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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER
House Approves Public Impeachment Hearings. Aired 4-4:30p ET
Aired October 31, 2019 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: That is it for me. Have safe and wonderful Halloweens, if you're heading out.
I'm Brooke Baldwin. Let's go to Washington.
"THE LEAD with JAKE TAPPER" starts right now.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: So, for those keeping score, D.C. has presidential impeachments far more often than World Series wins.
THE LEAD starts right now.
Breaking today, the House of Representatives officially votes to proceed with an impeachment inquiry into President Trump, the historic vote sending the investigation into a whole new phase and President Trump deeper into crisis.
Senator Mitch McConnell has a message for President Trump: Stop attacking your fellow Republicans, because your presidency could depend upon them.
Plus, two critical court hearings to decide whether key impeachment witnesses close to President Trump can keep their secret conversations secret.
Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.
We begin with the politics lead, a historic day on Capitol Hill, with the first time vote in the House of Representatives related to the impeachment inquiry into President Trump.
House Democrats voting to approve a resolution to formalize the impeachment inquiry process. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi today presiding as every Democrat who voted approved the measure, except for two, both from districts Trump won.
Not a single Republican voted for the resolution, which lays out the process for public hearings, the release of deposition transcripts, and allows Republicans to call witnesses and issue subpoenas if the Democratic chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Adam Schiff, and Jerry Nadler of Judiciary, go along with them. And if not, it does allow for full committee votes.
The resolution also says that the House Intelligence Committee will ultimately write a report with its findings and recommendations regarding the potential impeachment of President Trump.
CNN's Phil Mattingly kicks off our coverage now from Capitol Hill.
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): On this vote, the yeas are 232, the nays are 196.
PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): With that drop of the gavel, the House entering a new phase of its impeachment inquiry, one exceedingly likely, aides say, to end up with the impeachment of President Donald Trump.
Democrats today holding the first official vote on the matter, a resolution to establish official procedures for that process, a vote almost entirely along party lines, with no Republican supporting it and two Democrats voting against, those two Democrats crossing the aisle from areas Trump handily won in the 2016 election.
REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): Today, the country just witnessed the only bipartisan vote on that floor was against.
MATTINGLY: The vote determined how the House Intelligence Committee will hold public hearings moving forward and allows Republicans to request witnesses to be called, but it does not grant them subpoena power, unless Democrats agree.
Republicans today blasting their colleagues.
REP. STEVE SCALISE (R-LA): Clearly, there are people that we serve with that don't like the results of the 2016 election.
MATTINGLY: Calling the inquiry a sham.
SCALISE: When you look at this Soviet-style process, it shows you that they don't really want to get to the truth. They want to remove a sitting president.
MATTINGLY: Despite calling for and now getting a full House vote to move forward with the inquiry, Republicans say Democrats have already compromised the process.
REP. LIZ CHENEY (D-WY): This is a process that has been fundamentally tainted. The president has had no rights inside these hearings. They cannot go back and fix what is a fundamentally tainted and unfair record.
MATTINGLY: And outside GOP groups immediately going on the attack, targeting Democrats who hold seats in district won by Donald Trump in 2016.
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): We take no joy and having to move down this road and proceed with the impeachment inquiry. But neither do we shrink from it.
MATTINGLY: Democrats, many of whom were wary of impeachment before explosive allegations related to withholding money from Ukraine for political reasons, defending the inquiry as necessary to preserve and defend the Constitution.
PELOSI: Right in the here and now, we're keeping the republic from a president who says Article 2 says, I can do whatever I want. Not so.
MATTINGLY: And, Jake, Democrats have been reluctant to put a timeline on how this is all going to play out going forward.
One aide telling me, "Every time we have a closed-door deposition, we learn more and want to find out more."
However, it's the expectation that there will be another week of closed-door depositions. Then, likely, the public hearings will start. Then, things will move over the Judiciary Committee, where they will draft articles of impeachment and consider them.
One thing is certain, Democrats clearly on that path to impeachment, and it should happen in the coming weeks -- Jake.
TAPPER: All right, Phil Mattingly on Capitol Hill, thanks so much.
Let's chew over all this.
Ana, let me start with you.
We have heard House Republicans expressing concern about what President Trump did, not a lot, but some, including Adam Kinzinger, Mr. Feeney of Florida, but not one voted to proceed with the inquiry. Were you surprised?
ANA NAVARRO, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: No, I wasn't. Look, I think this was expected.
And I think Donald Trump has been incredibly effective in instituting discipline within the Republican Party and in demanding absolute loyalty. Any speaking up against him, any voting against him will be considered an act of disloyalty, to be punished by mean tweets and going after them in campaigns.
We have a lot less Republicans than we did before in the House of Representatives, but they are far more loyal, blindly loyal, cultishly loyal to Donald Trump.
TAPPER: And, Mike, let me ask you.
The Republicans have had, I think, even some Democrats would, acknowledge a fairly effective communication message in terms of talking about how the process has not been transparent. It's been behind closed doors. We can debate those merits and we have. But beyond that, that's now over. These will be open hearings. The deposition transcripts will be released. Republicans will at least have an opportunity to try to subpoena witnesses.
What -- will the arguments from Republicans be more substantive about the actual case now, you think?
MIKE SHIELDS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think so.
I think that they have made a good case on process. And I love being on here with Paul, because I worked for Newt Gingrich, as we talked about, during the last impeachment, and he worked with President Clinton, and merrily did a great job defending the president.
When that vote happened, Dick Gephardt and Newt Gingrich voted to -- went together to create the rules for that. In fact, Newt asked Jim Rogan, congressman from California, to look back on the Watergate process and see what rights the Democrats gave to the minority, and said, we're going to offer those to Gephardt. Gephardt accepted them, and we had a bipartisan vote.
Nancy Pelosi said previously, we can't do this unless it's bipartisan. That's out the window. Those -- Kevin McCarthy offered the same thing. What Newt had with Rogan and what Gephardt voted for was offered to Pelosi. She turned it down.
So I think they will get into substance, but they're still going to talk about the fact that this is a very partisan process. They're going to keep talking about that the whole way through, because the American people are actually the jury. And they're the ones that are going to look at this.
And when you know it's partisan, it colors everything you hear after.
TAPPER: And the trivia, of course, who beat Rogan in the House race? Adam Schiff. It all comes full circle.
TAPPER: Jackie, this resolution allows Republicans to subpoena witnesses, but Democrats really ultimately get the final sign-off. They get the veto power, as it were.
And then there can be -- they can -- Republicans can protest, bring it to a full committee vote, but there are more Democrats than Republicans on the committee. So it really isn't a fully bipartisan process in that way.
JACKIE KUCINICH, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: No, Democrats are definitely in the driver's seat.
And they're strategizing as to how to not let Republicans derail this, because that's what they're going -- that's going to be part of the strategy here, is to -- I mean, you heard it on the floor today, talk about it as a sham. Talk about how partisan it is.
So that allows them to maintain some semblance of control, even if the Republicans are trying to pull it other directions.
TAPPER: And speaking of that, and derailing it, as you will have it, take a listen, Paul, to the ranking Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, Doug Collins, talking about a witness that he wants to call before the committee.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. DOUG COLLINS (R-GA): I do have one thing for Mr. Schiff.
If he wants to be, as said, a special counsel, he set himself up. Then here's my challenge to Mr. Schiff. You want to be Ken Starr? Be Ken Starr. Come to the Judiciary Committee, be the first witness, and take every question asked of you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: What do you make of that?
PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: First off, it's silly. He's a colleague. They can him any question any time they want on the floor. Second,
be careful what you wish for. Doug Collins, fine man. He ain't going to do very well in a battle of wits with Adam Schiff. I'm sorry, he is just not.
This is the problem with their messaging. And I think Mike points it out. It's just tactical. Oh, we want an open process. OK, now you're getting one. We want a formal vote on opening an inquiry. OK, now you're getting one. We want the right to cross-examine, want the president's lawyers to be in the room. You're getting that. You're getting that.
You know what they're never saying? He's innocent.
TAPPER: Well, some of them are.
BEGALA: The president -- not -- Mr. Collins is not.
The president's own nominee for ambassador to Russia, his deputy secretary of state today, under oath, said, yes, it would be against our values to ask a foreign government to intervene in our elections.
His own deputy secretary of state, the guy he's putting up to be ambassador to Russia, can't abide what this president's doing. Why? Because it is indefensible.
TAPPER: Mike, two Democrats voted against it, both of them from Trump districts, Collin Peterson from Minnesota, which is a district that went 2-1 for Trump, the other one from Southern Jersey. Trump won that district by five points.
Were you surprised that Democrats -- that so few Democrats voted against it? Because a lot of them come from seats that Trump won, and it's a risky vote. SHIELDS: Yes, I want to sort of mirror what Ana's answer was, that,
no, I'm not surprised because of the discipline that AOC and that Nancy Pelosi have had to give into on the left.
KUCINICH: AOC. Listen to you.
SHIELDS: Well, where is this coming from?
Nancy Pelosi didn't want to do this. Nancy Pelosi, I give a lot of credit to. During the 2018 election, she told her candidates, don't talk about impeachment. Suburban educated women think that's a bridge too far. They want to focus on health care.
And her candidates listened. Now they're in office.
TAPPER: And she won the House.
SHIELDS: And they won the House.
SHIELDS: Now they're in office. There's 29 members that are sitting in Trump districts or close to Trump districts, and she lost the fight.
She tried to stop this from happening. The left wing got them to a place where they had to do it. And those people were...
SHIELDS: Those people were made to walk the plank today, and they're going to suffer for it.
NAVARRO: I don't think it was the left wing.
Listen, it's true that Nancy Pelosi didn't want to do this. And I actually think that gives her much more credibility and gravitas on this issue. She didn't want to do this for political reasons.
What dragged her there kicking and screaming were the facts, were those testimonies of people like Vindman, like Sondland, like Hill, like the ambassador, all these testimonies that have been corroborating what the whistle-blower said. The facts have led her there.
KUCINICH: And I was about saving that's what Nancy Pelosi has said.
SHIELDS: Well, of course she is going to say that.
KUCINICH: Well, right, but that is what got her there. Mueller didn't. Mueller's testimony didn't. She resisted that. And
then came the non-transcript.
SHIELDS: But we can we all acknowledge that there has been massive pressure on the left, regardless before the facts, to impeach the president, and now they couldn't hold that tide back?
PPP had a poll in February of 2017, where a majority of Democrats wanted to impeach the president a month after he was inaugurated into office.
NAVARRO: Exactly. And she didn't do it, because -- she didn't do it for political reasons.
TAPPER: Hold that thought.
We're going to keep -- we're going to come back to you.
With the momentous vote to formalize the impeachment inquiry, what is now the White House strategy, now that they can no longer attack the process with as much vigor?
Then: homes turned into ashes in a matter of minutes, high winds whipping up new wildfires in California, as firefighters there struggle to gain ground. We're going to go there live.
Stay with us.
[16:16:11] TAPPER: The Politics lead now, President Trump facing a new reality now after today's first full House vote related into the impeachment inquiry. As the investigation escalates, his private phone calls asking to Republicans asking them for advice, expressing disbelief this this is happening to him, according to sources.
As CNN's Kaitlin Collins reports, the President has also been confronted by senate majority leader Mitch McConnell with a blunt message, stop attacking Senate Republicans.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Insurance policy.
KAITLIN COLLINS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): It didn't take long for the White House to lash out after house Democrats took their first vote on the impeachment inquiry.
STEPHANIE GRAHAM, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: In a court of law, you are innocent until proven guilty. Here we are clearly guilty and have to prove our innocence.
COLLINS: On a day with no public event on his schedule, President Trump deeming it the greatest witch hunt in American history.
TRUMP: They just had a vote on procedures. They gave us absolutely no rights.
COLLINS: And in an interview with Brexit leader, Nigel Farage, the President insisted once again that his dealings with Ukraine were perfect.
TRUMP: Would I use Ukraine to defeat sleepy Joe Biden?
COLLINS: After demanding a vote for weeks, the White House argument was undercut today.
TRUMP: So what they are doing now is something that's never been done before. They don't want the facts to come out.
COLLINS: But the press secretary says the rules are still unfair.
GRAHAM: You get treated better and get more due process when you get a traffic ticket.
COLLINS: More than a month after speaker Pelosi announced the inquiry, the White House is still working on a plan of action. They haven't hired any communications staffers or attorneys to help out leaving some aides wondering if they have a game plan.
GRAHAM: I don't want to get into any of our strategy just yet.
COLLINS: Instead, the President is focused on shoring up Republican support. Urging the party to stick together.
TRUMP: I didn't have one negative Republican vote.
COLLINS: Sources day it was the senate majority leaders to who told the President to stop attacking his own arty. Mitch McConnell telling Trump to lay off his criticism od senate Republicans, including a frequent Mitt Romney, because the fate of his presidency could lie in their hands.
As another key witness testifies on Capitol Hill, the White House is waiting and watching to see if the President's former national security adviser, John Bolton, will do the same.
KELLYANNE CONWAY, WHITE HOUSE COUNSELOR: Obviously, you know our position on former White House officials assistance to the President particularly --.
COLLINS: Bolton left the White House on bad terms with the President. But his attorney says he won't appear without a subpoena.
(END VIDEOTAPE) COLLINS: Now Jake, the President didn't have anything on his public schedule today but did invite Senate Republicans over where they had chicken, talked about foreign policy including the recently killing of Baghdadi. But also impeachment was brought up as well. The President pointing out there is two Democrats who voted against that resolution this morning also encouraging those in the room to read the transcript of his call with the Ukrainian leader. But Jake, it's not clear yet if the president is taking Mitch McConnell's advice to stop attacking those senate Republicans who have been critical of him.
TAPPER: All right. Kaitlin Collins, thanks so much.
Is that good advice for Mitch McConnell, do you think, Mike? Stop attacking senate Republicans even people like Mitt Romney because you are going to need them?
SHIELDS: Look. I think the President is a frugalist. And when people come after him, he is going to leave the charge to characterizes the way that he wants to. I think the senators get it. They know how that is. They all know where they are on this. He is not going to be found guilty in the Senate once the house impeaches him. It's not going to happen. And it's not because he is a bully. It's because the voters don't want it to happen.
The voters are the actual jury. They are the once who call these senators and call these House members. They are going to hold House members accountable. And their Senators don't want to go home and explain why they voted to find someone guilty because a member of the NSC didn't like what he said on a phone call that we have a transcript.
TAPPER: The polling I have seen shows that overall nationally, the public does support not only impeachment but removal from office. I know it's different in battleground states, the numbers are flipped. But nationally, I don't think that's right.
Nationally, you're right. It has been trending more support for the inquiry, I believe.
[16:20:05] KUCINICH: Nationally, you are right. It has been trending more support for the inquiry, I believe.
TAPPER: Definitely for the inquiry.
KUCINICH: Definitely for the inquiry. But I do think state by state, that does matter. Because that's actually what senators who are in battleground states are going to be looking at. But I don't know. If you are somewhere like Colorado, I don't know how Cory Gardner is going to make that decision if it starts leaning in that direction.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Maine.
TAPPER: Maine. Susan Collins is going to be --.
Well, let me ask you. So one of the things that is going on here also is the Trump campaign and the Republican National has a war chest of $300 million. Republican senators and house members are going to want some of that money to get reelected. Conservative blogger named -- I don't know his actual name but it goes by how he pounded he on twitter which he tweeted, when weighing whether trump had due process or not, remember to include the fact that he enjoys a right no criminal defender in the U.S. has, the right to bribe his jurors.
Now he is being cheeky there with the idea. But you are Susan Collins, you are Joni Ernst, whoever else, you want that $3 billion and you -- not only want it, you need it.
ANA NAVARRO, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Absolutely. You also need him to show up to your fundraisers for our primaries. You need him not to attack you during primary season.
Look, (INAUDIBLE) point, Lindsey Graham. When Lindsey Graham was taking on Trump, he was dead man walking in the Republican primary in South Carolina. Today that he is Trump's BFF, he is walking on water in the Republican party in South Carolina. That is the difference trump can make for Republicans and that's why there's much fewer Republicans because some of them can't deal with it, can't stomach it.
SHIELDS: That's why I brought up AOC. Democrats don't want to have a Democratic primary challenge either. Adam Schiff is one of the number one fundraisers in the Democratic party and he has been fund-raising on impeachment from back in Mueller and all the way through this through emails --.
NAVARRO: Look. We could be talking about Christmas fruitcake and you guts would bring up AOC.
SHIELDS: Democrats raise money off of this and they hold their people accountable, too, for the same thing.
BEGALA: Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is living rent free in my entire head.
TAPPER: Let's change the subject from AOC for one second because you heard there's no one leading response team for communications in the White House, no new lawyers looking at what's going on. You were with Clinton during his impeachment. Are they making a mistake? It just seems kind of malpractice for the president's team to say, look, we need a war room. This is serious.
BEGALA: It's not even just the process. It's the agenda. We knew what we were doing. We did. And it's completely different than this. We were like Olympic swimmers in our lanes. They are like 5-year-olds playing soccer. Everybody crowds on the ball and whatever the dear leader says. That's fine. I have no problems about it and I have written about it.
The most important thing that sustained Bill Clinton is that he had ai an agenda that the American people wanted. But fundamentally, the offense was at violation of his marital vows not his oath of office. I think people this with Mr. Trump. I know they do very, very differently.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE)
BEGALA: No, he did not. And this president, he violated his oath of office, at least you ask the majority of Americans. That's a completely different thing. If he would come to us with an agenda, how many years are we into infrastructure week? All he cares about is himself and his own job and his own greed, his own grievance. He needs to get out of his own self interest. But I don't think he can because I think he is a toxic narcissist.
KUCINICH: The other thing with the war room is you actually follow the strategy or when you have the principle that kind of does what he wants, he is not going to follow any, maybe for a little bit, but ultimately if Trump wants to do something he is going to do it and he is not going follow anyone's plans no matter how closely they are crafted.
TAPPER: All right. So everyone, stick around. We have more to talk about.
We have some breaking news. Another White House official who was on that July 25th call between President Trump and the Ukrainian president just finished testifying. What did he say? That's next.
[16:28:52] TAPPER: Breaking news, Tim Morrison, the top Russia expert in the White House national security council just wrapped up testifying on Capitol Hill. According to multiple sources Morrison confirmed other witnesses' accounts of a quid pro quo, the U.S. giving Ukraine security aid in exchange for an investigation publicly announced into the Bidens. Morrison said he worried there would be trouble if the rough transcript of that July phone call between President Trump and the president of Ukraine ever leaked. But Morrison also stopped short of directly criticizing president trump, saying he did not think that trump did anything illegal. Morrison is the second White House official on the call to testify to White House investigators on the same day the House also took the step to formalize the impeachment inquiry.
CNN's Manu Raju joins us now from Capitol Hill.
And Manu, how important is his testimony to the inquiry?
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Significant. Because as you mentioned, he was on that July phone call. He also played key roles, Russia expert on the national security council and had a number of conversations with Bill Taylor, U.S., the top diplomat to Ukraine. Taylor referenced him throughout his own testimony in which Taylor raised serious concern that aid had been withheld by the president as the President was pushing for those investigations into his political rivals.
Now in the statement that -- section we obtained from the statement today --.