Transcript for White House deals with aftermath of acting Chief of Staff's press conference
Yeah. Hello everyone welcome to the briefing room today I'm Terry Moran in for Devin Dwyer. And Mary Alice Harris takes tutors for Dan it just season a well earned day off in this city is still buzzing. That extraordinary press conference yesterday but White House chief of staff Mick -- any the cheapest down in the White House. Really the most important person in that building who has not called Mr. President nick know many involved in every decision helps make sure that what the president wants done. Gets done he's at the center of all kinds of things he came out to announce that next year's G-7 summit of world leaders will be held. At the trump Doral will get to that that's in Florida. But what was extraordinary. Was when he started taking questions a few from our own John Karl who asked them. About this swirling controversy. Around the president's phone call in August with the president of Ukraine this is the source of the latest impeachment inquiry I'm sure you know that. Listen to how Jon Karl. Gets the answers out of White House chief of staff make more brainy on just what was going down. On that call when it came that was there a quid pro quo why was military aid withheld. From Ukraine listened to John Carl. And Mick moment. So the demand for an investigation into the Democrats was part of the reason that he ordered to withhold. Funding to Ukraine the look. Back to what happened in 2016. Certainly was was part living that he was worried about and corruption with that nation that that is absolutely brilliant put to be clear readers described as a quid pro quo it is. Funding will not flow in west the investigation. Into the the into the democratic server. Happen as well we do that all the time with foreign policy and I have news for everybody get over it. There's going to be political influence of foreign policy. So that the question answer hit Washington really like a thunder clap because that's the jeeves staff saying. Quid pro quo. Critical crow might not be. The best use of the it isn't amazing to me to watch the president used that language in. In terms of the tight end he's tried to use that's in language to dodge and ditch around. But let's go the other for it was a quid pro bush side. Get over this. Do you own writ is not a legal defense but it could very well be a savvy political defense and it could pose a lot of challenges to Democrats. Use their have to argue that's something that's now. In plain sight. Is still Bronx it's basically the White House say if we put it all out there. What could we be. They're just gonna but try to brazen their way through what might seem for other administrations and other present a real ethical problem a quid pro quo with holding a military aid. To the ukrainians by the way thirteen thousand people have been killed in that war in Ukraine this is not a game show it's life and death. And met many seem to know. That something had gone wrong so he put out a statement later on in the evening blaming the media for misinterpreting what he said he claims any added. The only reasons we work. Holding the money was because of concern about lack of support. From other nations and concerns over corruption. That's what he has basically two reasons the only two reasons a lack of support from European nations and corruption problem is that in the press conference he said several times. There were three reasons and here is how he answered the question of NPR's I sure Roscoe. On that listened how many he says with a reasons for withholding that military. Again I was I was involved with the the process by which the money was held up temporarily take three issues for that the corruption in the country. Whether or not other countries were participating in support of Ukraine and whether or not they were at cooperating in an ongoing investigation we are partners just. That's completely legitimate. That's it's that's kind of digging deeper. And deeper and very different from that statement they currently are so this strikes me to about that statement not only is he trying to. Cities ends and he didn't say I'm but that idea of rooting out corruption because when you look back at the national about the call there's not. Own there corruption disgust. I'm really eighty only things the president is asking for the presence of Ukraine to look into. A conspiracy theory about whether or not Ukraine was involved in hacking a DNC servers. And the former vice president Stanley there's not a larger conversation at least not enough phone call about crop. Right and you could have a very large conversation by corruption in Ukraine however so how is the president handling this this. Press conference wore his number one top aide chief of staff says yet there was broad quote quote quid pro quo and then kind of backs away from it. Well here's what the president had to say today. Mr. President do you want to clarify. Hoping and he said yesterday was the I think he I think you clarified it. Please I want no part of what amount you just have to say. And he is outstanding at council said the exact right so the legal team is bailing on mic on the my remaining the president wants no part of me moving he's bailing on make more than. All this part of this latest impeachment inquiry deadly serious actually for all of the shenanigans and that reform so let's bring in ABC's Kara Phillips who's been covering. This would thus it has been together and yeah all. I hate make well lady happened at the end of the week. If we just try to back up and go to the beginning of the week I mean wouldn't talk about bombshell after bombshell it's only been five days in look at everything that we have witnessed. So the depositions are right Fiona hill that's really what kicked off this entire week now who's the bill so let's. I want it is she was the top Russia advisor that was deposed at the beginning of of the week with congressional investigators those leading this impeachment probe. I I took a list of cake just just because it was so complex and there are so many tentacles that came out from Vienna hill's testimony. So this is ray really saw the truck barricade start to collapse