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CNN Sources Say Senior Adviser To Mike Pompeo Resigns As Impeachment Inquiry Into Trump's Call With Ukraine Expands; Washington Post Reports National Security Officials Raised Concerns About Trump's Pressure Tactics On Ukraine July Call; Two Men Who Helped Giuliani's Efforts To Dig Up Dirt On Biden In Ukraine Indicted; Group Of Prominent Conservative Attorneys Calling For Expeditious Impeachment Investigation Of President Trump; Former Ukraine Ambassador Set To Testify In Hours; 17 Watergate Special Prosecutors Make A Case For President Trump's Impeachment. Aired 1-2a ET
Aired October 11, 2019 - 01:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ERICA HILL, CNN TONIGHT: This is CNN Tonight. I'm Erica Hill in for Don Lemon. And we begin this hour breaking news.
Sources telling CNN a senior adviser to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has resigned. This comes in the midst of the expanding impeachment inquiry into President Trump's phone call with Ukraine's president and growing questions about Pompeo's role.
Also tonight, a report that at least four national security officials were so concerned about the Trump administration's pressure tactics on Ukraine for political purposes that they discussed those concerns with a White Houselawyer both before and after the president's infamous July phone call.
Those major developments as two associates of Rudy Giuliani who are connected to Giuliani's attempt to find dirt in Ukraine about Joe Biden have now been indicted on criminal charges of funneling for money into U.S. elections. The two were taken into custody while attempting to board a flight to Europe. They had one-way tickets.
Lots to discuss tonight. David Rohde, David Swerdlick and Shawn Turner are all with us.
David Swerdlick, as we start with what's coming out of the State Department tonight, so Michael McKinley, who, as I understand, was brought in by Pompeo, right? This is a career man there. It started in 1982. When we look at him resign, The Washington Post says part of the reason here, according to someone that they spoke with, was Pompeo's failure to support State Department personnel.
In your mind, is that a direct reference Ukraine and even possibly the former ambassador of Ukraine? DAVID SWERDLICK, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, good evening, Erica. I think it probably could be and it suggests that there's a schism between the political appointees and the career diplomats over at a minimum support for career diplomats by the secretary and perhaps beyond that to the idea that there is dissatisfaction with how information is coming out about the Ukraine issue and whether or not things have been appropriately handled by the secretary.
You can imagine, if you're a career diplomat coming into this situation, saying, look, at some point, I have to disassociate myself with this or the suggestion is that I'm going along with it.
HILL: Which is interesting, you talked about information coming out, David Rohde, and McKinley could now be called to testify. How do you see that playing out?
DAVID ROHDE, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: He could, and this is -- we also have upcoming testimony possibly from Fiona Hill, who is the president's top sort of White House adviser on Russia. And this could start a process of more and more sort of career officials testifying, questioning how all this happened Ukraine. Were the career experts sort of sidelined or ignored? And if those people are credible, how does that playing with the American public when you've got Rudy Giuliani appearing with two men who were just indicted on federal charges of campaign fraud. . HILL: And in terms of how things to play, we have Secretary of State Pompeo, again, going back to this call, talking about that call between the president and the president of Ukraine. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE POMPEO, SECRETARY OF STATE: I was on the call. I listened to it. It was can consistent with what President Trump has been trying to do to take corruption out. I found that to be wholly appropriate to try and get another country to stop being corrupt.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HILL: Except that we know that, Shawn, it really was about far more than that because we've all read that rough transcript. What do you think is the red line here, because we're looking at McKinley? We're going to hopefully hear from Fiona Hill on Monday. But for folks in the State Department and in the administration at this point, is the call the red line? Is the response from Secretary Pompeo the red line? Where is it?
SHAWN TURNER, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Yes. Well, I think that the red line may be the fact that when Secretary Pompeo talked about what happened on that call, every career civil service member who had read the transcript, everyone who's familiar with what actually happened on this call recognized that he was not being honest, he was not being genuine about what happened on the call.
And so I think the red line may have been a point in time like there was -- but you need people to start to come forward. And this resignation will be the first step in seeing more people come forward.
