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THE SITUATION ROOM
Officials Testified "No Ambiguity" to Trump's "Blatant" Push for Ukraine to Probe Democrats; Rep. Jim Himes (D-CT) Is Interviewed About Fiona Hill's Testimony; Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) Is Interviewed About Michael Bloomberg's Candidacy; White House Officials Testified Mick Mulvaney Coordinated Ukraine Quid Pro Quo; Steve Bannon Testifies at Roger Stone Trial; New Book by "Anonymous" Claims Trump Admin Officials Weighed Mass Resignation. Aired 5-6p ET
Aired November 8, 2019 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Happening now, breaking news.
Blatant push. Two White House officials testified there was no ambiguity about President Trump's desire for Ukraine to conduct politically motivated investigations and they say it was acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney who coordinated the quid pro quo.
Relevant information. Former National Security Adviser John Bolton has important details about the Ukraine scandal that haven't come up yet in the impeachment inquiry according to his lawyer. Will he testify?
Getting in the race. Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg expected to file for Alabama's Democratic presidential primary. And at any moment now, growing what had been a shrinking field of Democratic contenders. We'll talk about it with one of them. Sen. Cory Booker joins us live this hour.
And anonymous warning. Excerpts from an unnamed administration insider's new book paint a damning picture of President Trump and top aides were so disturbed by his behavior that they considered a mass resignation.
I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
BLITZER: Breaking news. This hour significant new details of discussions inside the White House ahead of President Trump's controversial Ukraine call. Newly-released impeachment inquiry testimony shows White House officials Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman and Fiona Hill described President Trump's blatant push for Ukraine to investigate political rivals in exchange for a White House meeting. And they testified it was acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney who coordinated the quid pro quo effort placing the scandal even closer to President Trump. Meanwhile, a lawyer for the president's former National Security adviser now says John Bolton has information about events, conversations and meetings relevant to all of this, which lawmakers investigating the president haven't yet heard.
We'll talk about all of the breaking news with Congressman Jim Himes of the Intelligence Committee and our correspondents and analysts are also standing by.
First, new details about the new testimony that is just been released. Our justice correspondent Jessica Schneider has been combing through all of it for us. Jessica, there is some very significant new information out tonight.
JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: There is, Wolf. These new revelations coming from transcripts from two officials who worked in the White House and they're pointing directly at Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney who they say orchestrated and directed this quid pro quo when it came to Ukraine. Fiona Hill and Colonel Alexander Vindman related how this was all communicated by EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland and how it was a quote, "blatant push" for politically motivated investigations from President Trump.
SCHNEIDER (voice-over): Tonight testimony unveiled from two key witnesses point to White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney as the one who coordinated the quid pro quo demand with Ukraine. Fiona Hill, the White House's former top Russia adviser, telling lawmakers last month that EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland made Mulvaney's instructions clear when they met with Ukrainian officials July 10th at the White House. Hill testifying "Ambassador Sondland, in front of the Ukrainians, as I came in, was talking about how he had an agreement with Chief of Staff Mulvaney for a meeting with the Ukrainians if they were going to go forward with investigations."
The White House's top expert on Ukraine, Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman echoed that. Saying, investigations by Ukraine were the deliverable coordinated by Mulvaney. Sondland just said that he had a conversation with Mr. Mulvaney and this is what is what is required in order to get a meeting.
Vindman adding, there was no ambiguity that a White House meeting was contingent on Ukraine opening an investigation into Joe Biden and his son Hunter. Several witnesses have testified that the holdup of military aid for Ukraine was also directed by Mulvaney.
Hill recounted how the proposed deal alarmed then-National Security Adviser John Bolton who she said immediately stiffened and ended the July 10th meeting. Last month, Mulvaney admitted there was indeed a quid pro quo before he later walked it back.
MICK MULVANEY, ACTING WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: I have news for everybody, get over it. There is going to be political influence in foreign policy. SCHNEIDER: Vindman also discussed how he drafted talking points ahead of that July 25th phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Zelensky and said his suggestions definitely did not include anything about investigations into the 2016 election, the Bidens or Burisma. When Fiona Hill finally read the rough transcript of the president's call with Zelensky, she said she was very shocked and very saddened about Trump's pretty blatant push for politically-motivated investigations.
