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White House Officials Testify Quid Pro Quo Was Coordinated By Mulvaney; House Republicans Submit Impeachment Witness Requests; Donald Trump Called Gordon Sondland A "Great American," Now He Says He Hardly Knows The Gentleman; Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) Campaigning With Sen. Bernie Sanders In Iowa; Author Paints Damning Portrait Of Trump's White House; Public Impeachment Hearings Begin Wednesday; Mick Mulvaney Defies Subpoena And Refuses To Testify; Bolton Lawyers Say Client Has Relevant Information To Share; Thirty Years Since The Fall Of The Berlin Wall; Study: Most School Attackers Showed Warning Signs. Aired 12-1p ET

Aired November 9, 2019 - 12:00   ET




FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN HOST: Hello again, everyone. Thank you so much for being with me. I'm Fredricka Whitfield. Today a counter-punch from House Republicans as the impeachment inquiry enters a new phase. GOP members have submitted requests for testimony from several key figures including the anonymous whistleblower and Joe Biden's son, Hunter.

This as the House prepares for the first public testimony in the impeachment inquiry next week. Meantime, the White House is pushing back on having other key witnesses appear behind closed doors. Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney shirked a subpoena on Friday and is now trying to join a lawsuit to avoid testifying all together, this despite testimony from two top level White House officials who put Mulvaney right in the middle of the Ukraine controversy.

CNN's Kevin Liptak is here with us. So Kevin, what are the names besides Hunter Biden on this witness list that Republicans are putting forward?

KEVIN LIPTAK, CNN WHITE HOUSE PRODUCER: Yes, there are eight names on this list and it provides an indication of where Republicans want ahead as this impeachment inquiry enters public it's phase. Beside from Hunter Biden, there's another member of the Burisma board, that's the Ukrainian natural gas company that's at the center of this controversy.

Clearly Republicans want to probe the propriety of Hunter Biden's actions in Ukraine. We should say there's no evidence of any wrongdoing by either Hunter Biden or his father Joe Biden in any of this. They also want to hear from the whistleblower and all of the people that the whistleblower talked to, clearly looking to find any vulnerabilities in their accounts, trying to find areas where they may not have had direct knowledge of what was going on. They have three names on this list, three U.S. officials, who have already testified in closed depositions. They want to hear from Tim Morrison who worked on the National Security Council, Kurt Volker, the Former U.S. Special Envoy to Ukraine, and David Hail, the Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs.

These are three witnesses who in their private depositions were said to have provided a more favorable account to President Trump of what was going on in Ukraine and in Ukraine policy. There are two names on this list who indicate that the Republicans want to probe these unfounded claims that Ukraine somehow interfered in the 2016 U.S. Presidential election.

One of them is Nelly Orr she works for fusion GPS that's the opposition research firm. They also want to hear from a DNC staffer so clearly they want to go down that route as well. Now, whether these witnesses actually appear before the committee, it's not a great likelihood. Democrats will have to approve of them. They clearly want to go on a different direction. They want to probe what President Trump actually knew about all of this as it was going on. Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right, Kevin Liptak, thank you so much. So with me now, Francesca Chambers White House Correspondent and Former "McClacthyDC" and Matthew Rosenberg he is an Investigative Correspondent for "The New York Times" and a CNN National Security Analyst. Good to see you both.

All right, Francesca, you first, this GOP request to have the whistleblower and Hunter Biden testify in the impeachment inquiry, Democrats will likely reject this request, but will this give Republicans an opportunity to try to make the case that this impeachment inquiry is simply not fair to the President?

FRANCESCA CHAMBERS, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, MCCLACTHYDC: Well, that's what they're going to try to do but if they're able to get some of the witnesses that they're requesting in front of the Committee, then they will have the opportunity to ask some of the questions that the President and the President's lawyers would like them to ask. But the idea of getting the whistleblower up there is something that, like you said, is not likely to happen, and that's mostly what the President wants.

