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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT
Full House Set To Vote On Trump's Impeachment; Republicans Still Deny Basic Facts Of Investigation; President Trump On Brink Of Impeachment As Rudy Giuliani Shows Up At The White House; Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-TX) Discusses His Vote On Formal Articles Of Impeachment On Wednesday; McConnell: I'm Coordinating With WH On Impeachment Trial; Sources: WH Further Limits Officials From Trump's Calls With Foreign Leaders In Wake Of Ukraine Scandal; Dems Concerned as McConnell Coordinates with White House Lawyers; Former Breitbart Editor: Stephen Miller is a White Supremacist. Aired 7-8p ET
Aired December 13, 2019 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: I'll keep this document very, very close as we face another historic week ahead. Erin Burnett OUTFRONT starts right now.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next, on the brink. Donald Trump facing his near certain impeachment. It is now a matter of days. This as Rudy Giuliani shows up at the White House again, why?
Plus, Democrats get in line. Several more Dems who are on the fence say they are voting yes on impeachment tonight.
And the White House doubling down on Trump's attacks on a 16-year-old girl. Wait until you hear the defense tonight. Let's go OUTFRONT.
And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett. OUTFRONT tonight, the brink of impeachment.
The full House of Representatives is now just days away from formally impeaching President Trump. That vote will make Trump only the third president in American history to be impeached. And it comes after this morning's historic vote by the Judiciary Committee in the House to approve both articles of impeachment against the President. Trump, of course, is defiant tonight.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There was nothing done wrong to use the power of impeachment on this nonsense. It's an embarrassment to this country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Now, the President did do something wrong. Whether it is impeachable or not is the conversation lawmakers should be having but many Republicans are far from that conversation. In fact, they are still denying basic facts.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Why is it ever OK
for an American president to ask a foreign power to investigate a political rival? Why do you think that's OK?
REP. DEBBIE LESKO (R-AZ): He didn't do that.
RAJU: He did ask - he did ask Zelensky even on the phone call.
LESKO: No. He did not do that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: I mean, it is like an alternative universe. I mean, Trump did ask Zelensky for a favor on that July phone call. He did talk about Joe Biden and then left those words in black and white in a transcript confuse anyone like Debbie Lesko.
He laid it out for them saying, yes, indeed, I meant what I said. He wanted Zelensky to investigate a political rival.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What exactly did you hope Zelensky would do about the Bidens after your phone call? Exactly.
TRUMP: Well, I would think that if they were honest about it that'd start a major investigation into the Bidens. It's a very simple answer. They should investigate the Bidens.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: OK. So there's that and tonight there's this, Trump is still pursuing that quest. Rudy Giuliani today visiting the White House. His visit coming after the Wall Street Journal reported the President called Giuliani as soon as Giuliani's plane landed in New York last weekend from Kiev where Giuliani was pushing for Ukrainian help against Biden.
As the plane was still taxiing down the runway, The President reportedly asked Giuliani, "What did you get?" Kaitlan Collins is OUTFRONT at the White House tonight.
Kaitlan Caitlin, how is the President reacting to this historic vote today?
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Erin, when we saw the President after they had taken that vote, he was defiant and also dismissive of these articles of impeachment though, saying that Democrats are trivializing it essentially saying that they're wasting impeachment on this. He says he doesn't think his actions warranted, of course, a case he's been making.
But he was saying that essentially Democrats are going to regret this saying it's going to come back to bite them when a Democrat is in office and potentially Republicans control the House. So essentially trying to warn them of about dismissing it but also saying that it benefits him politically, talking about his poll numbers being up, which of course, if you actually look at the poll numbers, you see that that's not the case.
But, Erin, what he's saying publicly is different than what we're hearing privately which is that he's still very resentful about all of this. Even though he's telling them of it, he still does not want to be impeached. He doesn't want to be in that notorious club with other presidents who have faced a similar fate.
And so that is where you see Rudy Giuliani come in. Even though White House officials have really tried to distanced themselves from Giuliani, often saying they do not know what it is he's up to. You saw him walking in the door of the West Wing here today after that trip to Ukraine, seemingly unfazed by the fact that federal prosecutors are probing his business dealings.
