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Ambassador To E.U., Gordon Sondland To Testify In Public Impeachment Hearing; President Trump Criticizes Aide To Vice President Pence Ahead Of Her Testimony In Impeachment Hearing; Demonstrators Clash With Police At A University In Hong Kong; Pete Buttigieg Is Now The Front Runner In Iowa. Aired 8-8:30a ET

Aired November 18, 2019 - 08:00   ET



ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: For you, CNN NEWSROOM is next. For our U.S. viewers, it's the start of a blockbuster week. NEW DAY continues right now.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Eight public impeachment hearings set for this week.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This last week was good for the facts and very bad for President Trump.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The president lashed out at another witness. Career diplomat Jennifer Williams.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Donald Trump doesn't like what he's hearing, he shouldn't tweet.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Sondland has to decide whether his loyalty is to America or the president of the United States.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is a man who said as far as the president is concerned, there was no quid pro quo.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The president of the United States shouldn't be on the phone with the president of another country and raise his political opponent. So this is not pip.


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

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, and welcome to your NEW DAY. It is Monday, November 18th. It is 8:00 in the East. And it's a big week in the impeachment process, including a witness that seems to grow in importance every hour, at least eight current and former officials are set to testify, each one tells a key part of the story. But the most anticipated appearance comes on Wednesday when the

Ambassador to the European Union, Gordon Sondland, is set to appear. Newly released transcripts reveal that Sondland had multiple direct conversations with the president. He could pick up his cell phone and call him seemingly at any time about efforts to get the Ukrainians to investigate Joe Biden. Sondland revised, you might say reversed his original testimony and admitted that he made clear to the Ukrainians that they would not get any aid unless they launch and investigations.

CAMEROTA: And new this morning, "The Wall Street Journal" reports that Sondland kept several top officials updated on that quest for investigations. The report is based on a review of e-mails, which means that a paper trail exists tying the scandal directly to the White House.

And most significantly, there are big questions this morning about President Trump's health after an unscheduled visit to Walter Reed hospital over the weekend that CNN has learned did not follow protocol of a routine presidential medical exam.

So let's begin with CNN's Lauren Fox. She is live on Capitol Hill with our top story. Lauren?

LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: Well, Alisyn, it's a huge week on Capitol Hill, with eight witnesses coming as part of this impeachment inquiry. Tomorrow Democrats and Republicans will hear from Timothy Morrison. He's that former NSC official who was on the July 25th phone call between President Trump and President Zelensky.

But he's very important because a transcript released of his closed door deposition reveals that he came to understand that Gordon Sondland, the E.U. ambassador, was being directed by President Trump to ask the Ukrainians to investigate the president's political rivals. He testified that he understood that Trump and Sondland had spoken approximately five times between July 25th, the date of that phone call between Trump and Zelensky, and September 11th when the nearly $400 million in security assistance was finally released to Ukraine.

Then on Wednesday, Sondland will come and be in the hot seat. You can expect that this is going to be a huge moment as part of this impeachment probe as Democrats and Republicans are going to be grilling him about what kind of conversations he was having directly with the president and with White House officials, that after "The Wall Street Journal" reported that he was communicating and keeping the White House acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and Rick Perry, the energy secretary, fully apprised of his actions in Ukraine.

And meanwhile, the president growing very frustrated with this impeachment probe, tweeting over the weekend about Jennifer Williams. She is an aide to the vice president who was on that July 25th phone call, and she essentially said that she thought that parts of that call were inappropriate, and that it was more political than diplomatic in nature. John is and Alisyn?

BERMAN: Lauren Fox, thanks so much for being with us. Joining us now, CNN Political Analyst, David Gregory, CNN White House

Correspondent, Kaitlan Collins, and CNN Contributor, John Dean. He was President Nixon's former White House counsel.

And Kaitlan, I want to start to you as we begin this week. We saw that list of witnesses, Jennifer Williams, the president attacking her over the weekend, setting the stage to draw questions about her, and then Gordon Sondland testifying on Wednesday. What are the stakes for the White House?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: It's interesting also because the president has been wanting to try this approach of undermining these witnesses, dismissing them and what their complaints or concerns have been. He's been advised not to do that.

People thought that wasn't the right method to take, that wasn't the right route, that they should instead try to talk about the distance between these officials, what their actual results were. And now you're seeing the president kind of take matters into his own hands, going after not only Marie Yovanovitch but now also Jennifer Williams.

I think the stakes, though, back to your question are high this week, because, of course, now Gordon Sondland finds himself squarely at the middle of this, and he is in these e-mails and these reports and these testimonies about him implicating the chief of staff, the energy secretary, but also he is the one who has had the most direct contact with the president. So he's going to be the person whose testimony people are really watching this week in addition to everyone else to see the case that they're making.


The question for the White House if whether or not this is able to turn the tide or if they can maintain this defense that they've tried to keep up for the past few days.

CAMEROTA: As has been pointed out, David Gregory, Gordon Sondland is the ambassador to the E.U. That doesn't even cover Ukraine. The idea that he was this pivotal person, that he's at the center of this, that he does know all of the links between Rick Perry and Zelensky and President Trump, and he's just a wild card because he has given a misleading testimony originally on October 17th and then had to amend it, we don't know what to expect this Wednesday.

DAVID GREGORY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: And he was in over his head. He was not a diplomat. He does not have this experience. He was somebody who gave a lot of money to the Trump campaign. That happens, by the way, obviously, that people get diplomatic posts, but they're not usually brought into the inner workings of diplomacy, the kind of matters the like of Bill Taylor at the State Department were actively engaged in.

And even Bill Taylor with his experience said, look, there can be irregular channels. You can have somebody like a Gordon Sondland who has access to the president who can make things happen. It's when those channels run contrary to what U.S. policy actually was, especially with regard to aiding Ukraine.

And that's what's going to be powerful about Gordon Sondland, someone who was appointed by Trump, who provides more direct evidence of what Trump actually wanted to have happen, the kind of pressure campaign that he was leading, that will be potentially damming evidence.

We're also going to see the effect of the public hearings themselves are something that we want to wait and see on the public. Certainly, Marie Yovanovitch was a very powerful witness, I think damaging to the president. We'll see over the long term, but certainly that day.

How does Sondland play overall, what will Republicans do with him? And again, remember Republicans at the end will say whatever Gordon Sondland did, whatever those conversations were, the aid still flowed, there was never an investigation by the Ukrainians. And you'll see that defense keep moving forward.

BERMAN: Alisyn was asking earlier which Gordon Sondland will we see? Will we see the first one who donated $1 million to the Trump transition and was very supportive of all the president's actions?

CAMEROTA: And who didn't remember.

BERMAN: And didn't seem to remember a lot, or will we see the one who reversed himself in written testimony? And John Dean, I submit we will see the one who saw Roger Stone get convicted on seven counts of lying and witness tampering on Friday, and the one who will testify under penalty of perjury in public on Wednesday. How much do you think that does and should weigh on him?

JOHN DEAN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I agree with you, John. That's can have a huge influence on any witness who might be on the edge. And Sondland is. He has now been refocused a couple times. He's come up in the hearings. And he is -- his life and future is on the block this week. He has a lot of very important information.

He is the one witness who could give up this president and change the entire dynamics of these hearings. Whether he will or not, I don't know. But I think he's got to be thinking about it. He may also -- there is a possibility he'll take the fifth amendment. He feels jeopardy from his earlier testimony. His lawyers might well be asking for immunity for him. And that could then open up a whole other door.

But the other thing I was struck with, was the president's tweeting on Jennifer Williams. She is a no-known witness. The fact that he tweeted about her has made her a new focus. Why is she so important? Why did she get under his skin? New attention will be paid to her as a result of that tweet that otherwise would have gone by the way.

CAMEROTA: I guess the reason she got under his skin is because she classified the phone call, which she was listening in on, as, quote, unusual and inappropriate. And Kaitlan, I think it's interesting, because she is the top national security aide to Vice President Mike Pence, so I was waiting over the weekend to hear Mike Pence come out with a full-throated defense of Jennifer Williams. Has his office said anything? COLLINS: I wouldn't expect to see one. And that's another reason the

president's criticism of her is so notable is that actually if you read her testimony, she went to great lengths to just try to really give a by the book account. She wasn't talking about her deep concerns, essentially, she was just saying she thought it was more politically motivated. She found it unusual that the president brought that up.

But it was one of the dryer testimonies out of the ones that we've seen. Yet I think the president simply read potentially the headlines of her testimony and that's why he lashed out at her. Also remember, she's a good friend of his friend Woody Johnson's who she used to work for. And so it just puts her in a remarkable position.


But the vice president's office has gone to great lengths to distance themselves from her, saying she's a State Department detailee who is detailed to our office, essentially saying she's not a politically picked person. We should note our reporting shows his national security adviser plays a pretty big role in deciding which with of these detailees is going to come work in their office, and he played a role in picking Williams to come work there. So that's another dynamic added to all of this.

CAMEROTA: Kaitlan, John Dean, David Gregory, thank you very much. We need to get to some breaking news right now.

Hundreds of pro-democracy protesters are clashing with police at a besieged university in Hong Kong. Demonstrators set fire to portions of the college where hundreds of people are believed to be barricaded inside. Police are warning that they will use live rounds, if they need to, to contain the crowds. CNN's Anna Coren has been live on the ground for us in this dangerous and breaking situation. Anna, what's the situation at this hour?

ANNA COREN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Alisyn, we are still here with the protesters on the streets several blocks from the Polytechnic University where there's hundreds of protesters are trapped. A short time ago police just fired canister after canister of tear gas. We could hear just the pounding. And now, as you can see, these protesters have formed a front line. There are bricks in front of them. The riot police are just ahead, maybe 100 meters.

OK, they've set a shuffle light, that's what they're looking at. They have been throwing petrol bombs nonstop. And we can see them. They just walk around with their petrol bombs and then light them and throw them at police. And then officers retaliate with rounds and rounds of tear gas. Rubber bullets are also being fired.

But this is a game of cat and mouse, Alisyn. This is what happens on the streets of Hong Kong. And many of these protesters have turned out to try and divert attention from the university. They're hoping that this will attract police resources away from the university, and that those inside will be freed. But the police have cordoned it off. There is no way in, no way out. They have told protesters inside the university that they must surrender, otherwise they will have to take over the university.

Now riot police are moving into position. We're expecting them to either charge, which is one of the tactics -- OK.

No. Tear gas. But sometimes it can be a little bit close, the tear gas. And what is extraordinary, Alisyn, is that these protesters, they are armed with umbrellas and they are taking on the police. This is what is unfolding on the streets of Hong Kong now on a daily basis. OK, we're just going to get out of here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get out of here. They're coming. They're firebombs.


CAMEROTA: So, Anna, those are tear gas canisters that we're seeing right now being lobbed from the police?

COREN: So the fires are petrol bombs. And yes, police are just firing. You can hear, OK. Just let's move back. OK, all right. There they are. Let's go back.


COREN: This is when the police charge. OK. Go. OK. We're OK. We're OK. We're OK. OK.

BERMAN: Anna just keep and your crusade, keep you and your crusade --

COREN: We're good.

BERMAN: If you can tell us what we're seeing there, which is that the protesters are hurling what you're calling petrol bombs, the Molotov cocktails, and the police are now moving or charging, and they are firing tear gas. Go ahead.

