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THE BRIEF WITH BIANCA NOBILO

Trump Senate Immediately Trial Officially Begins; Watchdog: WH Broke Law By Withholding Ukraine Aid; Indicted Giuliani Associate Implicates Trump In Ukraine Scandal; Ukrainian Foreign Minister Says He Doesn't Trust Parnas; Putin Signs Decree Appointing Mikhail Mishustin As New PM; Iran Enriching More Uranium Now Than Before Nuclear Deal; Five Countries Demand Answers From Iran On Downed Flight; Australia Bushfires: Severe Storms Offer Relief But Spark New Fires, Power Outages; U.S. Senate Passes New Trade Deal With Canada, Mexico; Prince Harry Hosts Rugby Event At Buckingham Palace; Japanese Minister Makes Waves After Taking Paternity Leave. Aired 5-5:30p ET

Aired January 16, 2020 - 17:00:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[17:00:00]

BIANCA NOBILO, CNN HOST: Tonight, on "THE BRIEF," the impeachment trial to decide whether to remove U.S. President Donald Trump from office has begun.

Russian President Putin has appointed a new Prime Minister. Hear what some Russians have to say about it.

And several countries are demanding answers from Tehran in the investigation of the downed passenger plane.

Live from London, I am Bianca Nobilo, very warm welcome to the show. Now, for the third time in history, an impeachment trial of a U.S. President is

officially under way. The Senate took up the case against Donald Trump today, with somber and ceremonial oaths.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. CHUCK GRASSLEY (R-IA): Do you solemnly swear that in all things pertaining to the trial of the impeachment of Donald John Trump, President

of the United States, now pending, you will do impartial justice according to the constitution and the laws, so help you god?

JOHN ROBERTS, CHIEF JUSTICE OF THE UNITED STATES: I do.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NOBILO: Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts who will preside over the trial was sworn in first. He, in turn, then swore in Senators who will

begin hearing opening statements in the case on Tuesday afternoon.

Seven house managers delivered the articles of impeachment to the Senate earlier today. Adam Schiff, who acts as lead prosecutor accused Mr. Trump

of high crimes and misdemeanors.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): Donald J. Trump has abused the powers of the presidency. In that, using the powers of his high office, President Trump

solicited the interference of a foreign government, Ukraine, in the 2020 United States presidential election. In so doing, President Trump use the

powers of the presidency in a manner that compromised the national security of the United States and undermined the integrity of the United States

democratic process.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NOBILO: President Trump spoke to reporters a short time ago, dismissing his impeachment trial as totally partisan.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, I think we should go over it quickly. It's a hoax. It's a hoax. Everybody knows that. It's a

complete hoax.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NOBILO: Yet, even as the trial begins, new information is still surfacing. A government watchdog agency issued a report today saying that the Trump

administration broke the law by withholding security aid to Ukraine. It said quote, "Faithful execution of the law does not permit the president to

substitute his own policy priorities for those that Congress has enacted into law."

So how lawmakers are reacting to the report? For the most part, along party lines.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. CHRIS VAN HOLLEN (D-MD): This is a bombshell as we head into the senate trial. Because this established conclusively from an independent,

nonpartisan agency, the GAO, that the Trump administration violated the law when they withheld money from Ukraine. And we know from other public

documents that it was the president who ordered that violation. So he made an order to commit an illegal act.

REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): These are taxpayer dollars going to another country that people believe there was corruption with the new

administration. I think it was the rightful thing to do.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NOBILO: Democrats say that the new report strengthens their argument that all relevant evidence must be examined in the trial and witnesses must be

heard. But many Republicans don't appear moved, including one who brushed off CNN's own Manu Raju.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Senator McSally, should the Senate consider new evidence as part of the impeachment trial?

SEN. MARTHA MCSALLY (R-AZ): Manu, you're a liberal hack. I'm not talking to you.

RAJU: You're not going to comment? About this?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NOBILO: we're joined now by political correspondent, Sara Murray. Sara, with the new evidence coming forward, seemingly by the day, do we expect

Republicans to continue opposing testimony from new witnesses? Has the needle moved on this at all?

SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, they have been moved by these bombshells, that as you pointed out, do keep coming out. They're

certainly not letting that on in any of these hallway interviews that they've been doing so far.

You know, we've been hearing Senator after Senator essentially saying that this was the House's job to investigate this. Perhaps they didn't do a

thorough job, but it is not our job over here in the Senate to bring in new evidence.

Now, of course, this could change. They - the Democrats only need to pick off a couple of Republicans to allow witnesses and they have not had this

vote yet on whether to allow them. So the Senators will have an opportunity to cast their vote on this issue, if they do decide to change their minds.

But, again, I think that those folks who might be thinking of allowing a vote for witnesses are keeping their view on it pretty closely held. Nobody

is coming out and saying, all of a sudden this bombshell today has changed my mind. And I think that there's a risk for Democrats too. If they do vote

to allow witnesses, you can have Republicans summoning witnesses that might be uncomfortable for Democrats, for instance, Hunter Biden.

NOBILO: Thanks Sara, Sara Murray, there for us as the sun sets on Washington.

[17:05:00]

Now, it remains to be seen if an indicted associate of President Trump's personal attorney could be a game changer for this impeachment trial, or

even a witness. Lev Parnas insists Mr. Trump was fully aware of the pressure campaign on Ukraine. And he tells my colleague Anderson Cooper,

that it was never about rooting out corruption. It was all about Mr. Trump's reelection. Details now from CNN's Alex Marquardt.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The indicted associate of Rudy Giuliani turning on his old boss, and the man

they were working so hard for in Ukraine, President Trump.

LEV PARNAS, INDICTED GIULIANI ASSOCIATE: I idolized him. I mean, I thought he was the savior.

MARQUARDT (voice over): Lev Parnas says everyone knew what was going on in Ukraine, including Trump. During a media blitz that helped show prosecutors

he's willing to cooperate, Parnas revealing how significant the pressure was in the quid pro quo with Ukraine - investigate the Bidens or else--

PARNAS: If they didn't make the announcement, basically, there would be no relationship.

MARQUARDT (voice over): The Ukrainian born Parnas says he told officials in Kiev, there would be no military aid or a White House meeting for the new

president unless they announced the Biden investigation.

PARNAS: The only thing we cared about - we were the team was to get Zelensky or Poroshenko or somebody to make a press release, an announcement

into the Biden investigation.

MARQUARDT (voice over): Also in the balance, Parnas said, with the attendance of Vice President Mike Pence at Zelensky's inauguration, no

announcement, no Pence.

PARNAS: Pence wouldn't be at the inauguration and there would be no visit to the White House. There would be basically - they would have no

communication.

MARQUARDT (voice over): There was no announcement and Pence canceled his trip.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: In terms of who knew about what you were doing in in Ukraine, did Vice President Pence know?

PARNAS: Of course.

MARQUARDT (voice over): Pence's his office responded that Parnas will say anything to stay out of prison. Trump has denied knowing Parnas, despite

numerous photos showing the two together.

PARNAS: Every time he says it I'll show him another picture.

COOPER: He's lying.

PARNAS: He's lying.

MARQUARDT (voice over): The administration is also accusing Parnas of lying in these new interviews.

KELLYANNE CONWAY, COUNSELOR TO THE U.S. PRESIDENT: Nobody on TV like that is under oath. And he, obviously, is desperate to get attention--

MARQUARDT (voice over): Claiming his credibility is in question, since he's been charged with four counts of campaign finance violations.

PARNAS: I thought they're going to shut me up, make me look like the scapegoat and try to blame me for stuff that I wasn't on.

MARQUARDT (voice over): The massive trove of documents that Parnas handed over to House Democrats reveals a second quid pro quo that Parnas says he

was working on - get Trump to remove the corruption fighting U.S. Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, and in exchange, the top Ukrainian prosecutor

would offer help with the Bidens.

Text messages between Parnas and Robert Hyde, a Republican congressional candidate in Connecticut, suggest that Hyde was offering surveillance or

worse of Yovanovitch. They're willing to help if we/you would like a price. Hyde texted. Guess you can do anything in the Ukraine with money.

Parnas and Hyde have denied anything nefarious was carried out. But today Ukraine announced an investigation into the possible surveillance of

Yovanovitch and FBI agents visited Hyde's home and business as part of their investigation.

In the end, Parnas insists that everything he did was under Giuliani's instruction, and for the President's political gain.