Erica, we've been saying from the very beginning that, as this plays out, a more clear picture is going to start come into focus. And so I think that for Secretary Pompeo and for others involved there, certainly Rudy Giuliani, that what they've got to be really nervous about now is you've got resignations, as you have other individuals who would be able to say openly to members of the press that they were concerned, that the dominoes will begin to fall and they start to really understand what happened here.
And so I think that red line has already been crossed. I think we're going to get to the bottom of this really soon.
HILL: And to your point about people raising concerns, actually this is reporting from The Washington Post, that at least four national security officials did raise concerns and raised concerns before the July 25th phone call and then, again, afterwards.
The question is, David Swerdlick, what happened with those concerns. And in some of the their reporting, they raised the question that there is concern that perhaps how it was or was not addressed, could that have been influenced these folks to say, okay, well, if this isn't working, we're going to try to follow it through other channels, speaking to the CIA, we end up with a whistleblower complaint.
SWERDLICK: Right. At some point the whistleblower complaint comes out, at some, two weeks ago, the transcript of this call between President Trump and President Zelensky came out. The White House released it themselves.
But before that happened, we're starting to learn from the reporting from my Washington Post colleagues and others that this was alarm bells were going off within the national security apparatus but the information was still sort of being siloed within the administration and passed back and forth, people expressing concerns without it coming to light in the public or without necessarily anyone putting the brakes on it.
The question that I think still remains to be answered is, whose responsibility was it to bring this to light before the whistleblower came forward and who is responsible for making decisions about whether information was kept in classified, whether information was kept from the public and whether or not anyone confronted the president and members of the White House staff about this -- about what concerns were being raised about what was said on this call.
HILL: And, Shawn, those really are some of the biggest questions that the American people deserve answers to, right, because these are people working to protect the country, to protect the security of the United States of America, to protect the democracy. And they are saying, we are concerned about the way business is being done in this White House. And if -- again, there're some more (INAUDIBLE), but if those concerns are not addressed, are not followed through on, if nothing is done, the question then becomes what happens? I mean, who's left and who's actually running the show? When does it end, Shawn? And that is the concern at least that I'm hearing from people as to how this is all going to end.
TURNER: Yes. Look, Erica, I think it's somewhat of a waiting game. I think when we look that sequence of events here, you had people express concern over this call, before the call, and then immediately after the call. I would argue that what happened immediately after the call was somewhat of a consciousness of guilt activity. I mean, when you had the scrambling to conceal this call and to put it away in other places.
But for those civil servants that you talk about, those people who have to make that decision as to when and if and how they come forward, well, I think it appears as, the reporting is correct, that some of these people actually went through process of notifying the legal counsel there. And the legal counsel told me that he'd look into it. And so they're kind of waiting to see what's going to happen.
And so I think we're at that point where they waited. I believe we're going to find that some of these four individuals are probably the same individuals who talked to the whistleblower.
So I think it's just a question of kind of waiting to see slowly but surely these people coming forward saying, yes, I put my hand in the air, I raised concerns. I was told those concerns were going to be dealt with, but at some point, I realized they weren't. And so I'm coming forward now.
And as that begins to happen with a few people, you'll see more and more people come forward and address this issue.
HILL: In terms of people coming forward, there are people who are supposed to testify, as we know, David, as you brought up Fiona Hill, who is supposed to testify on Monday. We'll see what happens there.
As we're waiting on that, as the White House may try to say, or the administration, well, you can't do this, try to assert executive privilege, at least over certain aspects, is that argument starting to weaken? Do you think Democrats are finding ways around it at this point?
ROHDE: I think, over time, yes, because it's simple, cover-up, cover- up, cover-up. Why won't you let these people testify? She's a leading expert, a top critic. Why can't she speak out? And the question is do people believe Donald Trump? Do people believe Mike Pompeo, who has been such a fierce and consistent defender of the president? And that's the question, is the public shifting?
