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Impeachment Investigation Second Public Hearing; Secretary of State Mike Pompeo Did Not Defend Marie Yovanovitch; Adam Schiff Interviewed During Impeachment Inquiry Recess. Aired 10:30-11a ET
Aired November 15, 2019 - 10:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[10:30:00] DANIEL GOLDMAN, MAJORITY DIRECTOR OF INVESTIGATIONS, HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: -- say that a president of Ukraine that is so dependent on the United States would do just about anything within his power to please the president of the United States, if he could?
MARIE YOVANOVITCH, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO UKRAINE, ON BEHALF OF DEPARTMENT OF STATE: You know, if he could. I mean, I'm sure there limits and I understand there were a lot of discussions in the Ukrainian government about all of this. But -- but, yeah. I mean, we are an important relationship on the security side and on the political side.
And so the president of Ukraine, one of the most important functions that individual has is to make sure the relationship with the U.S. is rock solid.
GOLDMAN: Now, are you familiar with these allegations of Ukrainian interference in the 2016 election?
YOVANOVITCH: I mean, there have been rumors out there about things like that. But, you know, there was nothing hard, at least nothing that I was aware of.
GOLDMAN: There was nothing based in fact --
GOLDMAN: -- to support these allegations?
GOLDMAN: And in fact, who was responsible for interfering and meddling in the 2016 election?
YOVANOVITCH: Well, the U.S. intelligence community has concluded that it was Russia.
GOLDMAN: Ambassador Yovanovitch, are you aware that in February of 2017, Vladimir Putin himself promoted this theory of Ukrainian interference in the 2016 election?
YOVANOVITCH: You know, maybe I knew that once and have forgotten, but I -- I'm not familiar with it now. GOLDMAN: Well, let me show you a press statement that President Putin
made in a joint press conference with Viktor Orban of Hungary on February 2nd of 2017.
Where he says, "Second, as we all know, during the presidential campaign in the United States, the Ukrainian government adopted a unilateral position in favor of one candidate. More than that, certain oligarchs, certainly with the approval of the political leadership, funded this candidate, or female candidate, to be more precise."
Now, how would this theory of Ukraine interference in the 2016 election be in Vladimir Putin's interest?
YOVANOVITCH: Well, I mean, President Putin must have been aware that there were concerns in the U.S. about Russian meddling in the 2016 elections, and what the potential was for Russian meddling in the future.
So, you know, classic for an intelligence officer to try to throw off the scent and, you know, create an alternative narrative that maybe might get picked up and get some credence.
GOLDMAN: An alternative narrative that would absolve his own wrongdoing?
GOLDMAN: And when he talks about an oligarch and he talks about the support of the Ukrainian government, there's also a reference in the July 25th call to a wealthy Ukrainian. Is it your understanding that what Vladimir Putin is saying here in this press statement in February 2017 is similar to what President Trump says on the July 25th call related to the 2016 election?
GOLDMAN: Now, let me show you another exhibit from the call related to the Bidens, which I'm sure you're familiar with.
President Trump says, "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. Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution. So if you can look into it, it sounds horrible to me."
Now, are you familiar with the allegation -- these allegations related to Vice President Biden?
GOLDMAN: Do you know whether he ever went around, bragging that he stopped the prosecution of anyone?
YOVANOVITCH: No. GOLDMAN: And in fact, when Vice President Biden acted to remove the former corrupt prosecutor in Ukraine, did he do so as part of official United States policy?
YOVANOVITCH: Official U.S. policy. That was --
GOLDMAN: And that was --
YOVANOVITCH: -- endorsed and was the policy of a number of other international stakeholders, other countries, other monetary institutions, financial institutions.
GOLDMAN: And in fact, if he helped to remove a corrupt Ukrainian prosecutor general, who was not prosecuting enough corruption, that would increase the chances that corrupt companies in Ukraine would be investigated, isn't that right?
YOVANOVITCH: One would think so.
GOLDMAN: And that could include Burisma, right?
GOLDMAN: Now, at the time of this call, Vice President Biden was the frontrunner for the Democratic nomination for president, and President Trump's potential next opponent in the election. Is it your understanding that President Trump's request to have Vice President Biden investigated, was that part of official U.S. policy as you knew it?
