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Adam Schiff: The Most Important Facts Are Largely Not Contested; Rep. Meadows: Republicans Are Not Struggling To Defend Trump; First Public Hearings On Impeachment Set For Next Week; Turnout Up In Kentucky Compared To Four Years Back; Election Night Lessons In Kentucky, Virginia And Pennsylvania. Aired 12-12:30p ET

Aired November 6, 2019 - 12:00   ET




JOHN KING, CNN HOST: Thank you Kate. Welcome to INSIDE POLITICS. I'm John King. Thank you for sharing your day with us. Big impeachment inquiry news, Democrats announce public hearings beginning next week. Up first, key diplomats, who in private testimony offers damning takes on a Ukraine policy they say was corrupted by the President's personal political vendettas and by his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani.

Plus, another big Trump era election night for Democrats, the Democrats now poised to seize the Kentucky Governor's office. They flipped the Virginia legislature and local posts across the Philadelphia suburbs. Turnout was upmost everywhere suggesting a highly energized electorate heading into the presidential year.

And more 2020 lessons, the suburban revolt against Trumpism deepens, making the President's state by state path to victory even more narrow next year than it was in 2016. Pennsylvania is a case study, but harder does not mean impossible given the President's fiercely loyal base.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is there anything that he could do or anything that could happen that would make you not vote for him?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If he shot someone on 5th Avenue would you vote for him?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You have to know why did he shoot him.


KING: Back to elections a bit later in the program. We begin the hour with big news in the impeachment inquiry. The Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee Adam Schiff a short time ago announcing the first two public impeachment hearings, next Wednesday November 13th and next Friday November 15th. Schiff says there will be two Wednesday witnesses William Taylor and George Kent then on Friday Marie Yovanovitch the Former Ambassador to Ukraine. Schiff calls these witnesses important building blocks as the Democrats now take their case public.


REP. ADAM SCHIFF, (D-CA): I think you will see throughout the course of the testimony not only their testimony but many others the most important facts are largely not contested. We are getting an increasing appreciation for just what took place during the course of the last year and the degree to which the President enlisted whole departments of government in the elicit aim of trying to get Ukraine to dig up dirt on a political opponent.


KING: Chairman Schiff also telling reporters he will release later today the transcript of Ambassador Taylor's private testimony. Let's get straight up to CNN's Phil Mattingly up on Capitol Hill. Phil, a big day as the Democrats here turns the page and goes from private testimony to public hearings.

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's exactly right. I'll kind of start from the big picture and then zero in on the nuts and bolts this all going to work. The big picture is this when you look at the witness list for the first two hearings George Kent, William Taylor on Wednesday, Marie Yovanovitch scheduled on Friday.

You're going to see and Schiff eluded to this Democrats attempt to paint a picture of a government that's essentially gone rogue when it comes to Ukraine having individuals that were not in government running a policy that was not aligned with necessarily where the government's foreign policy officially was.

The push to oust Yovanovitch in Ukraine as well as Rudy Giuliani the President's personal lawyer's role throughout all of this kind of working on the sidelines and undercutting what career diplomats were attempting to do. That's what you're going to see in those first two hearings. William Taylor's testimony obviously everybody is keen on watching given what he testified behind closed doors last week.

We'll also see as you noted the full scale of that deposition released later today. Now when it comes to the hearings itself, couple of thing here need to keep an eye on. Based on the resolution the House passed last week before they left for recess, Republicans now have 72 hours to propose their own witnesses minority witnesses to join those hearings. It will be interesting to see who they propose? What their strategy is on that front?

When it comes to the hearings themselves, a key wrinkle that I think is going to be very, very important to watch. Based on that resolution, the first 90 minutes of each hearing are split evenly between Chairman Schiff and the Ranking Member Devin Nunes or whoever Republicans have as their Ranking Member and they are able to yield their time to a staff member. It will not go up and down the committee in 5-minute caps on things, people would be able to ask questions as long as they want so long it's even and they can delegate to a staff member. It should make for a very interesting hearing and a hearing with a more kind of conclusive thread as to what people are going for in their questioning.

So keep an eye on that. Keep an eye on who Republicans want to propose and obviously keep an eye on the big pictures. As you noted, this is move into the public phase. This is moving fast. Democrats know the public hearings are crucial to public sentiment. That's what they're going for next week. John.

KING: Stakes for everybody going up today including the President and those on Capitol Hill. Phil Mattingly, appreciate the live reporting come back if there are more developments in the hours. With me here in studio to share their reporting and their insights, CNN's Nia-Malika Henderson Rachael Bade with "The Washington Post" NPR's Tamara Keith and Vivian Salama with "The Wall Street Journal".

Stakes are higher for everybody. Now we're going to go public here and the Chairman in announcing this witness list, Mr. Taylor, Mr. Kent and Ambassador Yovanovitch, Democrats are trying to - if you again, I don't want to - this but think about whether law and order watching a TV crime drama where you try to build your case.

Part of that is the factual evidence. Part of that is getting the jury's attention. Are the Democrats ready to bring this public in a way that captivates the American people at a time the country's pretty evenly divided on the question of should you be doing this?

RACHAEL BADE, CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: Yes, I mean, they've had a parade of witnesses coming in to testify that there was a quid pro quo both on military aid and also a Head of State meeting with the President of Ukraine and that this was all contingent on an investigation.


BADE: I mean these three people they're talking about for next week they each speak to a different sort of piece or chapter of this saga. The first one Yovanovitch she was the Ambassador who was sort of sidelined because she was fighting corruption and that went cross wise with what Giuliani was doing and trying to take up dirt on the President's opponents.

I mean, George Kent was the one who testified that there were, "Three amigos who were put in charge of Ukraine policy" even although experts like himself where the people that actually knew the nuts and bolts of Ukraine and could speak to that. And then Bill Taylor, remember he was the first person to say there was a quid pro quo on military aid specifically. And that really just cracked everything wide open and so he is going to be somebody to watch.

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: Yes, I mean, if you're Republican, you obviously see some flaws in some of these folks. In way to for instance George Kent he raised concerns about Hunter Biden. Bill Taylor never had any direct conversations with this President.

So there are ways I think if you're a Republican you can try to impeach some of these folks' testimony if not their credibility. We've seen them try to do that with Bill Taylor, with other folks, essentially saying these are never Trumpers. These are people who were out to get the President deep state kind of figures and will see how that goes. You imagine they will try to do some of that as well. But some of these folks will have I think areas where Republicans can score some points.

KING: And that's a key point in the sense that this gets even more complicated now in the sense that you're going to have the public testimony come forward, which the facts should be what matters most, to those listening at home and anywhere the facts, what actually happened here? But how the facts come out and whether they are challenged and how they're challenged or how they're connected if the Democrats can make a compelling case is based on the quality of the people running this?

If you read the transcripts that have been release so far, if I were the President of the United States, I would be a little nervous because his Republican allies have not been so we said the sharpest tools in the shed, in their questioning of some of these witnesses. So are they ready as this go public?

You mentioned Mr. Kent for example. On the one hand, Republicans can try to challenge him, you're the guy who did complain during the Obama Administration about should Joe Biden be in charge of Ukraine policy when Hunter Biden has some business dealings here. You can try to impugn him that way or you can say there is a guy who was clearly a straight shooter. He raised his hand during the Obama Administration when he saw somebody didn't like and now he is raising his hand the Trump Administration when he see something he didn't like.

TAMARA KEITH, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, NPR: In some ways, I think what Republicans are going to try to do and what they have been trying to do is to say, you know, these are just disagreements. This is a matter of opinion. Their opinion is that these things were problematic. The Republicans' opinion is maybe they weren't problematic. The President can do what he wants can foreign policy. Why weren't these people following the President's wishes?

KING: Right. It is a key point. Again, to Phil's point that Phil Mattingly made who do they call? Do the Republicans bring in other people? Who would those people be? Would they be witnesses who have said no to congressional subpoenas are on the President to may be give a more loyalist take, if you will. But as this comes out Bill Taylor as you think about this as the building blocks.

They're trying to make the case what happened? And then the Democrats say it was corrupt and abuse of power. What happened comes from Bill Taylor? There was an irregular foreign channel of U.S. policy making with respect to Ukraine one which included then special envoy Kurt Volker, Ambassador Sondland, Secretary of Energy Rick Perry and as I subsequently learned Mr. Giuliani. The as I subsequently learned Mr. Giuliani is going to be central to this case because to your point, the Democrats can't argue the President doesn't have a right to have an unorthodox foreign policy.

The Democrats can not argue the President doesn't have a right to put whoever he wants in charge of said policy. The dots the Democrats need to connect is to show that Giuliani was working counter to the administration policy, which was to bolster this new government, stand up to Russia and that he was making money on the side while he was apparently doing the President's bidding in Ukraine.

VIVIAN SALAMA, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: Thus far we've had a lot of people raising concern about the role of Giuliani but actually know what he was up to. That was actually one of the major problems, is that a lot of people didn't know what he was up to and how he was conducting business? The White House has completely dismissed it and said you know what? This is just the President's way of doing foreign policy. He can assign whoever he wants.

Mick Mulvaney told us that at the podium a couple of weeks ago in a big press conference that he gave that he can do that. I think the bigger challenge for Democrats and something that the Republicans are going to latch onto is actually connecting this to the President. Apart from the transcript that we have where he does ask the President of Ukraine to investigate Biden and Burisma and you know what we've seen and that's now in public domain, to actually get a quid pro quo coming out of the President's mouth.

The circle has been closing in increasingly on Ambassador Sondland because now we've had numerous people testifying that he has been directly engaged in that. But to have those words coming out of the President's mouth, so far we don't have that.

KING: And that's why the aids who have not - who have refused initially the White House tried to stop everybody, a lot of State Department people, some National Security Council people came forward in the last week, they haven't successful in getting people who work closely with Mick Mulvaney who the Acting Chief of State who was key to this. Why was the money held up? When was it held up? What did the President say when he told you to hold that money?


KING: We have not had that on the record yet. Again, from the building blocks or so here's Ambassador Yovanovitch in her private testimony. Ukrainians were wondering whether I was going to be leaving, whether we really represented the President, U.S. policy, et cetera. And so I think you know, it was really kind of cut the ground out from underneath us. She is referring there to Giuliani's efforts to undermine the U.S. Ambassador.

So again, is that just the presentation to which Republicans can say, yes, maybe the President was mean to his Ambassador, but he's different. This is how he does things or can they connect it to corruption and abuse? HENDERSON: Yes, that's the big problem. You hear a lot of people talk about Giuliani. Sondland for instance seemed to kind of throw Giuliani under the bus. Again, connecting it to the President has been something they've been unable to do. If you read the transcript as those T-Shirts say in this the President wants you to do, he is saying that Giuliani is his point person in all of this stuff and all of this stuff has to do with in part military aid and in part getting a meeting at the White House and certainly the DNC server as well as Burisma in Hunter Biden and Joe Biden.

So listen, you know I think Democrats in some ways hung everything on Mueller last go round. We remember what happened with the Mueller testimony. They're hoping that this kind of line-up, this kind of murderer's row of folks who are sharp, have the details are experts in the subject matter will be very different than Mueller was.

BADE: I mean one more point if we have time on this point that you guys are making I mean, I was just on the Hill and there were three Republicans coming and going out of the skiff. All three of them made the point that Sondland couldn't tell investigates how he knew there was a military aid quid pro quo. He couldn't say if Trump was the one who told him, did Mulvaney tell him. He just assumed it. And so this is a point I do think that there was--

HENDERSON: He wouldn't say.

SALAMA: Wouldn't.

KEITH: Couldn't.

KING: Yes, wouldn't couldn't - that's the challenge as you take it public they're going to have to connect the dots in a compelling way to keep them - now that's about the American people not just about the conversation in Washington much more on this developing story when we come back. Again the Democrats announcing today public impeachment hearings will begin next week.



KING: More now on the day's big breaking news off Capitol Hill related to the impeachment inquiry. The Democratic Chairman of the Intelligence Committee Adam Schiff announcing last hour the Democrats will begin public impeachment inquiry hearings next week, three witnesses, two on Wednesday and one on Friday of next week.

These are all diplomats part of the building blocks of a case the Democrats say proves the President had a corrupt foreign policy in Ukraine and abused his power in letting his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani undermined U.S. National Security interest.

That's the Democrats' case. Republicans say increasingly as we move into this next phase, yes, they've had a chance to question the witnesses in private. Now they will have a chance in public. Listen here one of the President's big defenders on Capitol Hill Congressman Mark Meadows of South Carolina saying we're not worried.


REP. MARK MEADOWS, (R-NC): The Republicans are not struggling on anything. Actually as we hear more testimony, in fact the testimony that we're hearing today, it's actually getting easier to defend the President from a standpoint there is no linkage between aide.


KING: That's what they say publicly. When you talk to Republicans privately, I want to be very careful here in the sense that there are some differences of opinion or at least Republicans are going to argue there are differences of interpretation when we go forward.

The question is, can they do that successfully in a public setting when you have these very credible, very experienced, very meticulous note taking diplomats at the table saying here's how it happened? Is that public spin or are they really confident that they can make a case that this was okay? Maybe not the way most people would do it, but this was okay?

BADE: I feel like just from reading the transcripts and sort of looking at the Republican questioning behind closed doors, it really seems like they're throwing spaghetti at the wall and trying to see what sticks. I mean, they have been asking witnesses about various conspiracy theories that GOP sort of used to try to say Russia didn't interfere in the 2016 election because the President obviously is very sore on that subject.

It seems like right now at least after Sondland made this amendment to his statement they're really going to be latching onto this point about him saying he sort of assumed that military aid was linked in some way to what they were trying to do in terms of leveraging an investigation with Ukraine.

So I wouldn't be surprised if you hear over and over again in these sort of questioning in the public hearings did President Trump ever tell you he held up aid for this reason? Did you hear this from the President's mouth? I think we're going to see that line of questioning going forward.

KING: That is why the inside the White House witnesses, could it be John Bolton, could they ever get Mick Mulvaney, is it Colonel Vindman who gave very compelling testimony? Is there somebody who has this part of information yes or no who can either connect those dots or dependably say those dots cannot be connected?

But to the point that Republicans trying things to grasp on to here's something Kurt Volker - the challenge here is going to be if you read one transcript, both sides can find something they like in most cases. The question is can you put together a compelling case with all of the witnesses. But in the case of Kurt Volker, who was the President's Special Enjoy to Ukraine, he did say this in the transcript release of his testimony. You asked about what conversations did I have about that quid pro quo, et cetera. None, because I didn't know that there was a quid pro quo. That's Kurt Volker. If you are a defender of the President, you like that statement. And so if you're Jim Jordan, one of his chief defenders on Capitol Hill, you're asking the American people to read that and nothing else.



REP. JIM JORDON (R-OH): The definitive account on all of this is one from Ambassador Volker.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why is he definitive?

JORDON: He was the Special Envoy to Ukraine. He was the guy who was in this each and every day working on these issues. That's the one transcript y'all don't want to talk about but it's the guy that our first witness.

REP. SCOTT PERRY, (R-PA): Some were leaving, some were about to leave, some at just come into the situation, some had preconceived notions. Regardless, he seems to be the one honest broker.


KING: They're being smart lawyers, if you will. They want to defend the President. They're seizing on something that - it's very smart of them. But if your read the whole transcript and if this is just Volker there are other witnesses too. Volker also goes on to say the negative narrative about Ukraine which Mr. Giuliani was the problem. It was in my view, it was impeding our ability to build the relationship the way we should be doing.

SALAMA: Well, the President actually went out and thanked Ambassador Volker for his comments as well that felt a little bit vindicated by it. This is the gamble when you get into public hearings is that a lot of times. The Democrats are going to want a smoking gun. They're going to want a sort of made for TV blockbuster moment.

Similar to the Mueller investigation when Robert Mueller came out, did they get some of the answers they wanted? Yes. Was it the big blockbuster they had hoped for that could really sway public opinion? No. And so they go into this process also with a little bit of that concern and Republicans are definitely going to seize on it too and say if those word have come out of their mouth, then we have no case here.

KING: Who has the best lawyers, is going to be part of this. There are the facts and then there is the presentation of facts will back to this. Up next for us though, some major election night warning signs for Republicans as we head closer every day into 2020.



KING: A big election night last night across America beginning with the race a lot of people are paying attention to today, the Governor's race in the State of Kentucky. The Democrat has now declared victory in that state. CNN has not called the race, because the margin is very close, but it does look like Andy Beshear will be the next Governor of Kentucky defeating the Republican incumbent Matt Bevin that despite the fact President Trump went down for a rally just before.

That despite the fact, turnout was enormous in this race. Matt Bevin getting nearly 200,000 more votes than he got when he won the job four years ago but the Democratic turnout trumping him if you will to bare a phrase. Andy Beshear looks like he is on a track, how did it happen? It happened remember 2018? We've been watching this pattern big Democratic wins in the urban areas but not just the urban areas stretching out into the suburbs.

There's a suburban revolt against Republicans in the trump era. We saw it in Kentucky last night. We saw it over in Lexington as well big margin for the Democrat. What happens when you can run it blue in the city and the suburbs, it helps you offset all that red which is the smaller Republican counties.

More suburbs up here Cincinnati Ohio was right here. These suburbs in Northern Kentucky going for the Democrats a more narrow margin here but if you go back in time Matt Bevin won them in 2015. If you go little forward in time to the presidential race, Donald Trump won them in 2016. Since the trump election, the suburbs are going blue in a big way. We're seeing that not just in Kentucky last night.

I'm going to bring you up a map from 2016. These are the House races. We don't have the Virginia legislative races last night here in the magic wall, but I can show you the state of Virginia. Much like in these House districts in the Richmond suburbs in the DC suburbs last night, the Democrats were so successful they flipped both the Virginia House and the Virginia Senate. That has not happened in a generation.

Move back up to the Philadelphia suburbs. Again, a region critical to the Democrats in the 2018 elections, a lot of local races here just outside of Philadelphia in Bucks County, in Chester County, Democrats winning races in some cases holding seats now they hadn't held since the civil war, a suburban revolt that will carry over into 2020 calculations and the suburban revolt that has Andy Beshear and Kentucky today quite happy. He says ready to get to work.


ANDY BESHEAR, (D) KENTUCKY GOVERNOR CANDIDATE: This isn't about politics anymore. That ended last night. This is about being the best Governor that I can be for the people of Kentucky. It's about changing the tone we have heard in frank for the last four years. No more us versus them, no more this side or that side. This is about focusing on those core issues. I'm done with running for office. It's now time to govern.

(END VIDEO CLIP) KING: Smart message from the likely winner again other organizations have called this race, CNN we're just cautious we're going to let it play out but it sure looks like he will be the next Governor which is embarrassing for the President. He went down there on the eve of the election. I don't want to over put the blame here on the President.

Matt Bevin was a controversial, unpopular Governor but the President went down thinking he could pull him over the finish line and he could not. Here is what jumps out at me I mentioned it a little bit over there. Look at 2015, Matt Bevin wins with 511,000 vote's right there. In 2019 Matt Bevin got 704,520 votes, it wasn't enough.

And if you talk to people about Virginia last night, if you talk to people about the Philadelphia suburbs last night, people are coming out to vote on both sides. You have a highly energized election which is weird in the odd number year and it tells you people want to play and it tells you watch out--

HENDERSON: And we saw this in 2018 with midterms. People excited on both sides. This is obviously a banner year for Democrats in 2018 and this some ways as a continuation of the trends we saw there.