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House Investigating Whether President Trump Lied To Robert Mueller; Hong Kong Police Say 76 Hurt, Hundreds Arrested In Violent Protests; Wisconsin Voters Torn On Impeachment And 2020 Election. Aired 5:30-6a ET
Aired November 19, 2019 - 05:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: A new round of public hearings in the House's impeachment investigation gets underway this morning. So, what will we see?
Joining us now to explain is CNN legal analyst Elie Honig. Elie, you have a lot of things that you are watching for, so just start us at the beginning. I mean, what will we see today?
ELIE HONIG, CNN LEGAL ANALYST, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR, FORMER ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL, NEW JERSEY DIVISION OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE: Yes.
CAMEROTA: How will it work?
HONIG: Alisyn, so if you thought last week was interesting with three witnesses, we've got triple that number ready to go this week -- nine witnesses heading up to Capitol Hill.
So, how will it work?
First of all, the rules are set out in House Resolution 660, which was passed in late October after Republicans complained, I think fairly, well, there's no set process. So they passed this resolution and now we know how this is going to proceed.
First, we will see opening statements by the chair, Adam Schiff from California, and the ranking member, Devin Nunes, Republican also from California. After those opening statements, the witnesses will be sworn in. That's, of course, a flashbulb sort of dramatic moment. And then, we will see opening statements from the witnesses.
We saw last week, Marie Yovanovitch, for example. Those opening statements can be pretty dramatic. She weaved in her own personal story with her own testimony.
After that opening statement, we will see an opening round of questions. Now, each side is going to get 45 minutes to ask questions. CAMEROTA: That was the same as last time, right?
HONIG: Same as last --
CAMEROTA: They get 45 minutes.
HONIG: Same as we saw last week, exactly.
And like we saw last week, most of that questioning will be done by staff attorneys. For the Democrats, Daniel Goldman, former prosecutor, former colleague of mine at the Southern District of New York. We did a murder trial together. And for the Republicans, Stephen Castor, who is an experienced congressional aide.
And I think because of that 45-minute timeframe and because you have attorneys doing it, we ended up seeing and we will see really substantive, detailed, testimony in that opening round.
Then we will be on to questioning from the committee members, including the chair and the ranking member. There are 13 Democrats and nine Republicans. Each of them will get five minutes of questioning. They can yield that -- give some of their time over to other members.
CAMEROTA: And so, who are you keeping an eye on?
HONIG: So first of all, on the Democratic side, you've got to watch Peter Welch, Democrat from Vermont. Peter Welch got off, really, the line of the hearings thus far.
Jim Jordan said I want to hear from the whistleblower. I want to hear from the guy show started it all. And, Peter Welch shot back with this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. PETER WELCH (D-VT): I'd say to my colleague I'd be glad to have the person who started it all come in and testify. President Trump is welcome to take a seat right there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: The crowd liked that one.
HONIG: That's what the kids call a sick burn.
After Peter Welch, we should also keep an eye on Terri Sewell from Alabama. She's an attorney. She asked really sharp, focused questions last week. She was honing in on Mick Mulvaney, Rudy Giuliani -- the central players here. Republican side, got to keep an eye on Jim Jordan. Look, he's the designated attack dog for the Republicans. They're seeding time to him and he's going after the witnesses.
Michael Turner's an interesting case because he's a Republican who has said what Trump did was alarming, yet he continues to defend Trump. So he's engaged in some mental gymnastics.
CAMEROTA: And will the witnesses be seated together again in a pairing?
HONIG: They will -- so like we saw last week, for the most part.
This morning, we will see Vindman and Williams together. Both worked in the White House, both listened to the July 25th call. I think more of the focus will be on Vindman this morning.
Then this afternoon we will see Kurt Volker and Tim Morrison, both of them on the Republican witness list. I'm not so sure the Republicans are going to like what they have to say but they will be sharing the table.
CAMEROTA: And is there a strategy for who sits with whom?
HONIG: Yes. I think what the Democrats have tried to do is group people together who have similar stories or stories that sort of reinforce one another.
Wednesday morning, the only witness who is solo, Gordon Sondland. I think he is going to be the most controversial, most explosive witness. I think he's solo for a reason.
Then we'll see Laura Cooper and David Hale from the Department of Defense and State.
And then Thursday morning, we will see Fiona Hill, together with newly-added to the list here, David Holmes, the State Department official who overheard that conversation in the restaurant between Trump and Sondland.
And then from there, we are into constitutional territory. Where do things go next? The House Intel Committee is going to prepare a written report.
CAMEROTA: So, wait a minute. You think that's the end of the witnesses?
HONIG: I think what they -- I think that will be mostly the end of the witnesses. One thing, though. I do think the Democrats have left a little wiggle room for other surprise witnesses.
Thursday afternoon is still open, Friday is still open. We saw David Holmes added very late, so we might see one or two more witnesses thrown in there Thursday or even Friday. CAMEROTA: But that's all that's on the schedule right now -- what you've just laid out?
HONIG: Yes, that is all the schedule.
CAMEROTA: So if that's it, then they start to do what?
HONIG: Then they do their report. The report goes over to Judiciary. Judiciary then issues recommendations for articles of impeachment to the full House. Then we see a vote from the full House of Representatives.
CAMEROTA: Hold on. How long does all of that take?
HONIG: Well, they're -- they understand they're under a serious time pressure here. They've said they want to do it by Christmas. I think they can.
I think they need to. I think they need to keep the American public sort of engaged and active and with this.
The full House then votes. According to the Constitution, it takes a majority vote of the House in order to impeach. Here's our current breakdown. We've got 233 Democrats, so they can lose 15 Democrats and still get the majority that they need in order to impeach.
CAMEROTA: Elie Honig, thank you so much. I always learn a lot from --
HONIG: Thanks, Alisyn.
CAMEROTA: -- these magic wall segments with you. I really appreciate you --
HONIG: Thank you.
CAMEROTA: -- laying all that out -- John.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: And now we've learned that House investigators might be going after a new subject -- namely, did President Trump lie to special counsel Robert Mueller? We'll tell you what we've learned overnight, next.
BERMAN: A potentially major new development in the impeachment proceedings. We have learned that House investigators are now examining whether President Trump lied in his written answers during the special counsel probe.
Joining us now is CNN legal analyst Jim Baker. He's the FBI's former general counsel. Jim, thanks so much for being with us.
And this has to do specifically with whether President Trump lied in his written answers about what he knew about WikiLeaks. And let me read you the answer that has the flashing lights surrounding it.
The president said, "I do not recall being aware during the campaign of any communications between the individuals named in question II (c) and anyone I understood to be representative of WikiLeaks or any of the other individuals or entities referred to in the question."
He's referring to Roger Stone there. We now know from testimony in the Roger Stone trial that Rick Gates testified that Roger Stone --
JIM BAKER, CNN LEGAL ANALYST, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL SECURITY AND CYBERSECURITY, R STREET INSTITUTE, FORMER GENERAL COUNSEL FOR FBI: Right.
BERMAN: -- talked to the president about WikiLeaks. And there's some other testimony to that effect as well.
Now, you've told me the issue here might be the president's wording -- 'I do not recall.' Why is it difficult to disprove that statement?
BAKER: It's difficult because you're going to have to produce evidence -- well, let me back up.
In a normal criminal case, right -- in a normal criminal case where someone's accused of perjury or obstruction of justice in this kind of a setting where they have said I do not recall, the government would have to come forward with evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that that was false and that the person, at the time, actually did recall and knew full well exactly what the facts were and then intentionally lied by saying that they did not recall.
Of course, here, we're in a different setting. We're in an impeachment setting and so the standard is, frankly, mushier. It's not exactly clear what standard the House or, if we get to a trial, the Senate is going to -- is going to follow.
But, you know, the president is going to have to lean heavily, even in this setting, on those words 'I do not recall.'
BERMAN: Because the way you fight it is by showing evidence. How could he not recall that everyone in the campaign knew that WikiLeaks was producing these documents -- everyone in the campaign? I'm using that word loosely there. Many people --
BERMAN: -- in the campaign knew that there were conversations going on, and that's why House investigators want to get the grand jury material from the Mueller investigation.
Why is that significant and what might it show? And what are the chances they'll actually get their hands on it?
BAKER: Yes. Well, it appears that Paul Manafort, who was not heard from in the -- in the Stone trial -- but Paul Manafort, the former campaign manager for the president, he appears to have testified about this exact subject as well. And so, that could be very damning evidence and could counter this notion that the president did not recall if the House can get its hands on it.
But there is in the Mueller report -- what appears to be Manafort's statements about all of this -- they're all blacked out. You can't -- you can't see exactly what it is that he said.
So it makes sense that the House would be trying to get this. And they almost -- they almost can't not do it, right, because --
BAKER: -- it was so blatant, what Mr. Gates said. It's in blatant contrast to what the president had testified.
And this goes to -- you know, what Mueller was trying to figure out at this point in time goes right to the core of the question -- that at least the president said this was all about -- which was quote-unquote "collusion" or really, conspiracy, right? What were the links between the campaign and the Russians through WikiLeaks? What did they know?
Mueller was trying to figure all that out and the president said well, I don't recall any of that.
BERMAN: Yes. And again, it's very significant whenever the House is investigating or Congress is investigating whether the President of the United States lied under oath. We know this president lies. Doing it under oath is a completely different thing.
And, Robert Mueller, in his public testimony -- one of the strange moments was when he seemed to indicate that he did not think the president was being fully truthful in these answers, which I guess gets me to where we are this morning, Jim.
