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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT
Top Trump Adviser Backs Up Quid Pro Quo Claim As House Votes To Move Forward With Impeachment; Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT) Discuss About Tim Morrison's Deposition; Trump's Russia Adviser Warned To Avoid Giuliani; House Votes To Formalize Trump Impeachment; Two Dems Break With Party, GOP Stands United; White House Ramps Up Outreach Ahead of Likely Impeachment Trial; Rep. Mike Turner (R-OH) is Interviewed About the Impeachment Inquiry. Aired 7-8p ET
Aired October 31, 2019 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: ... they stayed in the fight and were so proud. Congratulations to our Washington Nationals. Excellent, excellent work. Erin Burnett OUTFRONT starts right now.
PAMELA BROWN, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next a historic impeachment vote in the House as a key witness testifies to a quid pro quo, so why is the White House claiming victory tonight? Plus, two major court hearings tonight that could change the course of the impeachment investigation. What we're learning from inside the courtroom? And a rising Democrat embroiled in a scandal delivers a blistering farewell speech and tonight she leaves Congress pointing fingers. Let's go out front.
Good evening. I'm Pamela Brown in for Erin Burnett. OUTFRONT tonight the breaking news, the impeachment investigation now in high gear on this historic day when the House of Representatives voted to move forward with the impeachment of President Trump. Another crucial witness testifies of a quid pro quo between Trump and Ukraine.
Tim Morrison, a top White House adviser now the fifth person under oath to back up allegations of a deal military aid to Ukraine in exchange for dirt on Trump's political enemies. Something the President has denied over and over again.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No quid pro quo.
There's no quid pro quo.
No quid pro quo.
No quid pro quo.
No quid pro quo.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: Well, tonight White House officials I've spoken with are downplaying the quid pro quo part of Morris's testimony and honing in on two other key parts of that testimony that they view as a win, that the transcript was a fair and accurate representation of president Trump's phone call with the Ukrainian president and that he didn't think there was anything wrong with the call.
Now, Morrison's testimony is significant for a number of reasons. He was listening in on Trump's controversial call on July 25th with the Ukraine's President and he also had direct conversations with President Trump. He's also been seen as a supporter of the President and he's a Bolton ally, making it hard for the White House to claim he is part of the deep state.
We have a lot to cover tonight, let's start with Kaitlan Collins at the White House. Kaitlan, it has certainly been a consequential day for the White House. What are your sources telling you about how the White House is viewing today's testimony?
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Pam, some people inside the White House are viewing what happened today, this testimony, what they're learning about it at least is positive for them, because it doesn't seem that Tim Morrison really drew any conclusions about the President's involvement in holding up this military aid. Of course, that's what Democrats are trying to get to the bottom of.
But the White House also doesn't have someone present in the room. They're not fully aware and instead they're relying on press reports and what Republicans emerging from the room are saying. There are other parts that we've learned about what Tim Morrison said that are not so redeeming for the White House, including that he largely backed up what Bill Taylor, the top U.S. Diplomat in Ukraine said when he testified which he went on at length about this desire from U.S. officials to withhold that military aid in exchange for an investigation into Joe Biden's son and the energy company of the Board that he sat on.
So those are questions that are still to be determined. Of course, they were watching Tim Morrison closely because he is one of the officials who, as you noted, interacted the most with the President that's testified so far, speaking with the President directly, working in this White House for some time and they couldn't essentially argue that he was some bureaucrat that was against the President, working against him from inside the administration, because, of course, he's someone who was brought on by John Bolton.
He was seen as John Bolton's Bolton, so those are the questions here that the White House is still waiting to figure out more about. And, of course, this comes after the house took that first vote today, those first formal votes on impeachment. And whether or not this start to move into the open is also something that the White House is paying attention to, because if someone like Tim Morrison they feel like testifying in public is going to potentially be helpful to them, that's something they want.
Though, of course, there are a slew of other people who have testified on Capitol Hill with things that have not been good or redeeming for the White House.
BROWN: All right. Kaitlan Collins from the White House, thank you so much for that. And out front tonight, Democratic Congressman Peter Welch of Vermont. He's a member of both the Intelligence and the Oversight Committee. Thank you so much for coming on, Congressman.
You sat in on Morrison's deposition. You just heard my reporting that the White House thinks that basically Morrison's deposition was an overall win for them, was it?
REP. PETER WELCH (D-VT): It's hard to see how they interpret it that way. He really confirmed the facts of what has been testified to by people like Ambassador Taylor. What's happening here is that it's really coming into focus with great clarity what the president did.
I mean he made the call. He requested a favor. The favor was to dig up dirt. And the leverage that the President used was to withhold National Security aid to resist the Russians. Now, some on his side like Mitch McConnell and others are saying that there's nothing wrong with that. The president says that's perfect.
