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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT
Trump Goes Off In Six-Page Rant Just Hours Before House Votes On His Impeachment; Trump Letter To Pelosi: "You Have Cheapened The Importance Of The Very Ugly Word, Impeachment!"; Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) Discusses The Six-Page Letter Rant That President Just Released; Trump Slams Impeachment In Scathing Letter To Pelosi As House Panel Meets To Set Rules For Tomorrow's Vote; Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) Is Interviewed About Trump Impeachment And His Letter To Speaker Pelosi; Giuliani Says Trump Still Supports His Dirt-Digging In Ukraine. Aired 7-8p ET
Aired December 17, 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: 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, Trump's tantrum. A jaw dropping six-page rant from the President of the United States just hours before his near certain impeachment. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer is OUTFRONT to respond.
And still digging. Rudy Giuliani says Trump supports his dirt-digging on a political rival in Ukraine. So who is Giuliani meeting with to get this information?
Plus unseating Lindsey Graham, the Senator's challenger who is raising big money is my guest tonight. Does he have a chance? Let's go OUTFRONT.
And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett. OUTFRONT tonight, the breaking news, a six-page rant from the President of the United States. Here it is. President Trump sending this letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi just hours ahead of is all but certain impeachment and Trump knows it is all but certain. Tonight, he remains defiant.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, do you take any responsibility for the fact that you're about to be impeached?
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No. I don't take any. It's zero to put it mildly.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Well, the President with that stony faced glare speaking right before sending this letter to Pelosi and this is a scathing, irate and at times unhinged missive. He calls impeachment ugly. He rants that the people of the Salem witch trial, mostly teenage girls, who were accused of being witches in the 1600s had more due process than he does.
Trump accusing Pelosi of being spiteful, of having unfettered contempt of egregious conduct. Those are all words in the letter. He continues, "Even worse than offending the Founding Fathers, you are offending Americans of faith by continually saying 'I pray for the President', when you know this statement is not true, unless it is meant in a negative sense."
But the problem with this letter is not actually just that the President is ranting in what is, let's just call it for what it is, a troubling in an unpresidential manner. It is also that he includes in this letter things that he presents as facts which are factually untrue.
For example, he writes, "You know full well that Vice President Biden used his office and $1 billion of U.S. aid money to coerce Ukraine into firing the prosecutor who was digging into the company paying his sons millions of dollars. You know this because Biden bragged about it on video."
OK. Biden did brag about firing the prosecutor on video, but that's because he did nothing wrong. He was carrying out the policy of the Obama administration in coordination with the European Union and the International Monetary Fund using American leverage to remove a prosecutor universally regarded as corrupt by the United States and Western Europe.
Here's how President Obama's Secretary of State at the time remembers it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN KERRY, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: The Obama administration as a whole administration was working overtime to try to end corruption in Ukraine. It was professionals in the State Department, an ambassador who requested that we'd be involved to try to get a prosecutor out of the way who was not able to move. That was an administration policy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: It was. Biden was implementing U.S. administration policy in the bright light of day. And as for Trump saying that prosecutor was investigating the company paying Hunter Biden, that is false. That investigation was dormant. It was dormant. There was no digging going on.
And then there's this part of the President's letter. He writes, "Worse still, I have been deprived of basic Constitutional due process from the beginning of this impeachment scam right up until the present. I have been denied the most fundamental rights afforded by the Constitution, including the right to present evidence, to have my own counsel present, to confront accusers, and to call cross-examine witnesses."
Again, this is false. The President was given the chance to present his side. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): The president could come back before the Committee and talk, speak all the truth that he wants if he wants to ...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You don't expect him to do that.
PELOSI: ... if he wants to take the oath of office or he could do it in writing. He has every opportunity to present his case.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: And the Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler sent two letters, inviting President Trump's counsel to defend him to the Judiciary Committee, to the hearings. Trump refused. He refused to send his counsel. He refused to present his evidence and refused to cross- examine witnesses.
What he did do was blocked 12 witnesses including his Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney and his former National Security Adviser John Bolton from testifying. Two people who could exonerate the president if he had nothing to hide.