They want to be able to put that person there and ask them about firsthand or even secondhand knowledge and try to make the point that this person really had no idea what was going on in the call. We don't know that but that's the point they want to try and make.

WHITFIELD: Matthew, this week will kick off the public hearing phase of the impeachment inquiry starting Wednesday we'll hear firsthand from people who have already testified behind closed doors but first up will be career diplomat Bill Taylor, and Taylor was involved in those text messages that no one can forget with Ambassador Gordon Sondland and it said it's crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign, that coming from Bill Taylor. So Matthew, how important will Bill Taylor's testimony be? MATTHEW ROSENBERG, INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Taylor covers a lot of ground here. From Taylor's testimony we learned that he believed it was Giuliani's idea to kind of get these investigations going to help the President.


ROSENBERG: He spoke a lot in his testimony about this kind of shadow foreign policy, this alternative foreign policy that wasn't about securing America's best interest, it was about securing the President's personal political interests

Look, there's a real difference. We know a lot of what Taylor said obviously but there's a real difference between a person getting up there saying it and the way it's captured on camera, that's broadcast on nightly news that people can really see and kind of reading a transcript and the other side saying well these are manipulated, these are cut up. I think that does have the potential to have some real impact here.

WHITFIELD: Yes, so Francesca, I wonder if the same applies to say the Former Ukraine Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch who was scheduled to testify whether you know hearing it seeing it live television is very different from the reading the transcript.

And in the transcript she did talk about how the President wanted her removed based on a campaign of false claims about her, and then under testimony she said this, "What I wanted was the Secretary of State to issue a statement that said I have his full confidence or something like that to indicate that, in fact, I am the Ambassador in Ukraine and that I speak for the President for the Secretary of State, for our country. I was told there was caution about any kind of statement because it could be undermined. That's what she said.

And then Congressman Adam Schiff asked, by whom? And Yovanovitch replied, the President. Francesca, she'll have to, I guess, repeat a lot of that testimony but it will have to be in kind of a more truncated form in order to really resonate with people.

CHAMBERS: That's the downfall about this strategy for Republicans of having the public hearings. They wanted them to be public. They didn't want them to be behind closed doors, but now these will be clips that you'll be able to air over and over and over again of these current and former State Department and White House officials potentially testifying on Capitol Hill. She is not one of the people who can directly talk about whether or not there was a quid pro quo so to speak.

Those are the people who the White House will be more worried about. Whether or not a John Bolton gets up there, and Mick Mulvaney and even a Rudy Giuliani later will be something that will be of the most importance to both Democrats and the White House.

WHITFIELD: But then it pertains to that kind of this for that then, you know Matthew another career State Department official George Kent will also be testifying publicly and in his transcript Kent testified about the President saying POTUS wanted nothing less than President Zelensky to go to the microphone and say investigations Biden and Clinton. So will that underscore that quid pro quo?

ROSENBERG: Absolutely. I think the biggest question here is going to be, have the President and his allies done such a good job of convincing their base that this is a deep state plot, these people are all closet Trump haters or Pro-Democrat or whatever, that they've done such a good job of that that no matter what any of these witnesses say, nothing is going to move the needle. And then you are in a situation where you need a Mulvaney or Bolton or Giuliani of something to kind of acknowledge this and we're going to find out.

WHITFIELD: Yes. So Francesca, can the President try to, you know, be louder, you know, be the megaphone ahead of these transcripts and these potential testimonies? Listen to what he said yesterday on the south lawn.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm not concerned about anything. The testimony has all been fine. For the most part I never even heard of these people. I have no idea who they are. They're some very fine people. You have some never Trumpers. It seems that nobody has any firsthand knowledge. There is no firsthand knowledge, and all that matters is one thing, the transcript. And the transcript is perfect.


WHITFIELD: I don't know them very well. This sounds really familiar. Michael Cohen? And Francesca, the President, he recently called the Ambassador, Gordon Sondland, a good man, a great American and now then now he says he hardly knew him. This is someone who made some pretty significant donations to his campaign and then he got this job. How effectively can the President try to send this message that there's this distance between he and all of these people who say this is what happened?

CHAMBERS: Well, just because Gordon Sondland gave $1 million to his inaugural committee doesn't mean that he necessarily knows the President very well. What is more concerning is the fact that Gordon Sondland was on air force one with President Trump in May and I recall this because I was on the plane that day. They went down to Louisiana and he spoke at an event and he said that Sondland is doing a great job, so we know that they at least know each other a little bit.

We also know that because Sondland calls him up and that's when Trump said, according to the documents we already have, that there is no quid pro quo and then he relays that to Bill Taylor.


WHITFIELD: That was after that five-hour delay from the text of this is crazy stuff and then it was call me and then it was there's no quid pro quo. CHAMBERS: But I have a feeling, by the way, we're going to hear a

little more about that today. I don't know if you can hear it but the copter is actually overhead because the President is going to be departing soon for another event where he's likely to take questions from reporters.

WHITFIELD: All right, on the way to the big college game. Francesca Chambers, thank you so much. Matthew Rosenberg good to see you both, I appreciate it.


WHITFIELD: All right, so for the third time in two weeks now President Trump is set to attend a sporting event that's why you heard that chopper. He is on his way. CNN's Sarah Westwood is in Tuscaloosa for the Alabama Crimson Tide and LSU Tiger's game. So Sarah, the President has received mix reactions in sporting events crowd as of recent. Why is he so confident that he'll get a good reception or that it's pivotal and important for him to attend this game?

SARAH WESTWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: That's right Fred it's absolutely a huge game, President Trump heading here just moments from now. He has attended two other sporting events in the past two weeks. This will be his third, and he has had those mixed reactions at those other games.

He went to the Game Five of the World Series in Washington, to a UFC Fighting Championship in Madison Square Garden, had a bit of a mixed reception there, perhaps expecting a better one here. We've been speaking with folks who are tailgating ahead of this game, and many of them defended the President against the impeachment inquiry that he's facing in the House. Take a listen.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a bunch of bull - bottom line, I think they're fishing. It's a fishing expedition. It's been like that for three years now.

WESTWOOD: How much are you following what he's actually being impeached for?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Something in the Ukraine where he told the President to take a look at Biden for his misdeeds, while he was in office. If he was corrupt, he was corrupt, put him in jail.

WESTWOOD: Did you vote for Trump in 2016?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Absolutely and I'll now vote for him again, even if I got to go in there in a wheelchair.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Crazy. It's just crazy. There's no basis for it.

WESTWOOD: Do you think he's being treated fairly?



WESTWOOD: What is your understanding of what the impeachment inquiry is about?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Made-up stuff. We have the transcripts. Read the transcripts.


WESTWOOD: Now unlike Washington and New York City, Alabama is Trump country. It's a state that he won by nearly 30 points in 2016. This university, the student body government, initially sent an email discouraging disruptions at this game and then later clarified that the student body government did not wish to infringe on anyone's first amendment rights, so Fred, we will be watching to see if the President finally gets that friendly reception at the football game today.

WHITFIELD: All right, bring it to us as it happens. Sarah Westwood, thank you so much. All right, still to come in the CNN NEWSROOM, new signs that billionaire and Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg could jump into the 2020 race. Hear why Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is heading to Iowa.



WHITFIELD: Billionaire Michael Bloomberg is positioning himself for a potential Presidential Run. The Former New York Mayor has filed paperwork to get on Alabama's Democratic Primary Ballot. He also plans to file in Arkansas in the Democratic Primary before the state's Tuesday deadline.

Already Bloomberg's potential presidential bid has Democratic candidates talking. Just hours after Bloomberg filed in Alabama, Senator Bernie Sanders tweeted this, the billionaire class is scared and they should be. Meantime, Sanders is out on the campaign trail. Today in Iowa he is joined by Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez who endorsed the Senator less than a month ago.

This will be the Congresswoman's first appearance outside of her home state on behalf of Sanders. CNN's Ryan Nobles is in Des Moines, Iowa. So Ryan, what kind of reception can we expect for the Congresswoman in the Midwest, and what is it about this strategy to help the Sanders campaign?

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Fredricka, sorry, a little loud here at Drake University where Senator Sanders and Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez are set to hold a climate summit talking about one of these specific issues that the two of them are aligned with and what they can hope can drum up support for him here in Iowa.

They had a huge rally in Council Bluffs on the western side of Iowa. Ocasio-Cortez telling the crowd that this was her first trip ever to Iowa and she wanted to come to support Bernie Sanders in his campaign because she was inspired by his political movement four years ago when he ran for President, and she wants to see him get elected this time around.

What's interesting about Ocasio-Cortez as a political figure is that she's a superstar. She is a celebrity. She draws out a big crowd in a way that few other politicians can, so the Sanders campaign doesn't necessarily see her as expanding their base of support. In other words, bringing people into the fold that weren't already there. But instead they view her as someone that can excite and motivate their base to make sure that they come in caucus and actually right now as we speak, Ocasio-Cortez is hitting the streets of Des Moines, knocking on doors encouraging people to come out and caucus for Bernie Sanders.

And as you can see, she draws a big crowd wherever she goes. If you are somebody that's thinking about caucusing and you hear a knock at the door and it's Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, that's going to get your attention and that's exactly what the Sanders campaign hopes happens with her endorsement and of course came at a key time, his first trip back to the campaign trail after suffering that heart attack and they're hoping that momentum continues over the next few months into the Iowa caucus.

And so what we're going to see here today Fred is Sanders essentially doubling down on those big issues that young, progressive voters care about and that's climate change. That is ALC's signature issue. They're going to have a day-long summit here where they're going to have different people that are focused on the climate change issues speaking to this crowd and then it's going to be capped off with Q & A session with Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez.

Her first big trip to Iowa, in evidence as to how you're going to see the Sanders campaign use her support as this campaign moves forward. Fred.


WHITFIFELD: All right, Ryan Nobles, thank you so much for that. All right, still to come, a warning from an unanimous administration official. A new book about what's happening inside the White House and the shocking things President Trump allegedly says behind closed doors.


WHITFIELD: All right, we're learning new details about the explosive accounts in that new book written by an unnamed Senior Trump Administration official it's titled "A warning" and it paints a chilling picture of life inside the White House. Here is CNN's Brian Todd.


TRUMP: We're kicking their ass.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: 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 day break to find your elderly uncle running pants less across the courtyard and cursing loudly about the cafeteria food as worried attendants tried to catch him, only your uncle didn't have to leave the U.S. government once he puts his pants on.

These quotes from an explosive new book called "A warning" written by an unanimous Trump Administration official excepted by "The Washington Post," experts which some say will likely drive the President crazy.



SUSAN GLASSER, STAFF WRITER, THE NEW YORKER: 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 is 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 book says senior administration officials considered resigning on mass last year in a "Midnight self massacre to warn the public about President Trump's behavior".


MICHAEL SHEAR, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORK TIMES: If it was a lot of them it would have not only affected the actual operations of the government but 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.


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, "He comments on makeup, 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-woman things in private and he says anti-woman things in public.


TODD: The White House is calling the author a coward, saying the book is nothing but lies, a work of fiction. One Trump biographer warnings 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 you 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 that same author published the anonymous op-ed, the White House went on a mole hunt, a furious effort to out that person with Trump said to be obsessed with uncovering the person's identity. Analysts say that's likely going on now as well, but according to "The Post" the author claims to be ready to reveal his or her identity in due course. Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.

WHITFIELD: All right, swinging might seem like an outdated term from the 1970s. Well, even today millions of Americans have dabbled in what's called the life-style. In this week's episode of "This Is Life" Lisa Ling attends the largest swinger party in the country. Here's a sneak peek.


LISA LING, HOST, THIS IS LIFE: As couples filter in for the evening, I sneak a peek at the clientele, leopard print, tight dresses and low neck lines. I'm feeling a little overdressed for the occasion. Who are these people, like if we saw them outside of here what would they look like?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You wouldn't think that they're swingers if you saw them how outside they cloth probably. They come from all occupations, attorneys, teachers, doctors, housewives. It's really just a slice of Americana.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There we got nine grandkids coming tomorrow.

LING: It's still sinking in that tonight many of these couples will invite someone else to have sex with their partner.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, how are you? Good to see you.

LING: And if these club goers are the Texas establishment, I get why this happens behind tinted windows.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is going to be fun.


WHITFIELD: All right, for more, watch "This Is Life" with Lisa Ling that's tomorrow night at 10:00.



WHITFIELD: Soon the president will be leaving the White House and everyone's waiting to see if he'll be addressing reporters on his way to the Alabama/LSU football game today. All of this comes ahead of what's expected to be another busy week in Washington as the impeachment hearings go public.

First up, on Wednesday, lawmakers will question the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, Bill Taylor. CNN's Jessica Schneider looks at this week's biggest developments in the Democrats' impeachment inquiry.


JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): 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 E.U. 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 was 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's going to be political influence in foreign policy.


SCHNEIDER (voice-over): Vindman 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.

(on camera) Fiona Hill also disclosed that she received death threats and hateful calls during her year at the National Security Council before she left in August and she says many of those threats have now continued now that she is front and center as a key voice in the impeachment inquiry.

Jessica Schneider, CNN, Washington.


WHITFIELD: All right, with me right now, Michael Zeldin, a former federal prosecutor and a CNN legal analyst. Always good to see you, Michael.

So, let's talk about the White House Chief of Staff Mulvaney. He's claiming he has absolute immunity when it comes to testifying in this impeachment probe. Is the law on his side?

MICHAEL ZELDIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I don't think so. There's been very little law that addressed this issue. The most recent case was a case where the House asked for the testimony of former White House counsel under George Herbert Walker Bush -- George W. Bush rather, Harriet Miers, and the court there rejecting this absolute immunity argument said that it would make the branch of government the non-co- equal. I'm trying to think of the exact language. He said it would put the House at a disadvantage to the executive branch, and he rejected that argument.

So the only law on this rejects the executive branch's absolute immunity position. I think Mulvaney is in a worse case than Harriet Miers was because this is in the context of an impeachment where the House has even more powers than it did under the other scenario.

WHITFIELD: So that is the opinion that if there was that kind of absolute immunity, then that really undermines congressional oversight authority. I mean, the whole checks and balances, if that body cannot talk to people around the president. ZELDIN: Exactly. And especially so in an impeachment context where the House is, you know, essentially proceeding as if it were a judicial body. So that gives even more impetus to the House's argument.

WHITFIELD: Interesting. All right, so far, you know, no one has testified that they received orders directly from President Trump, but there is this. Take a listen.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: China should start an investigation into the Bidens because what happened to China is just about as bad as what happened with Ukraine.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) what you just described as a quid pro quo. It is funding will not flow unless the investigation into the Democratic server happened as well.

MULVANEY: We do that all the time with foreign policy. I have news for everybody, get over it. There's going to be political influence in foreign policy.


WHITFIELD: All right, so with that, in addition, you know, do lawmakers need, Michael, you know, direct orders from the president in order to establish an abuse of powers?

ZELDIN: No. They can get that information derivatively from the president through his advisers. You know, it was quite clear in the Nixon impeachment that Nixon spoke to Ehrlichman and other advisers, Mitchell and Haldeman to give the directions and there was no immunity from President Nixon for that criminal behavior.

And so likewise here. If the president is behind this scheme to extract a favor from Ukraine before anything would proceed militarily or as a matter of White House appearance, then it doesn't make a difference that it didn't come directly out of the mouth of the president.

WHITFIELD: OK. And that perfect call transcript, I mean, he used the words, you know, do me this favor. So attorneys for the president's former national security adviser, John Bolton, you know, are dropping hints to the White House and to lawmakers saying, you know, that Bolton has relevant information to share but he'll only testify if forced to. So how important, a, could, you know, Bolton testimony be, and, you know, can he set this kind of conditions like that?

ZELDIN: Well, he shouldn't be able to set these sorts of conditions. Bolton who's an honorable guy, a conservative thinker but nonetheless honorable, should understand that the president's adviser does not enjoy absolute immunity as we just discussed, and in the context of impeachment he should come forward.

[12:40:01] That said, if he doesn't choose to do so, the House should enforce a subpoena against him and try to require his testimony. I think that this gambit of waiting for the judiciary to decide is a delay tactic and should not be acceptable.

WHITFIELD: All right, Michael Zeldin, thank you so much.

ZELDIN: Thanks, Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right, coming up next, Berlin celebrates 30 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall. CNN is near what is left of that wall.


WHITFIELD: All right, happening right now, Germany is marking 30 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall. Celebrations are taking place at the city's Brandenburg Gate where earlier today German Chancellor Angela Merkel took part in more somber ceremonies. The wall was built in 1961 and marks the split between the east and west. But on November 9, 1989, people from both sides swarmed to chip away, tearing down that wall that divided the city of Berlin and that paved the way for eventual reunification.

[12:45:01] CNN's Fred Pleitgen is near the place of all the celebrations. What's happening?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi there, Fredricka. Well, they do have a lot of those celebrations that are going on as you've mentioned. Tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands of people there at the Brandenburg Gate. Of course, that iconic site, a place we are actually very iconic as well.

This is one of the final stretches of the Berlin Wall that actually still stands. It's called the east side gallery, and as you can see there's a lot of folks who've also turned out here to also take part in those celebrations and celebrate the wall going down. Now, you're absolutely right, the mood was a little more somber today than it has been, for instance, in big anniversaries five years ago in the past where a lot of folks are saying look, right now, those -- that feeling of freedom, that feeling of unity in Germany and in Europe is something that can't be taken for granted anymore.

Of course, some of the political developments that you've seen here in Europe with the rise of the far-right wing in places like Germany, in other countries as well, Brexit, a lot of folks also speaking about some of the political divisions in the United States saying, look, channel that feeling of 1989 in Berlin, that feeling where the folks in east Germany went and just pushed through that wall and essentially made it go away and try not to lose that feeling today. And that's certainly the message that this city, they say, is trying to send out to the world and to the many places where they feel that unity and freedom might be in jeopardy, Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: And then Fred, while you were talking there were a few people behind you near that car and there are still people there, but there were folks who were taking pictures. What's the significance of that? PLEITGEN: So the car is actually our own car. This is the CNN (INAUDIBLE) car and few people know that one of the main attractions, Fredricka, here in Berlin is actually our own car. So this was the epitome of communist East German automotive engineering. It's made of PVC plastic, the entire shell, and its got 40 horsepower and this was basically what people were driving and this is also what a lot of people drove through the Berlin Wall, through the gates when they opened, so it became an iconic picture.

Now, I'm 6'5, I actually drive this car. And this is one thing I've been wanting to show you this for a very long time because getting in is an adventure in itself. So I basically have to get like this. The legs are the biggest problem and then I just try to go like this.

WHITFIELD: Oh, no way. And do not tell me that --

PLEITGEN: That is how they looked like in East Germany. It's a stick shift. The stick is right here. It's a stick shift.

WHITFIELD: How are you doing that?

PLEITGEN: Can you imagine four guys my size going on holiday? Yes, it's very difficult because my legs are up here. It's difficult --

WHITFIELD: That is not advisable.

PLEITGEN: -- but somehow it works.

WHITFIELD: No, that cannot be safe for you. Not for anyone probably over six feet.

PLEITGEN: I can't get out anymore but this is basically what it was like.

WHITFIELD: You're going to have to roll out of there. But safely.

PLEITGEN: Yes, exactly.

WHITFIELD: Fred Pleitgen, OK, we'll let you do that in the commercial break. It's enough that you had to get in it. Thank you so much.

All right, still to come, a new study from the U.S. Secret Service and what it says about how to prevent school shootings. But first, meet one of this year's top 10 CNN heroes who is giving donkeys a second chance at life.


MARK MEYERS, CNN HERO: Donkeys speak to my soul. Yes, that lip will come loose, won't it? Donkeys are like dogs. They're amazing animals that nobody gets. I understand what they're thinking and there are so many donkeys in so many places that need so much help.

There's nothing cuter than a baby donkey. We're saving them, we're improving their lives. I want to see every donkey find its happiness, its happy place, its a peaceful place. (END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: For your favorite top 10 hero, go to



WHITFIELD: All right, typically when you think of the roles of the U.S. Secret Service you probably think about the protection of the U.S. president and other political figures, right? Well, the protective force has also now conducted a comprehensive study on protecting America's schools. The U.S. Secret Service's national threat assessment reports shows that most school attackers showed warning signs and that many of the mass shootings could have been prevented. It's the most comprehensive review of school attacks since the Columbine shootings in 1999.

The study found that most of the attackers had mental health issues and were bullied in school. It also found most had disciplinary issues at school and run-ins with law enforcement. The study also discovered that most of the attackers had warned of intent to threaten or kill before they actually carried out the violence.

Let's bring in CNN law enforcement analyst and former Secret Service agent Jonathan Wackrow. Jonathan, good to see you. So, what jumped out to you about this report?

JONATHAN WACKROW, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, there's a couple of things in this report, again, it is a very comprehensive report put forth by the National Threat Assessment Center of the Secret Service. Timing I think is key on this. You know, they did not release this report in the aftermath of some sort of crisis. So that's indicating that this report (INAUDIBLE) is looking towards preventative measures not reactive.

A couple of things that really stuck out to me were the fact that there's not one single profile of a student attacker. They come from all types of, you know, walks of life. That coupled with the fact that motivation-- there were multiple motivational factors that were assessed in these attacks. Everything from, you know, adjudicating a grievance to notoriety. And I think that's where law enforcement has the challenge that there's not one single solution that will solve for targeted school violence.

However, this report does, you know, show some commonality around the 41 incidents that they assessed. And to me, one of the biggest indicators is the fact that you highlighted just in the intro here, is that almost in every single incident the attacker had communicated his or her intent to cause harm. And I think that's something that law enforcement and school officials need to focus on in the future.

WHITFIELD: So then how might this study be able to help in the prevention of attacks?

[12:55:01] WACKROW: Well, listen, the Secret Service has laid out a really

comprehensive model on how to address -- this is a strategy, it's not one single solution. They're going to have to go through and they discuss for school administrators how to, you know, have a preventative model, not a reactive model. And that preventative model starts with a threat assessment. That's core to the Secret Service on everything they do. It's a threat-based methodology.

So how do you do that in the school environment? What you need to do is bring forth a multidisciplinary approach to that threat assessment. You bring in educators, you bring in counselors, mental health practitioners. Bringing them altogether because everyone has a different optic and stake in dealing with behavioral issues within our educational system.

So you need to bring that all together to understand what are the threats that we're looking at. At the end of the day, what we're trying to do is get ahead of behavioral problems. We talked all the time in the aftermath of a crisis that, you know, there are missed flags, these -- there were behavioral indicators. Here, the Secret Service is outlying all of that for you. They're saying if you follow this model, you can help prevent these tragic events from happening in the future by addressing things in advance of them even transcending into a violent act.

WHITFIELD: So important all of this information, Jonathan Wackrow. Thank you so much.

WACKROW: Thanks a lot, Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right, and I'll be right back at the top of the hour with more on the impeachment inquiry and what President Trump has to say about public hearings.