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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT
Senate Republicans Dodge Questions on Trump; Georgia Voter: I Do Not Recognize the Republican Party of Today; Source: Pence Aide Will Testify Tomorrow If Subpoenaed, Was Concerned About What She Heard On Ukraine Call; Top Diplomat In Ukraine Describes Shakedown In Newly Released Transcript Of Testimony; Rep. Val Demings (D-FL) Discuss About The Concerns Of Jennifer Williams And Whether Or Not She's Going To Show Up If Subpoenaed; Pompeo Has Lost Confidence Of State Department; Source Says Ukraine Has Been "Game Changer"; GOP Gushes Over Official Who Denied Quid Pro Quo; Ignores Others Who Testified There Was A Shakedown. Aired 7-8p ET
Aired November 6, 2019 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: You can always tweet the show @CNNSITROOM. Erin Burnett OUTFRONT starts right now.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next breaking news, new damning testimony set to come from a White House insider. Why Mike Pence's aide said she was concerned about the President's call with Ukraine? Plus, is Mike Pompeo afraid of Rudy Giuliani? New details from testimony behind closed doors today. And the woman who flipped off the President and lost her job over it just got won a new job and she's my guest. Let's go out front.
And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett. OUTFRONT tonight, the breaking news, an aide to Vice President Mike Pence who was on President Trump's now infamous call with the Ukrainian president defying the White House. A source saying tonight that Jennifer Williams will show up to testify tomorrow in the impeachment inquiry if subpoenaed and you can bet that subpoena will come early tomorrow morning.
What she says could be crucial. According to our source, Williams was concerned about what she heard on that call. This is the transcript from the closed door deposition of a key impeachment witness was just released late today. Top U.S. Diplomat in Ukraine, Bill Taylor, using words like snake pit and nightmare under oath to describe the President's allies and the events unfolding around the quid pro quo in Ukraine.
We also learned today that Taylor will be the first witness called by Democrats in their public impeachment hearings, the ones that are going to be televised set to begin next week. He's a witness that Democrats are depending on and the White House is certainly concerned in a rare move. President Trump ignoring reporter questions today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you going to watch the impeachment hearing?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: That almost never happens but he ignores. But the President has already tried to disparage Taylor. Remember this?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He's a never Trumper and his lawyers they're never Trumper.
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BURNETT: Of course, there's no proof Taylor is a never Trumper. He's a career diplomat. He's worked for Democrats and Republicans. Of course, he also earned a Bronze Star in the Vietnam War.
The reality is also that his testimony was under oath and it has been corroborated by others. Democrats say today that Taylor will be the first of three witnesses to testify publicly next week. Taylor and the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Europe and Eurasia George Kent both set for Wednesday. And on Friday, the former Ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, will answer questions as well.
House Intel Chairman Adam Schiff also saying 'more to come'.
Now, according to what Taylor testified behind closed doors, we know what he will say publicly is not good for the President. He did testify, for example, that there was a quid pro quo with Ukraine and that it came from the President through his personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani.
And in the transcript that we're seeing for the first time today, Taylor was asked about whether the Ukrainians 'understood that Mr. Giuliani represented President Trump'. Answer, "They did." Question, "Because why else would they care what Rudy Giuliani thought?" Answer, "Correct."
Giuliani, obviously, crucial as that under oath testimony shows and the President's allies tonight are now scrambling to put distance between Giuliani and Trump. Here's congressman Mark Meadows on Giuliani.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. MARK MEADOWS (R-NC): There's a whole lot of things he does that he doesn't appraise anybody of.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Meadows trying to act like Giuliani was going it alone maybe without the boss even calling the shots. And if that seems like too much of a stretch for you, take this one from Senator Lindsey Graham. He has an even more amazing defense of Trump.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): What I can tell you about the Trump policy toward the Ukraine, it was incoherent. It depends on who you talk to. They seem to be incapable of forming a quid pro quo.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: In other words, team Trump was too incompetent and Trump himself too incoherent to pull off a quid pro quo, well that's a defense. Kaitlan Collins is out front at the White House.
Kaitlan, the breaking news at this moment, of course, a big surprise that Pence's aide is testifying tomorrow.
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Right now she's saying she's likely going to go up there if she's subpoenaed and so far we know that House Democrats have been issuing those subpoenas the day of the scheduled testimony. So those aides can come up there because, of course, the White House sent that eight-page letter telling them to defy any invitations to come up to Capitol Hill which a lot of administration officials, as we've noted, have ignored that.