And the actual trial, of course, hasn't started. When it does in the Senate, the President will again have the opportunity to do all of this, have his lawyer present, cross-examine witnesses. Assuming, of course, he allows Mitch McConnell to have any witnesses there.
There are more false claims in here and I want to say this, it's a tough decision for us on what to mention or not mention when the President says things which have been repeatedly proven to be untrue. Because repeating things that are untrue can serve to give them air and life even when the point of saying them is to prove that they are false.
But the President is right, this letter will be part of what he says is 'the permanent and indelible record'. So it is worth coming back to those Salem witch trials. Here's exactly what Trump write, "More due process was afforded to those accused in the Salem Witch Trials."
For anyone unfamiliar with the Salem witch trials, 20 people were executed, accused of practicing witchcraft. 20 people put to death, 19 of them hanged and one of them crushed to death. And he says they had it worse than him.
Kaitlan Collins is OUTFRONT at the White House tonight. Kaitlan, what more are you learning about this letter?
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Erin, a lot of people in the White House didn't know this letter was coming. And we're being told by sources that was at the instruction of President Trump. He wanted it to be kept pretty closely in a very small group of advisors and aides before it was released today. We're told they started drafting it sometime last week. They were
debating which day they should publish it. It went with today and we're being told that the reason the President wanted this letter is because he wanted to be able to send this direct message to Speaker Pelosi ahead of that vote tomorrow.
Now, if you read through all of these six pages, a lot of what you just went over really most of it is essentially a summary of what the President's objections and frustrations have been ever since this impeachment inquiry was first announced in September. And you're seeing it all come together on White House letterhead nonetheless the day before this vote is set to take place.
Now, what's notable is the President says he doesn't think this is going to change the outcome of tomorrow's vote. That vote is still going to happen. The White House essentially views it as this foregone conclusion, but Erin it's notable and worth repeating what he says there at the end that despite all of that, the reason he sent this letter is because he 'wanted to put his thoughts on a permanent and indelible record'.
Pretty notable given what the President has been saying over the last several days. And now the question is, if we'll hear from him again tomorrow as that vote is going on.
BURNETT: Kaitlan, thank you very much. And I want to go OUTFRONT now to Senate Minority Leader Democrat Chuck Schumer. And Senator, I appreciate your time tonight.
This is an incredible letter from the President of the United States. Six pages saying that he has it worse than people accused in the Salem witch trials. What's your response to this letter that the President has released?
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): Well, my response is very simple. He's saying he's not getting due process. We are yearning for him to take advantage of due process. We in the Senate have invited him to allow four witnesses who are extremely close, had eyewitness accounts of what Trump did that created the impeachment document. Mick Mulvaney and John Bolton and two other officials who are heavily involved.
And if he wants due process, that means the right to be heard. Donald Trump is refusing the right to be heard. And I would ask him and frankly Mitch McConnell and my Republican colleagues what is so horrible about asking people to come testify who have eyewitness accounts of what's happening here.
The President is really just covering up. He has no rebuttal. He has issued no exculpatory evidence of the charges against him and we're giving him the opportunity to bring people to the trial. A trial without witnesses is not a trial at all. And so we believe very strongly that these witnesses should come, that document should be forthcoming, that's what the due process clause is all about. The right to be heard.
The President refuses the right to be heard and it seems quite likely it's because he knows he's guilty.
BURNETT: So obviously, as you point out, Mulvaney and Bolton, I know you've also asked for two others, but certainly if he could be exonerated, they would have the ability to do so. So it doesn't make sense as to why not to allow them.
I want to read for you, Senator, a couple more lines from the letter. Trump writes of Pelosi, so again this is directed at her, this particular line. "You did not recant. You did not ask to be forgiven. You showed no remorse, no capacity for self-reflection. Instead, your pursued next libelous and vicious crusade. You engineered an attempt to frame and defame an innocent person."
This letter, Senator, has all caps in it at one point. It has many exclamation points. As I pointed out, it refers to the Salem witch trials. You have known President Trump long before he was president. Where do you think his head is right now?
SCHUMER: Well, he's obviously under a great deal of duress. But if he thinks he can bully Nancy Pelosi into backing off, he's with the wrong customer.
