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tv   CNN Tonight With Don Lemon  CNN  October 22, 2019 7:00pm-8:00pm PDT

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putin apparently convinced our parent to adopt a hostile view on ukraine. today putin and turkey's erdogan make a deal to take over vast swaths of kurdish territory. be on the lookout. why is this president always benefiting putin? thank you for watching us. "cnn tonight" with d. lemon starts right now. >> what did the house speaker say, all roads what? >> lead to putin. >> what do you think? that's the answer, right there. >> i think you have some explicit and implicit reasons for it. >> did you read the entire letter today? >> i did. what letter? you mean the testimony? >> the opening statement. >> oh, yeah. yeah. >> i hope everyone reads it because there's really, again, for me, this is like the transcript, me speaking, don lemon, it's like the transcript, there's no two ways about it. what is described here is explicit of what the president wanted and what mr. taylor
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experienced. he wrote it down. implicitly, he wrote down everything, everything. took copious notes. and it all came out today. it's a pretty explosive letter. >> now, the republicans will say can't trust this guy, i think it's a weak argument. he took all these notes, why? because he was nervous that he was part of something wrong and he didn't like it. >> maybe he's a professional. >> this level of meticulousness, i think mr. taylor knew this day was going to come some day, that he would be held to account for what he was a part of. the argument is, what should be the consequence. >> well, i'll leave that up for congress and the american people to decide. i just think everyone should read his opening statement and then you can decide for yourself. i don't think there's a lot of deciding that you have to do. it's there. i'm going to get to it because i got a lot to get to. >> you do, it's a big night.
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make the most of it. >> i hope everyone reads this letter. i'm going to read a lot of it to help you along. this is "cnn tonight." i'm don lemon. see you, chris. bombshell developments in the impeachment inquiry tonight. this is the whole ball game, okay? stay with me here. the framework that puts everything we learned before into perspective. for anyone who maybe wasn't 100% sure, what the top diplomat in ukraine told congress today really says it always. the president of the united states masterminded a conspiracy to hold congressionally designated aid to ukraine unless he got personal political benefit to himself. this is the explosive opening statement from william taylor, and this is a quote. he said, by mid-july it was becoming clear to me that the meeting president zelensky
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wanted was conditioned on the investigations of burisma and the alleged ukrainian interference in the 2016 elections. it was also clear that this condition was driven by a regular policy and a regular policy channel i had come to understand was guided by mr. giuliani. so just a week or two before the president's infamous ukraine call, the top american diplomat in ukraine knew that the white house meeting was not going to happen unless there was an investigation of both the energy company that had hunter biden on its board and conspiracy theories that alleged ukraine was behind 2016 election interference, not russia. mid-july. just before the july 25th phone call between president trump and president zelensky. here it is. it says, when president trump said i would like you to do us a favor though because our country
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has been through a lot and ukraine knows a lot about it, i would like you to find out what happened with the whole situation with ukraine. they say, note that word, crowdstrike, i would like to have the attorney general call you or your people and i would like you to get to the bottom of it. okay? part o conspiracy theory. and later in that call, this. there's a lot of talk about biden's son, that biden stopped the prosecution and a lot of people want to find out about that. so whatever you can do with the attorney general would be great. biden went out bragging that i stopped the prosecution so if you can look into it. it sounds horrible to me. william taylor testified today about deep concerns about the aid package, concerns that we already knew about because of
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these text messages that came to light earlier in the investigation. you know the ones, where taylor said, are we now saying that security assistance and white house meeting are conditioned on investigations? and sondland said, call me. hmm. well, today we got the story of what happened next. when taylor called sondland about his fear that the white house was holding up aid to ukraine in exchange for politically motivated investigations of trump's opponents, okay? this is a quote. 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 and alleged ukrainian interference in the 2016 u.s. election. ambassador sondland also told me that he now recognizes that he had made a mistake by earlier telling the ukrainian official to whom he spoke at a white
