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CNN TONIGHT

More White House Officials to Testify; GOP Still Behind Trump on Impeachment; Democrats Gave Their Speeches in Iowa; 2020 Presidential Race, Supercharging Their Campaigns; New York Times Upshot, Siena College Poll, Likely Iowa Dem Caucus Goers; Top Choices For Nominee; GOP Rep. Meadows And Jordan Quietly Guiding White House Lawyers On Impeachment Inquiry Testimony; President Trump Defends Zelensky Call At Rally Tonight. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired November 1, 2019 - 22:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[22:00:00]

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: It's because it unlawfully discriminated against Muslims. Why? The play is to boost the base and hope they forget that they didn't get the boost of the promised 3 percent growth that that tax cut was supposed to bring to justify its deficit-busting nature.

Thanks for watching. CNN Tonight with D. Lemon now.

DON LEMON, CNN HOST: What's happening, sir?

CUOMO: How are you?

LEMON: I'm good. You're right. A lot of things are going to happen. He's going to go back to old tricks. He, you know, does it -- there's a big rally tonight, doing the same thing. The lock her up thing backfired on him, so let's see what else he's going to pull out of his you know what. Arsenal.

CUOMO: Well, look, he's very good at the campaigning. He's very comfortable in the rallies. It's got to be a more comfortable place for him than the White House right now. I mean he's under siege. Lucky for him he's got a couple of buddies listening to what's going on in those closed-door sessions and then coming back to give him the contours.

LEMON: Yes. Well, more comfortable for him than at least national stadium, don't you think?

CUOMO: Well, it's always tricky for a politician to go to those places. You don't know how it's going to play. I think he should have thrown out the pitch, though, D. Lemon.

LEMON: I do. I think he would have gotten a lot more respect. People probably would have respected. Who knows? But even if he's booed, he's the president. He's a big boy. He should be able to handle that.

CUOMO: I believe he once said that he played baseball when he was younger, and he was one of the best pitchers in New York.

LEMON: Not surprising that he said that. But he's -- you're from his old neighborhood.

CUOMO: Could he be wrong?

LEMON: Is that -- is that -- you tell me. Is that the word around the old neighborhood?

CUOMO: People are still swinging and missing. They're still feeling the breeze of some of those fastballs.

LEMON: Have a good weekend, my friend.

CUOMO: You too, D. Lemon.

LEMON: Always a pleasure.

CUOMO: Plenty to talk about.

LEMON: My gosh, it's a big night. Friday. Friday is supposed to be easy. It's never easy anymore.

CUOMO: It's all about the grind baby.

LEMON: We'll see.

CUOMO: Embrace the grind. I'll see you tomorrow morning at the gym.

LEMON: You will.

This is CNN Tonight. I'm Don Lemon.

So, the president is speaking at a rally in Mississippi tonight, and it should probably be no surprise, as I just mentioned, he's back to his old tricks again. He's up to his old tricks, slamming Democrats, making sure to refer to his predecessor as Barack Hussein Obama.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: But think of it. I've just beaten with no political experience the Clinton dynasty, the Bush dynasty, the President Barack Hussein Obama dynasty.

(CROWD BOOING)

TRUMP: And President Obama worked harder at defeating me than crooked Hillary Clinton did, right? He was all over the place. It's the only time I've actually seen him work hard, when he came to trying to beat Trump.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Two things he should be telling that audience. They should be thankful and he should be as well that Barack Obama pulled the economy from the brink of disaster, and he inherited a really good economy that he tries to claim is his own all the time, his own making.

He didn't run against President Obama. But what else do you expect from the man who made his name in politics by peddling the racist birther conspiracy. I don't have to tell you that saying that black people don't work hard is one of the oldest ways to denigrate black people and their worth.

And aside from that, this is coming from a man who has spent 239 days of his presidency at a golf club, who spends every morning in executive time, a fancy name the administration came up with for watching TV and tweeting. A man whose daily schedule sometimes includes no events at all.

