tv Anderson Cooper 360 CNN September 25, 2019 9:00pm-10:00pm PDT
i'm chris cuomo. welcome to "prime time." it is a critical day for america as we start to examine the proof against the president of the united states in a pending impeachment investigation. what do you say? let's get after it. >> announcer: this is cnn breaking news. >> all right. the latest is that congress has the whistle-blower complaint. it may not all be unredacted. it may not be available to all members of congress freely.
they have to go into what's called a scif, which is an acronym for a safe room basically to read it. that's why you've been hearing different lawmakers saying, i have to go back and read a little bit more and i have to see more. we'll take you through what is in that complaint, and we will cross-reference it with what the law is and how it pertains to what came up in that phone call and all so much that happened before it and after it. it's not all about the call. and we all saw the president's words on that call. tonight we have some big players to figure out what it means. we have congresswoman alexandria ocasio-cortez. she's here to talk about this and her latest big plan for america. and so is the president's personal lawyer. no, not that one. the other one, jay sekulow. but speaking of which, this has all been rapidly unraveling since our sit-down with rudy giuliani last week.
he gave mixed stories but a very clear intention to put biden on the hot seat. however, it has turned out to be the opposite of what their intention was. the efforts of mr. giuliani may be on the behalf of the country, may be on behalf of the president, now has him and the president in the hot seat. but what does it mean and where does it go? that's a question for democrats. let's bring in one of the major players, the chairman of one of those six committees operating under pelosi's impeachment inquiry umbrella, congressman eliot engel. he heads the house foreign relations committee. congressman, thank you for joining us tonight, especially at this time. >> it's my pleasure to be here, chris. thank you. >> so let's start broadly. what do you think we're looking at in terms of the level of significance of what you've seen in the phone call, the context of what you know about the actions and coordination of
different government agents before and after, and the complaint. >> well, unfortunately it reminded me of what the country went through under richard nixon all over again, brought back ugly and bad memories. we on the foreign affairs committee are requesting documents from the state department, which is in our jurisdiction, and if we don't get them, we are going to subpoena them on friday. so we think we'll have much more information then as well. >> what are you looking for, congressman, just so people understand? when you say state department, just for the audience's edification, there seems to be no small suggestion that rudy giuliani, who said to me originally, i did it all myself. i did it just for my client, and that's it, and i'm allowed to do it. now he's saying the state department asked him to do it, and now we know that the ukraine president seemed to view mr. giuliani as some kind of authorized entity acting under
color of authority of the president. that may or may not have concerned the state department. so what do you want to know from them? what they've seen or heard the - president do. look, when you talk about rudy giuliani, he wasn't working for the government. he's the president's private lawyer. >> but he says the state department asked him to go. do you believe it? >> right. no, i don't. and i think it's mixing apples with oranges and trying to make it look good, but it really isn't good. you know, you would think that given all the hoopla about russian interference in the previous presidential election, that the president would be very careful this time around and not use or try to use foreign leaders, but he apparently learned nothing. and if you read the transcript, i mean anybody can read the transcript, and you can see what the president was trying to do and say, and he was obsessed with biden and wanted to, you know, use the office of the presidency for his own personal
vendetta or -- >> so do you believe the president of the united states abused his power in his dealing with ukraine? >> well, i think he abused it just on the basis of what they sent over. can you imagine -- i mean the white house sent this over thinking it would absolve the president. so how much more is there to come that we haven't seen yet, that we don't know about yet? >> you think on the face of the transcript alone, you see an abuse of power? >> oh, there's no doubt about it. i mean when you're the president of the united states and you control things and you remind the president of ukraine how much money we've given ukraine and what we've done, i mean implicit in that is play ball with me, and if you don't, we can yank the money back. >> so where does it become something that is atypical of one power using leverage against another? >> well, it's atypical, i think -- look, first of all, generally speaking when someone becomes president, they put their estate or whatever holdings they have in a private
trust. this president hasn't done that. there are foreign governments that think they can curry favor, the whole emoluments question, with him if they stay at his hotels or do things. there is so much conflict of interest and potential conflict of interest. and here it is with ukraine as well. and, remember, he withheld some aid to ukraine that the congress voted for. so it's just one thing after another after another. >> he'll say, but we eventually gave them the aid, and they did have problems about corruption, and there was an issue with biden, and i was just asking him to do what he needed to do to get to the bottom of some matters. at what point does it become something, in your estimation, that is worthy of impeachment, which means removing somebody from office maybe and maybe a nullification of an election? >> well, let me first tell you that back in may, i became alarmed when the u.s. ambassador
to ukraine, a career ambassador, very highly thought of, was summarily removed. i said it publicly then. i really thought it was a disgrace then, and it was obvious to me now why she was removed, because they wanted -- they knew she wouldn't put up with any of this shenanigans, and the president wanted to install his own people. >> has she been interviewed about this? >> not to my knowledge. >> should she? >> yes. i hope -- i hope she'll come for an interview because i think that there's a lot that's going to follow from there, i think, an awful lot. >> so you don't believe this is just about the phone call. you believe the phone call is a window into a dynamic that needs to be discovered. >> absolutely. and i think that if anybody looks at this without a jaded eye, they will come to the same conclusion too. >> do anybody who have an "r" next to their name when it comes to their office -- does any of them agree with you?
>> i don't know. we'll see. i mean we -- we are coordinating the six committees, including my committee, foreign affairs. we are coordinating things with each of the committees. we want to find out what went on. we want to find out if there are any other documents. and, again, if the white house is releasing this phone conversation claiming exoneration, my goodness, i mean it points all over the place. it's anything but exoneration. so what more phone calls are there? what more threats were made to foreign leaders? it really boggles the mind that the white house thinks that somehow or other this exonerates the president. you're the president of the united states and you try to enlist a foreign leader to go after a political vendetta of somebody that is your political enemy, well, that's using his power of his office for his own
personal gain. anybody knows that that's not the right thing to do, and it shouldn't be done. >> right. but the question then becomes how wrong is it, how egregious? what kind of case can you make on it? what kind of consensus can you get? how it will be reflected by the feelings of the country? there's a lot of wood to chop here, but certainly we see your focus is on it, chairman, and we appreciate it here at the beginning of this assessment you coming on to set the table for us. thank you very much. >> well, thank you. it's my pleasure. i always watch you at home, so nice to talk to you here. >> well, hopefully you'll be on the show more given what we're dealing with now and watching from home less. you're going to be pivotal in this process. so congressman eliot engel, thank you so much. >> thank you. all right. now, when we come back, we're going to hear from another big name on the hill. so, look, there's a senior statesman. eliot engel has been at it a long time. he's got a lot of respect within his party. he's the old guard. congresswoman alexandria ocasio-cortez is the new guard. she's been raising a stink about
impeachment for quite some time. she's been waiting for speaker pelosi to come around. how does she feel about what seems to be the democrat plan of being all in on this ukraine matter, and what is the big plan that she has for you, next. at fidelity, we believe your money should always be working harder. that's why your cash automatically goes into a money market fund when you open a new account. and fidelity's rate is higher than e*trade's, td ameritrade's,
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>> i think it's an understandable directive. the judiciary committee has long been investigating many of the violations of the president, but this ukraine allegation is head and shoulders one of the most serious and urgent allegations that we have seen come out of this administration to date. and so i think it's completely understandable that we've seen this. i think it's an allegation that frankly has united more members of the party on impeachment than any other. and so for that, i think it's an understandable decision that we make. that being said, i do think it's important that we continue to tell the story of the other violations, whether it's emoluments, whether it's having diplomats staying at trump properties. i think all of these things need to be looked into, but this ukraine allegation is incredibly serious and very urgent. >> so explain to the audience why it rises above the other ones. we all get the irony, that all the mueller stuff was trying to figure out if anyone helped the russians interfere in the
election. and now you have the president, you know, creating his own situation. he manufactured all of this. he brought it up with the ukraine president. it was working both ways, but he was reaching out to a foreign power in a way that seemed to be about his political fortunes going forward. so we get that. but why should it rise above all the other things that your party's been telling the country matter so much? >> well, i think one of the things we've been seeing out of the president is that he has been engaging in continuously escalating disturbing behavior. he's been breaking larger norms and bigger rules as time goes on. but what makes this ukrainian allegation much more serious first of all is that this is a very serious matter of national security. we are talking about the president using the full power of the united states government in order to pursue and manufacture a politically motivated investigation against a political opponent. but what also makes this urgent is that this is about something that is going to happen, the 2020 election.
we have the opportunity to act now to prevent a profoundly destabilizing action, an intervention in our democracy before it happens. and i think that is a profoundly urgent action that we need to take right now, and everything else is just as serious. you know, all of these transgressions against our democracy are extremely serious, but we are investigating things that have unfortunately already happened. when it comes to ukraine, we are talking about a potential -- rather, a potential meddling in the 2020 election that has still yet to happen. >> so you have the idea of preemptive action versus what so much of this country believes is a presumptive disposition, which is this is what you guys do. you use your power. you use it to help yourself. you'll take information on any opponent that you can get, and this is what they all do. and that's what he's doing, and it's not really a crime. and maybe you like it. maybe you don't.
maybe you see substance. maybe it's just style. but to nullify an election? why is it that important? >> this is completely different. what we are talking about here is the president essentially participating in what looks like a series of events that looks like extortion, withholding aid to an ally and then, quote, unquote, asking for a favor to essentially benefit yourself politically, not in the interest of the united states of america, but in the interest of your own re-election. >> so you don't believe that he held up the money because they're dirty or he wanted the europeans to help, and that he's just trying to get to the bottom of who interfered in our election in 2016, and there's reason to believe it started in ukraine? >> well, i think, chris, when you look at this, the first red flag is that his personal lawyer is there. that is not normal. that is not normal in a democracy. >> yeah, you could have stopped
right there, congresswoman. none of it's normal, and rudy told me on the show he didn't go there about biden. he did go there about biden. he went there on his own, only told the president about all of this after the fact. now we get a very different reckoning. he said he did it on his own. now he says the state department asked him to go. i asked him if he went under color of authority of the president. he said no. now it seems that he did. that's all screwy. how does it get us to impeachment? >> well, one of the things i think we see is that first of all, he shouldn't have been there to begin with. >> fair point. >> and whether he was there, whatever the guise is that he's saying, he should not have been there. moreover, it doesn't even matter about his presence. the president of the united states, in this transcript, and has admitted himself to have brought rudy giuliani into the conversation with the president of ukraine. that in and of itself, it doesn't matter where he was physically, is a violation of
our sworn duties and our oath to the constitution of the united states. >> any worry about -- you know, look, you have so many ideas for the country, and i want to talk to you about what a just society is, not just as a hashtag, but how you see it, kind of new deal-y where you're going request this. so you're going to go out there, but as a collective party, are you worried that right now, we haven't measured since the ukraine stuff. we haven't measured since ruezy ca -- rudy came on this show, but it was like 57-37 against impeachment. are you worried that there are people in this country who are looking for new leadership and new ways and more decency and less disaffection, and that you're taking them down one of the darkest places you can go in politics. i'm not saying it's the wrong move, but are you worried it about it hitting the wrong way with the people? >> i personally do not believe in fulfilling my obligations to my job based on polling data.
i think we need to do our job, and we've been elected and sent here by the people of the united states of america to fulfill all of our obligations and to the constitution of the united states. when it does come to polling, much of these polling numbers came out before this -- >> 100% true. >> -- really shattering allegation. >> true. >> so that polling data is not reflective of a shift that has united almost the entire democratic caucus plus an independent member that was forced to leave the republican caucus because of the blatant ignoring of this law-breaking and rule-breaking behavior out of this administration. so i think the ground has shifted. i don't believe in making decisions based on polling. i believe in our ability to organize the public, to educate the public, to talk to the public about why not just we as members of congress must impeach the president, but why all people in the united states of america must recognize and understand that we need to put
our country first before our considerations of re-election. and that goes for members of congress all the way up to the president of the united states. >> all right. so i hear you on that issue. as we get more meat on the bones of what's going on there, you know we'll invite you back to weigh in with the audience about what are the might moves and wrong moves and why. but this idea of a just society, okay, people should go look at your website. you got all the plans. you guys are so locked up right now. you're passing lots of stuff in the house because you have the numbers. you're getting nothing done in congress in the senate until, frankly, two votes to get disclosure on this matter around ukraine that came through. this is so ambitious. it's like the new deal. people have to look at it themselves. you're attacking poverty. you want to create opportunity for people in different ways and housing and economic guarantees of security and how to define it. tell me about the ambition, but then answer for the obvious question, which is how do you get any of this done? >> absolutely. well, i think, you know, when we talk about impeachment and when we talk about, you know, small
wins, this is what we need to do in the short term. but we need a plan for our country for the long term, and right now i think that it's our responsibility to set that out, to set out a long-term vision, our benchmarks, and to say this is where we want to go as a nation. and we have to establish an advanced society here in the united states of america. what that means is that we have to push the bounds. we have to start treating housing as a right. we need to start protecting renters. we need to start updating the federal poverty line. our last -- our calculation for the federal poverty line is based on 1955 spending habits that assumes one income earner, a stay at home mom, and that's why we don't talk about child care. that's why we don't talk about geographic differences in cost of living. so we need to update our poverty line. we need to address the housing crisis in this country. we need to stop treating people who duly paid their debt to society, the formerly incarcerated, as outcasts for
the rest of their lives. we need to become a modern society. we need to honor workers' rights, the right to unionize, the right to establish worker cooperatives, and we also need to join the international community by signing and ratifying the u.n. convent on economic, social, and cultural rights. i mean we need to catch up to the rest of the world, and then we need to lead the rest of the world not just on climate change, but on social issues and on economic issues so that we can actually act like a humanity that is existing in the 21st century. >> give me a quick take on the obvious pushback, which won't be process. you guys can't get anything done right now. i accept it. you're saying it's theoretical. it's a plan for the future. the other one is you can't reach in my pockets fast enough. you want to give something to everybo everybody. to get out of prison, you want to make it easy. they're here as an undocumented immigrant. give them everything. everybody wins accept the hard working man and woman in mark just struggling to get by.
what's the pushback? >> what this all is, is us reaching into our pockets and deciding how we're already spending the money that we're already contributing to society. the problem is that america is at its wealthiest point that we've ever been, and yet we are at one of our most unequal points that we've ever been. you would not know that our country is posting record profits because 40 million americans are living in poverty right now. and if the poverty line was real, if it was at around what some people think it should be, around $38,000 a year, we would be shocked at how much the richest society on the planet is allowing so much of its people to live in destitute. so we're not talking about paying for somebody else. we're talking about getting our own rent under control. we're talking about not getting fleeced by our own landlords. >> okay. >> we're talking about making sure that food is on our kids' tables. so this is not about other people. this is about saying if you contribute to our society, you
deserve to benefit from our society, not just corporations getting tax cuts and fossil fuel companies getting rewarded for their extraction and dooming future generations. >> it is a very stark picture of the politics of contrast with what's being offered up by the president right now. timing's not great because you guys are dealing with impeachment. but i wanted to get the idea out there. you're always welcome on the show to talk about what you think matters. and, look, you know, the phone's going to be ringing. you know we don't like to be pests, but this period is going to matter a lot. >> yeah. >> what you guys decide to do and most importantly why is going to be something we have to hear directly from as many players as possible. so homefulpefully we'll see you. congresswoman, be well. >> thank you. be well. all right. president trump, we have breaking news. there's a new reckoning of an earlier phone call. "the new york times" has it. what happened on that call? is what we just learned the first time giuliani came up between our president and the
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once again we're going through breaking news together, you and i. here's what we now understand. the transcript of the call we saw today wasn't the first time president trump encouraged ukraine's president to work with giuliani. it happened back in april as well. so let's go through that. let's bring in another one of his lawyers, not rudy giuliani. jay sekulow is here to make the
case. counselor, always a pleasure. >> thanks for having me, chris. appreciate it. >> good. just to check a box of transparency here, did you have anything to do with any of rudy's efforts with ukraine? >> no. it was not in my jurisdiction or my zone, so that was not something that i was familiar with or really involved with at all. >> so you weren't brought in for legal advice, for counsel? >> i will never discuss what legal advice i give the president of the united states. >> okay. >> as my client. so i'm not going to answer that question, but i will tell you this was not something i was involved in. i didn't know the players of who was doing what here. this was something that the mayor was involved with. he understood the ins and outs. this is not something i dealt with. i've been busy on other matters as you know, the past couple of weeks especially. >> i just wanted to make clear for the audience and myself what your role is in this. i'm asking you this as a point of legal analysis, not as someone involved in the activities as we know. >> right. yes. >> so on the face of the
transcript, i am framing it as just a window into a situation. i do not see this one phone call or even the one that we now know about in april as diz positive of anything. do you believe it is a fair question to look into why the president of the united states was trying to get the president of ukraine's cooperation in looking at an american citizen? >> well, i don't think there's anything to look into in the sense that the president has voluntarily provided the transcripts of the conversation. you're telling me -- which i'm not aware of the contents of the april conversation, but i know the president earlier today said he was going to release that, and evidently you've got breaking news that he may have done that, that the white house may have released that tonight. >> we know there was another call that rudy giuliani was involved in. that call too several times but "the new york times" has it. we don't have it. go ahead. >> okay. i've not seen it. >> me either. >> it would not be fair for me to comment. on the issue of what we have on the transcript, i think it's
important to understand what we don't have. what you don't have is a quid pro quo. in other words, i'll do this, you do this. >> why do you need that? >> well, that's because the democrats that have been on your network and others have been saying that's what this is. but i think there's an important point here, chris. as a lawyer, you understand this. nancy pelosi went to the podium yesterday for this formal inquiry that she called a formal impeachment inquiry. now, substantively it was no different than anything it was two days before. but she said this before the transcript was even issued. so let's be realistic and honest here. what is this? this is politics. this is not a bob mueller type of situation where you're looking at various statutes, rules and regulations to see how they fit into a scenario. >> that's true. everybody knows that about impeachment, jay. that's what impeachment is. it's a vote. as president ford said, an impeachable offense is whatever congress says it is. >> and that includes of course not just the house of representatives but the united states senate. >> for removal. removal. impeachment is all house. >> well, no, for conviction.
it's not just removal. if there's a trial -- i do not believe that it will ever get to that point. >> i agree with you. i don't think mitch mcconnell will ever have a trial. go ahead. >> okay. so here's the point, though. we cannot -- you said this, and you're right. we should not be looking at this in a vacuum. if we don't look at this in a vacuum, and your network broke this. cnn broke this. this was the letter of may 4th, 2018. in that letter, three members of the united states senate, that includes bob menendez, dick durbin, and patrick leahy, wrote a letter to who? the ukrainian prosecutor. >> prosecutor, loesch eshchenko. >> to urge him to do what? to continue investigations, to continue investigations and then the three senators ask three questions. has your office taken any steps to restrict cooperation with investigation by special counsel robert mueller? did any individual from the trump administration or anyone acting on its behalf encourage
law enforcement officials not to cooperate with the special counsel? was the mueller probe raised in any way during discussions between your government and u.s. officials including around the meetings with president trump in new york in 2017? and in the body of the letter which your network actually got early, what does it say? you know, you've made all this progress, but you're putting all this progress in jeopardy by what? by government officials saying if you do this, we may do that. and that's not what happened when -- the president didn't do that but that's in the letter from three senators. >> first, will you stipulate that because you were citing cnn reporting, cnn cannot be fake news because you're using it for your benefit right now as legitimate news. >> look, i'm telling -- >> a yes is fine. >> i'm not going to get into -- >> a yes is fine. >> you know what i'm going to say? i'm here on your network because you and i have an honest and straightforward relationship. i've had that with your audience and i'm going to continue to do that. >> i'm trying to create unity wherever i can. >> i appreciate that. that's great. but let me tell you what i am concerned about, and, look, this
is the way it is. you know this. you come from a political family, a well established political family. you know what this is. i know what this is. this is politics. >> yeah, but i don't see that as -- i don't see that as disqualifying here. impeachment is a political process. you bring this up. i have no problem with the letter. i have no problem with our elected officials going to another country and saying, hey, we're good to you. i hope you're doing the right thing by an investigation that matters to us. none of these politicians were seeking personal advantage the way the president was. >> hold it! of course they were. who were they trying to investigate? the president. >> they're doing their duties. robert mueller was appointed special counsel. >> hold it, chris. doing their duty, and then you're telling me in this transcript of the president, which you read and i have read line by line, you're telling me that that was a violation of the law or violation of a statute or violation -- >> i'm saying it doesn't have to be and you don't need a quid pro quo. what you need is a president of
the united states who is putting his own political interest first and using all of these arms of the government to do it. >> what did these three senators do, chris? >> i do not see it as even close to an analogy. not even close. i don't. >> you know why it's not close to an analogy? in one, there's a quid pro quo. in the other, there's not. >> i don't know that there's a quid pro quo in either. >> hold it. let me tell you this. who raised the issue of quid pro quo? who did it? what about senator murphy and his statement? you don't think that was a quid pro- -- if you look at biden, your aide's in jeopardy. is that a quid pro quo? >> i don't think quid pro quo is necessary for an abuse of power. i think if the president of the united states -- >> where is that in the -- weather exactly is that in the law, though? >> this isn't about the law. >> where is that statute? >> this is about finding something worthy of impeachment or not. something can be wrong -- >> political theater. >> but not a felony. something can be wrong but not a felony. an abuse of power can be wrong but not a felony. >> well, look --
>> do you think it's okay for the president of the united states to ask the president of ukraine to help him with a political opponent? >> that's not what the president said in the transcript, and you've read it, and you know that's not what the president said. >> i adisagree with you my friend. >> he said he's concerned about corruption. okay. that's fine. and joe biden bragged on television that he gave a prosecutor in ukraine to be fired in six hours or a billion dollars was going to be withheld. you think that's a quid pro quo? >> i think it's absolutely a quid pro quo, but it wasn't done for personal advantage. i'll tell you what. the president says in the call -- >> oh, really? okay. chris -- >> the president -- hold on, jay. the president says in the call, and the white house says in its talking points that joe biden was bragging about taking out a prosecution, which is a lie and a suggestion that -- >> no. >> it says it in the call transcript. >> well, chris, the prosecutor -- >> and the white house copied it. there's a big difference.