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house meeting with president zelensky was dependent on a public announcement of investigations. in fact, ambassador sondland said, everything was dependent on such an announcement, including security assistance. he said that president trump wanted president zelensky in a public box by making a public statement about ordering such investigations. that couldn't be more clear. i mean, it is pretty crystal, don't you think? and let's be clear about this. the quid was military aid and the white house meeting. the pro quo, investigations. and it was the president who orchestrated the entire thing. more testimony. this is bill taylor describing how he learned the aid the
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ukrainians were waiting for wasn't coming and who was holding it up. so listen to of this hthis. he said, toward the end of an otherwise normal meeting, the voice on the call, the person was offscreen, said she was from omb and her boss had instructed her not to approve any additional spending on security assistance for ukraine until further notice. i and others sat in astonishment. the ukrainians were fighting the russians and counted not only the training and weapons but also the assurance of u.s. support. all that omb staff person said was that the directive had come from the president to the chief of staff to omb. the directive had come from the president to the chief of staff. that's mick mulvaney, who comes up again in bill taylor's
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testimony, by name this time. he recounts a conversation with former russia adviser fiona hill and national security council official alexander vennman. dr. hill and mr. vennman tried to assure, reassure me that they were not aware of any official change in u.s. policy to ukraine, omb's announcement notwithstanding. they did confirm that the hold on security assistance for ukraine came from chief of staff mick mulvaney and that the chief of staff maintained a skeptical view of ukraine. let's remember, it was mick mulvaney who in a disastrous press conference last week admitted the quid pro quo. later claiming that he didn't say what he said. even though it was right there on tape. >> did he also mention to me in the past that the corruption related to the dnc server,
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absolutely, no question about that. but that's it. that's why we held up the money. >> to be clear, what you described is a quid pro quo, it is funding will not flow unless the investigation into the democratic server happened as well. >> we do that all the time with foreign policy. i have news for everybody. get over it. there's going to be political influence in foreign policy. >> like i said, this is the whole ball game. bill taylor's testimony puts everything in context. it lays out the quid, the pro, and the quo. and quid pro quo is not something magic phrase that the president needs to be caught on audiotape saying in order for that to be what happened, because even if he were, he would still deny it. but no one reading this testimony can deny its impact. and they try.
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but you can't. please read it for yourself. it's about ten pages long or so. please read it. he may want to deny it. if you're politically motivated, you may want to deny it but you can't really can't deny it. the president's allies are telling himothe fact that he will almost surely be impeached by the house of representatives. what does this president do when he is feeling threatened, when he is feeling all poor, woe is me, the world is against me? he tries to distract and divide us. and he's doing it again now. regardless of how many times that we have seen it, there's no excuse for the president of the united states tweeting, and i'm quoth here, all republicans must remember what we are witnessing here -- a lynching.
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a lynching? comparing impeachment, which is an investigation and a trial by congress provided for in our constituti constitution, to the brutal murders of almost 5,000 americans? three-quarters of them black, that's according to the naacp, by the way. now, others have used that word in the same way. but they were wrong. just like this president is wrong. thousands of african-americans. they didn't call them african-americans back then. you know what they called them, right? thousands of people who looked like me were murdered, simply for who they were.
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this president uses that word as if it all means something that he thinks is unfair to him. that's not what lynching means. let me tell you what it means. it means being -- if you can even describe how horrific it is, it means being ripped from your home and family, taken away by a mob, tortured, hanged from a tree, left there for everybody to see. a brazen public murder meant to send a message that they can do anything they want, anything they wanted to black folks, and no one would stop them. that's what lynching is. that's what billie holliday sang
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about in 1939, when linking is still happening in this country. ♪ ♪ southern trees bear strange fruit ♪ ♪ blood on the leaves and blood at the root ♪ ♪ black bodies swingin' in the southern breeze ♪ ♪ strange fruit hanging from the
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popular trees ♪ >> that is what lynching means. and nobody, nobody, especially this man in the white house, should be playing politics with th that. bombshell news tonight. frank bruni is here, laura coates, harry litman, they'll break down all what of this means, that's next. must be hot out there, huh? not especially. -[ slurping continues ] -what you drinking? gasoline. right, but i mean, what's in the cup? gasoline.
