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House Judiciary Committee's Opening Statements On Articles Of Impeachment Begin Tomorrow At 7PM ET; Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) Discusses Her Statement On The Articles Of Impeachment Going To Be; Romney: "Keeping An Open Mind" About Voting To Convict Trump; Sources: Growing Trump-McConnell Divide Over Impeachment Trial; Russian Foreign Minister Unclear On Whether Trump Warned Of Election Meddling; White House Says He Did. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired December 10, 2019 - 19:00   ET



WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM. You can follow me on Twitter and Instagram @WOLFBLITZER. You can tweet the show @CNNSITROOM. Erin Burnett OUTFRONT starts right now.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next breaking news, opening statements on the articles of impeachment begin in just 24 hours setting up a major vote. This as the President pushes for a long Senate trial that Mitch McConnell doesn't want.

Plus, Mitt Romney says he is open to convicting President Trump. Is he serious?

And breaking news, President Trump invites a top Russian official to the White House today. Trump claims they talked about election meddling, the Russians say absolutely they did not. Let's go OUTFRONT.

And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett. OUTFRONT tonight the breaking news, we are learning that the Judiciary Committee will take up the articles of impeachment tomorrow night live at 7 o'clock Eastern. That's exactly 24 hours from now.

The Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Jerry Nadler, just announcing that Committee members will make opening statements on the two articles of impeachment; abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. And they will speak live in this hour tomorrow.

Each of them will get five minutes to make their case to the nation. This development coming after a historic day. Democratic leaders standing before the American public to announce that President Trump will become the fourth president to face impeachment for high crimes and misdemeanors.

According to the resolution, "President Trump abused the powers of the presidency by ignoring and injuring national security and other vital national interests to obtain an improper personal political benefit. He has also betrayed the Nation by abusing his high office to enlist a foreign power in corrupting democratic elections." That's what the Democrats have put out there and President Trump

responded just moments ago.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They put up two articles that frankly a very weak, they're very weak.


BURNETT: The full House of Representatives could vote on those articles. However, you may describe them in a matter of days. Manu Raju is OUTFRONT live on Capitol Hill.

And Manu, obviously, a huge development. We're going to have these opening statements. This is going to be live for the nation and the world to hear, what more are you learning about what's next in the process?

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. It's actually going to move pretty quickly in the House after the opening statements on Wednesday. Then they're going to be on Thursday the Committee will actually begin the voting on those articles of impeachment.

That's going to be a messy affair, a day-long affair where the Republicans will be offering amendment after amendment to try to undercut the articles of impeachment. The Democrats plan to beat back all of those amendments. There'll be a contentious debate, but it may not go all day.

Apparently, there's a congressional ball that the White House is hosting. It's 7:00 pm Eastern that night that a lot of members want to attend. So perhaps it could be done by then. But by that point in the evening on Thursday night, the Judiciary Committee is expected to approve those articles of impeachment and send it to the full House.

The full House next week will vote to make President Trump, the third American president to be impeached by that body on those two articles. One an obstruction of Congress and the other about abuse of power ideally looking at the President's handling of relations to Ukraine and the Democratic allegations that he leveraged the power of his office to push for that country to open up investigations into his political rival.

Now, Erin, behind the scenes, there has been considerable debate about adding a third article of impeachment, that on obstruction of justice to detail the allegations in the Mueller report that show the President is seeking to undercut that investigation. A number of Democrats believed he should have been charged with an obstruction of justice, but behind the scenes, Nancy Pelosi did not favor going that way in part because some moderate members, freshman members wanted it to be focused strictly on Ukraine.

Democrats believe that was a clear case to make to the American public, some of the issues involving Mueller are still tied up in court. So the Democrats decided and said they'll punt on that issue even though a number of Democrats wanted to send a message to the President, they would not accept that kind of behavior as outlined in the Mueller report.

But nonetheless, this is focused strictly on the issue of Ukraine warning the President not to go this route and after the House votes next week to impeach the President, that's when the Senate trial will begin and that will take up much of January. But, of course, at the moment Republicans is expecting to acquit the President. We'll see if any Republicans decide to defect, Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Manu.

And I want to go straight now to Democratic Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee. She sits on the House Judiciary Committee. She's one of five members who also served on this Committee during the Clinton impeachment. And I appreciate your time tonight.


