Return to Transcripts main page


Former Ambassador to Ukraine Speaking Out; President Trump Playing Safe with Giuliani; Kevin McAleenan Says Bye to Trump's Messy Administration; Five Courts Ruled Out Against Trump; The Walls Appear to be Closing in on Rudy Giuliani; All the President's Men; President Trump Acting Erratically. Aired 11p-12a ET

Aired October 11, 2019 - 23:00   ET



DON LEMON, CNN HOST: Yes, he attacks others including Congressman Adam Schiff, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and Majority Leader Chuck Schumer who are the leaders of the party. The only lawmakers who got more negative tweets this summer than the four congresswomen in Chairman Cummings. Take this into account.

And thank you for watching, everyone. Our live coverage continues with the White House in crisis. The impeachment inquiry with Laura Coates. Laura, you got your work cut out for you. Tell us what you got tonight.

LAURA COATES, CNN HOST: Well, first of all, I can't believe that happened in my home state of Minnesota, actually having boos for people who are immigrants to that particular state in our country. That actually is shocking to me.

And it reiterates the point time and time again that it seems like people don't realize if it's Washington, D.C. or Gotham City. You can be a hero without villainizing people who are not villains in the end.


COATES: But it's shocking to see. It continues. And this is quite a week, I can tell you, Don.


COATES: I mean, of all the weeks it's quite a week. And things keep happening quickly and quickly and you cannot turn away. Can you?

LEMON: No, you can't turn away. And I can't believe that what we talked about the Somali refugees that he's talking about is coming out of the president's mouth. What he says at those rallies. What he says on the White House Lawn and on and on. And then the people he surrounds himself with, Laura, all the best people.

COATES: Well, he knows lots of great words too but that's not really the point. Today we're talking about today, Don, so many things about what is at stake for the president of the United States going forward and really, he surrounds himself with all the people who says the very best people.

But tonight, we're focusing on somebody he is surrounded himself with for quite some time. And we're wondering if he's going to have that 10-foot pole come out now. The distancing himself. We've seen this before. Michael Cohen got to be right now sitting asking himself, why didn't anyone see this sooner. What do you think?

LEMON: Why me?


LEMON: He's saying why.

COATES: He's saying a lot of things right now.

LEMON: He's saying -- well, he's probably --

COATES: Is he, Don?

LEMON: -- he's probably watching right now saying, why me?

COATES: Well, thanks, Don.

LEMON: Thanks, Laura.

COATES: Let's get straight to the news.

LEMON: All right. See you.

COATES: This is a CNN special hour. The White House in crisis. The impeachment inquiry. I'm Laura Coates.

And tonight, I'm going to take you through the top headlines in late breaking news on the impeachment inquiry into Donald Trump.

Our headlines and it's breaking news. Rudy Giuliani reported to be under investigation by federal prosecutors according to the New York Times. Sources telling the Times investigators are looking into whether he broke lobbying laws in his dealings in Ukraine.

That, as President Trump says he doesn't know if Giuliani is still his lawyer. Both Giuliani and President Trump in focus on Capitol Hill today as Marie Yovanovitch testified about their efforts to remove her as ambassador to Ukraine and what she calls false claims.

And the president facing major setbacks in the court after five rulings against him including one over his financial records.

What does it mean for the impeachment inquiry? We'll get into that with CNN political commentator Mark McKinnon, CNN legal analyst Carrie Cordero, and Giuliani biographer, Andrew Kirtzman.

But let's begin with CNN's Sara Murray who is following the developments in the impeachment inquiry and a late breaking story within the Trump administration. SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Laura.

Another departure from the White House. That's Kevin McAleenan, the acting secretary of homeland security. He submitted his resignation tonight. And Trump of course, he announced it via tweet.

Now McAleenan served in that post since April. And a source familiar with his thinking says he felt he had accomplished all he could since an immigration deal in Congress doesn't seem likely.

Now sources close to him say the announcement had been planned for weeks. And of course, in typical Washington speech he also he wants to spend more time with his family. Now this maybe a small setback for the Trump administration. But of course, a bigger cloud looms over the White House and that is the impeachment inquiry.

As Marie Yovanovitch testified about the months' long campaign President Trump wage to have her removed as ambassador to Ukraine and the shadow diplomacy carried out by Rudy Giuliani, President Trump appeared to waiver on whether he still considers Giuliani his personal attorney.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, I don't know. I haven't spoken to Rudy. I spoke to him briefly yesterday. He is a very good attorney and he has been my attorney. Yes, sure.


MURRAY: Giuliani moved quickly to clear that up. Telling a CNN reporter yes, he represents the president. But a source close to Trump's legal team says Giuliani won't be dealing with Ukraine issues. Even though Ukraine is at the center of the impeachment investigation.

This as sources say the president has expressed concern about his personal attorney after two of Giuliani's associates were arrested and charged with campaign finance violation as they tried to leave the country.


Both men had been helping Giuliani on his quest for dirt on the Bidens. More details of Giuliani's efforts meanwhile were coming out in a closed door deposition with Yovanovitch, a current state Department employee and 33-year veteran of the foreign service.

"I do not know Mr. Giuliani's motives for attacking me." Yovanovitch said in her opening statement according to a copy obtained by the New York Times and the Washington Post. "But individuals who have been named in the press as contacts of Mr. Giuliani may well have believed that their personal financial ambitions were stymied by our anti- corruption policy in Ukraine."


REP. SEAN PATRICK MALONEY (D-NY): This is a good person who served for more 30 years in the foreign service who was thrown to the wolves by Mr. Giuliani, who was representing the financial interest of his now indicted associates and by President Trump who is advancing his political interest in trying to get an investigation started in Ukraine of the Bidens.


MURRAY: After being asked to extend her tenure in Ukraine to 2020 Yovanovitch testified she was called in late April and told to catch the next plane home. She said she was incredulous that the U.S. government chose to remove an ambassador based as best as I can tell on unfounded and false claims by people with clearly questionable motives.

Yovanovitch said in her statement that the deputy secretary of state told her the department had been under pressure from the president to remove me since the summer 2018. He also said that I had done nothing wrong.

While Trump trashed the ambassador in his July call with the Ukraine president, tonight, he played dumb.


TRUMP: She maybe a wonderful woman. I don't know her. But she may be very much a wonderful woman.


MURRAY: Yovanovitch's appearance today a sign the White House is effort to stonewall impeachment inquiry may crumble in the face of congressional subpoenas. Next week, ambassador to the European Union, Gordon Sondland also intends to testify under subpoena according to his attorneys.

Now after Yovanovitch's full day of testimony Democrats came away saying she was a powerful and credible witness. Republicans however took issue with the process, saying they should all be conducted in public. Back to you.

COATES: Sara, thank you. Joining me now, Mark McKinnon and Carrie Cordero. I'm glad you're both here this evening. Carrie, let me begin with you. Because the New York Times is reporting that federal investigators are looking at whether Giuliani broke any lobbying laws in his dealings in Ukraine. So, talk to me about the legal implications of all of this.

CARRIE CORDERO, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: So, I think what they're referring to in these reports are the FARA, the Foreign Agents Registration Act which ironically is the same criminal statute that Paul Manafort, Michael Flynn both were implicated in and charged with.

And what it involves is when you're representing a foreign interest that could be a foreign person or a foreign government, and you don't register properly with the Justice Department. So, it's a registration requirement. So, the question is if that's what they are -- and again this is just

a new report. If that's the government is investigating him for, then the question is whether he followed this law, whether he registered and it's a criminal violation.

There could be, you know, there could be other things too. When they made those arrests the other night at Dallas airport of his two associates, they just charged them with one charge on four different violations.

So, it looked to me like there was probably a lot of ongoing investigation that they had to quickly amend so that they could file the charges, and there's probably a lot going on behind the scenes.

COATES: And they can of course, still add charges to that. It's not over once the indictment is actually issued.

CORDERO: Exactly.

COATES: You know, Mark, President Trump is now saying that he doesn't even know if Rudy Giuliani is still his lawyer. Is he too tainted at this point for that, for the president to even acknowledge him any longer?

MARK MCKINNON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: No question that he is. When the president's lawyer is lawyering up, you really can't be the president's lawyer anymore. And not only lawyering up but lawyering up on the issue, the very issue in the very country that's involved in the central investigation of the impeachment.

So, Rudy Giuliani -- I mean, the president already today was talking in the past tense about Rudy Giuliani so I think he's gone quickly. And really the two associates that were involved beg so many questions. It's hard to kind of keep this puzzle straight.

But think about it, they're helping Rudy Giuliani dig dirt on Joe Biden. But at the same time, they have problems with the ambassador, apparently, reportedly, because they were trying to get this special gas deals and she was -- and she was standing in a way because she didn't -- because she was -- had an anticorruption effort going on. So, you know, the way these lines cross is just amazing and astonishing and we're going to find a lot out more.

COATES: I mean it's a mess. But Carrie, you know, you say the testimony from the ambassador that he's talking about the former ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, it makes clear that really diplomacy, national security. These are being used now for political purposes.


CORDERO: Well, that really was I think a central theme of at least her public, the statement that was released publicly that she made today and we'll find more about what she said behind closed doors.

But that was the key point that I took away from her written statement, which was that she was really sounding the alarm. That from her point which is on the inside, which is different than what we all are observing on the outside, she was seeing the levers of government.

Foreign diplomacy that's being conducted by the State Department or individuals that are representing themselves as doing interest in diplomacy, national security decisions, corruption issues. She mentioned the corruption issues are national security issues. And because they pertain to how people are motivated to take actions.

All of these issues are potentially being handled by people who are not acting in the United States' interest. And they're handled by people who are doing work perhaps at the behest of the president or who are affiliated with president and close to him and they are doing it if for their political interest, perhaps for their own business interest.

And so, what she's really painting is a picture of government that is not holding up so well, and I'm talking about our own government, our own institutions our own State Department. Then when we hear people say well, the institutions are holding up and you know, we'll get through sort of this difficult time with this president who doesn't respect laws and norms in the ways that the government is supposed to work that actually they're being impacted.

And her removal for reasons that were unrelated to her performance and for potentially because she was getting in the way of this subversion of proper diplomatic process is just evidence of that.

COATES: I mean, the collateral damage is increasingly extensive. And one of the things that she pointed out too in her opening statement was the idea that look, the United States and other leaders across the globe looks like they are susceptible to innuendo and misinformation campaign.

This is not of course, Mark, what anyone wants to hear. You know, Pompeo was saying today that his department will do everything it's lawfully required to do to honor House subpoenas. But he also told this to the Tennessean.

"I think the only ones who think Zelensky was pressured are a handful of folks in the media and a bunch of folks on Capitol Hill, the Democratic Party who are trying to take down this president."

Mark, are either of those things even true?

MCKINNON: Not from any facts that we can ascertain, Laura. The one thing that has come through so far, I mean, it was a deposition hearing and as you know that can't be made public.

But the characterization of her testimony that you have from Congressman Heck earlier with on Don Lemon show suggests and what we hear from Republicans as well, is that this is a 30-year civil servant. This is a true servant of democracy. She was a classic diplomat. And nobody is really questioned her integrity or her character.

So, it's going to be hard for the president and his allies to suggest as they have been trying to with everybody else that this is some deep state partisan coup attempt. This is just somebody who is trying to do her job and do the right thing. And so, I think it's going to be very difficult for her character or her testimony to be indicted.

COATES: Well, Mark and Carrie, stay with me. Something tells me they'll find some way to try. Up next, Democrats are trying to keep the impeachment inquiry focused on one thing. But is that a bad thing? I'll make my case next.



COATES: Congress is often accused of over complicating everything. That seems to be the nature of bureaucracy. The more red tape, the better. But when it comes to the impeachment inquiry House Democrats have taken a different approach. Perhaps over simplifying the inquiry and maybe to their detriment.

It seems that they fear that the American electorate has some sort of post-traumatic stress from the duration of the Mueller probe and the 400-page encyclopedia we were asked to read. The web of names or like the cast of characters from "Game of Thrones." What that person's name again? It reminds me what that person did to the other one that one time. Not that guy. The other one. The one with the thing. And then the thing.

By the time the Mueller report ends the American people were drained and some outraged by the impression that it was all for naught. It seems that Congress gleamed a lesson from the era of Mueller. Keep it simple.

There was a phone call. It was with a foreign president. The Ukrainians wanted military aid. Trump wanted dirt on Joe Biden. The law says you can't do that. The president is supposed to advocate for American interest not his own campaign interest. Got it. Simple plot line. The Democratic leadership strategy.

And at least early on many in the party were good to go with Ukraine or bust. But like a reality show, each new day creates a but wait there's more moment. More whistle-blowers. More evidence. More witnesses. More subpoenas for information. More testimony. More signs of abuse of power.

The China comments alone openly inviting fresh election meddling. And yet, the Democratic leadership clenches to the original simple plot line. Apparently, reluctant to introduce anything that might lead to a 400-page report.

But is this sound, is Congress really afraid of the American electorate would be overwhelmed or are they strategically streamlining the inquiry to avoid running out of time before the 2020 election? Maybe it's a little bit of both.

But the impeachment of a president requires a comprehensive inquiry. Notice I didn't say a slow inquiry. I said a comprehensive inquiry. Exhaustive not exhausting. Or as Congressman Jim Himes put it, "We have an obligation to see just how deep this sewage flows."


There may be enough information to substantiate a claim that the president abused his power by soliciting foreign election interference. But that doesn't mean you put your blinders on to the rest.

Congress take a few pointers from the judicial branch. Why just today alone the court issued rulings in five, count them, five separate cases concerning the president. Each answering a separate question.

But from releasing tax returns to paying for a border wall with emergency funds to making it harder for people to get a green card if they use public benefits that Trump White House lost today.

In fact, all week the courts have rejected any argument that Congress is powerless compared to the president or that Congress' oversight function is somehow invalid because it's inconvenient for the president.

Kitchen sinks argument went down the judicial drain this week. See, focus is not synonymous with tunnel vision. New claims of wrongdoing require a fresh look at the facts. And doing so doesn't fatally undermine the impeachment inquiry.

In fact, if the House does vote to impeach, they will still have to prove their case using the evidence they gathered during the inquiry to persuade frankly, a mostly hostile Senate. If they shorthand the inquiry, they will shortchange the American people. And it is that simple.

Back with me now our Mark McKinnon and Carrie Cordero. Mark, I want to come to you. Because what do you think, does Congress need to change their plan to focus narrowly on Ukraine for this impeachment inquiry? Should they be doing more?

MCKINNON: I think they need to keep it simple. I really do. I work for Ann Richards when she was the governor of Texas. She says dumb it down so my mama can understand it. And mama can understand this conversation with Ukraine.

The problem is, Laura, I understand your argument you're making. But I think that the impeachment is such a hot spot like that any Democrat on any possible relevant committee wants that spotlight.

So you've got to make sure and keep the focus narrow or else they'll going to find a reason to find a thread to get on television to hold their own hearings, and by the way, they're not -- they're talking about going back and doing stuff that we were looking at last year.

So, I think the smartest person on either party right now is Nancy Pelosi. And she understands get this sucker done by Christmas and move on.

COATES: You know, it's fascinating because your focus is on you think it's about people who are trying to steal the limelight opposed to the inquiry. It's an interesting point.

Carrie, I want to ask you Trump took a beating in the judicial today. I mean, really a beating. Five different rulings not going his way. Is this what happens when the president tries to force through what he wants without maybe thinking of the legal consequence? Or even making good enough legal arguments here.

CORDERO: Well, the hallmark of the Trump administration in the first three years is implementing policies without doing the hard legal analysis, the hard legal work in the serious interagency coordination to make sure that the policy you issue actually has a sound legal basis, actually has been vetted and is likely to survive judicial challenge.

So, basically, it's a way of governing that is lazy. And that is also purely politically motivated. So, when he has a political objective, he says well let's make a policy. He staffs the government with people who are willing to implement it. That's why over at DHS we have so many components and the head of the agency is leaving and it's been enacting capacity for many, many months.

So, he puts in positions of authority in the agencies people who are not going to push back on these policies that are not based in law and process. And so, this is the result.

And so, I think just this week is a snapshot of the combination of the way that he's been trying to govern. And you know, for example, the emergency case on the border, that has been litigated by organizations that is a consortium of people from progressive background and conservative lawyers all agreeing that the position the administration was taking on emergency authorities for the border was not based in any law.

COATES: And Carrie, and yet, it continued and it persisted. And we'll probably see more of this lesson for the president United States today.

Mark Cordero and Carrie Cordero, thank you. I'll have to have you back.

You know, Rudy Giuliani was once America's most revered mayor. Now a lot of legal experts think he could be facing criminal charges of his own. Up next, we'll trace Rudy's rollercoaster career with a man who has known him for decades.



COATES: One thing is clear. The walls appear to be closing in on Rudy Giuliani. Even the president has distanced himself in the wake of this week's events. Giuliani is facing two big new problems. First, his two associates were arrested hours after having lunch with Giuliani at a Trump hotel.

Second, new reports implicate Giuliani in a scheme to pressure former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to help get a case against a prominent foreign client dropped.


So, what happened? I mean, this is the Rudy Giuliani people remember. America's mayor, strength in the face of adversity. How did that guy become this guy at the Trump Hotel with men about to take into custody with one-way tickets out of the country?

Joining me now is Andrew Kirtzman, author of "Rudy Giuliani: Emperor of the City." He has followed Rudy's career for decades. Andrew, you know him quite well and followed him for years. I have to ask you, do you recognize this Rudy Giuliani?

ANDREW KIRTZMAN, AUTHOR: I recognize him, but I think this is the Giuliani who has changed throughout the years and not for the better, not for the better. And I think, you know, you need a psychologist as much as a political reporter to kind of analyze what exactly has happened to him.

I mean, I covered Giuliani for close to a decade prior to 9/11. And then, as you remember, he was kind of -- he became one of the most beloved men on the planet after 9/11. And, you know, he wagered it all on his presidential race in 2008. And it was a disaster. It was a humiliating disaster.

He walked away with, I believe, one delegate. And he kind of was out in the wilderness. Donald Trump was his ticket back to relevance. And, you know, he seems having been willing to squander much of his stature and his dignity in service of power and apparently money as well.

COATES: But it's odd (INAUDIBLE) that somebody who, as you say, was craving that power, was seen as this really (INAUDIBLE) and presence was beloved, and you were with him on 9/11.


COATES: We have a picture of you --


COATES: -- with him the day that he was actually there. And there you are right there with him. I mean to go from that and somebody who was commanding, somebody who was beloved in that way --


COATES: -- doesn't it seem odd too that you would then seek out to be a subordinate of somebody with an even larger than life persona and --


COATES: -- and thoughts of being loved?

