Return to Transcripts main page
CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
Trump Impeachment Trial: GOP Blocks Dems' Efforts to Subpoena Witnesses and Documents; Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) Provides Color Commentary on Senate Atmosphere; Senators Fight Fatigue in Hours-Long Impeachment Fight. Aired 2-3a ET
Aired January 22, 2020 - 02:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
(JOINED IN PROGRESS)
MICHAEL ZELDIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Illegal, wrong, impeachable and let it be decided on the merits of the evidence that they bring forth. They're not willing to do that. That's a shameful act.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: Let's bring in Gary Graff on this, journalist.
You know, it's interesting, Gary; you know who the GOP senators should be upset at is the White House because they put them in this box by blocking access to all these people. Now they do have to deal with it. And they've got the rules the way they want through votes. But we'll see how it goes forward.
What's your take on this dynamic?
GARRETT GRAFF, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I think one of the sort of important points to raise in the context of why the House moved quickly on impeachment, Adam Schiff made the point tonight, this is an ongoing conspiracy that the House Democrats were trying to arrest.
The fundamental underlying charges in this case deal with the president's attempt to bring foreign interference into the future 2020 election. So this is something that is still unfolding. And that the House didn't feel like it had, you know, months or years to try to play this out in the courts.
And I think it's important to take that step back and look at the broader geopolitical context of why this impeachment was rushed. And it's because we're dealing with something that isn't a break-in that happened at the Democratic National Committee two years ago.
This is something that the president is actively trying to commit a criminal conspiracy in the midst of our ongoing presidential election.
CUOMO: That is the argument. All right. Let's hold on for a second. Let's get one of the participants in here. We have Senator Bob Casey from Pennsylvania.
Thank you very much for joining us, Senator, after what had to be a really long day.
SEN. BOB CASEY (D-PA): Chris, thanks. Good to be on with you.
CUOMO: So tell us about it.
What's it like to be in this room in that capacity?
You've been a senator since 2006. This is your first go at this.
What was it like in the room?
CASEY: Well, Chris, it's a very grave matter we're dealing with. You're dealing with a president, clearly, I think by the evidence, who solicited the interference of a foreign government in the upcoming election and also, as part of that, made a request to that government to investigate a political opponent and at the same time to investigate a debunked, loopy theory about the last election.
So it's a grave matter. I think senators take it very seriously. But I was frustrated, as we all were today, that Republicans were voting over and over again not to allow witnesses or documents.
And the further you get into the questions we could ask those witnesses and the information we could derive from documents, you realize how much more could be added to what already is a substantial record.
CUOMO: You had a 100-0 vote with Clinton on the rules of the road among the senators. Every vote today except for one was right along party lines.
What does that tell you?
CASEY: Well, it does tell me one thing, that the Clinton trial was dramatically different in this sense. I think it's a very important point to make.
You had an investigation, which was a very lengthy investigation by Ken Starr. The record of that voluminous investigation formed the basis of that trial.
And you had lots of documents, documents and witnesses who had already been interviewed and their testimony is part of the record. Even in the Clinton trial, which is a much simpler matter, you had three witnesses.
The Andrew Johnson trial, a lot more than that -- I forget the number but I think it's in the range of about 40.
Look, it doesn't make any sense when you have the gravity of the offenses that are charged, the importance and the gravity of the decision, the determination we have to make about removal or guilt or not guilty. It makes no sense not to have witnesses.
And the idea we're going to get to it next week or in a few days, I think later in this case means never. CUOMO: In terms of the wear and tear and the focus that is necessary,
you're one of the young guns in the Senate. You're not even 60 yet.
CASEY: I'm about to be.
CUOMO: Well, that's in April. We're not there yet. A lot can change between now and then; 66 out of 100 senators are older than 60.
What did you see in that room?
People nodding off?
You don't have to say who but give us a little color from in that room.
CASEY: I think the expectations were probably low in terms of going into the night and having everyone be paying attention. But I saw almost no, you know, disconnect. People were very focused. When the chief justice walked in, people would rise, even late into the night and be there for the presentation. So I was especially impressed by that.
CUOMO: No phones?
CASEY: And I think that's why --
CASEY: -- I think people understand the gravity of what we're dealing with.
