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Bill Taylor with a New Bombshell Today; President Trump Skip to Watch the First Impeachment Hearing. Aired 11p-12a ET

Aired November 13, 2019 - 23:00   ET




ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome. It is 8 p.m. on the West Coast, 11 p.m. here in Washington, D.C. This is special edition of AC360, the first televised day of House impeachment hearings now in the books.

It ends with President Trump potentially more closely tied, personally tied to alleged efforts to squeeze Ukraine for help against political rival Joe Biden.

It came as a surprise. Bill Taylor, the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine telling lawmakers about an overheard phone call he did not know about when he last spoke with them behind closed doors.

On the one end of the call allegedly is Gordon Sondland, on the other end, the President of the United States. Ambassador Taylor says it was the man who now says he hardly knows who Sondland is, President Trump.


WILLIAM TAYLOR, FORMER UNITED STATES AMBASSADOR TO UKRAINE: The member of my staff could hear President Trump on the phone asking Ambassador Sondland about the investigations. Ambassador Sondland told President Trump the Ukrainians were ready to move forward.

Following the call with President Trump, the member of my staff asked Ambassador Sondland what President Trump thought about Ukraine. Ambassador Sondland responded that President Trump cares more about the investigations of Biden, which Giuliani was pressing for.


COOPER: Well, the staffer is David Holmes, who is now scheduled to speak friday to the committee off camera. Giuliani is of course the president's TV lawyer, Rudy Giuliani who certainly came up a lot today.


REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): Rudy Giuliani.



SCHIFF: Giuliani.



GOLDMAN: Rudy Giuliani.

And by the way, have you ever met Rudy Giuliani?


COOPER: Well, Giuliani as you know is on record boasting about his work in Ukraine on behalf of his client, the president. Senior State Department official George Kent who testified alongside Ambassador Taylor today was asked about that.


REP. TERRI SEWELL (D-AL): Was it normal to have a person who is a private citizen take an active role in foreign diplomacy?



COOPER: Mr. Kent was also asked about the substance, if any, of the allege Biden wrongdoing.


GOLDMAN: Mr. Kent, are you familiar as you indicated in your opening statements about these allegations related to Vice President Biden?

KENT: I am.

GOLDMAN: And to your knowledge, is there any factual basis to support those allegations?

KENT: None, whatsoever.


COOPER: The House Republicans who were given equal time for questioning devoted much of it to four key talking points, including this one voice by Congressman Jim Jordan who took the lead in a good deal of questioning.


REP. JIM JORDAN (R-OH): Ambassador, you weren't on the call, were you? The president -- you didn't listen in on President Trump's call and President Zelensky's call?

TAYLOR: I did not.

JORDAN: You never talked with Chief of Staff Mulvaney?

TAYLOR: I never did.

JORDAN: You never met the president?

TAYLOR: That's correct.

JORDAN: He had three meetings again with Zelensky that didn't come up.

TAYOR: And two of those I never heard of as far as I know.


JORDAN: And the president --

TAYPOR: There was no reason for it to come up.

JORDAN: And President Zelensky never made an announcement. This is what I can't believe and you're their star witness, you're their first witness?

TAYLOR: Mr. Jordan --

JORDAN: You're the guy -- you're the guy based on this, based on, I mean, I've seen church prayer chains that are easier to understand than this.

TAYLOR: OK. That I don't consider myself a star witness for anything.

JORDAN: They do.

TAYLOR: I don't. I'm just responding -- I'm responding to your questions.

SCHIFF: Please don't interrupt the witness.

TAYLOR: I think I was clear about I'm not here to take one side or another or to advocate any particular outcomes. So, let me just restate that.


COOPER: Well, it was, in many respects a remarkable day. And of course, it is only the beginning. Marie Yovanovitch the ousted ambassador to Ukraine will testify on camera on Friday. George Kent was asked about her today as well.


REP. ANDRE CARSON (D-IN): Did you support her extension? KENT: I asked her to extend it until the end of this year to get

through the elections cycle in Ukraine and under Secretary Hale in March asked her to stay until 2020.

CARSON: Now some in Ukraine probably disliked her efforts to help Ukraine root out corruption. Is that correct?

KENT: As I mentioned in my testimony, you can't promote principled any corruption action without pissing off corrupt people.


COOPER: Well, let's start it all off with our 11 o'clock distinguished panel and legal and political experts. And I got to say, you all are my favorites. We have a lot of fun together. You are the best.