You talked earlier about poll numbers showing the shift is happening. This is illegal activity. If it's true, the president of United States was trying to illegally get foreign aid for his own re-election effort, that's -- again, the two men just indicted today, Ukrainian- Americans, were funneling foreign money into an American political race.
So I think that message as this goes on and on and on, I think that that weighs on the president and it could shift public opinion against him slowly. His base, as you see from that rally, supports him. But federal indictments, suppressing testimony, an impeachment inquiry, these aren't good things for the president.
HILL: They're not and there are a lot. And I will see too (ph), in terms of the American people, there are so much.
When we talked about at the top of the show an hour ago, there were probably eight different stories, it felt like, that broke since 6:00.
But, David Swerdlick, a lot of them, there's a common theme that we're starting to see emerge or at least common players, and that is really -- this is where we're starting to pull out the threads, sort of understand how things are connected.
SWERDLICK: Right. We've talked a lot in the last day or so about Mayor Giuliani and his involvement narrowly. We've learned today that two of his either clients or associates have been indicted for allegedly funneling money from Ukraine or from Eastern Europe to campaigns in the United States, which would be illegal, including potentially money to a pro-Trump Super PAC. And if Mayor Giuliani either was involved in some way or had knowledge of this, he hasn't been charged, then he would have potentially faced some legal liability.
But more broadly speaking, to your point, it's a situation where we're being asked to believe, the American people are being asked to believe right now from the point of view of the White House that that going on with Ambassador Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the E.U., who's -- Ukraine is not in his purview, not being made available to testify with Paul Manafort, with some other things, that none of these things are connected and that the White House had no knowledge of what was going on all surrounding this call with Zelensky.
HILL: The president saying today, he hopes Rudy Giuliani is not indicted, the president's personal attorney. Could he actually be on thin ice with his boss? That's next.
HILL: Two men connected to President Trump's personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, arrested and charged with federal campaign finance violations. The men allegedly played a role in pushing for the ouster of a former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine and were part of Giuliani's efforts to dig up dirt on Joe Biden. CNN Jessica Schneider has the details.
JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Tonight, two associates of President Trump's personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, indicted on charges they made political donations to U.S. congressmen while pushing him to help get rid of the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine on behalf of at least one Ukrainian official who wanted her gone. That's the same ambassador Trump removed from Ukraine this year partially at the behest of Giuliani.
Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman are charged with conspiracy, false statements and funneling foreign money into U.S. elections.
GEOFFREY BERMAN, U.S. ATTORNEY, SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK: Parnas and Fruman were arrested around 6:00 P.M. last night at Dulles Airport as they were about to board an international flight with one-way tickets.
SCHNEIDER: The two men along with two others also indicted allegedly gave hundreds of thousands of dollars to a Trump-aligned Super PAC. The indictment laying out that the contributions were made to advance their personal financial interests and the political interests of at least one Ukrainian government official with whom they were working.
The men also allegedly made contributions to state candidates in Nevada to further a recreational marijuana business venture that never happened. That foreign money coming in part from an unnamed Russian citizen whose involvement they hid because of his Russian roots and current political paranoia about it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This investigation is about corrupt behavior, deliberate lawbreaking.
SCHNEIDER: According to prosecutors, the men pushed the former U.S. congressman who sources say is Texas Republican Pete Sessions to help get former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch fired. The indictment alleges Parnas and Fruman attempted to gain influence by committing to raise $20,000 or more for a then sitting U.S. congressman and that Parnas sought that congressman's assistance in causing the U.S. government to remove or recall the then U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, at least in part, at the request of one or more Ukrainian government officials.
Yovanovitch was recalled by President Trump in May, in part because Rudy Giuliani accused her of hampering efforts to dig up dirt on Joe Biden.
DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: I've heard very, very bad things about it for a long period time, not good.
SCHNEIDER: One key question is how these two men fit into the broader scope of the Ukrainian impeachment inquiry. House Democrats subpoenaed the men for documents.
