tv Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer CNN November 15, 2019 2:00pm-3:00pm PST
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witness intimidation. right now, the testimony continuing with a close d door deposition by an american embassy official who overheard the president talking with the u.s. ambassador to the eu about investigations mr. trump wanted from ukraine. and amid all of the drama, the president's long time associate on friend, roger stone, has been found guilty on all seven counting include iing telling l to congress that protected mr. trump. we'll get to that, but first, some details of today's dramatic testimony by the ousted u.s. ambassador to ukraine. jessica schneider is working the story for us. it was very, very powerful. >> it was, wolf, and yovanovitch recounted and she said she was vilified by rudy giuliani and his associates and even after her ouster as ambassador to ukraine, she said she felt threatened when she learned the details of the president's july
25th phone call to mr. zelensky and then today, she was forced to react in real time as the president tweeted about her testimony in the midst of the hearing. tonight, the president is facing accusations he crossed the line, sending a tweet democrats allege amounts to witness intimidation against marie yovanovitch as she testified on capitol hill. >> miss yovanovitch, as we sit here testifying, the president is attacking you on twitter. >> i mean i can't speak to what the president is trying to do but i think the effect is to be intimidating. >> despite the white house say ing the president would not watch the proceedings beyond congressman nunes' opening statement, the president sent this tweet an hour into the hearing. everywhere yovanovitch went turned bad. sh she started off in somalia, how did that go. it is a u.s. president's absolute right to appoint ambassadors. chairman schiff read that tweet to yovanovitch and democrats
warned the rant could prompt repercussions including a new article of impeachment. >> some of us here take witness intimidation very, very seriously. >> yovanovitch recounted how she's felt threatened before. >> a person who saw me reading the transcript said the color drained my face. i think i even had a physical reaction. >> especially after the release of the july 25th phone call transcript between president trump and zelensky. >> president trump says the former ambassador from the united states, the woman, was bad news. and the people she was dealing with in the ukraine were bad news. so i just want to let you know. what was your reaction when you heard the president of the united states refer to you as bad news? >> i couldn't believe it. again, shocked. appalled. devastated. that the president of the united states would talk about any
ambassador like that. to a foreign head of state. and it was me. i mean i couldn't believe it. >> what did you think when president trump told zelensky and you read that you were going to go through some things. >> i didn't know what to think, but i was very concerned. >> what were you concerned about? >> she's going to go through some things. didn't sound good. sounded like a threat. >> did you feel threatened? >> i did. >> yovanovitch was ousted from her post as ambassador to ukraine in may after a campaign to remove her that she says was led by rudy giuliani and his circulation of rumors that she was undermining the president. >> i do not understand mr. giuliani's motives for attacking me nor can i offer an opinion on whether he believed the
allegations he spread about me. >> yovanovitch then went point by point to rebut the allegations against her. >> i want to reiterate first that the allegation that i dissim nated a do not prosecute list was a fabrication. i did not tell mr. lu the tsenko or anyone who they should -- or officials that president trump's orders should be ignored because he was going to be impeached or for any other reason. i did not and would not say such a thing. the obama administration did not ask me to help the clinton campaign or harm the trump campaign. >> was the allegation that you were bad mouthing president trump true? >> no. what i can say is that mr. giuliani should have known those claims were suspect. coming as they reportedly did from individuals with question bable motives and with reason to
believe that their political and financial ambitions would be stymied by anticorruption policy. >> warning it sends the wrong message to countries like russia. >> our ukraine policy has been thrown into disarray and shady interests the world over have learned how little it takes to remove an american ambassador who does not give them what they want. >> and as her six hours of testimony ended, people in the hearing room applauded the former am babassador, who has st 33 years in the foreign service. and yovanovitch isn't the only key voice testifying on capitol hill today. in fact, david holmes is right now talking behind closed doors. we've learned he's the aide bill ta r lor referenced in his testimony wednesday who overheard the phone call that sondland took after a kiev restaurant on july 26th where the president allegedly asked about investigations and wolf,
it is just the latest in the rapid succession of closed door and public testimony. there's more closed door testimony tomorrow then of course next week. there are those eight witnesses testifying in public. >> yeah, it's going to be a very, very significant, indeed. perhaps totally critical. thanks very much. president trump meanwhile is citing freedom of speech. as democrats him of witness intimidation with his twitter attack on the former u.s. ambassador to ukraine while she was testifying. let's go to our chief white house correspondent, jim acosta. some of the president's allies may think he made a significant mistake. >> that's right. a clearly frustrated president trump defended his tweet aimed at yovanovitch argued he had the right to free speech as much anybody else. he got testy on whether his tweet amounted to witness intimidation or tampering. two trump campaign sources i talked to today sharply
criticized the president's tweet about yovanovitch. one of those sources said it was quote idiotic. that was the word used. idiotic, of president trump to go after yovanovitch as she was testifying, admitting that made her more sympathetic to people watching at home. the president complained about the process and defended his tweet aimed at the ambassador. here's what he had to say. >> tampering is when a guy guy like shifty schiff doesn't let us have lawyers, witnesses. when we have great republican representatives, people elected by the people and they're not allowed to even ask a question, they're not allowed to make a statement, we're not allowed to have witnesses, we're not allowed to have legal counsel, white house counsel. i think it's considered a joke all over washington and the world. the republicans are given no due process whatsoever. i have the right to speak i have freedom of speech just as other people do but they've taken away the republicans rights.
>> sir, do you believe your tweets or words can be intimidating? >> i don't think so at all. >> now the president admitted today he was watchig today's proceedings, contradicting his own press secretary who told reporters that mr. trump was only watching opening statement from nunes, the ranking member on the house intelligence committee. now the white house has one other mess on its hands this evening just as the yovanovitch hearing was getting underway, the white house release d a summary transcript of the president's first phone call with the leader of ukraine in april. during the call, the president makes no mention according to this transcript of fighting corruption. contrast that with an white house read out of the trump zelensky phone call released to the press in april. it states the call between tw two leaders touched on the suspect of corruption. now the white house released a statement a short while ago that appears to blame the ukraine expert on the national security counsel here at the white house, alexander vinman, who testifies at a public hearing next week.
in theory, he'll have a chance to respond to what the president is saying if asked. >> thank you very much. let's get more on the testimony underway right now. our senior consciousal correspondent is on capitol hill for us. how significant is this closed door testimony that's underway right now with david holmes, the counselor for political affairs at the u.s. em bassy in ukraine? >> very significant. he was apparently named as the individual who overheard that conversation between president trump and sondland in which the president was urge iing for him calling for investigations into the bidens. that and the immediate aftermath of the call between trump and president zelensky in july and we are told there are other witnesses, too, who have heard that phone call. according to one congressman who just came out here and spoke to reporters saying that there are at least two other witnesses wolf who did hear that phone call. this deposition still ongoing.
