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Rep. Lieu (D-CA) Is Interviewed About The Events That's Unfolding Relating To The House Impeachment Inquiry; White House Official To Back Up Bill Taylor's Testimony; Sen. Lindsey Graham Wants To Block The Impeachment Inquiry; Lindsey Graham Says Mick Mulvaney Acknowledged White House Needs Help With Impeachment Messaging; Polls: 47 Percent Of Americans Think Democratic Party Moved Too Far Left. Aired 10-11p ET
Aired October 24, 2019 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: Be on the lookout for censorship.
Thank you for watching. "CNN TONIGHT" with the man, D. Lemon starts right now.
DON LEMON, CNN HOST: So, the White House will be less informed than they already are. They'll be ill-informed. Because they won't know what's going on in the world. Except for in their own little alternative reality? Is that what you're telling me?
CUOMO: They only have a source of one, my brother.
LEMON: And that's it.
CUOMO: Look at Stephanie Grisham today. Yes, if you oppose this president and you're in his party, yes, you deserve to be talked up like that. Called scum? That's where we are? Your own party? Sad.
LEMON: You know how much subscriptions are. I mean, because remember that the trip that he took and he stayed at Doonbeg and it was like 900 euros for a coffee because of the weather, inclement weather. I mean, that would pay for the subscription, wouldn't it?
CUOMO: You're saying it's about cost savings?
LEMON: Well, that's what they said. That's their excuse.
CUOMO: Are you considering the source? You of all people. That's what they said. Well, then.
LEMON: It's about cost saving. Can you imagine being in a place where you didn't want reality, that you were so averse to reality that you didn't even want it seeping in, you can't even look at a newspaper?
I mean, imagine -- imagine what it takes to have to do that, to get the entire operation around you to go to a place where you don't have to see anything negative. Not even just negative. But any sort of constructive criticism about what you're doing. That's a bad, bad place.
CUOMO: Right. Except I don't think the place is as big as you suggest.
CUOMO: I think what we know about this president is he has very few people around him. He relies on very few people if any at all and he has not gotten the entire environment to be on the same page.
That's why we're getting the testimony we've been given. I don't even know that we would have had this six or eight months ago. I think that a consistent malignancy of behavior has actually militated against his favor with these men that have come forward so far. And women. It's too much for you? You want to take some time?
LEMON: No. I'm just thinking how much he loves cable news. So, I mean, they're watching it there.
CUOMO: It's all about him. Of course, he likes it.
LEMON: Christopher Cuomo. Thank you --
CUOMO: That's my name.
CUOMO: That's right.
LEMON: All right.
CUOMO: Have a good night, Don.
LEMON: See -- see you later.
This is CNN TONIGHT. I'm Don Lemon.
We have some breaking news to tell you about. I'm trying to gather all the information here. Stalling a little bit with Chris because we have so much going on.
But we have breaking news on a lot of things including the impeachment inquiry. And this is big, everyone.
Sources telling CNN a top White House official is expected to back up Bill Taylor's bombshell testimony that the president was pressing the Ukraine to publicly announce investigations into the Bidens before he would unfreeze military assistance.
Well, his name is Tim Morrison. Tim Morrison is a Russia expert on the national security council who was mentioned 15 times in Taylor's opening statement. Well, he's set to testify next week.
And here's the thing. He listened to that infamous Ukraine call. So, he is a firsthand witness. Republicans are reportedly worried that his testimony will be fueled -- will fuel, I should say, the impeachment push.
We're going to have much more on that to come. Again, a lot of information still developing tonight.
All this is happening as Democrats are starting to have conversations about potential articles of impeachment and what shape those articles of impeachment might take. The big question for the Dems, just how broad those articles should be.
The talks are in the early stages tonight as witness interviews continue behind closed doors. And in the face of the explosive testimony that we've heard just over the past few weeks, Republicans in Congress have taken over the defense of the president over fears that the White House isn't up to the job.
Here's their strategy. Their strategy is trying to discredit witnesses and distract from their testimony. Senator Lindsey Graham, this president's number one defender, introducing a resolution today condemning the House impeachment inquiry. Which frankly is just another attempt to distract from the substance of what we're learning.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): They've created a process in the intel committee that's behind closed doors, doesn't provide access to the president's accuser, shuts Republicans out for all practical purposes, and is a unworthy substitute for the way you need to do it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: The hypocrisy here. I say that because, you know, Lindsey Graham wasn't always against depositions behind closed doors.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GRAHAM: I think it's a very smart thing to do, is to depose these people and find out what they've got to say and not drag this thing out unnecessarily.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: There's videotape for everything. It seems Graham and a lot of Republicans are only upset about closed-door depositions when it's a Republican president being investigated.
But you know what they say. Be careful what you wish for, right? I had a -- listen, do Republicans really want total transparency here? Think about that. Do they really want public hearings?
If they did, they wouldn't be relying on stunts like storming the deposition yesterday on Capitol Hill. They always say don't fall for the OK-doke, right? That wasn't about transparency. After all -- let me tell you why. After all, there are 47 Republicans on the three committees conducting the impeachment inquiry. Forty-seven on the committees.
All of them have access to the closed-door depositions. Eleven of them chose to protest for the cameras rather than go in there and do their jobs. They could have been asking questions. They could have been learning about what the witness said. Instead, they decided to take part in a stunt.
So why are Republicans in full-on stunt mode? Is the question. Well, the facts. The evidence. They tell a story that they don't want you to hear. So it's a shiny object over here. There's a shiny object over there. Because they don't want you to hear the substance, the facts, the evidence.
A senior Republican source telling CNN that Bill Taylor's explosive opening statement this week is, quote, "reverberating in the GOP," saying it points to quid pro quo. It sure does.
And I quote. "Ambassador Sondland told me that President Trump had told him that he wants President Zelensky to state publicly that Ukraine will investigate Burisma and alleged Ukrainian interference in the 2016 U.S. election."
And there's this. "Ambassador Sondland said, everything was dependent on such an announcement including security assistance. He said that President Trump wanted President Zelensky in a public box by making a public statement about ordering such investigations."
There's your quid pro quo right there. You think the president's defenders, you think they really want that in a public hearing on live TV? Imagine. Or is that just the best argument they've got right now? OK.
How about this? Another quote. They, that is, "Fiona Hill and Ambassador Vindman, told me that Ambassador Sondland had connected investigations with an Oval Office meeting for President Zelensky, which so irritated Ambassador Bolton that he abruptly ended the meeting."
Going on to say, "He also directed Dr. Hill to brief the lawyers. Dr. Hill said that Ambassador Bolton referred to this as a drug deal after the July 10th meeting."
So, the connection between investigations and an Oval Office meeting for Ukraine's president was so clear to John Bolton he referred to it as a drug deal. John Bolton. John Bolton. Is John Bolton now part of the deep state? Because if he is, then I don't know what world we're living in. A drug deal?
Do the president's defenders want that in a public hearing? They'll probably get it. And there's so much more.
Bill Taylor also testifying that Ukraine's president was told if he didn't publicly open investigations into the Bidens in 2016 election interference they would be at, quote, "a stalemate."
Another quote here. "Ambassador Sondland said that he had talked to President Zelensky and Mr. Yermak and told them that although this was not a quid pro quo if President Zelensky did not clear things up in public we would be at a stalemate. I understand a stalemate to mean that Ukraine would not receive the much-needed military assistance."
There's Fiona Hill's testimony that John Bolton told her to tip off the White House lawyers about potentially illegal activity in Ukraine by Rudy Giuliani and others. And on and on and on.
If the president's defenders really want all of that out in the open, they're about to get their wish. Careful what you wish for.
Democrats are planning public hearings. Possibly as soon as mid- November. And Bill Taylor could very well be on the list to testify in open session. And no stunt is going to distract from that.
So, in the face of all this you would think that the president might want to take his mind off his troubles, right? Maybe by going to the American pastime, baseball game, World Series game maybe.
(BEGIN VOICE CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're going to the World Series, Mr. President?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, you are going to the World Series?
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: On Sunday.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you going to throw out the first pitch?
TRUMP: I don't know. They've got to dress me up in a lot of heavy armor. I'll look too heavy.
