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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT
Full House Set To Vote On Impeachment Inquiry; Dems Say Probe Will Now Include Public Hearings; Rep. Denny Heck (D-WA) Discuss The Full House Vote On Impeachment Inquiry; GOP Sen. Thune On Impeachment Vote: "It Would Be Great" If House "Would Open This Process Up"; GOP Senator Becomes Key Figure In Ukraine Probe; May Be Witness & Juror In Senate Trial If Trump Is Impeached. Aired 7-8p ET
Aired October 28, 2019 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: He chose both. Stopping the ball with his chest while holding and somehow managing not to spill his beer. Unfortunately, the Nationals lost three tough games here in D.C. Game six tomorrow in Houston, go Nats. I'm Wolf Blitzer. Erin Burnett OUTFRONT starts right now.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next breaking news, Democrats announced the first full House vote on impeachment, signaling a new stage in the impeachment investigation of President Donald Trump. Plus, new details about a Republican senator's contacts with key Ukrainian officials raising new questions this hour about his role in the Ukraine scandal. And Joe Biden comes out swinging, calling President Trump an idiot and inept. Is this new Biden what voters want? Let's go out front.
And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett. OUTFRONT tonight, the breaking news, the first full House vote on impeachment. Democrats this hour say the impeachment investigation is entering a new phase. According to the House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, there will be a vote this week on legislation that will lay out the ground rules for public hearings.
Now, Democrats insist this is a major move. They hope it will shut down the key talking points from Republicans and President Trump.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I know that people are still in a basement, in a secure room in the basement trying to make us look as bad as possible.
SEN. JOHN KENNEDY (R-LA): These impeachment proceedings are rigged. They're being held in secret.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So what they've decided is we're going to do this in behind closed doors away from the view of the American people, which is unAmerican.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: OK. So a source tell CNN this is all paving the way to the public hearings and all of the transcripts coming out and the resolution is expected to be introduced tomorrow. Tonight though, Republicans are crying foul saying, "Oh, this vote is just a sham."
Congressman Mark Meadows telling our Manu Raju, "Unless you have a vote of inquiry on the House floor, a rule vote is certainly not the same thing. You know it's not the same thing unless it's an impeachment inquiry vote. A lot of questions tonight about this vote.
So let's go to Capitol Hill, Phil Mattingly is out front. So, Phil, OK, obviously now this is going to become a game of semantics and fighting, so tell us what you know about what exactly this vote will do.
PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Look, there's the procedure, there's the technical, there's certainly the political here, but let's bottom line this. This vote which is expected to take place on Thursday will essentially lay out the road path for President Trump to become the third president in the history of United States to be impeached.
This, as you noted, is the next phase for Democrats. It lays out processes and procedures for public hearings, which we know Democrats have been saying will be coming likely in the weeks ahead. For depositions to become public, the transcripts of what's been going on behind closed doors actually coming out into the public sphere.
For the transition of sending evidence from the three committees currently investigating over to the Judiciary Committee, which would hold a markup consideration of articles of impeachment and it would lay out the due process the President would have for his defense counsel throughout the process going forward for impeachment. What this does is layout how this is going to work from here on out.
Now, the political here obviously, Democrats haven acknowledged this could take away a talking point that as you played repeatedly, Republicans have been seizing on over the course of the last couple of weeks. But Republicans have made clear, I've talked to a couple of Republican senators on the way over here, they said, "Look, if it opens up, it's good."
However, a lot of Republicans echo what Mark Meadows said, that this has been quote a sham from the beginning, the Republican National Committee say nothing that Democrats do now is going to change the fact that this is 'illegitimate'. So the back and forth on the political side of things certainly isn't going to stop, but the bottom line here, the part that's most important is in the weeks ahead, Democrats are moving forward, it will be in public, and most likely there will be articles of impeachment that will also receive a full House vote, Erin.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Phil Mattingly. And I want to go to Kaitlan Collins, out front at the White House. So Kaitlan, obviously, this is the road path, right? This is it. How it's going to go from here and you have reporting about how the White House is thinking about this vote announcement.
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Erin, for weeks they've been saying this is illegitimate, this isn't a real investigation. But now as Phil just laid out that this first vote has been introduced and is scheduled to be held this week, White House aides we've been talking to are still figuring out privately what it is they're going to do going forward here.
Their main argument has been that this is an illegitimate investigation that's being done in secret. Both of those things could change in their eyes in recent weeks if these hearings are starting to be held out in the public in the open for everyone to watch and see and learn what it is these current and former officials are saying. Now, if they move forward with this, if they even go as far as to hold this vote, making this a formal impeachment inquiry, which the Republicans say, so far they haven't done, Democrats say they don't need to do.