BURNETT: And obviously you're ready tomorrow night, you'll be giving an opening statement, I presume, along with everyone else on the committee. Do you know yet what you'll say?

LEE: Well, first of all, good evening to all of your viewers and thank you for having me. In addition to having served during the moment of the 1998 impeachment, I knew Leon Jaworski and as well the maiden holder of the seat was the Honorable Barbara Jordan who's involved in the Nixon proceedings.

I think I've gleaned from this whole time of trying to uphold the Constitution and hold a president accountable is that now we're at the point of conscience.


We're at the point of morality. We're at the point of asking the question of what the American people expect from a person who holds the highest office and the responsibilities of Congress, the duty of Congress to hold this president accountable.

This is not something I campaigned on. This is not something that I wish to be part of the Congress' agenda. But if we are to offer to the American people and the world, it looks at this great democracy for not only inspiration but leadership.

Then, we must hold a president who is willing to sell the national security or to exchange or to ask someone, a foreign entity, to in essence find information or investigate a political opponent and so that is to jeopardize the national security of the American people for his own private or political gain. Then that is a constitutional violation of the law and he must be held accountable.

BURNETT: So according to Manu Raju, there's a group of House Democrats from districts that President Trump won in 2016 and they met yesterday. They wanted to talk about how to avoid a full-on impeachment trial. And a suggestion they had was an official censure of the President that they could vote for that, you could get all of the Democrats to vote for it, you could maybe perhaps get some Democrats.

I know you supported censuring Bill Clinton but not impeaching him, obviously, when you were there for his impeachment trial as a Democrat. Could you get behind that idea this time?

LEE: Well, I think without fully going into the issue of censure during 1998, my whole position was that the acts were not acts of government or interfering with the governance of the nation. They were private matters although criticized and this is far distinctive.

This is high crimes and misdemeanors. These are constitutional crimes. I think it's important for the American people to know that the Constitution is a law. It is the law. And therefore, you can have constitutional crimes, a president has perpetrated a constitutional crime that equate to high crimes and misdemeanors by violating the trust of the American people by abusing his power by offering to have a foreign entity both in the 2016 election when he asked for any Russians listening and wanted them to go get emails, by asking China were they listening and to also go and interfere with the election.

And I consider this a continuing threat to the 2020 election for that reason. There is no room for censure at this time. I certainly welcome members of Congress who have their own opinions to offer different suggestions and I'm sure they will be considered. But right now, we're moving toward the process that we're engaged in which is the articles of impeachment have been offered and we're moving on that process.

I hope, again, that this will be a moral choice for Republicans and Democrats and Independents. It'll be about our nation.

BURNETT: In the obstruction of Congress article, so you've got the two articles; abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. You explained the President did this in part, obstruct, by directing other executive branch agencies to defy lawful subpoenas and withhold the production of documents and records from the committees in response to which the Department of State, Office of OMB, Department of Energy, and Department of Defense refused to produce a single document or record.

I know Democrats say team Trump withheld 12 witnesses you asked for, telling every single employee or former employee not to testify and they withheld 71 documents you asked for. Today, the Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo says all of this is counterfactual. Here he is.


MIKE POMPEO, UNITED STATES SECRETARY OF STATE: State Department has fully complied with all legal requirements. We will continue to do so. We had a number of officers testify. We've asked every officer who moves forward, who testifies under oath to do so fully, completely, accurately, truthfully and that remains the expectation that I have for both the officers of the State Department as well as for the things that we do to produce documents in response to appropriate congressional oversight.


BURNETT: Is he lying?

LEE: Let me just say that we can say that that is inaccurate. The Secretary of State knows full well that the witnesses who came before the impeachment inquiry committees came voluntarily. Some of them had their own lawyers. He knows that for a fact.

He knows that Ambassador Taylor flew from Ukraine on his own desire. He knows that the former Ambassador to Ukraine came on her own, that Dr. Hill came on their own and many, many others.

He knows for a fact that the President of the United States unlike any other impeachment including Nixon and Clinton, of course, blocked every White House official and officials that would listen to him. He asked every single one of them not to appear.

And there were many documents that were not presented, particularly in Ambassador Sondland's testimony.


He clearly said he was not able to access emails.