(END VOICE CLIP)
LEMON: Come on. We can't all be Simone Biles.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's your first pitch and then some. From Simone Biles.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Come on. I'm sure the president could do that, huh? One hand tied behind his back. Remember when he got that physical from his doctor that says he's in the best shape of anybody ever.
But presidents have been throwing out the first pitch for years. They don't usually make it about themselves. It's about an American pastime. It's tradition. The president says he'll go to game five on Sunday if the Nationals and the Astros are still playing. And he might face a mixed reaction from the crowd.
But if he doesn't throw out the first pitch, he'd be the only president since William Howard Taft to skip it. I'll leave it there for a minute because that was Barack Obama throwing out the pitch. You know how he feels about Barack Obama. You'll let him do it, Mr. President, you're not going to do it? OK. We shall see.
We have breaking news tonight. A top White House official expected to back up Bill Taylor's bombshell testimony that the president was pressing for Ukraine to publicly announce investigations into the Bidens before he would release military assistance.
Congressman Ted Lieu is here to weigh in. He's live in studio with me, next.
LEMON: CNN learning tonight that a current White House official is expected to back up key elements of that explosive testimony from Bill Taylor, the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine. Tim Morrison is his name. He's a Russia and Europe adviser on the national security council set to testify next week. He was named 15 times in Taylor's opening statement.
So, joining me now is Democratic Congressman Ted Lieu, a member of the foreign affairs committee. I'm so glad that you're here. Thank you, Congressman. I really appreciate it.
REP. TED LIEU (D-CA): Thank you, Don.
LEMON: This is very significant because not only is Morrison expected to corroborate Taylor's testimony, he also listened to that July 25th phone call. What do you want to know from him?
LIEU: Thank you, Don, for your question. Let me first say that impeachment is one of the greatest powers of Congress, second only to the power to declare war. It must always be our last option, reserved for these rare instances where we can't wait until the next election.
We might be at one of those instances now. Bill Taylor's testimony was devastating to the president. We expect Morrison to corroborate parts of it. And Bill Taylor essentially laid out a quid pro quo between the Trump administration and the president with the Ukrainian leader.
LEMON: The caveat you said was pretty ominous, pretty serious. So, do you think that you have enough evidence to impeach the president now?
LIEU: A lot of damning evidence already came out. That call record, we don't need Morrison to tell us what was on it because we have it. The White House actually released a summarized transcript and literally right after the Ukrainian leader asked about military aid Donald Trump says I have a favor to ask of you, though.
And he lists two favors. Investigate the DNC, investigate the Bidens. We have text messages from Volker that show that's what U.S. diplomats understood. We have Bill Taylor's opening statement that walks it through in excruciating detail. This is all very damning for the president.
LEMON: So, then the question people at home vague then, what are you waiting on?
LIEU: I'm a former prosecutor. You want to make sure that as long as witness are coming in and giving you important information, you keep interviewing them, we're going to have public hearings likely in November.
LEMON: So, we hear from -- we -- Bill Taylor's opening statement was released, right? And we're hearing from some folks that, well, this is very damaging. Obviously, what he said was very damaging.
And then you get Republicans who come on the air or in the press conference or a briefing or what have you and say, well, Bill Taylor was completely undercut by the Republicans who questioned him and that this is, you know, this is hearsay and what have you. What do you say to them?
LIEU: Those Republicans are not telling the truth. I was there for his testimony. It was riveting. Bill Taylor is an American hero. He served in Vietnam with the 101st Airborne. He's a graduate of West Point. You cannot impeach his character in any way. And his evidence was absolutely devastating to the president of the United States.
LEMON: What was the reaction to Republicans who were in that meeting?
LIEU: Not good. You could tell that they were troubled by what he was saying.
LEMON: Republicans have been saying -- have been questioning the process. Why do you have -- why are you doing this behind closed doors? Why are you interviewing witnesses without Republicans in the room? Republicans are in fact in the room. And they have had equal time to question as well, right?
LEMON: So then why not have this open to the public? Why not have this open to other Republicans?
LIEU: Having prosecuted a lot of cases myself, I know that when the defense doesn't have the facts or the law, they attack the process. And in this case, that's what Republicans have. They don't have the facts on their side or the law on their side.
And their process arguments are quite silly. We're at the investigative stage of this. You would never interview a witness in front of a TV camera in public. That would be crazy.
What you do is you do these witness interviews behind closed doors. If there's enough to go forward, then you make it public. There's enough to go forward. So, we're going to make all this public. Likely in November.
LEMON: Likely in November. Got it. OK. A source is telling CNN tonight the Justice Department review into the origins of the Russia investigation is now itself a criminal investigation. What do you make of this?
LIEU: Special counsel Mueller indicted 34 individuals and companies. At least eight have been convicted or pled guilty. He found that Russia systematically and sweepingly interfered in our U.S. elections.
What Bill Barr is now trying to do is essentially tell the American people none of that should have happened. It is deeply troubling what Bill Barr is doing. And so, we'll see what this results in.
I do know the American people have moved so far beyond whether or not Carter Page was a Russian asset. The American people are focused on this Ukrainian scandal that is very devastating to their president.
LEMON: Why are you troubled by what Bill Barr is doing? You think he's acting as a partisan and attorney for the president rather than attorney general for the United States?
LIEU: Absolutely. His memo before the special counsel's report was released is incredibly misleading. When history looks back on it, you'll know that he misled the American people.
And then different actions Barr has taken he seems like he's acting as the president's own lawyer rather than as attorney general for the United States.
LEMON: Before I let you go one more question. What did you think of storming the SCIF yesterday?
LIEU: I thought that was a stunt because Republicans are trying to change the narrative. It is no coincidence that they did that the day after Ambassador Bill Taylor's devastating testimony about the President of the United States.
I also note that of the Republicans that stormed the SCIF about a third of them already could be in the SCIF and they in fact are there doing these witness interviews, asking questions.
When these transcripts get released, Republicans are going to look really stupid because right in the transcripts you've got Republican staff, Republican members asking questions of these witnesses.
LEMON: Thank you, Congressman Lieu. I appreciate your time.
LIEU: Thank you, Don.
LEMON: As the impeachment process barrels ahead, what could the impending battle look like? My next two guests had central roles in the Nixon and Clinton impeachment proceedings and they have a pretty good idea of what could be coming. Next.
LEMON: The impeachment inquiry is heating up in the wake of bombshell testimony from top diplomat Bill Taylor this week. CNN learning tonight that Tim Morrison, who is on Trump's national
security council, is expected to back up Taylor's testimony that the president was pressing for Ukraine to publicly announce investigations into the Bidens before he would unfreeze military assistance.
That as Democrats say they could begin public hearings as soon as mid- November.
Joining me now, two people who know how all of this works, right? It's John Dean, he's a former Nixon White House counsel. And Guy Smith is a former Clinton impeachment adviser. Good evening, gentlemen. I appreciate it.
We have so much to get to. But, John, I want to start with you. I want to get your response to this breaking news about Attorney General William Barr's probe into the intelligence and the origins of the 2016 Trump Russia investigation.
It is now a criminal investigation. It is, however, a development that was expected to allow -- because it allows Durham to subpoena testimony. But this focus on relitigating what happened in 2016 in the election, isn't that what sort of got the administration in trouble in the first place?
JOHN DEAN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: It is. And that's a conspiracy theory that it started any way other than has been laid out by the Senate in a bipartisan committee report, by the special prosecutor already, and it's just -- Don, it really is outrageous that they're doing this and they're not investigating Ukraine. That's the anomaly.
LEMON: Yes. Is it, to you, by turning this into a criminal investigation, Guy, I have to ask you, does this raise concerns that the president is using the DOJ for his own personal gain?
GUY SMITH, FORMER CLINTON IMPEACHMENT ADVISER: Absolutely. And has been since Barr got there. Maybe even before when that fellow Whitaker was there but who surfaced again the other day.
But Barr, his -- the first way he reacted to the Mueller report and then kept it secret for three weeks, lying about it, here we go again. I mean, yes, he is absolutely using the Department of Justice and I think that there are people in the Department of Justice like we're seeing in the State Department who are going to start coming forward.
LEMON: Do you think that --
SMITH: I think that -- that's what I'm hearing.
LEMON: You mean like people who are -- you mean like --
SMITH: The whistleblower and like the ambassador yesterday testifying and the other folks. LEMON: But that's --
SMITH: Because of exactly what you're talking about, where it is the Justice Department, it has a reputation that has been sterling. I mean, a lot -- there were some of the issues when John was in, and they've corrected that, and here we are again.
LEMON: Yes. Well, that's not our reporting but that's what you're hearing.
LEMON: That's what your sources are saying to you.
LEMON: Let's talk impeachment, shall we? Because Republicans have started saying that no one with -- you know, they've been saying no one with firsthand knowledge had anything to do with these impeachment -- this inquiry.
And we're hearing people who have second and thirdhand knowledge. But when you listen to what Bill Taylor said, he mentions this Tim Morrison, this White House official, 15 times in his testimony.
Morrison was on that July phone call. Does that completely just undermine their defense? Does that defense crumble that it's secondhand information?
DEAN: It's a little hazy whether claiming it's a hearsay -- I watched several reporting today where they held the mic in Lindsey Graham's face and he said, immediately it's hearsay. Well, they were talking about Taylor's notes at that point.
DEAN: Actually, those are admissible, Don. That is not hearsay. And I'm surprised Lindsey called it hearsay. What they don't have is direct conversations, right? At this point with the president. Now, Morrison does have those, because he was on the phone.
We don't think there's a taping system. So -- and also there's a question of even if a tape that is transcribed is not hearsay, but there are all kinds of exceptions -- there are more exceptions to the hearsay rule and it's admitted in more instances in court every day than there are instances where it's blocked.
LEMON: And they're saying that his opening statements, which at least they said was a leak, it's not a leak, and his opening statement is pretty damning. But this Morrison thing guy, this will be the first time we heard from someone who is actually on the call. How big is that? Does this change things?
GUY SMITH, FORMER CLINTON IMPEACHMENT ADVISER: It reinforces everything that we've heard. You start with the whistleblower, which is a map to everything and it has unfolded exactly as it was written out in the whistleblower complaint. And Morrison will now corroborate what we know because the White House actually released the transcript of the call. This will reinforce that.
And on the hearsay thing, that is just the word of the day. Go to look at the tape of Senator Thune from yesterday, then today. He says the word hearsay and then instantly corrects himself.
SMITH: Because he knows that it isn't hearsay. If you watch that tape very carefully, the one yesterday and then the one today, he says the word and then he corrects himself. And this is just -- it shows how disorganized the whole thing is.
LEMON: So, I've got a question because Democrats are saying -- you know, they're now talking about what the scope, right, of the impeachment investigation and articles of impeachment and which route they're going to take. Some of the members want them to just focus on Ukraine. Others are saying no, let's broaden it to other misdeeds of this president. Which route should they take? First to you, John.
DEAN: Well, Ted and I, who you just had on as my Congressman, we were discussing that in the green room. And I happen to be of the school, and I think most lawyers are to very narrowly focus it and actually go for the Senate vote.
LEMON: Because then you muddy the waters.
DEAN: You muddy the water. You can't vote -- when you vote on impeachment articles, you vote on the article as a whole, not the elements of the article. That gives somebody an excuse if you too broadly do it, one, to vote down an article, but two, to object to an article based on one of the clauses in the article.
LEMON: What do you say, Guy?
SMITH: That this is a political assessment here of that. I think there need to be enough articles of that some Senators can vote against something and still vote because it just takes one article for a conviction. So, if you, while the Democrats construct the articles, again you think, obviously you need to think about the facts, and there are so many facts.
There could be 25 articles, but I think that what needs to happen is there needs to be a couple that some Senator from Nebraska or Iowa or whatever, from a super red state, can go home and say, well, I voted against this article but. And we're starting already to see cracks in the Senate Republicans.
LEMON: I've got to run, though. And I said in my opening statement, careful what you ask for. Do you think Republicans really want this to be testimony like Bill Taylor or Tim Morrison in public? No?
DEAN: Not really. SMITH: But it's coming.
LEMON: Yeah. Thank you, gentlemen. I appreciate it. The president thanking House Republicans for standing by him today, but behind the scenes GOP sources are telling CNN that they're quote, fed up and tired. Should he be worried about keeping their support?
LEMON: President Trump's acting Chief of Staff, Mick Mulvaney, admitting to Senator Lindsey Graham today that the White House needs help with their messaging. Let's discuss now. Frank Bruni is here, Ana Navarro, Joe Lockhart. Thank you so much for joining me here. To what do I owe the honor? Everybody's in the studio. Did Ana convince you all to come in?
JOE LOCKHART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: She did.
LEMON: All right.
ANA NAVARRO, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: We're going for impeachment drinks afterwards. Peach schnapps.
LEMON: OK. Frank, I'm going to start with you. According to CNN sources, Bill Taylor's testimony, the top U.S. Diplomat in Ukraine, continues to reverberate on Capitol Hill. A Republican source saying, and I quote here, how do you defend the indefensible? We can't defend the substance. All we can do is talk about process.
Another congressional source saying, the testimony by Taylor was devastating, and we are waiting for the next shoe to drop. A third source flat out admitting Taylor's testimony points to quid pro quo. And our reporting is that other officials are set to corroborate it next week. What do you think?
FRANK BRUNI, CNN CONTRIBUTOR, NEW YORK TIMES OP-ED COLUMNIST: I don't think this is surprising at all. I mean, Republicans over the last 2.5 years -- House Republicans, Congressional Republicans, have shown themselves not to have a whole lot of integrity, but they're not done. And Bill Taylor's testimony was devastating. It was devastating in its specificity, in its sweep. I mean, all of that.
And so that is why you see them pulling stunts like going into the hearing room yesterday and tying everything up for five hours, because there's no way to attack the substance of what's going on. Right? So they're arguing about process. They're arguing about bringing it out into the open.
All the sorts of theatrical things are what they're focusing on because they know that the actual goods, the substance here, the sort of stuff that Bill Taylor testified about, that is going very, very badly. And so they're worried. [22:40:05]
LEMON: So the equivalent of when you don't have substance you flip the table, the equivalent of that is storm the SCIF.
BRUNI: Yes, you cause a lot of noise, throw a lot of sand in the air, but here's the thing though, they're looking at the opinion polls. So they're worried about what Taylor testified about. They're worried about all the other names that have come into play. What's going to happen in coming weeks?
But I'm not going to -- I wouldn't look for them to publicly defy the president until the opinion polls move a little further. Because what this is all about for them is political survival.
LEMON: If you look at the public polling, the Quinnipiac shows 55 percent approve of the inquiry, so --
BRUNI: Right. It's getting close to a point where they might have to.
LEMON: Ana, Republicans are trying to formulate a strategy, and today, you know, Senator Lindsey Graham announcing this resolution condemning the impeachment process, but also saying that he spoke with the acting Chief of Staff, Mick Mulvaney. Who -- Mick Mulvaney knows that they have a problem. So what do they do?
NAVARRO: You know, this is so painful for me to see. I've known Lindsey Graham for so long and had respected him so much. And I think he is a man with great intelligence and he is an actual lawyer. He knows the law. And he's done this before. And so, you know, I wish people were a little -- had a little more self-awareness about the fact that there are receipts, there's video, there's video showing him 20 years younger with darker hair and saying exactly the opposite of what he is saying now.
It's incredible to me the hypocrisy that we are seeing in front of us. And going viral now thanks to social Twitter. Everybody can see the inconsistency, the hypocrisy, the double standards, what's good for the goose. Clinton is not goose -- good for the orange gander. We see it over and over again on a daily basis.
It is embarrassing. I mean, do they not have mirrors? How can they go out and say this with such vigorous force and conviction when there is evidence that they said exactly the opposite? Video evidence.
LEMON: Well, I mean, from a messaging standpoint, I mean, they're clearly flailing because it's been, what, a month since Speaker Pelosi announced this impeachment inquiry. They still don't have a response team. Right? It looks like they're just -- does it look like to you that they're just throwing -- see what sticks?
LOCKHART: Yeah, I think they're making it up each day.
LEMON: Do you see that changing?
LOCKHART: I think there may be a change. And I think, you know, when Republicans on the Hill talk about they need a war room or they need a message strategy they're speaking in code. What they're trying to do is send a message to the president saying the problem isn't your staff, the problem is you. You have to shut up. You have to take yourself out of the story. Because he makes it worse every single day. And their strategy now is to chase behind the president.
And I think what you're seeing in the last couple of days is a balance of power shift in Washington away from the president dominating the Senate and the House and at least the Senate flexing its muscles because Trump now knows he needs those Senators more than those Senators need him. So you've seen that. And you know, there's pieces of evidence every day, but I think the most illustrative evidence is over the last two days the president has not taken a question from a reporter. He has not. He walked away from reporters twice yesterday. He didn't see them today. And I think that is what the Senate Republicans want from him, to shut up.
NAVARRO: You know, he's taken to Twitter to distract, right?
LOCKHART: But even --
NAVARRO: The lynching comment.
LOCKHART: But that was before this.
NAVARRO: Scum of the earth comment. And I do think at this point they do have a message strategy. Whether it's good or bad we can discuss, but it's not a coincidence that you're hearing every Republican out there say the word hearsay. The reason they are saying it is because they're regurgitating talking points. It is not a coincidence that all of the sudden, you know, --
LEMON: Or kangaroo court or --
NAVARRO: -- you've got 20, 30, 40, however many Republicans it was, storming the SCIF, and you know, doing this spectacle, the roman spectacle, if you will. That is not a coincidence. That doesn't happen impromptu. This is planned and this is a strategy and it is obstruct, distract, confuse, and victimize, play the victim. You know, Donald Trump, pobrecito. Una victim, of the liberal left.
BRUNI: I mean, to Joe's point, you can't have an effective --
LEMON: He is a victim of the liberal left --
NAVARRO: the vast left-wing conspiracy.
LEMON: But to his point --
LEMON: His last appearances have been particularly spastic. Right?
BRUNI: Oh, my gosh, yes. LEMON: It sort of over the top and unbound. Do you see that getting
worst or do you think he will learn -- or is he learning from what Joe is saying?
BRUNI: No. He doesn't learn. In 2.5 years he's learned nothing. He is just been silent for two days, but once you get him in front of a microphone again or an audience it's going to happen all over again.
And to Joe's point, you cannot have an effective war room if you have a delusional unhinged general. And you can't have like message discipline and a coherent message if every time the president gets before a microphone he speaks for 70 minutes at the cabinet meeting.
I think it was 90 minutes in Dallas, pinging all over the place, you know, using these words on Twitter like, you know, human scum and lynching. You can't get around that just by assembling a war room and having a bunch of people who are a little bit more coherent than the president because he is going to come out and he is going to step on what they did and he is going to scramble everything all over again.
LOCKHART: And I'm not arguing that he will follow any strategy. And they don't have a strategy. They just have a bunch of tactics right now. It doesn't add up to anything. I think, where they'll land is here, which is that yes, the president made mistakes and he showed poor judgment, but it doesn't rise to the level of impeachment.
I don't know why they're not there already, but I think when the Republicans on the Hill are talking about war room they're talking about trying to get control of the president, not trying to add, you know, two or three communications people at the White House.
BRUNI: Joe, I think --
NAVARRO: What might really tip the balance is, you know, careful what you wish for because you actually may get it. And when they get those public hearings and we start hearing these professionals, these career diplomats, very serious patriots. Like Taylor, like Fiona Hill, like Ambassador Yovanovitch speaking in front of the public, it's going to have an effect. So, I would say to Republicans, make all the noise you want, but be very careful that you get what you wish for.
LEMON: Last word.
BRUNI: They will never get to the point that Joe's talking about, which would be so wise, where the president made mistakes, but it doesn't rise to -- because the president can't admit that he made a mistake. He will never let them go out there and say he made a mistake.
LEMON: Yes. Thank you. I appreciate it. A new poll out today shows almost half of Americans think the Democratic Party is leaning too far left. That same poll has a candidate other than Joe Biden leading the pack.
LEMON: A new Quinnipiac poll has Elizabeth Warren leading the Democratic field at 28 percent. Joe Biden 21. Bernie Sanders at 15 percent. Pete Buttigieg, the other candidate with double digit support at 10 percent. Followed by Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar, who is showing earned her a spot in next month's debate. Chris Cillizza is here to break it all down for us. OK, sir.
CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I like being here in person. It's exciting.
LEMON: Yes, it's good to have you. (Inaudible), because we have a lot of polls to go around.
LEMON: OK, so, let's go. This poll today reveals almost half of the Americans, 47 percent believe that Democratic Party is moved too far to the left. Are Democrats paying attention to that do you think?
CILLIZZA: OK, so, yes. I think they're paying attention, because we have seen a string of stories, Don, in last week. Washington Post, that run (inaudible) that says Democratic establishment is worried. They are worried that Biden is weakening, Warren is strengthening, which by the way I think both of those things are true. And that Warren may be too liberal.
Now, Democrats are worriers. So, just because they are worry doesn't necessarily mean that she is too liberal. I always said to people when you talk about electability, I have a two word rebuttal. I got three words. President Donald Trump. So, electability is a dicey thing. I'm not ever sure it's 100 percent true, because again, Donald Trump was seen as the least electable candidate and he is in the White House.
LEMON: But he also called a personality, did any of these --
CILLIZZA: And that is, right, he is also a very unique figure. That he has been part of the culture for a really long time and not in a political way.
LEMON: OK, so polls also saying that whites are much more likely to say the party has moved to far to the left, 33 percent compared with Hispanics 33 and blacks 17. What accounts for that?
CILLIZZA: Yes. I think there remains if you look at certain states, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Ohio. I think there's still remains some level of this Party is turning too coastal. That Elizabeth Warren is saying we need to get rid of private health insurance entirely. That she is for the green new deal. That she in our last debate said she wants all troops out of the Middle East.
I'm not sure people are aren't really following issue by issue, but a broad sense that she is a Harvard professor. She's from the coast and she is not one of us. Now, one of us encapsulate a lot more than just the issues I talk about. The question is does that as they get to know someone like Elizabeth Warren better which they would in a general election? Does that change?
LEMON: So, this is all Americans, because this is not just Democrats.
CILLIZZA: That's right.
LEMON: Is it interesting in that, when they say, it's moving too far to the left. Is it -- do they think that the party is maybe too diverse? Sort of reflects the country is changing.
CILLIZZA: So, I don't know the answer to that. I was struck by the fact, you have 47 percent of people roughly half of respondents in the country. And as you said, this is Democrats and Republicans independents saying, Democrats party is left and only 37 percent saying the Republican Party is too right.
CILLIZZA: Which I don't -- I have always said this. Trump is not really a conservative. He is totally a conservative. And on immigration. Some of these issues of the conservative, but I'm debt, he is on trade. He is not a downline conservative, but I think, he is radicalized both parties in the way in which they're seen. I just think -- I don't know the answer on that question. I think, it's very interesting.
LEMON: You point out lately when it comes to foreign policy, by the way.
LEMON: New CNN poll out yesterday, Biden in the lead by a wide margin.
LEMON: Fifteen points ahead of Elizabeth Warren, but the Quinnipiac University poll today has Warren as a front runner, 28 percent. Seven points behind -- ahead, excuse me, of Joe Biden. So what do you think?
CILLIZZA: Some level, I think, of uncertainty there in voters. I just don't think they know. I think what you should do is largely average the two. So Biden is probably ahead by a handful. I think what you have seen in the last month and a half, two months, Biden and Warren top tier. Sanders, Buttigieg second tier. Everybody else, I mean, pick what tier you want to put them in third, whatever fourth, fifth.
But the race is really at this point, Biden, Warren. And the two polls. The Liberal Champion, unapologetic, we need to stand up for what we believe in. And the I can work with Republicans, Trump is in anomaly, we need to go back to normal.
[22:55:01] Those are -- it's a very stark choice that they represent. It's a
choice that Democrats could have had in 2016. But Hillary Clinton largely was such a big figure in that race. They didn't have it. This is their fight. The question for me is, does Pete Buttigieg jump himself up into there. And if he does, does he replace Joe Biden at some point. Not yet.
LEMON: Interesting. Listen, we have to remember too, this is our only snapshot.
CILLIZZA: Right. And we're still 101 days I think as of right now away from the Iowa caucus. (Inaudible) that I bad at, sorry, 101 more days, Don.
LEMON: Thank you, sir.
With impeachment looming the president's problems are spreading to his staff. Who could be out of the job and whose reputation is on the line, next?