Trump focuses anger at whistleblower as impeachment inquiry deepens

Trump focuses anger at whistleblower as impeachment inquiry deepens


JUDY WOODRUFF: From President Trump today:
new accusations and threats over impeachment. He all but accused a key lawmaker of treason,
and declared that publicly identifying a government whistle-blower is fair game, all this as new
allegations emerge and a new subpoena landed. Congressional correspondent Lisa Desjardins
begins our coverage. LISA DESJARDINS: Outside Washington, President
Trump, the commander in chief, today formally welcomed the new chairman of the Joint Chiefs
of Staff. Back in the Oval Office, he played the role
of his own defender in chief about a July phone call with Ukraine’s president. DONALD TRUMP, President of the United States:
I made a call. The call was perfect. When the whistle-blower reported it, he made
it sound terrible. LISA DESJARDINS: Mr. Trump also stormed out
more than 90 tweets about Democrats’ impeachment efforts since Friday, many retweeting thoughts
from FOX News. In one tweet Sunday, he quoted a FOX News
contributor saying: “If the Democrats are successful in removing the president from
office, it will cause a civil war-like fracture in this nation.” Meanwhile, the New York Times and others reported
today that the president pushed Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison in another call. The report Mr. Trump sought information for
Attorney William Barr on the origins of the Mueller probe, this as the top Senate Republican,
Mitch McConnell, stated how he sees the process, should the House impeach Mr. Trump. SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): The Senate impeachment
rules are very clear. The Senate would have to take up an impeachment
resolution if it came over from the House. LISA DESJARDINS: McConnell didn’t say if impeachment
requires a full Senate trial, this after a weekend of rhetorical exchanges of fire. SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): Salem witch trials
had more due process than this. LISA DESJARDINS: The president’s allies, like
South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham and his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, repeatedly
argued that Democrats are rushing this process. White House senior adviser Stephen Miller
went on a different attack, against the original whistle-blower who raised concerns. STEPHEN MILLER, Senior White House Adviser:
The president of the United States is the whistle-blower! And this individual is a saboteur trying to
undermine a democratically elected government! LISA DESJARDINS: The whistle-blower’s identity
is supposed to be protected by law, but, today, the president said his White House is trying
to uncover it. Multiple outlets have reported that the whistle-blower
is a CIA official, though, otherwise, that person’s identity and motivations are not
known. The whistle-blower set off a historic cascade
of events after revealing that Mr. Trump asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to
investigate his Democratic rival Joe Biden and Biden son’s Hunter. The younger Biden had served on the board
of a Ukrainian gas company. A former Ukrainian prosecutor told The L.A.
Times that Giuliani repeatedly asked him to open an inquiry, but he refused and told Giuliani
it was a political vendetta. And, today, as part of their impeachment probe,
House Democrats subpoena Giuliani for documents related to his communications with Ukrainian
officials. Not all Republicans defended the president. His former Homeland Security Adviser Tom Bossert
criticized Giuliani for pushing the Biden story. TOM BOSSERT, Former White House Homeland Security
Adviser: That conspiracy theory has got to go. They have to stop with that. It cannot continue to be repeated. I am deeply frustrated with what he and the
legal team is doing and repeating that debunked theory to the president. It sticks in his mind when he hears it over
and over again. LISA DESJARDINS: All this as the Intelligence
Committee in the House, led by Chairman Adam Schiff, ramps up its action, with depositions
and a closed hearing this week about the phone call and aid money kept from Ukraine. REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): We’re going to find out
why those funds were withheld, who was in the know about it. We’re going to find out what other communications
were also improperly hidden in this classified system that’s meant to contain the most highly
sensitive, classified information involving covert action, not the president’s misconduct. LISA DESJARDINS: On “60 Minutes” Sunday, House
Speaker Nancy Pelosi asked the White House to cooperate. REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): And let us work together
to have this be a unifying experience, not a dividing one for our country. Don’t make this any worse than it already
is. LISA DESJARDINS: Schiff says his committee
has reached an agreement with the whistle-blower and expects that person will testify soon
in a closed hearing. JUDY WOODRUFF: This evening, both The Wall
Street Journal and CNN are reporting that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was among those
listening to President Trump’s phone call with the leader of Ukraine. And just moments ago, the Justice Department
released a statement confirming that President Trump has contacted other countries to have
them connect Attorney General William Barr with appropriate officials to investigate
the 2016 election. And Lisa joins me now, along with our Yamiche
Alcindor, to help keep up with this fast-moving story. Thank you. And it is fast-moving, these developments
just in the last few minutes. Lisa, I’m going to start with you, though. What — you have been talking to Democrats
today. What should we expect them to do in coming
days as they move this inquiry forward? LISA DESJARDINS: I don’t know that we have
had a busier day or that I have ever put on a more complicated story at the top of the
newscast as we have just now. So, this is something that has crystallized
