Impeachment subpoenas hit Pentagon, White House as second whistleblower steps forward

AMNA NAWAZ: The impeachment inquiry rolls
on, with more subpoenas and another whistle-blower.
White House correspondent Yamiche Alcindor
begins our coverage of the day’s event.
YAMICHE ALCINDOR: A new day, a new round of
subpoenas related to the impeachment inquiry
targeting President Trump.
This time, the Democratic chairs of three
House committees sent demands for documents
to both the Pentagon and the White House Budget
They want information on President Trump’s
decision to withhold military aid to Ukraine.
A whistle-blower has accused the president
of temporarily blocking millions of dollars
to pressure the president of Ukraine to investigate
former Vice President Joe Biden and his son
DONALD TRUMP, President of the United States:
This is a scam, and people are wise to it.
YAMICHE ALCINDOR: This afternoon at the White
House, President Trump sounded off.
DONALD TRUMP: The whistle-blower report or
whatever the news was so off.
It was so horrible.
I said, I never said that.
Almost everybody that read it said it’s either
perfect or really very good.
YAMICHE ALCINDOR: In the meantime, a second
whistle-blower has entered to back up the
Attorney Mark Zaid now represents both individuals.
Zaid said his new client, described as another
intelligence official, has been interviewed
by Michael Atkinson, the intelligence community’s
inspector general.
On Sunday, Zaid tweeted that the second whistle-blower
has firsthand knowledge about key events to
corroborate the original complaint.
Over the weekend, the Trump administration
put no one out to make the president’s case.
But Republican Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin
came to the president’s defense.
He chairs the Senate Homeland Security Committee.
RON JOHNSON (R-WI): The reason he had very
legitimate concerns and reservations about
Ukraine is, first, corruption, generalized.
It’s endemic.
We all know that.
YAMICHE ALCINDOR: The Republican chair of
the Senate Judiciary Committee, Lindsey Graham,
has vowed to expose the whistle-blowers’ identities
if Democrats move ahead with impeachment.
But nearly 90 former national security officials
who served under presidents from both parties
published an open letter.
They insisted that whistle-blowers deserve
protection and anonymity.
They argue that — quote — “A responsible
whistle-blower makes all American safer by
ensuring that serious wrongdoing can be investigated
and addressed.”
Still to come this week, House committees
will hear from several current and former
diplomats and other Trump officials in closed
AMNA NAWAZ: And Yamiche joins me now, as well
as our Capitol Hill correspondent, Lisa Desjardins.
Yamiche, let’s start with you over at the
White House.
You have been reporting on this impeachment
inquiry as it continues to expand.
What are you hearing and seeing among Trump
allies and from the president himself?
YAMICHE ALCINDOR: The White House is really
preparing to push back on impeachment like
it’s a campaign issue.
So they’re not treating this really as a legal
issue, as much as a messaging issue.
So, this week, Vice President Mike Pence launched
a national tour where he’s going to be visiting
districts won by President Trump in 2016 and
then won by congressional Democrats in 2018.
He’s going to be basically making the case
that these Republicans are going to be better
for these voters and that these voters who
liked President Trump enough in 2016 are now
being betrayed by Democrats because they’re
focusing too much on impeaching the president
and not on getting — getting through with
issues like health care or the — or other
things that they have promised Democrats and
other voters.
So the other thing to note is that the president’s
campaign had a call today where they announced
that they’re going to make it harder for Republicans
trying to challenge the president to get on
the ballot in all these different states.
Now, they say that this is coming not from
a position of weakness, but the president
essentially is going to be — it’s going to
be easier for him not to face people on the
If you’re trying to challenge President Trump,
it’s going to be very, very hard to get on
the ballot in some of these states.
The other thing to note, the Democrats are
actually looking into now having the whistle-blower
— at least the first whistle-blower testify
off-campus, possibly in a shrouded way, so
that you can’t know this person’s identity
either through their face or how you see them.
And that’s pretty unusual.