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the breaking news and bombshell testimony, the top u.s. diplomat in ukraine, bill taylor, says he was told president trump wanted military aid to the country be withheld until investigations were
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launched that would improve president trump's reelection chances. this is bombshell testimony, explosive testimony from this top diplomat. frank, i'll start with you. i'll read more from bill taylor's opening statement. ambassador sondland tried to explain to me that president trump is a businessman. when a businessman is about to sign a check to someone who owes him something, he said, the businessman asks that person to put up before signing the check. pay up, excuse me, before signing the check. ambassador volker used the same terms several days later. pay up before signing the check? that is the definition of -- >> a quid pro quo, absolutely. it's amazing testimony. what you just read, he names who he's talking to. he says what they said. the specificity of this testimony is extraordinary. the sweep of this testimony is extraordinary. it all blows you away. and also, something we haven't noted enough, the tone of it is
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extraordinary. he's already being smeared by the white house as some radical bureaucrat. he goes through his biography, he's a west point grad, he's been a civil servant for 50 years. he wasn't sure he wanted to go back to ukraine. one of his mentors, a republican, said, no, if you can serve your country, you should go. >> if your country asks you to serve. >> this is an earnest, earnest man, like some of the generals around trump. he isn't trying to stage a coup as this ridiculous statement by the white house press secretary is alleging. this is somebody watching something happen by his country's leader that he can't abide. that pain and earnestness comes through in every sentence of his testimony which, as you said, i wish everyone in america would read. >> i read it twice because i wanted to get, as they say, the full effect. it is the full force of this. it is unbelievable. i know you guys have read it. harry, to you next, and then
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laura. remember those text messages, harry, between trump's million dollar donor, ambassador sondland, and taylor? here is what taylor writes. are we now saying security assistance and white house meeting are conditioned on investigations? sondland says, call me. during that phone call, ambassador sondland told me that president trump had told him that he wanted a public announcement. there it is, right? no? >> yes. first of all, a subtext here. sondland, volker, maybe others, are now in hot water. and it's going to be a favorable dynamic for congress because they're going to have to try to exculpate themselves. but it's as you say, if you believe taylor, and why wouldn't you, as frank says, an honest,
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earnest guy with no motive to lie, it's game over. as a prosecutor the question is do you put him up first or do you put him up last. it's overwhelming testimony. here's one piece you haven't read. trump said no quid pro quo but he did insist that zelensky go to a microphone and say he is opening investigations of biden and 2016 election interference and zelensky should want to do this himself. you don't need to know latin to know that's a quid pro quo and exactly what they were talking about. the facts of the matter will now be 100% clear and it will fall to republicans to somehow make some defense and saying it's not no quid pro quo, a, it's nonsense, but b, i don't see any purchase there. >> all right. let's bring in laura. we need you to put your stamp on this, laura, because we've all seen the call transcript, the text messages, we heard from giuliani, we heard from the
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president, from mulvaney. did taylor's testimony put all those pieces together india very damning story for the president? >> it's an extraordinarily long receipt, don lemon, a receipt that lists names, that gives dates, that talks about a memorandum contemporaneously written to memorialize what was heard. it talks about his skepticism, perhaps these two different channels, the former formal cham accustomed to versus the back channel from giuliani and the like, he goes through and talks about the burisma and how everything is conditioned on it and that he wants to have suddenly the perfect sound bite and put the president of ukraine in a box to be able to used time and time again in a subsequent
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campaign. he talks about how, frankly, he undermines president zelensky's statement he made a few weeks ago in new york city where he said i didn't feel that i was compromised in some way or manipulated by the president. he outlines in his actually letter that says zelensky had no interest in being a pawn in a political game like this. he was well aware of the conditioning. this is extraordinarily and objectively damning. the only question now is whether or not it is subjectively impeachable to them. we're talking about whether or not there was a conditioning of military aid. and i want to repeat to everyone, don, we're talking about not a slush fund or a private checking account of the president of the united states or even citizen donald trump. these are taxpayer dollars. each of us has now contributed. we provided money for the president to be able to condition military aid. and i love the fact that this particular person, mr. taylor, pointed out the very thing that
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gets lost in all of this. while this game is being played, thousands of people's lives were at risk and they were dying while this game was going on. we have a lot more on this bombshell testimony. the top u.s. diplomat in ukraine giving details on what ukraine's president was told to say to president trump and how he felt about possibly being used as a pawn in trump's reelection campaign. of course i have- ever since i started renting from national. because national lets me lose the wait at the counter... ...and choose any car in the aisle. and i don't wait when i return, thanks to drop & go. at national, i can lose the wait...and keep it off. looking good, patrick. i know. (vo) go national. go like a pro. nyquil severe gives you powerful relief
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we're back now with frank, laura, and harry. frank, we're getting a sense of what was going on in the
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background leading up to that now-infamous trump/zelensky call. here he is describing the conversation he had a few days before the call, okay? he said, later on july 20 i had a phone conversation with ambassador sondland while he was on a train from paris to london. ambassador sondland told me he had recommended to president zenls can zelensky that he would use the phrase i will leave no stone unturned. also on july 20 i had a phone conversation with mr. dannyliuk during which he conveyed to me that president zelensky did not want to be used as a pawn in a u.s. reelection campaign. the next day i texted both ambassadors volker and sondland about president zelensky's concern. this illustrates the degree to which they were feeding zelensky the language to use with trump to try to butter him up.