And this -- some people looked at this yesterday as the president just trying to distract which, frankly, it very well might have been. But the president suggesting that he would strongly consider answering questions to the House impeachment investigators -- maybe in writing.
How seriously do you take that? And he'd obviously be exposing himself to enormous risk there.
BAKER: Yes, he would. And, you know, if he were to answer those questions and if he were to lie, and if the House could prove it in a trial in the Senate, then that might be something that would turn enough senators against the president.
So, it's perilous, I think. Any lawyers who should be advising or who are advising the president, I think they should -- you know, if they're trying to figure out how to help him, should dissuade him from doing that.
Now, that doesn't help the House, it doesn't help the Congress, and it doesn't necessarily help the country. But from his own very-narrowly viewed personal interest, the president would probably be making a mistake to fill out -- to provide written answers to the House. BERMAN: And it's also -- there's no reason to believe that he is strongly considering it based on what we went through with the Mueller investigation when he claimed he wanted to answer questions to Robert Mueller and he ultimately didn't. But we will see.
BAKER: Never did, right -- at least in person, right, yes.
BERMAN: Jim Baker, great to have you with us. Thanks so much for being with us this morning.
BAKER: Thank you.
CAMEROTA: OK, John.
Wisconsin was one of the crucial states for President Trump's election, so how do voters there feel today about the impeachment investigation? CNN went to find out and that's next.
CAMEROTA: OK, breaking overnight, police in Hong Kong say hundreds of people have been arrested while trying to escape a besieged university following days of intense clashes between pro-democracy protesters and police. Authorities say at least 76 people were injured in these protests; 10 of them critically.
CNN's Anna Coren has been in the middle of all of this. She is live in Hong Kong on the campus of the university where around 100 students are still trapped. What is the situation there, Anna?
ANNA COREN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Alisyn, you can see some of the students behind me. We've approached them. None of them want to actually go on camera.
These are students who've been here now for days. They say they will not surrender to police.
They are looking for a way out. They're talking about potentially escaping somehow -- escaping. There's others who say they're going to try and storm out collectively.
But really, Alisyn, the university campus is completely cut off. We had to come in with a media liaison officer and our crew before us had to go out. We swapped in.
And I just want to show you this campus has been absolutely trashed. This was the bomb-making factory if you like.
And you can see the flammable liquids and corrosives that have been left. There's propane gas, there's gasoline, cooking oil. There's sugar, there's acetate, lots of glass bottles. This is the bomb factory -- the weapons factory that police have described. I'm going to take you a little bit further this way and show you the campus, which when we were here on Sunday, Alisyn, was completely packed with people. Now it's dead, except for -- you know, a few protesters here, a few protesters there. There's media crews that are being allowed in, there are social workers, there are principals, there are first aid responders as well.
And you can see the graffiti. You can see how the place has just been absolutely trashed.
Now, police are calling on the remaining protesters to surrender. They say it's up to them for this to be resolved peacefully -- otherwise, they will use force. So the lawyers here on campus and the social workers here on campus are trying to persuade those students to leave peacefully and surrender, John and Alisyn.
BERMAN: Anna Coren, stay safe. You're doing terrific work over there. Please keep us posted throughout the morning.
Also this morning, the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem is warning Americans about traveling in Jerusalem, the West Bank, and Gaza. This, after the Trump administration announced a reversal of longstanding policy toward Israeli settlements in the West Bank.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declared that the U.S. no longer considers the settlements to be a violation of international law. But this is expected to stoke tension with the Palestinians and decrease substantially, if not eliminate, the likelihood of a Middle East peace agreement.
CAMEROTA: OK, we are just a few hours away from the start of public impeachment hearings. So how are swing state voters responding to this investigation of President Trump?
CNN's Miguel Marquez traveled to a county in Wisconsin that President Trump won by just 109 votes. And, Miguel joins us now. Tell us what you've learned, Miguel.
MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, look, President Obama won this place by a wide margin and it swung way back, and it was so finely divided in 2016.
If you love the president -- President Trump -- people are like they are in many places. They love him and they think that this is a witch hunt and they -- and they talk about that.
But we did run into a lot of moderates, conservatives -- people who voted for Donald Trump who are watching these hearings very closely and they are making decisions about 2020.
MARQUEZ (voice-over): Third-generation farmer Greg Lohr --
GREG LOHR, DAIRY FARMER: Every cow has a place to lay down.
MARQUEZ (voice-over): -- on the fence.
MARQUEZ (on camera): In 2020, what are you going to do?
LOHR: Still undecided.
MARQUEZ (voice-over): Dairy cows and harvesting an already-late crop a bigger worry than impeachment.
LOHR: I think they should just forget about that and just worry about the issues at hand and try to help people. I mean, they're just -- there's going to be a new election in another year, I guess.