But what we're talking about now with clarity is that the President did something that is against the law. We as federal officials cannot request that a foreign power get involved in our campaigns and that's what the President did. So all of us are going to have to make the judgment, but the spin is it's going to keep coming.
BROWN: Your Republican colleagues, they are downplaying the quid pro quo. They say it's based on second-hand information from EU ambassador Gordon Sondland that all of this testimony is really secondhand. It's not coming from the President directly to the person testifying.
Here's Republican Congressman Mark Meadows.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. MARK MEADOWS (R-NC): Mr. Morrison's testimony is very damaging to the Democrat narrative. That's why you haven't any leaks from my Democrat colleagues today.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: And one of the big things they're seizing on is, of course, Morrison said that the transcript was a fair representation of the call and that he wasn't concerned about the contents of the call in terms of it being legally problematic. Does that help the Republicans' case and the White House's case?
WELCH: Well, that is the White House case. I mean the President, he released the transcript where he asked for a favor. He had Mick Mulvaney go out and say there was a quid pro quo. They withheld that National Security assistance. Their conclusion which is self-serving and just disregards the law is
that's perfect, that's fine. So that's what their partisan point of view is, but there is a law and there are facts that are really not in dispute. And if you have been careful as you have been, all of us, you notice that the Republicans are not condoning the conduct, they're not defending the conduct, they're not saying anything about the conduct.
So it's a pretty weak defense going after the character of the various witnesses and then really not acknowledging what the President himself said he did.
BROWN: We also learned that the case involving John Bolton's Deputy, Charles Kupperman, will not be resolved until December 10th. Are you going to wait for the courts to resolve this?
WELCH: We can't wait for the courts. We have to keep moving. I mean, there's two questions that really are profoundly important to the can people. One is, is a president above the law and the facts that I've laid out, each one of us is going to have to make a judgment about that.
And then second, is Congress going to stand up for the constitutional principle of separation of powers and that we have equal branches of government to provide checks and balances? It's been a total stonewall from the Trump administration. They're doing something that neither Nixon nor Clinton did repudiating the authority of Congress to even have an inquiry. So those are the two issues.
The President, is he above the law and will we maintain separation of powers in co-equal branches.
BROWN: And, of course, Republicans still argue that even with today's vote, there's still issues with the process. They're still going to be closed-door testimony. They feel like they're still not due process, but I want to go back to Charles Kupperman and John Bolton as well, because he has been asked to testify. He shares the same attorney as Kupperman, that attorney saying Bolton will not voluntarily testify. Are you going to subpoena Bolton and if so, when?
WELCH: Well, we've been sending out subpoenas. And, in fact, the people who have come forward like Ambassador Taylor received instructions from the White House or the State Department or the Defense Department did not come in, but they received a legally valid subpoena from the House and they responded. Now, Bolton may not do that so we'll have to do two things, one ...
BROWN: But are you going to subpoena him and when will that happen if so?
WELCH: I believe we will, but that'll be up to Chairman Schiff. But we would definitely go to subpoena if they don't agree to come voluntarily.
BROWN: OK. I have to quickly ask, no Republicans voted for the measure today, while two Democrats voted against it. This has given the White House and Republicans a huge talking point tonight, was this a failure of your party's leadership?
WELCH: No, absolutely not. Every member has to - this is a very important vote, you got to vote your conscience and we have two colleagues who weren't there yet. But this is an enormous repudiation. I mean, can you imagine the President of the United States and it gets to this point and a lot of what happened is a result of the information we received from the President himself who released that readout of his telephone call where he was shaking down a foreign leader to get assistance in his campaign.
I mean that's pretty appalling conduct.
BROWN: All right. Thank you so much, Congressman Welch. We appreciate you coming on.
WELCH: Thank you.
BROWN: And out front next, more on today's crucial testimony. Who told Morrison to steer clear of Rudy Giuliani and why? Plus, the White House says it doesn't want to talk publicly about its impeachment strategy, is that because there isn't one? And we'll hear from the Republican lawmaker who said Trump's call with the Ukrainian president was 'not OK', so what is he saying tonight?
BROWN: Breaking news, stay away from Rudy Giuliani. That was the message that Tim Morrison, Trump's top adviser on Russia and Europe told lawmakers he received loud and clear. A source familiar with Morrison's testimony telling CNN that he said he was advised by former White House official Fiona Hill to stay away from the parallel Ukraine policy that Giuliani was pushing for.
Now, remember, it was Hill who also testified that former National Security Adviser, John Bolton, referred to Giuliani's efforts in Ukraine as a 'drug deal'.
