tv DNC Debate Post Analysis CNN November 20, 2019 10:00pm-12:00am PST
i'm erica hill. thanks for joining us. welcome to a special report "white house in crisis, the impeachment inquiry." we're going to take a deep dive into public testimony to digest everything we learned over the last 24 hours and there is a mountain of new evidence. three more witnesses appearing before cameras, among them gordon sondland and his testimony was the most anticipated and he came back ready to tell all. he pointed the president directly at the ukraine pressure campaign. from there he kept naming names. >> secretary perry, ambassador volker and i worked with mr. rudy giuliani on ukraine matters at the express direction of the president of the united states.
we did not want to work with mr. giuliani so we followed the president's orders. we kept the leadership, the state department and the nsc informed of our activities. they knew what we were doing and why. was there a quid pro quo? the answer is yes. everyone was in the loop. >> so what now? let's bring in cnn legal analyst mike zelden and steve paul. that moment obviously with ambassador sondland saying, yes, there was a quid pro quo grabbing headlines as quickly as those words were uttered. republicans are stressing here, yes, he said there was a quid pro quo but then he went on to make very clear, he was not told directly by the president. just let's take a step back and remind us for a minute. how does the messaging usually go? does a president speak directly with an ambassador? >> eric, in the first instance,
ambassadors don't directly have a direct line to the president. key surveillance targets. but ambassadors typically coordinate their work through the national security council. they didn't go directly to the president. what we learned today is gordon sondland considers his work to be part of a regular channel because the leadership was involved. rather than sitting down and having an inner agency channel, there was this informal process, i'll call it irregular because it was so out of touch with reality -- or, excuse me, with actual policy goals, the president to rudy giuliani to volker, sondland, perry and potentially secretary of state pompeo. so what we've seen is a breakdown in the actual interagency policy.
erica, this was not about policy, this was about politics. if it was about policy it would have worked through the embassy process. >> when we talk about the policy, the president certainly as we know had the power to change, to set policy. what's fascinating what sam just touched on here. we have ambassador sondland who had one policy. you hear from bill taylor, you hear from volker who saw something different, who saw perhaps a completely different channel. from a security perspective how concerning is that that there are multiple messages out here and it's not clear which one is official? >> yeah, erica. i mean, it's very confusing not just for the americans involved who are trying to formulate the policy and sam just did a good job of describing how it normally happens, but it's also going to be very confusing for the host country, in this case the ukrainians as well who are trying to figure out, okay, who am i supposed to listen to here?
we just had a career ambassador who i served with in moscow, the consummate professional who understands everything that's going on and then you have somebody like sondland who is basically an amateur. yes, the president, of course, does have the ability to name whoever he wants, but sometimes that not necessarily backfires but has ramifications. one of the ramifications here is that you've got shifting messages, you've got rudy giuliani wandering around, you know, putting across whatever his message is, perhaps directly from the president, perhaps not. i mean, it's all very confusing, not just for the americans who are actually trying to be professionals and get a real policy across but it's also really confusing for the ukrainians trying to figure out who am i supposed to listen to here. when i pick up the phone, who do i talk to? it can be very confusing especially for a new president like zelensky. >> when sondland said, everybody
was in the loop. he was asked specifically if ukrainians knew as well and he said yes. he said they had a sense, according to sondland, what they did with that is entirely separate. when we talk about what the president can and cannot do, michael lora cooper talked about congressly appointed funds and how they can and cannot be spent or not. let's take a listen to that moment. >> that's a legally specified process. that's not the president in the oval office manifesting a general skepticism of foreign aid, right? >> it is a -- >> that's a process. >> it is a congressly mandated process, yes, sir. >> the point is that the president can't just decide, okay, we're not going to do with this aid what congress has already mandated for us to do. really what does that do? >> well, that's right, unless he goes back to congress. and this law that was passed in the post nixon era was designed
to ensure that congress, when it appropriates money, has the final say in how that money is distributed. and the defense department, the state department, whoever else are the distributors of that money know that process well. and in this case they cannot legally hold that money back just whimsically, and that's what appears to have been the sort of graveman of what she was saying. this hold back without any explanation, without use of the interagency process or congressional consideration was an illegal act. that's why you saw the testimony the other week from the omb person saying, look, i'm not going to sign off on this because it's not lawful as far as i'm concerned. so they brought on a political person to do the signing off on it. >> what's fascinating, too, as we look at all of this is that from the beginning one of the reasons that we were given was the reason the aid was held up
was because there were concerns about corruption. we keep going back to concerns about corruption. if the president wanted to withhold that aid for some time because he was concerned about corruption, that could have been a very simple public pronouncement that likely few people would have questioned were it done that way. i'm not comfortable with what i see. i'm going to hold off here and i want to let you all know that's the plan. that didn't happen. >> erica, even if that had happened, it would not have been backed up by what he said in private. he did not raise corruption in his private engagements with the ukrainians in the first instance and, number two, erica, we have a process for assessing corruption in ukraine under the national defense authorization act. we have certain benchmarks that ukrainians have to meet in order to get a large portion of their security sector assistance. people like laura cooper have an official regular process for assessing whether the defense sector in the ukraine meets
those corruption benchmarks. it is not an arbitrary decision by the president of the united states. it relies on expert analysis in line with the law. the president cannot choose just to violate that law because he doesn't trust president zelensky or some other explanation. again, this whole notion that they were trying and jim jordan, i believe, put this forward that they were trying to suss out how serious zelensky was about corruption. that could have been something president trump raised on a phone call with president ze n zelensky or with the charge. >> when we look at what we are hearing from the president, so the president very clearly today wanted to remind everyone where he's at and where he was at back in september. i just -- i just want to play this moment and then we'll circle back. >> so here's my answer.
i want nothing. i want nothing. i want no quid pro quo. tell zelensky to do the right thing, then he says, this is the final word from the president of the you states, i want nothing. >> okay. so we watched the president there. this was earlier today. you saw him looking down at his notes and we actually have a picture of these notes. you can see, it's very clearly written out on his pad there what he wanted to say which is basically verbatim what we heard from sondland in his testimony when he was asked about this exchange with the president on september, i believe it's september 9th, right? the same day the i.g. told congress about the complaint that congress announced an investigation. michael, when you see all of this, i'm just curious, what do you make of all of this? >> it seems pretty self-serving. it seems to me that when
ambassador sondland says to the president of the united states what do you want from the ukrainians, his answer should have been i want to make sure that they are fulfilling their anticorruption promises. i am concerned about whether or not we're going to give money to them and it's going to be wasted. so he had an opportunity to speak to the corruption initiative that all of his defenders say was at the bottom of what he was doing here. instead he says, no quid pro quo, i want nothing. that seems too convenient, especially in the aftermath of the whistle-blower complaint being made known and the quid pro quo becoming part of our daily vernacular. i don't buy it. >> you're not buying it. there's been so much attention on what we've heard from sondland today, and with good reason, but part of what we learned from laura cooper today should also be grabbing headlines because what she testified to is that ukrainians
were emailing about the assistance, they had questions about the aid on the day of the call, on july 25th. here's what she laid out today. >> on july 25th a member of my staff got a question from a ukraine embassy contact asking what was going on with ukraine's security assistance. >> and she was asked in further testimony, steve, about this -- about this reaction and she made clear, ukrainians -- when -- it was her experience when they reached out they had specific questions. and the fact that this happened hours after the call based on the time stamp of the email, steve, what does that tell you about what they likely knew and who may have known it? >> you know, here in the united states, erica, we might be a bit confused about who fwhu when and whether or not guys like sondland, you know, had direct contact with the president, but i'll tell you one thing, and i visited ukraine a number of
times, i've met with some of their senior intelligence folks as well as senior leadership, there is no doubt, there is absolutely no doubt that the ukrainians understood a quid pro quo. there is no doubt. why? the ukrainians have lived all these years, since soviet times, right under the shadow of the russian bear. they know that if they don't want to get completely absorbed back into russia, like crimea did, that there's really only one country that's going to stop them from doing that, and that's the united states of america. so the president can go on all day long and all night if he wants to about how there was no quid pro quo, i asked for nothing in return, and that's garbage. the ukrainians know better. is everything snok have we screwed something up? because they know if they don't get the assistance, specifically if they don't get the military assistance, it's critically important to them given the fact that they're at war with russia, the ukrainians knew that they had to do what it was, whatever
it was, really, that the united states wanted them to do in order to survive as a country. it's an existential threat. so the idea that there was no quid pro quo because those fancy lattin words were not said is senseless. >> steve -- >> erica -- >> go ahead. >> may i just add one thing to carry on steve's point which is that the july 25th transcript is exhibit a of the fact that the president of the united states wanted a favor from ukraine in exchange for continued cooperation with them. so in the transcript itself, before you even get to the quid pro quo, there is the favor being asked which is essentially an offer that they can't refuse. >> all right. don't go far. we have much to discuss in our next hour including the threat from russia. when we look at ambassador sondland's testimony, i widid i
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democrats asking questions in the probe. washington state congressman denney beck. >> congressman, certainly an important moment today for democrats when we heard ambassador sondland say, yes, there was a quid pro quo. however, when he was pressed he also made clear, and i want to play a moment here, that it was not from the president who told him directly about that. let's listen to this. >> president trump never told me directly that the aid was conditioned on the meetings. the only thing we got directly from giuliani was that the barism a and 2016 elections was conditioned on the white house meeting. the aid was my own personal, you know, guess, based again on your analogy, two plus two equals four. >> it was his guess. he never heard it directly from the president. is that going to be a problem for you moving forward? >> the aid was withheld, erica,
and it was withheld over the objection of every single agency that was involved in it, the national security council, the department of defense and the state department all wanted him to go ahead and directly instructed that it was being withheld under orders of mick mulvaney from the president for reasons that were never revealed. two plus two equals four, erica. he did it. he withheld the aid in an attempt to shake down the ukrainian president to undertake this politically motivated investigation. >> as you pointed out, that's what was coming from mick mulvaney. as we heard from ambassador sondland, this is what he was hearing from rudy giuliani. does it matter? it seems that it should that it was not coming directly from the president who was saying, this is what i want. >> erica, it came directly from the president. please do read the transcript. he shook down -- >> i can promise you i have. like you, several times. >> i'm sure you have, in no
uncertain terms. that was a confession that was signed by mick mulvaney in a later press conference and is surrounded by all the facts, all the players around. he told them talk to rudy. rudy told them he wanted the shakedown while the aid is being withheld. if that isn't enough to suggest consciousness. they moved that into the code word server to hide it. remember they refused to allow us to talk to any of the primary actors, mick mulvaney, secretary of state mike pompeo, or mr. vote or mr. mcduffy over at the office of management nor will they produce any of the documents that have been duly subpoenaed of them. if that doesn't indicate a consciousness of guilt, i don't know what does when combined with the president's words in that very transcript. >> let me talk to you about those people, a number of whom you just mentioned. central figures here who you have not heard from. you brought that up earlier today as well asking why they
haven't been heard from. i want to play that moment as well. >> why then, sir, with your courage to come before us does that same standard not apply to mr. mulvaney, mr. did you hauff bolton, mr. volk, mr. giuliani? why shouldn't that beat within their hearts and do what you have done, sir? indeed, why doesn't that same standard apply to the president of the united states? >> i wish i could answer. >> i suspect you can't because there is no good answer. >> as you said, you want to hear from them. you want to see these documents. if you don't, however, if you don't hear from some of these officials, do you believe democrats can convincingly make their case against the president? >> he did it, erica. the case has already been made. look -- >> you don't need to see
anything else? >> well, what i am seeing is an overwhelming -- indeed, a mountain of evidence to suggest that he did it. we seem to be constructing kind of a new legal standard here. if this were a crime what you would be suggesting is unless you have a signed confession, videotape and three eye witnesses you can't convict anybody and we all know that's not what happens in the criminal court of law. the evidence is overwhelming. he did it. the only question for congress and the american public is he did it. what's the appropriate remedy. how should he be held accountable? is this behavior that's acceptable? that betrays his oath of office and compromises our national security. >> as we talked about in the beginning you had ambassador sondland saying, yes, there was a quid pro quo. we know from what we heard in the questioning and even hearing from lawmakers afterwards, it doesn't seem that that was enough to move the needle for republicans. do you believe at this point there is even one republican who was coming over to the side of
the democrats at this point and in agreement with you and seeing what you see? >> not yet but then again we're not taking the vote today or tomorrow. indeed, we have yet another hearing to go, erica. in fact, from two spectacular witnesses. dr. fiona hill and david holmes. he overheard the conversation in can kiev and today is a great example. we learned something new today that we didn't know before. we may learn something new tomorrow. we just don't know. if you think about the american public, it's as though there are three pots. there are those who haven't paid any attention at all until this began to be televised. you have those who paid quite a bit of attention, maybe even read the depositions, but that's just ink on a page. now they can actually see and hear some of the compelling and riveting stories by all of these
people. so, listen, i think there's a distinct possibility that when you add those two factors plus the possibility of new information being revealed that the american public will take this in, digest it, give it considered opinion about what's the best for our country. >> give me a sense though. you say you are at a place now where you're convinced. we know that from listening to you. you've seen enough in your mind to draw up articles of impeachment. if that's where you are at, what would those articles specifically be for you today? >> i think there's a distinct to be made for both abuse of power and there's an inarguable case to be made for obstruction of congress which, as i remind you, erica, was the third article of impeachment for president nixon. he's refused to allow people around him to testify when congress was exercising its constitutional responsibility under article 1 section 2 and 3 and he's withheld the documents. even though as ambassador sondland himself indicated
today, he was at a disadvantage because the state department would not even allow him access to his own material so that it could refresh his memory. he complained that that wasn't fair to him since he decided to respond to the duly issued subpoena. >> congressman, we appreciate you taking the time to join us. we will continue to watch this. as you mentioned, two more witnesses coming up tomorrow. thank you, sir. >> thank you, erica. gordon sondland's testimony being referred to some of the john dean moments. that is some of the testimony that rocked the watergate hearings. we'll tell you what someone who helped breakwater gate along with other historical minds weigh in next. dana-farber cancer institute discovered the pd-l1 pathway. pd-l1.
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this mean? famed watergate journalist paul bernstein and alina plat. want to start with you. would you agree this was a john dean moment? you would know firsthand. >> no, i think john dean was a perfect witness who was privy to a lot more than mr. sondland was. nonetheless, sondland was a devastating witness, and i think that what was revealed today is that the level of corruption of this president has now been revealed in a way that's very, very hard for the republicans to deny. secondly, we have seen now the wheels coming off the coverup, the coverup led by the president of the united states and once those wheels come off we now see in stunning detail just what the real conspiracy to undermine our electoral process by the intervention of a foreign power
solicited by the president of the united states has been. it is a really ugly tale. >> a really ugly tale. you also pointed out that john dean was a much better witness. tim, as we look at this, that is something the republicans quickly jumped on. yes, he may have said quid pro quo in the opening statement, but there was a lot that did not seem as damnin in their eyes. there was so much he didn't remember. he doesn't have notes and he doesn't have this from their meetings. how damaging is that? >> first of all, let's keep in mind that it's only later that you really understand the implications of a john dean moment. as carl knows better than anybody, john dean's testimony did not lead immediately to impeachment hearings. john dean's testimony actually leads to a rephrasing, a reframing of the conversation about the president's role in the coverup, but it's the tapes, it's the tapes that change the
whole nature of the struggle. so what i'm saying is sondland's testimony -- ambassador sondland's testimony, as carl mentioned, not only added dots but connected some and it is now clear that sondland was not some kind of rogue elephant, that sondland was implementing a policy that was coming directly to him either via giuliani or from the president himself and that the president's main concern was a corrupt intent. that's very clear, and that's what's so devastating about his testimony. now i don't expect republicans to say, oh, give up. it's over. sorry. oh, we're totally wrong. no. what i'm expecting to see is the pressure building on others perhaps to come forward and i'm looking to people who plan to run in 2024 because you don't want to be supportive of this kind of foreign policy.
we americans have a tradition of very serious, very important foreign policy. we don't want to be associated with the kind of three stooges foreign policy that involve black mail. i'm anticipating that as more details like this come out which all confirm the whistle-blower account, that it's going to put a lot of pressure on senators who care about foreign policy to think about what is the right thing for future presidencies. >> i want to get to the senators in a minute. i wanted to take a moment you said about the tapes. one of the things that we don't have, that lawmakers haven't seen are a lot of these documents. what we learned today is that ambassador sondland doesn't have access to some of his own documents. in fact, i want to play some of what he had to say today when he was asked multiple times about his recollection of records and what he did have. take a listen. >> i can't find the records.
