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Winter Storm Pummels Northeast; White House Won't Participate in Judiciary Hearings; House Judiciary Holds Impeachment Hearing; GOP Signals Campaign Against Impeachment. Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired December 2, 2019 - 07:00   ET



JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: Republicans are expected to testify about the standards for impeachment. Today, members of the House Intelligence Committee will review their impeachment report. This ahead of a key vote tomorrow. All of this happening as President Trump heads to London this morning to attend the NATO Summit. We begin, though, with CNN's Miguel Marquez. He is live in Albany, New York, with our top story.

So we saw you there about an hour ago. Looks like about the same amount of snow. So how much expected there and how long will it last?

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it looks like it's going to go on for several more hours and they're expecting at least a couple more inches here. But in higher elevations, the Catskills Mountains, for instance, they're expecting as much as another foot of snow through the central and upstate New York.

This is what the streets look like and the sidewalks here in Albany. The people moving the snow all night have been busy. How busy? Well, this busy. It's just basically a mountain of snow right near the capitol building.

And this is spectacular to see. I mean it's a beautiful building on a sunny day. But when it's snowed in like this, it's absolutely gorgeous.

It would just be a perfect day -- winter day if it weren't so deadly and so difficult for so many people returning home from Thanksgiving holiday as well. A Delta flight in Buffalo skidded off a taxiway there. Nine people were killed in South Dakota when their flight was taking off during the storm. Two children were killed, a third is still missing in Arizona as floodwaters swept a car there. So there are a lot of dangers out there.

We drove up through this snow last night for about 75 miles. It was absolutely treacherous on the New York's throughway. So caution is the word of the day.

Here in New York state, the National Guard is on call and ready to help out if needed. And the governor has offered up a half million tons of salt to keep these roads clear. Jim.

SCIUTTO: Miguel Marquez, thanks very much.

CNN meteorologist Chad Myers, he's been following the storm.

So, Chad, look at this, we've got -- we've still got a lot of people traveling, got a lot of people going back to work. How bad's the week going to be?

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: The week gets better from here, but not really until maybe tomorrow night for Boston and for the Berkshires and on up toward Massachusetts and into Maine. So that's going to be the big story. The higher elevations are still going to get snow.

Schenectady, the winner so far, 18 inches, although at 7:00 all of the reporting stations will send in their latest amounts and we'll see probably some higher numbers here in the next hour or so. It is still snowing. It is still cold. And the traffic is still very slow. Go on Google, look at traffic, and you'll see every interstate in orange or worse because as the snow is still coming down, sleeting at times as well, and that will continue for most of the day today.

The snow continues and eventually pulls on up toward the Northeast and away from the U.S., and that is finally late tonight into tomorrow. But, still, many, many hours of snow for a lot of people up there.

It does warm up. We do get a little bit warmer by the time the middle part of the week comes in. But not before all of this snow is going to have to melt from the Adirondacks, to the Berkshires, all the way through the Poconos and on up toward the northeast. Even New York City, all the way above 40 for Wednesday, Thursday, and probably even into Friday. And things are going to warm up from here after that and melt some of that snow. But all that means is that you're going to have a lot of slop and spray in your face. Make sure that windshield washer fluid is full in your car. You're going to need it.


SCIUTTO: Slop and spray in your face. Just like a regular day in news, right?

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: A metaphor alert (ph).

SCIUTTO: Yes, metaphorically.

CAMEROTA: Thank you very much, Chad.

All right, so lawyers for President Trump tell congressional investigators that they will not take part in the House Judiciary Committee's first impeachment hearing on Wednesday. The White House did not rule out participating in later hearings. There is a Friday deadline for them to make that call.

Joining us now, CNN political analyst David Gregory, CNN's senior global affairs analyst Bianna Golodryga, and CNN chief legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin.

No surprise, Jeffrey, I mean, they haven't exactly been cooperative throughout the beginning of this process in terms of turning over documents and providing witnesses. But now they say that they'll not participate.

Here is the White House counsel's rationale in a letter released last night -- late last night.

