Return to Transcripts main page

CNN NEWSROOM

Mueller Ends Full Day of Testimony Before Congress; Democrats Renew Calls for Impeachment After Mueller's Testimony. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired July 24, 2019 - 15:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[15:30:00] JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: -- Val Demings that all of our viewers picked up what had happened. And I want to roll that right now and just get everybody here to react. This came toward the close of the hearing when the Florida Congresswoman, the Democrat, was asking Mr. Mueller about the answers, the written answers to questions about election interference that President Trump received and handed back to the special counsel.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. VAL DEMINGS (D-FL): Could you say, director Mueller, that the President was credible?

ROBERT MUELLER, FORMER SPECIAL COUNSEL: I can't answer that question.

DEMINGS: Director Mueller, isn't it fair to say that the President's written answers were not only inadequate and incomplete, because he didn't answer many of your questions, but where he did, his answers showed that he wasn't always being truthful?

MUELLER: I would say generally.

DEMINGS Generally. Director Mueller --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: That's a pretty stunning thing to say. Now we should caveat this with the fact that Robert Mueller already had to walk back and answer from earlier in the day, because of either he was confused by the question or he just didn't clarify with the precision he wanted. But for Robert Mueller to say that generally President Trump's answers were not always truthful is a fairly stunning proclamation and not one by the way that is in the Mueller report.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: And virtually, and very much in contrast to the rest of his testimony. That was the kind of question he was refusing to answer all through the hearing. So to hear him on that one occasion saying that the answers to the written questions were generally untruthful. I mean, we all thought, wow! That's quite a statement. But I just think it --

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Referring to the Q & A, the written Q & A, not public statements he was making at news conference or gaggles with reporters. TOOBIN: Correct. I would just wait a little before we grace this as

an absolute statement. Because I expect a walk back.

TAPPER: Yes, he will likely have to walk it back, just like he did with the earlier comment on Congressman (INAUDIBLE). John Dean's here, and I wanted to get your reaction, I think this is another area that's fair to say, Robert Mueller went outside the per view of what's in the Mueller report.

Congressman Mike Quigley -- I believe from Ohio -- was asking about all the public statements then candidate Trump was making about WikiLeaks and the documents that have been stolen from the DNC and spear fished from John Podesta and then released to the public. And he asked Robert Mueller to characterize how he felt seeing a presidential candidate making these states that were praising what our intelligence -- U.S. intelligence considers to be a hostile foreign government of sorts in WikiLeaks. Let's roll that tape and I want to get your response.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. MIKE QUIGLEY (D-IL): This just came out, WikiLeaks, I love WikiLeaks. Donald Trump October 10th, 2016.

This WikiLeaks stuff is unbelievable. It tells you the inner heart, you got to read it, Donald Trump October 12th, 2016.

This WikiLeaks is like a treasure trove, Donald Trump, October 31st, 2016.

Boy, I love reading those WikiLeaks. Donald Trump, November 4th, 2016.

Would any of those quotes disturb you, Mr. Director?

MUELLER: I'm not certain I would say --

QUIGLEY: How do you react to it?

MUELLER: Well, it's problematic is an understatement.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: Problematic is an understatement. John Dean, the questions from Illinois Congressman Mike Quigley -- problematic is an understatement is him characterizing a political opinion or a law enforcement opinion that is not contained in this report.

JOHN DEAN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: That's correct. And he also -- as you recall -- prefaced it by making clear that the Secretary of State, former CIA director had called WikiLeaks a hostile foreign entity, so that the audience understood exactly what was being referred to that Trump was giving blessings to. So I think that even made it a tougher question. I think Quigley actually was very good in this segment.

TAPPER: And James, what did you make of it? Because obviously, this is something that he thinks is the most important part of Robert Mueller of this report. That being that the Russians are still attacking us, he said, they're attacking us as we sit here at one point. And the fact is, I don't have any trouble picturing that he did this one on purpose, that this was not a misunderstanding, he wanted to convey that it's not acceptable.

JIM BAKER, FORMER GENERAL COUNSEL OF THE FBI: That it's not acceptable that this is about Russia. I mean, I was there at the start of this investigation, and it was about Russia. It's always been about Russia, and those of us who have worked on it are quite alarmed of what Russia did, what they're capable of doing and I think Director Mueller is quite concerned about that.

One thing I think that he mentioned today was in his press statement that he made -- in May I guess it was -- trying to get out of the hearing that he had today.

[15:35:09] He referenced -- he said that Russia had conducted a concerted attack -- an attack is the word that he used -- using military and intelligence elements against the United States. And I think that's what this is all really about. And that's what we need to stay focused on. And I think that's why Director Mueller is worried about it , and probably why he was willing to go a little bit beyond and emphasize that.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: And I think -- I agree with you, completely. And I think Mueller had bigger fish to fry today and it weighed in the President, which is the country.

And his message to Congress was -- as you were saying, Jake -- they're doing it right now. And, you know, we -- all of us who have some responsibility to exercise our responsibility swiftly, don't let it linger as we have for so many years.

And so while he did come out and criticize the President, calling his language on WikiLeaks problematic, saying that of course, you should pick up the phone and report if a foreign entity wanted to influence the election and give you dirt on your opponent. I mean, he sort of made that clear. And so, while he sort of threw shade at Donald Trump, it was clear to me that he was there to say wait a minute, this is what's important here, and it's the Russians, and others and they're doing it, and they're doing it now. And I think that's what he wanted to get across, as hampered as he was by the rules, and by his own inability sometimes to be clear and direct in answering questions.

EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: And he came back to it a couple of times.

BORGER: He did.

PEREZ: At the end of that first answer he said essentially what the President -- what the candidate Trump was doing at the time was to provide hope and boost to what was essentially illegal activity. And then later on in another exchange with another member of Congress, he said -- who made a reference to members of Congress who were running for office, anybody who's running for president, can accept help from a foreign power, and that this may be the new normal. And Mueller responded, I hope this is not the new normal, but I fear it is. And I think that's his clarion call to everybody. To those people who are in that committee there. That something has to be done or else.

BLITZER: I just want to point out, John King, that they got into the weeds on a lot of issues, the Republicans and the Democrats, but did you hear from a political standpoint a bombshell emerging during these seven hours?

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well I think the answer to the question is, how do you look at this? We're hearing from Kaitlan Collins -- at the White House -- the President is happy today. I think he's happy today, because you do not have that viral movie trailer moment of Robert Mueller looking directly into a camera and saying something in 15 or 20 seconds that the Democrats can spread around the world about there's a case for you to impeach. Or I would have indicted if I could have but I was stuck. He didn't say any of those things, and he left it to the Democrats to read the report, the damning parts of the report. The Democrats had to read them and then Mueller said, yes or no. I agreed with you.

If you're writing a book report on the last 7 1/2 hours and you took detailed notes, the substantive picture of the President, his campaign and the people around him, is pretty damning. The Democrats did go through these ten episodes of potential obstruction, and that's not behavior to be applauded. There was a lot about how much they welcomed the help. How much Donald Trump Jr. and other people welcomed the help from the Russians. How the President himself and the exchange that Quigley just talked about right there -- how the President was gleeful that a hostile foreign actor was interfering in the election and helping him.

The director said several times that the President was not truthful or his answers were not truthful and not is helpful as he had hoped. That he would not answer follow-up questions, that he refused to sit down for an in-person interview. The President of the United States refusing to sit down with the special counsel. The ethics of the President and all the people around him were questioned throughout the day.

Is there a moment if you're going to go on social media tonight or a clip you can play right now of Robert Mueller saying that in a 15 to 20 second compelling way? No, that's why the President is happy. If you read the report as we talked about months ago, or if you listen to all seven hours today, that is not a favorable picture of this President and the people around him and how they do their business.

TAPPER: And let me also just say Robert Mueller was fully capable of delivering that 15 second sound bite.

KING: He did not want to.

TAPPER: And he did not want to. He could have said from the beginning the campaign showed a willingness to accept help from the Russians, they welcomed it, and then they lied about it, and the President at every turn was a hindrance and tried to obstruct justice. Although we couldn't bring charges because he's President. He did not say that.

KING: He did say, it's not a witch hunt and he did it was not a hoax. And he did passionately defend the integrity of his people and the reasons they were doing these investigations. But you're right, he did not do that.

TAPPER: You think it's -- go ahead.

LAURA COATES, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: He was successful, that he was neither a pawn nor a pinata today. As frustrated as it was to watch it moments in time and say, is there more you can give. He did not give fuel to any argument. He didn't give a whole lot of fire outside of maybe his inability to be concise and coherent at some point about what he wanted to say. But the idea here what I heard, was the notion of cost. That phrase keeps going in my mind. The figurative sense, the idea that the President of the United States was thinking about literal terms, whether democracy was for sale.

[15:40:02] Whether there was a benefit he could actually get from being able to have Russian interference. Was it going to be that Trump Tower in Moscow later on? Was there a notion they benefit financially? Also, Mueller told us today, the reason he didn't subpoena the President of the United States and get a comprehensive response to all the questions we would want to ask, is a cost benefit analysis of how long it would take to litigate the matter, versus his deadline presumably to conclude the investigation. And that should be alarming to people in the sense that he didn't feel that the answers were sufficient. He thought they were generally untrue, but thought, you know, what I'm either going to have on the one hand protracted litigation or I can tee it up for people who may be more efficient prior to the 2020 election.

BORGER: He didn't indict him anyway.

COATES: He can't indict him anyway.

TOOBIN: I was struck by the enormous personal contrast between Robert Mueller and Donald Trump. They have a lot of common. They're within months of each other in terms of how old they are. They were both raised in wealth. Both Ivy League educated. And in demeanor, and approach like they could not -- they're from different planets. He said so much less than he could have said. He didn't pass judgment beyond what was precisely in the report. And as we all know from watching tweets and watching the President, they are just so different. And you look at who's winning now, it certainly seems like Donald Trump is winning between the two of them.

TAPPER: Congressman Maloney, I think, John Dean, brought up the idea of why he didn't subpoena President Trump, why he didn't make that effort. And a conclusion that seemed to be floated was the idea that maybe you felt you didn't need to because there was so much evidence, it didn't even matter what President Trump said. You had Don McGahn testifying, Corey Lewandowski testifying, Steve Bannon and on and on, and the report, throughout the report it says, a preponderance of evidence, a great deal of evidence, much evidence and that he didn't need to do that.

DEAN: I'll tell you, my reaction to that answer and that line of questioning is this is a man who -- if it had Richard Nixon you wouldn't go after the tapes because it would take too long. And I think that's something that's something that's going to hang over this investigation, hang over Mueller, because he really didn't vigorously pursue it as you might have. They negotiated for nine months. I also thought that the hearings seemed to be in the wrong order. I thought the afternoon session was much stronger than the morning session, and it would explain much of the morning session by seeing the afternoon section first.

TAPPER: Well chronologically it would be the intelligence committee hearing and those alleged attempted interference and then afterwards the judiciary, the cover-up of "A".

DEAN: And one other thing is the walk back to draw on another Watergate term. I think the walk back is what we used to call a modified limited hangout. He didn't take it all the way back. If he was just instantly in his response to Ted Liu, as to what he was doing, and then to come back with, it was probably a reaction to the news that happened between the morning and afternoon session and he didn't take it all the way back.

BLITZER: I just want to get Evan for second. Evan, you've this very, very closely. Was there something new that you learned today that -- and all of us have read the report --that we didn't know going into these seven hours?

PEREZ: Look, I don't think that as John was saying, I don't think there's any moment that stood out that says, all my God, there's no aha moment from this. I was hoping to hear a little more clarity about whether or not we look at this report as a referral. Something more from Mueller to say, hey Congress, you know, I went as far as I can go, the ball is in your court now. And we did not hear that. He bent over backwards to not say that. He refused to say the "I" word. And so for me, I think -- if the Democrats went into the day looking for a blessing from Robert Mueller to start this impeachment inquiry, I don't think they got that. I think that's a win for the President.

TAPPER: And President Trump has just responded on his favorite social media platform. Let's go to Kaitlan Collins at the White House to bring us President Trump's response. Kaitlan, what is he saying?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, the President is already tweeting triumphantly in all caps, writing that the truth is a force of nature, just a few moments ago. And we're told that tweet essentially reflects what the President has been saying all afternoon.

Now, we should note that is not how the President started his day. Our sources told us that the President was making phone calls early this morning. He was agitated to having to watch Robert Mueller come up on Capitol Hill and testify. But after that first hearing got underway, there was a shift in the President's mood, people close to him say. [15:45:00] He went from being irritated, agitated to then seeming

triumphant and pleased with how the Republicans were questioning the former special counsel during that first hearing in front of the House Judiciary Committee. Which the President was watching very closely from the residents and then as the mood started to shift, he came down to the West Wing, continued watching that second hearing there. And, Jake, I should note we're going to hear from the President likely in person, any minute now, because he's scheduled to leave the White House soon to go to a fundraiser in West Virginia tonight. The first thing on his schedule all day. But certainly a shift in mood here at the White House for the President. And our sources inside the White House are telling us that's coming in a sense of relief essentially to aids who work here.

TAPPER: All right, Kaitlan Collins at the White House. Thanks so much. And, Gloria, that's interesting for the President to be saying in all caps, truth is a force of nature. Because what we've been hearing about to a large degree all day is how many lies President Trump and the team around him have told. Whether it's telling Don McGahn, the White House counsel, to lie about what he told him about firing Mueller. Or all the lies that relates to the actual Russian election interference and all the -- did the President dictating of the lie about why Donald Trump Jr. and Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort met with that lawyer at Trump Tower. That concocting this idea that it didn't have anything to do with attempted election interference.

BORGER: It was all about lies, and Eric Swalwell raised all the lying that the Trump officials did to the special counsel. And special counsel made the point, yes, we rely too. And there use of encryption devices and their disruption of electronic messages. Does this sound familiar? Their destruction of their messages really hindered the investigation.

But overall here, I mean, just looking at that tweet from the President in all caps, makes me realize that the President's fighting one war and Bob Mueller's fighting another. And the President is a counter puncher. And I think he felt today, oh, this guy is like punching Jell-O. It's easy, there's no problem here. He's never going to fight back. And Mueller wasn't punching. He wasn't punching anything. He didn't want to fight. He wanted to tell you what was in that report without reading it out loud, but he wanted to tell the American public that there is a problem here with foreign interference.

His job here was not to indict the President. It was not to impeach the President of the United States. It was to inform the American public about the problem that we have. So Donald Trump had one goal, and that was not to be destroyed. And Robert Mueller had no intention of doing that directly.

TAPPER: And John King on earth too, a different Donald Trump is tweeting. As your President I'm going to do everything I can to prevent election interference from ever happening again.

But we are right now saddled with being on earth one. KING: If we can get into the other parallel universe. And again, that's a very important substantive point that Director Mueller made, and that you had made about the origin of the investigation. That as we sit in this room, Mueller said the Russians are still at it. And as we sit in this conversation the current President of the United States has not proactively taken on this challenge. Whatever your opinion about 2016, whatever your opinion about how he was elected. What happened, whatever your opinion about this document, the Mueller report or the testimony today, that is a simple fact that even people in his own administration are afraid to talk to him about this. People in the senior positions, the people that have to do this that is a terrible dynamic.

Back to the other point. The President treating the truth in all caps. But the President today before he has two audiences, the American people and the Republican Party. And would anybody in Congress today, any Republican be swayed on this question of should there be more hearings, never mind should there be impeachment? Should we keep investigating this? Should we have more hearings? Should we go with this?

The President is completely confident the Republican map didn't change at all. I would say, we'll see. There are those smaller moments. There was no big compelling moment. There are those smaller moments though about destructions of documents and messages about lie that could percolate. We'll see in a week, 10 days. It takes a few days for these things to settle into public opinion. If that changes.

Here's my big question. When we woke up this morning, there were 88 House Democrats saying impeach today. Start the proceedings today. 15 of the 24 Democrats on the judiciary committee, that's 60 percent of the committee. 15 members of that committee which would run an impeachment proceeding, this morning said impeach. What's that math tomorrow --

Let's go to Manu Raju, he's looking into exactly that, Manu. You're up on Capitol Hill, what are you hearing?

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, and I'm hearing Democrats renewing their calls for impeachment, a number of them who have called for it in the past say essentially this testimony, essentially underscores their calls for beginning an impeachment proceeding. Sean Maloney who's a Democratic member of the House Intelligence Committee just told me moments ago that this absolutely bolsters the need to begin formal impeachment proceedings. Other Democrats as well have similarly done just that including David Cicilline, Jamie Raskin, people who serve on the House Judiciary Committee.

They're defending what happened here today, even though Mueller was often -- did not answer a lot of the questions, as you know, you have one-word responses, often times sidestep matters.

[15:50:02] They ended up reading a lot of the report. They're saying they accomplished what they intended to. So some of that could be their argument, the talking points as a way to portray this in their view as a victory. But at the moment it appears they're not deterred for the push to move forward on impeachment proceedings.

So that is going to be still the Democratic narrative going forward. They argue that the -- the more American public will now be able to understand what the content of the Mueller report is. Of course, we'll have to see whether or not this shifts public opinion at all and, of course, we'll have to see whether the big individual on Capitol Hill, Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker, whether she moves off of her opposition to moving forward with impeachment proceedings. But at the moment Democrats on these committees defending how this went and also renewing calls for an impeachment inquiry.

BLITZER: Manu, we're going to get back to you. We're going to be hearing from the Democratic leadership. You know, John, I just want your thoughts on this. Clearly the President and his supporters are also pleased that at times Mueller's testimony was shaky.

KING: Early on. Part of it -- and the question was could he not hear the questions, at the beginning, the pacing of the questions. Is he -- he's 74 and hasn't been in this chair for a long time. There is a lot of conversations about this or was he just reluctant. Was he just reluctant to go places or was it a combination of all of those things.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Or just nervous. Like the Superbowl --

KING: Could he have also been nervous because of the stakes.

The first who plays at the Superbowl, the teams are not always --

BLITZER: You work with him, what do you think?

BAKER: My sense was he was just nervous. I mean, it's nerve-wracking to go in front of Congress and I've done it a bunch of times. But not in this kind of a setting and you have all of the cameras facing you and so on. And all the buildup and how everybody's been talking about it for months. I'm guessing he was just nervous and he wanted to be as constrained as he possibly could be. We all knew that. And that's what he telegraphed and he just didn't want to be there. And so you weren't going to get much out of him. So I think he had to find his sea legs a bit and I think as John said early. The second hearing in the afternoon he was a much more -- had a sound footing. He looked a lot better. The answers were a lot better.

TOOBIN: Yet still the most effective and I think most incriminating moment of the entire day was the first round of questioning from Jerry Nadler, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee when Mueller said without equivocation, this was not an exoneration. Which is an invitation perhaps for impeachment but at least for more investigation.

TAPPER: That's a question though and I want to ask Gloria. Which is, do we think right now that Nancy Pelosi -- who was already very reluctant to begin impeachment proceedings and had made that very clear -- do you think that she is now closer to wanting to be willing to begin with impeachment proceedings or farther away? I personally think probably farther away. BORGER: Yes. Ask me an easy question. That's hard. Because I think

what she's got to do first of all is take the pulse of her members. That's who Nancy Pelosi is. She'll see if there's been any shift in her membership and she's going to look -- as John was talking about -- she's going to look at those moderate Democrats who got elected in Trump districts and she's going to say, how do you feel about this.

I agree with you. I think probably not. I don't think that this has move the needle one way or the other. Politically I would say those people are inclined to think that Mueller blew it and it was a terrible investigation, it was a hoax. Are still going to think that, I think. I don't think Mueller did any convincing today. I don't think he wanted to, to be honest, because he couldn't go beyond the report.

KING: But as the President gloats, the liberals are going to get furious. As the President gloats about the liberals are going to get furious. They are going to demand the Speaker do more. She will look at those 40 or so moderates from Trump districts that made the majority, that make her the Speaker of the House. But will also going to look at Republicans because she's been clearly on the record that it makes no sense for the House to do something if it is a dead end in the Senate.

She lived through, remember, she's old enough to remember, we covered the Clinton White House in the day when a Democratic President was impeached by the House, the Senate failed to convict and the Republican Party suffered not Bill Clinton. Bill Clinton went on to serve. You could say his legacy suffered but politically in the moment the Republican Party suffered. Two Republican speakers lost their jobs, Newt Gingrich and Bob Livingston after that impeachment. Nancy Pelosi remembers that. Now I know there are people who argue forget the politics, you're supposed to do this on principle. If there is enough in here to open impeachment hearings, you're supposed to do it. As a Congresswoman from San Francisco that's how she views it. As the Speaker of the House, that's not how she sees it.

TOOBIN: But there is a route, it seems to me, that Nancy Pelosi can keep both factions happy. She could say we are not proceeding to impeachment yet but this calls for more investigation. How you could listen to the Mueller testimony and not say you need to hear from Don McGahn. You need to hear from Corey Lewandowski. You know, where is John Dean -- metaphorically -- where is John Dean this time around.

[15:55:00] You know, the witness who actually saw what was going on at the White House, not Leon Jaworski or Archibald Cox, the prosecutor, because that's who we heard from today. You need the witnesses who were actually present.

COATES: -- we're already kicking the can down the road. Because think about it. First of all, let's just say it, the book was better than the movie today. OK. We all agree. It was better than the movie. But now we're putting form over substance. It was already there. All of the information you would need to actually bring it to life, it's already in the actual report. So the idea of kicking the can down the road to say, hey, will this be enough now? Essentially that it's a Wizard of Oz moment here, ladies and gentlemen. You already have the power to go home along, Congress. Are you going to exercise it or not. I agree, having a moment isn't really a blockbuster.

It would be important to galvanize the moderate Democrats, Republicans to get them over there. But we're also talking about impeachment or an impeachment inquiry beginning. If we're in the inquiry stages there's more than enough information to go forward.

KING: But the argument -- again, the argument the most aggressive liberals who are saying impeachment is that how long will it take. They want to get Don McGahn to testify. It's being litigated. They want to get other people to testify, it's being litigated. They believe if you have a formal impeachment hearing you have a higher constitutional power if you will and that those witnesses have to testify. That's their argument to Chairman Nadler and to the Speaker saying if we make this about impeachment then they can't invoke these privileges. Then they have to come because it is essentially a criminal proceeding by the House.

DEAN: That's not a legitimate argument. Look at what Nixon did for example, he doubled down his restriction of providing anything to Congress. That's how you got the article three which deals with nothing but his refusal to cooperate with Congress. So it had exactly the opposite effect for a sitting president.

BORGER: And you know, you don't want to mobilize the President's supporters and it could have the impact of the President's base saying, wait a minute guys, OK, you got Mueller here, you didn't move the needle. Now you want to keep this ball rolling. So I think the President could use that effectively. I think in politics as we all know, timing is everything. If this Mueller hearing had happened sooner --

TOOBIN: Three months ago.

BORGER: Three months ago, say, I think it might have been more effective for Democrats.

PEREZ: One of the things I still come away from this, if this wasn't the President, right, would he be in more trouble? And you heard the President a couple of days ago talk about how he could do anything under Article Two. He can do whatever he wants. We know that he ran out of the clock on answering questions. You know, he negotiated for about a year. Did not sit down for an interview. We know obviously where they ended up on the obstruction question. So the bottom line is, it appears that if you're the President of the United States, you can get away with anything. I think that is one of the things that I think if your just an average person, ought to bother you. Right? Because the question of whether anyone is above the law allegedly under the American system is that no one is above the law but it turns out --

BAKER: One of the things I'm concerned about I quite frankly the failure of Congress as an institution. I mean, if this information isn't enough for them to take some type of action to check the President, then, where are we? The volume one tells a frightening story about what the Russians did. Volume two tells an appalling story about what the President did with respect to interfering with that investigation that was intended to protect the country.

PEREZ: It appears to be an abdication of their responsibility.

BAKER: It's an abdication or They're just not capable of it. Over the time Congress has seeded so much authority to the President out of these emergency authorities that is granted to him. And they just seem unable to exercise the power that the constitution gives them.

BLITZER: Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker is saying, if there are no Republicans who will come along, whether in the House and certainly in the Senate, go ahead and impeach in the House but go nowhere, you won't get 67 Senators to convict and remove the President from office.

BAKER: But that's still --

BLITZER: But what do you do? I mean politically speaking, she wants to be the Speaker. She doesn't want to be the minority leader.

BAKER: I agree with you. I don't have a solution to this. I'm just articulating that it seems look a failure. If the House can't act because the Senate won't, then Congress as an institution is incapable of holding the President accountable.

COATES: Pelosi's tenure should never have been a factor of the entire inquiry and the discussion. And I understand the longevity. You want to be able to remain the Speaker of House but talking about constituency and I hear it's America, not the United States of Pelosi. In fact, if that is her interest and it's vested, that's irrelevant to me as a voter.

I will say the notion here of suggesting that -- I think you're right on the idea of the succession of power, the abdication and responsibility -- I deal with juries. I can't guarantee a conviction but I can guarantee the pursuit of justice. If the American people look at this and say unless you can guarantee a conviction, no prosecutor should ever act. Is it prudent not to do so. We would not have a single trial in America. If the guarantee of an impeachment conviction is the only thing that protects democracy, then they've missed the mark.

TAPPER: All right everyone, stick around.

[16:00:00]