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Republicans Smear A Key Witness; Rep. Mike Quigley (D-IL) Is Interviewed About The Testimony Of Colonel Alexander Vindman In Front Of Lawmakers; House Democrats To Formalize Impeachment Inquiry; Trump Allies Attack Patriotism Of Purple Heart Recipient; House Dems Released Impeachment Resolution Ahead Of Thursday Vote; House To Vote Thursday To Formalize Impeachment Inquiry; Former President Obama And First Lady Michelle Obama Talk Race, Activism And Political Leadership. Aired 10-11p ET
Aired October 29, 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: Why? Because the facts are damning, the furor about process, the whistleblower attacking Colonel Vindman. See it for what it is and get ready for more. Bolo.
Thank you for watching. "CNN TONIGHT" with D. Lemon starts right now.
DON LEMON, CNN HOST: There's a lot of that to go around. A lot of shiny objects. You've got the investigating the investigators going on for the origins. My gosh. All kinds of madness happening.
But, you know, we were having this discussion last night about attacking the witness today, and they did. They tried to impugn his reputation. I don't think you thought that they were going to stoop to that level, but they did.
CUOMO: Well, I hadn't seen it. Didn't do it with Volker. Didn't need to do it with Sondland. Didn't do it with Taylor. But now they did it with Vindman. But arguably Vindman is the most effective.
LEMON: That's why they did it.
CUOMO: In an open hearing, he sitting there in his uniform may be the most damaging. So maybe so. But the cynicism that leads us to that reasonable conclusion is disgusting.
LEMON: I am shocked honestly especially by the party that is -- that touts itself as loving the military so much, hugging and clinging to the flag. You know, their own idea of what patriotism means, that they would stoop to the level of attacking someone who served this country, who literally shed blood for this country, who has a Purple Heart, who is carrying around still pieces of shrapnel in him. It's just -- it is the most vulgar, obnoxious, disgusting thing that I have seen in quite some time.
CUOMO: Look, Congressman Stewart was on tonight, and he didn't go there. He said, no, I don't believe in doing that. But there are too few saying enough about this, and what they're doing is bad. And why they're doing it is worse, because they're surrendering to this president.
This is who he is. He can say America first all he wants. I've known him most of my adult life. If you are in the way of something that he needs for himself, you are in the most dangerous place in the world at that time. He'll take on any institution, any ideal, and any person if it's him or them. You may see that as tough guy. I don't see it as a leadership quality.
LEMON: But do you notice that the attacking of the process, Chris -- I'm sure you do -- it keeps changing. Well, let's attack the witnesses. It was hearsay. Then, well, now it doesn't matter because the president was on the call, and President Zelensky was on the call and they said there was no -- I hate that quid pro quo. It sounds like, you know, a pop band. It's not what, you know what it is. It's extortion. It is shaking someone down.
The president tried to shake down a foreign country to get dirt on his political rival. He tried to extort a foreign country to get dirt on his political rival. I wish we would stop saying quid pro quo because it has no meaning. It has no meaning at all.
CUOMO: Well, it has a meaning in the law, but you don't need it for the analysis.
LEMON: It actual sounds a lot nicer than what the president did on that call if the transcript is to be believed.
CUOMO: Yes. Look, it's just an establishing concept for that kind of exchange that can be malignant, and it was here.
LEMON: But most people you realize that --
CUOMO: I know that --
LEMON: -- most people don't know what a quid pro quo is.
CUOMO: I know but you explain. It means this for that, and they get it. But it's not about the American people not getting it. It's about them not buying into this process because they think it's an industry standard, and they think the left does it, and the right does it. And why should the left be able to move somebody from the right about it? This is a tough spot, and the president knows that.
LEMON: That's a false equivalency. You know that, and you know, how I feel about those.
CUOMO: I don't know that --
LEMON: In this point in time --
CUOMO: -- that a lot of people like false equivalency. LEMON: -- that is a complete false equivalency. There is no moral equivalence to what one side is doing what the other is doing right now.