YOVANOVITCH: Well, I should say that I had -- at the time of this phone call, I had already departed Ukraine two months prior.
GOLDMAN: Right. But you're familiar with -- it didn't change that much in two months, right?
YOVANOVITCH: It -- it certainly would not have been the policy in May, when I left.
GOLDMAN: And were -- were these two investigations part of the anti- corruption platform that you championed in Ukraine for three years?
GOLDMAN: And these investigations, do they appear to you to be -- to benefit the president's personal and political interests rather than the national interest?
YOVANOVITCH: Well, they certainly could.
GOLDMAN: Now, just returning to the allegations in the Hill publication in March that were promoted by Mr. Giuliani, the president's lawyer, were those two allegations similar to the two allegations that the president wanted President Zelensky to investigate?
GOLDMAN: So ultimately, in the July 25th phone call with the Ukrainian president, the president of the United States endorsed the false allegations against you and the Bidens. Is that right?
GOLDMAN: I yield back, Mr. Chairman.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Chairman, I have a parliamentary inquiry, please.
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): The gentleman will suspend.
Votes are fairly imminent. We're going to take a brief recess. I would ask everyone to remain seated --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Chairman, I have a --
SCHIFF: ... to allow the...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... parliamentary (ph) inquiry...
SCHIFF: ... witness to...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... please?
SCHIFF: ... exit the room. And we will resume after votes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Chairman, I have a point (ph) of inquiry (ph).
SCHIFF: The gentleman can seek recognition after we resume.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: All right, so they're taking a break right now. What a devastating bit of news we have just been hearing.
A truly powerful statement by the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, speaking emotionally but very, very specifically about the accusations that she's leveling (ph) about inappropriate behavior, not only by the president of the United States but by his personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, Donald Trump Jr., these two associates of Rudy Giuliani, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, both of whom have now been charged, have been indicted by the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York.
John King, let's get some immediate reaction to all of this. This was a statement in which this ambassador said she had never seen anything like this before. She felt threatened, she is scared to this very day.
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Remarkably poised, remarkably credible. Democrats may regret not putting her in the witness chair first, not that the other witnesses didn't help their case, you get they're trying to do a building-block approach to this.
But what powerful testimony. She said, number one, that policy went off the rails. Number two, she said she was kneecapped, U.S. policy has hijacked. And she said she could not understand that while she was trying to get Ukraine and thought she was making progress at finally getting Ukraine to move toward the rule of law and enhance its anti-corruption efforts, she says Rudy Giuliani pops up with known bad actors.
And she said she could not understand how corrupt Ukrainians, with the help of Americans, could undermine her and, in the end, undermine U.S. national security policy and (ph) fighting (ph).
At the end of the conversation there, you see where the Democrats are trying to go. That what Giuliani and they say the president of the United States were doing, was something that was on a parallel track with what Vladimir Putin wants in Ukraine, not what U.S. policy is. So they're trying to get through her, and she's a very powerful witness to the corruption part. Now, this was not just unusual, this was not just unorthodox, this was corrupt.
NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: No. and I thought, you know, this woman has ice in her veins. She's got a spine of steel. She laid out, I thought in brilliant detail, who she was, right? And who these Foreign Service folks are.
She says, oh, she's moved 13 times, seven different countries, five hardship posts. At some point in 1993, she was in Moscow under gunfire, going to the ambassador's embassy there, and she did it out of a sense of duty. This was, I thought, remarkable testimony. She's incredibly charismatic, incredible.
I agree that maybe the Democrats should have gone with her first, but I do think they end the week with a bang with this testimony. They go into the weekend, the Sunday shows.
The president clearly watching, right? He is somebody who likes drama, he likes characters. He got a character here, and he certainly has a lot of drama. He was again, in that tweet, trying to slime her and --
KING: That he's reacting in real time --
KING: -- proves -- proves --
HENDERSON: Tells you that --
KING: -- she got his attention.
HENDERSON: -- how good the statement was --
BLITZER: Yes. HENDERSON: -- I think that's right.
WOLF: He was clearly, the president of the United States, watching all of this. When he starts tweeting, "Everywhere Marie Yovanovitch went turned bad."
DAVID GREGORY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: You know, it's -- I will say -- and I know this will sound naive, you know, in this age of Trump. I am genuinely shocked by his behavior with regard to this Foreign Service officer of three decades.
