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Key Takeaways From Frist Impeachment Witness; Former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick To Enter Democratic Primary; GOP Senators Get Tough With Erdogan On Syria And Russia At White House Meeting. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired November 14, 2019 - 05:30   ET




JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to CNN's special coverage of the public impeachment inquiry.

Two State Department witnesses laid out their stories. So what were the big takeaways from a prosecutor's eyes?

Joining us now is Elie Honig. He's a CNN legal analyst and former federal prosecutor.

Elie, this was really interesting to watch -- riveting, in fact. Tell us what you saw in these two witnesses.


So first of all, I thought it was remarkable that in a hearing where the stakes are so high, where it's so politically charged -- the future of the presidency at stake -- we saw to witnesses who essentially went unchallenged. Nobody challenged their credibility, nobody challenged their motives. Even the facts that they testified to were largely undisputed.

Now, that's in contrast to what we saw from the president over the last couple of weeks, who was launching personal attacks. I think it was smart of the Republicans not to follow that lead yesterday.

The real questions that I think we're left with is one, did these witnesses know enough? And number two, is Trump's conduct, as these witnesses testified, serious and corrupt enough to merit impeachment? Those are the big takeaways, I think, from yesterday.

BERMAN: We'll get to that in a second. We'll get to the idea of why was this bad or how bad was it.

But first, talk to me about the evidence --


BERMAN: -- that actually came out.

HONIG: So the first battleground that we see emerging is, of course, the quid pro quo. Was there some sort of corrupt deal? And I thought both witnesses had really strong, compelling testimony on that count.

Bill Taylor testified, quote, "By mid-July, it was becoming clear to me that the meeting President Zelensky wanted was conditioned on the investigations of Burisma [which is the Biden-associated company] and alleged Ukraine interference in the 2016 U.S. elections." That's right on point.

And, George Kent testified, "It became clear to me that Giuliani's efforts to gin up politically-motivated investigations were now infecting U.S. engagement with Ukraine."

So I think those are two really important pieces of testimony.

But, of course, the Republicans had a response to that. The main response is this is all secondhand information, and I thought they made some compelling points.

Now, Jim Jordan made a good point. Perhaps in a little bit of a glib or obnoxious way he said, "So and so said such and such to so and so and therefore, we gotta impeach the president." Look, it's glib, but that's the point the Republicans were driving at.

The Republicans also established that neither of these witnesses spoke directly with Trump about any of these relevant issues.

BERMAN: Two points the Democrats will make on that. Number one, we will hear from witnesses --


HONIG: Yes, we will.

BERMAN: -- that spoke directly to President Trump. Ambassador Gordon Sondland is one of them.

And number two, if you're going to criticize the fact that there are no firsthand witnesses, don't keep these firsthand witnesses --

HONIG: Absolutely.

BERMAN: -- from speaking to Congress, like Mick Mulvaney and John Bolton.

All right. We were talking about the consequences. Why is it that you think the actions the president took are bad?

HONIG: So this was, I think, something that the Democrats did a great job of yesterday -- the witnesses. It's one thing to just say this harms our foreign policy, but it's another thing to hear it firsthand.

Bill Taylor told a really riveting, visceral story about it. He said, "Ukraine is on the front line in the conflict with a newly-

aggressive Russia. Even as we sit here today, the Russians are attacking Ukrainian soldiers in their own country. I saw this on the front line last week. The day I was there a Ukrainian soldier was killed and four were wounded."

That really, I think, drives home why this matters.

And, Kent, similarly. "More than 13,000 Ukrainians have died on Ukrainian soil defending their territorial integrity and sovereignty from Russian aggression. American support in Ukraine's own de facto war of independence has been critical."

So, the American public needs to understand why this matters. I thought those witnesses did a great job on that.

BERMAN: And, George Kent went even further and said merely asking for this undermines the rule of law not just in the United States but in other countries as well.

What did you hear in these closing statements?

HONIG: The closing statements were a total dud for the Republicans. I thought Devin Nunes really dropped the ball. He closed with this trifecta of irrelevant distractions -- the whistleblower, this idea of Ukrainian meddling in 2016, and the Bidens.

But I thought Schiff did what you want to do in closing. He got right back on point and talked about the effort to condition aid for performance of political favors, which was deeply contrary to U.S. interests.

BERMAN: In terms of what's missing?

HONIG: Yes, missing pieces, according to Adam Schiff.

At the end, David Holmes, a legitimate bombshell. This is the guy who overheard the conversation we were just talking about in the restaurant. That's going to be huge for follow-up.

Bill Taylor -- where is his notes? He gave them to the State Department. He took meticulous notes.

The State Department is holding onto those notes. To me, that is inexcusable by the State Department.

Talk about firsthand conversations, we will hear from two witnesses next week who had firsthand conversations with Trump, in Sondland and Volker.

And finally, Mick Mulvaney. The more we hear, the more central he's becoming. He's still missing in action.

BERMAN: Such good points, Elie. Thanks so much for laying it out for us.

HONIG: Thanks, John.

BERMAN: Alisyn.


Is another Democrat jumping into the presidential race? The big announcement from former Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick that he's set to make about his political future today.



CAMEROTA: Make way for another Democratic candidate for president. Former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick is set to jump into the already crowded field. Sources say he will file today for the New Hampshire primary.

Abby Phillip is back with us with more. So, our reporting is that he'll announce today?

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, we're expecting him to get into the race at some point this morning and then immediately go to New Hampshire to get on that ballot. That deadline is coming up this week so that's really forced Patrick to make a quick decision on this.

You know, just a couple of days ago he was expected to be speaking at a conference and pulled out of that conference as these rumors started to swirl. And now, we're seeing less than 24 hours after that, the decision is essentially -- is essentially made. He was calling allies and friends yesterday, telling them he planned to get in, telling them that he would file in New Hampshire.

And unlike New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, he is not evidently planning to skip these early four states. He knows that his odds are long but expects that he'll be able to push through in a middle lane.

I think what this is all about is Deval Patrick seeing an opportunity with perhaps a weakened Joe Biden and some of these other moderate candidates not doing as well as some Democrats had hoped, that he can be right there in the middle for those voters looking for a more moderate alternative.

CAMEROTA: Our polling suggests that voters are not clamoring for this. So, here's the Monmouth poll. It's Monmouth polling, I should say.

So, are you satisfied with the field? Seventy-four percent say yes. Would you like to see someone else? Sixteen percent.

So what is his motivation?

PHILLIP: It's pretty stark. I mean, Democrats are pretty satisfied and that's also what I hear on the ground when I talk to Democratic voters. They are deciding between the candidates that exist in the field and they're fine with that.

But for someone like Deval Patrick, there is a lot of anxiety among Democratic elites -- largely, among donors -- that some of these candidates are not strong enough. They see weaknesses in all of them, particularly the ones who are more moderate. There's a lot of anxiety about an Elizabeth Warren, who many Democrats think is too far to the left.

And so, someone like Deval Patrick, who is very close to the Obama wing of the party -- he's close to President Obama -- he's aiming, according to what we're hearing from sources, to run in that kind of mode, not as an ideological candidate but as a sort of conceptual candidate about hope and moving the country forward.

So it's going to be challenging, no doubt, but he's responding to maybe some donor anxiety out there in the field. Nevertheless, the middle lane is getting extremely crowded.

CAMEROTA: And extremely interesting. This is an interesting race. These primaries continue to surprise.

Abby, thank you very much -- John.

BERMAN: All right.

New this morning, fresh reaction to this unusual picture we saw at the White House yesterday. A group of Republican senators warning the Turkish president about potential sanctions as they sat in this tense meeting.

CNN's Joe Johns at -- in Washington this morning for us with the very latest -- Joe.

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Yes, you can almost call it extraordinary, John.

President Trump said he's a big fan of Turkey, which is, frankly, something we already knew. But members of both parties on Capitol Hill are angry over Erdogan's invasion of Syria. The president inviting five outspoken Senate critics of Erdogan, including South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, to the White House for that highly unusual sit-down with the Turkish president.


High on the agenda was the recent news Turkey plans to purchase an air defense missile system from Russia, which has the National Security Council here in the United States and the Pentagon worried. Also, Turkey's increasingly close relationship with Russia in general because Turkey is a member of NATO.

But, yes, the thing that has upset the relationship between the U.S. and Turkey the most is that recent invasion of northern Syria after President Trump said he was moving U.S. troops there out of harm's way. Turkey used the invasion to crack down on Kurdish forces, which it calls terrorists, but the U.S. saw them as allies in the war against ISIS. Sources told CNN Sen. Graham was aggressive and direct with Erdogan on the issue of Syria.

Members of both parties in Congress have been threatening tough sanctions if Turkey doesn't back off. A source said the president invited these senators in to try to demonstrate to Erdogan the force of the criticism up on Capitol Hill.

The president -- yes, he's been very complimentary of Erdogan in the past, but the relationship has become increasingly strained -- Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: Joe Johns, thank you for explaining all of that.

So, day one of the public impeachment hearings had many people across the country glued to their T.V.s. So what did voters in one key swing state think? That's next.



BERMAN: This is CNN's special coverage of the impeachment inquiry.

And so many Americans were glued to their televisions yesterday -- moments of high drama. What did voters think about this? Well, we went out to the swing states to ask.

CNN's Evan McMorris-Santoro watched the hearings in Wisconsin.


EVAN MCMORRIS-SANTORO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): You already think you know what the outcome is. Why do you want to watch it? What's so important about it?

RANDY BURL, WISCONSIN VOTER: It's just like a person who watches soap operas. It's bad acting and all that. I am curious to see what this hearing is going to be.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO (voice-over): Like a lot of Americans, Randy and Terri Burl already have their opinions about President Trump and his potential impeachment. But like a lot of Americans, they're going to watch every second of the hearings, anyway.

TERRI BURL, WISCONSIN VOTER, CHAIRWOMAN, FOREST COUNTY, WISCONSIN REPUBLICAN PARTY: I don't think it's going to hurt Trump. I could be surprised.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO (voice-over): Terri Burl is the chair of the Forest County, Wisconsin Republican Party. Randy's Republican, too, but he isn't as strong a supporter of the president as his wife is.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO (on camera): Where do you put yourself on the party spectrum these days?

T. BURL: I'm MAGA Republican.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO (voice-over): Terri attends a lot of GOP events around her state and she spreads the party message on social media.

T. BURL: I will tell you the truth. Yesterday, on my Facebook page, I said OK, guys, quid pro quo for dummies -- go. I needed a quid pro quo for dummies. I never heard that term before this and so I got a lot of good advice about it.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO (on camera): What did you learn?

T. BURL: Well, I learned that throughout history presidents make deals. They kind of twist arms -- not violently, but they're kind of like I'll scratch your back if you scratch mine.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO (voice-over): Terri is convinced the president did nothing wrong.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO (on camera): You don't think he's opened himself up for today -- like, he put himself in a little bit of hot water creating this -- the reasons for this hearing?

T. BURL: No, I really don't. I don't know -- that's Trump. It's like do we want Trump not to be Trump? No.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO (voice-over): Outside it was freezing and snowy, the perfect day to watch hours of T.V. with Amber, the Burl's Plott Hound.

T. BURL: Oh.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO (voice-over): A few hours in and Randy wasn't as convinced of Trump's total innocence as Terri was.

R. BURL: (INAUDIBLE) knew this, could be possible Donald Trump did not know what he did was wrong and he was just like the natural dealmaker that he is?

MCMORRIS-SANTORO (voice-over): In the late afternoon, the impeachment watch party got bigger. Mike Monte showed up. He's friends with Terri and Randy and he owns the local newspaper, "The Pioneer Express."

T. BURL: Hey, Mike.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO (voice-over): Terri and Mike have very different takes on the man of the hour.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO (on camera): What do you think that Mike doesn't get about President Trump?

T. BURL: That Trump's not a politician. He's not politically correct. He -- you know, he basically plays to his own drummer.

MIKE MONTE, WISCONSIN VOTER, OWNER, "THE PIONEER EXPRESS": You don't know where he's going to be and it can change from day-to-day.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO (voice-over): Mike didn't vote for Trump in 2016 and he's not going to vote for him in 2020, either. MCMORRIS-SANTORO (on camera): It's the first day of these impeachment hearings. When they're all said and done, what do you think they're going to mean for the country?

T. BURL: This is all speculative right now, but I think Democrats are going to look ridiculous.

MONTE: (INAUDIBLE). He's not royalty. He works for us.

R. BURL: If he is found guilty or not guilty or he's impeached or not, I just don't see it having a dramatic effect. And it's kind of like what Mike said -- most working people are never going to see these hearings. They're going to turn on their news show that supports whatever party that they like and read their spin on it.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO (voice-over): Evan McMorris-Santoro, CNN, Crandon, Wisconsin.


CAMEROTA: Our thanks to Evan for that glimpse.

And joining us now, we have Joe Lockhart, CNN political commentator and former Clinton White House press secretary.

