tv Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer CNN October 8, 2019 3:00pm-4:00pm PDT
obstruction and hitting back with a subpoena. four hour gap. what did ambassador gordon sondland do in a grab in his texts. cnn lirn nrks nrknn learned he president. crazy and frightening. that's how a white house official described the phone call with ukraine's president as he pushed for an investigation for joe biden. we have details about the urgent attempts at damage control. we want to welcome our viewers in the united states and around the world. you're in "the situation room." we're following breaking news on the white house issuing a new declaration of defiance against impeachment investigators. the president's lawyers sent a letter to nancy pelosi. it spells out the administration's refusal to
participate in the democrat's inquiry arguing its unconstitutional. the letter dares but hold pelosi to hold a formal vote to open an impeachment probe. this comes only hours after new stone walling by the white house. it blocked a key witness in the ukraine scandal from testifying on capitol hill today. tonight, democrats are firing back with a subpoena for gordon sondland. i'll be getting reaction from democratic congressman. he's on the judiciary and foreign affairs committee and our correspondents and analysts are standing by. let's go to cnn chief white house correspondent. the president is ramping up his constitutional clash with house democrats. >> that's right. the white house is starting a constitutional fight with house democrats over the impeachment inquiry. the president's legal team has fired off a letter to speaker nancy pelosi refusing to cooperate with the investigation. the president is stoking these
tensions declaring he won't cooperate with the kangaroo court. cnn has confirmed the whistle-blower wrote a memo describing a white house official who listened on conversations with the ukraine president and characterizes that conversation as crazy and frightening. the official was quote left shaken by what mr. trump was saying during the call. >> it's a fraud. >> reporter: escalating stand off with house democrats, president trump is refusing to cooperate with the impeachment inquiry. in a letter to nancy pelosi, the white house accuses democrats of trying to play politics stating your unprecedented actions have left the president with no choice. in order to fulfill his duties to the american people, the executive branch and all future occupants, president trump and his administration cannot participate in your partisan and unconstitutional inquiry under these circumstances. a key signal the white house is ready for combat the administration blocked the u.s.
ambassador to the european union for te from tell ming what he knows. he was mum on the subject. >> thank you. >> reporter: house democrats said white house stone walling won't make the inquiry go away. >> the failure to produce this witness, the failure to produce these documents, we consider yet additional strong evidence of obstruction of the constitutional functions of congress. a co-equal branch of government. >> reporter: president trump tweets sondland won't be testifying. i would love to send him to testify but unfortunately he would be testifying before a totally compromised kangaroo court and echo of gop talking points. >> what we see in this impeachment is a kangaroo court and chairman schiff is acting like a malicious captain
kangaroo. >> reporter: a source familiar said the decision to silence sondland is part of an aggressive impeachment strategy. the defiant posture comes as the president continues to insist his call was perfect. >> the people understand it's a scam. they are trying to win an election in 2020 by using impeachment. if you look at that call, it's a perfect call. >> reporter: democrats are zeroing in on an exchange of texts between sondland and bill tailor who appeared worried the administration was holding up aid to ukraine around the time of the july 25th call. i said i think it's crazy to with hold security assistance for help with the campaign. the president has been crystal clear no quid pro quos of any kind. i suggest we stop the back and forth by text. before he sent the response he called the president.
