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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

Witnesses: Hold on Ukraine Aid Came From Mulvaney; Rep. Denny Heck (D-WA) is Interviewed About the Ongoing Impeachment Inquiry; White House Officials Testify Trump Chief of Staff Mulvaney Coordinated Ukraine Quid Pro Quo; Michael Bloomberg Files To Run In A 2020 Democratic Primary. Aired on 8-9p ET

Aired November 8, 2019 - 20:00   ET

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


[20:00:19]

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening. John Berman here, in for Anderson.

Tonight, Mick Mulvaney in the middle, right in the middle, and that might be a very uncomfortable place to be.

The job of the White House chief of staff is to implement the president's policy. And new testimony released today says it was Mick Mulvaney implementing the policy of pressuring Ukraine for the president's own political gain.

Newly released transcripts from two top national security aides in the White House now tie Mick Mulvaney to a direct role in what has been called a quid pro quo, others call the shakedown, some call the bribery, at the heart of the impeachment inquiry. This on the day that Mulvaney ignored a subpoena and skipped his deposition on Capitol Hill. Both Fiona Hill and Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman say the president's ambassador to the E.U., Gordon Sondland, told them during a July meeting that he had spoken to Mulvaney and that there would be no meeting between the two heads of state, nor military aid for Ukraine without, quote, investigations.

Colonel Vindman said, quote: The hold came from the chief of staff's office. Hill said, quote, we were told that it actually came as a direction from the chief of staff's office. Colonel Vindman called the administration's expectations of Ukraine, quote, a deliverable. And Ambassador Sondland's meeting, he said, quote, there was no doubt.

He also said this of Sondland, quote: He was calling for something, calling for an investigation that didn't exist into the Bidens and Burisma. Hill says her superior, then national security adviser John Bolton, called this a, quote, improper arrangement.

Also new today, Bolton's lawyer in a letter to Congress made clear his client has extensive knowledge about relevant meetings and conversations that could be important for the impeachment inquiry, but that he won't testify until and unless a federal judge rules on whether he must comply with a congressional subpoena. Here to discuss all of this is Congressman Denny Heck, a member of the

Intelligence Committee which conducted the closed-door hearings and which next week will begin the public phase of the impeachment inquiry.

Congressman Heck, thank you very much for being with us.

These transcripts and the statements from Fiona Hill and Lieutenant Colonel Vindman, do you think this brings this all closer to the president himself?

REP. DANNY HECK (D-WA): I don't think there's any doubt about it. First of all, John, I served with Mick Mulvaney for several years in the House of Representatives. I know Mick. There is no doubt in my mind whatsoever that he never would have implemented this had it not been at the direction of the president.

And, secondly, I have a bit of a unique perspective. I'm a former chief of staff myself for Governor Booth Gardner out here in Washington state. I guarantee you, no chief of staff is going to implement anything of that importance without direction from their principal, and in this case the president of the United States.

But let's be clear and let's be correct in our terminology, John. He's the acting chief of staff, and frankly I'm not very sure or confident he's going to be the acting chief of staff much longer because I think what's about to happen here is that he and Ambassador Sondland and perhaps Rudy Giuliani are all about to get thrown under the bus.

BERMAN: OK. You bring up "The Washington Post" report, which does suggest that Rudy Giuliani, Mick Mulvaney, and Ambassador Sondland might be treated as fall guys from some supporters of the president. In your mind, you just said that doesn't hold any water.

Why?

HECK: Because, again, it defies credibility that the president's personal lawyer, a large donor who had ready access to the president -- that's what Ambassador Sondland did -- and his acting chief of staff would be carrying out these kinds of important acts without the direction of the president of the United States. It just defies credibility.

And that's even before you consider the fact that of course we have the president's own confession in the form of the memorandum of call between himself and president Zelensky in which he actually attempted to shake down the president of Ukraine, clearly, explicitly, inarguably.

BERMAN: Having read the transcripts of what Colonel Vindman and Fiona Hill said, neither of them said they heard directly from Mick Mulvaney about this. They say they heard from Sondland, who heard from Mulvaney.

What's the significance of that? HECK: So, John, here we are. You can either believe that all of

these people that came forward, mostly career diplomats, people across federal agencies, across continents -- all of these people who have come forward and given depositions, every one of which has in every material way corroborated one another in their narrative and the set of facts that they've brought to light -- you can either believe they're not telling the truth and somehow conspiratorially, they all got together, they all contrived all of this.

[20:05:03]

They crossed the T's and dots the I's. You can believe they did that, or you can believe, which frankly I think is common sense, a lot likelier to be case -- the president's lying.

BERMAN: Mick Mulvaney received a subpoena to testify today. He skipped it. Obviously, I'm sure you would like to hear from him directly what he has to say about it. But now that he hasn't shown up, your committee isn't going to fight it in court. Why not?

HECK: We're not going to play rope-a-dope. That's another delaying tactic on their part. They'd like to see this extended for months if not years. It's a tried and true play out of the president's playbook even when he was in the private sector. What he would do with the subcontractors, litigate them into oblivion.

But secondly, we don't need it. There's a mountain of evidence against the president beginning with, of course, his own confession, which again acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney signed in the form of that press conference in which he acknowledged that there was a quid pro quo, bribery, this for that, and the texts and the testimony of all of these people we've deposed. They all point to the president.

BERMAN: John Bolton, who was the national security adviser, his lawyer wrote a letter to Congress today saying that Bolton knows many relevant things that happened. He was part of many relevant meetings and, if he did testify, would have things to say that would shed more light in all of this.

Do you have any idea what he means? And I want to remind you and our viewers that he defied a subpoena to go testify.

HECK: Well, actually we didn't issue the subpoena, John.

BERMAN: Correct. Sorry. I misspoke. You invited him, and he didn't show up, and he made clear that he would defy the subpoena if it was issued.

HECK: Right. And I'd like to think frankly that ambassador Bolton would come forward.

I think frankly, John, it's the patriotic thing to do. He's acknowledged that he has relevant information. I think his responsibility and his duty as a citizen to share it with us and with the American public. And in fact I wish that he would take a page out of the book of two of

the people that work for him, Colonel Vindman and Dr. Fiona Hill, who had the courage to come forward and share with the committee, speak truth to power about what went on here. But, again, we're not going to play rope-a-dope. We're not going to subject ourselves to month after month after month of a protracted legal battle.

BERMAN: I do want to ask about the testimony in the deposition transcripts that have been released because you can look at this as if there are two buckets. There is one bucket which is did it happen. And then there's the other bucket of is it impeachable. The "did it happen" bucket is overflowing at this point based on the deposition. You have this, what you describe as a mountain of evidence about what took place. The "is it impeachable" bucket, how do you intend to prove that next week when these hearings go public?

HECK: So, John, that decision is really one of a matter of conscience of each of the 435 members of the House and the 100 members of the Senate. That's a question of them engaging in personal reflection and, I dare say, prayerful reflection about what is at stake here.

If you believe that the president's shaking down Ukraine, threatening to withhold critical military assistance to a vulnerable ally, a vulnerable strategic ally in Ukraine, who is trained to combat Russian aggression -- and let's remember that there are 13,000 Ukrainians who have lost their lives on their homeland soil defending themselves against Russian aggression. If you believe that that betrayal of his oath of office and that abuse of power is impeachable, then you'll get to yes.

But it's up to each of the 435 members to consider the fact. But you're right. I mean there is a mountain of evidence, and it is inarguable, and yet the president has not acknowledged it in any way, shape, or form, nor anyone around him. I'd like for us to get to the point where the debate was. Is it or is it not impeachable, but it is a fact.

BERMAN: Congressman Denny Heck, thanks for being with us tonight. I appreciate it.

HECK: Thank you, John.

BERMAN: For more on Mick Mulvaney's role in all this, I want to bring in CNN chief legal analyst and former federal prosecutor, Jeffrey Toobin, and CNN political analyst and "New York Times" White House correspondent, Maggie Haberman.

Thank you both for being here.

Maggie, just based on what you know about how this White House works and what Mick Mulvaney's role is in it, does he freelance -- would he freelance on something of this importance?

MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I'm loathe to speculate without having actual details about this instance, but what we do know is in the past, Mulvaney has not been known to go do things well outside of what the president is aware of. We certainly know that -- we knew even before all of this testimony that he was involved in terms of directing the freeze on the aid, that he was acting on orders from the president. That's basically what we knew.

[20:10:00]

Now we have heard his name come up repeatedly in testimony and given the fact that this was going on over a period of many months, these conversations, it is hard to imagine that this was all happening, you know, with Mulvaney on his own and the president was unaware. Mulvaney is going to be a key witness, as you said, for Congress to come before them. I don't know that that's going to happen, but he holds the answers to a lot of this.

BERMAN: The saying has always been, Mick Mulvaney wants to let Trump be Trump. It's never let Mick be Mick. I mean, Mick Mulvaney's role in there is to implement Donald Trump's policy and wishes and whims.

HABERMAN: Right. I mean, he -- that is certainly how he has described his own role. I think there might be times where he is pushing back more than he says, but there's certainly nothing that I have heard so far -- more might come out, but nothing that I have heard that suggests he was trying to stop this or suggested to the president, this is a bad idea.

Remember, John, one of the things we don't have an answer to still is who came up with this idea to freeze the aid. Where did this actually come from? Did this come from Giuliani? Did this come from Mulvaney? Did this come from Trump?

I could see Trump saying, you know what, we send too much money and doing it that way. That's sort of what Mulvaney, frankly, had suggested in that White House briefing that he did. Look, the president has questions all the time about sending aid to certain places. So, we have to see.

BERMAN: In fact, you point out the one time we have heard Mick Mulvaney talk about this extensively, he more or less said or less, said, yes, yes, this all happened, Jeffrey.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: At his famous/infamous press conference a couple of weeks ago.

You know, I think the Democrats are making a choice here which I don't know is necessarily the right choice. There are two witnesses who could really talk about what Donald Trump himself said about the relationship with Ukraine because they are the ones who saw him every day. Remember, the Republican defense here is that all these lower- level witnesses are just hearsay witnesses, where you have Mick Mulvaney, the chief of staff, and John Bolton, the national security adviser.

And both of them have refused to testify so far. Their legal position is somewhat different, but in fact, they have said they're not going to testify, you know, absent a court order. As you heard from Congressman Heck, they're not going to court. They

simply think they have enough without these two witnesses. Maybe they do. Maybe they don't.

I don't know. That's a big sacrifice to give up those two witnesses.

BERMAN: He says -- Denny Heck says we're not going to play rope-a- dope.

TOOBIN: He said that four times. I don't know --

(CROSSTALK)

BERMAN: It's timing. It's timing. You go to court. This is weeks or months.

HABERMAN: Yes.

TOOBIN: It is. Obviously, it's all --

(CROSSTALK)

BERMAN: In their mind.

TOOBIN: Well, you know, but you could also do two things at once. You could pursue this case while you are -- I mean the Intelligence Committee hearing is next week and probably the week after. You're going to have hearings before the Judiciary Committee sometime later in December.

I don't know why you give up on these witnesses without even trying to expedite a court hearing. I mean, maybe it is too slow, and maybe they're too risky. I mean, maybe they think these witnesses will turn on them. I just think if you want to know the facts, you would really want to hear from Mulvaney and Bolton.

BERMAN: You know, on the very day that there are a lot of fingers pointing in the direction of Mick Mulvaney, there's a story in "The Washington Post" that would suggest that some Republicans might make Mulvaney, Giuliani, Sondland the fall guys here.

HABERMAN: We talked about that this morning, and I've been --

BERMAN: We were on TV together this morning.

HABERMAN: When I called you in the morning -- no, when we were on television this morning, and I've been thinking about it a lot since we talked about it. I do think there is a muddying of the waters strategy that this White House has been effective at using. We saw them use it during the Mueller investigation. We've seen them use it through all sorts of other controversies where their basic supposition and it's proven right over and over again is people aren't really pay -- voters aren't paying that much attention to the details so if we just handle it that way, it's OK.

It's so much harder to do that here. There's the president on -- in the transcript of the call with Zelensky, and one thing I'm really struck by, which is that Giuliani -- this didn't get looked at much, but Giuliani when he tweeted that he had hired a lawyer, he tweeted right before he tweeted the name of the lawyer -- lawyers that he was doing this essentially at the direction of his client.

That was very specific wording. That was not, you know, in the general interests of my client. That was leading it right back to the president.

So I think this is going to get more complicated than they might anticipate.

BERMAN: Let's talk about John Bolton for a second, Jeffrey, because you brought him up also. The national security adviser. This, to me, strange and tantalizing, but strange because it's tantalizing from Bolton's lawyer saying he's got relevant things to say if you want to go have a judge say he has to testify.

Why dangle that? I don't understand why he's dangling that in front of Congress?

TOOBIN: Well, you know, he is in a different legal position than the lower-level White House aides who have testified.

[20:15:03]

I mean, you know, if the executive privilege exists at all, it probably does exist for people at the level of national security adviser and chief of staff.

And so, Charles Cooper, his lawyer, who is someone who is very knowledgeable about these subjects -- I mean, he has said, look, you know, we just want a court to decide this. We don't want to be in the position of making this decision. We will abide by whatever the courts decide.

Now, he could simply take a risk and just go ahead and testify, but he doesn't want to do that. I -- it's an unusual legal strategy. You know, lawyers call it interpleader where you basically say, I'll do whatever you want, judge, but I'm not following -- I'm not taking a position. That's where he's going, but in fact, the way the Democrats are proceeding, it means he's not going to testify.

BERMAN: But you could do all those things legally, Maggie, without this letter announcing to the world I know things. That's the part that seems strange to me.

HABERMAN: I had the same reaction you do. I don't understand the significance from a legal perspective of him doing that. I do think perhaps -- and I'm guessing here, but I think it puts the White House and the president on some notice, reminding them that he knows a lot that he could be sharing. I think, you know, again, to go back to what we say about Giuliani and Mulvaney, it's not lost on them all that they could become scapegoats and I suspect they are going to make clear why that isn't so.

BERMAN: All right. Maggie, Jeffrey, stand by. Much more to discuss.

We have President Trump's reaction to the steady drumbeat of testimony that was released this week, and we're going to talk to an adviser to four different presidents, Republican and Democratic, about the role that presidents' chiefs of staff play in all of this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[20:21:00]

BERMAN: Mick Mulvaney, the president's chief of staff, under fire tonight. Two national security aides have testified he put the hold -- he put the hold on both the military aid for Ukraine and a meeting between the two heads of state. Their source, the U.S. ambassador to the E.U., Gordon Sondland.

He's not just a presidential appointee, though. He also gave a million dollars towards the president's inauguration. In fact, just last month on Twitter, the president called Ambassador Sondland, quote, a really good man and a great American.

Today, however, President Trump acted like he hardly knew the guy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REPORTER: Gordon Sondland said at the beginning of September, he presumed there was a quid pro quo. Then there was a telephone call to you on September the 9th. Had he ever talked to you prior to that telephone call?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Let me just tell you, I hardly know the gentleman.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: Back with us, Jeffrey Toobin and Maggie Haberman.

It was so predictable, Maggie, that this would happen. We saw this before with Paul Manafort, person after person.

HABERMAN: Michael Cohen, on and on.

BERMAN: Michael Cohen, barely know him, barely know him, barely know him. When does the president start to do with this people and what does it signify?

HABERMAN: Look, at minimum it signifies he does not want to suggest there's any proximity between the two where he would be willing to tell Sondland these things. He's trying to undermine Sondland's credibility which we saw him do with Manafort and Cohen when there were questions about what they knew and could testify to. It's never a good sign when that begins. I mean, usually when he says that about somebody, he rarely actually uses the phrase "I hardly know them." It's usually, "I've met them once, I don't know them well." He actually said it. I don't think that bodes well. I don't know how significant it is in

the grand scheme of thing because what Sondland's done already is amend his testimony. I think he's said what he's going to say. So --

BERMAN: But it was only after he amended his testimony --

HABERMAN: Yes.

BERMAN: -- that President Trump used that phrase that only a bad screenwriter would use. I mean, normally, you don't use something that explicit.

HABERMAN: He uses it again. I think he uses it when he is trying to suggest the person couldn't know what they're talking about because he always looks at it as who knows him personally, and that's how he describes it.

BERMAN: So, one person he has not used this with yet, Jeffrey, is Rudy Giuliani. Yet. I don't know if it's yet or ever. I mean, it will be difficult with Rudy Giuliani, but Giuliani every day finds himself more central to this. We've talked about how he hired lawyers because he had to.

TOOBIN: He should.

BERMAN: Yes.

TOOBIN: Yes. You know, I think it's possible to overstate his personal legal liability. You know, people say, oh, is Rudy going to be prosecuted by the U.S. attorney's office he used to run? You know, it's a very dramatic, you know, idea.

You know, if you look at Giuliani's behavior, you can say it's unethical. You can say it's improper. The number of actual possible criminal violations he's involved in seems to me almost none. I don't see the legal jeopardy he is in, possibly a failure to register as a lobbyist for Ukraine. Those cases have been rarely brought and even more rarely successfully brought.

I just -- you know, a lot of people are very mad at Rudy Giuliani, and they want to see the cops after him. I'm not sure there's anything there.

HABERMAN: That's definitely true, that I think a lot of people are doing some wish casting about what could be there. But I do think -- and you know this much better than I do, and we've seen this play out in the last few years, when federal prosecutors sort of get under the hood of somebody's finances, it can go to different places. And we saw that with Michael Cohen, and we saw that with any number of people who have been investigated in the last few years. So, I don't -- I don't think it is a good thing for him that he's being investigated by the Southern District. It just may not end the way people think.

BERMAN: Let me play a little more of what the president said on the lawn today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I'm not concerned about anything. The testimony has all been fine. It seems that nobody has any firsthand knowledge. There is no firsthand knowledge. But in no cases that I see have I been heard. In no cases that I see have I been heard.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: I want to talk about next week. The president says he's not concerned at all, yet this will be historic.

You know, we don't have public televised impeachment hearings very often in this country.

[20:25:05]

And I'm wondering, Maggie, how the White House views that heading into that.

HABERMAN: Look, there's a difference between the president and the White House on how they're viewing it. The White House is viewing it from sort of the fact-based, you know, practical. We've seen hearings that have blown up on the Democrats before. The Corey Lewandowski hearing didn't work out the way they wanted. Certainly, the Robert Mueller hearing didn't work out the way they wanted and the president is aware of those things.

But what Donald Trump is uniquely aware of in that White House is the impact of television on people watching it and how they will take in the information and how a good witness can be compelling. I don't think he's thrilled he has to go through with it. For a number of people who have been in touch with him, he is just sort of dreading all of this.

I think he tells himself this will be fine. He's trying to tell himself this is just another political fight he has to go through. But he knows the power of televised hearings can be compelling.

BERMAN: Jeffrey --

TOOBIN: Just one thing he said yesterday -- I mean earlier today, that you just showed, that I think you're going to hear a lot next week is, I didn't talk to these people. The leadoff witness is Ambassador Taylor. And as Taylor has acknowledged, he did not have one-on-one conversations with President Trump.

And that, I think, will be a major Republican talking point come Wednesday.

BERMAN: The Democrats in Congress -- our congressional team has done some reporting on this tonight-- is preparing for these hearings at a level they haven't done before, certainly more than the Mueller hearings. They're going to have counsel do the questioning here.

It does seem they're very aware of what Maggie describes as the TV moment that will be happening. TOOBIN: Absolutely. And if you know, you think all the way back to

Watergate, Sam Irvin was the chairman of the committee. It was one of the defining moments of the 1970s.

The 1998 Clinton hearings themselves weren't as dramatic. You didn't have John Dean or anyone equivalent. But, I mean, this is going to be one of the things Donald Trump's presidency is remembered for, the fact that impeachment hearings took place and these witnesses testified.

Now, does he get impeached? Does he get convicted? Does he get re- elected? Beats the hell out of me. I don't know.

But this is going to be a historical moment in this presidency.

BERMAN: And one as Maggie says he's keenly aware of. He knows TV. He'd probably watch those hearings for all we know, and knows what it was like.

HABERMAN: Well, he certainly -- I mean, he certainly watched the Watergate hearings. I have no idea.

But, I mean, he certainly watched the Mueller hearings. He's certainly watched parts of the Levandowski hearing. I mean, he will be paying attention to this.

BERMAN: All right. Maggie, Jeffrey, thank you for being with us tonight.

Coming up, more on the questions surrounding Mick Mulvaney. I'm going to see what David Gergen, who knows a lot about the realities inside a White House.

[20:30:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: As we mentioned at the top of the broadcast, a White House Chief of Staff is in charge of implementing White House policy, the President's policy. So we'll go to the transcripts released today, a testimony from two White House aides who point to President Trump's acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney as a focal. They say he made a great deal of maneuvering in Ukraine affair.

Who better to ask about all of this than David Gergen, who is he is served in four White Houses, both Republican and Democrat. He is CNN Senior Political Analyst. David, thanks so much for being with us.

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Thank you, John.

BERMAN: Look, generally speaking, in your vast experience, and I do mean that, vast experience inside these different administrations. Do chiefs of staff freelance typically? Do they do things on their own?

GERGEN: No, no, even the strongest chiefs of staff don't. And Mick Mulvaney is I think the weakest Chief of Staff in modern history. You know, he is still acting. Both of his predecessors were fired. The President makes it clear on many occasions that he makes all the decisions. Everybody reports to him. It doesn't really -- it really doesn't matter to him that a number of vacancies occur in government because he is the government.

And so, I think that Mick Mulvaney is in a situation where he would never go outside his lane. He would only -- he would act at the behest of the President.

Even strong Chiefs of Staff go to the President with a big issue. And Al Haig who had enormous power during the closing months of the Nixon administration where the President essentially was sort of off keel, and Haig had to hold things together. He would still go to the President.

Jim Baker who is I think was the most successful Chief of Staff in modern history working for Ronald Reagan. He would never go and act independently of Reagan. He would always go to the boss. He would also explore things with others.

So -- and one more thing, John. This decision about holding back money was a big deal. That's why so many people like, you know, Bolton, you know, were in revolt against it, the whole NSC staff opposed it, the state team over the state department opposed it.

The Chief of Staff is not going to make a decision, absent presidential direction of such weight and so controversial without taking it to the boss to start with. And so, I just think, of course, he got the information or he got the direction from the President. I just don't think there's can be any doubt that ultimately he did that.

And by the way, if he didn't, if he was a rogue player out there, he'd be gone by now. He'd be the scapegoat about all of this. We wouldn't be -- miss all these hearings.

[20:34:52]

BERMAN: So I'm not sure this was necessary or you think this was necessary to prove, but you see this as definitive proof now that the president was involved, was involved either directly or at least oversaw what has been described as a shakedown, forcing the Ukrainian leader to investigate the Bidens in order to get a meeting or in order to get this military aide?

GERGEN: All signals point to this, went into the Oval Office, that the President was deeply involved. There's no signal to the contrary.

I will say this, John, because I want to -- I want to reinforce something that Jeffrey -- an argument Jeffrey was making. The Republicans cleverly, I think have created a Catch-22 for the Democrats, and that is they're arguing, well, the president, there's nothing in any of these people that directly comes from the President. There's no evidence that the President ordered this. And these same Republicans in effect are blocking from testifying three men who know the truth, who know the full story that we've been denied. And that is obviously Mulvaney, obviously Bolton, but obviously Giuliani as well. And it's, you know, the Democrats I think have to fight harder to get their testimony. I think Jeffrey was right.

I don't understand the strategy they're on about saying, well, we'll just be rope-a-dope. They ought to be raising hell. So people when -- when the final report comes out and the Republicans argue, but you never proved it. You never proved it. They can say there's only one reason we didn't have a full story, and that is the key people wouldn't testify.

BERMAN: So that's one argument here is that, you don't have it directly, even though all fingers point in a certain direction.

GERGEN: Yes, yes.

BERMAN: The other argument that you've heard and I think you will hear again after all of this evidence is presented publicly that, which has been presented behind close door is, yes it happened. Yes, there is the evidence of all of this but it's not impeachable.

I'm just wondering if you think that the more evidence you have that it actually happened a certain way, if there's a point where that becomes an argument for it being impeachable?

GERGEN: I do think that if you get the full story, it's going to have a thuggish kind of quality, at least one or two major players. And it's going to reveal some things about the White House that sort of fit our darkest interpretations of what it's like inside this team, you know, so that it's important to get a more graphic story.

I thought, you know, one of the Taylor testimony, for example, which was the most important testimony we've heard so far, had a graphic quality to it that really made us understand how sort of ugly this situation was.

BERMAN: And William Taylor will be the very first public witness in the impeachment inquiry televised next Wednesday.

GERGEN: Yes.

BERMAN: David Gergen, thanks so much for being with us this evening.

GERGEN: John, can I make one last point, one brief point? Yes. One of the reasons I think the Democrats have got to pay attention right now is, there is some slippage in national support for an impeachment. It's small, but it's gone from slightly above 50 percent to slightly below 50 percent.

GERGEN: That is something I know they are watching tonight. David Gergen, thanks for being with us.

GERGEN: Thank you, John.

BERMAN: We do have breaking news, Michael Bloomberg files for a 2020 democratic primary. Does this mean he's definitely running? (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[20:40:00]

BERMAN: Breaking News. Michael Bloomberg just filed to run in the Alabama Democratic presidential primary. The billionaire and former New York City mayor will also file for the Arkansas Democratic primary before Tuesday's deadline. This is according to a Bloomberg spokesman who also says Bloomberg has yet to make a final decision on a run.

What we do know is that Bloomberg is worried that the current Democratic candidates can't beat President Trump. Here's what Joe Biden had to say about that today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Michael is a solid guy. And let's see where it goes. I have no problem with him getting in the race. And in terms of he's running because of me, last polls I looked at I'm pretty far ahead.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: Earlier, I spoke about the potential Bloomberg run with Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BERMAN: Mr. Chairman, you spoke with Michael Bloomberg last night. What did you take away from that conversation?

TOM PEREZ, CHAIRMAN, DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL COMMITTEE: Well, I told the mayor exactly what I tell every candidate or potential candidate, which is we will welcome them, we will treat them fairly. We will make sure there's a level playing field. And then we will leave it up to the voters to decide.

And I appreciate the call. And we will do exactly that if and when he enters the race.

BERMAN: Now, I know it's your job to say you treat him exactly like any others, and that everything is come by (ph) in the Democratic field. But his political adviser said the reason he's considering getting in is because he's concerned that the current field is not positioned to beat Donald Trump. What do you make of that statement?

PEREZ: Well, I think there are many people in the field. I think we have a really strong field and whoever emerges as our nominee is going to beat Donald Trump. I have absolutely confidence in that.

And the reason I have absolutely confidence in that is because everybody running for President believes that if you have a pre- existing condition, you should be able to keep your healthcare. And that, we should take on the pharmaceutical industry and that, you know, we would be fighting to make sure that, you know, people have access to the American dream, not just those in the 1 percent. And so, the unit of values we have as a Democratic Party, what they have in common with the American people is that, we're fighting for the issues that people care about, and that's why we won at scale, this past Tuesday in Kentucky, Virginia and elsewhere. That's why we won in 2018 and 2017 for that matter, because I think the American people are on our side. And I think our nominee, whoever he or she is, is going to win.

BERMAN: But if the premise of a Michael Bloomberg candidacy is that, the field as it currently stands is not positioned to beat Donald Trump. You do not agree with that statement?

PEREZ: No, I don't agree with that statement. I think we have a great field. If other people decide they want to get in, I welcome them and we will continue to welcome them. I am absolutely confident that whoever emerged as our nominee is going to win the race, and that's because of all of the things I just said.

BERMAN: Right.

PEREZ: People want a leader they can trust. They want to restore honor to the Oval Office. They want a leader that's going to fight for them, not for themselves.

BERMAN: There have been a lot of candidates running for awfully long time, spending an awful lot of time in states like Iowa, New Hampshire, meeting voters. What are the challenges that someone getting in now would face?

PEREZ: Well, you have to introduce yourself to voters and you don't have a lot of time to do it.

[20:45:01]

And in so many of these states, it's not just trying to get on television. It's really getting to know people. And so, there's not that many days, there's less than 100 days until Iowa, and a month after Iowa is Super Tuesday.

So this election cycle is going be on us very soon. The candidates know that and that's why they are in over drive.

BERMAN: Do you think selling yourself to the Democratic primary electorate as a billionaire, what are the challenges there?

PEREZ: Well, those are the challenges that the mayor understands and will confront. And I think Americans are going to judge the candidates on the content and quality of their ideas, their vision for America. Whether they will fight for them, whether they will fight to restore honor to the Oval Office, whether they're going to make sure we have access to healthcare, whether we truly address the climate change catastrophe. Whether we truly take action to reduce gun violence and whether we make sure that our leaders are looking out for everyday Americans, not for female like people like Donald Trump.

BERMAN: The way you have that primary debate set up is that, there was a donor threshold. You have to receive donations from a certain number of people in the country to get on the debate stage. If Michael Bloomberg self-funds, if he doesn't bother raising money because he doesn't need to, from 200,000 or 300,000 people to get individual donations, how would he get on the debate stage?

PEREZ: Well, those are the rules. Those are the rules we've set and we didn't make any exceptions to those rules. And I don't have any intention for the November and December debates.

We haven't set the rules past December, but we've articulated the rules up to and including December. And they include a grassroots fund raising threshold. And every candidate will have to meet that.

Mr. Steyer came in late in the -- later in the process. I wouldn't say it's late, but later in the process than others, and he understood the rules and he has complied. And I'm sure the mayor, should he want to get on the debate stage, will understand those rules and do the same.

BERMAN: So even if he's at 10 percent on the polls across the board, he's not going to debate in December unless he meets that donor threshold?

PEREZ: That's correct.

BERMAN: All right. Mr. Chairman Tom Peres, thanks for being with us today.

PEREZ: Have a good day.

BERMAN: Still ahead for us, 360's Randi Kaye talks to a group of suburban women to get their take on the 2020 race. A potential key voting block and what they said could be a worry to the Trump team.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[20:50:00]

BERMAN: A busy night. Let's check in with Chris to see what he's working on for "Cuomo Primetime" at the top of the hour. Sir?

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: JB, my man. So we have Fareed Zakaria on tonight, obviously, one of the items of intrigue here, it was with Fareed that this interview with the Ukraine and President was supposed to be to announce the investigation into the Bidens and others.

Obviously, he didn't know what plot was afoot. But has he ever seen anything like it before, and what can he help us understand about why this leverage was so powerful with Ukraine. We have Anthony Scaramucci her and we have Tom Steyer here to talk about Bloomberg and the new Anonymous book.

BERMAN: Yes. He's got a billion dollar, Bloomberg's got about 50. Thank you so much, Chris, for being with us. See you in a few minutes. So, did those Democratic victories in Tuesday's election mean President Trump's support in the suburbs is eroding? Just ahead, we'll speak to some voters in Kentucky to get their take on the 2020 race.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: Some Republicans are acknowledging that Democratic gains in the suburbs during Tuesday's elections could mean trouble for President Trump in 2020. There is of course an argument that the apparent Democratic victory in the Kentucky governor's race was just a one time result due to a largely unpopular candidate.

So we sent 3690's Randi Kaye there to speak to a group of women voters who consider themselves independent minded, three registered Republicans, two registered Democrats, and three registered Independents. Here's Randi's report.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SARAH BARKER, KENTUCKY VOTER: I think that people are probably feeling, you know, kind of set up.

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Seven independent women looking for a change in leadership from Kentucky to Washington, DC.

How many of you are considering, just raise your hands, how many of you are considering possibly voting for Donald Trump? One, OK.

All but one in the group are turned off by Trump, saying he's too much like their current governor, Republican Matt Bevin, who according to the Kentucky secretary of state was just voted out of office. And to this group, the same things that turn them off from Bevin, are what turn them off from President Trump too.

And as you listen to them, remember, this is Kentucky where the grass is blue but the politics are decidedly red.

I'm getting a sense, when talking about Bevin, it almost gives me a sense of Trump fatigue from you. Is that is -- are you feeling that?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Absolutely.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

KAYE: You feel like your 2020 vote will mirror your vote here for Democrat?

CATHERINE MACDOWALL, KENTUCKY VOTER: I do.

BARBARA CAMBRON, KENTUCKY VOTER: And it would just be at the top of the ticket. It's going to be up and down the line. It's going to happen across the board, even in vary local elections.

SHELLEY ROBERTS, KENTUCKY VOTE: I would not say I would not vote for him. I really depends. I don't want to vote for him, but it will depend on what the Democrats offer up.

KAYE: Who do you like on the Democratic side?

ROBERTS: Just -- I'd need someone to be moderate. I need them to, I don't know, use some commonsense and not be so extreme.

MACDOWALL: I think that's what we saw in the governor's race. Bevin mirrors Trump, and Andy Beshear is a moderate Democrat that a lot of people on both sides can get behind.

KAYE: Why are you still considering voting for Trump?

ALLIE MARTIN, KENTUCKY VOTER: Because I -- his values align much more with mine than any of the Democratic candidates.

KAYE: And so, it sounds like you're planning to vote the same way you voted in the state race here for governor.

MARTIN: Yes.

KAYE: Republican.

MARTIN: Yes.

KAYE: OK. So what else are you looking for in a candidate in 2020 and what -- where is head on?

SARAH GARDINER, KENTUCKY VOTER: I think Warren is probably my -- the one that I find the most reliable. I like plans. I want my politician to have plans. And I want someone who is truly knows what they're doing, who is level-headed.

You know, I'm tired of angry man yelling at us on TV everyday. I think anger was the biggest emotion of this election. I mean, I'm tired of --

BARKER: The last three years?

GARDINER: Yes.

BARKER: I'm tired of angry leadership.

KAYE: Why you think suburban women help propel Beshear to what appears to be a victory?

MACDOWALL: I think that what we're seeing more is that, suburban women truly want to have like their own voice. We're seeing now like more -- people want to standup for themselves.

ROBERTS: I think it was an issue of personality more than politics with Governor Bevin. He just offended so many people, and he attacked so many people. It was hard to vote for him after some of the things he had done.

KAYE: You're young women, a first time presidential voter, how important is that to you?

ALARAH GILLUM, KENTUCKY VOTER: I look for like unity in our politics. I think both Trump and Bevin, their personality is just divide politics.

KAYE: Randi Kaye, CNN, Louisville, Kentucky.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BERMAN: The news continues, so I'll have it over to Chris for "Cuomo Primetime."