it started at 4:00 p.m. earn eastern we're just now in the second hour and we'll see what else we learn as this witness goes behind closed doors and testifies. this comes at a key day in this impeachment hearing. not today, earlier in the aftermath of the president going after marie yovanovitch and attacking hearvey arr via twitt. there are concerns and warning that this could be rolled into an r consideraarticle of impeac. told me earlier today it could e rolled into an article of impeachment and then the role of rudy giuliani, how he was launching this smear campaign as he was pushing matters that she believed undercut the national interest. now republicans are having a hard time defending the role of giuliani. some saying that the president is well within his rights to name someone for that post, but others making it, making it
clear they would not necessarily say whether it was right for him to smear this ambassador. >> why is it appropriate for the president to tap rudy giuliani to mount he testified to was a smear campaign against her? why is that okay? >> as i said, the president can have who he desires doing diplomatic work for the country. >> do you think it was a smear -- she said the it was a smear campaign. of false attacks. do you believe her? >> democrats say that -- >> so we'll wait to see what else we learn from today. david holmes still testifying that official who overheard this conversation, but again, he is saying accord ting to a congressman at least two other people heard the president saying there should be these investigations into the bidens with gordon sondland. >> we don't know who else was listening. there's a lot of suspicious the russians may be eves dropping. joining us now, democratic
congressman, a member of the oversight and foreign affairs committees. thanks so much for joining us. let me get your immediate reanchor presidnt of the united states tweeting this disparaging message about this witness, a distinguished u.s. diplomat right in the middle of her public hearing. >> it's really reprehensible and unprecedented and it smacks al capone in witness intimidation and can't be called anything but that. and sadly, it's a pattern, wolf, with the republicans. led by donald trump. so we thought in the michael cohen hearings when gates tweeted clear threats about personal information being revealeded against cohen, he had to retract that and withdraw those tweets but the damage was done. the impact was there. right up until today, the president himself clearly issuing intimidating tweets to
try to suppress or silence this you know courageous ambassador. >> and maybe future witnesses as well. will democrats include the president's tweets, the tweet today specifically in potential articles of f impeachment? >> i certain ly think it will b a subject of discussion. and there will been an examination of what ought to be included should there be articles of impeachment. clearly, the president's behavior with respect to the law. obstruction of justice, intimidation of witnesses, noncooperation with legal issued subpoenas of the legislative branch are all right for consideration in article or articles of impeachment. >> have you r already seen enough evidence to vote in favor of impeaching the president? >> well, wolf, as you know, i
actually felt we had plenty to work on back in early august after robert mueller had completed his public testimony. i believe that his report is a damning and devastating report of illegal behavior. and especially obstruction of justice. clearly a crime. but plenty of abuse of office which is an impeachable offense and of course defiance on the ledge lative branch across the board in terms of legally issued subpoenas for us to do our work. all are grounds for impeachment and i supported it before the ukrainian revelations. >> right now, your committee is hearing testimony from david holmes, the senior u.s. embassy official in ukraine who allegedly overheard a phone call at a restaurant in kiev. can you tell us whether mr. holmes confirmed the phone daul and whether it's true, where the president said he cared many about investigating the bidens
than he cared about ukraine. >> i'm going to be careful about discussing what i just heard in closed session. but i would say that the word the -- use ed allegedly is not accurate. it's not alleged. it happened and it's a mountainer of public record that mr. holmes heard this conversation. and recognized the president's voice loud and clear because he was so loud on the phone and and to the fact the recipient of the phone call and that ambassador sondland, which allowed us to hear it. >> i want to be precise, congressman. you took away the word allegedly. you're saying this is a fact. it happened. and you heard confirm that it happened. first of all, we heard taylor assert that it happened and he had an aide who heard it.
we are now hearing deposition from that aide. and it was i don't think in dispute that the phone conversation occurred. so it's not here say and it's not alleged. so you're hearing from a person who overheard the conversation, david holmes. >> that's the whole purpose of today's deposition. >> i know it's the whole purpose but i want to make sure we're not pinning it on bill ta r lor any longer. we have somebody who was there opposed to someone who heard it from another person. >> i'm trying to thread a needle here so i'm not directly referring to testimony in closed session. >> i understand completely. and you've been very generous with your words and time as usual. thanks so much for joining us. >> thank you, wolf. >> coming up, president trump goes on the attack as his former ambassador to ukraine testified before congress. adam schiff is now calling that witness intimidation in real time.
