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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
Jim Jordan Says Trump Tweets Not Witness Intimidation; Yovanovitch Describes State Department Under Pompeo In Crisis; Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) Discusses Yovanovitch Testimony, Trump Tweets, State Department in Crisis; Roger Stone Found Guilty of Lying/Obstruction. Aired 11:30a-12p ET
Aired November 15, 2019 - 11:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Of course, of course. And -- and that is assuming the case that Adam Schiff would make.
And the question that I have is, going forward, what will the president's attorneys tell him to do. Will they lock him in a room without a television set and say you cannot tweet anymore?
And now, what do Republicans do that the president has publicly bullied and threatened this woman, who, by the way, praised his policy in Ukraine, that he has done this to her?
What tact do they take when it's very clear that he's a conspiracy theorist, he's a bully, he's a president that's intimidating and threatening somebody in the State Department, a 30-year career diplomat. What do they do now?
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: I just want to add to that.
Jim Jordan said what he said because, what else is he supposed to say? He's Jim Jordan and the guy that's supposed to be carrying the president's water.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Just from a legal standpoint, what is your argument to Jim Jordan?
ELIE HONIG, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: His point is nonsensical. Of course, she was going to find out about a tweet that went out to 60 million people-plus.
Also, the law covers any way you look regarding timing. There are two different statutes. One of them is witness tampering. That covers actions before or during witness testimony. The other is witness retaliation. That covers actions intended to intimidate a witness or retaliate after the fact.
So it doesn't really matter when she would have found out.
LAURA COATES, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Like I said to you. your house wasn't robbed, you weren't there at the time that it happened. Jim Jordan -- that's how you said nonsensical, I'll use the word "stupid," which his actual argument is, because the idea that if they hadn't told her about it she wouldn't have felt threatened.
What happens afterwards? When the camera goes off on her she has to go back to live her life. The same people who were told by corrupt Ukrainians to watch out, now she knows she has to watch out because people who may be sycophants or minions of the president or somebody crazed in some way also takes issue with her testimony.
That also speaks to why Adam Schiff I think had to come out and talk. And we're talking. I don't think it was always the best policy in real time. Address it in the hallway, Adam Schiff.
But the reason he had to is because he knows full well tomorrow there's a testimony from somebody. Next week, there are people watching, figuring out, listen, do you have our back or is it just for the camera or the sake of the democracy, will I be protected.
TIM NAFTALI, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: I just wanted to say to add to your point this isn't a game. Two people are about to testify in closed-door hearings, work for the U.S. government. The president of the United States is their boss.
Can you imagine your boss tweeting in an intimidating way publicly? I mean, for most of us. it wouldn't be done on Twitter. But the fact is, don't forget that the president of the United States is their boss, and he is now intimidating them publicly.
And it's not just retired people. These are people who are working for us, are not political. They don't play political games.
Maybe the president thinks everybody plays a political game. But these are people who work for him because they work for us. That's the climate he's created. And I think we have to think of it in those terms. It's very bad.
BASH: I just want to add to the broader point and just kind of take us behind the scenes on what has been happening that hadn't happened for the three to four weeks before when this whole thing broke.
Which is Republicans on Capitol Hill have felt, since the White House added a war room and added a person who is going -- who is in charge of that, that they finally have a clear message, a clear line of communication and a clear message to keep, as you said, Scott, the status quo.
And the reason why our friend, Scott, looks like he just got punched in the gut with this tweet is because this tweet undermines it.
And this -- this is a story of the presidency, that, as much as their communicators try to, you know, hang on and devise a strategy, it can get blown up in an instant with a presidential tweet and that's what happened.
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And you saw an example of that. Elise Stefanik, at the top of the hearing, Republican congresswoman, attacked the chairman, not the witness, attacked the chairman. This is partisan, you're not giving us your rights.
The Republicans are trying to keep Republicans from breaking, so you make it partisan, you keep everybody in the tribe. And after she said it was disappointing that the president did that. The president cannot afford to lose Republicans.
But to Dana's point, he repeatedly, whether it's a policy issue, like go back to repeal and replace Obamacare, the Republican plan was great until it was mean. He does this all the time. They do get a strategy in place, whether you agree with the facts of it or not, they have a strategy in place, the president blows it up.
COOPER: He's not going to lose any of these Republicans.
