tv Anderson Cooper 360 CNN November 21, 2019 8:00pm-9:00pm PST
11:00 p.m. here in new york and washington two witnesses today provided a powerful ending to this chapter of house impeachment proceedings. hill the president's former top russia expert and david holmes who over heard the president's phone conversation with sondland. the ambassador in kiev. emotional and factual punch adding to two weeks of public testimony an effort by the president to squeeze personal
politic political favors out of a country at war and dire need of american assistance. the question tonight what happens next. how politically risky is it for democrats to move forward. what does it say given the evidence not one republican has moved snd what does that see about the party is now and where it's going? we'll talk about that. first of all the key moments from today and the last two weeks. >> the impeachment inquiry into -- >> the first day of open hearings the top diplomat in ukraine told about the unofficial policy in ukraine. and the people who were running it. >> i encountered an irregular informal channel with respect to ukraine. unaccountable to congress. a channel that included then special enjoy volker. u.s. ambassador sondland and
secretary of energy perry. white house chief of staff mick mulvaney. and i subsequently learned mr. giuliani. the odd push to make president zelensky publicly commit to investigate and alleged interference in the 2016 election showed how the official foreign policy of the united states was under cut by the irregular efforts let by mr. giuliani. >> he testified alistening side deputy assistant secretary of state who found rudy giuliani actions in ukraine deeply troubling. >> what interest do you believe he was promoting? >> i believe he was looking to dig up political dirt against a potential rival in the next election cycle. >> i agree with mr. kent. >> two days later former ambassador to ukraine yovanovitch. sat down for the questioning. she was fired from her post in may and accused rudy giuliani of being behind her outser. trump criticized yovanovitch.
who is a career diplomat who served more than 30 year. he kept you want his attack. tweeting about her during the hearing. >> ambassador yovanovitch, as we sit here testifying the president is attacking you on twitter. >> i can't speak to what the president is trying to do. the effect is to be intimidating. >> democrats pounced saying his tweet amounted to witness tampering. and yovanovitch testified she felt threatened by what trump said about her. >> what was the reaction when you heard the president of the united states refer to you as bad news? >> i couldn't believe it. shock, appalled. devastated. that the president of the united states would talk about any ambassador like that. >> taylor, kent and yovanovitch set the tone for the inquiry. stark dramatic warnings from career officials. >> then it was the turn of two people who heard directly from
president trump. talking about investigations that he wanted during a july 25th phone call with the ukraine president. lieutenant colonel vindman the top ukraine expert at the national security counsel and jennifer williams. >> in this call, between the president of the united states and ukraine. trump demanded a favor of president zelensky to conduct investigations that both you acknowledge were for president trump's political interest. not the national interest. in return for his promise of a much desired white house meeting for president zelensky. vindman is that an accurate summary? >> yes. >> miss williams? >> yes. >> vindman was so concerned he went to the lawyers. >> it was inappropriate. it was improper for the president to request demand an
investigation into a political opponent. >> later that day, former u.s. envoy to ukraine, volker testified. alongside former senior director tim morris son. volker a witness republicans had been counting on said he's aware of a request for an investigation. into the bidens. he claims he didn't realize it at the time. >> i understand that others saw the idea of investigating possible corruption as equal to investigating former vice president biden. i saw them as different. i should have seen that connection differently. and had i done so i would have raised objections. >> house democrats inched closer to the president by next calling sondland. the u.s. ambassador to european union. sondland is the only witness so far who spoke directly to president trump. about investigations. he previously said it was chris
cal clear no quid pro quo of any kind. but he then reversed testimony. admitting in his opening statement it happened and it was not a secret. >> was there a quid pro quo? >> the answer is yes. >> republicans jumped on sondland. saying he was merely assuming a quid pro quo. >> did the president tell you personally about preconditions? for anything? >> no. >> doctor hill was next. expressed her frustration can sondland while she was working at the top russia expert. >> i did say to him i think this is all going to blow up. >> she didn't realize sondland was carrying out a different mission than her own. >> he was involved in a domestic political errand. we were being involved in national security foreign policy. those two things had just diverged. >> next to hill. david holmes. testified he over heard trump speaking with sondland by phone. >> ambassador sondland replied
yes he was in ukraine and stated the president zelensky quote loves your ass. i heard president trump ask so he'll do the investigation? ambassador sondland replied he will do it. adding president zelensky will do anything you ask him to do. >> making him one more witness who heard the president himself talking about investigations. >> five days of testimony. 12 witnesses. democrats ready to move forward. republicans saying none of this shows evidence of a crime. >> having set the stage. let's talk about the drama. two weeks of the hearings from the tone of chairman schiff tonight it sound like he's more or less wrapped up his phase. did the democrats make a solid case? >> a very solid case on the merit. on the question of whether there
was a series of misdeeds. i think the evidence is overwhelming. compelling. where i think they may not have judged properly is thousand will play in the country. we don't know yet. the early signs the country is not paying attention. the priorities of the country impeachment number ten. and i think it's been hard for the public to follow. you have ten different characters who come on stage. none are known to the public before this all happened. and trying to keep up with who is who. and no chronology. we're not walking our way through it. we're jumping around. and various members of congress ask questions. it's given it a jumpy. it's hard for people to follow and people are exhausted. by this. it's not to say the democrats can't recoop. it is to say this is still very
much we'll look toward settling this at the ballot box in november. >> do you think that's the case? >> i think that's right. more phases to this in the house. reports that will go over to the judiciary committee. the things you're talking about. whether the public understands this. whether or not a clear martive was set forth. maybe the house judiciary can get to. no more depositions some transcripts will be released possibly from the depositions that happened. i think the case had compelling moments. the fact impeachment is number ten on the list. in some ways suggests it probably not a voting issue for people. we have all the polls that suggest maybe it's under water in battleground states maybe it's split nationally. it's not clear for who it will be a voting issue for. republican you don't like the impeachment. democrat likes it. and think the president should be impeached.
it's unclear where it will fall on independents. whether it will motivate somebody to change their vote. >> that was the key thing in the poll. independents and actually in the poll that they are clearly against impeachment. that is the thing i think should be concerning. you're right. we know where democrats will end up and republicans. but democrats do need to be concerned about independents. and concerned about what is happening in battleground states and there's a poll in wisconsin showing it's not working to their advantage. >> pull away from the politics. it's important and let's not lose sight of the right and wrong. after the conclusion of the impeachment hearings i don't see any way fair minded neutral open minded observer can possibly doubt donald trump was guilty of trying to extort ukraine. into helping him politically and
with holding u.s. aide to do that. there's no way to reach any other conclusion based on these hearings. these witnesses were very clear. very consistent. the evidence corroborated each other and corroborated the outside piece of evidence that we have. the rough transcript of the phone call between trump and zelensky. on july 25. this is the very definition of a high crime and misdemeanor. it is very frustrating to me to hear republicans like herd who are more fair minded than the jordans and nunes. saying this is improper but not impeachable. congressman i say if this is not impeachable what is? this is the most impeachable conduct i think we have ever seen from a president of the united states. and we have to hold him account no matter what the politics are. >> that's been the refrain from the most of the democrats. since president trump was elected and from people who don't support the president. they wanted to impeach him from