There are some pros and cons for the White House. The cons would be that it would take away their talking point that you just played there, that they say all of this is illegitimate, that this isn't real, this isn't happening above ground, essentially. The pros could be for the White House that they could actually be able to have counsel present in the room, potentially cross examining these witnesses and have access to this evidence that so far they have not been able to get their hands on any kind of transcripts or documents requested.
Another con though that someone pointed out is the White House isn't going to be able to argue that Democrats have no legislative argument to make here, because if they do move forward with a formal vote, they feel like so far they would actually have more of that argument. The question is, going forward, what is this resolution actually going to see. So far people inside the White House say they're waiting for that.
BURNETT: All right. Kaitlan, thank you very much. And, of course, we all are waiting for those details. So let's go to Democratic Congressman Denny Heck who sits on the House Intelligence Committee. So Congressman, help me understand this vote a bit more, if you can.
One crucial thing Republicans have wanted is the right to the power to issue subpoenas. Does that change with this vote or not?
REP. DENNY HECK (D-WA): Well, first, let's just remind everybody, Erin, that nothing in the constitution or federal law or the House rules requires us to take this vote. In fact, a federal court just last week affirmed that we were in fact engaged in an official impeachment inquiry.
But this next step is the natural progression, the natural evolution of the accumulation of this mounting evidence against the President as manifested in those text exchanges that were revealed in the opening statements that were revealed to the public by Dr. Hill of the Security Council, Ambassador Yovanovitch, Ambassador Taylor, in particular. But most incriminating, of course, was the President's own statement in that recorded phone call with President Zelensky of Ukraine in which he said, "I would like you to do us a favor though." A confession, by the way, that was effectively signed by his Chief of
Staff Mick Mulvaney in a later press conference. So the really interesting question here is, since the Republicans have been demanding this for weeks and they're being presented with it, are they now, in fact, an alternative vote, no. In my prediction is that in fact indeed, most of them will, because they aren't interested in getting at the truth and they will invent yet another excuse to obstruct.
BURNETT: I want to go back to the subpoena point, but you're saying you're going to lay out the roadmap for public hearings, counsel in the room, I understand that's also part of it, dates of transcripts from all of the depositions you've done so far are going to be released, so all of that is a part of this.
HECK: Yes. Erin, as we have been saying for weeks, we would do.
BURNETT: What about subpoenas though? Because this is important to them that they would have the power to issue subpoenas. They all say, OK, maybe legally you guys don't have to do that, but certainly the precedent from prior impeachments is that the minority power did get that.
HECK: To my knowledge, Erin, we haven't been presented at all with a list of witnesses that they would like to subpoena. I have heard the Chair of the Intelligence Committee, Congressman Schiff indicate that he would entertain it if they were to bring it forward.
But nobody is fooling anybody. What they are doing again is objecting the process and not doing what they have failed to do all along, which is actually defend the President for his behavior, for his solicitation by a foreign government of interference in a domestic election.
BURNETT: So House Intelligence Committee Chairman, you mentioned your Chairman, Adam Schiff. He says that the committee still has 'further depositions to do'. Obviously, those depositions have been behind closed doors. Democrats and Republicans on the appropriate committee present, but behind closed doors broadly speaking.
When will the public phase begin? Is this next week, the week after, when?
HECK: I don't think we have a hard and fast timetable. But let's go back and give a little definition to your characteristic of this characterization of this, broadly speaking. In fact, Erin, 122 of 435 members of the U.S. House of Representatives serve on one of the three committees and have access to the depositions today that we have taken. It is very broadly available.
And to further characterize that, the time allowed for questioning our witnesses has been equally divided 50/50, even though Republicans in the minority don't constitute 50% of the membership of those three committees.
BURNETT: So total time has been 50/50, not just every person gets equal time.
HECK: That's correct.
BURNETT: Which is interesting, because I know we pointed out each individual got equal time, but you're saying each party. What does this mean for the timeline, Congressman? I know you don't know specifically, but is your goal do you think it is reasonable to say that the House will be voting on formal articles of impeachment before Thanksgiving?
HECK: I would not venture to make that guess at this time, Erin, but I would reiterate that which we've indicated before, without being hasty we want to be expeditious and deliberate. And I think we all recognize that this cannot go on forever. And indeed, as I said, all along, one of the biggest challenges that we have is where do you cut it off.