if i don't have records schedul schedules. there are lots of notes, records, readout of calls, i can't get to this. again, based on my lack of records. records.on't have all the i wish i could get them. >> sondland making the point white housekeeping these , the - documents out of his hands and suggesting, obviously, they're not just keeping information from congress there. elena, obviously democrats jumping on that. is it also something that there's a sense they could be using as they try to make a case for obstruction? >> absolutely. here's the key thing, erica. right now sort of the main line of defense republicans have for president trump right now is that ambassador sondland's testimony was ultimately a wash because he did say prodded by mike turner, prodded by jim jordan that he was never actually told directly by the president that the aid was being withheld for the explicit purpose of getting ukrainian officials to launch an
investigation into joe biden. what's particularly ironic, of course, is that with republicans saying that nobody who has testified thus far has firsthand knowledge of this is that they won't allow -- this white house won't allow people who could plausibly have firsthand knowledge of this as sondland pointed out today, people like mick mulvaney, secretary pompeo, secretary mike pence, these people were right in the middle per sondland's testimony in this, you know, entire saga. but those are people who this white house has, you know, forbidden from testifying. so the firsthand account defense that republicans are running with i think starts to weaken by the day as democrats start to say, if that's what you've got, then let us hear from those who would have the firsthand knowledge. >> carl, what do you think the chances are that we hear from any of those people? in fact, we have quite a list of people we can put up of people that we haven't heard from, most notably mick mulvaney, secretary
pompeo. john bolton. a lot of people would love to hear from john bolton. >> i think what we need to do is not speculate. i certainly don't know who we're going to hear from. i know that fiona hill, we're going to hear from tomorrow. she is going to tell us a lot of things about john bolton. one of the things that is so extraordinary about what we have seen is we have a president of the united states who at every turn, this is part of the ukraine story as well, has served the interests of russia, a hostile foreign power. and we're going to hear about that, i suspect, in some of tomorrow's testimony. it's also what makes this so different than watergate and perhaps worse in some regards because nixon never tied the fortunes of the united states to a hostile foreign power who he was susceptible to. in this instance whether whitingly, half whitingly,
unwhitingly, that is what donald trump has done throughout his presidency. one other point i'd like to make here about the tapes that were mentioned, the nixon tapes which eventually led to the smoking gun after many, many months of begun with the smoking gun. - the actual transcript or summary of the july 25th conversation that the president himself ordered released is the smoking gun. and what we saw today is how many people were in the loop, as mr. sondland would put it. those closest to the you states in many regards, his lawyer, his secretary of state, his chief of staff in the loop was quite a phrase to hear and, indeed, convincingly sondland showed us that they were. so this in some ways is worse than watergate, particularly
also in regard to this aspect of a foreign power. >> you said earlier this week that senate republicans who had confided in you were deeply disturbed by what they had witnessed. that was monday, i believe, before all of the witnesses that we've heard from and certainly before ambassador sondland. a, have you heard from any of them after the testimony wednesday? and, b, do you have a sense that any of this is moving the needle for any of them to say something publicly? >> first of all, i said how craven those senators have been in not being willing to publicly say what they are saying in private about how disturbed they are. and i have not talked to them -- any of them today. i think it's really important that we point out that i don't think any of us, even the best of the reporters involved in covering this story, know where it's going to go. it can go anybe where. we do not know how the first
term of donald trump is going to end, whether it is in a senate trial, the dynamic of that trial. right now it does not look like it would be a conviction certainly, but any of that can happen and it includes the weigh and the effect of a trial on an election. if donald trump is the candidate, this is going to be a hell of a trial. unlike anything that we've seen. very different from the clinton impeachment trial. so let's not get ahead of our skis as journalists here and -- but there also is great work here. there are so many leads that have been developed in this investigation through the testimony of others and through earlier reporting. this is a real opportunity for reporters and journalists to develop this story further, particularly going after some of those same people who have not been allude to testify, we sure
as hell can try talking to. >> absolutely. and that picks up -- tim, you and i were talking briefly in the break, that you would really hate to see the public hearings and even the investigation end at this point because you feel there is still much more to be learned. >> i'm certain there's much more to be learned because we get that when we listen to professionals like laura cooper. she says -- first of all, she told us that the ukrainians knew much sooner than we understood and that matters because one of the talking points that president trump's loyalists have used is that, well, this wasn't black mail because the ukranians didn't know they were blackmailed. she's made clear, no, in fact they did know there was a holdup of security assistance. what she doesn't know, she's just telling the truth, she doesn't know why there was a hold. no one told her.
they said, there's a hold. there are people in our government who know why there was a hold, and it would be unfortunate not to have the documents produced by those people, email, or their testimony. so i think we could get to the bottom of this and i think that the -- what we see now as a pattern of corruption but we need more information. and one of the things about an impeachment that people have to keep in mind is that this is not a criminal investigation. this is about the conduct of one person. all this is about is whether that one person due to the president of the united states should be removed from office. we still need more data from the people next to that president, the people who talked to the president. we just heard today, for example, that senators called the president to ask him to remove the hold. what did he say to the senators? who are those senators?
did he explain to the senators his rationale? there are a lot of people who probably know why the hold took place and they probably could testify that it was the president who had it placed but they haven't talked yet. ambassador sondland is the first with some direct connection to the president who has put him at the center of the story but then there were others that could. then as carl eluded we would have the story. whether we get it or not is unclear. i hope we don't -- i hope the house doesn't rush the investigations. >> one thing we all need to remember, that's far different decades later is that people have an expectation of immediacy and that is not always the way things get done and certainly not always done well. so we need to remember that. appreciate all of you being with us. elena, tim, carl, thank you very much. impeachment was the first topic of wednesday night's presidential democratic debate. five presidential impeachment jurors on the stage.
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just a short time ago we heard from ten democratic presidential candidates. the e.u. ambassador delivered testimony of a quid pro quo. let's bring in a panel. alexander, as we look at all of this. tonight's debate starting on impeachment at the debate, not surprisingly. the candidates were asked just how central the impeachment should be to any democratic presidential nominee's campaign. here's what bernie sanders had to say. >> sadly, we have a president who's not only a pathological liar, he is likely the most corrupt president in the modern history of america, but we cannot simply be consumed by donald trump because if we are, you know what, we're going to lose the election. >> do you agree, alexander?
