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CNN TONIGHT

A Controversial Call To Advance Political Agenda; President Trump's Excuse Over His Call To Ukraine's Leader; No One Is Above The Law; Speaker Pelosi Declined To Comment On Endorsing Impeachment; Policing Practices, Racial Bias, Police Shootings. Aired 11p-12a ET

Aired September 23, 2019 - 23:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[23:00:00]

LAURA COATES, CNN HOST: First of all, I've got to reassess my life choices, Chris. That is a force to be reckoned with. More power to you. I have to tell you, if you have had that, that presence of mind at that age in that moment about an issue like this, it's amazing.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: I was wearing Velcro sneakers at that age.

COATES: Gosh, (Inaudible) to me, thank you.

CUOMO: But I'll tell you -- very well. I always (Inaudible), always big animals because I was husky.

COATES: It wasn't going --

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: But let me tell you something about Greta. You cannot replace the passion of youth. When they feel, they feel. You'll see later on, I'm older, later on in the game with the teenagers they can exaggerate those feelings. But when they feel they feel deeply. This kid feels betrayed. And she is not alone. Our kids look to us to do the right thing. And it's hard for them to see that happening on that issue right now.

COATES: And this girl, remember, she started with a handmade sign. She didn't want to travel. She was somebody a year ago no one heard of. Now she is somebody who has the face of the movement.

And I was just going to say, you know, he has a lot to say about the notion that how dare you look and ask for the hope of children. I mean, powerful, powerful words. Thank you for your show tonight. It was always, as always incredible.

This is CNN TONIGHT. I'm Laura Coates. Sitting in for Don Lemon.

Our breaking news, President Trump reportedly ordered Acting Chief of Staff, Mick Mulvaney to hold back military aid for Ukraine for at least a week before his phone call with the Ukrainian president.

And that was first reported in "The Washington Post." Much more in a moment. That's what we're hearing from the president of the United States.

It's right out of the Trump play book. Unsubstantiated smears. Ignoring the facts and leaving himself just enough wiggle room.

Listen to what the president said over the past few days about his conversation with the president of the Ukraine. A conversation so concerning, a whistleblower is trying to make a complaint about it to Congress. A complaint the White House and the DOJ are trying to bury.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did you discuss Joe Biden, his son or his family with the leader of Ukraine?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: It doesn't matter what I discussed. Somebody ought to look into Joe Biden's statement because it was disgraceful.

The conversation I had was largely congratulatory. It was largely corruption all of the corruption taking place. It was largely the fact that we don't want our people like Vice President Biden and his son creating the corruption already in the Ukraine.

If you don't talk about corruption. Why would you give money to a country that you think is corrupt? One of the reasons the new president got elected is he was going to stop corruption. So, it's very important that on occasion you speak to somebody about corruption. Very important.

There was no pressure put on them whatsoever. I put no pressure on them whatsoever. I could have. I think it would probably possibility been OK if I did.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COATES: Probably possibly would have been OK if you did. Well, quite a progression there over just a few days. It doesn't matter what I discussed. But corruption. Why would you give money to a country you think is corrupt? I didn't put pressure on them. But I could have. And it would have been probably possibly OK.

Let's not forget Ukraine needs our help to fight Russia which has already seized Crimea.

And then there's the president's attorney. Rudy Giuliani. Sources telling CNN that the president was pretty disinterested in Ukraine. Well, that is until Giuliani got him fired up with his efforts to investigate Biden.

A source close to the White House says the president has been seething for months and that Giuliani has been, quote, "egging him on." In early May he planned a trip to Kiev to urge the then president-elect of Ukraine to pursue an investigation of Biden.

Giuliani telling the New York Times quote, "We're not meddling in an election. We're meddling in an investigation." Then saying quote, "There's nothing illegal about it. Somebody could say it's improper."

And then saying he planned to urge Ukraine to continue the investigation. Quote, "Because that information will be very, very helpful to my client."

But one day later Giuliani abruptly cancelling his trip to the Ukraine. Saying this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUDY GIULIANI, PRESIDENT TRUMP'S LAWYER: I'm not going to go because I think I'm walking into a group of people that are enemies of the president.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COATES: Why would it be helpful to his client? Because he's trying to get a foreign government, in this case Ukraine, to investigate the Democratic front runner and his son.

