PBS NewsHour Full Episode November 19, 2019

, , Leave a comment

AMNA NAWAZ: Good evening. I’m Amna Nawaz. Judy Woodruff is away. On the “NewsHour” tonight: LT. COL. ALEXANDER VINDMAN, Director for European Affairs,
National Security Council: Do not worry. I will be fine for telling the truth. AMNA NAWAZ: The impeachment hearings day three
features the first witnesses who listened to President Trump’s phone call at the center
of the impeachment inquiry. We break down the day’s highlights and why
they matter. Plus: Race Matters Solutions. As hate crimes rise across the country, teachers
develop tools necessary to stop white nationalists from recruiting their students. LINDSAY SCHUBINER, Western States Center:
We’re talking about young people who don’t yet have fully formed views and opinions about
the world. And that’s a big reason why white nationalists
and alt-right groups are working to recruit them. AMNA NAWAZ: All that and more on tonight’s
“PBS NewsHour.” (BREAK) AMNA NAWAZ: The third day of public impeachment
hearings brings four witnesses before the U.S. House Intelligence Committee. For the first time, we hear testimony from
individuals on the call between President Trump and Ukraine’s leader at the center of
the inquiry. Again, we see criticism of a witness as they
testify, this time from the official White House Twitter account. There is a lot to unpack. And here to break it down and look at the
highlights and why they matter, our Lisa Desjardins. She is at the Capitol and was in the hearing
room today. Yamiche Alcindor is at the White House. And Nick Schifrin is with me at the table
now. Lisa, I want to turn to you first, because
those first witnesses we heard from today were both on that call in July between President
Trump and President Zelensky. It prompted the whistle-blower’s report in
the first place. Let’s just take a quick listen to what those
witness, Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman and Jennifer Williams, had to say about that
call. LT. COL. ALEXANDER VINDMAN, Director for European Affairs,
National Security Council: I was concerned by the call. What I heard was inappropriate, and I reported
my concerns to Mr. Eisenberg. It is improper for the president of the United
States to demand a foreign government investigate a U.S. citizen and a political opponent. I was also clear that, if Ukraine pursued
an investigation — it was also clear that if Ukraine pursued an investigation into the
2016 election, the Bidens and Burisma, it would be interpreted as a partisan play. This would undoubtedly result in Ukraine losing
bipartisan support, undermining the U.S. national security, and advancing Russia’s strategic
objectives in the region. I want to emphasize to the committee that,
when I reported my concerns on July 10 relating to Ambassador Sondland, and on July 25 relating
to the president, I did so out of a sense of duty. DANIEL GOLDMAN, Democratic Counsel: Approximately
how many calls between the president — the president of the United States and foreign
leaders had you listened to? JENNIFER WILLIAMS, Russia Adviser to Vice
President Pence: I would say roughly a dozen. DANIEL GOLDMAN: Had you ever heard a call
like this? JENNIFER WILLIAMS: As I testified before,
I believe what I found unusual or different about this call was the president’s reference
to specific investigations. And that struck me as different than other
calls I had listened to. DANIEL GOLDMAN: You testified that you thought
it was political in nature. Why did you think that? JENNIFER WILLIAMS: I thought that the references
to specific individuals and investigations, such as former Vice President Biden and his
son, struck me as political in nature, given that the former vice president is a political
opponent of the president. AMNA NAWAZ: Lisa, you were in the hearing
room while those moments unfolded. We should also mention Lieutenant Colonel
Vindman is on the National Security Council staff. Jennifer Williams is an aide to Vice President
Pence. These — both of these witnesses, Lisa, were
called by Democrats. Why? What’s the case Democrats are making there? LISA DESJARDINS: Today, Democrats are trying
to focus on what they see as a central piece of evidence here, Amna, the phone call from
President Trump to President Zelensky of the Ukraine in July. And, here, they have first two people we have
heard from publicly who listened in on that call in real time. And what’s more, Democrats’ point here is,
both of these officials, who were not politically appointed, had immediate concerns. Democrats also have raised today throughout
the hearings with Lieutenant Colonel Vindman and with another witness, Tim Morrison, who
we will talk about more later, that those individuals raised their concerns up the chain
very quickly, that they felt there were so serious. And, Amna, really important part of that sound
that you just played, Jennifer Williams’ conclusion that this was political, because it’s not
just about the president asking for investigations. It’s about his motivations. And there you have a professional staffer,
who herself is trying not to be political, say, that she felt, when the Bidens were mentioned,
it was political, because it was an opponent of the president. That is the core of the case that Democrats
are trying to make for impeachment. And, today, they were trying to connect those
dots and make it real with the officials who heard it as it happened. AMNA NAWAZ: And that brings us to Yamiche
over at the White House. Yamiche, both of those witnesses testified
they had concerns about the president’s behavior on that call. What does this mean for the White House? YAMICHE ALCINDOR: Well, this is problematic
for the White House, because, before today, Republicans and the president were making
the case that these were not people coming before Congress that were actually on the
call that had concerns. Today changed that. These were people who had heard President
Trump on the — on phone calls with other foreign leaders and felt that the July 25
phone call between him and the president of Ukraine was unusual and improper. That other, also, thing that’s problematic
is, the White House has basically had the stance that no one should come before Congress. Instead, you have these two people who currently
still work at the White House come before Congress to air their grievances. The other thing to note is, the president
has been attacking both of these individuals. He’s been saying that they were never-Trumpers. But both of them came and said, we are essentially
apolitical. We are not here for one party or another. Instead, we’re here out of a sense of duty. That’s different than what President Trump
is saying. He also said that he thought Republicans did
very well when it came to questioning these witnesses. So, the president is pushing back on this
narrative that Democrats really feel like they have, in these two individuals, star
witnesses, people who can really tell the story from a firsthand account. AMNA NAWAZ: And for anyone who wasn’t able
to follow along with the day’s proceedings, Lieutenant Colonel Vindman actually began
the day by including much of his personal story in his opening statement. Nick Schifrin here with me. I want to ask you about this in a moment. We should point out Vindman was featured in
a Ken Burns documentary at one point. His family’s story were — was, rather. Let’s just take a listen to part of that documentary
and then hear what Lieutenant Colonel Vindman had to say this morning. CHILD: We came from Kiev. And then we went to… CHILD: Our mother died, so we went to Italy. Then we came here. LT. COL. ALEXANDER VINDMAN: When my father was 47 years
old, he left behind his entire life and the only home he had ever known to start over
in the United States, so his three sons could have better and safer lives. His courageous decision inspired a deep sense
of gratitude IN my brothers and myself and instilled in us a sense of duty and service. All three of us have served or are currently
serving in the military. My little brother is behind me here today. I — our collective military service is a
special part of our family’s history, story in America. I also recognize that my simple act of appearing
here today, just like the courage of my colleagues who have also truthfully testified before
this committee, would not be tolerated in many places around the world. In Russia, my act of expressing concern to
the chain of command in an official and private channel would have severe personal and professional
repercussions. And offering public testimony involving the
president would surely cost me my life. I’m grateful to my father’s — for my father’s
brave act of hope 40 years ago and for the privilege of being an American citizen and
public servant, where I can live free, and free of fear for mine and my family’s safety. Dad, I’m sitting here today in the U.S. Capitol. Talking to our elected professionals — talking
to our elected professionals is proof that you made the right decision 40 years ago to
leave the Soviet Union and come here to the United States of America, in search of a better
life for our family. Do not worry. I will be fine for telling the truth. AMNA NAWAZ: Nick, it was an incredibly compelling
moment, incredibly compelling piece of testimony, really personal. Who is Lieutenant Colonel Vindman? What do we know about him? NICK SCHIFRIN: He and his brother, as we saw
in that Ken Burns documentary, and the other brother, who we didn’t see in the documentary,
are Jewish immigrants from Ukraine from the former Soviet Union. And the father that he mentions there came
to the United States with $700 in cash and nothing else, and has seen his sons grow into
members of the National Security Council staff. Currently, Vindman is lieutenant colonel,
a foreign area officer in the Army. It’s basically equivalent of an Army diplomat,
or the closest thing that the Army has to diplomats. They have area expertise or country expertise. In Vindman’s case, of course, it’s Ukraine
and Russia. These people are groomed to be defense attaches,
groomed to serve in embassies. And Vindman has served in both Kiev and Moscow. And that goes to some of the requirements
for these foreign area officers, which is language. Vindman speaks both Ukrainian and Russian. And the military is proud to have these people. They find — the military finds that these
people are incredibly important, the language, the area expertise, and they groom them to
really be stars within the military. And Secretary Esper, the defense secretary,
recently came out to defend Vindman. There’s some concern that Vindman would speak
out against the president. He used very specific language, very critical
language of the president. Secretary Esper recently said that Vindman
shouldn’t have any fear of rejection at all. So, the military really defending him. And later, in his testimony, Vindman was asked,
why are you willing to criticize the commander in chief, the most powerful man in the world? And why did you tell your dad not to worry? His simple answer: This is America. This is a place where I can speak out and
even criticize the president. AMNA NAWAZ: It’s striking, the secretary — to
say he will be fine for testifying in this way, which brings me to Yamiche back at the
White House. You have got some additional reporting around
this, Yamiche, I’d love for you to share here. Are there concerns about any fallout, any
repercussions for Lieutenant Colonel Vindman for speaking as forcefully and clearly as
he did today? YAMICHE ALCINDOR: Sources close to Lieutenant
Colonel Vindman told me that an official, high-ranking official from the Army has actually
called his family and reassured them that Lieutenant Colonel Vindman will not face any
sort of retaliation. And that’s important to note, because Army
Lieutenant Colonel Vindman is actually essentially deployed to the White House. This is an Army assignment for him. He’s not someone who came and worked for the
White House as a political appointee. But, rather, this is in some ways — this
is in some ways his — part of his service as an Army officer. And as a result, this is a sort of deployment
to him. So, when you think about that, it’s — the
Army is feeling under so much pressure that they want to make sure they reach out to him
and say, look, in your time where you think that you’re doing what’s best for your country,
where you’re putting yourself out there and testifying publicly, we want you to know that
we have your back. That’s incredibly important. I think it’s also important that we — to
note that Vindman put his story as an immigrant, his family’s story as an American story, at
the center of his testimony today. And there are critics of the president who
say this is a president who has had real issues when it comes to immigration, who has, in
some ways, people think, challenged the very idea of America welcoming immigrants from
all parts of the world. And now you have a lieutenant Army colonel
coming before Congress and saying, as — this is my duty as an American to come forward
and tell you that I have concerns with the president of the United States. I can’t underscore enough how important that
is and also how important it is that the Army wanted to make sure that he knew that they
— that they — that military service, that military agency has his back. That’s — that’s incredibly important here. AMNA NAWAZ: Yamiche, at the same time, it’s
worth noting that he took some tough questions from Republican members of Congress today. Let’s just play a quick exchange, show some
of those questions that Lieutenant Colonel Vindman faced. And I’d like to ask you about them on the
back end. REP. CHRIS STEWART (R-UT): Lieutenant Colonel Vindman,
I see you’re wearing your dress uniform, knowing that’s not the uniform of the day, that you
normally wear a suit to the White House. I think it’s a great reminder of your military
service. I too come from a military family. These are my father’s Air Force wings. He was a pilot in World War II. Five of his sons served in the military. So, as one military family to another, thank
you and your brothers for your service, your example here. Very quickly, I’m curious. When Ranking Member Nunes referred to you
as Mr. Vindman, you quickly corrected him and wanted to be called Lieutenant Colonel
Vindman. Do you always insist on civilians on calling
you by your rank? LT. COL. ALEXANDER VINDMAN: Mr. Stewart, Representative
Stewart, I am in uniform wearing my military rank. I just thought it was appropriate to stick
with that. REP. CHRIS STEWART: Well, I assure you he meant
no disrespect. (CROSSTALK) LT. COL. ALEXANDER VINDMAN: I don’t believe he did. But the attacks that I have had in the press,
in Twitter have kind of eliminated the fact — either marginalizing me as a military officer
or… (CROSSTALK) REP. CHRIS STEWART: Listen, I just — I’m just
telling you that the ranking member meant no disrespect to you. LT. COL. ALEXANDER VINDMAN: I believe that. DONALD TRUMP, President of the United States:
I don’t know him. I don’t know, as he says, the lieutenant colonel. I understood somebody had the misfortune of
calling him Mr., and he corrected them. I never saw the man. I understand now he wears his uniform when
he goes in. No, I don’t know Vindman at all. What I do know is that even he said that the
transcript was correct. AMNA NAWAZ: Yamiche, that, of course, was
President Trump when he was asked about Lieutenant Colonel Vindman in a Cabinet meeting earlier
today. What did you make of the way the president
and the White House responded to his testimony? YAMICHE ALCINDOR: Well, the president was
really trying to put some distance between him and Army Colonel Vindman — Army Lieutenant
Colonel Vindman. But let’s remember that the president has
been lashing out at Vindman. He’s been saying that he’s a never-Trumper. So, he was really attacking his character. We saw the official White House Twitter account
go after Vindman, quoting his superiors saying that he had concerns about his judgment, though,
when Vindman was asked specifically about that, he said: Actually, I have a evaluation
from work that says that I’m actually a very good Army officer, and that I actually have
good remarks. But the White House didn’t acknowledge that. Instead, the president went after him. And Republicans largely didn’t go after Vindman’s
character today. But the president has been very consistent
in the fact that he’s been going after him. And I think what the president was doing today
was essentially saying, look, I understand that he might be in the Army, but I also think
that he was nitpicking a bit there. So you saw the president trying to, in some
ways, walk a fine line by saying, I don’t really know him. But, in fact, the president has been tweeting
over the last couple of days and even weeks that he is essentially very angry at Vindman
and wanted to disparage his character. AMNA NAWAZ: Lisa, take us back inside the
hearing room now. Republicans spent a lot of time questioning
Lieutenant Colonel Vindman. Talk to me about their strategy in the moment. What was it you think they were working towards
in that line of questioning? LISA DESJARDINS: I think Republicans know
that Lieutenant Colonel Vindman feels strongly and that he is — has some very sincere beliefs
there. But they wanted to question his credibility
on a number of levels. And I think part of that was, talking to one
Republican lawmaker, thinking this might be a staffer who just went overboard in his theory. They raised questions about how his co-workers
have seen him in the past. Lieutenant Colonel Vindman was ready for that. He brought a — brought one of his own past
evaluations. But I think, for Democrats, they have always
seen Vindman’s testimony as some of the strongest. So it was important for Republicans to say,
hey, wait a minute. Not only is this someone that we’re going
to question his credibility, but they also question his function in the White House,
bringing up that he, for example, has never personally met with the president. Vindman also countered that and said, yes,
but I have prepared many documents for him. I am, of course, staffer to him. But Republicans, again, are trying to show
this is not the direct link that Democrats say it is. That is part of the debate that they’re having. AMNA NAWAZ: Lisa, there was another particularly
tense moment in the back and forth there in Republicans’ questioning of Lieutenant Colonel
Vindman, when it looked like they were getting towards the identity of the whistle-blower. Chairman Schiff actually had to intervene
at one point and try to straighten things out. Explain to us what happened in the moment
and why it’s important. LISA DESJARDINS: That’s exactly right. Lieutenant Colonel Vindman is thought by many
to be a person who probably briefed the whistle-blower. This is because we know the whistle-blower,
from their own complaint, was not actually on the original call with President Zelensky
and Trump, but instead heard about it from someone else. We know that the Lieutenant Colonel Vindman
did brief others. And the idea from Republicans is, they say
they want to know who the whistle-blower is because they question whether the whistle-blower
is biased. Democrats say, no, Republicans just want to
out this person for political reasons. Whatever the rationale is, Republicans today
were going down the road of asking Lieutenant Colonel Vindman, who is it that you spoke
to about this? Who did you brief? That is information Democrats believe could
reveal the whistle-blower. Vindman says he himself does not know who
the whistle-blower is. But he didn’t say whether he has suspicions
of who it could be. He did say he’s following guidance of the
committee to not talk about this, as per Chairman Schiff’s rules. That’s something that Republicans object to. AMNA NAWAZ: That, of course, was the testimony
from this morning’s panel. Nick, this afternoon, we saw two new witnesses,
one of whom, Ambassador Kurt — Kurt Volker, rather, had a few things to say about the
Bidens and also about the Ukrainian company that Hunter Biden served on the board of. That is Burisma. Let’s take a listen to what he had to say. KURT VOLKER, Former U.S. Special Representative
for Ukraine: There is a history of corruption in Ukraine. There’s a history with the company of Burisma. It’s been investigated. That is well-known. There is a separate allegation about the vice
president acting inappropriately. His son was a board member of this company. But those things I saw as completely distinct. And what I was trying to do in working with
the Ukrainians was to thread a needle, to see whether things that they can do that are
appropriate and reasonable as part of Ukraine’s own policy of fighting corruption that helped
clarify for our president that they are committed to that very — that very effort. If there’s a way to thread that needle, I
thought it was worth the effort to try to solve that problem. As it turns out, I now understand that most
of the other people didn’t see or didn’t consider this distinction, that, for them, it was synonymous. AMNA NAWAZ: Nick, we heard Ambassador Volker
say that a few times, this threading the needle idea. What did you make of his testimony? NICK SCHIFRIN: This is the story of the failure
of traditional diplomacy and the triumph of the irregular policy when it comes to Ukraine. So, he tries to distinguish between Burisma
and Biden. So, let’s do that for a second. Burisma, the largest energy company in Ukraine,
notoriously corrupt. After 2014, when the Brits and the Americans
moved into Ukraine and tried to help with corruption in Ukraine, the very first company
that the Brits investigated was Burisma. And there was a Ukrainian investigation into
Burisma that got stopped. And so that leaves us with Burisma. Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, was on the
board of Burisma while the vice president was working on Ukraine policy. And we have — we have heard that a lot from
Republicans. What Trump is — or what Ambassador Volker
is trying to say is that he thought that the Ukrainians should investigate Burisma and
investigate the Ukrainians on Burisma. What the president was trying to do is investigate
Burisma in order to investigate Hunter Biden and Joe Biden. It is the difference between the Trump administration
policy of investigating corruption in Ukraine and President Trump’s own policy when it comes
to who to investigate in Ukraine in terms of corruption. And Volker admitted today for the first time
that he failed, that he said, in hindsight, he should have realized that other people
weren’t making the distinction and that, for other people, Burisma meant Biden, because
the single person that he failed to convince was President Trump. He finally admitted that President Trump did
not make that distinguishing, and that he should have, and he would have done policy
different. Of course, the story of why we’re here is
that that distinguishing point was never made for President Trump, and he didn’t believe
in it. AMNA NAWAZ: A fascinating revelation to hear. Of course, that was one piece of testimony
from one witness. The other, Lisa, I want to ask you about was
Tim Morrison. He was the former senior director for Russia
and Europe on the National Security Council. Let’s just take a listen to part of his testimony. DANIEL GOLDMAN: On September 7, you spoke
again to Ambassador Sondland, who told you that he had just gotten off the phone with
President Trump. Isn’t that right? TIM MORRISON, Former Senior Director for Russia
and Europe, National Security Council: That sounds correct, yes. DANIEL GOLDMAN: What did Ambassador Sondland
tell you that President Trump said to him? TIM MORRISON: If I recall this conversation
correctly, this was where Ambassador Sondland related that there was no quid pro quo, but
President Zelensky had to make the statement and that he had to want to do it. DANIEL GOLDMAN: And, by that point, did you
understand that the statement related to the — Biden and 2016 investigations? TIM MORRISON: I think I did, yes. DANIEL GOLDMAN: And that that was a — essentially
a condition for the security assistance to be released? TIM MORRISON: I understood that that’s what
Ambassador Sondland believed. DANIEL GOLDMAN: After speaking with President
Trump? TIM MORRISON: That’s what he represented. AMNA NAWAZ: Lisa, what did you make of that
exchange? LISA DESJARDINS: That was a very important
exchange. You’re going to hear Democrats talk about
that a lot. And you’re going to hear a lot about it tomorrow,
when Mr. Sondland testifies. And what is happening here is, Tim Morrison
is recalling a conversation that Ambassador Sondland testified he didn’t recall. And it’s an important conversation, Sondland
passing on basically that this — there’s a connection between the security assistance
and the investigations, after he spoke to the president. And Sondland, in his testimony, said he didn’t
recall that connection. And he just has stressed the president said
no quid pro quo. So that’s important testimony from Mr. Morrison. It has been a day of ups and downs for both
sides. And I think we’re going to get more of that
tomorrow. AMNA NAWAZ: Yamiche, Lisa just mentioned we
are going to hear from Ambassador Sondland tomorrow. Look ahead for us. What do we expect in day four of the public
impeachment proceedings? YAMICHE ALCINDOR: The European ambassador,
Ambassador Sondland, is going to be in some ways a star witness for both sides, because
both sides don’t exactly know what they want to get out of him or what they might get out
of him and how he might help their cases. But both of them desperately want to ask him
questions, because he was in direct contact with President Trump multiple times. Now, the White House has been telling me,
as well as our producer — our White House producer, Meredith Lee, that this is really
all about — all about the Democrats wanting to overthrow the 2016 election, wanting to
overturn the election results, and wanting to really get President Trump out of office. But Ambassador Sondland is someone who is
an ally of the president. He donated more than a million dollars to
President Trump’s political campaign. He was then appointed ambassador to the European
Union. So, we have to really watch closely about
how Ambassador Sondland answers some of these questions about what President Trump directly
told him to say, because, by his own admission, he said that he told Ukrainian officials,
look, we need to get this investigation into the Bidens started in order for you to get
that military aid, that $391 million in military aid. So, tomorrow is going to be probably, if not
one of the most important days, possibly the most important day, because this is someone
who can speak directly to what President Trump was telling him to do and how he was telling
him to make the case to the Ukrainians. AMNA NAWAZ: Another busy day on Capitol Hill. Thanks to you, Yamiche Alcindor, at the White
House, Lisa Desjardins down on Capitol Hill, and Nick Schifrin here with me. The Judiciary Committee is ultimately responsible
for deciding if impeachment charges will be brought against the president. And we turn now to two members of that committee. First up, Republican Congressman Mike Johnson
of Louisiana. Congressman, thank you so much for being with
me today. I wanted to ask you, over three days of testimony,
has anything that you have heard or anything you have seen in any of the transcripts that
have been released moved the needle for you on the decision to bring charges or not? REP. MIKE JOHNSON (R-LA): It hasn’t yet. And I can tell you that there is a high degree
of frustration amongst members of the House Judiciary Committee. As you mention, we’re the committee that has
the appropriate jurisdiction over the impeachment proceeding, but that jurisdiction was effectively
taken away from us and yielded to these other committees. To this date, even though I am the ranking
member of the Constitution Subcommittee and I serve on the House Judiciary, I have not
had the opportunity to review all of the evidence that’s been gathered in the secret hearings
they were having in the basement and everything we have heard so much about. What we have seen publicly and the transcripts
that have been released, I think, right now, what we’re having is an endless debate about
individuals’ opinions who didn’t speak directly with the president, who have — involved a
lot of hearsay and who are talking about a transcript that every single American has
the option to read for themselves. No one has said the transcript is inaccurate. And, to date, I just haven’t seen anything
that rises to the level of impeachable conduct. AMNA NAWAZ: Well, Congressman, we will be
hearing from some people who had direct contact and conversations with the president as the
inquiry moves on. But I want to ask you about testimony today,
which was from Ambassador Kurt Volker. He is, of course, a witness called by your
Republican colleagues on the committee. And he defended Vice President Biden. He said that he didn’t believe he was corrupt
in his dealings with Ukraine. What did you make of this testimony? REP. MIKE JOHNSON: Well, I didn’t hear all of it
because some of us are still trying to work on Capitol Hill while they’re doing all the
rest of this. We had other committee hearings today and
other things going on. I heard a snapshot, a summary of what he said. And, look, his opinion, his personal opinion
about Joe Biden, is not really relevant to what’s going on here today. I mean, that is interesting, but it doesn’t
have much to do with impeaching the president of the United States. The thing that concerns us is that this was
— is a predetermined political outcome. I think everybody can look at that and acknowledge
it. There was a vote back in December of 2017,
where 58 House Democrats went on record to say they wanted to begin impeaching the president. They have changed the narrative many times
since then until now. Now we’re talking about a phone call with
Zelensky. But there’s been different reason, different
narratives, different theories. They’re all trying to get to the same end. And this is to get rid of Donald Trump. This should be a very serious thing to the
American people. It’s why the founders had impeachment listed
as something that would be an exceedingly rare event. I think that what they’re doing right now
is frustrating the American people. And I think you’re beginning to hear that
out across the land. AMNA NAWAZ: Well, let me ask you about something
we did hear about, which was during the testimony of Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman today. You and your representatives — your Republican
colleagues on the Judiciary Committee have sent a letter to Chairman Nadler yesterday
expressing concerns about his credibility. And it seems like a good portion of Republicans’
questioning of him today actually focused on that. Why spend so much time attacking the credibility
of Lieutenant Colonel Vindman? REP. MIKE JOHNSON: I don’t know what the idea of
the theory was behind the investment of time on that. But I do think the credibility of witnesses
is important, that what Republicans are frustrated about is the lopsided nature of all of these
hearings. We’re not able to call all the witnesses that
we want. We’re not, as has been said so many times,
allowed a proper cross-examination. Witnesses have been instructed by Chairman
Schiff not to answer certain questions. And that — that’s problematic for us. So there’s a lot of — a lot of members are
venting their frustration. They’re trying to make sure that the rule
of law is complied with here. And I think that process and that procedure
is really, really important. It’s important to know where a witness is
coming from, what their background is, and all of that. I’m personally fine with the credibility of
this witness. It’s not that is my chief concern. My concern is that he’s talking about these
notions and ideas, and he never spoke with the president himself. To date, the only person who’s testified is
Ambassador Sondland, who had a direct conversation with the president. And he said he asked the president expressly,
what do you want from Ukraine, and he said, I want nothing. I want no quid pro quo. I want them to do the right thing. That’s pretty clear to me. And that’s why the president has so much confidence
in the transcript. AMNA NAWAZ: And we will hear from Ambassador
Sondland tomorrow, I should point out. You spoke about potential witnesses. And I’d like to ask you about the president,
who has said that he would strongly consider providing written answers to impeachment investigators. Would you recommend that he do that? REP. MIKE JOHNSON: Look, I’m not his counsel. I used to be a lawyer, but I’m not anymore. I’m just a member of the House Judiciary Committee. I — look, the president is anxious, I think,
to share the truth. He has been, in his view, doing that over
and over. He released the transcript. He didn’t have to do that. And he says it’s accurate, as does everyone
else. So, if he wants to elaborate upon that, I
mean, that’s his choice. I know his frustration. I have spoken with him about it myself in
recent days. And he shares that openly with others, because
he’s really tired of the way this has all developed. And I don’t blame him. AMNA NAWAZ: What many have testified to, though,
so far is that the president sought help from a foreign nation to investigate a domestic
political rival. Does any part of that concern you? REP. MIKE JOHNSON: Look, the context is important. The real facts are still coming out. We don’t know exactly how that went down. But if the president was seeking to root out
corruption, and it was a an effort at anti-corruption, to have Ukraine, who is listed on everyone’s
list as one of the most corrupt nations, to get down to the bottom of this, to ensure
that U.S. taxpayer dollars are not misspent overseas, I think that’s a commendable thing. I think he has a fiduciary obligation, as
the commander in chief of this nation, to do nothing less than that. And I think that’s why a lot of the American
people applaud it. AMNA NAWAZ: Congressman Mike Johnson, a Republican
from Louisiana, thank you so much for your time. REP. MIKE JOHNSON: Thank you. Appreciate it. AMNA NAWAZ: And now we get a view from the
other side of the aisle and the majority on the Judiciary Committee, Representative Pramila
Jayapal, a Democrat from the state of Washington. Congresswoman, welcome back to the “NewsHour.” And thank you for making the time today. I want to ask you about what several witnesses
have testified to. The words they have used so far have been
improper or inappropriate with regards to the president’s behavior or interaction, specifically
on that July 25 call. There is a difference between those words
and impeachable. Have you seen anything so far that rises to
the level of an impeachable offense? REP. PRAMILA JAYAPAL (D-WA): Well, I think what
really stuns me is that my Republican colleagues would think that a president’s actions, bribing
a foreign government to interfere in our elections by digging up dirt on a political rival, and
withholding aid that Congress appropriated — that’s taxpayer money, by the way, that
Congress appropriated to Ukraine. I just can’t believe that my Republican colleagues
are arguing that that is not a high crime and misdemeanor. I mean, bribery is clearly laid out. But it is disturbing to me to see the lengths
to which the Republicans are standing up for this president and putting party over country. That is really difficult for me to understand,
as somebody that swore an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution, as did my Republican
colleagues. I am — I think it’s a sad day that they can
listen to all of this testimony, which provides corroborating evidence over and over and over
again, from people who were directly on that call with President Trump — that’s what we
heard today — but, again, over and over evidence that shows that the president has betrayed
national security and violated our Constitution. AMNA NAWAZ: Congresswoman, you mentioned the
word bribery. Speaker Pelosi last week had said — quote
— “The devastating testimony corroborated evidence of bribery uncovered in the inquiry.” Is it a bribery charge with which you plan
to move forward? REP. PRAMILA JAYAPAL: Well, we don’t know exactly
what the charges will be. As you know, I’m on the Judiciary Committee. Our role now is to wait and get the reports
from the different committees. We will have due process. We will have — the president’s counsel will
be able to testify, if he wants to do so. And then we will look at all of that on the
Judiciary Committee, and we will decide if we are going forward with impeachment articles. And we will then look at what those articles
will be. I will just tell you that the evidence is
damning. But the thing that is most damning is the
testimony from the earliest witness, the first witness to testify to the American people. And that was Donald Trump, who he himself
said: This is what I did. I withheld aid. I went and asked for an investigation, a public
investigation, from a very fragile country. Let’s not forget the situation that Ukraine
is in and what this actually does to our leadership role in the world, when you have the most
powerful country essentially saying, I’m not going to give you the aid you need, much less
the meeting at the White House, unless you agree to investigate my political rival. That should be untenable for every Democrat
and every Republican. AMNA NAWAZ: Congresswoman, let me ask you
about something else. Now the House is investigating whether or
not President Trump lied to special counsel Robert Mueller during the Russia investigation. Could what is uncovered in that probe eventually
become part of the impeachment proceedings as well? REP. PRAMILA JAYAPAL: Everything is on the table,
is what I would say to that. We are trying to make sure we get all the
facts that we need. At the same time, we understand that speed
is of the essence, and we are going to take the things that are most unfolding in front
of us. Now, there is evidence that was presented
to us by Robert Mueller. In fact, I questioned Robert Mueller directly
on the charges within the Mueller report of witness intimidation and witness tampering. Let’s not forget that these things that we’re
seeing in Ukraine are part of a pattern, continual pattern of the president acting in a certain
way. Certainly, witness intimidation, lying, obstruction
of Congress, obstruction of justice, these are all patterns of this president. AMNA NAWAZ: But let me ask you about — by
broadening that, by saying everything is on the table, do you worry it plays into the
accusation that this is a witch-hunt, that you will — you will just do whatever you
can to bring a charge eventually? REP. PRAMILA JAYAPAL: No. I mean, when I say everything is on the table,
I’m saying we haven’t prejudged any outcomes here. What is important is the facts and the truth. That is what these witnesses have been about. We are waiting in Judiciary to get the information
from the committees. We will have due process. But I just have to tell you that the — and
I will say that I think the ultimate article, should there be any, will be narrow and targeted,
because we understand that this is about the Constitution, one thing and one thing only. It’s not about whether we like the president’s
policies. It’s not about whether we — you know, we
agree with him or disagree with them. It is about the Constitution and whether he
has betrayed the Constitution. And so that is what we will be focusing on. AMNA NAWAZ: Congresswoman, you have promised
due process. You have always said — you have also said
the time is of the essence. So, you have got two more days of public hearings
this week, five more witnesses. Then what? What is the timeline moving forward? When do you hope that these proceedings would
be wrapped up? REP. PRAMILA JAYAPAL: Well, I think that the timeline
is as it unfolds. I know that’s not a very satisfactory answer,
but I do think that we on the Judiciary Committee want to be sure that we are getting the full
information from the Intel Committee and from the other committees of jurisdiction, so we
will wait for them to wrap it up. I will say that there’s nothing — what is
so compelling about these witnesses is how incredibly credible they are, I mean, a decorated
Purple Heart lieutenant colonel that testified today, Vindman, you know, dedicated career
servants who have testified. And so they are adding color and they are
corroborating the story. But I will say that the facts are still the
facts, and they haven’t really changed substantially, except for the corroboration. So, I think there will be a point at which
Adam Schiff says, I think we have got what we need, and it tells the complete story,
and now we’re going to send this over to Judiciary. AMNA NAWAZ: Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal,
a Democrat from Washington, thank you very much for your time. REP. PRAMILA JAYAPAL: Thank you. AMNA NAWAZ: And our live impeachment hearing
coverage continues tomorrow and Thursday. That’s starting at 9:00 a.m. Eastern, 8:00 Central. Check your local TV listings, and also find
us streaming online on Facebook, Twitter, and on our YouTube pages. In the day’s other news: The U.S. House of
Representatives approved a short-term spending bill to prevent a government shutdown on Friday. It would keep federal agencies running through
December 20, buying more time to work out a final spending package. The Senate is on track to pass it, and President
Trump had indicated he will sign it. In Hong Kong, a handful of protesters remained
holed up at a university today, besieged by police. Overnight, some tried to escape down ropes. Others walked out wearing masks and emergency
blankets. Hours later, some wrote an SOS on the ground
in a plea for help. Police have already arrested more than 1,000
people since the siege began on Sunday. There’s word that more than 100 protesters
in Iran have been killed in a crackdown. Amnesty International says it based the number
on credible reports after mass protests over gasoline prices. Today, state TV showed empty streets with
burned-out mosques and vandalized bank machines. An Internet blackout remained in force, but
a United Nations spokesman called for Tehran to explain itself. RUPERT COLVILLE, Spokesman, United Nations
High Commissioner for Human Rights: It would be very useful to have a better, clearer picture. But it is clearly very significant, very alarming
situation and widespread across the country. We would encourage states to maintain the
flow of information. If there’s false information, they can rebut
it, but let’s see the information. AMNA NAWAZ: So far, the Iranian government
has not given any public accounting of the death toll. Thousands of Lebanese protesters converged
in Central Beirut today, preventing Parliament from meeting. They blocked roads and chased SUVs trying
to bring one lawmaker to government buildings. Scuffles broke out with riot police, who tried
to disperse the crowds. Protesters were outraged that legislators
intended to meet without discussing demands for reforms. In Afghanistan, the Taliban today wrote — freed,
rather, two Western hostages who had been held since 2016. American Kevin King and Australian Timothy
Weeks were teachers at the American University in Kabul when they were kidnapped. Their release came after the Afghan government
released three top Taliban commanders. More than 100 fires burned across Australia’s
east coast today, engulfing the city of Sydney in smoke. The heavy haze prompted health warnings for
some five million people. Air quality was 10 times the hazardous level
caused by atmospheric conditions that held the smoke in place. SHANE FITZSIMMONS, New South Wales Rural Fire
Commissioner: We have got this real mix of converging winds today. And you can see the smoke impact into the
Sydney Basin, for example, today. That’s because we have got quite a northerly
influence influencing down the coast of New South Wales and across the inland. AMNA NAWAZ: Strong winds and drought conditions
have stoked wildfires across Eastern Australia this month, destroying more than 300 homes. Back in this country, meanwhile, several thousand
public school teachers in Indiana surrounded the state capitol building. The educators, all in red, demanded a hike
in pay and an end to using student test scores to evaluate teachers and schools. The scale of the protest forced nearly half
of Indiana school districts to close for the day. Two jail guards in New York have pleaded not
guilty to falsifying prison records in the death of Jeffrey Epstein. He hanged himself in his city jail cell last
August, awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges. The guards entered their pleas after a grand
jury indictment alleged that they failed to check on Epstein for nearly eight hours. Instead, it says, they were shopping online
and sleeping. President Trump insisted today that his unscheduled
health exam on Saturday was — quote — “routine” and not prompted by specific concerns. He had the exam at Walter Reed National Military
Medical Center. At his Cabinet meeting today, he dismissed
suggestions that he might be hiding a health problem. DONALD TRUMP, President of the United States:
I went, did a very routine — just a piece of it. The rest of it takes place in January. Did a very routine physical, visited the family,
visited a couple of groups, but visited the family of a young soldier who was very badly
injured who was in the operating room. I toured the hospital for a little while. I was out of there very quickly and got back
home. And I get greeted with the news that, we understand
that you had a heart attack. AMNA NAWAZ: Late on Monday, Mr. Trump’s personal
physician issued his own statement that the checkup was routine. New York state is now the latest state to
sue the nation’s biggest e-cigarette maker, Juul Labs. The legal action filed today alleges that
Juul engaged in deceptive marketing and deliberately targeted teenagers. California filed a similar suit yesterday,
and North Carolina took that step last May. And on Wall Street today, the market posted
mixed results. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 102
points to close at 27934. The Nasdaq rose 20 points, and the S&P 500
was down just under two points. Last week, the FBI reported that hate crime
violence in the country is at a 16-year high. In 2018, there were more than 4,500 such crimes,
assaults that were motivated in part or in whole by racial, ethnic or religious bias,
as well as discrimination against gender and sexual orientation. The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights also reported
that the highest percentage of all reported hate incidents since the 2016 election were
in elementary and secondary schools. “NewsHour” special correspondent Charlayne
Hunter-Gault looks at how this problem has played out in Northwest Oregon and how teachers
are learning to intervene earlier. It’s part of our education coverage Making
the Grade and the latest in our Race Matters series looking at solutions to racism. A warning: This story contains some offensive
and troubling images. CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: At schools just like
Southridge High near Portland, Oregon, educators say white nationalists are making inroads,
but also infiltrating nationwide from online. They’re co-opting otherwise innocent images
like helicopters, cartoon frogs, and the OK sign, incorporating them widely into racist
images and videos. And they’re showing up alongside more familiar
hate symbols in unlikely places. WOMAN: KCAL Orange County reporter Stacey
Butler is live tonight in Newport Beach with that story. CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: A swastika made out
of red Solo cups at a high school party in California, apparent Nazi salutes in a prom
photo in Wisconsin, the OK sign, which some use as a hand sign for white power, flashed
in high school yearbooks at schools near Chicago, forcing costly reprints. MAN: OK. TRISTAN MADRON, Student: It’s not specifically
alt-right. It just can be used in that way, but it can
also be used in many other ways. Southridge high school senior Tristan Madron
says many young people are sucked in with dark humor. TRISTAN MADRON: People treat it almost in
a joking manner. CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: Like? TRISTAN MADRON: Like, I don’t know, black
people are ruining the country, you know, stuff like that. I have seen new iterations of the N-word,
sort of treating it like, hah-hah, this is a funny joke. What if we drag someone by a car across the
street? CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: Online forums can
often pull students in deeper. One student who didn’t want to be identified
told us that a friend even communicated with the Christchurch, New Zealand, shooter before
he murdered 51 people, the student thinking it was all a joke. STUDENT: It was in between the first and second
shootings, but he didn’t know that this was happening. And he was like, the second shooting has commenced
or whatever, like blah, blah, blah. And then he heard about it. And he was like, wait. Like, that was, like, real? That was something that he was telling all
of us. CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: At Southridge itself,
students recently spray-painted the football field with swastikas. School officials investigated, but never found
the culprits, and some students were left feeling uneasy. EMONEY PERRY-REID, Student: It’s like, I’m
Jewish and I’m also black. So, seeing that kind of stuff and knowing
that I go to the school — I go to school with these people who don’t like a part of
me scares me. PATRICK GRIFFIN, Teacher, Southridge High
School: You’re the target oftentimes. You’re the target demographic when people
want to change the future. CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: That’s Patrick Griffin,
a Southridge social studies teacher who started looking for ways to fight back when offensive
stereotypes made their way into his own classroom. He soon found a toolkit online called Confronting
White Nationalism in Schools, written in part by Lindsay Schubiner of the nonprofit Western
States Center. There have been over 5,000 requests from the
toolkit from educators around the world. Patrick Griffin and Lindsay Schubiner, thank
you so much for joining us. And I want to start with you, Patrick. Can you tell me, what was it that initially
set off an alarm bell for you when you heard things that were frightening or threatening
or… PATRICK GRIFFIN: For me, I guess it comes
in several parts. All of these instances of violence housed
in the ideology of white nationalism, I see it affecting my kids. And they’re talking about it. And some of them are scared about it. And some of them are scared about talking
about it. CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: Like what, for example? PATRICK GRIFFIN: So, we might be having conversations
about nationalism in my class. And so we’d be having these conversations. And these conversations were happening within
the current political climate, and so, inherently, we’d start talking about current events and
start talking about the most recent presidential election and whatnot. And I’d have some students whose faces would
fall and whose eyes would disengage, although, on the other hand, I have got other students
who are feeling safe to engage with the conversation in a healthy way. I have also had students who are feeling safe
to engage in the conversation in some unhealthy ways because they were really happy about
the growing movements of taking America back to a very white place. And so I put the word out, hey, does anybody
have any resources that I could use? And that’s how I came across the toolkit. CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: Well, Lindsay, this
is where you come in. There does seem to be, by all accounts, a
rise in white supremacist speech. How is it that you came to deal with that,
and how did you — what did you come up with? LINDSAY SCHUBINER, Western States Center:
We also know that white nationalist and alt-right movements are intentionally recruiting young
people. The editor of a neo-Nazi Web site has written
that he designs his Web site to recruit children as young as 11 years old. We’re talking about young people who are — who
don’t yet have fully formed views and opinions about the world. And that’s a big reason why white nationalists
and alt-right groups are working to recruit them. CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: So you have come up
with this kit, a kit that you have used in your classes. What does this kit do? LINDSAY SCHUBINER: So, this toolkit provides
some context and some guidance around the issue of white nationalist and alt-right recruitment
of young people. And it also provides a number of scenarios,
possible things that might happen in a school community. CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: It also contains definitions
and a road map to alt-right symbols to help teachers, administrators and community members
strip the secrecy from white nationalism. So how have you used the toolkit? PATRICK GRIFFIN: So, I like using the toolkit
in my classrooms with my lesson plans, whether it be talking about definitions or scenarios. The toolkit has been useful in, heck, conversations
in the hallways with students as they’re coming up to me to talk about, hey, Mr. Griffin,
what do you think about this or that meme or whatnot, whatever’s current in their life. We’re also using the toolkit to create advisory
lesson plans that the entire school body, student body will be using. LINDSAY SCHUBINER: One thing the toolkit tries
to do is empower students that they do have a voice. But it’s not their responsibility to take
this on. There are adults in the community, and it’s
our job to take this on. CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: And do your students,
the students that you’re talking with, do they understand? Especially those who are embracing these white
nationalist tropes, how do you deal with them and prevent them from moving into the direction
of violence? PATRICK GRIFFIN: If a kid is going through
that, then you have got to make them feel known, valued, loved, part of the community,
because so much of this is this isolationism that they’re experiencing, while also educating
some of their ignorance about the greater context of it. CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: How — reaching the
students in your classroom doesn’t address what they’re getting at home, so how do you
deal with that? LINDSAY SCHUBINER: For people who are already
deeply involved in white nationalism, this toolkit is not for them. But it also, we hope, will help create communities
that are openly talking about issues of white nationalism, white supremacy, racial justice,
and reinforcing values that include everyone. CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: To both of you, how
hopeful are you that the kind of extremism that this toolkit is trying to address can
be contained or even defeated? Are you hopeful at all, or is it just moving
too fast? PATRICK GRIFFIN: I have a lot of reasons to
not be hopeful, I guess. That said, I have a lot of reasons to be hopeful
too. And it is that these kids are willing to engage
in these conversations in a nuanced manner that I don’t think some previous generations
have been as willing to engage in. And so, if you just keep doing it, eventually,
you get an entire new generation in charge, and I suppose there’s a lot of hope there. CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: Well, that’s hope
that’s where hope…. (CROSSTALK) PATRICK GRIFFIN: Yes, right. CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: Let’s hope for the
hope. (LAUGHTER) PATRICK GRIFFIN: Yes. Sometimes, that’s all you get. CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: Well, Patrick Griffin
and Lindsay Schubiner, thank you so much for joining us. And all the best with your work in the future. PATRICK GRIFFIN: Thank you. LINDSAY SCHUBINER: Thank you. AMNA NAWAZ: And before we go tonight, a story
that is all the buzz. Detroit is known for the rhythms of Motown
and the hum of automobile plants. One nonprofit is adding a new sound to the
urban landscape, buzzing bees. Special correspondent Mary Ellen Geist reports. MARY ELLEN GEIST: Detroit is buzzing, thanks
to Timothy Paule Jackson and Nicole Lindsey. Jackson and Lindsey are the founders of Detroit
Hives, a nonprofit organization that is transforming Detroit’s vacant spaces. TIMOTHY PAULE JACKSON, Detroit Hives: I saw
an announcement where the city of Detroit is looking for residents and nonprofit organizations
to take back some of these vacant lots. MARY ELLEN GEIST: They considered several
options, including a peacock farm and an urban campsite. But a health issue lead Jackson to discover
the medicinal properties of honey, and that sparked his curiosity about beekeeping. TIMOTHY PAULE JACKSON: Nicole began to see
my interest. And she made a very simple suggestion. She said, how about we transform a vacant
lot into a bee farm? NICOLE LINDSEY, Detroit Hives: When you think
about bees, they definitely don’t go hand in hand with the urban environment. MARY ELLEN GEIST: Detroit’s 75,000 vacant
lots can be problematic for humans, but they’re a paradise for bees. Where there were once homes, factories and
buildings, there are now community gardens, urban farms, and flowering plants, the perfect
place for bees to gather the pollen they need to make honey. NICOLE LINDSEY: When we think about developing
our areas or our communities, we don’t include nature. But since Detroit has so many vacant lots,
and seems like it’s becoming this rural urban type of city, we can incorporate nature-type
things in our city, and they can actually thrive. MARY ELLEN GEIST: Lindsey and Jackson are
working to revitalize 45 vacant lots in the next five years and expand to 200 hives, making
the land beneficial to Detroit’s inner city residents by increasing food security. TIMOTHY PAULE JACKSON: A lot of times in our
communities, we don’t have access to fresh organic food. Whenever you have hives near a community garden,
you are guaranteed to see an increase in your yield. And that’s why we partner with community gardens
to help provide food security. MARY ELLEN GEIST: Lindsey and Jackson are
also dedicated to using bees to teach conservation and sustainability to young children. NICOLE LINDSEY: It gives us the opportunity
to now teach our youth about nature, and actually telling them, like, hey, you should actually
grow gardens in your yard, and tell your parents not to spray chemicals, so we can see more
of this thriving. TIMOTHY PAULE JACKSON: I believe we measure
our impact by education. To be able to give back is what it’s all about. MARY ELLEN GEIST: And it’s about keeping Detroit
buzzing about its future. For the “PBS NewsHour,” I’m Mary Ellen Geist
in Detroit, Michigan. AMNA NAWAZ: That is a sweet way to end the
show. And, yes, that is a bad honey pun. That’s the “NewsHour” for tonight. I’m Amna Nawaz. Join us online and again here tomorrow for
special live coverage of the impeachment hearings, with perhaps one of the most significant witnesses
yet. That’s U.S. Ambassador to the E.U. Gordon
Sondland. Tune in starting at 9:00 a.m. Eastern. For all of us here at the “PBS NewsHour,” thank you, and we’ll see
you soon.


Leave a Reply