Today's indictment adding intrigue to what is already known, Parnas and Fruman worked with Giuliani to dig up dirt on Joe Biden, the same dirt Trump brought up in his July 25th phone call with the Ukrainian president, the same phone call where Trump mentioned the ousted ambassador to Ukraine, who the indictment alleges Parnas and Fruman were trying to get Trump to fire because a Ukrainian official asked them to.
REP. RO KHANNA (D-CA): It will be interesting what they have share and what Giuliani's involvement in all of this was.
Jessica Schneider, CNN, Alexandria, Virginia.
HILL: So let's tackle all of this with Julian Epstein, chief counsel to judiciary committee Democrat during the Clinton impeachment. Also with us, Harry Litman, a former Deputy Assistant Attorney General, and Renato Mariotti, a former federal prosecutor.
There is a lot to get through here.
Harry, as we look this, just give us a sense how big a deal is it at this point that these two associates of Rudy Giuliani were caught funneling hundreds of thousands of dollars to a Trump Super PAC?
HARRY LITMAN, FORMER DEPUTY ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL: It's a pretty big deal in and of itself given the conduct in Giuliani's involvement. But the bigger deal could be because we know both of them were working very, very closely with Giuliani in the whole project in Ukraine that was ultimately targeting dirt on Biden for President Trump.
We know, of course, Giuliani and Trump are working together on that. Fruman, in particular, is very close with Giuliani. He's sort of his man on the ground. Both the men met Trump and had dinner with them. Both of them met Trump Jr. So the possibility of a really intricate spider's web coming into view here in the coming weeks is strong.
HILL: Well, the president, for his part, says he doesn't know them. In fact, here is what he said when he was asked about them.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I don't know them. I don't know about them. I don't know what they do. But I don't know. Maybe they were clients of Rudy. You'd have to ask Rudy. I just don't know.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HILL: You'd have to ask Rudy.
LITMAN: That picture is going to be inconvenient.
HILL: The picture may be inconvenient. I mean, listen, he's right. There could be pictures. He takes pictures with a lot of people. Renato, how long does that defense last?
RENATO MARIOTTI, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Not very long, because, first of all, one of these men actually called Trump his friend. He took photos of himself in the White House and in Mar-a-Lago. And there's multiple photos of Trump with these folks. There's video of them with Giuliani.
Look, I wonder how long it's going to be before Trump saying that he doesn't know who Giuliani is. I think that he has a habit of doing that. We saw him do that with Michael Cohen. But I think that the reality of the situation, I think, for Trump, what makes this difficult is the trouble that puts Giuliani in. Giuliani is ostensibly representing President Trump but, of course, he has his own criminal liability here. As CNN has reported, he is under investigation.
So this situation is going to be very difficult for the president to distance himself from.
HILL: It's also fascinating, Julian, because their lawyer, John Dowd, which is a name we know well, as does the president, wrote a letter to Congress. And he argued that one of the reasons that some of the information that Congress is seeking is actually protected by attorney-client privilege is because they assisted Giuliani in his representation of President Trump. Julian?
JULIAN EPSTEIN, CHIEF COUNSEL, JUDICIARY COMMITTEE DEMOCRATS DURING CLINTON IMPEACHMENT: Well, look, you can have attorney-client privileges and you can executive privileges, you can assert them. That may be true in some very limited circumstances. As soon as you are talking about an attorney who is advancing or protecting a criminal act, that privilege disappears.
And I think what the Giuliani saga tells us, as well as the Pompeo aid resigning tonight, is that this is a house of cards and the house of cards is starting to tumble. And this should be a warning shot to everybody inside the administration who is within one mile of this scandal that they should get a lawyer and they should be very careful when they think about participating in this non-cooperation effort by the administration.
When you convert the office of the presidency of the United States for -- and the national security of the United States for personal gain in campaign favors, you are likely to be in violation of as many as half- a-dozen federal criminal statutes. It could be on conversion, misappropriation, bribery, on down the line.
And if you are participating in an effort to cover that up or not cooperate with Congress, everyone inside the administration should know that there is a statute of limitations that will outlive this administration in all likelihood and they should think very, very carefully as this house of cards starts to look like it's beginning to tumble. They should think very, very carefully about participating in this non-cooperation scheme. Because if they do, I think a good lawyer will tell them that they're criminally exposed.
HILL: That is a rather stark assessment and it would be interesting to see how many people take that to heart, right, and if they're really listening. As we're watching what is happening and these flood of subpoenas and people set to testify, we also have, Harry, the president weighing in on former Ambassador Yovanovitch, who is set to testify in a matter of hours saying, well, I don't know. I don't know how many people should be talking about things. That's not surprising.
That being said, if for some reason the kabash is put on his testimony, what do you see Democrats doing?
LITMAN: They have some options here. It's not like with Mueller before and especially because public opinion is now rising in support of removal and the obstruction will be so clear. They are not the show-stopping witnesses. Although to second what Renato had to say, the time may come when Giuliani has to be there and he is looking at criminal liability, and that's when the whole thing could break open.
But you have Yovanovitch tomorrow. You have Erica Hill. You have potentially wild cards like Tillerson or Bolton or the National Security Council, Epstein, who said that he was really troubled by what Giuliani did. Not enough to blow things sky high but enough to put together a careful, credible case that essentially dovetails with the original whistleblower complaint. And, by the way, that complaint is to be reinforced any day now by a second whistleblower who has more concrete personal information.
HILL: There is never a dull moment. I should -- I do just want to clarify. I have not been subpoenaed. Fiona Hill, no relation, is set to appear, as you mentioned. She is the Russian expert.
LITMAN: We can get you a good lawyer.
HILL: You know one? That would be helpful.
But stay with me, gentlemen, because there is more to talk about, including the fact Rudy Giuliani had a ticket to go to Vienna. Interestingly enough, so did these associates of his. They had one- way tickets. They were going to make their way to Vienna. Coincidence?
HILL: Two men connected to Rudy Giuliani's Ukraine efforts now charged with funneling foreign money into U.S. elections.
Back with us now, Julian Epstein, Harry Litman and Renato Mariotti.
As we look at this, we talked just before the break about Rudy Giuliani planning to go to Vienna. Elaina Plott from The Atlantic reporting that Giuliani had been planning to go to Vienna tonight. That, of course, is where we were told that these two men who were picked up, Parnas and Fruman, were ultimately going to end up on these one-way tickets. Not clear that the three of them were going to meet up or what they would be doing there or why Vienna. I'm sure it's lovely this time of year.
But as you look at that, it is certainly an interesting coincidence, Renato.
MARIOTTI: As a former federal prosecutor, I don't really believe in coincidences, Erica. I don't think it just happened to be that Rudy Giuliani was meeting with these two men right before they got arrested and then was planning to go to the same European city as them right a day afterwards. Very suspicious, it's something law enforcement would like to know about. I suspect that Rudy would exercise his right to remain silent and something I imagine if Mr. Giuliani actually went forward with that Senate testimony that he planned, that a lot of senators would ask questions about.
And that really underscores the difficult situation he's in. I mean, he has financial ties to these individuals. He was working closely with them. He was holding them out as his associates, people that he was directing and working with on legal in his legal practice with the president. He is very closely tied to them. He just met with them right before they tried to flee.
So he is very much in the thick of this. He should be concerned about being indicted himself. And Mr. Giuliani, he's the president's lawyer and he now needs his own lawyer and really needs to get himself out of the thick of this and lay low while he's under investigation.
HILL: This indictment, one of the things that it also lays out is that there's this Russian national who's involved behind some of the money here that these men were funneling into U.S. politics.
Julian, as we look at that connection, you can't help but think back to what the Intelligence Community found when it comes to Russia and the 2016 election.
EPSTEIN: Well, this is the point that I think we've all been making, which is that we know the tip of the iceberg right now, but it is just the tip of the iceberg. And this seems to be, at least by appearances, an effort that it was extensive, was systematic, was -- had a kind of bad news bear ineptitude about how it was executed, a complete lack of self-awareness or lack of awareness of the potential criminal liability, and there's so much more to be learned.
And what the White House is doing right now by saying that they don't want to cooperate is they are, I think, probably trying to take the best of bad options. If they cooperate, the likelihood is that we're going to see the rest of this iceberg and it's going to get very ugly and very nasty for them, and they are going to lose public opinion.
And so they have made decision, if you've got two bad options, if we cooperate, public opinion is going against us and the case for impeachment is going against us. We know that for certain. And so what they're saying is non-cooperation is a better percentage game for us right now. Let's just talk our chances, let's just stonewall and let's hope that Nancy Pelosi can't nail down all of the Democrats unless public opinion stays at about 50/50. And that's the bet that they're making. But I think that's wrong. A very, very quick story, I don't want to take up too much, a very quick story. During the Clinton impeachment, I had to negotiate with the White House along with my counterpart, the terms of engagement between the White House and the House for the impeachment proceeding. So the White House didn't get any procedural guarantees that the Cipollone lady (ph) is asking for a couple of days ago.
And the White House's view during the Clinton Impeachment was, you know what, we don't need any procedural guarantees. Let's just get on with this. Why? Because they thought they had the better legal argument and they thought they would win the argument in public opinion, exactly the opposite right here.
The White House right now knows they have a very, very -- they have very, very weak legal ground to stand on and they feel like they are starting to lose the public argument. That's why they are not cooperating.
HILL: Harry, I've got about 30 seconds left. Do you think these two --
LITMAN: I'll take three to say that I'm so sorry if I said Erica when I said Fiona.
HILL: No worries, no worries, and I didn't mean to make you feel bad about it. So I hope that was my intention.
I'm just curious. If these two men flip, what does that mean for Rudy Giuliani potentially?
LITMAN: Yes, they have the whole book on him. And listen, it's very telling. They weren't indicted, and yet as soon as they heard they were fleeing, SDNY came forward and brought the charges.
That means they already had a mature investigation going and must have included Giuliani. There is on the board in SDNY a bunch of index cards and Giuliani is in the center of it.
HILL: And we know, as you point out, they had to rush it because they learned they were at the airport. Gentlemen, Harry, Julian, Renato --
LITMAN: And if they could do that meant they had it already.
HILL: Excellent point. I always appreciate you all joining us and thanks sticking up late. We'll be right back.
HILL: A group of prominent conservative attorneys are calling for an expeditious impeachment investigation into President Trump. And two of those layers join me now. Paul Rosenzweig served as President George W. Bush's Deputy Assistant Secretary for policy at Homeland Security, and J.W. Verret, a former Trump transition staffer who is an associate professor of law at George Mason University. It's good to have both of you with us tonight.
As we read this letterer, Paul, you actually say that, in some cases, you would have gone further. There's a lot in here. What didn't you say?
PAUL ROSENZWEIG: Well, as I've said publicly for me, we've reached the point where if I were a member of the House, I would vote to impeach.
And based on what I know now, if I were a member of the Senate, I would vote to convict and remove.
The letter calls for an expeditious investigation, a vote in the House and, if appropriate, a Senate trial. So it doesn't want to presume to tell the members of the House and Senate what to do and that's wholly appropriate for a letter that 16 of us have signed. But in my personal capacity, I'm comfortable saying that I have passed that point.
HILL: In terms of letter, I do want to read part of it in case folks at home are not familiar with it. So you write, in part, we have not just political candidate open to receiving foreign assistance to better his chances in winning an election but a current president openly and privately calling on foreign governments to actively interfere in the most sacred of U.S. democratic processes, our elections. These activities, which are factually undisputed, undermine the integrity of our elections, endanger global U.S. security and defense partnerships and threaten our democracy.
Is this behavior that you believe has grown over time or do you thing that this has been there, J.W.?
J.W. VERETT, FORMER TRUMP TRANSITION STAFFER CALLING FOR IMPEACHMENT: I think it's been there since the very beginning, in part, because we know that the -- I mean, Donald Trump is not a very clever -- he's not very clever in his corruption. He uses the same playbook over and over. It's the playbook he used in the events leading up to the Mueller report. He reached out to Russia. He tried to get Russia to help him. It's not clear he was able to ever seal it deal. So that's why the messaging that went out was a little messy.
