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House Judiciary Begins Impeachment Hearings; Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) is Interviewed about Impeachment; Rep. Jim Himes (D-CT) is Interviewed about Impeachment. Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired December 4, 2019 - 07:00   ET




NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: People call it a bromance. It's been a power play from the get go.


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 a special edition of NEW DAY.

Congress is about to move one step closer to impeaching the president of the United States.

These are the first public hearings from the House Judiciary Committee. They begin in just hours. You're looking at live pictures from inside the hearing room.

The Judiciary Committee actions follow the sweeping, scathing report from the Intelligence Committee that included some startling revelations. Not only does the report make the case that the president abused his power, not only does it outline an effort to obstruct justice, but it reveals the existence of an intriguing web of phone records that might suggest coordination between the president's lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, the White House, Lev Parnas, an individual who has already been indicted, and also one of the key Republicans in Congress who has been defending the president.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: All of this comes as President Trump is on the world stage for meetings with NATO leaders. In a new video released overnight, apparently it shows the U.K.'s Boris Johnson, French President Macron, and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau sharing some laughs at President Trump's expense.

So, what does this mean for today's meetings?

CNN's Suzanne Malveaux is live inside that hearing room on Capitol Hill.

What do we expect, Suzanne? SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We're here back in this big,

beautiful hearing room behind the scenes just three hours away from the House Judiciary Committee's opening hearing. Just behind me you'll see different characters here. The tallest seat, of course, being for Jerry Nadler, the chair, as well as right beside him Doug Collins, the ranking member. They'll be flanked by their council. You also have Democrats on this side, Republicans on the opposite side.

The witnesses, there will be four witnesses today. There will be three constitutional scholars for the Democrats who will be making the case for why impeaching the president would be appropriate. There is a Republican scholar as well who will be making the opposite case. And the format essentially going to be the same as the House Intelligence hearing.

So it will start off with those opening statements from the chair. Nadler, as well as the ranking member, Collins. You'll have the witnesses sworn in. Then the witnesses delivering their opening statements, ten minutes a piece.

The chairman, as well as the council, will have up to 45 minutes to question the witnesses. They'll go back to the Republicans and their counsel. They'll be able to do the same. And then members of the committee will have those five-minute rounds to go ahead and ask their questions before closing statements.

The big difference here, of course, is that Democratic aide saying that they want to keep the tone serious and somber, academic. But this committee is twice as big as what you saw in the House Intelligence. There are a lot of lawyers and personalities. The big challenge is for Nadler, will he be able to control the members of the committee and these personalities as they make their case for and against the president?


CAMEROTA: Exactly the person to ask, and we have her next.

Suzanne, thank you very much.

Joining us now is Democratic Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal. She's a member of the Judiciary Committee holding today's hearing.

Congresswoman, thanks so much for joining us.

I know you have a busy morning. So let's talk about what Suzanne just teed up there for us about what we can expect because pundits predict fireworks. And the reasons they predict -- the reason they predict fireworks is because on your committee does sit some quite vociferous members of Congress who are big President Trump supporters. I'm thinking of Congressman Matt Gaetz. He led the charge to disrupting some of the depositions a few weeks ago. And then we have Congressman Andy Biggs, who himself is sort of telegraphing what might happen.

Listen to what he said on Fox TV this weekend.


ANDY BIGGS (R-AZ): It's a bunch of brawlers sometimes on the Judiciary Committee. So it should get pretty -- pretty hot and under the collar as we go along.

It should be pretty -- pretty -- much -- much more feisty, I would say, than the Intel Committee was.


CAMEROTA: So, Congresswoman, what do you expect?

REP. PRAMILA JAYAPAL (D-WA): Well, I think there's no question it's going to be different than the Intel Committee. That is a smaller committee. Traditionally it has been a relatively bipartisan committee. And, you know, I think the tone of what the Intelligence Committee was doing was very different. It was fact finding.

The Judiciary Committee, it does have, as you mentioned, a lot of these characters from the Republican side who are hell bent on making sure that they defend the president at any cost, including the cost to our democracy, the cost to our national security, and the cost to our elections. And so I do think that they have telegraphed that they are going to try and make chaos today.

