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Soon: Ousted U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Testifies in Public; Aide Who Overheard Trump-Sondland Call Testifying in Private; Police: No Motive Yet in California School Shooting. Aired 5-5:30a ET
Aired November 15, 2019 - 05:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world.
It is Friday, November 15th. It's 5:00 here in New York because this is a special edition of NEW DAY and CNN's coverage of the impeachment inquiry into President Trump.
This morning, day two of the hearings.
This morning, former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, will testify. She claims she was the target of a smear campaign allegedly orchestrated by Rudy Giuliani and carried out by President Trump's media allies like Sean Hannity.
Yovanovitch is expected to spell out how she was suddenly recalled by President Trump who then told the Ukrainian president that Yovanovitch was, quote, going to go through some things, end quote.
Later today, House investigators will go behind closed doors to question a diplomat who overheard President Trump ask the ambassador to the E.U., Gordon Sondland, about the, quote, investigations against the Bidens during this July 25th phone call.
And tomorrow, a long time employee with the Office of Management and Budget is expected to break ranks and testify about the hold up of that military aid to Ukraine despite being ordered not to participate in the hearing.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: That could be significant.
Also this morning if you listen closely you'll hear just how carefully Democrats are choosing their words. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is making the case that the president's actions constitute bribery. That is a very specific word that's listed in the Constitution as an impeachable offense.
"The Washington Post" also reports that focus groups in key battleground states bribery is the most compelling description of the president's conduct.
So, this is a big day, a lot to get to. Let's start with CNN's Suzanne Malveaux live on Capitol Hill outside the hearing room -- Suzanne.
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: John, we're just four hours away from her testimony. Yovanovitch's testimony has attracted media from around the world. There's even some media staffers who overnighted here in the House, actually in the hallway to save their camera positions.
Early this morning, I spoke with a friend of Yovanovitch who said this is round three for her. Round one was enduring the bullying in Ukraine. Round two was enduring the smear campaign by President Trump. Round three she expects to face off with attacks from Republicans.
MALVEAUX (voice-over): This morning, Marie Yovanovitch returns to Capitol Hill for the second public impeachment hearing this week.
The former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine targeted in President Trump's July 25th phone call with the Ukrainian leader, where according to the rough transcript, Mr. Trump called her "bad news" and despite having fired her months earlier cautioned she's going to go through some things.
REP. DENNY HECK (D-WA): Interestingly, I think what we got going on here is a potential confluence of both the political self-interest of the president, getting her out of the way so he could do his deed in Ukraine.
MALVEAUX: In her private deposition, Yovanovitch said she was warned to watch my back because of Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani and his associates. On Wednesday, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State George Kent describing Giuliani building a smear campaign against Yovanovitch.
GEORGE KENT, DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF STATE: I became alarmed as those efforts bore fruit. It led to the ouster of Ambassador Yovanovitch and hampered U.S. efforts to establish rapport with the new Zelensky administration in Ukraine.
MALVEAUX: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Democrats intensifying their stance on impeachment.
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): I am saying that what is -- the president has admitted to and says it's perfect, I'd say it's perfectly wrong. It's bribery.
MALVEAUX: While the president praised his Republican allies.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The Republicans, they stick together for the -- I mean, they have really stuck.
MALVEAUX: As they continue their defense of Trump saying the impeachment witnesses so far only have second hand information.
REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): We did hear from the witnesses was that they had never spoken to President Trump.
MALVEAUX: Speaker Pelosi shutting that down.
PELOSI: Don't fall into the second hand stuff really. That is such a fraudulent proposition put forth by the Republicans.
MALVEAUX: But Republicans argument could end later today, when David Holmes, a State Department staffer who overheard a phone call between Trump and U.S. ambassador to the E.U., Gordon Sondland, appears behind closed doors. His boss, populist diplomat to Ukraine, Bill Taylor, testified his staff member said the conversation happened one day after President Trump's call with the Ukrainian leader.
BILL TAYLOR, TOP DIPLOMAT TO UKRAINE: Mr. Sondland told President Trump the Ukrainians were ready to move forward.
MALVEAUX: Sondland will share his side of the story in public testimony next Wednesday and House Democrats have high expectations.
REP. MIKE QUIGLEY (D-IL): It's never too late to do the right thing. If the ambassador has some new memory catch up, that he'll let the American public know about this phone conversation as well.
MALVEAUX: House investigators may also have another closed door deposition hearing this weekend. That is with Mark Sandy, who's with the Office of Management and Budget. He would shed light on how that money, that aid was held up and how it was released and when to Ukraine.
Just following the money, if you will. That would be a special deposition session to be held on Saturday, John. So, we'll be here over the weekend as well.
BERMAN: Yes, there's a lot to learn in public today. Also behind closed doors.
Suzanne, thank you for there being. Please keep us posted over the next several hours.
New details this morning about the California school shooting that left two students dead and three injured in just 16 seconds. Police say no motive is known at this point and it's unclear if there's any connection between the victims and shooter.
CNN's Stephanie Elam is live outside the high school where this all happened.
Stephanie, I know it's even earlier there. What are you learning this morning?
STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, John. And talking about just 16 seconds for this alleged shooter to walk to
his high school campus, pull a backpack over, open it up, pull out a .45 caliber pistol and begin shooting. He shot one student without saying a word. It seemed clear -- jammed inside the gun, according to law officials, and then went on to shoot four more students before then turning the gun on himself and shooting himself in the head.
Obviously, when students heard this before school began, there was mayhem. Take a listen to what some of the students were saying.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BROOKLYN MORENO, STUDENT: I heard the first shot and everyone thought it was a balloon and it got really quiet. And then two more shots. And then, everyone just started running out of school.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We were waiting outside of the locker room because it wasn't opened yet. And all of a sudden, like just, we with all of our friends heard the gun shots. And we just like, let's go, let's run.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ELAM: And in all of that running -- children were running every where into neighborhoods, seeking refuge inside neighbor's homes from the school. But in the end, what we do know is that two children have lost their lives, a 16-year-old girl died at the hospital and a 14- year-old boy also died at the hospital.
We know that one patient remains there in critical condition at this one particular hospital, one person was treated and released. We believe they were all students who were shot there.
The other thing to note about this as well is that there were three law enforcement officers who were dropping off their students at Saugus High School and heard the shots and immediately responded and then began triaging those students who were hurt and immediately getting them the aid that they needed. They could have saved lives just because of the fact that they followed their instincts and responded so quickly, Alisyn.
CAMEROTA: Stephanie, thank you very much. We're going to be speaking to law enforcement there this morning about what they have learned overnight.
Thank you for all of that.
All right. So, what do we expect from today's testimony?
And what does Rudy Giuliani plan to do if he is thrown under the bus? We have Giuliani's new plan, next.
[05:12:23] CAMEROTA: You are watching CNN's special coverage of the impeachment hearings as we preview the second public hearing. This morning, lawmakers will hear from former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch. Witnesses say she was pushed out of her job because of a smear campaign orchestrated by Rudy Giuliani.
Joining us now to talk about what to expect, we have Abby Phillip, CNN political correspondent, and Jim Baker, CNN legal analyst. And Jim previously served as general counsel of the FBI.
Great to have you both here.
I think to understand what Marie Yovanovitch endured, Abby, you need to understand the media allies and friends around President Trump and how they began -- I mean, what the state department has said making stuff up out of whole cloth about her because she was in the way of this corrupt Ukrainian oligarch whom she wanted investigated but who was paying some of President Trump's friends allies and so they wanted her gone.
ABBY PHILLIP, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: She's going explain what it feels like the to be in an upside down world in which all of the things that she spent years and years working on, pushing Ukraine to actually address corruption were being turned on its head and she was being accused of standing in the way of corruption by people who were known to be corrupt. And then on top of that, you have the sort of conservative, conspiratorial media eco sphere which is Sean Hannity is part of this.
There was a point at which they were -- they had to go to Sean Hannity and his producers to find out where the heck all of this information was even coming from.
CAMEROTA: The State Department, we -- I mean, she believes made a phone call to Sean Hannity to say, where are you getting your information?
PHILLIP: And also because they knew that was a direct line to the president and that was how this information was getting straight into the White House. So, she's going to explain all of that. And I think it's going to be really fascinating. It's a big window into how information gets to the president from some of the sort of dark corners of not only the Internet but also apparently the corrupt corners of Ukraine.
BERMAN: You don't even need -- I agree this is fascinating, sort of the conservative allies as part of this, but you don't even need that because you have the president's own words, when you have Marie Yovanovitch as well, in the phone call to President Zelensky of Ukraine and Yovanovitch was asked about this in a deposition. This is P104.