The amazing thing about President Trump as president and before, the very things he does, he accuses others of doing, bully. This is the most bullying president we have ever had. Accusing people of things. This president accuses people of things all of the time every day.
So he ought to look into the mirror. These are serious charges. Impeachment is a very, very serious process. And we in the Senate want to keep it that way. We want a trial that's not focusing on conspiracy theories or rants and raves from those who are known liars who put out conspiracy theories on the right.
We want the truth. We want as Joe Friday in Dragnet used to say, just the facts. And that these witnesses that we are asking for that Leader McConnell is resisting are people who can produce the facts and I don't know what they're going to say.
They may produce exculpatory evidence for the President. They may produce evidence that's very condemning of the President, but they should be heard, as should documents be brought. And I would ask my Republican colleagues, Mitch McConnell seems - he said it publicly, he's going to do just what the President wants.
SCHUMER: Maybe he'll rethink that after looking at this letter which is filled with rants and raves. But I would ask my Republican colleagues, the other 52, to look at our letter and to realize impeachment is a solemn, serious and very, very important proceeding. If we can't get the facts, then no president can be impeached.
And this president and then other presidents will have almost no check on overreaching actions that defy the Constitution. BURNETT: So obviously you asked Mitch McConnell for your witnesses
and today he rejected that. What is the state of your relationship? Are you all still talking? Are you going to be able to work this out or No?
SCHUMER: Well, look, when we have to work things for the good of the country, I try to let my personal disappointment in Mitch McConnell not get in the way of doing that. We just produced a very, a big budget document which has a lot of things that we've been asking for, for a very long time.
But I have Mitch McConnell by going on Sean Hannity, by announcing that he doesn't want to have witnesses, he doesn't want to have documents is not rising to the level that a senator should rise to. He's being a pure partisan, he said it today in response to a question that he said proudly, "No, I'm not impartial. I don't want to be impartial."
My hope and my expectation is that there'll be enough Republican senators who will not follow that path. A path leading to trouble, a path leading to real problems for this country and the rule of law. All we need is four Republicans to vote with us to produce these witnesses to produce the document and I expect that some will. I expect that some will.
BURNETT: So let me ask you about those, because obviously you're going to need all the Democrats. You'll have them, we presume, and four Republicans. We've identified seven of them that are the ones that you could be targeting; Susan Collins of Maine, Cory Gardner of Colorado, Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, Mike Enzi, Wyoming, Lisa Murkowski, Alaska, Mitt Romney and Pat Roberts of Kansas. Are those the people you're thinking about?
SCHUMER: Look, I am not going to get into specifics. I think that every single Republican, every single one should look into their conscience and should say, "How are we going to be remembered here?" And if they try to put together just a sham show trial where there are no witnesses, there is no new facts and each side just recites what they know already, and there's just a quick vote, history will not look on them kindly and their consciences will not look on them kindly.
So I'm hopeful we can get a whole bunch. I wouldn't say who, but it might come from people you'd never expect who might rise to the occasion. The impeachment process is awesome in the biblical sense, awe-inspiring.
SCHUMER: AND I hope, I pray and I think that people will rise to the occasion. But I'll tell you this, when those Republican senators, all of them, when they go home, people are going to ask them, "What's wrong with having witnesses?"
A poll from ABC-Washington Post today said not only just 72% of all Americans think these witnesses should be called, but 64% of Republicans do. And it's rare to get Republican rank and file to disagree with what President Trump is doing and they are here in an overwhelming number.
BURNETT: Before we go, Senator, you mentioned what McConnell said that he said he's not an impartial juror. I just wanted to play it so viewers could hear it. Here he is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): I'm not an impartial juror. This is a political process. I would anticipate, we will have largely partisan outcome in the Senate. I'm not impartial about this at all.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHUMER: ... that George Washington, James Madison, the creators of this Constitution would be rolling their eyes. If you read Hamilton in The Federalist Papers, I think, it's on paper 59. He wanted the Senate to have the trial, because they would be impartial and they would render fair judgment.
McConnell is defining what the Constitution is urging and calling upon us to do as senators.
BURNETT: Are you impartial? When you refer earlier you mentioned the President as seeming guilty because he would not allow those witnesses.