Like I said, just wow. It comes at the end of a huge week in the impeachment inquiry, really a historic week. CNN has learned that Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman testifies testified that he was told not to talk to anybody about the Ukraine call after he reported that call to the NSC lawyer, John Eisenberg.

And it was Eisenberg himself who told Vindman to keep quiet about that call, to keep it all quiet. He may find himself in the hot seat soon.

A source telling CNN the House Intel committee has issued a subpoena to Eisenberg, who is scheduled to appear on Monday. Scheduled, but it's an open question whether he'll actually attend.

Also subpoenaed and scheduled to appear Monday, Energy Secretary Rick Perry, who tonight says he won't participate in a closed-door hearing, but he might consider testifying publicly. He may get a chance in a matter of weeks.

And at a time -- at the same time in Iowa, the Democrats vying to run against this president, 13 of them as a matter of fact, are rallying tonight. Mayor Pete Buttigieg making a splash with this.

[22:05:00]

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MAYOR PETE BUTTIGIEG (D-FL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I didn't just come here to end the era of Donald Trump. I'm here to launch the era that must come next.

(APPLAUSE)

BUTTIGIEG: Because in order to win and in order to lead, it's going to take a lot more than the political warfare we've come to accept from Washington, D.C.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Well, that coming at the end of a monumental week in the impeachment inquiry, a week starting with boos and chants of lock him up at game five of the World Series in Washington on Sunday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) (CROWD BOOING)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: And then came Monday. The blockbuster news that Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman, who was listening in on the president's infamous Ukraine call, who is a decorated military veteran with credentials that are pretty hard to deny, was so disturbed by what he heard on that call that he reported it to the National Security Council lawyer John Eisenberg, who as we're learning tonight told him not to tell anybody else about the call.

Tuesday, Colonel Vindman testifies for 10 hours behind closed doors, saying that while most of the White House's rough transcript of the call, a transcript clearly showing the president leaning on Ukraine to investigate the Bidens, was accurate.

It did not include blanks that he tried to fill in based on what he heard with his own ears, like replacing a set of ellipses with a description of President Trump telling President Zelensky there were tapes of Joe Biden. That completely contradicts the president's repeated claims that the transcript was exact.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: This is an exact, word-for-word transcript of the conversation, right? Taken by very talented stenographers.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Really, it's false. That's a lie. And it's false based on Colonel Vindman's testimony and the fact that the memo itself is labeled not a verbatim transcript.

Wednesday, House Democrats go for the big fish, asking John Bolton to testify. And the president's former national security adviser, who was in the Oval Office pretty much every day, who is mentioned multiple times already in testimony, who either quit or was fired depending on who you believe, clearly knows a lot more than he is saying so far. His lawyer says that he won't appear without a subpoena.

Thursday, the historic House vote to advance the impeachment inquiry, giving Republicans a promise of exactly what they say they want, open hearings.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): I don't know why the Republicans are afraid of the truth. Every member should support allowing the American people to hear the facts for themselves.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: As I said before, you've got to wonder whether the president's defenders really want the American people to see a witness like Colonel Vindman or Bill Taylor raise his right hand, swear to tell the truth, and lay out damning testimony on live TV.

And in the wake of that momentous vote, the president, who is his own one-man war room, not only says the Ukraine call that launched the whole impeachment inquiry was -- his word -- perfect, he says he wants to read it, read the whole thing out on live TV in a fireside chat, even though we can all read it for ourselves.

And in that same interview with the Washington Examiner, news that's got to be pretty unnerving for the White House. One White House staffer asking if he was happy with the job that his acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney is doing, the president reportedly says, quote, "happy? I don't want to comment on that."

This problem didn't help Mulvaney's standing.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

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

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To be clear, what you just described is a quid pro quo. It is funding will not flow unless the investigation into the Democratic server happened as well.

MULVANEY: We do -- we do that all the time with foreign policy. I have news for everybody. Get over it. There's going to be political influence in foreign policy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: That was problematic and he tried to walk it back, but he said it.