right because she comes forward choose the first White House official to cooperate with the impeachment pro. And she talked about being concerned about Rudy Giuliani the president's personal attorney being involved in Ukraine. And this pressure on Ukraine for political dirt on on rivals. Then she actually ties in acting chief of staff make more babies she Manson mentions him in the testimonies and now we're wondering how Whitman at what's the acting chief of staff it it has he involved here is we still haven't heard from him in if indeed he was involved. Then she goes a national security advisor John Bolton. Who characterized their efforts in Ukraine as a drug deal and he says you need to go to the lawyers so what does she do she goes to the lawyers and then Bolton comes out and describes Giuliani as a hand grenade it's gonna blow everybody up. And I just remember everybody's asking where what just happened here where do we start where do we end. That's how quickly things started to and rabble at the beginning of the week and that was just. One witness is what our eyewitness says she's a witness who really takes you behind the scenes at the White House. While this. Some people are calling and a shadow for foreign policy run through Rudy Giuliani not a member of the administration the president's own lawyer and friend. About Ukraine. And validates the whistle blowers concerns. And testifies even though there's been so much has pushed back trying to keep these witnesses and we're in the right trick and that that that's what. Pepper OK let's talk Gordon settlement in Iraq ambassador to the EU. There was more of Trump's barricade starting to crumble because this is someone who is a very good friends with the president donated to his campaign a million dollars. So I think the White House probably was thinking unless you know probably isn't going to be so bad he comes awkward. And talks about his concern about Ukraine issues going through he and the president's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani it even says quote withholding foreign aid in order to pressure foreign government to take such steps would be wrong. I did not and would not ever participate in such undertakings in my opinion security aid to Ukraine was in our vital national interest and should not have been delayed for any reason so he straight out disagreed with the president. And Giuliani getting in Baldwin talking about this quid pro well sure. And clearly we disagree with let signaled they just sent in the White House is trying to explain that with money that it. Would make some political sense in we've heard statements like that from every top Republican on Capitol Hill for Mitch McConnell on to our lives and they thought that aid. To Ukraine was essential to. Basically telling Russian back op. And one of those challenges for the White House for the president is so many people knew. Right this was a months long project. To that Rudy Giuliani in the present working on to get some kind of investigation into the Biden's and into this sick conspiracy theory about the DNC server in Ukraine. And they saw they had leverage with the new president. Could they withhold the military aid to get him to do their bidding. That is the allegation. Lots of people would be involved in that month long policy pro processed at the White House at the State Department. In Ukraine at the Pentagon all of these people have. Testimony pieces to add to the puzzle and it's going to be hard either keep them from testifying. Or to say it's not that get over it it's it's something else entirely innocent. I'll say who diplomats at the State Department are not getting over it they're pretty upset and feeling that they been undermined their positions have been undermine sources telling me. They found they were doing what was right they were raising concerns about this they were raising concerns about Rudy Giuliani the president's personal attorney. In her acting and dealing with foreign policy this is something that they were supposed to be doing and thought what's going on here the president saying that's what he wanted to happen. I think that's exactly what you see again and again is everybody comes across this this Giuliani led policy. Knows its radioactive. And as John Bolton say told us he told fee on health go talk to white counselors tell and we don't want this right people in Ukraine we don't want. Joseph what we want to handle this this country the way every other countries handled it just seemed wrong it seems and that's going to be problems she's not. Government employee and security clearance is not a part in the administration formally. Well State Department source also Tommy that they don't think Giuliani. Realizes this but they believe he was in over his head that he's been able to work out deals and and kind of talked his way out of things they're feeling is this me. This could possibly lead to some serious allegations possibly. Criminal charges. So where where does this go out there right now we are at the point where. The Democrats have this kind of who spoke impeachment process it's different than every other impeachment process that has ever been done. It's not being done with the support. Of a resolution of the full house the president which would offer protections and prove a process writes for the president and and the minorities. And Republicans are complaining about that. Is being done in secret depositions and House Intelligence Committee where does this go from here. Nancy Pelosi isn't giving a timeline she's she's not even saying how long this this impeachment inquiry could go on for. And then you'll remember as senate majority leader Mitch McConnell held that press conference and and talked to reporters on how this was all going to debt go gunning going to break down actually. And he said that under the impeachment rules of the senate. We would take the matter up that is if the vote went to the house at some point and we went to trial in the senate but this is what stood out to me. He said senators would then be allowed to speak. Which would be good therapy for a number of them any sort of added that with a chuckle at least and we intend to do our constitutional responsibility. So