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Trump Slams GOP Critics As "Human Scum" Amid Growing Criticism from Republicans Related to Ukraine Probe; New CNN Poll Shows Biden in the Lead As Buttigieg Tries to Seize Post-Debate Momentum; Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) Discuss Laura Cooper's Deposition Amidst Republicans Storm Deposition Which Caused Delay. Aired on 7-8p ET

Aired October 23, 2019 - 19:30   ET


ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next, mayhem, Republican storming an impeachment deposition with Trump's blessing, delaying the witness for hours. One person in the room calling it civil unrest. Is that the new White House strategy? Plus, breaking news, a source telling CNN Ukraine's President felt the pressure to investigate Biden before he was even sworn in. And Joe Biden with a big lead in new polls tonight. Let's go out front.

And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett. OUTFRONT tonight, chaos, the impeachment investigation descending into a circus after roughly two dozen of Trump's closest allies forced their way into the secure hearing room where Deputy Assistant Defense Secretary Laura Cooper was about to testify in the Ukraine impeachment hearings.

This is video as the Republican stunt was about to take place. Sources telling CNN that President Trump knew about this, knew that it was going to go down and the lawmakers walked in there and we understand it was - well, sources tell us they were screaming in each other's faces adding, "It was the closest I've seen around here to mass civil unrest as a member of Congress."

Well, this type of behavior is not something we see in the United States. No. It is what sometimes we see in other countries that don't have the strong institutions that we have here. Countries like Ukraine, which is at the center of the impeachment investigation, yelling, fingers in people's faces, stuff like to scoff or laugh at.

Well, that seems to be what this impeachment investigation is coming down to now that the President's own top diplomat in Ukraine, Bill Taylor, detailed a quid pro quo. Telling lawmakers he was told Trump would withhold crucial military aid to Ukraine until the country announced an investigation into Biden and the 2016 election.

Testimony so damaging that Trump is resorting to smear tweeting, "Never Trumper Republican John Ballinger, represents Never Trumper Diplomat Bill Taylor (who I don't know), in testimony before Congress!"

Now, one thing to say loud and clear on the back of that tweet is that whatever Taylor's politics may or may not be, he was handpicked for his job by Trump Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. He has served in government for 30 years under all presidents beginning with Ronald Reagan. He first was appointed Ambassador by George W. Bush. So to slam him as a partisan liar because he speaks the truth as he knows it is just wrong.

And another thing, Trump is now slamming the investigation is unfair. Here's that part, "Do Nothing Democrats allow Republicans Zero Representation, Zero due process, and Zero Transparency. Does anybody think this is fair?"

Well, if he's going to put that out to his 10s of millions of followers, it's also important to say loudly and clearly that that is exactly how the impeachment process works. It is not a court of law and by the way, there is Republican representation in those hearings. Everyone republican on the committee can be there and ask questions, same with the Democrats. They have equal time to question witnesses.

So if that is unfair, OK, if, well, it was certainly quite fair when Republicans were in charge, flashback to 2015, Trey Gowdy, remember him? Former chairman who was investigating Benghazi. Well, he said, "Non-committee members are not allowed in the room during the deposition. Those are the rules and we have to follow them, no exceptions made."

He was right then, they are right now. No exceptions. And tonight, as the future of Trump's presidency is at stake, Trump is now slamming Republicans, hitting them really hard because he thinks they are not protecting him.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They don't have a Mitt Romney in their midst. They don't have the Mitt Momneys of the world. They stick together better than the Republicans. We got to stick together. We got to stick together.


BURNETT: Manu Raju is out front live on Capitol Hill. Manu, what are you learning about what Cooper said when that deposition as actually got started many hours later due to the forecast? What did she say?

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. After five hours delay, she ultimately did testify behind closed doors for about 3.5 hours which is much shorter than other witnesses. But we have learned from people who attended this deposition that she gave a very detailed and technical readout about how foreign aid has been dispersed, how it typically happened.

