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THE SITUATION ROOM

U.S. Ambassador Admits Ukraine Quid Pro Quo; Interview With Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE); Interview With Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-VA); First Results As Key Races Test Trump Ahead 2020; Trump Ally Changes Testimony, Admits Ukraine Quid Pro Quo; Indicted Giuliani Associate To Comply With Impeachment Probe; New Evacuation Video After Deadly Attack On U.S. Women And Children; Phone Records Released In Sexual Assault Court Fight. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired November 5, 2019 - 18:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[18:00:00]

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Is it an impeachment game-changer?

Potentially illegal. Newly released transcripts reveal more about Rudy Giuliani's role in Ukraine, his shadowy contacts, and possible criminal activity, this as an indicted Giuliani associate is now talking to impeachment investigators.

Phone records revealed. A former contestant on "The Apprentice" claims new evidence to back up her allegations she was sexually assaulted by Mr. Trump. We will have the latest on their legal battle.

And burned alive. Nine American women and children with American citizenship are ambushed and massacred in Mexico near the U.S. border. Was the Mormon family targeted or mistakenly attacked?

We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BLITZER: We're following breaking news on an extraordinary twist to the impeachment investigation, a top U.S. diplomat and Trump ally changing his sworn testimony to Congress and admitting to a Ukraine quid pro quo.

Ambassador Gordon Sondland now confirms he told a Ukraine official U.S. aid was tied to the country's announcing investigations Mr. Trump wanted, including probes of Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden.

Sondland's revised testimony contradicts the president's quid pro quo denials and blows holes in the administration's account of what happened.

This hour, I will talk to Congressman Gerry Connolly, a Democrat on two committees that heard Sondland's testimony. And our correspondents and analysts are also standing by.

First, let's go to our senior national security correspondent, Alex Marquardt.

Alex, we learned Ambassador Sondland had changed his story when new witness transcripts were released.

ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right, Wolf.

In three pages of new written testimony, Gordon Sondland reversing his story in a profound, fundamental way, saying, yes, there was quid pro quo, and he, Sondland, helped lay it out to those officials in Ukraine.

Sondland described it as a gradual process that built up over the course of several months and got more and more, as he called it, insidious.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MARQUARDT (voice-over): In black and white, one of the president's top envoys changing his testimony, now admitting he told Ukraine's leadership that hundreds of millions of dollars in military aid were being held up until President Trump got the investigations he wanted.

Ambassador Gordon Sondland, who's a longtime Republican donor turned diplomat who gave money to Trump's inaugural committee, amending his original testimony, writing: "I now recall speaking individually with Mr. Yermak, where I said resumption of U.S. aid would likely not occur until Ukraine provided the public anti-corruption statement that we had been discussing for many weeks."

That public statement that Trump wanted, according to the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, was that President Zelensky go to a microphone and say he is opening investigations of Biden and 2016 election interference.

Those investigations were being pushed by the president's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani.

REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D-MD): There's really only one story. All of the witnesses agree that the president engineered a shakedown of the Ukrainian government.

MARQUARDT: In Sondland's transcript, released this afternoon, when asked if what Giuliani was doing was illegal, Sondland responded, "I assume so."

REP. TED LIEU (D-CA): That's illegal. You cannot solicit a foreign power to investigate American political parties or your American political opponent.

MARQUARDT: Over time, Sondland said things got more insidious, the demands on Ukraine bigger and bigger, and Ukraine would have to play ball before the Ukrainian president got a meeting with President Trump.

The problem grew for the State Department, which was fully aware of what Giuliani was doing, Sondland said. And when Sondland raised it with his boss, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Pompeo rolled his eyes and said, "Yes, it's something we have to deal with."

Another member of the trio in charge of diplomatic relations with Ukraine was former special envoy Kurt Volker, who, according to the new transcript, told the Ukrainians about the Giuliani factor and described the extent to which Giuliani controlled Ukrainian access to Trump.

"The Ukrainians believed that by speaking to Rudy Giuliani, they could communicate to President Trump?" Volker was asked.

"That information flow," he answered, "would reach the president."

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MARQUARDT: Kurt Volker also said that he told Rudy Giuliani that the conspiracy theories about Joe Biden and his son, as well as Ukrainian interference, were not true and had been debunked.

In a meeting with Giuliani at the Trump Hotel here in Washington, Volker told Giuliani that he'd known Joe Biden for a long time, that he would not abuse his office like, that Biden was a man of integrity.

That was right before that July 25 call between President Trump and President Zelensky, Wolf, in which President Trump asked for a favor.

[18:05:01]

BLITZER: For a favor, though. That's correct.

Alex, thank you very much for that report.

Let's talk more about why this sudden change in crucial testimony matters.

Our congressional correspondent, Sunlen Serfaty, is joining us from Capitol Hill.

Sunlen, the ambassador's testimony was amended just yesterday. How significant is this last-minute change for the Democrats?

SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's very significant, Wolf, especially for the Democrats.

The fact that you have this three-page addendum that was just delivered up here on Capitol Hill by Sondland's attorney yesterday, it is certainly a huge acknowledgement. Sondland originally stated in his testimony that he was not aware of essentially a quid pro quo, but now this revision making it clear that he does remember that conversation, he says, that happened on September 1 between him and a top aide to the Ukrainian president, in which he did discuss that security aid and investigations were indeed linked.

Now, this will, in essence, no doubt fuel the House Democrats' impeachment push, the piling up of evidence that they have slowly been doing over the last days and weeks and months up here on Capitol Hill to outline a quid pro quo.

And even before this, many Democrats wanted to see Gordon Sondland back on Capitol Hill to testify in the public portion of their impeachment inquiry. Most notably, this likely will fuel that push even more to have him come back up and clarify his statement.

Now, Republicans too -- this is certainly significant -- certainly Sondland's addendum, his revision to his testimony corroborates what the committees have heard from many other witnesses outlining the quid pro quo. It makes it a lot harder for them, Wolf, the Republicans, to continue to defend the president -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Good point, Sunlen. Thank you very much, Sunlen Serfaty reporting.

The White House has a very different interpretation of these new witness transcripts, claiming they show the impeachment probe is a sham.

Let's go to our chief White House correspondent, Jim Acosta.

Jim, the Trump team is trying to discredit the investigation now on multiple fronts.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf.

White House officials are brushing off Gordon Sondland's testimony, saying that it's all part of this process that they deem to be a sham. But the president did stay away from the cameras today with more damaging testimony surfacing in the impeachment inquiry.

But the president's allies are hard at work trying to convince the public that it's time to reveal the identity of the whistle-blower who prompted this probe. The president may be worried about a different witness who's been called to testify. And that's his own acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ACOSTA (voice-over): Tonight, President Trump has much more to worry about than just the newly released transcripts of administration officials describing a quid pro quo with Ukraine.

There are more top aides who may be descending on Capitol Hill to testify, from former National Security Adviser John Bolton to Jennifer Williams, a senior adviser to Vice President Mike Pence, to acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, who's now been called to appear.

Democrats say in their letter to Mulvaney they believe he has substantial firsthand knowledge of what happened. The big lingering question is whether any of the officials will defy White House stonewalling and show up.

RASKIN: It doesn't improve the president's legal standing to keep several people from testifying. It just digs a different hole in terms of obstruction of justice. ACOSTA: Sources say it was Bolton who described Mulvaney and European

Union Ambassador Gordon Sondland as cooking up a -- quote -- "drug deal," linking Ukraine military aid to investigating the president's domestic rivals.

Last month, Mulvaney essentially conceded to reporters it was a quid pro quo.

MICK MULVANEY, ACTING WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: I have news for everybody. Get over it. There's going to be political influence in foreign policy.

ACOSTA: The White House issued a statement on the latest released transcripts, saying: "Both transcripts released today show there is even less evidence for this illegitimate impeachment sham than previously thought."