right now Pelosi is not giving a timeline we don't know how long this probe is gonna go we don't we can lead others and number of depth depositions that are gonna happen next week. But then of course there has to be a vote if indeed it moves to the senate in and we haven't trial well. And we were talking about this bid to refresh our our. Our impeachment. And it was at rules and regulations and and how it all goes down each senator would have a chance to stand up and and do their thing and therefore. Willie BE you know he could be impeached of course but does that really be removed from office that happened. And of those senators are running to replace them right so it is on the democratic side Norman Mailer promised at this point. Just as a reminder takes 6762 thirds. Of the senators in the 100 so there's assuming there were all present. To remove a president president from office now is a very very high bar especially Republican controlled senate. A Bill Clinton when he was impeached for the Monica Lewinsky affair and lying about it under oath. That Republicans who tried to remove him from office didn't even get fiftieth it was 52 to 48. Eight days so Clinton actually start a majority support in the senate. With 52 Republicans. Could present trump lose a few Republicans could he end up not being removed from office but having majority of the senate saying he should have been at. I think to look at the subject matter to what we were dealing with with President Clinton this. Personal issue a verses president trump and as we were talking about facts and national security issue I think it's it's a state issue so two different. Very much the subject matters here when we're talking about. And and in every election year and we just have no idea how that's gonna play Wii and a number of Republican senators that are up for reelection. And that changes everything contends that those were all right carry thanks very much for that behind him how he's changed and he tries briefing there. All out of tick tock carefully scalps and much more to come believe me that and serious notes. Absolutely as you can see that this week it really did accelerated seems to me it felt just like evidence hunt a hunt for evidence accelerated in thanks in part the prison's own chief of staff so. We're move on for a when they were gonna come back to present drop. But right now let's talk about some very very serious that's. And that's what's been happening in Syria. Really in the space of the week as well the president after a phone call with Turkish president. Aired a one. Basically gave the green light approved. The heir to one plan to invade Syria. And this place. Kurds in the north towards the Turkish border. And to twenty miles deep into that country basically take territory of the of that country. Next door to Turkey and drive the people out that led to this unfolding humanitarian catastrophe and strategic catastrophe. And be in the upshot it was in the present was essentially abandoning. The American allies in that area the Kurds 111000 of whom had fought and died. Shoulder to shoulder with Americans in putting down the ice is -- fate. In Syria. And that is. That's what's been going on there now the president send. Vice president Mike Pence and senators and Mike Pompeo to Ankara the capital of Turkey to talk with the Turkish president they did reach a cease fire five day cease fire. For more on how this is all unfolding. I real crisis in the world on a crisis of credibility to the United States. Our James Longman is in the region and he has this report. It's a big question has this cease fire held up all of the basic ulcer is that we just not so. The Texas authorities have said that they honoring the agreement the president one was saying that today but the ST yes. Has raised a number same instant Dennis saying that this fighting has continued cool day or both say that politics is we've seen seem to hold. Got up to scrutiny box they're all possible in Syria like Dennis just can't get city for the moment no I think what we can. Kind of predict with a certain degree of certainty is that. He's fighting groups the pads in the northern Syria I'm not going to want to vacate that part of the country house the times. All of this deal about remember is what vice president and stand the line agrees. This five day period would give these Kurdish troops time to retreat. But that families live in this place this is homeland. That day how a very very proud to be defending Atlantic a likely in of them moving away from this area is pretty slim site if the cease fire. Isn't holding out a moment. Well it certainly he will be and in the WD questions about it and in full five days time. What we can say. As well as their been kind of pretty sedate humanitarian issues going on in Homs Syria a major water pump in the north has been badly damaged so tens of thousands of people. All the density without clean drinking Walter. And I was in refugee camp here in Northern Iraq today hearing some of the stories of people who I've just west. Many won't want to come out and are unable to save of those who have left. All angry in the United States pure and simple. They didn't need to be made homeless. By this particular conflict they feel and that angry with the trump. As James Longman thanks James on the Syria Iraq border there have been there and many times some of these town school Bonnie and some of the other towns I've been ended and they're going to be hundred. 