Return to Transcripts main page

Erin Burnett Outfront

Democrats Discussing Articles Of Impeachment As GOP Calls Impeachment Process "Dangerous"; Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD) Discuss About Articles Of Impeachment Against President Trump; Graham Today: Dems' Impeachment Process "Really Dangerous" For U.S.; In 1998: Closed-Door Depositions A "Smart Thing To Do"; Pompeo Dodges Repeated Questions On Giuliani's Ukraine Work; Sources: Diplomat's Testimony "Reverberating" Among GOP; Biden Open to Super PAC Help After Struggling to Raise Cash; Presidential Candidate Beto O'Rourke (D-TX) is Interviewed About Biden Open to Super PAC Help. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired October 24, 2019 - 19:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: ... I knew Congressman Cummings, I interviewed him on many occasion. He was a great American, lawmaker and a wonderful, wonderful person. We will miss him. Erin Burnett OUTFRONT starts right now.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next breaking news, Democrats now discussing what articles of impeachment would look like against President Trump. The House Majority Leader is out front next. Plus, the Secretary of State dodging impeachment questions. The same Secretary of State who listened in on Trump's call with the President of Ukraine. Does Mike Pompeo have explaining to do? And a major reversal by Joe Biden now opening up the door to big money and NAFTA mud (ph) to so many of his rivals. Will it hurt Biden with voters? Let's go out front.

And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett. OUTFRONT tonight, the breaking us, lawmakers and aides telling CNN the Democrats are now discussing what articles of impeachment against the President will look like. This includes how many of them there will be, what exactly they may include.

Make no mistake, this is a pivotal moment for the country, the articles of impeachment are it, right? That's what they're going to vote on. It's not just that do you impeachment him. It's on exactly what, bullet point by bullet point of whether there is a vote to indict the President of the United States.

Now, we are told there are some disagreement among Democrats tonight on exactly how to go about drafting the articles and we're going to have much more on those crucial details. The breaking news in just a moment, but it comes as Republicans are launching a new attack on the investigation, ignoring the damning evidence of a quid pro quo with Ukraine and instead focusing on the process. Here's Senator Lindsey Graham with a stunning admission.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): I'm not here to tell you that Donald

Trump has done nothing wrong. I'm not here to tell you anything other than that the way they're going about it is really dangerous for the country.


BURNETT: So that is Trump's staunchest defender on Ukraine, unable to say that the President of the United States did nothing wrong, which is pretty incredible if you're going to be the staunchest defender and you can't say he didn't do anything wrong. But what Graham is defending him on is saying that the people investigating Trump are hurting their country and he says his anger is that how they're going about the investigation?

The problem is that self righteous indignation does not add up. Here is Lindsey Graham defending Republicans conducting the exact same kind of investigation, impeachment, in the exact same way behind closed doors in 1998.


GRAHAM: The depositions, I think, will determine whether or not we go forward with hearings. I think as a very smart thing to do is to depose these people and find out what they've got to say and not drag this thing out unnecessarily.


BURNETT: Very smart thing to do to depose them, right? Well, I guess the times have changed and the President has changed, so Graham's view has changed. But Graham and Trump's other allies are worried after Bill Taylor, Trump's top Diplomat in Ukraine, laid out that evidence of a quid pro quo, telling lawmakers, Democrat and Republican on the committee in the room that President Trump withheld military aid until the Ukrainian president announced an investigation into Joe Biden.

So today the best Graham could do to push back against those allegations was to say this.


GRAHAM: Did he talk to the President?

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: He talked to Ambassador Sondland who talked to the President.

GRAHAM: Oh, that's hearsay.


BURNETT: Hearsay? Taylor is a meticulous note taker. He has served in government for 30 years under all presidents beginning with Reagan. His first ambassadorship from George W. Bush. And in his opening statement, which took him an hour to read because he had it in such detail, he laid out his conversations with Trump's handpicked million dollar donor ambassador including quotes around key phrases because he'd taken so many notes like this one.

"Ambassador Sondland told me that he had recommended to President Zelensky that he used the phrase, 'I will leave no stone unturned' with regard to 'investigations' when President Zelensky spoke with President Trump."

Investigations, he said, was a term that Sondland used when talking to him to mean matters related to Biden. He puts phrase after phrase in quotes and that is why the most important thing here is the facts. Facts that as I've said tonight have Democrats openly discussing those actual informal articles of impeachment and Republicans like Lindsey Graham yelling about the process.

Manu Raju is out front live on Capitol Hill. Manu, what more are you learning about? What democrats are saying where they are on possible articles of impeachment?

