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THE BRIEF WITH BIANCA NOBILO
U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi Announces Formal Impeachment Inquiry Into Trump; House Republicans To Respond To Impeachment Inquiry Soon; Biden: If Trump Continues To Obstruct, Impeach Him; Johnson To Speak At U.N. After U.K. Court Defeat; U.K Supreme Court Voids P.M. Johnson's Parliament Suspension; Johnson: Disagree Profoundly With U.K. Court Decision; Johnson Charging Ahead On Brexit After U.K. Court Defeat; U.K Lawmakers To Return To Parliament Wednesday; Anger At Johnson After Supreme Court Rules Against Him. Aired 5-6p ET
Aired September 24, 2019 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BIANCA NOBILO, CNN HOST: Live from London, I'm Bianca Nobilo. And welcome to THE BRIEF. We begin with major breaking news in Washington this hour.
Any minute now, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is expected to announce a formal impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump. She has resisted taking
that extraordinary step for months, but Democratic calls for Mr. Trump's impeachment apparently reached critical mass after details surfaced of his
phone call with Ukraine's President. Here's what Pelosi said earlier today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): It's really sad to think that our President would perform an impeachable offense. It's hard. It's hard to say we've gotten to
that place. But the - what would be an impeachable offense would be that which is proven in a--
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NOBILO: And Nancy Pelosi is speaking now. Let's take you to that breaking news.
PELOSI: --September 17th. Sadly, on that day, the Intelligence Community Inspector General formally notified the Congress that the administration
was forbidding him from turning over a whistleblower complaint, on Constitution Day. This is a violation of law.
Shortly thereafter, press reports began to break of a phone call by the President of the United States calling upon a foreign power to intervene in
his election. This is a breach of his constitutional responsibilities.
The facts are these. The Intelligence Community Inspector General, who was appointed by President Trump, determined that the complaint is both of
urgent concern and credible. And its disclosure, he went on to say, relates to one of the most significant importance of the Director of National
Intelligence's responsibility to the American people.
On Thursday, the Inspector General testified before the House Intelligence Committee stating that the Acting Director of National Intelligence blocked
him from disclosing the whistleblower complaint. This is a violation of law. The law is unequivocal. The DNI staff - it says the DNI, Director of
National Intelligence, shall provide Congress the full whistleblower complaint.
For more than 25 years, I've served on the Intelligence Committee as a member, as the ranking member, as part of gang of four, even before I was
in leadership. I was there when we created the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. That did not exist before 2004.
I was there even earlier in the '90s when we wrote the whistleblower laws and continue to write them to improve them to ensure the security of our
intelligence and the safety of our whistleblowers. I know what their purpose was, and we proceeded with balance and caution, as we wrote the
laws. I can say with authority the Trump administration's actions undermine both our national security and our intelligence and our protections of the
whistleblowers - more than both.
This Thursday, the Acting DNI will appear before the House Intelligence Committee. At that time, he must turn over the whistleblower's full
complaint to the committee. He will have to choose whether to break the law or honor his responsibility to the Constitution.
On the final day of the Constitutional Convention in 1787, when our Constitution was adopted, Americans gathered on the steps of Independence
Hall to write the news of the government our founders had crafted. They asked Benjamin Franklin, "What do we have, a republic or a monarchy?"
Franklin replied, "A republic, if you can keep it." Our responsibility is to keep it.
Our republic endures because of the wisdom of our Constitution, enshrined in three co-equal branches of government, serving as checks and balances on
each other. The actions taken to date by the President have seriously violated the Constitution, especially when the President says, "Article II
says, I can do whatever I want."
For the past several months, we have been investigating in our committees and litigating in the courts, so the House can gather all the relevant
facts and consider whether to exercise its full Article I powers, including a Constitutional power of the utmost gravity, approval of articles of
And this week, the President has admitted to asking the President of Ukraine to take actions which would benefit him politically. The action of
the - the actions of the Trump Presidency revealed dishonorable fact of the President's betrayal of his oath of office, betrayal of our national
security, and betrayal of the integrity of our elections.
Therefore, today, I'm announcing the House of Representatives is moving forward with an official impeachment inquiry. I'm directing our six
committees to proceed with their investigations under that umbrella of impeachment inquiry. The President must be held accountable. No one is
above the law.
Getting back to our founders, in the darkest days of the American Revolution, Thomas Paine wrote, "The times have found us." The times found
them to fight for and establish our democracy. The times have found us today, not to place ourselves in the same category of greatness as our
founders, but to place us in the urgency of protecting and defending our Constitution from all enemies, foreign and domestic. In the words of Ben
Franklin, "to keep our republic."
