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Impeachment Testimony Continues; Voters' Views on Impeachment?; House Approves Public Impeachment Hearings. Aired 3-3:30p ET
Aired October 31, 2019 - 15:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: Welcome back. We roll on, on this Thursday afternoon. You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin.
It is now on congressional record. The impeachment record of President Trump will go public.
Today, lawmakers approved these public hearings in a crucial and historic vote that was mainly along party lines. With that, the House has brought this investigation from behind closed doors, killing a chief complaint from the president's defenders.
Besides setting up public hearings, this resolution today approved releasing deposition transcripts, outlining the Judiciary Committee's role in potential articles of impeachment, establishing how Republicans can call witnesses and use subpoenas, and lets the president and White House give their case later in the process.
Still, though, not one Republican voted in favor of this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): There's nothing the president did to be impeached. This isn't about the Republican Party. This is about the republic. No one should ever go through this again.
We believe in the rule of law. But, unfortunately, in Nancy's House, we do not.
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): This is a sad day. It's a sad day because nobody comes to Congress to impeach the president of the United States, no one.
But we cannot ignore and we will not ignore when the president's behavior indicates that that investigation, that inquiry is necessary. These rules are fairer than anything that have gone before.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: The final vote 232-196 in favor of this resolution, and while Republicans all followed the party line, not all Democrats did the same.
So let's start there.
Tom Foreman is in Washington to walk us through this vote.
And so, Tom, let's start with those two Democrats who defected. Who are they?
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, the two Democrats who defected from the vote here, these two over here in the nay column, are two Democrats who come from districts that Donald Trump handily won in the past, and they have both voiced their own concerns about the divisive nature of all of this, not addressing so much the essence of the impeachment case, as much as they have said, look, we think that, unless it's very clear and very bipartisan, it's so divisive. Why would we want that?
Jeff Van Drew from New Jersey, Collin Peterson from Minnesota.
There was, however, one vote -- even though all the Democrats were split by these two votes and Republicans were all united, you could argue in a sense that Justin Amash was a defection from the Republicans. He was a Republican up until July, a Tea Party Republican, who basically said, look, I am troubled enough by what's going on in this administration that I'm going to become an independent.
And he voted in favor of moving forward with this impeachment process. In fact, he tweeted to all of the other Republicans beforehand: "This president will be in power for only a short time. But excusing his misbehavior will forever tarnish your name. To my Republican colleagues, step outside your media and social bubble. History will not look kindly on disingenuous, frivolous and false defenses of this man."
And, Brooke, as you can tell, not one Republican decided to join him in that effort, almost a perfect party-line vote, a little preview of what we might see as we get closer to the impeachment.
BALDWIN: Yes, Tom Foreman, thank you for the vote breakdown.
Let's talk legality of all this and process.
Harry Litman is a former U.S. attorney and was deputy assistant attorney general. Mary McCord served as acting assistant attorney general for national security. And she led the Trump-Russia probe before a special counsel was appointed.
So, Harry and Mary, welcome to both of you.
And, Harry, first to you.
Now that this vote will become public, that the rules of the road are sad, but we don't know timeline, witnesses, scope, scale. For everyone watching, how will this work?
HARRY LITMAN, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: I mean, we have a sense.
It's a work in progress, but there are going to be public hearings starting on the 11th, the week after next. There have been about a dozen witnesses behind closed doors to date. And the Dems will choose from among them. The Republicans can also offer some, subject to the veto of the Democratic majority.
I think we can be pretty sure of some of the names we will see, Hill, Sondland, Taylor, for starters. And we have a sense of the thrust of their testimony. But, importantly, we got in every case a kind of summary, 10 hours or so questioning then ensued.
So, for example, with Taylor, he speaks about the call, but then there's -- he -- since he -- listen, there are some very precise questions that will then be coming to the floor. That's what we will be seeing starting the 11th.
BALDWIN: And, Mary, to you.
After today's House vote, the White House put out a statement which in essence again criticized this process as unfair, even though they have been calling for this vote for weeks.
So, if you are the White House, if you are the Republican Party, what is your new strategy in fighting this?
MARY MCCORD, FORMER ACTING U.S. ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL: Well, I'm not about to try to speculate about the Republican strategy on this.