RAJU: Well, it's very early in the process of actually moving forward on votes or drafting the articles of impeachment. There are discussions happening behind the scenes, mostly among rank and file members. People who sit on some of the key committees about exactly how that would be structured. There's a discussion about having multiple articles of impeachment, allowing some members potentially to vote against some and vote for others, including abuse of power including obstruction of justice, obstruction of Congress among those discussions.

But what Democrats will tell you right now is that this investigation that's happening is in the initial phase.


The closed door deposition phase. They've just added two more witnesses to a round of four witnesses will come next week. Another one coming on Saturday. People from the State Department and the National Security Council, people who will brag more testimony about exactly how and why that Ukrainian aid was withheld and how much of it was tied to the President's demand to have Ukraine mount investigations that can help him politically.

Now, after those closed door depositions, that's when they go into the more public phase where we could expect to see some public hearings, then these committees are going to actually draft a report that will be sent over to the House Judiciary Committee, which would be the committee that will consider actual articles of impeachment against the President.

So as you can see, we're in the first phase of several key steps that could eventually lead to what many Democrats are saying that it isn't inevitable that the President will ultimately become just the third to be impeached in history, Erin.

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

Out front tonight, House Majority Leader Democratic Congressman Steny Hoyer. Congressman, I appreciate your time tonight and, of course, as you've heard, we understand Democrats are starting to discuss what articles of impeachment would look like. Your colleague, David Cicilline, a senior member of the Judiciary Committee, says members of Congress have been talking about what the articles may include. What can you tell us?

REP. STENY HOYER (D-MD): Well, look, the Speaker and I have both said that we're going to wait until we get all the facts before we make decisions on whether or not we ought to move forward. I'm not surprised that there are some members talking about this possibility, that possibility and the other possibility.

But what we are doing now is the fact-finding investigation portion of our responsibility under the Constitution. When that's completed, then we will be timely to discuss if it is proper to move ahead. How so, what should the articles of impeachment be or articles of impeachment be, but I'm sure there are members who are discussing that themselves.

BURNETT: So do you think, you're using words like if and all the facts, is it still an if? I mean, do you think after going down this far from what you've seen that it - I mean, are you really trying to put out there that you might not do it?

HOYER: No. What I'm saying is we haven't done it at this point in time and we're waiting to conclude the investigatory best part of our responsibility. That is what is proceeding now. And when we complete that, then I'm sure we will sit down. If articles are required and appropriate, then we're going to discuss what articles they will be and whether they can be one two or more.

BURNETT: So when you say one, two or more, we do understand that among Democrats, you're still dealing with, you and the Speaker, with two camps, those who want to keep any articles very focused on the quid pro quo and Ukraine, between the President and Ukraine, and those who want them to be much broader, including things from the Russia investigation from the Mueller report. Are you open to it being broader than the quid pro quo in Ukraine?

HOYER: I'm certainly open to it based upon what the facts dictate that we all say. I think there are a lot of members who believe that the American people get that it is improper to be asking a foreign head of government to involve himself in our elections. They think that's not the right thing to do.

It's under the Constitution and laws of our country or under the election laws, so that I think that most members believe that is something that most Americans believe should not have happened, should not have occurred and they believe it's an abuse of power. And we don't believe that anybody is above the law, including the President of the United States.

So that article, I think, if we move ahead and I keep saying if because we have not concluded the investigatory process yet and we ought to wait until we do that. But clearly, I think you're right and ...

BURNETT: So you're saying it from a procedural point of view, not an intellectual point of view.

HOYER: Correct.

BURNETT: OK. So some of the most damning testimony that we have seen publicly at least when we saw the prepared remarks came from Bill Taylor.

HOYER: Correct.

BURNETT: The top U.S. Diplomat in Ukraine and he testified there was a quid pro quo, no military aid unless Joe Biden was investigated. I want to play more of the exchange between Manu Raju and Lindsey Graham about Mr. Taylor.



GRAHAM: Did he talk to the President?

RAJU: He talked to Ambassador Sondland who talked to the President.

GRAHAM: Oh, that's hearsay. So here's what I can ...

RAJU: You don't think he's trustworthy?

GRAHAM: ... no, no, here's what I can get over, if Rudy Giuliani had a 15-page statement saying he did nothing wrong, would you want to know more? Would you accept that statement? I've got nothing against Bill Taylor. It's the process.


BURNETT: Do you buy, Congressman that Lindsey Graham who we just showed has defended this process in the past, you just heard him defend it in the past.


Do you buy it as if an issue with the process or do you think he is trying to make this witness look untrustworthy?

HOYER: I think the process argument is a distraction and his phony. What is at question here is the substance of the President's actions. Did he abuse the power he has as president, did he abuse the power in not giving the 391 million to a Ukraine that was under attack by Russia.

Now, we know Russia is headed by Putin and so we don't know whether the President and Putin have talked about this, but Russia has also been advantaged by what happened in Turkey. So I think Mr. Graham's argument with respect to process is simply a distraction, a pounding on the table.

BURNETT: I also want to ask you about one other thing tonight and that is the service on Capitol Hill today in memory of your friend Elijah Cummings, the Chairman of the House Oversight Committee who passed away one week ago. And I know you spoke at the service today, Congressman, as did your friend, the House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and others.

But more surprisingly perhaps too many Americans right now, there were Republicans who also spoke very movingly. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Congressman Mark Meadows, here are some of what Mr. Meadows said.


REP. MARK MEADOWS (R-NC): Some have classified it as an unexpected friendship but for those of us that know Elijah, it's not unexpected or surprising. Perhaps this place in this country would be better served with a few more unexpected friendships. I know I've been blessed by one.


BURNETT: What can Democrats and Republicans learn from Congressman Cummings who was able to move his friend Mark Meadows to tears as he remember him today?

HOYER: First, I think any American who did not know Elijah Cummings, nevertheless they watched him on television, they heard him speak, they knew he was a man of great principle, of great empathy, civility, a passion for civil rights, but at core he was a good human being. He was a human being who respected others. He was a human being who would listen to others.

And I think that's what Mark Meadows was saying. We need more of that. Unfortunately, we have a very confrontational politics in our country which is reflected in our Congress and that I think disturbs the American people. Of course, my advice to them is to elect people like Elijah Cummings who are willing to work with others based upon principle, not based upon politics.

BURNETT: All right. Well, thank you very much, Congressman Hoyer. I appreciate your time tonight.

HOYER: Thank you.

BURNETT: And OUTFRONT next, Trump's Secretary of State grilled by reporters about Giuliani's work in Ukraine. His answer, you'll hear it in full. Plus, sources telling CNN the testimony from Trump's top diplomat in Ukraine is a game-changer among some Republicans, but does that mean they will say it publicly? And presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke is out front, will he qualify for the next debate?



BURNETT: New tonight, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says he isn't worried President Trump's impeachment inquiry will damage his reputation. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MIKE POMPEO, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: I don't think about that stuff. I work hard. I do the right thing as best I can tell every day. You all talk about this noise an awful lot that you all are fixated on this. The State Department you should know is not.


BURNETT: Pompeo clearly though irritated during an interview with The Wichita Eagle. He was, obviously, in Wichita today. Case in point, this exchange about five minutes later over President Trump's decision to abandon the Kurds in Syria and what he said there was, "What good really is the word -" oh, I'm sorry, we do have that, OK.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What good really is the word of the U.S. in light of the President's treatment of the Kurds? Has that undercut U.S. credibility?

POMPEO: Yes. The whole predicate of your question is insane. The word of the Unites States - I'll give you a good example, the word of the United States is much more respected today than it was just two and a half years ago.


BURNETT: "The whole predicate of your question is insane." So how does he feel about those questions? Out front now, former FBI Assistant Director and Republican State Senator in Nevada, Greg Brower, Tim Naftali, who is the Director of the Nixon Presidential Library, Congressional Reporter for The Washington Post, Rachel Bade and CNN Senior Justice Correspondent, Evan Perez.

So Evan, let me start with you. Pompeo was on the phone call between President Trump and President Zelensky when the whole the aid comes up by Zelensky and Trump says, "I want a favor." And says, "Work with Rudy Giuliani and Attorney General Barr." Since then Pompeo has refused to comply with the investigation, no documents turned over, he's tried to block every State Department employee from testifying, but yet he says he's not concerned about the impeachment inquiry. Do those things square?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: It doesn't and here's why. There is a parade, a virtual parade of people from his department, from the State Department that is heading to Capitol Hill to provide these depositions. There is clearly a disconnect between the way Pompeo is trying to portray things and the way things are behind the scenes at the State Department.

We know that one of his close aids actually resigned in protest essentially because of how things were being handled. And so I think a big part of this story, Erin, is exactly what was going on behind the scenes under Pompeo as the Ukrainians were trying to figure out where the aid money was and the whole effort that Rudy Giuliani was running behind the scenes and Pompeo has a view of all of this.

And so I think this is why I think he's trying to put on a brave face, but there's a lot more to come from his department on this.

BURNETT: And Tim, not only did Pompeo, obviously, show his frustration there but he was asked about Rudy Giuliani's work in Ukraine.


So he's in his home state today, he gave a bunch of interviews perhaps because it's his home state, he doesn't usually do that many interviews. Maybe he thought that this might be a little friendlier than he seemed to have been. With KMUW radio in Kansas, he was asked, "Do you support the work Rudy Giuliani was doing in Ukraine?"

This is a very simple question, right? Pompeo starts off with, "Well, as America's Secretary of State, we've had a singular mission with respect for Ukraine," and he goes on about that. Then he's asked again, "So was Mr. Giuliani's efforts aligned, then, with the State Department?"

Again, simple answer, but that's not what we got, we got Pompeo saying, we've been working tirelessly on Ukraine, this is a results- based administration. Refusing to talk about Giuliani.

TIM NAFTALI, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Well, the Giuliani unofficial channel is a real problem for Secretary Pompeo. And here's the problem, he's either corrupt, that is Secretary Pompeo, or he's a bad manager. And Secretary Pompeo did superbly at West Point, he was an army officer, he was a captain.

BURNETT: He's a very well respected person.

NAFTALI: He also understands process. He was an executive officer in the U.S. Army. He oversaw supply management issues, so he cares about process. The Giuliani channel was something either he didn't know about in which case he's not running U.S. foreign policy or he knew about it and he bears the same responsibilities as Giuliani. It's a problem for him.

Either way, he's in trouble. Either he's a bad manager or as a fellow corrupt man.

BURNETT: So Greg, is it possible that Mike Pompeo did not know all about this? And I say that not to be coy, but I mean he's on that call at the very least with the President of the United States as the President of Ukraine talked to Rudy Giuliani. And you've got $391 million of aid held up for these investigations as we understand it at this point. It would seem to me that it's just obvious that Pompeo know about it.

GREG BROWER, FORMER FBI ASSISTANT DIRECTOR: Well, I think it is obvious. I guess anything is possible, but it does not seem likely both given his role as Secretary of State. The fact that he was on that call, as you mentioned, and the fact that he seems to be very close to the President and the President seems to rely upon Mike Pompeo for an awful lot.

And so the idea that the president would be pursuing this sort of shakedown effort without trying to get Mike Pompeo to help him with it or at least keep him in the loop it doesn't ring true to me.

BURNETT: So Rachel, I want ask you about another moment today in this series of interviews which secretary Pompeo gave. In one of them he was asked about something Bill Taylor said in his testimony, which is Bill Taylor was really worried about what was going on in Ukraine. He talked to John Bolton about it when John Bolton was in Ukraine and Bolton said, "Tell Pompeo directly. Write him a memo."

Taylor does it. He gives it to Pompeo. He understands Pompeo gets this cable. So Pompeo was asked about it today, what did Pompeo know and when did he know it. Let me play that exchange for you, Rachel.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What did you do with that cable?

POMPEO: Yes, I'm not going to talk about the inquiry this morning.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So did you relay his concerns to the President?

POMPEO: Look, I came here today to talk about workforce development. I came here today to talk about the great things that are going on here in Kansas.


BURNETT: Rachel, he was not ready for that sort of questioning in his home state. I mean that's clear and again I don't say it to be funny, but I mean that wasn't a strong performance.

RACHEL BADE, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. I mean, look, Kansas is a red state. There are even strong supporters of the President there. Perhaps thinking he'd get a little more friendly press there, but here's the problem, I mean the impeachment inquiry is a big, big problem for him in terms of politics.

Right now Republicans are very much behind the president even with the support for impeachment growing. But you have to look back to Nixon and Republicans were with Nixon back then and then the impeachment inquiry started unraveling things and Republicans they left. And so if something like this were to happen to trump and we are already seeing and hearing some Republicans express frustration with what they're hearing and seeing reported, there's a possibility that he will really be a casualty.

And this is a guy who was young and ambitious, he wants to run for Senate. He thinks he has a political future and so these are questions he doesn't want to answer. Now, Bill Taylor from my understanding, he took notes and there's clearly a cable.

And right now the State Department is blocking a lot of these documents from the impeachment investigators. But look, they're going to go to court at some point and they're going to try to get these. And Bill Taylor himself perhaps he gives them over to Congress.

So, I mean, it's a matter of time before we really see the details on this about when he learned the details and what he did or did not do to help his colleagues.

BURNETT: Well, and it's interesting, this is a man, Secretary of State Pompeo, you talked about his senatorial ambitions, certainly presidential ambitions it seems as well, maybe part of the reason he does spend time in his home state. Greg, I mean, he has as though made a bet on President Trump on issue after issue.


It's an echo including the phone call with the Ukrainian president. Here is the President and the Secretary.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The conversation was absolutely perfect, absolutely appropriate.

POMPEO: I found that to be wholly appropriate to try and get another country to stop being corrupt.

TRUMP: He said I wasn't pushed. I wasn't pushed, meaning pressured. He wasn't pressured at all.

POMPEO: The most important reaction is from President Zelensky himself who said, "No, I didn't feel pushed. I didn't feel pressured."

TRUMP: Nobody has been tougher on Russia than Donald Trump.

POMPEO: This administration has been tougher on Russia than any of its predecessor administrations.


BURNETT: And Greg, I didn't even put in Pompeo siding with Trump against the U.S. CIA on the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. The word echo is not accidental.

BROWER: Yes. It's just not credible to support the President to the extent that Mike Pompeo seems to be supporting him. Look, it's one thing to serve in this administration, there's a lot of talk about whether people who serve in the cabinet will be tarnished or not. That remains to be seen.

Some of my best friends serve in this administration, but it's a whole another thing to support everything the President does and says to the point of straining credibility. And I'm afraid for his sake that Mike Pompeo was seen by many as going too far at this point and that's not good for him long-term.

BURNETT: All right. All of you stay with me, please, because our conversation will continue. Next, the President calling members of his own party human scum and the White House today defending that, doubling down on that, the sentiment and the word choice. And just how many of Trump's crucial swing voters are having second thoughts as they learn more about the allegations against the President, any of them?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If it was out in the open and everything was discussed and he did something wrong, impeach the guy.




ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: New tonight, a game changer. Republican sources telling CNN's Jamie Gangel that the opening statement from Bill Taylor, that, of course, was the top U.S. diplomat to Ukraine is, quote, reverberating among House Republican members and that his testimony was so detailed and so specific that it is having an impact. Another GOP source admitting, quote, it points to quid pro quo.

Everyone is back with me.

And, Tim, you know, as we pointed out as Rachel was saying, look, this person's reputation is pristine, OK? This person gave a one-hour long detailed opening statement with quotes all over the place because of the detailed notes that he kept.


BURNETT: It defies reason and reality to say that he is making these things up or it's untrustworthy or, you know, whatever that Lindsey Graham is implying, right? How significant is it that Republicans now according to Jamie's reporting are responding to that saying, look, this is an issue? Reverberating was her word.

NAFTALI: Well, Bill Taylor is a non-partisan American patriot. It's very hard to argue that he was some kind of covert never Trumper. He accepted a position in the Trump administration to be a fill-in in the Ukraine. Before that he was our ambassador to Ukraine for George W. Bush.

It's very hard to argue he's some kind of Democratic plant. You can't, seriously, argue that.

So then you have to take his evidence on their merits, and what he is saying is that you had an informal channel right around the experts at the State Department that was seeking a quid pro quo on behalf of the president of the United States. That's very damning.

The fact that Republicans are beginning to murmur about it is because Donald Trump has made his defense hinge on whether or not it was a quid pro quo which is a very dangerous thing for him to do. In the Mueller instance, he talked about collusion and he knew he hadn't done it. In this instance, it's clear from the evidence we have now that it's highly likely, highly likely that there was a quid pro quo in which case, President Trump lied to Republicans.

Don't forget, Republicans have asked him and he lied about it.

BURNETT: And, Greg, that is the significance. I mean, you know, do you think this could force more Republicans to reconsider their support for the president when it comes to impeachment and are we looking at what Justin Amash described the other day, right, the lone Republican who came out in favor of impeachment and then had to leave the party and one or two Republicans, at most, supporting it in the House.

GREG BROWER, FORMER FBI ASSISTANT DIRECTOR, FORMER GOP STATE LAWMAKER: I think it will reverberate. Let me pause on Ambassador Taylor for a moment.


BROWER: This president who went out of his way to avoid military service has made a habit of criticizing veterans including Vietnam veterans like John McCain, like John Kerry, like Bob Mueller and now Ambassador Taylor. And, frankly, it should be offensive to all veterans. As a veteran, I'm appalled by it, but it is, I guess the upside of the president going too far once again is that it will have an effect on Republicans.

Look, there are many Republicans in the House who will support this president no matter what, to the very bitter end, but there are a lot of thoughtful Republicans in the House who have to be offended by this, veterans and others who are looking at this and saying this is not normal and at some point, it's going to be too much, and we will see -- mow one wants to be first, but it will start happening.

BURNETT: And so, Rachael, you know, then there's the Senate Majority Whip John Thune, right? And John Thune came out yesterday and said something really significant. And he knew it was significant, right, saying anything at all, you know, that isn't supporting Trump is hugely significant. He's the second-most powerful Republican in the Senate.

Quote: The picture coming out of it based on the reporting that we've seen I would say is not a good one, right? He's talking about Taylor. So then today he -- he tried to walk it back.


Here's John Thune.


REP. JOHN THUNE (R-SD): I went back yesterday and actually read what was said, and there is -- there's a lot of secondhand information, a lot of sort of hearsay -- not hearsay, but in the sense that it was passed on. It wasn't a direct conversation.


BURNETT: So -- so -- so look, Rachel. I'm curious, from your reporting covering Congress what do you think is happening there? Obviously, never mind the quotes and the detail, but the passing along is President Trump talks to Gordon Sondland who calls Bill Taylor and Bill Taylor takes notes and puts it in quotes, and John Thune is hiding behind Gordon Sondland between the president and Bill Taylor.

What do you think is happening here?

RACHAEL BADE, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, as if he didn't read it carefully the first time when he was critical of the president. I mean, as you mentioned there, when Republicans speak out against Trump, they don't do it willy-nilly, they're afraid of this guy. And they really -- they want to make sure if they're criticizing him that they're on solid ground.

So, him trying to walk it back, it's significantly. Look, I mean, somebody got to him clearly. The president from our reporting has been -- you know, lashing out, saying the Republicans need to do more to defend him. He had the conservative Freedom Caucus at the White House two days ago. The next day, they listened to his advice to quote, take the gloves off and they stormed the impeachment proceedings and held them up for five hours.

You have Lindsey Graham in the Senate introducing this resolution saying the House Democratic impeachment inquiry goes against the norms and it's too secretive and therefore unfair to the president.

And so, you know, Trump is really pushing people to fight for him right now, and for those that do speak out, like Mitt Romney, his allies go after him and they say they'r Never Trumpers. And so, Republicans are still popular with the base, they're afraid of that.

BURNETT: And to what Rachel says, you know, they go after them. Evan, they so, the president of the United States actually called them human scum. Human scum.

And now, not only did he call them human scum, but his White House press secretary went on television to say -- to defend it, to actually defend it. Here is Stephanie Grisham.


BRIAN KILMEADE, FOX NEWS HOST: The president yesterday called the Never Trumpers scum. Does he regret that?

STEPHANIE GRISHAM, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: No. No, he shouldn't. The people who are against him and who have been against him and working against him since the day they took office are just that. The fact that people continue to try to negate anything that he's doing and take away from the good work he's doing on behalf of the American people, they deserve strong language like that.


BURNETT: It's kind of incredible, Evan, to hear, just, you know, it's incredible.

EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: It really is sort of incredible language to hear, but that's what the president wants. He wants people out there and that's one of the things he's missing right now. You notice Rudy Giuliani has been absent from the airwaves and that's what the president right now is missing. He wants somebody who's out there using combative language, the kind that gets his blood flowing and there's not much of that is happening.

And so, what we're going to see in the next few day, Erin, is you're going to see a little bit of a retooling of the White House message machine. We know they're looking to bring on someone to communicate better. You heard Lindsey Graham talk about how to better message the president's point of view and I think that's what you're going to see in the next few days.

BURNETT: All right. Well, I guess their point of view is that if you don't -- if you're not with him, you're -- if you're against him, you're human scum.

PEREZ: Right.

BURNETT: Well, they're effectively communicating that.

Thank you all four very much.

And next, voters in a state Trump won by single digits are now weighing in on the testimony against the president.

Plus, Joe Biden reversing course, no longer swearing off super PAC money. It's going against a whole lot of Democrats in the field. And Biden's 2020 opponent Beto O'Rourke who has closed the door to big money responds.



BURNETT: Tonight, President Trump railing against House Democrats, calling the impeachment inquiry, quote, the greatest witch hunt in American history and a total scam.

Well, we have gone to the crucial swing state of North Carolina, a state Trump won by less than four points in 2016 to try to find out whether voters are standing by the president in the must-win swing states.

Martin Savidge is OUTFRONT from there.


MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's fair season. Whether you like your bacon on the run or on a stick, it's at the North Carolina state fair.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you. SAVIDGE: Here, you can satisfy your wildest deep-fried dreams. We've

come to measure voter appetite for impeachment.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it's a waste of the taxpayer's money.

SAVIDGE: Do you think the president did anything wrong?


SAVIDGE: You don't follow the impeachment thing?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, I don't know much about it at all.

SAVIDGE: The Midway uppers are virtual tilt a whirl of opinions. In this state that went for Trump by less than four points, Jim Uzzle is angry of Congress for even considering impeachment.

JIM UZZLE, NORTH CAROLINA VOTER: I don't think he's broken the law and I wish they would do right for America versus wasting their money, our money on a lost cause.