And a lot of it has to do with the President here who wants to be vindicated. He wants to be proven right in all of this, what lawmakers are arguing on Capitol Hill, what you were just talking about. And so that is really where they come to a crossroads where officials in the White House don't want anything to do with Rudy Giuliani and yet the President has him coming here just days after that trip to Ukraine.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Kaitlan, and I want to go OUTFRONT now to Democratic Congressman Lloyd Doggett. Congressman, you're going to have the chance to vote on those formal articles of impeachment on Wednesday as they go before the entire House. How will you vote, sir?
REP. LLOYD DOGGETT (D-TX): I will certainly support the articles. I believe they will be approved by an overwhelming majority. And on Wednesday, Donald Trump will be impeached.
BURNETT: So we do know that at least two of your Democratic colleagues plan to vote no on impeachment.
Chances are, obviously, that's not going to change the outcome of the vote and Nancy Pelosi has made that extremely clear. Do you though understand how they came to that conclusion or why they're going to vote against these articles based on the evidence you've seen or are you just completely sort of awestruck by their choice?
DOGGETT: Well, I'm not surprised because they voted against the process, the rules that were set to give Republicans and the President a full opportunity to present a defense that they failed to do. There's really been no disagreement by the fact witnesses.
This president confessed to what he did on national television. He is out to seek political assistance from Ukraine, China, Russia, anyone else who will provide it. And if we're to preserve our democracy, we need to act to impeach him.
And certainly if Mitch McConnell continues to take his cues from the White House and there's any victory for the President in the Senate, he won't be able to claim true vindication from a trial that he helped to rig.
BURNETT: So to that point the Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell does say he's in 'total coordination' with the White House Counsel. We do know he was seen meeting yesterday with the White House Counsel Pat Cipollone. Do you have any problem with that just on its face? Is that OK that they're meeting or --
DOGGETT: Yes. Well, of course, he's been in total coordination all year in refusing to let the Senate debate any legislation of significance approve from the House, whether it was election security, equal pay, our dreamers, protecting our democracy, generally gun safety, all of these things he's held in cue from the White House. And now for him to let the White House direct the terms of the trial completely destroys the function of the separation of powers that our founders envisioned.
All of this is really a question of whether America has degenerated to a point that we have a one strong man rule ignoring the other branches of the government, our democracy is preserved in the wisdom of our founders is preserved in having accountability for all branches of our government.
BURNETT: Have you decided who you'd like to see act as an impeachment manager at the Senate trial? Obviously, you know, someone from the House. It could be Adam Schiff. It could be someone else. Do you support Mr. Schiff or do you prefer another person?
Well, I certainly think Adam Schiff has done an amazing job in his coordination of this committee as Jerry Nadler. And that's why the two of them are the subject of so much attack from the President. The only people that he attacks more than Adam Schiff and Jerry Nadler and Nancy Pelosi are those Republicans who choose to deviate from him the slightest, calling them human scum amazingly enough.
And so one can understand though troubled by it, why some Republicans are so fearful of him and unwilling to do what they know the facts demonstrate that this president has corrupted his office, has abused his power and has totally ignored the Congress and its responsibility.
BURNETT: So Congressman, your committee has been trying to get the President's tax returns, which is --
BURNETT: -- that's a crucial thing, especially given that at this point, barring some major development, we know how this travel end in the Senate. So the tax returns could become hugely important. You're trying to get them from the IRS, the Treasury Department, other House committees have also been trying to get them through his banks and his accounting firm.
And the Supreme Court, we've learned, just moments ago was taking up their case as the President had requested, which means that their subpoenas for his tax returns won't be enforced because they're going to look at this case. So the impeachment proceedings will fully play out and those subpoenas will not be enforced during that time frame. Is this a big win for the President?
DOGGETT: No, it's not. And I have to say as a former Texas Supreme Court Justice myself, I can understand why our highest court would want to consider this very important question. Three district courts and three appellate courts have ruled against President Trump.
He actually maintained that as president, he could not only not be brought into court, but he couldn't be investigated. He couldn't be charged with a crime. He was basically immune to any type of prosecution.
The other courts have ruled on the President's own attempt to block his accounting firm from disclosing the same type of information that presidents have disclosed in the past. So it's understandable that the Supreme Court would want to rule on whether we do have only one man rule here or we have the ability of the Congress to hold the President accountable. That's a really important issue.
BURNETT: So, I mean, they're taking up the request as he requested, but you don't see that as a win for him is the bottom line?
DOGGETT: No. I certainly would have preferred that they simply let these three court decisions against the President stand. But I can understand why they would want to consider it and frankly I'm very hopeful that they will follow the law. They won't be like the Republicans in the House who couldn't follow the facts.
