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GOP Senators Criticizing Trump; Trump Suggests Own News Network; Cracks In Trump's GOP Support Emerge Amid Impeachment Saga; Volker Says Giuliani Was Giving Trump "Negative" Ukraine Info; Trump Cites Corruption, Not Politics, In Ukraine Request; The Presidential Playbooks On Impeachment. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired October 5, 2019 - 20:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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

And, tonight, we're beginning to see some cracks in President Trump's Senate Republican support, as the impeachment saga continues to escalate. Just in to CNN tonight, this reaction from Republican Senator Susan Collins of Maine. Quote, "I thought the president made a big mistake by asking China to get involved in investigating a political opponent. It is completely inappropriate."

Now, she joins a small group of Republican senators, including Mitt Romney and Ben Sasse, who have been criticized by the president and are criticizing this president. Criticizing him for asking foreign powers to investigate his political rival, Joe Biden. The president, seemingly, spent his entire day tweeting attacks against Romney, at one point referring to him as a pompous expletive. More on that in just a moment.

But, first, the importance of the Republican criticism. The math. You need 67 senators to impeach and remove a president. Democrats and two independent allies hold 47 seats, meaning they need 20 Republicans to defect for the two-thirds vote.

But the cracks aren't just showing up in Congress. Even one of the president's staunchest defenders, on air and online, Fox's Tucker Carlson, says Trump's Ukraine call was inappropriate. Adding, some Republicans are trying but there's no way to spin this as a good idea.

Let's get right to CNN's Jeremy Diamond at the White House. Jeremy, all of this comes as the White House indicates it won't cooperate right now with the request to hand over documents to Congress.

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: That's right. The White House counsel's office is, indeed, drafting a letter to the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, that, essentially, says they don't feel compelled to comply with any of these document requests, until the House members take this impeachment inquiry to the vote -- to a vote on the House floor. Essentially, voting to formally open this impeachment inquiry. That's something Nancy Pelosi says that she does not have to do, despite the fact that it has been a precedent, in some past impeachment inquiries.

What we do know, though, is the White House sees this as a political opportunity as well. They would love to see those moderate Democrats, those Democrats who won in 2018 in Trump districts, take a vote on this impeachment inquiry. And that's something that they've also been fundraising off of in recent weeks. We already saw the Trump campaign, in the first 48 hours of opening that impeachment inquiry, raise $8.5 million.

CABRERA: And, in the meantime, let's talk more about the president's tweet storm against Mitt Romney.

DIAMOND: That's right. We also have this development, this continuing saga between the president and Republican senator Mitt Romney, after Senator Romney, yesterday, said that it was appalling for the president of the United States to ask China to investigate his political rival, Joe Biden. We now have the president firing back. In a series of tweets, he calls Senator Romney a pompous ass. And he also is now calling for the impeachment of Senator Romney.

So, by the president's logic there, it is not acceptable. It is not an impeachable offense to ask your foreign governments to investigate your political rivals. But it is to criticize the president for doing exactly that.

But the president here is sending a clear message to any Republican who would step out of line with his position on this Ukraine matter. However, as we are seeing now, Senator Romney is not the only Republican senator to be criticizing the president. We also saw Senator Collins say it was completely inappropriate for President Trump to ask China to investigate Joe Biden -- Ana.

CABRERA: Jeremy Diamond at the White House for us. Thank you for that update.

Joining us now, CNN Political Commentator and former Clinton White House Press Secretary, Joe Lockhart; and CNN Political Analyst, and Washington Bureau Chief for "The Associated Press," Julie Pace. Julie, Mitt Romney, Ben Sasse, and now Susan Collins, another Republican senator telling the president, your conduct is not OK. You also have Senator Rubio suggesting today he's open to where the facts lead, in this impeachment probe. How significant is this?

JULIE PACE, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I think it's significant because Republicans have been loathe to criticize the president in any way for much of his tenure. But what you do see is this straddle from some of these Republicans. They're saying the conduct was inappropriate but they're not, necessarily, weighing in on whether it's impeachable. We've seen some other Republicans say exactly that; it was improper but not impeachable, trying to preserve a little bit of space.

The president, though, doesn't take any criticism well. So, the mere fact that these Republicans are saying that his behavior was wrong, clearly, by today's tweets, show that he's not going to take those cracks very well going forward.

