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Third Highest Ranking State Department Official Testifying Now; Sondland Changes Testimony, Confirms Quid Pro Quo; Suburban Revolt Delivers Democrats Big Wins; DNC Chair Tom Perez Discusses State Elections, Impact on 2020; Schiff Announces 1st Open Hearings in Impeachment Next Week. Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired November 6, 2019 - 11:00   ET



JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: O'Conner pulled the man up just before the train sped by.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: That's the first time I've seen that video. That's amazing.


HARLOW: -- will recognize him at this week's home-town hero. O'Conner has worked at Bay Area Rapid Transit for 24 years.

Love these stories.


HARLOW: A good way to end the day.

Thank you all for being with us. We'll see you back here tomorrow morning. I'm Poppy Harlow.


"AT THIS HOUR" with Kate Baldwin starts right now.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Kate Baldwin. Thanks so much for joining me.

After days of stonewalling from witnesses called to testify in the impeachment inquiry. Today, one witness did show up and it is a big one. The highest-ranking career diplomat in the foreign service, David Hale. He is behind closed-doors with investigators right now as we speak.

He is one of four witnesses who were scheduled to be testifying and facing interviews today. He is the only one who has shown up so far.

Hale's testimony comes on the heels of a huge reversal from another key figure in the impeachment probe, Gordon Sondland, the ambassador to the European Union. He filed a revision to his testimony just on Monday.

He testified on October 17th. He filed this revision addendum on Monday, to now say and describe that he does recall a quid pro quo.

In a conversation that he had with a top Ukraine official, Sondland delivered a message saying this, "Resumption of the U.S. aid would likely not occur until Ukraine provided the public anti-corruption statement that we have been discussing for many weeks," Sondland says.

Not only does his message put a hole through part of the president's defense here, that he said all along there's no quid pro quo, but the timing does as well.

So what is David Hale's testimony going to add to all of this now today?

Let's us go to Capitol Hill. CNN's Manu Raju is there.

Manu, let's start with today. What is expected from David Hale?

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, David Hale was mentioned in a separate testimony that came out part of this week as part of the concerns raised internally in the State Department after the ouster of the then-Ukrainian Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch.

Yovanovitch had been targeted by Rudy Giuliani and his associates and pressured by President Trump. Yovanovitch raised concerns about the efforts to push the Ukrainian's investigations that can help the president politically.

According to testimony that came out earlier this week from Mike McKinley, a top State Department official, he had reached out to a number of other top State Department official, including David Hale, who is testifying today, and saying he wanted the State Department to issue a strong statement of public support for Yovanovitch, but Hale is one person who did not respond.

We are also hearing separately, or according to a report in the Associate Press, that Hale will suggest that the secretary of state did not want to link -- was reluctant to issue that show of support because he believed it could have hurt the release of that stalled aid to Ukraine, that roughly $400 million in military aid.

And Pompeo, apparently, was concerned about a statement of support because of the way that Rudy Giuliani, the president's personal attorney, could react to all this.

So we'll get more details as members come out and they describe how he testified. He's been behind closed-doors for two hours now.

But a lot of the large focus today, in part, will be about what happened in the ouster that the Ukrainian ambassador and what he did about that -- Kate?

BOLDUAN: Yes. Last night, Manu, I had a Democratic House member on, who told me that Sondland's admission, this addendum, this revision about the quid pro quo, this meeting that he had in Warsaw, Poland, that he now remembers, his memory has been jogged, this House member told me he thought this was a smoking gun.

What are you hearing from folks on the Hill about this revision this morning?

RAJU: Democrats see this as yet another example of a witness testifying about a quid pro quo. Whether it's about linking the military aid to this public statement from Ukraine, demanding these investigations into the Bidens, into the 2016 campaign.

Also this push by the Zelensky administration of Ukraine, for this meeting at the White House, having this linked to the public statements of this investigation. They are saying this is another example of that.

Republicans, this morning, are contending that Sondland's revision to his testimony is only his, quote, "opinion." That coming from one congressman, Scott Perry, who told reporters that on his way into this closed-door deposition today.

But one witness was not happy with the testimony from Gordon Sondland. That's Fiona Hill, whose attorney put out a statement this morning saying that he had fabricated communications with Dr. Hill, none of which took over coffee.

He says that Sondland, what she told lawmakers, was a lack of coordination of Ukraine, was disastrous, and the circumstance on Yovanovitch's dismissal were shameful. That's in reference to what Sondland said about their interactions, which he said that she was not happy with the president.


