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CNN TONIGHT

The Impeachment Hearing of the Modern Era Kicks Off Today; Republicans Tried to Nail Their Defense. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired November 13, 2019 - 22:00   ET

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


[22:00:00]

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: Because I don't think he can do both. Does he say the president told him what he'd do? Bolo.

All right. Thank you very much for watching us. So much news. Let's get to CNN Tonight with D. Lemon.

DON LEMON, CNN HOST: David Holmes is that staffer's name, the aide, the aide's name.

CUOMO: It will be in private on Friday.

LEMON: Yes.

CUOMO: But things will leak out, and Sondland will be in the same box he was the first time. Deja vu, brother.

LEMON: Yes. Because he went in there, gave a nice reckoning for the president. Then all these other people came in. He had to revise his testimony in a way that was not good for the president. He's in the same situation again.

LEMON: It was interesting watching today because, you know, I told the viewer last night about what to look for. Look for the substance, not the distractions. But there were so many distractions today just like I pointed out. I'm not a, you know, rocket scientist. Everyone knew that they were going to do it.

But some of the folks who were questioning, especially on the Republican side, I kept saying do you have a question, do you have a question, do you have a question? And most of it was not on the substance of what the witnesses were saying. It was on the process and talking about things that have happened before and really, I think conspiracy theories that most of the American people had never heard of.

CUOMO: Yes. Some of them are very niche fringe conspiracy theories. The idea that Ukraine, not Russia is who interfered in 2016 is poppycock. And the guides making those arguments today, they know that. Some of them are the same ones who said yes, we know Russia did it. I believe the intel community. They're just playing to advantage. That's what this process is about.

LEMON: Yes, playing to advantage. And it's not -- I agree with one of the guests you had on earlier from New York one.

CUOMO: Errol Lewis.

LEMON: Errol Lewis. I know Errol. Sorry, I'm just, I'm getting old. But I don't think -- I think, yes, this is about the American public. But I don't think that you should judge the content of what was said or the news coverage or the value of it on whether people are interested or whether they're being won over now.

What we need to do is stick to the facts, let it all play out before we start assessing and coming up with hypotheticals about, well, if this happens and this happens. Let them do their thing, and then we'll figure it out from there.

CUOMO: Right. I think that Errol's point is one that, you know, you've made also, which is if these lawmakers, especially on the right, start hearing that people who are independent say, well, this was really wrong. Why do they keep saying that this didn't happen when these three people say it did happen?

LEMON: Everyone knows it happened. Everybody knows it happened.

CUOMO: But this is their first chance to really digest.

LEMON: Yes.

CUOMO: Look, I've read 650 pages of transcripts, so I know, you know, when Markwayne Mullin, bless his heart, Republican from Oklahoma says you're making assumptions. Now I know what --

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: That's the guy with the beard you had on?

CUOMO: Yes. He look --

LEMON: I miss a lot of his --

CUOMO: He's a good debater and he's a big Trump defender and I respect that and I like getting after it with him because that's the dialogue going on in this country for a lot of partisans.

But I know what these guys said before. I know what the transcripts say. So, unless they deviate from their testimony, I know people are going to say that Ukraine was aware that this aid was a problem before and after that call.

LEMON: Right.

CUOMO: They weren't as acutely aware, but they started coming to our diplomats and saying, what do we do? We don't want to do this. We don't want to do this. And the proof is what did they do after they got the aid?

LEMON: Yes.

CUOMO: They didn't put out any announcement. Why? They never wanted to do it.

LEMON: Because they are not going to do it.

CUOMO: Why not?

LEMON: Yes.

CUOMO: Because it was an attempted bribe, not an accommodation.

LEMON: And there's more to come. And I'm going to --

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: But it doesn't mean it's worthy of removal. That's still a big open question.

LEMON: Well, that's not -- that's not for us to decide. And that's what people don't understand. But, listen, Stevie Wonder can see what happened with all of this. You can read the transcripts. You see what happened with that.

No, seriously. It's so obvious what the president was asking for. It's all there in black and white, and the argument that he wasn't trying to do it, I think, is simply ridiculous. Most people know that.

CUOMO: But to remove a president.