And that brings us to today. In the wake of the news that Colonel Vindman was told not to discuss that call with anybody, the president, with a new and frankly ridiculous defense today for the call he persists in calling perfect.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I think the stock market right now would be substantially higher.

[22:09:57]

And one of the reasons it's up 300 points today is that people finally got to see the transcribed letter or version of the phone call with the president of Ukraine. And everybody that saw it said, this is good.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: That is just plain nonsense. The transcript, the rough transcript really -- it's not a verbatim -- of the Ukraine call was released on September 25th, well over a month ago. This is November 1st. It was released on September 25th.

Everybody has had plenty of time to read it. It's only five pages long. It's not that long. And the president is pretty much the only one who thinks this call, which he pressured Ukraine to investigate the Bidens, was perfect.

Everybody knows better. He does too, but he can't say it. But in Trump world, that's not actually a bad week. The House voted to advance the impeachment inquiry, but the president managed to keep Republicans in line, not losing a single one, and even gaining two Democrats from districts that he won in 2016.

The president's campaign manager says that they had a $3 million haul on the day of the House impeachment inquiry vote. And with Americans pretty much split right down the middle on whether he should be impeached and removed from office, well, this president may be stronger than you think.

So, I guess it's appropriate that he is wrapping up the week attending another sporting event, one where he's likely to get a much warmer welcome than he did at the World Series.

It's a plan. Do you think he needs some ego stroking after those resounding boos? The president expected to attend a UFC match at Madison Square Garden tomorrow night. This president has a long history with mixed martial arts. One Trump adviser telling CNN, quote, "he likes fistfights." He sure does. Remember this WWE appearance when he body slammed Vince McMahon?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Get in the ring, Vince. Get in the ring.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It must be go time.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Look at this.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you believe this? Mr. McMahon and Donald Trump.

VINCE MCMAHON, CEO, WWE: Be careful, you'll get that billionaire bitch slap, Donald.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Here we go.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The man wants to fight Trump.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My God. Mr. McMahon just got shoved on his billionaire butt.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can't believe what we've just seen.

(END VIDEO CLIP) LEMON: Ladies and gentlemen, your president. That was real, right? That's real. That's all real. He's the president now, wasn't then, but still. Lord. Boy.

Like I said, this president just might be stronger than you think, but that's not real, so he doesn't have to be really strong to do that. Maybe we mean that metaphorically. I don't know.

The president on a tear at his rally in Mississippi tonight trying to defend his infamous Ukraine call. But the impeachment investigation is a lot bigger than one call.

Lauren Fox is here, Alice Stewart, Max Boot as well. I might have to body slam somebody after the break.

[22:15:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: So, the president ranting about his infamous Ukraine call at his rally in Mississippi tonight, but his defense just doesn't hold water.

Let's discuss. Lauren Fox is here, Alice Stewart, Max Boot. I'm so glad you guys can join us on this Friday evening. Thank you so much.

Max, I'm going to start with you. President Trump at his rally tonight, he was on a tear, and he gave an animated defense of his call with Ukraine, and he said this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: These dishonest people will take the last little sliver and the first little sliver, and they'll put it, because they're so damn dishonest, and they'll just say, let -- let's use Ukraine for help. That's what they're going to say. And they won't show the laughter, and they won't show the sarcasm, and they won't show the fun because they're the most dishonorable people almost on earth. It's a disgrace.

(CROWD BOOING)

TRUMP: But we say it anyway.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: I mean, Max, when you hear -- none of what he said there was true. There is a readout of the call which is not verbatim as he said, and they believe him.

MAX BOOT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Right. I mean the question, Don, is how stupid does Donald Trump think we actually are? And judging by some of his supporters, I mean he thinks they're pretty stupid, that they'll believe anything he says even though it is so plainly at odds with that phone call. Remember those magic words, I would like you to do us a favor, though.

LEMON: Right.

BOOT: What's interesting to me, Don, is while the president is still sticking to his defense that this was a beautiful and perfect call, there are some Republicans who are not prepared to fully imbibe all of the Kool-Aid.

