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Erin Burnett Outfront

McConnell Hits Trump for Calling Impeachment Probe a "Lynching"; New CNN Poll: Support for Impeachment Growing; NYT: Some Dems "Anxious," Looking for Other 2020 Candidates. Aired on 7-8p ET

Aired October 22, 2019 - 19:00   ET


ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next breaking news, blistering testimony from Trump's top diplomat in Ukraine tying aid to the country to getting dirt on Joe Biden. Plus, Trump's allies with a reality check, warning the President it's likely he will be impeached in the House, so what's the President's strategy now? And anxious Democrats looking at the 2020 field apparently asking is there anyone else. Let's go out front.

And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett. OUTFRONT tonight the breaking news, explosive testimony from Trump's top diplomat in Ukraine, Bill Taylor behind closed doors for 10 hours. And if you read just his 15- page prepared opening statement, you know that Trump offered a quid pro quo, period. Full stop. End of story according Taylor.

This opening statement itself is thorough. It is detailed. In fact, for Taylor to read these 15 pages it took over an hour. Taylor telling lawmakers that President Trump used the powers of his office to push Ukraine to investigate Biden and the 2016 election and a debunked conspiracy theory link to that.

One of the most alarming admissions refers to the text message sent by Taylor to the Ambassador to the EU Gordon Sondland back in September. Let me just remind you of that text message. It said, "Are we now saying that security assistance and White House meeting are conditioned on investigations?" Sondland responds, "Call me."

Well, Taylor revealing exactly what was said on that phone call and this comes from the opening statement. I want to read some of these lines, they're really important.

He says, "During that phone call, Ambassador Sondland told me that President Trump had told him that he wants President Zelensky to state publicly that Ukraine will investigate Burisma," that of course is the company Hunter Biden was on the Board of, "and alleged Ukrainian interference in the 2016 U.S. election."

Taylor then goes on to say that Ambassador Sondland said, "'Everything'," which he put in quotes, "was dependent on such an announcement, including security assistance. He said that President Trump wanted Presidents Zelensky," to put Presidents Zelensky, "'in a public box' by making a public statement about ordering such investigations.

Six days later, Taylor writes, he's recounting a conversation he had with Trump's official in charge of Europe, Tim Morrison and Taylor testifies again writing here, "According to Mr. Morrison, President Trump told Ambassador Sondland that he was not asking for a 'quid pro quo'. But President Trump did insist that President Zelensky go to a microphone and say he is opening investigations of Biden and 2016 election interference, and that President Zelensky should want to do this himself."

OK. It does not matter what you call something, what matters is what it is. And what Bill Taylor lays out in excruciating detail is the definition of a quid pro quo, which is what this impeachment investigation is all about. Now, the White House and Republicans are on defense tonight. Congressman Mark Meadows telling reporters, "Nothing new here, I think."

And a new statement from the White House reads, "President Trump has done nothing wrong, this is a coordinated smear campaign from far-left lawmakers and radical unelected bureaucrats waging war on the Constitution. There was no quid pro quo."

I mean, first of all, the facts are in here and they're very clear, OK, it's a quid pro quo. It's true Trump kept saying there wasn't one and then he laid out exactly that that's what it was. And we should note, when they take a slam at career bureaucrats, I mean, Taylor is a seasoned diplomat, an army veteran, a West Point graduate serving both Republican and Democratic presidents since 1985, appointed to an ambassadorship, his first one, from President George W. Bush.

And all of that adds up to what makes his testimony so damning tonight. Manu Raju is out front live on Capitol Hill. Manu, obviously, it took him an hour to read these 15 pages, but then he submitted to nine hours of questions. What more are you learning about what he said?

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Democrats and Republicans are asking him a lot about the essence of what he laid out in this 15-page testimony, more details about exactly what he said. What I'm told from various sources that he had a lot of details, that he had been able to corroborate some of this information by the notes that he took and was able to provide some information that gave some members more confidence on what he was saying reflected exactly the truth of what happened.

Now, what I'm also hearing is some members on both sides of the aisle concerned that his testimony conflicts with Gordon Sondland, the Ambassador to the European Union who testified last week that he did have a conversation with President Trump. A brief conversation with President Trump and that there was no quid pro quo, and he was not certain why the military aid was held up.


