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Ambassador's Phone Call With Trump Raises Security Concerns; Turkish President Erdogan Played Propaganda Video At The White House; Former President Carter Up And Walking After Brain Procedure. Aired 7:30-8a ET
Aired November 14, 2019 - 07:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BIANNA GOLODRYGA, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: This turn towards western civilization, western democracy for Ukraine. Why it was so important for Russia to know that we were on Ukraine's side.
And there was something that Taylor said that really stood out to me. And he said, "The Russians are violating all of the rules and treaties they committed to to actually keep the peace. That rule of law and order was violated by the Russians. And if we don't push back and if that continues, that affects the kind of world we live in."
And to hear both of them sum up why this relationship is so key, why lives are at stake, made me think if only the president, who said he didn't know Bill Taylor -- if only he spent as much time with them talking about the geopolitical issues in that part of the world as he does with Vladimir Putin. Right?
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: You know what the Russians are known to do occasionally? Eavesdrop on phone conversations --
BERMAN: -- in Kiev, which brings me to my next point here, counselor.
This new evidence submitted yesterday by William Taylor that he had an aide who overheard a phone call between President Trump and Ambassador Gordon Sondland -- he heard President Trump's voice over the call asking about the investigations the day after President Trump leaned on President Zelensky to investigate two things.
First, talk to me about this as a piece of evidence -- how this affects this case going forward. And then also, just reflect on the 'are you kidding me' miss (ph) of hearing the president's voice in a restaurant in Kiev.
ANNE MILGRAM, CNN LEGAL ANALYST, PROFESSOR OF PRACTICE AND DISTINGUISHED SCHOLAR IN RESIDENT, SENIOR FELLOW, NYU SCHOOL OF LAW: Yes. I mean, there's something astonishing about the fact that they have this meeting on July 26th with Ukrainians. Sondland then goes to a restaurant with one of the staffers for Bill Taylor and he's having a call with the President of the United States sitting in a restaurant.
I mean, there's incredibly bad judgment here, just to begin with, of like this is a conversation you have. But then, you have an aide listening and hearing this conversation about, you know -- and then essentially following up and asking Sondland what does the president think of Ukraine, to which Sondland replies he's more concerned about the Bidens and the investigations about Ukraine.
That is -- you know, to all the points we're making, that is in direct contravention of the rule of law and all the work that the United States State Department is trying to do abroad.
And it just brings home that this wasn't one call, this wasn't one incident. This is a campaign that went on for months to try to force the Ukrainians to do something that would benefit the president, and that's why it's an important piece of evidence. It's yet another link, it's yet another piece of corroboration. And this one, frankly, overhearing the president, makes it very clear.
It also -- one of the other pieces -- it brings Sondland right back into focus.
MILGRAM: And so, Sondland now needs to -- he needs to answer for this.
GOLODRYGA: And speaking to this irregular channel, Castor, at one point, was asking Bill Taylor -- well, if you were so alarmed why didn't you speak out sooner? And he said, as he had in his original testimony, that he wasn't that bothered by an irregular channel. It may have been unusual but if it had access -- if Sondland had access directly to the president and it worked, why not?
The only time that he became bothered by it was when he realized that it diverged from U.S. foreign policy and the U.S. objective because clearly, the irregular channel was meant to help the president for his own reelection campaign, right, and not to serve U.S. and national interests.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: And then he sent a cable to the Secretary of State --
CAMEROTA: -- because he was so concerned. And when he was asked how many times have you in your vast, long career ever sent a cable to the Secretary of State, he said once.
JOE LOCKHART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, FORMER PRESS SECRETARY, CLINTON WHITE HOUSE: I think one of the things -- just to bring some of this stuff together, I think one of the things Democrats have to do to make this more relevant to the public is to show there's been a fundamental reorientation of our foreign policy away from democracy, away from Ukraine, to looking after Russia's interest.
And we have everything from the Helsinki meeting to Syria to everything we heard yesterday, and we have -- you know, it's become kind of a running joke that Vladimir Putin is the president's national security adviser. It's not a joke. And I think that's something even bigger than the president violating the rule of law because that -- and that's something that Republicans will have a very hard time defending.
GOLODRYGA: And it also raises an important question that we haven't answered yet, and that is did Vladimir Putin and how long has Vladimir Putin known that money was being and aid was being withheld for Ukraine? Because if he had that leverage -- if he knew that, that is -- that is very detrimental.
CAMEROTA: Friends, thank you very much for all of the analysis this morning.
The key question after day one of the hearings, are Democrats going to be able to make a convincing case. So we have an impeachment lawyer on that, next.
CAMEROTA: We have a developing story right now.
CNN has learned that during a meeting in the Oval Office on Wednesday, Turkish President Erdogan pulled out an iPad to show a group of Republican senators and President Trump a propaganda video that casts the Kurds in a negative light. This is according to a GOP source who is familiar with the situation.
And, Bianna Golodryga is back with us.
This is interesting Bianna because yesterday, it seemed during that press conference that President Trump was sort of outsourcing any criticism of Erdogan or Turkey to these Republicans senators. He was saying well, you're going to hear an earful from these Republican senators about new weapons and stuff like that.
And so it sounds like during that meeting, Erdogan showed this propaganda video to the senators and the president that was really negative about the Kurds.
GOLODRYGA: Right, and it wasn't as if this was an objective meeting to begin with because the president introduced Erdogan as his good friend and somebody who he strongly supports, and is a strong leader. So it was a really surreal scenario where you had Republicans there and the President of the United States basically having to sell them on President Erdogan.
And instead of Erdogan coming to the U.S. and perhaps at least acquiescing to some of the demands that are coming from the U.S. and Republican senators, he comes in -- and what gumption to come in with this iPad, right, and to show the Kurds in a negative light?
Clearly, he and many in his government view the Kurds as terrorists. That's not necessarily how the U.S. portrays them. Remember, they were our very close allies in the fight against ISIS.
This is just a month after the one phone call the president allowed Erdogan to come in and invade Syria and disperse so many of these Syrian Kurds. Many of them were killed as well. There are accusations of genocide and human rights violations.
And for Erdogan to come in with this doctored video to try to convince U.S. senators -- and good for U.S. senators. Many of them stood up to Erdogan and said why are you showing this to us? We have a lot of evidence to show you atrocities you've committed as well.
But, once again, it's just this situation where a few years ago no one would have believed that you have a dictator come into the United States and instead of coming in as a U.S. guest and being gracious to his host, right, he's coming in here showing us propaganda videos.
BERMAN: There's something cartoonish about the whole thing, frankly --
BERMAN: -- and it shows, I think, the autocratic thinking of someone who doesn't deal with senators like this. These senators -- there's bipartisan support for the Kurds --
BERMAN: -- and for him to come in and show them the video thinking it might change minds --
GOLODRYGA: Not to mention the human rights violations in his country, right?
BERMAN: -- it's ridiculous. It borders on the absurd.
All right, Bianna, thank you very much.
I want to get back now to the impeachment hearings. We watched the first day unfold publicly yesterday. More testimony tomorrow.
Joining me now is Ross Garber, a defense attorney and a CNN legal analyst who has represented four governors facing impeachment proceedings. He might very well be the most preeminent impeachment defense lawyer in the country.
So, Ross, along those lines, from what you saw yesterday -- and I'm going to ask you both questions -- if your job is to get the president off, OK, what hurt your case yesterday?
ROSS GARBER, CNN LEGAL ANALYST, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Yes. So, if I were defending the president, I think I'd be concerned that the witnesses yesterday came off as incredibly credible and solid. And second, the process actually seemed to work.
I thought Chairman Schiff did a great job controlling the committee and the questions were actually very good and solid from the Democrats. I think Schiff did a good job with his questions. I think Goldman did a very good job with his questions.
I think -- I think those things would concern me if I were representing the president.
BERMAN: And then the flip side of that if you were representing the president and your job is to get him off, not impeached or acquitted in the Senate trial, what worked in your favor yesterday?
GARBER: Yes. So, I -- you know, it is very early in the process and as I've seen in my practice, things can change very quickly. And as I think -- as our country saw in the -- in the Nixon situation, the president had a ton of support until it collapsed from under him. So it is very early in the process.
But if I were representing the president, I wouldn't mind sort of how things went yesterday inasmuch as I don't think there were sort of direct hits on the president.
I think the Republicans made decent points, that the witnesses didn't have direct interactions with the president on these issues, and that there wasn't really anything I thought that would probably grab the attention of the American who are already paying attention to this or convinced potentially pursuable Republicans to vote in favor of impeachment.
BERMAN: How do you see this new piece of evidence? Look, we're not often surprised in this business at the moment and I think we were all surprised yesterday when William Taylor, in his opening statement, announced there was this new phone call where an aide heard the president pressuring or talking about the investigations with an ambassador.
What's the significance there?
GARBER: Yes, so -- and in terms of surprise, I'm actually -- I'm waiting for some surprises.
There are a lot of things here, think about it, that we don't know. You know, we don't know about the interactions between Bolton and the president, and Pompeo and the president, and the White House counsel's office. There's a lot we don't know there that we may learn.
But with respect to this phone call, I think it was -- it was interesting. There's going to be a deposition of the guy who actually overheard the phone call and talked to Sondland about it. I'm not sure yet we can make really anything of it and kind of -- I'm not sure it's either here nor there yet.
BERMAN: All right, I have two questions which I hope I can get to here.
Number one, the Democrats focused a lot and Ambassador Taylor and George Kent focused a lot on foreign policy and the implications of all of this to foreign policy. They thought that was important.
You think that maybe they focused too much on that and not enough -- and I find this interesting -- on Rudy Giuliani. Why?
GARBER: Yes. Look, I think Rudy is a big issue in all of this. What is the president's personal lawyer doing conducting foreign policy? I think that's the big vulnerability here.
But yesterday focused a lot on foreign policy. I think that was a concern for the Democrats for two reasons. One is I'm not sure, sort of, our position vis-a-vis Ukraine actually sort of captivates the public's imagination.
And then second, foreign policy is entrusted to the president. And I think what we're going to see is the Republicans make -- a potentially valid point is that if what this is about is a disagreement between the president and career diplomats about the -- about U.S. foreign policy -- under the constitution, the president wins.
BERMAN: One of the things you have to be careful of as an attorney -- a defense attorney -- is setting a bar that then can be met in the course of the trial, and the Republicans set this bar yesterday. Well, Taylor and Kent, they didn't speak to the president personally. They're not firsthand witnesses to any of this.
BERMAN: Well, next week we are going to hear from people who spoke to the president personally -- Ambassador Gordon Sondland. We're going to hear from Col. Vindman, who listened to the call personally -- a firsthand witness to that. We're going to hear from Laura Cooper, a firsthand witness to the issue of funding here.
So there are people we are going to hear from who were directly involved.
GARBER: Indeed, and I think Sondland, so far, is going to be the most interesting witness because he had a lot of personal interactions not just with the president, but with Rudy Giuliani.
I think what you're going to see from the Republicans is not so much sort of setting a bar as kind of pulling out pieces of the Jenga tower that the Democrats are trying to build here. It's going to be sort of a scattershot approach.
So far, the Republicans haven't had a cohesive narrative. We haven't heard from the Republicans -- look, relax, everybody -- here's what actually happened. Here's what the president was actually doing. Here's why it was OK. And, in part, I think it's because there's so much we don't know. So, yes, yesterday, what the Republicans said was these guys didn't
interact directly with the president. So I think you're going to see different arguments with other witnesses.
BERMAN: Ross, this is really helpful. Ross Garber, you look at through, I think, experienced eyes that really inform the process for us. Appreciate you being with us.
GARBER: Happy to be here.
CAMEROTA: OK, John.
Former President Jimmy Carter is making progress in his recovery from a serious brain procedure. Doctors at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta performed the procedure Monday to relieve pressure on President Carter's brain caused by bleeding after some recent falls.
CNN's chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta joins us now. And, Sanjay, of course, is a practicing neurosurgeon at Emory University Hospital, but he is not involved with President Carter's care.
So, Sanjay, how is he doing this morning?
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes -- I mean, he's doing well. I mean, 95 years old and has this operation on Monday, up walking around by the second day post-operatively. My guess is he's probably going to go home today or tomorrow, which is a pretty fast recovery.
There is still going to be the need for physical therapy. He may have some weakness on one side of his body -- his right side of his body as a result of this pressure on the brain.
But all signs very favorable. He needs some follow-up and we'll hear about that, but it sounds like he's making a great recovery.
CAMEROTA: That's really good news.
And while we have you, I want to ask you about what sounds like very bad news and that is this new CDC report on deadly drug-resistant superbugs.
CAMEROTA: That sounds worrisome. How worried are you?
GUPTA: Look, I -- you know me not to be a hyperbolic person, Alisyn, and I don't want to overstate this, but I think antibiotic resistance is one of the biggest health threats we have around the world. I mean, it was 100 years ago that we -- roughly 100 years ago that we discovered penicillin and almost since then, it's been a game of Whac- A-Mole.
These bacteria will develop resistance. We come up with new antibiotics. These bacteria become hard to treat. It's really challenging.
You know, the numbers -- you didn't use to have any antibiotic- resistant infections in the past, 100 years ago, and now there was 2.8 million in 2017. A person died of an antibiotic-resistant infection every 15 minutes -- about 35,000 deaths year occurring.
And the CDC -- the Center for Disease Control has added new organisms that they consider urgent threats. There are now five bacteria on the list -- you can see them there -- that are either impossible or very difficult to treat with antibiotics. So we've got to come up with new antibiotics. We've got to stop using existing antibiotics so much.
Let me just show you something quickly, Alisyn, that I think might be one of the most important full-screens I've brought up. You know, one of -- this really -- we'll put this on our Web site as well. People should print this out and look at it.
When do you need antibiotics and when do you absolutely not need antibiotics? Look at the bottom-right corner -- common cold, sore throat, flu. Those are caused by viruses. An antibiotic is not -- it won't work and it's problematic because when you use these antibiotics it causes resistance.
So remember that list of things there and don't ask for antibiotics for a cold.
CAMEROTA: And people can find that on cnn.com.
CAMEROTA: Sanjay, thank you very much for that troubling, yet helpful information.
BERMAN: The normally-unflappable Dr. Sanjay Gupta flapped, I would say, about this.
CAMEROTA: I didn't call that flapping right there. I didn't call that flapping.
BERMAN: No, no. Honestly, this is something that Sanjay is deeply concerned about. It's an area he's warned us about for years.
So, this first day of the public impeachment hearings -- what has the effect been inside Washington? What do the insiders say? One man has had his ear to the ground all night.
CAMEROTA: Only one man knows.
BERMAN: He hasn't slept a wink. He joins --
[07:55:26] CAMEROTA: Did day one of the historic Trump impeachment hearings set the tone for what's to come tomorrow and next week? Let's get the bottom line with David Chalian, CNN political director.
So let's talk about day one, David. What were your takeaways?
DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Well, it certainly set the tone, there's no doubt about that. In fact, I thought -- one of my big takeaways of yesterday was how different this looked than other hearings.
I thought because of the way it was structured, having those 45-minute chunks for each side to sort of delve into deeper questioning with the witnesses and not going immediately to five minutes for each member, it sort of kept the sideshows that we normally see at these hearings at bay, I thought, and kind of matched the moment -- the quite sobering moment of what we're going through here as a country, which is the potential impeachment of the President of the United States.
So in that sense, I do think it set the tone.
BERMAN: It's interesting to watch because what this is technically is an investigation. This is still a fact-finding process and this is the time where the American people get to watch and learn those facts. And to an extent, that's how Adam Schiff is painting it and the Democrats are painting it.
Meanwhile, what the White House and Republicans are doing is just declaring victory. They're just trying to say we won the day. And there are two different strategies there because one side is saying we're trying to find stuff out and the other side is saying we're trying to win. It's as if they're playing at two different things.
BERMAN: And I wonder, David, what you think is more effective.
CHALIAN: Well, I think it's a really good point John because I do think the White House, the RNC, the Trump campaign, they're playing for the moment-by-moment -- I wouldn't even say win the day but the Twitter minute or hour on Facebook and getting their messaging out.
I mean, the Republican message yesterday about everything that these witnesses were saying was just hearsay -- they didn't have any direct conversations -- that is a message that has a shelf life of 30 seconds or so. I mean, next week, we're going to be hearing from witnesses who had had direct conversations with the president. So it seems to me they're playing for just the moment-to-moment, trying to control the narrative.
And you're right. Schiff is trying to lay out a case and build a foundation, which may be a tougher task to do in this kind of news environment.
Though I think, clearly, the Democrats were helped by that big sort of bombshell revelation that you were talking about all morning about that Sondland-Trump phone call the day after the Zelensky phone call.
CAMEROTA: I mean, Adam Schiff is laying out a case and it's a fact- finding mission, but isn't it also a foregone conclusion? I mean, don't the Democrats in the House know how they're voting at this point?
CHALIAN: Yes, and I would extend that one step further. Don't most of the senators in the Senate know how they're going to vote on the trial?
I do think you're right. We could sort of fast-forward to the end here, but I do think we have to also allow for this being a dynamic process. These things have biorhythms of their own. And so, yes, all the numbers add up that the House is going to impeach and the Senate is most likely to acquit the president here.
And I don't think anything happened yesterday. If you're trying to come up with a list of 20 Republican senators who are going to flip in a Senate trial against the president and vote to remove him from office, I don't know whose name you added to that list after just yesterday.
CHALIAN: But we've got some time go here and these things do tend to have their own sense of rhythm.
BERMAN: And that is, in fact, a different calculation, once again, than are we finding out new things. Is the goal to find out as much as you can about this, period, or is it to convince 20 senators? And those might be two different things there.
And we did learn about this new testimony. We have these new witnesses. And I do wonder if there is new pressure largely based on the argument the Republicans are making to have some of these witnesses who have refused to testify or aren't being allowed to if there will be new pressure to get them -- Mick Mulvaney, John Bolton, maybe even Rudy Giuliani.
CHALIAN: I think you're right to look at it in bite-sized steps here, John. It may provide some new pressure.
It also just may simply, from a political calculus, make it somewhat easier for Nancy Pelosi to keep the entirety of her caucus together when we get to a House impeachment vote. Maybe she -- maybe yesterday, by having this new information that brings it closer to the president -- maybe she loses fewer members on the vote.
It can be small bite-sized developments.
CAMEROTA: And tomorrow, that new witness, previously undisclosed, who even Bill Taylor didn't know about until Friday, will be meeting behind closed doors. So then, we will have new information -- you know, we can assume.
David Chalian, thank you very much -- CHALIAN: Thanks, guys.
CAMEROTA: -- for all of the analysis.
BERMAN: This is a remarkable moment that we are witnessing right now and CNN is all over it. Our live special coverage of the impeachment hearings continues right now with Wolf Blitzer.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST, "THE SITUATION ROOM": Good morning. I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington.