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Second Whistleblower Could Follow Suit; Mike Pompeo Missed House's Deadline; Kurt Volker Releases More Information; NYT: Second Official Weighing To File Whistleblower Complaint; House Democrats Subpoena White House For Ukraine Documents; House Democrats Seek Documents From Mike Pence For Impeachment Inquiry; Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY) Is Interviewed About A Possible Second Whistleblower; President Trump Wants Ukraine And China To Investigate Bidens; Bernie Sanders' Heart Attack. Aired 10-11p ET
Aired October 4, 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: He is suing to get a look at the last six years of returns. Now this comes after an IRS career official reportedly filed a whistleblower complaint. The employee claims he was informed that at least one political appointee at the treasury tried to interfere with the audit of either Trump or Pence. Where does this go? Be on the lookout.
Thank you for watching. "CNN TONIGHT" with D. Lemon starts right now. I got a special treat for you, D. Lemon.
DON LEMON, CNN HOST: What you got?
CUOMO: Take a look. Come on down. Here she is, Ms. Cha-Cha
CUOMO: She loves Don the most.
LEMON: What's happening, Cha-Cha? She can't hear, can she?
CUOMO: She can hear. He says, you're like the voice of God in here.
LEMON: Tell her I said hi. I'm going to miss her this week. I won't see her.
CUOMO: I know but you're going to a great thing. I can't wait to hear about all that.
LEMON: Yes. I'm going to Tyler Perry's opening of the studio. It's going to be really fantastic.
CUOMO: I know. That is so awesome. And what a great achievement for Tyler. What did you think of my argument tonight about the problem being that people just don't want to reward a system that can work either way?
LEMON: Well, I think part of it -- I didn't hear all of it. I caught it as I was coming into the studio. I think you're partially right, but people still have to do -- you have to follow the Constitution regardless of where that takes you.
And if you are an American, then you believe in the Constitution more than you believe in any one person, in any one political office. So that's what I think of your argument as Cha-Cha fixes her hair.
CUOMO: What really matters. All right. I'll let you take over the show. We'll miss you. I love you. And Cha-Cha loves you. That's why she came tonight.
CHA-CHA CUOMO, CHRIS CUOMO'S DAUGHTER; Bye.
CUOMO: She said your studio is much bigger and nicer.
LEMON: Cha-Cha, I'll see you next weekend. Chris, I'll see you soon. Have a great weekend. Bye-bye
CUOMO: All right. Be well this weekend. Take care.
LEMON: This is CNN TONIGHT. I'm Don Lemon.
We've got a whole lot of news to get to tonight. The breaking news coming fast and it's coming furious again tonight. And just a week and a half into the impeachment inquiry, this is really huge, OK? So, everybody sit back on this Friday night and just pay attention to this because we are learning tonight that there may be another -- another whistleblower waiting in the wings.
The New York Times reporting that a second intel official is considering whether to file his own complaint about the president's Ukraine mess and testify to Congress. It's the second one. Considering it.
The Times reporting this official has even more direct information about what happened than the first whistleblower, and he has already told part of his story to the intelligence community I.G. We're going to dig into that deeper, this breaking news, coming up tonight here on CNN TONIGHT.
And there's this stunning story from the Washington Post, quoting current and former officials who said that they were "genuinely horrified" -- and that's a quote -- "genuinely horrified" by many of the president's calls with foreign leaders.
It wasn't just the Ukraine. The Post reports in one of his first calls with a head of state that the president fawned over Vladimir Putin, apologized profusely for not calling him sooner.
He promised to try to get Saudi Arabia into the G7. And he even promised the president of Peru that he would deliver a C-130 military cargo plane overnight. That is a near impossibility. That was a nightmare for the Pentagon.
Now, all of that sounds pretty crazy doesn't it. But here's the thing. People have gotten used to the president making calls like that. Even still, they were shocked by the effort to bury the Ukraine call in that highly secure system.
All this is happening as House Democrats are slapping a subpoena on the White House for Ukraine documents, wasting no time taking it to the next level, demanding documents from the acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, documents that are related to the president's infamous Ukraine call.
And making it crystal clear that they'll view failure to comply with the subpoena as evidence of obstruction. That is just another piece of the obstruction puzzle.
The White House trying to downplay the whole thing. Congress also requesting documents from Vice President Mike Pence.
And we're also learning a lot more tonight about Kurt Volker's testimony behind closed doors to Congress and what the former special envoy heard the president say about Ukraine, slamming the country as full of -- these are his words -- "terrible people." An idea he apparently got from -- surprise -- who do you think? Rudy Giuliani.
CNN has a copy of Volker's opening statement to Congress yesterday, including this key part. The president making it perfectly clear his grudge against Ukraine is personal.
So, let's go over it. So, Volker testifying, he said they tried to take me down.
In the course of that conversation, he referenced conversations with Mayor Giuliani. "It was clear to me that despite the positive news and recommendations being conveyed by this official delegation about the new president, President Trump had a deeply rooted negative view of Ukraine rooted in the past."
He was clearly receiving other information from other sources, including Mayor Giuliani, that was more negative, causing him to retain his negative view."
They tried to take me down. Grudges don't get more personal than that. Volker also testifying that he was in the dark about the effort to strong-arm Ukraine into investigating Joe Biden and only learned that Biden was mentioned on the Ukraine call when the rough transcript was released by the White House.
A call the president is still talking about today. To hear him tell it, the whole thing was perfect. It was beautiful. It was perfect. Nothing to see here. Just move along. Even though that call is at the heart of the impeachment inquiry.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: It was a perfect call. There was nothing -- we hand that call out. We've handed the call out to people, and they say, wow, this is incredible. We're very proud of that call. When I speak to a foreign leader, I speak in an appropriate manner.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Volker went on to praise Joe Biden in his statement. Praise him. Calling Joe Biden a man of integrity and dedication to our country. Yet, the president and his people are trying to smear him. But as far as this president is concerned, it is all corruption, corruption, corruption.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I believe there was tremendous corruption with Biden, but I think there was beyond -- I mean beyond corruption having to do with the 2016 campaign and what these low lives did to so many people, to hurt so many people in the Trump campaign, which was successful despite all of the fighting us, I mean despite all of the unfairness. So, we are looking at corruption.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Remember, it's always projection with this president. I've told you that many, many times before. Whatever he says about someone else is true about him. He says that it is not about politics, and if you believe that -- if you believe that this president, President Trump, a man fueled by grievance and hell-bent on winning at all costs just happened to target his main political rival, you want to buy a bridge? Got one to sell you.
Which brings us to the president's answer today to an excellent question. Has he looked into any corruption cases that don't involve his political rivals?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Have you asked foreign leaders for any corruption investigations that don't involve your political opponents? That is, are there other cases where --
TRUMP: You know, we would have to look, but I will tell you what I ask for and what I always will ask for is anything having to do with corruption with respect to our country. If a foreign country can help us with respect to corruption and corruption probes -- ask that -- I don't care if it's Biden or anybody else.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: We will have to look into it. You notice how he moved away from that reporter? We will have to look into it. He doesn't care it's Joe Biden. But he sure seems to have a lot to say about Joe Biden.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I don't care about Biden's campaign. When you look at what Biden and his son did, and I believe there was tremendous corruption with Biden.
What I saw Biden do with his son, Joe Biden negotiating the China deal. Joe Biden would just roll out the red carpet.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Marcia, Marcia, Marcia. You like that? Google it for those of you who are too young. It's a brady bunch reference. Marcia, Marcia, Marcia. Biden, Biden, Biden.
Just to be clear, there is no evidence of wrongdoing by the Bidens. It's a conspiracy theory. But there is evidence that President Trump wanted a favor from Ukraine. You read the transcript. Right after President Zelensky said that he wanted to buy javelins, President Trump said, I would like you to do us a favor, though.
The top diplomat in Ukraine, Bill Taylor, texted about that quote. "As I said on the phone, I think it's crazy to withhold security assistance from help -- for help with a political campaign."
Ambassador to the E.U. and million-dollar Trump donor Gordon Sondland replying, in that language, that sure has to make you wonder whether he was speaking to an audience of one, right? And that one was not Bill Taylor, replying, "Bill, I believe you are 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 reforms that President Zelensky promised during his campaign. I suggest we stop the back and forth by text."
Come on, people. It's all right there. I said Ambassador Sondland might have been speaking to an audience of one, and that one sure seems to have gotten the message. Here it is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: The text message that I saw from Ambassador Sondland, who is highly respected, was there's no quid pro quo. He said that. He said by the way, it almost sounded like in general. He said, by the way, there's no quid pro quo, and there isn't.
Now, for Biden there would be. But listen to this. There is no pro quo, and that was the text message that I saw, and that nullified everything.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: No pro quo. He forgot the quid part. There he goes. Marcia, Marcia, Marcia. Biden, Biden, Biden. Again, there he goes mentioning Joe Biden again. The president telling you exactly what he's afraid of with all these attacks on his Democratic front-runner. And tonight, Biden is reacting, and he is not holding back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We've got to get something straight. All this talk of the president about corruption comes from the most corrupt president we've had in modern history. He's the definition of corruption. He's corrupted the agencies of government from the Defense Department, from the State Department, from the Justice Department all about making sure that he, in fact, allows somebody else to pick his opponent for him.
That's what this is about. And I am not going to stand for it, and I'm not going to respond to it. I'm not going to talk about anything other than what the facts are. He's indicted himself by his own statements. This is not about me. It's not about my son. There's not a shred of evidence there's anything done that's been wrong.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: We've got breaking news coming up on the Secretary of State Mike Pompeo as well. And on that second whistleblower waiting in the wings, what else could we learn about this infamous Ukraine call? Ryan Lizza, Carrie Cordero, Max Boot. Boy, you -- you guys sure picked a night to be here. They're going to answer all the questions for us next.
LEMON: So, we've got some more late breaking news for you tonight. This time it's on Secretary Mike Pompeo.
CNN's Sarah Westwood is here with that. Sarah, the secretary of state missed the House's deadline for Ukraine-related documents. So now what? What's next?
SARAH WESTWOOD, CNN REPORTER: Well, Don, House Democrats had said they would consider it obstruction under their impeachment inquiry if the State Department did not comply with the subpoena. Now, keep in mind this is the third deadline that the State Department has now blown through.
House Democrats have started seeking documents related to this Ukraine controversy on September 9th, and they had given the State Department two different deadlines since then to produce documents. This is the third one that the State Department has ignored. So, it's possible that this could become obstruction under the impeachment inquiry.
The House Democrats in three different congressional committees were looking for a variety of documents and testimony related to that now infamous July 25th phone call between President Trump and Ukrainian President Zelensky.
They were looking not just for documents related to that call and officials who might have been listening in, but also documents and testimony related to the president's decision to suspend millions of dollars' worth of military aid to Ukraine. That's something they're still looking for. They will get depositions
from several current and former State Department officials in the days ahead. They had set a deadline until October 15th to get all of those depositions.
But earlier this week, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo issued a defiant response to that request, saying they did not agree with a variety of the conditions set out by House Democrats, including that State Department lawyers, White House lawyers would not be allowed to accompany the witnesses.
House Democrats said that was because they wanted to get the most candid testimony possible from those witnesses. Pompeo argued that State Department interests would not be protected if those lawyers were not allowed to accompany the witnesses.
But, Don, this just follows a pattern of White House and administration stonewalling of all requests for documents and testimony from Democrats. Now, though, because of this impeachment inquiry, the stakes are much higher. This could be considered obstruction if articles of impeachment were to be filed in the weeks ahead.
LEMON: Thank you so much, Sarah. I appreciate your reporting.
Also breaking tonight, "The New York Times" reporting that a second official, a member of the U.S. intelligence community, is weighing whether to file a whistleblower complaint about Trump's dealings with Ukraine.
Let's discuss now. Ryan Lizza, Carrie Cordero, and Max Boot. Max is the author of "The Corrosion of Conservatism: Why I Left the Right." So, just quickly before we get to this, Carrie, what does this mean now that Mike Pompeo has missed a deadline? What happens next? What do we know?
CARRIE CORDERO, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, I think they're just going to have to keep going back and forth, and they'll have to decide whether they're going to try to enforce it in court.
Normally, what you want is some kind of accommodation process. So, if an agency is trying to comply, like really in good faith trying to comply, then what they'll do is they'll start producing some information. They'll indicate that they're really working on it.
It doesn't really sound like that's what's going on here, but it just depends on whether they are absolutely just stonewalling and saying they're not going to comply or whether they're actually in a process of genuinely trying to provide the information.
But if they don't, then it's going to have to be litigated. Interestingly, there is a legal opinion from early in the Trump administration saying that committee chairmen have the authority to conduct oversight. So, it's hard for the agency to have a legal argument not to comply at all.
LEMON: All right. Carrie, thank you for answering that. Max, you know, the Times is saying that a second official is considering becoming a whistleblower about Ukraine. It's an intelligence official with more direct information. It seems like it could be a game- changer.
MAX BOOT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Well, I mean, I don't know more information we really need, Don.
LEMON: I agree.
BOOT: I mean, obviously there's a lot more that's come out. But, I mean, if you just look at what's come out in the last two weeks, it has been devastating. I mean, how much we have learned from the rough transcript that the White House itself released, from the whistleblower complaint, now from the texts that were exchanged between --
LEMON: And from him saying it on the front lawn.
BOOT: Exactly. And that's kind of the cherry on top of the sundae. You know, after denying that he was trying to get a quid pro quo or that he was pressuring a foreign leader to interfere in a U.S. election, Trump then goes to the South Lawn of the White House and he does it if full view of the entire world.
He demands that China investigate Joe Biden along with Ukraine. So, he's basically confessing what he's done. It's like Richard Nixon saying well, yes, I broke into the Democratic National Committee headquarters and guess what, next I'm going to break into the McGovern campaign headquarters and you can't stop me. I mean, that's essentially, you know, what Trump --
LEMON: I had every right to do it. I had to do it because of --
BOOT: Right. Exactly.
LEMON: -- because of Joe Biden. Yes.
BOOT: I have an absolute right, he says, to investigate corruption. But as you saw at the top of the show this is the only case of corruption in the entire world that he is worried about.
So when he's saying I have an absolute right to investigation corruption, what he is saying is I have an absolute right to invite foreign countries to interfere in the U.S. election on my behalf, which is against the law and is against -- that's exactly what the founding fathers feared would happen. That's why they wrote the impeachment clause in the Constitution, to avoid exactly the kind of behavior that Trump is now engaged in. LEMON: Let's get back to these -- to what's happening with the
possibility of this second whistleblower, OK? Ryan, what could we learn beyond the text messages, beyond the transcript, beyond what Max was just talking about saying it on the South Lawn? What else could we learn?
RYAN LIZZA, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, first of all, I don't think Max is right that this is the only case of corruption Trump cares about. I think he still has a passing interest in Hillary Clinton's e-mails. So, let's just stipulate that.
But, look, the reporting from the Times suggests that this is one of the people, right, who was interviewed in the process of corroborating the initial whistleblower's account, and it looks like during that interview, he or she -- I believe it is a he -- suggested that he might have his own whistleblower case to file and that might allow him to have the protections of the whistleblower law, although the piece also points out that just talking to the investigator may give him those protections.
So, what else can we learn? Look, the entire case, when the initial whistleblower complaint came out, the case by the White House and Trump's defenders was, well, this is mostly a secondhand account, right, which is really, you know, pretty normal, right? It's the job of the investigative entities to go and find that firsthand evidence and see if the account holds up.
So, if the Democrats are going to proceed with impeachment, they want to have as rock solid a case as they want, and every firsthand account of what went on with Ukraine and Biden and assistance and White House meetings needs to be documented.
LEMON: Can I say something here?
LIZZA: Yes. You can -- it's your show. You can say whatever you want.
LEMON: I'm being polite, OK? Not to cut you off because I'm going to let you finish. I'm going to let you finish. Because how much more do you need? Because it doesn't matter. On the tapes, the president could say, hey, quid pro quo, which he would never do, basically saying close to that.
LIZZA: No, I disagree.
LEMON: But hold on.