PARNAS: That was the most important thing for him to stay on for another four years and keep the fight going. I mean, there was no other reason for

doing it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MARQUARDT: Now, Bianca, as you might imagine, the people that Parnas is now naming as being intricately, intimately involved in this pretty quid pro

quo are trying to keep their distance as much as possible - most notably, the President and the Vice President.

We have heard from both today, Vice President Mike Pence saying, I don't know the guy. Same sort of thing from President Trump in the Oval Office

when he was asked about Parnas' statements. He said that he has no idea who he is. That he's someone who's just appeared at fundraisers, someone that

he's taken pictures with before. And, of course, I the President, have taken thousands of pictures.

Now, we should note that there is notable silence from one corner - the State Department, which of course is the boss of Marie Yovanovitch, and

they have not commented on her security, despite the fact that she has been a loyal and admired diplomat for some three decades. Bianca?

NOBILO: Thanks, Alex. Alex Marquardt, there for us. Appreciate your supporting.

And reminder, you can watch Anderson Cooper's full interview with Lev Parnas on Anderson Cooper 360. That's going to be at 9 a.m. in Hong Kong, 1

a.m. here in London, only here on CNN.

A key Ukrainian official is responding to claims by Lev Parnas, the U.S. President Trump was directly involved in the alleged Ukraine pressure

campaign through his personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani. The country's foreign minister spoke exclusively with our Christiane Amanpour, and he didn't

mince words.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

VADYM PRYSTAIKO, UKRAINIAN FOREIGN MINISTER: Frankly, I never spoke with this individual. And, again, frankly, I don't trust any word he is now

saying.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NOBILO: As we heard earlier, Ukraine is investigating the possibility of people trying to help Donald Trump may have illegally spied on former U.S.

Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch that's after the U.S. House Intelligence Committee released those text messages - that you can see there between

Panas and Robert Hyde, which hinted it. I also asked our Fred Pleitgen how the Ukrainians are treating this.

[17:10:00]

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi there, Bianca. Well, I think the Ukrainians are taking this investigation very

seriously. They say that after a lot of notes and messages were published by the permanent House Select Committee for intelligence.

That they believe, that some of those notes that were made public, and especially some of those text messages, may show a violation of Ukrainian

law. Because they say, they might have found illegal surveillance of Ambassador Yovanovitch in all of that.

I want to read you part of the statement that they put out. I think this is really a key part. They say, quote, "Ukraine's position is not to interfere

in the domestic affairs of the United States of America. However, the published references cited by the "Washington Post" contain a possible

violation of the law of Ukraine and the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, which protects the rights of a diplomat on the territory of a

foreign country."

So the Ukrainians are clearly saying they're responsible for the safety and security of Ambassador Yovanovitch, and also for the fact that she does not

get surveyed by private citizens on the territory of Ukraine.

Now, important also to point out, that the Ukrainian it's in this statement are also saying that they would like cooperation from U.S. authorities and

are asking for the U.S. to get back to them as fast as possible. All this of course, Bianca, as the State Department has been asked by CNN on various

occasions to comment on this and whether or not they want to launch an investigation, and they have not gotten back to us.

The Ukrainians, by the way, not only investigating the matter of possible surveillance of Ambassador Yovanovitch, but also now have launched an

investigation into the hack of Burisma, which of course, some believe may have been conducted by the Russians, and they're also asking for the U.S.

to help in that investigation as well, Bianca.

NOBILO: Thanks to Fred Pleitgen there. And we're going to talk more about this in less than 10 minutes with the former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine at

John Herbst.

Now, Russia's parliament has approved the country's new Prime Minister, as a major political shake up redefines the entire government there. Mikhail

Mishustin, previously the Head of the Federal Tax Service is now Prime Minister. Also President Vladimir Putin signed the decree on Thursday. His

rise to Prime Minister comes after his predecessor and the rest of the government resigned abruptly on Wednesday. Some Russians have mixed

reactions to the news.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (via translator): That was to be expected. It fits into the concept of the country's development, not in words, but in deeds. It's

a very clear and specific step. I have deep respect for Mishustin. He is a very particular, educated and smart person.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (via translator): A new generation should come into politics. People aged 40 through 45 should be in the government and in the

presidency, as Putin was when he just came into power.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (via translator): They do not love people, that's the problem. Look at how poor people have become. Every ministry, he tries to

save money on whom? On the people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NOBILO: These moves are designed to clear the way for changes to the constitution. Amendments proposed by Mr. Putin would effectively strengthen

the powers of Parliament and the Prime Minister at the expense of the presidency.

Now, Iran's president says that the country is enriching more uranium now than it did before it signed the international nuclear deal. Hassan Rouhani

announced Thursday, the country's nuclear industry is better off and more productive and it was previously.

The nuclear deal is on life support and Iran's foreign minister accuses Europe of bowing to U.S. pressure. France, Germany and the U.K. say that

they felt compelled to trigger a formal dispute mechanism, because they could no longer leave quote, "growing Iranian violations unanswered."

Meanwhile, five countries are banding together to pressure Iran about Ukrainian plane shot down in Tehran last week. Ministers from Canada,

Sweden, Ukraine, Afghanistan and the U.K. have outlined their demands. They're calling for Iran to take full responsibility and provide complete

transparency of the investigation.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FRANCOIS-PHILIPPE CHAMPAGNE, CANADIAN MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS: In the wake of such a horrific tragedy, there are many, many questions. Families

want answers. All of the countries assembled here today want answers and the international community wants answers. The world is waiting for those

answers, and we will not rest until we get them.

[17:15:00]

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NOBILO: Ukraine has identified the bodies of 11 of its citizens who were killed when the plane was shot down and is working to bring those remains

home.

Severe storms in Australia are bringing some welcome relief to cruise battling some of the worst bushfires the country has seen in decades, but

they're also posing problems. Lightning has sparked new fires. More than 10,000 houses and businesses lost power and forecasters worry about flash

flooding. Still, the rain is falling where it's needed and more is expected to fall in the coming days.

And still to come on the program tonight, movements tracked, devices monitored, was someone spying on the Ambassador to Ukraine? Next, we'll

talk with someone who held the job before Marie Yovanovitch.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

NOBILO: More now on those concerns that someone was spying on the former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch. Ukraine, as you heard, is

launching a criminal investigation, and in the U.S., federal investigators visited the home and office of one of the key players, a Trump supporter

named Robert Hyde.

He says that text messages imply that Yovanovitch was being watched, and these text messages were a joke. John Herbst was the U.S. Ambassador to

Ukraine from 2003 to 2006 and he is now a Director Eurasia Center at the Atlantic Council in Washington. He joins me for today's Ukraine "Debrief."

Thank you very much for joining the program, ambassador. Good to have you.

JOHN HERBST, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO UKRAINE: My pleasure, thank you.

NOBILO: You, obviously, have a singular perspective on this issue, having been the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine yourself. So, what was your

reaction when up heard Ukrainian government announce that they were going to undertake a criminal investigation about whether or not one of your

successors was spied on?

HERBST: Well, certainly an American ambassador in Ukraine is used to being spied on by the Russians and maybe other intelligence services. The

possibility that the ambassador is being spied on by a private American is outrageous. But, of course, we don't know if this was similarly ridiculous

bragging by the part of Mr. Hyde or real. But the Ukrainians seem to be taking this seriously or the Ministry of Interior seem to be taking this

seriously.

NOBILO: And then ambassador, how unique and unprecedented would it be - I don't want to speculate too much, but, in fact, it was proven that the U.S.

was spying on its own ambassador?

HERBST: Well, I don't know if you can say the U.S. would be spying on its ambassador. It would be this individual and maybe he thought he was doing

someone's bidding. And, again, if this is true, it's outrageous. But it's not clear that it's true. Again, it could be just ridiculous bragging.

NOBILO: Could you give us some insight into some of the challenges that you face as an ambassador? Because from the outside hearing about this, the

idea of somebody encountering physical surveillance of people watching them and spying on them, obviously sounds extreme. So what does it like to be in

that position?

[17:20:00]

HERBST: Well, anyone who worked at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow in Soviet times or under Putin's regime is used to being spied on by Russian special

services. And the Russian special services reached deeply into Ukraine.

And I know I was being watched closely by Moscow's agents when I was ambassador in Ukraine. We know that that was true also in recent years when

Masha Yovanovitch was there or Jeff Piatt. So we're used to that.