Out front now former Nixon White House Counsel John Dean, Joe Lockhart who was President Clinton's Press Secretary during his impeachment investigation, CNN Senior Political Reporter Nia Malika Henderson and former FBI Assistant Director and former Republican State Senator in Nevada Greg Brower. Thank you all for coming on. A lot to discuss here.
John, I'm going to go to you first, because this was a very strong warning based on this testimony to avoid Rudy Giuliani. We also have not seen Giuliani ad on TV defending the President like he has in the past, what does that say to you? JOHN DEAN, FORMER NIXON WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL: It shows a sudden bit of
wisdom in the White House to not have Rudy out there. He was causing them more problems than he was solving. I think that they got the message that this wasn't healthy and he's clearly tainted right now. And I don't think that's over and it's going to get worse before it gets better, so they're stepping back.
BROWN: And does it also in a way kind of emphasized to you, Greg, this notion that the President was relying on his outside attorney over his own NSC officials who are kind of warning each other internally, hey, like don't deal with this outsider who the President is leaning on for policy, essentially.
GREG BROWER, FORMER FBI ASSISTANT DIRECTOR: Yes. Not only I think it's a generally a bad idea for the President to rely on an outsider like this to do foreign policy, but this particular outsider could pose real problems for the President down the road.
BROWN: And just quickly on that, the phone call Morrison testified today, he didn't see anything legally problematic about it, do share that view.
BROWER: I'm not sure about that and there's a lot of spin going on. Of course, none of us was in the room for that testimony by Mr. Morrison today, but what is reported is that Mr. Morrison made it clear to the committee that he had a sinking feeling about the apparent quid pro quo deal when he kind of put it all together and then he went to National Security Council lawyers, at least, a couple of times to talk about it.
I'm not sure why he would be going to NSC lawyers to talk about this issue, if he didn't think there was a potential legal problem. So I'm not sure what to make of that.
BROWN: And our reporting is his concern was more about the leaking of it and how it play out in a polarized Washington than the legal aspects of it, but you point out the sinking feeling this is what Bill Taylor, Nia, had testified to saying that Morrison told him he had a sinking feeling after learning about this conversation from Ambassador Sondland.
"According to Mr. Morrison, President Trump told Ambassador Sondland that he was not asking for 'quid pro quo', but President Trump did insist the President Zelensky go to a microphone and say he is opening investigations of Biden and 2016 election interference, and that President Zelensky should want to do this himself."
Morrison is the latest official, I believe, the fifth to corroborate this account of a quid pro quo. How significant is that?
NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: I mean, it's significant. I mean every day is significant. Out of these depositions, what you see is this consistent story. The story that was essentially hinted at when the President released this memo of the transcript, a memo of the phone call where he says at one point on that phone call to President Zelensky, "I would like you to do us a favor," and this right after there is a discussion of military aid.
And this is why I think every day has been damaging for this president, because there is no point. There is nothing that's coming out of these hearings or these depositions that is exculpatory for the President. There is no one testifying that says, "Listen, none of this happened. There was no quid pro quo. The president would never ever do this. He has a sort of line that he would not cross."
So in that way, that's why you see not necessarily a focus on the substance of what's coming out of these depositions and sort of confidence from Democrats that they've got a case that they are building on, they'll have more folks come before, folks behind closed doors and then the public hearings. They feel like they just have a case that keeps building on prior testimony and everyone seems to be corroborating this picture of a quid pro quo from this president.
BROWN: And what's interesting is you notice there's not as much emphasis on the whistleblower, since there has been more and more corroboration from these witness testimonies of that complaint. But, Joe, White House officials I speak to they say, "Look, this is all secondhand information. This is what Sondland told Morrison in this case of today. It wasn't coming directly from the President and even Sondland himself didn't believe it was quid pro quo." Is that a sufficient argument in your view?
JOE LOCKHART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I don't think so. In fact that's exactly what these depositions is addressing. It's no longer secondhand. They are systematically and methodically going through the people who it was first-hand information for. And this gentleman, Mr. Morrison, is the NSC's point person.
Remember, the NSC is designed to coordinate throughout the government; State Department, Pentagon, Intelligence Community. So these are the people who talk to everyone else in the government and coordinate policy, so it is firsthand.
And picking up on Nia's point, I think it's not like you would expect someone to say this didn't happen, these calls didn't happen. We know they happen, but you'd expect if there was some innocent explanation that there'd be an alternative theory that no, no, no, it's not that, it's this and you hear none of that. All you hear is attacks on the process.
So I think, again, the depositions are creating this record that will go public very soon that paints a very damning picture for the President.
BROWN: And, of course, allies of the President, the White House, they are looking to seize on anything that they can to bolster what the President has said. As we know, President Trump has insisted for weeks there was nothing wrong with that phone call with Zelensky.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: The conversation was absolutely perfect, absolutely appropriate.
