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CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR: Now, in terms of, as you said, documents, witnesses i.e. evidence, I think you’ve pointed out and you’ve written about the fact that you feel that is an important piece of new evidence that was revealed on Tuesday. It’s a direct result of a Freedom of Information request, and it’s regarding the call, you know, the between Trump and the Ukrainian President and afterwards. Can you just tell us what this is about and why it’s new and why you think it’s important?
ANNE MILGRAM, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: So the Freedom of Information Act request basically got these e- mails, almost 200 e-mails that were mostly coming from the White House going back and forth to the White House Council and the Department of Defense, where the day before the July 25th call between the President of Ukraine, Zelensky and President Trump, essentially the night before, the folks in the White House, were setting it up, and setting a process in place to hold the military aid. And why that’s important, and as a former prosecutor, I always look for evidence like this, which is that it’s not an accident. There wasn’t something that happened on the call that made the President decide to do this. This was premeditated. The President went into that call, wanting to know that he had that power, the ability to withhold that aid, essentially as a hammer to get Ukraine to do his personal bidding. And so to me, it’s very important. It shows why we need documents and why we need witnesses, and it also points out that, you know, sort of really striking way, a congressional law, the Freedom of Information Act is getting public access to documents that the White House has refused to turn over to Congress.
AMANPOUR: And just related to that, the refusal to turn over, you know that from Davos, the President said, essentially, and I’m paraphrasing, you know, it’s all going to be fine. We have all the evidence, they don’t, or something to that effect, but it was that — that was the intention. What does that even mean when he actually says that? Speaks those words?
MILGRAM: Yes, it’s hard to know. But there is a sense and I have this sense, again, as somebody who’s, you know, been in government and also worked briefly on the Senate. I have this real sense of — one of the things that the President has done here is he has made his own decision. The Constitution says the House is in charge of whether or not the President gets impeached and the Senate tries that. The President has made a decision when the matter was in the house not to comply in any way, and there’s a letter from the White House Counsel, basically saying no documents, no witnesses. We know some witnesses came forward despite that, but really the President has said, I get to decide whether or not something is a matter for impeachment that you should be investigating. And so he has shut off the documents and the witnesses in a way that to me, Congress can’t accept that. If they accept that, then the President really is — it’s no longer co-equal branches of government. The President really has authority to decide if whenever, if ever he would be impeached, and obviously, he’s not going to decide that there’s ever a correct time to impeach himself. And so it’s really as an institutional question to me so vital that Congress push back on that.
About This Episode EXPAND
Former New Jersey Attorney General Anne Milgram argues that there is damning new evidence about Trump’s phone call with the President of Ukraine which should be admitted into the Senate impeachment trial. Democratic presidential candidate Tom Steyer talks impeachment, climate and campaign spending. Actor David Strathairn discusses his role in the play “Remember This: The Lesson of Jan Karski.”LEARN MORE