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Democrats Finally Decide To Proceed With Impeachment Inquiry; White House To Release Whistleblower's Complaint; Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) Is Interviewed About The Difference Between The Six Congressional Committees Investigating President Trump And The New Impeachment Inquiry; House Speaker Nancy Pelosi Announces Impeachment Inquiry; Interview with Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) about Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), House Speaker, Announcing Impeachment Inquiry; President Trump Says He'll Release Ukraine Phone Transcript. Aired 10- 11p ET
Aired September 24, 2019 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: So, the next big step is how good a case can the House Democrats make. And we're going to see that sooner than later.
Thank you for watching. "CNN TONIGHT" with D. Lemon starts right now.
DON LEMON, CNN HOST: So, I missed you last night, right? I did a speech, and I was flying across country, and I was watching this on TV. And I said, I'm glad I didn't chastise Chris about that Giuliani interview the other night because look what happened.
LEMON: I think this directly came from that because he admitted in that interview that he had asked -- that the president had asked to investigate a political rival.
CUOMO: Yes. I mean, look, obviously you had people looking at this. But he achieved what he wanted on one level. Right? He got Biden's name out there. He got Biden in the stink.
CUOMO: But the hostility, the hostility to the facts, the confusing the facts, the not owning the truth the first time, the suggestion about the president in a way that didn't make sense, now they're dealing with the outcome from that. Where does it go? I think it's way more uncertain than we're hearing from some Democrats tonight.
LEMON: Yes. But it's also -- it's also obvious when you look at every single response. Obviously, someone got together and they put out a memo and said, when you respond about the Ukraine story, make sure you pivot immediately to the vice president and his son even though there has been no credible information, anything that came out that showed any wrongdoing. Listen, investigate all you want. I think that is right as an American. We should be able to investigate that if there is wrongdoing. But there's been no wrongdoing found, and it is clearly a shiny object because I -- this is me talking. I feel that what the president -- they knew that what the president did or allegedly did was so egregious that they have to make an excuse for it and say, but what about what Biden did? Do you understand what I'm saying?
LEMON: You got to put it out there. You got to pivot right away to get it in there even though the investigation was dormant.
CUOMO: That was their play.
LEMON: That was their play. You know what I'm saying.
CUOMO: That was their play from jump. Rudy came in here. He may have been off his game, but there was a game afoot. I said it then and now we're now seeing it play out. The only problem is you know the old expression. Hoisted on your own petard, the French word for a bomb.
They wanted to blow up Biden on this. Now they're dealing with it. But can the Democrats make a case? Not just that, boy, is he sneaky. Boy, is he trying to do what he was doing the last time with his campaign, which was trying to find an edge, if it was available. But is it an abuse of power that rises to the level of nullifying an election?
CUOMO: It's a high bar.
LEMON: Here's what I've been trying to figure out when this whole story -- and it's like, well, it doesn't really make sense. If you're -- if the prosecutor who was there was not investigating you and had shelved the investigation, then why would you fight for a tougher prosecutor that might come in and investigate?
The whole -- like it doesn't make sense. It's a great Jedi mind trick, but when you actually really think about it logically, it doesn't make sense that someone would want to get rid of a prosecutor.
CUOMO: So why would you think about it logically if what you want is to be right? And what you want to be right about is that Biden is dirty --
CUOMO: -- and that his son was dirty. And if you want to believe that, why would you spend time messing with the explanation? That's what Rudy was depending on, that you won't think critically about it.
CUOMO: And that's why we always say when you're getting sold this stuff, don't be a sucker. LEMON: Yes. Well, I also thought about you today because I said we're
going to be working, working, working now that there's an impeachment inquiry and there's an official impeachment to come after this. Boy, boy, here we go.
CUOMO: I think we got a long way to go --
CUOMO: -- before there is a big move. But I'm wrong all the time, so we'll see.
LEMON: All right. That you're right about. Thank you, Chris. Have a good one. I'll see you soon.
This is CNN TONIGHT. I'm Don Lemon.
Yes, there's a lot of news. This is a momentous day to say the least. An official impeachment inquiry of President Trump has been opened.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NANCY PELOSI, UNITED STATES SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: This week the president has admitted to asking the president of Ukraine to take actions which would benefit him politically.
The action of the -- the actions of the Trump presidency revealed the dishonorable fact of the president's betrayal of his oath of office, betrayal of our national security, and betrayal of the integrity of our elections.
Therefore today, I'm announcing the House of Representatives is moving forward with an official impeachment inquiry. I'm directing our six committees to proceed with their investigations under that umbrella of impeachment inquiry. The president must be held accountable. No one is above the law.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: So much has happened in the last few hours, setting us on a path that one way or another could change this country's history. Hear me out here.
Here's where we are right now. The House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announcing that official impeachment inquiry in the face of outrage over the president reportedly pressuring a foreign leader to help in an effort to target his chief political rival.
That as the president is tweeting. He's tweeting, of course, that he'll release the transcript tomorrow of his phone conversation with the president of Ukraine.
And now sources are telling CNN the White House is preparing to release to Congress as early as tomorrow the whistleblower complaint that involves not just that call but what's being referred to as multiple actions.
A complaint they were legally required to release to Congress weeks ago, weeks ago. Yet the White House and the DOJ tried to bury the complaint until now -- well, until tomorrow when we see if they do release them.
That as the New York Times is reporting that the White House is working out a deal for the whistleblower to speak to congressional investigators, reportedly part of a broader effort to tamp down the impeachment drumbeat.
Does this have anything to do with the Republican-controlled Senate unanimously passing -- unanimously passing a measure today calling for the whistleblower complaint to be released to both the House and Senate intel committees?
All of this, all of this with the president scheduled to meet with Ukraine's president tomorrow at the U.N. Like I said, a momentous day. So how did we get here?
Let's talk about that phone conversation, OK?
President Trump has essentially admitted that he spoke to President Zelensky to enlist Ukraine's aid in targeting Joe Biden and his son. He's admitted to that ahead of the 2020 election.
The phone call coming roughly one week after the president ordered a hold on nearly $400 million in aid to Ukraine. So, the president was apparently trying to get help from a foreign government in the upcoming election, and he was doing it the day after Robert Mueller's congressional testimony.
He's also offered completely contradictory explanations for what that call -- changing his tune for that call, changing his tune over just the past few days. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Sure, that country is honest. It's very important to talk about corruption. 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.
My complaint has always been -- and I'd withhold again, and I'll continue to withhold until such time as Europe and other nations contribute to Ukraine because they're not doing it. Just the United States. We're putting up the bulk of the money, and I'm asking why is that?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: That was just yesterday. The past one day. It was just yesterday that the president was claiming that the call was about corruption, right? Now he claims what he really wanted was to get other countries to pony up for Ukraine.
That claim is completely absurd. Do not fall for the OK-doke here.
Here are the facts. The European Union has provided more than $16.5 billion in grants and loans to Ukraine since 2014, and the International Monetary Fund approved a $3.9 billion loan agreement for Ukraine.
Again, facts first. The president also insisting today that there was no quid pro quo in that call. But here's the thing. Actions speak louder than words. You put a hold on nearly $400 million in aid to Ukraine, which that country desperately needs to defend itself against Russia.
Let's remember Russia annexed Crimea in 2014. Then just about a week later, you get on the horn with the president of Ukraine to tell him how very, very much you want him to investigate your chief political enemy. A whole lot of people see that as an abuse of power, a crime. Listen now. Judge Andrew Napolitano on Fox News today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANDREW NAPOLITANO, FOX NEWS SENIOR JUDICIAL ANALYST: It is a crime for the president to solicit aid for his campaign from a foreign government. An agreement or a solicitation for assistance for an American campaign regulated by the Federal Election Commission where you are seeking the assistance from a foreign government, that's the crime.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: That's the judge on Fox News, Andrew Napolitano. Joe Biden responding to the president's attacks today saying this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I can take the political attacks. They'll come, and they'll go, and in time they'll soon be forgotten. But if we allow a president to get away with shredding the United States Constitution, that will last forever.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: A momentous day. Only two presidents -- Andrew Johnson, Bill Clinton -- have been impeached in our country's history. Richard Nixon, of course, resigned in the midst of impeachment proceedings.
And speaking of Richard Nixon, there is this very important point that I need to point out to you here. Take a look at this. This is the front page of the New York Times from June 21st, 1974, OK? We'll leave it up for you. There it is.
The headline here, "Nixon and House versions of the tapes differ widely." The House judiciary committee had found that its transcripts of some
of President Nixon's Watergate tapes were very different from the edited transcripts released to the public.
Don't fall for the OK-doke.
And now here we are with a very different impeachment inquiry under way. The White House has tried to bury a whistleblower's complaint. The president has changed his story again and again about his call with the president of Ukraine. And when he needs it most, this president has squandered his credibility.
A momentous day. Now that the House has launched an official impeachment inquiry, what will that look like? And what happens next? That's the question for Dana Bash, Kirsten Power -- Powers, and Harry Litman, next.
LEMON: So here we are, an impeachment inquiry. Now what? A lot to discuss. Dana Bash, Kirsten Powers, and Harry Litman. Good evening. Never a dull moment. And as I said, everyone, what a momentous day.
Dana, I'm going to start with you. It's official. Well, at least the inquiry looking into it, this impeachment. So, tell our viewers what to look for. What do we know?
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the big news obviously is the announcement. What is still unclear -- and it's largely because this happened so fast, the 180 by the speaker led in large part by members of her caucus who are in Trump districts, the so-called front liners, the majority makers, them changing their minds so quickly that it's not entirely clear how this is going to play out when it comes to the process.
What we do know at least for now is that the speaker said there won't be a select committee. So, there won't be one committee like there was during w Watergate. You mentioned Nixon before the break.
Six committees have jurisdiction. They're going to continue to do that. But I can tell you in talking to some rank and file House Democrats tonight, there is a lot of sort of consternation about that because it will leave for a message that is not necessarily clear, not tight, not concise, and particularly for these Democrats who went out on a limb and did not want to do this at all, both politically and policy-wise and every other way, they're concerned that this needs to be streamlined a bit more. But it is early and because this happened relatively fast.
LEMON: Harry, are those rank and file Democrats, right? Would it be better to have a select committee? Would it be more effective?
HARRY LITMAN, PROFESSOR, UCSD POLITICAL SCIENCE: Yes. I think too, they want to be as focused as they can. They now have this great opportunity to bring a series of people up front and put the Republicans on the defensive to try to stop it -- the whistleblower, possibly Giuliani, and other witnesses who they really won't be able to stop.
Why they would want to distribute it among different committees doesn't make a lot of sense to me, and the same -- and by the same token, what they really want is to have the sort of questioning they had at the end of the Lewandowski hearing where a competent, qualified House counsel asked it.
I bet this will be worked out. Schiff, Nadler, the various people, they are pretty competent, and they'll sort of shake it loose.
But I agree with Dana. It's a bit of a -- you know, it defuses the focus which right now they have a possibility of keeping very tight.
LEMON: Did you want to respond to that, Kirsten? I had another question, but did you want to because I see you agreeing --
KIRSTEN POWERS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: No.
LEMON: So listen, the White House has been, Kirsten, and nothing but brazen and consistent in their willingness to stonewall any oversight, and then now today, a couple of hours after Pelosi announces an impeachment inquiry, the White House said that they're going to release a transcript and the complaint and reportedly also working out a deal to have the whistleblower testify. So, what's going on here?
POWERS: I don't know, but I mean you were just, you know, reporting earlier that the concern that will the transcript be the real transcript. You know, they say it will be unredacted, but, you know, can we trust it completely?
You know, I think one of the things that's interesting about this is the president already admitted to doing this. So, I do think it's important to get the transcript, but there's no question that this occurred.
This is something that he has said has occurred. It's something that he is actually proud of, and so, you know, he's trying to cast it as, I did this because I'm so concerned about corruption in this one country where I'm not concerned about corruption anywhere else in the world.
It's very clear what he's doing. There's no other way to interpret it other than he is trying to get a foreign government to interfere in the United States election to his benefit. So, the transcript is important, but he's already admitted to doing it.
LEMON: So, Dana, the Senate unanimously voted today for the whistleblower complaint to be provided to Congress.
BASH: Yes. LEMON: Did the impeachment inquiry force Trump's hand or the Senate
BASH: Probably a combination of both. The Senate vote, because of the huge, historic news that happened in the House -- the Senate vote maybe didn't get as much play as it would have normally.
But the fact that in a bipartisan way they are saying to the administration, cut it out, we want to see this whistleblower complaint, in today's Capitol Hill, in today's Republican party here in the Congress, that doesn't happen very much. Just on maybe a handful of occasions have they stood up to the president and said, cut it out. So.
LEMON: Dana, can I ask you something?
LEMON: OK. So, if this is -- why the rush just today? Why not wait for the transcript to come out and for --
BASH: For the house Democrats, you mean?
LEMON: Yes. And for the complaint to come out before saying now we're going to do it.
BASH: It's a great question. Listen, that is a great question that has been -- that I have been asking a lot of Democrats, and the answer was it's sort of, a chicken or an egg thing.
They're not convinced that the transcript would have actually been released, that the Senate would have voted in a bipartisan way, the way that they did to get the complaint had the specter of the -- or had the big news of impeachment happened today.
The White House and the president himself claims he has nothing to hide, and he's trying to throw it in the face of the House Democrats, which is why he agreed to do this.
And he -- let's just be clear. It is the president who has said, I want to release the transcript. It was a real fight inside the White House about whether or not this is the right thing to do to set precedent, to release a transcript of a discussion that a president has with a foreign leader. But, he, you know, he wanted to do it. And same goes with the claim. So, you know, they are all related, but it is a very fair question, Don, and what happens --
LEMON: And we don't know which form that transcript is going to be in and whether it's --
BASH: And what happens if, if, if they all have no smoking gun or even anything close to that, then what do the House Democrats do? The House speaker made clear today she doesn't care. Just as Kirsten said, it's what the president himself admitted to, and that's what matters.
LEMON: And there's, as far as we know, there is no videotape, and it's not like there's a transcriber, like closed captioning like for us here that every single word is recorded. There's a whole process that they have to go through, and it is not a word-for-word transcript as one would think.
Harry, is what the president admitted to, that Kirsten referred to earlier, is it an impeachable offense?
LITMAN: Yes, I think so. Of course, what Congress says is an impeachable offense is impeachable, but that's sort of by definition. But first it's probably a crime, maybe even a couple different sorts of crimes.
But, look, it's as concerted and grave an assault on the rule of law, I think, by any president in history. It's not simply trying to monkey with an election. It's also trying to sort of trade the assets of the people of the United States for rank personal gain, and it's having, you know, run through the raindrops with the collusion charge on Russia before, he's turned around and very brazenly done the same kind of conduct.
I think it is impeachable. It certainly merits the inquiry, and I think that's the reason actually for the Senate vote here. I think McConnell began to get pressure from his own people, and they have to do something. And this is a little bit, if we're talking Watergate, like the days in June '74, when the White House knew it had to bargain up something.
LITMAN: They tried to offer transcripts of the big tapes if you remember.
LITMAN: They're bargaining now in a way they haven't done before, and I don't buy Trump's, you know, insouciance about it. I think they know that there's hot water here, and they want to keep it from being, you know, boiling over.
LEMON: Well, I could continue on, but I've got -- unfortunately we're out of time. I've got to get to a lot of show here. Thank you so much. I appreciate all of you.
So, the president facing impeachment. How exactly will that work in the House? I'm going to ask a member of the judiciary committee, Congressman Hakeem Jeffries. He joins me next.
LEMON: Well, after resisting calls to impeach the president for over a year, the House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announcing today that the House is moving forward with an official impeachment inquiry. Well, let's listen to what she says.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PELOSI: This week the president has admitted to asking the president of Ukraine to take actions which would benefit him politically. The action of the -- the actions of the Trump presidency revealed the dishonorable fact of the president's betrayal of his oath of office, betrayal of our national security, and betrayal of the integrity of our elections.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Joining me now is Congressman Hakeem Jeffries, chairman of the House Democratic Caucus. Congressman, I appreciate you joining us. Let's talk about what's going on here.
There are six congressional committees with open investigations into this president. Now that the speaker is calling this an impeachment inquiry -- right, an inquiry -- how does that change was Congress has been doing?
REP. HAKEEM JEFFRIES (D-NY): Well, we're in the midst of a formal impeachment inquiry now with the full weight and support of the speaker of course and the caucus. Up until this point, the impeachment investigation had largely been centered around the Judiciary Committee which formally launched its impeachment investigation on September 12th.
Now we have six different committees of jurisdiction all operating under the umbrella of an impeachment inquiry that the speaker has signed off upon with the support of almost 200 members of the House Democratic caucus. At the end of that investigative process, they will make recommendations to the Judiciary Committee as it relates to potential articles of impeachment.
They will be exploring financial impropriety, obstruction of justice, abuse of power, the emoluments issue, but more important than anything else, it will be centered around the Ukraine scandal. It will be centered around national security, upholding the rule of law, the integrity of our elections, and an out of control president as it relates to what we're seeing coming out of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
LEMON: So who will be in charge? That is the question.
JEFFRIES: So with respect to ultimate articles of impeachment that will be potentially recommended to the entire House of Representatives, that will be the Judiciary Committee, but with respect to the Ukraine issue, the committee of jurisdiction is led by Chairman Adam Schiff.
On Thursday there will be a hearing where the acting Director of National Intelligence will be before the committee. We expect that he will then communicate to the American people the precise nature, the matter of urgent concern as found by Trump's own inspector general, as well as release the whistleblower complaint in its entirety to the American people.
LEMON: OK. Well, sources are telling CNN that they plan to release the whistleblower complaint, so you should know by tomorrow when they release that, but getting back to what you guys are doing, and I'm sure the American people were asking how long is this going to take. Give us a time line here.
JEFFRIES: Well, the speaker has made clear that this is going to be as thorough and as expeditious as possible. We have a responsibility to follow the facts, apply the law, and be guided by the United States constitution, and we're going to continue to do that, but we also want to make sure that we can handle this with the expediency and with the fierce urgency of now. This is a crisis that we are in. We need to present these facts to the American people as swiftly as possible and then figure out where we go from there.
LEMON: Congressman, the president has admitted that he discussed Joe Biden with Ukraine in his phone call, and the I.G. has said that the whistleblower complaint is credible and urgent. That said, that said, if these come out and, you know, they're more innocuous than the initial reports have suggested, then what happens?
JEFFRIES: Well, the president has functionally admitted to having committed a crime in that he urged the Ukrainian president to investigate a political ally and essentially welcomed foreign interference again, for the second time in our elections. That relates to the integrity of the electoral process. That relates to the fundamentals of our democracy. It relates to national security concerns.
And so we'll see what happens when we review the transcript of the phone call, and we'll see what happens when we review the whistleblower complaint, but what the president --
LEMON: You think the admission is already -- the admission is, for lack of a better term, the crime -- or the misdeed, I should say, so to speak and everything else is just added on top of it?
JEFFRIES: The admission is functionally in abuse of power.
JEFFRIES: Now we're going to have to proceed responsibly and gather all the information and present it to the American people, which we will do, but we're already in the midst of a constitutional crisis as it relates to what the president has acknowledged publicly. LEMON: Congressman Jeffries, I appreciate your time. Thank you.
JEFFRIES: Thank you, Don.
LEMON: Well, next, I'm going to ask one of the president's top advisers about reports in the Washington Post that some are blaming Rudy Giuliani for the Ukraine scandal. The president's friend and confidant Chris Ruddy weighs in next.
LEMON: So here we are back with our breaking news. President Trump facing an impeachment inquiry. Speaker Nancy Pelosi saying today no one is above the law. So let's talk. We've got a whole lot to talk about with Chris Ruddy.
He is the CEO and president of Newsmax Media, a close confidant to President Trump. Thanks for coming in. We're lucky to have you today. The president admitted speaking to Ukraine's president about investigating Biden, a political opponent. The phone call was on July 25th. Isn't that soliciting foreign interference in the 2020 election?
CHRISTOPHER RUDDY, CEO, NEWSMAX: I think you -- there's a lot of things I don't know about this, and we still really should investigate a lot more, and I think Congress should investigate it a bit more than a few days before they pull the trigger on impeachment.
When you look at this, you're like, there had to be something else motivating this. I mean there's no real sense of deliberation on it, no discussion. The president's releasing the transcript tomorrow. That is going to be very informative.
LEMON: That came after the Nancy Pelosi made the announcement. They are saying, we've had people on saying that they believe that they forced the White House's hands. But neither here nor there, but, I mean, I think that people -- I think that everyone agrees that it should be investigated, and it should be a thoughtful investigation.
RUDDY: You thought the Mueller thing should be investigated, the collusion thing. That took two years, $50 million. I could tell you 12 headlines from CNN and other media that never came out to be true. And at the end of the day, there was no collusion, right? I think we both agree the Mueller report was very definitive.
LEMON: Listen, it never said no collusion.
RUDDY: It was very definitive.
LEMON: I want to discuss this.
RUDDY: My point is this. We're now three days into this and we already have an impeachment process under way. And to me, I think most Americans, if the president committed a crime, I believe he should be impeached, but there's no evidence here yet that he committed any crime, and I don't believe he did.
LEMON: Even though he admitted to --
RUDDY: Well, even if he said -- even if he was saying, I want an investigation of what happened in the 2016 election where they clearly were interfering, the Ukrainians, in that American election, he wanted an investigation of that.
LEMON: That is not what he said. He said he wanted --
RUDDY: An investigation of Joe Biden's also role.
RUDDY: What is illegal about that?
LEMON: Well, the president is --
RUDDY: What crime?
LEMON: The president is talking about political rival --
RUDDY: It may be totally inappropriate.
RUDDY: Politics happen (inaudible).
LEMON: But that is what Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats are saying. That is inappropriate and impeachable.
RUDDY: So you're now just on the basis of hearsay or discussion on this, we're already in an impeachment process? Again --
LEMON: That is a good question for Nancy Pelosi and for the Democrats. Let me ask you this.
RUDDY: What federal law has he violated?
LEMON: Let me ask you this. This is the Washington Post tonight. But it says -- look at this. It says, but the person who appears to have been more directly involved at nearly every stage of the entanglement with Ukraine is Giuliani, talking about Rudy Giuliani. Rudy, he did all of this one U.S. official said. This s-show that we're in, it's him injecting himself into the process. Do you believe the president's personal attorney is responsible for this mess and got the president revved up to look into this?
RUDDY: I think you really have to ask the White House that. I represent Newsmax. I do support the president.
LEMON: But you're here to talk about the president because you're his confidant.
RUDDY: Yes, but I don't talk about all his issues, and I certainly don't talk what Rudy Giuliani advises him or doesn't advise him.
I think Rudy is probably giving him good advice generally. Certainly he is helped him during the legal issues he's had with the Mueller investigation, which appears to have gone his way in a very strong way. But, you know, again --
LEMON: See, that is not true. That's not the Mueller investigation appeared to have gone with him. The Attorney General put out a false narrative. Again, I'm not here to litigate the Mueller case, because what was in the actual Mueller report was very damning for the president. So, what you are saying is not actually true.
RUDDY: But no evidence of a crime. But, you know, at the end of the day.
LEMON: No, that is not true. Again, it's not true that there was no evidence of a crime.
RUDDY: Don, I think today --
LEMON: What it says was that it did not rise to the level. It didn't say that there was no evidence of a crime. That is a different thing.
RUDDY: I think today was a bad day for the president.
LEMON: But the president could not be far.
