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Sources: Diplomat Says Giuliani Pushed For Visa For Ukraine Official Who Promised Dirt On Democrats; Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-VA) Is Interviewed About George Kent Deposition Especially On The Part Of Rudy Giuliani's Participation On Foreign Policy; Report: Trump Allies Urging Him Not To Fire Mulvaney, Warn He May Be Damaging Witness In Impeachment Probe; GOD Rep. Francis Rooney: Quid Pro Quo On Ukraine Is Now "Clear"; Hillary Clinton Suggests Russians Are "Grooming" Tulsi Gabbard for Third-Party Presidential Run; McConnell on Trump's Syria Policy: "Grave Strategic Mistake". Aired 7-8p ET

Aired October 18, 2019 - 19:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: The International Space Station for nearly seven and a half hours today to change a malfunctioning piece of equipment. Tonight, they're both back inside the space station and NASA says their space walk was a success. Thanks for watching. Erin Burnett OUTFRONT starts right now.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next breaking news, a senior State Department official says Rudy Giuliani press the government for a favor for someone promising dirt on Democrats. We've got new details on this breaking story this hour. Plus, why Trump allies are reportedly telling him not to fire Mick Mulvaney. And Hillary Clinton suggests Putin is grooming a 2020 Democratic candidate. That candidate is firing back tonight. Let's go out front.

And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett. OUTFRONT tonight, the breaking news, another favor. The President's Personal attorney Rudy Giuliani wanted a favor from the U.S. government for a former Ukrainian official. He wanted to give the official a visa and in exchange he wanted political dirt Democrats.

This according to testimony under oath from career diplomat George Kent. According to sources familiar with Kent's testimony this week, the senior State Department official told impeachment investigators that Giuliani asked the State Department and the White House to grant a visa to the former Ukrainian official, the guy that Joe Biden pushed to have removed when Biden was vice president.

This comes as President Trump is trying to sell an alternate reality as he goes to bed at least publicly for his embattled Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney. Seeming to insist that Mulvaney never upended Trump's impeachment defense by admitting the President withheld hundreds of millions of dollars in military aid in order to pressure Ukraine to investigate his political opponents. Just listen to the President.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, do you want to clarify what Mick Mulvaney said yesterday? Was the (inaudible) ...



BURNETT: OK. Trump is not alone in this world that he is now creating. I mean, here are some of his staunchest supporters. Today you'll hear a bit of a word echo here.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do you think about the acting chief of staff what he had to say yesterday?

REP. JIM JORDAN (R-OH): Well, I think he clarified his remarks.

REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): I think Mick was very clear in cleaning up his statement that there was no quid pro quo.


BURNETT: Let's be clear, what Mulvaney did last night was not to clarify or to clean up. Here's the key line from the statement that he put out last night, "There was absolutely no quid pro quo between Ukrainian military aid and any investigation into the 2016 election."

That is not a clarification. It is not clearing up. It is a denial. A complete about face. A hope that people will believe it because it is strongly worded, even though it says the opposite of what Mulvaney said in front of millions of people with the cameras rolling repeatedly, clearly, combatively and proudly.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So the demand for 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 happen as well.

MULVANEY: We do that all of the time with foreign policy.


BURNETT: OK, there's no clarifying that or cleaning it up because he said what he said. And frankly all that Mulvaney did is say what Trump said himself in that transcript of the phone call with the President of Ukraine. The Ukraine President brought up military aid and Trump asked for a favor, then talking about investigating democrats and Joe Biden.

And don't forget, Trump actually said this on camera.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, what exactly did you hope Zelensky would do about the Bidens after your phone? Exactly.

TRUMP: Well, I would think that if they were honest about it, that'd start a major investigation into Bidens.


BURNETT: Well, I mean, OK, investigate the Bidens. He said it. Yet in the face of the facts, Trump continues to sell this alternate reality that Mick Mulvaney has cleared all this up. A reality that is based now on President Trump's most trusted defense.


TRUMP: Look, this is a terrible witch-hunt. This is so bad for our country.


BURNETT: The witch-hunt. But as one Republican Congressman who hails from a district Trump won by 21 points said today, "I'm very mindful of the fact that back during Watergate, everybody said it's a witch- hunt to get Nixon. It turns out it wasn't a witch-hunt. It was absolutely correct."

Manu Raju is out front on Capitol Hill. Manu, what more you learning about Kent's testimony and what he said about Rudy Giuliani?

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, new details about Rudy Giuliani's efforts to try to dig up dirt on Joe Biden and use his influence to change a decision made by the federal government.


Now, in this closed door testimony we are told from four sources familiar with the matter that George Kent, the career diplomat objected to efforts by Giuliani to get a visa, U.S. visa for former Ukrainian Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin to travel to the United States. And Biden had actually pushed to get Shokin removed from that position. Giuliani wanted to interview Shokin.

Now, the State Department did not grant that visa and then Giuliani went and appealed that decision to the White House and the visa never came for Shokin. But then Giuliani then had conducted subsequent interviews via Skype with Shokin, then those Skype interviews led to a number of records that were later turned over by Giuliani to the State Department in the hopes of investigating claims, many of them unsubstantiated about Joe Biden, about Hunter Biden and about Marie Yovanovitch, who's the former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine who Giuliani pushed to get removed from the post who the President bad mouthed, who then was later removed from the post and that has caused a range of controversy over the weeks and days ahead.

Now, Giuliani did not comment for this story, but in the past he has told our colleague, Mike Warren, that he did want to interview Shokin in an effort to get dirt on the Democrats. And, of course, Erin, all of this, Giuliani's efforts, form the basis of not just a whistleblower complaint, but also the impeachment probe that is now threatening Donald Trump's presidency, Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Manu, thank you very much. And Boris Sanchez is out front at the White House. Boris, you now have testimony, we understand, where Rudy Giuliani is wanting to get a visa in exchange for political dirt on Democrats. Any response from the White House?

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: No, Erin. The White House has declined to comment for this story. Though we should point out President Trump did mention George Kent's testimony today. At one point the President trying to spin details about what Kent told investigators regarding Joe Biden, trying to cast this favorably for the White House and again attacking his potential 2020 rival.

The President at one point adding that he has never met Kent, that he doesn't really know him, but saying that maybe in this case his testimony won't be fake news. It does not appear the President was aware when he said that of everything that Kent ultimately testify to regarding the President's personal attorney.

Of course, in the past, the White House has stuck by Rudy Giuliani. Even as the President has acknowledged that he doesn't know everything that his personal attorney was doing related to Ukraine. Just yesterday, we saw the Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney in the White House press room saying that it was totally appropriate for the President's personal attorney, someone not officially a part of this administration to be handling his foreign policy. Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Boris, thank you very much. And I want to go out front now to Democratic Congressman Gerry Connolly, who sits on the House Oversight and Reform Committee. One of the committees heading up the impeachment investigation. And I appreciate your time as always, sir.

REP. GERRY CONNOLLY (D-VA): My pleasure, Erin.

BURNETT: Look, I know you were in the Kent deposition. What did you think when you heard this part of the testimony about Giuliani trying to get a visa for Shokin in exchange for political dirt on Democrats?

CONNOLLY: Caveat. I'm not going to comment directly on testimony behind closed doors. But let me just say, the picture painted of Mr. Giuliani by a number of witnesses and by what we know in the public record is really one that is very disturbing. I think Giuliani in collusion with President Trump is turning the Oval Office into a cesspool.

Giuliani's contacts in Ukraine are with the shadiest of shady characters. Shokin, Leshchenko, a number of oligarchs who are not committed to democratic norms or institutions and are reportedly corrupt figures in their own right. And his association with those kinds of characters, claiming to represent the President of the United States when he interacts with them and not being contradicted by Mr. Trump is very troubling.

BURNETT: So a request like this, if Rudy Giuliani goes and says, excuse me, I'm sorry, Congressman, I'm going to try to get you this visa if you give me political dirt, would that be illegal?

CONNOLLY: In my opinion, if it's tied to extortion, the way the President tied military aid to that cooperation, yes, that's extortion and extortion is a crime.

BURNETT: So do you think the President of the United States was aware of this, something at this level of granularity, the visa for the dirt?

CONNOLLY: My sense is Mr. Giuliani keeps Donald Trump informed of his salacious activities, because the President is interested in it and takes pleasure in hearing the details. But with respect to any specific activity, who knows how much Donald Trump was made aware. But I don't believe Donald Trump is an innocent operating on the dark victim here. I think he's a colluder with Giuliani.


I think he aided, abetted and empowered him.

BURNETT: You heard Boris reporting from the White House, the President today was talking about the Kent testimony that it was good for him, that maybe this would be the first non fake news. Obviously, that was before he heard this report. Perhaps, what he did here though is that what we understand which is that Kent said he raised concerns in early 2015 when Biden was Vice President, that Kent had raised concerns about his son being on that Ukrainian board, not directly to the vice president but to a staffer who turned Kent away and said, look, his other son is battling cancer. He doesn't have the bandwidth to deal with this.

So it doesn't sound like from Kent's testimony that this ever got to the vice president, but there was a concern about this. Does that concern you that there were people involved who did think that was inappropriate for Joe Biden's son to be on that Board?

CONNOLLY: Well, that's not my recollection. My recollection is that concerns were raised about whether Vice President Biden should go to Ukraine and represent the United States at that time. And the reaction was the man is in deep grieving with the illness of his son and the ultimate loss of a son. This is not the time to confront him with the appropriateness of his representing the United States government as he's been asked to do.

But, again, I can't comment on direct testimony but my recollection is different than what you've described.

BURNETT: OK. Well, I appreciate you sharing yours as we keep going through all of this reporting. I want to ask you one more question, if I can, before we go, Congressman.

CONNOLLY: Sure, of course.

BURNETT: And that is the President saying Mick Mulvaney clarified his remarks. You heard Jim Jordan say that, Mark Meadows, they're all coming out, Kevin McCarthy, I'm sorry, and saying he was cleaning it up. He was clarifying it. That he didn't admit to a quid pro quo even though, of course, he did. Are you clear on what happened?

CONNOLLY: I think all of us are clear on what happened and I think you kind of put your finger in your reporting on it just a few minutes ago, Erin. I mean, look, we all saw it with our own eyes and heard it with our own ears and there are now gas lighting. The classic gas lighting. Don't believe what you witnessed, believe what I tell you.

And there's an Orwellian quality to this that is mind-blowing, but he said what he said. He admitted flat-out in public, in front of lots of witnesses there was a quid pro quo and then he went on to say get over it. And I don't know how you walk back or take back those words.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Congressman Connolly. I appreciate your time.

CONNOLLY: My pleasure, Erin. Thank you.

BURNETT: Next, Trump allies reportedly telling the President he cannot fire Mick Mulvaney, why? Well, the reporter who's breaking that story is out front. Plus, an influential Republican coming out in support of impeachment. Will others follow? And two women making history 250 miles above earth.


SALLY RIDE, AMERICAN ASTRONAUT: For us, this is really just us doing our jobs.




BURNETT: New tonight, the impeachment inquiry may save Mick Mulvaney's job as Acting Chief of Staff. The Atlantic reporting that Trump allies are now trying to convince the President that he needs to keep Mick Mulvaney part of team Trump. OK.

The article says, "A former White House official said Trump 'will be feeling the pain of having pushed out [former National Security Adviser John] Bolton at a very inopportune time. He won't make the same mistake with Mulvaney, however frustrated he may be with him. Now, their interests are aligned. They sink or swim together.'"

Out front now the White House Correspondent for The Atlantic who broke the story Elaina Plott, David Gergen who advised Four Presidents including Nixon and Clinton, former Nixon White House Counsel John Dean and Greg Brower who was Assistant Director for the FBI and a former Republican State Senator in Nevada.

All right. Let me start with you, Elaina. So is Trump actually scared that Mick Mulvaney could turn on him if he fires him?

ELAINA PLOTT, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, THE ATLANTIC: Erin, I haven't been told of a specific fear about Mulvaney. What I have been told is that allies are telling Trump that what happened with Bolton which is to say details leaking of him issuing scathing criticisms of Trump and his foreign policy behind closed doors have in fact rattled him and made him rethink his policy of just flippantly casting off advisers and then trashing them by tweet.

As he pulls advisors inside and outside the White House, whether he should keep Mulvaney, this is what they're responding, they're saying, "Do you want John Bolton redux?" And at this point, based on the press conference yesterday, we know how much Mick Mulvaney knows about everything that has happened in that phone call to the Ukrainian president thus far.

BURNETT: So that's certainly true and, of course, by the way we don't even yet know how much damage John Bolton could do ...

PLOTT: Exactly, yes.

BURNETT: ... publicly testified. So to your point, the risks here could be extremely big, John. I mean you, of course, were the person who eventually told the truth about President Nixon and as Elaina points out, Trump has fired a lot of people in really nasty and derogatory ways. Will someone with big information here flip?

JOHN DEAN, FORMER NIXON WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL: Well, it's hard to know for certain. I've been hopeful for several people coming out and telling the truth. It hasn't happened. But I think he is in a very difficult position right now with Mulvaney, who knows a lot more than he has said in the press room. And in my own experience, Nixon could not remove either me or his chief of staff and his top domestic adviser, because I told him I really wouldn't go unless they went. I knew that was necessary to solve his problems, so he is in a difficult position.

BURNETT: So, Greg, we know Mulvaney issued the order or the actual or the formal order to hold the Ukraine aid up and now he said that that order was a quid pro quo.


How much more could Mulvaney know about?

GREG BROWER, FORMER DEPUTY GENERAL COUNSEL, FBI: Erin, he could know everything there is to know about this. The chief of staff position as John and David both know well should be at the middle of virtually everything that's happening in the White House and everything that the President is doing and thinking, so he should know everything.

And this clearly was a quid pro quo. And the idea that he tried to walk it back is obviously not passing the smell test or the believability test with anybody. But just think of how dysfunctional a White House would be if the chief of staff, the acting chief of staff is only there because the President is afraid to fire him. I mean that's a dysfunction at a level that is hard to imagine. It's unsustainable.

BURNETT: David, what do you say? I mean, unsustainable and does President Trump need Mick Mulvaney now more than Mulvaney needs him?

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: I think it is unsustainable to have it, Erin. I think you're absolutely right on that point. Listen, on balance I think it's a tough call what the President does. There's certainly a strong case for letting him go.

Clearly, this was his first press conference with the press, Elaina has reported. It certainly should be his last. And if the President doesn't have confidence in him, it's really hard to keep him. I think on the other hand, on the balance side, I would say keep him and I think there were a couple of reasons.

One is, this is a White House that is a very dysfunctional place already to replace your chief of staff in the midst of this crisis, have someone come in as fresh. It's just inviting more chaos in the White House. It seems to me you'd want to keep that.

The second point very briefly is the person who is the principal cause of Trump's troubles is not Mulvaney. It's the President himself.

BURNETT: And that is a point, John. Every single person who's testified so far has made it clear that all roads lead to, yes, Rudy Giuliani, but also ultimately to Donald Trump. Is there any way to insulate the president at this point, even for those who would be inclined to do so?

DEAN: He doesn't seem willing to accept that, Erin. He's removed everybody who was strong enough to stand up and advise him. So I'm told that Mulvaney really is a chief of staff in the sense that the President says do something and he will implement it. He doesn't invite debate or dispute or examination of the wisdom of what he's suggesting, just implement it. So I think that is a situation that if he gets a new chief of staff it probably won't change.

BURNETT: Elaina, publicly, of course, the President praised Mulvaney after the briefing and now he's saying, "Oh, he clarified it." But he is doing it in a way that his word choice sounds oddly familiar. Here it is.


TRUMP: Mick is a good man.

I like Mr. Bannon. He's a good man. He is not a racist, I can tell you that. He's a good person.

Tom Price is a very good man. I can tell you ...

(END VIDEO CLIP) BURNETT: The good man, Elaina. Bannon was fired. Tom Price resigned

the same day and there was a lot of criticism coming from the President. I mean, look, words or words but when he says Mick is a good man, does that kind of show that he's flashing code red?

PLOTT: I mean here's the thing, decoding the Trump's words in that manner I think would take far longer than we have in this program. What I can report is that advisors are strongly urging Trump to keep Mick Mulvaney in place, whether he heeds that advice is another matter entirely.

BURNETT: So Greg, Energy Secretary Rick Perry is now also admitting he was directed by President Trump to work with Rudy Giuliani on Ukraine and today Perry tried to defend the President, even though he's obviously resigned and he says, "Oh, I saw nothing wrong with that." I wanted to play his defense for you.


RICK PERRY, SECRETARY OF ENERGY: As the Governor of Texas, I use people outside of government all of the time to give me information, experts. I respect the State Department but I happen to know people in the energy industry that are smarter than the State Department folks. I didn't see a problem with that at.


BURNETT: Greg, do you see a problem with that at all?

BROWER: I do. What Perry is trying to do there is really apples and oranges. He may be talking about something that was perfectly legitimate when he was Governor of Texas, but this is very different. There clearly was a conspiracy of sorts to do this unholy Ukrainian deal.

And the bigger problem, I think, that is going to plague the White House now and those around the White House is that to the extent people are lying about it. The cover-up is worse than the underlying crime, I think that's the next step to this.

BURNETT: All right. All of you please stay with me. Next, a Republican lawmaker now refusing to rule out impeachment.



REP. FRANCIS ROONEY (R-FL): It's certainly very, very serious and troubling.


BURNETT: Is this a sign of trouble for Trump? Plus, Hillary Clinton pushing a theory about a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, why?


they've got their eye on somebody who's currently in the Democratic primary. She's the favorite of the Russians.




BURNETT: New tonight, a sitting Republican Congressman not buying the latest spin from the White House. Francis Rooney telling CNN it is clear, the Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney admitted that American aid to Ukraine was held up as part of a quid pro quo.



REP. FRANCIS ROONEY (R-FL): Whatever might have been gray and unclear before is certainly quite clear rid now, that the actions were related to getting the Ukraine to doing some of these things. It's certainly serious and troubling.


BURNETT: This as a longtime critic of President Trump, former Republican governor and presidential candidate, John Kasich, said today that the first time he supports impeachment and no fan of the president, but he has repeatedly resisted impeachment calls in the past.

Here's Kasich.


JOHN KASICH, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: This behavior, in my opinion, cannot be tolerated and action is going have to be taken. If I was sitting in the House of Representatives today and you were to ask me how do I feel? Do I think impeachment should move forward and should go for a full examination and a trial of the United States Senate? My vote would be yes.


BURNETT: Everyone is back with me.

John, do you think this week could be the week when more Republicans start to say, enough is enough and support impeachment?

I want to point out, Congressman Rooney, you know, his district went for Trump by 21 points and he just came out and said it is loud and clear that this was a quid pro quo.

JOHN DEAN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, it certainly is a crack in the dam. There's a trend that if it is going in the wrong way for the president. The general public opinion is certainly increasing and favoring an impeachment inquiry and some are even saying removal. So Congress is getting into the same mood of its constituents. I think this is the beginning of a trend the president is going to not be happy with at all.


DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: I do think the trend is moving against the president, but I don't think it will break in significant numbers. What I think is going on and it is very important is that we are learning that the effort on Ukraine, the president was obsessed with this. He got two cabinet officers involved. He got people over at the State Department. He got Rudy Giuliani involved.

You know, it sounds like he's spent a good deal of his time trying to get this Ukraine thing done. That in itself makes the impeachment issue more serious. It wasn't just sort of a lone call. It was a really strong, organized effort.

I do think as well for the general public, for this -- to have this terrible mistake he made on the Kurds and the foreign policy and the other things that are piling up and the brazenness to go with Doral with G7, I think all of those things are beginning to congeal into a mess that the public is not happy with, a lot of people will still stick with Trump and I can tell you it makes the whole thing, the whole presidency, it raises all sorts of questions about fitness.

BURNETT: So, Elaina, do you think the comments, when the president starts to hear things like Congressman Rooney, right? We know how mad he got with Romney said something, right? He lashes out. Now you have Rooney speaking out. Former Governor Kasich, no fan of the president, obviously, but he has not been for impeachment until now.

Do these sort of things start to anger the president, start to get to him?

ELAINA PLOTT, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I do think they anger the president, in particular, somebody like Kasich or Romney. Remember, Kasich really is emblematic of the sort of old guard, Republican Party establishment that Trump was so elated with himself for having defeated in 2016. So, it wouldn't surprise me at all if at 5:00 a.m., we see an all-caps tweet lambasting him for his comments.

I actually don't -- based on my conversation since Rooney's comments, I don't know that President Trump will address them. Rooney is not someone that he has a particularly close relationship with.

BURNETT: He has no relationship, it's true.

PLOTT: But somebody like Kasich who he has pretty cemented feelings for, it wouldn't surprise me at all to hear him comment on that.