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but he didn't want to do it. >> that's one of the fascinating things about this, he knows exactly what's going on and he doesn't want to be a pawn. we have the transcript of the july 25th phone call and the transcript is so damning. but this is an ongoing, sustained, intricate operation to get the ukrainian president to do what president trump wants. this doesn't just happen in one phone call. there are many people deployed to do this. it goes on over weeks and months. one of the thin one of the things that makes this testimony so credible, he says, at this point i still wasn't sure, but at this point i could not live with it, he threatens to resign. >> there was an official channel and a back channel. >> meaning the giuliani channel, the channel of craziness. >> okay, laura, can we talk about all the people being pulled into this? let's go back to the testimony. ambassador bolton recommended
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that i send a first person cable to secretary pompeo directly, relaying my concerns. i wrote and transmitted such a cable on august 29, describing the folly i saw in withholding multiaid to military aid to ukraine a time when russia was still active in the east and when russia was watching closely to gauge the level of american support. it certainly appears like pompeo was very much in the know about this quid pro quo. >> mm-hmm. we also must know at this point why it is he had to be subpoenaed, because he wasn't offered up by the state department to provide all this information at this point in time. we now can see why. you hear the names pompeo, sondlanden, colonsond sondla sondland, volker.
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a couple of those people have already testified here, don. so if they are listening to or reading this particular letter of 15 plus pages, guess what, they're wondering if they gave exactly the same story in the detailed sense, with the gravitas and credibility that mr. taylor has now expressed, i bet they're biting their nails about whether they'll have to be called back, number one. number two, it's about who has not yet testified, which leads me to believe that that original timeline that the house had for before thanksgiving, we can wrap this up, we have the obvious, well, now you want to hear from people like bolton or pompeo who will be much harder to get into the chair to talk about these issues. it adds a little delay but perhaps a necessary one. all of this is with the american people saying, what more would you need to have this evidence in play? remember, impeachment, in terms of the process, is the first part, the indictment-esque aspect of it.
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the other part is getting it to the senate for a trial. so part of it is about building a case even when it's obvious that the person is holding the bag in their hands. >> wow. do they expect people to say, hey, this is a quid pro quo? no one is ever going to say that. >> this is a meeting of the minds here, don. >> not even the most foolish person. harry, just to clear things up, you don't need to explicitly use the phrase "quid pro quo" in order for there to be one. >> of course not. he doesn't need to use it no fo in order for there to be an impeachable offense. he doesn't need to use it in order for there to be a crime. he hears from taylor and he sends this sanitized cya member, oh, the president wants to say
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there's no quid pro quo, which is preceded by a phone call between him and trump. they somehow think they can do all these things in plain sight and just sprinkle magic dust and say no quid pro quo and, you know, obviously it just won't work at all. >> thank you all, i appreciate it. gasps, groans in today's capitol hill testimony. that's next. it's the kind of big where you'll never have to ask, "should i scooch up?" it's big that looks at a sunroof and wonders why it can't just be most of the roof. it's big that's better because we built it that way. the spacious, 121 cubic feet of cargo space ford expedition.
