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More Evidence Are Now Coming in the Impeachment Hearing; OMB Attorney to Testify if Subpoenaed. Aired 10-11p ET
Aired November 14, 2019 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Lot going on. The news continues. Let's turn it over to Don Lemon and CNN Tonight.
DON LEMON, CNN HOST: This is CNN Tonight. I'm Don Lemon.
Thanks for joining us. Big day tomorrow. This is the eve of live TV testimony from the former Ambassador to the Ukraine, her name is Marie Yovanovitch. Tomorrow morning, 9 a.m. News of testimony from another official. And this is someone we haven't heard from before.
Mark Sandy. An attorney for the OMB says that he'll testify behind closed doors on Saturday if he is subpoenaed. Breaking ranks with the acting director and two others who have refused to testify.
This is all new information. And this is a big deal. Let me tell you why, because OMB is responsible for releasing that $400 million in aid for Ukraine. Aid that multiple officials say was held up to pressure Ukraine into giving the president investigations that would benefit him politically here at home.
That as he is holding a rally in Alabama tonight. You can almost set your watch it. When he feels threatened then he holds a rally.
And the president's Republican defenders grasping at some pretty flimsy straws right now. They would have you believe that there is no there, there. There's Senator Lindsey Graham who in a previous life was Clinton impeachment manager, but now says the whole thing is over and done with for him after just one day of hearings.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): I'm really over with this. This whole thing is a joke. It's over. It's done for me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Over and done for me. He says, it's secondhand information and it's hearsay. Let's not forget, Linda Tripp's testimony in the Clinton impeachment was hearsay and that didn't stop Republicans like him from voting to impeach and impeaching Bill Clinton. Anyway, this isn't a criminal trial. It's an impeachment inquiry so
that is irrelevant and it's just irrelevant. But Lindsey Graham says that he is done with it after one day. Sounds like hiding your head in the sand to me because you'd have to ignore a whole lot of evidence to buy what Republicans are arguing. That there is no there, there. And I'm going to take you through it.
So, let's start with the most obvious evidence that you would have to ignore, OK? You'd have to ignore the transcript of the president's infamous July 25th Ukraine call.
Right after President Zelensky says that he liked to buy more anti- missiles from the United States, the president of the United States, President Trump, says, I would like you to do us a favor, though. There it is up on your screen because our country has been through a lot and Ukraine knows a lot about it.
Doesn't mention corruption. Doesn't mention anything. But he mentions CrowdStrike and then he goes on to mention Joe Biden. That's it. He goes on to ask him to investigate the debunk conspiracy theory that Ukraine was behind the 2016 election interference and not Russia.
And then he pushes for an investigation of the Bidens even though there's no evidence of any wrongdoing by either the former president or his son. Even if there was, that's not the way you ask someone to investigate.
But there was no evidence that they did anything wrong. It's right there on the rough transcript from the White House. But there's a whole lot more. OK? Follow along with me.
You'd have to ignore the sworn closed-door testimony from Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman who is a decorated army officer, top Ukraine expert on the National Security Council who is still at his post, by the way, he's still working.
He was on that call, testified under oath that he immediately went to the top NSC lawyer who told him to keep quiet about what he heard, himself. OK? He testified that it was abnormal for the transcript to be buried on a secure server that's supposed to be used only for highly classified intelligence. Which this call definitely was not. So why did they put it there?
You'd have to ignore the fact that lieutenant colonel -- the lieutenant colonel tried to fill the ellipsis in in that transcript, ellipses he testified were references to Biden and Burisma but he wasn't allowed to.
He's set to testify publicly next week. You'd have to ignore the bombshell Bill Taylor dropped in his televised testimony yesterday when he revealed there was another call the day after the July 25th call, a call in which the president asked ambassador and million- dollar donor, Trump donor, Gordon Sondland, about investigations.
