Return to Transcripts main page
Democrats Win in Kentucky, Virginia; Dems Achieve Wins in Off- Year Elections; U.S. Ambassador Links Ukraine Aid to Investigations; Trump Fans Wear 'Read the Transcript' T-shirts; Suspect Arrested in Murders of American Family Members in Mexico. Aired 12-1a ET
Aired November 6, 2019 - 00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): This is CNN breaking news.
JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Hello and welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm John Vause at the CNN Center in Atlanta and there is breaking news at the ballot box.
Democrats have scored two major wins on a day when voters across the United States went to the polls in state and local elections.
In the deep red state of Kentucky, Democrat Andy Beshear has declared victory in the race for the governor's bench. He beats Republican Matt Bevin by a razor thin margin. He addressed supporters just a short time ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOVERNOR-ELECT ANDY BESHEAR (D-KY): Tonight, voters in Kentucky sent a message loud and clear for everyone to hear. It's a message that says our elections don't have to be about Right versus Left. They are still about right versus wrong.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: For, now the incumbent, Matt Bevin is refusing to concede. U.S. president Donald Trump won the state by nearly 30 points back in 2016 and, on Monday, the president was campaigning in Lexington.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. MATT BEVIN (R-KY): This is a close, close race. We are not conceding this race by any stretch. And here's the thing, understand this, though. Understand this. We want the process to be followed and there is a process.
We know for a fact that there have been more than a few irregularities, they are very well corroborating that is all right. What they are exactly, how many, which ones and what effect if any they have will be determined according to law. (END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: The other big headline comes from Virginia. CNN protects Democrats will flip chambers of the state legislature, taking back control of the state house and Senate for the first time in 20 years.
And in Mississippi, CNN projects Republican Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves will win the governor's race over Democratic attorney general Jim Hood. Let's bring in CNN's Ryan Nobles live in Richmond, Virginia.
Ryan, it is not 2020 but it seems to be the next best thing right now. Those two results especially in Virginia and Kentucky, Democrats were cheering, Republicans, not so much.
RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You, know, John this empty ballroom I'm standing it actually reflects how big the win here was for Democrats in Virginia. This was a Democrat victory party. It was already over because the results came in so early today because the win was so convincing.
That is not something that a lot of people predicted going into this race tonight, there were a number of races that were thought to be highly competitive, particularly in spots where Republicans had controlled these seats in both the Senate and House for a significant period of time.
And they simply were just smoked by Democratic opponents. You, know I talked about Democrats and Republicans after the votes came in today here in Virginia. And almost every single one of them said that you had to attribute Donald Trump's influence over this race, that has been one of the big drivers of Democratic enthusiasm and it's the same to be said as to what we saw in Kentucky.
Matt Bevin, the governor there, in many ways a Donald Trump clone, somebody who has been very close next to the, president, really touted his relationship with President Trump as one of the main reasons the voters in Kentucky should reelect him.
And the voters there felt much differently, so it is very difficult to be a Republican tonight and find some sort of good news in these results, both in Virginia and Kentucky.
You know, John, these are only two states, of, course but they are two states that loom large heading into 2020. You have Virginia, which is a purple state turning blue; Kentucky, a state which is decidedly, red both of them pushing back in a big way against Donald Trump and his administration.
Not necessarily a good sign for the president heading into his reelection next year.
VAUSE: Speaking of finding good, news the president just did, he tweeted congratulations to the lieutenant governor who won his race there in Mississippi. He said that big rally on Friday night moved the numbers from a tie to a big win. Great reaction under pressure, Tate. So no word on what happened with the big rally he had on Lexington on
Monday and Kentucky and how it did not quite pan out the same way but the turnout here seems to be significant.
And the race in Kentucky and Virginia, they centered on the president but in very different ways, the way these candidates went about using the president's popularity or unpopularity.
NOBLES: Yes, I, mean here in Virginia for, instance President Trump never came to the state.
NOBLES: Now there's a little bit different than it was in Kentucky and Mississippi because you had big statewide races that made it a little bit easier for the use of resources for the president but they did send vice president Mike Pence to stump on behalf of Republican candidates here.
The president sent out a tweet but there was not really a part of the state or a specific race where they thought that President Trump would be able to aid the Republican ticket. So that gives you an indication of where the president stands in a state like Virginia, a state I should say, that President Trump has said in the past he thinks he can win in 2020, you, know and a Republican has not won here statewide since 2009 and there has not been a Republican that has won a presidential race here.
You have to go all the way back before Barack Obama for that to happen. And I think the same can be said for Kentucky and Mississippi. You know, President Trump himself put so much of an emphasis on his presence in the states and, to his credit, I think there is evidence that him coming in at the last minute has propelled certain candidates in certain states over the hump.
I covered the Florida midterms back in 2018, when he made a last-ditch effort there for Ron DeSantis who is now the governor of Florida and the governor himself attributes the president's help in that respect.
And there are areas where Donald Trump still very popular, Mississippi clearly one of them. We are seeing that tonight.
But the opposition to President Trump in other parts of the country only is starting to grow and you are seeing that opposition, almost a fevered opposition, the energy and enthusiasm here in Virginia in particular was just off the charts.
They called this an off-off election year in Virginia because it was only the state house races on the ballot and those were the biggest races. There were no federal elections contested here today. There were no statewide races. These were very hyperlocal races.
And the turnout was comparable to what you see in gubernatorial election years. The experts I talked to attribute that directly to President Trump.
VAUSE: He is a motivator for both sides, it seems. Ryan, thanks for being with us, we really appreciate the update. Thank you.
Loyola Law School professor Jessica Levinson is with us and from San Francisco, former public policy director for Mitt Romney, Lanhee Chen.
These are two good results for Democrats in Kentucky, as well as the Virginia.
So Jessica, how do you see the results?
You can go first, in terms of not just 2020 but the ongoing impeachment hearing as well.
JESSICA LEVINSON, LOYOLA UNIVERSITY LAW SCHOOL: I think this is a good night for Democrats and I don't know that it has that much to do with the impeachment inquiry. We talked about this and I have long suspected that voters did not go to the ballot box based on the impeachment inquiry.
But they do go to the ballot box on issues that may feel like may affect their daily lives, like gun control, criminal justice reform, environmental protections, the economy. This really was a night about riding in Donald Trump's coattails but it was Democrats riding his coattails to victory.
I don't think it's so much about what is happening in these House investigations, I think it's more about what's happening on voters' TV screens. This historic turnout shows President Trump, as you said, he's a motivator. He is energizing people on both sides of the aisle.
VAUSE: And, if you look at the turnout and where the Republicans crumbled, it was in the suburbs. They just did not turn up for the president. If Republicans are looking for lessons and not to spend, what will they take away from these results?
LANHEE CHEN, HOOVER INSTITUTION: Clearly, John, the challenges in the suburban and exurban areas, the areas just beyond the suburbs, have been a problem for Republicans. They were a problem in 2018 during the midterm elections, they were a problem in the Virginia legislative elections tonight as well as the governor's race in Kentucky.
I think there are some factors where Republicans will say there were specifics about some of tonight's races that maybe are not replica trends. For example Matt Bevin, the incumbent governor in Kentucky, who appears to have lost tonight. He was tremendously unpopular going into this election.
He was ranked by one organization as the least popular governor in America. So there are things that Republicans will say, look, big trends we have to think about. For example, this issue of the suburbs. But that will be moderated by the fact there were some specifics from tonight that will not be replicated in future elections.
VAUSE: You mentioned Kentucky's governor race. And Matt Bevin, the incumbent, he made this election a referendum almost it seemed on the president, as well as impeachment. Certainly if you look at the campaign ads that flooded the airwaves. Here is one of them.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
Matt's proudly pro-life, against sanctuary cities for illegal immigrants and against impeaching our president.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: Jessica, as Lanhee mentioned, this is a governor who is deeply unpopular. Trump is very popular in the state and carried it by 30 points in 2016 but that could not get the governor over the line.
Every other Republican candidate statewide appeared to be heading for a win. So maybe it's not a rejection of the Republican Party but Bevin and Donald Trump or just Bevin alone?
LEVINSON: It may just be Bevin alone. On the down ballot races in Kentucky, the Republicans are doing OK. Many of whom aligned themselves with the president, so I don't necessarily think this is viewed as a referendum on President Trump, so much as somebody who was, frankly, trying to replicate President Trump.
Again, I don't know how much we can take away from what happened in the Kentucky gubernatorial race, again, with this deeply unpopular governor and how much we can scale that to what would be happening in other races in what everyone is looking at, the purple states in 2020. I don't know that this gives us a great bellwether indication.
VAUSE: Is there a danger that the Democrats overreach the significance of these results?
CHEN: I think anytime you have a small sample size of elections, these are off-year elections here in the United States, so they don't happen under typical even-numbered years. So there are all sorts of reasons why you might not want to extrapolate too much from this.
What is clear is that there is a lot of energy in the electorate, a lot of people who are keenly watching what will happen next year and who plan to show up and vote.
So arguably, for Democrats, that could be good, news something they will have to cultivate going into next year. But we always caution against taking elections like this and trying to draw too many lessons in terms of what it means next year, in part because there is so much that could happen between now and when we have elections here in the United States next November.
VAUSE: There's a lot of energy on the Democrat side and a lot of energy for Democrats in the red states it seems but there's also a lack of energy among Republican voters, especially in those suburban areas.
What happened there? LEVINSON: I think that what happened is someone of what happened on the Democratic side in 2016, where they just weren't that excited by the candidates, they weren't excited by the top of the ticket.
And as you talked about, if you lose those Republican suburban voters, particularly in deep red districts, you really do have a problem that I think is replicable in 2020, meaning that is a problem for the Republican voters.
So much of this, I know this is the pre-party to the Oscars, it is a big night but we are waiting for 363 days from today. And one of the big questions we don't know is who will be the Democratic nominee.
Will it be somebody where, Democrats hold their nose and say, OK I'll go to the ballot box?
Or will it be a transformational figure, where people are energized, not just to vote against President Trump but to vote for somebody else?
VAUSE: Right. I don't want to dwell on this but let's finish up on this. Kentucky was unique in the sense that the president was there, he campaigned on Monday for the governor, a candidate who was trying to portray himself in the image of Trump, even more Trump than Trump. Here's what he told supporters when he was campaigning on Monday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: You're sending a big message to the rest of the country. You have to your friend, you have to vote, because if you lose it sent a really bad message, it just sends a bad. Message and they will build it up, if you win they will make it like-hum and if they lose, those eight Trump suffered the greatest defeat in the history of the world. This was the greatest. You can't let that happen to me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: Lanhee, it gets back to that question, the president was joking but how much of this will be attributed to Donald Trump and his popularity or lack thereof?
CHEN: This is one of the things in American politics, where depending on how you feel about the president, depending on what your opinion is of him, that's how you will read into this.
Folks who are critics of the president will say, as the president said, this is a huge loss for him. Those four defenders of the president will shake it off as not a big deal. The reality, is it somewhere in between.
It certainly should matter; the president invested time and energy to get out there and campaign for him and it was not enough. But as we noted, Matt Bevin, not a popular guy. Had a big uphill climb, the fact that he got as far as he did maybe is a testament to Trump and his last-minute campaigning.
CHEN: So it depends on the lens through which you view the president and the Republican Party.
VAUSE: Matt Bevin was expecting to win by five or six points he said at one point. Obviously, that didn't work out. We have to take a short break. Also, later this hour, remember that no quid pro quo defense by the White House?
It is looking shakier by the day. Now we have a senior U.S. diplomat saying, that's right, I do remember a quid pro quo. That is when we come back.
Welcome back, everybody. More breaking news. Important wins for Democrats and key elections across the state.
First, in Kentucky, Democrat Andy Beshear is declaring victory in the states the governor race. He beat incumbent governor Matt Bevin by a razor thin margin. President Donald Trump won the state by more than 30 points in 2016.
VAUSE: So far Bevin is refusing to concede.
In Mississippi, CNN projects the Republican lieutenant governor Tate Reeves will win the governor's race over the Democratic attorney general Jim Hood.
