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Video Shows World Leaders Laughing at Trump; Phone Records with Key Players in Ukraine; Harris Drops out of Race; Georgia's Governor Defies Trump; Founding Fathers Impeachment. Aired 6:30-7a ET
Aired December 4, 2019 - 06:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Seems to be laughing. And then Princess Anne is also sitting there observing also, which the president might not like.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: All right, so, in the next hour, President Trump will meet with the German chancellor and hold a press conference. How will that go?
Joining us from London, CNN White House correspondent Kaitlan Collins and CNN international diplomatic editor Nic Robertson.
So, any idea, Kaitlan, of the response to this viral video?
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, the president hasn't publicly addressed it, but you have to see that if the president sees this video of these world leaders grinning, talking about how he was conducting himself yesterday, he is not going to like it because, remember, this is a president who has said time and time again that if he got into office, he was going to change it because he wasn't going to have world leaders laughing at the United States like he felt happened when he said President Barack Obama was in office.
So he hasn't responded yet. We're waiting to see what it is that his response is going to be.
We do know that he did interact with the Canadian prime minister this morning upon arrival at the second day of this summit. Whether or not the two of them discussed it, though, is still unclear. The White House hasn't gotten back to us yet.
BERMAN: You know, Alisyn, you noted I think astutely the last hour, it's not clear that they're laughing at the president or whether or not they're sharing this experience.
CAMEROTA: Oh, I saw that as a support group.
BERMAN: Yes, commiserating over what happened with the president.
BERMAN: I'm not -- it may be a distinction without a difference in this case because they're having a moment at the president's expense, Nic Robertson. And it comes in a very different setting for President Trump. One in which these leaders, especially Emmanuel Macron, are standing up publicly to the president. They're not really having the normal, you know, dish of attitude from President Trump that they accept.
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: You know, it's really fascinating, you look across the span of the last three years of these leaders' global meetings with President Trump. And we remember back a couple of years ago, his first arrival at NATO and he literally was trying to get to the front of the queue and bounced out I think it was the Montenegro prime minister as they were on their way to lunch and he wasn't the first person to get a handshake from Emmanuel Macron, I think it was, at that point. And so, you know, President Trump found his way with these leaders, with these leaders.
But, at the time, they've been finding their way with him. They're cautious not to upset him, I think, in the past. They've been trying to find -- as we've seen very publically with Macron over the years, first the bromance, trying to find the most effective way to work with President Trump, believing that there is some magic formula or a silver bullet to getting it right with President Trump. And the reality is, is that they recognize now, and the concern at NATO, an d I've heard this said in the corridors here, there's a -- you know, the unpredictability of President Trump.
And I think that's what we're seeing here. We're seeing these leaders, who are used to sort of, you know, they're the leaders of their countries. They are used, in their own countries, to getting things pretty much their own way or the way that they want. And here they're comparing notes about how they deal with President Trump. So it's been a real learning curve.
And I think, you know, the shines come off the president obviously in their eyes. And the fear now I think in a way -- we saw this with Macron, has now sort of come out of the relationship. Obviously still a caution. Obviously still these countries very much -- and as we've heard today, the partnership of NATO is all about all for one, one for all. It's unity. It's strength in numbers. A billion people, 29 countries.
But really you get this sense now that this dynamic with President Trump, it's really blown apart, you know, particularly in the case of Macron.
CAMEROTA: So interesting to hear Nic's perspective from there --
CAMEROTA: That they're trying to figure out the magic formula for cracking the code on President Trump. A fool's errand.
BERMAN: Yes, there isn't one at this point.
CAMEROTA: I mean -- yes.
BERMAN: And Macron has tried everything, you know.
CAMEROTA: Oh, absolutely. The gamut.
CAMEROTA: We've seen the gamut of approaches there.
So, Kaitlan, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the president will be meeting with her. What do we expect?
COLLINS: Well, that's going to be a pretty interesting meeting because they've had a really testy relationship in the past. But, of course, Merkel is now on her way out of office and it seems, judging by the interactions that we've been watching during this summit this week, that the French president is going to be the one to take her place to then be the one who's in that contentious relationship with the president, who pushes back.
And going off of what Nic said, it's astonishing to see how these world leaders are still so surprised by how the president conducts himself, how he does break all of these norms. He's very unorthodox. And it still shows that they're surprised when he does things like yesterday where he had three separate occasions where he was speaking extemporaneously for several times, at times going on for 40 minutes. I think it was a total of two hours and one minute.
So the question is, how does he respond today? Does he do that again? Is there another moment like that, what we saw yesterday?
With Merkel the question, of course, is whether or not the president is going to bring up Germany increasing its defense spending. That has been something the president has been, of course, bringing up multiple times throughout their meetings.
But at times it's been a little bit awkward between the two of them. And he even brought it up yesterday while sitting down with the Canadian prime minister hours before that clip of him acting astonished at the president's lengthy press conference with reporters.
BERMAN: Kaitlan Collins, Nic Robertson, thank you very much. And we should note, we're going to hear from the president several times this morning, including at the very same time as the next impeachment hearing in the House Judiciary Committee. So that will be interesting.
CAMEROTA: Interesting split screen.
BERMAN: Also overnight, this unexpected twist in the impeachment report putting a spotlight on one of the president's strongest allies in Congress. What this new phone records reveal about the role of Devin Nunes, next.
BERMAN: All right, new this morning, this major revelation inside the House Intelligence Committee impeachment report. Phone records that show at least four calls, or attempted calls, between indicted Rudy Giuliani associate Lev Parnas and the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, Devin Nunes, including at least one call that lasted eight minutes.
Joining me now is CNN legal analyst Jim Baker. He's the former FBI general counsel.
Jim, you suggest that if nothing else, this makes Devin Nunes a witness in a federal investigation. Why?
JIM BAKER, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Because he was in contact with at least one person who's under indict in the Southern District of New York, Lev Parnas, who's been charged with others and who is alleged to have been involved in a conspiracy to have -- to basically allow foreign donations into U.S. political campaigns and to undertake efforts to cover that up, basically, by making false statements and falsifying records. And so I think that these, at a minimum, are important leads for the prosecutors and FBI agents in the -- in the -- in that case, in the Lev Parnas case, to follow up. And they should just -- I would -- I can't imagine that they wouldn't ask Devin Nunes exactly what were these conversations and what did you say to him and what did he say to you? And just to try to get to the bottom of that.
In part, I think, to find out if Lev Parnas is going to try to make any claims or statements about what Devin Nunes or others may or may not have said to him.
BERMAN: Now, Lev Parnas is an interesting figure. He is now under investigation, indicted for those alleged crimes that you're suggesting right there, but he's also a key figure in the impeachment investigation --
BERMAN: Because he's the guy that Rudy Giuliani used to do so much of the research in Ukraine. He's also a guy who served as a translator in some key meetings between Giuliani and some Ukrainian officials.
Do you think this makes Parnas a witness or a desirable witness to the impeachment investigators? What's the likelihood that we'll see him before Congress?
BAKER: Sure, he's definitely -- he's been, I think, on their -- on their radar screen and on their witness list for a long time. If they can do it in a way -- if they can get his testimony in a way that doesn't mess up the criminal case in New York, right, because if they don't -- if -- you don't want to be in a position where you're giving him immunity that somehow complicates the New York case.
And so, yes, I think they definitely would -- the investigators would definitely want to talk to him. The impeachment investigators definitely want to talk to him. It's going to be a lot harder to try to -- for the impeachment investigators to talk to Nunes. But -- so, anyway, but I think, yes, it will -- in the criminal case, Nunes is definitely on the witness list, I would think.
BERMAN: Just in terms of theatrics, and this isn't necessarily a legal issue or an FBI issue, but what about the theatrics of Devin Nunes sitting through those public hearings when he had spoken to Lev Parnas, a key player in these events during the events themselves?
BAKER: Yes, he should have disclosed that, obviously.
I think Mr. Nunes, over a period of time, I think has tried to have one -- a foot in both camps. You know he -- he allegedly or supposedly recused himself in the Russia matter and then he showed up -- I was in the room with Andy McCabe and Rod Rosenstein when we were briefing members of Congress about the Russia investigation. And he showed up, even though he was supposedly recused and there was some confusion about that at the time. It was -- it was very murky. And then -- so I don't -- I don't -- I think he's frankly overconfident with respect to his ability to navigate these kinds of issues. I do think he needs some help and some good advice with respect to how to proceed here. I saw a bit of a clip of him on TV last night and, I don't know, he looks a bit concerned, to be frank. That's my impression at least.