(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. Ambassador Sondland told President Trump the Ukrainians were ready to move forward.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: So, in response to the president's question about investigations, Sondland says the Ukrainians are ready to move forward. That aide who overheard that is David Holmes, he's a career foreign service officer scheduled to testify behind closed doors tomorrow. But he'll have quite a story to tell. So, you'd have to ignore a lot.
There's more that you'd have to ignore. You have to ignore those text messages between Taylor and Sondland. When Taylor asked pointblank whether aid and a White House meeting for Ukraine were directly dependent on the investigations the president wanted.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TAYLOR: I sent Ambassador Sondland a text message asking if we are now saying that the security assistance and a White House meeting are conditioned on investigations.
Ambassador Sondland responded asking me to call him, which I did. 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.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: You want to keep ignoring stuff? And if that's not clear enough, he goes on to say --
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TAYLOR: Ambassador Sondland also told me that he now recognized that he had made a mistake by earlier telling Ukrainian officials that only a White House meeting with President Zelensky was dependent on a public announcement of the investigations.
In fact, Ambassador Sondland said, everything was dependent on such an announcement including security assistance.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Everything was dependent on a public announcement of investigations. Everything. You'd have to ignore that. Let's remember while you're ignoring, let's remember Bill Taylor testified to that under oath. Twice. In his public testimony yesterday and in his closed-door testimony
last month. Twice. Something else you'd have to ignore, another bombshell revelation. This one is from Ambassador Sondland, himself, who, after reading the transcripts of closed-door testimony from Bill Taylor and top Russia adviser Tim Morrison, suddenly remembered a conversation he had with a top aide to President Zelensky. A private conversation. Right after Zelensky met with Vice President Pence in Warsaw. That was September 1st.
Quote, "After that large meeting, I now recall speaking individually with Mr. Yermak where I said resumption of U.S. aid would likely not occur until Ukraine provided the public anti-corruption statement that we have been discussing for many weeks."
Well, that's a pretty big piece of evidence of a shakedown. It gives us investigations or give us the investigations or you don't get the money.
Ambassador Sondland likely to have more to say about that when he testifies publicly next week. More things you'd have to ignore.
You also have to ignore the evidence you heard with your own ears when the acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney told the world on live TV that the administration held up aid for Ukraine in order to get those corruption investigations. Told the world before he very unsuccessfully tried to take it back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICK MULVANEY, ACTING WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: Did he also mention to me in past that the corruption related to the DNC server? Absolutely. No question about that. But that's it. That's why we held up the money.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just to be clear, what you just described is a quid pro quo. It is, funding will not flow unless the investigation into the Democratic server happened as well.
MULVANEY: We do -- we do that all the time with foreign policy.
I have news for everybody. Get over it. There's going to be political influence in foreign policy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: You'd have to ignore that. You'd also have to ignore what the president, himself, said to reporters, himself. Himself. On the White House Lawn last week.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What exactly did you hope Zelensky would do about the Bidens after your phone call? Exactly.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Well, I would think if they were honest about it, they'd start a major investigation into the Bidens. It's a very simple answer. They should investigate the Bidens.
LEMON: I misspoke. I said last week. I meant last month. You heard the president right there, he said he wanted Ukraine to investigate the Bidens. You heard Mick Mulvaney. He admitted the aid money was held up to pressure Ukraine.
So, to believe otherwise, you'd have to ignore just about everything. All of the facts that we have learned so far in this case. Keep your eye on the ball. Do not let your eyes go with the shiny object. Wait until you hear what the president's saying tonight about the impeachment investigation.
Kaitlan Collins, Laura Coates, Michael Isikoff, they'll tell us, next.
LEMON: The White House bracing for the second public impeachment hearing, it starts tomorrow. The witness, ousted ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch.
That as the president is railing about impeachment at a campaign event in Louisiana tonight. Not Alabama, I should know that since I'm from Louisiana. Alabama where Kaitlan Collins is from and lost to us, by the way.