CUOMO: Absolutely. But that's a long time, especially on a day of procedural votes essentially.
You knew there weren't going to be arguments today.
You didn't see anybody nodding off, nothing that added a little levity to the moment?
CASEY: I did not. I saw no nodding off today.
CUOMO: Today. You've got a long way to go.
What did you think about a couple of different things?
The chief justice early in this process, literally the first day, admonishing both sides. And it came at that moment a little bit later on, when they -- the counsel started to go more nose to nose with each other directly. I'll play a little for the audience.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHIEF JUSTICE JOHN ROBERTS, U.S. SUPREME COURT: I think it is appropriate at this point for me to admonish both the House managers and the president's counsel in equal terms to remember that they are addressing the world's greatest deliberative body.
One reason it has earned that title is because its members avoid speaking in a manner and using language that is not conducive to civil discourse. In the 1905 Swain trial, a senator objected when one of the managers used the word "pettifogging" and the presiding officer said the word ought not to have been used.
I don't think we need to aspire to that high a standard but I do think those addressing the Senate should remember where they are.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CUOMO: What did you think of that, Senator?
CASEY: I don't fault him for that. It's part of his job. And if he believed that there was a breakdown or a degradation of some of the decorum, then that's his -- that's a determination he makes. That's part of his job.
CUOMO: But what do you think about that enforcement of civil discourse?
Certainly something we haven't seen in big supply in politics these days.
CASEY: Look, it's bound to happen. These are strongly held beliefs on both sides and differing opinions. And again, I think the weight of this is such that you're going to have a lot of fierce argumentation.
But I think what came out of tonight was a very clear demonstration of a fundamental difference here when it comes to witnesses and documents. This idea that we'll get to it later I just don't think is the reality. I think there's an effort to rush.
And I do think that the word "cover-up" is not too strong a word in this instance. It seems like from the beginning, leader McConnell has tried to design this resolution which would govern -- which will govern the trial now, now that it's passed, even though we voted against it. I think he's designed it in the president's favor.
What I don't understand is why would a Republican majority and a Republican president be afraid to put any Republican witnesses under oath?
But most of the witnesses we've seen already, have been under oath in the House, were Republicans. These are Republican officials and we're only asking for four who would be under oath.
Why are you concerned about that?
Why would you fear that?
You should embrace it because some of that testimony may be in your favor. But for some reason they seem to want, unless there's some dramatic change in the next couple of hours or days, they seem to want no witnesses. And that doesn't make a lot of sense. CUOMO: Senator Casey, you'll probably hear a lot more of the same
tomorrow, as you did today, in the context of why the Republicans believe they've heard enough already. Thank you very much, sir, on such an important day for taking us inside the room and what you expect going forward. Good luck to you in discharging your duty.
CASEY: Thanks, Chris.
CUOMO: All right. Let's take a little break here; 13 hours of action on the Senate floor. Not of action; 13 hours of the ongoing debates. Let's not overstate it. Very important in terms of history.
But this is hard to focus on for long periods. And that's what they'll have to do, who knows for how long. The Swain trial that the chief justice referred to about decorum, that took three months. Let's take a break and come back and tell you what is most likely for tomorrow. Next.
CUOMO: All right. The first day of the impeachment trial of president Donald John Trump has been a long one. CNN's Jeff Zeleny will tell you whatever you didn't get to see yourself.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Senate will convene as a court of impeachment.
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Trump's impeachment trial opening with pageantry and prayer.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Keep us from dishonor.
ZELENY (voice-over): And ending a long first day with a clear partisan divide. After an acrimonious fight over whether the Senate should hear from new witnesses.
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): We're not going to have an epiphany a few days from now and suddenly say, OK, the American people do deserve the answers. Their whole goal is that you'll never get to that point.
ZELENY (voice-over): There was a surprising concession from Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell. Amid an uproar from Democrats and pressure from key Republicans, McConnell suddenly allowing an extra day for opening arguments, extending presentations to three days for each side rather than two marathon overnight sessions.
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): So the eyes are on the Senate. The country is watching to see if we can rise to the occasion. ZELENY (voice-over): McConnell also signing off on another key
change: automatically admitting evidence from the House impeachment proceedings without a vote of the Senate, a move aimed at easing criticism that Republicans were not intent on holding a fair trial. With Chief Justice John Roberts presiding at the front of the Senate chamber --
ROBERTS: Without objection so ordered.
Do I bang the gavel?
ZELENY (voice-over): Senators stayed seated and silent as the debate stretched long into the night over rules governing the trial. The last-minute shift by McConnell, so swift the changes were handwritten on the official resolution, did nothing to ease a far more contentious fight, whether new documents or witnesses would be allowed in the Senate trial.
The Democrats lost that fight again and again on the first day of debate but didn't make it easy for Republicans.
MCCONNELL: I would ask consent to ask the Democratic leader, since there's a certain similarity to all these amendments, whether he might be willing to enter into a consent agreement to stack these votes.
ROBERTS: Without objection, the inquiry is permitted.
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), MINORITY LEADER: Thank you, Mr. Chief Justice. The bottom line is very simple. As has been clear to every senator and the country, we believe witnesses and documents are extremely important and a compelling case has been made for them.
But we will not back off on getting votes on all of these amendments, which we regard as extremely significant and important to the country.
ZELENY (voice-over): Adam Schiff, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee and a Democratic impeachment manager, said relentless White House obstruction made new evidence and witness testimony critical.
SCHIFF: The House calls John Bolton. The House calls Mick Mulvaney.
Let's get this trial started, shall we?
We are ready to present our case. We are ready to call our witnesses.
The question is will you let us?
ZELENY (voice-over): Schiff and his team spent much of the day trying to persuade senators why hearing new testimony was critical to the trial.
SCHIFF: We will vote to find the president guilty or not guilty, to find his conduct impeachable or not impeachable. The most important question is the question you must answer today. Will the president and the American people get a fair trial?
ZELENY (voice-over): Democrats set to call a string of witnesses, including former national security adviser John Bolton, who has offered to testify if subpoenaed.
REP. ZOE LOFGREN (D), IMPEACHMENT MANAGER: Ambassador Bolton has come forward and publicly confirmed that he was a witness to important events. If we know there's evidence that's not yet come out, all of us should want to hear it.
ZELENY (voice-over): Democrats also hope to call White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney.
REP. HAKEEM JEFFRIES (D-N.Y.), IMPEACHMENT MANAGER: Mr. Mulvaney, perhaps more than any other administration witness excepting the president, has firsthand insight into the decision to withhold $391 million in military and security aid to a vulnerable Ukraine without justification.
ZELENY (voice-over): As the debate wore on, Democratic efforts to call witnesses were defeated on partisan lines. After declining to participate in the House impeachment inquiry last year, White House counsel Pat Cipollone forcefully argued against new witnesses.
PAT CIPOLLONE, WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL: And they asked that the case be mooted. And now they come here and they ask you to issue a subpoena for John Bolton. It's not right.
ZELENY (voice-over): The president's legal team also said most White House officials would be protected by executive privilege.
JAY SEKULOW, TRUMP ATTORNEY: Here's the law. Communications made by presidential advisers in the course of preparing advice for the president come under the presidential communications privilege.
ZELENY (voice-over): President's lawyers forcefully argued against new witnesses and offered a rare public outline of their defense on the two articles of impeachment, abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.
CIPOLLONE: We came hoping to have a trial. They spent the entire day telling you and the American people that they can't prove their case. I could have told you that in five minutes and saved us all a lot of time.
ZELENY (voice-over): Senators will have another chance to consider whether to hear new evidence later in the trial. Democrats made clear they would keep making their case, hoping to win over the four Republicans needed to subpoena witnesses.
JEFFRIES: If he can't be indicted and he can't be impeached and he can't be removed, then he can't be held accountable. That is inconsistent with the United States Constitution.
REP. VAL DEMINGS (D-FL): And if this body is truly committed to a fair trial, it cannot let the president play a game of keep-away and dictate what evidence the senators can and cannot see bearing on his guilt or innocence. He is trying to cheat to win.
ZELENY: So after a long day here, Chris, one thing is clear: there will not be witnesses at this point in the trial. But several Republican senators have said they will consider it in the next phase of the trial. So certainly the acrimony was present today. The case was made as well.
ZELENY: It begins anew -- I would say tomorrow but it's actually later today, this afternoon -- when the senators reconvene at 1:00 pm. They're also going to be talking about motions to go forward. But Senator Schumer was asked moments ago as he left the Capitol what his strategy was.
He said, look, I wanted the country to see that Democrats are for new documents and witnesses. And Republicans simply are not -- Chris.
CUOMO: Well, that message was certainly conveyed many times over. Jeff Zeleny, thank you very much. Appreciate it.
Tough day. Long. No phones. No talking. No escape. This is just the beginning, however, and this is history. And it's not about not wanting to do the job. It's about how you cope, how you focus, how you be at your best for this country. Let's discuss. Next.
CUOMO: Day one, 13 hours long. Senators were bound to fight -- find ways to fight the tedium. Certainly going to be some yawns, some note taking. Can't be checking your email, though. You're not supposed to have your phone. Athena Jones has been following it all on Capitol Hill. Presidential historian Tim Naftali also joins me.
Athena, great to see you. What did you hear?
I tried to get Senator Bob Casey to give me some color in there about what he saw and what he didn't see. He didn't give me anything. He said he didn't see anybody doing anything other than paying studious attention.
ATHENA JONES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, luckily we had our whole -- a bunch of our CNN Hill team in the Senate gallery, watching hour after hour as this trial inched along, as this debate inched along and we saw the mood kind of light at the beginning, senators chatting with each other, whispering, even though they take -- there's a proclamation at the beginning of every day, saying that all shall keep silence on pain of imprisonment.
There was some talking. But over the course of the debate, over the many hours, you saw a lot of people -- clearly taking a toll on them. Folks yawning, getting up to stretch their legs. Early on there was note passing, sometimes with the help of pages, who helped carry notes from one senator to the other or fill water glasses.
You saw people appearing to nod off at times or at least close their eyes and then pretty quickly straighten up in their chair a few minutes later. Some people taking copious notes. Of course we don't know what they were writing.
But some of those note takers were interesting. People like Cory Gardner, the senator from Colorado, who's facing a tough re-election battle. Also Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski. Some of the very folks, moderates we're going to be looking at to see whether they join Democrats in the call for witnesses and documents later in the trial. They were taking copious notes.
There was also a lot of candy and gum being shared. Senator Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania brought candy, some of it from Hershey's, which is based in Pennsylvania, and that sort of thing. So a lot of senators trying to do all they could to pay attention, to stay awake and stretch their legs.
CUOMO: Athena, thank you very much.
Look, a lot of them in the room were hoping for open minds. But people know how they feel, it makes it even harder to watch all of it. A couple of points that came up a lot today and I wanted historical perspective on them.
First one is, hey, look, this was fine for Clinton, they did the witness voting after the opening statements. Now you guys don't like it, you liked it just fine back then, it was 100-0.
TIM NAFTALI, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Well, first things first.
What happened the first day of the Clinton trial?
It's really different and very interesting. First of all, the Senate met in closed session. There weren't any cameras. And they met, all 100 of them, and they thrashed out a compromise.
The resolution, the Clinton resolution was the product of a compromise drafted by Ted Kennedy and Phil Gramm. And they came to a conclusion that this was the way to go forward. They took a little bit of the Democratic approach, a little bit of the Republican approach.
How was that possible?
That was possible because, in 1999, the leadership of the Democrats and of the Republicans in the Senate didn't want witnesses. They were afraid that the whole trial becoming a circus. They did not want -- I mean, the Republicans, too, Trent Lott. He was concerned because he had a lot of pressure from the House Republicans saying we want Kathleen Willey, we want Ms. Broderick, we want -- Juanita Broderick.
CUOMO: Save Lisa Meyers or free Lisa Meyers --
NAFTALI: What they wanted to do was to broaden the case against Clinton to involve other women, about whom there was suspicion of sexual harassment. The senators, both Republicans and Democratic senators, did not want that to happen in the Senate. So there was a mutual desire on the part of both parties in the Senate.
CUOMO: But they had a full record there from Starr. And here you have a completely incomplete record because they didn't get the same access --
NAFTALI: But the argument I'm making is that the Constitution lets it -- leaves it up to the Senate to do what it wishes to do and do it how it wants to do it.
It seems strange for me -- to me that everyone's hanging so much on this one precedent, which was such an entirely different case with different circumstances.
And there's another big difference and nobody's talking much about this and it's important. This is the first time in our history that the president's party is trying the president in the Senate. The president's party has never before controlled the Senate in a trial.
You could argue that Lincoln's party was the Republican Party, but Andrew Johnson was a Democrat. It was a special unity ticket. So we -- in every case up to now, the trial of the President has been by the other party. So to ask the President's party to have witnesses is to ask the President's party to do something that it doesn't want to do.
Now, the founders didn't want to step parties, because they anticipated this problem. But one of the weaknesses of the whole impeachment process is it requires members of Congress to think constitutionally and not as partisans. The Republicans are having a hard time doing that.
CUOMO: So far, you're right. And that is a very interesting point. I hadn't thought of it. Maybe one or two other people haven't as well. Tim, thank you very much. I appreciate it. Athena, as well.
Up next, you want to meet somebody who gives you a good reason that you may want witnesses here? How about somebody who you're just starting to hear about Trump donor Robert Hyde. He has been the subject of a lot of wild allegations and he makes one thing very clear. He stayed very late tonight to tell you his story. We really don't know who was involved and how with what was going on in Ukraine. And a lot of what we've been told may not be 100 percent true. Trump donor Robert Hyde next.
[02:35:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
CUOMO: All right, the debate over evidence includes text messages from Lev Parnas. This is something that the Democrats want in. That is not the case at this point. Why? Well, because they are a window into what was going on in Ukraine, and what we know, and maybe just as importantly, what we don't know.
For instance, one of the texts is a set of dialogue. It's not one text, it's a whole thread of text with a man named Robert Hyde, all right. He joins us now on prime time. You waited a long time. Thank you very much for doing so. I appreciate that.
ROBERT HYDE (R-CT), CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: Yes, sir.
CUOMO: And again, the fights over witnesses, and do we really need to know anything more than we do right now. And as you know, I believe you speak very loudly to this point. You have come up here as being in dialogue with Lev Parnas. You know, Lev Parnas?
HYDE: A little bit.
CUOMP: OK. And how was it that you came to be in these contacts with him about what may or may not have been going on in Ukraine?
HYDE: Passing off each other's phone numbers, when you program it, WhatsApp automatically connects you. So you're immediately tied to each other once you, you know, upload the contact.
CUOMO: So you have Lev Parnas, but the decision to start being involved with him about what was going on with the then U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, how did that happen?
HYDE: Well, first off, I like to say, I brought you a gift, a Hyde phone pop up.
CUOMO: I appreciate it.
HYDE: I brought a blue one for you.
CUOMO: I like it. Thank you.
CUOMO: Help me understand.
HYDE: Number two is this is my third interview ever. First time live on T.V. I just want the public to know that I just brought notes just because --
CUOMO: Take your notes.
HYDE: I mean, I didn't -- if you notice, I'm not sweating like Lev. I've been here all night. You called me last night while I was in bed. I agreed to it this morning.
CUOMO: I appreciate it.
HYDE: I apologize to Eric Bolling, my man, I was supposed to go to him first. Hopefully, let's be back on someday. I brought notes from the Crowne Plaza, not the Reds like Lev. You guys put me in the Crown. So I just made these notes pretty much in the bathroom.
But I want to thank you and CNN for this opportunity. I want to thank President Trump in the U.S. military for providing us the blanket of freedom to do this show. I want to congratulate Derek Jeter. That was huge.
CUOMO: Being in Hall of Fame.
CUOMO: All right, but hold on --
HYDE: Hold on, hold on. I'm almost finished. Because please -- let me -- and then I'll try to do my best for you.
CUOMO: I appreciate it.
HYDE: Absolutely. I want to thank (INAUDIBLE). Absolutely, phenomenal, by the way. Everything, transportation, absolutely. Trace Apparel for making me look good.
CUOMO: Mr. Hyde.
HYDE: Hold on, hold on, almost done. And honestly, I just -- I would like to apologize on behalf of Republicans and myself for the name- calling that happened with you and your daughter at that bar with that guy that, you know --
CUOMO: Don't worry about that.
HYDE: So I would like to say that I never called you those names. I don't see it in you. And I'd like to apologize.
CUOMO: Hey, listen, you got nothing to apologize for. Just tell the truth right now. We'll be good. Help us understand some things.'
CUOMO: So Lev Parnas, how do you wind up in this dialogue about passing messages from this Belgian guy named de Caluwe or however you say his name.
HYDE: De Caluwe, I think.
CUOMO: De Caluwe, how did you get hooked up with that?
HYDE: OK, so you -- I know it's a small world when you're donating and you're invited or they invite you in groups of people at certain dates, you know, and spread them through the month. I'm not really positive how I met them, but you meet a lot of people. And back then we were -- it was big social scene, a lot of drinking and I would like to apologize to my fellow Republicans if I'm a distraction right now, but this is a hoax. It's a complete joke.
CUOMO: What's the hoax?
HYDE: The impeachment, it's a giant circus. I mean, what -- where's the bribery? Where's the -- where's the treason? Have you read the transcript?
CUOMO: I get you. Forget about the legal case because I want you as a fact witness.
CUOMO: Let them fight it out. That's what they're doing. These are your WhatsApp messages to Parnas, OK. You don't -- you don't dispute that. But you say you were passing them on from this Belgian guy. That he was sending them to you, and you were sending them to Parnas. Is that accurate?
HYDE: That's accurate. But let me just take a step backwards to what you said. I acknowledge that some of them are my WhatsApp messages. But like I said in a video I self-made on Friday when this all hit -- the world was hitting the fan --
HYDE: Was I asked, because honestly, I don't have the message. I'll show you my phone. I don't have the messages. I'll show you. There's one from Lev about an article about Giuliani going into Ukraine and I responded like three weeks later. I believe he didn't go. I heard he canceled it.
CUOMO: Gotcha. I saw that text.
HYDE: So on Friday, I came out with a video and I was like, Adam, produce the rest of the context. Where's the WhatsApp messages?
CUOMO: But you are sending these messages that we have from --
HYDE: Listen, I have no clue because I don't have the messages.
CUOMO: Right, but we have copies of them where they go from a Belgian guy.
CUOMO: Right. And he's sending you this message and that is the same message and substance that you then send to Parnas. Do you think this guy, this Belgian guy was having surveillance done on the ambassador?
HYDE: No, absolutely not. This guy is a complete tool, OK. So let me paint a picture.
CUOMO: But where did he get this information?
HYDE: So here's what I'm --
CUOMO: We don't have a lot of time.
HYDE: Here's what I'm -- here's what I'm doing. Ready? OK, so let's -- how much time do we have?
CUOMO: Not long.
HYDE: So Parnas is a con artist. I believe Parnas -- I know for a fact because he's screwed friends my family's for millions of dollars. I went jet setting on private jets the whole nine yards right and sink their company. But he had professional athletes invest millions of dollars and then he just wiped -- bought this company, wiped it out --
CUOMO: All right, but that's about --
HYDE: Hold on. I'm painting --
CUOMO: I'm talking about those messages.
HYDE: So I'm painting a picture of Lev. Lev is a conman, a complete -- I believe he's like 65 years old. I believe about who knows 10, 15, 20 years ago, he's made a deal with the Feds. So I think this whole thing is a conspiracy with the Feds because --
CUOMO: All right, fine. That's speculation though. You got to just explain the text.
HYDE: It's not speculation. It's not.
CUOMO: Well, it's speculation because we don't know it for a fact. What I'm saying is --
HYDE: The Feds are evil and the Feds are spying on everybody. And if I was Apple, I would not give them the backdoor to our Apple phones.
CUOMO: Listen, we want to -- we want to respect the institutions. Even the president says that. Just helped me understand this one thing before I let you go.
HYDE: So you're fine with them leaking?
CUOMO: No, no, no, I'm not fine with any institution not doing its duty the right way. And that's why the media supposed to police them, so is Congress. Here's what I'm saying.
HYDE: But would you be fine with Apple providing a backdoor to go into your phone?
CUOMO: No, but I don't want to go down that road of speculation. I just want to deal with what we have in front of us.
HYDE: Yes, Lev -- I'm trying to paint a picture of Lev.
CUOMO: I get it. I get that --
HYDE: He's working for the Feds and he's trying to set people up and the administration to impeach the president.
CUOMO: But you sent --
HYDE: It's a joke. It's a circus. It's fake.
CUOMO: But here's the thing. Robert, he's being investigated, he's been indicted, this is all I want you to tell me about. And this is what -- this is all. This is why I told you, it's not about your conclusions. It's just the facts. Why were you sending these messages to Lev from this other guy?
HYDE: To be totally honest, I thought I was joking. I can't -- I can't even answer your accurately because I don't even have the messages. I was traveling. I was in Ireland. I was -- I spent 34 days in a row in South America. I came home for half a day, flew out to Ireland for a week.
CUOMO: Right, but why pass along messages where they were supposedly surveiling --
HYDE: I believe -- I believe this guy who pretended, oh, I'm CIA, I do drug things -- hey, I need to pass this to Lev Parnas. And I was like, all right. You know, I was like three in the morning. I was somewhere in the world. Who cares? Copy and paste. I mean, everything I did is copy-paste. You could see it.
CUOMO: I do see patterns of copying and pasting going from this guy to Parnas.
HYDE: I think both of these guys work for the Feds. They're scumbags and they tried to make me look like I'm this guy. And I think -- I think --
CUOMO: So you don't know whether or not this guy was factually doing --
CUOMO: Hold on a second. You don't know whether or not this guy was actually part of any surveillance that was going on?
HYDE: This guy, joke of the -- of the -- joke of the millennium.
CUOMO: But why hand over the messages then? Why pass them along?
HYDE: Because honestly, I thought they were friends. They portrayed themselves as knowing each other and I just read -- I just -- honestly, if you're in a small group and you just -- you don't want to see these people out of bars out of -- or the social scenes were in because they're like, 20, 30,40 --
CUOMO: I get you, but then they could have done it with each other. They didn't -- they didn't need you then, right? If they knew each other, why they need you?
HYDE: And, you know, that's a great question. And -- but you don't have -- I don't know. Honestly, I can't really answer that.
CUOMO: I wanted to have people hear from you because they're going to talk about you.
HYDE: But notice, I don't have my lawyer.
CUOMO: And I don't think you need one. Because in a situation like this, it's just asking you some questions about facts, and I appreciate you giving me the information. I do.
HYDE: Can we -- can we have a few more minutes?
CUOMO: No, I got to go. I got to go to break.
HYDE: I would like -- lets -- I mean, we got like --
CUOMO: Let me do this. Let go to break --
HYDE: Largest tax cuts.
CUOMO: I'll talk to you after.
HYDE: So many jobs.
CUOMO: You don't have to make the case for the president. This is about the impeachment. He'll make the case for him.
HYDE: But where's the bribery? Where's the where's the treason? Read the transcript.
CUOMO: That's the case for the senators to make. I got --
HYDE: But read the transcript.
CUOMO: I'll talk to you about it in the break.
HYDE: Black and white like Michael Jackson.
CUOMO: I hear you.
HYDE: From the grave.
CUOMO: Let me take a break right now. Let's come back. We'll talk to where we think this case goes forward next. Stay with us.
CUOMO: All right, joining us now is Michael Zeldin and Garrett Graff. And fellas, hear me out on this. You want to know the argument for witnesses, right? Why do we need to know more? Don't we know enough already? That's the argument from the President's defenders.
Michael Zeldin, counselor, I present to you the last guest that we just had as Exhibit A of how you need to have the people who are in control of these different institutions and these different scenarios come on and explain how someone like a Lev Parnas, someone like a Robert Hyde, someone like this Mr. de Caluwe gets close enough for the President's main agent and their manipulations of a sovereign government for the President's benefit. That's my case.
ZELDIN: Well, and I think that's exactly right. I think that if this were a real trial, a person like Parnas would be a prospective witness. Whether he's a, you know, acceptable witness, whether he's a credible witness, is another matter. But these e-mails that you just put up with this fellow Hyde are threatening e-mails.
