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CNN TONIGHT

Rep. Denny Heck (D-WA) Is Interviewed About How He Views The Actions Taken By Republicans At The SCIF; A Plan Well-Orchestrated By President Trump's Party; A Lawyer Lawyers Himself Up; Ukraine President And Advisers Discussed Pressure From Trump Administration Weeks Before Taking Office; GOP Lawmakers Interrupt Secure Impeachment Testimony; Biden Leading New CNN Poll. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired October 23, 2019 - 22:00   ET

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


[22:00:00]

DON LEMON, CNN HOST: -- I wasn't ready. You're early.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: I know. You know what?

LEMON: Usually, you're trying to eat into my show by like --

CUOMO: My E.P. worries about getting the show to you on time more than anything I said.

LEMON: I appreciate that. And she's --

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: I got to cure up the cancer and I have to cut it in order to get the show to you on time.

LEMON: We know who runs that show.

CUOMO: Yes, I know. I'm complaining about it right now.

LEMON: And the brains behind it.

CUOMO: I know. My team is everything.

LEMON: We'll see. Same --

CUOMO: I am nothing.

LEMON: I agree with you.

CUOMO: I'm not even Ronald McDonald.

LEMON: I agree with you. So, listen, what is all of this complaining about? This behind closed doors. And I heard part of your interview earlier. They're doing this in secret or whatever. Did they ever hear the Benghazi investigations and how those were conducted?

CUOMO: Yes, but that was then. This is now.

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: Wait a minute. Was it the Republicans who were doing it?

CUOMO: Now it doesn't work for us. It doesn't work for us now, Don.

LEMON: Wait. I'm going to tell you, well, in my open because there is evidence on record, the Republicans saying the committee's preference for private interviews over public hearings has been questioned. And then they explain why they do it. They said because both witnesses and members of Congress conduct themselves differently in interviews than when in the public were of a hearing.

CUOMO: Yes, I just played Trey Gowdy --

LEMON: Wow.

CUOMO: -- saying exactly that --

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: My gosh.

CUOMO: -- who I often refer to as captain Benghazi. Now he may be part of the president's defense team if there is any trial.

LEMON: I thought that was over. I thought that wasn't happening.

CUOMO: Well, maybe.

LEMON: Who knows.

CUOMO: Maybe not. Who knows what's going to happen? It's not easy for him to keep lawyers.

LEMON: But listen, I always get my hypocrisy and schadenfreude mixed up. They're kind of the same thing. I don't know.

CUOMO: No, not really. Schadenfreude is where you take pleasure at other people's pain.

LEMON: That -- right. OK.

CUOMO: Hypocrisy is where you do what you say that others shouldn't do.

LEMON: Listen, I know -- I know the definition of that one. I always. But I always --

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: Like, when I see you fall down, I laugh because I have schadenfreude.

LEMON: That's schadenfreude. You just take glee in my downfall always.

CUOMO: No, not at all.

LEMON: That just means you're a bad person.

CUOMO: I love you like family.

LEMON: I got to tell you though --

CUOMO: Maybe more.

LEMON: I got to tell you it's a mess. What happened today was interesting, especially the storming of the SCIF. I heard you talking about it and that -- listen, people do things all the time in Congress.

I remember when -- remember when the Democrats sat in, and they broke the rules and some of them got in trouble for it, and they said it was bad because they were actually facetiming during those things? OK. But this was a security breach.

CUOMO: Yes.

LEMON: And that information is not supposed to be released to the public until someone has come in and said, OK, it's OK to release it now. This is what you can release. I mean how can they have an excuse for that?

CUOMO: My man, Bill Johnson, head Congressman Bill Johnson --

LEMON: Boy.

CUOMO: -- on, smart, Ohio, Republican. I asked him about the phone. He doesn't answer, and he keeps going. So, I let him talk. He was making a salient point. I said, just for the record, did you have your device on you?

LEMON: Look over there. Look over there. Look over here.

CUOMO: And he said, he says, hey, you're good looking.

LEMON: There's something shining over there.

CUOMO: No. He said, this interview is over. he said, did you have your device on you? He says, my device was off. I said, did you have it on you?

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: That's not the point.

CUOMO: And he said, let's me tell you what's a violation of the rules.

LEMON: Yes.

CUOMO: But it is interesting that they put themselves in a little bit of a box by doing that. But the bigger wrong, Don, is they're just misleading the American people.