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tweets attacking the ousted ambassador to ukraine as she was testifying. let's bring in our correspondents and jon king, we just heard joey connolly emerge from the closeded toor meetings with holmes who overheard that conversation between the ambassador and the president talking about investigations, what was going on in ukraine. he basically confirmed what ta r lor said and david holmes was right there. >> and so the question is number one, what do they get? what's the full explanation? the full recollection of mr. holmes to what he heard on that conversation? did the word bidens come up, the word investigations, how do you put it into context and if and when mr. holmes becomes the public witness. this is the process of any investigation. it was the process of their b benghazi investigation. you start it private then bring
it public. the question is how quickly can you ge holmes in public because one of the republican defenses has been you didn't speak to the president, did you, ambassador yovanovitch, you can want connect this to the president, mr. kent? if you have a mr. holmes who says i heard the president's voice and another witness, i heard e the president's voice then sondland has to follow. an ambassador who's already amended his testimony once u. it was sondland holding that phone in a conversation with the president of the united states. your connection to the president. the question is, what can you get on the record about what was said. >> we heard the congressman say bas sondland was holding the phone away from his ear so others at the table at the restaurant could hear the president directly. >> apparently because he was speaking so loudly and i think that sondland has some questions to answer here, he becomes more and more of a key witness as this week progressed and next week, we'll see. i think sondland has to say well
did you not recall this conversation with the president. he did say that there may have been other conversations he did not recall. this would seem to be kind of an important one and did you also tell the people sitting at the table that the president cared more about investigating the bidens than he did about anything else. regarding ukraine and i think those are key cquestions. >> and this is happening on the backdrop of roger stone being convicted of not being truthful to congress, of obstructing justice. seven counts. and so gourdrdon sond iland is wealthy man who had a very comfortable life before he decided he was going to give a million dollars to the trump inaugural and ambassadorship to the e.u. does he want to be the next roger stone? the person who is going to potentially get prosecuted for not being true? that's another question which
puts the stakes even higher for him when he testifies. >> he had been trying to thread that line initially it seems in his testimony. by giving just enough information to seem cooperative but, not enough to implicate the president. now he's gotten caught in at the very at lealeast misleading con about these conversations and n unlike stone, sondland, yes, he gave a million dollars to the president's inaugural campaign, but he's not a long time trumper. he is relatively new to this world so the depth of his allegiance to the president is not what it would be for lodger stone so it raised a lot of questions about whether or not he's going to stick with trying to keep the president largely out of this whole narrative. >> i want to get jim involved in this. you're hearing the breaking news. what do you think? >> it just gets worse and worse for the president. it's been a terrible week for him on a number of fronts. he made it worse today with his tweets about the bas a bas during the hearing. that was clearly dumb. is my legal analysis.
it was a dumb thing to do. and it was in addition, quite seriously, abusive, clearly intended to intimidate the witness. i've been on the receiving end of presidential tweets about me and they have an impact on you. they are intimidating and they have an effect in the real world on your life. so that's my assessment of that, but with respect to the republicans defense as others were saying has been that nobody spoke to the president about what happened and so this, the statement apparently under oath by mr. holmes is a significant development and it does not help the president whatsoever. >> does not. and we're going to be sure to hear iraqs, a transcript of that deposition at some point as well. be hearing from the ambassador, he'll be testifying publicly on wednesday. everybody stand by. we're going to have a lot more on the democrat makt developments. we're also following a really major breaking story here in washington. president trump's associate and
friend, roger stone, now found guilty on all seven counts include iing telling lies that p protect the president. roam.♪ ♪when you pine for the sunshine of a friendly gaze.♪ ♪for the holidays you can't beat home sweet home.♪ the united states postal service goes the extra mile to bring your holidays home. 1 in 5 people you meet wear yeah. that many! but right now, is not the time to talk about it. so when you're ready, search 'my denture care'. poligrip and polident. fixed. fresh. and just between us.