LEE: So the Secretary is creating a distraction. I think this is going to be a time of one's faith, a time of one's love for their country, a time of patriotism, a time of respect for the dignity of the Constitution and democracy. There will be disagreement, I know that.

But the facts are undisputed. Our friends on the other side of the aisle have not disputed one single fact. They have not defended the President. All they've talked about is process.

BURNETT: All right. Well, I appreciate your time. Thank you very much, congresswoman, as always.

LEE: Thank you for having me.

BURNETT: And next, Mitt Romney says he is open to convicting President Trump, to removing him from office. Really?

Plus, the President claiming tonight he spoke to the Russian Foreign Minister about election meddling, but did he? And Trump goes to war with his own FBI Director, former Deputy Director Andrew McCabe who had his own clash with the President is OUTFRONT.


[19:15:09] BURNETT: Tonight, Republican Senator Mitt Romney open to impeaching

President Trump. Romney telling our Manu Raju quote, "I'm keeping an open mind until that process is completed." Of course, he's referring to the entire House situation and the trial in the Senate.

President Trump is already preparing for a Senate trial. He is now clashing with the Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell who will, of course, be the one in charge.

Sources say Trump wants a 'dramatic event', a chance to defend himself after sitting back for weeks watching the House impeachment hearings and opting out of participating in those. McConnell though is pushing back, making it clear, no, he wants to get it over with quickly. Voting a 10-day minimum and not starting it immediately after the House is finished, but waiting until after the new year.

OUTFRONT now Ross Garber, CNN Legal Analyst, Gloria Borger, our Chief Political Analyst and Michael Isikoff, Chief Investigative Correspondent for Yahoo News and Author of the book Russian Roulette.

Ross, sources say, as I said here, Trump wants to make this a dramatic event. He wants to make it a pomp and circumstance a circus, a scene. He thinks the best outcome for himself is to drag a trial out and turn it into a spectacle. Is he right?

ROSS GARBER, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: You could see this coming, right?


GARBER: It reminds me of being a young lawyer when they tell you when you're winning just sit down and take the win. I'm not sure Trump is going to be willing to do that. I think one could see him saying, well, wait a minute, I might actually have the chance to subpoena people. I might have the chance to subpoena Hunter Biden. Well, heck, that sounds like a great ...

BURNETT: He'll be salivating at that.

GARBER: ... it sounds like a great idea. I'll have the chance to put on witnesses, put on evidence. Yes, maybe, but you still need a majority of the Republicans to go along, because even though the Chief Justice presides over a Senate trial, this is run by the Republicans and Mitch McConnell has the majority, but it's a thin majority. And so you need enough Republicans to sort of sign up to kind of go along with this plan.

BURNETT: Right. And to make it clear, Gloria, we know that McConnell, for example, had made it clear to the President he didn't have enough Republican votes to dismiss this as a trial, there's people who take it seriously and don't want it to be turned into a spectacle and a joke. But McConnell, Gloria, is not giving in to trump.

He's saying Trump wants it right away and dragged out, McConnell is going we're going to make it quick and by the way we're going to wait until after all the bowl games are over in the new year season was the answer he gave. These are pretty specific things to say. He's ruling out taped depositions from witnesses which Trump doesn't want. I mean, he's clearly defying the President on important things here.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: He is and he controls the Senate and I think the President may listen to Mitch McConnell, he has on occasion in the past. And if McConnell were to say to the President, look, Mr. President, do you want to keep control of the Senate after 2020, then listen to me and let me handle this the way I want to handle this.

And McConnell, of course, being an institutionalist is going to go and look back at the Clinton impeachment. The most recent impeachment and he's going to see that Democrats and Republicans did not turn it into a circus. They turned it into a very somber, sedate affair and I think given a choice McConnell would like to do that and in doing so he probably feels he has a better chance of getting more votes to acquit the President.

BURNETT: So Michael, will McConnell eventually give in to Trump's demands for spectacle or no? Will the President listen to him in the end?

MICHAEL ISIKOFF, CHIEF INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT, YAHOO! NEWS: I mean, I don't think that McConnell wants a spectacle. Look, there's one big question that overhangs this trial and that is what happens if the House Democratic managers presumably led by Adam Schiff call John Bolton as a witness and do the Senate Republicans vote on that, does Chief Justice Roberts rule on Bolton's relevance and how does Bolton respond.