But what Bill Taylor is saying very clearly today in his testimony that Gordon Sondland told him that the reason why this was held up was they're waiting for the public declaration by the Ukrainian government of investigations into essentially the Bidens as well as to the origins of the 2016 campaign investigations that, of course, could help the President. He said that Gordon Sondland made that clear that President Trump told Sondland that.

Now, what I'm hearing from members of Republicans and Democrats are saying that Gordon Sondland should come back, clarify his testimony and they expect probably more questions for him to be sent his way. But there are other things that are Democrats and particularly alarmed by what Taylor said today in his testimony.

He said that he was referring to a conversation he had with Gordon Sondland, talking about President Trump, he says when a businessman is about to sign a check to someone who owes him something, he said the businessman ask that person to pay before signing the check. And what Sondland said is President Trump is a businessman, Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Manu, thank you very much. And I want to go out front now to someone who was at the deposition of the top U.S. Diplomat in Ukraine today, the Bill Taylor deposition, Democratic Congresswoman Karen Bass who serves on both the House Foreign Affairs and Judiciary Committees.

Obviously, I'll say it again, Congresswoman, an hour to read the opening statement, but then nine hours to submit to questions from your team, from Republicans' teams, from the lawyers in the room. What else did you learn from Bill Taylor that is important today?

REP. KAREN BASS (D-CA): Well, I think that it is all in the statement which I believe he's not confirmed. I thought it was just extremely troubling to hear him confirm essentially what he had said before, which is crazy, the idea that you would hold back foreign assistance for a political favor. I have to tell you, when this is all said and done, Ambassador Taylor is a patriot.

He is courageous. He was told not to come and testify. He came anyway. I think it was just a very, very critical day in terms of our investigation.

BURNETT: Well, as to point out, especially as the White House is slamming career bureaucrats, as they call them, he has, as he said, served under every administration, Republican and Democratic since 1985. Reagan appointee at that time and then served under the Reagan administration. And obviously, his first ambassadorship under George W. Bush.

How important was Taylor's deposition to your impeachment case against the President, Congresswoman Bass?

BASS: Well, I think it was critically important and what I believe is happening here is that for the last two and a half years, people in the State Department have had to live with an administration that denigrated them, that disrespected them, that didn't take their advice. I'm on foreign affairs. I travel the world. I go to embassies around the world.

And every time I go to an embassy, I have to sit there and essentially encourage them and tell them that we, the American people, really support them. We appreciate what they're doing. I think his testimony was critical. I think it just shows once again, you can't just say there's no quid pro quo and do exactly that and then it's OK.

You can't just commit a crime and say that you didn't and then expect it to go away.

BURNETT: So it's interesting you say that, because of the sentences said, "According to Mr. Morrison, President Trump told Ambassador Sondland he was not asking for a quid pro quo," period.

BASS: Right.

BURNETT: The next sentence reads, "But President Trump insisted President Zelensky go to a microphone ...

BASS: On a quid pro quo.

BURNETT: ... and say he's opening investigations of Biden and 2016 interference and that President Zelensky should want to do this himself. That is the definition of a quid pro quo and yet it appears Congressman Mark Meadows decided to see just the first sentence there. Here's what he just said, in the same room as you all day, Congresswoman Bass, here's what he said.


REP. MARK MEADOWS (R-NC): I've been in there for 10 hours, I can assure you there was no quid pro quo.


BASS: I mean at some point in time, you can't just say that something is not happening when all of the evidence is right there in front of you. Now, you know I have a little bit of empathy for my colleague, because what could he say, the evidence was clear. The testimony was clear. And so for him to say there was nothing new in a way that's true. I mean, we did have the President's Chief of Staff have a press conference last week and give a perfect example of a quid pro quo and he told all of us we just have to get over it.

You cannot normalize criminal behavior. No one is above the law.

BURNETT: So I want to ask you one other thing that's come out of all this today and also as your capacity as the Chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus, Congresswoman Bass. President Trump today tweeted his anger at the whole impeachment process and he wrote in part, "All republicans must remember what they are witnessing here, a lynching."

Some Republicans have defended the President. Lindsey Graham first said, "This is a lynching. In a sense, this is unAmerican." Later he was asked if he understands why anyone would be offended by those comments and I want to play for you what Senator Graham said.




SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): Lynching has been seen as somebody taking the law in their own hands and out to get somebody for no good reason. Yes, African-Americans lynched, other people have been lynched throughout history.


BASS: Lindsey Graham, a senator from a southern state where thousands of African-Americans were lynched should be ashamed of himself. Shame on him. He knows better than that. When lynching was happening in the United States and frankly it wasn't that long ago, the state of Texas put a man to death a couple of years ago for a lynching that happened in the last 10 years, but those were public events, people were invited. They were like sporting events, come and watch an African-American burn to death. Come and watch a hanging.

These were advertised as social events and this is a horrific part of our history and how dare Lindsey Graham coming from a state in which thousands of people were lynched to minimize it that way. For the President to take our constitutional responsibility to provide oversight as a co-equal branch of government, to take that and compare that to a hate crime he has been consistent.

Whenever he faces a day like today, he throws a racial bomb to try to divert our attention. But the testimony today was so explosive, even one of his racial bombs will not divert the attention away from a quid pro quo.

BURNETT: Congresswoman Bass, thank you very much for your time tonight.

BASS: Thank you.

BURNETT: And next, Trump allies now telling the President to accept the fact that he will almost surely be impeached in the House. How did Trump react? Well, we have new details on that next. Plus, the President behind the anonymous New York Times op-ed, you know the one that went after the President has now coming out with a whole book, a whole lot more and a whole new warning about President Trump. We have more on that this hour. And why some Democrats are asking is there anyone else who can run and beat Trump in 2020.



BURNETT: New tonight, allies of President Trump urging him to accept that he will most likely be impeached by the House and to focus his time on attacking the impeachment process more aggressively. This coming as the top U.S. Diplomat to Ukraine just wrapped up his day of dramatic and damaging testimony, literally just finishing as we were coming back here from commercial.

Kaitlan Collins is out front at the White House. So Kaitlan, how is the president taking this reality check of people around him saying stop trying to pretend Pelosi may not get there, you should assume it's going to happen and the vote will be to impeach you.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Erin, they're saying he needs to be more aggressive, but maybe not. He's responding in the way that they expected him to, referring to as a lynching today. Something that Republicans were very frustrated they had to spend the day defending when they finally thought they were able to frame this impeachment as an unfair process to the President.

That seems to be more of the strategy the White House is trying to take tonight with the Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham, putting out this statement saying, "President Trump has done nothing wrong." Referring essentially to the testimony on Capitol Hill as a coordinated smear campaign from far-left lawmakers and radical unelected bureaucrats.

That last part is interesting there, Erin, because some of the people who've been on Capitol Hill are Trump appointees. People the President has picked to fill this position, but that's how the White House is framing this. And, of course, those allies pushing the President to be more aggressive and aides doing the same comes as the President has really wrestled with how seriously to take this, because initially people were really dismissive of it focusing on how there hadn't been any kind of a formal vote yet from Democrats.

But essentially when they felt like they weren't going to be able to get something like that, they're now focusing on what they're going to do, because they are watching these people continue to defy their vow to not cooperate with this inquiry. People like what you saw today, these diplomats continuing and going to testify as you just pointed out for so many hours and that is something they're wrestling with, because they don't know exactly what it is that these officials are saying.

An indication of how the White House is gearing up for this, the President's legal team is here at the White House today going over what their impeachment strategy is going to be, something that Republicans are hoping the White House can put out and be more aggressive with.

BURNETT: All right. Kaitlan, thank you very much. And I want to go now to our Political Analyst David Gregory, former Counsel to the U.S. Assistant Attorney General for National Security Carrie Cordero, Nancy McEldowney, who was the U.S. Ambassador to Bulgaria and has known Bill Taylor for 25 years, and former FBI Assistant Director and Republican State Senator in Nevada Greg Brower. I appreciate all of your time.

Carrie, you've had a chance to read the opening statement which as I said took Mr. Taylor an hour to read and then he had nine hours of questions after it. But you've seen the 15 pages, how big of a deal was this testimony?

CARRIE CORDERO, FORMER COUNSEL TO THE U.S. ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR NATIONAL SECURITY: I think it's an incredibly big deal for a couple of reasons. First with respect to the issues that are under consideration for impeachment, Bill Taylor clearly articulated, I think, in the way that we've most clearly understood it at this point, the exchange that was on the table. In other words, that the president and his advisors who were doing this secondhand back-channel communications with the government of Ukraine, they were seeking out political information regarding investigations into the Bidens, investigations into the 2016 campaign in exchange for U.S. government security assistance.

