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More Controversial Conversations Of President Trump Coming Out; China Wants To Keep Distance From U.S. Messy Politics; U.S. Ambassador To Ukraine Ousted; Trump Going For Broke On Biden Conspiracy Theories; Interview With Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Presidential Candidate About President Trump's Public Comment On Asking Two Countries For Help Investigating His Political Opponents; President Trump Now Says Both China And Ukraine Should Investigate Bidens. Aired 10-11p ET
Aired October 3, 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: Thank you for watching tonight. "CNN TONIGHT" with D. Lemon starts right now.
DON LEMON, CNN HOST: I don't know how to feel about the vaping thing because I know that it has helped a lot of people get off cigarettes, right? Which we know are deadly.
CUOMO: No question. And cigarettes --
LEMON: And they haven't been around a long time.
CUOMO: -- aren't banned. So why should vaping be banned? The other side of it is the idea of saying it's -- not you, but the argument that it is safer than smoking, no. It is less bad perhaps but --
LEMON: Right. At least --
LEMON: Because they haven't been around -- my thing is they haven't been around long enough. I don't know if some of these symptoms are from -- are residual effects from people who were actually smokers, right, or if it started before they were vaping. I don't know.
Listen, you have to ask Dr. Gupta that. But I'm a little bit concerned about banning something because there's a lot of hype around it. I know that people have died and they say it's from that. I feel awful for that --
CUOMO: Tons of people die from smoking every year. We have to ban that.
LEMON: -- thousands of people died from smoking. I think we need a lot more research before we go into that.
CUOMO: Now what I didn't like and why I had the Juul industry guy here was the marketing to the kids. I mean, this has been aggressively marketed to kids.
CUOMO: I mean, listen, this isn't something I'm reading about. I'm living it.
CUOMO: OK? I have a teenager. These kids vape in a big way and they vape in a way that we didn't smoke. OK?
CUOMO: I had problems with smoking for a lot of my life. But they vape 24/7. It's a different kind of habit --
CUOMO: -- Than smoking was. So now you have these injuries. You've got to look at it. What was your take on today?
LEMON: Boy. There's so much. I'm going to talk about this. You know, I call it an avalanche of news, and I'll tell you about that in a minute. But I think it is -- it's getting to a point -- and I think we need to simplify it for people because it's very simple what happened, if you're asking a foreign country to help you with an election with a political rival. It's just as simple as that.
Then you've got diplomats who are having conversations and ambassadors who are having conversations and they're asking to put information in writing, the so-called -- which would be a quid pro quo. You do this, I'll do that.
You have all of this information. Then you have Volker, another diplomat, another envoy who has resigned and he's testifying. I mean, there's so much going on. But then you have the right-wing conspiracy machine out there pushing -- telling people that they shouldn't believe what they read and what they hear and what they see. It's just we're in -- we're off into a whole different universe. I don't understand it.
CUOMO: yes. I mean, look, it's interesting. One of the Congress members today was saying please read the call, please read the call. You should read the call. It will take you five minutes.
And it's impossible I believe if you're not looking at it through a partisan lens to think that this was all OK.
LEMON: Yes. CUOMO: Here's the problem. I think he's got two strikes on him, the president right now, but he's not out. The first strike is I just care about corruption, nobody's going to believe that. The second one is, well, Biden is just as bad.
On the facts of it the worst-case scenario for Biden is he did the same thing this president did. So, if one of them has to go they both have to go. But the third strike that he still has on his side is, is it bad enough to warrant impeachment if you can't identify a specific crime? I'm not saying you have to under the Constitution.
But to make it compelling to the American people, Clinton lied, Nixon was involved in a burglary, Andrew Johnson fired somebody illegally. Is there something that the American people will need --
LEMON: I think it's already there, though, Chris, which is there. I think it's there. You're getting -- you're trying to get a country, a political adversary -- you're getting another country involved in our election. You're asking them to get involved in the election against a political rival.
LEMON: I think it's that -- it's as simple as that. We keep looking for more information.
CUOMO: Very wrong.
LEMON: Any other -- any other president had done this, the impeachment proceedings would have been five years ago before they even became president, and we're sitting here pretending that there has to be some different bar for this president in order to prove that he did something that was against what he should be doing in office.
CUOMO: I'm not saying -- I'm not saying that it's not --
LEMON: That was against his oath of office.
CUOMO: -- or I'm not saying that it's not wrong. It is obviously wrong. It's almost obviously -- I'll say almost because I want to see the full case made. An abuse of power. But that is not a crime that people are familiar --
LEMON: Did you read the phone call?
CUOMO: Of course. But I am not -- people aren't familiar with abuse of power as a crime. They see it as an idea of wrongdoing. With Clinton you had perjury, you know, lying under oath. With Nixon you had burglary. People look to those kinds of things for the significance of this level of action. That's all I'm saying. LEMON: Well --
CUOMO: And I think it's a political hurdle for these Democrats to deal with.
LEMON: This is collaboration. So, I think it's just as bad if not worse --
CUOMO: You mean it's collusion.
LEMON: Yes. Well, there you go.
CUOMO: Collusion. Collaboration. That's what we do on the dance floor.
LEMON: Well, that's what you do. I've got to go. As I said, we've got a lot to get to.
CUOMO: Get after it.
LEMON: I'll see you.
This is CNN TONIGHT. I'm Don Lemon.
And as I said, there has been an avalanche of news on the impeachment inquiry with more breaking news. And it's all coming fast. It's coming furious. I know that your head is spinning right now. We're going to walk you through all of it in the next two hours.
And listen, if I lose you, right? If you think you're not understanding, trust me, I'm going to take you through it in the next two hours and we're going to go through with people and with experts so you can understand and simplify for you.
OK. So, I want to start with this. CNN has learned that there is another phone call, OK? Another one between the president and a world leader. I'm not talking about the one that we've been talking about last week or all this week about Trump and the Ukraine.
This one is a call with the Chinese president. And like the transcript of the Ukraine call it was buried on that same highly secure system. What was discussed? The political prospects of Joe Biden and also Elizabeth Warren. So, we're going to bring you more on that. Stay tuned for that.
And then there's this. After nine hours of closed-door testimony today CNN is learning that Kurt Volker, Kurt Volker is the former special envoy for Ukraine, the one who abruptly quit last week.
He says that he learned Ukraine's leaders leaned on them to stay out of U.S. politics after that infamous phone call. Right? He said stay out of U.S. politics after that call. A warning they apparently didn't heed.
Volker also saying that Ukraine's government had a lot of questions about why American military aid was being held up and he didn't have any good answers for it. He also said today that Ukraine was upset about why a meeting with the president was put on hold. I know that's a lot. We'll get to it.
There's more, though, on what Volker told Congress. The Washington Post is reporting that he says that he warned Rudy Giuliani that he shouldn't trust the information that he was getting from Ukrainians about Joe Biden and his son. Yet, the conspiracy theories continue on with Giuliani, the president and the president's apologists.
A statement was drafted for Ukraine's president in August. A statement that would have committed Ukraine to investigating President Trump's political rivals. The administration wanted that commitment in writing.
And don't forget, at that time they were still withholding military aid Ukraine wanted so badly. Draft a letter. Still holding the aid that Ukraine wanted. The javelins they wanted, but the president wanted them to do him a favor, though, right?
So now we know they wanted that pledge in writing, that the U.S. would get that favor. All right?
And then there's this. ABC News is reporting that in a series of texts just last month the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, his name is Bill Taylor, writes to other American diplomats, quote, I think it's "crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign."
In a later text Gordon Sondland, a Trump appointee and a major donor, says there's no quid pro quo but let's take this offline, saying, I suggest we stop the back and forth by text. Which makes you wonder. Why they wanted to make sure that the rest of the conversation was not in writing. OK.
There's also this. Here's what "The Wall Street Journal" is reporting tonight. That President Trump himself ordered ambassador Maria -- Marie Yovanovitch removed from her post in Ukraine months early. That's after Rudy Giuliani without any evidence accused her of trying to undermine the president in blocking the investigation of Biden that he wanted.
"The Journal" reports that a source says that State Department officials were told that removing the ambassador was a priority for the president, who today claimed he had no idea who removed her.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I heard very bad things about her. And I don't know if I recalled her or somebody recalled her but I heard very, very bad things about her for a long period of time. Not good.
(END VIDEO CLIP) LEMON: Well, this is happening as we are learning more tonight about the Ukraine call that set all of this off. This is the original one that started this whole impeachment inquiry, put it into motion, into process.
