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Former U.S. Ambassador To Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch Testifies In House Impeachment Hearings; Office Of Management And Budget Official To Testify To Congress Regarding Delay In Providing Military Aid To Ukraine; Diplomatic Official Claims To Have Overheard President Trump Speaking With Ambassador Gordon Sondland On Potential Ukraine Investigation Into Bidens; President Trump's Lawyers Bring Case To Supreme Court To Block Release Of President's Financial Records; Trump Political Adviser Roger Stone Convicted On Seven Counts; Democratic Presidential Candidate Deval Patrick And Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) Speak At California Democratic Convention. Aired 2-3p ET

Aired November 16, 2019 - 14:00   ET



FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Let's start with CNN's Lauren Fox on Capitol Hill. Lauren, what do we know about the testimony underway?

LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: It's been going on for several hours, but Mark Sandy is a career official, Fredricka, at the OMB. That would be the agency that handles disbursing this nearly $400 million in U.S. military aid that was supposed to go to Ukraine. Of course, we know that that money was delayed until September 11th even though Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill had agreed to release that money.

So what do Democrats want to hear from this person? They want to understand how this process was supposed to work, and what might have gone off the rails, what was happening behind the scenes, and why was this money so delayed? Remember, Republicans and Democrats, everyone was asking questions on Capitol Hill because no one could figure out, this is a bipartisan appropriation, they had already agreed upon it, the president had signed it into law, and yet this money was being withheld.

But this comes, of course, on the heels of blockbuster testimony really yesterday from David Holmes behind closed doors. CNN obtained a copy of his opening statement in which he recalled a phone conversation that he overheard in Kyiv between Gordon Sondland and President Donald Trump on July 26th. That's very significant, that date, because on July 25th you might recall that President Trump spoke over the phone with Ukraine's President Zelensky.

And on that phone call, of course, that is the center of this impeachment probe. On July 36th, this aide, David Holmes, overheard the conversation in which, and I want to quote from his opening statement, he said he "then heard President Trump ask, quote, so he's going to do the investigations? Ambassador Sondland replied that he's gonna do it, adding that President Zelensky will do, quote, anything you ask him to." This is very important, because if you remember a key line of defense

for Republicans has been, none of these individuals that they have heard from in public testimony so far had direct knowledge of the president's involvement in withholding this military aid. Obviously, this phone conversation that David Holmes overheard is a significant turn of events. And Holmes said in his opening testimony that the reason he came forward was because there was so much chatter about the fact that Bill Taylor, his boss, didn't have knowledge of why the money was withheld. He felt like he did, and therefore he came forward. Fredricka?

WHITFIELD: Lauren Fox, thank you so much.

With me now is Tara Sonenshine, a former undersecretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs under President Obama. She also once served as the deputy director of communications on the National Security Council under President Clinton. Tara, good to see you.


WHITFIELD: There's a lot to talk about, but let's begin with this new testimony from an aide who says he overheard President Trump on the phone with the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, Gordon Sondland, asking Sondland, Trump, that is, asking about the investigations into the Bidens, if the Ukrainian president was going to do this. And we're hearing about this testimony because of this kind of note- taking, documentation coming from these seasoned foreign service officers. Talk to me about how important that has now become, in this -- in the testimonies in this impeachment inquiry.

SONENSHINE: So David Holmes is one of a string of American officials and public servants who have come forth and done something quite courageous. And the first thing I'd say, Fredricka, is that whether you're a Republican, a Democrat, a conservative, a liberal, a progressive, as Americans, our public servants are under attack. And I think people have forgotten that a public servant is everyone from a postal worker, a school board member, a fighter pilot, an ambassador. And we are putting these public servants through such difficult, difficult harassment, intimidation. And we need our public servants. So I just think we have to focus on what is happening agency by agency to these people who come forth.

WHITFIELD: So then how does this sit with you when you hear people who are doubting their testimony, doubting the influence or the alleged influence from which their testimony might come?

