tv New Day With Alisyn Camerota and John Berman CNN November 13, 2019 5:00am-6:00am PST
>> that aid, but there was other aid before. they've been very, very supportive of ukraine and their battle with russia. >> rick santorum, charlie dent. thank you for giving us a preview of how interesting the hearings will be this morning and how they could all go. great to talk to both of you. >> interesting and historic. and cnn's special live coverage of the impeachment hearing continues now with wolf blitzer. good morning. i'm wolf blitzer in washington. we want to welcome our viewers in the united states and around the world. we're about to watch history unfold up on capitol hill as open impeachment hearings begin in the house of representatives and the trump presidency may well hang in the balance. today's testimony marks a make or break moment for democrats. their entire case for impeachment could depend on the momentum created today by two witnesses and their answers to these questions. did the president and his allies
pressure a foreign country to investigate a political rival? did they try to withhold aid to that country in the middle of a war until that investigation was announced publicly? for weeks, republicans have attacked what they said was a secretive, unfair process. but now the hearings are open and televised. and the rules have been established. so the republican strategy will now shift, focusing instead on undercutting the substance of the democratic narrative, poking holes in the testimony. we're covering all the angles as these dramatic hearings are set to begin. let's start with manu raju. he's joining us live on capitol hill. manu, set the stage. >> the gravity, both sides recognize the gravity of this moment. the democrats and republicans yesterday behind closed doors went -- strategized about their lines of questioning going in. for the democrats, their strategy is very clear. they want these two witnesses to lay out the full story line of
events. their concerns about what they were seeing. the president enlisting his personal attorney rudy giuliani to push the ukrainians to announce investigations into his political rivals, dig up dirt into the bidens. the same time vital military aid had been withheld. they expect bill taylor to say what he said behind closed doors that this aid had been withheld. nearly $400 million for the ukrainians until those investigations were announced. and republicans on the other hand are going to try to make the case that neither of these witnesses had direct line of thinking into what the president actually wanted. they didn't have any direct conversations with the president and we are told that republicans are going to try to shift the focus from the process, while they were criticizing the process, instead begin to attack the substance, something they've not done over the past several weeks. expect adam schiff to set the stage from the get-go. we're told from democratic officials he's going to lay out the scope and what's at stake in
these public hearings and detail why this ukraine aid in particular was so significant for ukraine to push back against russian military aggression and, wolf, you said it. this kicks off two weeks of busy public hearings in which the democrats hope will set the stage for potential impeachment proceedings in which the president could be the third in american history to get impeached. >> stand by, manu. we'll get back to you. there's a lot going on. we want to watch it all unfold. i want to go to the white house right now. our white house correspondent pamela brown is on the scene for us. set the stage over there. the president, i'm sure, will be watching. >> that is the expectation, wolf. it's a monumental day here at the white house. and this is the first impeachment public hearings. white house officials have been preparing an aggressive strategy as one source told me, the white house believes it's on the offense. another source i just spoke with said they are calm and confident. the white house has been closely coordinating with gop lawmakers and plans on a rapid response
approach where officials will be monitoring the hearing in realtime and looking for key moments to highlight that may be good for the president and push back against the witnesses' claims. those two witnesses are career diplomats who are still in this administration, wolf. but that will not stop the white house, i'm told, from trying to undermine the credibility, pointing out they weren't on the july zelensky call. the expectation here is that they won't say great a clean shot for the democrats. that is the expectation here today. now the president id, expected to watch part of the hearing this morning before engaging in meetings with the turkish psi erdog who is visiting this white house, a month after the president pulled out u.s. troops from syria, triggering a turkish invasion and backlash from congress. wolf, we'll have the first opportunity to hear the president's reaction to the hearing at around 3:10 p.m. where he holds a joint press conference with erdogan.
