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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT
House Delivers Impeachment Articles To Senate; Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY) Discusses His Preparation For The Senate Impeachment Trial of President Donald Trump; Indicted Rudy Giuliani Associate At Center Of Ukraine Scandal: "Trump Knew Exactly What Was Going On"; Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) is Interviewed About the Coming Impeachment Trial. Aired 7-8p ET
Aired January 15, 2020 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM. Erin Burnett OUTFRONT starts right now.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next breaking news, a historic hand over. The House delivering the articles of impeachment against President Donald J. Trump to the Senate. One of the newly named impeachment managers, Chairman Jerry Nadler is OUTFRONT.
Plus, new details about John Bolton and what he is preparing to share with the public tonight.
And the FBI taking a closer look at a Trump donor who is suddenly found himself at the center of the Ukraine quid pro quo scandal. Who is he? Let's go OUTFRONT.
And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett. OUTFRONT tonight breaking news, Speaker Pelosi sending the articles of impeachment to the Senate. Tonight, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi signing the two articles of impeachment against President Trump. One for abuse of power, the other for obstruction.
The newly appointed House impeachment managers then walking those articles formally over to the Senate.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): Make it be very clear that this President will be held accountable, that no one is above law and that no future president should ever entertain the idea that Article One, excuse me, Article Two says he can do whatever he wants.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: History being made tonight and tomorrow the senators will be sworn in by the Chief Justice of the United States and from there anything can happen. Will there be witnesses? Is there more evidence about to be revealed?
I mean, tonight that question is even more pressing after the Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Adam Schiff, one of the impeachment managers. He's going to be prosecuting the case, told CNN that at any minute new potentially damning evidence may be released about the efforts to get Ukraine to dig up dirt on the Bidens.
I mean Schiff and his team are now going through these documents, handwritten notes, text messages that they received from Rudy Giuliani's former associate, the now criminally indicted Lev Parnas.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): There's a tremendous volume of documents and materials that Mr. Parnas has turned over to us. We are still going through them, Wolf, because they're such a great volume. Many of them are in Russia and they had to be translated.
And fortunately, we have members of our staff that can help do that. But there is still a great many other documents to go through.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: And I want to be clear, this isn't evidence they had and withheld. This is brand new and we already know some of the information they received is significant in English, where they didn't even have to wait for translation. Giuliani had the letter that he sent to the Ukrainian President and he said that he was requesting a meeting with him with the 'knowledge and consent' of President Donald J. Trump.
Put in black and white which completely and utterly contradicts what Trump said under direct questioning when he say he never did any such thing. I mean, we have a lot to get to tonight. It is a historic day in Washington.
Manu Raju is OUTFRONT live on Capitol Hill to begin our coverage. And Manu, what are you learning tonight about this crucial question of whether new evidence, which is just now being produced and could be extremely significant will be revealed at the senate trial?
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's an open question about whether senators, particularly Republican senators, would be open to hearing some of the new evidence that could be presented. First, the evidence that came out yesterday showing that effort that Rudy Giuliani, the President's personal attorney, was involved with him trying to push Ukrainian government to open those investigations into the Bidens and those text messages that came from that Giuliani associate.
That information that came out yesterday is likely to be considered admissible as part of the Senate trial. But Democrats who are involved in this case tell me that they expect to potentially even more information to come out in the days ahead because not only Parnas providing information, there are separate lawsuits that are also pending that also could lead to more information coming out.
Now, information does come out, Erin, at that point, senators would have to vote in order to allow that evidence to be admitted during the trial and that would require 51 senators to vote. Republican senators who I talked to are not saying that they would be open to that. In fact saying that they are just simply just going to be non-committal, some point in cold water and the idea of allowing the Democrats to bring forward new evidence.
So that's going to be a big question in the days and weeks ahead as this trial unfolds. Now, this will start tomorrow in those ceremonial aspects. When the seven impeachment managers go back to the Senate, they will read aloud those articles of impeachment on the floor of the Senate, then the Chief Justice will be sworn in.
John Roberts will oversee the trial. All hundred senators will take their oaths and then next week, next Tuesday is when the arguments will occur. Democrats were expected to go first. They will make the substance of their arguments known. The White House will provide its defense to the arguments.
And then that ultimate question, will senators, namely Republicans, agree to witnesses as Democrats have called for like John Bolton, Mick Mulvaney and others?
Will they continue to push for the Hunter Bidens or even the whistleblower to testify? Those are questions that will still emerge in the days ahead and will that new evidence also be presented? Another key question as the twists and turns occur in this historic and unpredictable trial, Erin.
BURNETT: All right. Manu, Thank you very much. And I want to go OUTFRONT now straight away to one of the newly named impeachment managers who will make this case to the Senate, Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Democratic Congressman Jerry Nadler. Of course you saw him front and center in the house impeachment proceedings.
Chairman, so here you are, obviously, formally now named as an impeachment manager. How are you and the other managers preparing for the trial now?
REP. JERRY NADLER (D-NY): Well, we are preparing for the trial by going over all the evidence. The overwhelming evidence that was presented in the House. The more evidence that is just coming out in the next few days.
We are noting the fact that the different President in an unprecedented in American history has tried to stonewall and block all evidence, and that's the second article of impeachment. But this abundant evidence of the President's betrayal of his country and commission of high crimes and misdemeanors.
And the real question now is will the Senate be complicit in the President's crimes? Will the senate hold a real trial or will they deny witnesses and evidence? Every impeachment in the history of the country, every trial in the history of the country, you have witnesses.
The American people know that if someone is accused of something, witnesses are brought to testify, pro and con. The idea that the Senate would say that you can't have witnesses is just meaning that they want to participate in the cover up by the President.
BURNETT: And I want to ask you about that, but first have you decided what role you're specifically going to play? I mean, obviously, there's going to be various roles to play but they would be the making the opening arguments and how you're going to divide that up and then if there are witnesses who does the cross examining? I'm sorry. Go ahead.
NADLER: We will divide the work as it seems fit. But how we divide the work is hardly the issue. The issue is the fact that we have a serious threat to the Constitution of the republic by the President of the United States that he not only violated his oath of office, but that he tried to get a foreign government to join in rigging our next election. And he used hundreds of millions of dollars in federal money voted by Congress to do this for his own personal gain.
And the question before us now is will the Senate be complicit in this by refusing to conduct the trial and if you don't have witnesses, you don't have a trial?
BURNETT: So there are witnesses and information, now we understand from what Manu was reporting that the information we have, for example, the letter Rudy Giuliani sent to the President of Ukraine in which he requested a meeting for a very specific request with the consent and knowledge of the President. That, Manu was saying, would be admissible as with the text messages regarding the surveillance of then Ambassador Yovanovitch.
Do you have additional levers though beyond that, Chairman, that hasn't been released yet?
NADLER: There is plenty of evidence. There is evidence that we're still going over. It was just received, that is not been translated from the Russian yet that is in our possession. But the fact, again, remains all evidence, all relevant evidence is admissible in any trial, whether it's a trial for a local bank robbery or a trial for treason against the United States, all evidence is admissible, unless - I mean, the idea that you don't admit evidence is unheard of.
NADLER: And the fact that the Republicans in the Senate are considering that is saying that they're considering making the impeachment trial not a trial as the Constitution demands, but a cover up with the President.
BURNETT: So there is, of course, the question and I know it's the whole back and forth on what witnesses you could have waited for in the House, how long you would have waited to get them and that plays into what some Republicans in the Senate see is whether they should accept new evidence, but also witnesses.
NADLER: All evidence should be accepted in any trial, all evidence, including evidence that came in after the start of the trial is acceptable, if it's relevant.
NADLER: That's the only question, is it relevant.
NADLER: And the fact is that we waited for a year in trying to get evidence because the President block access in an unprecedented move in American history, blocked access, and is still blocking access to the best of his ability to all of the relevant evidence.
BURNETT: So Republican Senator Lamar Alexander known as an institutionalist who has seem to indicate he would want things like witnesses was asked about new evidence today. I wanted to read the quote to you how he responded, Chairman.
He said, "The question would be why then did they," referring to you in the House, "bring the articles of impeachment if they didn't hear from the witnesses they wanted to hear and hadn't considered the evidence they want to consider."
NADLER: We brought the articles of impeachment because despite the fact that we didn't hear from many witnesses we should have heard from, we heard from enough witnesses to prove the case beyond any doubt at all. But now the Senate or some of the senators are saying, Senator McConnell was saying that they shouldn't be any witnesses at all and that's just travesty.
BURNETT: One person not on the independent managers team is Independent Congressman Justin Amash. As you know he'd gotten a lot of discussion as to whether he wanted to be, told me last week he'd be honored to be asked. But today, Speaker Pelosi said there was no consideration of naming Amash and Democratic Congressman Dean Phillips told CNN today he's disappointed about Amash not being chosen.
His quote, I'm quoting Congressman Phillips, Chairman, was, "As an attorney, former Republican, and the only independent member of the House of Representatives, he," Amash, "has articulated the Constitutional rationale for impeachment as well as anyone in Congress, and his absence is a missed opportunity for a bipartisan management team."
Do you think this was a missed opportunity?
NADLER: Well, I think Justin Amash showed a lot of courage in doing what he did. I think there are a lot of members of the House, Mr. Amash, and many, many others who would make a very fine managers. And the Speaker chose seven and that's her choice. I think the seven she chose are very good people.
BURNETT: And finally, are you preparing to deal with Hunter Biden as a witness? NADLER: Hunter Biden should not be a witness because you only have
witnesses who are relevant. That is to say the President is accused of certain crimes and high crimes and misdemeanors. If someone has evidence, pro or con, as to whether he committed those crimes in high crimes and misdemeanors, he's relevant.
Hunter Biden has no way of knowing anything about the allegations against the President. Some of the Republicans urging that he'd be called are simply trying to confuse the issue and to throw a red herring in it. If someone is accused of a bank robbery, the relevant witnesses are people who know who can say he did or didn't rob the bank, not someone who knows nothing about that.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Chairman Nadler. I appreciate your time tonight.
And next, our breaking news continues, Rudy Giuliani's former associate, Lev Parnas, at the center of the Ukraine scandal speaking out tonight. What he is saying is damning to President Trump's defense.
Plus, a major setback for the White House. We are learning new details this hour about what the trial will look like and is Joe Biden prepared for Hunter Biden to be called as a witness in Trump's impeachment trial.
BURNETT: Breaking news, President Trump knew exactly what was going on in Ukraine. That is according to Lev Parnas, the indicted associate of Rudy Giuliani. He was helping him dig up dirt in Ukraine on Trump's political rivals and he is speaking out tonight. Here's Lev Parnas.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RACHEL MADDOW, HOST, THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW: What do you think is the main inaccuracy or the main lie that's been told that you feel like you can correct?
LEV PARNAS, RUDY GIULIANI ASSOCIATE: That the president didn't know what was going on. President Trump knew exactly what was going on. He was aware of all of my movements. I wouldn't do anything without the consent of Rudy Giuliani or the President.
MADDOW: In terms of the President what he has said about you, he said about you and Mr. Fruman, Igor Fruman, "I don't know those gentlemen. I don't know about them. I don't know what they do." You're saying that was not a true statement from the President.
PARNAS: He lied.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Kaitlan Collins is OUTFRONT at the White House. Kaitlan, look this goes directly against what the President of the United States himself has said. Has the White House responded to any of this yet? This is obviously just coming out.
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: No. Nothing from the White House yet on this. They're still going through all those materials that were released overnight. Those messages implying that the Ambassador Yovanovitch was surveilled when she was in Ukraine.
And, of course, as you heard there, the President when we first asked about his relation with these two men, because of course there are photos of the President with them after they were indicted and that they are known Rudy Giuliani associates, he tried to distance himself from them saying he didn't know them. They just had taken a picture but he was not familiar with them at all.
So Erin, the White House is now dealing with this as they are still trying to cobble together their defense team for this Senate impeachment trial. One of the main points of contention right now is still whether the President is going to include those Republican House members on his defense team.
That's something they've gone back and forth with over several people, John Ratcliffe, Jim Jordan, Doug Collins. Several of these members, Mark Meadows, included in that of whether or not they're going to include them. Something that Mitch McConnell has advised the President against the President's own instincts tell him he wants to have who he believes are his most fierce defenders on the floor. Though Mark Meadows there, pictured in the middle, said there is still a debate going on over that.
Now, what is more firm is the actual legal team, the attorneys who are going to be presenting this. That's the White House Counsel, the President's outside attorney, two more deputies in the White House Counsel's Office. But the question is, is if they are going to add any more attorneys as this process goes on, because our sources have been telling us that in the coming days, they may decide to add as they go along saying it wouldn't be that unusual because they think Bill Clinton did something similar.
So that's really a big question, is that they're going to add another attorney to the mix.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Kaitlan, from the White House tonight.
OUTFRONT now, White House Correspondent for The New York Times Maggie Haberman, also Tim Naftali, who was the Director of the Nixon Library and former Nixon White House Counsel, John Dean.
John, let me just start with you. You just heard Lev Parnas that he says the biggest thing that's inaccurate is that the President didn't know what was going on. "President Trump knew exactly what was going on. He was aware of all my movements."
How significant is this? He directly, by the way, says President Trump lied when he says he did not know Lev Parnas. JOHN DEAN, FORMER NIXON WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL: It's very significant,
if he can prove it. If it becomes his word against Rudy Giuliani and the President, he's going to lose. His statements will have no sway in the trial.
He's got to have some proof of this. Well, if there's cooperation, say contemporaneous statements to others, that could help. But he really needs good evidence to make this important information.
BURNETT: I mean, Tim, because here's the thing we just played what Mr. Parnas said, "Mr. Trump was aware of all my movements." And Rachel Maddow asked, "In terms of the President what he said about you, he said about you, 'I don't know those gentlemen. I don't know about them. I don't know what they do.'" And Lev Parnas says, "He lied."
Let me just remind everybody about what the President said about Lev Parnas. Here he is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don't know those gentlemen. Now, it's possible I have a picture with them because I have a picture with everybody. I have a picture with everybody here. I don't know them. I don't know about them. I don't know what they do. But I don't know, maybe they were clients of Rudy. You'd have to ask Rudy. I just don't know.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: OK. So Lev Parnas is saying that that's a blatant lie. I mean, as John Dean said, it's whether he can prove it, but it is a huge accusation with very significant implications.
TIM NAFTALI, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Very significant and this is one of the problems when you're trying to assess a criminal conspiracy, that the participants in the conspiracy are not terribly credible.
BURNETT: I.e. Lev Parnas is being criminally charged.
NAFTALI: That's right and so they have interest in protecting themselves. And so, as John Dean said, you're going to need some third party information. As John well knows, there's nothing better than tapes or a document. And so what the House managers will be looking for and I suspect some Senators will want to see is some kind of corroboration of what Parnas said.
But the fact that Parnas has said it is important, because he is part of that special corrupt group that Giuliani put together to put pressure on the Ukrainian.
BURNETT: And it does fit, of course, Maggie, with what others have said. And it fits with Rudy Giuliani's own letter to the President of Ukraine which said he's acting with the knowledge of and consent of the President of the United States. You're reporting that Rand Paul, Republican Rand Paul, is saying Trump is of two minds on witnesses, sort of had been hoping he wouldn't have any of them whether it's someone that is sort of a damaged witness like Lev Parnas or someone else like John Bolton. But you are hearing some new reporting on John Bolton. What are you learning?
MAGGIE HABERMAN, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORK TIMES: So John Bolton is almost done with the book that he has been working on. Simon & Schuster is supposed to publish it. It will come out, I think, well before, if not somewhat before, the nominating conventions this summer. And he is going to talk about his time in the Trump White House, according to people who are familiar with what he's going to do in this book. That is going to include the Ukraine scandal.
Now, how much depth he's going to get into on it? How much he's going to reveal? I think that remains to be seen. As far as I understand it, there's a bunch of people who are not going to come out looking great. One is Mick Mulvaney, the Acting White House Chief of Staff. One is Mike Pompeo, the Secretary of State. And one is Nikki Haley, who had John Bolton's old job as UN Ambassador, the one he held in the Bush administration.
It is interesting because it's coming at a moment when Bolton has played a bit of this game in terms of what he's going to do with Congress.
BURNETT: Yes. Sort of don't want to talk, do want to talk.
HABERMAN: Well, I don't want to talk to one House that's led by Democrats, but I will talk to one that's led by Republicans and I think he is trying to sort of have it all ways, where he is trying to look as if he has complied with legal obligations. He is trying to look as if he is open to telling the truth about history, but he also wants to preserve his Republican alliances, frankly. And I think that's going to be an interesting push pull as we go forward.
BURNETT: Does the President from what you understand and your sources expect the John Bolton will testify at this point or is he still hopeful that doesn't happen?
HABERMAN: He's still hopeful that that doesn't happen and he still expects it's not going to happen based on everything that I have heard. But again, you have had these conversations that are taking place among Republicans about maybe we can do a tit for tat if we have a John Bolton testified, then possibly we have a Hunter Biden testify.
And I've heard from Several people close to the President, that is what they're going to push for if this ends up being them calling witnesses. Also, I just want to be clear on this, we have been led to believe that Bolton knows a lot. We have seen over years of this White House, there are indeed a number of people who know things and then there are a lot of people who say they know things and they don't.
And so until we actually hear it from him, it's hard to assess.
BURNETT: Right. To put him as like this is the humdinger, you don't know.
HABERMAN: We just don't know.
BURNETT: Do you have an O.J. Glove moment?
HABERMAN: Right. I would argue that frankly Mulvaney's testimony probably is equally if not more important, because he was having these direct conversations with the President. John Bolton's relationship with the President was pretty bad by the time this was all going on.
HABERMAN: So I'm not saying he doesn't have an enormous story to tell you. I'm sure he has lots of things to say, but whether it would fundamentally change the arc of what we know in this impeachment issue, I don't know.
BURNETT: Which is actually very crucial, because as you point out, it's Mick Mulvaney who gave the order for the aid and these people who said that came from the President.
BURNETT: John Dean, as Maggie is talking about Trump still hoping that there will be no witnesses. He is extremely focused on who is going to represent him and he wants, as we all know, got some of his most loyal defenders in the House to be under consideration even though Mitch McConnell has said, "I do not want those guys. They will make this seem unserious."
Just so everyone may remember, here are what these guys are like.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JIM JORDAN (R-OH): Mr. Chairman, I have a point of order.
SCHIFF: The gentleman is not recognized.
JORDAN: I have a point of order, though.
SCHIFF: The gentleman is not recognized.
JORDAN: Mr. Chairman, there are four transcripts that have not been released.
SCHIFF: Gentleman is not recognized.
JORDAN: Holy cow.
SCHIFF: The ranking member ...
REP. MARK MEADOWS (R-NC): The last 30 days I've heard more about Hamilton from my Democrat colleagues and until then the closest they ever came to Hamilton was a $10 bill. REP. JOHN RATCLIFFE (R-TX): These aren't all of the deposition
transcripts, these are just the 10 that have been released. The word bribery appears in these 3,500 pages exactly one time.
REP. DOUG COLLINS (R-GA): Nancy Pelosi does it again and her Democrats fall right in line. One, they're in love with terrorists, we see that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: So John Dean, will one of those gentlemen appear on behalf of the President as part of his defense team? Do you think he'll do it?
DEAN: Well, I'm very familiar with that group having testified in front of it recently. And when you tell the President not to do something, he very much wants to do it. And the way he makes his judgments is how he thinks it'll play on television. So there's no telling what will come out. I wouldn't be surprised if he wants to push one or more of those people into the team representing him.
And I think Mitch McConnell is right. The Senate will take some offense if these guys play the clown act. Today we saw that Mitch set the tone. It's very solemn. It's very serious. He said, "Let's rise above petty partisanship." Well, that's unusual coming from Mitch. He does respect the institution of the Senate.
BURNETT: And Tim, obviously, the White House is saying today in the background, they had a call with reporters, extraordinarily unlikely this goes beyond two weeks. Do you think that is wishful thinking?
NAFTALI: I don't see how that's possible. The Democrats have to give. They've got seven managers. They have to lay out the case against the President. The president wants to have this chance to respond and then you'll have a vote on witnesses. And even if the vote goes the wrong way, with regard to witnesses, you still have to give the senators time to consider the charges and then vote.
How you do that before the State of the Union, I don't know.
BURNETT: All right. The State of the Union, of course, is right now scheduled for the day after the Iowa caucuses.
And next, a setback for the White House. We are learning new details of Mitch McConnell's plans to run his impeachment trial.
And a Trump donor now in the middle of the Ukraine scandal. Another Trump donor, it was Gordon Sondland, that's not who I'm talking about tonight, though this guy possibly taking part in the efforts to oust the former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine to surveil her. Who is Robert Hyde?
[19:31:49] ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: Tonight, we have new details about the Senate impeachment trial. One Republican who has seen the resolution laying out the rules of the trial tells CNN there will be no motion to swiftly dismiss the impeachment trial, an option the White House wanted included. And there will be a vote on witnesses.
OUTFRONT now, Democratic Senator Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, who sits on the Budget and Appropriations Committees.
Senator, there's guarantee of a vote on witnesses after opening arguments. Those arguments, of course, could take quite some time, right? You could have a week and a half by the time the witnesses presenting their position. Are you satisfied waiting that long to have a vote on witnesses?
SEN. CHRIS VAN HOLLEN (D-MD): Well, Erin, that's right. That's the way Mitch McConnell has structured this.
It really doesn't make sense to do it that way. It's a little bit backwards. In fact, it's very backwards because under any normal trial proceedings, you would have the witnesses and the documents that you wanted as part of the case being put on at trial.
But this is something Senator McConnell rounded up the Republican Senate votes to do. And what that means is that House managers will put on their case as is. And then you'll hear from the president's lawyers. And only then will we have votes on calling relevant fact witnesses and documents.
But make no mistake, Senate Republicans will face that very important vote, and that will be a signal to the country as to whether or not they want a fair trial or they want to participate in rigging the trial.
BURNETT: So, Senator Susan Collins, of course, as you well know, is one of the Republicans who said she's open to calling witnesses. She expressed skepticism today which I thought was notable about the information from Lev Parnas and specifically why it wasn't included in the House impeachment majority report.
She said and I quote, Senator: I wonder why the House did not put that into the record and it's only now being revealed.
Now, she was immediately told that information is new. It wasn't just being revealed. It hadn't been held back.
So, when that was clarified to her, she responded saying, quote, well, doesn't that suggest the House did an incomplete job then?
Are you worried if someone like Senator Collins is saying that? Is she looking for a reason to back Trump's side do you think?
VAN HOLLEN: Well, she may well be looking for a reason to back President Trump. And her responsibility however is not to the president. It's to her constituents and to the Constitution. And Senator Collins should know very well that the House put on a very
big case. They've got lots of evidence already to support the two articles of impeachment, but that this president engaged in an unprecedented amount of obstruction, more than any other president in our history, claiming absolute immunity. And that is why these witnesses were not called, the four witnesses that we've requested, and that's why they've refused to present a single document from the administration.
And it's not unusual at all after a grand jury proceeding to have new witnesses at the trial.
VAN HOLLEN: And as you indicated, this new information from Lev Parnas has just been provided to the House.
And the other evidence was evidence that was deliberately kept from the house by the president's own order. So, it is now time to do what the Constitution says which is to try the case in the United States Senate, and that means being able to hear all the evidence.
BURNETT: You're hours away from receiving a report from the GAO, a government investigative agency, and it tackles whether President Trump broke the law by withholding aid to Ukraine, so the act of withholding the aid alone could be a violence of law because Congress approved that aid. So, separate from the president's motive in doing so or alleged abuses in how he handled the situation.
Do you think a black and white conclusion that Trump broke the law from the GAO will change any minds in the Senate?
VAN HOLLEN: Well, Erin, I don't want to get into the GAO report because I haven't seen its conclusions, and I do want to stress the fact that the House findings were totally independent of this question of whether or not the president violated the Impoundment Control Act, right? The fact that the president used the prestige and power of his office to essentially threaten Ukraine with withholding these funds until they did his political bidding is the core of the first article of impeachment.
However, we've asked GAO to look at this. They're an independent body. And look forward to their conclusions. And I'm happy to talk more about that them when we actually see their opinion.
BURNETT: Before we go, the president signed phase one of a new China trade deal, a deal which while there are a lot of uncertainties and the market certainly sees them, does include a pledge from China to buy nearly $100 billion more in agricultural and energy products than they do now. That's $100 billion more coming into the United States from China if this goes through. The market hitting an all-time high today, 29,000 for the Dow, never before seen.
Do you think this is a big victory for the president and for this country?
VAN HOLLEN: No, I don't, and I can tell you in talking to Maryland farmers and Maryland businesses, they're only breathing a sigh of relief because it may be that we're at least getting out of the very problem that the president himself created.
This is a little bit like being the arsonist who lights the fire and then the fireman who wants to take credit for putting out the fire. I mean, the president created these huge problems, and now he wants to have a big signing ceremony to put out the problems that he solved.
Now, I will say that there are some fundamental issues where I've supported the president's complaints, primarily with respect to Chinese telecom companies like Huawei and the fact that they stole a lot of U.S. technology and now they pose a security threat to the United States and our allies. But this agreement does not deal at all with the Huawei issue, which is why I join with Republican members of Congress to pass legislation to essentially say the president's got to come back to Congress before he provides relief to Huawei.
BURNETT: Understood. I will say again I know there are questions about whether this all happens as it is laid out. That is fair to point it out. But $100 billion more would be a win, right? If that happens in terms of buying more agricultural products?
VAN HOLLEN: All I would say, Erin, this is like Charlie Brown and the football. We keep hearing that X is going to happen next, and it just doesn't happen. The football gets pulled away.
I would also make the point that some of the fundamental structural issues that really do need to be addressed are still left on the table here. So, look, I would -- I hope we'll stay at it with China. I especially hope we'll address issues like Huawei which the president did not address in the context of this stage one agreement. But -- those are the big things we need to deal with when it comes to China.
BURNETT: All right. Senator, thank you very much. I appreciate your time as always, sir. Thank you.
And next, the FBI looking at a Trump donor who implied the former ambassador to Ukraine was being physically monitored. Why?
And some Republicans suggesting Speaker Pelosi timed the start of the impeachment trial to help Joe Biden. The former vice president's campaign manager responds.
BURNETT: Tonight, the FBI taking a closer look at a Trump donor who has emerged as a player in the Ukraine scandal, according to new documents provided to House impeachment investigators by indicted Giuliani associate, Lev Parnas. Trump's donor, Robert Hyde, and Parnas appeared to discuss surveillance, physical surveillance, of the then- ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch. Brynn Gingras is OUTFRONT.
BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A new controversial character has emerged in the Ukraine scandal. Wow, can't believe Trump has fired this B, I'll get right in that.
That's just one of the many text messages, Robert Hyde, a Connecticut Republican and Trump donor, wrote, apparently referring to former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch.
The text was sent to Lev Parnas, a recently indicted associate of the president's personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, and just released as part of a trove of documents handed over to House Democrats this week by Parnas' attorney.
The communication suggests Hyde was mixed up in the efforts to oust Yovanovitch from her post last year and may have taken part in surveillance of Yovanovitch while she was in Kyiv. The guys asked me what I would like to do and what is in it for them. She's talked to three people. Her phone is off, computer is off. They will let me know when she is on the move.
Hyde later added: Guess you can do anything in the Ukraine with money, what I was told.
Parnas replied, LOL.
In May, Yovanovitch was recalled from her position and in November, as part of the impeachment inquiry, she told lawmakers about the conversation she had with the State Department prior to leaving Ukraine.
MARIE YOVANOVITCH, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO UKRAINE: She said I needed to come home immediately, get on the next plane to the U.S. and I asked her why. And she said she wasn't sure, but there were concerns about my security.
GINGRAS: Parnas who has pleaded not guilty to federal campaign finance charges in New York denies through his attorney involvement, quote: in any activities with Hyde to surveil the ambassador and try to harm the ambassador.
When asked if he offered to harm Yovanovitch, Hyde responded to CNN in a text, no effing way, what kind of bull Schiff question is that, referring to House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff.
Hyde is running for a U.S. congressional seat and recently came under fire after he tweeted a sexually crude response to Kamala Harris dropping out of the presidential race. Afterward, the Connecticut GOP refunded Hyde's donations to the party. And the today, the group asked him to end his congressional run. Hyde calls himself an ardent supporter of Trump and he's donated $55,000 to Trump's inaugural committee, campaign, and other Republicans according to federal records. His social media accounts are filled with pictures of him posing with Trump and various members of the Trump family.
GINGRAS: Now, Hyde just called in for an interview with the Sinclair station, "America This Week" with Eric Bolling, and, Erin, it's essentially an expletive-ridden interview where he essentially denies any surveillance on Yovanovitch. As you can imagine, she's now calling for investigation as you already mentioned.
The FBI, U.S. attorneys here in Manhattan are also trying to figure out what kind of role he might have played in the removal of Yovanovitch and really important to note the State Department has not commented on any of these text messages.
BURNETT: That's unbelievable.
All right. Brynn, thank you very much.
And next, the impeachment trial pulling top Democratic presidential candidates off the campaign trail. That's it. You know, come Tuesday, sayonara Iowa. The major impact this could have on a very unpredictable race, next.
BURNETT: Tonight, a huge gamble. A Republican senator telling CNN the Senate impeachment resolution will guarantee a vote on whether to call witnesses in President Trump's impeachment trial. Of course, if Democrats get that vote, Republicans could call witnesses, too. Hunter Biden, Joe Biden's son, would be first on their list to testify about his work on the board of the Ukrainian energy company, Burisma.
OUTFRONT now, Symone Sanders, senior adviser to the Biden campaign.
Symone, great to have you with me.
So, earlier, I was talking to one of the impeachment managers, Chairman Jerry Nadler, and asking him, well, you don't know what's going to happen, but are you preparing for a cross-examination of Hunter Biden? And I asked the question to you, is Vice President Joe Biden prepared for his son to possibly be called before the Senate for the whole country to hear in this impeachment trial?
SYMONE SANDERS, SENIOR ADVISER, BIDEN CAMPAIGN: Thanks for having me tonight, Erin.
I think it's important to reiterate that this impeachment trial, the impeachment inquiry, and the impeachment of President Trump has nothing to do with Joe Biden's conduct or Hunter Biden's conduct and everything to do with President Trump's conduct and the conduct of those around him. And so, as we have said, the folks that should be called or could potentially be called as witnesses and this trial are people with direct knowledge of what President Trump's actions were, his thought process. And to be frank, Hunter Biden nor Vice President Biden fall into that category.
I think what's important to reiterate here is that the basis of this impeachment, this impeachment inquiry and now this trial, is Donald Trump cooking up a conspiracy theory, a lie, and a smear about Vice President Biden and his son, Hunter, all because it seems as though Donald Trump is afraid to face Joe Biden at the ballot box this fall.
So we have to keep our eye on the ball. That's what we're doing. And we encourage others to do the same. Meaning, this is about President Trump. And now, it's on the Senate to do their job and we are hopeful that they will.
BURNETT: Of course, you know, it's about President Trump, but Vice President Biden, you know, in every story about it, right, his name is a part of it, because that's who President Trump was looking for information about. So you know, he's part of it in that regard, and also part of it in the sense of the race itself, Symone, right? I mean, the impeachment trial is going to mean Senator Sanders, Senator Elizabeth Warren, Senator Klobuchar are not going to be on the campaign trail, right?
Starting next Tuesday, that's it. They're going to be in Washington. They have to be there without their phones in their hands, not allowed to ask questions, sitting in a Senate trial, most likely through the Iowa caucuses.
And we -- you know, our most recent polls, Symone, you're well aware, you know polls better than anyone, shows a four-way statistical tie in Iowa between Sanders, Warren, Buttigieg, and Biden.
So how does this impeachment trial and the fact that two of the front- runners are gone from Iowa affect your strategy?
SANDERS: Erin, I want to be really clear. This impeachment is not a political game or a horse race or -- and this trial is not a horse race or about jockeying in the polls for who may come out on top in Iowa. This is a very, very -- you know, to quote as my AKA friends would say, this is a very serious matter.
The reason we are at this point we are now is for 200 years, every single president, Democrat or Republican, agreed that there should be not foreign interference in our elections. That was until president Trump. He stood on the White House lawn, inviting Ukraine and China to get some dirt on Joe Biden. And he apparently used the office of the presidency and our foreign policy to put pressure on a foreign government to dig up some lies and conspiracy theories about Joe Biden that there's just no "there" there about him or his son.
BURNETT: Symone -- SANDERS: This is not about us. Now, Vice President Biden is going to
continue to be out there on the campaign trail. But this again is not about us, this is about Donald Trump.
BURNETT: Very quickly before we go, you know Bernie Sanders well, right, because you worked with him. You know that Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren had been silent about this feud, right? Warren says Sanders told her in 2018 that a woman couldn't be elected president. Sanders said anyone who said any such thing was a liar.
You were the national press secretary for Bernie Sanders in 2018, so you know him. Do you believe he would say something like that, Symone?
SANDERS: I don't have any insight into the meeting between Senator Sanders or Senator Warren or Senator Sanders' thought process. But this is what I can tell you.
Joe Biden absolutely believes that a woman can be president. He believes that a woman should be president right now, that Hillary Clinton beat Donald Trump and should be sitting in the White House as we speak.
BURNETT: All right, Symone. Thank you very much. I appreciate your time, and we'll be right back.
BURNETT: And thanks for joining us. Don't forget, you can watch OUTFRONT anytime, anywhere. Just go to CNN Go.
"AC360" with Anderson Cooper begins right now.