Still, the president is fixated on the whistle-blower, hinting damaging information is about to surface about the mysterious government official.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You haven't heard about the whistle-blower after that, have you? Because the whistle-blower said lots of things that weren't so good. Folks, you're going to find out.

ACOSTA: The president's defenders are going further, with GOP Senator Rand Paul demanding that the media reveal the whistle-blower's identity.

SEN. RAND PAUL (R-KY): I say tonight to the media, do your job and print his name!

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

ACOSTA: While Senator Mitt Romney is one of the lone Republicans saying that's going too far.

SEN. MITT ROMNEY (R-UT): My view is that whistle-blowers, particularly those that are blowing whistles on action within the government, should be allowed to remain confidential. So going after the whistle-blower, I think, is misdirected.

ACOSTA: Trump supporters showed up at a rally in Kentucky wearing "Read the Transcript" T-shirts.

It was during that call last July when the president said to the leader of Ukraine, "I would like you to do us a favor, though."

But it should be noted the document released by the White House was a memorandum of a telephone conversation, not a verbatim transcript of a discussion.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is doubtful the case against the president will result in Mr. Trump's removal from office. SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): I will say I'm pretty sure how it's likely to end. If it were today, I don't think there's any question it would not lead to a removal.

[18:10:08]

ACOSTA: Which may explain why the president keeps on joking he may never give up the job.

TRUMP: What they don't know is that, when we hang it up in five years, or nine years, or 13 years, or maybe 17 years, or maybe, if I still have this strength, 21 years.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ACOSTA: And it sounds like the White House will not allow Mick Mulvaney to testify in the impeachment inquiry.

A White House spokesman said just a short while ago in a statement -- we can put this up on screen -- "Past Democratic and Republican administrations would not be inclined to permit senior advisers to the president to participate in such a ridiculous, partisan and illegitimate proceeding, and neither is this one."

Wolf, one other final thing we should note about Gordon Sondland. The president has written off the testimony of other administration officials, describing them as never-Trumpers. He cannot say that about Gordon Sondland -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Sondland gave his inaugural committee a million dollars, a political appointee, a very wealthy guy from Oregon.

ACOSTA: That's right.

BLITZER: Thanks very much for that.

Joining us now, Democratic Congressman Gerry Connolly. He's on the Oversight and Foreign Affairs committees that heard testimony from Ambassador Sondland.

Congressman, thanks so much for joining us.

REP. GERRY CONNOLLY (D-VA): My pleasure.

BLITZER: And, as you know, the updated testimony released today, Ambassador Sondland admits to telling the Ukrainians that military aid was in fact condition on a public commitment to investigate -- to investigations benefiting President Trump.

So what's your reaction?

CONNOLLY: Well, this is -- this is a very grave development for both Ambassador Sondland and, frankly, for President Trump and for his Republican defenders, because all of their defense hinged on, there was no quid pro quo. Let's repeat that. There was no quid pro quo.

And now we have Ambassador Sondland realizing that his testimony under oath could be construed as false, and quickly having to correct it, especially after seeing other transcripts of other testimony that clearly contradicted his own.

And so now we have the full Mulvaney. There was a quid pro quo. So what? Get over it.

And -- but the entire defense of President Trump by his Republican acolytes in Congress that there was no quid pro quo has now collapsed.

BLITZER: The White House is trying to undercut Sondland's admission by pointing out that Sondland doesn't know who suspended the military aid or why.

Isn't that still a gap in your understanding?

CONNOLLY: Well, I think it's pretty clear that OMB gave a directive to suspend the aid.

Clearly, Ambassador Sondland knew something, because he was empowered to go to Kiev and, in fact, dangle the military aid's resumption in return for that favor. And that favor was, get us political dirt on the president's prospective political opponent.

BLITZER: Well, let me press you on that, Congressman.

Have any witnesses been able to tell you definitively why military aid to Ukraine was put on hold?

CONNOLLY: I think -- I think the connection is pretty clear, Wolf.

