JUDY WOODRUFF: Good evening. I’m Judy Woodruff. On the “NewsHour” tonight: GORDON SONDLAND, U.S. Ambassador to the European
Union: As I testified previously, with regard to the requested White House call and the
White House meeting, the answer is, yes. JUDY WOODRUFF: U.S. Ambassador to the European
Union Gordon Sondland has explosive testimony, that he followed President Trump’s orders
to work with Rudy Giuliani, and implicates Secretary of State Pompeo and Vice President
Pence in the pressure campaign against Ukraine. We look at the highlights of this headline-making
moment in the impeachment inquiry. And taking the stage. With less than three months to go before votes
are cast in the first presidential primary contest, what to watch out for in tonight’s
Democratic debate. All that and more on tonight’s “PBS NewsHour.” (BREAK) JUDY WOODRUFF: The most anticipated moment
yet in the impeachment inquiry. U.S. Ambassador to the European Union and
Trump campaign donor Gordon Sondland testifies that there was a quid pro quo with Ukraine,
as he followed the president’s orders to work with Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani. And Sondland implicates Secretary of State
Pompeo and Vice President Pence in that pressure campaign. There is a lot to unpack from today. Lisa Desjardins is at the Capitol for us. Yamiche Alcindor is at the White House. And Nick Schifrin is here with me at this
table. So much to talk about with all three of you. But let’s start by hearing just a bit of Gordon
Sondland’s opening testimony. GORDON SONDLAND, U.S. Ambassador to the European
Union: First, Secretary Perry, Ambassador Volker and I worked with Mr. Rudy Giuliani
on Ukraine matters at the express direction of the president of the United States. We did not want to work with Mr. Giuliani. Simply put, we were playing the hand we were
dealt. We all understood that if we refused to work
with Mr. Giuliani, we would lose a very important opportunity to cement relations between the
United States and Ukraine. So we followed the president’s orders. Second, although we disagreed with the need
to involve Mr. Giuliani, at the time, we did not believe that his role was improper. Third, let me say, precisely because we did
not think that we were engaging in improper behavior, we made every effort to ensure that
the relevant decision-makers at the National Security Council and the State Department
knew the important details of our efforts. The suggestion that we were engaged in some
irregular or rogue diplomacy is absolutely false. I have now identified certain State Department
e-mails and messages that provide contemporaneous support for my view. These e-mails show that the leadership of
the State Department, the National Security Council, and the White House were all informed
about the Ukraine efforts from May 23, 2019, until the security aid was released on September
11, 2019. Fourth, as I testified previously, Mr. Giuliani’s
requests were a quid pro quo for arranging a White House visit for President Zelensky. Mr. Giuliani demanded that Ukraine make a
public statement announcing the investigations of the 2016 election, DNC server and Burisma. Mr. Giuliani was expressing the desires of
the president of the United States, and we knew these investigations were important to
the president. Fifth, in July and August of 2019, we learned
that the White House had also suspended security aid to Ukraine. I was adamantly opposed to any suspension
of aid. I was adamantly opposed to any suspension
of aid, as the Ukrainians needed those funds to fight against Russian aggression. Finally, at all times, I was acting in good
faith. I was acting in good faith. As a presidential appointee, I followed the
directions of the president. We worked with Mr. Giuliani because the president
directed us to do so. We had no desire to set any conditions — we
had no desire to set any conditions on the Ukrainians. Indeed, my own personal view, which I shared
repeatedly with others, was that the White House and security assistance should have
proceeded without preconditions of any kind. JUDY WOODRUFF: So, Nick Schifrin, let me start
with you. What do you primarily take away from Sondland’s
testimony? NICK SCHIFRIN: Right, two big takeaways let’s
focus on right now. One is that Sondland brought these allegations
to the door of the president of the United States at the very least, if not in the room,
by connecting the president, through Rudy Giuliani, very specifically. “We followed the president’s orders and worked
with Giuliani. When the president tells us to talk to Giuliani,
I assume what Giuliani says comes from the president.” The reason that’s important is, he says that
Giuliani requests a — quote — “quid pro quo,” as we just heard, for arranging the
White House meeting for President Zelensky of Ukraine. The quid pro quo was meeting President Trump,
and, in return, Ukraine announces investigations into 2016 and Burisma, the energy company
where Hunter Biden served on the board. He used the term quid pro quo three times. That’s a lot farther than he went in the past
and a lot farther than any other witness has gone. And then the second big point that he had
to make was that Ukrainians knew that they had to make these investigations, or at least
announce these investigations. And why is that important, is that that goes
against the Republican argument that there could be no quid pro quo because Ukrainians
didn’t feel any pressure. Ambassador Sondland said, no, Ukrainians knew
exactly what they had to do, and they felt that pressure. JUDY WOODRUFF: So, Lisa Desjardins, you were
in the hearing room all day long, as you have been for every day of this impeachment inquiry. Give us a sense of the dynamics there. LISA DESJARDINS: I have to say, Judy, I have
been to many important high-level national interest hearings. It’s a privilege, a responsibility with this
job, but today was the first time during this impeachment inquiry where I felt like this
was a hearing that was extraordinary, this was a hearing that might be historic. It had that feeling in the room. You could see members, witnesses and lawyers
sitting on the edge of their seats at very — very many times. And I think you also could see what’s happened
over the last two or three days, which is that some members have gotten better at doing
this. Some of the counsel has gotten better. There’s more energy on both sides. They’re a little bit more deliberate. And I think, as a result of that, you also
got a little bit more of what exactly the boiled-down messages were today. From Republicans, what I got, their argument,
Judy, essentially is, this was all a big misunderstanding. Gordon Sondland, Kurt Volker, everyone involved
either misunderstood what was happening or miscommunicated what was happening. From Democrats, could not be more different. They say, clearly, the president was signaling,
if not outright directing, that his political opponent should be investigated by a foreign
power, and he was withholding aid from that foreign power. Of course, the question still is how directly
the president communicated that or not. But I will tell you, being in that hearing
room today felt different. And you can tell that Democrats certainly
feel like that they made a good case today. Republicans are trying to also eke out some
messages of their own. JUDY WOODRUFF: So, Yamiche, to the White House,
clearly, they are watching this very closely. What are they saying? YAMICHE ALCINDOR: The president and White
House aides were watching Ambassador Sondland’s testimony very closely. And Ambassador Sondland said he wasn’t directly
told by President Trump to hedge this $391 million of military aid to Ukraine for an
investigation into Joe Biden and the Democrats. However, he said that he was — he felt like
he was doing everything at the direction of the president. As a result, the White House is really seizing
on the first part of that, and that is that the president says, I never actually directed
Ambassador Sondland to do that. He also walked out onto the White House lawn
early in the day as Ambassador Sondland was testifying. And he had handwritten notes. This was kind of extraordinary, because the
president didn’t take questions, but he was looking down. And his paper said, “I want nothing.” And he was quoting Ambassador Sondland’s testimony
before lawmakers, where he said that President Trump told him there should be no quid pro
quo and I want nothing. I also want to just play for some — for the
viewers what President Trump said on the lawn of the White House. DONALD TRUMP, President of the United States:
I’m going to go very quickly, just a quick comment on what’s going on in terms of testimony
with Ambassador Sondland. And I just noticed one thing. And I would say, that means it’s all over. “What do you want from Ukraine?,” he asks
me, screaming. “What do you want from Ukraine? I keep hearing all these different ideas and
theories.” This is Ambassador Sondland speaking to me. Just happened, to which I turned off the television. “What do you want from Ukraine? I keep hearing all these different ideas and
theories. What do you want? What do you want?” It was a very short and abrupt conversation
that he had with me. They said, he was not in a good mood. I’m always in a good mood. I don’t know what that is. He just said — now he’s talking about what
my response — so, he’s going: “What do you want? What do you want? I hear all these theories. What do you want?” Right? And now here’s my response that he gave, just
gave. Ready? You have the cameras rolling? “I want nothing.” That’s what I want from Ukraine. That’s what I said. I want nothing. I said it twice. So, he goes — he asks me the question: What
do you want? I keep hearing all of these things. What do you want? He finally gets me — I don’t know him very
well. I have not spoken to him much. This is not a man I know well. Seems like a nice guy, though. But I don’t know him well. He was with other candidates. He actually supported other candidates, not
me, came in late. But here’s my response. Now, if you weren’t fake news, you’d cover
it properly. I say to the Ambassador in response: “I want
nothing. I want nothing. I want no quid pro quo. Tell Zelensky — President Zelensky — to
do the right thing.” So here’s my answer: “I want nothing. I want nothing. I want no quid pro quo. Tell Zelensky to do the right thing.” Then he says: “This is the final word from
the president of the United States. I want nothing.” JUDY WOODRUFF: So, that was some of what President
Trump had to say today as these hearings were going on. And, Nick Schifrin, it wasn’t just the president,
of course, that Ambassador Sondland was referring to today. He brought up a number of senior figures in
the Trump administration, the secretary of state, a number of others. What are they saying in reaction? NICK SCHIFRIN: Yes, to mix metaphors, this
is the escalating ladder of throwing people under the bus. So, Secretary of State Pompeo, the vice president,
Secretary of Energy Perry, acting Chief of Staff Mulvaney — let me focus on the secretary
of state just for a second. What Gordon Sondland said is that, in early
September — in early September — sorry — in early September, Gordon Sondland came up to
the Ukrainians and said, look, you have to do these investigations before you can get
military aid released, right? He said today that he said that because Secretary
of State Pompeo gave him the green light. We hadn’t heard that before. He also detailed earlier e-mails to Pompeo
in August, on August 11, August 22, got no objection from Secretary of State Pompeo,
and was asked: “Was Pompeo aware of the quid pro quo?” Answer: “Yes.” So, Pompeo was asked about this today, didn’t
really answer. And now his spokeswoman, Morgan Ortagus, has
released this statement: “Gordon Sondland never told Secretary Pompeo that he believed
the president was linking aid to investigations of political opponents. Any suggestion to the contrary is flat-out
false.” And just to leave that up there for a second,
investigations of political opponents, that’s not exactly what Sondland said today. All Sondland said is that he and Pompeo talked
about Burisma and 2016. He doesn’t say that he talked about Biden
and all. And that’s the distinction that he tried to
make today. JUDY WOODRUFF: An important distinction. So, Yamiche, other senior figures in this
administration were mentioned by Ambassador Sondland. What are they saying? YAMICHE ALCINDOR: Well, what was extraordinary
about today was that it wasn’t just the White House really having a rapid response, responding
in real time to Ambassador Sondland, but it was a number of agencies. And, as Nick said, Ambassador Sondland was
really naming names of high-ranking officials. He talked about the acting chief of staff,
Mick Mulvaney. He talked about the former National Security
Adviser John Bolton. He talked about Rudy Giuliani. And he talked about Vice President Mike Pence. He said that, on September 1 — this was before
the military aid was released to Ukraine — that he went to Vice President Pence in Warsaw,
while the vice president was visiting, and he said, I have concerns about this aid possibly
being tied to an investigation into the Bidens. But here’s what Mike Pence’s office said. I’m going to read to you a statement from
his chief of staff. He — the chief of staff says: “The vice president
never had a conversation with Gordon Sondland about investigating the Bidens, Burisma,”
which is the Ukrainian company that Hunter Biden was serving on, “or the conditional
release of financial aid to Ukraine based upon potential investigations. This alleged discussion recalled by Ambassador
Sondland never happened.” So you have the vice president of the United
States, through his chief of staff, saying, what Ambassador Sondland testified today never
happened. You also have Rudy Giuliani, the personal
attorney of President Trump. He put out a number of tweets, again reacting
in real time. And he said, look, I was talking to Kurt Volker,
the former U.S. envoy to Ukraine. I was talking to these people about what the
president wanted, but I was really sharing my opinion,. I wasn’t making any demands, so there was
no quid pro quo. So, again, a number of officials pushing back
on Ambassador Scotland in real time. JUDY WOODRUFF: All of this so interesting. So, let’s listen to another exchange today
with Ambassador Sondland. This one — this is showing that he was grilled
by a number of Republicans. This one happens to be with Congressman Mike
Turner of Ohio. REP. MIKE TURNER (R-OH): Is Donald Trump your friend? GORDON SONDLAND: No, we’re not friends. I — we have a… REP. MIKE TURNER: Do you like the president? GORDON SONDLAND: Yes. REP. MIKE TURNER: OK. Well, you know, after you testified, Chairman
Schiff ran out and gave a press conference and said, he gets to impeach the president
of the United States because of your testimony. And if you pull up CNN today, right now, their
banner says “Sondland Ties Trump to Withholding Aid.” Is that your testimony today, Mr. — Ambassador
Sondland, that you have evidence that Donald Trump tied the investigations to the aid? Because I don’t think you’re saying that. GORDON SONDLAND: I have said repeatedly, Congressman,
I was presuming. I also said that President Trump… REP. MIKE TURNER: So no one told you, not just
the president. Giuliani didn’t tell you, Mulvaney didn’t
tell you — nobody — Pompeo didn’t tell you, nobody else on this planet told you that Donald
Trump was tying aid to these investigations; is that correct? GORDON SONDLAND: I think I already testified
to that. REP. MIKE TURNER: No, answer the question. Is it correct, no one on this planet told
you that Donald Trump was tying this aid to the investigations? Because if your answer is yes, then the chairman’s
wrong and the headline on CNN is wrong. No one on this planet told you that President
Trump was tying aid to investigations, yes or no? GORDON SONDLAND: Yes. REP. MIKE TURNER: So, you really have no testimony
today that ties President Trump to a scheme to withhold aid from Ukraine in exchange for
these investigations? GORDON SONDLAND: Other than my own presumption. REP. MIKE TURNER: Which is nothing. I mean, that’s what I don’t understand. So you know what hearsay evidence is, Ambassador? Hearsay is when I testify what someone else
told me. Do you know what made-up testimony is? Made-up testimony is when I just presume it. I mean, you’re just assuming all of these
things, and then you’re giving them the evidence that they’re running out and doing press conferences,
and CNN’s headline is saying that you’re saying the president of the United States should
be impeached because he tied to investigations. And you don’t know that, correct? GORDON SONDLAND: I never said the president
of the United States should be impeached. REP. MIKE TURNER: Nope, but you did — you have
left people with the confusing impression that you were giving testimony that you did
not. You do not have any evidence that the president
of the United States was tied to withholding aid from Ukraine in exchange for investigations. I yield back. JUDY WOODRUFF: And it wasn’t just Republicans
who had pointed questions for Ambassador Sondland. Here now is an exchange with a Democratic
congressman. He is Sean Patrick Maloney of New York. REP. SEAN PATRICK MALONEY (D-NY): Who would benefit
from an investigation of the president’s political opponent? GORDON SONDLAND: Well, presumably that — the
person who asked for the investigation. REP. SEAN PATRICK MALONEY: Who’s that? GORDON SONDLAND: If the president asked for
the investigation, it would be he. REP. SEAN PATRICK MALONEY: Well, it’s not a hypothetical,
is it, sir? We just went around this track, didn’t we? The president asked you about investigations. He was talking about the Bidens. When he — when he asked you about the Biden
investigation, who was he seeking to benefit? GORDON SONDLAND: He did not ask me about the
Biden investigation. REP. SEAN PATRICK MALONEY: When he asked you about
investigations. GORDON SONDLAND: I said that about 19 times,
Mr. Maloney. REP. SEAN PATRICK MALONEY: Sir, sir, we just went
through this. When he asked you about investigations, which
we all agree, now, means the Bidens — we just did this about 30 seconds ago. It’s a pretty simple question isn’t it? I guess – I guess I’m having trouble, why
you can’t just say… GORDON SONDLAND: When he asked about investigations,
I assumed he meant the company. REP. SEAN PATRICK MALONEY: I know what you assume. GORDON SONDLAND: Burisma. REP. SEAN PATRICK MALONEY: But who would benefit
from an investigation of the Bidens? GORDON SONDLAND: They’re two different questions. REP. SEAN PATRICK MALONEY: I’m just asking you
one. Who would benefit from an investigation of
the Bidens? GORDON SONDLAND: I assume President Trump
would benefit. REP. SEAN PATRICK MALONEY: There we have it. See? (LAUGHTER) (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) REP. SEAN PATRICK MALONEY: Didn’t hurt a bit, did
it? Didn’t hurt a bit. Let me ask you something. GORDON SONDLAND: Mr. Maloney? REP. SEAN PATRICK MALONEY: Hold on, sir. GORDON SONDLAND: Excuse me. I have been very forthright, and I really
resent what you’re trying to do. REP. SEAN PATRICK MALONEY: Fair enough. You’ve been very forthright. This is your third try to do so, sir. Didn’t work so well the first time, did it? We had a little declaration come in after
you. Remember that? And now we’re here a third time, and we’ve
got a doozy of a statement from you this morning. There’s a whole bunch of stuff you don’t recall. So, all due respect, sir, we appreciate your
candor, but let’s be really clear on what it took to get it out of you. JUDY WOODRUFF: So that’s just a sampling of
what the Republicans and the Democrats on the committee were — were saying to Ambassador
Sondland. Lisa Desjardins, back to you. What does this say about the strategies that
the two parties had? LISA DESJARDINS: I think, for Democrats, there’s
increasing confidence about the case that they’re making. Pretty much behind the scenes, they all feel
like this is a road toward impeachment, though, obviously, they haven’t made that decision
yet. It’s pretty clear that’s where their minds
are at, at this moment. Republican, Judy — I spent a lot of time
after that hearing talking to Republicans off the floor — off the House chamber floor. And I specifically went after different groups
of Republicans. It’s interesting. What I heard from rank-and-file members was
different than what I heard in that hearing, that strategy that you heard about trying
to establish that there wasn’t a direct link to the president, there might not have been
a quid pro quo. That’s not what I heard from rank-and-file
Republicans. Instead, I heard from Representative Peter
King, who’s in a swing district in New York. He’s retiring, which is one reason I wanted
to talk to him. He does think the president did nothing wrong,
but he argues something different. He says: It’s because the president has the
right to launch any investigation he want. I don’t have a problem with it. Then, Judy, I talked to a different Republican,
Francis Rooney of Florida. He is known as a swing member who does not
always vote with the president and the rest of his Republicans. He is undecided on impeachment. He said today did feel like a big day to him. But he also said he heard conflicting testimony. When I asked what the conversation was like
for Republicans at large, he said: “That’s what it is. We all feel there was conflicting testimony
on — for both sides, from Ambassador Sondland. We’re still working it out.” So I think this is a moment where it’s not
clear where Republicans will end up. You hear a lot of different arguments in the
hearing room, but Republican mind-sets from the rank and file may be somewhere else. JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, certainly, the Democrats
are not finished yet. More testimony tonight, and, of course, we
know there will be in coming days. But what I want to do now is share just a
little bit of what the closing remarks were today. After the questions of Ambassador Sondland,
the chairman of the committee, Adam Schiff, made his own statement. And here’s a part of that. REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): I have said a lot of things
about President Trump over the years. I have very strong feelings about President
Trump, which are neither here nor there. But I will say this on the president’s behalf. I do not believe that the president would
allow himself to be led by the nose by Rudy Giuliani, or Ambassador Sondland, or anybody
else. I think the president was the one who decided
whether a meeting would happen, whether aid would be lifted, not anyone who worked for
him. And so, the answer to the question who was
refusing the meeting with Zelensky that you believed should take place, that Ambassador
Volker believed should take place, and everybody believed should take place? The only question was when. Who was the one standing in the way of that
meeting? Who was the one refusing to take that meeting? There’s only one answer to that question. And it’s Donald J. Trump, 45th president of
the United States. So, who was holding up the military assistance? Was it you, Ambassador Sondland? No, it wasn’t. Was it Ambassador Volker? No. Was it Ambassador Taylor? No. Was it Deputy Secretary Kent? No. Was it Secretary of State Pompeo? No. Who had the decision to release the aid? It was one person, Donald J. Trump, president
of the United States. Now, my colleagues seem to think, unless the
president says the magic words that “I hereby bribe the Ukrainians,” that there’s no evidence
of bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanors. But let’s look to the best evidence of what’s
in the president’s head. What’s his intent? What’s the reason behind the hold on the meeting
and on the aid? Let’s look at what the president has to say. Let’s look at what’s undisputed about what
the president has to say. And you know how we know what the president
has to say? Not because what you have represented, or
others have represented, but because we have a record of his conversation. And with who? The one who really matters, with the other
president, Zelensky. JUDY WOODRUFF: So, Lisa Desjardins, back to
you. What did you make of that, those comments? LISA DESJARDINS: Well, I think we have known
before that Chairman Schiff is very strong, especially in his closing arguments. And I think he’s been speaking to the American
people. As we know, Speaker Pelosi has said all along
that it’s kind of the will of the public here that matters the most. I was talking to a Republican strategist here
on the Hill, also in the last couple of hours, who said to me — this is a moderate — who
said, this really is still a jump ball. It’s about 15 percent of the American public. And the question is, are they really paying
attention? Is this too much information, and it’s distracting
and overload, or is it so many questions about the president that it does influence Americans? And I think that’s what Chairman Schiff is
trying to do. One other quick piece of note. I just got news from Republicans that the
two kind of dominant Republicans on this committee, chairman — Ranking Republican Devin Nunes
and Jim Jordan, have now sent a letter to Democrats saying they into tend to subpoena
the whistle-blower and Hunter Biden for testimony. That is their language. However, they do not have that subpoena power
right now as it stands, so, conflict ahead here, Republicans essentially just raising
the idea that they would like these witnesses to testify. They’re using the word subpoena, but they
don’t have that power, as far as I understand it right now. JUDY WOODRUFF: And we heard the ranking Republican,
Nunes, mention that, that that was something they very much wanted to do it in his opening
remarks today. But quickly to you, Yamiche. Your reaction from the White House to what
Chairman Schiff said. YAMICHE ALCINDOR: White House officials continue
to stress the fact that Ambassador Sondland never directly connected President Trump to
this quid pro quo. He said that, I felt like I was following
the directions of President Trump, but that President Trump never directly told me that
this needed to be an exchange, that if we didn’t provide this military aid, that they
would have to do these investigations in order for us to have this military aid and this
White House meeting with President Zelensky, the president of Ukraine. So, in some way, the White House feels even
though that this might be — have been damaging and Democrats want to point to specific quotes
from Ambassador Sondland, they overall feel like this is still the president having distance
between this alleged bribery, alleged extortion that Democrats are trying to say happened. The other thing to note is that there is,
of course, a list of White House officials who are still not wanting to comply with subpoenas
and requests for them to come before Congress. And there are some critics of the president
who say, if they — if the White House really wanted to make the case that the president
was not directing people to do a quid pro quo, they could allow Mick Mulvaney, the acting
chief of staff, to come before the committee, to come before Congress to say, look, here’s
exactly what the president told me. That isn’t happening as of yet. The president has said that he was open to
answering questions, written questions. But I have been talking to White House officials
who also say that that’s not likely. So, at this point, moving forward, the White
House is going to continue to put out statements that point out that the president, when he
was talking Ambassador Sondland, said, I don’t want a quid pro quo. JUDY WOODRUFF: And, finally, back to you,
Nick. These hearings are ongoing right now. Two more witnesses are testifying on the Hill. What do we know about the individuals who
are there right now? NICK SCHIFRIN: Yes, the questions for them
are, what did Secretary of State Pompeo know, and what did Ukraine know, and when did it
know? So, the first official testifying is David
Hale. He is the undersecretary for political affairs
at the State Department, which makes him number three. He has served more than a 30-year career under
Republican and Democratic administrations. Republicans called him, Judy, because they
believe that he’s going to testify that there was no linkage, as far as he knew, between
the suspension of aid and those political investigations. But there are questions about what Secretary
Pompeo knew and didn’t know. And we talked about that earlier. Gordon Sondland made a lot of new allegations. He will have to answer those. The second official is Laura Cooper, one of
the top officials at the Department of Defense working on Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia, long-term
strategy on Russia and Ukraine for the Department of Defense, has been there almost 20 years. She warned the White House that freezing this
aid to Ukraine might be illegal. And her insight is into how she tried to persuade
the White House to release the aid. And her insight is also into, when did Ukraine
know that the aid was frozen? And she is testifying right now that they
knew about July 25. And the reason that’s significant is that,
on July 25, that is when President Zelensky talks to President Trump. If Ukraine really knew that the military aid
was frozen as of July 25, that undercuts the White House argument that the Ukrainians couldn’t
have been asked for a quid pro quo because they felt no pressure because they didn’t
know the military aid had been frozen. So, her testimony is, July 25, Ukrainians
knew already that the aid was frozen. And just a reminder, Judy, these are lethal
arms. This is a real policy toward Ukraine you’re
talking about that was delayed for 55 days, essential for U.S. national security, according
to U.S. officials. And that was at the heart of the delay. And that’s at the heart of this impeachment
testimony. JUDY WOODRUFF: All right, and that is ongoing
right now. And we will be reporting on all that later. Thank you to all three of you, a marathon
today. Nick Schifrin, Yamiche Alcindor, and Lisa
Desjardins, thank you. NICK SCHIFRIN: Thank you. JUDY WOODRUFF: As we have been discussing,
the Trump administration was quick today to push back on Ambassador Sondland’s claim that
Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and White House acting Chief
of Staff Mick Mulvaney, among others, were all aware of the ambassador’s efforts to get
Ukraine to open an investigation into the Bidens, an inquiry Sondland acknowledged would
ultimately benefit President Trump. Kellyanne Conway is the counselor to the president. And she joins us now from the White House. Kellyanne Conway, so many questions to ask
you about today, but my first question is this. We heard the president say this afternoon
he was asking nothing of Ukraine. If that’s the case, why was the aid held up
for several months? Why was a meeting with the president held
up? KELLYANNE CONWAY, Counselor to President Trump:
Well, the one thing that the president was asking was for President Zelensky to deliver
on what he had run on successfully, which is to root out corruption. And we have all read the July 25 call transcript,
Judy, where both presidents are discussing — discussing draining the swamp in their
respective countries. They’re discussing rooting out corruption. They’re discussing how that’s been a problem
in Ukraine. And remember that President Zelensky ran successfully
in Ukraine on an anti-corruption platform. JUDY WOODRUFF: But my question was… KELLYANNE CONWAY: So, President Trump agrees
with the Ukrainian voters that this is the problem in Ukraine. So, the aid — they got the aid without a
meeting. They got — they got the meeting without a
statement. They got the aid without a condition. And a couple of things Ambassador Sondland
today said were critically important. He said he doesn’t — he never heard that
there — the aid was conditioned on anything, that when he called President Trump, the president
said many times, no quid pro quo. I just want President Zelensky to say what
he said he was going to do. JUDY WOODRUFF: Let me ask you about something
else, though, that Ambassador Sondland said. He said he didn’t want to work with Rudy Giuliani,
but he said President Trump expressly directed him to do that. Why did the president want him to work with
his personal attorney? KELLYANNE CONWAY: I don’t know what conversation
the president had with Ambassador Sondland. But I will tell you that — that Ambassador
Sondland very said — very clearly said today — and I quote him — President Trump never
told me directly that the aid was conditioned on the meetings. The only thing we got directly from Giuliani
was that Burisma and 2016 elections were conditioned on the White House meeting. Quote: “The aid was my — my own personal,
you know, guess.” And so, to the extent the president ever asked
Ambassador Sondland to work with Rudy Giuliani — and I can’t confirm or deny that, because
I’m not sure — it was never to get them to condition the aid on anything. And, in fact, if people care about Ukraine,
then they should be thrilled that President Trump has given them nearly $400 million in
military assistance, including… JUDY WOODRUFF: But that… KELLYANNE CONWAY: … including cyber-rifles,
including Javelins, and other aid to help them fight against Russia and other threats. JUDY WOODRUFF: But, as we know, that aid came
later than others in the administration were — were saying that it should be. But just to be clear, Kellyanne Conway, we
did hear from Ambassador Sondland that there was a clear quid quo pro from Rudy Giuliani,
reflecting the president’s wishes, that there not be a White House meeting until there was
an investigation of the Bidens, 2016, the DNC server and so on. KELLYANNE CONWAY: But the — I’m sorry, but
the meeting — other people are in my ear, Judy. I apologize. But the meeting happened without a statement. The meeting happened for the whole world to
see up at the United Nations General Assembly in September, in that same month. And I think what’s incredibly important for
your viewers to know is that both the president of the United States and the president of
Ukraine and their top diplomats have said there was no pressure applied. The aid was delivered. They didn’t know the aid was being held up. I mean, all this is critically important. I think this is why you see the polling going
in the wrong direction for the Democrats, who insist on this impeachment inquiry. The poll released yesterday by Morning Consult
clearly said that independents have a — have gone down 10 percent in terms of approving
of the impeachment. There’s a reason for that. They’re tuning in, and they can’t understand
what’s happening. Why all these hours of testimony? What are we trying to prove? JUDY WOODRUFF: Excuse me. Let me ask you about a couple of other things. And I will try to do this quickly. Is the president still seeking an investigation
by Ukraine into Hunter Biden and his role in Burisma, into what happened in Ukraine
in that regard? KELLYANNE CONWAY: Remember, the president
is — is seeking investigations into corruption. So, if anybody was corrupt, or if their company
was corrupt, then they may have something to worry about. But he’s seeking investigations into corruption. Ambassador Sondland testified today — quote
— he has no recollection of discussing Biden, Vice President Biden, or his son on that famous
July 26 call that Ambassador Sondland also said did not discuss any classified information
and did not strike him as significant at the time. Why is that important tonight? Because the State Department aide who says
he overheard such call on July 26 is testifying tomorrow. JUDY WOODRUFF: Right. KELLYANNE CONWAY: But, today, the man who
was on the call with the president said that the president never mentioned Vice President
Biden or his son during that call — quote — “or after the call ended.” (CROSSTALK) JUDY WOODRUFF: I’m sorry to interrupt. But you’re saying the president is still interested
in knowing anything about Hunter Biden and Burisma? Is that right? KELLYANNE CONWAY: He is still — he is still
interested in knowing about corruption. And if Burisma is part of that corruption,
then whoever the board members are or were need to be held to account. JUDY WOODRUFF: What… KELLYANNE CONWAY: We can’t inoculate Joe Biden
and his son because Joe Biden’s running for president now. That’s beside the point. This happened when Vice President Biden had
Ukraine in his portfolio as vice president. This all occurred in 2015 or ’16. JUDY WOODRUFF: Can you say today what future
military aid for Ukraine will be conditioned on? KELLYANNE CONWAY: Well, it will be — I could
say that the future military aid while President Trump is in office will be robust and much
more than they got from the previous administration. And, Judy, I think that’s incredibly important,
because you heard especially yesterday and last week people who are Ukrainian experts
or people who want to make sure Ukraine policy vis-a-vis the U.S. is well-resourced, is well-respected. They should be thrilled that President Trump
is in office, then, because the aid not only got there, but it’s far more and far more
important to the Ukraine than the aid they got in the previous administration. So I can tell you that, that the aid will
continue. But we’re watching. JUDY WOODRUFF: And — and… KELLYANNE CONWAY: We think it’s very important
that this aid, that President Zelensky made good on his promise to be an anti-corruption
fighter. JUDY WOODRUFF: The White House put out statements
yesterday that were critical of Alexander Vindman, who, of course, the colonel who is
detailed to the National Security Council. Is his job secure? And is the job of Ambassador Sondland secure? We know there were critical statements made
about what he said today by the administration. KELLYANNE CONWAY: Well, those are both — they’re
both people who still work for the administration. And I will say that Ambassador O’Brien, the
new head of the National Security Council here, has stated publicly that he will try
to shrink what he sees to be a bloated staff here at the National Security Council. I will leave that up to him and his boss,
the president of the United States, the commander in chief. JUDY WOODRUFF: So, you — so, you… KELLYANNE CONWAY: But I will — but I will
tell that I have not — I have never and I would never question the patriotism of Lieutenant
Colonel Vindman. I don’t know him, but I would not question
his patriotism. What I do question overall in these hearings
is why we have people testifying for hours and hours and hours, Judy, who have never
met the president, who have never had a conversation about his policies in Ukraine, because their
view of Ukrainian policy is only important insofar as they are executing on the president’s
agenda. He sets the policy, our foreign policy, our
national security interests. JUDY WOODRUFF: And… KELLYANNE CONWAY: And people’s assumptions,
inferences, interpretations, conjecture, insinuations, those are not important. The facts matter. JUDY WOODRUFF: So, just… KELLYANNE CONWAY: The fact is, Ukraine got
its aid. JUDY WOODRUFF: So very, very quickly, so you’re
— you’re not saying that his job is secure, that he may be part of this downsizing you
mentioned at the NSC? KELLYANNE CONWAY: No, I don’t know. I don’t know. JUDY WOODRUFF: You don’t know. I understand. KELLYANNE CONWAY: But I don’t know who — I
don’t know who will stay and who will — and who will go, but it certainly will have nothing
to do with his testimony. He was here at work today. He and his twin brother were taking selfies. (CROSSTALK) JUDY WOODRUFF: And… (CROSSTALK) KELLYANNE CONWAY: … news reporter tweeted
out a picture of them. JUDY WOODRUFF: And, finally, very quickly,
still the posture of the White House that individuals like the White House acting chief
of staff, the secretary of state should not cooperate, should not testify? KELLYANNE CONWAY: Our White House counsel
said in an October 8 letter, Judy, that this is an unconstitutional, an illegal proceeding,
and that we don’t feel we should comply with it. And the other reason is that, in this country,
even in — even in a circus-like hearing that you’re seeing in front of you, which is not
rooted in the rule of law, you don’t have to testify to prove that you’re innocent. That’s not the way this works. Look, I think, if it ever gets to the Senate,
you will see a real trial, and it will be more familiar to the American people, who
are accustomed to trials, who can look at that and say, OK, now I get it, witnesses,
evidence. The president of the United States can’t even
have his own attorney in these hearings. That strikes a lot of Americans as unfair. And I think that’s why you’re seeing the polls
go against approval of this impeachment inquiry. JUDY WOODRUFF: It would be different in the
Senate. Kellyanne Conway at the White House, we thank
you. KELLYANNE CONWAY: Thank you, Judy. JUDY WOODRUFF: And now we get a Democratic
view from Capitol Hill. And that is a member of the House Judiciary
Committee. They would hold hearings on impeachment if
the Intelligence Committee were to end its work and pass it on to Judiciary. Congressman Steve Cohen of Tennessee joins
me now. So, Congressman Cohen, you probably just heard
Kellyanne Conway say these hearings have gone on too long, and they have basically proved
nothing about the president. REP. STEVE COHEN (D-TN): Well, she speaks what
the administration wants the Republicans to speak and their line. It’s like throwing the spaghetti on the wall
and hoping something sticks. The two major anti-corruption parts of the
Constitution are the Emoluments Clause — and the president has never sent one single contract,
reward, payment that he’s got from a foreign power to Congress to ask for permission to
get it — and the other is impeachment, which is high crimes, misdemeanors, bribery, and
treason. And they think that we shouldn’t have an impeachment
proceeding, probably at all, but, certainly, they say, in the last year before a presidential
election. It’s just corruption — Trump could write
a book on corruption. It could be a — have everything in it. And as far as him not dealing with foreign
countries that are corrupt, Afghanistan gets foreign aid, very corrupt. JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, let’s talk about today’s
— what came out of today’s hearing, among other things. We heard Kellyanne Conway say there was — at
no point was the ambassador, Sondland, the ambassador to the European Union, able to
say that President Trump himself said that aid to Ukraine or a meeting with Ukraine is
going to be — or with the leader of Ukraine — is going to be conditioned on whether they
do an investigation into Joe Biden or the Democrats. REP. STEVE COHEN: Well, apparently, he didn’t. He said he kind of got it from Giuliani. But he made it clear that two and two is four
and that all of the parts are there, and that anybody that could add or anybody that can
see and anybody that can understand what is going on would know it. He said they were all in on it. It goes from Pompeo, Pence, Mulvaney, the
president, Giuliani, all of them. And he was told to work with Giuliani, and
that’s what they were looking at. And they were conditioning the meeting on
those investigations, and obviously, they were conditioning the military aid as well. JUDY WOODRUFF: But if they don’t have a direct
link with the president, can they move ahead with impeachment? Is that — does that constitute in any way
an impeachable offense? REP. STEVE COHEN: You don’t have to see somebody
commit a murder if there’s enough evidence, and you get the fingerprints off the rifle,
and if you get the person was there. Nobody saw Oswald shoot President Kennedy,
but we know where he was. We know who owned the gun. We know whose fingerprints were on the gun. You don’t have to necessarily see it. Most crimes don’t have necessarily witnesses
that can put you there. And this is a situation where there’s enough
people that can do it. And they’re stopping the firsthand evidence
that say Trump that did it from — people from testifying. Trump is not allowing evidence, papers from
State Department or from the White House to be given, pursuant to subpoena to the committee,
and not allowing Mulvaney, the actors that were there, Pompeo and others, to testify. And he’s encouraging everybody else not to
testify. And that’s an impeachable article we saw in
the impeachment of Nixon, is obstruction of Congress and the lack of cooperation. JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, that was a pretty striking
comparison you just made with the assassination of President Kennedy. Did you mean to make something so stark, so
stark a comparison? REP. STEVE COHEN: Well, I was just thinking of
a crime where there wasn’t a witness to it. But I think all of us — most all of us agree
and believe that Lee Harvey Oswald assassinated President Kennedy. But nobody was up on the sixth floor of the
Texas School Book Depository and witnessed him do it. You don’t necessarily have to have an eyewitness
to a crime. JUDY WOODRUFF: What else do Democrats need
to do, in your mind, to move ahead with what they believe is a case against this president? REP. STEVE COHEN: Excuse me? JUDY WOODRUFF: What else do you believe Democrats
on the Intelligence Committee, which is now running these impeachment — this impeachment
inquiry, what else do you believe they need to prove? Because, as you and I have been discussing,
still, at this point, there is not a solid connection between the president and what
happened with regard to Ukraine. REP. STEVE COHEN: Well, I think Giuliani’s a solid
connection. I think that there’s enough information when
he claims, which has been testified to, that he was thrilled that they were going to do
the investigation. And I think Sondland understands Trump when
he says he didn’t care about Ukraine, he cared about the investigation, and how it would
affect his election. This is what makes the man tick. And I think that there’s — you can have circumstantial
evidence. You can have hearsay evidence. You don’t have to have direct evidence. You don’t have to have an eyewitness. And there are other things as well. But I think that it would be nice to have
Mulvaney and/or Pompeo or some of the people who were in on the phone call to testify. But the White House is stopping them from
doing that. There is obviously a reason why they’re stopping
them from doing it, because they don’t want the truth to be known, and they don’t want
them to have to go in there and either tell the truth or perjure themselves. And it’s… JUDY WOODRUFF: Congressman… REP. STEVE COHEN: Yes, ma’am. JUDY WOODRUFF: No, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to interrupt. I wanted you to finish your thought. But, Congressman, what do you hear from your
constituents in Tennessee? We just heard Kellyanne Conway say the newest
polls are showing the American people are not being captivated, captivated by these
hearings. She said, in fact, they’re showing that a
number of people are turning away and they’re not — they — in other words, that the case
for an impeachment inquiry has been dropping, rather than rising. REP. STEVE COHEN: Well, I don’t know that, and
I haven’t seen the polls. And the Trump administration is notoriously
famous for lying about polls. But people in my district — I’m from Memphis. Memphis isn’t Tennessee. Memphis is Memphis. And Memphis people that I hear from on a regular
base want Trump to be removed from office and to be impeached. They have thought that for a long time, which
my city is predominantly African-American. My district is predominantly African-American. And the things he said about people coming
from “expletive hole” countries, the way he’s treated people, the few people he has of African-American
origin in his administration, it — there’s been an antipathy there. But I think African-American people just have
a scienter that is appropriate, and they know what this man is about. JUDY WOODRUFF: Steve Cohen, representative
from the state of Tennessee and a member of the House Judiciary Committee, thank you very
much. REP. STEVE COHEN: Happy birthday, Judy. JUDY WOODRUFF: Thank you for that. I appreciate it. REP. STEVE COHEN: Sure. JUDY WOODRUFF: And our live impeachment hearing
coverage continues tomorrow morning starting at 9:00 Eastern. You should check your local TV listings. And, also, you can find us streaming online
on our Facebook, on Twitter, and on YouTube pages. In the day’s other news: Israel is headed
toward an unprecedented third election in less than a year, after a key opposition figure
failed to form a government. Center-right leader Benny Gantz announced
that he could not secure a ruling majority in Parliament. Right-wing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
had already fallen short. The potential kingmaker, longtime politician
Avigdor Lieberman, refused to endorse either man for prime minister. AVIGDOR LIEBERMAN, Leader, Yisrael Beiteinu
Party (through translator): If we roll towards election, it’s because of lack of leadership. One, Gantz, wasn’t ready to accept the president’s
plan for unity, and the other, Netanyahu, wasn’t willing to separate from his ultra-orthodox
messianic bloc. JUDY WOODRUFF: Under Israeli law, any member
of Parliament may now try to form a government over the next three weeks. Otherwise, the country’s voters will have
go back to the polls. In neighboring Syria, Israeli airstrikes hit
dozens of sites used by Iranian forces to support the Syrian regime. An activist group reported that 23 were killed,
including two civilians. State TV showed people gathered around crumbled
bricks and damaged homes just south of Damascus. But Syria claimed that it shot down most of
the missiles. The strikes were retaliation for rocket fire
on the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights. The president of Iran, Hassan Rouhani, claimed
victory today, after a crackdown on protesters. He praised thousands of pro-government demonstrators
shown on state TV chanting anti-American slogans. And he told a Cabinet meeting that the protests
over gasoline prices were fomented from outside. HASSAN ROUHANI, Iranian President (through
translator): The rebels were organized and armed and were precisely following a scheme
plotted by the backward states of the region, as well as the Zionists and Americans. Our people have come out victorious in different
incidents and in the face of enemies’ plots. This time also in riots that were the enemy’s
plot for creating insecurity, our people gained complete victory. JUDY WOODRUFF: Amnesty International says
more than 100 people have been killed Iran’s crackdown. Tehran says that number is speculative. Britain’s Prince Andrew is giving up his public
duties amid an outcry over his friendship with Jeffrey Epstein. The prince said today that the issue has become
a major disruption to the royal family’s charitable work. Epstein was charged with sex trafficking in
the United States, before he committed suicide in jail last August. Andrew was widely accused of appearing insensitive
toward Epstein’s victims in an interview this past weekend. Back in this country, the president of the
United Auto Workers has resigned after being implicated in a federal probe of bribery and
embezzlement. Gary Jones stepped down, shortly after the
union moved to oust him. Also today, General Motors filed a lawsuit
claiming that Fiat Chrysler bribed UAW officials for special breaks in labor agreements. A new wave of forced power blackouts is under
way for some 170,000 people across Northern and Central California. Pacific Gas & Electric began the shutoffs
today to prevent high winds from downing power lines and sparking more wildfires. It’s the latest in a string of much-criticized
outages, and it could last into Thursday. And on Wall Street, stocks fell, amid new
doubts about trade talks with China. The Dow Jones industrial average lost nearly
113 points to close at 27821. The Nasdaq gave up 44 points, and the S&P
500 slipped 11. Turning now to today’s other major televised
political event. That is the fifth Democratic presidential
debate, this one being held in Atlanta. Our Amna Nawaz is there now. And she joins me. So, Amna, as we said, it’s the fifth in a
number of debates for these Democratic candidates. Set the stage for us. What should we be expecting? AMNA NAWAZ: Judy, first, I should point out
that even here on the site of the Democratic debate, on all the screens, the impeachment
hearings are playing in the background. So there’s really no escaping it for the press. But, tonight, 10 Democratic candidates will
face off on that stage here in Atlanta. Take a look at the lineup in the order they
are going to appear on stage tonight. It’s Cory Booker, Tulsi Gabbard, Amy Klobuchar,
Pete Buttigieg, Elizabeth Warren, Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, and Kamala Harris, Andrew
Yang, and Tom Steyer. Now, since the last time they met, the top
tier has remained largely consistent, Biden, Warren, Sanders, and Buttigieg. But, most notably, Mayor Pete Buttigieg had
a bit of a surge, a multipoint surge in polls in Iowa, giving him a clear lead in that one
state. That means he’s probably opening himself up
to some lines of scrutiny, increased scrutiny, from his fellow candidates on the field. We have seen that happen in the past with
Biden and with Warren. Buttigieg’s campaign is sticking firm in their
pre-debate messaging, though. They’re saying whatever comes his way, he
will be ready — Judy. JUDY WOODRUFF: So, Amna, when it comes to
that scrutiny, what are some of the main policy differences that still exist between these
two candidates? What are the other campaigns saying they want
to get across tonight? AMNA NAWAZ: Yes. Some of the clear lines of attacks we have
seen against Mayor Buttigieg in the past will probably hold tonight. That is, he has a lack of elective experience
there, that is, serving just as the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, also so far his inability
to really connect with voters of color, who we know will be crucial to whomever the Democratic
nominee ends up being. Senator — or, rather, Vice President Biden’s
campaign has said they are going to be sticking close to their messaging of consistency in
the polling, regardless of who is number one or two in certain states, also saying he will
continue to present himself as an experienced, steady hand at the wheel on day one if he
is to become commander in chief. If history is a guide, Senator Warren is going
to continue to push her message of big structural change. She’s probably going to face some tough questions,
as she did last time, about her Medicare for all plan, especially now that she has explained
how the timeline would be for the rollout of that. And some of the questions could come from
her fellow progressive candidate Senator Bernie Sanders. As always, of course, though, Judy, this is
an opportunity tonight for some of the middle-tier and lower-tier candidates to try to have a
moment. It’s not going to be easy. The debate is just two hours’ long. That means a few minutes of speaking time. They’re going to have to make every single
minute count, Judy. JUDY WOODRUFF: And, just quickly, finally,
Amna, we know these debates always have an effect on what happens in the weeks coming
after. What are the people you talk to saying about
that, especially since the field is still shifting? AMNA NAWAZ: We should note, of course, as
you mentioned, there’s a new candidate in the field in Deval Patrick. Also, Mayor Bloomberg has been flirting with
the idea of getting in. The campaigns all say two things are true. One is that it might be a little too late
for some of these candidates to get that traction, especially because some of the existing candidates
are still fighting for name recognition. But they say the voters will have to decide. We will see that unfold on the stage tonight,
Judy. JUDY WOODRUFF: Amna Nawaz, reporting on this
debate for us from Atlanta, and we will be looking for your report tomorrow. Thank you, Amna. And another story we want to tell you about,
a reminder to check out our new podcast that Amna hosts. It’s called “Broken Justice.” It’s about the flaws of the public defender
system in the United States. The latest episode in the series is out today. It focuses on the case of Ricky Kidd, and
how he found himself in prison for decades for a murder he says he didn’t commit, and
why he blames the Missouri public defender system. You can listen by visiting the “Broken Justice”
link that’s on our Web site. You can also find episodes on Apple Podcasts,
on Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts. And that’s the “NewsHour” for tonight. A lot of news. I’m Judy Woodruff. Join us online and again here tomorrow morning,
as we continue our special live coverage of the public impeachment hearings, starting
at 9:00 a.m. Eastern. For all of us at the “PBS NewsHour,” thank
you, and we’ll see you soon.