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Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA) is Interviewed about Impeachment; Giuliani Maybe Traveled to Ukraine; Impeachment Hearings with Law Professors. Aired 7-7:30a ET
Aired December 5, 2019 - 07:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: So this follows a day when the House heard from four legal scholars, three of them making the case that the president's conduct does amount to impeachable offenses. One asked, if this isn't impeachable, what is.
The Republican expert witness suggested the president's actions may be impeachable, but warned the Democrats were rushing the process.
So joining us now we have Democratic Congresswoman Karen Bass. She serves on the Judiciary Committee and is the chair of the Congressional Black Caucus.
Congresswoman, great to have you.
REP. KAREN BASS (D-CA): Thank you.
CAMEROTA: First, before we get to what happened yesterday and what will happen, do you have some insight into what Speaker Pelosi will be announcing at 9:00 a.m. this morning?
BASS: I am sorry, I do not. I am not sure what she is going to announce, but I will be anxiously awaiting, like everyone else.
CAMEROTA: So this came as a surprise to you at 5:30 a.m., as it did to us?
BASS: It did. It did. That's right.
CAMEROTA: OK. Well, then that will be very interesting to hear what she has to say.
So let's talk about what happened yesterday. You had a chance to question these four expert witnesses, three from the Democratic side, one from the Republican side. And you did question all of them except Jonathan Turley, and that was the Republicans' witness. And I'm just wondering, since he's the person who's making the case, basically, that Democrats are going about this the wrong way, why didn't you ask him a question?
BASS: Well, I was actually surprised by him. I expected them to put forward a witness that would be much stronger in terms of advocating their case. It seems to me the only point that he was making is, is that, yes, maybe he did commit an impeachable offense, but you are going too fast and that you need more facts. And I think that that's quite ironic because we have the possibility of getting a lot more information. But the president has blocked it every step of the way. That's in the general sense the same argument that my Republican colleagues are making. But if they want this situation to not go on as long or to take longer, they need to get up the administration to allow people to come forward and testify and to give the information that they're holding onto that they're blocking.
CAMEROTA: Well, I mean, one way to get the administration to do that is through the court battle. And I think what Jonathan Turley was saying was that when it comes to the subpoenas of Bolton and Giuliani, say people with real first-hand witnesses, why aren't Democrats aggressively pursuing this in court?
BASS: Well -- well, I think, first of all, we have a number of court cases going on, but we cannot allow that to be a distraction. And we do already have an awful lot of information.
But I will just say to you that the urgency that I feel is that this president has attempted to intervene in the next election and he needs to be stopped immediately.
Rudy Giuliani right now is over in the Ukraine. Who knows what he's doing. They might still be attempting to interfere in this election. So I don't believe that we have the opportunity, we have the ability to just wait for the courts. We never know how long that is going to take. I feel a sense of urgency. We need to act now.
CAMEROTA: I understand the sense of urgency. I understand the argument that Democrats are making. But what I don't understand is dropping the subpoena for Kuperman (ph) and not pursuing one for Bolton. Why not do both at the same time?
BASS: Well, I'm -- you know, that's a judgment of our leadership. You know, to me, it would be great if Bolton would come forward. He seems as though he wants to tease it. I don't know if it's over his book deal. He's, you know, hinted through tweets, which I think is very inappropriate. He should do the right thing and just come forward. We shouldn't even need to subpoena him.
CAMEROTA: OK, so let's talk about that timeline, because, obviously, that's still an outstanding question.
When do you think there will be a vote on impeachment?
BASS: Well, I will tell you right now, I do not know, but I think it is very possible that there will be a vote, if not before Christmas, before the end of the year.
CAMEROTA: OK. So that's a little bit later. Possible -- what we had was possible full House vote the week of December 16th.
BASS: You know, I think that's possible. Now, you know, one of the things that we're waiting for is tomorrow we're waiting for the administration to decide whether or not they're going to participate in this process at all. I would imagine that if they choose not to participate in this process, that it will probably go quicker. If they choose to participate, if they're going to suggest witnesses that are appropriate, then it might take a little longer. So part of the ball is in their court, not ours.
CAMEROTA: OK. And what about what will be included in articles of impeachment? What are you all talking about in terms of, will it just be solely based on Ukraine or will there be some Russia/Mueller report threads?
BASS: Well, I will tell you, in the Judiciary, in our committee, we have not discussed yet what specific articles of impeachment will be. So we -- we will see. I don't know. I mean it could be a few -- I don't believe that there would be a ton of articles, but we actually have not had that conversation yet.
CAMEROTA: So, I mean, can you just share with us what the feeling is about beyond Ukraine? Are we --
BASS: Well, we certainly -- we certainly know that abuse of power, we know that the president has abused his power.
I mean that's what we examined an awful lot yesterday. I believe he's betrayed the Constitution. And I also think that he has obstructed Congress. I mean he won't cooperate with anything. And then the Mueller report certainly showed ten examples of obstruction of justice.
Now, whether or not those will be articles of impeachment, in all honesty, I can tell you that we have not had the specific discussion.
CAMEROTA: Has a discussion come up about possible perjury involving the president's written answers to Robert Mueller?
BASS: No, that has not come up yet. But, you know, there -- one of the problems and one of our dilemmas is, there is so much -- there is so much that this administration has done, that the president has done.
I do think it's important that we focus. But, again, the sense of urgency to me is about the next election. And it's also about our national security.
I mean, I think it's difficult for us in the United States to imagine the situation that the president of Ukraine is in. I mean he was a popularly elected president. His ratings have gone down. We have compromised his presidency. This is a man who is under attack by another country. Russia is occupying part of his territory. And then the president had nerve enough to say, well, you know, we have money, your defense assistance, but we need you to help us out first. It's just incredibly inappropriate. I believe it was illegal. But I also believe that in the United States it's kind of hard for us to imagine the situation that this president is in. And all of that compromises our national security. But we do know, over the last three years, we know who this president
answers to. And it's not the American people. It's Putin.
CAMEROTA: Well, I mean, there's a lot there. The president obviously didn't state it in that conversation as overtly as you just did. That would have made your job much easier. There was a lot that was implied, and that's what the Republicans say you can't hang your hat on.
BASS: But you know what, the president's acting chief of staff came out and told all of us to get over it. He said that's the way foreign policy is done.
And, you know, I also serve on the Foreign Affairs Committee. And I will tell you, that is not the way our foreign policy is done. What is fundamentally wrong here is that the president pressured another head of state for his personal gain. Yes, of course, we leverage our assistance for -- on behalf of the United States, but we know that that is not what the president was after. It's not the way our foreign policy is conducted.
And I really think -- you know, to see the three heads of state and NATO joke about the president, we do need to understand that everybody jokes about the president. If you go overseas and I travel a lot, I meet with prime ministers and presidents, and everybody ridicules what is happening in our country right now. Which is why I think impeachment is important. Because it's important for us to demonstrate to the world, we are a democracy. And when a democracy like the United States is in trouble, we have a vehicle to address the situation we're in. And it is called impeachment. It is important for us to demonstration to the rest of the world that we can put this ship back in water.
CAMEROTA: Congresswoman Karen Bass, we really appreciate you taking time to be on NEW DAY. Thank you.
BASS: Thank you.
BERMAN: A lot there to discuss.
Joining us now, CNN chief legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin and CNN chief political correspondent Dana Bash. They are both with us now.
Dana, I have to say, the thing that surprised me the most at the beginning, Karen Bass is a member of the Democratic leadership. She's a very important member of Congress. She doesn't know what Nancy Pelosi's going to say in less than two hours.
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Exactly.
BERMAN: Do you?
BASH: So it makes me feel better not being able to get -- to get it.
CAMEROTA: We all respect a big reveal. BASH: Right. Exactly. They're being very careful in Pelosi world and
people who I've been communicating with this morning close to her about what she's going to say and warning not to speculate too much about how far she's going to go.
The fact that Karen Bass, as you said, you know, a veteran member of the Judiciary Committee, says that they haven't even started discussing in the broader committee drafting articles of impeachment is noteworthy. The way Nancy Pelosi tends to operate is that she will consult with people, but also take one step at a time and is very cautious, especially on something like this. It's hard to imagine she won't because of where we are in the calendar and in this process just generally talk about what are the next steps, because she hasn't made an address of this kind since she first announced the inquiry.
BERMAN: Yesterday, behind closed doors, we understand, she went in and asked, are you ready?
BERMAN: Everyone said, yes, basically. And we were led to believe -- this is before we knew that she was holding this announcement this morning -- that, look, probably articles of impeachment, crafted by the Judiciary Committee next week, voted on in Judiciary next week and full vote in the House before Christmas. That was what we thought the plan was.
BASH: That's right. And that is from sources that I have and Manu has and others --
CAMEROTA: She changed it a little bit.
BASH: On Capitol Hill were -- have been saying that it's -- it's a pretty quick timeline.
She -- she left the door open for a potential change.
BERMAN: Karen Bass did.
BASH: Karen Bass. And, you know, look, she said it could be -- like, if the -- if the White House participates, it will slow things down. I don't think anybody's holding their breath for the White House to participate in anything that has to do with the House. But we are at a critical, critical time. The witnesses have been heard from. The Intelligence Committee, both sides, have put out their reports of what they think is or is not impeachable. And they're going to present, we do know -- we believe that the lawyers for each side in the Intelligence Committee are going to present their findings to Judiciary. And the next step, if they are going to move forward, is, they've got to draft the articles of impeachment.
CAMEROTA: Jeffrey Toobin, you're in D.C. this morning. What has Nancy Pelosi told you about what she's going to say?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: Hold on. Wait. Nancy? No, I -- can I say something about yesterday just before we get --
CAMEROTA: Yes. Yes, you may.
TOOBIN: You know, there was a lot of talk that, oh, it's going to be a circus, it's going to be -- it wasn't a circus. It was a serious discussion on a serious subject. And I thought both sides, you know, put their case forward passionately, but intelligently. And I think the public, which I doubt watched all eight hours, but, you know, may have gotten a sense, you know, understood the gravity of the situation. And also what high crimes and misdemeanors means. And I thought it was really an excellent public education. And I think the Democrats got everything they wanted out of it in the sense of, you know, serious experts saying that these were impeachable offenses.
And Nancy Pelosi is obviously going to be moving forward at 9:00. Precisely how and what the schedule is, I certainly don't know. But I don't think anything happened yesterday that slowed the Democrats' momentum at all.
BERMAN: Jeffrey Toobin coming out for law professors. The --
TOOBIN: You know, these are my people.
CAMEROTA: And for high-minded conversation, which we are for as well.
BERMAN: Yes. No, I -- it was a really -- I actually think you're right, it was a really interesting discussion and a lot was stated that I think people could learn a lot from.
Stand by. We have much more to discuss with you two.
Coming up in our next hour, we're going to have the House majority leader, Steny Hoyer, on. He is the number two Democrat. Maybe he can tell us what Nancy Pelosi is going to say at 9:00. Certainly going to ask.
CAMEROTA: Also, Rudy Giuliani is facing a criminal investigation over his work in Ukraine. It's been central, of course, to the impeachment inquiry. But apparently he's still at it. There are reports this morning that Rudy Giuliani is back in Ukraine.
We have all that, next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ERIC BOLING: Are you and Ukraine also gathering, you know, evidence to support your own defense?
RUDY GIULIANI, PRESIDENT TRUMP'S ATTORNEY: I am not here to -- I don't have to defend myself. I didn't do anything wrong.
BOLING: OK. GIULIANI: I didn't do a darn thing wrong.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: OK, that was President Trump's lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, answering questions about his whereabouts and if he is in Ukraine. And he did say, I'm here. So maybe that confirmed it. He said -- I mean, he may be meeting with some key figures in the impeachment inquiry.
Giuliani refused to confirm that trip in text messages to CNN's Dana Bash last night, but he did say lots of other things to Dana. And, luckily, we have Dana Bash here with us, as well as Jeffrey Toobin.
So what's Giuliani telling you?
BASH: Well, just like he did in that interview, he's not -- he's saying in texts, I'm not confirming that I'm there. Not here. I'm not confirming that I'm there. But he said in various ways that he is still determined to prove his client's innocence and then talked a lot about all the reasons why he believes that Joe Biden did a lot of things wrong that we've heard him say many, many time.
The other interesting thing that he said is, you know, one of the bombshells in the intelligence impeachment report that they put out a couple of days ago was an allegation that they have phone records that show Rudy Giuliani in communication with OMB, the Office of Management and Budget. And the reason that that's significant, of course, is that they're the ones who deal with the aid --
CAMEROTA: The freezing of aid or of the (INAUDIBLE).
BASH: The freezing of the aid and the question is why would the president's personal attorney be involved?
He said -- I asked about that. He said, don't remember calling OMB and not about military aid. Never knew anything about it.
And the only thing I'll say about that is that I was told, and maybe this is, you know, sort of more broadly out there, that the -- that the committee -- their source for the phone records were the phone companies, Verizon and AT&T, because they couldn't get it from the White House because we know they're stonewalling and it's not as though Rudy Giuliani is offering his information or Devin Nunes, another person talked about. So that's kind of a noteworthy fact.
BERMAN: I will say, the phone records do indicate phone calls to the White House writ large. What does that mean? We don't know. It could be cleared up if the White House turned over their phone records.
BERMAN: Which is among the information they're refusing --
BASH: Great point.
BERMAN: To give to the investigators here. Jeffrey, I also love the self-importance from Rudy Giuliani with Dana
and also in a TV interview. I'm not going to confirm where I am. I can't disclose where I am because it's so important. Rudy Giuliani's whereabouts so important to planet earth he can't tell us where he is.
TOOBIN: Neither will I. I will not tell you where I am either.
CAMEROTA: We can see where you are, Jeffrey.
TOOBIN: I will give you hints but not tell you where I am.
Can we just talk -- I mean just that -- those phone records, why they're -- why they're so important and why the White House stonewall is so important.
You know, I am somewhat sympathetic with the argument that Rudy Giuliani himself can't be called as a witness because there really are serious attorney/client privileges there.
But if you were allowed to do a real investigation, you could contact the people at OMB whom he spoke to and ask them what did he say because that's certainly not privileged under any -- under any scenario. And so this just illustrates how hamstrung the Intelligence Committee was by the fact that they got no emails, that got no texts, they got no cooperation of any kind. And the only witnesses who came forward came forward against the advice of the president of the United States.
So, you know, one of the arguments yesterday was, oh, you know, you have to slow down. That, you know, there's not enough evidence. But, you know, that's like -- I mean that's sort of punishing the victim here because the House of Representatives has been so prohibited from gaining the evidence that even Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton allowed to be gathered.
BERMAN: Jonathan Turley says you can't impeach the president because the White House won't cooperate. That's sort of the argument being made right there.
CAMEROTA: Jeffrey, Dana, thank you.
And, Jeffrey, if you don't want us to know where you are, don't sit in front of a window.
TOOBIN: Oh, yes, that's a good point.
CAMEROTA: Thank you very --
TOOBIN: I haven't led a life of crime, so I need to learn more about this.
CAMEROTA: All right, thank you very much. CNN will have a town hall with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi tonight at
9:00 p.m. Eastern, moderated by Jake Tapper. And that's very significant because at 9:00 a.m., Speaker Pelosi is going to be making an announcement that nobody seems to know exactly what the substance of.
BERMAN: Not even Dana Bash knows what Nancy Pelosi is going to announce.
CAMEROTA: Right. That's (INAUDIBLE). That tells you how secret that it.