All the while holding up $250 million in promised aid from Congress in the meantime. And by the way, it's over the objection of members of both parties in Congress.

And I thought we collectively agreed that asking a foreign nation for opposition research is a problem? But more on that later.

[23:04:59]

And then of course there's Giuliani's very, very heated exchange with Chris Cuomo just last week. In the space of less than a minute, denying then admitting he asked Ukraine to investigate Biden. Some say would say who ordered the code red moment.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: Did you ask the Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden?

GIULIANI: No. Actually, I didn't. I asked the Ukraine to investigate the allegations that there was interference in the election of 2016 by the Ukrainians for the benefit of Hillary Clinton for which there is already --

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: You never ask anything about Hunter Biden? You never ask anything about Joe Biden in his role with the prosecutor.

(CROSSTALK)

GIULIANI: The only thing I ask about Joe Biden is to get to the bottom of how it was that Lutsenko who was appointed --

CUOMO: Right.

GIULIANI: -- dismissed the case against -- (CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: So, you did ask Ukraine to look into Biden?

GIULIANI: Of course, I did.

CUOMO: You just said you didn't.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COATES: Now a lot of this could be cleared up if the White House would release the transcript of that call. But the president, well, he says this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Perhaps you'll see it, perhaps you won't. It depends on what we want to do.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COATES: One Trump adviser telling CNN, quote, this is a serious problem for us. He admitted doing it.

But a source tells CNN's Gloria Borger the president isn't bothered. He's not worried and incredibly, he likes Joe Biden. Well, he sure has a funny way of showing that he like shim.

But now as I said a lot of this could be cleared up if the White House would release the transcript of that call. Maybe that will happen right after the president releases his tax returns.

And let's remember, the intelligence community inspector general suggested to the House intel committee behind closed doors that the whistleblower's complaint raised concerns about multiple actions. Now we don't know whether all of them involve the president. We don't know because, as I said, the White House and the DOJ are trying to bury the complaint.

And that leaves the president and his allies free to repeat unsubstantiated allegations and smears right out of that old Trump play book.

Let's get to our breaking news. Joining me, "The Washington Post's" Karoun Demirjian and also Josh Dawsey on the phone.

I'm glad to have both of you here. I'll start with you for a second, Karoun.

Let me ask you this, what are you learning right now about President Trump and why he held this military aid back days before calling the Ukrainian president?

KAROUN DEMIRJIAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, that's the question. Right? He holds the military aid back about a week later, he then has a phone call with the Ukrainian president in which he's now openly saying that there was discussion about that whether or not to investigate Biden.

And the question that I think is on the mind of many people watching this is that were the two connected. Certainly, the White House area senior administration officials are saying no, there's no quid pro quo here. Everything that you might be thinking is not actually the case at all.

This was -- the aid was a separate issue that was being decided maybe in the same time period but on a very separate track than anything that had to do with that phone call.

But try to tell that to people on Capitol Hill, especially Democrats, they are connecting a lot of dots right now. And this is one more dot to throw into the mix that is potentially going to inflame already these tensions between Congress and the White House about what was contained in that phone call.

This all kind of is related potentially to the substance of the whistleblower complaint that they're still trying to get out of the administration. And the fact that this all happened around at the same time it raises new questions about that timing and how that's going to play out is probably not going to be -- with lawmakers just letting this go without asking a lot more questions.

COATES: I mean, Josh, it doesn't seem like connect the dots game is all that hard. I mean, of course, Congress wanted to know why the aid they appropriated was being delayed. Tell me, Josh Dawsey, what did the administration officials actually tell them about the delay?

JOSH DAWSEY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, the administration said that they were conducting an interagency a process. They were looking at corruption in the Ukraine. They were looking at whether Europe should be doing more. They were trying to decipher what they should do.

What we reported tonight was about a week before the call with the president encourage an investigation of Hunter Biden. He instructed aides Mick Mulvaney and others who then went to the State Department, went to DOD, went to interagency officials and said we're going to put a hold on this money.

Now what the administration says is that they were doing the legitimate policy review process, they were trying to decide if this aid should continue.

But as my colleague just said on air, the question is how closely related were these two things. These discussions started in June according to the administration, then in July they decided to halt this aid.

And all the while the Ukrainians were trying to get a meeting with the president. They were asking legislative officials later Chris Murphy who went to Ukraine why is aid being held up? They were perplexed.

[23:15:02] And what we're hearing from the administration as they were trying to decide whether this aid was legitimate or not. But what others are wondering is why the timing was so close. Why one week the president decided to cut the aid and then the next week ask for an investigation.

COATES: I mean, Karoun, how unusual is it for the Office of Management and Budget to be in charge of releasing aid that Congress appropriated. And that the Pentagon and the State Department was supposed to manage. Is this odd to you?

DEMIRJIAN: It was odd to people on the Hill to see that that what was happening. And the fact that there were these directives being put out that would basically put on -- put the aid on these short terms just a few days at a time hold so that nobody quite knew when it was coming up.

And you couldn't get people at state or DOD, the Pentagon who were normally in charge of handing out and endowing out these funds to be able to give you an answer because they didn't have any control over the process.

Adding to the confusion is the fact that the lawmakers in committees were told in late February and then in mid to late May, that the money for Ukraine actually would be going out the door into trenches. But then the money never actually did go out the door and nothing happened.

And then as the summer wore on the people on the Hill started to get word that it wasn't happening and it wasn't happening because OMB didn't want it to be happening right then. So, this added really to the sense that this was an unorthodox way of working with Ukraine aid.

I mean, look, the United States has been sending military aid to Ukraine for about five years now. It's been increasing over that time. It's to help Ukraine stave off Russian aggression and to back the Ukrainian military against the Russian backed separatist that they are fighting in their eastern provinces.

It's always been a little bit of a push back and forth between Congress and Capitol -- Congress and the White House about how much goes out and when. But it's never been this late and it's never been this opaque in terms of how it's being done. And that did really alarm both Republicans and Democrats on capitol Hill.

COATES: Karoun, Josh Dawsey, thank you for your reporting. It's excellent. You know, do much for the power of the purse. It sounds like a lot of leverage games to me.

Lots to discuss now with Evan McMullin, Juliette Kayyem, and Max Boot who is the author of "The Corrosion of Conservatism: Why I Left the Right."

Thank you all for being here tonight. I can't think of a better panel for this discussion.

Let me start with you for a second, Max. You know, what is your reaction to the breaking news now from the Washington Post?

MAX BOOT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Well, it's the timing is highly damming, Laura. I mean, this a pretty clear case of President Trump trying to extort a foreign leader to interfere in a U.S. election on his behalf.

And the fact that he put a hold on this aid to Ukraine a week before calling up Zelensky and then badgering him eight times to investigate Joe Biden, the Democratic front runner. I mean, that is fishy assault, that is highly suspicious.

I cannot imagine an innocent explanation for this. And the spin coming from the White House that Donald Trump cares about corruption in Ukraine is just laughable. Remember, Donald Trump, his pals was some of the most corrupt dictators in the world. People like Erdogan, Putin and Sisi.

The notion that he cares about corruption is laughable. What he cares about is framing his leading political rival on Trumped up, so to speak, charges of corruption. And that's what he was doing misusing the power of the presidency.

And this seems to me the straw that finally has broken the camel's back and after hesitating on impeachment, Democrats are finally realizing this guy really needs to be impeached if the facts are as they seem to be. Because otherwise he will continue violating the law in order to stay in office.

COATES: Well, Max, I wonder if everyone has that same camel threshold you do. I don't think everyone is on board yet.

But Evan, listen to this reporting, the administration officials were instructed to tell lawmakers that the delays were part of an interagency process. But to give them no additional information, a pattern that continued for nearly two months until the White House released the funds on the night of September 11.

Evan, does that sound like the officials were told to lie to lawmakers about why the aid was being held back?

EVAN MCMULLIN, FORMER CIA OFFICER: Well, it does sound very suspicious on its face. But I think the dates here really matter going back to the time line here. So, they released the funds on September 11th or the eve of September 11th.

But what happened a couple days before that? Well, the I.G., the intelligence community I.G. had reported to Adam Schiff had gone around his bosses who had decided they weren't going to share the whistleblower complaint with Congress. He had gone around his bosses on September 9th to inform Congress that there was the complaint.

So, you can imagine after the administration had told other officials, you have senior administration officials had told others in the executive branch that they were to sort of offer very little details about why the hold was there. That was maintained for almost two months. [23:15:01]

Then all of a sudden, on September 10th or 11th, they go and they release those funds. Well, I think it's because there was a moment where they realize, my goodness, now Adam Schiff and the House Democrats understand what the ploy is here, what the scheme is and we got to get rid of this and we got to move this money.

So, they held it as long as they could. And when they got caught, they moved it. That's my read.

COATES: Juliette, I'm dying to hear your thoughts on this. And also, you know, three senior officials, Juliette, spoke out to the Post for this story. Why would they do that? Are they worried about how bad this could be for the president --

JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Yes.

COATES: -- the whistleblower. I mean, this can't be the president's only concern now, is it?

KAYYEM: No. I mean, I think that the fear that you're starting to see out of the White House is twofold. One is, they'd clearly some people were told to lie to Congress. And so, people will start watching out for themselves. Because as we know Donald Trump has no loyalty.

I also think that there's another issue here. Very few people know what's in the whistleblower report. Maybe perhaps Donald Trump and the people along the chain of command. And I think that's why Donald Trump has all of us focused on this stupid transcript idea, which I think is just absolutely ridiculous and no one should talk about it anymore.

It is the whistleblower's account of a variety of instances that Donald Trump may not know what's in that. In other words, there's probably worse stuff in that than in the single phone call to Ukraine.

And so, we need to focus on what is in fact in the whistleblower account because that is likely to have all the connective tissue that we're sort of wondering about or that we're trying to connect the dots on.

And so, I just think we need to focus on the whistleblower's account.

I just want to add one more thing. You know, part of what culpability is, is how did the person, or in this case, a country, Ukraine, what kind of position did they feel like they were? In other words, if you're Ukraine, if you're the head of Ukraine, you clearly believe that Donald Trump is holding up money because he wants you to not investigate Biden's son. He wants you to make stuff up on Biden's son.

We know from contemporaneous reporting that he had mentioned things to at least one senator that he believed that that why it was being held up. And they are pressuring, they're going around Washington, D.C. trying to figure out what is going on. Why aren't we getting this money? It was clear -- their perception of what Donald Trump is doing is as

important as what we know Donald Trump was doing. They believed they had to get stuff on Biden's son to get the money to flow. And it was only the whistleblower that sort of blew this, you know, blew it out of out into the public.

COATES: And by the way, there's no --

(CROSSTALK)

MCMULLIN: And Laura --

COATES: Go ahead.

MCMULLIN: Can I just build on that just for one second? I think it's absolutely right that we need not focus so much on the transcript although that is important if that's what it is.

KAYYEM: Yes.

MCMULLIN: But the wider whistleblower complaint. But I think we need to actually expand this scope of what we're looking at and Congress needs to do the same.

COATES: I want to hear why after --

MCMULLIN: Yes.

COATES: Everyone is staying with me.

MCMULLIN: Yes.

COATES: I want everyone to stay with me, please. I want to hear why you want to expand it and how so. I want to talk about the president's outrageous claim that if Republicans did this, what he thinks would happen. They would be getting the electric chair right now. I want your thoughts, Juliette, Evan, and Max right after this.

[23:20:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COATES: So, CNN has confirmed that President Trump reportedly ordered a hold on military aid to Ukraine. This is days before calling the Ukrainian president and pressing him to investigate Joe Biden and his son.

That first reported by the Washington Post, which, by the way, also reports tonight on growing calls among House Democrats for impeachment.

Back with me Evan, Juliette, and Max Boot. I'll go back to you, Evan. Before the break we were talking about Juliette's point about that the transcript maybe a bright shiny object and not to look at that too closely among the other things that maybe happening. How do you want to build upon it, Evan? MCMULLIN: Yes. I think we just need to broaden the scope even further

and look at other players in this or potential players. For example, Vice President Pence met with President Zelensky in Poland in early September. The next day he did a press conference there. Pence did. And was asked did you bring up Biden? The topic of Biden with Zelensky.

And you got to read or watch his response. I mean, it's long, he sort of, he uses this, -- he says yes, we talked about corruption but we didn't talk about Biden.

And it just -- I really feel like he talked about Biden. And I think we need to go back to that and we need to understand who else in the administration is being a part of this.

And then lastly, just remember that in Ukraine there's a convergence of many different interests. Putin's interest. Trump's interest. Trump wants to see a peace deal there so he can justify his relationship that it's inexplicable and inappropriate and alarming with Putin.

Putin wants to have his -- some sanctions released. Ukraine is looking for aid. There -- you know, Trump is looking to attack Biden and to help Manafort. I mean, there's just a lot going on there. And we need to be looking at all of this right now as a part of this.

COATES: Fine point. You know, Juliette, I had to ask you Biden was really angry about the attacks over the weekend. Listen fellow and gentlemen and Juliette, everyone there, listen to what he actually has to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You should be looking at Trump. Trump is doing this because he knows I'll beat him like a drum.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COATES: Well, he's angry but also making the argument that Trump fears him most. What do you make of that? Is it true here, Juliette?

KAYYEM: I think Trump let's people get under his skin. I think in this case it was Biden. And I think he's willing to play tough. And at least from the polling at the moment that these calls were happening Biden was the front runner.

And I just, I want to make it clear to everyone what we now know. Because I know everyone is talking about connecting the dots.

We now know that Donald Trump has only run for office twice. And in both instances, he has either helped, assisted, aided or flirted with a foreign entity to go after his competitor, the person he is running against.

[23:25:03]

So, the idea that this is somehow going to stop, that somehow Trump is tamed. That Trump won't do everything possible to win in 2020 is now bogus.

This man, the president, will do anything including directing a foreign power to make up information about the family of his most likely at least then competitor.

COATES: Yes.

KAYYEM: So, we just --

(CROSSTALK)

BOOT: And if I could --

COATES: And I --

KAYYEM: Whether you call it impeachment or whether you call it illegal. Call it what you will. You know, he's -- he's -- this a -- he is betting 100 at this stage.

COATES: Well, Max, I got to ask you in this point --

BOOT: Just if I could --

COATES: I'm going to ask, I'm in here, Max, I want to ask you. You know, Trump is acting like a Democrat in this case would actually pursue something far more extreme than the impeachment you're talking about, Juliette if the tables were turned. The president actually had this to say about what he thought Democrats would do.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: If a Republican ever did what Joe Biden did, if a Republican ever said what Joe Biden said. They would be getting the electric chair by right now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COATES: Max? The electric chair? Really?

BOOT: Well, this is industrial strength gaslighting on the president's part. I mean, he is emptying the propane tank. He has been caught red handed doing something that I believe constitutes a high crime and misdemeanor. Misusing his authority. And to the point that Juliette was making.

This is actually worse than what happened in 2016. Because in 2016, he was still a private citizen when he said Russia, if you're listening, inviting Russia to hack our election. Right now, he is the President of the United States. He has sworn an oath to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.

By all accounts, he is betraying that oath, he is betraying the people of the United States. He is perverting American foreign policy to serve his own personal political interest and he is trying to throw a smoke screen over all of that by lying and smearing against Joe Biden. Even though there's not an iota of evidence that Joe Biden did anything wrong in Ukraine.

In fact, Joe Biden was fighting corruption in Ukraine. He was trying to get rid of and he did get rid of a corrupt dirty prosecutor who was not cracking down on corruption.

So, everything that Trump and Giuliani are saying about Biden is a lie, including the words a and d. Everything is a lie. Do not listen to a word that they are saying.

COATES: Well, look, if a and b --

BOOT: They're trying to corrupt the fact that Donald Trump has been caught committing another impeachable offense. He is already, I believe, the most corrupt president in American history.

MCMULLIN: Absolutely.

BOOT: And to my mind this could well be the most scandalous conduct he has ever committed.

COATES: Well, Max Boot, I need you to form an opinion and be more clear next time about how you feel before you come back on the show.

Juliette, Evan, Max Boot, thank you for joining today. We'll be right back.

MCMULLIN: Thank you.

[23:30:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COATES: So after more than two years of hearing no collusion, has the president engaged in collusion? The new questions don't center around Russia. This time it's Ukraine. And it wasn't the 2016 election. It was anticipation of the 2020 election.

And the opposition research, well, it wasn't about Hillary Clinton. It was about Joe Biden and one of his sons. This time there's no special counsel. No Robert Mueller to question. No DOJ or FBI officials to disparage -- just one whistleblower.

This time, the president is boldly speaking out and defending his actions and why wouldn't he? It's his M.O. to deny and deflect. And the knee jerk nonchalance is outrageous.

Democrats in Congress including Speaker Pelosi, well they had been reluctant to use their impeachment powers, which is funny because they were quick to repeat the Nixon era mantra, no one is above the law.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)

NANCY PELOSI (D), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVE: Nobody is above the law. Not the president of the United States.

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: No one is above the law and that includes the president of the United States.

SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: No one is above the law including the president of the United States.

PETE BUTTIGIEG (D-IN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Nobody is above the law.

(END VIDEO CLIPS)

COATES: Say it with me now. Nobody is above the law. Well, let's unpack that statement. Now we have three co-equal branches of government. One makes the law, one enforces the law and one interprets it. The founding fathers envision the system of checks and balances where no one branch could rule like a king.

But when the law making body with the power to impeach a president is contemplative to the point of paralysis about how to deal with the president who breaks the law that it makes, well, so much for checks and balances.

So much for co-equal branches. And so much for the symbolic or real power or the weight of impeachment. We don't know what the DNI whistleblower complaint is all about. We don't know about all the instances the complaint identifies. We don't have the transcript of the president's call with the Ukrainian president.

Here's what we do know. Congress made a law that required DNI to give Congress the whistleblower complaint. But in this case, it looks like the DOJ said, well, feel free to ignore that law.

We have a Congress made a law appropriating funds to the Ukraine. The president and CNN has confirmed said I'll go ahead and hold on to those funds. The Constitution says foreign government shall not interfere with our elections.

Well, the president seemingly said, let's ignore that one too. And when Congress fails to use their constitutionally mandated oversight to even address the president's behavior, well, it sure sounds like he is above the law to me.

[23:35:03]

So now, what form that oversight takes is up to Congress. No one wants to engage in an exercise in futility. But the question before them now is whether or not to impeach the president. Impeach the president, whether to do so.

It's a momentous decision that should be made frankly outside of the narrow constraints of partisan politics, but since when is the separation of powers or one branch laughing at Congress's power, since when did that become a partisan issue?

Frankly, every member of Congress, Republican or Democrat or independent, well, they should take it seriously when the president tells you your power is imaginary. That you don't count. That your little laws, well, they mean nothing. The question before Congress tonight is, what are you going to do about it?

We have breaking news tonight on Speaker Nancy Pelosi and what she -- she's been behind the scenes as Democrats prepare for their big meeting tomorrow afternoon.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[23:40:00]

COATES: CNN has learned Speaker Nancy Pelosi declined to say tonight whether she would fully endorse initiating an impeachment inquiry when she meets with committee chairman and members of Democratic caucus tomorrow.

But she left little doubt the Ukraine developments had dramatically escalated the stand off with the president. Joining me now, former Clinton White House press secretary Joe Lockhart and former Congressman Charlie Dent.

Glad to have you both here. I mean, Joe, Speaker Pelosi telling us -- telling CNN tonight, "We will have no choice in reference to ultimately initiating an impeachment inquiry." You haven't actually been for impeachment until now. But with the Ukraine issue, I've been seeing to a change.

JOE LOCKHART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes. I think personally for me, everything that's happened until now has been looking backwards to what Trump did in 2016 and 2017. And that I thought could be decided at the ballot box in 2020.

But this is now about corrupting the next election. And for me, this was crossing the red line. I think what you have seen tonight particularly with the "Washington Post" op-ed from seven freshman members with the national security backgrounds.

These were the moderate members of the caucus that Nancy Pelosi was trying to protect because they're in Republican districts. This is how the Democrats took back control of the House. They now have come out. So, literally the dam has broken.

I think what tomorrow's meeting is about is not if to impeach, but how to impeach whether you set up a select committee because the judiciary committee has become a circus. So I think it's not if now, it's how you do it and I think Pelosi is not going to tell you until she's ready, but I think she is decided.

COATES: So may I ask you, I mean, Charlie. The Democrats you said should not set themselves on fire over this, but a short while ago as Joe mentioned, seven freshman Democrats posted an op-ed in the "Washington Post" about the President Trump' call to Ukraine's president saying, "These allegations are stunning, both in the national security threat they pose and the potential corruption they represent."

And it took on the administration refusal to actually turn over the complaint saying, "This flagrant disregard for the law cannot stand. To uphold and defend our Constitution, Congress must determine whether the president was indeed willing to use his power and withhold security assistance funds to persuade a foreign country to assist him in an upcoming election. If these allegations are true, we believe these actions represent an impeachable offense."

And tonight, "The Post" reporting tell you that Speaker Pelosi is calling top Democrats to talk about whether the time has actually come to impeach Trump. How do you feel? Is this the tipping point now?

CHARLIE DENT, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, before we start talking impeachment, I really think it's imperative they get the DNI, they get the whistleblower, and the inspector general in there to answer some questions. I want to get all the facts.

Look, Speaker Pelosi I think has been handling the impeachment questions right so far. She knows that this is fraught with peril. In many respects, I think Donald Trump is trying to egg the Democrats on. He's trying to goad them into impeachment because he sees some political benefit to that if he can rile up his base.

And I'm not a Donald Trump fan. I've been very critical. I just say be careful. Let's get all the facts. This looks terrible what the president has done here, you know, withholding aid in military assistance to the Ukrainians, while at the same time pressuring Zelensky to conduct an investigation to the Biden's.

It's a terrible look, but I think they have to be very deliberate, very thoughtful, because up to this point, I think these investigations have looked somewhat feckless at the president.

COATES: Optics versus deliberation. I mean, Joe, hear Democratic Congressman Gerry Connolly of Virginia said this to CNN. "This weekend, all I hear at home is when are Democrats going to get tough? We are looking weak."

So Joe, what does it say if the Democrats don't act on this? I mean, is it about being feckless. Have they wasted on opportunity to show their strength and their impeachment ability?

LOCKHART: Well, I expect them to act on it. I mean, if they didn't, I think they'd be betting on letting the public decide in 2020. But I think what tonight and the next couple of days are going top show is Nancy Pelosi's wisdom, which is going into impeachment.

I agree with Congressman Dent, that this is fraught with peril, political peril, but sometimes you have to, you know, take the risk.

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But going into it with a divided caucus is makes it much harder. She has slowly brought the entire caucus together and now they will go in this united and that makes them much stronger.

COATES: We'll have to see what happens. Thank you. I'll be right back.

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COATES: At a recent House Judiciary Committee hearing on policing practices, conservative author and political commentator Heather Mac Donald claimed that a racial bias in police shootings of African- American men is overstated.

[23:50:00]

I want you to watch closely the reaction of the man sitting next to McDonald. His name is Phillip Atiba Goff.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HEATHER MAC DONALD, CONSERVATIVE COMMENTATOR: -- also told that we're living through an epidemic of racially bias the police shootings of black men. This too is false. A study published this August in the proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences is just the latest research undercutting the media narrative about race and police shootings.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COATES: Joining me now, Phillip Atiba Goff, the man whose reaction in that hearing went viral. He's the co-founder and president of The Center for Policing Equity. Also joining, Minneapolis police chief, Medaria Arradondo. Welcome to you both.

Phillip, I have to start with you because first of all, now you have become a meme and your reaction is what we were all thinking of. What do you mean you this is fake and all some sort of ploy maybe? What were you thinking?

PHILLIP ATIBA GOFF, PRESIDENT, CENTER FOR POLICING EQUITY: It was -- we were in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee. We all had been sworn in to tell the truth under penalty of perjury.

So when I heard someone saying that it was overblown based on the research, being one of the people who was an author of that research and who was a reviewer for the scientific community, I was just astounded because that's not what the research says. And the four different articles that she made reference to during the course of the hearing, that's not what any of them say.

COATES: So what does it say because she seemed to think she knew exactly the right answer, and you were as clearly shocked as the rest of us were?

GOFF: So, first of all, let's be really clear. There are hundreds upon hundreds of articles out there looking at racial disparity in policing, okay? Some of them show evidence of bias. Some of them just show evidence of disparity, just meaning that they're different but it's not clear why, right?

But there's nothing that shows that white people are more likely to get shot and killed by law enforcement. That's not a real thing, right? So what the science is really clear on, we see that there are differences in the outcomes from law enforcement. Some of that is the result of poverty. Some of that is the result of crime. And some of that is a result of what police do.

What we do at The Center for Policing Equity, what we do in Minneapolis is we try and help law enforcement figure out the portion of the problem that's theirs so that they can do something about it.

And when I heard somebody saying that law enforcement has nothing to do and nothing to change, I was shocked in part because what I hear from chiefs all the time is that the only thing worse than lying about them and saying that they're deeply racist is lying about them and saying there's no bias in their profession because then they have to clear the record and say they weren't trying to cover that up.

COATES: It's almost they were saying the race card here is being overplayed, but chief let's turn to you. You are a police chief. Not being honest about the existence of racism in policing doesn't help anyone. So what have you seen in the 30 years you've been on the force?

MEDARIA ARRADONDO, MINNEAPOLIS POLICE CHIEF: Well, first of all, thank you for having me here on the show tonight. It's an important conversation. So, in my 30 years of being a peace officer here in Minneapolis, we certainly understand and recognize that there is a history in terms of policing with our communities and certainly there's a history with our policing in our marginalized communities.

Race plays a factor and has played a factor and certainly bias has played a factor. So, we have to admit that we have to recognize that. But it doesn't just stop there. When I embarked upon as chief of police of a wonderful department here in Minneapolis for transformational change, there were things I knew and things I didn't know.

But I needed to, you know, there's a saying in policing that public safety is not just the absence of crime, but it's the presence of justice. Well, as chiefs across this country, we have not really ever had a way to quantify how do you measure that justice.

And so with The Center for Policing Equity and Dr. Goff's team did is they hit the ground here and they were able to -- by mapping the science of justice, they were able to help us and they were able to help me as a chief and fellow chiefs across this country recognize the important role that science and data plays and that we can all speak a very similar language if you will.

COATES: And of course, Phillip, I mean, people have to think about the idea justice sometimes is a feeling, but it's important to think about racism as about behaviors and not feelings. I mean, I am married to a black man who we have a camera in our car when we're driving. Why? So he tells me in case he's pulled over alone, I'll know what happened to him.

I mean, that's the words of somebody who is the father of my children and my husband. He's hoping that I'll know because he knows about behaviors. Why is it important for people to look at this and say it's not just about feelings, not about just a race card here?

GOFF: Yes. So, I'm so very glad that you said that. It's almost as if you were listening to my TED Talk earlier.

COATES: I wasn't, but now I will go back and listen to it, Phillip, if that's what you're talking about.

GOFF: That is what I'm talking about. So as a scientist, if we define the problem of racism just as bigotry, just as prejudiced feelings, then all the solutions are tied up in helping somebody else feel a different way.

[23:55:03]

And I've been black for almost my entire life. There's like the week I took off in college, but other than that, straight through. And that entire time I have never known any black community that took to the streets to protest hoping that racists would change their minds about us and love us more, right?

People are protesting to stop violence, to stop voter disenfranchisement. They're protesting -- they march in the streets to change behaviors.

COATES: And you know, that explains maybe the shock that we all are feeling when the woman actually said that, Ms. McDonald, about the notion this all being essentially a boogeyman issue. Shocking. Well, thank you for watching. To both of you, thank you for joining the program. Our coverage continues.

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