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Democrats Drafting Articles of Impeachment; Interview With Rep. Madeleine Dean (D-PA); Giuliani Ally Who Pushed Debunked Theory Of Ukraine Election Meddling Says He'll Testify; Saudi Military Trainee Identified As Gunman In Deadly Attack At Naval Air Station In Florida; Uber Reveals Nearly 6,000 Reports of Sexual Assault. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired December 6, 2019 - 18:00   ET



WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Happening now, breaking news: impeachment defiance.

The White House just sent an angry letter to Congress, making it clear that it's boycotting House impeachment hearings and unleashing a new tirade against Democrats.

Prepping for the hearing. We're going behind the scenes, as Democrats work through the weekend, gearing up for another historic week in their push to impeach President Trump.

Rudy's dig for dirt. The president's personal lawyer has been holding more meetings in Ukraine, as he and other Trump allies keep pursuing debunked conspiracy theories. Is this a taste of what we will see at a Senate impeachment trial?

And deadly base attack. A member of the Saudi military opens fire at a U.S. Naval air station in Florida. We will have the latest on the shooting and whether it was an act of terror.

We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BLITZER: We're following breaking news.

The White House is formally refusing to take part in the House impeachment inquiry, rejecting an invitation to defend the president at a hearing next week.

The Judiciary Committee was just notified of that decision in a letter from the top White House lawyer, dismissing the entire investigation as a charade.

The committee is working overtime this weekend to prepare for Monday morning's hearing, when impeachment investigators will lay out evidence against Mr. Trump.

Tonight, we're told some moderate Democrats are growing anxious about the process and impatient with their leaders, fearing the final articles of impeachment might, in their view, go too far.

This hour, I will talk to the White House Judiciary Committee member Madeleine Dean. And our correspondents and analysts are also standing by.

First, let's go to our chief White House correspondent, Jim Acosta.

Jim, this new letter to Democrats is a reflection of the president's rage.


As expected, the White House will not be cooperating with the House Judiciary Committee's hearings in the impeachment inquiry. White House counsel Pat Cipollone just fired off this letter right here. It is not a love letter, reiterating the administration's frustrations with the process led by House Democrats.

And while the letter does not specifically state the White House won't be cooperating, a senior administration official says that's exactly what it means, no participation. Aides to the president are now plotting a political strategy to ramp up pressure on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, warning she will lose her majority if the president is impeached.


ACOSTA (voice-over): With the White House digging in and signaling the administration won't participate in the next stage of the impeachment inquiry in the House, President Trump ignored the questions swirling around him.

A new letter from White House counsel Pat Cipollone all but tells House Democrats to get lost, saying -- quote -- "As you know, your impeachment inquiry is completely baseless and has violated basically principles of due process and fundamental fairness."

While the letter does not specifically rule out White House involvement in the process, a senior official tells CNN the administration will not cooperate with the proceedings.

Aides to the president are making it all about House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, predicting she will pay a political price for impeaching Mr. Trump, already putting targets on moderate Democrats in vulnerable districts.

TONY SAYEGH, WHITE HOUSE SENIOR ADVISER: If they actually go forward with the impeachment articles, that Nancy Pelosi solidified the fact that she will not be speaker of the House next year, because the Democrats will absolutely lose their majority in the House of Representatives.

ACOSTA: The White House complained Pelosi was barreling toward impeachment before the Judiciary Committee's Friday deadline for the administration to decide whether to cooperate in the process. HOGAN GIDLEY, WHITE HOUSE DEPUTY PRESS SECRETARY: I do think it's

somewhat interesting, though, that Nancy Pelosi is set to move forward with articles of impeachment, even though we haven't responded to the letter.

But that shouldn't be a shock because she also wanted to move forward with articles of impeachment before we actually released the transcript.

ACOSTA: But White House officials are still dodging some big questions, as in what the president's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani has been up to all week in Ukraine.

QUESTION: Is the president aware of what Rudy Giuliani is doing in Ukraine?

GIDLEY: That's a question between Rudy and the president.

QUESTION: Is he comfortable with what Rudy is doing in Ukraine?

GIDLEY: I haven't spoken with him about that directly, but, obviously, Rudy Giuliani can speak for himself. He's the president's personal attorney.

ACOSTA: Democrats are buying the White House response, noting Giuliani was a central figure on the president's alleged dirt-for- dollars deal with the leader of Ukraine.

REP. JACKIE SPEIER (D-CA): I don't for a moment believe that the president is telling the truth when he says he doesn't know why Rudy is there digging up dirt. As was pointed out, he has specifically asked any number of people to take directions from Rudy Giuliani on the Burisma-Biden investigation that he so desperately wanted.

ACOSTA: Hundreds of the nation's top legal scholars have written an open letter stating the president has met the threshold for impeachment, adding: "His conduct is precisely the type of threat to our democracy that the feared when they included the remedy of impeachment in the Constitution."


The president is sounding like a broken record, repeating some of his grievances about the inquiry, tweeting: "Where's the fake whistle- blower? Where's whistle-blower number two? Where's the phony and former who got it all wrong?"

Mr. Trump is also touting the economy, which created more than 260,000 new jobs last month, as the unemployment rate ticked down to 3.5 percent. The president is taking credit for that performance, pointing to his record of deregulation.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The new bulb is many times more expensive. And I hate to say it. It doesn't make you look as good, of course. Being a vain person, that's very important to me.


TRUMP: It's like it gives you an orange look. I don't want an orange look.



ACOSTA: The letter from the White House counsel, Pat Cipollone, rejecting the House impeachment inquiry ends by quoting the president's tweet earlier this week when Mr. Trump called on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to impeach him quickly.

The tweet, as you know, the president said, Wolf, it says: "If you're going to impeach me do it now fast, so we can have a fair trial in the Senate."

The House speaker appears to be doing just that, as the House is on course to impeach the president by the holidays -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Yes. They're moving very, very fast.

Jim Acosta, thank you very much.

Let's get some more on the refusal by the White House to defend the president in the House impeachment inquiry and how the process is moving forward tonight.

Our congressional correspondent, Phil Mattingly, is joining us.

Phil, the impeachment inquiry moving forward in the House without any involvement by the Trump White House.


Well, moving forward is the best way to term things right now. Just one day after Speaker Nancy Pelosi instructed her committee chairmen to draft articles of impeachment, it has been made clear by the White House they will not be participating in any point during this process, a process that is moving quickly and a process that almost assures President Trump will become the third president in U.S. history to be impeached.


MATTINGLY (voice-over): Tonight, the White House making it official.

The White House counsel in a blistering two-paragraph letter to Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler saying the inquiry is -- quote -- "completely baseless and has violated basic principles of due process and fundamental fairness," leaving a divided House to move forward in a process that will kick into high gear next week.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): Facts are clear. The Constitution is clear. The president violated the Constitution. MATTINGLY: With the House Judiciary Committee set to hold its second

impeachment hearing on Monday, where majority and minority counsel for the Intelligence and Judiciary committees will present their impeachment reports, the first action in what will be a defining week for the Trump presidency, with Democrats likely to reveal and vote in committee on articles of impeachment by the end of the week, setting up a final floor vote the week of December 16.

The debate over what those articles of impeachment will look like, however, still very much under way. Speaker Nancy Pelosi, sources say, hearing out all corners of the caucus on whether to include elements of special counsel Robert Mueller's report in the final articles, an issue that is divided moderate Democrats from their more liberal colleagues.

But asked specifically about adding Mueller's finding as an article of obstruction of justice, the speaker made clear in a CNN town hall Thursday, the process remains very much closely held.

PELOSI: We're operating collectively. With all due respect, I'm not going to answer one charge. We're not writing the articles of impeachment here tonight.

REP. JUSTIN AMASH (I-MI): It's a process.

MATTINGLY: Today, Republican turned independent Justin Amash of Michigan telling CNN he's ready to vote for articles of impeachment, but Democratic leaders acknowledge some of their members may defect.

