- has to be dealt with here is that the son of the vice president was receiving a lot of money from the ukraine and some of the sources of the funds were under investigation by the prosecutor. i don't know what the right answer is. i just hope somebody will look at it, and i don't mind the president bringing up the idea that maybe the guy was fired because of a conflict of intere interest. >> reporter: but how is it not inappropriate that the president asks the president of another country to look into a political
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rival running for election possibly against him if he wins the primary last year? >> i don't know what you looked at. i think it is very appropriate for the president of the united states to suggest you have a corruption problem and this prosecutor that was fired, maybe it was because he was corrupt or maybe because he was looking -- looking at something close to america here. the vice president's son was receiving money from the ukraine, was on a board of a company that was the subject of investigation. >> the nature of president trump's communications with president putin as well as ukrainian president zelensky should be requested and provided with special focus on the phone call that took place with mr. putin a few days after the zelensky call on july 25th. the timing of the departures of the united states ambassador to university crane and t
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yu krien a ukraine and the former deputy must be investigated as well as the movements of trump's personal attorney, rudy guilliani, the correspondence between him and the white house and his interest actions with foreign governments. we must learn what actions president trump or his aides took to withhold congressionally-directed security aid to ukraine and why, and more besides. the answers to these questions and others can be pursued by the house committees involved in the impeachment inquiry, and that is precisely what the inquiry is for, the release of the transcript of one of president trump's calls with president zelensky which just came out will not assuage our concerns or the public's concerns. based on early reports, it may heighten them. we must remember the president was reported to have several calls with president zelensky
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over the summer, and his reputation -- and his administration has a well-earned reputation for dishonesty, altered facts, and incomplete disclosure in public releases. we need to see the complete, unredacted whistle-blower complaint without further delay. the whistle-blower must be allowed to testify without fear of intimidation, and then we must pursue the many relevant avenues of inquiry that i just described. yesterday afternoon the entire senate, all 47 democrats and 53 republicans, agreed to my resolution calling for the whistle-blower complaint to be transmitted immediately to congress, a reflection of the seriousness with which these events are viewed on both sides of the aisle. this was unexpected. in the past when we have asked to look into president trump by
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republic -- our republican colleagues have stonewalled. to their credit, they realize the seriousness of this situation and unanimously agreed to support our resolution. i hope, i pray it is a harbinger of things to come where we can look at the facts, not the politics, and come to conclusions. because without doubt the white house and the president's congressional allies will rush to call this effort a partisan witch hunt, no matter how serious the allegations or how even-handed the inquiry. i would remind everyone that just yesterday every senate republican agreed that the white house's decision to block the whistle-blower complaint from congress was wrong. there was unanimous bipartisan agreement in the senate on that point. not a single senator objected.
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but let me be clear nonetheless because i know accusations of partisanship are already being written, this inquiry was not taken up for partisan reasons and it does not prejudge and outcome. our framers in their wisdom assigned to one chamber of commerce the right to accuse and to the other the right to judge. the house of representatives will investigate and determine whether sufficient evidence exists to accuse the president of an impeachable offense or impeachable offenses. if it comes to that, the senate will be the scene of the trial, senators the jurors. we must take our responsibility with the utmost gravity. our framers, not trusting our liberty to one branch of government alone, afraid of the ever-present danger of tyranny, of an overreaching executive,
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providing a remedy to congress should the executive attempt to subvert or violate the constitution of the united states. we are not yet at the stage where any judgments can be made one way or the other, but i remind my colleagues today that if the day should come when we are called upon to carry out our constitutional duty, history will judge whether we did so faithfully or not. history will judge if each of us act as a solemn juror of democracy who placed fidelity to the constitution and our system of government above the narrow considerations of partisan politics. now, on another issue not directly related but with the same cause, with the same worry, with the same concern, an overreaching executive, the emergency declaration. the commencing of the
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impeachment inquiry in the house while significant is not the only significant action congress will take today, nor is it the only action dealing with the president's overreach. today the senate will vote on president trump's national emergency declaration, which he is using to steal money from our military in order to fund a border wall. >> you just hesard from senate minority leader chuck schumer. before him you heard from one of the president's closest allies, republican senator lindsey graham. dana bash, to you because you were mid sentence when we jumped to lindsey graham. exhibit a, and i quote, to impeach any president over any phone call would be insane. the parties are laying out their political positions here and digging in. >> okay. so this is a time when you play the, can you imagine if it was president obama game. >> right. >> can you imagine if it was president obama, would lindsey graham be saying that? would doug collins, the ranking
