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House Moves Closer to Impeachment; Next Step in Impeachment Battle; Hill Dismantles Republican Narrative. Aired 7 -7:30a ET
Aired November 22, 2019 - 07:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DR. FIONA HILL, FORMER TOP NSC RUSSIA AND EUROPE ADVISER: He was being involved in a domestic political errand. And we were being involved in national security foreign policy.
DAVID HOLMES: The president's voice was loud and recognizable. I then heard President Trump ask, so he's going to do the investigation?
REP. JIM JORDAN (R-OH): We've got to stop this. But they're not going to.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It undercuts all of the defenses that the president and the Republicans have put forward.
HOGAN GIDLEY, DEPUTY WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: They continue to push these fake, illegitimate proceedings onto the American people. He wants it to go to the Senate and he wants a trial.
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): No, we're not going to wait until the courts decide. It's obstruction of justice, obstruction of Congress.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is NEW DAY.
And here we are this morning, two historic weeks, 12 public witnesses, a mountain of evidence, hours of testimony all telling the same story, the president was using foreign policy for his own personal, political purposes. A domestic political errand. That is what happened according to witnesses, their testimony, and the evidence.
So, what now? House Democrats are moving forward, preparing articles of impeachment. They will likely focus on abuse of power, obstruction of justice, obstruction of Congress, and bribery. And if the Democrats have it their way, if this goes as planned, a vote to impeachment the president could happen by Christmas.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Meanwhile, Republican senators are working with the White House on a strategy for a potential impeachment trial. Would it be a lengthy trial or a speedy one? "The Washington Post" reports that President Trump is pushing the Senate to dismiss the case immediately.
So after this incredible week, these two weeks really, which, if any Republicans, accept the facts as laid out by witnesses under oath?
Joining us now, CNN political analyst Maggie Haberman, she's a White House correspondent for "The New York Times," and CNN chief legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin.
Jeffrey, your thoughts at the end of these two weeks? We certainly know a lot more today, this morning, than we did two weeks ago.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: We know a tremendous amount more. And what's remarkable is how the evidence is entirely consistent. For me, the single most memorable piece of evidence was in Kiev right after the infamous phone call. On July 26th, when Sondland, the ambassador to the European Union, is on the phone with the president at this restaurant in Kiev and he hangs up the phone and he says to David Holmes, the foreign service officer, we -- like, the president doesn't -- doesn't give a shit about -- about Ukraine. All he cares about is the big things. And Holmes says, what do you mean? This is a -- you know, Ukraine is a big deal.
TOOBIN: This is a -- there's a war going on. They're fighting against Russia. And Sondland explains, no, no, no, a big thing to the president is something that affects his political future. A big thing to him is the Biden investigation, damaging his political enemies. That's the story. That's the story.
And it plays out through all the witnesses. And, you know, we're now going to move into this mode of, you know, are the Republicans going to move? What's the political future? And I don't know. But I think it's important to marinate a little in the facts of what the -- what came out in the hearings. And then we'll see what the political implications are.
BERMAN: Do you know who told us that the president was asking Zelensky to enter -- to, you know, to investigate the Bidens because he wanted him (INAUDIBLE)?
CAMEROTA: Trick question.
TOOBIN: Pick -- pick me. Pick me.
TOOBIN: The president told us.
TOOBIN: Right. Exactly.
BERMAN: The president told us.
TOOBIN: Yes. BERMAN: Not only is he on the phone call, but October 3rd -- but let me -- do we have S-20? If you have S-20 for us in the control room, play S-20. This is October 3rd when the president was asked directly, what did you mean?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
QUESTION: Mr. President, what exactly did you hope Zelensky would do about the Bidens after your phone call? Exactly.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, I would think that if they were honest about it, they'd start a major investigation into the Bidens.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: And we appreciate that honesty.
BERMAN: Thank you, Mr. President, for telling us exactly what you were asking for when you were asking for an investigation into the Bidens. And we've seen that transcript.
This morning, Maggie, you've got some new reporting on what the White House wants now. What is that?
MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: So the White House actually isn't sure, John, what they want. They are not going to make a decision on a Senate trial until closer to the time of the actual trial, and that's going to depend, as one official told me, on what the president ultimately wants. Nobody is in agreement about where they should go. But, actually, the president is not, as I understand it, pushing for an immediate dismissal. Some people around are president are pushing for that. And the president goes back and forth between wanting it to be over and actually wanting people -- and we know this about him because he keeps saying that he did nothing wrong -- to stand up at a Senate trial and say, look, the president was not at fault. There was not an issue here.
I don't think that anybody in the White House right now thinks that it's realistic based on what they're hearing from Republican senators to have a 51 vote for dismissal. And I think there's reason to believe that. I think that's what they heard from Republican senators yesterday.
So we will have a sense, I think, after we know what the articles of impeachment look like, after we know more about who is voting where in the House on what the White House thinks it can get from a Senate trial. But they want to be able to put on a case. And as you saw with Lindsey Graham yesterday, he's now trying to call together documents related to Hunter Biden. I think you see that's where Republicans are going to go with it. BERMAN: Can I just say one thing quickly, because Mitch McConnell's office tells me definitively that an immediate dismissal is off the table.
BERMAN: An immediate dismissal will not happen. And that is from McConnell's office. So it's a nonstarter.
CAMEROTA: And why is that? I'm -- sorry, Maggie.
HABERMAN: And the White House -- and the White House knows it, to be clear. I mean they --
CAMEROTA: Yes, but why -- why not just dismiss it outright?
BERMAN: He -- for --
HABERMAN: Well, for a couple of reasons, but one of which is that they don't have the votes. And the reason that they don't have the votes is that there are a number of senators who are concerned that they're going to get back to their districts and be told that this was a bad thing. Why wouldn't you hear out the evidence?
To the point that you both have made for days and days and days here, the case the Democrats have laid out in this impeachment inquiry has contained a number of pieces of damning testimony and damning emails and so forth. And so I think that there is a potential risk of blowback for senators who vote for dismissal right away.
BERMAN: They can't get 51 votes for an immediate dismissal.
BERMAN: And I don't even know -- think that Mitch McConnell would want that in terms of the long term posterity of the Senate either.
HABERMAN: That's right.
CAMEROTA: I know.
HABERMAN: That's right.
CAMEROTA: Everything's just -- I mean in an upside down world, not -- logic doesn't always apply, but that was really helpful to hear what the thinking behind it is.
Jeffrey, you've seen this movie before with impeachment. So what do you think is going to happen next? And I don't just mean process, I mean in terms of the public's appetite in terms of the political risks. TOOBIN: Well, I -- you know, I make -- I'm very wary of making
predictions especially about the future because I just -- you know, I don't -- I don't know. And I think it's important to point out what we don't know at this point. You know, we -- yes, it looks at this moment like there are no Republican votes for impeachment. But, you know, once the evidence gets pulled together, we'll see.
I mean there is so much evidence here. And -- and, you know, all these bold Republican predictions about, you know, we're going to call the Bidens. Like, be careful what you ask for. You know, be careful about calling witnesses because one thing we learned is that it's a lot easier to answer questions when you know all the facts and the questioners don't. And the idea that, you know, oh they're going to call the Bidens and they're -- you know, good luck to them calling the Bidens. Good luck trying to create an alternative narrative that's different from this one that somehow shows the president in a good light. There is no such narrative.
BERMAN: Do you see a -- and we've talked a lot -- Alisyn talked to Jen Psaki about the risk for Democrats and what Democrats are worried about going forward in the process.
What should Republicans be worried about, not just with the process, but the portrayal of them just saying to the facts either, we don't believe them or we don't care.
TOOBIN: That's right. That -- you know, that is a risk. And that came up several times during the hearings, specifically when the Republican lawyer was asking questions of the witnesses. And, you know, the mistake you make, the trial lawyers always make in cross examining witnesses, is they just let them repeat their direct testimony again. And much of the most damaging testimony from Fiona Hill, you know, the bad ass Helen Mirren of this test -- of this hearing, you know, the national security council staffer for the Ukraine, you know, much of her really damaging testimony for the president came when she was being cross examined by the Republicans. And so the idea that if you simply repeat the story and try to put your own spin on it, all you do is repeat the story and remind people that what this story is about ultimately is the use of taxpayer dollars to get dirt on the president's political opponents.
