November 4, 2019 – PBS NewsHour full episode

November 4, 2019 – PBS NewsHour full episode


AMNA NAWAZ: Good evening. I’m Amna Nawaz. Judy Woodruff is away. On the “NewsHour” tonight: on the record. The first transcripts of testimony from the
impeachment inquiry are released, as four White House officials refuse to appear before
House investigators. Then: Ukraine in the crossfire of a political
fight in America — a report from the war front, where the battle against Russia grinds
on. PFC. ALEXEI MACHANKOLADZE (through translator):
If, for example, America and Europe don’t help, I think Russia will push forward. They won’t just occupy this area. It’ll be like Crimea. They will invade. AMNA NAWAZ: Plus, Amy Walter and Tamara Keith
are here to break down what tomorrow’s state elections mean for the presidential election
and what’s next in the impeachment inquiry. All that and more on tonight’s “PBS NewsHour.” (BREAK) AMNA NAWAZ: The first transcripts from closed-door
depositions at the heart of the Ukraine impeachment inquiry are out, as four potential witnesses
refuse to testify today, despite having been served subpoenas. House impeachment investigators today released
almost 500 pages of testimony from a former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine and a former adviser
to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. “NewsHour” correspondents Lisa Desjardins
and Nick Schifrin have been digging through both of them. And they both join me here now. Welcome. NICK SCHIFRIN: Thank you very much. AMNA NAWAZ: Five hundred pages. LISA DESJARDINS: Yes, did a lot of reading. AMNA NAWAZ: You and our incredible “NewsHour”
team have been digging through this all day. Nick, just start us off here. What did we learn from these depositions? NICK SCHIFRIN: Three main takeaways, Amna. One, we learned more details of what really
became an unofficial foreign policy toward Ukraine led by Rudy Giuliani, the president’s
attorney, allegedly for business reasons. Number two, we learned how Secretary of State
Mike Pompeo was repeatedly asked to defend Foreign Service officers, specifically that
former ambassador to Ukraine you just mentioned, and how he refused. And, number three, we learned more details
about how Giuliani really led a smear campaign, how he did that and with whom, against that
ambassador. So let’s talk about the ambassador. Her name is Marie Yovanovitch. And her transcript was released today. She’s the former ambassador to Ukraine. She served as a Foreign Service officer for
33 years across both Republican and Democratic administrations. Let’s frame some of her testimony. She led the Trump administration’s, President
Trump’s policy on Ukraine, which had two aspects, one, give Ukraine lethal weapons in order
to deter Russia, and, number two, try and get at corruption, endemic corruption, inside
Ukraine. That was the official policy. She ran into a buzz saw. And that was really led by Rudy Giuliani,
and that was this unofficial foreign policy. At one point, she was asked about that difference
by New Jersey Democrat, former State Department official Tom Malinowski. This is what he said: “In a sense, that parallel
policy, no pun intended, started to trump the official policy at that point?” Answer: “In retrospect, yes.” And that is the core of her testimony. AMNA NAWAZ: So, Lisa, that name, Rudy Giuliani,
this is the president’s personal attorney, we should mention, comes up a lot here. LISA DESJARDINS: Right. Right. AMNA NAWAZ: How I he related? What did learn from the depositions? LISA DESJARDINS: And I think, to let viewers
know what we’re doing, we’re going to try and go through this in terms of the themes
and try and build what this told us about the world today. And Giuliani is at the center of all of this,
exactly as Nick said. Ambassador Yovanovitch’s testimony really
gave insight into what she thinks the reasons were Rudy Giuliani was doing this. And they were not U.S. national interests,
she testified. She gave two reasons, the first, business. And she pointed to two of his associates,
men named Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman. And look at this quote. This is what she testified to Congress. She said: “Those two associates had business
interests, their business interests in Ukraine through this energy company, and they needed
a better ambassador to sort out or facilitate those business interests.” Now, the second reason that we found in her
testimony today that she believes she was pushed out as U.S. ambassador to Ukraine was
the interests of a specific powerful Ukrainian. We’re going to show him. His name is Yuriy Lutsenko. There he is. He’s a former prosecutor general just until
August 29. Just a few months ago, he left office. He is a fascinating character, originally
a reformer. He’s a man who had been jailed and beaten
for being a reformer in past administrations. But now he’s come into power. And Yovanovitch testified that she was pushing
back because he was not actually reforming, that, under him, his office was not becoming
a place for reform, and that Giuliani and he had connected, and that he was going through
Giuliani to try and push her out. That’s her testimony. Now, we have a special correspondent in Ukraine. Of course we do. We’re “NewsHour.” We’re going to hear more from him later. But Simon Ostrovsky sent us this quote. He’s been texting with this man who plays
a big role in the testimony, Lutsenko. And Lutsenko responded to our special correspondent
and said: “I don’t comment on fantasies and lies.” He says it is all lies. So there is a lot to watch. And Lutsenko’s name is in this document more
than any other. AMNA NAWAZ: Nick, it’s important to point
out, as Lisa mentioned, we can underscore Marie Yovanovitch was forced out of her role. What else did we learn from this about why
she was fired? NICK SCHIFRIN: Right. So she talks about how there was a campaign
in conservative media, by the president, by the president’s son, and led by Rudy Giuliani,
to get her fired. And that came as a surprise to her, because
she really testifies how she was really in the dark throughout that entire campaign. And at one point, she says, hey, look, it
would be great to get a little bit of backup here, basically get a little defense, how
can we quiet this campaign? And she’s told that it wasn’t going to be
the State Department to quiet that campaign. It was going to be the president’s allies
in conservative media, specifically one. This is part of her statement: “The secretary
of state, Mike Pompeo, or perhaps somebody around him was going to place a call to Mr.
Hannity on FOX News to say, you know, what is going on? I mean, do you have proof these kinds of allegations
or not? If you have proof, you know, tell me, and,
if not, stop.” That call was made to Mr. Hannity, according
to this testimony, and the allegations did stop for a couple of days. And then they came back. And that’s where we get two examples where
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was asked to defend this woman with 33 years of experience,
and where he refused. First example, State declined to release a
statement that she asked for defending her because they feared — quote — “President
Trump would tweet something and pull the rug from underneath the State Department.” That’s the first time. The second time, after it became clear that
President Trump disparaged her during the call, the July 25 call with President Zelensky
of Ukraine, he talks about her with Zelensky. Zelensky disparaged her as well. There are efforts inside the State Department
to get Secretary of State Mike Pompeo again to release a statement defending her. And that is where Mike McKinley comes in. This is the second testimony released today,
former senior adviser to Pompeo, ambassador to four countries, across Democratic and Republican
administrations. He asked Pompeo three times to defend Yovanovitch
in the days after we learned that President Trump disparaged her on that call. Pompeo refused, and McKinley resigned. And so there is this resentment in the senior
aspects of the State Department that Yovanovitch talks about. And this is also the core of her testimony. She says in her opening statement “We see
the State Department attacked and hollowed out from within” because of what she went
through. She says, “In such circumstances, the only
interests that are going to be served are those of our strategic adversaries, like Russia,
that spread chaos and attack the institutions and norms that the U.S. helped resist.” LISA DESJARDINS: They’re such strong words. We were both reading that and saying, wow,
this is the testimony before Congress. AMNA NAWAZ: I apologize, just less than a
minute left here, but help me put this into context now. How does all of this fit into the impeachment
inquiry? (CROSSTALK) LISA DESJARDINS: Right. That’s what this is about, right, an impeachment
inquiry. So, let’s look at really quickly — well,
actually, I will tell you. There’s two things. One, she touched on the idea of these investigations
the president wants, one, the investigation into whether Ukraine itself was behind the
2016 meddling. She said no. Republicans continued to ask that. She said, no, I found that never to be credible. Now then the other idea, this idea of an investigation
into the Bidens and the energy company that Joe Biden’s son is on, she also said that
she — she wasn’t part of that. But she said, listen, investigations like
that in Ukraine, you should know, are used as political leverage. They’re kept open so that you can keep your
thumb on someone involved. Should also say she said some things supportive
to the president, including she said he had been concerned about corruption in Ukraine
for a long time. AMNA NAWAZ: Lisa Desjardins and Nick Schifrin
pulling out some fascinating details from the first 500 pages we have gotten. More testimony, we should mention, coming
out tomorrow. Thank you to you both. For more on how the president and his allies
are reacting to all of this, our White House correspondent, Yamiche Alcindor, joins us
now from San Diego tonight. She’s there on assignment. Yamiche, good to see you there. I want to ask you about — we heard the president
just a little while ago react to some of the news of the day. Take a listen to what he had to say. QUESTION: Was Marie Yovanovitch the target
of a smear campaign by… (CROSSTALK) DONALD TRUMP, President of the United States:
I really don’t know her. But if you look at the transcripts, the president
of Ukraine wasn’t a fan of hers either. I mean, he didn’t exactly say glowing things. I’m sure she’s a very fine woman. I just don’t know much about her. QUESTION: She told lawmakers she had concerns
about Rudy Giuliani’s role. DONALD TRUMP: But you have to take a look
at the transcript, because the president of Ukraine wasn’t favorably inclined. AMNA NAWAZ: Yamiche, you have been tracking
the president’s reaction through this entire inquiry so far. What do you make of what he had to say today? YAMICHE ALCINDOR: Well, President Trump was
fiercely defending himself on the White House lawn, but he was using a largely misleading
claim. If you look at the July 25 call memo released
by the White House, the president of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky, says to President Trump,
“Thank you for being the first person to tell me that the former Ukrainian Ambassador Marie
Yovanovitch was a bad ambassador. And I agree with you 100 percent.” So what you have is the president essentially
being implicated as the person who told the president of Ukraine that that was a bad ambassador. Now, it’s also important to note what allies
of the president are saying today. Here’s what Jim Jordan — he’s a Republican
on the Oversight Committee — had to say today about these transcripts. REP. JIM JORDAN (R-OH): The two individuals whose
transcripts were released today, frankly, have not much to do with the — with the underlying
issue. Ambassador — Mr. McKinley had nothing to
do with the situation that — that’s sort of the basis of what the Democrats are doing. And Ambassador Yovanovitch had already been
recalled and was no longer in Ukraine when the call took place, when the aid question
was even present. YAMICHE ALCINDOR: He went on to say that the
process was really unfair and that Democrats are not following essentially due process
for the president. Now, I had a long conversation with another
ally of the president, Matthew Gaetz. He’s a Republican who sits on the House Judiciary
Committee. And he told me that he thinks these transcripts
being released today was really part of an orchestrated effort by Democrats to negatively
impact the president. He also says that the process wasn’t fair
and that Republicans should have more say in how things are going, and that the president’s
lawyers should also be involved more in this impeachment inquiry. AMNA NAWAZ: Yamiche, as you heard from Nick
and Lisa, these depositions are offering us a firsthand look from people at the heart
of this impeachment inquiry, with a lot of details about things we didn’t know before. Going through those, what did you learn today,
or what can you share with us that you can pluck out as interesting in terms of how the
president operates? YAMICHE ALCINDOR: These transcripts were really
a window into how President Trump and this White House allegedly operate. You had FOX News mentioned more than a dozen
times. You had Twitter mentioned more than a dozen
times. And Marie Yovanovitch, the former ambassador
to Ukraine, she said first that she was encouraged by Gordon Sondland, who was the E.U. ambassador,
the European Union ambassador, to praise President Trump via Twitter. She was also told that she needed to leave
Ukraine because President Trump might tweet about her. So we talk a lot about President Trump using
Twitter, but this is really Twitter sitting at the center of our foreign policy. Then you also have the president allegedly
being on the phone call with a president of Ukraine talking about our — a U.S. ambassador,
essentially saying that she’s not someone who can be trusted. And the president of Ukraine is essentially
saying, you’re the person who’s encouraging me not to look at this ambassador in a positive
way. Then you have the president allegedly getting
on the phone with his personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, and again mixing foreign policy
and his own political interests, allegedly. And Democrats essentially show that this is
an unorthodox way and really, they would say, an unfair way for the White House to operate. President Trump, of course, thinks that he
did nothing wrong here. AMNA NAWAZ: That’s our White House correspondent,
Yamiche Alcindor, joining us tonight from San Diego. Thank you, Yamiche. Democratic Congressman Jamie Raskin is a member
of the House Judiciary Committee. And he attended the closed-door depositions
with Ambassadors Marie Yovanovitch and Michael McKinley. Representative Raskin joins us from Capitol
Hill now. Welcome back to the “NewsHour,” sir, and thank
you for making the time. REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D-MD): Thank you for having
me. AMNA NAWAZ: Let me ask you about the decision
to release those two transcripts today. Those are just two of many that House investigators
have collected, hours’ worth of testimony so far. Why were just these two released today? Why not release all the transcripts? REP. JAMIE RASKIN: Well, we want to see all the
depositions released to the public, so people can read for themselves the really explosive
statements of these lifelong public servants. And so they’re all going to come out. It takes a while, as your staff knows, to
digest everything that is in there. So we’re going to stage them on a daily basis
over the coming week. AMNA NAWAZ: And, Congressman, I need to ask
you. In releasing the two transcripts from just
those witnesses today, your Republican colleagues will say there’s a lack of transparency, that
you’re trying to orchestrate the narrative, rather than just be transparent about the
testimony you already have. What do you say to that? REP. JAMIE RASKIN: The Republicans are interested
in anything but transparency. And you notice how they immediately want to
distract the conversation away from the substance of what people said to the question of, well,
what day are you releasing this transcript and that transcript and so on? This is coming from people who are defending
the president’s effort to obstruct the testimony of multiple witnesses today. So, they have got some gall saying, oh, we
haven’t released all of the depositions yet, when they’re trying to prevent any testimony
from anybody about what the president actually did. So… AMNA NAWAZ: Let me ask you this, sir. You have said earlier today in an interview
— quote — “I think we have established an overwhelming case.” If you already believe you have that case,
based on the depositions you have, how quickly will you move forward into public hearings? REP. JAMIE RASKIN: Well, serious prosecutors want
to try to nail down every detail. And we want to, of course, give the opportunity
for all of the relevant witnesses to come forward with material evidence and material
testimony. It’s scandalous that the president is trying
to stop people from testifying before the United States Congress about a matter of this
seriousness. So, we’re moving pretty much… AMNA NAWAZ: Well, you mentioned those people. You mentioned those people, sir, who also
— four officials today refusing and declining the invitation to testify on the Hill. Do you believe you need to hear from those
people before you move forward with public hearings? REP. JAMIE RASKIN: Well, look, the smoking gun
in this case appeared on day one. This is not exactly an Agatha Christie novel,
OK? We know precisely what the president did. He tried to organize a shakedown against the
Ukrainian government to get them to essentially corroborate a false story about the 2016 campaign,
to say that it was the Ukrainians, and not the Russians, who interfered in our election,
and then to get essentially false evidence or concocted evidence for the 2020 campaign
against the Bidens by getting them to fabricate or to manufacture a new investigation against
the Bidens. That’s what they did. And it’s right there in the White House’s
own memorandum, contemporaneous with the phone call. AMNA NAWAZ: Congressman, many, including the
president himself, has said that maybe these transcripts themselves can’t be trusted, that
they have been manipulated before they’re being released. What do you say to that? REP. JAMIE RASKIN: I’m not quite sure what the
president is referring to, because I saw extremely little, skimpy redaction, if any. And I think they’re just afraid that people
are going to read it. And when they read it, they will be blown
away by both what Ambassador Yovanovitch has to say about the campaign against her, and
culminating in the president’s recall of the ambassador from Ukraine, and then also to
read Ambassador McKinley’s extraordinarily brave statement about why he felt he had to
resign, after three-and-a-half decades of serving both Republican and Democratic presidents. AMNA NAWAZ: Congressman, before you go, I
have to ask you. We know that Gordon Sondland returned to Capitol
Hill last week to review some of his earlier testimony, after other testimonies following
his seemed to contradict what he had reportedly said. Did Ambassador Sondland alter or change any
of his earlier testimony? REP. JAMIE RASKIN: Not to my knowledge. I’m not aware of any of that. I will just invoke Mark Twain, who said, if
you always tell the truth, you never have anything to remember. And so a lot of these witnesses have come
forward, very bravely, very courageously, and very patriotically, like the two whose
testimony was released today, to give honest testimony. And I have not seen them come back to check
out their depositions since then. But the White House has been trying to stop
all these people from coming in. And so I do want to identify our appreciation
and our gratitude for these longtime public officials who have come forward to tell the
truth, against and over the threats of the White House. AMNA NAWAZ: Congressman Jamie Raskin, Democrat
from Maryland, thank you very much for your time. REP. JAMIE RASKIN: Thank you for having me. For the record, the “NewsHour” reached out
to all 47 lawmakers from the three House committees permitted to attend and participate in the
depositions. None of the Republican members were able to
join us tonight. AMNA NAWAZ: In the day’s other news: A federal
appeals court in New York ruled that President Trump’s tax returns from 2011 must be turned
over to state prosecutors. It’s part of an investigation into payments
to two women who claimed to have affairs with Mr. Trump. The president had argued he has total immunity
from state criminal law while he is in office. His lawyers said today they will now appeal
to the U.S. Supreme Court. The government of Iran announced today it
is running twice as many advanced centrifuges as before, key machinery to enriching nuclear
material. It is Tehran’s latest violation of the 2015
nuclear deal since President Trump renounced the agreement a year ago. And it came as the U.S. imposed new sanctions
on high-ranking Iranian officials. Separately, demonstrators in Tehran burned
American flags and chanted “Death to America” outside the former U.S. Embassy. Protesters took over the site 40 years ago
today. In Iraq, fresh violence erupted in Central
Baghdad, killing at least five people. Security forces opened fire on protesters
closing in on key government buildings. Crowds scrambled for cover, as ambulances
raced through streets. In the south, funerals were held in Karbala,
where security forces killed three protesters last night, after violence outside the Iranian
consulate. MAN (through translator): Our son is hero. He was carrying only the Iraqi flag, nothing
else. The brazen militias attacked us and killed
our son. So many Iraqi young men are jobless. They have no job. This government will never serve the Iraqi
people. AMNA NAWAZ: Protesters have called for an
end to government corruption and to Iran’s influence on the regime. Iran and its allies have, in turn, accused
the U.S. of fomenting the trouble in Iraq. Protesters in Lebanon closed major roads today
in a new show of discontent over economic hardship and corruption. People used sit-ins and debris to block streets
in Beirut. The protests left cars stuck in traffic jams,
and, for a third week, forced schools to shut down. Demonstrations had quieted after the prime
minister resigned last week, but they flared back to life over the weekend. Thick smog shrouded India’s capital city today,
as pollution levels soared to a three-year high. The air quality index in New Delhi was at
severe, which is nine times the recommended maximum level. It was caused largely by smoke from burning
off farmland and fireworks set off during the Hindu festival of Diwali. BHAIRON SINGH, Airport Worker (through translator):
The pollution in Delhi is very bad. And here at the airport, we are facing difficulty
breathing. And there is a burning sensation in our eyes,
as if someone has put chili powder in my eyes. AMNA NAWAZ: Officials responded by limiting
cars in the city with odd- or even-numbered license plates to using the roads only on
alternate days. The Trump administration formally notified
the United Nations today that the U.S. is quitting the Paris climate accord. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo sent a letter
that starts the one-year pullout process. The 2015 accord calls for nearly 200 nations
to set their own goals for curbing greenhouse gas emissions. The Environmental Protection Agency has proposed
rolling back limits on wastewater from coal-fired power plants. The Obama administration imposed the restrictions
on discharges that contain coal ash and heavy metals. The EPA said today the rollback would save
utilities $175 million annually and encourage voluntary cleanups. Opponents said it will harm public health. Firefighters up and down California now have
the upper hand after a weekend of lighter winds and cooler temperatures. The Maria Fire, outside Los Angeles, was 80
percent contained today after burning more than 9,400 acres. And a blaze that charred 120 square miles
in Northern California’s wine country was also 80 percent contained. More than 460 state prison inmates in Oklahoma
went free today, after their sentences were commuted. It was the largest single-day release in U.S.
history, and it led to scenes of joy outside prisons. Republican Governor Kevin Stitt addressed
one group in Taft, Oklahoma. GOV. KEVIN STITT (R-OK): This is really a second
chance for each and every one of you. And I want to challenge you, because you know
that there are — there will be tough times ahead. But your kids, your family, your future, everything
depends on you getting tough and making sure that you get the help that you need, so you
do not come back here and make the same mistakes that have happened in the past. AMNA NAWAZ: Oklahoma has had the nation’s
highest rate of incarceration. But a new state law retroactively converted
many low-level drug and property crimes to misdemeanors. Apple is pledging $2.5 billion to fight California’s
shortage of affordable housing. The money will go to build low- to moderate-income
homes and create a fund for mortgage help. Google and Facebook have already promised
$1 billion each. Workers flocking to tech jobs have sent housing
prices soaring in the San Francisco Bay Area. And on Wall Street today, a new week brought
new record closes on three major indexes. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 114
points to close at 27462. The Nasdaq rose 46 points, and the S&P 500
added 11. Still to come on the “NewsHour”: Bluegrass
battle — will the closely watched Kentucky governor’s race provide clues for the 2020
election?; Amy Walter and Tamara Keith analyze the latest news from the impeachment inquiry;
and Ukraine in the crossfire — where the battle against Russia grinds on. There are three major governor’s races under
way right now. Each offers a critical early test of Republican
strength in advance of the 2020 presidential election. One of those races is tomorrow in Kentucky,
where President Trump tonight is campaigning for the incumbent, Matt Bevin. William Brangham went to the Bluegrass State
this weekend to see what’s motivating voters in this very tight race. MIKE PENCE, Vice President of the United States:
Well, hello, Kentucky! WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Ahead of the president’s
arrival, the vice president kicked off the final few days of the campaign, rallying supporters
in rural Kentucky. MIKE PENCE: Once we reelect Governor Matt
Bevin for four more years, we can make it clear we’re going to reelect President Donald
Trump for four more years. (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) WILLIAM BRANGHAM: The fact that President
Trump and Vice President Pence felt the need to come here to rally supporters, to Kentucky,
a state that Donald Trump won by 30 points in the last election, that is not a good sign
for the GOP in this state. The incumbent Republican Matt Bevin, is in
a neck-and-neck race with this man, Kentucky’s attorney general, Democrat Andy Beshear. But at Friday’s rally with the vice president,
and elsewhere, we heard a lot of confidence that Governor Bevin will win. MARGARET ANN HATFIELD RADER, Kentucky: I support
him wholeheartedly. I like his character. I like what he stands for and I like the platform. GOV. MATT BEVIN (R-KY): You’re promising things
for which you have zero plan to actually come up with the money. ®MDNM¯ANDY BESHEAR (D), Kentucky Gubernatorial
Candidate: I’m promising vision and leadership. GOV. MATT BEVIN: You have none of the above. WILLIAM BRANGHAM: The latest polling shows
Bevin and Beshear in a virtual dead heat, which has turned this into a nasty and expensive
campaign. NARRATOR: Socialists in Washington want to
impeach Trump. WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Ads supporting Bevin routinely
link Beshear to events back in Washington, D.C. NARRATOR: Send the socialists a message. Defeat Andy Beshear. ANDY BESHEAR: We treat everyone with respect. WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Beshear ads, on the other
hand, tend to focus almost entirely on local issues. ANDY BESHEAR: He’s tried to rip health care
away from our families and he’s cutting public education. We can’t take four more years. WILLIAM BRANGHAM: There’s a few reasons why
the race is so tight. One, Andy Beshear has strong name recognition. His dad, Steve Beshear, was Kentucky’s last
governor. But Governor Bevin has also hurt himself with
some key groups in Kentucky. PROTESTERS: United, we stand for schools and
teachers! WILLIAM BRANGHAM: In 2018, teachers protested
education and pension funding. Governor Bevin suggested that with schools
closed because of the walkout, some children risked being sexually assaulted. He also called protesting teachers selfish
and ignorant. It’s all made Bevin one of the most unpopular
incumbents in the nation. WOMAN: This is about making sure they show
up on Tuesday. WILLIAM BRANGHAM: It’s driven many teachers
and other state employees to work hard to unseat Bevin. This gathering, largely made up of educators
in the Lexington area, were getting ready to canvass voters for Andy Beshear. NEMA BREWER, Kentucky: They are trying to
make it look like that, you know, Andy is a socialist. Let me tell you, if you can find a socialist,
a full, like, through-the-core socialist in the state of Kentucky, I will kiss your hind
end. WILLIAM BRANGHAM: These volunteers, mostly
Democrats, but also a few Republicans, said that there was a host of issues on their minds,
ranging from clean water to corporate money in politics. Claire Batt is a Democrat. Denise Finley has been a lifelong Republican. Both are retired schoolteachers and longtime
friends, and they spent much of Saturday trying to remind likely Beshear voters to turn out
on Tuesday. WOMAN: So, you and your wife are both planning
to vote? MAN: Oh, yes. WILLIAM BRANGHAM: What do you guys think is
most at stake in this election? DENISE FINLEY, Kentucky: Our children. Our children. I’m emotional about the education of our children. WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Both women say that if this
race is fought on local issues, Beshear will win. But they worry that the enormously popular
President Trump and the impeachment battle will energize Republicans to show up in droves
for Bevin. If you could have told the democratic party
in Washington, D.C., would you have liked them to say, hold off on this impeachment
stuff for another week? Let us have an election without stoking the
fires? CLAIRE BATT, Kentucky: In a sense, yes. And I sort of hate to say that, because I
think they have to follow the… WILLIAM BRANGHAM: That investigation. CLAIRE BATT: The and how it unrolls. I think it really has caused issues for us
here in Kentucky, because they use it. And that’s why Trump is coming, too. WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Some Republicans, like Mark
Williams, a veteran and retired firefighter, agrees that impeachment will fire up voters,
but on both sides. MARK WILLIAMS, Kentucky: I see it as a political
scam. WILLIAM BRANGHAM: The impeachment process? MARK WILLIAMS: The impeachment process, yes. I think it’s just a way to try to sway voters
in 2020. WILLIAM BRANGHAM: So do you think that that’s
going to have any impact on people’s votes here? MARK WILLIAMS: Oh, I think it will, yes, yes,
especially with — the whole United States is sort of divided right now. And I think it will help give fuel to the
other fire. WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Williams has one of his
neighborhood’s only Matt Bevin signs in his front yard. He likes the governor and President Trump,
for a trait they both share. MARK WILLIAMS: I think more politicians should
go with straight talk, simply because you can understand Matt Bevin. He will tell you what he wants and how he
wants it. You don’t have to follow a riddle to get to
the answer. WILLIAM BRANGHAM: For Republicans, this race
will test whether the president’s popularity, combined with outrage over impeachment, is
enough to push an unpopular incumbent across the finish line. For Democrats, they say this race is the ultimate
test: If they can’t win the statehouse under these conditions, it spells serious trouble
for the party in 2020. For the “PBS NewsHour,” I’m William Brangham
in Kentucky. AMNA NAWAZ: Just how critical are those gubernatorial
wins for President Trump, as he faces an accelerating impeachment inquiry back here in Washington? For answers, we turn to our Politics Monday
duo. That’s Amy Walter of The Cook Political Report
and host of public radio’s “Politics With Amy Walter,” and Tamara Keith from NPR. She also co-hosts the “NPR Politics Podcast.” And welcome to you both. Before we jump into some of those governor’s
races and some other state issues, Tam, I just want to get your take on this. Because it was such a big news day when it
comes to the impeachment inquiry, what have you pulled away from the depositions and what
they mean for the larger process? TAMARA KEITH, National Public Radio: I think
today was all about how this really is becoming a more public process. These depositions coming out is a sign, another
sign. Those four people who were called to testify,
who were subpoenaed, who didn’t show up, you know, the House committees are not calling
four people to testify on a single day if they expect them to actually show up. They’re now going through the list of people
who they don’t expect to testify, so that they can move it into the public testimony. AMNA NAWAZ: That’s a good point to make. OK. Let’s jump back to what William Brangham was
talking about right there. Take a look at this graphic really quick. These are three states that do have governor’s
races coming up, two of them tomorrow, one of them later this month. These were also Trump’s strongholds in 2016. He won them by significant margins. AMY WALTER, The Cook Political Report: Yes. AMNA NAWAZ: Why are these close gubernatorial
races right now? AMY WALTER: Well, there’s a saying that all
politics is local, and it is, until it’s not. And now we are seeing now even local races
become much more nationalized. It wasn’t that long ago that places in the
South had Democratic governors, had Democratic senators, had Democratic members of Congress,
and were voting for Republicans for president. But we have seen now the distinction that
voters make between voting for their local candidate and voting for the presidential
candidate have completely disappeared. And people are now voting, sometimes even
for really local races, like legislative races. In Virginia, there’s an opportunity Democrats
have to take control of the House of Delegates and the state Senate in Virginia for the first
time since the mid-’90s. And they’re going to do it by nationalizing
politics in the Northern Virginia suburbs and the Richmond suburbs and in and around
the Newport News and Tidewater area. And so what we’re likely to see after an election
is the candidates who are in places that are not good at the top of the ticket trying to
localize a race and those where the top of the ticket is popular, or where the party
is popular, they try to nationalize it. AMNA NAWAZ: Tam, when you look at the three
races, a lot of people are saying this is going to be a referendum on the president. Is it fair to look at that that way? TAMARA KEITH: Well, certainly, some of the
Republican candidates have tried to hug as closely to President Trump as they can. So, I mean, I think that if a Democrat wins
in Mississippi or Kentucky, then that is really, really big news. If a Republican wins, that is kind of what
you would expect. And President Trump, though, just like he
did with the midterms, though the midterms was sort of a mixed verdict, he is going into
these places and making it about himself, trying to sort of prove how he can boost turnout
among his core voters and trying to send a signal with these races. AMNA NAWAZ: Amy, you mentioned that Virginia
legislature we should be keep an eye on. All 140 seats are up for grabs, right? They have seen a bit of move toward the blue
in recent elections. AMY WALTER: Right, in the most recent elections. AMNA NAWAZ: Is that issue-driven? What’s happening there that we should pay
attention to? AMY WALTER: Well, it is a lot object the Trump
effect. And as we’re seeing in the suburbs all across
the country, the suburbs that once voted Republican now moving toward Democrat, but the issue
of guns is a very big one in Virginia as well and in suburban areas, where it’s been a very
— it’s a top issue. Remember, it was down in the Tidewater area
that you had a massive shooting not long ago. So, for the issue set, that would probably
be it, but again it also merges quite nicely with the national issue divide between the
suburbs and more rural areas over the issue of guns. AMNA NAWAZ: But, Tam, when you look at where
the president is going, where he thinks that he can make a difference, he was in Mississippi
on Friday, right? He’s in Kentucky today. He’s going to Louisiana later this week. I don’t believe he’s been in Virginia. Correct me if I’m wrong. TAMARA KEITH: I don’t believe he has been
in Virginia. (LAUGHTER) TAMARA KEITH: Though Vice President Mike Pence
did campaign in Virginia. And, yes, President Trump is not the most
popular figure in Virginia, so it makes sense that he’s going in place where he can really
boost turnout. In Virginia, particularly in these suburbs,
where these races are coming down to, President Trump would potentially have the opposite
effect. AMY WALTER: Yes. Yes. AMNA NAWAZ: Let’s take a look some of the
other — larger picture here. When you look at key battleground states,
there were some fascinating numbers to pull out to focus at the state level, rather than
the national polls we sometimes look at. But this was a survey — results from The
New York Times and Siena recently that looks at key battleground states in 2016. You’re looking at Arizona, Wisconsin, Michigan,
Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and Florida. These were all places that were close in 2016. Three of them in particular, Wisconsin, Michigan
and Pennsylvania, had a margin of victory for President Trump of less than 1 percent. And when you look at these states, there’s
something very interesting happening, because President Trump is very competitive there,
which isn’t necessarily reflected at the national level on those polls. But what is that divide? AMY WALTER: Well, they’re called battlegrounds
for a reason, right? (LAUGHTER) AMY WALTER: I think that’s what we learned
from these polls, that they pick the states quite well. They were the most competitive in 2016. They’re going to be the most competitive in
2020. What’s also remarkable is how little has moved
between the 2016 election and now in terms of perceptions about the president and likelihood
to vote for the president or for a Democrat. It still feels like we’re locked in, in many
ways, into 2016. But, look, those three key battleground states
in the Midwest that had voted for Democrats for 20 years consistently, Michigan, Pennsylvania,
Wisconsin, the ones that you noted Trump barely won, they do have a benefit to the president,
in that they have an above-average number of white voters without a college degree,
over 50 percent in all of those states. And they continue — those types of voters
continue to support the president by the same kind of margins that they did in 2016. At least that’s what this one poll showed
us. AMNA NAWAZ: And, Tam, when we look even deeper
at that survey at some of the hypothetical matchups, there’s a much more interesting
picture at play there. Tell me about that. TAMARA KEITH: Yes. And I would — though I would caution that
if we’re looking at head-to-head matchups this far out from an election, that we shouldn’t
look too closely at head-to-head matchups this far out from an election, because it
is a long way away. AMNA NAWAZ: It’s too early. TAMARA KEITH: And a lot can change. It’s just — it’s too early. AMNA NAWAZ: So the fact that some of these
are showing very close races between some of the top Democratic candidates right now,
Biden, Warren and Sanders, vs. the national polls, where there are wider leads, wider
margins there, you don’t put too much weight into those right now? TAMARA KEITH: I mean, it’s just very early. I would defer to Amy, who is our polling expert
here. But I just — I urge caution. AMY WALTER: Yes. No, we should definitely urge caution. And that’s why you look at the underlying
numbers, right, where Trump continues to do well with that same core constituency of voters,
not doing well with the suburban voter, white suburban voter. So still watch out for that. AMNA NAWAZ: When you look at these states,
though, fair to say these are going to be central to President Trump’s campaign moving
forward? TAMARA KEITH: Fair to say I’m going to get
some frequent flyer miles going to these states in the weeks and months ahead. AMNA NAWAZ: Tamara Keith and Amy Walter, thank
you very much for your time. AMY WALTER: You’re welcome. TAMARA KEITH: You’re welcome. AMNA NAWAZ: We have heard much tonight about
the central political importance of Ukraine to the impeachment inquiry. But that country is also at war with Russian-backed
separatists. It’s been five-and-a-half brutal years of
conflict. So how does the political upheaval here echo
on the front lines of Europe’s only country at war? Special correspondent Simon Ostrovsky went
to the front lines to find out. SIMON OSTROVSKY: While the stakes of the bitter
political fight being fought over impeachment in Washington may seem high, here, on the
outskirts of Donetsk, where Ukraine is fighting an actual shooting war, the stakes are far
higher. The war in Ukraine has dragged on for five
years, and it’s killed more than 13,000 people. It is fought in trenches like this one that
stretch for hundreds of kilometers through Eastern Ukraine. But it was largely forgotten by the outside
world, until it became the backdrop for the impeachment inquiry into President Donald
Trump. Until Mr. Trump took office, Ukraine enjoyed
unwavering bipartisan U.S. support in its conflict with Russia, which invaded and annexed
Ukraine’s Crimea Peninsula in 2014. The annexation was the biggest land grab in
Europe since World War II and sparked a war in Eastern Ukraine, where Russia and its separatist
allies have taken control of parts of the country’s eastern industrial heartland known
as the Donbass. Kiev only barely managed to prevent pro-Russia
forces from totally overrunning the country, thanks to the U.S. and its allies, who imposed
an economically damaging set of sanctions on Moscow. BARACK OBAMA, Former President of the United
States: We’re united in our support for Ukraine. We’re united in our determination to isolate
Russia and impose costs for Russia’s actions. SIMON OSTROVSKY: The threat of further sanctions
if Russia pushed on have stayed the Kremlin’s hand so far. Fast-forward to 2019, and several top U.S.
officials are alleging that President Trump blocked crucial military aid to the country
over the summer to try to get Kiev to open investigations into his American political
rival. Throughout its campaign against Russia’s occupation
of the lands that are just a few hundred yards that way, Ukraine has relied on the United
States for both military and diplomatic support. In July, the White House suddenly suspended
nearly $400 million in aid, causing its Ukrainian allies to question America’s resolve. The aid included night-vision scopes like
this one and first aid kits, which members of Ukraine’s 92nd Separate Mechanized Brigade
showed “NewsHour.” But the scope of the assistance is much wider
and seeks to modernize Ukraine’s armed forces by providing more capable small arms, like
new sniper rifles and grenade launchers, radars, vehicles and tactical communication equipment. It also pays for advisers and high-tech training
simulators. MAN (through translator): Here, take a look. A flag. Look at the hill behind the lake. It stands out in the light. That’s the DNR flag. Might be the Russian flag. SIMON OSTROVSKY: And though the White House
eventually did release the aid to Ukraine under concerted congressional pressure in
September, the political damage was felt both in Kiev and here on the front lines. Private Alexei Machankoladze, who’s served
in Ukraine’s army as part of the 92nd Brigade for three years, worries that the diplomatic
support his country has relied on is disappearing. PFC. ALEXEI MACHANKOLADZE, 92nd Separate Motorized
Brigade (through translator): Under Obama, they pressured them with sanctions. As soon as something happened, the pushed
sanctions. Not anymore. No one is pressuring Russia with sanctions. And Russia is 100 percent using this situation. Trump has just let Russia off the hook a bit. SIMON OSTROVSKY: The scandal has damaged Ukraine’s
interests in another way too. After winning a landslide election with 73
percent of the vote earlier this year, Ukraine’s new president, Volodymyr Zelensky, entered
negotiations to de-escalate hostilities with Russia from a position of strength. But as President Trump and an array of associates
led by his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani began making political demands of Zelensky’s administration,
cracks in the U.S.-Ukrainian alliance started becoming apparent. RUDY GIULIANI, Attorney for President Donald
Trump: There is a load of evidence that the Ukrainians created false information. SIMON OSTROVSKY: In his meeting with Zelensky
at the United Nations, Trump responded to a question about military aid to Ukraine by
telling Zelensky it was up to him to figure it out with Russian President Vladimir Putin. DONALD TRUMP, President of the United States:
I really hope that you and President Putin get together and can solve your problem. That would be a tremendous achievement. SIMON OSTROVSKY: State television in Russia
jumped on the comment, interpreting it as a signal that the U.S. was throwing Ukraine
under the bus. WOMAN (through translator): After his triumphant
meeting with Donald Trump, in quotes of course, the Ukrainian president had to lie back and
enjoy it. We know what happened in the United States. You have nowhere left to go. SIMON OSTROVSKY: On the front lines, the soldiers
of Ukraine’s 92nd are skeptical Russia will hold to the terms of any agreement. Do you think that, without the strong support
of the United States, Ukraine can get a fair peace deal with Russia? PFC. ALEXEI MACHANKOLADZE (through translator):
I think not, no. If, for example, America and Europe don’t
help, I think Russia will push forward. They won’t just occupy this area. It’ll be like Crimea. They will invade. SIMON OSTROVSKY: Zelensky has nevertheless
pushed forward with a controversial plan to move troops away from the front lines in certain
sectors. The idea is that if soldiers can’t see the
enemy, they will be less likely to engage and casualties will drop. Veteran groups see the plan as capitulation
to Russia, and thousands have marched in street protests to oppose it, illustrating the challenges
for Zelensky on the domestic front. But the biggest challenge is not only the
toll in lives lost, but in lives ruined. Serhiy Shevchenko showed “NewsHour” how he’s
reinforced the windows of his home, which were blown out for the eighth time in a recent
mortar attack. SERHIY SHEVCHENKO, Ukraine (through translator):
It used to be called Forest Street. Now I call it Dead Street. This is the most ruined street in Avdiivka. SIMON OSTROVSKY: Although the U.S. has not
contributed any troops to Ukraine in combat roles, it continues to train the Ukrainian
military at exercises like this one. Ukraine, on the other hand, has sent its troops
to fight and to die in the U.S.-led mission to Iraq. It’s something that U.S. Army Colonel David
Jordan of the 45th Infantry brought up at a ceremony dedicated to members of Ukraine’s
92nd who were undergoing a U.S. training course in 2017. COL. DAVID JORDAN, U.S. Army: Like the 45th, the
92nd has served in combat in Iraq. Our shared experiences will help us form a
bond of trust. SIMON OSTROVSKY: I asked this member of the
92nd serving in a trench on the front line if he felt that that bond of trust had now
been broken. JR. SGT. OLEH RYZHOV, 92nd Separate Motorized Brigade
(through translator): We value the U.S. support and hope that it continues. Whatever happens, we will continue to defend
our lands. Our morale is high, so we’re not feeling down
and we won’t fall. And that’s that. SIMON OSTROVSKY: On the front lines in Eastern
Ukraine, I’m Simon Ostrovsky for the “PBS NewsHour.” AMNA NAWAZ: Nashville, Tennessee, is called
Music City for good reason. Now John Yang reports on a program that connects
the city’s musicians with its older residents, bringing benefits to both. It’s part of our ongoing coverage of arts
and culture, Canvas. JOHN YANG: It’s morning at Nashville’s East
Park Community Center, and these seniors are getting into the groove. Kyshona Armstrong leads a rousing chorus of
old favorites. She’s a professional musician with a background
in music therapy. When not on the road touring, she sometimes
plays gigs like this for a nonprofit group called Music for Seniors, which connects Nashville’s
talent with its older residents. KYSHONA ARMSTRONG, Music for Seniors: Out
on the road, I’m meeting people all the time and it’s about me, right? And it’s just like, I’m sharing my story,
I’m sharing my story. But when I come to the community groups, I
feel like it’s my opportunity to feed into others. It just feels good to really kind of root
into the community and to see a difference in the people. JOHN YANG: It was Sonny Collier’s first time
at a Music for Seniors session. SONNY COLLIER, Participant: It was — kind
of surprised me a little bit how I can rattle them off at the top of my head at age I am
now. JOHN YANG: Former singer-songwriter Sarah
Martin McConnell started the program in 2007, combining her love for music and her degree
in social work. SARAH MARTIN MCCONNELL, Executive Director,
Music for Seniors: Music for Seniors really is a hybrid of music and the social services,
because every program that we do is about taking music out to the community. JOHN YANG: There are free daytime concerts
every month, and local musicians lead sessions at nursing homes and community centers across
Middle Tennessee. Now Music for Seniors is teaming with researchers
here at Vanderbilt University to see if the effects of their programs can be measured. Studies already show that exposure to live
music can improve seniors’ brain function, emotional wellness and even mobility. Carrie Plummer, a geriatric specialist at
Vanderbilt’s nursing school, is designing the research. Plummer says the Music for Seniors program
could be particularly useful for dementia patients. CARRIE PLUMMER, Vanderbilt University: One
of the things that we’re really having to think about, are there are other ways for
us to improve their quality of life? The more you have patients with better social
networks and are able to socialize, that there seems to be a reduction in their risk for
dementia. SARAH MARTIN MCCONNELL: My mother loved music. JOHN YANG: McConnell’s experience with her
late mother, who had Alzheimer’s, was at the root of Music for Seniors. SARAH MARTIN MCCONNELL: I, being a musician,
decided that I would start going to her adult day services program. So, I would go and bring my guitar, my dulcimer,
and we would sing together. JOHN YANG: She said the sessions struck a
chord. SARAH MARTIN MCCONNELL: They just would light
up. And they were a different group as I was leaving
than they were as I was coming. JOHN YANG: And if it helped them, McConnell
thought, why wouldn’t it help others, whether they have an impairment or not? SARAH MARTIN MCCONNELL: A lightbulb went off
that this should be an organized effort to connect all of the musicians in Nashville
with the isolated older adults. JOHN YANG: Musician Matt Bridges helped designed
the program. MATT BRIDGES, Music for Seniors: And what
we’re going to aim for is to make a joyful noise. That’s it. JOHN YANG: He led this drum circle at Second
Presbyterian Church, the same adult day care program where McConnell and her mother once
sang and danced together. MATT BRIDGES: What we saw today is a little
bit of reservation on the front end. Once we give it a shot, once all of us typically
try something, our guard kind of starts to come down and we’re able to really express
ourselves. And that’s really the beauty in these programs
and these sessions, is that we’re trying something new. JOHN YANG: Something new that brought back
memories for Shirley Green. SHIRLEY GREEN, Participant: Someone in my
house was always singing. Someone in my house was always playing something. So, just as I get a little older, you get
more and more into background, and you listen to others. But I enjoy music as part of my life. JOHN YANG: Music for Seniors also offers the
chance to learn a new instrument, like the ukelele. Students in this class offered by Nashville’s
adult education program strummed classics they’d spent months learning. Their teacher, Todd Elgin, is a songwriter
and plays in a ukelele band called the Ukedelics. TODD ELGIN, Music for Seniors: They’re not
being forced by their parents to come in and take lessons. They’re there because they have either wanted
to make music their whole life or used to make music and maybe there was a hiatus. JOHN YANG: And they’re hoping many more older
people will soon be sing their tune. Last year, McConnell won a $50,000 grant from
the company WeWork. That helped the program expand to Knoxville,
Tennessee, where the first free concert launched in August. SARAH MARTIN MCCONNELL: I would like to see
there be a Music for Seniors in every city. Every place has talented musicians and every
place has isolated, underserved older adults. WOMAN (singing): Change going to come. JOHN YANG: That change, as simple as an old
favorite song, can make all the difference. For the “PBS NewsHour,” I’m John Yang in Nashville,
Tennessee. AMNA NAWAZ: On the “NewsHour” online right
now: What does Google’s decision to buy Fitbit, the health tracking device company, mean for
users’ personal data? We asked privacy experts how the tech giant
could use that data and how well current laws protect consumers. Find that on our Web site, PBS.org/NewsHour. And that’s the “NewsHour” for tonight. On Tuesday, more transcripts from key witnesses
in the House impeachment inquiry. I’m Amna Nawaz. Join us online and again here tomorrow evening. For all of us at
the “PBS NewsHour,” thank you, and we’ll see you soon.

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