BERMAN: Just one other legal matter.
Rudy Giuliani, Jim Acosta is reporting that the Trump campaign is not happy with him. They're really trying to create some distance there. That's a political matter.
As a legal matter, what are some of the complications for the president concerning Rudy Giuliani?
BAKER: Well, look, if the president did nothing wrong, he has nothing to worry about. And if all of his conversations with Rudy Giuliani were above board and on the up and up, then he should be OK no matter what Mr. Giuliani says. If, however, that's not the case, and he decides to somehow separate himself from Mr. Giuliani, let Mr. Giuliani take the blame for some of these activities, then it's unclear exactly what Giuliani would say.
And, you know, he's covered, in most part, his communications with the president are covered by the attorney/client privilege, but there are exceptions to that, especially if they were somehow involved in some unlawful activity. I'm not saying that they were, but I'm saying there are exceptions to the attorney/client privilege. And so Mr. Trump, or President Trump, I'm sorry, needs to be thoughtful about that and get some good legal advice himself.
BERMAN: Jim Baker, always a pleasure and an education to have you on. Thanks for being with us.
BAKER: Thank you.
CAMEROTA: John, only three other presidents have faced impeachment. What were the founding fathers' ideas on how to handle impeachment?
BERMAN: We'll ask them.
CAMEROTA: We have booked them and we'll get a history lesson.
CAMEROTA: Senator Kamala Harris has ended her once-promising presidential campaign, even though she did qualify for this month's Democratic debate.
CNN's Rebecca Buck is live in Washington with more.
So what happened, Rebecca?
REBECCA BUCK, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: Well, Alisyn, it's really one of the most surprising moments yet in the 2020 race, with Kamala Harris announcing that she was dropping out yesterday because she simply didn't have the money to continue to compete.
Listen to what she had to say to her supporters.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: My dear supporters, it is with deep regret, but also with deep gratitude, that I am suspending our campaign today.
But I want to be clear with you, I am still very much in this fight.
Although I am no longer running for president, I will do everything in my power to defeat Donald Trump and fight for the future of our country and the best of who we are.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BUCK: Now, as you mentioned, Alisyn, Kamala Harris had qualified for the December debate. We were going to see her on that stage. But because of her financial strains, she decided it wasn't worth continuing to that point. Of course we've also seen reports in recent weeks of turmoil in her campaign, mismanagement and missteps were also markers of her downfall in this race.
But the president not too disappointed to see her go. He tweeted yesterday, too bad. We will miss you, Kamala. Kamala Harris responded to the president saying, don't worry, Mr. President, I'll see you at your trial, referring to the impeachment proceedings upcoming in the Senate. And, of course, she is going to be on the list for many of these Democrats if they win the nomination to potentially be a running mate. And we expect her to stay on the scene as a rising star in the Democratic Party as well.
CAMEROTA: Doesn't sound like she's going far.
CAMEROTA: Meaning off the campaign trail.
Rebecca, thank you very much.
BERMAN: All right, another big moment in politics today. Georgia's Republican governor is expected to defy President Trump and appoint an Atlanta businesswoman to the Senate. The president wanted Governor Brian Kemp to name a vocal critic of impeachment instead.
CNN's Victor Blackwell live in Atlanta with more.
And this really is seen by many as an act of defiance against President Trump, Victor.
VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT: Yes, John, it is.
Longtime Georgia Senator Johnny Isakson is retiring at the end of the year. He's having complications from Parkinson's disease.
The president had wanted the Georgia governor to name Congressman Doug Collins, who we'll hear a lot from today during that Judiciary hearing. That's not going to happen.
But the reaction from Georgia Republicans, Republicans across the country to the Georgia governor's pick has been stunning. We are just a few hours out from an announcement that could dramatically change the relationship between President Trump and Georgia Governor Brian Kemp.
BLACKWELL (voice over): Georgia Republican Governor Brian Kemp is planning to break with President Trump. Two sources tell CNN that he will appoint Atlanta businesswoman Kelly Loeffler to fill a soon to be vacant Senate seat against President Trump's wishes. That's despite the president campaigning for the governor last year.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He is somebody that will be a great governor of Georgia, Brian Kemp.
