Return to Transcripts main page
ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) Was Interviewed About Whether Chairman Adam Schiff's Strong and Passionate Closing Arguments Has Changed Any Republican Minds on the Senate Floor; New Audio Recording Could be used Against President Trump; White House Team Presents Their Counterargument Tomorrow; Democrats Wrap Case for Trump's Removal and White House Defense Team is on Deck; ABC News Releases Audio Purportedly of President Trump Ordering Firing of U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine; Sen. Angus King (I-ME) is Interviewed About How the House Managers Presented Their Case and the Votes the Dems Need to Get the Trial Witnesses They Want. Aired 11p-12a ET
Aired January 24, 2020 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDER COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening.
We've now heard from beginning to end the case for removing President Trump from office, Democratic House impeachment managers tonight wrapping up their three-day long opening presentation.
They laid out the facts and logic behind their two articles of impeachment in a way that wherever you may stand on the president was both easy to follow and maybe did I feel to dismiss out of hand.
We'll talk more in the hour ahead about the impact their words may be having and on whom, we'll look ahead as well to tomorrow when the defense begins its case.
Also, tonight what could be new evidence that could speak to the president's conduct, a recording of what appears to be his voice on it demanding the firing of the U.S. ambassador at the center of all of this. It was reportedly made at a dinner with the man Lev Parnas who the president has repeatedly said he doesn't know.
A reminder to senators perhaps the political risk of rushing this through only to see now facts in the case come to light.
First, though, CNN's Sara Murray takes a look back at what we heard today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. VAL DEMINGS (D-FL): The president abused the powers entrusted in him by the American people in a scheme to suppress evidence, escape accountability, and orchestrate a massive cover up.
(END VIDEO CLIP) SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: In their final day of
opening arguments Democrats condemned President Trump's efforts to block witnesses.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ZOE LOFGREN (D-CA): President Trump forced those officials to choose between submitting to the demands of their boss or break the law.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MURRAY: And the Trump administration's refusal to hand over any documents to impeachment investigators.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. SYLVIA GARCIA (D-TX): No documents, zero.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MURRAY: Impeachment managers set the stakes arguing the president abused his power when he attempted to withhold a White House meeting and security aide unless Ukraine pursued investigations into Joe Biden in 2016, and claiming everything that came after that was an attempt to cover his tracks and obstruct Congress.
They warned senators that Trump's behavior was part of a pattern, once again using his own words against him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Then I have an article two where I have the right to do whatever I want as president.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MURRAY: And they cautioned of the consequences if Congress failed to intervene.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): Do you think if we do nothing it's going to stop now?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MURRAY: Senators who are supposed to listen quietly to the lengthy proceedings have taken to passing notes, whispering to their neighbors and readings books. At least one senator snuck in a cell phone but at points they fell silent like when lead impeachment manager Adam Schiff revealed how Trump shrugged the U.S. intelligence assessments that Russia meddled in the 2016 election.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TRUMP: My people came to me, Dan Coats came to me and some others,
they said they think it's Russia. I have President Putin, he just said it's not Russia. I will say this, I don't see any reason why it would be.
SCHIFF: This is just the most incredible propaganda coup. He won't read his own national security staff talking points but he will read the Kremlin ones.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MURRAY: Instead Schiff argued Trump has bought into the debunked theory that Ukraine, not Russia, meddled in the last election. Setting the stage for the latest scandal to engulf the White House.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SCHIFF: They buy-in to that propaganda meant that Ukraine wasn't going to get money to fight the Russians. I mean, that's one hell of a Russian intelligence coup.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MURRAY: A hush fell over the room once again as the late Senator John McCain's voice filled the chamber.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FORMER SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ): Putin also sees, here's this beautiful and large and magnificent country called Ukraine.
SCHIFF: Senator McCain advised that this is a chess match rim reminiscent of the Cold War and we need to realize that and act accordingly. He was, of course, absolutely right.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MURRAY: Saturday the president's defenders get their shot on the Senate floor. Democrats tried to anticipate their response.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SCHIFF: Now you'll also hear the defense -- the president said there was no quid pro quo. This is a well-known principle of criminal law that if the defendant says he didn't do it he couldn't have done it. That doesn't hold up in any court in the land. It shouldn't hold up here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MURRAY: And they urged senators to set party allegiance aside as they judge the president's conduct.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SCHIFF: Let's imagine it wasn't Joe Biden. Let's imagine it was any one of us. Let's imagine the most powerful person in the world was asking a foreign nation to conduct a sham investigation into one of us.
It shouldn't matter that it was Joe Biden because I'll tell you something, the next time it just may be you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MURRAY: Sara Murray, CNN, Washington.
COOPER: Quite a night and three historic days so far.
Here to talk about it, our political and legal team, Elliott Williams, Carl Bernstein, Amanda Carpenter, Kirsten Powers, and Scott Jennings.
Amanda, you were a Senate staffer, I'm wondering what you are hearing from Republicans in the Senate, what you're hearing from -- what you imagine -- do you think any minds were changed on the Republican side?
AMANDA CARPENTER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Of the peoples who could be persuadable, they're thinking about the politics and of the people I'm watching, like my former boss Ted Cruz, I mean, brace yourself, the Republicans are going to mount a very strong counterattack. They are going to have a perfect call defense. They're going to go out and say listen --
COOPER: Nothing short of a perfect call is OK for them.
CARPENTER: No, they're going to go for it. I think this is going to get ugly. It's going to get personal about the Bidens, very quickly.
They're going to go to that floor and they're going to say, listen, we spent all this time talking about things that we know happened. We know Trump asked for the investigations. We know he paused the aid. That was legitimate.
He was justified in asking for the investigation of Hunter Biden because a powerful Ukrainian company was trying to buy off the son of a former vice president. That's the argument flatly and I heard no Democrat defend that arrangement.
Hunter Biden doesn't even defend that arrangement. He said to ABC News yes, I probably had that job because of my last name. And so, I think that's a huge opening that they're going to push the gas and pedal hard on the week before the Iowa caucus. That will do tremendous damage, they hope, to Joe Biden. That will benefit Bernie Sanders, who ultimately is who Trump wants to face.
COOPER: Elliott, you know the Capitol Hill pretty well.
ELLIOT WILLIAMS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, but it's interesting, so I think big picture, you know, looking at how Schiff laid out the case today, I think the moral -- what he was saying was that the moral wrong really was the abuse of power. Right? This is something that a president ought not to do.
But the subtext of what Schiff -- Adam Schiff was saying today was that far more dangerous to us as a union is the obstruction of justice because of the fact that the one thing the framers wrote in, to put a check on the president of the United States, was Congress. Either through the ability to subpoena witnesses, or call witnesses, or have hearings.
And if it comes to it, impeachment. Without that, and Schiff said this quite explicitly, without that, you know, you march toward tyranny to some extent.
And look, you know, people freak out a little bit when you start talking about tyranny and kings and stuff like that. But if there is a president with no check from Congress that's where you get. And, look, we tried monarchy once in the United States. It didn't end particularly well. And we shouldn't go back there. It is very important that there be some check on a president's power and I would think conservatives would agree with me on this.
COOPER: Carl --
WILLIAMS: We don't want --
COOPER: Carl, what do you make of Adam Schiff's closing?
CARL BERNSTEIN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I thought that the whole narrative, and particularly the closing, was the most shameful account, perhaps, in American presidential history, so eloquently presented, that I cannot see how any open minded person could not be swayed as to the constitutional criminality of the President of the United States Donald Trump in the extreme.
And that the craven inability of the senators in the Republican Party to do really, as Schiff said, make a moral choice about right and wrong.
It might sound trite up here but this is a pivotal moment in our history and it's going to go the wrong way, probably, not to vote for acquittal, but the idea that we cannot have a real trial of a President of the United States who has done grievous damage to the country, the Constitution and the subtext of everything we heard in this narrative today about our president being a lap dog and serving the interests of Russia throughout, and of Vladimir Putin. Irrefutable.
COOPER: Kirsten, did the Democrats make their case in the last three days?
KIRSTEN POWERS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I think that they made an airtight craze -- case. And listening to what Amanda is saying, I mean, I think that's right, we've already seen the Republicans kind of lay out the kind of arguments that they're going to make, which are arguments that we've been hearing a lot. But I just -- what I don't understand is how anybody can listen to
that and agree with it. It's just -- what it would mean is that if there's a Democratic president in the future and Scott, if you could just answer this question.
