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tv   Erin Burnett Out Front  CNN  November 13, 2019 4:00pm-5:00pm PST

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investigation that speaks to the gravity of this moment and what it could mean potentially for president trump, the future for the presidency and for the nation. as this historic process continues in the days and weeks ahead, we'll be there every step of the way. erin burnett "out front" starts right now. this is cnn breaking news. good evening. i'm erin burnett. out front tonight, breaking news. a major revelation during today's first public impeachment hearing of president trump. trump himself overheard talking about the investigations and ukraine. bill taylor, the top u.s. diplomat in ukraine and george kent, the deputy assistant secretary of state testified today for about six hours. taylor providing this crucial new evidence. here he is telling lawmakers about a phone call which took place one day after trump asked for a favor from the president of ukraine when zelensky brought up military aid. >> in the presence of
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at a restaurant, ambassador sondland called president trump and told him of his meetings in kiev. a member of a staff could hear prdz on the phone asking ambassador sondeland about the investigations. mr. sondland told president trump that the ukranians were ready to move forward. >> taylor then revealing what took place immediately after ambassador sondland, that, of course, is gordon sondland and ambassador to the eu right after he hung up with president trump. >> and i think you said that after the call when your staff asked ambassador sondland what president trump thought of ukraine, his response was that president trump cares more about the investigations of biden, is that right? >> and burisma, yes, sir. >> um, and i -- i take it the import of that is that he cares more about that than he does about ukraine? >> yes, sir. >> trump today was asked about this new revelation, right,
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about this phone call and what he told ambassador gordon sondland. here's what president trump said. >> i know you've spent time glued to the tv today, but there was one moment when ambassador bill taylor recanted a conversation that an aide of his, and it was the day after the phone call with zelensky on july the 26th in which the aide says that he overheard you say to sondland how are things going with the proceeding with the investigations? sondland repeated back to you according to this aide, that ukraine was prepared to do everything that you wanted it to do. was that -- is that reccorrect do you know -- >> i know nothing about that. the one thing i've seen that sondland said was that he did speak to me for a brief moment and i said no quid pro quo under any circumstances and the other, i've never heard this. in any event it's more secondhand information, but i've
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never heard it. >> do you recall having a conversation? >> i don't recall. no, not at all. not even a little bit. >> not even a little bit. not even a little bit does he recall speaking to sondland and knows nothing about it, but he does seem to remember telling sondland no quid pro quo? more out front with more on the historic testimony today. >> the momentous hearing gavelled into session. >> the impeachment inquiry into donald j. trump. >> ambassador bill taylor, trump's top diplomat in ukraine and george kent, a deputy assistant secretary of state laying out what they saw and heard as the trump administration held up military aid while demanding investigations into trump's political enemies. >> the odd push to make president zelensky publicly commit to investigations of burisma and alleged interference in the 2016 election showed how the official foreign policy of the united states was undercut by the irregular efforts led by mr. giuliani. >> reporter: taylor and kent testifying that rudy giuliani, the president's personal lawyer,
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was leading what taylor called a highly irregular channel with ukraine. >> what interests do you believe he was promoting, mr. kent? >> i believe he was looking to dig up political dirt against a potential rival in the next election cycle. >> i agree with mr. kent. >> both men making clear how unsettled they were with the rogue ukraine policy and the demands on the ukrainians. >> it's one thing to try to leverage a meeting in the white house. it's another thing, i thought, to leverage security assistance, security assistance to a country at war dependent on both the security assistance and the demonstration of support. it was -- it was much more alarming. >> as a general principle i do not believe the united states should ask other countries to
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engage in selective, politically associated investigations or prosecutions against opponents of those in power because such selective actions undermine the rule of law regardless of the country. >> republicans led by ranking member of the intelligence committee devin nunes blasted the hearing and the gop united that the president never actually demanded investigations. >> i think one of the mothers of all conspiracy theorys is that somehow the president of the united states would want a country that he doesn't even like and doesn't want to give foreign aid to to have the ukrainians start an investigation into bidens. >> jim jordan of ohio who was added to the intelligence committee for the sole purpose of questioning the impeachment witnesses making the point that taylor and kent never actually spoke with the president. >> you're their star witness. you're their first witness. >> you're the guy -- you're the guy based on this, based on -- i mean, i've seen church prayer change that are easier to
