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Rep. Katie Porter (D-CA) is Interviewed About HUD Secretary Ben Carson's Congressional Testimony; Governor Steve Bullock (D-MT) is Interviewed About his Presidential Run; GOP Representative Finds Support Back Home After Making Impeachment Case. Aired on 7-8p ET

Aired May 21, 2019 - 19:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Thanks very much. Tom Sater reporting for us. And to our viewers, thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM. Erin Burnett OUTFRONT starts right now.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: OUTFRONT next, the House Judiciary Committee now issuing subpoenas to Hope Hicks and Don McGahn's former Chief of Staff, Annie Donaldson. Will they testify? Plus Democrats divided over impeachment as more lawmakers say the time to launch proceedings is now. And these Democratic Governor from Trump country, does Steve Bullock have a chance at the White House? He's out front. Let's go out front.

And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett. Out Front tonight, Democrats divided. Democrats now at a crossroad over whether or not to begin impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump. The debate intensifying as the White House resist virtually every demand by Democrats. Just listen to the disagreement for yourself.


MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Is it time to start an impeachment inquiry?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The question is why would we open an impeachment inquiry if we're winning.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The impeachment process is going to be inevitable.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): I don't want to impeach.


BURNETT: OK, so divided. Now, Pelosi, "I don't want to impeach," may even be facing a defection from the powerful Chairman of the House Oversight Committee. One of the most powerful Democrats in Washington.


RAJU: Now we're hearing more and more members talk more openly about the idea of an impeachment inquiry. Are you there yet?

REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS (D-MD): I'm getting there.


BURNETT: He's getting there and more and more others are already there. There's been a big shift in just the past few days. Here's the number two on the House Judiciary Committee, Congresswoman Mary Gay Scanlon just days ago here on OUTFRONT talking about how she thought there were ways to get around Trump's defiance of subpoenas without impeachment.


REP. MARY GAY SCANLON (D-PA): I think there are a number of avenues to get there without impeachment proceedings.


BURNETT: That was then and this is now. A statement today from Congresswoman Scanlon released saying in part, quote, the President's refusal to produce evidence or permit witness testimony defies not only the rule of law but the basic protections of our Constitution. That time has come to start an impeachment inquiry.

OK. It is clear Democrats are divided over this huge decision of impeachment or not and yet the House Speaker Nancy Pelosi today insists there's nothing to see here.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How do you address the division?

PELOSI: We don't have division.


BURNETT: We don't have division? Well, I don't know how she defines division but the truth is, that is exactly what she's facing tonight. Thanks in part to images like this one, the empty chair where former White House Counsel Don McGahn was supposed to be sitting today, scheduled to testify about the Mueller report to answer questions about the report's conclusion that the President asked him to directly fire Mueller.

Phil Mattingly is out front live on Capitol Hill. Phil, how real is the pressure from Democrats behind closed doors to get Speaker Pelosi to change direction and move ahead with an impeachment proceeding?

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's very real right now and it's not just what they've been saying behind closed doors. We've had sources talk about multiple Democrats bringing up to Speaker Pelosi that perhaps it's time to change direction, but also what they're saying publicly. You heard it in your open, a lot of the sound from Democrats who have been reticent to challenge the Speaker or reticent to go in a different direction now saying flat out that they believe they're either close or they need to be there.

And the reason why, this just reflects the almost visceral frustration, you hear from Democrats that in every corner in every effort on their investigations from multiple committees, they have been blocked. And when you look at the White House strategy of saying no to just about everything, whether it's a document request or it's a subpoena, it's been remarkably effective, at least to this point.

And this is where Speaker Pelosi comes in, in terms of what she thinks right now. Just yesterday, in a court ruling, a district court judge sided with Democrats related to subpoenas of accounting documents related to President Trump and that is part of the long game strategy. The speaker has been trying to get across to her members now for months that eventually the courts will come through and they will side with Congress.

They need to be methodical. They need to go through the process and it will all pay off. But you get back to the frustration for members. They see empty chairs. They see subpoenas being flouted. They see an administration just saying flat out no to everything they request and they want action.

When you don't see Don McGahn in a chair today even though he's subpoenaed, when there's still question about whether Robert Mueller will testify and when, that's when Democrats think they're missing an opportunity. They're missing, perhaps, what they're required to do as members of Congress and that's why you see things where they are right now.

Now, it's important to note, Speaker Pelosi is the decider here and Speaker Pelosi has not changed her tunes. Speaker Pelosi has made very clear two things. One, as long as the Senate is controlled by Republicans impeachment has no future to go through fruition and she doesn't want to go down that path.

Two, there are a lot of Democrats who won seats in Trump red districts in 2018 that don't want to be talking about impeachment. They want to be talking about health care or infrastructure or pharmaceutical cost, things like that. And she doesn't want to take the focus off that. The real question is can she keep her members in line given how they've been in the last 24 hours.

History would say, yes, she's pretty good at the job based on all accounts from Democrats in the caucus, but clearly questions and pressure rising at this point, Erin.

[19:05:17] BURNETT: Right. A bit of a, I guess, at this point a soft insurrection. Thank you very much, Phil Mattingly. And now, Democratic Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren joins me. A member of the House Judiciary Committee and I appreciate your time.

So you heard Elijah Cummings, the Chairman of the House Oversight Committee. He says, quote, I'm getting there on supporting an impeachment inquiry. Where are you?

REP. ZOE LOFGREN (D-CA): Well, I think we need to be very focused and methodical. We can't outsource the fact finding, much as I appreciate what I was able to read of the Mueller report. We need the evidence behind it. We need the material that was redacted. We need live witness testimony and that's what we need to focus on.

It is frustrating and wrong, that the President is blocking our ability to get that, but we have to go to court to do that.

BURNETT: So I guess what I'm trying to understand is you have to go to court and then a court, even if a court rules in your favor, it gets appealed by the President. And, I mean, if you're waiting to have a defiance of a final court order up to the Supreme Court, I mean, you could be waiting a year, you could be waiting more than that. Are you saying that timeline?

LOFGREN: Well, I'll tell you having an impeachment inquiry doesn't change that one bit. You still need to go to court to get your subpoenas enforced. So the I word really doesn't change what you need in order to get your subpoenas enforced.

We had a great court ruling yesterday, because the President's view is not only wrong, it's garbage. It's ridiculous. It's laughable and the court basically said, "This is nothing."

BURNETT: It's on the accounting firm, the Mazars, in the financial ...

LOFGREN: Yes. It wouldn't even stay as ruling because there's no basis for what the President is saying. To say that every executive officer is immune from testimony is ridiculous. It's ridiculous.

BURNETT: So you're saying you would wait until that process goes through and that even if impeachment proceedings were to be launched, you're not automatically going to get information. You're still going to have to fight this battle.

LOFGREN: No. It's the exact same process.

BURNETT: So what you're saying is it's pointless until the legal process is done.

LOFGREN: Unless you say we're going to have a process, you're going to be in the exact same situation of getting your subpoenas enforced by a court.

BURNETT: OK. So you're not there yet, you're waiting for the court.

LOFGREN: I think we have to do our job and our job is going to involve the third branch of government no matter what you say about impeachment.

BURNETT: OK. But you obviously have where you stand and where other stand, because look more people; Mary Gay Scanlon among them are switching tunes. They were more where you are and they're now saying, "Let's go ahead here. We got to start this now." There's key members of your committee on that list. Speaker Pelosi though, I don't know if you heard her today, it was

hard to hear it, but what she said was - they said, "What about the division in your party?" And she said, "We don't have division." I mean there clearly is division.

LOFGREN: I think actually she's right.

BURNETT: Could she manage it?

LOFGREN: No. I think there's different strategies to get to the truth. That's different than a knife fight than a division in Democrats. I worked on the Nixon impeachment when I was on the staff of Don Edwards. I was on the committee during the Clinton impeachment, so this is not my first rodeo when it comes to misbehavior in the executive branch. And there's a process you have to go through. It's frustrating, but you have to do it.

BURNETT: But do people understand this? Does Mary Gay Scanlon understand this? Does David Cicilline understand this? I don't say it pejoratively, but I mean a lot of people who know a lot just like you do are not coming to this conclusion.

LOFGREN: Well, they are valued members of our committee and our caucus, so I don't want to speak for them. I have had several members come to me today to say that they had not realized that you'd still have to go to court and so I think that is an important component.

BURNETT: So you think you might see some tamping down from them.

LOFGREN: I don't know.

BURNETT: OK. So let me ask you what Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio- Cortez has said, obviously she is pro of the process. Here's what she said today about Democrats not impeaching President Trump.


REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D-NY): Choosing to not impeach when there's an abundance of evidence could also be construed as politically motivated as well and we can't be scared of elections. We need to uphold the rule of law.


BURNETT: To her point, does she have a point that there's right, and there's wrong and there's politics? And if the constitutionally right thing to do is to go ahead with this, who cares if it means Democrats lose re-election, you got to do the right thing.

LOFGREN: I think that's right, but I also think it's absolute. You can't outsource the evidence collection to anybody else. That responsibility falls in the hands of Congress that's what we have to do now. When we finish that, then we'll see what we do next.

[19:10:06] BURNETT: Quickly before we go, your committee issued subpoena as I mentioned for the former White House Communications Director Hope Hicks and Annie Donaldson who is the chief of staff for Don McGahn. Do you think they will actually appear?

LOFGREN: Well, I think they should. If they follow the pleas of the President, they may not. But we are getting quite a few subpoenas here that we will be able to bundle up to a courtroom. Their position is really untenable.

BURNETT: All right. Congresswoman Lofgren, thank you so much for your time.

LOFGREN: Thank you.

BURNETT: And next breaking news about Trump's tax returns. The Washington Post has now obtained the draft IRS memo that says the returns must be given to Congress, contradicting the Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin. The reporter who just broke that story is out front. Plus, Ben Carson, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development unable to answer a very basic housing question.


REP. KATIE PORTER (D-CA): You know what an Oreo is?


PORTER: No, not an Oreo. An R-E-O.


BURNETT: Congresswoman Katie Porter who asked that question is out front. And the fight for 2020, Democratic Governor Steve Bullock of Montana says he can beat Trump, how? Well, he's my guest.


[19:15:04] BURNETT: Breaking news, a confidential draft IRS memo, a legal memo, says that President Trump's tax returns must be turned over to Congress, unless the President exerts executive privilege. Now, this is according to The Washington Post which has obtained a copy of the memo.

The memo says supplying the returns to the Ways and Means Committee which, of course, is the committee which has requested its subpoena is mandatory, requiring the Treasury Secretary to disclose returns and return information requested by the tax-writing Chairs.

Now, the reason this is so significant is it's a direct contradiction of secretary Mnuchin and the Trump administration. They have said that they cannot comply because the request lacks a legislative purpose. It's going to the court now, but obviously this internal memo said it doesn't say any such thing.

So Reporter Josh Dawsey that broke the story is out front on the phone. So Josh, this confidential memo seems to directly contradict the response we've heard again and again from Mnuchin. There's no legislative purpose. This appears to say there is a legislative purpose, they have every right to get it. That that's not an issue at all, right?

JOSH DAWSEY, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: Well, Treasury Secretary Mnuchin as you said has denied the returns by arguing that there's no purpose for demanding them and that they will only give over documents if there's a legitimate legislative purpose. This memo which was a draft memo to be clear was written in late 2018 as it was clear Democrats are going to take the House and they're going to be requesting tax returns and other information.

And in this memo the IRS lawyers who look exhaustively through case law and what they say is that the disclosure of tax returns to the Committee is mandatory, requiring the Secretary to disclose returns and information requested by the tax-writing chairs unless executive privilege is exerted by the President. The 10-page document further says the Secretary does not able to exercise discretion in disclosing the information provided the statutory conditions are met and I'm going to quote it from there.

So what it's saying is that the loophole that the administration has cited in denying these returns, the IRS lawyers who study this do not think that would be an acceptable way to block the tax returns.

BURNETT: OK. So that's obviously hugely significant. As you point out, the memo that you've obtained, Josh, is 10 pages long. So executive privilege, first of all, it's rarely used, this President did not use it for example during the Mueller report, during the investigation. So that's significant, that would be very rarely done.

But even if he were to exert executive privilege in this case, does the memo weigh in on whether it would hold up, whether that would actually fly?

DAWSEY: Well, what is says is that's untested waters to be clear and Democrats are saying that the 1924 law that the IRS shall return over tax members to Congress does not say whether executive privilege would be a reason for it to be denied or not. But executive privilege is kind of proliferated in recent years as you know, Erin, for a reason that the President, and this administration and other administrations don't give over information and it would probably take a higher court ruling, maybe all the way to the Supreme Court to determine whether executive privilege could be exerted.

What the lawyers who analyze this for the IRS Chief Counsel's office said it could be the only way he could possibly avoid it.

BURNETT: All right. Well, thank you very much, Josh. Obviously, a pretty significant information here as it comes to the President's tax returns. What he has said is a red line that there is no way ever that anyone is going to see any of those. Out front now, John Dean, who was White House Counsel for President Nixon and former Associate White House Counsel for President Trump Jim Schultz.

So let me just get your reaction, John, first to the development in this memo. Obviously, it is a draft memo. It's a draft, but it does directly contradict what the Treasury Secretary has been saying, which is that you lack legislative purpose. The lawyers of the IRS don't seem to think that's an issue at all. What's the significance of this to you?

JOHN DEAN, FORMER NIXON WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL: Well, it's an interesting twist given the fact that they really attacked the subpoena or the effort claiming there was no legislative purpose. That's very easily dismissed as it was by Judge Mehta in the decision yesterday. So I think the executive privilege --

BURNETT: On the accounting firm information, on the other subpoena, yes. I'm sorry about that.

DEAN: Exactly. So it would be a very, very weak effort if he invoked executive privilege, because the law is very clear. It's mandatory. It says shall and Nixon for example didn't fight it and turned over his own tax returns when the joint tax committee asked for them and they're included in that same 1924 law.

So I just think this is another twist in the story and it's not going to hold up in court anywhere and they're going to proceed. And ultimately, the Ways and Means Committee is going to get those tax returns.

[19:20:10] BURNETT: So, Jim, let me ask you, obviously, the memo, the draft memo seems to say executive privilege in this case would be the only way for the President to not do this but it's untested. It would probably go all the way to the Supreme Court as Josh was saying. Is there any question in your mind that the President, he would exert executive privilege I would presume in this case or are you not sure?

JIM SCHULTZ, FORMER ASSOCIATE WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: I think look John make some good point. But one thing we can agree on, John, is that a lot of times two lawyers don't agree and that's why we have courts to sort these things out.

But what I think is interesting though is the argument that this law was passed in 1924 following the Teapot Dome Scandal. And Teapot Dome Scandal involved bribery that happened during the administration and the intent as a result of that, the intent of the law was to cover the duration while the administration was in office. And in this case they're asking for tax returns dating back years, and years, and years.

So do I think there's going to be some serious argument in court on this? Yes. Do I think the President's got some really strong arguments as it relates to the tax returns before he held office? I think so.

BURNETT: OK. Jim, because you know the players here, why does the Treasury Secretary say that the reason is that the requests from the committee lacks legitimate legislative purpose when his own IRS memo says that that's not true? Why would he do that?

SCHULTZ: So it comes back, again, the intent of the law here. The legislative purpose would be something that occurred while the President was in office and I think that's probably the argument that the government is going to make here. And we'll see how the court sort it out. BURNETT: Right. Look, no, I see what you're saying, but I'm saying

why is the Treasury Secretary going against his own lawyers?

SCHULTZ: Hold on, he's not going against his own lawyers. Remember, that's a draft. I ran a government law organization with over 500 lawyers.

BURNETT: I mean it's a draft, but is the memo --

SCHULTZ: We had a lot of lawyers, a lot of process that went through legal memos.

BURNETT: You can somebody ...


SCHULTZ: And John understands this very well. No, I don't know whether you're finding someone to say what you want them to say, it goes through levels of analysis and ultimately up the chain. In this case you're talking about a junior lawyer and it never even made it at that point to the actual treasury lawyers and the chief counsel to Treasury Department.

BURNETT: John, let me just raise the point though because Jim is talking about things before he was in office. Look, in the case of this president, when he is currently accessing a trust, which has money coming into it from his properties and we don't know who pays the money or who's buying things. Knowing who those people are, knowing where that money is coming in, knowing the past trails of those money could be hugely important to determining whether his policy is being influenced by his pocket. So isn't that an argument that they would make to overrule his privilege?

DEAN: Well, Jim is right. There are lots of lawyers in the Treasury Department and at IRS and you might not get all of them to agree.


DEAN: I think you make a good point, Erin, that really they're making excuses, they don't want to comply with the law, they're going to do everything they can to try to tie it up as long as they can. They'd like to get it to go all the way to the Supreme Court, because that way it would delay probably until after the 2020 election. But ultimately I think that law will prevail, I think it'll be upheld.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you both very much. We'll see how this develops. And next, Ben Carson, the head of Housing and Urban Development is asked about foreclosures which is obviously essential to being the HUD secretary. Here's what happened.


PORTER: You know what an Oreo is?

CARSON: An Oreo?

PORTER: No, not an Oreo. An R-E-O.


BURNETT: The congresswoman at the center of that exchange is out front. And the fight for 2020, Democratic governor Steve Bullock of Montana is out front.


[19:28:27] BURNETT: New tonight, Housing and Urban Development Secretary, Ben Carson having this embarrassing exchange during a house hearing today.


PORTER: Why is FHA, to use a term that I think we can both understand, lousy at servicing mortgages?

CARSON: OK. I have not had any discussions about that particular issue, but I will look it up on what's going on.

PORTER: OK. So as you look it up, I'd also like you to get back to me if you don't mind to explain the disparity in REO rates. Do you know what an REO is?

CARSON: An Oreo?

PORTER: No, not an Oreo. An R-E-O.

CARSON: Real estate?

PORTER: What's the O stand for?

CARSON: E-organization?

PORTER: Owned, real estate owned. That's what happens when a property goes to foreclosure. We call it an REO and FHA loans have much higher REOs, that is they go to foreclosure rather than to loss mitigation or to known foreclosure alternatives like short sales than comparable loans at the GSEs.

CARSON: I would be extremely happy if you'd like to have you work with the people who do that.


[19:29:37] BURNETT: OK. So the top housing official in the country, that's who Ben Carson is, it's not just a person off the street where you throw an acronym. It's the top housing official in the country and was asked about foreclosures and thought it was Oreo cookies making a joke apparently online then taking a photo with a package of Oreos and tweeting a quote, "Oh, REO! Thanks, @RepKatiePorter. Enjoying a few post-hearing snacks and sending some your way!" He also sent her a note. Thanks for your part in today's hearing. Hope you like these Oreos.

Well, Democratic Congresswoman Katie Porter is OUTFRONT.

So, Congresswoman, let me just go -- step back to the beginning here. What was your initial reaction to your exchange with Secretary Carson?

REP. KATIE PORTER (D-CA): I was disappointed. I was asking serious questions about serious problems that Americans are facing. The foreclosure rate continues to exist at FHA and the foreclosure proceedings and processes have been bad for over 15 years I worked on the issue. So, I was coming with a series of serious questions and I was hoping to get serious answers.

BURNETT: So, obviously, he was not familiar with what REOs are. Why is that so important? Why are they important? And he, of course, is the secretary of housing and urban development.

PORTER: Well, one of the things I think we heard from the secretary today was a lot of effort to dodge questions and say it's the responsibility of Congress or the responsibility of lawmakers. But FHA, which is our nation's premier program for lending to particularly first time home owners and low income homebuyers. That's 100 percent within his responsibility. And as a result of these problems with foreclosures, and with that conveyance process, with the servicer's fees, as a result of that, what we're seeing is that a lot of people are not being able to approve FHA loans because the servicing costs are higher. So, this is ultimately a credit access issue.

BURNETT: So -- so I just showed the tweet where he is now trying to have fun with the exchange. Posing with Oreos, saying he is sending some your way. What's your reaction to that? Did he actually send those to your office?

PORTER: He actually sent a family-sized box of double stuff Oreos to our office. While I was pleased to receive correspondence from him, what I'm really looking for is answers. So I hope this is the first of a series of things that he sends to my office and I'm looking forward to receiving substantive answers how we can better help homeowners who find themselves struggling to make ends meet.

BURNETT: So, I played your exchange which was meaningful on many levels. I also want to play two heated exchange the secretary had with your colleague, Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley. Here those are.


REP. AYANNA PRESSLEY (D-MA): Do you believe the substandard public housing conditions pose a risk to tenants' physical, mental and emotional mental health?


PRESSLEY: Yes or no?

CARSON: You know the answer.

PRESSLEY: Yes or no? I know the answer, do you know the answer? Yes or no?

CARSON: Reclaiming my time.

PRESSLEY: You don't get to do that.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The time belongs to the gentle lady.

PRESSLEY: Would you like your grandmother live in public housing? Yes or no?

CARSON: You know very well --

PRESSLEY: Under your watch, at your helm, would you allow your grandmother to live in public housing under these conditions?

CARSON: It would be very nice if you would stop acing.


BURNETT: Was she out of line, I'm not giving him a chance to truly answer, or was he out of line?

PORTER: Look, I think that she was trying to get an answer to the question. And he could have given her one. I think part of what we feel at the end of a very long hearing is somebody who like Mr. Carson, Secretary Carson continued to evade questions.

She's really asking a straightforward question. It has a yes or no answer, and so, it's unfortunate he didn't give her one. The hearing could have moved on to address the substantive concerns.

BURNETT: There were different tones in the hearing though. I want to play his exchange here with two other people. And everyone will understand one is a man one is a woman here you go.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All right. So, you're going to ship 55,000 children from being with their families to then to a homeless status. What's going to happen with these children? Have you thought this program through?

CARSON: Well, maybe what will happen with them is that you in Congress will do your job and solve the problem.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think -- I was disappointed, especially with the negative impacts, understanding that there may be rationale reasons for looking at this -- but the negative impacts of proceeding with the mortgagee letter before doing a formal rule making as has been previously promised.

CARSON: Your point is well taken.


BURNETT: They were both Democrats. Obviously, you're a Democrat. Congresswoman Pressley is a Democrat.

Was there a difference in how he handled these questions from women and men?

PORTER: I think there clearly was. Absolutely, there clearly was. I think that this is something we saw. One of the reasons I asked the questions I did in a very kind of low key factual tone, what is your position on this, what do you know about this, was I didn't want to escalate the conversation, I wanted to start one.

And I think what we saw from Secretary Carson with so many of the questions was an effort to kind of evade and dodge giving answers to the American people which is the very point of him coming in to testify. So, it's nice that he gave Mr. McAdams, my colleague, an answer but the rest on the committee including the women, the young women, we deserve answers as well.

BURNETT: Absolutely. Thank you very much. Congresswoman Porter, I appreciate your time.

All right. And OUTFRONT next, Democratic 2020 contender, Governor Steve Bullock, says he can win in Trump country. What makes him so sure?

[19:35:01] He is my guest.

And a Republican congressman calls for Trump's impeachment. So, what do voters in his district say?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He kind of laid the outline of impeachment. And the Trump did obstruct justice.



BURNETT: Tonight in the fight for 2020, the field of Democrats may be getting bigger, but so are Joe Biden's poll numbers. A new poll from Quinnipiac has Biden topping his nearest rival, Senator Bernie Sanders, by nearly 20 points among Democrats.

An interesting tidbit among this, it's actually worth noting -- Democrats who say they are paying a lot of attention to the presidential campaign when you just look at them, Biden actually does even better. He gets 42 percent of the vote and Sanders goes down to 8.

So, how does a candidate just entering the race last week try to gain traction?

OUTFRONT now, Democratic presidential candidate and the governor of Montana, Steve Bullock.

And, Governor, I appreciate your time tonight. So, look, people have, you know, started to form opinions about the

race. Some of them more solid. People are following this closely. How will you break through?

GOV. STEVE BULLOCK (D-MT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Yes, Erin -- I only just got in this because my legislator just ended had to get Medicaid expansion renewed for 100,000 Montanans. But I think how I'll break through is ultimately the way I've been successful here in Montana, who's the only one in the field that actually won in a state where Trump won.

[19:40:06] He was on the ballot in 2016. He took Montana by 20. I won by four. I've been able to bridge divides and get meaningful progressive things done not only just health care but freezing college tuition, getting dark money out of our elections.

I think I've done more for kind of the original sin, and that's addressing the corrupting influences of outside spending in our elections and anybody in the field. So I think I offer something unique even in this big field.

BURNETT: So let me ask you because you point out obviously something that stands out about you which is that in 2016 the president won Montana by 20 points, you won reelection as the Democrat being governor in the same year. So, I'm curious, Governor, what do you have in common with Trump that you both were successful in this same state at the same time?

BULLOCK: Well, I don't know that we have candidly that much in common but I know that Montanans, even if they disagreed with me in some areas, fundamentally thought that I'd be fighting to make their lives better. And I think really when we look at it there are so many folks you could say, yes, the economy is booming. But when for the last 40 years the average American worker hasn't had a pay increase in real terms.

When you turn around and say 44 percent of our country, if there was an emergency, they wouldn't have $400 bucks in their pocket, that really a lot of folks don't feeling the economy is working for them. I think folks in Montana certainly knew that I'd wake up each day trying to make both their economic life better, their health care, their education and I think that some people voted for Donald Trump because like this system, the economy, and Washington, D.C. isn't working for them so they said why not?

BURNETT: So, look, you're a direct person. I want to take coal as a example. Trump obviously is pro-coal, right? Most of your Democratic rivals treat coal as villain.

When candidate Hillary Clinton was against coal, you came out. You were blunt. You said there's, quote, no way to quit coal in next 15, 20 years.

So, look, you may see that as you come from a governor of a state that knows about energy. You are a plain spoken person. But can you explain that, can you sell that view to Democratic primary voters who hear that and way, whoa, whoa, whoa, that can't be a Democrat talking?

BULLOCK: No, sure, and look I had the worst fire season of my state's history two years ago. We're up near Glacier National Park right now. Come soon because those glaciers are melting.

Climate change is something that fundamentally we have to address. So, at the same time that I've doubled the amount of wind capacity in the last six years, four times the number of solar, and also recognized that all the scientists say that we have to be carbon neutral by 2050.

I think we can do it a lot sooner than that. I think ultimately, you are seeing lower emissions and actually lower energy production from coal more closures in the last two and a half years than eight under Obama. So what we need to be doing is moving forward. We need to rejoin Paris. We can't do this alone.

China emits twice as much CO2 as we do. We need to turn around and say CAFE standard that Trump repealed, not even the auto industry wanted that. And we need to set both the long-term and short term goals to become carbon neutral, fundamentally, I thynk that we can do that.

BURNETT: So, if you think we can do that, but are you changing view on coal. It sounds like you're saying actually it's gotten -- there's been more elimination under Trump than there was under Obama and you think we can do it.

BULLOCK: Well, there actually has been more. And in many respects you're dealing with you know plants that were built 40 years ago, 50 years ago. And the world's changing in that respect. Look, we need to harness technology every way we can. If there would be a way to use coal that is -- captures its carbon, less greenhouse gas intensive.

Obviously, technology ought to look at that. But the other thing we have to recognize is that -- and I think we can make big bold steps in the United States but we can't do it alone because China and the rest of the world will be continuing to burn fossil fuels.

BURNETT: So, Governor, I want to ask you because obviously you're a governor, also the former attorney general for Montana. And I want to ask you about be something Preet Bharara tweeted the other day, which was -- whether Democrat candidates would, quote, consider pardoning Trump if averaged after leaving office.

So, as a former attorney general, what do you think?

BULLOCK: That whether -- one more time on that, Erin, I missed that. Whether the president --

BURNETT: I'm sorry. Preet Bharara was saying -- yes, he was saying -- thought it was worthwhile to ask Democratic candidates that if Trump is charged after he leaves office, would you pardon him?

BULLOCK: No, I would not. [19:45:01] BURNETT: All right. There's a direct answer.

BULLOCK: No, no. And -- and I think to step become, look, Congress needs to be doing its full investigatory functions. And the executive branch actually has to be responding. What we are seeing is even when lawyers who are expected to follow the rule of law, officers of the court aren't showing up for hearings, we've got a big problem.

But did I think nine trips or stops in Iowa last week. Great, saw incredible energy but folks were talking about you know how is government to work for them a lot more than they were the investigations.

BURNETT: All right. Fair point and I appreciate your time, Governor. Thank you.

BULLOCK: Erin, thanks for having me, for sure.

BURNETT: All right. And one of the governor's rivals vying for the Democrat nomination, Beto O'Rourke is live at 10:00 on CNN town hall tonight.

And next, Congressman Justin Amash becoming the first Republican to say Trump, quote, engaged in impeachable conduct. So, what do the voters back home in Michigan say?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think his actions and verbiage were inappropriate but perhaps not impeachable.


BURENTT: Plus, Democrats subpoenaed the former White House counsel Don McGahn's chief of staff. She was crucial in the Mueller report. So, who is Annie Donaldson?


[19:50:08] BURNETT: Tonight, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy says Congressman Justin Amash, the first Republican to call for Trump's impeachment, says that Amash is out of step with his conference and out of step with America.

But what do voters in Amash's western Michigan district think?

Athena Jones is on the ground.


ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Michigan Congressman Justin Amash isn't worried about his political future.

REP. JUSTIN AMASH (R-MI): I feel very confident in my district.

JONES: Despite drawing a primary challenger after becoming the first GOP member of Congress to call for President Trump's impeachment. The break with his party prompting the president to label Amash a loser.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He's been against Trump from the beginning. Personally, I think he's not much.

JONES: Here in Amash's congressional district, a mixed bag. Some are praising the five-term congressman.

WESLEY WATSON, VOTER: Our congressman, you know, he tweets this past weekend, he kind of laid the outline of impeachment and Trump did obstruct justice. I think our president is kind of acting as a mob boss.

MARGARET CHAMBERLAIN, VOTER: I definitely think the impeachment process should begin because not doing something, we're sending a message to people who may not be paying attention that it's not as serious -- there's still more investigation to be done. It's not as serious of an issue as I think it is.

JONES: Meanwhile, Michelle Czuba led several Trump supporters we met, several of whom declined to comment on camera, disagrees with Amash. She has a problem with some of president's conduct, but doesn't think he crossed the line.

MICHELLE CZUBA, TRUMP SUPPORTER: I think his actions and his verbiage were inappropriate but perhaps not impeachable.

JONES: Another Trump supporter told us she used to support Amash, but his latest actions caused her vote.

Amash, a libertarian conservative, was a founding member of the hard line conservative Freedom Caucus, a group that has staunchly defended the president. He's the first Republican to express support for an independent investigation into Russian interference into the 2016 election.

What impact his latest moves will have on his political fortunes is an open question. One thing he may have going for him? Even voters who don't support Amash, like attorney Roger Martin, an independent, see him as honest and principled.

ROGER MARTIN, INDEPENDENT VOTER: I think he's speaking his mind here, which he often does. Most of the time, I don't agree with him when he speaks his mind, but I'm not sure this is political calculation on Amash as much as his honest perceptions of the Mueller report.


JONES: Now, Congressman Amash won his last election with 54.4 percent of the vote and he didn't have a primary opponent. Well, now, State Representative Jim Lower has decided to challenge Amash for his seat, that 2020 raise will be more of a fight if Amash decides to run again.

And speaking of 2020, some political observers believe Amash's latest moves are about getting attention for his own race for president in 2020 possibly as a third party candidate -- Erin.

BURNETT: Interesting.

All right. Athena, thank you very much.

And next, Democrats subpoena the woman whose notes are at the center of the most controversial and momentous moments in the Mueller report. So who is Annie Donaldson?


[19:57:33] BURNETT: The House Judiciary Committee tonight subpoenaing Don McGahn's former chief of staff Annie Donaldson. Donaldson's notes were cited more than 65 times in Robert Mueller's report, 65 times. Tom Foreman is OUTFRONT.


TRUMP: They're going crazy because when the Mueller report was finished, it said no collusion. They went crazy.

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The president is bashing congressional Democrats and the mounting investigations against him as his team blocks former White House attorney Don McGahn from testifying before Congress. So, now, the focus is turning to McGahn's then chief of staff Annie Donaldson Talley.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): The case is not close.

FOREMAN: A staunchly conservative lawyer, Donaldson's name appears 67 times in the redacted Mueller report. Her notes of meetings from between McGahn and Trump are at the center of some of the most embarrassing and controversial moments, including her speculation that Trump's decision to fire FBI Director James Comey would destroy his presidency.

Is this the beginning of the end? Her reference one day to being just in the middle of another Russia fiasco. She recorded details about efforts to pressure Attorney General Jeff Sessions over his recusal from the Russia probe and about Trump's interest in canning special counsel Robert Mueller.

When the report emerged and the impact of Donaldson's words were clear, the president's response was swift: watch out for people that take so-called notes.

TRUMP: Nobody has ever done what I've done. I've given total transparency.

FOREMAN: But obscure players have loomed large in political dramas before.

BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT: I did not having sexual relations with that woman.

FOREMAN: Way back when President Bill Clinton's tryst with intern Monica Lewinsky exploded, his personal secretary Betty Curry became a target in the special prosecutor's probe. Her recollections about meetings, gifts and more. As the Watergate scandal unfolded around President Richard Nixon --

RICHARD NIXON, FORMER PRESIDENT: I just wonder if the son-of-a-bitch had a recorder on him.

FOREMAN: His own tape-recordings and memories from at times lower level players also added up. Each may have been just a snippet but they built the case that Nixon had to go.


FOREMAN: Donaldson now works for a law firm in Alabama. She's not talking about what she saw or heard, and the White House insists the president has a right to keep it that way. But some in Congress disagree. They still think he broke or bent the law, and they would like to see Donaldson or at least her legal pads -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Tom.

And thanks to all of you joining us. Anderson starts now.