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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT
GOP And Dems Plot Strategies On Eve Of Impeachment Hearing; Trump Frustrated With His Chief Of Staff As WH Struggles With Infighting Over Impeachment. Aired 7-8p ET
Aired November 12, 2019 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BLITZER: We, of course, wish the former president a full and speedy recovery. To our viewers, thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM. Erin Burnett OUTFRONT starts right now.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next breaking news, just hours before historic televised impeachment hearings, President Trump reportedly considered firing the man who helped spark the impeachment investigation. Plus, chaos consuming the White House, Trump aggravated with his Chief of Staff, Mick Mulvaney and the White House Counsel reportedly at odds, so who is in charge? And surging in Iowa, Pete Buttigieg gaining steam in a new poll. Let's go out front.
And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett. OUTFRONT tonight, the breaking news, on the eve of what could be the biggest threat to Trump's presidency, just hours before public impeachment hearings begin the President wants someone who is central to the entire impeachment investigation out, fired. This is according to The New York Times this hour which is reporting the President is targeting his Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael Atkinson.
Atkinson is the one who deemed that whistleblower complaint urgent and credible, both urgent and credible. And because of that, according to The Times, Trump is accusing Atkinson of being disloyal and of trying to sabotage his presidency. Keep in mind, Atkinson is known as a serious professional, a career nonpartisan. Republican Senator Susan Collins telling The Hill newspaper, "I have a lot of regard for the Inspector General and believe that he did what he thought was right."
And here's Trump's own Acting Director of National Intelligence defending Atkinson, when the whistleblower complaint came out.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOSEPH MAGUIRE, ACTING DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: I have no reason to doubt that Michael Atkinson did anything but his job.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Well, the President has a lot of doubts and is threatening now and however this investigation is unfolding, his administration's response, all of it has him on nails, pins and needles. And tonight, Republicans and Democrats are finalizing their strategy for those hearings tomorrow.
Just a short time ago, Republicans holding a mock impeachment hearing. They know the stakes are high. One of the first witnesses is going to be Bill Taylor, of course. The top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine who described in detail what he saw is a quid pro quo, telling investigators privately that his understanding that, "Security assistance money would not come until President Zelensky committed to pursue the Burisma investigation."
Burisma, of course, is the company where hunter Biden served on the board. And already some Republicans are trying to tear Taylor down.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Is he a credible witness?
REP. LEE ZELDIN (R-NY): No, he's not second, third, fourth hand, no hand information in some cases. You can't actually know what was really said when you're relying on third and fourth hand information.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Well, it's important to just note the facts, Taylor's testimony has been corroborated under oath by four other officials who testified to a quid pro quo. And then there will be George Kent tomorrow who also will be testifying. Saying to the country what he said behind closed doors that, "POTUS wanted nothing less than President Zelensky to go to the microphone and say investigation, Biden and Clinton."
There's a lot to get to tonight as battle lines are now drawn ahead of tomorrow's historic hearing. Kaitlan Collins is out front live in New York. And Kaitlan, what are you hearing about President Trump state of mind? Obviously, we are hours away from these impeachment hearings being public.
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Erin publicly the President is saying he's not worried about this. But we know privately people are telling him these testimonies could be damaging. What we're waiting to see is just how damaging the White House thinks they are, what the public response to these hearing, seeing these current and former officials testify on camera about the President's actions, Rudy Giuliani's action, Mick Mulvaney's actions and, of course, the Secretary of State and from there on down.
The President himself is keeping an eye personally on Marie Yovanovitch who's testifying on Friday. But officials have told us they actually think Bill Taylor who's first show tomorrow could prove the most damaging based on the transcript of his testimony that's been released so far.
So they are watching this closely, but Erin the President is also paying close attention to what the republicans are going to be doing tomorrow, because he wants them to be aggressive in their questioning of these witnesses. So far he's tried to really undermine the credibility of several people here, including people who still currently work for him and that's what he's counting on these republicans doing tomorrow.
As he saw during Robert Mueller's here, Corey Lewandowski's hearing. The question is whether or not which party is going to be more successful in shaping the message tomorrow. Now, you got to keep in mind, the President has a few hours open tomorrow on his schedule as he's waiting on the Turkish president to get here.
But then that President is going to be here. The President is going to be hosting him in a series of meetings and then doing a press conference store afternoon, where it could be the first time we get the first real sense of reaction from Trump.
BURNETT: All right. Kaitlan, thank you very much and I want to go out front now to the former Assistant FBI Director Greg Brower, GOP Committee Counsel for House Oversight during the Clinton impeachment investigation, Sophia Nelson, our Chief Investigative Correspondent for Yahoo News, Michael Isikoff, and former Republican Senator Rick Santorum who voted to remove President Clinton from office during the Senate trial.
Greg, let me start with you with The New York Times report, reporting President Trump has repeatedly discussed firing his own picked, his own handpicked IG for the Intelligence Committee Michael Atkinson because Atkinson determine the whistleblower's complaint was credible and urgent. The President apparently believes he's disloyal and is trying to sabotage his presidency. What does this tell you?