What is completely incredible is the notion, again that an American would be spying on the American ambassador in a foreign country. So, hopefully,

the story is not true. If it is, it needs to be thoroughly investigated.

NOBILO: In your experience when you were Ambassador in Ukraine, did you get the feeling that you were being spied on in the circumstances that you

outlined?

HERBST: Sure, at least twice. Russian media carried transcripts of by phone calls with Ukrainians. But I did not need the them to publish these

transcripts to know that I was being watched.

NOBILO: Right. Now, Ukraine, obviously are trying to take responsibility for this. They don't want to violate the Vienna Convention, I believe,

which protects other diplomats and ambassadors in in the country that we're discussing, which is here, Ukraine. The fact that the U.S. State Department

haven't commented on this, I believe, they still haven't commented on this. How do you interpret that?

HERBST: Well, I think it would be a good thing. If the Department, as an institution or senior Department official were to say that the concept of

an American ambassador being spied upon by American citizens is outrageous, should be prevented. And, in fact, if it happened, the individual

responsible should be prosecuted.

NOBILO: Now, the Ukrainians have asked the American government, the State Department for assistance in this investigation. Would the State Department

be keeping their involvement in this fairly secretive or would it be likely that they would come out and declare that they're going to be helping in

this investigation? Because, obviously, we don't always know what's going on, because some of these things are highly sensitive.

HERBST: It's hard to say. I could see a reason why they'd want to do this discreetly. But it's also true, again, given the unfair treatment of

Ambassador Yovanovitch, a statement by the Department or senior official is completely required, completely in order.

NOBILO: And what impact, if any, do you feel like the impeachment proceedings that are going on the United States are having in Ukraine and

in government circles and in the population?

HERBST: Well, the key point here is this. American interest demands strong, strong support for Ukraine as it fights Kremlin aggression, because Putin's

objectives go well beyond Ukraine and threaten major American interests. The impeachment fight here, has given life to crazy anti-Ukrainian

narratives regarding Ukraine's interference - alleged interference in our 2016 election, or regarding the alleged bad activity of Vice President

Biden when he was, in fact, fighting corruption.

And this false narrative or these false narratives, undermine American support for Ukraine. It hasn't happened yet. I don't think it will happen.

But, nonetheless, it's a potential danger, and the Ukrainians recognize this, which is why they are deeply concerned by the impeachment fight.

NOBILO: John Herbst, former Ambassador to the Ukraine, thank you very much for joining us today on the program.

HERBST: Thank you. My pleasure.

NOBILO: Really appreciate your insights.

Today, in a rare bipartisan vote, the Senate overwhelmingly approved the U.S.-Mexico-Canada agreement. The new deal replaces the 26-year-old North

American Free Trade Agreement or NAFTA, as we know better.

U.S. President Trump campaigned in 2016 on renegotiating NAFTA, calling it the worst trade deal ever made. The critics say that the revised bill lacks

environmental protections and doesn't address climate change. It now goes to Mr. Trump's desk or his signature.

And when "The Brief" returns, how one man in Japan is stirring up a debate about paternity leave in his country.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:25:00]

NOBILO: Prince Harry is back on royal duty, although we don't know for how much longer. He hosted a major rugby league event at Buckingham Palace and

he watched children from the local school play rugby, as well.

It was the prince's first public appearance since he announced that he was curtailing his royal activities and moving to Canada part-time. His wife,

Meghan, is already getting involved in women's causes in Canada. Today, she visited a nonprofit in Vancouver called "Justice for Girls."

And we end tonight with a story of a man who is taking two weeks' paternity leave when his first child is born. And nothing too unusual there, right?

Except that this is a government minister and it's happening in Japan.

Shinjiro Koizumi is the country's environment minister and the first cabinet minister to make such a move. He is also tipped to be a future

Prime Minister of the country. It's unusual, because father's rarely take time off in Japan, and that's not because it's not an option for them. It's

because Japan has one of the world's most generous time off allowances for new fathers, which is a whole year. But this is because the country's work

culture.

It means that many people don't take up the option. So, the government data says that only 6% of fathers took their leave in 2018 and Koizumi said that

in the future, he hopes that they'll have a society where a politician's paternity leave doesn't make the news.

That's "THE BRIEF." I am Bianca Nobilo and "World Sports" is up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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