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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
Convicting Of Witness Tampering, Lying To Congress, Obstruction; Donald Trump Associate Roger Stone Found Guilty On All 7 Counts; Adam Schiff: We Saw "Witness Intimidation In Real Time" By The President; Marie Yovanovitch: Donald Trump's Attacks "Very Intimidating"; Ousted U.S. Ambassador To Ukraine Testifies Publicly. Aired 12-12.30p ET
Aired November 15, 2019 - 12:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: --this was for them. On the day of the closing argument, members of the Mueller team, former member some who are no longer prosecutors now in private practice came to watch the closing arguments.
And you tell from the from the emotion that came from one of those prosecutors at the end in a rebuttal, when he was talking about how truth matters and how testifying before Congress, when you go there and you're supposed to tell the truth, that's an important part of our institutions. And I think given everything that's going on now, I think this was a very big and significant win for prosecutors, more because they needed to protect our institutions, and they argued that to the jury.
And I think for members of Congress, many people, sometimes - we heard a lot during the Mueller investigation, other investigations. People who go before Congress, they don't necessarily take it seriously. So I think for prosecutors, it was an important point to make, that when you go before Congress, you're expected to tell the truth, and having this now, with everything that's going on, I think has a much larger significance than perhaps, you know, when they even brought this case given everything that's going on.
And obviously Donald Trump that was a very big figure over this trial, an important figure, because prosecutors from the beginning, the moment they got up and stood before this jury, they said that this was about Donald Trump. Roger Stone lied. He was motivated to lie because he wanted to protect Donald Trump.
And then ultimately they argued at the end he lied because he wanted to protect Donald Trump from the Mueller investigation. So a significant day here for prosecutors and probably the other thing, it's probably the last time any part of the Mueller investigation is going to be heard publicly, certainly in a court of law, Anderson.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Fascinating morning. Shimon Prokupecz, thank you for continued check in with you. Elie, what do you make of the all seven counts? ELIE HONIG, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: So first of all it's quite a message and the timing is remarkable here right? We just had a discussion about whether 45 minutes ago the President engaged in witness tampering. So I'll add to Scott's message to the kids, yes, don't lie also don't mess with witnesses. I mean what a powerful message also.
I think this is so significant that this is coming from a jury because politics don't matter when it comes from a jury. This is 12 regular everyday men and women. That is the bulwark of democracy, our jury trial system and our juries and I think it's a powerful message that got said.
COOPER: I'm sure the President has respect for the jury system. Wait until he starts tweeting about the jurors.
HONIG: That's a crime, too.
COOPER: Let's say, Laura, I mean seven counts when we first heard was only the four counts, but what are you surprised at all seven?
LAURA COATES, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, you they are really related crimes and so if the idea is that if you're able to kind of tick off the elements of one, it's not likely you'll be able to meet all of them, but still seven counts is a very big message to send, particularly given the climate that Shimon talked about but all say about the overwhelming evidence it must have been present.
We're talking about text messages and emails and telephone calls. The presentation of evidence had to be really comprehensive, and I know that we're in a society now where we have kind of a law and order everything is wrapped up from the crime committed to the jury conviction in 51 minutes flat.
But the overwhelming amount and burden that you have to actually prove to meet every element, particularly when a jury has been aware of Roger Stone, a figure that's known to people, a figure that has been talked about in controversial settings as in somebody who will be a scapegoat, maybe even a pawn.
And the association with the Mueller probe in particular is what I find most fascinating. The fact that this is one of the public elements of the Mueller probe and a jury still said, even in spite of no conspiracy convictions or trials about that issue, still said what was uncovered and what was stonewalled as a part of it is so important.
Keep in mind this is somebody who broke expectations. First time non- violent offender, what's above him 30 years seems very high to people. Think what Manafort was facing. He didn't have anywhere near that, but the message still is intact.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Can I just talk about Donald Trump in this because if you recall his answers to Mueller. His written answers to Mueller, Mueller asked him about his conversations, his multiple conversations with Roger Stone and the answers multiple times were, I don't recall the substance of those conversations. So you have to now go look back at those questions and the way he answered those questions and what Roger Stone is convicted of, and we'll see if this surfaces again post-presidency.
