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tv   Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer  CNN  September 26, 2019 2:00pm-3:00pm PDT

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at the end of the day, she needs 218 votes if they decide to impeach the president. jake? >> our coverage on cnn continues right now. i'll be back at 11:00 p.m. with anderson cooper. stay with us. happening now, breaking news, alleging a cover-up the whistleblower complaint against president trump goes public, alleging not only did he try to get dert on joe biden from the ukraine but that the white house tried to cover it up by hiding the phone all in a top secret computer system. >> play ball. the whistleblower says president trump appeared to withhold aid to ukraine, block vice president pence from visiting and that he wouldn't play ball until he gave into his threats.
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the ukraine call, president trump referring to those who leaked it to the whistleblower as spies. director of national intelligence saying he can't discuss his conversations with the president. i'm wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room." following breaking news, truly explosive release of the whistleblower report, alleging president trump not only abused the power of his office by seeking help from a foreign government to interfere in the 2020 election, but also that the white house tried to cover it up, acting director of national intelligence joseph maguire was sharply questioned by democrats of the house intelligence committee about why he waited weeks to share the complaint with congress as required by law. and president trump has been railing against the complaint, demanding to know who the
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whistleblower sources were, comparing them to spies and alluding to execution as a punishment for what he called treason. we'll talk about the breaking news with the lawmaker driving the house investigation of all of this, the chairman of the intelligence committee adam schiff. correspondents and analysts are also standing by. first, the details of the newly released whistleblower complaint. justice correspondent jessica schneider is digging into all of that for us. jessica, some very, very serious allegations against the president and the white house. >> absolutely, wolf. now that the whistleblower complaint is in full view, we're not only learning more about the president's july 25th phone call with the ukrainian president, but we're also getting an in-depth look into allegations that white house officials locked down all records of the phone call and placed the transcript into a system typically used for just highly sensitive materials. tonight, allegations of a white house cover-up as details of a
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whistleblower's complaint are reve revealed. >> thank you very much. >> reporter: among the key allegations, not only did president trump seek ukraine's help in interference in his 2020 re-election campaign but the white house subsequently took steps to keep it quiet. the seven-page now declassified complaint says after the president's july 25th phone call with ukrainian president zelensky in which trump pressed the ukrainian leader to investigate biden and his son, the whistleblower learned from multiple u.s. officials that senior white house officials had intervened to lock down all records of the phone call. white house officials told me they were directed by white house lawyers to remove the electronic transcript from the computer system in which such transcripts are typically stored for coordination, finalization and distribution to cabinet-level officials. instead, the transcript was loaded into a separate electronic system that is otherwise used to store and handle classified information of an especially sensitive nature. the whistleblower saying that
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move underscores today that white house officials understood the gravity of what had transpired on the call because of their belief that they had witnessed the president abuse his office for personal gain. and the whistleblower also disclosing officials said this is not the first time that a presidential transcript was placed into a separate electronic system. >> i think the whistleblower did the right thing. i think he followed the law every step of the way. >> reporter: tonight the acting director of national intelligence under fire for not sharing the august 12th complaint with congress within seven days, a move democrats say was mandated by law. m a. guire, who called the situation unprecedented, consulted with the white house counsel and justice department first, concerned mr. trump's call with the ukrainian president was privileged. >> bill barr, a man himself was implicated in the complaint and believes he serves for the interest of the president not the office itself.