It's the same playbook here. In fact, he thought he got away with it, so he immediately went back to the same playbook. So it's always been there.
HILL: So it's always been there. George Conway, who, of course, helped to form this group of all of you, the checks and balances, he spoke to former U.S. attorney Preet Bharara earlier and talked about the letter from the White House. I just want to play a little bit of what he had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE CONWAY, ATTORNEY: It's just garbage. PREET BHARARA, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: It's one of the worst letters i've seen from the White House Counsel's office, and they write very well and they make very good legal arguments when they --
CONWAY: This was trash. I mean, this was trash. I mean, basically the thrust of it is that there are some kind of constitutional obligations the House has failed to meet that therefore render its impeachment inquiry illegitimate and unconstitutional, which is complete nonsense, because all the Constitution says is that the House has the sole power over impeachment. It completely vests the power of impeachment in the House and the House gets to decide how to go about doing that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HILL: He calls the letter garbage. It's certainly been called more political than it is legal, but garbage? Paul, would you agree with that?
ROSENZWEIG: I almost think that George is being too kind. In many ways, it was a purely political document that had virtually no legal grounding. To take one example, they do cite a single case for the idea that due process is required during an impeachment, a case from the District of Columbia involving the impeachment of Judge Alcee Hastings.
What they don't tell you is that that case was vacated and it was vacated on the precise grounds that the courts decided that the courts had no basis at all for imposing a due process requirement on the House of Representatives. So it's smoke and mirrors, it's bad lawyering.
It's basically -- I'm a defense lawyer and often you do what your client wants, even though you know it's a bad idea. You let him testify even though he shouldn't. And we call that client service, because they get to make that decision sometimes. This was nothing more than client service to the president of the United States sending out an angry tweet in White House letter form.
HILL: Wow, eight or nine-page tweet at that.
J.W., we haven't heard a lot from Republican lawmakers. Specifically, I look at Lindsey Graham, right, not much to see here, nothing to see here. Do you sense that there is a shift coming? I mean, what would you say to some of those folks, because we know clearly how you all feel at this point?
VERETT: Well, I think there's been some movement and some bravery, I think, from folks like Senator Ben Sasse, who have been willing to criticize the president, willing to point to their discomfort with his actions here.
Frankly, I don't think it's time yet to hold the Senate to account. I think you wait until the formal process, their role in this as judge and jury. But it's high time for the House to act. And, frankly, nobody is more disappointed in Jim Jordan than me. I started as a law professor. I witnessed in front of his committee doing oversight of the Obama administration with financial services. I was the one minority Republican witness and he was there in the minority. And we were sort of back-to-back doing oversight together and working together.
I just don't know what happened to him, frankly. He's like the character in the emperor's new clothes who says, yes, your majesty, it's a beautiful new robe you have worn there. It's just disappointing to see, frankly.
I only have time for a yes or no, J.W., but would you reach out to him personally?
VERETT: He probably won't take my phone now. But I'd just tell him tonight, it's not too late for the judgment in history to teach (ph) you well.
HILL: J.W., Paul, we appreciate you joining us. I have a feeling it will not be the last time we talk about this. Thank you both.
VERETT: Thank you.
ROSENZWEIG: Thanks a lot.
HILL: We'll be right back.
HILL: A key witness in the impeachment inquiry is still expected to testify in Congress in a matter of hours. What happens though if the Trump administration does block her testimony, just as they did with E.U. ambassador Gordon Sondland earlier this week?
Joining me now, Congressman Jamie Raskin who's on the House Oversight Committee. Sir, good to have you with us.
Of course, we're all waiting to see if Marie Yovanovitch does in fact testify tomorrow. The president actually weighed in a short time ago. Here is what he had to say about that.
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TRUMP: I just don't think you're running a country. I just don't think you can have all of these people testifying about every conversation you've had.