GREG BROWER, FORMER FBI ASSISTANT DIRECTOR: Well, it concerns me greatly, Erin, as a former Federal Inspector General myself, it's concerning but it should concern all Americans that this Inspector General like all inspector generals was just doing his job and for that has obviously drawn the President's ire. We've seen this movie before with respect to FBI agents, prosecutors and others who seem to have a commitment to finding the facts, facts that the President may not like.
But let me point out one thing that should also concern us and that is this idea that this IG or any IG should be loyal to the President. That's not how this system works.
BROWER: The IGs are in place to root out waste, fraud and abuse wherever they see it within their respective agencies or departments. That is their sole mission. They don't play politics. They're not loyal to anybody. The only thing they're loyal to is the truth and that's how they do their jobs.
BURNETT: So Senator, according to The Times people close to the President believe the political consequences of moving forward with this, trying to fire his Inspector General would be devastating in the senate which as you know, obviously, is ultimately what decides whether a President of the United States (inaudible) ...
RICK SANTORUM, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE, 2012 & 2016: Remember we've seen this with the Mueller investigation where he's going to fire Bob Mueller or get someone to fire Bob Mueller and he never did. He talked about it. I'm not surprised that the President, anybody in the line of fire that did anything with the presidency is detrimental to the President is going to want that guy removed.
BURNETT: That's how he is.
SANTORUM: That's how he is. And people sit down with him and talk it through and he weighs the pluses and minuses as to whether to remove him or not. And I think the pluses are greatly outweighed by the minuses here. Because you got to remember, you got to keep a majority of your majority in the Senate happy and you don't want to do anything to threatened that.
BURNETT: Those we hear from Senator Collins, that's not going to go over (inaudible) ...
SANTORUM: It's not going to go and it won't go with others, and what's the point? I mean, it's not like he's going to continue to do things that is going to harm the President. I mean, it's a one and done and time to move on.
BURNETT: Sophia, look, the news coming hours ahead of the first public impeachment hearings and Bill Taylor is the top diplomat to Ukraine, George Kent, Deputy Assistant Secretary at the State Department, both of them are going to testify publicly tomorrow. And I just want to give people an understanding of how this is going to go.
Opening question for the Democrats is going to be led by a former Federal Prosecutor with the Southern District of New York, Daniel Goldman. For the Republicans, Steve Castor will be leading off, the Chief Investigative Counsel for the House Oversight panel who moved over to intelligence. They're going to have 90 minutes, then the committee members will each get five minutes to question the witnesses.
So Sophia, you were there for the last time there were public impeachment hearings, what do you make of this layout tomorrow and what do Democrats need to do to have this not backfire on them?
SOPHIA NELSON, FORMER HOUSE GOP OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE COUNSEL DURING CLINTON IMPEACHMENT: Well, I think a couple of things, first and foremost, we all need to take a collective deep breath. Tomorrow is very serious. When the founders designed impeachment, it was a device to remove a rogue executive. It was not meant to be this partisan football.
So the first thing that the Democrats are going to want to do tomorrow is to establish the seriousness of the underlying act which is whether or not the President engaged in a quid pro quo. They're going to do that with Mr. Taylor's testimony and other testimony and then, of course, the Republicans will have their turn. And if they're smart, Erin, they're not going to go wild and they're
not going to go on this name calling and demeaning thing like we saw in some of the other hearings. They're going to ask serious questions and they're going to show that they also want to get to the truth, whatever that may be.
And so the process should be very sober, I expect it to be. I expected both chairman and ranking members have told their sides what they want them to do. I've been through this process, as you mentioned, on oversight not on judiciary, but it's a very serious process when you have witnesses coming forward sworn in testimony and having members asked questions on a matter of consequence like this.
So I expect it to be actually pretty sober tomorrow.
BURNETT: And Michael, Congressman Jim Jordan was moved over to the Intelligence Committee to defend Trump. It is something he has done already with vigor. So people understand, Jim Jordan, if you don't know the face, you do when you see this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JIM JORDAN (R-OH): The Democrats just put us through three years of this phony Russia collusion investigation and now on the heels of that they come right back with this.
We've all seen the transcript. There's nothing there.
JORDAN: I think he's got you guys all spun up and obviously it's the case ...
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS CHIEF ANCHOR: You're not ...
JORDAN: ... because you've asked me the question, you've asked me the question ...
STEPHANOPOULOS: But you're not answering it.
JORDAN: ... like four times.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, because you haven't answered it.
JORDAN: I don't think he really meant go investigate ...
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: And Michael, here he is questioning Trump's former personal attorney Michael Cohen to get a sense of how Jim Jordan, why he has been placed in this room by Republicans. When Cohen testified against the President, here's Jordan.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JORDAN: How long do you work in the White House? MICHAEL COHEN, FORMER ATTORNEY FOR PRESIDENT TRUMP: I never worked in
the White House.
JORDAN: That's the point isn't it, Mr. Cohen?
COHEN: No, sir.
JORDAN: Yes, it is.
COHEN: No, it's not, sir.
JORDAN: You wanted to work in the White House.
COHEN: No, sir.
JORDAN: You didn't get brought to the dance.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: How important could Jordan be, Michael?
MICHAEL ISIKOFF, CHIEF INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT, YAHOO! NEWS: Look, Jim Jordan plays very well to the Trump base on Fox News. But the audience for tomorrow is a very different one. This is really the opportunity for both sides to make a case to the American public. That part of the American public that has not yet determined where they are on this matter.
And so I think that in many ways, this is an entirely new phase of the impeachment saga. The Democrats may have some of the same issues. They've been playing prosecutors playing to their base, to the progressive base that wants to see the President impeached, but they now have to shift to this more in sorrow than anger mode that would probably play well to that broad sector of the American public.
It's going to be really interesting to see if both sides can restrain themselves and conduct the kind of sober hearings that we were just talking about.
BURNETT: Well, certainly to hope they all understand the import of it and that there are professional questioners at the beginning obviously proved to be of used to doing that. Senator, Congressman Zeldin and Jordan have both Tried to suggest that Bill Taylor, obviously, the lead witness, top Diplomat to Ukraine, three decades of public service, bronze star in Vietnam, 101st Airborne, many other things, someone who's lauded by both Democrats and Republicans. They've said he's not credible and they said that he and others who have testified, that have testified negatively about the President are Never Trumpers, here they are.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He's a Never Trumper and his lawyers are Never Trumper.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sir, what evidence do you have that Colonel Vindman is a Never Trumper?
TRUMP: We'll be showing that to you real soon.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SANTORUM: Yes. I think this is an opportunity. I've been hearing this from many people from the White House and other places that the stories of some of these witnesses under cross examination don't hold up. And this is an opportunity for them to do.
SANTORUM: I think they're going to be polite, but I think they're going to be tough. They're going to go after the holes in the stories and point that a lot of this is not firsthand information.
BURNETT: OK. But what you're saying is, maybe you're not, are you saying that they're Never Trumpers, they're political, they're lying?
SANTORUM: No. No. I'm not saying ...
BURNETT: No, you're just saying that they're the truth as best they know it and make - OK.
SANTORUM: They're telling their perspective on things and it's ...
BURNETT: But that's different than what people are saying that they're not credible, that they're Never Trumpers, so that's not the same thing.
SANTORUM: There's a whole realm on both sides as to where people are and how people assess this. Some are just dismissing this out of hand as some cabal. Others are taking it seriously and trying to poke holes. I think what you'll see here is a little mix of both, but I think primarily it was said earlier, I think that they'll take this seriously.
They know this isn't a moment. I went through the impeachment and you it's an incredibly weighty experience unlike anything else that you go through as a Member of Congress to know that this doesn't happen very often and it's a big deal and you know this is your moment and you don't want to blow it.
So I don't think you're going to see the histrionics that we've seen in the past.
BURNETT: All right. Well, I hope you're right. All right. Please stay with me. White House chaos. Next, the President's actually Chief of Staff apparently at odds with the White House Counsel. These are supposed to be two of the people in charge over the impeachment strategy, but on the eve of the big day, they're in a fight.
Plus, Chairman Adam Schiff, the man presiding over tomorrow's hearing says bribery may not be included in the articles of impeachment. What is he talking about? And Democrats ruling out a new plan to tax the rich. Could it backfire on Democrats in 2020 or not? (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
BURNETT: Breaking news just hours away from public impeachment hearings, the Trump White House is mired in infighting with the President particularly aggravated with Mick Mulvaney Chief of Staff. Sources telling CNN that President Trump's Acting Chief of Staff stunned White House officials this week and frustrated the President because you know what he did.
He asked a judge if he should comply with what Congress want him to do. If they issued him a subpoena, should he go testify. And, of course, the President said, executive privilege, you work for me, buddy. Forget about it. So going to a court was basically thumbing his nose at Trump, that's sure what it looked like.
And as The Washington Post is now reporting, there is a growing rift between Mulvaney and the White House Counsel, Pat Cipollone, over who's in charge of the impeachment strategy. Gosh, with a team like that on the eve of your biggest day, you're going to score some big goals.
OK. Look, all jokes aside, obviously, everyone is back with me. Greg, look, this is the eve of the first public hearings. This is this important night, a day of import, possibly weeks away from a vote in the House to impeach the President of the United States. And yet in the White House, you have a chief of staff who is in a lawsuit against his boss now jumping out of that, in a fight with the General Counsel, it does seem chaotic.
BROWER: It does, Erin. And it's, of course, hard to know exactly what's going on in the White House unless you're truly on the inside. But from all outward appearances, it does seem to be chaotic. Certainly, the Acting Chief of Staff's recent conduct whether it was the press conference or more recently the attempt to join the lawsuit can't sit well with other staffers including the White House Counsel, I'm sure.
And so we have a White House that during the best of times wasn't all that impressive to most outside observers in terms of its functionality. Now, as the President enters the worst possible thing that any president could possibly face, that is an impeachment inquiry, dysfunction will not help the effort but that appears to be what we have.
BURNETT: Sophia, it certainly appears to be what we have and perhaps the President, I guess, what he wants. He's the one calling the shots, forget the counsel, forget the Chief of Staff. What do they matter anyway? I mean, it sounds in any normal world absurd and often what he goes along and does ends up working even though nobody expects it to.
NELSON: To your point about the President calling his own shots, if I were able to speak with him for a moment I'd say, "Mr. President, how is that working for you?" And it's not working really good, but I think back to Mick Mulvaney, it's an important point that the moment he had that press conference and then he joined in with this lawsuit with Kupperman and Bolton, he was dead man walking.
I mean, it's only a matter of time before Trump's going to get rid of him and replace him. And I think that it goes back to General Kelly's point about Trump surrounding himself not with sick offense, but with people that could stand up to him and guide him and tell him the truth. He's being his own counsel and all of us lawyers know, you never represent yourself in a case or a trial because it turns out to be disastrous, Erin.
So I'm not surprised that there's chaos. There's been chaos from day one. My biggest concern though, Erin, if I'm being honest is that I'm wondering how the public response to this because I think we've gotten conditioned to so much drama, so much dysfunction, so much chaos that I'm not sure people care. And maybe that's why the Republicans are doing what they've been doing for the last number of months. I'm just not sure how this is going to shake out.
BURNETT: And Michael, I guess, first of all, there's how it plays with the American public and then there's also I suppose in a sense means the President is not just calling the shots himself, but in a sense seeding this to the Jim Jordans of the world.
ISIKOFF: Right. I think what happened with Mulvaney is that he and his lawyers saw an opportunity to glom on to that lawsuit that Kupperman had filed with the same lawyer as have John Bolton, because that was Judge Richard Leon, a Republican appointed judge who was deemed to be favorable to what the Trump White House was arguing.
They thought they could score a quick point with Judge Leon, but the really interesting rift was not so much between Mulvaney and the President. Everybody who works for the President ends up angering him at some point, but the rift between Bolton and Mulvaney. Bolton's lawyer went in there and Kupperman's lawyer went there and said, we don't want Mulvaney as part of our lawsuit because we now know Bolton has something to say about the President that's relevant to the Ukraine investigation.
And I think that is ultimately going to be the most important thing to watch here, whether we end up hearing from John Bolton, if not in these House hearings in a senate trial.
BURNETT: And to that point, Senator, in what scenario would that happen, right? We're hearing tonight when this gets to the Senate as the anticipation is, of course, that it will, maybe early January five to six weeks, putting aside that that's the most important time in the Democratic primary. Just the significance of how this plays out, do you get a John Bolton in there? Do you get a Mick Mulvaney? Does any of that happen?
SANTORUM: Well, do you get a trial? I mean, look, I don't think there's any guarantee at this point based upon the process that the House has used that the Senate Republicans are actually going to go ahead. I can tell you in 1999 and 98, during the Clinton, there was a big effort on the part of the Democrats to have just an up or down vote, have no trial at all and there were a bunch of Republicans who just said, "You know what?"
BURNETT: So they just vote and that's it?
SANTORUM: Well, the Democrats wanted just to vote, they didn't want to hold any - nothing, just have a vote and get done with it. Why? And the answer was Tom Daschle said, "Look, we know how it's going to end, so why are we wasting all of this time?"
BURNETT: Because they knew he wasn't going to be (inaudible), same as in this case.
SANTORUM: Same as in this case and Republicans have the - look, the one thing that Democrats didn't have in the '90s was that the Republicans and the House actually ran a very open and fair process. I mean, it was a relative, I think it was a respectable impeachment process. It was a vote, it was bipartisan.
In this case, it is clearly much more partisan, it is much more limited and I think Republicans say, "Look, we don't want to validate this type of impeachment inquiry, because it's so overly politicized." Now, I'm not saying they're going to do that, but there's a very good chance they could.
The other side of that coin is there Republicans who think, "You know what? This is a legitimate impeachment and we have to handle it in a way that's proper." But I think the chance of a full trial in the United States Senate is close to zero.
BROWER: Erin, can I just push back on that?
BROWER: If Republican senators want to listen to all of the evidence in the Senate trial and vote to acquit, that's one thing. I respect their ability to properly digest the evidence and come to that conclusion based upon the facts. But this idea that the process has been unfair is simply just a Republican talking point. We are about to embark on a series of public hearings during which all of the evidence that has been gathered so far is going to come out in public, Republican members, the House are going to have a chance to cross examine all of the witnesses.
