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tv   Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer  CNN  September 25, 2019 3:00pm-4:01pm PDT

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the complaint that's being described as alarming. in denial. tonight the president insisting he did nothing wrong lashing out at opponents and spewing unsubstantiated allegations. how is he dealing with the growing danger of impeachment. and ask rudy. mr. trump dodges questions about his personal lawyer's involvement in urging ukraine to investigate biden. rudy giuliani, playing a central role in the newest scandal engulfing the president. we want to welcome our viewers in the united states and around the world, i'm wolf blitzer, you're in the situation room. >> this is cnn breaking news. >> we are following breaking news on the ukraine scandal that launched a formal impeachment investigation against president trump, the whistleblower complaint that started it all is now in the hands of congress and it's being reviewed by lawmakers right now. one democrat telling me the details are deeply disturbing.
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this comes after the release of a rough transcript that shows mr. trump pushed ukraine's president to investigate joe biden, his possible 2020 poent. president trump denies he put pressure, slamming the impeachment inquiry as a hoax. saying they have damming evidence of a shocking abuse of presidential power. we have a team of correspondents, experts and guests standing by as we cover this major breaking story. first, let's go to our chief white house correspondent jim acosta. a huge day in the presidency, we heard from the president just a little while ago as lawmakers are learning even more about his ukraine phone call. >> reporter: it was a critical day, wolf, but the president dodged questions and released a fog of conspiracy theory, the president offered no apologies from seeking help of the ukrainian president in trying to dig up dirt on joe biden.
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>> that was all of a sudden planned. >> delivering a long and rambling defense of his phone call with the leader of ukraine, president trump mocked the prospect of impeachment. >> they're getting hit hard on this witch hunt because when they look at the information, it's a joke. impeachment for that? >> it's better to be -- >> insisting he doesn't want to be drawn into the raging impeachment battle in washington while still asking for more military assistance from the u.s., ukrainian president vladimir zelensky told reporters he isn't feeling any pressure from president trump to investigate joe biden. >> i think you read everything, so i think you read text. i'm sorry, but i don't want to be involved to democratic elections of usa. no, we had i think good phone
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call. it was normal. we talk about many things, and so i think nobody push me, yes. >> in other words, no pressure. >> it appears there was pressure. the white house transcript of mr. trump's call with zelensky last july reveals after the ukrainian leader offered to buy more military equipment from the u.s., the president said i would like you to do us a favor, though, then on the next page mr. trump says, there's a lot of talk about biden's son, if you can look into it, it sound horrible to me. zelensky worked with his personal attorney, roouudy giuli and william barr, why giuliani seemed to be covering government business, he says ask rudy. >> i will tell you this, rudy is looking to also find out where the phoney witch hunt started. >> giuliani told fox news he was representing the administration. >> you know who i did it at the
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request of, the state department, i never talked to a ukrainian official until the state department called me and asked me to do it. laura, i'm a pretty good lawyer, just a country lawyer, but it's all here, right here. >> this is how a mafia boss talks. >> reporter: democrats are pouncing, accusing the president of shaking down the ukrainians, justifying their calls for a formal impeachment inquiry. >> the fact is that the president of the united states in breach of his constitutional responsibilities has asked a foreign government to help in his political campaign at the expense of our national security as well as undermining the integrity of our elections. that cannot stand. we will be held accountable the. >> the president suggesting, like new gun legislation. >> she really has lost her way. i'll tell you what, nancy pelosi
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is not interested in guns and gun protection and gun safety. all she's thinking about is that she's been taken over by the radical left the whole democrat party and you take a look at what's happening in the media today. the whole party is taken over by the left, and thank you very much, my poll numbers have gone up. >> reporter: most republicans are rallying around the president with some gop lawmakers gathering at the white house to hammer out their message, backing mr. trump. the white house accidentally sent some of their talking points to house democrats. so far only a few republicans are breaking from mr. trump. >> 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. and i feel that. >> now that the white house feels like it's been cleared by the release of the call transcript, the white house and the president are now going after the whistleblower whose complaint was turned over to lawmakers up on capitol hill just a short while ago, but
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wolf, when we listen to the president in that press conference just a short while ago, it sounded as if he is welcoming the prospect of impeachment and in the words of a trump adviser i spoke with earlier today, the president and his team are at their battle stations. wolf? >> jim acosta in new york for us. thank you. let's go to capitol hill right now where congressional court sunla sunland, they're in that secure confidential room, reading the whistleblower complaint. >> reporter: that's right, wolf. lawmakers are leaving that secure location where they are reading a classified version of the whistleblower's complaint. we are learning some small details. according to lawmakers, the whistleblower's complaint is between 10 and 12 pages long, approximately, that it's written in a plain and simple language, they said, certainly something that's very easily digestible. the members did read this again in a classified setting. it is still a classified document so they are unable to
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essentially discuss the substance of what the report actually says but the response more broadly speaking, we're hearing from lawmakers, after reading this report, is basically falling into partisan camps. republican we talked to said that their concern is no higher than it was before they read their complaint. democrats on the other side not mincing words at all saying that this is troubling, disturbing and only reinforces their concerns. here's what the house intelligence chairman adam schiff said moments after he completed reading the whistleblower complaint. >> i had the opportunity and said members of committee to read the whistleblower complaint. i found the allegations deeply disturbing. i also found them very credible. i can understand why the inspector general found them credible. even without the benefit yet of the inspector general's full analysis. but the complaint was very well written, and certainly provides
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information for the committee to follow up with other witnesses and documents so we're well aware of the work that we have to do and i want to thank the whistle blower for coming forward. i think that let this courageous -- what this courageous individual has done has exposed serious wrong doing, and i think it a travesty that this complaint was held as long as it was because it was an urgent matter, it is an urgent matter and there is no basis to keep this from the community. >> reporter: democrats we spoke to echo that sentiment, this complaint gives them more leads and more basis to pursue this complaint on the investigation. speaker of the house nancy pelosi has been in the house for a little over 20 minutes reading this classified document herself. >> like several other members of the house of representatives.