And then the second piece that I think was devastating from a National Security perspective and a foreign policy perspective which should be of concern on a bipartisan basis is that Ambassador Taylor's testimony shows that the President was pushing a change in policy with respect to Ukraine.


That's not an issue for impeachment, but it does show how dramatically and how quickly he is changing the U.S.'s role in the world and its foreign policy towards a country that previously has been considered an ally and someone that we were providing substantial security assistance to.

BURNETT: And which I know as you point out on a bipartisan supported basis over a very long period of time.

Ambassador McEldowney, you know Bill Taylor and I say this, the statement that just came out from the White House, I don't know if you just heard part of it, but this is a coordinated smear campaign from far-left lawmakers and radical unelected bureaucrats waging war on the Constitution. I suppose that one of those, according to the White House, is Bill Taylor.

He was first appointed by George W. Bush to an ambassadorship. He served under Reagan and every president since. He's a West Point graduate. He served in the 101st Airborne in Vietnam. His opening statement was 15 pages. It took an hour for him to read.

Does it surprise you, Ambassador, that he kept such detailed notes, that so much of his recollections of phone calls and meetings is in quotes?

NANCY MCELDOWNEY, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO BULGARIA: It does not surprise me at all, because Bill Taylor is a very measured, very methodical, very meticulous professional. You've talked about many of the things that he's done. He has for many years been the senior statesman responsible for U.S. foreign assistance. Billions of dollars of assistance to Afghanistan, to Iraq, to the Middle East.

Bill was responsible for all of that over the course of two decades without a single instance of him ever being questioned about a decision that he took or any responsibility that he held. It doesn't surprise me to hear the White House lashing out at him in the same way that they lashed out at Masha Yovanovitch.

But frankly, Bill comforted himself with the dignity and the courage of his convictions that I expected to see of him. He made heroic efforts to fight against this informal and unusual second track of diplomacy that as Carrie noted was subverting our strategic interest in Ukraine. He also made clear that there is much more to be uncovered here to include the role that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has played.

BURNETT: And I want to get to that in a moment, because there is a very explicit part in this testimony, the prepared remarks about Secretary of State Pompeo. Greg, first though, Bill Taylor said that in his opening statement that in a call with the OMB, the Office of Management and Budget, a staffer explicitly said President Trump personally directed Mick Mulvaney to halt the aid. It is very explicit, the President of the United States directed this.

And then Taylor says, "There followed a series of NSC-led interagency meetings, starting at the staff level and quickly reaching the level of Cabinet secretaries. At every meeting, the unanimous conclusion was that the security assistance should be resumed, the hold lifted. At one point, the Defense Department was asked to perform an analysis of the effectiveness of the assistance. Within a day, the Defense Department came back with the determination that the assistance was effective and should be resumed."

I mean, Greg, this just puts an incredible explanation point on this, Trump defying his own Defense Department, his foreign service Democrats and Republicans. A country under physical attack from Russia, because he wanted an investigation into Joe Biden.

GREG BROWER, FORMER DEPUTY GENERAL COUNSEL, FBI: Yes. Erin, I think this testimony by Ambassador Taylor makes all of that very, very clear. That shows just how illogical this approach led by the president and facilitated by others was. It had everyone from career officials at the State Department to career officials at DoD to obviously our foreign partners, including Ukrainians just stunned by what was going on.

Nobody could explain it, nobody could believe it and it is clear. I don't care what the White House and its supporters may try to say. It is absolutely clear from this testimony that there was a quid pro quo and that the details, more details will only come out to present a fuller picture. And look, there are certainly Republicans on the hill who are going to go down swinging and are going to support the President to the very bitter end, but I have to believe that today's events are causing a lot of thoughtful Republicans on the Hill to start wondering how far can we go in supporting this president.

BURNETT: David Gregory, I mean he lays out, right, that president Trump insisted President Zelensky to go to the microphone himself and say that he is going to open investigation of Biden and 2016 election interference. He continues to say, this is about Ambassador Sondland, saying he had talked to President Zelensky.

