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Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) Interviewed on Possibility of Whistleblower Who Filed Complaint against President Trump Testifying Before House Intelligence Committee; Rudy Giuliani States Transcript of Call between President Trump and Ukrainian President has been Read to Him; Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) is Interviewed About Trump Impeachment Inquiry. Aired 8-8:30a ET

Aired September 25, 2019 - 08:00   ET



ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: -- for that addendum at the end of all of this. Tony Schwartz, nice to see you.

Adam Schiff, the chair of the House Intelligence Committee, joins us live on NEW DAY as we continue right now.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, and welcome to your NEW DAY. It is Wednesday, September 25th, it is 8:00 in the east. This morning, the president is the subject of an impeachment inquiry. This is just the fourth time this has happened in U.S. history. And we've got brand-new reporting on how the president feels about it.

Jim Acosta reports the president, he doesn't want this. He doesn't like the idea of being impeached. Sources tell Kaitlan Collins the president spoke to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to try to cool things down before she even announced the impeachment inquiry. So that gets to his state of mind.

There are developments we are waiting on at this moment, just how important remains to be seen. Remember, this all centers around accusations that the president and his personal attorney pressured a foreign country to investigate a political opponent, Joe Biden. Some of which both men, the president and Giuliani, have admitted to. In a matter of hours, the president claims we will see a transcript of his call with the president of Ukraine. Will we get the transcript? How much of it? Through what filter? That remains to be seen.

Two sources also tell CNN the White House plans to turn over the whistleblower complaint against the president to Congress as early as today, but that, too, is in the White House hands right now, so what filter will that go through? House Intelligence Chair Adam Schiff confirms the whistleblower has personally asked to speak to Congress directly, and Chairman Schiff is standing by to speak with us in just a moment.

CAMEROTA: There's also new reporting about the role Rudy Giuliani played in the scandal. "The Washington Post" writes "the person who appears to have been more directly involved at nearly every stage of the entanglement with Ukraine is Giuliani. "Rudy, he did all of this," one U.S. official said. This blank-show that we're in, it's him injecting himself into the process." The president's personal attorney admits asking Ukrainian officials to investigate Joe Biden, and then last night Giuliani claimed he was asked to intervene in Ukraine's affairs by the State Department.

BERMAN: All right, joining us now is Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff. He is the chair of the House Intelligence Committee. Mr. Chairman, thank you so much for being with us. Let me start on the news that you reported last night, which is that the whistleblower has reached out to talk to Congress. What is the latest on making that happen?

REP. ADAM SCHIFF, (D-CA): Well, the latest is the whistleblower is seeking the advice of the Director of National Intelligence as to how the whistleblower can do that and still be protected. Because this is the risk all along, the whistleblower could have come to our committee at any time, but it might mean the whistleblower forfeits the protection against losing his or her job, their security clearance, even potential prosecution.

So the director still has not given instructions to that whistleblower. We're told that those instructions could be given at any time. But look, we're a month after this complaint, more than a month after this complaint was filed, a complaint the inspector general found urgent, and the Director of National Intelligence was required weeks ago to inform the whistleblower how they could come directly to Congress. He has not done so.

BERMAN: Is the White House, have you seen any evidence that the White House is involved in controlling whether this testimony happens?

SCHIFF: I don't think there's any question. The White House hasn't made much of a secret of the fact that they're weighing in as to whether the whistleblower can testify and how the whistleblower might testify and as to what the whistleblower might say. That's completely impermissible. The fact that the director reached out outside of his office to solicit illegal opinion from the president's lawyers at Justice or maybe the White House Counsel, they refuse to answer that question. The idea that if this complaint is a complaint about the president, they would go to the president's people to get permission to share it as the statute requires with Congress is a complete breakdown of the whistleblower system. And it also intimidates other whistleblowers from coming forward, to have the president suggesting that they're disloyal to their country.

BERMAN: CNN is reporting that the administration plans to turn over in some capacity the whistleblower complaint itself as early as today. What's your understanding of what's going to happen here?

SCHIFF: Well, assuming they follow through with what apparently they're leaking in terms of their intentions, we'll get the complaint. Now, whether that will be the full complaint or a redacted complaint, we'll have to wait to see. That complaint and the whistleblower's testimony will allow us to identify who are the other witnesses to the misconduct that the whistleblower has reported, what other documentary evidence is there. If this does involve a presidential communication, if this involves at least in part that call between the president and the president of Ukraine, we'll want to know who else is knowledgeable of what was said in that conversation, because the readout that we get from the White House, whatever they release today, may not be the full content of that conversation.


And if there's anything we know from the Mueller investigation, it's that this president will go to extraordinary lengths to obstruct an investigation into his misconduct.

BERMAN: Talk to me more about that. This transcript that the president says will be released today, what are the limits that you see in that?

SCHIFF: Well, first of all, we don't know if it is in fact a transcript, that is someone taking word by word notes, like a stenographer, or whether there was a recording of the conversation that can be transcribed, or whether instead this is one of the president's staff or someone else from the NSC or someone else from the State Department sitting in on the call, and writing only that which would not thoroughly embarrass the president. And there is, as I understand it, a temptation of that notetaker not to include things that the president may get wrong or, in this case, that may reflect the president engaged in misconduct.

So we won't know whether what we get from the White House is the complete story in terms of that conversation. We certainly know we can't rely on the White House to be forthcoming, which is part of the reason why we're going to need to talk to whoever took those notes or did that readout of the call.

BERMAN: So Chairman, I was just told that Rudy Giuliani, the president's personal attorney, who doesn't have any official role in the administration, I was just told, and I hope I'm getting this right, that he just claimed moments ago in an interview that he has been read the transcript. Is that appropriate?

SCHIFF: Absolutely not. And it just compounds the misconduct that's going on and the corruption within this administration. That Giuliani would be interacting with Ukraine, badgering them to provide dirt, to manufacture dirt on the president's political opponent, and the idea that the State Department somehow asked him to do this is patently absurd. And this further idea that either the whistleblower complaint or the transcript of this call is somehow being floated around as the president said with respect to a complaint intended for Congress that we haven't seen, well, everybody has seen it and they're all laughing about it, all of this is evidence of the most egregious misconduct.

BERMAN: I want to have two conversations, if I can, here. First, let's talk about the admitted to or confessed to facts, which is Rudy Giuliani has said that he pressured the Ukrainians -- he said it right here on CNN -- to investigate Joe Biden. And the president of the United States has admitted to having a conversation with the president of Ukraine about Joe Biden. And, separately, the president of the United States has admitted to withholding or putting a block on military funding to Ukraine. Those elements alone admitted to by these two people, one of them the president of the United States, how much should they affect or do they affect your decision on whether to impeach the president? In other words, are they alone enough in your mind?

SCHIFF: Well, there's certainly enough to launch a formal impeachment inquiry, and at the end of the day, they may be enough to impeach the president. But we need to get the full facts first.

And there are other admitted facts that we already know. We already know that even the senior Republican leadership in the Congress, including Mitch McConnell, after multiple conversations with the secretary of defense, or secretary of state, couldn't get an explanation for why the aid was being withheld. We know that the president of the United States now has given conflicting alibis for why he withheld that aid.

So these are uncontested facts. And they're damning enough. What more we will find out when we talk to the whistleblower, what more we'll find out during the course of our investigation I can't say. But certainly the idea that the president of the United States would sacrifice our national security, would sacrifice the security of one of our allies fighting against Russian aggression on their own soil to further his political campaign, is precisely what the founders had in mind when they gave the Congress the power to impeach.

BERMAN: There have those who have asked, well, why didn't you wait for whatever version of this transcript the White House provides to decide whether to launch the impeachment inquiry, why didn't you wait to see the full whistleblower complaint before you decided to do so? Why what's your answer?

SCHIFF: I find the question itself remarkable, that is, why isn't it enough that the president has admitted to pressuring a foreign nation to dig up or manufacture dirt on his opponent? This is the second time the president of the United States has sought foreign help, this time using the power of his office. We don't need a transcript to tell us what the president has already admitted.


