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President Trump Feeling The Brunt Of His Wrong Policy In Syria; House Speaker Nancy Pelosi Had War Of Words With President Trump; SDNY Digs Into Rudy Giuliani's Records; Rudy Giuliani Is Facing More Than Just A Criminal Investigation; Critical Week In Trump Impeachment Inquiry; Rep. Harley Rouda (D-CA) Is Interviewed About Donald Trump, Troops Withdrawal, And Impeachment Inquiry; Never Before Seen Trump Tax Documents. Aired 11p-12a ET
Aired October 16, 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: This is CNN TONIGHT. I'm Don Lemon.
We have five big developments that we're going to focus on in this hour ahead.
The House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says President Trump had a meltdown during a meeting at the White House on Turkey's military operations against the Kurds in Syria. Kurdish forces are U.S. allies.
The president prides his loyalty. But today many Republicans on Capitol Hill voted to rebuke his decision to withdraw U.S. forces from Syria and leave the Kurds exposed.
The federal investigation of Rudy Giuliani, the president's attorney now includes a counterintelligence probe.
The impeachment inquiry is expanding. The former senior advisor to the Secretary of State Mike Pompeo testifies that he quit over the Ukraine scandal.
And tax documents belonging to the Trump organization, ProPublica says that on two properties, the documents show they appear more profitable to lenders and less profitable to tax officials.
We're going to get to all of that in just a moment but I want to focus now on the big picture here. Let's start with that and that chaotic meeting between the president and Democratic leaders.
Joining me now is Charlie Dent, Michael Shear, and Wajahat Ali. Gentlemen, good evening. Thank you so much. We got a lot of ground to cover. First off, though, Michael, this is for you. I want you to listen to how the House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer described the meeting with the president.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D), UNITED STATES SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: We witness on the part on the president was a meltdown, sad to say.
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), SENATE MINORITY LEADER: He called her a third-rate politician. This was not a dialogue. It was sort of a diatribe, a nasty diatribe, not focused on the facts.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: So, Michael, I've got to ask you, is the president's meltdown a reflection of the chaos he's facing on two fronts, impeachment and Syria?
MICHAEL SHEAR, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, I think that's right. This president has shown a propensity for emotional outbursts when he feels like he's being squeezed and right now he's being squeezed in ways that normally he doesn't see, right?
The Republican vote that you mentioned condemning the Syria, the resolution condemning his actions in Syria, it was a remarkable vote that encompassed a lot of the people who normally are his rock solid supporters, the Republicans who never, you know, kind of leave him in the lurch and they did, and so he's obviously under pressure in a way that he isn't normally.
And then on the impeachment, I mean, the remarkable day after day after day of these amazing testimony, hours and hours of testimony from his own administration officials with, you know, headlines almost hourly damaging to his credibility and helping the Democrats to build this impeachment case.
And so, you can imagine the kind of, you know, pressure he feels and it seems like in this meeting, it kind of built up to a point where he, you know, at least according to the Democrats that were in the room, he snapped a bit.
LEMON: Charlie Dent, I want to bring you in. Because Speaker Pelosi said that the president was shaken up by a bipartisan House vote opposing the troop withdrawal from Syria, vote that went 354 to 60. I mean, many Republicans voted against the president. That's a huge rebuke, don't you think?
CHARLIE DENT, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Of course. It's enormous -- it's an enormous rebuke, Don. I mean, the policy of the president to simply betray so cruelly our Kurdish allies was just so stunning and striking in terms of how mean it was.
I mean, the president, he is empowered. He has empowered Putin, Assad ISIS, Turkey, Iran. I mean, on so many levels this is a betrayal not only of the Kurds but of American interests and American values. So, I'm not surprised that members stood up. I'm surprised more haven't stood up on other issues but I'm glad they stood up on this one because it was an egregious violation of decency.
LEMON: Wajahat, your turn now. You say that between the president throwing our allies to the wolves and the impeachment inquiry heating up, more Republicans will jump ship. Do you actually -- do you believe that? WAJAHAT ALI, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I believe smart rats jump a sinking
orange ship and if you don't believe me, you haven't paid attention to the last week.
Look, there is people who are still public servants who are defying the Trump administration obstruction and actually voluntarily coming to give testimony, right? So, you had Ambassador McKinley, you have Fiona Hill, you have Ambassador Yovanovitch who came out and talk. You have Sondland coming out tomorrow --
ALI: -- to hopefully save himself but I think that's going to be good luck Sondland because that man seems like he's in deep trouble and thoroughly incompetent.
And especially with this Syria vote, 354 to 60. Are you kidding me? That is a stunning rebuke of Donald Trump. Even Lindsey Graham who functions like Donald Trump's boot hill for the past year has been very vocal, very public called into Fox and Friends and talked about what a disaster of a decision it was to withdraw our troops that led to the massacre of Kurds, and by the way, gave a second lease of life to ISIS. And it has only helped, Don, our enemies.
It's helped Syria, Iran, ISIS, and wait for it, Russia. And Russia was the buzz word at the meeting that allegedly triggered Donald Trump and forced him to call Nancy Pelosi a third-grade politician but I think he meant to say third rate.
LEMON: Third rate. Yes. That was -- that's what set him off, apparently. Reportedly. So, Michael, the president furiously tweeting, of course, after that meeting that Wajahat just mentioned including this image with an insult to Nancy Pelosi. There it is up on your screen.
But she reposted it on Twitter on her Twitter page because it looks like she is the only one willing to stand up to him.
ALI: That's right.
SHEAR: Yes, I got to say, I mean, just as a political decision, you got to wonder what was going through the minds of the White House or President Trump, you know, to post that particular picture because not only does it show Nancy Pelosi kind of looking like she's taking command of this room full of mostly men --
LEMON: But is it the same mind that wrote that letter that thought that this would somehow be exculpatory or at least tamped down --
(CROSSTALK) SHEAR: Well, right. I mean, I suppose we shouldn't be surprised. But it just, I mean, to me, the fact that the Pelosi people put that kind of re -- kind of owned that photo by putting it on her Twitter feed at that point says it all.
I mean, this is not a photo that, you know, conveys the strength that you would think a president would want to convey and in fact, it's completely opposite. He looks almost subservient to Nancy Pelosi in that picture and it sort of strains the sort of political logic to think that that would be something you would put out, but as you know, I mean, there is a lot about President Trump that's strange that kind of logic and his Twitter feed is only one of them.
LEMON: Wajahat, listen, the president says that he sent this letter to Turkey's president last week, OK? Writing, "History will look upon you favorably if you get this done the right and humane way. It will look upon you forever as the devil if good things don't happen. Don't be a tough guy. Don't be a fool. I will call you later."
ALI: That's my favorite. I'll call you later. There's been three self -- yes, three self-owns by Trump administration. Number one, he released the transcript of the call with President Zelensky thinking that would absolve him. That basically was the confession.
Number two, this photo that you just showed shows Nancy Pelosi dominating him as a bunch of weak spineless men have their heads burrowed down in their chest looking at their hands. If you show that photo again, that's going to be a historic photo. And number three --
LEMON: But you know what, hold on, hold on, before you -- there are several versions. He sent out a version also with the table empty. Did down see the expressions on everyone's faces there?
LEMON: I mean, they look like they were at a funeral or they had lost their best friend. I'm sorry, Wajahat. Go on.
ALI: Yes, so those rats aren't smart yet, Don. And the third one is this letter that the White House most likely leaked to Fox thinking that will make him look tough but it's dated October 9th. OK? That means Erdogan read it, laughed at Trump, ignored all the puffery. Went ahead and invaded Syria and did exactly what he wanted to do.
In that letter, Donald Trump throws our allies under the bus, the general from the Syrian Democratic Forces. Then number three, does all this fire and furry bluster ends with I'll call you later.
And just today, in the press with the Italian president, he repeats pro-Turkish and pro-Russian talking points throwing the Kurds under the bus and saying there are no angels and saying that the PKK are worse terrorists than ISIS.
LEMON: Yes. ALI: He got completely owned by Erdogan, Kim Jong-un, MBS and as always, Putin. Putin says jump, Trump says how high?
LEMON: Charlie, you also had a very strong reaction to reading this letter but your reaction was just as much about the White House staff, right?
DENT: Yes, I mean, when I looked at that letter, I said, my heavens, there is absolutely utterly no process involved here. I mean, if I were the chief of staff, I would have tackled the president before he hit the send button on that letter.
I mean, clearly, nobody at the National Security Council could have looked at this or defense or at the State Departments. Usually there would be some kind of inner agency review before he would send a letter like that. This is just a riff. He probably dictated this to the closest person and sent it.
Again, it's simply stunning. It just shows the utter chaos in this administration, in this White House that a letter like this could have been sent. I mean, again, almost no words to describe this, how lack of a process that there was involved with this type of a letter.
LEMON: Sincerely, Donald J. Trump. It's signed.
SHEAR: I'll call you later.
LEMON: Thank you.
ALI: But I'm going to destroy your economy. I'm going to destroy your economy. Don't be a fool, but I'll call you later.
LEMON: I'll call you later. Thank you. See you all soon. I appreciate the time.
LEMON: The president demands loyalty from seemingly everyone he encounters but is he returning the favor?
LEMON: Republican allies of President Trump remaining loyal to him on impeachment while blasting him for showing disloyalty to an American ally. Do they see what's going on there?
Let's discuss with Timothy Naftali, the author of "Impeachment: An American History," Michael D'Antonio, the author of "The Truth About Trump." Gentlemen, good evening.
Michael, I'm going to start with you first. Impeachment in Syria, let's take a look at them together here. The president is expecting personal loyalty from his allies on impeachment, right?
And at the same time, he is showing no loyalty to our country's allies, the Kurds. Do you think Republicans, particularly the one whose are upset with him over Syria understand how much this whole thing is a one-way street when it comes to Trump?
MICHAEL D'ANTONIO, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I think they know. I think they are still afraid of him, but he's demonstrated at every point in his life and in every relationship he's ever had, whether it's with a wife, with a business partner, with investors, with people he's contracted with, that he betrays everyone. And now he's engaged.
So, his rage, I think, knows no bounds. He's destroying in part the Republican Party and he could be destroying his own presidency. Everyone sees this except for the president himself who can't get out of his own way.
LEMON: I mean, did you see that press conference today with the Italian --
TIMOTHY NAFTALI, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Yes, and I also read the letter. And it's --
LEMON: We're going to get to the letter.
NAFTALI: It's the most foolish letter. I don't think --
LEMON: Can you stand by? Because I want to play this. We're going to talk about the letter, OK?
NAFTALI: All right.
LEMON: The president tried to justify his decision, Tim, to pull out American forces by accusing the Kurds with no evidence of wrongdoing. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: The Kurds know how to fight and as I said, they're not angels. They're not angels.
Syria also has a relationship with the Kurds, who by the way, are no angels, OK. Who is an angel? There aren't too many around.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Is there any historical precedent for an about face like this and for what he said?
NAFTALI: There have been about faces but we usually associate them with the foreign policy of Great Britain and the foreign policy of the Soviet Union. Our presidents didn't call a war. There was steadfastness about our commitment to containment. No, this is a first time. And, you know, the thing about this is the president can't justify the foreign policy he has selected.
NAFTALI: He -- what he does is he attacks the critic, whether the critic is a Kurd or the critic is an American, he attacks them because he actually doesn't understand foreign policy.
LEMON: OK. So, this is where I'm going now. So then, he puts out this letter, right and he thinks that somehow this is going to tamp down. So, go on. I know you want to talk about it.
NAFTALI: Well, what I want to say about the letter is, to go back to what Michael said, this is a president who thinks everyone is corrupt, and everyone can be bought and that includes foreign leaders. He thinks that he has Erdogan's number. That letter and Erdogan and Turkey's behavior in Syria proves that it's Erdogan who has Trump's number.
Erdogan has played him the way that Kim Jong-un has played him, the way that Vladimir Putin has played him. We have the weakest commander in chief in modern U.S. history. We have never looked this weak. We have never seen such disgrace, lowered on our troops. Our troops are not disgraceful. Our commander in chief has brought disgrace to them.
What's very interesting now is we have national security Republicans who understand the game. They know about foreign policy. They know the president has been disgraceful. They have talked to the president. They know he's a fool on foreign policy.
In the early 1950s Republicans were afraid of Joseph McCarthy and then Joe McCarthy went against the U.S. military. And a lot of Republicans found their inner core, and they realized enough is enough.
LEMON: You think that's going to happen?
NAFTALI: I'm not sure but I'm saying to folks that are arguing that this country is too partisan, I'm saying there are Americans among the Republican Party who recognize that we have the most dangerous commander in chief in modern history in the White House.
LEMON: Yes. So, listen, Michael, you know this impeachment thing, how did we get here, the Ukraine letter and conspiracy theory about Hunter Biden and Joe Biden. Has Ukraine called, excuse me -- so, let's -- I've got to get your thoughts. This is Don junior on Fox News tonight. Just watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, JR., DONALD TRUMP'S SON: When you're the father and your son's entire career is dependent on that, they own you, Sean. That's what it is.
(END VIDEO CLIP) D'ANTONIO: He and I actually had a conversation --
LEMON: Is this the death of irony?
D'ANTONIO: I discussed this very thing with Don Junior. He talked to me about nepotism and how he is the beneficiary of nepotism.
D'ANTONIO: He said Eric and Ivanka and I would not have these positions in any other circumstance. He knows. So, I mean, this is just pathetic. You know, this is disgrace under pressure. This is a guy who just -- he takes after his dad. Let's just put it that way.
LEMON: Well, his dad said in an interview with Larry King, I love nepotism and anyone that doesn't understand it or love it doesn't have children.
D'ANTONIO: It's shocking.
LEMON: There you go. Don Jr.
NAFTALI: No shame.
LEMON: Wow. Thank you, gentlemen. I appreciate it. There could be new trouble for Rudy Giuliani. National security trouble, at least. Those details and how worried he should be. That's next.
LEMON: Rudy Giuliani facing new questions over his dealings with Ukraine as we learned that he's facing more than just a criminal investigation.
Sources telling CNN federal investigators are also looking into counterintelligence concerns. The president's lawyer all over the map in recent weeks as Ukraine scandal engulfs more and more people in the Trump administration.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PETER DOOCY, FOX NEWS HOST: It says you had a shadow agenda regarding Ukraine.
RUDY GIULIANI, PRESIDENT TRUMP'S LAWYER: A completely nonsense. First of all, I never knew about the $250 million military aid.
I wouldn't cooperate with Adam Schiff. I think Adam Schiff should be removed.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, CHIEF ANCHOR, ABC NEWS: You're not going to cooperate.
GIULIANI: I didn't say that. I said I'd consider it.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You said you won't do it. You said you will not cooperate with Adam Schiff.
GIULIANI: I said I will consider it.
I went back to read two books about the Salem witch trial. They required witnesses to face the witch and some witches were acquitted.
LAURA INGRAHAM, FOX NEWS HOST: The witches had it better, in other words?
GIULIANI: They had more rights.
INGRAHAM: They had it better.
GIULIANI: They had more rights.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Joining me now, Shimon Prokupecz, Asha Rangappa, Elie Honig. Good evening. Anybody seen Rudy Giuliani recently?
SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: He's been pretty quiet, attending baseball games for sure.
PROKUPECZ: But he's pretty quiet.
LEMON: The investigation into Giuliani is it's going beyond financial crimes, Shimon. There is now a troubling national security component to this.
PROKUPECZ: Yes. There is a very troubling national security component to this, and this is because the FBI was very concerned about things that they were hearing. We don't know everything that they've been dealing with but certainly the shady characters in all of this, the two men his associates who've been indicted, the dealings with these two men has certainly caught the counter intelligence, the eyes of the FBI and counterintelligence concerned that perhaps, you know, in some ways that maybe Rudy Giuliani was being duped here by these men. Being used.
Because keep in mind, having the presidency, Rudy Giuliani has the president here and we've seen evidence already that where he goes and tells the president things, the president listens and this is concerned investigators greatly and so they started this counter intelligence investigation. It sounds like in beginning of this year we started seeing signs of
lawyers started being asked questions about their dealings with these two men. So, it's still on going, you know. I would compare it to much of what we seen during the Mueller investigation. There were parallel investigations going on at the FBI. You had the counterintelligence and then you had a criminal investigation which is in this case would be the public corruption unit.
LEMON: Can we talk about Rick Perry on the record tonight in an interview with the Wall Street Journal saying that he sought out Giuliani at the president's direction to talk about Ukraine.
PROKUPECZ: So significant there, again, obviously is Rudy Giuliani. The fact that the president was telling everyone you need to talk to Rudy Giuliani about what to do with Ukraine.
The thing that what makes the Rick Perry interview so interesting is that he talks about how he spoke to Rudy Giuliani. The president tells him call Rudy Giuliani. He calls Rudy Giuliani and this was a way to ease a path so that there could be this meeting perhaps with the Ukrainian president and President Trump.
And that Rudy Giuliani explains to him that there are three things that the president is very upset with Ukraine over it. It's the, over the 2016 election, that Ukraine that they have Clinton server, he brought up Paul Manafort that they cooked up some evidence regarding some corruption involving Paul Manafort and then he brought up the dossier is what Rick Perry says, that that's where that originated.
So, you know, Rick Perry says I don't know what was true but this is what was said to me. He says, Rick Perry, that no demands were ever made, that the Bidens never came up. But significant in all of this is again, why is the president going to Rick Perry and saying talk to Rudy Giuliani.
LEMON: Talk to Rudy Giuliani. That's -- I mean, they are going real conspiracy theory deep state here. The dossier, you know. That's the FBI counterintelligence agents began asking Rudy Giuliani back in February and March. You say there is added significance there. What is that?
ASHA RANGAPPA, CNN LEGAL & NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Yes. So, when you open the counterintelligence investigation, you can have what's called a preliminary investigation. Sometimes people are being unwittingly targeted. They may have come in contact with a foreign intelligence service, for example, and you want to see whether there is a threat.
Those have to be closed within six months if you either don't establish that there is a threat or if you warn them and it's taken care of. For anything that beyond six months is called a full investigation. And in my opinion, given that Rudy Giuliani is the president's lawyer that he's a U.S. person, I think for an investigation to have been going on for that long would likely have to have a higher threshold than he just that he might be unwittingly in contact. I mean, we know that he's quite overtly been involved with meeting and
talking to foreign officials. The concern for a counterintelligence division would be is he somehow furthering the interest of a foreign principle, a foreign state, foreign business, you know, some kind of foreign entity that is not in the national security interest of the United States?
LEMON: Interesting. The Southern District of New York, Elie, is digging into Giuliani's possible criminal offenses in an office that he once led --
ELIE HONIG, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes.
LEMON: -- which is very interesting. And there's now the FBI counterintelligence aspect to this. How much trouble is Rudy Giuliani possibly in?
HONIG: Rudy Giuliani ought to know as well as anybody having been the head of the Southern District that it's really bad news if the Southern District is digging into you, and they clearly are digging in. It is a financial investigation that is all encompassing.
There are so many different areas he could face exposure here. As we talked about, he's out there in the open asking Ukraine for help with election information, right? So he could be looking at bribery. He could be looking at foreign election aid. He's got money flying all over the place. He's making half a million dollars from these two guys who got arrested last week.
We don't know who he works for. He could be in violation of Foreign Agents Registration Act.
LEMON: Wasn't he questioning Hunter Biden making money from --
HONIG: Right. Funny how that works. By the way, that's a good question. What's that half million dollars Parnas and Fruman are paying Rudy for? He said it's for legal and business advice? I'd like to see his work product there. I don't know if it's worth half a million dollars. I'd be surprised.
LEMON: Interesting. The president was able to separate himself, right, from Michael Cohen and from Paul Manafort. But when you look at this Giuliani thing, this was born out of an impeachment inquiry. Does it make it harder for the president to distance himself here?
RANGAPPA: Don, we have a transcript where the president is telling foreign officials, go talk to Rudy Giuliani. You know, Shimon just said, like, you know --
LEMON: OK, mic drop. I've been saying that from the very beginning. Again, don't you think the transcript of that is just -- it's pretty damming.
RANGAPPA: It's kind of the smoking gun -- LEMON: OK.
RANGAPPA: -- as we would say.
HONIG: He'll still try it. He'll still do the same thing he tried with Michael Cohen.
RANGAPPA: What the irony here is that, you know, Trump seems to rely on these private attorneys, Michael Cohen, you know, Rudy Giuliani, if -- I'll just say, had he been keeping this within the official channels like just using the State Department? He'd actually arguably have an Article Two foreign policy defense in a way of saying I'm conducting my own foreign policy.
Involving this random private citizen to be running around the world doing your work for you and who is also your personal lawyer kind of makes it clear that you're not doing official business.
LEMON: Twenty seconds, Shimon.
PROKUPECZ: And that's what is so concerning to you. That's why there is this counterintelligence investigation. Because people realize that this is how Trump operates. The spies are very good at realizing this. And so they have basically been able to infiltrate. We saw it during the campaign. We saw it during the inauguration. We are now seeing it during the administration.
PROKUPECZ: That is what is so concerning to the FBI.
LEMON: And then there is a fourth man now who is arrested over a campaign finance case related to Giuliani associates. More on that. Thank you all. Appreciate it.
The House is questioning a former top State Department aid behind closed doors today, and they got more witnesses in the pipeline. Congressman Harley Rouda was in the room today, and I'm going to speak with him, next.
LEMON: This is a critical week in the impeachment inquiry, testimony today from Michael McKinley, the former senior advisor to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. A source says McKinley resigned over concerns about the removal of Marie Yovanovitch, the former ambassador to Ukraine.
A lot to discuss. Congressman Harley Rouda, a California Democrat who sits on the Oversight Committee, joins us now. Representative, I appreciate you joining us. Thank you so much.
REP. HARLEY ROUDA (D-CA): Good to be with you, Don. LEMON: We got to talk about the Syria meeting that broke down, OK?
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said that Trump had -- this is a quote, a meltdown. The president is responding, calling the speaker -- again, a quote here, a sick person. What is going on?
ROUDA: I think the pressure of the impeachment inquiry is getting to the president. He did. He had a breakdown, and I heard that the last comments were I will see you at the polls. It's a very interesting and strange statement for the president to make.
LEMON: Yeah. Listen. There is a picture that the president put out on social media of the empty chairs where Nancy Pelosi and other Democratic leaders were sitting before they walked out. Should the Democrats have walked out?
ROUDA: Based on what the president was saying to the speaker of the House, the leader of a co-branch of government, absolutely.
LEMON: Simple as that. The House Republicans and Democrats pass a resolution, rebuking the president's troop withdrawal. It passed 364- 60 with four members voting present. Condemnation has been really quick and severe, even from the president's close allies like Lindsey Graham. Does this Syria decision weaken the president politically?
ROUDA: I think so. It's bipartisan and bicameral, so we're seeing both in the House and the Senate widespread support against the actions the president has taken.
And when you weave into that, the letter that was released by the White House today, that most people when they first saw that letter thought it could not possibly be true, that the president of the United States dictated, signed, and sent that letter to Erdogan is concern for all of us that diplomacy is being conducted in that manner.
LEMON: Yeah, it is a very interesting letter. Listen, you reacted to today's House vote saying, country over party. Will we see more of that you think, congressman?
ROUDA: I hope so. I've been in these hearings in -- that are being conducted right now with the impeachment inquiry.
ROUDA: Let me tell you what we do know. We know that the president of the United States has asked a foreign leader and their government to help him get the dirt on a political rival and not just one foreign leader, two. These facts are not in dispute.
What we also know is that it's flat out against the law. There are no ifs, ands or buts about that fact. These are by nature then impeachable offenses, and continue to add to it with the ongoing obstruction of justice by not providing documents and witnesses.
But here is the really interesting part, Don. As we dig in deer with these hearings and the testimony from these witnesses, we are learning more and more about the setup and the coverup.
The setup, no one should think that what is unraveling with Ukraine was something that just happened with the call memorandum that was released and verified by the whistleblower. This has been something that has been in the works with Giuliani and associates and the president and others for quite some time and that is the setup that we are digging through and learning more.
And then we're also learning more about the coverup. The coverup is an attempt to stop the information as to what happened coming to the American people.
LEMON: You know the Republicans and the Trump apologists are concerned. They are saying this is being handled behind closed doors and in secrecy, we want to be involved, this should all be public. What do you say?
ROUDA: I sat in the hearing today with 25 members of the Republican caucus and their staffers. So to suggest that they are not in the room and not participating is flat out false.
Second, the way this process is working is that the majority has an hour to question the witness, followed by an hour by the minority, followed by 45-minute blocks for each side. So there is no possibility for the Republicans to honestly suggest that they are not a part of this process since they are sitting in the room --
ROUDA: -- they are asking questions --
LEMON: I get your point. I get your point because we're about to run out of time. I just want to ask you about -- you were there today while Michael McKinley testified, the former advisor to Mike Pompeo. He gave his closed door testimony. Sources say that he accused Pompeo of staying silent as Giuliani stepped up pressure to recall Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch. Quickly, what can you tell us about that, if anything?
ROUDA: Well, I think Ambassador Yovanovitch, everyone agrees, 33 years serviced a foreign officer that had done a fabulous job for the United States who was pushed out for nefarious reason based on alt- right allegations with no basis.
LEMON: Thank you, congressman. I appreciate your time. Thank you so much.
ROUDA: Thank you.
LEMON: ProPublica getting never before seen tax documents belonging to President Trump's real estate business, and at least one expert is calling what's in these documents fraud.
[23:45:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: New reporting shows that President Trump's businesses reported inconsistent numbers on expenses, profits, and occupancy for two major properties. ProPublica says that these discrepancies made Trump properties seemed more profitable to lenders and less profitable to tax officials.
Let's discuss now. Heather Vogell is here. She broke the story, which is part of the Trump, Inc. in collaboration with WNYC. William Cohan is here as well, the author of "Four Friends: Promising Lives Cut Short." Good to see both of you. Thank you so much for coming in this evening.
Heather, first, we know the president's tax information, some of his most closely guarded information, right? We've known that for a while. Let's talk about what you found. You found that there are wide discrepancies in financial numbers reported by Trump's business for his 40 Wall Street property, in particular with insurance?
HEATHER VOGELL, REPORTER, PROPUBLICA: Yes. That was one of the items that we found, major inconsistency with. And what that looked like was that in the tax documents, he was reporting that property insurance costs about $745,000. But in the loan disclosures, it was reported as costing about $457,000.
And what that means is when you have bigger expenses, you have lower profit. So that means for tax officials, the profit looked lower than it did for the loan officials.
LEMON: All right. So, is this fraud?
VOGELL: Well, you know, we can't say that, but we can say that there's a warning on your tax filing instructions that says that false filings are subject to civil and criminal penalties essentially. And we also were told by one of our sources that she called these discrepancies versions of fraud. And we also --
LEMON: Yeah, that's what I was going to say. Does it sound fraudulent to you? I mean, if it walks like a fraud --
MICHAEL COHAN, SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT, VANITY FAIR: First of all, hats off to Heather for extraordinary great reporting. This is what journalists should be doing, and she did a fabulous job. To me, it screams of fraud, Don. I mean, you know, two sets of books, cooking the books, that's the oldest grift in the history.
LEMON: We don't know. That's your assessment.
COHAN: We don't know but there are two sets of books.
LEMON: That's also reporting these different numbers to different entities would be good for Trump? I mean, why -- I don't know. Does that help him in his business?
COHAN: Well, it helps him with getting loans because lenders think that his property is performing better than it otherwise would.
COHAN: And it helps lower his tax bill because it -- you know, tax authorities think he's not making as much money and so his appraisal would be lower. So he wins both ways. He pays less in taxes if this reporting is correct, and he is impressing lenders to thinking, hey, this is a great business, I'll against it.
LEMON: I'll lend against it. I want to be --
COHAN: I want in.
LEMON: I want in. I want in. Heather, you also found that for Trump International Hotel and Tower, Trump business did not disclose certain income. What was he withholding from tax officials?
VOGELL: Well, what was interesting there was that we noticed that the base rent and parking income he reported was twice as big on the loan disclosures as it was on the tax disclosures. I was scratching my head about this for a long time.
Finally, one day, it sort of sunk in. I was looking at the tax form and realizing that there was a box on the tax form for income from antennas that are rented on the roof. And I knew he had those because that was disclosed in the loan disclosures. I knew they were considered major tenants.
But sure enough, that box was blank on the tax forms, and it was blank for the nine years of tax forms that we had. And so we asked the city about this and they told us that they are going to be looking into whether there was underreporting of income on this property.
LEMON: So do you have any idea what the real numbers are or is everything questionable?
VOGELL: Well, I think we don't know for sure. Either it could be problems with both sets of numbers. There could be problem with one in one case and the other in another case. I don't think we really know what the actual truth is.
LEMON: Do you remember -- pardon me if I cut you. I'm sorry about that. Do you remember when Michael Cohen testified and said -- and alluded to this? Let's watch and then we'll discuss.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL COHEN, PRESIDENT TRUMP'S FORMER LAWYER: It was my experience that Mr. Trump inflated his total assets when it served his purposes, such as trying to be listed amongst the wealthiest people in Forbes and deflated his assets to reduce his real estate taxes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: So that was his former attorney. You know, people have been calling him "fixer." So my question is, you know, this misreporting seems to be a common factor, a common practice with the Trump Organization. At what point does this go beyond accounting tricks and it becomes fraudulent or even possibly criminal?
COHAN: Don, we are at that point.
LEMON: You think so?
COHAN: You know, Michael Cohen testified in front of Congress. He took an oath to tell the truth. Assuming he's telling the truth in that instance, then what Heather reported is exactly what Michael Cohen was talking about.
If I'm Cyrus Vance, the Manhattan D.A., I am subpoenaing these records tomorrow. I want to take depositions. I want to take -- get these records in my office and figure out what the heck is going on here. You can't have two sets of books. If it's true, it's clearly fraudulent.
LEMON: Well, having two sets of books, you know, you hear about that in the movies, right, when people are doing --
COHAN: That's what Michael Cohen was talking about, and that's clearly what Heather is reporting.
LEMON: Heather, you said that the city was looking into it. You're talking about the whole antenna issue, right?
LEMON: Because that's supposed to be income off of that. CNN legal analyst Anne Milgram told you that prosecutors would have a lot of questions about what you found. Do you have any sense that this is being looked at by investigators?
VOGELL: You know, it's so early. I mean, we just published the story today. I don't know, honestly. There are -- there have been a lot of efforts to obviously gain tax information from Trump to look at various aspects of his business. We don't know for sure what's happening in some of those prosecutors' offices right now, and whether this is the kind of thing that they would be interested in pursuing further.
LEMON: Yeah. So, however much you can reveal to us, how did you get this information?
VOGELL: It was actually public under New York State Freedom of Information Law. When you appeal your tax bill, the filings that you make in New York City, if it's a commercial property, become public. And he always, always challenges that tax bill from what we can tell. So --
LEMON: Yeah, go on. Is that it? VOGELL: Yeah. So that was sort of lucky for us because I just filed the Freedom of Information Act last November, requested that in November, and received the records in June.
LEMON: Had he not appealed it, would this be out here?
LEMON: It wouldn't be out?
VOGELL: Probably not.
LEMON: Which is very interesting. I wonder --
COHAN: His own greed once again does him in, because if he hadn't appealed it because he didn't like the way he had been taxed, then he wouldn't have filed the appeal and these records would not be public.
LEMON: So, if this is the way he deals with, you know, taxes and reporting and his businesses, do you think that maybe the same -- it may be the same way in his personal taxes and that's part of his apprehension to show them?
COHAN: I wouldn't be the slightest bit surprised. You know, again, he's got state taxes, he's got federal taxes. I don't know if it's as easy, frankly, to have two sets of books for your personal federal and state taxes, whether he would even try to attempt that.
COHAN: Obviously, with the real estate property, it might be a little easier to show one thing to lenders and another thing to taxing authorities. If he's taking chances like that with his federal taxes, well, then (INAUDIBLE), Don. The game is up.
LEMON: OK. I was like -- you know, the only French I know is (INAUDIBLE) because I'm from Louisiana.
COHAN: There you go.
LEMON: Thank you very much. Great reporting, as you said, from the beginning.
VOGELL: Thank you.
LEMON: Thank you so much. I appreciate both of you joining us. Thank you for watching. Our coverage continues.