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the top u.s. diplomat in ukraine demolishing the president's claims of no quid pro quo, testifying. that's exactly what this president wanted. bill taylor laid out how president trump made a promised white house meeting and military aid contingent on a promise from ukraine's president to launch investigations that might help his reelection effort.
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joining me is congressman patrick maloney who heard taylor's closed door testimony today. congressman, thank you for joining us. >> good to be with you. >> sources are selling cnn there were audible gasps during taylor's opening statement. i would like your take on what it was like, and on what you heard as well. >> right. well, i know you know i can't go to into specifics, but sure, my takeaway and emotional reaction is consistent with that. it was gripping testimony. he's a key witness. guys like bill taylor who spent 50 years serving as an infantry officer in vietnam, serving as a foreign service officer in some really hardship posts, guys like that don't pull their punches. and he came and told the truth. it's going to be a big part of getting that truth to the american public. >> taylor directly contradicted gordon sondland's testimony.
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sondland said last week, i recall no discussions with any state department or white house official with former president biden or his son. but taylor described sondland relaying trump's insistence that president zelensky go to the microphone and say he is opening investigations of biden and 2016 election interference and that president zelensky should want to do this himself. given that discrepancy, will you subpoena gordon sondland to clarify his testimony? >> yeah, that's above my pay grade, but listen, i think anybody who comes before congress and swears an oath should tell the truth and if they don't, they should be held accountable. if they have some concerns about the veracity of their testimony, maybe they should some back in and clear it up, because the evidence we are going to put together is going to round out the real facts about what this president did, who helped him, why they did it. and it's because of guys like bill taylor who came in and told
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the truth. >> here is taylor talking about a july 19th phone call where he was briefed on an earlier meeting between ukrainian and white house officials. specifically they told me that ambassador sondland had connected investigations with an oval office meeting with president zelensky which so irritate ambassador bolton that he interrupted the meeting, telling dr. hill and mr. vindman that they should have nothing to do with domestic politics. dr. hill said ambassador bolton referred to this as a drug deal after the july 10 meeting. does your committee need to hear from john bolton on this? >> you know, ambassador bolton obviously has important information. and i think it's important that we hear from everything who has important facts and evidence so the american public can get the truth. can i make one point? >> sure. >> the guys with a lot of the evidence right now are sitting down at the state department, refusing to produce documents.
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ambassador taylor and others provided those documents to the state department in response to a subpoena. their documents are supposed to go to their employer who is supposed to produce them. instead the state department and others are stonewalling those requests. why are they afraid of the facts? we should get all the facts. that's a good place to start. >> congressman, this morning representative mark meadows came out and said no quid pro quo. but by this evening he is telling cnn, we have yet to find anybody that conditioned this stuff. are they moving the goal posts here? >> yeah, that comment isn't wearing very well, let me put it that way. i think what these guys on the republican side told themselves is they could eregulact this ph standard that if there is no explicit quid pro quo, then there is nothing to see here. it is wrong, illegal, to seek a
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thing of value to help you in an american election. let's play in the ballpark for a minute, let's play the "there has to be a quid pro quo" game. look at the evidence being accumulated that there was absolutely an intention by the president to condition military aid and a white house meeting to getting an investigation into the bidens and the dnc. it's not necessary, it's not the only impeachable offense floating around out there, but it sure looks like there was just that at work here. and it is -- it is -- it is depressing to believe that any american president would trade away the strategic interests of an ally like ukraine, would put his own shabby political interests ahead of our country's national security. that's what the evidence is showing. when you trade one thing for another, that's called a quid pro quo. >> congressman, appreciate your
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time. thanks to much. >> my pleasure. putin and erdogan making a deal today over syria. now they're calling the shots on nato's southern border. did president trump play right into their hands? the former director of national intelligence, james clapper, will weigh in on that and today's bombshell testimony, next. i am royalty of racing, i am alfa romeo. asbut when your team is always dealing with device setups, app updates, and support calls... you can never seem to get anywhere. that's why dell technologies created unified workspace, powered by vmware. ♪ a revolutionary solution that lets you deploy, manage, support and secure all your devices from the cloud. so you can stop going in circles, and start moving forward.
