Return to Transcripts main page
CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
The White House In Crisis: Impeachment Inquiry; President Trump Upset With Republican Defectors; White House Keep Its Decision Not To Comply With The Democrats' Inquiry; House Democrats Issued Multiple Subpoenas; George Conway Calls White House Letter 'Trash'; Anatomy Of A Lie. Aired 11p-12a ET
Aired October 9, 2019 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DON LEMON, CNN HOST: So, if nearly a fifth of our active duty military are women and almost half are minorities, would you know that by looking at this image? They should be represented.
Thanks for watching, everyone. Our live coverage continues now with the White House in crisis, the impeachment inquiry with Laura Coates. Laura, tell us what you got tonight.
LAURA COATES, CNN HOST: Thanks, Don. You know, let's get straight to the news, but actually I want to comment for a second on that photograph if I can. Because it's so important to think about the diversity in our armed forces. And we have right now at a time when the commander in chief is really being asked a number of questions, it would have been nice to have some representation there, wouldn't you think?
LEMON: Yes. It would have been nice to have some representation. And as I say you can't really tell the ethnicity if everyone is white, but I mean, it certainly does not make up what the -- our military, our men and women in uniform, what they look like.
We know that they are mostly minorities, and I think that the president of the United States, and especially our military leadership, should be keenly aware of that. They've got some work to do, and so does the president as well.
COATES: They do, and you know what? So does Congress. So does Congress.
This is a CNN special hour. It's the White House in Crisis: The Impeachment Inquiry. I'm Laura Coates, everyone.
I'm going to take you through the top headlines and the late-breaking news of the impeachment inquiry into Donald Trump.
Our headlines, a source telling CNN the president is going after Republican senators he sees as disloyal or even insufficiently supportive, calling Majority Leader Mitch McConnell up to three times a day with panicked demands to rally the troops. And one day after the White House declared war on the impeachment
inquiry, Democrats are launching their counter-offensive with what could be an avalanche of subpoenas.
That as a source tells CNN a few influential Democrats think it makes sense to hold a formal vote on the impeachment inquiry, something Speaker Nancy Pelosi, frankly, has been avoiding.
We'll get into all of it tonight with CNN Political Analyst, David Gregory, Legal Analyst and Impeachment Attorney Ross Garber, former U.S. Attorney, Preet Bharara, and CNN fact-checker Daniel Dale.
But let's begin with CNN's Sara Murray with the latest on a busy day in the impeachment inquiry.
SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: President Trump lighting up the phone lines to complain to Mitch McConnell about what he sees as disloyal Republicans. Trump's frustration over the impeachment inquiry --
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: The whole thing is a scam. It's a fix.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MURRAY: -- has him calling the Senate majority leader as many as three times a day, according to a person familiar with the conversations. And the president is warning McConnell that he's prepared to ramp up his attacks on Republican senators who criticize him.
A spokesman for McConnell called CNN's reporting false. But Trump already tried out this strategy on Utah Senator Mitt Romney, who called Trump's calls for foreign counties to investigate Joe Biden, quote, "appalling."
Trump shot back, calling Romney a fool, and other names that can't be repeated on television. A person familiar with the situation says Trump is also irritated with Republicans who have been slow to defend him. Leaving the task up to Trump and his administration officials.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: This is a con job. This is a con being perpetrated on the United States public and even the world.
MIKE POMPEO, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: I was on the call. I listened to it. It was consistent with what President Trump is trying to do to take corruption out. I found that to be wholly appropriate, to try to get another country to stop being corrupt.
MICHAEL PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: President Trump wanted -- President Trump wanted to make sure that Ukraine was advancing the reform agenda, reforming and ending corruption in their country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MURRAY: As the White House makes clear the administration plans to stonewall the House impeachment inquiry, Trump adding more fire power to his legal team today. Bringing on former Congressman Trey Gowdy as outside counsel to the president.
As a lawmaker, Gowdy took a very different view than the one the White House is now espousing about what Congress is entitled to.