If there's a Democratic president in the future, and they ask a foreign government to investigate a political rival in the Republican Party and they use foreign -- some sort of official foreign policy, whether it's a White House meeting or whether it's aid or whatever it is, are you OK with that?
SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I'm not --
POWERS: And will Republicans be OK with that?
JENNINGS: Well, look, I think Republicans are going to argue, to Amanda's point --
POWERS: But Scott, that's why -- I just want you to answer that question.
CARPENTER: But the --
POWERS: No, no. I just want --
JENNINGS: I think -- I think they're going to argue what Amanda is saying, which is there were --
POWERS: I mean, I don't want to argue --
JENNINGS: -- there could have been multiple motives for this, which is not uncommon for presidents to have multiple motives and --
POWERS: No. But I'm giving you a very specific thing. Because this is important because what's going to happen is Republicans do what we all think they're going to do that is a scenario we're now facing. It is Republicans saying that that kind of behavior is acceptable. So, I'm just asking you if another president does that, are you OK with that?
JENNINGS: I -- I'm not going to answer a hypothetical in the future. I don't know what the situation would be. I think Republicans are going to do what Amanda said, which is argue there was a legitimate reason for the president to bring this up and that Democrats have overplayed by arguing that this is somehow trying to rig the election.
By the way, I heard repeatedly all throughout last night and this morning that Schiff sang last night that the 2016 election was essentially stolen and if we don't prevent Trump from being on the ballot then the 2020 election is already illegitimate. That really rankled the conference.
They just don't see it that way, Kirsten. They don't believe that the Democratic claims that this is somehow election rigging, foreign --
POWERS: But take --
JENNINGS: -- they don't believe -- they don't believe that verbiage. They don't believe the severity of what you're saying.
POWERS: But take the election rigging out of it and just take what I just describe which did happen. There's just no dispute about it. There's no dispute that he was using a White House meeting and he was using foreign aid to try to get them to do an investigation into a political rival. That's just not in dispute.
So how is that OK and how is that something that we are now saying in the future is going to be acceptable behavior in the --
WILLIAMS: I would even further than that, Kirsten. Like, it would be foolish for a future president not to. It would be irrational for a future president not to know that the bar has been set so low for presidential conduct that now we've opened the door to exactly what you're saying to future presidents, inviting the intrusion of foreign governments into our system of elections. So, you're absolutely right.
COOPER: I've got to get a break in. Ahead tonight, a jurors' take on all my conversation with Democratic Senator Chris Murphy. Also later, more breaking news, audio appears to be of President Trump talking at a table that Lev Parnas was at, the man he says he doesn't know, and then demanding the firing of the U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch which is something Lev Parnas himself said happened and now there's a tape released by his attorney.
COOPER: Democrats made their closing arguments tonight, defenders of the president begin their case tomorrow morning, more history about to be made in a building that has seen so much already.
Earlier tonight impeachment scholar Michael Gerhart made the observation that in his final summation lead impeachment manager Adam Schiff was trying point by point, blow by blow to give Republicans no place to hide, if not politically than at least philosophically. Whether that will work as we've discussed in in question tonight, if not, I doubt.
Just before air time I spoke with one of the jurors, Senator Chris Murphy, a Democrat from Connecticut.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Senator, the Democrats wrapped their case today. I wonder, are you satisfied with how it was presented and do you think any Republican minds were changed?
SEN. CHRIS MURPHY (D-CT): I think what's interesting, Anderson, is that a lot of these Republicans haven't seen this argument made before. A lot of them didn't watch the House testimony. A lot of them haven't seen Sondland and Taylor presented in public.
And so, while some of it might have seemed repetitive I think it was really important for Republican senators to sit through the entire timeline, the entire story of this corruption scheme.
I think many of them didn't understand how big it was. Now I don't know that that changes their mind but it makes the job on the president's lawyers awful tough.
And I think Representative Schiff understood that because he ended tonight, I think very effectively, by concentrating on all of the distractions that were going to be launched by the president's lawyers.
I think he's effectively come to the conclusion that the Trump lawyers aren't going to act -- aren't going to try to contest the facts. They aren't going to try to contest the corruption. They're going to just try to distract with, you know, how mean the House managers were to the president or how bad the Bidens are or how unfair the process was. I thought that was really an effective way for him to end.
COOPER: Earlier today you said that when it comes to calling witnesses you were much more optimistic last week than you are now. I wonder is it that -- what is it that changed your mind? Do you think there is any chance witnesses will be called?
MURPHY: I think there's absolutely a chance. I mean, I've talked to Senate Republicans who are still I think very willing to look at witnesses. But I also know this week, having been on the floor, that Senator McConnell, and the president's people, were pressing Republicans pretty hard to get in line.
And you started to hear these arguments that we just don't have enough time. If you want witnesses it's just going to take too long. Well, one witness is John Bolton who has told us he wants to testify. He's not going to take the Senate to court.
And he has a really important story to tell because as we've learned over the course of the last three days, he's one of the people that was in the room multiple times with Trump when Trump likely gave the orders for this scheme to be carried out. So, I think there's still a chance. I just know that the Republicans in the White House will work in this really hard this week.
COOPER: The president's attorneys obviously began their case tomorrow and as you said, Adam Schiff was sort of trying to preempt that by going over some of the arguments they're likely to make. How much do you expect them to focus on the Bidens, in particular, versus, you know, a step by step recounting of the president's actions and their interpretation of it?
MURPHY: I don't expect them to do any step by step recounting of the president's actions. They're not going to do a point by point rebuttal of the timeline because they can't.
The timeline is the timeline. The corruption scheme happened. They are absolutely, I think, going to spend an enormous amount of time trying to pre-litigate the 2020 general election.
Joe Biden may or may not be the candidate for the Democrats but this whole thing has been about trying to destroy who Trump sees as one of the strongest candidates. And if he didn't get it done behind the scenes with Ukraine he and his people are going to try and get it done on the floor of the Senate over the next three days.
I think that's why they are not really interested in spending too much time tomorrow, on Saturday they want as many eyes as possible on their reelection arguments that they are going to be making starting in large part on Monday.
COOPER: Just lastly, Republican Senator Ron Johnson claimed that the impeachment inquiry has actually damaged the U.S.-Ukraine relationship, adding, quote, "the sooner this ends, the better for America."
I'm not sure exactly what that's based on and how the impeachment inquiry could damage relations more than the president trying to extort Ukraine.
MURPHY: You know, Ron Johnson and I obviously have been part of this trial. We traveled to Ukraine as this corruption was unfolding. And, you know, President Zelensky told us to our face that he wanted to stay out of American elections, that he knew that getting dragged into U.S. politics was going to hurt him and hurt Ukraine.
So, President Zelensky told us to our face that it was the attempts by the Trump people to drag him into American politics that was doing the damage to him and his country and that is, of course, the truth.
Our responsibility is to get to the bottom of this corruption. And though, yes, when this trial is over it will be a little bit easier for people like Ron Johnson and I to get back together, working on pro-U.S. Ukraine policy.
Our responsibility now to our constituents, to the U.S. taxpayers is to find the truth and that truth cannot be found in whole without getting witnesses and documents.
COOPER: Senator Murphy, I appreciate your time. Thank you.
COOPER: Up next, a live report from the White House as President Trump's legal team prepares for its first day of arguments tomorrow. Their game plan just ahead.
COOPER: Starting at 10 a.m. tomorrow President Trump's defense team is officially on the clock for up to 24 hours and three days of arguments. There's certainly a lot of questions about it, and a lot of anticipation building toward what we'll see and hear.
Kaitlan Collins joins us now from the White House. So, Kaitlan, I know the president's weighing in with advice for his legal team. What's he's been saying?
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes. He was asked what does he want to say to them ahead of tomorrow and their first opening statements on the floor and he said to Fox News and tonight in an interview, and I'm quoting him now. "What my people have to do is just be honest, just tell the truth, he said, about this forthcoming presentation."
Now, of course, that's not all the president wants them to do. We have also heard, Anderson, from multiple people who say the president wants hem them to defend his call with the Ukrainian leader as a perfect call. It will be interesting to see if that's a tactic they pursue or if they instead just go after the House's investigation of the president because we know that there are several Republican senators who when that call transcript first came out did not say it was a perfect call.
COOPER: You know, it's funny because if you ask pretty much any senator that question, either the senators pretend they haven't heard you or they answer the question that they wish you asked. Nobody will answer that question about whether or not it was a perfect call. The idea that his attorneys are going to have to stand up there and actually make a full- throated defense that it's a perfect call.
COOPER: I mean, that's going to be fascinating to see if they actually do use that term.
COLLINS: Yes, and it's not just that. The other thing that will be interesting, and this came to my mind when you were watching the House Democrats, is they played that clip of the president's own FBI director Christopher Wray saying that that theory that Ukraine interfered in the election in 2016 instead of Russia -- he said it was debunked, not true.
And of course, if you read through the legal briefs that the president's team filed that is one of the sections in the index, that it was appropriate for the president to ask about possible interference by Ukraine in 2016.
So, if they try to defend that when the Democrats just played this clip of the president's own FBI director saying it's not true, it will also be really interesting to see how they're going to straddle that.
COOPER: Yes, Kaitlan Collins, I appreciate it. Thanks.
Back with our political and legal team. Scott, do you -- I mean, Amanda sort of painted a very stark picture of what she thinks the Republican attorneys are going to do tomorrow, or at least begin to do tomorrow. Do you think that's pretty accurate?
JENNINGS: Yes, I do. I think a lot of Biden talk. I think that's what the White House is telegraphing here that they want to get into that and they'll of course say that the door was opened by Democrats opening that door.
So, I think we're going to hear a lot of that and I think we're going to hear a lot of pushback on frankly some of the talk that Schiff got into regarding the 2016 election. And then sort of projecting on the 2020 election.
I've heard a lot of folks chattering about this, you know Schiff, they don't view him as a credible voice because he spent all this time before the Mueller report claiming he had direct evidence of collusion and then the Mueller report sort of deflated that and now they're listening to him give speeches saying, well, if we don't take Trump off the ballot, remember, it's not just removal from office. They'd take him off the ballot that the 2020 election is already essentially illegitimate. They don't -- they don't like that.
I think you're going to hear them talk about how the Democrats apparently don't have confidence in their own field of candidates and maybe don't have confidence in the American people to conduct an election.
CARPENTER: But here's one thing. Republicans are going to stand up and argue that the investigation was legit. Here's where I think they're a little bit weak, and Democrats should push them on that.
Number one, are we really supposed to believe that President Trump was so concerned about nepotism and corruption? Are you kidding me? That he singled out --
BERNSTEIN: Who said?
CARPENTER: -- this one company, and it just happened to be the son of his potential rival.
Number two, he's going to have to prove that these actions were in the national interests, not just his narrow political interest. I think that's really tough to do when you're outsourcing party or foreign policy to Rudy Giuliani and the fraud brothers. But we'll see how they do that. COOPER: Elliot, do you -- I don't -- I mean, Elliot, you're an attorney, do you actually believe that they will try to kind of go point by point through this thing?
ELLIOT WILLIAMS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Oh, no. And it's funny. If you look, they've actually meandered -- meander is a judgment -- but they've changed their arguments they've used. First, it was let's talk about witnesses later or now. And then it was Democrats have said nothing new and they're just repeating themselves. And today, we started hearing this argument that, well, the Democrats, Adam Schiff used very strong language and that sort of offended us.
Part of the issue is they kind of don't have to have a legal argument here because it seems clear that the Republican caucus is going to be together. Now, it's all about politics. If you noticed -- I don't know if everybody saw -- The Washington Post around 7:00 tonight put out a story saying that look, they're going to go after Joe Biden, that's what tomorrow is going to be about. Any thought that this is going to be a sound legal argument on the merits is just not true. They're going to be --
CARL BERNSTEIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: The idea, though, of the president telling his lawyers to tell the truth, I just want to stop on that for a moment. Donald Trump --
COOPER: It's genius.
BERNSTEIN: -- telling people to tell the truth, we have never had a president who lies anything like this man. And I think one of the things that we need to think about -- what Schiff was doing. He had more than the audience in the Senate floor. He also was thinking about the election.
And this narrative about what this president has done and also the notion that the truth is going to yap at the heels of these senators through this campaign and perhaps long after, but an awful lot is going to come out, I think we know that, about the president, about some of his conversations with other world leaders, perhaps. We're going to learn a lot.
And the fact that these Republican senators seem to be oblivious, both to history and the moral dimension of what they're doing and not allowing a trial to go forward, after a presentation that was very convincing, I think -- I think people -- you tell me, Scott. I was told there are a lot of uncomfortable people in the room listening to that presentation. Is that a fair --
SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I heard Republican senators thought Schiff yesterday made a compelling presentation. And tonight, he got a little off the rails and one person told me jumped the shark. So I think some of it was compelling. Some of it they didn't find compelling.
And to Elliot's point, it was a strong language. They didn't like it that he came on the Senate floor and essentially made things up about what the White House is supposedly telling Republican senators. I know you think this is crap --
WILLIAMS: We talked about that.
JENNINGS: -- but people don't like it when you come to their office --
WILLIAMS: Oh, come on.
JENNINGS: -- and impugn their character. They don't like it.
BERNSTEIN: Think about what this president has said. His language about most of the people on the other side of the aisle there and they are talking about a CBS report about pike on a stick. This is insane.
KIRSTEN POWERS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Why are they getting so offended about -- yes -- about this -- whether he said it or he didn't say it, that their heads would be on a pike? That's what offends them?
CARPENTER: It's easy.
BERNSTEIN: After the conduct to this president.
POWERS: That's what offends then after everything that they have heard for the last three days?
POWERS: That's what offends them?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Look, a number of --
POWERS: I mean there's something really wrong with this.
POWERS: I mean you have Susan Collins also sending a note to John Roberts complaining about Jerry Nadler. You know, she was so shocked and shocked by what happened, and it's like that's what shocks you, Susan Collins?
BERNSTEIN: Margaret Chase Smith. You think of her idol.
POWERS: Why are you shocked and outraged by what you're being told the president did?
COOPER: Also, I mean, we have a lot of Republicans coming out and saying well, it's repetitive what we've been hearing, they're just repeating the same thing over and over again. The president repeats the same thing over and over and over again, and people say he's a marketing genius and he's great.
And I don't think I've ever heard any of those Republican senators run before the cameras and say, oh, my god, the president is yet again repeating the witch hunt. I mean, we've heard it a million times. They all just slavishly repeat it as well.
JENNINGS: One other -- back to the arguments for just one a minute. One thing I think important is what the president's lawyers will say. They have one boss, the president, versus what the Republican senators may say after they take the vote. I have no doubt the president is going to be acquitted.
But I do think you're going to see some Republican senators express varying levels of discomfort with the call, with the -- you know, Rudy, Lev and Igor, whatever, and that will obviously go beyond what the president's lawyers would say in their own defense.
COOPER: You'll hear the words concerned, uncomfortable --
JENNINGS: I think you're going to hear the words bad judgment. I think you're going to hear the words I don't like it. I think you're going to hear the words I don't like it but it doesn't rise to the level of throwing out the president.
COOPER: We got to take a break. Everyone, stay with us.
COOPER: Speaking of those two men Amanda Carpenter referred to a moment ago, the fraud brothers, we have a new tape to talk about, one that doesn't just appear to tie President Trump closer to the firing of former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, but also to one of the two men, Lev Parnas, who the president says he does not know.
COOPER: More evidence tonight that suggests President Trump did indeed know two men who were associates of his personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, and who were involved in the effort to oust former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch.
COOPER: Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman were charged in October with violating campaign finance laws. President Trump said at the time, "I don't know those gentlemen." However, a recording of a dinner at the Trump Hotel in Washington obtained by ABC News suggests otherwise. Two clips released tonight were recorded in April of 2018 and begin a man we know is Lev Parnas.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LEV PARNAS, FORMER ASSOCIATE OF RUDY GIULIANI (voice-over): The biggest problem there, I think where we need to start is we got to get rid of the ambassador. She's still left over from the Clinton administration.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES (voice-over): What, the ambassador of Ukraine?
PARNAS (voice-over): Yeah. She's basically walking around telling everybody wait, he's going to get impeached, just wait.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): Really?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): It's incredible.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: In the second clip, we hear that same voice of a man who sounds like the president apparently responding.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP (voice-over): Get her out tomorrow. I don't care. Get her out tomorrow. Take her out. OK? Do it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: CNN has not confirmed the authenticity of the tape. I think I said the attorney released it to ABC, but I don't think that is actually the case. I think we're not clear on who released it to ABC. If confirmed, it would support what Lev Parnas said on this program last week about that very same dinner at the Trump Hotel in Washington and about the president's desire to fire the ambassador.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PARNAS: To my knowledge, the president fired her at least four times, maybe even five times, once in my presence.
COOPER (on camera): Explain that. You said that he fired her in front of you?
COOPER: What happened?
PARNAS: That was the first interaction about her. We had -- it was a dinner at the -- a private dinner for a Super PAC in Washington, D.C. at the Trump Hotel. And in the conversation, the subject of Ukraine was brought up, and I told the president that -- our opinion, that she is bad mouthing him and that she said that he's going to get impeached, something like that. I don't know if that's word for word. That she was --
COOPER (on camera): You said that at the table?
COOPER (on camera): Where the president was?
PARNAS: Correct. And his reaction was he looked at me, like got very angry and basically turned around to John DeStefano and said fire her, get rid of her.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Back with us, our political and legal team. Carl, it's interesting because the president said, look, I pose for a lot of pictures with a lot of people. That's an accurate, true statement. Lev Parnas is not just some other person who donated some money and got to be in a receiving line, he was glued at the hip to Rudy Giuliani.
BERNSTEIN: He's the instrument of this plot.
COOPER: He was the --
BERNSTEIN: He is the instrument --
COOPER: Rudy Giuliani was not in Ukraine, he was.
BERNSTEIN: He is the instrument of the scheme. But let's just step back and take a deep breath. We have gone in less than 40 years from Mr. Gorbachev tear down this wall from a Republican president to take her out. It is astonishing. It's not a criminal -- it's not an impeachable offense, I guess, to talk like a thug, but it certainly figures in this whole presentation.
It all starts to fit together, the president of the United States, this group of goons running around, Ukraine, doing Putin's bidding. And meanwhile, back here, the president is saying, talking like a thug, take her out. I mean, isn't that breathtaking? Maybe I'm wrong.
COOPER: If what he says is true, he would go to a meeting in Ukraine, he would -- the guy who later -- is now head of the Ukrainian intelligence service, he would hold up his phone, Rudy Giuliani would be on the phone on speakerphone --
BERNSTEIN: That's right.
COOPER: -- saying this guy, listen to him, because he represents me and the president, and listen to what he says because what he says is true.
COOPER: And then Lev Parnas would deliver the ultimatum. You've got to do this, announce an investigation, or else, you know, no aid.
BERNSTEIN: That's what this impeachment is about. It is all a fabric, and the fabric fits together. And that fabric is going to be, I would imagine, what this election is going to be about. And maybe the fabric will hold or maybe it will rip. But it's all of a piece.
CARPENTER: Just on a base level, we have to acknowledge that our president, the president of the United States was secretly recorded by someone that the Southern District of New York -- everyone should go Google the Department of Justice press release that was put out on these guys when they were arrested last October.
They were working for, allegedly, a Ukrainian official who wanted the ambassador gone. Who are they being paid by exactly? I don't think the public knows. And then they paid their money into the RNC, into Donald Trump's Super PAC, got a meeting and said you've got to get rid of her. And Trump got rid of her. And we have no idea who these guys were working for.
BERNSTEIN: Let me tell you the Watergate burglars have nothing on these guys and Giuliani being the --
POWERS: But there is also the fact that Trump claimed to not know this person and this person that he doesn't know allegedly is giving him this information that he trusts enough to then say --
COOPER: He was also Rudy's date to the George H.W. Bush funeral --
COOPER: -- which is also just -- again, one of those weird -- that's who Rudy brought.
POWERS: But I don't think, you know, I think we get too comfortable, maybe, with the fact that the president lies all the time that we're going to go right past the fact that he just lied about this, he said he didn't know this person, or the alternative is, if he wasn't lying, he just takes advice from random people at dinner parties and decides to fire people. I mean, those are the two options.
BERNSTEIN: And he was the president's agent in Ukraine.
JENNINGS: I find it plausible that the president has dinner with a lot of donors that he maybe recognizes, maybe he thinks he took a picture, doesn't know them well. What I find amazing about this and we've talked about this many times, this guy comes in through Rudy. The president loves Rudy Giuliani, obviously he wrote a check.
We don't know where this tape came from, I guess. But the idea that your personal lawyer brought someone to a dinner who may have said, sure, Mr. President, please, please talk a little louder into the phone here about sensitive -- even if you did want to have that conversation with that guy, the idea that your own lawyer brought that guy who tape recorded you, I just -- I would be --
CARPENTER: Talk about taking out --
JENNINGS: I would be outraged. What client of a lawyer wouldn't be like WTF?
COOPER: You also wonder how many other people have just recorded the president in Mar-a-Lago --
COOPER: -- just walking around? Why wouldn't you? Why not?
WILLIAMS: Here's the thing. We don't -- we don't know who released the tapes. He does have a huge incentive to get information out there because --
COOPER: I got to get to a break. Coming up next, will Senator Susan Collins be one of the four votes the Democrats need to get the trial witnesses they want? We'll talk to her fellow Maine senator, Angus King, what his and her constituents are saying on the subject when we continue.
COOPER: A few senators are closer to the facts of the impeachment trial. Maine independent Senator Angus King, who caucuses with Democrats and serves on the Senate Intelligence Committee. In addition, his counterpart on the main delegation is Republican Senator Susan Collins. So his insight is welcome tonight. We spoke with Senator King just before airtime.
COOPER (on camera): Senator King, I wonder how you thought the House managers presented their case. Do you think it moved the needle for the Republicans that could have been moved?
SEN. ANGUS KING (I-ME): I thought they did a very effective job. I thought Adam Schiff was right on tonight. He was very strong. Now, Anderson, I've been around enough trials to know you never make a decision until you hear both sides. So I got to qualify. I'm a juror or a judge or whatever they're calling us, but I want to hear what the White House has to say tomorrow.
But the important thing tonight, I think, that I was glad to hear Adam Schiff emphasizes is, I think and I thought for some time that Article Two, the obstruction of Congress, is actually more important and stronger than Article One because, number one, the facts are not in dispute. There's no argument about who said what to whom about Ukraine. The president just categorically stiffed the whole process.
Secondly, it creates -- if this is allowed to go, if the president is acquitted and nothing happens on this, it basically renders the impeachment clause a nullity. There's nothing left of it because if the defendant, if the accused can control the evidence that comes in, then you may as well just fold up the impeachment tent altogether. It is an important part of the checks and balances.
COOPER: You're saying that if this stands as it has been, then for any future proceedings or any future relations between the White House and Congress, a complete sort of stiff arming of Congress is a strategy that can work?
KING: Absolutely. That's what's so dangerous. The business about what happened in Ukraine is bad, but that's a single incident. The precedent of the president being able to stiff-arm the whole process will haunt us for 100 years.
I mean, we're sitting in that chamber today and they're talking about things that happened in 1867 and in 1974 and 1998. This would be just an incredibly dangerous precedent that would -- you may as well take out a pen and cross out the impeachment clause.
How can you impeach somebody if you're not allowed to get the evidence of their own wrongdoing, if they're allowed to say you can't see that evidence? That's crazy. That doesn't make any sense.
COOPER: That is hanging in the balance and that relies upon four Republican senators. Are there four Republican senators, you think, whose minds have been --
KING: Well, no. Actually, that one relies on 20 Republican senators because if they vote -- if the president is acquitted on both of these counts, then the impeachment clause is gone. I mean, then you basically established the precedent that the president -- any future president can get away with not cooperating in any way, shape or form, not allowing any of the executive branch employees to testify or not allowing any evidence.
That's at stake in the ultimate decision. The question about the trial and whether we're going to get witnesses, it only will take four. But I'm really worried about the 100-year precedent of a president that's essentially an elected monarch.
COOPER: Do you think there are four who will ask for witnesses and willing to actually side with the Democrats?
KING: I think there will be. I'm not sure. I just don't know. I just think it would be very hard to go home and say to your constituents, I didn't want to see any more facts. I didn't want to have any witnesses. The calls to my office over the last three days have been something in the neighborhood -- they told me last night 95 percent. I haven't looked at it today.
But 95 percent of the people calling my office said we ought to have witnesses. They're not saying impeach him or don't impeach him. Ninety-five percent are saying there ought to be a real trial.
COOPER: Senator Angus King, I appreciate your time. Thank you.
COOPER: We'll be right back.
[00:00:00] COOPER: Our impeachment trial coverage continues.