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: You got Alabama on the brain.
LEMON: I got to get it in. I got to get it in. She joins me along with Laura Coates and Michael Isikoff. Good evening, one and all.
We had a momentous day yesterday; we're going to have another one tomorrow. So, Kaitlan, the president is at a rally tonight actually claiming Republicans want him impeached. What did he say?
COLLINS: Yes, this is not what we've been hearing behind the scenes from Republican lawmakers but the president did host some Republican senators at the White House today and listen to how he is describing their reaction to what's going on, on Capitol Hill today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: But you know what they're doing now? The Republicans are coming. Sir, our poll numbers are going through the roof. Do you think we could keep this going? I said, do me a favor. Let's get it ended.
They said, but let's keep it going, president, it's so great because we've never had a time this like this. They actually said, let's keep this sucker going for a while, Mr. President.
(END VIDEO CLIP) COLLINS: Now, Don, I should also note during that same rally the
president claimed that George Kent and Bill Taylor had no answer when they were asked yesterday by a Republican what is it he should be impeached for.
That we should note Bill Taylor said that's what -- either of them were there to do -- it's not their job to decide what Trump should or should not be impeached for, that was up to the lawmakers, they said.
LEMON: Wow. He's a master of spin. Or I should say lies. Laura, listen, Speaker Pelosi is now using the word, bribery, to describe the president's actions. As you know, bribery is listed as an impeachable offense in the Constitution. I'm not telling you anything you don't know. Does the evidence point to that?
LAURA COATES, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, it's good to actually use it in terms of getting away from the Latin terms of quid pro quo and putting it right squarely into what the founding fathers envisioned as a type of law that could be broken.
Remember, what it actually essentially says is you are going to require the receipt of something of value in return for the performance of an official act. Now, what is that official act? Handing over the congressional appropriated funds, taxpayer dollars and what did he want? He wanted the dirt or discussion or investigation on Hunter Biden and Burisma, who he perceived as a political rival in Joe Biden.
So, you do have the facts as have been laid out right now through over a dozen witnesses behind closed doors and repeated as of yesterday. One of the problems however looking forward to bribery in these days, there's a whole body of case law about bribery.
And because you have all the elements available and people will be able to comb through it, you will have those members of the Senate who are already reluctant and the House to actually file articles of impeachment or convict and ultimately remove, perhaps, to say, well, hold on, let's hold it up to a criminal standard, but that's not appropriate here.
Although bribery finds its way in a criminal code here, Don, remember, this is a political prerogative and the high crimes and misdemeanors term is nebulous for a reason.
LEMON: I'm so glad you mentioned that because we were so -- we had so much on our plates last night and I only had one hour. I didn't get a chance to ask you about this or ask anyone about this.
This issue, Laura, of hearsay, right, is that -- this is hearsay, this is secondhand information. This is, you know, is that even relevant? I mean, weren't Linda Tripp's Lewinsky tapes hearsay against Bill Clinton?
COATES: They absolutely were. And they couldn't have been used to try to prove that, perhaps, he had tried to suborn perjury or affect the justice in some way or Congress in some way. They could have been maybe used for other things about the impression they may have had or a contemporaneous recollection, or something maybe that could have been used but they wouldn't have been allowed.
But here's the thing, Don. Hearsay applies to court proceedings. Impeachment is not a court proceeding. And in many ways, it's all about trying to shorthand the use of the word, hearsay, to show this is somehow unreliable. We're not there yet, number one.
We're in kind of the analogous scenario to a grand jury investigative proceeding, which essentially in a criminal case, you could have always used hearsay in order to charge a particular defendant. It's not until an actual trial the issues of credibility and reliability come into play.
LEMON: Got it.
COATES: But even if that's the case, the Senate could still look at these things because we are not tied to the hearsay rules in an impeachment proceeding. This is really, really a red herring.