what’s happening this week. We’re going to have three major depositions
or days for the House Intelligence Committee. First, let’s look. We’re going to have Wednesday, former Ambassador
Marie Yovanovitch. She was the ambassador of Ukraine who was
asked to leave and now still works at the State Department. After that, Thursday, House Intelligence Committee
will be hearing from Ambassador Volker, who used to be the U.S. envoy to Ukraine for President
Trump. He stepped down just last week, at the end
of the week. Friday, that is a deadline for Secretary of
State Pompeo to hand over documents that the House Intelligence Committee is seeking. Also, Friday is when the House Intelligence
Committee will hear from the inspector general, who basically led this whole whistle-blower
investigation over the department for the DNI and intelligence agencies. But, Judy, I think a bigger date might be
October 15. That is when Rudy Giuliani has been given
a deadline to turn over all of the documents he has about his — any of his conversations
with Ukrainians. And, Judy, that subpoena categorizes 23 different
types of documents, different dates, meetings that Giuliani had with many Ukrainians, purportedly
on behalf of the president. And even the mayor of Kiev, a famous boxer
named Vitali Klitschko, some of our viewers may know, he’s in that subpoena. So it is a narrow issue, but a very wide-ranging
investigation. JUDY WOODRUFF: So many strands that they are
pursuing. So, Yamiche, meantime, President Trump today
seems very focused on this whistle-blower, the person whose document we saw last week. YAMICHE ALCINDOR: Well, as this impeachment
inquiry deepens, President Trump is really focusing his anger on this whistle-blower
and saying now that he’s going to be looking to figure out who this person is. Now, that would be a violation of federal
law. And the attorney for the whistle-blower felt
compelled to tweet about that today and said, look, if this — my whistle-blower, my client
needs to be protected and not be retaliated against. We also are talking to lawyers, and I talked
to some lawyers that were involved in the impeachment hearings for President Clinton. And that person says, let’s look at all that
the White House is dealing with. So I want to kind of walk through just the
last couple of hours. There’s Rudy Giuliani being subpoenaed. There’s Secretary of State Mike Pompeo now
revealed to be on the call with the Ukrainian president. There’s President Trump pressuring the Australian
prime minister to essentially be part of investigation to discredit the Mueller report. So this lawyer who worked for President Clinton,
he said this White House doesn’t have a strategy to handle this. They might have a messaging. They might want to put out TV ads. But they need a legal strategy to figure out
how to deal with all of this and to really make the case that these are not impeachable
offenses. And, right now, the White House is not doing
that. JUDY WOODRUFF: We also know, Yamiche, the
White House, the president very focused on Joe Biden, one of his chief Democratic rivals,
his son Hunter. How is the Biden campaign — you have been
talking to them. How are they responding to this? YAMICHE ALCINDOR: President Trump and Republicans
are making the case that Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden were engaged in unethical
behavior as part of their Ukrainian business dealings — really Hunter’s Ukrainian business
dealings. The Ukrainian prosecutor who was working at
as a part of all this, he’s saying that Rudy Giuliani was trying to pressure him to look
into the Bidens, but that, in fact, he saw no reason, no wrongdoing on any part of the
Bidens to do that. And Ukrainian officials are essentially saying
that Joe Biden’s in the clear here. So what Joe Biden is doing is saying, I’m
in the clear, and all of these things that they’re saying about me are simply not true. But I put the question to the Biden campaign,
how are you dealing with the idea that some people see this as a conflict of interests,
that Hunter Biden was profiting off of the fact that his father was vice president of
the United States? And they essentially say, it’s ridiculous
to compare Joe Biden’s children to President Trump’s children Ivanka Trump and Don Jr.,
and that really this is about the president being completely not transparent and that,
essentially, Joe Biden is in the clear here. So that’s their plan of attack as of now. JUDY WOODRUFF: Separately, Lisa, we know you
have stepped back a little bit to look at — put this in some historical perspective. As this impeachment process moves, you have
looked at President Clinton, what happened under his presidency. Do you see parallels? LISA DESJARDINS: Democrats have a lot of choices
to make in terms of how they go forward. They have not made all of those decisions
yet. But here’s what we know about how Democrats
are moving forward now. The House Intelligence Committee is gathering
evidence, as we see right now. Then, after they’re done, they feel like they
have got their case to make, they will present it to the House Judiciary Committee, which
will vote on articles of impeachment, I’m told. Then those articles of impeachment would move
to the House of Representatives. OK, that’s a big process. How long could that take? And here’s where the Clinton case comes in
handy. It’s interesting. The Clinton — the House Judiciary Committee
began their inquiry October 5 of 1997. In just three months, it had moved all the
way through the House and a Senate trial had begun. So — I’m sorry — ’98 and ’99. So, at that point, we see that this could
happen pretty quickly. JUDY WOODRUFF: I remember it vividly. LISA DESJARDINS: Maybe by Thanksgiving, even,
I should say. JUDY WOODRUFF: It didn’t feel quick at the
time, but you’re both… (LAUGHTER) (CROSSTALK) JUDY WOODRUFF: Lisa Desjardins… LISA DESJARDINS: It feels quick today, yes. JUDY WOODRUFF: For sure. So much going on. Lisa Desjardins, Yamiche Alcindor, thank you
both. YAMICHE ALCINDOR: Thanks, Judy.

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