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Explosive Testimony Further Implicates Trump in Ukraine Scheme; Trump's Long History of "Don't Know" Or "Don't Recall"; Pelosi Speaks to Reporters; Sheriff's Department Responding to Shooting at High School in California. Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired November 14, 2019 - 11:00   ET




ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: And good afternoon. I'm Anderson Cooper. You are watching CNN's special coverage of the impeachment hearings into President Trump. Thanks for joining me.

A milestone in the Trump presidency. Probably not one that the administration is celebrating as the first day one of the public impeachment hearings is in the history books.

Two career diplomats, Bill Taylor, the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, and Deputy State Department Assistant Secretary George Kent testifying about White House efforts to pressure Ukraine to launch investigations. That was yesterday.

One of them, the investigations, was to dig up dirt on Joe Biden. All of it in exchange for a White House invitation and nearly $400 million in aid, mostly military aid.

Over several hours, Taylor and Kent pointed the finger at Rudy Giuliani, acting White House chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, and the E.U. ambassador and Trump campaign donor, Gordon Sondland, highlighting their involvement in those efforts.

In a pretty stunning development, Taylor revealed that President Trump may have had a more direct role than he or his Republican allies have admitted.

Here is what he told Congress yesterday.


BILL TAYLOR, U.S. DIPLOMAT TO UKRAINE: In the presence of my staff, at a restaurant, Ambassador Sondland called President Trump and told him of his meetings in Kiev. A 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: To recap, President Trump, according to Sondland, was overheard asking Ambassador Sondland about Ukraine's investigations or the investigations he wanted Ukraine to have into Joe Biden.

Less than a week ago, this is what the president told reporters when asked about Sondland.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Let me just tell you, I hardly know the gentleman. But this is the man who said there was no quid pro quo. And he still says that.


COOPER: Pamela Brown is at the White House right now.

Pamela, what's the reaction of the Trump administration to this revelation? The president says himself he has no knowledge of this.

PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, the White House was caught off guard by this revelation and immediately put officials on the defensive, having to formulate new pushback. They're saying the aide was so concerned about the call, why didn't he raise it earlier than a week ago to Bill Taylor.

And they're repeating a common talking point, that, once again, it's another example of hearsay. Officials with firsthand knowledge are expected to testify soon, Anderson. A State Department aide will be meeting behind closed doors tomorrow and Ambassador Sondland is expected to testify publicly next week.

Depending what comes out of that, the White House may need to rethink its talking points about this.

As for the president, he was quick to distance himself from that call. Here is what he had to say.


TRUMP: I know nothing about that. First time I've heard it. 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 secondhand information, but I've never heard it.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Do you recall having conversations --


TRUMP: I don't recall. No, not at all. Not even a little bit. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BROWN: Sondland is known for having a direct link to the president. During his closed-door testimony, he told lawmakers he talked to Trump the day after the Zelensky call, July 26th. He called it a short and non-substantive conversation.

But, Anderson, this new revelation about the call is certainly giving new ammunition to Democrats who say this information implicates the president and shows the instructions on pressing Ukraine to open up investigations into Democrats were coming from the top -- Anderson?

COOPER: Pamela Brown, thank you very much.

Sondland will be testifying next week. You heard the president, doesn't recall that conversation that he allegedly had with Gordon Sondland on Ukraine. I don't recall, or sometimes it's, I don't remember.

Also the president's go-to answers for the Russia investigation, it's far from the only time.

CNN's political correspondent, Sara Murray, took a look back to the president's responses to some of the most pressing questions.

Sara, let's start with his responses to Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, "I can't recall. I don't remember. I barely knew the guy." We're used to hearing that from President Trump.

When it came to the Mueller report, the president offered up a very lawyerly "I can't recall" more than 30 times.

But those non-denial denials have not held up particularly well, especially when it comes to the Roger Stone trial that's been playing out. One of the things the president said he couldn't recall were whether there were any conversations between Roger Stone and WikiLeaks.

In fact, a witness took the stand, Rick Gates, a former Trump campaign aide, said he was present when President Trump spoke to Roger Stone, apparently, about WikiLeaks, during the campaign. The president then turned to Rick Gates and said he believed more information was coming.


This is not the only time the president has drawn a blank when it comes to some uncomfortable questions. Remember when the president was asked about paying off Stormy Daniels?


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Mr. President, did you know about the $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels? TRUMP: No. No.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Why did Michael Cohen make this, if there was no truth to those allegations?

TRUMP: You'll have to ask Michael Cohen. Michael is my attorney. You'll have to ask Michael Cohen.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Do you know where he got the money to make that payment?

TRUMP: I don't know.


MURRAY: Later, it would come out that President Trump did, in fact, know full well about those payments. He was even implicated when Michael Cohen went to court and was charged with campaign finance violations in knowing about those payments.

The other people that President Trump says he doesn't seem to know about are Giuliani associates, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman. They were charged with campaign finance violations. Here is what the president had to say about those two gentlemen.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: What conversations have you had with Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman?

TRUMP: I don't know those gentlemen. Now it's possible I have a picture with them I have a picture with everybody. I have a picture with everybody here, but somebody said there may be a picture or something at a fundraiser or somewhere. But I have pictures with everybody. I have -- I don't know if there's anybody I don't have pictures.

I don't know them. I don't know about them. I don't know what they do. But I don't know. Maybe they were clients of Rudy. You would have to ask Rudy. I just don't know.


MURRAY: Turns out they had more than just one picture together. The "KFILE" team turned out about 10 different instances where President Trump interacted with these two folks.

Again, the president tends to turn to this "I don't recall, I never knew them" response when he gets into tight spots. We'll see how that holds up this time.

Back to you.

COOPER: Sara Murray, thank you very much. Nancy Pelosi is speaking right now. Let's listen in.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: The process, political process, depositions, subpoenas, perjury, and so forth. This was made starting clear by Chairman Schiff it seemed to me, when he said he would do everything necessary to ensure the legal rights of the whistleblower --

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): That's right.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: -- to preserve anonymity --

PELOSI: Right.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: -- in this political setting. I wonder if you can explain to the American people why the legal rights of the whistleblower should prevail in this political setting over those of President Trump, who should ordinarily enjoy a right to confront his accuser.

PELOSI: Let me just say this. I'll say to you, Mr. Republican talking point, what I said to the president of the United States. When you talk about the whistleblower, you're coming into my wheelhouse. I have more experience in intelligence than anybody in the Congress. Anybody who has ever served, 25 years on the committee as top Democrat, ex officio and speaker and leader.

I was there when we wrote the whistleblower laws. The whistleblower is there to speak truth to power and have protection for doing that, and any retribution or harm coming to the whistleblower undermines our ability to hear truth about power. I will defend the rights of the whistleblower vehemently, vehemently.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: But the president --

PELOSI: The president can come and -- if he has a case to make, does the president want to come speak? Does he want to present in writing or speak to the committee about his -- what might be exculpatory for him? He has that right to do.

But nobody, nobody, the president -- the president is not above the law. The president will be held accountable. And nobody should have the right to endanger whistleblowers. And that is the system that I will defend, and the American, the American people understand that.

Yes, ma'am?

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: You talked about bribery a second ago.

PELOSI: Yes, bribery.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: That's a very serious charge.

PELOSI: It's in the Constitution.

(CROSSTALK) PELOSI: You know, talking Latin around here, from anyone. Quid pro quo. Bribery. Bribery. And that is in the Constitution attached to the impeachment proceedings.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: And what was the bribe here?

PELOSI: The bribe is to grant or withhold military assistance in return for a public statement of a fake investigation into the elections. That's bribery.



UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Are you looking at an article of impeachment?

PELOSI: I don't know that. We haven't even made a decision to impeach. That's what the inquiry is about.


PELOSI: And when the committees decide that, and they will decide what the articles are. But I am saying that what is -- the president has admitted to and says it's perfect. I say it's perfectly wrong. It's bribery.



UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: -- talking about the importance of the public, bringing the public along on the idea of impeachment. Do you think your members' questioning was effective in convincing the public this was a worthwhile thing to pursue?

PELOSI: Well, it's -- look, first and foremost, we have a responsibility to honor our oath of office, to protect and defend the Constitution from all enemies, foreign and domestic. And that is our responsibility.

The clarity for the public to understand what is there, it wasn't as clear, in my view, when you say obstruction of justice, obstruction of justice, obstruction of justice 11 times in the Mueller report. That is justification enough for inquiring into an impeachment.

This had a story, a narrative about the president threatening to grant or withhold certain privileges and certain military assistance, voted on by the Congress to Ukraine, which is in our national interest to do so because they were fighting the Russians. They've already lost over 11,000, 12,000, 13,000 people fighting the Russians.

That's why I say all roads lead to Putin. Putin benefited from our not -- any holding up of that foreign -- that military assistance. Putin benefited by the action taken by the president, vis-a-vis Syria and Turkey. Because they wanted a stronger stronghold in the Middle East and the president gave them that. Putin benefited from the president's comments about uncertainty about our support, and the list goes on.

I won't even go into the elections. Just those three because those are the three that I have mentioned to the president when I have said with you, Mr. President, all roads lead to Putin.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: You kept saying that you haven't really decided to move --


PELOSI: We haven't. That will be up to the committee's to decide.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Do you believe yesterday's testimony from George Kent and Bill Taylor moved the needle for Democrats more?

PELOSI: This isn't about for Democrats. This is for the American people. This is about patriotism. It's not about politics, Democrats, Republicans. It's not about anything political. It's about patriotism. It's about honoring our oath of office and to uphold the Constitution. And the Constitution spells out what our responsibilities are and what our penalties are.

And yesterday I think -- I do believe that the truth will set us free. And so the truth, coming from the president's own appointee, the president's own appointee describing bribery, and threatening the identity of the whistleblower, that was just shameful behavior on the part of the Republican.



PELOSI: Yes, ma'am.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: USMCA is imminent. How do you think AFL-CIO is poised to respond if the bill is going to be considered in the House?

PELOSI: We have shared values with the AFL-CIO and believe that the growth of our economy is blessed with more participation from collective bargaining, workplace safety, all of that.

So I think we will have -- we'll see what the implementation is, what that is and the enforcement is. And I think it will be a value shared by our friends in labor as well as the Democrats in Congress.

We're in a good place. As I say, I want this to be a template for future trade agreements. The work that we put in here will not only have a benefit in the U.S./Mexico/Canada Agreement but for the globalization discussion in general.

And so what we'll have to do is, as soon as we come to conclusion, is to have the implementing language written, and we have an idea of what that would be.

So I think we are -- I would like to see us get it done this year. That would be my goal. I don't imagine that it would take much more in the Senate to pass. I mean, some of our legislation won't pass this year, but in the Senate, I would hope that they would move quickly with this.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Do you believe that personally --


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: You say that the House has not decided to pursue impeachment?

PELOSI: That's right.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: But when we see the hearing yesterday, a lot of questions about impeachment. A lot of questions on bribery, abuse of power and things that go into articles of impeachment. Why would the public not think that the House is dead set on a course to impeach the president when all of this milieu is going on?

PELOSI: Well, all this milieu is the seeking of the truth. It's called an inquiry. If the president has something that is exculpatory -- Mr. President, that means you have anything that shows your innocence -- he should make that known. That's part of the inquiry. And so far, we haven't seen that. But we welcome it. And that's what the inquiry is about.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Do you think that there's a way, considering all the hearings and all the depositions, that there's any way that the House could not impeach, with all of this work regardless?

PELOSI: Perhaps you've not heard me when I said this is something we're very -- do with a heavy heart. This is very prayerful, because impeaching is a divisive thing in our country. It's hard.

And the place that our country is now, it's not a time where you go to 70 percent when people -- when President Nixon walked out of the White House. It wasn't there before he left, even two weeks before he left. It wasn't there until the other shoe fell and he walked out the door.

By the way, what President Trump has done on the record in terms of acting to advantage his -- a foreign power to help him in his own election and obstruction of information about that, the cover-up, makes what Nixon did look almost small, almost small.

But, again, an inquiry is an inquiry, and people come in and you hear what they have to say. Next week, some of the Republican suggestions of witnesses will come in and we'll hear what they have to say.

But this is not something that you take lightly and you make a decision as you go along.

One last question.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: On the C.R., when the hearings --


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: -- are still going on, negotiating a resolution, what's been the working --


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: -- relationship with the White House? Have they been involved in this process, I guess, the adage of walking and chewing gum at the same time?

PELOSI: I'm not a gum chewer.


PELOSI: But I do eat a lot of chocolate as I walk around here.

Obviously, the president, the four, the House, Senate, Republicans, and the White House, we all have to come to an agreement. Left to their own devices, appropriators come from the culture of appropriations and intelligence. Both places that, by and large, when I first started, there were not particularly partisan. But left to their own devices, appropriators know how to get their job done.

So without going into any detail, we're moving in a direction because we do not want a shutdown of government. We prefer not to have a continuing resolution. So we have to make some decisions as we go forward.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: The White House is going to sign off.

PELOSI: When you say the white -- you mean the administration?


PELOSI: Well, the administration. Let's just say the administration. OK?


PELOSI: And whoever they may designate at the table.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Madam Speaker, given that Republicans have been arguing that yesterday's witnesses only heard things secondhand, I'm wondering if you think it would be worth waiting for those who have heard firsthand -- (INAUDIBLE).

PELOSI: Cheryl, Cheryl, Cheryl. Don't fall into the secondhand stuff. Really. That is such a fraudulent proposition put forth by the Republicans. That is such a fraudulent proposition. And they know it. That's why they're talking about process rather than the substance of what we have heard. I just won't even dignify what they're saying in that regard. I just won't.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: If you need the courts to rule --


PELOSI: We are engaged in what the Constitution charges the Congress to do to make its decision decisions. We are not here to be manipulated by the obstruction of justice of the administration.

On the one hand, they say that it is secondhand. On the other hand, they obstruct all of the people, who they would consider to have firsthand knowledge, from testifying. Obstruction of Congress. Obstruction of justice.

I'm going to come back to H.R.-6. This is something that we're so proud of. But over 160 days ago, we sent to the Senate, H.R.-6, the American Dream and Promise Act. This is a bill that would protect our DREAMers in our country. These young people have come to our country, made such a valuable contribution. We're grateful to them.


COOPER: We'll continue to monitor Speaker Pelosi for her comments.

But we want to let you know what's going on, on the right-hand side of your screen. In Santa Clarita, California, breaking news. Reports of a shooting at Saugus High School.

The latest information, let's go to Nick Valencia standing by -- Nick?

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, there, Anderson. Breaking news out of Los Angeles. Reports of a shooting at a high school in Santa Clarita, the Los Angeles area, about 45 minutes north of downtown Los Angeles, at a high school called Saugus High School.

Here's what we know at this point. It was a short time ago, earlier this morning, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Office took to their Twitter page to announce a shooting at Saugus High School. They said please avoid the area.

From this tweet, we gather that the suspect is a male Asian in black clothing, last seen at the location. Deputies are on the scene and still responding. We are continuing to get tweets from a verified account of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's.

The sheriff's office saying that this active shooter situation, it's still active. Suspect described to be a male Asian in black clothing is outstanding. Surrounding schools as well, Anderson, have been put on lockdown, including at least two elementary schools.

According to our local affiliates, at least three victims on gurneys have been taken out of the high school. We saw that with our own eyes on the affiliate video you're seeing there, aerials from KTLA.

We are continuing to monitor this to try to get more information. We have crews en route to the scene. Just to repeat here, Saugus High School on lockdown, two nearby

elementary schools also on lockdown after reports of an active shooter.

COOPER: Nick, do you know what time was the first indication that something was going on, do you know?

VALENCIA: Just within the last 30 minutes here, Anderson. We got a tweet from the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department announcing this active shooter situation. Local affiliates followed up, announcing breaking news.

But this is still very much an active situation. That suspect is still on the loose.

COOPER: I think that's an important thing to point out. It's rare we see a situation like this where the suspect is still not accounted for some 30 minutes into it. As you know, most active shooter situations, frankly, are finished within, I think, according to the FBI statistics, in six minutes or so. That's where most fatalities take place. Police response is usually within minutes.

Clearly, there are police on the scene and we saw students leaving the school. It certainly looks like an active search is still under way.

We'll take a short break. We'll have more of this breaking news in just a moment.



COOPER: Up-to-date on our breaking news right now. You're looking at a school in Santa Clarita, California, Saugus High School, a shooting there. At least three people have been taken out on gurneys, according to Nick Valencia, who has been watching this. That was seen on videotape. All schools are on lockdown in the area.

At last report, the shooter was described as a male Asian suspect dressed in black clothing. The police, in their announcement about 30 or so minutes ago, indicated that the shooter at that point had not been apprehended or located, believed to still be somewhere on the scene. We've not gotten any updates with police.

But want to check with our Stephanie Elam in Los Angeles.

Stephanie, what are you hearing?

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: One thing we're learning, Anderson, some people reported that they did see someone fitting this description running away from Saugus High School.

Now this is in a suburban neighborhood of Los Angeles. It's about a 30-minute drive north of Hollywood proper, where we are right now.

What we do know is that they're telling residents in the area to Shelter in Place. All the schools in the area are on lockdown as well as they're trying to identify where this person is.

Obviously, at this point, we do know people have been shot. It's just unclear how many. There's reports of more than three people being shot. As of now, we've seen three people come out on gurneys in this video.

We can tell you that this -- excuse me -- this area where you see up here, it's kind of up against the foothills there. You can see where the school is around it. So there's some open space that can help but there's also a lot of rough terrain around the school as well.

The Shelter in Place coming from the L.A. County Sheriff's Department as they're trying to locate where this person is. As far as we know right now, Anderson, they do not know and have not apprehended the person that they believe has done this.

COOPER: Stephanie, we should point out, Stephanie, a couple of minutes ago, from this helicopter, which is what we're looking from our KABC affiliate, it looked like the police were in multiple locations, not only at the school and school grounds look somewhat sprawling, obviously, which adds to the difficulty in terms of searching.


But it looked like the police were also at a location sort of farther away where some officers had cars parked, guns drawn, looking toward a field.