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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
Schumer Proposes Amendment To Subpoena State Department Docs Related To Impeachment; GOP's Collins "Likely" To Support Witnesses In Senate Trial; House Managers, Trump Legal Team Debate Rules. Aired 5- 6p ET
Aired January 21, 2020 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: We waited to hear the case.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: I'm not saying she doesn't have an explanation. You don't get to add to the FCC ad, it's all I'm saying.
BORGER: But that's she did it today, and she has to explain it. And when you're explaining in politics, you are losing.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
BORGER: So it is difficult. One thing I want to talk about though is some of the misstatements, lies that keep coming up again and again and again from the President's lawyer. And I know that Adam Schiff has countered this directly, but Mr. Cipollone said that not even Mr. Schiff's Republican colleagues were allowed into the SCIF, the secure location. And that is not true. Every single Republican on three investigative committees were allowed into, that and Mr. Schiff came back and he said actually 100 Republicans who participated --
TAPPER: One hundred members of Congress.
BORGER: Hundred -- sorry, 100 members of Congress, not 100 Republicans, hundred members of Congress, who participated. And so we see these things. We circulate it, because the general argument is the Democrats with their majority over there were so unfair to the President and to the Republicans that the process itself is so tainted and so political that therefore you are rejected, outright no matter the case is. And they are not talking about the case.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: I just want to point out that we are waiting there in a recess, a very brief recess. Here is Chuck Schumer.
SENATOR CHUCK SCHUMER, (D) MINORITY LEADER: Now, it's 2:00 in the morning. It's good they admitted evidence, but the real test will be witnesses and documents. Will our Republican senators put pressure on McConnell so that we really have witnesses and documents produced either now or after the arguments are made?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Leaders -- SCHUMER: And one other point -- I'm not answering questions. One other point which is this, we are hearing a lot of arguments from President's counsel. None of them directly address why there shouldn't be witnesses and documents. They talk about how bad the House is. I don't agree with that at all, but they don't argue, one. They don't make a single argument why there shouldn't be witnesses and documents and that speaks volumes. Thank you.
BLITZER: All right, so there's Chuck Schumer, the Senate Minority Leader, the top Democrat in the Senate. They just introduced a second amendment to subpoena certain department of state documents and records. The first amendment as you know, it failed 53-47, by all accounts. The second one will fail as well. I just want your thoughts, Jeffrey on the presentations we're hearing from the House managers, the Democrats versus the presentations we're hearing from the President's counsels.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: You know, I don't want to sound like a partisan, but the Democrats have been so much better. It's not even a close comparison as far as I can tell. You know, Adam Schiff knows the facts, you know. That is something that you can't fake. I mean, you know, a lot of what he is doing is off of the cuff.
He's responding to the arguments. Most of the lawyers have been just reading, reading presentations. Jay Sekulow for the President knows the facts well, and is, I think a very effective lawyer. Pat Cipollone, less so, Mr. Philbin, not ready for primetime, but -- or the afternoon as the case may be. But, you know, I think Adam Schiff, you know, is just in-charge of the -- you know, he's acting like a lead prosecutor.
And I think that Congresswoman Lofgren while not as theatrical performer, you know, she had a very good argument to make. And I thought she made it very effectively, because what she did was that she went through the evidence and said, there would be evidence -- there would be e-mails associated with these meetings. There would be documents that are relevant here. And she showed exactly where. You did -- it looks like we're not going to see him at least to this stage in the trial.
TAPPER: Carrie, let me ask you because obviously impeachment is not just a matter even the trial of the facts and the evidence. It's also a political matter. Adam Schiff is a former prosecutor and I see why a lot of people think that he is effective. I also think that a lot of Republicans see him as a very partisan Democrat.
Do you think that given the fact that really the audience here that we're talking about is maybe one or two Democrats or who are iffy like Manchin and the Sinema of Arizona, and maybe four or five Republicans, do you think that Adam Schiff is the right person regardless of his command to the facts? I'm talking about the politics of it to go after and win over these six senators in the middle?
CARRIE CORDERO, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I think that because he is -- actually, because he does know the facts, and because he is an effective orator, and he is effective at making this presentation. And he really does come across that he truly believes in what he is saying I think that makes him an effective advocate.
I think that Congressman Lofgren also was very effective in terms of her preparation. She clearly prepared and understood and was able to communicate in a very accessible way the history and some of the historical precedents that are in play here today. So I think that he is effective.
The only thing that I worry about Congressman Schiff is that in the long term, it -- serving in this role hurts his leadership of the intelligence committee. I think it will be hard for him to go back and work on intelligence matters. And that committee will struggle with how to move beyond the partisanship of the impeachment hearing. But I think that he is effective.
I do want to come back though for a second to appoint that Gloria made earlier. And because there is a diff -- as a matter of lawyering, there is a difference of being a really strong advocate and an effective advocate as a lawyer, and lying --
CORDERO: -- or misstating the truth. And if this was actual trial with a judge who was actually going to be more active, a lawyer who knowingly appeared before that proceeding and misstated the facts in a way that is so obvious for anyone who knows (ph) all the facts.
TAPPER: You are talking about the president's lawyers, Carrie?
CORDERO: I'm talking about for the president's lawyers.
TAPPER: Sekulow and Cipollone.
CORDERO: Cipollone and Philbin.
TAPPER: And Philbin.
CORDERO: Cipollone and Philbin who misstated quite obviously the presence of Republican members in the closed hearings in the House. That is just not OK, as a lawyer, to misstate the facts in that way, when they know I think what they are doing. And it is just something that goes beyond the step of forceful advocacy of a lawyer.
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: But that again is something that some of those Republican senators were going to watch. That's what privately they tell you about whether it's the President in his tweets or the President's in thing or the President's lawyers throughout the process. They don't like what they view as misstatements and sometimes outright lies from the White House. The question is does it affect them?
TAPPER: Well, that's the thing is they say they don't like it when they are talking privately to you or me. But they did they do anything about it? And Jamie can't go and that is the question like when the Republican senators if they don't already know the facts of the case, and then that might be.
They have -- they're doing other things. When they find out, oh, wait a second, you mean there were, you know, more than 40 House Republicans that were allowed into the secure area to hear that testimony? Oh, wait, the President refused to participate? It's not like he didn't have an opportunity. Will that -- will they, the Republican senators, hold that against the President's defense team?
JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: So, I think they know something else. And that is the President's defense team has an audience of one, Donald Trump. And that's who they are playing to. I think it is true, Jake, what you said, they haven't followed every single moment.
They were not watching all of the testimony the way we were, but they were watching the recaps of it. And they were watching the highlights. They know the basic points here. The real question at the end of the day, I think, will be the question of these witnesses which Mitch McConnell has made clear he does not want.
In a closed door luncheon, he said to the Republican conference, it's going to be very unpleasant. It was the word he used couple of weeks. And I don't know about the rest of you, but I like to get through unpleasant things as quickly as possible.
And that's what he is trying to do. Will there be a break somewhere along the line? Will Susan Collins had said in her statement she is likely to want to see witnesses? Do they get to that magic number?
BLITZER: And it seems now, Michael Gerhardt, this is going to go on not only the rest of this week, but most of next week at a minimum. And if there are witnesses, it will go even longer. Remember the Bill Clinton impeachment trial, there are all witnesses. It went five weeks.
MICHAEL GERHARDT, IMPEACHMENT HEARING WITNESS: Yes, and again, the House managers made the point that in every prior impeachment trial, certainly every prior impeachment trial of president had witnesses. So they are reminding everybody of the history.
The other thing I think this worth maybe making note of is that I think the Democrats have been more aware of this than the Republicans. They are aware that as time goes by, there are going to be more revelations. And these other revelations that happen are not going to help the President. So the more the Democrats hammer home the evidence and the Republicans pretend like it is not there, in the long run, the Republicans will look bad because of that.
TAPPER: And yes, let's talk about that, Gloria, because the truth of the matter is John Bolton's book is going to come out, right? And we are going to hear at some point, there's going to more leaks, more investigations by journalists if not by the Senate and the House.
And we are going to find out ultimately even more than we know right now. And how much will that be damaging to the Republicans who vote against more evidence, more witnesses, the vulnerable Republicans who come from states where the re-elections going to be tough already.
BORGER: Right. I think it will be damaging. And I think that's why you have some of those vulnerable Republican saying, like Susan Collins, saying, I want these witnesses so she has an opportunity to hear, and then maybe change her mind. I mean, we have, you know, we don't know. The whole thing about this impeachment is that it has been such a dynamic process, so unpredictable, changing day-to-day.
Bolton may testify, the Washington Post reports, Bolton could testify in a classified setting. Who knows who the Republicans are going to ask for if they get their witnesses, and I presume they'll want one for one, we don't know. Will they're going to ask for Hunter Biden, whatever.
I think that's why the White House is backing away from the details, backing away from the specifics here and sticking to a message, which is this is partisan and I'm looking at something that Pat Cipollone said, he said a partisan impeachment is like stealing an election, there you go. That's a Donald Trump phrase. He also said, if they can do this to a president, they can do it to any American citizen. Do what? Have an unfair trial? Impeach?
TAPPER: Impeach them.
BORGER: Or have an unfair trial?
TAPPER: Or your neck.
BORGER: OK. Have an unfair trial. So I think what they are trying to do is hammer in this message of unfairness and process and the President being the victim, the victim here of these radical left Democrats, and what the Democrats are doing is saying, just wait, when you hear maybe from, I'm ready to call John Bolton, I'm ready to call Mick Mulvaney, let's hear from the people who have the firsthand knowledge. It isn't hearsay. And so they're playing two different games.
NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: Yes. And the public at least is with the Democrats on this in terms of wanting to hear a witness is look like 70 percent of the American public, they want to hear witnesses. So, you know, we will see what ends up happening. You know, if -- and you said this before, Mitch McConnell does not necessarily care about where the American public feels on this.
BLITZER: He absolutely doesn't care.
HENDERSON: He wants to rush this process through. We saw that with his initial resolution, wanting it to go into the dead of night and wanting it to be a much shorter. And what is interesting though is how long can they keep sort of the process argument going, right? I mean there is all of this evidence.
BORGER: This, the Senate.
HENDERSON: Yes, and all of this evidence, and one of the things that what it's interesting for Adam Schiff is he, himself, served -- issued a warning to the senators saying all of these information is going to come out, right. It's either going to come out through FOIAs, it's going to come out through books, and we know that at John Bolton transcends has a book at some point. So that I think was a warning on near the -- a piece of his testimony. So -- And we also just know that during this process, not the witness through the FOIAs or John Bolton's book.
BLITZER: But let me ask you Jeffrey Toobin a question, if John Bolton, the President's former National Security Adviser, in a few months is going to release a book and he's going to write about all of this stuff, doesn't he have a responsibility to come forward at a sensitive moment like this in American history and volunteer and say I'm willing to tell the American people --
TOOBIN: He did.
BLITZER: -- even before -- but to actually come and do it, though.
BLITZER: And reject the advice he is getting from the White House?
TOOBIN: Well, you know, I think there's been an interesting evolution in Bolton's position. Because at first, he was saying, I'm writing my book but I'm not going to talk to Congress. And that was self- evidently outrageous. Now he has said, OK, Senate, if you subpoena me, I'll come, and I think that's a very responsible proposition.
BLITZER: Well, what I'm asking you, if without a subpoena, doesn't he still have a responsibility if he's going to say all of this in a book, at this sensitive moment to come and speak?
TOOBIN: But you can't just sort of show up, and -- I mean --
BLITZER: Well, that --
TOOBIN: -- you have -- I mean, I guess he could hold a press conference and talk about it.
GANGEL: John --
TOOBIN: But -- I'm sorry, go ahead, Jamie.
GANGEL: No, it gives him political cover. There's no question he could hold a press conference. He could write something, an op-ed, a statement and that might take care of in a press conference questions he doesn't want to answer. There are many ways he could come forward, but they wouldn't give him political cover, and that's why he wants this book out.
TAPPER: He needs cover because he needs people to buy his book. He needs to have a career after this is all over.
GANGEL: He wants -- yes, as a good Republican.
TAPPER: He can't have Republicans -- and this is what I -- this is my guess, he can't have Republicans who will be the ones to buy his book resenting him if he doesn't explain, I only did it because I was subpoenaed. I did it reluctant.
GANGEL: Well --
TOOBIN: But in fairness to John Bolton, this is a trial. And you don't just sort of show up.
TOOBIN: And, you know, stand on the sidewalk, and, you know, give evidence in the trial. You give evidence to the trial when you are called as a witness. And he has now said appropriately, if you call me I will be a witness. What's outrageous is when you have someone in Bolton's position who is clearly the most important witness in terms of what the President actually thought about these issues, and also it's worth saying parenthetically, there is a chance that it might backfire against the Democrats.
GANGEL: Well, that's the --
TOOBIN: So what? What matters is you get the relevant evidence and let the chips fall where they may. And so that's why it's so outrageous that the Republicans are not subpoenaing him.
TAPPER: Let me ask you a question, John King, because Senator Schumer, the Democratic Minority Leader said at the beginning in this day, what happens if the President's behavior is deemed acceptable by the U.S. Senate? What does that mean in terms of politicians, not just President, but any politician using a foreign country through whatever means to uncover dirt about his or her opponent? I mean just to ask you, what does happen?
KING: Well, let's hope that the next president, whether it's in a few months or in five years -- four or five years, doesn't think it's OK to call foreign leaders and say investigate Americans. Well, let's just put that on the record, I don't think anybody whether you're a Democrat or Republican, Independent thinks that American president should be calling foreign leaders and say, hey, you got any dirt on people who might run against me or who have a political agenda against me.
I do think, I do think in a leadership better as it to me, I do think the point about presidential respect for Congressional oversight, presidential respect for subpoenas, any president, Democrat or Republican or Independent down the road faced with the subpoena now would have a president. Donald Trump said no to everything, I'm going to say no to everything. I think that's a bigger danger. I don't think that Schumer thinks that you're going to have president just routinely calling around the world. I hope not to drum up dirt on your opponents.
BLITZER: It looks like the 10-minute recess half hour later is about to resume.
JOHN ROBERTS, CHIEF JUSTICE: -- or opponent.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Opponent, Mr. Chief Justice.
ROBERTS: Thank you, and Mr. Cipollone?
PAT CIPOLLONE, TRUMP'S LAWYER: Opponent.
ROBERTS: OK. Mr. Schiff, you have an hour and we'll be ever to reserve time for rebuttal.
REP. VAL DEMINGS (D-FL), IMPEACHMENT MANAGER: Chief Justice Roberts, Senators, Counsel for the White House. I am Val Demings from the State of Florida. The House managers strongly support the amendment to issue subpoena for documents to the State Department. As we explain the first Article of Impeachment charges the president with using the power of his office to solicit and pressure Ukraine, to announce investigations that everyone in this chamber knows to be bogus.
The president didn't even care if an investigation was actually conducted just that it was announced. Why? Because this was for his own personal and political benefit. The first article further charges that the president did so with corrupt motives and that his use of power for personal gain harmed the national security of the United States. As the second Article of Impeachment charges, the president sought to conceal evidence of this conduct.
He did so by ordering his entire administration, every office, every agency, every official to defy every subpoena served in the House impeachment inquiry. No president in history has ever done anything like this. Many presidents have expressly acknowledged that they couldn't do anything like this. President Trump did not take these extreme steps to hide evidence of his innocence or to protect the institution of the presidency.
As a career law enforcement officer, I have never seen anyone take such extreme steps to hide evidence allegedly proving his innocence and I do not find that here today. The president is engaged in this cover-up because he is guilty and he knows it. And he knows that the evidence he is concealing will only further demonstrate his culpability. Notwithstanding this effort to stonewall our inquiry, the House amassed powerful evidence of the president's high crimes and misdemeanors.
Seventeen witnesses, 130 hours of testimony combined with the president's own admissions on phone calls and in public comments, confirmed and corroborated by hundreds of texts, emails and documents. Much of that evidence came from patriotic non-partisan decorated officials in the state department. They are brave men and women who honor their obligations under the law and gave testimony required by Congressional subpoena in the face of the president's taunts and insults.
These officials described the president's campaign to induce and pressure Ukraine to announce political investigations. His use of $391 million of vital military aide, taxpayer money, appropriated on a bipartisan basis by Congress as leverage to force Ukraine to comply and is withholding of a meeting desperately sought by the newly elected president of the Ukraine. This testimony was particularly compelling because the state department is at the very center of President Trump's wrongdoing.
We heard first hand from diplomatic officials who saw up close and personnel - personal what was happening and who immediately - immediately sounded the alarms. Ambassador William Taylor who returned to Ukraine in June of last year as acting ambassador text other state department officials. I think it's crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign. Ambassador to the Ukraine - European Union, Gordon Sondland, who was delegated authority over Ukraine matters by none other than President Trump testify we knew these investigations were important to the president and we followed the president's orders.
And David Holmes, a senior official at the U.S. embassy in Kiev said it was made clear that some action on a Burisma-Biden investigation was a condition for an Oval Office meeting. During their testimony many of these State Department officials describe specific documents including text messages, emails, former diplomatic cables and notes that would corroborate their testimony and shed additional light on President Trump's corrupt scheme.
For instance, Ambassador Taylor who raised concerns that military aid had been conditioned on the president's demand for political investigations described a little notebook in which he would take notes on conversations he had with key officials.
Ambassador Sondland referred by date and recipient to e-mails regarding the president's demand that Ukraine announce political investigations. As we'll see through e-mails that were sent to some of President's Trump's top advisors including acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, Secretary of State Michael Pompeo, and Secretary of Energy Rick Perry.
Deputy Assistant Secretary of State George Kent who oversaw Ukraine policy matters (ph) in Washington for the State Department wrote at least four memos to file (ph) to document concerning conduct he witnessed or heard.
And Ambassador Kurt Volker, the Special Representative for Ukraine Negotiations provided evidence that he and other American officials communicated with high level Ukrainian officials, including President Zelenksy himself via text message and WhatsApp, about the president's improper demands and how Ukrainian officials would respond to them. [17:25:00]
Based on the testimony we received and on evidence that has since emerged all of these documents and others that we will describe, they are directly on the allegations set forth in the first article of impeachment.
They would help complete our understanding of how the president's scheme unfolded in real time. They would support the conclusion that senior Ukrainian officials understood the corrupt nature of President Trump's demand, and they would further expose the extent to which Secretary Pompeo, Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, and other senior Trump administration officials were aware of the president's plot and helped carry it out.
We're not talking about a burdensome number of documents, we are talking about a specific, discreet set of materials held by the State Department. Documents the State Department has already collected in response to our subpoena, but has never produced. We know these materials exist, we know they are relevant, and we know the president is desperately trying to conceal them. As I will describe the Senate should subpoena the following -- number one, WhatsApp and other text message communications -- two, e-mails -- three, diplomatic cables (ph), and four, notes.
Given the significance and relevance of these documents, the House requested that they be provided. When these requests were denied -- when our requests were denied the House issued subpoenas commanding that the documents be turned over.
But at the president's direction, the Department of State unlawfully defied that subpoena, and I stand here now -- as I stand here now, the State Department has all these documents in its possession, but refuses, based on the president's order to let them see the light of day.
This is an affront to the House, which has full power to see these documents. It is an affront to the Senate which has been denied a full record on which to judge the president's guilt or innocence, and it is an affront to the Constitution which states (ph) clearly that nobody, not even the president is above the law. And it is an affront to the American people, who have a right to know what the president and his allies are hiding from them -- and why it is being hidden.
In prior impeachment trials this body has issued subpoenas requiring the recipient to hand over relevant documents, it must do so again here, and it must do so now at the beginning of the trial -- not the end.
Of course the need for a Senate subpoena arises because, as I've noted, the president ordered the State Department to defy a subpoena from the House. At this point I'd like to briefly describe our own efforts to get those materials. I'll then address in a more detailed fashion exactly what documents the State Department has hidden from the American people, and why the Senate should require it to turn them over. On September 9, exercising their article one oversight authority the House Investigating Committee sought (ph) document request -- sent a document request to the State Department. The Committee sought materials related to the president's effort to pressure Ukraine to announce investigations in to his political rival, as well as his dangerous unexplained withholding of millions of dollars in vital military aid.
After the State Department failed to produce any documents, the House Committee on Foreign Affairs issued a subpoena to the State Department on September 27. In a letter on October 1, Secretary Pompeo acknowledged receipt of the subpoena. At that time he stated that he would respond to the Committee's subpoena for documents by the return date, October 4 -- but his response never came.
Instead on October 8, President Trump's lawyer, writing (ph) on the president's behalf, issued a direction confirming that the administration would stonewall the impeachment inquiry. Today the State Department has not produced a single document -- not a single document in response to the Congressional subpoena.
But witnesses have testified -- who testified indicated that the State Department had gathered all of the records and was prepared to produce -- provide them before the White House directed it to defy the subpoena.
Notwithstanding this unlawful obstruction through the testimony of brave State Department employees, the House was able to identify with remarkable precision several categories of documents relevant to the first article of impeachment that are sitting right now -- right now, these documents are sitting right now at the State Department.
I'd like to walk you through four key categories of documents that should be subpoenaed and which illustrate the highly relevant documents the State Department could produce immediately -- they could produce them immediately for this trial.
The first category consists of WhatsApp and other text messages from State Department officials caught up in this -- these events, including Ambassador Sondland and Taylor, and also Deputy Assistant Secretary George Kent, all three of whom confirm in their testimony that they regularly use WhatsApp to communicate with each other and foreign government officials.
As Deputy Assistant Secretary Kent explained, WhatsApp is a dominant form of electronic communication in certain parts of the world. We know that the State Department possesses the records of WhatsApp and text messages from critical eyewitnesses to these proceedings, including from Ambassador Sondland and Taylor and Deputy Assistant Secretary Kent.
We know that the department is deliberately, deliberately concealing these records at the direction of the president. And we know that they could contain highly relevant testimony about the president's plan to condition official presidential acts on the announcements of investigations for his own personal and political gain.
We know this not only from testimony but also because Ambassador Volker was able to provide us with a small but telling selection of his WhatsApp messages. Those records, confirmed with a full review of these texts and WhatsApp messages from relevant officials, would help to paint a vivid first-hand picture of statements, decisions, concerns, and beliefs held by important players of events unfolding in real time.
For example, thanks to Ambassador Volker's messages, we know that Ambassador Sondland, a key player in the president's pressure campaign, who testified in the House about a quid pro quo arrangement, texted directly with the Ukrainian president, President Zelensky.
This image, produced by Ambassador Volker, appears to be a screenshot of a text message that Ambassador Sondland exchange with President Zelensky about plans for the White House visit, the very same visit that President Zelensky badly needed, and that President Trump later withheld as part of the quid pro quo described by Ambassador Sondland in his testimony.
This body and the American people have a right to know what else Ambassador Sondland and President Zelensky said in this and other relevant exchanges about the White House needing -- or about the military aid and the president's demand. But we don't know exactly what was conveyed and when. We don't know if President Trump directed the State Department to conceal these vital records.
These are records that the State Department would have otherwise turned over, if not for the president's direction and desire to cover up his wrongdoing. To get a sense of why texts and WhatsApp messages are so vital, just consider whether another piece of evidence we've gleaned from Ambassador Volker's partial production.
On July 10th, at the White House meetings at which Ambassador Sondland pressure Ukrainian officials to announce investigations of President Trump's political opponents, a Ukrainian governmental official texted Ambassador Volker: "I feel that the key for many things is Rudy, and I am ready to talk with him at any time."
This is evidence that immediately following Ambassador Sondland's ultimatum, Ukrainian officials recognized that they needed to appease Rudy Giuliani by carrying out the investigations. Of course, Mr. Giuliani had publicly confirmed that he was not engaged in foreign policy but it was instead advancing his clients, the president's own personal interest.
Further, in another text message exchange provided by Ambassador Volker, we see evidence that Ukraine understood President Trump's demands loud and clear. On the morning of July 25th, half an hour before the infamous call between President Trump and President Zelensky, Ambassador Volker wrote to a senior Ukrainian official: "Heard from White House, assuming President Z convinces Trump he will investigate, get to the bottom of what happened in 2016, we will nail down date for visit to Washington, good luck, see you tomorrow, Kurt."
Ambassador Sondland confirmed that this text accurately summarized the president's directive to him earlier that morning. After the phone call between President Trump and President Zelensky, the Ukrainian official responded pointedly: "Phone call went well." He then discussed potential dates for a White House meeting. Then the very next day Ambassador Volker wrote to Rudy Giuliani: "Exactly the right messages, as we discussed."
These messages confirmed Mr. Giuliani's central role, the premeditated nature of President Trump's solicitation of political investigation and the pressure campaign on Ukraine, waged by Mr. Giuliani and senior officials at President Trump's direction.
Again, there is just -- this is just some of what we learned from Ambassador Volker's records. As you will see during this trial presentation, there were numerous WhatsApp messages in August, while ambassadors Volker and Sondland, and Mr. Giuliani were pressuring President Zelensky's top aide to issue a statement announcing the investigations that President Trump wanted.
And Ambassador Taylor's texts that you saw earlier about withholding the aid further reveals how much more material there likely is that relates to the Articles of Impeachment.
There can be no doubt that a full production of relevant texts and WhatsApp messages from other officials involved in Ukraine and in touch with Ukrainian officials, including Ambassador Sondland, Ambassador Taylor, and Deputy Assistant Secretary Kent, would further illuminate the malfeasance addressed in our first article.
This leads to the second category of documents that the State Department is lawfully -- unlawfully withholding: emails involving key State Department officials concerning interactions with senior Ukrainian officials and relating to military aid, a White House meeting, and the president's demand for investigations into his rivals.
For example, on July 19th, Ambassador Gordon Sondland spoke directly with President Zelensky about the upcoming July 25th call between President Trump and President Zelensky. Ambassador Sondland then sent an email updating key officials about Secretary Pompeo -- including Secretary Pompeo, acting White House Chief of Staff Mulvaney, and his senior advisor Robert Blair.
In this email he noted that he prepared President Zelensky who was willing to make the announcements of political investigations that President Trump desired. Secretary Perry and Mick Mulvaney then responded to Sondland, acknowledging they received the email and recommending to move forward with the phone call that became the July 25 call between the presidents of the United States and Ukraine.
We know all of this not because the State Department provided us with critical document, but instead because Ambassador Sondland provided us a reproduction of the email. It is public testimony Ambassador Sondland quite correctly explained that this email demonstrated quote, everyone was in the loop.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SONDLAND: Everyone was in the loop. It was no secret. Everyone was informed via email on July 19th, days before the presidential call. As I communicated to the team, I told President Zelensky in advance that assurances to run a fully transparent investigation and turn over every stone were necessary in his call with President Trump.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DEMINGS: Even viewed alone, this reproduced email is damning. It was sent shortly after Ambassador Sondland personally conveyed the president's demand for investigations to Ukrainians at the White House, leading several officials to sound alarms.
It was sent just a few days before the July 25 call where President Trump asked for a favor. And by itself, this email shows who was involved (ph) in President Trump's plan to pressure the Ukrainian President for his own political gain.
But it's obvious that the full email chain and other related emails to this key time period would also be highly relevant. We don't have those emails because the State Department is hiding them, at the direction of the president.
The Senate should issue the proposed subpoena to insure a complete record -- a complete record of these and other relevant emails. Any doubt that the State Department is concealing critical evidence from this body was resolved when the State Department was recently ordered to release documents, including emails pursuant to a law suit under the Freedom of Information Act.
These documents are heavily redacted and are limited to a very narrow time period. But never the less, despite the heavy redactions, these highly limited glimpse into the State Department's secret record demonstrates that those records are full of information relevant to this trial.
For example, several of these newly elected or released emails show multiple contacts between the State Department, including Secretary Pompeo and Mr. Giuliani throughout 2019.
This is an important fact, Mr. Giuliani served as the president's point person in executing his corrupt scheme. Mr. Giuliani repeatedly emphasized that his role was to advance the president's personnel agenda.