And only after that process will House members vote. So at the end of the day, at the end of the House process, I think it's going to be awfully tough for Republican senators to say that this was an unfair process.
NELSON: Erin, can I add?
NELSON: I'm sorry. Can I add a quick point?
BURNETT: OK, go ahead quickly, Sophia. Yes.
NELSON: Trump should take a lesson from Clinton's playbook. The Clinton White House handled his impeachment very differently than this White House is handling this impeachment and they should study Clinton closely because he came out of it, OK.
BURNETT: Well, he did and certainly he felt exonerated. All right. Thank you all very much. And next, the top Democrat leading tomorrow's impeachment hearings now says bribery could be added to articles of impeachment, why and what? And Joe Biden not letting up on Elizabeth Warren.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: What specifically is elitist about how she's pursuing Medicare for All?
JOE BIDEN, FORMER UNITED STATES VICE PRESIDENT, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: No, the attitude that we know better than ordinary people ...
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ERIN BURENTT, CNN HOST: Breaking news: House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff floating a new possible impeachment charge against President Trump at this hour, bribery, on the eve of the first public impeachment hearing. Schiff telling reporters tonight, quote: The standard will have to evaluate whether these facts show bribery, treason, high crimes and misdemeanors.
Lauren Fox is OUTFRONT on Capitol Hill.
And, Lauren, look, obviously, high crimes and misdemeanors are the definition of impeachment. He is now including the word bribery. Obviously, he does not do that by mistake or lightly.
So, what exactly is he talking about?
LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: Well, Erin, obviously, Democrats are looking forward to tomorrow's hearings as monumental. This is the reality, Democrats have the opportunity to tell the story to the American people from George Kent and from the top diplomat in Ukraine, Bill Taylor.
That all is coming together tomorrow and so basically, what he's saying here is that this is an opportunity for members as well to look at the charges and potentially decide on these articles of impeachment and he's not made his mind up yet about what exactly the House Democrats should do.
But, meanwhile, Republicans are also preparing and they had a mock hearing today where I am told, Lee Zeldin, one of the president's top defenders on Capitol Hill, he played Adam Schiff, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. That's very significant, of course, Erin, because we expect that Zeldin will be out on TV, defending the president over the next couple of days and it just shows you that Republicans and Democrats realizes that tomorrow is a huge day and a big opportunity for both sides -- Erin.
BURNETT: All right. Lauren, thank you very much.
I want to go OUTFRONT to one of the Democrats who will question witnesses at those hearings tomorrow, Congresswoman Jackie Speier, who's a member of the Intelligence Committee.
And I appreciate your time as always, Congresswoman.
Chairman Schiff now when he's listing out says bribery, treason, high crimes and misdemeanors -- bribery obviously notable here in its addition. Obviously, it is a possible article of impeachment.
Have you seen any evidence of bribery so far?
REP. JACKIE SPEIER (D-CA): Actually, Erin, I have been speaking out about the potentiality of it being bribery for some time. The elements of bribery are there. You have a president using his official office, using taxpayer money to demand from a foreign government that they bribed to do an investigation, to dig up dirt on the president's opponent on the upcoming election. The corrupt intent is there, as well in many ways.
Probably the most obvious is that they put the transcript or the summary of that phone call on July 25th into a special server. So that they could cover it up. Not to mention the fact that there are many other evidence of corrupt intent in that the president has lied. He said that it was a verbatim transcript when, in fact, it was a summary and there is evidence now that things were kept out of that summary.
But we have the corpus and the corpus is the summary of the telephone call which the president corroborated himself by releasing it.
BURNETT: When you say something left out, do you mean more than what we understand? We understand there were obviously a few word, but none of them changed the meaning and none of them took away from the fundamental use of the word favor. Are you aware of anything new?
SPEIER: Well, there were ellipses and certainly, Colonel Vindman's testimony suggested the words like Burisma or Biden were left out. And obviously that was the focus of it.
BURNETT: Right. I'm just pointing out, those words were in elsewhere and I'm trying to understand if there was something that fundamentally changed the meaning of it. One key complaint from Republicans ahead of tomorrow's first public
hearing is that Democrats have not scheduled hearings from any of the witnesses that Republicans want to call.
Congressman Steve Scalise put it this way. Here he is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. STEVE SCALISE (R-LA): You can see Chairman Schiff continues to deny our ability to bring out witnesses forward. He does not want the facts out. You know, he wants to run his own version of an impeachment witch hunt.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Obviously, they've said they want Hunter Biden. They've said they want the whistle-blower. Obviously, those appear to be non- starters with Democrat.
But what about some of the other people they want? They want Tim Morrison, the top Russia adviser and the national security adviser. Kurt Volker, State Department, also, special envoy, State Department official David Hale, all of them testified behind closed doors.
Will you allow any of them to testify publicly?
SPEIER: I think that they should be allowed to come and testify. That list was provided to us on Saturday, I believe. So, in the course of the hearings moving forward, I would recommend that they be allowed to testify.