SCHUMER: Yes. Our quest here is for the facts and these are not witnesses we know that are preordained. We don't know what they will say. And so yes, we are trying to get to the bottom of this to get all the facts out, show us the truth. Show us the facts and then we can each make a decision and hopefully an impartial decision.
McConnell won't do that, but I hope our senators will not. I would ask every one of my Republican senators, are you proud to be partial and to be partisan in this august (ph) proceeding, I hope not.
BURNETT: Senator Schumer, thank you very much for your time tonight, sir. I appreciate it.
SCHUMER: Nice to you, Erin. And happy holiday to you and your family.
BURNETT: All right. And you too. And next, more on the breaking news. Trump's likely impeachment closer by the moment. Members of Congress though still hammering out the ground rules for tomorrow's historic vote still at this moment.
Plus, Pelosi fighting back tonight after President Trump and his attack on her.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) PELOSI: I mean, I haven't really fully read it. We've been working.
I've seen the essence of it though and it's really sick.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: And Rudy Giuliani says he and President Trump are on the same page when it comes to Ukraine right now. So what exactly does that mean? Well, we're in Moscow tonight to get truth.
BURNETT: Breaking news, these are live pictures. This is New York. People gathering right now, hundreds. They're all marching. These are impeachment marches in support of impeachment. This is happening in various cities and it comes as the House rules committee is still meeting right now, still meeting to determine how tomorrow's full House vote on impeachment will go, what the rules will be around this.
It's incredible to realize that it is still so unsettled. Manu Raju is OUTFRONT from Capitol Hill. And Manu, here we are hours away from this history making day and still so many questions. What exactly do you know about tomorrow's historic vote?
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we expect it to pass along party lines. We do expect both of the articles of impeachment on both on abuse of power and obstruction of Congress to get most of Democrats to fall in line despite the President's letter attacking the process, attacking the House Speaker, going after them in very, very sharp words.
That's not convincing anyone on Capitol Hill to change their minds. In fact, the Democrats who are in districts that the President carried in 2016 are overwhelmingly coming out in support of these articles impeachment. At the moment, we're getting a sense that just likely two Democrats are going to vote against both articles of impeachment.
That one is a Democrat who's probably going to turn into Republican Jeff Van Drew of New Jersey, also Collin Peterson of Minnesota who has indicated in the past that he'll likely oppose the articles of impeachment. Today when I asked him he refused to say if he will in fact vote against both those articles.
And then one freshman Democrat from Maine, Jared Golden, said he plans to vote for the article impeachment and abuse of power, but he said he will vote against the article for obstruction of Congress. But overall, Erin, expect this to come down along party lines. This historic vote republicans expect to be in total unity, aligning with the President saying he did nothing wrong and voting against those two articles, Erin.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Manu Raju.
OUTFRONT now, our Senior Political Reporter Nia-Malika Henderson and former Director of the Nixon Presidential Library, Tim Naftali. Tim, you heard Manu reference the letter that the President sent to
Speaker Pelosi today. He writes in part, "This impeachment represents an unprecedented and unconstitutional abuse of power by Democrat Lawmakers. You have cheapened to the importance of the very ugly word, impeachment."
Senator Schumer was just saying, he's known the president for decades, that he's clearly under incredible duress. What does it say to you about his mindset? I mean, he's been working on this, we understand with aides for a week, but then he fires this off today.
TIM NAFTALI, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Well, the letter is somewhere between a rant and a polemic. It's not a serious piece of defense in his part and in fact it might actually backfire. If the President wants people in the center, in the middle, the independent, let's say, to feel some feeling of compassion for him, some sense of sympathy, this letter is so over the top, so mean-spirited, so patently untrue that it could only appeal to his base.
And at this time in history, if he really wants something that's indelible, he should be making a play for those who are a bit confused by the impeachment process and wondering if something that drastic is necessary. This is not the way to do it.
BURNETT: Nia, look, the President also urged Pelosi to end the effort to impeach him, which obviously is not going to happen. But he says he know she won't but, quote, "I write this letter to you for the purpose of history and to put my thoughts on a permanent and indelible record. One hundred years from now, when people look back at this affair, I want them to understand it and learn from it."