SONENSHINE: When I heard criticism of Alex Vindman, who served our nation, he testified in uniform, heartbreaking to see someone like that be criticized. Bill Taylor, someone I know very well, served in Vietnam, won a Bronze Star, and is finding himself in this awkward position of having to testify when his boss is still the president.


What I've seen as someone who works every day with young people who want to go into the military, want to go in the foreign service, want to serve our country, is a demoralizing of the work, whether it's criticizing the FBI, the CIA, the State Department, we are putting these agencies that secure our freedom and democracy into terrible positions.

WHITFIELD: So when Ambassador Yovanovitch testified, she talked about the personal sacrifice, but it really is duty in which one is motivated to serve, and at the same time she talked about the discovery of the personal attorney of Trump, Rudy Giuliani, who was acting as a shadow diplomat, that he was reaching out to corrupt Ukrainians with possible blessings from the president of the United States to push for this investigation. Customarily, what is a public servant, a foreign service officer to do when something like that happens? Or has it been your experience that that so rarely happens that you have a private citizen working for the White House or working under other motivation, bypassing State Department policy?

SONENSHINE: Let me give you an analogy that I think people would understand. And I know your dad, for example, served in the Air Force. Imagine if --

WHITFIELD: And State Department.

SONENSHINE: And State Department.

WHITFIELD: So he was a foreign service officer.

SONENSHINE: Imagine if you're going to -- let's say you're soldiers going to war for America, and somebody from the outside, a private citizen, comes along and says, I'd like all the soldiers to move in a different direction. We would be up in arms over that. These are officials who follow very strict clearance, security, talking points, procedures, process.

So to have the former mayor of New York enter into this scene, to have, frankly, an ambassador who does not have Ukraine in his portfolio, drop in to Kyiv in the middle of all of this, any American who understands that you work in a system when you show up at your job, you follow rules, you badge in, you sign out, you have a boss, we don't just run amuck, or else our country is vulnerable, then become subject to attack. And when we do get attacked from the outside, we will all be pointing fingers at the very public officials and military soldiers and statesmen that we're now criticizing.

WHITFIELD: So being attacked, however, from the inside, meaning the State Department is the place that you expect as a foreign service officer, that has your back, the White House, it has your back. So in an instance of what we're seeing from this testimony, that these career service -- foreign service officers were being targeted by the highest office of the land, what is now the residual feeling within the State Department, or perhaps even other departments in the United States government, where is there a feeling of lost confidence on who and what institution has their back?

SONENSHINE: Let me leave you with three things. First of all, people should read the inspector general report from within the State Department, issued twice, in August and recently, which talked about the atmosphere of intimidation and political harassment going on in the State Department. One data point.

Second data point -- read the resignation letter of Secretary of State Pompeo's righthand person in which he says we have no support for the people I work with from the top down, and secondly, politics has crept into this organization.

And the third data point, the number of people taking a foreign service exam is down by one-third over the last few years. People are running away from public service just at a time in our history when we need them to run towards public service.

WHITFIELD: Tara Sonenshine, thank you so much for your time and expertise. Appreciate it. Thank you for your service.

SONENSHINE: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: Still ahead, the impeachment inquiry is captivating Capitol Hill, but is it registering with voters? We'll discuss.

Plus, President Trump has another fight on his hands, this time over his taxes. Why? He's asking the U.S. Supreme Court to take up the case.


WHITFIELD: All right, welcome back. Significant new details emerging out of yesterday's testimony from the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch. She said she felt threatened by the president's attack on her when serving in her post and was alarmed by the State Department's failure to defend her. Yovanovitch's appearance comes as Democrats argue the president sought her removal in order to pave the way for pressure campaign in Ukraine that would benefit him personally.

Joining me right now, Congressional Reporter for "Politico," Melanie Zanona, and Congressional Reporter for "The Washington Post" and CNN Political Commentator, Karoun Demirjian.

Good to see you both. So Karoun, you first. How much did Yovanovitch's testimony help Democrats in their case?

