tv Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer CNN December 2, 2019 3:00pm-4:00pm PST
approximate. happening now, breaking news, reviewing the report. the house is moving closer to impeaching president trump this hour as a key committee reports on the investigation. we're learning about crucial witnesses in the days head. republicans and democrats aren't waiting for the democrats' report to reject it. they have written a rebuttal declaring mr. trump not guilty. no proof of call?
insisting there was no quid pro quo in his dealings with ukraine. did it really happen? willing to cooperate. one of rudy guilliani's indicted associates is offering to help impeachment investigators as we're learning about electronic equipment connected to the ukraine scandal. is the president's personal lawyer in greater legal peril tonight. we want to welcome our viewers to the united states and around the world. i'm wolf blitzer. you're in the "situation room." we're following breaking news right now. house intelligence members are starting to review the panel's report on the trump impeachment investigation. we're standing by to learn more about the findings and recommendations for moving forward. this is a very very busy high stakes week as the process moves to the judiciary committee.
that panel just released a list of witnesses for its first impeachment panel wednesday. the white house is refusing to participate in that hearing. republicans are already rushing to the president's defense with a new report claiming democrats have not proven mr. trump abused his power. public reaction from republican congressman. our reporters are standing by. first, the house intel committee starting to review its impeachment report. what are you learning? >> reporter: this is the first opportunity, wolf, republicans and democrats will have to review that report, basically laying out the basis for potential articles of impeachment. this report could stretch hundreds of pages long, wolf, and we will know tomorrow what exactly is inside of it. tomorrow, the house intelligence committee is expected to vote likely along party lines to release it to the house
judiciary committee. that comes one day before the judiciary committee has its first hearing with four constitutional law experts where they will go over exactly what the basis for impeachment would be. i can tell you tomorrow, sources are telling me the house judiciary democrats are going to hold a mock hearing basically to prepare exactly how to run their hearing on wednesday. this is an important factor because democrats feel like they are coming off the momentum after a couple of weeks of blockbuster weeks in the house intelligence committee and want to keep that going in the house judiciary committee, but the presidents's lawyers saying they will not participate wednesday. we will know by friday whether or not the white house will participate in the rest of the judiciary's proceedings. >> republicans have just released their own report. how are they defending the president? >> reporter: essentially, wolf, they're saying the president has done absolutely nothing wrong. a few highlights, arguing the
phone call between president trump and president zelensky is fine and nothing inappropriate about the call and also saying the president was right to be skeptical of ukraine and corruption arguing this is a country with a history of corruption and therefore it's in the president's full rights to not release that nearly $400 million in u.s. military aid unless he was really sure everything they were doing would help combat corruption. those are a few highlights. they're also saying the president was right to be concerned about hunter biden's involvement in that country. those are a few highlights. basically, republicans coming out swinging before that public house intelligence committee from the democrats is released tomorrow. wolf. >> lots of swinging going on, no doubt about that. thanks very much, lauren fox, with that as democrats are pushing for impeachment this hour. president trump has arrived in london for a nato leaders' meeting. jim acosta live.
overseas now but the president remains focused on what's happening in the impeachment inquiry? >> reporter: that's right. right now the white house is saying, no way the president and his lawyers will not be participating for the next impeachment hearing set for wednesday and the white house officials saying they are ruling it in the house and saying democrats are nowhere meeting their demands for white house involvement in these proceedings in the house, the praesident slamming the process calling it a hoax as he was arriving for nato meetings. the president will be spending the week meeting with leaders and latching onto comments by ukraine saying those comments really exonerate him in this impeachment process, but that's not really the case. with the clouds of impeachment hanging over his every move, president trump all but accused democrats of sabotage as he's set to sit down with nato leaders in london.
>> the radical left democrats, do-nothing democrats decided when i'm going to nato, this was set up a year ago, when i'm going to nato, that was the exact time, this is one of the most important journeys we make as president. the whole thing is a hoax and everybody knows it. >> reporter: scrambling for a headline that will help him he seized on comments made by ukraine about their infamous july 25th phone call. >> if you noticed, there was breaking news today, the ukrainian president came out and said very strongly president trump did absolutely nothing wrong. that should be case over. he just came out a little while ago and said president trump did absolutely nothing wrong, and that should end everything. >> reporter: that's not quite what the ukrainian president said as he said to "time" magazine he complained president trump wasn't exactly treating him like a true ally holding up aid to his country. said, i never talked to the president from a position of a
quid pro quo. i don't want us to look like beggars. you have to understand. we're at war. if you're our strategic partner you can't go blocking anything for us. i think that's about fairness. the president will be in london for nato meetings and won't be participating in the latest impeachment hearings and house judiciary meetings wednesday. he told jerry nadler we do not intend to participate in your wednesday hearing. democrats accusing republicans hiding behind arguments about the process. >> i think the white house put itself in a straight jacket of its own making by questioning the legitimacy of the constitutional process. by questioning that legitimacy, it makes it very difficult for them to participate. >> reporter: some of the president's top defenders make it harder than that of bogus conspiracy of russia. >> i think russia and ukraine
meddled in the 2016 election and been well documented. >> reporter: gop senator, john kennedy has twisted himself into a pretzel on the issue about the ukraine talking point when he seemed to back away from it last week. >> i was wrong. the only evidence i have, i think it's overwhelming, i think it's russia who tried to hack the dnc computer. >> that's what the con sen us is. >> i've seen no indication ukraine tried to do it. >> reporter: that was enough to earn presidential praise where it counts on twitter. thank you to great republican senator, john kennedy, the president tweeted, for the job he did representing the republican party and myself. the white house has until the end of the week to decide whether or not administration lawyers will play any part in these impeachment proceedings, one white house official questioning whether the white house needs to respond for wednesday as to constitutional
witness scholars to point out constitutional issues with ukraine. the white house appears to be closing the door on any participation in this impeachment process in the house. white house officials speculated earlier this evening perhaps they might be enticed to respond and participate if for example the whistleblower were to take part in these impeachment hearings. that is a non-starter for democrats but sounds like the white house is closing the door on any participation in this process. >> it does. jim acosta in london. joining us, a congressman who serves on the armed services committee. thanks for joining us. you heard house republicans. they have now released a 100 page plus document, their counter report in which they repeat the president's claims of no quid pro quo. what's your response of their strong defense of the president? >> reminds me of the three monkeys, hear no evil, see no evil, and in this case, don't listen to the information that's
been given. there is absolute certainty from all the witnesses, all the evidence we've been able to acquire that the president did engage in bribery. it's there. the republicans don't want to have an impeachment and therefore they're throwing everything they can against the wall hoping something will stick. it won't. we will go forward and there will be an impeachment vote soon and the evidence is overwhelming with regard to what the president did, trying to extort, bribe the president of ukraine to assist him in his election, in a way that in and of itself would be illegal. >> the republicans do have the right to submit their own minority report, their rebuttal to what the democrats are about to release. >> of course they have the right to do it. they have the right to participate in all of the hearings, equal time to the democrats, in the closed door depositions as well as in the hearings. they've just refused to see the
facts that were presented to them. they don't want to have it happen and therefore they turn their back on the facts. the reality is the american public listen to what was going on, they will hear more as the judiciary committee moves forward and americans will learn more about what impeachment is about on wednesday, an important foundational meeting. when the president says he doesn't want to participate in it, that's because he has no defense. in his own words, he is convicted. >> the ranking republican, top republican on the injury committinjury -- judiciary committee, doug collins says thissed ad hoc poo executed committee -- what do you say it to? >> that's their mantra.
they will keep on doing it. the reality is this has been the most open process. keep in mind the depositions, as normal in an investigation, are done privately, two weeks of hearings, not participants, not partisans but rather key government officials involved in the ukraine situation, all testifying there was something very very wrong what the president was doing. taylor, hill, on and on confirming about the fact the president engaged in an attempt to bribe the president of ukraine in what is clearly, within the constitution, it's treason, bribery, other high crimes and misdemeanors. we have a clear case of bribery, and if you care, extortion. >> the republicans are asking the house intelligence committee chairman, adam schiff, to
testify, the one who led the house intelligence committee investigation. should he? >> no, he should not. he's not a witness. all he did was carry out his responsibilities as chairman of the committee, gathering the information. the republicans did have an opportunity to bring their own witnesses to those two weeks of hearings. the fact of the matter is they didn't, probably because the president has continued to stonewall information that may have been exculpatory, was not available because the president wouldn't release any documents, and would not release any of the white house witnesses. why? probably because they had nothing to provide any exculpatory information to the committee. the republicans simply didn't bring a witness of their own to the hearing. >> the independent counsel, ken starr, who investigated bill clinton, that led to his impeachment, he was willing to testify before congress.
the republicans say the guy who led the investigation into donald trump, adam schiff, he should testify as well. what do you say to that argument? >> apples and oranges. ken starr was a special counsel appointed to carry out the task. keep in mind that the current department of justice refused to investigate, and in fact the attorney general, in his own, covered up information, refused to do what a normal attorney general would do, that is to appoint a counsel. bat in, we d bat by the way we did have a special counsel. his name was robert mueller. 2 1/2 years of obstruction charges in his special report. you want a special counsel, bring mueller back. adam schiff's job was not a special counsel job and therefore his testimony would add nothing.
you want to bring additional witnesses that testified during the intelligence committee open hearings, bring them back and let them testify. add others. by the way, let's get the documents. where is this tape? we had the nixon tape. where is the tape of the conversation the president had of his oh so perfect conversation with zelenskey. >> is there a tape? >> it happens to be in the white house. >> congressman, thank you for joining us. >> good to be with you. >> we could learn more about the house intelligence report any moment as they're now reading the fine print. also, an indicted associate of rudy guilliani may provided impeachment testimony as he
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reviewing these documents. was the president's former personal attorney pressured to actually lie to congress? >> hey, wolf. i'm losing you right here. i can tell you what we did learn from some documents is that michael cohen told the investigators of the special counsel's office he had extensive conversations with jay sekulow around the time he was preparing his congressional testimony. i will read a line from what cohen told the investigators. he said he told them he recalled more conversations with the president, who's been the candidate, about the plans to build the trump tower in moscow and he also recalled additional conversations with russians about the trump tower in moscow and not in the testimony. jay said it did not matter and he should not contradict trump and time to move on. those statements were not included in cohen's
congressional testimony. he then later plead guilty for lying to congress by not including statements he had a conversation with putin's press secretary's assistant and conversations with the president during this process of the campaign, when the president was publicly saying they had no business deals with russia and no contact with the russians. wolf. >> what are you learning about his asking for a pardon? >> we also learned from the documents and interview notes cohen gave when he was interviewed by the fbi he said it was not long after his apartment hotel room was raided in april of 2018 that there were reports in the air about possible pardons. cohen had said, according to this fbi interview he had contacted jay sekulow noting he had been loyal and asking what was in it for him. that's all the interview there says and we know michael cohen later pleaded guilty to multiple charges including campaign
violations including hush money to women who alleged affairs with the president and he is serving a three year prison sentence. >> thank you very much. we're joined by cnn's legal analyst. you just heard the breaking news, what's your reaction? >> it's interesting that there's other evidence we didn't know about before. the end of the day, special counsel's office, bob mueller leading it decided to spin it off to my former office in new york, and they made a determination about what they should charge him with including the false statements cara was referring to and did nothing further and on top of that made a determination presumably binds totality of the evidence and reliability or lack of reliability for michael cohen they wouldn't sign him up formally as a cooperating witness and he ended up going to prison for three years.
it's additional detail and michael cohen is a problematic witness. the southern district chose not make more of that information it just revealed than it already has. until we have other sides of the story and more information, it's hard to know what to make of it. >> what does your gut tell you and your experience, background, is this potentially more troubles down the road for the president? >> i guess potentially, but, again, i want to caution everybody to remember the southern counsel closed its doors and michael has continued to cooperate while in prison in rare circumstances can suffice to get you a reduced prisonents even after you've gone to serve your time if you have good actionable information against other people. it seems like this information cara is revealing to us made public was known to prosecutors
at the time and didn't do much about it. is it something people can argue and talk about and will jay sekulow who appears on television on a regular basis, talk about it personally but i don't know it creates additional charges. a former trump 2016 campaign aid, rick gates and hope kelly and campaign aid corey lewandowski, what do you think we can learn from these documents? >> i haven't read them yet. i don't know. presumably you will get a narrative who knew what and when and again, seems like a lot of this has been put to bed with respect to legal consequences. not all put to bed with respect to political consequences and any action or accountability congress wants to make some
people. there have been some folks saying things in public. i'd be curious how many are contradicted behind what is said behind closed doors when they know there's a potential criminal penalty for lying. we've seen this before. corey lewandowski said things different when he gave information and testimony to mueller's team than he said otherwise and said on television with a straight face testifying before congress he doesn't owe any obligation to tell against biased media, in his view, the truth, even though that's the way you get information to the public. he said i have no obligation to tell the public the truth. in closed doors talking to federal agents he said a different story closer to the truth. i'd like to see, among other things if people who were close to the president told one story publicly and a different story behind closed doors. >> quickly, your thoughts, wednesday morning the house
judiciary committee begins its impeachment process, four witnesses, eld man, harvard law school, pamela, stanford law school and jonathan turley from the george washington law school. feldman. what do you anticipate we will learn? >> i think this will be less of what we saw -- very unlike what we saw of the 12 witnesses who testified before the house intelligence committee. those are fact witnesses, some had firsthand knowledge and some did not but told a story with respect to what the president did with the shakedown of the ukrainian president. there was riveting stuff and naughty stuff regard to facts. this is a legal discussion laying down what the articles of impeachment have to look like. does it have to state a crime or not? should bribery be looked at or not. it's academic.
>> thank you very much. breaking news continues next. getting new information about a key element of president trump's impeachment defense, a phone call that may never have actually taken place. with new creations to choose from; like rich, butter-poached maine lobster and crispy crab-stuffed shrimp rangoon. how will you pick just 4 of 10? it won't be easy. better hurry in. i'm a verizon engineer, and i'm part of the team building the most powerful 5g experience for america. it's 5g ultra wideband--
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experts. sara murray, the president has touted what he described as a september 9th phone conversation he had with eu ambassador gordon sondland as evidence he did not seek any quid pro quo with the ukrainians. what are you learning? >> he holds it out as exonerating him from asking for quid pro quo. but when gordon sondland testified in front of the cameras said it was absolutely a quid pro quo. the white house was not able to cooperate this call took place or provide documentation for that gordon sondland said and no other witnesses able to cooperate this call that gordon sondland said took place september 9th which cast doubt the call took place and someone said his memory is not great and he doesn't keep great notes, wolf. >> the officials did testify during the course of these earrings about another phone conversation the president had
with the ukrainian president all of this, right? >> that's right. they remembered a conversation between gordon sondland and president zelensky, and this happened on september 7th. this is a problem for the president because this piece of exonerating information isn't as good as the president would like to believe but the witnesses that remember this september 7th call in real-time were alarmed by it. tim morrison said he had a sinking feeling and went and talked to attorneys about it. bill taylor said he was concerned about this and talked to others about it. the witnesses who heard it contemporaneously said it had to deal with a quid pro quo, had to deal with investigations even though president trump said there was no quid pro quo, he said zelensky needed to go out and make a public statement about the investigations. >> what do you think of this? >> calls into the white house are actually logged. the other question is whether or
not gordon sondland is actually confused about this call. if there is really only one call. i agree the additional quid pro quo call is not exactly exonerating the president, what happened to the extent the president did say the words, no quid pro quo, he then went on to describe and request a precise quid pro quo. that really does undercut any semblance of a defense here whatsoever. >> go ahead, jeffrey. >> what's wrong with these people? why don't they take notes when they talk to the president of the united states? is that a lot to ask? gordon sondland, this hotel guy is like wandering around the country -- around the world, and having conversations and he can't remember and he doesn't remember what the president said, maybe he's mixing up phone calls. who are these people? >> remember, he said i'm not a note taker, i don't take a lot of notes.
he said that before the committee. >> maybe he should have. it's the incompetence and ridiculousness of appointing this clown in the first place is extraordinary. sorry, i don't take notes when the president is telling me what to do. what is that. >> one of the problems sara and susan suggested, this supposed september 9th call was supposedly at one point a response to ambassador taylor raising the response in the text it's kind of crazy to hold out military aid in exchange for getting this meeting. if sondland didn't even have this call which he then is later supposed to have come back and said, oh, the president said no quid pro quo, it further weakens the case there was a clear message from the white house there was no quid pro quo. >> let me get jeffrey to react to the senator from louisiana, going back and forth whether there was ukrainian involvement in the 2016 election, said there
was, along with russia and the ukranians didn't and now said they did. listen to what he just said a little while ago. >> do you think that the ukranians interfered in the 2016 election? >> i do. i do. the suggestion has been made that ukraine's hands are clean and ukraine's aren't. it is clear to me ukraine did meddle in the u.s. election. >> he's not only doubling down, tripling down on that accusation. >> when the history of this period is made, all of the otherwise distinguished republicans who have demeaned themselves, embarrassed themselves telling donald trump's lies for the benefit of vladamir putin. that's the only person who benefits from this other than trump himself is this fantasy ukraine was somehow culpable in the 2016 election.
the argument is based on a financial times article which kennedy has cited in the past which doesn't even say what he says it does. it's so embarrassing and pathetic. >> putin himself is the one who said shortly after the election it was probably ukraine that did it, russia had nothing to do with it. >> it's astonishing. we know there is intelligence reporting available for senators allowed to see classified materials to access and look at yet senator kennedy is going out and spreading out essentially russian propaganda and apparently not taken the time to review the underlying intelligence that russia is behind this. >> the u.s. senate, senators were briefed recently by the intelligence community including leaders appointed by president trump saying this is what the russians are trying to do, to reverse the accusations against russia and blame ukraine. >> senators were briefed yesterday.
senator kennedy said he wasn't part of the briefing. either way, wolf, members of the senate have access to more information than almost anybody especially if you're on the relevant committees. the idea that they just have to go online and read these fringe websites to get this conspiracy information is preposterous. everybody stick around, more breaking news we're following. one of rudy guilliani's allies is now offering to cooperate with impeachment investigators. what might that reveal? the ups and downs of frequent mood swings can plunge you into deep, depressive lows. (crying) take you to uncontrollable highs. (muffled arguing) or, make you feel both at once.
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we're following multiple breaking stories including new details on the criminal case against associates of the president's personal lawyer, rudy guilliani, our senior justice correspondent, in the "situation room." one of rudy guilliani's associates now willing to cooperate with congress in the impeachment probe? >> that's right. parnas has been talking about the cooperation he wants to provide to the house because he's been asking questions that could be relevant to ukraine. one of the things he's waiting
for is for the government to turn over pages from documents. thousands of pages of documents from subpoenas of phones and banks and other things. they have 29 electronic devices taken from one of the searches here. prosecutors said today they're still contemplating additional passengers not only against lev p parvas and fruman, what emerged from the court hearing for rudy guilliani is there is a long wait before he learns what prosecutors will do about him. he is in their sights and they're looking into his association with these men but still early in this investigation. rudy has to be waiting for some time it appears. >> going through newly released mueller documents just coming out including new information about the firing of then fbi director, james comey? >> that's right.
rod rosenstein was one of the people interviewed early in 2017 at the beginning of this investigation. one of the things he talks about learning james comey had been fired essentially by e-mail and not given the courtesy of a phone call from the president or his bosses saying i was angry, horrified, ashamed and embarrassed. in this 302 interview with the fbi we learned rosenstein and jeff sessions actually contemplated getting a new fbi director the beginning of the trump administration and rosenstein reached out to a few candidates but sheffield it once they learned the president was speaking very positively about keeping james comey. that all went south by may of 2017 and comey was fired may 9th. >> went very very south. >> thanks for reporting, evan. other information, jimmy carter has now returned to the
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return home to plains, georgia, soon. we hope he does with speedy recovery. >> meanwhile, other important news we're following. anti-government protests in iran are growing deadlier by the day. amfsty international says at least 208 people have been killed in the demonstrations and the islamic regime security crackdown. the group warns the number may be actually much higher. sam kiley is in the middle east following the unrest in iran right now. sam, the crackdown on protesters, we understand, has been brutal and deadly. >> more deadly probably or possibly given the figures coming from amnesty and other human rights groups that say, wolf, figures could be much higher. could be the worst violence internally since the revolution of 1979. and some of the revolutionary activity that led to deposing of
the shah. now, over the last couple of weeks when it really kicked off, it was sparked officially by a fuel price hike. but there had been a number of demonstrations building up periodically, really over the last two years. as ordinary iranians have begun to feel very, very angry at their own government, at their own administration for what they say is mismanagement and their own poverty. of course, this has been re-enforced by sanctions imposed by the trump administration that has effectively almost effectively isolated iran from the international trading community, particularly its ability to export oil. and it's for that reason the government has felt obliged to meet its fiscal responsibilities to do this heavy price hike, but as a consequence of that, we're also seeing a danger that president rouhani, who is a reformer, is now being met with demands from the street to be deposed. that could, of course, as you know, re-enforce hard liners
there and endanger the region more widely. >> very dramatic developments unfolding in iran. sam kiley, thanks very much. we'll continue to follow this story. we're going to have much more news right after this. (alarm beeping) welcome to our busy world. where we all want more energy. but with less carbon footprint. can we have both? at bp, we're working every day to make energy that's cleaner and better. and we see possibilities everywhere. to make energy that's cleaner and better. creais back at red lobster.ast with new creations to choose from; like rich, butter-poached maine lobster and crispy crab-stuffed shrimp rangoon. how will you pick just 4 of 10? it won't be easy. better hurry in. where people go to learn about their medicare options before they're on medicare. come on in. you're turning 65 soon? yep. and you're retiring at 67? that's the plan! it's also a great time to learn about an aarp medicare supplement insurance plan,
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can a banana peel fuel your flight. bp and fulcrum bioenergy think so. together we'll reduce emissions and landfill waste by turning garbage into jet fuel. at bp, we see possibilities everywhere. playing up his role as a leader of nato, as he's now in london to mark the 70th anniversary of the alliance. as nato members know all too
well, the president is a critic of the mutual defense agreement. he made his feelings clear to me in multiple interviews before he took office. >> do you think the united states needs to rethink u.s. involvement in nato? >> yes, because it's costing us too much money. >> i was asked on cnn by wolf blitzer and i said here's the story, number one, nato is obsolete. >> nato has not treated us fairly. >> nato has been ripping us. >> i said folks, you have to pay up. you're delinquent. >> nato, we're going to have people that aren't paying, they're going it start paying. >> it's obsolete and we pay too much money. >> nato is ripping us off. >> nato has to either be rejiggered or changed. >> it's obsolete, and the united states is paying too much. >> you always have to be prepared to walk. but we'll never have to walk. they have to pay up, folks. >> what do you say to allies who all watching and they're not happy with what you're saying. >> can't make them happy.
they're not happy. we're spending a fortune. >> will the president strike a more conciliatory tone as he faces tensions within nato and impeachment here at home? world leaders will be listening closely and so will we. thanks very much for watching. "erin burnett outfront" starts right now. >> "outfront" next, breaking news. a major new report out laying out potential articles of impeachment as democrats announce their next public witnesses, plus a minority report. republicans countering with a lengthy rebuttal, claiming president trump didn't do anything wrong. the problem is the key points don't add up and the former fbi attorney that trump loves to attack says she's had it. she's fighting back and breaking her silence. the reporter who interviewed lisa page is my guest. let's go "outfront." >> good evening. i'm erin burn net, "outfront" tonight, the breaking news. the impeachment report is out, released moments ago by the house intelligence committee to