>> we'll be hearing all of this unfold. democrats' first two witnesses both career u.s. diplomats. set to face lawmakers and the american public in less than two hours. bill taylor and george kent are expected to tie president trump to a pressure campaign against ukraine. republicans argue neither of the men had direct contact with the president and can't testify to what he did or didn't do. kylie atwood is joining us right now. why kick off the public televised impeachment hearings with these two witnesses? why is their testimony so crucial? >> yeah, well, wolf, as manu said, house democrats have laid out the fact that these two witnesses are going to be able to tell the full story line of the president's misconduct. and though neither of them had direct contact with president trump himself, it's really important to look at what they already told lawmakers behind closed doors because it's the expectation that they will
reiterate that when they speak to lawmakers today. first we have the top u.s. diplomat in ukraine. that's bill taylor. and he is the person who came before lawmakers and said it was his understanding that there was an explicit expectation that the ukrainians would have to announce investigation into president trump's political rivals in order to get what they wanted. and that was the release on the u.s. security assistance that had been held up. he had been told there was a hold on that $400 million of assistance. and also the fact they wanted a meeting between president trump and president zelensky. now bill taylor is someone who is widely respected. he came out of retirement in order to take this job. he actually had to be convinced by secretary pompeo to take the job because he was worried about taking it after ambassador yovanovitch had been abruptly kicked out because president trump had lost confidence in her. and he is also someone who is a west point graduate and he is a
vietnam war veteran. a highly decorated, respected diplomat that we're going to be hearing from. and then on the other side we have george kent. he's a top state department diplomat as well and we'll reinforce the things that bill taylor is going to say. he was also told by u.s. officials that president trump explicitly wanted zelensky to go to the microphone and announce investigations and say the words, say the names of his political rivals. biden and clinton. so the expectizatiation is that will lay that out today. and george kent has worked on ukraine policy for the u.s. for years now. he's worked under both republican and democratic administrations. and he will be able to shine a really broad light on what the ukraine policy was and how it changed over the past few months during the trump administration. wolf? >> we'll be hearing a lot from them in the next several hours, thanks very much, kylie.
let's break down the potential legal ramifications of all of this. our legal and national security analyst carrie cordero and ross garber, an impeachment expert. so what do you expect, ross, from the questioning once it begins. we understand staff lawyers for the xhrkcommittee, a democrat a republican, will begin the process once we hear from the committee chairman and ranking republican. >> it's not going to be like the congressional hearings where members get five minutes to sort of speed ask questions and speed try to get the witnesses to answer and the witnesses can sort of drag things out. so what i'm going to be looking for are, you know, are the questions sharp? are they direct? are they used to elicit a compelling, cohesive story and elicit potential sound bites. the president has done a good job of laying out what we expect these witnesses to say, but this is the first time the american
people are going to be able to hear directly from the witnesses. and so the questions are going to set up, obviously, the answers. and so that's what i'll be looking for. >> the democratic chairman and democratic lawyer will have 45 minutes to ask their questions. and then the republican ranking member and the republican lawyer will have 45 minutes to ask their questions. the republicans, they have to get through the fact that these two witnesses basically agree that there was this so-called quid pro quo. >> yeah, i mean, for the last several weeks we've heard republicans making a lot of arguments that the process was unfair and now they have open hearings and an opportunity to be able to question the witnesses in open session, to be able to ask whatever questions they have. but these witnesses from what we know from their released transcripts from their closed door testimony, they've been relatively consistent on the fact. and the central facts really haven't changed from the release of the july 25th phone call which is that the issue of did
the president withhold aid? did he imply that foreign defense assistance was on the table to get president zelensky of ukraine to conduct investigations into his political opponents? and that's the central facts that we're going to be hearing. >> we're going to be hear a lot from the democrats, ross, that it's very simple. the president of the united states should never have pressured a foreign leader, president zelensky of ukraine, to investigate american citizens. that was inappropriate in exchange for military assistance or a meeting at the white house. >> yeah, and probably more important, what the democrats are probably going to need to set up is that this was done for the president's personal, political gain. it wasn't a foreign policy issue. i think that's where this whole thing is going to wind up breaking out. the democrats are going to say the only reason the president was doing this and his people were doing this was for personal, political gain. at the end of the day, the republicans are going to say,
well, no, there was a personal political benefit that collaterally might have accrued to the president, but he was mostly concerned about foreign policy and the legitimate interests of the u.s. government. i think that's how it's going to go. >> remind our viewers why it's important, to put it mildly, for a president to seek political advantages from foreign leaders. >> this is the difference between a legitimate exercise of the president's authority to conduct foreign affairs and an abuse of that authority. so an abuse of the authority means when he's holding out something that's a foreign affairs or defense ability that he has as president in his institutional role as president and whether or not he is using that as ross says for personal political gain. there is legitimate exercise of foreign affairs authority. and there is using it for personal benefit, which is his own political ability to get re-elected, and that's what is about.
that's an abuse of authority. that's the issue that's impeachable. we have a lot more to cover. we're also watching capitol hill very closely this morning. the first public impeachment hearing set to begin just under two hours from now. i'll speak to a republican on the house judiciary committee. that's coming up next. our special live coverage will continue right after a quick break. i need a ride. here hold this. follow that spud. [ tires screech ] the big idaho potato truck is touring america telling folks about idaho potatoes. and i want it back. what is it with you and that truck? >> tech: so you think this chip is nothing to worry about? well at safelite, we know sooner or later every chip will crack. these friends were on a trip when their windshield got chipped. so they scheduled at safelite.com.
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t. rowe price. invest with confidence. very soon, the first two impeachment inquiry witnesses, diplomats, bill taylor and george kent will be arriving on the hill. after the intelligence committee finishes its public hearings over the next couple weeks it moves to the house judiciary committee where more hearings are expected before a final vote on articles of impeachment against the president of the united states. joining us now, republican congressman mike johnson of louisiana. he sits on the judiciary committee. he's got a lot of responsibilities up there. congressman, thanks for joining us. >> hey, wolf. great to be with you this
morning. >> elet's talk about what the allegations are against the president. do you believe, first of all, it's appropriate for the president of the united states to ask a foreign government, a foreign leader to investigate american political rivals? >> well, here's the thing. we're going to talk about what's appropriate and what's legal, but we have a political show today. this is theater. it literally is. the democrats have been rehearsing this in the basement for weeks. they have a script predetermined and witnesses they cherry picked. they know what they'll say today. it's all based on hearsay. now the camerasor. everyone is here and this is the opening act. the problem is we've seen all this before. we've seen this show before. we saw it with mueller and lewandowski and with the russian collusion hoax, the charade that that was. and the problem here that we all have and we keep saying repeatedly is that this is a predetermined political outcome. >> all right, well let me interrupt -- >> they've been trying to impeach the president since he took office. >> let me repeat the question. is it appropriate for an american president to ask a foreign leader for a political
favor to dig up dirt, as they say, on american citizens? >> i think everyone would suggest that that is not an appropriate thing, but we don't know that that's what's happened here. if you look at the facts, the transcripts, and we have to dig into that because it's all been in secret, of course. adam schiff has leaked what he wanted to leak. but what we do know from the transcripts is that there was no evidence that there was any pressure applied to ukraine. >> all right. well, let's take a look -- >> he said there was no pressure. >> let's look at the rough transcript of that july 25th conversation between the president of the united states and the president of ukraine. among other things in this rough transcrypt, the president says to zelensky, i would like you to do us a favor, though, because our country has been through a lot and ukraine knows a lot about it. i would like you to find out what happened with this whole situation in ukraine. they say crowd strike. then there's ellipses. i guess you have one of your
wealthy people dot, dot, dot, the server. they say ukraine has it. doesn't it sound like he's asking the ukrainian president for help for dirt on the democrats going back to thewd s for example, that server. >> it sounds like president trump is doing exactly what he was elected to do. he's trying to root out corruption. trying to make sure that american taxpayer dollars are spent wisely and not squandered overseas. he's draining the swamp. i was with him this weekend at the alabama/lsu game. thousands of americans come up and say, thank you, mr. president. they're screaming their appreciation while the democrats in washington are trying to impeach him. it's like we're looking at two different sets of facts here. i take that transcript and what you said for what it is. it is the best direct evidence of what was said. the president released the transcript because he has nothing to hide. >> a few seconds later, the president, according to this rough transcript that he himself released, he says this. the other thing, this is what
his conversation with zelensky. the other thing, there's a lot of talk about biden's son. that biden stopped the prosecution and a lot of people want to find out about that. so whatever you can do with the attorney general, referring to bill barr, the american attorney general, would be great. biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution so if you can look into it, then there's nor ellipses, dot, dot, dot, it sounds horrible to me. here the president is clearly asking president zelensky for help in coming up with dirt on the bidens. >> you know what the most important evidence is the only direct conversation that was had and that's ambassador sondland. he asked the president on a phone call, what do you want from ukraine. the president said, quote, i want nothing. i don't want a quid pro quo. i want zelensky to do the right thing. the right thing was to try to root out the corruption of things that happened in the past. he wasn't digging up dirt on his 2020 potential rivals. he's trying to do the job he was elected by the people to do. wolf, i've been practicing law before i came to congress.
i litigated cases for 20 years. i've never seen a process this rigged where the deck was stacked intentionally and the process was rigged to get a predetermined outcome. that's what we're going to see today. >> i understand what you're saying. let's go to ambassador sondland. clearly not a career diplomat, a political appointee. gave $1 million to the trump inaugural committee. he testified under oath but then submitted an addendum through his lawyer saying he wanted to clarify a position. his memory was refreshed in the course of learning what other witnesses were saying, and he then said this. i now recall speaking individually with mr. yermak where i said that resumption of u.s. aid would likely not occur until ukraine provided the public anti-corruption statement that we had been discussing for many weeks. that anti-corruption statement referring to the bidens and the 2016 democrats in the presidential election.
even sondland is suggesting there was this quid pro quo. >> wolf, what we ought to do is demand an anti-corruption statement from every nation in the world we give u.s. taxpayer dollars to. i donts think there's anything extraordinary about that at all. we do know there's no evidence that ukraine thought that the aid was being withheld and the aid did flow. they did nothing in exchange for that. there isn't a quid pro quo. and the two witnesses that will be presented today by the democrats, cherry picked as they are by schiff and his colleagues, are just going to testify conjecture. it's hearsay. it's what they think or what they surmise might have been happening. they never talked to the president himself. >> congressman, you've been generous with your time. we're almost out of time, but the aid began to flow after the whistle-blower complaint went public and everybody knew about it. all of a sudden, the $400 million in defense-related assistance started to flow.
but here's something that i wonder if you want to discuss. if the president was so concerned about the bidens and allegations of corruption or whatever, why did he go to the ukrainians to discuss that? why did he never raise that specific issue with the fbi or the justice department? >> well, you and i don't know that that didn't occur. that's kind of the problem. because this system is so rigged and the process they put together is so rigged, we can't put on -- republicans can't put on our preferred witnesses. we can't get down to the bottom of some of those facts. and there's a lot more to come out. but i think -- >> well, a lot of the witnesses -- i will say this. a lot of the witnesses that you want, the president's top aides like mick mulvaney and others, the white house won't allow those republican of nine to start and we were given three. there's no co-equal subpoena power here. there's no real due process here for the president.
at the end of the day, that's what's frustrating the american people. >> just clarify. did the president go to the fbi and the justice department to seek an investigation of the bidens? >> i don't know. and you don't either and that's part of the problem. >> well, everything -- everything we've reported on and other news organizations have reported on, the answer is, no, the president never did. he went to the ukrainians instead. >> there was no requirement that he go to the fbi or anything. the president speaks frankly and openly often to the american people and everyone else. you often know what's on his mind, and he shares it expressly. and that's why they appreciate the job that he's been doing. i think in the public, i think amongst the vast majority of the american people, they are really sick of this and want us to get back to governing the country and hopefully we can very soon. >> congressman johnson, you've been generous with your time. thanks for joining us on this historic day. >> thank you, wolf. appreciate it. we'll continue to watch all the history unfold. the first public televised impeachment hearing set to begin
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you are looking at live pictures from capitol hill right now. pretty soon diplomats will be entering the house of representatives office building. the house intelligence committee is getting ready to hold these historic meetings. momentarily we'll be seeing a lot of the members arrive as well as the witnesses. ambassador bill taylor and deputy assist act secretary of state george kent. nia-malika henderson is with us.
as we look at the format that has been worked out for today, who has the advantage? >> you know, i think it's pretty equal. i think the advantage in some ways goes to the viewer, right, because you'll not have a situation where either side can kind of hijack this hearing with hijinx, filibustering as we've seen in other hearings like this. i think if you are the democrats, you are happy, a, it's televised. you're happy you'll have lawyers directing the question so you can lay out a real narrative. the key for democrats is simplicity, right? stay away from the sort of legalistic latin arguments we've heard previously. keep it simple. simple language, a clear understanding of what they think happened and why it matters. i think it benefits democrats that they have witnesses here who are willing. if you think about bob mueller, he was a reluctant witness to democrats and here you have people that want to come forward and tell their story.