KAROUN DEMIRJIAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I think it gave Democrats the personal angle of this. She is the first human victim of what they say was Trump's effort to subvert the U.S. policy toward Ukraine and use it towards his own benefit, and it helps to have somebody who can make a case about how she was caught in the crossfire and unwittingly pushed out and ousted even though she had been told just weeks before that she was doing a great job and should have her contract as ambassador there extended. It juxtaposes, gives the audience somebody to look towards who actually has a face and thoughts and feelings, as opposed to the president, Rudy Giuliani, the three amigos, et cetera.

[14:15:04] But I think it depends on who was watching yesterday. If people were watching who felt sympathetic towards her watching it, that could make a difference. If they didn't tune in, then it's going to be difficult to translate the fact and the human emotions there to an audience.

WHITFIELD: The testimony was compelling and even the end. Of course we've got a lot more to talk about, but a standing ovation upon exit. So Melanie, ambassador Yovanovitch was asked in the midst of that testimony about that phone call between the president and his Ukrainian counterpart where he called her bad news. Take a listen.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What was your reaction when you heard the president of the United States refer to you as bad news?

MARIE YOVANOVITCH, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO UKRAINE: I couldn't believe it. Again, shocked, appalled, devastated, that the president of the United States would talk about any ambassador like that to a foreign head of state. And it was me. I couldn't believe it.


WHITFIELD: And Melanie, it's hard to know what all independent and undecided voters might be thinking, but I had a guest on earlier who made a powerful point in that some voters might be looking at the pattern of how the president describes particularly powerful women, and that he would call her bad news and she had such an esteemed reputation.

MELANIE ZANONA, CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER, "POLITICO": Right, and this plays exactly into Democrats' hands. It makes her even more of a sympathetic figure. It turns her into more of a martyr. And this is exactly what Republicans did not want to happen. In fact, the day before they had huddled in the Capitol basement and came up with this game plan of they weren't going to go after her and attack her credibility as a witness. They actually wanted to praise her and thank her for her service and focus on other things, like the fact that president had a right to fire and hire whoever he wanted.

So privately Republicans were dumbfounded that he would tweet in the middle of this hearing. Some of the Republicans wouldn't even answer questions about it. I had one lawmaker on the committee, a Republican, John Ratcliffe, I tried asking him about it, and he faked a phone call just to avoid talking to me about this. But it just shows how difficult of a spot Republicans are in when it comes to defending the president here.

WHITFIELD: So the president tweeted about Ambassador Yovanovitch in the midst of the testimony, saying in part that everywhere she turned, everywhere she went turned bad. House Intel Committee Chairman Adam Schiff broke the news during the hearing. Listen to that moment.


REP. ADAM SCHIFF, (D-CA) CHAIRMAN, HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: And now the president in real-time is attacking you. What effect do you think that has on other witnesses' willingness to come forward and expose wrongdoing?


SCHIFF: It's designed to intimidate, is it not?

YOVANOVITCH: I can't speak to what the president is trying to do, but I think the effect is to be intimidating.

SCHIFF: Well, I want to let you know, ambassador, that some of us here take witness intimidation very, very seriously.


WHITFIELD: So Karoun, how could this undermine Republicans who argue the president was motivated by weeding out corruption?

DEMIRJIAN: If the Republicans are trying to make that case, that the president was never attacking Yovanovitch, it's very difficult to see how that broadside of a tweet, which is basically holding a very junior officer responsible for a very unstable country, Somalia, which really does not pass the smell test no matter what your politics are, that's a harder argument to make that there isn't attacks going on here.

And witness intimidation is a very, very serious charge and offense. And you could see that potentially added now to the portfolio of things the Democrats are gathering to say are impeachable acts of the president, even though Schiff did not go there yesterday. He just very clearly connected the dots about saying that he thinks, hinting that he thinks this is witness intimidation.

I think the Republicans are scrambling and pirouetting to not address this because it would be yet another thing that they have to then accommodate in what is already a complicated defense and a defense that seems to be changing every few days depending on what comes out to both separate the president from any untoward action here, but also explain things away as if they're OK. And the less they address this sort of thing head on that comes out of leftfield, unforced errors potentially by the president, the less it gets on FOX News, and so potentially they don't have to completely upend once more the defense strategy that they're running from the Hill.