They will follow the law. They will do what courts in challenges like this before both in the Nixon case and in the Clinton case, they have ruled regardless of who appointed them to office, to follow our Constitution and have realized how really critical this is not just about President Trump but the future of democracy in our country, which has never been more imperiled than at the present time.
BURNETT: Congressman Doggett, I appreciate your time tonight. Thank you, sir.
DOGGETT: Thank you, Erin.
BURNETT: And next, Trump's calls with world leaders are now more pride at the White House tonight, tightly controlling the people who are supposed to be on those calls now cutting them off.
Plus, a top Republican predicts they'll win back the House in 2020, why? Impeachment.
And Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says he is working closely with the White House on the impeachment trial. Is this a problem?
[19:13:46] BURNETT: New tonight, top aides to President Trump placing new
restrictions on who can listen to his phone calls with foreign leaders. This is all since we learned about the July phone call where he pressured Ukraine's President to investigate the Bidens.
Now, this is according to multiple sources in the White House and they are also saying that the transcripts of those calls are now being shared with a far smaller group. One White House official summing it up this way, nobody is allowed on the calls. The barn door officially closed after the horse escaped.
OUTFRONT now former Advisor to Four Presidents, David Gergen, Juliette Kayyem, who was the Assistant Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security under President Obama and Joe Lockhart, who was President Clinton's Press Secretary during his impeachment investigation.
So Juliette, look, some people might say, all right, well, maybe they were too many calls. There's riffraff on these calls. Let's just explain how this works. The President of the United States calls a leader of another country, whether it's Boris Johnson or Emmanuel Macron or Mr. Zelensky, privacy is defined differently when you're the President. I mean, who's usually on these calls as a matter of American protocol?
JULIETTE KAYYEM, FORMER ASSISTANT SECRETARY FOR THE DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY: So it's going to depend on sort of what the nature of the call is. So if there's a covert operation that you want to alert a leader to because it's happening in their country, that would be different than some diplomatic talk.
But I just want to say every conversation should be in the national interest and so if it's in the national interest rather than the President's interest, then you would want more people on for the following reasons; one is the National Security staff and the National Security Council serves as the connective tissue to all the agencies that were going to have to effectuate whatever it is that was agreed upon.
And secondly, you want to have a memorialization of what happened. So that you want people on the call who are not involved in the call listening, assessing what the leader's reaction is, what was agreed to what wasn't agreed to so that there can be sort of after actions or an action plan for the agencies. That is assuming that the call is in the national interest. We can make a safe assumption that many of these calls are not.
BURNETT: Right. I mean, Joe, this is the other point here. I mean, these are calls with world leaders and explain that Trump's predecessors would have experts on the country's being called on the phone or the issues that were being discussed. They'd all be listening in. And now we understand the reporting is it's just a handful of aides who are allowed on and only people appointed by President Trump himself. So not a career expert on fill in the blank country who knows the most
of anyone in the country, not that person, but the person Trump appointed.
JOE LOCKHART, FORMER CLINTON WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Well, I think this is really alarming because what you're doing is taking away the expertise that is involved with these individual countries. The National Security Advisor doesn't know, for instance, everything about, say, French politics and what's going on there.
And the second part is in these calls, you can keep the President from making a big mistake, perhaps in the call with Erdogan, he might not have given away as much as he did. And you can actually move policy by being there. I've been in the Oval Office for a lot of these calls and many times the National Security Affairs where someone wrote a note and gave it to the President. The President would read it and adjust and it would be a better call.
BURNETT: So David, just to be clear here, there were people on the Zelensky call who are career staffers, people who worked in this industry, people that works in government for the right word, before the President like Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman, National Security Council Director on Ukraine. A guy who spoke the language literally, who knew more than almost anyone about it.
DAVID GERGEN, FORMER ADVISER TO FOUR PRESIDENTS: Right.
BURNETT: And that allowed Vindman to say this during the impeachment hearings.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LT. COL. ALEXANDER VINDMAN, NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL'S TOP UKRAINE EXPERT: I was concerned by the call. What I heard was inappropriate and I reported my concerns to Mr. Eisenberg. It is improper for the President of the United States to demand a foreign government investigate a U.S. citizen and a political opponent? Frankly, I couldn't believe what I was hearing. It was probably an element of shock.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: So David, then you have Vindman, he reports this to the lawyers. A White House official is now calling Trump's new policy. He was sort of joking, but he called it 'the Vindman rule'. So you're now going to have a person like this who knows the most not allowed to be on the call, because the President doesn't want him to know.
GERGEN: Yes. There are two things here, Erin, and Joe and Juliette had already talked about one of them and that is you strip yourself of the expertise that the President needs to have an informed call with a foreign later. It's important that the President would be able to pick up on what the nuances are in any conversation he's having, especially with a foreign leader. And if you really don't know the context, you don't know the nuances. So it has a lot to do - you're stripping yourself of the expertise you
know up front, but there's a second element. It's not just what goes into the President before the call, it's what happens as a result of the call. And that is these transcripts are sent out to a sufficient number of people who have to execute the policy and have to be diplomats talking to the other side.
And now if you take them off, they don't have access to the transcripts, the people who are executing the policy at the mid- levels, they're going to be blind. Whereas the country that the President has been talking to, they're going to share with everyone who needs to know and that leaves our diplomats, that leaves a lot of our professionals in the foreign service unable to do their job blind. It blinds them to the realities.
And frankly, every experience I've had is when you begin to restrict a number of people around the President to a very tight circle, mostly political people, and they tend to rely on the politics, not the sort of facts and their deep depth understanding of the history and the context of the subjects they're dealing with. That's how we get into the conflicts. That's how we get into wars, we stumble into them.
BURNETT: And people don't realize that, when you look at prior conflicts, that is how they started.
BURNETT: And Juliette, you have this, you got transcripts not going to as many people, people being cut off to calls who should be on the calls. If you're putting people on who have subject matter expertise and yet the President says this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I'm very transparent.
I love transparency in many ways.
There's never been a president who's been so transparent.
I've been the most transparent president in history.
There's never been ever before an administration that's been so open and transparent.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: I mean, Juliette, that's a farce. It's not true. You can take the, what, 71 documents they refuse to provide to Congress which they requested the impeachment hearing. So you could take the Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham, wouldn't fault Americans for not knowing who the heck she is because she's been in her jobs in nine months and hasn't held a single press conference. I mean, this is transparency? KAYYEM: Right. No, it's obviously not. And I sort of felt like
saying after that clip like say it again, say it again, maybe I'll believe you. But I do want to say I think just given everything that Joe, David and I have said, we have to believe that this is actually what they wanted.
Of course, they don't want transparency. Of course, they don't want to be able to effectuate policy. Of course, they don't want to share information and that gets to the core issue which is what are these calls about, if not to effectuate the national security policy of this country. They're about something different that Donald Trump has for three plus years now turned our national security and foreign policy into both the transactional and personal.
Transactional about him and about potentially his financial dealings and personal. Do you like me or do you not like me? Who cares, right? I mean you're running the United States government, liking or not liking doesn't matter. He wants this because the nature of this calls are not serving the national interest.
BURNETT: All right. All of you stay with me. Liking or not liking him on some very deep psychological level is what motivates this president.
BURNETT: Stay with me. Democrats are now getting in line. Another swing district Dem who was on the fence says tonight he is for impeachment. So what's getting them off the fence and on that side? Well, more follow. And Democrats tonight are enraged about this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): I'm going to coordinate with the President's lawyers, so there won't be any difference between us on how to do this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: New tonight, Democrats getting in line. Freshman Democrat Max Rose representing a district President Trump won by 10 points tonight announcing his support for impeachment. This comes as three other moderate Democrats from swing districts say they will vote to impeach President Trump.
Manu Raju is OUTFRONT on Capitol Hill. And Manu, these swing district Democrats have been targeted by Republicans. There's been talk of some of them maybe defecting, but now you're starting to see this. What does it tell you about how many Democrats will vote to impeach next week?
RAJU: Well, it's a real sign that a lot of these Democrats from those swing districts that the President carried in 2016, they probably will ultimately vote to impeach the President, probably even on both counts of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.
Remember, the 31 Democrats who come from those districts that President Trump carried in 2016, a number of them are signaling that they are still making their decision. They plan to go home and listen to their constituents. See how their reaction is over the weekend.
People like Elissa Slotkin of Michigan, people like Anthony Brindisi of New York, people like Joe Cunningham of South Carolina all have told me they are still weighing this decision. They may make a decision as they come over the weekend or at least certainly by Monday, Tuesday as we get into that critical Wednesday vote.