we'll have much more ahead on today, but there's another very important story we're watching here in washington. the trial of president trump's associate and friend, roger stone ended this afternoon with a federal jury concluding that stone told lies to protect the president. stone was convicted on all seven counts. he faced. our crime and justice reporter was there, covered the trial for us. so ultimately, he was convicted, he's facing years of prison, 67 years old. >> he's potentially facing significant amount of prison time. the worst thing that he got convicted of was tampering with a witness. that potentially carries the most prison time for him. >> 20 years. >> 20 years potentially. you know having covered this case for two weeks, nearly two weeks now, donald trump was the central figure of this trial. the prosecutors right out of the gate said this trial was about
roger stone trying to protect and can you have a more fitting ta when you think about what's going on in congress today. roger estone was convicted of lying to members of congress who were investigating the president so this jury you know they sat through a lot of the ed and it was overwhelming. overwhelming evidence against roger stone and really everything came down to the prosecutors started r arguing their case to the jurors and why they should convict him and honestly, there was a lot of passion and emotion from these prosecutors. some from the mueller team coming in, sit tlg talk iing abt their evidence. arguing how truth matters. how we need to that this is a case about protect institution and the truth and ultimately, the jury believed them and they found him guilty on all seven counts. >> within minutes of the conviction on all seven counts, they now convict stone of lying and want to jail him for years
to come then he goes on to talk about the others who have not been charged with crimes. it's a double standard he says like never been seen in the history of our country, which raises the possibility of a presidential part pardon. >> certainly still with paul manafort as well. a lot f people feel he is going to be pardoned eventually, but the president wasted no time as you said just a short time after the jury gives their verdict, he's out there tweeting about this. roger stone for the most part has had to be quiet during this trial. something he's not used to. he's under a gag order but u he did, we did catch up with him outside his apartment and here's that video. >> mr. stone, your reaction to the verdict? >> no comment. >> will you receive a pardon from president trump? >> no comment.
>> don't do that. no comment. >> and so you see as he was throughout this entire trial, didn't talk to any of the reporters. pretty good about sticking to the gag order. but there he doesn't seem that disstressed or upset by what happened. his team certainly talking to folks at the courtroom expected this outcome. they were optimistic this morning, but yesterday, no so much. today, they came in enthusic then the yur came back. we'll see. he gets sentenced on february 6th, so he has some time to get things together t but there's a potential that he could face significant prison time here. most importantly, it's that witness tampering case. the charges that could really land him in prison. >> purgery rr rr rry is seriou. >> they are federal felonies. because of what he did here, lie
to members of congress. >> by the way, rick gates, the deputy chairman of the trump campaign, we now hear he's going to be sentenced on december 17th. >> he testified in this case, one of the last things he had to do and this is for the mule rer gags, this is the last piece of the mueller investigation. that's now over. this is it. >> he's pleaded guilty and has been cooperating. we'll see what kind of sentence he gets. important news. we've got lots to discuss. we'll be wak with our correspondents and our annals. we'll be right back. ni is a dift kind of car. ♪ ladies and gentlemen for a different kind of drive. ♪ ladies and gentlemen for the drive to create a new kind of family car, that became a new kind of race car. for the drive to rebel, zag. for the drive that's inside you. and inside us. that's the drive under the hood of every mini. because every mini is... for the drive. ♪
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we're back and following the breaking news. it's interesting that as we're speaking, david holmes, the counselor for political affairs at the u.s. embassy in ukraine, he's doing a deposition. testifying under oath before these committees in a secure room and he's discussing this conversation that he apparently overheard between the president of the united states and the u.s. ambassador to the european union in which the president was speaking about how important it was to do these investigations of the bidens in the 2016 election as opposed to how important ukraine might be and we're anticipating getting some information from that deposition soon. >> it's a critical piece of the building block especially when presidents say nobody talk to the president. if you have a career foreign service person, a person of credibility who says he heard the president's voice and the president was speaking to sondland and i heard the president say this. the question is what?