I thank our Chairmen - Chairman Nadler, Chairman Schiff - Chairman Nadler of Judiciary, Chairman Schiff of Intelligence, Chairman Engel of Foreign
Affairs, Chairman Cummings of Oversight - and Chairman Cummings, I've been in touch with constantly. He's a master of so much, but including
inspectors general and whistleblowers. Congressman Richie Neal of the Ways and Means Committee, Congresswoman Maxine Waters of the Financial Services
And I commend all of our members, our colleagues for their thoughtful, thoughtful approach to all of this, for their careful statements.
God bless them, and God bless America. Thank you all.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Madam Speaker, never before (inaudible) convicted by the Senate. What does this accomplish if the Senate doesn't--?
NOBILO: You've just been hearing from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi there, who has now announced that she is going to be formally launching an impeachment
inquiry into President Donald Trump. We've been expecting that news to come over the last few hours, given that Pelosi has been reticent for months to
launch any form of impeachment inquiry. This is very significant news.
So, to break all this down, let's bring in CNN Political Commentator, David Swerdlick and CNN White House Reporter, Stephen Collinson. Thank you both
for being with us.
David, let's start with you. Talk about the significance of Nancy Pelosi's remarks just then. She gave a very broad assessment when she spoke about
how the Trump administration undermined national security as well as protection for whistleblowers and harked back even to the founding
principles of America.
DAVID SWERDLICK, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Right.
NOBILO: What was most significant to you?
SWERDLICK: Good afternoon, Bianca. Yes, it is significant, both because anytime the House initiates an impeachment investigating or impeachment
proceedings, it's a very serious matter for the United States republic. This is not a criminal proceeding, but the Congress deciding whether or not
the President has committed high crimes and misdemeanors pursuant to our Constitution.
But as you said, Speaker Pelosi has been the one putting the brakes on this. Members of her caucus, members of - excuse me - several of the senior
Democratic committee chairs have wanted to move forward on this.
Previously, during the Mueller investigation, she has held them off as the Speaker and as the leader of the Democrats. Now with the new revelations
about President Trump allegedly offering or withholding military aid in order to get something back politically from the Ukrainian government, she
has allowed the caucus to move forward with this investigation and presumably will get to articles of impeachment.
She framed it in terms of her prior role on the Intelligence Committee and she framed it in terms of the founders' intent to have Congress be an equal
branch of government to the executive. A lot more is going to come in the next few days and the next few weeks.
NOBILO: Stephen, why would Nancy Pelosi do this right now? President Trump said that he is going to release the transcript from this phone call that's
been the focal point of the last 24, 48 hours with Zelensky. So why would she choose this moment before President Trump has released it?
STEPHEN COLLINSON, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: I think, Bianca, what we've seen in the last 24 hours or so is a political stampede towards--
COLLINSON: --opening an impeachment inquiry. What you've seen is some of the most vulnerable Democratic rule-makers, who won election in the midterm
elections in districts that Donald Trump won in 2016, they've moved towards the idea of impeaching the President.
One of Pelosi's reasons for not moving ahead with impeachment after the Mueller report was that she wanted to protect those lawmakers and therefore
protect her chances of keeping the House in the 2020 election. So that is, I think, the major reason why this has happened.
But if you look at exactly what she said, she is saying that the President has in recent days committed impeachable crimes, has abused his power. It
was significant that she didn't talk about the issue of whether the President had withheld $400 million of aid to Ukraine to force them to open
an investigation into Former Vice President Joe Biden.
She said that merely by pressuring a foreign leader as the President has admitted publicly he did, that in itself is an impeachable offense. So the
White House is going to come out with this transcript. Presumably they believe it will show there was no quid pro quo in terms of that aid. Nancy
Pelosi is saying that horse has already bolted. The impeachable offense is trying to get a foreign leader to interfere in a U.S. election.
NOBILO: David, can you explain to our viewers what the process is now? What happens next?
SWERDLICK: Yes, Bianca, so I'll remind our international viewers that for impeachment, first, the House of Representatives votes to draw up articles
of impeachment and impeach the President. Then, if that happens, it would go to the Senate to convict on those articles of impeachment. The House
essentially indicts and the Senate convicts.
Almost no one here expects the Republican-controlled Senate to convict on articles of impeachment, but the House is controlled by Democrats, and the
question now is, are there enough votes? And as Stephen said, there has been a political stampede of a number of Democrats on the fence just this
week. Are there enough votes in the House to impeach the President or indict him?