To disparage her, to demean her in sexist overtones, saying, "the woman over there." To threaten her, to say to a foreign leader that she's bad news? You know, presidents usually understand that the job is bigger than them, that it's about the government, that you're representing the people. I am genuinely shocked, and I sound naive in saying so, given the things that President Trump has said in the years that he's been president.
But I'll tell you something, she made a mockery of his dismissals of the deep state. If this is the deep state, I bet a lot of Americans looked up and said, yes, I'll take more of that. Because these are people who are dedicating themselves to, yes, serving in places that are corrupt, that are dangerous, that are going bad and trying to represent U.S. interests.
I thought this was horrible for the president. And let me add, I don't know whether this will lead to impeachment. What this is, is an indication of how the president treats (ph) his people, they are his people.
And I'll tell you who she also indicted today was Secretary of State Pompeo. She says, they in the State Department knew allegations against me were false, and this West Point grad, this tough secretary of state didn't stand up for his people.
BLITZER: He comes across --
GREGORY: That stands out pretty (ph) --
BLITZER: -- by her testimony --
BLITZER: -- John Dean, we're talking about the secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, as weak, unwilling to do what a secretary of state should do to defend career Foreign Service officers who risk their lives on so many occasions for the United States.
JOHN DEAN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: And he's a military man, he knows the importance of that. He didn't arrive as a civilian like Rex Tillerson, to take this job.
Wolf, what struck me, it's almost breathtaking that he's -- the president is live-tweeting this and he's tweeting intimidation. This is criminal. This is -- there's (ph) statute that prohibits that very kind of activity. And he's just not letting up.
BLITZER: Well, let me bring in our legal analyst. Is this witness intimidation?
ROSS GARBER, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I think that's where -- that's where Schiff was going on this. I mean, the president has a right to express his opinion and I do think this shows that the ambassador's testimony was getting under her -- under the president's skin.
I thought the chairman's questioning was very effective, I thought Dan Goldman's questioning was very effective. The Republicans now have a big challenge because I think where they would probably want to go is kind of poke holes in her knowledge, poke holes in -- do the sort of hearsay thing.
But I think, after this testimony, there are going to be a lot of questions that the public is going to want to know the answers to, and that so far we haven't.
So for example, you know, it'll be interesting to see whether they identify potential reasons why Ambassador Yovanovitch was recalled. You know, I think people are going to want an answer to what the president actually meant when he said that she'd go through some things. We don't know that yet. It'll be very interesting to see how the Republicans --
BLITZER: Because, you know, Carrie, the description of the president's behavior and those associated with the president including Rudy Giuliani among others, paints a picture of despicable behavior by the leader of the United States towards a U.S. ambassador.
CARRIE CORDERO, CNN LEGAL AND NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: It does. And what I found most compelling of her testimony so far is her description of how the institutions of government, in particular the institution of the State Department, is not holding up from the corruption --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right, right.
CORDERO: -- that she witnessed in this administration and from this president and his people who were close to him like Rudy Giuliani.
She paints a picture of a State Department that has been gutted of a -- the secretary of state and a president who throws out an ambassador that is working for U.S. interests and -- and her key point that she makes is that this is foreign influence. This was corrupt foreign influences in Ukraine that Rudy Giuliani was working with and that that triggered a decision by a U.S. president. And that is a critical national security issue and it's a critical issue for the functioning of our democracy.
GREGORY: And, Wolf, we only have to remember Benghazi to recall the righteous self-indignation that -- that Republicans expressed at what they considered to be a Democratic administration's disregard for the valor and the bravery of those serving in our diplomatic posts, security and otherwise.
I'll be very interested to see how they treat the ambassador in their line of questioning.
WOLF: And -- and this whole -- John, you mentioned this -- this whole debunked theory that it was Ukraine that interfered in the 2016 election as opposed to the Russians who interfered, which the entire U.S. intelligence community and allies concluded the Russians were doing it.
The debunked theory -- and we heard Daniel Goldman bring this up -- started actually in February, the month after the president was sworn in, in which -- in which Putin suggested Ukraine was responsible for all of this.
