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Sources: State Dept. Inspector General Requests "Urgent" Hill Briefing Tomorrow Afternoon On Ukraine Docs; Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD) Is Interviewed About The Meeting With The State Department; House Deposition With Ex-U.S. Ambassador Delayed As IG Requests "Urgent" Briefing Over Ukraine Documents; Pompeo, Democrats Accuse Each Other Of Witness Intimidation As Secretary Of State Stalls Letting Officials Talk To Congress; Top GOP Senator Grassley Breaks With Trump, Says Whistleblower Should Be "Heard Out And Protected." Aired 7-8p ET

Aired October 1, 2019 - 19:00   ET


BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: I'm Brianna Keilar. Erin Burnett OUTFRONT starts right now.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next breaking news, the State Department Inspector General just requesting an urgent briefing on Capitol Hill about Ukraine. One congressional aide calling the request highly unusual and cryptically worded. Plus a key witness mentioned multiple times in the whistleblower's complaint about the President's call to Ukraine agreeing to testify. How key could he be? And 2020 Democrats reporting new fundraising numbers 10s of millions of dollars raised. What does this mean for the crowded field going forward? Let's go up front.

Good evening, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan, in for Erin Burnett. OUTFRONT tonight, we have breaking news in the fast moving impeachment investigation. The State Department Inspector General has just requested an urgent briefing tomorrow on Capitol Hill. According to sources, the meeting is related to documents on Ukraine. The timing, unusual to say the least, given one that Congress is on recess, but also because of the fact that just hours before, the Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made clear to house Democrats that he's not going to comply with their requests in this investigation.

Just a short time ago, House Democrats responded to Pompeo saying this, "Any effort to intimidate witnesses or prevent them from talking with Congress, including State Department employees is illegal and will constitute evidence of obstruction of the impeachment inquiry."

Interesting word choice there because just this morning, Pompeo said the very same when he told the House essentially to back off writing this in part, "I'm concerned with aspects of your request - that can be understood only as an attempt to intimidate, bully, and treat improperly the distinguished professionals of the Department of State."

Pompeo adding that he will not tolerate such tactics. This is all about the house request to depose five State Department officials. Manu Raju is out front live from Capitol Hill. Manu, yet another day and a lot of developments happening, but this very latest what are you learning about this "urgent meeting" with the State Department IG tomorrow?

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I'm told by multiple congressional sources that this request for this private briefing in a secure room in the U.S. Capitol tomorrow came after Mike Pompeo made those remarks to send that letter to Capitol Hill saying essentially that the State Department was not ready to comply with the Democrats' request, a subpoena for documents related to the Ukraine matter and the Democrats scheduling of depositions for five former and current State Department officials.

I'm told about an hour after that Pompeo letter came out, the Inspector General sent a cryptically worded letter. Highly unusual letter to several House and Senate Committees asking for an urgent briefing. Now, in this very brief and vague letter, the Inspector General says that he has obtained some documents from the Legal Advisor of the State Department and also says as it relates to the Ukraine matter.

Now, it's uncertain, of course, what exactly this means. But, of course, what drove this impeachment investigation was a separate Inspector General of the Intelligence Community who deemed that whistleblower's complaint urgent and credible. The whistleblower complaint as we know now raise concerns about the President's phone call that he had with the Ukrainian president in which the whistleblower alleged was part of President Trump's effort to get Ukraine to interfere in the 2020 elections.

Now, will the Inspector General of the State Department offer anything different for more information remains to be seen or perhaps provide even more documents that Mike Pompeo is not willing to provide, still uncertain but this vaguely worded letter has gotten a lot of attention among staff members on Capitol Hill and lawmakers staff members will be in this briefing. Tomorrow we'll see how the this affects the impeachment investigation going forward, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Yes. Fascinating how this is playing out today. Thank you so much, Manu. I really appreciate it. Out front with me now is Democratic Congressman Jamie Raskin. He's a Member of the House Oversight Committee as well as the Judiciary Committee. Congressman, what do you know about this briefing or meeting tomorrow with the State Department's I guess, because we're told it will include staffers from your Committee?

REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D-MD): Yes. I don't know anything about it other than it's happening and it appears to be in response to the letter that Secretary Pompeo sent to Congress and that letter intimates that he thinks that he has some kind of protective privilege blanket that he can draw down over all of the documents that we are requesting and he appears to think that he can stop the witnesses from coming in and testify.

The humorous thing about it is that he's posing now as the great defender of the professionals in the State Department when apparently he was on the phone call listening in with Donald Trump and the President of Ukraine as Trump trashed the U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine and called her the woman and said that they were going to get rid of her.


He didn't do anything to defend her at that point. But now that he's basically wants to put the State Department in lockdown in terms of information, he's pretending that somehow he's defending the personnel who work there.

BOLDUAN: I want to ask you more about Pompeo in a second, but about this meeting tomorrow. I know that it's, all of the reporting is that it's going to be attended by Committee staffers. Will you be at the meeting? I mean, why not go to the meeting?

RASKIN: I may go to the meeting. I don't know. I have not spoken to the Chair or the Chief of Staff yet and I'll check in with them.

BOLDUAN: And that might be them right now. I'm just kidding.

RASKIN: Yes, that could be. Yes.

BOLDUAN: OK. About the Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and him saying that the House is trying to intimidate and bully State Department employees. I know that you say that it's almost comical, but is that what Committees are trying to do? Are you trying to bully State Department employees to comply?

RASKIN: No. But obviously all of this is about the bullying of Donald Trump who withheld $391 million in military aid that Congress had voted to go to our besieged ally, Ukraine, which is fighting against Russia and Vladimir Putin. Donald Trump held it up. He delayed it and then engaged in the now infamous conversation where he said though there is something that we want from you and that's something, of course, was that information that he thought would be damning about Joe Biden and Joe Biden's son.

BOLDUAN: And Congressman, then the key question, I think, at this moment is if Pompeo doesn't comply, if he stonewalls, if he can, then the real question is what are you going to do about it? What do you propose?

RASKIN: Yes. Well, this is the situation that we've confronted all along now with the Trump administration.

BOLDUAN: With little success.

RASKIN: With little success because we've never seen an administration this lawless or this reckless before in U.S. history.

BOLDUAN: Right, be that what it may, the reality that you're working with is you have an Attorney General who's been held in contempt of Congress and that has gotten you very little on the backside of it.

RASKIN: Right. All right. So here's what we've got, here's what we've got, OK, one; we can hold them in contempt and try to go to court to the U.S. attorney, but that U.S. attorney reports to the Department of Justice, which means reports ultimately to Bill Barr who's clearly part of the new racket operation, so that's not going to work.

We have inherent powers of contempt that we haven't used yet. They go back to the 19th century when the Supreme Court said in Anderson versus Dunn in 1821, that Congress has the exact same powers to enforce its orders that a court does. So he's tempting us, he's essentially inviting us to go back and to dust off those old powers.

BOLDUAN: OK. So that includes fining them or arresting people.

RASKIN: We could fine them on a daily basis and we could arrest them like my constituents who were arrested in the last Congress who were 19 high school kids from BCC and Montgomery Blair and Wheaton High School who are sitting in at Paul Ryan's office over the failure of the Republicans to do anything about gun safety. They were arrested. They were taken down to D.C. jail and I went down and bill them out at one o'clock in the morning, so I know we know ...

BOLDUAN: But do you think there's any realistic chance that that's going to happen?

RASKIN: ... well, I know that we know how to arrest people. We do have police power in the Capitol, but that's not all. We can interpret any obstructionism at this point, one as obstruction of justice so we can go in civilly and we could try to get it prosecuted. We also can interpret it to be an implicit or tacit concession or admission of the factual allegations that they're trying to dispute. In other words ...

BOLDUAN: So you take that and then you move on with your investigation.

RASKIN: ... yes, we say, OK, we're going to take that as an admission from you. The fact that you're doing everything in your power to throw up roadblocks to Congress getting the evidence. We're not messing around. Article One is in our ...

BOLDUAN: Well, I think this is a key. I'm just excited about this, obviously. I'm just excited why I keep cutting you off, because I have so many questions, when do you get to a point that you say enough is enough, we've asked you and you now move forward with the vote regardless of you could be looking at a situation where you get very little more information? I'm just saying because if you get no more information from the administration.

RASKIN: Well, look, all of the information we've got indicts the President of extraordinary crimes against the United States, essentially there was a shakedown of a foreign government to extract or to produce political dirt on an opponent using his leverage, $391 million in military aid.


Then, that's a total sellout of our Constitution, our election, our system of government and our people and then they try to cover the whole thing up. So we're trying to get more details, so we can have a more complete

understanding. But if that's all they leave us with then we're going to act.

BOLDUAN: When is soon? Like I keep hearing soon. When is soon?

RASKIN: Well, I know the media always wants to know, but we're going to keep you on the edge of your seat because there are still remarkable things that we know are going to be coming out soon about the criminality and the corruption of this White House. The fact that Attorney General Barr is overseas looking for evidence or looking to create evidence in order to debunk the Mueller report produced by a distinguished Republican prosecutor appointed by Republican is just an amazing turn of events.

But you got to ask yourself, what is it they're looking for because the Mueller report said while there was a lot of evidence of contacts between the Trump campaign and the Russians. In fact, there wasn't enough evidence to indict for conspiracy. So what they're obviously going after is the finding that Mueller made that there was systematic and sweeping evidence of a campaign by Russia to destabilize our election.

They're still doing the bidding of Vladimir Putin. It's the most amazing thing to watch.

BOLDUAN: Well, this adding to the complexity of the very big question before the House of Representatives right now. Thank you, Congressman, for coming in. I appreciate it.

RASKIN: Thank you for having me.

BOLDUAN: OUTFRONT next, more breaking news. We're learning one potential witness in the impeachment investigation is not appearing on Capitol Hill tomorrow, but another key witness will speak. What could Democrats soon learn? Plus, one of the most powerful Republicans comes out against the President in part slamming the attacks on the whistleblower. Is the President's Republican wall starting to show any cracks? And a new poll tonight on what Republicans think the President's call to Ukraine's President. Is the President's defense working?



BOLDUAN: Breaking news, tomorrow's deposition with the former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine is off. Instead, Marie Yovanovitch will be meeting with House committees next week. But Kurt Volker, he's a special envoy to Ukraine who just resigned. He is still planning to meet behind closed doors with them on Thursday.

Volker is mentioned multiple times in the whistleblower's complaint about President Trump pushing Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden and his son, including this part which says, "Based on multiple readouts of these meetings recounted to me by various U.S. officials, Ambassadors Volker and Sandland reportedly provided advice to Ukrainian leadership about how to 'navigate' the demands that the President had made on Mr. Zelensky."

Out front now CNN Senior Political Reporter, Nia-Malika Henderson, former New Jersey Attorney General Anne Milgram and former director of the Nixon library, Tim Naftali, and former Republican Congressman Mia Love. Thanks all for being here.

Nia, what do you think this means that Volker is going to be talking? He's mentioned in this whistleblower complaint multiple times. How key could he be?

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: He's the person that Rudy Giuliani - I think you said Nia not Mia.

BOLDUAN: Yes. I did say Nia.



BOLDUAN: I'm sorry. Thank you.

HENDERSON: My whole life. And so, yes, I mean this is the person that Rudy Giuliani has been talking about when he's waiting around his phone on those text messages. He's sort of the conduit between Rudy Giuliani and folks in Ukraine and we do know that after this conversation that the President had with Zelensky, at some point, you got this Ambassador Volker going over and talking to Zelensky.

What did he say? Was he actually counseling Zelensky in terms of how to deal with the President? How much did he know about this idea of whether or not there actually was a kind of quid pro quo in terms of the money being held up? We'll see what he says.

I think if you're a Democrat and you see that he resigned, he's now not necessarily under the auspices of this administration, is that free him up to be much more candid because we now see that Pompeo is trying to put the brakes on a lot of those folks in the State Department actually cooperating with this impeachment inquiry.

BOLDUAN: And Anne, just returning to some of the breaking news we've been talking about, the fact that we now have the State Department's IG requesting a 'urgent' briefing with Hill staffers on Ukraine documents tomorrow, what can that mean?

ANNE MILGRAM, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Yes. I mean, so there's so much we don't know about it but first of all, it feels highly unusual for the Inspector General of the State Department to ask to brief this committee. Second, we know that it's related to Ukraine documents.

