Return to Transcripts main page

AT THIS HOUR

House Judiciary To Hold Next Impeachment Hearing Monday; Pelosi: "Don't Mess With Me". Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired December 5, 2019 - 11:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[11:00:00]

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): -- affairs and government reform had hearings bringing, again, patriotic Americans some appointed by the president, who presented the facts. And then we had yesterday the hearing of the professors, the constitutional scholars. What was so valuable about that is while we have talked about it and while the Foreign Service Officers talked about it, when the professors taught about it, they taught about it. And they taught about the constitution and what the vision was of our founders and what the violations are of this president and what that is all about. So, I think people have just a desperate grasp of why it is important for us to go forward.

(CROSSTALK)

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The Democrats from districts that the president carried who are skeptical about moving forward and impeachment inquiry, they later embraced moving forward. Are you concerned at all that some of them may face a backlash if they vote for articles of impeachment and it could ultimately hurt them in their races come next year?

PELOSI: Well, thank you for your question. This has absolutely nothing to do with politics. It isn't about politics, partisanship, Democrats and Republicans. That's totally insignificant. It's about the constitution of the United States, the oath of office we take to protect and defend the constitution from all enemies, foreign and domestic. It's about the president not honoring his oath of office. So no, I'm not concerned.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Madam Speaker --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Madam Speaker --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Madam Speaker, do you have --

(CROSSTALK)

PELOSI: OK.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Madam Speaker, on a slightly different note, are you concerned about what this vote might do to the country and how did you weigh that as you came to this conclusion? PELOSI: How does this would vote -- well, I -- as I said this

morning, I'm really sorry the president made this necessary by his complete disregard for the vision of our founders for his -- for what he is doing. Article II says I can do whatever I want. It was completely contrary to what our founders had in mind. So all along, I said for two years, this is -- an impeachment is not a pleasant experience, it can be divisive. We don't take any glee in this at all. It's heartbreaking.

But the president gave us no choice. So we're not going to say, well, we would honor our oath of office, but what? He's the one who's dividing the country on this. We are honoring the constitution of the United States.

And let me say this about our founders. On the Great Seal of the United States, it says Novus ordo seclorum, a new order for the ages. They had so much confidence in what they were doing that they said it was going to last forever, for the ages. Because they had written a constitution, the founding documents, thank God, they made it amendable so that we could expand freedom overtime and always will continue to.

But they predicated that on people honoring the constitution of the United States. They could predict that there would be a rogue president of the United States. They probably couldn't predict that there would be a rogue Senate leader who would just ignore the facts and the constitution on all of this. And so we have the responsibility to do that to strengthen the institution in which we save.

And if we did not act on this, the message to any future president, Democratic, Republican, whoever he -- she or he may be, would be, you can do whatever you want. And if we did not act on this, we should amend the constitution and remove impeachment which was very important to our founders, Novus ordo seclorum, from anyone.

And I also -- from anyone is my theme. That was new order for the ages. From anyone is what I've always said about this. As we go forward, we did this in a very deliberative, fair, strong way. Recognizing our founders gave us many calls to action. The times have found us, found them to establish a new country, fight for it and the rest. Found us to protect and defend what they did by honoring our oath of office.

But it also said E pluribus unum from anyone. So we take that heed of that too. To be uniting in what we are doing and what we are doing. To be healing in what we are doing, instead of having an increased violation of what our founders intended and undermining our democracy. We see our mission as defending democracy for the people.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Madam Speaker, from your remarks this morning, you said that we will proceed in a manner worthy of our oath of office.

[11:05:03] PELOSI: That's right.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That you've indicated that's one of the most important serious things that the House of Representatives could undertake.

PELOSI: Absolutely.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, you know, we --

PELOSI: It's historic.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right. And you have not put a time table on doing this, which has been announced there's going to be another hearing on Monday. What --

PELOSI: Presentation of what we have in the committees will be presented on Monday.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right. So, you know, is there any sort of concern about, you said it's not a blur, but moving this before Christmas, moving this before the New Year, anything on that that maybe taking more time so that the public understand that there was one member this morning, Debbie Dingell, who said that -- you know, she was with me with a woman at the funeral (ph) and said I don't understand all of this, is it important to maybe to slow this down, take more time, proceed in a manner worthy of your oath --

PELOSI: We are proceeding in a manner worthy of the constitution. We feel comfortable with all of the time that has gone into this two and a half years since the appointment of Mueller and all that transpired since then. I'm not -- I have confidence, humility, again, a heart full of love for America we are doing this in the right way. And I'm very proud of our chairmen who've taken that.

If some people have some unease, we'll catch them up. And we haven't asked anybody for a vote nor will we. People will make their own mind up -- their own minds up about what this is about.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: House Speaker --

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you very much. Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you hate the president, Madam Speaker?

PELOSI: I don't hate anybody.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Representative Collins --

PELOSI: I don't -- I was raised in --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The reason I asked --

PELOSI: -- a Catholic house, we don't hate anybody. Not anybody in the world. So don't accuse me --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I did not accuse you.

PELOSI: You did.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I asked the question.

PELOSI: You did.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Representative Collins yesterday suggested that the Democrats are doing this simply because they don't like the guy.

PELOSI: I have nothing to do with -- let me just say this.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it's an important point.

PELOSI: I think the president is a coward when it comes to helping our kids who are afraid of gun violence. I think he is cruel when he doesn't deal with helping our dreamers of which we are very proud. I think he's in denial about the climate crisis. However, that's about the election. This is about the -- take it up in the election. This is about the constitution of the United States and the facts that lead to the president's violation of his oath of office.

And as a Catholic, I resent you're using the word hate in a sentence that addresses me. I don't hate anyone. I was raised in a way that is full -- a heart full of love and always pray for the president. And I still pray for the president. I pray for the president all the time. So don't mess with me when it comes to words like that.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN HOST: Hello, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan. Thanks so much for joining us. That is a very unique amount of passion that you do not often see of Nancy -- out of Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker of the House. A fascinating moment that we're watching play out.

Let me just get right to it because there is a lot that has just happened. First, let's go over to Capitol Hill. Phil Mattingly is there for us first and foremost. So Phil, talk to me about this. What we just saw right there, Speaker Pelosi, as you well know, she often will take a final question, she will leave and she does not take questions as she's heading out the door.

But getting the question about what we heard in the hearing yesterday that the only reason Democrats are doing this is coming from Republicans, the only reason Democrats are going after impeaching the president is because they don't like him or they hate President Trump, that clearly touched a nerve.

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that was quite a coda to that press conference, which kind of -- it was in the weeds kind of in-depth look at what they're trying to do, how they got to this point, why Ukraine was the reason that they actually sparked the impeachment inquiry and not anything they found before that, and then finishing with what you just saw from the speaker.

Kate, you made a great point. Once she's done, she typically walks off. She might address a question if it's about the Golden State Warriors, but very rarely comes back to the microphone. So it clearly touched a nerve. And I think clearly kind of hit her in a personal manner. And I think you were starting to see, and I'm not saying that this is a new thing necessarily because this place has been pretty divided for some time, but the kind of impassioned beliefs of individuals really on both sides and the kind of attacks that are coming from both sides have left people pretty raw. And I think you saw the speaker respond to that.

I think you're also seeing Democrats respond to the idea which has been pushed by Republicans. To some cases, it's very true depending on which member you're talking about, that they wanted to just impeach the president the second he got into office. That's not indicative of the entire caucus. That is indicative of some in the caucus. Those that it's not indicative of take that very personally and are very offended by that, particularly when it's, as the speaker laid there, the idea that she hates the president or something along those lines.

So, I don't know what the speaker is thinking or her personal feelings at all times, but that's about as close as you're going to get to have her laying that out.

[11:10:02]

Kate, I will note, you noticed -- you said that a lot is going on right now, it feels like every day is a news avalanche up here, to some degree. While the speaker was speaking, the House Judiciary Committee noticed their next impeachment inquiry hearing. It was the one we expected. It will come on Monday. It will be a presentation of the House Intelligence Committee's impeachment inquiry report, the 300-page Democratic report, Democratic counsel will present that on Monday to the committee.

The Republican counsel will have an opportunity to present their 123- page rebuttal report to that as well. Why this hearing is important, first off, obviously, bringing to light what we were all reading is important from the public perspective, understanding what's actually going on for both sides of the committee, but also this is the crucial next step. We obviously had the speaker this morning announced that articles of impeachment are being drafted. She's working with the committee chairs on that. This was the next public step that they had to take to get to this point, and all this underscores is what we've really been saying and you and I have been talking about now for a number of weeks.

Democrats are on a timeline. They are moving quickly. They plan on finishing this by Christmas. And the speaker addressed that specifically saying this isn't because of politics, or because of an election, or because of what one member thinks or another member thinks. From her perspective, at least publicly, this is about the constitution. It's because they feel like they have to act now. They can't not base on what they've seen, and so they're pressing forward and then moving forward quickly, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Yes. And as you -- there are still a lot of unanswered questions even -- despite she was asked point blank about scope of charges and is this going to speed up, is this going to slow down. She wasn't going there.

Phil, stick with me for a second. Let me bring in Dana. Dana, is here with me.