The other big news comes from Virginia, CNN projecting Democrats will flip both chambers of the state legislature, taking back control of the House as well as the Senate.
Back with me now from Los Angeles, Loyola Law School professor Jessica Levinson and from San Francisco, Lanhee Chen, a former Mitt Romney policy advisor.
Before we get to Virginia, even though the result has been called, the governor's refusing to concede.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BEVIN: This is a close, close race. We are not conceding this race by any stretch, not a chance. And here's the, thing understand this, though understand this, we want the process to be followed and there is a process.
We know for a fact that there have been more than a few irregularities. They are very well corroborated. And what they are exactly, how many, which ones and what effect if any they have will be determined according to law.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: So to raise that issue without evidence, it seems like a Trumpian play, even towards the very end.
CHEN: Look, I think it is a Trumpian edge to a message which is a perfectly reasonable one. You know, when you've got a close race, which is to say, look, we're going to see how this all plays out.
Obviously the word irregularities raises some eyebrows but, fundamentally, the idea of letting the process play, out if there is to be some kind of automatic recount, I'm not familiar exactly with what Kentucky law requires in this situation.
But obviously there is a process that has to be played out in a close election but understandably, that word irregularity, he probably could have used a different word to convey the same thing.
VAUSE: Let's go to Virginia now, because this was a state race where Democrats embraced their presidential candidates and Republicans were distancing themselves from the president. Jessica, there was a very different strategy than what we saw in Kentucky.
So why did this work for Democrats in Virginia?
LEVINSON: So one thing I just wanted to say about Kentucky is I think we need uncouple two things and as an election law professor I cannot let this go.
When there is a close election, you have to let the process play out. If it's within a certain margin, oftentimes there is an automatic recount and it is very important that we have integrity of this election.
Similarly, because it is so important, using a word like there have been irregularities, that is a fact, this has been corroborated, is really dangerous. It makes people feel like their vote does not count, that there is something problematic about the process.
These are two very different messages and I think it is important to uncouple them. I'm not saying that in the previous discussion you did not.
I think in, Virginia, what's different here, it is kind of amazing, my students cannot remember a time when Virginia was ever blue. I think it has not been blue since 1993. So what is different in part is the turnout. That is often good for Democrats.
Shifting demographics, shifting registration, really getting people, I, think a lot of people to the polls, they were voting for specific candidates and state legislature and I would bet just as many were voting against President Trump.
VAUSE: And what this now means is that the Democrats have basically full control of the state, the governorship, the Senate, the lower house. And there have been a lot of measures they've been trying to get through but also for redistricting as well.
CHEN: You're right. That certainly is an important factor. I would say that the control of the legislature for Democrats also probably alters the calculus for how Republicans approach the state in 2020. The state has been turning towards the Democrats. Donald Trump lost by five percentage points in 2016.
Obviously the Republicans think the president has some votes out there, Virginia's not going to be a place they're looking. They're more likely to look at a place like Minnesota, somewhere in the upper Midwest than they are in, Virginia.
So I think this election cements a trend that has been going on, and it certainly will affect the campaign metric as they go into 2020.
VAUSE: And was this similar to Kentucky in there was unpopularity in the suburbs for Trump and those people didn't show?
LEVINSON: Exactly, I think, when you look at what the final turnout numbers are, we know those can shift a little bit from Election Night. But I think you are seeing a deep unpopularity or I should, say significant unpopularity in the suburban districts.
LEVINSON: And if you look at even the polling of the likely voters for 2020, you see a little bit of that support that used to happen for the president in the red states in those suburban areas.
You see a little bit of it starting to crater. And I would say to you, previous question, very important for Virginia, think of the issues that are on the table. Gun control, as you, said redistricting, redistricting, redistricting, the ability of the Democratic legislature to draw those district lines, to lock in place their power for at least another 10 years.
That can be so important. Once a candidate, excuse, me once a party can gain control, now that the Supreme Court has said basically, no, we do not look at these partisan gerrymandering cases anymore, I think once a house flips like, this you are going to see it stay blue for a while.
