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Fiona Hill Dismantles Fictional Narrative By Republicans; Former Boston College Student Charged In Boyfriend's Suicide; Suburban Voters In Philadelphia Weigh In On Impeachment. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired November 22, 2019 - 07:30   ET



SEAN DUFFY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, (R) FORMER U.S. REPRESENTATIVE: That's what Gordon said was that he -- they presumed that it was a quid pro quo but there was no direct you give me this and they get that conversation with the president --


DUFFY: -- is what -- is what the testimony was.

CAMEROTA: That's -- you hear that from your Republican colleagues, Charlie --


CAMEROTA: -- so what's the answer to that?

DENT: It was clearly this for that. You know, you do this -- the investigation -- and then you'll get that -- the $400 million in military assistance and perhaps a White House meeting. I think it was clear.

And the fact that Gordon Sondland -- you know, he was -- you know, he was carrying the president's water on this. He was having direct communications with the president. Holmes overheard the conversation.

And if there's any -- if there's any ambiguity about what was occurring here -- well then, just simply bring in the National Security adviser Bolton or Mick Mulvaney or how about the Secretary of State, and ask them who was actually running the Ukraine policy and what was it? I mean, I think we know the answers here.


CAMEROTA: Go ahead, Sean.

DUFFY: Because I -- and I'm not arguing quid pro quos. You asked agreeable facts and I wanted to go back to Sondland's testimony.

But I do think there's two prongs to what we look at with -- because quid pro quo is not the issue. It's what was the quid pro quo about if there was one?

And, you know, we have one prong that says Donald Trump was using taxpayer money for political gain -- personal gain in the U.S. That is one prong. But you have to admit, Charlie and Alisyn, that the other prong is that we've had testimony that Burisma was corrupt, the owners of Burisma were corrupt.


DUFFY: And, Joe Biden's son worked for Burisma and made millions of dollars and had no experience in the Ukraine or in energy. And his dad, Joe Biden --

CAMEROTA: But, Sean, in that case, why -- I'm just curious --

DUFFY: No, no, hold on. Let me finish. That's the second prong. Let me --

CAMEROTA: Yes, quickly.

DUFFY: But the second prong is -- the second prong is that the vice president was running Ukrainian policy. And is there a smell like potential corruption there and should be investigated? That's the second prong.


DUFFY: And I think we have to look at both of them and say (INAUDIBLE).

CAMEROTA: But I'm just curious, Sean. If that's the second prong that you believe in, then why didn't President Trump want to investigate it in 2017, 2018? Why did he only start being interested in Burisma after Joe Biden got into the race?

DUFFY: Well, listen, I don't know. Maybe he -- I don't know what he found out. I don't know what information the president had in regard to the decisions that he made.

But I'm sure that had he known in 2017 or 2018, he probably would have asked for the investigation in 2017 or 2018.

DENT: I doubt it. I doubt it, Sean.

Look, he wanted to investigate the Bidens because Biden was a candidate. That's why they did it.

And I agree what Hunter Biden did, that smells to high heaven. We all know that. It's terrible.

That said, we're talking about actions of the President of the United States; not a private citizen, Hunter Biden. I mean, it was the president who used his office -- used his office and its resources to solicit an investigation by a foreign official on his opponent and then in exchange for that foreign assistance. And I keep -- I was chairman of the Ethics Committee. If a member of Congress had done this the Department of Justice would be all over them, and we all know that.

CAMEROTA: Do you agree with that fact, Sean?

DUFFY: Well, I think that if Charlie had a member of Congress and they'd been redistricted together, and that member of Congress that he was running against was engaging in potential corruption, would Charlie seek an investigation? Of course, he would because that's his job.

And so, I look at what's going on with Burisma versus personal gain.

DENT: I --

DUFFY: I think the president has every right to take a look and ask for --


DUFFY: -- an investigation.

No, I would -- I would see the point that he should have gone to the Department of Justice. That would have been the appropriate path. But it is an impeachable path to say hey, you should help us out on this potential corruption, absolutely not.

And, Joe Biden is not -- does not get blanket exemptions from investigations because he's running for president.

CAMEROTA: Yes. But, Sean -- Sean, one more question that I have about this. If you're upset by Hunter Biden --


CAMEROTA: -- making money in Ukraine, are you also upset by all the money that Rudy Giuliani has made in Ukraine?

DUFFY: Well, I don't know what money Rudy Giuliani has made but I would --

CAMEROTA: Well, he's been connected to Lev Parnas, who has been charged, as you know --

DUFFY: Oh, yes, yes.

CAMEROTA: -- with trying to funnel foreign money into U.S. elections. So -- and you know that Lev Parnas and Rudy Giuliani were working together. Do you know that?

DUFFY: Well, first of all, so I guess I haven't spent a lot of time on what those connections are and how much Joe -- how much Rudy has made. But, I'm -- I think all of us on the panel this morning are opposed to corruption anywhere and everywhere. Now, if President Trump had withheld $1 billion to make sure Rudy

Giuliani was making money, that's a problem. And, Joe Biden withheld $1 billion to the Ukraine. And we've all agreed, Ukraine needs money.

CAMEROTA: But that -- but, I mean --

DUFFY: Ukraine needs assistance. It's our efforts to push back against Russia --

CAMEROTA: You know that you're mixing narratives and not for his personal benefit. That was actual --

DUFFY: And then he withheld $1 billion --

CAMEROTA: That was actual foreign policy.

DUFFY: -- at the same time his son was making huge dollars for a corrupt energy company in the Ukraine.


Here's what's interesting, Sean, is that the Sec. of Defense, on May 23rd, approved -- had looked into corruption in Ukraine and whether or not they were worthy of receiving this military aid and these U.S. dollars.


And here is what Congress, and the Defense Department, and the Secretary of State concluded on May 23rd. I'll read it to you.

"On behalf of the Secretary of Defense and in coordination with the Secretary of State, I have certified that the government of Ukraine has taken substantial actions to make defense institutional reforms for the purposes of decreasing corruption, increasing accountability, and sustaining the improvements enabled by the U.S. assistance."

So, after that, President Trump made his own unilateral decision to hold up those dollars.

DENT: Well, and you should also remember, too --

DUFFY: No -- and by the way, which I -- go ahead.

DENT: I was going to say look --

DUFFY: And, Charlie and I both understand this. We both agree that money gets held up all the time and the real critical point was September 30th, which was end -- the end of the fiscal year. The money would have had to go by the end of September.


DUFFY: -- of 2019.

And so, the president was fully within his authority -- CAMEROTA: Yes.

DUFFY: -- on when the money was released.

I just -- I want to point out one other thing. My good colleague and our former colleague Ron Johnson from Wisconsin -- the senator pointed out in his push to make sure that Ukraine got in -- he was in opposition to the president. He wanted the aid to flow. He thought it was important.


DUFFY: He also said I think it was a late-August call --


DUFFY: -- that he had with the president before there was any investigation going on. The president said I think you're going to like my decision in releasing the aid to the Ukraine.

And I would note that that's the way the president talks, going hey, I'm going to release -- release the aid, Ron. You're going to get what you want, Ron. The money's going to flow.

CAMEROTA: And I would note that it was after the investigation began -- after the whistleblower came forward --

DUFFY: No, no.

CAMEROTA: -- after Congress --

DUFFY: No, it wasn't.

CAMEROTA: -- began its -- yes, it was.

DUFFY: No, it wasn't.

CAMEROTA: The president released the aid days after --

DUFFY: Nope. That conversation was -- that conversation and Ron Johnson's -- no, no, no. The conversation that Ron Johnson wrote in his letter happened at the end of September before there was any word of any whistleblower --


DUFFY: -- or any investigation.

DENT: If there -- if corruption is actually the issue, we are engaged -- we provide assistance to Egypt. There's corruption there. Is the president wanting to withhold aid to Egypt? Of course, not.

How about Saudi Arabia? We sell all kinds of weapons. They killed a journalist. There are all kinds of human rights issues in Saudi Arabia. Turkey, Pakistan -- I mean, why Ukraine, which is actually a democracy as opposed to these autocracies or monarchies? I mean, that's really the issue.

CAMEROTA: Do you have an answer, quickly, Sean?

DUFFY: Yes, OK. The president has noted that the Ukraine is one of the most corrupt places on earth. The president doesn't like foreign aid.

But I -- but here's the deal.

DENT: Not more than those other countries.

DUFFY: We can all agree. I don't like the way this -- Charlie and I don't like the way this has played out.


DUFFY: But I think if you look at the way this is playing in American politics -- there was just a poll in Wisconsin --


DUFFY: -- that shows that now only 40 percent of Wisconsin support impeachment. Fifty-three percent are opposed to impeachment --


DUFFY: -- and those numbers are getting worse for Democrats. So the problem is that we've been -- we've been going after --

CAMEROTA: So, to be clear, you don't like how this played out --

DUFFY: The Democrats have been going after --

CAMEROTA: You're not just -- we have to wrap. But just to be clear, you don't like how this played out, you're not comfortable with the phone call, you don't like a lot of this, but you don't think that it rises to the level of impeachment. That's what I hear you saying, Sean. Yes or no?

DUFFY: So, I -- so, I think there -- I don't -- I don't -- yes, you're right, I don't like it. I think there was justification but I don't think this comes anywhere near like Will Hurd has said and you played that clip --


DUFFY: -- this is not impeachable.

CAMEROTA: And, Charlie, you think it is?

DENT: Well, if this doesn't rise to the level of impeachment, I'm not sure what does. I mean, this is really pretty bad.

CAMEROTA: OK. On that note, Sean Duffy, Charlie Dent, thank you both very much for giving us an insight into those feelings.

DUFFY: Thanks, Alisyn, Charlie.



Students at Syracuse University staging a huge walkout after a string of racist incidents. They were learning of an arrest but it might not stop the unrest. We have a live report ahead.



BERMAN: All right. New this morning, police have arrested a freshman at Syracuse University following a series of racist incidents that prompted protests and a sit-in on campus this week.

CNN's Polo Sandoval live in Syracuse to explain what's going on there. This is serious stuff, Polo.

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Serious stuff and the university is certainly acknowledging that, John.

Yesterday, we were at that student health and fitness center as these students decided to end that 8-day occupancy of that space -- a peaceful protest.

But they say they're calling for the resignation of University Chancellor Kent Syverud. They say even though he signed on to some of their recommendations they're still not satisfied and they still do not have complete confidence in the way that he's handled this string of racist incidents.

Before that announcement was made, we caught up with one university official who does say that there does need to be changes made and students can expect that in the future.


MARIANNE HUGER THOMSON, DEAN OF STUDENTS: There's hate in the world. Syracuse University is not immune to that. But I think our student demands and the solutions that they offered were not necessarily tied to this incident. This was -- they actually went much deeper than that and identified areas that we can help to make this place home for all of our students in a better way.


SANDOVAL: And with this protest over now, what happens next? Students head home for fall break.

But as I heard yesterday, Alisyn, they are hoping for even more victories in the future. They are continuing to put pressure on university officials, mainly the chancellor. CAMEROTA: Polo, thank you very much for your reporting from Syracuse University for us.

Now to this horrible story. In less than two hours, a former Boston College student will be indicted over her boyfriend's suicide. Prosecutors say her abusive behavior coerced him into taking his life.

CNN's Alexandra Field joins us with more. Tell us more about the case, Alexandra.

ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: A truly devastating story, Alisyn. You're talking about a 22-year-old man, Alexander Urtula, a Boston College student who died on the morning of his graduation by suicide. Prosecutors have been looking at what happened in the two months leading up to his death.


They are now charging his girlfriend, a South Korean national, Inyoung You, with involuntary manslaughter. That is based on their reading of 75,000 text messages exchanged between the couple.

Prosecutors say they have seen a clear pattern of verbal, mental, physical, psychological abuse demonstrated by these messages in which they say that You was aware of her boyfriend's spiraling depression and his suicidal thoughts, but that she encouraged with messages saying go die and go kill yourself.

For You, a spokesperson is now speaking out before her court appearance, releasing just a smattering of the messages exchanged, which seem to suggest that You also tried to stop her boyfriend, Urtula, on the morning of his death.

Urtula writes "goodbye" in the final message. And then she responds, saying "Stop." And then later, "I'm begging you. Please, I'm almost there, please. Where are you? Please, please, please." That was one of more than 100 messages that went unanswered.

Prosecutors still say the pattern of abuse only intensified in the days before Urtula's death.

His family has said they are respecting the court process. They say they can't say any more at this point because the pain is too fresh and simply too raw.

CAMEROTA: Oh my gosh, Alexandra, what a horrible story. Thank you very much for your reporting.

Back to politics. How are swing-state voters reacting to the impeachment hearings? CNN talks to suburban voters outside of Philadelphia, next.



BERMAN: It's time for "CNN Business Now."

Chinese President Xi Jinping says China wants to work out phase -- the phase-one trade deal with the United States but it is not afraid to fight a trade war.

Our chief business correspondent Christine Romans here with that -- Romans.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT, ANCHOR, "EARLY START": Hi, John. It's the same will they get a trade deal with China debate that has gripped markets for months now.

The "South China Morning Post" and "Reuters" report the Chinese president told reporters in Beijing, "When necessary we will fight back, but we have been working actively to try not to have a trade war."

Time is running out. Tariffs on $156 billion in Chinese-made consumer goods are slated for December 15th.

Now, in Washington, a source familiar with the state of play says the White House is considering two options. The first, the president puts more tariffs on Chinese goods next month and lets the current tariffs stand, the source says, to defend American workers from Chinese aggression. The second option is a mini-deal the source called not skinny, but anorexic.

Soybean purchases from China and more access to Chinese financial markets, that's something Wall Street wants in exchange for what the Chinese want -- rolling back September tariffs and canceling new tariffs scheduled for December.

Now, none of this is the course correction the president sought at the outset. And this week, he blamed the Chinese and seemed to favor option one, more tariffs.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: China would much rather make a trade deal than I would.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Then why haven't they?

TRUMP: Because I haven't wanted to do it yet.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And why haven't you wanted to do it yet?

TRUMP: Because I don't think they're stepping up to the level that I want.


ROMANS: And the president is said to believe there is room to stand tough on China, partly because stocks have been resilient since the trade war started. Since Trump announced the first tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, the Dow is up almost 13 percent, the S&P 500 up almost 16 percent, and the Nasdaq up more than 18 percent.

The mood this morning, hopes for a deal. Looking at futures now, they had been leaning higher here -- guys.

CAMEROTA: Thank you very much, Christine, for all of that.

So, after two weeks of impeachment hearings, how do voters in battleground states feel? CNN's Vanessa Yurkevich spoke with the all- important suburban voters outside of Philadelphia.


DOUG STIRLING, RADIO HOST, WCHE: And good morning, everybody. Talking a little politics. We want to know what you think about the impeachment hearings.

VANESSA YURKEVICH, CNN BUSINESS AND POLITICS 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 they're just wasting taxpayers' money.

YURKEVICH (voice-over): 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.

STIRLING: Nothing there, there, huh?


YURKEVICH (voice-over): -- to the railways.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm totally convinced that he's committed a crime.

YURKEVICH (voice-over): 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.

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


YURKEVICH (voice-over): Jane Young and her friends have been glued to the hearings for the past two weeks.

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

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, that's not going to happen. You invited the wrong person.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK, shh, shh. YURKEVICH (voice-over): At her watch party in Delaware County, four Democrats and one Independent all believe the president has committed a crime.

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


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

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And that's -- I think that we're ahead of the congressional hearings. We believed it before they walked in the room and produced the witnesses.


YURKEVICH (voice-over): Across town, Alexo and Valerie Bell.

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

A. BELL: Right.

YURKEVICH (voice-over): Alexo, a staunch Trump supporter. His wife, Valerie, an Independent who is not a fan of the president.


YURKEVICH (on camera): Have you discussed the impeachment inquiry?

A. 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's no love lost on their distinct views on impeachment.

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

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


YURKEVICH: Now, the vast majority of voters we spoke to in Pennsylvania say they do not believe the president will be removed from office. They say the 2020 election will ultimately decide his fate.

And, John and Alisyn, we spent a lot of time talking to voters there. We only found one who knows who they'll be voting for -- that will be President Trump. And the others we spoke to still very much undecided and do not know yet, even on the Democratic side, who they'll be voting for in 2020.

BERMAN: Those might be some of the most decisive and important voters in the country.

Vanessa, thanks so much for being with us. I appreciate it.

CAMEROTA: Thank you.

BERMAN: So, to say the president's impeachment defenses have been shifting is an understatement. Our reality check team is counting down the dozen we have time for, starting with this.


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


JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: And with that damning bit of testimony, Ambassador Gordon Sondland killed off one of team Trump's biggest talking points. His very presence undercut another defense because this million-dollar Trump donor could never credibly be called a never-Trumper.

But let's go back to the beginning because it all started with denial. The president tweeting, "Is anybody dumb enough to believe I would say something inappropriate with a foreign leader?" Well, yes, and Trump's own release of the transcript knocked that one off.

So the next move, just clam up.


REPORTER: Did you discuss Joe Biden, his son or his family with the leader of Ukraine?

TRUMP: It doesn't matter what I discussed. I don't even know exactly who you're talking about.


AVLON: But that couldn't be sustained forever, so it became the perfect call.


TRUMP: It was a perfect call. An absolutely perfect phone conversation. It was perfect.


AVLON: And if that's the case, then the whistleblower had to be wrong, right? (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Well, the whistleblower was very inaccurate.


AVLON: Well, when Trump released the transcript voluntarily, it basically backed up the whistleblower's account.

So then there was this. Get over it, snowflakes.


MICK MULVANEY, ACTING WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: I have news for everybody, get over it. There's going to be political influence in foreign policy.


AVLON: And then there was America's crash course in Latin.


TRUMP: No quid pro quo. There's no quid pro quo. No quid pro quo.


AVLON: When it appeared that Ukraine didn't know military aid was being withheld -- well, there goes the quote, right?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can't have a quid pro quo with no quo.


AVLON: Well, it turns out Ukraine did know, so scratch that.

Then came the testimonies and GOP complaints that they were being held behind closed doors.


REP. MATT GAETZ (R-FL): What we see in this impeachment is a kangaroo court and Chairman Schiff is acting like a malicious Captain Kangaroo.


AVLON: OK, Captain Kangaroo's got nothing to do with kangaroo courts. But once we entered public hearings that one went away, right?


SEN. RON JOHNSON (R-WI): This would have been far better off if we would have just taken care of this behind the scenes.


AVLON: OK, so much for that.

But it's all secondhand information, right?


REP. JIM JORDAN (R-OH): I've seen church prayer chains that are easier to understand than this.


AVLON: Well then, witnesses with firsthand information testified the same way. And the White House is blocking the testimony of more senior officials with firsthand knowledge, so kiss that one goodbye.

As long as we're on Jim Jordan, by the way, call this one the Brick Tamland.


JORDAN: I'm asking you a simple question. When did that happen?

SONDLAND: Never did.

JORDAN: Never did.

STEVE CARREL, ACTOR: I don't know what we're yelling about.


AVLON: When all the testimonies basically said he did it, it was time for this defense.


LAURA INGRAHAM, FOX NEWS HOST, "THE INGRAHAM ANGLE": Attempted bribery isn't in the constitution.



AVLON: OK, that man briefly ran our Justice Department and solicitation of bribery is literally part of the statute.

So then, they tried to let Trump off the hook because he got caught before he could pull it off. There was also plenty of project and deflect, fixation on Hunter Biden, and the idea that it was Democrats who were colluding with Ukraine, to which Fiona Hill said --


DR. FIONA HILL, FORMER NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL OFFICIAL SPECIALIZING IN SOVIET, RUSSIAN, AND EUROPEAN AFFAIRS: This is a fictional narrative that has been perpetrated and propagated by the Russian security services themselves.


AVLON: So here we are back to denial as the official position of the White House and Fox News, at least judging by this giant banner -- "Sondland Testimony Confirms No Quid Pro Quo."

As this heads to the Senate it looks like there's one defense left. OK, he did it. It's bad but it's not impeachable. And whoever signs on to that defense is going to be given the green light to all future presidents to use foreign powers to investigate their domestic political rivals.

And that's your reality check.


BERMAN: I'm going to say it.

CAMEROTA: You say it.

BERMAN: That was great and it was more than just loud noises, you know, as Brick Tamland would say. That was fantastic.

CAMEROTA: So, no Captain Kangaroo, but Mr. Green Jeans, very suspicious.

BERMAN: Always very suspicious.

AVLON: Always.

CAMEROTA: Thank you.

BERMAN: No one wears green jeans -- just saying.

Thanks, John.

AVLON: Thanks, guys.

BERMAN: All right, thank you to our international viewers for watching. For you, "CNN NEWSROOM" with Max Foster is next.

For our U.S. viewers, the Democrats moving closer to an impeachment vote. NEW DAY continues right now.

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