COOPER: They have nowhere else to go. He used to say he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue --
KING: There are a number of retiring House Republicans. As to this conversation, no. We're not done yet. We're not done yet. So the president -- even if it's one or two or three, that would give Nancy Pelosi, "It's bipartisan."
KING: So there's a number of House retiring Republicans. I think the president -- it's risky.
GLORIA BORGER: And imagine if, during Watergate -- sorry our colleague, John Dean, is not here. Imagine if, during Watergate, Nixon had hate-tweeted John Dean and -- and what would have occurred then.
COOPER: John, quickly -- we've got to go to break -- but the transcripts of the first call versus the transcript of the second call, Pamela Brown was talking about how the White House description of the first call before they released the description was false, saying the conversation was about anti-corruption. There's nothing about it, but there's other differences you pointed out.
KING: The no corruption here. And this is relatively benign if you just read it not knowing anything else.
Remember, the first time they released the transcript, they said, this is good for us. We'll put this out. It'll be good for the president. It's perfect. Well, it's not perfect. We know that -- that was the second one. And now that's the second one.
The question is, what does this one do. Number one, no ellipses in this. Ellipses in the second one. And remember, Lieutenant Colonel Vindman said to Congress he thought some key points were left out. He thought key points were left out of the second call. There are none here so it's fair to say, why is this one different than the last one.
COOPER: If people read both of them, they just look different. It's amazing the level of detail in this one compared to the other one.
KING: The other thing here is the president does promise here -- President Zelensky very desperate, very high-level presence for his inauguration. Trying to send a message to Vladimir Putin.
The president says, I'll send you a very, very high level. He did not commit to going himself. He was invited himself. I'll send you a very, very high level. The plan was for Mike Pence and the president pulled it back. What happened? What happened in between?
And then the other thing is he dangles a White House meeting here, right, half these priceless words, "When I owned Miss Universe, they always had great people. Ukraine always very well represented. When you are settled in and ready, I would like to invite you to the White House." Where did that go?
COOPER: We're going to have to -- we'll continue in just a moment. Let's just ruminate on that during the break.
COOPER: A description of what's happening at the State Department pretty disturbing. We'll talk about that ahead.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. DANIEL GOLDMAN, COUNSEL FOR HOUSE DEMOCRATS: Did you have any understanding why Secretary Pompeo was no longer able to protect you?
MARIE YOVANOVITCH, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO UKRAINE: No, it was just a statement made that he was no longer able to protect me.
GOLDMAN: So just like that you had to leave Ukraine as soon as possible?
GOLDMAN: How did that make you feel? YOVANOVITCH: Terrible, honestly. I mean, after 33 years of service
to our country, it was terrible. It's not the way I wanted my career to end.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Not the way she wanted her career to end.
I want to go to Kylie Atwood for a look at Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's role in all of this -- Kylie?
KYLIE ATWOOD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY REPORTER: Yes. So Ambassador Yovanovitch talks largely about the State Department and how it is in a moment of crisis right now, how it's being hallowed out from within.
And she talks about that broadly given the fact that she says the policy process is unraveling. There are folks that says the State Department, high-level officials and mid-level officials, who are worried about an uncertain future and so they are heading for the doors.
She talked about that and then talked specifically about her personal experience, the human toll that with this all-out attack on career- level officials at the State Department is having.
She talks about moving 13 times as a State Department official, being in hardship posts. And when she saw those words from President Trump on that phone call undermining her, she put her hand on her chest and talked about how difficult that really was, giving a little bit of emotion there.
But the other part, Anderson, is that she also speaks about the strategic reality here. And it's not just about State Department officials leaving and feeling undermined, but it's also about what this means for the future of the U.S. in foreign relations.
And I want to read to you one thing that she said, which is that, "Which country's interests are served when the very corrupt behavior we have been criticizing is allowed to prevail? Such conduct undermines the U.S., exposes our friends, and widens the playing field for autocrats like President Putin."
So they are saying that this is a very devastating moment for career State Department officials. But it is also a very scary moment for the future of the U.S. and its role in the world, generally speaking -- Anderson?
COOPER: We're obviously going to continue to follow this. We'll have more testimony from Yovanovitch shortly
Thank you very much.
I want to go to Congressman Eric Swalwell, a Democrat on the Intelligence Committee, who joins me now.
Congressman Swalwell, Jim Jordan is saying it's not witness intimidation for the president to be tweeting while the ambassador is testifying because she wouldn't have seen it while she was testifying. Does that make sense?
REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D-CA): No, it does not. He is seeking to destroy her reputation for testifying against him.
And, Anderson, just to step back, he tried to intimidate her and smear her when she was in country as ambassador before she was removed. On that call with President Zelensky, on July 25, he smeared her. And today ,as she sat so courageously and defied his orders not to come in, again, he continued to do that.
So we'll view that as witness intimidation not only to the ambassador but future witnesses who would come in.
But also innocent people don't intimidate witnesses. This is what guilty people do and the president continues to act guilty.
COOPER: Do you think part of the effort by the president was not just to against the ambassador but for any future witnesses just as a warning to them?
SWALWELL: This was a warning shot. And we've got more witnesses coming this afternoon and depositions and next week in public hearings.
But Anderson, I don't think it's going to shake them. He has tried already to tell them to not come forward and they continue to come forward.
And I think the dam, in many ways, has been breached by their courage and honor. So we're not going to let these witnesses be intimidated. But we will view this as potential obstruction of justice.
COOPER: You think this should be potentially added to articles of impeachment?
SWALWELL: It should be considered because there's strong evidence of intimidation.
This witness, by the way, the reason she has been called, she was an anti-corruption ambassador. If the president was truly interested in fighting corruption in Ukraine, he would have kept her there.
He wasn't interested in fighting corruption. He was interested in weaponizing corruption. That's why he moved her out of the way to put in Rudy Giuliani.
COOPER: Her testimony that essentially the State Department has sort of hollowed out from the inside, for the future, that does not bode well. I mean, it may look -- from the outside it looks like it's still there. There's still a building and still people who work there. But if the people who have decades of experience like this ambassador are leaving or have left or have been kneecapped, what does that mean for American foreign policy in the future?
SWALWELL: Yes. Ambassador Yovanovitch, by talking about that, allows us to think what this means to not just removing her but for our worldwide interests.
We have ambassadors to carry out U.S. interests of free speech, free markets, freedom to dream. And if that is not being carried out because the president has corrupt intent, that is not only going to see rot and corruption in Ukraine, it's going to happen worldwide.
And so this is bigger than just Ambassador Yovanovitch. But today, this is about the president's corrupt scheme in Ukraine and the person he moved out of the way to make it happen faster.
COOPER: When you hear the ambassador, it also becomes clear just how much U.S. foreign policy seems, under this president, to be driven, at least in terms of Ukraine, based on a conspiracy theory.
SWALWELL: Yes. Very alarming to hear that the president of the United States was using debunked conspiracy theories.
It was on CNN a couple months ago, the former Homeland Security adviser, Tom Bossert, told Jake Tapper that he had tried to tell the president that these conspiracy theories were not true.
But the president, whether he believed him or not, he needed them in his own mind and others to be true because that's only way that he was able to clear the decks so that the Ukrainians could attempt to investigate his opponent.
This is all about the president putting his interests above our interests and that's what is this witness demonstrates today.
COOPER: Congressman Eric Swalwell, thanks very much.
SWALWELL: My pleasure. Thanks, Anderson.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
COOPER: Breaking news on Roger Stone.
I want to go to Shimon Prokupecz on that -- Shimon?
SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME & JUSTICE REPORTER: That's right, Anderson. This is ongoing, as we speak. We have people inside the courtroom.
Roger Stone has been found guilty after a week and a half trial. The jury that's been deliberating now for close to nine hours, they are now returning their verdict. Still ongoing.
But so far, Roger Stone has been found guilty of four, four different counts out of the seven. We're still getting word from inside the courtroom.
He's been found guilty of makings false statements. He's also been found guilty of obstruction.
Of course, this all having to do with his appearance before members of Congress who were investigating Russian interference and specifically his contact with WikiLeaks. But then more importantly, Anderson, his contact with the Trump campaign and Donald Trump himself.
Prosecutors putting on a case accusing Roger Stone. He's now been found guilty of having these communications with the Trump campaign, senior-level people inside the campaign as well as Donald Trump himself.
Prosecutors staying that he lied. The jury now here agreeing, finding him guilty on those counts, saying that he lied to members of Congress when he appeared before them essentially trying to not tell the truth essentially about his contacts with WikiLeaks, people believed to be intermediaries but, more importantly the Trump campaign. This all stemming from the Mueller investigation.
Of course, the jury finding Roger Stone guilty.
And also, it's an important moment, many moments in this courtroom for prosecutors, because looming large over this entire trial was the president himself. Donald Trump came up many times in this case during the prosecution's case, during witness testimony.
You had Rick Gates, former deputy chairman of the Donald Trump campaign, who was cooperating with the government. Steve Bannon took the stand as well.
And of course, there was this emotional last statement from prosecutors in closing arguments where they were arguing that the truth and how much the truth mattered and that it was the job of this jury to find Roger Stone guilty because truth mattered.
And even though the defense -- they tried to argue that, so what. So what that Roger Stone lied about some of this.
In the end, prosecutors arguing truth mattered and that the jurors needed to find Roger Stone guilty. And that's what we have here, Anderson. He's now been found guilty of lying to members of Congress and obstruction.
A very important part of the Mueller investigation and, obviously, an investigation that was going on by members of Congress who were trying to figure out exactly the contact that the campaign had with Russians, with WikiLeaks, and what they knew, and how they used this information, the WikiLeaks information, to their advantage -- Anderson?
COOPER: Shimon Prokupecz, we'll continue to check in with you for the other counts as the information is coming out of the courtroom. If only we had some former assistant U.S. attorneys here. Oh, we do.
COOPER: From the Southern District, Elie Honig, and Laura Coates, from D.C.
Elie, what do you make of this?
HONIG: This is really significant. It means the jury believed and credited Rick Gates, who testified that Donald Trump knew about efforts to coordinate with WikiLeaks, welcomed them and encouraged them.
And the big theme in the Roger Stone trial is the same as we're seeing in the Ukraine impeachment inquiry, which is Donald Trump, the president, and the people around him welcomed, encouraged and wanted foreign election interference.
COATES: The jury didn't buy the argument that this long-time provocateur was trying to make, which was, oh, no, it was a coincidence the WikiLeaks came out and I had been telling people that I had this back channel. Pure coincidence.
Remember, the last closing argument the prosecutors gave was, the truth still matters, OK? They were able to see through this, "even a broken clock is right twice a day" sort of scenario Roger Stone did.
More importantly, this is the same team that worked with the Mueller probe, who, as we all know, was interested in the welcome acceptance and why there was such an interest in foreign nations to interfere with the election.
Keep in mind, it interfered with the committee's ability to assess and evaluate data and evidence, call other witnesses, follow different evidentiary trails when Roger Stone refused and lied and refused to give information. This is a consequence of that activity. No one was ever indicted for the conspiracy crimes in the Mueller probe.
But it's equally important to think about how the consequences of Roger Stone's either inability to tell the truth or provide truthful information at a crucial time that stymied other congressional and Mueller-related investigations. This is the jury saying, no, the truth does matter, we saw through it, and coincidences don't just happen like this.
BORGER: This goes directly to the president, who was then Candidate Trump. In this trial, Rick Gates, a former high-ranking official in the Trump campaign, who flipped, says -- talks about this July 2016 conversation, which is really important, that Candidate Trump had with Roger Stone.
He hangs up the phone, and after the conversation, the prosecutor asked Gates, you know, what did the president say, and he said, he indicated that more information would be coming. And they were talking about, of course, WikiLeaks. BASH: Yes, and we've been so focused, rightly so, on what we're
seeing today with these dramatic impeachment hearings focused on the Ukraine, things the president did while in office.
But remember, this is about allegations that have never gone away. No, the Mueller team, his report, could not prove collusion, but this is -- maybe one person removed -- collusion.
BASH: That's what WikiLeaks is. WikiLeaks, according to our intelligence officials and so forth, it is an arm of the Russian government.
And you have a candidate on the phone in the call that Gloria just described staying up to speed. Now, is he actually talking to the WikiLeaks people? No. To the Russians? No. But his associate is, and the associate, Roger Stone, who is now found guilty.
And also, clearly, Roger Stone thought there was something wrong with it, because what he was just found guilty of was lying to Congress to protect the president.
COOPER: Also at a certain point, you start to add up, like, in your own life, how many people are you close to in your orbit who have been convicted of something -- Manafort, Flynn, Papadopoulos, Cohen and now Stone.
KING: Rick Gates, Michael Cohen, Roger Stone, Paul Manafort, Michael Flynn, some of the people who don't have a direct connection with President Trump. But those five, Michael Cohen, Michael Flynn, Paul Manafort, Rick Gates, Roger Stone, all in the president's inner circle.
So part of the calculation for having this conversation, as we wait for the impeachment inquiry to continue, if you're one of these other witnesses and you're waiting with you attorney, do I cooperate, do I tell the truth.
One of the conversations among Republicans in this town is everyone he touches gets tainted. He manages to be able to fly above it somehow, but everyone he touches, or you get close, it turns into Icarus (ph). It's how close to the sun are you going to get?
NAFTALI: And let's connect a few dots. We're talking about dirty tricks here. Let's connect a few dots. Roger Stone is a dirty trickster. Acquiring dirt on Hillary Clinton was a dirty trick. Roger Stone made a career out of dirty tricks. He started the Nixon era, and he made a career of poisoning our democracy by playing dirty tricks.
What we're talking about in this impeachment hearing is not Roger Stone anymore because he wasn't able to do this. The president went to somebody else. This whole business about acquiring a dossier on the Bidens, it's another dirty trick. That's getting dirt on your opponent.
And I think we should -- I think the public should keep in mind that it's the same behavior. In one case, the president was a candidate, now he is president of the United States. But the goal was the same, getting dirt on his opponents.
SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Back home, Anderson, they would say when you lie down with dogs, you wake up with fleas.
JENNINGS: In this particular case, Roger Stone got what he deserved because you can't lie.
Let me look into the camera. Kids at home, don't lie. If your hand is up, don't lie. If your hand is down, don't lie. To my four children, don't lie.
You can't obstruct Congress. You have to just tell the truth. Most of the time, the vast majority of the time, the truth will set you free. Don't lie.
And my advice to the president would be, don't pardon this joker. He has not done you any favors. You associate with these kinds of folks and they get you in trouble and it's what you get.
COATES: That was important, too, in the idea of pardons. He's requesting that information because, as we both know, a defendant's break does not end the inquiry. We learned from Manafort most recently and other people that, what he does now, is most telling to his fate.
He's 68 years old, facing up to 30 years in prison for all seven courts of the crimes he's facing. It probably won't be near that level. He's not a violent offender and first-time offender.
But now the issue is now where do you go and you're now facing time in a federal penitentiary. Are you now in the "save your own hide mode? You want to cooperate? Do you know more information?
Remember, the prosecutors still have to file a memorandum. They'll say, what do you want to do, what do you want to have happen. He has the opportunity to sing like a canary or something else.
JENNINGS: You know who is on the phone with his lawyer right now? Should be Gordon Sondland. He's already changed his testimony once and he's going to testify next week. His attorney should be saying, open the news, brother, tell the truth.
COOPER: If anybody thinks Trump will have your back, I mean -
COOPER: I want to go quickly back to Shimon Prokupecz with more details -- Shimon?
PROKUPECZ: Anderson, just to update everyone, he's been convicted on all counts. One of those counts is having to do with lying about his contacts with the Trump campaign and Donald Trump. That was the sixth count.
Then the seventh count which he was convicted on was the intimidation of Randy Credico, who is an important witness for the prosecution. He eventually wound up cooperating with members of Congress.
And there are all these colorful and really out outlandish crazy texts between Randy Credico and Roger Stone and Roger trying to say things to get him not to cooperate, then making a reference to the "Godfather II." All of that came out in court.
What's going on now is prosecutors actually were asking for the judge to detain Roger Stone. She, we're just being told, has decided she's going to let him sit out his awaiting sentence. She's going to allow him to remain free and that he's going to be sentenced on February 6th.
But I also want to make a point of something, Anderson, having sat through this trial now for about a week and a half, being around the prosecutors, being around the defense team.
For the defense, obviously, yesterday, they were not very optimistic. They were very concerned. This morning, they came in with a little more optimism.
But I can tell you, for the prosecutors here, some of them, one of the main and probably significant prosecutors, was someone from the Mueller team, and how important this was for them.
On the day of the closing argument, members of the Mueller team, former members, some who are no longer prosecutors, now in private practice, came to watch the closing argument.