day one. that worked against the ability to change mind here. even if you think everything is true and proven. beyond a reasonable doubt. there have been moments during the presidency as republicans see it the democrats have cried wolf. and wanted to impeach him time and again. with an election looming there's republicans who say i don't love everything i heard. but the american people ought to get a chance to weigh in. by the time an impeachment trial wraps up we're casting the first ballot in the presidential election. democrats succeeded in one thing. scratched the itch in their party that existed since election night. but didn't succeed in convincing one republican in the united states congress to see it their way. >> the facts are on the democrats side? >> they have laid out a case here that shows bad judgment for sure. some people did dumb stuff. inserting giuliani was a dumb
idea. i think along the way they have done things that have been hyper partisan that drained trust out of the process. and caused republicans to question the process itself. so i think they made interesting points but i don't think they got to a place with any of the witnesses or any of the hearings where a republican would say i have heard enough and i'm coming to your side. herd's speech today i predict is what you'll hear out of republicans on the house and senate. varying degrees of discomfort. nobody wants to throw a president out of the office for the first time in american history over a process that is totally one sided. >> you're a former federal prosecutor. this is not a legal case. the closest thing in the court system is a grand jury. how do you think the democrats did prosecuting their case? >> they did a good job given the limitations. remember the most important witnesses and all of the relevant documents were blocked
by the white house. what they need to do is this is the part of the grand jury process where prosecutor would make argument to the grand jury. before they vote. the chance they have to talk to the house before the vote. that's where they can put it together in a logical way. in order. so it's not piecemeal. they have a chance to put the case out there in a way people can understand and i don't know whether it will move the house republicans or not. that will be the opportunity to do that. to persuade them and the american public. >> we'll have more ahead. we'll look to the next chapter hearings in the house judiciary committee and potential final chapter a senate trial. joining us later a perspective juror. in new jersey. i'm finding it hard to stay on top of things
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what could come after that during a possible trial in the senate. i'm joined by new jersey democratic senator. looking at the last two weeks of hearings. how do you think it went for the democratic colleagues in the house? >> i think that chairman schiff out lined very clearly a series of witnesses including many republican witnesses. those working for the administration. and out line that is troublesome. that seems to appear to have created a real picture of abuse of power by the president. and one that i think hill, doctor hill today made very clear. what's the consequences to the average american? the consequences that we have a narrative that under mines democracy. that invites foreign government to get involved in our election.
and that creates a national security threat because some of the colleagues and the president continue to put out a false narrative about ukraine. when it's really russia that we should be concerned about. and russia that is it still seeking to interfere next years presidential election. >> you think house democrats need to get some republican support before this goes to a full house vote? >> well, all i can say is listening to the information that has been brought forth at these hearings, where the narrative is pretty well established including with ambassador sondland. and today ambassador hill. and the political at the u.s. political at the ukraine embassy that over heard the conversation within ambassador sondland and the president. it's clear there's a direct line where the president abused power. invited a foreign government to
get involved in our elections. and undermines national security of the united states. if that is not of concern to republican colleagues i don't know what will. if you take oath of office to uphold the constitution seriously, then i think that some of the them have a real cause to think about what vote they'll cast in this regard. it's beyond a part son issue. this is about the nation democracy. about the nation security. and at the end of the day, that oath of office is to the constitution. not to the president of the united states. >> there's reporting tonight republican senators are in talks with the white house about possibility of limiting the impeachment trial in the senate to two weeks. is that something you would support? is it enough time in your opinion? it would also add the advantage of not tieing down democratic senators running for president to campaign.