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my hands are everything to me. but i was diagnosed with dupuytren's contracture. and it got to the point where things i took for granted got tougher to do. thought surgery was my only option. turns out i was wrong. so when a hand specialist told me about nonsurgical treatments, it was a total game changer. like you, my hands have a lot more to do. learn more at today. top u.s. diplomat in ukraine bill tarp testimony today could be one of the most important moments in the impeachment inquiry. testified he was hold trump would with hold aid until he investigated the bideens. with me now. james clapper. taylor testified he went to the
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front lines of ukraine battle are russia. knowing u.s. aid was being with held. ambassador volker and i could see the russian led forces on the other side of the damaged bridge. other 13,000 ukrainians had been kild in the war. one or two a week. more ukrainians would die without the u.s. assistance. so lives were on the line. the president was willing to over look that for political investigation that would personally benefit him? >> it was incredible. when i read that passage, i found it heart rending. and good on the ambassador. or charge i guess technically here. for going to the front lines and the line of demarcation that exists with the region. in eastern ukraine. and when you read that, it's just dreadful to think that the
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aid that is required for that ukrainian people to defend themselves against the russians being held up for purely political individual personal political agenda here in the united states. it just really egregious. >> "washington post" reporting that putin and hungry prime minister helped sour trump on ukraine. take a look. this is a time line. may 3 trump and russian president putin speak on the phone. trump wants his opinion on ukrainian president zelensky. may 13 he meets with hundred garn prime minister. he solidified the pessimistic view of ukraine. "new york times" reports trump called the ukrainian terrible people in a meeting with his top adviser. june 28. trump again meets with putin
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this time at the g 20 in japan. july 25, trump's infamous call with president zelensky. where he pressures ukraine to investigate the bideens and july 31, trump speaks to putin again. the post makes clear that meert putin or said anything about the bideens or ukraines role in 2016. but does it look like they were running an influence campaign on president trump? that's the question. >> of course. this is especially plays into putin's hands. so of all people that are our president could consult with about another country and asks putin. and again this is all part of the, you know, strange relationship between our president and putin. >> let me play this. you bring up a good point. this is house speaker nancy pelosi calling trumps calling
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out the relationship with putin. >> the fact we would be here in an inquiry that relates to the president. asking a foreign government to help the president in his reelection. and under mines the national security. we were sending that military assistance and because of ukraine needing that. russia. all roads seemed to lead to putin with the president. >> is she right? >> we, yes, she is. i never have understood this strange deference to putin. that our president displays. and obviously has influence on him. and all the people to get asked, particularly in his own country and state department. there are all kind of experts and expertise on anywhere. especially ukraine.
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what does he do -- he goes. he was looking for a narrative he wanted to hear in both cases. i'll talk to autocrats to get the more appealing narrative. and that's what was going on. >> today we learned about a deal between putin and turkish president. they agreed to allow russian troops to patrol the border between syria and turkey. the president reacted on twitter saying good news seems to be happening with respect to turkey, syria and the middle east. is there actually anything in this new agreement or situation that is good news for america? >> well, this is orr wellen. this crisis is good news. up is down black is white. it's bad news. it's good news for everybody except the united states and the kurds. and everybody else is a winner. putin has got to be just kicking his heels here.
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at his good fortune. and our president playing right into his hands. gloating over taking over our bases and of course chipping away at the southern flank of nato. where putin is. which always is appealing to him. it's just an ingratiating himself with turkeys president. this is bad. >> ten hours of bomb shell testimony on capitol hill. just accept the fact that he is going to be impeached. stay with us. you ever wish you weren't a motaur? sure. sometimes i wish i had legs like you. yeah, like a regular person. no. still half bike/half man, just the opposite. oh, so the legs on the bottom and motorcycle on the top?
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this is "cnn tonight" i'm don lemon. there is a lot going on tonight and we're going to dig deep into four big stories in the hour ahead. explosive testimony from the top u.s. diplomat in ukraine. as the president on the ropes in the impeachment inquiry. what bill taylor says about the campaign to pressure ukraine into investigating the bideens and how it plays into the president's problems. it's no surprise the president is doing what he always does. trying to distract and divide. this time disgracefully comparing the impeachment process to lynching. bomb shell testimony gives democrats a lot


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