[20:05:00]

CABRERA: Joe, what should Democrats on the Hill be reading into this?

JOE LOCKHART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, you know, Mitt Romney is not a surprise. And the president's response is not a surprise. It has really nothing to do with Mitt Romney. It has to do with sending a message to the rest of the Republican senators. If you cross me, I will treat you this way. I will try to destroy you, politically. And Romney is a useful tool for Trump in that way.

You know, I think Susan Collins is the most interesting one. Because she, in the past, has had strong support from Democrats in Maine and has put together a moderate coalition. And has had real trouble with the very conservative Maine Republicans. Post-Kavanaugh vote, she's not going to get very many Democratic votes. She needs those right- wing Trump main voters. And she still thinks she needs some (INAUDIBLE) voters. So, she's stuck.

I still think she will do what she normally does, which is express concern and then vote with Trump. But she is the most interesting, particularly because she's in cycle. She has to face the voters next year.

CABRERA: Right.

LOCKHART: Mitt Romney doesn't.

CABRERA: And it's, like, 2024 or something.

LOCKHART: Yes, exactly. Exactly.

CABRERA: Do you see a, maybe, strategy developing here among Republicans which is, you know, call out the behavior but maybe not go so far as to say impeach? In fact, maybe say, don't impeach. Let the voters decide.

LOCKHART: Yes. I really think you've seen a hardening of strategies in the last few days on all sides. The Democrats have -- now are firmly in the we're moving forward because it is protecting the Constitution. The president is saying now, I did nothing wrong. I'd do it again. I -- you know, it was a perfect phone call. There's nothing wrong with it. No crime. It's a hoax.

Republicans on the Hill trying to sit in the middle, saying it was inappropriate. Many of them will say it's inappropriate. But it doesn't rise to the level of impeachment. You shouldn't impeach the president over that. They are hoping they can stay there.

But what Democrats and the investigation might prove is it's become very difficult as each revelation comes out about how deep and how many people were involved in this conspiracy. But there could - that's what they're going to try, I think, as a -- as a strategy.

CABRERA: Julie, the president calling out Romney, again, just within the last hour. He has been doing it all day. But here is the latest. Mitt, get off the stage. You've had your turn twice. And he linked a video of Romney's 2012 loss to President Obama. What does this tell you about the president's mindset tonight?

PACE: Well, I think Joe is right. You know, this isn't really about Mitt Romney. This is about sending a signal to other Republicans, that he's not going to let any criticism slide by quietly. I mean, to be clear, Romney, though he is pretty forceful in criticizing Trump's behavior, is still stopping short of saying that he thinks this is an impeachable offense. So, the president is trying to warn Republicans, those Republicans who know they look out at their own personal, political futures, and know that, at this point, polls show that Trump's standing with the Republican Party is extremely strong.

And so, they have to figure out how to maintain -- how to maintain that base, if they're going to start criticizing the president's behavior. I think we'll be watching those polls really closely in the -- in the weeks and months to come. If the president's support with Republican voters changes, then I think you will see this dynamic flip on its head. But that just isn't happening at this point.

CABRERA: Well, I will say, though, our latest CNN poll did show there was some additional support for impeachment of this president. And the group that is moving are independents and Republicans, in this latest CNN poll. Not significantly. Not like the majority of Republicans are saying they want him impeached. But there is some movement which we are going to continue to watch.

But I also want you guys to listen to what the secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, said just today in Athens, Greece, about this Ukraine scandal and claims of quid pro quo. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MIKE POMPEO: We wanted to make sure we were doing this with a government that was straight up. and would use that money for the things that it said it would use that money for.

Nations do this. Nations work together and they say, boy, goodness gracious, if you can help me with X, we'll help you achieve Y. This is what partnerships do. It's win-win. It's better for each of us. I don't -- I'm not offended when your prime minister asked me, can you -- can you help us with X. All right? It doesn't bother me a lick.

(END VIDEO C LIP)

CABRERA: Joe, is that how things are supposed to work? And is that what actually happened here?

LOCKHART: It's an -- actually, an absurd notion. What diplomats will talk about is people will do -- make moves to help each other's mutual interests. And sometimes their own interests. Sometimes, we will do something for a country in return for help on something else.

But you have to -- you know, what is that help? He's asking another country, who we have tremendous power over, that was invaded by the Russians and Crimea was annexed, to dig up or manufacture dirt on one of his political opponents, in return for doing what Congress had already appropriated, $400 million in military aid. It's -- so, the argument is ridiculous on its face.

[20:10:08]

But I think what you're really trying to see is Pompeo work his way out of this. He is the one character in this, among the cabinet secretaries, who still has political ambitions. He wants to be senator from his home state. And I think he's looking for a way out. And this, I think, was part of it, very much minimizing his role.

And you're going to see, I think, a lot of finger pointing. I mean, you know, Trump now, apparently according to some reporting, is blaming the Energy secretary for all of this. So, you know, it's a bit of a circular -- a circular firing squad. And it's how a lot of this information will come out.

CABRERA: Julie, on the subpoenas. Because now we know the Democrats have served a subpoena on the White House to turn over more documents, given this vitriol between president Trump and the Democrats. What incentive would the White House have, at this point at least, to make things any easier for Democrats by cooperating?

PACE: I think this is the central question that is facing this White House right now. Which is, do they cooperate and, if so, how fully? Because we've already seen Pelosi and Schiff come out and say, you know, if you don't cooperate, we will likely pursue an Article of Impeachment that focuses on obstruction of Congress.

So, the choice before this White House is, do you cooperate and risk putting forward information that is politically damaging? That is embarrassing? That looks bad for the president and others in the administration? Or do you, basically, hand Democrats their first Article of Impeachment? That's a very crucial decision. Right now, they seem to be leaning toward not cooperating. But they do need to know the reality that will likely follow that.

CABRERA: Julie Pace and Joe Lockhart, treat to have you both with us. Thank you.

PACE: Thanks.

CABRERA: Up next, how the impeachment saga is being covered on conservative outlets. And how that may play into the silence from most Republicans.

[20:12:00]

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CABRERA: Most Republicans aren't turning on this president. But is Fox News? One of its hosts, Tucker Carlson, has come out saying there is no defense for the president's Ukraine call. In a new op-ed he writes, along with his daily caller co-founder, quote, "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. Our leaders' 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."

Our Senior Media Reporter Oliver Darcy is here with us now. And, Oliver, is this a sign? Are cracks forming in Trump media? Or is there more here than meets the eye?

OLIVER DARCY, CNN SENIOR MEDIA REPORTER: I hesitate to get too far out ahead of ourselves. But this could be a sign of early, early cracks forming in this pro-Trump media space. It's certainly further than anyone else has gone on the conservative media universe. You know, they've been saying, much like the president's been saying, that this call was perfect.

That the real story is about Biden. You know, they have not really condemned this president. And so, to see Tucker Carlson come out and say this call was not appropriate; there's no good way to spin this, despite what some Republicans are trying to do, I found it quite astonishing.

Now, the other parts of the op-ed say, basically, that while this wasn't appropriate, impeachment is too far likely. And it's hard to make a case for impeachment. So, Tucker Carlson still defending the president, to some extent here. But it's still, you know, something that he is acknowledging. This call was not appropriate and that there's no good way to spin it.

CABRERA: Also, this was also an op-ed. It wasn't what he said in a monologue on his own show. And, you know, what Fox viewers are hearing is still something very different. Let's listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LAURA INGRHAM, HOST, FOX NEWS: Democrats are doing the equivalent, day after day of yelling fire in a crowded theater. And that theater is America.

TUCKER CARLSON, HOST, FOX NEWS: In a thousand different ways, the new president refused to bow. And for that crime, more than any other crime, he was punished. Most recently by the manufactured Ukraine scandal.

SEAN HANNITY, HOST, FOX NEWS: This important news and information will prove that the media mob has been and continues to be covering for Joe Biden and his son.

PETER NAVARO, WHITE HOUSE TRADE ADVISER: This is, simply, a coup de tate, an end run around the ballot box.

(END VIDEO CLIP) CABRERA: And that was just a small taste. Imagine hearing that day after day and hour after hour. Is that, do you think, one of the reasons why we aren't seeing more Republicans be critical of the president?

DARCY: I think, certainly. It's impossible, Ana, for me to come here, in a cable news segment, and tell you how untethered from reality Fox has become. I mean, it is a mirror image of the real world. They're -- it's not Trump that's guilty. It's Biden that's guilty of the crimes.

It's not the pro-Trump media that's spreading conspiracy theories. It's the mainstream media that's spreading conspiracy theories. It's not Trump that's a liar. He's the truth teller. It's Democrats who are lying you to. It is the mirror image of reality.

And so, I think that it's a large reason why Republicans are still sticking with this president. They're not really consuming the news like everyone else is. They're relying on outlets, like Fox, talk radio, hosts like Rush Limbaugh, who are giving them this distorted, manipulated version of -- you know, I don't even want to say a version of the truth. Another version --

CABRERA: It's alternative facts.

DARCY: It's -- yes, it's a whole different universe that they've built up. And a lot of people are stuck in that universe. And they've been told, don't listen to mainstream media outlets. Don't even listen to politicians. So, they won't probably be listening to people like Romney.

And I think that if you're a Senate Republican, you know that your base, your voters, are tuning into Fox. That's where they're getting their news. They're tuning into local talk radio shows and national talk radio shows. So, if you're up for election, why would you do something that's going to cause you to be excoriated on those media outlets? You'll probably rather avoid doing so. And you'd probably rather stay silent to avoid the scorn you're going to receive from these outlets, if you are to speak out.

CABRERA: What do you make of the president, earlier this week, talking about forming his own news network? Like state run media.

DARCY: It's, honestly, hard to tell if the president is being serious in this. I reached out to the White House to see if there were any details they could offer or anything outside the comments the president made.

[20:20:00]

The president, basically, lashed out at CNN, like he does on a regular basis. And said, we need to start our own news network to get the facts out around the world. And that was -- that was, effectively, it. He said they're seriously looking at it. But when I asked the White House spokesperson, a couple times I reached out and said, you know, do you have any more information to offer? Any details on this? I never, heard back. So, like with many things the president says, it's difficult to know if there's anything to his words.

CABRERA: OK. Oliver Darcy, as always, good to have you with us.

DARCY: Thank you, Ana.

CABRERA: Thanks for that.

President Trump called on Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden and released a transcript that proves it. And, yet, only four in 10 Republicans believe Trump mentioned Biden on his call with Ukraine. The Yale professor, who has literally written the book on tyranny, explains how far down the path America has gone toward undermining the very institutions our democracy relies on. Next. Live in the CNN Newsroom.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[20:25:00]

CABRERA: This week, after denial after denial from the White House and amid a mountain of evidence indicating otherwise, President Trump admitted openly to the very offense at the center of his impeachment battle, asking a foreign country for dirt on a political rival. And now, it's not just Ukraine, he's calling on China to investigate Democratic presidential candidate, Joe Biden. And, this time, he did so on the White House lawn.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: China should start an investigation into the Bidens. Because what happened in China is just about as bad as what happened with Ukraine. So, I would say that President Zelensky, if it were me, I would recommend that they start an investigation into the Bidens.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: Just a quick reminder, China is an authoritarian communist regime known for strict government control, where dissidents go missing, freedom of the press is restricted. This is how one Republican Senator Ben Sasse responded to the president. Hold up.

Americans don't look to Chinese commies for the truth. If the Biden kid broke law by selling his name to Beijing, that's a matter for American courts, not communist tyrants running torture camps. Sasse is one of the few Republican dissenting voices. Most Republicans have either backed the president or remained silent.

CNN contacted the offices of more than 80 Republican lawmakers in the House and the Senate to see if any were concerned about President Trump's call for China to probe Joe Biden. Not many responded. And just a handful expressed misgivings.

I want to bring in my next guest, Timothy Snyder. He's a Yale University professor and the author of "The Road to Unfreedom." He also wrote the book on tyranny, "Twenty Lessons From the 20th Century." Professor Snyder, so glad you could be with us. Thank you.

TIMOTHY SNYDER, PROFESSOR, YALE UNIVERSITY: Glad to be with you.

CABRERA: This is an important discussion. Look, without the support of 20 Republican senators, even if this president is impeached, he would not be removed from office. Based on what we know so far, regarding this Ukraine scandal, what we heard from the president on China, what is your message to lawmakers? Does this president pose a threat to democracy?

SNYDER: Well, it's very clear that he poses a threat to something much more fundamental which is the rule of law. Mr. Trump likes to talk about corruption. What corruption means is breaking the law on a grand scale. When you ask foreign leaders, when you send your minions around the world to collect information against domestic political opponents, that is corruption. It violates the law. It violates American law. But it also violates the spirit of what a democracy is all about, namely a fair competition between Americans for American political office.

CABRERA: What's your assessment of where we are right now?

SNYDER: We are in a very strange place where the president of the United States pursuing what he thinks of as corruption has done, perhaps, the most corrupt thing in the history of American politics. I mean, after all, making phone calls around the world and sending people around the world to pursue a political opponent in the name of corruption is like stealing all the money in the Federal Reserve in the name of preventing, I don't know, petty theft. I mean, the thing that you say you are against, you've just done and on a massive, massive scale.

Where we are, I think we're reeling. I think Americans need to look at the basic facts about this, and ask themselves, is there anything worse than this that can happen?

CABRERA: And when you talk about Americans looking at the facts, Americans aren't believing the facts. There is this new poll out. 40 percent of Republicans believe the president talked to the Ukrainian president about investigating Joe Biden. Only 40 percent of Republicans believe what the White House put out in the transcript from that phone call. What the president, himself, has admitted to. Why don't Republicans believe what the facts are?

SNYDER: Well, I mean, I would -- I would say, respectfully, that that number shows that a lot of Republicans have a healthy sense of right and wrong. And they simply can't believe that the president would have done something like that. And so, their first impulse is to say, well, that must be the other side's propaganda.

I mean, of course, as you say, not only did it happen, not only is the evidence abundant, the president is insisting to them, over and over again, that he did it. So, I would say we should probably give this some time. Because the instinct about what's right and wrong is the thing which tells people he couldn't have done that thing. But he did do that thing. CABRERA: I just wonder, though, if the president's war against the

media, the president's war on facts, is having an effect.

SNYDER: It's having an effect not just on us but on him. I mean, if this country is going to recover, it's going to recover on the basis of a lot more journalistic work than we have right now. We're hanging on by our teeth, thanks to the work of a couple thousand journalists. Without the journalists, we wouldn't know anything about this story.

But what this whole Ukraine scandal reveals is that Mr. Trump, and the people around him, are beginning to believe in their own fictions.

[20:30:04]

The idea that the Democratic National Committee server, for example, is in Ukraine. That's really crazy time stuff and he's getting himself impeached on the basis of something which is a pure fiction.

And what's more interesting and more threatening is that he's trying to get foreign leaders to believe our fictions. That's a turn, you asked about democracy, that's a turn away from democracy into something much more frightening because it's personal authoritarian or totalitarian regimes where the leader defines what the truth is and people run around trying to make the world match his lies.

CABRERA: That's so interesting. What do you see as the role of conservative media in sort of propping up this president?

SNYDER: I think we've got a big problem of political education, so I'm college professor. If I'm giving a midterm, in a week or two, my students will know exactly when. And if one of them cheats, and I catch him cheating and I say, it's OK, I'll lie about it with you. Hey, let's both lie about it. That's a problem in his education. This is a situation we're facing.

Mr. Trump knew perfectly well that Russia intervened on behalf of his campaign. He said as much. And yet, the response of many leading Republicans has been to say, don't worry. That's all right. For three years, we'll just lie with you in public about it. What lesson was Mr. Trump to learn? Of course, the lesson he learned was that, it's OK for foreign countries to intervene. It's OK for foreign countries to be on your side. Why not solicit more of it?

I think that's the role that they've played thus far. They've created this system where it seems OK for him to do what he's doing. I think it would be a good time for them to stop.

CABRERA: The Russian president was asked this week about concerns that Russia might interfere in the upcoming 2020 election and here's how he responded. I'm quoting. I'll tell you a secret. Yes. We'll definitely do it. Just don't tell anyone. That last part was in a bit of a whisper. But it seems like he's saying the quiet part out loud.

How significant is it for him to so openly go there? SNYDER: I think it's just part of Russia's general policy. Russia's general policy is to mess around enough in our elections that things that they like happen. And one of the things they like is that we're very uncertain.

Mr. Trump winning has helped them because he pursues their policies, but he's also helped them because he pursues this enormous uncertainty. So naturally, they're going to say we're going to intervene the next time around. Mr. Trump has basically said it is open season on American elections, so they'd be missing the bus if they didn't.

CABRERA: Timothy Snyder, it's great to have you with us. I really appreciate you taking the time. Thank you.

SNYDER: It's a great pleasure. Thank you.

CABRERA: And we'll be right back.

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[20:35:10]

CABRERA: A second U.S. diplomat entangled in the Trump-Ukraine controversy is expected to testify before Congress next week. Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the E.U. is one of several U.S. diplomats who sent texts, discussing the president's goals in Ukraine.

This week, those messages were handed over to the House lawmakers by Kurt Volker, the former U.S. Special Envoy to Ukraine after he spoke with impeachment investigators.

CNN Justice Correspondent, Jessica Schneider reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Former U.S. Special Envoy to Ukraine, Kurt Volker's opening statement to lawmakers obtained by CNN, details Rudy Giuliani's influence on President Trump's perception of Ukraine, as he tried to convince the president that Ukraine's new government was serious about stopping corruption.

Volker revealed that he met in late May with President Trump, who insisted Ukraine was a corrupt country full of terrible people. The president said, "They tried to take me down."

The president referring to a theory that it was Ukraine, not Russia, that interfered in the 2016 election. That has been debunked. Volker also released pages of texts that show how the Trump administration, with the help of Rudy Giuliani, was determined to push Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden and his son, as well as that debunked theory.

On July 25th, the day of Trump's phone call with Ukrainian President Zelensky, Volker texted Zelensky's aide, "Heard from the White House. Assuming President Z convinces Trump he will investigate, get to the bottom of what happened in 2016, we will nail down date for visit to Washington."

But Volker insisted in his statement, he never took part in an effort to encourage Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden, saying, "The suggestion that he would be influenced in his duties as vice president by money for his son, simply has no credibility to me. I know him as a man of integrity and dedication to our country."

But Volker's involvement in influencing Ukrainian policy is clear from this text in early August to Rudy Giuliani, "Hi, Mr. Mayor. Had a good chat with Yermak 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 advise Z correctly as to what he should be saying?"

The statement was supposed to lay out how Ukraine would pursue corruption investigations into the 2016 election and a company Hunter Biden was involved in. But that statement was never released.

On August 30th, the top American diplomat in Ukraine, William Taylor, tells Volker that the president has canceled his trip to Ukraine. The next day, Taylor texts Gordon Sondland, a prominent Republican donor and U.S. ambassador to the European Union, "Are we now saying that security assistance and White House meeting are conditioned on investigations?"

Sondland responds, "Call me."

SCHNEIDER: On September 9th, Taylor again brings up the point, "As I said on the phone, I think it's crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign."

[20:40:04]

Sondland texts back hours later, defending the president, "I believe you're incorrect about President Trump's intentions. The president has been crystal clear, no quid pro quos of any kind."

SCHNEIDER (on-camera): Volker also said in his opening statement that he didn't become aware that foreign aid to Ukraine was being held up at the same time he was connecting Ukrainian leadership aides with Rudy Giuliani. But Volker said he did not perceive those two issues to be linked in any way.

Jessica Schneider, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CABRERA: Bernie Sanders returning home after being hospitalized for a heart attack. When we expect him back on the campaign trail, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CABRERA: New tonight, Senator Bernie Sanders is back home after being hospitalized for a heart attack.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D-VT): How you doing?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi, Senator.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How are you, Senator?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How are you feeling?

SANDERS: Good. Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi, Jane.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi, guys.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You happy to be home?

SANDERS: Very.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[20:45:01]

CABRERA: The Democratic presidential candidate and his wife, Jane, arrived at their home in Vermont a short time ago.

The Senator spent two nights in a Las Vegas hospital after what doctors now confirm was a heart attack and he underwent a stent procedure. Sanders is still slated to participate in the CNN debate on October 15th.

A new sign tonight that nuclear talks between the U.S. and North Korea are at an impasse. After eight and a half hours of discussions 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 news 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.

In a classic follow the money story, an elite team of investigators works together to take down one of the most violent and dangerous Colombian cartels of the 1990s. It's the subject of a brand-new episode of the CNN series "Declassified."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Romero (ph) and I began interviewing the women. It was exclusively women that worked at these stores.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But they wouldn't make any statements or give up any information.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The women were petrified. As a prosecutor, I had seen people concerned about deportation. I'd seen people concerned about being charged with a crime. But the level of terror that I witnessed in these women was something I hadn't seen before. And it took all of our interviewing skills to get them to speak.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: Catch the CNN series, "Declassified" tomorrow night at 9:00 right here on CNN. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[20:50:33]

CABRERA: When it comes to the president's call with Ukraine, Trump says it isn't about politics, it's about corruption. We get a fact check now from Tom Foreman.

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Ana, the president's chief talking point that he just wants to stop corruption flies in the face of his now well-established tendency to utterly ignore corruption when his allies or friends are allegedly involved.

Take Israel. Trump has praised, encouraged, and supported Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu repeatedly, even a speculation over an indictment on bribery and breach of trust charges has loomed.

In Russia, Trump has defended and admired President Vladimir Putin repeatedly despite American intelligence forces saying definitively that the Russians interfered in the 2016 election and despite long- standing accusations of corruption, brutality and even murder against Putin's regime.

Trump has said incredibly kind things about North Korea's Kim Jong-un who heads one of the five most corrupt governments on the planet, according to the World Economic Forum.

In China, the communist party has long been accused of corrupt dealings, political and economic cronyism, human rights abuses, and much more, and yet, Trump has invited them, amid trade negotiations, to help investigate a potential Democratic rival, Joe Biden, and his son using vague and bombastic language.

And, of course, he's asked Ukraine to do the same. Even though that country has long struggled with its problems of corruption.

Here in the states, similar story. Right now, top members of Trump's team are being investigated for their roles in what many political watchdogs say is a clear case of corruption, not to mention all those allegations that Trump is using the White House to push his private business that he's hiding something in his tax returns he refuses to release, and that he stonewalls every single effort to investigate anyone close to him for, yes, alleged corruption. Ana?

CABRERA: Tom, thank you.

Coming up, a look back at how past presidents have stared down impeachment.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) RICHARD NIXON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: People have got to know, whether or not, their president is a crook. Well, I'm not a crook.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[20:55:19]

CABRERA: Nixon during Watergate, Clinton during Lewinsky, two presidents, two famous declarations and one strategy. Deny, deny, deny.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NIXON: I have never obstructed justice, and I think, too, that I could say that in my years of public life that I welcome this kind of examination because people have got to know whether or not their president is a crook. Well, I'm not a crook. I've earned everything I've got.

BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I want you to listen to me. I'm going to say this again. I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Ms. Lewinsky. I never told anybody, it's a lie, not a single time never.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: We know what happened next, Nixon lost his presidency. Clinton was impeached, because they lied. Fearful that the truth would undermine the office.

Fast forward to today, we're seeing a much different strategy from another president in crisis. Just say what you did out loud, double down, don't apologize, and then maybe people will think, well, how bad could it really be?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There was nothing done wrong. It was perfect. The conversation was perfect. It couldn't have been nice.

I think you should ask, actually, that was the second conversation. I think you should ask for the first conversation also.

This is about corruption. And if you look and you read our constitution and many other things, I have an obligation to look at corruption. I have an actual obligation and a duty.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: Everything is perfect he said, except maybe the newest impeachment polling. And it shows Americans are more eager to impeach Trump now than they were at similar points in the Clinton and Nixon impeachment sagas.

Tim Naftali is a CNN presidential historian, former director of the Nixon presidential library.

Tim, as always, it's good to see you, especially to put these things in context.

And here we go, everyone knows, you know, Nixon's, I am not a crook, line. I heard you say this week that Trump publicly saying, you know, Ukraine and China should investigate Biden is essentially like him saying, I am a crook. Where does that put us?

TIM NAFTALI, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Well, it shows -- well, first of all, it's been Trump's approach -- President Trump's approach since he was a candidate, which is to immunize the public about his amorality and his approach to the office of the presidency.

Richard Nixon was a student of the presidency. He loved history and he had a vision of what Americans and he expected of a president. Now, he fell short of that. He didn't want the public to know the gap between what he thought they expected from a president and the reality of Richard Nixon.

So when the public began to realize the difference between the real Richard Nixon and the ideal president, it really undermined his credibility with the public.

Donald Trump, on the other hand, Donald Trump says what you see is what you get. And by saying -- you know, Richard Nixon said Americans, you don't want a crook as your president. I am not a crook. Donald Trump is saying Americans, you understand me, you know what I do, you know the enemies I'm fighting. I am corrupt.

But you don't really care, do you? Because what's more important to you is that I stay in office. These are fundamentally different approaches not only to defense, but to the defense against an impeachment inquiry. But they're different visions of the presidency.

Donald Trump has, from the start, reworked the presidency so it's all about him.