Hill also recounted how Gordon Sondland made clear he was in charge of Ukraine affairs describing a blowup with him. When she later asked who put him in charge, he said the president, Hill testified. Well that shut me up because you can't really argue with that.
SCHNEIDER: And Hill says she also sounded the alarm to Special Envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker in particular about Rudy Giuliani, saying that no one could reason with him, -- him being Rudy Giuliani.
And, Wolf, Fiona Hill also relayed that John Bolton believed that no one should be talking to Giuliani at all.
BLITZER: That was very, very clear in all of these transcripts. Thanks very much for that report, Jessica Schneider.
Meanwhile, a lawyer for John Bolton has just sent a letter to congressional leaders saying the former National Security adviser has information that is relevant to the impeachment inquiry that hasn't yet been disclosed.
Let's go to our senior congressional correspondent Manu Raju, who's working this part of the story for us. Manu, Bolton was supposed to testify yesterday but he didn't show up. What are you learning?
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: John Bolton has been a key person mentioned throughout this impeachment inquiry and witness after witness described him as someone who is in the center of key events and someone who raised concerns about the push by Rudy Giuliani and the president to pursue those investigations that can help the president politically even referring to Rudy Giuliani as a quote, "hand grenade" according to the transcript released today of Fiona Hill's testimony. But John Bolton apparently has even more information that he could share with the House committees according to his attorney who sent this letter today saying this, that Bolton was the National Security adviser to the president, "was involved in many of the events, meetings and conversations about which you have all received testimony as well as many relevant meetings and conversations that have not yet been discussed in the testimonies thus far."
Now this all came about because Bolton's attorney represents both him and another official who had been subpoenaed in this case, Charles Kupperman. Kupperman filed a lawsuit saying that he doesn't want to testify until the courts have ruled whether or not he's legally required to testify. Democrats, however, have withdrawn that subpoena because they don't want to pursue this in court for a long-time and delay the proceedings and decided not to subpoena Bolton to avoid a prolonged court battle. So, Wolf, the ultimate question for Democrats is do they fight to try to get this testimony which could provide some more evidence or to decide to wrap up their probe at the moment. It sounded like they're going to choose the latter.
BLITZER: Sounds like a pretty intriguing testimony though, potentially at least. Manu, thank you.
Let's go over to the White House right now. Our chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta is joining us. Jim, the president, clearly pushing back very forcefully against all of these new developments.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That is right, Wolf. President Trump is dismissing the newly released testimony that administration officials who have come forward to describe a quid pro quo with Ukraine. The president is explaining it all the way saying the witnesses in the probe are either never Trumpers or people he doesn't know but as often the case with the president, Mr. Trump is playing fast and loose with the facts.
ACOSTA (voice-over): President Trump is ripping into the witnesses in the impeachment inquiry painting a picture of a deep state that is out to get him.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have some never Trumpers. It seems that nobody has any first-hand knowledge. There is no first-hand knowledge. Let's find the 10 people that hate President Trump the most and let's put them up there.
ACOSTA: The president is even going as far as to say he barely knows European Union Ambassador Gordon Sondland. A key figure in the probe who testified there was a quid pro quo with Ukraine.
TRUMP: Let me just tell you, I hardly know the gentleman.
ACOSTA: But hold on. In the past, the president has praised Sondland, who once contributed a million dollars to his inauguration committee.
TRUMP: The text message that I saw from Ambassador Sondland who is highly respected was there is no quid pro quo. He said that.
ACOSTA: The president is also griping about next week's public hearings in the inquiry.
TRUMP: They shouldn't be having public hearings. This is a hoax. This is just like the Russian witch hunt and this is a continuation.
ACOSTA: Tell that to the president's top contenders who have been complaining about a soviet style process conducted behind closed doors. SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): They've created a process in the Intel committee that's behind closed doors, doesn't provide access to the president's accuser, shuts Republicans out for all practical purposes.
TRUMP: He went to the whistleblower -
ACOSTA: The White House continues to stonewall the inquiry blocking Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney from testifying.
TRUMP: I don't want to give credibility to a corrupt witch hunt. I'd love to have Mick go up, frankly. I think he would do great. I would love to have him go up. I would love to have almost every person go up when they know me.
ACOSTA: But sources have told CNN, the president has hardly pleased after Mulvaney essentially conceded there was a quid pro quo.
MULVANEY: And I have news for everybody, get over it. There is going to be political influence in foreign policy.