TIM NAFTALI, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: I just want to stress that this is the same behavior. This is dirty tricks, these are dirty tricks, it's a climate of corruption, it's trying to acquire dirt on your opponents, it is part of American politics, but we shouldn't be proud of it. But it has a different meaning and significance when it's done by a President when the President is in office.
It's still bad when they're a candidate, but I don't think that President Trump, if he did do what we're seeing emerge, as President understood that the games he played in '16 are going to get him into trouble as President, because it's a different set of rules.
NAFTALI: I just see there is a similarity between the climate around Mr. Stone and what he did for the then-candidate and what we're looking at with Mr. Giuliani and the President.
COOPER: When you look at that graphic that we just put up of sort of the rogue gallery of people already convicted, is that the best? Is that be best campaign right there? It is kind of a rogue's gallery of who you surround yourself.
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And it takes a toll. Scott worked in the White House I covered the Clinton Impeachment covering the White House. It takes a toll on the worker bees that any President needs. In the Clinton days, staffers - we don't have any great resources being called before grand juries, having to hire lawyers, uniform secret service officers who have to hire lawyers. They get some help with government representation, but if you want to be extra careful you go out and hire a private counsel.
We look at the big names, these people close to the President who are spending time in prison for their crimes. You look at the ongoing investigations but to Tim's point, more about just the culture. There are a lot of people inside the White House now, including the people Mick Mulvaney's - in his universe whether it is Office of Management and Budget Chief of Staff's office who are relatively young people who are trying to do the right thing.
They're Republicans, they believe in government service, and now they have to hire attorneys. They're in this whole crux of, what do I do? I'm loyal to my President or I'm loyal to my boss, but to your point about the truth, wherever it ends up, you went into public service with these idealistic dreams. They haven't to be Republicans the next group might be Democrats, maybe they'll be independents someday, they go in and all of a sudden they're put in this spot because of what's happening around them.
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: And to connect the dots between that just as Shimon did so well when he was wrapping up his report, and what we're seeing today. You're seeing people who are going to go in for depositions, the same kind of deposition or same level of a potential for perjury that Roger Stone had, who are going to be asked, especially the one witness, did you actually overhear the President of the United States calling for bribery to Gordon Sondland? That's happening today, so this is a--
COOPER: Well, you also think you brought up Gordon Sondland. Gordon Sondland already testified in front of Congress, and then when other people testified to facts that were counter to what he said, he suddenly comes back and his memory is magically restored, and he amends his testimony, which he's allowed to do and it was smart for him to do.
He still didn't mention this second call that he said, you know, he wasn't sure if it was one or two calls. He apparently made no mention of the call that has now been overheard and that we learn about through Taylor. So whatever he is doing over this weekend, it really should involve, like, a file of facts and looking back at his calendar.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Gets his amendment to the constitution. I mean--
BASH: I mean is he going to go back to the '90s? Sorry. I had to.
COATES: You put that graphic up of all those seven people and to me that people who were part of - I think there were seven people - who had all been kind of implicated or had taken the fall in activity. That all tells you that the President of the United States should be on notice that what took place prior to the 2016 election is not only being the subject of an investigation but can also lead to convictions.
And it's one thing - remember the campaign when they first started the Trump Campaign was all about the idea that they were new to this. They were not politically naive. They had no idea. Maybe that benefit of the doubt can extend legally probably not. But now that you're in 2020, remember what Bill Taylor's testimony was all about.
He said this was his inclination in August and September of this year. We're only in November. So this is actually real time data that this is all happening. The ideas of the overtures of the quid pro quo and what not we're hearing about are things that happened well after even Roger Stone was even indicted. So to say now, I don't understand why this would possibly be problematic behavior, and still perfect tells you that whole idea of trying to determine ones in tenth by context--
COOPER: I mean the second call with Ukrainian President, where it was the day after Mueller testified. Sara Murray was standing by - he has been Roger Stone for quite a while now. He has been under gag order I suppose - of course he'll say something, I mean that's what Roger Stone does?
SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it seems like that gag order is at least going to stay in place until his sentencing. The judge says she does not want to immediately take him into custody, but she is worried about the possibility of him going out there and talking. Remember, this case got off to an extremely rocky start when Roger Stone violated his first iterations of a gag order and posted what many perceived to be a pretty threatening photo of this judge. That continues to put Stone in this really difficult position. Anderson, you have watched him work over the years. This is someone who sort of relishes a political fight, relishes coming to his own defense, and that is not what we saw during this trial.
MURRAY: I think he and his attorneys made the calculation that he would probably do more harm than good by taking the stand in his own defense. Instead they played audio of him testifying before the House Intelligence Committee, and it seems like now, for at least a few more months, he won't be able to sort of share what he sees as his side of the story.
But, you know, it's very clear in this verdict that the jury just was not buying what his lawyers were selling, this idea that it doesn't really matter if Stone didn't tell the truth, and essentially this was just a process crime. They made it very clear they believe the truth does matter in these proceedings.
And I think one thing you and the other folks on the panel are smart to point out is this is just another person in the President's orbit who has now been convicted in court, and this is not someone the President has just gotten to know. This is someone who has been a close friend of President Trump for decades, Anderson.
COOPER: Yes. Sara Murray, thank you very much. I want to reset the testimony that is set to continue on this second day of public impeachment hearings. It's now led to accusations of intimidation against the President. We'll explain that in a moment. First to the only witness speaking publicly today, Marie Yovanovitch, she is the sole person in the Ukraine saga who exerts being an actual victim of corruption.
Remember finding corruption was the reason President Trump gives for pressuring the country to investigate his political rival Joe Biden and his son Hunter. But Yovanovitch testified she believes she was forced out as U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine because of her record on rooting out crooked players in Ukraine.
She said those, "Willing Americans included President Trump's Personal Attorney Rudy Giuliani who helped push a smear campaign against Yovanovitch, accusing her of partisan and bad behavior that she denied under oath". The false stories against her ultimately led to President Trump dismissing her in May despite multiple high-level officials in the State Department trying to defend her.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ADAM SCHIFF, (D-CA): In the face of this smear campaign, did colleagues at the State Department try to get a statement of support for you from Secretary Pompeo?
MARIE YOVANOVITCH, FORMER AMBASSADOR TO UKRAINE: Yes.
SCHIFF: Were they successful?
SCHIFF: Did you come to learn that they couldn't issue such a statement because they feared it would be undercut by the President?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: In a major moment under already extraordinary circumstances, the President began tweeting attacks against Yovanovitch as she was testifying. House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff asked her to react.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SCHIFF: As we're sitting here testifying, the President is attacking you on Twitter and I'd like to give you a chance to respond. I'll read part of one of his tweets. Everywhere Marie Yovanovitch went turned bad. She started off in Somalia. How did that go? He goes on to say later in the tweet, it is a U.S. President's absolute right to appoint Ambassadors.
First of all, Ambassador Yovanovitch, the Senate has a chance to confirm or deny an Ambassador, do they not?
YOVANOVITCH: Yes, advise and consent.
SCHIFF: But would you like to respond to the President's attack that everywhere you went turned bad?
YOVANOVITCH: I don't think I have such powers. Not in Mogadishu and Somalia or other places. I actually think that where I served over the years, I and others have demonstrably made things better for the U.S. as well as for the countries that I've served in.
Ukraine, for example, where there are huge challenges, including, you know, on the issue that we're discussing today, of corruption. Huge challenges. But they've made a lot of progress since 2014, including in the years that I was there. And I think in part - the Ukrainian people get the most credit for that, but a part of that credit goes to the work of the United States and to me as the Ambassador in Ukraine.
SCHIFF: Ambassador, you've shown the courage to come forward today and testify. Notwithstanding the fact you were urged by the White House or State Department not to, notwithstanding the fact that as you testified earlier, the President implicitly threatened you in that call record. And now the President in real time is attacking you. What effect do you think that has on other witnesses' willingness to come forward and expose wrongdoing?
YOVANOVITCH: Well, it's very intimidating.
SCHIFF: It's designed to intimidate, is it not?
YOVANOVITCH: I mean, I can't speak to what the President is trying to do, but I think the effect is to be intimidating.
SCHIFF: Well, I want to let you know, Ambassador, that some of us here take witness intimidation very, very seriously.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: That was testimony earlier today. There is going to be more testimony from Marie Yovanovitch. In terms of what to expect now just in the coming hours Republicans are going to have a chance to question her as well. How did they go about doing that? The President now has gone after her while she was testifying. They're saying it is witness intimidation.
BORGER: I think he's made their jobs incredibly more difficult. I think what they're going to do is say look the President has every right to hire and to fire any Ambassador he wants. She said that. She said that herself, I serve at the pleasure of the President.
The question is are they going to go after her in the way that the President did? And it seems to me, when you look at Congresswoman Stefanik and what she said, it seems to me they can't do that, they can't question her motives. She also said that she supported the President and she intended to carry out his policies in Ukraine.
And, you know, I think that they're going to have a tough time, but I think they're going to try and stick, and maybe you would know more about this than I would, to what they've been saying before, which is she was not as important as she thinks she is, and that, you know, that the President can fire her whenever he wants.
One thing that sticks out to me that was so stunning in her testimony that the lawyer pointed out, Goldman, was that she was holding an event in honor of an anti-corruption activist who was murdered in Ukraine when she got that phone call from the State Department saying, you had better come home now, because things are really looking bad for you.
COOPER: I just want to point out to our viewers, Adam Schiff is sitting back down, so it looks like testimony will be resuming soon. Also Hillary Clinton tweeting, "Witness intimidation is a crime, no matter who does it".
SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I was going to say to your point, what are the Republicans are going to do? One thing, the number three Republican in the House, Liz Cheney, has said the President was wrong to do this. Yovanovitch is clearly somebody who has been a public servant to the United States for decades and I don't think the President should have done that.
So the Republicans may be only to hold the line on this. They didn't lose any votes on the rule to set up the inquiry. Everybody is been in lockstep and now they've created a situation where Republicans are now--
BORGER: Exactly now they're walking on eggshells.
BASH: Of course they are going to do and we're going to hear in moments them say, it is the President's prerogative to have whatever Ambassador he wants. But it is going to be a much more delicate dance for Republicans to undermine her credibility with the tweets hanging over her head.
KING: I was to the point, Liz Cheney, an ambitious, smart, seasoned daughter of a Former Vice President. She gets it. The question is do the other Republicans get it? Some of them who just like this spitball routine and so do they - if they were smart, you're not aware of why the President fired you right, you think it was because of Rudy Giuliani but you are not aware right? This is the President's right so just keep to that and let it go. She was such a great witness. Can they? Will they, we're about to find out.
BORGER: Liz Cheney was also someone who criticized all the criticism of Vindman and his patriotism when he was testifying. She said you can't do that. It would be interesting to see if Former Vice President Dick Cheney would say anything.
NAFTALI: I just want to add that it wasn't just Ambassador Yovanovitch who thought that she was the victim of Giuliani's machinations. It's National Security Adviser Bolton who said to Fiona Hill that Rudy Giuliani is a hand grenade that will blow everyone up. He hated the campaign against Yovanovitch. So we also had to keep in mind it wasn't just this career professional who thought she was targeted, it was actually the National Security Adviser. I hope we'll hear from him on this at some point.
KING: And the Republicans I just want to - if you talk to the Republicans privately they don't like the President's behavior here, many of them. I'm not going to say all of them, many of them. They don't like the President's behavior here and they don't trust the hand grenade, if you will because Rudy Giuliani who was doing this, he says in defense of the President, but at the time he was also working with known corrupt under indictment by the Trump Justice Department.
Now two of them, and they all believe that he had a financial interest in this as well while he was, "defending his client", the President, he was trying to make money. And so they're going to side with Rudy Giuliani and attack this Ambassador? The smart money would tell you they should not, but we're about to find out.
COOPER: It is amazing when you hear from Yovanovitch, whether the President likes her or not, she was actually attempting to fight corruption in Ukraine. It was not as if she was saying Ukraine is an uncorrupt country.
COOPER: So for this to be phrased as - and sort of set up as an anticorruption drive by the President, there really is no evidence of this President's interest in fighting corruption in Ukraine.
KING: And how rare - sorry to interrupt, but how rare is a real bipartisan moment in Washington? The money was approved with this huge bipartisan vote, Democrats and Republicans Senators going over to say stay in the fight, fight corruption, we have your back. There actually was a bipartisan strong, let's help these people, and even a lot of Democrats thought Obama was too soft. He wouldn't give them the lethal military aid. The Democrats were happy on paper the Trump Administration policy on paper.
COATES: Because it all come as Nancy Pelosi said yesterday, it all comes back to Russia. The reason Americans are so emphatic about having the Ukraine's back is because they're up against a wall with Russia.
JENNINGS: And if President Trump was that concerned about corruption, he would have mentioned it in the April transcript that we just got.
COOPER: Which the White House claimed he mentioned but he didn't.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. MIKE CONAWAY, (R-TX): It appears that counsel for the witness this morning has paper copies of the slides that were used during the questioning. If that's true, does that mean that you and/or your team have been in coordination with him and/or her with respect to her testimony this morning? And if that's true, how does that comport with H Res 660 in the fairness that is purportedly associated with that resolution?
SCHIFF: Gentleman, the TV for the witness wasn't working so they were given copies this morning. I yield now 45 minutes to Ranking Member Nunes.
CONAWAY: You said that the screen in front of them was not working?
SCHIFF: My understanding is the screen was not working in front of them, so they were given copies so they could read along since they can't see the screens that we can. Mr. Nunes, you're recognized for 45 minutes along with minority counsel.
REP. DEVIN NUNES, (R-CA): First, Mr. Chair, I want to submit for the record Senator Grassley's letter to the Department of Justice dated July20th, 2017. I read a portion of that into the record during my opening statement.
SCHIFF: Without objection.
NUNES: Ambassador, I congratulate you. You've been down in the secret deposition meeting rooms. You've graduated for your performance today. Later this afternoon, I should note that - for the public that we will be back down in the basement of the Capitol doing more of these secret depositions.
Ambassador, I just have - I don't really have very many questions for you. You admitted in your opening statement that you don't have any firsthand knowledge of the issues that we're looking into. But I do want to talk a little bit about Senator Grassley very briefly. I assume that you know who Senator Grassley is?
YOVANOVITCH: Yes, sir, I do.
NUNES: Do you believe that Senator Grassley is a serious and credible elected official?
YOVANOVITCH: I have no reason to think otherwise.
NUNES: Were you involved in the July 25th Trump Zelensky phone call or preparations for the call?
YOVANOVITCH: No, I was not.
NUNES: Were you involved in the deliberations about the pause in military sales to Ukraine as Trump Administration reviewed newly elected President Zelensky's commitment to corruption reforms?
YOVANOVITCH: For the delay in--
NUNES: For the pause.
YOVANOVITCH: The pause. No, I was not.
NUNES: Were you involved in the proposed Trump-Zelensky later Pence/Zelensky meetings in Warsaw Poland on September 1st?
YOVANOVITCH: No, I was not.
NUNES: Did you ever talk to President Trump in 2019?
YOVANOVITCH: No, I have not.
NUNES: Mick Mulvaney?
YOVANOVITCH: No, I have not.
NUNES: Thank you, Ambassador. I'm not exactly sure what the Ambassador is doing here today. This is the House Intelligence Committee that's now turned into the house impeachment committee. This seems more appropriate for the subcommittee on human resources at the foreign affairs committee.
If there's issues with employment disagreements with the administration that was seem like to be a more appropriate setting instead of an impeachment hearing where the Ambassador is not a material fact witness to any of the accusations that are being hurled at the President for this impeachment inquiry.
I have several questions I think Mr. Castro wants to get to. I know Ms. Stefanik; you had a few quick questions for the Ambassador? I yield to you Ms. Stefanik.
REP. ELISE STEFANIK, (R-NY): Thank you Mr. Nunes. Ambassador Yovanovitch thank you for being here today-- SCHIFF: Gentlewoman we will suspend.
STEFANIK: What is the interruption for this time? It is our time.
SCHIFF: The gentlewoman will suspend. You are not recognized. Mr. Nunes you are main counsel.
NUNES: I just recognized her.
SCHIFF: Under the House Res 660 you're not allowed to yield time except to minority counsel.
STEFANIK: The Ranking Member yield time to another member of Congress.
SCHIFF: That is not accurate.
STEFANIK: That is accurate. Ambassador Yovanovitch, I want to thank you for being here today--
SCHIFF: Gentlewoman will suspend. You are not recognized.
STEFANIK: This is the fifth time you have interrupted newly elected members of Congress.
SCHIFF: Gentlewoman we will suspend.
NUNES: Mr. Chair, we control the time. It's been customary of this committee that whoever controls the time can yield to whoever they wish. If we have members of Congress that have a few questions, it seems appropriate that we be able to let Ms. Stefanik ask her question.
SCHIFF: Mr. Nunes, you or minority counsel are recognized.
NUNES: All right. Mr. Castro, you're recognized.
STEVE CASTRO, COUNSEL FOR HOUSE REPUBLICANS: Thank you Mr. Nunes. Ambassador, welcome. Thank you for your service. 33 years in an extraordinary career, it really has been a remarkable tenure for you at the State Department. I'd also like to thank you for participating here today. This is a crazy environment.
This hearing room as turned into a television studio. Before today you spent - on Friday the 11th you were with us for early in the morning until, I believe, it was 8:00 at night. People missed trains back to New York and it was a complete - very complete day, so thank you. You were serving a three-year assignment in the Ukraine, is that correct?
CASTRO: And it began in 2016 and was scheduled to end in 2019?
YOVANOVITCH: Yes, that's correct.
CASTRO: Nobody disputes that it's up to the President to decide who his envoys are to post around the world, correct?
YOVANOVITCH: I stated that clearly in my statement.
CASTRO: And you returned from Ukraine on May 20th, 2019?
YOVANOVITCH: That's correct.
CASTRO: And your return coincided with inauguration of President Zelensky?
CASTRO: And you remain employed by the State Department?
YOVANOVITCH: I do.
CASTRO: And after you returned to Washington, the Deputy Secretary, John Sullivan, asked you what you wanted to do next is that correct?
YOVANOVITCH: Yes, that's correct.
CASTRO: And then you met with the Director General, Ambassador Perez?
YOVANOVITCH: Yes, that's correct.
CASTRO: To identify a meaningful new assignment?
CASTRO: And you now serve at Georgetown University as a fellow?
YOVANOVITCH: That's true.
CASTRO: And this is a rewarding position for you?
YOVANOVITCH: I'm very grateful to be in that position after what happened.
CASTRO: Today is the second big hearing for the Democrats' impeachment initiative. But we don't understand - we do understand that you don't have a lot of facts and information relating to the part of this that we're investigating, and those are the events from May 20th up until September 11th, the release of the security assistance funds. Is that correct?
YOVANOVITCH: Yes, that's correct.
CASTRO: So you were not part of the delegation to the inauguration as of the day you returned? You were not part of an Oval Office meeting May 23rd, correct?
YOVANOVITCH: Yes, that's correct.
CASTRO: And you were not part of the decision making relating to whether there would be a White House meeting with President Zelensky?
YOVANOVITCH: that's correct.
Castro: and you were not a part of any decision making in the lead-up to the July 25th call?
YOVANOVITCH: That's correct.
CASTRO: And you first learned about the call on September 25th? Is that correct?
YOVANOVITCH: Well, I heard about the call. As I indicated in the first deposition, I heard it from Deputy Assistant George Kent.
CASTRO: What did he tell you about the call?
YOVANOVITCH: As it turns out, it wasn't correct. But what I recall is that he said that President Trump had asked President Zelensky whether he could, you know, help him out, which I understood to be these investigations, and that President Zelensky had said that he is putting in a new prosecutor general and that he doesn't control - I mean, this is approximately what he said--