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CNN TONIGHT

Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT) Is Interviewed About What House Democrats Are Going To Do After Trump's Refusal To Comply With Congress; White House Battles With Congress' Impeachment Inquiry; Nixon Articles Of Impeachment; President Trump Not Cooperating With The Impeachment Inquiry; White House Shifts Tone To Defiance In Impeachment Battle; New Polls Show Growing Support For Impeachment Inquiry. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired October 8, 2019 - 22:00   ET

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


[22:00:00]

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: And one of the lyrics is the men who hold high places, men or women, must be the ones who start mold a new reality closer to the heart.

We are at our best when we look for what brings us together even in impeachment, even at a time like this, be your best, and that means being good to others.

Thanks for watching. "CNN TONIGHT" with D. Lemon right now.

DON LEMON, CNN HOST: I'm going to let that little slight slide. Ok.

CUOMO: The truth hurts, brother.

LEMON: Well, I'm surprised you didn't say your face is funnier than me. But that is the truth.

CUOMO: I see what you took away from my message.

LEMON: You know, there's a lot to delve into when it comes to this message. Personally, I have always admired Neil Cavuto. I think he's a straight shooter. I think he's one of the best interviewers on television, and I think that he's, you know, a good guy.

I was going to say underserved over there because I would actually like to see more of him but I think he's like on all day on the weekends. Right? So I think he's a good guy. I think his message is right, but we have to -- and he's right about Rachel. He's right about other folks. He's right about even, you know, some of the folks at Fox News, who I know, who I disagree with.

I think that if I was really in a jam or in a bind, honestly, I think I could call Sean Hannity and say, I need some help, and I think he would do it. You know, he spends a lot of time talking about us and criticizing. I think he could spend more on the president and on his own folks, but that's neither here nor there.

I do think -- I don't disagree with Ellen, and because you know me, listen, you're friends with everyone. You know, you've got Trump guys who you're friends with. You've got people would don't like Trump. You've got Clinton. You're friends with everyone like me. I have the same thing.

Believe it or not, I have Trump supporters who are friends of mine, and I'm friends with them. We may argue more than we did before, but we're still friends. Some of them who have gone to the alternative universe side, I choose not to spend as much time with them.

But we have to remember when we, yes, Ellen does have a platform, and I respect her very much, and I say this with the best of intentions. We have to remember that we don't speak for everyone because while Ellen can sit in that position and sit next to George W. Bush, there are people who did not believe in weapons of mass destruction, and their loved ones went off to war, and they died because of what they believed was a false pretense war.

They may not be able to be friends with George W. Bush or someone who supports him. And so, they would not want to sit next to him at a football game or anybody else, and you must respect that as well.

In this day and age when you have alternative universe, when you have a president who is using the weapons of the government to stop a legitimate investigation, using it against people, discriminating against people, transgender people and on and on, there are people who just cannot be friendly and cannot put on a false face for someone who is doing something like that.

So while I understand the broader message, Ellen's message and Neil Cavuto's message, I also understand the times that we're in right now, and these are very trying and different times, and I can understand why people are frustrated, and they may not want to have anything to do with any of it because it's not coming from a place of authenticity.

CUOMO: Yes, look, I don't think Bush to Trump are apples to apples. I think if she were sitting next to President Trump at the Cowboys game --

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: That would be a different story.

CUOMO: She would have a different thing to deal with.

LEMON: Right.

CUOMO: Because this president isn't simply about intelligence and whether it was misleading because at the end of the day, everybody in America was looking to go kill somebody anyway after what happened in 9/11 whether it was the right place or not.

And look, I remember covering that. I remember how the American people turned against us because we were questioning the intel at the time. And this president is pushing on different buttons than George W. Bush ever even considered pushing. LEMON: And people -- a lot of people lost their jobs. Ask Bill Maher

about that. Ask the Dixie Chicks. Ask a whole bunch of people. So, these aren't the first divisive times that we've been in.

CUOMO: True.

LEMON: And, you know, the president was the leader of the free world. He was a big part of that. I happen to respect the man greatly. I think he does. He's doing great things. He did fantastic things when it comes to aids in Africa and for aids in general, and I think he's done some really good things. But there were also some really controversial things that happened on his watch. But under --

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: No question, but it's like that in every presidency.

LEMON: That was my next sentence. It's like that under every single president.

CUOMO: Yes. It's like that. But this guy, this president is different.

LEMON: Is different.

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: And what he --

LEMON: We agree with that.

CUOMO: What he is doing is different. Now at the time, I remember with George W. Bush, people were like, boy, he's brought down the presidency. This guy doesn't have the vocabulary. He doesn't have the level of erudition. Everything is relative. Now he's looking pretty good compared to what you have in the White House in terms of his personal qualities.

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: He believes he's always (Inaudible) He's never a mean, vindictive.

CUOMO: That's right. He's not a mean guy. He had a decency to him.

LEMON: He's a very decent person. He comes from a very decent, good family. He has a very decent and good -- I hate to keep using that word -- and good marriage. He cared about his family. He loves his wife. They love each other. You saw the affection.

[22:05:01]

And he had -- there was an emotion. And he was vulnerable. Listen, I'm sure he did the best that he could under the circumstances.

CUOMO: True. And he had gone through hard times in his life. LEMON: But that is -

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: He was God-fearing. He found his faith as a function of his flaws. You know, he had a lot going on where you check boxes --

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: That was a whole -- that was a world ago, that was a whole lifetime ago.

CUOMO: I remember when --

LEMON: I go the to run, though --

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: I remember when Bush came into it, and he was seen as the guy who connected with the regular people better than Al Gore could, and that was a huge part of that --

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: That's where Joe six-pack came from, right?

CUOMO: That's exactly right. That's exactly right.

LEMON: Well, we agree on some things and we disagree on others.

CUOMO: Well Neil Cavuto was right. We both agree on that.

LEMON: Yes, he was right that you are funny.

CUOMO: Err than you. Don't forget that part. Don't forget that part. I love you. Have a good show.

LEMON: This is CNN TONIGHT. I'm Don Lemon.

A huge turning point. As the impeachment inquiry barrels full speed ahead, it looks like this. It looks like this is war. The White House is in an epic battle with Congress, doubling down on its strategy, and that strategy is to stonewall. That strategy is to obstruct. That strategy is to refuse to cooperate in any way.

It's right there in black and white. In the letter the White House sent to Nancy Pelosi and the chairs of the intel and the foreign affairs and the oversight committees. They sent it just tonight.

The absurd -- and I mean absurd claim that the president has been left with no choice, OK? Remember that. No choice, those two words. Going on to refuse to participate in what they claim is a partisan and unconstitutional inquiry. No choice. No choice. Really?

The President of the United States claiming he has no choice but to stonewall and to obstruct in the face of lawful inquiries from Congress. Why does this president always see himself as a victim? He's the president of the United States, arguably the most powerful person on the planet. Why does he always see himself as a victim? He has everything. Is he really a victim?

And he's putting that out there to people who have no reason to feel victimized. Everybody is a victim. I'm a victim.

No one forced him to make that call to the president of Ukraine. No one forced him to do it. He had a choice. No one forced him to ask a foreign government to interfere in the 2020 election. He had a choice. No one forced him to do it again and to do it out loud, when he asked China to interfere, standing right on the White House lawn.

He made the choice to abuse the power of his office, and now he is refusing to cooperate with Congress -- with Congress' investigation. He's a victim. He had no choice.

But Congress is fighting back with subpoenas for Ambassador Gordon Sondland, a millionaire Trump donor, to turn over documents on the Ukraine call by Monday and to appear in person on Wednesday.

That after the State Department ordered the ambassador not to testify as scheduled. And this is important. Listen. They did so after consultation with the White House counsel's office. You know what that is? That is a clear sign that the White House is calling the stonewalling shots here.

It's got to make you wonder. Think about this. Why are they willing to risk a charge of obstruction a potential article of impeachment, to keep Ambassador Sondland from testifying? Why are they willing to do all of that? You got to wonder that.

Nancy Pelosi making exactly that point in her statement tonight, and I quote here. It says, "The White House should be warned that continued efforts to hide the truth of the president's abuse of power from the American people will be regarded as further evidence of obstruction."

And as the battle rages between Congress and the White House, the president is up to his old tricks again. Here's what he's trying to do. He's trying to discredit the whistleblower with a charge that he or she is politically motivated and reportedly had a professional tie to a 2020 Democratic candidate.

But here's the thing. When I always say don't get distracted, don't fall for the OK-doke, OK-doke.

Here's the thing. The intel community inspector general, who mentioned in his report that the whistleblower has what he called arguable political bias.

[22:09:53]

He went on to say in the very next sentence -- and I quote -- "such evidence did not change my determination that the complaint relating to the urgent concern appears credible, particularly given the other information the intelligence community inspector general obtained during its preliminary review."

In other words, the claims checked out. And in the face of all this, we're learning more tonight about what the whistleblower saw and what the whistleblower heard.

A source telling CNN that the whistleblower wrote a memo describing the reaction of the White House official who listened to the Ukraine call. That official calling the conversation, quote, "crazy and frightening," leaving the official, quote, "shaken."

Those are not words that you'd expect to hear from a member of the administration describing the president's call with a foreign leader. And it sounds an awful lot like there are people serving in the White House right now who are frightened by the president's behavior.

But one of the president's most reliable defenders, the man who seems to have forgotten all about then-candidate Trump calling him a disgrace and a nutjob -- someone calls you a disgrace and a nutjob, remember that. He seems to have forgotten that -- and that is the Senate judiciary chairman Lindsey Graham.

He says he'll invite Rudy Giuliani to speak to the committee about Ukraine. I bet that won't be behind closed doors because Senator Graham is handing the president's attorney a golden opportunity to broadcast his conspiracy theories and disinformation in defense of a president who is refusing to cooperate with Congress. You know what? Lindsey Graham sure has changed his tune since the Clinton impeachment.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): Article three of impeachment against Richard Nixon, the article was based on the idea that Richard Nixon, as president, failed to comply with subpoenas of Congress. The day Richard Nixon failed to answer that subpoena is the day that he was subject to impeachment because he took the power from Congress over the impeachment process away from Congress, and he became the judge and jury.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Where is that Lindsey Graham? Was he like snatched by the invasion of the body snatchers? Did the body snatchers get him? Who was that guy?

Then there's Trey Gowdy, who sources tell CNN will work with the White House as outside counsel. Trey Gowdy, the former congressman, who felt really, really strongly about anybody withholding information and documents from Congress. Well, he felt strongly when he thought Democrats were doing it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FMR. REP. TREY GOWDY (R-SC): The notion that you can withhold information and documents from Congress no matter whether you're the party in power or not in power is wrong. Respect for the rule of law must mean something irrespective of the vicissitudes of political cycles.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: If they're watching, I wonder if the sheets are like, my God. You guys aren't embarrassed of that? Trey Gowdy, of course, went on to chair the Benghazi committee. Remember the multiple investigations that went into Benghazi that ultimately turned up nothing. Remember those? And the millions of dollars that were spent turned up nothing.

And then there's another familiar face from those hearings. Then- Congressman Mike Pompeo, who sure had a lot of complaints about not getting documents from then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. MIKE POMPEO (R-KS): I will tell you the record we've received today does not reflect that. It simply doesn't. We've read the e- mails. We've read everything that we could get our hands on. It's taken us a long time together. But I will tell you, you just described all of this information that you relied upon, and it doesn't comport with the record that this committee has been able to establish today. We don't know exactly who help meeting with them.

(CROSSTALK)

HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER UNITED STATES SECRETARY OF STATE: Well, it would be helpful --

POMPEO: It would have been one of the -- one your State Department employees, Madam Secretary. I don't know which one. Perhaps you could enlighten us, or we could get the records we need to do so.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Where is that Mike Pompeo? But when it comes to giving information to Congress now or even answering questions, here's Mike Pompeo dodging.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. Secretary, why did you instruct Ambassador Sondland not to testify.

POMPEO: Thank you all. Good morning.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[22:14:59]

LEMON: Nothing to say there. The president marshaling his Republican defenders as the battle rages with Congress, and taking to Twitter, of course, Twitter, to say he would really love to send Ambassador Sondland to testify, but he can't. He's the president, right? Couldn't he do it if he really wanted to? Blaming what he calls a kangaroo court where Republicans -- Republicans' rights have been taken away. Now, where have I heard something like that before? I'd really love to cooperate, but --

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Would you be willing to speak under oath to give your version of --

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: One hundred percent.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you going to talk to Mueller?

TRUMP: I'm looking forward to it actually.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To reach a higher standard you would do it under oath?

TRUMP: I would do it under oath.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, would you still like to testify under oath to special counsel Robert Mueller, sir?

TRUMP: Thank you. I would like to.

I would love to speak because we've done nothing wrong. I would love to speak. I would love to go. Nothing I want to do more. I would love to speak. I would love to. Nobody wants to speak more than me. In fact, against my lawyers because most lawyers, they never speak on anything.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you more likely to sit an interview now?

TRUMP: My lawyers are working on that. I've always wanted to do an interview because, look, there's been no collusion.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: The president sure is learning the lessons from the Mueller investigation, hasn't he? And there was another Twitter exchange today that you might have missed. The president who almost three years into his term still can't quit Hillary Clinton, tweeting that she should run again and steal the race from Elizabeth Warren.

Clinton's very succinct reply, "don't tempt me. Do your job."

The president waging war on Congress' impeachment inquiry. So, what are Democrats going to do about it? I'm going to ask Congressman Peter Welch. He's on the intel and oversight committees, and he's next.

[22:20:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: The White House and the president making it crystal clear where they stand on the impeachment inquiry in a defiant letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. The administration refusing to cooperate and claiming the inquiry is unconstitutional. Let's discuss now with Congressman Peter Welch, who is on the House

Intel and Oversight Committees. Thank you, Congressman. I appreciate you joining us. Good evening to you.

REP. PETER WELCH (D-VT): Thank you.

LEMON: President Trump is telling you and fellow Democrats exactly what he thinks of your impeachment inquiry, and guess what? He's not complying. So, what are you going to do about it?

WELCH: Well, first of all, that is his -- that's his M.O., and we're not going to see him change that. And whether we're asking for documents or witnesses, he's going to stonewall.

And that, in and of itself, creates the question of an impeachable offense, and it goes not to the obstruction of justice issues that were in the Mueller report. It goes to the obstruction of Congress.

You know, we've got three branches of government, co-equal, and if there is no oversight authority in a Republican or Democratic Congress, then essentially you have a president who is beyond accountability, and that's what President Trump is saying.

He's saying that he will decide whether he deems it appropriate for the people's branch of government to do any oversight. And he's made it clear that he won't. He won't cooperate. He won't send witnesses. And obviously he's patently duplicitous on this.

When Ambassador Sondland flew here to come to our intel committee, was prepared to testify, the Trump White House said he couldn't. And then you saw President Trump say he would really like him to do it.

LEMON: Well, he did the same thing during the --

(CROSSTALK)

WELCH: So, the obvious --

LEMON: -- during the Mueller investigation. But, listen, the only surprise for me is that it took him so long to do it. I thought you would have gotten that letter much earlier and not at the, you know, at the 11th hour.

But I've got to ask you about part of the letter from the White House. And it reads, it says, "In the history of our nation, the House of Representatives has never attempted to launch an impeachment inquiry against a president without a majority of the House taking political accountability for that decision by voting to authorize such a dramatic constitutional step."

The House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has shown little interest in holding a vote to open an inquiry. Why not hold that vote if you believe this is right?

WELCH: There's two reasons. First of all, the president doesn't make the rules for the House of Representatives. That's the whole point here. We've got separate branches of government, and we do not have to take orders from the president. And it's really important that the House of Representatives not do that.

And could you imagine Lindsey Graham acceding to demands from the Clinton administration or Trey Gowdy from the Obama administration? So, this is political theater. That's one.

The second thing is our objective is in necessity, is that we go through this carefully and develop the evidence before we reach conclusions, and that's the methodical approach we're trying to take in the intelligence committee and of course oversight and foreign affairs because ultimately, in addition to Congress voting, this is going to be -- this is going to be something the American people have to participate in.

And the more we get the evidence out to them and the more, by the way, the press helps get the evidence out to them, the more they get involved and start influencing their members of Congress. So, no, here's the bottom line to the president. He does not have the right to establish the rules by which we proceed in the House of Representatives.

LEMON: OK. I get you. So, the U.S. ambassador to the E.U., Gordon Sondland, has been subpoenaed to testify next Wednesday after the White House abruptly blocked today's appearance.

[22:25:04]

So, what do you do if he doesn't show up next week? What are you going to do?

WELCH: Well, you know, you've got the point. Basically, if he doesn't show up, then we can go to court, and we can have this prolonged process, which is exactly what the Trump administration wants. They want to run out the clock.

So, at a certain point, I think we're going to have to make a decision whether to move forward on the issue of obstruction of Congress by the president for refusing to provide any witnesses, any documents that have been provided by all presidents when requested before him.

LEMON: All right. Congressman Welch, thank you for your time. I appreciate you coming on.

WELCH: Thank you.

LEMON: Both the Trump administration and House Democrats gearing up for a bitter impeachment battle. Does the White House have a legal argument for not complying, and what recourse do House Democrats have?

[22:30:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi hitting back at the White House. She says any efforts to hide the president's abuse of power will be considered evidence of obstruction.

Joining me to discuss now, John Dean, Douglas Brinkley.

Gentlemen, good evening. Good to see you. I just want to read this. This is from article three of the articles of impeachment drafted against Richard Nixon. It says, in his conduct of the Office of President of the United States, Richard M. Nixon has failed without lawful cause or excuse to produce papers and things as directed by duly authorized subpoenas issued by the committee of the judiciary of the House of Representative and willfully disobeyed such subpoenas. John, is this where we're heading now?

JOHN DEAN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, it might be, but it's not a very good place to go, Don. That happens to have been the weakest article against Richard Nixon. The committee barely got a majority. It was a 21-17 vote. Not all the Democrats actually voted against Nixon on that.

So it was a weak read, and a lot of members didn't even want to take it to the floor. They thought there were other powers that were stronger that they could use for contempt situations, but as I say, this might be where we're going as one of the articles if the House doesn't get their spine up and do something.

LEMON: Well, this letter, this White House letter, Douglas, dares the speaker, Nancy Pelosi, to hold an impeachment vote, but a senior administration official declined to say how the White House would cooperate with Congress if a successful vote was held. I mean lay this out for me. How necessary is this vote, and does the White House really needed to comply with the inquiry?

DOUGLAS BRINKLEY, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Well, look, that letter is the Trump White House declaring war on Congress. We are set up now for an epic battle between the White House and Congress. I mean, you know, we're looking now at, you know, the stonewalling of the White House. The Congress is going to have to fight back with subpoenas.

We're into an election cycle with 2020 going on right now. We're in a full-bore mess, but I think what helps the Democrats right now, is the evidence is on the table. The fact of the matter is Trump's conversation with Zelensky is of public record. The transcript is the equivalent of the tapes during the Nixon era. It's Trump in his own words making the quid pro quo deal.

And so the Congress now is just trying to figure out when they should act, how much information to get, how much cooperation they can get from State Department, CIA, and the White House, and other branches of government, but in the end here right now, we're heading in for impeachment, you know, is on the horizon, I'd say, in the next four weeks, Congress has to act.

LEMON: Has to act. You're not sure which are they're going to go now, right? Do you think they will do it?

BRINKLEY: I think they've got to act. And I think they have to do it this year. I'd say in four weeks, but maybe a little longer. It can't bleed into the holiday season, Don, where it's Christmas and everybody is watching Congress impeach the president. So you have, Thanksgiving might be a good marker. I don't think -- otherwise, it's just going to go on to being legal cases, and impeachment is political. Congress has every right on the evidence of the Zelensky call alone, let alone obstruction and other issues, alone to put forward article of impeachment.

LEMON: They've got to act essentially is what he is saying. Do you agree with that, John?

DEAN: Well, as I recall it, the Clinton impeachment, they did do it just before the holidays, and the trial was in early the next year. I think what they're going to do, Don, is they're going to try to build the strongest case with the most evidence they can do in a reasonable amount of time. They know they're going to be stonewalled.

Why they're not really adopting and using their inherent powers of contempt, fining people, for example, for not showing up and making it a rule -- there not even such a rule in the House at this point. So they could put some fear in the White House by just adopting basic rules of the game, and they don't need the Republicans to do that. And it would be not unfair to the president, because he is playing the stonewall game. Anyway, I think end of the year is realistic.

[22:35:05]

LEMON: It was today that the articles of impeachment were written and drafted and put out for Bill Clinton, October 8th, correct? Yes. I've got to go, Douglas. Quickly.

BRIGGS: OK. Well, I was just going to say the difference is this is an election cycle. I mean Richard Nixon had won a big re-election in '72. So '73 and '74, the Democratic Party could build the case greater. And with Clinton in 1998, it wasn't a presidential election on the horizon. Right now this won't be fair to Joe Biden if it continues. What Trump's try to after is his biggest rival and it will just be, you know, Biden being remembered for Ukraine instead of being a state's person if this drags on well into 2020.

LEMON: Thank you both. I appreciate it.

The White House defiant tonight, but that is a big shift from releasing the rough transcript of the Ukraine call and allowing the acting DNI to testify. So why the change in strategy, and will it work?

[22:40:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: In a letter to the House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi, the White House counsel, Pat Cipollone, says that the Trump administration refuses to cooperate with the impeachment inquiry, calling it unconstitutional.

Joining me now to discuss is Frank Bruni, also Michael D'Antonio, the author of "The Truth About Trump." Amanda Carpenter, author of "Gaslighting America," why we love it when Trump lies to us. That is how that name of that book should be read all the time. Just like that, so --

AMANDA CARPENTER, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I like it, Don.

LEMON: Yes, I like it too. Thank you. I said it, I love it. So, good evening, everyone. Frank, I'm going to start with you. So, the plan for this White House -- we've seen this playbook before. It's very clear here, but what does this mean for the Democrats? Do you say that they have a big advantage if they handle this correctly? What do you mean by that?

FRANK BRUNI, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I think the White House is trying to throw as much dust into the air as possible. They're trying to make this about process and subpoenas and drag it out. They're trying to move this as far as possible from this moment when the public learned of this Ukraine call, saw the transcript, and the story was very, very simple.

Look, they have Trump dead to rights when it comes to this call. You read that transcript. The transcript that if anything is favorable to Trump because it came from the White House. And it is clear that what you have here is a president abusing his office to try to get a foreign government illegally involved in a U.S. election to do a hit job on his political rival.

It's all right there. And as soon as we have that, public opinion polls moved toward impeachment inquiry, toward impeachment, where they had not been there based on the kind of multi-tentacled sprawl of the Mueller report. The Democrats, if they can avoid multi-tentacled sprawl and keep this very tightly focused on that Ukraine call and that abuse of office, that is what the public is responding to right now. That's what they will continue to respond to unless it gets messy.

LEMON: And by the way, I said that it is unconstitutional. There is no indication there -- listen, Laura is going to be up in the hour after this, and she knows much more about the law than I do, but from I've heard, it is -- it is -- you know, what they're saying is wrong. I don't want to say not constitutional. It's a double negative. Listen, Amanda, I want to bring you in here. We've seen the president say he plans to cooperate with investigators before. This is from last May. Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I would love to speak. I would love to. Nobody wants to speak more than me. In fact, against my lawyers because most lawyers, they never speak on anything. I would love to speak. I would love to speak. I would love to go. Nothing I want to do more because we did nothing wrong. I would love to go. I would love to speak, but I have to find that we're going to be treated fairly.

(END VIDEO CLIP) LEMON: So he was talking about speaking with Robert Mueller, which he

never did. This morning the president claimed that he would love to send Ambassador Sondland to testify, but there's one key difference here. Mueller never subpoenaed the president. The Congress has now subpoenaed Sondland. Higher stakes here?

CARPENTER: Yes, because I mean what's happening now is an echo of the Mueller report. I think this is the reason it's resonating with public opinion and why you see people in support of the impeachment inquiry is because it's Russia all over again. The president has said the same thing about Russia as he did Ukraine with China. He is soliciting foreign interference to win an election, which, yes, is against the law. It is cheating to win.

And so what you see now, he's trying to get control over a process that he cannot control. The House is in charge of this, but he desperately wants to counterprogram it. So they're pushing this line which, you know, is not an explanation. It's not analysis, that this is just a hysterical reaction by the Democrats, who want to overturn the election, because they hate Trump.

Like this is the analysis that permeates the Republican universe right now. You can't not hear it 24/7. It's all they have, but when you put that central question to people, like Frank mentioned, should a president be able to cheat -- who signaled willingness to cheat to win an election be able to participate in another election? That gets very uncomfortable. It's hard to answer yes or no for Republicans.

And when you look at these clips of Marco Rubio and Joni Ernst, they can't answer the questions about this, and it just looks like they're dead inside, doesn't it? Like, they just don't even believe what they're saying. The light has gone out of their eyes, because they can't bring themselves to say, yes, this shouldn't happen because in their heart, they know what's right.

LEMON: Yes.

CARPENTER: But I think if it keeps getting put in front of their face, the microphones keep getting put in front of their face, they're going to have to get there.

LEMON: It's what we say, they're skurred (ph).

CARPENTER: You're so much more suffice.

LEMON: they are skurred, not scared, they skurred. This is Newsmax CEO and Trump friend Christopher Ruddy's take on impeachment. This is for you, Michael.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRISTOPHER RUDDY, NEWSMAX CEO: I believe it's a mortal threat to his presidency. He certainly should treat it that way. The number of people saying the president should be impeached is increasing, not significantly, but it's moving in a bad direction for the president. So I do think it should be treated very seriously. (END VIDEO CLIP)

[22:45:12]

LEMON: OK. So he actually said that to me on this show, the same thing, he thought it was a mortal threat. Trump's friend saying that. Does that sound about right to new?

MICHAEL D'ANTONIO, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: It does. And you know, Chris is a very good friend of the president's. He actually will speak up when he thinks something is awry and try to be an adult in the room with Donald Trump or on the phone with Donald Trump, but I think we all ought to step back for a moment and appreciate the grandeur of the way that Nancy Pelosi has played this.

This is a Speaker of the House who held her fire, who resisted, at least publicly, what her most rabid members were pushing for the better part of a year. And then when the moment arrived, she struck, and she did it with precision. And as Frank and Amanda have said, people understand this problem. They understand the Ukraine story in a way that they don't grasp emoluments, they don't grasp obstruction of justice so readily.

And so now we have a rerun of Russia. Russia, if you're listening, can you find those emails? Well, this is, Ukraine, if you want your $400 million to defend yourself from a Russian invasion, give me what I want.

LEMON: And there's also, China, if you're listening as well. Thank you all. I appreciate it.

There are new polls that spell bad news for the president as support for impeachment inquiry ticks up. And it's not just Democrats supporting it.

[22:50:00]

COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Welcome back. We have more on a major story tonight the White House refusing to cooperate with any part of the impeachment inquiry. Our friend Laura Coates is here now. She's hosting a special hour tonight the White House in crisis, the impeachment inquiry. Coming up right after this show at 1:00 p.m. Eastern. So, Laura, you know, that letter is pretty unambiguous. The White House is telling Congress, in no uncertain terms, no. What's your take?

LAURA COATES, CNN INTERNATIONAL LEGAL ANALYST: So, I mean, Don, tonight we are going to break down that very letter, because the White House sent it to the Democrats. They are refusing to cooperate with the impeachment inquiry. They say that it violates fundamental fairness and constitutionally mandated due process and all that is absurd completely.

Because first of all, how can it be the constitution gives the Congress the right to impeachment? But if you pursue impeachment, it's unconstitutional. Second they say that Congress is denying the president the right to cross examine witnesses which really means he can't confront the whistleblower the way he wants to. And make his case to the American people. This is a legal proceeding, it's a political one. And they are protections there in place if it does go to trial in the Senate.

And if this were a criminal case, Don, even like the president saying I want to sit in and hear a grand jury secret witness before the indictment has ever even been handed down. Which would be absurd to everyone. So, I'm going to talk to the man who literally wrote the book on impeachment. And also Congressman Ro Khanna from House oversight. Find out, what are the Democrats going to do now? What are their options now that Trump has declared war on their entire impeachment proceedings, Don?

LEMON: I don't know -- of you, you know, how we say it in a debate, you know, I invoked your name earlier, because I knew you would have the answer to the constitutional question. They said, this is unconstitutional. Putting that letter to the House speaker. And you going to delve into that. Very good stuff. We will see you in just a little bit. We'll be right back.

[22:55:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Three new national polls showing support for the impeachment inquiry is growing among Americans and you might be surprised who supports removing the president from office. I want to talk about this now. Larry Sabato is here, the director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia. Thank you, sir. A lot to get to in a short amount of time.

Let's start with the Washington Post that shows the majority of Americans support the launch of the impeachment inquiry. Something we have seen across several polls today. We know the president follows polls closely. What are these numbers telling you?

LARRY SABATO, DIRECTOR CENTER FOR POLITICS, UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA: Well, they're not final obviously, they're saying let's go forward and see what else is there. But I think it is significant that voters have moved significantly over a relative handful of weeks. They're paying attention, they're concerned about this. And that's good for the Democrats. At least preliminarily.

LEMON: Let's look at the party break down here. The Republican number almost three and 10. I mean, that is a huge jump from the last time, you know, they were asked. It's gone up more than 20 points.

SABATO: Yes. That was what interested me the most. Because if this is going to have any chance of succeeding, not impeachment, but conviction in the Senate. You are going to have to have Republicans moving very substantially in favor of impeachment and conviction. That's been President Trump's strength throughout his entire presidency. Keeping Republicans in line. Keeping his base strong, but some Republicans are actually again paying attention and some seem to want to go further than the inquiry?

LEMON: Yes. Let's talk about that, because close to one in five of those Republicans goes so far as to say the president should be removed from office. Considering the party has been in lock step with Trump. Is this surprising to you?

SABATO: Yes. I was surprised at that number. And all three of those polls showed Republicans moving in that direction. Not nearly a majority, not nearly enough to attract 20 or 20 plus senators, Republican senators in the Senate, but it's still significant. It means that maybe some of the never Trumpers who have converted to Trump are rethinking that.

LEMON: And there's a Quinnipiac poll had similar numbers. Independents were, you know, showing higher, but lower numbers for Republican. But clearly, Larry, moving away from the president. We'll see if that continues to happen as this moves forward. Larry Sabato, thank you very much. I appreciate you joining us.

SABATO: Thank you, Don.

LEMON: Thank you. And thank you for watching. Our live coverage continues with White House in Crisis: The Impeachment Inquiry with Laura Coates. Laura, what do you have in store?

COATES: Well, we are going to try to actually answer some of the questions that people are wanting to know about what is all this mean, where are we today?