In addition to what Nia just mentioned about Giuliani's communications, it appears that there were a number of people from the State Department. There are five State Department employees who they've asked for testimony and documents. And so there's going to be a lot of material there, potentially. So what this says whether it's because there are issues with turning

it over or there are people who are saying not to turn it over, we have no idea, and it's bad to speculate other than to say it's highly unusual and it's going to mean something I think probably quite important for the committee.

BOLDUAN: And with so many committee staffers that are going to be there. It's a really an interesting thing, that they're all coming together for this briefing. I mean, the briefing, the timing of it is this part of it, right? Not only is Congress on recess when this request was made, but it also comes at the very same time that the Secretary of State is making clear that he's not going to comply, Tim, with at this point is basically anything that the House is requesting. I mean what kind of dynamic does this set up?

TIM NAFTALI, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Well, Kate, the Speaker Pelosi's decision to create an umbrella of six-committee impeachment inquiry changes the rules. There are things that a committee could ask for from the State Department that the State Department could refuse, that it can't refuse if it's an impeachment inquiry.

That was a precedent established by George Washington in 1796 when the House asked for documents about Jay Treaty and he responded with the advice of the third Secretary of State, Timothy Pickering, and said, "You can't get those materials, but you can if it's an impeachment inquiry."


So I'm sure the State Department lawyers understand that there is a constitutional requirement to respond to an impeachment inquiry, so that's one of the key powers that Speaker Pelosi has basically given these House Committees by saying this is officially an impeachment inquiry.

So I think what's going on here is that the State Department is basically moving in one direction and the Secretary of State is moving in another, because we have a Secretary of State who is deeply ignorant of historical and constitutional precedent.

BOLDUAN: Well, on that exact point, Congresswoman Love, you served in Congress with Mike Pompeo. You know Mike Pompeo. You see what he's doing now making clear that he's not going to comply, at least, voluntarily when it comes to these congressional investigations and requests. What do you make of his position?

LOVE: OK. So I think that Mike Pompeo is acting in a way that shows that he is not trusting the process. The fact that Speaker Pelosi didn't actually do an impeachment inquiry as a vote on the House floor, he believes that he doesn't have to comply. He believes that the proper way of actually going about this is to do a House vote, making sure that everyone knows where all of the Dem stand.

I haven't heard of any Republican in the House of Representatives that says that they would support an impeachment. But I think that they're actually using that saying, look if you really want to force the administration to comply with this, you have to make sure that you're going through what he believes is the proper way. He does not trust this process at all.

BOLDUAN: Trust it or not, Congresswoman, what is the argument for why you wouldn't want to clear the air, clear the State Department of any of these accusations if there's nothing there there and just comply?

LOVE: Look, I agree. I just think that he does not trust the process and they're actually saying if I tell you a lot of Members of the House of Representatives are saying, "Well, why not just hold a vote on the floor?" So that way if being able to go out and have teeth, when we're asking for you to comply with this information.

So I think that's one of the - look, there's this political, believe it or not, there is this political game that's being played with the American people where you've got one aspect of the House of Representatives that does not want to put people on record and you've got an administration that doesn't want to just hand over information, because they don't trust the process.

I'm just telling you what the two sides are - why they're behaving the way that they are.

HENDERSON: Yes. And I think the Congresswoman is exactly right. They are trying to put Democrats in a position of having to actually put some skin in the game with votes and they believe that maybe Nancy Pelosi doesn't actually have the 218 votes. She obviously have the 218 people say therefore an impeachment inquiry, but it's different if you have to get on the floor and actually get those folks to vote.

But, listen, I imagine that even if there was a formalized vote and a formalized impeachment inquiry, do we really think that all of sudden Pompeo is going to trust the process.

BOLDUAN: Yes, Mike Pompeo is still not going to trust the process.

HENDERSON: Right, exactly.

NAFTALI: Can I just say that Secretary Pompeo can make this argument. That's a much better argument to make if that is indeed what's going on here, that he wants there to be an official resolution which by the way is not required in the Constitution. The House Speaker can decide how to do this, but why not make that argument?

If that's really what's going on here, make that argument instead of basically stonewalling and giving the impression that you consider the whole question to be illegitimate.

BOLDUAN: We're in a fascinating moment right now. Thanks, guys. I really appreciate it. OUTFRONT for us next, President Trump is facing new pushback from one of the most powerful Republicans in the Senate over his attacks against the impeachment inquiry. Should the White House be concerned right now? Plus, Senator Lindsey Graham going to great lengths to defend President Trump. Oh, how times have changed.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): Impeachment is about restoring honor and

integrity to the office.




BOLDUAN: New tonight, a key Republican rebuking attacks by President Trump and others against the whistleblower who first leveled the allegations against the President regarding Ukraine. In a statement, Senator Chuck Grassley who is the co-founder of the Senate Whistleblower Protection Caucus said this in part, "This person appears to have followed the whistleblower protection laws and ought to be heard out and protected. When it comes to whether someone qualifies as a whistleblower, the distinctions being drawn between first-and-second-hand knowledge aren't legal ones. It's just not part of whistleblower protection law or any agency policy."

This after Trump demanded to learn the identity of the whistleblower and tried to discredit the allegations claiming they couldn't be believed because they included second-hand information. Abby Phillip is out front now for us. Abby, is the White House worried at all about the criticism coming from Republicans, very few of them like Chuck Grassley?

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kate, it's not an avalanche by any stretch of the imagination, but Chuck Grassley is certainly very notable. There have been a few Republicans who have been willing to speak up, Mitt Romney, Ben Sasse about their concerns about what's contained in the whistleblower complaint and in that transcript of the call.

But Grassley's criticism really strikes at the heart of the President's counter-argument against this whole saga, but it's coming from someone who the White House has taken criticism from before and the president has not been particularly willing to fire back on Grassley.


As you pointed out, he is very senior and comes from a politically very important state, and this is not the first time he's been willing to say to President Trump directly, he doesn't like the direction that he's going in either in his rhetoric or in his policies.

And so, I think that's one the reasons why you've seen the president really refrain from firing back at Grassley as he often likes to do when people challenge him. I mean, even if you look at the way that he responded to Mitt Romney it was quite different. The president tweeted out a video mocking Mitt Romney for losing the 2012 election.

So, the response to Grassley has been markedly different, and it remains to be seen what effect Grassley's commentary will have on other Republicans, most of whom have been very much hesitant to criticize President Trump in the wake of this whistleblower scandal. There is clearly, according to some Republicans, a lot of quiet disagreement with the president and not much has been public, but coming from Grassley, I think, this is a different moment here for President Trump.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN HOST: It's a different ball game and will the response be different?

Thank you, Abby. It's great to see you.

Everyone is back with me.

Nia-Malika Henderson, just kind of bouncing off of Abby's point, I mean, what does Grassley's statement signify to you? What effect do you think it has?

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: Yes, the question here, does it have an effect on not only the president, probably doubtful because the president is his own person and he seems to want to demonize this whistleblower and suggest that he's going to out him and needs to challenge him.

I think the question is does it make a difference with people like Lindsey Graham, people like Tim Scott, people on the House side who have been criticizing this whistleblower, essentially saying, oh, it's hearsay and first, if you don't have first-hand knowledge or if you have second or third-hand knowledge, it does not really count as a whistleblower. This was the kind of critique you've heard from Republicans.

So, here is Grassley, a senior statesman, a real Republican. You know, he was a Republican along before Donald Trump was a Republican and representing sort of that sober wing of the Republican Party. So, we'll see if it has a quieting effect among the Republicans out there who were pushing this talking point about the whistleblower and trying to undermine him and discredit him or her, whoever it is.

BURNETT: Him or her. The first line of defense that they line up.

Congresswoman, do you agree with Grassley? What do you think?

MIA LOVE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I absolutely agree with him. I mean, he's doing his job. He is saying, look, if anybody else wants to come forward and they have important information, they have to be protected.

And so, you know, that gives Grassley quite a bit of credibility. I do find it interesting that the president didn't attack Grassley the same way he attacked so many other people who have come up and just asked the question --

BURNETT: And they haven't checked Twitter in two minutes and still --


LOVE: -- is this conversation was inappropriate, right? So, to say that's always really interesting, this is a president who requires 100 percent loyalty and if you come after him, you got -- you better make sure that it's worth it. So, it's probably why you hear so many people they're carefully picking their words. They're choosing very carefully.

And I think Senator Grassley is, like, I've been here for a long time and I know exactly what I'm doing and this is what's right and we have to protect our whistleblowers, because if we blow up the program, then that means that other whistleblowers in the future aren't going to come forward with important information.

BOLDUAN: Well, and it's fascinating that Grassley is kind of on an island on himself on this one right now, because that's not an outrageous position to be taking. But kind of --

LOVE: Right.

BOLDUAN: -- what we've alluded to, Anne, how other Republicans have responded quite differently to what's played out. If I have to generalize here, it falls into basically two camps and how they've reacted so far. And it's one, the complaint is based on hearsay, so, the whistle-blower -- so it can't be believed.

Two, the rules of what can be reported as a whistleblower complaint were just changed to accommodate this whistleblower, with allegations coming at least in part secondhand. The intelligence community's I.G. is the one who actually spoke up about this and responded and essentially said that is wrong.


BOLDUAN: Those points that you're making are absolutely wrong. Why are they so focused on this hearsay argument, I wonder?

MILGRAM: Right. Well, you're right about the inspector general who said the rules haven't been changed and they've been the same rules for over a year and that's a really important point. The hearsay argument, because hearsay is a complicated thing, we teach it in law school. A lot of people -- you know, we sit with law students, they don't even understand what it is. It relates to courts and this isn't even a court.

So, the idea that hearsay applies here or is the issue here is really for lawyers. It's absurd, frankly, but it sort of sounds like oh, I've heard of that, hearsay is a statement that somebody else makes. Now, it's very important to know that all of us make comments all of the time to law enforcement, the police act on 911 calls on information that are given.

[19:35:02] And you can use that type of second-hand information to start an investigation.

But what's really important here is that the whistle-blower said, I have both first hand and second-hand information.

BOLDUAN: Right. MILGRAM: Number one.

Number two, you have the source of the information Donald Trump not only corroborating it publicly, but we also have the memorandum of the tape. And so, it really is.

And then, lastly, you have a lot of corroboration for what the whistle-blower has said. So, it really is an absurd argument. But again, it's kind of a smoke screen that on its face, until you push through it, people could say, oh, hearsay, I've heard of that. Maybe that's not legal.

BOLDUAN: In a world where the sound bite matters, that's at least where they are today.

But the I.G. in that rare statement coming out to say that is wrong was a really remarkable thing for me to see.

Leading on your historical perspective for a second, we've seen some criticism from other Republicans like Senators Romney and Ben Sasse, but we are nowhere near a tipping point and no one should pretend that the Senate or Republicans are there at all.

Why not historically speaking? What does the Nixon model teach folks here today?

TIM NAFTALI, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Well, first of all, the Nixon process was very different. Most of the investigation had happened and a lot of it was public, so that the public knew about the enemy's list, the public knew that there was a taping system, the public knew that there was an insider named John Dean who said the president was a part of the cover-up. It was a Saturday night massacre that was a public event that got Democrats and Republicans say there was an inquiry.

So, there was a lot in the air already, whereas now, the investigation is just starting. And so, what I expect to see is serious Republicans who are institutionalists will say things as Marco Rubio did which is, I'm going to wait for the facts. That's what you want to have happened, and the facts start coming out and as Anne mentioned, we have some corroborating evidence, but there's more to come.

I'm not suggesting where this is going, but where every day, there's just a little bit more information. So, I suspect that there won't be -- first of all, tipping point in the Nixon case came after the impeachment articles were passed. The real heroes in terms of the process, the profiles in courage were not the leaders of the Republican Party. There were Republicans in swing districts and who said I've seen the evidence the president is guilty.

So I'm not even expecting leaders of the Republican Party to turn. I'm expecting rank and file Republicans if the evidence is right to turn and be constitutional and not partisan.

BOLDUAN: That's fascinating.

Guys, thanks so much. I really appreciate it.

OUTFRONT next, a new sign that Trump's spin about his controversial phone call with Ukraine's president is working.

Plus, the new 2020 fundraising numbers are out. Who's on top? What does it mean? And what does it mean for the race going forward?



