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tv   Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer  CNN  December 16, 2019 3:00pm-4:00pm PST

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all about protecting his hunt for dirt on the bidens. tonight, the president has nothing but gushing praise for his lawyer. i was wrong, after years of defending the fbi russia probe, the former director james comey ood mitts mistakes were wrong. why wasn't he wrong before the investigation? i'm wolf blitzer, you're in the "situation room." admits mistakes. we're following the partisan warfare as president trump is expected to be impeached by the house of representatives in less than 48 hours. tonight, both parties are already looking ahead to a senate trial. senate democrat chuck schumer says the senate needs to call
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relevant witnesses. mick mulvaney, former national security advisor john bolton and two others. the white house is dismissing schumer's request tonight with a familiar attack on democrats on what it calls "the impeachment sham." i will get reaction from chris murphy. analysts are also standing by. first to our senior international correspondent, alex. we're getting a piece of the dynamic moving from the house to the senate. >> what it looks like is still very much in the air when the ball is in mitch mcconnell's court. and chuck schumer is trying to get four senior trump officials on ukraine to testify. >> conducting an impeachment trial in the senate is enormously weighty and solemn responsibility. >> the tables are turning. while republicans for now
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control the senate trial, democrats today pushing their plan they hope will gain republican support. >> do they want a fair honest trial that examines all the facts or do they want a trial that doesn't let the facts come out. trials have witnesses! >> reporter: in a letter to majority leader mitch mcconnell, schumer called for subpoenas to be issued to four witnesses with direct knowledge of the ukraine affair. am mick mulvaney, rob player, mike duffy and john bolton who allegedly called what the president's envoys were doing in ukraine a "drug deal." >> each of them will have information to share about the charges made by the house, information no one has heard at this point. >> reporter: sources say mcconnell does not want witnesses. he's been working in lock-step with the white house counsel. >> everything i do is
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coordinating with the white house counsel. there will be no different between our position and the president's position. >> reporter: enraging democrats like schumer who told cnn there's a difference between discussion and working on the president's behalf. >> for him to talk to the president is one thing. for him to say i will do just what the president wants is totally out of line. >> reporter: schumer hopes to model it after the clintons in 1999. to get more control, schumer needs at least four republicans to join democrats to give them a majority. seven moderate or retiring republicans are being targeted including utah senator mitt romney, a vocal critic of the president, all of this after a full house impeachment vote expected wednesday. the judiciary issuing their final report overnight blasting the president for betraying the nation through abuse of power democrats claim includes multiple federal crimes.
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>> this is a crime in progress against the constitution and american democracy. >> now, we are waiting to see when the two senate leaders will meet to discuss the contours of that trial, senator mitch mcconnell saying he will have more on that tomorrow. meanwhile, the white house is responding to senator schumer's demands with defiance as president trump has been attacking and venting on twitter, even as he braces to become the third u.s. president to be impeached. the president is sharing his fury at democrats while gushing with praise for rudy guilliani. >> reporter: he certainly is, wolf. the official line at the white house is the president is unphased by the likelihood he will be impeached a couple of days from now. he is certainly not acting that way responding from this demand from democrats that new witnesses should be put before
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the senate and that that proves the president did not do anything wrong. >> reporter: with this impeachment vote the president is lashing out in all directions defending his personal attorney, rudy guilliani, who just wrapped up of all places, ukraine. >> he sees what's happening and hoax that happens talking about impeachment hoax and russian collusion delusion. >> the president has been on a social media rampage tweeting against his perceived enemies including nancy pelosi and a video of pelosi, he twittered, nancy's teeth were falling out of her mouth. his allies plays defense with the latest effort to dig up dirt on joe biden presented on the trump friendly ow network. >> i remember judging charging juries. >> reporter: he was part of the push to oust the former ambassador to ukraine, marie
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yovanovitch ap that search for biden dirt saying, i believe i needed yovanovitch out of the way. she was going to make the investigations difficult for everybody. and gop senator -- >> i am trying to give a pretty clear signal i have made up my mind. i'm not trying to pretend to be a fair juror here. >> reporter: graham is urging the white house to agree to the speediest trial possible. >> i told the president if somebody is ready to acquit you, get out of the way. you start calling the witnesses the president wants and they start calling mike pence and secretary of state pompeo. >> reporter: that's not what senate witnesses have in mind, including robert blair and michele and john bolton. >> nobody has given a reason why these shouldn't testify. if president trump is so certain
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he did nothing wrong, what is he afraid of? what is he hiding when he says mulvaney or bolton or the other two witnesses shouldn't testify? >> reporter: the president is also furious over the latest polls on impeachment including one from fox news that shows 50% would like to see him impeached and removed from office. the way he's attacked the impeachment process has raised serious questions. william webster, a republican, posted an op-ed in the "new york times" questioning mr. trump and william barr's attacks on the fbi agents. the aspersions cast upon them by the president and my long-time friend william barr are troubling in the extreme. calling the fbi scum, as the president did, is a slur against people who risk their lives to keep us safe. that was in reference to mr. trump's rallies last week. >> they destroyed the lives of people that are great people, still great people.