RUDDY: But I also think it was a bad day for the Democrats. And really it's a bad day for all of us in America that a president -- here we are in the middle of United Nations week where the president is trying to show a unified nation to the world, and the Democrats in Washington are talking about impeaching him on basically hearsay or something Joe Biden -- for the very thing that Biden did, where he was trying to push out a prosecutor. You don't show that clip many times on CNN.
LEMON: But we're not here to talk about that.
RUDDY: You know what I'm talking about. I was watching the coverage here on and off tonight.
LEMON: We're not here to talk about Joe Biden, because none of that has been --
RUDDY: You don't want to talk about anything that is a counter narrative.
LEMON: No. I want to talk about what's happening now, we have a sitting president, and this is a moment in our history that has only happened twice in the history of (inaudible).
RUDDY: The president has been here for three years. He is certainly been doing things outside the box and he's doing things differently. Nancy Pelosi today, a year before the election, when the president very high in the polls decides, Chris, I don't want to give away shiny objects. LEMON: Let's talk about the impeachment process and not push people
off to shiny objects like some --
RUDDY: Like the election, which is what -- there's no conspiracy theory.
LEMON: The U.S. Senate voted unanimously today for this whistleblower complaint to be immediately provided to Congress. Even Republicans want to see it. Now, isn't that a signal of how serious this matter is even for Republicans?
RUDDY: I think the whistleblower document should have been turned over to Congress. I think the transcript of the president's conversation should not be released. He is releasing it due to obviously this tremendous pressure, and there's apparently nothing in it that is going to be harmful to him, but I don't think his private conversations because the press has a story angle on it should be released.
Again, this undermines our president and future presidents going forward. I believe the president should and the White House -- and I think he is not gotten very good legal advice -- should be complying with most subpoenas unless there is an executive privilege exception and working, but you remember this all comes out of two or three years of very hard core politics where they're constantly looking. Why is it --
LEMON: You take issue with the Justice Department saying in this --
RUDDY: I take issue with a private businessman being elected president and there be 20 to 30 investigations under way into his private business, every activity --
LEMON: What does it have to do with this?
RUDDY: That is what I'd like to know. What does it have to do with him being president? There's a feeling -- and just hear it from my point of view, OK? My point of view is --
LEMON: There is nothing --
RUDDY: There's a feeling a lot of people are very unhappy with the presidential election result in 2016. That is why all of this is going on. It has nothing really to do with Donald Trump --
LEMON: That is what you're -- that is a feeling. That is not a fact, OK?
RUDDY: I think I --
LEMON: But what we are talking about is here.
RUDDY: My polling data tends to support me on this, not you.
LEMON: Well, the American people don't decide what should be --
RUDDY: Actually, I believe the American people ultimately will be the judge of the process.
LEMON: And even though the polling is showing --
RUDDY: Republican mad a very big mistake in the 90's? And it backfired, frankly your poll --
LEMON: Even though the polling is showing -- I'll let you make your point. Even though the polling is showing that the majority of the American people are not necessarily on the side of impeachment, you don't think that it is -- that it is a good thing that lawmakers are doing what is right rather than doing what the polls are showing?
RUDDY: Well, I believe there is a very strongly.
LEMON: Hang on. A lot of people who want this impeachment inquiry to happen are in Trump districts and may not get the votes that they want next time.
RUDDY: I think there's been a constant drumbeat, like your coverage on CNN, not you personally, but all night long I didn't see really anyone that was supportive of the president's position. I may be the first person on.
LEMON: No, there have been people on. You didn't see it.
RUDDY: They're very rare. They're exceptions to the narrative. Maybe Fox has --
My point is I think the American people are seeing it, they're ultimately going to be the judge of the impeachment process. I think when they look at the president's record, strongest economy in 50 years.
LEMON: You sound like Nancy Pelosi by the way. Because Nancy Pelosi for the --
RUDDY: She likes the president's record.
LEMON: Nancy Pelosi did not want the impeachment, because she thought politically that it wouldn't be helpful.
RUDDY: Well, I think she again has had tremendous pressure on her. Also I think she probably feels -- I do not believe in some of my sources in Washington say that she thinks there's more to come, that this is not it. LEMON: Right.
RUDDY: So she is not pulling the trigger on this because of this story. She is looking for other things, but I think it's a sad commentary on the Democrats that they're looking for these things. I think the election process is the best way to handle this.
LEMON: Yes. So you think he understands the gravity of this because you're saying the people don't want it. This is all about 2020. Do you think he understands, and do you understand the gravity of this if you're trying to equate it to an election that is coming in a year?
RUDDY: I don't think it's -- you know what? Again, we have an infrastructure crisis, an education crisis, a technology -- we're way behind the Chinese on 5G, AI and we're now going to spend a whole year talking about this issue, and I don't think it's good for any of us. So I do think the president could do more to reach out to the Democrats. He could do a lot more, but they also have to show a little leg. They have to give in a little bit. I don't think we're seeing either side wanting to do it, and so the blame game, you know, let's -- why don't we both agree that --
LEMON: I'm not sure if you're talking to me or you should be looking in that camera talking to the president, but thank you, Chris.
RUDDY: We'll work together. Good to see you, Don.
LEMON: Thank you very much. I appreciate it. We will be right back.
LEMON: A major reversal from the White House tonight. Sources telling CNN, the administration is preparing to release the whistleblower complaint to Congress as soon as tomorrow. So let's discuss now. CNN contributor and former FBI deputy director, Andrew McCabe joins me. Mr. McCabe, I appreciate you joining us. This whistleblower may ultimately end up testifying before Congress. Do you think the truth of all of this is going to come out?
ANDREW MCCABE, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I think it will, Don, eventually. I think we probably have a few hurdles to go before we get there. But tomorrow's potential release of the complaint fills in one major piece of this puzzle that we have all been talking about for the last week.
It will be incredibly interesting to see what's there. I know there's some concern that if it doesn't live up to the hype people will be disappointed. But I think you have to balance that against the I.G.'s determination, not only that it was credible and urgent, but also, I think, he said in his testimony that it was one of the most serious instances of whistleblower raised issues that he had ever seen.
LEMON: Are you surprised to see the White House also apparently blinking tonight over releasing the whistleblower complaint that -- has the tide turned on the administration stone walling?
MCCABE: Well, I don't know if I would go that far. But I think in this instance with respect to this situation, the retaining that complaint and continuing to keep it from Congress and keep it from the public just became absolutely untenable. It's important, I think, also, Don, to point out that this is a situation where the system worked the way it was supposed to.
You have a member of the intelligence community who had concerns about what he or she saw or heard and experienced. And they used the process that's outlined under the law, it raise concerns with the I.G. The I.G. made the determination of urgency and credibility. And passed it along to the DNI. And that's really where we kind of fell off the tracks.
LEMON: Mr. McCabe, the Washington Post tonight has new reporting on complaint and says that, although the whistleblower report focuses on the Trump/Zelensky call.
Officials familiar with its content said that it includes references to other developments tied to the president including efforts by Giuliani to insert himself into U.S./Ukrainian relations. So the Inspector General said the complaint involves more than just the call. But a series of actions. Is that what he could be referring to?
MCCABE: It certainly could be what he's referring to. I mean, there's many circumstances around this situation that are -- that took place before the call between the president and President Zelensky. Simply the -- you can imagine the conversation and the discussions that must have taken place around the withholding of aid or the discussions around whether or not Mr. Giuliani would in fact makes some sort of appeal directly to the Ukrainians.
For me, that's always been one of the most curious aspects of these scenario is the president and the involvement of Rudy Giuliani. Who, as far as we know carries no official imprimatur of the United States authority to conduct or engage in foreign relations. He's not a special envoy. He's not been kind of, you know, detailed to the State Department in ways that sometimes we have seen other folks do on special issues. He is purely representing the interest -- personal interest of the president.
LEMON: Andrew McCabe, thank you for your time. I appreciate it.
MCCABE: Thank you, Don.
LEMON: Lots more on our breaking news tonight in impeachment inquiry as the president says he'll release the transcript of that Ukraine call. And the whistleblower complaint could go to Congress. We are going to dig into all of it next.