>> well, i'm not for the limitation of time. my only limitation of time is whatever it takes to present a full case to the senate for the consideration about guilt or innocence. and to my colleagues who are running for president, i'm sure they would take equally as serious they oath of office. and that means being in the senate for whatever period of time is necessary to make a full and complete case of all the facts. and an opportunity for a determination by the senate. and so i'm not for artificial time lines here. this is too serious. there's a reason the founders created the ability of impeachment in the constitution of the united states. they didn't want the president to act as a king. they wanted to act as a president. if we allow the president of the united states to abuse his office with impunity and he gets
away with it, ultimately what we are inviting is not the democracy with checks and balances. we are inviting a tyranny. that's something far too serious at the end of the day. for the concerns of who's running for the president or republicans to limit the time. >> majority leader told reporters earlier this week he can't imagine a situation under which president trump would be removed from office. is it appropriate for the majority leader to essentially deliver a verdict in a senate trial that hasn't happened yet? everybody can't be expected to be completely impartial. it's a political process. >> it's true. but the when you take oath of office you say i seek to uphold the constitution of the united states. not politically convenient but to uphold the constitution. and so to prejudge the decision at the end of the day is in my
mind a political decision. not an upholding of the oath. as far as i'm concerned, i don't know how one can make the determination. if you already have a decision before you have heard all the facts and while haven't sat through every moment of the hearings. i have a job to do. when the facts are presented to the senate a verdict should be rendered. not before. that's a political decision by the majority leader. if that's what he's saying is going to happen before it happens. i would say to my senate colleagues on both sides of the aisle what the nation needs now is patriots not partisan. >> appreciate your time. up next what political legal team make of a possible senate trial. and late report on white house reaction. as we continue the long historic week. when we were looking for a roommate,
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it is remarkable when you stop and think about it. it's only been ten weeks since the whistleblower report became known and this story erupted. the congressional standards that's barely heartbeat. we should point out johnson was impeached in days. proceedings are going quickly with modern standards. we spoke with a potential juror. back with the political and legal team. would it behoove democrats to get this moving along quickly? to get the trial and in the senate to be in the neighborhood
of two weeks? >> i don't think they should rush it. you would like to conclude it before iowa and new hampshire. they haven't found their groove yet and need time. they need a message. i think they have -- from my point of view schiff is has done a fine job pulling us together. i think he would be helpful for him to have a partner. a woman of moral authority. somebody we need another couple of voices on the democratic side who can appeal to the american psych. i think max was right about the seriousness of this. we have a moral responsibility. this is a political trial. the jurors will be the public. and the democrats haven't figured out yet how to bring the message to them. >> i agree. that the public is the ultimate jury. i think most of the republicans
however are hopeless cause. you're not going to convince them. it's not for a lack of evidence. it's not because they are fairly weighing evidence and saying there was a different procedure. nunes was complaining the impeachment hearings should be in the judiciary committee. not intelligence. does anybody think he would support it in the judiciary? or making lame conspiracy theories which hill slapped down today. these are not serious arguments. they are standing behind trump because he has the support of 85% of the republicans. and as long as that is the case they are going to turn a deaf ear to the evidence that they are hearing. they'll turn a blind eye to the evidence they are seeing. the only thing that will move some republicans is if you see declining republican support for a the president trump. based on the case. that goes to the point about the need to make the case to the country. that process is still ongoing.
>> i think that's right. i think america is a partisan and very divided place. and i'm not sure bringing on a woman or explaining it in keeping it short and making it longer. i'm not sure it makes a difference. a lot of this stuff is baked in. people are in their corners. the democrats moved part of the public along. it's 5050 in terms of where people are. that was before they put on a trial. it seems like it's essentially stayed that way. i don't know if individual voters are thinking about who they vote for based on whether or not they voted for impeachment. that's the point i was making. we don't know if it's an actual voting issue. democrats clearly know that republicans for the last two years have stood behind the president in every way. i don't know they went in here thinking they were going to move a block of republicans in the house or senate.