CUOMO: Yes, I know. But if you're at home and you're not in this bubble and you're living your life and you got eight things that matter to you more than this process, and you look up at and it you're like I think all this people lie. I think they all do this. I think they're sneaky and shady, and I think Trump is sneaky and shady but for them to not like him for being like them, I don't get it. I don't think the hypocrisy --
LEMON: That's called delusional. That's why we're here to inform these people. That's why we're here to let them know that a quid pro quo is a shakedown. It is extortion.
And even if you don't think it's important, the same thing that happened with Nixon, they may not have thought it was important, then all of a sudden, the president is caught on tape lying or trying to --
CUOMO: But they had a burglary there on him.
LEMON: Have you read the transcript?
LEMON: Have you heard the witness testimony?
CUOMO: But I don't know that you easily attach a felony to it. Look, I think you're going to hear a very compelling argument --
LEMON: I'm not saying it's a felony. I'm not saying --
CUOMO: -- for him not to be removed.
LEMON: I'm not saying it's a felony.
CUOMO: Well, then it's not the burglary analysis.
LEMON: I'm not -- no, no. You're doing --
CUOMO: I'm telling you I get what they think.
LEMON: You're doing -- you always accuse the people you interview. It's not apples to -- it's not apples to apples. It's not the exact same thing. But you don't think that what is in that transcript and what the witnesses are saying, you don't think that was poor behavior on the president's part?
CUOMO: I think that it was wrong and I think it was a clear abuse of power and arguably illegal.
LEMON: OK. There you go. No, no. That's why we're saying the same thing.
CUOMO: Yes. I know. You just like to find conflict where there is none. But what I'm saying is that as we go forward in this and these hearings happen, everything that's going on now, Don, I'm telling you, I don't like this. I hope I'm wrong, but it's going to get worse.
LEMON: Of course, it's going to get worse.
CUOMO: Because when this president is threatened, he knows one way to react, and it has got him where he is today. And the men and women around him and the people on TV and off are going to say things like a lieutenant colonel with 20 years of history is a spy, is engaged in espionage.
CUOMO: The ugliness increases, and it reduces all of us, and it's a big -- as big a problem as what the president did is going to be the reaction to it.
LEMON: I got to go, but I thought about it today. It is the exact same thing that the president accused Judge Curiel of doing. Because of this person's background, who he is, that he could not do his job and he could not be objective. That is terrible. Got to go.
CUOMO: See you.
LEMON: See you later.
This is CNN TONIGHT. I'm Don Lemon.
Listen, devastating testimony on Capitol Hill. There's no other way to put it. That's why everybody is attacking the process on the other side.
This was devastating testimony by Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman. The National Security Council's top expert on Ukraine, who still works in the White House. He's wrapping up 10 hours of testimony tonight.
He testified that most of what is revealed in that rough log of that July 25th call between President Trump and Ukraine's president, where Trump pressured the Ukrainian leader to investigate Joe Biden, tried to shake him down, that it's accurate. But "The New York Times" is reporting that Colonel Vindman told
investigators that at the point of the transcript where the third set of ellipses appear, OK, that President Trump said there were tapes of Biden discussing Ukraine corruption.
And he reportedly told investigators that the transcript omitted crucial words and phrases, and that his attempts to include them failed.
Of course, you'll remember that when the White House originally released the transcript of that call, they specifically told CNN -- and I quote here -- "the ellipses do not indicate missing words or phrases."
Well, Vindman testified that he gave his transcript edits to Timothy Morrison, the National Security Council's Russia and Europe director, who is set to testify by the way on Thursday.
We will have more details on this for you tonight as we continue on here.
And as the impeachment inquiry has expanded, arguments of President Trump and his supporters have been using in an attempt to derail the investigation have really fallen by the wayside one by one. They keep falling by the wayside.
So, there will be another strategy tomorrow as one of them gets knocked down, and then one falls by the wayside, and then another one gets knocked down, and falls by the wayside, and they come up with another strategy.