This is Ambassador Sondland, so he tells Taylor. He talked to President Zelensky and told him that although this was not a quid pro quo, if President Zelensky did not clear things up in public, we could be at a stalemate.


So, again, they seem to be hanging everything, David, on, oh, it's not a quid pro quo, but then let's just show you the quid pro quo.

DAVID GREGORY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Right, because the language that he uses in his testimony is the President would say, well, he should want to clear this up. He should want to take this particular stand. It's in his interest.

I think the quid pro quo is obvious. I think what's so striking about Bill Taylor's testimony and, of course, the White House can't touch him with their garbage spin that they put out, is it's a fuller picture of what was going on. We began with the whistleblower and that was what was just readily visible from atop the water.

Underneath the fuller scope of this iceberg is how uncomfortable career diplomats were, even the President's political appointees with tying the aid to digging up dirt on a political opponent and to having what Bill Taylor described as an irregular channel of foreign policy, the official and the non-official. And the non-officials being run by Rudy Giuliani and his conspiracies about Ukraine and he had an audience of one, the President, who was willing to dictate official policy because of those feelings.

BURNETT: All right. All of you stay with me, because I want to talk about something significant that happened today and that is Mitch McConnell breaking with Trump. And I want to share exactly what the top Senate Republican is saying tonight. Plus, as the impeachment investigation intensifies, what are voters saying?



ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking news: As the most damning testimony against Trump trickles out tonight, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is not rushing to the president's side. In fact, he directly is contradicting the president.


REPORTER: The president has said that you told him that his phone call with the Ukrainian president was perfect and innocent. Do you believe that the president has handled this Ukrainian situation perfectly?

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): I haven't -- we've not had any conversations on that subject.

REPORTER: So, he was lying about that?

MCCONNELL: You'll have to ask him. I don't recall any conversations with the president about that phone call.


BURNETT: Of course, the president explicitly he had talked to, you know, McConnell about it who had said it was perfect. Well, it didn't stop there. McConnell also calling Trump out for the impeachment inquiry and comparing it to a lynching.


MCCONNELL: Given the history in our country I would not compare this to a lynching. That was an unfortunate choice of words.


BURNETT: Now, McConnell also putting forward a strongly worded resolution today on top of all that to block Trump's bid to pull U.S. troops out of Syria and an even tougher resolution than the one that pass said the House of Representatives.

Everyone's back with me.

I mean, Greg, you add this up, refusing to say that he told the president that the call was perfect. You'd have to ask him, saying he wouldn't have used those words to talk about the impeachment inquiry, putting out a resolution on the Senate floor that is tougher than the one in the House that already had done part of the job.

What does that say to you about Senator McConnell? What is he trying to say?

GREG BROWER, FORMER FBI ASSISTANT DIRECTOR, FORMER GOP STATE LAWMAKER: It tells me that the majority leader will only go so far with support of this president and with a specific apparent misstatement like the one he heard referenced earlier he's just not going to lie about it. There are many House Republicans who if the president said it was snowing in Washington today, they would all agree with him and talk about how it was snowing in Washington. Mitch McConnell is simply not going to go that far. He's simply not going to, you know, jeopardize his own credibility to support this president.

And I think increasingly, he's not going to be alone. As I referenced earlier, a lot of nervous Republicans on Capitol Hill right now who are very, very concerned with what the president has been doing and saying, particularly this Ukrainian deal and they're worried and they're nervous and they're not going support him forever.

BURNETT: Carrie, you know, since becoming president, Senator McConnell has defended Trump a lot, right? But that was want always the case and that's why today, the question is how significant is it? This is an interview that did I with Senator McConnell back in 2016. Trump was a presumed nominee and he was claiming an American-born judge couldn't decide a case involving Trump because of his Mexican heritage.

Here's what McConnell said about Trump.


MCCONNELL: He's now one of the two people that are going to be president of the United States of America and he needs to begin to act like a presidential candidate. I have listed all of last week, every occasion of how much I differed with Donald Trump, particularly attacking people on the basis of their ethnicity. Totally inappropriate.


BURNETT: I mean, that's like a different person. But, Carrie, today he cracked the door. Could we start to see more of that, Mitch McConnell where he distances himself from the president?

CARRIE CORDERO, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, I hope so, and I think he is putting some distance between himself and the president, and I think it mostly concerns national security. He called the president's withdrawal, his chaotic, rash decision to withdraw from Syria, a grave, strategic mistake. That's how Mitch McConnell described the president's decision to withdraw from Syria.

And now coupled with this new information that the president sort of the clarity of the information that has been coming out that the president has been using his foreign policy abilities in order to receive political information from a foreign government. I really think that Mitch McConnell and other national security-minded Republicans who are in Congress need to take a real serious look at whether they are going continue to abide the president's chaotic and ill-conceived and really irrational national security and foreign policy decision making because according to Ambassador Taylor's testimony today, the concern is that he's making decisions that are not in America's interest.


And that's something that I think Mitch McConnell cares about.

BURNETT: David, a quick bullet point on this, though. Justin Amash, you know, a former Republican in favor of impeachment, became independent, told me last night, at best one or two Republicans in the House would vote for impeachment. Do you think it would be more?

DAVID GREGORY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I don't know that it would be more. I don't know that the politics have changed, but I think Mitch McConnell has an interesting window into those politics. I mean, Carrie is exactly right. I think not just the poor decision on Syria and the substance, but it's the chaotic decision making has emboldened Republicans who are national security-minded Republicans to say this is completely out of bounds, and completely wrong.

And it has given them more room to be critical of impeachment. It's not that hard to distance yourself from the president talking about his situation and comparing it to lynching. That's an easy thing to be critical of the president of.

But I think there are more Republicans in the Senate who are more troubled across the board than what the president is doing that they can use Syria as a way to be critical and you also have to look at the president's standings in the poll and the more popular impeachment becomes and the removal becomes, the more the Republicans feel that they do not have to kowtow to this president and that could accelerate.

BURNETT: And much more on that in a moment.

Ambassador, I want to ask you, though. Today, we learned the anonymous senior Trump administration official who wrote the now- famous "New York Times" op-ed claiming to be part of the resistance inside the Trump administration has now written a whole book and it's coming out next month called "a warning", and it says there will be all kind of more information in there, more behind the scenes things about Donald Trump and his presidency.

Ambassador, what does it is a to you, the significance of this, that this person didn't stop with the op-ed and they've now gone and written a whole book and, by the way, they say they didn't take an advance for it and they're going to be donating significantly from the royalties to organizations.

NANCY MCELDOWNEY, SERVED IN STATE DEPARTMENT FOR 31 YEARS, MOST RECENTLY AMBASSADOR TO BULGARIA: it says two things to me. It says that people are obviously so troubled by what is happening. What has happened throughout the course of this administration where institutions are being destroyed, our foreign policy is in a shambles as Colin Powell said recently and really across the country, people are saying are Democratic institutions being undermined.

So I understand why people who are working in the administration are so troubled by it, but I would suggest that rather than submitting an anonymous book that they should follow suit as patriots like Bill Taylor and Marie Yovanovitch have stood up, owned their own opinions --


MCELDOWNEY: -- and have identified themselves and not as the whistle- blower who deserves legal protection, but you know, this anonymity that this author is claiming is just feeding further into the fear.

BURNETT: Right. It also can feed Trump's narrative, as well, right? He won't stand up and say it's weak. Yes, that's a good point that this person would just put their name out there.

Thank you all so very much.

And next, a CNN poll showing growing support for impeachment and does this move the needle for Trump supporters?

Plus, Michelle Obama, Michael Bloomberg and some of the names that the Democrats are throwing out as possible 2020 contenders. One of them, maybe, the other, come on, people. Give it up. Why is there anxiety within the party tonight?



BURNETT: Tonight, support for impeachment growing. Half of Americans now say President Trump should be impeached and removed from office. That's a new high in CNN polling. But is the impeachment inquiry moving the needle for Trump supporters

at all?

Miguel Marquez is OUTFRONT.


MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Aaron Schatz, fourth-generation farmer in Cresco, Iowa.

AARON SCHATZ, IOWA FARMER: This is corn that we've chopped and you feed it to the cows and --

MARQUEZ: His world, a wife, two kids and 1,500 acres of corn and soybeans, milk and beef cows, two dogs and a goat named Gus. He's one of many voters in this northeastern Iowa county who supported Obama twice and then voted for Donald Trump.

SCHATZ: I don't see anybody in the Democratic field that I'm too comfortable with yet. I guess we have to wait and see who comes out.

