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House Votes To Advance Trump Impeachment Investigation; Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL) Reacts To Trump's Russia Adviser Who Testifies He Was Worried Leaking Of Trump's Call Transcript Would Have Ramifications. Aired 2-2:30p ET
Aired October 31, 2019 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN Breaking News.
BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: Brianna, we will take it. Hi there. I'm Brooke Baldwin. You are watching CNN on this Halloween Thursday. Thank you for being here.
We begin today with a crucial and historic vote by a divided House in the Impeachment Inquiry of the President of the United States. Today, an overwhelming majority of House Democrats voted to move forward with this ongoing investigation that will now officially be out in the open -- it will be public.
The House has brought the probe from behind closed doors killing a prime complaint of the President's defenders. The resolution approved today sets out public impeachment hearings under the House Intelligence Committee, releases the deposition transcripts, outlines the Judiciary Committee's role in potential Articles of Impeachment, establishes how Republicans can call witnesses and use subpoenas and allows the President and White House to give their case later in the process. Still, though today, not a single Republican voted for this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): In March of this year, Speaker Pelosi said this about impeachment. Impeachment is so divisive to the country that unless there's something so compelling and overwhelming and bipartisan, I don't think we should go down that path because it divides the country.
So the Speaker should follow her own words on a bipartisan vote on that floor and in the sham that has been putting this country through this nightmare.
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): I don't know why the Republicans are afraid of the truth. Every member should support allowing the American people to hear the facts for themselves. This -- that is really what this vote is about. It's about the truth.
(END VIDEO CLIP) BALDWIN: The final tally 232 to 196 in favor of this resolution, and
while Republicans are following the party line, not all Democrats did the same. CNN's Tom Foreman is here, and Tom, not just one, two, Democrats defected. Tell me about that.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, two defected. There could have been more at any given point, but mainly what this reflects is a political reality. Look at that. There is nothing that more clearly shows you the battle lines in this country along political fronts here and these two over here, the two Democrats who went outside of this, if we take a look at them right now. These are two Democrats who came from districts where Donald Trump did very well in the last election and one handily.
Jeff Andrew from New Jersey, Collin Peters from Minnesota, both of these men also reflected that thought that we were hearing a moment ago there of, well, this is so divisive, it's so damaging to the country. And we don't know yet if there's anything out there that would be impeachable anyway, why would we want to go down this way? Why do we want to do it on top of which there's some concern that it would hurt the party.
But then there's Justin Amash. He is from Michigan. This is interesting, because you could argue in a sense, that he was the one Republican who broke. Now Republicans will say no. But until July, he was a Republican. And he was so disturbed by what he was seeing that he declared himself an independent in all of this.
And I want you to know this, Brooke, he sent out a tweet earlier today about this whole thing where he said, "This President will be in power for only a short time, but excusing his misbehavior will forever tarnish your name. To my Republican colleagues, step outside your media and social bubble. History will not look kindly on disingenuous, frivolous and false defenses of this man."
And that was a stone in a pond. It sank immediately, as you can see from the vote. No Republicans took him up on that, Brooke, but as you can see, very, very few defections here.
What does that tell us about an eventual impeachment vote if we get to that point? That's a different matter, because there's still Republicans who may have -- or Democrats who may have said, go forward with the process, but if they are in moderate districts, they may say, well, I wanted to look into it, but I'm not going for impeachment unless they can really get some sense that they can politically get away with that in this process.
Nonetheless, big numbers out there, the Democrats probably can get the impeachment vote if they want it. The question is, is that something they really want in this election year? And does the evidence justify it in a way that they can do it without paying potentially a big, big political price -- Brooke.
BALDWIN: Tom, thank you for that. How does this compare to other cases of impeachment involving Presidents Clinton and Nixon? Joan Biskupic is our CNN Supreme Court analyst. And so Joan, the process President Trump is experiencing is pretty quick when you look at the timelines of the other two.
JOAN BISKUPIC, CNN SUPREME COURT ANALYST: It has been lightning fast, Brooke. You know, the House is acting with a real sense of urgency when you look at the comparative numbers to Presidents Clinton and Nixon, but just think of the groundwork that has been laid for today's historic vote.
Last spring, Robert Mueller had submitted his report. But even before spring, congressional committees were already investigating any kind of Trump involvement with the 2016 election in Russian interference. Cases were already going to Federal courts about what the House and other investigators could get related to documents and testimony.
BISKUPIC: So a lot of groundwork was already laid for this very swift vote today. And I'll just mention one other thing about the Nixon comparison here, Brooke. Nixon's impeachment, which was only in its preliminary stage when he ended up resigning in August of 1974, it was intertwined with the courts all along, just as this is now. You know, there are fights over documents, and Nixon was forced to resign.
He never went forward with any kind of formal impeachment because of the Supreme Court's ruling in late July 1974, saying he had to turn over the Watergate tapes.
And you know, so there's a certain momentum that comes from both what's going on in the Hill, but then also what's going on in the courts. You know, impeachment is a process for the two chambers -- for the House to, you know, actually impeach and the Senate to hold the trial. But there's just so many cross currents already out there.
And then finally, I'd mention having to do with the Clinton impeachment. That's our most recent trial. We've only had two Senate trials of Presidents in our history, and that lesson there is that once impeachment gets rolling in the House and a President is actually impeached, a Senate trial will be very fast.
Clinton's trial lasted from early January of 1992 to February 12th, when he was acquitted.
BALDWIN: I have two gentlemen sitting next to me who know and lived through all of that, Joan, thank you very much. Let's get some perspective from these two who have been in the thick of impeachment proceedings. Guy Smith, served as special adviser to President Clinton during his impeachment. Joe Lockhart is a CNN political commentator who also served in the Clinton White House as Press Secretary.
So gentlemen, let's just dive on in. Guy, to you first, as Tom pointed out off the top, zero Republican defections, right? So they presented this united front, two on the Democratic side. Can we just take a moment? We are in history.
GUY SMITH, SPECIAL ADVISER TO PRESIDENT CLINTON DURING HIS IMPEACHMENT: We are very much in the middle of history. It's only the third sort of fourth time, if you count Nixon in the history of the country.
The impeachment process is a political process. It's not a legal process and you saw in Tom's report there how partisan Democrats for, Republicans against it. Now, it's going to become public. People are going to hear the detail firsthand on live TV.
We've saw even before anything became public how the polling switched. People now, a plurality of Americans are in favor of impeachment. Think about what's now going to happen as more and more detail comes and that's just before people like John Bolton or Rudy Giuliani, or that kind of detail isn't even out there yet, and it's all coming.
So the politics are going to change and that will change. Some, not all, but some of the Republicans on is this about a red hat? Or is it about the Constitution?
BALDWIN: Right. How does this work once it becomes public? Like, we know that the door swing open, and everyone will be able to bear witness to this, but we don't know scope. We don't know timeline. We don't know who else would be testifying. So how does it work, Joe?
JOE LOCKHART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, that's going to be up to Adam Schiff, who runs the Intelligence Committee and Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker of the House. You know, as the Republicans have like to say since 2016, elections have consequences; 2018 had consequences. The Democrats are running the show.
I think the really interesting thing about today's vote was that this was kind of a free vote for everyone because it wasn't about the underlying actions of the President, it was about the process.
So Republicans can say, I'm keeping an open mind. I want to see what the evidence says. But the Democrats are being very unfair here. I don't like the process. I'm voting no. Democrats can argue the flip side.
What we're going to see now, though, is a shift towards what actually happened. And you're going to see and I think you'll see it build very much like the depositions where it'll be some smaller players that have something significant to say, building up to the bigger players, building up to Ambassador Taylor, building up to Colonel Vindman --
LOCKHART: And perhaps even John Bolton, Rudy Giuliani, Mike Pompeo, and some others, Rick Perry -- but I think the Democrats because they are running this show, are going to try to lay this you know, in sort of, you know, like building blocks. They have to establish something, corroborate it, show the significance and the political significance, and then build upon that. You'll see that over several weeks.
BALDWIN: You mentioned some of those potential witnesses, some of whom would be repeat witnesses now that it will be public. Republicans now will be able to subpoena witnesses, but because the Democrats are in charge, because they have the majority, they're the ones who greenlight this whole thing. If you're a Republican, who are you trying to get through those doors?
SMITH: Well, the first thing I would do if I was one of the Republicans is cross examine the current witnesses on live TV. We don't know, they were in the room, not all of them. Some of them didn't even go, but in the private sessions -- but the first thing they need to do is ask them yes, but questions of the existing witnesses like Morrison, you've seen a little bit coming out today, that he didn't think it really was all that mad.
BALDWIN: The phone call.
SMITH: But he really did do this, you know, in the face of extorting a foreign government and inviting them into our elections, but that's okay. I mean, that ain't going to wash with the American people.
BALDWIN: What about Democrats? We mentioned a second ago that there are a number of more moderate Democrats, some of whom penned this "Washington Post" piece who kind of came late to the game in terms of favoring impeachment. You know, they're on the line, right? A lot of these were Trump districts in 2016. Like what's at stake for Democrats as well?
LOCKHART: Yes. Listen, I think there was some serious concern about, you know, Democrats won between 35 to 40 seats in places that Trump and the Republicans should have won. That's why Nancy Pelosi is the Speaker and not the Minority Leader.
And I think there's still this lingering sense that somehow this is a very difficult political issue for the Democrats. It's not. The train has left that station.
When those seven freshmen wrote that op-ed for "The Washington Post," it was a very strong signal that they understood that this was the right thing to do and something that they could politically justify, and they weren't, you know, they weren't going to just throw their seat on the line.
And, so I think it's overplayed this idea. There are going to be a couple of people here in there who will resist this. But that's why Ukraine is so important. There'll be a lot of things talked about as far as the Articles of Impeachment. But this is the clearest and most easily digestible case where the President has abused his power in a corrupt way.
And in a way where because it happened, right after Mueller's testimony, it showed that the President was emboldened by getting away with Russia and that he needs to be stopped.
BALDWIN: But how about how he fights back? Because you two know all about the Clinton war room. We were talking about this just the last couple of weeks, you know, President Trump they have yet to hire a communications team to handle this. So just remind us why what you guys did was helpful.
SMITH: It focused the message. It focused the team. We had a team of 100 percent impeachment and a team that ran the rest of the government with a couple of chaps and Joe, because Joe was Press Secretary he had to do the government and the impeachment.
BALDWIN: But doesn't that -- that's a lot of cross pollination.
SMITH: But really we let people -- we didn't even let people in the hallway talk about impeachment. It was highly disciplined. Starting with the President. The President didn't just run his mouth. If he was going to say something -- Joe and he would practice what they were going to say. They talked about it, right?
LOCKHART: Yes. No, I mean, listen, I think, you know, judging the politics, I think it was our view that having a self-indulgent, self- pitying President, a part-time President, someone who was more worried about his own interest than the country's interest was political suicide.
I think with Trump, this approach works with his base. It works with about 30 percent of the country. The problem is, the Republicans in the Senate particularly are worried about 70 to 80 percent of the voters because you know, six or seven of them aren't very tough races.
So while it may make the President feel better that when he goes to the rallies, they all cheer him and when he says -- he talks about the fake news and the terrible Democrats, they cheer and they boo, but it is not expanding his coalition.
BALDWIN: It may not work in the long term?
LOCKHART: And, you know, listen, we could all be proven wrong on Election Day in 2020, if he makes it that far, but it's the conventional way you work politically in the White House is you -- you make sure your base is happy, but you're always trying to expand that coalition. Trump is not doing it. And in fact, he has alienated much of the population that might have voted for him by the fact that he every day shows that the only thing that he is really, really concerned about is himself.
BALDWIN: We will have to see if the strategy changes. To be continued, as they say, Guy and Joe, thank you very much.
Also happening on Capitol Hill today right now, a second official who listened in on President Trump's infamous Ukraine call is testifying behind closed doors with lawmakers. Hear what he is revealing about that phone call.
And why the former National Security adviser, John Bolton is refusing to testify without a subpoena.
And the President's personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani expressing confidence that President Trump will not turn on him saying his boss is loyal to him.
You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin. We'll be right back.
BALDWIN: Just in to CNN, a key witness taking a stand in this Impeachment Inquiry into President Trump. His name is Tim Morrison. He is a close ally of former National Security adviser, John Bolton and soon he will be leaving his job as the top Russia adviser to the President's National Security Council.
But moments ago, Morrison told lawmakers that he was worried that if the transcript of Trump's call with Ukraine's President leaked, it could hurt Morrison's efforts to bolster relations with Ukraine.
That is according to multiple sources, who add that Morrison was involved in discussions about how to handle that phone transcript, which ultimately ended up as you know, in that secret server.
Morrison is also now the second person who actually listened in on that phone call to take part in these hearings. The first was earlier this week. That was Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman, the White House Ukraine expert and decorated war veteran.
So with me now Democratic Congressman Ted Deutch of Florida. He is a member of the House Foreign Affairs ethics and Judiciary Committee, so Congressman Deutch, good to see you again.
REP. TED DEUTCH (D-FL): Likewise, Brooke, thanks for having me.
BALDWIN: But despite his concerns, Morrison believes that the White House was legally sound in their dealings with Ukraine. Your reaction to that?
DEUTCH: Well, the importance of Morrison's testimony and the importance of the witnesses that we've heard from thus far is this theme, the concern about what would happen when this call record becomes public and what transpired in the call, and what we already know, which is the President of the United States made the decision to try to influence a foreign government to get political help in the 2020 campaign.
That's why this investigation has gone on and that's why what we did today was so significant in moving -- laying out the path forward so that people will be able to see the story.
BALDWIN: But he thinks, Congressman that it would have just interfered with, you know, U.S. building relations with Ukraine and that it was legally sound. That's how he saw it.
DEUTCH: Right. I can't comment on his testimony today. We'll look forward to having a full discussion, obviously of what's in the transcript.
BALDWIN: Yes. DEUTCH: But I can say, remember, he played a central role in the
discussions about whether there was a quid pro quo. This has all already been reported, and whether it was appropriate to put our National Security at risk by withholding aid to an ally who was actively at war with Russia, the same country that the President was trying to use his power over Ukraine to help exonerate from their involvement in the 2016 election.
DEUTCH: These are the things that are so concerning. It is the reason that we've proceeded as far as we have in this investigation.
BALDWIN: So let's talk about his old boss, John Bolton. John Bolton has been invited to testify next week. He says though he is not showing up without a subpoena. So I'm curious, if you, Congressman Deutch think that that was Bolton's attempt to send a message to President Trump, and if so, what do you think he was trying to say?
DEUTCH: I couldn't begin to tell you what messages he may be trying to send to the President, nor could I tell you how the President would hear them. What I can tell you is that I hope that that the former National Security adviser will come to testify. And I hope that he'll follow in the path of so many patriotic Americans that we've heard from who have looked past, who have been willing to stand up to the President's demand that they obstruct justice, that they not cooperate with this investigation.
Diplomats and National Security officials, patriotic Americans who have wanted to come share the facts that they know because they're worried about our National Security and the President's actions as it has undermined our National Security, that's -- I hope that John Bolton will come do the same thing.
BALDWIN: And I'm curious, too, when you think about this vote today and also moving forward that, you know, a group of your fellow Democrats, all freshmen, all moderates, made quite a splash last month when they penned that "Washington Post" op-ed, you know, expressing their support of this Impeachment Inquiry. And previously they were opposed, because they said Trump's behavior with respect to Ukraine was, their words, a threat to all we have sworn to protect.
How vulnerable did their yes vote make them today? And do you think might they be at risk of losing their seats?
DEUTCH: I have enormous respect, Brooke, for my colleagues, especially those who have come to serve in Congress, after having served our country, in the military, in Intelligence capacity, in a whole variety of ways, looking out for our National Security.
Their votes today are votes to ensure that this process moves forward, that the American people will be able to fully see the story, to understand the depth of the efforts by the President of the United States through Rudy Giuliani and others to use foreign policy for his own political gain. [14:25:21]
DEUTCH: I have -- I trust them enormously on national security issues, their voices carry great weight because of their service to the country, like the National Security officials and diplomats that we've heard from and I think a lot of my colleagues, frankly respected their decision and their votes today because they care so deeply for our country.
BALDWIN: Last question, Congressman Deutch, it's just on your colleague Katie Hill. She made her final floor speech just a bit ago. She is resigning amid allegations that she had this improper relationship with the campaign staffer before taking office. You know, you are the Chairman of the House Ethics Committee which had opened this investigation into claims that Katie Hill had a sexual relationship with a staffer, claims that she has denied.
You know, Congressman, this has ignited all kinds of conversations about revenge porn, on a double standard in Congress. You know, would a man have resigned as quickly, more and more millennials being elected; millennials, maybe with photos? I'm just curious, what are your thoughts?
DEUTCH: Well, obviously, I can't talk about the investigation, but I can -- I can absolutely join in this conversation and I it's awfully important for all of us to think, to have this discussion about what people can do in social media that often violates the law.
I know that there are investigations into what's happened here and whether the sharing of these images violates the law and how that should be interpreted. We can't accept -- we can't accept a situation where some are allowed to skirt the law, especially through using awful images on social media and then expect that they're going to force actions to take place, here or anyplace else.
And that's the discussion that's taking place. It's an important one. It's going to continue, I think, as a result of some of the discussions here just today. It's going to continue in a very serious way and it needs to.
BALDWIN: It does. Congressman Ted Deutch. Thank you, sir.
DEUTCH: Thanks, Brooke, good to be with you.
BALDWIN: Thank you. Just in, why prosecutors are using the word risky and cautious when it comes to the legal implications surrounding the President's personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani.