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CNN TONIGHT

Speaker Pelosi Gives Her Go Signal To Impeachment; Former HUD Sec. Julian Castro (D) Is Interviewed About Whether The Move Of Their Party To Proceed With Impeachment Is Actually Right; Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-MI) Is Interviewed About What Their Caucus Meeting Was All About; Rudy Giuliani Might Have Led The Impeachment Inquiry On Trump. Aired 11p-12a ET

Aired September 24, 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]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DON LEMON, CNN HOST: This is CNN TONIGHT. I'm Don Lemon.

And we've got one major headline, a monumental one in fact. And here are the ways that we're going to cover it in the hour ahead.

The House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announcing an impeachment inquiry into President Trump as he essentially admits that he pressured Ukraine's president to investigate Joe Biden and his son. We're going to look at what happens next in the process.

Only three other presidents have faced this. Is an impeachment inquiry a risk for Democrats on the campaign trail? Do voters feel strongly about it? I'm going to ask the first candidate to call for impeachment proceedings.

Pelosi met with her caucus just before her announcement. Congresswoman Debbie Dingell was in that meeting. And I'm going to ask her what unfolded behind closed doors.

Also tonight, how important has Rudy Giuliani been in this growing scandal now consuming Trump's presidency? Pressuring Ukraine's leader to get involved in a domestic political fight. And how are Republicans in Congress reacting to Pelosi's historical announcement. He's what the house speaker said to the American public.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), 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: Let's get the big picture now with Frank Bruni, Laura Coates, and Danny Weiss who is the speaker's former chief of staff. So glad to have all of you on. Thank you so much.

Frank, you know, this is an incredibly important day in the events are really moving swiftly. The headlines are unbelievable. You know, President Trump -- look at this. Impeachment inquiry. Look at all of these headlines. President Trump says that he will release the Ukraine call the transcript now.

CNN is reporting that the whistleblower complaint could go to Congress as soon as tomorrow. What do you think?

FRANK BRUNI, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I mean, this is a historic. I think I've heard the word monumental. Did you used that or someone just a moment ago?

LEMON: Yes.

BRUNI: This is the line that had to be crossed, you know, for us to kind of move towards impeachment. And I don't see how we don't end up with an impeachment vote at some point now that this line is been crossed. So this is, this is enormous. And the stakes are huge.

I mean, I think Democrats have made the argument, Nancy Pelosi just made it that enough is enough is enough. That this president is behaved in a way that you cannot ignore and that you must kind of censure in this sternest way which is an impeachment inquiry.

LEMON: I was just going to say what happened so quickly because she said no, no, she wasn't going to do it.

BRUNI: Well, I think a couple things happened. She said she wasn't going to do it before the details of the Ukraine call, right, which is egregious in and of itself, and especially in a context of him doing that after he's just been investigated for inviting a foreign power to meddle in an election.

She also saw her caucus moving. I mean, just in the last 24, 36 hours a bunch of freshman moderates said you know what, you know, we now think impeachment, and impeachment inquiry possibly an impeachment is in order. And I don't think Nancy Pelosi felt she could any longer stand in the way of the very passionate earnest sentiments of people in her caucus.

LEMON: Interesting. let's bring Laura in now. Laura, the administration went to great lengths to shut this down. You know it. You have been reporting on it. Now the New York Times is reporting that they are in negotiations to allow the whistleblower to testify. Why do you think the sudden change of course here?

LAURA COATES, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, I think clearly, they were pressured in a sense that they knew that they didn't have much of a recourse or a choice. Why? Because the president of the United States has made statements to confirm that the allegation, that the substance of the allegations that he in fact tried to solicit help from a foreign government having learned nothing apparently from the Trump tower meeting. That's entirely (Inaudible).

Not knowing anything about why he was investigated or his administration or his campaign for the better part of two and a half years decides he's emboldened enough to do this and the only recourse he has is his own words saying I have done this behavior.

And so, I think in many respects they are hoping that perhaps they'll be able to explain away the behavior or the complaint does not actually tarnish him the way that it's projected to do so and maybe it's a last ditch Hail Mary to say I'm being transparent because I have done nothing wrong.

LEMON: Interesting. Danny, Speaker Pelosi went ahead announcing an impeachment inquiry before Congress, you know, haven't seen this transcript or the whistleblower complaint at all.

[23:04:59]

So, you were her former chief of staff. What is she thinking here? What's going on?

DANNY WEISS, FORMER CHIEF OF STAFF FOR SPEAKER PELOSI: Well, she clearly was very concerned. And it remains very concerned about the information that we do have at this point about the president's actions with regard to Ukraine.

A president contacting a leader of a foreign country and asking the leader of the foreign country to take action so intervene in an American election. The president as you've been covering all night long, has already admitted that that's what he did.

So, it's not like we don't know anything. We clearly need to know more and one of the reasons for going ahead with the impeachment inquiry is to make sure that Congress does get the whistleblower complaint. It will not be sufficient to see the redacted or even the complete transcript of the phone call because it has been reported that the whistleblower complaint contains allegations of improper activity that go beyond a single phone call. So, she was very concerned

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: So, the president -- do you think -- do you think the president admitting to a left her no other choice?

WEISS: I believe it left her no other choice. And you know, you have a number -- she's a master of reading her caucus. Frank is absolutely right that she saw what was happening in her caucus. Some people are giving her a lot of credit for the way she's handled this up until now. She has had the best interest of the country in mind as she goes forward with this.

And it's been a juggling act. But now she sees a growing call within her caucus for action, she sees egregious action that the president has admitted to. He's admitted to taking this action. And I believe she felt there was no alternative at this point for the good of the country.

I think she's taking obviously bold is not enough of a word. Momentous is not even enough a word. As you have said this is a huge deal and we will see where it goes from here.

LEMON: Frank, I want to ask you why now? I mean, you heard his version of why now.

(CROSSTALK)

BRUNI: Well, why --

LEMON: But today, tomorrow wouldn't be when it comes out or maybe she believes that they force a hand, especially for the actual complaint to come out.

BRUNI: Yes. I don't know why today versus tomorrow or yesterday. But I do think this phone call changed everything in a big way. And I do think the caucus was moving.

One thing I don't think has changed and I'm sure if Nancy Pelosi were here and speaking candidly, she's well aware that this remains politically risky. That's why she was delaying. I am sure that is in her mind very much and worrying her now.

None of that has changed. And we're going to talk a lot in coming days on shows like this about what happened in 1998, '99 with Bill Clinton's impeachment and what the political fallout is.

I think we have to remember this is a much different president. This is a much different era. There wasn't social media then. And this is a different set of offenses. So, none of us knows as we go down this road whether this is going to bite Democrats or whether this is actually going to be the final nail in Donald Trump's coffin. And I think we just have to realize that this is completely, completely foreign terrain.

LEMON: Laura, what is this impeachment inquiry mean going forward for the White House? Will it be forced to legally comply with request now from Congress?

COATES: Well, it means for Congress, you know, where procedures is being completely impotent which they have been for quite some time. Strategy or not, benefit of the doubt or not. People have been wondering if not this then when if nothing is going to raise the level.

But for the White House's concerns they are going to have to have -- they have already had their hands forced. You've watched for better parts of two years complete stonewalling by the administration and then suddenly when the actual impeachment inquiry has been initiated from the mouth of Nancy Pelosi within hours they're going to now comply with different terms? Clearly, this is the actual road and a domino effect that's going to take place here.

Now how transparent will be in the long run without the courts being involved or attorneys being involved or the office of the White House counsel remains to be seen. But they have set the wheels in motion just by actually using that formidable term impeachment which is why of course it was so important to have it.

Now, remember, we can't conflate in any way, shape or form, Don, the idea of an impeachment inquiry with the removal of a president.

LEMON: Right.

COATES: You have so many steps in between then to even get to a conviction, let alone an actual trial in the Senate. But what you have right now is a political move to suggest that look, the American people don't actually think that contemplation and strategy should actually replace the separation of power.