cnn has learned white house and security officials scrambled to contain the fall out including moving the rough transcript to a more secure system. fellow republicans see no wrong doing. >> the president is doing his job. the president -- when you're talking about the hard earn tax dollars of the american people going to a foreign government, the president's going to make sure there's no corruption there. >> reporter: still a new washington post poll found 58% agree that the impeachment inquiry should have begun. a huge jump from over the summer. trump ally lindsey graham is calling on the president's personal lawyer to talk to lawmakers. rudy giuliani's response, love lindsay but i'm still a lawyer and i will have to deal with privilege. democrats sound like they want to hear from sondland first. >> this like classic nixon-water gate action that the cover up becomes worse than the crime itself. the white house and the state department continue to
orchestrate this massive cover up by stopping witnesses that had prepared to testify. >> reporter: senior administration officials just wrapped up a conference call with reporters about this letter to nancy pelosi. officials were asked what democrats would have to do in order to secure the cooperation of the white house in the impeachment inquiry. one administration official said the white house did not want to get into hypotheticals at this point. indication the white house at this point is digging in its heels and daring pelosi to take mr. trump to court. it's not a stretch to describe what we're seeing right now playing out here in nation's capitol as a constitutional battle that is headed for the courts. the state stakes have not been high since the day of bill clinton's impeachment and perhaps watergate. >> thank you. let's head to capitol hill for more on this breaking news. cnn congressional correspondent is joining us now. what does this letter mean and
how democrats will conduct this impeachment inquiry? >> reporter: this will escalate the already intense clash that's going on between house democrats and the white house. nancy pelosi has been very clear she's not going to succomb when it comes to white house pressure when it comes to pushing for a full house vote on the full house floor to authorizing an impeachment inquiry. she's not ruled it out in the past but she does not believe she's required to do so. many republicans are arguing for a full house vote. arguing that a potentially give them more power than they have right now. potentially giving them even chance to subpoena their own witnesses. subpoena their own information here. this letter most likely tonight not only just essentially will throw a lot of more fuel on the fire for democrats and the white house have made it clear this only adds to this case they are
building. this white house stone walling just adds to their case about obstruction which they say will factor in to articles of impeachment. >> thank you. joining me now is congressman a democrat who serves on the judiciary and foreign affairs committee. thank you so much for joining us. >> my pleasure. >> in this letter the white house argues that your impeachment inquiry is ill legitimate and unconstitutional. what's your response to that? >> it's not appropriate or permissible for the subject to challenge the process. this has been under way and now under way by six committees of jurisdiction. this is an effort to distract from the core allegations of the impeachment. the president of the yiet pressured a foreign leader to gin up dirt on a political opponent and withheld military aid as leverage to do that. this is shocking behavior.
it was confirmed by the president's own add missions on camera. it was further confirmed by the transcript of the telephone call and finally confirmed by very elaborate whistle-blower report that details the entire scheme. every day we learn new evidence which corroborates this shocking behavior of the president and rather than confront or answer or be held accountable to that conduct, he's attempting to challenge the process by which congress is doing its oversight work. an impeachment inquiry that responsib congress has a responsible to do. despite their best efforts to distract the american people away from facts, we're going to continue to press for the truth, to gather up evidence and hold this president accountable. >> congress's oversight role here is being neutered by the white house. is this a constitutional crisis? >> well, i think the chairman of the six committees of jurisdiction have made it very
clear that when issue knesubpoe issued and documents are requested that the white house continued obstruction of congress will be considered just that. obstruction of congress which was the third article of the nixon impeachment articles. i think we're going to make every effort to collect additional corroborating evidence. we already have more than sufficient evidence to move forward. i think you'll see the chairman of the committee continue to do their work but they have made it clear to president and the white house they will consider any efforts to defy these subpoenas as further evidence of obstruction of congress and our effort to get to the truth and ultimately that will very likely be one of the articles of impeechlmei impeachment that we move forward on. >> this is not a constitutional crisis. what do you think about that? >> this is unprecedented. to have a president of the united states direct members of the administration to he fuse to testify and refuse to produce
documents. this sun precedented. congress has a responsibility to conduct oversight. it's a serious responsibility. certainly the executive branch doesn't have the power to end that or limit that by refusing to comply. my guess is the court will direct their compliance. we're not going to engage in a protracted legal battle and let the president and his administration run out the clock. >> you don't have a choice. he's forcing you into a legal battle. >> we do have a choice. we already have sufficient evidence. we have an admission from the president. we have the transcript. >> when will the vote happen? when do you want to see it happen? >> i think it needs to happen quickly. we want to be thorough. >> the quickly weeks, months. is it before the end of the year? >> i think before the end of the
