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House Managers Resume Presenting Case Against Trump; Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) Is Interviewed About The Impeachment Trial; Interview With Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA). Aired 6-7p ET
Aired January 22, 2020 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
REP. HAKEEM JEFFRIES (D-NY): "I would like you to find out what happened with this whole situation in Ukraine. They say CrowdStrike. I guess you have one of your wealthy people, the server they say, Ukraine has it."
President Trump continued: "I would like to have the attorney general call you or your people and I would like you to get to the bottom of it. As you saw yesterday, that whole nonsense ended with a very poor performance by a man named Robert Mueller."
A Vietnam War hero, by the way. "A very poor performance by a man named Robert Mueller, an incompetent performance, but they say a lot of it started with Ukraine. Whatever you can do, it's a very important that you do it, if that's possible."
Who is the "they," referred to by President Trump, putting forth a baseless conspiracy theory that the Ukrainians, not the Russians, were behind the hack of the Democratic National Committee server in 2016? "They" means Russia. "They" means Putin. "They" are enemies of the United States.
Not a single witness who testified before the House knew of any factual basis from President Trump's belief in the CrowdStrike-Ukraine fairy tale. To the contrary, the U.S. intelligence community and this Senate Intelligence Committee assessed that Russia interfered in the 2016 election.
As Dr. Fiona Hill testified, the theory that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 election is, quote, "a fictional narrative that has been perpetrated and propagated by the Russian security services." The conspiracy theory that President Trump advanced on the July 25th phone call is stone cold Russian propaganda.
As early as February, 2017, Vladimir Putin began to promote this lie during a press conference saying, quote: "The Ukrainian government adopted a unilateral position in favor of one candidate. More than that, certain oligarchs, certainly with the approval of the political leadership funded this candidate, or female candidate, to be precise."
Those are the words of Vladimir Putin, a script apparently adopted by President Donald John Trump. If there was any doubt about who benefits from this unfounded, Russian inspired conspiracy theory advanced by Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin made it clear when he said in November of 2019 "thank God no one is accusing us anymore of interfering in U.S. elections. Now they're accusing Ukrainians."
Unfortunately, this is not the first time President Trump tried to capitalize on Russian propaganda and misinformation for his own political benefit. On July 24th, just one day before this call, Special Counsel Robert Mueller testified before Congress that the Russian government interfered in the 2016 election in sweeping and systematic fashion in order to support the Trump campaign and divide America.
Mr. Mueller also found that the Trump campaign welcomed Russian interference in the 2016 election and utilized it as part of its campaign messaging. Despite the clear and overwhelming conclusion of U.S. intelligence agencies as well as the distinguished Senate Intelligence Committee that Russia, not Ukraine, interfered in the 2016 election, President Trump continued to press the new Ukrainian leader to announce an investigation into the Crowdstrike Ukraine conspiracy theory.
Why? President Trump sought a political favor, that's why, as part of a scheme to solicit foreign interference in the 2020 election. The second demand made by President Trump on the July 25th call related to the campaign of Vice President Joe Biden, who announced his intention to run for the office of the presidency last April.
Throughout the spring and early summer of last year, public polling consistently showed that Biden would decisively defeat President Trump. In fact, on June 16th of last year - June 16th - a Fox News poll showed that President Trump would lose to Joe Biden by 10 points.
The concern with Joe Biden's candidacy provides motive for President Trump's demand that the Ukrainian government investigate the former Vice President and his son, Hunter. Here is what President Trump said on that call - "the other thing, there's a lot of talk about Biden's son, that Biden stopped a prosecution and a lot of people want to find out about that so whatever you can do with the Attorney General would be great. Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution so if you could look into it, it sounds horrible to me."
Now, the Trump administration officials who participated in the impeachment inquiry unanimously testified that there was no factual support for the allegation that Vice President Biden did anything wrong or misused his authority when he pressed for the removal of Ukraine's corrupt former prosecutor general. Joe Biden did nothing wrong.
The witnesses testified that Vice President Biden was in fact carrying out official U.S. policy to clean up the prosecutor general's office in Ukraine. This policy, of course, aligned with the perspectives of many in this very distinguished body, as well as our European allies throughout the world, as well as the International Monetary Fund. Vice President Biden did not remove Yuriy Lutsenko, the corrupt prosecutor, the Ukrainian government did with the support of the free world. Nonetheless, on October 3rd, 2019, when a reporter asked President Trump "what exactly did you hope Zelensky would do about the Bidens after your phone call?" President Trump responded as follows.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
QUESTION: Mr. President, what exactly did you hope Zelensky would do about the Bidens after your phone call?