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understand than this. ambassador taylor recalls that mr. morrison told, and i hereby swear and affirm from gordon sondland. ambassador taylor recalls that that i conveyed this message on september 1st. kent and taylor were steadfast that hundreds of millions of dollars of crucial security aid and a meeting between the presidents in washington were held back unless ukraine promised the investigation. >> mr. kent, is pressuring ukraine to conduct what i believe you've called political investigations a part of u.s. foreign policy to promote the rule of law in ukraine and around the world? >> it is not. >> is it in the national interest of the united states? >> in my opinion, it does not. >> taylor calling it crazy. >> security was so important for ukraine as well as our own national interest to withhold that assistance for no good reason other than help with a
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political campaign made no sense. it was -- it was counterproductive to all of what we have been trying to do. it was illogical, could not be explained. it was crazy. >> this hearing, of course, was just the beginning. there are nine more people scheduled to testify in open hearings. next up on friday is marie yovanovitch, the former u.s. ambassador to ukraine who was recalled by the president in may after what she called a concerted campaign against her by giuliani and his associates. yovanovitch is expected to speak more to the partisan game that she said she watched unfold in ukraine, and erin, also on friday that aide to ambassador taylor, david holmes who overheard that call between the president and ambassador gordon sondland, he will also be testifying, but behind closed doors. >> thank you very much, alex. and out front now, one of the democratic congressmen on the intelligence committee who questioned the witnesses today,
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denny hack. i appreciate your time. so here we are, six hours, two witnesses in. are you satisfied with what happened at the public hearing today? >> well, it's just the beginning, right, erin? and the rest of america is being given an opportunity to learn what we learned during those many weeks of depositions behind closed doors. i thought the two gentlemen presented themselves very credibly and one george kent, a 27-year veteran of the foreign service and quite distinguished and of course, ambassador taylor who is a west point graduate. in fact, we learned he graduated fifth out of 100 and a vietnam veteran and a distinguished career in the foreign service and they made a compelling and clear case as they had in the depositions and my hope going forward, frankly is that as many americans as possible will tune in and evaluate this. i ask them to keep an open mind and take in this information because the fact of the matter is there is a mountain of evidence. >> so do you think anything happened in that room today that
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will actually move the needle for americans who are tuning in for the first time or americans who may support the president and are tuning in for the first time or perhaps, congressman, are any republican senators who are trying to keep an open mind on which way they'll vote? >> absolutely. i thought going into today there were three buckets and those that haven't tuned in at all and they would have an opportunity to hear and see this for themselves and i thought it was compelling and second, there are people who have been paying close attention and that's just ink on a page. they got to see and hear from two very incredible witnesses and i thought the last chance would happen is that new information would be revealed and there was a mini bombshell when ambassador taylor revealed that his aide, actually, literally overheard ambassador sondland and president trump the day after the july 25th phone call in which president trump inquired the investigations and that's a bit of a smoking gun,
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erin. >> david holmes, he is scheduled to be deposed by closed doors by your committee on friday opinion here's, i guess, the key question on this. we've had the testimony behind closed doors with taylor, you had it and you released the transcript and this is completely new information, do you have any idea why holmes did not come forward with this information sooner? >> well, i know that ambassador taylor just learned about it within the last week and that's why he revealed it. no, i have no idea. that would be one of many, many questions that we'll ask mr. holmes and mostly, we want to hear from him exactly what it is he heard in that phone call between ambassador sondland and president trump in which president trump again inquired about the investigations. >> all right. so president trump as i mentioned was asked about that call with sondland which holmes overheard and i want to play a part of what the president said when he was asked if he remembered this conversation with gordon sondland. here he is.
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>> not at all. not even a little bit. the only thing, and i guess sondland stayed with his testimony that there was no quid pro quo. pure and simple. >> is it possible he doesn't remember? >> well, listen, erin. here's what we do know. he's instructed everybody around him that he can exercise authority not to come forward. he has prohibited the state department and others from providing the documentation and the documents that the house intelligence committee duly subpoenaed. what we know is that he is trying to stonewall this thing from beginning to end. so it would not be consistent for him not to remember and to do that when -- if any of those people, frankly, had exculpatory information and information that would cast him in a more innocent light. he would be driving them himself
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to connect them to the witness care. that's not what he's doing. >> from a legal perspective, it may not matter whether we hear from the president's mouth or not, and yet we haven't until this phone call that's been overheard which you'll get more testimony about it, but everything else has been -- someone had a conversation with gordon sonde loond, right? or some instances they're saying he lied period. >>ier in, what you say is not true. the memorandum of call, the transcript. >> in which he asked for a favor. so far, we've gotten people saying gordon sondland said it to him and rudy giuliani, and we haven't heard it from the president himself other than the transcript. >> erin -- erin, it is an interesting legal standard which would suggest if anyone was ever arrested or indicted for a crime unless there was videotape evidence of them committing the crime they could never, ever be
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convicted and of course that's not the case. >> what i said is legally you may not need that. i don't know if you heard how i said it, legally you may not need it and it's what republicans are pointing to. you heard that again and again today. you heard jim jordan quote from a piece of testimony from taylor, right? where taylors i had a conversation with that person and i had a conversation with that person and they're using that against him and this was a game of a church conversation, i believe, jim jordan called it. is that a problem for you in the eye of the public? >> erin, they're going to use any excuse they can to defend the president as they have from day one without an open mind and getting at the truth and letting the facts speak for themselves. there is a mountain of evidence, a mountain of evidence to suggest that the president did it. it's compelling and inarguable. there is more evidence than the
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sun will rise in the east tomorrow. >> i appreciate your time. >> next, how bill taylor's testimony completely contradicts this -- >> let me just tell you, i hardly know the gentleman. >> plus, publicly, president trump says he's not watching the impeachment hearings. >> are you talking about the witch hunt? is that what you mean? is that what you're talking about? i hear it's a joke. >> but what's really happening behind closed doors and all eyes now turning to ambassador gordon sondland's testimony. could trump's hand picked ambassador, his campaign donor be his biggest threat? wow! that's ensure max protein, with high protein and 1 gram sugar. it's a sit-up, banana! bend at the waist! i'm tryin'! keep it up. you'll get there. whoa-hoa-hoa! 30 grams of protein, and one gram of sugar. ensure max protein.
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welcome to fowler, indiana. home to three of bp's wind farms. which, every day, generate enough electricity to power over 150,000 homes. and of course, fowler. at bp, we see possibilities everywhere. tonight, all roads lead to president trump, that is how house intelligence committee chairman adam schiff is describing the revelation from bill taylor, the top u.s. diplomat to ukraine, though one
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of his aides overheard president trump discuss a possible ukraine investigation of the bidens with ambassador gordon sondland. >> but what this call indicates as other testimony has likewise indicated is that instructions are coming from the president on down. are we prepared to say that asking a foreign nation now to intervene in our elections is something that is a perk of the office of the presidency? i don't think we can allow that to be the new normal, acceptable in any way, shape or form. >> out front now, chief national security correspondent, jim sciutto and abby philip and former assistant fbi director and republican state senator of nevada greg bower and ambassador mcildowney and served in the state department for 31 years and has known bitaylor for 25 years and david axelrod, senior adviser to president obama and now host of "the axe files" and
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laura coates. you'll be with us for the hour. let's start with your phone call and the one bucket he didn't expect there to be anything in is we learned something new today and this was very gnaw. how significant is this phone call which was overheard between the president and gordon sondland? >> i would agree with congressman hack. i wasn't expecting anything new, not like that today, but i think it is significant. the july 25th summary of the call puts the president right in the middle of this quid pro quo deal, but the new testimony gives us an additional piece of evidence that ambassador sondland will have to clarify and it certainly puts the president, if not in the middle, beyond the middle. he's actually working it himself and he's not just aware of it and he's not just talking to the president of ukraine about it and he's talking to ambassador sondland. >> it's a follow-up call and directing it and very hands on which is what we would expect from the president based upon the way we know he likes to talk
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about how he handles things and how he does business. >> taylor made it clear that sondland said that president trump's focus was on biden in this overheard phone call. here's what he said. >> and i think you said that after the call when you staff asked ambassador sondland what president trump thought of ukraine, his response was that president trump cares more about the investigations of biden, is that right? >> and burisma, yes, sir. >> and i take it, the import of that is he cares more about that than he does about ukraine? >> yes, sir. >> david, was this a big deal? >> oh, there's no question about it. i mean, because unless you get john bolton or unless you get mulvaney, there aren't many people who were talking directly to the president about this. sondland was and here you have someone, not the ambassador, but his aide who was reporting on a