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republican member of the judiciary committee in the house be saying, effectively what lindsey graham said on camera, he said in the statement, or any of the other republicans we will hear talking from the same song sheet? the answer is no. it is not. we have to call it what it is. >> let's listen to the president, dana. >> reporter: sir, how is -- >> there is no pressure whatsoever. if you take a look at the democrats, they went down to see the president of ukraine and they asked him for all sorts of things and don't go with the republicans and stay with us, like it is a political war. they shouldn't have done that. that should be an impeachable event based on what you are saying. the democrats just came out, they went down there, a group of people, some of whom i was dealing with on the gun issue. they went down, put tremendous pressure on ukraine. the president himself just came out with a statement saying there was absolutely no pressure put on him, and there wasn't. what i do want to see is i want to see other countries helping ukraine also, not just us. as usual, the united states
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helps and nobody else is there, so i want to see other countries help. just so you understand, it is the single greatest witch hunt in american history, probably in history, but in american history. it is a disgraceful thing. the letter was a great letter, meaning the letter revealing the call. it was done at the insistent of myself and other people that read it. it was a friendly letter. there was no pressure, the way you had it built up, that call, it was going to be the call from heel. it turned out to be a nothing call other than a lot of people said, i never knew you could be so nice. so part of the problem you have is you have the fake news. you have a lot of corrupt reporting. you have some very fine reporter, and journalists but you have a lot of corrupt reporters, a lot of corrupt journalists. i would rate you right in there, by the way. excuse me. excuse me. excuse me. excuse me. so we're having -- if you
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noticed, the stock market went up when they saw the nonsense. all of a sudden the stock market went down substantially yesterday when they saw a charge. after they read the charge the stock market went up substantially. we have created the greatest economy in the history of our country, the greatest economy in the world. had my opponent won, china would right now be the number one economy by far. right now china is way behind us and they'll never catch us if we have smart leadership, way behind. we have picked up trillions of dollars and they've lost trillions of dollars. they want to make a deal very badly, and it could happen. it could happen. it could happen. it could happen sooner than you think. our military's rebuilt. our military has never been stronger. when i came in it was depleted. our vets are happy. so many great things are happening, and the democrats feel they're going to lose. we had the highest poll number, rasmussen, 53. they say you could add ten to it. a lot of people say you can add
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more than ten to it because a lot of people just don't want to talk about it, but they want to vote for trump. so i just say this. we have the strongest country we have ever had. we have the best economy we have ever had. we have the best unemployment numbers we have ever had. we have the best employment numbers we have ever had. we have now almost 160 million people working. that's far more than we have ever had working in our country before. thank you very much, everybody. thank you. >>okay. the president there. same playbook, different day. >> thank you. >> pamela brown with me at the white house. the president just said again, just like he did with the mueller report, this is a witch hunt. there was no pressure, there was a nothing call. in a moment i would like you to read more from that call, because the facts matter here more than perhaps ever before. he is trying to equate joe biden's work with ukraine on rooting out corruption with his asks of the president here. they're just not the same. there is no evidence of wrong
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doing by joe biden or his son hunter. this is the line from republicans and from the president that we will hear over and over again. this struck me, what he just said, pam. let me read it to you have. the president just said answering that reporter's question, if you look at the democrats, they went down to see the president of ukraine. they asked him for all sorts of things. don't go with that republicans, stay with us. it is like a political war. they shouldn't have done that. that should be an impeachable event. he just said that the democrats asking the president of ukraine should be impeachable. look at what he asked the president of ukraine for in the transcript. >> yes, absolutely poppy. you know, you read this transcript and it is there in black and white, the president explicitly asking the ukrainian president to work with his own attorney bill barr and his private attorney, rudy guilliani, to investigate his political rival joe biden and his son hunter. now, the president only mentions biden one time, but he obliquely
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references it throughout the conversation by urging the president of the ukraine -- you ukraine i should say to work with u.s. officials. now, here is what he said exactly on page 4 of this five-page transcript. the other thing, there's a lot of talk about biden's son, that biden stopped the prosecution and a lot of people want to find out about that. so whatever you can do with the attorney general would be great. biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution, so if you can look into it -- it sounds horrible to me. just for context here, you sort of alluded to, poppy, the president is making this allegation without backing it up with clear evidence that biden had this prosecutor fired because he was looking into the company that his son was on the board of. there is no evidence to support that allegation, though biden has said publicly he wanted this prosecutor in ukraine fired because he wasn't doing enough to investigate corruption. >> i think, pamela brown, it is