MARQUEZ (voice-over): On impeachment, Sauk County, Wisconsin, northwest of Madison, divided as ever. Farmland and picture-postcard towns where the Ringling brothers get their start.
In 2016, candidate Trump won this rural county by 109 votes.
Doris Lohr is an Independent who supported Hillary Clinton and she dislikes the president but isn't sure there's enough to remove him from office.
DORIS LOHR, DAIRY FARMER: You know, we need to be unified. We need to be -- we're not making progress in America. We're going downhill.
MARQUEZ (voice-over): The county's divisions obvious. At a regular Democratic protest of the president, they get support as much as thumbs down, among other less-polite gestures.
Mike and Kari Walker, co-owners the Touchdown Tavern, both describe themselves as moderate conservatives. Both voted third-party in 2016. She's opposed to abortion rights but is considering a Democrat.
MARQUEZ (on camera): Can either of you see yourselves voting for a Democrat in 2020 and which one, if so?
MARQUEZ (on camera): Boy, that was a pained expression.
KARI WALKER, CO-OWNER, TOUCHDOWN TAVERN: It is pain. I will tell you, I love Andrew Yang.
MIKE WALKER, CO-OWNER, TOUCHDOWN TAVERN: Obviously, he's very smart.
K. WALKER: And he's funny.
MARQUEZ (voice-over): On impeachment, they haven't decided whether the president crossed the line.
K. WALKER: I don't think it's a witch hunt. I don't think it's a waste of taxpayer dollars. I don't -- I think we need to go through this.
MARQUEZ (voice-over): Veteran, business owner, and Independent voter Gregg Snell says he doesn't like Trump, but impeachment --
GREGG SNELL, OWNER, IT COULD BE YOURS: Well, I believe it's a pretty drastic step. Whether I like the man or not is immaterial, you know. Impeachment is -- it's pretty drastic.
MARQUEZ (voice-over): Dan Shay lives paycheck-to-paycheck. He voted for Trump. Now, so disillusioned, he's switched parties.
MARQUEZ (on camera): Where is Sauk County right now?
DAN SHAY, VOTER WHO SWITCHED PARTIES: A toss-up. He's going to have to come here and work his butt off and try to win this state back.
MARQUEZ: Now, one thing is very clear. Both parties are going to fight for Sauk County and for Wisconsin very hard in 2020.
And as for impeachment, people are paying attention, even those that support the president. People who weren't sure what to do, they are paying attention. And what is happening right now in Washington is having real effects here in places like Sauk County -- John.
BERMAN: I've got to tell you, that's really interesting, Miguel, that people are listening that carefully. That's why you have hearings. That's why you put witnesses in public so they can hear the evidence and assess it for themselves.
Great report. Really appreciate you being there for us.
So, as you saw from Miguel, the impeachment hearings may be dividing the country, but they're bringing the comedians together like never before. Here are your "Late-Night Laughs."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TREVOR NOAH, COMEDY CENTRAL HOST, "THE DAILY SHOW WITH TREVOR NOAH": There are a lot of damning details on this testimony, but my favorite part -- my favorite part was when Sondland talked about just how much the president of Ukraine was willing to help Trump.
BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC ANCHOR, HOST, "THE 11TH HOUR WITH BRIAN WILLIAMS": -- went on to state, President Zelensky loves your ass.
NOAH: Ooh, OK.
You know, they're going to have to ask him about this in the hearings. They'll be like, Mr. Sondland, does Zelensky really love Trump's ass? He'll be like, that's correct. He likes big butts and I cannot lie to Congress.
JAMES CORDEN, CBS HOST, "THE LATE LATE SHOW WITH JAMES CORDEN": In other White House news, over the weekend, President Trump hosted family, friends, and some staff for a private screening of the movie "Joker." Trump called it the feel-good hit of the year. If you don't know, there's an angry, isolated, maladjusted guy
wreaking havoc while wearing a ton of makeup and he just watched the movie "Joker."
STEPHEN COLBERT, CBS HOST, "THE LATE SHOW WITH STEPHEN COLBERT": Yovanovitch is a decorated diplomat with a 33-year career, who was ousted after a smear campaign involving Rudy Giuliani. And if there's one thing Rudy Giuliani knows it's how to destroy a reputation. So far, just his, but he burned that mother to the ground.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: Any reference to 'I like big butts and I cannot lie' is a winner.
BERMAN: You wouldn't say ass at the beginning of the show and now you're going on with big butts.
CAMEROTA: John, John, this is a family show -- please. I see --
BERMAN: I didn't realize that when you were saying big butts.
CAMEROTA: Backside or behind is what we'll be saying today.
We're three hours away from the next round of public hearings. NEW DAY's special coverage of the impeachment hearings continues now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: Four key witnesses in the impeachment inquiry will testify.