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conversation in which the president was checking up on the caper here and after sondland reflected his view of the president's attitude which was the bidens were the key thing. it really puts enormous pressure on sondland. i mean, his testimony is going to be the single most important aspect of this because of the fact that he played this central role. >> and he's the one talking to the president. abby, you know what's interesting about this is sondland is the president's hand-picked ambassador and perhaps they weren't great friends in the past and sondland was a million-dollar donor and his hand picked ambassador and when sondeland was on team trump on this the president called him a great american and highly respected and when sondland admitted there was a quid pro quo. here's trump before the quid pro quo and after. >> the text message that i saw from ambassador sondland who is highly respected was there's no
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quid pro quo. he said that. >> let me just tell you, i hardly know the gentleman. >> that's a classic trump move. he only does this with people that he once knew that he wishes that he no longer knew, but in this case, it is so clear that sondland is at the center of this and he was put at the center of it, yes, he was the president's hand picked eu ambassador, but he was also hand picked for a special assignment that was not within his purview as eu ambassador and he was assigned to do the situation with ukraine along with rudy giuliani and clearly, this is not the first conversation that we know about that sondland has had with the president and it is at least the second so you can only imagine that there are probable other conversations that we don't know about and speaking of the pressure this puts sondland under. he has proven himself to not have been truthful, on the record in his first
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congressional. >> he's clarified once. he's clearly going to have to clarify a second time and now the pressure is on. how many more of these clarifications are there going to be before we get the full truth and the full picture from the person who was dealing directly with the president. >> i know it's the president and rudy giuliani, and then the other person that he knew well enough, his million dollar donor and his hand-picked guy to call and check in on his caper as david said or direct. >> he's one pretty high-level coffee boy, given that he was trump's appointee to be ambassador of eu and hundred of billions of dollars in economic strength and high-level role and million dollars and as abby said he was entrusted who was a priority for the president which was pursuing an alternate foreign policy track via his personal lawyer and the eu. ukraine is not in the eu and it is outside of his job and it's just preposterous to claim that
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he didn't know what he was up to given that we know that the president was speaking to him and that there were updates from the day after to see where these investigations stood. >> laura, you know, one thing that's important on this and i know congressman heck was stirring t threading the needle that you don't need the president of the united states' direct voice on this because it is clear what he did and this does put his direct voice on that and in terms of public opinion and in talking points of hearsay it could be very significant. >> it is. you don't need the direct evidence. it's very compelling and persuasive and i as a prosecutor if i was in a court of law would want that to really meet my burden of proof, but here's the thing, if the only reason i can't give you that direct testimony, erin, is because you are stonewalling and not allowing the people who have information perhaps john bolton or mick mulvaney or someone like gordon sondland then you can't tell me that i can't meet my
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burden of proof, and with sondland in particular, he didn't clarify after the fact. he also clarified when he spoke to ambassador bill taylor. how? when he said, you know what? i was actually mistaken, bill taylor. it's not just the white house meeting that is at issue here. it's everything. so he clarified in favor of a point that actually scores a particular area in a category for the democrat who were looking toward impeaching the area. >> ambassador, was there something else that happened today that seemed quite extraordinary. it was just a level of detail. we know a lot about bill taylor, right? his decades of service and his service in vietnam and his reputation is pristine and he shared something extraordinary about that cable, the cable he sent, secretary of state mike pompeo in which he expressed his deep concerns about aid to ukraine being held up. here's that exchifrange. have you ever sent a cable like that in how many times in your 40 or 50 years have you sent a
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cable to the secretary of state? >> once. >> this time? >> yes, sir. >> in 50 years. >> commanders don't send cables, but yes, sir. >> ambassador, you know taylor very well. what does he say that he says in his career. one time, one time in his career, does he go to tsending cable and it was to mike pompeo and it was about the ukrainian aid. >> it says two things about him, he's a very meticulous, very careful professional. you could see that throughout the course of his testimony where he took meticulous notes, was very precise in wording and dates. bill is not someone who speaks in broad brush. he speaks in great, meticulous, precise detail. he had to have been so concerned, so troubled by what he saw, what he was learning that was unfolding with giuliani and sondland and volker that he felt compelled to lay out in
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this unprecedented move which is a cable that goes directly to the secretary of state. we know for certain when these things happen that the secretary reads it and it tends to go to the white house as well as to the pentagon so a number of senior officials in the administration must have seen this cable, and during his closed testimony, bill said that he understood that pompeo had taken a copy of that message to the white house. so it's an exceptional step that conveys his very, very deep concern. >> right. and pompeo again, someone to laura's point who has been held back by the administration in terms of speaking who also would have had many direct conversations with the president. all of you are staying with me. next the republican attorney zeroing in on hunter biden like this. >> was huntered by kn biden a c governance expert? >> i have no idea. >> did that work? plus republicans were not happy with their lawyer who did the
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president trump claiming he did not watch the impeachment hearings, but he did not hold back on commenting about the investigation. >> are you talking about the witch hunt? is that what you mean? is that what you're talking about? i hear it's a joke. i haven't watched. i haven't watched for one minute because i've been with the president because this is much more important as far as i'm concerned. this is a sham, and it shouldn't be allowed. it was a situation that was caused by people that shouldn't have allowed it to happen.