That was --

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Wow.

BOLDUAN: -- really interesting, that moment just there. Obviously, it caught both of our attention. What do you think of what you just saw --

BASH: OK, well --

BOLDUAN: -- with Speaker Pelosi.

BASH: So three things just to kind of explain just what just happened.

BOLDUAN: Yes.

BASH: And Phil did a great job on one of the things, which is that the core of the substance of what James Rosen, that reporter, was asking was about the Republican mantra --

BOLDUAN: Yes.

BASH: -- that this is just about Democrats being sore losers after the 2016 election.

BOLDUAN: Yes, they've been wanting to do this since -- yeah.

BASH: And wanting to do this since day one. So that's number one.

Number two, it is -- it was the word hate that set her off because it feeds into that idea, but also it's a personal thing for her. When she said, don't mess with me, she said don't mess with me when it comes to the words --

BOLDUAN: Yes, she did.

BASH: -- that you use or you -- that you ascribe to me. And third, you know, not to get too far behind the curtain, but why not, James Rosen used to work for Fox News. He has been somebody who has asked her questions that have really ticked her off before. And so that is a history that can't be overlooked. But, wow --

BOLDUAN: But it's really notable.

BASH: -- what a moment.

BOLDUAN: I -- for -- I'm so glad you're here, Dana, because --

BASH: Yes.

BOLDUAN: -- when you're in the room -- this is a weekly press conference. She holds this every week. There is a formality to it. There is a tradition to -- there is a way that she runs it and how it always goes. So if you shout out a question, she's basically not going to call on you.

She -- when she takes last question, she is -- she means it and she walks off. The only time I've ever thought that she has stopped to take a question after she walked from the podium, if it was something funny about a sporting event, or some kind of like bet that she made with a fellow lawmaker.

BASH: Yes.

BOLDUAN: This was very different. And I think it speaks to the enormity of the moment. I really do.

BASH: It absolutely does. She doesn't lose it. And I'm not saying that she lost it there. She did that for a reason.

BOLDUAN: Yes, yes, yes.

BASH: She wanted to be stern. Again, the fact that that particular reporter asked the question is no -- there's no --

BOLDUAN: It's part of it.

BASH: -- that's why she reacted like she did, but also it's about the substance of it. This -- it's what she's trying to beat back with every word that she utters since her statement this morning through this press conference, which is this is not about politics, this isn't about what happened in 2016 with Hillary Clinton losing, this is about the fact that the president, in her judgment and the judgment we will see likely of most of the Democrats, abused his power, obstructed justice and -- obstructed Congress, in particular, and he needs to be called on that. And she knows, which is when she answered Manu's question about politics, she said, you know --

BOLDUAN: It's not about politics.

BASH: -- it's not -- I'm not even --

BOLDUAN: Absolutely nothing about politics.

BASH: I'm not even considering that. Well --

BOLDUAN: It is.

BASH: -- I mean, she's a politician. She's a public servant, but she's a politician.

BOLDUAN: It's also a political decision.

BASH: And she is hearing about the politics of this from her caucus. I spoke to one of the so-called frontliners, people who are in heavy Trump districts, and what they are saying is that she's listening. She gets it. She gets the need to do this fast, do this focus, in order for their viability and ultimately for the majority -- for the Democrats in the House for their viability when it comes to the next election.

BOLDUAN: Joining us now is Manu Raju. He was inside the room, obviously, we saw Manu asking a question to the speaker.

[11:15:04]

Manu, just give me your take being in there with what we just heard from the speaker.

RAJU: Well, the last exchange was extraordinary. I mean, I've never seen her stop like that before and particularly go back to a podium and really let her feelings be known. She was quite angry, I can tell you standing and seeing right in front of her. It's obvious, I'm sure, on television too.

But, I've got under her skin before, but not quite like that. And so she was making it very clear because the Republicans for some time have been saying that it's all because they hate the president. That's the argument the Republicans have been making. She's trying to say this is not about personal feelings towards the president.

Nevertheless, I mean, in this -- the press conference also was revealing in the sense that she didn't want to talk about the scope of the articles of impeachment. Clearly, that's a discussion that will need to happen internally be as she tries to sell this to her members.

And as Dana was just mentioning, the politics of it, I've been hearing from those vulnerable Democrats as well --

BOLDUAN: Yes.

RAJU: -- who have been concerned about moving forward, who have reluctantly embraced the idea of moving forward, she said she's not concerned about the politics that they may face, the backlash that they may face back home, and perhaps because she cited at the top that she's seen the polls increase, not decrease overtime, although it's different district by district.