But I just hope that the American people who are watching understand the graveness of what is before us. This is a president -- and the facts are uncontested. This is a president who literally has abused the power of the Oval Office, a sacred trust between the American people and the president, to essentially coerce a foreign ally into digging up dirt and interfering in our election and withholding, as sort of his carrot for all of that, withholding this military aid to Ukraine that was already authorized by Congress.


That is a huge problem for any democracy to survive. And so we are in a serious moment. I hope the Republicans don't treat this as a game, but I am afraid that they might.

CAMEROTA: Well, by the way, Congresswoman, I mean I don't mean to suggest that Democrats are above theatrics. Your Democratic colleague, Steve Cohen, brought a bucket of KFC chicken to a hearing recently to sort of taunt Attorney General Bill Barr. Do you know if Democrats have anything up their sleeve for today?

JAYAPAL: We -- we are taking this extremely seriously. We have really focused on making sure that we use this hearing to get the information. And some of it you were covering, by the way, excellent job earlier, on covering what is a high crime and misdemeanor? What did the founders envision when they put in these -- these essentially checks and balances on the power of the executive? And we have some really good scholars today that I think will elucidate that.

CAMEROTA: I want to get to those scholars right now because Republicans have suggested that you chose partisans. So here they are on the screen. And a couple of them, Professor Michael Gerhardt, he, in 2008, I believe, donated $1,200 to Obama's campaign. Professor Pamela Karlan of Stanford, she donated $1,000 to Elizabeth Warren's campaign.

Did you consider finding more politically neutral experts?

JAYAPAL: Well, look, the -- the president of the United States has himself donated a lot of money to Democrats. I don't think that that means anything.

I think what you have to look at is the scholarly history. Karlan has -- has actually argued before the Supreme Court. She runs one of the preeminent courts of the land or training programs of the land that trains lawyers to go and argue before the Supreme Court. Each one of these scholars that we have selected has a very particular expertise in democracy reform, in election security, in corruption and intent, which is very important as we look at exactly what is before us and whether it rises to the level that the founders envisioned in Article One.

CAMEROTA: So when some of your Republican colleagues go after them or try to impugn their character, as they will today, and we've seen this before, we've seen that playbook, what is the plan? What is the plan for, if that happens, or if some of the theatrics happen?

JAYAPAL: Well, there are going to be theatrics. Unfortunately, I can tell you, I know the Republicans on this committee. I know what they've said on -- on Fox News and other programs about what they intend to do. And I just think it is very, very sad.

But the chairman -- we have ultimate faith in the chairman. He will control and gavel down. And there will -- but there will be theatrics. There's no question about it.

So I would just say to all the viewers who are out there, look past those. Look at what these scholars are actually saying. Look at the seriousness of the charges that are before us. And think about what happens if we have a president in power who has unchecked power and abuses that sacred trust between the people and the presidency to influence the very heart of what is our democracy, our election security and our national security.

CAMEROTA: Some congressional watchers don't have as much confidence in Chairman Nadler as you seem to. They recall, for instance, the Corey Lewandowsky hearing that didn't go as planned. So what gives you so much confidence that Chairman Nadler will be able to tackle all of this today?

JAYAPAL: This -- you know, Chairman Nadler has -- has been in Congress on the Judiciary Committee for a long time. He is a very skilled expert on the law, on the Constitution. And he will be -- you know, I'm -- like I said, this is not -- people should not expect this to have the same tone as the Intel Committee because they are two very, very different committees.

But I know that he is prepared and we are prepared on the Democratic side for all the games that the -- that the Republicans may throw out. I just, again, would say that, you know, it's -- it's -- I'm trying to find the right words. This is a moment when essentially the Republicans have allowed the president to get away with anything.

And, you know, just -- Alisyn, two weeks ago, I think, my former Washington state senator, Republican Slade Gorton, wrote an article in the paper, I think it was "The Washington Post" or "The New York Times," and said that the Republicans have plenty in front of them to impeach the president. Just recently we had Bill Ruckelshaus, just die, again from my state, but formerly the deputy attorney general for President Nixon, who stepped down in the Saturday Night Massacre because he refused to fire the special prosecutor.


What we need from Republicans at this point is that kind of character and patriotism to our country, to our Constitution, and to our democracy. If they don't give it to us, then it will be upon Democrats to preserve our -- our republic, our democracy. And we will be up to the task. But I hope that there will be some Republicans that remember what is at stake and this is far beyond their re-elections or their party.

CAMEROTA: Some editorials, as well as experts, have suggested that Democrats are rushing this. That, in fact, you all should have waited for the courts to play out some of the really key witnesses. The John Boltons, the Mick Mulvaneys. That -- that you could have subpoenaed them, you could have pressed harder and more aggressively pushed important (ph). They're the ones who have the real answers and can connect the dots.

Are you moving too fast to an artificial before Christmas deadline?

JAYAPAL: Yes, you know, the thing about this is it -- this is unprecedented. The way that this president is behaving is unprecedented. Even Nixon sent his top aides to Congress to testify. He did not try to stop them from testifying. Now, they lied, they did other things, but he didn't try to stop them. He released enormous numbers, you know, amounts of documents.

This president has obstructed Congress every step of the way. And so for us the balance that we have to strike is, when is there enough information to move forward versus the real danger to the country of leaving an abusive president in office with unchecked power. And that is a very grave danger.

So we are proceeding. There's -- the facts are uncontested, as I said. There's a very clear trail here. And it reflects the same pattern that we saw also in the Mueller report, you know, with obstruction of justice, that 400-page report that Robert Mueller put out.

I -- this is the same pattern that we saw there. But it has unfolded directly in front of the American people. We don't know what else is out there as we're seeing even with the Intel report new -- new reports of how Republicans were coordinating at every level with some very, very shady characters. So we -- we do have to move forward. We will move forward.

CAMEROTA: And last, now that you have read the House Intel Committee's -- I mean the House Intel Committee's 300-page report, what articles of impeachment do you see clearly in there?

JAYAPAL: Well, we're not at that stage yet, Alisyn. We have to go through this process. We have bent over backwards to make it fair for the president. He has, unfortunately, it looks like, he's still not participating. That's up to him. He can't scream that it's not fair and then choose not to participate. So we need to wait for all of that information to be in front of us.

If the president is going to present a case of defense, we need to hear that. And then we will look at all of that and decide exactly what way forward we want to go.

So I think it's undetermined at this point what those articles will be, but we will make sure that they are clear to the American people about those high crimes and misdemeanors that the founders warned us about, had conversations about, and put into Article One powers of -- of the House Judiciary Committee that we have this power to impeach a president because they were so afraid of demagogues and tyrannical leaders. And so we're -- we're going to perform that duty to the Constitution, the single oath that we were sworn into when we came into office.

CAMEROTA: Congresswoman Jayapal, thank you for your time on this busy morning.

JAYAPAL: Thank you, Alisyn. Thank you.


BERMAN: What a great discussion that was. Very interesting.

All right, there was this surprise in the Democrats' impeachment report. These phone records between the president's personal attorney and a whole range of people, including a mystery number. We'll talk much more about this report, next.



BERMAN: There was at least one big surprise in the House Intelligence Committee report on Ukraine. Phone records uncovering new details about how Trump allies may have coordinated their efforts, including some mysterious calls between Rudy Giuliani, the White House and OMB, Lev Parnas, and this mysterious number one.

Joining me now is Democratic Congressman Jim Himes, who serves on the House Intelligence Committee.

Congressman, thank you so much for being with us.

What did you know about these phone records when you were conducting the public hearings over those two weeks?

REP. JIM HIMES (D-CT): Well, not a lot, actually. A lot of that production turned up fairly late in the game, which is why you didn't see or hear a lot of question about -- about what this particular call may have been about.

But it also sort of points to something quite interesting, which is, imagine if the White House, rather than taking the historically unprecedented step of saying, we're not going to allow the State Department, DOD, anybody in the White House to testify, to produce documents, to produce emails, imagine if they had actually, like they are legally required to do, actually provided emails and these sorts of records. We would know a lot more than we know today.

BERMAN: Just to be crystal clear, had any of them been turned over, the record of the calls, prior to the questioning? Were they known to the committee or the committee council at any point during the questioning?

HIMES: I think they were known. So I don't know the exact sequence.


HIMES: But I think they were known certainly to the investigative staff for the open hearings. I don't know exactly with they arrived with respect to the depositions.


But, again, you know, had some of those calls been known at the time of the original depositions, I think you would have seen a lot more questions about them.

BERMAN: OK, but interesting that they were known at least by some during the public hearings.

These records include calls between Rudy Giuliani, an OMB number, Office of Management and Budget, several calls between Giuliani and White House numbers, calls between Giuliani and Lev Parnas, this indicted figure who Giuliani used to try to dig up dirt in Ukraine, and then this eight-minute call with "-1."

Now, the reason that might be significant is "-1" in the Roger Stone investigation turned out to be the president of the United States. What's the significance, in your mind, of Giuliani's call with "-1" on the date, April 24th, that the ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, was recalled from Kiev?

HIMES: Well, again, not knowing for sure exactly who "-1" is, that's a hard question to answer.

But the larger picture that you describe, which is -- which is absolutely right really shows the extent to which Rudy Giuliani was coordinating and running the show. Not a surprise, by the way, of course. We heard that that was true from Ambassador Sondland. We heard that that was true from every single witness who basically said some version of Rudy Giuliani is out there spreading misinformation, sort of running his own foreign policy, going at odds with official United States foreign policy with respect to the aid and the White House meeting and that sort of thing.

So, again, it's a little hard to know, but it does tell a story of Giuliani really being the guy who is doing all of these things and driving this stuff in Ukraine. And as we know, Rudy Giuliani is not an employee of the federal government. He works for the president, which, again, is a somewhat indicting fact about what the interest was behind the person who was enmeshed in all of these sort of shady activities.

BERMAN: And then, as you look at the phone records, one of the things that jumps out is four phone calls between Lev Parnas, who, again, is this figure who has been indicted by the Southern District of New York, and Devin Nunes, the ranking Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, including an eight minute phone call between the two men. This is what Congressman Nunes said about that contact overnight.


REP. DEVIN NUNES (R-CA): It's possible but I haven't gone through all my phone records. I don't really recall that name. You know, I remember the name now because he's been indicted. And I'll go back and check all my records, but it seems very unlikely that I would be taking calls from random people.


BERMAN: The phone records here say he did take that call, at least one that was eight minutes long.

What questions does this raise to you about Ranking Member Nunes?

HIMES: Well, you know, it sadly illustrates something that has been evident to all of us on the committee and, quite frankly, to anybody who has watched the committee in the last year and a half, which is that then Chairman Nunes, now Ranking Member Nunes, for a year and a half has complexly given over whatever responsibilities he may feel he has as a member of Congress in the service of being the president's guy, his -- the president's defender. The guy who will try to keep alive all of the conspiracy theories about, you know, the Russian conspiracy theories, about Ukraine being the entity that messed around in the 2016 election.

So not a huge surprise, again, to those of us who have watched Devin. He is there to defend, like Mark Meadows, like Jim Jordan, facts be damned, he is there to defend the president of the United States. And that's a -- that's a concerning thing for those of us who care about congressional oversight.

BERMAN: You see an ethics violation possibly here?

HIMES: Well, I don't think, you know, for -- there's something a little absurd about -- about having a bunch of phone calls and then saying that you need to go back and consult your phone records to remember a phone call of -- with, by the way, somebody who subsequently has been arrested and indicted. That's not the way the human brain works.

But, no, I'm not going to say that there's an obvious ethics violation. You know what -- much more concerning, of course, is the report. And it is a report that he may have used official resources to go to Europe to try to serve the president's political interests there. That would be an ethical violation if it is true.