We do want the transcript, if there is one, we want the readout, we want to talk to the people who produced the readout, who were on the call, because we want the full facts and we want to bring them to the light of the American people. But we already knew enough from the president's own admissions, from Rudy Giuliani's own admissions, to know that he has violated his oath of office.

BERMAN: You were not supportive of an impeachment inquiry jug based on the information and the findings of the Mueller report and then the hearings after that. You now support it based on these latest developments concerning Ukraine. Do you feel that this could be separate, or can you see yourself voting on just the Ukraine issues as an article of impeachment and not the others? Do you see this as more important? SCHIFF: I do see this as this most serious misconduct of the

president thus far, and that comes after a long history of other very serious misconduct. But it's one thing when a candidate for president is seeking the help of a foreign power, in that case Russia, to intervene in an election and welcomes that help and makes use of that help, as the Mueller report made clear he did. It's even more serious when, as president of the United States, he obstructs the investigation into that misconduct.

But it is yet again another order of magnitude more serious when using the power of his office, withholding vital military assistance to an ally at war with an adversary, and doing so at the same time he's pressuring that ally to manufacture dirt to once again get foreign help in a presidential election. That is the worst of all. And that certainly compelled me to go down this path, and as you say, I have been deeply reluctant to, but I think he's given us no choice.

BERMAN: Chairman Adam Schiff, please keep us posted as to developments throughout the day, because we don't know what we're going to see, if we're going to see it, when we're going to see it, how we're going to get it. We look forward to speaking to you again soon.

SCHIFF: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: Really interesting, John. So much is happening every minute this morning and yesterday.

Joining us now to help us understand all of it is CNN Chief Political Correspondent Dana Bash. So Dana, we have new sound, as John just referenced to Chairman Schiff. Rudy Giuliani, the president's lawyer, is on FOX TV talking about how he was read the transcript of that phone call. So here it is.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Mayor, can I ask you, did you read the transcript?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was read to you, there whole thing?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So in it, there's no pressure --

GIULIANI: In it, in it, in it, Greg Jarrett and Professor Dershowitz and others are quite right when they say if the president hadn't discussed the subjects he discussed with the president of the Ukraine, he'd be a president like Obama.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Mayor, can I ask you, did you read the transcript?


CAMEROTA: Dana, what are we to make of that?

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Oh, my goodness. So this goes to the heart of why the people around the president who thought that this whole strategy, political strategy of going into the Ukraine and trying to work through the Ukraine to hurt Joe Biden was a bad one. It's one that Rudy Giuliani has been talking about and has been doing for months and months and months separate from the president.

The fact that, as Adam Schiff just said, the personal attorney of the president of the United States has been read the transcript of a call between the president and a world leader and has been read that before the person you were just talking to, John, the chairman of the Intelligence Committee or anybody who has oversight, as far as we know constitutionally, has been read it, is stunning.

I shouldn't even use the word "stunning" given where we are right now and what we have seen with this administration and this president completely shattering norms, but it still behooves us to take a moment and take a breath every time we reach a new milestone, and we just reached one. It is pretty incredible that the personal attorney has done so.

And it speaks to, again, as I started, the obvious tension between him and the people who do this for a living, not just the people who do it on a career level, at the State Department, at the National Security Council, but apparently the president's own political appointees.

BERMAN: Look, it gets to what "The Washington Post" reported this morning, which is that Rudy Giuliani is at the center of everything that's happened with Ukraine over the last several months, including more or less supplanting the official diplomatic personnel who are supposed to be handling that, and now he's being read this transcript of the call before, as you say, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.

Do we have that quote we can put on the screen? I don't have it in front of me now, from "The Washington Post," from an official -- we'll wait for that, Dana.



BERMAN: But, again, Giuliani here freelancing or what?

BASH: You know, oh, I want to go for it, yes.

BERMAN: Here it is, here it is. Rudy, he did all of this. This S- show that we're in, it's him injecting himself into the process.

BASH: Yes, and that's the frustration that I was alluding to, that you were as well, that this has been a political strategy from the beginning. Now, just going back, conversations I had with Giuliani during the

summer, the goal that he had politically speaking, maybe he would say legally speaking, was connected to, quote/unquote, collusion.

