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Democrats Speak After House Passes Impeachment Inquiry Resolution; House Passes Resolution Formalizing Impeachment Process. Aired 12:30-1p ET
Aired October 31, 2019 - 12:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[12:30:00] REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): -- notwithstanding those that have complained about lack of access to the depositions. Most of the members who have been permitted to attend have failed to attend, ave not made use of the availability of attending each and every deposition.
But those that have on both sides of the aisle have had an equal opportunity to question the witnesses. And indeed when we moved into open session, both parties will have an equal opportunity to question any witnesses that are called. The resolution will also permit me, as the chair, to release -- to begin releasing the transcripts of the depositions, and I think that you will see when those are released just what equal opportunity members of both parties have had.
We recognize the seriousness of this undertaking. We recognize that we have been compelled by the circumstances to move forward. When a president abuses his or her office, when a president sacrifices the national interest, when a president refuses to defend the constitution and does so for the purpose of advancing a personal or political agenda, the founders provided the remedy. I make no pre-judgment as to whether that remedy will be warranted when we finish these hearings. I will wait until all the facts are put forward. We will undertake this duty with the seriousness it deserves and to the best of our ability.
Thank you. And I now yield to the chair of the Judiciary Committee, Mr. Nadler.
REP. JERRY NADLER (D-NY): Thank you very much.
No person, Republican or Democrat, president or anyone else should be permitted to jeopardize America's security and reputation for self- serving political purposes. No president, no official can demand that an ally of the United States do anything, in particular, to help his or her political ambitions as a condition of receiving help from our country. If, after a fair and thorough inquiry, the allegations against President Trump are found to be true, they would represent the profound offense against the constitution and against the people of this country. It is the duty of the House to vindicate the constitution and to make it crystal clear to future presidents that this kind of conduct, if proven, is an affront to the great public that placed their trust in him or her. This resolution that we passed today lays the groundwork for open hearings in both the Intelligence Committee and the Judiciary committee. The House and the American public must see all the evidence for themselves. The resolution makes clear the ample safeguards in the process that will be given and that will be adhered to. The resolution is necessary to ensure that our constitutional order remains intact for future generations.
What we have seen are allegations of conduct on many levels that, if proven to be true, are a challenge to the Democratic order, to the Democratic norms on which we all depend. We must hand this country to our children with its democracy in as good a shape as when it was handed to us. We simply have no choice because no one can be above the law, and we must enforce that.
I now yield to the chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, Mr. Engel.
JOHN KING, CNN HOST: You're listening there to two of the top Democrats involved in the impeachment inquiry. First, Chairman Schiff of the Intelligence Committee just there, Jerry Nadler of the Judiciary Committee which would handle the actual articles of impeachment, if it gets to that point. Before them, you heard from the leading House Republicans. A reminder impeachment is a political process and it's fascinating, we're just an hour removed from the vote to make this a formal inquiry now with the blessing of the full House. And you see the parties -- I don't mean to make a game of this but working the rifts if you will, working the voters.
The Republicans continuing to complain about the process, the Democrats trying to say we have pre-judged nothing. The Republicans would dispute that and some Democrats have said they wanted to impeach the president for a very long time. But the leaders of it saying we have pre-judged nothing and then trying to get to the substance saying we're going to bring now to the public what we've been hearing behind closed doors and we view that as an abuse of power, of corruption worthy of articles of impeachment.
OLIVIER KNOX, CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, SIRIUSXM: Yes. And they tried saying, you know, we are the ones who are in keeping with the founders, the founding principles. Yes, it (INAUDIBLE) that one of the reasons that the Andrew Johnson impeachment was so important was it centralized and aired out all the charges against him. It was not -- it was a way of getting it out of the streets and getting it into the Congress and making a political determination. That's the -- there's the historical perspective.
[12:35:08] On a couple of points that these folks are making now, you know, I don't really know what a soviet style impeachment is. I don't mean to make light of that, I'm just sort of curious as to who Steve Scalise is speaking to when he says that. And I also note this is a good time to reflect on the fact that Congress keeps an awful lot of its investigations secret. They're not subject to the Freedom of Information Act. It's rare that we get transcripts from depositions behind closed doors. How many of you have read fast and furious investigation transcripts? KING: Benghazi.
KNOX: Right -- well, some of the things came out after a furious fight, right? In fact, in the Benghazi final -- the final report of the Select Committee on Benghazi, they explicitly went after public hearings as a waste of time generating only theater.