So you are seeing several people raise concerns over what Sondland said.

BOLDUAN: Yes. First off, what you said is long. Second off, we have never had coffee.

Good to see you, Manu. Thank you so much.

A lot to come from David Hale. Very interested what comes out, if we learn any of the details.

Joining me right now, CNN political analyst, Margaret Talev, national security attorney, Brad Moss, who has worked with many whistleblower clients in the past, and former spokesman for the State and Defense Departments, John Kirby.

Guys thanks for being here.

Margaret, let us begin where Manu left off. What is the impact of Sondland's reversal in the grand scope of this investigation right now? MARGARET TALEV, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Kate, I think there's two

places to look for the answer to this. One is what is the impact in terms of how it shades the questions on the Hill, how Republicans feel about this, how high-ranking people at the pentagon and State Department feel.

The second question is a political question, which is, how do voters in swing states feel about this.

BOLDUAN: Good point.

TALEV: These sort of in the weeds development look huge inside Washington. We don't yet know whether this is something that is going to permeate either in terms of the president's space or in terms of that suburban vote, which we saw would be so important in the Virginia elections last night.

There are really two different questions. I think in the inside-the- Beltway part of this, Sondland's revision is a very big deal. Because it shows that if he had to weigh his own personal reputation against what would be the easier or better course for the president, he's choosing to protect his own reputation or to try to minimize damage as much as possible by correcting the record.

What's interesting about Mr. Hale's testimony is that he's going in there to answer questions about Ambassador Yovanovitch. But what we can see so far in many of these testimonies that go on eight, nine, 10 hours, a lot of other things come up.

BOLDUAN: Exactly.

TALEV: And so the potential to go in different directions beyond the sort of original core of the questioning is what may be the most valuable part of his appearance today.

BOLDUAN: John, I want to ask you about the impact of David Hale testimony in just a second.

But just on this point first, you heard from Manu, kind of what Republicans, some Republicans are saying this morning. I often find it takes a moment for it to marinate and set amongst Republicans on Capitol Hill, where they are going to decide how they react.

Regardless, on Sondland's revision, what you hear from Republicans is that this is only Sondland's opinion, and now they're saying that the only person to listen to is the testimony of Kurt Volker, because he said that he didn't know about quid pro quo.

Is this now coming down to who is more credible when it comes to current and former officials that are testifying? Is that a good place -- is that the safe place to be?

REAR ADM. JOHN KIRBY, CNN MILITARY & DIPLOMATIC ANALYST: I think it's really who is more credible to the narrative you are trying to propagate. That's the more politically aligned, partisan aligned than it is based on facts. Look, take Volker and Sondland out of the equation hypothetically,

Kate, look at the body of evidence already presented under oath to Congress, and the whistleblower, and it all aligns, everything aligns.

I would dare say, being Volker's texts, whatever Volker might have said yesterday, look at his texts and the fact that he helped edit and helped compose what was supposed to be the public statement that Zelensky was going to give about opening up investigations into Burisma. All of that resides on one side of this, and it's all factual and all laid out there.

So regardless of what Volker said, I think you have to look at the body of everyday objectively. Take 10 steps back. You can pretty well see, regardless of what Sondland said or didn't say, there was a quid pro quo.

BOLDUAN: Volker also described in this hours-long testimony that he felt he had been cut out of a lot of decisions and processes as well. It all factors into all of this, let's be honest, at this moment.

Brad, with Sondland saying he delivered the message about a quid pro quo in September, do you think this makes it more or less necessary to hear from the whistleblower directly as Republicans continue to call for?

BRADLEY MOSS, ATTORNEY SPECIALIZING IN NATIONAL SECURITY ISSUES: Yes, as we get each piece of if you evidence and each piece of testimony from individuals who had direct first-hand information, first-hand knowledge of the various components of how this transpired, the relevance of what the whistleblower could actually provide in any testimony becomes less and less material and less and less relevant.

The only reason that certain lawmakers, certain individuals in Congress and in the White House are demanding this person not only testify but do so publicly is they want to make the story about the whistleblower. They want to throw dirt on this, throw mud on it, and make this about the bias perceived, real or not, of the individual who raised the alarm.

That is the disgusting part. That's what's offensive about this. The whistleblower, whoever he or she is -- I will not confirm or deny the name --



MOSS: -- this person did what is required under the law, what is done under Democratic and Republican administrations under existing federal law. Their anonymity, so long as they want to remain anonymous, should be protected. They are not the story.