LEMON: But to -- that's a whole --

CUOMO: I wouldn't put it the way you do for peers -- for points of conscience and how I live on social media.

LEMON: No. But, listen, no, we're saying the same thing.

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: But I don't know that they have a big enough stick to swing at the president yet to take him out.

LEMON: I don't know. I'm not saying they should or shouldn't, but I think it's obviously there. You saw John Dean on earlier saying this one day, they've gotten more testimony that allowed for Nixon to be removed from office than they got than most of the Watergate hearings.

CUOMO: I think they have more wood to chop and more water to carry.

LEMON: I got to run because I'm going to play this for the American people to hear without all of the spin. So, I'll see you tomorrow. Nice job. Have a good night, sir.

This is CNN Tonight. I'm Don Lemon.

And what a day. What a day this has been. The first day of public hearings in the impeachment inquiry. Nearly five and a half hours of testimony. Did you watch? I hope you did. But if you didn't, we've got a lot of it for you. And this is just -- without the spin, OK? [22:04:57]

This is just the beginning. There are still at least nine witnesses to come, maybe more. Maybe even more, especially if you hear about what happened today. Nine more witnesses to come in a process that's only happened three times before in our entire nation's history.

And if you weren't able to sit down, if you weren't able to watch it all live, we've got the big moments for you right here tonight. This is a public service so that you can see it in case you were at work or you were busy.

But I want you to take a look at this. The first two witnesses, they're side by side, each raising his right hand, swearing to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, which is a very important point.

There are -- these men are two dedicated professionals with decades of public service between them. Swearing to tell the truth about what they heard and what they saw.

George Kent. George Kent is a senior State Department official in charge of Ukraine, who was so disturbed by what he learned about President Trump's pressure campaign, he put out -- that he put out a memo calling it injurious to the rule of law.

Bill Taylor is the top diplomat in the Ukraine, the top diplomat in the Ukraine, who was called out of retirement by the Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, to take over after President Trump summarily removed Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch even though she had done nothing wrong.

So just imagine what the president thinks about that. His handpicked -- think about this. This is his handpicked secretary of state, calls Taylor out of retirement, and he ends up being the first witness in the impeachment inquiry against him.

And Taylor had the big bombshell today. There was a big bombshell. A brand-new revelation that nobody, including the White House, apparently saw coming. Taylor himself only learned about it last Friday. Another phone call, OK?

I wonder if there were leaks the transcript of this one. This one, the day after the president's infamous Ukraine call on July 25th. So, for anybody who thought that there would be nothing new in today's hearings, there's this. I'm going to let Bill Taylor tell you the story. You've got to hear it for yourself.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAM TAYLOR, FORMER UNITED STATES AMBASSADOR TO UKRAINE: In the presence of my staff at a restaurant, Ambassador Sondland called President Trump and told him of his meetings in Kiev. The member of my staff could hear President Trump on the phone asking Ambassador Sondland about the investigations. Mr. Sondland told President Trump the Ukrainians were ready to move forward. (END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: So, a member of Bill Taylor's staff was a witness to the July 26th call between the president and million-dollar Trump donor Gordon Sondland. He could hear the president on the other end asking about investigations just one day after he had asked President Zelensky to do him a favor and look into the Bidens and a debunked conspiracy theory about the 2016 election.

Remember it was just last week that the president said that he barely knew Gordon Sondland. Remember? But he knew him well enough to have a phone conversation about the investigations he was leaning on Ukraine to get.

And by the way, what kind of security is that? Getting on the phone with the president in the middle of a crowded restaurant to talk about national security issues, and doing it in such a way that an aide hears the whole thing. What kind of security is that? What is that?

We have learned that aide -- that aide is David Holmes. That's his name. He is a career foreign service officer who is scheduled to tell his story behind closed doors on Friday. And there's more from Bill Taylor.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TAYLOR: 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)

LEMON: So that is the kind of thing that would be really disturbing to a career diplomat, a president who cares less about an ally than he does about investigations that can help him politically here at home.

And let's not forget the campaign to force Ukraine into those investigations has led to a lot of dedicated professionals being unfairly smeared while the secretary of state fails to defend them. But even facing Congress themselves, Bill Taylor and George Kent, both stood up for their colleagues who have been maligned. Here's what Kent had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE KENT, DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY FOR EUROPEAN AND EURASIAN AFFAIRS: I would like to conclude my opening remarks with an observation about some of my fellow public servants who have come under personal attacks.

Ambassador Yovanovitch, Lieutenant Colonel Vindman, and Dr. Hill. Masha, Alex, and Fiona were born abroad before their families or they themselves personally chose to emigrate to the United States.

They all made the professional choice to serve the United States as public officials, helping shape our national security policy towards Russia in particular, and we and our national security are the better for it.

[22:10:06]

LEMON: Bill Taylor says Gordon Sondland told him everything, including military aid was dependent on Ukraine announcing public investigations. And Sondland compared it to a businessman signing a check to someone who owes him something.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TAYLOR: Ambassador Sondland tried to explain to me that President Trump is a businessman. When a businessman is about to sign a check to someone who owes him something, the businessman asks that person to pay up before signing the check.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: The problem with Sondland's analogy is that wasn't the president's money. It's not the president's money to spend or hold back or whatever. The president wasn't signing a check. That $400 million in aid to Ukraine was voted on by Congress, but Republicans accomplished one big goal in today's hearing. They gave the president exactly what he wanted and couldn't get from Ukraine.

They publicly raised questions about Joe Biden's son and about those debunked conspiracy theories that it was Ukraine that interfered in 2016 and not Russia.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. DEVIN NUNES (R-CA): They are trying to impeach the president for inquiring about Hunter Biden's activities. Yet they refuse our request to hear from Biden himself.

What is the full extent of Ukraine's election meddling against the Trump campaign? Why did Burisma hire Hunter Biden, and what did he do for them? And did his position affect any U.S. government actions under the Obama administration?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: I like you -- I'm sure if you were watching, it's like what does this have to do with anything? Like I said, that theory about Ukraine interfering in 2016 was debunked, conspiracy theory. There's no evidence of wrongdoing by either Biden. That's a conspiracy theory.

But the Republicans managed to get it out there just like the president wanted them to. And then there's this moment from Jim Jordan, bringing up the president's other favorite boogeyman, the whistleblower, and getting a response that he might not have expected from Peter Welch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. JIM JORDAN (R-OH): Now, there is one witness, one witness that they won't bring in front of us. They won't bring in front of the American people. That's the guy who started it all, the whistleblower.

REP. PETER WELCH (D-VT): I say to my colleague, I'd be glad to have the person who started it all come in and testify. President Trump is welcome to take a seat right there.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: That was really funny, a little comic relief that everybody needed. Remember that call that we just learned about today? The July 26th call where the president asked Gordon Sondland about investigations. The call that was overheard by Bill Taylor's aide. The president claims he knows nothing about it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I know nothing about that. First time I've heard it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Well, he knows nothing about it, like you knew nothing about that hush money Michael Cohen paid to Stormy Daniels.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you know about the $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels?

TRUMP: No. No. No. What else?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Like he knew nothing about who scrawled with a sharpie on that map of hurricane Dorian's path. Every time he says that, guess what? He knows something.

Listen, I keep saying -- I hate to keep repeating myself, but I will. Do not fall for the OK-doke. This impeachment inquiry is momentous, a historic moment for our country. There's going to be a lot of spin. Watch the facts.

The historic moment for our country, and we're just getting started here. There are at least nine more witnesses to come in these public hearings. Listen carefully to what they have to say.

Now, is this -- now is a time -- this is a time for everyone one us to focus on the facts. Remember, facts first. I need to tell that CNN also has some new reporting tonight about how the White House thinks that today's testimony went. We're going to talk about that and the new evidence against President Trump with Kaitlan Collins, Laura Coates, Max Boot, next.

[22:15:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: A big day in the impeachment inquiry. The first public hearing on President Trump's campaign to get Ukraine to investigate the Bidens while withholding nearly $400 million in military aid, with brand-new revelations about a previously unknown phone call the president had with E.U. ambassador and million-dollar Trump donor Gordon Sondland, asking about the investigations only one day after pressuring Ukraine's president to take action.

There's a lot to talk about. Kaitlan Collins is here, Laura Coates, Max Boot. What a busy and interesting and unusual day. Thank you very much, all of you, for joining.

Laura, we saw two credible witnesses give sworn testimony, patriots here. You watched every single minute of it. Are they laying out the elements of an impeachable offense?

LAURA COATES, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: They're laying out the elements of abuse of power if there ever were any. Essentially, they laid out for the American people today and frankly a diplomatic way -- forgive the pun -- about the notion that they were skeptical about these channels of communication and they were justified in that skepticism.

They raised concerns. They were concerned about the leverage of the U.S., about the compromised position that they actually had Ukraine in, and more importantly about the idea of this quid pro quo.

And it was very clear that they were aware that the release of the aid, taxpayer dollars conditioned on satisfying the president's personal needs.

Now, that in any event is essentially an abuse of power for the president to do. Now, whether it turns into one that the House decides it truly is impeachable, it's their prerogative.

[22:20:05]

LEMON: Right. Exactly. Kaitlan, listen, I want to know about the president's reaction, but I also -- talk to me about CNN's new reporting that the president asked his aides how the day went. What did they tell him?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: There were aides giving him positive reviews, telling the president throughout the day as he was meeting with the Turkish president that there hadn't been any explosive moments that they thought were particularly damaging to the president because you have to remember even though they read the transcript of this call, they didn't know every -- or of this testimony, they didn't know everything that Bill Taylor and George Kent were going to say.

They did not see that moment coming where Bill Taylor talked about that conversation that happened the day after the president spoke with the Ukrainian president, where he probed -- he asked about these investigations, the status of the investigations he wanted. But also there are people inside the administration who say it's too

early to tell if this is going in the president's favor because while this wasn't some dramatic testimony today, they say that these are experts laying out in methodical detail exactly how they felt the president was putting his own political interest over the country's interest.

LEMON: Let's talk about, Max, that new thing that we learned today, that something big. Taylor's aide overhearing President Trump asking Sondland in the phone call about the investigations a day after his call with Zelensky.

We'll talk about -- listen, the security issues, in just a second here. But what does this say about how interested Trump was in these investigations?

MAX BOOT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Well, Don, it blows out of the water the attempted defense that Republicans have been erecting over the last few days to suggest, you know, this wasn't really Trump's doing. This was Sondland. This was Mulvaney. This was Giuliani. Somebody else was responsible for blackmailing Ukraine.

Well, no, this is somebody who actually heard Sondland talking directly to the President of the United States, and it was the President of the United States who was trying to get the government of Ukraine to smear his political rival.

So, these ties Trump directly to this high crime and misdemeanor. I think the other, you know, significant element of the testimony, Don, just beyond this new revelation, is simply to listen to these guys, to listen to George Kent and Bill Taylor, to watch their body language, to watch how they conduct themselves. And they are utterly convincing.

They come across as men of integrity, as civil servants who are patriots, who are dedicated to our country. They destroyed by their demeanor this attempt to smear their reputations by calling them never-Trumpers or suggesting that they have some kind of other nefarious motives.

They actually looked a lot more credible than President Trump's defenders, folks like Jim Jordan and Devin Nunes, who were spouting these crack pot conspiracy theories whereas Kent and Taylor were sticking to the facts. And the facts are highly damning for the president.

LEMON: Yes. I thought it was interesting to watch the witnesses laugh at their line of questioning. But listen, Laura, let's talk about this overhearing of the phone call. This means that we have a new witness.

David Holmes is a Taylor aide that overheard Sondland's phone call with President Trump. He's now set to testify behind closed doors on Friday. If you were the counsel in that room, what would you ask him?

COATES: Well, I'd ask about the full context of the actual call. How did it begin? What time did it happen in terms of when in relation to the investigative discussions that Sondland had? What was solicited specifically by the President of the United States? What was offered by Sondland? What was the understanding of both parties? Were there sort of inside statements? Was it based on innuendo? Was it explicitly stated?

I'd want the full conversation laid out. The only thing I have to say about the issue of, well, which did he care more about, Ukraine versus the Bidens, that to me could be a rabbit hole that I wouldn't want to get into too much. Not because it's not important, but because it could essentially come down to trying to infer what the president believed as opposed to the more substantive conversation.

And on a case that already does not have a direct statement by the President of the United States, you don't want to muddy the waters further by having yet another innuendo-based evidence. You want to have a very solid understanding of what the call was about, why this person felt so comfortable in an open setting having a conversation he had for many weeks on end to give me information about what the president's true thoughts were.

And, again, was Sondland freelancing this entire thing? Was he confused about what the directive was actually going to be, or did it actually rot from the head?

LEMON: Thank you all. I appreciate your time. Get ready. More to come.

There were a number of big moments in today's testimony, but which really broke through? Which could actually change some minds? We're going to take a look at those next.

[22:25:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: It was a historic day on Capitol Hill with the first public impeachment hearing of President Trump. The day starting with never before heard revelations that had us all glued to the TV. But you may not have been able to watch every single minute of it. And even if you did, you've got to see the big moments that will stick from today's hearings.

Alex Marquardt has that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): The committee will come to order.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ALEXANDER MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The momentous hearing gaveled into session.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SCHIFF: The impeachment inquiry into Donald J. Trump --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MARQUARDT: Right out of the gate, a new revelation from the most senior U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, Ambassador Bill Taylor, about President Trump's priorities in Ukraine.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TAYLOR: In the presence of my staff at a restaurant, Ambassador Sondland called President Trump and told him of his meetings in Kiev.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MARQUARDT: Taylor testifying that an aide overheard a call between Trump and the U.S. Ambassador to the European Union, Gordon Sondland.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TAYLOR: The member of my staff could hear President Trump on the phone asking ambassador Sondland about the investigations.

[22:30:00]

Ambassador Sondland told President Trump the Ukrainians were ready to move forward.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

Following the call with President Trump, the member of my staff asked Ambassador Sondland what President Trump thought about Ukraine. Mr. Sondland responded that President Trump cares more about the investigations of Biden, which Giuliani was pressing for. At the time I gave my deposition on October 22nd, I was not aware of this information. I'm including it here for completeness.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ALEXANDER MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That incident taking place just one day after the infamous call between Presidents Trump and Zelensky in which Trump asked for a favor and for Ukraine to investigate the Bidens. Taylor and George Kent, a Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, over the course of half a day laying out for lawmakers what they saw and heard as the Trump administration held up military aid and dangled a White House meeting while demanding political investigations.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TAYLOR: I encountered an irregular, informal channel of U.S. policymaking with respect to Ukraine. Unaccountable to Congress. A channel that included then special envoy Kurt Volker, U.S. Ambassador to the European Union, Gordon Sondland, Secretary of Energy, Rick Perry, White House Chief of Staff, Mick Mulvaney, and, as I subsequently learned, Mr. Giuliani.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MARQUARDT: Democrats pushing on what the goal was.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What interests do you believe he was promoting, Mr. Kent?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I believe he was looking to dig up political dirt against a potential rival in the next election cycle.

TAYLOR: I agree with Mr. Kent.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MARQUARDT: Taylor also mentioned another call that he had himself with Sondland on the 1st of September, right after the Ukrainians learned that the aid was being held up.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TAYLOR: During that phone call, Ambassador Sondland told me that President Trump had told him that he wants President Zelensky to state publicly that Ukraine will investigate Burisma and alleged Ukrainian interference in the 2016 election. He said that President Trump wanted President Zelensky in a public box by making a public statement about ordering such investigation.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MARQUARDT: Both men making clear how unsettled they were with the rogue Ukraine policy and the demands on the Ukrainians.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TAYLOR: It's one thing to try to leverage a meeting in the White House. It's another thing, I thought, to leverage security assistance.

GEORGE KENT, U.S. DIPLOMAT, DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY, EUROPEAN AND EURASIAN AFFAIRS: As a general principle, I do not believe the United States should ask other countries to engage in selective politically associated investigations or prosecutions against opponents of those in power.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MARQUARDT: Republicans blasted the hearing. The GOP united in their defense that the president never actually demanded investigations. Jim Jordan of Ohio, who was added to the Intelligence Committee for the sole purpose of questioning the impeachment witnesses, driving home a central GOP talking point, that it's all hearsay.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. JIM JORDAN (R-OH): You're their star witness. You're their first witness. You're the guy. You're the guy based on this, based on -- I mean I've seen -- I've seen church prayer chains that are easier to understand than this. Ambassador Taylor recalls that Mr. Morrison told -- now, again, this is I hereby swear and affirm from Gordon Sondland. Ambassador Taylor recalls that Mr. Morrison told Ambassador Taylor that I told Mr. Morrison -- that I conveyed this to Mr. Yormack (ph) on September 1st.

TAYLOR: Let me just say that I don't consider myself a star witness for anything.

JORDAN: They do.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MARQUARDT: Kent and Taylor, who are career non-political diplomats did not waver and were steadfast in their determination that hundreds of millions of dollars in crucial security aid and a meeting between the presidents in Washington were held back unless Ukraine promise the investigations.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Kent, is pressuring Ukraine to conduct what I believe you've called political investigations a part of U.S. foreign policy to promote the rule of law in Ukraine and around the world?

KENT: It is not.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is it in the national interest of the United States?

KENT: In my opinion, it is not.

TAYLOR: To withhold that assistance for no good reason other than help with a political campaign made no sense. It was -- it was counterproductive to all of what we had been trying to do. It was illogical. It could not be explained. It was crazy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MARQUARDT: Jordan also railing on Chairman Adam Schiff for not calling the whistleblower to testify. But Congressman Peter Welch launching his own rebuttal.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JORDAN: Now, there is one witness, one witness that they won't bring in front of us. They won't bring in front of the American people. That's the guy who started it all, the whistleblower. Nope.

REP. PETER WELCH (D-VT): I'd be glad to have the person who started it all come in and testify. President Trump is welcome to take a seat right there.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MARQUARDT: And today's historic hearing is really just the beginning. There are nine more people that Democrats have scheduled to testify in open session. On Friday is Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, the former U.S. envoy to Ukraine, who was recalled back to the U.S. by President Trump in May after what she called a months-long concerted campaign against her by Rudy Giuliani and his associates.

[22:35:12]

We also learned today that also on Friday, that aide to Ambassador Bill Taylor, whose name is David Holmes, he overheard that call between President Trump and Ambassador Sondland. He will be testifying but behind closed doors. Don?

DON LEMON, CNN HOST: Alex, thank you very much. I appreciate that.

Congress is just getting started as Democrats work to make their case for impeachment. I'm going to speak with one of them next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: The first day of public testimony in the impeachment inquiry opening with a bombshell as Bill Taylor and George Kent testify in historic hearings on Capitol Hill. Joining me now is Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney of the Intelligence Committee. He was one of the members questioning the witness today. Thank you, Congressman. I appreciate you joining us.

[22:40:03]

REP. SEAN PATRICK MALONEY (D-NY): My pleasure.

LEMON: Today was the beginning. It was just day one. What was the biggest takeaway, your biggest takeaway, and what will you establish next?

MALONEY: Well, obviously there was some new information about an additional phone call that we did not know about just 24 hours ago. That's obviously a big takeaway. But I think the larger picture is that for the first time the American public heard in an unfiltered way from these extraordinary witnesses with, in my mind, enormous credibility, what was happening in Ukraine and why it mattered for us here in the United States.

And at the end of the day, they heard a very sad story of the president abusing his office for the worst reasons, for his own shabby political interests and jeopardizing our national security. It was, I think, a devastating day of testimony for the president.

LEMON: Yes. Well, not just in your mind. I mean, they are -- their backgrounds, and they are very credible. So, you're right about that. I don't think there's any disputing that. You mentioned a very dramatic new development when Ambassador Taylor testified that one of his aides -- the aide's name is David Holmes -- overheard the restaurant phone call between Ambassador Sondland and President Trump. The aide asked the ambassador what the president thought about Ukraine, and Sondland said the president cared more about the investigations. That is a whole new line in the investigation now, right?

MALONEY: Well, that's right. And of course it raises more questions about the completeness of Ambassador Sondland's testimony. You know, he already had to -- had to correct it once. This is an important conversation. This is just the next day after the famous phone call that President Trump made to the president of Ukraine. And here you have a person talking directly to the president.

And by the way, this witness, Mr. Holmes, heard the president's voice. This is not hearsay. This is not secondhand. He could overhear the president who was speaking very loudly into a cell phone raise the investigations, Burisma, the Bidens in connection with the phone call and the subjects that are at the heart of this inquiry. That's a big new development. We didn't know about it just yesterday.

LEMON: I want to play an exchange where you asked Taylor about the cable he sent to Mike Pompeo after being told to do so by John Bolton. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MALONEY: Have you ever sent a cable like that? How many times in your career of 40, 50 years have you sent a cable directly to the Secretary of State?

TAYLOR: Once.

MALONEY: This time?

TAYLOR: Yes, sir.

MALONEY: In 50 years?

TAYLOR: (Inaudible), don't send cables, but yes, sir.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: What do we know about that cable?

MALONEY: That it was extraordinary, and he sent it because he took his concerns directly to the National Security Adviser, Mr. Bolton, and Mr. Bolton said, well, you should cable the Secretary of State, which of course itself raises a bunch of questions about why Mr. Bolton, who Ambassador Taylor said shared his concerns about how crazy this was to be withholding military aid.

But of course Ambassador Bolton didn't do anything about it that we know of. He said go cable the Secretary of State. So in the first time in a career spanning, a half a century, Ambassador Taylor went directly to the Secretary of State, who as far as we can tell ignored him.

LEMON: GOP lawmakers also called for the whistleblower to testify. They pushed conspiracy theories about Hunter Biden and alleged Ukrainian election meddling. In a way, did they give the president what he wanted from Ukraine but didn't get? MALONEY: Well, if what you mean is they're trying to -- they're

continuing to try to damage a rival of the president, I suppose you could look at it that way, but, of course --

LEMON: What I'm asking is they got it out there beyond just conservative media and conspiracy theory sites. It was put on the big stage today where it reached a broader audience. So, they gave the president what he wanted initially from Ukraine, but then maybe got it from today's testimony.

MALONEY: Well, I suppose that's one way to look at it. But of course, this has exploded in their faces, and it has revealed a pattern of conduct by this president and by his associates like Mr. Giuliani that paints a heartbreaking picture in my mind of what is going on in this administration.

I mean, it gives me no pleasure to tell you that the president abused his office and to hear from credible, patriotic civil servants the chapter and verse of it is very tough if you want to believe the best about your political leaders, if you think it's still possible in this country to do great things using the federal government as a tool for good.

And here you're told a story of the very, very lowest instincts at work in the president's actions, and we have to stare it straight in the face, because the president needs to be held accountable for this. Otherwise we'll set a precedent that it's OK for this president, any future president to use the full power of his office to run around the world, you know, dredging up fake investigations against political opponents here at home, using foreign leaders as his proxies. We can't live in that world and have our democracy function. And unfortunately that's the story we're hearing today.

[22:45:28]

LEMON: Congressman, thank you.

MALONEY: My pleasure.

LEMON: President Trump's only the fourth president to face impeachment hearings like this. Dan Rather, Frank Bruni will put it all into perspective for us next.

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[22:50:00]

LEMON: The future of the Trump presidency hangs in the balance in the face of public impeachment hearings, but today was just day one. There is more testimony to come this Friday from former Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, who was recalled by the president even though she did nothing wrong. And next week, the Intel Committee has eight witnesses scheduled to appear and more public hearings. So, there is a lot to discuss here.

Let get right to it with Dan Rather and Frank Bruni. Good evening, Dan, you first. A truly historic day. A third impeachment that you have ever covered. What did you think about today?

DAN RATHER, HOST AXS TV'S THE BIG INTERVIEW: Well, three things. Number one, there was some news made about the additional phone call that we now have been told the president made the day after the original so-called controversial phone call. So there was some news made.

Number two, I thought the two witnesses were frankly terrific. No matter where you are on the political spectrum. These are the kinds of people you hope will be in the foreign service and that they were very strong, very good and also the overall demeanor of the way the whole day went down. The concentration was on the facts as the Democrats had said they would try to concentrate. It was more of a day of just the facts, sir, or ma'am.

And then the third thing is the overall decorum even from the Republicans you can argue, but how they handled the questioning, whether the questioning was effective or not. But it really was a quieter day in the hearing room than I would have thought was going to happen. Now, we'll see going forward, whether the Republicans are as quiet as they were today. I thought they were pretty quiet.

LEMON: Oh, wow. Yes.

FRANK BRUNI, CNN CONTRIBUTOR, NEW YORK TIMES OP-ED COLUMNIST: You are being a little more generous. A lot more generous to the Republicans than I would be. Decorum isn't the word that comes to mind. I mean, I think, if you listen to Devon Nunes, if you listen to Jim Jordan, there was a mocking tone in their voice, it was all about distraction and throwing and things that nothing to do with anything. I agree, the Democrats stuck to the substance and I thought, I agree with you wholeheartedly, the witnesses were spectacular in their unspectacular way.

RATHER: Exactly.

BRUNI: I mean, they were so scrupulous, they were so kind of humble. They would not color outside the lines of what they could say they truly knew. And I think it's impossible to dismiss them as partisan if you're watching this with an open mind, that's what's important.

LEMON: Well, we have been living in the Trump reality show and what people would want just to rate their performances and say what about this, what about that? I think you guys correct me if I'm wrong, it's important for everyone to just sit back and listen to the witnesses and listen to the evidence and then decide, because, you know, arms are quarterbacking it or you know, doing hypotheticals about what made be to come. We don't know, just like there was a bombshell today. We don't know.

RATHER: I agree that, on the other hand, there are people who take the attitude, don't bother me the facts, I have my mind made up.

LEMON: Right.

RATHER: And it is just as born to be open minded. And I mean that all across the political spectrum, it is the time for rank and file people, number one to pay attention. I find, you know, a fair number of people that say, look, I don't want to hear about whole of this, I'm tired. I have my mind made up.

Listen, there is some excitement about this process. There is a certain energy about it. There is drama, but fundamentally it's sad, not only is it serious, but it's sad. It's sad that our country has reached this point where we're so divided among ourselves, so driven. We have a president who on the record already proven, puts his own self-interests, his political and commercial interests ahead of the interests of the country and that leaves us, you know, in really roiling unchartered waters. So, I for one try not to get caught up in the excitement of trying to remember fundamentally that we're in a period of history that people will are going to be writing about 2-300 years from now.

LEMON: One thing we didn't hear from is -- today about -- it was the president's you know, favorite saying, the call was perfect. The call was perfect. We did not hear that argument or that defense today?

BRUNI: No, because other than Donald Trump, I don't think anyone can keep a straight face when they make that argument. We did hear some stuff from Republicans, though we should listen carefully to witnesses. We should keep an open mind, all that stuff. We should also listen skeptically to some of what Republicans are saying, right.

They're saying this is all hearsay, there's no direct evidence. Well the people who would have direct evidence are refusing to come and testify. They're decrying that the theater of this public hearing they were previously decrying that fact that it was closed-door testimony and they wanted a public hearing.

RATHER: This is a very strong point and I agree with you. On the other hand I don't think that is playing well or to use a phrase from my part of the country years ago, I don't think that old dog will hunt. That is (inaudible), not trying to defend what the president has done, but trying to run all kind of diversions and attack other people. I don't think that's going to go this time.

[22:55:00]

LEMON: Yes. Do you agree?

BRUNI: I do. I do. And I think something you said earlier is really important. I just like to echo it before we go, which is you can feel a sense of justice about what's happening right now in terms of this inquiry, in terms of these hearings, you can feel a sense of just desserts in terms of the president and how's he's acting. But you can't feel excitement and joy, because this is a sign of how low the country has fallen and we are in a grip of such political dysfunction and that serves nobody and we are just grinding our wheels.

LEMON: That's got to be the last word. Thank you gentlemen.

RATHER: Thank you, Don. Always good to see you.

LEMON: I was good to see you. Thanks for watching our live special coverage of the impeachment inquiry continues with Anderson Cooper.

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