And that line was picked up by Rudy Giuliani, picked up by associates of his in the news media, picked up by these two Rudy Giuliani associates, including Donald Trump Jr. and the president of the United States himself.
KING: There's a -- what I called a pigpen aspect sometimes to the Republican defense, in that they throw up a lot of dust and so it's hard to see straight ahead, it's hard to see clearly because there's all this dust flying.
There -- there have been stories, including by CNN back in 2017, of a Democratic National Committee staffer talking to people in Ukraine. Paul Manafort, who had a lot of business in Ukraine, was then the Trump campaign chairman, looking for information about that. There's no question about that.
But this whole idea that the server is in Ukraine? Well (ph), Mike Pompeo was the director of the CIA before he was secretary of state. He is part of a consensus that says that's hogwash, to use a polite term, and that that didn't happen, that Russia meddled.
And again, in the end, they're trying to show that, you know, this is part of a pro-Putin conspiracy theory to blame Ukraine, to say it was in Ukraine.
But here you have an incredibly powerful witness -- to come back to the idea here, David makes a key point. This was different, this was off the rails. in trying to sway public opinion and perhaps sway any Republicans? Wow, was she a powerful witness about, I'm an American dream. I was appointed by Ronald Reagan. I have done this for years. I'm trying to fight the bad guys.
And let's see how the Republicans come back at her. She says, to this day, she does not understand how foreign and private interests are capable of undermining U.S. interests.
BLITZER: Hold on one second. The chairman's speaking outside the hearing room.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SCHIFF: -- at least no good reason. But we saw it today with this intimidation in real time by the president of the United States, once again going after this dedicated and respected career public servant in an effort to not only chill her, but to chill others who may come forward.
We take this kind of witness intimidation and obstruction of inquiry very seriously.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you think that's an impeachable offense? Is witness intimidation an impeachable offense, sir?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Once again, you know, you hear the chairman talk about witness intimidation. I assume once they start drafting articles of impeachment, we'll be hearing about witness intimidation.
HENDERSON: Quite possibly. I thought it was really smart of Schiff to read, sort of in real time, the president's tweet, clear proof that this woman is clearly getting under his skin.
And it kind of gives -- I think if you are a viewer who may not have been watching their Twitter (ph), they sort of know what the president is up to here. I thought, you know, sort of the underlying image that Marie Yovanovitch painted today was that the president on this call with Zelensky is taking the side of the people who are corrupt in Ukraine, and bad-mouthing someone who has been fighting corruption her entire life.
BLITZER: You know, John, what is significant here is that the president of the United States allegedly is conducting U.S. national security, foreign policy based on debunked conspiracy theories.
KING: Right. And we've seen that -- we have seen the president recycle conspiracy theories. Candidate Trump did it, businessman Trump even before he was a candidate did it, remember, Barack Obama's from Kenya.
You know, this has gone on forever. This has gone on forever, but the fact that it happens in such a critical situation at a critical time with the information coming from Rudy Giuliani, undermining U.S. foreign policy, is the case that Democrats are trying to make, that this was unprecedented.
KING: That's what they're trying -- to get this off the (ph), this is just Trump being Trump, this is just unusual, this is just disruptive, this is just he doesn't trust the bureaucracy so he has his own private foreign policy enterprise. They're trying to make this unique and corrupt, which is important.
To the intimidation part, remember, the president's doing this -- Marie Yovanovitch is testifying, so she's probably not aware until the Democrats brought it up, the president is tweeting.
But, behind closed doors today, they have other witnesses. They -- we've just learned that an Office of Management and Budget staffer has agreed to testify if they subpoena him. Gordon Sondland is in the chair next week, the ambassador who was on the phone call with the president, where he apparently brings up the Bidens.
So it -- the lawyers are better equipped than me to handle this, but that the -- at a time, they, A, have a key witness in the stand and, B, are about to interview other key witnesses over the next 24 to 72 hours that the president is doing this, that's a signal.
GREGORY: He's not just signaling. He's making very clear that the president of the United States, if you come forward, will personally seek to destroy you and your reputation. That's what the president of the United States is doing in real time.
The other piece of what everybody has been saying, who benefits from the president of the United States trashing his ambassadors? Russia does. Russia benefits. This has long-term implications beyond people who celebrate President Trump the Disruptor.