The President of Ukraine said that call was absolutely fine.
I made a perfect call, not a good call, a perfect call. Like a friend of mine is a great lawyer and he said, "Did you know this would be the subject of all of this scrutiny, because the way you expressed yourself, this is like a perfect call."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: So White House is really seizing on what Morrison said today, Nia, that Morrison did not believe there was anything problematic legally about that call. Do you think the they will continue that this will just basically allow the President continue to say that?
HENDERSON: Yes. I think that's right. And, of course, what we know about impeachment is you don't necessarily have to do anything illegal. They're high crimes and misdemeanors. The high crimes coming from someone in office and so if you're a Democrat, you're looking at the idea of abuse of power, you're looking at the idea of obstruction of Congress, them not cooperating as possible articles of impeachment.
But, sure, I think that White House is looking for everything they can, anything anyone out there who says this call was OK. Obviously, you had today Morrison saying he didn't think it was illegal, but that doesn't really matter in terms of what you can bring forward, in terms of impeachment articles.
BROWN: All right. Thank you all so much for sharing your insights. We do appreciate it. And OUTFRONT next, the partisan showdown over today's impeachment hearing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ELIOT ENGEL (D-NY): So far we've seen damning evidence.
REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): There's nothing compelling.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: Plus, Trump continuing to defend his call with Ukraine.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: The transcript of the call that I had with the Ukrainian president is a perfect and totally appropriate document.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: A Republican Congressman who said that that call was 'not OK' response.
BROWN: And breaking news, the House voting to formalize their impeachment inquiry against President Trump. The final vote tally was 232 to 196. So Republicans voting in favor of it and two Democrats voting against it.
Well, after the vote, a literal split screen with Democrats and Republicans holding dueling news conferences and what we heard sounded like lawmakers living in alternate universes.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): This is a solemn day in the history of our country when the President's misconduct has compelled us to continue to move forward with an impeachment inquiry.
REP. JIM JORDAN (R-OH): It is a sad day. It really is for this country, what the Democrats have put our nation through for now almost four years.
ENGEL: So far we've seen damning evidence that the President abused his power.
MCCARTHY: And all the hearings there's nothing compelling, nothing overwhelming.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: Everyone is back with me, I should note. Joe, I want to go to you first to get your perspective, zero Republicans defected today. What does that tell you?
LOCKHART: Yes. I don't think it means as much as a lot of people are saying. This was in effect a process vote and it was very easy for Republicans who don't control the process to say they don't like it. They'd like to share power with the Democrats, but the Democrats have the power.
This vote didn't deal with the underlying actions of the President and his abuse of power. So, I think that the next vote is the really the hard one and the group that I would look at is the 25 to 30 Republicans who are retiring, who don't have to face the voters again.
I think they're going to have a much tougher time looking at that and saying, "Hey, it's just OK what the President did." There's, "I don't see anything wrong with it." Because you know privately they do see something wrong with it. So, again, I don't read that much into today.
BROWN: What do you think, Nia?
HENDERSON: I think we've heard in covering this president, I know you have in talking to Republicans, there are always sort of private concerns about the President's behavior. They have very rarely made those concerns they've had about the President in public, because they fear retribution from this president, they fear him tearing him down on Twitter, they fear what happened at something like Jeff Flake who's no longer in the Senate because he disagreed with the way the President was conducting himself in office.
I think Republicans are completely controlled by Donald Trump in so many ways. They have been his cheerleaders. They have been in his enablers, his protectors and defenders. And we will see if that continues. You feel like something like that will hurt, who is actually retiring.
And Joe makes the point that the real vote comes later, but you feel like if you're retiring, don't you feel like you could maybe vote with the Democrats on this to say, "Let's at least, explore what the deal is." So in some ways, it is emblematic where Republicans have been so far with this president, which is in lockstep.
BROWER: Right. And I agree with that and into Joe's point, the vote wasn't all that surprising more or less along party lines. But here is the reality, I think, well, there's not a single Democrat who voted yes because he or she felt they had to vote with the party. I think they all feel as though an impeachment inquiry should go forward.
There are a whole bunch of Republicans who voted no only because it was a party vote. But who actually in private and amongst themselves as they're talking believe that there is a lot to investigate here and it really should go forward, an impeachment inquiry should go forward.
They just don't want to go on the record yet. You saw one Republican from my home state do that a couple of weeks ago. He got a lot of flak for it from his constituents, and he's tried to back up ever since. There are a lot of nervous Republicans who really do think that there should be a fulsome inquiry. They're just not prepared to go out on a limb to say that.
PAMELA BROWN, CNN HOST: And, of course, there are two Democrats who defected essentially and didn't vote in favor of it which is something the White House is seizing on today.