TRUMP: Well I would think that if they were honest about it, they'd start a major investigation into the Bidens. It's a very simple answer.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JEFFRIES: "Start a major investigation into the Bidens." The evidence of wrongdoing by President Trump is hiding in plain sight. During the July 25th call, President Trump also repeatedly pressed the Ukrainian President to coordinate with his personal attorney, Rudolph Giuliani. Why was Rudolph Giuliani's name mentioned multiple times during the July 25th phone call?
Giuliani is not the Secretary of State, he's not an Ambassador, he's not a member of the diplomatic corps. Rudolph Giuliani is a cold- blooded political operative for President Trump's re-election campaign. That is why he was referenced multiple times on that July 25th phone call and it is evidence of corrupt intent by President Trump.
By the time the call took place, President Zelensky understood Giuliani's connection to the shakedown scheme. He recognized Giuliani's role as the President's political operative as matters related to Ukraine. Zelensky informed President Trump that "one of his aides spoke with Mr. Giuliani just recently and we are hoping very much that Mr. Giuliani will be able to travel to Ukraine and we will meet once he comes. The Ukrainian leader knew Giuliani represented President Trump's political interest in his country and could help unlock the long sought after Oval Office meeting that President Zelensky desired.
The phony investigation sought by President Trump on the July 25th call were not designed to bolster the national security interest of the United States of America. Quite the contrary, President Trump sought to benefit himself and his re-election prospects.
On the July 25th call, President Trump also suggested that President Zelensky speak with the attorney general, William Barr, about the two fake investigations that the president sought.
This is important to keep in mind, at no time during this entire sorted scheme was there an ongoing American law enforcement investigation into the phony slander related to Joe Biden or the conspiracy theory related to Ukrainian interference in the 2016 election.
At no time was there an ongoing American law enforcement investigation. America is the leader of the free world. We do not urge other sovereign countries to target American citizens.
Absent any legitimate basis, what so ever; absent any scintilla of evidence. Apparently President Trump does not play by those rules. During the July 25th call, President Trump didn't raise legitimate corruption concerns as it relates to Ukraine.
President Trump did not mention the word corruption once. The president did, however, viciously malign former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, a distinguished anti-corruption advocate whom he abruptly removed because she was seen as an obstacle to his geopolitical shakedown.
Ambassador Yovanovitch joined the diplomatic core under President Ronald Reagan and subsequently served three other Republican presidents. She is a highly respected diplomat and foreign service professional.
Yet, President Trump told the new Ukrainian leader the former ambassador from the United States, the woman, was bad news and the people she was dealing with in the Ukraine were bad news. So I just want to let you know that.
He didn't stop there. Later in the call, President Trump ominously added, well, she's going to go through some things. These are the words of the president of the United States of America.
Ambassador Yovanovitch did not know of President Trump's disparaging remarks at the time. She didn't learn of them until the call record became public in September. Asked whether she felt threatened by President Trump's statement that she was going to go through some things, Ambassador Yovanovitch answered that she did here (ph) is what she said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOLDMAN: The next excerpts when the president references you was a short one but he said well, she's going to go through some things. What did you think when President Trump told President Zelensky and you read that you were going to go through some things.
YOVANOVITCH: I didn't know what to think. But I was very concerned.
GOLDMAN: What were you concerned about?
YOVANOVITCH: She's going to go through some things, it didn't sound good. It sounded like a threat.
GOLDMAN: Did you feel threatened.
YOVANOVITCH: I did. (END VIDEO CLIP)
JEFFRIES: During that same call, President Trump also took the opportunity to praise Yuriy Lutsenko. Mr. Lutsenko is the former Ukrainian prosecutor general who was widely regarded by the entire free world.
Including our European allies and international monetary fund to be corrupt and incompetent. But Donald John Trump, our president, praised him on that call. He told President Zelensky quote, I heard you had a prosecutor who was very good and he was shutdown and that's really unfair.
A lot of people are talking about that, the way they shut your very good prosecutor down. And you had some very bad people involved. Think about this contrast. The president bashed the career American diplomat, an anti-corruption champion who he unceremoniously removed because she was viewed as an obstacle to his efforts to solicit foreign interference in the 2020 election.
And at the same time, praise someone who he thought could be an asset, a corrupt Ukrainian prosecutor who the free world viewed as an obstacle to the rule of law. The idea that President Trump cares about corruption is laughable.
It's laughable. Plain reading of the rough transcript of the July 25th call also sheds light on the quid pro quo involving the Oval Office meeting that had been sought. President Zelensky said on the call, I also wanted to thank you for your invitation to visit the United States.
Specifically, Washington D.C. On the other hand, I also wanted to insure that we will be very serious about the case and will work on the investigation. As all of you know here in this distinguished body quid pro quo is a Latin term, it means this for that. The statement that I just read shows that President Zelensky fully understood at the time of this July 25 call, that if he yielded to President Trump's demand for phony investigations he would get the White House meeting in the Oval Office that he desperately sought. This for that.
President Trump has repeatedly insisted that his July 25 conversation with President Zelensky was a perfect call. His staff at the White House apparently believed otherwise. The Press Office issued a short and incomplete summary of the July 25 call, let me read it for your hearing.
Today President Donald J. Trump spoke by telephone with President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine to congratulate him on his recent --
UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: Jesus Christ, we're probably (inaudible) --
J. ROBERTS: The Senate will be in order, the Sergeant-at-Arms will restore order in the gallery.
JEFFRIES: And the scripture says, for the Lord loves justice, and will not abandon his faithful ones.
Official White House call readout July 25, 2019. Today President Donald J. Trump spoke by telephone with President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine to congratulate him on his recent election.
President Trump and President Zelensky discussed ways to strengthen the relationship between the United States and Ukraine, including energy and economic cooperation. Both leaders also expressed that they look forward to the opportunity to meet.
That is the officials White House call readout dated July 25, 2019. The official readout provided to the American people omitted key elements of the president's conversation, let's review.
The official readout did not mention the phony investigations requested by President Trump. The official readout did not mention the Oval Office meeting sought by President Zelensky. The official readout did not mention President Trump's elevation of a debunked conspiracy theory promoted by Vladimir Putin about 2016 election interference.
The official readout did not mention President Trump's demand that Ukraine investigate his domestic, political rival, Joe Biden. The official readout did not mention that President Trump maligned and threatened Ambassador Yovanovitch, and the official readout did not mention that President Trump praised a corrupt, former Ukrainian prosecutor.
The complete conversation however, between President Trump and President Zelensky that we just outlined offers powerful evidence that President Trump abused his power and solicited foreign interference in the 2016 election -- the 2020 election.
Several members of the president's staff listening in on the call immediately grew concerned. As he sat in the White House Situation Room listening to the conversation, Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman realized that the president's demands of the Ukrainian leader were inappropriate and improper.
He quickly recognized that as the president began referencing the Bidens and CrowdStrike the call was diverging from the official National Security Council approved talking points that he helped prepare.
Lieutenant Colonel Vindman 20 year Iraq War Veteran, Purple Heart recipient, an American patriot. He testified in the context of the call that due to the unequal bargaining position of the two leaders, and Ukraine's dependence on the United States, the favor that President Trump sought would have been perceived by President Zelensky as a demand.
Lieutenant Colonel Vindman worried that the call would undermine U.S. national security interests, and he knew immediately that he had a duty to report the contents of the call to White House lawyers.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VINDMAN: I was concerned by the call. What I heard was inappropriate, and I reported my concerns to Mr. Eisenberg. It is improper for the president of the United States to demand a foreign government investigate a U.S. citizen, and a political opponent.
I was also clear that if Ukraine pursued an investigation -- it was also clear that if Ukraine proceeded investigation in to the 2016 elections, the Bidens' and Burisma, it would be interpreted as a partisan play. This would undoubtedly result in Ukraine losing bipartisan support, undermining the U.S. national security and advancing Russia's strategic objectives in the region.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JEFFRIES: Recounting (ph) the content of the call based on his detailed, handwritten notes Lieutenant Colonel Vindman told the lawyers that he believed it was wrong for President Trump to ask President Zelensky to investigate Vice President Biden.
Other witnesses were also troubled by what they heard. Vice President Pence's advisor Jennifer Williams expressed concern that President Trump raised the domestic political matter on an official call with a foreign leader.
She testified that the mention of investigations struck her as unusual and possibly political in nature. She said, I guess for me it shed some light on possible other motives behind a security assistance hold (ph).
Timothy Morrison, a former Republican Congressional staffer who replaced Dr. Fiona Hill in July of 2019 also reported the call to National Security Council lawyers. After the call President Trump continued to push the scheme forward. On July 26th, the very next day, Ambassador Sondland and Ambassador Taylor met with President Zelensky and other Ukrainian officials in Kiev.
According to David Holmes, the Ukraine-based U.S. diplomat who served as the note taker, the Ukrainian leader mentioned that President Trump had brought up some very sensitive issues during the July 25th call - very sensitive issues.
Ambassador Sondland then had a private meeting with Andriy Yermak, President Zelensky's top aide. The two men insisted that the meeting be one on one, with no note taker, perhaps due to the sensitive issues that might come up.
Ambassador Sondland testified that he and President Zelensky's aide probably discussed the issue of investigations. After these key moments in Ukraine, Ambassador Sondland went to lunch with David Holmes and two other American officials. Mr. Holmes sat directly across from Ambassador Sondland, close enough to hear the details of an extraordinary telephone call between Mr. Sondland and President Trump.