We cannot fairly be expected to participate in a hearing while the witnesses are yet to be named and while it remains unclear whether the Judiciary Committee will afford the president a fair process through additional hearings. More importantly, an invitation to an academic discussion with law professors does not begin to provide the president with a semblance of a fair process.


JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: I mean this is consistent with what their position has been all along. They attacked the process. They never engaged with the facts. You -- the question you never hear either the president -- well, the president personally answers this question, but none of his supporters answer the question, was it appropriate to have the conversation that he did with the president of Ukraine? The substance of the allegation, they never want to get to. They just keep saying the process is unfair, this is a sham, this is a witch hunt. And by not participating, they preserve that argument. They also have a way of not engaging with the facts of the allegations.


BIANNA GOLODRYGA, CNN SENIOR GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: And it's also a sign of the administration feeling emboldened that they have full support of the Republican Party behind them, right?


GOLODRYGA: So you see senators on television over the weekend once again propagating these falsehoods that it wasn't just Russia. Others suggesting that there was nothing wrong with the call. Immediately after news came out back in September, you did see some Republicans sort of get uncomfortable having to defend this and saying that maybe the call was wrong and what the president did was wrong but it wasn't impeachable. We're starting to see fewer and fewer of those justifications, right? So the fact that this administration feels that they've got the full backing of the Republican Party going into this gives them no reason to have anybody attend because, like you said, this is really a question about process, in their opinion, as opposed to the facts.

DAVID GREGORY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: And the democratic process is difficult for Democrats because of the calendar. They are putting a lot of pressure on themselves to keep this front and center in people's minds, to get them thinking about it in the way that those who were watching it really closely are thinking about it. Sure was a topic around Thanksgiving dinner tables. But did people have the same command of the facts and the import of it that those who were watching closely did. That's what Democrats are hoping for and banking on. They don't want to lose too much more time.

And once you get into January, then that Republican argument, which is process arguments, not engaging with the facts, but just saying, why are they doing this in an election year when voters will have a say. Let's let the voters have a say and not Democrats in Congress. That's an argument that weighs more heavily on Democrats.

SCIUTTO: You know, a real disturbing phenomena of this, beyond defending the president is now defending the president propagating a conspiracy theory about this. You know, kind of retroactively justifying the president on Ukraine here.

And John Kennedy has been at the forefront of this. He's been back and forth so many times it's hard to keep track because on this program he -- not on this program, on this network, he came back and apologized for this. But now he's down this same path again justifying a -- that a Ukraine -- that Ukraine interfered as much as Russia did.

Let me play some of that sound. I want to get Bianna's reaction.

Have a listen.


SEN. JOHN KENNEDY (R-LA): I think both Russia and Ukraine meddled in the 2016 election.

Russia was very aggressive and they're much more sophisticated. But the fact that Russia was so aggressive does not exclude the fact that President Poroshenko actively worked for Secretary Clinton.


SCIUTTO: That's not a fact. And you and I are deep into this, Bianna. Nothing riles me up more than this because, you know, this was an idea planted deliberately by Russia --


SCIUTTO: To divert attention away from itself. You know, a lot of different conspiracy theories, DNC server, et cetera.

Tell us about the impact of this just in terms of America's national security. The Republican senators are repeating Russian talking points.

GOLODRYGA: Well, the impact is that you see Vladimir Putin reveling about what's taking place here. Just last week saying that now he's so happy that the focus is off of Russia and they're looking at other countries who were meddling in elections. So why would that stop Russia from interfering in 2020, as we heard from Fiona Hill? I mean how many experts do you need to hear from? And, fundamentally, when you talk about these people defending the

president on this specific issue, I can't see a situation that's more un-American given that you're going against all of the intelligence agencies, right? Every single person who's a fact witness knows what Russia did. And instead of addressing it, they continue to defend the president on this.

And I looked back at what Senator Kennedy had been saying in the past to see if maybe there was some discrepancy and he's just taking up this issue. No. Following even the Helsinki meeting between President Trump and Vladimir Putin, he suggested there could be other countries that were involved.

And this just muddies the situation to such a degree that it only benefits one country. And that benefits Russia. And, by the way, this could lead to other countries being involved because if other countries see how successful Russia was, why would they not try to interfere as well?