Many of them clearly assumed that was the case. And I think, in the transcript, the presidential transcript -- you can read it, I can read it -- I think it's pretty clear that there was an explicit extortion, an explicit connection between, you want those Javelins, you want that military aid resumed, I have a favor to ask, though.

And that clearly connected the two.

BLITZER: Ambassador Sondland testified that he assumed it was illegal for Rudy Giuliani to push Ukraine to investigate the Bidens.

How do you explain the inaction of so many people who were obviously fully aware of Giuliani's meddling?

CONNOLLY: I have to be honest. The two rarest elements in Washington, D.C., are gratitude and fortitude.

In fact, I have been impressed with the fortitude of a number of State Department officials and NSC officials willing to come forward, but all too few. People turned the other way. People pretended they didn't know. People were in denial. Or people were enablers.

We see the same kind of behavior, frankly, on the Republican side of Congress. And, as a result, our country is being hurt.

So I'm sadly not surprised, but I am gratified that a handful of courageous patriots have come forward to tell the truth.

[18:15:05]

BLITZER: You say Secretary of State Pompeo is a coward and, in your words, has disqualified himself from continuing to serve as secretary of state. Explain why you say that.

CONNOLLY: So, the secretary of state is not only the chief foreign policy-maker, along with the president of the United States government, but he or she also runs a department.

You're an agency head. And that department is still with Foreign Service officers, who dedicate their lives to this country, putting themselves at risk.

And for him not to defend those Foreign Service officers and that department, when they are being smeared and slandered, and he knows it, is dereliction of duty, and I think a disqualifier for continuation in office.

Shame on him. He put honor on the back burner out of loyalty to President Trump, at the expense of an honorable Foreign Service officer, Ambassador Yovanovitch, in Ukraine.

BLITZER: Congressman Gerry Connolly, thanks so much for joining us.

CONNOLLY: My pleasure, Wolf. Thank you.

BLITZER: Just ahead, we will get more reaction to Ambassador Sondland's new admission of a quid pro quo.

How might it impact a Senate impeachment trial?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:21:10]

BLITZER: We're back with breaking news on a dramatic change in impeachment testimony.

Ambassador Gordon Sondland now admits telling Ukraine that U.S. aid was tied to the country announcing an investigation of Joe Biden. The diplomat and Trump ally confirming a quid pro quo he hadn't acknowledged before.

Joining us now, Senator Chris Coons, a Democrat and a member of both the Judiciary and Foreign Relations committees.

Senator, thanks so much for joining us.

Does this amount to extortion of Ukraine for the president's political agenda?

SEN. CHRIS COONS (D), DELAWARE: Well, Wolf, this is quite a striking development.

This is not some anonymous whistle-blower. This cannot be argued to be some action by a deep state opponent of President Trump. Gordon Sondland, the ambassador to the E.U., was a major Republican donor, a supporter of President Trump, who was handpicked by President Trump and senior leaders in his administration to serve as the ambassador to the E.U. from the United States.

So, his reversal of testimony today, now clarifying that he did, in fact, directly communicate a quid pro quo on the resumption of badly needed military aid to Ukraine, conditioned on some public statement about an anti-corruption effort into looking at the Bidens, something that's got no foundation, is, I think, a very significant development.

BLITZER: Ambassador Sondland's testimony makes it clear that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was aware of Rudy Giuliani's meddling in all issues involving Ukraine.

Do you understand why he and others in the administration didn't intervene?

COONS: I don't.

Frankly, one of the things that really concerns me here, Wolf, is the ways in which career Foreign Service officers were hung out to dry, were left without active support and were made to stand aside or were recalled at the expense of this outsourced private foreign policy effort by Rudy Giuliani, who I will remind you is the president's personal lawyer, not someone with any official role in our foreign policy.

BLITZER: And the fact that he had no security clearances, is that something the Senate Foreign Relations Committee is even looking into?

COONS: We should be. There's a lot of things we should be looking into, both on Judiciary and on Foreign Relations, about this matter.