BOLDUAN: Objectively, no matter where you land on this, if you look at the facts, this is far beyond the whistleblower complaints on this point. There are multiple current and former officials speaking on the record with their names on the record about the elements of the whistleblower complaint.

Margaret, Sondland says he doesn't know where this came from. This is how he puts it in this addendum when it comes to the quid pro quo. He writes, "I do not know and still do not know, when, by, or by whom the aid was suspended."

Does this leave the president wiggle room? Because the White House is definitely clamping on that?

TALEV: Well, you know, wiggle room for what? Ultimately, this is a political calculation, both by the Democrats how to proceed, and by the Republicans in the Senate, about how to respond, assuming against where everybody thinks that it's going.

Sondland, so far, is the closest person in terms of the direct conversations with the president.

But when you look at sort of the picture, writ large, we're still fundamentally dealing with the same question, which is, do the Americans -- does the American public believe that any of this, even if it was the worst-case scenario that people are painting, is a reason to remove a president within a year of an election? And are Democrats committed to doing it anyway? And if so, how do the Republicans respond?

I think the details matter in terms of shaping public opinion. But I don't think there's this same standard of proof you would see if this is a case moving through the court.


TALEV: It's all a question of how it affects political perceptions.

BOLDUAN: And if it comes from voters on up, or if it comes from members on down, how they kind of test the winds on this, to be quite honest.

John, really quickly, talk to me about David Hale. How important? Who is he? How important is his testimony today?

KIRBY: A long-serving career foreign officer. He's the undersecretary for political affairs, which is a very important position at the State Department. He sort of is the guy that sort of connects policy with the politics, not just here in this country, but the politics of countries that we are working with overseas. So a very important job.

As Margaret said, they will key in on trying to ask him about Yovanovitch's departure and all that went into that. But I do think he'll also get asked questions about Rudy Giuliani's role.

And I think what I'm looking for, what I'm hoping to hear as a result of his testimony today is, you know, the degree to which he was running on a shadow foreign policy and how much did he and Secretary Pompeo know about it? How much did they may be perhaps enable it, empower it, or simply try to bound it? I think that's really the important thing is here, is how can a

private citizen, a representative of the president, have this much influence over our bilateral relations with another country? I suspect Mr. Hale will have interesting insights on that.

BOLDUAN: And something you have talked about related to this, John, quite a bit. We'll have much more time to talk about it later, is the impact all of this has in real time on foreign service officers, on the employees of the State Department and what that means there now.

KIRBY: Absolutely.

BOLDUAN: Thank you so much, John.

Margaret, Brad, thank you very much.

MOSS: Thanks for having me.

BOLDUAN: Coming up for us, Democrats claim victories in Kentucky and Virginia, flipping the red seats to blue. Is this a sign of what is to come in 2020? Of course, that is the question. But really, what are the lessons for Republicans, what are the lessons from Democrats from last night's results?


Plus, "It's an elitist attitude." Joe Biden doubling down this morning on a new line of attack against Elizabeth Warren, sharpening an attack. Why now? The Biden campaign is here, coming up.



BOLDUAN: Election Day has come and gone and there's a lot to talk about today. While the official results in Kentucky are not yet official, Democrat Andy Beshear has declared victory over Republican incumbent, Matt Bevin, in the race for governor there. Bevin has not conceded the race.

In Virginia, Democrats made history, flipping both the State House and State Senate, making it the first time in 25 years that Democrats have control of the legislature and the governor's mansion at the same time.

In Mississippi, a different story. Republicans holding onto the governorship there, with Lieutenant Governor Tate Reeves defeating the Democratic Attorney General Jim Hood.

President Trump has been all over these election results, honestly, in the run-up to the day and in the aftermath. Not surprisingly, he's taken credit for the Mississippi win while now distancing himself from the loss in Kentucky.

But that is definitely not the message Matt Bevin was pushing in Kentucky last night. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Why talk about President Trump so much?

MATT BEVIN, (R), KENTUCKY GOVERNOR: I don't know -- do you watch the news?

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Last night, I saw a lot of your ads.

BEVIN: Awesome. Do you watch the news other than political ads? Have you heard anything about President Trump anywhere in, I don't know, the last two, three, four years?

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: And you are running for governor?

BEVIN: I am. But here's the irony. The fact that you ask why this is being nationalized and why people are talking about President Trump would indicate to me you really have sort of maybe come out from under a rock, because, here in America, that's pretty topical every night.



BOLDUAN: Every night.

Joining me right now is CNN senior political writer and analyst, Harry Enten.

Harry, can you break -- let's talk about Kentucky.


BOLDUAN: That's where the big news has been. CNN hasn't called the race. Bevin has not conceded. But where did Beshear pick up support?

ENTEN: Yes. I think this is rather key. If we look at the Kentucky results, you see them here, Beshear up.

But here's what's important. He, basically, did it in three areas. He did it in the major metropolitan areas of Louisville and Lexington. Key here, the Cincinnati suburbs, traditionally Republican. Beshear was able to win there.

And also, which is less of sort of a Trump area phenomenon, in coal country where, Trump has tended to do very, very well. In fact, what we see in there, in coal country, was Beshear was able to hold on to Democratic ancestral territory.

You are talking about Kentucky and sort of being, oh, President Trump popular there. Absolutely true. His standing there, approval rate, 55 percent, disapproval 41 percent. But the big, big problem for Matt Bevin was his own approval rating, 40 percent. Donald Trump was not able to take him over the top.

You mentioned Mississippi, we'll nod to it here. Not a surprising result, right? Tate Reeves, Republican, defeating Jim Hood, the Democrat. Big reason why, Donald Trump very, very popular there, 56 percent approval rating.

And finally, in Virginia, take a look here, House of Delegates results, State Senate results, both bodies flipped. Donald Trump extremely unpopular in the state of Virginia. That was the big reason why.

Sort of looking forward to 2020, look, if you go back to 2017, in the Virginia House, Democrats won that popular vote by nine points. In the U.S. House of Representatives, in 2018, they won there by nine points as well. This time around, Virginia House, Democrats won by nine.

What does that mean for the presidential race in 2020? We'll have to wait to see -- Kate?

BOLDUAN: Question mark, question mark, question mark. We'll have to wait and see.

Good to see you, Harry. Thank you for breaking that down.

ENTEN: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: I appreciate it.

For much more on this and what the message is from last night, joining me right now is the chairman of the Democratic National Committee, Tom Perez.

Mr. Chairman, thanks for coming in.


BOLDUAN: I will say, after hearing how loud you had to yell over crowds in Virginia last night, I am surprised you still had a voice.

What do the wins last night portend for next year?

PEREZ: We're a 50-state party. We have been competing everywhere. In 2017, Virginia taught us we can win, along with New Jersey. A month later, Alabama taught us we can win everywhere in 2018. We took that to scale.

Last night, again, another red-letter night in Virginia, winning suburbs like Prince William County, which is a bellwether suburb for America. That used to be an epicenter for intolerance under a guy named Corey Stewart. Now the Prince William County board flipped Democratic.

You look back in Kentucky -- and Harry's chart is really important. What it shows is Democrats are competing everywhere across the state.

If Andy hadn't been so effective in some of those coal counties, it wouldn't have been enough. If he hadn't been effective in those northern, those Cincinnati suburbs, Kenton County, Boone County, it wouldn't have been enough. He's competing everywhere. Democrats are doing that everywhere.

And I think that's really the key point. That's how we were able to win at scale in 2018. That's how we won at scale in 2019. And we haven't abated. We are a 50-state party.

The Democratic Governors Association was fantastic. The Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee, which works on the state races in Virginia, was fantastic. The party chairs in both those states were fantastic.

And then, most importantly, it's about candidate quality. Andy Beshear is an authentic politician who understands that it's time to work for people.

I mean, Matt, you showed the 40 percent approval rating. What that doesn't show, that's actually his high-water mark. He was in the high 20s and low 30s.

When you have good candidates, who are speaking to the values that command the respect of the majority of the American people, that's how we succeed. And that's how


PEREZ: And that's how Andy won in Virginia.

BOLDUAN: Let me ask you about -- let me ask you about Beshear and how he won. We saw in Kentucky last night that Andy Beshear, he did not run on a national message. He ran on kitchen-table issues. He was talking about Medicaid. He was talking about pension programs. Quite frankly, he was also talking about the temperament of the current governor, Matt Bevin.

This wasn't about Donald Trump for Andy Beshear. Is there a lesson there for Democrats running for president?

PEREZ: That's how we won in 2018 and how we won in 2017. You are absolutely right.