Paul Begala, Elliot Williams, Carrie Cordero, Gloria Borger, Jen Psaki, and Scott Jennings. Paul, who do you think had the best day?

PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, the Democrats are trying to build a case. And I had a law professor who used to say a brick is not a wall and an argument is not a case. But they had a lot of important facts that came in, particularly the new one that you mentioned. That now we have not just hearsay but allegedly a first- person witness, who can put the president in the position of personally ordering up an investigation of his political rivals. That could be damming?

COOPER: That's Ambassador Sondland.

BEGALA: That's what -- that's what Ambassador Sondland was on the phone with the president and was overheard and the president was overheard by a third party. Let's see if we get to that.


Having been through an impeachment defense, though, I thought the defense today was non-existent. No one ever said he's innocent. Never. Because I don't think they believe -- I don't want to go to their motive. I know what they did. I just want to say they never said that he was innocent.

They attacked the process, they attacked Joe Biden's kids, they attacked all manner of things, but they never said he doesn't do it so they're left with saying well, he did it but it's not impeachable. There's probably that. Bribery is in the Constitution as an impeachable offense. And this looks like bribery.


COOPER: But they also have an argument which is valid, which is none of these people had a face-to-face with the president. None of them heard directly from the president.

BEGALA: But the people who did they won't let testify. COOPER: Well, I'm not saying -- that's also true.

BEGALA: That is a completely speechless argument when you don't. Mick Mulvaney in addition to John Bolton are the two that we need here from the most, base on what we heard today.


BEGALA: Mulvaney is the acting chief of staff and the budget director. The order went to the Budget Department to hold up this money. We have a right to know. And they won't let him testify.

SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I want to push back a little on the defense. I thought they made two key points today, Ratcliffe from Texas made a couple of points in questioning.

Number one, asked the witnesses, do you have any reason to doubt President Zelensky's words that he said publicly that he didn't feel pressured on the call? And he said I have no reason to doubt that.

And then he asked both witnesses, he said, he said, this is an impeachment hearing. You're both here to testify. Did you hear anything? Do you know anything that constitutes an impeachable defense? And neither of them would answer yes. So, they did get --


COOPER: No, no, no.

PSAKI: No, first of all.


JENNINGS: I mean, if they just --

COOPER: They didn't answer because that's not their job. One of the guys said that.

JENNINGS: Look, the purpose of this thing is not to get impeachment in the House. That's fait accompli. The purpose of this thing is to move public opinion to convince the Senate to do something. And this --


COOPER: Right. But these are not the two guys to ask that --

PSAKI: Exactly.

COOPER: -- because they clearly have said we are not here to be involved in any of the political --


JENNINGS: They went for -- I mean, (Inaudible) he was supposed to get on base.

PSAKI: Scott, actually, I think the strategy of the Democrats today was to begin as Paul said to layout the case. They moved from the quid pro quo language, thank God, because it's so confusing, to an argument that President Trump was trying to bribe a foreign power to benefit himself personally.

That alone was a good move on the communications and messaging front for the Democrats. I will say though, Scott, you know we know from just following and watching Ukraine that President Zelensky, one, is a weak and new president. He's a newbie to politics. He was a comedian just a few months before he took power. And he's somebody who had to deliver for the people in Ukraine.

There's no scenario where someone like that is going to say I felt pressured, because that would make him look weak. We all know the context of that, you know. So, that, I don't think that was an important development out of the hearing today.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I think it was important, actually, that they wouldn't answer that question, Scott. Because they had answered that question. The Republicans would be saying, see, they're never- Trumpers, they're a part of the deep state. They're here to get the president impeached.

Instead they said, you know what, this is not our job. It's as if you transplanted them from another era in another time --


BORGER: -- when diplomats were diplomats and were not political and they refuse to move there.


COOPER: Well, I actually think you'll actually find more people like them all over the foreign service.

BORGER: That's right.

COOPER: It's just they have been branded otherwise later.

BORGER: We don't see them.

COOPER: I want to play something -- Carrie, I want to play something that Congressman Jim Jordan said and then talk about it with you.


JORDAN: Now there is one witness, one witness that they won't bring in front of us. They won't bring in front of the American people. And that's the guy who started it all, the whistleblower.

Nope. Four hundred thirty-five members of Congress, only one gets to know who that person is. Only one member of Congress has the staff that gets to talk to that person. The rest of us don't. Only Chairman Schiff knows who the whistleblower is. We don't.