But, frankly, Wolf, I think the only time we're likely to be taking up and considering the matters that are currently in front of the House is if there are articles of impeachment voted. That will then refer the matter to the Senate, where we will sit as if a jury and review whatever those articles of impeachment have in them, and ultimately render a verdict.

BLITZER: Many Trump administration officials are now stonewalling the House impeachment inquiry, refusing to testify.

Do you think the House has enough evidence already to draft articles of impeachment, or are there still unanswered questions?

COONS: Well, Wolf, I certainly haven't read all of the transcripts that are publicly available.

But just from what I'm seeing from news reports and from what I have had access to, there's a fairly significant amount of evidence that's already been compiled in a fairly short amount of time. I will tell you, compared to comparable inquiries against then

President Nixon or then President Clinton, this has moved fairly quickly.

BLITZER: Based on what you have seen at this point, Senator, is there -- if there's an impeachment trial in the Senate, would you vote to convict and remove the president from office?

COONS: Well, if I think it's very premature for me to make any such judgment.

I think it's important that those of us in the Senate treat this with a seriousness that an historic development like an impeachment proceeding requires.

And I am, under my constitutional obligations here, supposed to look at the charges and the evidence in front of me, not based on press reports. So, without an article of impeachment and the relevant information in front of me, I'm not going to say how I would or wouldn't rule.

[18:25:13]

And it's my hope that many of my colleagues will weigh this evidence carefully and closely and with the seriousness that it warrants.

BLITZER: Senator Coons, thanks so much for joining us.

COONS: Thank you, Wolf.

BLITZER: There's more on the breaking news coming up next.

A key U.S. diplomat amends his testimony in the impeachment inquiry and admits there was a quid pro quo with Ukraine. Will that protect him from potential perjury charges?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:30:00]

BLITZER: Breaking news, we're getting the first results on this election election. Key races in three states are testing President Trump's support and impeachment politics just ahead of the vote in 2020.

Our Chief National Correspondent and "Inside Politics" Anchor, John King is joining us at the Magic Wall.

John, I understand we have some early results coming in from Kentucky.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We do, Wolf. Kentucky and Mississippi, the two big governor's races we're watching tonight to test the Republican's turnout in what are traditionally red states.

You look at Kentucky here, I want to make clear voters over here, the western part of state, central time zone, polls are still open until the top of the hour. So we encourage those people to vote. Whoever you're going to vote for, get out and vote.

We wouldn't talk much about what we know so far, except to say it's a very competitive race. So we have no reluctance talking about it when we look at it at the moment. Matt Bevin is the Republican governor. He is seeking a new term. President Trump was down for the big rally last night. He's trailing right now in the early returns, Andy Beshear, the Democratic state attorney general, also the son of a former Democratic governor, so a well-known name in the state.

This is a competitive race throughout and the very early result, 2 percent just in, show that you have a very competitive race.

So what are we looking for? Both in the case of Governor Bevin and Republican turnout or Mr. Beshear and Democratic performances, and then we carry over maybe a lesson into 2020. If you look at the urban areas, we have nothing in from Louisville yet, Jefferson County, the biggest part of the state right there. But if you look at the suburbs around it, right, we've watched this in the 2018 elections, President Trump has hurt his party in the suburbs. So does he hurt Matt Bevin tonight in suburbs across Kentucky?

One way to look at this, Wolf, not much you can tell from this early map, especially when the percentage is so low. If we go back in time and you see Governor Bevin ran very strong up here, ran very strong outside, think outside. Think of the blue -- think outside that line there, and you see the suburbs around Frankfort , around Lexington. So when we get the results tonight, we'll want to come back and look at this when we come back to tonight's map, do those lines hold? Does that stay blue but out here stays red? These are blue early on. If they stay blue, you might see some Republican struggles in the suburbs. Very early now, don't draw any conclusions.