I mean, if it's the Chief Justice of the United States who authorizes and says it's OK, he wants Bolton to testify or it's a valid subpoena, Bolton could try to go to court but he ends up before the Chief Justice at the end anyway. So I think that's the biggest question and I think that's the one only game changer I can see on the horizon here, dramatic testimony from John Bolton about his direct communications with the President.

BURNETT: Ross, what odds would you put on that?

GARBER: Very, very, very low. I mean, as Michael knows in the Clinton proceeding, the Senate sort of set the rules and there are procedural ways that Mitch McConnell can sort of control this issue going to the chief judge. And under the Senate rules in any case, it would be up to the Chief Justice to decide whether to make the decision himself or leave it to the Senate. I think it's very, very unlikely that the Chief Justice is going to insert himself where the Senate doesn't want him.


BURNETT: So Gloria, Mitt Romney in this whole contact says he has an open mind about voting to convict Trump. He's expressed his displeasure with all of this and said it's completely inappropriate what the President did. However, he says he has an open mind now. You know him. You sat down with him many times. BORGER: Yes. Yes.

BURNETT: Do you think there's any chance he votes to impeach or to remove, I'm sorry?

BORGER: I really can't predict. He has said this in the past. He said it at the end of October that he has an open mind. It's a convenient way for a lot of Senators to not commit themselves by saying, look, I have to be on the jury, so I'm not going to give you a verdict before I go and sit on the jury. And I think that is what Mitt Romney is doing.

Having said that, let me also say that the Mitt Romney that I've covered is somebody who really cares about presidential character and character in general. And I think that will weigh heavily in his decision-making and it will on a lot of other senators' minds as well.

If I were in the White House, I'd be a little worried about Mitt Romney but I wouldn't count him out.

BURNETT: So Michael, Romney says it's 'way too early' for him to say whether the case has been effectively made to impeach Trump. Now, let's be clear, Gloria is making a point that a lot of senators have. Maybe they completely have made up their minds, but they want to give this perception of being impartial jurors. Is it possible that Romney believes that it is way too early that he doesn't have enough information or is this just him basically hunting?

ISIKOFF: I think Romney is trying to see which way the winds are going to be blowing in a couple of weeks when this gets to the Senate for a trial. Look, there's going to be a vote next week by the full House. We know what the outcome is going to be.

The question is what are the polls going to look like in early January, next month, when this goes to trial. And you got to say, look, right now you have a divided country. The needle hasn't moved. You still have barely 50 percent and most of the polls now show a little less than 50 percent, who believe that for all of the conduct we've seen that it justifies the removal of the President and that is a big problem for the Democrats as they go forward with this.

BURNETT: All right. All of you stay with me.

Next, the breaking news, President Trump claims he talked about election meddling with Russian's Foreign Minister at the White House, yes, on the day that the articles of impeachment are launched about meddling or the President meddling with a foreign power. He meets with the one who did meddle. Why does the Russian Foreign Minister appear to be telling a different story?

And Attorney General Bill Barr says the FBI may have acted in bad faith in launching the Russia probe. The former Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, who was there, part of that launch is OUTFRONT to respond.


BURNETT: Breaking news, the President claims he talked to a top Russian official today about Russian election meddling. But did he? In a tweet tonight, Trump says, "Just had a very good meeting with Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and representatives of Russia. Discussed many items including trade, Iran, North Korea, INF Treaty, Nuclear Arms Control, and Election Meddling. Looking forward to continuing our dialogue in the near future."

And the White House readout of the meeting says, "President Trump warned against any Russian attempts to interfere in United States elections." All good, right? Well, the problem is it's not really what Lavrov is saying. Here's what he said about his discussion with Trump.


SERGEY LAVROV, RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER(through interpreter): Well you know, we haven't even actually discussed elections.


BURNETT: Huh? Kaitlan Collins is OUTFRONT from the White House. Kaitlan, what's the story here?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Erin, this is notable because let's also keep in mind this is Lavrov's first meeting back in Washington, his first official one since that meeting in the Oval Office the day after the President fired James Comey and now here's this meeting today, of course, the day of the articles of impeachment. And now there's confusion over what exactly was said and who said it.