Sources telling CNN that Vice President Mike Pence was told about the call the day after it happened. Other sources say he got a transcript in his briefing book but one says he may or may not have read it.
And there's news tonight on another whistleblower complaint, another one. This one from an IRS official who says that he was told at least one Treasury Department political appointee tried to improperly interfere with the annual audit of either the president's or the vice president's tax returns.
That's coming from "The Washington Post" which reports that congressional Democrats were alarmed and flagged the complaint to a federal judge.
And in the face of all of this, of all of this, and just one day after an epic rage-fueled meltdown that played out on live TV, the president taking it to the next level today, standing on the White House lawn and openly calling for the very thing that Congress is investigating as an abuse of power, openly leaning on Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden and his son.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, what exactly did you hope Zelensky would do about the Bidens after your phone call exactly?
TRUMP: Well, I would think that if they were honest about it that start a major investigation into the Bidens. It's a very simple answer. They should investigate the Bidens.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: OK. So, for any of you doubters, any of you Trump defenders out there trying to argue that the president didn't pressure Ukraine for an investigation on that infamous call, he's making it pretty easy to understand this time. He's saying it right out loud. And then in the next breath doing it again.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: And by the way, likewise, China should start an investigation into the Bidens. Because what happened to China is just about as bad as what happened with -- with Ukraine.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: So, the president is saving the trouble there, the whistleblower the trouble there and telling everybody exactly what he wants. He wants China to investigate the Bidens too. Believe it or not, there's more. Just one minute before this
president's -- this president openly urged both Ukraine and China to investigate the Bidens, he said this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I have a lot of options on China. But if they don't do what we want, we have tremendous -- tremendous power.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Can we play that again? When you say doesn't want a favor -- roll it again. This is what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I have a lot of options on China. But if they don't do what we want, we have tremendous -- tremendous power.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Coincidence? I'll leave that up to you to decide. But let's remember the president is waging a trade war on China and simultaneously telling China they should investigate the former vice president. A man he considers his chief political enemy. And a man we now know he discussed with China's president on that phone call in June.
And while there's been no official response from China, it sure seems that they don't want to touch any of this with a 10-foot pole. One Chinese diplomat telling CNN, quote, "we do not want to get in the middle of U.S. politics." I'll bet they don't.
But just listen to what Judge Andrew Napolitano of Fox News has to say about all this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANDREW NAPOLITANO, FOX NEWS SENIOR JUDICIAL ANALYST: Soliciting, asking for aid in a domestic political campaign, whether the aid is delivered or not, is a criminal event. That's clear in the statute. Whether the aid is delivered or not, asking for it is impermissible.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: And I want to bring in now CNN's Kaitlan Collins with more on a night of one big story after another. Kaitlan, good evening to you. We have three major breaking news stories tonight. So, let's go through them. First, another conversation put on that secret server and it involves President Trump and the Chinese president.
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, today you heard on the president -- you heard the president say he thinks China should open that investigation into the Bidens. And while he said he hadn't spoken with the president of China about it yet he did leave open that possibility. But Don, we're now learning that in a phone call over the summer with
President Xi between him and President Trump President Trump did bring up Joe Biden, talking about his political chances in the 2020 election and also talking about Elizabeth Warren and how she was doing in the polls.
That's a call that we are now being told by sources was also stored in this highly secure server, a different server than where these transcripts of calls with heads of state are typically stored. It's the same place that call with the president of the Ukraine was put.
So, it's raising questions about why staffers thought that that transcript also needed to be moved because that's of course a place where fewer people can see it.
LEMON: Kaitlan, so talk to me about it. We have this new reporting, CNN reporting that's just come out a few minutes ago during the open to the show about what really happened with that statement that was drafted to pledge -- to clean up corruption. There are conflicting reports about this tonight.
LEMON: Please clarify for us.
COLLINS: Yes. So basically, what we -- both reports agree on, there is a statement coming out that essentially was drafted during these negotiations with Ukrainians that would have committed Ukraine to further investigating corruption. That's something you've heard from the White House. They continue to push. The question is who is it that wrote this statement?
Because this is a statement that would have committed the Ukrainians to not only investigating that energy board that Hunter Biden sat on but also investigating what the White House says and what the president and his allies have pushed as Ukraine interference in the 2016 election.
That theory that President Trump has been pushing essentially saying that it was the Ukrainians who interfered in the election over the Russians, something that we should note President Trump's first homeland security adviser Tom Bossert said is a conspiracy theory that Rudy Giuliani has continued to push to the president.
Now, the conflicting reports are about who wrote this. Because CNN reporting shows that it was Ukrainian officials who actually played a role in drafting that statement because they wanted to prove that they were serious about corruption. This new administration in Ukraine.
"The New York Times" is reporting that it was two U.S. envoys who played a role in drafting that statement, drafting that language. So that's going to be something to look for over the next few days as we're getting these reports over exactly who played what role in all of this and why. LEMON: OK. So again, the source is saying Ukrainians, not U.S.
diplomats, wrote an initial statement about investigators. A source familiar with the matter tells CNN that the Ukrainian government wrote the initial statement for public release committing to pursue investigations of corruption.
So that's the information that Kaitlan just gave us. Kaitlan, also, I understand that you're also learning some other things that Vice President Pence knew about the Trump-Zelensky call the day after it happened, he was provided a transcript. I think the question is did he read it or not.
COLLINS: There have been a lot of questions about his role in this entire scandal because of course he was the one who met with Ukrainian President Zelensky back in Warsaw when President Trump couldn't go.
Now, we're learning that he wasn't on that July call where Trump pushed Zelensky to open that investigation into the Bidens. But we are being told that he did have a transcript of that call in his possession.
He was briefed on what happened during that call, though it's not clear if he was specifically told about the Biden aspect of it which does raise questions because of course that is one of the most noteworthy aspects of that phone call.
And the question is whether or not Vice President Pence read that transcript of that call. Typically, you would expect that he would, especially given the fact that he was sent at the last minute to go on that trip in President Trump's place to meet with the Ukrainian president as that debate was raging inside the administration over what they were going to do with that military aid money.
But of course, it's coming as you're seeing the vice president speak out today, going all in defending the president and saying yes, he does think that Joe Biden should be investigated.
LEMON: Kaitlan Collins with the avalanche of breaking news. Thank you, Kaitlan. I appreciate it. As I said, there is an avalanche of news tonight on the impeachment inquiry.
The president leaning on Ukraine and China, doing it out loud right out in the open, trying to get them to investigate Joe Biden.
LEMON: So, the breaking news is coming fast and furious tonight in the impeachment inquiry including a CNN exclusive. News that President Trump urged China's president in a June phone call to investigate Joe Biden and his son.
Let's bring in now Vivian Salama, the White House reporter for the Wall Street Journal and also Michael Isikoff, chief investigative correspondent for Yahoo News who's also the author of "Russian Roulette: The Inside Story of Putin's War on America and the Election of Donald Trump." Lots to get to. Good evening to both of you. I appreciate you joining.
Michael, first CNN's reporting that the president raised Biden in his June phone call with Xi Jinping. Is this why he urged China to investigate the Bidens today?
MICHAEL ISIKOFF, CHIEF INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT, YAHOO NEWS: Well, look, you know, great reporting but I want to see the transcript just as we saw this transcript of the phone call with Zelensky. You know, to fully evaluate this you need to see exactly what was said.
But, you know, the president publicly said this today at the White House, that China should investigate. It's hard to imagine that --
LEMON: So, do you need to really see a transcript --
ISIKOFF: -- is going to be worse than what he publicly said today.
LEMON: OK. So, you just made the point. He said it in public. So, what's the need for the transcript, I guess, you know?
ISIKOFF: Well, if you want to evaluate the phone call you want to know to what --
ISIKOFF -- you know, was there some sort of private quid pro quo he was discussing or suggested? There are other elements that CNN reporting on the phone call that are troubling including the idea that he wasn't going to talk about the Hong Kong protests if the Chinese would play ball on tariffs.
That's clearly giving up, you know, America's soapbox on human rights, something we've stood for, for generations now. And that should be troubling as well.
LEMON: Yes. It is troubling. And we're going to discuss. You're moving ahead in the workbook here, as my fifth-grade teacher used to tell me.
So, listen, Vivian, you're reporting that President Trump ordered the removal Of the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine after complaints from Giuliani and others. This is what the president said about the former ambassador today. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I heard very bad things about her. And I don't know if I recalled her or somebody recalled her but I heard very, very bad things about her for a long period of time. Not good.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: He was talking about Marie Yovanovitch. He heard bad things from Giuliani. Trump made the call to ax her, in part because she wasn't cooperating enough with wanting to investigate the Bidens. Correct?
VIVIAN SALAMA, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: So, it was twofold. And a lot of it is essentially based on conspiracy theories and other, you know, unsubstantiated claims that she somehow was supporting Biden. Also, on the Ukrainian side there was a lot of suspicion that she may have been favoring the previous president, Poroshenko, because essentially that was the government that was supported by the Obama administration.
And so, there were a number of factors that were sort of building against her by her critics. And for months Giuliani had taken notice of this and felt that she may essentially be someone that was not acting in the interests of the Trump administration in Ukraine.
And so, he had been asking around about her and trying to see what he could do. Toward the spring, this spring, the campaign against her had started to really build and intensify where even you had people like Don Jr., the president's son, tweeting negative comments about her and a number of reports essentially saying that she was going around saying -- criticizing the president in closed circles out in Ukraine and to State Department officials.
And so, it was decided and it was reported to the State Department that essentially she had to be removed from her post. And in May she was recalled. It was around the time that Zelensky came into power, just falling short of the three years that an ambassador typically serves.
And so, what we know is at the time she had actually tried to ask the State Department for help and the State Department told her we can't protect you, we can't help you against these attacks and you're basically on your own.
LEMON: Interesting. Interesting. Michael, we have a little bit of time left. So, I want to go through this. This is from ABC News. They got a hold of these group text messages this year with Congress. The timeline is important here because according to the reporting on September 9th the same date the intel community I.G. sent the House intel committee a letter about the existence a whistleblower report there was this exchange.
Trump's top diplomat to Ukraine Bill Taylor wrote to a group of American diplomats and here's the quote here. It says, "I think it is crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign."
So, Gordon Sondland, the U.S. Ambassador to the E.U., a man who donated a million dollars to President Trump's inauguration, responded writing, "Bill, I believe you are correct about President Trump's -- incorrect about President Trump's intentions. The president has been crystal clear, no quid pro quos of any kind. The president is trying to evaluate whether Ukraine is truly going to adopt the transparency and the reforms that President Zelensky promised during his campaign."
Sondland then suggested that they take the conversation offline. The question will be was he covering up? Why did he want to take it offline?
ISIKOFF: Absolutely. That's a legend question. He's the political appointee here. But I should point out that there's more to these text messages -- and by the way, we don't know that we've seen the full universe of text messages.
But on August 15th Volker, the -- Ambassador Volker, who testified behind closed doors today and Ambassador Sondland. you know, draft a text message saying want to know our status, or Volker to Sondland saying want to know our status asking them to investigate, this is the Ukrainians, to do the investigation of the 2016 election and Burisma holdings.
That implicates Volker in this. That, you know, he is carrying out the policy of the president in pushing the Ukrainians to do this.
Now, we don't know exactly what Volker said today. If you talk to members who were in there, it's all over the map. But -- and my understanding from sources I've talked to, so he sort of walked the line and he did not dime out the president, he expressed concerns about Giuliani but he did not say he was forced to do something by the president.
One Democratic source told me he was not a killer witness for the Democrats, which is going to be significant because there's going to have to be public hearings about all this and they need, the Democrats need a dramatic witness who can testify in public about this policy and it doesn't sound like Volker is the one to do it.
LEMON: Michael, Vivian, thank you both. I appreciate it. We'll be right back.
LEMON: The president is clearly feeling the pressure from the impeachment inquiry, but one source says Trump is going for broke on his discredited Biden conspiracy theories. Here to discuss, Anthony Scaramucci. Anthony, good evening.
ANTHONY SCARAMUCCI, DIRECTOR/MANAGING PARTNER, SKY BRIDGE CAPITAL: It's good to be back.
LEMON: So tonight let's start with this. A source close to the White House, as I said, says the president is going for broke.
LEMON: What do you make of his strategy, his demeanor, his behavior? Because this is only one week into this inquiry. SCARAMUCCI: Well, I mean, there's a little bit of sadness for the
country. I mean, when the Reuters reporters asked him a very simple question, what did you want to get out of the phone call and he goes up like a Saturn 5 Rocket and he's doing it on international news, there's a little bit of sadness for the country, but if you're asking about the strategy of doubling and tripling down, I mean, that is the president's strategy.
And so today by declaring and calling for China to investigate his political adversary, that is full-blown Trumpian gaslighting. He's trying to do that in the open to sort of anesthetize everybody to it. And so what I'm concerned about is, you know, we predicted the meltdown, we predicted the -- literally the nervous breakdown that the president's having, but what I'm shocked by is that there are 53 Senators that really haven't come out and spoken out.
I'm just shocked. I would love the people that do the reporting to ask the questions of each of these 53 Republican Senators, just excuse me, are you supporting the president's call for the Chinese to investigate his political adversary? And get a call back or get a comment from one of these guys as to what it is. You know, and the president is an ironic guy because he is for lower taxes, but he's put the highest imposition of taxes through with this tariff. It's a punitive tariff on lower and middle-class people. He's for border security, but not when it comes to election meddling and election interference. He doesn't know border security for that.
LEMON: OK, so, let me ask you this, because you said --
SCARAMUCCI: It's sort of very odd to me that no one's speaking out about it.
LEMON: You said -- and you're right. You said that this was gaslighting, right? You said, that this is typical, but if you read the transcript, which is not a verbatim transcript, it's not word for word, if you read that from the president --
LEMON: -- for him to say there's nothing there. That is gaslighting. For his supporters to say that there's nothing there -- all you have to do is read the transcript.
SCARAMUCCI: How about just reading the transcript of what he said in front of the White House press corps today? You can't say that is gaslighting. That is a literal frontal assault on the constitution, but the way he's doing it and his style of doubling and tripling down like this, it's got everybody on their back feet.
And also I really do believe that a guy like Mitch McConnell, who's a very smart guy, he's probably looking at this thing and saying, OK, whether -- I'm afraid of a schism in the party. You know, Trump's a nihilist. If it's not going Trump's way, he's already said that he's after Pence, he wants to velcro Pence to his downfall. And if it doesn't go his way there's a potentiality that he could
schism the party. That is why I think the Republicans are super worried about it, but, you know, my message to Republicans is come on, he is a bully. I mean, most bullies will let you push him around a little bit, he is a paper tiger. He'll fall down.
LEMON: I know it doesn't matter to them because as you said -- basically no one is saying anything about this behavior about openly calling for someone to (inaudible).
SCARAMUCCI: For me it's reprehensible and it's actually shocking. In fact, James Madison's got to be rolling in his grave because James Madison is looking at these guys and saying what are you guys doing? OK? You're supposed to be patriots. OK? We fought a war for this type of freedom. All 55 of us could have been war criminals in Great Britain evolution.
LEMON: But it appears that their loyalty to the president and not the constitution.
SCARAMUCCI: I think their loyalty maybe to themselves. May be self- preservation.
LEMON: OK, so listen, 11,000 words article in the Atlantic.
LEMON: OK, this was attorney George Conway declaring the president unfit for office. And he says, you don't need to be a mental health professional to see that something is very seriously off with Trump particularly after nearly three years of watching his erratic and abnormal behavior in the White House. Do you agree with that?
SCARAMUCCI: Not only do I agree with that, I think the thing is unbelievably comprehensive. And I think he makes the point early in the article with the Redskins quarterback. If you seeing a bone break, you don't have to be an orthopedic surgeon.
So, something clearly wrong with the president, somebody should intervene on his behalf. Somebody actually cares about him should intervene on his behalf, but since nobody's intervening on his behalf, we need to good citizens of the United States need to intervene on behalf of the country and the citizens of the world. And so, it's a very dangerous situation with a guy like this.
LEMON: You can see with your own eyes because -- this is what they said, he's gotten worse under pressure of impeachment. Look at these, these are photographs of him bright red with anger. If we can put that up. And this was -- you know, look at that, in the Oval Office. Listen, we always say we're not a psychologist or psychiatrist, but we have eyes.
SCARAMUCCI: Look, it's going to get worse. I said two months ago on CNN New Day that he'd have a full-blown Trump noble style meltdown which he's doing right now and then I said that there would either be a cover-up or a cleanup of the situation. You'd have to cover this up or clean it up. I'm just shocked that they're trying to cover it up at this point.
It's so egregious. It's so completely outrageous. Just send a message to the family, send a message to the president that 20 Republican Senators are going to push him out and see if we can get him to resign gracefully so that we can spare the country from further embarrassment.
LEMON: Anthony Scaramucci, thank you, sir. I appreciate it.
SCARAMUCCI: It's good to be here.
LEMON: We'll be right back.
LEMON: So here's our breaking news. President Trump suggesting China might want to investigate Joe Biden and his son. I want to bring in Frank Bruni and Kirsten Powers. Good evening. An avalanche of reporting today. Frank, you first. Your view on President Trump. Is he self-impeaching?
FRANK BRUNI, CNN CONTRIBUTOR, NEW YORK TIMES OP-ED COLUMNIST: It took my breath away when I heard him say that. And I did think to myself, yes, you remember when in the 2012 Republican primaries they talked about self-deporting.
BRUNI: That phrase came back. Now we're seeing self-impeachment. I mean he's adding -- with his own behavior, his own reaction to the impeachment inquiry he seems to be adding potential articles of impeachment. And it's crazy to behold, but I don't think it's an unconsidered thing. I think it's for lack of a better word a sort of strategy.
He's saying -- he is trying to give you the impression that there's so little wrong with what he did in that July 25th call with the president of Ukraine that he's willing to do it in the open with yet another country. Because how can there be anything wrong with it if he's showing you, him doing it in real time? I think that's the way he thinks. That's the kind of psychology he's trying to promote.
LEMON: Some people buy that.
BRUNI: His loyalists buy that. I'm not sure this is going to play very well with people in the middle, persuadable people, if there are any of those left.
LEMON: Yes. Kirsten, listen, the president of the United States -- I mean, think about this. Is openly encouraging Ukraine and China to investigate the Bidens. I mean, it's all right there for everyone to see. We can't gloss over it.
KIRSTEN POWERS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, right. I mean, I think what his defenders are saying is that he's just so concerned about corruption, right? Which -- does anybody really believe that? I mean, he basically wanted to repeal the foreign you know, corrupt act -- whatever the foreign corruption act is -- corrupt practices act, right? The one that basically makes it illegal for American companies to be bribing governments overseas. He's criticized it many times. The enforcement of it has gone down since he's been in office.
So, this isn't something that he's seriously concerned about. And you know, I think he has warped American foreign policy around his own personal interests now, which is to get re-elected. And so, I think if you look at what he's asking for, there is really nothing for them to dig up. I mean, you know, we go through it all the time on the show about the fact that Biden actually didn't do anything. It's the opposite of that. He was actually doing -- there was unanimous consent in the international community about what he was doing. He wasn't freelancing. That is what the president is doing.
So what I think he's doing is, he's pressuring these countries to find something, to make something up. Right? Like they will come up with something, because they need to give something to Trump to get what they want.
LEMON: Interesting. All of these stories are coming out tonight. The underlying theme seems to be that the president exerts the power of his office and conducts foreign policy with one goal in mind, Frank, and that is his own personal gain.
BRUNI: Absolutely, yes. And those headlines you showed at the beginning of the show, one after another, the thing that they really drive home is this July 25th call wasn't a one-time thing. This wasn't a one-off. His obsession with getting Ukraine to serve up some dirt on the Bidens, this thing involved a lot of people.
It fanned out over a long period of time. You know, there were diplomats. There was, you know, Mike Pence was involved in it, if you believe the reporting. This was not just him being undisciplined and unhinged at a given moment during that phone call. This was an obsession of Donald Trump, and it's becoming clearer every day.
LEMON: Final word, Kirsten?
POWERS: Well, what else is he doing? Right? I mean, that is the real question. I mean, this is what we know about, but this is obviously something that he is making no secret of the fact that he feels comfortable pressuring foreign governments who are very dependent on the United States to dig up dirt on his political enemies. And these are -- a lot of these governments are governments that don't exactly operate within the bounds of what the United States normally would consider acceptable behavior. So, I think it's an extremely frightening proposition.
LEMON: Thank you, Kirsten. Thank you, Frank. We'll be right back.
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LEMON: The House and Senate Intel Committees preparing to question the whistleblower who made the complaint about the president's infamous Ukraine call as impeachment inquiry barrels ahead. Lots to talk about, I want to discuss now with Senator and presidential candidate Amy Klobuchar. Senator, thank you so much for coming in. I really appreciate it.
SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thanks, Don.