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HILL: Are you confident she'll appear or is that perhaps a warning that the administration may step in to block that testimony? REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D-MD): Well, it certainly didn't sound so good. I couldn't quite decipher the president's meaning there. But everybody owes his or her truthful testimony to Congress when asked to come.
The White House engaged in an unprecedented, massive, categorical obstruction and defiance of the congressional will.
Remember Congress is in Article I for a reason. We are the law-making branch of government. The president's sole job or, I should say, his primary job is to take care that the laws are faithfully executed. He's also Commander-in-Chief in times of actual insurrection in war. But his main job is to implement the laws, enforce the laws. And now, he's in posture where he is defying the laws of Congress and defying the lawful words of Congress, and it's completely intolerable.
HILL: As I'm sure you read this op-ed at The Washington Post today from a number of former special prosecutors, of course, who worked on Watergate. I spoke with one of them, Nick Akerman, earlier tonight who made a point to me that he doesn't think you need some of the documents and even witnesses that you are not getting, that he believes you could simply move forward at this, continue on with the investigation. Do you agree?
RASKIN: Well, I think it's an excellent point. I've been saying from the beginning the discovery of what happened with the Ukraine episode, this is not an Agatha Christie novel. This is not Murder on Orient Express. We know exactly what happened.
The president withheld $391 million in military and security assistance to besiege a vulnerable ally of the United States in order to extract political dirt on his political rival, Joe Biden. Nobody has ever seen anything like it in U.S. history. It's a scandal of constitutional dimension and it looks very much like a high crime and misdemeanor.
Now, we are conducting a thorough investigation because we'd like to get all of the facts that are out there. We'd to give the president and all the president's men the opportunity to offer the evidence they've got. But, of course, they're stonewalling the investigation. They're trying to sabotage the inquiry.
So, at certain point, we'll just have to say, you know what, all of the whistleblower's material allegations have been objectively corroborated by the text messages that were released last week among the State Department personnel, and they were corroborated also by the findings we have about the president withholding the $391 million.
So this is something the president has essentially admitted and bragged about. But now, we are finding the bit players, Rudy Giuliani's gang that can't shoot straight, Igor Fruman and these --
HILL: Well, I'm glad you brought them up. I really want to ask you about them today because today's indictment, two of Rudy Giuliani's associates, clients, as we know in that indictment, what we learned is that, according to it, that they pressed, of course, Pete Sessions of Texas to help remove Ambassador Yovanovitch from her post, to recall her and ultimately get her removed.
If she's there tomorrow, what questions do you have for her about that process, about what she knows, about why she was recalled, why she was removed?
RASKIN: Well, the evidence seems abundant that President Trump and Giuliani were working to undermine and sabotage Ambassador Yovanovitch. And we would like to know what she knows about that campaign against her, that campaign essentially to get her out of the way so they could perpetrate all of their political schemes in Ukraine, obtaining whatever dirt they could produce on the Bidens.
But also they were working, remember, to replace everything that the Special Counsel Mueller found about the sweeping and systematic campaign by Russia and by Vladimir Putin against our democracy with a story about how Ukraine was the one interfering. So we'll learn from Ambassador Yovanovitch about this campaign to try to discredit and sabotage her and what she did to try to uphold the rule of law.
HILL: And House Democrats, of course, and subpoenaing Energy Secretary Rick Perry for certain documents. What do you want to learn from him?
RASKIN: Well, Rick Perry was, himself, also deployed to the Ukraine campaign in different ways. Now, he's disclaimed all knowledge or interest in the specific plan to extract from Zelensky political dirt on the Bidens. He said he was just interested in the energy sector over there.
And it's quite possible that they had a lot of different schemes going on at the same time. In fact, it seems pretty likely to me from what I've read, there are serious allegations that Perry was interested in placing certain highly-placed Republican operatives into Ukrainian corporations.
HILL: Congressman Jamie Raskin, I appreciate you joining us tonight. Thank you.
RASKIN: Thanks so much for having me.
HILL: And thanks for watching. Our coverage continues.
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