Return to Transcripts main page


Trump's Former Top Russia Aide Shatters GOP Conspiracy Theories on Ukraine; Dem Sources: Impeachment Vote Could Happen By Christmas; Dems Sources: Impeachment Vote Could Happen By Christmas; Hill Rebukes GOP For Believing "Fictional Narrative" That Ukraine, Not Russia, Interfered In 2016 Elections; Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE) Discuss About The Republicans' Reaction On The Public Hearing; Impeachment Witnesses Fight Back Against GOP Attacks; Diplomat Testifies Sondland Said "Every Time Rudy Gets Involved He Goes And F***S Everything Up"; Holmes: Sondland Told Me Trump Only Cared About "Big Stuff" That Benefits Him, Like The Biden Probe. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired November 21, 2019 - 19:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: ... wrongdoing. He describes the charges as an attempted coup. He insists he will not resign. Thanks for watching. Erin Burnett OUTFRONT starts right now.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next breaking news, Democrats moving full speed ahead with the impeachment of President Trump as a key witness today destroys the President's conspiracy theory. Plus, where is John Bolton? New testimony points to the former National Security Advisor as an essential witness. When will he talk? And the GOP talking points shattered. Let's go out front.

And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett. OUTFRONT tonight breaking news, House Democrats full steam ahead. They are moving to the next step in the impeachment of President Donald J. Trump. Sources telling CNN a vote could come within weeks. This comes after the most contentious hearings yet today.

National Security official, Fiona Hill, slamming one of President Trump's favorite conspiracy theories which is that it was Ukraine and not Russia which interfered in the 2016 election to help Democrats.


FIONA HILL, PRESIDENT TRUMP'S FORMER TOP RUSSIA ADVISER: Based on questions and statements I've heard, some of you on this committee appear to believe that Russia and its security services did not conduct a campaign against our country and that perhaps somehow for some reason Ukraine did. This is a fictional narrative that is being perpetrated and propagated by the Russian security services themselves.


BURNETT: A fictional narrative and she's not trying to be subtle. She's saying anyone who pushes those conspiracy theories is an unwitting Russian agent helping Putin. Hill also attacking Trump's efforts to pressure Ukraine to investigate the Bidens, here's how she described her conversation with Gordon Sondland, President Trump's Ambassador to the EU about the investigations.


HILL: He was being involved in a domestic political errand. And I did say to him, Ambassador Sondland, "Gordon, I think this is all going to blow up." And here we are.


BURNETT: A domestic political errand. Seven public hearings, 12 witnesses over the past two weeks, including David Holmes, a State Department staffer in Ukraine who also took the stand today and detailed his conversation with Sondland.


DAVID HOLMES, COUNSELOR FOR POLITICAL AFFAIRS, U.S. EMBASSY IN UKRAINE: Ambassador Sondland agreed that the President did not give an expletive about Ukraine. I asked, "Why not?" Ambassador Sondland stated that the President only cares about big stuff, big stuff that benefits the President like the Biden investigation that Mr. Giuliani was pushing.


BURNETT: And that was just the start of a crucial day in the impeachment investigation. Alex Marquardt is out front with more.


ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT(voice-over): Scathing testimony today, David Holmes and Dr. Fiona Hill laying out firsthand accounts of the political demands that the President was making of the Ukrainians in order for them to get a White House meeting and eventually military aid.


HILL: It became very clear that the White House meeting itself was being predicated on other issues.


MARQUARDT(voice-over): Hill who grew up in England and is the White House's former top Russia expert also chastising Republicans for pushing a conspiracy theory that it was Ukraine that meddled in the 2016 election.


HILL: I refused to be part of an effort to legitimize an alternate narrative that the Ukrainian government is a U.S. adversary and the Ukraine, not Russia, attacked us in 2016.


MARQUARDT(voice-over): Hill said that she had several testy encounters with the U.S. Ambassador to the European Union, Gordon Sondland, as he pushed for Ukraine to agree to the President's investigations. Then, she said, she realized there were two competing Ukraine policies.


HILL: ... because he was being involved in a domestic political errand. And we were being involved in National Security foreign policy and those two things had just diverged. And I did say to him, Ambassador Sondland, "Gordon, I think this is all going to blow up." And here we are.


MARQUARDT(voice-over): Hill wasn't the only one. Her then boss, John Bolton, told her that the errand that Sondland was working on was a drug deal.


HILL: And Ambassador Bolton had looked pained, basically indicated with body language that there was nothing much that we could do about it. And he then, in the course of that discussion, said that Rudy Giuliani was a hand grenade that was going to blow everyone up.


MARQUARDT(voice-over): On July 26 at a restaurant in Kiev, someone called Trump on an unsecured cell phone to tell him that the Ukrainians were agreeing to investigations. Across from him at the table was David Holmes from the U.S. Embassy in Kiev.