LEMON: Republicans are still going to say -- mark my words -- there is nothing there. The president has the right. The information, the evidence --
LEMON: -- is already there. It's in -- it's on tape. It's in writing. It's there. How much more do you need?
LIZZA: I disagree. Carrie and I were talking about this before we came on. Look, for, I think for a certain number of Americans, that is true, Don. But there are a lot of Americans --
LEMON: Americans are for impeachment.
LIZZA: -- who, well, there are a lot of Americans who, I think, one, think impeachment has to be some kind of violation of the criminal code, and they aren't quite there in understanding why this is an impeachable offense, right?
And I think as you go from a whistle-blower complaint or reports of a whistle-blower complaint to the rough transcript to the president saying it out loud, that, you know, that's an evolution --
LEMON: OK. OK.
LIZZA: -- that strengthens the case.
LEMON: I got you. I got - I want to get Carrie in. Carrie is the law professor here.
CORDERO: But we --
LEMON: Go ahead, Carrie.
CORDERO: We have to get --
CORDERO: We have to past this point. And Ryan, you may be right that people have this perception that there has to be some technical --
LEMON: But that's not reality, right.
LIZZA: I'm not saying it's correct. I'm not saying it's correct. Yes.
CORDERO: Right. And so, I want to make that so clear. It does -- it is not correct. There does not have to be a technical criminal violation in order to constitute impeachable behavior.
And the most important thing that I think there are Republicans on the Hill who I know have to be thinking really seriously about this. The fundamental question is, is it OK for the president to use the instruments of foreign policy for his own personal political benefit?
And if the answer to that is no -- and I think the answer to that is no -- then there is already plenty of evidence, whether it's the text of the Ukraine call, whether it's the president's statements in front of camera, in addition to the newest texts that were released by the State Department personnel, and there will be more testimony next week --
LEMON: Volker's opening statement he's all of that.
CORDERO: -- on the details of that. Volker's statement, Volker's texts.
CORDERO: They just need to get Bill Taylor in front of them because he obviously knew what the deal was and what was going on.
CORDERO: And there is so much evidence, and that -- but that's the fundamental question. And so, unless members of Congress finally wrestle with that question, are they really, really OK with a president using the office of the presidency in that way? I don't think many of them are --
LEMON: That's got to be the --
CORDERO: -- but they're not saying it.
LEMON: -- last word. We're out of time. Thank you all. I appreciate it.
LIZZA: Thanks, Don.
LEMON: We'll be right back.
CORDERO: Thank you.
LEMON: We're back. It's truly an extraordinary Friday night. There's tons of breaking news. "The New York Times" is reporting on a possible second whistleblower with House Democrats slapping a subpoena now on the White House for Ukraine documents and a separate request for documents from Mike Pence.
So, joining me now to talk about all of this is Congressman Gregory Meeks. He is a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Thank you, sir, I appreciate you joining us.
REP. GREGORY MEEKS (D-NY): Good being with you. LEMON: What in the world is going on? I mean, it seems to be story
after story after story. This New York Times saying that there's a second potential whistleblower to come forward. Do you know anything about this?
MEEKS: I know that when you look at the first whistleblower, he talked to a number of other individuals that are in the administration. We may well end up hearing from this also. And I know that, if you think about it, a year ago there was this guy that wrote in The New York Times called anonymous. And talk about them who are inside the administration, who are trying to hold things together.
I initially not too long ago wrote an op-ed saying, anonymous, it's time for you to come out and others who have been anonymous in the administration to come out as bravely as the initial whistleblower came out. So, I think you're going to see some people who are becoming patriots and decide that they're going to put --
LEMON: You really think that in this partisan environment and the people who are -- because you know, you realize, there's Democrats. There are traditional Republicans. And then there are the Trump Republicans, right? You really think --
MEEKS: There are career State Department people who put this country first. Who have been dedicated, and they just can't take this anymore. That is why so many people have been leaving.
LEMON: So, I want to ask you what impact you think this is going to have on the inquiry. Because -- let me read something from the New York Times, a second intelligence official has more direct information about the events than the first whistleblower. So then what is the impact that you think on this inquiry?
MEEKS: Well, I think the impact is where we are now, that when you hear the testimony of individuals, career State Department folks, then you'll start seeing it cracking where others who understand that the camera of history is rolling and don't want to be recorded wrong, that they then break down, which puts pressure on a number of -- especially the Republican Senators.
Because just think about it. You're only hearing from two or three of them. The rest of them have been really silent, because they are nervous as to what's taken place. Because when we move forward, though this is somewhat like it's a political process, but this is somewhat like a grand jury. The grand jury got to get all the information first before you decide whether or not you indict or not, and then you pass it on to a regular jury, but that is what's happening right now.
LEMON: OK. So, let's talk about this, because you know, the Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, failed to meet the subpoena deadline for House that produce Ukraine lawyer documents, right?
LEMON: OK. So, a House foreign affairs committee aide tells CNN that the Secretary Pompeo has failed to meet the deadline to produce the documents required by subpoena. However, the State Department has contacted the committee on this matter, and we hope the department will cooperate in full and promptly. OK. Then you have that.
The committee subpoenaed the White House for -- you're committee for Ukraine related documents. And tonight in a statement they said, this subpoena changes nothing. Just more document requests. Wasted time, taxpayer dollars. It will ultimately show the president did nothing wrong. So you have Pompeo saying I'm not going to do it. You've got the White House saying, you know, this is a waste of time. So what happens if they don't comply?
MEEKS: Well, number one, you hold them in contempt. So you do that. Number two, now you're talking about additional charges of obstruction. So those then go into the further counts and charges as it would for any ordinary citizen in a court.
MEEKS: So you're obstructing, and that is another charge. And you hold them in contempt.
LEMON: So then what do you do with the vice president, because he was sent requests for documents and he said it does not appear to be a serious request? That his office said that the request doesn't appear, so, it's another stonewall as well.
MEEKS: And this is the reason why you ultimately go to court. They're stonewalling because they're trying to cover up. That is another thing.
LEMON: OK. I got 20 seconds left. What do you say to frustrated folks out there who are saying, well, what are you guys doing? Like, do something. Because they think he's going to -- their words -- he's going to get away with this too, because he's shifting the narrative. What do you say?
MEEKS: That this will come to a close swiftly. You will see that we're gathering the evidence, and a decision will be made swiftly. That using the words of the speaker, the three committees are working closely together, and we'll make sure that we do our jobs, and our job will show the evidence that will be laid out in regards to this president.
LEMON: And you feel that you have the evidence?
MEEKS: Yes, I think that you can look at it and see what's there. I mean that -- it's plain. The evidence is through the president's mouth.
MEEKS: He has admitted it himself.
LEMON: Thank you, Congressman. MEEKS: All right.
LEMON: I appreciate your time. Thank you so much. We'll be right back.
LEMON: We have new details tonight about key testimony and evidence in the impeachment investigation. The former special envoy for Ukraine Kurt Volker, provided text messages to Congress that appeared to show Ukrainians and some U.S. officials understood that if Ukraine wanted important things like military aid and a visit to Washington for the new president, that the Ukrainians would need to agree to the investigations that the president wanted. But Volker says, he warned Ukraine not to influence U.S. elections.
So, joining me now is the former U.S. Ambassador to Estonia, his name is James Melville. Mr. Melville, we are grateful that you can join us here, especially on a Friday evening. Good evening to you. You are friends with Kurt Volker. He is in a tough spot right now with those texts. Should he have acted sooner to shut down this mission to investigate Joe Biden and the 2016 election?
JAMES MELVILLE, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO ESTONIA: In my opinion, yes, certainly, because those of us in the career service know that it's illegal to ask a foreign power to play any role in our elections. And as these negotiations, if we can call them that, edged closer to that point, certainly the people who were involved should have been aware of that. And I suspect that that is the reason that Ambassador Yovanovitch, who was doing a first-class job as our chief of mission in Kiev, was pushed out of the way.
LEMON: So Volker told Congress that Trump claimed Ukraine tried to take me down. I mean it's pretty stunning that a president would believe such a conspiracy theory. Why do you think no one can persuade the president that this was all just bunk?