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their lives have been destroyed by scum, okay, by scum. as for guiliani, the president was asked what he learn from his personal attorney after the trip from ukraine. he responded, not too much. contrast that with what guiliani told reporters last week he found more than the president could imagine, a big inconsistency there. we're counting up all the tweets the president has posted over the last 48-72 hours, dozens of tweets all over the map. missing is some kind of treasure trove of information guiliani dug up in ukraine. it doesn't appear the president's personal attorney really has anything to show for that trip, wolf. >> thanks for that report. joining us now, one of the senators will take part in the impeachment trial, chris murphy. thanks for coming in. >> thanks. >> your leader, chuck schumer is prioritizing he wants robert
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blair, john bolton, michael duffy, mick mulvaney. would you be willing if republicans say they can testify, but they want to hear from hunter biden, would you be willing to make a deal like that? >> we won't turn the hearing into a circus the right wing media is dreaming up. our job under the constitution is hearing the impeachment charges given to us by the house of representatives an the impeachment charges surround a set of facts relative to withholding of aid to ukraine in order to get them to interfere in an american election. i don't know what you have an impeachment clause for if it's not protect the chief of staff to use his powers of office to rig an election. we should hear from witnesses around the facts of an impeachment. we should not turn the senate into a showcase for wild
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conspiracy -- >> even if it means you won't get john bolton or two others how have first hand information about what the president was thinking and doing as far as his negotiations with the ukrainian leadership to get so-called dirt on the bidens? >> i don't think there's republican support to turn the senate into this right wing conspiracy circus. i think senator schumer is right, there are a number of republicans who have an interest in getting to the truth and don't have enough information. maybe the white house has more e-mails. maybe mick mulvaney can testify what he directed bill taylor and volker to do. they should invite republicans to join us in making sure this is a fair trial and doesn't turn into a media circus. >> opposing the republicans, democrats say, they had their chance and could have fought harder to get them to testify in
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the house of representatives and decided to pass. >> we have a separate responsibility. we have a responsibility to run a fair trial where we put all of the facts in front of the senators who will make a decision on removal. i think it stands to reason the president has stopped people like mick mulvaney from testifying, withheld these e-mails because he knows mulvaney will testify he directed this scheme to get a foreign country to interfere in an election. he knows there are e-mails between people in the white house talking about this corruption attempt. i think there's a reason they're trying to stop these documents from going before the senate and i want to make sure we have all the information. >> do you think house democrats should have pushed harder to get these witnesses to testify? >> i think they had plenty of evidence to move forward with impeachment and ultimately i have to be responsible for decisions i make as a trier of fact in the senate. >> rudy guilliani says this in an interview he granted to new
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yorker magazine regarding the oust of marie yovanovitch, i believe i needed yovanovitch out of the way. she was going to make the investigations difficult for everybody. how difficult was that? >> it's a restatement of what we already knew. i'm glad he's making it clear on the record he was going after yovanovitch so he could more likely push the u.s. state department to investigations that would more politically benefit the president. for all of us who followed ukraine for years we knew why guiliani was going after yovanovitch. we knew yovanovitch would not let her embassy and state department turned into an appendage of the reelection campaign and he needed to get her out of there. unfortunately for guiliani, they installed bill taylor not any more enthusiastic about being
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the president's political arm. but i'm glad guiliani admitted what he was engaged in. >> two of your more moderate republican senators, mitt romney and susan collins refused to say they wanted witnesses to the trial. what does that say to you? >> there's a potential to get a number of votes and witnesses and documents before the senate. if i was a republican senator, i don't know why i wouldn't want to have all the evidence before me, before making this monumental decision. i think a lot of republicans know why the president isn't letting these documents and witnesses move forward, because they would likely be damning. they would not be exculpatory. this isn't about making a political point. we just want to make sure we have a fair trial. >> senator murphy, thanks for coming in. >> thanks, wolf. >> it will be a big big deal.