I can say that this vote, while not necessary in order to go forward with an impeachment inquiry, as Chief Judge Howell noted in her opinion last Friday in a case involving 6(e) grand jury material, I think it was important, an important vote to take, not only to sort of confirm what -- the proceedings that have already been going on, but to set the stage and to set the parameters and the rules and the procedures that will be applied going forward, so that there's real transparency into those procedures, and so that the American public know what they can expect.
It will be up to Republicans and the White House to determine how much they want to resist these procedures, as the president indicated early on in the process that they essentially weren't going to participate.
Harry, you mentioned this a second ago. Let me just recap your point, that Republicans through this process will then be able to subpoena their own witnesses, but, because Democrats are in the majority, Democrats will have to OK it.
Who do you think Republicans may try to bring in?
LITMAN: Well, I mean, to date, what we have heard from them at every turn has been allegations of sort of bias that they have tried to unearth through sort of ad hominem attacks.
So, they have tried very hard, for instance, to find out who the whistle-blower is, and they have repeatedly proceeded to talk about 2016 and McCabe and Comey, very irrelevant kind of things. Of course, that's the reason why the majority can ride herd on them, if it comes to it.
It does seem, echoing Mary, this is really the moment for them to be choosing party over country or country over party. And it does look like an emphatic choice for everyone to go for party over country.
And that means, based on what's happened before, a kind of propensity to disrupt proceedings and make it kind of a circus. And if that's your mind-set, then who knows who they might be subpoenaing, but not people -- I don't -- I think the game is up as far as actually trying to rebut the facts.
So now it's all about process concerns or -- and the like.
BALDWIN: But, surely, Mary, the Republicans will try to -- I mean, part of this will be key in cross-examination, right?
I mean, let's go in the micro for a second, because it's my understanding you have these lawyers. They will have a chunk of time. They will be able to get in the flow of asking questions. There will be cross-examination.
Can you just explain to people how that will work?
So this is a departure from the normal way that hearings often go, where each side, Republicans and Democrats, get five minutes apiece by representatives to ask questions. We have seen that before. We have seen it with the Kavanaugh hearings and other hearings, that it's very disruptive, it's hard to get much accomplished in five minutes.
There's little consistency in the questioning. There's little opportunity for witnesses to respond fully because of the time constraints. And so it's good to see that, under the procedures announced today by virtue of the House resolution that was passed, that we will have a situation where there can be much more extended questioning.
And, in fact, the questioning can be by House staff, House committee staff, which I think is important, because these are lawyers who have spent a lot of time looking into the evidence so far, looking into the law, not only the criminal law, but history of impeachment proceedings.
And I think we will be able to see and the American people during the public hearing will be able to see much more a cohesive story come out as these hearings move forward.
BALDWIN: Mary and Harry, stay with me. I want to ask you about something else. We're following the new testimony on Capitol Hill today. This time,
this is coming in from the top Russia adviser on President Trump's National Security Council. His name is Tim Morrison. He just told House lawmakers that he was worried that releasing that transcript of President Trump's call with Ukrainian president would have negative consequences.
So we have got to talk about that.
Also ahead, a reality check from outside of Washington -- why voters in the key battleground state of Pennsylvania are not all on board with impeachment.
And Congresswoman Katie Hill blames what she calls a double standard for her resignation after revenge porn photos of her were posted online. You will hear her final emotional speech on the House floor.
You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin. I will be right back.
BALDWIN: Former National Security Adviser John Bolton says he will not testify in this House impeachment inquiry unless he gets a subpoena.
But, right now, Tim Morrison, one of Bolton's allies and the top Russia adviser to President Trump's National Security Council, is currently behind closed doors on Capitol Hill.
Morrison is now the second person who listened in on that July 25 phone call between President Trump and Ukraine President Zelensky to sit in the congressional hot seat.
CNN senior congressional correspondent Manu Raju just got some new details about Morrison's testimony.
And so, Manu, what have you learned?
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, we have learned that, behind closed doors, Tim Morrison testified today that he was told to steer clear of Rudy Giuliani.
Rudy Giuliani, of course, was pursuing a parallel Ukraine policy, something to carry out the president's directives and something to push for investigations to help the president politically, including into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son.
And according to what Morrison told House investigators, we are told he said that he was urged by a separate White House official at the time, Fiona Hill, to stay away from Rudy Giuliani. And he said that he did just that. Now, he also, according to a source that I spoke with, seemed critical
of the role that Ambassador to European Union Gordon Sondland played in all of this. Sondland has come into criticism and scrutiny about his role and his push, along with the president, to carry out what the president wanted, which were those investigations.
Now, also, Morrison was, as you mentioned, Brooke, the second individual that these investigators have interviewed who was on that phone call in July between Trump and Zelensky.
And according to what we're told, is that Morrison testified that he did not see anything illegal in this call. He said he was -- quote -- "not concerned" that there was anything illegal on the call. He wasn't concerned about Trump even asking Zelensky for a favor.
Now, that's different than what Alexander Vindman, the other White House official who testified this week who was on the call, said earlier this week, when he said that he was concerned about a national security concern, and even took those concerns to a National Security Council attorney.
Well, Mr. Morrison said today that he did not raise concerns with the National Security Council attorney. Instead, he was concerned that the transcript of that call could be leaked. And the reason why he was concerned it could be leaked, I'm told, is because it could impact a polarized Washington.
Also, it could undermine bipartisan support for Ukraine. Also, it could hurt perception of the Ukrainians -- by the Ukrainians of the United States. So he was more concerned about the leaks than the contents of the call, which he didn't see as anything wrong.
But, Brooke, this is still going on behind the scenes. We do know that he corroborated what Bill Taylor, the top U.S. diplomat for Ukraine, what he said last week. Taylor referenced Morrison throughout that testimony, and he even said that he was -- Taylor was concerned that the president had withheld Ukrainian aid in exchange for those investigations.
He backs up what he said. They differ on some minor details, but he did ultimately corroborate that. So, the Democrats will likely come out, pointing to the corroboration. Republicans will say, well, he said there was nothing wrong with the call -- Brooke.
BALDWIN: Got it, corroboration, but not concern.
Manu, thank you for the update on all things Tim Morrison.
Harry Litman and Mary McCord are back with me.
And so, Harry, you first just on what Manu was just reporting. The president and his allies dismissed former Ambassador Bill Taylor for relying on secondhand information. That was just part of that, but, really, the crux of this is, if Morrison wasn't concerned about the call, why then this rush to put this transcript in this secure server at the White House? LITMAN: Yes, exactly.
So, look, we have his six-page opening statement. He strongly corroborates Taylor, who's really bad for the White House. And he strongly corroborates the details about Sondland and Giuliani, who are shaping up to be, in this morality tale, sort of enemies two and three.
That he, a non-lawyer, in his diplomatic mind-set, was more worried about the effect on Ukraine than possible impeachable offenses, I don't think is either here nor there.
He corroborates the facts. That's what matters most. The judgment about the facts now falls to Congress.
BALDWIN: But, surely -- Mary, I'm going to ask this to you -- that the president will point to the fact that Tim Morrison sat there and said, no, I listened in on the call, I wasn't concerned about anything illegal.
But isn't the problem bigger than this July 25 phone call, like that this was a wide coordinated effort?
MCCORD: Well, I think -- I think the president will use this again to repeat his refrain that this was a perfect call and point to probably parts of Mr. Morrison's testimony.
But I think, as Harry pointed out, sort of the actions taken within the White House and outside of the White House by people within the administration don't really support that there wasn't alarm about this.
There's been reporting, of course, of John Bolton's own reaction, which we won't know unless and until we hear from him, or about any testimony he may present. We won't know directly -- until then directly how he felt about it, but certainly we know what Fiona Hill has said about it, what Mr. Morrison said already today about having been directed not to deal with Giuliani.
We know about the transcript having ellipses put into that. We know that from Vindman, who testified about that. And we know about it being put into this highly secure system.
So there's a lot of actual facts that have come out recently which do show that, regardless of what various people might have thought in particular was alarming about the phone call and about the entire back and forth throughout the spring and the summer and into the fall this year, that it was handled in a way that causes a lot of concerns for a lot of people.
And that certainly, I think, supports that very many people had knowledge something was wrong with this.
BALDWIN: You bring up John Bolton. Harry, let me ask this of you. Let me just jump to that. So he's been invited to testify next week, but he says he will not show up without a subpoena.
Do you think he was trying to send a message to the president by saying that? And, if so, what might he be trying to relay?
LITMAN: Yes, no, I don't think he's dealing with the president anymore. He's gone, and he's one pugnacious guy on his own. He's just caught in the middle, like Kupperman, and wants a legal compulsion.