We have considerable mounting evidence, in fact, sufficient, I believe, for us to take this next step. But nobody wants this to go on forever.
BURNETT: All right. Well, I appreciate your time, Congressman Heck, as always. Thank you, sir.
HECK: You're welcome, Erin.
BURNETT: And next, the key witness and John Bolton ally was a no-show on Capitol Hill today. So especially with this vote in the context here, what will Democrats and what can Democrats do about that? Plus, new questions tonight about a Republican senator's connections to Ukraine. How Ron Johnson is becoming a more central player in the Ukraine scandal. And Joe Biden calls Trump an idiot, goes after him on taxes.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, FORMER UNITED STATES VICE PRESIDENT, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You want to deal with corruption, start to act like it. Release your tax returns or shut up.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: So is this new more aggressive Biden what people want?
BURNETT: Breaking news, a top Republican senator praising House Speaker Pelosi's decision to have the full House vote on an impeachment resolution this Thursday. John Thune, the Senate Majority Whip, number two Republican on the Senate telling CNN in part, "It would be great if the House would, if they would open this process up. I think it would be an entirely different conversation we'd be having. I suspect it would create an entirely different environment."
Well, it's interesting he thinks that, obviously, others like Mark Meadows are saying the opposite tonight, already saying that they don't think that this means anything, so we'll see how this plays out. But, obviously, that's the big question.
Out front now former Counsel to the U.S. Assistant Attorney General for National Security Carrie Cordero, John Dean, who was White House Counsel for President Nixon and our Chief Political Correspondent, Dana Bash.
So Dana, let me start with you. Look, Speaker Pelosi has resisted calls to hold an official vote since the beginning as John Thune is sort of pointing out, that gave everybody the talking point. You won't do the vote, then you have all this secrecy and it gives the Republicans this talking point. But now part of the reason she didn't want to do it is she didn't want to put Democrats on the hot seat with an impeachment vote and now they have to show where they stand. I mean this is going to force that hand this week.
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: It will and I was actually just communicating with somebody who is potentially on that line, who pointed out something very interesting to me, which is since what three four weeks ago a lot of the dynamics of not wanting to put people on record have changed because, so many Democrats who are in swing districts, who are in Trump districts have come out and said, I'm for this. But not all of them and that is the point that you're making, Erin, and that's the key.
There are a little, I think, fewer than 10 House Democrats who are either saying 'nope' or 'I'm not ready to talk about this yet'. They are going to be out there and they are going to have to put their vote and their money where their mouth is. And that could potentially hurt them in the short term and maybe even the long-term.
But you know what, they were going to have to take a vote at some point, so which is going to be sooner than they planned.
BURNETT: Right. I mean, certainly there's no other place this was ever going to end other than a formal article.
BASH: I can start not get there. I mean, Carrie, here's the thing, Democrats are saying, OK, this vote is there. They're going to put the transcripts of the depositions public. They're going to set the procedures. How do you have counsel from the opposing side given a chance to cross examine, all of those things are kind of going to now happen, they say, as a result of this vote.
The Senate Majority Whip, you just heard Senator Thune say, "This could create an entirely different environment," which seems to be perhaps wishful thinking. Did Democrats though need a vote to do these things, Carrie, to have a procedure and all of these things?
CARRIE CORDERO, FORMER COUNSEL TO THE U.S. ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR NATIONAL SECURITY: So as a matter of procedure, no. I don't think they actually needed it to be able to conduct their inquiry. But I think it's a really positive development.
I mean there are aspects of the investigation, for example, the fact that the House Intelligence Committee has taken on a leadership role in the impeachment investigation. House Intelligence is not really - institutionally, that's not really the best committee institutionally in terms of its role. It's supposed to be conducting an oversight of the intelligence community.
So it's not really the best fit for conducting an impeachment inquiry and they've had a big role. So I think it's important that the House is now going to provide some transparency for how they plan to communicate the evidence that's been gathered by House Intel and the other two committees and how they're going to transmit that information to the Judiciary Committee which really is the right place for the impeachment investigation to be housed.
BURNETT: So John, this will be the first full House vote when it comes to the Trump impeachment inquiry as both Dana and Carrie is talking about. This is when people have to actually say where they stand publicly. Is it a smart move by Speaker Pelosi to be doing this right now?
JOHN DEAN, FORMER NIXON WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL: I think she knows what she's doing. She knows her caucus very well. She knows who it might hurt, who it might help and they've weighed that and probably had discussions about it. So I don't think this is an accident that it's happening. It's not being forced as a talking point to remove a talking point from the Republicans.