But the expectation on Capitol Hill is that a lot of them ultimately will vote to impeach the President. And a lot of reasons why is because they did vote initially to formalize the procedures of the impeachment inquiry and allow them got behind this because of their national security concerns about the way the President handled relations with Ukraine.
So ultimately, the expectation is that these Democrats will provide the critical votes to get the Democrats over the top and get that majority that is necessary to impeach this president. And, of course, they will have to deal with any backlash they have back home.
And I can tell you, Erin, from talking to these Democrats, they're saying they're hearing a lot from both sides. Their phones are ringing off the hooks, constituents are making it clear how they feel. So they're going to get backlash no matter what they choose, which is why a lot of people believe at the end of the day, they'll side with the rest of their party and vote to impeach the President, Erin.
BURNETT: All right. Manu, thank you very much.
RAJU: Thank you.
BURNETT: And everyone is back with me. So Joe, is this a sign that Democrats even vulnerable ones, are getting in line? I mean, obviously, we don't know the full count. There could be more defections. But this is significant that you've got people in districts Trump won saying, I am with the Democrats, not him.
LOCKHART: Yes. I think it tells you a lot about the politics here and I think Manu had it exactly right when he said that a lot of these Democrats who were the last ones to come out to open the impeachment inquiry made their decision based on national security and national security concerns.
So it's very difficult now, after hearing all of this testimony which just exacerbates the national security questions for them to say no, I no longer have those concerns. I think I give the White House credit for spinning a good story about how bad this is for Democrats. These Democrats know what's good for them. I think they know what's good for the country.
I think the politics and the risk is way overblown to them. And I think you'll see the vast majority there. There'll be a handful who will vote not to impeach for reasons they may believe the case wasn't made and some because they think in their district it's not what their constituents want.
But I don't think the political risk is very high for these Democrats after this case has been made.
BURNETT: So, David, look. And Nancy Pelosi has got the votes. That's not the question here. She doesn't even need to whip it. But how many defectors can she afford politically? Right now, we know of two and it's the same two who didn't vote for moving ahead with an impeachment inquiry so they're as expected, OK? Can she afford politically more?
GERGEN: Yes. I think they can afford to lose up to five, six, seven. I think if they got into double digits, it would be a problem for them politically.
But let me just say a lot of these folks, this story is not just about the politics. It's also about the character of some of these new members of Congress, especially a veteran like Max Rose which you just report side going to vote with the Democrats for impeachment. He's doing this not just for the politics. The politics for him are awful. He's in a very big Donald Trump district. It was a really hard race to get there.
But he as a veteran coming out of the Iraq and Afghan wars, you know, he wants to put -- he and a number of other vets that got elected to this new class. They're about putting principle first.
That's the reason they went there. They're not scared of this. They've faced much tougher situations back in Iraq and Afghanistan.
BURNETT: Juliette, we know the prospect of impeachment weighs heavily on the president, right? He has said that before when people say look at Bill Clinton. He had this great economy and Trump back then said, who cares about the economy? His legacy was destroyed, right, by being impeached and, obviously, here is Trump touting his economic credentials while he's being impeached.
He's trying to show confidence. Yesterday, he tweets the Republican Party is more united than at any time in its history by far. If you measure the number of votes that are going to be on the president's side, it would appear he is right, certainly versus say Nixon, but is that really true do you believe, at its core?
KAYYEM: I need to sort of -- this is a hard issue because we do know that they're sort of walking into a loss, and so I do think that one way to look at this is through as David was saying the lens of national security and the future of this country looking at this from the perspective of 20, 30, 40 years from now. And that's what a lot of these congressmen and women are doing and in this moment, I could be worried about the vote or cable news and be called out by Trump. But if I just look forward, there's two key constituencies that I'm worried about fundamentally. One is, of course, the functioning of our government to actually
protect itself which Donald Trump has made clear is not his priority. The other is the outside world looking in. I think that this House vote for the outside world also has meaning because it shows that at least the House is trying to serve as a deterrent against Donald Trump utilizing foreign interference in 2020. So, if you look at it from the deterrence perspective, this does have meaning and this will be part of Donald Trump's legacy regardless of the economy and regardless of what actually happens in 2020.
BURNETT: All right. And we'll see if there are any Republicans who say they're willing to lose their seats to catch that vote as they were during Nixon.
Thank you all very much.
And next, calls for Senator Mitch McConnell to recuse himself from the impeachment trial. He's not going to do it, but why are they calling?