The White House put out a statement saying that, yes, the President did warn against any attempt by Russian interference in the election. But then Lavrov there, when he was asked by this reporter, he said they didn't discuss elections.

So later on during this press conference at the Russian embassy here in Washington, a reporter said, well, the White House said in their readout that you did discuss election interference, the two of you, so can you clarify that, that's when Lavrov said that he did bring up Mike Pompeo's complaints from a meeting they had earlier in the day where they clashed over election interference. He did bring those up to President Trump.

So essentially saying, yes, that it was brought up in the meeting. But, of course, Erin, what this leaves a lot of questions about is just how much the President went into this warning against election interference, because of course we know that in the past, the President has been hesitant to do. So he's downplayed Russian interference in the election and even during calls with Vladimir Putin, the White House says would not answer whether or not he brought it up. It makes it even more timely that this all comes as the President has

been pushing this baseless theory that it was Ukraine that interviewed in the election over Russia, something that we saw that was even relevant today as Bill Barr, the Attorney General, was essentially not contradicting or defending the President when he gave an interview and he was asked the same question. So what we're left with, Erin, is just still a lot of questions about what exactly was said.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Kaitlan. I want to go back to our panel now. I mean, Gloria, so Trump says he talked about Russia by election meddling with Lavrov. He puts it. This is very formal, his tweet, actually, he capitalizes the E and the M.

It's a thing, election meddling, which is a thing for him to even admit, I suppose. And then the White House readout says that he mentioned it, but then Lavrov first says it didn't come up and then says he's the one who brought it up. What's going on here?


BORGER: Well, we don't have any journalists who were present.


And I'm presuming that the secretary of state or the national security adviser both were in that meeting, so maybe they would give us a readout or maybe say we're not going to talk about what was discussed in this -- in this meeting in the Oval Office.

It seems clear to me that Pompeo did raise it.


BORGER: And what Lavrov is being a little cagey here is that maybe he complained about Pompeo to Donald Trump about raising election meddling and that's how it came up. So I'm not sure we're at the bottom of this one.

BURNETT: Right. And if that's the case, that's obviously completely different picture than the one that the president is putting on here.

I mean, Michael, Democrats, you know, say the president is a clear and present danger to the 2020 election, right? To this election, and yet here he is. The last meeting he had was the day after he fired Jim Comey when he talked to Lavrov about it in the Oval Office, and now, here he is today.

MICHAEL ISIKOFF, CHIEF INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT, YAHOO NEWS: Yes. I think all you need to know is just look at that big smile on the president's face with Lavrov standing by his side which pretty much tells you that if he did bring up election meddling, you can wonder how stern a warning it was to Lavrov.

BURNETT: There's the picture and we're showing it now which the president is proud of this picture. ISIKOFF: Yes, yes. So, not exactly the photograph you want to have

out there if you were giving a stern don't you dare do it again warning to Lavrov.

I mean, Ross, here's the thing. The last time Trump met with Lavrov, the last time, just to be clear, on this day, was the day after he fired Jim Comey in the Oval Office. According to "The New York Times," Trump said to Lavrov, the foreign minister of Russia, I just fired the head of the FBI. He was crazy, a real nut job and I faced great pressure because of Russia. That's taken off.

That's the last one-on-one conversation he had with Lavrov.

ROSS GARBER, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, if it wasn't intended as a message today, it seems to, you know, be a clear message that the president is going to conduct foreign policy as he wants to conduct foreign policy, impeachment be damned. He's going to do what he wants and he has the power to do it and this visual really sends that message.

BURNETT: I mean, Gloria, you know, the optics here are stunning. You've got this picture. He's doing this meeting on the day the Democrats announced two articles of impeachment regarding the president's request to Ukraine, right? To investigate his political rival, to help him in the 2020 election and he has this meeting today.

I mean, it is -- it is brazen, and it's hard to imagine that it's a coincidence.

BORGER: Well, it's not, and, of course, the meeting with Lavrov came before the meeting with President Zelensky. And so, is that a signal to Ukraine?

I mean, in the official readout from the White House, the readout says President Trump warns against Russian attempts to interfere in the United States election and urge Russia to resolve the conflict with Ukraine. So that was notable to me that that was in the readout, but most notable to me was that it was Lavrov standing there and not the president of Ukraine.

BURNETT: Right. Well, that was -- the optics there are very interesting.