The president's political interest, not to promote the national security interest of the United States. The fact that the president's private attorney was in contact at key junctures with the Secretary of State who's senior officials were directed by the president to support Mr. Giuliani's efforts in Ukraine is relevant, disturbing and telling. For example, we know that on March 26th, as Mr. Giuliani was pursuing the president's private agenda in Ukraine, and just one week after the Hill published an article featuring Mr. Giuliani's root Ukraine conspiracy theories, Secretary Pompeo and Mr. Giuliani spoke directly on the phone.
That same week, President Trump's former personnel secretary was asked by Mr. Giuliani's assistant for a direct connection to Secretary Pompeo. Based on these records, it is also clear that Secretary Pompeo was already actively engaged with Mr. Giuliani in early spring of 2019.
And it also appears that these efforts were backed by the White House, given the involvement of President Trump's personnel secretary. This body and the American people need to see these emails and other files at the State Department fleshing out these exchanges and the details surrounding Mr. Giuliani's communications with Secretary Pompeo.
Moreover, based on call records lawfully obtained by the House from this period, we know that from March 24th to March 30th Mr. Giuliani called the White House several times and also connected with an unidentified number numerous times.
These records show that on March 27th Mr. Giuliani placed a series of calls, series of calls to the State Department switchboard. Secretary Pompeo's assistant and the White House switchboard in quick succession all within less than 30 minutes.
Obtaining emails and other documents regarding the State Departments leaderships, interaction with President Trump's private lawyer in this period when Mr. Giuliani was actively orchestrating the pressure campaign in Ukraine related to the sham investigation into Vice President Biden and the 2016 election would further clarify the president's involvement and direction at this key juncture and the formation of a plot to solicit foreign interference into our election.
We also know based on recently obtained documents -- excuse me -- that Lev Parnas, an associate of Rudy Giuliani has assisted him in his representation of Mr. -- of President Trump. That Giuliani likely spoke with Secretary Pompeo about Ukraine matters even earlier than previously understood. According to documents obtained from Mr. Parnas, Mr. Giuliani wrote in early February of 2019 that he apparently spoke with Secretary Pompeo about the removal of a U.S. Ambassador in Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch.
Mr. Giuliani viewed her as an impediment to implementing the President's corrupt scheme and orchestrated a long-running smear campaign against her. Here's what Mr. Parnas said about this just last week.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Do you believe that part of the motivation to get rid of Ambassador Yovanovitch, to get her out of post, was because she was in the way of this effort to get the government of Ukraine to announce investigations of Joe Biden?
PARNAS: That was the only motivation.
MADDOW: That was the only motivation?
PARNAS: There was no other motivation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DEMINGS: These are just some of the e-mail communications that we know -- these are just some of the e-mail communications that we know to exist but there are undoubtedly more, including for example Ambassador Yovanovitch's request for the State Department to issue a statement of support of her around the time that Mr. Giuliani was speaking directly -- directly with Secretary Pompeo, but that statement never came.
The State Department has gathered these records and they are ready to be turned over, pursuant to a subpoena from the Senate. It would not be a time-consuming or lengthy process to obtain them and there are clearly -- clearly important and relevant documents to the President's scheme.
If we want the full and complete truth, then we need to see those e- mails. The Senate should also seek a third item that the State Department has refused to provide and that's Ambassadors (sic) Taylor's extraordinary first-person diplomatic cable to Secretary Pompeo, dated August 29, and sent at the recommendation of the National Security Advisor John Bolton, in which Ambassador Taylor strenuously objected to the withholding of military aid from Ukraine. As Ambassador Taylor recounted in his deposition ...
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TAYLOR: Near the end of Ambassador Bolton's visit, I asked to meet him privately, during which I expressed to him my serious concern about the withholding of military assistance to Ukraine while the Ukrainians were defending their country from Russian aggression.
Ambassador Bolton recommended that I send a first person cable to Secretary Pompeo directly relaying my concerns. I wrote and transmitted such a cable on August 29th describing the folly I saw in withholding military aid to Ukraine at a time when hostilities were still active in the east and when Russia was watching closely to gauge the level of American support for the Ukrainian government.
The Russians, as I said in my deposition, would love to see the humiliation of President Zelensky at the hands of the Americans. I told the Secretary that I could not and would not defend such a policy. Although I received no specific response, I heard that soon thereafter, the Secretary carried the cable with him to a meeting at the White House focused on security assistance for Ukraine.
(END VIDEO CLIP) DEMINGS: While we know from Ambassador Taylor and Deputy Assistant Secretary Kent that the cable was received, we do not know whether or how the State Department responded, nor do we know if the State Department possesses any other internal records relating to this cable.
This cable is vital for three reasons. First, it demonstrates the harm that President Trump did to our national security when he used foreign policy as an instrument of his own personal, political gain.
Second, on the same day the cable was sent, President Zelensky's senior aide told Ambassador Taylor that he was very concerned about the hold on military assistance. He added that the Ukrainians were just desperate at it to be released. In other words, President's (sic) Trump's effort to use military aid to apply additional pressure on Ukraine was working.
And finally, based on reporting by the new York Times, we now know that within days of Ambassador Taylor sending this cable, President Trump discussed Ukrainian security assistance with Secretary Pompeo, Defense Secretary Esper and National Security Advisor Bolton.
The investigation uncovered testimony that Secretary Pompeo brought Ambassador Taylor's cable to the White House. Perhaps it was during this meeting. There, perhaps, prodded by Ambassador Taylor's cable, all three of them pleaded -- pleaded with the President to resume the crucial military aid, yet the President refused.
This body has a right to see Ambassador Taylor's cable as well as the other State Department records addressing the official response to it. Although it may have been classified at the time, the State Department can no longer claim that the topic of security assistance remains classified today in light of the President's position to declassify his two telephone calls with President Zelensky and Mr. Mulvaney's public statements about security assistance.
The fourth category of documents that the Senate should subpoena are contemporaneous first person accounts from State Department officials who were caught up in President Trump's corrupt scheme. These documents, which were described in detail by Deputy Assistant Secretary Kent, Ambassador Taylor and the -- and Political Officer David Holmes would help complete the record and clarify how the President's scheme unfolded in real time and how the Ukrainians reacted.
Mr. Kent wrote notes or memos to file at least four times, according to his testimony. Ambassador Taylor took extensive notes of nearly every conversation he had, some in a little notebook. And David Holmes, the embassy official in Ukraine, was a consistent note-taker of important meetings with Ukrainian officials.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOLDMAN: Did you take notes of this conversation on September 1st with Ambassador Sondland?
TAYLOR: I did.
GOLDMAN: And did you take notes related to most of the conversations, if not all of them, that you recited in your opening statement?
TAYLOR: All of them, Mr. Goldman.
GOLDMAN: And you are aware, I presume, that the State Department has not provided those notes to the committee. Is that right?
TAYLOR: I am aware.
GOLDMAN: So we don't have the benefit of reviewing them to ask you these questions.
TAYLOR: Correct. I understand that they may be coming sooner or later.
GOLDMAN: Well, we would welcome that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DEMINGS: The State Department never produced those notes. As another example Deputy Secretary's -- Deputy Assistant Secretary Kent testified about a key document that he drafted on August 16, describing his concerns that the Trump administration was attempting to pressure Ukraine in to openly -- opening politically motivated investigations.
SPEIER: I'd like to start with you, Mr. Kent. In your testimony you said that you had in mid-August it became clear to me that Giuliani's efforts to gin up political motivated investigations were now infecting U.S. engagement with Ukraine, leveraging President Zelensky's desire for a White House meeting.
Mr. Kent, did you actually write a memo documenting your concerns that there was an effort underway to pressure Ukraine to open an investigation to benefit President Trump?
KENT: Yes ma'am, I wrote a memo to the file on August 16.
SPEIER: But we don't have access to that memo, do we?
KENT: I submitted it to the State Department, it's subject to the September 27 subpoena.
SPEIER: And we have not received one piece of paper from the State Department relative to this investigation.
DEMINGS: Deputy Assistant Secretary Kent also memorialized a September 15 conversation in which Ambassador Taylor described a Ukrainian official accusing America of hypocrisy for advising President Zelensky against investigating a prior Ukrainian president.
Mr. Kent described that conversation during his testimony -- he said, but the more awkward part of the conversation came after Special Representative Volker made the point that the Ukrainians who had opened their authorities under President Zelensky had opened investigations of former President Poroshenko.
He didn't think that was appropriate, and then Andriy Yermak said what? You mean the type of investigations you're pushing for us to do on Biden and Clinton. The conversation makes clear the Ukrainian officials understood the corrupt nature of President Trump's requests, and therefore doubted American credibility on anti-corruption measures.
Records of these conversations and other notes and memoranda by senior American officials in Ukraine would flesh out and help complete the record, for the first article of impeachment. They would tell the whole truth, and the American -- to the American people, and to this body. You should require the State Department to provide them.
To summarize, the Senate should issue the subpoena proposed, and the amendment requiring the State Department to turn over relevant texts, and WhatsApp messages, e-mails, diplomatic cables, and notes. These documents bear directly on the trial of this body -- the trial that this body is required by the Constitution, to hold.
They are immediately relevant to the first article of impeachment, their existence has been attested to by credible witnesses in the House, and the only reason we don't already have them is that the president has ordered his administration, including Secretary Pompeo, to hide them.
The president's lawyers may suggest that the House should sought -- that this House should have sought these materials in court, or awaited further lawsuits under the Freedom of Information Act, aka FOIA lawsuits.