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New Audio of Giuliani Released; Harris Tells Migrants Not to Come to the U.S.; Newsletter Vendor Hit by Ransomware Attack. Aired 9:30-10a ET.

Aired June 8, 2021 - 09:30   ET





Never before heard audio of a 2019 phone call which reveals how former President Trump's longtime adviser and personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, relentlessly pushed the Ukrainian government to investigate conspiracies about then candidate Joe Biden.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Allegations that Trump pressured Ukrainian leadership to investigate has political rival in exchange for better relations and military aid, which he vigorously denied later, became central to his first impeachment.


Our Matthew Chance has our exclusive reporting.


QUESTION: What exactly did you mean?

RUDY GIULIANI: Meaning -- meaning meddling in the election.

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): It was the call that set events in motion.

KURT VOLKER, U.S. DIPLOMAT: OK. So we should have on the line here America's mayor, Mayor Giuliani, and we have Andriy Yermak.

CHANCE: Thrusting a reluctant Ukraine into America's divided politics. We already know through transcripts and testimony Giuliani pressured them to announce investigations important to then President Trump. But this is the first time we've heard his actual voice.

GIULIANI: I want very much to see that our two countries are able to work together. CHANCE: Now Giuliani cajoled the Ukrainian presidential adviser on the

other end of the line, first promoting debunked conspiracy theories that Ukraine, not Russia, was involved in U.S. election meddling in 2016 and tried to hurt the Trump campaign.

GIULIANI: Way back, in last November, I got information from a reliable investigator, international investigator, that there was a certain amount of activity in Ukraine during the 2016 election that was -- that involved Ukrainian officials and Ukrainian -- mostly officials, being asked by our embassy and possibly by other American officials. Basically, I mean the -- the statement was to produce dirt on then candidate Trump and Paul Manafort.

CHANCE: By the time of the call in July 2019, Joe Biden had already emerged as the Democratic Party's front-runner to challenge President Trump. Digging up dirt on Biden, like the unfounded allegations of corrupt dealings in Ukraine when he was vice president, had become a priority for Trump and his longtime adviser.

Throughout the roughly 40-minute call, Giuliani repeatedly pressed the Ukrainian leadership to publicly announce investigations into this too. Something that would have undoubtedly benefited Trump's re- election campaign and damaged candidate Biden.

Listen to how Giuliani sets out what's required.

GIULIANI: And all we need -- all we need from the president is to say, I'm going to put an honest prosecutor in charge who's going to investigate and dig up the evidence that presently exists and is there any other evidence about involvement of the 2016 election and then the Biden thing has to be run out.

I don't know if it's true or not. I mean I -- I see -- I see him bragging about it on television. And to me, as a lawyer -- to me, as a lawyer, it sounds like a bribe. Somebody in Ukraine's got to take that seriously.

CHANCE: In the Ukrainian presidential office, they took it very seriously. Then, as now, the country was fighting a desperate war against Russian-backed rebels in its east and heavily depended on U.S. weapons and military aid to hold its ground, including millions of dollars that had been frozen by the Trump administration while Giuliani pursued these political investigations. Mindful of the need for a strong relationship with Washington, the Ukrainian presidential adviser on the call tried to assure Giuliani the investigations he wanted would be looked at.

ANDRIY YERMAK: And we'll be ready this day immediately communicated to coordinate, to work and investigate everything, which you listed.

CHANCE: But, privately, Ukrainian officials say they were alarmed of being sucked into American politics, especially when Giuliani repeatedly suggested compliance would open the door to closer U.S./Ukrainian ties, even a presidential meeting, undermining the former U.S. president's assertions that he never sought political favors from Ukraine to secure U.S. support. A so-called quid pro quo. DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: I want nothing. I want nothing. I

want no quid pro quo.

CHANCE: Now we can hear Giuliani set out his offer.

GIULIANI: So, if he could make some statement at the right time that he supports a fair, honest law enforcement system and that these investigations go wherever they have to go, going to be run by honest people, that would clear the air really well. And I think it would make it possible for me to come and make it possible, I think, for me to talk to the president and see what I can do about making sure that whatever misunderstandings are put aside and maybe even -- I kind of think that this is -- this could be a good thing for having a much -- a much better relationship where we really understand each other.