So he thinks that this will stand the test of time and I point out, Nia, as we did at the top of our program, we showed how several things in it were false. There are several more which are patently false. One would hope that anything in which this was reprinted would point that out and yet he does believe that this will speak well for him.
NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: Yes. And listen, I mean, why the President thinks he needs to put essentially his
tweets in written form on White House letterhead for the sake of history is beyond me. I mean everything he has been saying and doing will be recorded for history unlikely.
I mean, Tim is the historian there, but I think he is now, if this impeachment happens tomorrow as we expect, he's going to be in a very unique club of presidents who have been impeached. This is something that the President likes to say, has been good for him, has rallied his base, certainly his campaign arm likes to say this.
But I think from this letter, you can tell this is something that is really bothering him and eating away what he knows will be a kind of blight on his legacy. I mean, he has talked about the fact that Clinton was impeached and what that meant for his legacy. And I think this is a real difficult process for this president. He puts this old down in this letter here.
It's clear that he also cannot stand Nancy Pelosi. He questions her faith in this letter and says, oh, you say you're praying for me. I doubt you're praying for me. And if you are, it's in a negative way. I don't know what a negative prayer could be. And the question is the idea that she's going ...
BURNETT: Yes. I mean, that sounds like he's saying that she's praying for something awful to happen to him.
HENDERSON: Right. Right, that she's saying ...
NAFTALI: He's also about to fire Christopher Wray. You can tell what he says about the leadership of the FBI, it looks like Wray's days are numbered.
BURNETT: I mean, what do you make though, Tim, the point that Nia just made that when he was asked in a deposition about, he was then a candidate, about President Clinton whether he's a good president, his response was, "The scandals were devastating. He was impeached." That was his takeaway.
And then when he was at one point talking about Bill Clinton's economy which was very strong under Clinton during his impeachment, Trump was asked, well, isn't that a good thing and here's what Trump said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: A lot of people said, oh, we had pretty good economic times with Clinton. Well, we didn't have good times, if you'll remember. There were a lot of bad times. First of all, he was impeached. There was a big impeachment message ...
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: He's got a whole paragraph in here, a really long one that starts off with how amazing the economy is, extraordinary. The stock market, everything, which his aides put in all of his accomplishments. Now, he's pointing to the economy to save him and yet it's clear that impeachment mattered the most to him when he looked at Clinton.
NAFTALI: Of course, impeachment mattered the most to him. And if you think about the way this president has acted, he thinks he's flouted all the rules. He's gotten around all the rules. He's changed all the norms. He's finally met a rule he can't get around.
He can't get around being impeached. He can't stop it. That must really annoy him.
Every other rule that was there for his predecessors, he's managed to get around. But this one, he can't, and I don't (ph) -- because he thinks of everything in win/loss. I can't imagine he doesn't see this as anything but a loss.
BURNETT: Well, it's hard to see it as a win, obviously, he's anticipating his exoneration in the Senate, but yet there you are in history as impeached. Thank you both.
HENDERSON: Thanks, Erin.
BURNETT: And OUTFRONT next, Pelosi slaps back at Trump's angry letter. She is now responding.
And Rudy Giuliani says when it comes to Ukraine, there's no daylight between himself and President Trump. So what is he admitting? So we went to Moscow tonight to get the facts, a special report this hour.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: Breaking news, really sick. That's a quote from the House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. She has just responded to the president's letter to her which, of course, came -- comes just hour before the House is all but certain to impeach him.
Here is what Pelosi just told our Manu Raju.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: Reaction to the president's letter?
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: No reaction. It's ridiculous.
RAJU: You have no reaction? Why not?
PELOSI: I haven't fully read it. We've been working. I've seen the essence of it, though, and it's really sick.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: OUTFRONT now, Democratic Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney. This is her first national interview -- television interview as the new chairwoman of the powerful House Oversight Committee.
And, Chairman, I appreciate your time.
What is your reaction to this letter? You heard what the speaker says. I'm sure you've seen this letter from the president, what do you say to him?