And, again, put aside the question of impeachment. Conduct of American foreign policy, which Republicans have stood up for, particularly against Russia for decades. This president is doing something that runs counter to the thrust of that policy, and that's what's on display here.
And I thought her point about the longer-term implications for how it undermines ambassadors in other posts, how it demeans, as Carrie said, the institution of the State Department. When -- when private interests and corrupt interests can collude, can come together to take down a Foreign Service officer of this reputation and this experience.
BLITZER: And a courageous Foreign Service officer --
BLITZER: -- who served in extremely dangerous situations. And in Ukraine is very dangerous. She explained, when one Ukrainian woman was fighting corruption, what happened to her with the acid and the death that unfolded.
Hold on for a second. Manu Raju, you've been speaking, I take it, with some of the lawmakers coming out. They're voting right now, they'll be resuming this hearing momentarily. The Republicans will have a chance to start asking some questions, Devin Nunes and the Republican staff attorney. But what are you hearing from members as they're walking out?
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Democrats are very concerned about what they view as witness intimidation by this president, in the tweet this morning, going after Marie Yovanovitch.
Talking to Adam Schiff just moments ago, it was interesting to hear that the one thing that he wanted to emphasize out of the morning session was the fact that he believed the president was trying to intimate not just Marie Yovanovitch, but other witnesses from coming forward. He just told us that it was -- he takes that, quote, "very, very seriously." And I tried to ask him whether or not he views that as a potential impeachable offense, he would not answer that question as the members are going on to votes.
But Democrats believe that what they have heard so far has been devastating to not just the president, but also the State Department as well. And Mike Pompeo, the leadership of his department, the failure of him to provide any sort of statement of support for Marie Yovanovitch made serious concerns among the career officials, people who have served in the diplomatic corps, about these efforts to go after her, Pompeo silent amid that push to offer that statement of support because of concerns the president would undercut her in part because of this Giuliani effort as well.
But also Republicans, Wolf, today -- I just talked to a number of them coming out of this hearing -- they say that the president did nothing wrong, they say that he is well within his rights to recall ambassadors at his will. So they are not moved by her morning testimony, despite Democrats saying it's devastating to this president -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Yes. They're voting right now, they'll be resuming this hearing, we're told, very, very soon. Manu, we're going to get back to you.
John Dean, when you -- when you heard the questioning from Daniel Goldman, the Democratic staff attorney for the Intelligence Committee, raising the notion and the suspicion that the Russians were the ones, Putin was the one that raised this conspiracy theory, debunked conspiracy theory that it was Ukraine that interfered in the 2016 election, not the Russians who interfered.
But then it was being picked up by all these Americans, including the president of the United States and Rudy Giuliani and their associates and their friends in the news media. What did -- what did that remind you of?
DEAN: Well, first of all, counsel is doing a very good job and this 45-minute rule, it gives him a chance to develop it.
As far as the substance going, what struck me, Wolf, is we're so far beyond Nixon and Clinton in this foreign affairs area. Those were domestic problems. These affect our national security. And that's what's being brought out. We have a president who is -- either through incompetence, through viciousness, whatever it is is driving him -- is just not protecting Americans.
BLITZER: And let's not forget, during those two months -- two and a half months, whatever it was -- when the U.S. security assistance was being suspended, withheld, Ukrainians were dying -- HENDERSON: Right.
BLITZER: -- in this war that was going on with the Russians.
HENDERSON: That's right. And that's something that Bill Taylor talked about on Wednesday as well. And I thought she also did a good job of talking about how vulnerable Ukraine was, how dependent they were on -- on aid and assistance from the U.S.
And she also made point that if President Zelensky was being asked for a favor from the president of the United States, it's very likely that he would feel compelled to do it because of the vulnerable situation that they're in, this hot war. She talked about being on the front lines in different points of this war, and sort of planting the American flag and showing American support.
So yes. I mean, I think Ukraine, obviously a very vulnerable country, and the president knowing that as he's on that phone call.
BLITZER: All right. We're waiting for the hearing to resume momentarily we're told. There are still voting members of the House Intelligence Committee. They'll be walking back in momentarily.
We'll hear from the Republicans. They'll be asking questions of this witness, the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine. Our special coverage will continue, right after this.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, this is Anderson Cooper. This is CNN --