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CNN TONIGHT

Hillary Clinton Cleared Of Her Server Scandal; Rudy Giuliani Tried To Get Visa For A Former Prosecutor; Mick Mulvaney's Admission Added To President Trump's Irritability; Republicans Going Against Trump On His Syria Decision; Week In Impeachment Inquiry; President Trump Pushing The Limits Of His Presidential Powers; Hillary Clinton Suggests Russia's Grooming Rep. Tulsi Gabbard For Third-Party Run; CNN Heroes. Aired 11p-12a ET

Aired October 18, 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]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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

Breaking news tonight on the investigation into e-mails sent to Hillary Clinton's private server when she was secretary of state. A multi-year investigation finds no deliberate mishandling of classified information. We're going to have more on that coming up.

Also, in the hour ahead, we're going to take a look at the week in the impeachment inquiry. All the biggest headlines and major developments.

A CNN exclusive. Sources saying that Rudy Giuliani tried to bypass the State Department to get a visa for former Ukrainian prosecutor who Giuliani says promised to reveal dirt on Democrats.

The fallout from acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney admitting there was quid pro quo with Ukraine. President Trump said to be angry with him. And the president is not happy that a parade of current and former government officials have testified about the Ukraine scandal. Or are set to testify next week.

President Trump having what the House Speaker Nancy Pelosi calls a meltdown in the Oval Office during a meeting to talk about his decision to withdrawal U.S. troops from Syria.

The Senate Majority Leader leveling harsh criticism at the Syria decision. Writing a scathing op-ed tonight in the Washington Post.

But we're going to begin tonight with the breaking news. The CNN exclusive about Rudy Giuliani pushing the Trump administration to grant a visa to a former Ukrainian official who he says promised dirt on Democrats.

Let's bring in now Sunlen Serfaty. Sunlen, good evening to you. Thank you for joining us. The plot thickens here. Fill us in the details about Giuliani pushing the trump administration to get a visa for a Ukrainian -- Ukrainian official. This was about trying to get more dirt on Democrats. Right?

SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Don. And notably this is according to four sources not just about Giuliani's effort to get a visa for any Ukrainian official, but notably for Viktor Shokin.

We have certainly been hearing his name a lot in all of this. And the reporting around the impeachment probe he was Ukraine's former top prosecutor who was pushed out in 2016, yes, under pressure from Joe Biden but other western leaders as well.

And we know according to Giuliani's own words he has said that he wanted to talk to Shokin in person because had promised dirt on Democrats. Now the news in here and this is coming out of George Kent's testimony from his testimony on capitol Hill this week, and this is according to four sources, is the extreme measures that Rudy Giuliani took to not only secure that visa but get Shokin to the United States, and of course, to get that dirt that he had promised him.

Now George Kent, according to these sources told lawmakers that in January 2016, Giuliani requested a visa for Shokin from the State Department. He was turned down. So, then he went around the State Department and he appealed this request at the White House.

They were hoping that the White House would overturn the State Department's decision. In the end, Shokin's visa was never granted. But we do know, Don, that they did connect over Skype.

LEMON: Wow. As I said the plot thickens. Thank you very much, Sunlen Serfaty, reporting to us from Washington this evening.

Now to the very busy week in the expanding impeachment inquiry as Congress hears more and more testimony, and Mick Mulvaney admits there was a quid pro quo with Ukraine.

Here's CNN Jessica Schneider.

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: A cascade of current and former administration officials called to Capitol Hill in the last week. Painting a damming picture of a rogue foreign policy run by President Trump's personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani where select officials say they were pressed by the president and others to pressure Ukraine to investigate corruption which Democrats argue was purely intended for trump's political gain.

Thursday, Trump's acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney further fueling Democrats claims of wrongdoing. Admitting in a fiery press conference that the administration held up the nearly $400 million in military aid to Ukraine in a push to get the country to cooperate.

[23:05:06]

MICK MULVANEY, ACTING WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: I have news for everybody. Get over it. There's going to be political influence in foreign policy. (END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHNEIDER: Mulvaney later trying to walk back his own words by blaming the media for airing the admission. Saying in a statement, "Once again, the media has decided to misconstrue my comments to advance a biased and political witch hunt against President Trump. let me be clear. There was absolutely no quid pro quo between Ukrainian military aid and any investigation into the 2016 election."

