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President Donald Trump Still Fighting To Keep His Financial Records Out Of The Public Eye; Speaker Pelosi Is Officially Asking Democrats To Begin Articles Of Impeachment; Third Political Party In America Is What's Necessary To Fix The Mess In Washington. Aired 1:30- 2p ET
Aired December 5, 2019 - 13:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[13:34:38] JIM SCIUTTO, CNN HOST: President Trump still fighting to keep his financial records out of the public eye. Today the President asked the Supreme Court to block a court-ordered subpoena from his financial documents arguing that the House exceeded its authority when it ordered Trump's long-time accounting firm to turn over his personal records.
The justices have already put a temporary freeze on that subpoena while they consider whether to take up the appeal from Trump's personal lawyers. Trump's request came just after House speaker Nancy Pelosi announced that the House will proceed with articles of impeachment.
The case is about to be closed on what has been known as Spygate. In the coming days the department's inspector general is about to dispute one of the President's biggest conspiracy theories dating back some three years now. CNN has learned that the investigation found no evidence that any of the U.S. intelligence agencies tried to plant spies in the Trump campaign in 2016.
I want to bring back former director of national intelligence, James Clapper. Of course he was director of national intelligence at this time.
So now, both the inspector general of the justice department and a special attorney pointed by Barr, John Durham, to investigate this as well has found there was no evidence of this. Your reaction.
[13:35:51] JAMES CLAPPER, FORMER DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: Well, it's gratifying, you know, that something that I already knew to be true has been validated by somebody else. I do think your headline might have been premature. But I don't think this investigation will end as long as President Trump is President. It will continue in some form. But the other point I would make is like many others, I'm very interested to see what the inspector general report in the version in which it will be released to the public, what it actually says. SCIUTTO: Now Barr has said that he may not be satisfied, and he has
voiced concerns about the inspector general's report here. I mean, what are his options? Appoint another attorney if he' is not satisfied with the results?
CLAPPER: Well, he did investigate the investigator, I guess. I don't know just what the option there because this was an extraordinary thing to start with, putting a prosecuting attorney in charge of investigating an intelligence operation is kind of unprecedented.
SCIUTTO: We'll see if this is the end of the story.
Director Clapper, thanks so much for taking the time.
CLAPPER: Thanks, Jim.
SCIUTTO: More on our breaking news. Speaker Pelosi is officially asking Democrats to begin articles of impeachment. The 2020 candidate and senator deciding the President's fate. He is going to join me live next.
Plus, Hillary Clinton gets candid during an interview with Howard Stern, including revelations about senator Graham and George W. Bush.
[13:42:17] SCIUTTO: Back to our top story. Two hundred fifty years of history in this country. Only the fourth time now moving forward on an impeachment. Speaker Nancy Pelosi announcing the House will move forward with articles of impeachment against President Trump. The first hearing coming as soon as next week.
With me now, senator Michael Bennet of Colorado. He is on the Senate Intelligence Committee, and of course, a Democratic presidential candidate.
Senator, we appreciate you taking the time.
SEN. MICHAEL BENNET (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thanks for having me, Jim.
SCIUTTO: So you will likely, assuming this gets through the House, be sitting as a juror in a Senate trial of a sitting U.S. president here. You have said that you would vote to convict if the impeachment vote goes to the Senate. Has your position changed?
BENNET: It hasn't changed. And what I've said is that if the evidence continues to be consistent with the evidence that we have seen so far, I think this is exactly the reason why the framers put in the Constitution what they put in the Constitution.
SCIUTTO: Now the president has telegraphed, as have other sitting Republican lawmakers, that they are going to call a whole host of witnesses here -- at least they hope to -- Joe Biden, Hunter Biden, perhaps the whistleblower, are we going to see that - see them forced to testify on the Senate floor? BENNET: I honestly (ph) have no idea what witnesses they're going to
call. But, I mean, it is certainly true that the president has stonewalled this entire investigation. He hasn't allowed the people who actually -- you know, from the administration, who could exonerate him. The few (ph) wanted him to have him exonerated -- they haven't testified. He's just said no.
So I think he will. I wouldn't be at all be surprised if Donald Trump tried to turn his own impeachment trial into a show trial. That's what you would expect from a guy who is a reality TV star.
SCIUTTO: Can you see your Republican colleagues, a majority of them, demanding that, for instance, a Joe Biden testify at this hour -- or his son?
BENNET: I don't know what they are going to do. I don't think the Bidens have anything to do with what we are trying to consider with President Trump.
What I hope is that in the end, this will be a process where we can begin to restore the American people's faith in the rule of law again, and why these institutions actually matter, and why we need a president who is not spending all of his time watching cable television and tweeting out stuff -- that somebody is actually doing the job.
SCIUTTO: You and others have made the constitutional case for this. There are, of course, the politics of this and what the political affect will be. I have spoken to Republican lawmakers who say their polling shows that impeachment is helping them in key swing states and key swing districts. Do you believe Democrats will pay a political price for this?
BENNET: I think polls go up and polls go down, and there is no way to know. But I think Nancy Pelosi was right when she said that the president had left her no choice.
I mean, if we don't stand up against this kind of behavior, what it means is future presidents will try to get away with this behavior. In a democracy, that is not the way it's supposed to work.
So we have to do what we have to do. And I hope we do in a way that builds confidence in the American people, rather than creates more of a lack of confidence like they have had the last few years.
[13:45:07] SCIUTTO: You are a member of the Senate intelligence committee, well aware and well briefed on Russia's threat to Europe, its increased malign and aggressive activities.
We had the president at NATO - and another contentious NATO summit, where you have a French president questioning the reliability of the U.S. commitment to NATO, which frankly the president himself has raised in some of his public comments. Tell us the effects of that.