it's going to be a format that works for both sides. republicans have to make a decision. do they want the sort of filibustering questions that sometimes mark these hearings or are they trying to be essentially poke holes in what democrats are going to try to lay out. >> the pressure is clearly on the democrats right now to deliver because they were deeply disappointed at the robert mueller hearings didn't go exactly the way they anticipated. >> i think that is true. i think there is a lot of pressure there, but i think what they are trying to do as nia says is simplify the case. and say that here's the conversation the president had with president zelensky. these are unimpeachable witnesses we have from the state department who were worried that policy towards ukraine was being corrupted by rudy giuliani upon the direction of the president of the united states who wanted to dig up dirt on a political opponent.
and they can read from that letter what taylor and kent will do as emissaries from the state department. will talk in great detail about how upset and concerned they were about what was happening to united states foreign policy. and they will explain what was really going on inside and how confused they were and how upset ukrainians were at the very top that their aid and their meeting with the president was being held up because of the president's request to dig up dirt on joe biden. >> they have, the democrats, a certain advantage. they spent hours in closed door depositions, sworn statements from these two diplomats, bill taylor and george kent. and so they basically know what they're going to say now before television cameras. >> of course. and that's an advantage and these will be compelling witnesses. i think they'll be highly credible witnesses. i think efforts to tarnish their
reputation will come up short. but i do think there is an advantage for republicans. we know how this ends. we know how it ended when it started. there's not a mystery here. this isn't a who done it or what happened. republicans are kind of going to try to do a number of things which is they may regrettably go after the witnesses and their reputations but they'll probably try to insulate the president. they'll try to argue a broader context about how ukraine got support in the end anyway. and they'll make a case to muddy all of this in a sense to say, look, we're coming up on an election year. if you find this so offensive, then vote the guy out of office, but we shouldn't impeach him. that's going to be really difficult for democrats to deal with. and i'll be very interested to see how the public responds to all of this in live hearings to see if that sense of public opinion moves. i really don't know how it will go. >> and they are going to say inappropriate but not impeachable, and it will drive the president crazy.
>> that's right. >> because he says the conversation was perfect. >> perfect, right. so it will drive him crazy and so there are some who may decide they'll not say inappropriate anymore because they don't want to do that and they don't want to get the president upset. but they are a little boxed in about how they explain this phone call. one way they'll do is they'll say, well, you know, this was all about corruption. except for one thing. and the phone call, the president never mentioned the word corruption. >> it's important for viewers watching this to know that everybody -- there's nobody who in washington can say with a straight face this was appropriate. this was really egregious conduct on the part of the president and others around him to conduct the call this way, separate question.eachable is a you can argue elements of this. but i think the battle lines are drawn andere this was a good id. >> you look so far at where public opinion is, democrats have gone a long way in terms of moving the public to their side. it's essentially 50/50 in terms
of whether or not people think the president should stay in office or should be impeached and removed from office. maybe about 15% to 20% still undecided. need more information. and this is where this hearing comes in, in terms of changing people's minds. >> everybody stick around. there's a lot more we need to assess. a lot more we need to discuss. we're awaiting today's public televised hearing to begin. can democrats make their case to the american people, and what will it mean for the president of the united states? we'll ask two people who have been through the impeachment process before. much more of our special coverage right after this. i need a ride.