ACOSTA: Another key figure in the probe staying away from the Capitol, the president's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani who kept in contact with Mr. Trump throughout the inquiry.
One person the president does want to see in front of the cameras, the whistleblower who prompted the investigation.
TRUMP: He made it sound bad. That is why I had to release. Now so now the whistleblower is a disgrace to our country. A disgrace. And the whistleblower -- because of that should be revealed.
ACOSTA: But daughter and adviser Ivanka Trump isn't so sure that is necessary telling "The Associated Press," "To me it is not particularly relevant aside from what the motivation behind all of this was." Venting his frustrations with the media, the president argues the pressured focus on former Vice President Joe Biden.
TRUMP: And all you have to do is take a look at Biden and you'll see tremendous corruption because what he did is quid pro quo times 10.
ACOSTA: Biden responded that the president is simply projecting.
JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: What Trump is doing is what he always do, try to take the focus off what the problem is. The problem is Donald Trump invited at least on three occasions three different countries for different reasons to intervene in American elections.
ACOSTA: The president also raised eyebrows today revealing that Vladimir Putin has invited him to Russia to attend a parade next year. The president said even though the trip would come in the middle of an election year, he is considering it. No U.S. president has visited Russia since 2013 when Barack Obama attended the G20 summit. Relations of course, Wolf, between Obama and Putin went south after Russia invaded the country at the center of this impeachment inquiry, Ukraine, Wolf.
BLITZER: Good point. Jim Acosta, thank you. Let's get some more on all of this.
Democratic Congressman Jim Himes of Connecticut is joining us. He's a member of the Intelligence Committee. Congressman Fiona Hill the former White House Russia adviser says the White House was dangling a meeting with President Trump and Lieutenant Colonel Vindman. She says there is no doubt the president wanted these investigations, political investigations in return. So what does that tell you?
REP. JIM HIMES (D-CT): Yes, well the story is clear as can be. We've now had and the depositions have been released any number of people who were in the room -- and this is an important statement, they were in the room because you just heard the president of United States say people that didn't have direct knowledge of this stuff, the whistleblower, in fact, did not have direct knowledge. So we followed up on the whistleblower. We found the people who do have direct knowledge and to a person they have said that there was a holding up of military aid of a meeting in the White House that was to be released only -- and these are the paraphrased words of Ambassador Sondland, in the event that those investigations were publicly on television committed to by the new president of Ukraine.
And Wolf, what is amazing about this and what is fantastical is that these are not never Trumpers. These are not Democratic opponents of the president. These are the president's own people who are very literally in the White House, some of them haven't been appointed for political reasons in the case of Ambassador Sondland, others having -- climbed at the latter at the State Department or in the military. But all of them there the president's own people reacting with such horror to what they saw that Colonel Vindman as you see from the transcript, went to the Council's Office as soon as he finished up with these meetings. The whistleblower blew the whistle. You heard Fiona Hill's testimony. Everybody around the president - the president's own people shocked and horrified by what they had seen leading us to this point today.
BLITZER: Both of the witnesses whose transcripts were released today, point to White House Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney's role in establishing this quid pro quo. He has declined to testify before your committees. So what is next?
HIMES: Well, I suspect he has declined to testify because Mick of course is the one person who can answer the question how exactly did the president convey the instructions, what did he say when he asked you -- because I don't believe for one second and I know Mick Mulvaney and I used to serve with him and I don't believe for one second that Mick Mulvaney cooked this up on his own that we're going to hold up military aid and hold up a meeting in the White House and fire a well- respected ambassador in order to advance the president's political interests. That is not a Mick Mulvaney creation.
Now by the way, in the coming days people are going to try to make it sound like it was a Mick Mulvaney creation and Ambassador Sondland creation in that whole story. But Mick of course could tell exactly what was said which is a big reason why we're not going to hear from Mick Mulvaney.
BLITZER: Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman, the top Ukraine expert on the National Security Council, says he was aware that money for Ukraine was being withheld by early July. July 3rd specifically. What do you make of that timeline?
HIMES: Well, you know hard to say when the idea first germinated because remember, in April when Zelensky has first -- first wins the election, there is a positive and congratulatory phone call - very brief and here's where I would like to fill in the blanks.