REP. CAROLYN MALONEY (D-NY): Oh, he's trying to divert attention away from his own crimes, and she has conducted this inquiry with great respect and intelligence and attention to detail. There is no question the evidence is overwhelming that the president abused the power of his office to -- for his own personal and political gain at the expense of our national security. That is clearly an impeachable offense, and he tried to pressure a foreign government to interfere in our elections in return for releasing hundreds of millions of dollars in military aid. BURNETT: So, Chairwoman, I want to read part of the president's
letter in which he tells Speaker Pelosi, and I quote from him: Perhaps most insulting of all is your false display of solemnity. You apparently have so little respect for the American people that you expect them to believe that you are approaching this impeachment somberly, reservedly and reluctantly. No intelligent person believes what you are saying. Since the moment, I won the election the Democrat Party has been possessed by impeachment fever.
What do you say that you are putting all of you are putting forth a false display of solemnity?
MALONEY: His letter does not even deserve comment. We have a responsibility. We all took an oath of office to uphold the Constitution, and to preserve our democracy and we are moving forward to do just that.
We are -- we will be voting out two articles of impeachment and abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. His obstruction of Congress is absolutely unprecedented. He has not cooperated in any way, shape or form to any subpoena. He has not -- he's told all of the people who work in the executive branch not to cooperate, not to answer subpoenas. He has not produced or cooperated with one single document.
He is covering up what he is -- even Nixon was more responsive than President Trump. Nixon's staff testified and documents were produced, but President Trump has obstructed congress' duty to practice oversight. The Constitution clearly says there will be checks and balances, a balance of power and the power of Congress, the people's house to initiate impeachment and to impeach is in the House of Representatives.
BURNETT: So you are now hour away from formally casting your vote, Chairwoman. How does this feel?
MALONEY: Well, we will be moving forward. It's the next step. It will then go to the Senate for their deliberations, but the work of our committees are continuing. Other investigations that we've started whether it's prescription drugs or obstruction of Congress are going to continue.
BURNETT: All right. Well, I appreciate your time. Chairwoman, thank you very much tonight.
MALONEY: Thank you.
BURNETT: And OUTFRONT next, Rudy Giuliani says Trump supports his dirt digging on the Bidens. That's happening right now. So who is Giuliani getting his information from? It's going to matter a whole lot when he tries to throw them in the water. We went to Moscow to find out.
And Senator Lindsey Graham then and now. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
THEN-REP. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): Don't decide the case before the case is in.
I have made up my mind.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: His Democratic challenger who is now raising big money is OUTFRONT tonight.
BURNETT: Tonight, we're on the same page. That's Rudy Giuliani telling CNN that President Trump still supports his current efforts to dig up dirt on Democratic rivals in Ukraine.
So, where is Giuliani getting his dirt? When he comes out and says he has something the source will matter a whole lot.
Fred Pleitgen is OUTFRONT from Moscow.
FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): Seemingly unfazed by President Trump's possible imminent impeachment, Rudy Giuliani is continuing his push to dig up dirt on the Bidens.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He has a lot of good information. I hear he's found plenty.
PLEITGEN: But in Ukraine, Giuliani is relying on some dubious and controversial figures. Giuliani is meeting with two lawmakers, Aleksandr Dubinsky and Andriy Derkach who have been spreading unsubstantiated corruption allegations about former Vice President Joe Biden. Of course, it was President Trump who pushed Ukrainian leader Zelensky to investigate Biden and his son Hunter who was on the board of Ukrainian gas company Burisma on a phone call that's now at the heart of the impeachment proceedings.
TRUMP: I believe there was tremendous corruption with Biden.
PLEITGEN: That's where two more of Rudy Giuliani's proclaimed witnesses come in. Former Ukrainian prosecutors general, Viktor Shokin and Yuri Lutsenko.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Take us back to the first time you were appointed.
PLEITGEN: In an interview with the right-wing pro-Trump channel AON, Shokin claims he was fired at Biden's behest for investigating Burisma, even though there was international consensus that Shokin was ineffective at fighting corruption.
His successor, Yuri Lutsenko, who was also forced to leave office for being ineffective says he often butted heads with former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, who was recalled after a smear campaign against her spearheaded by Giuliani and in a stunning twist, Giuliani is now acknowledging he wanted Yovanovitch out.
