tv Inside Politics CNN September 26, 2019 9:00am-10:00am PDT
department that essentially says the president is above the director. therefore, the president is not subject to the jurisdiction of the director. therefore, it doesn't meet the definition of urgent concern. therefore, the inspector general is done. the inspector general can't investigate anymore. that's the inspector general's reading of the public opinion, that he is no longer allowed to investigate this. is that your reading as well? >> not necessarily the president, but the allegation has to relate to the funding and operation ability with the director of national intelligence. >> i'm trying to get to whether the president is somehow beyond the reach of the law. >> no, sir. no person in this country is beyond the reach of the law. >> that's the way it should be, but i'm trying to figure out whether that's the way it is as a practical fact. the inspector general believes that based upon the opinion that
you requested of the department of justice, he is no longer allowed to look into this because it doesn't meet the definition of an urgent concern because it involves the president. is that your understanding of the department opinion as well, that the inspector general no longer has jurisdiction to look into this? >> it is my understanding that both the inspector general and i and my team are waiting for -- we were waiting for the resolution of executive privilege to be determined. it is now no longer executive privilege. i'm not sure exactly what the statute has as far as what michael can do, but we also are looking for a way -- if i did not send it forward, as you know, as an urgent concern within seven days, then the whistleblower would be allowed to come forward and be
protected. >> my point is this. the department of justice has said because this doesn't meet the statutory definition, because this involves the president, the inspector general has no jurisdiction to investigate. now, if this inspector general has no jurisdiction to investigate because the president is above the agency, no inspector general has jurisdiction to investigate. that's the -- that is the effect of that opinion. do you disagree? >> i believe that the opinion was based on the reading of the statute and whether or not the situation here is compliant and comes underneath the statute. the office of legal counsel opinion was that based on the criteria you're required to have in order to support this legal statute, it does not. it also said that because of that, it is not a matter of the
intelligence community. but once again, however, you may go forward, and i have. >> that's the key issue, director. because it involves the president, it does not involve the intelligence community. that is the sum and substance. and the effect of that is the inspector general has told us that he no longer has jurisdiction to investigate. and by the logic of that opinion, nor does any other inspector general. now, as you point out, this was referred to the justice department, it was referred to the fbi and justice department. that department under bill barr and with breathtaking speed decided there is nothing to see here. it decided that we don't believe that this constitutes a violation of the campaign finance laws, and therefore, we're not authorizing an investigation. the fbi is not authorized to investigate any of this. any of this.
so the igs can't do it, according to the department of justice. the fbi can't do it because it doesn't meet their threshold that makes it worthy of investigation. so at this point, this committee and this congress is in a position to investigate. and i want to ask you, going to the whistleblower complaint, whether you believe these allegations are worthy investigation. the whistleblower says, i have received information from multiple u.s. government officials that the president of the united states is using the power of his office to solicit interference from a foreign country in the 2020 u.s. election. you would agree that should be investigated, would you not? >> chairman, the horse has left the barn. you have all of the information. you have the whistleblower complaint, you have the letter from the icig, you have the office of legal counsel opinion, and you have the transcript of the phone call. i'm confident dthere is going t
be an investigation. >> you agree there should be an investigation? >> i believe it is a matter to be determined by the chair and this committee. >> i'm asking you as a career military officer, someone who i greatly respect and i admire your service to the country. do you believe that there is a credible admission by the whistleblower that the president of the united states is using his power to solicit foreign interference in the 2020 election, do you believe that should be investigated? >> i don't believe confidence corroborated by other folks. the whistleblower said he spoke or she spoke to about a dozen other people. this is secondhand information. i'm not criticizing the whistleblower. >> but the inspector general took those two weeks, as you well told us, to corroborate that information. we don't know which, if any, of these officials the inspector
general spoke to, and found it credible. and you've told us that you have no reason to believe otherwise. am i right? >> i had no reason to doubt a career inspector general lawyer in his determination on whether or not it was credible. that is something for michael to determine. >> let me ask you this. the whistleblower also says, over the past four months, more than half a dozen u.s. officials informed me of various facts related to this effort to seek foreign interference. you would agree we should speak to those half a dozen u.s. officials, would you not? >> i think you have all the material that the committee needs, and i think it's up to the committee how they think they need to proceed. >> i'm asking your opinion as the head of our intelligence agencies. do you think we should talk to those other people and find out whether the whistleblower was right? >> my responsibility was to get you the whistleblower letter and the complaint and other information released. i have done my responsibility. that is on the shoulders of the
legislative branch and this committee -- >> the whistleblower also says, i am also concerned that these actions pose risk to undermining national security and undermine counterinterference to u.s. elections. you would agree if there is a credible authorization along those lines, we should investigate it? >> i agree if there was election interference, the complaint is not about election interference. it was about a classified, confidential, diplomatic conversation -- >> involving election interference sought by the president. that doesn't take it out of the realm of seeking foreign assistance, it makes it all the more pernicious. wouldn't you agree? >> as i said, i don't disagree with the igic's assessment that it was a credible matter. >> the whistleblower further says, namely he, the president, sought to pressure ukranian leader to take action to help the president's 2020 reelection
bid. you would agree that that should be investigated? >> not necessarily, sir. it was investigated by the federal bureau of investigation. >> no, it wasn't. >> it went to -- >> the department of justice concluded that this wouldn't violate the election laws. now, no one can understand how they could reach that conclusion after the two years we've been through, but nonetheless, they didn't authorize the fbi to investigate it. you would agree someone should investigate this, wouldn't you? >> if i didn't, i would not have referred it to the justice department and the fbi. >> then i'm glad we're in agreement. the whistleblower says, they told me that there was already a discussion ongoing with the white house lawyers about how to treat the call because of the likelihood and the officials telling they had witnessed the president abuse his office for personal gain. you would agree that should be investigated, wouldn't you? >> all i know is that's the allegation. >> right, and it's credible, and
therefore, should be investigated, right? >> again, it is hearsay secondhand information. it should come to this committee for further investigation. >> thank you. >> you have the documents. >> i just wanted to confirm that we're in agreement that you think the committee should investigate it. the whistleblower also says donald trump expresses conviction that the new ukranian government will be able to quickly improve ukraine's image and complete the investigation or corruption cases that have held back cooperation between ukraine and the united states. this is the whistleblower citing the ukranian readout. you would agree that if the ukranian readout, when they're talking about corruption cases, is talking about investigating biden and his son, and that that has held back -- the failure to do that has held back cooperation between the two countries, that should be investigated, right? that's a security measure? >> i did not agree that it should be investigated. what i said was i complied with my requirement to send you the
documents. it is up to the chair, the ra g ranking member and these committee members what to do with that information. i am in no position to tell the chair or the committee to do an investigation or not do an investigation. >> okay. i find it remarkable that the director of national intelligence doesn't think credible allegations of someone seeking foreign assistance in a u.s. election should be investigated. let me ask you this. the whistleblower further says, in the days following the phone call, i learned from multiple u.s. officials that senior white house officials had intervened to lockdo down all the records the phone call. do you have any reason to believe that the whistleblower's allegation there is incorrect? >> i have no idea whether it is correct or incorrect, sir. >> someone should find out, though, right? >> excuse me? >> someone should find out if it is correct, shouldn't they? >> i do not know if that is an incorrect allegation. i just do not know. that is the business of the executive branch of the white house and the office of the
white house. >> corruption is not the business, or it shouldn't be, of the white house or anyone in it. >> the white house decides to do with their privileged communication is the business of the white house. >> do you believe that's true even if that communication involves crime or fraud? i'm sure you're aware that there is an exception to any claim of privilege. the privilege can't be used to conceal crime or fraud? >> this is before any crime or fraud that should be referred to the justice department for investigation. as i did. >> the whistleblower further alleges that white house officials told the whistleblower they were directed by white house lawyers to remove the electronic transcript, that is, of the call from the computer system in which such transcripts are typically stored. and instead it was loaded into a separate electronic system that is otherwise used to store and handle classified information of an especially sensitive nature.
one white house official described this act as an abuse of the electronic system. i do not know whether similar measures were taken to restrict access to other records of the call, such as contemporaneous handwritten notes taken by those who listened in. we should find out, shouldn't we? >> chairman schiff, when i received the letter from michael atkinson on the 26th of august, he concurrently sent a letter to the office of white house counsel asking the white house counsel to control and keep any information that pertained to that phone call on the 25th. it was a lengthy letter. michael would be able to address it better but i do believe the icig -- i know that the icig has sent a letter to the white house counsel requesting that they keep all of that information. >> but you would agree that if there is a credible allegation from this credible whistleblower that white house officials were moving these records into a
system that was not designed for that purpose in an effort to cover up essentially potential misconduct. that ought to be looked into. you would agree with that, wouldn't you? >> to the best of my knowledge, when this allegation came forward, this whistleblower complaint, on the 12th of august, i have no idea what the timeline was as far as whether or not the white house, the national security council or anybody involved in that conversation, what they did with the transcripts, where they put them. i just have absolutely no knowledge nor the timeline of that, chairman. it is not something that would be under my authority or responsibility. >> the whistleblower makes a series of allegations involving mr. giuliani, critites a report the "new york times" to pursue investigations that would help the president in his 2020 reelection bid. you would agree that if the president was instructing his
personal lawyer to seek again foreign help in a u.s. election that that would be improper? i believe mueller described such efforts to seek public assistance as unethical, unpatriotic and possibly criminal? would you agree with director mueller that to seek foreign assistance in that way would be unethical, unpatriotic and very possibly a violation of law? >> i believe that mr. giuliani is the president's personal lawyer. and whatever conversation the president has with his personal lawyer i would imagine would be client-attorney privilege. i'm in no position to criticize the president of the united states on how he wants to conduct that, and i have no knowing of what mr. giuliani does or does not do. >> let me ask you about the last couple allegations of the
whistleblower. i learned from u.s. officials that on or around the 14th of may, the president had vice president pence travel to ukraine to attend zelensky's inauguration in may. he made it clear the president did not want to meet mr. zelensky until he saw how he, quote, unquote, acted in office. i don't know who this was translated from and by whom. i also saw that a meeting with the president and mr. zelensky would depend on whether mr. zelensky showed the willingness to play ball. do you know whether mr. pence, vice president pence's trip was
pulled because of an effort to find out first whether ukraine was willing to play ball? >> chairman schiff, no, i do not. i don't have knowledge of any of that until this information came to me from the icig. i have no awareness or knowledge of any of those facts. >> would you agree that if the vice president's trip was canceled in order to put further pressure on ukraine to manufacture dirt on mr. biden that that would be unethical, unpatriotic and potentially a crime? >> i do not know why the vice president of the united states did not do that. i do know what the allegation was within the whistleblower complaint, and i don't know whether that allegation is accurate or not, mr. chairman. >> finally, the whistleblower says, on july 18 an office of management and budget official informed departments and agencies that the president
earlier that month had issued instructions to suspend all u.s. security assistance to ukraine. neither omb or the nfc staff knew why this instruction had been issued. senator mcconnell said the other day that he spoke with the secretary of defense and secretary of state, and he didn't know why the instruction had been given. doesn't that strike you as suspicious, director, that no one on the national security staff, no one in the senior leadership, apparently, of the party here in congress that approved the aid understood why the president was suspending aid? doesn't that strike you as just a little suspicious? >> chairman schiff, i'm just unaware, to be honest with you, how those decisions are made. once again, i have no situation awareness of what happened with the holding of funding. >> as a military man, if this military aid was held from an ally that was fighting off putin's russia, and it was done so to be used as leverage to get dirt in a u.s. political
campaign, don't you think that should be investigated? >> i have no reason to believe -- i do not understand. i have no situation awareness if that was withheld or why it was withheld, mr. chairman. >> well, i can tell you we are going to find out. director, i want to thank you for your attendance today. i want to thank you again for your service. as my colleague underscored, mr. welch, and i fully agree with his sentiment. no one has any question about your devotion to the country. no one has any question about your acting in good faith c. i want to make that very clear. i think you're a good and honorable man. like my colleagues, i don't agree with the decisions you've made. i agree with the inspector general's view of the law, and i'm deeply concerned about the message this has sent to other
whistleblowers about whether this system really works. if the subject of a complaint can stop that complaint from getting to congress, then the most serious complaints may never get here. and i want to thank the whistleblower for their courage. they didn't have to step forward. indeed, we know from the whistleblower complaint there were several others that have knowledge of many of the same events. and i would just say to those several others that have knowledge of those events, i hope that they, too, would show the same kind of courage and patriotism that this whistleblower has shown. we are dependent on people of good faith to step forward when they see evidence of wrongdoing. the system won't work otherwise and i have to say to our friends in ukraine who may be watching just how distressing it is that as their country fights to liberate itself from russian oppressi oppression, as it fights to root out corruption in their own
country that what they would be treated to by the president of the united states would be the highest form of corruption in this country. that the president of the united states would be, instead of a champion of democracy and human rights and the rule of law, would instead be reinforcing a message with the new ukranian president who was elected to root out corruption. instead the message of that president would be, you can use your justice department. just call bill barr. you can use our justice department to manufacture dirt on an opponent, that that's what democracy is. you can use foreign assistance, military assistance, vital assistance as a lever to get another country to do something unethical. the idea that a fellow democracy, struggling democracy, would hear those messages from the president of the united states, i just want to say to the people of ukraine, we
support you in your fight with russia. we support you in your struggle for democracy, we support you in your efforts to root out corruption, and what you are witnessing and what you are seeing in the actions of this president is not democracy. it is the very negation of democracy. this is democracy. what you saw in this committee is democracy, as ugly as it can be, as personal as it can be, as infuriating as it can be. this is democracy. this is democracy. i thank you, director. we are adjourned. >> thank you very much, mr. chairman. welcome to our special coverage. i'm john king in washington. you have been listening to a remarkable hearing with dni joseph mcguire testifying about three hours on capitol hill.
that testimony coming hours after a publication of a whistleblower complaint that raises allegations the president of the united states used his office to pursue foreign dirt for the 2020 election. we have a great group here to discuss it. a lot of process in that hearing, a lot of politics in that hearing. mr. mcguire clearly very uncomfortable when asked to make any judgments, should this be investigated, do you think the president crossed the line. he didn't want to talk about that. what he wanted to say is i received this complaint. i did the best i could in a situation he acknowledged jeffrey tine was unprecedented. a whistleblower complaint not about somebody in the intelligence community, but about the president of the united states. what did we learn? >> well, the issue that the democrats in particular were focusing on is why, when the law says when there is a credible and urgent inspector general's report, when the law says it shall be turned over to the congress, why wasn't it turned over right away? and the disturbing thing that
the democrats found was that the two places that he went for advice, mr. mcguire went for advice were the white house counsel and the department of justice, office of legal counsel. when donald trump, head of the white house, and mr. barr are implicated in this story. so the question was, did he get really good and fair advice? now, there was sort of an air of reality about it because the complaint and the transcript, the partial transcript, have never been turned over. so the fight didn't really have that much juice to it, but that was really what the issue was about. >> to that point, the process argument was why don't you just give it immediately to the committee, and by going to the white house and the justice department, were you helping the people that the democrats believed had every incentive to cover it up. were you given a heads up? the question is what happened with this.
it was a remarkable hearing today, but the whistleblower complaint, if you're at home, suspend your politics and read it, not only did the president seek foreign dirt in the 2020 election and used essentially extortion against the ukranian government. but in some ways, more dangerously, it suggests that people in the white house created a second computer system because they understood how outrageous this was and they were hiding this, covering it up, burying it. the question is, does washington have a process after watching the politics and mistrust play out in that room to deal with the substance of this? >> i think throughout this testimony, joe mcguire repeatedly said that he did not believe that this fellow under his authority as a director of national intelligence. but the point you make, john, absolutely does fall squarely under his purview. what you have here is a case where officials in the white house are taking information that is neither sensitive nor of a classified nature, does not involve national security
issues, and they're moving that information from a system that archives transcripts of these calls, and they're putting it in a compartmented, highly classified, sensitive system that's only used for dealing with information that are of a particularly sensitive nature. that system is being misused by those officials. and what the dni has to understand is that because it's an intelligence community classified system, it falls under his purview, and what he should have did when he saw this is he should have said, what do i need to do about that? >> by the way, those calls, it was not just the call with ukraine, because on the first page of the appendix, the whistleblower says, according to white house officials, plural, thf this was not the first time in the administration that a presidential transcript was placed in this coded system. that means other calls with world leaders were set aside, covered up. who were those other world leaders? that was not a question asked today. do they include, say, vladimir putin, a leader that this
president has already taken extraordinary steps to hide the content of his conversations, you'll recall, the confiscated notes in july of 2017. that to me was a signal that what this whistleblower revealed goes beyond what we even learned. >> let's be clear, this is an allegation. it is a wow. if true, it takes down the president for improper behavior and by authority who would hide things and cover it up. the question is can washington have a process you trust to go through it and air it out? that is the challenge today. i want to go through some of the claims in the whistleblower complaint. the president used his power to solicit interference in the 2020 campaign. that more than half of the officials in the u.s. government can corroborate that. that white house officials were deeply disturbed by the july 25th call with the ukranian president. it says the president's personal attorney essentially has been acting as a private envoy here
that the government was concerned about his contacts with ukraine. he met with ukranian officials months prior to the july 25th call. two state department officials spoke to giuliani to try to contain the damage. and the white house tried to lockdown the records, directed to move transcripts to a special storage system. not the first time, as jim noted, this has happened. concern of abuse of the system. also of concern is whether they pulled the vice presidential trip to send a message to ukraine, with the president saying, you don't get anything from us, including a visit from the vice president, until you agree to play ball. the acting director of intelligence was very clear that he supported the credibility of the whistleblower and the credibility of the inspector general even though he did not want to weigh in on what he believes is the substance of this. what next? >> there is a lot of information in the complaint that now is the basis for the intelligence committees both in the house and the senate to conduct a really serious investigation. they should not be stymied by
allegations of classified information. this complaint was unclassified. there was a very short and abbreviated classified addendum, much of which has already been declassified by the president and released publicly, so classification shouldn't be an issue. the text and summary of the phone call itself on july 25th has been declassified and released by the president. so that is not any longer under any colorable claim of privilege. there is a lot of information in the complaint and in the phone call for the committee now to do the investigation. and so much of what we just heard in the hearing had to do with the process of whether or not the complaint could come to the committee, and we're beyond that already. >> we're beyond that. we have this document now which, again, i don't care whether you're a democrat or republican, independent, maybe you don't care about politics at all. maybe today was a reason to make you not care about politics at all. but yes, the democrats run the intelligence committee on the house side and adam schiff ended by saying, we're going to find
out. the question is for the country at large, especially if you look at the calendar, heading into a reelection year for the president, reelection year for congress. is there any prayer that republicans would read this document and go to democrats and say, why don't we put this in a box for a couple months and let's not just deal with this, not knowing what the last chapter is, and we just investigate whether this is true? >> nancy pelosi wants to go ahead on ukraine and forget everything else, stormy daniels and the rest of it. the question i have on any kind of investigation going forward and how quickly it could be -- and i'm not a lawyer, so i'm going to ask the lawyers here. when the whistleblower said that white house officials told me they were directed by white house lawyers to establish effectively a file 13 here, kind of separate it out, do white house lawyers work for the american public or the president? is there attorney-client privilege they can claim?
>> they are working for the office of the president. >> it doesn't say the white house counsel's office specifically, so i don't know what the answer is. >> we had a very unusual event in the past two days, which is the voluntary release of the inspector general's report and the voluntary release of the partial transcript of the conversation with the president of ukraine. however, if you look at everything else the white house has done since the democrats took the house, they have fought disclosure. this document is a road map to further investigation of the white house. who are the white house lawyers who directed that these transcripts be hidden? who told them to do that? >> right. >> how is the house of representatives going to find that out if the white house refuses to cooperate? i don't know. >> and it shows an admission of guilt if they say on the part of the white house lawyers who felt the need to hide something. >> it depends on who ultimately
gave the instruction. the key allegation here is that everybody at the white house knew that these calls with the president of ukraine were wrong, they were damaging, they were incriminating, so they tried to hide them. that's consciousness of guilt. if it happened, and i question given how the interactions have worked between the house of representatives and the white house, whether the house will be able to get the information to prove or disprove that. >> can i just underscore one thing you just said? we've been watching this hearing, which was not easy to watch. even this document which was very well written and pretty clear has a lot of legalese and names in it we haven't heard. what you just said is really the key. the allegation that not only did the president do something that was untoward, maybe even illegal, that there are people in the white house who saw that, tried to cover it up, a. that's allegation a. and b, the other important
subtext here is that people knew that that was bad, therefore, they were putting phone calls in to people like the whistleblower saying, what is going on? it was a 911 phone call from inside the white house saying, whoa. >> they were enabling. >> and this is why i think the committee was so focused on procedure today. yes, we have this complaint. but the sheer scope of the number of people that are involved, and who knows what's happening with other conversations, records or notes or other context, there could be other whistleblowers. basically as it stands right now, the position of the executive branch would effectively block any of those whistleblowers from even getting past the icig. basically the ig is saying, i understand the position to be that anything the president does is outside of the intelligence community and therefore not within my jurisdiction. >> the thing is, too, beyond the process, get to the substance. the central question of 2016 was did russia interfere in the u.s. election? yes, it did. did the president welcome that,
right, in the mueller report. in this case you have two things that stand out to me. one, the president -- and by the way, mcguire said that the transcript as released by the white house is, in his words, in alignment with the complaint. that's as far as he would go to say, in effect, this is credible, this complaint there. the central thing here is, is the president participating and encouraging such? not just accepting or turning a blind eye or denying, but actively engaging in, and in two ways. one, denying military aid. again, that's the allegation. two, denying meetings, and therefore high-level contacts which is important to the country of ukraine which is being invaded by russia today and people are dying by the thousands. i would also say this because this is also in the complaint. the president still does not believer russia interfered in 2016. in these calls he's pushing ukraine, a conspiracy theory, in effect, that it was really ukraine that did it. that's remarkable two and a half years into the presidency. >> as we try to investigate
this, number one, the democrats in congress say they will go forward. there is a huge question about whether the republicans will give them any assistance except to say there are huge allegations here. it would be pretty easy. a couple hours, have people come in, raise their hand, take an oath. is this true? if you're convinced this is a bipartisan document. that won't happen. democrats say the law required him to immediately turn this over to congress. in trying to defend his congress, he said, i had to deal with the unprecedented issue of, this is the president, was there privilege? i did refer it to the justice department. in the context of bill barr and the mueller report, we saw him put his thumb on the scale in favor of the president. there is new reporting that will raise questions on how this issue was handled in the department of justice. evan? >> the department of justice says this is a closed issue, right? they provided a lot of information yesterday including a briefing of what exactly went
into their legal analysis of this complaint, but we've now seen a new document that was posted online today by the office of legal counsel, and what it shows us is that they limited what they were looking at to essentially what they were asked. and look, that's going to be the explanation from the justice department, is that we only answer the questions that we are asked. so what we see is that the office of legal counsel essentially limited its review of the referral from the inspector general to essentially whether or not this urgent concern met the statute, the existing whistleblower statute. but there is a couple of footnotes in the document that was posted today that shows they also were aware of some of the other allegations from the whistleblower, including the fact that the whistleblower says that there was information showing that the white house or the president was essentially withholding military assistance to ukraine for political purposes and for improper reasons. and then secondly, that they had
decided -- the white house had decided to wall off not only the transcript of this call but perhaps other documents, again, for political reasons, not for a national security concern. those are two things that appear in footnotes in this olc document that's been posted today, which shows that they were at least aware that these were part of the concerns that were raised by the person who filed this complaint, the whistleblower, but were essentially not part of the legal analysis that was done here by the lawyers of their office of legal counsel. i should add, john, that we know they kicked it over to the criminal division of the justice department. we have lawyers from the national security division, public integrity lawyers, a lot of lawyers in the department looked at the complaint that was filed by this whistleblower, and they essentially limited their analysis to whether or not this was an election law violation, whether this was a campaign finance violation.
they didn't look at this as perhaps a counter-intelligence issue. one of the things the whistleblower says is that this could raise perhaps an issue of compromise for the president or other people involved, because, you know, if some foreign intelligence service knows about this, they could use this to compromise the president. that appears to not have been part of the legal analysis that the justice department did before they decided to shut this down. >> that's some important reporting. let me come to the lawyers on the panel here. i'm a layperson here, but essentially here's 20 pages. i'm going to look at this one, is that what happened here, and forget this? >> it looks like that's what happened and that's not normal operating procedure. when the fbi gets information, it's not really up to the person making the referral to specify the violation that is happening. it's their job to look at it and assess. but more importantly, how shocked can we really be that
bill barr decided that allegations that he may have been involved in securing information from a foreign government would not constitute a campaign finance violation? it's truly bizarre that -- we can go down this road, just that he would be willing to make that decision on the record because it presents a clear conflict of interest. >> one of the common public refrains here is, you people need to calm down. this is mr. trump. he doesn't talk like bush, he doesn't talk like obama. he's heading over to the senate intelligence committee. that hearing will be conducted in private. we'll keep track of any information. but the argument is the president speaks in his own way, you people need to be more careful, just understand he's different. that's one issue. if you read the memo -- it's not a transcript -- of the call with the president of ukraine, it's
pretty clear he's linking aid and linking cooperation and linking friendship to help with the biden investigation. the whistleblower complaint blows this up. and sean, i want to come to you because you worked in this community. it's not just about the president. in the days following the phone call, i learned that senior white house officials had intervened to lock down all records of the phone call, especially the official word-for-word transcript of the phone call was reduced. that would be a nice thing to have, the official transcript. that would clear up a lot of this. if it shows the president did nothing wrong, great, if we had it. but we don't. they have a separate system. they're using another computer system that is essentially designed to protect the most covert information of the united states government to hide.
>> it's important to understand how this typically works. it's typically the case that when the president has a phone call with a foreign leader, that the transcript of that phone call is packaged up and sent out to other cabinet officials who may have an interest in that discussion. when i was at odni, it was regularly the case the director at the time, dni jim clapper, would get transcripts of those phone calls. what we're being told in this case is there are phone calls that are happening, and not only are those transcripts not distributed, in government you have classified systems that rise above the level of secret systems. in those systems, that's where you put the most sensitive information. what we have in this case is we have these phone calls not being put there because they are of a sensitive national security matter, they're being put there because they're politically embarrassing for the president. that is an abuse of the system. >> so they're trying to protect the president, you know, obviously. and i think the question that i'm also asking is, when the
president decided not to send pence to ukraine for the inauguration, what did he tell the vice president? did the vice president know that this was being held up and that the aid was being held up because the president felt that zelensky had not been cooperative enough to investigating joe biden or hillary clinton's server or whatever it is? was the vice president aware of the file 13 that -- you know. i don't know. >> one very important thing that came up today in this hearing was if and when the whistleblower, him or herself, will be able to testify. because -- and mcguire seemed to say that was likely in the works, but why that's so important is that this document says white house officials -- six white house officials knew that this business of burying
the transcripts was going on. first question. who were they? what are their names? so that will allow the committee to investigate and see if these accusations are true or not. >> and another central part of this are the activities of the president's personal lawyer, rudy giuliani. we focused yesterday because we had a memorandum of the july 25th call. we knew before that giuliani was working his story, working his often conspiracy theories and adam schiff speaking on capitol hill, the chairman of the house intelligence committee. let's listen. >> we had an opportunity to review last night, but only received today. we made available to the public as soon as we received the redacted version. it sets out a series of the most damning allegations concerning it the conduct of the president and others potentially within the
administration. in that it lays out a scheme to use the leverage of the presidency, use the leverage of the vital military assistance to a foreign nation to provide or obtain dirt on a political opponent. it's hard to imagine a more serious set of allegations than those contained in the complaint. the complaint goes further, obviously, than the record of the call in that it also alleges that there were efforts made to conceal this scheme. by moving communications onto servers that were designed for an entirely different purpose, that were designed, in fact, to contain communications of covert action and other highly sensitive compartmented intelligence information. it is a deep irony that the department of justice would say this is outside the jurisdiction of the director of national intelligence and yet someone
felt that this should be put in the place that is used for the protection of the most sensitive of classified information. but what we do know at this point is this, that when the inspector general found that this whistleblower was credible, he was right. because what this whistleblower said about the nature of that call has been borne out in great detail by the call record that has now been released. so in a very substantial part, this whistleblower has already been found to be credible. whether the other allegations that go beyond this specific call will be borne out has yet to be determined and that it will be the subject of our investigation. this whistleblower has given us a road map for our investigation. but it's important to underscore that what we are able to corroborate already about the whistleblower has been corroborated in detail by this record of the president's
conversation with the president of ukraine. that gives added weight and urgency and need to get to the bottom of the other allegations made by the whistleblower. once again, i want to express my profound gratitude to the whistleblower for coming forward. and i'm grateful for the director for coming to the committee, for not requiring us to use coercion. yes, we provided a subpoena, but he came in front of the committee, and he came in front of the committee voluntarily. and while i believe he has made the wrong decision in withholding the complaint, like my colleagues, i respect his service to the country. but we are profoundly concerned with the breakdown of this whistleblower system that has bienemann fest over the last month, that a whistleblower who was deemed credible, who had a complaint that was deemed urgent, that a complaint that had to come to congress would be
held in congress, and would be withheld on the basis of advice given by the subject or subjects of that complaint. the conflict of interest is all too apparent, all too palpable. it is indeed a minor miracle that we got the complaint at all and that we got the transcript at all. at the end of the day, what is alleged in this whistleblower complaint goes to the very heart of the president's oath of office. that he faithfully execute the laws of the country, that he defend the constitution, and if as alleged, if as this record of call already indicates, the president was instead faithfully executing his office was using that office as leverage to obtain dirt, to have another country manufacture dirt on his opponent. it is hard to imagine a more fundamental abuse of that office. and so we are determined to get to the bottom of this, and i'm
happy to respond to a couple questions. >> without speaking to the whistleblower, what are your next investigative steps? what targets emerge from reading this complaint in the hearing today? obviously a recess begins on friday for the next couple weeks. >> we'll be working through the recess, and as i mentioned, i think the complaint gives us a pretty good road map of allegations we need to investigate. there is a whole host of people, apparently, who have knowledge of these events that the whistleblower makes reference to. we don't know how many or any of them that have already been interviewed by the inspector general. we will be having a subsequent hearing with the inspector general which we have requested so that we can determine what he was able to find in his preliminary investigation. now, he only had 14 days to do it, but it looks like he did a far more substantial investigation than anything the justice department was willing to do.
and so we will see what witnesses have been interviewed and what haven't. we'll do our best to identify those. we're obviously going to be bringing the whistleblower in, and i was pleased that the director committed to have the whistleblower come in as soon as the issues are resolved with the whistleblower's counsel, and that we have the commitment of the director of national intelligence that there will not be some minder from the white house or the department of justice or anywhere else that is instructing him what he can or cannot answer or what she can or cannot answer. that further testimony will help identify, i hope, some of these other individuals that can corroborate these deeply troubling allegations. we also want to determine what the documentary evidence is. we need to look into the allegation that this may not be the only communication of a potentially corrupt character that was shielded by this classified information computer
system abused for that purpose. we want to know what role rudy giuliani had in all of this. we want to know what role bill barr had in any of this. we want to know what ukraine understood was expected of them before they even had this july phone call with the president of the united states. so we know what we have to do, and of course, we'll be guided by the evidence that we find along the way. >> what potential crimes do you see? >> i think there are any number of potential crimes when a president is soliciting for assistance again in another presidential election. there can be no claim of ignorance this time. when a president is withholding authorized funding of congress to use as leverage if he were
trying to manufacture dirt on his opponent, if there is an effort to cover up. any of this conduct there are innumerable potential offenses, but i have no confidence that this justice department led by the attorney general will investigate anything, except the president's adversaries. or claims that give fodder to the conspiracy theories which the president wishes to pedal which he was pedaling with volodymyr zelensky. as the partners are willing to look into this, this will fall on our responsibility. >> could you specifically seek interviews with rudy giuliani, with bill barr, and will you try to get the transcripts that were separated out? >> i'm not going to get to specific administrative steps at this point. but as i made clear in the
questions i had for the director today, i think each and every one of these allegations, given their seriousness, given that no one is looking into this and no one has been apart from this committee for the last month that these urgent matters need to be thoroughly investigated. now, we're going to move as expeditiously as possible. of course, it's been the history of this administration prior to this very graphic exception of the publishing of this call record and the provision of the complaint, the declassification of the complaint, that this administration has attempted to obstruct our inquiry in any way and in every way. but we will be working to conduct this as swiftly as possible. >> we're going to head back into this room. >> president trump just tweeted about you saying you have zero credibility and another fantasy to hurt the republican party. how do you respond? >> i'm always flattered when i'm
attacked by someone of the president's character. thank you. >> the chairman of the house intelligence committee, adam schiff, speaking to reporters there responding to a tweet from the president, that after the big hearing this morning with the acting director of national intelligence. mr. schiff promising that the investigation will continue even through a congressional recess. he said the priority now is to get the whistleblower in the room. he's confident the director of national intelligence will allow that to happen without a reminder. and the whistleblower complaint chairman schiff says he wants to bring before the committee. it is an oversight investigation. it is not directly connected to impeachment yet, but the president clearly sees where this is going, not only tweeting moments ago that in his view adam schiff has zero credibility. he said a whistleblower with no credible information. another fake news story. see what was said on the very
nice, no pressure, call. another witch hunt. it was the dangling of the usa connecting the election to his opponent joe biden. the democrats seem to be on a path to impeachment, and you have some reporting that the white house -- i'm not sure they're happy with their own decision to release all these documents in recent days, but they assume this is where this is going as well, and they're considering some steps that show you the bruising politics we would be in if we get there. >> a couple things we've been learning as we're watching this. number one, the obvious question has been if we now know what this is, the president knew about this, why didn't they release it? the answer i've gotten from several sources, the president, and the office, was getting pounded by the office saying, we are not going to question anything else until we get this.
once they started leaking, they were continuing to see details go out there, so you might as well just release it. whether they're second-guessing, i don't have the answer to that. secondly, on the political response, you know from being in the white house in the clinton years, they assembled a special team to deal with the communications strategy and other political strategies to confront the republicans then in the house who were dealing with impeachment. there is talk of doing the same in the trump white house, talk of bringing in for the first time into the white house corwin lewandowski who understands the dna of the president probably better than anybody else, as we witnessed when he was on capitol hill last week. it is not a done deal. he has not talked to the president, but there are signs that there are people in the white house who would welcome that, which would be a big shift. because he was never in the white house because that was not thought to be good. he also would quickly want to bring in david bosse who you
remember from the '90s who was an early trump supporter because he helped to lead impeachment from the republican side of the house. >> would he make a run for the senate? >> how do you do that if you have lawyers in the white house who were complaining about the president and set up this separate file? so if the white house is doing its damage control, isn't the president, knowing donald trump, going to say, who are these people? >> the whistleblower complaint, read it. it's unproven allegation. but backed up credibly by the release of the memo of the ukraine call. so to the lawyers, if you're introducing, as the judge would say, the witness at least has threshold credibility, let's hear more. and that's why the democrats would go ahead with the investigation. the president just trashes
everybody, doesn't address the substance. the white house committee says there is nothing new to rehash here, it's just partisan. if this is false, why don't we have current situations from the chief of staff, or even former chief of staff john kelly just left, security adviser john bolton, why can't you get these people to make statements saying, doesn't happen, we didn't see this. put statements out saying, i'm willing to testify to congress. it's all right here. answer it. >> but john, the central allegation of the complaint is undisputed. the central allegation of the complaint is that the president used his authority in a conversation with a foreign head of state to get political dirt on his political opponents and conduct other investigation relating to conspiracy theories about the 2016 election. that is undisputed. the president has admitted it. it is in the text of the summary of the phone call that has been released. we can now read it. we see it.
they're not claiming it's not true. the white house released it. what the president is saying is that it's okay to do. and that's the fundamental issue. >> the admission from this president took place over the course of about a week. he called this fake news, and then over the weekend kind of admitted it and started defending it, frankly. that's where we are today and that's the thing. you talk about transparency and maybe debates inside the white house about whether it's transparent or not. the details themselves are damning, and the contents of the call to republicans. you had one senate congressman say, this is not okay. >> let's hear that. that's mike turner who is normally a defender of the president who was beating up on the democrats for putting impeachment on the table so early, by questioning the integrity of the acting director of national intelligence, but to jim's point, he said this. >> now, i've read the complaint and i've read the transcript of the conversation with the president and the president of the ukraine. concerning that conversation, i
want to say to the president, this is not okay. that conversation is not okay. and i think it's disappointing to the american public when they read the transcript. >> so here's the question. there are a lot of factual questions. the investigations will continue. the intelligence committee, other committees, are doing other work. then there's the political question. right now you would say there are crumbs if you're asking how many republicans have raised concerns about this. mitt romney in the senate, ben sasse in the senate, mike turner saying it's not okay. that's the biggest dynamic to watch as republicans learn more about this and as they see the white house responds to this. will we see or have we seen any evidence that the president is concerned abothat the specifics the alleged misconduct is changing the senate? >> i'm watching mitch mcconnell. he got the whistleblower report, which we evehave, and he hasn't
said anything. mcconnell is a big supporter of the president, i believe, reluctantly so, so let's see what mitch mcconnell does in the senate, if anything. i don't expect any kind of groundswell from republicans, do you? >> no, and if you look at the raw numbers in the house, the democrats don't need it. at this point it looks like they have enough votes, obviously the inquiry hasn't happened, to go forward. it would be beneficial to the country if it would be bipartisan. the question is if it would ever get any further than that. >> will it get further than that even based on the substance, and i'll refer to the calendar. you have a susan clollins, you have a cory gardner. the question is do any of these other senators say, i'm not saying it's an impeachable offense, i'm not even saying it's true, we need to get the answers. will that happen? >> the chairman of the senate
intelligence committee has been publicly quiet, but he and the vice chair have been linked together in terms of working behind the scenes to be able to get this complaint. >> one would hope if they read this, they at least call the white house and say, i'll give you a day or two to answer it. otherwise we may have to answer it. thank you for joining "inside politics." brianna keilar picks it up right now. >> thank you, john. we have what is now a formal inquiry into president donald j. trump. first, the whistleblower complaint that triggered this inquiry, the one that centered around that july 25th phone call between president trump and the president of ukraine is now public. and then second, the official who originally withheld the complaint from congress despite being required to, by law, turn it over to acting director of national intelligence, joseph mcguire.