In order to fill in the blanks, I suspected it would require speaking with Rudy Giuliani. But in May and in June, the president reverts to form around this fantastical conspiracy theory that Ukraine in fact meddled in the 2016 election. Forget about all the work that was done by the president's own intelligence agencies. He reverts to that. We know that Rudy Giuliani is applying all kind of pressure in the Ukraine. We don't know exactly upon whom and what that involved but by the time we get to early July, we know that the Ukrainians are being told in very specific terms that you need to come forward with an investigation of Joe Biden and Burisma and his son which is a clear ask for meddling in our elections and that leads of course to the very, very different phone call between the two presidents in the third week of July in which the president and again the transcript is public in which the president sounding like a mob boss tells Zelensky what he needs to do.
BLITZER: Public hearings start next Wednesday. We'll of course have live coverage.
Congressman Himes thanks so much for joining us.
HIMES: Thank you, Wolf.
Stay with us for more on the breaking news and newly released transcripts in the House impeachment inquiry. Two witnesses now point directly to Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney central role in the Ukraine quid pro quo. So will he ever testify?
BLITZER: We're getting some breaking news. Representative for former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg have just filed the official paperwork to put his name on the ballot for Alabama's Democratic presidential primary. We're going to get a lot more on that coming up. But joining us right now, senator and Democratic presidential candidate Cory Booker, he's joining us from Charleston, South Carolina. Senator thanks so much for joining us. I'll get your reaction to Michael Bloomberg shortly but let's talk a little bit about what is happening right now in Washington, the acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney. With Mulvaney, do you believe he would act in the -- in this entire quid pro quo issue with Ukraine without the specific direct approval or direction by the president?
SEN. CORY BOOKER (D-NJ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Look, I think we need to get to the facts. And this is one of those times where this president is doing everything he can to obstruct the ability of Congress which by our constitutional design should give checks and balances to the executive. He's obstructing our ability to interview many critical witnesseses for us to get to the truth. What do they have to hide? Why won't they let the American people know the truth of what happened? There needs to be accountability. Mulvaney nor Trump are above the law. No one in our country is.
BLITZER: Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee says the Trump administration was simply incapable of establishing a quid pro quo. What do you make of that defense?
BOOKER: I think it's - you know this is a time we need patriotism and it is one of the times I'm quite confident that if this was a Democratic president that some of my colleagues now who are not holding this person to account would be. This should not be a time of partisanship. This is time a time where we are literally sending messages to the presidents in the future presidents about what is tolerable. With this president, what we know already - even by his own words is absolutely unacceptable. We know that this president was using his office to pursue his own personal gain while undermining National Security interests.
And so, this is a time that everybody should be asking for an investigation to get more information and do a thorough accounting for what exactly happened before they rush to judgment. The fact this is not a bipartisan call for a thorough investigation is unacceptable to me. This is a time where patriotism should be driving this, not partisanship.
BLITZER: You've been supportive of the House impeachment inquiry. Based on what you've seen so far, Senator, would you vote to convict the president and remove him from office?
BOOKER: Well, I mean let's be very particular here. We are going to serve as a jury on the Senate side based upon specific articles of impeachment that come before us. I don't know what the specific articles will be. What the charges will be.
But I'll tell you this, what I've seen already is pretty damning to have a president take these actions. But again this cannot be done in a reflexive way. We're talking about removing a sitting president from office. This is something with a great deal of gravity should be dealt in a sober way and we should conduct ourselves in a way that builds more national consensus, doesn't rip it apart by me standing here in South Carolina amidst a political event talking about how I'm going to vote before I've seen the articles. I'm going to do everything I can to make sure this is a process that is gone honorably and a way that builds more confidence, does not lurch us into greater partisanship where people think we are pursuing our political aims as opposed to our deeply sacred obligations to this great republic.
BLITZER: And quickly on this question, if he's impeached in the House of Representatives and in January there is a full-scale trial in the U.S. Senate, would you abandon Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, come back to Washington and sit in the Senate as a juror?
BOOKER: Well, my campaign will never do that, abandoning Iowa, heck, we're right now leading all other campaigns except for one in endorsements from local elected leaders who are putting themselves on the line by choosing to endorse me and give me their nod for the presidency. So even if I'm not in Iowa or New Hampshire, as one of the two candidates that leads the rest of the field in people putting their faith in us who are elected leaders, I'm not going to leave those states. I'll have people working for my campaign there.