ZELDIN: And we know that the ambassador was removed from the country on the indication that there was an imminent threat to her.
ZELDIN: So this guy is just like, oh well this is just a joke, this is just a cut and paste. Well, he's cutting and pasting threatening e- mails about a sitting U.S. Ambassador who the State Department felt so concerned about, had to yank her out of the country with almost no notice. This is something that has to be heard.
CUOMO: Right. And by the way, Garrett, just so -- and Michael and Garrett, just so you understand also, this isn't like someone we just dug up, OK. Lev Parnas has been talking about this guy. The FBI, Garrett, it is our understanding, went and talked to him recently about this because this story makes no sense.
I actually find him credible on his lack of understanding of what he did and why he did it. The point is, it happened and this de Caluwe, these aren't funny things. This isn't I don't like the ambassador, let's say mean things about the ambassador because we like Trump. This is specific information about where she is and what's going on at a time that Lev Parnas is trying to manipulate the situation to get rid of her.
We don't know who de Caluwe is, this Belgian guy, how he fits in the loop, how someone like Robert Hyde, let alone Lev Parnas gets this close to the President's circle of influence? Because let's be honest, Garrett, Lev Parnas is not a nobody when it comes to Rudy Giuliani and his efforts.
GRAFF: Absolutely not. And I think Michael is exactly right to point to the fact that we have actually never gotten a good explanation or gotten to the bottom of what caused ambassador, Yovanovitch to be pulled so abruptly from Ukraine. She has never even gotten a good explanation of what caused her to be pulled other than a threat to her security.
CUOMO: It's one more piece of imperfection from the perfect call with Zelensky, by the way, I'm just paging through this to remind. Zelensky thanks President Trump for being the first to tell him that Yovanovitch was not a good ambassador. Think about that. The President of Ukraine thanks the United States President for telling him the first to do so according to this summary, that the United States ambassador is bad. And the president says she's going to go through some things.
We don't know what it was. We don't know what the motivation was. We don't know who these people are, that were being used by his agent. You know, Rudy Giuliani was waving around a letter that says the President has full knowledge and consent of all this. How can you not have witnesses?
GRAFF: Absolutely. And I think you are seeing -- you know, you mentioned the FBI agents out questioning Hyde. One of the things that's curious about that investigation is that those texts have apparently been with the Justice Department for some period of time, only recently actually handed off to the House Intelligence Committee, which is why they've become public.
But you know, what is causing the FBI to sort of move that investigation onto the front burner and actually be out in the field interviewing Hyde now that these are public.
CUOMO: Right. The criticism, Michael is hey, in the house, you wanted these people, you could have had them. No. They didn't know about them this way. They were blocked with the big shots, but they didn't know about Parnas the way they do now. The feds weren't giving him the access to the documents to hand over. He wasn't available. This is a basic new perspective on this, is it not?
ZELDIN: Exactly right. And this is why Schumer moved for an article of amendment that would allow them to get State Department documents. They don't know what are in these documents so they can't even formulate what witnesses they might want to call. And this is what is the heart of the problem in what we'll see in the next three days, which is witnesses missing, arguments made on the basis of partial information, and then a vote probably to end this thing with no real justice or understanding of what happened.
CUOMO: And look, people will look at this and say, all right, so it's the gang that couldn't shoot straight. You know, this is who Trump has around him. First of all, that's not an acceptable response to this kind of situation. And if they want to talk about Clinton, there was a crazy cast of characters there too, Michael, and Ken Starr had access to all of them. He interviewed everybody. And that's why the fight for witnesses was different because they had everybody on record already. Even the three witnesses they had.
ZELDIN: Including the president.
CUOMO: That's right. And even the witnesses they called were people who are already in the record. I'm telling you, Robert Hyde does not present as someone to put a lot of faith or trust into but that's exactly the point. How did he get involved? Who was this guy was sending these messages about a sensible, you know, surveillance? So there's plenty to do.
ZELDIN: And that's --
CUOMO: I got to go, guys. I got to go. Thank you very much. Thank you for joining us for this impeachment edition of CUOMO PRIMETIME. The news continues next.