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Prince Andrew Steps Back From Royal Duties; Fiona Hill Warns GOP-Backed Conspiracy Theories Help Russian Agenda To Divide U.S.; Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Indicted On Corruption Charges. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired November 22, 2019 - 05:30   ET




JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: New questions this morning for Prince Andrew, even after he stepped back from so-called official royal duties. This follows his disastrous BBC interview where he tried to explain his relationship with Jeffrey Epstein. Signs this morning that he wanted his problems to go away -- they're certainly not.

CNN's Max Foster live in London with the very latest -- Max.

MAX FOSTER, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT, "CNN NEWSROOM WITH MAX FOSTER": You know, John, there's a general election campaign underway here in the U.K. but that isn't the story that's been dominating the newspaper front pages this week. Just take a look at the best-selling newspaper in the country again, on day six, with Prince Andrew on the cover, and that's a problem.


FOSTER (voice-over): By speaking out, Prince Andrew hoped to end speculation about him and his links to convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, but it ended up costing him his job. According to a royal source, he agreed to step back from his public duties following discussions between him and the queen, Prince Charles, and others.

In a follow-up statement, the Duke expressed sympathy for Epstein's victims and regret for his association with Epstein, both noticeably absent from his BBC interview.

EMILY MAITLIS, BBC JOURNALIST AND NEWSREADER, "NEWSNIGHT": Do you regret the whole friendship with Epstein?

PRINCE ANDREW, DUKE OF YORK: Now, still not, for the reason being is that the people that I met and the opportunities that I was given to learn either by him or because of him were actually very useful.

FOSTER (voice-over): The Duke has denied all of the allegations made by Virginia Roberts, who alleges Epstein forced her to have sex with Prince Andrew while she was underage.

PRINCE ANDREW: I have no recollection of ever meeting this lady -- none whatsoever.

MAITLIS: You don't remember meeting her?


FOSTER (voice-over): He even questioned the authenticity of this photograph of them together. He refuted Roberts' claims that he was sweating while dancing in a nightclub, saying an overdose of adrenalin after he was shot at while serving in the Falklands War made him medically unable to sweat. A medical expert has cast doubt on that claim.

PROFESSOR ASHLEY GROSSMAN, ENDOCRINE SPECIALIST: I can't readily see how someone following stress can stop sweating and then subsequently, over time, stop sweating again. That is -- if it occurs, it must be very, very rare.

FOSTER (voice-over): Prince Andrew also said that during a 2001 trip to New York he didn't stay with Epstein but, rather, with the then- British Consul General Thomas Harris. But in an interview with the "Daily Mail," Harris said he didn't recall the prince staying with him then. Buckingham Palace told CNN they wouldn't comment on the discrepancy.

One-by-one, corporate sponsors for the prince's charitable causes peeled away.

And when the story became part of the British election debate, it was clear the duke's position was becoming untenable.

JULIE ETCHINGHAM, MODERATOR, ITV DEBATE: Is the monarchy fit for purpose, Jeremy Corbyn?



FOSTER (voice-over): That was the red line for any member of the British royal family. The Duke's actions had affected the institution that he was born into.

PETER HUNT, ROYAL COMMENTATOR: This has damaged the British monarchy, make no mistake about it. It's not yet a full-blown crisis. What has been called into question is the judgment of many people, including the judgment of the queen for allowing this interview to take place.


FOSTER (voice-over): An attorney for some of Epstein's victims has asked for the prince to testify but, so far, no official request from investigators. No charges have been filed. He says he will help with appropriate law enforcement investigations if required.

(END VIDEOTAPE) FOSTER: In the meantime, the palace is in damage control, trying to carry on with work as usual while this still blows up, Alisyn, hoping it doesn't affect polling numbers, effectively, of the monarchy, which before this saga were at an all-time high.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: It's hard to see how it won't. But, Max, thank you very much for all of that reporting.

Coming up, what will Democrats do next in the impeachment process?

BERMAN: But first, this week's global energy challenge.


JOHN DEFTERIOS, CNN BUSINESS EMERGING MARKETS EDITOR AND ANCHOR: This is the world's first commercial carbon capture machine, a porous vacuum built by Climeworks to siphon carbon dioxide from this Swiss valley's ambient air. The long-term plan is to store the CO2 in underground bolsothic (ph) rock formations.

In the meantime, they found another use from the captured carbon with Coca-Cola Switzerland.

PATRICK WITTWEILER, HEAD OF SUSTAINABILITY, COCA-COLA SWITZERLAND: There is actually no difference to a common standard CO2. So the bubbles -- they are delivered from the Climeworks installation in a liquid form, then the CO2 goes then into the -- into the mixer unit. And there, the CO2 is dissolved into the product.

And it's a technology which fights against the climate change and therefore, yes, we strongly believe it makes sense.

DEFTERIOIS: John Defterios, CNN




CAMEROTA: It's been a stunning two weeks filled with testimony and mountains of evidence, so House Democrats are now strategizing on what to do next.

And joining us with a look at how this will all play out, we have CNN legal analyst Elie Honig. He is a former federal prosecutor. Elie, so great to have you walk us through this because a lot happens next.

So let's start with Adam Schiff and House Intel Committee. What do they do now?

ELIE HONIG, CNN LEGAL ANALYST, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Yes. So, Alisyn, this is how it feels to be a prosecutor at the end of a trial. You have that mountain of evidence and now you have to boil it down into a form that people can readily understand. So now the House is going to focus on what will articles of impeachment look like, and I believe they are going to start open with an article for abuse of power on Ukraine. I do not think they're going to try to narrowly confine it to bribery or extortion. They have the right to do this article of impeachment broadly and I think they're going to call it abuse of power.

Now, this will come down -- the whole Ukraine story has so many dimensions, but I think it comes down to three simple facts that we've learned during the last couple of weeks.

Number one, Trump withheld foreign aid and dangled the White House visit. Number two, he requested that Ukraine investigate his political rival. And number three, the foreign aid and the White House visit were conditioned -- connected to the political investigation.

CAMEROTA: These are the quid pro quos we've heard so much about.

HONIG: That all boils down to a quid pro quo, exactly.

CAMEROTA: OK. Then what does House Judiciary do? Do you --

HONIG: So, the Judiciary Committee is going to ultimately have to take these articles of impeachment and present them to the full House for a vote. But to break down the pieces -- so let's break it down.

First, he withheld foreign aid and dangled the White House visit. Now, we saw a lot of evidence. This is really not even disputed.

Nearly $400 million in foreign aid was withheld. The witnesses told us that was both unusual and unexplained. Also what we know for sure, it was against the United States and Ukraine's national interests.

We heard, I think, really compelling testimony from George Kent about the ongoing war -- the debts that Ukrainians were suffering and how American support in Ukraine's own de facto war of independence has been critical.

Also, we heard about how the White House visit was dangled. David Holmes, yesterday, testified about how that visit was critical to President Zelensky to show U.S. support at the highest levels in order to demonstrate to Russian President Putin that he had U.S. backing.

CAMEROTA: That's really interesting just because this wasn't just a social visit. It wasn't just because Zelensky Trump or loved his behind. It --

HONIG: They weren't just sipping tea.



CAMEROTA: This was an important strategic visit.

HONIG: Absolutely.

We also know that Donald Trump requested investigations of his political rivals. David Holmes told us about the famous or infamous restaurant conversation. I heard it through the cell phone. I heard President Trump ask, so he's going to do the investigation.

Gordon Sondland also confirmed that that conversation happened.

And, you know who else told us that Donald Trump asked for investigations? Donald Trump, himself.

Let's not forget the July 25th transcript where Donald Trump says directly to Zelensky, I would like you to find out what happened with this whole situation with Ukraine. They say CrowdStrike. That's an illusion to 2016.

And remember, Donald Trump explicitly asked for an investigation of Biden's son -- that Biden stopped the prosecution. So we have that piece.

And finally, the connectivity that the foreign aid and the White House visit were conditioned, connected, quid pro quo on political investigations. And we just saw evidence upon evidence piled up of that.

We saw -- Bill Taylor said, "It was becoming clear to me that the meeting President Zelensky wanted was conditioned on the investigation."

We heard from Vindman. "It was a demand for him to fulfill this particular prerequisite..." meaning it happened first in order to get the meeting.

Similar from Sondland. "I now recall speaking with Yermak, where I said resumption of aid would likely not occur until Ukraine provided the public anti-corruption statement."

Kurt Volker texted a quid pro quo directly to Ukraine. We heard it over and over again.

Mick Mulvaney said, "That's why we held up the money -- get over it." Not in testimony, but he said it separately.

And, of course, Donald Trump, infamously himself, said I want you to do us -- "I would like you to do us a favor."

So we have those three pieces all connected up.

CAMEROTA: Well, your closing argument is pretty effective, counselor.


So then, they'll be a House vote. That's what will happen --


CAMEROTA: -- after that. And -- I mean, the way you lay it out it should be an easy vote.

HONIG: Well, the Republicans aren't going to go away without a fight. They're going to -- they're going to -- we know, I think, what the defensives are going to be.

First of all, no quid pro. I want nothing. Look, it's after they got caught that Donald Trump said that. I mean, every defendant pleads guilty.

We're also going to see defense of secondhand information. But there's plenty of firsthand information that we saw this week.

And finally, we're going to hear the argument it was bad but not impeachable. That's just a political argument and that's going to come down to where the members of the House and Senate land politically.

CAMEROTA: Elie, thank you very much --

HONIG: Thanks, Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: -- for walking us through these important two weeks.

HONIG: All right.

CAMEROTA: Great to talk to you -- John.

BERMAN: So, Fiona Hill issued this stark warning to U.S. lawmakers. Russia is trying to undermine the election and the conspiracy theories being pushed by the president are helping Russia do that. We'll discuss, next.







HILL: I refuse 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. These fictions are harmful even if they are deployed for purely domestic political purposes.


BERMAN: That's former White House national security official Fiona Hill rejecting the Republican conspiracy theory that Ukraine, not Russia, interfered in the 2016 election, and warning that these types of baseless claims pose a growing security threat to the United States.

Joining us now is retired U.S. Navy Commander, Guy Snodgrass. He was a speechwriter for former Defense Sec. James Mattis. And his new book is called, "Holding the Line: Inside Trump's Pentagon with Secretary Mattis." Commander, great to have you on this morning.

Fiona Hill seemed to be saying to Congress and America that Russia is attacking you and you are helping them. Specifically to the Republicans, she was saying you are helping them. And her message -- her warning resonated with you. Why?

GUY SNODGRASS, (RET.) U.S. NAVY COMMANDER, FORMER SPEECHWRITER TO DEFENSE SEC. JAMES MATTIS, AUTHOR, "HOLDING THE LINE: INSIDE TRUMP'S PENTAGON WITH SECRETARY MATTIS": Well, it's an incredibly dangerous situation. Like you said, there's a lot of false narratives running around not only in our country but internationally.

I was actually with Sec. Mattis in Kiev in 2017 -- the fall of 2017 when we were visiting Ukraine for their Independence Day parade. And we meet with Ambassador Volker, we met with the embassy team.

And even two years ago we knew just how dangerous the situation was between Ukraine and Russia. There's a hot war, as we know, in the Donbass region with thousands of Ukrainians dying every year. And so these lethal defensive weapons that you've heard Dr. Hill and others testify about are incredibly important. So to have that wrapped up in this false narrative is very dangerous.

BERMAN: Right, and you're not just -- if Republicans -- and I'm not trying to drag you into a political argument here -- you, as a retired military officer. But from a foreign policy standpoint, if Republicans think they're helping the president politically, they're actually helping Vladimir Putin on the world stage. Why?

SNODGRASS: Well, when you think about -- we have this domestic situation playing out, just like we've been following for months, the impeachment inquiry and, of course, the steps that led into that previously.

But just like you mentioned, from an apolitical standpoint, from a national security standpoint, not only is America distracted, not only are we caught up in this impeachment inquiry, but when you think about our adversaries around the world -- and we're talking about Russia exclusively right now, China, North Korea, Iran, and others -- they want to take advantage of this distraction.

They want to use America's uncertainty on the world stage to their advantage and that's incredibly dangerous for our nation and for those who are allied and partnered with us.

BERMAN: So that was one of the powerful messages from Fiona Hill yesterday basically telling Congress you're blowing this, you're helping Russia.

The other message -- and this was more subtle -- and it was the effect of her presence there was, in a way, a validation of the military and foreign policy officials. The government public officials who work -- the thousands and thousands of people who are out there working for the American people every day doing what they think is best for America.

What did you see not just from her, but over the course of these two weeks in terms of these officials?

SNODGRASS: What I've seen is a recurring story, one that played out during my year and one-half in the Department of Defense with Sec. Mattis. And like I said before, it looks like, in many ways, the president has pulled his pistol out of his holster and shot himself in his foot.

You have, as you said, not only thousands overseas, you have millions here domestically -- men and women who have dedicated their careers and in many cases their lives to public service. So to not be setting your own people up for success, to be keeping them in the dark, to be running a second or third line of communication that seems to be less about national security and more about maybe more personal affairs, it's certainly very dangerous.

And like I mentioned earlier, you can't overstate the importance that that has and just how impactful that can be on our allies and partners.

BERMAN: And these people stuck their necks out by testifying before Congress in a way that could have an impact on their career. It could hurt their career. It's already certainly put them in a spotlight in a way that many of these people who I think want to work for decades in anonymity, they've lost that anonymity.

I want to read you a tweet from someone named Emerald Roberson -- Robinson, who is a White House correspondent for one American news network. And I want to warn our viewers this is repugnant, but I want to read it so people know what these people are really undergoing right now.

This person writes, "Fiona Hill, with that Prince Andrew accent, and Defense Minister Vindman from the Ukraine...I'm wondering: are any Americans going to testify against Trump?"

Fiona Hill is a career government official. Col. Vindman, a Purple Heart recipient and an American military officer.


To hear something like that -- for you, how does that make you feel?

SNODGRASS: Well, it's incredibly disappointing. Like you've mentioned, both Dr. Hill, both Lt. Col. Vindman, and the many others who have testified -- you are seeing an active ongoing campaign to step away from the facts, to step away from the truth and focus more on the politics and focus more on inciting individuals' passions, whether it's on the left or the right side of the aisle.

I think that we'll be well-served by focusing on the facts, by seeing where they lead us, and following that to its conclusion.

BERMAN: We've got about 10 seconds left. What do you think the effect of all this will be on the other thousands of military and foreign policy government officials working around the world this morning?

SNODGRASS: I think it's a continuation of what we've seen over the last few years where in this kind of administrative and political uncertainty it's much easier just to hunker down and just hope it all blows over.

BERMAN: Guy Snodgrass -- Commander, thanks for being with us this morning. Appreciate your time.

SNODGRASS: Thanks, John.

BERMAN: Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: All right, John.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejecting calls to resign after he was indicted on corruption charges in three separate cases.

CNN's Paula Newton is live in Jerusalem with more. So, what's happening, Paula?


In the words of the Israeli president, in fact, Alisyn, it's a mess and this is why the stakes could not be higher. Benjamin Netanyahu indicted on very serious charges -- charges that could, in fact, take him to prison. It's breach of trust, fraud, and most seriously, bribery.

At issue here is whether or not Netanyahu is going to step down. He has already said that he is not. But he is also defiant in saying look, these charges are politically motivated.

Take a listen.


BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER (through translator): This evening, we are witnessing a governmental coup attempt against a prime minister by false, libel, and with a tendentious and contaminated investigation process.

The time has come to investigate the investigators. It is time to investigate the prosecution that approves these contaminated investigations.


NEWTON: Investigating the investigation, witch hunt, coup -- yes, it's not your imagination. This is a playbook right out of President Trump's defenses. Right now, though, a lot at stake here in Israel because the government is still, in fact, in limbo. It's only a transitional government. Yes, Netanyahu remains the prime minister here but there really isn't going to be much resolution to the indictment or anything else.

They are still in the middle of trying to form some kind of coalition government. If that doesn't happen, it goes to elections -- elections that Netanyahu says he will run in again. There will be lots of legal challenges ahead.

But as I said, historic here in the weeks and months ahead. Never has a sitting prime minister been indicted. And the fact that it's happening when this country basically is in political paralysis, extraordinary times, John.

BERMAN: Netanyahu facing unprecedented challenges from within his own party. It will be very interesting to see how that plays out over the next few days.

Paula Newton, great to have you there. Thank you very much.

So, Fiona Hill not only owned these congressional hearings, she is also owning late-night comedy. Here are your "Late-Night Laughs."


STEPHEN COLBERT, CBS HOST, "THE LATE SHOW WITH STEPHEN COLBERT": Dr. Hill grew up in England and came into the hearing with a reputation for not suffering fools lightly. Once, a boy in her class set one of her pigtails on fire while she was taking a test. She put out the fire with her hands, then finished the test.

Oh my gosh. She is --


COLBERT: That's tough -- that is tough.

Forget Pippi Longstocking, she's Pippi Ass-Kicking.

JAMES CORDEN, CBS HOST, "THE LATE LATE SHOW WITH JAMES CORDEN": In other political news, according to a recent article, White House aides have been worried that President Trump spends too much time alone and isolated -- yes. At this point, the only friends Trump has left are his "FOX & FRIENDS."

According to the article, Trump's aides are desperately trying to come up with any solution except for the obvious one. They're like I'm worried the president is alone and isolated. They're like well, go and hang out with him. I've got that root canal I've been putting off.

Oddly, under those exact same conditions, Melania seems to be thriving.


BERMAN: You know what they could do? They could do playdates, right? That's what you do with your kids when they're not getting out. They should set up playdates for the president, right?

CAMEROTA: That's a great idea. I hope they're listening. That's a great -- yes, you're just a solution factory.

BERMAN: Sandbox?

CAMEROTA: Yes, why not?

BERMAN: Get him a sandbox. Kids love the sandbox.

CAMEROTA: All right, very good.

At the end of these monumental two weeks, what do Democrats do now? NEW DAY continues right now.


HILL: I did say to him -- Ambassador Sondland -- Gordon, I think this is all going to blow up.

DAVID HOLMES, COUNSEL FOR POLITICAL AFFAIRS AT U.S. EMBASSY IN UKRAINE: Ambassador Sondland stated that the president only cares about big stuff -- big stuff like the Biden investigation that Mr. Giuliani was pushing.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The American people understand that this has been a partisan process from the start.

HILL: We get to relate to you what we heard, what we saw, and what we did.

REP. DEVIN NUNES (R-CA): Like any good show trial, the verdict was decided before the trial.