So, Michael, what do you make, though, of what happens, you know, next here? Are we going to get to the bottom of this? Are we going to know exactly what happened?

I mean, as you pointed out and Gloria points out, it's clear Mike Pompeo brought up the issue and aggressively so, it's clear that did not sit well with Lavrov.

ISIKOFF: Yes. Well, look, first of all, I think we do have a pretty good idea of what happened in 2016, and it's laid out with incredible detail in the Mueller report of exactly how the Russians hacked Democratic Party e-mails and funneled them to WikiLeaks for political effect and also probe state election systems. The big question is, what are they and other foreign actors, the

Iranians, the Chinese, the North Koreans, what might they do in 2020? And I think everyone sort of fully expects something. You know, the question is, will it be the same sort of cyber attacks or manipulation of social media, or will it be something more clever that we're not fully expecting? And I think that's what -- it's the latter that keeps people up at night trying to figure that out.

BURNETT: And, certainly, the latter will be what they would be aiming to do, right? The horses are out of the barn on the other.

Thank you all very much.

And, next, President Trump attacking his own FBI director tonight. So, what does this mean for Chris Wray?

And Attorney General Bill Barr ramping up his attacks on -- he's the attorney general, right, and he's now attacking America's top law enforcement agency.


WILLIAM BARR, ATTORNEY GENERAL: These irregularities, these misstatements, these omissions were not satisfactorily explained.


BURNETT: The former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe is OUTFRONT.


BURNETT: President Trump slamming his handpicked FBI Director Christopher Wray for accepting the facts that were laid out in the inspector general report on the Russia investigation which, of course, concluded that it was launched in an unbiased manner and it was valid.

The president tweeting, quote: I don't know what report current Director of the FBI Christopher Wray was reading, but it sure wasn't the one given to me. With that kind of attitude, he will never be able to fix the FBI.

This again is the guy that Trump picked to be head of the FBI. So, what did Wray say to get the president to slam him? He reiterated the facts.


CHRISTOPHER WRAY, FBI DIRECTOR: It's important that the inspector general found that in this particular instance, the investigation was opened with appropriate predication and authorization.


BURENTT: OUTFRONT now, the former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe.

And, you know, as you and I were talking about last night, you were mentioned in this report 200 times. You were there in the beginning.



BURNETT: So, Christopher Wray is coming out and stating the facts of the report, right?


BURNETT: And he's saying, and there were mistakes made and I own those and I put in, you know --

MCCABE: That's right.

BURNETT: -- 40 things to try to pick those, but the bottom line conclusion is the most crucial conclusion, right?

MCCABE: That's right.

BURNETT: And now Trump is slamming him. So, is Trump -- Wray's job on the line here basically? Is Trump starting down that path?

MCCABE: You know, I think Wray's job has been on the line since the day he took the job as is the case with every high level member of the president's team. The fact is when you stand up for fact and those facts diverge from the president's preferred narrative that puts you in a very tough spot. I think it's also worth mentioning that Christopher Wray is a very smart guy, and he knows that he has the eyes of the FBI workforce on him at all times.

And FBI people are very sensitive and protective of the independence of the work that they do. And so, any time they sense that decisions are being made that are influenced by politics or things like that that affect their work, you run the risk of losing the faith and confidence of that workforce, which is absolutely essential for a director of the FBI. So, I think what Chris did yesterday was to stand up for that workforce, stand up for the principles that we believe in, that people are held accountable and that the rules --

BURNETT: And essentially say he's willing to be fired for doing it and he's fighting back on every single level.

MCCABE: That's right.

BURNETT: So, you know, the president has been saying that Ukraine meddled in the election, which not only did his former -- Tom Bossert say it was completely false and a conspiracy theory and anybody else who knows anything about it has said it is a completely false theory. Chris Wray says that what the president said is completely false. Here he is.


WRAY: We have no information that indicates that Ukraine interfered with the 2016 presidential election. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: I mean, his tone there is resigned, but factual. I can't believe I have to sit here and say this, but I'm going to say it.

MCCABE: Right.

BURNETT: And he knows his audience is the FBI.

MCCABE: Of course.

BURNETT: He also knows that audience of one is watching.

MCCABE: That's right, that's right.

