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Sources: White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney Was Briefed About Baghdadi Raid After It was Over; Pentagon Releases New Video of U.S. Forces Closing in on ISIS Leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi. Aired on 7-8p ET

Aired October 30, 2019 - 19:30   ET


ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next breaking news, the top White House Ukraine expert testified, he was convinced of a quid pro quo between Trump and Ukraine even before that infamous phone call. This is John Bolton that says no way to a voluntary deposition before Congress. And Trump's hand-picked Ambassador to Russia breaks with the President. What he's saying under oath tonight? Plus, Mick Mulvaney, out of the loop. Why did Trump's Chief of Staff learn about the raid that killed the head of ISIS only after it was over? Let's go out front.

And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett. OUTFRONT tonight the breaking news, it was personal. The top White House Ukraine expert testified to impeachment investigators that he was convinced President Trump was personally blocking military aid to Ukraine, specifically to force Ukraine's President to publicly announce an investigation into Joe Biden and his family.

This comes from two sources in the room of Colonel Alexander Vindman. He, of course, said this under oath, his under oath testimony. In other words, it was not people assuming what Trump wanted and taking action based on those assumptions. No. It wasn't that. It was Trump, personally, clearly, explicitly directing the situation. Personally and for a very specific reason.

It was a quid pro quo of military aid in an exchange for an investigation into Joe Biden, not what President Trump says was the reason he withheld aid.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: My complaint has always been and I withhold again and I'll continue to withhold until such time as Europe and other nations to contribute to Ukraine.


BURNETT: Well, that reason just doesn't add up. It does not fit with now what at least four people have testified under oath. And because what Trump was doing was wrong, Vindman, Colonel Vindman, testified that those closes to the President appealed to him directly to stop.

Again, according to two sources who were in the room for Vindman's under oath testimony, Vindman told lawmakers that over the summer, then National Security Adviser John Bolton asked Vindman to draft a memo. And in this memo, Vindman was to layout, to urge Trump to release the military aid to Ukraine.

Then, Bolton took that memo, travelled on August 16th to the President's Bedminster resort with the Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and the Secretary of Defense, the Acting Secretary Mark Esper. All of them to make a case to the President personally to stop. And guess what, he personally rejected their plea.

Vindman is now the fourth person to testify under oath that broke Bolton was livid about a quid pro quo of military aid in exchange for investigations into Trump's political rivals. All of this underscores just how crucial Bolton's testimony is, because Bolton spoke directly and repeatedly to the President.

There is no middleman, there is no assumption. And now, House investigators have scheduled a date for Bolton to testify under oath behind closed doors. So is President Trump worried that his former National Security Adviser could bring his presidency down?

So far the track record is administration official after official defying the President's demand to stay silent. Two more State Department officials today spending hours behind closed doors with impeachment investigators. Manu Raju is out front live on Capitol Hill tonight.

And Manu, obviously the big question here is they've now invited Bolton to testify, how likely is it that he will actually do so, that he will actually appear and testify under oath?

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's anybody's guess right now here on Capitol Hill, the attorney for John Bolton just put out a statement saying that he would appear with a subpoena but it's not clear if that means if he got the subpoena, if he would actually appear.

Now, also we talked to Adam Schiff, the House Intelligence Committee Chairman, about whether or not they will in fact issue a subpoena. He said that he hope said that Bolton will cooperate, but when asked if he would actually do so issue a subpoena, he declined to comment.

Another top chairman of this committee effort, this impeachment inquiry, Eliot Engel told me that it's something that they would consider issuing a subpoena, but I can assure you that will probably happen in the coming days. The question is if he will defy that, yes or no, come next week in the scheduled testimony date.

Now, also behind closed doors, Democrats have invited John Eisenberg who is the National Security Council attorney to come and testify, and his testimony could also be significant, because he's an individual who we've heard concerns about the President's efforts to urge the Ukrainian government, to investigate the Bidens, Vindman himself went to John Eisenberg to raise concerns.

The question is what did Eisenberg do afterwards when he heard those concerns that were raised. Also, Erin, this is coming at the tail end of what we expect to be the end of these closed or depositions before Democrats move into the more public phase of their inquiry.


We are told from a source familiar with the matter that Bill Taylor, the President's top diplomat, the U.S. diplomat in Ukraine is willing to testify publicly and we remember what he said behind closed doors from the statement that came out publicly, he was concerned and he was told the President had ordered - who wanted the Ukrainian government to announce those investigations that could help the President politically before moving forward on other efforts including releasing stalled military aid that could help Ukraine deter Russian aggression, so perhaps we could see that in a public setting, Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Manu, thank you very much. And I want to go now to someone who's been inside the room for all of the impeachment depositions thus far, Democratic Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi. He sits on both the House Intelligence and the Oversight Committees.

Congressman, I appreciate your time tonight. I want to ask you about John Bolton, but first I want to ask you about Colonel Vindman's deposition because you were there. We understand Vindman said he was convinced trump was personally withholding military aid in order to force Ukraine's President to publicly announce that investigation into Joe Biden.

Now, Vindman though does say, he's very explicit in his prepared remarks that he never had direct contact with the President. Is there anything more that you need to know to be sure that his perception is accurate?

REP. RAJA KRISHNAMOORTHI (D-IL): Well, I think I can't comment in a specific testimony except what you saw in his opening statement is very consistent with what we've seen from other witnesses. I think we're going to continue to learn more about what Colonel Vindman said, for instance, from Mr. Morrison tomorrow, his superior at the National Security Council and others.

But I do think that everything I've seen has been consistent with the whistleblower's allegations and the substance of it is very simple which is that military aid and assistance to the Ukraine as well as a meeting at the White House between Zelensky and Trump were premised on bogus investigations being conducted against President Trump's domestic rivals and that's very, very serious as you know.

BURNETT: So, yes, now John Bolton again from what we understand Vindman said went to Bedminster, right, so President when he was there in his August break, went there personally along with the Secretary of State and the Acting Secretary of Defense to personally try to get Trump to release the aid to Ukraine, to stop what he was doing. Vindman testifies he wrote the memo for Bolton. Bolton was rejected directly by the President.

I know you're not going to comment on the exact testimony, but let's just assume that our reporting here is this is what happened in the room where you were, what would it tell you about how determined Trump was to withhold the aid if indeed he is directly approached by his Secretary of Defense, his National Security Adviser and his Secretary of State and he turned them down?

KRISHNAMOORTHI: It's deeply disturbing. You have basically the secretaries of what they call the interagency process which is involved with the Ukraine, namely the State Department, the Defense Department and the National Security Adviser are all imploring the president to do what is in the country's best interests, America's best interests which is to supply this aid to the Ukraine to help it defend itself against Russia.

So if Trump isn't listening to them, his foreign policy and defense advisors, then he must be listening to somebody else and this foreign policy is being done not in the best interest of the country but in the best interest of someone else. And here we learned that Rudy Giuliani from every witness at this point is running a shadow foreign policy, which is basically in the best interest of his clients, people like Donald Trump but also others who may be foreign actors. So this is disturbing to say the least.

BURNETT: All right. So look a lot of this is going to come down to your next round of witnesses and we're learning from a source that the committee has asked John Bolton to testify behind closed doors, his attorney is telling CNN tonight he will not appear without a subpoena. But it's not even clear that he would show up even if he were subpoenaed. I mean he could say executive privilege, he could try to fight this in court. Others have been told not to appear that you guys subpoena them and they show up. Bolton may well absolutely not do that.

So this is a really important question, because he's at the heart of it, personal conversations with the President repeatedly. We know that from all of the other testimony, he didn't like this at all. It smelled terrible to him. He didn't like it. Will you fight Bolton in court to get him to testify no matter how long it takes?

KRISHNAMOORTHI: Y. I don't want to get ahead of my Chairman, Adam Schiff on this particular issue. But what you're bringing up is extremely important because on this one issue I didn't think I would ever agree with John Bolton on anything, but on this particular issue he raised strenuous and strong objections to Rudy Giuliani conducting this irregular foreign policy.

And I think that witness after witness especially in their opening statements has said that John Bolton instructed them to basically put up a resistance or go to the lawyers or do something to basically get our foreign policy back on track with the Ukraine. So I think he's a very important witness, potentially.


BURNETT: Are you concerned that Bolton's issue is with Rudy Giuliani and not with the President? What I'm getting at is are you confident that his testimony would indeed back that this was the President of the United States personally demanding a quid pro quo at the cost of the country to help himself personally? Are you sure that Bolton would back that up? KRISHNAMOORTHI: I can't be confident about his testimony. Honestly, I want to hear what he has to say. However, what we can be confident about is that he was kind of at the center or the Nexus of the White House, the State Department, the Defense Department and other agencies who are basically trying to get our foreign policy where it needs to be which is to assist Ukraine as Congress appropriated money to Ukraine and basically to remove the hold that had been placed in the summer of this year on aid to the Ukraine for reasons that we've talked about before.

BURNETT: All right. Well, Congress Krishnamoorthi, I appreciate your time tonight.

KRISHNAMOORTHI: Thank you, Erin.

BURNETT: Thank you, sir.


BURNETT: And next, the President's hand-picked nominee to be the next ambassador of Russia breaks with Trump.


JOHN SULLIVAN, AMBASSADOR TO RUSSIA NOMINEE: Soliciting investigations into a domestic political opponent, I don't think that would be in accord with our values.


BURNETT: That's Trump's nominee. Plus sources tell CNN Trump's Acting Chief of Staff did not know that the raid to kill ISIS leader al-Baghdadi was underway. He found out after the operation. Why was he out of the loop? And voters in a crucial swing state, we spoke to them on election day in 2016.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Aren't you excited for the female president?




BURNETT: So what are they saying now?



BURNETT: Breaking news, the White House fights back against its own tonight taking issue with White House Ukraine expert, Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman's testimony. Vindman who is fast becoming one of the most crucial witnesses in the impeachment inquiry thus far was listening in on the call, that write the infamous call between President Trump and President Zelensky.

Vindman testified that the White House transcript of the call left out what he considered to be key details, which included trumps mention of Joe Biden on tape. Now, then Vindman testified that he tried unsuccessfully to correct the transcript before it was released to the public. Now, the White House is slamming back.

Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham tonight saying, "President Trump released a full and accurate transcript of his call with President Zelensky so the American people could see he acted completely appropriately and did nothing wrong. The media is reporting that Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman claims he proposed filling in words that were missing in areas where ellipses were shown in the transcript - this is false."

Oh, the mystery of the ellipses. So out front now former New Jersey Attorney General Anne Milgram, Tim Naftali who was the Director of the Nixon Library, Greg Brower Assistant Director at the FBI and a Republican State Senator in Nevada and our Senior Political Reporter Nia Malika Henderson.

So Anne, first of all, OK, the transcript that the White House did release included the President of Ukraine bringing up military aid and Trump responding first a favor.


BURNETT: OK? And then talking about the favor, so that's it right there and they put that out there, but then they take other things out and don't admit it. What is this?

MILGRAM: Yes. I mean, it's a complicated thing to figure out because it's strange that they would leave in the word favor, which clearly implies that the President was asking for something in exchange for something else which he also told us publicly after that conversation was released that he was doing. What happened with Vindman and what's really interesting is it's very clear to me that he took notes, that he was a part of that call and he recorded something for him to then go to the NSC lawyer and say there's a mistake in the memorandum because they don't say it's an explicit transcript. No one ever says it's an explicit transcript.

For him to go back and say there are words missing shows me that he took notes, he believed there was a problem and he raised it to his superior.

BURNETT: And to him they thought the important as we've pointed out, Vindman went to the Chief Counsel twice for the NSC to raise concerns that he had, which is a very big deal as he emphasizes as an active- duty military member, he takes the chain of command extremely seriously. So he is speaking out against the commander in chief in so doing.

Greg, here's the thing. Anne says that it was not a direct transcript, well we know that, but that is not what, of course, the President said. For weeks, he has told us this about that transcript. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: They tried to take that conversation and make it into a big scandal. The problem was we had it transcribed. It was an exact transcription of the conversations.

We have a very, very word-for-word report of what I said.

I had a transcript done by very, very talented people, word-for-word, comma-for-comma.


BURNETT: Greg, I'm word-for-word, comma-for-comma or not to the extent that someone brings it to the Chief Counsel for the NSC, whom do you believe?

GREG BROWER, FORMER FBI ASSISTANT DIRECTOR: Well, Erin, this has been a pet peeve of mine since this summary was released and it's just that. The pet peeve I'm talking about is that it's not a transcript and people sort of generically refer to it as a transcript. As a longtime litigator, that drives me crazy because a transcript is a word-for-word literal transcription of everything that is said during a proceeding.

BURNETT: It's what the President just said, it was, except for it wasn't.

BROWER: Exactly. And so to the extent it's just a summary or more than a summary, I guess, but to the extent, some words are left out. It is not a verbatim transcript. Presumably, a verbatim transcript or recording does exist.


And that's why it's awfully curious that the President spokesperson would be saying that she's absolutely sure it's a word-for-word transcription, because if an actual verbatim transcript does exist it's going to be awfully easy to fill in those missing words.

BURNETT: And, Nia, here's the thing, OK, when you read the summary of the transcript, Greg is right, it gets short-handed, Trump is quoted talking about Biden, a lot of talk about Biden's son, the Biden stop the prosecution and a lot of people want to find out about that. So whatever you can do, it continues, blah blah blah.

So if you can look into it, dot-dot-dot, OK, I put the yellow on there, the dot-dot-dot. According to the New York Times that dot-dot- dot is where Vindman says Trump brought up the alleged Biden tapes. It is one of three places where ellipses exists in the transcript and everybody noticed this to begin with.

The White House was asked, Stephanie Grisham said, "The ellipses do not indicate missing words or phrases. They refer to a trailing off of a voice or pause. If there were missing words or phrases, they would be represented by brackets or redactions." I mean look, Nia, again the word favor is in there, the core of this is still in there, but that is like that is just such an explicit and blatant lie.

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: Yes. And this is this White House and it obviously comes from the top, from Donald Trump who over and over again, as you showed there, does refer to this as a word-for-word transcript. On the actual memo of the call, it says it's essentially a memo of the call that is not a word-for-word transcript.

So what Stephanie Grisham says, what the President says, they don't have a lot of credibility on this. Stephanie Grisham doesn't have a lot of credibility. She is speaking for a president who doesn't have a lot of credibility, so you sort of have to put what they say in that context and their word goes against obviously what Vindman is saying, somebody who was so concerned about the way this transcript was handled, that he wanted to set the record straight and fill in some of the blanks here.

Listen, what he's filling in doesn't really change the nature of what was going on, this ask from the President to a foreign leader to interfere in an American election.

BURNETT: I guess, Tim, help us square the circle, OK, because this is in a sense it seems like they're blatantly lying about something that there's no need to lie about, because they left the most damning part in there, OK? But when you look at Nixon, the initial transcripts that he released of his conversations in the Oval Office, they were incomplete. He acted as if they were complete. They were incomplete and that incomplete nature was extremely significant.

TIM NAFTALI, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Extremely significant. I've been watching the President's behavior and there are times when I think President Trump, thanks to Giuliani and others, is trying not to make the mistakes that Richard Nixon made. He has in this case made exactly the same mistake that Richard Nixon made.

Richard Nixon is the one who edited the transcripts, we know this. He went with a pen and said, nope, nope, nope. He kept in the part where he's talking to John Dean and says we can fine $500,000. He kept that in, but he took other things out.

Why did this matter? Because the House impeachment committee, Republicans and Democrats, got to hear the actual tape and they saw what was missing and it really affected the Republicans. The Republicans thought, "What? Why is the White House doing this?"

And so I say that this is a big deal. I think that even though this doesn't change the narrative, it's proof of a cover-up and my next question is who redacted the summary. We might be surprised by the answer.

BURNETT: Well, that is going to be a crucial question, because obviously the President has been so explicit that it's comma-for- comma, word-for-word as we just said, Anne. And, look, it comes with the understanding, Jake's reporting from two sources in the room of Vindman's testimony that he was convinced that Trump was personally blocking the aid in exchange for a public announcement of these investigations.

At first he had thought it was just linked to getting a meeting and then he became convinced that it was explicitly about the investigations and the aid.

MILGRAM: This is so important. So Jake Tapper's reporting is that July 10th, this is essentially two weeks before that call, Vindman is convinced that there's a quid pro quo with the meeting, that Ukraine wants a meeting with the President and he will not agree unless the investigations are started. And so he's chronicling this through that call into the point where in August he's in the room with the meetings that we've heard about between Sondland and the Ukrainians and Fiona Hill was there.

So he's chronicling essentially a month of conduct where he from very early on believes that the President is asking, is putting pressure incorrectly ...

BURNETT: And we should point out, it completely corroborates what Taylor testified to.

MILGRAM: Completely.

BURNETT: I mean, the exact thing that first they thought it was just linked to the meeting and then it became clear to them it was linked (inaudible) ...

MILGRAM: But Vindman is in the room and he's in the room with Sondland and the Ukrainians, so he gives us this part of the story just corroborated that is critically important for showing what the President was really doing.


BURNETT: All right. All of you stay with me. Next, sources telling CNN the President's Acting Chief of Staff was briefed on the al- Baghdadi raid after it was done. After? Why? Plus, the President said al-Baghdadi was whimpering and crying in his last moments. Again, a top Defense official today asked about that.


MARK MILLEY, ARMY GENERAL: I'm not able to confirm anything else about his last seconds. I just can't confirm that one way or another.




BURNETT: New tonight, out of the loop. Sources confirming to CNN that President Trump's Acting Chief of Staff, Mick Mulvaney, was in the dark on the raid against the ISIS leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, as it was being carried out.


One official saying he was only briefed on the raid as soon as it concluded and this is pretty incredible, right? This is the chief of staff. There's questions about his future and the president has been frustrated with him. He is the guy, right? He is the guy who said there was a quid pro quo and get over it.

Jeremy Diamond is OUTFRONT.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This was the big one. This is the biggest one.

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): To President Trump, it was a crowning foreign policy accomplishment.

TRUMP: Capturing or killing Baghdadi has been the top national security priority of my administration.

DIAMOND: But as the president gave the order to kill or capture the ISIS leader, his chief of staff Mick Mulvaney was not in Washington, and didn't even know the raid was under way. He was briefed after it ended.

Instead, the history books will show only the vice president, defense secretary, national security adviser and top military brass huddled in the Situation Room, watching as the raid unfolded.

Bill Daley, White House chief of staff during the 2011 raid that killed Osama bin Laden was just step away from Obama. White House officials said Mulvaney was home in South Carolina dealing with a family matter without access to secure communications. Two senior administration officials say Mulvaney was not involved in the planning, but knew the Baghdadi operation was in the works.

He was filled in as soon as it ended one of the officials said, adding that it did want affect Mulvaney's success.

Mulvaney's absence comes as he faces endless rumors about his fate as chief of staff after he admitted Trump engaged in a quid pro quo with Ukraine.

MICK MULVANEY, ACTING WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: Did he also mention to me in the past the corruption related to the DNC server? Absolutely, no question about that and that's it. That's why we held up the money.

REPORTER: It is funding will not flow unless the investigation into the Democratic server happened, as well.

DIAMOND: Before attempting to walk it back.

MULVANEY: Can I say how people took that the wrong way? Absolutely, but I never said there was a quid pro quo because there isn't.

DIAMOND: Those comments left Trump frustrated according to a source close to the president and Mulvaney on shaky ground.

Another source close to Trump said he has no plans to fire Mulvaney and multiple officials say Mulvaney is at Trump's side during most White House meetings.

Mulvaney's approach to the job could be his saving grace. He has abandoned General John Kelly's guardrail methods, instead adopting the let Trump be Trump mantra. Something Kelly warned could get Trump in trouble.

JOHN KELLY, FORMER WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: I said, whatever you do, don't -- don't hire a yes man. Someone that's going to tell you -- won't tell you the truth. Don't do that because if you do, I believe you'll be impeached.


DIAMOND: Erin, tonight White House Deputy Secretary Press Secretary Hogan Gidley tells me in a statement: Mick has done a good job implementing the president's policies at OMB and as acting chief of staff. When the president doesn't have confidence in someone, you'll know it.

And, Erin, while there's no indication that Mulvaney will be fired, I did speak with one official close to Mulvaney who said, look, I don't know if we would know if that is the case -- Erin.

BURNETT: And that is a fair point if past is any precedent. Thank you so much, Jeremy.

And everyone is now back with me.

So, Nia, the chief of staff is an incredibly powerful and important position in this country. This person should be the gatekeeper and the protector for the president, the voice. What does it is that Mulvaney was not briefed about the raid, the head of ISIS, the biggest raid of Trump's presidency until it was over?

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: Yes, I mean, he is the figure who is out of the loop, right? If you think about the prior chief of staff that the president had, one being Reince Priebus who he nicknamed Reincy, I believe, and John Kelly, and Reincy probably was a bit more like Mick Mulvaney in that this is a president that doesn't necessarily see those folks Mick Mulvaney as people who have the kind of stature that he would like to see in a factor that he would then, you know, offer respect to that person. John Kelly is obviously someone he probably did respect.

So, listen, Mick Mulvaney has been acting chief of staff for a very long time. That I think suggests how the White House feels about him. He is now crucial to this investigation and this impeachment inquiry and, of course, made what some thought was an admission at the White House when he said there was a quid pro quo. So, we'll see what happens.

But listen, the president has all of the top jobs at the White House, right? Not only the president. He is the key spokesman. He is also his own chief of staff, so stay or go, I don't think it necessarily matters because Mick Mulvaney, you know, he's been a bit of a weak chief of staff.

BURNETT: So, Greg, I want to play again what Trump's former chief of staff John Kelly said because it's important just to listen to how he puts the emphasis on this.


Here he is.


KELLY: I said, whatever you do, don't hire a yes man, someone that's going to tell you -- won't tell you the truth. Don't do that because if you do, I believe you'll be impeached.


BURNETT: Greg, and here we are. He's got a yes man and he does not seem to offer him the basic respect that he should.

GREG BROWER, FORMER FBI ASSISTANT DIRECTOR, FORMER GOP STATE LAWMAKER: Yes. This is problematic and look, in Washington, sometimes it's better to not be in the loop, but not when you're the chief of staff with respect to an operation like this, and you know, technically, the White House chief of staff is, of course, not in the chain of command when it comes to military operations, and that is the president and then the secretary of defense and then the uniformed military leaders, but tradition and common sense would dictate that for something like this, the vice president is in the loop, the White House chief of staff and perhaps the White House counsel and others, and so the fact that he wasn't, it's not good for Mick Mulvaney combined with all of the other things that are happening and in particular that press conference that we've been talking about.

BURNETT: And, Anne, you know, look, it does, the press conference and Mulvaney is a key player in the Ukraine probe and according to Taylor. He's the one that directed the OMB to withhold the aid. He's there and he's with the president and he's passing on that command and he said there was a quid pro quo and get over it. So, now, all of a sudden, if he is left out and if he is scorned, could he turn on the president?

ANNE MILGRAM, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: You know, it's an interesting question, but I'm highly skeptical that he'll turn and the reason why having been a local, federal and state prosecutor is that people usually turn when they're staring down the barrel of a crime, of basically going to jail or prison and there's a huge incentive for them to become cooperators. Right now, I just don't see that Mulvaney has that incentive to cooperate with the investigation and so I would expect him to not cooperate for as long as he possibly can. And then, you know, whether it's a really interesting question if anyone in the Trump world begins to cooperate, Mulvaney would not be the first, but what happens to the rest of the folks. A lot of times you see it's like dominos when one person comes forward it's very untenable to say.

BURNETT: And it's interesting you say that because Bolton is not going to appear without a subpoena if even then, but you have so many others, career civil servants, military, who have come out and spoken the truth, defying this president, and now, you have the man who President Trump has nominated to be the next ambassador to Russia, OK? This is Trump's pick, he appears in Congress today and he is asked specifically if the president uses his office to get a probe to solicit a probe into a political rival, would that be OK? And let me just play for you what happened.


SEN. BOB MENENDEZ (D-NJ): Do you think it's ever appropriate for the president to use his office to solicit investigations into a domestic, political opponent?

JOHN SULLIVAN, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO RUSSIA NOMINEE: Soliciting investigations into a domestic political opponent -- I don't think that would be in accord with our values.


JOHN NAFTALI, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: And who is this man? This is Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan. He was acting secretary of state when Tillerson was fired. He is the president's choice to replace Jon Huntsman in Moscow. He's not a never Trumper and he's reminding Americans was values of our civil service, and of our professional foreign service.

This is a great, this is a learning moment for a lot of Americans. He is making it clear. He is thinking beyond the Trump presidency. He's thinking about American values and American national security and you just don't do this if you want to protect our national security.

You do not mix domestic political matter, your re-election with our national security, and he made it clear under oath because he remembers who he's working for. He's working for the American people and not the president.

BURNETT: I thought it was an incredible moment, because he could have said I don't answer hypotheticals and there are many who would have, but he did not and he answered that question honestly.

Thank you all very much.

Next, new video tonight of the mission that killed the ISIS leader al- Baghdadi and the moments before Baghdadi died and we have a couple of crucial pieces of footage here. We're going to break that down.

Plus, Pennsylvania helped Trump win the White House. What are even some Democrats there now saying about impeachment?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We've already gone pretty far into this presidency. So do we really want to spend the last time of it impeaching someone who may or may not be elected again?




BURNETT: Breaking news. The Pentagon has just released newly declassified video of the raid that killed ISIS leader Abu Bakr al Baghdadi. So, the video, what you're looking at here is the compound, U.S. forces are closing in on Baghdadi's compound and you can see the little black shapes is U.S. forces moving toward it. This is just moments before Baghdadi was cornered in an underground tunnel where he detonated his suicide vest, killing himself and two children.