And someone who knows one of the president's closest and most powerful advisers answers this question --
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Do you think Stephen Miller is a white nationalist?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A white supremacist, I would say.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Tonight, Democrats objecting to this statement from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): I'm going to coordinate with the president's lawyers. So, there won't be any difference between us on how to do this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Why is McConnell strategizing with the White House and taking on the role of a jurist and Trump's impeachment trial at the same time?
OUTFRONT now, CNN presidential historian, Tim Naftali, one of the authors of "Impeachment: An American History", which Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has been reading.
And Brenda Wineapple, her book, "The Impeachers: The Trial of Andrew Johnson and the Dream of the Just Nation" is being read, he has said, by Republican Senator John Cornyn. So, Tim, putting aside the obvious joke that perhaps he's not read
your whole book -- let's cut to it. So the president's counsel goes to Capitol Hill to meet with the person who is going to be running the trial which is what it will be in the Senate, right? Impeach in the House and you acquit or remove in the Senate. They're doing these meetings privately. They say there's no difference between them.
Is that a problem?
TIM NAFTALI, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: It's a huge problem. Yes, it's an honor when someone who has such an important role to play in an impeachment reads your book.
BURNETT: Yes, of course.
NAFTALI: But one of the -- but one of the takeaways, certainly from the chapter that Peter Baker wrote on Clinton, was how important it was for the Senate to have bipartisan support for the terms of the trial and then Majority Leader Trent Lott worked with then-minority leader Tom Daschle, the Democrat of the party, so that then 100 senators would support the structure of the trial. It was very --
BURNETT: It shouldn't be Pat Cipollone.
NAFTALI: The decision from the get-go.
Now, here's something to keep in mind. The United States was very partisan in 1998. We can discuss whether we're more partisan or not now, but there's no question, it was a partisan environment in '98. Nevertheless, Trent Lott, the Republican, understood that the country needed an agreement that Democrats could sign on to which included ultimately how many witnesses there would be and whether they would be live witnesses or not. And as a result, 100 senators, 100-0, 100 senators supported the outcome.
By saying what he did today, Leader McConnell is basically sending a signal, I don't want --
BURNETT: It's not possible.
NAFTALI: -- I don't want to talk to Schumer.
BURNETT: And, of course, and that's crucial and it's going to be very hard for Chuck Schumer to say we're on the same page.
BRENDA WINEAPPLE, AUTHOR, "THE IMPEACHERS": That's right.
BURNETT: You know, McConnell says President Clinton coordinated and it's the same argument he makes and Tom Daschle, who was, of course, the Democratic leader at the time, he tells CNN, look, his staff did communicate with the White House. So, there's truth in what McConnell is saying.
[19:40:01] BURNETT: Daschle, I'm sorry -- yes, Daschle did not speak to President Clinton himself, but in part, he was mad that Clinton had lied to his face about Monica Lewinsky and there was a personal reason for that as opposed to --
BURNETT: So is this really different this time?
WINEAPPLE: Well, not entirely because in 1868 when the country was very partisan as well because there had just been a Civil War, you have to remember that then the presiding judge was the chief justice of the Supreme Court, a man named Salmon Chase, and he was seen talking with Andrew Johnson, and in fact, Andrew Johnson and his daughters went to a party at his house and Salmon Chase basically said, well, I'm just showing respect for his, Johnson's, stand during the war which, you know, made a lot of people very, very uncomfortable.
BURNETT: I can imagine how that would go.
WINEAPPLE: But, you know, it's interesting when you just played the McConnell bit. It almost sounded to me as if McConnell is anxious about separating himself from the president, not so much from the Democrats. In other words, you won't see any daylight between me and the president, never mind the Democrats so he doesn't want to start a procedure that Trump is going to dislike.
BURNETT: Tim, I understand your concern. So, this is -- when I'm thinking about this intellectually, here's the question I have today, OK? You have McConnell doing his thing and you have the senators that it's pretty clear. We know where they stand, OK?
A lot of them have said I'm still thinking about it and people like Mitt Romney. He's expressed extreme anger and frustration with what the president did and wants to keep an open mind, he says. But here are some of the other people who are going to be on the jury in the Senate and here's what they've said about impeachment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It is time for impeachment now.
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think the House should pass the articles of impeachment.
SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA): I've been calling for the impeachment of this president for a long time.
SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I've made it very clear that this is impeachable conduct.