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tonight, house democrats are accusing president trump of committing multiple federal crimes including bribery, even though they were not explicitly referenced in the articles of impeachment. we're joined by democratic congressman, a member of both committees. let's walk through what the house of representatives are about to do taking a historic vote to impeach the president wednesday. walk us through what will happen. >> as you know, there are two articles of impeachment. one for abuse of power and the other, strowkz of congress. there will be a vote on these articles. obstruction of congress. i don't think the speaker is doing anything other than directing people to vote per their conscience and constituents and i think that's what people will do wednesday. >> your republican colleague from texas says you can vote against impeachment but still
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disagree with some of the president's behavior. how do you respond to that? >> i respectfully disagree with my colleague in the sense that this type of behavior is precisely why the framers of the constitution incorporated an impeachment provision within the constitution. the framers were deeply concerned about foreign powers getting involved in the domestic affairs of america and would have been extremely concerned about pressuring a foreign power to get involved in our elections. in this particular case, that's exactly what the evidence shows, that the president, over several months, exhibited a pattern of conduct in which he pressured the ukranians to basically investigate his political rivals, thereby compromising national security and the integrity of our elections. >> what does it say to you
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congressman that not a single republican in the house is expected to vote for either of these articles of impeachment. >> as you know, justin was a republican before he had a disagreement and i think he will vote in favor of the articles. everyone has to put the constitution above party and politics. that's extremely important. >> should justin oh mash, now an independent, serve as an impeachment case manager in the trial in the senate as some of your democratic colleagues are recommending? >> i don't want to speculate who the manager will be. i know nancy pelosi will assemble the facts in a way that brings credit to the house and the senate. >> in an interview in new yorker magazine, rudy guilliani, the president's personal attorney, made this admission about his
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attempt to push out the former ambassador to ukraine, marie yovanovitch. he says, i believe i needed yovanovitch out of the way. she was going to make the investigations difficult for everybody. how significant is that admission by guiliani? >> i think that's very significant and what the evidence showed during the hearings, rudy guiliani and the president basically pushed ambassador yovanovitch out of the way in order to install guiliani guiliani on ukraine policy along with the three amigos, gordon sondland, rick perry and volker in favor of donald trump's political ambitions. as i said before, that's a shadow foreign policy. that is not necessarily in the best interests of the country but maybe in the best interests of rudy guilliani's clients and
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donald trump's political agenda. that's not the way our foreign policy should ever be run. >> should guiliani be called as a witness? >> i don't know. we've never received the documents that were subpoena from guiliani. i'm speaking for myself, i personally believe we should always view documents from a witness before they are examined, in terms of their live testimony. i'd like to see those documents first. >> congressman krishnamoorthi, thank you forjoining us. >> thank you. coming up, why is guiliani apparently admitting he wanted the former ambassador ousted to freely dig up dirt on the bidens. after two crashes, why is boeing now halting production of the 737 max? worry free...boom boom!