HOLMES: I've never seen anything like this in my foreign service career. Someone at a lunch in a restaurant making a call on a cell phone to the President of the United States. Being able to hear his voice, it's very distinctive personality.


MARQUARDT(voice-over): Holmes describe how Sondland held the phone away from his ear, because the President was speaking so loudly.


HOLMES: Ambassador Sondland replied, "Yes, he was in Ukraine." And went on to state that President Zelensky 'loves your ass'. I then heard President Trump asked, "So he's going to do the investigation?" Ambassador Sondland replied that he's going to do it. Adding that President Zelensky will do anything he asked him to do.



MARQUARDT(voice-over): Zelensky was being asked by Trump via Sondland to investigate the energy company, Burisma, which Hunter Biden had been on the Board of and which had become a nickname for the investigation into the Bidens. Throughout Sondland's testimony, he claimed he hadn't been aware that Burisma meant the Bidens. Dr. Hill said that's impossible.


HILL: It is not credible to me that he was oblivious. He did not say Bidens, however, he just said Burisma. He said 2016 and I took it to meant the elections as well as Burisma.


MARQUARDT: President Trump's negative attitude towards Ukraine was unique, according to Fiona Hill. She said today that there were lots of officials from countries all around the world who have said offensive things about the President. But that did not impact his feelings towards those countries. It didn't affect his meetings with them or the aid that the U.S. gave them.

Fiona Hill and others have said that Trump believed that Ukraine tried to take me down, so that conspiracy theory about that 2016 election was central to the President's attitude towards Ukraine, Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Alex, thank you very much. And, of course, to Fiona Hill's point, now Gordon Sondland says, of course, Burisma meant the Bidens. That's obvious now.

OUTFRONT tonight, Democratic Senator Chris Coons. He sits on the Judiciary Committee in the Senate. And good to have you with me, sir. So White House officials telling CNN tonight that at this point, they don't believe there's enough evidence to convince Senate Republicans to remove Trump from office. That, of course, is what you and the Senate are going to have to vote whether to do or not.

Have you talked to any of your Republican Senate colleagues today? What have they told you?

SEN. CHRIS COONS (D-DE): I have a number of friends in the Republican caucus in the Senate and when I tried to bring up the subject of the testimony of this week, the striking developments in the House all of them have either changed the subject or simply said they'd really rather not talk about it.

It is a very difficult, sensitive subject and one where frankly it's been quite difficult to get anyone to concede that President's defense stands in tatters after this week's testimony in the House.

BURNETT: Obviously, right, it had been that there was no quid pro quo and then it was that there was hearsay that there was one. Obviously, both of those points now have been shown to be false. But to your point about how your colleagues and I know these are people you know well, they're friends, they're people you respect.

I want to play something Chairman Schiff said in his closing remarks today. He was comparing Trump to Nixon, and he was saying what Trump did is beyond anything Nixon did. And then he went on to say this, Senator.


REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): The difference between then and now is not the difference between Nixon and Trump. It's the difference between that Congress and this one. Where are the people who are willing to go beyond their party to look to their duty?


BURNETT: Senator, do you think those people exist?

COONS: Well, that's what I hope my Republican colleagues will be reflecting on over this Thanksgiving break is how in our nation's history back in 1974, it was Republican senators like Howard Baker of Tennessee who put country over party. And having heard the kind of evidence against President Nixon that I think has now been presented against President Trump, went to him and said, "You really should rethink whether you can survive a trial in the Senate."

I don't see any movement like that among my Republican colleagues now. It's entirely possible they are having private conversations, given the really devastating testimony this week in the House. But there's nothing that I've heard that suggests that sort of a change in heart or spirit in the other caucus this week.

BURNETT: Now, obviously, there are some at the center of this who have not yet spoken.

COONS: Correct.

BURNETT: We've heard now from the President's mouth to Mr. Holmes' ears, Gordon Sondland admitted. We've heard it all. But we haven't yet heard from John Bolton, the former National Security Advisor who was at the center of the testimony today.

COONS: Right.

BURNETT: So what do think should happen here when it comes to Bolton to the Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, to the Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney? Should the House try to get them to testify or do you think it's time for them to drop the articles of impeachment vote, send it to you all for you all to possibly have those interviews?

COONS: I think they should make every effort possible to demand testimony from a number of the most senior figures in the Trump administration who've been directly implicated. Ambassador Gordon Sondland's testimony yesterday was striking, was very clear that this was not just one phone call from President Trump to President Zelensky. This was an organized, coordinated campaign to serve the domestic political benefits of President Trump against his strongest domestic political opponent, former Vice President Biden.

Something that was, as Dr. Fiona Hill put it, a domestic errand that put our National Security at risk. I do think they should make every effort to secure that testimony, but if they don't succeed, they need to proceed.

BURNETT: Even if it takes this into the new year in the House?


I mean, do you think time ...

COONS: No. I think ...

BURNETT: ... yes, go ahead, I'm sorry.

COONS: ... I think the time has virtually run out. They should make one more serious effort. But it's clear the President and his senior advisors so far have blocked all testimony by those who were in the room other than Gordon Sondland. And frankly, they should give them one more chance and move on.

BURNETT: So do you think Senate Democrats will be able to stop Republicans when this comes to you from, of course, Republicans being the majority in the Senate just to make that clear to everybody. Would you be able to stop them from calling witnesses that Chairman Schiff blocked like Hunter Biden or could we see Hunter Biden testifying in a Senate trial?

COONS: It's entirely possible that rules for the conduct of the trial in the Senate will be passed by a bear majority. I hope not. Ultimately, during the Clinton impeachment, Republicans and Democrats were able to come to agreement about witnesses and where and how they testified and so forth.

I do think it would be a complete farce to bring Hunter Biden in front of the Senate. The theory under which that advance has been dismissed and disproven by every journalistic outlet that's investigated it, that's serious. And that's just another conspiracy theory of the sort that Dr. Fiona Hill today was dismissing in her testimony. So I hope they won't come to that, but it's entirely possible.

BURNETT: All right. Well, Senator Coons, I appreciate your time. Thank you very much, sir.

COONS: Thank you, Erin. Good to be with you.

BURNETT: And next damaging testimony about the President's personal attorney.


HOLMES: Every time Rudy gets involved, he goes and effs everything up.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BURNETT: So why hasn't Trump turned on Giuliani yet like he has so

many others? Plus, impeachment witnesses, one after the other knocking down some of the main Republican talking points that we have heard day after day.



GORDON SONDLAND, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE EUROPEAN UNION: Was there a quid pro quo? The answer is yes.


BURNETT: The two weeks of public hearings move the needle on public opinion. We're on a crucial swing state night to find out.



BURNETT: Tonight, President Trump's former Russia Advisor and State Department official fighting back against GOP attacks on the impeachment hearings and their credibility.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've been in war and I studied war, and coups create division. And it's time for this phase of the publicly announced and proclaimed Democrat coup to end.

HILL: I think all of us who came here under a legal obligation also felt we had a moral obligation to do so.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you articulate that in the future when you're privileged to certain circumstances that that would be embarrassing to the principle that if it's official that you share with the ambassador, that's fine, but the folks outside the embassy are folks within the embassy that don't have a need to know.

HOLMES: Sir, I think it was Gordon Sondland who showed indiscretion by having that conversation over (inaudible) ...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, no, you - you're - well ...

HOLMES: ... that's the first thing. The second thing is ...


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Excuse me, Mr. Holmes, let me clarify the question.


HOLMES: Sir, I shared the information I need to share with the right people who needed to know it.


BURNETT: Ready to fight in their own very distinct ways. Out front now former Assistant FBI Director and Republican State Senator in Nevada, Greg Brower, Tim Naftali, who was the Director of the Nixon Presidential Library, CNN Chief Political Analyst Gloria Borger and former Federal Prosecutor, Laura Coates.

So Greg, the witnesses today were ready to fight, OK, and as I've said in completely different ways. Their personalities could not have been more different, but they were not having any of it and they were ready to brawl. How did this play for Republicans?

GREG BROWER, FORMER FBI ASSISTANT DIRECTOR: Well, it made it very difficult for Republicans because as you say both of the witnesses were ready. They were very impressive. They weren't going to put up with anything and especially Ms. Hill was just as close to a perfect witnesses, I think you could see in that setting.

And I think that did put Republicans back on their heels. It didn't stop all of them from trying to take on these witnesses, but I think it fell flat. And the witnesses really carried the day today and not just in terms of the way they conduct themselves, but the substance of their testimony was compelling and important.

BURNETT: Yes. And both obviously very credible people. Their honesty and commitment read through. Laura, in many ways though Fiona Hill was an assassin, the kind of person who sneaks in stealthily in the night you don't hear and then boom. It ends two weeks of public impeachment hearings. What do you think of Fiona Hill and David Holmes as the two to end this?

LAURA COATES, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Well, I thought it was very poignant, because remember one of the biggest things that Republicans who have given pushback the entire impeachment inquiry is about the idea of this is all hearsay, no one's heard anything, no one's been able to actually hear from the pejorative horse's mouth, essentially. Well, here you have two people who address the issue, Dr. Fiona Hill addressing very explicitly. You've talked about hearsay, I heard it with my own ears, I've talked to the players involved. Here is how it was surmised from actual observation and actual hearing and other use of my senses.

You had Mr. Holmes talking about the idea of what he actually heard over the phone and the idea of what the President's true motivations were. And so in that way, they were able to undermine any notion that's unknown to anyone what the President was thinking.

And they also both addressed a point that was very obviously a flaw in the prior testimony of Ambassador Sondland and, of course also of Kurt Volker which is this idea of oblivion. That either them were totally oblivious to be able to connect the dots between Burisma and Biden, what the intentions were, both came out to say, "Listen, it's just not plausible that they'd be oblivious." BURNETT: Right. Right. And, of course, now Gloria you have Gordon

Sondland trying to say, "Well, I didn't know them." But now, of course, it's blatantly obvious. I don't know why he didn't know them, but I want to make it clear it's pretty obvious now, really trying to walk a pretty tough line to walk.

According David Holmes, Sondland though was quite explicit about Rudy Giuliani, who is at the core of all of this and his work in Ukraine.


Here he is, Gloria.


HOLMES: ... one point during a preliminary meeting of the inaugural delegation, someone wondered aloud why Mr. Giuliani was so active in the media with respect to Ukraine. My recollection is that Ambassador Sondland stated, "Damn it, Rudy, every time Rudy gets involved, he goes and effs everything up."


BURNETT: Every witness it seems, Gloria, has pointed the finger at Rudy Giuliani. And yet Trump has not yet thrown him under the bus, why?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. Yes. That's the key words there. I think at this point maybe Trump needs a fall guy. Rudy Giuliani is the fall guy here. He's the guy who was meddling in everything. Everybody who testified seemed to make it very clear that Rudy Giuliani was doing this at the direction of the President of the United States. I think Gordon Sondland said that, what, 20 times yesterday, at the direction of the President.

So it's clear Rudy Giuliani wasn't freelancing, but maybe the President feels that he needs him right now. The Republicans are clearly ready to throw him under the bus. There's no doubt about that. And it could still happen at a certain point. But for now, I think, in the back of the President's mind is surely what happened when he threw Michael Cohen under the bus which is that Michael Cohen flipped on him if you'll recall.

BURNETT: He did. Of course, Michael Cohen is serving a prison sentence right now.

BORGER: Yes, he is.

BURNETT: I mean, Tim, why hasn't the President yet, as Gloria says, that being the operative three letter word turn on Rudy Giuliani? Is there something Rudy Giuliani may know?

TIM NAFTALI, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Well, one never knows whether there's an element of blackmail, but there's something else here. The President would have to admit error. The President so far has said the transcript is perfect. The call was perfect. The policy was perfect. There was never a question.

BURNETT: And so you can't throw the guy under the bus who was implementing this perfect policy.

NAFTALI: Exactly. So I think the problem is the President is in a box.


NAFTALI: One of the things that I found striking was that Dr. Hill and David Holmes gave us a seminar in U.S. policy towards Ukraine. A powerful statement. And every member of the Republican caucus agreed with that policy that they were describing.

So it's very hard to make the argument that this was a dispute over policy. Every member of the Republican side agreed it was a bipartisan commitment to helping Ukrainians fight the Russians. And yet the President's policy was completely different and this is the dissonance. This is the contradiction they have to work through.

BURNETT: Oh, is that you, Gloria?



BORGER: Well, Fiona Hill described it perfectly. She was kind of dismissive of what Rudy Giuliani and Gordon Sondland were doing. She called it a domestic political errand. An errand.

BURNETT: And that's why I say that's like the assassin. I mean, there was just something that was just cutting, yes.

BORGER: That was it. Right, it was an errand and what she and everybody else on the National Security team and the diplomatic team led by John Bolton were actually trying to conduct National Security policy. And she made the point very clearly dismissing the conspiracy theories that the Russians are the bad guys here and the Ukrainians are the good guys. They're on our side.

And if you buy into these conspiracy theories, you're buying into Russian doublespeak, which is exactly what they want you to do.

BURNETT: I mean, Greg, that was the other thing. She essentially did.


BURNETT: She said anybody who's buying into this is putting forth what the Russian state security services want.

BROWER: Exactly.

BURNETT: I mean, it was a pretty clear, again, in Fiona Hill's language, she was calling them all unwitting assets of Putin. BROWER: It was very gratifying to hear Dr. Hill say that, because I

will tell you from the perspective of someone who was formerly with - as part of the Intelligence Community and has been part of many briefings of Members of Congress, including the Republicans where these issues would come up and members of the IC would beat them back and explain why that's not true and that's just a half baked conspiracy theory.

It was gratifying to see somebody publicly actually say that, whether it resonated with those Republicans who cling to these theories, I don't know, but it was right on.

BURNETT: Right. And, of course, there's Devin Nunes trying to still say, "Oh, well, someone else could have interfered." I mean, he certainly wasn't giving up. All right. All of you stay with me, please. Because after 72 hours of public testimony, witness after witness has now pointed the finger directly at the - well, the hearsay argument is gone, right? It's all now directly at President Trump.