KING: Right. Many of the Republicans who are now screaming about this process, Lindsey Graham in the Senate, former Congressman Trey Gowdy in the House have said how important private depositions are because you can take things behind closed doors and do the process, take your time, air it out. There are no cameras so the politicians aren't playing to the camera if you will, and then take it public. That is a time-honored process, is it not?
ROSS GARBER, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: But I think the argument would be that impeachment is fundamentally different because impeachment has the -- as we're going to hear a lot, has the potential implication of affecting an election. And so that's something, you know, we elect -- we go to the polls, we elect people. The impeachment investigation, the argument would be that actually has to happen in public in part because the voters, the people who were actually going to the polls, need to have confidence in the results and also the process.
KING: And it's a key point because the Republicans are making this argument that we're now a year away from a presidential election, let the voters decide. Any impeachment proceeding is about reversing the last election. So they say this is some noble idea. The Democrats are going to impeach the president and try to reverse an election. No, that's what the Republicans were trying to do when they were impeaching Bill Clinton. That's what the Congress was doing when it was impeaching Richard Nixon. That is inevitably if you get that far of what you're doing, reversing the last election.
But the timing of this one, it is an interesting point, and you could be clear -- it's clear today that as the Republicans now realize a lot of what the testimony, they can't defend a lot of what the testimony is. That Rudy Giuliani was running a shadow foreign policy, that he had the president's blessing, that people appointed by the Trump administration were raising objections saying, this is wrong, it might be illegal, this has to stop, and it kept going on.
You can't defend that. So your point is let's have an election.
MARGARET TALEV, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: If you go back and look at this, the turning point will have been that date, I think it was September 25th when the memorandum about the transcript was released. That was the turning point that we will never turn back from again because it laid out in great detail with the exception of those ellipses what that conversation was about, and now going forward to the subject of those ellipses is going to be a serious matter of discussion for what will be increasingly an open process.
But I think when we talk about the optics of this, the Republicans have been positioning this as Democrats versus Republicans or Democrats out to get the president. When you look at has taken place behind closed doors in this process that began several weeks ago, it is almost entirely either Republicans or non-partisan officials who, if they had to pick a side, might lean a little bit right, who have implicated or called into question what the president has done. And so far that process has played out behind closed doors.
When it moves into the public, it will take on a really different cast. And part of the reason why these conversations or interviews have gone on behind closed doors, sure, may have been to try to minimize a Republican's ability to change the narrative, but part of it is that there is no independent prosecutor kind of provision in place and so Adam Schiff had to play that dual role. There has to be the kind of investigatory part that precedes the public hearing part where you get enough basis of information to figure out if and how to go forward. We're done with that part now. This is what's moving forward.
LAURA BARRON-LOPEZ, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, POLITICO: Margaret's point was important and that there is a pattern of White House officials, of State Department officials defying the White House in order to provide this testimony, and so that's why the Republicans have not been able to really attack any of the substance of this. We saw them starting to shift just in what they said right now after the vote rather than just saying, this process is horrible, it needs to move into the public realm. They say now the process can't be fixed at all no matter what.
KING: And Steve Scalise trying to make the point that nothing has changed since the beginning of the year when Speaker Pelosi said any impeachment have to be bipartisan. Well, a lot has changed. The bipartisan part has not, he's right about that, that the two parties remain polarized. But in terms of the information available to the public, a lot has changed. These witnesses, the call transcript, another witness again, a Trump appointee up on Capitol Hill today giving testimony.
We're going to take a quick break. When we come back, we'll continue to follow the developments, a, in the testimony, and b, in what you're seeing on this historic day in Washington, the politics of impeachment.
[12:44:55] KING: More now on the historic vote in the House of Representatives today and the impact on the president of the United States. That full House now voting to formally authorize that impeachment inquiry, laying out the rules for going forward. The president of the United States calls it the greatest witch hunt in history.
[12:45:08] CNN's Kaitlan Collins is live at the White House. Kaitlan, we saw the president's pretty quick tweet after the vote. Take us inside the deliberations there. Are they nervous now that the full House has taken this vote which they had demanded and now they don't like? KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: They say they're curious to see what happens. Yes, they did demand a vote, they said it wasn't a real inquiry until these Democrats were actually going to vote on this, put themselves on the record.
