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Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) Says No Choice But To Proceed With Articles Of Impeachment; Biden Goes Off On Audience Member At Town Hall; Giuliani Traveled To Europe To Meet With Ex-Ukraine Prosecutors. Aired 1-1:30p ET
Aired December 5, 2019 - 13:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN HOST: I'm Jim Sciutto in today for Brianna Keilar today live from CNN's Washington headquarters.
Underway right now, the green light to impeach the president, what Speaker Nancy Pelosi just ordered Democrats to do after she says President Trump leaves her no choice. This as the president dares Democrats to impeach him and to do it fast.
Plus, where in the world is Rudy Giuliani? The president's personal lawyer back in Ukraine on a secret mission as he continues to pursue conspiracy theories.
And under fire at home, mocked abroad. how the president fumed over ally leaders appearing to mock him, to laugh at him during a hot mic moment.
We begin with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announcing to the country and to the world that articles of impeachment against President Trump will proceed, Pelosi telling the American people that Trump has left the U.S. Congress with no choice but to move forward.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): The president leaves us no choice but to act, because he is trying to corrupt once again the election for his own benefit.
Sadly, but with confidence and humility, with allegiance to our founders and a heart full of love for America, today, I am asking our chairman to proceed with articles of impeachment.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCIUTTO: Pelosi delivering those words with a somber tone.
CNN's Senior Congressional Correspondent, Manu Raju, live on Capitol Hill. So, Manu, we're hearing, they're being told, these committee members, they're going to work through the weekend and another hearing on Monday.
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. On Monday the House Judiciary Committee is going to hear a presentation from staff counsels from the House Intelligence Committee, as well as from the House Judiciary Committee.
The Intelligence Committee will likely discuss the report that the committee came up with in the aftermath of that two-month investigation into the president's handling of the Ukraine policy and the Democrats' contention that he abused his office in doing so.
And the Judiciary Committee is likely to discuss about matters involving the president's alleged obstruction of justice and his handling of the Mueller investigation. All that will come out on Monday in that hearing.
And then things will move pretty quickly in the House. We expect, according to our sources, that votes on articles of impeachment could occur in the House Judiciary Committee as soon as next week. And that could be a multi-day affair for that committee. And then afterwards, it's going to probably move quickly to the full House. That could happen the week after the 16th, as you see there.
A vote in the full House could happen certainly before Christmas because only a majority is needed in order to approve those articles. That would have to be -- if they are approved by a majority vote, that would make President Trump the third American president to be impeached.
So this historic move then would move to the Senate where there will be a trial that could take several weeks, and the Senate then would almost certainly acquit the president because Republicans are -- there are none at the moment who are saying he should be removed from office. They would need a two-thirds majority to remove him.
But what the articles are right now, that's going to be a process that will unfold in the House, a discussion between Pelosi and her top lieutenants about how to move forward. Expect three articles of impeachment that they're discussing. We'll see if they ultimately decide on moving forward on those three, abuse of power that includes bribery potentially, as well as obstruction of Congress, obstruction of justice, all those under consideration at the moment.
But, ultimately, again, it will be Nancy Pelosi's decision to move forward on exactly what that looks like, but that could come forward by next week, Jim.
SCIUTTO: And also, of course, it's possible that some, but not all, of those articles will achieve a majority of votes. Manu Raju on the Hill, thanks very much.
After House Speaker Pelosi announced the House will drop those articles of impeachment, the White House signaling they will mount a robust defense against Democrats in the Senate as they look ahead to that Senate trial.
CNN's Senior White House Correspondent, Pamela Brown, joins us now.
Pamela, you have new reporting about how the president, how the White House is going to approach this trial.
PAMELA BROWN, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right. Right now, the White House is basically looking ahead, setting its sight on the Senate trial even though there are still more judiciary hearings to come. The president has partly invited but mostly dreaded what is obviously becoming the reality for him, being the third president to be impeached by the House.
Even so, he tweeted today, as you know, Jim, saying that he wants the Democrats to do it fast. Get it over with. Hold the vote so that they can start focusing on the Senate trial where the White House believes it can score more political points. Of course, they're with the Republican majority and distract away from the central allegations that the president is facing.