REP. JAMES CLYBURN (D-SC): Well, we do expect to lose some. And that's why I say it is a conscience vote, and it's with their constituents. We have a very diverse caucus.


MATTINGLY: And, Wolf, to underscore the significance of next week's action in the House Judiciary Committee, Democratic members are expected to stay in town, work through the weekend on what is actually coming up, both in the hearing and going forward from there.

As for the Republican counterparts, Doug Collins, the top Republican on the committee, sending a letter to Chairman Jerry Nadler today requesting eight specific witnesses to be called.

Among those witnesses, Adam Schiff, the House Intelligence Committee chairman, Hunter Biden, the whistle-blower, all witnesses that, based on the rules of the House impeachment inquiry, won't be called. Democrats have the power to say no to all of them and likely will, but underscoring where Republicans defense has been, will be, and I think will continue to be over the course of not just the House inquiry, but also the Senate inquiry, as the White House wraps up for that -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Phil Mattingly up on Capitol Hill, thank you very much.

We're joined now by a House Democrat on the Judiciary Committee who is drafting articles of impeachment, Congresswoman Madeleine Dean. Congresswoman, thanks so much for joining us.

REP. MADELEINE DEAN (D-PA): Good evening, Wolf.

BLITZER: And, as you heard, the White House says the impeachment inquiry is completely baseless, as it turns down your committee's invitation to participate in the hearings.

What's your response to the administration's criticism?

DEAN: Well, I'm not surprised that the administration is not participating, because they have not been able to deny a single piece of the evidence that is so damning against this president.


We have the evidence, sadly. This is an extraordinarily difficult week and time for our country. It is about the president's words. It is about the president's behavior when he betrayed his oath and he betrayed our country, asking for interference in our elections.

BLITZER: There's clearly some division, though, emerging within your Democratic Party over whether to include Mueller's findings in the articles of impeachment.

What about you? Are you in favor of including that evidence, as well as the Ukraine evidence?

DEAN: I will tell you, Wolf, as a member of the Judiciary Committee, because of the work that I know I'm going to participate in, I'm not going to prejudge the articles.

But I don't think this is about special counsel Mueller. I think it's about the president. He abused his own office. And it's a pattern of behavior. When he was a candidate, he welcomed the interference of Russia in our 2016 election.

And then, the day after special counsel Mueller testified to our committee and to the Intelligence Committee, he learned nothing from that, and in fact himself asked, demanded, implored Ukraine to interfere in the upcoming election.

Remember what it's about. It's for his personal political gain. It's not about us. It's not about the safety and security of our country. In fact, it makes us less safe. It makes our elections less safe. This is extraordinarily and entirely about the president's behavior.

BLITZER: Well, I just want to press you for a sec.

Should the Mueller conclusions also be included in articles of impeachment?

DEAN: I haven't decided that. I'm actually in conversations with the members of Judiciary, with the chairman of Judiciary.

And I'm pretty certain that much of our input is being taken. But we have leadership who will finalize the articles of impeachment. What must be included is the damning evidence of the president's corrupt behaviors that violate the impeachment clause of our Constitution. That's what I want included.

BLITZER: Because alienating moderate Democrats, clearly, that could be a risk that party leadership certainly doesn't want to take right now. They'd like to see a unanimous decision the part of Democrats.

We saw some of that a division emerge in the last hour here in THE SITUATION ROOM, Congressman Max Rose, a more moderate Democrat, vs Congressman Steve Cohen. They clearly disagree on a lot of this.

DEAN: I think they may disagree. I didn't see that coverage. And I know and admire both of them, to be very honest.

What I thought this week's hearing with the professors proved is that this is not about those kinds of political disagreements. This is absolutely about the words of our founders, the things that they worried about. They reminded us that we depend upon our Constitution, but our Constitution depends upon us.

If we don't uphold it, if we don't protect the precious nature of our Constitution and of our democracy, then where will we be? We will be suffering a monarchy. We will be suffering one person who believes he is above the law.

