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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT
Trump's Chief Of Staff Admits To Quid Pro Quo With Ukraine; Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) Discuss Mick Mulvaney's Admission And Withdrawal To Quid Pro Quo; Rep. Cummings Dead At 68; Was Key Figure In Impeachment Inquiry; Explosive Testimony: Diplomat Breaks With Trump, Says He Had No Choice But To With Giuliani; Republicans Slam Mulvaney for Admitting Quid Pro Quo on Ukraine; Rep. Mark Amodei (R- NV) is Interviewed About Trump Touting Ceasefire in Syria, Romney Saying It's Not a Victory. Aired 7-8p ET
Aired October 17, 2019 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Thanks for watching. Erin Burnett OUTFRONT starts right now.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next breaking news, quid pro quo, Trump's Chief of Staff admits there was one. The White House tonight in massive cleanup mode. Plus, President's hand-picked ambassador turns. What did he tell lawmakers behind closed doors? We've got the new details this moment. And President Trump admitting he resolved a crisis or claiming that he resolved the crisis he created and his own party is calling him out tonight. Let's go out front.
Good evening. I'm Erin Burnett. OUTFRONT tonight the breaking news, President Trump's Acting Chief of Staff today blowing the lid off Trump's claim there was no quid pro quo with Ukraine. And tonight, Mick Mulvaney is desperately trying to undo the damage. So I just wanted to read for you the key lines of the statement that Mick Mulvaney just put out.
He says, "Once again, the media has decided to misconstrue my comments. Let me be clear, there was absolutely no quid pro quo between Ukrainian military aid and an investigation into the 2016 election." Okay, well, unfortunately for Mr. Mulvaney, the tape speaks for itself. It was a stunning moment when the President's Acting Chief of Staff exposed his boss in a stunning admission.
Mulvaney said aid money was held up to Ukraine in exchange for investigations and reporters were stunned. In fact, they were so stunned that they asked him again and again and again and he stuck to his answer.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So the demand an investigation into the Democrats was part of the reason that he ordered to withhold funding to Ukraine?
MICK MULVANEY, ACTING WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: The look back to what happened in 2016, certainly was part of the thing that he was worried about ... UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To be clear, what you just described is a quid pro
quo. It is funding will not flow unless the investigation into the Democratic server happened as well.
MULVANEY: We do that all of the time with foreign policy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Okay. It is no surprise that Mulvaney is trying to say he didn't say what he said. I mean, Mulvaney's words left the Justice Department and Trump's own legal team stun. That is their words and you're going to hear more about that in a moment. Everyone heard what they heard. It was stunning because Trump has point blank denied a quid pro quo.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No quid pro quo.
There's no quid pro quo.
No quid pro quo.
No quid pro quo.
No quid pro quo.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: So that's why Mulvaney's admission today was so baffling. Now, as you very clearly heard when Mulvaney took reporter questions he said, Okay, this is what happen. Sure, we wanted this investigation in exchange for the aid. But he said it was about the election, not about Joe Biden and his son.
Now as Trump's own former Homeland Security Advisor said Ukraine in the 2016 election is a 'completely debunked conspiracy theory'. So if looking into that was a quid pro quo that is deeply disturbing on its own, but of course the quid pro quo was about much more than the election or the DNC server.
Remember when Trump was asked what he wanted the Ukrainian president to do about Joe Biden after that fateful phone call, where Trump asked for a favor when President Zelensky brought up military aid?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, what exactly did you hope Zelensky would do about the Bidens after your phone call? Exactly.
TRUMP: Well, I would think that if they were honest about it they'd start a major investigation into the Bidens.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Well, tonight, Mick Mulvaney has admitted to a quid pro quo and no matter what backtracking he is now trying, the problem is the tapes. And if what Mick Mulvaney said is a major problem for the President, what Trump's chosen Ambassador to the European Union testified under oath today is also damning.
Gordon Sondland delivering a devastating blow to Trump's defense saying Trump's lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, told him that Ukraine needed to investigate Joe Biden before the newly elected Ukrainian President would get a visit to the White House. We're going to have much more on that major testimony ahead.
Boris Sanchez is traveling with the President tonight, meantime out front live in Dallas. And Boris, a stunning about face from Mulvaney today.
BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right Erin. Mulvaney's attempt to get his side of the story out there backfiring in spectacular fashion. Mulvaney, apparently getting a sense that what he did today didn't help the President's case and so he rushed out this statement suggesting that we all did not see him say what we all saw him say.
That apparently did not sit well with the White House legal team or the President's legal team. Sources telling us that Mulvaney today, his performance was baffling. One source telling our colleague Jim Acosta that he was 'not helpful'. Separately, one of the President's personal attorney's Jay Sekulow telling CNN that the President's husband's legal team did not consult with Mulvaney before his appearance.
We should point out President Trump is on his way to a rally here in Dallas and he was asked about Mulvaney's performance just a short time ago. He said he didn't actually get to see it firsthand but that someone told him Mulvaney did a good job.
The President saying that he has confidence and his acting chief of staff, the President is set to take the stage at any moment, Erin. We'll keep you updated with what he says if he does, in fact, mention his Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney.
BURNETT: And it would be very interesting, of course, to see if he does. Obviously, it would seem Mulvaney's desperate attempt here to try to say he didn't say what he said is coming at the behest of a very specific person about to speak where you are.
Let's go to Evan Perez meantime in Washington. And Evan, your sources are telling you, I was using the word stun, which I know people on the President's legal team are using that word. The Department of Justice though also completely blindsided by Mulvaney.
EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Yes. I mean, look, the bafflement spread down Pennsylvania Avenue to the Justice Department headquarters where officials did a very rare thing. They basically put out a public statement, distancing themselves from what Mulvaney was saying at the podium. In part what the statement says is, "If the White House was
withholding aid in regards to the cooperation of any investor at the Department of Justice, that is news to us." The problem, Erin, was that during the comments that Mulvaney was making there, he linked the withholding of aid to an ongoing investigation that the Justice Department is doing.
John Durham is a prosecutor in Connecticut is doing a look back at 2016. Looking to see whether or not there was any improper interference, including from Ukraine. And one of the things that the Justice Department is trying to do is to make sure that that remains clear and separate from any political issue at the White House. Clearly, Mick Mulvaney made a mess of that situation today.
BURNETT: All right. Evan, thank you very much. And I want to go out front now to the Democratic Chairwoman of the House Financial Services Committee, Maxine Waters. Chairman, thank you so much for your time.
I mean, the President Chief of Staff, Mick Mulvaney, I know you're now seeing this kind of desperate attempt to change what he said. He's now saying he didn't say what he very clearly did say about a quid pro quo on Ukraine. What do you think is going on here?
REP. MAXINE WATERS (D-CA): Well, that's typical of Trump and all of his minions around him. They say what is on their mind and then when they discover they've messed up, they tried to so called walk it back. So Mulvaney has said exactly what was going on. There was a quid pro quo, absolutely. He can try and walk it back all he wants.
But just think about this, this President is talking about the reason he's into this all together is because simply he's trying to get the president of the Ukraine to investigate corruption. He's the most corrupt man in America, the President of the United States, who has cheated contractors, subcontractors, won't show his own tax returns to Americans, who has cheated students who were in the fake university so called - up in New York, the Trump University and he's talking about he's going all the way to Ukraine so that he can get the President to investigate corruption, give me a break.
They're liars. They're cheaters. These are con men. So Mulvaney said exactly what was on his mind and he discovered he messed up. So you messed up, but you told the truth. And guess what, you're all going to get caught.
BURNETT: So I want to play again what he said when Mick Mulvaney, that is, Ms. Chairwoman, what he said in defense of his original admission, that the U.S. held up the aid to push for an investigation into Democrats. Here's some of his explanation for it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MULVANEY: We do that all of the time with foreign policy. I have news for everybody, get over it. There's going to be political influence in foreign policy. That is going to happen. Elections have consequences.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Does he have a point on any of that?
WATERS: It doesn't get any clearer than that. We do that all of the time, get over it. This is what happens in politics. He knew exactly what he was saying. He didn't just make a mistake. He was very clear and very deliberate.
So Mulvaney you just outed the President of the United States and all that's going on around him with you and Giuliani and all of you involved. And so we get it and it's on record now and you can't take it back.
BURNETT: Mulvaney also defended the President's deployment of Rudy Giuliani, Trump's personal lawyer on Ukraine and all Ukraine issues, point person as the President, of course, said in his transcript of that call with President Zelensky. Here is what Mulvaney said about Giuliani.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MULVANEY: You may not like the fact that Giuliani was involved. That's great, that's fine. It's not illegal. It's not impeachable. The President gets to use who he wants to use. If the President wants to fire me today and hire somebody else, he can.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (Inaudible) from the actually like ...
MULVANEY: The president gets to set foreign policy. He gets to choose who to do so.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Is it illegal or impeachable, Chairman Waters, for the President to involve Giuliani?
WATERS: Well, the President of the United States has basically said in so many ways that he can do anything that he wants to do.
Remember when he started up in the campaign saying he could stand up on Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and nothing would happen to him, essentially nothing could be done to him. But the Constitution of the United States says you're wrong. You can be impeached.
When the Members of Congress believe that you're not in the best interest of the country, that you've undermined your nation in some way, that you've disregarded the Constitution, that you have lied, that you have put us all at risk, that you are not a good person that should be in that office leading this country, when we decide any or all of those things and move forward with impeachment, that's what the Constitution gives us a responsibility to do.
So despite the fact he thinks he can do anything that he wants to do, the Congress of the United States has a responsibility to stop him. And I want you to know that Mulvaney is wrong. What they did was undermine the whole State Department, confuse the Ukrainians, didn't know who they were supposed to be listening to, Giuliani had no business representing all of us in another foreign country.
We didn't elect him to anything to do that and no it is not the right thing to do. Don't tell me about it's not illegal. There's nothing you can do about it. Oh, yes, it is not illegal, not only illegal, it's immoral and it should not have happened.
BURNETT: Congressman, before you go, I want to just say I'm so sorry about the loss of your dear friend Elijah Cummings, the House Oversight Chairman. I know he was integral in the impeachment proceedings. He was so committed to holding this administration accountable.
I don't even know if all our viewers are aware, he signed two subpoenas just hours before he passed away early this morning. And I know you said in a statement, you considered him a brother and a cherished friend, what does his great loss mean to you, Chairwoman Waters?
WATERS: Well, we are in mourning over here in the Congress of the United States on both sides of the aisle. His wife said, Maya said he worked until the last breath. We had members who had been talking to him the day before.
Not only is he going to be missed. He was a shining example of what a good public policy maker is all about, how to conduct yourself, how to be adamant about that which you care about at the same time be respectful. And so, yes, he's going to be missed and the example that he has set.
We have people now who were saying that they're going to try and follow that example, try to be better persons and I hope we can all live up to it. I loved him. He was my brother, he was my friend and he told everybody I was his mentor. And he appreciated the years that he had worked with me getting to the place that he had become as Chairman of Oversight and investigations.
BURNETT: Well, thank you very much. And again, I'm so sorry for your loss, in your deeply personal loss.
WATERS: Thank you. Thank you.
BURNETT: Thank you, Chairman.
WATERS: Thank you very much.
BURNETT: And next, the White House defending the work Rudy Giuliani was doing in Ukraine.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MULVANEY: You may not like the fact that Giuliani was involved, that's great, that's fine. It's not illegal. It's not impeachable.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Is that really so? The lawyers are next. Plus, even Republicans say they're baffled by the Chief of Staff's words. Is the President at risk of losing the support of his own party? And the White House defending its decision to hold next year's G7 summit at Trump's struggling resort in Florida.
BURNETT: Breaking news, after 10 hours behind closed doors, President Trump's hand-picked ambassador to the European Union, Gordon Sondland, emerging from testifying under oath in the impeachment inquiry. The testimony was damning. Manu Raju is out front.
Manu, what have you learned about what Sondland told lawmakers in those nine hours today?
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, he said he was disappointed by President Trump's direction, telling senior U.S. officials including himself to go through Rudy Giuliani, his personal attorney before any efforts were made to strengthen the key strategic alliance between the United States and the Ukrainian government. He said that soon after the Ukrainian, President Zelensky was inaugurated earlier this year that he went to go brief the President along with others.
And the President said, "Talk to Rudy Giuliani first." And Rudy Giuliani, according to Sondland's testimony, unbeknownst to him was pursuing investigations into the President's political rivals, including Joe Biden and Joe Biden's son, as well as the Democratic National Committee. Now, he says that Rudy Giuliani after he spoke with Rudy Giuliani, Giuliani wanted the Ukrainian government to issue a public statement saying that there was an investigation ongoing into the company that had employed Joe Biden's son, Hunter Biden, as well as the Democratic National Committee.
Now, there are questions all along about whether military aid had been withheld, that had been approved by Congress, military aid to Ukraine in exchange for this investigation into the Bidens. Now, he says he was not aware of anything in the White House that happened, but when this concern was raised by a top U.S. diplomat from the United States who's in Ukraine, Ambassador Sondland went directly to the President and asked him himself.
And he said to the President in a very brief phone call in which the President was in a bad mood, denied multiple times that there was any quid pro quo. And then later Sondland told that diplomat that there was no quid pro quo only basing that off of that very brief phone call. But nevertheless, Erin, this testimony today revealing a lot of questions that Democrats want to pursue and perhaps fighting more ammunition that a top Trump appointee breaking with the president saying he was disappointed by the President's action directing him to talk to Rudy Giuliani in dealing with this key partnership, Erin. BURNETT: All right. Manu, thank you very much. I want to go now to
our senior political reporter, Nia Malika Henderson, Joe Lockhart who served as White House Press Secretary to President Clinton during his impeachment investigation, former New Jersey Attorney General Anne Milgram and Philip Allen Lacovara who was Counsel to the Watergate Special Prosecutor.
So Anne, let's just start with Gordon Sondland, he's the president's hand-picked Ambassador to the EU. He's a million dollar donor to Trump. This is someone who supported the President in a very major way. He's under oath.
ANNE MILGRAM, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes.
BURNETT: And by the way last week they didn't let him testify.
BURNETT: He's there under oath and he says it sounds like a lot of things that go completely against the President's version of this.
MILGRAM: Yes. Absolutely. And there's sort of big buckets I think of takeaways from Sondland today from what we know and again there's a lot we still don't know. The first is he says, "The President directed me to work with Rudy Giuliani and Giuliani took charge of Ukraine policy."
And so that is incredibly damning for the President. It's incredibly problematic. You have one of the top level State Department officials saying, "I was instructed to work with Giuliani on this."
The second part which I think is a little more complicated is that he did tell a lot today, but it still feels like he's sort of admitting what he can't deny and denying what he can't admit in that he says, "I knew there were investigations. I heard the word 1920 [00:01:14] but I didn't know it was related to the Bidens."
Some of that strains credibility and I expect that during that nine or ten hours today, in part he was there because they wanted to know what exactly did you think when these text messages were sent to you. You were in these rooms at the White House with John Bolton. Remember John Bolton talked about the drug deal that was going down between he and Mick Mulvaney.
MILGRAM: So he's a complicated witness in many ways but it is still very important that he points the finger at the President. I mean, Philip, Sondland was Trump's hand-picked ambassador, as I said. I mean, he is his hand-picked ambassador and yet he is still testifying and sharing damaging information about the President.
So, look, I'm making a point, this is under oath and people aren't going to be willing to go to prison and lie about things. But yet is it a significant moment here that you have people who are very major allies of the President who are now not backing his version of things?
PHILIP ALLEN LACOVARA, FORMER COUNSEL TO WATER GATE SPECIAL PROSECUTOR: I think it's very significant because I think it's a good indication that the blue wall around President Trump or in this case the wall that he thinks he's got around him may be cracking and people are now looking to see whether or not their own jeopardy is going to cause them to break ranks with him. And I think you've seen this week a number of executive branch officials who were at least theoretically instructed by the President and the Secretary of State not to cooperate nevertheless adhering to subpoenas and coming in to testify about what they saw being bungled for political purposes in our relationship with Ukraine.
BURNETT: So Joe, The Wall Street Journal right now is actually reporting that the President wanted, agreed that Mick Mulvaney needed to walk back his comments about a quid pro quo, right? Of course, the investigation into Ukraine was tied to military aid, so he personally approved Mulvaney's cleanup statement. That is the reporting from The Wall Street Journal. The one where Mulvaney says he didn't say what he said and blames it on the media.
How big of an issue is this going to be Joe that Mick Mulvaney came out and said what he said and now the President is personally involved in trying to pretend it didn't happen?
JOE LOCKHART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I mean it is a stunning development as you said at the top of the show that he admitted what the President has already admitted in the transcript, so it's just an acknowledgement. I know there are some people who were thinking that the White House was just trying to get ahead of this issue and coordinate with they knew Sondland would say.
But I think that gives them too much credit. I think they just went out to throw out the Doral thing today and bury it in other news because they know it would be difficult. I think the key thing that I noticed today is you have the three key people, Rick Perry, Sondland, and Mick Mulvaney all saying essentially the same thing, which is, "I was just following the President's orders." And that is a significant thing. That is what makes this impeachable and the underlying behavior ...
BURNETT: Because there's no question it goes to the top and no one's pretending it doesn't.
LOCKHART: Yes. Normally, White House staff try to insulate the President. If you go back to Watergate, some people went to jail because they tried to protect the President. You have now people running to saying, "The President told me to do this on camera, on the record before Congress under oath." That is stunning.
BURNETT: So Nia, the Mulvaney's statement, "Let me be clear, there was absolutely no quid pro quo between Ukrainian military aid and any investigation into the 2016 election. The President never told me to withhold any money until the Ukrainians did anything related to the server." Let me just remind everybody of what he had said a couple hours before that statement. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MULVANEY: Did he also mentioned to me in the past the corruption related to the DNC server? Absolutely, no question about that. But that's it, that's why we held up the money. Now, there was a report ...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So the demand for an investigation into the Democrats was part of the reason that he ordered to withhold funding to Ukraine?
MULVANEY: The look back to what happened in 2016 certainly was part of the thing that he was worried about. We do that all the time with foreign policy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: I mean, yes, it's pretty painful that they think that a statement saying that those things weren't said or that those things are lies, I mean I don't know what is the strategy here on trying to fix this.
NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: It's unclear, because it's really unfixable. I mean you had Mick Mulvaney ago out there. And truly the President knew that he was going to go out there or at some point this was a statement that was going to be made. And it seemed like what they were trying to do was sort of separate the Biden investigation or the Biden favor from the DNC favor and essentially say, "Sure, get over it. This happens in foreign policy all the time. Politics are involved."
He even likened it to some of the sort of engagement with countries in Central America, in immigration policy which is completely different, of course, from what was said here. This favor for a favor, which Mick Mulvaney admitted to. It does seem like the White House is trying to throw things up here to see what sticks.
This, of course, will stick and they're trying to take it off the wall and take it off the record, even though Mick Mulvaney was very sort of glib in smog, ensure this happened when he was before the White House.
BURNETT: Right. It was said the way that one would think truth is said which is without thought, because you don't have to check your story.
I mean, Philip, Mulvaney also shrugged off Giuliani's role in foreign policy altogether, the personal lawyer of the President running Ukraine policy for the United States. Here's what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MULVANEY: You may not like the fact that the Giuliani was involved, that's great, that's fine. It's not illegal. It's not impeachable. The President gets to use who he wants to use. (END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: After Richard Nixon resigned as president, he had a famous interview, Philip, with David Frost where he said, "Well, when the President does it that means it's not illegal." Do you hear an echo?
LACOVARA: Oh, it's a very loud echo. It's the same theory that President Trump has been uttering since he was a candidate and now during his presidency where he says if he does it, it's Okay. The key here is motive. Sure, a president can use a private emissary if he thinks it's in the national interest to do that. President Kennedy did it during the Cuban Missile Crisis.
The key is why is he doing it. And he was using Rudy Giuliani in here partly because of Rudy's own economic interest, but primarily because the President knew that the regular foreign service officers, including the U.S. Ambassador to the Ukraine who was a career foreign service officer, wouldn't play ball and wouldn't try to extract a political dirt on a political opponent of the President by withholding U.S. security aid.
So it was the reason why President Trump used Rudy Giuliani that makes this offensive and in the view of many of us part of his impeachable misconduct, that's what Mulvaney is trying to overlook when he says, "Oh, presidents can use private citizens," but that's not the point at all.
BURNETT: Right. They often try to do it, sort of point in one direction and miss the point. All of you, please stay with me because next Republicans now are slamming Mick Mulvaney for saying there was a quid pro quo with Ukraine. They're calling it troubling and a concern. Could the White House be losing key allies? Plus, Trump taking credit for ending the crisis he started.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: This is a amazing outcome. This was such a smart thing to get it done so fast.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: Breaking news, Republicans slamming President Trump's acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, for admitting that U.S. aid to Ukraine was held up as part of a quid pro quo for investigation into the Democrats.
Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska saying, quote: Yes, absolutely that's a concern. You don't hold up foreign aid that we have previously appropriated for a political initiative. Period.
Congressman Francis Rooney of Florida calling it troubling.
Everyone is back with me.
Nia, how significant is it to hear these comments today from more Republican lawmakers?
NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: You know, it is significant ask you think about someone like Lisa Murkowski, she's a bit of an independent in the Republican Senate and it's not surprising to hear it from her. Mostly you hear silence from most of the Republicans and this has been a par for the course and they were, of course, on recess last week and they're back now, but you imagine that the White House may have actually heard from some of these Republicans and that's why you saw the walk-back from Mick Mulvaney, but the problem is, A, it's on camera and the transcript that the president had with the leader of Ukraine, there is a quid pro quo, right? There's a favor for a favor that's outlined there.
So, Mick Mulvaney in some ways was just underscoring and reinforcing what's already pretty clear from that transcript and even what's clear from the text messages that we've been getting, that Volker releases some of the things from Sondland said as well.
So, you know, we'll see. I mean, I expect the red wall or blue wall and whatever you want to call it from Republicans remain pretty intact with folks like Murkowski and Romney who has been pretty critical of this president has come out and, by and large, they're probably be in lockstep with this president.
BURNETT: I mean, Joe, you know, it comes a day after 129 Republicans voted to rebuke the president on what he did in Syria, right? The decision to withdraw U.S. troops.
So, are these cracks something that should concern the president or no? Do these issues remain separate?
JOE LOCKHART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I think if it was just the quid pro quo, because this was an action taken against Democrats, Republicans would find a way to convince themselves that it's not a problem and say that it's just not impeachable and it is troubling but not impeachable.
I personally think that the Republicans are spooked by what's going on in Syria. The way the president handled this, the way he retreated from our allies and left them to die and the way he embraced Erdogan today as his friend and a strongman, and I think it's hard to disconnect those things. I think if they are scared about where the country is going and what he's doing they might begin to crack, you know, on the impeachment issue. But I think on balance, you know, if the vote was taken tonight, Nia's right, that, you know, the Republicans would stay with him.
BURNETT: So, look, Congressman Rooney and I mentioned Francis Rooney just a moment ago, also said -- you know, called it troubling and continued, quote, I remember too many people saying this is a witch hunt against Richard Nixon and come out it wasn't a witch hunt, it was right. So, who knows? I just want to get all of the facts.
I just think it was significant, you can call it a witch hunt until you realize it isn't. I know you recently wrote an editorial, Philip, with former Watergate prosecutors urging Republicans to put principle over party. When you see what Congressman Rooney says, do you think that that is the beginning?
PHILIP ALLEN LACOVARA, FORMER COUNSEL TO WATERGATE SPECIAL PROSECUTOR: I think it is. I think you will have more and more responsible Republicans, and I am still faithful enough in the Republican Party to think that there are honorable Republicans. You will see more and more of them recognizing that they simply can't close their eyes too much longer to what the facts are obvious.
And I think what Joe said about the significance of the vote by Republicans on the House on the Syria issue is going to be an entering wedge because I think more and more Republicans are recognizing that sooner or later, they're going to have to show that they love their country more than they fear Donald Trump and they recognize that he is a dangerously incompetent president, and I think that, ultimately, as the facts become undeniable, more and more of them will say, we simply have to do our duty as the constitution requires.
BURNETT: And I want to play for you what House Intelligence Committee Adam Schiff said today. Here he is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): I think Mr. Mulvaney's acknowledgement means that things have gone very, very bad to much, much worse.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Obviously, that's a partisan point of view, right? That's the Democratic view, but when you look at the facts and what you see, does he have a point?
ANNE MILGRAM, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I think he does have a point particularly because it's just -- it's a drumbeat of evidence every single day that is corroborating the whistle-blower's complaint.
BURNETT: Every testimony.
MILGRAM: Every testimony. So, it's not just Mulvaney saying, yes, we did it. There's a quid pro quo. It's also Sondland walking in. It's Fiona Hill walking in the other day. It's just witness after witness is basically corroborating that the president abused his authority to try to basically politically benefit.
And so I think Mulvaney, you just -- you have to put that in the context that there's a lot.
BURNETT: Right. And, Nia, the House Speaker Pelosi today refused to lay out a time line for the impeachment process and the reason I say that is because the Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told the GOP, told the senators that he expects this to happen quickly, House could pass articles of impeachment by Thanksgiving, and the Senate could have its trial, go ahead and decide whether to remove the president of the United States from office or not by Christmas.
That's really fast.
HENDERSON: Yes, and --
BURNETT: Yes, go ahead.
HENDERSON: In many ways, you talk about Democrats and the Democrats I talked to early on, even before this whole process began, that was what they were thinking, something that could essentially be wrapped up by the end of the year and you hear Mitch McConnell there talking to his caucus there saying that's the timeline he wants to follow, as well, but Pelosi also saying there's not really a time line. It's more like they want to follow the facts and where the truth goes in this.
So, I mean, it would be remarkable if they were able to wrap this up that quickly. I think they want to have enough distance between these impeachment hearings and whatever happens with the filing of the articles of impeachment to the House and any trial and have distance between that and what happens in 2020.
BURNETT: Yes, there are some that say get it done faster than that and there are others, Philip, you included, that this time line, if McConnell's right, would be way too fast, why? Even, because I want to point out, you agree impeachment is the right outcome.
LACOVARA: Way too fast.
LACOVARA: I do agree it is the right action. I think on both legs of this, it's the wrong timetable.
I think as Speaker Pelosi and Chairman Schiff have made clear, they do contemplate some public hearings after these executive session and depositions are completed so they can lay out for other members of Congress and for the American public what the facts are that Congress has found. I think it's not likely that will happen before Thanksgiving. Certainly, drafting articles of impeachment and having them voted on by the House is not likely to happen before Thanksgiving.
And it would be irresponsible in the extreme for the leader of the Senate to try to shoehorn a trial of the president's tenure of office between Thanksgiving and Christmas. That's simply not going to happen.
BURNETT: Joe, what do you say? Is it better to go longer or better to have it move quickly considering you have this drumbeat of testimony after testimony backing it up and you don't want to maybe lose your momentum?
LOCKHART: Yes. I think it's better politically and this -- it's more than politics, but politically to move rather quickly. The committee is never going to get the cooperation fast enough from the White House that they'll need. That would be important. I think not settled until next year.
So I think they'll move before the end of the year, and I think McConnell will move very quickly, and I think he wants to get this over with.
I think the interesting thing is if four or five Republicans split from McConnell, then the Democrats will have a say in what the rules are for that trial. So that's something to watch.
BURNETT: Oh, and that does explain why, perhaps it is significant to get those few votes, right? You don't need a lot, only a few to influence that.
Thank you all very much.
Next, Trump declares victory in Syria today, total victory, but even Republicans don't seem to buy what he's selling.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MITT ROMNEY (R-UT): The announcement today is being portrayed as a victory. It is far from a victory.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: And Jeanne Moos on -- oh, the picture. The picture that says how many words?
BURNETT: Tonight, President Trump taking a victory lap on what he is calling a cease-fire with Turkey.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is an amazing outcome. This was such a smart thing to get it done so fast. It's a great thing for civilization.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Some members of Trump's party strongly disagree. Here's Republican Senator Mitt Romney.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROMNEY: The announcement today is being portrayed as a victory. It is far from a victory. The cease-fire does not change the fact that America has abandoned an ally.
(END VIDEO CLIP) BURNETT: Romney is not the only Republican who has been critical of the president's actions in Syria, 129 House Republicans broke with Trump and voted to condemn the Syria troop withdrawal. One of them is OUTFRONT now, Republican Congressman Mark Amodei of Nevada.
And I appreciate your time, Congressman. Thanks so much for coming on the show tonight.
You heard the president and you heard Senator Romney. Who do you think has the more accurate description of the cease-fire?
REP. MARK AMODEI (R-NV): Well, I think that the cease-fire question will continue to bear out in the next few days. It happened really fast. So no disrespect to either one of them, but I think the desire to categorize it at this point in time when we haven't seen things fully play out, although we've seen quite a bit is something that quite frankly, everybody is kind of jockeying for what they think is their best foot forward on it.
BURNETT: So, let me ask you obviously in what we saw happen before the cease-fire, right? Tens of thousands of children displaced, ISIS fighters released from jail. I mean, a lot happened in a little amount of time. Republican Senator Marco Rubio, I'm sure you saw this today, Congressman, took issue with the president today and his actions with the cease-fire.
He tweeted: It doesn't appear that the cease-fire signals change in Erdogan's goal. He still plans to rid area of Kurds and create security zone, but is giving Kurds an ultimatum. They can leave voluntarily or leave dead.
And a senior Turkish official tells CNN, we got exactly what we wanted.
Is that -- is that victory looks like? Are you or do you think they're all jumping the gun?
AMODEI: Well, let me put it to you this way, they're jumping the gun to some extent, but I'll tell you, it's not a great start, that's for certain. The stuff that we do know are objective facts and are not things which lead you to think that this is kind of what everybody had in mind in terms of a troop withdrawal and everything would be fine and we -- you know, and the Kurds will be fine.
We know that is not all the case so far. So let's see where it ends up in another 72 hours because I think 72 hours will get you a lot of the way through this, what's going on over there.
BURNETT: What do you say to the president who obviously, by pulling out U.S. troops created this situation we're in? You obviously voted to condemn his decision yesterday.
AMODEI: Well, and listen, I guess the thing is if your standard is perfection in this business which everybody, you know, kind of adopts, it's like, well, that's good, but guess what? We very seldom get perfection, and this wasn't a perfect -- this wasn't a perfect action as far as what's going on with the Kurds over there and what the Turks are doing.
BURNETT: The acting White House chief of staff today, Congressman, Mick Mulvaney is now walking back a comment he made earlier today and I just wanted to play the exchange that he had with Jonathan Karl, the reporter, when he was at the White House podium so you can hear the full exchange. Here it is, sir.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JONATHAN KARL, REPORTER: So the demand for an investigation into the Democrats was part of the reason that he wanted to withhold funding to Ukraine?
MICK MULVANEY, ACTING WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: The look back to what happened in 2016 certainly was part of the thing that he was worried about --
KARL: To be clear, what you just described is a quid pro quo. It is funding will not flow unless the investigation into the Democratic server happened as well.
MULVANEY: We do -- we do that all of the time with foreign policy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Congressman Mulvaney now has put out a statement which "The Wall Street Journal" reports the president personally approved where he said there was absolutely no quid pro quo.
I know, sir, that you were a former federal prosecutor and you said you support congressional oversight of the House Democrats impeachment inquiry, when you hear what Mick Mulvaney said today, does it bolster Democrats' case against the president?
AMODEI: Well, I think it certainly makes them excited to want to talk to Mick a little bit more. Obviously, the challenge is, in your previous guest had said, the challenge is to get at the truth.
So Mick has said some stuff there that when you add some context to it, it's like we'll see where it goes. But it's certainly fair game in terms of saying, hey, how does this fit into the overall thing with the folks in Ukraine?
BURNETT: How much more do you think you need to hear to make a decision on this?
AMODEI: Well, you know, Erin, fair question there, and I appreciate that. I think the difference between finding fact and deciding what to do as a result of what you find before that process is complete.
And I know there are different missions in terms of versus the media, versus I as a member of the Congress and what I have to do to vote. But I can tell you that people should expect open-mindedness, and they should expect fairness, and they should expect transparency. And so, while that's not in abundant supply on either side right now,
ultimately that's what it's going to be what it comes down to. Your job is to, what are the facts and what are the rules, and apply one to the other and see where we end up.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Congressman. I appreciate your time.
AMODEI: Yes, ma'am.
BURNETT: And as we were talking about the ceasefire in Syria, I want to bring in retired Air Force Colonel Cedric Leighton.
Colonel, a senior Turkish official told CNN they got exactly what they wanted. You heard Congressman Amodei there. I think he was -- you know, trying to -- look, he voted against the president yesterday. He is trying to give him a little bit more time.
Marco Rubio and Mitt Romney obviously came out much stronger, very critical of the president's actions and making it clear that his declaring victory is not at all what this is.
How would you describe it?
CEDRIC LEIGHTON, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Well, I'd be more in line with what Senator Romney was saying because this is definitely not something one can declare victory on. It -- you know, when the Turkish official tells you that he's gotten everything that he wanted and you're negotiating with somebody like that, then you know you've made a mistake as a negotiator. If they get everything they wanted, that means we've lost a lot of things because our positions are definitely not the same. The Turks are going to stay in northern Syria as long as they possibly can, and that's going to be a big issue for us.
BURNETT: And as Mitt Romney -- I'm sorry, Marco Rubio was saying, they're going to get what they want, right? He is going to get rid of the Kurds. So the Kurds are either going to leaf where turkey wants them to not be, which Turkey considers to be theirs, or they're going to kill them all.
BURNETT: And the president says that is a victory?
LEIGHTON: Well, that wouldn't be a victory at all. It brings out memories of, you know, 1915 genocide against the Armenians that the Turks committed during the Ottoman Empire in World War I. That's the kind of stuff that you can't have happen anywhere in the world, and especially that part of the world.
So we have to be really careful about all these statements because I think we're bordering on the edge of -- quite frankly, being irresponsible on the part of some of our officials. They're not thinking this through, and they need to start thinking what the consequences are. BURNETT: And do you think the president is thinking of that at all?
I mean, obviously, he did what he did and he got slammed by his own party. You heard Congressman Amodei there. He is trying to give the president every single possible benefit of the doubt he can to the point of saying nothing, and yet he voted against him yesterday. So, then Trump does this today to get people like to kind of, you know, be quiet for a little while, you know, but -- what do you make of it? So, so, quick, okay, here we go, we're done, says Mike Pence.
LEIGHTON: Yes, everybody should know that anybody who has worked with military operations, it doesn't go that quickly. You know, diplomacy, military operations, these kinds of things take time. They take a lot of reflection, and it's not going to be a quick flight to Ankara that is going to take this.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much. I appreciate the perspective.
LEIGHTON: You bet.
BURNETT: And next, it was meant to be an insult, but Nancy Pelosi is trying to own this photo that the president tweeted of her.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): That moment I was probably saying, all roads lead to Putin.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: A picture of power.
Here is Jeanne.
JEANNE MOOS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Instead of just rolling her eyes, Nancy Pelosi is trying to turn the tables on President Trump using his own photo. He tweeted it with the caption "Nervous Nancy's unhinged meltdown."
At a White House meeting, Democratic leaders walked out on, and when they walked out, she said he was the one who had --
PELOSI: The meltdown. Sad to say.
MOOS: Well, now the Internet is melting down after the speaker decided to use President Trump's photo as the cover on her Twitter account on what was National Boss' Day, fans said Speaker Pelosi was owning Trump like a boss, pointing her finger, she was depicted shooting rays that ignited the president. The photo was annotated. Pelosi wearing a crown, president Trump a
jester's hat. The image now joins other classic Pelosi moments, like the time she clapped at the president and put on shades, exiting another testy White House meeting.
Her legend is looming large. Pelosi had a couple of guesses when asked what was happening at the moment the photo was snapped.
PELOSI: I think I was excusing myself from the room. I was probably saying, all roads lead to Putin.
MOOS: She argued with the president saying his decision to withdraw from Syria leaves a void the Russians could fill.
(on camera): But people aren't just analyzing the images of Speaker Pelosi and President Trump.
(voice-over): They were struck by the body language of the chairman of the joint chiefs, a state department official and Republican Congressman Steve Scalise.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hanging their heads in shame.
MOOS: Chagrin and bear it, read one caption.
President Trump may call her Nervous Nancy, but on Thursday she called him --
MOOS: That's president whatchamacallit, Madam Speaker.
Jeanne Moos, CNN.
PELOSI: It was a meltdown, sad to say.
MOOS: New York.
JIMMY KIMMEL, COMEDIAN: It's right there.
BURNETT: All right. Thanks so much to all of you for joining us. And don't forget you can watch OUTFRONT any time, anywhere. Just go to CNN go.
"AC360" with Anderson starts now.