MARQUEZ (on camera): So, you're open to voting for a Democrat?

SCHATZ: I'm open but not probably by a lot.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): Trade and healthcare, his biggest concerns. Impeachment doesn't rate.

(on camera): Does impeachment play into your decision about him or your feeling about him at all?

SCHATZ: Not yet.

MARQUEZ: But it hasn't broken through it for you?

SCHATZ: No, it hasn't yet. You know, I guess, to me, the things seem kind of minor as of yet, you know?

MARQUEZ: Minor in that all politicians do this sort of stuff?

SCHATZ: Yes, I'm sure they all do it. I mean, you think they can dig up dirt on everyone, you know?

MARQUEZ (voice-over): Business owner Barb Gardner (ph) also voted for Obama and then Trump. Something she says she probably won't do again, but not because of impeachment.

BARB GARDNER, BUSINESS OWNER: I kind of still like him, but yet I don't like what he says. I don't like his -- his -- the way he presents himself.

MARQUEZ: It's voters like these that help propelled Donald Trump into the White House. Howard County is unique, flipping from Obama in 2012 to Trump in 2016, by more than any other county in the country. A 41- point swing.

(on camera): What's it like to be a Democrat in Howard County, Iowa these days?

LAURA HUBKA, CHAIR, HOWARD COUNTY DEMOCRATIC PARTY: A lot of people hiding or not talking about it.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): The chair of the Democratic Party in Howard County says impeachment complicates her job of convincing independents to vote Democratic.

HUBKA: They actually bring something that's criminal and worthy of impeachment. I can see the people, those independents to go, OK, there really is something.

MARQUEZ: The county's GOP chair says trade policy will move votes in Howard. Impeachment right now?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It all becomes a hum, and background noise and we've almost come to expect it.



MARQUEZ: Now, I expected the chairs of the Republican and Democratic parties to be a lot more confident about what was going to happen here in November 2020, neither of them were. We spoke to a lot of Democrats and independents and Republicans about their thoughts on impeachment, they think that what the president is accused of may be shady. It may be slimy, but they do not think, at least this point, that it amounts to an impeachable offense -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Miguel, thank you very much. Some fantastic reporting there, to give us a sense of what's happening in such an important county.

And next, there are more than a dozen Democrats running for president, right? So, you just heard a few people weighing in on whether they'd vote for them and now party insiders are asking, is there someone else?

And Jeanne on how the impeachment investigation is leaving so many tongues tied up in knots.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I said there was no quid pro quo --





BURNETT: So, tonight, Democrats are on edge. Despite the fact that President Trump is embroiled in an impeachment inquiry and 19 Democrats are running for the nomination, many Democrats are asking, is there anyone else who has a chance of beating Trump?

So, "The New York Times" put it like this, I want to quote the operative part here, with doubt rising about former Vice President Joe Biden's ability to finance a multistate primary campaign, persistent questions about Senator Elizabeth Warren's viability in the general election and skepticism that Mayor Pete Buttigieg can broaden his appeal beyond white voters, Democratic leaders are fretting about who is the race longing for a white knight to enter the contest at the last minute.


OUTFRONT now, Patrick Healy, political editor of "The New York Times", just edited the story, and Andrew Gillum, former Democratic nominee for Florida governor and former mayor of Tallahassee.

All right, Patrick. So, you've seen all the reporting here. You know, and then the article, your article goes to toss in other names, Hillary Clinton, wow, OK, that's where they're turning. Michael Bloomberg, John Kerry, even Michelle Obama.

This is who they throw out there?

PATRICK HEALY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, there is a lot of anxiety, Erin. I mean, my reporter Jonathan Martin spent days talk to Democrats in the establishment, in the party in labor. And the reality is, is that there is real concern.

Now, look, we have seen this about before. We saw this with Bill Clinton in 1992 when there was worries about whether he really could take on George H. W. Bush and Ross Perot. We saw it certainly right around this time in 2003 when Howard Dean, the liberal Elizabeth Warren-like figure, was seen as the front runner before John Kerry ultimately won the nomination. So, we have seen it before.

But you are seeing intensity now because you have had establishment Democrats waiting for months to Joe Biden to be able to basically show that he deserved to be that front runner status that he had. But instead, he has about $9 million cash on hand, showing a real difficulty in terms of being able to put together a message that is energizing voters --


HEALY: -- and building his base and real questions about Elizabeth Warren and whether she can beat Trump.