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president trump is strongly defending rudy guilliani tonight as his personal lawyer stirs up more controversy in connection with the ukraine scandal. let's bring in our analysts to discuss. susan hennessey, you have a new book coming out next month entitled "unmaking of the presidency." looking forward to reading it. i'm sure there's a lot of useful
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information there in. let's talk about rudy guilliani, his efforts to oust former ambassador marie yovanovitch. he says in "the new yorker," i believe i needed yovanovitch out of the way. she was going to make the investigations difficult for everybody. what does that tell you? >> it's a significant admission even though i think it's something a lot of people suspected was the ideology. that ousting marie yovanovitch was tied to politically corrupt investigations. interesting he said hey needed to get her out of the way in order to get these versions. if this administration actually cared about corruption or rooting out corruption in ukraine, marie yovanovitch is something they would want out of ukraine, known for being a crusader against corruption. the fact guiliani identified he needed to get her out of the way is a pretty strong indication where he was not looking to root
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out corruption but engage in acts himself and why his testimony might be important to a full understanding of what happened here. >> it's worth it to read the full story by adam, my colleague in "the new yorker," unbelievable in its detail. you have to ask yourself, who is rudy guilliani? why is he there? what is he doing? the idea he's working as a criminal defense attorney is absurd. he is running american foreign policy. he is trying to get the american ambassador out of the way. think about that as a concept for a private citizen. and he succeeded. it is just an extraordinary thing. this is what democrats mean when they say the facts of the case are undisputed. even the president's lawyer is admitting the facts of the case. >> the president is strongly defending guiliani, re-tweeting his tweets. how do you think this will all
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play out, this admission of getting rid of the ambassador to ukraine? how do you think it will play out in the senate trial? >> we will find out when the trial happens but this kind of exposure admission cuts against what you see in the senate that he did nothing wrong and all a witch hunt. when you have that, as jeffrey said, hard to denite in public. we may be seeing stuff in public that cuts against the defense and the validity of it. >> michael is so adorable. he thinks the facts will actually matter at the trial. i want to give him a hug. it's really great you believe that. >> i didn't say that but i appreciate that, jeff. >> let's talk about potential witnesses. chuck schumer, the minority leader in the senate wants former law enforcement officials to testify.
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what's going to happen? >> potentially, all those witnesses could shed further light we didn't see already on the enormous amount of evidence that already came out on the house side of this investigation. i don't think it's likely we are going to see those witnesses. the witnesses will do everything they can to hold them back. what's significant to me is schumer is asking, for this reason, minority leader schumer knows if he doesn't lay down a marker now, niece are the witnesses we could call and we could complain about not being able to talk to if the senate trial drags on is a negotiating tactic to republicans essentially, if you start calling nelly, hunter biden and the fisa judge and you want to relitigate the entire mueller report we will ask to hear from these guys. >> one of the questions is whether or not there are any cracks among the republicans.
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it would only take four republicans about the fair process. we won't vote to convict but vote to get the 51 votes to insist on the witnesses chuck schumer has laid out here. that might be too hopeful for jeffrey's tastes but we did see something like that happen on the cavanaugh confirmation hearing but maybe with susan collins or mitt romney. james comey now acknowledging sloppiness in the fbi's russia investigation. how should the bureau fix the problems? and the safety of the boeing 737 max and the safety after two crashes.
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james comey's critics are seizing on a surprising admission by the former fbi director. he now concedes there was in his words, real sloppiness in the fbi bureau's efforts to surveil the campaign in 2016, this comes after the inspector general
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confirms circu confirms significant errors were made. >> 17 significant errors in the fisa process and you say it was handle in a thoughtful appropriate way. >> he's right. i was wrong. i was overconfident in the procedures the fbi and justice had built over 20 years. i thought they were robust enough. it's incredibly hard to get a fisa. i was overconfident in those. he's right. 17 things that either should have been in the applications and discussed or characterized differently. it is not acceptable. he is right and i was wrong. >> jim bakker is a former top lawyer in the fbi. do you agree with comey? >> i agree it was sloppy and agree sloppy witness any federal court is unacceptable. >> isn't it more than just sloppiness, 17 major mistakes made including distorting certain evidence the fbi had? >> to people like me and jim, i
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think, who spent our lives dealing directly with federal courts, sloppiness is completely unacceptable. that is not the way you operate in front of a federal court. i don't know what word you want to use, terrible, sis not the wy you should be operating when you file in front of a federal court. i was distressed about it. completely distressed. >> it makes the fbi look and the whole fisa system is basically a rubber stamp, give them misleading information and they say, go ahead and surveil and spy on an american citizen. that is not my experience. i used to be in charge of an office for fisa reports. that was not our approach at any time. >> our impression over the years is the accusation fisa is simply a rubber stamp. >> that is totally inaccurate in my experience. the fisa court is a national
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treasure and needs to be respected and treated like that. this type of activity is unacceptable and i can't make excuses. >> i understand. what kind of specific reforms does this process need to make sure the sloppiness or blunders and awful things that occurred as far as carter page is concerned don't happen again. >> it's essential the american people have confidence in this process. i can make suggestions. we have to be careful not to just overreact with respect to this right away. reforms need to be made. the inspector general needs to make reforms, director ray needs to make reforms. the process is extremely complicated and there are many many levels to it and makes it different from the normal criminal investigations you have assistant united states attorney and assistant fbi agent working on it directly.
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to have contact between justice attorneys and fbi field case agents is one way to mandate it. >> they have to learn the lessons learned to make sure it doesn't happen again. the president is speculating director comey, in president trump's words, could spend years in jail and the president retweeted people saying he is slyo absolutely corrupt and a dirty snake and a liar. what do you make of it? >> the president is wrong and that kind of language from the president should be unacceptable. especially on the heels of an, i gues guess, -- of an ig report that was legally authorized and no hoax. they found no evidence of a coup or sed dishtious experience or treason. the american people shouldn't
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sol rate this. >> i think everybody agrees, michael horowitz did a respectable job in that 400 page report. >> yes. up ahead, new news on the decision to halt production of the 737 max by boeing. orm hit, a reached out before he could even inspect the damage. that's how you do it right. usaa insurance is made just the way martin's family needs it - with hassle-free claims, he got paid before his neighbor even got started. because doing right by our members, that's what's right. usaa. what you're made of, we're made for. usaa
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breaking news tonight, boeing announcing it's suspending production of its troubled 737 max airplanes which
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have been grounded following two deadly crashes that killed more than 300 people. our aviation correspondent, rene marsh, working the story for us. this is a pretty drastic step by boeing. >> it was. they were forced into making this tough decision again boeing announcing they will temporarily halt the 737 max aircraft troubled since it was grounded in march after the two deadly plane crashes. it is quite drastic because boeing has been positive and almost bullish that the faa would clear this plane to fly by the end of the year, around this month. that simply hasn't happened. really, the fuel to this announcement today is boeing had a face-to-face with the faa and the faa made it clear they're working on their own timeline, not boeing's timeline and this plane would not get the green light to fly again in 2019 and
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would stretch into 2020. boeing found they're backed up against the wall. they had been continuing to build new planes even as this grounding was taking place. they say they have some 400 aircraft in storage. if this stretches into 2020, the question is, where do you store all these planes. they had no choice other than to say they will temporarily halt the plane's production. this has cost boeing billions and the american airlines hundreds of billions of dollars. >> much more news right after this. if your glasses aren't perfect, we'll fix them. so will we. no we won't. don't forget to use your vision benefits before they're gone. now in-network with vsp. visionworks. see the difference. before we talk about tax-s-audrey's expecting... new? -twins! ♪
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as president trump is on the brink of impeachment, his lawyer rudy giuliani still has been digging for political dirt on the bidens, claiming his recent trip to ukraine and hungary produced in his words big results, cnn is a taking a closer look at the trump ally giuliani met with overseas and how he figures into the president's rule breaking foreign policy. our chief correspondent is joining us. >> ambassador is not a household name in the u.s. he is certainly friends with some very important people. several of them at the heart of the impeachment hearings. the president of the united states, president trump has been a good friend of ambassador
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cornsteen for nearly 30 years, also rudy giuliani as you mentioned, a good friend from new york city, he had dinner with him in budapest just the week before last. as a diplomat, though, wolf, it's a different story, cornsteen is cutting a controversial figure he has been actively courting, hungary's authoritarian right wing leader much to the display of career diplomats. take a look. it was an independence day to remember. hosted be one of president trump's oldest friends, the u.s. ambassador to hungary, david cornsteen. like the president, cornsteen enjoys putting on a show. singer paul anka was flown in to serenade the guest of honor, hungary's far right authoritarian leader.