what did he hear? if he heard him say as taylor testified that he believes the conversation what's most important to me are the investigations about the bidens or is it the context was the word biden used, was it just veinvestigation investigations? it's critical to the connect it west wing and president of the united states directly. now you have mr. holmes which gets you that testimony. it backs up taylor's credibility. he said other things, but it backs up his credibility more broadly and puts enormous sh pressure on sondland who's due back before the temperature next week and he's already amended his testimony quite significantly hechsignificant ly. he did a 180 on the quid pro quo. what happened last time, sondland testifying then other witnesses came in and sondland saw their testimony and amended his. this time, the committee is getting the testimony first of the others. so when mr. sondland comes in, they are going to have mr. holmes on the record, perhaps a second witness then the question
is what does sondland say, the guy we know is in frequent contact directly with the president. >> we should keep in mind the timing of this. this call that sondland made to the president happened right after president trump had a conversation with president zelensky. the day after, in which he specified that he was interested in investigating hunter biden. he was interested in joe biden, in this conspiracy theory and crowd strike and the 2016 election. the president was following up on something he'd asked for in that phone call and this is the, are they doing it conversation and so the context around that is critical. >> hold on one second. manu is up on capitol hill. i understand you have new information on what this u.s. embassy official has been saying under oath to these committee members. >> yeah and i actually have obtained the opening statement from this aide of bill taylor
the top diplomat in ukraine. the aide david holmes delivering this statement, a ten h page very detailed opening statement discussing exactly what has come out this week. he overheard a phone call between president trump and gordon sondland, the bas to the european union in which the president was calling for investigations into his political rival, joe biden. wanting ukraine specifically to launch the investigation. so i'm going to read a portion of this opening stam that details the lunch that sondland had with president trump in which the president was calling for these investigations. so it says this. during the lunch. sondland said he was going to call president trump to give him an update. sondland placed a call on his b mobile phone and heard him announce himself several times a along the lines of gordon sondland, holding for the president. it appear ed he was being transferred through several layers. a switchboard was in assistance. i noticed sondland's demeanor change when he had been connected to trump.
his phone was not on speakerphone, i could hear the president's voice through the ear piece of the phone. the president's voice was u very loud and recognizable and sondland held the phone away from his ear for a period of time presumably because of the loud volume so that explains how these people were able to yefr hear what the president was saying. he says i heard sondland greet the president and explain he was calling from kiev. i heard president trump clarify he was in ukraine and he replied yesterday, he was ukraine. he went on to state president zelensky loves your ass. then heard him, he's going to do the investigation. sondland replied he's going to do it adding that president zelensky will quote anything you ask him to. even though i did not take notes of these statement, i have a clear recollection that these statements made. i believe my colleagues at the
table also knew ambassador sondland was speaking with the president. before i go on, i want to reiterate what he says here. i then heard president trump ask so he's going to do the investigation, referring to the investigation the president asked for the day before. the investigations of his political rival, sondland said he's going to do it add iing th president zelensky will do anything you ask him to. so i'll read more from this statement that discusses more about the conversation that the europe european union ambassador had. then it shifted to sondland's efforts on behalf of the president to assist a rapper who was jailed in sweden and i could only hear sondland's side of that part of the conversation. he told the president the rapper was kind of f-ed here and should have pled guilty. this is referring to another episode. he recommended the president would wait until after the sentencing or it will make it worse adding that the president should let him get sentenced, play the racism card, give him a
ticker tape when he comes home. he further told the president sweden should have released him on your word, but you can tell the kardashians you tried. then starts talking about towards the end of this phone call, said after the phone call, after the call u ended. sondland remarked that the president was in a bad mood as sondland stated it was often the case early in the morning. i then took the opportunity to ask sondland for his candid impression of the president's views on ukraine. in particular, i asked if it was true that the president did not give an s about ukraine. sondland agreed that the president did not give an s about ukraine. i asked why not. ambassador sondland stated the president only cares about the quote big stuff. i noted there was big stuff going on in ukraine like a war with russia and ambassador sondland replied that the quote big stuff, that benefits the
president like the biden investigation. that mr. giuliani was pushing. the conversation moved on to other topics. very significant though, wolf, he's saying that the president only cared about the quote, big stuff, the investigations into the bidens and did not care about ukraine. this corroborates what taylor testified to early this week when he said his aide had overheard that phone call. he's making it cheer. he heard sondland make clear the president only cared about ukraine veinvestigating joe bid. closes with this. upon returning to the embassy, i immediately told the deputy chief about the call with the president and my conversation with sondland. i also e-mailed an embassy official in sweden regarding the issue with the u.s. rapper discussed on the call. so july 26th was the last day in the office ahead of a planned vacation and talks about how u he told taylor about the july 26th call and repeatedly referred to the conversation with with sondland in meetings