OUTFRONT now, Bob Baer, former CIA operative and CNN intelligence and security analyst, spent a lot of time, obviously, in northern Syria.

So, Bob, I want to take a closer video of what you have and you have people on the ground firing at U.S. forces. We understand that the people on the ground firing at U.S. forces were not affiliated with ISIS, but these forces are approaching Baghdadi's compound and then you see the air strikes come down as sort of the series of five to seven explosions from supporting U.S. helicopters. You know, even more than that, a lot more than that.

It appears the element of surprise, obviously is gone. I mean, this is -- there's an incredible amount of fire power before they even get to the compound where Baghdadi is then waiting.

ROBERT BAER, CNN INTELLIGENCE AND SECURITY ANALYST: Yes, exactly, Erin. That was what's called a combat entry when you have people on the other side of the wall expecting you and firing back. It's very, very dangerous because doors are funnels, bullet funnels. So they had apparently to breach the wall which in itself you have to have the right amount of explosives and it slows the operation down.


And then once the guys are through the breach then you expect a real fire fight. So this is really a dicey operation, and I tell you, it speaks to Delta Force's capabilities. Probably the best trained military unit in the world. It is the best trained, and the fact that they got in there without any wounded or dead is just quite amazing.

BURNETT: I mean, it is pretty incredible. You also think about the targeting, the exact targeting of those air strikes, right? Coming from, you know, you look at that and you think, my gosh, all of that's coming from above it could kill the friendly forces and of course, it did not, as you point out. Look, so then they get in, right? And then that is where, you know,

they find this tunnel and Baghdadi is there and he detonates his own suicide vest. So it is those final moments where the president has repeatedly talked about what Baghdadi did.

Here is President Trump.


TRUMP: He didn't die a hero. He died a coward, crying, whimpering, screaming. He was whimpering, screaming and crying. He was screaming, crying and whimpering, and he was scared out of his mind.


BURNETT: Rob O'Neill, who, you know, was the Navy SEAL who killed Osama bin Laden told me that didn't add up to him. He thought that you had your vest on you're ready and it would be Allah Akbar and not whimpering and crying, but no official has publicly backed what the president said.

Here's the head of U.S. Central Command today when he was asked about Trump's words.


GENERAL FRANK MCKENZIE, COMMANDER, U.S. CENTRAL COMMAND: I can tell you this, he crawled into a hole with two small children and blew himself up while his people stayed on the ground. You can deduce what kind of person he is based on that activity. So, that would be just my empirical observation of what he did. I'm nota able to confirm anything about his last seconds. I just can't confirm anything one way or another.


BURNETT: Bob, what do you make of it? I mean, what do you make if none of them will confirm it? I mean, it's one of those thing, is the president speaking out of turn and sharing information he shouldn't or is he embellishing?

BAER: Oh, he's embellishing. I trust the military and the military does not have a recording of this and no one heard it. We'd know it by now and whatever the military says I believe.

So the president is just making this up and as far as being a coward, committing suicide -- you know, clearly in a moment like this if you care about your life you'd lie flat on the floor and don't move, just say I give up which he didn't do, and so, the president clearly is just making this up. I don't see another way around this.

BURNETT: All right. Bob Baer, thank you as always.

And next, CNN talked to this couple on election day. One voted for Trump and one voted for Clinton. So what are they saying tonight?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think he's going to get us into a war.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, you're not dead and we had wars before that.


BURNETT: Plus, Jeanne on Trump's favorite punctuation. It comes in all shapes and sizes.



BURNETT: Tonight, President Trump trying to focus on his accomplishments as the impeachment inquiry ramps up. The president declaring that, he -- we have, quote, the greatest economy in American history after touting the raid that killed ISIS leader Abu Bakr al- Baghdadi.

Will that convince the voters?

Well, we went back to the crucial swing state of Pennsylvania. We talked to some of the same voters we spoke to on election day 2016.

Miguel Marquez talked to them then and he talked to them now, and he's OUTFRONT.


MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): What one thinks of impeachment --

ANDREW GMITER, DEMOCRAT: I think he deserves to be impeached. Absolutely.

MARQUEZ: Often tracks with what one thinks of Donald Trump.

(on camera): What do you think of impeachment?


MARQUEZ (voice-over): James Dillie, a coal miner, and his stepson are huge supporters of the president, proudly displaying Trump flags like this one. They see impeachment as Democrats trying to reverse the outcome of 2016.

DILLIE: Head hunting. They're mad they lost and just trying to get him out.

ROC DABNEY, TRUMP VOTER: I think it's something that the Democrats are doing right now. They're just grabbing for straws really.

MARQUEZ: Washington County, south of Pittsburgh, has trended Republican in years. In 2016, Donald Trump beat Clinton here by 25 points.

(on camera): Aren't you excited for the first female president?



MARQUEZ (voice-over): OUTFRONT was here on election day, in 2016. The Krachalas then married 37 years then and diametrically opposed on candidates.


(on camera): You voted for Donald Trump, you voted for Hillary Clinton. Has anything changed?


MARQUEZ (voice-over): Both of them 90, they still lovingly bicker.

W. KRACHALA: I think he's a crook and I think he's going to get us into a war.

J. KRACHALA: Well, you're not dead and we had wars before that.

W. KRACHALA: We're not done yet.

MARQUEZ: Jacqueline couldn't be clearer on impeachment.

W. KRACHALA: Well, that's ridiculous.

MARQUEZ: Bill, a life-long Republican, is as opposed as ever to Donald Trump and impeachment.

W. KRACHALA: I don't like him. I don't know whether impeachment would solve anything or not. It would just create a lot of upheaval, but I'm hoping to hell that he gets elected out of office.

MARQUEZ: Cody Spence, a registered Democrat in 2016 was struggling to pay for health care. Today, his financial situation has improved. He credits Donald Trump.

CODY SPENCE, TRUMP VOTER: I don't think there's a reason to impeach him. You get card evidence that the people of country can see that's a different story.

MARQUEZ: Some moderates questioned the wisdom of an impeachment fight now.

SUSAN LUISI, MODERATE DEMOCRAT: Well, we've already gone pretty far into this presidency. So, do we really want to spend the last time of it impeaching someone who may or may not be elected again?

MARQUEZ: More progressive Democrats say full steam ahead on impeachment, regardless of the outcome.

GMITER: It probably still favors the Democrats.

MARQUEZ (on camera): And if he goes on to win the election?

GMITER: It's going to be -- it's going to be a rough another four years.

MARQUEZ: Democratic officials here in Washington County say that impeachment and dislike of Donald Trump works in their favor. They have an off-year election in a few days and say it's already driving out enthusiasm and voters for their side. It's a trend, they insist, they will continue through 2020 -- Erin.


BURNETT: All right. Miguel, thank you.

And next, decoding Trump's love for the dot, dot, dot.









BURNETT: Dot, dot, dot. Here's Jeanne.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Trump is forever saying that Ukrainian phone call summary was.

TRUMP: Word for word. Comma for comma.

MOOS: Forget commas, now people are connecting the --



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And I'm wondering, right, keep on saying, dot, dot, dot.

MOOS: Commonly known as ellipses.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Dot, dot, dot, because in legal documents, when you say, dot, dot, dot, that means that there's something left out. MOOS: There's so much, dot, dot, dotting on the view that co-host

Meghan McCain got annoyed.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Whenever it said Biden, it said dot, dot, dot.

MEGHAN MCCAIN: We got it, dot, dot, dot.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And they got it, too.

MOOS: But oh, the irony. The ellipses comes back to haunt a president, who was besotted by dots in his tweets.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He will soon be dot, dot, dot, dot dot.

MOOS (on camera): President Trump's tweets are so dotty, they read like Morse code.

(voice-over): The president might begin a tweet with a random seven dots, shared tweets with as many as 23. Occasionally, he mixes a stray comma in with them or combines his dots with a typo. No smocking gun, dot, dot, dot. Colbert once did an obit for presidential dots, when tweets expanded to 280 characters.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Dot, dot. Adding dot, dot, dot.

MOOS: But announcing the death of Trump's dots was premature.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The dots are back. I missed you little guys. You're the only part of Trump's tweets that aren't lies.

MOOS: The other day, the president tweeted nothing but, dot, dot, dot, dot, provoking responses like anyone speak dot? And, another coded message to Putin.

Remember the time President Trump stared directly at a solar eclipse? No wonder he's seeing dots everywhere. Might as well blame all those ellipses on eclipses.


MOOS: Jeanne Moos --


MOOS: -- CNN --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is dot, dot, dot time. It's not, not, not.

MOOS: -- New York.


BURNETT: Anderson starts now.