year. i think before the end of the year for sure. we cannot allow the president to obstruct congress, to try to run out the clock. we have the whistle-blower who has provided this information. we have the president's own admission to the misconduct. we have this transcript of the phone call in which its laid out plain and simple. it's really no additional evidence you need. we're trying to collect more. in my view there's more than enough evidence. the president betrayed his oath of office. he undermined the integrity of our elections. this is serious. as the inspector general said it's urgent and credible. we need to mover forward because congress has responsibility to protect the national security interests of the yieunited stat. >> it is serious. you say you have enough information to move forward with this impeachment inquiry and ultimately impeachment. do you have enough information in order to convince voters and maybe to convince some republicans to make this
actually a successful effort? >> i think we see public opinion is turning. i think it was 58% of the american people believe it's appropriate to move forward with the impeachment inquiry. we have seen a big change as american people see in realtime. this is the president of the united states using the power of his office. ukraine was attacked by the russians. their lifeline is american military aid. here is the president saying i need a favor from you though. he asked him to gin up dirt on his political opponent in exchange for this military aid. we see these text messages in which a diplomat is saying this is crazy to link military aid to this investigation that the president is seeking. we shouldn't lose sight, this is the president of the yiunited states. >> he said that to gordon
sondland and you were not able the hear from him because the white house directed the state department to block him from testifying. you found out at the last minute. can you move forward without some of that contextual information that obviously someone like sondland or maybe the former ukraine ambassador that you're supposed to hear from but maybe you won't, without them talking to you about it. >> we have the admission from the defendant. that is donald. he's admitted the wrong doing. it's on television interviews. he's acknowledged he had the conversation. it's corroborated by his own words in the transcript of phone call and it's detailed, the entire scheme is detailed in the whistle-blower report. we have all that's necessary. we're collecting additional evidence. the president is engaged in ongoing cover up. this is a pattern. his effort to prevent congress from getting the balance of the story, but we'll consider that obstruction of congress which in
and of itself is an impeachable offense. we're going to do our best to gather up corroborating evidence but if the president thinks by delaying this and by attempting to obstruct congress that he will prevent us from moving forward, he's sadly mistaken. we have ample evidence. it's shocking behavior. it's illegal and he needs to be held accountable for it. >> thank you so much. >> my pleasure. we do have some breaking news in. subpoenas issued for gordon sondland for testimony and documents. we're going to follow that. at this point and time the white house has issued a letter to house democrats but it's not saying that it will cooperate if house democrats agree to their demand. what is the white house goal? - [narrator] meet the ninja foodi pressure cooker with tender crisp technology. the best of pressure cooking and air frying are now in one pot. and only the ninja foodi has tender crisp technology,
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the trump administration puts impeachment stone walling strategy in writing. the white house notifying democrats that the president won't participate in the impeachment inquiry. the president's lawyers arguing its unconstitutional because the house has not voted to open the investigation. joining me now former u.s. attorney and cnn senior legal analyst preet. this letter from the white house
accuses house democrats of violating the constitution, the rule of law and every past precedentimpeachment. what is your analysis? >> it reads like a rhetorical document. i expected a better argument. the one thing people need to be aware of and be considering as we mover forward through this process is these arguments will be couched in legal terms and precedent but they are very few precedented when it comes to this administration and when it comes to impeachment. it's only happened twice before. there's lots of circumstances that make it like other cases and lots of circumstances that make it case of first impression. you know this is not really based on legal principle and constitutional principle. how do you know that? it took them a while to write the letter. they agreed to have ambassador
sondland to testify. he got an a plane and was about to land or maybe he already landed when they changed their mind. if it was really all about constitutional principle and ever lasting dogmatic principles of law, i think they would have said that from the outset. i think they made a tactical and strategic decision that they didn't want this to go forward. the other thing that set a lot of this into motion. they could have made lots of arguments, ethical or constitutional, but they could have made the arguments about the whistle-blower's complaint and the read out of the conversation between president trump and president zelensky and they chose not to make the arguments because the thought the documents may not have been so harmful to them. they have made a decided, political, strategic calculation that to cooperate would be terrible for them and worse for them and their are coachi incou in a lot of flowery letter. >> we're seeing house democrats get bogged down in this process.