BENNET: The effects are huge. I mean, it says a lot that our allies would like Donald Trump -- nothing more than for him to be a one-term president. But Vladimir Putin, the Chinese, and the Iranians would love to have Donald Trump win another term, because they are making - they are advancing their cause. And the cause of Western democracy has been set back by Donald Trump.
So I mean, I was as amused as everybody was by what happened yesterday. But the cost of this guy being in the White House is what we really need to be worried about, and it's serious. I mean, the Russians, you just heard James Clapper say, they are going to be back in 2020, because this president stood on a stage in Helsinki next to Putin and said, I don't see any reason not to take his word, even though every single intelligence agency we have has said the Russians interfered.
You have got the Iranians who are doubling the number of centrifuges they are spinning to enrich Uranium because they know President Trump won't do anything to them or about it, as long as they stay off FOX News, I suppose. And that's the cost of having him there. That's why we need a change.
SCIUTTO: You, of course, are running to replace Donald Trump as president. You are not on the debate stage on the upcoming debate. How do you remain in the race going forward?
BENNET: I'm going to remain in the race putting one foot for the other. I'm going to do 50 town halls in Iowa to meeting people face to face. And I don't think the debate stage has helped our cause. I mean, obviously, I would love to be on there, but I don't think the rules were lousy. And I don't think it's helped the Democrats' cause (ph).
The number one thing voters are trying to figure out is who can beat Donald Trump. And I don't think they're satisfied with any of the front-running candidates. I'm the only candidate in this race that's won two swing states -- two national elections in a swing state. Nobody else has.
And if we want to beat Donald Trump and win the Senate back, I think we should nominate the opposite of Donald Trump, and I'm offering myself up as that candidate.
SCIUTTO: Does Michael Bloomberg's entry into the race indicate to you that there is widespread fear among Democrats that the slate of candidates is not up to, at this point, defeating Trump?
BENNET: I think there is - I think he sees an opportunity, because I think he has detected that concern. And he is very smart, and the people around him are very smart as well. And they wouldn't be doing this if they didn't think there was an opportunity.
I believe the field is less consolidated today than it has been in a year. That may sound self-serving of me to say it, but that's what I believe, and I'm going to stay in this race and make my case until the voters have a chance to decide.
SCIUTTO: Well, there is an issue that may be on your side. I think I read recently that Jimmy Carter was in 10th place in the polls in 1976 around this time.
BENNET: At least he told the American people that he would tell the truth, and I think that's what the American people want to see. They want to see opportunity restored to America. And they want to see integrity restored to the White House. And that's what I offer.
SCIUTTO: Well we wish you the best luck, Senator.
BENNET: Thank you for having me.
SCIUTTO: And thank you so much for being on the program.
BENNET: Appreciate it.
SCIUTTO: My next guest says a third political party in America is what's necessary to fix the mess in Washington. We will have more.
Plus more on the tense confrontation between Joe Biden and a voter in Iowa about Biden's age and his son.
[13:53:28] SCIUTTO: There is the old saying what United States us is greater than what divides us. Do you still believe it when it comes to politics? Does the same really apply? In an NBC/"Wall Street Journal" poll earlier this year one in ten adults agreed that the two- party system in the country is working which means many see the need for some sort of alternative. So what is it?
CNN political commentator S.E. Cupp joins us now. She is also the host of "S.E. CUPP UNFILTERS."
So S.E., you have a piece on CNN.com when you make the case of a third political party could get us out of this mess. Explain why but also tell us how realistic that is.
S.E. CUPP, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, yes. I mean, every cycle someone mentions the idea that we might need a third party. And it's not always very plausible or even very necessary. But now more than ever, I mean, you pointed to that poll, our two political party system is getting increasingly extreme and increasingly absolutist. I mean, you look at any number of issues and on either side you are either all-in or all-out.
Immigration, it feels like, you know, Democrats say let everyone in. Republicans say let nobody in. On climate, it's, either the world is literally about to end or science and facts are for losers, you know. Turns out most people are in the middle on any host of issues, from abortion to guns, to immigration, to climate, and they are being left behind by parties that are increasingly moving to the edges. I mean, unless you are an Angst Kings Maine, you know, you don't have a lot of representation in the middle. And that's making a lot of people frustrated.
[13:55:09] SCIUTTO: Yes. Listen, in the last two hours I met with a Republican and Democratic lawmaker and both made good points. So you have frustrations on both sides. I'm just curious, you know, as you said, folks have been talking about this for a long time, you know. What's going to make that happen?
CUPP: It's not super realistic, because, you know, one way of putting it is, the parties still control of means of production. That is in term of setting debates standards for presidential elections on, you know, they control the coffers.
CUPP: Yes, for running districts. They are really powerful. And they have maintained to that control on power. But those two parties are also becoming increasingly irrelevant when it comes to representing what the majority of people feel like. So a third party that was not ideological that could not attract demagogues, that really only represented wherever moderates were at any given time would give a voice to an actual majority. So if anyone sort of had the guts to say I think both parties are doing the wrong thing, or out for themselves, you know, to sort of line their own coffers and make themselves more powerful, I'm going to come to the middle. I think they have a lot of interest and curiosity, and maybe ultimately support.
SCIUTTO: Yes. Folks definitely looking for a way forward.
S.E. Cupp, thanks very much. Don't forget to watch "S.E. CUPP UNFILTERED." It is every Saturday right here on CNN starting at 6:00 eastern time.
And still ahead, house speaker Nancy Pelosi goes off on a reporter after announcing articles of impeachment against President Trump. What that reporter asked her and what sparked this reaction. It was a strong one.
Plus, we will speak live with the producer that found a hot mic moment that caused an international back and forth.