COOPER: I should point out one of the whistleblower's attorney is pushing back on that in some tweets tonight saying, quote, "the whistleblower never met with Chairman Schiff about this matter. The whistleblower did not receive assistance from any member of Congress or congressional staffer in drafting the complaints. And taking this as a step further, no one in Congress, members or staff or anyone else ever saw the complaint until it was released to Congress by the executive branch."

At this point, though, I mean, obviously, the Republicans are focus on the whistleblower. The president is focused on the whistleblower. But I mean, in reality, what does the whistleblower matter given that this thing has moved so far beyond what the whistleblower had initially said, all of which has pretty much been verified by subsequent witnesses?

CARRIE CORDERO, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Right. So, on the factual matter, the whistleblower and that person's identity doesn't matter anymore. The whistleblower followed the law, made the report to the intelligence community inspector general. That process took place.

The White House tried to hold it up. It ended up coming to Congress anyway. And the president had to release the transcript of the call.

The whistleblower's identity doesn't matter anymore because the other witnesses that have been called, that have testified both in closed session and now in open session under oath have attested to all of the facts that were in the original whistleblower complaint.


But let's not ignore what Jim Jordan is doing here. Because it's despicable. What he's doing is he is part of this effort to try to put pressure on the whistleblower, dissuade future whistleblowers.

I remember a time when Republicans in Congress and the intelligence committees protected whistleblowers and were concerned about that law being followed and that law being enacted in a way that would protect people in the intelligence community.

And what they're doing and what Jim Jordan is doing is trying to destroy that entire system that has been built up over years to protect --


COOPER: Also, Elliot, I mean, it's purely a political calculation of destroy the whistleblower, say he's a deep state actor who is a Democrat who hates Trump, and, therefore, this whole thing was borne in a witch's brew of a Democratic cabal.

ELLIOT WILLIAMS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Right. And here's the thing, and getting back to why you don't need the whistleblower to testify. Just use common sense if it were another criminal or even civil case.

Somebody says and comes forward to the police and says I know of the murder. I know of an assault. That's their last obligation. And then thereafter, the police can investigate it. You can bring witnesses to trial. And so, you don't need that person to testify. It's not -- so number one, there's that point.

Number two, it's profoundly dangerous what they're doing here. This is why his testimony, pardon me, his questioning today, Jim Jordan's questioning is precisely why there is a statute protecting federal whistleblowers. What he's doing is trying to out that person, get that person in trouble and in physical danger. And we know it could happen. It's already happened.


BEGALA: And they've taken it after poll. The poll as Scott said, is the Senate. There is likely be a trial in the Senate. The Senate is full of Republicans as well as Democrats who helped craft that whistleblower law, most particularly Chuck Grassley.

WILLIAMS: Chuck Grassley.


BEGALA: The senior senator from Iowa, one of the most conservative Republicans in the Senate and one of the strongest champions of the whistleblower protection, they are going to just -- so Jim Jordan can grandstand, they are going to screw up their trial in the Senate. It's really stupid.

JENNINGS: One thing about the testimony altogether today that I took away, is all these people are going to come and talk. But it seems to me this whole thing is going to come down to Sondland. He's the one they are going to talk to that actually talked to the president.

BEGALA: So, did Mulvaney, so did Bolton, why aren't we hearing from them?

JENNINGS: I mean, scheduled to testify, what kind of a dummy gets a phone call from the President of the United States and puts it on a speaker phone in a restaurant full of crowded people so everybody can hear it if that's exactly what happened?


BORGER: I'm not sure he was on speaker phone.

JENNINGS: You could hear it? I mean, I'm saying, step into the hallway. For God's -- it makes me -- it makes me wonder --


COOPER: Well, I mean, are they talking on a secure device?

JENNINGS: I don't know. It makes me, a, it makes me wonder, what was this guy doing? B, what is the White House going to say about this guy next week? He's already changed his testimony once.

COOPER: Of course, they're going to --


JENNINGS: When is it coming? When is it coming?

COOPER: What is he -- he's a hotel guy. They're going to like cement him in the pool.

Up next, one of the committee members makes it the first day of testimony. You will hear from Democratic Congressman Jamie Raskin.

And later, how a man who did not see a single minute of testimony is reacting. That would be, of course, the president and more when we continue.



COOPER: In addition to his surprise testimony which revealed a potentially significant new witness who now will be talking to the committee on Friday, Ambassador Bill Taylor also revisited who was asked to underscore key elements of his prior deposition to the committee.

One item was his complaint and text messages and elsewhere including a rare first-person diplomatic cable he sent to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo about the unorthodox arrangement he saw taking shape between Ukraine and Washington.


REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D-CA): You described in your text message exchanges that engaging in a scheme like this is, quote, "crazy." Can we also agree that it's just wrong?


SWALWELL: Why is it wrong?

TAYLOR: Again, our holding up of security systems that would go to a country that is fighting aggression from Russia for no good policy reason, no good substantive reason, no good national security reason is wrong.


COOPER: Again, he covered much the same ground in testimony behind closed doors. Now the question tonight going forward, does saying it on camera move the needle at all?

I talked about that with Maryland Democratic Congressman and committee member Jamie Raskin. I spoke to him just before air time.


COOPER: Do you think Democrats accomplished what they wanted to today or needed to?

REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D-MD): Yes. Look, we needed to resituate this in the global context that the events took place in what Ambassador Taylor and George Kent showed was, look, there is a struggle going on, on planet earth right now between the dictators and the despots and the autocrats and the kleptocrats on one side, and the liberal democracies on the other side.

And everybody knows that Donald Trump favors the people on the side of the Dem -- you know, the despots and the tyrants, but in this case, he went beyond that. He actually undermined and tried to sabotage one of the struggling liberal democracies on earth, Ukraine.

And it's been U.S. foreign policy to try to help Ukraine, because Russia is occupying part of their country, the Crimea, invaded their country. And there are active military hostilities. Congress voted $391 million to support the struggling democracy in Ukraine. There is a new president who is a reformer who is trying to attack corruption.


And Donald Trump and Rudy Giuliani and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern and the whole team of corrupt operatives that they have over there tried to essentially extract from the Ukrainian government political favors as the cost of getting the money that we voted for.

COOPER: One of the things though, the Republicans have been pushing back on is that, you know, all the people testifying thus far today, you know, if they didn't have a face-to-face with the president, in which he, you know, they -- it's secondhand, they say.

RASKIN: Look at how convenient that is. They spend the last several weeks trying to do everything they can to pull the wool over America's eyes to stonewall on witnesses, to deny us the people who actually have the first-hand accounts, because they don't want them coming forward to tell the truth.

And then they complain that there are not enough people who spoke directly to the president. That's their fault that there are not enough people who spoke directly to the president.

In any event, we have overwhelming evidence from all of these other witnesses about exactly what happens taking place. It was a shakedown operation, engineered by the president and Giuliani to try to get this political dirt that they wanted on the Bidens.

COOPER: Ambassador Taylor testified to something today that he said he hadn't previously known when he testified behind closed doors, which was that an aide told him that the aide was having dinner with Sondland. Sondland had a phone call with President Trump.

RASKIN: Yes. COOPER: And then he characterized what the then Sondland

characterized the president's thoughts about Ukraine. To you, was that incredibly important?

RASKIN: It was very important. It's another piece of evidence, of course, our friends across the aisle will try to explain it away. But it was another very important piece of evidence that the president was the captain of the ship.

And look, America knows Donald Trump well enough at this point to understand he was the one who was pushing the whole operation. I mean, that's how he operates. It's all about him. And it's about his obsession and what he's pushing and he was pushing this.

COOPER: Right.

RASKIN: And in fact, they bragged about that -- this numerous times. It's not exactly an Agatha Christi mystery.

COOPER: Right. If you are making the just the logical, I don't quite understand that argument by the Republicans, because if you are making the argument that the president didn't know anything about this, the president didn't have anything to do with this, then you are arguing that Rudy Giuliani and Perry of all people, and you know, Sondland are wandering around doing their own foreign policy and stuff.

RASKIN: Pompeo. Yes. And that can't be right.

COOPER: You know, Democrats are not waiting around to have this go through courts in order to try to get Bolton to testify or Mulvaney. There are some people who say look, you know, that in an ideal world you would want somebody like a Bolton or Mulvaney who obviously had a face-to-face with the president on this.

RASKIN: Well, in an ideal world in under the rule of law, everybody would give the sovereign, which is the Congress of the United States their honest, truthful testimony. That's the way our system is supposed to work under the rule of law.

So, it's absolutely scandalous and shameful that you got people out there with a subpoena from the United States Congress and they say, gee, I'm not sure if I should comply with the subpoena or do what the president is telling me to do. I think I'll go to court to work it out.

COOPER: Congressman Raskin, I appreciate it. Thank you.

RASKIN: Thank you for having me.


COOPER: And still to come tonight, President Trump reacting to the witness testimony that he says he actually didn't see but definitely did tweet and retweet a lot about.


COOPER: During the joint press conference with the president of Turkey, President Trump disavowed the entirety of today's hearings. He said he didn't watch it although he certainly tweeted and retweeted about it.

He also distances himself from the day's big surprise the report of a new witness who says he overheard a phone call where the president and Gordon Sondland discussed the president's interest in investigations when it came to Ukraine and corruption of the Bidens and CrowdStrike, et cetera.

Here's what the president said.


TRUMP: I know nothing about that. The first time I've heard it. The one thing I've seen that Sondland said was that he did speak to me for a brief moment and I said no quid pro quo under any circumstances and that's true. The other I've never heard this. In any event, it's more second-hand information. But I've never heard it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you recall the conversation?

TRUMP: I don't recall, no, not at all. Not even a little bit.


COOPER: And Jeremy Diamond joins me with the latest. So, the president says he didn't watch it. Do we know if that's actually true? Because clearly, he's a man who likes the television set.

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well, Anderson, I've talked to several officials who insisted that the president was not watching this public meeting for much of today. He was in meetings; he was busy preparing for the Turkish president's visit to the White House and then busy in the meetings with the Turkish president.

They say that he was not glued to the television in the way that he has been of course in previous public testimonies when other officials, other former aides of his are making allegations about his conduct.

The president though claimed that he did not watch a single minute of this which is a little bit harder to believe, Anderson, especially given that the president has a television in the dining room just outside the Oval Office that he often checks in on during the day.

And of course, his account, whether it was him or his staff was tweeting and retweeting about the testimony more than two dozen times today.

The president though, Anderson, in either way, he was briefed at the end of today and his aides insisted to him that today was a good day of public testimony. So, one thing is certainly clear is that White House officials are trying to project a sense of calm, trying to insist that there was nothing damaging of course in the testimony today.

COOPER: Is it known if the White House was aware of this alleged conversation between Sondland and the president before Taylor testified about it today?

DIAMOND: Well, Anderson, we've talked to a couple of White House officials who said that it was a revelation to them. And they said that their colleagues were also surprised by this news.


Again, the revelation being that Bill Taylor, an aide to Bill Taylor -- excuse me -- overheard a conversation between Gordon Sondland, the ambassador to the European Union and President Trump in which President Trump said, look, he's interested in these investigations, he's asking about the investigations and Sondland is suggesting to him that the Ukrainians will ultimately give in, will give him what he wants.

Republicans, keep in mind, Anderson, were critical today of the fact that there was one degree of separation between the allegations that some of these officials today were making and President Trump. That is going to change.

David Holmes, the aide that overheard that conversation between Gordon Sondland and the president, is expected to be deposed at the end of the week. And next week, we are expected to hear, of course, from Gordon Sondland himself in public testimony.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Jeremy Diamond, thanks very much. I appreciate it. We are back now with everyone. Jen, I mean, how unusual would it be for the president of the United States? I don't know who called whom, but for the president of the United States, you have a phone conversation with the ambassador to the E.U. while the ambassador to the E.U. happens to be in Ukraine on a trip.

JEN PSAKI, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Quite unusual. It is also by timing. It was probably late at night, if he was at dinner. The other thing I was remembering today is that in his addendum, in Gordon Sondland's addendum, he references to his testimony, he references that he can't remember whether he had one or two phone calls with President Trump.

So, I expect that will be a major line of questioning next week. What conversations did he have? Now, he was a major donor to President Trump. He gave a million dollars to the inaugural committee. That's how he got this ambassadorship. So perhaps --

COOPER: Well, that's not all.


PSAKI: He also seems very bright, Anderson. But beyond that -- so maybe they had a relationship related to 2020. I mean, who knows? I mean, there are lots of theories here that could be true.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, if you believe the president, they had no relationship at all. He said, well, I don't even really know him. Remember that? So -- and today, he at least acknowledged that perhaps he had spoken to him for a brief minute or whatever he said. But there was one point when the president said I don't really know who he is.

PSAKI: It's very uncommon to speak with any political ambassador on the phone for a president and certainly not one you don't know or don't know anything about. That's --

SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Although this president does work the phones, I mean, I think the reporting is pretty clear on this. He calls a lot of people. He calls members of Congress all the time. So I think he probably calls more.

COOPER: But how important is Ukraine to the president other than the Bidens and, you know, CrowdStrike. That, I understand, is important. But it just seems like for the president to invest a time to actually talk to this person, who he says he doesn't know to just check up on the investigation that seems -- that it would be important to the president.

PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: And according to Ambassador Taylor's testimony, his aide, Ambassador Taylor's aide who overheard the president pushing about investigations, later then asked Sondland, how does the president feel about Ukraine? He said he cares more about the investigations to the Biden than he cares about Ukraine.

Ukraine is being invaded by Russia. They have lost 13,000 people and our president cares more about his stupid opposition research effort than he does about --

ELLIOT WILLIAMS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: And even taking the president at his word that he cared about corruption, pretend for a second that that's sincere, we have no indication anywhere that the president really cared about corruption anywhere else in the world.

BEGALA: You don't think he raised it with Erdogan today?

WILLIAMS: I'm pretty confident that he didn't raise it with Erdogan today. That's -- and we know that that's the excuse they've given even though corruption --

COOPER: Right. I mean, there is certainly no worry about it in Saudi Arabia --


COOPER: -- with MBS or any of the places that --

WILLIAMS: Ample opportunity to address corruption worldwide. Give them the chip. Maybe they did. But we have no indication.

COOPER: But also, what was interesting just in hearing Kent and Taylor talk today is the extent to which U.S. policy has been an anti- corruption policy in Ukraine. I mean, you can argue maybe it's not effective. But, it does seem like all the people that Guiliani is embracing and touting are actually, according to these witnesses, they're actually the ones who are corrupt. They're part of the problem.

PSAKI: Including Shokin, who was the corrupt prosecutor that the American government, that the IMF, the European were trying to get fired for some time. Now, part of the time line that is interesting to me at least is that in 2017 and 2018, there was increased amount of aid that was given to Ukraine.

I understand Scott and others want to give President Trump a lot of credit for that. That's fine. Lethal assistance included. He didn't really care about that. That was fine until Joe Biden started running for president, and he wanted to get involved and figure out what he could get out of it. So, there is an interesting time line here, too, I think, Scott.

JENNINGS: Well, I mean, I don't want to gloss over the lethal assistance issue because I've been harping on this all day. Remember, Russia invaded in 2014, and the Obama administration refused to give lethal assistance to these folks to fight the Russians for two years.

PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

JENNINGS: We sent out other things but not lethal assistance. Trump shows up. And now we are giving lethal assistance and Javelin missiles.


JENNINGS: On that, who is helping Ukrainians fight the Russians more, Obama or Trump? And a lot of Republicans --

WILLIAMS: That is --

JENNINGS: On that, who has got a tougher foreign policy? If you are worried about Russian influence, who actually gave these people weapons to fight the Russians?

WILLIAMS: That is all distraction from --

JENNINGS: Did he not care about that, though?

WILLIAMS: I think you are distracting from -- this is what Republicans have been doing all day, which is look at the issue. Did the president --

JENNINGS: I think --


COOPER: Mulvaney fighting against having Javelins in because it would -- that's the latest reporting, that Mulvaney was fighting against giving them Javelins or having them buy Javelins because it might upset the Russians.

WILLIAMS: The president's defense --

COOPER: And --

BEGALA: He pulled back a destroyer that was going into the Black Sea to stand up to the Russians. I saw the story on CNN.


BEGALA: That is good. I'm with you on that. I think President Obama was wrong.

COOPER: I agree with you. But, I mean, the argument that he's tougher on Russia than anyone else, I mean, he pulled troops out of -- he allowed --

JENNINGS: Lethal aid is better than --

COOPER: He allowed the invasion by Turkey into areas that the U.S. had a foothold in with our Kurdish allies.

BEGALA: Also, Congress voted for that aid, and the president held it up. The only reason he released it was because Congress --


PSAKI: -- because there was a new election and because they got a clean bill of health and corruption after taking --

BEGALA: I still think --

PSAKI: That was the time line of what actually happened.

BORGER: The key thing is that you called it policy, which it was. You can disagree with it. You can say it was wrong. Ambassador Taylor disagreed with it and thought it was wrong. It was not extortion. It was not bribery. It was not something else. It was policy.

WILLIAMS: Focus, people. This is about did the president condition aid on investigation --

BORGER: Right.

WILLIAMS: -- not about, what about Barack Obama?

COOPER: All right. We got to take a quick break. Ahead, we will take you to Wisconsin. We at "360" and Gary Tuchman spoke with a group of independent voters who are undecided about the 2020 election. Here's their reaction to day one of the public impeachment testimony.



COOPER: No matter who you think gained the political high ground today, the real test of perception versus reality could rest, of course, with voters. Voters like a group of undecided voters that our Gary Tuchman met with in the swing state of Wisconsin, which of course went to President Trump in 2016 by virtual (ph) margin, they all watched the hearings together today. Here's what Gary found.


GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the politically important state of Wisconsin, we watched the impeachment hearing with six voters, who are undecided about 2020.

(On camera): Do you think that this day was problematic for the president?

DIMITRY BECKER, WISCONSIN VOTER: It definitely opened some doors. It opened up a lot more to discussion.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): Each of these six say they could go for a Republican or for a Democrat in the next presidential election. And regarding how this day went for the president --

RYAN DELANEY, WISCONSIN VOTER: I think it could have been a lot worse. I was really -- like really thought it would be a lot worse.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): They may have watched the same hearing. But our group had very different takes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): I think that, overall, the testimony that Ambassador Taylor gave is making me think and doubt Donald Trump's intentions behind his actions.

KAREN SCHROEDER, WISCONSIN VOTER: I think they'd have to have a lot of harder evidence against him to think that this was impeachable.

MARY BECK, WISCONSIN VOTER: I feel like he's leaving a wake behind him of problem after problem after problem.

TUCHMAN (on camera): How many of you were impressed with the witnesses? All of you. So you believe what they said. Do any of you doubt what they said? Yet not all of you think it was a bad day for the president. They said some things that were pretty negative about the president.

ULLA PINION, WISCONSIN VOTER: They did. But they were only able to say what they heard or what they gleaned through multiple different venues. That's what I mean about the president not finding evidence to defend himself.

TUCHMAN (on camera): That leads me to this question, because you set it up very well. It's a catch 22, isn't it? Republicans are saying you don't have first-hand knowledge. But the Trump administration isn't letting people with first-hand knowledge testify. Does that trouble you?

BECKER: Yeah, definitely. It reminds me of the secret courts of Russia where I was born. I mean, you had people during the Soviet Union time, they weren't allowed to bring witnesses forward because those witnesses might discredit the government.

SCHROEDER: It would be good to have all the evidence heard. I think that would solidify the answer.

TUCHMAN (on camera): Did you think the White House make a mistake by telling people they can't testify?

SCHROEDER: It causes a problem, certainly, as if they were covering up something or hiding something.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): One person in our panel says she could potentially vote for a Republican for president, just not Donald Trump. The rest say Trump could still get their votes. They all say they will continue to watch the hearings.

(On camera): Who was it a better day for, Republicans or Democrats?

BECKER: Republicans.

BECK: Democrats.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): Republicans.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice-over): Neither.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): Neither.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice-over): Republicans.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): Democrats.


COOPER: Gary joins me now. Did any of the folks say today that moved the needle for them in any way in terms of voting?

TUCHMAN: Well, I do want to say, Anderson, that although they were all undecided, they did have different voting patterns in 2016. Three of them voted for Donald Trump, one voted for Hillary Clinton, one for Gary Johnson, a libertarian candidate, and the other man said he didn't want to toss who he voted for.

But they're all united about their personal opinions about impeachment and removal from office. They don't want to give a personal yay or nay until these hearings are all over.


COOPER: I hope you provided with like food and water because that room looked kind of bare. I'm just a little worried.

TUCHMAN: We are the best caterers.

COOPER: All right.

TUCHMAN: Oyster, lobster.


COOPER: I imagine they -- whether they heard anything above all the slurping. Gary, thank you very much. Coming up next, we'll be back with our legal and political team to discuss.



COOPER: At the end of a long and certainly historic day, one thing is clear. It's almost always instructive to talk with actual voters like the ones we just heard from in Gary Tuchman's report, and I have actual human beings to talk to here as well.


COOPER: What do you -- when you hear undecided voters like that, do you take away -- I mean, obviously it's not a scientific poll.

BEGALA: What they want are facts. They want to know the narrative, the storyline. And I did think that Adam Schiff particularly chairing this committee was judicious. He was very poised. That could have been a freak show, and frankly that would have inured to the Republicans' benefits.

I think some of them, particularly Congressman Jordan, were trying to make it into one. So I think those voters watching that, they look and they see who's really got the national interest at heart, this very calm, unflappable chairman or this sort of spinning, gyrating top that Mr. Jordan was.

COOPER: Scott, I think I saw an article you wrote today essentially saying today was kind of awash for Democrats.

JENNINGS: Yeah, I thought it was a lost day because I think it's a relative certainty the House is going to vote to impeach the president. So really the only mission here is to try to make a public argument that would cause the public to force their senators to change their opinion.

Right now, I don't think they're anywhere near having the votes to convict the president. So to some degree I see this as a public relations issue. And from that perspective, I didn't see a compelling moment that would have shifted public opinion.

On the voters, by the way, Gary didn't ask this, but I was sort of thinking when we were watching them, I wonder what they think about this argument because I think Republicans are going to make it. There's a remedy. If you're torn on impeachment, the remedy is we're going to have an election. And by the time a trial is getting wrapped up in the Senate, they'll be casting the first votes in this election. I think a lot of people who are torn about, I don't know what to do, that is going to be a compelling argument for them.

WILLIAMS: So he's above the law. That is exactly the reason why the framers put impeachment in the Constitution in the first place, which is that sometimes people who ought not be elected president of the United States based on their conduct or based on their behavior need to be removed from office by an extra political process.

So this came up in the context of Merrick Garland too, that merely because we were approaching an election year, that somehow the Senate shouldn't fulfil its constitutional duty. That is just not the right way to go about this. They took an oath to protect the Constitution, and you don't throw it out the door merely because of the elections.

PSAKI: You can see some of the effort to stretch this longer. As you see, Senator Burr came out yesterday and said it was going to be six to eight weeks, maybe meeting every day.

COOPER: Stretch it longer. That ties up the senators who are running --

PSAKI: Exactly because you have the Iowa caucus, which is the first week of February. That could stretch it beyond then.

COOPER: Because they all have to attend. It's not like regular votes.

PSAKI: Of course.

BORGER: Six days a week.

PSAKI: Six days a week. They wouldn't be on the campaign trail.

COOPER: Do we actually have to attend?



BORGER: You do as well.

PSAKI: Write a note to Senator Burr.

BORGER: Right. I think they're worried about it. And I think that Mitch McConnell, being as smart as he is, is thinking about this.

COOPER: Carrie, do you think that the rest of the testimony is essentially -- I mean, I don't know if they tried to lead with what they felt were their best witnesses or they're trying to kind of build a framework and then, you know, have the lieutenant colonel come in in uniform. What do you expect moving forward?

CARRIE CORDERO, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, I've been looking for Bill Taylor's testimony for a while. I think he in particular -- I thought George Kent was compelling from his diplomatic perspective, but Bill Taylor had a lot of facts because he was involved in different deliberations and conversations over the delivery of aid, and he personally was trying to figure out during this August period what in the world was going on with this aid and why was it being held up.

So I think he had an important story to tell. I do agree with something that Scott said earlier this evening, which is that I think there is a lot of attention going to be on Gordon Sondland's testimony next week.


CORDERO: I think as more of this information, in particular the new information about the new witness and that conversation that was held with Gordon Sondland, Ambassador Sondland really is going to need to get in touch with his memory between now and early next week --


CORDERO: -- because the new witness is going to testify under oath on Friday in closed session. And Gordon Sondland is going to testify in open session.

COOPER: And he's not going to be able to read --

CORDERO: He's not going to know what that person testifies under oath. And so he's already corrected his testimony one time. Congress is not going to look kindly on him having to do do-overs again.

COOPER: Who would have ever thought that so much would hang on the shoulders of Gordon Sondland? When he gave $1 million to the inaugural committee, do you really think he thought, you know what, this could end up in (INAUDIBLE) --


JENNINGS: He would fare better than (INAUDIBLE).


BORGER: And I don't know if -- do people here think that Bolton will end up testifying or not, that he might testify in a Senate trial?

COOPER: Jeff Toobin earlier made the point, if he's running around the country getting paid to make speeches and in the speeches he's talking about his opinion on what he saw, the question is why doesn't he just do it for the American people?


WILLIAMS: Same thing with a court order.


BEGALA: He has an obligation. You can't refuse a subpoena. This is still supposed to be the rule of law. When you're subpoenaed, you have to show.

COOPER: That's it for us. We'll be right back. More news ahead.