And, John, the White House, Republicans, they are repeatedly going after House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff. And the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, Doug Collins, had this message today for Schiff.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. DOUG COLLINS (R-GA): Here's my challenge to Mr. Schiff, you want to be Ken Starr? Be Ken Starr. Come to the Judiciary Committee, be the first witness and take every question asked of you.
Starting with your own involvement with the whistle-blower. Folks, this ain't over. Get ready. The cloud that is dropping will be dropping on their heads.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: So, you see the GOP is clearly trying to make Schiff the bogeyman here. Can it work, do you think?
JOHN DEAN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I doubt it's going to work. It's certainly not going to work with the Democrats who have great respect for Schiff. He's been a good chairman. He's a highly trained Harvard grad lawyer and he was a prosecutor. He knows his ways around the Hill and he's assembling a very strong case.
It doesn't surprise me that the Republicans are trying to point the finger and make him the bad guy. It's not going to work, though.
The other thing, Pam, I would just like to add, I think that was a whip vote for the Republicans and if you look back historically, Nixon's vote to start that impeachment proceeding was 410-4, with about 180 Republicans voting to go ahead with the proceedings. That was a vote -- considered a vote of conscience back then. I think it's a whip vote today because the leadership is very worried about this president. With Nixon, he thought they might actually be able to meet the charges.
BROWN: And, Joe, you know this so well. So much about what is playing out right now is public opinion, trying to sway the voters. It's all about messaging.
Here's what Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham said today about the White House game plan going forward after this vote.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANIE GRISHAM, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I don't think I want to get into the strategy of what the legal strategy will be going forward until we learn kind of what the ground rules are. The Dems have been really good at continuously moving the goalpost on that, so I don't want to get into any of our strategy just yet.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: So the White House still hasn't added a rapid response team yet and it's working on it and the White House source told me today that look, we were disorganized in the beginning. Do you think they lost too much precious time?
JOE LOCKHART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I think there's been too much emphasis on whether they have a war room or a strategy. They do have a strategy and it's Donald Trump. He sets the tone and makes the statements.
They can have the best, you know, strategy in the world. Many of them know that the best thing to do is to have Trump stand aside, focus on governing issues -- governing and leave this alone. But Trump's not going to do that.
So what they do is they sort of try to fill in behind him as he changes his mind and, you know, gets angry and tweets in the morning and late at night. So that's not, you know, so again, I don't think it's whether they're disorganized or not. They just have a problem with their principal who is undisciplined and self-indulgent. BROWN: Yes, I asked one White House official says who is in charge of
the communication, and they said President Trump is.
Here's how the Trump reelection campaign is trying to spin things. Here is an ad that spent seven figures on the air during the World Series game last night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, DONALD J. TRUMP FOR PRESIDENT)
AD NARRATOR: Democrats would rather focus on impeachment and phony investigations, ignoring the real issues, but that's not stopping Donald Trump. He's no Mr. Nice Guy, but sometimes it takes a Donald Trump to change Washington.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: So, Nia, administration sources tell me, that's the message we're banking on, that, you know, look, while we're working for you in Washington, Democrats are focused on what they view as a sham impeachment proceeding. Do you think that can work?
NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: It's not a bad strategy. I think it's complicated by the fact that Donald Trump isn't as good at compartmentalizing as Bill Clinton was. This was Bill Clinton's message, as well, that he was focused on the business of American people and American families and Republicans were distracted with Monica Lewinsky and all sorts of other things.
But he could carry that message because of who he was. Donald Trump is a different sort of politician. He makes that clear in that ad there, he is obsessed with this investigation.
He was tweeting about it. He's all over the place sort of talking about it. So I think that is going to be hard for him to maintain that, but I think it was a very effective ad and sort of surprising and we were all watching the Nats game.
BROWN: Yes, because it was early.
HENDERSON: I think it's the earliest a general election campaign we've seen. So, yes, they're going to try to put that out there and you'll have Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats and you saw her in the press conference today, say, listen, we are doing impeachment, but we're also thinking about how do you lower drug prices, trade deals and that's all that sort of --
BROWER: And that's the reality. You know, whether you agree with the bills or don't agree with the bills, the House has pushed out past a lot of legislation, sent it over to the Senate where it's just sitting there. So, it's really -- you really can't say the house isn't legislating while at the same time doing the impeachment. They have been.
BROWN: Quickly, John Dean, final word to you. DEAN: I think the curtain is just going up right now for what's going
to be a fairly protected play.
All right. And we will be watching it every step of the way. Thank you so much.
OUTFRONT next, Republican Congressman Mike Turner said Trump's call with the Ukrainian president was, quote, not OK, but what is he prepared to do about it? Congressman Turner is my guest.
Plus, major back-to-back court cases could determine who must testify in the impeachment probe. We'll take you inside that courtroom.