As Mr. Holmes relayed during his sworn testimony under oath, Ambassador Sondland pulled out his unsecured cellphone and said that he was going to call President Trump to give him an update. What happened next was shocking.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HOLMES: While Ambassador Sondland's phone was not on speakerphone, I could hear the President's voice through the earpiece of the phone. The President's voice was loud and recognizable and Ambassador Sondland held the phone away from his ear for a period of time, presumably because of the loud volume.
I heard Ambassador Sondland greet the President and explain he was calling from Kiev. I heard President Trump then clarify that Ambassador Sondland was in Ukraine. Ambassador Sondland replied yes, he was in Ukraine, and went on to state that President Zelensky quote "loves your ass."
I then heard President Trump ask "so he's going to do the investigation?" Ambassador Sondland replied that "he's going to do it," adding that President Zelensky "will do anything you ask him to do."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JEFFRIES: "He's going to do it, he will do anything you ask him to do." Immediately after this call with President Trump, Mr. Holmes followed up with Ambassador Sondland.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HOLMES: After the call ended, Ambassador Sondland remarked that the President was in a bad mood. As Ambassador Sondland stated, it was often the case early in the morning. I then took the opportunity to ask Ambassador Sondland for his candid impression of the President's views on Ukraine.
In particular, I asked Ambassador Sondland if "it was true that the President did not give a expletive about Ukraine." Ambassador Sondland agreed that "the President did not give an expletive about Ukraine." I asked "why not?" Ambassador Sondland stated that "the President only cares about big stuff."
I noted there was big stuff going on in Ukraine, like a war with Russia, and Ambassador Sondland replied that "he meant big stuff that benefits the President, like the Biden investigation that Mr. Giuliani was pushing." The conversation then moved on to other topics.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JEFFRIES: During the July 25th call, President Trump asked for the favor of these two phony political investigations immediately after the Ukrainian President brought up defense assistance for Ukraine. And the following day, Ambassador Sondland confirmed to President Trump that Ukraine would indeed initiate the investigations discussed on the call, which was the only thing the President cared about with respect to Ukraine.
He didn't care that Russia was forcefully occupying Eastern Ukraine, President Trump didn't care that thousands of Ukrainians apparently have died fighting for their democracy, he didn't seem to care that supporting Ukraine bolsters America's national security but he cared about himself as it relates to the prospects of his re-election in 2020.
In November, President Trump denied that he spoke to Ambassador Sondland on July 26th, telling reporters "I know nothing about that." But in his public testimony, Ambassador Sondland contradicted that assertion with official records he obtained from the White House.
Ambassador Sondland further explained that Holmes' testimony refreshed his re-election (sic) about the July 26th call, which Ambassador Sondland had not originally described when he first appeared at a deposition before the House.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SONDLAND: Also, on July 26th shortly after our Kiev meetings, I spoke by phone with President Trump. The White House, which has finally, finally shared certain call dates and times with my attorneys, confirms this. The call lasted five minutes.
I remember I was at a restaurant in Kiev and I have no reason to doubt that this conversation included the subject of investigations. Again, given Mr. Giuliani's demand that President Zelensky make a public statement about investigations, I knew that investigations were important to President Trump.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JEFFRIES: President Trump said that his July 25th conversation was a "perfect call." It was far from perfect. In a perfect call, the President would not demand a political favor from a vulnerable Ukraine under attack by a Russian foe.
In a perfect call, the President would not demand that a foreign leader investigate a Russian-inspired conspiracy about the 2016 election. In a perfect call, the President would not pressure a foreign government to target an American citizen for political, personal gain.
In a perfect call, the President would not solicit foreign interference in the 2020 election. In a perfect call, the President would not threaten the well-being of a highly respected American Ambassador and say that "she was going to go through some things."
In a perfect call, the President would not praise a disgraced former prosecutor who the free world viewed as corrupt and incompetent. And in a perfect call, the President would not have directed a foreign leader to follow up with Rudolph Giuliani, a human hand grenade. This was not a perfect call. It is direct evidence that President Donald John Trump corruptly abused his power and solicited foreign interference in the 2020 election.
J. ROBERTS: The majority leader is recognized.
MCCONNELL: Mr. Chief Justice, colleagues, we'll now take a 30-minute break for dinner and reconvene five minutes after 7:00. So I ask consent the Senate stand in recess until that time.
ROBERTS: Without objection, so ordered.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Well, they've been going on since 1:00 today. They took a half hour break earlier in the day. Jake, it looks like they've done about five hours. They probably have another three hours to go tonight. Then they'll have, what, another 16 hours tomorrow and Friday. And this is just from the House managers. They're making the case against the president of the United States.