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bill taylor, deputy assistant secretary of state george kent, to lead off these historic hearings? >> because their credentials are impeccable. and i think that they will start to make the case that what you had here was, in john's case, a third rate bribery in the watergate hearing. this was a third rate burglary. this is a third rate bribery case. and i think these two very well credentialed diplomats will be able to make the case that what this was, was essentially a solicitation of a bribe by the president of the united states. >> what do you think? >> good points. they were willing to come forward. the foreign services is playing a very unique role here. they have the knowledge. the background. they certainly have the credentials. and they are making powerful witnesses. >> the argument that republicans will make that both of these witnesses said they didn't have any direct contact, they didn't have conversations about any of this specifically with the president. only other officials. >> it's a good argument to a small degree. there are more exceptions to the
hearsay rule that are played every day in courtrooms and could play in an impeachment proceeding where the fact that you don't have the direct conversation but the circumstances create the validity of the testimony, it's just as strong as direct conversations. >> what do you think? >> i think you'll continually hear that theme by republicans. i think they'll continually push democrats to show evidence of the president actually saying i wanted this bribery screen to go through. and i think you'll hear that. the other thing you'll hear from republicans is the inherent power argument that you may think that this effort was corrupt but the president has the inherent power to go after corruption in ukraine or anywhere else if he thinks there's corruption. it's a subjective decision as to whether you think it's corrupt or legitimate. i think you'll hear the inherent argument as well. inherent power argument as well. i don't think either of these arguments are very strong, but, you know, i think another important point to make here is when john testified before the
senate in 1974, 80 million people tuned in. when you are going to see these hear,s this morning. you're likely too see 10, 12 million people tune in. it's a very indifferent environment. we don't have the public square that we had in 1974 and 1998. everybody is constantly distracted on their cell phones. we live in a digital environment of self-reinforcing social media bubbles. it's a very different environment today. it's much harder to prosecute a case in the public square than it was in 1974, even 1998. so what the republicans are counting on is being able to say the president has the inherent power and what they're also counting on is that people are too distracted so that you can't move public opinion from 50%, where it is right now to 60%, 65%. >> a big difference between then during the nixon impeachment process and even the bill clinton impeachment process and now is that at that time, you had bipartisan support for this kind of inquiry to begin. right now you don't have any
bipartisan support. you just have democrats, all the republicans voted against beginning this investigation. >> it was slow, wolf. one of the odd reactions i had personally as a result of my testimony was people coming up to me after my testimony and saying, we enjoyed your show. and i didn't get what they were talking about. didn't realize for a few years -- actually until iran/contra it hit me that there's a theatrical aspect to this. that could well play today. these are very good players, if you will. and there is that aspect. and that makes a huge -- that's good for story telling. good for understanding what's happening. and that's one of the aspects i think is going to surface today. >> because what he is suggesting is one thing to read hundreds of pages of testimony and depositions. it's another thing to see someone say it on television. >> sure. and again, the question is how many people are tuning in. i'm very -- >> there will be millions. >> all the networks, people are going to be watching this.
they'll be streaming it. people will watch it on their iphones. >> are we getting 10 million, 15 million, 30 million? i think there is that question. but i think, for sure, when you see credible diplomats that have served this country for decades coming before the congress and saying this was a bribery scheme that the president was engaged in and not only engaged in this scheme but trying to involve scores of administration officials from the state department, the diplomatic corps, the white house, i think that begins to be a rather compelling case. >> i want you guys both to stand by as well. julian epstein, john dean. we'll have a lot more on all of this. the first witnesses will arrive shortly on capitol hill for the impeachment hearing. you're looking at live pictures coming in from capitol hill. up next, i'll speak to the former director of national intelligence, james clapper. he has strong views on what we're about to see. >> tech: don't wait for a chip like this to crack your whole windshield.
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welcome back. moments from now, bill taylor and george kent, two men at the center of today's impeachment hearing, they are expected to arrive on capitol hill. meanwhile, "the washington post" is reporting that two giuliani associates, lev parnas and igor fruman, both indicted, met with president trump at an exclusive event in april of 2018 and then pressured the president to fire the then-u.s. ambassador to ukraine, marie yovanovitch. joining us now, the former director of national intelligence, james clapper. thanks so much, general clapper, for joining us. if that "washington post" is accurate that these two individuals, both of whom are now facing criminal charges, encouraged the president to fire this longtime u.s. diplomat, what does it say to you? >> well, obviously, it illustrates that the president's fixation on ukraine was longer
than just the 25 july phone call. and this plot is thicker and longer and that the effort may have been the genesis of the move to eventually remove the ambassador. so this has been going on longer than had previously thought, if this is accurate. >> if it's accurate. the president, as you know, insists he doesn't know these two individuals at all. listen to this. >> i don't know those gentlemen. it's possible i have a picture with them because i have a picture with everybody. i don't know them. i don't know about them. i don't know what they do. but i don't know. maybe they were clients of rudy. you'd have to ask rudy. >> they were definitely rudy giuliani associates. there were plenty of pictures, not just one or two, but a whole bunch of pictures. these two would show up at various events and have front row seats. >> in fact, again, if the
reporting is accurate, they had actually had a dinner together. so, i mean, this is the all too familiar pattern of, you know, somebody gets hot. the president attempts to distance himself from any association with them. we've seen this before. >> you were the director of national intelligence. is there any doubt at all tt russia interfered in the 2016 election because, as you know, some of the president's supporters, including the president himself, suggested it wasn't really russia. it was ukraine. >> no. it was russia. it was absolutely no contemporaneous information, intelligence of any sort indicating it was other than russia. it wasn't the 400-pound guy in his bed in new jersey, it wasn't china and now it wasn't ukraine. it was russia. and if you need proof of that, read volume one of mueller. >> of his report. he makes it clear, including the president's own current fbi director christopher wray, they all agree the same thing.
so why do you think the president, some of the president's allies are suggesting, you know, it was really ukraine? >> well, i think -- >> the goal was to help hillary clinton and hurt him. >> not only the president's alli allies, it's the president himself -- >> the conspiracy theory is discredited. >> skeptical about, you know, pour cold water on the russian interference because, of course, that casts doubt on the legitimacy of his election. he reacted that way when we briefed him in january of 2017 on our intelligence community assessment. but again, wolf, it was russia. >> you know, and i think everybody agrees except for a few people it was russia. but the russian goal in this, and it's included in the intelligence assessments, was to sow political dissent in the united states. that was seen by putin and his associates as something that would benefit russia if there was a huge political debate here in the united states.
so from their perspective, if that was their goal, mission accomplished. >> oh, absolutely. and that was the initial goal was to sow doubt, discord and distrust in this country and capitalize on our polarization and divisiveness. unfortunately, we are a very ripe target for them. so from the russian perspective, this is a huge win for them. and putin's mind, i believe, what this does is compensate for many other russian weaknesses by weakening us, which they have succeeded in doing. >> the whole notion of this political dissent in the united states, we're seeing it today. very partisan bickering over all sorts of issues. but a huge hearing about to take place. the democrats on one side. the republicans on another side. the russians are looking at this and saying -- >> well, they're happy. putin's got to be very happy about this because, again, this is something he's been working
at for a long time. sow doubt, discord, divisiveness in this country and to exploit it. so for him, this is a huge win. and i noted with, you know, actually i was sad to see the foreign minister lavrov during an interview kind of joke about interfering in the 2020 election, which again, they will do as well as others who will go to school on what the russians did in 2016. >> so they're sitting back. i have that clip. let me quickly play that clip of sergey lavrov, the russian foreign minister joking about all of this. >> the presidential elections are coming up in 2020. so how is russia getting ready for that? >> we'll resolve the problem, don't worry. >> he's having a good time in all of this. >> this is not unlike the president himself. our president, joking with putin about not interfering -- interference in the election in 2020. it's a joke. >> when he was in helsinki, he
decided with the russians, with putin, as opposed to the u.s. intelligence community. i was there listening to that joint news conference. general clapper, thanks for coming in. you're watching cnn's breaking news of the first televised impeachment hearing into president trump's tenure. our live coverage continues right after this. rm beeping) welcome to our busy world. where we all want more energy. but with less carbon footprint. can we have both? at bp, we're working every day to make energy that's cleaner and better. and we see possibilities everywhere. to make energy that's cleaner and better. there's just something different to a disney movie. (vo) verizon knows you love all things disney. i think we've watched every single movie at least twice. four times. 100 times. (vo) that's why your unlimited plan now comes with disney+ on us for a year. because the network more people rely on gives you more. here's the story of green mountain coffee roasters costa rica paraíso. meet sergio. and his daughter, maria. sergio's coffee tastes spectacular. because costa rica is spectacular. so we support farmers who use natural compost. to help keep the soil healthy. and the coffee delicious. for future generations.
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...but dedication can get you there. so just start small... start saving. easily set, track and control your goals right from the chase mobile® app. ♪ ♪ chase. make more of what's yours®. good morning. i'm wolf blitzer in washington. we want to welcome our viewers here in the united states and around the world. in the next hour, history will unfold up on capitol hill as open impeachment hearings begin in the house of representatives. president trump becomes only the fourth u.s. president in american history to face impeachment. the testimony of today's two witnesses could be the most crucial for democrats. did the president and his