But as you have the White House making their
strategy, you have Democrats on the Hill essentially
making their strategy.
AMNA NAWAZ: Lisa, to you on this now.
There’s some extraordinary steps they’re considering,
so they can hear from the whistle-blower himself.
AMNA NAWAZ: What else you hearing about what
we should see on Capitol Hill this week?
LISA DESJARDINS: A quick reminder, we don’t
know if it’s a man or a woman yet.
But to speak to what Yamiche music is reporting
that’s very important, what’s going on here,
Amna, is that Democrats don’t trust the Republicans
in Congress, because they know the Republicans
and the president want to know who the whistle-blower
That whistle-blower is protected by law.
So that’s one very important thing to watch.
But also let’s talk about who else is going
to be on the Hill this week.
There are interviews.
One is the counselor to Secretary of State
Mike Pompeo.
That’s next.
We will be watching that.
But the two big names this week right here,
first of all, let’s look.
Gordon Sondland, he is currently the ambassador
to the E.U.
He is a political appointee.
He is actually a hotel chain owner, a big
Trump donor.
Then, also, we will hear from Marie Yovanovitch,
and actually, I should say, privately.
House lawmakers will hear from Marie Yovanovitch.
She was the ambassador to Ukraine, who we
understand was recalled in that position.
Both of them are involved in this call.
Sondland was, we know, privy to all of the
machinations of this.
And we saw his text messages last week.
Yanukovych has been an issue throughout all
of this.
Did Trump try to retaliate against her or
It’s going to be very interesting to see what
they have to say behind closed doors.
AMNA NAWAZ: Aside from the impeachment inquiry,
another topic generating a lot of discussion
on Capitol is this thing we just talked about,
right, the president’s decision to withdraw
U.S. forces from Northern Syria.
What are you hearing on Capitol Hill about
LISA DESJARDINS: You know, I was making calls
about these impeachment discussions, the debate.
Everyone on the Hill wanted to talk about
There is really sharp concern from lawmakers
on both sides of the aisle about what the
president is doing.
Early today, the idea that he was pulling
troops all the way out.
Later today, not clear exactly what he’s doing.
But, Amna, the key point is, especially from
Republicans, even some of the strongest Trump
allies, they say, this makes me wonder about
him as a president.
I had two different offices tell me that,
we think he’s making a big mistake, and the
timing is bad because of impeachment.
He needs his allies there.
And one office said, we’re supposed to be
supporting him now, but this is going the
exact opposite direction on something that
we feel strongly about.
AMNA NAWAZ: Bipartisan concern there you’re
seeing on the Hill.
LISA DESJARDINS: Heavy bipartisan concern.
But the point is that Trump allies now are
sort of — they’re shaken by this decision.
AMNA NAWAZ: Yamiche, made another topic we
want to make sure we get to cover a little
bit, we mentioned it earlier, but there is
another inquiry we should talk about, this
led by the Manhattan district attorney to
get some of President Trump’s tax records.
What do we know about that effort?
YAMICHE ALCINDOR: Well, it’s an extremely
important case.
And it gets to the heart of the fact that
the president doesn’t want to turn over his
tax returns.
He says it’s because he’s being audited and
he doesn’t want to reveal any of his tax returns
while that’s — why he’s going through that.
Critics of the president say that he doesn’t
want to release these tax returns because
he doesn’t want to show where he’s getting
his money from, or he doesn’t want to show
that he’s not worth as much money as he says.
What happened today was a judge essentially
ordered him to release his tax returns, but
then an appeals court stopped that order.
So what we’re seeing now is that the appeals
court is going to be moving pretty fast.
We might have a hearing as early as the end
of this month, even October 21.
The other thing to note is that the president
has really pushed hard when people have tried
to get him to release his tax returns.
So we should see that this is going to be
something that they’re going to appeal and
It could even end up in the Supreme Court,
because the president is not going to let
this go lightly.
AMNA NAWAZ: Potentially a long court battle
Yamiche Alcindor and Lisa Desjardins, thanks
to you both.

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