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One-on-One with Impeachment Witness Bill Taylor; Coronavirus Cases on Cruise Ship in Japan Triple to 61, Include 11 Americans. Aired 4:30-5p ET

Aired February 7, 2020 - 16:30   ET


JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: When you testified, you really only had your slice. You only really knew about your view of this whole scandal from Kiev, what you'd been able to see, what you'd been able to ascertain from talking to other people.


Now that the impeachment inquiry is over and you have heard the testimony of 16 other people and read documents, and, like, do you think that your initial impression was accurate?

BILL TAYLOR, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO UKRAINE: I do. I was, as you say, just reporting what I'd been told, what I've heard, what people had described to me, and that the turns out to have been corroborated by most of the other witnesses. And it seems to me that there's not really a question about the facts of the case, and so that made what I said not controversial. It was pretty straightforward.

TAPPER: Let's talk about Ukraine. I know you care deeply about this. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo recently told a NPR reporter, she says, after this contentious interview, quote, do you think the Americans care about Ukraine? I think there might have been an expletive in there.

But the general question, do you think Americans care about Ukraine, what do you think?

TAYLOR: I think that Americans should care about Ukraine, and I think they do. Actually, I've gotten some really positive responses to some comments and written comments that I made from all over the country saying that we do care about Ukraine.

Russians have attacked Ukrainians militarily. The Russians have attacked Ukraine on cyber. The Russians have attacked Ukrainian elections. The Russians have also attacked us on our elections. The Russians also attacked us a using cyber tools.

So, the Ukrainians are really the front line and they are defending themselves and they are defending us and we should support them.

TAPPER: I think you literally went to the front line in November. When you were there, a Ukrainian soldier was killed. Another one was injured. People don't necessarily understand that there's a hot war going on. Ukrainians are fighting rebels or other forces that are clearly funded and supplied by Russia.

TAYLOR: Fourteen thousand Ukrainians have died in that hot war. The Russians invaded Ukraine. They first invaded Crimea and still occupy Crimea. Then they invaded the southeastern part of the country and they still have troops, Russian troops in Donbass.

And there's a hot war, exactly as you say. This is the middle of Europe today, in 2020, there's a hot war in the middle of Europe where Europeans are being killed.

Jake, there are two Ukraine stories. One of Giuliani and corruption and whistle-blowers, and that's a very partisan story.

There's another Ukraine story, which is Ukraine taking actions to defeat that corruption, Ukraine taking actions to defend itself and the west against attacks by the Russians.

TAPPER: So you believe Zelensky is trying to rid the country of corruption?

TAYLOR: There's no doubt --

TAPPER: Do you think -- do you think Viktor Shokin was corrupt?


TAPPER: You do?


TAPPER: So a lot of Giuliani's sources are people that you would regard as corrupt?

TAYLOR: I would. Again, I was not there during that time. That's not the story I know. I know the positive bipartisan support story. But that corruption story, that other story, is out there, and we know it.

TAPPER: Do you believe in the credibility of Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch? Is she somebody that you respect?

TAYLOR: Absolutely.

TAPPER: What do you think of the fact that Giuliani and other people have been attacking her, smearing her?

TAYLOR: Unconscionable.

TAPPER: Unconscionable.

Secretary Pompeo said when asked about his failure to stand up for State Department employees, asked by Mary Louise Kelly of NPR, he said, quote: I've defended every single person on this team, I've done what's right for every single person on this team.

Is that true in your experience? TAYLOR: I will say that I think Secretary Pompeo is under -- under

pressure, under -- his in tension between two parts of what he's trying to do. I do believe he wants to support every member of the State Department, every employee of the State Department. I do believe he wants to do that.

I also believe he's under some pressure from other parts of the government not to support some of the people in the State Department. So I --

TAPPER: President Trump?

TAYLOR: I'm prepared to believe that Secretary Pompeo is under -- is in tension.

TAPPER: Does it bother you when you see like how Rudy Giuliani was out there smearing Yovanovitch and the dual loyalties smears against Lieutenant Colonel Vindman who you know and I assume respect?


TAPPER: It must bother you to see that.

TAYLOR: I -- of course, it bothers me any time I see someone like Masha Yovanovitch or Alex Vindman unfairly attacked.


Anyone unfairly attacked, it bothers anyone I think. So, certainly, it does.

TAPPER: Some officials that we've spoken with who have testified have said that they resent that former national security adviser John Bolton fought coming forward, fought testifying, he has a book out, or is about the come out. He's about to make money, but did not come forward in the House when he was asked to -- indicated he would sue if he was subpoenaed.

And then after it became clear that the Senate was not going to call for new witnesses, did not come forward with the story, did not submit an affidavit.

Obviously, he can do whatever he wants. He's an American. But as somebody who testified and there really was no upside other than I guess in your view, doing the right thing, do you resent it?

TAYLOR: I don't resent it. I respect Ambassador Bolton for having principles. I disagree with some of his policy recommendations over time, but I know that he felt strongly about supporting Ukraine. He came to Ukraine in late August, he came to Kiev and had good conversations there with the president and others.

I had a good conversation with him about the security assistance at that time. I know he strongly supported that. So I respect that part of Ambassador Bolton's view. It's, as you say, it's up to him when he tells his story. TAPPER: Since the impeachment trial is now over, President Trump has

been acquitted, a number of senators who voted to acquit him, a number of Republican senators have said they still feel like what he did was wrong, it just didn't rise to the level of removing him from office.

Do you have an opinion?

TAYLOR: Everybody has an opinion. Senators are the ones that got to vote.

TAPPER: Do you have an opinion you're willing to share?

TAYLOR: You and I get to vote in nine months --

TAPPER: Right.

TAYLOR: -- and I don't have -- I'm not in a position to make that determination at (INAUDIBLE) --

TAPPER: Do you have concerns about any U.S. president in the future thinking that it is OK to withhold security assistance to a country that needs it, an ally, in exchange for investigations being announced into a political rival?

TAYLOR: I have concern about a precedent being set, having been set, where we withhold security assistance to a country that is in a fight, is in a battle, is in a war, in particular with the Russians, one of our two big adversaries that we've identified. So, I have very great concern about that and I would be concerned about that in the future.

So I am concerned about the withholding of assistance for reasons that are not related to national security.

TAPPER: And a political investigation is not related to national security.

TAYLOR: It's not related to national security.

TAPPER: Last question for you. You've given your life in service to this country whether fighting in Vietnam or decades in the diplomatic corps. You've gone to dangerous parts of the world. Then also you're thrust into this political maelstrom.

Tell me what your wife Deb and your kids thought about how you did and how you handled it and the position you took. Were they proud of you?

TAYLOR: They are. They have been. And they are.

As you may know, my wife thought it was a bad idea for me to go back to Ukraine. And she had good reasons for that. She thought I might be hopelessly naive in Kiev and might be swept up in the kind of things that have taken place. She would now I think say it was OK. I passed that test. But she's proud. My kids are proud. I'm proud that I have been able to serve by country.

TAPPER: All right. Ambassador Bill Taylor, thank you so much for your time. WE appreciate it.

TAYLOR: Thank you, Jake.

TAPPER: And you can see more of our interview with Ambassador Bill Taylor this evening on "CNN TONIGHT" at 10:00 p.m. Eastern, 7:00 p.m. Pacific and also on

Coming up, hundreds of Americans stuck in quarantine in what some are calling a floating prison as the coronavirus triples on one cruise ship. That's next.



TAPPER: The health lead now.

The number of cases of the coronavirus among passengers on a cruise ship has tripled in just the last day. Just yesterday, the ship dock in the Japan with 20 patients. Now it has 61, 11 of them from the United States. One woman learned she has the virus when a nurse knocked her cabin door and said the following in this moment caught on camera.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We need you to get ready. We don't know how long you will have to stay in the hospital.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK. Let me see your baggage (ph).


TAPPER: CNN's Will Ripley talked to that woman who's from Oregon.

Will, the anxiety setting in for her and many others stuck in close quarters.

WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, especially, Jake, she was told that she might be in the hospital for three days and can get back with her husband and she arrived to the hospital and found out it was going to be two weeks, at least.

And, of course, on the ship, people are stuck there for at least two weeks as well, because every time there's a new coronavirus case, that 14-day quarantine starts all over again. These are people who are having to basically sit, confined in their rooms for 23 hours a day. They're let outside for less than an hour under close supervision. And so, this luxury liner where people were at the casino and they were at the buffet and watching these shows just a week ago, now they feel like they're any way floating prison.

And the rooms -- well, they haven't even been sanitized since the coronavirus outbreak. Here's what that couple from Oregon told me.

[16:45:00] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KENT FRASURE, HUSBAND OF AMERICAN CORONAVIRUS PATIENT: We haven't had our room sanitized or anything like that. We haven't had any sort of -- we have gotten fresh towels, and our old ones go out.

But nobody from the crew staff has stepped foot in our room since the quarantine began.

REBECCA FRASURE, CORONAVIRUS PATIENT: I don't know what's going to happen an hour from now, tomorrow.

Like, for all we know, we could stay quarantined on the ship for a month. We just -- the not knowing is the hardest.


RIPLEY: Thirty seven hundred people on board that ship, Jake.

And for those who are healthy, even though scientists say it's unlikely the coronavirus is spread through the air, well, that's a little reassurance for people with young children sitting in their rooms looking up at the air vent -- Jake.

TAPPER: OK, Will Ripley, thanks so much.

That ship in Japan is one of three luxury liners worldwide dealing with this outbreak.

Another is docked just south of New York City.

Let's go to CNN's Polo Sandoval in Bayonne, New Jersey.

Polo, Royal Caribbean, now four guests tested for the virus did not show symptoms, but that apparently is not stopping the cruise line from adding additional travel restrictions.

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Jake, initially, it was 27 of the passengers aboard the Anthem of the Seas that caught the attention of health officials.

They boarded the ship after it docked here in New Jersey early this morning. As you mentioned, out of them, only four of them, that family of four, was not medically cleared. They were sent to a nearby hospital to get tested for coronavirus.

And it's important to point out, yes, they did not have any symptoms. However, they had recently traveled to mainland China, which was one of the main concerns here.

Now, as we wait for those test results to come back, we do know that Royal Caribbean is implementing stricter health screening protocols, and that includes guests that are holding passports for China or Hong Kong denied boarding.

Again, this is happening as -- and expect those measures to be in place when this ship heads back out to see tomorrow -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right, Polo Sandoval, thank you so much.

Democratic candidates face off tonight in the final debate before the first-in-the-nation primary.

Before he can even take the stage, Bernie Sanders is facing new attacks from an old rival.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: In our 2020 lead: Hillary Clinton's name may not be on the ballot this time around, at least not yet, but it is certainly not stopping her from taking aim at one Democratic front-runner and her former challenger, Senator Bernie Sanders.

She has already told various outlets that nobody in Congress likes to work with Sanders, nobody wants to work with him, that Sanders didn't do enough to back her in 2016.

And now Clinton's going there again, telling Ellen that Sanders can't deliver on his ambitious campaign promises.


HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), FORMER U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: You have got to be responsible for what you say and what you say you're going to do.

We need to rebuild trust in our fellow Americans and in our institutions. And if you promise the moon, and you can't deliver the moon, then that's going to be one more indicator of how we just can't trust each other.


TAPPER: I'm old enough to remember when she said similar things about Barack Obama in 2008 about him promising the moon.

But why do you think she's doing this?

ALEXANDRA ROJAS, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, JUSTICE DEMOCRATS: Well, I think, irregardless, we just got through this Iowa debacle. We are headed into the second state of New Hampshire.

I don't understand why we're talking about Hillary Clinton right now, when we need to be focused on defeating Donald Trump. And it's incredibly -- I think, the trust factor -- you have someone like -- everyone in the Democratic field understands that she also represents millions of people, but so does Bernie Sanders.

He represents a lot of young people, like myself, who engaged in politics for the very first time in 2016. And there are genuine policy differences between the two that I think are very, very fair game right now when it comes to the Iraq War, when it comes to holding Wall Street accountable.

She needs to let the Democratic primary play out by itself.

TAPPER: What do you think, Bill?

BILL KRISTOL, DIRECTOR, DEFENDING DEMOCRACY TOGETHER: I was struck you said that it reminded you of 2008. You're old enough to remember 2008, when Hillary Clinton attacked Barack Obama in that way.

But it reminded me, just to take the next step, Bill Clinton, remember, attacking Barack Obama, saying that was, what was it, pipe dream.

TAPPER: Oh, this is -- right -- the biggest fairy tale I have ever heard.

KRISTOL: This is a fairy tale.

And it hurt -- I think it helped Barack Obama. And it was sort of like the past coming back to attack the future. And I do have a little bit of the feeling here that Hillary Clinton -- and I think maybe this helps Buttigieg in some sense.

It's like, geez, all these people who've been around forever, who ran before, who are all in their 70s are all attacking each other. Maybe we just go to a younger generation.

LAURA BARRON-LOPEZ, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I think there's still a lot of raw emotions from 2016. You see it even in the electorate, when you're out on the campaign trail. They don't like when they see Democrats attacking each other viciously.

And Clinton supporters and Clinton -- people that have worked for Clinton still talk about that, as do Sanders supporters. They still talk about what transpired in 2016 and I think still hold a lot of those emotions, which is why I think you see Clinton coming out now taking a little bit of revenge, if she can, here and there in 2020.

TAPPER: A lot of revenge this week.

OLIVIER KNOX, SIRIUSXM: A lot of revenge this week.


KNOX: I think, to all of that, I would add what I said, that change is -- scary change is needed.

There are two versions of changes that's needed in the Democratic side. And I'm skeptical of -- quote, unquote -- "lanes." But there's the restore wing, which is sort of the Biden wing. And then there's the, like, no, no, no, break the system more, change it more.

And so you have got Warren and Bernie are very clearly on the change it more, needs a fundamental restructuring. And then Biden and I would argue Hillary are both arguing for, no, no, no, let's go back to the pre-Trump era.

TAPPER: Everyone, stick around.

A key impeachment witness and his brother have been forced out. More on the breaking news coming up.



TAPPER: And be sure to tune into "STATE OF THE UNION" this Sunday morning.

My guests will be two Democrats claiming victory in Iowa, with the next contest just days away, Senator Bernie Sanders and former Mayor Pete Buttigieg. Plus, we will also have Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez to talk about Iowa.

That's 9:00 a.m. and noon Eastern, only on CNN.

Follow me on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter @JakeTapper. And you can tweet the show @THELEADCNN. We actually read them.

Our coverage on CNN on this crazy breaking news day continues right now, with a key impeachment witness and his brother fired.

Stay with CNN.

See you Sunday.