BROWN: Breaking news: The White House is ramping up its outreach to Senate Republicans ahead of a likely impeachment trial. Today, a number of key Senate Republicans huddling with the president at the White House to talk strategy. This after criticism that the White House paid too little attention to the president's defenders in the House. Republicans there complaining about the lack of guidance and strategy from the White House on impeachment.
Well, the White House has still not hired a communications team to handle the strategy there, and it hasn't brought on any new lawyers to handle the legal strategy. Many Republicans and advisers remain deeply frustrated with the way the White House is handling the entire situation.
Well, OUTFRONT tonight, Republican Congressman Mike Turner. He sits on the House Intelligence Committee.
Thank you so much for coming on.
REP. MIKE TURNER (R-OH): Thanks, Pamela.
BROWN: I want to start with that, this frustration among White House aides and advisers that the president hasn't really allowed his team to form an adequate defense on impeachment. Do you think that the White House has made a mistake here by not having a more robust legal and communications team in place by now?
TURNER: Well, you know, certainly, part of the travesty for today it was certainly evidenced by the panel that you just had as you had people on your show who were talking about the testimony that was happening today, but yet not one person saw it. All these hearings are happening in secret. Adam Schiff is making certain that no one sees what occurs down there.
I can tell you one thing, though. I did sit in the hearing and Tim Morrison did not say there was quid pro quo, even though a lot of your panelists seem to believe that they did. I think that certainly was Adam Schiff's intention was to put the White House on a disadvantage just as you're at a disadvantage because no one other than those on the Intelligence Committee know what's happening down in that room, and that's what I think is unfortunate because the American public deserved to see this. They deserved to know and you deserve to know.
When you have a panel that's doing an analysis you should have witnessed what Tim Morrison was saying.
BROWN: Part of what happened today with this vote is that moving forward, there will be more public hearings. I mean, does that take away the Republican talking point?
TRUNER: It's not really guaranteed. I mean, the resolution says he can have public hearings and he could have had public hearings before and there's nothing that's new in this.
There are some things in it that are troubling and for example, it says that the ranking member, the Republican, on the committee can't pick up who he wants to question the witness and they can only ask staff, and I don't understand why they wouldn't let other members of Congress, why they would limit members of Congress' questions who they would call.
BROWN: So, you say that basically, the White House -- it's not their fault because this is all closed-door testimony and there's certainly no way for them to have a better strategy.
BROWN: You didn't answer my question. But do you think that they should have a more robust communication than legal team?
TURNER: I think certainly as this evolves they will and they're going to have to, but even today, most of what you're reporting on is speculation. But I can tell you this --
BROWN: But a lot of this does come from his opening statement as well, that was released where he does say look, this transcript was a fair and accurate representation. I didn't think it was legally problematic, though he was clearly concerned it would be negative for the White House if it was leaked out. And you say that he didn't say that there was quid pro quo, but the reporting is that he was told by Sondland that the president would release that military aid in exchange for Ukraine announcing the investigation to Biden, is that not accurate?
TURNER: I mean, first off --
BROWN: You don't have to say something is quid pro quo for it to be quid pro quo, that's communicated, in other words.
TURNER: What's important is that we shouldn't to talk about what the reporting is. You should have seen this today. This should have been open to all of the public.
Now, one thing that is also important and I am very concerned about moving forward. Kurt Volker and Tim Morrison both have first-hand knowledge of what was going on and what occurred, right?
TURNER: A lot of other people, Vindman and Taylor are talking about in their testimony and you see that in the opening statements that have been released and things that they heard or other people that they talked to. I'm very concerned that we could be in a situation where Adam Schiff decides to call forward those who talked to other people instead of those people who can tell us directly what they actually know.
BROWN: Well, Vindman was on the call, as we know it.
TURNER: Recall that he testified on things that he had no direct knowledge of and those are things that Tim Morrison -- he reported to Tim Morrison. He was a military detailee to Tim. Tim is the guy who ought to be testifying in public, and he should have been testifying in public today.
BROWN: Vindman did have knowledge. He didn't interact with the president like a Tim Morrison did, but Vindman did.
TURNER: Remember, this is about the president, right? I mean, so, if you -- if you have Ambassador Kurt Volker and Tim Morrison at the National Security Council both having direct knowledge of what's occurring, you have the president of the United States, you have the president of Ukraine and we're all getting their statements and testimony. Those who were on the outside who have heard from others, who have had conversations with people about what they think or believe or might feel really aren't important.
BROWN: And I know that that is something that the White House officials speak to that hone in on the second-hand information and it's hearsay. You have the president who continues to say that it was the perfect phone call. In fact, he just said it today in a radio interview and here's what he said.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The transcript of the -- of the call that I have with the Ukrainian president is a perfect and totally appropriate document.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
BROWN: You have said that this call was not OK.
TURNER: Right, I don't agree to that. I believe that it's not that.
BROWN: Why? Do you wish the president would stop saying that?
TURNER: You know, there is a difference between okay and impeachable. Take the vote today. There was a vote today for impeachment proceedings by a number of people who already were on record to impeach the president before this call even happened.
So today was a political vote. This was a political impeachment.
BROWN: Yes, but they also gave -- the Republicans were asking for more transparency in the process.
TURNER: Well, we'll have to see because it says -- all it says is that you can have public hearings. It doesn't require it. It doesn't require that the transcripts be released.
It certainly doesn't require that tomorrow, you get to read Tim Morrison's testimony, which I truly believe that Tim Morrison's testimony today was devastating for them. And if you had that, you'd be kind of surprised to see what the contrast between what people who have actual knowledge are saying, and those who are speculating.
BROWN: But I have to ask you. Now, that, you know, the inquiry is underway, are you open to it proceeding and are you open to voting for impeachment if it goes that way for you?
TURNER: Well, I mean, again, I have already sat through hearings and read transcripts and there is not one thing in these hearings and transcripts -- obviously, I can't tell you what people said, but I can tell you what people didn't say. No one has walked in said, I have direct knowledge that an official with authority in the United States government under the direction of the president of the United States told the Ukraine that they must undertake the investigation of the Bidens in the 2016 elections or the Burisma or their aid will not be released. There has not been --
BROWN: If that is revealed, would that be enough for you to vote?
TURNER: I think it certainly changes that mix (ph), but I can tell you this, it hasn't --
BROWN: What about Mick Mulvaney saying that from the podium at the White House saying, yes, it was that? And then, of course, he walked it back.
TURNER: Well, he said a portion of that and he didn't say all that and then he did walk it back, but the issue is this is -- they've been asking a lot of people. Remember the whistle-blower came forward and they didn't say and the whistle-blower didn't say that there was this quid pro quo and the aid and these investigations. They said actually there was quid pro quo for you must dig up dirt on my opponent. Well, that's been proven to be absolutely not the case. Of course, the whistleblower had no and there was no direct knowledge of the things they were speaking, but the cited people that did.
These are people that we've interviewed and we've had depositions for and still -- the circumstances and the facts aren't changing other than the testimony that you've read of the telephone call as to how it was reported.
BROWN: But the testimony has largely backed up what the whistle- blower has said.
TURNER: Well, you don't know that. You haven't seen any of it.
BROWN: Well, we've seen many of the opening statement. We saw Taylor's opening statement where it talked about --
TURNER: Right. So, I re-read Taylor's opening statement when I was here, and I would encourage you to do the same, because he says, I believe, I was told, I felt. There is not --
BROWN: And didn't Morrison back up what he said in his testimony? I guess, actually, I did tell Taylor that.
TURNER: There were portions that related specifically to conversations with Tim Morrison where Tim Morrison did say that I backed it up and others said he's not and Tim Morrison did not back up that there was quid pro quo with the Ukraine and either funding or a meeting with the president of the United States.
BROWN: Did Tim Morrison say that Sondland told him that the president said he would release the funding if the Ukraine announces his investigation of the Biden?
TURNER: I can't tell you what he did say, but I can tell you what he didn't say, and what I did tell is that he didn't say any of those things that have been reported.
Now, here's the point that I make a point to frequently which I think is kind of important. It's not proper. It's illegal. We're not permitted to go into a classified hearing or a confidential deposition and walk out and tell you what happened, but it is not against the law for people to come out and lie to you.
And I think the reports that you're getting are a lot of people that are misrepresenting for their own purposes what's happened behind closed doors. I assure you what was happening behind closed doors supported the impeachment of the president of the United States, it would not be happening behind closed doors. It would be happening right on --
BROWN: You would happen if all of the witness testimony to open. OK.
TURNER: They all should have been. They all should have been.
BROWN: Thank you so much, Congressman. Appreciate it.
TURNER: Thank you. Appreciate it. Thank you.
BROWN: And OUTFRONT next, breaking news about when we may learn the fate of a key impeachment witness and whether or not they'll be forced to testify.
Plus, Katie Hill, a rising star in the Democratic Party, resigns after explicit photos surface and she's taken a few parting shots on her way out.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. KATIE HILL (D-CA): I am leaving now because of a double standard. I am leaving because I no longer want to be used as a bargaining chip.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: Well, tonight two major court hearings that could have major implications for the impeachment inquiry. The judges in these cases could decide whether the Trump administration can keep witnesses from speaking out.
Former U.S. attorney Elie Honig is OUTFRONT with us. He sat in on both hearings today.