I think he will get it, and the things he has to say are really incendiary.
One more quick point on the substance.
LITMAN: Today, the nominee for Russian ambassador was forced to say under oath that this was a quid pro quo and it was wrong.
So I just think it's going to be impossible for the administration, notwithstanding the lone voice of the president saying it's perfect, to hold that line.
BALDWIN: Harry Litman, thank you. Mary McCord, appreciate you there.
Coming up next: The Trump campaign has released this new ad for, of course, President Trump, and part of it attacking the impeachment process. So let's talk about this.
And I want to play you some sound from voters in the key battleground state of Pennsylvania.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SUSAN LUISI, MODERATE DEMOCRAT: Well, we have already gone pretty far into this presidency. So do we really want to spend the last time of it impeaching someone who may or may not be elected again?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: How are you feeling about this whole impeachment inquiry?
Because it turns out many Americans and swing states are split. And some people who supported the president in 2016 are questioning what they will do in 2020. Some are asking, is impeachment even worth it?
Miguel Marquez, CNN national correspondent, talked to voters in the battleground state of Pennsylvania.
MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): What one thinks of impeachment...
ANDREW GMITER, DEMOCRAT: I think he deserves to be impeached, absolutely.
MARQUEZ: ... often tracks with what one thinks of Donald Trump.
(on camera): What do you think of impeachment?
JAMES DILLIE, TRUMP VOTER: It's bull.
MARQUEZ (voice over): James Dillie, a coal miner, and his stepson, Roc Dabney, are huge supporters of the president, proudly displaying Trump flags like this one. They see impeachment as Democrats trying to reverse the outcome of 2016.
DILLIE: I think they're just head-hunting. They're mad they lost and just trying to get him out.
ROC DABNEY, TRUMP VOTER: I think it's something that Democrats are doing right now. They're just like grabbing for straws, really.
MARQUEZ: Washington County, south of Pittsburgh, has trended Republican for years. In 2016, Donald Trump beat Clinton here by more than 25 points.
(on camera): Aren't you excited for the first female president?
JACQUELYN KRACHALA, TRUMP VOTER: No!
WILLIAM KRACHALA, ANTI-TRUMP VOTER: I am.
MARQUEZ (voice over): CNN was here on election day in 2016, the Krachalas (ph) then married 37 years and diametrically opposed on candidates.
(on camera): You voted for Donald Trump. You voted for Hillary Clinton. Has anything changed?
J. KRACHALA: No!
MARQUEZ (voice over): Now, both of them 90, they still lovingly bicker.
W. KRACHALA: I think he's a crook.
J. KRACHALA: None of that.
W. KRACHALA: And I think he's going to get us into a war.
J. KRACHALA: Well, you're not dead, and we had wars before that.
W. KRACHALA: We're not done yet.
MARQUEZ: Jacquelyn (ph) couldn't be clearer on impeachment.
J. KRACHALA: Well, that's ridiculous.
MARQUEZ: Bill, a lifelong Republican, is as opposed, as ever, to Donald Trump, but impeachment?
W. KRACHALA: I don't know whether impeachment would solve anything or not. It just would create a lot of upheaval. But I'm hoping to hell that he gets elected out of office.
CODY SPENCE, TRUMP VOTER: My health insurance is alone.
MARQUEZ: Cody Spence, a registered Democrat in 2016, was struggling to pay for health care. Today, his financial situation has improved. He credits Donald Trump.
SPENCE: I don't think at this point that there is a reason to impeach him. And you get some hard evidence that the people of the country can see, that's a different story.
MARQUEZ: Some moderates question the wisdom of an impeachment fight now.
LUISI: Well, we've already gone pretty far into this presidency. So do we really want to spend the last time of it impeaching someone who may or may not be elected again?
MARQUEZ: More progressive Democrats say full steam ahead on impeachment, regardless of the outcome.
GMITER: It probably still favors the Democrats.
MARQUEZ (on camera): And then, if he goes on to win the election?
GMITER: That's going to be -- that's going to be a rough another four years.
MARQUEZ: Democratic officials here in Washington County say that not only does dislike of Donald Trump help him, but impeachment does as well.
They have an off-year election coming up in just a few days. And they say impeachment and the dislike of Trump is already driving voters and raising enthusiasm among Democrats here. And they expect that trend to continue