But let's be clear. I swore an oath. I stood on the Senate floor in front of Joe Biden. In fact, he swore me in that I would protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. This president seems to have violated his duty and I'm going to do mine.
BLITZER: Let me get your thoughts on the breaking news we just reported. The Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has just formally taken the first step towards possibly entering the 2020 Democratic presidential contest. His spokesman says Bloomberg is increasingly concerned that the current field of candidates is not well positioned to defeat President Trump. So how do you respond?
BOOKER: Well, first of all, I've known Michael Bloomberg for years now. When I became a mayor, it was mayors like him and Mayor Rendell who really offered a hand of mentorship to me. I still love one of the things Mike sent to my office which was a countdown clock to dial right to the actual days I had left as mayor in my two terms and I love the message. He said, don't count the days. Make sure when you're chief executive, make every single day count.
Mike is a special guy and all of us who are citizens of this great republic should always be concerned in focusing on this field. I think that the polling right now is something that's distracting people and might have him concerned. Because of the way the polling looks right now. But we've never had a president from our party ever go on to the White House who is polling ahead right now. This election is going to turn a lot. Barack Obama on this day in 2007 was 21 points behind Hillary Clinton.
And so, I'm confident in my ability to emerge as a leader of the pack out of Iowa and New Hampshire. And I think if leaders like me who are unifying leaders, who can bring the full breadth of our party together and appeal to moderates and independents in the Republican Party and independents in general, I don't think people like Michael Bloomberg will see a reason that they're going to want to run or enter this race. BLITZER: Senator Cory Booker, good luck out there on the campaign trail. Thanks very much for joining us.
BOOKER: Thank you for having me. Thanks so much.
BLITZER: A quick reminder, on Monday, former Vice President Joe Biden takes questions from voters in a CNN Democratic presidential town hall. CNN's Erin Burnett moderates live from Iowa. That's Monday night at 9:00 p.m. Eastern only here on CNN.
Our political and national security experts are here. We have a lot to discuss. Also, Steve Bannon testifies in the Roger Stone trial, details coming up.
BLITZER: We're following multiple breaking stories including newly released transcripts in the Trump impeachment inquiry.
Let's bring in our experts to discuss.
In these transcripts related today, David Chalian, the acting White House chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, he's painted as someone who played a specific and very determined role in the so-called quid pro quo demanding political concessions from the Ukraine government in exchange for military assistance.
DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: And also in exchange for a meeting with President Trump. I mean, there -- before that July 25th phone call there is that July 10th meeting and we've heard these two witnesses, when we read the transcripts today, both Fiona Hill and Vindman, we see them tell stories of being around this July 10th meeting and seeing Gordon Sondland say, I have a deal with Mick Mulvaney and it is all worked out that you are going to get the meeting you want, should you go out, Ukrainians, and say that an investigation is underway as needed.
Both of those people, Fiona Hill and Vindman walked away saying that that is what they understood Sondland to say.
BLITZER: Very significant potentially.
Now, Jackie, your newspaper "The Washington Post" is reporting that some House Republicans are now floating this idea that Giuliani, Ambassador Sondland, Mick Mulvaney, they were actually freelancing, not specifically taking orders from the president and essentially being selected as potential fall guys if all this thing -- this entire thing collapses. What do you think?
JACKIE ALEMANY, AUTHOR, THE WASHINGTON POST "POWER UP": Yes. That's exactly right. In the absence of a clear strategic communications plan from the White House, House Republicans have taken it upon themselves to bootstrap together their own defense and, you know, we've seen their previous defenses sort of fall flat and the goalposts have clearly shifted here to Mark Meadows saying, I believe yesterday, that, you know, the latest being if there is no clear linkage to the president, if these -- if this directive of a quid pro quo didn't come from the president's mouth, then he is not guilty of a crime.
So that means laying this at the feet of Mick Mulvaney, Rudy Giuliani, and Gordon Sondland. The question here is, are these three witnesses going to play ball? You know, this also banks on the fact that we know all of the information already. But as John Bolton told -- as John Bolton's lawyer told "The New York Times" today, there are quite a few meetings that House investigators don't even know about. So it remains to be seen if this latest defense is actually going to be effective.
BLITZER: Yes. Love to hear from John Bolton. I'm sure he knows a lot about what really happened.