VAUSE: OK. We would like you to stick around for the next hour because there is a lot more to get to with this breaking news on this off-year Election Day and the results which have the Democrats cheering so loudly. Thank, you we will see you again it's top of the hour.
We'll take a short break. When we come, back there was no quid pro, quo no quid pro quo but hang on, a key figure in the Trump impeachment inquiry now changing his testimony about that U.S. military aid to the Ukraine.
JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: It is 12:30 here on the East Coast. Welcome back, everybody. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM with our breaking news coverage.
Big wins for Democrats in state and local elections. CNN's potential bellwether for President Trump's chances for reelection in 2020.
In Kentucky, a deeply red state, Democrat Andy Beshear has declared victory in the governor's race. The incumbent there, Republican Matt Bevin, is refusing to concede.
In Virginia, CNN projects Democrats will flip both chambers of the state legislature, taking back control of the state House and the Senate for the first time in more than 20 years.
And in Mississippi, CNN projecting Republican Lieutenant Governor Tate Reeves will win the governor's race over the Democratic attorney general, Jim Hood.
A key figure in the U.S. impeachment inquiry suddenly remembers, yes, the quid pro quo he had long denied. In a major reversal from his previous testimony, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, Gordon Sondland, now says the Trump administration withheld aid to Ukraine until its new president announced investigations into Joe Biden and his son and the 2016 U.S. election.
CNN's Alex Marquardt has the details.
ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN CORRESPONDENT (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 long-time 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 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 group 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."
(on camera): Kurt Volker also said that he told Rudy Giuliani that those conspiracy theories about Biden and Ukrainian election interference were not true, that they had been debunked.
Now, Democrats are trying to get all the witnesses they want before the public hearings start. That could be as early as next week, while Republicans continue to slam the process. Congressman Mark Meadows, who's the ranking member on the Oversight Committee, calling it blatant partisanship, arguing, as many others have, that President Trump was merely trying to clean up corruption in Ukraine.
Alex Marquardt, CNN, Washington.
VAUSE: With me now from La Jolla in California, former U.S. attorney Harry Litman; and from Los Angeles, former assistant U.S. attorney for Los Angeles, David Katz. Thanks for being with us.
For some reason, the president, his family, his supporters, they cling to this belief that the transcript of the call with Ukraine's leader, which is not a transcript, but a summary, is proof of innocence. Listen to Donald Jr.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP JR., SON OF DONALD TRUMP: My father put the transcript out. Read it. Everything else is opinion. Read the transcript and make your decision from there. (END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: And on Monday night, at a campaign rally were wearing those red "Read the Transcript" T-shirts, which seemed kind of odd.
So Harry, first to you, just be clear. The summary of the call does not exonerate the president, right? And now Americans actually have four real transcripts, under oath, to read, more than 1,200 pages of testimony from administration officials, Trump supporters, career officials, and they seem to be painting a very clear picture of exactly what happened.
HARRY LITMAN, U.S. ATTORNEY: That's right. By the way, the transcript itself paints a fairly clear picture. That's where Trump says, "We need a favor, though," and -- and proceeds to say what -- what Zelensky has to do.
So it's this funny kind of brazen move to say, "Read the transcript," when I guess they're thinking nobody will. It's just another kind of slogan that will keep people revved up.
But you're right. The much fuller version is all the much more damning, and today the source matters. Sondland, first of all, is correcting what was obviously a lie and -- and that always brings attention to it, brings it into neon lights.
But more importantly, he's a political supporter of Trump. Others have been the State Department career professionals. And now he's had to say that this is a quid pro quo and having previously testified that it would be wrong, when he was forgetting he had said it, he stuck with the testimony and stuck with it, saying that -- that they did something illegal and immoral and, in his own words, insidious.
VAUSE: Yes. And here's how the White House responded to another day of evidence which just blows up another impeachment defense and continues to swat the allegation at the heart of the impeachment inquiry. This is what the statement read. "Both transcripts released today show there is even less evidence for this illegitimate impeachment sham than previously thought. No amount of salacious media-biased headlines, which are clearly designed to influence the narrative, will change the fact that the president has done nothing wrong."
