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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER
Public Impeachment Testimony Analysis; Trump's First Reaction to Public Impeachment Testimony. Aired 4-4:30p ET
Aired November 13, 2019 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
QUESTION: Mr. Jordan, what about the idea, though -- and this is something that Mr. Castro got into, the idea that there is attempted crimes, attempted murder, attempted burglary, and even if something was attempted, even if there was no deliverable, isn't that relevant still if something was -- quote -- "attempted"?
REP. JIM JORDAN (R-OH): Chad, Chad, Chad, look, Ukraine is one -- as Ernst & Young said, one of the three most corrupt countries on the planet.
President Trump and our administration -- or his administration was checking them out. And guess what?
After President -- after Vice President Pence visited with Mr. Zelensky, after senators -- bipartisan -- Senator Johnson and Murphy visited with President Zelensky, six days later, the aid is released, because they all became convinced, this is the guy worth sending the hard-earned tax dollars of the American people to.
That is clear from the record. Never once in this 55-day time frame, never once did President Zelensky announce that he was going to start any type of investigation into Burisma or Bidens, never once. And yet the aid got released.
So the facts are the facts. You guys can talk about all you want and the Democrats can do all they want, but the facts will not change. And I think the American people clearly see that.
QUESTION: ... these are secondhand witnesses...
JORDAN: Not secondhand.
Sondland talk to Yermak, and then -- Yermak and Sondland have a conversation. And then Sondland talks to Morrison. And then Morrison talks to Taylor. And this all happens in Warsaw, where Vice President Pence is meeting with President Zelensky, and nothing happens there. That's unbelievable.
QUESTION: To finish the question, the White House has been blocking some of the firsthand witnesses from actually coming and participating in this inquiry, from responding to requests to testify.
JORDAN: And these are close advisers of the president.
QUESTION: Should they be coming...
JORDAN: That's that's a long, long tradition in our country and precedent in our country. These are close advisers to the president. And there's a court case.
We will see that. I think it's December 10 they're going to rule on the Bolton motion. So we will find out then.
QUESTION: So, you do not -- do you not believe his testimony that Gordon Sondland made clear that after his conversation with President Trump, that everything was contingent on announcing this investigation?
Are you just simply saying you don't believe...
JORDAN: No, I understand the facts.
As Ms. Stefanik just said, as we said, as we said in the committee, I understand the facts. And the facts are squarely, strongly on the president's side.
And I think, again, the American people see that.
QUESTION: Well, he talked to Gordon Sondland, who talked to the president.
JORDAN: Take one more.
JORDAN: Well, I want to hear from -- in the whistle-blower's complaint, bullet point number one, he says this: "Over the past four months, I have talked to more than half-a-dozen U.S. officials."
I want to hear from the whistle-blower and those officials that he or she talked to. I want to hear from those individuals.
JORDAN: Again, that's -- that's their call. These are close advisers to the president. The long history of our country is, they don't have to testify.
QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) JORDAN: Yes. Yes. Well, we will see what the court says on Bolton and Mulvaney.
JORDAN: Yes, yes.
JORDAN: That's up to them. That's up to them. Thank you.
QUESTION: And do you feel, though, just because there are alleged associations, the whistle-blower with a Democratic politician, a prominent Democrat, that that biases that person inherently?
Is that part of your...
JORDAN: All I have ever said is -- all I have ever said is, there's one member of Congress who knows who the whistle-blower is, and one member of Congress whose staff has met with the whistle-blower.
And that's Adam Schiff. It hadn't happened to anyone else.
QUESTION: Is it OK to ask for the president to ask for an investigation into the Bidens from the Ukrainians? Is that OK?
JORDAN: I think what should happen is, the whistle-blower should testify.
All we asked for today with our motion was to depose the whistle- blower. Thank you.
QUESTION: How was day one on the Intel Committee? Did you have fun?
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: That's Congressman Jim Jordan of Ohio, Republican on the committee, just named to the committee.
And you heard a reporter there trying to get him to answer the question, is it OK for the president to try to get a foreign country, in this case, Ukraine, to investigate his political rivals, in this case, the Bidens?
And Congressman Jordan refused to answer the question. It's an answer -- it's a question, rather, that many Republican members of the House and Senate have refused to answer altogether.
Mike Gerhardt, I want to go to you, because when Congressman Jordan was talking, you said, that's not right. He was saying something not correct. What was he saying?
MICHAEL GERHARDT, CONSTITUTIONAL LAW PROFESSOR: He was saying there's a long tradition in our country of having people working in or near the White House or in the administration not testifying. That's just completely not true.
And the fact is, there's no privilege under our Constitution and in our law that prevents people from talking about or disclosing criminal activity or abuse of power.
So, no privilege is going to protect somebody from reporting that, especially if they were witness to it, if they heard it.
TAPPER: All right, good point of clarification.
DAVID URBAN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, but that's assuming criminal activity or abuse of power.
TAPPER: Or abuse of power.
TAPPER: But it's, of course, what this...
TAPPER: ... is about.
But we have the chair -- the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Adam Schiff, is about to speak right now. Let's -- let's listen.
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): OK, thank you.
I just wanted to make a few observations about the hearing today.
First of all, I want to thank these incredible public servants for their testimony, for their decades of experience. I think, between the two of them, they have half-a-century to a century of experience in serving the country, in war, as well as in peace.
I thought their testimony very powerful. Obviously, these are two very credible witnesses who speak from the heart and who have the greatest dedication, not only to the United States, but the deepest care for Ukraine, a deep and abiding interest in Ukraine and its future and its prospects.
The portrait that I think their testimony paints is one of an irregular channel that ran from the president through Mick Mulvaney, Ambassador Sondland, Ambassador Volker, on down to Rudy Giuliani, in which the president sought to advance his political and personal interests, at the expense of United States national security.
And the president that by pressing this vulnerable ally to get involved in the next presidential election in a way that the president thought would advance his reelection prospects, did so by inviting Zelensky to do these political investigations, and, more than that, did so by conditioning a White House meeting, as well as, ultimately, hundreds of millions of dollars in military aid needed by this ally.
Now, a couple points on the White House meeting and on the military aid.
This was a new and politically inexperienced president of Ukraine with a lot of promise who ran a campaign based on ending the conflict in Ukraine with the Russians, but also fighting corruption.
It was, I think, a euphoric time for Ukrainians to have this reformer as their president. It was important, as we heard today, that this new president could demonstrate to friend and foe like, to both his own countrymen, but also to his adversary, the Russians, that he had a strong relationship with the president of the United States.
A White House meeting is one of the best ways to demonstrate that. And so this is something Zelensky clearly wanted, and came back to time after time, and his people came back time after time: When are we going to get that meeting? When are we going to schedule that meeting that you said we would get?
And time and time again, the answer came back, we first want you to commit to these political investigations to help the president's reelection campaign, and we want you to do it publicly.
And then we would learn, as they learned and as they testified, that not only was this meeting conditioned, but also this military aid at a time when Ukrainians were dying every week.
And so we will hear other witnesses, I think, who will corroborate much of what you heard today. Today allowed you to hear from Ukraine, from Ambassador Taylor's perspective and from the view from Washington from Mr. Kent's perspective.
Other witnesses will fill in some of the pieces before, after and during, but we don't expect the facts are largely going to be contested. There wasn't much of an effort by the Republicans today to contest these facts.
Ultimately, what we will need to decide, what I hope members on both sides of the aisle in the House and, if necessary in the Senate, what I hope members will think about is, what do these facts mean for the future of our country? What do these facts mean in terms of what Americans should expect from a president of the United States?
Are we prepared to say that asking a foreign nation now to intervene in our elections is something that is a perk of the office of the presidency? Are we prepared to say that conditioning taxpayer-funded military assistance to an ally that is fighting a fight in which we have a deep stake is also now a perk of the office of the presidency?
Are we now going to say that other official acts can be conditioned on another country giving something of value to the president of the United States, is just now going to be the new normal for the president of the United States?
I don't think we can allow that to be the new normal, acceptable in any way, shape, or form, or will it not only permit this president to seek other ways to bring about interference in our election, but it will invite future presidents to do the same.
So we have some very difficult questions to answer at the end of the day about what these facts require us to do. But you will be hearing shortly from other witnesses, who I think will corroborate much of what you heard today.
And with that, I'm happy to answer a couple of questions.
QUESTION: What do you make of the new information today that he presented to the committee, that Mr. Taylor's aide overheard this phone call with Gordon Sondland and the president?
And, secondly, do you believe that Gordon Sondland, when he testifies, will be truthful to your committee about his interactions with the president?
SCHIFF: Well, first of all, in terms of the new information that Ambassador Taylor gave today about this conversation the day after President Trump is on the phone with President Zelensky, in which one of Ambassador Taylor's staff is overhearing a conversation between Sondland and the president, and the president is speaking loud enough where he can hear part of the conversation.
And the president is interested in whether the Ukrainians are going to do the investigation. And Sondland assures him that they are.
This is very -- obviously, very important, because there is an effort, apparently, to -- by the president's allies, throw Sondland under the bus, throw Mulvaney under the bus, throw anybody under the bus in an effort to protect the president.
But what this call indicates, as other testimony has likewise indicated, is that the instructions are coming from the president on down.
Mick Mulvaney made that abundantly clear in his press conference. But this call also makes it abundantly clear. And I think Ambassador Taylor made it abundantly clear, when Taylor testified that he wanted Sondland to push back on Trump's demand for these investigations.
That is not asking Sondland to change his view. It's asking Sondland to help change the president's view, the president's demand.
And so I think this witness is potentially very important. And, of course, we are moving to depose this witness. And we have already scheduled their deposition.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Last question. QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)
SCHIFF: Look, I'm reserving judgment on the ultimate questions once the testimony is complete about what should follow from this, what are the consequences.
It is certainly the case that the founders were deeply concerned that a president of the United States one day may be elected to office that would put his or her interests above the country, that would sacrifice our national security, either to get a political or personal favor or owing to some foreign influence.
So the facts that have come to light are very much what the founders had in mind, I think, when they provided a remedy. So we are going to have to make that decision. I am not prejudging it.
The only thing I will say, because I didn't answer the second part of your question, Manu, in terms of Ambassador Sondland, one of the reasons why we want to do these hearings now in public, having done the deposition in closed session, is, we want the American people to be able to evaluate the credibility of the witnesses for themselves.
And I'm confident that they will.
TAPPER: That is Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee Adam Schiff, Democrat of California.
We're going to squeeze in a quick break.
We're going to have much more of our coverage of this momentous day, the first day of public impeachment inquiry hearings.
Stay with us. We will be right back.
TAPPER: A historic day on Capitol Hill for the first public impeachment inquiry hearings for President Trump.
Let's chew over all of this. We are awaiting President Trump and Turkish President Erdogan taking questions and we'll go to that live.
But before we do that, there was a point you were making because Jim Jordan had talked about, Congressman Jim Jordan, the Republican, who had been asked, well, if you are criticizing all these people for secondhand information, these two witnesses, what about bringing in the people with firsthand information and he said there is a tradition of that not happening because of executive privilege and you said that is not necessarily correct.
GERHARDT: I want to give you one great historical example where somebody came in and had to talk about the president, that was President Nixon's White House counsel, John Dean. Nixon's White House counsel office had one person in it, John Dean. John Dean came in and he testified in front of Congress and that was significant testimony and the reason he was able to do that is because he was testifying about things that were not lawful.
And that is what we've heard John Bolton call this a drug deal, we've also -- Mulvaney at one point said it was a quid pro quo. So these are people to hear from. But the president right now is keeping them away from the public.
URBAN: I'll just make a point. There is a tradition, a long tradition of executive privilege. It's not enumerated in the Constitution. It's implied as separation of powers and we saw it in the Clinton administration during whitewater, Monica Lewinsky, the Bush administration, Obama administration on Fast and Furious. So, somehow to say is not -- doesn't exist --
TAPPER: But what about people that are no longer in the White House, for instance, such as John Bolton and that is a question, would you support John Bolton testifies?
URBAN: There is a legitimate separation of powers, issue I think that needs to be resolved by the courts. I do believe that. Listen, I believe it's absolutely true.
I've come on here before, listen, when the president tried to get the emergency executive order for spending, I opposed it and thought it was a bad idea because of separation of powers. I do believe -- you might not think so, but I think the court is the ultimate arbiter of this, and the court will determine.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: Remember, too, and this came up in the testimony today, not only has the president refused to allow witnesses to testify, but all of the documents, all of the underlying emails, memos, all of the -- how government works is largely on paper or through electronic transmission.
And as we learned today, they've turned over none of that.
URBAN: Yes, but that is exactly -- but, Jeff, did it happen in Fast and Furious?
TOOBIN: No, they turned over some --
URBAN: Come on. Come on.
TOOBIN: They didn't turn over everything you wanted in that totally manufactured and fake scandal. URBAN: Of course you say that.
TOOBIN: But there was a dispute. But here they've turned over nothing. Absolutely zero.
TAPPER: So let me ask you a question, Jen Psaki as a Democrat on the panel. Do you think that the Democrats achieved what they needed to achieve today?
JEN PSAKI, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I do. In part because I think Adam Schiff is exactly the person who should be leading this testimony and leading these hearings at this point in time. He tried to conduct it with a somber note, with a serious note.
And what I heard from him in his closing remarks during the press conference is really important. He's taking this beyond Trump. It is not just about removing Trump from office. It's not just about Democrats disliking Trump. It is about the precedent we're setting for the future.
And he was very clear on that by saying, you know, we don't want to set the precedent that in the future, any president should be able to get political dirt on their opponent. They should be able to use their office for political gain, and that's the question for the public. He's trying to pose this question to the public that they're ultimately going to need to decide on and it is not just --
URBAN: And what about Speaker Pelosi statement in May where she said, we're not going to go to impeachment unless we have clear and overwhelming bipartisan support because it's so divisive? What about that?
PSAKI: David, I was not an advocate for moving for impeachment and neither were the national security Democrats who came forward in "The Washington Post" op-ed, the Ukraine situation changed the dynamic and the change the views of Democrats in Congress --
URBAN: But what about her statement? What about that statement that she made, saying that unless there is clear and overwhelming support, bipartisan support I'm not going to move forward because it is so divisive? What about that?
NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: Well, there is. If you look at polling --
URBAN: No, come on. No bipartisan support in Congress. I'm talking about Nancy Pelosi.
HENDERSON: Listen, there is growing support in the public, certainly for the hearings.
PELOSI: Not in Congress.
HENDERSON: Overwhelm support for the hearings. PSAKI: I think, David, this isn't the easiest thing honestly for the
Democrats to do because there is not a clear path for 20 Republicans to come on board for impeachment. They're doing it because they feel they can't not do it.
URBAN: What about Nancy Pelosi's statement about --
PSAKI: I'm answering your question.
TAPPER: But, David, let me ask you, do you think it's okay for any White House, any politician to use whatever pressure they have, even if it is just phrased as a polite question to ask a foreign government to investigate and announce a investigation of a political rival.
URBAN: So, and no, again, I look at this and say the president -- again, the long conversation with president and President Zelensky primarily based on the server notion, this --
TAPPER: The CrowdStrike --
URBAN: Primarily based on there and Zelensky raised the Biden stuff and they talk about it briefly and Zelensky said I didn't feel pressure by it --
TAPPER: But you're changing the subject a little bit. I'm just asking, do you think it is OK --
URBAN: I don't think it's a great -- no. I would prefer the president wouldn't have said those things about the Bidens. I think CrowdStrike, retrospective corruption, I think it's completely fine and within his purview to do.
So I think you could have talked about past corruption with Biden and Hunter Biden, the past thing there. I don't think prospectively it is a good thing.
GERHARDT: Could I make a quick point about constitutional law?
GERHARDT: I want to clarify this and make sure the public gets it right. The president does not have an absolute executive immunity in impeachment investigations.
GERHARDT: He doesn't have an absolute executive privilege over all the information that's produced in the administration some of which may have nothing to do with him. But if this president succeeds on those arguments, he is above the law. He is above any other means for holding himself accountable and what's left is the election and he was trying to gain the election. That's the problem. TAPPER: Is it not true that Democrats have decided to not fight these
fights because they think it will take way too long in the courts and they would rather just make an article of impeachment obstruction of Congress just like happened in the Nixon impeachment?
GERHARDT: That is a good point. Going to the courts was a risk for the Democrats. One problem with going to the courts is you could lose and the other problem is delay. Instead, what we're seeing right now is the House has made a decision to stand on its own authority which it always had and to go forward with the investigation and if the president tries to obstruct that or interfere with it and undermine that, that's a problem with the separation of power.
TAPPER: So, I want to bring in the biggest news from the day I think which is the news that Bill Taylor, the former ambassador and now the current top diplomat in Ukraine announced today, it is SOT number one about what one of his aides overheard.
Let's roll that sound.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL TAYLOR, TOP U.S. DIPLOMAT IN UKRAINE: Ambassador Sondland and told President Trump of the meetings in Kiev. The member of my staff could hear President Trump on the phone asking Ambassador Sondland about the investigations. Ambassador Sondland told President Trump the Ukrainians were ready to move forward.
Following the call with President Trump, the member of my staff asked Ambassador Sondland what President Trump thought about Ukraine. Ambassador Sondland responded that President Trump cares more about the investigations of Biden, which Giuliani was pressing for.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: So that is a pretty big bombshell considering that we did not know that. We had not heard that. We believe that on Friday, that aide of Bill Taylor's is going to take questions behind closed doors in depositions.
We're going to go now to the White House where the president and the Turkish president are taking questions from reporters.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: -- we'll keep them apprised but some of them joined us. They happened to be here.
Senator Jim Risch, thank you, Jim, very much.
Ted Cruz -- thank you very much.
And Lindsey Graham -- Lindsey, thank you.
And Rick Scott -- thank you, Rick, very much.
Joni is here. Joni Ernst someplace.
These are people that want to see peace in the Middle East and I thought it would be appropriate to have them come over and they met with the president, and we had a lot of very frank discussion, and we're dealing with a very big subject, a complex subject. It's been going on for centuries in many cases. But we're making a lot of progress, tremendous progress in the Middle East.
OK, a couple of questions. Go ahead. OAN, go ahead.
REPORTER: Thank you, Mr. President.
TRUMP: Thank you.
REPORTER: First, I would like to start out getting your general reaction today to the impeachment hearing on the Hill. Do you feel that Democrats made their case and how do you feel about the Republican performance?
TRUMP: You're talking about the witch hunt? Is that what you mean? Is that what you're talking about? I hear it's a joke.
I haven't watched. I haven't watched for one minute because I've been with the president which is much more important as far as I'm concerned. This is a sham and shouldn't be allowed.
It was a situation that was caused by people that shouldn't have allowed it to happen. I want to find out who is the whistle-blower, because the whistle-blower gave a lot of very incorrect information including my call with the president of Ukraine which was a perfect call and highly appropriate. And he wrote something that was much different than the fact. I want to find out why the I.G., why would he have presented that when, in fact, all you had to do was check the call itself and he would have seen it.
I'm going to be releasing I think on Thursday a second call which actually was the first of the two and you'll make a determination as to what you think there. But I've heard just a report, they said it's all third-hand information. Nothing direct at all. Can't be direct because I never said it.
And all they have to do is look very, very simply at the transcript. If you read the transcript, there was analyzed by great lawyers, this was analyzed by Gregg Jarrett, analyzed by Mark Levin, it was analyzed by everybody. They said this statement that I made, the whole call that I made with the president of Ukraine was a perfect one.
So that this country gets put through that, that we have to waste this gentleman's time by even thinking about it and talking about it I would much rather focus on peace in the Middle East. And I hear that it's -- I hear that it is a hoax and it is being played as a hoax. That's what I hear.
But you'll have to tell me. Go ahead.
REPORTER: Then if I may, on Syria and peace in the Middle East, President Erdogan talked about repatriating Syrian refugees back to their homeland.
REPORTER: Have you had those discussions with European leaders since there are so many Syrian --
TRUMP: No, I think that frankly Europe should be paying for this to a large extent. As of this moment, Turkey has been paying for most of it. I think the president was saying today, they've spent over $40 billion on the cost of that, $40 billion.
That's what I said. Whatever. He spent a lot, OK? Think of it. They're throwing out all of the different numbers. I heard it was $40 billion.
How is that? $40 billion, correct? So, $40 billion and I've heard that number from others and that's a lot. Europe has contributed about $3 billion and a lot of these people would go throughout Europe. It would be a devastating situation for Europe because he's got 4 million people. He has a lot of Kurds, too, that they're helping and taking care of.
So I have spoken to Europe about it. I think they should help us with ISIS because many of them left France and they left Germany and they left U.K. They left different countries.
And these countries should help us because if they ever did get released which we won't be doing, but if they ever did get released, that's where they want to go to. They want to go back to France and Germany and U.K. and all of those other countries that are not helping us. I gave them the option if they would like to have them back and intelligently, they said, no, thank you. But that's not right, and it's not fair.
I can tell you also that Turkey captured --