BOLDUAN: Tonight, a new poll showing only 40 percent of Republicans believe President Trump talked to the Ukrainian president about investigating Joe Biden. The problem, this is something that the president himself has already admitted. Look no further than the call transcript that was released and also the president in his own words.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: All of the corruption taking place, it's largely to the fact that we don't want our people like Vice President Biden and his son creating to the corruption already in the Ukraine.


BOLDUAN: OUTFRONT now, CNN political commentator Joe Lockhart. He, of course, was President Clinton's secretary during his impeachment.

Thanks for being here, Joe.


BOLDUAN: Forty percent of the Republicans in this Monmouth poll, I mean, it's -- think basic reality isn't reality when you're looking at. I mean, this is a fact that President Trump brought this up to -- brought this up in the call, and I think this is important, this poll number is important because it says a lot about what folks are listening to.


BOLDUAN: Or taking in when it comes to the -- when it comes to impeachment.

What do you think this actually means, though, that people don't want to hear it? People -- that it's too complicated or too early on? What do you think?

LOCKHART: It's a little of those things. I think, mostly, it's the polarization of media, which is, you know, if you sit and watch --

BOLDUAN: You believe only your news source.

LOCKHART: You want to believe your news source, and if you sit and watch between channels, you would think you're in between planets, particularly with the way Fox News presents whatever Donald Trump wants them to present, whatever the reality is.

This one, though, is not that hard to understand and we're very early in the process, so that's why I think there is some ignorance out there about the underlying facts, but they're not hard to understand, and that's a problem for Trump because me has admitted this. He has released documents and evidence admitting, corroborating his own admission.

BOLDUAN: I also think this is also bad -- this is also bad for Democrats, to see numbers like this because if you can't lay out the case, you can't convince people what happened, and you can't explain to people what happened and --

LOCKHART: I think that goes to how early in the process this is. And one of the problems with the Trump and White House defense is it's not sustainable, because when you -- when he is basically saying this was a perfect call, a perfect call.


LOCKHART: And then more and more information comes out that undercuts him every day, you've seen it. The hearsay argument now gone. The -- this is just a rogue whistleblower now, you know, gone.

They would be much better if they'd just come out earlier and said, you know, you know how the president is. You know, he doesn't -- he doesn't stand on diplomatic norms. He had a couple of things he wanted to talk about and in no way did he imply he was threatening them.

But they didn't do that. He went to -- I did nothing wrong, this was perfect, I'm perfect. And that's not sustainable.

BOLDUAN: I do want to ask you because it has gotten a lot of play today and in the past couple of days, the Republican response to taking on the whistleblower and defending the president, and, of course, you look back at the past to inform the present and the future. When you look back at Clinton impeachment you have Republican Lindsey Graham who's strongly defended -- who is strongly defending President Trump right now, but a moment that a lot of folks are returning to are the days in 1999 with Clinton's impeachment proceedings.



BOLDUAN: Listen to this.


THEN-REP. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): You don't even have to be convicted of a crime to lose your job in this constitutional republic because impeachment is not about punishment. Impeachment is about cleansing the office. Impeachment is about restoring honor and integrity to the office. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: Different time, different process, different place. What do you think in living through that process, what do you think when you hear that in today's light?

LOCKHART: Well, I didn't believe he was being sincere then and I don't believe he's being sincere now. Lindsey Graham has been very clear. He's talked on the record in a "New York Times" story about the reason he defends Trump the way he is and he has to be re-elected and in South Carolina, it's the only way.

BOLDUAN: It is political survival and it does say something about his character.

LOCKHART: These are serious issues neither sides should play politics with. But you have to --

BOLDUAN: Both sides are playing politics. That's -- he's political. That's the problem. You know, there's --

LOCKHART: You know, listen, I think -- again, it is a political issue, but if you compare Jim Jordan and Lindsey Graham to how Nancy Pelosi has conducted herself, holding back for months and months and months, under withering criticism from Democrats about why aren't you going further, I think the Democrats had the upper hand about being more serious about the issue.

BOLDUAN: I mean, is this early days or a Democrat is about to move soon as Democrats are saying and I'm not sure where we are, but we are where we are.

Thanks, Joe. It's good to see you.

OUTFRONT next, Sanders, Buttigieg and Harris all bringing in big bucks. What do their new fundraising totals mean for their path forward now?