You know, Ryan, CNN has confirmed that Giuliani still speaks regularly with the president, still formally on the president's legal team even though he's under federal investigation himself right now. We're talking about the president's personal lawyer. Is it really possible or likely that any of these players were acting on their own without specific instructions from the president?
RYAN LIZZA, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well it seems really unusual for the president's personal lawyer to be, you know, traveling to Europe, having all of these meetings, discussing these things but not act -- I don't know if you guys have ever had an attorney, but it's very unusual for an attorney to take actions on your behalf without having a conversation. I'm not sure that's even legal, right?
So -- but we are moving now towards two arguments as Jackie points out. One is if it doesn't -- if we don't have the direct direction from the president, sorry, you know, you can't convict the president and, two, but I think eventually once that -- when and if that is established where all roads lead, as Republicans basically saying, OK, yes, they did it. You got him, the president, it was a quid pro quo but you can't impeach the president over that. There's going to be an election in November and, you know, that just seems like where everything is headed.
BLITZER: That what a lot of Republicans are already suggesting.
BLITZER: You know, Shawn, Mulvaney essentially admitted to the quid pro quo in that pretty disastrous from his perspective news conference on October 17th. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MULVANEY: Look, this is a corrupt place. I don't want to send them a bunch of money. Did he also mention to me in past that the corruption related to the DNC server? Absolutely. No question about that. But that's it. And that's why we held up the money. The look back to what happened in 2016 certainly was part of thing that he was worried about in corruption with that nation. And I have news for everybody, get over it. There is going to be political influence in foreign policy.
The president asked Rick Perry to work with Mr. Giuliani. You may not like the fact that Giuliani was involved. That's great. That's fine. It's not illegal. It's not impeachable. The president gets to use who he wants to use.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Clearly Mulvaney, Shawn, was speaking for President Trump.
SHAWN TURNER, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Yes. There is no doubt that what Mick Mulvaney is doing there is he's recounting his conversations with the president and the reason it is so important that he says things like, and that is why we held up the money, and when he says that the president asked that Rick Perry work with Rudy Giuliani is because as, you know, Rick and others -- as Ryan and others have said, this is going to come down to one key question and that question is who gave the order?
Who gave the order to hold up the funding -- the military aid to Ukraine until the Ukrainian president went before the microphone and said that he was opening an investigation into Joe Biden. Clearly the writing is on the wall here that the White House might be moving in the direction of putting this at the feet of Mick Mulvaney and Gordon Sondland and others. But, look, you know, Wolf this is going to come down to the White House having to make a hard decision here.
As more people come forward and as more of this testimony is released by the Democrats, the White House is either going to have to make a decision to continue to hold this position that it wasn't the president or they're going to have to simply say to the American people, look, absolutely this happened. The president did it. And they're going to have to put all their efforts into convincing the American people that there was absolutely nothing wrong with it. And that is -- that's the direction I think the White House is going here.
BLITZER: I suspect you may be right. All right. Everybody, stand by. There is more news we're following.
One of the prosecution's star witnesses takes the stand in the Roger Stone trial here in Washington. Stand by for what Steve Bannon told the jury.
BLITZER: We're also following breaking news in the trial of President Trump's associate Roger Stone here in Washington. This afternoon the president's former top adviser and campaign CEO Steve Bannon testified for the prosecution.
Our crime and justice reporter Shimon Prokupecz was inside of the courthouse during all of this. He's here in THE SITUATION ROOM for us right now.
So what did Bannon have to say about Stone during this trial?
SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: Very important witness for the prosecution. We are now in the phase of where the prosecutors and the government start linking Roger Stone to the campaign, to the Trump campaign and their interest in wanting this information from WikiLeaks.
A couple of headlines here was that one thing that they did establish today from Steve Bannon's mouth is that the campaign certainly thought that Roger Stone was their connection to WikiLeaks, is that -- that they thought that he had someone who could get them information on what they were working on and that basically the campaign had no other access. But what they believed was that it was going to be Roger Stone who was going to help them get this information.
And other key thing here is that they -- Steve Bannon said, yes, we thought that this was going to hurt Hillary Clinton and help Donald Trump.
And I thought that was a very important point for prosecutors to get across. The other thing that was interesting to hear Bannon describe Roger Stone, called him a dirty trickster but he did say that he was a pretty good guy to have on your side when you're trying to get opposition research. So a pretty good day for prosecutors in terms of ending their case for today.
BLITZER: He didn't show up voluntarily, did he?
PROKUPECZ: So no, he didn't. He was subpoenaed. And he made that -- he wanted to keep making that point. He made that point outside of court and he had prosecutors asked him that right out of the gate. They asked him, are you here voluntarily, he said no, I was subpoenaed.
BLITZER: Shimon Prokupecz, watching this trial. We'll continue to cover it. Thanks very much.
Coming up, bombshell allegations in a new book by an anonymous Trump administration official. Did top members of the president's team consider a mass resignation.
BLITZER: We're getting a first look at new bombshell allegations about President Trump in a forthcoming book by an anonymous administration official.
CNN's Brian Todd is working the story for us.
So, Brian, the book paints a very, very disturbing picture of this president.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, it depicts the president is mentally unstable, paranoid, cruel. Those who know Trump say the book is going to drive the president crazy and will probably trigger an obsessive mole hunt to unmask the author.
TRUMP: We're kicking their ass.
TODD (voice-over): His top officials would wake up in a full-blown panic over his tweets. Working for Donald Trump at the White House is, "like showing up at the nursing home at daybreak to find your elderly uncle running pantsless across the courtyard, and cursing loudly about the cafeteria food, as worried attendants tried to catch him. Only your uncle doesn't have to lead the U.S. government once he puts his pants on."
These quotes from the explosive new book, "A Warning," written by an anonymous Trump administration official, excerpted by the "Washington Post." Excerpts which some say will likely drive the president crazy.
SUSAN GLASSER, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Donald Trump as we know is pretty loyalty obsessed and he is in particular concerned with this idea of treachery inside the White House. This is a moment where Trump is going to be particularly worried that he's surrounded by people he fundamentally can't trust.
TODD: The author is the same unnamed person who wrote an op-ed in the "New York Times" last year claiming to be part of a so-called resistance to Trump within the White House ranks. It's not clear if the person is still working for the president or has left.
According to the "Post," the new book says senior Trump administration officials considered resigning en masse last year in a, quote, "midnight self-massacre," to warn the public about President Trump's behavior.
MICHAEL SHEAR, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": If it was petty senior people and it was a lot of them, it would have not only affected the actual operations of the government but it would have underscored and made very real one of the big concerns about this administration which is that people are concerned about the president's very erratic nature. And I think it could have had a big impact.
TODD: The author says the officials decided against mass resignations fearing it would destabilize the government even further.
The book depicts Trump as incompetent, a danger to the country, paranoid of those around him, including note takers and profoundly cruel.
TRUMP: Be quiet. Quiet.
TODD: The author says Trump once spoke with a Hispanic accent in the Oval Office to make fun of migrants crossing the border. And when discussing women, quote, "he comments on makeup, he makes jokes about weight, he critiques clothing. He uses words like sweetie and honey."
GLASSER: That's the kind of amazing thing about Donald Trump. He makes racist remarks in private and he makes racist remarks in public. He says anti-women things in private and he says anti-women things in public.
TODD: Tonight, the White House is calling the author a coward saying the book is nothing but lies, a work of fiction. One Trump biographer warns the pushback won't stop there.
MICHAEL D'ANTONIO, AUTHOR, "THE TRUTH ABOUT TRUMP": God help you if you occupy an important position in service to the president and evidence any lack of loyalty. He's going to come after you hard. And there's no threat that he won't make.
TODD: Last year when this same author published that anonymous op-ed the White House on a mole hunt. A furious effort to out that person, with Trump said to be obsessed with uncovering their identity. Analysts say that's likely going on now as well but according to the "Post" the author claims to be ready to possibly reveal his or her own identity in due course -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Brian Todd reporting for us. Thank you.
The breaking news continues next. We're now learning new details about how Democrats are preparing for next week's make-or-break public televised impeachment hearings.
BLITZER: Happening now, breaking news. No doubt. Impeachment witnesses say it's clear that President Trump made a quid pro quo demand of Ukraine. And that his chief of staff played a pivotal role. We're breaking down new testimony transcripts.
Staying in touch. We're told Mr. Trump still chats with Rudy Giuliani even as his personal lawyer is at the center of the Ukraine scandal and impeachment drama. Will the president eventually throw Giuliani under the bus?
Bannon on the stand. The president's former strategist testifies at Roger Stone's trial, saying the Trump campaign viewed Stone as a potential link to WikiLeaks.