BLACKWELL: Instead, a source says President Trump lobbied the governor to tap Congressman Doug Collins, an ardent supporter of the president who has been fighting against the impeachment inquiry as the ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee.
REP. DOUG COLLINS (R-GA): The Judiciary Committee has become a giant Instagram filter to make you appear that something's happening that's not. BLACKWELL: Last month, Kemp brought Loeffler on a secret trip to the
White House to meet the president. According to an official familiar with the meeting, the president was frustrated and urged Kemp to appoint Collins.
COLLINS: I appreciate the support that I've received from the president and many others. I have a big job to do in the next three weeks, and that's impeachment. We'll have to see where the governor goes with his pick and then we'll have a decision to make after that.
BLACKWELL: Georgia Senator Johnny Isakson gave his final speech on the Senate floor on Tuesday and will step down at the end of the year.
REP. JOHNNY ISAKSON (R-GA): Thank you for your support and your friendship to me.
BLACKWELL: Although he was initially up for re-election in 2022, Georgia election rules would force Loeffler to run for the Senate next year, meaning both Georgia Senate seats will be on the ticket in November. But in a time when crossing the president could mean dire, political consequences, Kemp is still expected to choose Loeffler.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is throwing his full support behind that decision.
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): Sounds to me like the governor of Georgia made a terrific appointment. She will be an incumbent Republican senator. We will all be behind her. Everything I've heard about her is extremely -- I think she's going to be terrific.
BLACKWELL: But many conservative groups do not think Loeffler is ideologically aligned with the party on many social issues. And some of President Trump's staunchest supporters are blasting Kemp for defying the president, including Congressman Matt Gaetz, who tweeted, you are ignoring his requests because you think you know better than POTUS, and threatening, maybe you need a primary in 2022. Let's see if you can win one without Trump.
Collins is not ruling out challenging Loeffler in 2020.
COLLINS: That will be a decision we have to make at that point.
BLACKWELL: Well, of course, any change to the Senate comes in the context of the pending trial of the president, the impeachment hearings. We're seeing that today. One, there's no indication that she would side with Democrats or even if she would cast a vote in that.
But just to give you an idea of how this is going over here in Georgia, the board of the Georgia Young Republicans voted unanimously, according to "The Atlanta Journal Constitution," to support the Loeffler pick. But its spokesperson said that unity sometimes means swallowing pride and ambition to do what's best for the party. Clearly not a ringing endorsement. That announcement is scheduled for 10:00 a.m. Eastern. John and Alisyn.
CAMEROTA: Victor, thank you very much.
So, would the framers of the Constitution have pursued impeachment in this case in the Trump presidency? We take a look back, way back, at the history of impeachment and why America's founders considered it such a critical tool.
CNN's Jamie Gangel is here to explain.
You really have gone in the time machine way back.
JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: I asked them personally. I spoke to Madison, Hamilton.
BERMAN: Good booking.
GANGEL: He -- look, it turns out that in 1789, they were pretty good at looking into the future. So we looked -- we asked three historians to help us look back at what were the founders so worried about, how did they come up with those now familiar terms high crimes and misdemeanors, and it turns out they were worried about presidents living up to these words.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FRANKLIN ROOSEVELT, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: I Franklin Delano Roosevelt --
JOHN KENNEDY, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: I John Fitzgerald Kennedy --
LYNDON JOHNSON, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: Do solemnly swear --
RICHARD NIXON, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: That I will faithfully execute --
GERALD FORD, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: That I will faithfully execute --
JIMMY CARTER, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: The office of president of the United States --
RONALD REAGAN, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: And will to the best of my ability --
GEORGE H.W. BUSH, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: Preserve, protect, and defend --
BILL CLINTON, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: Preserve, protect, and defend --
GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: The Constitution of the United States.
BARACK OBAMA, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: So help me God.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: So help me God. GANGEL (voice over): Two hundred and thirty years ago, the founders were so worried about their fragile republic, they felt they needed an impeachment clause, how to get rid of a president before they even decided how to elect one.
Thomas Jefferson called it a formidable weapon.
JEFFREY ENGEL, DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR PRESIDENTIAL HISTORY, SOUTHERN METHODIST UNIVERSITY: We have to remember that the great fear of the constitutional convention delegates was tyranny.
JOANNE FREEMAN, HISTORY PROFESSOR, YALE UNIVERSITY: They had just recently had a revolution. They had broken away from a monarchy. Power was a very big concern.
GANGEL: They trusted George Washington to be the first president, to put the states' interest before his own. But Benjamin Franklin warned, nobody knows what sort may come afterwards.
FREEMAN: How do we rein in a president?
DOUGLAS BRINKLEY, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: The founders knew that they had to do something to stop tyrants and despots.
GANGEL: As North Carolina's Hugh Williamson said, he will spare no pains to keep himself in for life, and will then lay a train for the succession of his children.
But what would warrant impeachment?
James Madison worried a president might, lose his capacity, pervert his administration, or even worse, betray his trust to foreign powers.
BRINKLEY: This is a theme that George Washington hammers over and over again, no foreign influence in our early republic.
GANGEL: And in the 18th century, impeachment was certainly more civilized than the alternative.
ENGEL: Before there was impeachment, the only course would be assassination. Better to be put on trial, Franklin argued, than to face the knife.
GANGEL: After much debate, the constitutional congress settled on these charges, treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.
ENGEL: It's actually remarkably simple. It's a crime against the state, a crime against the people. You don't need to break a law to commit a high crime.
GANGEL: The founders expected the process would be partisan, but they probably didn't envision this.
DAVID HOLMES: President Zelensky, quote, loves your ass.
AMBASSADOR GORDON SONDLAND: Was there a quid pro quo? The answer is yes.
GANGEL: Or this.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: A corrupt witch hunt.
It was a perfect call. A perfect call.
This is a hoax.
GANGEL (on camera): What do you think the founders would think about Donald Trump?
FREEMAN: Oh, boy. I'm going to plead the Fifth on that one. Let me answer it this way. Tyranny was one of the main things that the founding generation was worried about. Demagoguery was the second one.
BRINKLEY: James Madison and Donald Trump have nothing in common, but the Trump character was alive and well at the time of the American Revolution. Somebody with blarney and salesmanship, a pension for being a demagogue. Those characters have existed forever.
TRUMP: No quid pro quo.
GANGEL: But whether you think Donald Trump is guilty or innocent of high crimes and misdemeanors, the underlying questions today are exactly what the founders were concerned about.
ENGEL: What if a president, perhaps, has lied? What if a president worked with a foreign power? What if a president started to make money off the office of the presidency? That's a president that should be removed.
GANGEL: You may remember that yesterday the president said that this was unfair and that these charges were not what the founders had in mind. They were exactly what they had in mind. Really textbook. And when you see them laid out, it's exactly the charges that are being talked about.
BERMAN: I think it's such an important thing to point out, these are exactly the issues at play that the founders were concerned about.
Now, you may not think the president did it --
BERMAN: Or did it to an extent that is impeachable, but they are precisely what the founders --
GANGEL: Or you may not feel as if they rise to the occasion of removal from office. But these are exactly the issues --
CAMEROTA: And their first priority. I mean the thing that they focused on first.
GANGEL: So when I went back and I talked to Madison and Franklin, I did find the footnote to all of this very interesting. That before they figured out how a president would be elected, the first thing they wanted to know was, how do you get rid of a bad one?
BERMAN: Because it hadn't been done before.
Don't forget, there weren't elected leaders like this before we did it.
Jamie, thank you so much for that.
CAMEROTA: Thanks, Jamie, great history lesson. Thank you very much.
All right, all eyes will be on this room right there. The impeachment hearings will begin soon.
And NEW DAY continues right now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The new report from the Intelligence Committee --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Expected to serve as the framework for articles of impeachment.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The impeachment process slowly drags on. They're having one big problem, the president did nothing wrong.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the result of a president who believes that he is beyond impeachment.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: In London, Mr. Trump was locking horns with French President Emmanuel Macron, who had said the NATO alliance had suffered a brain death.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: That is a very, very nasty statement.
EMMANUEL MACRON, FRENCH PRESIDENT: I know that my statements created some reactions. I do stand by it.
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: People call it a bromance. It's been a power play from the get go.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman.