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Pelosi Announces Formal Impeachment Inquiry; Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) is Interviewed on Impeachment Inquiry. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired September 25, 2019 - 08:30   ET




ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: President Trump is now just the fourth president in American history to face an official impeachment inquiry. He joins Andrew Johnson, who was impeached, then acquitted in the Senate. Richard Nixon (INAUDIBLE) impeached and Bill Clinton, also impeached and acquitted in the Senate (ph).

(INAUDIBLE) with Carl Bernstein, Watergate journalist, author and a CNN political analyst. Also Joe Lockhart, former Clinton White House press secretary and a CNN political commentator.

Carl, give us the 30,000 foot view here of what happened yesterday.

CARL BERNSTEIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I think that perhaps we have a new dynamic and some ground is shifting.

Two things have happened. One, that Nancy Pelosi now is the face of the Democratic Party, not the candidates, not Warren, not Biden, but for the next few months, Nancy Pelosi, a very formidable opponent of President Nixon, is really going to be the personification of the Democrats and their constitutional argument that we have a corrupt president who has admitted his own corruption of the electoral process, who has taken the country somewhere where it has never been before, in encouraging a foreign power to undermine our system of free elections in this country.

And it seems to me, even by the reaction of the Senate yesterday, in finally agreeing to a resolution joined by Democrats, that there's recognition on the Republican side in private that the president himself has set up this mudslide that he is now covered in himself, along with Mr. Giuliani. And it's very different, this mudslide, in terms of how the president is being defined legally, and that he no longer may be able to set the terms of debate as he did in the Mueller investigation. And maybe in a minute we can talk about that.

BERMAN: You know, it is interesting because CNN has some new reporting that he's not happy with the turn that this has taken. Jim Acosta reporting that he, you know, doesn't want impeachment. And Kaitlan Collins reporting, Joe Lockhart, that yesterday the president called Nancy Pelosi to try to sort of diffuse this whole thing. So the idea that the president's been itching for impeachment may not be the case. As someone who's been on the inside of a White House under

impeachment, can you understand that?

JOE LOCKHART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, I think -- and I think that narrative was kind of silly, that the -- Trump was trying to goad the Democrats into impeaching him. I think the president was trying to stonewall, and that was his -- that was his strategy.

I think, you know, impeachment kind of takes every -- all of the political cards and throws them up in the air and allows for a new dynamic to be set, as Carl -- as Carl was saying.

The problem -- and I think Trump instinctually gets this -- is, he -- his orbit, and himself, is not prepared to fight this battle. You know, the single best thing that I think Trump could do strategically would be to step back and say, they're playing politics, I'm going to focus on getting the economy going, immigration. I'm going to do something maybe on gun control. He can't do it. He just, you know, his pathos doesn't allow him.

So he's -- he now is in a war -- a new war using the weapons that he's been using for two and a half years that haven't been very effective at all.

CAMEROTA: Carl, you know, the word that Senator Cory Booker just used -- and it's the word that struck me that actually popped into my head yesterday over and over, which was sad. You know, yes, of course, some Democrats will feel that they are now going to vanquish the president or have some sort of blood lust for this fight, but this is a moment in U.S. history that involves the entire country and it is sad that this is where an election has ended up.

BERNSTEIN: It's not where the election has ended up. The election ended up with Donald Trump as the president of the United States and the legitimate president of the United States because his election was certified by the Electoral College.


What this represents is, I think, in a much more clear manner than most Americans have been able to see and comprehend until this moment that this president has corrupted his own presidency, has corrupted the office that he has no interest in the rule of law, no interest in the Constitution of the United States, no interest in the institutions of democracy, no interest in bringing the people of this country together, but rather to feed this own base for his own personal gain, has been throughout his presidency his objective. And it's becoming clearer and clearer, and under this impeachment microscope, without quite so partisan, I believe, I think we're going to see perhaps a little more open-mindedness on the part of citizens to look at this as a constitutional corruption question, not as a partisan issue.

And I think that's where the speaker, Nancy Pelosi, yesterday, was eloquent in a way talking about Ben Franklin, about, are we going to have a republic or are we going to have a monarchy? This is a new kind of language in this debate about who our president is and about who Donald Trump is. And he does not stand up well in that kind of rhetorical debate.

And, once again, he has covered himself with mud by his own admission about what he has done in the electoral process here. His object was to interfere in the electoral process by trying to get the Democrats to nominate perhaps their weakest candidate in his view, while he attacked, used a foreign power to attack the frontrunner, Joseph Biden.

Something similar happened in Watergate where Nixon wanted to run against his weakest opponent, George McGovern, and tried, through political espionage and sabotage, to run against McGovern, not against his strongest opponent, Edwin Muskee (ph). The same kind of integrity breaking of our electoral process, the most basic process that's essential to our democracy by an out of control president of the United States.

BERMAN: So, Joe, again, you know, you helped run the war room in the Clinton White House during impeachment. What are you seeing today? Alisyn has been suggesting that all of a sudden there's some responsiveness to the White House now that the i-word is being thrown around. They're promising transcripts. Now, we don't know what they'll be. They're promising whistleblower complaints.

CAMEROTA: I just thought that was striking after all of the stonewalling, after forcing Democrats to go through the court process for everything else for three years, yesterday was different.

LOCKHART: Yes, because they -- they think it's real and I think they have -- it took them a couple of days, but they figured out the gravity.

And it seems to me it's fairly simple, it's a fairly simple political calculation, which is, I think the public looked backwards on the Mueller report and said, all that stuff happened. And, you know what, we're smart enough to figure out whether we want to vote for Donald Trump in the next election. It will be a free and fair election. You know, I'll vote for him or I won't vote for him. I can -- I can forgive them for that.

This is fundamentally different. This is Donald Trump saying, I'm going to screw around with the next election. I'm going to use the power of the presidency to influence this election in a way that's unethical and probably illegal. That's very different. I think they get that. And I think you see -- I mean can you imagine a month ago the president calling Nancy Pelosi and basically saying, can we please work this out? Please.

They are woefully unprepared. You talked about the war room. The president's communication apparatus, which, you know, during the Clinton impeachment, was an important part of his defense, very important part of his defense, is nonexistent. It is his Twitter account. They're going to need a whole lot more than that.

CAMEROTA: Joe Lockhart, Carl Bernstein, great to have both of you with all of your historical analysis for us. Thank you very much.

BERMAN: All right, now here is what to watch on top of all of this today.


ON SCREEN TEXT: 10:15 a.m. ET, House Democrats speak in D.C.

2:15 p.m. ET, Trump meets with Ukraine's president.

4:00 p.m. ET, Trump holds news conference in NY.


CAMEROTA: OK, up next, we're going to speak with Congresswoman Maxine Waters. She is one of the committee chairs who has now been tasked with investigating President Trump. What changes for her today now that there's this official impeachment inquiry?


We'll be with her momentarily. She's hydrating.


CAMEROTA: All right, President Trump has said that he will release the transcript of that call with Ukraine's president today. Two sources also tell CNN the White House also plans to turn over the whistleblower complaint to Congress. All of this comes as the newly launched former impeachment inquiry is now underway.

Joining us now is Democratic Congresswoman Maxine Waters. She chairs the Financial Services Committee, one of the six committees working on potential articles of impeachment.

Congresswoman, I know it's a busy morning for you. Thank you very much for joining us.


So you have been investigating President Trump's financial dealings for months now. So what changes for you today?

REP. MAXINE WATERS (D-CA): Well, what changes for all of us is the fact that Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the House of Representatives, has now formalized an impeachment inquiry, which means that we will continue to do the investigations that we've done. We will probably have more resources dedicated to the investigations. We will probably speed up the work that is being done. Perhaps this will send a message to the court where we have issued subpoenas and they have been re resisted by the Trump lawyers. Maybe the court will see now the importance of what we're doing and why we have to move forward and expedite more of the work that is being done.


WATERS: And so a lot of things have changed.

But more than that, we have the majority of the Democratic caucus that supports moving forward with an impeachment inquiry.

CAMEROTA: Well, I mean, what you just touched on is what I wanted to ask you. You have subpoenaed the president's bank records or -- and it's tied up in court.

Is that for real? Is it true that now that there's an official impeachment inquiry, that the courts will fast track it, or are you just hoping that that's what will happen?

WATERS: Well, I don't know. Of course, certainly, I cannot speak for the courts. The courts, you know, have their own way of doing things. And I cannot speak for them. But there's lots -- lots more coming from all six of our committees, whether it is the Intelligence Committee or the Foreign Affairs Committee or the Ways and Means Committee. This president has clearly defined himself in so many ways, disrespected the Constitution of the United States, embraced Putin. Seventeen of our intelligence agencies told us that they absolutely have absolutely discovered that this president was involved with and knew about what was going on with Putin.