they want to put on the case and want to say an american president can't do this. >> if they lose the case, and also lose the country, lose the argument. that will imperil them in november. >> i don't know we know that. >> if they have a trial in the senate and only democrats vote to convict trump and he goes out and spends several months saying for the second time they came after me and i was totally exonerated. democrats will howl. that's what he'll say. somebody to help sell the message to the american people i can't think of a worse person to put the face of this than schiff. for republicans. if you're trying to convince republicans of something putting schiff in charge i can't think of a worse idea. for whatever job he did in the committee. which i'm not disputing. his performance during the mueller inquiry and promises to the american people that didn't come to pass. he drained any probability or possibility that he had of
convincing a single republican of anything. i think you're right, if schiff is the face of the campaign to convince a republican of something, you fail before you start. >> who would it be? >> there's no person. you had republicans saying there was no quid pro quo. there was. then it was like the ukrainians didn't know about it. they did. and trump is concerned corruption. and he never mentioned it. and pulls back the ambassador who is known for fighting corruption. >> and didn't care if the investigation actually -- >> it goes into the whole thing yesterday about how it's just because he doesn't like foreign aide. at the same time but why would he ever pull back foreign aide from ukraine. all we heard about how much he loves ukraine and cares about ukraine. every single argument republicans have made has been shot down. and it shows they don't care about what's true. they don't. it doesn't matter if it's schiff
or who is saying it. every single argument you have made has been knocked down. >> first of all i haven't made the arguments. >> not you. >> my arguments have been they should have admitted it froms beginning and threw rudy under the bus. it was probable the democrats were going to show at least a approaching something they would be able to sell as quid pro quo. i don't think it was smart to switch to bribery. i'm not sure they pursue the correct argument. i always thought it was unlikely that putting schiff in charge of any process in which you want to have hope of convincing any republican to do anything was destined to fail. here we are. >> you can't throw rudy under the bus because trump led the whole thing. >> we'll take a break. the facts president trump's reaction to the testimony. and his efforts to shape the possible trial in the senate. help.
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white house official tells us they believe today's two witnesses were not damaging. separately a white house spokesperson in an interview said while president trump feels there's no basis for impeachment he opts a trial in the senate and bring up witnesses. for more on the reaction there. with the hearings wrapped up for
now, talk about the president and the white house how they're feeling tonight. what people are saying. >> as of right now the president feels comfortable with where things stand. white house officials don't believe he's really in any danger of being convicted. and removed from office. as you said white house officials told cnn that they didn't really feel that hill or holmes provided really damaging testimony to the president. one official saying something was missing a smoking gun. they said they were made uncomfortable be by the testimony of sondland and initially felt he was strong in proclaiming there was a quid pro quo. but got confident and comfortable once republicans started questioning him and making the case his argument was based on assumption. and what the president actually wanted. we should point out one white house official did admit that if
there were testimony from other officials say former national security adviser bolton or the at acts chief of staff. that could change the equation. but seeing as how that's highly unlikely they would testify, they're confident with where things stand. >> the state department the white house refused to turn over documents making it obviously as difficult as possible. the president weighed in this morning. trying to cast doubt on holmes testimony on twitter. >> it goes back to the act from holmes he was at the cafe with sondland and over trump on the phone. dismissing that today saying that he's been watching people make phone calls his entire life. he says my hearing is and has been great. he even says that he tried to do this himself. he says i tried to hear or understand a conversation that someone else is having on the
phone to no avail. he suggests people should try it live. of course the president not addressing the sub tans of what holmes testified to. saying sondland told him about the president's priorities in ukraine. it is amusing to imagine the president in the oval office trying this out for himself. >> i want to bring back out team. jennifer, where do you see this -- the process moving forward i think is still sort of confusing for a will the of us. the judiciary committee and then in the senate what does it look like in the judiciary committee? >> we don't really know. except they will be taking this up. there will be some form of public hearings there before the house vote. and that's where the democrats have an opportunity to put the case together in way that's understandable and that make sense to people. that hits all highlights of the testimony in one place. and a couple of hours.