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>> kaitlan collins is out front and she's at the white house. kaitlan, that's the public face of the president. what's really going on behind the scenes? erin, and the president did have several meetings with the turkish president today that kept him away from the tv, but he was being kept apprised on what was happening and what the witnesses were saying about him by aides inside the white house and when he was asked by the revelation of bill taylor during the phone call asking about the status of the investigations that he wanted some people in the white house were caught off-guard. they hadn't heard anything about the conversation. they were aren't expecting anything new like that about bill taylor because they thought a lot of the public hearings were just what you had heard behind closed doors and he was told by that aide since he testified behind closed doors and that's something new and that's the feeling that the white house has been used to since they don't have anyone present in the closed-door depositions and they're waiting to hear what the witnesses are going to say. the president is being kept
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updated and they are having the calls with surrogates and they had one shortly before the hearings got kicked off and that's something that they expect to keep happening over the next few days as the president is waiting for marie yovanovitch's testimony on friday. people in the white house were more concerned about bill taylor and the president has been bringing up the former u.s. ambassador to ukraine more often and that is something that they'll be keeping an eye on as they're waiting to see how these developments go and what happens next. >> thank you very much, kaitlan. everyone is back with me. david, publicly, you know, you hear the president dismissing the hearings and others in the white house are also publicly saying the hearings were boring. they were. trump said he didn't watch a single minute. is this the right message to send? >> well, i think it's a better message than him live tweeting it which is what a lot of people anticipated that he would do, but clearly, they have to be concerned about it. i mean, the storyline is a
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terrible fact pattern for him and you could tell it was a terrible fact pattern by watching the arguments that the republicans were putting out that were not going to the main point which was that the president had this call, that the aid was held up and there was a lot of conversation that suggested why it was being held up, you know, there were process arguments being made and there were arguments about president obama and there were arguments about hunter biden, but you know, they don't really have a good answer to the main argument, and i think that that has to be concerning to everybody at the white house. >> so to your point on some of those arguments, laura, one key republican talking point that we heard again and again today was okay, so what about whatever he did because the reality is ukraine eventually got the aid and there wasn't an investigation so here's congressman john ratcliffe makes that point. >> you have to ask yourself what did president zelensky actually do to get the aid.