So David, to you, is this best described as the Disney defense? If you can dream it, you can do it? Just create your own reality?
DAVID KATZ, FORMER ASSISTANT U.S. ATTORNEY FOR LOS ANGELES: Well, it is Trump's own reality, because today was devastating news. This is the one witness who supposedly helped him in the impeachment inquiry. And that witness, a political appointee who gave over millions of dollars to Trump to buy that ambassadorship, he jumped ship. There's nobody defending Trump on the merits.
You remember the lieutenant colonel who came to the proceedings? He was a direct witness to the phone call. Why are these Trump supporters at a rally talking about, read the transcript? First of all, as you say, John, it's a rough summary, but on top of
that, we have a direct witness. We don't need the whistleblower anymore. We don't need the notes that Donald Trump Jr. says his father released. We have a direct witness, a man in uniform who's given his life for this country. A man who won the Purple Heart, who's come to the Congress, and he said, I heard that conversation. What I heard was improper.
So, now, stripped of having any defense on the merits, all there is is noise. All there is is sloganeering. And we have a situation right now where there's -- because they know all the evidence is going to be bad and against the president, now they've been committing more acts of obstruction of justice, more articles of impeachment by directing people like Mulvaney and Bolton not to come when their testimony's obviously relevant to this inquiry.
VAUSE: And this seems to be, you know, a problem for the Republicans, obviously. Here's the Trump loyalist Senator Lindsey Graham. You know, he's taking the similar approach of, you know, just ignoring these latest revelations. Here he is. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): I've written the whole process off. I've written him off. I think this is a bunch of B.S. I think this is a sham process. I think the substance is not worthy of an impeachment discussion.
Read the phone call for yourself. I don't care what anyone else says about the phone call. The phone call, I've made up my own mind, is -- is fine.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: Harry, that's the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. He's also a potential juror in an impeachment trial. He's saying, la, la, la, la, la, don't tell me anything approach. If a potential juror in a criminal case made a similar comment, wouldn't they be recused?
LITMAN: Sure, but in fact, that's -- that's actually been the latest excuse that Republicans have proffered to keep their head in the sand and avoid saying anything about Trump. They're not jurors. It's not a criminal trial. It's a political proceeding, and they have to make a political decision.
And Graham here is of a piece, the sort of baffling nothing is wrong here. Keep moving along, as this, you know, ten-car pileup wreck has -- has you know, put carnage all over the -- the street.
And Trump has made it difficult for them, now. You would think -- remember back in Clinton's day, there was some attempt among Democrats to maybe give a half measure of acceptance, say he did wrong. Trump is insisting, in his words, this was perfect, perfect, perfect, and he wants the Republicans to defend him on those terms, and nobody who wants to have any credibility in the future can do that.
So they're not -- it doesn't seem to be a strategy afoot to actually take some middle ground. Instead, they're in the Disneyland defense, exactly as you described, John.
VAUSE: And something which hasn't received a lot of attention, though, is that if you look at these transcripts closely, they reveal that Republicans have been fully engaged in these depositions. They've been questioning witnesses, clashing with Democrats.
And "Roll Call" added this detail: "most GOP lawmakers on the three panels at the center of the probe have simply not shown up. Republican questioning during these private interviews have been driven by a handful of President Donald Trump's allies and GOP staff."
So, David, to you, there goes another Trump line of defense that, you know, this is a process which likes transparency and that Republicans had no access.
KATZ: Well, because they didn't have a defense on the merits, they went to this process argument.
VAUSE: That argument doesn't hold either.
KATZ: It doesn't hold at all. I worked in the U.S. attorney's office with Adam Schiff. Adam Schiff is doing a tremendous job of putting this together. He's going to be one of the managers of the impeachment trial in the Senate.
That's what Lindsey Graham was. Lindsey Graham was saying that it was an impeachable offense and that Clinton should be removed from office when Graham was a manager. And that was for an alleged lie about private sexual conduct.
For Graham to say that this is not impeachable conduct. And once Adam Schiff and the other impeachment managers get ahold of this in the Senate, and there are televised hearings that are going to start, maybe in as soon as a week, I think this -- the country is going to have a different view.