MELVILLE: I can't get between the president's ears. I don't understand why he would think that. Certainly there are enough experts in the government who know the situation well enough to explain it to him. The fact that it didn't seem to make any difference is truly unfortunate. And I feel very badly for our Ukrainian allies, who are pawns in this game.
I mean, this is a country that's really in a desperate situation where people are being killed, where their territory is occupied and has been annexed illegally by Russia, and to cause them further suffering when our policy for many years, at least since the Russian invasion in 2014, has been to support their struggle to achieve independence and sovereignty without Russian domination, and to get away from their history of corrupt and authoritarian rule.
LEMON: Well, let me ask you this question. Let me follow up on something that you said first. I hesitated because I wanted to make sure that I wasn't misreading you. You said that you believe that Kurt Volker should have shut it down because it is illegal to interfere, right, to have a foreign -- to ask assistance from a foreign country to interfere in an election, especially to go after your political opponent. I'm paraphrasing here. Is that correct?
MELVILLE: That is absolutely correct.
LEMON: So are you saying -- so let me ask you this.
MELVILLE: For centuries.
LEMON: OK. So from what you have read and what you have seen, from the texts, from the testimony, from the readout of the phone call, from the whistleblower complaint and on and on, do you think that the president did something illegal?
MELVILLE: Well, certainly. When he stood on the lawn yesterday and asked China directly, and we know that he asked Ukraine in that phone call to interfere in our election, to dig up dirt on a political opponent, absolutely. That is --
LEMON: So you think the evidence is there?
MELVILLE: That is prima facie illegal.
LEMON: OK, so you think the evidence is there, because people are coming and saying, we need more evidence. We need to do this. You think the evidence is already there?
MELVILLE: My reading is that he has -- he has admitted that that was what he was looking for.
MELVILLE: I'm not a legal expert. I'm just a citizen.
LEMON: Yes. I'm just -- and that is why we have you here, just to get your read on this. Listen, the president claims there was no quid pro quo, right? There doesn't really have to be an explicit one, but these text messages also show that Bill Taylor, the senior U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, feared military aid was being held by the White House until Ukraine committed to investigations. As a former diplomat, talk to me about that. How troubling is this?
MELVILLE: Well, that certainly sounds like a quid pro quo to me. You know, in diplomacy, for an American diplomat, the golden ticket is a meeting in the Oval Office. And to be able to -- for an ambassador to be able to deliver that to the country in which the ambassador is serving is considered to be, you know, the ultimate prize.
And it has tremendous value to countries that we have relations with, whether they're allies or adversaries. And so that certainly had value, but in the end, it doesn't really make any difference whether there was a quid pro quo, because it is illegal and immoral to ask a foreign power to interfere in our domestic elections.
LEMON: Do you -- so what do you think happens next here? Where do we go from here?
MELVILLE: Well, I think part of the problem from my perspective is the lack of respect for the career service. I mean the foreign service of the United States is not terribly well understood, I think, but just like our colleagues in uniform, it's a real service. You know, Foreign Service officers, just like officers in the army, in the navy, in the marines and the coast guard and the air force, are commissioned by the president, confirmed by the senate, and sworn to uphold the constitution in an oath that we all take.
And so these -- my former colleagues are experts, and they know how to practice diplomacy. To allow someone like Mr. Sondland to play the role that he has apparently been playing is beyond my understanding. And the result of his interventions is evident to all of us. It has not been a good result. It's not been a good result for the United States. It's not been a good result for our Ukrainian allies.
And we find ourselves in this terrible situation because of a lack of respect and a lack of use by the administration for the fantastic tool that is at the administration's disposal, which is the Foreign Service. And what I really don't understand is why the Secretary of State is not speaking up on behalf of the service.
MELVILLE: And its role, which has been greatly diminished in this administration.
LEMON: We will see in the days and weeks to come. As you've heard, Democrats say that they believe that that is going to -- this is going to go quickly, so we'll find out some information hopefully. Thank you, Ambassador James Melville. I appreciate your time.
MELVILLE: You're welcome.
LEMON: We'll be right back.
MELVILLE: Thank you.
LEMON: A possible second whistleblower on the horizon just a week and a half into the impeachment inquiry. But so far, not a whole lot of Republicans speaking out against the president. Let's discuss now with Joe Lockhart and Mark McKinnon. Gentlemen, so good to see you. Good evening to you.
Mark, you first. This impeachment proceeding is moving at lightning speed. Now the possibility there's a second whistleblower to corroborate the first. You think this will move Republicans -- do you think, Mark? I mean, and what are they thinking tonight? MARK MCKINNON, CO-HOST, SHOWTIME'S THE CIRCUS: No, I don't think so,
Don. It's just, you know, it's only corroborating what Republicans had already know. It's corroborating when the president himself said. And I think sometimes metaphors are helpful and I think it's sort of a Titanic situation here, were all the Republicans are in the same boat.
There are really choppy seas with a mad captain. It appears they've hit an iceberg. Now, what's going to happen is, they are going to determine whether the ship is going down. But of the ship is going to down, they're not going town with the captain. They are going to be the first one on the lifeboat ahead of the women and children.
LEMON: OK. So you say, Republicans already know. But they are not really saying it. There are a few I want to mention. But they already know, but they are pretending not to know. Or they are just not saying anything, you know, you shook your shoulder every week.
MCKINNON: No. They're saying that they know. Yes, they're saying that they know and they are saying that in their view it's not an impeachable offense. That their line is that there's no quid pro quo and think that is the level of crime that it has to meet and that therefore it's not impeachable. So, they are going to stand behind him, barring other evidence. You know, barring, you know, we'll find out. If we get additional information that puts a big enough hole in the boat that the ship goes down. They'll be out of their fast.
LEMON: they'll be out jumping ship. So, listen, Joe, a few Republicans are speaking out. Mitt Romney tweeted this today. By all appearances, the president has brazen in un-president appeal to China, anti-Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden is wrong and appalling. But Senator Ben Sasse says that Americans don't look to Chinese (inaudible) for the truth. Representative Roe Hertz slammed Trump for asking China to investigate the Bidens. But I mean, the vast majority, don't you think, they're hiding.
JOE LOCKHART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, they are the out liars at this point. I think it's going to take an enormous amount of developments and revelations for them to move. They are politicians. So they going to do what's best for them. And right now, Donald Trump controls the hearts of Republicans in this country. And you know, having him at the head of the ticket might be a problem for them. But having him actively working against them means they've lost.
It's the worst of two evils. I think their strategy has really sort of developed in the last 36 hours.
For the president's side, he put out an ad today that basically said, you know, he didn't do anything that -- that was really wrong. He's a tough guy who breaks rules for America. That's going to be their point of view. Republicans I think, Tucker Carlson, put out an op-ed tonight that said, yes, he was wrong to do this, but he is a different kind of guy and he certainly shouldn't be impeached for this. It doesn't reach that far. It gives both sides a place to mutually exist. So, as Mark says, you know, maybe a hit on the iceberg and then everyone runs for the lifeboat.
LEMON: Hey, just quickly, I have a -- just a short time here. How do you think the Bernie Sanders heart attack is going to affect his run?
LOCKHART: You know, listen, it's no longer a medical question. I think it's great that it didn't immediately eliminate him from the race. Which have probably would have 10, 15 years ago, but the fact that they held out for three days and didn't tell people, that it was a heart attack. I think, it sort of starts raising the questions that you have seen about politicians, about their (inaudible).
LEMON: And mark, I've got 10 seconds here. What do you think? Do you think it's going to affect him?
MCKINNON: It's hard for not to, Don. I mean, you already seen he's kind of the old guy in the race and do you have the energy. Compared to especially somebody like Elizabeth Warren, who does the four hour (inaudible). The last thing you want is something that confirms the suspicions of voters already had. Now, you know, he said he'll be at the next debate. If he shows up and he has a lot of energy and he get kind of turn that equation around. But it's really the last thing that you want when you already have the perception that's in people's minds.
LEMON: Mark, thank you so much. Don't do too much damage in my hometown. Say, hello to everybody for me.
MCKINNON: Down there in Louisiana.
LEMON: Baton Rouge red stickers we say. Baton Rouge.
Thank you guys. We'll be right back.