LEMON: Got you. Thank you for saying that and explaining it. Let's bring in Michael who has been sitting by patiently. Michael, can we look ahead? Lawyer for the White House budget official Mark Sandy says that he is subpoenaed. His testimony schedule for Saturday. He's breaking ranks with the White House. That's a big deal.
MICHAEL ISIKOFF, CHIEF INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT, YAHOO NEWS: It is, potentially. Obviously, we need to see exactly what he has to say and whether he has any direct information as to the reason for the suspension of aid.
I think we pretty much know the answer to the question. This is all about getting the testimony that's going to sort of prove what, I think, we already suspect the answer is.
But the only -- the witness who I and I think a lot of people are looking forward to at this point is Ambassador Sondland. He's the guy in the middle of this. He is the one we know that was talking directly with President Trump and relaying what Trump was telling him.
The stakes for his testimony got a lot higher yesterday after Taylor revealed this phone call that Sondland took from Trump on July 26th. The day after the Trump/Zelensky phone call and after that phone call, Sondland relays to the aide, to Taylor, who's going to testify behind closed doors tomorrow, that's David Holmes, that what the president cares about is the investigations of the Bidens, which if true sort of, you know, puts the lie to the claim that the president was only interested in broader issues of corruption in Ukraine.
LEMON: Yes, the only time he was interested in corruption and the only time he mentions corruption is when it comes to the Biden. OK. Bidens. Interesting.
Kaitlan, can you talk to me about this Oval Office meeting between President Trump, A.G. Barr and his White House counsel? Give us -- can you give us some color from our camera's view. What did we see?
COLLINS: Yes, this is really interesting. Reporters are waiting for the president to go to that rally in Louisiana not Alabama. And you could see there the attorney general in the oval office with the president. You have a pretty shot. Also, the White House counsel, Pat Cipollone.
There was a lot of confusion, people wondering what it was they were discussing? It is seemed like a pretty animated conversation that went on for some time.
We've now learned from sources that what came up during that meeting there was this review of the origins of the Russia investigation. That's something that the inspector general for the Justice Department has been working on for some time.
We knew from our justice team that they were expected to wrap it up soon because witnesses were being called in to review what they had told investigators. So, we are expecting it to come out some time soon. Barr said imminently today.
And that's what they were discussing today with the president in part, maybe they brought up other subjects. What we don't know is what the president's reaction was to the update that he was given in the Oval Office.
LEMON: He didn't stop and talk to you guys on his way out to go to Louisiana?
COLLINS: No. It's pretty unusual.
COLLINS: He's done it every now and then lately. Normally he stops, takes our questions, talks about the economy, answers questions. Nothing from the president today as he kept his distance from us on the South Lawn.
LEMON: Interesting. Stay tuned. Thank you, all. I appreciate it. The president's defenders falling back on red herrings and conspiracy, but what about the facts? John Kasich weighs in, next.
LEMON: Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch testifies publicly in the impeachment hearings just a few hours. She's a former top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine who was targeted by President Trump and Rudy Giuliani.
There's also closed-door testimony. The aide to diplomat Bill Taylor who overheard in a Kiev restaurant Ambassador Sondland talking to President Trump about the investigations. Lots to discuss here. John Kasich, the former Republican Governor of
Ohio. I should say, the John Kasich because of the Ohio State.
JOHN KASICH, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: The Ohio State. I know. Just wait, Don. Wait until that big game with LSU.
KASICH: You'll be crying in your beer. I'll buy you one, though.
LEMON: All right. The John Kasich. So, John, thank you for joining us. Listen, last -- the last time we spoke, you wanted to see what evidence comes out in the impeachment. And on day one, we got a new bombshell phone call, Gordon Sondland made from a restaurant in Ukraine talking to the president and his aide hears Trump asking about the investigations. What do you think so far?