He was investigating whether or not the Democrats colluded with the Ukrainians about the 2016 election. That's what he was talking about. He said it publicly. There's absolutely no evidence of that at all. But he was trying to put that into the ether.

And that went a step further by him latching on to Joe Biden, somebody who obviously the Trump campaign, the president himself sees as the most potentially harmful opponent that he could have if he becomes the Democratic nominee.

So, that is all the context here of Giuliani really pushing this, and remember, we saw this during the whole Mueller investigation when Giuliani became the president's attorney. The two of them have a 30, 40-year history. They talk all the time.


BASH: And Giuliani has a lot of influence on President Trump. And that is why people like Adam Schiff and everybody else who is looking at this phone call says, OK, well, it's not surprising given the background and the back-story and the conversations that clearly were going on for months, especially in the summer, especially right before the president had that call with the Ukrainian leader that the president could have done exactly what he has admitted he did, what Adam Schiff said regardless of transcripts, regardless of what the complaint said, is inappropriate and is an impeachable offense.

CAMEROTA: All right. Well, now that Giuliani has seen it, I'm sure the rest of us will today. Who knows what it will look like or what form it will take, but the White House has promised to deal with this expeditiously.

BASH: We need seat belts for this roller coaster.

CAMEROTA: And a helmet, OK?


CAMEROTA: I'm going to put that on.

Thanks, Dana. Thanks so much.

BERMAN: All right, what is coming up next for us? I have a sense because he's standing on a staircase here, Senator Cory Booker, Democratic candidate for president, joins us to weigh in on all of this next.


BERMAN: All right. Breaking news, just moments ago, the president's personal attorney, remember, not an administration official, said that he had been read what has been called the transcript of the phone call between President Trump and the president of Ukraine.


This is the call where it has been reported that President Trump requested that the leader of Ukraine look into Joe Biden. Let's listen to what Rudy Giuliani said just moments ago.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Mayor, can I ask you? Did you read the transcript?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was read to you, the whole thing?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, in it, there's no pressure, there's no --

GIULIANI: In it, Gregg Jarrett and professor Dershowitz and others are quite right when they say if the president hadn't discussed the subjects he discussed with the president of the Ukraine, he'd be a president like Obama.


BERMAN: All right. Joining me now to talk about this and much more is 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, Senator Cory Booker. He visited Ukraine as part of the Foreign Relations Committee.

Senator, the president's personal lawyer tells us that he has been read what we're being told is a transcript of this call, where Congress hasn't seen it yet.

SEN. CORY BOOKER (D-NJ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: So the president of the United States -- I mean, this is what should be stunning to everybody. And partisanship should sear away right now to the ugly truth that this president is running the White House like his own personal business. And those of us in New Jersey know how badly he ran his businesses.

And he has used his office at a time that there is a war going on there. As you said, I have visited with not only our U.S. soldiers in the region but actually in the Donbass region, the Ukrainian soldiers are putting their lives on the line and have been relying on the United States, our defensive capabilities, to help them in a hot war going on there.

And for a bipartisan Congress to say, here's the resources to do it, and this president to hold it up in the most thuggish imaginable way, for his own personal end, that is the very definition of corruption.

And so, this is just spiraling, in my opinion, with this announcement today. It was deeply -- it should be deeply offensive to any member of Congress, no matter what party that a private lawyer who's been in the Ukraine, God knows what he's been doing for months and months and months, digging up dirt, trying to conduct the president's personal affairs or political affairs.

This is a sad day for this country, and this scandal as it continues to unfold has tremendous implications for who we are as a democracy.

BERMAN: What are you looking for in what we're being told is a transcript? We don't know what form it will take, how it will be redacted, how it will be filtered before we see it. But what are you looking for in that?

And also, we've been told that the whistleblower complaint itself will be turned over to Congress.

What do you want to see out of this?

BOOKER: Well, I want to see a full, unvarnished truth. I want to see the whole transcript unredacted. I want to see the whole whistleblower's report unredacted.