This tin foil hat idea that's been debunked over and over again about the server that was in Ukraine that was associated with the DNC, the Democratic National Committee, and the Hunter Biden are really irrelevant in that when we're looking at, did the president attempt to bribe a foreign government to engage in our elections? Did he also ask a foreign government to investigate a U.S. citizen?
I mean, those are pretty dramatic things and yet they're there in black and white. So, our Republican colleagues felt compelled to talk about process when they can't argue the facts.
BURNETT: So, let me ask you one other point, though. They're also making the point that the testimony thus far that we've seen in transcript form has been secondhand and third hand, so people that come out have said what they believe and no one ever talked to the president. Bill Taylor who will testify tomorrow explicitly said I had no conversations with the president when Republican Congressman Zeldin kept following up, he was very clear and he said no, I did not have first-hand knowledge of the president.
Kent, also going to be testifying tomorrow, goes through a game of telephone, talking about Taylor. Taylor indicated he talked to Tim Morrison, Tim indicated he talked to Gordon Sondland, Gordon said he talked to the president in shorthand, and the president wanted this investigation. Are you concerned about this issue of second and third hand and no one
directly having talked to the president of the United States?
SPEIER: We don't have to have second or third persons or first persons talking to the president. The president released the transcript, the summary of the phone call which he specifically asks President Zelensky to investigate and then, all of a sudden, there's a withholding of military aid which was illegal and the withholding of a meeting with the president. So there's ample evidence there, and again, I think my colleagues on the Republican side are doing their best to put up a good face for the president, but he has his hands and his fingerprints are all over this.
BURNETT: Before we go, "The New York Times" reporting tonight, I don't know if you saw, congresswoman and president Trump has continuously raised the idea of firing Michael Atkinson, the intelligence community inspector general, right? He was the one who reported that whistle-blower and deemed it credible and urgent.
What do you make of that?
SPEIER: There are so many heroes, great patriots in the story that is being told. Mr. Atkinson is certainly one of them. I think that the ambassador that we're going to hear from tomorrow, Taylor, and Mr. Kent are all people who came forward even though they were told by the administration, you cannot talk to Congress even after they were subpoenaed and we have yet to get any of the documentation from the State Department. Again, another example of a cover-up.
So we don't have to look very far to see all of the fingerprints of a crime.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much. I appreciate your time, Congresswoman Speier.
SPEIER: Thank you.
BURNETT: And next, Pete Buttigieg soaring up 14 points tonight in the crucial state of Iowa. What's behind his surge?
Plus, Hillary Clinton's surprising new remarks about 2020.
BURNETT: New tonight, Pete Buttigieg surging up 14 points in a new poll of Iowa voters today, in the top tier with Biden and Elizabeth Warren, according to Monmouth. Meantime, Biden has lost ground. He's down seven points since August, Warren also down, but not by as much.
OUTFRONT now, "New York Times" politics editor, Patrick Healy.
So, Patrick, all right, this is obviously one snapshot, one day, one poll, but nonetheless, great news for Pete Buttigieg in here. Eighty- three days away from the caucuses. When you look at history and you look at timing, what does it mean for Buttigieg that he has have to surge now?
PATRICK HEALY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: It's really important momentum and it's important because it's happening organically. It's not that Pete Buttigieg is spending money. He's certainly traveling around Iowa, but it's not because of strange gimmicks and it's not a flash in the pan debate performance that spikes and then falls like what happened with Kamala Harris.
Pete Buttigieg is spending a lot of time on a bus driving around Iowa talking to reporters from Iowa, local press, TV, doing multiple events a day and he's winning Iowa voters over. So, there are questions about whether he might be peaking too early, but the reality is he's operating on a playbook that's led candidates to win in Iowa. It happened with John Kerry when he developed momentum against Howard Dean. It happened with Barack Obama against Hillary.
BURNETT: All right. So, Biden has been digging on Warren thus far, right? I mean, obviously, we got Pete Buttigieg surge, we'll see what happens, but last night in our town hall, very explicitly going after her on a very clear theme. Let me just show you.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: You talked about her support for Medicare-for-All last week. You attacked her. I think it's a fair word. The quote was from you it's just an elitist attitude about you're either my way or the highway.
JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Let's get something straight. She attacked me. She said Biden is a coward.
BURNETT: What, specifically, is elitist about how she's pursuing Medicare for all.
BIDEN: The attitude that we know better than ordinary people what's in their interest. I know more than you. Let me tell you what to do.
Where I come from, growing up in a middle-class neighborhood, the last thing I liked is telling my family and me what we should know and what we should believe, as though somehow we weren't informed, that we -- just because we didn't have money, we weren't knowledgeable. I resent that.
And I wasn't talking about her, I was talking about the attitude that if you don't agree with me, get in the other party. I'm more of a Democrat from my shoe sole to my ears than about anybody running in this party, OK?
BURNETT: Including her?
BIDEN: Including everybody.
Imagine if I said to her, well, you should be in a Republican -- you should be in a socialist primary. Biden is being -- you'd all say that. You know it.
BURNETT: Well, do you think she should?
BIDEN: No. I'm not going to get in a fight.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: OK, Patrick, here he is, he clearly believes labeling her as an elitist and we saw it in several different ways there that that's going to work.
HEALY: Right. It's very much -- he's on to something, Erin. I mean, there is real concern in the Democratic Party, moderate wing certainly, but also among some liberals that maybe Medicare-for-All is not going to be a winner against Donald Trump, and he's certain look on to something that voters in Iowa, voters in swing states don't like to be sort of told what is right for them in terms of how the government should provide services for them.
The reality is, though, he's glomming on to a pretty personal attack, calling her an elitist, calling her an academic, saying that she's talking down to middle-class people. Doing that against a female candidate can be pretty dangerous, especially someone like Joe Biden who has had high favorable in terms of likability. He's also been a very sort of courteous person, with opponents he says my good friend. So, there's some risk in him taking her on.
But the reality is Joe Biden is going after middle-class voters, you heard that callout in what he was saying to you, and he's going after the center and there still is a lot of concern about Medicare-for-All.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Patrick Healy.
And next, breaking news, Democrats have just announced more witnesses that will testify publicly in impeachment hearings next week. All right. Who are they? Do they give Republicans their names?
Plus, Jeanne on Biden's favorite come back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: C'mon, man. C'mon, man. C'mon, man.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Breaking news: House Democrats just announcing eight additional witnesses who have agreed to testify publicly in the impeachment hearings.
I want to go back to Lauren Fox, OUTFRONT on Capitol Hill.
All right. This is very important. This is eight people, Lauren, who's on the list? FOX: Well, Erin, this is obviously scoring a busy, busy week that's
coming up next week on Capitol Hill. As you said, Kurt Volker expected on Tuesday, Alexander Vindman also expected on Tuesday and that, of course, is the NSC official.
And then you have Tim Morrison, a White House aid, and Jennifer Williams.
And on Wednesday, we will hear testimony from Gordon Sondland, Cooper and David Hale. Now, Gordon Sondland, of course, is very important character because he amended his original testimony, his original deposition to say that upon recollection, he did recall that U.S. military aid was tied to the announcement of investigations into President Trump's enemies.
Of course, there also is going to be more on Thursday. We're going to hear from Fiona Hill. She will be testifying alone and that underscores the fact that Democrats view her as a very important witness, the fact that they're going to have her testifying alone.
Also important to remember, Erin, is the fact that three of these witnesses on the list are individuals that the Republicans requested. So Democrats giving them an opportunity to hear from the people they wanted to hear from. Of course, not mentioned in this list is Hunter Biden or the whistle-blower individuals, of course, that Republicans wanted to hear from that Adam Schiff, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said would not be permissible -- Erin.
BURNETT: All right. Lauren, thank you very much. No doubt though, obviously, as Lauren points out, not get Hunter Biden, but Republicans did ask for Kurt Volker and David Hale and Tim Morrison, all three of whom Democrats did invite to testify.
And tonight, a new plan from Democrats to tax the reach. Two lawmakers proposing taxing people who make over a million dollars. With an additional 10 percent income tax. It would impact a lot more people than Elizabeth Warren's current proposal of a 2 percent tax on people with $50 million. But it may have a way higher chance of becoming law.
OUTFRONT now, one of the two lawmakers proposing a new tax, Senator Chris Van Hollen.
Senator, I appreciate your time. It's good to have you back.
SEN. CHRIS VAN HOLLEN (D-MD): Good to be with you.
BURNETT: So, Elizabeth Warren's wealth tax applied to households with net worth of $50 million and more. Your plan affects individuals making more than a million dollars. Obviously, in Democratic stronghold states like New York or California, your top rates all in with go to up about 60 percent.
Why do you think this is the best and right thing to do? VAN HOLLEN: Well, Erin, I think it is the best and right thing to do
for a couple of reasons. Number one, it is simple. It is very hard to game and the American public understands it and all of the polling shows that people support it.
We're talking about a 10 percent surcharge on people who make a million dollars a year as individuals or $2 million a year as a couple. That's about 0.2 percent, 0.2 percent of all taxpayers. And we would use that revenue to invest in trying to grow wages and income for other Americans by investing in education and job training so that we can begin to close this huge wealth gap that we're seeing in the country right now.
BURNETT: So, Senator, Elizabeth Warren insists her plan is about taxing extreme wealth, right? She talks about billionaires. She talks about $50 million.
Obviously, you agree that the wealthy need to pay more but it's pretty clear you don't think she could draw the line with she is. You think it needs to be a lot lower, right? One million versus $50 million, you're talking a totally --
VAN HOLLEN: Well, Erin, no -- but look these are not inconsistent. What we're trying to is give people a number of policy choices, when we get to a point, hopefully, about a year now from the election when we have to start moving the country forward again, meaning we need to be investing in education and job training. And so, there'll be a lot of options out there for the best way to do this.
Sherrod Brown and I and Don Beyer in the House think this proposal which will raise about $635 billion over ten years to make those important investments in everybody else's success is a smart and effective way to go. We're not saying it is the only way to go. But we do think it is a -- a good proposal and I think it is going to get a lot of traction.
BURNETT: So, look, I spoke to billionaire investor Leon Cooperman last night. As you're well aware, right, he has been sort of in a war of words with Elizabeth Warren and they've -- he's written her a long letter and spoken out about him. Here is what he said last night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LEON COOPERMAN, BILLIONAIRE INVESTOR: I think she's a politician in the worst sense of the word. OK? And what I mean by that is more poor people than rich people so these trying to appeal to the larger group. But the reality is, what is the purpose of vilifying successful people that have done well for society? I don't get it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Is that what this is about? Is that what Democrats are doing? Pandering to people? Vilifying others?
VAN HOLLEN: No, not at all. Look, what Elizabeth Warren is trying to do and what others are trying
to do is find a way where we can come up with a resources to invest in the country and in education in a way that will help grow incomes for every American, not the folks at the very top. I mean, the Trump tax giveaway ended up benefiting disproportionately people at the very, very top, while it added $2 trillion to our deficit.
VAN HOLLEN: So, what you see are a series of proposals to address that issue. We're not -- we're not trying to vilify anybody. We're trying to make sure that the country has a successful future, that means we need to invest in our future and we need to ask the folks who are doing very well to do more.
BURNETT: For sure. And know your shorthanding to make your case, so I'm not trying to imply that you don't have a full plan. But when you say invest in jobs and retraining, we hear that a lot, right?
And there is a new tax proposal or money raised and then the same words are used again to justify the next one.
So, what is it about another 10 percent tax that would you put that you would do differently than other job retraining programs that were put out, for example, by President Obama?
VAN HOLLEN: Oh, Erin, we are underfunded in every area of education, starting with early education and early head start. The number of kids who qualify for early head start is huge. The amount of kids that actually get head start is very small.
And you can take that right up the grade scale in terms of our investment at the federal level we're way underinvested in what the government itself has said is necessary to provide American kids with the quality education.
So, this is about trying to move the country forward, asking people who have done very, very well, again the 0.2 percent of taxpayers to do more. And I should point out this is not just a tax on earned income. It also includes folks who make money off of money. And that is what makes this proposal different than many of the others as well.
BURNETT: All right. Well, Senator, I appreciate your time. Thanks as always. Appreciate it.
VAN HOLLEN: Thank you. Good to be with you.
BURNETT: And next, Jeanne on what should be Joe Biden's campaign slogan.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: C'mon, man. C'mon, man. C'mon, man.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Tonight, Joe Biden has a lot of people saying c'mon, man.
JEANNE MOOS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It is the ultimate Joe Biden c'mon.
BIDEN: C'mon, man.
MOOS: Used to convey everything from sarcasm.
BIDEN: My heartbreaks. C'mon, man.
MOOS: To enthusiasm.
BIDEN: C'mon, man. Let's do it.
MOOS: In just a single interview, we counted four of them.
BIDEN: C'mon, man.
Oh, c'mon, man.
MOOS: Oh, sure, other Bidenisms might be plentiful.
BIDEN: Look. Look. Look. Look.
The fact of the matter is. The fact of the matter is.
Folks. Folks. Folks. Look, folks.
MOOS: Let look, folks.
BIDEN: C'mon, man.
MOOS: It's so much more expressive.
BIDEN: It is all about around the clock sex, it's all -- c'mon, man.
MOOS: Whether he's dismissing outdated attitudes, or challenging President Trump to a push-up contest.
BIDEN: C'mon, Donald, c'mon, man. How many push-ups you want to do here, pal?
MOOS: At least C'mon, man is G-rated for expressing exasperation. It's a handy alternative to stuff that needs bleeped.
TRUMP: With ridiculous bull (EXPLETIVE DELETED).
MOOS: Joe Biden's former boss employed it.
BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT: C'mon. C'mon, man.
MOOS: But did Obama get it from Biden or Biden from Obama? Maybe one or the other got it from the ESPN sports segment --
UNIDENTIFEID MALE: C'mon man.
MOOS: Joe Biden's C'mon, man has got to the point that right wingers have come to his defense.
A "New York Times" columnist wrote about the bro-iness of Joe Biden calling c'mon man a rhetorical device that men use among themselves in locker rooms and barbershops to reinforce masculinity.
Conservatives criticize the criticism for being PC.
Comic side Andy Richter credited Biden when describing his dog crowding him in the car: In the words of Joe Biden, c'mon, man. An expression Joe hangs on to like a dog with a bone.
BIDEN: C'mon, man.
MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.
BURNETT: And thanks for joining us.
"AC360" with Anderson starts now.