SONDLAND: At the express direction of the President of the United States.

DAVID HALE, UNDER SECRETARY OF STATE: The President had so directed through the Acting Chief of Staff.


BURNETT: Plus, President Trump and a major ally using the same playbook tonight.



BURNETT: Tonight, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff wrapping up this history making days of testimony.


SCHIFF: In my view, there is nothing more dangerous than an unethical president who believes they are above the law. And I would just say to people watching here at home and around the world in the words of my great colleague, we are better than that, adjourned.


BURNETT: Schiff invoking the late Democratic Congressman Elijah Cummings and everyone is back with me. So Laura, what was the biggest revelation for you in the hearings over the past three days?

COATES: Well, the biggest revelation essentially was that there in fact was the quid pro quo. Now, it's an interesting revelation, of course. We knew that this was the expected fact pattern, but to actually hear it through the televised hearings was the most important aspect of it.


Because remember, you have to get the public support behind the discussions about the impeachment.

But what was actually extraordinarily riveting about it was that it came from one of, essentially, someone who still works in the administration, Gordon Sondland, the ambassador to the European Union, who is at center of this controversy and here he is saying, hold on, for anyone who does not believe that everyone was in the loop, I'm here to tell you, everyone knew about it. He implicated a name, people like Pompeo, like Bolton, like Mick Mulvaney, like Vice President Mike Pence, as well, and it left the question out there, which was if all of these people had first-hand information and knew something about it why haven't we heard from them?

And it's the argument that the GOP members who have been decidedly against the impeachment inquiry that it reveals their Achilles heel, which is, you can't have it both ways. You can't demand information and have one source of that information and refuse to provide that source.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: Right. Which, of course, since they've been balking on all of that testimony.

So as Laura says, Tim, the quid pro quo, another thing we heard loud and clear this week from witness after witness was that this quid pro quo came at the direction of President Donald J. Trump. Here they are.


GORDON SONDLAND, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE EUROPEAN UNION: At the express direction of the president of the United States.

DAVID HALE, UNDER SECRETARY OF STATE FOR POLITICAL AFFAIRS: The president had so directed through the chief of staff -- acting chief of staff.

LAURA COOPER, DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF DEFENSE FOR RUSSIA, UKRAINE: I heard that the president had directed the Office of Management and Budget to hold the funds.


BURNETT: And taking away any attempts to say that these witnesses hadn't heard it from the president themselves, right? Because obviously, they were -- they were getting it clear that this was from the president, but they didn't necessarily hear it from his mouth, well, was there this today.


DAVID HOLMES, COUNSELOR FOR POLITICAL AFFAIRS, U.S. EMBASSAY IN UKRAINE: I could hear the president's voice through the earpiece of the phone. The president's voice was loud and recognizable. I heard President Trump asked, so he's going to do the investigation?


TIM NAFTALI, FORMER DIRECTOR, NIXON PRESIDENTIAL LIBRARY: An impeachment is about the actions of the president. It is essential to be able to prove the president's responsibility for the misconduct. All of those witnesses in various ways created a pattern that is evidence of president's responsibility for suspending the security aid and for demanding investigations if he was even going to meet with president Zelensky.

That's at the heart of any impeachment inquiry. There is a week -- there is a real ambiguity in our wonderful Constitution. We give the house the role of the impeacher, but no one says anything about what the executive is going to do if the House impeaches the executive, the chief executive. It's almost assumed that the chief executive will somehow cooperate and give the House what it needs to render judgment.

BURNETT: Obviously not, right.

NAFTALI: It's impractical and it's really naive. So, this has been tested before. Nixon tested it with his stonewall approach. There is no incentive for the chief executive, the president, to help impeach himself.


NAFTALI: And what they are doing, what the White House has done is they've kept away as best they can from the House --

BURNETT: No State Department documents, no Mulvaney, no Bolton, no Pompeo.

NAFTALI: The people who could prove beyond a reasonable doubt, which you don't actually need, this is a not a criminal case, could prove that President Trump is the reason why the hold was placed on security.

BURNETT: So you have, Greg, here, you have the what, the quid pro quo, you have the who, the president of the United States. You also have the why. They laid out the why. Let me play that.


DAN GOLDMAN, COUNSEL FOR HOUSE DEMOCRETS: President Trump demanded a favor of President Zelensky to conduct investigations that both of you acknowledge were for president Trump's political interest, not the national interest and in return for his promise of a much-desired White House meeting for President Zelensky.

Colonel Vindman is that an accurate summary of the excerpts that we just looked at?



DAVID HOLMES, COUNSELOR FOR POLITICAL AFFAIRS, U.S. EMBASSAY IN UKRAINE: Ambassador Sondland stated that the president only cares about big stuff. I noted there was big stuff going on in Ukraine like a war with Russia, and Ambassador Sondland replied that he meant big stuff that benefits the president like the Biden investigation that Mr. Giuliani was pushing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who would benefit from an investigation from the Bidens?

SONDLAND: I assume President Trump would benefit.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There we have it! See?


GREG BROWER, FORMER FBI ASSISTANT DIRECTOR, OFFICE OF CONGRESSIONAL AFFAIRS: Erin, I think it's clear that we all know what happened here, right? There was this effort at shaking down the Ukrainians in order to get something of personal value, namely dirt, if you will, on a political rival.

I respect the fact that if Republicans want to acknowledge that's what happened and yet decide in their minds and in their hearts that it doesn't warrant impeachment, people may disagree about that, but I think would be a respectable position to take.


But we haven't heard yet one Republican even acknowledged the facts that were so clearly and plainly laid out in these hearings. This did happen.

BURNETT: Right. I mean, Gloria, that is the thing. We know what happened and we know at whose direction it happened and we know why this person did it.


BURNETT: Those are all facts at this point.

BORGER: Right. And we know -- remember, Republicans at the beginning said we know it's all hearsay. We know it's not hearsay and we also know it's not just about that phone call anymore. We know that when you scratch the surface and when you dig a little bit, as the committee did this week, that this was about an effort to clearly subvert American foreign policy by a United States president and his emissaries for his own political purpose, period, end of paragraph, end of story.

BURNETT: All right. All of you, thank you very much.

And next, witnesses this next week have destroyed GOP talking points, right, about hearsay and who did this. So, what is the GOP's next move?

Plus, the road to the White House runs through Pennsylvania. So, voters there think of this week's hearings?


BURNETT: Tonight, fictional narrative. President Trump's top Russia aide Fiona Hill, accusing Republicans of emboldening Putin by pushing the line that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 election against Trump.



HILL: Based on questions and statements I've heard, some of you on this committee appear to believe that Russia and its security services did not conduct campaign against our country and that perhaps somehow, for some reason, Ukraine did.

This is a fictional narrative that is being perpetrated and propagated by the Russian security services themselves.


BURNETT: Of course, Trump's own former homeland security adviser Tom Bossert said very publicly that he agrees that narrative is fiction and he said it on ABC with George Stephanopoulos and that Hill, along with others this week, took down Trump's defense points in the impeachment inquiry essentially one after the other.



SONDLAND: There was a quid pro quo? The answer is yes.

REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): The call summary is still the most important piece of evidence we have, and it shows no pressure.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): So, you're acknowledging, I think, Mr. Holmes, are you not that Ukraine very much felt pressured to undertake these investigations?

HOLMES: Yes, sir.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): It's all hearsay. You can't get a parking ticket conviction based on hearsay.

HILL: I understand that for many members, this maybe hearsay. I talk about things I heard with my own ears.

REP. JIM JORDAN (R-OH): The Ukrainians didn't know aide had been held up at the time of the phone call.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BURNETT: OK. On the last point from Jim Jordan, on the aid, Pentagon official Laura Cooper testified that hours after the president's call with Zelensky in July where he brought up that investigation of Burisma and Biden, the Ukrainian embassy asked about security assistance and the State Department said the Ukrainian embassy knew the military aid was being withheld, there were two e-mails and some whether it was a phone call or not, all of that same afternoon from Ukraine.

OUTFRONT now, Joe Lockhart, who was White House press secretary during the Clinton's impeachment hearings, and Jim Schultz, former White House counsel for President Trump.

So, Joe, I mean, point after point.


BURNETT: And those are some of the main points that they used, right? First, it was - there was no quid pro, and it was hearsay. And each of those was systematically debunked by several witnesses this week.

LOCKHART: Yes. I think the two most important things that came out today which are the most important points that, you know, some of this is just spin, but the really important things are what Holmes said that I heard the president say it, I heard it out of his mouth that he was -- that the only thing he was interested in was the investigations.

The second thing and it is the most important point is Dr. Hill saying that this was an operation, a political operation, a political errand that ran counter to U.S. policy and counter to our national security, and actually helped the Russians. That is why this is an impeachable offense.

BURNETT: Jim, what do Republicans do thou?

JIM SCHULTZ, CNN LEGAL COMMENTATOR: I disagree that it is impeachable, of course, and you had Holmes testify today that, you know, that was the only thing he heard about the phone call and nothing else, so there are some questions there.

What we know is there's been a lot of contradictory testimony among these witnesses. Sondland contradicted his own testimony yesterday. He said there was a quid pro quo and then he said the president didn't directly say there shouldn't be a quid pro quo. So, that right there creates doubt, creates, you know, conjecture and creates all kinds of issues when you're trying to prove a case in a court of law.

BURNETT: Do you think you're a lawyer, you're a good lawyer, you were special counsel at a lawyer and could you get a jury to say there was quid pro quo?

SCHULTZ: A lot of this testimony wouldn't be admissible in a court of law.

BURNETT: So you think you wouldn't be able to make this case in court?

SCHULTZ: Wouldn't able to make this case. No.

LOCKHART: Well, I mean, here's the big difference. If this was case in court, Mick Mulvaney, Mike Pompeo, Mike Pence and Rudy Giuliani would be on the stand. They wouldn't be stonewalling and we'd find out from people that were in the room with the president every day what they know. We'd see the documents. We'd see the phone records. These are being withheld by the White House.

So the court of law argument doesn't wash here.

BURNETT: And I hear you. And again, my issue here is hearing all these people, all of whom are honest people who are telling the truth as they know it, and Gordon Sondland does have his issues obviously in terms of his testimony change, but you don't need Gordon Sondland to make this point. People at the OMB said Mick Mulvaney said the president of the United States said withhold the aid. You have it from person after person after person. But why --

SCHULTZ: But you don't have anybody saying that direct evidence the president of the United States said and they heard come of his mouth.

BURNETT: OK. Now, why not let the people who are with the president every day testify, unless you're trying to hide what they have to say?

SCHULTZ: Look, this comes down to -- and also, you have executive privilege. You have all these issues quite frankly that go beyond this presidency. Presidents need to be able to communicate with their counselors and have the confidence that the rest of the world is not going to see or hear about those conversations they've had about policy decisions that they make inside the White House.

It's longstanding precedence, longstanding constitutional precedent that executive privilege -- it's alive, well and real, and it goes way beyond this president.

BURNETT: So, you have nine people all coming out saying the president of the United States did this and what they're saying he did, right, under oath.

SCHULTZ: No, they are saying (ph) president of the United States said anything. They said the president of the United States --

BURNETT: They are saying that he directed.


SCHULTZ: But did they hear him give that direction? I don't think --

BURNETT: Well, you have obviously one person hearing the president of the United States himself.


SCHULTZ: In a phone call that he only heard one thing during the phone call and that's one witness out of many and there's been no direct evidence here and there's been a lot of contradictory testimony, and that becomes --

BURNETT: So you worked with the testimony, would people hold up $391 million in aid --

SCHULTZ: There was $4 billion --

BURNETT: -- without the president of the United States? Yes, given over a decade.

SCHULTZ: Four billion dollars of aide held up, and this president held up aid to Lebanon, across the board.

BURNETT: Would you do that without the president of the United States having told you to do it?


LOCKHART: And none of those -- none of those things had to do with a personal, political project for the president? All of those things had to do with U.S. foreign policy.

And when you talk about there being no direct evidence, we were in a court of law, let me tell you where the prosecutor would close. He'd pick up that transcript of the call and say the president admitted it. He said, we want to -- if you want that, we want a favor though. That is the most direct evidence.

SCHULTZ: That's not what was said.

LOCKHART: It is what it said.

SCHULTZ: That's not what was said in that transcript.

LOCKHART: He brought up the Bidens and then --

SCHULTZ: He brought up those issues, without a doubt.

And you know what? And I think, bringing up the Biden issue is fair game, right? It's fair game --

BURNETT: Why is that fair game?

SCHULTZ: Because you have a government -- you have aid going to a government, you have a person from our country, there are tons of questions surrounding Hunter Biden's appointment to the board, whether he was qualified to be appointed to that board, if he were -- if that -- if a foreign national went on a board of one of our energy companies in this country, you bet --

BURNETT: You've answered my question which is that the facts that were presented this week if you were in Congress would not be ones that you're going to accept as facts as a Republican. You've answered that question.


SCHULTZ: No, they're dealing with facts. I don't think -- we can accept fact, but we can't come to conclusions. And there's going to be a trial for those conclusions, should he be impeached?

LOCKHART: These are -- these are all distractions designed to keep you away from the facts as we know them. We heard them --


SCHULTZ: Oh, come on. All we heard is grandstanding from you, Democrats. Schiff is comparing it to something worse than Nixon when there was actual crime. There's no - you're not seeing treason -- you're not seeing treason -- you're not seeing a bribe and you're not seeing evidence of any of those things.

LOCKHART: The argument that made the most was Ukraine meddled. Devin Nunes ran an investigation when he ran the Intel Committee. He didn't find evidence and he didn't produce evidence of Ukraine meddling.

The Senate did a bipartisan investigation led by Senator Burr, a Republican and they didn't find evidence of a Ukraine meddling. Robert Mueller --

BURNETT: Tom Bossert said that it is a complete conspiracy theory, Trump's own --


LOCKHART: Look at this from two years, it was 448 pages.

SCHULTZ: Let's put that aside and talk about just about the Biden issue, right? Let's take that off.


LOCKHART: They found nothing -- no one --

SCHULTZ: Meddling in the election issue, let's take that aside. The Biden issue was certainly fair game. If we believe that -- if a government official in this country --

BURNETT: So you want to take aside one thing that the president put at the core of this though, was CrowdStrike and Ukraine conspiracy theory.

SCHULTZ: So, let's say for a second, OK, minds can differ on whether that's legitimate ore not. You're going to have people --

BURNETT: Minds don't differ.

SCHULTZ: Devin Nunes, there are a number of people in Congress --

BURNETT: Devin Nunes' mind doesn't count on this. The intelligence community's mind is what counts on this.

SCHULTZ: Well, I don't know --

LOCKHART: You can have any opinion you want about the ethics of Biden being on this board. There was nothing, there's no evidence and every witness said the same thing. Is there any evidence that he influenced U.S. policy?

SCHULTZ: Was there an investigation done?


SCHULTZ: That's how you find things done. You have investigations and there wasn't one done here. They were asking for it.

BURNETT: You're setting up a hypothetical straw man, saying, we'll have an investigation.


SCHULTZ: It's not hypothetical.


SCHULTZ: Prosecutors every day read about things in newspaper and open investigation.

BURNETT: All right. We have to go. Hunter Biden not being qualified, true, but that's not the point.

All right. Thank you all very much.

Next, it's a state Trump barely won. Could the impeachment hearing spell trouble for the president in the 2020 or not?



BURNETT: Tonight, the House Democrats are moving closer to impeaching the president. Sources are telling CNN that there could be a vote by Christmas, but are voters on board?

We went to the key swing state of Pennsylvania to find out. Vanessa Yurkevich is OUTFRONT.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, good morning, everybody. Talking a little politics. I want to know what you think about the impeachment hearings.

VANESA YURKEVICH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The morning rush to Philadelphia with impeachment on the mind.

STEPHEN DIBONAVENTURA, PENNSYLVANIA REPUBLICAN: It's a big show and I think we're just wasting taxpayers' money.

YURKEVICH: No matter their political party, voters here in the suburbs are paying attention. From the airwaves --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It would be thrown out in any courtroom, put it that way.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nothing there there?


YURKEVICH: To the railways.

LINTON STABLES, PENNSYLVANIA DEMOCRATS: I'm totally convinced that he's committed a crime.

YURKEVICH: A narrow victory in Pennsylvania helped deliver the White House to Donald Trump in 2016. Democrats here now on offense, with strong voter turnout in local elections earlier this month, helping them score victories in three suburban Philadelphia counties.

DOUG STIRLING, WCHE RADIO HOST: Now that we are a thoroughly blue county for the first time in 150 years, that may portend trouble for the president the next year.

YURKEVICH: Jane Young and her friends have been glued to the hearings for the past two weeks.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: For opening statement, we're not talking.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's not going to happen. You invited the world's worse.

YURKEVICH: At her watch party in Delaware County, four Democrats and one independent. All believe the president has committed a crime.

ADRIAN MILLER, PENNSYLVANIA INDEPENDENT: We're talking about acceptance of law and determining what our laws are now.


MILLER: So are we going to accept that this is practiced now or we not going to accept this as practice?

CHARLOTTE HUMMEL, PENNSYLVANIA DEMOCRATS: I think we're ahead of the congressional hearings. We believed it before they walked in the room and produced the witnesses.

YURKEVICH: Across town, Alexo and Valerie Bell.

VALERIE MORGAN BELL, PENNSYLVANIA INDEPENDENT: It's not supposed to be a few people picking the leaders of the country.


YURKEVICH: Alexo, a staunch Trump supporter. His wife Valerie an independent, who is not a fan of the president.

(on camera): Have you discussed the impeachment inquiry? [19:55:03]

ALEXO BELL: I know where she stands, you know what I mean? She would like to see him get the boot, you know, and I wouldn't. So, it's kind of a moot point to even talk about it.

YURKEVICH (voice-over): While respecting each other's opinions is key to their marriage, there is no love lost on their distinct views on impeachment.

ALEXO BELL: I think the Democrats are grasping at straws wherever they can.

VALERIE MORGAN BELL: I just think you have to hold the president to a higher standard. And it doesn't look good. It doesn't have good optics.


YURKEVICH: The vast majority of voters we have spoken to here in Pennsylvania say they don't believe the president will be impeached be, thaw the 2020 election will determine his fate.

But Erin, we only found one voter here who knows who they'll be voting for, and it is a Republican who will be voting for Trump. The others, however, very much still undecided -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Vanessa, thank you very much.

And we'll be right back.


BURNETT: Days of testimony from 12 witnesses, seven hearings. By all accounts, House Democrats are not slowing down on impeachment, making President Donald J. Trump only the fourth president to face the prospect of being removed from office.

Stay with CNN for our historic coverage this evening of the hearings.

"AC360" with Anderson begins right now.