tv At This Hour With Kate Bolduan CNN September 25, 2019 8:00am-9:00am PDT
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 look into it, it
sounds horrible to me. trump there explicitly talking about former vice president joe biden. much more on this throughout the hour. remember, this is just the first step in what is now history making, a formal impeachment inquiry underway. soon the white house says it will be releasing the whistle-blower complaint. how much, what it looks like, we don't know, which the white house had previously been withholding from congress, a complaint that's now at the center of the house democrat's impeachment investigation. let's go to washington right now. pamela brown is standing by. pam, the president just said he did not from this call, that he did not apply any pressure, absolutely no pressure to the ukrainian president. can you layout please what are the details that they released of the call? >> we will go ahead and just let the viewers decide if the president is accurate with that because we now have the conversation in this memorandum that is provided by the white house of the president's call
with president zelensky and ukraine. we should start off with after the pleasantries the president made reference to all of the help that the u.s. has given ukraine. here is what he said. a lot of the european countries are the same way, so i think it is something you want to look at, but the united states has been very, very good to ukraine. i wouldn't say that it is reciprocal necessarily because things are happening that are not good, but the united states has been very, very good to ukraine. now, he doesn't explicitly say here that we will, you know, withdraw some of that help if you don't investigate joe biden, but he is certainly teeing up what he says is a favor later on in the conversation. we should also note that president zelensky thanked president trump for u.s. support of defense, which would be military aid. it was after that when the president followed up to say, i would like you to do us a favor though. from there on page 4 of the five-page transcript, kait, the president says -- and after
zelensky, president zelensky brought up rudy guilliani, the president said, 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 could do about that would be great. if you could look into that, it sound horrible to me. there is no direct evidence to back up the president's allegation that joe biden, the president's political rival, democratic presidential candidate, had the prosecutor in ukraine fired in order to end the investigation into a company tied to his son, hunter biden. joe biden has publicly talked about the fact that he wanted that prosecutor fired and pushed for it because he didn't do enough to combat corruption. in response to this, president zelensky of ukraine said, since we have won the absolute majority in our parliament, the next prosecutor general 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. that prosecutor, kait, we're told is actually in office. you are having president zelensky saying, yes, once my new prosecutor is in place we are going to reopen this and look at this. it is notable even though president trump mentioned biden's name one time during the consideration, he referred to this investigation, his desire for it to be reopened multiple times, saying that his own attorney general bill barr and his personal attorney rudy guilliani would be reaching out to the ukrainians on the matter. so he made it very clear there that this was a top priority for him. now, republicans are saying -- and we heard lindsey graham say it, that there's no explicit quid pro coulquo, but we know h the president talks. he won't come out and say something. we learned that with the mueller report, his intent to fire robert mueller. he rarely comes out and
explicitly says it. he teed up the conversation, talking about u.s. support to ukrainians and put in what he said, i would like you to do me a favor, and then bringing up joe biden. also in the bigger context, it is not the first time that president trump has pushed for a political rival to be investigated. we reported previously, kait, that the president pushed his then-white house counsel and acting department of justice attorney general to investigate hillary clinton. he would often bring it up. push for doj to investigate hilary clinton, and now we have this clear example of the president pushing the president of ukraine to reopen an investigation that he believes would be damaging to his political rival, joe biden. so this is really significant, and now we are learning there was a criminal complaint from the icig to doj out of concern it could be a violation of campaign finance laws, and doj declined to move forward with
that. of course, bill barr is mentioned several times in the transcript. he is the attorney general. it raises all sorts of questions about how it has been handled, kait. >> pamela, thank you so much for laying it out. there's a lot going on here today. jeffrey toobin laughs at me off camera, it is the understatement of the year. let me bring in evan perez. this has been your reporting, that the ig also reached out to doj over this. what are you learning? >> that's right, kait. the referral from the inspector general for the intelligence community came over to this building, to the justice department at the end of august. both the criminal division here at the justice department and the fbi received these referrals. now, they looked at this and they determined that there was not a crime here. i will read you just a part of a statement from the justice department spokeswoman, carey cooper, actually says the criminal division reviewed the official record of the call -- the call between the presidents -- and determined based on the facts and
applicable law that there was no campaign finance violation and no further action was warranted. this is a closed matter as far as the justice department is concerned. they looked at whether or not because the inspector general sent it over seeking an opinion whether it was a campaign finance violation. it is illegal for a campaign to accept a thing of value from a foreign entity. they tualked to the people that produced the transcript of the call and determined it was evidence that they could look at, and that's how they arrived at the conclusion. the big question as pamela raised was the role of attorney general bill barr. now, he is mentioned in the call. multiple times the president says i want you to talk to my attorney general, in addition to rudy guilliani, his personal attorney. according to the justice department no such communication
ever happened. bill barr never talked to the ukrainians, never talked to the president about this. the first time he learned about this was when the referral came over to the justice department. there was no recusal by the attorney general. there was no consideration of a recusal. so he was overseeing all of this. we know that under the rules the final determination here was made by brian benjakowsky, the head of the criminal division according to the justice department. now, of course, the questions will continue. the president -- i'm sorry. i'm sure the democrats on the hill will be asking questions about bill barr and whether or not he should have played a role overseeing any of this given the fact that his name is raised in the call by the president of the united states. >> this transcript, if you call it that, definitely raises questions about that and many other things. evan, great reporting. thank you so much. with me, let me bring in gloria borger, cnn's chief political analyst. gloria, in terms of response, we heard the president and how he
is reacting to it. elizabeth warren called it a smoking gun. lindsey graham today says that he doesn't see anything concerning here. he says the ask is not and ask and the ask -- and and ask isn't enough. that means what when you are looking at this this broadly, which we need to keep perspective here. >> this is kind of a test and people are retreating into their corners here. the president calls it a nothing call and lindsey graham says there wasn't and ask, but as pamela just outlined to you in great detail the president has a way of asking without asking. in fact, he did say -- he did say, i would like you to do me a favor. i think that's kind of and ask, don't you? so everybody is looking at this differently. we know from covering the russia investigation and the whole mueller story that when michael cohen testified he said, you know, the president doesn't just
come out and tell you when he wants you to do something. you know when he wants you to do something. he doesn't have to say it. in the context of the conversation, kate, we are having here, you have zelensky saying, we want to cooperate -- by the way, zelensky is so unctuous and so complimentary of the president and saying, we want to buy more javelins. then the president says, i would like you to do me a favor and he talks about the conspiracy narratives we have been hearing from rudy guilliani among others, about the stolen democratic e-mails. that's one point where there's an ellipses in this transcript, i might add. then he goes on later to talk about investigating joe biden. before he says it sounds horrible to me, referring to biden and hunter biden, there is another ellipses in this transcript. i think the democrats would want
to flesh that out. but to go back to your question, is it surprising that people are retreating into their own corners here? i don't think so. i think what the democrats see as an abuse of power some republicans will just shrug and say, you know, donald trump didn't have a firm ask and say, in exchange for this will you do this. i think the question they have to answer is how he made it appear as if the full force of the united states government was behind him in everything he was asking. he said, well, talk to the attorney general, and the attorney general is now saying i didn't know anything about this. so the president was representing something to the president of ukraine that, in fact, was not the case if you listen -- if you listen to bill barr. and then ask the question, who is rudy guilliani and why is he doing these things for the president of the united states. >> gloria raised some really interesting points.
jeffrey toobin is here with me, kaitlan collins, samantha as well. jeffrey, to the point, how explicit does a quid pro quo need to be? the point on the transcript on page 2 or a couple of different places, i will have to say we do a lot for ukraine, we expend a lot of effort, we spend a lot of effort and a lot of time, much more than the european countries are doing and they should be helping more. i wouldn't say it is reciprocal necessarily because things are happening that are not good, but the united states has been very, very good to ukraine. what is your take here? >> first of all, let's be clear that quid pro quo is not necessary for this phone call to be wildly inappropriate and potentially impeachable. >> okay. >> the very notion of asking a foreign leader for dirt on a political opponent, independent of the issue of quid pro quo is troubling to many, many people.
but there is also enormous evidence that there was a quid pro quo. if you read this transcript in its entirety, you know, i have been speaking english since i was a little boy. i know all of the words in english. >> you know lots of words. >> when someone says, "i want you to do me a favor," that means i want you to do me a favor. that means i want you to do something for me. what he is asking for is political -- the dirt on joe biden. that's what he is asking for. indica as kaitlan pointed out earlier, erases that at the precise moment after zelensky raises the issue of we need money for our defense. money, favor. quid pro quo. >> real quick, kaitlan because i will forget i want to ask this if it goes any further.