KASICH: I just think it's the first day, Don, and, you know, there was not this unbelievable amount of people watching this thing. I don't know, I heard 13 million, maybe 15 million. You remember back in '16 when we had debates, we had 30 million, 40 million.
But I think that the fact is that it's got to be a slow and steady coming out with the facts, grind them out there and let people decide. I don't think you're going to have any kind of massive change in public opinion, but if you get another change of four, five, six, seven, points, where people say, you know, because, you know, I'll tell you something that I heard yesterday.
It really -- it just hit home, and it was when Taylor was saying that there are Ukrainians who are dying and they needed this money and they needed it desperately and they needed the United States to be, have their back, and this was withheld. This money was withheld.
And it created such great tension and probably flat-out fear about the fact that you got Russians in their country. And when I heard that, that just, you know, it just comes down to it for me, and it just made me very upset.
Now, you have all those Republicans sitting out there and you would think that one, one, Republican would say, you know, this is a problem. I mean, they're talking about what Obama did. They're talking about lots of different things. Process. All these other things.
But I think the Democrats have to keep doing what they're doing and get more firsthand witnesses in my opinion. They ought to try to get John Bolton.
LEMON: It would help -- it would help if the White House would allow them to do that, right? It would make people available who are firsthand witnesses.
The president showed GOP senators a transcript of his first call with Zelensky. That transcript hasn't been released for the rest of us to see. Remember he said I'm going to release the transcript of the perfect call.
I'm not sure what that has to do with anything because that call was before, correct me if I'm wrong, was before this one --
KASICH: Right. Correct. I don't know what that's about.
LEMON: No one thought that call was an issue in the first place. I mean, is this, you know, let me tell you about all the banks I didn't rob here?
KASICH: You know, Don, I heard a very interesting statistic yesterday, it was given to me by one of my former colleagues and since Donald Trump's been president, there has been, like, a 40 percent change in the members of Congress. They were either defeated or they quit. OK? Like a 40 percent change.
So you're really getting a different kind of a Republican Party now, because you have people that are getting elected who are not your traditional Republicans. What's shocked me is, look, we could all disagree. I've got a couple of buddies who are -- never voted to impeach Clinton. They don't think there's impeachment here.
And it's fine, but once you think that you would have some Republicans expressing deep concern, you've had a couple. That guy, Rooney, he said it, but where is this going to go? And are any Republicans going to look at this or are they just going to be steam rolled and are they going to be told, you do this, you're going to pay a high price? I mean, it's going be a really important thing for Republicans to have already thought.
LEMON: I think they've already been told that. I mean, you should look at the talking points in the White House and according to sources that we had that they were being bombarded yesterday with emails and --
LEMON: -- messages from the White House saying this and at one point one had to say, stop, you know, stop spamming me with all this stuff, we're in the middle of hearings. Listen, I want you to listen to -- you were speaking of Republicans, right, and you understand why not one. Listen, this is Senator Lindsey Graham. This is what he's saying.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): I will not allow trial in the Senate to go forward with my vote unless the whistleblower comes forward even though they're offering hearsay, they're the ones that started this and I want to know is there a connection between the whistleblower, the CIA, Biden, or any other Democrat, that would may cast suspicions over their motives? I want to get to the bottom of this. We're not going to let the president of the United States be tried based on a unanimous accusations. We are not letting be convicted in the Senate base on a bunch of hearsay.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: OK. So, a couple of things here. Hearsay is not applicable here, and because this is -- you heard Laura say, it's not a criminal trial. It's not like a trial in the courtroom.
LEMON: Also if you look at what happened with Linda Tripp in the Clinton, that was hearsay. She wasn't directly there. So hearsay in a very big way helped to get Bill Clinton impeached. So that's -- he was the manager of the impeachment for the House, Lindsey Graham. And then focusing on this whistleblower is a red herring. The main points of their complaint have been corroborated. Are you disappointed in how Lindsey Graham has handled this, you know, with his -- this sort of (inaudible) --
KASICH: Don, I don't want to get into -- I don't want to get into individual attacks, but I would say take the Republican Party --
LEMON: Well, not an attack. Just an assessments. Hold on, hold on. I don't expect you to attack him. But an assessment of how you can have your opinion about how someone is handling things without attacking them. The way he's handling this. It's a sort of a head in the sand approach.
KASICH: Let's see where he ends up at the end, because sometimes he's unpredictable and I just don't like talking about individual members. It's not something that I'm comfortable with. What I will tell you is about this whistleblower, this notion that somehow we're going to expose a whistleblower, and by the way, the whistleblower came out with a bunch of things that have now been corroborated, a bunch of it yesterday by Taylor and Kent. You're going to hear more. Be really interesting to see what Sondland has to say.
But let me just suggest to you that the whistleblower law, something that I voted for when I was a member of Congress, this cannot be violated. I mean, if you start revealing whistleblowers, you'll never get another one, because it will -- it will risk their job. It will hurt their families. That's what this is about. Leave them alone or her alone. I don't know who it is. But you do not want to degrade that law.
LEMON: I got you.
KASICH: That law is so important because it allows people -- yeah, you got it.
LEMON: I got it. Listen, and to your other point, I've got to run. But to your other point where you say let's see where Lindsey Graham is on the other side of this, if -- if things -- if he had his druthers, there would be no other side. It would end right here. And that is a dangerous position to have. I don't see how you can sit by, not just you, but anyone, and say, well, I don't know, let's see what happens because he's come out at the right, you know, on the right side eventually on a lot of things.
KASICH: Don, here's --
LEMON: He's saying, I'm done, I'm not reading it --
KASICH: I wouldn't -- I don't agree with him on that. OK? I don't agree with him on that at all. I don't agree with a lot of things that I'm seeing that's coming out. But look, we have a long way to go.
LEMON: I agree with that.
KASICH: This has to grind (inaudible), -- that's what it is. And at the end, Don, people are going to make their decisions and I'm going to respect their decisions.
LEMON: I got to run.
KASICH: It's just the way I've always operated. OK. I'll even respect your decision.
LEMON: You can -- thank you, sir, that I have to -- it's not mine. It's the people in the control room are telling me you got to go.
KASICH: I got you.
LEMON: I got to go.
KASICH: All right.
LEMON: Thank you, John Kasich. Go Tigers.
KASICH: Thanks. All right.
LEMON: The president keeps trying to make the impeachment inquiry all about that one July 25th call that he claims was perfect, but the truth is there is so much more evidence tying him directly to putting pressure on Ukraine for an investigation into the Bidens and we're going to go through those ties. That's next.
LEMON: In a matter of hours more public testimony in the impeachment inquiry as former Ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch appears on Capitol Hill. It will give House investigators another opportunity to get to the crux of this whole scandal. Did the shakedown of Ukraine to dig up dirt on a political rival, did it come directly from President Trump?
[22:40:09] Let's take a look at the evidence in support of that. The first
example is right here. The first example comes from Bill Taylor's testimony about a directive that came from the president. And he heard about it over a secure National Security Council conference call. That was on July 18th. A week before the call. Taylor says a staffer from the Office of Management and Budget said there was a hold, said there was a hold on aid to Ukraine and then he heard something that was shocking.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AMB. BILL TAYLOR, ACTING U.S. AMBASSADOR TO UKRAINE: For the end of an otherwise normal meeting, a voice on the call, the person was off screen, said that she was from OMB and her boss had instructed her not to approve any additional spending on security assistance for Ukraine until further notice. All that the OMB staff person said was that the directive had come from the president, to the Chief of Staff, to OMB.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: So the next piece of evidence comes from the president, himself, during the July 25th call with the president of Ukraine. President Trump claims the call was perfect. Republicans say there was nothing wrong with it. That there was no pressure put on Ukraine, on the Ukraine president Zelensky.