and conversations that he had there after so then he says at that time, ambassador sondland stated the president's lack of sbles in ukraine was a particular focus. we understand that in order to secure a meeting between president trump and zelensky, we we would have to work hard to find a way to explain ukraine's importance to president trump in terms that he founding compelling. here you qgo, wolf, this is a person that heard the president of the united states say that ukraine needed to investigate his main political rival and that's what he cared about, the quote, big stuff. he didn't care about ukraine, he cared about the big stuff, according to what gordon sondland told him in the aftermath of this phone call. very revealing testimony being given behind closed doors. we have obtained the details, exactly what david holmes, this official is testifying about right now and corroborating this key detail that came out as the
democrats pushed to learn more about the efforts by the president to pursue this investigation into his political rival. >> this is very, very significant, very dramatic, very important information you're sharing with us, manu. thanks very much. does he say in that opening statement there were others at that table -- around the table at that restaurant in ukraine that may have overheard the conversation on ambassador sondland's cell phone? >> so we are told from sources including a congressman who came out of the room and talked to reporters that there were at least two other people who were aware of this phone call between the president and president zelensky. now, it's unclear whether or not the committees will try to pursue to get those interviews with those other individuals. he also makes clear here, which is interesting, wolf, he said he talked to various people about this in subsequent meetings after that july 26th phone call. he repeatedly referred to the
call in meetings and conversations where the issues of the president's lack of interest in ukraine was potentially relevant. so this came out continually. it was discussed in kiev about the president's interest or lack thereof in you caukraine and so clearly a significant moment in this investigation and this testimony is ongoing. >> what i want you to do, manu, go back to that key passage in that opening statement by david holmes, the counselor for political affairs at the u.s. embassy in ukraine, who's now testifying under oath before these committees behind closed doors, but we got a copy of his opening statement. i'd like you to reread for our viewers here in the united states and around the world precisely what he overheard the president of the united states saying to the u.s. ambassador to the eu. >> so this is what he said exactly, wolf. he said i heard ambassador sondland greet the president and
explain that he was calling from kiev. i heard president trump then clarify that ambassador sondland was in ukraine. ambassador sondland replied, yes, he was in ukraine and he went on to state that president zelensky loves your ask. so president trump said he's going to do the investigation? ambassador sondland replied that he's going to do it, adding that president zelensky will do anything you ask him, that's quote, anything you ask him to. even though i did not take notes of these statements, i have a clear recollection these statements were made. my colleagues sitting at the table also knew ambassador sondland was speaking to the president. then this other passage about the president's ask to investigate ukraine, sondland agreed the president did not give an "s" about ukraine. the ambassador said the president only cares about big stuff. i noted there was big stuff going on in ukraine like a war with russia and ambassador sondland said big stuff that
benefits the president like the biden investigation that mr. guiliani was pushing. then they talked about other topics. so it's very clear here what the president's interest is and what he was trying to convey to the ambassador to the european union that ukraine needed to launch these investigations into his political rivals at the same time that they were seeking this meeting between the ukrainian administration and president trump at the white house, at the same time as there was discussion about this aid that was later withheld for 55 days, nearly $400 million or so. it's clear what the president's interest was, according to this phone call, investigate the bidens, wolf. >> manu, stand by. we're going to get much more reaction. this is really a bombshell piece of information we're getting about the president of the united states, what he thinks about a ukrainian investigation of the bidens, what he thinks about ukraine. we'll have much more on the breaking news right after a quick break. at verizon, we're building the most powerful 5g experience for america. that's why the nfl chose verizon.
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world. i'm wolf blitzer in the situation room. we're following major breaking news right now. a very, very dramatic development in the impeachment investigation of president donald trump. i want to go to phil mattingly who's got -- all of us now have, phil, the transcript of the opening statement by this u.s. embassy official in ukraine, david holmes, who overheard a conversation between the president of the united states and the u.s. ambassador to the european union, gordon sondland, at a restaurant in kiev in ukraine in which the president was talking -- the president was talking about his disdain in effect for ukraine. the only thing he really wanted, the only thing he wanted basically was an investigation by the ukrainians of the bidens. i want you to go ahead and for our viewers read that section of this transcript, of this opening statement from david holmes in which all of that is laid out. >>
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