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sunlen serfaty, thank you very much. those viewers who may be tuning in this hour, step back a little bit, give us some perspective on the enormity of this day, and the developments that have unfolded. >> yeah, it was a woman shell of a day, and a day where the future of donald trump's presidency came into focus in some ways of what it's going to look like at least for the remainder of this term. of his first term, should he get reelected. what you saw was in the release of this rough transcript of a phone call, you saw something very rare in washington, you saw largely an unspinable document here. i know the president and his team are trying to down play the severity of this, but it is as clear as the president had made it in the days before about whi actions were, this tripleanscri wolf, made crystal clear, the
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president was using his position of power in order to urge a foreign leader to investigate a political rival. i just don't see any other possible interpretation of what was going on here, and i know the president says that's not what's going on because it was quid pro quo but i just want you to watch how the president handled himself at the press conference at the un today. that was a dejected president trump. we have seen him in much more sort of on his heels moments where he is fiery and fighting back, and punching back, and yes some of his words were doing that, but his overall tenure, how this president understands things on media and how things are playing. it seemed to ne a president who fully understood that he is in a world of hurt at the moment. >> dana, he did come across the president as rambling in his open statement and elsewhere and
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rather low energy. >> if he were watching somebody else give that, he would call them low energy trump. that's what he would do. i totally agree. he did seem maybe dejected, tired, it's exhausting, i think, being up tweeting to all hours of the night, in fact, never mind legitimately having a lot of very key meetings, including a very stressful meeting, again, just like many things in the trump world, you cannot write this if it were a script, with the guy who he was on the call with, this summer came out about, and having to dance around that, which was incredibly uncomfortable and maybe a little bit awkward to watch. nancy pelosi in that secure room. she's leaving. >> that's not nancy pelosi. >> yeah, that's not nancy pelosi. we believe she was going to be walking. she's wrapping up her read of that whistleblower complaint.
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>> right. which will be fascinating to see, maybe because you mentioned that it is worth noting how much of what we are seeing on capitol hill and the push by nancy pelosi because she feels so comfortable, as she mentioned right at the beginning of her speech a little more than 24 hours ago, with this kind of information. >> there she is, by the way, right there, let's see if she says anything. >> it is now been classified by the president. >> she said it's been classified by the president so she can't say anything. i assume they're going to go through a declassification process and release a lot of it. >> this is an area that she has incredible experience. before she was in leadership, she came up through the intelligence committee and so she understands, that it's kind of a dna of not just the committee but of the community and how these things work and
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how this issue from her perspective is married with the american public, and how it can be used and kind of digested by the american public just to show how donald trump is acting in a bad way, in a way that other issues, because there have been so many of them that they potentially could have gone after him on might not have risen to that level. >> it's interesting, susan, i'm anxious to get your thoughts, the president says to president zelensky, i would like you to do us a favor, whatever you can do it's very important that you do it, if that's possible. he's referring to getting negative information or dirt on the bidens, on hillary clinton and the democrats. >> this is an incredibly damming transcript, and i think at this point it's hard to believe president trump is not about to become the third president in american history to actually be impeached. what this transcript shows and this is just this transcript before we get to anything by the whistleblower complaint or additional reporting.