KIRTZMAN: I mean it's a good question. But, I mean, he didn't have a lot of options. I mean, Donald Trump was, you know, one of the few people who needed Rudy Giuliani. Donald Trump didn't have a big kind of circle, political circle. Giuliani was kind of simpatico when, you know, personality. And again, I mean, there weren't a lot of people, you know, calling Giuliani for his help.

COATES: You know, given the fact that Rudy Giuliani before he was mayor, he was running the SDNY, and so how ironic is it for you now to think about that office looking --


COATES: -- into his financial dealings with the Ukraine?

KIRTZMAN: Right. I mean, it's ironic and it's also very sad, right? I mean, this is -- I mean, his accomplishments at the Southern District of New York are the stuff of legend. I mean, there could still be a powerful mafia in the city if not for Rudy Giuliani. I mean, he did extraordinary things as a prosecutor. He did extraordinary things as a mayor.

And this is a person who achieved greatness. And for him to have kind of taken this path down towards -- I don't know what you want to call it -- cynicism is a very, very sad thing.

COATES: You know, what made me even sadder than what you're talking about is that this fallout of -- the persona non grata at this point with the president. He came out today, the president --


COATES: -- and distancing himself a little bit from Rudy Giuliani.


COATES: We saw this reminiscent of what happened with Michael Cohen, who was somebody who also is very close to Donald Trump --


COATES: -- and now finds himself in prison. In fact, here is the president even talking about Rudy Giuliani today in a way that we haven't seen yet.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice-over): Is Rudy Giuliani still your personal attorney?

TRUMP: Well, I don't know. I haven't spoken to Rudy. I spoke to him yesterday briefly. He's a very good attorney, and he has been my attorney.


COATES: So, tell me, I mean, he's not even his attorney? He doesn't really know? What do you make of that?

KIRTZMAN: Well, I don't think it's not any surprise that Trump is willing to kind of cut Giuliani loose. I mean, Giuliani, from what reports say, his business dealings are under investigation. I mean, you know, I have no inside knowledge. I mean, is he facing indictment? I don't know.

But if Trump is looking at this and wondering whether or not Giuliani is kind of a toxic presence right now, when Trump is, you know, vulnerable as it is, Trump has never shown reluctance to cut people loose.

And I think if he does and it seems that he might be on the way towards doing it, it is going to be interesting. Giuliani is not going to be like Tillerson or Mattis where he goes gently into the night. I mean, he will go down in flames. He will go down in a blaze of glory. It will be kind of like a King Kong versus Godzilla thing if they turn on each other.

COATES: Of course, Trump and Giuliani's relationship actually goes a long way back. There is actually Giuliani who famously dressed once and appeared in the video in drag in a roast back in, I think, 2000.


COATES: So what is it that draws these two together?


KIRTZMAN: I think they're very like-minded gentlemen. I think there's kind of megalomania to both of them. I think they both feel that they have cornered truth and morality. And there's kind of a street wise at a (INAUDIBLE) thing that they learned from their youth in New York City. They, you know, they get along. They're buds. They're confidants.

COATES: Andrew Kirtzman, fascinating. Thank you for being part of the show. It's interesting to think about what will happen next. We all have to just stay tuned.


COATES: But just how many Trump associates are now in prison, under investigation or indictment? We'll take a big picture look at the rogue gallery of characters surrounding the president, next.




COATES: So how far does one take a sense of duty in serving the president? At what cost? As many in Donald Trump's world become entangled in the widening impeachment inquiry, the president takes great pains to distance himself from those in the crosshairs of the investigation. He did it again today with Rudy Giuliani, the latest in his inner circle to come under fire. Joining me now are Julian Epstein and Juliette Kayyem. I'm glad to have you both. Juliette, there's a growing list of people now in Trump's orbit who have fallen into legal trouble. The latest, according to The New York Times, being investigated for violating lobbying laws is his personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani. Now, you say that Trump has surrounded himself with violators and enablers. Explain that.

JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Right. So, there are the violators or the people who are actually breaking the laws, right? That group is too big to even name at this stage. It's sort of shockingly big. You then have the next group of people which are the enablers, the people who are nodding and sort of allowing this to happen.

Think of the Senate Republicans. Think of many people on Fox News. Just sort of not being able to answer a simple question like, is it wrong for a president to, you know, essentially ask another country to look for dirt on his political competitor?

I actually add a third group. I think this is a group that's becoming interesting in this time. That is sort of the apologists, the people who sort of say, well, I don't like all this stuff that Trump is dong, but I like the tax cuts or I like, you know, what he is doing with environmental regulations.

And what they have to realize is that there's a true line between the tax cuts and what's happening to the Kurds or the new judges and, you know, what's happening, you know, with -- at the border. In other words, Trump is animated by a singular motivation which is himself and obviously his economic interest.

It is that third group that I think you're starting to see some of the shifting going on. There are no two Trumps. There's no good Trump and a bad Trump. This is Trump. That's the group that I think is most interesting right now.

COATES: Julian, what we're finding out about Giuliani and Ukraine is this. Is this just the tip of the iceberg? I mean, we have a lot of information here.

JULIAN EPSTEIN, CHIEF COUNSEL, JUDICIARY COMMITTEE DEMOCRATS DURING CLINTON IMPEACHMENT: Juliette makes a very good point. I think to summarize what she's saying is when you lay down with dogs, you get fleas. I think Trump has continuously throughout his career and his presidency surrounded himself with grifters and hacks and is kind of (INAUDIBLE) who will tell him what he wants to hear but, you know, kind of have three stooges quality to them.

You know, if you look at what's happening right now, the chickens are coming home to roost. There are -- the first thing you do when you're in any administration -- before I was chief counsel of the Judiciary Committee, I used to run the House Oversight Committee, the staff director, so I have seen hundreds of these investigations -- the first thing you do when you're in a problem is you get all the bad facts out, then you pledge cooperation, and then you try to tell your story. It's a pretty simple template when you're in the middle when you're in the middle of a kind of a scandal, the way this administration is in the middle of right now.

What this administration is doing is adopting the Baghdad Bob strategy. Donald Trump standing out in the lawn Trump saying everything is under control, this is a witch hunt, as the tanks are getting ready to roll over him.

What's relevant about the good points that Juliette is making is that you have so many loose ends here now. Russia is brought back into this by virtue of the fact of the campaign finance situation that the Southern District of New York is looking into.

The diplomats, you seem to have two different camps of diplomats that were involved in Ukraine. One who wants to tell the truth and one who wants to cover up the truth. You have inside the administration utter chaos where there's lot of voices inside the administration, I know this from talking to people on the Hill, who want to come out and be on the right side of this issue. They don't want to be obstructionist.

The administration doesn't have control that. You've got a situation where the Southern District of New York now is looking at Giuliani and who knows what else. Again, another situation they can't contain. And then you have Congress. And all indications are that the cracks in the wall with the Senate Republicans are starting to occur.

You have all this loci (ph) of activity that are going on, all this chaos, and an administration that can't kind of get control of all these drifters that Juliette is talking about, this just spells, you know, this just spells the worst possible situation.


COATES: I think the word is chaos that you're looking for right now, Julian. I think Julian spelled it out quickly. That would be the last word. Thank you, Julian. Hold on. This would be the last word. Let me tell you this though, both of you. Very sound points.

One thing the question the American people have, of course, the idea at any given moment, any of these people can be in any of the categories that Juliette articulated. We're waiting to see who will be next. Thank you to both of you. I appreciate it. Julian Epstein and Juliette Kayyem, thank you.

Is the widening impeachment inquiry causing President Trump to act erratically? We'll talk about that, next.




COATES: As House Democrats expand the impeachment inquiry, the president is reaching out to his base, holding two campaign rallies just this week alone including by the way one tonight where he's lashing out at those he perceives as his enemies.

Let's discuss with Bakari Sellers, a supporter of democratic presidential candidate Kamala Harris, and also Alice Stewart. Welcome to you both. Alice, you know, it's been a bad day and frankly a bad week for the president. He's out there giving rallies, which we know makes him feel better. But is that what he should be doing right now?

ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It is because A, it makes him feel better. It rejuvenates him. But also it feeds the base. If you looked at that rally for even one second this evening and the same with the one in Minnesota, those people are not paying attention to the impeachment inquiry. They are not paying attention to the Supreme Court cases that came down today.

They are paying attention 100 percent to the energy and the enthusiasm they are getting fed from President Trump. And this not only helps him, but it helps to get out the vote. It keeps them energized. And it is abundantly clear that it is a good way for him to understand that his base supports him. They support his policies.

He was also able to talk about certainly immigration and the economy and things that he does have that are positive strengths of his presidency and keep the focus away from, as you say, a lot of the things that are not positive that are going on in Washington.

COATES: Bakari, what's your reaction to that, though, because is this impeachment inquiry causing the president to really behave even more erratically at these rallies? I mean, you saw him criticize people like Rep. Ilhan Omar and others, even the Peter Strzok-Lisa Page discussion, the whole I love you infatuation discussion. I mean, is this actually a good plan for him?

BAKARI SELLERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I don't think he's acting more erratically. I think this is the same person we know who came down the steps and called Mexicans rapists. I mean, this is the same president and the same Donald Trump that's always been. He's always been erratic in my opinion.

But I do think he's doing something quite well to Alice's point. I think that there are two different processes going on. One, you have impeachment politics, which he's actually playing very well. Then you have the judicial proceeding. You have the legislative proceeding which is going on and the legal proceeding which is this impeachment inquiry, which he's losing and getting dealt body blow after body blow after body blow.

In terms of the impeachment politics, he's going out to these rallies. He's beating up those individuals. He's calling out the deep state. He's calling out fake news. He's doing what Donald Trump does best. He's giving red meat to his base.

On the legal side, on the legislative side, he's losing those battles night in and night out, and I think those things are going to take a toll on him. It won't take a toll on his base. He's going to win 35 percent of the populous regardless, but those swing voters and those voters in the middle, I think, will turn away from Donald Trump unlike what they did in 2016.

COATES: Alice, there are people like acting DHS Secretary Kevin McAleenan, he's out. This is really frankly another person in a long line of people who are out in the administration. This is after a recent Washington Post article quoted him saying that he felt frustrated, isolated.

Secretary Pompeo's senior adviser stepped down yesterday. We've been talking about Trump trying to distance himself from Giuliani, but maybe people want to do the reverse and get away from trump. Are you seeing that now?

STEWART: Look, I'm not surprised that McAleenan stepped down, and I'm not surprised that he gave the reason spending more time with his family and his friends. But as much turmoil as we see that's going on in the White House and the palace intrigue, it is certainly something that we can talk about here and is the fodder for a lot of newsrooms across the country.

But, again, I bring it back to his base and the people out there at his rallies, many of them across Middle America, they are not concerned with the palace intrigue, they are not concerned with the developing drama, this going on with the impeachment inquiry and the Supreme Court.

And you said yourself, Laura, just a few moments ago, with the way the Democrats are handling this impeachment, they're doing so at their own detriment, and they need to keep it simple if they're going to be effective and not get too in the weeds on this because after all the two years we went through with Mueller, it left a lot of people very frustrated.


STEWART: And if this impeachment inquiry goes the same direction with raising the level of expectations without anything to show for it at the end, there's going to be a lot of people, Democrats included, that are going to be very frustrated with the Democrats.

COATES: I wonder how it ends in the long run. Bakari, I'm sorry, I could not get back to you to hear your views on it. But thank you both. And thank you for watching. Our coverage continues.