That's one of the things we'll watch for, number one, to see if Governor Bevin has a suburban problem, like President Trump did in 2018, or whether he defies that. And then it's hard to say whether there will be clues and lessons about 2020 here. But that's one of the things we'll be studying as we go through Kentucky and then later on tonight in Mississippi.

BLITZER: And we'll be watching these races throughout the night and updating our viewers. John King, thanks so much for that.

Right now, back to the breaking news, from newly revealed testimony in the impeachment investigation, a key diplomat and Trump ally changing his sworn statement to Congress and now admitting to a Ukraine quid pro quo.

Let's bring in our experts to break down what we've learned from these transcripts.

And, Gloria, in this updated, revised statement, Sondland writes, I now do recall a conversation on September 1st with one of Ukrainian President Zelensky's top aides. Sondland says this, I said that resumption of U.S. aid would not likely not occur until Ukraine provided the public anti-corruption statement that we had been discussing for many weeks. So how significant is all of this? GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, it's quite significant because this is somebody who is in direct contact with the Ukrainians and also who is in direct contact with the president of the United States.

And throughout this process, there are lots of people, including Sondland, who said, you know, we were told to look into Burisma but we didn't know that Burisma equaled Biden. Eventually, he came to understand, of course, that it did, and a lot earlier than we thought, because on September 1, he had that discussion with a top adviser to Zelensky and told him that. And so I think that now we know this is somebody who was involved in this from all -- you know, the entire way.

And what was interesting in his testimony was that he said, at a certain point, the timeline kept getting more insidious as the timeline went on. And back in July, it was just about corruption. So you can see the progression here from someone who believed it was just about getting to the bottom of corruption in Ukraine and a general statement would be fine to somebody who came to believe, of course, that it was something much more political.

BLITZER: Jeffrey, he submitted this revised statement to his sworn testimony only yesterday. What do you make of that?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: Well, I think the implicit question is that is this a defense against perjury. And as a technical legal matter, an intentional false statement is a crime regardless if you correct it.

However, no prosecutor is going to bring a case where a witness comes forward voluntarily and says, you know, I remembered something after all. I just think, as a practical matter, there is no way Sondland is going to be charged for making a false statement originally, even if it could be established that he lied at first.

[18:35:10]

But I think, you know, he is in the clear.

BLITZER: Yes. I'm sure his lawyers told him, you better revise the statement before it's too late.

David Swerdlick, Sondland testified, and this is very specific, that he assumed it was illegal for Rudy Giuliani to push Ukraine to investigate the Bidens, but he's the one who actually delivered that message to the Ukrainians. That doesn't necessarily add up.

DAVID SWERDLICK, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: No, it doesn't add up certainly from the point of view if you're thinking all along, like, well, I'm not a lawyer, maybe this is illegal, but I don't really want to know for sure if it's illegal because I want to plow ahead with whatever the game plan is.

Then you match that up with the fact, okay, Ambassador Taylor testified on September 1st that his understanding was that Ambassador Sondland did know what was going on. And then on September 9th, Ambassador Sondland sent that text where he said POTUS really wants the deliverable, not sort of wants, really wants it.

So then the question is, in that intervening timeframe, was he ever thinking if this might be illegal to be involved in any part of this, why would you consider to continue to go ahead with your role in it?

BLITZER: It's interesting, Kylie, because Sondland also testified that the State Department and the secretary of state, Mike Pompeo were aware of Rudy Giuliani's actions when it came to Ukraine but were boxed in, they were boxed in, and he says, because of Giuliani's special relationship with President Trump.

KYLIE ATWOOD, CNN NATIONAL SECURTY REPORTER: Yes. So at one point, Ambassador Sondland describes a conversation that he had with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. They're discussing Giuliani in broad terms, he said. And at that point, Secretary of State Pompeo rolls his eyes and says, this is something essentially that we just have to deal with, we have to live with it, we have to involve Giuliani because President Trump had told Sondland, had told Volker that they need to deal with Giuliani. So, as you said, they were kind of dealing with him because they didn't think that they had any other option.