>> the prosecutor was doing the prosecution. political theater. >> oh, please. here's my point. >> why don't they vote? chris, do you think this is worthy of an article of impeachment? >> i think it's a case for the democrats to make. but i think it is a prima facie case of abuse of power. now they have to say how important it is to them and why and what meat they can put on the bones. hold on a second. here's a big difference. >> what meat are they putting on the bones? the only meat they're getting is the meat we're giving them and there's nothing there. >> i don't know why anybody thought this was going to be good for him. >> because if you read the transcript, there's not -- >> i don't agree with you, but that's okay. you can make your case here. you're not letting me make my suggestion, which is this. here's the difference between prosecution and prosecutor, is that joe biden saying, yeah, i held up that money till they got rid of that bum prosecutor, shokin, he wanted it -- >> who was doing what? what was he investigating?
>> hold on. i'll give you that. hold on one second. he wanted it. ukraine parliament wanted it. u.n. wanted it. the eu wanted it. other western democracies wanted it. they all wanted shokin out. now, why would joe biden want him out? i'll give you two reasons. one is because that's what he was told to do by the u.s. government. he was made the point person on ukraine. second, it's what ukraine wanted, and they wanted u.s. help with it. the implication is he did it to help his son. help me with this, jay. >> whoa, whoa, implication? chris, was the prosecutor involved in a prosecution looking at the son's business? >> did hunter biden work for the business when shokin was looking at it, when he started the investigation? was hunter biden working for the company? >> it was an ongoing investigation. >> he started the investigation -- the guy wasn't even working for the company. >> look, chris, is this -- can i ask you a question? is this any different than the nonsense we just went through for three years almost with bob mueller's -- >> yes. you actually have the president
obviously contacting a foreign power to obviously help him with a political opponent. >> to find out if there's corruption in a foreign government. i don't see that as an issue. >> to look at crowdstrike had nothing to do with russian interference and to look at joe biden, who just happens to be likely to run against him. >> you raised crowdstrike. that was in the context of what? server issues, issues that were raised. >> what server issues? >> the president was talking about 2016 election issues. >> what issue? it was a conspiracy theory. there's no server anywhere that anybody's looking for. crowdstrike did the forensics on the dnc's server. there's no missing server. >> but, chris, what about all those allegations of who had the server access? was it russians? was it ukraine? look, you don't want to look at this in a vacuum, don't. look at the four pages and tell me you think that's worthy of impeachment. >> here's what i want to know. i want to know was rudy -- i have questions about rudy
giuliani's involvement. with all due respect, i invited him back on the show. there's no reason for this to be personal. i think he's been inconsistent on things. was he there alone? was he there for the state department? did the president know? did he not know? that matters. >> can i ask you a question? >> was the state department involved? why was the a.g. involved? >> hold it. first of all, has there been any evidence of anything involving the a.g.? no. was rudy giuliani -- >> well, other than the president offering him up as hired help to the president of ukraine. >> hold it. you had rudy giuliani on your show. >> i did. >> was it last week? >> yes. >> okay. so rudy -- this has been an issue that rudy has been concerned with. he's been very clear about this for a long time. >> he's been concerned about it for a long time. he hasn't been that clear, but he's been concerned about it. a agree with you. >> he has been concerned about it. >> in the president, the president offers up the a.g. as hired help for the president of ukraine to look at joe biden. >> would it not be appropriate
for an attorney general of the united states to work with the attorney general of ukraine to determine corruption issues that may exist? of course it would be appropriate, 100%. >> i don't know that it's appropriate. >> there's no evidence of any of this happening. >> the evidence is in the transcript of the president saying, i'm going to have the a.g. give you a call, mr. president, to help you look into the biden stuff. why doesn't -- >> hold it. >> why doesn't our government not just look into the biden stuff? why would you have them look no the biden stuff? >> the attorney general is our government. hold it, chris. the attorney general -- hold it, chr chris. first of all, there's no evidence of the attorney general doing anything. >> he is mentioned in the letter a lot. >> the department of justice is -- he's mentioned three times -- >> it's more than you. >> in a 33 minute conversation -- yeah, more than you and me. good for us. >> why is he in there so much? and did the president then ask him to do it? was it okay for the doj to review this complaint?