and that will be the most compelling case. >> it's interesting. time and time again i feel like certain will in the mueller investigation, also in this, you had democrats coming forward saying as soon as lieutenant vindman shows up in the uniform and talking, that's going to do this. and then when you have sondland and now it's the democrats are able to make the case in the judiciary committee. then it will sort of the pieces will be tied together. it doesn't seem to work out that way. >> i actually don't think the democrats did that this time. the actual folks putting on the case maybe folks in the media did that. i think they did that before. with mueller. mueller will come and bring this thing to life. you had democrats on air saying that. i don't think democrats put on this case thinking they were going to bring republicans along. schiff wanted to lay out the facts call the compelling
witnesses. clearly people tuned in. ratings have been great. folks have been talking about it. get into an uber and they have cnn on listening to it. i think they informed the public in laid out the case. i don't think they really tried to lay out this idea that they were going to bring any number of republicans along. >> you said they informed the public. that's the purpose of oversight hearings. the purpose of most hearings in congress. the purpose of this is remove the president from office. so i wonder if your theory is correct why pursue impeachment instead of oversight hearings. the same case. >> it's impeachable conduct. >> her theory is that all they needed to do is inform the public. >> the point is to say the president has to be held accountable if he does something like this. that's what schiff said. if the minimal is that they impeach him in the house that's
holding him accountable for something in showing the next president that you will have a consequence. >> be careful what you wish for the if i was the democrts. they will have a senate trial. and call witnesses and they may not have a republican convict. and that will give them a boost. >> they have no choice. they cannot allow trump to wait until the election when he's trying to fix the out come of the election. what he's doing threatens the integrity of the 2020 vote. imagine what he'll do if he escapes these charges. this will be a field day for further foreign interference. the other point is that it's way too soon to say these hearings are not bringing the american public along. keep in mind the polls are showing roughly 50% of the public already supports impeachment and removal. at the height of the clinton
impeachment that number never went above 36%. this is the highest number of americans who support the impeachment and removal of a president since summer of 1974. so democrats are actually doing a pretty good job of making the case to the public. even if they'll never bring along the fox news viewer who are brainwashed thinking the president is exonerated. >> there are signs numbers are going down. there's a poll that's unreliable. a ten point drop in the number of people that think he should be removed. that's national poll. we'll wait and see what happens from here. >> that is an unreliable poll. >> it is. but it's the first one the first evidence we have seen. this was not about winning republicans. it's about bringing alistening independents. so you have a coalition that you can come close to winning this
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and may stop treatment. upper respiratory tract infection and headache may occur. tell your doctor about your medicines and if you're pregnant or planning to be. otezla. show more of you. the three immigrants we saw testify publicly the past two weeks. dr. fiona hill, lieutenant colonel vindman and marie yov
yovanovitch. it was wrote about and whom we say we want here. these three found success in service to their new country. now, they face act cue cases of disloyalty because they chose honor and country over all else. here's today's witness, dr. hill, on questions about her loyalty and those of the others. >> i do not believe that my loyalty is the united kingdom, my loyalty is here, to the united states. this is my country and the country that i serve and i know for a fact that every single one of my colleagues, and there were many naturalized citizens in my office, felt exactly the same way. i think it's deeply unfair. >> lieutenant colonel vindman knows how unfair that is. he's faced accusations of dual loyalty. one commentator floated the word espionage. and yet, this is the message he
had for his dad who brought the family to the united states. >> dad, i'm sitting here today in the u.s. capitol talking to our elected professionals is proof that you made the right decision 40 years ago to leave the soviet union, come here to the united states of america in search of a better life for our family. do not worry. i will be fine for telling the truth. >> their faith ultimately is in american principles, of right and wrong. marie yovanovitch was called bad news by the president in that july 25th call and was the target of lies and conspiracy theories by his attorney, rudy giuliani. that and that alone cost yovanovitch her job after decades of service. that should never happen in america, but it does and it did. but if there's any good news in all of this, it's that these people, these americans stood up and didn't cower. it is their model that best fits
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good evening. we begin tonight at the end, the end for now of house impeachment testimony in the intelligence committee. house judiciary takes it up after the thanksgiving break, and safe to say what we've heard already gives them plenty to work with, not to mention quite a few new leads and new witnesses to pursue. one of the witnesses today was himself a new lead, a late addition, david holmes, political affairs counselor at the u.s. embassy in kiev. but the star was fiona hill, former senior director for europe and russia at the national security council. her attorney joins us exclusively in just a moment. dr. hill had a front row view from inside the white house as portions of the country's foreign policy and national security institutions were used or coopted into serving what she says she recognized to be the president's personal political agenda. here is e