100000 plus people displaced by this and for more on the impact of this on the United States. And how we are going to be handling this. Conner bringing in is at the State Department forced Conner that everybody obviously in the administration is happy about how this is going down. Yet that's right Terry a lot of US diplomats and folks at the Pentagon who've worked on this issue for years are deeply disappointed in president Trump's decision here and an overall decision to withdraw from Syria. They understand the sacrifices. The US troops have made on the ground along with American diplomats. And those Kurdish partners those Syrian Kurdish forces the STF Syrian democratic forces have fought alongside the US and lost over 111000 fighters. In the fight against places they are very upset with how this is gone down but secretary of state Mike Pompeo just a moment ago at NATO headquarters in Brussels. With again defending this cease fire agreement. He told reporters there that while there was some quote unquote activity today the violence that James was just alluding to he said overall this agreement is starting to take hold. And in particular he pointed to the withdrawal of some of those SDF forces. From positions within this safe zone. Now they're the one important and important point here however though is that there is a bit of a disagreement over what exactly this zone. I'm constitutes the parameters of it in general the Turks have said consistently including president aired a one today. But it's a large swath of territory. Basically from the Euphrates River in the east to the Iraqi border in the west and that it extends twenty miles deep into Syrian territory. The US however has mean cleared to dig. Who actually to has not made clear how exactly they interpret it. But it but it is special envoy for Syria Jim Jeffries said yesterday that only the areas that Turkey all Brady controls are part of the cease fire. We're still pressing US officials or to say specifically where how far into Syria they believe the zone extends. And an end this knowledge people ended in the diplomatic corps but people. Who have served in the armed forces and led the armed forces who fought sold shoulder to shoulder with the Kurds were being displaced usually cease fire. Is is. To cease fire and keep them situations static this is basically telling the curse to get out of the places that they are right now. And we are hearing from general James Mattis who was the secretary of defense. For president trump and a very decorated marine. In the United States in the history of the United States and he has come out and for the first time. He's taken office after president from president from hearing that Mattis was unhappy with this abandonment of our allies in the field. Call him an overrated general while Mattis. Adam charity dinner in New York Al Smith dinner fired back listen. Mean I'm not just send over rated general I am the greatest the world's most overrated. Some of you were fighting during the reception and ash trees you know if this bothered me to have been rated just way. Based on what Donald Trump says at of course not I earned my spurs on the battlefield mark if you've wondered out and Donald Trump burned his personal letter from the doctor. Donald Trump of course excused from military service for bone spurs in his in his feet. And then if Mattis is not the only one not the only military men the former had a special forces at moment craven and came out with an extraordinary. Article in the New York Times that in which he said this as I stood on the parade field at Fort Bragg. One retired four star general grabbed my arm shook me and shouted I don't like to Democrats but trump is destroying the republic. As the kind of reaction that you're getting from this abandonment of the field of America's allies by some of our senior military leaders former senior military leaders. But there are a lot of voters and supporters of the president is seen as very different politically change they understand that the president said he was bringing American troops home. And whether that's in Syria or Iraq that is aligned itself is cells on the campaign trail Americans by and large. Are tired of having. People in the Middle East it's especially if you look at this president is something he'd rail not. And and it is something I think that that will remain. An issue I think a lot of people do agree can't can't find these endless wars but how you do it is is the question on the midst of all this there was as I mentioned at the beginning. This decision by the White House to hold the next G-7 summit of world leaders act. The president's own resort. The at trump Doral international right outside of Miami this is. This is caused as you can imagine a lot of hue and cry they're there it is it's an 800 acre resort the president himself made a pitch at the last at the last G-7 summit. And joining us now John who deck from the Brooking institute. He wrote a book called presidential pork and that is essentially what people are calling this should the president be able to award himself. A very large government contract. For this. Is summit that's coming. Absolutely not we have constitutional protections against the president profiting from foreign countries and it creates not only basic. Violations of ethics but truly rising to the standards of impeachable offenses. I think beyond all of that the optics are so terrible for this president especially this week. But he's you know throwing caution to the winds and moving forward anyway this. But this is a series. Does the nets government's been a pattern right. Absolutely this is a president who cares not about ethics or traditions or democratic norms or the constitution itself. What he wants is to benefit himself and his family and his children who were employed by the organization that will benefit from the G-7. And cares not about what other people do or what other people think that he does he's just an a for the money. Now John he says. I know White House said McElroy and he said presses are gonna profit not a dime of profit will go to the president or his family. And he says he doesn't mean he's losing money being president of the United States how do you answer that. You know I think that's tough to imagine that the president is going to charge the Secret Service members were going to stay there foreign leaders were going to stay there the security details of those foreign leaders the press. And everyone else at cost and understanding what apps cost means that a luxury resort this kind of hard to understand as well. The president's gonna make a lot of money out of this at a resort that last year lost money or at least its revenue reduced and so. It looks terrible for the president and I think it it probably is is terrible is that look. XQ we think. And any other president who has benefited from the office we had rich presidents before George Washington was very rich sure we've we've had rich presidents and president certainly benefit from the office after they leave through book deals were speaking engagements a variety of things. But to have a property. Good to have a set of properties the U then not only benefit from right this isn't like. A foreign government spending a couple of nights at the trump hotel. This is the president of the United States requiring. The six other largest economies in the world to pay his organization money it's appalling to most Americans. What can be done about it so let's say there are Americans who do feel that this is beyond. The law beyond what the president should be allowed to do what's the recourse there's a couple of steps that and a couple of bits of recourse here the first is two fold in a monuments clause impeachment. Article employment clause that part of the constitution says. From federal officials government officials can't accept what any foreign payments it and it fraud and any payment from a foreign government for title of nobility etc. And so all in office while in office that's right and so being able to you add that there's another article of impeachment into the inquiry that's an option. That said this is actually going to happen likely. After the impeachment process happens so I think there would be a question. As to whether they could sort of pre impeach him or impeach him in advance for this. But the other recourse is for the Democratic Party to run on this in 20/20 in an effort to. An issue do you think it'll strike voters that home for voters that the president is. Six in this hotel would not be fall in June in Miami and it's going to be chock full paying paying guests. I think it makes it harder for to make a political argument against the bite and it's harder to argue that another family is trading on their name. With the president continues so you. Promote his brand. Well it's more than that right if you're an out of work auto worker in Ohio and you are saying how my gonna put food on the table for my family. And then you see the president doing this it's hard to go to the ballot box and vote for. It is it was a bold move that's scripture John thanks very much. The president really dominating the agenda this week as as he does so much but let's shift gears a little let's get out of Washington and and the hoo ha here. A lynching story the FAA officials there are are demonstrating. An aircraft evacuation has pretty crews on the body when I get an airplane I actually do look for the emergency exits that that's that's where things are always demanding and just paranoid but I did our Stephanie Ramos is. I had planned. Our Stephanie Ramos is right there and she's gonna take us through it the FAA is showing about aircraft evacuations you never know. So the same month aircraft to show what it would you like during an emergency could see the spoke with spilling it happened. These virtual windows are actually monitors showing some type of scenario and you could hear the crew hope yelling evacuate. So this is exactly what the SA will be testing next month. Just how fast passengers can actually an aircraft basin the size of the seats and the leg where. Seven at age is set to release those findings summer of twenty twining bad it'll be up to rule making committee to decide. To determine that whether any changes she need to be here so. By you really get a sense they're the challenge that would be. In that was frightening that was just Derek Todd the next time the other pilot for the look for the. Look for the exits but here's good really one of the great stories of the day in a heart I'm tightening I don't thing down. UN turn. It's really exciting to watch the first ever in history doing and saying cursory today nice a first ever. All he now spacewalk. There's that NASA footage to female astronauts. Is awesome to watch that breaking that galactic glass ceiling. Yeah I'm almost to remember that the Apollo program so I'm never and the notion that dad did you see this to women. Do the space walk. Doing the work of astronauts high above the earth it it it would have been revolutionary to to be asked not at that time and I think in this country that times and this is. This is is one of those things that shows how much progress has been made lot more to go but it does make a real difference in the president. And hopefully inspires a future generation Athena astronaut. The president with his great political instincts wants to get in on this and he made a phone call to the astronauts up there. I think we have then. Got an art so so they got a call from the president and what we have to show you is. They're there are new space suits actually the president trying to boost demand. Now one man. Space program therefore that destination Mars this destination moon destination TBD. But NASA is now rolling out the newer. Space suits take a look at at what. The next generation of astronauts will be wearing app that up there. We're going to mark law and in order to go to Mars we have to use the mood of the proving ground we need to learn how to live and work on the surface of another world for long periods of time. And in order to do that brands. We need space suits the art in this generation. Is now revealing. It's space suits for our generate. Remember the Apollo generation. Your member Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin. They bunny hop on the surface of the moon one hour actually going to be able to lock on the surface of the noon. This Intel has very little girls I have really good average person's ability I think my shoulders very easily hasn't really good lowers risk abilities I can block. Indexes why. We're about to accurate because certification testing for that it's been. Working correctly and protect the missions. Excited to this milestone. But remember this. We as the artist generation are building spacesuits that will fit all of our astronauts we want every person. Who dreams of going into space to be able to say to themselves. Yes they have that opportunity. Those are the new space he's a great story is so cool to go to Mars onward and upward Mary Alice thanks for being here. DeVon will be back thanks for watching the brief from.
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