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it shows both a kwquid and a qu but there's certainly an implicit kwquid pro quo that's pressuring zelensky to do this for him in addition to u.s. and a foreign leader to investigate a political opponent, that's an abuse of office full stop. beyond that, he's soliciting a foreign leader to interfere in a united states election once again. this really is in black and white, you know, i think the speaker, whatever is in that whistleblower complaint, obviously it's disturbing to whoever read it. there might be additional information. just the information in the transcript alone lays out in black and white an absolutely stunning abuse, very difficult to the house is not going to conclude impeachment. >> there's another word in this
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triplet, it is collusion. this is the president colluding with a foreign government to try to win the 2020 election. what was the mueller investigation about? it was about the same thing, whether the trump campaign colluded with the russian government in order to win the 2016 election. now, robert mueller did not prove that there was a meeting of the minds, that the russian government and the trump campaign actually agreed but what we saw over and over again in the mueller report was that the trump campaign and now the trump presidency was more than willing, was encouraging, was supportive of the idea of having a foreign government help them win the election, and that's what today's news is about too. >> you know why this is striking about the mueller comparisons here, what didn't we have in the mueller report, we didn't have a direct oral statement by the president of the united states. we had a written response.
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look what happened in the president spoke about what he did, about figuring out whether or not the president of the united states actually engaged in behavior that could fall under a category of not this kind of more nebulous term of collusion or how does congress define a high crime and misdemeanor, the founding fathers actually put the word bribery in that particular clause as well. what is bribery. the president says i'm going to withhold the funding congress has proappropriated in exchanger dirt on my opponent. this is the kind of thing that it's not odd there should be bipartisan support. this is what the founding fathers were trying to guard against. >> i want to bring in congressman eric swalwell, a democrat, servings on the intelligence and judiciary committees. thank you so much for joining us on this really important day, and i understand you have now
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had a chance to go into that secure room, read the whistleblower complaint for yourself. i know it's classified but how much more context does this provide beyond the rough summary or transcript we got of the july phone call between the president and the ukrainian leader. >> i'll say the complaint itself is a five-alarm concern for me. i can't relate it to the president's transcript or the notes he put out because the director of national intelligence won't allow us to say anything about that. we're going to clear that up with him tomorrow. what's important is the complaint laid out in a professional way, gives us further evidence to seek other witnesses to find as well as witnesses who would corroborate what he or she is an urgent and credible concern. >> does the complaint provide a specific road map for your
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committee to take in the next steps of the investigation. >> it does, and i want to thank the whistleblower for coming forward. what's so alarming about this is the number of people, you know, around the conduct that occurred, who didn't say anything. it was this whistleblower that came forward. if other people are out there and want to be patriotic and brave and want to do the right thing, they will follow this whistleblower's lead because it's actually shocking that so many people saw this conduct and didn't come forward. so thank you to this whistleblower. >> based on this whistleblower complaint, which witnesses do you need to hear from in the judiciary committee or the intelligence committee. >> i think it's in the realm of the intelligence committee. tomorrow we're going to have a hearing with the acting director of national intelligence. we want to understand the white house's role, why it was not turned over. just to take a step back, the whistleblower did the right thing. we don't need the whistleblower to go around the law.
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we need the acting director of national intention to give us the full report, come talk to us and give us the coordinates for the road map. >> now that you have read the whistleblower complaint in full and you read the whole thing, all the classified information, do you think there was any justification at all for the administration trying to withhold it from you guys over these past few weeks. >> yes, the justification would be a consciousness of guilt on their part. that is how they would justify it, i could see reading it why they would not want this information out there. as far as the law goes, there's no justification. >> did you see any suggestion of partisanship on the part of whistleblower. you have heard some of his supporters in the news media raise these allegations, that some sort of democratic hack kwhost got an axe to grind who doesn't like the president. >> i'm not going to go into anything about that except to z say if this was one person
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raising their hand with a concern, i would accept that we need to do more work. this person laid out a lot of other documents and witnesses who were subject in this matter and, you know, i'm not concerned at all about anything like that. >> so just to elaborate if you can a little bit, in the whistleblower complaint, other individuals in the government are cited as backing up these allegations is that what i'm hearing. >> the whistleblower invokes other witnesses to the disturbing conduct, and the inspector general, he conducted an investigation now. what we need to see is who did the inspector general talk to who was able to, if the whistleblower complaint invokes other witnesses and the inspector general did an independent report and said the complaint is urn gent and credible, that inspector general talked to those witnesses and the conduct was corroborated. that is a logical deduction. >> are those witnesses potentially be called to testify
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before your committee. >> if he learn their names, and the acting director of national intelligence is blocking us from seeing the full report. he's going to have a lot of questions around that tomorrow. >> what do you mean he's blocking you from seeing the full report, what did you just read? >> we saw the whistleblower's complaint, we did not see the investigation that the inspector general did. wolf, so your viewers now, a person makes a complaint, says they want congress to know about it. that doesn't mean it goes to congress. it activates a process where the inspector general looks into the complaint, looks at witnesses, and says yes or no, it's urgent and credible. so that's why i'm concluding and most can conclude that there are the lot of people we need to talk to that the inspector general talked. >> you think some of the witnesses could be called publicly to appear before your committee. i assume some have sensitive intelligence community related jobs. >> and certainly we want to protect our nation's secrets, we want to protect the whistleblower. we'll do it the right away.