First, they try to cast doubt on the whistleblower, right? Remember that? But Vindman's testimony supports the complaint that the whistleblower sent to Congress back in August. The whistleblower expressing concerns that the president was abusing his office by pressuring a foreign government to dig up dirt on a political opponent.
Remember what some Republicans said about the complaint? They used -- it was the hearsay argument.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN THUNE (R-SD): I went back yesterday and actually read what was said, and there is. There's a lot of secondhand information, a lot of sort of hearsay -- not hearsay but in the sense that it was passed on. It wasn't a direct conversation.
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): Did he talk to the president?
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: He talked to Ambassador Sondland who talked to the president.
GRAHAM: That's hearsay.
(END VIDEO CLIP) LEMON: You can find a bunch of those. Hearsay. Second, thirdhand. Well, now there's a witness to the phone call. So that argument goes away by the wayside. It's not hearsay anymore.
Then Republicans demanded to hear from the whistleblower. But this story has moved on so far and so fast since the whistleblower came forward, the White House's own transcript, Vindman, and most of the witnesses who have testified so far have backed up the information contained in the whistleblower's complaint.
Not only that, but they have offered up significant new information, evidence like text messages and talked about -- that talked about over conversations and meetings. Didn't even know about that from the whistleblower.
Then as the impeachment inquiry has expanded and picked up steam in the last few weeks, Republicans have been saying over and over and over again, right, well, they have to -- they got to take a House vote.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GRAHAM: To my Democratic colleagues, if you think this is a danger to our national security and this is an impeachable offense, you should have the courage of your convictions, and you should vote to open an impeachment inquiry by taking a vote, not talking about it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Senior Democrat leadership in the House is ignoring the founding principles of our democracy. We need the House to vote on this.
REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): They've now taken this process. They've gotten so much pressure because of the way they've been conducting the process. They're now attempting to sort of put a cloak of legitimacy around this process by saying they're going to bring it to a vote on the floor.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: I told you it keeps changing. Would you call that, like, moving the goal post? That would be moving the goal post, right? Yes. OK.
So Democrats agree. Now planning to vote by the full House on Thursday. Members will vote yes or no to formalize the procedures for the impeachment inquiry. That's what Republicans have been demanding, right? That's what they've been saying.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JIM JORDAN (R-OH): What the speaker is going -- planning to do with the vote on Thursday, it shows that they realize this process is completely unfair, completely partisan.
I think this is going to happen. Every single Republican will be voting against the resolution on Thursday.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: So first they wanted a vote, and now they're slamming it. They're slamming the vote. I guess that's politics. I don't know. While President Trump stands a very good chance of being impeached, some Republicans in Congress appear not to be taking this seriously. OK.
Congressman Ted Yoho of Florida is a member of the House foreign affairs committee, one of three committees hearing testimony from key witnesses behind closed doors. But he hasn't attended any of the depositions.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. TED YOHO (R-FL): I see these as kind of a sideshow because it's not -- it's not an official inquiry in impeachment. It is something that Nancy Pelosi started without a vote, and I know it's not constitutional that they have a vote, but it should follow the precedence that has been set in the last three impeachments.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Doesn't appear to want to know what witnesses are saying, does he? But he'll have a chance to vote on Thursday thanks to the House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi.
So, I just want to get back to Colonel Vindman, OK? Even before Colonel Vindman testified, some in the right-leaning media were doubting his patriotism. This exchange on Fox News, watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LAURA INGRAHAM, FOX NEWS HOST: Here we have a U.S. national security official who is advising Ukraine while working inside the White House, apparently against the president's interest and usually they spoke in English. Isn't that kind of an interesting angle on this story?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I find that astounding and, you know, some people might call that espionage.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: She didn't even believe that. Did you hear that? Here we have -- her voice went way up. Like what excuse can we make now? How can we soil this guy, sully his reputation, his credibility?
That is a smear of Vindman's good name, pure and simple. Former Republican Congressman Sean Duffy, who is a CNN contributor, argued during an appearance this morning on CNN that Vindman has an affinity towards Ukraine and that he is more concerned about Ukraine's defense than U.S. policy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEAN DUFFY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It seems very clear that he is
incredibly concerned about Ukrainian defense. I don't know that he's concerned about American policy, but his main mission was to make sure that the Ukraine got those weapons. I understand that.
We all have an affinity to our homeland where we came from. He has an affinity, I think, for the Ukraine. He speaks Ukrainian. He came from the country, and he wants to make sure they're safe and free.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: You remember Curiel, right? I told Chris. Couldn't do his job. He was born in America, but he was of Mexican descent. So, this guy is of Ukrainian descent. He can't be objective. Come on. Come on, man. Fortunately, other Republicans -- not enough, though -- were having none of this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MAJORITY LEADER: I'm not going to question the patriotism of any of the people who are coming forward.
CHENEY: We're talking about decorated veterans who have served this nation, who have put their lives on the line, and it is shameful to question their patriotism, their love of this nation, and we should not be involved in that process.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Senator Mitt Romney says he has full confidence in Colonel Vindman's patriotism.
Let's spell out exactly who this man is. He was born in Ukraine when that country was still part of the old Soviet Union. He and his family fled when he was three years old and were even a small part of a Ken Burns documentary in 1985 about immigration to America.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We came from Russia.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We came from Kiev and then we went to --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our mother died, so we went to Italy. Then we came here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Those willing to trash Colonel Vindman should know that he was awarded a Purple Heart for his service in Iraq after being wounded. A source close to him tells CNN that he still carries shrapnel from the attack inside his body now. Shame on you. Shame, shame, shame. Disgusting.
Just ahead, the impact of Colonel Vindman's testimony. Congressman Mike Quigley witnessed it. We'll hear from him next.
LEMON: Explosive testimony from Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman, the National Security Council official in charge of Ukraine policy.
Right to Congressman Mike Quigley now. Mike Quigley is an Illinois Democrat who is a member of the intelligence committee, and he heard Colonel Vindman's testimony. Thank you, Congressman. I appreciate you joining us.
I want to first ask you about this news from the Times is reporting that Colonel Vindman told investigators that in the third ellipses that we see in this rough transcript, it's there that President Trump, according to Vindman, specifically spoke about Biden and a recording of him talking about Ukraine. In your view, would that be a significant omission?
REP. MIKE QUIGLEY (D-IL): Unfortunately, I can't talk about exactly what he testified to other than to say I thought he was a straight shooter, and I think the fact that the White House immediately stuck this transcript, this tape into a secret server tells us that they can't be trusted with this kind of information and that we're going to have to get the original source here to find out exactly what took place.
LEMON: OK. So, listen, originally the White House told CNN that the ellipses, it says, do not indicate missing words or phrases. But this is not an exact transcript, so that issue -- what issues does that raise to you because they're saying it's not specific.
QUIGLEY: Yes. I think that the bottom line, you can't trust this White House. They've been in a conspiracy to obstruct this investigation from day one back to when it was just the Russian investigation. And we're going to have to get this evidence directly from other sources rather than trust the White House on a transcript or anybody else coming from the White House.
LEMON: Interesting. So, there's also this detail. Let me read it. It's from the Times. it says, "After the call, Colonel Vindman was given a hard copy of the rough transcript to make updates and corrections according to a person familiar with the matter. Colonel Vindman went through the transcript, made changes, gave his written edits to his boss, Mr. Morrison, according to the person."
Well, Timothy Morrison is expected to testify on Thursday. It sounds like a key question will be why some of Vindman's edits were made while two corrections were not. QUIGLEY: You know, it's a good point because every witness we have
builds upon another. They lead us to other questions and other witnesses that we should ask questions.
So obviously that's a great one for that upcoming witness. Undoubtedly, when he testifies, we will learn things we didn't before. All they do is corroborate what the original complaint said from the whistleblower, and they lead us to additional inquiries. At some point in time, though, you have to say, that's enough and pack it into articles of impeachment.
LEMON: Yes. So, listen, there's a lot going on with this. Can you tell us about this shouting match apparently that erupted after Democrats accused Republicans of trying to out the whistleblower? What happened?
QUIGLEY: Here's what I'll say. I'm very proud of the colonel and what he -- his service. But the attacks on him are nothing new. Look at what they did with Senator McCain and the special counsel.
There's a different kind of courage he exhibited throughout this process and what he did today as well as Ambassador Yovanovitch and Taylor and Dr. Hill and others. You know, at their own expense, not helping their career, they've come and spoken truth to power that what the President of the United States did was wrong, that it was wrong to muscle an ally for political gain.
And for whatever reasons -- I'm proud of them. I'm not particularly proud of my colleagues across the aisle because they will sully the reputations. They will work hand in glove with the president to obstruct this investigation, and frankly, there are times when you leave the SCIF after a day's testimony and the Republicans questioning and you need to take a shower.
LEMON: We'll leave it there. Thank you, Congressman. I appreciate you joining us.
QUIGLEY: Thank you.
LEMON: Smears and conspiracy theories. That's the president and his allies' latest tactic against incredibly damaging testimony against him. But some Republicans aren't on board this time. John Kasich weighs in. He's next.
LEMON: Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman facing smears from conservative commentators as a top Ukraine expert on the National Security Council delivers damning testimony on Capitol Hill.
Let's discuss now. I always love having you on. John Kasich. Well, sometimes. I'm kidding. Former Ohio Governor. He's a CNN Senior Political commentator. He's also the author of "It's Up to Us: Ten Little Ways That We Can Bring About Big Change." John, I do always love having you on. I love talking to you. So let's
talk about Vindman today being under attack from the president, his allies, some even questioning his Purple Heart -- this Purple Heart recipient's patriotism. Is this what we've come to, attacking a decorated veteran?
JOHN KASICH, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I mean, number one, you remember when Captain Khan's parents were attacked. You know, that was completely unbelievable. And then the attacks on McCain. I mean, the man has been dead now for a while, and there are still attacks on him.
And, you know, it's just -- imagine if you raised your kids this way and you taught them that you could just call names and do that. That's what people seem to forget. That's what they seem to forget, Don.
But, you know, to the point that I've been making for weeks with you which is the House needs to vote on an impeachment inquiry. They are going to do that and then you know what happens, then we have the public testimony.
And that is going to be very interesting to see how a guy like Colonel Vindman is perceived by the public, because all of a sudden, instead of it being behind closed-doors and we get reports and all that, people are going to see him in that uniform and hear what he has to say. And the thing that I thought was most significant of what he said is, he was concerned there was a national security risk, because risking the future of Ukraine is actually -- you know, are actually resulting in a risk to us. Very interesting.
LEMON: Well, let me ask you a couple things. We'll get to the testimony and all of that. But these attacks, they seem to hearken back to the McCarthy hearings in the '50s. McCarthy was seen as attacking the army in his efforts to root out communism, and his popularity sunk after that. Is there any sort of parallel here? Is that overreaching, or do you think it's fair?
KASICH: I don't know enough to comment on that, Don. I mean actually to be authority. But what I do believe is that when these attacks occur, people need to point out the seriousness of them, and they need to point out, is this the way that you want your children to behave or your grandchildren because people -- a lot of people just blows this off, Don.
LEMON: You've got Mitch McConnell and Liz Cheney. They're pushing back on these attacks against Vindman. Does that give you any hope?
KASICH: Yes. Yes, of course it does. I mean there's a lot of the members were saying this is absolutely uncalled for. I'm just trying to say to you in this thing we see now, the name-calling and the bullying -- and I think I told you the other day, there's a principal that I know who told me that, you know, they've seen bullying rise in the school. How would you like your kid to be bullied? I mean, sometimes we look at this from a distance, and the way we have look at it is this could involve my family.
You know, there's somebody bullying here, so now it's OK for your kid to go to school and bully somebody. Or what about the kid that's being bullied? This name-calling and this put down and this the way in which we're not treating human beings as legitimate and you know, worthy of having respect, come on. We know that's just crazy.
LEMON: But you've been saying the same thing since the campaign about calling Trump out on his bullying.
LEMON: So, listen, that's not nothing new, but nothing has seemed to change. If anything, it seems to have amped up. Can we talk about the substance of Vindman's testimony now?
LEMON: Some Republicans have claimed it doesn't change anything, or they just don't say -- or they just won't say anything at all, right? Is the GOP going to stick with this president no matter what, even if it -- despite the credibility of all the witnesses?
KASICH: I think, Don, you and I have talked about this too. It depends on where the public is. If you have a growing number of Republicans saying that this behavior is unacceptable and if you have growing numbers of independents -- I think independents are probably there -- then you're going to see Republicans looking out for themselves.
Right now what they're worried about is if I say something, you know, then people back home, they'll yell and scream at me, and I really don't want that trouble. So, you know, here's what changes, though, I think, Don, what could change things is when it's out in public. When a guy in a uniform or who has a Purple Heart says, I'm worried about the security of our country, and this was serious, and I've been worried about it, and I stuck my neck out.
Then all of a sudden people might look at this and say, you know, it is serious, because there's a lot of Republicans now -- and I heard Cuomo say this -- they just dismiss this. Everybody does it. Everybody tries to shakes somebody down. I told some guys today, I said, look, there isn't any question the president's put pressure on people.
But I am unaware of any president that says investigate my opponents and I'll give you your vital military aid. I'm just not aware that's happened. And if we say it's OK, then it sets a precedent for the future. We don't want that precedent. That is not healthy for our country.
LEMON: Well, part of that -- isn't that part of --
KASICH: I think the public hearings are critical.
LEMON: That's part of people who are the president's apologists and him making people think that everybody does it. Everybody doesn't do it. Every president doesn't do it. And if they did do it, it's still wrong. And so I have to ask you in this line of questioning that we're in now, earlier this month you changed your position and reluctantly decided -- you said it took you a while, and it was with heavy thought that you did it, with a whole lot of thought, I should say.
You decided to back impeachment, to go along -- you think the president -- the process should go along at least and see where the evidence leads. Considering what you've heard from these witnesses, what's your thinking now?
KASICH: Well, it's the same. I mean I didn't change my mind. I just said there was a process that I had to go through, and when the Chief of Staff basically said that there was a trade, and when we've got Taylor, who I think was a very -- Ambassador Taylor, very powerful testimony. I read all 15 pages of his testimony, and it was compelling.
And then you see a guy who was actually on the call who was alarmed. I mean what else is there to say? I happen to believe that he crossed the line. Some people look at it, and not just apologists. Some people look at it and say, eh, it's no big deal. I don't agree with them.
But we can't -- Don, you can't, I can't, no one can go and tell people this is how you have to think. I think you've got to have the hearings and see the evidence that comes out and see if people change. If the public starts changing, the politicians will start changing. Believe me, they will. I don't know whether it's going to change.
LEMON: Yes. Listen, this is what's so shocking to me, OK, about what happened today. I've got to run, and I'm going to get yelled at.
LEMON: But -- do you remember when Judge Curiel, the whole thing about Judge Curiel and the president, and he was deciding on the wall, and the president said he couldn't because he was -- he's Mexican, so he couldn't absolutely -- you know, he was biased.
KASICH: Couldn't be fair. Yes.
LEMON: We got to be honest. That's what they're saying today about Vindman. People are saying that because he is --
KASICH: That's just -- that's just so low.
LEMON: What is that?
KASICH: You know, the most compelling part I've seen of the show was I -- the most compelling part is when they showed that little boy sitting on the bench saying, my mother died, and we had to go to Italy. In the age of three he comes to the United States, gets a Purple Heart, serving in Iraq, and then somebody has the gall to belittle him. You know what, Don? At some point they have to answer for all that.
And maybe they're going to be answering it here, but somebody is going to say why did you do that, and why did you say that? And maybe their parents are going to ask them, why did you do that? Don't belittle the guy. And I give credit to some of the people who stood up and say it's not acceptable because it's not. It's ridiculous. It's absurd.
LEMON: Got to go. We'll talk soon.
KASICH: What else can I add?
LEMON: Thank you. That's it.
KASICH: See you, man. Thanks.
LEMON: See you next time. We'll be right back.
LEMON: So today the House rules committee released a resolution that the House will vote on Thursday to formalize the impeachment inquiry. So what are the rules for impeachment, and how will it all work? Lot to discuss. John Dean, Harry Litman both here. Gentlemen, hello. Thank you for appearing tonight.
HARRY LITMAN, FORMER DEPUTY ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL: Hello.
LEMON: John, I want to ask you about the Vindman testimony though today, about him testifying today. He says that in the third ellipses in the Trump/Zelensky transcript that President Trump asserts that there is a recording of Biden talking about Ukraine. Is this more proof that the Trump call was far from perfect, do you think?
JOHN DEAN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I think it is far from perfect even without filling in the ellipses. What we don't know is if he was some -- if he able in his testimony to give a little flavor of the president's attitude and tone in the whole thing, I suspect he was, and I expect that was one of the reasons he had the reactions he did.
But the fact that the ellipses do show substantive material is missing, to me, just is another reason to call for those documents, to get more of that material they have available at the White House. They have apparently an actual full transcript that they were able to recreate.
LEMON: Harry, I just want to read from the rough transcript where the third ellipses are appears. It says, Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution, so if you can look into it, it sounds horrible to me. The original explanation on the ellipses from a senior White House official was, quote, the ellipses do not indicate missing words or phrases. So the question is, if Vindman, the decorated military vet, testifying under oath, is correct, the White House official lied or was mistaken. No? LITMAN: Yes, that's right. So it's not simply that it's further
substantiates the basic line that started with the whistle-blower complaint and has been repeatedly verified. It's a separate obstruction and potential crime. Remember, it's hidden away in the classified, you know, computer system, which it should not have been. It's a whole other problem, and I think there are some witnesses coming forward this week who will speak to it. But they, again, like other people after Vindman's testimony today, especially Sondland, are separately in the soup.
LEMON: Well, John, we now have the texts from Thursday's impeachment resolution that lays out how the inquiry will play out. For one thing, we'll start to have open hearings. And you know firsthand the power that that can have. What will that mean for President Trump?
DEAN: It's not something he really wants. While he's been complaining that they're doing everything in the basement of the House office building, doing it in secret, this is not going to be in the basement. This will be on national television. These witnesses who have been in the SCIF during the preliminary or executive sessions, this is just kind of like trailers, Don. They've given samples of their opening statements, and the movie's coming. It's not going to be one that Trump wants the Americans to see. So I think it's going to be devastating.
LEMON: Harry, these rules will also give House Republicans a chance to request testimony and documents. However, though, if, for example, Schiff objects, it would go up for a vote to the full Democratic-led committee for a vote. Is this fair, you think -- this process?
LITMAN: That's the one point that, you know, it's the same as it was in '98 for Clinton. You know, that is a little heavy-handed, but, look, I think objectively they need some protection if the House Republicans try to just go gonzo here and make a circus of it or the White House does itself and obstructs things. And I think that's the basic idea.
But they'll probably get their information. I think the big thing here is the provision for 45 minutes of questioning in advance by a staff member, i.e., by a lawyer. So that should cut through the whole circus of the five-minute back-and-forth. They'll have the circus at the end, but to have a lawyer boring down and having the transcript from the depositions to work with, that's gold. That's just what's been missing to date, and it will be really illuminating.
LEMON: Harry, John, thank you so much. I appreciate it.
The Obamas speaking out today. What they're saying about racism in the country and being politically woke.
[22:45:00] LEMON: Well, the former president and first lady, Barack and Michelle
Obama holding their third annual Obama Foundation summit in Chicago earlier today. They took audience questions and spoke about empowering the next generation of leaders. They also talked about racism and how to be effective political activists. Let's discuss now. Charles Blow is here, Jen Psaki as well. So good to have both of you on. Thank you so much.
JEN PSAKI, FORMER OBAMA WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: Good to be here.
LEMON: Jen, the former president talked about being a little too pious about politics. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This idea of purity and you're never compromised and you're always politically woke and all that stuff, you should get over that quickly. The world is messy. There are ambiguities. People who do really good stuff have flaws. Like, if I tweet or hash tag about how you didn't do something right or used the world wrong verb or then I can sit back and feel pretty good about myself. Because man, you see how woke I was. I called you out.
I got to get on TV. Watch my show. Watch grown-ish. You know, that's not -- that's not activism. That's not bringing about change.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Who's that message for? Is that a message for Democrats right there, Jen?
PSAKI: I think in part. And people running, but also certainly for the Party. You know, I think at times the reaction to Donald Trump has been to kind of put out these purity tests that say if you don't meet these bars, if you're not with me on every single issue and you don't check every single box, then you can't be a part of the Party.
It is good to have big dreams and big aspirations and I work for Barack Obama for 10 years. There are a lot of things like making a deal with Iran and healthcare, Obamacare, that nobody thought was possible. That's important and to be a part of what the Democratic Party stands for.
But if we are launching purity tests and saying you can't be a part of us, we are going to have such a small Party. That we are not going to be able to win. You know, I think, what I was so great to see them out there and I'm biased I know, but it was kind of soothing and at the age of Trump, to hear them out there and see them out and you know, he govern -- governing is not about saying, you don't agree with me and you can't be a part of the conversation. That was important I think for people to hear, because governing, especially is about compromise. And about not letting the perfect be the enemy of the good. LEMON: All right, let's bring Charles in. Charles, I want to play
this. This is from the former first lady, talking really candidly about racism and discrimination. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHELLE OBAMA, FORMER FIRST LADY OF THE U.S.: I can't make people not afraid of black people. I don't know what's going on. I can't explain what's happening in your head. But maybe if I show up every day as a human, a good human, doing wonderful things and loving my family. Loving your kids. Taking care of things that I care about -- maybe just maybe, that work will pick away at the scabs of your discrimination.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Imagine having achieved becoming the first lady and still having to deal with that. You know, what she is saying, like --
Black folks feel that responsibility.
CHARLES BLOW, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Right. I don't. And I find centering someone else opinion of you a tremendous waste of your time. I kind of live by the late Toni Morrison's concept that the, you know, the great kind of bad part about racism is it's a distraction.
It keeps you explaining things that don't need to be explained and every moment that I spin trying to get you to change something about you is a moment that I taking away from loving my family, from being part of my career. From reading a good book. Whatever I want to do that was edifying for me and my community and my family.
You have to stop at some point. Centering the person -- the racist person and putting energy into changing that person' mind. That's a double oppression. Asking the oppressed to fix the flaw of the oppressor is another oppression. You have to come out of that and say to yourself, I'm sufficient. I do not need to explain to you. I do not need to drag a person who is reluctant out of a cave and into the light.
LEMON: Yes. It's not incumbent on the oppressor to teach the oppressed.
LEMON: The oppressed to teach the oppressor. And I do think whether I agree with what Toni Morrison said and your thing on that that that is something that a lot of African Americans feel like, if I don't do it who's going to teach them.
BLOW: But I want you, put it in its frame. Think about for 400 years all the time and energy black people has spent trying to train out the racism out of white people. Trying to demonstrate that I am good enough. That you know, I'm smart enough. That I'm a good person. I'm not pathologically flawed. And think about all that time and energy and what it could have been used for otherwise.
LEMON: Yes. It was, Jen, I have to agree with you, it was interesting to see them out there. You don't have to be bias for that, but just -- people who are speaking good who are actually trying to -- not trying to be best, but are actually living their best lives and teaching others to do it as well and not dividing people. And they can actually formulate a sentence. It was --
PSAKI: That's nice and refreshing, isn't it?
LEMON: It's refreshing. Thank you both.
PSAKI: Yes, thank you.
LEMON: We'll be right back.