COREN: OK, yes. That's right. And you can see dozens and dozens of riot police moving in. The protesters, Brad, if I can just move our camera, several hundred meters away. And this is the game of cat and mouse that is continuing, continuing playing out on the streets of Hong Kong. It really is just quite extraordinary. One of the largest financial centers in the world has been reduced to this.

CAMEROTA: Anna, obviously, this is a dangerous and really nerve- racking situation, because as, I think you've reported, the police have threatened to use live rounds if necessary in terms of crowd control.


So you just don't know what's going to unfold next.

COREN: Yes, absolutely. They've been firing rubber bullets, but over the weekend, and again, the police reiterated today during their daily news conference that they would use live rounds against protesters.

We know that police have shot at protesters. They have fought at protesters when they felt that their life has been threatened.

Well, police are now saying that they will -- they will shoot protesters if they are the target of attacks and that is what protesters have been doing.

This is how they express themselves. This is how they fight back. They hurl these petrol bombs, and look, we were up on the campus yesterday, Alisyn, with these university students who had stockpiled petrol bombs, who had stockpiled the bricks. They had smashed up the bricks.

They were putting these bricks and petrol bombs in catapults and then firing them at the police below the university.

One of the police officers was hit with a bow and arrow. And we saw plenty of archers on that roof talk who said that this is the way that they are defending their university.

As far as they are concerned, Alisyn, these people consider themselves at war with the Hong Kong Police, and this is which -- you know, it begs the question, what is the off ramp? What is the end game for the protesters and for the police in that matter?

This has been going on for almost six months and every single weekend and now daily on the streets. These protests, these violent clashes are taking place.

BERMAN: And Anna, these are pro-democracy protesters, which begs the question, what has been the U.S. response to what they're seeing on the streets overnight?

COREN: We're just going to move out, John because it looks like the riot police have moved. They might head down to where the protesters are, but your question in relation to the pro-democracy. These people who want democracy, many of them are young, John. They've only ever lived under -- under the one country, two systems policy, and they feel that China is encroaching on their civil liberties.

And they have told me that they would rather die than live under China and in their eyes, even though Hong Kong is supposed to be handed back to Mainland China in 2047, these kids do not identify as being Chinese. They see themselves as Hong Kongers and they are wanting to preserve their way of life, so much so that they are willing to take to the streets and and risk their lives.

It really is quite extraordinary and they don't feel that the government is listening. That is their major, major frustration -- John.

CAMEROTA: And do they feel that the U.S. government is listening and watching?

COREN: Sorry, I was calling you Christiane. The U.S. government, they've obviously appealed time and time again. More. Okay, these are the raptors here who are coming now. Down the street. These are the ones who actually arrest, make arrest and there are protesters just here.

The U.S. government, Alisyn, they have time and time again appealed to the U.S. government, and obviously the Human Rights and Democracy Act that has been passed by the House of Representatives, it is waiting to be passed by the Senate will be heard from President Trump. He said he may not allow it to go ahead.

Now for the people here in Hong Kong, for the people who are taking to the streets, for the people fighting for democracy, they feel like that is just a huge slap in the face. They feel that America is the last bastion when it comes to democracy and fighting for democracy and the freedom of speech.

So really, if that act is not passed, then who is going to help these protesters? That is the question -- Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: Anna Coren, thank you very much for being on the ground there for us. We wouldn't be able to see this without your reporting. Please stay safe. Obviously, we will keep tabs on you and come back as warranted.

BERMAN: And noting here, you know, those protesters waiting for some kind of voice of support from the United States, it has not come and does not appear to be coming as long as the trade negotiations are going on.

CAMEROTA: NEW DAY will be right back.



CAMEROTA: Pete Buttigieg is now the front runner in Iowa. This is according to a new CNN Des Moines Register Poll of likely Democratic caucus goers. You can see he is at 25 percent to Elizabeth Warren's 16, Joe Biden's 15, Bernie Sanders 15.