>> chris, was there an issue with ukraine and corruption in ukraine's recent history? >> yes. >> 100%. >> 100%. >> is it not appropriate for the united states that's giving a lot of aid to ukraine to be concerned about the corruption? >> yes. >> 100%. so that's -- >> but i don't believe that's what it was based on the substance of the phone call. >> i respectfully disagree. >> and i am good with disagreement, and i appreciate you making the points. it's important for my office to hear the perspective of defending these allegations from the president's point of view. you do it very well, and i appreciate you doing it here. >> thanks, chris. >> jay sekulow, be well. i'll speak to you soon. >> you too. the president's legal team is making their case to you and that is their right, and you should hear it, listen to it, process it. what about the prosecutors? did the president abuse his power, yes or no? if yes, is it enough to warrant
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we just got a rare opportunity in the mix here, not just political voices but we heard from the president's attorney. there's a lot to unpack. let's take this up with really a pair of brilliant legal minds, preet bharara and robert ray. thank you both. preet, to you preet, to you out there in san francisco, what did you take away from counselor sekulow? >> not much of substance. no disrespect to the counselor. it seems that if you come on your show and you're the lawyer for the president, you have to yell a lot, and you get extra time, i guess. he focuses on distraction rather than on the substance, and a couple of different areas, i couldn't really follow the logic. i think it's important to take it apart for a moment because you're going to hear it from a lot of people, including from the president himself. one of them is this idea that there is nothing different between what is outlined in that transcript, that summary of the call between the president of the united states and the president of ukraine. there's nothing different between that and what senators and congress people and
presidents for that matter do all the time, which is in the give and take of diplomacy and the give and take of legislation, they say, look, if you don't change your conduct or your behavior in this regard, we're going to do something different in the other regard. and to say those things are quid pro quos in the same way that we mean them if you're a prosecutor or an impeachment authority is ludicrous in the extreme. the analogy would be if bob menendez or some other senator said, we want you to take such actions, and in some way it would benefit him or her personally, or it would knock out a primary challenger or a general election challenger and have a direct, you know, negative effect on something that's personal electorally or financially -- >> sekulow says the quo was helping them get trump with mueller. >> they're making a general point that anytime any person in elective office asks for something, that's a quid pro quo, that's a problem. the second thing he did was he suggested when you asked the question about is it a bad thing for a sitting president of the
united states to make a particular statement to another person who has legal authority to maybe launch investigation or continue an investigation into a political adversary. he said let look at what's not there. there's no quid pro quo there. there doesn't have to be as you're saying in the impeachment context. they always change the standard to what a couple of democrats said they might find. the standard is not what some politicians have said the standard is in advance of knowing what it is. the standard is what the law says or what impeachment history has been. and just a final question is i hope you would ask guest who's are supportive of what the president did as reflected in that summary, is it okay for the president of the united states to pick up the phone and call bill barr, the attorney general, or a sitting united states attorney in new york or somewhere else and say, you know what? a lot of people say that elizabeth warren or bernie sanders is up to no good. i want you to investigate that. would they justify that on the
ground that, no, he's just talking about corruption. if he throws in the word corruption a couple times when giving that directive or suggesting that to his own attorney general, if it's not okay with your own attorney general or your own united states attorney -- and i don't think it is. i think it's a horrible -- and that would be an impeachable offense on its own. then how can it be appropriate to do that with a leader of another country with all the foreign policy implications on top of it? >> i happen to have a brilliant lawyer who supports the president. what is your response? >> well, on the first point about personal political benefit, be careful about that because, you know, if you think about that to its logical extension, anything that a president does potentially has impact to benefit personally him in connection with politics. so i mean you wouldn't want a standard with regard to quid pro quo to be, wait a second, it can be anything that would personally benefit the president. >> what if it's short of that and it's not a quid pro quo, but it is an opponent he white well
run against? >> that draws a tighter connection. i get that. i think as a lot of people who have some sense about this whole thing, it's one thing to talk about errors of judgment. it's another thing to talk about ocasio-cortez. you just had her on, and i think you correctly made the point. since when are deviation from the norms of democracy an impeachable offense? and finally i will say, you know, all this nonsense about, well, it doesn't have to be a quid pro quo, yes, i've watched your show. you were correct to point out that the constitution itself doesn't offer much guidance in terms of what would constitute an impeachable offense. but i'm here to tell you based upon history, which preet, you know, referenced just briefly, we've been through this now basically four times. andrew jackson, which ultimate led to a censure, andrew johnson with led to an impeachment and acquittal in the senate. bill clinton, we know what the