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the answer is nothing. he did nothing. he didn't open any investigations. he didn't call attorney general bill baer. he didn't do anything that house democrats say that he was being forced and coerced and threatened to do. he didn't do anything because he didn't have to. >> now, laura, this should be clear, the aid that was held up, it was ordered to be held up in july. it wasn't released until september 11th which was after the whistle-blower report had been filed and there was bipartisan outrage about the aid, right? it would appear that was the reason the aid was released and not because there was no quid pro quo. does this gop talking point have any air in it? no. i think it was also after he had scheduled an interview with this very network, i believe, as well so he had presumably met some of the conditions he had to meet in order to get the aid. >> zelensky was supposed to give
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an interview on cnn announcing this investigation. of course, erin, that would mean that every single attempt-related crime would just go out the window because if i said to you, i'd like to pay you money to commit a crime and maybe to kill somebody's spouse and you would do it and get prosecuted for it, there is a whole line of cases that a crime to endeavor to do something is actually a crime and a legislator who is in charge of making the law should know that. this is essentially a big way of saying, you know what? it's the same talking point of either a, get over it, we heard from mulvaney or b, it may be inappropriate, but it's not impeachable given the fact that we know that crimes exist and that would constitute a crime even if they did not act on it. it's not an axe buice of power. >> they tried various talking points and perhaps that was why
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as we were reporting the gop said the counsel was effective and they were trying to make point points in different ways. president trump did more for ukraine than president obama because of the javelins. how's that? >> was hunter biden a corporate governance expert. >> i have no idea what he says. is he the jeffrey sonnenfeld of the ukraine? >> i have no awareness or knowledge of what his background was and what he may have done on the board. >> so you don't know whether he has any business experience in ukraine prior to joining burisma's board? >> i've heard nothing about prior experience. no. >> do you know if he speaks ukrainian? >> i do not. >> obviously, that wasn't the javelin sound bite, but that was the other point which was to go in on hunter biden. was that effective? >> the biden point? >> yeah. >> separate from the -- let me say something about the javelin. >> it is true that the obama administration did not legal aid to ukraine and under trump the
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u.s. did provide that aid. both the military assistance to ukraine that was delayed while trump was seeking the investigation of biden, but also the javelins. to be clear that was money passed by congress and to be clear what we now know is both those forms of crucial military aid to ukraine which was fighting a war with russia which has killed 13,000 ukrainians were delayed by this president, one to demand a political investigation or a politically motivated investigation to joe biden and the javelins, we now know from the testimony were delayed by mick mulvaney to december 2018 because he was worried about a negative reaction from russia. i've covered this story for months and years and whenever i pressed on trump's response to russia and ukraine i would hear from republicans or the administration is javelins and ukraine assistance. both those things were delayed by this administration in the face of opposition by congress bipartisan support and one for the biden investigation and the other because they were worried
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about russian reaction to it. so the fact, as often have to undermine the argument. >> which gets back at the point when you get to this military aid, right? it had been approved by congress and this was the president in charge. >> without telling congress. >> they thought it was some procedural delay which now we know it was something else, which is why i kant understand why republicans in congress who approved that aid weren't surprised it was withheld. they should have been all over this. he did inquire with ambassador sondland, what's going on here? going back to the attempt issue. this is all about an attempt to pull off this scheme. >> back to the point where they say it actually was released without the investigation so who cares? >> congressman ratcliffe is a former prosecutor and we served as u.s. attorneys together. he's a good lawyer. i guarantee you, he has prosecuted many conspiracy to commit crimes in his career so
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he knows and we all know that you don't actually have to pull off the entire criminal scheme to be guilty. this is an attempt case. >> ambassador, what do you make of the sound bite i just played about hunter biden. that was the general counsel or the counsel who was asking the question on behalf of republicans and drilling down on hunter biden's lack of experience and not living in ukraine and the amount of money he was being paid and not speaking the language. was that effective at all? >> i don't think it was. i think it was part of the republican effort to sort of throw chaff in the air and throw a bun of things up and see what is possibly going to land and when george kent answered those questions as we saw just now he said no, he had no knowledge, but any evidence that biden had done something wrong was completely lacking, and so it was a part of this continued effort that they had made to say nothing happened and there was only a second or third hand. the other thing besides the
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crime that i believe was committed, there's been very serious damage to our national security as well as to our credibility around the world. rule of law in both countries are with the lavish scheme. >> he didn't even watch him in it. jamie gangel was reporting that he was sent six to seven e-mails an hour and there were six hours of this and the members were inundated they complained and one telling him, one wrote backstop spamming me. what does that say to you that it was an onslaught. >> they may have overshot the mark here. this was the white house's attempt to convince republicans on the hill that they're on top of this, that they have a plan and they're not just going to kind of wing it as they have in the past and they set up pretty hastily a pseudowar room effort to get kind of rapid response to all of this and they clearly did a little bit too much, but you have to imagine that if