(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)
MURRAY: Meanwhile, Democrats are plotting their next steps, threatening to subpoena associates of Rudy Giuliani and considering subpoenas for current State Department officials.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JIM HIMES (D-CT): Subpoenas will be received by all of the people that the Congress wants to talk to. They will ignore those subpoenas that they are --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MURRAY: A small but influential group of Democrats are also saying it may be time for the impeachment inquiry vote that House Republicans are demanding.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JOHN GARAMENDI (D-CA): It's time for us to put a vote on the floor, a resolution for the inquiry structured in such a way that it can move forward with full power of the Congress behind it. I think that's probably going to come in the next week or so.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MURRAY: It's a politically risky move, but some Democrats believe it could derail the White House line that the impeachment inquiry is invalid.
Democrats are also still negotiating about interviewing the whistleblower whose complaint set this impeachment saga in motion. As Trump keeps up his drumbeat of attacks --
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: We could have a spy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MURRAY: The whistleblower's attorneys put out a statement defending the person's apolitical nature, saying, "Our client has never worked for or advised a political candidate, campaign or party," and adding, "the whistleblower is not the story."
COATES: And Sara joins me now. Sara, you have some late-breaking news tonight on the latest Trump administration official to be called before Congress in this inquiry. What's going on?
MURRAY: That's right, the congressional committees they are leading this impeachment inquiry are going to speak to Fiona Hill, she is elated to appear behind closed doors on Monday. She was the president's top Russia's adviser.
She left the Trump administration in august and this is why these committees believe that they are actually going to be able to move forward with questioning her. You've seen the roadblocks they've hit when they're trying to question current employees of the administration, for instance, current State Department officials.
So now we're seeing Democrats tried to take another tactic and try to bring in people who had left the administration recently and Fiona Hill is among them. And obviously her job as the former Russia adviser is going to be particularly interesting to these folks on the committees.
COATES: Sara, there's a long list of former White House officials.
COATES: That list might be great. Thank you, Sara, for breaking the day's events down for us.
Joining me now to discuss all of these developments are Ross Garber and David Gregory. Hello to you both. David, I'm going to start with you. OK? Now you just heard Sara's report, and Trump is calling Speaker McConnell three times a day to get dirt on any Republicans that he thinks aren't loyal enough. Are we seeing signs of panic here?
DAVID GREGORY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think it's the playbook that the president has relied, which is, anybody who speaks out gets attacked. He takes on anyone, makes them an enemy right away even if they're in their party, it's a shot across the bow, so others don't try it. And it's worked pretty well.
I mean, here he is facing an avalanche of criticism about what he's done in Syria, leaving our allies, the Kurds, to be butchered by the Turks. And yet when it comes to impeachment, when it comes to any kind of threat to his legitimacy, Republicans stand by him.
And even though there are some Republicans who have spoken out, they've still been careful, and I think there is panic, that if they have a stonewall strategy, a fight Congress to end all strategy, they've got to make sure that they're not bluffing. And the Republicans and the Senate will be there at the end of the day.
COATES: You know, Ross, I'll turn to you. You get the idea here, first of all, that the Senate should be loyal to the president as opposed to, say, this little thing called the Constitution is in and of itself odd.
But also, tonight, McConnell's office is saying that it's categorically false that Leader McConnell never said anything like this. There haven't been any defections. Will this somehow, is this used to intimidate Republicans or are they going to be mad now that this reporting is out?
ROSS GARBER, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes. So, it does create this weird dynamic and it wouldn't shock me if that the president is actually trying to send a message to Republicans that they better stay loyal and that he can't afford defections in part because he can't.
He needs to be able to say that this is a total partisan effort by the speaker and the House Democrats, and if he starts losing Republicans, especially in substantial numbers, that argument goes away and he is in much more danger. So, he's got to -- he's got to work the Republicans.
COATES: But it's also the numbers game not just the idea of the air in the world, but it's also the notion that he's got numbers if the Senate became his jury in an impeachment proceeding.
GARBER: Yes, yes, for sure. And I'm not sure he's conceded yet that he's going to get impeached by the House. I still think he thinks he's got enough fight there left. But if he starts seeing Republicans defect in the House and then certainly in the Senate, he's got problems.
But you're right, at the end of the day, in an impeachment trial, the Senate, they're not just jurors, they're the people who make the decision, and he needs to hold onto those Republicans. They're also the ones who set the rules for how the trial goes.
COATES: Good point. You know, --
GREGORY: Right. But in this case it's interesting that you have speaker -- rather, Leader McConnell who said that they would have to go along with some kind of trial if he were impeached, but he's also said publicly the way you stop it is if you have a Republican leader like him who will stop it.
So, he's not sitting back and saying, I'm a potential juror here. He's saying that we will stop it. I think the other piece of this is the longer this goes on, the more discovery there is, the more people come forward, the more documents are provided, given that the White House provided the initial memo and notes from this initial call, the more public opinion can change and that can change the feelings of those Republicans in Congress.
COATES: Well, about that --
GREGORY: That's what I think the White House wants to shut down.
COATES: David, about that opinion, we've already seen support for the inquiry growing in opinion polls. A Fox News polls released today found that 51 percent of registered voters want Trump impeached and removed from office.
So how are you interpreting these polls? Is that an indication that the needle has been moved or do we still have a long way to go?
GREGORY: Well, I think, you know, there's two things. There's some bad facts and incredibly erratic behavior on the part of the president that goes beyond what we've even seen the past couple of years that I think people sit back and take notice of.
This is an easy scandal to understand. What the president did is so inappropriate on the face of it, whether it's impeachable is a different question. And that is very subjective and that's why you would have a process in Congress.
But I do think people get this, and you see the president's response threatening the whistleblower, calling him a spy. I think people, even if you're not following this closely, you can see what's reasonable and what's unreasonable. I think that's what's moving the polls. That's a whole separate issue from the politics in Congress. And the politics of the Republican Party, which are very firmly behind the president so far.
COATES: We still can't conflate the inquiry with the impeachment with the removal. But Ross Garber and David Gregory, stay with me. Because, you know, the president seems to think he's above the law, that he can just do whatever he wants. But that's not what the Constitution says. I'll make my case, next.
COATES: So, there's the old phrase it's good to be the king. Now it's supposed to be a Mel Brooks punchline, not the motto of the president of the United States.
The founding father stated as much in the Constitution. They said, this will not be a nation of royals and subjects, but rather, three co-equal branches of government, the operative word being equal. Yet the president believes he has carte blanche to act as he pleases. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Then I have an article two where I have the right to do whatever I want as president, but I don't even talk about that.
But more importantly, article two allows me to do whatever I want. I'm just saying a president under article two is very strong. Read it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COATES: I did, and he's wrong. Article two limits the presidency at the same time it empowers the holder of the office. And in reality, the president only has about a few overall powers. Command the troops, negotiate treaties, have cabinet members, issue pardons, make judicial appointments, and perhaps, most importantly, take care that the laws be faithfully executed.
And by the way, his powers they are relative to the powers held by the other branches of government. Now Congress is using one of its powers by opening an impeachment inquiry. But we're also seeing an opening for the judiciary, and it may just be the dark horse no one saw coming in this impeachment battle.
Trump keeps saying that this will end up before the Supreme Court. Seemingly with the expectation that they will be team Trump. Now that's one heck of an assumption given how the judicial branch hasn't even most recently ruled an argument that the president has unlimited power.
In May, a federal judge rejected an effort by Trump's lawyers to refuse to hand over records from the president's accounting firm and give them to Congress. Holding that the House was actually entitled to these records.
And then on Monday a federal judge dismissed Trump's lawsuit, trying to block the Manhattan D.A. from obtaining his tax returns, ruling, "The court cannot square a vision of presidential immunity that would place the president above the law with a text of the Constitution. The historical record, the relevant case law or any other authority."
Now, the president may be counting on his last nominee for the Supreme Court, Justice Brett Kavanaugh. After all, during his confirmation hearings, it was revealed that at a panel about 10 years ago, Kavanaugh suggested that perhaps U.S. v. Nixon -- that's the case where the Supreme Court held that Nixon had to comply with the subpoena and hand over those now infamous tapes because no one is above the law -- that case. Well, he suggested that case may have been wrongly decided.
But here's what he actually said. "Maybe Nixon was wrongly decided, heresy though it is to say so. Nixon took away the power of the president to control information in the executive branch by holding that the courts had power and jurisdiction to order the president to disclose information in response to a subpoena sought by a subordinate executive branch official." So, why did he think it was wrongly decided? Because it made the
president have to follow an order from a subordinate in his own branch. We don't have that here. If the president were to defy an order, it would be a case, it could be coming from Congress, which is a co-equal branch, not a subordinate in the executive branch.
And by the way, if the president is relying on Kavanaugh for comfort, he may want to take a listen to Kavanaugh's views on the independents of the judiciary.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRETT KAVANAUGH, ASSOCIATE JUSTICE, UNITED STATES SUPREME COURT: No one is above the law in our constitutional system. Federalist 69, Hamilton makes clear all the ways that the executive branch is designed by the framers of the Constitution was different from the monarchy.
Under our system of government, the executive branch is subject to the law, subject to the court system, and that's an important part of Federalist 69. It's an important part of the constitutional structure.
In general, so, too, we as judges are separate from the Congress. We are not supposed to be influenced by political pressure from the executive or from the Congress. We are independent.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COATES: It doesn't bode well for the president, and frankly, it may seem counterintuitive that a justice who used to work with Ken Starr and Whitewater would write a law review article as Kavanaugh did in 2009, saying, "I believe that the president should be excuse from some the burden of the ordinary citizenship while serving in office. We should not burden a sitting president with civil suits, criminal investigations or criminal prosecutions."
OK, but that still wouldn't protect the president from impeachment, because impeachment isn't civil or criminal. It's political. So, if the president's counting on his justices to take his side, he might come to find this is one time he can't hold court.
So that's my case. Let's see what David Gregory and Ross Garber think about it. They're back with me right now. Ross, you know, the president has indicated time and time again that he thinks that article two of the Constitution somehow protects him and gives him absolute power to do what he wants. You heard that laid out. What are your thoughts?
GARBER: Yes. So, article two does give the president very broad authority, but as you point out, it is checked. And the framers were very conscious about doing that, because what they didn't want to do was create a king. So, thy created this balance and separation of powers. They gave the Congress substantial powers, they gave the judiciary
substantial powers, and they gave the people substantial powers. So, the president certainly doesn't have unlimited power.
And as you pointed out just now, the courts actually are sort of the wild card player in impeachments, historically. They don't play a direct role, but they have played a role. United States versus Nixon was a case that the Supreme Court decided, and probably President Nixon would not have been impeached but for that case requiring him to turn over the tapes, and similarly the United States Supreme Court decision in the Paula Jones case involving Clinton.
One could argue President Clinton would not have been impeached except for that cases. And those are two important cases that as you pointed out checked presidential authority. So, keep an eye on the courts. You're exactly right.
COATES: Well, and of course, one of the justices, the chief justice will actually oversee and preside over if there were an impeachment trial. But David, I want to ask you, the president, you know, he is a man who seems to push for power until someone stops him. Is that why we're on the cusp of here, is that why we're on the cusp of a constitutional crisis, because there's not enough pushback?
GREGORY: I think you have to think about what it is the president and his team actually want. I think they're happy to have this constitutional crisis and have this debate.
They're engaged in a political fight. They'll let others, you know, fight out the constitutional questions, and if they're compelled to do something down the line, fine, but they'll maybe gain some time in the process, maybe force Speaker Pelosi's hand in the process.
And they're focused on simply avoiding the drip, drip, drip of an investigation and new developments that are embarrassing for the administration and its conduct vis-a-vis Ukraine, holding back money for security, et cetera.
I think the president learned something from - even his White House counsel Don McGahn said during the Mueller investigation that he thought it was a bad idea to cooperate at the level they were cooperating by allowing him and others to speak to investigators with Mueller's team.
I think the president learned from that and perhaps felt emboldened by the conclusion of Mueller, that they could just not cooperate here, deem this impeachment to be illegitimate. We know what the facts are. We know that the House has the sole right of impeachment, and it is a political process. That's what the president is engaged in, stonewalling for the purposes of political hardball.
COATES: So, Ross, I mean, as I said in my case, you know, you have the judiciary hasn't actually sided with the president of the United States very often. This is a very clear-cut issue like this about congressional oversight and the Constitution and executive branches. Should the president really be so eager to hear from them in this actual case?
GARBER: Maybe not, but I think David is right, though. Is, you know, the speaker wants to get this situation handled very quickly. We're heading into an election cycle, and it's very unlikely that this case would go all the way through the judicial system in months, and it might even take years for that to happen.
And so, the president may be willing to sort of take his chances on that process and see how it works. But in the end, you're exactly right. He may not like the result.
GREGORY: And Laura, there's one other point.
COATES: We've got an election coming up, right, David?
GREGORY: Yes, well, of course. And I do think that's a big issue. The closer you get into the actual election year, the more politically untenable it is to have an impeachment process, and that's what the note from the White House counsel argues.
And I think it is a big issue. I think trying to impeach Nixon in '71 into '72 would have been a lot harder than it was in 1974. Because I think the public sees the conflation of, wait a minute, don't we have an opportunity to vote him out of office through an election?
But I think there's another important point here and that's about timing as Ross is getting to. The speaker and the Democrats would like this to be a substantive claim of impeachment. The president abused his power and here's how and here's what backs up what we know about the call.
They may tack onto that obstruction of Congress which we know from Lindsey graham back in 1998 arguing that that would be a basis of impeachment when Nixon didn't comply with Congress during Watergate and he was arguing the same back in the Clinton impeachment.
But if the substance runs dry because the White House doesn't comply, then you have instruction of Congress -- obstruction of Congress being the basis of impeachment. And I don't think that's what Democrats want to leave with.
COATES: I'm going to leave it there, fellas. Ross, David, we'll have to have you back on again. This is not going anywhere, and you know the American people I believe the fourth branch of government. So, Ross, David, thank you.
Look, a prominent Trump critic is speaking out. Why he's telling our own Preet Bharara the letter the White House sent to Democrats is just garbage.
COATES: The White House refusing to cooperate with the impeachment inquiry, and now a top Republican critic is speaking out about it. George Conway speaking out to our very own Preet Bharara, and Preet is here to tell us all about it.
So Preet, I mean, you sat down with George Conway, who of course is a Republican conservative attorney, also just happens to be the husband of Kellyanne Conway, a White House counselor.
PREET BHARARA, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Yeah.
COATES: You talked to him about this letter that was written by the White House and Pat Cipollone, where they're saying they're not going to cooperate because of the whole illegitimate inquiry. I want to play this sound bite for everyone to hear it.
BHARARA (voice-over): Do you think Nancy Pelosi should have a full vote in the House on formally proceeding with an impeachment inquiry? Because people are making a lot of noise about that.
GEORGE CONWAY, ATTORNEY, REPUBLICAN CRITIC (voice-over): Well, I mean, I think as a legal and constitutional matter, it's completely irrelevant and meaningless. I mean, this letter, which goes back to the Cipollone letter yesterday, I mean, the absurdity of the letter.
BHARARA (voice-over): Let's go back to that, because you had strong feelings about it.
CONWAY (voice-over): I mean, what --
BHARARA (voice-over): It's nine pages.
CONWAY (voice-over): It's just garbage.
BHARARA (voice-over): It's one of the worst letters I've seen from the White House counsel's office, and they write very well and they make good arguments when they --
CONWAY (voice-over): This was trash. I mean, this was trash. I mean, basically the thrust of it is that there are some kind of constitutional obligations that the House has failed to meet that therefore render its impeachment inquiry illegitimate and unconstitutional, which is complete nonsense, because all the Constitution says is that the House has the sole power over impeachment.