But the key here is that, as we've noted, the requests, the pressure from Giuliani grew more and more insidious. And that is from this testimony from Sondland himself, who said, initially, it was just about corruption in Ukraine and then it became pushing for this investigation into Biden and 2016. And even at that point, the secretary of state and those who were in charge and those who could have said something to President Trump, we have no evidence that they tried to put up any guardrails between Giuliani and the formal U.S. policy.

BORGER: And don't forget, it also involved the trashing of an American diplomat who was rushed home because they didn't like her there because she wasn't with the program.

ATWOOD: Right.

BLITZER: It's interesting, Jeffrey, because Ambassador Sondland, a major political donor to the inauguration, gave $1 million, got this plum assignment, ambassador to the European Union, pretty damning testimony, revised statement that was released today. Is it going to make much of a difference from your perspective?

TOOBIN: Well, I mean, the thing about this story is that there's only one story. There's no ambiguous evidence in this story. Everything that has come forward points in the same direction, that the president decreed that Rudy Giuliani was effectively in charge of this policy and the policy was, Ukraine doesn't get the money until and unless they agree to investigate Joe Biden's son and the 2016 election.

Now, you can pretend that's not the evidence, and if you're loyal to the president, as many Republicans are, you can invent arguments that either it didn't happen or it's not serious enough for impeachment. But in terms of the facts, I just don't think there's any ambiguity here about what happened.

BORGER: Yes. I think that Republicans are doing exactly what Jeffrey said, which is they are going to say, well, okay, maybe there was a quid pro quo and it may have been inappropriate but certainly not impeachable. And that's the argument you're going to hear more and more because the facts are the facts. And we have Gordon Sondland talking about it. We have other diplomats talking about. It can't be that they're all wrong. They're not.

And so what do you do? You say, well, okay, inappropriate but not impeachable.

BLITZER: And I'm sure federal investigators are looking into Rudy Giuliani because of potential financial deals that he had with various Ukrainians at the same time he was engaged in this so-called shadow diplomacy on behalf of the president.

Everybody stick around, there's more news we're following.

A woman who accuses President Trump of sexual assault now says she has new evidence to back up her claim.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:40:00]

BLITZER: There are new questions tonight about the potential legal danger for Rudy Giuliani. Newly disclosed testimony shows a key diplomat assumed Giuliani's shadow campaign in Ukraine was illegal. And now, an indicted associate of Giuliani's is in serious talks about cooperating with impeachment investigators.

[18:45:02]

Let's bring our crime and justice reporter Shimon Prokupecz.

Shimon, this Giuliani associate could be the next major player to have a significant role in all this.

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: He certainly could be. This person, they've changed attorneys. He has a new attorney.

Remember, when members of Congress came to him and said, we want information about your relationship with Rudy Giuliani and what you guys were doing, they weren't going to comply. They sent a letter, John Dowd was representing them at the time, you may remember him. He at one point represented the president during the Mueller investigation.

They weren't going to comply. Something has changed, clearly. And now they're saying we are going to give you documents, his attorney. So, it's going to be interesting, because the key thing -- what information is he going to turn over to members of Congress specifically as it relates to this entire Ukraine situation with Rudy Giuliani.

BLITZER: We're talking about Lev Parnas who was charged, was indicted recently?

PROKUPECZ: That's right, recently indicted. There's a big investigation by the Southern District of New York. And I think it truly centers around the removal of the Ukrainian ambassador --

BLITZER: The U.S. ambassador to Ukraine.

PROKUPECZ: The U.S. ambassador to the Ukraine. That is a big component of that investigation. They are in the middle of that investigation. We'll see. We'll see what information they provide to members of Congress.

And the other thing I wonder, is this some kind of signal that perhaps they're trying to send to prosecutors in New York that maybe somewhere down the line, they would be willing to cooperate?

BLITZER: Another story I know you were watching today, the long time Trump associate Roger Stone's trial is just beginning here in D.C.

PROKUPECZ: It's just beginning, opening statements tomorrow. He had to go home early today, Roger Stone, he wasn't feeling well, the judge let him go home and they continued jury selection. Tomorrow, we'll get opening statements and then perhaps we even see one of the first witnesses in that -- in this case.

We don't know who that is. But there are a lot of familiar faces that will be there.

BLITZER: He's got a decades relationship there with the president. We'll watch that very slowly.

Shimon, thank you very much for that.

Just ahead, new cellphone records are released in a former "Apprentice" contestant's court battle with Trump. Does the information back up her allegations of sexual assault?

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[18:51:50]

BLITZER: We have breaking news on the horrific attack on an American family in Mexico. New video just in to CNN shows the helicopter arriving to evacuate survivors and take them for treatment in the United States. Nine women and children were killed in the ambush near the U.S. border.

CNN Correspondent, Matt Rivers is in Mexico City for us.

Matt, what more do we know about this attack on members of a Mormon community?

MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, you know, this is an ongoing investigation, Wolf, but what I can tell you is that this has shocked Mexico. There have been almost 30,000 murders this year alone so far and yet this massacre has just shocked people here in Mexico. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

LEAH STADDON, COUSIN OF KILLED AMERICAN: I think a lot of us are just speechless. It's horrific.

RIVERS (voice-over): Family members in shock after a horrendous attack by suspected criminal groups left nine people dead, including three women and four small children and two babies. It happened Monday while they were traveling in a caravan through northern Mexico just south of the border headed to pick up family for an upcoming wedding.

STADDON: I just can't believe that this actually happened to our family. It just seems like a bad dream.

RIVERS: Family members tell CNN the group was driving between the Mexican states of Sonora and Chihuahua in a caravan for safety reasons when they were attacked by an armed group which sprayed the car with bullets and set at least one on fire.

Mexican government officials say it's unclear whether the attack was targeted or a case of mistaken identity, with the shooters mistaken the families as rival groups.

Kendra Lee Miller is the bride at that upcoming wedding. She tells CNN that her Sister in law Rhonita Miller is among the victims.

KENDRA LEE MILLER, SISTER-IN-LAW KILLED: Rhonita was one of the most vibrant, happy souls that I've ever met. She was -- just had so much spark and life in her.

RIVERS: Kendra says Rhonita was driving one of the vehicles with four of her seven children to Tucson, Arizona, to go shopping for the wedding. Forty-three-year-old Donna Langford and her two children were in another vehicle and 29-year-old Christina Johnson and her 7- month-old son were in a third vehicle. Seven children overall were injured in the attack and are now hospitalized.

KENNETH MILLER, SR., GRANDCHILDREN AND DAUGHTER-IN-LAW KILLED: None of my grandchildren made it out. They burnt to a crisp and my daughter-in-law, and they're about as innocent as they come and I'm not saying it because she's gone, but she was a good mother to those children and they're innocent as the day is long.

RIVERS: The victims are all members of a Mormon community in northern Mexico, not affiliated with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

RIVERS: Now, President Trump has said that he has offered U.S. military assistance here, that now is the time for Mexico to wage a war against the drug cartels, but Mexico's president said thanks for the offer, Wolf, but this is Mexico's responsibility to deal with this.

BLITZER: A horrendous, horrendous story. Matt Rivers reporting from Mexico, thank you very much.

Just ahead, new evidence in the legal battle between President Trump and the former "Apprentice" contestant who accuses him of sexual assault.

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[18:59:31]

BLITZER: We're learning about new evidence in the legal battle involving the president and the woman who accuses him of sexual assault. Former "Apprentice" contestant Summer Zervos claims newly public cell phone records corroborate her assault allegations. The phone records are set to show that Mr. Trump spoke with Zervos multiple times in late 2007, early 2008, around the time of the alleged attack.

The records were disclosed as part of Zervos' defamation lawsuit against the president filed after he called her a liar. Mr. Trump has repeatedly denied assaulting Zervos.

To our viewers, thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.