LEMON: Today we saw the president of the United States ask two countries for help investigating his political opponents. And we learned that he had a previous conversation with the Chinese president about his political opponents. The conversation which was then buried on that secret server like the Ukraine call was. Is what we saw today from the president, his public comments an impeachable offense, you think?
KLOBUCHAR: I don't know what else do you call it. And of course the investigation has to go on in the House. But what we have going on here and I love how at the beginning of your show you calmly and methodically went through something that doesn't make any of us feel calm. Because it's so frightening.
But at its core and I'm here in Des Moines. And I just had a lot of people ask me about it all day. I think we need to look at it simply. Even though it involves all these different countries from China to Australia to Ukraine. It's really the same fact pattern. You have a president who is not following the law.
And he's basically asking foreign leaders to get him dirt on a political opponent. Which is not legal. Which these articles of impeachment, this whole idea of impeachment was specifically put in our constitution as James Madison said in the constitutional convention because he feared that a president could betray the Americas trust to a foreign power.
So, that is what happened. He goes, he asks for this dirt and he's asking in a very broad way. At least in the transcript partial transcript that we have seen on Ukraine. And then of course what follows is a cover up. So, I keep reminding people this is what happened in Watergate. Nixon orders getting dirt on the opponent. The law is broken and then when people find out there's a cover up.
In this case, we don't file cabinets as much as anymore. They put it in a super-secret server. That where it didn't belong, so that they could hide it from people. And he's now going to all corners of the world and as you said earlier saying it publicly. Basically thinking that somehow is going to protect him. I don't think it protects him. I think it makes it worse.
LEMON: I want to get this in. And it's a lot of information I want you to get and I want the audience at home. Because President -- the president's key and debunk argument against Joe Biden is that he got a Ukrainian prosecutor fired to protect his son. Many fact-checks had been made that a number of people wanted this prosecutor to go. Including it turns out some of your Republican colleagues. OK.
So, CNN's K-File, has unearth, this is a letter from 2016. It is signed by Republican Senators Ralph Portman, and Ron Johnson. And it reads this, we similarly urge you to press ahead with urgent reform to the prosecutor general's office and judiciary. Now Senator Portman says that he is on board with Trumps claim about why aid was withheld from Ukraine. Senator Johnson told reporters this, I send out all kind of oversight letter. I don't know which one is 16 oversight whether you are referring to.
So, I will look at that and then we'll issue a press release statements or something. But I don't engage in hypocrisy. I'm looking at getting the truth. But the question is, I mean, they were on board and they wanted it. Now they ae saying that want it, and I agree with the president. Are they engaging in hypocrisy?
KLOBUCHAR: My hope is that my Republican colleagues who have always talk a good game when it comes to National Security and standing up for democracy and standing up against Russia, that they will do the duty here. And put the country in front of partisanship and play their role as true jurors in these case.
And someone who went to Ukraine twice, once with Republicans as in John McCain and Lindsey Graham. And another time with Democrats. I can tell you that we were always raising this issue of making sure that they were going after corruption.
That is nothing new. It doesn't surprise me that Senators Portman and Johnson signed onto that letter. And that's because Ukraine was pledging democracy. It still is and when Senator McCain and Lindsey Graham and I went there, this was right after President Trump had gotten elected. Literally a month after. And right before he got inaugurated and Senator McCain wanted to do that trip, he led the trip, literally a year later he died.
He led that trip because he wanted to make really clear that our country stood with this fragile democracy and against Russia. And we were there on New Year's Eve. And so whenever I hear these stories of what President Trump has been doing on his phone calls and saying I always think, that country Ukraine they needed our country. They needed our aid. That they needed us to stand with them. And he knew very well what that meant.
And so for him to say on a phone call I need a favor for you. For him to say that allegedly to ask about his opponent to the president of China. When we are in the middle of major trade negotiations. It just goes on and on and on. He's using our clout, for clout of the American people the leverage of the country for his own personal gain. Whether it be business, whether it be partisan. It is wrong and it is illegal. And we need to put our country first. And that is what I would say to my Republican colleagues.
LEMON: Well, Senator, it's always a pleasure to have you. I have to get to the top of the hour. It's got to be the final word. Thank you so much. I appreciate you being on.
KLOBUCHAR: Thank you. It's great to be on, Don.
LEMON: And good luck out there. We'll be right back.
KLOBUCHAR: Thank you.