Yovanovitch needed to be removed for many reasons, most critical, she was denying visas to Ukrainians who wanted to come to U.S. and explain Dem corruption in Ukraine, Giuliani tweeted today.
Diplomat George Kent in a closed-door testimony in the State Department objected to a visa request from Shokin due to his ineffectiveness in fighting corruption. Yovanovitch later corroborated that.
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): Did Giuliani overturn a decision that you participated in to deny Shokin a visa?
MARIE YOVANOVITCH, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO UKRAINE: Yes, that is what I was told.
SCHIFF: And that denial was based on Mr. Shokin's corruption?
YOVANOVITCH: Yes, that's true.
PLEITGEN: And you know, Erin, some of the groups that are absolutely irate about the people that Rudy Giuliani are speaking to are groups who are fighting corruption inside Ukraine. They say that the folks Rudy is talking to are actually undermining their own efforts to fight corruption in Ukraine and at the same time giving the U.S. which was the beacon of transparency for those countries a bad name as well, Erin.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Fred, and really important to lay all of that out when Giuliani comes and says he has something and now you understand the problem with that claim.
OUTFRONT next, the Democrat running against Lindsey Graham hopes to end the senator's grip on his seat. Does he have a chance? Well, he's my guest and we'll ask him.
And an award about a lie goes to -- President Trump and that's the truth.
BURNETT: Trump alley -- ally Lindsey Graham not holding back when it comes to defending President Trump. Senator Graham tweeting, quote: The best thing I can do for the constitution is to treat the House impeachment process with constitutional disdain, legitimizing this House impeachment effort politically weaponizes impeachment and demeans the Constitution.
Now, Graham is up for reelection next year. He's being hammered for statements like that by a Democratic challenger who is raising record cash.
OUTRONT now, Jamie Harrison, who is running for Graham's seat in South Carolina.
And I appreciate your time, Jamie. Let me just ask you the main question here especially given what I have just quoted. The House will vote to impeach President Trump tomorrow so the Senate trial, we anticipate starts in January.
Given what you know if you were in the Senate now, would you vote to convict and remove President Trump?
JAMIE HARRISON (D), SENATE CANDIDATE FOR SOUTH CAROLINA, RUNNING AGAINST LINDSEY GRAHAM: Listen, Erin, first of all, thank you so much for having me on tonight.
But, listen, I grew up here in Orangeburg, South Carolina, the son of a single mom reared by my grandparents and they taught me to be a man of character and value and they taught me that when you make a promise, when you take an oath, you stick to it. You keep it.
You know, if I were in the United States Senate, like Lindsey Graham -- you know, Lindsey took an oath of office to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. Lindsey's about to take another oath to be an impartial juror and he's going to fail on both cases.
This Lindsey Graham we can't recognize here in South Carolina because he speaks out of both sides of his mouth and he's not fighting for the people of South Carolina. So if I were in the United States right now I would be that impartial juror because that is the oath of office that I would take.
BURNETT: And -- OK, which is, Look, it's an important thing to say because as you are well aware, many are not -- are not saying that they would be impartial.
Obviously, he among them, Mitch McConnell among them, and Democrats among them.
Lindsey Graham, though, was one of the House managers in Clinton's impeachment. And I wanted to play what he said then and what he is saying now. Here he is, Jaime.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GRAHAM: In every trial that there has ever been in the Senate regarding impeachment, witnesses were called.
So, I don't need any witnesses.
Don't decide the case before the case is in.
I have made up my mind.
You don't even have to be convicted of a crime to lose your job in this constitutional republic.
I mean, show me something that is a crime.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: He's well aware that what he is saying now is 100 percent the opposite of what he said before when he spoke with such moral authority. Do voters that you're speaking to, though, Jamie, do they care about impeachment enough that these flip-flops matter?
HARRISON: I think the flip-flops do matter. You know, Lindsey Graham epitomizes what people hate in politics. They hate the double-speak from politicians. They want somebody with a moral compass who will focus on the things they're dealing with on a day-to-day basis.
