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Pelosi Says Trump is Engaged in a "Cover-Up", But No to Impeachment; Former Governor John Hickenlooper (D-CO) is Interviewed About His Presidential Run. Aired on 7-8p ET

Aired May 22, 2019 - 19:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Jeff, thank you very much. And to our viewers, thanks very much watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM. Erin Burnett OUTFRONT starts right now.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: OUTFRONT next, it's war. President Trump shuts down discussions with Democrats. Was it a temper tantrum or planned all along? Plus, another major loss for the President, a federal judge just ruling that Trump's banks must comply with congressional subpoenas. It is a huge ruling and a second judge to rule against Trump in as many days. How soon could the Supreme Court be involved? And the former Governor of Colorado, John Hickenlooper, says he can do one thing Trump can't, so what is it that will get him to the White House? He's out front. Let's go out front.

And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett. OUTFRONT this evening, a declaration of war and an extraordinary day for a president who is the star of his own reality show every day. The President using the backdrop of the White House Rose Garden to launch strike against Democrats, vowing to essentially shut down Washington until Congress stops investigating him.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I just wanted to let you know that I walked into the room and I told Senator Schumer, Speaker Pelosi, I want to do infrastructure, but you know what? You can't do it under these circumstances, so get these phony investigations over with.


BURNETT: OK. So in a moment I'm going to speak to a Democrat who was in that meeting, the one that just referred to with Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer when the President stormed out. Basically, the President called Democrats to the White House to talk about infrastructure, something that he has told you, he has told me, he has told everyone, he has told us, the American people, the voters, that he was committed to fixing.


TRUMP: We have to fix our roads and our tunnels and bridges and everything.

Our roads, our bridges, our highways, our schools, our country is in bad shape.

We have to fix our infrastructure. It's not like we have a choice.


BURNETT: So urgent that we don't have a choice. Well, he had a choice today and he chose to not do anything about it, to not tackle an issue he says is so important it cannot be ignored. And it is because the President blew up after hearing this on television.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): We believe that the President of the United States is engaged in a cover-up.


BURNETT: OK. That was right before the meeting and those words cover-up struck a nerve with the President.


TRUMP: I walk in to look at people that had just said that I was doing the cover-up. I don't do cover-ups.


BURNETT: OK. Well, first of all, on that particular question, doing cover-ups, what do you call this?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President, did you know about the $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels?



BURNETT: OK. Well, that's not true. He knew and he paid personally. So let's just put that aside, where does this go from here?


PELOSI: I pray for the President of the United States and I pray for the United States of America.


BURNETT: OK. Are we're prayer? Kaitlan Collins is out front live outside the White House. Kaitlan, look, the President calls this meeting, but he's got his placard ready to say the Mueller investigation was a whole hot pile of nothing. He was very angry.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes. We're told the President actually erupted when he heard Nancy Pelosi make that comment, accusing him of a cover-up this morning as he watched it on cable news. But to be clear, Erin, these infrastructure talks weren't doomed to begin with because neither side was going to agree on how they were going to pay for this deal and how they are going to fund it.

But the President didn't cancel that meeting because he wanted to make a point and he tried to do that when you walked into the cabinet room, didn't sit down, didn't shake a single Democrats' hand but instead lash out at them and Pelosi in particular overheard comment about the cover-up. And then the President marched out to the Rose Garden where reporters including myself had been rushed out there at the last minute and he vowed he was not going to work with Democrats as long as they were investigating him.

Now, Democrats say this was a setup. This was long planned because the President couldn't find a way to finance this infrastructure deal, this $2 trillion deal that he agreed to three weeks ago.


COLLINS: But we're also told by sources that the President is genuinely angry and shaken over these investigations that are happening on Capitol Hill or at least attempting to happen. A subpoena was recently issued for Hope Hicks who formerly was one of the President's closest confidants and, of course, they've asked his son Donald Trump Jr. to come back for more questioning, so that anger from the President we are told is genuine.

The question of whether or not it's sustainable that he won't work with Democrats when there are budget and funding deadlines coming up and questions about a big disaster, a bill is still up for discussion. But, of course, Erin, we've got a note that the President is clearly rattled by these investigations that are going on and that was pretty clear from what would happened in the Rose Garden today.

[19:05:05] BURNETT: All right. Kaitlan, thank you very much. And I want to go now to someone who was there, a Congressman who's there in that room with the President and the Speaker, Chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Democrat Peter DeFazio. Thanks for being with me, Chairman. Look, I mean obviously this is an issue you were hoping to get something done. What was your reaction in the room when the President came in as Kaitlan said stood, didn't shake any hands, what exactly happened?

REP. PETER DEFAZIO (D-OR): I was a little bit stunned. I mean the meeting we had three weeks ago was very positive. The President himself bid the number up to $2 trillion. We were talking $1 trillion to $1.5 trillion. And we had a very positive interaction and the agreement was three weeks we'll come back and we'll talk more substantively about exactly what goes in the program and how we're going to pay for it.

And my idea was we would all agree together and walk out together, so there's no political advantage in how we're going to fund this proposal. But it was a bit odd because his seats in the middle just about opposite me and he just came in the door, didn't go toward his seat and then pronounce that until we stop doing our legitimate job which is oversight administration as an independent branch of government, Article One of the Constitution, that he will not work with us on infrastructure and, I don't know, whatever else. That's too bad. We've got lots of things --

BURNETT: And then what, he literally just storm out? Was he yelling?

DEFAZIO: No. I mean, he didn't yell but it was just he came in, made the pronouncement, just turned his back and walked out the door. I mean I think there was a pretty stunned silence in the room. I mean we made clear to him three weeks ago that we have to be in this together.

His administration has proposed - he has talked in the campaign trail infrastructure investment, every budget he has submitted cuts infrastructure dramatically.

BURNETT: Yes. Oh, for sure.

DEFAZIO: So where's the where? Where is it?

BURNETT: When this happened, when you say you were stunned and others, it was a stunned silence, were his aides stunned or did it seem they were expecting this?

DEFAZIO: It was odd. Shahira Knight who's head of government affairs wasn't there. She had another obligation. There were people sitting at the table I've never seen before who as far as I know have nothing do with the infrastructure. I think it was a staged event. The only principals who were there were Secretary Mnuchin and Ivanka Trump. Well, Kellyanne Conway is sitting at the table. She has something to do with infrastructure.

It was odd. I mean I'm just sitting there and I thought, "Well, this is odd. I don't know who these people are. They weren't in the last meeting." So I think this was --

BURNETT: And so it felt staged.

DEFAZIO: Remember, last night they sent us a letter, "Until you accept our defective renegotiation of NAFTA with no enforcement of labor and environment in Mexico, the same problem with a Clinton deal, we can't go forward in infrastructure." That was yesterday and then today it was, "Well, if you do any investigations of me, we're not going to do infrastructure." So he's going to punish the country, the American people because we're doing our legitimate job.

BURNETT: Yes. Well, it's interesting that you point out there are different people in the room and there's people that you felt it looked staged. I mean, can I just ask you though when you say the person, legislative affairs person who was working with you wasn't there, others who've been working with you weren't there, have you felt that there's been an honest effort from those closest to the President to work with you on this issue? Obviously, today it blew up but I mean had there been an honest effort separate from him being the one who upped the whole thing to $2 trillion when you weren't even asking for half of that, was there an honest effort before this?

DEFAZIO: I mean there's been a split all along in the administration. I mean Mick Mulvaney doesn't believe in government and he wasn't at the meeting when we agreed on the two trillion, he was in California. He immediately said, "That's not going to happen." He's in California.

BURNETT: Yes. Yes. That same day he said that. Yes.

DEFAZIO: So as did Mitch McConnell, so I think Mulvaney won. I think that's what happened as Mulvaney ultimately said, "No, Mr. President, we're not going to do infrastructure. You can't fund it. It's off the table."

BURNETT: So the number two Republican in the Senate, John Thune, told CNN today that - the quote from him was, "Seems like it started this morning when Pelosi held her initial news conference. That certainly made it difficult to have a productive meeting at the White House. It seems almost like this was a conceived strategy, she had to know going in there that that would light him up."

She had to have known that. Now, I know you're saying it was staged and planned so maybe he was already planning it. But when she said the President of the United States is engaged in a cover-up before she's about to go meet with him and do a deal, the likes of which there's been nothing like it between Democrats and Republicans since he went in office. Did she sort of want to blow it up herself?

DEFAZIO: No. I mean, look, there's a difference in our caucus over how quickly and aggressively we move forward on potential impeachment and the inquiry and she has a regular Wednesday caucus. She was at the caucus. That was a major subject of discussion. She came out and press jumped on her and she said honestly what the discussion was during the caucus.

I mean what would you call this administration that is stonewalling every attempt to bring people before judiciary or intelligence or any other committee including people who don't work at the White House anymore?

[19:10:13] BURNETT: But it's a cover-up, can I just ask you, Chairman, do you think you all are obligated to go ahead with impeachment proceedings? Because if you're going to call it that, don't you have to investigate?

DEFAZIO: We are essentially a grand jury. I'm investigating the Trump Hotel and the FBI headquarters which I think is a really big deal and potentially a very big scandal. But other committees are within their jurisdiction investigating as they should. We want the Mueller report, we want the full unredacted Mueller report. We need to know what was really in there, not what Bob Barr said and intel really wants to get to the total bottom of Russia's influence in the election.

These are legitimate oversight issues by the United States Congress. I mean Richard Nixon in 1973 signed a major infrastructure bill while he was under investigation for Watergate. He didn't say, "Oh, I'm not going to work with you on infrastructure for the American people because you're investigating me."

BURNETT: That's a great irony.

DEFAZIO: This is unprecedented, unprecedented.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much. I appreciate your time, Chairman.

DEFAZIO: Thank you.

BURNETT: And next, this sign displayed in the Rose Garden as Trump abruptly ended those talks, the sign was there, the sign was waiting. Was he just planning to call it quits all the way along? Plus, Trump suffers a major blow today, a federal judge tonight ruling, judges biggest lender, Deutsche Bank, has to turn over Trump records. And is Nancy Pelosi trying to have it both ways when it comes to impeachment?


[19:15:19] BURNETT: Tonight, cover-up. Those are the words from the House Speaker Nancy Pelosi talking about the President of the United States just before meeting with him today.


PELOSI: We believe that no one is above the law, including the President of the United States, and we believe that the President of the United States is engaged in a cover-up.

TRUMP: Instead of walking in happily into a meeting, I walk in to look at people that had just said that I was doing a cover-up. I don't do cover-ups.


BURNETT: Sometimes you play this and you just have this moment where you almost want to laugh and then you realize it's not funny when you're talking with the greatest country in the world and people acting like they're in prekindergarten. Manu Raju is out front on Capitol Hill.

Manu, the word cover-up is clearly a charged word, OK, it's a charged word. It's Nixonian and it echoes and it struck a chord with the President today. So why did the Speaker use that word?

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, she's channeling the frustration of her House Democratic caucus, people who are very frustrated, the failure to get information, the resistance by this administration to comply with their subpoenas, the stonewalling that they have seen, the Speaker wanted to send a very blunt message about what she has been witnessing behind the scenes, I'm told, for days.

She has been discussing this about a cover-up. She said that this is something she's told her colleagues that we should tell people that there is actual cover-up that's happening. At the same time, she's facing pressure from some of her members to embrace opening up a formal impeachment inquiry. She's not prepared to go that far. She wants to go the current route where they're fighting these subpoena.

They're demanding the subpoenas be complied with. They're fighting in court. They've had two court victories this week. She's trying to argue that that is getting results, but she also wants to say that just because we're not doing impeachment does not mean that Democrats are not confronting the President which is why she put out that very strongly worded statement when she came out today.

And just moments ago, Erin, she put out a statement hailing this court ruling from tonight and used the word cover-up again. But she said it is an unprecedented cover-up campaign of the facts, so she's being more precise in our language here saying it's a stonewalling that is the cover-up, Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Manu, thank you very much. And out front now, former Director of the Nixon Library, Tim Naftali, White House Correspondent for American Urban Radio Networks, April Ryan and Scott Jennings, who was Special Assistant to President George W. Bush.

So Tim, she used the word and now she is using it again tonight to make it very clear to everybody that she is not afraid of the word, she doesn't regret the word, she was purposeful in the word, was it a mistake?

TIM NAFTALI, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: I think that she has a balancing act and she understands, I believe that impeachment could divide the Democratic Party. We are all assuming that every Democrat, let's say, is a partisan who vote against the against President Trump. There are many Democrats that would have a lot of pressure from their constituents particularly those one in red districts.

BURNETT: Yes, in red district. Yes.

NAFTALI: And so I think it's the White House's strategy to goad Nancy Pelosi into impeachment inquiry. It's unprecedented. Bill Clinton and Richard Nixon did not want impeachment inquiries. I think this president is goading the Speaker into one.

She may have made it a little easier for him today, but in the last - ever since the Mueller report came out, his strategy has been the same, stonewall, stonewall, stone wall.

BURNETT: So Scott, the President and Democrats part of this is coming down to trying to point fingers over is this all a waste of time and keeping us away from doing our jobs or not, and they have two very different views of that, here.


TRUMP: I've said from the beginning, right from the beginning that you probably can't go down two tracks.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): We can do both. It's clear the President doesn't want to do any of that.

TRUMP: And I told Senator Schumer, Speaker Pelosi, "I want to do infrastructure, but you know what, you can't do it under these circumstances. So get these phony investigations over with."

PELOSI: We've been investigating him since we took our majority, so there's nothing new in that.


BURNETT: So Scott, they're saying you can do two things at once. You can investigate and you can legislate. He's saying, "No, you can't." Can you?

SCOTT JENNINGS, FORMER SPECIAL ASSISTANT TO PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: I think you can have oversight, a legitimate oversight, and you can have legitimate governing going on all at the same time, that's pretty common. But when you step in front of the microphone before you're supposed to have a meeting and say the President of the United States is essentially a criminal engage in covering up his own criminal activity.

Well, that takes it to a whole another level and I think it makes it harder for them to work together. So I think right now what we're seeing, I want to respond to something Tim said, I don't think impeachment actually would divide the Democratic Party. I think they'd be rather unified, I don't think there's a Democrat that would vote against it on the floor.

And if you look at the polling, a vast majority of Democrats want to impeach the President around the country. All of the polling is clear on that. So Pelosi is trying to serve two masters, her caucus, and the radicals at her caucus who want to do this and the American people who expect her to work with the President to govern this country. It's hard to do.

[19:20:38] BURNETT: So April on this issue, the President - you just heard Peter DeFazio, the Chairman of the Transportation Committee and Infrastructure Committee say he walked in, it felt like a staged event. None of the people who we've been talking to or working with that have been in prior meetings in infrastructure were there instead it's Mnuchin, Ivanka Trump, and Kellyanne Conway and a bunch of people who didn't know and they seem to know this was going to happen.

There was a sign on the podium that's had all of the numbers and everything laid out. I mean, it's not like it's written with a sharpie. The sign was ready to go. Was this all ready to go and the president was going to do it anyway or looking for Pelosi to say cover-up or whatever it was she said or not?

APRIL RYAN, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, AMERICAN URBAN RADIO NETWORKS: Yes, this was most definitely strategy that was already pre-planned. And Nancy Pelosi may have said the word cover-up, but if you really believe in serving the people and you really wanted to do infrastructure like you had been telling people, you would do it. The issue was the pay for, how are you going to pay for and maybe he felt like, "Hey, I don't know what to do and I can kind of play this off of this impeachment game and see how it floats."

Well, going back to what Scott said, it doesn't float well because if you look at history and I'm going to give you a little bit of a history lesson, Scott. Remember when Bill Clinton was impeached, he was dealing with Congress, Tom DeLay was going after him viciously and vehemently and he still worked for the American public.

He did the S-CHIP. He balanced the budget and there was a surplus then, the earned income tax credit. He also had the race initiative. He was going around the country trying to heal the racial divide with town hall meetings. So power means service no matter impeachment or not.


JENNINGS: Yes. Well, I would just say that the President is also doing things for the American people on the economy. We've got a red- hot economy, low unemployment. He's working on trade deals right now, standing up to China that he was expected to do.

So I think you could always say a few things that a president is doing. I'm just telling you that it is going to be exceedingly difficult to cut deals ...

RYAN: Farmers are hurting by these tariffs. Farmers are hurting by these tariffs.

JENNINGS: ... if they are calling people criminals and engaging in cover-ups. It's very hard to have a negotiation in good faith.

RYAN: The auto industry, the domestic auto industry is hurting by these tariffs. The auto industry. The farmers are hurting by the tariffs. These tariffs are crippling a certain segments of society and if you want to talk about the economy, this president vowed to shut down the government because he didn't get his way on a border wall. The economy is doing well but left to his own devices things would change for the worse.

BURNETT: So Tim I want to ask you about where Nancy Pelosi stands on this though, because this is really important and if there is a split in the party and there is a split in the party. Scott may be right, you'll get all of the votes, but a lot of those people don't want to be put in a position to cast that vote and that's what this is about.

The Republican Congressman Justin Amash who has been standing up on this very loudly and proudly has called for impeachment proceedings against President Trump. He says on principles of the Constitution he had this to say about Speaker Pelosi in her trying to have it both ways.


RAJU: Are you disappointed that the speaker does not want to launch an impeachment inquiry?

REP. JUSTIN AMASH (R-MI): I think the speaker is talking on both sides a little bit.


BURNETT: Is she? I mean you say cover-up but you won't launch impeachment proceedings, can you have both those things at the same time?

NAFTALI: If Congressman Amash wants to build a bipartisan coalition for impeachment, this is not the way to do it. You don't do it by attacking the Speaker of the House. I don't know why he said what he said. There are lots of questions perhaps about the strategy that the Speaker is using, but I'm not really sure what Congressman Amash is going to do.

BURNETT: So you're saying he may be right but he shouldn't have said it?

NAFTALI: Erin, I would say if he wants to do it, if he wants to build a coalition, that's not how you do it.

BURNETT: OK. Quick final words, Scott.

JENNINGS: Erin, yes. Look, I rarely agree with Justin Amash on virtually anything, but I think today he's actually right. If you're going to say the President is a criminal and that he's engaged in a cover-up, but, oh, impeachment, the politics of that are bad. I think the American people are like, "Well, if you think he's a criminal and he's covering things up and you're not willing to impeach, then are you lying to us or you're just not willing to do your job?" I think if you're going to say those words, you got to be ready to back it up.

BURNETT: All right.

RYAN: Erin, the courts are pushing these investigations. They're allowing them to investigate, so there's something to this.

[19:24:56] BURNETT: And that is the big question here, of course, is whether they're going to get what they want through the courts and make a decision on impeachment without actually having to launch impeachment proceedings as a predicate to that and that is what is next because it's a big development today.

President Trump suffering another major loss, a judge ruling Congress can get Trump's financial records. So is the President stonewall starting to crumble even without impeachment proceedings? Plus, a new poll shows support for impeachment dropping. Are Democrats playing a very dangerous game by calling for it?


[19:29:23] BURNETT: Breaking news, a federal judge delivers a major blow to President Trump. It is the second one this week on a subpoena. A judge rejecting Trump's attempt to block Deutsche Bank and Capital One from complying with congressional subpoenas for Trump family bank records, family bank records. Deutsche Bank, keep in mind, is by far Trump's largest lender it was

the only major bank willing to do business with him for an extended period of time. And according to The New York Times, Deutsche has lent Trump a total of more than $2 billion in the past 20 years. This development coming to two days after another judge said Trump's accounting firm also must comply with the congressional subpoena.

Out front now, former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Harry Sandick and Carrie Cordero who was the counsel to the U.S. Assistant Attorney General for National Security. Thanks to both. Harry, let's start with Deutsche Bank. How significant is this ruling? You're talking Deutsche Bank --


BURNETT: -- $2 billion over 20 years. Family records.

SANDICK: Yes, between this and the accountant subpoena that we talked about day or two ago, there's going to be some sort of a financial X- ray taken of the president. The committees in Congress are going to get to see much more information than they could have possibly hoped for.

BURNETT: Because this isn't just business, this is personal. This is everything.

SANDICK: Yes. Yes. If he is getting money from some suspicious source, it will be visible in this record. I wonder even if the notes that the Deutsche Bank anti-money laundering people -- there was a story a few days ago about suspicious activity reports that were considered by the Deutsche Bank compliance people. Will those notes be in this file, given -- pointing the way for Congress to see what was suspicious about these accounts?

BURNETT: So, Carrie, what do you make of this, that you have these two rulings back-to-back? These were -- one of the judges was critical of the committee for having such a broad subpoena but still went ahead and ruled in their favor? I mean, what does this mean when you look at all of the subpoenas that are out there and precedent which is seemingly now being built?

CARRIE CORDERO, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, I think, first of all, it shows that we now have two federal district court judges in different districts who are affirming Congress's legitimate oversight role. And that's sort of the big takeaway, that they are saying that these subpoenas are valid, that Congress has a legitimate purpose in issuing them, and so they're letting them go forward. And the president is no longer able to litigate the way he used to when he was just a private individual and just try to drag things out in litigation.

In the D.C. case, Judge Mehta, he expedited his review of the case. And this decision came quickly too and so, we'll get the opinion and we'll see the judge's entire analysis. But I would expect it to be fairly similar to the D.C. court. But it just shows the president is not immune from congressional oversight. BURNETT: No. And you know, when the president tries to say it's

politically motivated, you now have the other branch, the judicial branch, Harry weighing in in favor of Congress. So that in and of itself I think people should consider how significant that is, right, that they are saying that Congress has this legitimate right.

So let's just go through the timing here, because when you are Nancy Pelosi and you're saying the courts are giving me what I want, I don't need to launch impeachment proceedings and all the political hair on that dog. I can get what I want the other way, and then see if that's something we should do.

What is the timing here? Because, obviously, he wins -- this goes against the president and then he appeals and it goes and appeal, and could be a long time or no before we actually see these -- this document?

SANDICK: Based on something that happened just a few minutes ago I think it could be a little time. The House committee that Chairman Cummings chairs, the Oversight Committee, has entered into an agreement with the Trump lawyers to -- essentially a compromise. The appeal will be expedited. So, it will be fully briefed by --

BURNETT: And this is for the accounting -- personal and business accounting information from the president's accounting firm Mazars.

SANDICK: That's right. But I would predict a similar agreement reached over the Deutsche Bank subpoena that I think the financial services committee propounded. I think they'll both go in the same way. And the agreement is that essentially the case should be briefed for appeal this summer and should be argued perhaps as early as the fall. And if that results in a speedy decision, even if the Supreme Court wants to take it, one would think the decision will come out before the election -- sometime in the early 2020.

BURNETT: So, Carrie, do you think that's what we're looking, but you're still looking at, by the way, six, eight, ten months from now.

CORDERO: Well, the next hearing in the one case is going to be this summer. We'll see how quickly this New York case goes. It really is a lot of discretion put upon the federal judges. They have the ability if they want to, to move these along fairly quickly, if they want to hold the parties to brief things quickly and do things. I think it's a party of months but I don't think necessarily we should assume it will go on for years.

And the other thing I would add, Erin, is that, you know, there's been talking about constitutional crisis. I think what these two opinions can help us do this week is pause that a little bit and say, you know, we're not in a constitutional crisis. We do have a third branch of government able to weigh in on these matters and help move this forward.

The process might be difficult, it may some take time. It might be messy. It might be painful for the country. But we need to go through it. BURNETT: Right and you can't yet say you have exhausted that and only

are left with impeachment -- not yet.

All right. Thank you both very much.

And next, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi refusing to budge on impeachment.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): I'm not sure that we get any more information by instituting an impeachment inquiry.


[19:35:04] BURNETT: OK. So you heard the lawyers basically agreeing with her. But a lot of Democrats in Congress don't. Can she hold the line?

And the fight for 2020. The former governor of Colorado, John Hickenlooper, is OUTFRONT.


BURNETT: Tonight, the battle over impeachment. Democratic Congressman David Cicilline says he is standing by his call for impeachment proceedings despite two major rulings this week in favor of Democrats and what they subpoenaed from the president's financial records.


REP. DAVID CICILLINE (D-RI): I think the value of open inquiry is that it signals to the administration and to the witnesses who may be contemplating defying subpoenas that this is an important proceeding. Actually, it would raise the level of seriousness.


BURNETT: OUTFRONT now: Keith Boykin, Democratic strategist who served as an aide in the Clinton White House, and Charlie Dent, who served as a Republican representative from Pennsylvania. Thanks to both.

Keith, you're with me, so let's get to the heart of this. This is the battle for the soul of the Democratic Party right now on Capitol Hill. Where do any stand on this issue? Is it an issue, a matter of principle or is it a matter of politics?

And Democrats against impeachment proceedings have said, you know, like Nancy Pelosi, there is a cover-up here. But let the courts handle it. So far we're winning so let it drag out. The other side, David Cicilline and others, say no, this is a matter of principle, it is clear, we should go ahead.

KEITH BOYKIN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, I mean, Nancy Pelosi today after her meeting with the president said two -- three things. First, she said that the president is obstructing justice. Second, she said the president is engaging in a cover-up. And third she says it may be an impeachable offense, or could be impeachable offense.

When you take all three things together, combine with the fact that 900 -- more than 900 federal prosecutors have said that Trump obstructed justice.

BURNETT: Right, former prosecutors --

BOYKIN: Former federal prosecutors, exactly.

BURNETT: -- who have read the Mueller report, said they would conclude that it warranted a charge.

BOYKIN: Exactly. Along with the fact that the Mueller report itself lays out at least ten counts where the president could have possibly obstructed justice. And you take all that together, combined with everything the president has done with the corruption, the Emoluments Clause, the other violations of the law and the defiance of the subpoenas, it's hard to argue for Democrats that they should sit back and weigh out -- weigh out the political consequences, put their fingers in the wind and see which it's blowing to determine what to do, instead of doing the right thing.

The Constitution calls them to not just to be legislators, but also to be oversight people. Oversight people who look over and see what the president doing, and keep him and hold him accountable. I don't think that they can't excuse one and just do the other. They have to do both.

BURNETT: So let me ask you, Congressman Dent. You know, Cicilline also tweeted the president obstructed justice. Anyone else would be indicted and prosecuted for that. As Keith pointed out, 900 former Department of Justice prosecutors agree with him.

But yet you have people, Democrats in Congress, leadership, Nancy Pelosi who are saying that the president engaged in a cover-up. But that the courts are giving them what they want or going in that direction so they don't need to go ahead with that word impeachment.

Are they just using the courts right now as a fig leaf? Or do you think that this is a legitimate path for Pelosi?

CHARLIE DENT, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I do think it's a legitimate path for Pelosi. But more importantly for Speaker Pelosi, she wants to remain speaker. And she is trying to protect her members who are in seats that were previously held by Republicans.

I can guarantee you, those Democratic members in Trump-held seats for the most part don't want anything to do with impeachment. They don't want anything to do with this it's not something the American people support.

By the way, I've been critical of the president and not supportive of him. But I think the Democrats want to litigate this in the 2020 election. If I were the Democrats, I'd be talking about that Alabama abortion law that motivates their base. Impeachment divides Democrats and at the moment anyway, it does not seem the American people are there.

So, I think Speaker Pelosi is the looking about maintaining her majority. Look at the Judiciary Committee and many of the members calling for impeachment are in safe seats or they're -- or they're on the committee of jurisdiction and very frustrated or very far left. I mean, that's what you've got advocating.

BURNETT: Or they're Republicans saying they are standing on great principle like Justin Amash -- I mean, Republican, singular, I'm making the point, but yes.

DENT: Sure.

BURNETT: So, Keith, what happens here though? Because when you look at the whole issue of principle and doing it on principle. I bring up Amash obviously the only Republican in favor. But the American people when it comes to the politics they don't want it, right? They don't want it.

So -- and you're not succeed on impeachment because the Senate won't do it. So, there is great risk. So there is this -- this balance right now for Pelosi.

BOYKIN: Is it a political calculation or the constitutional responsibility? When the 1973 Watergate hearings began, 19 percent -- only 19 percent of Americans supported removing the president. But by the time the hearings concluded a year later, more than the majority, 57 percent of Americans had -- had supported removing the president.

BURNETT: Interesting point.

BOYKIN: And part of that was because you had to dramatize what the president of the United States was doing, the corruption he was engaging in. People will start to come along once they start to see the impeachment proceeding continue.

And you go back to the Clinton administration. They didn't actually lose because of the impeachment proceedings. The Republicans gained by winning -- keeping control of the House, the Senate and winning in the 2000 election.

BURNETT: Congressman Dent, quick, final word, do you think those polls could move if they went the formal route with the impeachment proceeding?

DENT: I think they could move. But remember thing, Director Mueller found no criminal conspiracy and he was inconclusive on obstruction.


DENT: So, I just don't see the path forward. Polls could move. But right now, I would stay away from this if I were the Democrats.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much. Congressman, I appreciate your time. Keith, thank you.

And next, the former governor of Colorado, John Hickenlooper, says he can beat Trump. He's running in 2020, he's OUTFRONT.

And Jeanne on the world's greatest expert on everything.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'd be really good at that. That's what I do.



[19:48:27] BURNETT: Now to fight for 2020 and an issue that's crucial for all Americans and the big fail at the White House today, where today, President Trump called the Democrats to meet and work out a plan to save America's failing infrastructure, the president storm out immediately.


TRUMP: I said, let's have the meeting on infrastructure. We'll get that done easily. That's one of the easy ones. But you know what? You can't do it under these circumstances.


BURNETT: OUTFRONT now, Democratic presidential candidate John Hickenlooper, the former governor of Colorado.

Governor, you were governor, you were mayor of Denver. One of your biggest achievements was a bipartisan massive infrastructure project that really changed the entire area and has created a place a whole lot of people want to move to. So, you know how to do this and you've done it well. But do you understand what happened today when you have Trump and Democrats and he storms out? Do you as a former executive of a state, whether he staged it today or not, understand his frustration and why he stormed out?

JOHN HICKENLOOPER (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, I see his frustration. But what I keep saying and see President Trump is fueling this crisis of division. We're going backwards, not forwards. And at a certain point as the chief executive, he has to step over that and something like infrastructure that should be non-partisan. Republicans, Democrats all agree to it.

I mean, you've got to be able to bring people together like we did in Colorado. Colorado, we got to almost universal background checks. We became the number one economy in the country. We beat the NRA with some tough new gun laws. But that was all by bringing people together.

BURNETT: So bringing people together, when you look at both sides of this -- and I don't like both sides-ism, but sometimes people make mistakes.

[19:50:07] Trump -- what he did today seemed to be completely staged and a farce, but Nancy Pelosi did call -- say he was engaging in a cover up before she went to meet with him after she went to meet with our caucus on impeachment.

So, she should not have said that? Was that also part of the problem?

HICKENLOOPER: No. I think she's in a position she's talking about accountability, she's talking about a cover up. She's got to do that. But I think this is a problem of how divided we've become.

And it's kind of -- what I keep saying is we're seeing the fundamental nonsense in Washington and we have to get back to common sense, one way or the other.

BURNETT: All right. So, you know, you have said very clearly on this issue, and your party is so divided right now, that you want to wait for Mueller to testify before you make a decision on impeachment. Now, we hear Mueller doesn't want to do it in public. We don't know how it's going to go because the Judiciary Committee Chairman Nadler is saying it has to be in public.

If Mueller does not testify, where do you stand? Is there a path forward for Democrats that is not impeachment proceedings?

HICKENLOOPER: Yes, I think there's other ways we can get to the root of these issues. But again, what's happening is, President Trump is -- he's actually fuelling this crisis of division. And he is -- he's part of the problem, not the solution. And I think that ultimately, we will get to those facts and I think Speaker Pelosi is exactly right, that there is clearly got to be accountability and there seems to be evidence of a cover up.

Now whether he was, meant to do it or didn't mean to do it, he should encourage and provide the information so that we can actually see what happened.

BURNETT: So I want to ask you about your plan that you have just unveiled today. You referenced it, you mentioned background checks in Colorado. Obviously, it's a personal issue to you. You were the governor of Colorado when the Aurora Theater massacre happened.

But, look, the reality is this country has failed at gun reform for a long time. I mean, we all remember the Obama administration, 20 children, 6 ix and 7 year olds were killed in Newtown and yet, there was no meaningful gun reform. And they said, if you couldn't do it then, then when? And that still is the truth.

What would you do to actually get something done?

HICKENLOOPER: Well, I think Newton was, in a funny way, a transition point. And that -- I mean, we're at a new normal now, right? We have mass shootings, that's four people or more being shot, almost every day. There's more than six a week. And, you know, we've got, as you said, as a purple state, we were the first purple state to get universal background checks, to get limits on magazine capacity.

But what I suggested today is we go one step beyond and just as we require our kids when they want to learn to get a driver's license, they have to learn how to driver and pass a test. And I'm suggesting when I'm president, we'll not only roll out universal background checks and magazine limits, but we'll also require, you know, 21 year olds, if they want to buy a gun, they'll have to pass a test and demonstrate that they know how to handle weapons safely and responsibly, and at the same time, that they're able to store weapons safely and responsibly.

You know, we've got to change our culture because, again, one mass shooting a day, that's not America.

BURNETT: Well, it shouldn't be America. Unfortunately, as we all know, we're sick to our stomach, it is America and it cannot be. Thank you --

HICKENLOOPER: And I think -- I just was going to say, because one last part of that is that we do have hunter safety classes in most of the states and so, kids are used to taking these classes.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Governor. I appreciate your time.

And next, Jeanne Moos takes a look at President Trump, the infrastructure expert.


[19:58:05] BURNETT: Tonight, nobody knows infrastructure better than Trump.


TRUMP: I want to do infrastructure. I want to do it more than you want to do it. I'd be really good that the. That's what I do.


BURNETT: That's what he does. That's what he knows, and that's not all he does and knows.

Here's Jeanne.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Remember how Muhammad Ali used to call himself the greatest of all time? Well, now, it's President Trump calling himself the greatest at all times.

TRUMP: I think nobody knows more about campaign finance than I do.

Nobody knows more about trade than me.

Nobody knows more about construction than I do.

MOOS: The New Year has barely downed and the president is extolling his prowess from the briefing room -- TRUMP: And I think nobody knows much more about technology, this type

of technology certainly, than I do.

MOOS: To the cabinet.

TRUMP: I know more about drones than anybody.

MOOS: Some of the best drone pilots in the world must be surprised to hear the president droning on about his expertise.

But what field doesn't he excel in?

TRUMP: I know more about ISIS than the generals do. Believe me.

Nobody knows more about environmental impact statement than me.

There's nobody that understands the horror of nuclear better than me.

MOOS: It's enough to make your head explode.

TRUMP: Nobody knows the politicians better than I do. Believe me.

Nobody knows that better than me.

MOOS: President Trump knows how to spew superlatives.

TRUMP: I know words. I have the best words.

I have the best temperament.

Look, nobody has better toys than I do.

MOOS: And from a guy who doesn't like to read, this.

TRUMP: Nobody loves the Bible more than I do.

MOOS: Occasionally, President Trump has demonstrated a flash of humility, a moment of modesty.

TRUMP: I understand the tax laws better than almost anyone.

MOOS: Almost anyone. You mean someone understands tax laws better than he does?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Anything you can do --

MOOS: He can do better.

TRUMP: More elite than me? I have better everything than they have, including this.

MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, I can. Yes, I can. MOOS: New York.


BURNETT: All right. Thank you so much for watching.

Anderson starts now.