Remember that even though Democrats control, you need 218 votes as a majority in the House. Democrats have about 235 members in the House. So
you would need nearly all of the Democrats in the House to vote for some articles of impeachment. We don't know what those articles might be yet in
order to impeach and send it to the Senate.
NOBILO: Now, both of you have mentioned the political stampede in the last couple of days. Stephen, I'd like to ask you, what do you think it is about
the current controversy, the current whistleblower investigation that Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats find much more persuasive, especially when they
have an eye on public opinion on President Donald Trump's conduct with Russia in 2016?
COLLINSON: I think - and Pelosi alluded to this herself earlier on. And she said that this is a much more understandable, alleged offense than--
COLLINSON: --all of the labyrinthine goings on during the 2016 campaign and the question of whether the President obstructed justice, which were
contained in that massive Mueller report that was very difficult for even people who understand these things, lawyers, to actually understand and
What the House Speaker was essentially saying is that this is not just a question of President Trump's conduct, the current political calculations,
whether or not this would help the Democrats or hurt them. She basically was saying that the Democrats and her leadership, in particular, now has a
duty to history because what President Trump is supposed to have done is such a gross infringement of the Constitution and the principles. She was
quoting Benjamin Franklin, one of the founding fathers when she was saying, you have a republic if you could keep it.
I think one of the things preying on the minds of Democrats over the last few days has been the idea of, if they don't try to hold the President to
account now when he has admitted trying to get a foreign power to interfere in the next U.S. election, how do they constrain him in the future and what
lesson does that send for posterity? Can a future President be completely unfettered? And that's the kind of questions - that's the territory, the
grave constitutional territory that we've been taken into in the last few days.
NOBILO: Very serious indeed. Stephen Collinson, David Swerdlick, please do stay with us so that we can continue to unpack this breaking news.
We're going to take a quick break. But just before we do, I want to let our viewers know that President Donald Trump has just tweeted in the last
couple of minutes saying, "Such an important day at the United Nations, so much work and so much success, and the Democrats purposely had to ruin and
demean it with more breaking news witch-hunt garbage. So bad for our country."
We'll have much more for you on this breaking news. Please stay with us.
NOBILO: Welcome back to our breaking news coverage, where we are monitoring developments after the House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said that she's going
to launch an official impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump.
In the last few minutes, we've had three tweets from the President. I read the last one just before the break, but most recently, Donald Trump
tweeted, "They never even saw the transcript of the call. A total witch- hunt!" He's, of course, referring to the call between himself and the President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky, which is the subject of all of
Let's head to CNN's White House Correspondent, Kaitlan Collins now. She joins us from the United Nations, where the President is.
Kaitlan, what has the reaction been from the Republican Party, if we've had one yet, to this announcement by Nancy Pelosi and the idea that this
particular phone call, this relationship between President Trump and the President of Ukraine is the strongest argument yet for the President's
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, you heard the President earlier essentially putting this back, saying that they're trying
to do a redo of the Russia investigation by now, coming after him for this call with Ukraine.
And just a moment ago, he was tweeting in response to watching Nancy Pelosi make that announcement that they are going launch a formal impeachment
inquiry, though it's going to look like what you've seen over the last several months as far as how it comes down to the actual investigations
that the committees are doing.
But the President is frustrated because he's saying they haven't even seen the transcripts of the call with the President of Ukraine. That call has
come under such scrutiny lately, and he's saying that he can't believe essentially that they're moving forward with this formal announcement when
they haven't even seen the transcript yet.
The transcript the President says he's going to release the complete unredacted version tomorrow. We're not sure exactly when we're going to get
it, but that's when he's going to release it. But what we need to focus on when we see the President's firing off those criticisms is that it's not
just the transcript of this call that these Democrats and critics of the President have said they wanted to see.
Well, you heard from Nancy Pelosi as she was making that argument, as they want to see this complaint from the whistleblower as well because that's
what they feel like is obviously mandated by law, that's what they feel like is really going to get to the heart of the President's behavior during
these interactions where he was pressuring the Ukrainian President to investigate Joe Biden and his family.
Now, whether or not this moves the needle with Republicans or if they're going to continue to say that the President didn't do anything wrong here,
it was all above board, is another question. Once you actually get to look at the transcript tomorrow, it will really put it into context just exactly
what it was the President said to the President of Ukraine, whether or not he implicitly or explicitly talked about that aid money, which we've been
told so far.
It wasn't explicit this - the President says there's no quid pro quo. But that's what they'll be waiting to see, when is this coming out, and
watching to see what exactly the Republican reaction is though. They're already seeing the President's so far in Twitter.
NOBILO: Kaitlan, it's important what you mentioned. In fact, the scope of this is beyond the transcript, which President Trump is referring to. But
if you could, can you remind our viewers and give an account for President Trump's version of events when it comes to this phone call and what he's
told us over the last couple of days?
COLLINS: So, essentially, they spoke at the end of July. The President has since confirmed that yes, during that call, he did bring up Joe Biden and
his son and pushed a probe into his son's business activities while Joe Biden was Vice President. That's something the President has already
So when that comes out in the transcript tomorrow, it's not going to be exactly a surprise, but that comes after the White House denied that the
President had pressured the Ukrainian President to look into him. And of course, the larger context of this is whether or not the President
threatened to withhold aid, a military aid going to Ukraine in order to protect them from Russia in order for them to investigate Joe Biden.
Just the days before this call, that's when the President directed his Chief of Staff, Mick Mulvaney, to tell the Pentagon to freeze those funds
as they were doing a review that they didn't offer a lot of context for Pentagon officials why exactly they were withholding that aid. And they
withheld it for several weeks, including during the President's phone call and up until you saw this whistleblower make this complaint.
And then, days later, we saw the White House release this aid, which surprised officials who said they were confident the President was going to
block it. That's what's at the center of this. And that's what's leading to those Democratic accusations that the President is abusing his power,
trying to get a foreign leader to investigate his political rival.
And today, he's brushing off these growing calls for impeachment, saying that they're just worried because he's leading in the polls and they think
the only way he cannot win in the next election is if they impeach him, though, of course, most of the polls have actually shown those Democratic -
the contenders, the ones who are leading the race, all in head-to-head matchups with the President, have been defeating him in a hypothetical
NOBILO: Kaitlan Collins at the U.N. in New York, thank you.
We'll be right back after a short break with more of our breaking news on Nancy Pelosi launching a formal inquiry - an impeachment inquiry into
President Donald Trump. And we're still awaiting response from the Republican Party. We'll be right back.
NOBILO: Welcome back. Let's get straight back to our breaking news and bring in CNN Political Commentator, David Swerdlick and CNN White House
Reporter Stephen Collinson.
Stephen, let's start with you and talk about what lessons the Democrats may have learned from some of the debate around impeachment with President
Trump and Russia in the 2016 election campaign and how you think they're approaching this differently from the early stages of this formal inquiry.
COLLINSON: Well, I think the Democrats have, first of all, learned that impeachment is not necessarily a very popular concept in the country, at
least until this latest drama. The polls show that a majority of Americans weren't in favor of impeaching President Trump following the Russia
investigation. Even though many people believe that the Mueller report did show clear evidence of obstruction of justice by the President on a number
So this is not without risk for the Democrats. After all, they're going into this without, presumably, knowing what exactly is in that telephone
call, which is the subject of the transcript the President will release on Wednesday. They don't know exactly, presumably, what the whistleblower
complaint is all about because the White House hasn't allowed that to go forward. So they are also going into dangerous political territory.
There's also been a big debate in the United States about how this will play out politically both for the President ahead of the 2020 election and
the Democrats. Some people believe in the Democratic Party that the Republicans were hurt back in the 1990s by impeaching Bill Clinton. He
wasn't convicted in a Senate trial.
On the other hand, the Republicans won the Presidential election in 2000. And I think you can argue that Al Gore, the Democratic candidate, was
hampered by the hangover of Bill Clinton's impeachment. So this is a very, very rare thing. Only two U.S. presidents have been impeached fully.
And I don't think anyone can really tell you right now if this is going to play out, if this is going to harm the Democrats, if it's going to help, in
fact, President Trump by igniting his political base or making it easier for him to win re-election in 14 months time. So these are very, very
uncharted and risky waters for both sides.
NOBILO: David, Stephen mentions how this is not without risk. Rightly so. And it does seem that it's crucial to Democrats - I've been listening to
some representatives today speaking about taking the public with them in all of this. And it does seem like the American public has a fairly high
bar when it comes to the threshold for impeachment.
What is it about this particular incident that you think makes the Democrats believe that this will make that grade?
SWERDLICK: Well, Bianca, I agree with everything that Stephen just said. And I will just simply add that in contrast to the Mueller investigation
where Democrats - and some Democrats in Congress, I think, thought that maybe once the results came out, the public would come further along
without members of Congress persuading the public, and then there were still polls showing that the public was hesitant about impeachment.
Democrats now perhaps are looking at this and saying, look, if we have a constitutional duty to impeach and we believe high crimes and misdemeanors
have been committed, then we have to go out and make the affirmative case. And up until this point, you've seen, again, Speaker Pelosi hesitant to
take her caucus down that road, but now clearly, based on that speech, she is taking her caucus down that road.
I'll also add that you have a situation here where, as we were talking about before the break, this is something that's a little easier to
explain. The idea - although it's alleged and although we haven't seen the transcript yet, the idea that the President abused his power by trying to
convince a foreign leader to help him get dirt on a political opponent is something that you can consolidate into a pretty concise nugget versus all
of the allegations that were in the Mueller report were hard to unpack, and it was a situation where very few people in the public actually read the
And that was one of the things that I think Democrats this time are saying, look, we're not going to go down the road of hearings and reports and
expecting people to read. We're going to make our case and hope the public comes with us.
NOBILO: Finally, to you, Stephen, we're getting a sense already of the vague outlines of the narratives here for the Democrats and Republicans
respectively. The Democrats, obviously, talking about the fact that in order to uphold American values and do what they're constitutionally
expected to do and uphold the rule of law, it's necessary they do this. Donald Trump, in the last nine minutes, tweeting Presidential harassment
and about this is a witch-hunt. Just flesh out a bit more what you think the narratives are going to be here from either camp.
COLLINSON: Right. And this will, of course, underline the fact that this is a political process, not a criminal process, and you have to move political
opinion in an impeachment fight.
I think, from the Democrats' point of view, they believe that the 2016 election was interfered with my President Trump and they lost the election
as a result. Now they are sitting here and looking potentially and allegedly at the President interfering in the 2020 election, and it's
impossible for them to sit there and allow that to happen.
From Trump's side, you're already seeing the bones of his anti-impeachment campaign. He's saying this is a witch-hunt, they tried to get me with the
Mueller report, they couldn't, they couldn't prove anything, my Presidency is such a success, the economy is doing so well that they already know that
they can't beat me in 2020, so they're trying to get rid of me before then.
It's going to be a very clear political fight. And just in the last few moments, after Pelosi's announcement, we're seeing the terrain of that
fight being laid out by both sides.
NOBILO: Yes, the battle line is seemingly already being drawn. Stephen Collinson and David Swerdlick, thank you very much to both of you.
We'll be right back with more on our breaking news. Do stay with us on CNN.
NOBILO: Welcome back. No one is above the law. With those words, U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced a formal impeachment inquiry into
President Donald Trump, just a short time ago.
Pelosi says Mr. Trump's phone call with the Ukrainian president, marked breach of constitutional responsibilities. And she accused him of
undermining U.S. national security.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NANCY PELOSI, U.S. HOUSE SPEAKER: The actions taken to date by the president have seriously violated the Constitution, especially when the
president says, Article 2 says, I can do whatever I want.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NOBILO: President Trump is responding on Twitter, saying Democrats ruined his day at the United Nations with, quote, "Witch Hunt garbage". I want to
break down what impeachment means.
Article II of the U.S. Constitution provides for the removal of a president from office on impeachment for and conviction of treason, bribery or other
high crimes and misdemeanors.
Here's how it works, the U.S. House of Representatives has the power to impeach the president with a simple majority vote. That's comparable to
bringing charges or indicting the president.
The process then moves to the Senate where a trial is held. Which, with the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court presiding, now that takes a two-
thirds vote by the Senate to convict the president. If convicted, the president is then removed from office and the vice president is put in
Let's bring in the CNN Political Analyst, Larry Sabato, via Skype from Charlottesville, Virginia and back to back with our CNN White House
Reporter, Stephen Collinson.
Larry, great to have you on the program to discuss this history being made in front of our eyes. Just talk us through how defining a moment this is
in American politics, and particularly for President Donald Trump.
LARRY SABATO, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, this will be the fourth serious impeachment inquiry or vote in American history. And judging by the other
three this is going to be a signal moment, because it doesn't happen very often.
Now, it's never actually resulted, at least by vote of a direct removal of a president, but Nixon did resign simply because he was going to be
impeached and convicted and everybody agreed on that, including Nixon.
So, you never know what's coming. My personal guess is that House with the Democratic majority will eventually impeach him. I can't tell you exactly
what the articles will say, but he'll probably be impeached. Then it goes to the Senate.