But look, talking to Lev Parnas and then sort of denying that you -- you remember doing it, sort of the Donald Trump of defense, right, I barely met the guy, that may be unseemly, but it's not clear -- it's not clear that it's an ethics violation.

BERMAN: In this 300-page report, I want to read you a sentence that struck me. It also struck Jamie Gangel, who's standing next to me, to be in part of our panel next bloc. But it's the very first line of the preface, which reads, this report reflects the evidence gathered thus far by the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. Those words, thus far, jumped out at us. Are you indicating you are conducting more work? What else are you looking for or do you expect to find?

HIMES: Well, we have all kinds of outstanding subpoenas that are being ignored. Subpoenas for documents out of the State Department. That's another story that has yet to be fully told exactly who knew about the firing of Marie Yovanovitch. We -- you know, just because Gordon Sondland decided that he was going to show that he was not operating as a lone actor, we got a few emails that indicated that the secretary of state knew what was going on.


Imagine if we had a comprehensive set of emails, of documents, of phone records.

You know, one of the things that was interesting about the open hearings, John, those open hearings, you know, oftentimes they don't produce a lot of new information. But it's hard for me to remember one hearing in which somebody didn't appear with new information. Whether it was the tale of the phone call that was overheard in Ukraine between Sondland and the president, the famous phone call of he, you know, he loves your ass I think was the -- was the phrase used of the president of the United States about the president of Ukraine, or the memory that -- that -- or the facts that were dredged up around the fact that the Ukrainians knew that there was a hold on their military aid.

So my point is that, you know, the more information we get, the more this rather sinister plot really comes into sharp focus. So of course we will continue to demand the documents that we have asked for and demand that people who have been subpoenaed show up. Whether they do so or not, of course, is a different question.

BERMAN: Another one of the tropes that is out there fueled by the president is that as Democrats are conducting the impeachment investigations, no other work is getting done. Now Democrats say, no, no, we've passed 400 things from the House of Representatives, hundreds of things from the House of Representatives, just not going through the Senate.

You yourself have something you've worked on for some time that you're getting on the House floor, I believe tomorrow, which has to do with insider trading.

What's that?

HIMES: Yes, that's exactly right. And so it's a good week to ask me that question for precisely that reason. And, you know, as it happens, there actually is no specific law against insider trading. Insider trading forever has been prosecuted under fraud provisions. That's led to a lot of court made law.

So, after a lot of hard work, after a couple of years of hard work, we actually have a bipartisan bill with Democratic and Republican support that will fix that problem, as you say, in the next 48 hours here in the House. But that's really just emblematic of the problem not being that we're not getting stuff done. We're getting plenty of stuff done. As you said, there's some 400 bills out there that have passed in the House of Representatives. The reason that they are not going anywhere has nothing to do with distracted Democrats because every week we pass bills. It has to do with the fact that Mitch McConnell has converted the United States Senate into a machine to approve judges. So the Americans need to understand that half of the Congress is a machine to approve Donald Trump's judges. And that, of course, takes up all the time and energy in the Senate and doesn't allow us to take up bills, many of which, by the way, are bipartisan. It's a Senate problem, not a -- not a House Democrat problem.

BERMAN: A bipartisan bill like the one you are getting on the floor this week.

HIMES: You got it.

BERMAN: Congressman Jim Himes from Connecticut, thanks for being with us this morning. I do appreciate it.

HIMES: Thank you, John.

BERMAN: And CNN's got something very special tomorrow night. A programing note. Jake Tapper will moderate a town hall with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. A lot of questions for the House speaker, including the timeline of how this will play out. Will they get an impeachment vote before Christmas? You can watch the town hall tomorrow at 9:00 p.m. Eastern only on CNN.

CAMEROTA: That will be a good question. I hope Jake is taking notes from our show right now.

BERMAN: He's got a few things to learn from us, I think, that Jake Tapper.

CAMEROTA: Yes, (INAUDIBLE). All right, a high stakes hearing on Capitol Hill. What can we expect today in this next phase of the impeachment investigation? We'll get into that.