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CNN TONIGHT

John Bolton's Name Floated In Trump's Ukraine Scandal; President Trump Imposes New Sanctions Against Turkey; Bombshell Unleashed By Former Trump Russia Adviser; Fiona Hill Testified, Bolton Referred To Giuliani As A 'Hand Grenade That's Going To Blow Everybody Up'; Trumps Attack Hunter Biden; President Trump Sanctions Turkey, Sends Pence To Ankara To Negotiate Peace Talks With Kurds. Aired 11p- 12a ET

Aired October 14, 2019 - 23:00   ET

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


[23:00:00]

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

And it is the eve of CNN's big Democratic presidential debate in Ohio. We're going to talk all about it ahead.

But we're also going to focus on five big developments in the next hour including the results of a new poll which shows who is leading the Democratic race hours before the candidates face off.

Also tonight, President Trump former top adviser on Russia testifies in Congress for more then 10 hours about the Ukrainian scandal.

And breaking news, the Wall Street Journal reporting that investigators are examining Rudy Giuliani's financial dealings with Ukraine and looking at his bank records.

President Trump ramping up his attacks on Joe Biden's son Hunter and his business ties while the president's own children are reaping financial benefits while their father sits in the Oval Office.

And more breaking news for you tonight. The president imposing sanctions on Turkey due to its military in Syria to battle Kurdish forces who are America's allies.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHAEL PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: President Erdogan reached out and requested the call. And President Trump communicated to him very clearly that the United States of America wants Turkey to stop the invasion, to implement an immediate ceasefire and to begin to negotiate with Kurdish forces in Syria to bring an end to the violence.

The United States of America did not give a green light to Turkey to invade Syria.

(END VIDEO CLIP) LEMON: But we're going to begin with some breaking news for you here and it's about the Ukraine scandal. Joining me now is Frank Bruni, Shimon Prokupecz, and Toluse Olorunippa. I appreciate all of you joining us.

First, I got to start with you, Shimon. This is New York Times is reporting it is explosive and it pulls former national security adviser John Bolton into this mess. What can you tell us, Shimon?

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: Yes. Essentially what this story says here, Don, is that Fiona Hill who as you said testified this today all day. Ten hours of testimony. Just coming out that she -- that Bolton expressed concern over what he called what the story calls a rogue operation and that lawyers on the national security council Bolton adviser to notify lawyers on the national security council that Giuliani, Rudy Giuliani was working with Mick Mulvaney who is the White House chief of staff. On what the story says was a rogue operation with legal implication.

LEMON: Let's start from the beginning here. Because it says the New York Times is starting off by saying here, Shimon, they said that the effort to pressure Ukraine for political help provoked a heated confrontation inside the White House last summer. That so alarmed John R. Bolton, then the national security advisor that he told an aid to alert White House lawyers. House investigators were told.

But they're saying that he -- this alarmed him so much that he started sounding the alarm about a rogue operation between Giuliani and others.

PROKUPECZ: So, let me read a quote here according to her testimony of what Bolton said. he said, quote, "I am not part of whatever drug deal Rudy and Mulvaney are cooking up." Mr. Bolton told Miss Hill to tell White House lawyers. That is devastating.

LEMON: Yes.

PROKUPECZ: This entire story here really putting things in perspective. Certainly, Ms. Hill's testimony today according to the story in the New York Times is going to raise a lot of eyebrows. This is -- this quote from her. Drug deal. "I'm not going to be part of whatever drug deal Rudy and Mulvaney are cooking up. This now brings obviously Bolton into the center of this.

LEMON: Yes.

PROKUPECZ: But we have to hear from him now.

LEMON: Well, the Times -- they are reporting that John Bolton called Rudy Giuliani a hand grenade who would blow everything up. I mean, Ms. Hill quoted this saying that this was, you know, she said that during an earlier conversation.

Frank, I want to bring this in because he's -- bring you in -- because he's quoting what they said here. Bolton told Fiona Hill to report to Giuliani's rogue operation to the White House to White House lawyers saying, "I'm not part of whatever drug deal Rudy and Mulvaney are cooking up. Mr. Bolton, a Yale-trained lawyer told Ms. Hill to tell White House lawyers according to the testimony." What do you make of that?

FRANK BRUNI, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I mean, the language is extraordinary. This drug deal. Rudy Giuliani is a hand grenade. John Bolton isn't just saying I have some concerns about what's going on. He's gaping at what he is seeing.

And now, you know, there's a lot of -- this is going to be even more interesting hearing from him. And one has to note that Donald Trump had such bitter break ups with so many of his former senior aides who have no great investment in trying to protect this president at this point. So, I'm really curious to hear what John Bolton is going to have to say if we ever hear from him. And if we do, I don't think President Trump can trust that he's going to bite his tongue and hold anything back.

Also, Gordon Sondland is --

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: Yes. That's what I want t -- I want to ask Toluse about it. Because, Toluse, Mr. Bolton, and this is another quote.

[23:04:59]

Mr. Bolton got into a sharp exchange on July 10 with Gordan Sondland, the Trump donor turned ambassador to the European Union who was working with Rudolph W. Giuliani, the president's personal lawyer to press Ukraine to investigate Democrats. Mr. Gordon in his testimony provided to investigators. Gordon Sondland is going to testify. They going to want to know about that.

TOLUSE OLORUNNIPA, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, that's exactly right. And Mr. Sondland has already started to put some distance between himself and the president. You remember these text messages that came out, basically saying that the people that were working on this Ukraine scandal wanted a deliverable in order to get a meeting between the White House and the Ukrainian president.

And that deliverable included trying to get the Ukrainians to announce an investigation into President Trump's political rivals.

I think one other thing that's really important with this latest bomb shell reporting is that Mulvaney is not just the chief of staff of the White House. He was also the Office of Management and Budget director for the better part of two years within the White House.

And that OMB was the agency that basically stopped the money from going forward to Ukraine. This was a mysterious halt on these funds. And the fact that Mulvaney is now integrally involved in this scheme which Bolton allegedly called a drug deal it makes it look much more like a quid pro quo.

Like Bolton was saying that he was worried that Giuliani and Mulvaney were basically trying to pressure the Ukrainians to deliver something for the president's political aspirations in exchange for funding or White House visit.

And that's what the Democrats are trying to put those dots together and make sure they have a complete case on what exactly was happening. And it looked like Fiona Hill just gave them bomb shell information that they can use to continue their investigation.

LEMON: Toluse, yes or no, Congress is going to want to hear from Bolton? Correct? What do you think?

OLORUNNIPA: I think so. And the fact that he's not on good terms with the president now, that he was reportedly writing a book. I think that he can expect he will be called by Congress to testify to say exactly what happened behind closed doors.

And the fact that he doesn't seem to be loyal to the president any more may make him a kind of whistleblower on his own to be able to say what was happening in some of these meetings and why he was so concerned.

LEMON: Frank, we were talking about that before the show started.

BRUNI: Yes.

LEMON: About --

BRUNI: Well, I mean, when you have this kind of turnover in an administration. When you have this many people leaving on bad terms, you are, as a president, exposed in a very special way.

The other thing that's extraordinary here is every day that goes by we learn that it's not just a few people who had eyes on what was going on in terms of pressure on Ukraine. It's a lot of different people in the administration.

I'm shocked that it took this long for it to come out. But now that it's come out and more and more comes out the president has a big problem because this is not just a few people, you know, knew about this one phone call. This was a sustained effort and a lot of people had eyes on it. And as we're learning today in terms of John Bolton, a lot of people were sounding alarms.

PROKUPECZ: And also, Mick Mulvaney, I think that is significant. This is the first time that we're hearing at least this allegation that he was so involved in it.

For John Bolton to make this kind of statement -- it's the first time I think that we're hearing that Mulvaney was part of this, that he and Rudy were working together in some way on this operation.

I think that is going to change everything significantly because this goes much deeper in the White House than I think -- this is the White House chief of staff now involved.

LEMON: And this is beyond the whistleblower. PROKUPECZ: This is beyond the whistleblower. This is -- this is, so

you have the national security, head of the national security council raising all sorts of concern has no control over what's going on here. Right?

BRUNIA: and at a certain point Donald Trump can't keep saying this just a partisan whistleblower. Wait. This is just two partisan whistleblowers. Wait, maybe three. I mean, we have more and more people coming forward and it's going to be harder for him to discredit this. It's impossible already, but.

LEMON: You got the national security adviser reportedly from the New York Times involved in this. You have Gordon Sondland who is a Trump donor turned ambassador to the European Union. And then you have the acting White House chief of staff involved in this. And then you have the president's personal attorney reportedly involved in this. I mean. OK.

BRUNI: Layers and layers and layers.

LEMON: We got more breaking news that I want to you talk about, Frank. The Wall Street journal is also reporting that Rudy Giuliani's bank records are now being examined and witnesses have been questioned about his role in Ukraine since at least August. How much trouble is Giuliani in?

BRUNI: I think he is potentially in a lot of trouble. And the conversations I keep on having with people in Washington is at what point might we see Rudy Giuliani arrested. I mean, that's a serious question.

I mean, the arrest we saw last week were those an end game? I don't think so. I think that was part of an effort to turn people and get bigger fish down the road. And the big fish they might be going after is Rudy Giuliani. And then if they get him, what does he say about President Trump?

LEMON: Toluse, we're learning that Hill raised concerns about Marie Yovanovitch's removal. That was the ambassador to Ukraine Trump fired. That she told lawmakers today about her concerns about Giuliani's shadow foreign policy.

[23:10:03]

The Wall Street Journal is also reporting that she and other White House officials were so concerned about efforts to push Ukraine to open certain investigations, that they raised concerns with the White House lawyer. All of that now combined with this bomb shell. I mean, what's next?

OLORUNNIPA: Yes. It does all seem to be coming together. If Democrats want to make a case that there was a conspiracy to get the Ukrainians to dig up dirt on Joe Biden to help President Trump's reelection that they have -- Democrats have a lot of evidence.

They have the fact that the Ukrainian ambassador who, the ambassador to Ukraine who wasn't on board with the scheme was fired abruptly. And everyone else was saying that she was doing a good job. But Rudy Giuliani didn't like her so the president got rid of her.

They have the fact that the president basically yanked Vice President Pence from going to the Ukrainian president's inauguration at the last minute. And that was seen as another pressure tactic. And now you have this phone call with President Trump and President Zelensky of Ukraine saying I want you to do me a favor.

So, the Democrats have a lot of information that's coming out including this latest bomb shell reporting about John Bolton being concerned about a drug deal, in his words, saying that there was something untoward going on.

I think the Democrats are likely to put all of this together and once they're able to connect all of the missing pieces and really put together a case to the American people, it's going to make it harder for President Trump as you said earlier to say that this is just one whistleblower who is being partisan.

It's looking like more and more people within the inner circle of the White House were concerned and had an issue with what was happening and what Rudy Giuliani was doing. And the fact that he is now in legal trouble. All of that put together it's going to make it very hard for this White House to counter what is a growing threat of impeachment.

LEMON: All right. I need all of you to stick around. We're going to have more on the breaking news. The former national security adviser concerned about whatever it was that he believed that Rudy Giuliani was cooking up with Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff as it involved Ukraine. The New York Times is reporting that. Back in a moment.

[23:15:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: So, we're back now with the breaking news. The New York Times is reporting that former national security adviser John Bolton called Rudy Giuliani a hand grenade who would blow everything up.

Back with me now Frank Bruni, Shimon Prokupecz, and Toluse Olorunippa. And we're joined now by Elie Honig. Elie, listen, that is colorful. But what's interesting is that the national security adviser John Bolton at the time was so concerned about Rudy Giuliani's dealings whatever he was doing with Ukraine, that he sent it up the chain --

ELIE HONIG, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes.

LEMON: -- to saying you should contact White House lawyers.

HONIG: Yes. What's becoming clear to me now is we're sort of seeing sides choosing up. We're seeing on the one hand your career people, your professional diplomats and State Department people, Hill, Yovanovitch, apparently, John Bolton, for better or for worse. That's ultimately what he's about on the one side and then you see the Trump loyalists on the other. Rudy, Sondland, Mulvaney on the other side.

And if I'm sort of sizing up this case from an investigative perspective I'm looking at the career people. I'm trying to build this case around the non-partisan career State Department diplomatic people. They are credible. They are backed up by the texts and the calls we've seen. That's where I'm focusing my investigation.

LEMON: So, walk us through. What do we know?

PROKUPECZ: Look, the one thing I think most important here is that you have a national security adviser the man who is supposed to be running really this entire, the security apparatus of this country, sort of our international relations in some way, is saying there are rogue operations going on behind my back. Things I don't know with -- I don't want to be part of this is raising all sorts of issues about this. And I think that is the most significant part about this.

Yes, there's a lot of colorful language in this. But the fact that someone inside the White House is calling what Mick Mulvaney, Rudy Giuliani, the president here in some ways, other people, Gordon Sondland, are running a rogue operation. I mean, that's to me the most stunning -- that language. Rogue operation with legal implications.

LEMON: When you think about -- think about all the players who are in this, Toluse. You've got John R. Bolton, the national security adviser. Gordon Sondland who is the Trump donor, an ambassador to the European Union who is going to testify on Thursday in Congress.

Then you've got Fiona Hill today. Right? And then you've Mick Mulvaney who is the acting White House chief of staff, and you got Rudy Giuliani, the president's personal attorney.

Now I just want to read this and just tell me what you think of this one graph here. It says, Mr. Bolton, because he was so concerned about what they were doing over there, instructed Fiona Hill who is going -- who testified today, the senior director of Russian and Eurasian affairs to notify the chief lawyer for the national security council that Mr. Giuliani was working with Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff on a rogue operation with legal implications. Ms. Hill told the investigators according to two people familiar with her closed-door testimony. That's a pretty big statement right there, Toluse.

OLORUNNIPA: It's huge. It means that inside the White House that the very inner circle of the Oval Office there was deep concern not just about impropriety but potentially legally implicating action by the president's closest adviser including White House acting chief of staff.

That's really taking the scandal right into the heart of the Oval Office saying the president's personal lawyer and president's basically his top aide closest to him within the White House were working on a rogue operation and the timing is important here.

This is at a time when very mysteriously the White House had pulled back almost $400 million in aid that was supposed to go to Ukraine, no one knew why this money was being held back.

[23:20:05]

The State Department couldn't say why. The Defense Department couldn't say what was going on. This was a personal decision that happened within the White House. And accusations by President Trump which came out later saying he was worried about corruption, he wanted other countries to pitch in.

But now it seems like there are people within the White House that can tell a different story about why that money was being held up. What was happening with this quote, unquote, "drug deal" with Rudy Giuliani trying to get dirt and trying to get the Ukrainians to put negative information out the about the president's political opponents.

If that story gets fully flushed out it could be rally damaging for the White House. And it already starting to look pretty bad for the president and for his top advisers.

LEMON: Yes. As I understand, Shimon, you've more breaking news to tell us though?

PROKUPECZ: Yes. So, this comes from our Gloria Borger who's been talking to our sources tonight and confirming a lot of this reporting. Saying that Fiona Hill testified that John Bolton was angry. He was very upset about what was going on here and said to her Rudy Giuliani is a hand grenade that is going to blow us all up. A lot of what the New York Times here is reporting.

And then the source went on to tell Gloria Borger that she told members on the Hill that Ms. Hill there testifying that you go, that apparently, John Bolton told her you go and tell Eisenberg I am not part of whatever drug deal Rudy and Mulvaney are cooking up.

So, what was going on there? Right? What exactly Bolton is referring to here in terms of --

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: Well, I think it's the drug deal that --

PROKUPECZ: Yes.

LEMON: -- that was a metaphor.

PROKUPECZ: But yes.

LEMON: That was a metaphor.

PROKUPECZ: The point is, what else was going on here in terms of what was Bolton seeing? I mean, here we have in the New York Times story it says that it's not the first time the Bolton expressed concerns over Rudy Giuliani. And over -- and Giuliani being part of this.

LEMON: I think, Frank, when he was saying, obviously he thought something nefarious was going on. BRUNI: Yes.

LEMON: That something was unusual because this was sort of this back- door operation.

BRUNI: Yes. He doesn't mean drug deal per se. He means what's going on is so ridiculous, so beyond the pale. He is comparing it to a drug deal. I do wonder, though, what administration did John Bolton think he was joining? You know, I mean, his shock here is well earned shock and we should be shocked. We should be appalled by what's going on.

But the idea that he didn't expect to see this he must have been sleeping for the Trump administration prior to his appointment.

LEMON: Well, you know, this reminds me though, the interview, the ABC interview with George Stephanopoulos when he said, when the president said it was OK to dig up political dirt on his political --

(CROSSTALK)

BRUNI: Anybody would use it --

LEMON: That anybody -- that anybody would do it. And it's just the state of mind --

(CROSSTALK)

BRUNI: But I think the president believes that. I mean, I think part of the reason he gets into these jams. I mean, most of it is because he says morally, he doesn't have principles, he doesn't respect norms. He thinks it's cool and provocative and naughty and bold to just kind of junk ethics and norms and it's not that they are there for reasons.

But I also think he sees the world as a place that rewards the shameless and the ruthless.

LEMON: Yes.

BRUNI: And he is just doing what anybody else would do.

LEMON: Well, he's admitting it on camera that he did it and it's OK. But everyone says we need more evidence. OK. Whatever. Go ahead, Elie.

HONIG: To Frank's point, John Bolton has been around the block a couple times. Right?

LEMON: Right.

HONIG: He's been in this game for decades.

LEMON: He's not exactly a dove either.

HONIG: No. And he's not someone like naive idealist.

LEMON: Right. HONIG: So, for this to go so far for him to say enough and to storm out in anger and to compare it to a hand grenade and a drug deal is really pretty telling. I mean, this guy has been through it.

And the whole thing about this rogue operation is it's not like they had some broad political theory that they wanted to impart. They wanted one thing. They wanted dirt. They wanted this investigation at whatever cost and whatever arms they had to twist, and whatever norms ethics and maybe even laws they had to break to get it.

LEMON: Shimon, you have more reporting on what Fiona Hill said.

(CROSSTALK)

PROKUPECZ: Yes. So, all this started to come out now. So here we have more. She, according to a source who is familiar with Fiona Hill's testimony. She told members on the Hill today that she saw wrongdoing on related to the Ukraine policy and she reported it. Obviously, this woman was there.

LEMON: What's said, she tried to report it to --

(CROSSTALK)

PROKUPECZ: Right. She tried to --

LEMON: -- the NSC council.

PROKUPECZ: -- report it to the national security advisers to the team there. And again, you know, she was -- she was -- she saw a lot it seems. And she's really laying out. She spent 10 hours on the Hill today. So, this is only a part of what we know right now. And it is devastating.

LEMON: Let me read just a little bit more, because it says, and I'll read the whole thing because it's not -- it's short.

It's says a source familiar with Fiona Hill's testimony says that Russia -- the former Russia adviser told lawmakers that she saw wrongdoing in the Ukraine policy and tried to report it to officials including the NSC counsel.

And this is a quote. It says, the source -- she saw wrongdoing related to the Ukraine policy and reported it, the source said.

[23:25:00]

The source said Hill also drew a link between Sondland and Trump in her testimony. Sondland and Trump were in her testimony. Sondland and trump were in direct contact. Hill told the lawmakers according to the source.

This source said that Hill, said that the contacts between Trump and Sondland went beyond the discussions about the text. But the source didn't want to elaborate further than that. And that is from Jim Acosta and others. HONIG: I want to know what those are as a prosecutor, right? Right

there is a target to shoot at.

LEMON: Wow.

HONIG: What were those other contacts between Sondland and Trump? There's more than just those texts.

LEMON: We -- I have to take a break. And I'm sure there will be more breaking news on the other side of this break.

But Sam Donaldson is going to weigh in right after this. Thank you all. I appreciate it.

[23:30:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: And we're back now with the breaking news. A CNN source saying that the effort to pressure Ukraine for political help alarmed John Bolton so much that he told an aide to alert White House lawyers that Giuliani was a hand grenade, who will blow everyone up.

And a source familiar with Fiona Hill's testimony says the former Russia adviser told lawmakers that she was -- she saw wrongdoing in the Ukraine policy and reported it.

Joining me now is Sam Donaldson. Sam, I appreciate you joining us. What do you think of The New York Times reporting tonight?

SAM DONALDSON, ABC NEWS FORMER ANCHOR AND REPORTER: Well, it's a bomb shell. It's like poor Donald Trump has the version of the Chinese water torture. Drop, drop, drop and a final drop breaks his skull. We're just watching this develop. It's amazing.

I saw the Nixon plumbers operation. That was in the White House. They were the rogue operation. They broke into the Watergate and elsewhere looking for dirt on President Nixon's opponent. This, according to the Times, is a rogue operation involving the highest officials of the land, the chief of staff of the White House, the president himself, of course.

And Bolton wanted to alert the lawyers. What did he expect White House lawyers to do? Call the cops? Read the president his rights? Donald Trump, you have a right -- that may happen someday. Not yet. But it's just amazing.

I believe, Don, that this conventional wisdom that we've all thought was right, that the House would impeach, but the Senate would never convict with all those Republicans there, may be wrong. I think the Senate can convict if things like this keep going.

LEMON: Interesting. You -- the new reporting, Sam, says that according to today's testimony, Bolton told Fiona Hill to tell the White House lawyers that, "I am not part of whatever drug deal Rudy and Mulvaney are cooking up." And we're also learning more about Mick Mulvaney's involvement and how he is working with Giuliani. What do you make of that?

DONALDSON: Well, again, it's high officials going against government policy. They are the government. They're supposed to set the policy and carry out the president's wishes. But, of course, that's where it stops, at the top. It's the president's wishes.

Quite clearly, according to smoking transcript, it's not the tape, but it was leased by the White House and we read that the president says, do us a favor.

And it's quite clear that he tried to put the arm on the Ukrainians to dig up dirt on the Bidens, to use against Biden in an election here in the United States. If people out in the country begin to think that's not right, that's wrong, he's cooked.

LEMON: The whole Sondland part of it to me is maybe the most interesting because Sondland is going to testify. He's also the one on the transcript, right, the text messaging saying, oh no, it's no quid pro quo, and there is also reporting, saying that that came directly from the president.

I think that maybe the one of the most interesting parts of this report. Obviously, Giuliani is the, you know, common denominator here and the president. But there is more bad news for Rudy Giuliani tonight, Sam. More key witnesses are testifying in the impeachment inquiry this week. How much worse could all of this get?

DONALDSON: I don't know. It's going -- Sondland, for instance, is not a career diplomat. He is an ambassador because he gave a lot of money. He is going to have to save himself. When we see a report that what he'll testify is, when he told the ambassador, our ambassador to Ukraine, there was no quid pro quo, it was because the phone call, Donald J. Trump had told him to say that.

He is saying, hey, it's not my idea. I'm clean here. The gambling going on here, I know nothing about it. Really? Well, let's see about that. His testimony will be important. But I think what we heard today, the report of what we heard today, what was said today rather, is perhaps even more damaging that Sondland's testimony will be.

LEMON: You have covered politics in the world for decades, so you would know better than anyone else.

DONALDSON: I'm an old guy.

(LAUGHTER)

DONALDSON: I'm an old guy.

LEMON: Public support. Public support --

DONALDSON: Happy to be one.

(LAUGHTER)

LEMON: Public support is key to impeachment -- DONALDSON: Vital.

LEMON: -- to the impeachment inquiry. And that you say that it could spark House Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and the GOP to turn on the president. You talked a little bit about it earlier. But let me put up this poll and I'm going to get you discuss a little bit more. This new Quinnipiac poll puts support for impeachment and removal at 46 with 48 against it. How much public support is needed for Republicans to flip?

DONALDSON: Much more support than that. I mean, the Fox poll says 51 percent think it is an inquiry that should be pursued and all of this.

[23:34:57]

DONALDSON: It is just starting, but it is moving so fast, and we'll see whether there's enough time for Americans out there who are busy with their own lives doing other things, not even watching your show, get interested in it, think it's not just a bunch of politicians squabbling in Washington. I'm tired of that. But there's something going on here. There is really gambling going on here.

LEMON: Mm-hmm.

DONALDSON: And if enough Americans -- because remember, Trump has 30, 31 percent of hard core. They'll follow him to hell or wherever he is going. They don't care about the facts. They don't know about the facts. OK, they're fine people, except they're ignorant about these things that we're talking about and they will not budge from that.

But there are 70 percent of the rest of us. If enough of those people decide there's something important here and they think the president ought to be removed, he will be. But, of course, if they think it shouldn't happen and the poll you just cited is not near enough support to sustain conviction in the Senate, then it won't happen.

Let me just give you a little story and that is about Robert C. Byrd, senior Democrat from West Virginia. Clinton is being impeached and is being tried in the Senate, and in two weeks, they'll vote. My dear professional companion Cokie Roberts asked the question, senator, how are you going to vote on Article One? It's on perjury. Perjury is a felony. And they say he lied to the federal judge under oath.

And Byrd said and I quote him directly because it is emblazed in my mind, who is kidding whom? Of course he committed perjury. But the people seem to like him. They don't want him removed, and I don't know how I'm going to vote. And of course in two weeks, he voted no, which probably was the right vote.

It's up to the American people. Guys out there and gals, if you want this president removed, he will be. And if you don't, I don't care what the evidence shows, I don't care what anybody says, he won't be.

LEMON: Sam Donaldson, we'll leave it there. Thank you, sir.

DONALDSON: OK, Don.

LEMON: Thank you. Busy breaking news night. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[23:40:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: As President Trump faces an impeachment inquiry partly related to interactions with Ukraine, he and his sons are attacking Vice President Biden's son, Hunter, claiming he used his family name for profit when his father served in the Obama administration.

Hunter Biden is stepping down from the board of a Chinese-backed company and promises to forego all foreign work if his father is elected president. There's no evidence that Hunter Biden was involved in any wrongdoing.

It is ironic given President Trump's children and their business activities Ivanka Trump still retains a stake in the Trump family business while serving as White House adviser. So, here she is with billionaire developer Hussein Sajwani, builder of the Trump International Golf in Dubai, which opened just after Trump's inauguration. Sajwani's company says that they have had an uptick in interest since Trump took office.

Here's Don Jr. appearing at an event in India which features Prime Minister Modi there. He was there to promote condos at planned Trump- branded towers.

And here's the president golfing with his son Eric at Turnberry in Scotland. That resort is currently under investigation from Congress and the Air Force after an uptick of military personnel bookings since Trump took office.

There you go. William Cohan is here, the author of "Four Friends: Promising Lives Cut Short," Michael D'Antonio, the author of "The Truth About Trump." Good evening. There is a lot of hypocrisy to go around, right, on this particular story. What do you make of the president's sons attacking Hunter Biden when there is no evidence but then you have them.

MICHAEL D'ANTONIO, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, two interesting facts. Don Jr. just got back from speaking at the University of Florida where he took $50,000 in student money to give an address. Prior to that, when he went to India, the trip that you noted there, it costs the taxpayers $32,000.

If you consider the Trump kids, almost every day, they probably make more money than Hunter Biden made in all of his years in serving investors and companies abroad. So, the hypocrisy is astounding. They know it. They told me personally that they are all -- the beneficiaries of nepotism. So, this is just the same Trump playbook of casting on others your own sins.

LEMON: Mr. Cohan, Eric Trump told The New York Times -- and this is a quote, "When my father became president, our family stopped doing international business deals." Do you think that is an accurate statement?

(LAUGHTER)

WILLIAM COHAN, SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT, VANITY FAIR: It is obviously not even remotely close to a factual statement. You know, Eric is in charge of the golf courses. Eric is in charge of the winery. I mean, President Trump has talked about having the G7 meeting next year at the Doral Country Club in Florida that he owns, and that Deutsche Bank has lent money to.

So, you know, it's all one big head fake. It has nothing to do with what President Trump did with the Ukrainian prime minister. He's just trying to deflect attention to Hunter Biden when it just has nothing to do with the real story.

[23:45:01]

LEMON: Is it your belief that they are profiting off of the presidency, the family?

COHAN: Of course they are. They have not sold their businesses. They have not put them in a blind trust. They continue to try to do deals. Now, the only possibly interesting aspect to all of this is that nobody wants to live in Trump buildings anymore. They are taking the names off of Trump buildings here in Manhattan.

I think that obviously a lot of their golf courses are struggling and a lot of their condominium projects have either been pulled or struggling. So to some extent, it's been a negative.

Not for Ivanka who seems to still do business and her husband Jared who seems to make a lot of money every year and was able to refinance his huge troubled real estate investment at 666, 5th Avenue as a result of being the president's son-in-law and being in the White House.

LEMON: With all of this, quickly, I just have 15 seconds, do you think with all of this going on with the investigation, do you think we will ever see the tax returns even with the courts here in New York?

D'ANTONIO: I think we will. I think that it is going to be a huge scandal when we discover the ownership stakes that they have, the emoluments they're collecting, and the poultry amount of charity that given over the years.

COHAN: And the interest payments who they're making them to.

LEMON: Thank you, gentlemen. I appreciate your time. The countdown is on to CNN's big democratic presidential debate live from Ohio tomorrow night at 8:00 right here on CNN. We'll be right back.

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[23:50:00]

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LEMON: A week after pulling out U.S. troops from the region and turning a blind eye as Turkey invades Northern Syria, President Trump appears to be having second thoughts. He's imposing economic sanctions on Turkey and sending Vice President Mike Pence, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, to lead negotiations between Ankara and the Syrian defense forces.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MIKE POMPEO, UNITED STATES SECRETARY OF STATE: The United States of America wants Turkey to stop the invasion, to implement an immediate ceasefire, and to begin to negotiate with Kurdish forces in Syria to bring an end to the violence.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: So joining me now to discuss is Ambassador Nicholas Burns, the former U.S. ambassador to NATO and the former ambassador to Greece. Thank you so much for joining us. So, what have I gotten wrong here? Had the president not pulled the troops out, would we even be in this situation right now?

NICHOLAS BURNS, FORMER AMBASSADOR TO NATO, FORMER AMBASSADOR TO GREECE: We wouldn't, Don. If the president had just stayed with a very successful American policy in Northern Syria, you wouldn't have the refugees, the thousands of them, the people killed, ISIS re- awoken, the Russians and Syrians taking our position.

And frankly, I think that one of the biggest casualties of all, the credibility of the United States. We abandoned our friends. That credibility is being questioned all over the world.

LEMON: So what about these sanctions now? He's imposing sanctions. I mean, is that -- will that make a difference? Is it too little too late? What?

BURNS: I think it's too little too late. You know, the president was the one who caused all this. Don, I think as Americans, we have to see this as a significant defeat for the United States, not for our soldiers who did everything right, but for the commander in chief who has done everything wrong in this colossal bad judgment.

And sending the vice president to Ankara to remonstrate with President Erdogan, I don't think it is going to have a major effect. The Turks have gone well beyond 30 kilometers deep in the Syria, 400 kilometers wide. I don't think they're going to stop and pull back.

The president could have avoided all of this. But now, he is in a really tough position. You know, Harry Truman used to say the buck stops here. Great presidents, strong presidents take responsibility for their misfortunes, for their errors. The president is not doing that. He's pointing the finger at everybody but himself.

LEMON: Let me tell you, this is the former commander of U.S. Forces in Afghanistan, General John Allen. This is what he's telling CNN. He said that Trump has blood on his hands, and I quote here, "There was no chance Erdogan would keep his promise, and full blown ethnic cleansing is underway by Turkish supported militias. This is what happens when Trump follows his instincts and because of his alignments with autocrats."

Do you agree with the general?

BURNS: I agree with General Allen, who knows what he's talking about. You know, the president has this really appalling insecurity. He doesn't listen to his generals or his ambassadors. The State Department, the Defense Department counselled against what the president did. You see the furious reaction even from the republican leadership in the Senate.

The president has made a very, very big mistake here. The consequences are severe and they're worldwide. I'm in Melbourne in Australia. We have about as strong a military relationship as we could have with them, and yet I've been asked repeatedly today, what does this mean for us? Would you back us in a conflict? I think that's what General Allen is referring to, and he's right.

LEMON: Ambassador, can we even calculate in this moment how much ground we've lost when it comes to Syria?

BURNS: The United States has lost, in one week, our entire position in Syria that our troops had held courageously for the past five or six years. The president just gave it away. The troops have been withdrawn. The Russians are coming in. And the Syrian army is behind us.

And we've also lost something else, our credibility as a country that can be relied upon, the word of the United States. That's a big loss in one week.

LEMON: We always appreciate your expertise. Thank you so much, ambassador.

[23:55:00]

BURNS: Thank you, Don.

LEMON: And thanks for watching. Our coverage continues.

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