they can't get access to witness and can't get documents. you're familiar with trying to make a convincing case. how do democrats, they are seeing a shift in the polls here but it may not be enough at this point. how do democrats make their case to the american people in light of these obstacles which may not be this obstruction argument as compelling as other arts? >> first they should turn over every rock and follow the leads where they find them. they'll have more luck given the status of this administration. they'll have more luck talking to the people not within the government. they'll have an easier time compelling people who never worked in the government or have inside knowledge because people told them things. second with things they are not getting from the administration, they have already made it clear and there is precedent, that to the extent they are not being cooperated with, to the extent they are not getting information they are asking for they will
dry an adverse inference and call that obstruction. those are separate standing articles of impeachment and they have some, all of this is infused with politics and public sentiment. they have some leg to stand on because this is no longer what the white house might have called a fishing expedition. the cat's out of the bag. we know about the conversation between the president and the president of ukraine. we know about the other issues relating to the separation of some of these conversations to the secret server. i think a lot of people have been affected by this information and know it's bad. will they get to the bottom of everything? probably not. lots of criminal cases are made with enough evidence to make the case and prover the case to a jury, not the senate but a regular jury of people's peers and you can still do that without having everything. i think the adverse inference principle will weigh heavily here. >> thank you for being here. we have more breaking news on
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in the impeachecachment inquiry arguing the probe is ill legitimate. i want to see what you think about a key part of this letter. this is a key part. given your inquiry lacks any legitimate constitutional foundation or even the most elementary due process protections, the executive branch cannot be expected to participate in it because participates in this inquiry would inflict lasting institutional harm on the executive branch and lasting damage to the separation of powers. you have left the president no choice. consistent with the duties of the president of the united states and his obligation to preserve the rights of future occupants of his office. president trump cannot permit his administration to participate in this partisan inquiry under these circumstances. laura coats, explain sort of
what this is. this is like an accused dictating the terms of their investigation. >> it's absurd in a word here. how can there not be a constitutional legitimate basis when the constitution is what outlines the process of impeachment. it's not specific to say here are the house rules that will govern the process but it i invests the powers of the house of representatives. we have done this before. in order for the president of the yiunited states to say thiss a kangaroo court. if it would be a kangaroo court if somebody is accused would be allowed to dictate the term offense that when it's founded principlely on his own statements. let's talk about the mueller report versus the ukraine call and discussion about the china interference discussion. with the mueller report, the question was whether the president of the united states had engaged in behavior that may
lead someone to believe in an abuse of power. in terms of this accusation it's more than that. it's based on the president of the yiet own statement. the question is whether or not it's impeachable. the fact the president is now saying i can't possibly be allowed to participate or couldn't do so is really violating with the separation of powers and thumbs its nose at the power of congress the founding fathers say they get to have. >> david, what do you make of this letter? >> yeah, listen, this is not, as you know, impeachment is not a legal process. it's a political process. this is a letter of political posturing. this is a letter trying to lay the ground work of how the white house will fight this politically. how they want to start swaying the american public before the house democrats lay out all the evidence they have. this is an opportunity to make this a pure partisan brawl in the minds of americans who
really try and convince america this is broken politics as usual, nothing to see here. everything that laura said, make no mistake about this, this is a constitutional crisis. this is the executive and legislative branch now in an all out woar. i don't know how that could be anything but a constitutional crisis. >> i agree with you. i just posed to a democratic congressman who would not bite when i asked that question perhaps because of the consequences it might trigger. >> it could be a constitutional crisis. i don't think it has to be for this reason. the letter on its face is actually doing a lot with not that much. the white house counsel is trying to make this case that we're not going to deal with the sub tans because tstance becauss bogus. there's no muscle behind it. the house has the right to impeach.
it's an indictment and speaker pelosi has her caucus control the action here. if i were speaker pelosi, i would buy every member of my caucus a copy of super system. the key to winning a high stakes poker showdown is to put the other side to a decision about everything they have got and with what white house is trying to do is make democrats take a vote to say we're having an impeachment inquiry when the house can vote when ever it wants. the house has the option of voting at any time to put the senate to a vote on whether or not they will convict even if the house comes back with one article of impeachment. >> pamela, you have some fantastic reporting that really sheds light. i kind of gets in the way of the president's argument this was a perfect call and the white house's general argument there's nothing here. you have reported about what was going on in the white house. this is separate from the whistle-blower. what was going on in the white house right after this calm wl
made in late july. >> our team was told by several sources that one official, almost immediately after the call between president trump and the president of ukraine raised a concern higher up to the nsc lawyers. this person was concerned that the president had talked about joe biden and asked zelensky to look into his political opponent. we're told after that, that is when the nsc lawyers decided to put the transcript of that phone call into that secret code word server. the concern we're told had to do with wanting to suppress leaks, limiting who saw it and one person told me they also thought we should preserve this in case this becomes part of an investigation. this was this internal discussion of what did we do about doj. bill barr the attorney general is mentioned several times. should we loop in doj on this. ultimately doj says it was never looped in. what really stuck out to me in talking to sources was the white house counsel's office tried to keep a very close hold on this
early on. it was alerted to it by another agency before the whistle-blower complaint was filed and it thought it could be dealt with within the executive branch and these allegations wouldn't see the light of day. when it became clear that whistle-blower complaint would likely be turned over to congress and they lost the battle to keep a close hold that's when you saw a change of posture within the white house and the white house released the transcript that it is now kwluzikwluz i -- using look how transparent we have been. >> it's so hard to fend off the sunlight that someone will come forward. this information gets out and yet i think the question a lot of people have is to what end because here we have this information. pamela has fantastic reporting. we're learning about this behind the scenes but where does it take the country? >> well, the question i think a lot of people have is all of this an exercise in futility.
there's that machioniker called teflon don. it's why they are there in trying to delicately go on the tight rope if you're a democrat or republican of whether your con stimp wents a-- constituent with you. that will have long term consequences for the democracy. to answer your question, frankly, we're only in a constitutional crisis if congress truly backs down and pandered to another branch of government. you're not in a constitutional crisis unless the other branches say uncle. we're going to give in here. now that they are coming forward and saying here is what we're going to do, here is how we're going to flex the power and the question the president could normally ask you and what army, if that means nothing, the constitutional crisis is removed and democracy works as it will. the american people are asking where will this take us and is democracy really just dependent on one president's discussion
about his taxes or a phone call. is that all it's come down do after all these hundred of years. i hope not. >> all you stand by. we have so much to discuss including where the american people are on the issue of impeachment. there's been movement and you may be surprised. here's the thing about managing multiple clouds
back now with our experts. we're following the breaking news in the impeachment investigation including where do the american people stand on this. house speaker nancy pelosi has not ruled out a formal vote. a new poll shows 53% support the impeachment inquiry. that number is higher in the washington post poll, 58%. david, how might that influence the house speaker's next steps? >> we should note that 58% is some 20 points higher than it was back in july which is why i think what is so critical in
this polling that we're seeing is sort of the context is key here. the two years of the mueller investigation when impeecachmen investigations were asked, this seems to be a new context for voerts voters as they are assessing this. they sigh the impeachment inquiry, see this as totally valid on this set of facts. what they say about the president interfering in the 2020 election, not something in the past. his own actions of the phone call. i think because the fact patterns are different we are seeing differences in the american people. speaker pelosi has to watch these numbers very carefully. in terms of pacing, the timing of this investigation and it being seen as fair. this is going to be critical for her and the democrats. i've said this from day one to
bring the country along in this process for it to be successful. >> how do they know what the critical mass is, democrats, when they are looking at poll numbers? the critical mass that might signal to them that they can change minds of republicans in congress. >> i think democrats have to look at these polls like you look at any poll as a snapshot at a moment in time. you have the q poll and the post poll with the majority of americans say they support the inquiry, not necessarily the removal of president. that should tell democrats they are on sure footing as they were than with the mueller report. speaker pelosi has credibility here because she was the one putting the brakes on impeachment until this set of facts came out and it was like release the hounds. that i have got to see how the polls progress with each step many this process, i think democrats have to look and say things could change up or down. if this drags down until thanksgiving, christmas, maybe the polls will go in their favor. maybe it won't as the facts get
more muddied up and this becomes more about process. >> the white house is now arming themselves. they are accepting some outside legal help. you have breaking news on this. what can you tell us? >> we're told the former republican south carolina republican trey gowdy was at the white house had been asked to help from the outside in terms of council in the impeachment fight. we're told that he accepted this. he is willing to help on that effort on the outside. what is interesting is as the white house tries to argue today in this letter that this even a formal impeachment inquiry and we're not going to cooperate with you, clearly they are bracing for an impeachment fight ahead as they bring outside lawyers on ahead. >> i want to look at this washington post poll and what it shows in terms of the break down. 28% of republicans support the impeachment probe and there are 57% of independents who do. what do you think about that?
>> well you look at that and say there are people, this is not a partisan issue, specifically. here is why i think that. unlike other issues about maybe litigating as alleged, a past election or discussion about hillary clinton or about a deep state theory, the notion of abuse of power and foreign interference or slgetting the hp of a foreign nation should be a neutralizer to say this isn't about republicans or democrats nor is the issue whether they can thumb their nose at the legislative branch and emasculate the congressional leaders and congressional bodies in this way. it tracks for me why this would not be such an issue that is falling along partisan lines. abuse of power, frankly, is a victim of both parties and also both parties can many times be the ones in trouble. >> i want to say that 28%, think about everything you've seen in polling in the trump administration.
how often have you seen three in ten republicans be in a position against the president on something. not that often. you don't see that kind of number. that's a warning sign for the administration. that 28% number in july was 7%. again, there's been movement here. i think it's why you saw a few cracks emerging. some senate republicans coming out and saying what the president did was wrong even if they are not ready to get behind an impeachment inquiry. i think that number is alarming to the white house and it's something you have to track closely. >> to laura's point about abuse of power being something that both parties do. it's so noteworthy how people change their tune when they are on different sides of the situation. trey gowdy in the past who is going to be working in this impeachment fight on behalf of the president. the notion, this is a quote, the notion you can with hold information and documents from congress no matter whether
you're the party in power or not in power is wrong. respect for the rule of law must mean something ir respect of the vis tuds of political cycles. that will be used against him. >> it is because part of the president's legal defense has been to not cooperate with the investigation whether it's his tax returns, whether it's not producing ambassador sondland today. all the things the administration has stone walled congress on. i think one of the things that will work against the president's defense. not saying he will be removed but one of the things will work against his defense in terms houf hof how his lawyers play and his public perception is some of these documents are out there. people can see the text messages. people can see the transcript of the conversation. they don't have to when you ask them in a poll, they don't have to say what is this about. they say i read about it in the newspaper. >> thank you so much. laura we'll be checking you out tonight because the programming note she will be anchoring a c
defector who has risked his life to expose atrocities committed by the assad regime. >> that's right. if anyone needs to know what is at stake in syria all you need to do is look how one man risked everything to expose the atrocities of president bashar al arc sssad. he just returned to washington again to beg for action as what is described as the mother of all sanctions bill against the regime and it sits and it waits for action and we were there. i do want to warn everyone that the images you're about to see are graphic and disturbing. >> we can't tell you his name. it's too dangerous to show his face. >> he won't even allow his voice to be recorded as he speaks through his translator, but we can show you these. almost 55,000 photos he risked his life to bring out of syria. some of which have never been seen publicly until now, and he's risking his life again to plead with congress to act.
>> how are you feeling in this moment being back in washington again? >> my feeling being here is a feeling of a bit of disappointment, and at the same time frustration because after everything that i've done in order to expose what the regime has done we have yet to see any real action. >> his code name is caesar. he was a military photographer when the war began in 2011. he said he immediately realized what he was then documenting were not accidental death, but torture. >> for example, many of the bodies had their eyes gouged out. most of these bodies had very deep cuts. most of them were emaciated, starved for many, many months and also marks all over their bodies from head to toe and i would see their jaws and teeth broken. >> instead of defecting right after the war broke out, caesar says he decided to stay for two
and a half years to bear witness, collect evidence and to expose what really was happening in his country. where any sign of sympathy for the dead could be interpreted as betrayal of the regime. >> i would work for hours taking photographs, loading the photographs and i would have to hide my emotions. i would have to pray that a tear does not come down my face because if they saw one tear, if they saw one expression on my face that showed sympathy then i would be killed as would my family. >> how did you do that? >> i don't know. >> in 2013 he finally fled, and brought with him what the fbi confirmed as authentic and the state department's ambassador for war crimes described as stronger evidence than what existed against the nazis. the syrian government has denied responsibility and called the photos fake.
caesar made his trip to capitol hill in 2014 testifying under cover in the exact same disguise he used for our interview. >> i honestly thought that if i could have the courage to go for the years that i did doing the work that i did endangering my life every single day that once i came out and showed the world what i had that the entire conscience of the world would move. >> and then that didn't. >> five whole years the world did not move. >> i'll never forget what he showed us. >> the sanctions bill sparked by caesar's testimony and photographs has passed the house three times with bipartisan support, but has yet to make it to the senate floor. >> so what i am pleading is for the american people to please save the syrian people, save these people that do not deserve the hellish nightmare that they're living in. >> one of the lawmakers caesar made his case to this time, senator lindsay graham. not only is he a longtime critic
of bashar al assad, graham has had the ear of president trump and he revealed to cnn that he's introducing a resolution to declare assad a war criminal. >> to the people in syria, we're not turning our back on you. i wish we can do better. the administration needs to do more, quite frankly, we don't have a coherent strategy in syria and i am committed 100% to not letting assad get away with it and standing by people like caesar. until then the bill sits on senator mitch mcconnell's death and leads caesar right back where he began and putting his life on the line to try and convince the world to care and once and for all not look away. >> we're in the holocaust museum, and after the holocaust the world said never again, and i'm really struck by seeing the atrocities coming out of syria and the fact that the world is not saying that. >> you're right.
how many more children must be killed? how many more men must be tortured to death? how many more women must be raped until you mean it when you say never again? >> this bears repeating. the caesar sanctions bill has passed the house with bipartisan support three times since 2016 and most recently in january and yet when i contacted senator mcconnell's office they had no update to offer on action in the senate. so the caesar bill sits and waits still. brianna. >> we know you will keep asking that question of the senate majority leader's office, kate and we'll keep following up with you. thank you so much for that impactful report. >> thank you. >> just ahead, the british parents of a teenage car crash victim and they blame the wife of the u.s. diplomat for their son's death and they're demanding justice. somebody living with hiv?
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was unable to contact sacoolas, and diplomatic diplomatic immun rarely waived. erin burnett out front starts right now. this is cnn breaking news. good evening. i'm erin burnett. out front tonight. the breaking news, the white house declaring war over impeachment putting the nation on the brink of a constitutional crisis in this angry eight-page letter from trump's white house counsel the president says he will not cooperate with the impeachment investigation accusing nancy pelosi of conducting proceedings in secret and violating trump's right to due process. so much for the president saying this about democrats' demands about ukraine. >> will you cooperate with those subpoenas? >> well, i always cooperate. >> he is not playing word games tonight. it is war and trump's counsel writes in this letter,