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this is a call for anyone who saw, you know, anything wrong in the intelligence community, it's time to come forward. no more lawlessness, you will not be rewarded in this. >> if the whistleblower's name were revealed and obviously this whistleblower was acting according to the law, doing it through the prescribe procedures, if the name were released, tould it affect this whistleblower's career, could it potentially engage them. >> it could also affect future whistleblower's from coming forward. i'm concerned that the president is questioning the whistleblower's patriotism, mostly because how the hell does the president even know who this person is. there's no reason under the law that the white house or any other administration should know the name. if the name was passed forward to the white house or department of justice, we're in whole
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different area of violations of the law here. >> so the inspector general in the intelligence community has gone beyond the whistleblower's complaint and done a full investigation and that full investigation, the conclusion has not been made available to your committee, at least not yet. is that right? >> it's a 14-day preliminary investigation to decide if this should go to congress. it's really on congress to do the full investigation, but we don't have the work that the inspector general did. we're seek to get that, and the law demands we get that. there's no discretion there. >> when you read just now, was the initial whistleblower complaint, right? >> yes, a very professional complaint that lays out disturbing conduct that the whistleblower concerned. >> and it clearly impacted the inspector general of the intelligence committee who was overruled by the acting director of the intelligence community and the justice department and
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the white house, and they wouldn't let that complaint be released to you guys. >> first time that's ever happened in the history of the whistleblower law. >> very quickly, what's the time line of the behavior that was explained in this whistleblower complaint? >> that the matter is still urgent and credible. it was urgent and credible when it was reported over a pomonth o and remains urgent and credible today. >> congressman swalwell, thank you so much for joining us. jim baker, you just heard what the congressman had to say. you have been privy to whistleblower complaints over the years. what do you think? >> you just read what's been released so far, and it's very alarming as other folks have said. it's extremely alarming and we're at the start of the information, rigtd, we have the complaint, we now have the text -- right, we have the complaint, we now have the phone call tex. there's a lot of investigative
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stuff that has to be done. in a normal ig investigation, they will follow all the leads and at the end produce a report. we're really at the beginning of this process. the risk for i think the democrats on the vashs communities is how much do they want -- various communities is how much do they want to include. >> sean turner, you used to work for the director of national intelligence. what jumps out to you. >> what congressman swalwell is exactly right. when this complaint went to the inspector general, there is an investigation, he has to value at a time the information before he can make a determination that this is credible and will urgent. now, look, you know, just speaking from experience here, it was understood when i was at odni that when the inspector general forwarded a complaint to the director of national intelligence, he was doing so to give the dni an opportunity to
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comment on that complaint before it was sent to the appropriate members of congress. the dni understood he didn't have the option of tell the inspector general not to forward that information or circumventing that process in any way. what you have here is extremely unusual. i should say wolf, that after reading tdni's, i take a different take on his role in this. i think he found himself in a difficult situation when he was forwarded a complaint about the president of the united states. i think it was probably appropriate to go ahead and involve his general councsel. the general counsel made a decision to bring in the olc, wherein it's pretty predictable that we would get an opinion that would suggest that this doesn't fall under the jurisdiction of the dni. so i think that, you know, tomorrow we'll get to the bottom of this with the dni, but i think it's probably premature to
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suggest that the dni was in any way trying to protect the president here. it certainly could have been the case he found himself in a situation where he didn't know what to do, and then the llc made the decision for him. >> as we watch this unfold, the debate on capitol hill is unfolding rather dramatically right now. you're getting some new reporting. >> reporter: that's right. from our team on capitol hill. we have been watching the president to see if anybody breaks besides mitt romney, and to see if that changes more, as they, entespecially those on th intelligence committees read the information as you heard about from ben swalwell. ben sasse said some of the things he saw were very troubling. that's interesting. given the fact that we have heard crickets from almost all republicans when it comes to this document and it is so in
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keeping with the republican party in the trump era. if you saw a democratic president have this kind of conversation, you read a summary of a phone conversation from a democratic president saying exactly what donald trump said, the republicans would be, their hair would be on fire. that's just the way it is. it is part of the partisan nature of this city right now, but it also is very much because of what we have seen time and time again. the one difference was yesterday when the senate republicans who lead the senate allowed a vote which passed unanimously, in order to see exactly what's going on right now. to see the complaint and a classified manner. that's, i think, in a large part is because it was cya. they don't want to hear reporters ask them questions over and over again, about why they are not doing their job.