But now, John, they're still complaining about the process here saying essentially that this is unfair to the president, talking about some of these proceedings that are happening behind closed doors. They expect some of them will continue to be behind closed doors before they go public even though Democrats have pushed back on that saying that this is like a grand jury proceeding. We're doing this behind closed doors, the transcripts will become public and then maybe we'll take some of these people and do those testimonies again out in the open for everyone to see.
Now, in the White House, they put out a statement pretty quickly after this vote with Stephanie Grisham, the press secretary, calling this Democrats unhinged obsession with trying to impeach the president and warning that it's more damaging to the American people than it is just to the president and his supporters. Now, this comes as the campaign, the president's campaign is also issuing a statement saying that essentially they believe they're going to have election consequences here, that this is going to lead to the president being re-elected when the voters going to the polls in November. Though, Of course, there is still a lot of time before then.
We know that back here at the White House, there are some people who are frustrated because their main line of argument against this so far has been, John, that there wasn't a vote. Now that there has been a vote, they realized that it's going to undercut that argument. And they're frustrated that this long, after Nancy Pelosi announced that inquiry, they still haven't hired any communications professionals or lawyers to add to the president's legal team to help them spearhead this strategy here, defend themselves against this. And essentially they're waiting to see how does the Democrats proceed in the next steps.
KING: CNN's Kaitlan Collins live at the White House. I appreciate it on a big day at the White House.
Let's bring you back into the room. It is fascinating to this, let's just get straight to it. That the president of the United States, he's up for re-election next year, we are in October, about to be November of the year before the election year. If you were watching the World Series last night or if you follow the president on social media, you saw this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Obliterating ISIS. Their caliphate destroyed, their terrorist leader dead. But the Democrats would rather focus on impeachment and phony investigations. But that's not stopping Mr. Trump. He's no Mr. Nice guy, but sometimes it takes a Donald Trump to change Washington.
(END VIDEO CLIP) KING: We could have a long conversation about how Donald Trump has changed Washington in a lot of ways. But to the point that a president is spending re-election money, he's got a lot of it, he does not at the moment have a significant primary challenge but they understand, again, the jury is you, the American people at home and they are trying to work the jurors before the testimony goes public.
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: And make sure that the numbers that you talked about earlier in the show of Republican support, the almost historic Republican support that still exists for this president doesn't change. And that's in large part what that is, reminding those Republicans who voted for Donald Trump that this is why they put him in office. That, yes, he was on a phone call but he was just -- this is what they argue, he was just calling about corruption, he was just trying to do what you wanted him to do when you said Donald Trump would be a different kind of president.
They don't --they're trying to say, you know, rules and norms and protocols be damned. And whether or not that is going to play with the base, OK, maybe, but it still is the suburban vote that the Republicans lost big time in 2018 that is going to decide likely what happens in the election.
KING: And so as we enter this next phase, this is -- it's a political process, here's the president. His overall approval rating at 42 percent. That's pretty steady. The president's approval rating has stayed right around the 40-mark throughout his presidency. Sometimes it goes down a little bit, sometimes it goes up a little bit. But you see the president is at 42 percent in this new poll here by AP and Ipsos.
And if you look at it, though, 85 percent of Republicans approve of the president's performance. Only 30 percent of independents do and just seven percent of Democrats. So again, this is back to the tribal, this is where we begin. The question now is to watch particularly where the independent numbers go and if the Republican number moves.
BARRON-LOPEZ: And that's what's key is the independents, and they're key in Pennsylvania, they're key in Iowa, they're key in Ohio. And so there was another interesting poll that actually came out today in Pennsylvania that found that 57 percent of Pennsylvanians registered voters there actually support the impeachment inquiry. But again, if you look closer, it is divided along party lines.
KING: Divided along party lines.
KNOX: But that ad speaks to Republicans and independents. It is I've achieved the following things, it's also very -- we've talked about this before, there's not a war room at the White House, it's the campaign. The campaign is the war room. And what you have there is essentially the Clinton argument from '98 while they're doing this, I'm at work, I'm delivering the following results. In Clinton's case, it was a big emphasis on the economy.
[12:50:03] But you're seeing from the campaign, you know, they seem to have learned the lessons, the Trump campaign have learned the lessons of '98.
TALEV: And Nancy Pelosi understood -- always understood, right, the contours of this why she was afraid of this. I think there is another group that we haven't been talking about that much but that is real. Trump might call it the deep state, I'm not going to call it that but I would say there is the infrastructure inside the National Security Council, inside the Defense Department, inside the State Department. A bureaucrat who have spent decades serving presidents of both political parties who are deeply concerned about what went on, and they don't have to run for re-election, their fate doesn't hinge on it, they're in a completely different place than these Republicans are.
To the -- that is mostly a quiet conversation, mostly a quiet debate, but it is happening every day, every moment with every new revelation, and they are the potential tipping point of the voters that do not tip.
BASH: Can I sneak one other quick point on that 85 percent approval among Republicans? I was told by a top Trump official that what they are watching there is to see if it gets below in the mid to high 70s. That they say is the danger zone.
KING: That would be the danger zone because these Republicans if you see the House now and they will talk later about the Senate, they will start to break if they see that number move. They -- part of this right now is they know that if the president turns on them of if his base stays home, it's not just the president who would be hurt, they would be hurt as well.
We're going to take a quick break. A historic day in Washington. We'll be right back.
[12:56:23] KING: Democrats had resisted it, Republicans had demanded it. This morning on the floor of the House of Representatives, it played out this way.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. TOM COLE (R-OK): Today's resolution fails to give the minority the same rights as were present during the Clinton impeachment, and it fails to offer the same due process protections that were given to presidents Nixon and Clinton.
REP. JIM MCGOVERN (D-MA): I don't think there was any process that we can propose that Republicans who prefer to circle the wagons around this president and prevent us from getting to the truth would accept.
REP. DOUG COLLINS (R-GA): This is a travesty. No one should vote for this. This is a sad day. The curtain is coming down on this House because the majority has no idea about process and procedure. They're simply after our president. I yield back.
SCHIFF: This resolution sets the stage for the next phase of our investigation, one in which the American people will have the opportunity to hear from the witnesses firsthand.
REP. KEVIN BRADY (R-TX): Speaker Pelosi and Chairman Schiff long ago abandoned the due process and fairness that was guaranteed during the Clinton impeachment. I know because I was here in Congress for us.
REP. DONNA SHALALA (D-FL): Having been through this before, I know how painful impeachment proceedings can be. I hope we will all vote to continue this investigation simply so that we can be clear on all the facts.
REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): When you go back to the American public with the achievement of more subpoenas than laws, that is not why you ran.
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): It's about the truth, it's about the constitution. On this vote, the yeas are 232, the nays are 196. The resolution is adopted. Without objection, the motion to reconsider is laid upon the table.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Wherever they stood in this debate today, everybody understands this turns the page. We're in a different phase now, right?
TALEV: It turns the page and we're in a different phase, but things just got a lot more politically complicated for Democrats, too. And I think they had a real, both a politically strategic choice to make but kind of a foundational choice to make which is like they could lose the House for doing this. But if they don't do it, what is the point of being there, right? I mean, this is a fundamentally different conversation for them, again, since the notes of the transcript came out than any of those previous discussions from a smaller block of Democrats who wanted pursue --
KING: Their challenge is to bring in public and to bring in public in a compelling way.
GARBER: I think it's clear Speaker Pelosi saw how Speaker Gingrich handled that impeachment. She doesn't want to be judged that way. She knows that she and Democrats are now under the microscope.
BARRON-LOPEZ: And Pelosi also know that Gingrich lost his speakership after that which is why she did take so long and take great care in saying that I'm not going to rush this moment. But now, yes, Democrats are -- have passed, I guess, the Rubicon, if you will, and are on a path that they are not going to veer from.
BASH: Yes, and you can't underestimate how much the audience is public opinion but also Senate Republicans as they're going to be watching these hearings and questioning whether or not they feel that it is, you know, it is an impeachable offense or it is the middle ground which is what you're hearing from let's say, a Rob Portman which I call the yes, but. Yes, it was bad but it's not impeachable.
KNOX: So now watch the relationship between the White House, the Trump campaign, and Republicans senators who are in the bubble, you know, and in a handful of states. They don't want those senators to be tempted, even tempted however briefly, to endorse this process or much less vote to remove the president from office.
KING: And that -- not to get the cart ahead of the horse, but you watch these senators because they will now listen to the House, and then assuming -- and it looks inevitable that the House impeaches, maybe a very partisan vote then the Senate has to decide as we head into a campaign year where the majority leader himself is on the ballot. It will be fascinating to watch --