Return to Transcripts main page


Supreme Court Hears DACA Case; Roger Stone Declines to Testify; Public Impeachment Hearings Set For Tomorrow. Aired 3-3:30p ET

Aired November 12, 2019 - 15:00   ET



MAEVE RESTON, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: But it could be in 2024 and beyond, if he really is damaged by this, Brooke.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: All right, Maeve Reston, thank you.

RESTON: Thank you.

BALDWIN: All right, we continue on. You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin.

House Intel Chairman Adam Schiff has a warning for any of his Republican colleagues who may want to use these public impeachment hearings for partisan grandstanding. Don't try it.

In a memo to his members of his committee, Schiff wrote in part -- quote -- "The House's impeachment inquiry and the committee will not serve as venues to further the same sham investigations into the Bidens or into debunked conspiracies about the 2016 U.S. election interference."

Schiff went on to say that his panel will not help President Trump or his allies -- quote -- "threaten, intimidate or retaliate against the whistle-blower."

So let's start with Phil Mattingly up on Capitol Hill, our congressional correspondent there.

And, Phil, we have also gotten a preview of the main defenses the Republicans plan to use, starting with this phone call between President Trump and President Zelensky.

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Republicans, Brooke, for a long time were talking about process. Now they're clearly moving into substance.

And that's a reality that they're grasping that this is -- the stakes are huge here. And they understand that everybody needs to come together on their side and really present a unified counterargument to what Democrats are saying.

We got a look at that counterargument when we got an 18-page memo crafted by Republican staff laying out kind of their key points against what Democrats are doing. But there are interesting points. I want to kind of walk you through them right now, because they all kind of have a thread.


MATTINGLY: And that thread is almost a straight-line defense of the president. If X wasn't said, then X could not have been meant.

So take the first piece that they're pointing to, the July 25 phone call between Presidents Trump and Zelensky. They say -- and they're -- in that memo that that call explicitly does not show any conditionality of evidence or pressure from President Trump.

But the context here is important. We have seen reams of testimony from people who were involved in the U.S.-Ukraine policy that, leading up to that phone call, there were lengthy negotiations about the Ukrainians putting out a statement that explicitly mentioned investigations into Burisma, into Hunter Biden, and into alleged 2016 election interference.

That's the context. That phone call mentioned Joe Biden, mentioned the 2016 election. It's pretty sure that the Ukrainian president knew what that meant.

So move to the next key point that they try and make, that both presidents have since said that no pressure was kind of thrown out on that phone call. Obviously, President Trump, who points to that phone call repeatedly, would not say that there was any pressure, given that that's his primary defense.

President Zelensky, for his part, knowing the U.S.-Ukraine relationship is so integral, given the fact they are currently at war with Russia, likely doesn't want to get crosswise with President Trump.

So that's how you see, contextually, it's a different story than perhaps the straight-line points. But this is giving you a read Republicans are going to be pointing to this week.

BALDWIN: The other key focus we're about to hear on the Republican defense is on the actual Ukraine aid that was held up.

So, explain, Phil, what they're arguing there.

MATTINGLY: So there's two points here that Republicans want to point out.

And the first is the fact that the Ukrainians did not have any knowledge that the aid was actually being withheld throughout this process, including during that July 25 phone call. Their understanding -- and based on some testimony, this appears to be the case -- the Ukrainians were not aware the aid was being withheld until a Politico story came out at the end of August saying just that.

But we have now seen testimony, two of which transcripts were released yesterday, that made very clear that officials in the United States were getting word from Ukrainian officials that they were in fact aware that the U.S. security assistance had been held up much earlier than that late July -- or -- sorry -- late August article.

So there does appear to be evidence that the Ukrainians were aware. They may not have talked about it publicly through U.S. channels, but individuals were aware that it was being held up. So that's one piece of it.

The second piece is that the aid was eventually released. President Trump on September 11 signed off on the nearly $400 million of U.S. security assistance to Ukraine actually moving forward. And, therefore, if the aid was released, it wasn't held up and nothing was given in exchange, there could not have been a quid pro quo or extortion.

The context here is also important. By September 11, when this aid was released, multiple things were happening behind the scenes. The White House was aware that the whistle-blower complaint had been filed. The political pressure from both Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill was coming in waves, extreme political pressure.

There were elements here that were happening behind the scenes that makes it very unlikely, if not completely unlikely, that the president just decided on September 11, hey, you know what, I'm going to release the aid.

And so I think the context here is, you're seeing the two different arguments almost kind of in a straight line here. Democrats are pointing to, look at the entire picture, look at what you have seen in the depositions, and the picture that paints about the entire context of the Ukrainian policy between President Trump and his top officials, including those outside the government.

And Republicans are saying, read the transcript. See the direct lines. That is the only defense we need.

And we're going to see this all play out over the course both Wednesday and on Friday, Brooke.

BALDWIN: Yes. So that's a preview of what's to come.

Phil, thank you very much.

Now, the question is, how will tomorrow's public hearings actually work? It's a bit different than what we're used to seeing on Capitol Hill.

CNN's Rene Marsh is here on that angle.

And so tell us exactly how this is supposed to go.


RENE MARSH, CNN GOVERNMENT REGULATION CORRESPONDENT: So, Brooke, when you're watching tomorrow, keep in mind there is really just one goal, convince the American public to impeach for abuse of power, if you're a Democrat, or not impeach, if you're Republican. Now, the first witnesses that we see, they're really going to set the tone. And these are going to be the first two witnesses. You have Bill Taylor. He is a top U.S. diplomat to Ukraine. And you have George Kent, a former senior State Department employee.

We know that they are going to essentially tell the lawmakers sitting on the dais there -- Bill Taylor's going to say that he had a clear understanding that military aid was indeed tied to investigations into Trump's political rivals. And George Kent will say he understood that a White House meeting between Ukraine's new president and Trump were contingent on investigating the Bidens.

And it'll all happen in this room, the largest room in the House. There's some 150 seats in this room. It has the feel of a small theater. The two witnesses will be sitting side by side. This will be their view, the lawmakers there , staff attorneys launching questions at them. Again, that will be their view.

Now, the questions, that is going to be the key tomorrow. The hearing will look very different, as you mentioned. Democrats don't want this to become a partisan grandstanding session. So, expect that we will see uninterrupted flow of questions from each side, the chairman, Adam Schiff, as well as the ranking member, Devin Nunes.

They will each get 45 minutes for questions. That's the largest chunk of time that individuals will have tomorrow. But they will cede most of their time to the committee's staff attorneys. On the left, you have Daniel Goldman. He's a former federal prosecutor with the Southern District of New York. He prosecuted New York City's mob crime family.

You also have Steve Castor for the Republicans. He is counsel for House Oversight Committee, but he's been brought over for these hearings. And Democrats will be asking questions to essentially establish the facts, weave together this narrative.

Republicans will want to defend the president and undercut those witnesses. But, again, the key for tomorrow, they don't want this partisan circus that we have seen with other hearings, what you're used to seeing on Capitol Hill.

These are all the other members of the House Intelligence Committee. On the left, you have all the Democrats, 12 of them. Each of them get five minutes only to ask questions. And on the right, you have all of the Republicans, only eight of them, and they will only get five minutes each.

If you notice there Jim Jordan's name there. He wasn't on this committee before Friday. He was added on Friday, as you know, Brooke, a fierce, fierce defender of the president, added to this committee so that he too will get a chance at asking questions.

We believe that this should wrap up at around 4:30 tomorrow, setting the stage for part two, which is on Friday, for yet another witness.

BALDWIN: All right, Rene, thank you very much. And as these public hearings are about to get under way tomorrow, some

in the Trump administration are faced with a decision, comply or defy those congressional subpoenas.

Case in point, the acting chief of staff over at the White House, Mick Mulvaney, he has decided he will not pursue a court fight and will instead obey the president and will not testify against him.

My next guest is Chris Whipple. He wrote the book "The Gatekeepers: How the White House Chiefs of Staff Define Every Presidency."

And we will come back to that subtitle in just a second and how that may not apply to the current administration, but it's good to have you back.


BALDWIN: And let's just look at Mick Mulvaney's last 72 hours, because it's been kind of wild, right?

So he initially files this inquiry to join in on the Charles Kupperman lawsuit, withdraws, files his own suit, withdraws, and basically says, I'm going to go with whatever the president says.

This is also the same person who played a role in drafting that letter telling White House aides not to comply with subpoenas. Do you think Trump's gotten to him?

WHIPPLE: I don't know.

But none of it really made any sense. These were bizarre bedfellows, to say the least. Obviously, Bolton and Kupperman had no use for Mulvaney, didn't want him in the lawsuit. The judge threw him out. Now he's withdrawn his own lawsuit.

It's really a Keystone Cops operation at this point at the White House. They're running in circles. They have no idea what they're doing. And the fundamental problem is, of course, much deeper than that.

I mean, you have a White House with no moral compass to begin with. But you also have a White House with no functioning chief of staff. I was really critical of John Kelly, his predecessor, but I think Kelly was right when he warned Trump that, if you choose a yes-man as my successor, you will be impeached.

And here we are. I mean, it's astonishing that anybody other than Donald Trump thought it would be a good idea to have a drug deal, as John Bolton described it.

BALDWIN: Proverbial drug deal.

WHIPPLE: But guess who was the drug dealer? I mean, if Rudy Giuliani was the El Chapo of that deal, then I guess Mulvaney was the Pablo Escobar. He was in it up to his eyeballs. And here we are. [15:10:08]

BALDWIN: I'm just letting that analogy sit with me, as I have heard of a lot of analogies in this seat, but that's a new one.


BALDWIN: And I'm -- so many people want to hear from him. And, so far, he says he's going with whatever the president wants him to do.

You said you have never heard a chief of staff disobeying a president. So do you expect, like, real loyalty here?

WHIPPLE: It's hard to say.

I mean, some people may think that the long knives are now coming out.


WHIPPLE: We're seeing a lot of people at each other's throats. And Cipollone, the attorney, and Mulvaney certainly don't seem to be on the same page.

For all the reasons I just described, Mick Mulvaney is in a world of trouble. If he were to go under oath and try to say what he said to Chris Wallace a week ago, in other words, trying to backtrack everything that he blurted out on national TV in the White House press Briefing Room, he could be looking at really serious legal jeopardy.

I mean, H.R. Haldeman went to prison, Richard Nixon's White House chief of staff. Nobody was more loyal than Haldeman. But he wound up in prison for perjury, obstruction and conspiracy. And I think Mulvaney is headed down the same path, or could be.

BALDWIN: That's what, obviously, the House Democrats are trying to figure out. They're trying to find that direct link from how this could have happened specifically to the president and a lot of question marks by Mick Mulvaney's name.

So you see this playing out as him potentially...

WHIPPLE: Well, I think that, look, Mulvaney's fate is hard from -- I'm not going to speculate on what will happen to Mulvaney.

But I think, at the end of the day, this is a White House without an effective White House chief of staff, and that is big trouble. I mean, this White House is headed for a world of trouble. And I think part of it is hubris. Part of it is the fact that they were convinced that Bob Mueller was the whole ball game, and that when they got past Mueller, it was game, set and match.

All their troubles were behind them. They never saw this coming. They should have seen it coming. But that's what hubris will do to you. And I think this White House has been victimized by that.

BALDWIN: Chris Whipple, thank you for your perspective on all of this.

WHIPPLE: Thank you.

BALDWIN: Hubris, we have heard that word around this White House certainly before.

We are also today following breaking news out of two other courtrooms. President Trump's former adviser Roger Stone has just declined to take the stand in his own trial. But another witness has shed new light on what the president knew about the WikiLeaks drop back in 2016. So, we have that news for you.

Also ahead, the U.S. Supreme Court is hearing critical arguments today that could impact the lives of hundreds of thousands of dreamers. I'll talk live to one of them who traveled to Washington to see all of this unfold in person.

And, later, another potential latecomer to the 2020 race -- why former Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick may jump in here.

You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin.



BALDWIN: We're back. You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin.

The prosecution has now rested in the Roger Stone criminal trial. And Stone's attorney says the longtime Trump associate will not testify in his own defense.

But the jury will hear from him. Defense attorneys will play audio from Stone's closed-door testimony before the House Intelligence Committee.

Also a key focus today, testimony from Rick Gates, a former 2016 Trump campaign aide. He testified that the Trump campaign was in a -- quote, unquote -- "state of happiness" over WikiLeaks' release of DNC e-mails.

Gates also testified that Trump talked to Stone by phone after the first WikiLeaks dump and that Trump said that he was told more information would be coming. But that alleged phone call with Stone contradicts what Trump told special counsel Robert Mueller in his written responses.

CNN contributor Garrett Graff is with me.

And, Garrett, since you were so in the weeds on all things Mueller, I wanted to talk to you. Walk us through what Trump said in those written responses to Mueller, compared to what we heard from Rick Gates today.

GARRETT GRAFF, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Yes. Trump's response,this is part of the evidence that came out as part of the Mueller report. They released the questions in writing that Donald Trump had submitted to the special counsel. And the -- he said at the time that he had no recollection of the specifics of his conversations with Roger Stone, and that he did not recall talking about WikiLeaks and he did not recall any means pre -- any early sign that WikiLeaks' dumps were coming.

Now, of course, in sort of legal terms, those are what Bob Mueller would call weasel words, that he -- they left just enough room that they do not directly contradict what Mueller -- sorry -- what Roger Stone's trial told us today, where Rick Gates said that he was aware of a conversation where Roger Stone was discussing this with the president in July of 2016 and that the campaign was aware as early as April 2016 that Russia had some of these WikiLeaks dumps coming of hacked Hillary Clinton e-mails, stolen Hillary Clinton e-mails.


And so it's a complicated situation, in that Rick Gates does not directly catch the president in a lie, but it does make the president's version very hard to believe.

BALDWIN: Do you think, in part maybe because of some of those weasel words, that what we have actually learned from the Roger Stone trial paints a clearer picture than Robert Mueller was able to paint?

GRAFF: Yes, absolutely.

And one of the things that the this early information -- and it's curious that we didn't know some of this information until today, because Rick Gates moving back that the campaign had knowledge of these forthcoming dumps by WikiLeaks as early as April of 2016 actually sheds some new light potentially on one of the big mysteries that still remains, which is mainly, how did Trump campaign aide George Papadopoulos know in May of 2016 that these dumps were coming?

Remember, it was that conversation where George Papadopoulos was talking to an Australian diplomat in a London wine bar that he said Russia had information that it was going to -- that Russia had dirt on Hillary Clinton that it was going to dump publicly.

That was what kicked off the whole FBI investigation that has brought us up to today. It was Australia saying, hey, there's something weird going on with Russia, and the Trump campaign knows about it.

BALDWIN: Garrett Graff, you are so good on all of this. Thank you so much. Good to good to see you today.

Coming up next: demonstrations on the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court, as justices hear a case that will decide the fate of hundreds of thousands of dreamers. And we will talk to one of them live who was there.

And as the court declines to take up a case putting a gun manufacturer against the Sandy Hook families -- this is happening today -- what that means for the future of this lawsuit.




UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTERS: Home is here! Home is here! Home is here!


BALDWIN: What they're chanting, "Home is here," an emotional scene there on the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court.

Today, justices heard arguments in this historic case that will decide the fate of hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants in this country.

These people are among the roughly 700,000 young people who were brought to the United States by their parents as children. The fates of the so-called dreamers has been in limbo really ever since President Trump called for an end to the Obama era DACA program. And that gave them the right to legally work in the United States and shielded them from deportation.

So, CNN contributor Caitlin Dickerson is with us. She is the national immigration reporter for "The New York Times." She's written extensively about this issue. And Pierre Berastain Ojeda is a DACA recipient ever since 2012. He came to the U.S. as a child with his parents from South America in the late '90s and was an undocumented immigrant for 14 years.

So, welcome to both of you.

And, Pierre, let me begin with you there in Washington.

You are in Washington because you wanted to be there on the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court. We just played the chants, "Home is here."

What was that moment like for you?


I think that, Brooke, if I take you back to when I was some undocumented, I can think of the many sleepless nights and the times that I felt alone. And the only time that I felt that I was able to make it through the next day was when I was in community, when I was with people who understood it.

And being around thousands of people who were chanting "Home is here" and "We belong," it was reenergizing. It just showed the resiliency of immigrant communities. And it was just a beautiful moment.

BALDWIN: I want to come back to your story in just a second.

But, Caitlin, hammer home the gravity of the Supreme Court's decision. CAITLIN DICKERSON, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: This case is huge, and not in

terms of numbers. Like you pointed out, there about 700,000 people who have DACA out of at least 11 million undocumented immigrants living in this country.

And yet they're among the most powerful political symbols that you can imagine, not even just with regard to immigration, but generally speaking. I mean, this is a group of people in the United States who've experienced and enjoyed widespread support among Republicans and Democrats for years.

There's a very high bar in order to get this status. More than 90 percent of them have jobs. They're doctors. They're lawyers. They are people who are embedded into the fabric of American communities and who have a whole lot of support.

So there's a lot of emotional weight behind this decision.

BALDWIN: On the emotional piece of this, Pierre, I read that you came from Peru. Your parents brought you here in 1998. So that means you were how old at the time?


BALDWIN: You were 10.

And so fast-forward to, you went to school, you now have work.

Tell me just a bit about your life...


BALDWIN: ... and, prior to DACA, how much of a struggle emotionally it was for you.


I mean, I got DACA, as you mentioned, in 2012, when President Obama announced that his administration was offering this path for -- temporary path for people like me.

I was at the time at Harvard. I was -- I had been there as an undergraduate, and I had started my graduate studies at the