SAVIDGE: Most of the Trump supporters we talked to were unmoved by days of explosive testimony and revelations against the president.

Do you think it changes the minds of Trump supporters?

JEFF MASON, NORTH CAROLINA VOTER: I do not. The ones of us who support him will continue to support him. If you look at the economy, there's no way to design that weir doing pretty amazing.

SAVIDGE: Sheri Price hasn't changed her mind.


SHERI PRICE, NORTH CAROLINA VOTER: He don't need to be taken out. He's the only one that will tell the truth and he can't be bought.

SAVIDGER: Rich Blewitt reflects a new and growing criticism of the impeachment inquiry by Trump backers, a perceived lack of openness.

RICH BLEWITT, NORTH CAROLINA VOTER: If it was out in the open and everything was discussed and he did something wrong, impeach the guy. I just don't like the secrecy. It just sounds wrong the way they're going about it, that's all.

SAVIDGE: Dennis Englebright is an exception. He also voted for Trump, but he's starting to believe the president may have done something wrong.

DENNIS ENGLEBRIGHT, NORTH CAROLINA VOTER: At first, I didn't. I thought they was after him, but every time somebody talks more about, it all (INAUDIBLE)

SAVIDGE: Besides what they think of impeachment, we'd like to know how they're following developments and there, too, folks are divided.

Jeana Hatch didn't vote for Trump.

JEANA HATCH, NORTH CAROLINA VOTER: I follow it pretty closely.

SAVIDGE: You do?

HATCH: I do actually. I try to stay educated.

SAVIDGE: Joe Miller did vote for Trump.


Do you follow this?

JOE MILLER, NORTH CAROLINA VOTER: Not much. I try not to, actually.

SAVIDGE: How do you avoid it? It seems to be everywhere.

MILLER: I watch a lot of ESPN.


SAVIDGE: Another question that we put to voters was impeachment worth it given the fact that there's an election a year from now? That broke on party lines. Supporters of the president say no and those opposed to the president say yes, but they all agreed on one point and that is if the question should the president remain the president? That they all said should be decided by voters -- Erin.

BURNETT: And that, Marty, is a really important point for a lot of people to hear in Washington.

Next, Joe Biden is coming out swinging in a new interview. We're going to play something that he said next that's pretty interesting.

And Jeanne Moos on Trump trying to explain this.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're building a wall in Colorado.



BURNETT: Tonight, a major reversal by Joe Biden. The former vice president says he is now open to accepting donations from super PACs. The shift coming after Biden discovered he had far less cash on hand than four of his rivals.

Just to give you a sense of the scope, right in all of the way down with the 9 million. Look at Bernie Sanders, 33.7, Elizabeth Warren, 25.7. You get the picture.

So, it's a major move from Biden. It goes against much of his party. Eight of his rivals, eight, has sworn off big PAC money. Bernie Sanders campaign slamming Biden in a statement, saying, quote:

The former vice president has been unable to generate grassroots support and now his campaign is endorsing an effort to buy the primary. That's not how we defeat Trump.

OUTFRONT now, Democratic presidential candidate and former Texas congressman, Beto O'Rourke.

And, Congressman, thanks for being with me.

I want to make it clear. You said you're not taking donations from corporations or super PACs. Do you agree with the sentiment from Sanders that Biden is trying to, quote, buy the primary?


BETO O'ROURKE (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We see far too much influence from those who can buy access and increasingly outcomes in our legislation and in our elections. So, I agree. There is no room for political action committees, or super PACs.

There is no truth to the idea that corporations are people and money is speech, and they can spend unlimited amounts of money to involve themselves in change and undermine our democracy. I haven't taken PAC money for more than five years.

We're running a grassroots campaign. Everyone who has gone to and donated to us has fueled this effort to make sure that we can get out to voters. That's way that our democracy should work, and I'm going to stay with my commitment not to take PAC money or super PAC money in this race.

BURNETT: All right. Obviously, Joe Biden now no longer doing that. I mean, CBS just released a clip of an interview with Joe Biden where he was asked about the Trump administration. I wanted to play one clip.

This just came in, Congressman. So let me play it for you.


JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Think of all the really solid people that were left, that started off in that administration. They've all left. They've all left. All the talent is gone. They've left or great, Americans like Rudy Giuliani is still engaged. What's going on? People see this. They're thugs.


BURNETT: Do you agree with the vice president, his word, this administration full of thugs?

O'ROURKE: I think the place I hope that we agree on is that the president has broken the law of this country, has committed crimes in secret that he's tried to cover up, and then committed them out in the open for the entire world to see. And if we allow this to stand with impunity, then we will have set the precedent that some people are above the law in this country.

So I hope that our focus in common will become on insuring the president is impeached, that there is accountability and justice at the end of the day, that the members of the Senate, Republicans and Democrats alike are armed with the facts and do the right thing not for their party, not for their president, but for this country and for our future.

That's what I'm focused on right now. Donald Trump has broken the law, must be held accountable.

BURNETT: And, Congressman, obviously people can see where you are tonight. We have it up on the screen. You're in Des Moines, Iowa. And CNN, our Miguel Marquez went there just the other day. He spoke to voters about impeachment.

And, you know, what they had to say is perhaps surprising to some. I wanted to play just a couple of them for you.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To me, things seem kind of minor, I guess.

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Minor in that all politicians do this sort of stuff?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, I'm sure they all do.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It all becomes a hum.

MARQUEZ: Background noise.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It all becomes a drone, a background noise. And we've also come to expect it.


BURNETT: Does that give you pause? They expect this kind of behavior. They're not -- by the way, both of those are people who had voted for President Obama before they voted for Trump. So they're not -- they're not the core Trump base as some may define it.

Does that give you pause when you think about pursuing impeachment as opposed to doing this as the polls?

O'ROURKE: No, it doesn't. It just raises the urgency that we pursue impeachment, accountability and justice.

We've known for years now that the president has been working with foreign governments, has been trying to cover up his actions and obstruct justice in the process. And so perhaps those that your correspondent spoke to, having seen that we've done nothing over the last three years to hold him accountable might wonder whether he really has committed crimes or if there is anything wrong in his behavior. That's why it is so important to send the unambiguous signal through impeachment and in a trial in the Senate that this is not something we condone or accept in the United States of America.

And furthermore, we have to come to the conclusion that regardless of how this polls or how politically popular it is, the future and the fate of this country hangs in the balance. We've got to do the right thing while there is still time to do the right thing.

BURNETT: You rolled out plan today, Congressman, about the opioid epidemic. You wants to give states $100 billion to help states who to help people who are struggling with that horrific addiction. At a debate last week in Columbus, you surprised a lot of people when you said you supported decriminalizing possession of opioids for personal use.

Why do you think that will help this crisis?

O'ROURKE: When someone fears that if they come forward with an addiction or substance use disorder, that they will be arrested and incarcerated, then they're less likely to come forward and they're more likely to die. We've lost the lives of hundreds of thousands of our fellow Americans over the last decade. There are some simple steps that we can take to stop that.

Number one, removing the stigma and making sure that you will not become justice involved if you try to get the help you so desperately need. Number two, making sure that we fund the resources necessary for treatment and long-term recovery. And the number three, and that is important, we hold Purdue Pharma, Johnson & Johnson, the pharmaceutical corporations responsible for the devastation and death accountable for their actions.


If we fail to do that, then we can expect to see the same kind of effect and consequences in our communities.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Congressman O'Rourke. I appreciate your time.

O'ROURKE: Thank you.

BURNETT: And next, Jeanne on Trump boasting about building a wall nowhere near Mexico's border.


BURNETT: When the border wall is no longer on the border, is it a wall?

Jeanne Moos explains.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Trump always likes to say he is doing something no one else has done, but building a border wall? Where there's no border with Mexico?

TRUMP: And we're building a wall in Colorado. We're building a beautiful wall, a big one that really works.

MOOS: He got a big beautiful ovation in Pittsburgh, but to Colorado's Democratic governor, the idea is a dog.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Even first graders know that Colorado is in the middle of the country surrounded by other states.

MOOS: Great wall of Colorado, mocked one tweet, and New Mexico will pay for it. If you fall for a wall in Colorado --


MOOS: President Trump later tweeted that he'd said it kiddingly.

(on camera): But with politicians covering so much ground, no wonder they lose their geographical footing.

(voice-over): Misstating the number of states --

BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT: I've now been in 57 states.

MOOS: Or being in one state saying New Hampshire and saying --

BIDEN: What's not to like about Vermont in terms of beauty of it?

MOOS: Trust the press to take pleasure in geographical bloopers such as when president Trump made a solemn visit to Paradise, California.

TRUMP: We just left Pleasure.


TRUMP: Or Paradise.

MOOS: Citing the border wall in Colorado incited a flood of doctored maps. Critics made a point of using sharpies to make their point.

Senator Patrick Leahy shared some of the most popular ones. The southern border was adjusted in maps replacing the hurricane Dorian one the president so famously amended. If President Trump keeps rearranging things, he is going to need a bigger sharpie.


MOOS: To the walls of Colorado.

Jeanne Moos, CNN.


MOOS: New York.


BURNETT: Anderson starts now.