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>> it's my great honor to introduce my partner and my friend, the prime minister of hungary, our guest of honor, victor orban. >> four years ago, such a fawning display would have been unthinkable, unpresident trump, the u.s. hungarian relationship is blossoming once again. and that's in no small part due to the appointment of am ambassador david cornstein, an 81-year-old jewelry magnet from new york city with no relevant political experience beyond a decade's old friendship with the president. >> i became a diplomat. who the hell would have figured that. i became a diplomat. >> political appointees on both sides of the aisle are often inexperienced and often times ineffective. but cornstein has a direct line of communication with the
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president. he was instrumental in arranging a white house visit for orban, despite protests from both parties. >> pretty like me a little bit controversial but that's okay. that's okay. you've done a good job. >> one of orban's many controversial moves has been to forced u.s. accredited graduate school central european university out of hungary. cu president says while cornstein publicly vowed to help, privately he kor pitorban >> i don't knunderstand, to tel you the truth. somehow i think mr. cornstein began to think, this is a liberal institution, i'm closer to a conservative like orban than i am to the ideals of the institution. what's disturbing about that is
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that shouldn't be the issue. >> for the government here his apointment has been a gift, appearing to demand no real concessions. >> for the past two years since the coming of the new ambassador, we believe it's a new chapter we have opened. the previous chapter was unnecessary burdened with the kind of ideological debates and pressure that was coming from the democrats, and was basically derailing u.s. hungarian relationships. >> cornstein's office declined a cnn request for an interview citing the ambassador's busy schedule but when by chance we bumped into him at a budapest restaurant, he sat with us and let us ask a couple of questions on our cell phones. >> what do you say to people who say that you're too friendly with the prime minister orban, what's your response to that? >> my response is the same as if you asked me about my relationship with my wife.
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we're married 50 years. and we have a good relationship, but we have our days where they're not so good, and we disagree upon certain things. the same thing that's true with the prime minister. >> but that's a close relationship, then. >> it's a good relationship where we have established the trust with each other, and where i can tell him where i think he's making a mistake with what he's doing in a respectful manner. >> ambassador cornstein soon asked us to stop recording but off camera we asked him about his recent dinner here with rudy giuliani. he would only say that the men are close personal friends and that he hadn't even asked giuliani about the purpose of his visit here. throughout the conversation, though, cornstein seemed unfazed by criticism that has come his way. he told us simply, i report to one man only and that is the president of the united states
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and so far nobody has told me they don't like the results of what i'm doing. privately, though, some fear that the ambassador's actions undermine american interests here. and that trump's disregard for diplomatic norms could deal a blow that will last much longer than cornstein's tenure and have repercussions far beyond hungary. >> clarissa ward, thanks so much for that report. i'm wolf blitzer in "the situation room," erin burnett "outfro "outfront" starts next. >> mitch mcconnell says no. but his words tonight coming back to haunt him. plus, it's all for love, trump's new rationale for why rudy giuliani does what he is doing. this as giuliani tonight makes a jaw dropping admission, and voters give a democratic lawmaker an earful on impeachment, why she's willing to lose


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