We can't tolerate that.

BLITZER: Do you expect to discuss the framing of specific articles of impeachment with House leadership this weekend?

DEAN: I hope to, yes, frankly.

BLITZER: When will a decision about the scope of the articles, do you believe, when will it be made?

DEAN: I don't know. I'm not in charge of that calendar. You know me, Wolf. I'm a freshman member of Judiciary. I'm one of the worker bees. And I take my oath very, very seriously.

And I'm with Speaker Pelosi in terms of the way she has framed this. This is an extraordinarily sad and sober time for our country. But I believe our country is up to it. And I believe and I have the confidence that our Constitution is up to it.

In terms of the calendar, I can't help you.

BLITZER: There will be a very important House Judiciary Committee hearing Monday morning. Intelligence Committee lawyers will be appearing. They will be testifying before your committee.

What questions do you still have? Are we going to learn anything new?

DEAN: I'm not certain of that.

I certainly hope to be a useful member of that hearing. It's an evidentiary hearing to bring forward in greater detail, in greater frame for the American public the sad corruption and abuse of office and betrayal of an oath by the president of the United States.

Remember, this is an extraordinarily tough time. When I go home to my constituents, Wolf, they're so worried. They're worried for our country. They're worried for our democracy. They believe that we're on the right course, though they know it's really difficult.

They also wonder, what are we doing about the other things that we're legislating about? And I remind them, we have passed 400 bills, two important bills today. And yet 80 percent of them sit dead in the Senate.

So we're going to keep working. We're going to do this important task of impeachment. We are charged by the speaker, because she wants to uphold and knows that she has an obligation to uphold our Constitution. We're going to write those articles of impeachment. We're going to debate them.

We're going to make them as precise and thoughtful as possible. And then we will bring them to the floor for a vote.

BLITZER: Congresswoman Madeleine Dean, thanks so much for joining us.

DEAN: Good night. Thank you.

BLITZER: There's more breaking news just ahead on the defiant refusal by the White House to take part in House impeachment hearings.


Will it matter?


BLITZER: We're following a lot of breaking news on impeachment right now.

The president is thumbing his nose at House Democrats tonight with the White House refusal to take part in House hearings. In a seething letter to the Judiciary Committee, the White House slammed the impeachment investigation as completely baseless and a charade.


Let's bring in our analysts to discuss.

And, Gloria Borger, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Adam Schiff, he just responded to that White House letter, tweeting this, saying: "The White House said they wanted open hearings, not closed, and then they didn't want those either. Then they said they wanted to participate in the proceedings. And now they say they don't. All they really want us to hide the president's serious misconduct. It's not working."

Is that strategy a fair point? Is he making a fair point? GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, they're not going

to play ball with the House. And that may be a mistake on their part. It may not be.

They believe they're going to get a fair trial in the Senate. And so what they have decided to do is just deride the process.

I think Pat Cipollone's letter to the committee may be history-making, Wolf, because it is the first time I can recall -- and I might be wrong -- that a White House counsel has actually written a letter quoting a presidential tweet, in which he says, "If you are going to impeach me, do it now fast, so we can have a fair trial in the Senate."

And it goes on a bit. But this letter is quoting the president's tweet. And it's clearly -- if it wasn't dictated by the president, at least it has -- they have decided now to let him run their strategy.

BLITZER: Yes, that's an important point, indeed.

David Axelrod, the White House clearly has been reluctant to, from their perspective, legitimize the impeachment process. But in refusing to take part, is it also giving up its ability to influence the hearings in the House?

DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Look, the bottom line, Wolf, is, the facts are not friendly to the president here.

If the facts were friendly to the president, then they would have allowed the key witnesses who have been withheld to testify. They would have turned documents over to the committee. The facts here are fairly plain, based on the testimony of the witnesses and the president's own conversation, as reported in the White House transcript or account of a transcript.