It's so helpful, I think, to go to swing states and get the view from there -- so helpful. I love pieces like that. I love talking to the voter panels. I love the candor of people like Teri to explain what her thinking is right now.


And so, let's just test that theory. Most working people cannot be glued to their televisions.


CAMEROTA: Do you think that there is any way in our tribal universe that it moves the needle for some?

LOCKHART: Well, moving the needle -- how you define that's important.

In order to remove the president, you have to split his base. You have to really take it and probably split it in half. And as you saw, I think, in those voter interviews, yesterday didn't do that. And I don't expect that absent some of the more senior people from the White House going in and telling dramatic testimony that that will happen.

I think the Democrats put on a very strong case yesterday and convinced Democrats and Independents -- who, by the way, will all vote in November of next year, so it does matter.

But I think Republicans also did what they needed to do, which was they just need to give their base something to hold on to. And I think their best argument was the simplest argument, which is the aid wasn't -- the aid went through and there were no investigations.

Now, it's an argument that falls apart with one more piece of information but they're not going to get that from Fox News, they're not going to get that from Rush Limbaugh. And, so I think there's nothing there that moves the hardcore megabase.

BERMAN: Look, first of all, I want to make the point that there are a lot of American voters who don't necessarily live in swing states, and there are a lot of --

CAMEROTA: You're always sticking up for the coasts.

BERMAN: I just -- I just think -- not the coasts necessarily. There are a lot of states that are solidly red and solidly blue that are in the middle of the country as well.

I just think that sometimes for something like impeachment where you're talking about America as a whole and the facts that are being learned here, looking at it exclusively through the prism of the Electoral College might give you a different view. That's all I'm saying.

It's always interesting to hear from the voters right there --


BERMAN: -- but we heard a lot more from a voter who's a Republican Party chair than we did from the other two people in the room.

Joe, I was interested yesterday by what I saw from the Republicans on the panel -- specifically, Will Hurd and Elise Stefanik. These were two members that I think some people watching thought might be more open to the notion of being critical of the president. We didn't see that from them yesterday at all.


BERMAN: The Republicans on the committee and as far as I can tell, the elected Republicans, are solidly defensive of the president.

LOCKHART: Well, listen -- I mean, Elise Stefanik -- I think there were some people, probably in the Democratic Party, who had some hopes for her as a bright star as a moderate. She's neither of those things. She comes out of the RNC and of a political background and she made clear yesterday that she was hitching her wagon to Jim Jordan and sort of the crazy conspiracy theory.

I thought Will Hurd was a little more sober in his questioning, but he certainly wasn't trying to expose the president in any way. I don't think you'll get that.

And again, at the end of the day, it comes down to can you reach these -- you know, MAGA, as the voter said there -- I'm a MAGA voter -- can you reach them with anything? And it's just hard to see that.

But, this all does matter as far as what next year looks like because as you said, it's not just Trump's base and how that impacts it. They're crucial to the impeachment. They're important to the next election but they won't decide the next election.

CAMEROTA: "The Washington Post" has some reporting this morning that Republicans may try to prolong the process and the hearings -- stretch it out -- stretch it further into the presidential race. Why? Why would that work?

LOCKHART: I don't think they're going to do that. I think they were trying to mess around a little bit with Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Amy Klobuchar, and Kamala Harris and --

CAMEROTA: Because they would be stuck in Washington and not on the trail.

LOCKHART: -- say you'll be stuck in Washington.

That marginally will hurt, I think, Warren and Sanders.

The person that will hurt the most is Donald Trump because if you take six to eight weeks of every day being in trial, six days a week --


LOCKHART: -- that's not good for him and it's not going to happen.

BERMAN: Joe Lockhart, great to have you here with us. Thank you very much.

CAMEROTA: Thanks, Joe.

A major revelation shaking up the impeachment hearings. NEW DAY's special coverage continues right now.


REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): The impeachment inquiry into Donald J. Trump, the 45th President of the United States.

BILL TAYLOR, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO UKRAINE: A member of my staff could hear President Trump on the phone asking Ambassador Sondland about the investigations.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He did speak to me and I said no quid pro quo under any circumstances.

REP. JIM JORDAN (R-OH): That's the guy who started it all who is the reason we're all sitting here today. We'll never get a chance to question that individual.

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


ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman.

CAMEROTA: We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. It is Thursday, November 14th, 6:00 in New York. And this is a special edition of NEW DAY and CNN's coverage of the impeachment hearings.

Day one of testimony --