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Investigation Into President Trump And The Ukraine Controversy Ramp Up; President Trump Claims There Was No Quid Pro Quo Between His Administration And Ukraine's Leaders; Trump Children Under Scrutiny; GOP Mostly After Trump Asks China & Ukraine to Investigate Biden But Feel Heat In Home Districts; Impeachment Inquiry Coming Up In Major Labor Summits In Los Angeles; Foreign Leaders Forced Into Front-Row Circus Seat Next To Trump. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired October 5, 2019 - 16:00   ET





ANA CABRERA, CNN HOST: You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York.

Republicans, you have been warned. Criticize the President in any way, and he will come down on you. Senator Mitt Romney is learning that crucial lesson today. President Trump now calling for the senator's impeachment, despite the fact that senators cannot be impeached.

The President writes, I'm hearing that the great people of Utah are considering their vote for their pompous senator Mitt Romney to be a big mistake. I agree, he is a fool playing into the hands of the do- nothing Democrats. #impeachRomney.

The President added an extra word after (INAUDIBLE) an earlier tweet. All of this because Mitt Romney called the President's public appear appeal for China and Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden quote "wrong and appalling." As far as President Trump is concerned, his very public request specifically targeting the Democratic front runner is not about politics at all.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don't care about Biden's campaign, but I do care about corruption. His campaign, that's up to him. Politics, that's up to them. I don't care about politics.


CABRERA: CNN White House Reporter, Jeremy Diamond is live outside the White House.

Jeremy, this claim from the President that these requests to investigate and his son, Hunter, are not about politics but corruption. Does it hold water?

JEREMEY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well, you heard the President yesterday dozens of times saying this is about corruption. This is not about politics. Of course, when the President was pressed to give an example of another investigation into corruption that he has asked another country to carry out, he couldn't name one other than the one that he is calling for with regards to Joe Biden. And that is where we find the secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, today, backing up the President's claims that this was all about corruption and not politics.


MIKE POMPEO, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: I was on the phone call. I'm on almost every phone call with the President with every world leader. The President has every right to have these set of conversations. I know precisely what the United States -- sitting in front of you is the previous ambassador to Ukraine. We know exactly what we were doing there. We were trying to create a situation where it wouldn't be a corrupt government, right. We want to make sure they didn't interfere in our election in 2016.


DIAMOND: We have now seen, Ana, in those text messages that it was very clear U.S. officials were very narrowly focused on the issue of the company that Joe Biden's son, Hunter Biden, sat on the board of. And on this question about 2016 election investigation. But of course, all you have to do, really, to understand this is look at the President's record.

And "the Washington Post" this morning is reporting that in one of the President's first calls with Russian leader Vladimir Putin, the President was not only praising Putin as a great leader but also apologizing for not having called him sooner. And this is really just part of the broad embrace that we have seen from this President of autocratic leaders around the world, countries with very corrupt records, such as Russia, such as Saudi Arabia, such as the Philippines. All of these leaders the President has privately on the phone but also publicly repeatedly embraced -- Ana.

CABRERA: All right. Jeremy Diamond at the White House, thank you.

Silence, that's what you heard from most congressional Republicans this week as the investigation into President Trump and the Ukraine controversy ramped up. But as Republicans try to put their best spin on the whistleblower report and the Ukrainian phone call the transcript, they face one tough obstacle, facts.

CNN Chief Political Correspondent, Dana Bash has more.


DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): What you mostly hear from congressional Republicans on impeachment is the sound of silence. GOP sources tell CNN they have a good reason for that, fear. They have no idea what else House Democrats investigating will uncover. Along with GOP fear, frustration with the President. Performances like Wednesday in the oval office.

TRUMP: The whistleblower was so dishonest.

BASH: And later in the east room.

TRUMP: This is a fraudulent crime on the American people.

BASH: His rambling, shoot from the hip comments, his stream of consciousness tweets not exactly an anti-impeachment road map for his fellow Republicans. In fact, a source involved in Senate GOP discussions tells CNN he is taking it upon himself to tweet about every shiny object. That is not helpful right now.

To be sure, lots of Trump GOP allies eagerly came out to defend the initial bombshell, the transcript summary of the President asking Ukraine's leader to do him a favor and investigate his political opponent, Joe Biden.


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, (R-SC): It was a nothing burger for me. The phone call with the President and the Ukrainian President.

BASH: But GOP spin on behalf of Trump is not ageing well, especially confronted with facts about the call.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: President Trump replies, I would like you to do us a favor, though.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You just added another word.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, it's in the transcript.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He said, I would like you to do us a favor though?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, it's in the transcript.

BASH: And about the whistleblower.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You had a bureaucrat who didn't like the President --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wait, wait, wait. Who are you talking about?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We know he didn't like the President.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We don't know that.

BASH: Baseless attacks like that on the whistleblower --

TRUMP: We have a whistle-blower that reports things that are incorrect.

BASH: Plus repeated brazen threats from the President did compel Iowa Republican Chuck Grassley, a long-time champion of whistleblowers, to release a statement warning no one should be making judgments or pronouncements without hearing from the whistle-blower first and carefully following up on the facts.

Also noteworthy, Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell, who rarely grants interviews. This week he did, declaring if the house impeaches the President, the Senate will have no choice but to start a trial.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R), MAJORITY LEADER: Under the Senate rules, we're required to take it up if the house does go down that path. And we will follow the Senate rules.

BASH: Senate GOP sources say they are bracing for more shoes to drop, a politically dicey waiting game for more than a handful of Senate Republicans on the ballot and potentially vulnerable in 2020.

Cory Gardner in Colorado to Martha McSally in Arizona to Joni Ernst in Iowa, Susan Collins in Maine, to Tom Tillis in North Carolina. It's not just their own political future at stake but control of the Senate, which Republicans could lose with three or four seats, something McConnell is well aware of.

MCCONNELL: What I want to do is spend our time accomplishing things for the American people.

BASH: Several congressional Republicans we talked to complained that they are getting very little guidance from the White House. They decided at the White House not to set up a war room, despite an initial flirtation with that. Instead, the emails and tweets and ads are coming out of the campaign, but people on the hill we talk to say that that's all well and good but with something this dire, it needs to come from the White House.

Dana Bash, CNN, Washington.


CABRERA: OK. Let's bring in CNN's Chief Media Correspondent and Anchor of "RELIABLE SOURCES" here on CNN, Brian Stelter and CNN Political Analyst, Sarah Isgur.

Sarah, CNN reached out to 85 Republican lawmakers in the House and the Senate to see if they had concerns not only with Ukraine but also with China and Trump calling on them to investigate a political opponent. A few responded. Only two expressed concern, those were Mitt Romney and Ben Sasse. Do you think Republicans truly don't see anything wrong with this, or are they just afraid to speak out?

SARAH ISGUR, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: No, I think what we are seeing is wait and see mode. I think they want to see where this inquiry goes. They want to see what other facts come out. If they, you know, come out too soon now saying one thing or the other and facts come out differently, you know, that could be embarrassing. And so I think we will see more Republicans take sides on either side in the coming weeks. But I think for large part, a lot of political smart minds think, ye, better stay quiet than to say something foolish. CABRERA: Well, you do see what happens when you speak out. And I

might just say, though, in terms of the facts coming out, the President made his comments very public about China. Those are the comments that Romney is criticizing. Those are the types of comments Ben Sasse is criticizing. Those aren't anything left to be discovered. It's what the President has already said publicly.

But, you know, now they have spoken out. Mitt Romney, Brian, has become the target of attacks. That's what happens, right, if you speak out against this President, especially as a member of his own party. The President now calling for Romney's impeachment, even going after him using expletives, which is the second time he has used expletives this week, which makes it a little uncomfortable for us to do our job reading the President's words on our air.

BRIAN STELTER, CNN CHIEF MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: It does seem like the anger is boiling over. This is a President that's always been impulsive, but the rage is at a much higher volume than it has been in the past.

I think Romney must have known this was coming. This must have been part of his calculation, you know, when he spoke out in a very honest way, addressed what is wrong in this situation. He must have known the President was going to send out some tweets in his direction.

It is striking what the President is saying today, though. He has been tweeting about Romney all day, tweeting about his enemies and opponents all day. Pretty cushy job the President has just to sit back and tweet during the day between rounds of golf.

But he is misstating the facts about Romney. Even in his tweet just now about impeachment, saying Romney should be impeached. He is using the hashtag #MittRomneyimpeach. You can't impeach a sitting senator. Yes, you can expel a sitting senator, you can't impeach.

So even on those basic facts, the President doesn't have anybody around him providing that information. I think that gets to the broader point, certainly about the lack of a war room, you know. There's nobody really around him helping. There's nobody booked on the Sunday morning talk shows tomorrow from the White House. So there's no person out there actively defending him except for these GOP lawmakers who have chosen to stand by him.


CABRERA: To that point, Sarah, CNN's reporting is that one reason for some of the GOP silence is they are getting very little guidance from the White House when it comes to messaging and strategy. How long can the silence last?

ISGUR: I think that is the hundred-dollar question. The White House doesn't seem to have a strategy yet. You know, we saw the talking points that they sent to Democratic lawmakers instead.

There was something sort of clever about that. A lot of people covered those talking points because of the error of sending them to Democratic lawmakers. But since then, it's been pretty quiet. And the main reason for that is what we've seen over and over again.

If the White House picks a strategy, the President contradicts it. He wants to be in charge of this. He wants to own it. And he wants to run the strategy. And so Republican lawmakers, and those sitting in the White House right now, are going to have to wait to see what that strategy is from the President.

CABRERA: Here's what's interesting, Brian. While FOX News and other, you know, more right-wing media outlets have largely had a supportive message of this President, providing cover for him, really, Tucker Carlson, of FOX News, took an interesting turn last night, writing in an op-ed, this.

Donald Trump should not have been on the phone with a foreign head of state encouraging another country to investigate his political opponent, Joe Biden. Some Republicans are trying, but there's no way to spin this as a good idea. Like a lot of things Trump does, it was pretty over the top. The leader's official actions should not be about politics. Those two things need to remain separate. Once those in control of our government use it to advance their political goals, we become just another of the world's many corrupt countries. America is better than that.

Where did that come from?

STELTER: Where did that come from? Well, Carlson is very savvy. I think he understands the realty of the state of play, what the President has done here, potentially incriminating himself. And he is moving the goalpost. He is saying what Trump did is wrong, but it's not impeachable. So he is saying, it is wrong, you can't defend it, but it's not worth impeachment, let's just wait until the election a little more than a year from now.

I think he is trying to reframe the narrative in that way. In a way that still helps the President by saying, let's just get to the election rather than go through an impeachment process. But it is a notable crack in the fire wall.

Think about FOX News and right-wing media as a firewall for the President. And right now it's mostly holding up. Many GOP lawmakers are taking their cues from what they are hearing on Carlson's show and Hannity's show. Hannity is 100 percent with the President no matter what.

He has guests on there saying this is a coup. Obviously, it is not a coup, it's a legal process, it is a legal impeachment process. But because Hannity is saying that, it's like a firewall for Trump. And in any crack in that firewall is an interesting sign that GOP lawmakers will be watching for.

CABRERA: And Sarah, we have talked about how tough it is maybe for the facts to get out if they aren't being shared through these media outlets that reinforce what Trump supporters and Republican voters may want to hear. Is this the kind of thing, what we are hearing now from Carlson, that would turn the tide? ISGUR: I think that exactly what Brian said, cracks in the fire wall

and that water pushing against it of more facts coming out and it breaks. Interesting, though, looking back to 2017, it was also Tucker who said in July of 2017 not to fire Jeff Sessions. And you saw a lot of Republican senators follow suit from that as well. So Tucker is an important voice on the right.