And so, there was just The Washington Post story tonight saying that some Senate Republicans are trying out a new line of defense or thinking about trying out a new line of defense, which is to say that, yes, there was an attempt at a quid pro quo, but it wasn't corrupt or it was OK.

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: It wasn't illegal.

BOOT: It wasn't illegal, exactly, which I don't think is going to hold water either because they're basically admitting wrongdoing and what they're trying to do is to say this is just like the kind of quid pro quo that the U.S. always applies in foreign aid to say, like, you know, fight corruption in general.

But of course, he wasn't asking to fight corruption in general. He was asking Ukraine to investigate his political opponent, and there is zero evidence --

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: And the DNC server. The CrowdStrike --

BOOT: And the DNC server.

LEMON: Right.

BOOT: And there's zero evidence that Donald Trump cares about corruption in general.

[22:20:02]

LEMON: Yes.

BOOT: He cares about getting dirt on his political opponents, which is what he was trying to do.

LEMON: I can't wait for that fireside chat if he actually does have it.

BOOT: Yes.

LEMON: Lauren, fill us in. You have some new reporting, I understand, about President Trump's top Russia adviser, Tim Morrison. He thought Trump's ambassador to the E.U. was going rogue on Ukraine. Tell us -- tell us why.

LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: Well, Morrison had some concerns that Gordon Sondland was, quote, "a free radical." That is what he told lawmakers according to sources who were in the room.

But I will tell you he had those concerns because he said, you know, he was hoping that Sondland was wrong about what the president was trying to do when it came to that nearly $400 million in U.S. military aid to Ukraine that was being withheld.

He was hoping that when Sondland said that he wanted the president to use that money to try to extract political investigations from the Ukrainians into his political rivals, that Sondland was wrong.

And so basically what Morrison did was he went to the secretary at the White House and tried to make sure that Sondland was actually talking to the president. And in every instance, it checked out that those conversations had actually occurred, Don.

LEMON: Yes.

FOX: So, Morrison very concerned there. Obviously, it's troubling given the fact that Sondland, during his testimony, trying to downplay what he knew about that.

LEMON: Alice, stand by. I just want to get a response from Max. Then I'll bring you in here. But that, what she's reporting is important, Max, because it gives you the level of concern for people inside of the White House to the extent of the president's role in this Ukraine call.

BOOT: Right, Don.

LEMON: Or in this shakedown.

BOOT: Yes. I mean it's crazy that Trump is still claiming it was a beautiful and perfect call whereas everybody in the White House who heard the call or saw the transcript realized how problematic this was. This is why they were told not to talk about it. This is why it was put in a top-secret server because his aides realized that this was political dynamite.

What he was asking for was a very corrupt, very improper request. He was essentially attempting to extort the president of Ukraine for his own political benefit, and that came across very clearly.

LEMON: So, let me bring you in, Alice, because Max mentioned this a little while ago, and I know you have good sources in Washington. The Washington Post is reporting that a growing number of GOP senators are considering acknowledging Trump's quid pro quo or his shakedown or attempts thereof, but say it doesn't rise to the level of impeachment. I mean this is a major shift.

ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It's not in terms of what they have thought all along. Look, many will acknowledge privately that what they believe that the president said on this call and what he inferred on this call was inappropriate and they will agree that it might have been improper.

But they have never really believed personally or publicly that it rises to the level of impeachment, and that's what we're going to see moving forward.

We can all pretty much guarantee that those in the House will continue on the Democratic side, will move full speed ahead and be able to go about and obtain impeachment here.

Republicans, as the vote came out yesterday, will vote against it. Democrats will vote for it. But when it gets over to the Senate, they will not move forward on a conviction. And whether they talk about it publicly or privately, when it gets down to them being the judge and jury on this issue, they will not vote to convict this president.

LEMON: Alice, --

STEWART: That is based on what we have now.

LEMON: Can I --

STEWART: Now, that is not -- assuming nothing else bigger comes out of this.

LEMON: I get you.

STEWART: Based on what we have now, this is not going to move forward in the Senate.

LEMON: Let me ask you real quick. What is the level of concern, though, behind, because you bring up a very good point? They won't say it publicly, but what is their level of concern about maybe something else coming out or that there may be defectors from the president, people who, you know, may say, OK, I can't, I can't deal with this anymore?

STEWART: They don't expect anything more to come out of it. Look, their concerns about what the ellipses are, what those three dots are and what may have been left out of the transcript, but they're not concerned for the most about a bigger picture.

And what they're going to do and what the president will continue to do, as he did tonight, he will go out there and talk to his base and people across the country that support these senators, these GOP senators, and say there was nothing there. There was no quid pro quo. This is a witch hunt.

Democrats once again are raising a level of expectation for something, as they did with the Mueller report, and it will result in nothing. And he will continue down this line that there is nothing there, and his supporters will continue to support him, and the Senate will have his back when this does go over to their side to decide whether or not to convict.

LEMON: Max, I know you want to get in.

BOOT: I have to tell Alice, you're right on the politics that the Senate is almost certainly not going to convict but it's not because there is insufficient evidence or because Donald Trump has a strong case to make. He doesn't. The only reason they will not convict is because they are ignoring the

copious evidence of impeachable conduct and because they are basically putting tribalism over their oaths of office to uphold the Constitution of the United States. There's simply nothing that Trump can do, even if he shot someone on Fifth Avenue that would lead Republicans to accuse him of misconduct.

[22:25:06]

LEMON: Thank you all. That's got to be the last word. I appreciate it.

Democratic candidates are out in force in Iowa as a new poll shows the race is at a state -- at this state is up for grabs. I mean, have you seen the new polls? We're going to take you there live, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Democratic presidential hopefuls making their pitches in one of the biggest moments so far in the 2020 race, 13 of the 17 candidates giving speeches at an Iowa dinner known for making or breaking campaigns.

CNN's Jeff Zeleny is in Des Moines. Jeff, good evening to you. Good to see you.

[22:30:02]

It's a big dinner that could have huge implications for the race going forward. Who's got the biggest reaction from the audience?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Dom, good evening, there's no question with about 13,000 or so Iowa Democrats here watching all of the candidates, they are looking for what the candidates are saying but also the strength of the crowd sizes that all the candidates are building.

And it was one of the biggest moments of the evening just a couple hours ago when Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, was walking into this hall, having one of the biggest crowds, thundering applause, and he talked about his optimistic message. And he said he's not naive. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MAYOR PETE BUTTIGIEG (D-IN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And if talking about hope and belonging sounds optimistic to you for a time like this, fine. Call it optimistic, but do not call it naive, because I believe these things not based on my age, but based on my experience. The purpose of the presidency is not the glorification of the president. It is the unification of the American people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZELENY: So Buttigieg talked about unifying the country on the day after he says he hopes President Trump leaves office. Also one of the only candidates so far to quote scripture, at the same time talking about his faith as well as his husband, Chasten Buttigieg. So, Don, certainly, he is on a rising moment here. A lot of people are comparing his campaign at least to Barack Obama. Of course the burden now is on him to prove that in the next three months of this Iowa caucus campaign.

LEMON: I'm just looking behind you, off script a little bit here, is that -- who is that behind you? Is that Beto O'Rourke?

ZELENY: It's not actually. It's the local Iowa official.

LEMON: Got it.

ZELENY: His name is Rob Sands. They're at halftime here of the presidential candidates, giving people a bit of a break. But Beto O'Rourke of course dropped out of the race earlier, but he is not onstage as it happens.

LEMON: I just -- I could barely see. He's a tiny little figure behind you. And just the silhouette, I thought it was maybe Beto O'Rourke, and he was saying, thank you so far for supporting me, but I've got to go. So, let's talk about Joe Biden now. He took a lot of shots at Donald Trump. What did he say?

ZELENY: He sure did. I mean, it's one of the -- that core arguments that Joe Biden has been making, that he's the strongest Democrat to take on Donald Trump. Of course that's open to interpretation and questions. But he went directly after Donald Trump and said Trump has been going after him because he believes he's the strongest Democrat in the race. Let's listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Number one is that Vladimir Putin doesn't want me to be president. And number two, Donald Trump doesn't want me to be the nominee. He spent a lot of money to make sure I'm not. I'm flattered. I'm flattered. Folks, look, we have got to -- we have got to beat this man.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZELENY: So Joe Biden in a workmanlike speech there, his crowd not nearly as big as Pete Buttigieg or Elizabeth Warren.

LEMON: So, Jeff, Elizabeth Warren, speaking of, she made a big case for her progressive push. What did she say?

ZELENY: Elizabeth Warren gave one, I would say, Don, one of her most pointed speeches yet by really showing the divisions inside the Democratic Party about ideology. She urged Democrats to dream big. She said do not settle for smaller plans. Of course she was talking about Pete Buttigieg, talking about Amy Klobuchar, talking about Joe Biden, but take a listen to how she packaged it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This is a time

of crisis, and media pundits, Washington insiders, even some people in our own party don't want to admit it. They think that running some vague campaign that nibbles around the edges is somehow safe. But if the most we can promise is business as usual after Donald Trump, then Democrats will lose.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZELENY: And that of course is one of the central arguments Senator Warren has been making, urging Democrats to dream big. But many Democrats believe that some of her plans are too big, too expensive. So, Don, for the next three months before the voting actually begins, that is one of the central arguments. Is Elizabeth Warren too progressive, or it -- would she bring more people in by exciting them?

So look for a rebuttal perhaps from Amy Klobuchar coming up a little bit later, because she's been talking about how Warren's plans are not realistic. Also Kamala Harris is speaking, delivering a fiery speech as well. So, Don, we're at halftime here. About six more candidates to go.

LEMON: All right. If we need you, we call on you. Jeff Zeleny, from Des Moines, thank you very much. I appreciate that.

Let's bring in now, Joe Trippi and Mark McKinnon. Gentlemen, good evening. You know, I love the chapeau, love the hat there, Mark. I'm going to start with you. So, we can't underplay the importance of this dinner that you at this dinner. Who made an impression?

MARK MCKINNON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, as always in politics and certainly out here in Iowa, it's about expectations, the expectations game. Who met, exceeded or didn't live up to them?

[22:35:08]

Tonight very clearly, Elizabeth Warren met expectations, well organized. The speech that we expected. She also laid out her plan for paying for her plan, which I think was a strategically smart move to do today to defend against the attacks that she might get tonight.

Pete Buttigieg really exceeded expectations. Huge crowd, first of all, turned out for him. So you can see his organization, but also a very compelling speech reminiscent of Obama. He's having a moment here for sure.

And Joe Biden did not meet expectations. Very flat speech and hardly anybody here out supporting him, not even really an organized section. They couldn't even get their t-shirts together, it appears.

LEMON: Wow. Speaking of the former president, Joe, I want to play some of President Obama's speech from this event. This was in 2007. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Real, meaningful

change. Change that American can believe in. That's why I'm in this race. That's why I'm running for the presidency of the United States of America. To offer change that we can believe in.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Joe, you walked out of the arena that night feeling that Obama just became the front-runner. Do you think any candidate will be able to capture the momentum like he did?

JOE TRIPPI, CNN DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Right. It's certainly possible, and Mayor Pete might be -- might be able to do that. There are a lot of similarities between their campaigns and the way they've organized the state. But, yeah, I was there. I was working for John Edwards at the time. You knew, you could feel it. The floor shifted beneath your feet. I walked out of there, turned to Jonathan Prince, the co-campaign manager of the campaign, and said this guy just launched out of here. He's going to be very tough to catch. And that turned out to be true.

Look, the thing about tonight is it's actually the beginning -- I know we've been all watching this for over a year now. But in Iowa, this is -- the campaigns have set their organizations. They've been setting their messages. This is the start of this mad dash for less than 100 days now. And anybody in this field, anybody can win.

Obama was third on this night in 2007 and would win, you know, 90 days later. I can tell you more people who were asterisks or in last place today actually won the Iowa caucuses, and almost -- and no one -- you'd have to go back 35 years to find a front-runner, the top two people who are ahead of the polls today have never won Iowa.

LEMON: Right.

TRIPPI: You'd have to go back to 1984 when Mondale held first, but Gary Hart, who was at 4 percent on the night of the J.J. Dinner --

LEMON: Thanks for the history lesson. I got to get Mark in. because we don't have much time. So, Mark, listen, Pete Buttigieg is surging in the new Iowa poll. He's in the top tier with Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, and Joe Biden. What does that tell you about his candidacy and where the Party is as a matter of fact?

MCKINNON: Well, I think it means that the Party is looking for a pragmatic, clear centrist vote. I think they're looking for an alternative to Joe Biden. I think a lot of the Biden supporters and people who would likely under circumstances support Biden just don't feel that his campaign is coming together, taking off. And I think those are a lot of the people that are coming to Pete Buttigieg.

So they want an alternative to kind of the left progressive wing, the Biden/Warren wing, and Pete Buttigieg just might be it. I'll tell you that others here are getting a lot of buzz too. Amy Klobuchar, who is from next door, she's familiar, she knows these issues and apparently from what we hear on the ground, well organized. So we haven't heard her yet tonight. But others, it's all about timing as Joe said. You know, you'd rather be ahead than behind, but you want to get hot at the right time.

LEMON: Well, that's what -- well, Joe, I want to ask you a question in that vein. That same poll says that only 33 percent of Democratic caucus-goers in Iowa have made up their minds. Does that benefit Buttigieg even more since he is less of a household name?

TRIPPI: It can. It could also benefit somebody like Klobuchar. Again, being in the race right now with an organization like she has, an organization like Mayor Pete has, is really the best indicator. Who has the best organization? Who is starting to get traction now? Some of the people that have been leading this thing, some of them are going to falter badly between now and the caucuses. I'd put -- as a long shot, I'd put it on that Amy Klobuchar may surprise people.

LEMON: Wow. Gentlemen. All right, gentlemen, thank you very much. I appreciate it. Have a great weekend.

MCKINNON: Thank you, Don.

TRIPPI: You too.

LEMON: Did the White House silence Colonel Vindman, and is that evidence of a cover-up? Nixon's former White House Counsel, John Dean weighs in on that next.

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[22:40:00]

LEMON: New tonight, we're learning that Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman testified that he took his concerns about the call between President Trump and the Ukrainian president to National Security Council lawyer John Eisenberg, who told him not to discuss it with anybody. Eisenberg and NSC lawyers moved the transcript of the call onto a highly secure server. So here to discuss, a man who knows all about this stuff is Mr. John Dean. John, good to see you.

JOHN DEAN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Thank you.

LEMON: Thank you.

DEAN: Good to see you.

LEMON: Vindman says he was told not to discuss the call by Eisenberg, and we know that he testified that Eisenberg recommended the transcript of that call be moved to that highly classified server. Is that a cover-up?

[22:45:02]

DEAN: It certainly looks like one, Don. In fact, I'm down here in New Orleans just on this issue of what lawyers do in situations like Eisenberg was faced. And his obligation is really to report to a higher authority what he sees going on when there is a crime involved. And he clearly heard a crime on that conversation, if he was on the conversation, or he certainly was reported one by several people, and he showed his concern about it by putting it on a secure server.

He has really not fulfilled his obligation as a lawyer in the executive branch because he -- the United States is a single entity. And while there are different branches, it's all one government, Don. And he had an obligation and still does to report to other people about what went on.

LEMON: This is a CNN reporting, John, that Republican Congressman Mark Meadows and Jim Jordan have been helping White House lawyers sort through publicly reported aspects of the testimony to the extent that they can, to help the White House get a better grasp at the allegations against Trump. I mean, the two have been at the closed- door depositions, and Meadows says that they are following the rules. But I mean, is this allowed? What do you think of this?

DEAN: I was not surprised to read that story at all. There's just never been any doubt in my mind that Jordan or Meadows or somebody, Nunes, who earlier went to the White House during the precursor hearings, if you will, to spill his gut about what was going on. So I'm not surprised about this at all. They're trying to give the White House advice on how to respond to some of these things, how to prepare for some of these things, and I think they're breaking the rules of the committee in the fact that they are not -- they are really bound by those rules until they go public to not do what they're doing. But also, Don, I got to tell you it happened during Watergate. Howard Baker and Fred Thompson, his aide --

LEMON: Right.

DEAN: -- went to the White House on a daily basis almost to tell him what was going on.

LEMON: Wow. No, I won't say that. A growing number of Senator --

DEAN: (INAUDIBLE), changes.

LEMON: No, I was going to say something that Joe Lockhart said on the morning show, but I won't do it. A growing number of Senate Republicans are ready to say that Trump engaged in a quid pro quo, which is a shakedown. But they also -- they're not ready to say it's illegal or that it's impeachable. Is this sort of a half-size way to say that Trump was wrong, but still we want to keep him? We don't think he should leave office?

DEAN: I think they're going to have trouble with this position as the evidence unfolds in front of them. There's much more than just this conversation that has been the focus. The transcript that Trump calls his perfect conversation, I guess by Trump's standard, who is used to doing shakedowns in New York real estate, he probably was pretty mild in this one is why he thinks it's perfect.

But the Senate isn't going to be able to hang on to this fine thread. They know, if any of them that are well read know that our country was founded on the basis of not having foreign influence. It was based on having Americans elect Americans. And so this is going to be very difficult for them to justify, and I could see some of them losing their states and their seats if they don't get on a different position than they are now.

LEMON: Always a pleasure, John Dean. Thank you. Have a good weekend. Enjoy New Orleans.

DEAN: Thank you, Don.

LEMON: All right. Thank you.

Does anything the president says about Ukraine and the impeachment inquiry register as the truth? My next guest says his deception is so comprehensive that it's hard to explain.

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[22:50:00]

LEMON: President Trump lashing out at his opponents and trying to defend his dealings with Ukraine in a fiery rally tonight this Mississippi. A fiery rally that was very short on facts. Surprise. Here to break it down CNN fact checker extraordinary, Mr. Daniel Dale. Daniel, hello. Trump keeps repeating that his call with that president of Ukraine was quote perfect, even making this bizarre claim tying it to the stock market earlier today, here it is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: One of the reasons it's up 300 points today is that people finally got to see the transcribe letter or version of the phone call with the president of Ukraine. And everybody that thought that, oh this is good. And the market went up a lot over the last short period of time.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: So, first, this transcript has been out for a week. So how could he be tying this to the stock market today?

DANIEL DALE, CNN REPORTER: There's no valid way to tie it to the stock market today. It's been out five weeks. And this is what liars do and this is what Trump does. You know, he makes the original claim, the call was perfect, the transcript was perfect and then he adds additional false claims to try to bolster the original. This is simple nonsense.

LEMON: Unbelievable. He has been repeatedly lying about Ukraine and the impeachment inquiry. You say it's hard to explain how much the president is lying about this?

DALE: Yes. I mean, often he'll tell one lie or two about a subject. On the Ukraine scandal, he is telling lies about like literally, 15 different elements of the story. From the transcript to Democrats conduct, to the nature of the impeachment hearings, to the whistleblower. So, basically everything he is saying about Ukraine is inaccurate in some way.

[22:55:09]

LEMON: He's also making an inaccurate claim about the unemployment rate. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Unemployment has reached the lowest rate in over 51 years. Soon to be historic.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Daniel, you say this is only a small exaggeration. But it proves a larger pattern. How so?

DALE: Yes, I'm fascinated with these, Don. So, the unemployment rate is very good. It's 3.6 percent, that's the lowest in just under 50 years. So what does Trump says. It's the lowest in over 51 years. And so, he's doing this all the time. Statistics that stand on their own that are impressive, if sided accurately. Trump makes inaccurate just because he's Donald Trump and that's what he does.

LEMON: Daniel, thank you. I appreciate it. We'll be right back.

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