So, you have to choose if you're Director Wray, you have to choose. Are you going to stand up for the truth and say what you know to be true, and therefore stand on the side of your workforce or are you going to support the president's narrative in the same way that members of Congress are and the attorney general seems to be doing as well.

And Chris Wray made the choice they think is deeply appreciated by the men and women of the FBI.

BURNETT: So, you know, earlier today, we were showing the picture. The president met with the foreign minister of Russia, Sergey Lavrov, and Trump said he brought up election meddling and Lavrov says that he didn't, but then Lavrov brought it up and it's unclear exactly what happened. Lavrov's exact comment was, well, you know, we haven't really even discussed collections.

What do you think happened? Do you think that the president of the United States after years of denying Russian meddling and saying that it could be, you know, some fat person in a basement were his words, do you think he's now suddenly bringing it up in a serious, meaningful way?

MCCABE: Really, really hard to imagine, right? The bigger point here is that administration has such a terrible record of transparency and readouts from important phone calls and meetings in the White House and, of course, a terrible record of dealing with the truth that when you have a meeting and an incredibly important statement like this that they claim to have made people can't help, but step back and say I'm really not sure if I believe it happened the way they say it did.

BURNETT: So, you were there in the beginning of the Russian investigation. I.G. report concluded it was valid. It was an unbiased launch.

The president, obviously, we've had years go by here that he called it a witch hunt and a hoax and he meets with Lavrov today. The last time he met with Lavrov was the day after he fired Jim Comey. After everything you know about this president and about the Russian investigation, do you believe there is something truly off about Trump and Russia? MCCABE: There's no question there's something deeply odd about the

way this president interacts with Russia. We have never seen anything like this before. You go back to the Helsinki meeting and all of the claims that you just made denying the -- or at least downplaying the effect of Russian meddling in the last election. I mean, that is behavior we've never seen from a president.

Russia is our most significant enemy on the world stage. You've got to be absolutely on your game with each one of your interactions. I don't think we've ever seen a photograph out of the Oval Office along the lines like the one we've seen today with Lavrov essentially almost standing behind the president, behind the resolute desk. It's remarkable.

Maybe outdone only by the last photograph that Lavrov took in the Oval Office which was taken by his own photographer because we didn't have one there.

BURNETT: Right, that's right. And then here they are and that was the meeting last time.

All right. Stay with me please.

OUTFRONT next, Bill Barr is doubling down on a claim which has been proven false by the Justice Department's inspector general.


BARR: It was clearly spied upon. I mean, that's what electronic surveillance is.


BURNETT: Plus, Nancy Pelosi has two major announcements today and is trying to walk a very fine line tonight. Can she?



BURNETT: New tonight. Attorney General Bill Barr accusing top intelligence officials of bad faith and again saying this --


BARR: It was clearly spied upon. I mean, that's what electronic surveillance is.


BURNETT: The problem is Trump's current FBI director says well, that's not true, and that what happened in fact, the surveillance as he calls it was legal, not spying.


REPORTER: So the FBI did not spy on the Trump campaign?

WRAY: Well, that's not a term at the FBI we use to describe our work, and the inspector general found that the FBI did not use any human sources or undercover employees to go inside the campaign or to task them to report on the campaign, and I think that's important.


BURNETT: Wray, of course, is referring to the inspector general report which concluded the investigation was valid.

The former deputy director of the FBI is back with me.

So, Deputy Director McCabe, why is Barr saying this? He knows what these words mean.


MCCABE: He does. He's smart enough to know. He's also smart enough to know that court-authorized electronic surveillance is not spying. Nobody who does that activity, nobody -- none of the people who actually put their heart and soul into that work will ever consider that to be spying, and I think he's smart enough to realize.

BURNETT: That's legal, that's authorized, that's above board, that's not sneaking in and surreptitiously stealing something which is what he's trying to imply. I mean, you know, he's also continuing to criticize the FBI for using the Steele dossier in the application to monitor Carter Page. Here he is on that.


BARR: These irregularities, these misstatements, these omissions were not satisfactorily explained, and I think that leaves open the possibility to infer bad faith.


BURNETT: OK. You told me last night, you don't regret, you know, putting the dossier as part of that FISA application.

But the attorney general of the United States is saying others but also you, acted in bad faith.

MCCABE: Yes, that's absolutely false. I mean, there's -- it didn't happen. I know that. I didn't need the I.G. to tell me that.

But it's good that the I.G. has reported now that there's absolutely no indications of that whatsoever. And I think what the attorney general has done here with the last reference you just showed is he is actually proactively misrepresenting the whole -- the findings of the report. The comment of -- there wasn't a satisfactory explanation given was what the I.G. said with respect to the fact that he found no evidence that the investigative level personnel responsible for the error did so intentionally.

He said he didn't get great explanations for why they didn't include that fact or this fact.

BURNETT: But they didn't do it out of bias.

MCCABE: Didn't do it out of bias, that's right. And they didn't do it intentionally, never intentionally misled the court.

So, for the attorney general to get on television and suggest that the mere absence of a perfect explanation is an indicator of malice or ill will or intentional misconduct is really, really unfair to those people.

BURNETT: Who do you think he considers his ultimate loyalty right now, the president or the country?

MCCABE: There's no question about that. Yes, sure, he is the president's lawyer. I mean, in a way that I don't think I've ever seen certainly in my life or my career. And I've worked with several attorneys general.

I've never seen an attorney general put himself that far out there to defend the president at all costs in contradiction to clear fact and reality. It's remarkable.

BURNETT: Thank you very much, Deputy Director. I appreciate your time tonight.

MCCABE: Sure. Yes, a pleasure being here.

BURNETT: And OUTFRONT next, Nancy Pelosi gives Washington whiplash going after the president and hours later having -- handing him, sorry, a major victory.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): We would be delinquent in our oath of office if we did not impeach him.

This trade agreement is much better than NAFTA.




BURNETT: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi today announcing a major trade deal that President Trump wanted hours after she announced articles of impeachment against him.

Well, she is certainly walking and chewing gum.

Tom Foreman is OUTFRONT.


REP. JERRY NADLER (D-NY): That is not a point of order. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is a point of order.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I made a point of order.

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In a rough week amid tumbling times, Nancy Pelosi is walking a tight rope on government.

PELOSI: We're not going to have a shutdown.

FOREMAN: On a new trade deal.

PELOSI: This trade agreement is much better than NAFTA.

FOREMAN: And on the impeachment probe of Donald Trump.

PELOSI: If we did not hold him accountable, he would continue to undermine our election.


FOREMAN: It's been a long time coming for the speaker of the House. Just nine months ago, Pelosi dodged the idea of impeaching Trump even in the face of intense pressure from progressives. Arguing it was too divisive for the country, she told "The Washington Post" he is just not worth it.

TRUMP: You look at the call. It was perfect I didn't do it there was no quid pro quo.

FOREMAN: By early fall, as the Ukraine scandal boiled up, polls showed even independents warmed to idea that Trump should be removed from office. Yet Pelosi would only say that the White House could be entering a grave new chapter of lawlessness.

Then came the formal vote on impeachment inquiry. Team Trump's effective pledge to stone wall congressional oversight and Pelosi told a CNN town hall she's had enough.

PELOSI: If we were not to proceed, it would say to any president, any future president, whoever she or he may be, Democratic or Republican, that our democracy is gone. The president is king, he can do whatever he wants, in violation of the law, and ignoring the acts of Congress, undermining our system of checks and balances.

REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): I just hope no Congress ever repeats what we are going through today.

FOREMAN: To blunt Republican talking points about her party being obsessed with impeachment and to give her fellow Democrats cover, Pelosi seems to be everywhere, talking about legislation, policies, the work of Washington, even how she deals with Trump.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How would you describe your relationship with the president.

PELOSI: Professional.

FOREMAN: And she is hitting hard at anyone who suggests she simply hates him.

PELOSI: I still pray for the president. I pray for the president all the time. So, don't mess with me when it comes to words like that.


PELOSI: She is striking a very fine balance on a very high wire to be sure, trying not to alienate the political left or center by working too willingly with this White House on the legislation, and at the same time doing battle with the president who rarely misses a chance to give her a shove from the right -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Tom.

And thanks very much to all of you for joining us as always.

As I said, 24 hours from now, you will be watching the live statements from the members of the House Judiciary Committee in the historic time as they formally have the statements to begin discussing and debate on those two articles of impeachment set for a House vote on impeachment next week.

"AC360" starts now.