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the immy kags of -- implication is they're going to have to come out and give information about problems if they're talking in an honest way, but for the most part, republicans have been in lock step, not new, but for something like this, it is certainly no question. >> it's interesting, you know, david chalian because you've got senator mitt romney, now senator ben sasse. you got two republicans now who are beginning to say they're concerned about what they have seen over the past 24 hours. >>. yeah, i mean, mitt romney has been on an island. i guess there was room for senator sasse there who recently won donald trump's enforcement for an election campaign. ly just vote, there is yes, typical politics. if the shoe were on the other foot, they would be behaving differently. you see the clips of lindsey graham from 1998 as a house impeachment manager and compare that to the clips today, you can do that.
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there's got to be a moment where the typical politics have to fall by the wayside for the constitutional responsibility of checks and balances between the legislative and executive branches and the republicans on capitol hill have totally and thoroughly abdicated that responsibility, save these two, and what was so amazing to see because i'm not even sure if another republican president would have this kind of loyalty, wolf if the scenario was similar. what's amazing to see is donald trump has such loyalty from republicans on the hill that even mitt romney who was the head of the party just seven years ago, when he is out there in a different place nobody is there to follow along with him. that's how much control and loyalty donald trump has engendered inside his own party. >> we should note one substantiative difference and the behavior in the russia investigation and that's that donald trump wasn't president of the united states, and so what we're saying now is donald trump
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actually using and abusing the powers of the american presidency. his constitutional authorities, his ability to make foreign affairs, in order to abuse them for his own political benefit and so, you know, i don't think the republicans deserve very much credit based on past performance. there is a reason why republicans who might have not spoken out after those disturbing findings of the mueller report might say this is a line, that is is a bridge too far. >> during the obama administration, let me get her to weigh in. what's jumping out at you right now. >> what's jumping out at me is the members of congress read the whistleblower complaint and the urgent concern expressed several weeks ago is the president's own actions in the last 24 hours alone add to the urgency and the credibility of concerns related to bwhat he's been doing in ters of office and violation to up hold the constitution.
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that's number one. the second part and i think we're going to see this play out over the coming weeks. there's a battle being set up between rudy giuliani and secretary of state pompeo. every time rudy giuliani speaks or the president speaks for that matter, they are adding to the evidence that members of congress may have access to. rudy giuliani has been freelancing as an ambassador of conspiracy theories for a long time. he did it last night. president trump used some of those same conspiracy theories in his remarks throughout the course of the day, and having lived through the benghazi special committee, as members of congress start pursuing various investigations, this is going to be a massive drain on the state department, the white house staff that work on ukraine and are trying to do their actual jobs. we are seeing national security being degraded by the president himself, by his lawyer, and to date, secretary of state pompeo has been relatively silent, as
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rudy giuliani and the president have gone around and undercut the actual foreign policy work of the state department. >> you know, it's interesting jeffrey toobin, you read this, i assume two times, this rough transcript or shear ummary or memorandum of this phone conversation in july, between president zelensky of ukraine and president trump. in that conversation, the president says at one point near the beginning of the conversation and i'm quoting now, the united states has been very very good to ukraine, and then he says, that hasn't always been reciprocal, and then he says something along the lines, and i'm quoting from this rough transcript, i would like you to do us a favor, and then he refers to investigating the bidens, hillary clinton and the democr democr democrats. >> sometimes we talk about donald trump talking in code.
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this is not code. do this for us and what is it he wants, he wants dirt on joe biden. i mean, the mueller story was perhaps too complicated. this story does not appear to be all that complicated. what's going on here is this phone call is about a supplicate, the president of ukraine is a supply cicate, and talks about, we need money to buy missiles, javelin missiles and the president says i need, i want you to do us a favor. quid pro quo, money for information. that's what's in this transcript. >> let me get to jim baker. it's illegal that a domestic political campaign in the united states to get foreign contributions but also what they call in kind contributions, aid, assistance, do you sense reading
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this rough transcript that the president is asking the president of ukraine for an in-kind campaign contribution, which potentially could be illegal? >> well, it seems like it, yes, the short answer is yes, but the trick, you know, there was a whole section in the mueller report about this. it's not quite clear how you value such a contribution and so that is where it may run into trouble in terms of being an actual crime that could be prosecuted. keep in mind as the mueller report showed us, the doj says you can't prosecute a sitting president. that does not indicate what could happen to rudy giuliani or the attorney general if he in fact participated in some of this activity which is his whole role in this is quite alarming and we don't know exactly what happened, and even the mention of him repeatedly in this transcript set my hair on fire. i was quite concerned about that. >> if i could add one point about the impeachment context, it's been clear since alexander
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hamilton wrote in the federalist papers that you don't have to commit an actual crime, violate the law of 18 united states code to commit an impeachable offense. abuse of power. that's what the framers were concerned about. if you abuse your power as president and don't happen to violate a specific criminal code, that can still be an impeachable offense! you can solicit the actual act, and i think we're actually beyond this realm of the in-kind transfer. in the trump tower meeting, that was about trying to quantify what research might work to get hillary clinton. we have a number in mind here, $259 million in military aid, appropriated by congress, we have a quantifiable measure here. michael cohen is thinking to himself, i was telling you all, i didn't give a direct order.