At the bottom of the page, they are reading her this phone call. President Trump says, well, she's going to go through some things. What did you understand that to mean? Yovanovitch answers: I didn't know what it meant, I was very concerned. [5:15:01]
I still am. Question: Did you feel threatened? Yovanovitch says: Yes.
One thing that's interesting here, Jim, is that Yovanovitch is not a direct witness to the phone call. She was gone by that point. But she is a witness to Rudy Giuliani's actions, the months long actions behind-the-scenes there. And I also think she might be bait or this temptation that Republicans on the committee are going to have to really resist because if they go after her hard, she is -- again, one of these career public officials with a decorated record.
JIM BAKER, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, but that doesn't seem to matter so far. I mean, they are willing to go after a lot of different people on a lot of different bases.
I've been wondering why they are calling her this early. And I've been a bit worried about it, because there's a lot of -- as Abby was just saying, there are a lot of facts, a lot of things she's been through, so to speak -- paraphrasing the president. And I've been trying to figure out, why are they calling her so early? Because she doesn't have direct knowledge of phone calls with the president, and the Ukrainian president.
CAMEROTA: And you think it could be trouble for the Democrats?
BAKER: Well, I was worried about that.
And then when Speaker Pelosi yesterday talked about bribery and brought that word up again -- well, I looked again at the federal bribery statute and focused on the word "corrupt." So, in order to prove a crime under that statute, this is not a criminal proceeding, so -- but trying -- getting inside their heads a little bit, it struck me that when you talk about corruption in connection with bribery, you have to have a corrupt intent to do something, do an official act in exchange for something, something of value.
This is about corruption. What they did to her was corrupt. Getting her out of the way so they could engage in the types of activities that they want to engage in, from a variety of different angles, both the Ukrainians and Giuliani and his cohort.
And so, maybe this is part of telling that story, explaining the corrupt intent that all of these actors had and then, hopefully, linking it to the president -- hopefully, obviously, the facts are there. But I mean, trying to think about what they are doing. But that's the best I can make of this.
Otherwise, I'm worried that it's going to be a distraction and she's going to be open to a lot of criticism from Republicans. You don't really know anything. You weren't there. You were gone by May, and so on.
CAMEROTA: Yes. I think that that's really a good preview, and I think that we should -- everybody should prepare to see that. But Giuliani, it's been reported, was making a ton of money from
Ukraine and from Ukrainian sources. So, coming up, we will figure out what he plans to do if he's somebody who is thrown under the bus.
BERMAN: Also, somebody else will be answering questions today, albeit behind closed door. David Holmes, he says he overheard the newly released phone call between President Trump and the ambassador that really surprised lawmakers and the country during the first public impeachment hearing. Much more on that, next.
BERMAN: Welcome back to CNN's special coverage of the impeachment hearings.
After today's public hearing, which will be interesting in and of itself, lawmakers here will hear from a key State Department official who says he overheard President Trump discussing investigation of the Bidens on a phone call between President Trump and Ambassador Gordon Sondland. That happens behind closed doors.
And tomorrow, the first official with the budget office is expected to break ranks and speak to lawmakers as well in private.
Back with us, Abby Phillip and Jim Baker.
Jim, I want to start with you.
With the importance of David Holmes who is this official we just learned about two days ago, who overheard the phone call, overheard it because he could hear President Trump's voice bleeding through a cellphone in a restaurant in Kiev, talking to Ambassador Gordon Sondland about the investigation the day after the phone call between the two presidents. What do you think this adds to the story?
BAKER: For one thing I still can't get over the -- my head almost exploded the other day when I heard that in terms of the operational security the debacle that that is. You know, the president and his ambassador having a phone call.
Now, it's possible it was a secure cell phone but they are talking about this. And, you know, it's just -- it's just so bad in terms of security. So, that was really -- drove me out of my mind.
But, look, the claim from the Republican side has been that nobody knows, nobody heard exactly what the president was saying, nobody was in direct contact, this is all hearsay. Well, here's somebody who heard the words of the president himself and who heard the word from the president's mouth the investigations in the context of a conversation with Gordon Sondland about the call.
And so, it undercuts that to some degree. I don't think this will be the final word. But this is a step along the path that I think the Democrats are going which probably is the right thing to do to try to get at people who spoke directly to the president about this whole mess.
CAMEROTA: David Holmes, we've learned, is described by colleagues -- smart, competent, long time Foreign Service officer. His main job was to determine what was going on in Ukrainian politics, good luck. And he often accompanied top U.S. officials like Sondland to meetings as a note taker, OK? That would be helpful.
CAMEROTA: So, he is trained to listen to top U.S. officials and diplomats for any sort of breadcrumbs of what's happening in Ukrainian politics.
PHILLIP: Even potentially if the president might happen to be on the phone, he's trained to listen to that too, evidently.
CAMEROTA: Yes, yes.
PHILLIP: I mean, the big question, though, for him is going to be this closed door deposition, why now? Why did it take him so long to reveal the existence of this conversation?
I mean, Bill Taylor said he was told by his aide last week -- Taylor testified several weeks ago and so, it's a real he question. I think it's going to be a source of pressure for him on the Republican side, and it's one taht I think everybody ought to have some answers to.
Maybe he didn't think it was material. Maybe something jogged I had memory. Maybe he thought he would have an opportunity to talk about it but as never actually called.
And then the other thing would be what else is there? Is there any more about the conversation that he heard other than the word "investigations" that could shed light on something that came directly out of president Trump's mouth because the rest of what Taylor testified the to is that Sondland told this aide after the fact that the president was more concerned about Biden and Ukraine.
But was there anything else overheard in that conversation that would -- that would tie that directly to something the president himself actually said. I think that's becoming kind of a big source of contention on the Republican side. Democrats are going to have to make sure this potential witness is someone who, you know, if he ever comes forward publicly can stand up to that kind of questioning.
BERMAN: We'll wait and hear what he is asked or said behind closed doors. We'll wait to see that transcript.
Meanwhile, we're talking about Rudy Giuliani. And, Jim, I think it was fascinating discussion that you brought up before we may hear more about him because he has the whiff of corruption involved in everything having to do with Ukraine right now. He was asked in this interview with "The Guardian", I think it was, this British newspaper, about whether or not he was going to be thrown under the because, if he was worried --
BERMAN: -- that the president would throw him under the bus.
And this is how Giuliani responded. Are your worried? He says, I'm not, but if I do, I have a very, very good insurance, so if he does, all my hospital bills would be paid.
So look there are people that read that and thought, wow, Rudy Giuliani saying he's got insurance if the president throws him under the bus, he's keeping something hidden. His lawyer said he was just kidding. That if he gets thrown under the bus, and literally run over, he's got insurance to pay for it.
All that said, Rudy Giuliani is a central player here.
BAKER: Most certainly.
BERMAN: And may be the window into the corruption you're talking about. Talk to me how you think he'll be used in the coming days?
BAKER: Well, he's -- he's going to be very difficult to get on the witness stand because he is, as far as we know, he is the president's lawyer. He was the president's lawyer. So there is going to be a claim, I think, that he was -- that these communications with the president are privileged, and so it's really not going to be possible I don't think for Congress to get that out.
However, to the extent that he was engaging in all these quasi diplomatic type of activities, I don't know how he's going to claim privilege over that. So, I think their -- I would guess the Democrats are trying to build towards getting him on the stand. He's going to resist. He would go to court. I don't think that's -- that's going to happen.
But this comment about the insurance policy, I mean, I don't know. I mean, I read it. I want seemed like a joke to me.
But as Abby was saying earlier about Mr. Holmes trying to figure out, why didn't he come forward before, Donald Trump traffics in fear and employees of the federal government and people around him are afraid. And so, I think that's one of the main issues here. And so, to the extent people aren't afraid, they will come forward, we'll see what happens.
PHILLIP: Here's one thing I think Giuliani is important for. The Republican argument is that Trump was so concerned about corruption that this is why he brought all of this up.
What Yovanovitch is going to be doing is talking about how, in fact, Giuliani was pressing for people who were actually corrupt and that turn that whole argument on its head.
BERMAN: George Kent said it during his testimony, that Giuliani was working with corrupt Ukrainians. He was explicit in it. CAMEROTA: And why don't Democrats, by the way, say more about how much more money Giuliani was making from Ukraine than Hunter Biden. I mean, they just don't bring that up often. Maybe that will come out at some point today.
OK. Thank you very much. Great to talk to you.
All week, CNN has been traveling outside of the beltway to gauge how people across the country feel about the impeachment hearings. Up next, we hear from voters in Arizona. Are their opinions on this shifting?