And Jeanne Moos on the mouse in the White House.



BOLDUAN: Tonight, 2020 hopefuls releasing -- beginning to release the third yup fun raising total. So far, Bernie Sanders is on top. He raised more than $25 million.

Pete Buttigieg, he's reporting he raised $19 million. Kamala Harris $11.6 million, and Cory Booker with $6 million.

The Trump campaign meanwhile announced they raised $125 million in the combined fundraising with the RNC. That is serious cash.

OUTFRONT now, what does it all mean? Patrick Healy is here. He's a politics editor with "The New York Times." Patrick, let's start with -- talking about the Democrats first. What

do these fundraising numbers -- what do they mean for the Democratic candidates at this point in the race?

PATRICK HEALY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Right, it shows that the ideological left which is giving heavily to Bernie Sanders and to Elizabeth Warren is still where the money energy of the race really is. They have now basically helped Bernie Sanders come back from a few weeks where he seemed like -- he looked like he was fading in the polls, fading in the story line, where Elizabeth Warren was very much rising.

And Bernie Sanders has come forward with a big number. Tonight, he's bought a $1 million two-week ad run in Iowa. He wants very much to project that he is in this, that he sees this as a three-way fight.

But it really is the left the where the money coming from. The two big unknowns, how big is Warren's number going to be. It could be very much the top of the field, and then how rough might things be for Joe Biden? Is it possible that Joe Biden comes in fourth on this list behind Warren and Sanders and Pete Buttigieg? It's possible. His team is holding this close to the vest.

BOLDUAN: Yes, regardless, it means there is a -- there is a handful of folks now that have staying power because of the cash. And then you have President Trump's numbers. And what he's raised -- what he has raised along with the RNC. He -- his campaign has now twice as much on hand than Obama did at this point in 2011.

What does it mean for any Democrat that's the nominee, that takes him on in the general?

HEALY: This is an enormous war chest. I mean, you combine the amount of money that President Trump is going to be able to spend on television, on Facebook ads, all over social media, with the power of his Twitter account, which he has shown an ability to frame the message to frame his opponents, he is -- he is positioned to be very strong general election nominee while the Democrats are fighting it out.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely. Good to see you, Patrick.

HEALY: Good to see you.

BOLDUAN: It's a lot of money.

OUTFRONT next, forget about the witch hunt. Jeanne Moos on the mouse hunt that consumed the White House.



BOLDUAN: A mouse in the White House, and more.

Here is Jeanne Moos. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEANNE MOOS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A runaway mouse, a hunk of cheese and out of control catering cart. It's almost enough to take your mind off impeachment.


MOOS: The mouse was in the White House. NBC correspondent Peter Alexander tweeted, a mouse literally fell out of the ceiling in our White House booth and landed on my lap. The press gave chase.

The rodent ended up in the briefing room. Inspiring a tweeted cartoon showing a cornered rodent and endless jokes about the rats literally jumping ship. It's the whistle-blower, it's prefers to remain anony- mouse.

Someone tried to trap at planning gaffer tapes sticky side up. Maybe they should have tried cheese, like a wedge of parmesan offered by a journalist from a satirical show who crashed the photo-op between Secretary of State Pompeo and Italy's prime minister.

She asked Pompeo to give it to President Trump before being hustled away. The stunt meant to protest possible tariffs on Italian food products, Pompeo patted his belly. Without cheese as bait, the press gave up the chase back at the White House.

(on camera): But the mouse wasn't the only thing running amok this news cycle.

(voice-over): Like a rodent running in circles, this catering cart at Chicago's O'Hare spun wildly, a case of water has slipped on at the gas pedal.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's going to hit the airplane. Here it goes.

MOOS: But to the rescue, an American Airlines team member rammed the cart with a vehicle used to push airplanes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's how you do it.

MOOS: That's how the ramp instructor did it. But someone spun the rescue into a political meme labeling the out of control cart as the Trump administration with Nancy Pelosi and Republicans looking on helplessly.

Boom, here comes the whistle-blower.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's how you do it.

MOOS: Nothing mousey about this whistleblower.

Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.


BURNETT: Important note here, is the mouse is still running around the White House. Just saying.

Thanks so much for joining us, everybody.

"AC360" starts right now.