results of that were. and obviously richard nixon, i think, probably the most extreme. >> quit -- >> before it ever happened. >> requires two things based upon history and experience. in my view and i think in the view of most historians who have looked at this and legal scholars too, well founded articles of impeachment require both high crimes and misdemeanors and an abuse of power. and it's not enough to just say that one or the other is sufficient. it's both. and just to run you through the history lesson, the reason that nixon ultimately would have been impeached and removed from office is because both prongs were satisfied. >> all right. so here you believe that this is arguably an abuse of power, but you don't see it connected to illegal activity in a way that impresses you? >> i think be careful even about the abuse of power thing but i -- >> we don't want our presidents asking the president of another country to help find dirt on a political opponent, right? >> i think you can argue about whether or not that's an error in judgment. we also don't impeach presidents based upon errors in judgment. i will say with regard to an abuse of power, it really does have to be an actual abuse, meaning what was the abuse here
ultimately? was joe biden's campaign hurt? was the money ultimately released? >> leshchenko reopened the case into the hunter biden situation. >> did anything untoward occur as a result of that? has any damage been sustained? >> preet, let me bounce it over to you. preet? >> it has never been the standard ever, and i love it when lawyers come on and say this because it's the best argument they can make, and maybe they think they can pull the wool over people's heads. the fact that you try to do something and other good people don't do the bad thing you told them to do doesn't exonerate you from trying to do the bad thing. the mueller report is replete with examples of this. in some ways the president of the united states was saved by the people around him, including corey lewandowski, who was a
liar on television. the point is if the president of the united states called up every sitting united states attorney in the country, right, and said -- i never hear anybody answer the question when they're supportive of the president. is it an abuse of power or potentially a crime for the sitting president to call up the united states attorney and say, i hear there's a lot of corruption in vermont. there's a lot of corruption on. and bernie sanders people say, bernie sanders and his kids are full of corruption. you should look at that. now change the example and say he's done that to every u.s. attorney in the country, and all of them have enough integrity not to do anything about it. would you really sit here and say, what was the effect of that error in judgment? no. you would call it an abuse of power, and i think it would be impeachable on those facts alone. >> the president has the absolute right to suggest an investigation. he's the executive branch. that's an -- >> he's not given rights. he's given responsibilities. >> no. he's given the power to faithfully execute the law. if he wants -- if he wants to direct the united states. >> if wants to direct the united states attorney -- >> preet, let ray say it.
>> preet, i'm very sorry -- >> he won't answer the question. >> sure he will. if he wants to direct the united states attorney to do something, he can do that. now, you may not like it. >> could it be impeachable if he asks him to do it? >> you know, the end result is directing a prosecutor, for example, to file an indictment i think might well be an abuse of power. we have a system in place. >> so you'd be okay with a president saying to a u.s. attorney -- >> i'd like you to look into this? absolutely. >> even if you were running against the person? >> i think you'd have to be very careful about that. >> that's an extraordinary thing. can i -- >> i think you have to be very careful about that? >> might i respond? >> i think with regard to the error in judgment, i think you're unwise to travel down that road because it's filled and fraught with all kinds of
peril, which is one of the reasons we have institutional norms that generally speaking prevent the president from dealing directly with the united states attorney's office with regard to an investigation. the president must go through the -- the norm is to go through the white house counsel. >> here you have him -- >> deals with the deputy attorney general and the deputy attorney general then deals with the u.s. attorney's office. >> that didn't happen here. the question is what happens if the president -- i believe the a.g. said today, nobody told me to do anything. >> right. so why are we talking about -- >> do we know that that's true? >> you're going to -- >> i'm not saying, do you know? >> i suppose we don't absolutely know it's true unless you have bill barr back to the congress to testify under oath. do you really think that's necessary? >> i don't think that guarantees that you're going to get an answer, right? he's turned out to be very clever, and he can reckon things, and he could say, i wasn't told, but someone did suggest it to me. someone told me that he asked about it. i mean he's -- >> the department of justice apparently has come out today through a spokesperson to say that the president -- >> right. >> -- did not ask the attorney general and that the attorney general did not -- >> the remaining question for
you, preet -- i want to end on this idea going forward. i don't believe it's just about the call or two calls. i believe that it is about a series of choices and directives made by the president and his lawyer over about a year. what questions do you want to know going forward that will inform how significant a potential abuse of power this is? >> yeah. i want to know the answers to all the facts with respect to what conversations were had. but, you know, i didn't get a chance to respond. >> please, go ahead. >> you let mr. ray go on for quite a bit. i think it's an extraordinary thing to hear a lawyer come on a program and even while he's speaking, trying to backtrack from what it seemed like he was saying, that there is a justification for a sitting president of the united states to be able to call up individual u.s. attorneys and not say, hey, could you spend more time going after drug traffickers, but saying specifically, investigate a particular person who might be a particular harm to me. that's extraordinary. if that's the argument that lawyers who support the president are going to be making, i think we're in a lot of trouble. >> let's do this. let's see where the facts lead us. let's -- look at that. preet had to go. then we'll see what choices the democrats make. preet, wherever are, thank you. robert ray, thank you. we'll be doing it again for sure.