They say that once televised proceedings started against President Nixon, there was immediately a 10 percent turn against him. If that happened, it would be 60 percent of the country in favor of impeachment.
And Adam Schiff knows how to present a case. I saw him present them back in the late '80s. And I think this is going to be devastating. And with no one defending the president on the merits, how can you? Even Sondland, right, had to say that his testimony the other day was not true. I mean, his whole defense now is that he retracted in time that he's free of alleged perjury. That's the defenders of Trump.
This quid pro quo conversation took place. It took place abroad by someone who didn't even have a charter, an ambassadorship to cover Ukraine, because Ukraine wasn't in the European Union. It's all a farce, John. It's all falling apart. VAUSE: Very quickly, Harry, last question. We're almost out of time,
but if this ever does get to public hearings, and all this testimony has been played out on television, how devastating will that moment be for the administration?
LITMAN: We'll see. It looks pretty devastating, but he has dodged bullets before.
One thing to note, in addition to what David said. We're not just talking about a phone call. We're talking about a three-month course of conduct that just is pushing to get him to -- to investigate Burisma.
VAUSE: OK. Harry and David, thanks so much. Appreciate you being with us.
LITMAN: Thank you, too.
KATZ: Great to be with you.
VAUSE: We'll take a short break. When we come back, a massacre in Mexico. Three women, six children, all killed. Why the family does not think it was a random attack.
VAUSE: In Mexico, police have arrested a suspect in the horrific killing of three women and six children. The victims were all dual citizens and members of a Mormon community living in Mexico. It's believed a newly-formed drug cartel could be behind the massacre.
But family members believe they were specifically targeted. Now, a U.S. official says there's evidence which backs that up.
CNN's Matt Rivers reports now from Mexico City.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think a lot of us are just speechless. It's -- it's horrific.
MATT RIVERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Fellow 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.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: 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 mistaking the families as rival groups.
Kendra Lee Miller is the bride at that upcoming wedding. She tells CNN her sister-in-law, Rhonita Miller, is among the victims.
KENDRA LEE MILLER, BRIDGE TO BE: Nita 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., RELATIVE OF VICTIMS: None of my grandchildren made it out. They're 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 victim are all members of a Mormon community in northern Mexico, not affiliated with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
(on camera): And U.S. President Donald Trump weighing in on all of this on Twitter, saying, in part, that now would be the time for Mexico to wage all-out war on the drug cartels, offering U.S. assistance, should Mexico want to wage that fight.
But the Mexican president responded, saying he spoke to President Trump during the day on Tuesday, that he appreciated the offer of assistance, but that this was Mexico's fight to win. Mexico's fight to seek justice for these victims; that it was Mexico's responsibility.
But there are people questioning here in Mexico whether the Mexican president is capable of carrying out that responsibility.
Matt Rivers, CNN, Mexico City.
VAUSE: More on our breaking news in a moment here on CNN NEWSROOM.
Two key victories for Democrats in state and local elections in the U.S. What it could mean for Republicans and Donald Trump, come 2020.
VAUSE: A quick check of the breaking news this hour.
Democrats taking home two big victories in state and local elections around the United States. In Kentucky, Democrat Andy Beshear is declaring victory in the governor's race, but it's a razor-thin margin, and the incumbent Republican, Matt Bevin, is not conceding, at least not yet.
Bevin had tied himself to Donald Trump during the campaign. The president won Kentucky by nearly 30 points in 2016.
And in Virginia, CNN projecting the Democrats will flip both the state House and the Senate for the first time in more than two decades.
Another key race: CNN projecting Republican Tate Reeves will be the next governor of Mississippi. His opponent, Democrat Jim Hood, has conceded.
I'm John Vause at the CNN Center. Stay with us. A lot more news on this big day, big election day on an off year, right after a break. You're watching CNN.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
VAUSE: Hello, welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. Great to have you with us. I'm John Vause at the CNN Center in Atlanta, and there's breaking news at the ballot box, in this off year, state and local elections.
Democrats have scored two significant wins, and Republicans have seen their support in the suburbs crumble.