WHITFIELD: And Melanie you already said you've reached out to Republicans, not many are defending the president's mid-hearing attacks on Yovanovitch, her claims of this smear campaign. So in your view, does this show that some Republicans may be rethinking their defense of the president on this whole Ukraine issue?

ZANONA: I think they're rethinking a lot of their defenses, because what we've seen is each one of their defenses has really crumbled under the weight of all this evidence. They've really tried to focus, as you mentioned, on the idea that he was just trying to root out corruption in Ukraine. But now we have witness after witness saying that he was actually focused on investigations.


They've also tried to say that most of these witnesses are just secondhand accounts, that they don't have firsthand knowledge. Now we have another potential witness who is saying he directly heard Trump's voice talking about these investigations.

And when it comes to attacking the credibility of these witnesses, I think they are trying to be a little bit careful about going after some of these figures. You also have someone who is a decorated war veteran, Alex Vindman, testifying next week. And so there is a debate internally about just how hard to go after some of these folks. But I would look out for Gordon Sondland next week. I do think Republicans, they are starting to whisper about the idea that maybe he was just politically motivated, trying to impress the president, and maybe they try and throw him under the bus. But they don't have a whole lot of good options here.

WHITFIELD: We'll leave it there. Melanie Zanona, Karoun Demirjian, thank you, ladies, appreciate it.

ZANONA: Thank you.

DEMIRJIAN: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: And don't miss a CNN special, "The White House in Crisis, The Impeachment Inquiry" hosted by Chris Cuomo, that's tomorrow night starting at 8:00 eastern.

Coming up, an unprecedented legal move, President Trump asked the U.S. Supreme Court to block a subpoena for his tax returns. The last-ditch appeal right after this.



WHITFIELD: In the midst of an impeachment inquiry President Trump and his lawyers are gearing up for an unprecedented legal fight in an effort to block the release of his financial records. Here to discuss is CNN Supreme Court reporter Ariane De Vogue. So Ariane, what exactly are these cases about?

ARIANE DE VOGUE, CNN SUPREME COURT REPORTER: Fred, for months we've seen lawsuits concerning the president swirling around in the lower courts, but now two of them are at the Supreme Court, and they both share one thing in common, and that is the president is making broad claims of immunity. The first case comes from a Manhattan D.A. who was looking into hush money.

So he sent a subpoena to President Trump's longtime accounting firm Mazars. And the president's personal lawyers raced to court to block that subpoena. And they basically said that he has broad immunity from any kind of criminal proceedings. You might remember that they are the ones who went to court to say even if he shot someone on Fifth Avenue, he has broad immunity.

So the justices will look at that case. But just at the end of the week they got a petition from the president on another case with much broader implications because this case comes from the House of Representatives, and the House is also asking the accounting firm for these financial documents. And the president is fighting that one too. And the reason that this particular case might resonate is because it has to do with separation of powers, and one branch of Congress going after the president. So it will be very interesting to see how the Supreme Court react to these two cases now that they're finally before them.

WHITFIELD: Right. So far these cases have resulted in losses in the lower courts, losses for the president. So why does the president and his team feel more confident about giving it a go in the U.S. Supreme Court?

DE VOGUE: Well, you're just right, Fred, because a lot of these lower court judges who have ruled against the president here, they have cited Supreme Court precedent. For instance, they've looked at the Nixon case. Remember in Watergate when the president had to turn over these tapes. And they've all said that Supreme Court precedent goes against the president.

But what's very interesting is last night Attorney General Bill Barr, the DOJ is not officially a part of any of these cases, but he gave a rousing speech last night in Washington, and it was all about executive power. And he basically said over the last several years, the other branches of government are invading, are weakening executive power. If those are the kinds of arguments that President Trump's own lawyers make, there may be some justices on the Supreme Court who look at that and see it differently and want to weigh in on some of these questions. So that's going to be something to watch.

WHITFIELD: Indeed. Ariane De Vogue, thank you so much.