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republicans on the hill felt that these e-mails were helpful and they must have felt that the content of the e-mails were not advancing their interests or helping them defend the president in a useful way, so i think it's very interesting that that was the reaction to -- from the house republican because many of them have complained in the past that they don't get enough communication from the white house at times like this and this is the white house's attempt to fix that and it was clearly according to jamie's reporting not at all. >> and they were not paying attention to the hearings and the president said he wants to pay attention and they had a whole operation and the participants with e-mails and they were paying attention. >> next, the high-stakes impeachment hearing and the next one is less than 48 hours away and that is when the former ambassador to ukraine who was removed by trump, she will testify. they were center stage during today's impeachment hearing. so who are these guys? managing lipids
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tonight, trump's hand picked ambassador to the eu gordon sondland, he's got a lot of explaining to do because obviously he's been a major
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trump ally and donor to the president and he will testify next wednesday, but he was central and he was sort of the elephant in the room. ambassador bill taylor saying sondland was on the call with president trump and president trump was everheard by somebody talking loudly through the phone asking for an update on investigations and according to taylor, trump told sondland also that he cares more about investigations into biden than about ukraine. so everyone is back with me. laura, sondeland obviously, he's been central to this from the beginning, right? he flew in from brussels as ambassador to the eu for his first testimony and he said the white house said don't go, and he did show up and he completed edited and changed his closed-door testimony and he remembered that there was a quid pro quo which he didn't remember the first time, and now there's this whole phone call where the president's asking about investigations and he didn't mention that. we've not heard that from gordon sondland. >> it would be surprising to give the benefit of the doubt to
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one major epiphany, erin, but to have two major epiphanies would be an oddity, nonetheless. he's the lynchpin and the person to where republican talking points were saying you've never heard anyone have a direct conversation with president trump. he clarified a point that it was conditioned on not just the white house meet, but also everything in terms of being in the box and also had the epiphany of it being a quid pro quo, and spent five hours to get back to bill taylor on the question of whether it was a quid pro quo and had the direct conversation and he is the person who as one person can disrupt that entire talking point. >> a key republican talking point today was that taylor and kent, obviously, the assistant secretary who was there today, they were based on hear and not direct conversations with president trump. here's how jim jordan put it. >> you didn't listen to president trump's call and president zelensky's call? >> did not.
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>> you never spoke to mull vainy? >> that's correct. >> and you had meetings that didn't come up. >> and two of those they'd never heard of it as far as i know. >> president zelensky never made an announcement. this is what i can't believe and you're their star witness and you're the first witness and you're the guy, based on this, i've seen church prayer change that are easier to understand than this. >> let me just say that i don't consider myself a star witness for anything. >> david, here's the thing. it's not just that when taylor says has been corroborated and we'll hear from gordon sondland who was overheard a conversation of the president and that is not hearsay, he spoke to trump multiple trump so this whole argument will go out the window. >> yeah. this has been the problem arguments from the beginning and first, closed-door hearings and we then see the transcripts and the transcripts come out, but
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we're still in secret hearings and now they're public hearings and now it's all hearsay and you're right, this is -- this card is going to fall on them as well. interesting, jordan was based on this he is a designated hitter who they brought in because they didn't think nunes was capable of delivering this kind of sofestry that we saw today. my impression today is for the faithful, they probably threw out enough smoke for people to grab on to and for, you know, for right-wing media to carry forward, but for people who are listening, i don't think it was terribly impressive, and as was pointed out, it felt like they recruited their lawyer from traffic court when this required something a little bit more. >> so -- >> so, i think they have to go -- they have to go back to dry dock here and kind of repair for the next round.
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i think particularly next week, when sondland comes, you know, this thing is going to get a lot tougher. >> and that's going to be an incredible day. and then, you know, obviously the white house very focused on today, as we all know, ambassador. and what taylor would say, in particular. but we understand that the president is extremely focused on the next hearing. right? which is marie yovanovitch and she will be on capitol hill on friday. obviously, she was the ambassador to ukraine up until may when trump got rid of her. you know her. what do you expect her to say? >> well, ambassador yovanovitch is an incredibly professional. she's someone who's been loyal for many decades. she probably knows more about ukraine than almost anyone else in the u.s. government so she brings tremendous credibility and when she speaks, like we saw from both bill taylor and george kent, she will do so with precision. she will lay out the facts of a campaign that has been undertaken against her by
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giuliani and his henchmen for well over a year. and she will also say, in public, as she said in her private testimony, that she literally could not believe what was happening. that an american ambassador and the work of an entire u.s. embassy would be undermined by private political interests and that our relations with such a crucial country, that is really a bulwark against russia could be thrown to the winds simply for these personal political interests. >> all right. all of you, stay with me. next, the two attorneys, you heard how david axelrod referred to one of them, these were the two who caught trump's attention. >> i see they're using lawyers that are television lawyers. they took some guys off television. >> who are they? we made usaa inr members like kate. a former army medic, made of the flexibility to handle whatever monday has in store and tackle four things at once.
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were trying to do -- >> reporter: daniel goldman, a former prosecutor -- >> you expressed some concerns -- >> reporter: and steve castor, a veteran attorney in several high-profile house investigations, publicly questioning today's witnesses. >> thank you, mr. chairman. >> reporter: goldman, a senior adviser to the democrats on the house intelligence committee, set out to prove acting ukraine ambassador bill taylor's text messages show he was concerned the administration was holding back nearly $400 million in foreign aid in exchange for investigations into president trump's political rivals. >> you texted ambassador sondland and volker and the text message should be on the screen in front of you. and if you could read what you wrote. >> as i said on the phone, i think it's crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign. >> reporter: a former federal prosecutor in the southern district of new york for a deca decade, goldman made a reputation for himself trying mobsters from the jenavasi crime
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family on racketeering and murder charges and winning convictions. >> dan worked with me at the southern district of new york. i supervised him in two units. he's great. very smart. very aggressive. tenacious. >> reporter: goldman is no stranger to television spending a couple years as an nbc legal analyst. >> it's hard to imagine it worse client than president trump. >> reporter: steve castor, a veteran of the house oversight committee, who was leading the cross-examination for the gop, zeroed in on hunter biden. >> you don't know whether he has any business experience in ukraine prior to joining burisma's board? >> i've heard nothing about prior experience. >> reporter: castor played a key role in high-profile investigations like the fast and furious probe into a botched gun trafficking operation and the 2012 terrorist attacks in benghazi. the philadelphia-area native once called trump a very different kind of president during a speech at wayne state university law school last year. >> somebody of the president's personality being president, just operating on twitter, is -- is just -- nobody could have
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expected that. >> reporter: support us call him an institutionalist and spoke about the importance of fairness at a federalist society event in 2018. >> once an investigator is reve revealed to be biased, it's hard to trust the integrity of the process. >> reporter: skill set was deemed so valuable that he was added to the intelligence committee so that he could participate in these hearings. still, some republicans said he could have been tougher, pointing out that jim jordan, the ohio republican who was a fierce defender of the president, and was also brought onto the committee precisely for these hearings took a much tougher, combative tone than castor did. >> athena, thank you very much. jim sciutto, abby, greg bauer are back with me. greg, jordan did take that combative tone. the lawyers were supposed to be -- you kill with calm. >> yeah. >> how -- how well did goldman and castor do today? >> well, goadmaldman and i are
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the same doj family. a very experienced former prosecutor. he was very smooth today and i thought did a very effective job. i know steve castor from my time at the fbi when he was can the committee and we had some dealings together. professional, competent guy. let's face it, castor doesn't have a case. right? he's trying to defend the indefensible in many respects so he doesn't have much to work with. i think that came through today. >> hmm. so, abby, some republicans were not happy with castor's performance. do you -- are they going to do anything about it? are they -- i mean, you know, as greg's saying, if it's about the case, it may be about that more than the lawyer. >> you know, this reminds me of the brett kavanaugh hearings when there was sort of independei independent person doing the questioning and republicans wsht hap warrant hap weren't hawpe how she questioned brett cavanaugh's accuser. i wouldn't be surprised if there was rethinking of the strategy here. republicans were not happy with the lack of what seemed be drive in his questioning. and i think that that is something that he can fix
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certainly, but it's hard as greg pointed out when there's not much of a case there. there's not much for him to drive at. >> and, jim, obstruction seems to be working. your takeaway. >> listen, republicans were crying hearsay today. the witnesses that could speak directly to the president's statements or desires are being blocked by the white house with the exception of gordon sondland. but to that point, you can argue that obstruction is working for the republicans. >> all right. thank you, all, very much. thanks to all of you for watching. anderson starts now. good evening from washington. something happened here today that almost never does. when it did, it turned this already historic first day of televised house impeachment hearing into something far more. surprise testimony pointing to a new witness, potentially, with firsthand knowledge who could tie president trump more tightly into the allegations at the heart of this whole affair. and that was just one key moment from ambassador bill taylor, the top u.s. diplomat in ukraine. he testified today, along with state department official george kent, and fair to say c