I think it's strategically a good move to lay out some ground rules. The rules committee is the right place to do it and it will start more transparency. And I think the Republicans are going to regret that they want this transparent, because it's not going to play well publicly.
BURNETT: Dana, yesterday Democratic Congressman Hakeem Jeffries, who's in leadership said he did not believe the inquiry would wrap up by the end of the year. From your reporting, Dana, is there a split among Democrats? Do some of them believe with an election coming right now with the Senate that will not vote to remove the President, at least at this time that's how that vote would go. Do some of them believe this needs to move much faster?
BASH: Obviously, there are differences of opinion on that issue, but this is the differences we've talked about before between this inquiry and the two major ones in the past, both Nixon and Clinton, where they were working with the bones and in the case of Clinton, the total investigation, the Ken Starr report. And here they're doing it from scratch.
So because of that, they don't know and they didn't know from the beginning where exactly it would take them. And some of it, the delay if there is such a thing, is because they're waiting on the courts. But most of it is because as they've talked to witnesses it begets more witnesses and more information. It's a true investigation which does take longer than they anticipated.
So if there's a difference, it's when do we kind of just end it and move on and say we've got enough or how much more meat do we want to put on this bone to say, look at all of the evidence that we have found.
BURNETT: Right. Because, of course, in a sense they're in a tough spot because they say we had all of the transcript. And now that's six weeks ago and here we are. But, obviously, as you talk about meat on the bone, that's the subjectivity of it.
Carrie, Dana just mentioned the courts. Today, the former Deputy National Security Advisor, Charles Kupperman failed to appear for his deposition and the White House, of course, as we know has tried to prevent witnesses from testifying, stopping any documents from being handed over.
So Carrie, purely technically, do you think this vote will force Trump to hand over documents and to allow people to speak or do each of these individual fights over witnesses testifying still go through the courts after this vote?
CORDERO: I don't think the vote, Thursday, in the House is going to change the White House's strategy in terms of their obstructing as much documents or as many witnesses as they can from cooperating with this investigation. So the House, I think, will continue even with this vote to have to deal with each witness individually, so they can request the witness to appear. If the witness declines, they can subpoena the witness. And then if the witness still declines, then they may have to go to court to enforce it.
So I don't think it's going to change the White House's strategy, but I think it does change the optics of the proceedings where now there's at least a process that will be explained a little bit more openly.
BURNETT: All of you please stay with me because next an American senator is now caught up in the Ukraine controversy. Someone who would be casting a vote in the Senate, why Senator Ron Johnson's connection to Ukraine are making him a potential witness in an impeachment trial next. And Joe Biden, now trash talking Trump trying to perhaps out trump Trump, serious insults.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: He's an idiot - in terms of saying that. Everybody knows this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: New tonight, a Republican senator becoming a central figure in the Ukraine scandal. Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, whom The Washington Post now reports met with a former Ukrainian diplomat who has pushed baseless conspiracy theories about the 2016 election.
Now, we're learning this meeting happened just two weeks before President Trump's infamous call with Ukraine's President where he asked the Ukrainian president for a favor to investigate that same conspiracy theory and Joe Biden. Phil Mattingly is out front.
MATTINGLY(voice-over): As evidence mounts of the Trump administration using foreign aid to Ukraine as a political weapon, one GOP senator's name has repeatedly popped up, Ron Johnson. It's an interesting twist for the Wisconsin Republican who's a close ally of President Trump.
But as chair of a panel that oversees Europe and Vice Chair of the Senate Ukraine Caucus, Johnson is a historically strong proponent of U.S. aid and assistance to Ukraine. Even signed on to a 2016 letter urging then Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko to press ahead with reforms to battle corruption. The same reforms pushed by the Obama administration.
Now however, he's not only a potential juror in an impeachment trial, but also a potential witness for Democratic investigators. William Taylor, the top U.S. Diplomat in Ukraine testified last week, Johnson was party to a 'irregular channel' that has become central to the investigation into why $391 million and U.S. aid was withheld.
Johnson and three Trump administration officials briefed Trump directly, following their return from New Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky's inauguration in May. Taylor testified the group enthusiastically backed Zelensky, but Trump 'did not share their enthusiasm'. One reason according to Johnson, a debunked 2016 conspiracy theory.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. RON JOHNSON (R-WI): I was certainly surprised with the President's reaction, which has been consistent throughout this. Now, first of all, he talked about the level of corruption in Ukraine. And Mark, there's all kinds of smoke about Hillary Clinton campaign, the DNC being involved in the 2016 election.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTINGLY(voice-over): Someone testified that Trump told the group to 'talk to Mr. Giuliani', his personal attorney about his concerns. "It was apparent to all of us," Sondland testified, "that the key to changing the President's mind on Ukraine was Mr. Giuliani."
Johnson, in an interview with The Wall Street Journal recounted that in an August 30th call, Sondland told him aid to Ukraine was contingent on investigations into Democrats. "At that suggestion, I winced," Johnson told The Wall Street Journal. "My reaction was: Oh, god, I don't want to see those two things combined." But Johnson said Trump told him personally in a call afterwards that was not the case and proceeded to go all in on his defensive Trump on TV.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHUCK TODD, MSNBC ANCHOR: Why did you wince and what did you mean by those two things combined?
JOHNSON: Well, first of all, your setup piece was typically very unbiased. But let me first, before I started answering all the detailed questions, let me just talk about why I'm pretty sympathetic with what President Trump has gone through.
President Trump's had to endure a false accusation. By the way, you've got John Brennan on. You ought to ask Director Brennan what did Peter Strzok mean when he texted Lisa Page on December 15th 2016.
TODD: Senator ...
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTINGLY(voice-over): Days after Johnson's call with Trump, the Senator was back in Ukraine. This time with Democratic Senator Chris Murphy to meet with Zelensky. Both say they made clear Ukraine had bipartisan support on Capitol Hill.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CHRIS MURPHY (D-CT): He gave us a very positive response, told us that he had no interest in getting dragged into American politics.
MATTINGLY: And Erin, Johnson aide said the reason Johnson keeps popping up is he was doing his job, his job as the subcommittee chairman, his job because he's been interested and involved in Ukraine policy for the last five years.
Now, it's interesting no Democratic investigators have reached out to Johnson even though he continues to appear and Johnson earlier tonight was asked by me, if he felt like he needed to recuse himself if the Senate does have to vote or consider the impeachment issue. He said he doesn't. I asked, why not? He said, quote, I just don't have to -- Erin.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: All right. Thank you very much, Phil.
Well, that's going to be a big question I guess technically. Maybe he does not have to but will he have to.
Every one is back with me.
John, let me start with you. What's your reaction? Senator Johnson obviously, you know, spent time in Ukraine, knows all the players here, talked to the president. Said he winced when he seemed he was presented with what he thought was a quid pro quo and then bought into the president's side of it.
We're now learning that he met with the former Ukrainian diplomat, talked about that conspiracy theory of Ukraine in the 2016 election two weeks before the phone call. What is this all add up to you?
JOHN DEAN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, what could happen is the House as it proceeds is not likely to call him as a witness if they like to have what he has. But if this goes over to the Senate, the managers then could take depositions before they go to trial and they could take his deposition and that could result in forcing him to recuse himself, because we don't really know what he knows or what his position is.
But he has to take an oath to be impartial as a member of Senate. That's a special oath that's given in an impeachment proceeding, and I'm not sure he can take it unless he is very open about what he knows and what he did and what he didn't do.
BURNETT: Carrie, do you think that there could be even more that Senator Johnson may know when it comes to Ukraine, especially with the context of when he thought it was a connection between aid and investigations, he winced?
CARRIE CORDERO, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, I don't know what he knows, but what I can tell you is I just don't feel like this is quite adding up yet based on the reporting that we have. The reason I say that is because Senator Johnson has been a real supporter of aid to Ukraine. You show the clip of him going on a bipartisan basis with Senator Murphy.
CORDERO: He had supported aid to Ukraine. It does look like he has then also defended the president.
So, one question I have is whether or not the president was truthful with Senator Johnson in their communications about what the motivations were for withholding the aid to Ukraine. Certainly, why that aid was withheld is a critical issue for the House to unpack. I'm not sure we have enough facts to understand which side of that Senator Johnson was falling on.
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: And, Erin, both things can be true. Senator Johnson who is now and was a very big proponent of getting U.S. aid to Ukraine could have winced when he heard something that clearly other Republicans have said publicly was inappropriate, tying that aid to investigating corruption. That could be true.
But it also could be true and is true that Senator Johnson believes that bad things went on in the Obama administration, vis-a-vis the inquiry into Donald Trump. I talked to him about it. He's been on the air here and other places and he wants to look into that. But just because -- which, by the way, I should say, that we have
looked into this also and it doesn't look to be accurate. But he could want to look into that but also not want it to be tied to aid.
BURNETT: And, John, before we go, one question to you. You talk about having to take an oath and impartiality. If there's a question about Ron Johnson can do it, how do Democrats like Senators Sanders, Warren, Booker, Klobuchar and Harris take it when they have said the president should be impeached?
DEAN: Well, you know, I don't think any of them have any direct involvement. I think that would separate them.
And, you know, a lot of jurors when they just in regular juries have to take an oath of their impartiality and people can -- are asking if they can set aside their preconceived notions and beliefs and what- have-you, and most can. I think that's what would happen with these Democrats who have been very outspoken on this.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you all so very much. I appreciate it.
And, next, Biden and Trump have a history of personal attacks but now, Biden is really upping the ante.
Plus, we're learning new details about how officials were able to identify ISIS leader al-Baghdadi.
BURNETT: New tonight, Joe Biden on the attack. The former vice president saying Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was killed despite the president's, quote, ineptitude as commander-in-chief, not even giving him the credit of taking down this terrorist. And it comes after this insult Biden lobbed another Trump.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
INTERVIEWER: President Trump says Russian interference is a hoax.
JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He's an idiot on terms of saying that. Everybody knows it. Everybody knows it. Nobody doubts it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: OUTFRONT now, Scott Jennings, a former senior adviser to Senator Mitch McConnell and former mayor of Philadelphia, Michael Nutter, who is a Joe Biden supporter.
Mayor Nutter, look, we're going to hear more and more of this. This appears to be a new, more aggressive Joe Biden.
MICHAEL NUTTER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, I would say. You know, I think we're at a point where after weeks if not months of very aggressive Donald Trump, whether against Vice President Biden or against his family, and just about everything else.
I mean, he's called the vice president everything but a child of god, you know, I think the vice president has decided that the only way to deal with a schoolyard bully is to fight fire with fire. And so, the thing about it, Erin, it's not like what Vice President Biden said is not true. Sixteen different federal intelligence agencies unanimously agreed that Russia did, in fact, interfere with the 2016 presidential election to harm Hillary Clinton and to benefit Donald Trump.
That is a fact that Donald Trump refuses to recognize. On that point, narrowly the vice president, on that issue, he's an idiot. It's true.
BURNETT: Yes. I mean, I only pointed obviously when the president uses words like that, people are quick to call him unpresidential. Obviously, Joe Biden is not the president and there are different standards which is a point that --
NUTTER: Right, and Donald Trump has said worse.
BURNETT: Well, that is true. I'm sure Scott will acknowledge.
BURNETT: However, Scott, Biden also fought back when asked if he had a message for Trump. I wanted to play how he continued.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
INTERVIEWER : President Trump has said publicly Joe Biden and his son are stone cold corrupt. Chances are he's watching this interview. Anything you want to say to him?
BIDEN: Yes. Mr. President, release your tax returns. Let's see how straight you are, OK, old buddy. I put out 21 years of mine. Show us your tax returns. What are you hiding? You want to deal with corruption, start to act like it. Release your tax returns or shut up.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Scott, will that work? Just in terms of the tone with voters.
SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I think Biden is --
BURNETT: Yes, go ahead.
JENNINGS: Oh, sure. Well, look, I think it's who Biden is.
This isn't really all that new. I mean, several times during this campaign, Joe Biden has said things like he wants to punch Donald Trump. He wants to beat him up behind the schoolyard because he's bully and that's how you treat bullies.
So, I don't know that this is all that new. If anything --
BURNETT: That's what he said last time around. Now it's interesting he's gotten more, at least, he was trying to play the statesman like part. I'm not going to stoop to this, right? But this is, this is -- at least in tone over the past couple of months different.
JENNINGS: Sure. And it's a far cry from his launch video. You know, the video that the Biden campaign put out to launch the campaign was the high-minded video that, you know, that's who he was trying to be. Now, he's acting like who he really is, calling people idiots.
And, you know, Donald Trump engages in this kind of rhetoric as well. On this particular issue, I wonder if people are wondering, who is the idiot? The person who has the quibbles with the intelligence report or the person who was the vice president of the United States when the Russians actually meddled in our democracy?
I agree with the mayor. Everybody agrees that they did. But let me finish the thought, they did it on Joe Biden's watch. Who is the idiot here?
BURNETT: So, this is the kind of talk that will happen, Mayor. This is what this opens.
NUTTER: Yes, I appreciate that.
You know, having sat on a seat and you sat on a few as well, it will be interesting to hear your thoughts on what was the federal going to do in the middle of an election while that activity was taking place. I'm sure you would be crying that the President Obama and his administration and Vice President Biden were trying to interfere in the election.
The fact of the matter is that Donald Trump, as a candidate, asked and encouraged, it's on tape, Russia to go after Hillary Clinton. He did it again with the Ukraine president call. So, that's his M.O.
The vice president is absolutely correct. On this issue, Donald Trump refuses to recognize that Russia did interfere with the 2016 election. That's a fact. You can't dispute that and you should just acknowledge that.
BURNETT: Here is the thing about it.
NUTTER: That's what we're talking about here. And he is an idiot.
BURNETT: The more discussion that happens over who is an idiot over what obviously is not a discussion I would imagine anyone of you really want to have, or anybody wants to have. And the reason I bring that up is because Trump's a tough guy to take on, OK? He will be nastier and dirtier than anybody else. That's a fact, right? If you're going to punch the guy, he will come back and call you 50 horrific names that people will repeat.
And the truth of it is, that people who run against him who have decided to stop taking the high road and go down into the gutter, here are a few of them and here is what they said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX): Donald, you're a sniveling coward and leave Heidi the hell alone.
SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL): You know what they say about men with small hands. You can't trust them. You can't trust them.
JEB BUSH (R), FORMER FLORIDA GOVERNOR: I got to get this off my chest. Donald Trump is a jerk. You cannot insult your way to the presidency.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: They all lost. They all lost. They all tried before they did that to not get into the mud.
What do can you say, Scott? Is Biden at that risk or is Biden going to play this better than anybody else?
JENNINGS: Yes, look, just taking my partisan hat off and putting my analyst hat on.
I wouldn't advise this strategy. Presidential campaigns are sometimes, oftentimes reactions to the previous and the reaction to the previous campaign would be to take the high road, to try to be high minded, to try to be optimistic, and try to be who Joe Biden claimed he was going to be when he launched his campaign. He's now taking a different path I suspect because he's losing standing in the Democratic primary.
So, my advice would be going down this road is never worked out for another candidate. It's not going to work out for Joe Biden.
I don't think this is the rhetoric that's going to beat Trump. It will be something different, something more optimistic about the future.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you both very much.
And next --
NUTTER: Well, got to recognize --
BURNETT: Sorry, I got to go. Sorry.
President Trump preparing to release images from the raid that killed al-Baghdadi, images that were not released after the death of bin Laden. Why? The Navy SEAL who killed bin Laden is my guest.
Jeanne Moos on President Trump joining the club of politicians who have been booed.
BURNETT: Tonight, new details about the raid that killed ISIS leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. CNN has learned that one of Baghdadi's closest collaborators, a relative for marriage, provided crucial information that led to the raid. And Kurdish forces say another information obtained a piece of al-Baghdadi's underwear and a blood sample, and that's what they had in their possession so they could do a DNA test to confirm his identity.
We also have learned that Baghdadi's remains have been buried at sea.
And we could be seeing photos or video from the raid in the coming days.
OUTFRONT now, Robert O'Neill, the retired Navy SEAL Six member who killed Osama bin Laden.
I appreciate your time.
So, OK, we understand there may be images released or video released from the president. I know President Obama didn't want to release any images of Osama bin Laden's body.
ROBERT O'NEILL, FORMER NAVY SEAL TEAM SIX, KILLED BIN LADEN: Right.
BURNETT: He feared it could be used as a recruiting tool for terrorists.
What do you think of releasing images of this raid?
O'NEILL: Well, for the bin Laden raid, I think President Obama was right in not releasing them. But, you know, a lot of people are saying we don't have them, because we don't like the fact that President Obama told us to go get him. We have them, we didn't release them because that will cause a firestorm.
With this one -- I agree with that. Eventually, they should be released. We did it.
With this one, if they have video of what happened right before he detonated, Abu Bakr -- I'm sorry --
BURNETT: Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
O'NEILL: Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, he ignited his suicide vest, that's an ugly video and I don't think people really want to see that. If photos would do something, a video certainly would do that. They have them.
I just hope it doesn't turn into, hey, hey, look what we did to them. Plus, if operators are seen in a video, I would hate to see -- because everything is political. I would hate to see people Monday morning quarterbacking, he did this, he shouldn't have done that. If there's video of people shooting two females with a suicide vest -- BURNETT: Right, it's better not to. Why?
O'NEILL: They don't need this. Everyone does not need to see this. It's important for people to do the DNA tests, do those tests, we confirm it's him and that should be it. Justice is served.
I don't want -- I would hate to see the actions of these very, very brave men on target get politicized for -- by others.