But Jennifer Williams is going to be interesting if she does show up tomorrow as we've been expecting so far, because she is not a political appointee. She's not someone Pence selected necessarily to be on the staff. She's a State Department career official who is in detailed to the Vice President's office, has been there for several months and instead she's seen as a career official.
So not someone as a political appointee, not someone that typically is someone who would like to work inside the West Wing. But she's also notable because of what she knows. She was on that July call with the President and the President of Ukraine, that call that is at the center of all of this, so the questions are about what she heard.
We're being told by sources that she was concerned about what she heard, but it's not clear and we do not believe right now that she registered those complaints with anyone higher up than her. We'll likely find out more about that tomorrow.
But also, Erin, she went on that trip with the vice president where he subbed in for President Trump because he was staying back at the White House to monitor an impending hurricane. And on that trip to Poland, that's when the Vice President sat down with the Ukrainian leader.
Now, Pence is faced a ton of questions about his own role in this, including what he said to President Zelensky during that meeting in Poland and whether or not he brought up the Bidens, something he has said didn't come up. But there are questions about what the President said to him.
So that is why Jennifer Williams going up to the Hill tomorrow, if she does, if she is subpoenaed, which right now we are likely expecting is going to be something really noteworthy here. Of course, as the White House is still dealing with these closed door depositions, they're also getting ready for those public hearings to start next week.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Kaitlan. I want to go now to Democratic Congressman Val Demings, who sits on both the House Intelligence and Judiciary Committees. She was inside the room for the Taylor deposition, which we just got the transcript from. And, of course, now we've got the breaking news on Jennifer Williams. Does this surprise you, Congresswoman? She's saying if she's subpoenaed tomorrow morning, she's going to show up and she did indeed have concerns about that call.
REP. VAL DEMINGS (D-FL): Hi, Erin. Well, first of all, let me say it's good to be back with you and once again, I am very pleased that we have someone, Ms. Williams, who is likely to receive a lawful subpoena and actually respond to it as the law requires. And so as you've already reported, she had some concerns. She was on the call.
So she has firsthand knowledge. She obviously had some concerns about what she heard on the call and we're just thankful that she is willing to come in and share those concerns with the Intel Committee.
BURNETT: Now, obviously, her testimony tomorrow would be behind closed doors. The public hearings are set to begin next week, Congresswoman. You've been releasing though transcripts of the closed door hearings from some of the same witnesses. What do you expect will change by having them testify publicly when the transcript, and the opening statements and all this conversation about what they have to say has already been out there?
DEMINGS: Well, it has. But we said from the very beginning that we wanted to do a very methodical, very thorough investigation that was very transparent. And initially, we had, it was pertinent that we conducted interviews behind closed doors.
But now, we've always wanted to get as much information out to the public and the public hearings will give us that opportunity. Certainly, the transcripts are being released but we know that everybody may not have an opportunity to read every word.
DEMINGS: But then, Erin, there is nothing like hearing directly from, for example, Bill Taylor, a 50-year public servant, career foreign service officer, decorated veteran hearing exactly directly from him in that public hearing. So we think that it will certainly make a difference and we believe the public wants to hear and they will get that opportunity next week.
BURNETT: So Ambassador Taylor links Trump directly to the quid pro quo and he was asked how he came to the conclusion that there was a quid pro quo. And according to the transcript, here's what happened, Ambassador Taylor says, "I don't know what was in the President mind." Your Republican colleague, Lee Zeldin asked, "So where was this condition coming from if you're not sure it was coming from the President?" Taylor, "I think it was coming from Mr. Giuliani."
Congressman Zeldin, "But not from the President?" Taylor, "I don't know." Congressman Zeldin, "Did you have any firsthand knowledge that confirms that the President was conditioning an investigation into Burisma and alleged election - Ukrainian interference in the 2016 elections with a meeting with President Zelensky?" Taylor, "Again, I had no conversations with the President."
Zeldin, "So did you have any firsthand knowledge at all to support that?" Taylor, "Firsthand meeting - firsthand meaning had I talked to the President? No, I've never talked to the President." Zeldin, "Or any other firsthand knowledge, other than a communication directly with the President." Taylor, "No communication with the President."
Zeldin, "No communication with Rudy Giuliani." Taylor, "There was none with Giuliani, only with Sondland and Volker."
Now, I read that in its entirety and I know you were in the room when that happened, Congresswoman. But to make the point, Taylor, obviously, he's testifying the truth, right, everything that he understands it, but he didn't ever speak to the President and he never spoke to Rudy Giuliani. Are you worried you're putting too much weight on what Taylor says?
DEMINGS: I am absolutely not worried at all about Ambassador Taylor coming to testify in a public setting tomorrow. And the American people will have an opportunity to see exactly why I'm not worried. The Republicans, as you will know, for the last month and a half have struggled to try to defend the indefensible.
We also know that Rudy Giuliani, while as reckless as he has been, was working directly at the direction of the President and so but I think the best person who gives us the most convincing firsthand knowledge is the President himself. If you read the readout of the call, the President himself talks about 'but I need you to do me a favor though' to President Zelensky and then goes into investigations of the Bidens.
So I think that's pretty clear and convincing. And when we hear from Ambassador Taylor, we'll understand why.
BURNETT: All right. Well, Congressman Demings, I appreciate your time tonight. Thanks again.
DEMINGS: Thank you.
BURNETT: And next, new details of what a top State Department official said behind closed doors. What did Mike Pompeo reportedly refused to do? Plus, some Senate Republicans pushing to make Joe Biden's son a witness in the impeachment trial, could that move backfire? And she gave the finger to the President literally and then got elected to office. Is that photo the reason she won last night? She's out front.
BURNETT: New tonight, a top aide to the Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, the third highest ranking official at the State Department spending more than six hour behind closed doors as part of the House impeachment inquiry. That was happening today. Associated Press reporting that Under Secretary of State David Hale
planned to say that Pompeo was reluctant to defend former Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch publicly in part because he was worried about the reaction from President Trump's lawyer Rudy Giuliani. Now, this is a senior administration official who has been a consistent defender of Pompeo tells CNN the conditions at the State Department have gotten significantly worse since the start of the impeachment inquiry. This official, again, a consistent defender of Pompeo calling Ukraine a 'game-changer'.
Out front now former New Jersey Attorney General Anne Milgram, CNN Political Correspondent Abby Phillip, Politics Editor for The New York Times Patrick Healy and former GOP Committee Counsel for House Oversight during the Clinton impeachment investigation Sophia Nelson.
So Abby, the reporting tonight that Pompeo wouldn't defend his own ambassador in part because he was afraid of Rudy Giuliani who was essentially running, I guess, in the case of Ukraine, certainly a separate State Department. What does this tell you?
ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: It tells you how afraid even one of President Trump's favorite cabinet members is of Rudy Giuliani and the power that he has with President Trump. Giuliani has direct access to Trump which not that many people really have, although the President has a fairly lengthy call list compared to his predecessors.
But it also tells you that Pompeo is someone who we know has political ambitions. He wants to remain in good favor with Trump and he's clearly cautious of getting on the wrong side of someone who is known to once he is against you, really mount a campaign against you with the President.
Remember, there was something that we maybe probably forgot, there was this pile of papers that Giuliani passed on to Pompeo about Ambassador Yovanovitch. And Pompeo took that pile of papers and he handed it directly to the Inspector General for the State Department washing his hands of that incident. But I think what that tells me is that Pompeo is aware of how Rudy Giuliani's disinformation campaigns can go and how dangerous it can be for Trump appointees.
BURNETT: And so he felt that, I mean, Anne, in the testimony released today of that top Diplomat to Ukraine, Bill Taylor, which I mentioned. We see Taylor testified that he raised concerns about Giuliani's work in Ukraine to Pompeo, right?
ANNE MILGRAM, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Right.
BURNETT: So Pompeo being the head of State Department. People are going to go to him. And EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland also testified he raised Giuliani with Pompeo. And by the way, Sondland is Trump's million dollar donor and according to the transcript Sondland said, "Pompeo rolled his eyes and said: Yes, it's something we have to deal with."
That's his reaction and when he has been asked repeatedly about Giuliani, he's done this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NANCY AMONS, JOURNALIST, WSMV-TV: In mid-February, you were in Warsaw and so was Rudy Giuliani. During your time there, did you meet with Giuliani?
MIKE POMPEO, UNITED STATES SECRETARY OF STATE: You know, I don't talk about who I meet with.
AMONS: So, you're not going to say whether you met with him?
POMPEO: So, when I was in Warsaw, I had a singular focus.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MILGRAM: So I would take that a yes, he did meet with Rudy Giuliani, because I think if he didn't he would say, no, I wouldn't have met with the President's personal lawyer in Warsaw. But the bigger issue here is that you now have multiple people saying that they told the Head of the State Department that there were problems and issues and that they had concerns about things that were happening.
And Pompeo, the buck stops with him. He's the leader of the State Department. He is sanctioning this kind of conduct where the president is literally using his personal lawyer to try to pressure a foreign adversary to impact the next election. And so you can't really do the hear no evil see no evil thing for Pompeo because he runs that department and so ...
BURNETT: I mean, it's pretty incredible, I mean, Sophia, what happens then to Mike Pompeo? It certainly appears from, at least, what we're seeing in the House of Representatives that you're not going to see Mike Pompeo testifying.
SOPHIA NELSON, FORMER HOUSE GOP OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE COUNSEL DURING CLINTON IMPEACHMENT: Well, nothing is going to happen in Mike Pompeo because President Trump loves Mike Pompeo and vice versa. So from that standpoint, there's really no way to deal with this and what he hasn't done in his proper function as Secretary of State.
I think as far as him testifying, that's never going to happen, as you know, because the White House would then claim privilege. And I think that Mike Pompeo has been an embarrassment, if I can just be direct about it. He has sat on these interviews like a Stepford Wife. Have you seen the look on his face? He's like he's glassed over, "I'm not going to talk about this, so I don't talk about this." He's run away literally from reporters.
It's not a good look on him and I can see why morale at the State Department is down. Makes sense.
BURNETT: And Patrick, we are also hearing that from multiple aides that morale is terrible, that the Secretary of State standing has been hurt. This is a person, of course, with immense personal political ambition beyond his current job whether it'd be Senate or a White House run himself. How big of an issue is this for Mike Pompeo?
PATRICK HEALY, POLITICS EDITOR, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Yes. I think it's very significant because the reality is since Donald Trump became president, the State Department has been really kind of an odd man out I mean through now two successive secretaries of state, they've seen so much of the power vested in the Chief of Staff, the National Security Adviser, the Defense Department, others in the White House.
And now they thought they were getting someone with Secretary Pompeo who have the President's trust, have the President's support, who would be empowered to defend ambassadors, defend the diplomatic corps but then lo and behold, basically, Rudy Giuliani, the President's personal lawyer was running a shadow foreign policy and Mike Pompeo who's supposed to be the one that people could trust out of the presidency, he himself wasn't able to sort of stop this.
So the State Department has just been in this kind of limbo since Trump took office and I think the degree to which they look to Pompeo for leadership and for stability, like you're seeing now with the impeachment inquiry, that stability just isn't there.
BURNETT: I mean, and Abby this comes as Vice President Mike Pence's aide, Jennifer Williams, we understand obviously a State Department employee and not a political appointee, but was in the White House, was on that call is going to testify. She's going to defy the White House and she's going to answer that subpoena tomorrow and she had concerns about the call.
PHILLIP: Yes. Every time one of these aides testifies, it's clearly because they know that they're doing it with the State Department opposing that decision for them to do it. So her decision is really critically important. She feels like she has something to say and maybe it is that she did have concerns about it.
The question will be for her why didn't she say something when others who were on the call did. They went to White House lawyers.
BURNETT: Right, because we understand she did not raise it, yes.
PHILLIP: Exactly. She did not raised those concerns, but I think we're getting a little bit closer. I mean I don't want to overstate this, because it's not clear to me that Jennifer Williams had the kind of direct contact with Trump that can be kind of this missing link in the investigation as we go forward.
PHILLIP: But it really starts to answer some of the Pence's elements of this, how much did Mike Pence know and how many other people on that call had concerns about what was going on and what exactly we're their concerns. Was it clear to her that this was a quid pro quo, that would be yet another witness if she were to say that, yet another witness who gives that kind of line of testimony.
BURNETT: And, Anne, it's interesting in the context of what Abby is saying, again, she's current.
BURNETT: Now we know Morrison was slated to leave and then left immediately. But these people who are current, so she's then going to defy the White House and the State Department and testify and then ostensibly go back to work.
MILGRAM: Yes. I mean I think it's courageous. We're seeing a number of folks who could easily say, well, the White House has told me not to so I'm going to defy a lawful subpoena and people aren't doing that. I also think it's incredibly important to what Abby said that it's not people with hindsight saying something wrong happen, it's people who are saying at that moment in time I knew something wrong was going on and I had a problem with it and some people acted based on that, some people didn't.
But still it's that moment in time to have that sort of sense of you hear a call and you think that's not right, the President of the United States shouldn't be doing this for the 2020 election. And having that moment in time that we're now all talking about, I think, is really critical.
BURNETT: All right. All of you please stay with me. Next, Republicans have a new impeachment strategy repeatedly dismissing testimony from top diplomats, except for now apparently one.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JIM JORDAN (R-OH): We have - the definitive account on all this is the one from Ambassador Volker.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: But is it? And it's a district that went from red to blue for the first time in 40 years, what do these voters in Georgia think of the impeachment fight?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I do not recognize the Republican Party today.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: New tonight, the honest broker, Republicans gushing over Kurt Volker, Trump's former special representative to Ukraine after transcript show he said he had no knowledge of a quid pro quo.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JORDAN: Ambassador Volker who's the guy who has the definitive account of what took place. REP. SCOTT PERRY (R-PA): He seems to be the one honest broker in the
GRAHAM: Listen to Volker. Volker said, "No, there was no tying the meeting to all of this."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Listen to Volker, because they like what he has to say. Well, they're obviously cherry-picking because Volker does seem to be saying multiple things. Because keep in mind, you just heard what they said, he said no quid pro quo. Keep in mind, this is the same man who wrote 'heard from the White House, assuming President Zelensky convinces Trump he will investigate/get to the bottom of what happened in 2016, we will nail down date for visit to Washington'. In other words, a quid pro quo.
But, look, putting inside Volker's fair weather friends today in seizing on the parts of his testimony that they like, they are not only ignoring other things he said but also ignoring what six officials have testified under oath which is that there was a quid pro quo. Of course, it's also very different from how Trump sounded when he talked about some testimonies that he did not like.
Everyone is back with me. So Sophia, when it fits with their narrative, Republicans love the messenger. When it doesn't, they call the witness a never Trumper or otherwise denigrate the person. But it's pretty amazing here that they're cherry-picking the way they are with the Ambassador Volker.
NELSON: One of the things that the Senators will have to do if the President is impeached and it moves into the Senate is they have to weigh the evidence.
And any person, regular layperson, knows Erin that if you have five people that say something happened and you got one person that's kind of sort of saying it might happen or maybe it didn't happen, you've got to weigh the credibility of those people.
And I think Bill Taylor's testimony was just stunning and Sondland reversing himself and coming back and changing it, I don't think you can throw that out, and I think Jim Jordan has zero credibility and he just needs to go away and at the end of the day, the Republicans didn't get the message last night, Erin. They got shellacked, they got beat down in my home state of Virginia. They got beat down in Kentucky.
And they better start paying attention that this isn't sticking and that people are kind of tired of the shenanigans. So, I think they need to get serious about this. This is a serious issue. Impeaching a president is a serious, and it needs to be taken seriously. ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: And, you know, Patrick, it's important,
because Sophia raises the point about Ambassador Sondland, right? The million dollar donor to the president who had been sort of the only one trying to say no quid pro quo who has amended his testimony to say that there was before, you know, the release of that testimony yesterday from Sondland, Team Trump kept saying there's no quid pro quo because Sondland said so and he changed his testimony to say there was a quid pro quo.
Here's how Republicans are talking about their hero.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JIM JORDAN (R-OH): Sondland's opening statement, and he says exactly what President Zelensky said and exactly what the president said, no quid pro quo, whatsoever.
You all want to make a big deal out of Mr. Sondland's presumption. He says it was his presumption.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: All right. When he first heard the testimony, just look at it, it was perfect and when he got edited, don't make a big deal out of it, it doesn't matter.
I mean, Patrick, there again, Jim Jordan. Does he realize that he is contradicting himself completely?
PATRICK HEALY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I mean, I can't read his mind, Erin, but anyone with some experience in politics knows when they're flip-flopping and they're flip-flopping. This is very transparent what's going on and the reality is that the Republicans have very little evidence so far that they've been able to marshal, you know, to prove and protect President Trump on -- on the quid pro quo front. There are now multiple witnesses both who have said there was a quid pro quo and you have Sondland who has now flipped on this point.
And the reality is that when Republicans sort of come out and decide to cherry pick arguments because they know that that will put them in favor, and keep them in favor with the White House, that is a political choice. That's not about following constitutional obligations and constitutional duties and, you know, it's ultimately, you know, sort of a momentary way to please the president.
And whether that really works in the long term for people like Jim Jordan and others who are making these transparent moves, you know, they have to hope so, but you've got to ask about sort of what it does to a person's credibility.
BURNETT: I mean, Abby, look, today CNN, this will end up at the Senate and the removal trial so CNN tried to talk to Republican senators a simple question, is it OK for President Trump to ask about political rivals? Senator Martha McSally literally went around the capitol, around parked cars and everything to avoid cameras, her aides said no comment. Senator Roy Blunt answered it this way.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ROY BLUNT (R-MO): I think that on the Senate side of the building, the best thing for us to do is let all of the facts get assembled and then try to decide what they mean, and they've got a different job on the House side, but our job is to look at a case, if it comes over here when it comes over here.
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESIONAL REPORTER: The president definitely asked for these investigations. Is that OK?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: And he walks away.
ABBY PHILLIP, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Look, they don't have a consistent message, Republicans, on how to deal with this. That was a very polite non-answer from Senator Blunt, but it illustrates how difficult this has been for Republicans. They have tried studiously to avoid answering that question which is really at the core of this issue, but they're going to have a really hard time especially if they want to proceed with the strategy that involves using Ambassador Volker's testimony as their star witness.
Volker makes it very clear he thought it was inappropriate for the president to ask for this investigation and he thought that the Biden- Burisma issue was political in nature. So they're going to have a really difficult time because I don't know that anybody that has testified disagrees with the idea that the Biden issue was not only baseless, but also political in nature, and if they're going to try to defend President Trump on the grounds that he has the right to ask for an investigation into corruption, they'll have to get through that factual problem for them at first. And I think a lot of Republicans are hoping to bide more time to figure out what to do about this.
BURNETT: Yes. I mean, you know, I played this earlier in the hour and in case anyone is joining us, I need to play people the single best current defense of team Trump which is not that there was no quid pro quo, and it's not that the process is rigged, it's not that Volker is the one to defend, and they don't have the right to defend and it's that they're too incompetent to pull it off.
I give you Lindsey Graham.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): What I can tell you about the Trump policy toward the Ukraine. It was incoherent. It depends on who you talk to. They seem to be incapable of forming a quid pro quo.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: That's your best defense?
ANNE MILGRAM, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes. So I think what we're seeing is the president's defenders are in need of a defense and why they keep jumping from person to person and story to story is that the simple answer to the question was should a foreign power be asked to provide political dirt for an upcoming election is no, it's not an appropriate thing to do, so they're spinning now to come up with it.
BURNETT: Well, here's now -- they're literally too dumb to do it.
MILGRAM: Here's a problem with that, every person in America who has gotten a traffic ticket and speeding ticket would love to say, I was too dumb to know or not paying attention. You know, that is never a defense in the United States of America. And to me, it really falls short in so many ways to say they were too incompetent to actually do something wrong.
PHILLIP: And it is undermined by the fact that there were so many, forts made to obscure what they were doing, the fact that it went through the back channel, and they tried to keep people off the call. They tried to lock down the transcript of the call. Those things really undermined this idea that somehow they were just fumbling through this and didn't know what was going on.
BURNETT: Sophia, I want to ask you. According to "The Washington Post", Republican Senators John Kennedy and Rand Paul both raised the idea of having Hunter Biden testified, not going to happen in the House obviously, because Democrats can squash it. But it could happen in the Senate.
Is that a good idea?
NELSON: It's outrageous, I don't know what Hunter Biden has to do with whether or not the president of the United States of America engaged in a quid pro quo with the Ukrainian president.
I mean, again, I go back to my point, Erin. The Republicans are playing with fire. I know they think it's cute and they think it's funny, but they're not reading the tea leaves about where the country is with this and where people are feeling about how they're conducting themselves. They're not treating this seriously and Rand Paul with these attacks on the whistle-blower and Kennedy and now they want to bring in hunter biden. It's not going to work out good for them. It's just not.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you all very much.
Next, Republicans with a wake-up call after last night's election, what they're conceding heading into 2020.
And she lost her job after giving Trump the middle finger. So she decided to won for office and she won a new job last night. She's OUTFRONT next.
BURNETT: Tonight, President Trump dismissing warning signs for Republicans in last night's election results.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We actually had a very big night last night. We had some tremendous results last night.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: And many Republicans are worried about a clear shift in the suburbs in Kentucky and Virginia.
Senator Shelly Moore Caputo telling CNN, quote, this is a wake-up call to find their way back to the suburban voter. Senator John Thune agreeing, saying, quote, we've got our work cut out for us for sure in some of these areas.
So, we went to a Georgia suburb where Democrats flipped a crucial seat in 2018 to see how voters feel about impeachment.
Martin Savidge is OUTFRONT.
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Democrat Lucy McBath's victory last fall in Georgia's 6th congressional district, wasn't just significant. It was seismic.
(on camera): How do I know? Because this is my district. I've lived in the 6th for over 20 years.
(voice-over): Located in Atlanta's northern suburb, decades ago it brought America Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney and John McCain carried the 6th comfortably. President Trump by only a single point.
McBath is the first Democrat to win in 40 years and her victory helped Democrats win back the House.
TAMARA STEVENS, VOTER IN GEORGIA'S 6TH CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT: Electing Lucy, that was just the beginning.
SAVIDGE: Driving that historic flip, a growing number of activist, college-educated, mostly mothers, some Georgia natives, other transplants, some even from other parties.
STEVENS: My husband tells everybody I was a gun-toting, Limbaugh- listening Republican.
SAVIDGE: But like the district, Tamara Stevens has changed.
STEVENS: Honestly, I do not recognize the Republican of today.
SAVIDGE: Stevens actively campaigned for McBath and she definitely believes the president should be impeached even though she knows it will energize Republican voters. She's not worried.
STEVENS: We are on a roll and there say whole wave of women that have been activated even since Lucy's election.
SAVIDGE: Impeachment looms large here because Lucy McBath is one of those house Democrats elected in a Trump-voting district where impeachment is a tightrope walk especially since McBath serves on the House Judiciary Committee.
STEVENS: She has kept her head down and she's continued to work and that's the thing that Republicans, they can't -- they can't -- they can't argue with that.
SAVIDGE: Actually, they do.
DEBBIE FISHER, VOTER IN GEORGIA 6TH CONRESSIONAL DISTRICT: I think it is a sham, and it's not as much the impeachment itself as the process that they're going to that is unprecedented in the history of this country.
SAVIDGE: Debbie Fisher is also a politically active 6th district suburbanite and she sees the impeachment issue completely different.
CROWD: USA, USA!
SAVIDGE: Joining protesters outside McBath's local congressional office.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She doesn't want to hear from people.
SAVIDGE: She believes Americans are suffering from Trump investigation fatigue and the impeachment inquiry will backfire on Democrats, hurting McBath's re-election hopes.
FISHER: I see more Democrats, more moderates and the Democrat Party coming this way and more independents coming Trump's way because of the tactics that have been used in trying to unseat our president.
SAVIDGE: Lucy McBath's victory in the 6th district wasn't just historic, Erin. It was close. I mean, incredibly close. She won by just 3,264 votes, which is why Republicans believe that she's vulnerable come 2020. In fact, the Republican Party has targeted her House seat is one they believe they can win, or I guess in this case win back, which is why the opinions and passions from voters against impeachment could make the difference here -- Erin.
BURNETT: All right. Martin, thank you very much.
And next, she flipped off Trump, ran for office and won last night. Does she credit that viral photo with part of her ride to victory?
Plus, Jeanne on when your memory suddenly returns. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JIMMY KIMMEL, COMEDIAN: Maybe he started taking those Omega-3 supplements or something? They say those are very effective against perjury.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Tonight, flipping off the president, you've all seen that picture. You remember it, Juli Briskman made national headlines with that photo. It was two years ago.
That was when President Trump's motorcade was passing by in Virginia as he left his golf club. Briskman was later fired from her job because of that, that was the price she paid.
But last night, she got a new job winning a seat on the county board of supervisors in Loudoun County, Virginia, just outside of Washington, D.C.
And Juli Briskman is with me now.
Juli, I appreciate your time.
So, look, I remember when that photo happened. Everybody does. It was sort of -- it was a moment and it went viral. How much do you think -- and you lost your job because of that, and then it became important in your campaign.
How much do you think it helped you?
JULI BRISKMAN (D), SUPERVISOR-ELECT FOR LOUDOUN COUNTY, VA: Yes, and thank you so much for having me, Erin, tonight. I really appreciate it.
There's no doubt that that photo and me unjustly fired from my position at work kicked off my drive and kicked off my desire to become active politically. That day that I got fired, I went home and signed up to work the polls during a statewide in 2017. And, you know, I don't know that it helped me name recognition in my community. I'm very active in my community, but it definitely jump-started my activism.
BURNETT: So, it's an important moment for you. I mean, what does your victory say about voter sentiment when it comes to Donald Trump, do you think?
BRISKMAN: I think it says that Algonkian District, Loudon County, and the entire state of Virginia going to stand up against the Trump agenda. All the voters said that yesterday.
BURNETT: And Democrats in Virginia, as you point out controls the state senate, the house, the governor's mansion. That was the first time in terms of a sweep like that in Virginia for nearly 30 years. You unseated an eight-year Republican yourself, Juli.
BURNETT: Do you see last night's win as part of a larger trend? Was this about Trump?
BRISKMAN: You know, I didn't run on the Trump issue necessarily. I ran on issues that affect my community, such as, you know, fully funding our schools, supporting working women, making sure we more intelligently develop a county that has moved up leaps and bounds since I moved there 20 years ago.
But there's no doubt when I was knocking doors and that it was brought up and it was brought up on a regular basis. There were times when I would knock the door and someone said, if you're a Democrat, I'm voting for you. I don't need to hear more.
A number of Republicans saying I'm not voting Republican again until this administration is gone. So I think it says a lot. I think that Virginia set the tone for 2020, in my opinion.
BURNETT: You did hear that particular Republicans, really interesting. Anecdotally you would share that, Juli.
BURNETT: You know, I just say, when I saw that picture I was torn. Interesting to hear you talk how significant it was for you personally. It was a moment. You lost your job. You became active politically. It's why you're sitting where you are right now because it motivated you.
BURNETT: I'm sure you weren't expecting it, at the heat of the moment didn't expect to be caught on camera, obviously.
BURNETT: Do you when you look back on it and how viral it went, have any regrets how the message came across or how you showed your anger at the president and the office of the president?
BRISKMAN: I don't really have any regrets for stating my opinion that day. No. Not at all. I mean, things were -- everything that we thought could go wrong was going wrong at the time -- the hateful rhetoric, the criticisms and discrimination against immigrants. Everything we thought could go bad was going bad at the time and it's just gotten worse.
So, in fact, no. I don't have any regrets about it, and I think that, you know, like I said. Virginia has spoken, and Virginia has rebuked the entire agenda of the Trump administration.
BURNETT: All right. Well, Juli, I appreciate your time. Thanks so much.
BRISKMAN: Yes, thanks for having me.
BURNETT: Juli Briskman.
And next, Jeanne on the sure-fire way to jog your memory.
BURNETT: Tonight, Ambassador Gordon Sondland seems to have discovered a cure from memory loss. What could it be?
Well, of course, we put Jeanne on the case.
JEANNE MOOS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): If only we could all have what he's having -- the Gordon Sondland memory cure.
KIMMEL: He claims his memory was refreshed.
MOOS: Voices drip with skepticism.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He now remembers.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Amended. That's right, corrected.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: On Sondland's revision.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All of a sudden now, he remembers this? What's going on?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What do you think jogged his memory?
MOOS: Jail is the number one answer. The idea of using a stainless steel toilet every day does wonders to improve the memory.
KIMMEL: Maybe taking omega-3 supplements or something? They say those are very effective against perjury. So --
MOOS: In his updated declaration, Sondland used terms like, refreshed my recollection, and I now do recall.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is quite a refresh of your memory.
MOOS: Equally refreshing the snarky headlines. Oh, that pro quo. Yes, now I remember.
Someone demonstrated the exact moment his memory was refreshed. It was a reference to the Tommy Lee Jones line from "The Fugitive."
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Here to revise your statement, sir?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do want to change your bull (EXPLETIVE DELETED) story, sir?
MOOS: Ambassador Sondland denied changing anything.
GORDON SONDLAND, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO E.U.: I didn't change my testimony but I can't answer any questions.
MOOS: He was chased by a couple protesters down an escalator at Portland International Airport.
PROTESTERS: Taylor and Sondland, tell the truth!
MOOS (on camera): Gordon Sondland had a Barbra Streisand moment when he refreshed all of those --
BARBRA STREISAND, SINGER (singing): -- misty water-colored memories
MOOS: Of the way his testimony was.
Jeanne Moos, CNN --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Memories
MOOS: -- New York.
BURNETT: You know, escalator moments go with this administration's before we go a programming note. We have a special CNN presidential town hall that is coming up Monday night. I'm going to be sitting down with Joe Biden. He is going to be taking questions from voters. Don't miss that. It is Monday night. It will be at 9:00 Eastern, only right here on CNN.
Thanks so much for call of you joining us. Don't forget, you can watch OUTFRONT anytime. You just have to go to CNN Go.
Right now, have a great night.
"AC360" with Anderson Cooper begins right now.