Now, in neither case did a judge rule, but that doesn't mean what happened today was significant in terms of what could happen with witnesses testifying. I want to start with the former White House counsel Don McGahn's case. He was subpoenaed by House Democrats in April. He ignored demands to appear.
What did the judge in this case signal?
ELIE HONIG, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: So, it was so interesting to see fist of all, Pam. It was like battle of the branches in action. On the right-hand side, you had a team of lawyers for the House, for the Congress. And on the left-hand side, you had a team of lawyers for DOJ, the executive branch, all happening within the judicial branch.
The judge asked a lot of pointed questions about the White House DOJ's theory of absolute immunity. Essentially her line of questioning was how can you maintain this position that no executive branch official ever has to answer if the president says no? And candidly, DOJ lawyers had a hard time answering that. And the judge seemed pretty skeptical of their position.
If I had to forecast this, I think the judge is going to come down on Congress' side on this one.
BROWN: Wow. So that would mean that McGahn would --
HONIG: Yes, but there is a next level, right? I think the judge's ruling is going to be yes, Don McGahn, you must testify, but the White House will immediately go to the Court of Appeals.
BROWN: Right, and will appeal it. But what happened today with McGahn has a lot to do with what's going on with Kupperman, right?
BROWN: I mean, it's similar in that this is the second case. Kupperman wants the court to decide if he should comply with the subpoena and the impeachment proceeding. The next hearing we've learned is scheduled for December 10th.
How is that going to impact the timeline for impeachment and what happens in that?
HONIG: So, here is just how related it is. At the beginning of the McGahn hearing, both legal teams said, your honor, don't be offended if half of our legal team is going down the hall to the Kupperman hearing.
BROWN: Oh, my god, how?
HONIG: And here is how further related it is. John Bolton came up at the Kupperman hearing, and the judge said essentially whatever happens with Kupperman is likely going to happen with John Bolton as well. He said that explicitly on the record.
So, the stakes here really high. But the timeline is really difficult, as you said, Pam, because even when a court moves as fast as it can as it is here with Kupperman, we're still not going back until December 10th, and there is not going to be a ruling on December 10th. So, even when courts are moving as fast as they can, it may not be fast enough for impeachment.
BROWN: But let me ask you this quickly. If the judge rules that the absolute immunity argument doesn't hold up, that McGahn has to testify, what would that mean if that happens before December 10th? What would that mean for Kupperman and Bolton?
HONIG: Well, right. It could be -- it could be -- it's going to make a big difference to what happens to Kupperman and Bolton. And the two judges were referring to what was going on down the hall.
So, it's all related. But, yes, if the judge rules McGahn has to testify, that is going the help Congress' case on getting Kupperman and perhaps Bolton to testify as well. A lot of dominos are falling here.
BROWN: Yes. I can tell you. The White House was watching what was happening today very closely.
BROWN: Elie Honig, thanks so much.
HONIG: Thanks, Pam.
BROWN: And OUTFRONT up next, refusing to leave quietly, a fiery farewell speech from a congresswoman amid a sex scandal.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILL: Hiding away and disappearing would be the one unforgivable sin.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [19:57:58]
BROWN: Once rising star Democratic Representative Katie Hill of California gave her final speech to Congress on the House floor today, and she did not hold back.
Hill resigned amid an ethics probe into allegations about an improper relationship with a staffer complicated by an ugly divorce and compromising photos. Listen to just some of her parting shots.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILL: I am leaving now because of a double standard. I am leaving because I no longer want to be used as a bargaining chip. I'm leaving because I didn't want to be peddled by papers and blogs and website, used by shameless operatives for the dirtiest gutter politics I've ever seen.
I'm leaving because there is only one investigation that deserves the attention of this country, and that's the one that we voted on today. I am leaving, but we have men who have been credibly accused of intentional acts of sexual violence and remain in boardrooms, on the Supreme Court, in this very body, and worst of all, in the Oval Office.
So the fight goes on. To create the change that every woman and girl in this country deserves, yet a man who brags about his sexual predation, who has had dozens of women come forward to accuse him of sexual assault, who pushes policies that are uniquely harmful to women who has filled the courts with judges who proudly rule to deprive women of the most fundamental right to control their own bodies sits in the highest office of the land.
And so today, as my last vote, I voted on impeachment proceedings, not just because of corruption, obstruction of justice, or gross misconduct, but because of the deepest abuse of power, including the abuse of power over women.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: Well, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says Hill is among, quote, countless women across America have been subjected to this type of harassment and abuse, and Hill has acknowledged mistakes and apologized to supporters.
Well, thank you so much for joining us on this Halloween. Don't forget, you can watch OUTFRONT any time, anywhere on CNN go.
"AC360" starts right now.