As you see here in the president's tweets, Jim, the president also says, we will have witnesses like Schiff, like Speaker Pelosi and the Bidens.
So these are people that the White House has been pushing Republican senators to call to the witness stand in a trial.
Now, of course, it is ultimately up to Mitch McConnell. It is not up to the president. And it's notable that the president didn't mention the whistleblower because there have been discussions, Jim, about subpoenaing the whistleblower to testify, but that appears to have been put off the table as of now.
But Pat Cipollone, the White House Counsel, he is going to take the lead in the Senate trial. He's been working with more than two dozen lawyers to mount an aggressive defense for the president over the last several weeks. They've been going through research and what past presidents have done as they mount their defense to make this argument that, in their view, the president did nothing wrong, he is well within his rights as president.
In terms of the thinking right now in the White House, Jim, the belief is that the hearings over the last several weeks have not really swayed public opinion to a great degree. That is the belief in the White House. They don't believe the hearing yesterday in front of the Judiciary Committee was enough to really move public opinion.
And we are expecting a letter from the White House tomorrow by the deadline to respond to Jerry Nadler of the Judiciary Committee, Jim, saying whether or not they're going to participate in this next hearing. I'm told by sources it's unlikely that's going to happen, Jim.
SCIUTTO: Yes, and especially having not participated to this point as well. Pamela Brown, thanks very much.
Pelosi held a second press conference today. And as she was leaving, a reporter asked her this question. She asked her if she hated President Trump. And here's the confrontation. It's a notable one that followed.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Do you hate the president, Madam Speaker?
PELOSI: I don't hate anybody. I was raised in a catholic house. I don't hate anybody, not anybody in the world. Don't accuse me of hating anybody.
REPORTER: I did not accuse you.
PELOS: You did.
REPORTER: I asked a question.
Representative Collins, yesterday, suggested that the Democrats are doing this simply because they don't like the guy.
PELOSI: I had nothing to do with it. Let me just say this.
REPORTER: I think it's an important point.
PELOSI: I think the president is a coward when it comes to helping kids who are afraid of gun violence. I think he is cruel when he doesn't deal with helping our DREAMERs, , of which we're very proud. I think he's in denial about the climate crisis.
However, that's 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 your using the word, hate, in a sentence that addresses me. I don't hate anyone. I was raised in a way that is 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.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCIUTTO: Don't mess with me. Strong words from the speaker there.
Let's bring in Washington Bureau Chief for The Daily Beast, Jackie Kucinich, Tulane Law Professor Ross Garber and CNN Chief Political Analyst Gloria Borger.
Gloria, you've known Nancy Pelosi for some time. The president is calling it a nervous fit. Watching it, it seemed she felt very strong, didn't appear nervous to me.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: She wasn't nervous. She was angry. She was disgusted by the question, clearly. Here, the speaker has spent all her time, and you know this from being on the Hill. She has spent all her time trying to tell the public about the solemnity of any impeachment inquiry or any impeachment vote. She's been talking about the fabric of the nation, the Constitution, democracy, checks and balances. And how she approaches this with sadness, not with glee.
And then this question comes at her, well, do you hate the president? And, clearly, it struck a chord with her, and I think you can't really underestimate also where she said I'm a catholic. This is a matter of faith for her. This is a matter of, as a catholic, she doesn't hate, she prays for you. And it struck a very deep chord with her. I had never heard her snap like that. Have you?
JACKIE KUCINICH, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: No, never.
SCIUTTO: And she walked back to the podium to put a final point on it.
But I wonder, Jackie, she is addressing what is a political question here, right? Is this about the substance of the president's actions or is it about Democratic opposition of the president? I'm not staking out a claim for either of those arguments, but as you know, Republicans have made the argument Democrats have wanted to impeach this guy from day one here. It's something she has to address, does she not?
KUCINICH: So I think it varies from individual caucuses, from individual members. There are some members of Congress who don't like the president, and we saw that when they were running for Congress. So that is present there. But Nancy Pelosi is trying to speak for the entire caucus and trying to, you know, make sure she retains that majority, including those vulnerable members.