GREGORY: And look how big Putin's portfolio has become of areas that were disadvantages that are becoming advantages that he has to work on. He's got meddling in America's elections and making sure that his opposition in the United States is so divided that there can't be a concerted effort to stop Russia from doing it.

At the same time, the president's going overseas for a meeting with NATO and its 70th anniversary, which his views have sought to undermine, which is something that Putin is very happy to see. So it's been a very productive time for the leader of Russia. And it's just so striking to see Republicans particularly not united in -- in stand up to try to crack down on Russia.

SCIUTTO: The word that comes to mind is gullibility, right, because it's gullibility to Russian propaganda with intent.

CAMEROTA: I mean what I want to talk more about what Senator Kennedy is doing because I think that this is really interesting and it turns out, Jeffrey, that when he keeps bringing up in -- in terms of his rationale for why he believes this is he keeps bringing up a Financial Times article. It was from August 2016. And in that Financial Times article, it talks about how there were some Ukraine leaders who were worried about Donald Trump winning the election because he seemed to be so solicitous of Vladimir Putin and he seemed to be siding with the Russians.


Russia, which is an existential threat, as we know, to Ukraine. That is what he's equating with the same interference that Russia, in their vast cyberterrorism, basically, network, that the idea that some Ukraine leaders didn't want President Trump to win --

TOOBIN: Right.

CAMEROTA: That's what he's hanging his hat on. TOOBIN: Ukraine is a big country. There are millions of people who

live in Ukraine, including many in the government. Some of them follow American politics. Some of them wanted Hillary Clinton to win. That's not surprising. But to compare that with an organized financial military intelligence effort that went on with Russia, you know, it's also worth remembering, in the Mueller investigation, there are two indictments, one of Russian military intelligence for the hacking of the DNC, and the Internet research agency in St. Petersburg for the social media part of the effort. I mean these are actual, criminal indictments that are pending now. The defendants haven't shown up to fight the charges. But, I mean, this is not just some theory that Russia, you know, was involved in trying to hack our election. It's actually pending before the U.S. courts.

SCIUTTO: The example I always give to people is, how many minutes after the release of the "Access Hollywood" tape, of course very damaging to Trump in 2016, did Russia begin releasing John Podesta's stolen emails? Twenty-two minutes afterwards. It was weaponization of stolen information with intent.

TOOBIN: If I may just add to that. Remember when President -- then candidate Trump said, Russia, if you're listening, go get Hillary Clinton's emails. That night the hacking began in Russia.

SCIUTTO: Yes. Yes.

We have some news in because the Ukrainian president, of course who was on the other side of the phone call with President Trump, Volodymyr Zelensky, has a new interview with "Time" magazine and this quote struck us in here. Relating to the quid pro quo. He says, listen, I never talked to the president from a position of a quid pro quo. That's not my thing. I don't want us to look like beggars. But you have to understand, we're at war. If you're our strategic partner, then you can't go blocking anything for us. I think that's just about fairness. It's not about a quid pro quo. It just goes without saying.

Bianna, I mean this is the core of the Ukraine issue here.


SCIUTTO: In effect you have the Ukrainian president confirming that a strategic part of the U.S. was blocking the aid here, with effect.

GOLODRYGA: And remember -- remember he's doing this from the vantage point of being a president of Ukraine, as well as speaking to the rest of the world. So for his own people, obviously it makes sense that he can't say we were beggars, we would have done anything for this aid, correct? We would have done anything for this money.

That having been said, he makes a key point, we were promised aid. We are strategic partners. We are fighting an existential threat coming from what is a threat to the United States as well ultimately as -- in being Russia, and that aid was cut off for no reason and at a time when it was crucial for -- for not only to get the aid -- the aid to show Russia that the aid came through, but also from a symbolic standpoint. Remember, he also didn't get that meeting that he wanted with Donald Trump at the Oval Office.

And to go back to the Financial Times article and the point that Senator Kennedy seemed to be alluding to, the U.S. editor of the Financial Times this morning said that they went back and scoured all of the publications. Not once did they print anything that suggested that Ukraine interfered or Ukrainian politics interfered or colluded with Hillary Clinton.

But the fact that we're spending so much time trying to debunk --

SCIUTTO: It worked, right.

GOLODRYGA: All of these allegations, it worked. It's what we're doing.

SCIUTTO: Disinformation worked.

GOLODRYGA: And the silence from other Republicans is deafening.


GREGORY: The other piece --

GOLODRYGA: They know better.

GREGORY: The other piece of this is that Ukraine did have a big corruption problem. That's where this is so finely chopped. So you have a new president who comes in, understanding that there's pressure that precedes him to crack down on corruption within the country and a new administration that is using that sensitivity to say, oh, yes, go look over there. We'll tell you what's corrupt, the fact that you didn't look into Hunter Biden put him in such a difficult position when his argument is pretty straightforward there saying, we're got a big threat here that we're countering that's in line with the strategic interest in the United States and the western European countries and you're getting in the way of that for a political errand (ph).

GOLODRYGA: You know who else has a corruption problem, is Russia.




CAMEROTA: Interesting.

SCIUTTO: A little.

CAMEROTA: I also just think that people need to remember that President Trump did green light the military aid to Ukraine in 2017, 2018. What changed in 2019? Hmm.


CAMEROTA: So, anyway, I mean, you know, then that's when he suddenly wasn't comfortable with it when Joe Biden was running.

Thank you, all, very much.

What will the articles of impeachment against President Trump look like? We break it down, next.



CAMEROTA: The Judiciary Committee will hold its first hearing on -- in the impeachment inquiry on Wednesday.

So joining us to explain what to expect we have CNN legal analyst Elie Honig. He's a former federal prosecutor.

Elie, I'm so glad you're here to walk us through what this week is going to look like.

ELIE HONIG, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: All right, Alisyn. Well, recess is over, Congress is back in session, and it's going to be a big and important week.

On Wednesday the House Judiciary Committee is holding a hearing on the constitutional grounds for presidential impeachment. Of course the House invited Donald Trump to send his attorneys. And after months of complaining it was an unfair process, he's deciding to sitting this one out. Apparently he'd rather not engage on the facts. He'd rather claim to be a victim of an unfair process.

Now, viewers should not expect -- we're not going to see fact witnesses, people who were actually involved in the Ukraine scandal. We're going to be hearing from experts and scholars who will testify about the constitutional framework here.


Now, this is an interesting opportunity for Democrats. I think they need to keep it simple and drive home two simple points. Number one, impeachment is not a coup. It's not a hostile takeover. It is in our Constitution. It's the tool that the Constitution gives us to remove corrupt officials.

Point number two, you do not need a crime in order to impeach. Now, the Constitution gives us this famous phrase, impeachment is necessary --

CAMEROTA: And it does mention crimes here.

HONIG: Crimes and misdemeanors, right? And that's led to a lot of misunderstanding. Let's listen to Jay Sekulow, Donald Trump's personal attorney, who tried to tell us you do need a crime.


JAY SEKULOW, PRESIDENT TRUMP'S PERSONAL ATTORNEY: There is no violation of law, rule, regulation or statute with that phone call.


HONIG: OK. But he's wrong. And I'll tell you why.

Let's look at history. This will be a history lesson, the fun kind though. That phrase "high crimes and misdemeanors" is drawn from British parliamentary practice. And British parliament would impeach people for non-criminal abuses of power regularly.

Second of all, Alexander Hamilton. Yes, that Alexander Hamilton wrote in The Federalist papers that impeachment is for political offenses, not necessarily criminal offenses, that proceed from the abuse or violation of some public trust.

And, in our history, U.S. House of Representatives has impeached officials, not presidents but other officials, for offenses including intoxication, not a crime fortunately I guess for some people, tyranny and oppression, not good but also not a crime, and favoritism. And if you look at our history of presidential impeachments, Andrew Johnson, 1868, he was impeached on an article for abuse of power, not tied to a specific crime. The Senate ultimately acquitted him. President Richard Nixon faced a draft article of impeachment also for abuse of power. Not necessarily a crime. Of course he resigned before that could get to actual impeachment. And Bill Clinton, in 1998 and '99 was impeached on an article -- or, excuse me, there was a draft article of impeachment against him for abuse of power, but the House voted that one down.

CAMEROTA: Ha. So will the articles that the House is drafting now follow along that same, historical model?

HONIG: I think they will. I think here's what we're going to be looking at from Adam Schiff, from Jerry Nadler, from the House. I think Article One will be phrased as abuse of power relating to Ukraine. Adam Schiff gave us a preview last week with his letter to the full house. He wrote, we have uncovered a months' long effort in which President Trump again sought foreign interference in our elections for his personal and political benefit at the expense of our national interest.

What I thought was really interesting is, in his letter, Adam Schiff does not mention any specific crime. No mention of bribery. No mention of extortion. No mention of quid pro quo. He's going to phrase it, I believe, broadly as abuse of power. I think there will be a second article for obstruction of Congress. And, again, Schiff gave us a heads up here. In his letter he wrote, the administration undertook an unprecedented campaign of obstruction in an effort to prevent the committee's from obtaining documentary evidence and testimony. This was an ongoing complaint -- legitimate complaint Adam Schiff has had, that the White House is blocking documents, they're blocking witnesses.

And then the interesting, strategic call is, do they get into the Mueller investigation? Do they include the obstruction of justice from Mueller as the third article of impeachment? I thought there was an interesting hint here. In Schiff's letter, he talks about Donald Trump's month's long effort in which President Trump again -- again sought foreign interference in our election.

So what is he referring to there? I think he's referring back to Russia and the obstruction of justice and the effort there to solicit foreign interference. So we may see a third article based on Robert Mueller's investigation.

CAMEROTA: Really interesting, Elie. We will see if your predictions bear out. When will we see these articles?

HONIG: Well, the House is going to see the draft version as soon as tonight, and then they will be discussing them, debating them throughout the week. But it's going to be really soon. We'll see them real soon, Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: Thanks so much for walking us through all that.

HONIG: All right, thanks.


SCIUTTO: Interesting stuff.

Can anything in the impeachment probe shake Republican support for the president? We're going to speak to a Republican who used to support President Trump. Former White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci joins us next.



CAMEROTA: The impeachment inquiry moves to the House Judiciary Committee this week and Republicans are falling in line in their defense of President Trump, mounting an aggressive campaign to delegitimize the entire process.


REP. TOM MCCLINTOCK (R-CA): I think it would be to the president's advantage to have his attorneys there, but I can also understand how he is upset at the illegitimate process that we saw unfold in the Intelligence Committee.

SEN. JOHN KENNEDY (R-LA): Whether you like the president or you don't, we both, I know, agree with due process. Nobody is above the law, Chuck, but nobody's beneath the law. And the Bill of Rights is not an a la carte menu.

REP. DOUG COLLINS (R-GA): They want to get at this president right now before the -- the -- before everybody completely sees through the process sham of the elections for next year. So we're rushing this.


CAMEROTA: Joining us now, former White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci.

Anthony, great to have you here.


CAMEROTA: When you hear your fellow Republicans call this is a sham, what do you think?

SCARAMUCCI: Yes. I mean, look, the original John Kennedy wrote profiles in courage, OK? The current Republicans --

CAMEROTA: The other John Kennedy.

SCARAMUCCI: The other John Kennedy.

These current Republicans are writing profiles in cowardice. And so five years from now people are going to look back and say, OK, so what were you actually thinking when you were telling those lies about Ukraine or when you were telling those lies for President Trump? What were you actually thinking? And there's going to be no answer for that. The only answer they can come up with is, well, I want to stay in power. I was afraid of a presidential tweet. I was afraid to be intimidated by the president. And I thought it was the right thing to do to look loyal in a situation where there's great illegality going on. And that's it. And they're -- and they're taking cover with each other, you know what I mean? And so there's -- there's comfort in a crowd. And so if one or two of them break out from the crowd, you know, then you'll see a cascade. I mean -- but it's just ridiculous what's going on.

CAMEROTA: Well, I think one of the things you're referring to is what Senator John Kennedy of Louisiana said again this weekend about Ukraine.