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Impeachment Proceedings; Romney: "Its Very Likely I'll Be In Favor Of Witness; New Audio Released; Lawyer From Trump's Legal Team Reveals New Details On Defense Strategy. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired January 25, 2020 - 20:00   ET


ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: And our coverage of the Impeachment Trial of President Trump continues now with Anderson.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening at the end of a working Saturday of the Impeachment Trial of President Trump. Day one of the president's defense. And, in a moment, we'll hear what one advocate for the president, who is yet to speak, will tell the Senate.

As for today, as work day's go, was, by design, a short one. About two hours from start to finish this morning. Lawyers for the defense with White House counsel, Pat Cipollone, leading the charge, arguing that Democrats have failed to meet the burden of proof for removing a president from office. He also accused the House managers of trying to overturn the last election and derail the next.


PAT CIPOLLONE, WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL: They're asking you to tear up all of the ballots across this country on your own initiative. Take that decision away from the American people. They're here to perpetrate the most massive interference in an election in American history, and we can't allow that to happen.


COOPER: Well, the president, he said, did nothing wrong, including in the call with Ukraine's president, which, the president says, was perfect, in which Cipollone's deputy described this way.


MICHAEL PURPURA, DEPUTY COUNSEL TO THE PRESIDENT: The transcript shows that the president did not condition either security assistance or a meeting on anything. The paused security assistance funds aren't even mentioned on the call.


COOPER: Well, the defense also argued that the president was legitimately interested in fighting corruption in Ukraine, though there's little evidence to support that. Apart from his interest in the Bidens, who were barely mentioned in this morning's presentation.

As to the question of when or whether that may change, a source on the legal team declined to say. Also up in the air, whether there'll be new testimony.

Republican Senator Mitt Romney, today, said he's, quote, "very likely to vote to call witnesses." But the three other Republicans who joined him, though, is anybody's guess. What does seem clear is that the client is happy. A Republican source telling us, quote, "The president felt like his defense team made a compelling case, based on facts, and was extremely pleased with the team's presentation."

Perspective now on the day that was and on his plans for his time before the Senate, Harvard Law School Professor Alan Dershowitz. He's written a new introduction to a new addition to the Constitution, "The Declaration of Independence." Also with us tonight, CNN Chief Legal Analyst, Jeffrey Toobin.

Professor Dershowitz, White House Counsel, Pat Cipollone argued today that impeachment was nothing more than an effort to overturn the election, saying, and I quote, "They're asking you to tear up all the ballots all across the country on your own initiative, take that decision away from the American people."

The pushback on that is, and as a constitutional lawyer, I want to get your opinion, the process we're witnessing, isn't this what the framers intended? And it's not about tearing up ballots or taking voters' decisions away. And, in fact, there are -- impeachment is different than disqualification from running again. That's a separate thing.

ALAN DERSHOWITZ, PROFESSOR, HARVARD LAW SCHOOL, TRUMP IMPEACHMENT ATTORNEY: What I'm going to argue on Monday is that it's precisely what the framers did not intend. That is to remove a dually elected president from office and prevent him from running again, based on vague, open-ended, and entirely subjective criteria, like abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. The framers feared that those kinds of open-ended criteria would turn us into a British-type parliamentary democracy, where the words of Madison, the president serves at the pleasure of the legislature.

COOPER: Jeff, let me ask you, the White House counsel, today, was saying, there are no first-hand witness accounts, talking about how important cross-examination is, claiming this the whole thing is about perpetrating the most massive interference in American history. Yet, the idea that there's no first-hand accounts, I mean, that is true. Gordon Sondland said he believed the president, you know, knew -- well, wanted a quid pro quo and was dangling, you know, one thing for the other.

I guess the flip side of that is there are no first-hand accounts, because the people who might have first-hand accounts are not allowed to testify.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: Well, that's just -- that's just true. I mean, you know, the position of the -- of the defense lawyers that you don't -- that you have to penalize the House managers for not getting the testimony of John Bolton and Mulvaney, I mean, that rewards the conduct that is the subject of Article Two in that -- in the counts of impeachment. COOPER: But that -- Professor Dershowitz, we didn't hear a lot about

Vice President Biden today, really nothing from the president's attorneys. On Monday, it's expected to be a large part of the presentation, certainly Monday or Tuesday. How, exactly, do you believe it's relevant here, and is that some --


COOPER: -- I -- it's not -- I assume it's not part of your brief. Because it's not -- I don't think it's a -- the constitutional issue that you're going to be focusing on. But do you think that should be brought in?

DERSHOWITZ: Well, I don't think, necessarily, any witnesses, at this point, should be brought in, because I think they don't charge impeachable offenses. But if any witnesses are brought in, witnesses have to be called on both sides. There's a very broad concept of irrelevance.

And the president's lawyers would probably argue, look, the president honestly believed that there was corruption in the failure to prosecute this young man. I'm not taking a position on that. But that it was relevant that they should have, therefore, having an investigation of that why he wasn't prosecuted. Why he wasn't investigated. Whether it's a good argument or a bad argument, that's for the senators to decide.

COOPER: You're going on Monday? Is that -- you had said that.

DERSHOWITZ: I'm going on Monday, yes. Yes.

COOPER: And do you know how long you're going to be presenting for?

DERSHOWITZ: Less than an hour, hopefully. I'm trying to cut it down. I'm following the Abraham Lincoln notion. If I had more time, I would have written a shorter letter. So, I am trying very hard. I've been spending the last two weeks in dusty books going back to all the original books of the Constitution, the trial of Andrew Johnson. And, now, I've taken my head out of the books and I'm revising and trying to shorten it.

TOOBIN: What -- when is Ken Starr going?

DERSHOWITZ: I don't know.

TOOBIN: And how does his -- how do -- how do his -- what's his subject different from your subject?

DERSHOWITZ: We haven't discussed that. I don't know. I'll probably find that out sometime tomorrow. But I know what I'm going to argue. I think they know what I'm going to argue. I'm going to argue some things that I haven't argued to you or on television. There will be some surprises. But the general outlines of my argument are fairly clear and they don't focus so much on whether a crime is required.

They focus much more on whether you can use the two criteria, abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. And I'm going to argue very firmly that those are not appropriate criteria. If they had ever been put to the framers, the framers would have rejected those criteria as two open-ended, in the terms of Madison. It would turn America into a parliamentary-type democracy in which the president serves at the pleasure of the legislature. Something that none of the framers really wanted.

COOPER: Professor Dershowitz, just, sort of, more of a logistical question. How closely are you in contact with the president's legal team? Because you're in a, kind of, unique position. You're not really -- as you said, you're not really part of the -- you know, the legal -- the meetings about strategy writ large. You're focused on this constitutional issue. Is it something like, do they know what you're going to be arguing everything in advance? Is there -- do they just say, OK, you have however much time you need? How does that work?

DERSHOWITZ: I haven't shown them my draft. If they ask me, of course, I will. I've been working just very, very hard to produce a kind of neutral, nonpartisan objective academic. I know people say that that's not my job. But I think effective advocacy is most effective when it's nonpartisan and neutral. And I've been working along those lines.

I'm sure I'll coordinate with them about timing and making sure there's no duplication. But it's a role I've played in many cases. I've come in and argued just the constitutional issue. Most recently in the takings (ph) case, involving a large corporate matter. And they just asked me to argue the constitutional issues so I did. I coordinated lightly with the team, but they gave me a lot of authority and independence to make the takings argument.

COOPER: Final question. Just for -- it's more of a personal question, really. When you do something like this, who is your client? I mean, is it -- who are you speaking to? Is it you're speaking to the president? Is it you are you speaking to the Republican senators? The Democratic senators? Or to the television audience? I mean, is it --

DERSHOWITZ: Well, they're (INAUDIBLE) questions.

COOPER: -- do you think about that?

DERSHOWITZ: Of course. Of course. You can't be an effective advocate without knowing who your audience is. And my audience is the Senate. I will speak respectfully to the Senate. I will use Senate precedence. And I'll be arguing like I argue in a court.

The big difference is, in courts, I'm always interrupted and I have an opportunity to be spontaneous. Here, there are no interruptions, no objections. So, I will speak for whatever it is, 45 minutes straight. I've never done that before. And it will be a unique experience for me to be uninterrupted.

And, you know, after being interrupted by you guys a little bit, maybe that'll be a relief. So, we'll see. Although, I have to tell you, I prefer being interrupted, even by you, because it's, A, it gives me a chance to really respond and be spontaneous.

TOOBIN: And, Alan, you're usually an appellate lawyer, so you're usually arguing to judges.

DERSHOWITZ: That's right.

TOOBIN: Not to -- not to juries. And the fact that judges ask questions, I mean, that's a huge advantage to you, usually, --

DERSHOWITZ: I agree with you.

TOOBIN: -- because you need -- you know what they care about and what they don't care about.

DERSHOWITZ: I agree with you.

TOOBIN: How will you -- how will you know what the senators -- you know, what the -- what grabs them? Or will you?

DERSHOWITZ: It's very -- it's going to be very hard. And I always look forward to hard questions.


I've said, in 55 years of arguing 250 appeals, I've never been asked a question that I wasn't prepared for. That doesn't always mean I didn't always give the right answer. But I'm always prepared for the question. And that's why I'm looking forward to the Q and A period, when we get these questions from the senators.

COOPER: Will you take part in that?

DERSHOWITZ: And there's -- I hope so. I would like to. There's a lot of spontaneity involved there, and I'd like to play a role in that.

COOPER: It's going to be fascinating. Professor Dershowitz, thank you. Jeffrey Toobin as well.

DERSHOWITZ: Thank you.

COOPER: More of the breaking news shortly. We'll also take you to the White House for a live report on strategy there.

Later, my interview with the attorney for Lev Parnas, a man President Trump says he does not know. A new released tape suggests that for about 80 minutes during a private dinner he at least engaged with Lev Parnas directly.


COOPER: Before the break, we got a preview from Alan Dershowitz, himself, and what he plans to tell the Senate on Monday, when he addresses the body. You also heard him say he has yet to fully coordinate his remarks with the rest of the defense team.


We're going to talk more now on strategy in a larger sense. And, of course, the president's reaction to day one of his defense. CNN's Kaitlan Collins joins us now from the White House. Have we heard much? Do we know how the president thinks his legal team did today?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, we've talked to several sources who say the president is pleased. He liked how today went. He was praising it. He was encouraging people to watch it. And we know that he and the vice president, both, watched it very closely today.

But, of course, the question, as it pretty much always does with Trump, comes down to coverage. So, it'll be really interesting to see what his reaction is, to check in with him in about 24 hours from now, after those Sunday political talk shows have happened. Because that's, really, when the president is going to be watching. Of course, you're going to see those hosts compare how the Democrats laid out their arguments and close to 24 hours compared to these two hours from the president's legal team.

But, right now, the president's legal team does say they feel really good about today went, and they're looking forward to how Monday is going to go.

COOPER: So, Alan Dershowitz said he's talking Monday. Do we know what the White House's plan for laying out their argument is?

COLLINS: Yes. The question is still how long they're going to go for on Monday, because they've kind of been previewing they don't think that they need a lot of time to lay out their argument. And you're not just going to see the people that you saw today. The counsel's office, Jay Sekulow, the outside attorney, but also Alan Dershowitz and Ken Starr.

And so, it'll be really interesting to see how they flow. Because the Democrats had worked on their presentations for a month now, since they had voted to impeach the president, and until Nancy Pelosi transmitted these Articles of Impeachment. So, they've been working careful on those drafts.

And the president's legal team has been working, of course, behind the scenes, Cipollone and Jay Sekulow. But Alan Dershowitz made pretty clear they have not been coordinating with each other. He doesn't even know what argument Ken Starr is going to be making, he said. So, it'll be interesting to see how that floats next to each other; Pat Cipollone, Jay Sekulow, Alan Dershowitz, Ken Starr.

Because they're all expected to present on Monday. Right now, based on our reporting, they are not expected to go until Tuesday. So, it will be really interesting to see how that plays out, if it's coordinated together. And, of course, if they're going to be bringing up the Bidens, because they've previewed that they were going to, they didn't do so today. But we are being told, by sources, it's likely going to come up as -- before they, essentially, rest their case.

COOPER: Kaitlan Collins, thanks very much, from the White House. Appreciate it.

We want to get our legal team's take on it all. David Gergen is with us, Jeff Toobin. Also with us, Bianna Golodryga, Kristen Powers, and Alice Stewart.

Jeff, again, the Republicans have said, you know, well, the Democrats opened the door on the Bidens, so, you know, now we -- now, it's fair game.

TOOBIN: Yes, as if they weren't going to go after Biden until, you know, Adam Schiff said a mean thing. I mean, come on. The -- you know, look, this is a political trial, appropriately. I mean, this is a jury of senators. It's not a -- it's not a criminal trial. And there will be political arguments made. And the -- this is an opportunity for the president to embarrass the person who may be the Democratic nominee, and he's going to take that opportunity.

COOPER: David, what did you think about how today went?

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: I thought the defense team was more effective than I expected. You know, they -- in their past context, and when they sent papers up. They've been sending letters up to the Hill. They've been screening (ph). They've been political documents.

And this -- I -- and I have a sense, maybe, the president had a big hand in writing those and here is what I want in that paper. Here, the lawyers seam seemed to do it on their own. And I thought they were more -- they sounded more like lawyers and less like propagandas, which I thought worked in their favor.

That's not to say that the substance of what they -- by going after the substance, they clearly left themselves wide open to some counterattacks. They clearly misstated things or had misleading things. You know, their emphasis early on about the phone call, as if that's the only standard or measurement we should have about the president's action, when there's all these things going on around him which suggests that.

And I think there were other examples like that. But, overall, I thought they also were smart in reducing the time. These senators are retired. You know, they didn't want to sit there. And I think that -- I thought Adam Schiff asked -- I thought he was terrific in appealing to the public. He made very logical arguments. But he ticked these guys off a couple times.


GERGEN: And I'm not sure that helped him very much.

TOOBIN: And the demo -- the Republicans -- Trump's winning. I mean, Trump's winning here. He's winning on the -- he's winning on impeachment. He's winning on witnesses. So, one of the rules in a courtroom is when you're winning is sit the hell down.


TOOBIN: Don't talk. And I think that they wisely followed that advice. GOLODRYGA: His lawyers were effective, I think, in planting the seed

of doubt as to what the president's motives were. They constantly went back to the phone call, the conversation. And not only from the president, but also from Zelensky.

And Zelensky even raising the suggestion that there needed to be more burden sharing. That he wasn't getting enough from European countries. And, once again, they default back to the, he felt no pressure. And, thus, this was all about going after corruption. They, eventually, did get the money. But that doesn't mean that they completely dismissed the notion for witnesses or documents.


In fact, I think if you do plant the seed of question as to whether or not the president was guilty, the only way you resolve it is to have witnesses, is to have more documents.

And then, you go back to why Zelensky may have been saying the things he did on the phone call. Clearly, the country needed help. They needed the aid. They needed the money. They are in a hot war with Russia. Zelensky was well versed enough to know what the president was focused on and what the president wanted to talk about. So, instead of saying, no, we get enough money from Germany. You're wrong, of course he went along with it.

COOPER: Yes, I mean, that's one of the things that the Democrats tried to say, right, immediately after the White House counsel stopped speaking today. Was that -- essentially, that the White House counsel had made a good argument for calling in more witnesses. Because they kept pointing out, there are no eye-witness accounts of the president actually doing a quid pro quo.

KIRSTEN POWERS, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: And that they haven't met their stand -- the, you know, standard for the burden of proof. And so, you have to -- you know, the Democrats are, like, OK. Well, let's get some people in here who actually have firsthand knowledge.

And I think that what they did was they started out, you know, saying that the Democrats only present -- you know, presented selective evidence. And then, they went on and just presented selective evidence. I mean, that's really what they did. They -- and I would say, now, they went for a short period of time.

And I take the point that when you're winning, you sit down. I also think that they couldn't fill up the time if they needed to. Because if they try to fill up their time, they don't have much of a defense. And so, what they're doing is they're giving the Republicans, like, the fig leaf that they need so that they can feel like -- they can feel good about what they're doing. But they're just leaving out tons of information.

And so, when they're talking -- you know, just all the talking points about the president was so concerned about corruption. And, yet, the only corruption he was worried about was Joe Biden and nothing else. Right? Even the burden-sharing thing doesn't even make sense. So, you're going to cut off aid from a country, after we've heard from Republicans how wonderful Trump has been to Ukraine. How much more he cares about it than Obama. And, yet, he's going to cut off aid to them because another country's not giving them enough money? Like, that doesn't even make sense. Right? So, they're just making a bunch of nonsensible arguments.

But I think -- and even on the Zelensky point, which they continue to say that, you know, Zelensky said I wasn't being blackmailed. Well, of course, he's not going to say that because he needs the money and we have sworn testimony saying that, in fact, the DOD and the State did hear from Ukraine that they were concerned.

ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: The reality is that the reason they're not taking as much time is the burden of proof is on Democrats to prove that the president is guilty of these issues that are worthy of impeachment which I don't think they have. The fact that they are still wanting more witnesses goes to show they don't have a case to seek impeachment.

Even Preet Bharara, who is not a huge fan of this president, said earlier on CNN that the Democrats have a problem. If they say they have such an overwhelming and compelling case, why do they need more witnesses? Why do they need more information?

And what we're going to see is we're going to see quality arguments out of the White House counsel over quantity. They don't need to put a lot of information out there, because they made two strong points today. That the Democrats have not proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that these actions are worthy of impeachment.

And also, in terms of the political argument that Jeffrey mentioned. This is the Democrats' effort that they have done from the moment that the president was nominated to overturn the results of the election. And that's the political nature of this is that the Democrats don't have a case for impeachment, when the reality is their motive is to overturn the election.

COOPER: We're going to have more on this. We're going to take -- we're going to cover a lot about what happened today. What to expect next week. Also, my interview with the attorney for Lev Parnas, after the release of a tape that puts President Trump and Parnas in the same room together for more than 80 minutes. This was about more than a year before the Zelensky call. We'll be right back.



COOPER: According to the Biden question, not a lot of mystery about where the president's defense team would go today, nor how the president would respond. One big question, however, remains about this trial, of that of witnesses, which Bianna Golodryga brought up before the break.

Back now with our legal and political team. Obviously, I mean, the major question is, will there be new witnesses? Will there be new documents? It does not seem like it's moving in that direction, though Mitt Romney has come forward, saying he's inclined to ask for more witnesses.

TOOBIN: Just to give you an example of why I think less is better, from the defense team. There was, actually, a very interesting, and I thought thoughtful, presentation by one of the president's lawyers on the issue of whether President Zelensky knew that -- when aid was cut off. The issue of the timing which is a fairly important issue in the case. It's not a make or break.

But the more you create a controversy about that, the more you have to respond, what do the emails show? I mean, that issue is something that, clearly, there would be email traffic about. I mean, in fact, every time there is a factual dispute raised by the defense, you know, in the white-collar world, in the world of white-collar crime, investigations begin with documents.

COOPER: You don't actually even interview witnesses until you have all the documents.

TOOBIN: You -- as a prosecutor, you certainly don't want to. Because that's the -- that's the raw material of every white-collar crime investigation. And the fact that they've gotten as far as they have with no emails is fairly remarkable. But the more the defense acknowledges that there are factual disputes, well, it's, like, let's see what the documents show.

GOLODRYGA: And what stood out to me today was contrasting what the president's defense team was trying to do by saying all of this was normal. There was nothing abnormal about what transpired. And if you go back and you listen to the testimony from the fact witnesses, nearly every single one of them said that this was not normal.


Nothing was normal from the Defense Department official, from former ambassadors and Diplomats in Ukraine who had spent decades in these positions, all of them said that they have never seen anything like this. And which begs the question of why don't we hear from more witnesses.

STEWART: But the reality is the question of whether or not Ukraine felt pressure on the call, whether or not, they knew the assistance was being withheld, all of these were questions that came up during the House impeachment procedures, why weren't these questions answered then? How could they go about vote for an impeachment moving forward on this if these questions were not answered at this point?

COOPER: But they were pretty much answered. I mean, whether they felt pressure...

POWERS: They're sworn testimony and people saying this. The other thing is, you know, John Bolton, sends the House has said that if he subpoenaed, he'll come and testify. So that's something that actually didn't happen when the House impeached him. So why not have John Bolton come up who may have -- you know, may have some first-hand knowledge for all we know?

I mean, he's somebody who is, you know, obviously very involved in everything. So I think at a minimum, they could have John Bolton testify.

STEWART: And they could have subpoenaed him during the House procedure as well.

POWERS: But he had already indicated that he wasn't going to respond to that. Now he's said he will testify and respond to a subpoena from the Senate, so why not have him come and testify if everybody's so interested in...

GOLODRYGA: And we got a report from the GAO that, in fact, the president did break the law. And, obviously we know that they're nonpartisan and they said they did break the law, this following the fact that the president was actually impeached, so he continued to subsequently get more information.

COOPER: David?

GERGEN: I have a sense, Anderson, this is going South in terms of getting witnesses and documents. In part, because the chemistry that's involved here that these senators, the Republican senators feel that they somehow insulted in all of this process, that they've been attacked unfairly, they had the pikes, you know, their heads on a pike and they overreacted to that.

But it really told at us the psychology within that Republican group is moving in the direction of saying, we've heard enough, Americans heard enough, and very, very importantly, what the defense team is doing, what Dershowitz is going to do is give them some arguments they can take home, especially in the states that are purple when senators are up for re-election.

They're going to come out of this now with some nuggets that they can use, some things that'll be familiar to them. And they're feeling comfortable, I think. Even though I think it's become clearer than ever that the amount of document we have and the number of witnesses totally insufficient for understanding the truth...

TOOBIN: But isn't the real reason that they are just stooges who are afraid of Donald Trump --

GERGEN: I think --

ANDERSON: What's so interesting about it is the anger over the pikes on heads comment which was reported by CBS. That is -- that's something the White House had been telling some Republican senators that like if you deviate, your pike -- your head will be on a pike. What's so interesting to me about that is that, apparently, they were annoyed because it seems to indicate that they're afraid of Donald Trump. Well, they are.

TOOBIN: That's the point. And that's the point. That's -- you know, that's what the pikes on head -- or heads on those pike metaphor is all about is that they're terrified of Donald Trump.

COOPER: Technically, the pike is also on the head.

TOOBIN: I'm not sure what a pike is. A spike? Is it a pike or a spike?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Not a good village.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's not a good village.


POWERS: But I mean, I think -- though you think though that they're just doing that also to give themselves an excuse? They're trying to act like, oh, you know, we're being insulted, we're being accused of things.

GOLODRYGA: We're trying to be objective here.

POWERS: Nadler accused us of a cover-up and so the way we're going to prove that, I guess, is to do a cover-up? I mean, that's sort of a strange response.

COOPER: I got to go a quick break and we'll have more on this. We just had new audio and video of President Trump at a gathering with Lev Parnas, we'll play that for you, and talk to Parnas' attorney.



COOPER: Earlier today, Lev Parnas and his attorney released the full video audio and video from an April 20, 2018 Donor dinner, a tape previously we only had clips of. Among the attendees at this dinner with President Trump or Parnas and Igor Fruman, months before they became involved with Rudy Giuliani in the campaign, if you recall Ukraine ambassador, Marie Yovanovitch.

Now, the president said he doesn't know the two men, something Parnas contradicted on this show when he discussed details of this encounter.

Now, the recording released today, well, a bit shaky, clearly shows the president entering a room. On the tape, which we'll play in a moment, you hear his voice and that of Parnas, Fruman and about a dozen others, mostly fundraisers. Much of the approximately 80-minute tape involves discussions with topics including North Korea and the upcoming congressional elections.

But during a conversation about energy policy and Vladimir Putin, Parnas mentions Ukraine. It's at that point they discussed Ambassador Yovanovitch.


LEV PARNAS, RUDY GIULIANI ASSOCIATE: The biggest problem there, I think where we -- where you need to start is we got to get rid of the ambassador. It's -- she's still left over from the Clinton administration.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Where -- the ambassador of Ukraine?

PARNAS: Yes. And she's basically walking around telling everybody wait, he's going to get impeached. Just wait. It's incredible.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She'll be gone tomorrow.

PARNAS: Yes, well...

TRUMP: What's her name?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't remember the name.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So one of the things that will now that we have a Secretary of State that's been sworn in...

TRUMP: Get rid of her. Get her out tomorrow. I don't care. Get her out tomorrow. Take her out. OK? Do it.


COOPER: I spoke with Lev Parnas' attorney, Joseph Bondy.


COOPER: I want to ask you about some of the stuff that's on these recordings. At one point, the president asks Lev Parnas about the former president of Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko, and I just want to play this.

TRUMP: Do they feel they're going to be OK?

PARNAS: They feel they're going to be OK if you support them, yes.

TRUMP: What do you think about their leader?

PARNAS: Poroshenko is a good guy. He's a -- he wants the right thing for them. I mean...

TRUMP: It's always us that has to support everybody.

PARNAS: Well, the biggest problem is corruption there.

TRUMP: Why isn't the Germany supporting it?

COOPER: It's interesting though. I think it's Lev Parnas who says that the biggest problem is corruption. The president kind of brushes by that and seems to focus more on Germany not doing more, which sort of runs counter to what his supporters say which is he was very concerned about corruption, number one.

[20:40:06] JOSEPH BONDY, ATTORNEY OF LEV PARNAS: I think that snippet is consistent with what the president has said for a long time which is that other countries don't pull their weight and the United States is paying a lot of money, whether it's South Korea or Germany.

COOPER: What was the -- do you know the reason why Igor Fruman made these recordings?

BONDY: I don't know why he made the recordings. Some people make recordings. They like to take pictures. I can't ascribe any kind of motive beyond that.

COOPER: But he sent recordings to Lev Parnas?


COOPER: And do you know are there more recordings that Lev Parnas has?


COOPER: With the president?


COOPER: And -- do you plan to release those?

BONDY: Perhaps. We've sent recordings to the House intelligence committee also. This seems to be the recording that certainly addresses the issue of the ambassador and we thought it was really important to get that recording out in public today.

COOPER: To you, what is the significance of these recordings?

BONDY: I think there's a few aspects that are important. First off, we hear the president himself saying get rid of the ambassador. He's got to fire her, get her out of there. And this is one of the first occasions in which he attempts to remove the ambassador.

Lev Parnas, as he -- has explained it to me was shocked that he might raise this subject of the ambassador and have the chief executive say get rid of her and fire her. He could never possibly have expected that the president would literally take that step.

COOPER: It's also interesting because Lev Parnas in the interview where -- in the talk that we had, he was saying he actually really didn't really know anything about the ambassador or -- he had just been told and kind of revved up by other people who were saying, oh, she's bad mouthing the president and he conveyed that message in this recording, just as he said he did to President Trump, and that's when President Trump said, take her out.

BONDY: Yes. I think there's even a snippet of the recording where Lev indicates he doesn't even know her name.

COOPER: In this one, the president is talking about the thread on the ground. And let's just listen to it. TRUMP: How long would they last in a fight with Russia?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't think very long.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: About 30 seconds.

PARNAS: Without us, not very long.

TRUMP: How is Ukraine feeling about it all right now?

PARNAS: They're actually very much appreciate everything you're doing.

COOPER: Did it seem clear to you that the president had a deep knowledge of Ukraine? Do you think he was just making conversation with people he's stuck at a dinner with?

BONDY: I wonder. I like to believe he's been briefed on Ukraine by his advisers. I'd like to think he has some understanding of Ukraine. But what this aspect of the tape shows is that it was already on his mind that Ukraine was vulnerable without military aid from the United States.

But then you have to remember that at some point in, again, beginning 2019 Lev delivers a Poroshenko quid pro quo. You won't get a White House visit unless you announce an anti-corruption campaign with the Bidens.

COOPER: It's still fascinating to me. I've been thinking a lot about what Parnas said that the fact that he was the guy and Igor Fruman, according to Lev Parnas, were the people on the ground in Ukraine and they would literally go to a meeting with the former president, with the man who would ultimately is now heading the intelligence services in Ukraine under Zelensky, and hold up a phone and Rudy Giuliani would be on speaker phone saying, listen to these guys, they represent us. They represent the president, they represent me, you know, they were -- listen to what they have to say, what they're going to tell you.

BONDY: It's not conventional. You wouldn't expect diplomacy to be conducted that way. And I can kind of wonder if there's some reason to have Igor and Lev doing that bidding.

COOPER: I mean, it makes no -- if it's actually in the national security interest, it makes no sense that it's these two guys.

BONDY: Guys with no security clearance and no diplomacy expertise and who have no background in politics, it makes no sense.

COOPER: Yes. Can you say if Parnas and Fruman gave donations to other, you know, GOP senators to congress people? I know from the public record he gave donations to sort of joint fundraising committees that could then be distributed to a number of candidates.


COOPER: Did he also give directly?

BONDY: I think it was more -- there was some direct donations, small direct donations, but really were larger donations to Super PACs that can unbundle those donations and give them to the GOP candidates that they believe most needed them.

COOPER: At the time of these recordings were made, had Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman already begun working with Giuliani or was this before that began?

BONDY: They -- Mr. Parnas had met Mr. Giuliani. He did not have much of a relationship with Mr. Giuliani.


COOPER: So he hadn't -- at this point, paid Giuliani the half a million to be involved in the other business that he had?

BONDY: I don't believe that the payment was before this dinner. He had met him in 2016 in Florida at a fundraiser. They've seen each other at the inauguration at on other Republican events.

But thereafter, you see Lev and Mr. Giuliani traveling to the various candidates, campaigns for purposes of the midterm election.

COOPER: So at the time this was made, they're sitting at that table not because Giuliani has brought them there. They're sitting at that table because they donated and got seats at this private event at the president's hotel?

BONDY: Exactly.

COOPER: What do you -- what is he looking at now?

BONDY: I'd like to think that there will be still a vote in the Senate for there to be witnesses and evidence. It will be awful for me. I can't imagine there being a trial without those things. It would literally be like a silent movie or a puppet show that I'd like to think that we still, while we have a couple days, can push that movement and effect change.

COOPER: Joseph Bondy, appreciate it. Thank you very much.

BONDY: Thank you.


COOPER: Next, more on new details the White House strategy for Monday and how the impeachment trial unfolds from here.



COOPER: The impeachment trial of President Trump will be back in session on Monday. Alan Dershowitz who we talked about -- talked to at the top of the program, will be part of it as well Ken Starr, although we don't know exactly what overlap there might be.

Jeff, I'm wondering, you know, looking to Monday, what do you expect? I know when you and I were on the air this morning before the defense began today, there was a lot of expectation that they would go after the Bidens today. They didn't do that. Do you have any doubt they'll do that Monday?

TOOBIN: You know, I still believe that Donald Trump will not pass up the opportunity to say that the Biden family was enmeshed in corruption. I just think that is a politically priceless opportunity. And many senators, you know, of the president's supporters have raised that issue.

So, I expect we'll hear that. There will also be these constitutional issues. I mean, Alan Dershowitz told us, this was news, that he will be speaking on Monday. And that is an argument that is both good for the substantive issue of whether the president should be impeached, but it's also a good argument on witnesses.

Because if you believe with Alan that this is not an impeachable offense, it doesn't matter if there's proof of it or not. So, I actually think...

COOPER: It's also interesting he said that he's not coordinating with Ken Starr or with the -- really the White House team.

TOOBIN: You know, I have worked with other lawyers on cases. It is customary for the lawyers to coordinate with each other. And especially in something with stakes like this. You certainly -- first of all, you don't want to be overly repetitive. But also, you know, the lawyer in charge wants to make sure that everything said is consistent with what the client wants. And there are still are a few days away, but -- not meant, I guess one day away.

And I would be surprised if there wasn't at least some coordination first. But it's a little late in the game for that.

COOPER: Do you think, David, it would be a mistake for the White House seem not to use all its allotted time?

GERGEN: I think it'd be a mistake for the White House team to go 24 hours. I think that'd be a serious...

COOPER: There's no need for them to.

GERGEN: I think the point you all made about -- because I think Kirsten, you made the point, there's not enough to say to fill this 24 hours. And I think they also learned the lesson, 24 hours -- in days gone by, you can live with some 24 hours. But we live in a world today where everything is short and quick and 24 hours seems like a long time. But it almost seems like an obsolete concept that go 24 hours. I would think...

COOPER: (INAUDIBLE) feels like a long time. And I do an hour-long show, so. STEWART: It's not as much they don't have anything more to say, but they have said what they wanted to say. I think we're going to see more of what we heard today, the two main points, the Democrats have not made the case for impeachment and the fact that they're going to show once again that this is a political ploy by the Democrats to overturn the election.

COOPER: But they're not going to be going point like the Democrats went, you know, point by point, then Gordon Sondland did this. They're not going to be replaying all those and saying what Sondland really was doing was...

STEWART: Well, and we saw Sekulow today making that point. I'm not going to repeat what you've already seen. I'm not going to repeat videos that we've already heard before because they're going to get the information out there.

And from that standpoint, they know who they're speaking to. They're speaking to Republicans in the Senate. And many of them have already made up their mind and made it clear how they're going to vote on this. But at the end of the day, they feel like all they have to do is make the case that the Democrats have not proven this to the extent where it's worthy of impeachment.

POWERS: Now, there was one point where I think the lawyers and I forgot who it was but it was within the first 15 minutes of their testimony in speaking today, was when they set the bar, I think, too high as far as expectations because they said, what you're going to come away with is knowing and being reminded that the president was very, very tough on Russia and that the president always put himself first.

And those are two points that are very difficult to make and objectively, you know, at the very least dubious.

COOPER: I've got to get a break. But you're not just having it anymore. I just think that that look is amazing. I can't even get to what he wanted to say because we're out of time.

We're breaking news on the other thing that quite a few senators are busy with, campaigning in Iowa, big -- new endorsement just out. We'll tell you about it.



COOPER: Before we go, tonight, some breaking news in the 2020 presidential race. With a little over a week before the first votes are cast in the Iowa caucuses, the Des Moines register editorial board has endorsed Massachusetts senator, Elizabeth Warren, for president.

In its editorial, the newspaper said Senator Warren will, quote, push an unequal America in the right direction. Certainly a high-profile endorsement comes just days after in a break with tradition. The New York Times endorsed both Senator Warren and Minnesota senator, Amy Klobuchar.

That's it for us right now. The news continues. I want to head over to Chris for Cuomo Prime Time. Chris?

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: All right. Anderson, thank very much.

I am Chris Cuomo, welcome to a special Saturday edition of "PRIME TIME."