And it got to the point I think where Pelosi saw that they're being perceived as paralyzed as opposed to strategic, particularly when the president admitted to behavior that we have agreed is a problematic.

LEMON: Danny, you know, we saw how Corey Lewandowski stonewalled Congress last week. Now that the speaker has announced an impeachment inquiry, will Democrats do you think they'll have a better coordinated approach for hostile witnesses now? And maybe more leverage. This appears to be much more serious. People take impeachment proceedings more seriously.

WEISS: Yes. I would agree that the Lewandowski hearing was not the finest moment for the judiciary committee. It's not exactly clear who the committees will be calling.

[23:10:01]

They are looking for documentation and information. Thursday, of course, the intelligence committee will have the director of national intelligence. I'm not aware of anybody who's scheduled to appear before the judiciary committee any time soon.

I think now what we're into is a fact-finding on exactly what was the role of Giuliani with the State Department. What was the role of Giuliani with the White House?

There's a lot of incredible reporting taking place tonight on that. And both the foreign affairs committee and intelligence committee and oversight had sent letters to the White House and the State Department as I think you know, asking for documents related to Giuliani's role in that.

So, I think right now you might not be in a period of high-profile witnesses coming before the committees but you will. You're obviously in a very high-profile moment in terms of information that's going to be collected.

And I would just say to Frank's point about the politics. He's absolutely right that we don't know which way this is going to will go. But I would just point out that two things about this.

One is, no matter what the truth is, we know that President Trump will say whatever he wants to for his case. So, he will continue to talk about the allegations around Biden which have been completely discredited. But he will talk about that. Your previous guest talked about that. They will talk about that despite of being discredited.

And the other thing about the politics that we don't know is there hasn't been a poll I don't think since the Ukraine issue, the call to a foreign leader by our president has become such a big deal. So we'll have to see if that's had any impact.

We know the Trump voters tend to be very supportive of him despite what's taken place. But as far as independents and the rest of the country this could have a very big impact on their thinking.

LEMON: Danny, Laura, Frank, thank you so much. I appreciate it.

I want to bring in now CNN Presidential Historian, Douglas Brinkley.

Douglas, thank you. So glad that you're here. Boy, what a day. This has been a historic day by any standards.

President Trump could become the fourth president in history to face impeachment proceedings after Richard Nixon, Bill Clinton and Andrew Johnson. How significant is this moment?

DOUGLAS BRINKLEY, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: This is an enormous day. The fact that Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi essentially gone to war with Donald Trump. She has the majority; she's counting the votes. And they're going to take the test to Trump.

You know, when our founders used to call Jefferson's manual, it talks about what' is impeachment and high crimes and misdemeanors. But high on that list is things like extortion, you know, betrayal of the national security, you know, bribery.

And Donald Trump is in a deeply difficult position now because he's going to have to cough up a transcript that can't be doctored. You're going to have now a whistleblower coming forward who's going to become a household name the way Alexander Butterfield and John Dean overnight became famous during the Nixon years.

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: Wait, wait, hold on, hold, Douglas. What do you mean it can't be doctored?

BRINKLEY: Pardon?

LEMON: What do you mean it can't be doctored? The transcript you said? BRINKLEY: Well, they will be under legal jeopardy if that's doctored. I'm worried about it. I'm worried that they are going to say these are a memoir notes, we're going to have to see what it comes out tomorrow. We have to see if anybody has a recording.

Since 1974, with the Nixon tapes most presidents claim they're not recording things but a recording would be best. The tapes are what dammed Nixon in many ways in the end. But we're going to get some kind of transcription here. And we're going to have to see what the whistleblower has.

So, I think the Nixon parallels are going to be large here except for the fact that Nixon we had a select committee. You know, people like Sam Ervin and then Howard Baker became well known.

This is going to be Nancy Pelosi trying to jam this through as fast as she can. Working in a stealth fashion before you get into the caucuses and primaries in early 2020.

LEMON: Interesting. Thanks for clarifying that for me. So, Nixon resigned before he even made it to -- it even made it to a House vote. Bill Clinton and Andrew Johnson were impeached but acquitted by the Senate.

Is what we're seeing now similar -- I mean, to what's happened in the past? Or do you think this is, is this new territory?

BRINKLEY: I think it's new territory. I find it to be the worst -- basically, the President Trump doing a drone attack on America's political system. That's a lot different than Bill Clinton having extramarital affair and perjuring himself, you know.

But what it has in common with Bill Clinton's impeachment in my mind is I think that it's containable the story. I think people get what Donald Trump did trying to get dirt on Joe Biden, using Hunter Biden going to a foreign power.

The whole Mueller investigation got so tangled we had to do charts and webs. It lost a loft people. This to me is a pretty clear that Donald Trump has made an impeachable offense and would be a dereliction of duty if the Democrats weren't pursuing impeachment at this time.

[23:15:07]

But probably like Bill Clinton that Congress will have the -- it will be very partisan. And Congress' will move if they can get their act together and impeach him and now the Senate then will have the trial of Donald Trump and he'll try to become a hero out of that Senate trial --

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: Very smart assessment.

BRINKLEY: -- if he can survive like Bill Clinton.

LEMON: Yes. Thank you, Douglas Brinkley. I appreciate your time.

BRINKLEY: Thank you.

LEMON: Julian Castro was one of the first Democratic candidates to call for impeachment proceedings. He's here, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: CNN has learned the White House is now preparing to give the whistleblower complaint to Congress. That after -- that happened after the House Speaker Nancy Pelosi opened an impeachment inquiry.

Let's discuss now with Democratic Presidential Candidate, Julian Castro who was secretary of Housing and Urban development under President Barack Obama. Secretary Castro, thank you.

[23:20:03]

First of all, I want your reaction to this breaking news that the White House is preparing to release the whistleblower complaint. What changed here?

JULIAN CASTRO (D), FORMER HUD SECRETARY, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's clear that the president is backed into a corner. He's backed himself into a corner because he's admitted to the main facts of the charge that he tried to strong arm President Zelensky of the Ukraine to investigate in a bogus way, investigate Joe Biden and his son for political advantage.

And little by little his case is falling apart. He's already back stepped, back peddled more on this than he did in the Mueller report because he has this play book and part of the play book is to try and subsume the main argument. He tried it in the beginning of this to subsume it by saying, yes, well, it didn't matter what I said. Or it was, you know, a normal conversation.

But now, this is diverging from his play book because he certainly was not this forthcoming in the Mueller investigation right away. And I think that once this impeachment inquiry gets going, we're going to learn a lot more about what happened. And, you know, I have a feeling that this time where there is smoke, there is fire.

LEMON: You have been calling for impeachment proceedings well before this latest Ukraine reporting. What makes this moment so different that the house speaker was now willing to launch a formal inquiry?

CASTRO: I think this is something that people out there can understand. This is the facts of this that he's trying to strong arm a leader into investigating a political opponent by withholding aid.

First of all, it harkens back to what he did in the 2016 campaign. Asking Russia basically to locate e-mails. So, it's the same play book to try and dirty up his political opponent with false accusations.

But the American people can get this. This sounds like the corrupt action, you know, of some neighborhood politician, you know, in any town in America. That's the kind of thing that people are used to politicians doing.

And so, I think that the American people can understand not only that this kind of -- this kind of behavior is consistent with what Donald Trump does, but that the facts as they have been laid out the fact that he's admitted basically to doing this make this a very compelling case for an impeachment inquiry.

In a way that as your previous guest said with the Mueller report even though there were those 10 instances where he either obstructed justice or attempt to obstruct justice, that was a little bit more challenging for folks to follow. So, you know, they're going to get going with the impeachment inquiry.

LEMON: So, what do you think -- what should this inquiry focus on? The president pressuring that Ukraine's president to investigate the former vice president's son, you know, what happened on the phone call. Or should the House go beyond that. Because depending on which Democrat you talk to they have different ideas of what or different definitions of what it means, you know, impeachable offense means.

CASTRO: The way I took Speaker Pelosi's remarks today was that it's going to be fairly wide ranging. It will certainly include, you know, what happened with his conversations with the Ukrainian leader.

But the fact that she talked about the six different committees and the investigations that they have under way that that's going to be coordinated. To me, it seems like it's going to be broader than that.

And truth be told it should be as broad as it needs to be. Because there's a whole slew of potentially illegal activity that Donald Trump and his family have engaged in.

So, I believe that they should let the facts bare themselves out and undertake these investigations in full. And it maybe that in addition to what we have seen with the Mueller report and these reports about his dealings with the Ukrainian leader that there are other issues that warrant impeachment.

LEMON: Secretary Castro, thank you for your time.

CASTRO: Good to be with you.

What were discussions like when Democrats met behind closed doors, and what will they do next. I'm going to ask a close ally of the House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Congresswoman Debbie Dingell is next.

[22:25:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Our breaking news. The House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announcing an impeachment inquiry of President Trump today in the face of outrage after the president reportedly pressured Ukraine's leader for help digging up dirt on Joe Biden and his son.

Let's bring in Democratic Congresswoman Debbie Dingell. She is a Senior Whip and close ally of the House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Congresswoman, I appreciate you joining us. Thank you so much.

REP. DEBBIE DINGELL (D-MI): It's good to be with you.

LEMON: I know it's a very busy day for you. And you were in that caucus meeting when the house speaker right before she made that announcement about opening a formal impeachment inquiry. Can you tell us what that meeting was like, please?

DINGELL: First of all, it's probably one of the most well attended caucus meetings I've seen since I've been in the House. You know, it was a thoughtful, intense meeting. This is a very serious issue. And our caucus like the country has got a lot of different perspective.

[23:30:00]

But I think that in the last week as reports have come and the inspector general sending a message to the Congress that it had wound a whistleblower report to be of serious concern, a threat to national security, and urgent, got everybody's attention, and we need the facts.

And you know, I myself have been very concerned about how divided this country has been. And an impeachment process is going to divide us further --

LEMON: Yeah.

DINGELL: -- but we can't be divided on rule of law.

LEMON: All right. I want to ask you more about that because the House speaker has been resisting calls for impeachment for months. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: The House Democratic caucus is not on the path to impeachment, and that's where he wants us to be.

I don't think there's anything more divisive we can do than to impeach a president of the United States.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you comfortable with the term impeachment inquiry?

PELOSI: I'm not -- thank you all very much.

Why is it you're hung up on word over here when lives are at stake over there? Thank you all very much and good morning.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: So, listen, you were just talking -- you were talking about your reasons for this. I'm wondering why today is the day that everyone or it seems that more people are open to this inquiry, especially now that maybe all the information wouldn't have come out, the release of the call, the whistleblower report, and on and on, but why today and before those things have even come out?

DINGELL: Well, I think this only became public last week, more toward the end of the week. We were all home. And each day, more news trickled out. We don't know what the facts are. That's part of the problem.

And that's what an inquiry is. Let's gather the facts, but we weren't -- what is -- what I think bothered me and bothered many is that the inspector general is required by law when he finds this kind of -- it's a threat to national security, it's urgent to report it to the Congress, the administration blocked that report from going to the Congress.

You know, I'm reading lots of news reports, but I don't know what the details are. I don't know what the threat was, what the whistleblower was concerned about, what the inspector general found out, are there other countries involved. There are a lot of questions.

And the fact that somebody would talk to the president of another country, take appropriated funds by the Congress, and threaten to hold them up or to hold them up because of some kind of implied, whatever, I don't want to use the word threat because if we're lucky -- it's not only seeing the transcript. It's going to be hearing from the inspector general and --

LEMON: So, what if it is not in the transcript? What if none of that --

DINGELL: Well, I think there's a good chance it's not going to be in the transcript, but -- I don't know. But I do think having the whistleblower report to the Intelligence Committee, I think that was --

LEMON: Do you think you forced their hands with the report by announcing this inquiry?

DINGELL: I -- well, first of all, I don't even -- we didn't announce the inquiry until the end of the day. I think anybody watching, people -- a lot members were really deeply disturbed and you can't be divided on the rule of the law. It's a threat to our national security. That's our job, to defend this country. It's also a threat to the constitution. I take that seriously. It's most fundamental job I have.

LEMON: Well, Congresswoman, we wish you luck and we thank you for coming on and we hope to have you back soon as this continues.

DINGELL: I will. You know what? We got to wish the country luck. We're all Americans first.

LEMON: I don't disagree with that. Thank you, Congresswoman.

DINGELL: Thank you. LEMON: The "Washington Post" reports a U.S. official is pointing right at Rudy Giuliani, claiming he is in the center of all of this. We're going to take a look at his role next.

[23:35:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Lots of questions tonight about the president's attorney Rudy Giuliani and exactly what he was doing in Ukraine. Here's what we know tonight.

Back on May 9th, Giuliani announced he was going to Ukraine to push for investigations into Joe Biden. The very next day, he said he wasn't going to go after all. On July 25th, the president and Ukraine's leader spoke on the phone. Trump reportedly pressured him to investigate Biden's son. Let's remember sources tell CNN Trump had been seething for months about Ukraine and Biden and that Giuliani had been egging him on.

Then in August, we learned Giuliani pressed a Ukrainian official on the phone and in person meeting in Spain to look into the Bidens. And last week, Giuliani admitted to Chris Cuomo that he asked Ukraine to investigate Biden.

So there's a lot to discuss here, Mark McKinnon; also Amanda Carpenter, she is the author of "Gaslighting America: Why We Love It When Trump Lies to Us"; and Michael D'Antonio, the author of, "The Truth About Trump."

Good evening one and all. Good to see both of --

AMANDA CARPENTER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Hello.

LEMON: -- all of you -- well, both of you, which two?

CARPENTER: Me, definitely me. I'm on the good list.

LEMON: Amanda, I'm going to start with you because you're on the good list. It appears that Rudy Giuliani is at the center of this mess and he led the president into this impeachment inquiry. What is going on here?

[23:40:00]

CARPENTER: Well, somebody is spilling their guts about what Giuliani is doing to the Post and other out lets. And I wonder if that person's name might rime with Don Bolton, maybe. We'll see, but if it is, come out, come out where ever you are.

It looks like Rudy Giuliani was a very, very busy man, both on the airwaves and off the airwaves. But I think we need to take a step back because all of this is just a different chapter in the same book, and that's that Trump cheats and tries to get people to cheat to help him win. This is like the song of his life. During the election, he tried to cheat by welcoming Russian interference. During that same election, he cheated campaign finance laws by issuing hush money to a playmate and a porn star to hide his affairs from the general voting public.

And here he is again directing a different personal lawyer, not the one that's in jail, not the one who already had to testify to Congress, to go try to find dirt on a political opponent.

And so, here we are again. Clearly, he didn't learn the lesson from the Mueller investigation and all of his friend in jail now. He has no one but himself to blame. What I find it amazing is that he can find someone like Giuliani to go down this road, the man who was once America's beloved mayor is now just another Trump crony.

LEMON: Yeah. Well, that was a little bit after 9/11, but there's a lot -- that's a whole another show. Mark, listen, "The Washington Post" tonight is reporting that -- on the complaint further implicating Giuliani, OK? And here is what it says.

It says, "though the whistleblower report focuses on the Trump- Zelensky call, officials familiar with this content said that it includes references to other developments tied to the president including efforts by Giuliani to insert himself into U.S.-Ukranian relations."

Does Rudy Giuliani have any business getting involved in U.S.- Ukrainian politics?

MARK MCKINNON, HOST, SHOWTIME'S "THE CIRCUS": Not at all. That's highly problematic and you would think there would be senators, not just -- not just Democratic senators but Republicans senators, that would be voicing concern about that fact that you have a rogue agent, a personal attorney for a president, circumventing the State Department and conducting foreign policy. And as a -- that I agree. I think there's a big white shark swimming right now and his name is John Bolton. That's somebody I'd really like to --

LEMON: But she said alliance with Don Bolton, but that's okay. Go on.

CARPENTER: I make it really easy for people to catch on.

MCKINNON: And you see, yes. So, we -- it'll be -- I can't wait to hear from him. I can't wait to hear from the Ukrainian ambassador, who was -- who was asked to leave Ukraine when things weren't going according to plan.

So, there's all kind of questions that this raises that are possibly illegal, certainly unethical, highly inappropriate. It's just not the way foreign policy should be conducted ever.

LEMON: I can't wait for Jake's State of the Cartoon (ph). He would have an idea of a big shark with a mustache.

MCKINNON: I like it. I like that. LEMON: So, Jake, if you're watching, do that please. Help us out here. Michael, here is -- the Post goes on to say this, "but the person who appears to have been more directly involved at nearly every stage of the entanglement with Ukraine is Giuliani. Rudy, he did all of this."

One U.S. official said, "this s-show that we're in is him injecting himself into the process." He's a trusted advisor of this president. But isn't the president responsible for his own decisions?

MICHAEL D'ANTONIO, CNN CONTRBUTOR: Well, of course. Ultimately, the president is responsible for his decisions. And -- but remember, Michael Cohen, the president's previous attorney, also meddled in Ukraine. Remember at the start of the presidency that he had a peace plan to deal with Russia and Ukraine?

So, there's some strange magnetic poll that these Eastern European states have for the president. I think in many ways he and Giuliani are acting like the corrupt agents they witnessed throughout their lives. So, Giuliani as a prosecutor saw a lot of guys who would say, nice little country you got here, it will be a shame if something happened to it. And that is how the president is behaving.

You don't go and actually propose a quid pro quo. You know the message. So, Giuliani is perfectly familiar with corruption. He's now practicing it. The president in real estate running casinos, he's perfectly familiar with the method of corruption and he is doing it all well.

LEMON: All right. Stand by everyone, stick with me here. With more and more Democrats calling for impeachment, will we start to hear -- what will we start to hear from Republicans? We don't know.

[23:45:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: We're back now with Mark McKinnon, Amanda Carpenter, and Michael D'Antonio. Mark, this time you're up. The president is facing impeachment. All the conflicting explanations for the Ukraine mess are collapsing. Yet we have heard very little from the GOP. Are we going to hear -- when are we going to hear from them?

MCKINNON: Well, likely soon. We're going to -- we're going to see the complaint supposedly and the transcript of the phone call. There's not a lot of history to suggest that the Republicans are going to act a lot differently. There's going to be a lot of backbone transplants. But there are some good signs.

I mean we Mitt Romney has spoken up. By the way, all the Republicans senators released a unanimous vote in the senate today, including the Republicans --

LEMON: That's right.

MCKINNON: -- to vote for a resolution asking for -- asking that the full complaint be delivered to the Congress.

LEMON: Were you surprised by that?

[23:50:02]

MCKINNON: I was very surprised by that. I was very surprised, although think about what a low bar that is. I'm being surprised by the fact that Republicans are voting to uphold the law. It's the law that they turn that over, right?

LEMON: Yeah.

MCKINNON: So -- and by the way, a couple members of your competitor network have stepped out including some "Fox & Friends" folks questioning the president. And so -- and when you lose "Fox & Friends," you may be losing part of the base.

LEMON: I wonder what -- he's going to have to tune in to a different morning show. Who knows? Maybe it will be "New Day." Let's hope so.

The president owns the GOP, but this is the biggest test of all. I don't know. Do you think the Republicans are going to -- the GOP, I think they're going to wait to see which way the wind blows here?

D'ANTONIO: Well, I think they're terrified of the president. So, this is a person who has frightened all of the political establishment, both on the left and the right. It took Democrats a long time to pull themselves together. So, imagine what would happen if Trump is impeached. He's not going to be convicted, and he loses the election. He is going to go out, and he's going to torment --

LEMON: He's going to lose his mind.

D'ANTONIO: -- the Republicans for the rest of his life. He'll be on Fox News. He'll have his own network maybe. He's still got his Twitter following. I think they put themselves in a bad jam because this is a man who is loyal to himself but not to the party. He doesn't care about the party.

LEMON: Interesting. Amanda, you say that this president doesn't want impeachment to happen, that this would be a permanent stain on his record. So what will the strategy be to fight it?

CARPENTER: Well, I think for all Republicans who don't want to get in front of this thing, your best bet is to hope that the Democrats screw it up, which is very possible.

LEMON: Yes.

CARPENTER: Listen, impeachment is like a game of chicken on the high wire. Someone is going to fall and get hurt very badly, maybe everybody. But listen, there are some openings here.

Nancy Pelosi's handling of it, I know everyone across the board is saying she's masterful. Well, I kind of have some questions about how she didn't have her head straight on in terming this from the get-go. Why wasn't there a vote on this? What are they afraid of?

Why wasn't there a select committee? How is it going to work when you have like six different committees investigating this and stepping all over each other, which by the way they've launched this all on a whistleblower complaint they haven't seen? That's incredibly risky.

I think they're on better ground because there's a lot of human witnesses that saw this happening in the White House, you know, Mick Mulvaney at the State Department, Giuliani talking to the media. So this isn't like the Mueller report. But, oh, my goodness, this path is fraught with peril and Republicans know how to play politics with this.

You're going to have part of the transcript maybe come out tomorrow, and that's where the games are going to begin. Because if that first draft doesn't come out and corroborate, all eight instances offers that were documented in the "Wall Street Journal" then they're going to start trying to disqualify this from the start. And then they better pray that that whistleblower complaint comes through.

LEMON: But he did admit it. Does that make any difference to you?

CARPENTER: Yes. Yes, he did. Oh, it makes a difference to me, like I believe this happened. I still want to read the complaint. I still want to see the documentation. But I'm just telling you this is how it's going to game out.

LEMON: Mark, you say president was emboldened by the outcome of the Mueller report, that he is not constrained by the rules of governance -- the rules of governance that most politicians and presidents are. Do you think that he enjoys this fight?

MCKINNON: Oh, yeah. I mean, he doesn't know how to do anything but fight. And you know, it's -- not only was he emboldened by the outcome of the Mueller report, the phone call with Ukraine happened the day after Mueller testified in Congress. So you can just kind of imagine the psychology.

LEMON: That's pretty much emboldened.

MCKINNON: It's like, you know, I just blew down a $32 million investigation with the toughest prosecutor in America. Now I think I'll go meddle in this little -- former Russian satellite, see what I can do there.

LEMON: We know the president likes to fight and he likes an enemy, and you say he's not afraid of impeachment. Is that true, Michael?

D'ANTONIO: You know, I think he's afraid of humiliation. So whether impeachment carries that with it, it is unclear as far as the president's perspective.

LEMON: Would he even admit to being humiliated even if he is?

D'ANTONIO: Oh, I think the more he rages, the more he feels humiliated. There's like a call and response thing here. He's going to feel the damage, and then he's going to lash out. And he's terrified of being made the fool. So, he'll spin this so that impeachment isn't the grave thing that it is and crow about not being convicted.

LEMON: Oh, boy. All I could think about today was here we go. Here we go. My job just got a lot harder.

CARPENTER: Get ready.

MCKINNON: We picked a good time for the circus to come back, Don.

LEMON: I know. Congratulations to you, I guess. Thank you all. I appreciate it. Good to see you.

Thanks for watching, everyone. Our coverage continues.

[23:55:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[25:59:53]

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening. There is news just breaking now at the end of an already historic day. The White House appears to have just now blinked in the standoff that today left President Trump facing the specter of impeachment.

He's certainly not there yet, not by any means.