And that's what we're doing with on this campaign. That's why a poll that came out recently that had me down two points. We are building a movement here in South Carolina focused on the people in South Carolina, not on all the political games in D.C., not about being relevant in Washington, D.C., but focusing on the people in this state.
And that's why I -- that's why we have so much momentum right now and I want folks to go to jamieharrison.com, continue that momentum, we are going to send Lindsey Graham home. People are tired of that type of politics. Our hospitals are closing here right now, Erin. We've had four rural hospitals that have closed.
Lindsey hasn't done a town hall in the state in well over two years but he's on news every other day. People understand that old adage in politics -- all politics is local. This guy is all about Washington, D.C., and he's not about the people in South Carolina. That's why we're going to send him home.
BURNETT: So his view of the president has changed dramatically from a few years ago and I want to show that juxtaposition to our viewers. Here he is again, Jaime.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GRAHAM: He's a race-baiting, xenophobic religious bigot. He doesn't represent my party.
The American people didn't say that he was a bigot. I don't think they would have elected one. Now, you're asking me --
REPORTER: Yes, in your mind?
GRAHAM: Yes, no. No, he's not.
(END VIDEO CLIP) BURNETT: OK, look, there you have it again.
BURNETT: Look, President Trump did win your state, Jamie, by 14 points. He's popular there today. So do people like that Graham flipped on that?
HARRISON: People want somebody with some integrity, not -- someone who will stand up. You can't trust Lindsey Graham, that's bottom line, because he's saying one thing today and will say something else tomorrow.
Yes, I'm getting Republicans coming to my events, Erin, and they're saying we want somebody who has some integrity. We want somebody who has a backbone and a spine. Lindsey Graham is somebody that we thought he actually had that, but it's come to show us all that he doesn't.
He just wants to be relevant. He just wants to be important and he only wants to be relevant and important in D.C., but we need somebody relevant and important in the lives of people in South Carolina. And that's why I'm going to be the next United States senator from this great state.
BURNETT: All right. I appreciate your time, Jaime, thank you very much.
HARRISON: Thank you. Happy holidays to you.
BURNETT: All right, and you too, sir.
I want to be clear so everyone knows, we did ask for an interview with Senator Graham but he declined. And he is welcome on our program at any time.
OUTFRONT next, President Trump takes top honors for an annual award, but will he be bragging about this one?
BURNETT: Here's Jeanne.
JEANNE MOOS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Are you ready for --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our 2019 PolitiFact lie of the year.
MOOS: Drum roll, please. Actually, forget the drum roll. We know who the winner is.
The real question is for which lie does President Trump get the title? TRUMP: The whistle-blower gave a false account.
The whistle-blower came out with a horrible statement.
Well, the whistle-blower is very inaccurate.
Defrauded our country because the whistle-blower wrote something that was totally untrue.
MOOS: Or at least almost completely wrong, or even the whistle-blower got it so wrong with so many O's.
PolitiFact says they found over 70 instances of President Trump repeating what they consider to be a whopper because the whistle- blower's report did correspond to the president's call with Ukraine's president.
TRUMP: Everything he wrote in that report almost was a lie.
MOOS: Many marveled at how PolitiFact picked just one. Really, they had a target-rich environment. Even some who have supported the president say --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's a congenital liar.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This man is a pathological liar.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At times, he's a full-blown B.S. artist.
MOOS (on camera): Some are going after PolitiFact for blowing the whistle on the whistle-blower blower.
(voice-over): Obviously the word "fact" in PolitiFact is a lie also.
The not-so-coveted title lie of the year brought out memes like, haha, I can lie faster than you can fact check. And taunts, well, @RealDonaldTrump, you didn't win "Time's" person of the year, but at least you have this.
TRUMP: The whistle-blower gave a lot of very incorrect information.
MOOS (on camera): This is actually the third time that President Trump has won lie of the year, which means at least he wasn't lying when he said this.
TRUMP: It's too much winning. We can't take it anymore.
MOOS (voice-over): Jeanne Moos, CNN --
TRUMP: I consider it to be a fake whistle-blower.
JIMMY KIMMEL, COMEDIAN: That's not a whistle. That's an air horn.
TRUMP: New York.
(END VIDEOTAPE) BURNETT: Too much winning.
Anderson starts now.