But we'll let you be the judge, because right after President Zelensky said that he was ready to buy more anti-tank missiles from the U.S., President Trump said this. And I quote, I would like you to do us a favor, though, because our country has been through a lot and Ukraine knows a lot about it. I would like you to find out what happened with this whole situation with Ukraine. They say crowd strike. I guess you have one of your wealthy people. The server, they say, Ukraine has it.
Well, President Trump referring to a false conspiracy theory that Ukraine was involved in 2016 election meddling, not Russia. And then he went on to say the other thing, there's a lot of talk about Biden's son. That Biden stopped the prosecution and a lot of people want to find out about that, so whatever you can do with the Attorney General would be great.
And that brings us to the new bombshell that Taylor revealed yesterday. The very day after the Ukraine call, he says an aide overheard a cell phone conversation at a Kiev restaurant between President Trump and Gordon Sondland. The ambassador to the European Union. And what the aide learned directly ties the president to the heart of the entire Ukraine scandal.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TAYLOR: A 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)
LEMON: And as for the president, he says he knows nothing about that call. Not even a little bit. And then there's this. In mid-October, the acting White House Chief of Staff, Mick Mulvaney, made this stunning admission confirming the president froze nearly $400 million in aid to pressure Ukraine into investigating Democrats.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICK MULVANEY, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: I've been in the office a couple of times with him talking about this. He said, look, Mick, this is a corrupt place. Everybody knows it's a corrupt place. Did he also mention to me in past that the corruption related to the DNC server? Absolutely. No question about that. But that's it. That's why we held up the money.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So the demand for an investigation into the Democrats was part of the reason that he --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was on to withhold funding to Ukraine.
MULVANEY: The lookback to what happened in 2016 certainly was part of the thing that he was worried about in corruption with that nation. That that is absolutely appropriate.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just to be clear, what you just described is a quid pro quo. It is funding will not flow unless the investigation into the Democratic server happened as well.
MULVANEY: We do -- we do that all the time with foreign policy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Well, Mulvaney had to walk back those claims immediately after, but the damage was done. And as the impeachment inquiry marches forward, there could be more to come. One witness that may further link President Trump to pressure on Ukraine is Gordon Sondland who has already had to revise his testimony once after he suddenly remembered, oh, yeah, there was a shakedown. He is due up next week and because of his direct communication with the president, investigators will certainly want answers.
Mocking decorated military veterans, abandoning our allies, seems like up is down and down is up in Washington these days. What does the rest of the world think? Fareed Zakaria weighs in. He's next.
LEMON: Something pretty shocking happening in the Oval Office. A meeting between President Trump and the president of Turkey. According to GOP source, President Erdogan pulled out an iPad to show a group of Republican Senators and Trump a propaganda video portraying the Kurds or ISIS fighting allies negatively. The source says the video was surreal. Let's talk about this with more with Fareed Zakaria, the host of Fareed Zakaria GPS. Thank you. This is interesting to say the least. Axios is the first to report about this propaganda video. They say that it depicted the leader of the primary Kurdish Syria Democratic Forces as a terrorist. Why would President Trump allow something like that to be played in the Oval Office?
FAREED ZAKARIA, FAREED ZAKARIA GPS SHOW HOST: Because President Trump made a massive foreign policy blunder by withdrawing American troops, the small number of American troops that were maintaining the peace in Syria. Seeding essentially a third of Syria to Turkey, allowing them to invade, they then committed war crimes. Now, he's trying to justify that. How do you justify that is by saying that the Syrian Kurds who fought with the United States, who battled ISIS, who were our infantry in defeating the Islamic State, their actually turn out to be terrorists.
Now, this has always been Erdogan's position. We have never accepted that. We have always felt that there is a distinction between a lot of these Kurdish groups and the guys we were dealing were not terrorists. Trump had just thrown all that U.S. foreign policy under the bus. It's not just that he threw the Kurdish allies under the bus, but he threw the whole, you know, defense department that has been cooperating with these people.
Now what he's in a sense doing is accusing the United States military of having colluded with terrorists. There's something fascinating about Trump, which is, he warms to these strong men, right? Like Erdogan. And then he subcontracts policy to them and he says you do whatever you want and I now agree with you on everything. So, when Erdogan says these people are terrorists even though the United States government has been working with these group, we know they're not terrorists. He adopts that world view.
LEMON: So, a source is saying that Republican Senators did most of the talking during the meeting with the president, occasionally jumping in the play traffic cop. Does that say anything to you?
ZAKARIA: Well, I think, you know, honestly, I don't think that his knowledge of the area or the issue is that detailed. But to me the strange thing is here he is selling out American foreign policy. Because it's not just agreeing with Erdogan. It's agreeing with Erdogan that the people -- the United States government allied with the United States military fought with, who destroyed the Islamic State.
That these people are actually terrorist. Now he's doing that because he's telling the Republican Senators stop criticizing me for having withdrawn the troops, for having ceded Syria to Erdogan. The guys we were, you know, the guys who I betrayed are actually bad guys. So, it's all about him. It's really trying to exculpate him from what was really a terrible policy decision that he made.
LEMON: Earlier you mention he sort of allies with strong men, with dictators, with authoritarian figures. When you look at the attack (inaudible), Kurds are bad when they literally fighting for their lives, right. He's mocking career public servants like Kent and Taylor for their testimony, for you know, corroborating with the whistleblower has said and their decorated veterans, right. At least Taylor's a decorated veteran. It's almost as if it's sort of opposite. Up is down and, you know, everything that we thought was bad was good. It's the opposite of American values.
ZAKARIA: Yes, but you know, sometimes it only works to a certain point. I actually thought that the big story out of that first day was really that Americans could take a lot of pride in the -- you know, what Trump calls the deep state. Which is -- what is really just the professionals in the United States government. That these people were honorable, they were smart. They were well informed. They were, you know, think about it. This was the acting ambassador to Ukraine. Not the former ambassador -- this is his currently.
President Trump's ambassador to Ukraine. This is currently President Trumps Deputy Assistant Secretary of State. And they are responding to a Congressional subpoena. And they are being truthful and they are saying what, you know, their calling it like it was and they kept saying, we're not taking sides, we are fact witnesses here. I thought in a way it was amazing demonstration of the American constitutional system working.
There are not a lot of other countries where people who are subordinates of the leader would be out there in open Congressional testimony saying, he -- you know, this is the stuff he did. And yes, it's not good. We don't like it.
LEMON: It's interesting to see how conservative media some played Taylor's testimony. Because I read it and I think that I'm right. Taylor when they were bringing up the conspiracy theory, right, Taylor was just laughing at them. Like, I don't really see how that makes sense or that has to do with anything. He just sort of laughed it off. His face showed exactly what he was thinking.
ZAKARIA: What I thought his best moment was when the Republican counsel says, Trump could have been more outlandish, right? I mean, and Taylor looks and he says, yes, I guess he could have been more outlandish. Like it's theoretically possible to imagine a more bizarre foreign policy.
LEMON: Yes. It's like you look at a child at the table when they say something crazy. They just go -- yes, OK. You just keep moving on. Fascinating and then tomorrow we'll have more. Thank you, Fareed. Always a pleasure.
ZAKARIA: Thank you, sir.
LEMON: Thank you. Be sure to watch Fareed Zakaria, GPS, Sunday 10:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. right here on CNN.
We are hours away from another televise impeachment hearing this time the ousted ambassador to Ukraine speaks out. And we've got news of testimony from another official. Someone we have never heard from before.
LEMON: This is CNN Tonight, I'm Don Lemon. We are now just hours away from the second round of a historic public hearings in the impeachment inquiry of President Trump.