>> i think he brings up a good point, i think not just bernie sanders but the rest of the stage got after, which was that this is also about governing after donald trump, right? but i think it's also important that the presidential candidates recognize that we have to right now recognize the moment of history we're in, like bernie said. this is one of the most corrupt pathological liar of the president and it also means that we need to hold him to account and the republican party that is letting him run wild. this hearing today especially means that people need to step up. >> when we look at the polling, too, it's clear that voters want a candidate that can not only take on the candidate but they want a candidate who can beat the president. full disclosure as always, we've endorsed kamala harris. based on what you saw tonight, who among those ten who looks like the candidate who can, in fact, beat donald trump? >> i think when i leave the studio tonight at 3:30 on the
east and midnight on the west i will sleep comfortably knowing that nine out of the ten candidates on stage excluding probably tulsi gabbard will carry the democratic banner and wave it well. i'm somebody who will tell you like many democrats that i will wear a bernie sanders for president t-shirt. i will wear an elizabeth warren for president t-shirt. i already have my kamala harris for president t-shirt. the number one priority whether or not you're in iowa, new hampshire, south carolina, nevada, the number one priority is beating donald trump. i think all of the candidates tonight -- when you look at the polls, we had a poll that was a sobering poll today from marquette and it talked about the swing state of wisconsin. what it showed was that donald trump is either running even or ahead in these swing states. we know we have a battle on our hands and so we know that the top candidates in this race have a chance to beat donald trump, but at the end of the day
alexander will tell you this and i will tell you this as well, we have to unify and we have to have a candidate we can all unify around. i think all of the candidates did a great job of talking about that, talking about those issues and >> so you'll take almost any of them? >> i'll take 90% of the of the field. that's not bad. >> when you talk about what we heard from ambassador sondland, what we have heard in terms of testimony, what are republicans saying about it? what are you hearing? >> i think republicans are thinking some of the hearing was not good and some of it actually turned out well for them. i think they liked what morrison- to say. they liked what volker- to say. i do think sondland was confusing.
mon monomanly to the american people. he states there was a quid pro quo. and then he says that was my asumption. play two sides.as trueing to one way trying to go back to work and not up is this the president and the other side of it was i'm going to cover my rear end because people have realized there might have been some deception during the deposition. so i think it was really confusing and you could see it was frustrating to republicans where they- to flat out ask them did you hear from the president there was a quid pro quo? and he said no. that was my assumption. he goes on to say actually there was a phone call where the president was irritated and said i don't want any of this. i don't want a quid pro quo. i think it was confusing for republicans and the american people watching.
>> you think sondland is the smoking gun, why? >> it wasn't confusing for the american people. sondland came unand gave his opening statement, his testimony. the question was asked was there a quid pro quo? the fact is it isn't even necessary for a quid pro quo to exist. i'm struggling saying it. but it's not even necessary for that to occur to be an obstruction of justice or any other litany of of fences the president has committed. we know for a fact there were investigations that president of the united states wanted investigations launched into not only the server in 2016 but burisma. what sondland said was he didn't know but does now that burisma meant the bidens. and the words that he stated today that he acted at the behest of the president of of
the united states and the president of the united states sent them to rudy giuliani. if the republican party wants to clear this up, then have bolton testify, rudy giuliani testify. the reason they cannot testify is because they will probably end up going to prison if they do. and so i already know rudy giuliani's in a great deal off trouble. i hope my friend mick mulvaney is not. and i look forward to more transparency from the white house. sondland was as close to a smoking gun as you can possibly get. the it question that the republicans should have died on this heel is we know the president of the united states committed an abuse of power, we know he obstructed justice. we know he does not understand the protocols of the white house. but is that impeachable offense? and that's the heel to die on. instead they want to fight nonsense.
and the american public can see through all of that. >> how is the inquiry effecting democrat whose are vying for attention and hoping to grab this attention leading to iowa in a number of days at it this point? >> i think recent polls have shown that these hearings and the general talk of impeachment is working, especially among dedemocrats. 70% of people, not just democrats but above in a recent abc poll show they don't approve of donald trump's handling of this and want the president to be held account. for can democrats in the field it's really important to recognize that we have to handle it this moment right now for the count tree show that woo can hold the most powerful person in our country to account while making sure we're charting a path forward, especially in awu. and that's what i think a lot of the presidential debates to the
lean on that and also painting a vision of what you're going to do to keep the next donald trump from happening. >> we'll be back. first though last months donald trump called his e.u. ambassador a really good american and a good man. now he appears to barely know the man. i'm a verizon engineer, and i'm part of the team building the most powerful 5g experience for america. it's 5g ultra wideband-- --for massive capacity-- --and ultra-fast speeds. almost 2 gigs here in minneapolis. that's 25 times faster than today's network in new york city. so people from midtown manhattan-- --to downtown denver-- --can experience what our 5g can deliver. (woman) and if verizon 5g can deliver performance like this in these places... it's pretty crazy. ...just imagine what it can do for you. ♪
america hill, thank 2rz joining us. gordon sondland was the first pur person to testify. so was there a with quid pro quo? the answer is yes. he explicitly linked the president to the demand for investigations into his political opponent and the 2016 election. the president recently offered high praise for his hand- picked diplomat. now a familiar refrain. turns out the president hardly knows him.
>> just so you know i don't know him very well. he's a guy that got put there. he wasn't even on my side. i didn't even know that. >> take a listen. >> he has spoken to you often? >> what's often? >> well, you said at least 20 times? >> well, if that's often, then it's often. >> and you donated a million dollars to his inaugural committee, is that right? >> i bought a vvip ticket to his inauguration. >> that's a lot of money, right? >> that's a lot of money. >> there's a lot to get to that left you scratching your head. most notably the fact that ambassador sondland said on more than one occasion he- a tough
time are ecallirecalling certai. >> i can't find the records. if i don't have records, schedules. there are lots of notes, readouts of calls, can't get to them. i can't recall. again without all these records. again, based on my lack of records. i just wish i- all the records. >> republican counsel questioning his inability to recall detail. but that same time there's a question about why he doesn't have access to the records and noets notes and that's because he's not allowed to see them. so there's a little something for everybody in that answer. but it is still mind boggling. >> well, it is a pattern of behavior by the white house to obstruct the investigation of congress. plain and simple. they are denying congress these
witnesses that congress needs to hear from. they are denying these witnesses access to information they need to be truthful and fulfilling of their obligation to tell the truth and nothing but the truth and holistically. so what we see here really is the by-product of this obstructionest behavior by the white house. and if they don't stop or the court doesn't stop them, all they're going to do is walk in to articles of impeachment much in the same way richard nixon did. >> sondland is a little bit different than some of the witnesses that testified. he is still working for the u.s. government. you typically keep things like your schedule on your unclassified system. you have access to unclassified emails when you're still employed by the u.s. government. i don't doubt that state
department and white house are making records to the president's call logs unreachable to sondland. but it's unclear why he wouldn't have access to anything on his schedule. so unless he was really just wheeling and dealing without keeping anything on his official schedule and using his personal cell phone for everything that he did, i don't really understand why he's having so much trouble accessing information. >> as we keep saying the more we hear, the more questions we have. and that's an excellent point and one that deserves an answer. another thing that was remarkable is we heard from ambassador sondland the specifics about the investigation that the president wanted and what he wanted in terms of the meet or a lack thereof. >> i never heard mr. goldman,
anyone say that investigations had to start or had to be completed. >> they needed to be announced. what kind of message does that send, not only to the ukrainians but this is what we're hearing from ambassador sondland today and this is being heard around it the world. >> i think what you're hearing and what the ukrainians heard was from an administration, a president that prides itself on saying we're going to drain the swamp, year seeing pretty swa swamp-like behavior. why would you want it them to announce an investigation as opposed to carrying through? this is clearly a propaganda move to make a point. and that's got to be confusing
for a brand new president like zelensky who's used to dealing with the russian swamp. in other words, the sort of typical corruption that happens in autooceracies and authoritarian regimes. not used to hearing that so much from the united states. it's got to be sort of confusing and a dark message. all you got to do is play along to make a point and that's all we need from you. they definitely understood they needed to do something if they wanted the things they really needed to protect their can country better. >> we saw the opening statement from devin nunes who was once again attacking the process and attacking the fact that they were sitting there. as we've heard from him over successive days. but then there was a it allal b -- little bit of a shift. >> ambassador sondland, you are
here today to be smeared. >> as we get to the end here, you don't have records, you don't have your notes because you didn't take notes, you don't have a lot of recollections. i mean this is like the trifecta of unreliability. isn't that true? >> what i'm trying to do today is use the limited information i have to be as forthcoming as possible with you and the rest t of the committee and as these recollections have been refreshed by subsequent testimony, by texts and emails i've now- access to, i think i filled in a lot of blanks. >> it's remarkable we have devin nunes saying you're here to be smeared. and republicans thought was going to be a far different witness than what they heard in the opening statement. >> and we've heard reporting that white house was quote
unquote blindsided by the testimony. they with were able to shift very quickly to go from warning someone he is going to be smeared. like the white house smeared lieutenant colonel vindman when he was testifying, to break down his credibility as a witness. they attacked various parts of his testimony. again he is on his way to brussels to represent the u.s. government. he gave his testimony today. we have to imagine the president is starting to fume about it. there may be a tweet. and at what point do they get together and say sondland's testimony was too damming? at what point do we see retaliation against him? we don't know when that may be but we should expect the same kind of behavior from nunes and every witness that comes forward if they don't hear what they want to hear.
>> there was a cdistancing of course -- >> gordon sondland said he spoke to the president 20 times, what have you. i can't think of any u.s. government official that president obama spoke with 20 times on the telephone overseas. but for somebody to be able to call the president or hear from the president 20 times indicate as level of closeness that typically is for thesic are eita -- secretary of state or enational security advisor. >> what were they talking about in the 20 or so times? asap rocky helped jog the memory today. there's another big question and that is russia. what could russia be getting out of all of it this? these folks don't have time to go to the post office
in just under seven hours president trump's former top russia advisor is set to testify, which bringsz us us t another figure, vladimir putin. they noticed a change of attitude and approach towards ukraine in the wake of president trump meeting with putin. back with me now. it's fascinating because we have talked so much about how all roads seem to lead to rudy giuliani but those roads also, in many cases, seem to lead to russia. and one of the latest examples is brought up in testimony in terms of russia's role and russia perhaps benefitting. take a listen. >> would you say that the delay in of military aid to ukraine
russia? have a benefit to - >> i think it could be looked at that way. >> and if it is looked at that way, what does that do for russia and what does that do for the u.s.? >> i think it there's a couple of different ways this whole situation benefits vladimir putinb and russia. ukraine is critically important to russia. it's already annexed, chopped off part of it, crimea. it basically wants ukraine to can come back to the fold and be part of russia again. when president zelensky see the corrupt actions, that plays into a putin talking point saying democracy say they're open abut they're corrupt. come back to mother russia.
and just before our 2016 elections putin has been working hard to drive divisions in our society politically and basically in any way that he can. in doing so he's got us going at each other and now we're hyperfocussed on this impeachment thing. which allows him to expand his presence in the middle east while we're focussed on this impeachment circus. it's a win-win for putin and i think he sees it that way and he's going to continueb to push until somebody says we've got to stop. wreevler got to contain. >> and in this federal indictment we know fruman and with were being funded by russian money. so that's what we're learning in that fderal indictment. the big question is what more
could there be? >> there's a lot of linkage to russian money in the entire orbit? we're seeing it here in parnas in fruman. i don't know if there's an over effort to money launder. mueller thought so and indicted four people for behavior associated with that. but i think the bottom line is to the extents that we behave in a corrupt way, in -- to the extent we behave in a hypocritical way, we undermine ourselves on the global stage. i think it's time we take stock and understand the implications it has for us geo politically. >> and maybe look at more than one thing at a time.
the timeline is interesting here. because we look at the meeting in the oval office. that was may 10th of 2017. may 18th is when ru-- 8th was wn rudy giuliani first met with ukrainians. >> it started from what we know is paul manafort who was working with former ukrainians part of a pro-russia party. so the oridgeinatigination -- a though as we know we sanctioned russia for exactly that activity. and i will note we have sanctioned russia for something else with respect to 2016 election information.
information war fare. donald trump by having him investigate his rivals, he was soliciting forei soliciting operations from a foreign government. he was asking for what we sanctioned russia for in the past. that is remarkable and underscores the fact that russia is not own lawinning but potentially gaining leverage over ukraine and our elections is being undermined from within. >> how difficult, even the conversation that we're having and there are are plenty of people concerned about the integrity of the u.s. elections. the integrity of the demuckeracy. they're concerned about what
could happen in terms off russian interference. but when we see all the different narratives floating around, making the people -- i shouldn't say make them but to get through to people on the fence, it's happening and won't effect me. it's important to get that message through. >> absolutely. there's so much stuff floating around that i think it is confusing to a lot of americans. a lot was made -- just about every time a republicanope oens their mouth. oh, we just sent blankets to crane and this administration sent weapons. there's truth to that. i was watching when they made difficult can decisions. and a lot of 350e7al don't understand the important. these are the things that are
confusing tomany americans. a good administration would be explaining the important role ukraine, as a young democracy, plays. but with all the name calling and it's just amazingly confusing. and vladimir putin will take that to the bank because that confusion he started by propaganda and active measures campaign. it works well for russia and negatively efects the united states. >> thank you. the word "historic" was used a lot around sondland's testimony wednesday. how does it really compare though thee biggest crisis ever faced by president? a former nixon library director to give us context next. (employee) enterprise car sales has access to over
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a book that you're ready to share with the world? get published now, call for your free publisher kit today! sources tell cnn they expressed distress at what they heard. if you hear the president tell, he's calling sondland's testimony a win and exoneration. and some are comparing it to when the former white house counsel turned on him. co can author of impeachment and american history and famed watergate journalist. and there's somuch comparison to
watergate. there's a way this is being consumed. take a listen. >> frankly, i think if nixon had fox fox primetime he never would have left office. >> and we have this insatiable appetite for information and get it immediately. but there's also where you get your information and it is so different than the way people got information 40 years ago. >> certainly. look, things happen in their own time. so you can't make too men a useful comparisons of events in different eras. there's no question that fox is perhaps the most important political development in changing our political culture.
in the last 25/30 years. it's been hugely influential and it's not a news operation. it really is about presenting a particular ideology and point of view. and it's changed culturally. who we are in this country. we're in a cold civil war. and i'm not sure we would be in this cold civil war without fox being in the trenches of the cold civil war for all these years. but let's take a look at some of the can comparisons between watergate and now. the difference is the system worked in watergate. richard nixon tried to make conduct of the press an issue in watergate. it didn't work. it's worked much more successfully for donald trump. in both instances the presidents
of the united states, nixon and trump, tried to undermine the very basis of our democracy, a free electoral system. in nixon's case he didn't want to run against the stronger candidate and he approved a massive campaign off sabotage to cripple his candidacy, much as joe biden has been targeted by donald trump. the difference being that nixon never went to a foreign power to undermine the american electoral process. he did it with this massive campaign at home. the other aspects that are different is the republicans. the republicans became the real here os of watergate because they put, many of them, principal above party. both in the senate watergate hearings and then in the votes
in the judiciary committee and when it came time for a senate trial because nixon was going to be impeached by the house and nixon thought he could prevail in the senate, goldwater, the 1964 nominee of his party led a delegation of republican leaders to the oval office, sat down with nixon. nixon expected goldwater to it tell him he would aid him in an acquit tho acquittal to thesont. goldwater said mr. president, you might have four votes now and you are not going to have mine. and two days later nixon resigned. so that is the huge difference. and whether -- this far we have seen no cracks, no willingness to put principal above party. is very clear what has happened in this ukraine situation.
it's not very ambiguous. the question is whether some republicans are going to be curages. none of us know where this is going. >> there's also the question of the american public. if we take a look at the most recent polls, they're split over impeachment. look at the position on impeachment. can you imagine changing your position on impeachment? 65% of respondents said no. >> that may be partially a consequence of the fact that we have developed these sealed bubbles. so what's happening is what psychologists call conformation. they're looking to hear from people you know we've already agree with you. in fact changing your mind is an uncomfortable thing to do.
i've been looking at the republicans in the nixon period and try to understand why so many chose country over party, not because republicans do that but because it seemed so alien. and what's interesting is in the run up to the president's resignation there were leaders in the republican party that wanted 96n to resign. they felt he was pulling down the brand and they were angry at him. but they were told by the rank and file republicans around the country don't do this. this doesn't help us andmany of them said we're going to lose votes either way. if we support the president, we're going to lose votes unour district. if we go against him, we will lose support in our district.
i think something that's changed is the district. i i'm not stlur are republicans in districts. i think they're only going to lose votes if they vote against the president and that changes the calculation. what's interesting and such a patriotic story. those republicans who sat on the judiciary committee and we haven't yet watched. the one whose sat as jurors, once they got the details and actually studied them, they realize we have to vote against the president because there's a climate of corruption. and not all of them came to that conclusion but enough of them did to make the committee bipartisan. the question is has our political dna change so much that it's not possible when they
bring all the data together to conclude as those did in 1974? i'm an optimist by nature. one of the things important is they were all lawyers. everybody was a lawyer. soas a lawyerer they looked at the data and said the president has actually not discharged his responsibilities as his oath prescribes. are they capable off that today? i don't know. but i remain hopeful that some will conclude that there is a cost to keeping someone in office who seeks corrupt objectives. >> i appreciate your help. thank you both. the leading 2020 democrats facing off just a short time ago. how has impeachment dominated the fifth debates. geico makes it easy to get help when i need it. with licensed agents available 24-7, it's not just easy. it's having-jerome-bettis- on-your-flag-football-team easy. go get 'em, bus! ohhhh!