WATERS: More than that, they did their investigation --

CAMEROTA: I mean, but, as you know, Mueller -- that -- nothing came -- you know, the Mueller report, I think it's fair to say, did not deliver what Democrats were hoping for. And so I think -- but I think that you raised --

WATERS: Well, yes. No, that is not true. That -- that is not true. Don't forget, there was ample information there for obstruction of justice. Ample information. If you're referring to the collusion part of it, it was not as strong, but there's still a lot more to come about collusion, yes.

CAMEROTA: Well -- well, meaning what, about Russia or about Ukraine?

WATERS: Both, because when you talk about Russia, you have to bring in Ukraine. But, don't forget, Manafort had a contract with and worked with the Ukraine. And so there's a lot there with both of those.

But when you talk about what Mueller did, certainly that report was not conclusive about collusion. But it gave us ample information about obstruction of justice, referring back to Comey and some of the other things that the president has done that certainly is obstruction of justice.

CAMEROTA: Well, I think that you raise an interesting question. And that is you now -- I mean let's talk about what you do control. You now are tasked, along with five other committee chairs, with presenting articles of impeachment from what you've discovered in your Financial Services Committee to the Judiciary chair, Jerry Nadler.

And so, will this impeachment inquiry involve what you're suggesting, which is more questions about Russia or Paul Manafort or the president's Deutsche Bank account or financial services, or will this be contained to what we've all just experienced for the past few days, which is Ukraine political pressure?

WATERS: Oh, no, the articles of impeachment, should they come about, will include any number of things that this president has been involved with. And so all six of the committees will be getting together and we will go over the work that each of these committees have done, and then we will prioritize these actions that the president has taken. And so we will collectively decide what will go into an impeachment resolution, for example. It will be the work of all six committees. It could be that two of those items will come from one committee, three of those items could come from one committee, but we will all be at the table making that decision before we transfer that over to the Judiciary Committee.

CAMEROTA: We've talked about -- we've heard, I should say, that this will be fast-tracked. What does that mean? You'll present this in the next days, weeks, months?

WATERS: I don't have a timeframe for you, but it's going to move very quickly. This is not something that's going to drag out for a long period of time. We have made a decision. It has been formalized. The six committees are prepared to point out where they think this should go in terms of what items should be included in an impeachment resolution.


And we will be working to get this done as quickly as possible.

CAMEROTA: Congresswoman Maxine Waters, we really appreciate you taking the time to explain all of this to us today on NEW DAY.

WATERS: Thank you very much.

CAMEROTA: Thanks for being here.


Oh, no, I'll take this one.

WATERS: You're welcome.

BERMAN: Unless your name is John.

CAMEROTA: I'll take this one because this is my specialty.

Royal surprise from Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. We'll show you what it is.

BERMAN: Ooh, I'm intrigued.



CAMEROTA: OK, we have an important royal update this morning.

BERMAN: I think actually we need this, this morning.

CAMEROTA: We do need this.

Barbie Archie making his first public appearance. Look at this baby. Look at how cute he is. This is on the family's royal tour of Africa.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle finally showing me their baby. OK, it took them four months.

BERMAN: They've owed this to you.

CAMEROTA: They -- they owe us this.

This -- it took four months to meet this baby and now the baby gets to meet one of the heroes of the apartheid movement who is Archbishop Desmond Tutu. And they joked that it's arch, meaning Archie, right? That's --

BERMAN: I get it.

CAMEROTA: You get it.

Now, look at this. OK. That's Prince Harry as a baby on the left with his mother, Diana, of course. And that's Prince Archie on the right. They look extremely similar.

BERMAN: I mean more than just all babies look similar, in the eyes.

CAMEROTA: Well, it also looks like me. I mean that does look like my baby photo also, which I think would suggest that maybe Prince Harry is my dad. Is that what that's supposed --

BERMAN: That would confuse a lot of your feelings. Let me just put it that way.

CAMEROTA: Would -- that would be confusing.

BERMAN: All right, we are monitoring developments this morning, waiting on some version of the transcript of the phone call between the president of the United States and the leader of Ukraine. How complete will it be? What form will it take? Will we hear from the whistle-blower? We have new developments, next.