And, you know, if -- if they want to defend that, good luck to them.
CAMEROTA: Well --
TOOBIN: I mean I -- I just think that story will not wear well with the American people.
CAMEROTA: Maggie, as we so often see, the White House has a completely different reaction than what is predicted.
CAMEROTA: So here's Hogan Gidley, one of the -- the deputy press secretary yesterday explaining how they're feeling.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HOGAN GIDLEY, DEPUTY WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: One word would be jubilant. That's the first thing that came to my mind. I've talked to the president about this multiple times today.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HABERMAN: I don't -- I don't believe that with all due respect to Hogan Gidley. I mean I think the White House has tried very hard for the last several days to put forward a face not just of feeling positive but feeling happy, excited.
Nobody thinks that these were particularly good fact sets for them. They were totally blindside by what Gordon Sondland, the ambassador to the EU, testified to the other day. They were pleased that he gave -- you know, while he gave this pretty bombshelly opening statement, he then spent much of the next few hours walking it back. And I think that they were encouraged by that.
But they know that this is not a great picture that's been painted. They are going to stick to their line that, you know, this is unfair to the president, that this has not been due process, that they're looking for the Senate to have due process.
But the president is not enjoying this. I mean -- and I understand that he's been in a decent mood the last couple of days, but that doesn't matter. I mean, he's not enjoying being impeached. He's been pretty clear about that with any number of people. And I -- jubilant is really quite a word to use in this -- in this circumstance.
TOOBIN: Well, and, remember, just another word that we -- that we heard from the president a lot, that his phone call with the president of Ukraine was perfect. He keeps saying over and over again it was perfect. Have you heard any other Republican official, even his supporters, say it was perfect? No one.
HABERMAN: Right. I think the only thing that I would just say, Jeffrey, just in terms of the -- talking about the future, you were talking about what voters will care about. We don't know what voters are going to care about.
HABERMAN: We certainly know that Republican voters who are supporters of the president, who are the ones that these senators are keeping an eye on, these Republican senators, or people like Will Hurd, the congressman from Texas, who wants a political future even though he's retiring from Texas, that's what they're looking toward.
We do not know whether voters are paying attention to this, tuning this out, going to be influenced by this, and that is ultimately going to be what this turn on.
TOOBIN: And I thought Hillary Clinton was going to win the 2016 election.
TOOBIN: And I always point that out as a surgeon general's warning about any prediction I make about the future.
BERMAN: Can -- can I just say, but beyond politics, there's another question too here, which is that, what is the long term impact of saying that a president can ask a foreign country to get involved in a U.S. election?
HABERMAN: It's an important question.
TOOBIN: So --
HABERMAN: Go ahead Jeffrey.
It's an important question. I mean I think that we're raising all kinds of questions about the type of unadulterated executive power that this president believes he should have and that some members of his administration believe he should have that would only be a view that would be reaffirmed if he were re-elected. And I don't -- that has dramatic implications for the future.
TOOBIN: And I think Nancy Pelosi did not want to get involved in this. I mean Nancy Pelosi did not want to do an impeachment. I think we -- that is not spin. That is a fact. But the facts compelled it. The facts compelled it. There was no way to take that transcript, the partial transcript of the phone call, and simply say, well, we're just going to ignore it and do oversight hearings. It was too dramatic a violation of what we expect from presidents. And, you know, the political chips are going to fall where they may. And I don't know where that's going to --
BERMAN: But two Republican responses we've heard so far about the facts, number one, we don't believe them, and, number two, we don't care.
TOOBIN: OK. Fair enough.
BERMAN: We'll see. We'll see.
Maggie, Jeffrey, thank you very much.
About Nancy Pelosi, by the way, I don't know if we have an official promo, but CNN has announced that we are doing a town hall with Nancy Pelosi.
CAMEROTA: This is breaking news.
BERMAN: Yes, I'm breaking --
CAMEROTA: You're breaking it to me. BERMAN: I'm breaking it to you. I believe that's December 5th with
Jake Tapper at 9:00. December 5th with Jake Tapper at 9:00. So Nancy Pelosi will speak at this at length, which will be fascinating.
CAMEROTA: Thank you, guys.
BERMAN: Meanwhile, what happens next in this impeachment process? What will the mechanics look like all the way to the Senate trial? We'll take you through the steps, next.
BERMAN: So we've had two historic weeks of public testimony. What's next? What are the next steps in this impeachment process?
Here to break it all down for us, CNN legal analyst and magic wall maestro Elie Honig.
The Intelligence Committee in the House of Representatives, this is still their ball. What do they do with it next?
ELIE HONIG, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: It is for now, John.
So the next big step we're going to see is the House Intelligence Committee has to draft an issue, a public report setting forth their findings and recommendations. Now, this is going to be an advocacy piece. It's going to be an argument. Here they have -- this is really their last best chance to make the case to Congress and the American public why this is impeachable.
Now, interesting little fact, once that report comes out, the minority party, the Republicans, have a chance to issue their dissenting views. Will they do it? On the one hand, why give up a chance to make your case? On the other hand, they may want to keep their powder dry, hold off and see what the evidence is in the Senate before they start committing to certain defenses.
Those reports then go over from the Intel Committee over to the Judiciary Committee, which is headed by Jerry Nadler.
BERMAN: Yes, it is interesting. I mean this is -- Nancy Pelosi kept it out of Judiciary and Jerry Nadler's hands as long as she could.
HONIG: Exactly, but eventually it will have to go back to Nadler.
He then has the option to hold more hearings. Will he? You would think not but they have represented in the Don McGahn hearing that they want him. They want to call him as a witness. We're actually going to get a ruling on McGahn on Monday, the court has said.
After they hold hearings or if they decide not to, the House Judiciary Committee then drafts and recommends articles of impeachment to the full House for a vote. And then we are into constitutional territory. Of course, the Constitution tells us the House shall have the sole
power of impeachment. And that treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors is the standard for what constitutes an impeachable offense.
So the full House then will take a vote on the proposed articles of impeachment.
BERMAN: Each one?
HONIG: Each one. Exactly. Separately. And they can vote some yes and some no. That actually happened in the Bill Clinton case.
Now, in the House it requires a majority, which is 218 out of the 435 members of the House. So how does that look right now? There's 223 Democrats, John. So they can lose 15 Democratic votes and still pass these articles of impeachment. If and when they do, we are over to the Senate.
So, in the Senate, the Constitution tells us, the Senate shall have the sole power to try all impeachments.
There will be a trial in the Senate. This will be the third one we've ever had in our history.
First, who could forget Andrew Johnson in 1868. Then, of course, Bill Clinton in 1999. This will be the third.
Now, a couple of interesting things about the way that a Senate trail works.
First of all, who will preside? Chief Justice John Roberts. He keeps a low, public profile, but he's going to have to come down and preside over this the way a normal trial judge would. The senators, all 100 of them, serve as your jurors. So very different from your 12-person criminal jury.
The lawyers will be House managers, probably members of the House of Representatives. And the president can choose whoever he wants. Bill Clinton had a combination of White House counsel and his own private attorneys.
BERMAN: He had Dale Bumpers (ph). He had a retired U.S. senator as one of his main people arguing for him.
HONIG: Yes. Yes, absolutely.
When the trial is over in the Senate, the Senate will vote.
Now, the Constitution tells us that you need two-thirds of the Senate of those present. That comes out to 67 senators. We've got 53 Republicans, 45 Democrats, plus two independents who caucus with the Democrats. So the Republicans, there would need to be 20 Republicans flipping over and voting to convict in order to convict. If the president is convicted, he is removed from office and he is
disqualified. When does that happen? Immediately. The day the vote happens, he's out. The vice president, would be Mike Pence, gets sworn in as president.
You said I could ask you a trivia question. How do you fill the vice presidential opening?
HONIG: Well, the 25th Amendment tells us the new president chooses --
HONIG: Right. And it goes to Congress.
HONIG: You need a majority of both the House and the Senate. Now, how many times has that been done, the 25th Amendment, to fill the vice presidential spot? Let's see how good you are.
BERMAN: It was -- it was Nelson Rockefeller.
HONIG: Nelson Rockefeller was one and Gerald Ford right before him was too.
HONIG: All right, you get a b-plus.
BERMAN: I get a b-plus for that.
Just to be clear, the Senate trial, who sets the rules for the Senate trial?
HONIG: Well, the Senate's the majority. So Mitch McConnell's going to really set the rules. Now, they have Chief Justice Roberts there who will be an arbiter.
BERMAN: But last time Tom Daschle and Trent Lott set the rules together.
BERMAN: They made a deal that was voted on. There was a bipartisan agreement before they actually did it. And there's every reason to believe that Mitch McConnell wants to work with Chuck Schumer to find something they can both agree on.
HONIG: Look, I think it would be in everyone's interest, the public, the Senate, if this is an orderly sort of, you know, substantive proceeding and not just a political circus.
BERMAN: Professor, always a pleasure. Thank you very much.
HONIG: Thank you, sir.
CAMEROTA: All right, John, despite the evidence that has been presented over the past two weeks, Republicans appear ironclad in their support of President Trump. Will their strategy change as the Senate prepares for an impeachment trial? We discuss with two former Republican lawmakers. How are Republicans feeling this morning?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. FIONA HILL, FORMER TOP NSC RUSSIA AND EUROPEAN ADVISER: Based on questions and statements I've heard, some of you on this committee appear to believe that Russia and its security services did not conduct a campaign against our country and that perhaps somehow, for some reason, Ukraine did. This is a fictional narrative that is being perpetrated and propagated by the Russian security services themselves.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: That was former White House national security official Fiona Hill accusing Republicans of believing the conspiracy theories. And she said they only embolden Russian President Vladimir Putin.
So after two weeks of evidence about the scheme to exchange military aid to Ukraine in exchange for an investigation of the Bidens, how are Republicans feeling this morning?
Joining us now we have former GOP congressmen and CNN political commentators Sean Duffy and Charlie Dent.
Great to have both of you here.
Charlie, let me start with you.
CHARLIE DENT, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Good morning, Alisyn.
CAMEROTA: How are you -- how are you -- good morning. How are you feeling this morning? What did you hear over the past two weeks that most stood out to you, Charlie?
DENT: Well, I guess I'd have to say Fiona Hill's comments yesterday were very powerful. And they've -- what most struck -- struck me most though was that they all seemed to be supporting each other's statements. They've corroborated everything. I mean, it's clear there was a quid pro quo. It's clear the president used his office to solicit a foreign head of government to get opposition research. So the basic facts are what they are. We all agree to that. The question is, does this rise to the level of impeachment?
CAMEROTA: And, Sean, were you troubled by the same things? Or were you troubled by what you've heard over the past two weeks?
SEAN DUFFY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, listen, I never liked the phone call. I never thought the phone call was perfect. But do I think the phone call was impeachable? I don't.
But in regard to Dr. Hill, I thought Republicans did a very good job of saying, listen, we're the one who is came out in the Intelligence Committee and said, of course, in our report, the Russians tried to influence our elections. We've obviously admitted that. We did a report and Democrats didn't sign on with that report to America on Russian influence.
CAMEROTA: I think she was obviously referring to that the president doesn't seem to believe it.
But moreover, Sean, what about the -- let's see if we can agree on the facts. Let's see if we all agree this morning on the facts that we've learned over the past two weeks.
Gordon Sondland said yes there was a quid pro quo. Gordon Sondland said everyone was in the loop. Gordon Sondland said it was directed by the president. And he had evidence to support that and so did others. Is that what you heard, Sean?
DUFFY: Well, I heard him say he presumed that it was a quid pro quo. He had no direct knowledge is what I heard him say.
CAMEROTA: Well, he did talk to the president. I mean he did have that phone call with the president where the president said, and they're going to do the investigations, right?
CAMEROTA: I mean, you know, I know that Republicans seem to be hanging their hat on the presumption thing, but he seemed to have a lot of firsthand experience.
DUFFY: Well, that's what -- that's --
DENT: Well, then they ought to call in the secretary of state.
DUFFY: Yes. And that -- but that's what -- that's what Gordon said was -- was that he -- the presumed that there was a quid pro quo but there was no direct you give me this and they get that conversation with the president.