Let's bring in CNN Political Correspondent, Abby Phillip and CNN political analyst, Jonathan Martin. He is a "New York Times" national political correspondent. So Abby, you just spent time with Mayor Pete. So what's he doing that has allowed him to leapfrog the pack?

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, he has done a couple of things in the last couple of weeks and months, since the last poll that I think you're seeing in these numbers. The first thing has been really to tack very much to the center, trying to draw contrast between him and Elizabeth Warren. He has done that really aggressively on the issue of Medicare-for-All and I believe you're starting to see some of that show up in the polls.

You're seeing Iowans saying that they think ideologically, Buttigieg is where they want the nominee to be and then secondly, what he has done is really invested a lot of time on the ground courting some of the places in Iowa in particular, that maybe President Obama won, and that Hillary Clinton lost in the last election, trying to say to moderate voters, potentially even some Republican voters, that he is going after their votes.


PHILLIP: So I think you're seeing a combination of efforts here. And for him, the biggest jump in the polls for a candidate in this race has come in part because he has been really talking to the center.

And weirdly enough, going after some liberal voters who are interested in Elizabeth Warren, but maybe are worried that how left she is, is a problem for her electability.

BERMAN: And Jonathan, this dovetails substantially with a lot of the reporting that you've been doing over the last few weeks. Deval Patrick's entrance into the race, what it shows is that there are people who see what was supposed to be Joe Biden's place in this race, the king of the middle is shaky and they see that there is room there.

JONATHAN MARTIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: That's exactly right, and the folks in Iowa have had 10 months of exposure, John to these candidates and a chance to really see them up close and they have made a judgment that Pete is somebody who is impressive and as is standing above the field.

I would also add by the way that he has a very large TV buy on the air and Iowa and even in this sort of era of everybody living on their phones - that still does have some impact.

When you're on the air now, I think, straight for a couple of months because of the kind of buy he has had that does help him out. But the larger issue though, John, to your point is you've got half the party is moderate to conservative. Every poll shows that. They're looking for a candidate, someone of them are sitting on Biden, but lots of them are looking for other options. And Pete is stepping up and for now, at least, playing that role.

CAMEROTA: And then there's the other possible wild card of Mike Bloomberg who would also be in that same lane, Abby. So he, over the weekend, former New York City Mayor he talked about how he basically in hindsight regrets ...


CAMEROTA: ... the stop and frisk ...

BERMAN: All of a sudden.

CAMEROTA: ... policy as he prepares to, I guess, announce whether this is going to be for real.

PHILLIP: Yes. And I think it's going to be a major question for him whether people buy it. I mean, very recently, Mike Bloomberg was defending stop and frisk. And, you know, I would really draw contrast between how black voters interpret stop and frisk as a policy versus some of the other policy discussions that are happening about criminal justice reform. Stop and frisk is so clearly something that African-Americans view as

a discriminatory policy. It is not something that you have to explain to voters. They get it, they understand its origins, and they understand who was really the face of it, and that would be Mike Bloomberg.

So he has a lot more to do other than just saying all of a sudden, I'm sorry about this. And I woke up this morning, realizing now that I was wrong, because this is something that is sort of a textbook -- for black voters' textbook discriminatory policy. And if he wants to go past, you know, the early part of this nominating process and win the Democratic voters at large, there's no way that he or anybody else really can do that without the strong support of black voters.

BERMAN: Jon, we've got about 15 seconds left, again, he is skipping Iowa and New Hampshire. So there's a play for some of the southern states where he's going to be running?

MARTIN: I think it's going to be a huge challenge in the south for him. But I think John, he has got more than one challenge. It's going to be hard for him getting in this late with the kind of background he has.

BERMAN: He has $50 billion to face the multiple challenges.

CAMEROTA: And to make him feel better.

BERMAN: And that, too.


BERMAN: Jonathan and Abby, thank you very much. So one of the lingering questions from the Ukraine investigation, what was driving the so-called shadow foreign policy being led by the President's personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani? CNN follows the money, next.