I think the public should see these reports as long as there's no national security implications. I think that will let us know exactly what happened in a snapshot, because remember, this one intelligence officer doesn't have the entire world they see and nor does that one conversation indicate the fullness of this president's involvement in Ukraine.


BERMAN: In fact, just to be clear, we have been told, our reporting is that one conversation is not the only part --

BOOKER: Exactly.

BERMAN: -- of the complaint and the concern which the inspector general, a Trump appointee, has deemed to be of urgent concern.

BOOKER: Yes. And, by the way, that -- that phrasing was specifically used to trigger a word called "shall". The law says that this shall be released.

So, this is why what's happening right now -- shall be given to Congress, excuse me -- this is why what's happening right now, as Nancy Pelosi said yesterday, is violations of the law.

You have the DNI -- the head of the -- the acting head of the DNI, you have the Justice Department refusing to turn over to Congress. And this would not have been turned around if it wasn't for, frankly, media and public demanding that it was turned over.

BERMAN: All right. For a long time, there have been questions about whether pursuing impeachment would get in the way of other agenda items Democrats want to pursue, and as a presidential candidate, you've got a lot of other issues you want to discuss now. This impeachment thing is going to be a big deal. What's your concern about the balance there?

BOOKER: Look, I don't care. I swore an oath on the Senate floor to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States. And if I don't hold this president accountable, then I'm violating my oath.

So, the politics be damned right now. This is a sad day, a sad chapter in American history -- the fourth time you have seen us barreling towards an impeachment of a president for actions that objectively everybody should just say are shocking and unacceptable that our nation should conduct itself in this way, the president of the nation should betray his office in this way.

BERMAN: All right. There's a new poll out this morning from Quinnipiac University. I want to put it up on the screen right now. There's a number I'm going to get to in a second, which you're probably not going to like discussing.

The first number is Elizabeth Warren and Joe Biden, 27 and 25. Joe Biden has been slipping in the polls a little bit.

Do you think this whole discussion, if the president's goal was to muddy up Joe Biden, have you seen evidence that it's working?

BOOKER: No, I think the poll discussions at this point are a little ridiculous in the fact that the polls at this point in presidential elections past have never predicted who goes on.


In fact, if you're a Democrat, the front-runner in polls this far out has never gone on to be the president of the United States. It's usually someone who's not polling at all.

Jimmy Carter not registering at all. Bill Clinton, a long shot. Barack Obama was almost 20 points behind Hillary Clinton at this point.

BERMAN: Does Joe Biden need to address some of these questions differently?

BOOKER: I think Joe Biden will continue to work his campaign. I will not give advice to another campaign.

I know what we're doing. We're leading every other campaign right now in endorsements in Iowa, endorsements in New Hampshire of elected officials. We have -- according to "The Des Moines Register" and others, the best organization on the ground.

This is why Kerry goes from4 percent to winning in Iowa.

BERMAN: He did (ph).

Four percent, though, and again, I just want to put this number back on the screen here so we can address it. This is the latest Quinnipiac national poll here. Cory Booker, hashtag. That means, you know, less than 1 percent now.


BERMAN: And you have acknowledged there have been problems within the campaign and taking off money-wise. You want to raise $1.7 million by the end of this month. Where are you on that?

BOOKER: Well, first of all, we have polled all over the place.

BERMAN: Right.

BOOKER: I've seen us all the way up to six points, you name it. But that's why, again, these polls are a distraction from the work of building a campaign. We've been building one to win.

We came out at the beginning of last -- of this week saying, if we don't raise more money, we can't continue to build a winning campaign.

The great news is, the momentum has been overwhelming. We're more than halfway to our goal. The surge of folks -- and lots of people are stepping up all around this country to say, your voice is important to this campaign. Your voice should stay in this campaign.

And I'm hoping more people will go to and help out.

BERMAN: All right. Senator Cory Booker, thank you for coming in and talking about this, helping us understand where this all headed. Great to see you.

BOOKER: Thank you as always.

BERMAN: Take care.

BOOKER: Appreciate you.

BERMAN: All right. Six House committees are now working on the impeachment inquiry. We're going to speak to the chair of one of those committees, next.