BURNETT: Right. You know, and I want to play for you something the president said during his announcement. This is on a continuum. We're on a continuum here of a war that started a long time ago. Obviously, Osama bin Laden's death was a big (INAUDIBLE), and then after ISIS, now here we are with al-Baghdadi.
Here's something President Trump just said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is the biggest there is. This is the worst ever.
Osama bin Laden was very big. But Osama bin Laden became big with the World Trade Center.
This is a man who built a hole, as he would like to call it, a country, a caliphate and was trying to do it again.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: This is the biggest there is. What do you think about that, trying to make it relative? This is bigger than Osama bin Laden.
O'NEILL: Well, this is -- I don't think this is bigger than Osama bin Laden. It's definitely different.
But Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi did -- is the first to make the caliphate.
O'NEILL: So, he had a capital. He had a system running. And he's a caliph.
So, it is -- it's different, it's bigger. I don't think comparing the two are the same.
O'NEILL: He was more brutal. I mean, it's hard to say that, too. This is a guy, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who made a living on recruiting through burning people alive. Through rape of young girls.
BURNETT: And, by the way, putting those images, which is another reason --
O'NEILL: Oh, yes, yes. (CROSSTALK)
O'NEILL: And even bin Laden disagreed with that.
But I mean, the guys going in -- it's different because the guys went in there on helicopters at first, on what we call the x. And that's just put out there because we know we're getting in a fight. But we try to sneak in surgically into Pakistan as a sovereign nation, they're going into a warzone for the ISIS leader who is living in an al Qaeda.
And it's different. They're both very, very important. Both of them killed the number one terrorist in the world.
BURNETT: Well, it shouldn't be that we're having conversations about which one is more important.
O'NEILL: Well, no, we shouldn't be.
BURNETT: Right, which is an issue here.
But one thing before we go, the president said that ISIS fighters that have been escaping during this whole imbroglio now in northern Syria, with a lot of U.S. troops. He said that there were a few that got out. Only a few out of the prisons and they've been largely recaptured.
His envoy overseeing the ISIS fight then said the number is over 100 who have escaped. We don't know where they are.
O'NEILL: That's a problem. I mean, this is a weird war zone. Some people want to help them, some don't.
Pulling out of Syria, that part, I mean, that could have been a head fake for people in al-Baghdadi's compound to think that we're safer now. Did that happen? I don't know.
I hope the president is taking advice from the Pentagon. Some say that he's not as much as he should. But, I mean, at the end of the day, it's one country, one coalition.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Bob. I've always appreciate seeing you.
O'NEILL: Great to see you. Thank you.
BURNETT: And next, from shoes to booze. Jeanne Moos on a tax Trump and past presidents have dodged.
BURNETT: Boo, and I'm not talking about Halloween.
Here's Jeanne. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
JEANNE MOOS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When Mr. President Trump looked at the first lady and smiled and smiled and smiled, was he hearing what we were hearing?
CROWD: Boo! Boo!
MOOS: Lots of booing, plus an impeach Trump banner and Veterans for Impeachment peeping out behind home plate not to mention.
CROWD: Lock him up. Lock him up.
MOOS: Hey, but at least nobody threw any shoes at him like they did at President George W. Bush in Baghdad. Was that a ball or a strike?
Practically all politicians get booed. For instance, Mike Pence arriving at the Broadway musical "Hamilton."
MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I nudged my kids and told them that's what freedom sounded like.
MOOS: Freedom sounded like this when Hillary Clinton said Bernie Sanders wasn't a Democrat until he ran for president.
HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: Well, it's true. It's true. You know it's true.
MOOS (on camera): It's bad enough getting booed but imagine getting booed on your birthday.
That's what happened to Rudy Giuliani on his 74th birthday at his beloved Yankee Stadium.
ANNOUNCER: The New York Yankees wish a very happy birthday to Mayor Giuliani.
MOOS: Crappy birthday, Rudy, said "The New York Post."
President Obama even god booed by the Boy Scouts --
MOOS: -- after he sent a video message rather than appearing in person at the scout jamboree.
MOOS: But Obama turned boos to cheers at the Democratic Convention.
BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT: Where's Donald Trump? Don't boo, vote. MOOS: Candidate Trump got booed for trying to silence Jeb Bush.
TRUMP: Let me talk. Quiet. A lot of times --
MOOS: Don't bother trying to shush an entire stadium. You're destined to strike out big league.
Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.
BURNETT: And thanks so much for joining us.
"AC360" with Anderson starts now.