It completely vests the power of impeachment in the House, and the House gets to decide how to go about doing that. All the House has to do at the end of the day is, by majority vote, vote out a bill of impeachment, which is essentially an indictment.
And because it's just essentially an indictment, they don't have to conduct hearings at all. They don't have to hear witnesses at all, and they don't have to give anybody the right to cross-examine those witnesses. It's garbage.
BHARARA (voice-over): Right, but it's prudential. Prudentially to bring the country along.
CONWAY (voice-over): Right. Prudentially, I mean, it wouldn't be wise for them not to conduct hearings, but they are under no obligation to allow the president to participate, and there are Republican members of these committees who can ask questions if they do have witnesses, and there's no question that those Republican members are going to be carrying the president's water. So it's just an excuse to prevent evidence, damning evidence, from reaching the public.
COATES: And, of course, Preet, there is already some pretty damning evidence out there, some from the president's own mouth. What is the point of the investigation if that's the case?
BHARARA: Look, first of all, I want to say I was very fortunate to get George Conway to come on the podcast. He's written a lot. He has an 11,000-word article in The Atlantic, basically saying that the president has a personality disorder, a narcissistic personality disorder. He talks from this vein a lot for the course of over an hour. I think the point he was making, couple of points actually --
COATES: He's never been diagnosed with that. We don't know that. That's Conway making that --
BHARARA: A hundred percent. He'll say, look, I'm a lawyer, but I'm thinking about it in terms of what the president's fiduciary duty is to the country and in a way that in some ways non-political by analysing his fitness for office.
He says based on -- he doesn't have personal expertise, but based on his discussions with lots of people and looking at psychological manuals, he thinks that the president is not fit for office because he puts himself before anything else.
COATES: Let's hear him tell you that.
CONWAY (voice-over): You can point to so many things, areas and ways in which he puts himself before the country. And not all of those things individually would amount to an impeachable offense, but they do fit a pattern.
And the reason why they fit a pattern is because that's who he is, and the reason why that's who he is is because of these personality disorders. And I think --
BHARARA (voice-over): But do you think they should call doctors? Do you think they should call psychologist?
[23:34:56] CONWAY (voice-over): I do think so, because I think it's sort of like the reverse of a criminal trial where you have an insanity defense, where the defense can put on experts to say that the defendant wasn't culpable because he lacked the ability to understand the significance of his actions.
And here, I think, in making the case that these impeachable acts such as Ukraine are symptomatic of a fundamental problem that he simply is not capable of carrying out his duties, I think it's worth putting on this evidence of his personality disorders and I think it would help explain to the public the nature of the problem, which is the president is supposed to act on behalf of the nation and is supposed to subordinate his personal interests to those of the nation.
That is the duty that he assumes when he raises his right hand and says he is -- he swears that he's going to faithfully execute the Office of the President.
COATES: So, Preet, what impact do you think that should have in an impeachment proceeding? Should this be part of a collective pattern of an abuse of power based on it?
BHARARA: It's an interesting thought, an interesting idea, and it's one that George Conway has spent a lot of time focusing on. Ordinarily, you know, people who go through impeachment, although it hasn't happened a lot in the history of the United States, you focus on legal issues, you focus on factual issues, you don't focus on the mental state of the president of the United States.
It's an interesting point. He makes other interesting points. He obviously doesn't care for the letter sent out by the White House counsel to the Congress. He calls it garbage, as you heard. He gives Bill Barr, the attorney general, in connection with all this a failing grade.
He thinks the likelihood of impeachment given what is happening so far is 100 percent. So, you know, he speaks in this vein very strongly. It's interesting. Why?
Not just because he's the husband of Kellyanne Conway, a close adviser of the president, but he's been a longstanding, conservative lawyer in the mold of the federal society lawyers that you hear about who likes lots of things that the president may have done, including the appointments of Supreme Court justices that some liberals may not appreciate.
So for a person like that to say over and over and over again and come on my podcast and otherwise write articles in newspapers saying that it's enough already, that he's prepared to vote for Democrats over this president because of his lack of fitness and because of his continued violations of the Constitution, that's significant, I think, for that reason.
COATES: Thanks, Preet. I don't want to conflate the issue of mental state versus the intent of the president in his actions. Of course, we'll talk more about that. You have to be sure to check out Preet's podcast. It's called "Stay Tuned with Preet." The interview with George Conway will be posted tomorrow morning at 6:00 a.m. sharp. Make sure to check it out.
President Trump is repeating a false claim about the whistleblower and how the complaint relates to the Ukraine call. We'll break down the anatomy of his lies, next.
COATES: President Trump pushing out his own poll numbers on impeachment that come from who knows where and repeating false claims about the Ukraine whistleblower. Let's go through the anatomy of a lie with CNN's resident fact checker, Daniel Dale. Hi, Daniel, it is nice to see you.
The president tweeted today about his polling and impeachment. "Only 25 percent want the president impeached, which is pretty low considering the volume of fake news coverage, but pretty high considering the fact that I did nothing wrong. It is all just a continuation of the greatest scam and witch hunt in the history of our country."
In fact, the latest Fox News poll out today has a new high. Fifty-one percent of voters want Trump impeached and removed from office. So, Daniel, what is he talking about?
DANIEL DALE, CNN REPORTER: Well, I came up with three possibilities. Either he's making it up. We know he makes up a lot of numbers. That's possibility one. Possibility two is that he's referring to a number, you know, in Washington Post poll, which showed that 25 percent of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents support the impeachment inquiry. Sometimes he refers specifically the Republican only poll numbers.
And the third possibility is an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll in which 43 percent, not 25 percent, supported impeachment. But there was another question in which people were asked, do you think that there is the evidence now without even doing an inquiry, and 24 percent said yes to that. So that is maybe a possibility.
COATES: Maybe. Well, the president keeps repeating over and over again, Daniel, that what the whistleblower said bore no resemblance to the phone call with Zelensky, and he said that three times today alone. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It wasn't close at all. What the whistleblower said bore no relationship to what the call was. When you see what the whistleblower said about the phone call, and it was totally different, he made it up. I don't mind a misinterpretation. This was a fraud, because that call was perfect. And if you read the whistleblower's report, it bore no resemblance to what the call was.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COATES: So, Daniel, who is really misinterpreting? I mean, the whistleblower's three main allegations seem to have been corroborated, right?
DALE: Absolutely. What Trump is saying is complete nonsense. The whistleblower had a three-bullet point list about this phone call, and all three of those main allegations were confirmed.
DALE: He said that Trump asked Zelensky to investigate Biden. That was right. Investigate the debunked server. Nonsense. That was right. Speak to Giuliani and Attorney General Barr. That was right. And so Trump is simply inaccurate totally when he said that the whistleblower was totally inaccurate.
COATES: Daniel Dale, thank you so much. The question is, so, what are Republicans thinking when they see those poll numbers from Fox News, showing that more than half of voters favor impeaching and removing the president of the United States from office? We'll discuss, next.
COATES: We've been talking about a new poll that finds a majority of voters are in favor of impeachment. That poll is coming from the president's favorite news source, Fox.
Here to discuss, Mike Shields and Angela Rye. Hello to you both. Mike, I'll start with you. So this brand-new Fox News poll out tonight showing majority of support for impeachment and, by the way, removal of the president. So what are Republicans thinking when they look at these numbers tonight?
MIKE SHIELDS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, it's one poll. I think that you have to look any poll in a series of trends. This has not been a trend. There's been internal polling that I'm aware of amongst Republicans, especially in swing congressional districts, that show that there is no support for impeachment in those areas.
So I think if you have a -- I haven't looked at the sampling of this poll. If you have a heavy sampling in places like California and New York when you do a national poll, you can sometimes get results like this. I think it's very difficult when you look in the swing areas.
Remember, in the end, Nancy Pelosi is going to have to bring this to a vote on the floor, and she's been really, really reluctant to do that. Why is that? Because she's looking at internal polling and she's fearful of what this is going to do to the democratic House members that have to run in those swing areas.
And so until we actually have a vote on the floor, that's when you're going to see the Democrats feel a lot more confident in any polling that you're seeing.
COATES: First, Angela, do you buy that argument this is not an outlier? And also, I mean, what do you think about the idea of the Democrats actually calling the White House as bluff and just holding a formal vote on opening an impeachment inquiry and settle all of it?
ANGELA RYE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, first, I think that Mike did a great job of sticking to republican talking points and it's certainly to be expected. What I would say here to run contrary to what at least the party is doing in the House, is I've been saying that Donald Trump needed to be impeached for a long time.
There have been several arguably impeachable offenses for some time, and the latest one is this call with the Ukraine. I think at this point what Nancy Pelosi's argument would be is that she wants Democrats to go on the record one time and one time only, and that would be with articles of impeachment, not with an impeachment inquiry which, per House rules, the judiciary chairman has the authority to do just that.
Of course there's a legal argument to be made, and I'll leave that to you, Laura. But I would just say, you know, this is where we are, and unfortunately the country may be divided, but it looks like it's tipping in our favor. And I think people are trying to stand on the side of truth at this point and not just trying to support this president willy-nilly and completely blind.
COATES: So, Mike, I mean, sources are telling CNN that President Trump has been calling the top Republican in the Senate, Mitch McConnell, up to three times a day and warning the Senate majority leader about keeping Republican senators in line.
Now, as you know, McConnell's office has denied this. But look at how Trump goes after Republicans who have challenged him. Is the president vulnerable to some sort of Senate defections? Is that the concern here?
SHIELDS: Well, first of all, I just want to go back to a point that Angela just made about Speaker Pelosi only wanting there to be one vote. Why? What is she scared of having more than one vote?
I worked for Newt Gingrich in the '90s during the Clinton impeachment. And when Newt put together the impeachment inquiry, he went to Dick Gephardt and did it in a bipartisan fashion and actually followed the rules that the Democrats used in the Nixon impeachment.
So, Republicans at that time wanted to include the minority because when the minority is included, they have subpoena power and they have a much more open process. That is not what is happening right now. Nancy Pelosi doesn't want to have this vote. As Angela said, she doesn't want to have multiple votes.
And so that really speaks to the popularity of this topic, especially in swing democratic districts. Now --
COATES: But, Mike, to be fair -- I want Angela to respond to this because the rules have changed, Angela. They no longer need and require the vote of the whole full House to actually have that subpoena power. So, is your point that they don't need to --
SHIELDS: The minority does. The minority does.
COATES: Angela, what say you?
RYE: So, I think that the issue here is simple. Not only have the rules changed, but also the makeup of these districts have changed. And I know Mike knows full well these districts are now very gerrymandered. And what is also a problem is that the makeup of the Republican Party has shifted substantially.
Folks who were at one point proud to stand on what it meant to be a democracy, folks who believed in courage, folks who believed in doing the right thing would do the right thing. That is not the GOP that you're seeing today. These people are feckless.
In fact, when talking about a Senate vote, there are 30 Republican senators who say they would vote quietly if there was a secret vote, they would vote in favor of impeachment. So I think that the issue is courage. It's not the fact that this is not very popular. They're scared of the president. He's a bully.
SHIELDS: I just want to make a point, Laura --
COATES: Well, I have to leave it there. Quickly. Quickly. Five seconds.
SHIELDS: The majority can start an investigation. But if you want the minority to be included so the public has a faith that this is fair, you have to pass it on the floor to give the minority the ability to do that. They don't want to have a fair trial, and they don't want the public to --
RYE: Well, the 2016 election wasn't fair.
COATES: Guess what? Tomorrow is another day, and Congress is still working. Thanks for watching, everyone. Our coverage continues.