So, in lieu of a good defense to that, they have gone tribal, they have gone partisan. They want to discredit the process. And it's hard to discredit the process if you participate in it. And I think they want to convey the sense, as you have heard all of his defenders say, that this is all a railroad job, a partisan railroad job.

And so they're going to go down -- they're going to go to the Senate, where they think they're going to get a better partisan jury, as it were, and take their chances there.

I think the strategy has been pretty consistent from the beginning. And I think the biggest surprise today would have been is if the White House said, yes, we're going to participate now.

BLITZER: You know, Susan Hennessey, Jerry Nadler, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, just released his reaction.

Let me read it to you: "The American people deserve answers from President Trump. The House invited and then subpoenaed his top advisers. The president ordered them not to show and continues to block key evidence from Congress. We are disappointed that the president has once again failed to provide those answers here."

He goes on to say: "We gave President Trump a fair opportunity to question witnesses and present his own, to address the overwhelming evidence before us. After listening to him complain about the impeachment process, we had hoped that he might accept our invitation. If the president has no good response to the allegations, then he would not want to appear before the committee.

"Having declined this opportunity, he cannot claim that the process is unfair. The president's failure will not prevent us from carrying on our solemn constitutional duty."

What do you think, Susan?

SUSAN HENNESSEY, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, look, I don't think that the president's arguments and sort of process objections were ever being made in good faith.

They never intended to actually participate in a reasonable way in this process. That said, I think it's important to note that it's not even that the White House is raising privilege arguments or specific assertions of privilege or immunity in a lot of these cases.

The president of the United States is just telling people not to answer subpoenas outright.

And so that's why I think that Nadler's -- both Nadler's specific response here and also the general behavior of the committee makes it relatively clear that what they're going to do here is, if the president decides to continue in this essentially course of obstruction, that is going to become the basis of another article of impeachment, and it is going to become a basis of obstruction of Congress, and that, really, they aren't going to spend much time indulging these process arguments, in part because I think that there is pretty clear understanding at this point that they're not being offered in good faith.

BLITZER: Shawn Turner, the House Intelligence Committee lawyers, the professional staff members, they will testify before the Judiciary Committee Monday morning.

Do you anticipate they will reveal new information?

SHAWN TURNER, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, Wolf, I'm not certain that we're going to see much in the way of new information, but I do think there are a couple of key things to look forward in that testimony.


Look, as everyone has said, the Republicans have attacked the process of this impeachment inquiry from the very beginning. And, certainly, these lawyers will be able to speak to it.

And I think that's going to continue. But these lawyers will be able to speak to some aspects of the process, of the behind-the-scenes kind of thinking behind the way that the way the chairmen move forward.

And so I think that that's going to be a kind of a very interesting back and forth with regards to the process question.

The other thing they will be able to shed some light on is, look, we have a lot of details, but there are a lot of other details that are -- that didn't make it into the report and that we're not fully aware of. And I think these lawyers will get at a lot of questions on those kind of -- the minutiae of some of the details that we already have.

So I do think it'll be interesting, but I'm not sure that we will see much in the way of new bombshell revelations on Monday.

BLITZER: All right, everybody, stand by.

There's a lot more news developing right now, including President Trump's personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, still digging in Ukraine for political dirt to help the president, even as Mr. Trump faces impeachment.

Plus, investigators looking for possible ties to terrorism in a deadly shooting at a U.S. Navy base.



BLITZER: We're following multiple breaking stories this hour. Tonight, CNN has learned that an ally of Rudy Giuliani already has been contacted by Senate staff and has agreed to testify about a debunked conspiracy theory he helped promote that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election.

CNN's Rene Marsh is her to break it all down for us.

Rene, will this Ukrainian help Giuliani continue to push this bogus conspiracy theory?

RENE MARSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, in a word, yes. And we're talking about a former Ukrainian diplomat, Andriy Telizhenko. He used to be based in the Ukrainian embassy here in Washington, D.C. But now, he is no longer based here in Washington, D.C.

However, he is known to push the conspiracy theory that it was Ukraine and not Russia that meddled in the U.S. election. That's often in line with what Mr. Giuliani would like Americans to believe. So, yes, this is someone who would certainly repeat and parrot a lot of the conspiracy theories that you have heard the president's personal attorney pushing, Wolf.

BLITZER: Rene, where is Rudy Giuliani now, as far as we know, and what is he up to?

MARSH: Well, Rudy Giuliani telling CNN's Dana Bash today that he wrapped up that trip in Ukraine. He's been in Europe this week. It's been a part of this bid to keep digging into dirt on the President Trump's political rivals.

As Democrats essentially continue to move towards these articles of impeachment, it is unclear where Giuliani is, as we speak. But last night into this morning, he has been tweeting. And his tweets, Wolf, can only be characterized in one way, false.

On Thursday, he tweeted this, and we have the Thursday tweet. He says that the accounts chamber in Ukraine found an alleged misuse of $5.3 billion in U.S. funds during the Obama administration while Biden was the point man.

Well, here are the facts. Multiple countries provided that $5.3 billion, not solely the U.S. And CNN spoke with a financial expert in Kiev who found that the U.S. provided only $1.4 billion. That's based on a 2017 report by Ukraine's account chamber. The chamber also reported improper accounting but they didn't say there was any misuse of the $5.3 billion.

Let's go back to the tweet from Thursday night. He also says that the Obama embassy urged Ukraine police not to investigate all of this. Well, we can tell you there is no evidence to support that accusation that the U.S. embassy urged the Ukrainian police not to investigate. We should also point out once again there would be no reason to investigate because no one said there was any misuse of this money in Ukraine.

Let's fast forward to Friday morning. That is when Giuliani tweeted this. Much of the $5.3 billion in U.S. aid that Ukraine reported as misused was given to the embassy's favored NGOs, that's non- governmental organizations. Well, we spoke with that same financial expert who points out that, actually, only 6 percent of the total funding, so just a very small slice went to non-governmental organizations, whereas the majority of this money, 70 percent of it went towards nuclear power station security and military support.

So all in all, when you look at Giuliani's tweets from last night and to this morning, tweets like this, coupled with the trip to Europe that he took this week, they are all part of what critics are calling this disinformation campaign, Wolf, where they're essentially trying to create this counter argument to defend the president.

BLITZER: Excellent reporting as usual, Rene. Thank you very much.

Let's talk a little bit more about all of this with the former top lawyer over at the FBI, CNN Legal Analyst, Jim Baker.

So, Jim, this Ukrainian associate of Rudy Giuliani has agreed apparently to testify on Ukraine 2016 election and the DNC. What does this reveal about Giuliani's motives for his trip to Ukraine?

JIM BAKER, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I think it reveals that -- what's going to happen, I think, is that the House is going to indict the president but the Senate is going to try President Obama and Vice President Biden.

[18:35:08] In other words, they're going to try to hit the focus away from the president's conduct to the conduct that happened in 2016, what was going on, all these other allegations that we've heard about Vice President Biden. I think that's what they're going to try to do. That's -- there are going to be witnesses, it appears, who come in and talk about these various conspiracy theories. They're going to try to introduce evidence in a form of testimony and perhaps other documents and other reported facts or evidence, material that purports to be evidence. So I think that's what they're going to try to do, Wolf.

BLITZER: But do sitting U.S. senators -- do they continue to legitimize these conspiracy theories which have been promoted, as you know, by the Russian intelligence services by conducting this investigation?

BAKER: Well, the question here is, I think, who is going to be in charge of the trial. And what I've been thinking today is that probably one of the least happy people in America right now is Mitch McConnell, because he is going to have to try to preside over this whole thing. And I think the president and his immediate advisers are going to try to micromanage what happens in the Senate.

So I'm not sure that the senators are actually -- I mean, they'll be voting, and they'll vote on what evidence comes in, they'll vote on the rules. They'll ultimately decide whether the president should be removed or not. But I don't think that they're actually going to be in control. I would speculate that the president is going to be calling the shots and perhaps live tweeting during the proceedings if he's not happy with how things are going.

BLITZER: But as you know, some Republican senators have already expressed deep concern, this whole thing, if there's a trial in the Senate, it looks almost certainly like there will be a trial in the Senate, this could turn out to be a circus and they don't want that. The Republicans, remember, they have 53 senators, 47 Democrats. You need a simple majority to move, to get witnesses to appear, things along that line. It's, by no means, a done deal.

BAKER: No, that's absolutely true. But they're under tremendous pressure from the president and he's going to be calling them out if they don't vote -- I would expect that he would call them out if they don't vote the way that he wants with respect to questions of evidence. Because, remember, the Senate decides both the evidentiary questions, what the rules are for the proceeding and so on, and then they ultimately are the jurors in the sense that they decide whether to impeach or not.

But I don't think they're really going to be in control in the way they think. And they haven't been able to resist pressure from the White House so far and I just don't know how they're going to do it.

BLITZER: Rudy Giuliani, as you know, is already under federal investigation for his work in Ukraine. Are his current efforts -- do you believe, Jim, are they putting him at further legal risk?

BAKER: Yes. This is one I've struggled to try to understand. Yes, I do think they are putting him at further legal risk. And so I'm asking myself why in the world is he doing this. Isn't somebody telling him not to do this, this is a bad idea?

And to be honest, I have no evidence of this, but I'm starting to wonder whether he has an understanding with the president, that no matter what he does, the president will pardon him before he leaves office, whether that's in 2020 or sometime thereafter. Otherwise, this doesn't make any sense to me. I don't why he would be doing this.

Giuliani is a smart person. He should know that he's exposing himself legally here and yet he's proceeding forward. And I just don't get it other than this pardon theory. And I admit that it's fully -- I fully meant it's a theory.

BLITZER: Yes. All right, Jim Baker, as usual, thanks so much for joining us.

There's another major story that's breaking right now, a deadly shooting attack at a U.S. Navy Base, the naval base in Florida. The gunman was a member of the Saudi military. Is there a terror connection? We're getting new information.



BLITZER: There's more breaking news we're following. Two law enforcement sources now tell CNN the gunman who killed at least three people at a U.S. Navy Base in Pensacola, Florida has been identified as Saudi military trainee Mohammed Alshamrani.

CNN's Pentagon Correspondent, Barbara Starr, is working the story for us. So, Barbara, what are you picking up there?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, there are about 5,004 military students in the United States enrolled in military training courses. About 800 of them are Saudis. The majority, of course, served very honorably. Earlier today, tragically, that was not the case.


GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): This is a dark day for a great place.

STARR: Florida Governor Ron DeSantis confirming that the suspected gunman in today's mass shooting at Naval Air Station Pensacola is a member of the Saudi military. He was there for aviation training. A motive has not yet been identified but FBI investigators are looking into whether the shooting was related to terrorism.

DESANTIS: The government of Saudi Arabia needs to make things better for these victims. And I think they're going to owe a debt here given that this is one of their individuals.

STARR: But tonight, President Trump, who has stood by the royal family through moments of crisis in the past, is now relaying a message on behalf of Saudi Arabia's King Salman.

DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: The king said that the Saudi people are greatly angered by the barbaric actions of the shooter and that this person in no way, shape or form represents the feelings of the Saudi people who love the American people so much.


BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The shooting occurred in the classroom building on the base. Law enforcement officials confirming the suspect used a handgun, killing three people before he was killed by police. Eight others injured.

What was a Saudi air force officer doing on a U.S. Navy installation?

CAPT. TIMOHY F. KINSELLA JR., COMMANDING OFFICER, NAS PENSACOLA: There's always been international students training here because it's a good place to train and good quality training.

STARR: U.S. allies such as Saudi Arabia often have members of their military come to the U.S. for training, a practice that may come under scrutiny even as investigators talk to those who knew the shooter.


STARR: And just a short time ago, the Defense Secretary Mark Esper said that the Pentagon would take a look at the very strict standards it already has for conducting security reviews of these students before they come to the United States.

But, Wolf, keep in mind, they come here to get training so when they go back to their home countries, they are better at their jobs, better at their skills, of course, and better able to operate with U.S. forces overseas, should it come to that -- Wolf.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: And so many of them, when they go back home. They move up the chain of command and become leaders in their respective military, and are clearly inclined to work more closely with the U.S.

STARR: Well, that's right. It gives them more familiarity with U.S., familiarity with U.S. operations in training. It's a program the Pentagon has had for decades, Wolf.

BLITZER: Certainly, has.

All right. Barbara Starr, thank you very much.

Just ahead, Uber releases stunning statistics about sexual assault, driving home concerns about passenger security.


[18:51:29] BLITZER: Tonight, Uber is confirming the scope of its safety problems for the first time. The ride service reports nearly 6,000 alleged incidents of sexual assault in 2017 and 2018.

CNN senior investigative correspondent Drew Griffin is joining us right now.

Drew, it was excellent reporting that first put the spotlight on Uber drivers accused of sex crimes against passengers?

DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Wolf, and Uber is trying to put the best spin on this report, this long- anticipated report but the numbers are simply alarming.


GRIFFIN (voice-over): Buried on Page 59 of a polished, long- anticipated report are the stunning numbers: 5,981 sexual assaults reported over two years, 464 of them rapes.

Uber emphasizing with millions of rides daily, the odds of attack are miniscule. But Tony West, Uber's chief legal officer who for nearly two years now has refused to be interviewed by CNN admitted to NBC the number is alarming.

TONY WEST, CHIEF LEGAL OFFICER, UBER: That's a hard number. But I'm not surprised. I'm not surprised because sexual violence is just much more pervasive in society than I think most people realize.

GRIFFIN: CNN sounded the alarm in April of 2018, in an investigation that uncovered the serious problem of drivers assaulting passengers. This woman was attacked by her Uber driver in Miami who was sentenced to 14 years in prison for the crime.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The next morning I woke up and both my pants and my underwear were on the floor.

GRIFFIN: In a series of reports on Uber assaults, CNN exposed a practice with a rideshare company sought to quietly settle sexual assault complaints with out-of-court settlements in exchange for nondisclosure agreements from victims. Uber changed the policy after our report, no longer requiring victims to sign NDAs.

CNN found dozens of cases of sexual assault and abuse by scouring public records, police reports, civil and criminal court cases. But sources told us then there were many, many more. Uber's report confirms that.

CNN also found that thousands of Uber drivers had criminal records. One was even an accused war criminal. All as Uber lobbied local governments against tougher rules for background checks. Since CNN's investigation, Uber added safety features to its app, says they have improved and tightened background checks. And with this report is vowing to be more transparent on the safety of riding in an Uber.

Early estimates for 2019 show sexual assaults in Ubers continue. Uber claims the rate is dropping, but based on its own recent statistics, every day, someone is sexually assaulted taking an Uber ride.

WEST: Uber couldn't simply ignore what was happening on its platform. Most importantly we have to then address it.


GRIFFIN: Wolf, if this is not just about Uber. Lyft has its own problem. And Lyft has announced it too will be releasing a transparent study on sexual assaults and its efforts to make rideshares safer there, too -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Terrific reporting, Drew. Thank you so much for what you do.

We are going to have much more news right after this.



BLITZER: Finally tonight, I had the privilege today to honor CNN founder Ted Turner, a man whose bold vision truly changed the world from his environmental activism and his philanthropy, to his maverick business spirit which ushered in the era of 24-hour cable news. In recognition of his incredible legacy, CNN's parent company dedicated the original Atlanta campus to him in a ceremony that took place in front of the very building where CNN was launched.

Listen to Ted Turner's inspiring message when he opened this facility nearly 40 years ago.


TED TURNER, FOUNDER OF CNN: To act upon one's convictions while others wait, to create a positive force in a world where cynics abound, to provide information to people when it wasn't available before, to offer those who want it a choice.


BLITZER: His words are as important today as ever.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.