DE VOGUE: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: Coming up next, he's leading the House impeachment inquiry, but Congressman Adam Schiff is not on Capitol Hill for today's ceremony. What he had to say in California just moments ago, next.



WHITFIELD: Right now, White House Budget official, Office of Management and Budget official, Mark Sandy is testifying behind closed doors on Capitol Hill. Sandy's deposition comes fresh off of the heels of an eventful week filled with riveting public hearings in which we got to hear firsthand scathing testimony about the president's actions regarding Ukraine.

Joining me right now to discuss is Cass Sunstein. He is a former administrator from the White House Office of Information and Regulator Affairs under President Obama, and author of "Impeachment, A Citizen's Guide." Professor, Cass, good to see you.



WHITFIELD: What were some of your key observations made in this week of public testimony?

SUNSTEIN: There's been a great deal of clarity in a really short time. I think everyone agrees now that if the president actually used taxpayer money successfully to coerce or influence Ukraine to interfere in our elections by prosecuting the family of a potential political opponent, if he intentionally did that and if he had succeeded, that would be an impeachable offense. I think there's consensus on that, which greatly narrows the grounds for reasonable disagreement.

WHITFIELD: So you heard from career diplomats talk about their suspicions, their reservations, and then also with the former ambassador Yovanovitch talk about being a target of a smear campaign. In what category do those things fall when it comes down to Democrats trying to build their case? Because in their testimonies none of them got direct orders from the president, but they felt the incoming, which they suspect came from his direction?

SUNSTEIN: I hope it isn't a Democratic clear effort to get rid of the president, as some of them want to do that. I hope on balance they're trying to figure out what happened and made up their mind. Bracketing that point, a smear campaign isn't an impeachable offense. It's not good, it's irresponsible. Maybe it's worse than that, probably it's worse than that.

But what we really want to focus on is whether there's a high crime, a misdemeanor. Bribery would count as that. Extortion would count as that. Something that's in the general domain of those two would count. But by itself the fact of smearing an ambassador or acting in this unprofessional and maybe hateful way, that would not be impeachable.


WHITFIELD: So today we know Mark Sandy of the Office of Management and Budget is testifying behind closed doors, this is the deposition phase, today, on a rare Saturday of testimony. His testimony might be in the category of the whole follow the money, right, if an explanation and perhaps even a directive as to whose idea was it to withhold this military aid to Ukraine and why. How do Democrats need to be directing their questioning to him today in order to get to the answers that are with clarity?

SUNSTEIN: I would hope both Democrats and Republicans would be focusing on the question whether the president used taxpayer money to try to get the Ukrainian government to criminally investigate an American politician or his family. If that's what happened, we're in a very grave area, one that we really haven't seen before. Or whether instead this was not really a presidential campaign or effort, it was a casual hope but not one of the core reasons why funds were being withheld.

So the question is really I think very straightforward, which is did the president personally seek to use this office to try to get a criminal investigation of someone whom he targeted for one reason only, that is he was a Democrat and potentially a presidential candidate.

WHITFIELD: And then next week, the U.S. ambassador to the E.U., Gordon Sondland is to testify publicly. Republicans and Democrats, of course, get a chance to ask him questions as well. He's already it to change his testimony or modify his previous testimony. And now he'll be speaking on a public stage, answering the questions about that phone call that was overheard, what kind of direction he was receiving. What questions would you ask of him if you had the opportunity?

SUNSTEIN: I'd want to know whether the thought was this was a neutral effort to get at corruption in general in Ukraine, or whether this was a targeted effort to go after Vice President Biden and his family. I'd want to know whether the president believed, in fact, on the basis of evidence that there had been corruption on the part of someone in the Biden family. That would go to whether the president was acting sincerely or whether instead he was acting on the basis of political self-interest.

So the only two issues really that look like they have bright lights around them right now are, first, did the president succeed in some sense in damaging our relationship with another country by withholding money for several months, and also, did the president seek neutrally to investigate corruption, or was he instead thinking this is really a political mission he's sending our foreign affairs apparatus on?

WHITFIELD: Cass Sunstein, always good to see you. Thank you so much.

SUNSTEIN: Thanks to you.

WHITFIELD: We'll be right back.



WHITFIELD: Just moments ago the newest Democratic presidential candidate, former Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick, spoke at the California Democratic Party 2019 fall endorsing convention.


DEVAL PATRICK, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: But I am not running, my friends, to be president of the Democrats. I am running to be president of the United States. There's a difference. I'm not talking about a moderate agenda. This is no time for a moderate agenda. I'm talking about being woke while leaving room for the still waking. I'm talking about what it takes to rebuild a national community.

The values of community and justice are the foundations of the American dream. But over the years, we've seen policy shift away from those values. We've seen a deterioration of a sense of common cause let alone common decency. We've seen an economy tilted on purpose toward the well-connected, a deliberate effort to associate poverty with the unrelated concept of fault, and justice slowly but methodically drained out of the criminal justice system.

And we've seen government itself diminished and belittled so that the public's confidence in it to address common needs keeps sinking. Leaders who spend every waking moment trying to divide us have made it worse. Caging children and demeaning the weak and vulnerable has made us ashamed. But the troubling fact is that before the current administration the poor were stuck in poverty, and the middle class were just one paycheck away from being poor. The American dream I have lived is up for grabs. But it doesn't have to be that way.


WHITFIELD: All right, Deval Patrick now officially in the race for the White House.

Tomorrow night we're going to tell you what's coming up right after this.



WHITFIELD: Another one of the president's associates is now a convicted criminal. Trump's longtime political adviser Roger Stone has been found guilty of witness tampering and lying to and obstructing Congress. He potentially faces decades behind bars. Since President Trump took office Roger Stone makes now one of six people convicted or pleading guilty in Robert Mueller's Russia investigation. Here now is CNN's Sara Murray.


SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: A jury in Washington agreed with prosecutors that truth still matters, and found Roger Stone guilt on Friday on seven criminal counts, including lying to Congress. Stone, a longtime friend and political adviser to President Trump, was convicted of five counts of lying to Congress, one of witness tampering, and one of obstructing a Congressional committee proceeding.

Prosecutors argued that Stone lied about his contact with Trump and other campaign officials about WikiLeaks 2016 release of hacked Democratic emails because, "It would look really bad for his longtime associate, Donald Trump." They told the jury "Truth still matters." After two days of deliberations, the jury agreed.

Stone, a veteran Republican political operative known for his flamboyant style, offered no audible reaction as the verdict was delivered. His wife let out a sigh of relief when the judge announced Stone could await his February sentencing from home rather than behind bars.

The verdict marks the conclusion of one of Robert Mueller's highest profile prosecutions. Stone was arrested in a pre-dawn raid at his Florida home in January as Mueller's team was winding down its investigation. The trial revealed new details that had been redacted from the Mueller report, like how he eager the Trump campaign was to get dirt from WikiLeaks in 2016.



MURRAY: And a number of phone calls between Stone and Trump at a time when Stone was claiming he had direct contact with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

ROGER STONE: I actually have communicated with Assange.

MURRAY: A claim Stone now denies.


On one call in July, 2016, Trump and Stone apparently spoke about the upcoming release of hacked Democratic emails according to testimony from former Trump campaign official Rick Gates earlier this week. Trump, though, told Mueller's team "I do not recall discussing WikiLeaks with him." President Trump, who has weighed whether to pardon Stone in recent months, slammed the verdict, tweeting, "So they now convict Roger Stone of lying and want to jail him for many years to come." He called Stone's conviction "a double standard," claiming Hillary Clinton, Adam Schiff, and even Robert Mueller had lied. Stone declined to comment on a possible pardon.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Stone's what's your reaction to the verdict?

STONE: No comment.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Will you be seeking a pardon from President Trump?

STONE: No comment.

MURRAY: Sara Murray, CNN, Washington.


WHITFIELD: Tomorrow night Lisa Ling is back with a brand new episode of "This is Life," and this time she goes inside the New York Police Department to see what it takes to keep the city safe from terror attacks. Here's a preview.


LISA LING, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You feel like people in the mosques and in the communities really trust you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, definitely. And you build that trust just by being a practicing Muslim like them. There is a little tension when I first walk in. They're a little bit on edge. As soon as I pray the same way they pray, their face completely changes, that tension just completely melts away.

LING: Bilal (ph) hopes to empower communities alienated after 9/11 by addressing individual issues.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People have domestic issues, they have problems with their kids, they have questions with how do we report a missing person? I get calls all the time.

LING: What does it mean to you to work for a department that is sending you out as liaisons to communities that have historically had a distrust for the cops?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They realize that there was a mistrust issue, so they're acknowledging it. I feel like if there's a problem with something, you can do nothing and criticize it, or you can join it and make it better for everyone.


WHITFIELD: Be sure to watch an all new episode of "This is Life with Lisa Ling" tomorrow 10:00 eastern and pacific, only on CNN.



WHITFIELD: Welcome back. Just moments ago, Congressman Adam Schiff, who was chair of the house intelligence committee overseeing the impeachment inquiry, was met with thunderous applause when he appeared at a California Democratic Party 2019 fall endorsing convention.



REP. ADAM SCHIFF, (D-CA) CHAIRMAN, HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Two years ago, I stood before you and I urged you to resist, and you did. But we are more than a resistance now. We are a majority. We are a majority in one house and we will become the majority in the other. And we will send, we will send that charlatan in the White House back to the golden throne he came from.



WHITFIELD: CNN's Kyung Lah joining us now from Long Beach, California. So Kyung, tell me about this reception and this message.

KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You could hear the applause there, and that's just one snippet of what Representative Schiff heard as he joined the stage here. As he walked out onto the stage, I was rolling just to see how long the applause would be. It was a standing ovation that lasted more than a minute. He was introduced as our protector. And this is a crowd, a progressive crowd that was eating it up.

His fiery speech, tearing into Trump, tearing into the Trump administration, into something that this progressive crowd appreciated. And you could hear it in that applause that you just ran. As Representative Schiff spoke longer and longer, he said in wrapping up his comments, he added, how do we take back our democracy? The crowd chanted, we vote. And then ending with very emphatically, he said hell right, you're damn right, we do. So this is a crowd that wanted to hear fire and he brought it. Fredricka?

WHITFIELD: And then also at that event, you actually spoke with Deval Patrick, former Massachusetts governor who is officially now in the race, he spoke moments ago. What did he have to say? What was the reception like about him now joining the throngs of others?

LAH: Well, if Schiff got a hero's welcome, you might say it was close to the 180 that the former governor of Massachusetts got in this, again, a progressive crowd. As he walked on to the stage, people were not outright hateful, but there were people holding thumbs down signs. I saw a number of people waving him to get off the stage. And when I spoke to some of them, they said that this is not the time to add more people into this Democratic field. And that's a question that I asked the governor as he spoke to reporters shortly after making his very first public comments in his candidacy.


LAH: I was sitting in the crowd, and there were people who were booing, some people holding their thumbs down. And then I spoke with those people and they said you are hurting the Democratic Party by being a late entrant. What do you say to that?

DEVAL PATRICK, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I understand it, although I think -- I understand it because that's sort of a narrative that some people want to pursue. Look, I'm going to have to win everybody's confidence and everyone's vote, whether they have a first impression that's favorable or a first impression that's not.


LAH: He does have a hill to climb at least with some of the progressives we spoke with, Fredricka.

And one other bit of context. We were in Arizona this week with moderates as Deval Patrick announced his candidacy, and those moderate Democrats and Republicans also said the same thing. They thought it was just simply too late in this stage of the game. Fredricka?

WHITFIELD: Interesting. All right, there was a little bit of everything happening right there. Kyung Lah, thank you so much. And thank you so much for joining me this afternoon. I'm Fredricka Whitfield. Sorry, we have so much more straight ahead in the "NEWSROOM" with Ana Cabrera right after this.

ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York. Great to have you with us this weekend.