BERMAN: And if Dana Bash doesn't know --
BASH: See, that does not tell you much.
CAMEROTA: It does.
BERMAN: We do know that at least publicly Republicans remain unified in their support of the president. Will that strategy change after this big announcement this morning?
BERMAN: We're about 90 minutes away from a big announcement, a mystery announcement, frankly, from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. We do know it's about the impeachment inquiry. What we don't know is what she is going to announce. We'll bring it to you live when it happens.
Joining me now, CNN political commentators and two former Republican congressmen, Sean Duffy and Charlie Dent.
I'm not going to ask either of you what Nancy Pelosi is going to announce today because I suspect neither of you know.
But, Congressman Duffy, I do want to ask you about a little bit of what we heard in this hearing yesterday. Professor Jonathan Turley, who was the witness Republicans called, he said something interesting. Yes, he said the process should not be rushed, but he also said the president's phone call was anything but perfect.
Do you agree with that?
SEAN DUFFY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Oh, do I think the phone call was perfect? I don't think it was perfect.
BERMAN: What was imperfect about it?
DUFFY: Well, listen, I think -- I mean I don't think Rudy Giuliani should have been brought up in the phone call. He doesn't work for the president, doesn't work for the administration. I don't think he should have been mentioned. But I don't think it's also impeachable. I think what was important --
BERMAN: That's different. That wasn't my question. My question is a yes or no question. No.
So what was imperfect about the call? Just Rudy Giuliani?
DUFFY: I think Rudy Giuliani, yes. That's probably the only thing I have a problem with.
BERMAN: And, Congressman Dent, to you. And this, I think, might have got lost in the Thanksgiving holiday last week. You, on CNN, suggested that you've been hearing from a lot of your Republican colleagues, or some of your Republican colleagues, who are dismayed by the president behavior in regards to this.
What exactly are you hearing?
CHARLIE DENT, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, this is nothing new, John. I -- you know, I served there under Donald Trump as well. And, yes, I would hear regularly from my colleagues who would be very frustrated, angry and dismayed about comments he would make, because he would always put these members in such a difficult position. They would be forced to respond to some absurd comment. And they didn't like to have to, you know, walk by the gaggle every day and try to answer or defend the indefensible.
So, yes, this is nothing new. But there are quite -- many are quite angry, to be sure.
BERMAN: And, Congressman Duffy, you just brought up Rudy Giuliani, which is interesting this morning because Giuliani is on some secret mission again. He's overseas --
DUFFY: 007 here. I don't know --
BERMAN: Well, no, those -- they're his words. Let's play what he said. He did an interview late yesterday where he was asked directly, are you in Ukraine? Because "The New York Times" is reporting he's in Ukraine meeting with officials there. He was asked last night. Let's listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ERIC BOLING: 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 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)
BERMAN: You're going to regret that joke you made a second ago, the 007 thing, because his first words were, I can't really describe it. I can't even confirm.
What's so top secret? DUFFY: I don't know. I've not been briefed on it.
But, John, listen, do I care where Rudy Giuliani is? I really don't. I mean he can -- he can go to the Ukraine. He can do whatever he wants. I don't think it advances the story of what happened yesterday in the hearings, which was basically Turley laid out the facts that there's no evidence to impeach the president. And I thought what Republicans did -- what was brilliant was they didn't put on a hard right conservative jurist. They put on Turley, who was -- he voted against President Trump.
BERMAN: He did.
DUFFY: He's not a fan of President Trump. And I thought because -- the way he laid his case out and because he wasn't, you know, in one camp or the other on the partisanship side, I thought the credibility of what he was saying was far better than I thought of the other three candidates --
BERMAN: Let me just -- for history's sake, Professor Turley was also in favor of the Clinton impeachment. He was in favor of the appointment of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. And he is a friend of Bill Barr.
That's just for context here. No, he did not vote for Donald Trump.
And I will also add one other thing, who you vote for doesn't necessarily make you right or wrong. So just because those other --
DUFFY: But who you support --