>> okay. >> and ask if it didn't happen -- if the ask happens and what the ask was does not occur, right? if he asked ukraine, ukraine doesn't investigate, doesn't provide the thing of value then in return, is that still a problem? >> it is a bit -- remember, this call is only july. this is happening in real-time. the problem for donald trump is that he got caught -- >> a meeting in three hours, by the way. zelensky and trump are meeting in three hours, so -- >> right. and donald trump's problem is that he got caught, and that's why this is stopping. >> okay. >> if he hadn't gotten caught, who knows what would have happened. >> okay. so, kaitlan, on the most basic level then -- i know a lot of people are wondering this as i have been wondering since this was released, why did the white house release it? >> they thought it would clear the president and make him look good, dispel the drama surrounding the call and whether or not he tied the military aid to an investigation for joe biden, which they said didn't
happen. the people we talked to said the president didn't make any remarks about aid, and he doesn't, but ukraine's president brings up military aid here. which we should note days before the call is when the president directed mick mulvaney, chief of staff, to call the pentagon, freeze the military aid going to ukraine because they were reviewing it. they didn't provide a reason to the pentagon why they were doing so. pentagon officials were confused why. then this call happened and in it zelensky said, we look forward to your great support in the area of defense, they look forward to buying more military equipment and trump's next line is i would like for you to do me a favor though. the white house says trump didn't bring up the aid, but zelensky brought up the aid and immediately after that is when the president makes his request. the questions going forward here will be why did they release this, and in particular we know that the attorney general bill barr was pushing for release of the letter against people of state like mike pompeo, who warned the president, don't
release this transcript, it is going to set a bad precedent going forward. the question is why barr would want it released since his name is essentially all over it and you see how the president sees rudy guilliani and bill barr through the same lens. >> that may be the least surprising thing. >> true. >> sam, first, what is your point? >> obviously to your point, pompeo wouldn't want this released. the president trashes a u.s. ally, germany. he trashes the u.s. ambassador to ukraine and it is detrimental to national security. any foreign leader that meets with the president has to expect that their communications will end up on the front page of the new yo"new york times" and on c. this is deeply damaging to president trump and to president zelensky. he is an active participant in what i see as a quid pro quo. from this point from a national security perspective we have to assume every communication the
president has, all of the work the state department and others are doing on behalf of ukraine going forward will be subject to congressional scrutiny. all of the work that should be done likely will be evidence, including the meeting happening in three hours between president trump and president zelensky. you can kind of see them wanting to get in there and compare notes about how to handle it. >> i can't even believe the news some days. i can't believe it is happening on this day. >> it is happening in real-time. these two leaders are talking about investigating a rival of president trump. zelensky is asking for aid and they're getting together. let's hope a note taker is in that room in three hours. >> sam, can you gut check me on this. the dot, dot, dot, kind of that important place -- >> the ellipses. >> i call them dot, dot, dot. if you can look into it, dot, dot, dot, it sounds horrible to me. do you question the completeness and the accuracy of what you see here? >> i think we have to be a it careful. you know, i think the white house released the transcript not only because they want us to focus on the ellipses, the
commas, pauses, whatever. they are often used if there's a pause in conversation in these transcripts. taking out aspects of the transcript purposefully would violate the presidential records act. i know it is a minor offense in light of the other things we are discussing, but there are explanations for these ellipses. we have to keep these transcripts in perspective. if we spend so much time focusing on dot, dot, dot rather than on the full transcript or the whistle-blower complaint, we will fall into the president's trap. >> i think it is important to state one more time that this is important regardless because it is more information, but this, the details of this call are one piece of the story. while it might be overwhelming or it feels to me sometimes the drip, drip, drip that might be coming out, what is -- all along we have known that the call, this call was only part of the complaint from the whistle-blower that was deemed urgent and credible from the inspector general who is appointed by the president of
the united states. so it truly is -- we've been with this news. it is still stand by to stand by because we have a whistle-blower complaint that is what is the core and center of this and we don't know the fullness of it. >> no, we don't. what is also interesting is that the president when you are listening to the president talk about impeachment earlier and you can see he is clearly frustrated, yesterday morning he is a call with house speaker nancy pelosi. they wanted to discuss that whistle-blower's complaint. they talked about it. it is unclear where they got in the conversation, but they left it with trump feeling confident. that's when he made the decision to authorize the release of the transcript we are talking about now. then later administration officials started working with the intelligence community about how to release that whistle-blower's complaint, which we're still told is in the works, because trump thought doing that was going to de-escalate the tensions you are see ingram ping up on capitol hill calling for his impeachment. when nancy pelosi came out yesterday and made her announcement the president was incredulous. he couldn't believe he wasn't able to change her mind because
he walked into the conversation thinking that was how it would end. it is interesting that the president thought it was going to clear him and make democrats look silly not only for calling for impeachment but especially now that they were launching a formal inquiry and whether or not that changes -- >> stand by a second, jeffrey. let me get to capitol hill. cnn's manu raju is there where this impeachment inquiry is unfolding. you just caught up with the top republican in the house, kevin mcarthy. what did he tell you? >> reporter: well, house republicans are defending the president in the aftermath of the release of this transcript saying it backs up what he says. there are some questions about exactly how they're defending him as well. kevin mccarthy told me this. he talked about biden in the call. how many times did he mention him in the call. >> he -- >> he mentioned him one time. >> reporter: who brought it up. >> you watch the president, the president of ukraine brought it
up. >> reporter: you are okay with the president's call? >> so actually the transcript shows thats it w shows that it was not the president of ukraine that brought up the bidens. it was the president of the united states that brought up the bidens. this is what president trump says according to the transcript. there's a lot of talk about biden's son, that biden stopped the prosecution. a lot of people want to find out about that. whatever you can do with the attorney general would be great. biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution, if you can look into it, it sounds horrible to me. president trump is the one who brought it up, not the ukrainian president. mccarthy said he hadn't made the transcript but he was making that argument. other republicans who have read the transcript, including the republican who led the russian investigation last congress told me there's nothing wrong with the conversations with the bidens. they were talking about draining
the swamp. that's their view. democrats have a different view, including the house speaker who hasn't read the transcript but she says it backs up her call yesterday. >> the transcript is out. do you think the congress needs to talk to attorney general barr. the president offers -- >> i haven't seen it. i have just come from my own meeting, but the transcript -- the fact is that the president of the united states in breach of his constitutional responsibilities has asked a foreign government to help him in his political campaign at the expense of our national security as well as undermining the integrity of our elections. that cannot stand. he will be held accountable. no one is above the law. >> and you are hearing democrats also call for the recusal of the attorney general, bill barr. as the investigation continues, we will see how that ultimately
turns out. clearly it is not tamping down on the calls for impeachment from democrats as they feel emboldened in the release of the transcript. >> yes, and the focus returning to capitol hill once again. thanks, manu. he will have much more reporting as he chases more members of congress around. we appreciate it, manu. let me bring in democratic congresswoman debbie powell, a member of the house judiciary committee. of course, one of the committees that will be part of this investigation, this impeachment investigation. i want to ask you, congressman, have you had a chance to read the details of the call released this morning? >> good morning, kate. i have only reviewed it briefly. we are actually conducting an important hearing in the judiciary committee today, which is the assault weapons ban law. so, you know, this is all breaking so quickly and i haven't had a chance to review it fully. >> i will just read you one of the key portions because i do want to get your reaction. in this phone call with ukrainian president, president trump says at one point, 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. when you hear that, what is your reaction? >> look, i don't think anything has changed with the release of this memorandum from the white house. i think that it is extremely concerning that we have a president that's using the power of his office to put pressure on a foreign leader to try to get information on his political opponent. i have heard some comments from some of my colleagues in the minority party, the republican party, who are trying to politicize this and turn it around. i think that this cannot be a political issue. we have to protect the constitution. we have to protect the stun institutions that make this country a democratic and
precountry. free country. i'm concerned that my colleagues are politicizing it. it is a protecting the constitution, it is about abuse of power. we have a president betraying his office and the american people and we need to continue to investigate. >> let me ask you. you came out in support of impeachment proceedings in june, well before this whistle-blower complaint came to light. speaker pelosi was not there until now. if the actual whistle-blower complaint could be headed to congress still, could this formal proceeding still be premature? >> look, what we're seeing from this president is a pattern of abuse of power, obstruction of justice. he has continued to obstruct our investigative efforts in congress and the judiciary committee, and i think that this has been a tipping point not only for the speaker but for many of my colleagues that are seeing this th seeing that this president is undermining our national security. it is a clear cut case.
we need to wait to see what the director of national intelligence will -- what information he is going to provide on thursday in front of the house intelligence committee. but i do believe that it is clear that now we have a sitting president that is using his power to put pressure on a foreign leader. i would ask that we don't politicize it. i would ask my republican colleagues to not politicize this. we would not -- we haven't allowed this behavior from the past 44 presidents. we shouldn't allow it now. >> right. >> no one is above the law. >> the important part about it is getting information out and getting the most -- getting fact out. that's what i'm talking about. it still could be premature because you don't have the whistle-blower report, which is what the motivation is at the core, the impetus of bringing -- of bringing impeachment proceedings to begin from nancy pelosi. let me ask you because of the path forward and i think it is critical and i want to ask you this. cnn is also reporting -- cnn is
also reporting that one of the -- that some members believe part of the reason behind pelosi's effort to seize on the whistle-blower complaint, the impetus for whistle-blower, was to give more power to the house intelligence committee rather than your committee, the how judiciary committee. one person put it this way. i have not met one member who thinks jerry nadler has handled this right, the chairman of the judiciary committee. do you think it is part of what is happening here? >> look, it is unfortunate that we have a colleague that is criticizing the work of the chairman of the judiciary committee. we have been full force working very hard to hold this president accountable, and i do believe that the speaker has made it very clear that she has full faith and trust that the chairman of the six committees need to continue to do their work to hold the president accountable. this is a very dangerous situation that we're seeing. i do believe that we are
entering a constitutional crisis, and our unity as the speaker always says is our strength. i would call all of us to be united including, again, my colleagues from the minority party because this shouldn't be political. this is about the future of our country, the future of our democracy and protecting our constitution. >> so last night the republican-led senate, adopted by unanimous consent, a resolution calling for the trump administration to provide the full whistle-blower complaint to congress, something i was skeptical when i was talking about it yesterday. does that fact give you hope? >> it does actually. i do think and i have heard from some of my colleagues that they have been speaking with their senators who are republican senators, that this definitely changes the calculus for them. if they get full evidence and the information from the whistle-blower complaint where they confirm that this president was using the aid that had been
appropriated by congress as a leverage point to put influence, to exert influence on a foreign leader to get information on a political opponent, that that crosses that red line. i have heard actually from a lot of my constituents that feel the same way. >> i'm sorry. are you saying that you have heard from republican senators if these facts bear out, it is the tipping point for them? >> i do think -- yes, yes, that's correct. >> you have heard from republican senators that? that's a very big deal. >> yes. >> you want to name names? >> what is happening in our country is a very, very serious situation. i think that we do have patriots in both congress here in the house and in the senate, and i am hopeful that they will put the country before their political interests. >> do you want to tell us who has told you that? >> no. no, no. >> i had to ask. >> yes, no, no. >> thank you very much, congresswoman. much more to come.
appreciate it. >> thank you. >> that's very interesting. let's go back to the white house right now. pamela brown is standing by. pamela, what are you learning about how the white house came up with this memo, came up with the transcript, these details that are released now? >> yes, that's one of the big questions because it is the white house releasing this transcript. so the question is how is it made, is it fulsome, does it con dane every b contain every bit of the conversation between president trump and the president of ukraine. we should note at the bottom there's a disclaimer. it says the transcript is not a verbatim transcript of the conversation. it records the observations of the policy staff assigned to listen and memorialize the conversation in written form as it takes place. i'm told by a senior white house official that the white house also uses voice recognition software, and so it is a combination of efforts. the voice recognition software will then give the transcript
out and then it will be looked at by the note takers in the room listening to the call. the other nse and white house officials who are listening in on that call, they look at the transcript and sign off. but what is notable here, kate, is on a couple of occasions there is the ellipses, the dot, dot, dot. one of the areas, of course, is when the president is talking about joe biden. the first time erases biden it says to me, it says in the transcript biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution. so if you can look into it, dot, dot, dot, it sounds horrible to me. now, we don't know if that is the voice recognition software because the voice trailed off or if something else was said that is not in this. i have asked the white house for clarification on that and have not heard back, kate. >> all right, pamela. thank you so much. i really appreciate it. i have a couple of questions. let me bring kaitlan and samantha back in. first and foremost, i want to make sure this is not
overlooked. attorney general bill barr as was pointed out is mentioned multiple times in this. the reporting is that he also says he never received and ask, he never had a phone call. is that surprising to you? would he have received a read out of a call like this? >> back in my day part of the releaps of the transcript would be to make sure that work is followed up upon and any cabinet official mentioned in the transcript hears about what happened. so the justice department saying that ag barr didn't hear about this call until weeks after it happens means that they're either lying or this transcript never made its way to the attorney general, even though president trump said he was going to ask attorney general barr and his personal lawyer to follow up with the ukrainians. debriefing rudy guilliani doesn't count. it appears he may have spoken to guilliani about what happened, but left attorney general barr in the dark. attorney general barr should have gotten a transcript. secretary of state pompeo should have gotten a transcript. i kind of cringe to think from a
foreign policy perspective how pompeo could have read this transcript, and leaving aside the legal issues could have thought it was anything but a massive blow to our foreign policy agenda. >> it is fascinating. it is an interesting point. kaitlan, it was just raised to me that the trump campaign is fundraising off of this now. >> yes, we are seeing how this will be handled not only in the white house but also in the president's campaign, outside allies. essentially they're framing it as a democratic hit jock. they' -- hit job. they're saying, quote, because of their pure hatred for president trump, desperate democrats determined their mission to take out the president. they go on to essentially frame it as the russia investigation 2.0, which is how they're going to see them push this because they think that because of the -- already the russia investigation didn't lead anywhere, now they will try this with the ukrainian story. the question will be and what democrats will argue is that this is something that the american people can understand.
it is not this russia investigation that is complicated with all of these layers. it is the president asking a foreign leader for help investigating a political rival. they argue that that's actually why they're moving forward with impeachment because it is easier to understand. the trump campaign and his allies are hoping because there wasn't the president saying explicitly, if you don't investigate joe biden i'm not going to give you this military aid, that then they can effectively message this as this is just another effort by the democrats to take down the president. >> i want to get over really quickly. mitt romney, republican senator mitt romney, one of the few if not only republicans who have been critical or have at least said, if true this would be a very big deal. he was speaking this morning. he spoke this morning at the atlantic festival. he spoke about impeachment. let's listen to this together. >> we have a lot of issues we want to talk about today, but obviously i think we would be remiss if we don't start with the news. the white house just released
the call summary between president trump and the president of ukraine. what was your reaction? you have read it, i assume? >> i have. my reaction was the same as i had a few days ago, which is this remains deeply troubling and we'll see where it leads. but the first reaction is troubling. >> was it -- get some support for that. in the summary that we saw, did that amount to a quid pro quo agreement or at least the implication of a quid pro quo in your view? >> i don't know that i focused so much on the quid pro quo element as perhaps some do. there's just the question of -- and i said this in my first reaction, which is if the president of the united states asks or presses the leader of a foreign country to carry out an investigation of a political nature that's troubling. i feel that.
so clearly if there were a quid pro quo that would take it to an entirely more extreme level. >> but in your mind it is serious either way. you're essentially alone among republican officials in expressing concern over this. i do think it is worth articulating why you think it is so seriously. also, why do you think so many of your fellow republicans have been quiet on this subject or actively defending the president? >> well, there's such enormous power associated with being the party in power, both in the white house as well as in the senate and the house. of course, people know that in the house because you can pass all of the bills you want if your party is in power, but also in the senate. even though it requires 60 votes to actually get any legislation through, if you are the majority leader you get to decide what we vote on. it is extraordinary power. so i think it is very natural
for people to look at circumstances and see them in the light that's most amenable to their maintaining power and doing things to preserve their power. i think part of that is that both parties feel very deeply that if the other party were in charge that terrible things would happen for the country and for the people, and that it is critical for them to hold on to their leadership so that those awful things that bernie sanders is talking about won't come to pass. so i think it is just in human na nature to see things in a way consistent with your own world view and your sense of what is necessary for the preservation of your position of power. i don't know why i'm not afflicted to the same degree as perhaps others are in that regard. maybe it is because i'm old and have done it -- >> there are no other old senators, right? >> yeah. one senator said, hey, welcome to the club. it is a club for old men.
so i fit right in. >> but i mean just to get back to that, you know, you're describing partisanship that's been with us for a long time, but at some point congress is supposed to hold the executive branch accountable, right? there has to be a level of accountability. you are out there at least expressing concern and saying there should be some accountability for these actions. what kind of accountability do you think the president should face given what you've learned so far? what should the consequences be? >> well, the consequences are being considered by the house, and i'm not going to give advice to speaker pelosi. she will do whatever she thinks is in the best interests of the country and in the best interests of her position of power and her party. she is pursuing that. we will see where that leads. there will be additional information that comes out as the whistle-blower is heard from. the senate is doing what is right, which i think is insisting that the whistle-blower appear before the senate intelligence committee, so more information will come
from that front. >> could this in your view rise to an impeachable offense? >> i think it is -- again, i'm going to leave it what i've said and let the process gather the facts that will ultimately come out. >> okay. i might try to come back to you on that, but for now -- >> a valiant effort, an important day to be speaking with republican senator mitt romney. with this, let me get back to gloria borger if i could. gloria, senator romney has been a bit of an odd man out on this. what do you make of what he said there? >> well, i think his explanation was actually fascinating to those of us who have covered congress. it was honest. he said, this is all about power and this is all about either getting power or keeping power. so if you are a republican, he said, and you want to keep your power you are going to defend donald trump and vice versa for the democrats. now, why is it mitt romney different? he said because he's old. the reason he's different also is because he's just elected and
i think it doesn't get much safer than a senate seat from utah if your name is romney. he is sort of the lone voice out there. he wouldn't -- he wouldn't go to the step of impeachment. he did say, his reaction is deeply troubling. but when you compare what he said for example to what lindsey graham said, who i point out is up for election in the state of south carolina, lindsey graham not troubled at all. mitt romney, deeply troubled. mitt romney is the outlier so far. you know, the question is will as this story progresses -- and i would argue we need to know more about donald trump's eventual call to vladimir putin. we need to know more about the circumstances regarding the firing of that ukrainian ambassador that donald trump talks about in this -- in this phone call. we need to know more about this. we need to unravel it a little
bit more, and we can find out more if there was anything like a quid pro quo in the offing. i think that's what romney is saying. he is saying, look, we have to know more of these details. as our friend jeff toobin was saying yesterday, these things get more complicated. they don't get less complicated. >> yes. >> it will get more complicated. >> sure. >> but i think romney is holding his fire, but gave a very -- a very honest answer i thought about what puts people in their corners. >> yes. >> which is this notion, i want to keep my power or i want to get some power. >> i think it is an important perspectively. look, things will get more complicated, i think that people underestimate -- i think the american people, viewers, the american people can handle complicated if it is something that's important. >> exactly. >> it is the job of those in power to explain it if it is complicated, if it needs explaining. one thing that romney is getting at, and i was thinking about it this morning because this is what i don't get. this isn't about one phone call
or -- >> exactly. >> -- a leak about a presidential phone call. >> right, right. >> this is about a whistle-blower complaint that an inspector general appointed by president trump deemed urgent and credible. >> exactly. >> i know i'm jumping on my soap box for a second, but those are no small words here. the letter that the inspector general sent to congress on the 9th states that the complaint met both of those legal standards. i will read them in part for our friends. i determined that the complainants disclosure met the definition of an urgent concern, the ig writes. i also determine there were reasonable grounds to believe that information relating to the urgent concern appeared credible. i'm just wondering why that is not enough for left, right and center, everyone in congress to say, i want to get to the bottom of it. i want to hear from the whistle-blower. >> right. well, i think everybody does want to hear from the whistle-blower. i mean you were talking earlier about the vote in the senate
yesterday, the unanimous vote to say, let's hear from this -- let's hear from this whistle-blower, let's get the story directly. don't forget, you are talking about an inspector general thatstthat is a trump-appointed inspector general. there are already republicans claiming that the whistle-blower, whomever he or she is, is a partisan, but this inspector general is a trump appointment. so they can't say the same thing about that. i think that's a problem. i do think that everybody, democrats and republicans, want to let this story play out a little bit more. this is just one piece of the puzzle, whether it is the fruition of what went on before or the beginning of something that went on after, we don't really know yet. but whatever it was, it was enough to inspire a whistle-blower with some knowledge of how the intelligence community works
obviously, to do what he or she believed was the right thing at some great personal risk and take this to the inspector general who deemed it, as you point out, urgent and credible. >> i think that is -- for me that is really where this comes back to. >> exactly. >> there's an inspector general whose job was to look at this, who said this needs to follow the prescribed legal path. he looked into it and said, this is urgent and credible and this is where this needs to go now. so i feel like we are at still the very beginning. >> yes. >> gloria, thank you very much. joining me, i want to get more perspective, former associate white house counsel under george bush, jamil javers. give me your take from your perspective of being in the white house counsel's office, what you see in the release of the details of this call but also where that puts this investigation right now. >> well, kate, it is sort of astounding. you normally see readouts, as
sam was saying, released of calls, summaries of the calls made on these transcripts. it is unusual to see a detailed transcript like this released. so clearly the white house and the justice department thinks it is in their favor. now, obviously we also have heard secretary pompeo was arguing against releasing this. it is very unusual to see something like this released, and so we'll see how it plays out. i think what everyone is really going to focus on is you have today and sam has, kate, is this is the lines between pages two and three where zelensky says i want to buy javelins and the president says, yeah, though i want to talk about this other thing, i want to talk about crowdstrike in ukraine. the president is confused there. there was a crowdstrike link up in that crowdstrike found that the people targeted dnc targeted the ukrainian military systems. i am a little confused with the president there, but i think that's where the crowdstrike thing plays in. but it is the tie between
javelin. one thing worth saying, president trump is the first to provide a military to ukraine and that's why it matters so much. unlike president obama when crimea was invaded and russia began inappropriate activities in eastern ukraine we didn't provide military aid. an interesting dynamic playing out. >> absolutely. jamil, stand by for me a second. sam, one thing that was raised by the president this morning when he was responding that i am just to be honest now recalling, when he said a few weeks ago democrats m democrats met with ukrainian president zelensky and his wording was if he they met with him it would be impeachable. there was a meeting. democrats met with him, i think it was senator chris murphy and others. can you give me your take on that? >> yes, the president is echoing something guilliani said on "fox news" last night. he said that the democrats or chris murphy who met with
zelensky should be impeached. senator chris murphy met with zelensky and was joined by a republican, senator ron johnson. the president is leaving out the fact that a republican was part of the meeting because, kate, ukraine has been an issue where there's been bipartisan support in terms of russian aggression. in responding to jamil's point, we provided assistance to ukraine after russia invaded crimea and started the conflict in eastern ukraine. president trump likes to spin the fact obama didn't provide military assistance. he said yesterday obama provided blankets and pillows. we provided significant assistance to ukraine, just not lethal assistance as president trump has done up until now. >> so much and more. great to see you. kaitlan, this all -- exactly what sam is talking about. >> wow, yes. >> leads me to wonder as was pointed out earlier, president trump is meeting with the
president of ukraine in a matter of hours. >> yes. >> just what that could mean now in light of this? >> it is so interesting. because when you were looking at this, the meeting we should note was arranged before the firestorm over this phone call was not supposed to be a highlight of the president's time here at the united nations summit. that was probably one of the least news worthy expected meetings that the president was going to have in between several other sit-downs with world leaders and now it is going to be one of the main focuses of the entire trip, if not the main focus that has overshadowed his entire time here. what is interesting is the president, like, six months ago when we talked to sources, he wasn't that interested in engaging with zelensky and ukraine. he dismissed them, blew them off as a corrupt country he said wasn't committed to reform. now the white house is counting on this meeting today, they say they're hoping zelensky will back the president up, they are hoping they can use the meeting to counter democrats.
>> so it is all on president zelensky here. >> who, by the way, may be corrupt based on the transcript. he is no character witness we should rely on based on the things you have said. >> not a typical world leader. he was a former comedian. it is not like he had a wealth of experience in government before, so that's also something to keep in mind. essentially they will be using that to counter the democrats during this meeting this afternoon. it will be interesting to see the interactions between the two of them. >> to say the very least. >> to put it lightly. >> kylie, you have been looking at -- one person mentioned throughout, one person who has been on the ukraine investigation, if you want to put it, for a very long time has been rudy guilliani. >> right. >> kaitlan puts it really well, that you see in this memo, the details coming from the white house that the president is putting rudy guilliani, his personal attorney, on the same level as attorney general bill barr in this conversation with the ukrainian president. you have been -- look, there's a
lot to it. you have been looking at that relationship, rudy guilliani, ukraine, >> right. it's a complicated one because it involves the state department, it involves ghoiulii who is not someone who works for the trump white house. he works as his personal lawyer. that's important to note here. i do think as much as bill barr is front and center here, it is clear from this transcript that rudy giuliani in the eyes of president trump is also front and center when it comes to u.s. and ukrainian relations. president zelensky is the one who brings up giuliani but president trump follows that and says, yeah, giuliani is a great man, he knows a lot about this issue when references the issue of any democratic wrongdoing into the issue of ukraine. and he says to zelensky, i would
like you to have a phone call with giuliani. we don't know if that's actually happened. what we do know is giuliani and met with ukrainian officials. the state department hasn't answered any of our questions in recent days about what they were learning from the president's personal attorney in the conversations he was having. >> some more perspective, sam, is there a good reason for an issue of corruption on any issue between two nations that any president, any world leader would want to employ their private attorney to spearhead -- i'm stuttering because i don't get it. >> the short answer is no. >> of course not. the state department has rule of law programs. the state department has legal attaches and embassies that work
on anti-corruption. that does not happen via a president's personal lawyer or asking a foreign country to investigate a political rival. rudy giuliani is throwing the state department under the bus. he was flashing his phone around on fox news last night. he's really undercutting the state department's work. pompeo has stayed very close to president trump. he has had his favor. trump has a decision now as to whether he sticks with rudy mad libbing on tv or whether he tells him to cool it in light of the fact that he is directly hindering pompeo's work. every time he goes on television, rudy, he gives congress more evidence to investigate with respect to more wrongdoing by president trump. >> what's the view from white house advisors and those around the president on rudy giuliani's involvement? this is the umpteenth time. >> this isn't the first time he has given him a headache. people in the white house really
dismiss rudy giuliani. they do not like that they often have to be dealing with blowback when rudy giuliani has gone on television and given an interview. this dates all the way back to those hush money payments. it's par for the course now. but for people to see just how involved rudy giuliani was in this way, they say it's because the president sees him as he does his other close range of advisors. the president didn't see a problem with him interacting with these world leaders because he thinks of him so similarly to how he views bill barr. that was a question raised in recent days, if the president truly thought that joe biden had done something wrong here, why not have the doj or the fbi involved in an investigation? >> there are state department and pentagon officials who have made a concerted effort to
shield themselves from anything that has to do with rudy giuliani, because they know that there is an implicit political implication there, right? so they want to be not at all involved in that. they work for the u.s. government. they don't work for president trump outside of his role as the president of the united states. the other thing to consider here is that rudy giuliani hasn't slowed down at all. he's here in new york. this is the united nations general assembly. we have world leaders here in new york. he's on fox news. he's been spotted with multiple world leaders throughout the week. i've talked to some diplomats who kind of raised their eyebrows because they were shocked he was out and about, comfortable enough to be having those meetings even though the spotlight is on president trump and largely because of rudy giuliani. >> gloria, thank you for sticking around. part of this memo of this call, it very clearly zelensky brings up rudy giuliani and says that
we are hoping very much that mr. giuliani will be able to travel to ukraine and we will meet once he comes to ukraine. just the role of rudy giuliani in this, i just want your perspective. >> well, rudy giuliani just won't go away because the president doesn't want him to go away. i remember during the russia investigation there were the real lawyers and then there was the tv lawyer who was rudy giuliani. and the real lawyers used giuliani as a way to talk to trump. he became the trump whisperer because they knew that trump would listen to him. so after the russia investigation goes away, he and trump continue their relationship and there are still some things that they're upset about. maybe it's the hillary clinton e-mails, maybe it's joe biden, they're trying to get trump elected in 2020. you know, it reminds me that rudy was there during stormy daniels, he was there for the whole michael cohen investigation when there was
questions about should we pardon michael cohen or not pardon michael cohen. and he's just risen again. and people in the state department and the national security agency are probably -- and kylie would know about this -- are probably pulling their hair out about this because they don't know how to handle him because the president wants him around. >> thank you so much, you guys. as we've said, there is much more breaking news to come. remember, i'm just going to give you another programming note. later this afternoon the president is sitting in that bilateral meeting with the president of ukraine. that is going to be the next chapter in this wild tale of today. most importantly, this is the beginning, the most important thing i'm going to say once again, yes, the call is one thing and part of it, but the whistleblower complaint is the core and the impetus of the impeachment proceedings and that is yet to be revealed what all is in that whistleblower complaint. we have much more after a quick break. orlando isn't just the theme park capital of the world,
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welcome to "inside politics." i'm john king. a declassified white house memo that democrats say proves president trump should be impeached for having a foreign government for 2020 election help. the president says that's a joke and that he did nothing wrong. we're likely to hear more from the president shortly. he has a big meeting with japan's prime minister at the united nations. we'll hear momentarily from the chairman of the house intelligence committee, adam schiff. we will take you there live. in the meantime, the memo runs five pages and details that july conversation with