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fifth democratic presidential debate. let's get a little perspective here. good to have you all back with us. as we look at what we heard tonight from these democrats, obviously impeachment was going to be a focus. right there off the top. and so they started with questions about impeachment, pete buttigieg- this to say. take a listen. >> the impeachable conduct we have seen and the abuse of power that we're learning more about but to be clear the president has already confessed to it on television. >> when we look at this and that is the message we're hearing from various candidates, there's concern that president trump cannot dominate their campaigning or could take away from the end result. how do you work that balance? >> i mean i think even though
pete talked about that, a lot of what he's talk saed about is th governing vision after donald trump. and i think that balance comes with talking about issues and solutions for some of the biggest crisis we're facing, hitting americans right at home while acknowledging this moment. so looking at recent elections we jus we just had last week. if you look at a place like kentucky where trump won by over 30 points, where democrats are winning, impeachment is not the thing that democrats are running on there but it's definitely something in the air and clearly democrats want action on. so i think you have to balance this governing vision for the future. big solutions, big ideas that bernie is promoting and pete is trueing to balance allying
himself with while holding the president accountable. >> obviously impeachment important, not just in terms of of governing but what happens next. we have five senators vying for the nomination. at the beginning of of the year we're talking iowa, new hampshire, very important moments. how much planning -- you support kamala harris. do you have a sense of how much they're considder what they'll need do and they're in washington and pete buttigieg is campusing in iowa? >> i suspect he'll have all five of the senators in washington d.c. as much as he can. those senators are go having to to do their job and campaign. there's no ifs, ands and but about it. i think one of the things we've seen is while impeachment is a
big issue. we saw recently in louisiana, virginia, kentucky. that there are tangible iegs as democrats took over the house based on health care. but there is a moment for all five of the senators while they are jurors and we've seen cory booker and kamala harris take advantage of that. so there will be moments during this impeachment process where someone may be able to have a breakout moment. the fact is this race is completely fluid and with this impeachment going on, we don't know what's going to happen nex ppt -- and we'll soowhat happens between now and the next 70 some odd days. >> meanwhile, at the white house the president saying earlier today look, you won. it's over.
we also have our reporting that many folks were blindsided by the teimony from gordon sondland. >> i don't doubt reporting was blindsided. i have been to say based on the multiple republican aids, many work for senator whose i expected to be in some way moved by ambatsdssador sondland's testimony, thought they it went far better than they thought it would be. i was unable to identify a single senator who may be interested in convicting the president in the senate based on the ambassador's testimony today and that's why i think you saw the dynamic play out, which is to say the candidates want to dwell on impeachment. of course they did their due it delgence.
from saying they do believe the president has committed an impeachable offense. we're quick to tranceilate that into the bigger kwigz of vision of of the country. elizabeth warren said money corrupt cans government and it shouldn't be the case you can donate a million dollars to an inauguration commit a and immediately get an ambassadorship. i think that sent a message that candidates are just as aware as senate republicans and democrats alike that tide hasn't shifted quite enough. >> and as we saw in the polling we were just pouking about when people are asked f could they change where they were at? and i believe skoev say can't
imagine. there are important issues that voters want to hear about. they want to hear about plans for health care, jobs, family leave, education. these are all important moments. so as candidates are balancing this, has there also been a sense of a pull back in terms of talking about impeachment because democrats don't want to turn voters away? >> i think we have to be care if we don't do anything, which is the president of the united states saying i did nothing wrong. they tried to do something and we couldn't. i think it's not something we want to put anything into because there's so much more than just this. but it's not something we ecan shy aibwespecially because it's
by the president and we need hold him to account. >> and the fact that it's not just the beginsing of the year but we don't know exactly when things are going to wrap up in the white house. frfrs it eems every witness leads to a new thread. and how much of that a discussion behind the scenes? >> i don't know how much is a discussion behind the scenes. donald trump is like keke palmer meme. every time someone says something he doesn't like, i don't know this man. now you don't know someone who donated a million dollars to you. it's it equally as embarrassing
when they have to out and arkickulates reasons to die on the heel. i think this wall- to-wall coverage of the lunacy of this white house benefits the democratic party. the flip side is you can't allow they're killing. which is what terry mccallau helped and what attorney general hood attempted to do in mississippi where he came up five points short. and i'm quite comfortal in believing the democratic party will find that balance. and while donald trump is being a huge meme, the rests of the country just wants them to acknowledge a vision going forward and who's the best person to carry the banner. dprrs >> thank you.
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democrats what they wanted wednesday. a first-hand witness that could link it the president to an abuse of power. where does this all lead? i want to play something for you because what stood out is what we heard a few weeks ago and what we heard from gordon sondland today. here are those two moments.
>> show me something that is a crime. if you could show me that trump actually was engaging in a quid epro quo out std the phone call, that would be very disturbing. mr. giuliani's requests were a quid pro quo for arranging a white house visit for president zelensky. mr. giuliani demanded that ukraine make a public statement announcing the investigations of of the 2016 election enc server and burisma. mr. giuliani was expressing the desires of the president of the united states >> and that last line the key there. mr. giuliani was expressing the desires of the president of the united states. do you think that's enough for lindsey graham? >> no and the point today is not that there was insufficient evidence to move republicans.
the evidence today is that there is no evidence to move republicans. what has been accumulated already and certainly today in the unequivocal testimony about there being quid pro quo and everyone being in the loop. i think one outcome is it is now essentially guaranteed f it wasn't already that the house will imepeapeach donald trump a it's unclear whether any republicans will vote other than justin who's left the party on this overwhelming evidence. i think what this says is they're withdrawing from the idea that there is one common set of rules that should apply at all times to all officials, really all americans and in essence as long as donald trump is in position to give us the power to do the things we want,
there is almost nothing we will not accept. this is not the last exit on the highway. if you watch the president's inclination, if he can survive this without any real indication the republicans will not be locking arms no matter what he does, do we think this is the last way he will push against boundaries and custom? >> the argument is being made that this should be decided in november. this should be put to the american people. it should not be happening the away it's happening. one of the many lines we've heard from republicans. it there have been no interesting outcomes that were not way republicans wanted them to ego as we know and very recently. how much do you think they are -- honestly because we know so much of the calculations for
republicans and democrats alike, is keeping their jobs. it is continuing to keep the job in washington. based on what we have seen in the most recent elections, do you think that's starting to come into play lat for republicans? >> the first half of your question. one reason you can't leave this to tent 2020 is this is it designed to shape 2020. and the second reason why it seems inapprop retoriate is bec of what i said. if you allow conduct this egregious, and i don't think there's any question the. and if you allow this to go unsanctioned, what will come next? for republicans, republicanf-elected officials face reality that tlar dependent
they use stamps.com all the services of the post office only cheaper get a 4-week trial plus postage and a digital scale go to stamps.com/tv and never go to the post office again. we have to establish the principal no one is above the law and we need meet it. >> 2020 candidate said take on impeachment out of the gate during last night's debate. >> was there a quid pro quo? >> as i testified previously with regard to the white house call and meeting the answer issious.