IGOR NOVIKOV, FORMER ADVISER TO UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT ZELENSKY: To my factual knowledge, they approached numerous --

CHANCE: One former Ukrainian official who was listening in on the call understood all too well. He spoke to CNN last month of his outrage as he heard Giuliani try to force a deal that, in his words, threatened Ukraine's national security.

NOVIKOV: Let me remind you, we're a country fighting an active war with Russia for many years. So anything to do with swapping, you know, favors within our bilateral relationship in exchange for trying to get us involved into U.S. domestic politics is just wrong on many levels, morally, ethically and probably even legally.

CHANCE: By call's end, the Ukrainian side seemed to understand exactly what President Zelensky of Ukraine was expected to do to keep Washington on side. And on the call at least they agreed.

YERMAK: I'm sure that Zelensky will say that, yes.

VOLKER: Yes. good. Second --

GIULIANI: Boy, that would -- that would -- that would -- believe me, Andriy, that would -- that would be good for all of us.

CHANCE: Giuliani has denied any wrongdoing in Ukraine and says he was just trying to help his personal client, Trump. It was, of course, this and other aggressive attempts to coax Ukraine vigorously denied by then-administration officials that led to former President Trump's first impeachment in which he was eventually acquitted by the U.S. Senate. It's hard to know if actually hearing Giuliani relentlessly pressing Ukraine like this.

GIULIANI: If he could say something like that, on his own, in conversation, it would go a long way -- it would go a long way with the president to solve the problems.

CHANCE: Would have in any way influenced the outcome of the impeachment vote. (END VIDEOTAPE)

CHANCE: Of course, the Ukrainians never did announce any investigation into 2016 election meddling or into Joe Biden. And, of course, they paid a price for that, even though the White House, under President Trump, lifted the freeze on military aid that it put in place.

President Zelensky of Ukraine never got that White House invitation he was looking for. Symbolic show of support for Ukraine from the United States. That all changed yesterday, of course, when the Ukrainian presidency -- excuse me -- said that Zelensky would be going to the White House in July.

HARLOW: That's right.

Matthew Chance, what a report. Thank you very much.

Ahead for us, Vice President Kamala Harris bluntly telling migrants while she's on this trip in Guatemala, do not come to the United States. The response from some progressives, including Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, is ahead.



HARLOW: Hours from now, Vice President Kamala Harris is set to meet with the president of Mexico, talk about ways to stem the surge of migration. This is the purpose of her trip. During her stop in Guatemala, she delivered a warning to Central American migrants, telling them flat out, do not come to the United States.

SCIUTTO: CNN White House correspondent Jeremy Diamond is in Mexico City.

Jeremy, we do want to go to those comments in a moment, something that President Biden himself has said previously, but what do we expect to see from this meeting today?

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, this is going to be a pretty wide-ranging conversation between Vice President Kamala Harris and the Mexican president, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador. They are going to be discussing security issues and those root causes of migration, which have been the focus of this first foreign trip by the vice president to Guatemala and now to Mexico City.

They are going to be signing a memorandum of understand, which we understand is going to focus on the cooperation between the U.S. and Mexico in terms of coordination -- coordinating aid and development to the region of Central America and that northern triangle.

What's important to note here, and this is a point that Ricardo Zuniga, the special envoy to the northern triangle, stressed to reporters yesterday is that not only is the United States a destination country for those migrants from Central America, but increasingly Mexico has also become a destination country and, therefore, there is even more alignment between the U.S. and Mexico in terms of a shared focus on addressing these issues in Central America, these issues of poverty and food insecurity that are driving migrants tens of thousands of migrants every month up towards Mexico and to the United States.

HARLOW: Let's talk, Jeremy, before you go, about the response to Vice President Harris' comments yesterday while she was in Guatemala, saying, do not come to the southern border essentially. This is what Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tweeted in response. She said, this is disappointing to see, first, seeking asylum at any U.S. border is 100 percent a legal method of arrival. Second, the U.S. spent decades contributing to regime change and destabilization in Latin America. We can't help set someone's house on fire then blame them for fleeing.

Is the vice president responding to that?