BURNETT: So, Greg, the former press secretary to President George W. Bush, Ari Fleischer, was very critical today of Trump's phone call with Ukraine's president. He's been a Trump defender on many, many issues. I want to play for you in full what he said today.


ARI FLEISCHER, FORMER WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The problem here and this goes to the original call the president said to Zelensky. If it was all about corruption and it was only thing the president talked about and Mulvaney talked about, perfectly appropriate. But once you bring in the name of your opponent, Hunter Biden, John Biden, once you talk about the 2016 election, you've gone beyond corruption.


BURNETT: So, Greg, he says he's gone beyond corruption and yet, Ari does not think, he's only saying it's corrupt, it doesn't rise to the level of an impeachable offense.

What do you say at this point when people like Ari Fleischer who are saying it's correct, it crossed the line but not impeachable?

GREG BROWER, FORMER FBI ASSISTANT DIRECTOR, FORMER GOP STATE LAWMAKER: I have great respect for Ari and I saw him at an event last week for President Bush at an event. You know, the Republicans are struggling with this. They seem to, for the most part, be trying to find that sweet spot between criticizing, which they want to do and calling for impeachment, which they don't want to do yet.


But I think, as David points out, the cumulative effect of these issues, and there are a lot of these issues, are starting to congeal, and that's going to -- maybe to make metaphors, that's going to create more cracks, and eventually, Republicans will, like Mick Mulvaney yesterday in a fit of frustration, simply blurt out the truth of what they really think about this.

But rest assured that despite the congealing of the current issues, there will be more issues. We're likely to see virtually every day another shoe drop in the cumulative effect of all of that inevitably is going to cause more Republicans to come out and speak out.

BURNETT: And look, obviously, the inquiry at this point is focused on Ukraine, right? They're not trying to mix in Russia with other things and they could change that.

John, you know, David mentioned, though, other things this congealing as you just referred to. The G7 summit, Mulvaney announced that it's going to be held at the president's Doral golf resort and then something that defies reality and they looked in a dozen places and no other thing than being qualified. That's absurd on its face when you look around this country, number one.

And number two, they say it's at cost, so they're not going to make money. The resort is having all kinds of problems losing money. So, even at cost, it's going to help them and help the president's bottom line, and those are the facts.

So is this something that's going to get to Republicans or will they blindly defend him on that, too, John?

DEAN: Well, it is building up and the reaction was negative before he even did it, because he, as you recall, he floated on the G7 that he might do this and there was a immediate reaction by Democrats and I suspect a few Republicans thought, no, he would not go that far, but he did.

BURNETT: He did, and it does seem, Greg, final word to you, that until Republicans tell him it's too far, he will keep going.

BROWER: Well, and perhaps even past that, Erin. It's going to take something more than a few Republicans and it's going to take a similar situation to what we saw in Watergate where a group of Republican leaders will say enough is enough, time's up.

BURNETT: Thank you all.

And next, Hillary Clinton floating a theory that put Putin is grooming a Democratic presidential candidate. Yes, here it is.


HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: She's a favorite of the Russians and they have a bunch of sites and bots and other ways of supporting her so far.


BURNETT: Well, that candidate firing back in a way. And Trump touting the success of his ceasefire in Syria, despite clashes today on the Turkey-Syria border.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We've had tremendous success, I think, over the last couple of days. A little bit unconventional. A little bit of hard love.




BURNETT: Tonight, Hillary Clinton pushes her own Russia conspiracy theory. In a recent podcast, Clinton says Russians are grooming a between 2020 presidential contender. That candidate is Tulsi Gabbard.

Here is Hillary Clinton.


CLINTON: I'm not making any prediction, but I think they've got their eye on someone who is currently in the Democratic primary and are grooming her to be the third-party candidate. She's a favorite of the Russians. They have a bunch of sites and bots and other ways of supporting her so far, and that's assuming Jill Stein might give it up, but she might not because she's also a Russian asset.


BURNETT: OK. Just a fact, huh? Tulsi Gabbard is a Russian asset and Jill Stein is a Russian asset.

OUTFRONT now, Van Jones, host of "THE VAN JONES SHOW".

So, that's how she puts it out there. I mean --

VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: She's playing a very dangerous game. Hillary Clinton, if you're concerned about this information and to spread disinformation, that is what just happened, just throw out some information, disinformation, smear somebody.

She is Hillary Clinton. She's a legend. She's going to be in the history books and she's a former nominee of our party and she just came out against a sitting U.S. congresswoman, a decorated war veteran and someone running for the nomination of our party with a complete smear and no facts.

BURNETT: She called hear a Russian asset as a fact. And as you point out, a sitting U.S. congresswoman.

JONES: A sitting U.S. congresswoman.

Now, this is not -- this is a very, very dangerous game, and there is a back story and there are two sides to every story. Let's not forget, Tulsi Gabbard was picked out by the Democratic Party and put at the top of the DNC. They thought she was going to be their golden girl.

And she got that position and she looked around and saw Debbie Wasserman Schultz and other people, Clinton allies, doing stuff they shouldn't be doing in the primary and Tulsi publicly quit and endorsed Bernie Sanders, and it's been payback hell ever since.

BURNETT: And that's why we are here.

JONES: Payback hell ever since.

BURNETT: You know, Gabbard responded with a tweet storm.

She says: Thank you, Hillary Clinton, you, the queen of warmongers, embodiment of corruption and personification of the rot that has sickened the Democratic Party for so long have finally come out from behind the curtain. From the day I announced my candidacy, there's been a concerted campaign to destroy my reputation. We wondered who was behind it and why.

Now, we know it was always you, through your proxies and powerful allies in the corporate media and war machine, afraid of the threat I pose. It's now clear this primary is between you and me. Don't cowardly hide behind your proxies. Join the race directly.

JONES: It's getting kind of hot -- it's getting kind of hot and this is the problem. You know, we're headed down this spiral staircase. You had Pelosi and Trump, you had the big blow up there, whoever you blame, you can't be proud of America when you have food fights breaking out in the White House between the top leadership. We can't be proud when we can't have a primary without the former nominee jumping out of a podcast, throwing aspersions and tweet war.

This -- we got real problems in America, and I'm telling you, Hillary Clinton is playing a very dangerous game. I do not want someone of her stature to legitimate these kinds of attacks against anybody. If you got real evidence, come forward with it. If you're just going to smear people casually on podcasts, you are playing right into the Russians' hands.

BURNETT: Right, and there could be -- you know, Russians can be backing someone and this is very different from calling a person a Russian asset. I think it's --

JONES: Well, it's just -- it's really -- it's really, really, really disappointing.

BURNETT: All right. Van, thank you very much.


And next, Senator Mitch McConnell not letting up on his criticism of the president, calling his decision to withdraw troops from Syria, quote, a grave mistake.

And a giant leap by astronauts making history.


BURNETT: Tonight, President Trump continues to tout the cease-fire in Syria despite reports of ongoing fighting.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're doing very, very well with Turkey. There's a cease-fire or a pause or whatever you want to call it. There was some sniper fire this morning. There was mortar fire this morning that was eliminated quickly, and they're back to the full pause.

We've had tremendous success, I think, over the last couple of days. A little bit unconventional. A little bit of hard love.


BURNETT: Moments ago, the president tweeting that the cease-fire saved, quote, thousands and thousands and many more lives.

This comes as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called the Syria troop withdrawal a grave strategic mistake.

OUTFRONT now, the former ambassador, Ryan Crocker, who has served as the ambassador to six countries, including Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.


Ambassador, I really appreciate your time and perspective.

So, the president says this hard love. This tremendous success and it's saving thousands and thousands and many more lives. Your reaction?

RYAN CROCKER, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO SYRIA: It's a tremendous success for Turkey, for Russia, for the regime in Damascus and for Iran. It is a very grave setback for us and certainly for our Kurdish allies.

BURNETT: So, Ambassador, we understand ISIS militants were released from prisons as the Turks attacked and no one knows how many. That appears to be extremely unclear. The president's team tried to imply the Kurd were releasing them. CNN has confirmed that is false, that's not what the U.S. military believes.

And the president talked about ISIS today. Here is what he said.


TRUMP: We have ISIS totally under guard. Turkey is also guarding separately. They're watching over everything. We have ISIS under control.


BURNETT: Do you think that is true, Ambassador?

CROCKER: Erin, we don't have anything under control. We have left the area in a precipitous fashion, kind of a route. I can tell you there are some very, very unhappy American troopers out there that feel that they have -- they've been dishonored, that not only did any leave an ally in the face of relentless enemy, they did so on a notice of a few hours.

So, there is nothing we're doing there anymore because we're not there. If the Kurds continue to guard that camp, I'd be amazed. They're fighting for their lives right now. And I would not expect a whole lot from Turkey, because if you remember for a couple of years there they were basically doing nothing to stop Islamic State infiltration over there border into Syria.

BURNETT: Certainly not --

CROCKER: So, the president is in a reality of his own that does not match what's going on on the ground to say the least.

BURNETT: He is sort of in a flippant way likening what happening's in Syria to a schoolyard fight. I wanted to play that for you, Ambassador. Here he is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TRUMP: Sometimes you have to let them fight a little while then people find out how tough the fighting is these guys no right up here. These guys know, right? Sometimes you have to let them fight. Like two kids in a lot. You got to let them fight and then you pull them apart.


BURNETT: So he equates it a fight between kids. And, Ambassador, I just want to -- I know you've seen this. I just want our viewers to see process because some of the video I'm about to show is extremely graphic, but because of what the president says and between kids and fight it out. I felt it was important to show our viewers.

This is believed to be Hevrin Khalaf, a Turkish politician. Turkish- backed militants attacked her vehicle, we understand brutally killing her, killing -- kicking her dead body. It's horrific, OK?

Three hundred thousand people have been displaced, 70,000 children since this offense from Turkey started. Civilians have been killed. Turkey openly claims it's killed hundreds of Kurdish soldiers, American allies.

So, when you hear the president feel like this and talk about a school yard fight, in the lot, and pull them apart, how do you react?

CROCKER: Well, frankly, it's sickening. It just makes me sick. The president has a no concept what have a real fight is. He's never been in one, never been near one.

Look, the Surds stood with us, fought with us, and the whole ISIS campaign and they paid a very high price. Thousands of Kurdish fighters killed. That's not a school yard fight.

And this is how we repay them. We're done. We're going home, leaving in 30 minutes, goodbye, good luck.

They are now fighting for their lives and running for their lives. That is a not exactly a school yard fight.

BURNETT: Yes, and I want to ask you before we go something former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said last night. He was responding. He was at a dinner, you know, sort of a dinner where you are supposed to -- make jokes. He was responding to the president who had called Mattis the world's most overrated general. That's what the president said about Jim Mattis this week and here is what Jim Mattis said at the Al Green dinner here.


JIM MATTIS, FORMER DEFENSE SECRETARY: I earned my spurs on the battlefield, Martin, as you pointed out and Donald Trump earned his spurs in a letter from a doctor. And I think the only person in the military that Mr. Trump doesn't think is overrated is, as you pointed out, Martin, that's Colonel Sanders.


BURNETT: What do you think of the secretary's comments after the president called him the most overrated general?


CROCKER: Well, I've had the privilege of knowing Jim Mattis for a number of years. He and I are both from the same part of eastern Washington. There has never been a finer marine ever to wear the uniform. He has proved it time and time again in the fight.

So, what he said lightheartedly also goes right to the point. He did his -- earn his spurs as, did Bill McRaven, who had a brilliant op-ed in "The New York Times" this morning. And if the president ever re- associated himself with reality, he would know that.

That is why they are both I think just furious over this, as I am what is going on now with the troops that were in Syria and were ordered to abandon our allies.

BURNETT: Ambassador Crocker, I appreciate your time. Thanks again, sir.

CROCKER: Thank you.

BURNETT: And OUTFRONT next, a day for history in outer space.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Where are we are flying over, it's beautiful.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are flying over the Middle East.



BURNETT: A day to remember for the first time, an all-female space walk, American astronauts Christina Koch and Jessica Meir left the International Space Station to replace a failed battery unit. Koch and Meir with the 13th and 14th American women to complete spacewalks.

The first woman in space was actually Russian, Valentina Tereshkova, all the way back in 1963, 20 years before America's Sally Ride. But the world has changed big time, Meir and Koch are members of the 2013 astronaut corps, which is the first astronaut class in the country to be 50 percent women. So, it's great to celebrate the space walk but it's about time not to celebrate the things simply because they should not be unusual.

Of course, one of the astronauts said is best. Jessica Meir said, quote: We hope we can provide inspiration to everyone, not just every woman who has a dream.

Thanks for joining us.

Anderson starts now.