Mulvaney using his press room pulpit to try to down play the drum beat of testimony taking place behind congressional closed doors.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MULVANEY: And I can never remember the gentleman who testified, was it McKinley, the guy, is that his name -- I don't know.

Who said that?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was George Kent.

MULVANEY: I'm sorry. I don't know who that is.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHNEIDER: But the four officials who divulge details for hours on end were important players on the foreign policy front. Fiona Hill left the White House in July where she served the top adviser on Russia. Sources says she recounted on Monday how then national security adviser John Bolton was concerned about Giuliani shadow diplomacy, even calling out Giuliani as a hand grenade who was going to blow everybody up.

Hill telling lawmakers that Bolton instructed her to notify the chief lawyer for the national security council about the rogue effort from Mulvaney, Giuliani and U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland. With Bolton saying, "I am not part of whatever drug deal Sondland and Mulvaney are cooking up."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. TED LIEU (D-CA): It's very clear that Donald Trump and Rudy Giuliani were running a shadow foreign policy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHNEIDER: Sondland showing up Thursday prepared with opening testimony. Explaining how he had no choice but to work for Rudy Giuliani since that's what the president wanted.

But Sondland insisted he did not understand until much later that Mr. Giuliani's agenda might have also included an effort to prompt the Ukrainians to investigate Vice President Biden or his son or in to involve Ukrainians directly or indirectly in the president's 2020 reelection campaign. George Kent, deputy assistant secretary of state testifying Tuesday he

was told to lay low after he raised complaints about Giuliani's efforts.

And Michael McKinley, Pompeo's senior adviser who abruptly resigned this month, describing a demoralized State Department Wednesday. And his dismay Pompeo would not stand up to protect ousted Ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D-MD): All of these witnesses are filling in the picture of what was taking place. Because the famous or the infamous July 25th telephone call it was not some kind of one off.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHNEIDER: And while Rudy Giuliani's name was at the forefront this week, he is so far refusing to hand over any documents to congressional committees. At the same time, we have learned Giuliani is at the center of a counter intelligence probe where federal officials are looking into everything from possible financial entanglements with alleged corrupt Ukrainian figures to counterintelligence concerns raised by some of those business ties. Don?

LEMON: Jessica, thank you very much. I appreciate that. Joining me now, Philip Bump, the national correspondent for the Washington Post, and Guy Smith who served as special adviser to President Clinton during his impeachment.

Good to see both of you. Thank you so much for coming in. So, this was a huge week. So many details at what has been going on between this administration and Ukraine. None of it would have been known without a whistleblower. Number one thing you think that we've learned.

PHILIP BUMP, NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, WASHINGTON POST: I mean, obviously the Mulvaney revelation his comments about how the aid to Ukraine specifically a totally debunked and bizarre theory and he said that explicitly I think is the biggest deal.

But what we learn this week really was a lot of the subterranean details about the ways in which Giuliani, Mulvaney and this E.U. ambassador, Gordon Sondland were actually working to implement Donald Trump's desired plan which was to have Ukraine get to work trying to dig up whatever it could, targeting Biden.

And it's important to remember, targeting that server which he hopes will undermine the narrative about the Russia probe. So, he's working politics on both ends here. And we learn this week it's a vast extent to which that was actually happening.

LEMON: So, I was so -- I see -- it feels like the country is being led by conspiracy theorists. Or people who believe conspiracy theories. GUY SMITH, FORMER CLINTON IMPEACHMENT ADVISER: Well, it is. That's

exactly what's happening. The president believes all this stuff. He watches Fox News every day.

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: But does he -- no, Guy, does he believe it or does he need to believe it? Does it need it to make himself feel better or to win? Because the evidence is there.

I was just talking to Fareed about Hillary Clinton's e-mails which you know about there's nothing there. There's been two separate very thorough investigations. And they found nothing. Thirty-eight people will essentially get a note in their file about it.

SMITH: I don't know if he really believes it or just pretends like he believes it because it serves his purposes.

[23:10:02]

But What he's doing is violating the Constitution in ways that it's -- and there's newspaper report about every day, CNN reports about. You know, when I was here last week, we had no idea what was coming and we joked about it. And here we got Mulvaney, you know admitting it. The president admitted it.

And all this week and last week and coming up next week we're going to have more details. More details of this malfeasance. And this is exactly the kind of stuff the founders were worried about. Getting foreign governments involved in our elections in our democracy.

LEMON: And just a whole different thing. But our founders were worried about having influence in foreign governments on people paying for business over here which I'm talking about Doral and holding the G7 summit there.

But, you know, as far as the White House is concerned it seems like there their approach is admit it and then so what. Because you heard what Mulvaney said, just get over it.

BUMP: I think that's exactly right. I think they had learned a lesson which is the thing that --

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: It didn't work. You thought it worked? No?

BUMP: What's that? The strategy?

LEMON: Let's get over it.

BUMP: No. I think it clearly didn't work. I think that they were hoping it would work. I think they were -- I'm not sure why Mulvaney said what he said. I don't think it did make them any good. It may even have been to try and like downplay the Doral stuff. But I think that what their strategy has been is what they did during

the Mueller probe. Which is, yes, we -- you know, first deny a little bit. And say yes, we did it but no one cares. I think they learned very quickly that Donald Trump his base of support doesn't care about the stuff. And we saw poll numbers actually shift.

Beforehand, you know, is it OK for him to solicit this information from foreign officials. People were like, and then his associated admitted that he had done it. The numbers shot up among Republicans. Like this we see this over and over again.

This, however, just the scope of it, the breath of it, the fact that Donald Trump can't say that was just Donald Trump, Hr. having this e- mail exchange back in, you know, June 2016 about the Trump tower meeting. Trump is immersed in this and I think that's problematic.

LEMON: Guy, you say that the Mulvaney episode at the White House is -- the White House is constantly changing the story. It illustrates that no one is in charge and they are not prepared.

SMITH: They're not prepared. And there's clearly no one is in charge. But they're all over the lot. I mean, when Mulvaney goes out yesterday supposedly to defend the Doral thing. And then he keeps on answering questions.

Why is he answering questions on impeachment? There's nobody communicating about it. They have no surrogate operation. There's no -- there's no political coordination. It's all half hazard as illustrated by what we saw from Mulvaney yesterday.

LEMON: Do you think they are preparing for impeachment?

SMITH: No. I don't think they have a clue what they're doing. It's apparent. I mean, they're just lurching about. And what is -- what we're seeing the results of this we're seeing with the Republican senator starting with Mitch McConnell.

You're starting to see chips in his defenses. Where a month ago, three months ago, it was a solid nothing will ever happen in the Senate. And now look what you're seeing from Murkowski, from McConnell, from Collins in Maine. Gardner. And most of the rest of them are staying in their hall, they're not saying anything.

The only Republican -- the only one Republican saying anything is that boxing coach fellow who never has a coat on. And he's not even in the Senate.

LEMON: Jim Jordan.

SMITH: Jim Jordan of Ohio. Right. I was being ugly.

LEMON: Yes. No, I was to say, no, it's true. He never has a coat on. Actually, there's like a social media page somewhere and it's like where's Jim Jordan's coat? So, there you go.

Thank you both. I appreciate it. I had breaking news on the multi-year investigation into e-mails sent to Hillary Clinton's private server when she was secretary of state. What the investigation found. Next.

[23:15:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: So, here is our breaking news tonight. A State Department investigation into Hillary Clinton's e-mails has found no deliberate mishandling of classified information.

So, let's discuss now. Mr. Mark McKinnon is here and Ron Brownstein, as well. Gents, hello. Good evening to you. Mark, I'm going to start with you and I'm just -- I'm going to start with a quote. OK?

This is a quote and it's from the State Department report released by Republican Senator Chuck Grassley today. OK? It says, "There was no persuasive evidence of systematic deliberate mishandling of information."

The president and Republicans have been using this Clinton e-mail conspiracy or whatever as a smear for years. Now she has been cleared by Donald Trump's own administration.

MARK MCKINNON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes. And, Don, never has so much been made about so little in the history of politics, I think. When you think about how much time and energy has been spent on this issue of the e-mails.

And you know, I mean, it was a huge stick in her spokes politically. As it was intended to be. But, you know, there was, I think a lot of skepticism on a lot of people's part that this is exactly what was there, which is nothing really.

LEMON: That line is a very last one in the report. Does it mean anything to you where it says there was no deliberate mishandling of classified information. I mean, that is the very last one. What does that mean to you in any way?

MCKINNON: Well, I mean, that's the real concern. It's that, that somehow, you're moving around heavily secure information, either by mishandling or for intentional purposes. I think that's where the conspiracy came in, that that was intentional mishandling of highly secure --highly classified information.

And to do this kind of investigation and literally find nothing? Pretty incredible.

LEMON: So, Ron, let me bring you in. President Trump addressed Clinton's e-mail at his rally last night. Let's listen to it and then we'll talk about it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[23:19:55] TRUMP: Where are those e-mails, Hillary? They may find those 33,000 e-mails. They're looking. They may find those deleted e-mails. They may find them.

Remember, the e-mails that 33,000 e-mails covering her gym and her daughter's wedding. Thirty-three thousand that's a lot of e-mails for a wedding and working out.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: I know. I know. I know.

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Right.

LEMON: The investigation reviewed roughly 33,000 e-mails, OK, Ron? How can he keep saying that they are missing?

BROWNSTEIN: Well, look, first of all, I mean, what's more surprising that the investigation reached this conclusion or that an investigation is still going on? I mean, you know, we go back to Comey. And obviously the decision that his conclusion that there were no laws that were violated.

I mean, this is not -- this is a place we have been in a long time. And you know, I find myself thinking and listening to the president last night, if it wasn't the e-mails it would be something else. I mean, it's not really about the e-mails, it's about making Hillary Clinton into a threatening culture political figure.

And if this controversy had never emerged something else would have done it. I mean, he's speaking to an audience the core of his constituency are the Americans who are most uncomfortable with the way the country is changing in dimension demographically, culturally, economically.

And Hillary Clinton in her own way like Barack Obama before him is a symbol of that change. And if it wasn't the e-mails --

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: You don't think --

BROWNSTEIN -- that was used to kind of denigrate that, it would have been something else. And it will be something else if necessary.

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: Well, why doesn't it bother them? Instead of cheering. I mean, if someone was misleading me on purpose like that, I would be bothered by it. Why does -- why are they not bothered by it and said where --

(CROSSTALK)

BROWNSTEIN: You know, there's a lot of social science and political science research that shows when people are presented with information that contravenes their views, their world view, they reject the information rather than adjusting their world view.

And you know, that's one thing the Trump has shown. I mean, he has made -- he has made many, many, how many arguments can we count that he has made that are simply indefensible but they're not really designed to persuade and kind of reach an audience that is kind of independently assessing the veracity of what he is saying there.

They are designed to provide sustenance to people who want to believe what he is offering. And what he is offering above all is kind of this vision that he is going to, you know, turn back the clock and reverse these changes that large portions of America, but demographically and geographically don't like.

LEMON: I know --

(CROSSTALK)

BROWNSTEIN: And so, you know, it doesn't -- it really -- the point is not to be true. The point is to be reassuring.

LEMON: Yes. I was going to say, it's to tell them a bedtime story so that, you know, and basically that's it. And that's what it is. I got to turn to impeachment though.

MCKINNON: Sure.

BROWNSTEIN: Yes.

LEMON: Because it looks like it's getting worse for the administration by the day. You have interviewed Trump officials this week about it.

MCKINNON: Yes.

LEMON: So, what are they saying?

MCKINNON: Well, I mean, this week was astonishing. It's a thousand days in now. And Don, how many weeks have we said it won't get any crazier? Well this week is like the whole circus was on acid. Right? I mean, to have a chief of staff come out and say --

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: More colorful than a Cirque du Soleil circus.

MCKINNON: Yes.

LEMON: Because there had been as many as back flips and twists.

MCKINNON: That's right. Yes. Contortionists at the circus.

LEMON: Speaking of a circus, let's play your clip.

MCKINNON: OK.

LEMON: Because you've interviewed Ralph Reed. (CROSSTALK)

MCKINNON: It's a good example. This was Ralph Reed, the tip of the Evangelical spear.

LEMON: Yes.

MCKINNON: Listen to what he says.

LEMON: I'm trying to help you make your point. There you go. Thanks.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RALPH REED, FOUNDER, FAITH AND FREEDOM COALITION: What Rudy was looking into was whether or not there were things that went on in Ukraine that effected his client, the president of the United States. I don't think there's anything worthy of impeachment.

MCKINNON: Don't you think we should just find out?

REED: This a kangaroo court. They are setting it up to get the result that they want.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MCKINNON: Well.

LEMON: Go on.

MCKINNON: Well, so I talked to Ralph Reed. I talked to Tim Murta who is the campaign, the communications director. They're locked in. And they are locked in on this. But the problem for them is that you have a changing dynamic and dialogue coming from within the White House about what the story.

LEMON: Yes. Are they locked in because they believe it or are they locked in because they have to believe?

MCKINNON: I -- listen. I believe that they believe it.

LEMON: OK.

MCKINNON: I really do.

LEMON: Ron, what do you think?

BROWNSTEIN: I think it's irrelevant whether they believe it. I think they have to believe it. And you know,

(CROSSTALK)

MCKINNON: And that's fascinating that they believe it.

LEMON: Right. Right.

BROWNSTEIN: That's maybe why they believe it. What's fascinating me about this past week is that, you know, if you go -- I mean, President Trump is in a position where he needs Republicans at this moment to lock arms that defends him.

I mean, after all the evidence of the past few weeks the odds are very high that the Democratic House is going to vote to impeach him sooner or later. He needs Republicans to defend him.

And at that precise moment that he needs Republicans to defend him he has not only pursued a policy in Syracuse that -- sorry -- Syracuse -- Syria -- that all of them find, almost all of them find deeply offensive.

[23:24:57]

He has gone out provoke them even further by awarding himself at his own country club the G7 summit. Which says to me that he is so confident, that he has Republicans in Congress under his thumb that he believes he can provoke them in any possible way and they will have no choice but to stick with him.

And I think it's a really open question whether or not in the next few weeks any of them, any meaningful number call his bluff on that.

MCKINNON: The president is certainly testing their limits.

LEMON: Yes.

MCKINNON: I mean with the Doral --

BROWNSTEIN: Yes.

MCKINNON: -- and then with Syria. I mean, it's just like he's just saying how far can I push them?

LEMON: yes. I got to run. Thank you, gentlemen.

BROWNSTEIN: Yes.

LEMON: Watch the Circus Showtime this Sunday.

MCKINNON: Kick it.

LEMON: Night.

MCKINNON: Night.

LEMON: We'll be right back.

[23:30:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: As the impeachment inquiry picks up speed, Republicans struggling this week to defend the president's decision on Syria, Ukraine and holding the next G7 summit at one of Trumps properties and plenty of other things. Joining me now to discuss, Matt Lewis, whose latest article for the

Daily Beast is the BS you have to believe to be a Republican in 2019. Except there's -- you know, he says the whole he writes the whole word. Alice Stewart is here as well. Alice, I know you got to wash his hands out with soap.

ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I need to wash his mouth out with soap and send him to bed without supper.

LEMON: Can you believe that? Matt listen, good evening to both of you. You lay out a bunch of things you say that the Trump presidency forces Republicans to now believe. Let's start with these. You said, General Mattis is the worlds most overrated general. Mitt Romney is a Democrat secret asset. Nancy Pelosi is a third rate -- third grade politician. Donald Trump is a stable genius. Normal to host world leaders at Trump resort while Trump is president. John Bolton is man of the left. You say to believe this list you have to gaslight yourself. Explain how you think that happened.

MATT LEWIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, it's just everything that you used to believe if you're a Republican. Like here's another one. The Kurds are allies, things that we used to believe. We now believe a new dogma. Which is the Kurds are worse than ISIS. So really everything that you believed is -- has now changed. And if you want to defend Donald Trump and be an apologist for Donald Trump, you have to change with it. And so if you used to think that General Mattis, mad dog Mattis was a hero and a tough as nails marine. That is the old truth. The new truth is that he is like an overrated general, so.

LEMON: Alice, so, do you support the president? You heard the list. How many of those things do you believe if any?

STEWART: Look, I have said this many times. Look, I think the Ukraine conversation was inappropriate. I think Doral is a bad idea. I think, the Kurds are our allies and are not a threat. I think Mad dog Mattis is an awesome general and should be praised for the service that he has done. And the list goes on and on.

But all of those things I think are certainly ill advised and should have been brought into a room and told that those are things that should not be said, but we all knew that was not going to happen. And I think, Republicans realize this is man he ran his campaign in this fashion and he's running his administration in this fashion.

And my belief, he can say these things I think many are certainly inappropriate. But I do not think they are worthy of impeachment. And I do think as a Republican, I think as long as he is doing the things that he campaigned on for the Republican ticket. Which in my mind are strong on the economy. The Supreme Court. Fiscal responsibility. My question to Matt is, and the piece is very well written. I understand where you're coming from. But what would you have Republicans do? What do you want Republicans to do? Other than say that some of the things are inappropriate. What's the correct response?

LEMON: I can answer that. But since, you asked Matt, I will -- Matt, by all means. I don't have a lot of time, but go on. LEWIS: Oh man, let me just start off by saying, I think it's much

more like pervasive and insidious than the things that we mention earlier. Those are the funny things, right. But its things like, you used to believe in the rule of law. It's things like used to believe that not responding to a subpoena is in itself worthy of impeachment, right. Its things like believing if you're a social conservative we used to believe in family values. Now we believe in grabbing women by the blank and blank. And by paying off porn stars.

If you're a fiscal conservative, we used to think that free market were good. Now we believe in tariffs. Or we sued to think that debt and deficit were bad. Now deficits don't matter. I mean, I could go down the list. And so basically if you're a Reagan conservative, almost everything that you used to believe in, Donald Trump is the opposite of.

LEMON: Well, I'm out of time. How about just believing in truth and integrity.

LEWIS: Don't stop believing.

LEMON: Don't stop believing.

STEWART: I'm all for that. Amen.

LEMON: Thank you both. We'll be right back.

STEWART: Thanks, Don.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[23:35:00]

LEMON: As the impeachment inquiry expand this could be the word of the week. Brazen. The acting Chief of Staff, Mick Mulvaney's public admission of a quid pro quo in the president's dealings with Ukraine and telling us to get over it. Brazen. Trumps ineffectual letter to Turkey's president. I forgot about that one. Imploring him don't be a fool in an effort to restore the American influence he gave away in Syria. Brazen. The President deciding to host the 2020 G7 Summit at his Miami resort. A clear conflict of interest.

Let's discuss now, Catherine Rampell, Juliette Kayyem. Brazen. Good evening. Juliette, the administration decision to use the G7 Summit for personal enrichment has some Democrats saying that they're not even -- there's not even a debate about whether it's illegal. Is this unethical, illegal, both, what is it?

[23:40:10]

JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: It's all of the above. You can't even imagine a situation that would be so egregious in terms of just benefitting the president directly than him deciding he was going to host this at his own hotel. And so, we know -- what we do know now is that there was probably no competitive process. No review about whether this was an effective place. A good place to have it. And then the case that I have been making all day is, there was clearly no security or safety review to determine whether Doral was the place that could actually sustain the leadership of our greatest allies.

We know that the mayor was not contacted. We know the police chief was not contacted. In normal situations, and these are called national special security events, you would have had an assessment of whether the jurisdiction could handle that kind of security. What I can see from the mapping, this is a horrible place to have an event like this, because it has access points from all different places in a semi- residential area. So, it's not just brazen, it's dangerous at this stage.

LEMON: Yes. Look, Catherine, this is a president who claims that his call with the Ukrainian president had nothing to do with the Bidens but because he cares about corruption. Yet the --

Sorry.

CATHERINE RAMPELL, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: I know. You have to Chuckle. You have to chuckle so you don't cry.

LEMON: With a contract. That he says that is good and fine. I don't understand are we supposed to buy that?

RAMPELL: No, obviously not. Look, I have been saying for the last two or three years, that the main reason we need to see the president's tax returns is that we need to know whether he is profiting off the presidency.

We need to know whether he's rigging foreign policy for his own personal benefit. You know the truth of the matter is maybe we don't need to see those highly confidential kept secret in a lock safe documents, because he is doing all of this in broad daylight. It kind of reminds me of during the 2016 campaign when he said, his supporters would stand by him if he shot someone on Fifth Avenue.

He was saying they would support him despite the fact he would do it in public. I think that he is now come around to the idea that people support him because he's doing this things in public.

LEMON: Interesting.

RAMPELL: Because he is so openly committing crimes.

LEMON: The House expected to vote next week in a resolution regarding this Doral thing and him holding, you know, being a host of -- his properties can host a summit. Does that formal condemnation have any teeth, yes or no?

RAMPELL: I mean, unless Republicans actually do something to -- yes.

LEMON: Juliette, what do you think?

KAYYEM: Yes, I think, unless they can stop the funding it won't mean anything. And I do feel -- I agree with Catherine that I think at this stage the only defense they have is audacity. Because we're focused on how brazen it is. Rather than the insanity and illegally of the president choosing his own hotel to host the G7. I mean, just take a step back and take that one in.

LEMON: The audacity of brazen. Thank you both, I appreciate it.

RAMPELL: Yes, exactly. Hillary Clinton suggesting that Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard is being groomed by Russia to make a third party run for president. Tonight, Gabbard is responding.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[23:45:00]

LEMON: Hillary Clinton suggesting in a podcast interview that Russians are grooming a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate to make a third party run. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: I'm not making any predictions, but I think they have their eye on somebody who is currently in the Democratic primary. And grooming her to be the third party candidate. She is the favorite of the Russians. They have a bunch of sites and bots and other ways of supporting her so far.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: So many took those comments to be a reference to the Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard who responded to Clinton on Twitter calling her the Queen of Warmonger and then writing this. From the day I announced my candidacy. There has been a concert campaign to destroy my reputation. We wonder who was behind it and why. Now we know. It was always you. Through your proxies and powerful allies and the corporate media and war machine afraid of the threat I pose. Well, when asked if Clinton was talking about Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard. Clinton spokesperson told CNN and I'm quoting, if the nesting doll fits.

Adding this. If the Russian propaganda machine both their state media and their bot and troll operations is backing a candidate aligned with their interest that is just a reality. It is not speculation.

Let's discuss now. Keith Boykin is here, Steve Hall. Good evening, gentlemen. This is fascinating. So, let's get to the bottom of this. So, Keith, those tweets from Gabbard prompted this response from fellow presidential candidate Corey Booker. Look at this. That was from one of the debates. Two things. I'm trying to figure out -- why Hillary Clinton would even -- does she care about Tulsi Gabbard that much to do with Tulsi's said. Did Tulsi go too far? Did Clinton go too far? What do you think?

KEITH BOYKIN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I mean, Tulsi Gabbard mentioned Hillary Clinton debate the other day and she said that, I don't usually agree with Hillary Clinton on anything except for the issue of abortion which she said should be safely gone rare. It was unnecessary swipe at Hillary Clinton and maybe that offended her.

[23:50:06]

But the reality is that nobody was paying attention to Hillary -- to Tulsi Gabbard. She is polling at less than 2 percent in all the polls, in all of those dates. She is at 0 percent in South Carolina. She has zero chance of winning the presidential nomination. I think the only major mistake, I think, Hillary Clinton did in talking about this was to elevate Tulsi Gabbard to the point where now she is going on Fox News talking to Tucker Carlson, speaking to the president's base, speaking to the Republican Party, but she is not even making a serious effort to win the Democratic nomination.

LEMON: OK. Steve, stand by, because I got to ask you this. Don't you think, though -- I'm just -- you know me, I'm always thinking. Do you think that this is maybe Hillary Clinton is playing three chess because if she is concerned -- if the Democratic Party is concerned about Tulsi Gabbard actually running as a third party candidate, and taking some of the vote from a Democratic candidate.

She just thwarted all of that by saying, OK, then prove me wrong, don't run as a third party candidate. And then she is confirming tonight that she is not going to run as a third party candidate or an independent.

BOYKIN: Well, she had already said before that she was not going to run as a third party candidate, as I recall, but --

LEMON: All right.

BOYKIN: -- but I think --

LEMON: People say, I have no interest in running for president and then they end up doing it.

BOYKIN: It heightens the pressure on her. And it doesn't mean she won't do it in the end either. You know, Hillary Clinton compared her to Jill Stein and I think the reality is, you will never know, people could change their minds. And she could very well decide, because she is definitely not going to win the Democratic nomination, she could decide afterwards that it was rigged, because she thought the last debate was rigged as well. And she could pull a Trump and decide she is going to run for office regardless.

LEMON: I just don't -- I mean, I'm having a hard time trying to figure out some conspiracy theory behind Hillary Clinton, you know, who is one of the most successful women in politics, and for Tulsi Gabbard, she is a sitting Congresswoman.

BOYKIN: Hillary Clinton got 66 million votes for president of the United States. It's not a smart move for any Democratic candidate for president to go attacking her, the first woman nominee for presidential party. To go attack her while you're running for the party nomination.

LEMON: Yeah. Steve, let's bring you in now. We won't hog the conversation anymore. At the debate, Tulsi Gabbard talked about a regime-change war in Syria, which critics and some experts called a Kremlin talking point. She faced criticism for meeting with Assad and refusing to call him a war criminal and we've seen reporting from The New York Time that shows interest in Gabbard among criminally linked news sites. So, tell me, how do you see this?

STEVE HALL, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, Don, I think that there can't be any doubt that the Russians are indeed planning more shenanigans, more attacks on our democracy, more active measures for 2020. And we know that they've probably learned something from 2016, and so they're going to be a little bit better about it.

They're definitely looking for ways to create, if you can imagine such a thing, more political chaos in the United States, greater friction, and greater problems between ourselves and our allies. So, you know, it makes all sorts of sense if I'm the Russian intelligence officer who is responsible for running that operation, for trying to disrupt the 2020 elections.

I'm going to be looking for people, you know, who might draw, you know, votes away from the Democratic favorite, somebody who is going to cause chaos, who is going to make us have the very conversation that we're having right now.

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: So do you see any evidence of it and also where it relates to Tulsi Gabbard? I mean is Hillary Clinton on to something?

HALL: I think there is evidence of it, but I'm not sure it's completely associated with Tulsi Gabbard. I think Hillary Clinton probably went a step too far when she said Gabbard is an asset, but that is a phrase that is thrown around, you know, all the time.

LEMON: But they're saying the Russians may be using her. Maybe that is -- I think that is what she says she means.

HALL: Yes, the Russians are always looking for people, many of them well intentioned, who don't understand how well Russians can manipulate a situation. And Tulsi Gabbard does fit into that category as did Jill Stein and a whole lot of other American politicians. So, the Russians are definitely looking for something. Whether they've focused in on Gabbard like Clinton says, I don't know that there's any evidence for that yet.

LEMON: Steve, Keith, thank you very much. I appreciate it. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[23:55:00]

LEMON: More than 8 million tons of plastic ends up in the world's oceans every year, the equivalent of a garbage truck dumped every minute which takes a deadly toll on marine life. And some forecasts predict that by 2050, there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish. This week's CNN hero is a lawyer in Mumbai who took it upon himself to tackle this global problem when he came upon a beloved beach from his childhood. Meet Afroz Shah.

(BEGIN VOICE CLIP)

AFROZ SHAH, CNN HERO, LAWYER IN MUMBAI: I don't want a beach that is like a carpet of plastic. For the first time in my life I didn't want to be near the water, because the garbage was like 5 1/2 feet. The problem of pollution is created by us. And with this in my mind, I started to clean the beach. And I told myself it would be difficult for a single man to do it, so I said, why not take this personal journey to others. If this huge ocean is in a problem, we'll have to rise up in huge numbers. When you have a complicated problem, sometimes solutions are simple.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: To see how that first beach he began cleaning looks today, go to CNNheroes.com. Thanks for watching. Our coverage continues.