Andy's father, former governor, Steve Beshear, I had the privilege of working with him. He built one of the most effective health care exchanges in America. And under the guise of if it ain't broke, break it, that's what Matt Bevin proceeded to do.


Andy Bevin pointed out, I'm going to fix it and I'm going to make sure we fix the kitchen-table issues. And he showed that compassion is not a dirty word for Democrats. And that is also the same thing --


BOLDUAN: Does it also mean like a moderate message is something that Democrats in the presidency should be listening to? PEREZ: Well, I think the message of values -- and the message of the

Democratic Party, we believe that everyone should have access to quality affordable health care? That's what Andy Beshear is trying to do in Kentucky. That's what Democrats running for president are trying to do.

We believe the Second Amendment and common-sense gun violence reduction measures can co-exist. That's how we won if Virginia.

You may recall there was a special session a few months after the tragic shooting, and the Republican majority there gaveled it down after 90 minutes, because they're in the pocket of the NRA.

So we can -- these sorts of messages, the majority of the American people are on our side. And we're organizing everywhere and fielding great candidates that are going to amplify that message and fight for those values.

BOLDUAN: We'll see how that message continues on the trail, because it's still a year to go. But a year goes fast, as you well know.

PEREZ: Yes, it does.

BOLDUAN: Mr. Chairman, thank you for coming in. I appreciate your time.

PEREZ: Always a pleasure to be with you, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Thank you very much.

We have breaking news coming in. We need to get right back over to Capitol Hill. Manu Raju with more details on the new direction that this impeachment investigation is now headed -- Manu?

RAJU: Yes. Significant news. Adam Schiff, the House Intelligence Committee chairman, saying there will be public hearings in the impeachment inquiry next week, a new phase of this impeachment investigation after weeks of closed-door depositions.

Schiff just announcing there will be three witnesses who will come in an open setting next week after they have testified privately before.

These individuals, there will be two next Wednesday, November 13th. They'll be Bill Taylor, the top diplomat in Ukraine, the current U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, as well as George Kent, who is a current State Department official. Those two individuals both will testify on Wednesday.

Then on Friday, the ousted former Ukrainian Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch. She was, of course, recalled by President Trump on that post, U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, under pressure from the president, as well as Rudy Giuliani and his associates targeting these individuals.

This was the first time we will hear what these individuals were saying behind closed-doors. We have already gotten a sense of what they have said behind closed-doors from reporting, from some of the transcripts that have been released, from some of the opening statements that have been released.

Bill Taylor will be significant. Him, being among the first two witnesses on that initial day of testimony.

Taylor, of course, that testified that he had been told that the president had withheld vital aid to Ukraine in exchange for announcing, that public announcement of investigations that could help the president politically, something he was very concerned about.

And also said that there was a push to create -- to bolster the alliance between the U.S. and Ukraine, have a meeting with the new Ukrainian administration, with the president, also that was put on ice, made this push for investigations.

You will probably hear a theme throughout about concerns that Rudy Giuliani played, the role he played as carrying out Ukraine policy and pushing for these investigations and --


RAJU: -- for essentially freezing these diplomatic efforts.

Yes, Kate.

BOLDUAN: I was just going to say -- not to diminish the release of the testimony transcripts, because more transparency is better for everyone. But it cannot be understated -- overstated how important moving to this public phase is for the public and also for Republicans. This has been the move they have been calling for over and over again.

RAJU: Yes. This is something that Schiff has made very clear that they would eventually do, have public hearings, and bring back some of these individuals who have testified.

And, yes, the Republicans have been asking for this to be in an open setting. Some have said what has come out is not the full picture. We will get the full picture.

We've already gotten the full picture, at least of the transcripts, such as Marie Yovanovitch's transcript has come out. We have yet to see Bill Taylor's full transcript yet to come out.

But we will hear from their own voice, the questions, what they say about what happened, their concerns that they raised, how they deal with some of the questioning from Republicans, who are trying to undercut the case if there was any quid pro quo.

It's also a sign that this investigation is rapidly moving towards that push and eventually of impeaching this president. Because after the public hearing phase, Kate, then we will see both potentially in the House Judiciary Committee for articles of impeachment after they consider, have their own hearings, then that can happen in the full House, a vote to impeach this president potentially by the end of the year.

Of course, that would be absolutely historic, the third time in history that would happen.


But Schiff indicating here, Kate, three public hearings next week with these key individuals who witnessed all of these events. And he says there will be more witnesses to come.