And ultimately, the decision to move forward, as Dana was noting, getting this done before the end of the year is important because they want to move on to other issues, which is why Pelosi, for so much time, has been trying to focus on the domestic agenda, not on impeachment. They don't necessarily believe this is the best politics for them back home. And she made it clear here that we're going to have the vote, it's going to happen soon, and we're going to move on to other issues.

BOLDUAN: Well, and a microcosm of exactly that issue is what you saw play out in this press conference. The speaker talking about the legislation that they are focused on, they are moving forward on while also talking about saying dual tracks they like to say, working on impeachment as well. But it is really nearly impossible to talk about all of that when we see this impeachment moving as quickly as it is. Though she says it's moving at the deliberate speed that it was going to be moving. Manu, if you could stick with me. Let me get back to Phil because you

have been doing some great reporting, Phil, on as action moves in the House, the -- there is going to be a trial in the Senate and there is preparation under way already in the Senate for what that is going to look like. And how different that is going to look from what we're -- we have been seeing play out in the House, obviously, first and foremost being that it's going to be run by the Republican majority.

MATTINGLY: Yes, look, if you think it's wild over here, just wait until you cross to the other chamber, basically, is the takeaway. Look, the interesting element about all of this is how little anybody knows over the United States Senate about what's actually going to happen next. When I asked Leader McConnell, Mitch McConnell, about this earlier this week, he says, I just don't have an answer for you on that matter right now. And he wasn't trying to dodge the question. He wasn't trying to deflect the question. They literally do not know what's going to happen.

And here's why. There are a broad set of rules as to how the Senate would deal with an impeachment process when it comes over, when the House votes, when it goes over the Senate. But, those are very kind of broad, not very detailed rules. It leads a lot to interpretation.

So basically what needs to happen is the Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer are going to have to meet and see if they can hammer out a bipartisan resolution to essentially lay out the rules of the road of what's going to happen next. That's what happened in 1999 with Bill Clinton.

Here's the problem, there's no guarantee that that bipartisan resolution is going to actually work or come together. And if it does not, basically things on the Senate floor will happen by a simple majority, 51 votes. That 51 votes will dictate how long the trial goes, 51 votes will dictate who wants to testify, who gets to testify, and what format they testify.

So there's a lot of incentive for Democrats not to let it get to that point, to reach a deal. But McConnell making very clear that, look, if no deal is there to be had, that could be the end game here. And if that's the end game, Kate, Republicans control 53 seats. The president has made clear he wants people like Hunter Biden, and the whistleblower, maybe even Joe Biden, maybe Adam Schiff to come testify. If they've got 51 votes for that and there's no broader resolution laying out specific ground rules, that could actually happen.

And I think what's been most interesting about the conversations I've had with senators is twofold. One, how little they know what's going on and how little they're talking to one another across party lines about what's coming. It's a little bit of see no evil, hear no evil, but also the reality of when this comes over, there is a recognition that certain people on the Democratic side and certain people on the Republican side are likely going to have to come together and figure out a way to keep this on the rails. We've seen gangs get together on any number of issues over the United States Senate over the course of the last 10 or 20 years. BOLDUAN: If a gang pop -- if we've got to gang at something -- if we

got to gang at something that comes, Phil, I'm going to lose it.

MATTINGLY: Yes. Well, you're not going to be the one who has to stand outside of their offices for 15 hours at a time. But keep an eye on that. You're going to see certain members of the Senate, people who are institutionalist, people who are retiring, moderates on the Republican side --

[11:20:03]

BOLDUAN: Yes.

MATTINGLY: -- same type of people on the Democratic side, try and figure out a way to come together because it's not just about having a legitimate process, but it's also, and I hear this from members of both sides that I've been talking to, it's about the institution. It's about keeping the institution in its right place, keeping the view of the institution the same.

And that is why they have been so clear that a trial has to happen, something the White House now embraces. But also that it has to be done in an orderly manner and to some degree at least structurally bipartisan. Will they get there? That's up in the air. But that's at least what people want to have happen.

BOLDUAN: Yes.

MATTINGLY: We'll see if it actually does.

BOLDUAN: That notion of the institution may sound quaint in the moment that we are in, but it is something on the halls in -- walking the halls on Capitol Hill, that is something that is very much still priority at all times and care deeply -- that they care deeply about.

Phil, stick with me for one second, because a big factor in the decisions that will be made on how things proceed in terms of the Republican majority in the Senate could be coming from how the president feels about it. So, Jeremy Diamond at the White House for us now.

Jeremy, what are you hearing from there right now?

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kate, in the same way that you're talking about, you know, this institution feeling quaint in the minds of senators. That certainly is the view at the White House here where frankly the president is looking towards the Senate trial that he is likely to face as an opportunity to once again dig in on those baseless allegations that he has made against the former vice president, Joe Biden, as it relates to corruption in Ukraine. And that is where the White House is right now, is turning their attention now away from the House of Representatives and instead towards the Senate as they prepare to mount what White House officials are calling a robust defense of the president in this likely Senate trial. They do plan to bring forward witnesses and you can expect some of

those witnesses if they are indeed able to bring them forward to talk about these issues that the president has been so focused on and that got him into this impeachment quagmire in the first place. And that is about the Bidens and about this situation in Ukraine.

But here is the president's reaction today after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced that she will move forward with articles of impeachment against the president. The president tweeting, "The Do Nothing, Radical Left Democrats have just announced that they are going to seek to impeach me over nothing. They already gave up on the ridiculous Mueller stuff so now they hang their hats on two totally appropriate perfect phone calls with the Ukrainian president. This will mean that the beyond importance and seldom used act of impeachment will be used routinely to attack future presidents. That is not what our founders had in mind. The good thing is that the Republicans have never been more united. We will win."

And you see the president there in those final words of that tweet pointing to the fact that Democrats are likely to run into a Republican wall as they get to the Senate. You would need 20 Republicans to join all the members who caucus with the Democrats in the Senate in order to actually remove the president from office. That is not something that this White House sees as likely.

And so, as they look to the Senate and as they prepare for that, they are also looking for political opportunities here. We have already seen the president's campaign mine this impeachment controversy for political donations and you are also likely to see this White House mine trial in the Senate for political points as they move forward. Kate.

BOLDUAN: Yes. Abby -- let me bring in Abby Phillip. Jeremy, thank you so much.

Let me bring in Abby Phillip because another element that also came out this morning as the speaker made that -- even before what we just saw in the press conference said kind of declaration of asking the House of Representatives to formally proceed in drawing up articles of impeachment against the president, which she had obviously not done until this point.

Then she goes to the podium and seems to answer questions before they were asked. One of them being about -- she -- Nancy Pelosi saying that this isn't about Ukraine, she said. This isn't about Ukraine. This is about Russia. And then repeating her line that we've heard in the past of all roads lead to Russia. That framing or, I don't know, reframing in this moment, in this historic moment today, I found really fascinating, Abby.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I did too. It really struck me that she kept repeating that this was a sort of two-year long view of the situation in which Russia is at the center of all of this. And it really makes you wonder if she is trying to tee up the -- just keeping the door open to the articles of impeachment being broader than this issue of Ukraine, creating some space for that conversation to happen as they draft these articles.

Now, you know, I think the politics of that is a little bit tricky, but I think you can see one reason why she might want to do it because she's been trying to point out for some time that this is not about just simply disagreeing with the president in her view. She says that this is about the constitution, about the oath of office, it's about protecting the next election that is coming up in less than a year.

And so, part of the effort to make that case is to draw these lines of connection between Russian interference that has been ongoing since the last election and this, which has all the elements of Russia continuing to mess with our political system.

[11:25:05]

And, you know, for Pelosi, I think she's just trying to keep the options as open as possible for her caucus to go where it needs to go on this, and not -- and keep this separate from what is a clear antipathy toward the president among Democrats. She wants to make this about the constitution. She wants to make this about the election, and she wants to make this about preserving democracy. And I think that's why she kept talking about this two-year view of this whole process, not just the last two or three months.

BOLDUAN: Yes, Dana.

BASH: It's also a way for her, and she alluded to this in her announcement this morning, it's a way for the Democrats to incorporate the notion of the Mueller report, the notion of Russia into whatever it is that they do, assuming that it is really focused on Ukraine as part of a larger goal to, as one of the members said, stop the president from doing something else that abuses power and to show that he can't do it after he's already done it from their perspective once.

BOLDUAN: Yes. And Ukraine is the vehicle, is how she said it. And I think that's --

BASH: Yes.

BOLDUAN: -- an important way of remembering this as we're going to now see hearing on Monday and we're going to be seeing some very important stuffs coming out almost immediately as we saw just now.

Dana, great to see you. Thank you so much. Abby, guys, thank you. I really appreciate it. And an important programming note as we just heard from the speaker, Speaker Pelosi will be on CNN tonight in a special CNN town hall taking questions from audience members.

Jake Tapper will be moderating, 9:00 Eastern. That is this evening. Perfect timing for that.

Still ahead for us. OK, so with Speaker Pelosi's statement, it is full speed ahead as you can very well see. But what does full speed ahead look like for the Democrats in the House that are involved? We're going to ask one key member next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:30:00]