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>> we consulted with white house counsel's office and were advised much of the information in the complaint was, in fact, subject to executive privilege. a privilege that i do not have the authority to waive. >> reporter: republicans lashed out at democrats who questioned maguire's integrity. >> they've accused you of breaking the law. >> i'm not political. i'm not partisan. >> reporter: republicans are trying to question the credibility of the whistleblower. >> on page one the complaint reads, quote, i was not a direct witness to most of the events described. this seems like a very important line to look into. >> reporter: maguire explained he does not know the identity of the whistleblower and no one within the white house or the justice department have asked him to disclose the identity. >> did the president of the united states ask you to find out the identity of the whistleblower? >> i can tell you emphatically, no. >> reporter: but one republican did call out the president for his phone call with ukraine's president. >> i want to say to the
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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. >> reporter: meanwhile, there are growing questions about how the justice department led, of course, by attorney general bill barr, who was mentioned in that july 25th phone call, how the doj handled the whistleblower's complaint and, of course, the doj's decision not to open a full-blown criminal investigation into potential campaign finance violations. wolf? >> very significant developments, indeed. jessica schneider, thanks for that report. more on the breaking news right now. chief white house correspondent jim acosta is joining us. jim, the president is clearly furious about all of this. >> he certainly is, wolf. president trump is raging out after the release of the whistleblower complaint and expanding ukraine investigation, suggesting at a private breakfast that the person who told the whistleblower what mr. trump was up to amounted to a spy who should be punished, quote, like in the old days.
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a source close to the president told me he appears to be lacking in folk sbus more distracted as he becomes more consumed by the whistleblower complaint. up against a mounting crisis for his administration, president trump is throwing punches in almost every direction, taking aim at democrats running the whistleblower hearing up on capitol hill. >> just watched a little bit of this on television. it's a disgrace to our country. it's another witch hunt. here we go again. and i have to put up with adam schiff on an absolutely perfect phone call. >> reporter: the president is also sounding like he wants vengeance, lashing out at a private breakfast, demanding to know who tipped off the whistleblower, saying that president trump asked for president zelensky's help in the 2020 election. >> who gave the whistleblower the information? that's close to a spy. do you know what we used to do in the old days when we were
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smart with spies and treason? we used to handle it a little derchly than we do now. >> president trump has been described as less focused, not really coming to grips with what's happening. adam schiff brushed off the attacks. >> i'm always flattered when i'm attacked by one of the president's character. thank you. >> reporter: the complaint is damning, not just for the president but potentially for white house aides. not only did the whistleblower say mr. trump's actions posed risks to u.s. national security and undermined the u.s. governments to interfere in foreign elections, white house aides were worried they were being asked to cover mr. trump's acts, quote, there's already a discussion ongoing with white
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house lawyers about how to treat the call, with witnesses retelling that they witnessed the president abuse his office for personal gain. >> this is a cover-up. this is a cover-up. >> rudy giuliani, who chams that the state department was fully aware of his work in the ukraine on behalf of president trump. >> i never talked to a ukraine official until the state department called and asked me to do it. i reported every conversation back to them. i'm a pretty good lawyer, just a country lawyer, but it's all here, right here. >> reporter: he shared what he said were attacks from a top state department official, as discussed, connecting you here, close to president zelensky. as discussed, connecting you
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here with andrey yermark. i suggest we schedule a call together. >> certainly has as this new government has come into office. >> reporter: white house press secretary rather than answer questions about the scandal and a briefing instead released a statement saying nothing has changed with the release of this complaint, which is nothing more than a collection of third-hand accounts, events and coupled together with press clippings but the president is innocent and did nothing wrong here. even republicans are wondering why the white house would have covered up the president's alcohols. one conceded to me, wolf shall this matter warrants an investigation. wolf? >> allegations against president trump are very serious. among them, the whistleblower alleges the president asked ukrai ukraine's president to investigate political rival joe biden on a phone call and that the white house lawyers ordered the rough transcript of that call to be hidden because it showed, i'm quoting now "bous of office by mr. trump."
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the complaint also says it wasn't the first time rough call transcripts have been hidden because they showed politically sensitive information. the whistleblower goes on to say that ukrainian officials s wer led to believe trump wouldn't talk to them unless they were, quote, willing to play ball. and that he canceled vice president's trip to ukraine as an attempt to show pressure. rudy giuliani is a central figure who, quote, circumvented national security decision-making processes while the president when would military funding to ukraine. let's get insight from our national security experts. susan hennessy, what stands out most to you? it was a very dramatic three-hour appearance before the committee. >> the most significant pieces, the whistleblower complaint does appear to comport with this transcript, which is a reason to
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believe the other allegations in this complaint, right? there's a lot of credibility here. look, this shows pretty astonishing abuse of office. we're also showing that not only is the president targeting his political opponents but that the ukrainian government understood what was going on. they were sort of the targets of the extortion. they understood they were supposed to be playing ball. the involvement of rudy giuliani is another very significant sign that the president is not going through order process, not pursuing the interests of the united states of america, pursuing his own interests, using his own personal attorney over the foreign policy apparatus to the detriment of national security. remember the thing that started this all off was adam schiff saying hey, there's some kind of sign here that the rules aren't being followed. more allegations of the abuse of this classification system, the storage of documents. that might be another indication
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that there's even more wrongdoing going on underneath that rule breaking. >> among those allegations that have been leveled, what stands out most to you? >> first you have to look at the overall allegation. any time you have the president of the united states making an agreement or entering into some sort of deal with a secret deal with a foreign government, foreign leader, let's assume for a second that everything went forward as the president planned and there was an investigation opened and the money was transferred and we never found out about it. in that scenario, you still created a situation in which now you have a foreign leader, foreign government that has leverage over the united states of america. at some point in the future we could have a situation involving a national security matter and the president of ukraine could say we need you to do this and you ought to do it because we know what happened here. from a national security perspective, some people don't understand why it is. it's because of that issue. there's also the issue about this system. look, there's a reason that we
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have super secret classified systems where we keep the most sensitive information. for someone to misuse that system by putting information there that is not sensitive or related to a national security issue but is information that's politically embarrassing for the president, that is a misuse of this system. that also represents a national security threat. >> big picture, gloria. how damning is this whistleblower complaint? >> i think it's very, very damning. i think it opens a pan dora's box. going to the credibility of the whistleblower. the whistleblower's complaint mirrors, you know, what we learned in the summary of the telephone conversation. the whistleblower was pretty accurate about that, as susan was saying. this opens a whole host of questions. were these lawyers in the white house who directed people to put these files in the file 13 or the vault or whatever you want to call it, was there a consciousness of guilt there? did they know? and were they trying to cover up
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or protect the president in this situation? what were the other phone calls that they also were hiding? who was the president speaking to? and what was he saying to other leaders that he should not have been saying? what did mike pence know? when the president canceled the vice president's trip to ukraine and set the energy secretary instead, did he tell the vice president why he was doing that? what was his level of knowledge about what the president wanted from ukraine? i mean, these are lots of questions and more questions will spiral as a result of all of this because i'm sure the committee will be -- you know, they've been given a road map and i think they'll follow it. >> very important. kaitlyn as gloria points out, the president, according to the whistleblower's complaint, current vice president, mike pence, rudy giuliani, white house lawyers, a whole bunch of
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others into this scheme. >> that's the question. if the president was directing these lawyers to store these on a different server or tell other staffers to do that. the president this week has been maintaining there's nothing wrong with the transcript of this call and that's with why he authorized the release of it. thinking he would get democrats calling for impeachment off his back. what was the process and how was this done? the president has long been hesitant about how many people are on his calls with foreign leaders or have access to it. remember when he was first in office and two transcripts of a call with australia and another world leader both came out and were published and they weren't flattering to the president because they showed certain statements he was making to those leaders that typically have not happened in these past presidencies. that's certainly been a concern in the white house. everyone knows that the president is sensitive about what he says to foreign leaders leaking out and that's clearly led us to the position we're in now. >> jeffrey toobin, go through this list of allegations we just reported on. where is the legal liability,
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potentially? not just for the president but for others who are mentioned in all of this. >> i think there are a lot of subsidiary questions and one big question. and the big question is, did the president abuse his office? did the president violate his oath of office in terms of foreign policy, in terms of national security, to get dirt on his political opponent? was that his goal in his interactions with ukraine? and instead of doing the nation's business. all the other questions flow from that. and that, i think, is not a criminal matter but it is certainly an appropriate question for an impeachment matter. i don't know if he's guilty of that. but that is the core question here. now, as you expand outward from that, you get to the classic washington question of a cover-up. were there people who were violating some law by trying to
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cover up what went on here? one question, was there inappropriate use of classified information, were people misfiling classified information not for national security reasons but for political reasons? to tell you the truth, i don't think there are a lot of criminal liabilities for anyone here, but i think there is a huge question of abuse of office and an impeachment question for the president himself. >> that's an important point, bianna. according to the whistleblower, this wasn't necessarily the first time the white house had locked away sensitive politically, potentially politically damaging information in what's supposed to be a top secret vault that's reserved for only the most sensitive classified national security secrets. what red flags does that suggest? >> well, it suggests that it happened more than once and
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suggests others were well aware of it. and this whistleblower account and the one we read today, there were 12 people in the room during the call with zelensky, who were aware of what the president had said and the question that gloria raised, how many other conversations with world leaders have been put in the, quote, lockdown vessel as well? and set aside in these circumstances? it does raise the national security concern. and i think it goes back to continuity and how unstable this administration has been. maguire is a career civil servant, a patriot. no doubt about that. look what he walked into. this is the downside of having constantly acting heads, specifically the dni. situations and questions he wasn't able to answer. not because it wasn't classified information but he wasn't aware. he didn't know rudy giuliani was sent over to speak with ukrainians for certain instances. he didn't know if he had
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classified clearance as well. others were better suited for the job. of course, he did his duty to step up. what happened if sue gordon had this position, if dan coats had this position? what else stood out to me is looking at the pressure. not just put on by getting dirt on biden, those put on zelensky but, quote, working things out with putin. 13,000 deaths subsequent to russia invading ukraine. saying they should work things out and perhaps zelensky could get a white house invitation. yesterday he sort of joked about that and said we don't have a date yet. so, you see the extra pressure put on this very vulnerable country. the final thing i will say is bill barr and his role in all of
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this. if you go back to the mueller investigation when the report came out, bill barr himself came out and editorialized why he believed that the president, quote, could have at least looked like he obstructed justice and that was because he was in an unprecedented situation, entering office and thought this would impact his presidency with an investigation like this. okay, maybe he gave him the benefit of the doubt there. what does the president do the day after mueller's testimony? he picks up the phone and has this conversation with zelensky. that excuse can't fly twice now. i would be very curious to hear what bill barr has to say about this. >> all of us are curious about that. chris cillizza, what stands out to you from the alleged misconduct, this list we've been reporting? >> first, to susan's point, i would be wary if i was a republican senator today after seeing how closely the whistleblower's description of that call between zelensky and trump gets to -- how close it
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is -- >> your microphone is not on. i'm going to make sure your viewers can hear you. there it is. go ahead. putting on the microphone. >> i thought i was loud enough that you could hear me without it. >> i want to make sure all of our viewers are hearing every word you're saying. >> two things, and i'll do it very quickly. three things. always put your microphone on. two, it would worry me to susan's point. if i was a republican senator, it would very much worry me today if i saw how closely the whistleblower's description of that call between zelensky and trump comported with the transcript of that call. to jeffrey's point, cover-up, cover-up, cover-up. if there's evidence that that transcript that should have been placed in bin a was placed in
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bin b for reasons because someone in the white house or someones in the white house were concerned it potentially put the president in a situation where it looked like he was abusing his office, we should be able to track that this is it should have gone in a and it's in b. that is something we should find out and that strikes me as concerning. i don't know how you read that transcript and read the whistleblower's complaint and conclude because donald trump didn't say if you do x, i will give you y, that he is somehow fully exonerated and this is all a witch hunt as people like lindsey graham has said. common sense dictates that's not accurat accurate. >> congressman adam schiff joins me. i know it's been a crazy, hekt being day for you.
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thank you so much for joining us. >> my pleasure. >> the whistleblower's complaint lays out a long list of misconduct by the president and white house staff. which specific allegations are the most troubling to you? >> his concern or her concern, that phone call is the centerpiece. we need to know what took place before that call, what took place after that call. what were the circumstances in which the president -- which is still a mystery, what explanation the president gave at the time for withholding vital military assistance to ukraine. the whole constellation of issues around that are the center point of the complaint. bill barr may have a role in
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that. other main allegation that comes out of this complaint is that of a cover-up as you mention ed wh was it put in a file that was independent for the highest classification of covert action and what else might be in that file? >> he suggests that's not necessarily the first time. do you have any reason to believe there are other instances when the white house lawyers or whoever did that? >> we certainly know that at other times, the president has been deeply concerned about whether there has been a record of this conversation. what comes most to mind is
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conversation with putin. you can imagine what might have happened to any complete conversation between the president and putin. the short answer is that we don't know. this president has a history particularly when it involves vladimir putin as indeed denial against putin's russia involve that he is very secretive about his conversations and so we're determined to employ every tool we have to find out. >> several named and other unnamed people inside the truch administration were involved in or witnesses. are you planning to subpoena them as well? >> i'm hoping that these witnesses will choose to cooperate, volunteer but i have to say i am deeply worried now
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that the president on the eve of our hearing or during our hearing was threatening these witnesses. i don't know how else to interpret the president of the united states saying that these individuals, you know, we have a way of dealing with them. that's how we dealt with traitors and spies. we used to execute traitors and spies. so i think it's clear what the president is trying to do. he is trying to deter people. >> what's your message to these potential witnesses who clearly are concerned, i'm sure? >> look, if the president of the united states can trade away the power of his office or use the power of his office to trade away national security interests for the reason that he wants help in his political campaign,
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that's about as fundamental a betrayal of his oath of office as one might imagine. if there are people who witness that conduct who are knowledgeable of the facts of that conduct, i would hope they would muster the same courage that this whistleblower displayed and come forward because our democracy depends on it. >> the president's personal attorney, rudy giuliani is clearly at the center of this complaint. will you call rudy giuliani to appear before your committee? >> i don't want to get into specific witnesses at this poibt. mr. giuliani is clearly at the center of a lot of this. it appears to me, from reading the transcript, that the ukraine president had a pretty good idea of what might happen on this call. and so why that's the case and how that was communicated to him, we need to find out.
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i wouldn't be a bit surprised if rudy giuliani is part that have answer. >> what's your timeline for getting this witnesses to mov come before your committee? >> we're going to move as expeditiously as possible. we're concentrated of this constellation of issues because it represents the most danger to our national security. we're going to move quickly. i have no doubt that the administration will continue to try to get in our way and did so in a fundamental way by implicitly threatening these witnesses. we'll move forward expeditiously and feel a sense of urgency here. one thing notable to me about the hearing here is the director took no issue with the urgency here, took no issue with the credibility of the witness here. indeed, as you were discussing earlier, it was remarkable so many of my gop colleagues were saying this whistleblower wasn't even a party to the call. that makes it all the more
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credible, because the whistleblower's all the more right. and if the whistleblower's allegations as to other misconduct, other evidence of misconduct by the president are born out as well as this record of call bears out his information on what was exchanged between the president of the united states and the president of ukraine, then it says that these other allegations are equally serious and subject to proof. >> when do you hope the whistleblower will come to your committee? >> as soon as possible. i was very pleased that the director gave his personal assurance that that whistleblower would not only be protected, but when that whistleblower comes before our committee and all that is remaining is to get the security clearances for his or her counsel, that when that whistleblower comes before our committee, there won't be any department of justice minder, no
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white house minder, no one to sit next to that whistleblower and try to circumscribe, row dakt anything that whistleblower has to say as it pertains to misconduct of the president or anyone around him. >> i assume he will appear behind closed doors. are you concerned, chairman, about the possibility that the whistleblower's identity could be revealed? >> i'm deeply concerned about it. i'm deeply concerned about it. and obviously we're going to do everything we can to take whatever steps are necessary to protect the whistleblower's identity. given those real repugnant threats coming from the president, i have a real concern about this. we're going to have to obviously deal with this in a way we don't with most witnesses, where security is not such a vital issue. >> we heard today, by the way, that the speaker is really, in
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terms of the current impeachment inquiry process, you're in charge now for all practical purposes. explain what's going on. >> that may be an overstatement of the matter. as far as this constellation of issues, those around the president's misconduct, vis-a-vis ukraine, to badger another leader to provide dirt on his opponent, locust will be the intelligence committee where this whistleblower has brought forward this evidence. i also think it's the case that of all the misconduct of this president, this is the most serious. it goes so to the heart of his office and heart of his commitment or lack thereof to defend the constitution and jeopardize our national security. this is why so many veterans serving in the congress have come forward to denounce the president's conduct and demand
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full investigation and impeachment inquiry. i think we understand the centrality of this issue and giving it such priority. >> you're being criticized for mocking the president during your opening remarks at the committee. was it a mistake to make light of the situation? >> qulo thiching iti don't thin light of the situation. i certainly wouldn't want to suggest there's anything comical about this but i think it's all too accurate that the president and his conversations with the president of ukraine was speaking like an organized crime boss. and the fact that these words were so precise that the president used that are so like organized crime harken back to
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when jim comey testified about when the president asked if he could let this matter go, and when cohen testified and said he speaks in code that you know exactly what's happening here. the president was using that language and the president of ukraine fully understood what he was talking about. >> do you regret the parody, use of those phrases during your opening statement? >> no. i think everyone understood. my gop colleagues may fein otherwise, when i suggested it was as if the president said listen carefully because i'm only going to tell you seven more times that i was mocking the president's conduct, but make no mistake about this. what the president did is of the utmost gravity and seriousness because it involves such a fundamental betrayal of his oath. >> i appreciate the time you
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spent with us. getting back to rudy giuliani, the pez's personal lawyer in all of this, do you think potentially he's criminally liable for some of his actions? >> well, look, if mr. giuliani was involved in a scheme to c coerce a foreign government into giving dirt, manufacturing dirt on president trump's political opponent, then yes. do i have any confidence, hope, whatnot, that the justice department would be willing to investigate? no, they made it clear they're not going to investigate this and they don't want anyone else to. the fact that they would so cavalierly dismiss this credible evidence and say it is not even worthy of us looking into is yet another affirmation that attorney general bill barr believes that he exists to serve the will and interest of the president, not the presidency,
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and that's exactly what he's doing. >> adam schiff, thank you so much for joining us. >> thank you. >> let's continue the analysis of what we heard, very forceful shall has a game plan, road map, working and the speaker has given him the authority to go ahead and push. >> right. what he did say to you is that he's very worried about getting some of these people to testify because the president, as he said, has been threatening these witnesses. we heard what the president said today. it's clear there's going to be some blood letting somewhere, whether it's in the white house or somewhere in the national security realm. but, you know, when you have a president out there, calling these people treasonous, he said look, you know, this is going to be very difficult for us. he was also quite tough on barr, the attorney general, who put out a statement, saying he knew nothing about any of this. but the president of the united states seemed to feel fine
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saying to the president of ukraine, i'll have my guys, rudy giuliani and bill barr, deal with this. he said that never happened but i'm sure they'll want to investigate. >> this is a really important point. we saw that transcript. we saw the president of the united states hold iing out bil barr as a lackey for him. those are the president's own words in the transcript he himself released. it's astonishing to not see the attorney general anything to push back on that representation. in an ordinary administration with an attorney general with an ounce of personal integrity, we would see him offering his resignation. i'm sorry that the president had this perception of me and is holding me out in this role to foreign government. obviously i cannot continue to serve in an administration for a president who views me as his personal attack dog. >> and not recused himself on any of this. >> no whistleblower should have
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to fear for his or her safety. can you imagine being these people who spoke to this person now and hearing the president say what he said? i think there's an argument for a preemptive witness tampering. as you know, when the ig gets his complaint, he has 14 days to make sure it's credible. if the whistleblower comes forward, who did you talk to? who said this? there's a question whether or not those people would be willing to come forward and say i was one of the people who said that. >> because in his complaint, he begins by saying in the course of my official duties, 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. elections. jeffrey toobin, let me play the clip of how the president responded today when he was meeting with u.s. officials who work at the u.n. in describing
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these officials who may have given some information to the whistleblowe whistleblower. >> who is the person who gave the whistleblower the information? that's close to a spy. do you know what we used to do in the old days? we used to handle them a little differently than we do now. >> let's get your thought. >> it's so toxic at so many levels. what seems likely reading the whistleblower's complaint is that the people in the white house had a business every day relationship with the whistleblower. there was nothing inappropriate. it's not like there was any sort of spying going on. this was the whistleblower seeing white house employees in the course of their day-to-day responsibilities and seeing how the white house employees were concerned about the corruption of the foreign policy process.
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it wasn't like they were spies. and the whole point of whistleblower complaints has been to offer these people protection, not to threaten them with death, the way the president of the united states did. i mean this is such a perversion of the whole whistleblower system that it is almost astonishing. >> it truly is. bianna, the acting director of national intelligence says to maguire, it went on for three hours and he praised the whistleblower for the way he conducted himself during the course of this entire issue. >> and he said he would do everything he could to protect the whistleblower as with well. obviously, you ju xchl tapose that from what you hear from the president and see how frightening the situation could be for any potential other whistleblowers. as we know over a dozen people were there in the room as the
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whistleblower noted, who were there for that conversation. the whistleblower also states that there were others that had told the whistleblower directly that they found that the president's behavior alarming, too. they may not be coming forward, knowing and anticipating how the president would be reacting. also, i think from a public perspective and how this would look for americans as opposed to the russia investigation and the mueller investigation, which became very convoluted and a lot of it took place prior to the president even being in office. this is a president who has run on and said every day he's looking out for america's best interest. you look through this transcript. there was nothing that served the american public in this conversation. it was all about getting dirt on joe biden so that it could help his re-election campaign for 2020. once again, putting pressure on president zelensky, a country that we are in the process of helping, a country that is trying to westernize and get rid of past corruption. there's no mention of vladimir putin here.
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one has to question previous conversations that the president has had without note takers many times with president putin as to what this president's agenda is with our ukraine policy going forward. the president keeps saying you have to work things out and & notwithstanding that there's still not a specific date to invite president zelensky to the white house. that would have sent a clear message to vladimir putin, had he seen zelensky at the white house. we've not seen this take place and once again this does benefit vladimir putin. >> everybody stand by. a lot more on all the breaking news today right after this. if you have moderate to severe psoriasis
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>> breaking news this hour, release of the whistleblower fueling calls for impeachment while most republicans are defending president trump. sunlen serfaty is covering that for us. what are you hearing? >> reporter: nancy pelosi essentially laying out the next
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phase of this impeachment inquiry in the wake of this whistleblower complaint. she said today that it's very clear that this whistleblower complaint is going to be the new focus of the impeachment inquiry going forward and that it will be led primarily by the house intelligence committee, the six other committees will continue doing their investigations of president trump but this whistleblower complaint is the new focus. >> the inquiry and consensus in our caucus is that our focus now is on this allegation now that we're seeing the evidence of it, the actions taken by this president. this is a whole new terrain, a whole level of concern about his lawlessness. so the timing will relate to the committee. >> that was pelosi responding to my question when i asked her if all of this, these new allegations in this complaint, does it expedite a timeline for drawing up formal articles of
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impeachment. she's not given a deadline to her committees. that might not satisfy many democrats on capitol hill, pushing to not lose momentum on this, potentially having a vote on articles of impeachment this fall. of? >> let's get back to our analyst, chris cillizza. the new information we're getting on ukraine and all of this, if there say formal vote in the house of representatives to impeach, not to start an investigation, but to formally impooch the president of the united states, tl do you think there will be a majority, 218 members? >> i do, wolf. i wouldn't have said that candidly. i said on air one of the reasons they haven't brought it up in the past is there wasn't a majority. you had a lot of democrats representing districts, donald trump being one, 2016, who were still wary of this and said look at the public polling on impeachment, suggesting a large mantle, 55, 60% of people don't
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think donald trump should be impeached. those are the same polls that have donald trump's approval rating at 40%. they were not favorable groups of donald trump. they just didn't think he would be polling move. it may not stay where it moves to. but given the fact that, again, just go and read the rough transcript of the conversation between the ukrainian president and donald trump or the whistle-blower complaint or both. i just do not see how you can read those things and say, this seems above board, there was no pressure here, there was no reminder that the u.s. does a lot. my guess is you will see polling move more in favor of impeachment. >> it's a very disturbing development. you've covered the white house for us, they must be very nervous right now, beginning with the president. >> it's interesting to see how
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their mood has changed over the last few days. at the beginning of the week, the president was headed to new york for the united nations summit, officials were dismissing it, saying this is just some partisan person who wants to get donald trump out of office, and not thinking too much about it because they're saying they're just trying to redo the mueller investigation. things have changed. there is a sense of anxiety among the president's allies. >> the question for me is what's going to happen among the republicans, where are the cracks going to appear, if they do appear. >> there have been some tiny cracks. >> we saw mitt romney come out, we saw ben sasse who has been positive to the president lately, he's up for reelection, saying republicans shouldn't be circling the wagons so early. we see john thune saying, i
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don't like what i read. there has to be a mitch mcconnell who says this will not stand. we have not seen that. so far they're running and ducking. >> i was just going to add, mike turner of ohio today said, very troubling, potentially. the republican governor of vermont said impeachment proceedings should -- but again, those people, mitch mcconnell is not marking down and saying, oh, the governor of vermont. to gloria's point, it has to be a high profile critic, someone who has been with trump who says, i cannot in good conscience look at the body of evidence that is indisputable, including the transcript, and say this is okay for president, regardless of party. given the allegiance we've seen to donald trump from the republican party since he became a nominee, it would be a huge thing and a big mountain. i don't see anybody ready to take that on just yet.
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>> even the nature of the defense we've seen from republicans, republicans are not coming out to actually defend the president's conduct here. even people who are inclined to be -- they're lobbing criticism at the democrats, they're saying i hadn't read it, this only 8 1/2 page document, they're claiming they haven't read it. even mitch mcconnell said he thought it was laughable that this was impeachable. the white house is putting out these talking points and trying to get ahead of this story, saying no, nothing the president did was wrong, we aren't seeing republicans willing to take that step for the president. >> because they don't know what else is going to come out. >> jeffrey toobin. >> i just want to make a plea for patience. the whole coverup story may turn out to be nothing. it may turn out to be a big white house conspiracy.
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the facts are going to look different by the time this investigation is over. i think predicting the outcome now is probably a little unwise. >> who would do that? >> everybody stick around, breaking news continues next. we'll have more on the explosive release of the whistle-blower complaint. it's a competition for the talent. employees need more than just a paycheck. you definitely want to take advantage of all the benefits you can get. 2/3 of employees said that the workplace is an important source for personal savings and protection solutions. the workplace should be a source of financial security. keeping your people happy is what keeps your people. that's financial wellness. put your employees on a path to financial wellness with prudential. (door bell rings) it's ohey. this is amazing. with moderate to severe ulcerative colitis, are you okay? even when i was there, i never knew when my symptoms
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happening now, breaking news. abuse of office. that's just one of the bombshell accusations in the whistle-blower complaint. white house officials are accused of covering up. lockdown. the complaint claims details of the phone call with buried in a super secret computer system that allegedly wasn't the first time mr. trump's foreign contacts were hidden to protect him politically. spies and trees ason. president trump is lashing out, saying the sources deserve the
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death penalty. and the president demands his party stick together. will there be more cracks in the gop as democrats weigh impeachment? we want to welcome our viewers in the united states and around the world. i'm wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room." >> announcer: this is cnn breaking news. we're following breaking news on the explosive whistle-blower complaint alleging not only an abuse of power by the president but a coverup within the white house. it reveals new details on allegations that mr. trump pressured ukraine to interfere in the 2020 election by pushing for investigation of joe biden and it claims white house lawyers were so worried about mr. trump's phone call with ukraine's president that they directed the transcript be put in lockdown, hiding it in a highly classified computer system. tonight president trump


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