BURNETT: So, Mayor, "The New York Times" quoted a few Democrats. One said since the last debate I've had five or six ask me, is there anybody else. Another says there's more anxiety than ever.

Mitch Landrieu, the former New Orleans mayor -- by the way I give Mary Landrieu credit for saying it on the record. I can see it, I can feel it, I can hear it.

Mayor, can you see it, feel it and hear it? ANDREW GILLUM, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Listen, I -- obviously with

due respect to the reporting, yes, there are Democrats out there that are antsy about our choices. But the truth is I understand their antsiness. I mean, we are running against one of the most unprecedented characters in American history. Up is down and down is up with Donald Trump. It's extremely difficult to predict how the American voters are going to respond.

But I would simply caution Democrats. Let's trust the process. We have a primary process for a reason. We've got a dynamic slate of candidates out there. I know we want to sort of cherry pick what we think is the best offering up that we have.

But that's what the primary process is about. These voters going to the poll they want to win more than anything.


BURNETT: Mayor, does it wore worry you though that Democrats telling Jonathan Martin that they're desperately looking for another name? I mean, they have 19 people. They have a lot of incredibly qualified people with incredible resumes, whether you like them the politically or not, you can't dispute that.


BURNETT: And yet you got all these people, and the establishment, big donors saying please, dear God, give us somebody else. Does that worry you?

GILLUM: We had six million people fewer vote in 2016 than voted in '12. What we ought to be focused on is the building the kind of apparatus and organization. It's one of the things I'm doing here in Florida with our registration and reengagement effort.

What Republicans do, they didn't predict Donald Trump was going to be president -- I mean, the Republican nominee but they built a party that was designed to deliver a victory, a win. And so, for all of the donors whomever the big poobahs out there that are considering, trying to put somebody else in the race, I would suggest to them, let's fund and focus on the principles that actually deliver a win -- register, engage, turn out, get those 6 million people back in the process so that we can win these states that we once lost.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you both very much.

And next, Jeanne on the impeachment tongue twister.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There was a quid pro quo -- quid pro quo.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Never in the sense of a quid pro quo.




BURNETT: Here is Jeanne.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's enough to make you say, quid pro no!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A quid pro quo.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There was no quid pro quo.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the quid and that's the pro.

MOOS: Hitting the missing quo.


MOOS: What's with the constant bombardment?

TRUMP: It was quid pro quo. That's all you heard about.

MOOS: Trump supporters even know to join in.

TRUMP: That's what you call quid pro quo.

MOOS: Though President Trump on occasion.

TRUMP: There is no pro quo.

MOOS: Forgets the quid. Maybe that's why he had it on a note card the other day.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Armed with a handwritten note that read, in part, no quid pro quo.

MOOS: Quid pro quo is from Latin meaning something for something. Think of it as you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Quid pro quo. I tell you things you tell me things.

MOOS: But there is something about trying to say.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: President Trump ordered a quid po quo -- quid pro quo.

MOOS: That makes even a pro say quid pro uh-oh.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I said, there was no quid pro quo.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He doesn't say that was quid pro quo. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: May have been a quid pro -- quid pro quo.

MOOS: Stumbling not just once.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Say there's no quid pro -- quid pro quo.

MOOS: But twice.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But don't require quid -- quid pro quo.

MOOS: Forget the three stooges, Rudy, President Trump and Attorney General Barr got labeled quid, pro and quo in this cartoon.

Stephen Colbert pretended he was the president's acting chief of staff.

STEPHEN COLBERT, COMEDIAN: My point is we're not quid amateur quos. We're quid pro quos. We're ready good at it.

MOOS: But is it possible to become allergic?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This guy is saying, I don't think we shall hold the money. That's a quid pro quo. Gesundheit.

MOOS (on camera): Joy maybe on to something here, maybe every time we hear quid pro quo, we should all say, gesundheit.


MOOS: OK, that's good.

(voice-over): And even if it's not good --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That there was a quid pro -- quid pro quo.

MOOS: Gesundheit.

Jeanne Moos, CNN --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Never in the sense of a quid pro quo.

BEHAR: Gesundheit.

MOOS: New York.


BURNETT: Thanks so much for joining us.

Anderson starts now.