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what are we seeing the absence of code. >> can i go back to one thing, i'm now seeing more of the transcript of what senator ben sasse said, and he went after democrats for jumping to speech but more importantly, he said republicans ought not be rushing to circle the wagon when there's a lot there in what he said. for a republican in this environment in this day where people were doing exactly that, circling the wagons on the republican side, that is significant. ben sasse has certainly had his criticism of donald trump but also held his fire, and right now he's continuing that, which is note worthy as david was saying. so far mitt romney has been on an island of one. maybe he has two now. >> ben sasse, very very intelligence guy as we all know as well. everybody stand by for a moment. i want to bring in our political correspondent sarri murray. you have been breaking down that
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rough transcript of the president's ukraine phone call. tell us what you're learning. >> reporter: that's right. and look, we heard the president say he never put pressure on the ukrainian president. if you look through this transcript, you can see that president trump makes it clear he thinks the u.s. is getting the short end of the stick in terms of relations with ukraine, and he had a list of things he wanted from the ukrainian president. president trump urged ukrainian president over and over to investigate former vice president joe biden and his son, and he volunteered the help of the u.s. justice department to do it. there's a lot of talk about biden's son, that biden stopped prosecution and a lot of people want to find out about that. so whatever you can do with the attorney general would be great trump says in a july 25th, call with the president zelensky according to the rough transcript released wednesday by the white house. biden bragged that he stopped the prosecution. if you can look into it, it sound horrible to me, trump says. zelensky responds, the next
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prosecutor general will be 100% my person. he or she will look into the situation specifically to the company you mentioned. trump insists there's nothing wrong with his requests. >> that call was perfect. couldn't have been nicer. there's no pressure. the way you had that built up, that call it was going to be the call from hell. >> but the rough transcript provides the clearest evidence that trump tried to use his position in the oval office and the weight of the justice department to go after his top political rival. trump's call with zelensky came as he and rudy giuliani were fixated on biden's push to have a ukrainian prosecutor, ousted in 2016 when biden was vice president. trump and giuliani claim biden was protecting his son, hunter, who served on the board of the energy company, the ukrainian prosecutor had testified. >> when biden's son walk away with millions of dollars, and they're paying him millions of
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dollars, that's corruption. >> there's no evidence they did anything wrong. a week before trump's call with zelensky, trump ordered a hold on hundreds of millions of dollars of military aid to ukraine. on the call, trump doesn't threaten to withhold the money in exchange for investigation of the bidens. the president does suggest the u.s. is getting a raw deal. the united states that be very very good to ukraine, trump says. i wouldn't say that it's reciprocal necessarily because things are happening that are not good. the united states has been very very good to ukraine. zelensky brings up america's great support in the area of defense. that's when trump tells zelensky i would like you to do us a favor, saying our country has been through a lot and ukraine knows a lot about it. i would like you to find out what happened with this whole situation with ukraine. trump references crowd strike, a cyber security firm the tra democratic national committee hired to investigate.
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the cloud strike public apply blamed the russian government as was confirmed by robert mueller's investigation. trump and giuliani have floated another conspiracy theory, that ukraine invented the idea that russia was meddling in the 2016 election. >> several people in ukraine knew about a tremendous amount of collusion between ukrainian officials and hillary clinton and the democratic national committee. >> on the july call, zelensky says the issue is an important one, and trump resolves to have barr and giuliani follow up with zelensky. the justice department says trump never asked barr to contact ukraine, and barr has not communicated with ukraine on this or any other subject. giuliani has been in contact with ukrainian official sfw. >> throughout the call, you see the ukrainian president say over and over again, he thinks the areas are corruption he's going to look over hall im. taking pains to say he does not want to be at the center of the
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u.s. democratic process. back to you. >> thank you very much for that. you know, susan, i want to play a clip. we spoke a few minutes ago with congressman eric swalwell, a member of the intelligence committee. he reviewed the whistleblower complaint in that secure, classified room, and then emerged and spoke -- and spoke with us and said this. >> this person laid out a lot of other documents and witnesses who were subject in this matter, and, you know, i'm not concerned at all about anything like that. >> just elaborate if you can, other individuals in the government are cited as backing up these allegations, is that what i'm hearing? >> the whistleblower invokes other witnesses to the disturbing conduct and the inspector general conducted an investigation. >> that's a pretty significant statement. >> the inspector general is authorized to receive and
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investigate any complaints. it appears that swalwell is talking about two separate things. one is the substance of the complaint. does this whistleblower name other people, point to evidence congress might want to look into and what were the preliminary investigative mistakes the ig might have made in making the determination of urgent and credible. it wasn't clear whether or not he was saying that the irg has completed this 14-day review, spoken to the witnesses or merely asking the questions and asking for sort of the ig to produce that investigative material, but either way, i think it indicates fact that there is more here, more sort of bread crumbs on evidence for congress to collect. >> on that point, are there a bunch of other witnesses now that potentially the intelligence committee, maybe even the justice department or fbi might be calling if there's a full scale investigation. >> yes, there needs to be a
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logical investigation conducted in a professional way of all the allegations, all the potential witnesses need to be looked at, all the potential documents, e-mails need to be pulled, text messages as we know need to be pulled, the evidence needs to be gathered to understand exactly what happened here. i mean, the ig could have moved very quickly to understand an important part of the investigation in the 14-day period. i doubt seriously he's completed a full and robust investigation. if there are allegations f something comes out that there was criminal activity afoot, that could be referred to the fbi, of course. just on the topic o. ff the fbi one of the things i would like to know to the extent with the president having invoking the name of the attorney general, i understand the attorney general said he hasn't done anything with respect to ukraine. was the fbi asked to investigate vice president biden or his son. what involvement did they have with respect to investigating if in any way the compliant.
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>> and the state department, rudy giuliani in his interview with fox the other day said i was asked to go to ukraine by the state department. what? >> i don't think the state department knows what he's talking about. >> let's find out. that is a classic example of why you need an investigation. >> i do think, though, i would be shocked if the inspector general of the intelligence community ran it up the flag pole on a cursory review of information. representative swalwell was asking not to reinvent the wheel. the ig had to determine if it was urgent and credible. what did you use to make that efr evaluation and assessment. we know what it took to get the information released today. imagine if they were to wait and say maybe they'll give us more. he has to know that. >> let me bring david swerlick
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into this as well. what do you think? >> you have a situation where the ig's report is going to provide additionalal context here, and may -- additional context and may get to the bottom of why rudy giuliani was involved rather than people from the state department. there's a bigger question about why the president was seeking the help of president zelensky for, you know, his own benefit but why did he send essentially his bagman, rudy giuliani, instead of working through people who are part of the executive branch, but i want to go back to something that dana said a minute about what senator sasse said. he's warning republicans not to say there's no there there here because unlike the mueller report, you have a situation here where even if we haven't seen the ig report, even if we haven't heard dni mcguire's testimony yet, if our viewers read this four-page rough transcript or rough summary, it lays out pretty clearly and sarah just did in her report,
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something that to the average person they can get their hands around, and even if no crimes were committed, looks fishy. there's the butter up, hey, we're better friends than the eu and germany, we do way more for you than angela merkel, here's where we're at transcript, the president says they didn't lay a glove on me with mueller, let's talk about what we're going to do next, and finally, there's the ask. he goes to zelensky and brings up biden, i want you to get on a call with rudy giuliani which again, why is he asking him to get on a call with someone who's not part of the government, who's the president's personal lauer. >> samantha vinaigrette, at one point, he lashed out at senator bob menendez of the foreign relations committee, and other senators for supposedly doing improper pressure tactics on the ukraine government in order to get rid of some of what they
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consider to be corrupt officials in ukraine. you have been looking into this. what are you discovering? >> i have been tweeting back and forth with senator menendez on this recently, wolf, and president trump and the white house just tweeted out something on this as well, alleging that democrats had improper contact with ukrainian authorities related to investigations that were going on in ukraine. ler let's be clear, two wrongs don't make a right. even if there was inappropriate contact by democrats or republicans before president trump, that doesn't absolve him of wrong doing. on this particular issue, senators menendez, durbin and levy did send a letter to the ukrainian authorities, regarding press reports that they were backing off of investigations because they did not want to upset trump. they wanted to curry favor with trump, these members of congress wanted to ensure there was nothing inappropriate influencing the functioning of the ukrainian law enforcement system. they were trying to get rid of
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corruption in ukraine, rather than encourage it as president trump has allegedly tried to do by intervening this legal proceedings in ukraine, related to vice president biden, he's mixing apples and oranges here, he can throw the whole fruit basket at democrats that will not absolve him of any wrong doing and i expect this attack on democrats, these false e equivale -- equivalencies to continue. >> we hear two republican senators beginning to question the president's activities as far as ukraine is concerned. i suspect there's going to be more in the coming days and weeks. >> we'll see. a lot of it depends on how troubling to use ben sasse's words coming out of this, coming out of reading this classified complaint, it really is and whether or not other republicans see it that way, and more importantly, if they see it that
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way because let's be honest, privately i talked to republicans who see this summary of the phone call as troubling, although they're not saying it in public, how much they're going to be willing to say it, i mean, the politics of this cannot be overstated, how dicey it is for republicans, if they want to be reelected, whether they're in swing district in the house or more importantly in the senate, those are up for reelection, in purple states, you would think maybe they would try to appeal to democrats there. no, they're much more worried about losing the trump base which could mean -- >> very sensitive moment, very quickly here. >> cory gardner in colorado, these are the people we need to be looking, yes, they need the trump base and they're not getting reelected in the purple states without some of the middle also, so the politics of this is going to become impossible for them very quickly. >> well said, everybody stand by, a lot more of our special
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coverage on this historic day, right after this.
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>> amid the very fast and dramatic developments today in congress' impeachment inquiry into president trump one particularly curious detail came
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to light. cnn's brian todd is joining us right now. the rough transcript of the president's call with the ukraine rae leader shows mr. trump bringing up a conspiracy theory about the 2016 election. >> right, wolf. in that call the president asked the ukraine yan president to investigate a computer server from the democratic national committee, a server that had been hacked by the russians as part of the 2016 election interference campaign. the president somehow believed that server had made its way to ukraine. >> it's one of the more bizarre comments made by president trump in his phone call with ukraine's president, the suggestion that somehow a computer server tied to the 2016 election is now mysteriously in ukraine. according to the rough transcript of the july call, trump says he'd like his ukrainian counterpart of, quote, do us a favor and alludes to the mueller investigation saying i would like ton what happened with this whole situation with ukraine. they say crowd strike, i guess you have one of your wealthy
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people, the server. they say ukraine has it. i would like to have the attorney general call you or your people and i would like you to get to the bottom of it. the only problem say experts say there is no evidence of any of this. >> this is a deep state conspiracy theory is not supported by the fact. >> the server trump refers to is the democratic national committee server come federal indict ams say was hacked by the russians during the 2016 election interference campaign as part of the kremlin's effort to get trump elected and crowd strike is the security firm hired by the democratic committee to investigate the hacks and trump in more than 20 interviews, tweets and other public comments has harped on the debunked idea that the dnc server somehow contains unrevealed evidence and might be in mysterious hands. >> where is the server? i want to know, where is the server and what is the server saying? >> trump regularly points out that the fbi never had access to
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the original dnc servers and that's in part because of the fbi's practice of working with copies, but the dnc says none of its original servers were ever missing, the dnc and crowd strikes say they ultimately gave the fbi copies of the dnc servers once they determined there was a russian hack, something then-fbi director james comey didn't object to. >> best practice is always to the machines themselves and this, my folks, tell me was an appropriate substitute. >> so why would the president think someone in ukraine has a dnc server? we got no response from the white house. crowd strike did previously do work for the ukrainian government, but that was totally unrelated to the dnc or the 2016 presidential election and trump once mistakenly asserted that crowd strike was owned and run by a ukrainian, a comment reportedly driven by online conspiracy theories. either trump is repeating these false online myths and or he's
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trying to misdirect and muddy the waters. >> he's looking for a countser narrative to the mueller report. >> then there was the matter of mr. trump telling the u rain kr that he wanted bill barr to get to the bottom of the server question. legal analysts say it would be inappropriate for the attorney general to get involved in any of that and a justice department spokeswoman tells cnn tonight the president did not ask barr to contract u drain and barr has never communicated on ukraine on his own. >> the president has also put out misinformation about the former clinton campaign chair, john podesta related to those dnc servers, right? >> trump has tweeted that john podesta has refused to hand over the dnc servers to the fbi. that is absolute nonsense. he worked for the clinton campaign and not the dnc so the hacked servers were never his to give anyone. it was more of his
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misinformation. >> this important note, stay with cnn for the ukrainian scandal and jake tapper and anderson cooper anchor a special at 11:00 p.m. eastern. to our viewers, thank you very much for watching. erin burnett "out front" starts right now. "out front" next, breaking news. the whistle-blower complaint is out tonight and in the hands of lawmakers and they're reading it and hear what they say is in it and president trump on the defense saying he never pressured ukraine's president for dirt on joe biden. unfortunately the transcripts show that he did and elizabeth warren calling the transcript calling it a smoking gun and what does cory booker make of it? he is out front. let's go "out front". >> good evening, i'm erin burnett. the whistle-blower complaint is in the hands of congress this hour, the same report that has rocked trump's presidency making him only the fourth president in american


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