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so important to note on top of that that it wasn't just joe biden. it was the entire, you know, western hemisphere. it was the imf. that this guy was ineffective at rooting out corruption, that he had to go. those are the facts. >> right. >> they're out there. the american people have to read them because you are going to hear these talking points. >> exactly. >> they are lies over and over again. >> exactly. just to sort of take a step back here because republicans -- and we just heard lindsey graham say this -- are really sort of trying to make this point that there's no explicit quid pro quo here, that the president didn't say, well, we will give you military aid if you investigate biden, but he clearly made -- wanted to make the point very early on in the conversation about how much the united states has done for ukraine. he says the u.s. has been very, very good to ukraine, and then what is interesting, president zelensky brought up -- thanked
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him for his great support, the u.s.'s great support in the area of defense, which is, of course, military aid. and then the president goes on to say, i would like you to do us a favor though, and that is when he brings up the first request, which is to investigate election interference in 2016, making these allegations of ukrainians working with -- >> you flow what -- >> yeah. >> pam, look, this thing is only five pages long. every american should take the time to read this today and you decide for yourself. jeffrey toobin, as we wrap up here and of course our coverage is going to continue, but lindsey graham said nothing here, no quid pro could. you see something very clearly? >> going back several minutes ago when i rudely interrupted kaitlan, and i want to apologize for that, but the discussion of -- well, first of all a point that dana has made several times, many democrats say this is an impeachable offense regardless of whether there's a quid pro quo with the aid.
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one of the republican talking points, we heard it from lindsey graham, is that there was no quid pro quo, but there is very strong evidence that there was a quid pro quo here. the section that kaitlan was reading was the ukrainian president talking about the military aid that he was looking forward to getting from the u.s. government and then how he was going to spend that money on american weapons. that is the comment that prompts the president to say, i would like you to do us a favor, which is give me dirt on my political rivals. one more technical point. at the very end, what pam was reading, that quote about biden, if we could put it back up on the screen. that last line, biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution so you can look into it. can we just put it up on the screen? >> it is page 4.
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>> look at the elipses there? what is that? >> the white house has said it is not a verbatim transcript of the discussion. >> that's an important part of the transcript. >> very. >> there are several here at significant parts. is that something that was edited out? >> great point. >> i don't mean to suggest anything untoward, but if you are looking at this in a, you know, evidentiary way, you certainly would want to know what the context of those ellipses are there and throughout the five pages. >> kaitlan. >> right now the president is in between meetings with world leaders, that's what he has going on all day. that's where he was when he was speaking there when he was speaking about impeaching democrats, often a tactic when he is accused or blamed of something that he turns it around to whoever is saying it about him. he will be in meetings all day. it is interesting what he thinks of the coverage after he finishes for the day. he was assured by aides that
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releasing this would prove him right. aides felt confident there was no smoking gun here and now you are seeing what jeffrey read there and there will be questions about that. >> kaitlan, do you see the parallel i saw in the president's answer there, that he said that the democrats asking of something of favor from the ukrainian president is an impeachable offense? >> which is what the transcript is saying here. like jeffrey was saying, even if he doesn't explicitly say i'm not giving you this military aid if you don't conduct this investigation into joe biden, the democrats are saying him saying investigate joe biden, this guy running for president against me, is enough for them to move forward with impeachment. >> what a development, two developments. i think people should not forget there are two significant things here, kaitlan. there are this transcript and all of the asks of the president here to the president of ukraine after discussing aid, and there is the department of just sis saying no on an ig referral about a criminal complaint, was it a violation of campaign
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finance laws. bill barr leading the justice department saying, nothing to see here. >> bill barr who pushed for this letter and transcript to be put out. >> thank you, kaitlan. great reporting. thank you for being with me. i'm poppy harlow in new york. jim and i will see you in d.c. for special coverage tomorrow morning. my colleague, indicate bolduan continues coverage now. >> hello, everyone. i'm kait bolduan. as you can see, it has been a morning of breaking news. the white house released its account of the july phone call between president trump and ukrainian president zelensky. the first details we have of what led to the whistle-blower complaint against the president, the call is only part of the allegations laid out in this complaint. the rest of it we have -- we do not know. the white house account though does reveal president trump said the following to the ukrainian president. if you could


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