DIAMOND: She is. But let me just tell you first, it was -- you know, I was in the room when the vice president made those comments saying do not come. It was very clear that this was an intentional strategy to deliver this message while in Guatemala, a country that is seeing tens of thousands of migrants head up to the United States.


And you could hear a pin drop when she made those comments.

But she hasn't really explained why exactly she felt the need to focus on that given that she's primarily been focused on giving hope to the people there and addressing those root causes.

But here's how she addressed some of that criticism from Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez.


KAMALA HARRIS, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I am here because the root causes are my highest priority in terms of addressing the issue. And we need to -- and we need to deal with it both in terms of the poverty we are seeing, the hunger that we are seeing, the effects of the hurricanes and the climate -- extreme climate conditions.


DIAMOND: And you can see that she, you know, didn't exactly answer why she felt the need to focus on that, nor did she answer the criticism from Ocasio-Cortez. But that is the balancing act that the United States is in a position in Central America, which is both to try and address some of these longer term issues of food insecurity, of hunger, poverty, and crime, while also saying, listen, we don't want you to come to the United States right now. It's not the time to come and cross.

A majority of migrants are indeed being turned away but there is still that issue of unaccompanied minors. And the Biden administration, of course, reversing a Trump administration policy, allowing many of those unaccompanied minors into the United States. And so that is the issue that this administration and the vice president are facing here in the region.

SCIUTTO: Listen, when we -- when we went to the border in Arizona, border agents said that migrants are under the false impression, they're being falsely told by smugglers, that the doors are open here, right? That the laws have changed. They haven't. They're being told that. That's the origin of a message like that from the vice president.

Jeremy Diamond, good to have you there in Mexico City. Thanks very much.

Another ransomware attack, this time targeting a vendor that provides newsletter services for U.S. House offices. Were hackers able, this crucial question, to get their hands on House data, including personal data of constituents? We'll have more on that, next.



SCIUTTO: Yet more cyberattacks. A vendor that offers newsletter services for U.S. House members now the latest victim of what's known as a ransomware attack. A spokesperson for the chambers chief administrative officer confirmed the incident involving the company which is known as IConstituent.

HARLOW: It is not clear whether any House data may have been affected. But what is clear -- let's bring in our tech reporter Brian Fung for more on this. What is clear is this keeps on happening.


HARLOW: Brian, what do we know?

BRIAN FUNG, CNN TECH REPORTER: Well, as you said, IConstituent told the House chief administrative officer -- office that it was hit by a ransomware attack. Now, we don't know whether or not any House data was affected. The CEO said in a statement that so far it doesn't have any evidence to suggests any House data was affected.

But, of course, you know, IConstituent is not -- serves many clients beyond Congress, it includes state and local governments as well, city governments. And so as this investigation continues, a big question is going to be was that data affected and who is responsible? We're trying to get to the bottom of that right now.

A statement from the CAO's office, I can read a little bit of that right here. The CAO is coordinating with the impacted offices supported by IConstituent and has taken measures to ensure that the attack does not affect the House network and offices' data.

Now, of course, all of this is happening at a very sensitive time when everyone is very on edge about the risk of ransomware. The U.S. government, the Biden administration, saying this is a national security threat, an economic security threat.

We're set to hear from the CEO of Colonial Pipeline today on Capitol Hill. The company, of course, that was hit by ransomware the last month and paid $4.4 million in ransom payments to suspected Russian hackers. And just yesterday the DOJ announced that it had managed to recover some of that ransom payment. But, of course, many more questions still remain for the CEO of Colonial.


SCIUTTO: Yes, listen, these attacks are happening any day -- every day. A lot of them we just don't know about.

Brian Fung, thanks very much.

Another quick update on another attack in the land of cyber.

Countless websites, apps, they are now coming back online, but this after a major what's known as a content delivery network reported a widespread failure this morning. Lots of your favorite sites, including our own, were down.

HARLOW: The issue was linked to Fastly, a web service that supports site like "The Guardian," "The New York Times," CNN, and many others. The company says they have now identified the problem and they've fixed the issue.

Well, a just released congressional report identifies multiple security failures ahead of the January 6th Capitol attack. It reveals some intelligence officers were aware of the, quote, potential for violence but failed to act. We'll bring you more on that Senate report ahead.