At the same time, you see Eric Erickson taking a similar stance right now. He wrote an op-ed called "I support the President." But if you read it, what it says is I don't see anything impeachable right now. But if I do, I will not support the President. And he is leading to what amounts to a pretty big gap right there. And I think you will see more and more on the right, especially within that media environment, preparing for a post-Trump conservative movement. And they want to make sure that they are not so tied to whatever could come out next.

CABRERA: I wonder if President Trump has even thought about the post- Trump because right now it seems like, you know, the Republican party and President Trump are really one in the same.


CABRERA: Sarah Isgur, Brian Stelter, as always, I appreciate the discussion. You are great voices to have on this. Thank you.

President Trump claims there was no quid pro quo between his administration and Ukraine's leaders, but new damning text messages seem to contradict the President's claims. What they could mean for the impeachment fight, next.



CABRERA: It may be the most crucial evidence yet in this impeachment inquiry of President Trump. Text messages released by House committees Thursday between U.S. diplomats and a senior Ukrainian aide. And let me read you a few of the key exchanges.

Here's now former U.S. envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker to the top adviser to Ukraine's President. This was in July. Good lunch, thanks. Heard from White House. Assuming President Z, President Zelensky, convinces Trump he will investigate, get to the bottom of what happened in 2016, we will nail down a date for visit to Washington. Good luck. See you tomorrow, Kurt.

And here's a group text from August, including Volker, also U.S. ambassador to the EU, Gordon Sondland, and the President's lawyer, Rudy Giuliani. Hi, Mr. Mayor. Had a good chat last night. He was pleased with your phone call, mentioned Z making a statement. Can we all get on the phone to make sure I advised correctly as to what he should be saying? Want to make sure we get this done right. Thanks.

Then in September, we see the acting U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Bill Taylor, telling Sondland, as I sat on the phone, I think it's crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign.

But Sondland responds with this. Bill, I believe you are incorrect about President Trump's intentions. He adds, the President has been crystal clear, no quid pro quos of any kind.

Let's bring in CNN Legal and National Security Analyst, Carrie Cordero and our Crime and Justice Reporter, Shimon Prokupecz.

OK, Carrie, secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, we now know missed yesterday's deadline to handover Ukraine documents to House Democrats after a subpoena, But he said today quote "well, obviously we will do all the things we are required to do by law." And yet earlier this week, he sounded like he was ready to fight. Where do you see things going?

CARRIE CORDERO, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, I think his strategy is to certainly slow roll the production of information. He had also issued a letter last week saying that he didn't want the witnesses, the state department employees, these ambassadors to have to testify and that he portrayed it as if he was protecting them, but really it appeared as if he was trying to prevent them or at least delay their appearance.

So I think the strategy is to delay as much as possible and withhold what they can, although obviously this will be a process between Congress and the state department to be able to receive information.


CABRERA: So what can Democrats do to get this info, to get the testimony they are seeking?

CORDERO: Well, the fact that they have announced that they have an impeachment inquiry and you have multiple committees whoa re joining together to request the information should be a demand. They can try to litigate it. Although, I think last week what was really effective was when the House and the full Senate, bipartisan, both -- all members of both parties voted that the whistle-blower complaint, for example, from the intelligence community had to be provided.

So I think there's steps that they can take. That resolution was very important in forcing the executive branch to provide information. Or there's litigation, which takes a lot longer. So it's better if they can resolve it without having to litigate.

CABRERA: Shimon, I want to pick up on something you tweeted about today. Let's put up one of those text message exchanges here. This is between ambassadors Taylor and Sondland. You were truck by how long it took for Taylor to reply. Why did that catch your eye?

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: Because this whole conversation, Taylor's, I guess, response to all this, the fact that he is saying, you know, that he's concerned that this has to do with the campaign, I think caught him be surprise. Clearly, they have had this conversation.

But it would almost seem that Taylor was setting this up. He starts off by saying, as I said on the phone. And then he says what he says. Then I would assume that Gordon was caught off guard by this and took some five hours to respond to this and gave, as you read, this lawyerly like response to what Mr. Taylor there said, saying that there was no quid pro quo. And then goes on to say that he suggests that they sort of take this conversation offline, stop texting about it, and if he has any concerns, he should speak to some folks connected with this issue.

But I think what happens here, it would seem that perhaps maybe, and this is somebody Gordon is going to have to tell the committee when he comes before them on Tuesday, is whether or not he had conversations with anyone following Mr. Taylor's statement there. I think that's a big question that needs to be answered.

"The New York Times" was reporting that during this gap, this five- hour gap, that Mr. Sondland was talking to the President, that he called Donald Trump at that time. We have not confirmed that, but certainly that would be interesting for members of the hill and folks looking at this. So I think that time frame is certainly important because the question is going to be, did you follow up with anyone after Mr. Taylor said this, and did they tell you how to respond to this?

CABRERA: Carrie, the President says no quid pro quo. But I also want to look at this text. Because here is the Ukrainian President's adviser telling Volker, once we have a date, we will call for a press briefing announcing upcoming visit and outlining vision for the reboot of U.S./Ukraine relationship, including, among other things, Burisma and election meddling investigations.

Ukraine's President denies that President Trump pressured him, but what does that text message tell you about what the Ukrainians were thinking back in August?

CORDERO: Well, the whole of the text messages, that one being one part, but all of these messages that were released reveal that these state department officials were discussing with Ukraine two things. One, setting up a meeting in the oval office with the President. And two, the potential aid that was pending, foreign assistance that the United States was providing to the Ukraine.

Both of those issues come up in multiple messages. It's pretty clear that those were being held hostage in some way or part of the negotiation to Ukraine agreeing, the president of Ukraine agreeing to conduct this political investigation that the President wanted. And what's important about that is first of all, it's shown in the text messages. So it's there. It's also indicated in the content of the July 25th call that's been revealed publicly.

And it also shows that this wasn't just the President. I mean, I think that's the part that this state department aspect of this whole revelation has revealed, which is that there were officials in the state department who were facilitating the President and Rudy Giuliani and his political desires to get this information from the government of Ukraine, and they were using instruments of U.S. foreign policy and foreign assistance in order to get those political favors. [16:25:14]

CABRERA: Shimon, Volker testified this week. We have ambassador Sondland set to testify on Tuesday. The ousted U.S. ambassador to Ukraine will testify later this month. And we haven't even heard from Taylor, the senior U.S. diplomat in Ukraine. They were all named in that whistleblower report. Could any of them become the John Dean of this investigation?

PROKUPECZ: Perhaps, any of them could. I think Bill Taylor there. This is a career guy who has been dealing with Ukraine for quite some time. He's been with the state department for a long time, worked for different Presidents. I think he is an important figure in all of this. You have to go to the state of mind of the folks that were involved in this.

Clearly Mr. Taylor here was raising serious concerns. We don't even know exactly what was said on phone calls, what other kind of things were said to him, what he was feeling, why was he having these concerns that this was all being done for the political campaign. Those are big questions that need to be answered.

And you know, Mr. Taylor is a key part of this. We will see. There is going to be some fighting to get him to come forward, to come to members on the Hill to give testimony. We will see if that ever happens. I'm sure it will, but it's going to take some fighting. But he is becoming a central figure in all this because he was raising all sorts of concerns, it would seem. And the other thing I want to --. CABRERA: Right, in those text messages.

PROKUPECZ: In those text messages. But he could have been writing memos about all this too, right. We know people who have interacted with this President, we know people who have been interacting within this administration have been keeping all sorts of memos to protect themselves. And it wouldn't be surprising if someone like Mr. Taylor, who clearly was trying to document something in these text messages, have kept notes. And those things are going to be important in all of this.

CABRERA: For sure. Shimon Prokupecz and Carrie Cordero, thank you both.

CORDERO: Thanks, Ana.

CABRERA: The President and some Republicans can't stop ranting about Joe Biden and his son Hunter, but are the President and his children the ones that have a problem when it comes to family business?



CABRERA: Do you know that saying, "When you point one finger, there are three pointing back at you?" Well, as President Trump fires off more unfounded accusations that Joe Biden abused his position as vice president to protect his son, ethics experts say the president is the one with a conflict of interest.

CNN's Sara Murray reports.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: What I saw Biden do with his son, he is pillaging these countries and he's hurting us.

SARA MURRAY, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Trump firing off another round of unfounded accusations that Joe Biden used his position as vice president to protect and enrich his son, Hunter Biden.

TRUMP: We are looking for corruption. When you look at what Biden and his son did, when you look at other people, what they've done and I believe there was tremendous corruption with Biden.

MURRAY: But ethics experts say Trump is the one with the conflict.

RICHARD PAINTER, UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA: Donald Trump is profiting off his presidency.

MURRAY: Trump's children, made international deals on his behalf and serve in his administration. Unlike Biden, Trump stands to benefit financially with their work.

TRUMP: My two sons, who are right here, Don and Eric, are going to be running the company. They are going to be running it in a very professional manner. They're not going to discuss it with me.

MURRAY: Trump promised no new foreign deals. But that hasn't stopped his family from continuing business overseas. Because Trump never divested from his company, he stands to profit.

Trump's most recent financial disclosure shows he holds more than $130 million in foreign assets, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

PAINTER: But his two sons, when they go around the world cutting deals, aren't cutting those deals on their own behalf, they're cutting those deals for their father, Donald Trump.

MURRAY: Trump's recent appearance with the Indian prime minister was mutually beneficial.

NARENDRA MODI, INDIAN PRIME MINISTER: From CEO to commander-in-chief, the president of the United States of America, Mr. Donald Trump.


MURRAY: India is looking to reduce trade tensions with the U.S. and Trump was angling for a boost with Indian-American voters.

TRUMP: Every day, Indian-Americans help write the story of American greatness.

MURRAY: But there's another compelling reason for the two men to stay in good terms.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What's the status now of the construction and also the sales?

ERIC TRUMP, DONALD TRUMP'S SON: Honestly, I think great.

MURRAY: India is one of the most important markets for the Trump Organization. The Trumps have plowed ahead with deals in India, Indonesia, Uruguay and the Philippines that were already in the works before Trump took office.

Investigative journalists who spoke with Erin Burnett for CNN's documentary, "The Trump Family Business," say those investments are rife with opportunities to influence the president.

ANDREA BERNSTEIN, CO-HOST, "TRUMP INC." PODCAST: Maybe these are people that really want to buy nice condos or maybe they're people that want to influence the president.

MURRAY: Foreign governments also leapt at the chance to shell out money at Trump properties. The Trump Organization donated nearly $200,000 to the U.S. Treasury last year.

The company says that represents all of its profits from foreign governments but the numbers are nearly impossible to verify.

The Trump family dismisses it as a nonissue.

ERIC TRUMP: Somebody bought a cheeseburger at the Trump Hotel. It's asinine.

MURRAY: Still, Trump faces multiple lawsuits over whether he's violating the Constitution when his business accepts foreign government funds.

Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump's roles in the White House opened up another potential avenue for foreign influence.

Last year, China approved more than a dozen trademarks for Ivanka Trump branded products, the timing just as the U.S. and China were trying to restart trade talks raised eyebrows.

And according to the "Washington Post" reporting, officials in at least four countries talked about ways they could manipulate Kushner, in part, by taking advantage of his complicated business entanglements.

The president's sons have insisted their dad isn't swayed by business deals but the elder Trump jumps at every chance to tout his properties on the world stage, even naming his ideal location for the next G-7, Trump National Doral.


TRUMP: It's a great place. It's got tremendous acreage. So people really like it. And plus it has buildings that have 50 to 70 units in them. So each delegation can have its own building.

MURRAY (on camera): We asked the Trump Organization if they wanted to shed any light on how they're preventing potential conflicts between President Trump and his children. They did not respond to our request for comment. Neither did the White House when we asked them if they wanted to address what the president's own kids are up to as he's launching attacks against Hunter Biden.

Sara Murray, CNN, Washington.


CABRERA: Republicans have remained mostly silent since the president asked not only Ukraine but also China to investigate the Bidens. But lawmakers are starting to feel the heat back in their home districts.


CABRERA: Political passions ran very high this week at a town hall in rural Michigan.






CABRERA: That is Democratic Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin. She invited voters to join her in a conversation about why she supports the formal impeachment inquiry into President Trump's conduct.

Some people there really let her have it. Listen.


REP. ELISSA SLOTKIN (D-MI): The issue that got to me was this idea that the president, the most powerful man in the world, reached out to a foreigner, a foreign leader, and asked him to dig up dirt on an American --




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Fake news. Don't buy into it.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We can't hear her. SLOTKIN: So this is something the president himself acknowledged.

This is something that the president's lawyer acknowledged. This is something -- this is not -- he's not disputing that fact.

What he is disputing, and I acknowledge it completely, is whether there was a quid pro quo, a trade for our military assistance in exchange for information and dirt.


SLOTKIN: And that is to be determined. That is to be determined.

But I'm telling you, from my perspective, that that idea, that we would reach out to a foreigner, which again the president acknowledged, and we would ask for dirt in an American political election, was too much for me.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Nope, looking into corruption. Corruption.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Words matter. Words matter.


CABRERA: The impeachment issue, the inquiry, the accusations, should the president stay or go, it's coming up a lot at a major labor summit in Los Angeles this weekend.

I want to bring in CNN's Leyla Santiago who is at that summit.

Leyla, several of the Democratic candidates for president have been there yesterday and this weekend.

I want you to hear this from Senator Amy Klobuchar just a short time ago.


SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN): I think that all of us believe the evidence is there. So I just think it's nuance of how you answer this. But for me and my colleagues, we've got to look at all the evidence. You may decide on five counts it's impeachable and one it isn't. You have to look at everything.

But the point is that, as a former prosecutor, when I look at this, I consider these documents smoking guns. I've said that many times. And it just keeps getting worse.


CABRERA: Leyla, do people you've talked to agree with her?

LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, listen, let's go to the candidates first. They've been bringing this up, whether they are being asked about it or not. Senator Warren actually took it one step further, saying that she

believes that impeachment -- there's enough evidence to convict right now in the Senate.

Congressman Beto O'Rourke just said, I've been calling for impeachment for quite a while.

Then you have Vice President Biden, who took the opportunity and got pretty worked up when he called Trump unhinged and said it's not a conflict of interest for his son, Hunter Biden, to serve on the board in Ukraine.

So those are a few of the highlights from candidates.

Let's talk voters. I've been talking throughout the week with voters about the impeachment issues.

We're right now at the SEIU summit. So know your audience, a bunch of labor unions and workers here that applaud any time the impeachment push is brought up.

But I want you to hear when I've asked voters about actual decision making for 2020 and how the impeachment issue will play out. Listen to what they said.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Some people say it will affect the 2020 congressional elections. I don't know, but even if it does, I think it's come to the time where it's a moral issue now. I think we have to do it no matter what the consequences are.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The impeachment push is a made-up thing. He has proven that time and again. The Democrats, I'm sorry to say, are poor losers, and they just cannot give it up.


SANTIAGO: So interesting to see how this plays out among Republicans and Democrats.

We spoke to Trump supporters who are attending some of these events to protest the candidates and really focusing in on saying, don't impeach, whereas Democrats, many of them, are saying, it's about time -- Ana?

CABRERA: OK. Leyla Santiago on the campaign trail for us. Thank you.

Get ready for what could be a make-or-break moment in the race for 2020. The fourth Democratic presidential debate is coming to CNN live from the battleground state of Ohio. Will one candidate break away from the pack? Find out at the CNN and "New York Times" Democratic presidential debate. It's Tuesday, October 15th, at 8:00 p.m. Eastern. Get it here on CNN.


We'll be right back.


CABRERA: This just into CNN. A new sign that nuclear talks between the U.S. and North Korea are at an impasse. After 8.5 hours of discussion today in Stockholm, the North Korean delegation said talks had broken down and blamed the U.S. for, quote, "not bringing anything to the negotiating table."

State Department officials, however, disputed that characterization, saying the U.S. previewed a number of new initiatives, building on the president's past meetings with Kim Jong-Un. U.S. officials expect to return to Stockholm in two weeks to continue discussions.


Ever wonder what world leaders are thinking when Trump takes off on a rant? We have some ideas, next.


CABRERA: Do you ever wonder what world leaders are thinking sitting next to Trump during impeachment mania?

Here's Jeanne Moos.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): From the moment President Trump touched the Finish president's knee.

TRUMP: Finland is a happy country.

MOOS: Talk about a knee-jerk reaction. We knew this world leader was in for a doozy of a visit, a visit overshadowed by impeachment.

TRUMP: Quid pro quo.

He's a low-life.

Shifty Schiff, who should resign.

MOOS: President Sauli Niinisto seemed resigned --

TRUMP: Listen to this one, President.

MOOS: -- even amused at what a Finnish newspaper later called the "circus Trump."

TRUMP: Look at all the press that you attract. Do you believe this? That's very impressive.


MOOS: What was the Finnish president thinking? "Beam me up, Scotty." "Me trying to get the check, my dad yelling at a waitress."

TRUMP: The enemy of the people.

There were those that think I'm a very stable genius.

MOOS: Imagine President Niinisto's postcard home: "Greetings from the White House! Home of the stable genius."

(on camera): Some viewers even took to Twitter to say "sorry."

"Dear Finland, I apologize on behalf of sane Americans."

Any leader who meets with President Trump these days can expect to be sucked into the impeachment whirlpool.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison became a character witness.

TRUMP: I've had conversations with many leaders. They're always appropriate. I think Scott can tell you that. Always appropriate.

MOOS: Finland's president never expected his joint press conference to feel like a scene out of "Taxi Driver."

TRUMP: Are you talking to me?

ROBERT DE NIRO, ACTOR: Are you talking to me?

MOOS: And when a reporter talked to President Trump too much --

TRUMP: We have the president of Finland. Ask him a question. Ask this gentleman a question. Don't be rude.

MOOS: When the reporter did ask the Finnish president a question, President Trump cut in.


NIINISTO: I think the question is for me.

MOOS: Imagine being the one translating this encounter.

TRUMP: You know, there's an expression, he couldn't carry blank strap. I won't say it, because it was so terrible to say.

MOOS: How do you say "jockstrap" in Finnish?


MOOS: Now we're finished.

Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.


CABRERA: Just sit with that for just a second.


So here we are. Democrats escalating the impeachment fight. Democrats are seeing a familiar technique from this White House, stonewalling. So what are they going to do about it? We'll discuss.

Stay with us. You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.


CABRERA: Good evening. I'm Ana Cabrera, in New York.

We're following fast-moving developments out of Washington. Let's get you up to speed.

Right now, the White House is drafting a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, vowing not to cooperate with any requests for Ukraine-related documents, unless and until the full House votes to authorize the impeachment inquiry. Pelosi isn't ruling it out but says there's no rule that requires it.

And now the subpoenas are flying. The White House has been issued one, also the secretary of state, who missed a deadline for documents just last night.

And what is the president doing all the while? He's unveiling yet another explanation for why he's been asking Ukraine to investigate a potential political rival, Joe Biden.



TRUMP: I don't care about Biden's campaign. But I do care about corruption. His campaign, that's up to him. Politics, that's up to them. I don't care about politics.