LEMON: Yes.

CUOMO: There is no congressional precedent of how to do this.

LEMON: Nope.

CUOMO: They're investigating now. When they have the hearings about articles of impeachment, of course it should be fully transparent. The president's legal team should be able to cross-examine and have their own witnesses. The Republicans should be able to do it. But that's then, not now.

LEMON: Karma is a you know what because when it was going on with other things and people were saying, OK --

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: It wants to change the rules.

LEMON: -- you're setting this precedent. Wait till the future. And now with the storming of the SCIF, they've set another precedent. How far --

CUOMO: But you know what, though, the storming of the SCIF, I actually was thinking about this in lemon-esque fashion. Storming the SCIF, not talking about Bill Taylor, are we?

LEMON: No.

CUOMO: Not talking about the new information --

LEMON: No.

CUOMO: -- about Ukraine knowing about the call.

LEMON: There you go. You're learning.

CUOMO: Not fast enough. I didn't realize that till like the last two minutes of my show.

LEMON: There you go.

CUOMO: I did one of these.

LEMON: Yes. You're like, Lemon is always right as usual. Thank you, Chris.

CUOMO: Never said that a day in my life.

LEMON: I'll see you.

CUOMO: See you later.

LEMON: See you soon.

Another big night. This is CNN TONIGHT. I'm Don Lemon.

Another night of breaking news. Another night of breaking news. This is what CNN is learning right now.

Rudy Giuliani, remember the prosecutor Rudy Giuliani, the attorney Rudy Giuliani, the president's attorney? Looking for an attorney himself. That's according to three sources. And this is why it's interesting because just last week, Giuliani told CNN that he wouldn't be in the market for a new lawyer unless he needed one. More on that to come.

CNN has also learned that Ukraine was under pressure from the White House and Giuliani earlier than we knew. You know that whole idea they didn't feel pressure? Well, that's not necessarily so according to these reports.

[22:04:59]

Two weeks before he even took office, way back on May 7th, Ukraine's president, Volodymyr Zelensky, and his team knew their relationship with the U.S. could be at stake if they didn't publicly launch an investigation of Burisma.

Burisma is the Ukrainian company that had Joe Biden's son on its board. Well, that's according to a source who tells CNN that Zelensky and his team specifically mentioned feeling pressure to opened -- to open so-called corruption investigations.

Let's remember, though, there's no evidence of wrongdoing by the Bidens in Ukraine, OK? There's more. We're also learning more about what the Pentagon's Ukraine expert -- her name is Laura Cooper -- told the House intel committee just today.

Lawmakers who were in the room say her testimony showed that aid to Ukraine was not delivered in the normal way. That's what they could share. Not delivered in the normal way. What does that mean?

But the big headline about her testimony was really how it began. Were you anywhere close to a television set today, because Cooper was left cooling her heels for five hours? Five hours.

Left cooling her heels by the president's Republican allies on the Hill because they were resorting to brazen tactics, publicity stunts, in an attempt to please an audience of one, the one in the White House.

Check this out. More than two dozen House Republicans forcing their way into a secure -- a secure room. That secure room, Chris and I just talked about it. It's known as a SCIF, where Cooper had just taken her seat just this morning, storming in through three different doors, yelling in Adam Schiff's face. These are adults, your leaders, your lawmakers. Other Democrats yelling back.

A source in the room saying it was the closest thing that I've seen around here to mass civil unrest as a member of Congress. And the really disturbing part of all of this is that some Republicans

actually brought their -- you see them there, right, on their phones. They brought their phones into the secure facility where the intel committee was meeting. That is a security breach and a clear violation of House rules. Even more so than a violation of House rules, it's a security breach.

The intel committee -- you're not supposed to bring your device in there. And guess what? All of this was planned. One Republican involved in the circus tells CNN that it was on their calendar for about a week, though we didn't know it would be anything other than a traditional press conference until they headed to the SCIF.

Another source saying that the president, who met with some of those Republicans yesterday, had advance knowledge of what was about to go down.

Like I said, audience of one. The Republicans who stormed that room acting as if they had no say in the process, right? It was -- OK, so I always tell you don't fall for the OK-doke. It was to pretend. This is all done behind closed doors. We don't know anything about it. We have no say in this.

That's what they want to project to you, and that is absolutely false, and here's why. Because Republicans who are supposed to be there, who are actually on the intel committee, whose business it was to be there to ask questions, they were already in the SCIF, and they had equal time to question Cooper.

So, let's remember during the Benghazi investigation, Republicans conducted hours upon hours upon hours of interviews behind closed doors, saying, quote, "that was more efficient and effective."

You know how I know that? I was just talking about this with Chris. It's right there on page 360 in their report, in their own report, page 360, not AC360, but page 360 of their report.

But why bother with the facts when those facts are not on your side. Facts like a federal judge today ordering the State Department to release Ukraine records within 30 days.

Facts like one of Rudy Giuliani's indicted associates today actually tying the case to the president himself with his claim that some of the evidence could be subject to executive privilege.

So, if it doesn't go back to the president, then why is it executive privilege? Interesting, huh? Therefore, tying the case to the president. None of this is going the president's way, which is why his strategy seems to be resorting to theatrics and insults.

[22:10:03]

Here's your daily tweet, one of them at least. The president tweeting that Republicans who fail to support him are -- his words -- today, the word -- yesterday the word was -- what was it? Lynching? Today the phrase, I should say, "human scum." Republicans who don't support him, human scum.

The vice president echoing the president's claim that the State Department is caught up in the swamp.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHAEL PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: But there's no question that when President Trump said we were going to drain the swamp, that an awful lot of the swamp has been caught up in the State Department bureaucracy, and we're just going to keep fighting it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Yes. This is, I mean, come on. It's just not. Just keep fighting this. Remember when then-candidate Trump said this?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody, and I wouldn't lose any voters, OK?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Well, now, get this. One of his attorneys seemed to be taking that seriously, arguing in a lawsuit over New York's subpoena for Trump's tax returns that the president couldn't be criminally prosecuted even if he did shoot someone on Fifth Avenue.

(BEGIN VOICE CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's your view on the Fifth Avenue example? Local authorities couldn't investigate? They couldn't do anything about it?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think once a president is removed from office, any local authority -- this is not a permanent immunity.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I'm talking about while in office.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's the hypo. Nothing could be done? That's your position?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That is correct. That is correct.

(END VOICE CLIP)

LEMON: Think about that. Wouldn't that make the president -- I don't know -- above the law?

Much more on this tonight in the show. You want to stay tuned. So, with all of this, is it any surprise that some Republicans are said to be fed up and tired of being asked to defend this president? Sources telling CNN that some are asking, quote, "how do you defend

the indefensible?" So, the president attacks his own party, ignores the facts, and contradicts members of his own administration.

Today on the Middle East, handing Turkey's president a big gift today by lifting sanctions and claiming that ordering U.S. troops out of Syria, troops that were protecting our ISIS-fighting allies, the Kurds, claiming that that was a big victory.

Ambassador James Jeffrey, the president's special envoy to Syria, taking his place with the diplomats telling Congress exactly what the president doesn't want to hear.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JIM JEFFREY, U.S. SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE TO SYRIA: We obviously had troops there for a mission. The mission was defeating ISIS. So, if you remove those troops before that mission is complete, then you have a problem. And we do have a problem right now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Listen to what the president says about ISIS prisoners, though.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: There were a few that got out, a small number relatively speaking, and they've been largely recaptured.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Not what the ambassador says.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JEFFREY: We would say that the number is now over 100. We do not know where they are.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: The president ignoring inconvenient facts. But will it work for him this time? Will his base just see it as a campaign promise kept? And speaking of ignoring the facts, I want you to listen to this from the president today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: And we're building a wall on the border of New Mexico. And we're building a wall in Colorado.

(APPLAUSE)

TRUMP: We're building a beautiful wall, a big one that really works, that you can't get over, you can't get under.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Colorado? He's building a wall in Colorado. I probably don't have to tell you that Colorado is not on the border. Colorado is not on the border with Mexico, but I can't wait to see that wall. Who's going to pay for that one? Boy. It's on the border with New Mexico. Maybe New Mexico is going to pay for the wall. Who's going to pay for the wall?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: New Mexico.

LEMON: New Mexico. So, Mexico, New Mexico, not the same thing. Congressman Denny Heck was in that secure room when Republicans stormed in today. He's here today, and -- he's going to -- he's here tonight, I should say, and he's here next. We're going to talk to him.

[22:15:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Closed door testimony from the Pentagon's Ukraine expert Laura Cooper sidetracked for five hours when a group of Republicans barged into a secure deposition room demonstrating against the impeachment investigation.

Some members carried cell phones, a breach of security guidelines. A source tells CNN that President Trump had advance knowledge of the plan.

Joining me now, Congressman Denny Heck, who was in the room when his Republican colleagues broke into -- broke into it to disrupt that hearing. Congressman, good evening to you.

Also just learning there's reporting that some of the members asked to be arrested because they wanted that optics. What do you think of this what happened today, this going into the SCIF, this five-hour wait and on and on?

REP. DENNY HECK (D-WA): Well, as I was sitting there observing the spectacle, I was reminded of that old cliche that you were taught your first year in law school. If you have your facts -- if you have facts on your side, tell them the facts. If you have the law on your side, pound the law. If you have neither, pound the table.

[22:19:57]

And basically, that's what they were doing was pounding the table, changing the subject, one of the four basic plays of the administration and his acolytes have because the testimony to date, and especially, for example, the opening statement of Ambassador Taylor was so unbelievably damning, they really needed to change the subject.

LEMON: What was --

HECK: You know, I have to add, I got to give them bonus points for the rank hypocrisy of it all. When you consider that we were operating under the rules, that in that part they adopted when they were in the majority.

And in fact, when Trey Gowdy was the chair of the oversight committee and he held depositions on the Benghazi, he threw Darrell Issa, a fellow Republican, out of the deposition because under the House rules of deposition, members that are not of the committee are not allowed to be in the room.

And, Don, let us remember this. This is a collaborative effort between three committees, the intelligence committee, the foreign affairs committee, and the oversight and the foreign committee. In total, that's 122 members of the House who have a right to be in that room.

LEMON: So, then what -- OK. Here's what they said, all right? You mentioned Benghazi. I just want -- before I get to that, let me just ask you what was it -- and we'll get into the details. What was it like being in that because you were in there, right?

HECK: Stunning and discouraging mostly because they did bring their electronics in.

LEMON: OK.

HECK: That's something that we take very seriously. It's a --

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: Are you going to do anything about that?

HECK: I don't know.

LEMON: OK.

HECK: Look, our nation's deepest secrets are contained within the walls of that bunker, and the fact of the matter is the members of the intelligence committee are taught first and foremost you cannot bring your electronics in here because -- and then they demonstrate to you all the ways in which your phone can be turned against you and used as a recording device and used as a device to collect other information. It is --

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: So then why the desperate tactics, then? What is with this --

(CROSSTALK)

HECK: To change the subject.

LEMON: OK.

HECK: Change the subject.

LEMON: OK. So, here's what --

(CROSSTALK) HECK: They don't want us talking -- Don, they don't want you and I talking about all the things that Ambassador Taylor said in his opening statement about how it is that the president did, in fact, pressure the President Zelensky to engage in this activity, which was patently black-letter law, illegal.

LEMON: OK. Let me get to this because you mentioned Benghazi, and I mentioned on their record, page 360, it says the committee's preference is for private interviews over public hearings. It has been questioned interviews are more efficient and effective means of discovery. Interviews allows witnesses to be questioned.

And it goes on, and it just says, both witnesses and members of Congress conduct themselves differently in interviews than when in the public glare of a hearing. And then it goes on to talk about neither have an incentive to play to the cameras. So that's what they said. So, then what's different now?

HECK: So, the way that we're undertaking this, as has been indicated in public, is that our staff attorneys for both sides are leading the questions. These are professional investigators and attorneys. Members are allowed at some point to ask questions. And of course, we do.

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: Let me make this clear. There are Republicans in -- who are on the committee who are in the room. They have equal time to ask questions.

HECK: They have 50 percent of the time even though they do not constitute 50 percent of the membership of those three committees.

LEMON: OK. But from the optics, you would think that this is only being conducted by Democrats.

HECK: Well, patently untrue.

LEMON: OK.

HECK: They're in the room, and they have been from day one, and they have had equal time from day one. And they have engaged in the questioning of the witnesses.

LEMON: Let's talk about what Laura Cooper did -- did say when she was finally able to testify and it lasted for three and a half hours. In her role as deputy assistant secretary of defense, she oversaw much of the roughly $391 million aid which the administration held up.

Now I know you can't tell us specifics, but did you get clarity on whether or not the Pentagon knew about the White House pressuring Ukraine?

HECK: Of course, I'm not going to comment on the specifics of that. That's why it's a deposition in closed session, Don. But I will say what I've said before, which is every single witness that has come before us has added to our increased clarity. Again, back to the 35-millimeter camera example or metaphor I used

with you last week. Yes, the picture is clearer today than it was when we got up this morning.

LEMON: Did your colleague, Congressman Mark Meadows, said that Laura Cooper's testimony conflicted with Ambassador Taylor's. Is that true? Would you agree with that statement, I should say?

HECK: I am not going to characterize the specifics of any of that.

LEMON: OK.

HECK: But I would say as a general observation, that the testimony of all the witnesses basically lines up.

LEMON: Thank you, Congressman. Appreciate your time.

HECK: You're more than welcome, sir.

LEMON: The president says he didn't pressure Ukraine's president, but CNN is learning that Ukraine didn't see it that way, and the pressure started earlier than we knew.

[22:25:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: This is new tonight. Before he was even sworn in as president of Ukraine, the new leader and his team were already feeling pressure from the Trump administration and Trump's personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, to launch public investigations into corruption.

That included looking at the company that had Joe Biden's son on its board despite no evidence of wrongdoing by Biden.

So, joining me now, impeachment attorney Ross Garber, also Kim Wehle, author of "How to Read the Constitution and Why." And then we have Max Boot as well. Max is the author of "The Corrosion of Conservatism: Why I Left the Right."

Good evening one and all. Thank you so much.

So, Kim, CNN is now learning that Ukraine's president and his advisers discussed the pressure that they were feeling from Trump even before Zelensky officially took long.

[22:30:05]

There was a months-long pressure campaign with one goal in mind.

KIM WEHLE, FORMER ASSISTANCE U.S. ATTORNEY: Sure, one goal in mind. It looks like, from what we know publicly, the looks like, from what we know publicly, the goal was twofold actually. One was to get the Ukrainians to start a criminal investigation or continue a criminal investigation into American citizens that happened to be the political rivals of President Trump and then also to look into this question of the DNC's relationship with the 2016 attacks on the election.

So, as a practical matter factually, a lot of the key elements that would be important in making a particular case regarding whether it's a quid pro quo or abuse of power, which is really the standard for our impeachment as Ross can talk about, are public, and so the question is what, if anything, will the Republicans in Congress do about it in this moment.

LEMON: I just want to read this, Ross. This is for you, OK? It's from CNN's reporting. The source said that even in those early weeks, Zelensky and his team realized Ukraine's relationship with the U.S, including a potential face to face meeting with Trump, could be at stake if they did not support the continuation of investigations like Burisma. Quid pro quo?

ROSS GARBER, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: So, it certainly sounds like that. I spent a lot of time reading Ambassador Taylor's opening statement today, and he certainly alleges a quid pro quo. And that is all very troubling. And also troubling is the question of why. Why is this happening? You know, there's a this for that.

You know, Taylor and others have made so far a pretty compelling case that the reason is for political purposes, but I still think we have a while to go in this. And I'm waiting for the White House to actually explain their version of what happened and perhaps some witnesses to explain some version -- other version of what happened, but right now, based on what we know, the allegations are very troubling.

LEMON: Well, I mean, Max's -- you know, that was audible. I saw Kim's face when he said, you're waiting for the White House. Your reaction was audible. Why do you think the White House is not going to respond? Do they don't have a response?

MAX BOOT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Well, the White House has a response. It's basically to engage in name calling. I mean, they're calling Bill Taylor their own ambassador to Ukraine, a West Point graduate, a veteran of Vietnam. They're calling him a dangerous, left- wing radical. Never Trumper.

(CROSSTALK)

Yes, he was appointed by Bush. So there is no argument that Trump can possibly make to defend his indefensible conduct. He has been caught dead to rights trying to use U.S. military aid to extort a foreign country into interfering in the U.S. Election. That is impeachable conduct and Trump has no defense because we know that because, he keeps have a different story every single day. And most of it is just name calling.

LEMON: Did he say, he didn't pressure Zelensky, but everything that is coming out is showing that doesn't appear to be true.

BOOT: Well, we know he did. I mean, we saw it in the transcript of the phone call that he had with Zelensky. Now we're seeing it in the testimony. LEMON: Is there a different transcript that Republicans who are

defending the president -- are there two different transcripts, because the one that most people, you know, objective people read.

BOOT: Right.

LEMON: Shows that the president -- it actually says, I need you to do me a favor, though.

BOOT: Yes, I would like you to do us a favor, though.

LEMON: That is what a quid pro quo is.

BOOT: And it lines up with the testimony of Bill Taylor, Fiona Hill, all the other witnesses very, very consistent showing that, yes, Trump was demanding a quid pro quo. And you know what, Republicans are not even really defending Trump anymore. They're not saying that what he did was right. They're not saying he didn't do what he was alleged to do. They're just trying to change the topic and talk about, oh, it's all in secret or procedure or whatever. They can't argue on the merits to defend Trump. They just can't do it, Don.

LEMON: Yes. Even now, you know, the before -- I don't know if they'll keep saying it is that, well, you know Zelensky is saying that they didn't feel pressure. That is not what the new reporting is saying.

BOOT: No, the Ukrainians are feeling the pressure. Of course Zelensky has to be cautious about saying that because he still needs American aid. He still needs Trump to give him military aid.

LEMON: Kim, let's talk about this federal judge ordering the State Department to produce Ukraine-related documents in the next 30 days. And it includes communication between Pompeo and Giuliani. What could we learn from this?

WEHLE: Well, that case was filed by private actors under the freedom of information act, and under the freedom of information act, there are exemptions. That is, the government can say if this is national security material, we are not turning it over. If it's a deliberative privilege of the president, we are not turning it over. If it involves law enforcement information, certain categories, we are not turning it over.

So the fact that this judge is saying there is information that needs to be turned over notwithstanding those exemptions suggests that this information is open to disclosure and that Congress has access to it as well.

[22:35:02]

I would argue that Congress' prerogative under the constitution to gather information necessary for impeachment and for lesser, really, for legislation, is superior to a private Party's ability under a statute to get this information from the department of state. So we're seeing not only career officials in the State Department and other parts of the government saying enough is enough, putting themselves on the line, apolitical professionals saying, I'm going to tell my story notwithstanding the implications for me.

But we're also seeing the federal courts draw the line around the rule of law and basically putting up a stop sign to the administration's unabashed position that the president has virtually unlimited power to violate laws and norms. And that is inconsistent, as I explain in the book, with any conception of the founding document that we -- that really limits government.

That is the point is to limit government's ability to act arbitrarily against individual people. So this moment, as federal judges understand, it's not a political or a partisan one. It's one about the integrity of our system of government.

LEMON: Ross, I see you want to get in. Stand by. Because I want to get you in the other side of the break, so, stay with me. We've got a lot more to talk about. And we have to talk about the chaos on Capitol Hill today and why the president is calling out some people in his own party. He's calling them human scum.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[22:40:00]

LEMON: Chaos on Capitol Hill today as the impeachment inquiry heats up. Back with me, Ross Garber, Kim Wehle, Max Boot. Max, I just want to get your reaction to some of the theatrics we saw today, the stunt that House Republicans did, storming into the secure hearing room. And this is the reporting that we're getting tonight.

This is what Fox News is reporting. There was-- it says that -- Fox's report is that some members asked to be arrested. There was never any threat of arrest, but a source said some members asked to be arrested, citing the optics of being marched out of a skiff in handcuffs in front of throngs of reporters and news cameras, that would have surely supported a running GOP narrative that Democrats have run amok with the impeachment process.

BOOT: Lock them up, Don, right? I mean what can you say? They're losing the argument, and therefore they're losing their cool. I mean you have to kind of admire the irony of these Republicans who are complaining about supposed lack of due process, and they're engaging in lawless mob action.

And they're basically confirming the wisdom of the House leadership in doing these depositions behind closed doors so that it doesn't devolve into this kind of clown show on TV every single day, which is clearly what they want. And, again, just to underline and stress the point, the reason they're doing this is they can't defend Trump on the merits.

He has misused his authority. He has committed high crimes and misdemeanors. He has corrupted the office. He has misbehaved worse than any previous president in our history, and they can't defend all that.

And so they're basically like putting on clown noses and waving their arms and trying to become a TV spectacle to distract attention. We've got to keep our eye on the ball, Don. We've got to keep our eye on this impeachable conduct that we know that Trump has committed.

LEMON: Ross, listen, a source says the president had advance knowledge of this and that, you know, he wanted Republicans to get tougher. I think everyone is all for transparency. You know, listen, careful what you ask for because if everyone -- if the testimony is like Taylor's and they want to be in there and they want it public, seeing that, his testimony publicly, I don't know how that would help Republicans, but still -- I don't know. What do you think?

GARBER: Don, so, you make a good -- look, I'm not much of a stunt guy myself, but the point the Republicans are trying to make actually has some validity. I think what they're really going for is after Congress authorized the impeachment inquiry in the Nixon situation, the president's lawyers were actually entitled to go to every hearing and to cross-examine witnesses.

Same thing with Clinton. And so they make a point about process. They also make a point about transparency. If we're going to impeach a president, the public and all the members should know what's going on, but what we haven't heard yet -- and I think we're going to hear soon -- is what the speaker plans in terms of public hearings.

I'd be very surprised if this process goes off without testimony in public, but I think that is one of the things that Republican members were trying to get ahead of and make that point.

BOOT: Keep in mind that the cases against Nixon and Clinton were developed behind closed doors by special counsels. You don't have that here. That is why these closed-door depositions are appropriate.

LEMON: Go ahead, Kim.

WEHLE: I was going to say the same thing.

LEMON: OK.

WEHLE: Having been, you know -- participated in the Whitewater investigation, I mean that went on for multiple years. It was very detailed, combing through grand jury testimony, documents, and that was handed in a binder, a large one, I participated -- I wrote a part of that on perjury and obstruction of justice actually. That was handed to Congress, and that kind of careful fact-gathering, best practices are to do that in a measured, thoughtful way.

Criminal defendants who are potential targets of a grand jury investigation that are indicted could end up in prison or even executed, don't get the kind of process that this president in this moment has demanded. And to be clear, I think people on both sides of the political spectrum are afraid right now.

Republicans, people that support Trump are afraid of what's going to happen. People that are not happy with this president and believe that he should be impeached are in fear. And I think grace under pressure, acting like measured, thoughtful, good lawyers is what all Americans need right now, not the kind of theatrics and dangerous really when it comes to national security activity that our elected politicians exhibited today.

[22:45:00]

LEMON: Did you want to say something, Ross, before I move on?

GARBER: Yes, just very quickly. As Kim and Max know, in Nixon, there actually were robust fact-finding hearings that Congress did, both the Senate and the House. And with respect to the House hearings, the president's lawyers actually did go to the hearings. As Kim knows --

LEMON: Republicans are in, and they can -- they have equal time to ask questions. They're on the Intel Committee.

(CROSSTALK)

GARBER: Yeah. I think what the Republicans are saying --

BOOT: -- whole public hearings later on, after they've done --

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: Listen, I want to get this question in just real quickly here, because, the president is calling his top diplomat to Ukraine, Bill Taylor, who testified yesterday, and we saw his letter, his opening letter, a quote, never-Trumper. I need to point out that Taylor was hand-picked by Pompeo. I mean what is going on here? Is he feeling the heat here, Max? Why is he saying that this is a never-Trumper and he is like, you know, a Republican handpicked by -- worked for George Bush? What's up?

BOOT: He's just desperate. I mean, he also referred to never Trumpers as human scum, the kind of verbiage you normally hear from dictators, but I would quote to you Don, a wonderful tweet sent out today by the writer (inaudible), who said I think very aptly that the worse you are treated by Trump, the better you are going to be treated by history. And I think Bill Taylor will be treated by history very, very well.

LEMON: Thank you all, I appreciate your time. CNN's new poll has some good news for Joe Biden. He is leading the Democratic field by a big margin nationally, but there's more in this poll. We're going to dig into the rest of the findings. That is next.

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[22:50:00]

LEMON: So there's a new CNN poll that has a very good news in it for Joe Biden. The former vice president, his lead has rebounded and now he stands at 34 percent. Elizabeth Warren is at 19 percent. Bernie Sanders at 16. So let's make sure we get everyone in there, because we want to look up on the screen, if your candidate's there, that is where they are in the polls. OK?

So we just mentioned the top three. Double digits. So, let's talk about what this means for -- with former New Orleans mayor. My home boy, Mitch Landrieu. How are you doing? How are you doing, baby?

MITCH LANDRIEU, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: How are you doing? What do you got? How's your mom?

LEMON: How your mama?

LANDRIEU: Say hello to mom while we are here.

LEMON: Hey, mom. You say hello. You know, what my mom says, we'll get to that and she goes, why doesn't he get his butt in the race?

LANDRIEU: People who are in the race are in the race. The next president is in the race already.

LEMON: Let's talk about this.

LANDRIEU: Or in the White House, one of the two.

LEMON: It shows that Biden's lead is now at his widest margin since April. He entered the race as the frontrunner, he's maintaining that position.

LANDRIEU: Well, I think, you know, again, when you back up and look at over the past six months, the vice president has taken incoming from President Trump every day. He is taken incoming from all of the other candidates. And this is a very strong poll. There is no way to interpret it any other way than that he's doing pretty well.

LEMON: It's amazing, I always says that he has a similar effect on people or a similar quality as Trump. You know, he can say something that people don't agree with or people think is a gaffe or whatever and it doesn't seem to help because only 15 percent thought that he did the best job at the debate, but his supporters don't seem to care.

LANDRIEU: You know, look, I think, a lot of people who are political junkies like you and I like the debates and we focus on them.

LEMON: I agree.

LANDRIEU: But if we are going hire the best debater, we would be hiring a high school senior, who wins the national debate championship. If we were hiring the best planner, you would hire the best professor, but we are asking somebody to be the president of the United States.

LEMON: OK. So, I have been saying this, this is not just Joe Biden, but every (inaudible), just for years since I have been doing this and watching debates. The best debater not necessarily the best -- the people don't run a presidency in 15, 20, 30-second minute sound bites.

LANDRIEU: Well, if you think about it, we think back to the Kennedy/Nixon debates, you know, which were transformative because TV was a new technology, but if you think about all the other elections, it was clear that Hillary Clinton beat Donald Trump pretty badly in all the debates and she winds up losing the election, although she won the popular vote. Essentially though after the debate's over all these candidates have

to go out and about and they perform differently than on that stage because it's a very weird space to be when you're debating. It's hard, it's unnatural and the public, quite frankly doesn't pay attention to three hours of it. So, I'm not sure there is determinative this people think they are.

LEMON: I can't even get to a commercial break with, like, seven, eight-minute segments.

LANDRIEU: You know, three hours is a long time.

LEMON: But I can just imagine like having -- I mean, it's tough. It's tough being a moderator. And it's tough being like, your 30 seconds are up. Thank you candidate.

LANDRIEU: You think it's harder being a moderator than being a candidate?

LEMON: No. it's hard to be a candidate. It's hard to be on the debate stage.

LANDRIEU: Yes.

LEMON: So, listen, Biden holds a very small lead on the issue concerning health care and I want to really talk to you about that. 31 percent Biden, 28 percent Sanders, 17 percent Warren. He surged 13 points on this critical issues since June. People are worried about their health insurance being taken away and, number two, how some of these things that people consider pie in the sky, how are they going to pay for it.

LANDRIEU: Well, there are a couple things going on. First of all the mantra is to beat Donald Trump. That is everybody's mission and any one of these candidates that are on the top frame are going to be better than Donald Trump is without getting out of bed in the morning, to be honest with you, but as the Democrats are now fighting, they are sending kind a dual messages.

And this is what the problem that I think Senator Warren is having. If our point is to give people health care, because we think it's a right, not a privilege, how do you intend to give it to them if in fact you are going to take it away from 130 million Americans?

LEMON: How can -- why don't you just say -- were just going to extend -- make Obamacare stronger and move on?

LANDRIEU: Well, I think that two people, that actually three of the candidates in the race are actually speaking of that. Vice President Biden is talking about it, Amy Klobuchar, Pete Buttigieg and of course, a couple of other folks.

LEMON: I got 10 seconds. I think this race is going to be decided between the supported among moderates and conservative Democrats. Am I wrong? Because 43 percent support him now up from 29 percent in the September poll. [22:55:10]

LANDRIEU: Well, you have to get your base to the polls, but the swing voters are the ones who are going to have to make this election a plus or a negative, whoever whatever candidate gets there. See you later.

LEMON: Always a pleasure.

LANDRIEU: Good night.

LEMON: Thank you.

(LAUGHTER)

New Orleans right there, baby.

LANDRIEU: Where you at?

LEMON: Everything's heating up in Washington. Whose fed up and who's being called human scum. That is next.

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