And lawmakers came away with the impression that how the Ukraine aid was dealt with and how it was stalled deviated from that normal process. Now, this, of course, comes in the aftermath of that riveting testimony from yesterday in which the top diplomat in Ukraine Bill Taylor raised serious concerns that the Ukraine aid had been stalled. And he said he later learned that the President had instructed the aid to be stalled until Ukrainians announce those investigations into the Bidens and the 2016 campaign. So today when republicans came and stormed the committee proceedings,

Democrats contended this is an effort to distract away from that headline that was generated throughout the day, in that closed door deposition that was about to take place in the morning.


I'm told that a Republican Congressman Bradley Bryne got in the face of Adam Schiff's, yelled at him, as did Louis Gohmert, another Republican screaming about the process where there was some Democratic pushback, one from Val Demings of Florida who attacked Republicans saying that to teach and serve as this kind of role model for their children and it went for some time as Republicans refused to leave the room.

Ultimately, after five hours they did and even so some Republicans brought their electronics into the secure area, which is not allowed. Some Republican said they didn't know the procedures. But nevertheless, Adam Schiff came out afterwards and he was asked if he was concerned if the facility, if the secure facility had been compromised in any way and he said yes he is concerned. He did not elaborate in any way, but he contended this is all an effort to scare other witnesses, intimidate other witnesses to not come forward in this impeachment probe, something the Republicans denied, Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Manu, thank you very much. I want to go now to someone who is inside that room today when Republicans stormed and was also there when the Deputy Assistant Defense Secretary Laura Cooper was actually able to give her deposition finally after five hours, Democratic Congressman Eric Swalwell joins me now, sits on the House Intelligence and judiciary Committees.

I appreciate your time. OK. So I want to start first with the news here in the actual investigation after the five hours. You finally did get to hear from Laura Cooper. She stayed. She gave her testimony. You were able to depose her. Did you learn anything new, Congressman?

REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D-CA): Good evening, Erin. Yes, we did and I can characterize it this way, all of the arrows continue to point in one direction which is that this shakedown scheme from the very top, ordered by the President was well underway this summer. We have not seen a arrow pointing in any other direction.

But I do want to thank Ms. Cooper and I know my colleagues do as well for enduring this chaotic scene today and still sticking around. She had a lawyer that was paid out of her pocket who she probably didn't expect to have to be there for five extra hours. But she is a good public nonpartisan civil servant who courageously waited around and provided truthful testimony.

BURNETT: All right. So you heard Manu talking about how she explained how the technical process of how military aid would be dispersed and was able to lay out how in this case it deviated from the norm. How important was her testimony to your case for impeachment, her testimony specifically? SWALWELL: Yes. What I can say, Erin, is that we know that the

President wanted from the Ukrainians two things, for them to investigate the 2016 election and essentially exonerate Russia and to investigate his upcoming 2020 opponent and Vice President Biden. And if they did that, they get a White House meeting and they would get the security assistance that they desperately needed.

Ms. Cooper was a part of the decision making process and was a witness to what others were doing around the security assistance. I will just say this, we have plenty of evidence and you saw in the statement that was put in The Washington Post yesterday from Ambassador Taylor that the assistance was tied to the President's demands for investigations and Ms. Cooper was a relevant witness today in that regard.

BURNETT: All right. Obviously, which could be significant, now I want to get to the five hours of time that was wasted today. You were inside that secure room when Republicans stormed in and held the deposition up for hours. How would you describe it? We understand the reporting is that we have there was people yelling in faces, there was screaming, is that accurate?

SWALWELL: I saw in these desperate times for the president and his defenders in Congress, they took desperate distractionary measures. But it didn't work, we heard from the witness. I think it was unfortunate.

I just sat down, the witness was sitting across from me in the table. You had about 50 members of Congress already in the room ready for this hearing and then I saw the witness abruptly get up and leave. And then in comes all of these members who are not on the committee, they've got their electronics out. They're shouting, they're screaming.

And this woman, she works for the federal government just keeps her head down, wants to do our job, is defying orders from the White House to not participate and this is what she's subjected to. But we're not going to let it deter us. We move forward.

The chairman is determined to get this done fairly, but also swiftly and they can continue the high jinks, but they're just delaying the inevitable, which is this President is going to be held accountable.

BURNETT: So did they do anything illegal? Is there going to be any disciplinary action? I mean, they've violated a classified setting, they violated the rules, is there any repercussion for that?

SWALWELL: Erin, I'll leave it to the Speaker and the Chairman to decide that. But if their goal today was to obstruct and delay the proceedings, it didn't worked.


Clearly, this was sanctioned by the President who met with many of them yesterday and told them to go and fight harder. But I also look at this, Erin, as this is just an overall consciousness of guilt. This is what guilty people do. The President tells them to fight harder, because he has a guilty conscience.

He's confessed. Mick Mulvaney has co-signed that confession. They don't want to be a part of the process. And what was interesting today, I'll just say this, the people who stuck around for hours in that room and held that room, they were in that room longer than the overwhelming majority of members on the Republican side who are supposed to be in that room during these hearings, because they show up, they complain about the process and then they bounced. They don't want to hear this overwhelming evidence.

BURNETT: They don't stay in there and listen?


BURNETT: Are there any Republicans that stay in and listen for all of this?

SWALWELL: Yes, there are and I want to be fair to those. But the overwhelming majority of those who come in, leave.

BURNETT: All right. And just one other question, the ones who stay, are they asking questions, putting in the time and the thought and the effort? Are you getting that feeling from your Republican colleagues on the committee who are allowed to be in there and who do get the same time you get to ask questions?

SWALWELL: I'm seeing these cockamamie conspiratorial questions that believe that Ukraine was involved in the 2016 election interference rather than Russia. I would like to see more people and I really credit Francis Rooney, a Republican who is asking the right questions publicly on TV about what he's seen.

I'd like to see people like him who are visibly concerned by what's going on. I'd like to see them have an opportunity to ask fair questions of these witnesses.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Congressman Swalwell.

SWALWELL: My pleasure.

BURNETT: I appreciate your time.

SWALWELL: Thanks, Erin.

BURNETT: And next, we have breaking news. It undercuts a key part of Trump's defense. Sources say Ukraine's president was feeling pressured to investigate Biden before he was even sworn in. Plus, one top Republican telling CNN he did not like what he heard after damning impeachment testimony. So what are other Republicans saying tonight? And President Trump contradicting one of his top officials in charge of fighting ISIS when it comes to the fighters who have escaped as a result of U.S. troops leaving Syria.



not know where they are.




BURNETT: Breaking news, Ukrainian President Zelensky and his team felt they were being pressured by the Trump administration two weeks before Zelensky was even being sworn in. A source telling CNN the pressure was from both the Trump administration and from Trump's own personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani. And the pressure was to launch public investigation into corruption cases, including into the company Joe Biden's son, Hunter, was sitting on the Board of, Burisma.

Now, this reporting contradicts both Trump and Zelensky who have denied that there was pressure. Renee Marsh is out front. So Rene, what else are your sources telling you? Obviously, this is extremely significant. This is before he's even President of Ukraine, he's made aware that there is pressure from Trump for an investigation into Biden.

RENE MARSH, CNN GOVERNMENT REGULATION CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Erin, and as the source describes it to CNN, Zelensky felt this pressure so much so that this meeting was convened. And people within this meeting spent some three hours talking about essentially how to handle the President and his personal attorney's push for investigations into corruption, including Burisma.

The source said that even those early weeks, Zelensky and his team, they realized that Ukraine's relationship with the U.S. and a potential face-to-face with President Trump could be at stake if they didn't essentially support the continuation of investigations into corruption and again specifically Burisma.

Now, Zelensky, we should point out, he wanted to know just how to handle this pressure and that was the purpose of this meeting and why it went on so long, because he wanted advice essentially on how to navigate both the President's demands as well as Rudy Giuliani's demands. Again, the President spoke for the first time with him when he won on April 21.

And again, we know that the readout of that call was that they mentioned, the President mentioned rooting out corruption. And as my source puts it, everyone knew at that point what corruption was synonymous with, Erin.

BURNETT: Right. The corruption codeword for Biden in the 2016 election. OK. Thank you very much, Rene. Obviously, look, another significant development they all have, of course, supported the exact same set of facts, which is this quid pro quo.

Out front now David Axelrod, who was a Senior Advisor to President Obama and is the host of THE AXE FILES on CNN, former federal prosecutor Laura Coates, John Dean who was White House Counsel for President Nixon and CNN Senior Political Reporter Nia Malika Henderson.

John, let me start with you. So this new reporting Rene is saying that there was the Ukrainian president then incoming was so concerned about pressure from the Trump administration and Rudy Giuliani to investigate Biden. And they understood what corruption investigation was shorthand for that he calls this meeting. What does this tell you?

JOHN DEAN, FORMER NIXON WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL: Well, it confirms my instinct when Trump repeated in that personal meeting at the UN between Zelensky and Trump and he said he wasn't pushed and Trump made the point said he wasn't pressured. That to me sort of signaled that he had been pressured. That's what Trump does.

He sort of signals his activities, he repeats the words and now we're getting the reporting. So this is really not totally surprising but very important.


DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes. This is kind of a torpedo to one of their main argument here in the this is kind of a torpedo to the to one of their main arguments here in the last 24 hours in reaction to Ambassador Taylor's testimony.


The argument has been, well, it really can't be a quid pro quo unless the Ukrainians knew that this funding was being held up if they knew. And what's very clear is they knew for a long time what the President wanted, they were aware as we've seen in other reporting that this aid was being held up. And it doesn't take a genius to put all of these pieces together.

They were being pressured and this aid was being used as leverage, and there really isn't a good answer to this for the President, which is why we see the kind of activities that we saw today.

BURNETT: And it's interesting because Laura, John points out that the President kept saying, oh, I didn't pressure, and he's the one who brought that up, originally, perhaps signaling. He did it, I counted three times, we found one of them. Here he is.


TRUMP: There was no pressure put on him. This is a scam. This is one of the greatest scams ...


BURNETT: Obviously, Laura, this reporting shows that just factually was untrue.

LAURA COATES, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: And also remember, Bill Taylor's own testimony, his opening statement yesterday suggests that they were trying to put words and feed words, and dialogs, and sound bites in to the mouth of President Zelensky in the event he were to go on camera and support exactly this corruption and talk about the investigation.

And so you do see a pattern here. But remember, it's not about whether it was a successful high crime or misdemeanor or a successful action or that there was a complete meeting of the minds. In fact, the impeachment process is very different, of course. They would be in a criminal court where you'd have to be prove beyond reasonable doubt. It's about this subjective intention of the person who's doing it.

And if you endeavor to solicit this sort of activity, if you endeavor to do so, that actually constitute that abuse of power. There's no requirement. You have to have the precise language of here's a quid pro quo and now we have a meeting of the minds. And Erin, the reason that he felt pressured is because he was in fact being pressured for the leverage we already spoke about.

BURNETT: And you bring up the whole point about high crimes and misdemeanors, what the President says he can and can't do abuse of power. I mean Nia, the bottom line for the President, politically here, is I think what David said. It doesn't take a genius, OK? All of the facts are saying the same thing and it's very clear. So the question is how long can people who want to keep their heads in the sand, keep their heads in the sand.

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: Yes. That's the big question. House Republicans are one thing and we saw what they did today with storming those behind closed doors depositions. But you are hearing different things from the Senate. Mitch McConnell was asked if he had said to the President that the phone call was perfectly fine and he said no, he hadn't talked to the President and certainly didn't say that the phone call was fine.

You see other folks like John Thune essentially saying that listen the Bill Taylor testimony wasn't good for this president. We've singled out, obviously, somebody like Mitt Romney who's been very vocal on this. But, listen, I think from the Senators so far, the GOP senators, there hasn't been on a fuse of defense of this president. The process is going on, obviously, House Republicans are doing what they're doing.

But I think if you're the President, you are worried and that's why he is taking to Twitter really I think displaying of this fear of whether or not these folks on the Senate side Republicans are really going to have his back throughout this whole thing.

BURNETT: And look, David, abuse of power in an impeachment proceeding, it's an art, OK? It's a decision. And it's something you have to know. Now, as Laura points out, abuse of power is crucial here.

Last night, the former Acting Attorney General for President Trump, Matt Whitaker - well, I just want to let you hear how he defended it, OK? Here he is.


MATT WHITAKER, FORMER ACTING ATTORNEY GENERAL: I'm a former prosecutor and what I know is this is a perfect time for preliminary hearing, where you would say show us your evidence. What evidence of a crime you have? I mean, the Constitution - sort of abuse of power is not a crime. Let's fundamentally blew it down. The Constitution is very clear that this has to be some pretty egregious behavior.



BURNETT: So his defense is abuse of power is not a ...

AXELROD: Abuse of power is not a crime.

BURNETT: ... in other words, OK, abuse of power, but what's your problem.

AXELROD: Yes. That may be why he's not the Attorney General anymore. I don't know, he's not a very effective defender of the President. But look I think what you're seeing is a President's strategy and he exhorted these congressional members to become more combative is to try and partisanized this debate to the point where it is impossible for Republicans to stray from him.

He was hitting the never Trump Republicans today very hard in his Twitter account. He wants to lock Republicans in and keep them from straying regardless of the facts.


BURNETT: And you know what's interesting, John, is like on this issue of abuse of power, OK, so Whitaker's defense is well abuse of power isn't a crime. In other words accepting the predicate that had occurred and I don't say this to be funny, but it makes you think about all of the times Trump has basically said the law would not apply to him. For example, when he said he could shoot somebody and get away with it, remember this?


DENNY CHIN, CIRCUIT JUDGE OF THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS: What's your view on the Fifth Avenue example? Local authorities couldn't investigate, they couldn't do anything about it?

WILLIAM CONSOVOY, PRESIDENT TRUMP ATTORNEY: I think once a president is removed from office, any local authority - this is not a permanent immunity.

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


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

CONSOVOY: That is correct.


BURNETT: So that's one of the President's attorneys, taking that point when he made I could walk down Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody in a very serious way, saying actually he could and he would be immune.

DEAN: Not true. It's a policy. It's a policy decision by the Department of Justice. It was originally written because they wanted to prosecute Spiro Agnew who was claiming he could only be impeached. That's when they issued the opinion saying, "No, Mr. Vice President, you can be indicted. It's the president who can't be indicted." That's where that all came.

And then in 2000 it was repeated as good policy, but not law. It's never been tested in court.

BURNETT: All right. All of you please stay with me. Next, the President is now calling members of his own party human scum, yes, that's his quote. And you're going to hear what Republicans are saying, because you know what, somebody just spoke out about it. And Joe Biden with a 10-point jump in a new poll, why?



ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: New tonight, President Trump slamming Republicans willing to speak out against him claiming they are, quote, human scum. Not only tweeting it, but pinning his tweet at the top of his Twitter page.

The Never Trumper Republicans, though on respirators with not many left, are in certain ways worse and more dangerous for our country than the do-nothing Democrats. Watch out for them. They are human scum.

The tweet coming just hours after the second most powerful Republican in the Senate, John Thune, said this about the testimony of top U.S. diplomat to Ukraine, Bill Taylor.

I quote John Thune. The picture coming out of it based on the reporting that we've seen, I would say is not a good one.

Everyone is back with me.

Nia, Senator Thune is the number two Republican in the Senate. He can keep his mouth quiet on this, but he chose to say what he chose to say. How significant is it that he said it publicly?

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: You know, it's significant. If you're the president you are watching this unfold on TV, right? And he looks at TV and he doesn't see any of the major folks in the Senate coming out and offer anything full-throated defense of him, right? So that is worrisome to this president because he's got to keep all of those folks in line.

Listen, it's one thing to be able to keep folks that come to his rally in line, right? And be able to come up with an applause line that suits those folks.

But listen, Mitch McConnell matters. John Thune matters. Mitt Romney matters, Lisa Murkowski, a lot of these folks, you know, who you're looking at to see what their response is so far. A lot of them haven't necessarily said anything public. Mitt Romney, of course, has and Lisa Murkowski wasn't too pleased with what Mick Mulvaney said last week, essentially saying there was a quid pro quo.

So, listen, the president is nervous and afraid. Is he going to be able to keep the red wall in the Senate together or are there going to be cracks which could spell a tough situation for him?

BURNETT: So, David, Senator Thune is now questioning the president on Ukraine. I think it's safe to shorthand it that way, because he said what he said publicly, OK?


BURNETT: And as Nia mentioned, the Majority Leader Mitch McConnell refused to -- the president said, oh, Mitch McConnell called me and said my call with Ukraine was perfect, Mitch McConnell said I don't know what he's talking about. Go ask him. Doesn't back it.

And last hour on CNN, Republican Congressman Adam Kinzinger came on and he took the president on about this calling Republicans human scum. Here's what he said.


REP. ADAM KINZINGER (R-IL): I mean, it's a call anybody human scum is beneath the office of the presidency, right? You have different standards and it's not because I think the Democrats have never committed any verbal sins or I haven't ever committed a verbal sin. But once you're the president of the United States, your words have a massive impact.


AXELROD: Yes. Well, he's certainly right. We're saying things on TV we've never imagined --

BURNETT: Yes, I mean, I sort of watched that dumbfounded.

AXELROD: Actually that really does matter in terms of the coarsening of our politics and our country, but leaving that aside, let me just offer you a reality check. CNN had a poll the other day. Donald Trump had a 90 percent approval rating among Republicans.

If there is a trial in the Senate, Republican members of the Senate will have to stand up in a public forum and say they're voting to remove the president of the United States. We are a long way from here to there because Mitch McConnell is up for re-election this year in Kentucky and I, you know, I'd like to believe that they'll judge the evidence and make the decisions they think are best for the country, but the reality of politics is they're going to be --

BURNETT: It's going to be hard to do.

AXELROD: Yes, because the Republican Party is in his throng and what he's trying to do is send a strong message that I'm coming right after you if you don't stand with me.

BURNETT: Right. We can say, oh, what is it? 26 percent, 27 percent of the country self-identify Republican and it is those Republicans who put those senators into their seats.


I mean, John Dean, you've seen an impeachment show before. You hear the caution coming from David, but is this how it starts? A party that will turn on its president?

JOHN DEAN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: It happens very slowly and never totally. With Nixon, only until he released his smoking gun tape in an essence confessed he'd obstructed justice did the last of the Republican Party that was objecting to that move over and support that after he'd left.

Some Republicans never left his side. The other two articles never voted for them. So --

BURNETT: It was enough. It was enough to get the outcome.

DEAN: They also got defeated, too, and it resulted in a turnover of Republicans.

AXELROD: You need 20 Republicans to vote to remove the president of the United States. There are a lot of bricks in that red wall that Nia referred to before and it's going to take a lot for those bricks to fall.

BURNETT: So, Laura, on that point as the president accuses Republicans that call out his Ukraine actions of being human scum, he again contrasts them with Democrats which apparently are less scum. Here he is.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You know, they're vicious and they stick together, but they're lousy politicians. They stick together and they don't have a Mitt Romney in their midst.


BURNETT: I mean, Laura, obviously, that's sort of what he tweeted yesterday. They're vicious, but they stick together and calling out Mitt Romney specifically. He's doubling down on this and slamming Republicans. He thinks he can get them in line through fear. LAURA COATES, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I think he's doing that because, of

course, it helps him in his quest on a political way in terms of an impeachment not a criminal proceeding and a political calculation and a political decision to say, listen, they are not, the Democrats in the House are not acting out of conscience or out of a constitutional directive to check abuses of power or separation of powers. They're acting on a partisan line.

As long as they can have a mob mentality essentially and be considered what they're doing, then he is furthering his own narrative and there are objective ways of saying that he has, in fact, done what he has said he did. And Mick Mulvaney is one person who is well and he actually did his thing and is he part of the human scum to say he admitted and retract it later on.

And the notion of being human scum if you are simply trying to follow what the founding fathers have said is your duty to investigate a potential abuse of power in this fashion, he's essentially saying all who follow the Constitution are not only not patriotic and not doing their duty but somehow they should be vilified and that contradicted his platform to be a law and order president, right?

BURNETT: It would certainly seem like that. On that note, thank you all.

Next, President Trump is taking credit for solving, he says, of course, the crisis he created.


TRUMP: We've done something that's very, very special.


BURNETT: Plus, Pete Buttigieg goes on the attack, but is he worried he'll alienate his supporters?


PETE BUTTIGIEG (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I believe in kindness, but sometimes need to make sure no one confuses kindness for weakness.




BURNETT: Today is the chaos as the impeachment inquiry was unfolding on Capitol Hill, President Trump took credit for pulling troops out of Syria, credit, addressing one of the major concerns which is that ISIS fighters in Syria have escaped from prisons and camps where they were being held. So here's what the president says.


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


BURNETT: OK. So you heard him, right? They've been largely recaptured and there were only a few who got out.

Unfortunately, it's not true. His own special envoy for Syria and the global coalition to defeat ISIS an hour before the president said that said the exact opposite thing about the escaped ISIS fighters.


AMBASSADOR JAMES JEFFREY, U.S. SPECIAL ENVOY FOR SYRIA & GLOBAL COALITION TO DEFEAT ISIS: We would say that the number is now over a hundred. We do not know where they are.


BURNETT: So, who do you believe, the president, relatively few and they've been largely recaptured or the guy in charge it's been largely 100 and we don't know where they are?

OUTFRONT now, Bob Baer, who spent more than a decade as a CIA operative in and around Syria.

I just say, you know, this is just of those moments. I'm pretty stunned, Bob, to hear this is just ridiculous. It's completely the opposite thing. Does the president not know the truth? Did he just lie?

ROBERT BAER, FORMER CIA OPERATIVE: Oh, Erin, I think he's long ago left the fact-based world. I mean, I don't know what happens to somebody his age, but -- by the way, I know Jim Jeffrey and the man's brilliant and he doesn't make things up and if he says a hundred are gone of probably high-value ISIS members, he's right.

And that's not to mention pulling our troops out. We don't know where the rest are. The Kurds at this point are so did I dispirited, we've been fighting them for four or five years. Lost tens of thousands of people and you just picked up and left, you know.

Anything can happen. This situation is so fluid it's impossible to predict where it's going to go.

BURNETT: So the president, you know, he just says what he wants people to believe, right? So ever since the cease-fire deal was announced, Bob, he says that it's a wonderful thing and it's a huge victory and here's just a couple of the times.


TRUMP: We've done something that's very, very special.

We have a lot of good things going over there and they're going very well.

It's an incredible outcome. We've gotten everything we could have ever dreamed of. It's really a great day for civilization.


BURNETT: I mean, OK. So then here is again, the ambassador James Jeffrey. Here is what he had to say about the troop pullout.


JEFFREY: 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.


BURNETT: OK. So he says the mission wasn't complete and we have a problem. The president of the United States said we got everything we could have dreamed of and it's a great day for civilization. It's an incredible outcome. It's very, very special.

BAER: Well, Erin, this is the worst sort of gaslighting from the Oval Office. First of all, we gave away part of an Arab country to Turkey and effectively Iran and Russia. We left our tail between our legs. We gave up our bases. The Kurds go from allies to throwing potatoes at our troops and that's not to mention demoralizing the American military.

We've had guys there and girls dying in the last couple of years for this objective and to abandon the Kurds like this is an act of betrayal, that's never occurred in my memory and probably most people's memory.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Bob Baer.

Next, Joe Biden, he has just had a very big boost in two new polls, why? What is behind that jump?

And Republicans storming that closed-door meeting today. They took a moment to order Domino's.



BURNETT: Tonight, Joe Biden with a big lead.

A new CNN poll shows Biden leading the Democratic primary race by the biggest margin since April. So he dropped and now surging topping with 34 percent followed by Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders. It's a 10-point jump on the back of last month.

A big part of his boost comes from conservative and moderate Democrats, the group that South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg who tied for fourth in our poll is desperately trying to make inroads with, to show himself as the alternative to Biden.

Vanessa Yurkevich is OUTFRONT.



VANESSA YURKEVICH, CNN POLITICS REPORTER (voice-over): Mayor Pete Buttigieg in the Nevada desert riding high after the last debate.

BUTTIGIEG: Were you able to catch the debate last week by any chance?



Did I do OK?


YURKEVICH: Buttigieg striking a more aggressive tone on the heels of last week's CNN/"New York Times" debate.

BUTTIGIEG: I think it's helped us reach the next level.

YURKEVICH: Where he called out Elizabeth Warren over how she would pay for her Medicare-for-All plan.

BUTTIGIEG: We heard it tonight, a yes or no question that didn't get a yes or no answer. Your signature, Senator, is to have a plan for everything, except this

YURKEVICH: After raking in a million dollars in the 24 hours following the debate, adding to his sizable war chest, Buttigieg is doubling down on the campaign trail, including here in Las Vegas.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Will taxes go up with your Medicare-for-All who want it, yes or no?

BUTTIGIEG: Good question because not everybody has been answering this question.

YURKEVICH: Butting is seeking to draw contrast was his more progressive rivals, touting his vision for health care, Medicare for All who want it as a less disruptive approach.

BUTTIGIEG: It's a very important difference between me and Senator Warren and some of the others. And we will continue making sure we have made that clear.

YURKEVICH: Yet despite his strong debate performance, a new CNN poll shows Buttigieg holding steady at 6 percent, well behind Joe Biden, Warren and Bernie Sanders. Of those who say they watch the debate, 21 percent said Buttigieg did the best, trailing only Warren.

Nevada voter Shelly Elmer is one of them. SHELLY ELMER, NEVADA VOTER: I'm a supporter. I'm here, all in for


YURKEVICH (on camera): When did you decide that?

ELMER: The last debate.

YURKEVICH: And what was it about the last debate that sold you?

ELMER: He was tough in a nice, respectful manner.

YURKEVICH (voice-over): But Matt DeFalco, a fellow veteran, felt the mayor's tone debating gun control with Beto O'Rourke was too combative.

BUTTIGIEG: I don't need lessons from you on courage, political or personal.

MATTHEW DEFALCO, NEVADA VOTER: It wasn't bold to me. It just felt unproductive when he's approaching as well, when he talked about, you know, you don't have to judge my character. We know Mayor Pete is and got a ton of respect for him. But that didn't feel right either.

YURKEVICH (on camera): Are you concerned that this new tone is going to alienate some potential voters?

BUTTIGIEG: Well, as we have seen, the debates really helped grow support for the campaign. And it's still me but sometimes you have to point out differences. I believe in kindness but sometimes need to make sure nobody confuses kindness for weakness.


YURKEVICH: This new more aggressive approach is something the mayor says he plans to continue on the campaign trail in order to differentiate himself from the other candidates.

Now from here in Nevada, he is heading to two more early voting states, New Hampshire and South Carolina where he'll continue to push his Medicare for All plan who want it, and then from there, he's going to be continuing this message trying to capitalize on momentum from this debate -- Erin.

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

And next, don't forget the pepperoni. We try to find a humorous side to things sometimes, when, you know, they storm the closed door deposition and violate all the classified rules and all that scene, they took the time to order Domino's.



BURNETT: Here is Jeanne.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): While accusing Democrats of --

REP. MATT GAETZ (R-FL): Weird theatrical performances.

MOOS: -- the Republicans put on one of their own, storming the secure room used for impeachment proceedings and then ordering pizza.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I understand that they brought pizza and Chick- Fil-A.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Steve Scalise ordered pizza for the press.

MOOS: The news trickled out mostly in tweets. The Republicans occupying the SCIF ordered pizza for themselves and the press.

Side note they sent us Domino's and got themselves, We the Pizza, arguably the best in D.C.

Major ethical dilemma facing hungry reporters right now, read one media tweet, prompting the reply, Domino's is not ethical dilemma, it's like $5.99.

Did the press flock to it like New York City pigeons. Let's see who touches it.

Well, someone touched it we're not sure who.

This is woman is all of us right now. Y'all, I have become a meme. I'm dead.

Actually she is the press secretary for one of the Republican occupiers. A departing Democrat described the scene inside the SCIF.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A bunch of Freedom Caucus members having pizza around a conference table pretending to be brave.

MOOS: The politicizing of pizza even included impeachment jokes. Republican Mark Meadows walked out and said, off the record, in pizza is for you. There is no quid pro quo. You can eat it.

Instead of angry Republicans demanding a more open impeachment process.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Show your face!

MOOS: Stuff your face was the order of the day.

Jeanne Moos, CNN --


MOOS: -- New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE) BURNETT: Anderson starts now.