You need 67 votes out of a 100, and there are 53 Republicans. And we all know by now, that Republicans are very, very hesitant to challenge
They do not want his base to turn on them when they run for reelection. So the chances that he will actually be ousted are minimal. Now, the voters
can oust him in November 2020, but I doubt the Senate ever does.
NOBILO: Now, Stephen, let's talk about 2020, because this looks like it's setting (ph) up to be the biggest election issue next year. What do you
make of that? And how is that going to play for both the Democrats and the Republicans?
COLLISON: Right. We're going to have an election unfolding of the same time as an impeachment drama, a toxic combination if there ever was one.
I think what the most likely scenario is -- and people on both sides of this argument understand this, is it will electrify the Democratic base.
You have had Liberal Democratic voters who've been asking themselves, "Well, why did we win the House in the midterm elections if we can't hold
this president to account?"
Many people who came to Washington in 2018 after the midterm elections believe they were sent here precisely to constrain the power of the
I think one of the big fears of Nancy Pelosi and the reason why she was reticent to go down this route before was the counter theory that Donald
Trump's base is going to be absolutely consumed by this issue, and it will drive up his turnout in 2020, however this turns out.
Now, the middle is going to be the question. I'm sure there are some Republican senators. Larry would be the expert on this, but someone like
Cory Gardner from Colorado who is in a real fight for reelection who may not welcome the opportunity to vote to either convict or quit the
So, it will definitely play into the math of the House elections and the Senate elections and, of course, the presidential election in 2020. I
mean, you could end up with a scenario that the President Donald Trump could win election after being impeached.
And that sort of begs the question of he would then consider himself almost uncheckable in the checks and balances of the American system. So there's
all sorts of stunning scenarios that could develop here.
NOBILO: Larry, how concerned would you be about the corrosive impact of having this impeachment inquiry and the election running concurrently?
As Stephen said, it's obviously going to electrify the base of both the Democrats and the Republicans, it's going to excite massive amounts of
passions and unleash things that we can't really predict into the American political forum.
SABATO: Yes. The only thing you can predict, and I think Stephen would agree with this, is a massive, massive turnout in 2020. There aren't going
to be many Republicans or Democrats or Independents for that matter who won't show up.
Do I worry about the corrosive effect? Well, we have seen corrosion pretty consistently during the Trump administration, maybe earlier than that, but
especially during the Trump presidency.
This is going to make it worse. It's going to polarize us further. We are already horribly divided and people are quietly worried about where it goes
from here. And I don't even want to say where it might go, but I think it's possible that it's going to get a lot worse.
NOBILO: Larry Sabato and Stephen Collinson, thank you for joining us to break down on breaking news. For our viewers, we'll be right back after a
short break. We will take you live to Capitol Hill.
[17:40:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
NOBILO: Welcome back. A quick update on the big story that's being breaking this hour. The U.S. House of Representatives is opening an
impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi made the announcement just a short time ago. She's demanding more information about the president's conversations with
the Ukrainian president.
Conversations that may violate the law against seeking election help from a foreign power. Earlier today, Democratic presidential candidate, Joe Biden
made his voice heard on this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, FORMER U.S. VICE PRESIDENT AND U.S. DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If he continues to obstruct Congress and flaunt the law, Donald
Trump will leave Congress in my view no choice, but to initiate impeachment. That would be tragedy, but a tragedy of his own making.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NOBILO: President Trump is responding on Twitter saying, Democrats ruined his day at the United Nations with, quote, "Witch Hunt garbage".
Let's bring in our CNN Political Analyst, Larry Sabato via Skype. He's in Charlottesville for us. Larry, let's talk about the persuasiveness of this
argument as far as the Democrats are concerned.
That there's been -- it's been said over the last couple of years that it's so unlikely that President Trump would be able to be impeached even if an
inquiry was launch. So what is it about these circumstances that you think are persuading the Democrats that this is worthwhile?
SABATO: That's a very good question. And some Democratic strategists and senior leadership Democrats are asking that very question are we doing this
for nothing? Will we end up hurting ourselves?
Because they all admit there's no way the Senate is actually going to convict Trump and oust him from office. I could come up with two answers.
The first is that, the Democratic Party base has become just as angry as the Trump base about different things and that the Democratic base elected
a Democratic House of Representatives to limit Donald Trump.
They've been pushing for impeachment since day one. They thought there was already enough by the time this Congress was sworn in and Trump had been in
for two years.
So, they pushed hard. They managed to get two-thirds of the Democratic caucus to endorse impeachment, and that was before Nancy Pelosi said what
she did today.
I suspect that it's nearly unanimous if not, unanimous in the House Democratic caucus. So that's one reason. The other reason is a very
It really does hurt a president in history, it is a very black mark on a presidency, to be impeached even if you're not convicted. Because there's
usually some justification for it and historians look into and often find more once a president is out of office.
NOBILO: Is the messaging from the Democrats consistent on this? It struck me that Joe Biden who obviously has said from the beginning of his campaign
that he believes that American values are under threat.
Now, when we heard from Nancy Pelosi she was talking about the founding fathers. She was discussing Thomas Paine and Benjamin Franklin. Is that
how you think this is going to be framed?
SABATO: It will be framed that way by Democrats because it's high minded. And that's what you do when you cite the founders. You try and find in a
historically compelling reason to justify what you're doing.
Whether the American public sees it that way, I don't know. Now, Democrats will cheer it. Republicans will boo it. There really aren't many
Independents left who haven't taken upsides during the Trump presidency.
So, it may not affect Trump's ratings or the Congress' ratings very much, it will intensify the support and opposition that both of them have.
NOBILO: Larry Sabato, thank you very much for joining us from Charlottesville. Let's go now to our CNN Congressional Correspondent,
Sunlen Serfaty, who joins me live from Capitol Hill.
Sunlen, what is the mood like there? What is it -- what are the Democrats that you've been speaking to -- what are they saying about this?
SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well Bianca, it certainly is a moment for House Democrats, a significant moment. And I don't think
the gravity is lost on anyone.
[17:45:05] Democrats leaving the meeting that I was just standing outside acknowledging that this is a significant shift for them. The fact that you
now have the Speaker of the House doing something that she previously had been so reluctant to do, to call this an impeachment inquiry.
And to say that with the full force of her office behind her and really laying out in a closed door meeting according to Democrats in the room what
the next steps are.
The fact that she will empower the six committees that were already investigating President Trump to go forward, but under the umbrella of this
impeachment inquiry and really Pelosi laying out, significance at the moment, saying, "Here we are. This is a moment of truth".
That a direct quote according to a Democrat in the room. A lot of questions though of course about what the next steps actually look like
once they start taking those steps.
Timeline, a lot of Democrats filtering out wondering how quickly this potentially can move. Congresswoman Ilhan Omar saying the -- that Pelosi
said her intention was to move swiftly through this, but of course, the definition of swiftly so important here as Democrats certainly don't want
to lose momentum, Bianca.
NOBILO: Sunlen Serfaty on Capitol Hill for us. Thank you. We'll be right back with more on our breaking news and more developments live from
NOBILO: Welcome back. By monitoring events in Washington where House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has announced a formal impeachment inquiry.
But meantime, we'll turn to a political crisis closer to home here in the U.K. Boris Johnson will be speaking in the coming hours at the United
Nations after arguably his most humiliating day since becoming prime minister.
The U.K. Supreme Court delivered a huge blow to Mr. Johnson's Brexit strategy on Tuesday by striking down and nullifying his decision to suspend
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LADY HALE, U.K. SUPREME COURT PRESIDENT: The decision to advise her majesty to prorogue parliament was unlawful because it had the effect of
frustrating or preventing the ability of parliament to carry out its constitutional functions without reasonable justification.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NOBILO: The prime minister's office says that Mr. Johnson has spoken to the queen by phone from New York. At the U.N. earlier, he was taking
questions with the U.S. president when he insisted he will not change course on Brexit.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BORIS JOHNSON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: Let me be absolutely clear, we respect the judiciary in our country. We respect the court. I disagree
profoundly with what they had to say.
I think it was entirely right to go ahead with a plan for a queen's speech. This is the longest -- we haven't had a queen's speech for 400 years. And
frankly, I think we need to get on with Brexit.
[17:50:06] That's the overwhelming view of the British people whether they're ready to leave or remain. They want to get this thing done by
October the 31st, and that's what we're going to do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NOBILO: With the court nullifying parliament suspension is back to work now for lawmakers. The Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow says
he's summoning MP's to return, Wednesday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN BERCOW, SPEAKER, U.K. HOUSE OF COMMONS: I have instructed the house authorities to prepare, not the recall, the prorogation was unlawful and is
void to prepare for the resumption of the business of the House of Commons.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NOBILO: Members are getting (ph) ready for that resumption of business. Conservative MP Tom Tugendhat posted a picture on Twitter from inside
Parliament today, with the words, "We're sitting."
You can see in there on the famous green benches. And Labor leader Jeremy Corbyn delivered a fiery speech to his Party Conference in Brighton saying
that Boris Johnson's time as prime minister should immediately come to an end.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEREMY CORBYN, BRITISH LABOR PARTY LEADER: The government will be held to account for what it has done. Boris Johnson has been found to have misled
the country. This unelected prime minister should now resign.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NOBILO: Joining me now to analyze this stunning decision by the U.K. Supreme Court is Robert Craig who is with me to discuss the ruling and its
implications. He's a researcher of Law at Bristol University.
And we were talking about this earlier that can be a lot of hyperbole when it comes to stunning judgements like this from politicians. How much
trouble is Boris Johnson really in as a result of this judgment?
ROBERT CRAIG, RESEARCHER OF LAW, BRISTOL UNIVERSITY: Well, legally speaking it's pretty stunning to us as well. It was -- the first stunning
moment was the fact that it was unanimous. Nobody expected that.
Second stunning moment was that, they unwound the entire process as if it had never happened. That was pretty unexpected as well. But in terms of
legal trouble for this, not at all. It's not a criminal offense.
The government all the time is found to have made mistakes of legal process and immigration decisions and all kinds of home office decisions.
So, in that sense, being found to have breached the law can be spun by opposition politicians, and you can understand them do doing that, but it's
a daily occurrence in terms of breaching complicated legal rules.
It's nothing to do with criminal law. It's just rules that they've been set down and they made a mistake and the courts have said, you've breach
that particular set of rules. Go back and do it again or whatever other consequences.
So, we've got to do a sharp distinction between breaking the law, yes, and making a mistake of legal process, which is what this is as an act of
NOBILO: So, not unusual then for some members of the government to be in this sort hot water, but very unusual for a prime minister --
CRAIG: Oh, that's definitely true.
NOBILO: -- in distinction.
CRAIG: Definitely true. So, you know, we see immigration is the last gate it gets on. But whether it's just -- it's so complex and arduous and it
just leads to huge numbers of judicial review applications and there's significant number of the rules to be to have made a legal mistake of some
Prime minister much less common and particularly in something so centrally and controversial. That's what makes this not very, very different but
just technically. It's not along (ph) legal trouble, which was your original question.
NOBILO: And people often talk about the impact that Brexit is having on the unwritten British -- uncodified British Constitution.
CRAIG: I'm really glad you said that.
NOBILO: I'm correcting myself there. And people correct me on Twitter if I didn't. What impact will this have in the longer term?
CRAIG: The longer term impact of this case and from a legal perspective is that -- it's not Elliott, actually, professor of Public Law at Cambridge
said that he opposed it, it's just published which is well worth looking at.
This puts together various aspects of things, all of which have been sort of progressing at times and they've all coalesced in this step forward.
So, depends on how you look at it.
He takes a view that this is not that radical innovation if you put them all together, but he says on another view this is why a unanimous powerful
Divisional Court decision, a week ago can be overturned 11 mill (ph) by a Supreme Court.
Now, you've also got the more senior Inner House of Scotland, more senior than the Divisional Court that went (ph) the other way. So, there were
straws in the wind if you want to put it that way. That was a serious judgment as well.
But there's -- there's a lot of conflicting views going on here, and, you know, we've now got unanimous judgment from the Supreme Court. That's got
to be taken -- that's obviously the law. So, we've got to look at that and look at the implications of that.
NOBILO: And it seems that the scope of the courts being outlined as it has been by implication has limited the perceived authority or power of the
CRAIG: Completely agree. So one of the things that's I think hard to disagree with is the claim that this decision arguably places into the
judicial purview, the judicial supervision, things that were previously thought to be outside judicial supervision.
So, prorogation was one of the ones that was thought to be outside that and the Divisional Court agreed with that, Scottish who didn't (ph), but there
were others in the sort of category of known as -- sort of the rascal lists after a list that was made in 1984 when they first decided judges could
look at any prerogatives (ph).
And what happened is, they chipped away, chipped away, chipped away over time, but they've sort of reached a boundary, and this case must draw that
boundary into question. So. you're starting to wonder whether there are other prerogatives (ph) that could be sacked into the net.
NOBILO: Robert Craig, thank you very much for joining us. Momentous day in the United Kingdom with the Supreme Court ruling against Boris Johnson
that he acted unlawfully in suspending parliament.
And across the Atlantic as Nancy Pelosi has launched a formal inquiry into the impeachment of President Donald Trump. That's THE BRIEF for today.
I'm Bianca Nobilo. And "YOUR WORLD TODAY" is up next. There's much more on the impeachment inquiry just announced into Donald Trump.