And two headlines jumped out at me. We heard from six of the seven House managers so far today. Presumably, we'll hear from all of them in the course of the next few hours. One is they're rejecting this notion of a trade, Hunter Biden testifying in exchange for John Bolton testifying. That's off the table, according to the Senate Democratic leader. And we heard Adam Schiff, the lead House manager say this is not a fantasy football trade. He rejected that as well.
And Schiff also, in his earlier presentation that went on for about two hours, he said that what the president was trying to do was cheat in the upcoming 2020 election.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Right. That was in response to those Republicans saying that this should all be settled in the election, not in an impeachment and removal. And his argument, Chairman Schiff, was we can't leave this up to the election. The president is cheating and the election, has already been caught trying to cheat in the election.
One of the things that I think a lot of us agree on is the idea that the presentations being made by the House impeachment managers seem to be stronger when they are using video and evidence and not as strong when they are talking for, you know, what'd you say now? It's been five?
BLITZER: five hours today so far.
TAPPER: Yes. And there's 24 hours total for each side, which is a lot.
BLITZER: Over three days each.
TAPPER: Over three days each. So that's six days, 48 hours, that's a lot of time that the senators are being forced to spend without their phones, not talking. And we already know some of them are not necessarily happy to be there.
BLITZER: Yes. It's a long time to be listening and sitting and dwelling on these issues.
Dana Bash is up on Capitol Hill. What are you seeing up there? What are you hearing, Dana?
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: A lot of tired senators, as you just alluded to. But, look, if you kind of take a step back, this is the first day that the House Democratic managers have been able to present the narrative that they have been preparing. What exactly the president did and why they argue it is and was so wrong that he deserves to be removed from office.
And Adam Schiff did have a very lengthy opener. And then he was followed, as you said, by most of his colleagues, the other House managers. But the narrative and the sort of tale that they are telling is very specific to trying to describe in a way that keeps the senators interested, just how off the rails this president has gone and the people around him have gone to try to help him carry out what they say was the ultimate in abuse of power, which was the first article of impeachment, in trying to make a leader of another country, who is in desperate need -- an ally in desperate need of military aid that this Congress had approved to withhold that in exchange for that leader announcing a political investigation of the president's opponent.
I mean, all of the discussion, all of the talk, it all comes down to that and their efforts to explain that in the most colorful way. I could tell you just quickly I was in the Senate chamber for a little while.
Senators are trying very, very hard to stay focused, to pay attention, to take notes. And you could tell at a certain point, it's not easy for them. They're getting up. They're walking around. They're stretching their legs and sometimes leaving the chamber.
TAPPER: Dana Bash, thanks so much.
We have a couple new faces at our panel table and I want to get their take on what they have seen so far. Jim Baker, former General Counsel for the FBI, how -- you've seen cases like this brought in a more traditional court against a defendant, not against a president, but adjusting for that, how do you think the House managers are doing?
JIM BAKER, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes. I think they're in a box because it's not like a traditional criminal trial where I think it's easier -- it's not easy -- it's easier for juries to really understand what's going on. Because in a normal criminal trial, you get -- the prosecution gets an opening statement. The defense can make a statement too. Then you put on the evidence. And then you have closing arguments to explain what it all means and why it's a violation of the law. And I think that format is better.
I think one of the struggles I think that maybe people are having is where are they in the story trying to understand? There's not really a clear roadmap where they're going. There's not a clear outline. Maybe they're adjusting as time goes by but I would have thought they would have that sort of pieced out because it's not being interrupted by anybody.
So I think it's pretty effective. I do agree that the video clips and, you know, the text and so on make it easier for people to digest the information. But it's hard. Honestly, in a criminal trial or civil trial in the United States, jurors have to sit there the whole time.
They don't get to walk around and go out and do interviews and so on, which some of the members appear to be doing. And they don't get drinks brought to them and so on. So I don't have a lot of sympathy for the senators having to tough it out for this. American citizens across the country all the time have to sit through jury trials and make sense of complicated cases.
TAPPER: Mike Rogers, in addition to being former chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, this position that Adam Schiff now holds, one of the floor managers. You are a former FBI agent. So you've also seen the inside of a courtroom. What do you think?
MIKE ROGERS, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY COMMENTATOR: Well, this is a big difference in this way of there is a lot of extraneous information in there that wouldn't be admissible in court. There's lots of that flowery language that isn't evidence but they're trying to make their narrative politically and this is a big, blunt, political instrument.
And so I think their burden is to prove to the American public their case. And I thought it was very disjointed today. If you're just an average citizen trying to get a handle on this thing, I think it was really hard to follow. And nobody's going to listen to a two-and-a- half hour speech. Nobody's going to listen to a full hour speech. So did they make their point?
When you think about politicians in the House, you get five minutes on the House floor. That's an eternity, senators, maybe 15 minutes. it's going to be really hard, I think, to sell what their narrative is.
And remember, Americans already have made up their minds in many ways. So there has to be a big moment. There has to be that miracle on 34th Street, you know, the lawyer pounds the table and they bring in the mail to prove that there is Santa Claus. That's not going to happen here. And so what I saw today, I just don't think rose up to that level where you're going to start moving people on their convictions.
BLITZER: Jamie, for three days, the Democrats, the House managers, they will have their say. They'll make their case. We're not going to hear on the Senate floor from the White House defense counsel. But then they'll have three days to rebut.
JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: All I can think of is three days after this. I mean, one of the problems that the Democrats are facing is no witnesses, no documents. And they don't really expect to get those down the road. So they are trying to lay out the case with the videotape. As Jake said, we were talking earlier, I said more videotape of those very compelling witnesses and less speaking. But I think that the reality here is that they are trying to get it all on the record for a political reason. They want to say this is overwhelming evidence. These are the facts. Whereas they've been saying that the president's legal team is just arguing that this is a political witch hunt.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think that, you know, starting with Adam Schiff, who had a very cogent, self-contained two-hour presentation, he was giving us the timeline. And he was saying, you know, there are these three important days in July. You have to really pay attention to that, tell the story. The middle day, which of course was July 25th when the president made his phone call. And the day after, he speaks with Gordon Sondland. And he said, well, you know, no quid pro quo. But did he agree to investigations?
And so I think Schiff made this cogent point. He also said, look, this is a very big story here.
This is nothing less than an assault on the Constitution of the United States and American national security. I think he made that well. The -- and then he went on to make the point that we have to do this now because Donald Trump is trying to cheat on the election. That's -- that's a message that comes across loud and clear.
When you go to the rest of the managers, it wasn't clear what part of the case they were -- they were each trying to talk about as it was yesterday. I think it was -- I think it was more clear yesterday. And so, the public can be a little bit confused by that.
So that, to me, was kind of the -- the downside of all of this today because it's so long. And there's no back and forth. I think if you -- it's like a debate with yourself. If there were a little back and forth with the other side, the public might be a little more engaged in this. But you have to wait. You have to wait for the response for another day or so. And I think that's -- that's kind of a problem when you want to engage the public in this.
TAPPER: So speaking of confusion, I mean one of the reasons there's also confusion is because there is a lot of misinformation. A lot of things that are being stated that are not true.
And one of the president's attorneys, Jay Sekulow, said something earlier today in a press conference. And we brought it to you and I want to correct it because he said something that was just factually not accurate. Let's roll that tape.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAY SEKULOW, PRESIDENT TRUMP'S ATTORNEY: There is a lot of things I'd like to rebut and we will rebut. I mean, I think we said it yesterday. You know, first of all, you notice that Adam Schiff today talked about quid pro quo. Notice what's not in the articles of impeachment, allegations or accusations of quid pro quo. That's because they didn't exist.
So, you know, there is a lot of things we'll rebut but we'll do it in a orderly and I hope more systematic fashion.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: That's Jay Sekulow falsely stating in the articles of impeachment, there are no allegations or accusations of quid pro quo. It's true that the words "quid pro quo", this for that, do not appear in the articles of impeachment. But they certainly do describe this for that.
In fact, here is part of the articles of impeachment. Using the powers of his high office, President Trump solicited the interference of a foreign government, Ukraine, in the 2020 United States presidential election. He did so through a scheme or course of conduct that included soliciting the government of Ukraine to publicly announce investigations that would benefit his election, harm prospects of his political opponent and influence the 2020 presidential election to his advantage.
President Trump also sought to pressure the government of Ukraine to take these steps by conditioning official U.S. government acts of significant value to Ukraine on its public announcement of the investigations. The president engaged in this scheme or course of conduct for corrupt purposes in pursuit of personal, political benefit.
I am not a lawyer. But -- but does that not describe a quid pro quo to the letter?
CARRIE CORDERO, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, of course. Jay Sekulow is playing word games. So he's going out and he's giving a particular sound byte. So then that can be replayed that there's not a quid pro quo.
TAPPER: But look what he said. He said it doesn't -- allegations or accusations of quid pro quo. He didn't even say it doesn't contain the words of quid pro quo, allegations or accusations of quid pro quo. Isn't that an accusation of a quid pro quo?
CORDERO: Which is not true. The articles of impeachment are for abuse of power. What the abuse of power is that is being alleged is that the president withheld money, foreign defense aid, and a meeting with him, with a foreign head of state, in exchange for President Zelensky making a public announcement that he was going to investigate the Bidens. That is the exchange.
So when the president's lawyer goes out and make this statement, much like we heard some other statements that were made yesterday in the actual proceedings, it's not true.
CORDERO: And they're saying things that are not true because they're banking on the fact that a lot of Americans are not going to watch these many, many hours of testimony. Or they're not going to read the house manager's brief. But we can read it and we can show that what the House managers are alleging and what they have plenty of evidence to support, even based on their investigation so far, is that the president offered -- asked for -- certain investigations to be announced for his own personal benefit.
TAPPER: Can I just --
CORDERO: And that is the argument that Adam Schiff is trying to make and that he really tried to make when he had his presentation today. What happens if the Senate doesn't act on this? Doesn't remove the president. And what does that mean for future presidents and whether or not they can use their office to solicit foreign interference in our election?
TAPPER: And just to put a button on it, it's not just something Sekulow said at a press conference. The White House took the clip and tweeted it out. This is now part of the official White House record paid for by your tax dollars.
BLITZER: Let's bring in Senator Bob Menendez of New Jersey. He's the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Senator, thanks for joining us. I know you're going to go right back in to the Senate to continue listening.
How effective do you believe these opening arguments from the House managers have been?
SEN. ROBERT MENENDEZ (D-NJ): I think that the House managers have made a powerful, constructive, methodical case outlining to date with the substance of the testimony they elicited over in the House to back up their claims that the president used the powers of his office, both in withholding aid to Ukraine and denying a critical White House meeting to the president, newly elected president of Ukraine, for the purposes of a corrupt effort to ultimately involve Ukraine in our elections in 2020 to help him against Joe Biden.
I think, you know, if you don't believe what they say, then you have to look at the video testimony, and the video testimony of these witnesses are pretty compelling, especially when you consider that most of these witnesses are administration witnesses.
BLITZER: The president and his allies, as you just heard with Jake and Carrie, the president's allies say there was no mention in the articles of impeachment of a quid pro quo by name or bribery for that matter. Does that weaken the Democrats' case as the Republicans insist?
MENENDEZ: No, look, I mean, the use of the terminology "quid pro quo" which I think has been established here, however, just goes to the very essence of did the president ultimately use his powers in a corrupt, pervasive way, an abuse of power at the end of the day, which is Article I? And has he obstructed Congress in doing that? And I have to tell you, as someone sitting in that chamber, I
certainly feel that we have been obstructed in getting all of the information that's necessary. I mean, this goes to the very essence beyond President Trump right now. Article II, the question of can a president by an absolute and complete denial of witnesses of the government, of the administration, and documents ultimately undermine the very essence of what our constitutional order is, which is where Congress acts as a check and balance to this or any other president.
And I don't think my Republican colleagues understand that the decisions they're making now may very well alter the very essence of government as we know it.
TAPPER: Senator Menendez, it's Jake Tapper.
Let me ask you speaking of your Republican colleagues, the Senate as you know has taken away the ability of C-Span to air what's going on in the room other than what the Senate cameras are showing in the House impeachment manager's presentation.
When you look around the room, are your Republican colleagues and your Democratic colleagues listening? Are they focusing? Are they trying to take in what's being presented -- presented to them?
MENENDEZ: I'll tell you, I will say that for the most part, the answer is yes. At least they appear to be listening. I mean, we do have a series of our colleagues, particularly on the other side of the aisle who seem to get up quite a bit and often leave the chamber for extended periods of time.
I think it's important -- you know, listen, it's not a great comfort to sit there endless hours. But at the end of the day, I want to hear all the testimony, and I can't do it if I'm not in the chamber.
So, I think for the most part the answer too on both sides, but there are a fair number of people on the other side who seem to get up and I guess they've had enough and they just don't want to listen to the rest of the testimony.
TAPPER: And, Senator, I guess the big question about the House managers -- the House impeachment managers' presentation today is, have they moved the needle?
Susan Collins, Mitt Romney, Lamar Alexander, Cory Gardner, Martha McSally, individuals who either are facing tough re-elections in purple states or maybe they're statesmen of some sort like Alexander and Romney, are any of these individuals, do you think, being convinced by what they hear that maybe this is serious and not just a partisan hoax or witch hunt?
MENENDEZ: Well, only they can give you that answer and only time will tell.
But I'll tell you this, that I think they must be thinking, some of them, who've said that they want to see witnesses, they can make their wish come true by casting a vote for witnesses. I think some of them have to be thinking about, wow, did I really do the right thing by not having witnesses, having heard already the substance of what some of these witnesses could bring based upon the information that has been elicited somewhat by the House in terms of indirect testimony and also from texts and emails?
I think they must be saying to themselves, did I deny myself and the American people that opportunity?
I hope that when they recapitulate in terms of thinking about that and ultimately decide that there should be witnesses, because the American people deserve to see the entirety of the truth of what happened here.
BLITZER: Senator Menendez, I know you've got to get back in. Thank you very much for joining us.
And, Nia, I want to go through this whole I want to go through this whole exchange. We heard from Adam Schiff and Chuck Schumer, rejecting this notion that in exchange for John Bolton testifying, Hunter Biden would have to testify. And the former Vice President Joe Biden specifically said today if he's called, he won't testify.
Let me play the clip. This is the former vice president.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The reason why I would not make the deal the bottom line is I -- this is a constitutional issue. And we're not going to turn it into a farce, into some kind of political theater. They're trying to turn it into political theater but I want no part of being any part of that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Hold that thought for just a moment. Kamala Harris, the senator from California is joining us right now.
Senator, can you hear me OK?
SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA): Hi. Yes, I can. Hi.
BLITZER: You can.
So, what do you think? How's it going from your perspective?
HARRIS: I -- I mean, it's coming along. Yesterday was an exercise in frustration simply because there were so many very reasonable amendments that are being offered that are -- would be in the interest of a fair trial. And, of course, straight party lines, they were voted down.
Including my colleague Chris Van Hollen and his amendment that was just so reasonable, which is that the chief justice of the United States Supreme Court who, as we remember, was appointed by a Republican, that he would have the ability to make a decision about what is relevant in terms of who would come forward as a witness. And again, that was voted down based on party lines.
So, yesterday was an exercise in frustration. I hope it does not portend for what lays ahead. But I think that the House managers are doing an incredible job.
Most recently, the last that we heard from is Hakeem Jeffries who's really just laying out the math and showing the facts and then helping the senators and the American people understand the context in which they should think about these various facts.
TAPPER: Senator, it's Jake Tapper. How are you doing?
HARRIS: Hi. Hi, Jake.
TAPPER: So, you are a former prosecutor. You were the district attorney of San Francisco. You were the --
TAPPER: -- attorney general of California.
TAPPER: Do you think there is any advice you might have for the House impeachment managers -- I'm trying to think of a diplomatic way is to get an answer here -- any advice you might offer for them in terms of telling a story, in terms making this as compelling as possible? What might you suggest to them?
HARRIS: Well, I think -- as I said, for example, just the last one, but today I think has been a great day. It's important to show people the math.
You know, when I was trying cases and I've also taught trial practice, I'd always explain that when you're talking to a jury, you should not just offer them the conclusion. You have to show people the math, two plus two plus two plus two is eight, instead of saying you must find eight. And that means going through each fact and that allows us to then draw a conclusion.
So, this most recent presentation, for example, is about the July 25th call. And I thought that Jeffries did an excellent job of showing each element of that conversation, be it about Zelensky mentioning that he needed help in terms of their national security interests, going through the piece about what was mentioned in terms of the ambassador and that she should -- that things are going to happen to her, going through the mention about the Bidens and just -- he's almost staccato, going through each one of the facts to allow us to then draw the conclusion which, of course, is that -- this is a call initiated by Donald Trump in the interest of self-service and not in the interest of national security or in the interest of helping an ally who needed help.
BLITZER: Senator Kamala Harris of California, thanks so much.
HARRIS: You're welcome. BLITZER: I know you need to get back inside as well.
HARRIS: Yes, OK, thanks, guys.
BLITZER: I hope you'll able (ph) to eat in the interim.
HARRIS: Yes. Thank you. Thanks.
BLITZER: So, Nia, go ahead. I asked you about the former Vice President Joe Biden --
NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: Right.
BLITZER: -- saying even if he's called, he's not going to testify.
HENDERSON: Yes, he's essentially reiterating something he said before, that he wouldn't comply with a subpoena if he was called because he didn't see himself as a material witness, something also Schiff said as well. Listen, this is coming up because it appears that maybe some Democrats have talked about this idea of a swap. You saw top Democrats slap this down and say that, you know, this isn't a fantasy football league where you can just trade one player for the next.
Joe Biden obviously wants to steer clear of this. Donald Trump wants to make it about Joe Biden. That's why we're here because of his call with the Ukrainian leader. So, it's not a surprise that he is saying that.
And we'll see, I mean this is the big question. Who comes before the Senate? Is it Joe Biden? Apparently not. He says it won't be. Would it be Hunter Biden? Would it be the whistleblower or John Bolton or any of these folks? That's the big question. We'll find out over these next couple of days.
BLITZER: They started at 1:00 today. They're taking a break for dinner. They're going at least another three hours. We'll watch it. Then the Democrats will two more days to make their case before the White House lawyers make their case over three days as well.
Thanks very much for joining us.
"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" picks up our coverage.