SEN. CORY BOOKER (D-NJ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This is wrong. The president of the United States of America should not use taxpayer dollars to hold hostage to benefit his own personal --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: I'm not trying to do a gotcha. I'm really trying to understand.
NAFTALI: No, no. Let's talk about practical politics.
NAFTALI: There were partisan Democrats in 1974. There were partisan Republicans in 1998. The issue here is not about the fact that there are partisans and people running for the Oval Office.
NAFTALI: It's weather in this country, we can have a serious discussion about the grounds for impeachment that might change the few open minds who are between the partisans. One of the beauties of the 1974 impeachment process, one reason why it didn't create more sadness in this country because this is a traumatic process was that the climate was created where a group of Southern Democrats because the Democrat his a problem with their caucus went through the data and then decided that, no, we're going to vote --
BURNETT: Do you have an issue? I mean, those were the five senators running.
WINEAPPLE: They're running for office.
BURNETT: That's not impartial.
WINEAPPLE: No, and they could say, for example, these seem to be impeachable offenses and we want to hear what is going to appear in the Senate and what the trial would be.
But the fact of the matter is again, it's a presidential election year when Clinton was impeached it wasn't and when Johnson was, it was, in fact, one of the jurors, the man in the Senate, stood in line for the presidency if Johnson was removed. So it's very hard to separate out personal, political and principle.
BURNETT: And as you both made clear, it is a very small group of people who will make all the difference and most people are in their corners.
Thank you both.
And next, a former Breitbart editor, the conservative website, is speaking out, calling Stephen Miller a white supremacist.
And anti-billing advocate Melania Trump remaining silent about her husband's attacks on a 16-year-old girl. If there's a moment to speak up, Melania, it's this one. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
BURNETT: White supremacist. This is what a former Breitbart News editor is calling Trump's senior policy adviser Stephen Miller. It's a stunning thing to say.
She knows him. I mean, how does she know he's a white supremacist? Well, you need to see the special report from our Sara Sidner to find out.
SARA SIDNER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Former Breitbart news editor Katie McHugh says she is doing her first television interview for one reason. She wants to expose a white supremacist in the White House.
(on camera): You think Stephen Miller is a white nationalist?
KATIE MCHUGH, FORMER BREITBART NEWS EDITOR: A white supremacist, I would say, because I believe his ideology is domination and control over people of color.
SIDNER (voice-over): Stephen Miller is a senior aide to President Donald Trump. He did not respond to our request for comment.
A White House spokesperson has said that Miller is not a racist and is being attacked because he's Jewish. McHugh says that's laughable. She says on his rise to the White House while working for Senator Jeff Sessions --
STEPHEN MILLER, SENIOR AIDE TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: Are you ready to send Donald J. Trump to the White House?
SIDNER: And later on Trump's campaign, Miller was in constant contact with her, pushing stories that fit an anti-immigration narrative, stories she wrote for Breitbart without question.
(on camera): Were you a white nationalist?
MCHUGH: I think I would call myself that. White nationalist, white supremacist, that's fine.
SIDNER: That's what you were.
MCHUGH: Yes, but that part is dead.
SIDNER: Do you think this is political to let his star rise because he could manipulate you or do you think he actually is a white supremacist?
MCHUGH: I believe he wanted access to power because he was a white supremacist and wanted to impose his policies. Those e-mail, you can read his own words. [19:50:04]
SIDNER (voice-over): McHugh says these are some of his own words in e-mail to her. She saved 900 or so exchanges between Miller and Breitbart staffers from 2015 to 2016. In 2015, not long after a white supremacist slaughtered nine black Americans praying inside their Charleston Church, McHugh says Miller called and e-mailed not with sympathy for the victim, but instead a focus on changing the narrative to outrage over the removal of Confederate statues and retailers removing Confederate merchandise.
Have you thought about going to Amazon and finding the commie flag and doing a story on that?
Yes. Definitely, she replies. This is the story McHugh wrote.
(on camera): Did he ever once mention that he was sorry that nine African-Americans were slaughtered while praying at church?
MCHUGH: Never. No, it never occurred to him, it seemed.
SIDNER (voice-over): But McHugh says immigration was his favorite subject. In 2015, he also sent McHugh, a headline. Subject line: for your Islam story. In it, a link to the conspiracy website, Infowars. The headline: Reverend Graham: We are under attack. Stop all immigration of Muslims to the U.S.
A few months later.
DONALD TRUMP, THEN-PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Donald J. Trump is calling for at total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.
SIDNER: In another e-mail exchange, Miller suggests coverage of immigration and the pope. You see the pope saying we must, in effect, get rid of borders. Someone should point out the parallels to "Camp of the Saints".
MCHUGH: Vile, vile, disgusting racist novel.
SIDNER: "The Camp of the Saints" is a book beloved by white supremacists.
A Breitbart editor published the content Miller suggested.
MILLER: This election is a referendum.
SIDNER: And just before Miller heads to work for the Trump campaign in 2016, he tells what he saw as the danger of allowing hurricane victims coming to the U.S. they will all get TPS. That's temporary protection status. That needs to be the weekend's big story. TPS is everything, he says, and sends McHugh an article on the dangers of TPS from a prominent white nationalist website.
(on camera): Did he want you to parrot a white nationalist website?
MCHUGH: Yes, he did. It was understood that miller had editorial control over the political section of Breitbart news.
SIDNER (voice-over): Well, after Mueller joins Trump's inner circle, the U.S. ended TPS status for several countries. McHugh is ashamed of her role in all of this. She was fired by Breitbart for an Islamophobic tweet among other things the website said, including for being a liar.
(on camera): In 2015, you said: Another crusade would do a lot of good. Let's turn Mecca into a strip mall. Another tweet: The only way to strike a balance between vigilance, discrimination and terror is to end the Muslim migration.
MCHUGH: That's a quote from miller. That's a paraphrases of conversation that we had.
SIDNER: This was the tweet that ended you getting fired over. There would be no deadly terror attacks in the U.K. if Muslims did not live there.
Did you believe all these hateful, racist, Islamophobic things that you were putting out there on your Twitter feed?
MCHUGH: I did.
SIDNER: Why should people believe you're sincere?
MCHUGH: Because I believe in publicly confessing your sins and I also believe that, you know, working very hard to expose these networks that I was a part of and show how dangerous they are, how evil they are and how many people they hurt.
SIDNER: She says Stephen Miller should do the same and resign. But so far, there's no indication that Stephen Miller is going to resign and even though the White House didn't talk about this particular story and make a comment. They have supported him -- Erin.
BURNETT: All right. An incredible story. Sara Sidner, thank you.
And next, Michelle Obama taking sides, siding with teen activist who has been attacked by President Trump this week.
BURNETT: A 16-year-old has a new ally in her fight against President Trump. It isn't the first lady who says she fights against bullying. It happens to be Michelle Obama.
JEANNE MOOS, CNN NATIOANL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Global warming aside, it must be heartwarming for a 16-year-old climate activist to be defended, by a former first lady when attacked by the current president.
Michelle Obama tweeted: Don't let anyone dim your light. Ignore the doubters, after President Trump said this about Greta Thunberg, "Time Magazine's Person of the Year.
JOY BEHAR, CO-HOST, "THE VIEW": This is his tweet: So ridiculous. Greta must work on her anger management problem.
Oh, hello, look in the mirror.
MOOS: The president continued: then go to a good old fashioned movie with a friend. Chill Greta, chill.
Reaction wasn't chilled. What kind of president bullies a teenager, pondered Joe Biden.
One cartoonist pictured them as Greta and Regreta.
Thunberg herself responded by changing her Twitter bio to a teenager working on her anger management problem, currently chilling and watching a good old fashioned movie with a friend.
One fan compared Greta Thunberg in a war of wits with Donald J. Trump to shooting fish in a barrel.
But Republican Representative Mike Johnson defended Trump's tweet, mocking the teen with Asperger syndrome.
REP. MIKE JOHNSON (R-LA): The president communicates in a unique way.
MOOS: After Greta communicated her thoughts on climate change at the U.N. in September.
GRETA THUNBERG, TEEN ACTIVIST: You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words.
MOOS: President Trump tweeted, she seemed like a very happy young girl looking toward to a bright and wonderful future. She then made that her bio.
(on camera): Things came to things came to a head when President Trump's campaign war room literally used his head, leaving critics shaping their head.
(voice-over): Over this, the president's head photo shopped on Greta's body.
President Trump used to like to ask the question.
TRUMP: Would you rather see Person of the Year, Man of the Year?
MOOS: Just call Greta man-eater of the year.
Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York. (END VIDEOTAPE)
BURNETT: And thanks so much for joining us.
Anderson starts now.