[13:10:00] But in terms of -- that question was kind of the binary language that we see coming out of the White House. It's either love or hate, with or against. The president himself said the Democrats hate the country or something, do they love the country. There is no middle ground, there is no nuance when it comes to the White House. And I think for Pelosi, that boiled over today.
BORGER: And her offense was so notable also, because she obviously hated the word, hate, and the president has called her sick and crazy. And yet when somebody said, do you hate the president, she just recoiled. And we haven't seen her like that. And the anger was really evident. It was kind of like, how dare you? No, no, no, no, no. That's not what this is about.
SCIUTTO: Okay. So we're moving very quickly. Ross, you know a thing or two about the process here. You're going to have a hearing next week, likely a vote in the Judiciary committee on the articles as soon as next week and then a vote in the full House the following week.
ROSS GARBER, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: That is the schedule. It is very, very quick. And part of what it means is, I think, sort of where we are now is probably where we're going to be in terms of public opinion, in terms of political support at the time of the vote. And then it goes to the Senate.
SCIUTTO: Let me ask you about the Senate, because the president is already teeing up, calling witnesses. It seems that he's begged off the whistleblower. It must have been communicated to him from the Senate that's not going to happen. But he wants Joe Biden, he wants Hunter Biden, et cetera. What are the rules, simple majority rule, is it not, for each of these witnesses?
GARBER: Well, when you talk about rules, the Constitution says the chief justice presides over any Senate trial. It doesn't say what that means. So the Senate has adopted rules and then it supplemented them in past impeachments. And so right now, what it looks like is now the chief justice could actually make a decision about who testifies and who doesn't.
Historically, that's not how it's worked. Historically, the Senate party in control has actually controlled the proceedings. And so I think, in these proceedings, it will be the Senate Republicans who make the decision who testifies and who doesn't. And the question is going to be, what is their appetite for having these particular witnesses?
GARBER: So, you know, I think there is no chance that Nancy Pelosi testifies before the Senate. Very, very, very unlikely Adam Schiff testifies before the Senate. It will be an interesting question about Hunter Biden.
And then one thing I'll also note is, in the Clinton impeachment proceedings, there were depositions. There wasn't testimony, live testimony, in the Senate, there were depositions.
SCIUTTO: And some clips were played during the trial.
GARBER: It will be interesting to see if that's an angle that's pursued here.
SCIUTTO: Gloria, given what you know of the Senate, yes, Republicans have a 53-47 advantage, but there are Republicans -- can you imagine a Mitt Momney, for instance, voting, yes, call Joe Biden, my old friend, to testify.
BORGER: I can't. But these are procedural matters. And I don't know, and you would answer this, Ross. There's a question whether Mitch McConnell makes that decision or the Senate Republicans, as a whole in the caucus, make that decision?
GARBER: Yes. As a technical matter, it's the caucus. But Mitch McConnell is going to presumably control the caucus. But as you know, it's not sort of a monolith. And people, like Mitt Romney and some others, are going to have a very substantial --
BORGER: Susan Collins.
KUCINICH: Well, Mitt Romney is fine. Mitt Romney is not (INAUDIBLE). Susan Collins and Cory Gardner.
SCIUTTO: Blue state Republicans running for re-election.
We do have some new sound in from Joe Biden confronting a voter at a town hall in Iowa when the voter brought up Ukraine and his age. Have a listen.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We all know Trump has been messing around in Ukraine over there, holding their current aid in the war (INAUDIBLE) saying that they want to investigate you. We know all of that crap. And he has no backbone, we know that. But you, on the other hand, sent your son over there to get a job and work for a gas company that he had no experience with gas or nothing in order to get access for the president. So you're selling access to the president just like he was. So you --
JOE BIDEN (D), FORMER U.S. VICE PRESIDENT, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You're a damn liar, man. That's not true. And no one has ever said that. No one have heard that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I heard that on the T.V.
BIDEN: You've seen it on the T.V. No, I know you do. And, by the way, that's why I'm not sedentary. I don't (INAUDIBLE) and let me go. Let me go.
Look, the reason I've been here is because I've been in here a long time and I know more than most people know and I can get things done. That's why I'm running. If you want to check shape, let's do push-ups together, man. Let's do what's real. Let's whatever you want to do. Let's take an I.Q. test. Number one.
Number two, no one has said my son has done anything wrong, and I did not, on any occasion, and no one has ever said it, not one --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I didn't say you did anything wrong.
BIDEN: You said I set up my son to work in an oil company. Isn't that what you said? Get your words straight, Jack.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's what I hear on MSNBC.
BIDEN: You're not hearing that on MSNBC. You did not hear that -- what you heard -- look, okay, I'm not going to get into it with you, man.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't want to either.
BIDEN: Well, yes, you do. But, look, here's the deal. Here's the deal. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It looks like you don't have any more backbone than Trump does when you're --
BIDEN: Any more questions?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm out (ph).
BIDEN: Well, I knew you were, man. You think you want to stand up and vote for me? You're too old to vote for me.
SCIUTTO: Jackie and Gloria Borger, it's a legitimate question, is it not?
SCIUTTO: He can give his answer. But legitimate to attack the questioner in those circumstances?
KUCINICH: So that was classic Joe Biden in a lot of ways. I felt like it was a little bit of like Joe Biden adlibs, like challenging him to push-ups and saying I.Q. tests and whatnot. He's going to have to have an answer to the question about his son, about why he -- and I know the campaign has put out stuff, I know they tried to explain it. But you can't get mad at every voter who asks that, because most Democrats, the number one thing they're concerned about, is someone who can beat Trump, someone who doesn't have baggage that drags them down. And that is a concern among some voters, and we saw it right there.
BORGER: I don't think it's a bad thing though that Biden shows some emotion and anger.
KUCINICH: I don't disagree.
GORGER: We heard that from Pelosi today, the emotion, and then, again, from Biden, you can see how this is clearly getting under his skin because you're attacking his ethics, you're attacking his son. And he does, I agree with you, he has to have an answer for this. He can't be dismissive but a little anger on his part show the American public that, you know, I'm going to fight on this one. It doesn't hurt him.
SCIUTTO: Well, it's interesting. As a matter of fact, this question about Joe Biden and his son and the business in Ukraine has entered the conversation, which is something that, well, certainly the president wanted, right? It may advantage the president.
Jackie, Gloria, Ross, I think we're going to keep talking about this for some time.
There's more to come. Do not miss our CNN Town Hall with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi tonight. I can't imagine a better timing for that. It's going to air here tonight on CNN at 9:00 P.M. Eastern Time. And as the president faces impeachment over asking a foreign power to dig up dirt on a potential political opponent, his personal lawyer, where is he? Well, he's back in Ukraine doing that very thing.
Plus, speaking of conspiracies, the one peddled by Republicans for two years that the Obama administration spied on the Trump campaign, that appears to be falling apart.
And we now know how the president reacted behind the scenes to that hot mic video of world leaders appearing to laugh at him.
SCIUTTO: President Trump's personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, is refusing to explain why he traveled to Ukraine this week. News of his trip broke Wednesday as the House Judiciary Committee began its impeachment hearings, which in part scrutinized Giuliani's very role in the campaign to pressure the Ukrainian government to investigate the president's rivals.
Is he up to the same thing again?
Now, Sara Murray, she's been following the story.
So, Sara, Giuliani is doing his own investigation. Two of his partners have already been indicted. Is he, from what we know, engaging in pretty much the same activity that launched this impeachment inquiry in the first place?
SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, look, Jim, it's hard to know exactly what Rudy Giuliani is up to at this point, but obviously it's an interesting timing for this trip when, as you pointed out, Rudy Giuliani's firm is under investigation, the president is facing impeachment in part over things Rudy Giuliani has been involved in.
And The New York Times have broke this story of his trip to Ukraine, that wasn't his only stop. He stopped in Kiev as well as and stopping in Budapest. And he had a roster of people apparently that he wanted to meet with. Here are a look at the former prosecutors that Rudy Giuliani is set out to meet with on this trip.
Now, all three of these gentlemen are widely known as being corrupt and they have all played a part in peddling these conspiracy theories about Joe Biden, about former Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, and about the notion that it was actually Ukraine, not Russia, that meddled in the 2016 election. So, fine upstanding folks that Rudy Giuliani set out to meet with.
And he is certainly playing coy about the purpose for this trip. Here is what he has had to say for himself.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ERIC BOLLING, AMERICA THIS WEEK HOST: You're in Ukraine now. We speak -- you and I, we're friends, we've known each other for a long time. I didn't know you were going there. What's the Ukraine trip all about?
RUDY GIULIANI, PRESIDENT TRUMP'S PERSONAL ATTORNEY: Well, >> I can't really describe it. I can't even confirm it. All I can tell you is that I am doing today, all day, and all Night, maybe, what I've been doing for a year-and-a-half. I'm representing my client.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MURRA: Now, a lot of the president's allies have grown increasingly uncomfortable with the way Rudy Giuliani has been representing his client, but we will see what he has to say on the other side of this trip, Jim.
SCIUTTO: Sara Murray, thanks very much.
With us now, the former Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper.
You look at this. I mean, Ukraine is crawling with corrupt politicians, folks with axes to grind for Russia, folks in the employ of Russia. These are the kinds of folks he seems to be meeting with, the president's personal attorney. Is it likely he's getting played by them?
JAMES CLAPPER, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, that's one possibility, whether the counterintelligence implications of a trip like this. But it appears to me that there's a single-minded determination to either continue to try to get dirt on the Bidens and/or substantiate the proposition that it was Ukraine that interfered in the election in 2016, or some combination thereof. So I don't know. It would appear that he is committed to this no matter the risk.
SCIUTTO: What does that indicate to you? This is the president, the sitting president's personal attorney, a president who is on the cusp of being impeached for exactly this behavior. I mean, does it look to you like the president feels he can get away with this?
CLAPPER: Well, perhaps. I mean, that's been the track record so far in his administration, and, of course, impeachment depending on the outcome, which, you know, the likelihood is he won't be convicted in the Senate if he is, in fact, impeached in the House, what actually, I think, given even greater license to do these sorts of things.
SCIUTTO: Now, of course, Russia interfered in the 2016 election in a whole host of ways, stealing emails, weaponizing them, but also getting in on these divisive issues because that helps them, in their view. Would Russia see an opportunity here to latch onto this?
CLAPPER: Oh, sure, absolutely. I mean, the Russians, by the way, what they did in 2016, which I think has been well-documented and validated, and they're going to be at it again in 2020. And from their standpoint, why not, because of how successful they were in '16.
And so in the case of Giuliani and his forays into the Ukraine, which is penetrated by the Russians, there is all kinds of opportunity here for mischief, feeding misinformation. Again, there are lots of possibilities here for them to do something nefarious, which could backfire.
SCIUTTO: Let me ask you this, because it struck me that, in effect, it has now been normalized in the Republican Party this idea that Ukraine at least meddled as well, which we know they can or it was certainly ceded by Russian intelligence precisely to water down their responsibility or create doubts about Russia's interference in 2016.
Speak to the audience here, speak to Republican lawmakers who are saying this kind of thing now. Yes, Ukraine also meddled. What's your response?
CLAPPER: Well, first of all, they didn't. There was absolutely no contemporaneous intelligence information, whatsoever, that the Chinese interfered or the 400-pound guy in his bed in New Jersey and now the Ukrainians. It was the Russians. And yet the evidence we have for that, particularly the cyber evidence, is overwhelming. That's why we have such high confidence in that.
But let's say just for the sake of discussion that the Ukrainians interfered along the lines of what I've heard the Republicans suggest. It pales exponentially compared to what the Russians did and the impact that the Russians had. So even if you accept what I've heard in media articles and this sort of thing, it is -- that's dwarfed exponentially many times over by what the Russians did.
SCIUTTO: Director Clapper, stand by because we have more to discuss.
For two years, the president and the Republicans have pushed a conspiracy theory that there was spying on the Trump campaign by U.S. intelligence and law enforcement. Today, it's been debunked officially by President Trump's own Justice Department.
Plus, more breaking news this hour. The President is now asking the Supreme Court to weigh in on efforts to make his financial records public. He wants the Supreme Court to block that. Stand by.