Washington awaits Day 2 of public impeachment hearings

This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," November 14, 2019. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY, R-CALIF., HOUSE MINORITY LEADER: We didn't walk out of yesterday's hearing with any new information than we already walked in.

REP. NANCY PELOSI, R-CALIF., HOUSE SPEAKER: Yesterday was a very somber, prayerful day. I thought it was a successful day for truth, truth coming from the president's men, people he appointed. The devastating testimony corroborated evidence of bribery uncovered in the inquiry.

KELLYANNE CONWAY, COUNSELOR TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: We learned that the Democrats really have no case against the president. You tune in, you're either sound asleep, or you can't follow he side, she said, she said, he said, he said. It's a bunch of gossip girls. It's not a legitimate inquiry.


BRET BAIER, HOST: We are getting ready for another inquiry, another public hearing tomorrow. We will hear from the former Ukrainian ambassador Marie Yovanovitch.

The testimony from Ambassador Taylor sparked an interest in a phone call the day after the president's call with Ukrainian president. The Associated Press reports it this way, "A second U.S. embassy staffer in Kyiv overheard a key cell phone call between President Donald Trump and his ambassador to the European Union discussing the need for Ukrainian officials to pursue investigation. The second diplomatic staffer also at the table with this foreign service officer based in Kyiv. Current and former U.S. officials say Sondland's use of a cell phone in a public place in Ukraine to speak with anyone in the U.S. government back home about sensitive matters, let alone the president, would be a significant breach of communications security."

Those are all interesting points and something that we're going to hear in the Sondland testimony, but why are we hearing about it just now? Let's bring in our panel, "Washington Post" columnist Marc Thiessen, Susan Ferrechio, Chief Congressional Correspondent for the "Washington Examiner," and Steve Clemons, editor at large for "The Hill." Marc, it's fascinating, and we will see what Sondland says, obviously building up to that testimony. But it's July 26th. This was last week that Taylor finds out about it. Isn't that a little weird?

MARC THIESSEN, AMERICAN ENTERPRISE INSTITUTE: Maybe they were saving it for the big reveal in the hearing yesterday. Look, if that was their big news, they are in big trouble because the reality is we already knew that from the Trump phone call that he wanted investigations. So what's new there? That someone overheard him saying what he said in the released transcript of the phone call.

So the Democrats have a problem here, which is that polls right now show that a majority of Americans think Donald Trump did something wrong, but a minority of Americans think that he should be impeached. New FOX News poll in North Carolina, 42 percent support impeachment and removal, Nevada it's just 43 percent, nationally it's about the same. So the burden of proof is on the Democrats to draw blood, to make something happen. There's a rule, in blackjack, the tie goes to the dealer. In impeachment, the tie goes to the president. And right now, yesterday was a draw, and it's a tie, and so as long as there's a tie, Republicans are winning.

BAIER: So you're saying I need in impeachment casino as well?

THIESSEN: You need an impeachment casino.


BAIER: All right, Steve, Democrats, when you talk to them on the Hill, Nancy Pelosi and others, here's what she said. She kind of changed the terminology, it's no longer quid pro quo. It clearly now, according to the speaker, is bribery.


PELOSI: What the president has admitted to and says it's perfect, I say it's perfectly wrong. It's bribery.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT: I guess Sondland had stayed with his testimony that there was no quid pro quo. This is a sham, and it shouldn't be allowed.

PELOSI: What President Trump has done on the record makes what Nixon did look almost small.

RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Believe you me, this did not go any way, anywhere like they dreamed it was going to go.


BAIER: Democrats say they're building, but is that the case after day one?

STEVE CLEMONS, EDITOR AT LARGE, "THE HILL": I think it's the first inning. We still don't know a lot. I largely agree with some of what Marc said, but I don't think it was necessarily a day we would have expected blood to be drawn from the first day.

And I think when you sort of look at this question, whether it's bribery, whether it is extortion, or whether it is a perfect phone call that's reasonable, what I was very surprised by was no Republicans that I heard really made the case that if the president had engaged in this conversation and discussion in this sort of transactional moment, that it would have been OK. What they rather did is they approached, you didn't hear what you thought you heard, Ambassador Taylor, or you really didn't understand the dimensions, or it's not really solvent.

So the Republicans are still leaving out there the possibility that they may come in and show that there was either a quid pro quo or some transaction, and that's a problem for Republicans because there are a lot of witnesses yet to come on. So I will keep my chips back, hold back a little bit.


BAIER: Sure, exactly. I guess what it all comes down to, though, Susan, up on Capitol Hill, as it always does, is the math and the adding of the votes.

SUSAN FERRECHIO, CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT, "WASHINGTON EXAMINER": It's a foregone conclusion now for a lot of people that impeachment will go through the House and then the conviction will not happen in the Senate. And then they will move on from there. The only questions now are the big timing and who it will impact politically.

And we don't know that. The polls just settled right where they have been around 47, 48 percent pro-impeachment, and the other half doesn't want it. It's very partisan, too. It's the Democrats are for it, the Republicans are against it. I talked to members this week who say we will do impeachment, we've heard all we need to hear.

I would look out for Monday's testimony by Gordon Sondland. He is the x- factor here, because he's been contested in his testimony. His lawyer tells me that on Monday we are going to hear a response to what these two employees claim they heard on the other side of that call.

BAIER: And I think that that is fascinating, first of all, that there's a call, two employees have heard it, it's in a restaurant on a cell phone with the president of United States, and now we're going to get this guy, Sondland, under oath. That's really --

THIESSEN: He may be in more trouble than the president, because it did something, violated --

CLEMONS: He's already done at once.

THIESSEN: If you want to sign up how this is going in the Republicans' favor, a few weeks ago the Senate Republicans were talking about how we are going to have a quick trial, might even have a motion to dismiss right away. "The Washington Post" is reporting now that some Senate Republicans are talking about a lengthy impeachment trial beginning in January to scribble the Democratic presidential race. Nobody would be talking like that if I thought this was bad for them. I think Republicans --

BAIER: That has Mitch McConnell written all over it.

THIESSEN: I think Republicans are starting to see that the impeachment is 2020 what the Kavanaugh hearings were to 2018 for the Senate, that this could help them hold the Senate, it's going to energize the base, and it could even help them hold the White House.

BAIER: We'll say it's inning one, to Steve's point, and we'll wait to pass judgment here on the panel.

I want to turn up political situation with Deval Patrick, the former Massachusetts governor, officially getting in this race.


PATRICK: I've been worried that we have this amazing moment where the appetite for solutions that meet the big challenges we have is right there, and I don't want to see us miss that chance.

CONWAY: When you see someone like Deval Patrick get in the presidential race today, no one nowhere is asking for one more candidate and asking for Deval Patrick to get in the race. I think it shows how desperate the Democrats are.


BAIER: At this point, Steve, we were thinking that it was going to narrow. It's expanding.

CLEMONS: We've got Mike Bloomberg flirting and we've got Deval Patrick, and I bet we see a couple of others before we get right before couple weeks.

BAIER: Where is the lane for Deval Patrick?

CLEMONS: Barack Obama.

BAIER: That's not Joe Biden, his former vice president?

CLEMONS: I think it throws -- I don't think Deval Patrick would be getting into this race if he thought that President Obama and his franchise were fully embracing Joe Biden. So I think what it does is it throws into doubt where Barack Obama and all of the people around him are going. We know how close they are. So I think it divides, at a minimum, Obama-land, to some degree. I think that's interesting. It doesn't necessarily give Deval Patrick a winning hand, and certainly it doesn't make it easy for him, but it throws in a doubt because some people are feeling as if Vice President Biden is faltering.

BAIER: As you look at the RCP average in the national, Iowa, and New Hampshire polls, and we've show that Mayor Pete Buttigieg is rising, one poll had him leading in Iowa, Susan. What does this do? Does Deval Patrick somehow take away from Biden and African-American support in South Carolina? Does it mix the race up? What happens?

FERRECHIO: It could if he gets into those early races. But with the satisfaction poll that came out with how many people are not satisfied with the number of candidates right now is about 28 percent. That's more than any of these candidates are earning right now in Iowa and New Hampshire. So what does that tell you?

BAIER: But wait a second, So you get Deval Patrick, Mike Bloomberg, Joe Biden, Mayor Pete splitting kind of on moderate lane of voters. Does this not empower Elizabeth Warren?

THIESSEN: It certainly does empower Elizabeth Warren. Joe Biden, he's making a run for the Obama voters, Deval Patrick is. Joe Biden has right now has 41 percent of African-American support. Cory Booker and Kamala Harris, who might have made a claim to that, have not been able to chip away at that. Deval Patrick may be able to do that.

And so what this is, this is a cry for help. This is a cry for help from the Democratic establishment that is looking at this race and seeing Joe Biden is old and fragile and not ready to go mano-a-mano with Donald Trump and the pummeling that he's going to get from Donald Trump and his machine. And they see Elizabeth Warren, who is embracing this far left agenda that gives no safe harbor to people who are suffering from Trump exhaustion.

And so the Democrats see this race slipping away from them, they are desperate for somebody else to come in, the leadership of the Democratic Party, and they think that Deval Patrick can grab that Obama lane, bring the African-American vote in the way Hillary couldn't.

BAIER: Kamala Harris and Cory Booker couldn't either.

FERRECHIO: And Patrick, what's his platform? Is going to embrace a platform like Warren's? He's a two-term governor from Massachusetts. His popularity went like this in the state. He was not always popular. He needs a platform that's winnable. That's the real problem with Democratic candidates.

CLEMONS: It makes Mike Bloomberg interesting because Mike Bloomberg in the billionaire lane, if you want to say, is nonetheless --


BAIER: With Tom Steyer.

CLEMONS: And you've got a lot of people that are supportive of Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren and the editor in chief of "Mother Jones" and others saying, hey, what we don't need is another billionaire in the race. But to a lot of independents and a lot of, I think, the folks that Marc is talking about, you've got an interest in someone who's a pragmatic problem solver. And it would be interesting to see a former Republican become a Democratic candidate, and Donald Trump, a former Democrat that's a Republican president.


BAIER: Who knows what next week may bring, another candidate. We'll see.

Next up, chaos, confusion, conflict in Latin America.



NICHOLAS BURNS, HARVARD KENNEDY SCHOOL: The massive income inequality between the rich and the middle class and the poor has bedeviled Latin America for long time.

MIKE GONZALEZ, HERITAGE FOUNDATION: We can say the continent is ground zero for the protracted battle between liberty and socialism. Whether you're talking about Chile or Bolivia or Ecuador or Venezuela, these are different manifestations, and they all have their own reasons for having come up.


BAIER: We've been doing these stories, but it's a huge issue just to our south in Latin America. If you look at a map, you've got Venezuela, demonstrations there against the Maduro socialist government over its collapsing economy. Bolivia, Evo Morales forced to resign this week. Chile, 20 killed, 2,500 injured, protests there over cost of living and income inequality. Argentina, protests in the streets about food crisis. Ecuador, violent protests over an austerity package. And Peru, the president there dissolved congress, seen as corrupt. Brazil, it's not noted there, Steve, but it's also tense as well.

CLEMONS: It's very, very tense. And I think right now, crisis down there it means that we are going to have crisis appear. One of the reasons why the border problems we have been having are bad because there's drugs, there's desperation. And we are going to see a lot more of it in this. And I've watched many presidential administrations looking at Latin America, and it's always the afterthought. If the part of the world that we take for granted, and it's the last thing, probably since Mack McLarty in the Clinton administration, who did take Latin America seriously, we haven't had anyone with her eyeballs on this area of the world.

BAIER: Marc?

THIESSEN: so I think what's happening in Latin America is not so much a battle between liberty and socialism but a battle between a narco-criminal, transnational syndicate, and democratic center-right governments. You've got Chile, Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, these are democratic, transparent countries siding with us, helping us to impose sanctions on the narco- traffickers. And then you've got this criminal enterprise led by Maduro and the Venezuelan regime backed by Cuba, Russia, China, and also until recently, Bolivia.

And they call themselves socialists, but what they really are is narco- capitalists. They're all for capitalism when it comes to criminal enterprise, and we tried to overthrow them in April, and it failed. And so what they're doing now is they are striking back against all the countries that supported us, that endorsed Guaido, that supported this effort, and they're fomenting unrest the way the Cubans always have throughout the hemisphere. So this is a battle against a criminal transnational enterprise that has stolen billions and billions of dollars at the expense of the people in Latin America.

BAIER: At one time Maduro's days were numbered, we just didn't know the number. It's now hundreds of days that he's still in power. And the economic output, Susan, is cut in half for Latin America. So the question is, does Congress get this, and what does the U.S. do about it?

FERRECHIO: Well, there's not allowed to be done when you're dealing with that level of corruption. We can't do anything in Venezuela. We tried and Maduro is still in power. They got a problem there where there's always going to be a role for socialism because so many people are poor that that will appeal to them, and then these socialist governments eventually fall apart because the leaders never want to step aside.

BAIER: But maybe help governments like Columbia that's not?


CLEMONS: That's the answer. Columbia is the answer, because Columbia was that mess before. We had transnational narco-crimes and violence and a kind of league of governments.

THIESSEN: It's the target.

CLEMONS: And so partly what you want to do is look at what the United States did and our allies with Columbia to turn that around, because you just can't leave this the mess it is and walk away and wall yourself off.

FERRECHIO: They need a strong economy, though. They depend on national resources. They do terrible things to their currency. They set things up so that it will fall apart once the price of gas decreases. Part of the problem is they don't have any good economic output that can keep them independent and stable.

BAIER: It's a story we are definitely going to continue to follow here because it's a big one. Panel, thank you.

When we come back, not even a world war could keep this couple apart.


BAIER: Finally tonight, we like to end this way, a heartwarming love story.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I loved her since I first saw her.


BAIER: John and Jean Lee Treitz met in 1941 at a dance at the University of Louisville. Their whirlwind love story had to be put on hold when John became a fighter pilot in World War II. They wrote to one another every day. They say they are still 600 letters in their attic. The veteran made it home, and they are, this week, celebrating 77 years of marriage. Happy anniversary to John and Jean Lee.

Thanks for inviting us into your home tonight. That's it for this “Special Report.”

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