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Interview With Rep. Jim Himes (D-CT); Giuliani Back in Ukraine; House Proceeds With Articles of Impeachment; Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) Says, Democrats Are Moving Forward With Articles Of Impeachment; Questions Emerge About House Intelligence Report Showing Calls Between Giuliani and Budget Office; Pelosi About to Take Questions at CNN Town Hall as Dems Move Ahead with Articles of Impeachment. Aired 6-7p ET
Aired December 5, 2019 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Welcome to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM, covering another major breaking development on impeachment.
The House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, announcing that Democrats are moving forward with articles of impeachment, declaring that President Trump's actions left them with no other choice.
Impeachment investigators will present evidence to the House Judiciary Committee at a hearing on Monday. The panel could finalize and approve articles of impeachment as soon as next week.
Tonight, President Trump is slamming the Democrats' push to impeach him. And he's mocking Speaker Pelosi after she rejected a reporter's suggested that she hates the president, warning -- and I'm quoting her now -- "Don't mess with me."
Let's go straight to our congressional correspondent, Phil Mattingly.
Phil, the speaker, who was initially reluctant about impeachment, is now giving the green light.
PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes.
Wolf, over the course of two months of this impeachment investigation and inquiry, it's been clear the Democrats were headed in this direction, but the speaker making it clear by herself it is now official.
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): Today, I am asking our chairman to proceed with articles of impeachment.
MATTINGLY (voice-over): Twelve words for history, Speaker Nancy Pelosi making clear President Trump is almost certainly on a path to be impeached by the House. PELOSI: It is heartbreaking, but the president gave us no choice.
MATTINGLY: Sources tell CNN Democrats are considering articles including abuse of power, bribery, obstruction of Congress and obstruction of justice, even as some Democrats, sources say, have told leaders they remain wary of expanding the scope beyond the Ukraine investigation and into elements of special counsel Mueller's report.
Pelosi today refusing to get into internal deliberations.
PELOSI: My chairman will be making recommendations.
MATTINGLY: But the timeline for a final vote coming more into view, as the House Judiciary Committee announced its next impeachment hearing for Monday. The committee could consider articles impeachment as soon as the end of the week and final floor votes on the articles the week of December 16.
House Republicans continuing with complete unity to oppose each step of the process.
REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): Today, with the speaker's announcement, she has weakened this nation.
MATTINGLY: As their Senate counterparts met this week with top White House lawyer to plan the president's defense, the actual structure of the Senate trial, though, still unknown.
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): It is impossible to answer your question right now.
MATTINGLY: Senate leaders plan to meet and try to hammer out a bipartisan road map forward.
There remains no guarantee one will come to fruition, leaving open the possibility that a White House push for live testimony from people like Hunter Biden and the whistle-blower may be subject to a simple majority vote in a chamber where Republicans control 53 seats, something one Democratic senator told CNN would be like -- quote -- "rolling a hand grenade into the chamber."
PELOSI: The House will be in order.
MATTINGLY: The kind of institutional schism that is already firmly under way in the House, as seen on live TV when in a rare show of anger Pelosi fired back at a reporter.
QUESTION: Do you hate the president, Madam Speaker?
PELOSI: I don't hate anybody.
QUESTION: Representative Collins -- reason I asked...
PELOSI: I don't -- I was raised in a Catholic house. We don't hate anybody, not anybody in the world.
So, don't accuse me...
QUESTION: I did not accuse you.
PELOSI: You did. You did.
QUESTION: I asked a question.
MATTINGLY: Walking back to the microphone to make her point for all to hear.
PELOSI: 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 full -- a heart full of love, and always pray for the president. So, don't mess with me when it comes to words like that.
MATTINGLY: And, Wolf, that was a really extraordinary moment, something very rarely, if ever seen from the speaker, underscoring the stakes right now and the emotions that are involved.
One thing people are looking for, waiting to see is what those actual articles of impeachment will look like. It's being very close-held right now, but Democrats, Wolf, are signaling that, despite the concerns of some of the more moderate members of the caucus, they will likely move forward with an article of impeachment that does include information from special counsel Robert Mueller's report.
Again, nothing is finalized yet, but that is the direction they're headed. We will all have to wait and see for when those become public as soon as next week -- Wolf.
BLITZER: It will be fast.
Phil Mattingly, thank you very much.
President Trump and his allies clearly are planning an aggressive defense when impeachment moves to the Republican-led Senate.
CNN's Boris Sanchez is over at the White House.
Boris, we're told the president is looking to turn the tables on Democrats. What are you learning about his strategy?
BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Wolf, the White House is focused on the Senate and mounting a robust defense of the president in a potential Senate trial.
Notably, they're also looking to use this opportunity to bash Democrats and score political points. The president tipped his hand today a bit on Twitter, suggesting that Democrats don't have a case and that he may compel some prominent Democrats to testify.
Look at this, the president writing -- quote -- "We will have Schiff, the Bidens, Pelosi and many more testify, and we will reveal for the first time how corrupt our system really is. I was elected to clean the swamp. And that's what I'm doing."
Trump later tweeting that it's a good thing that Republicans have never been more united, notable because the president is going to lean on Senate Republicans to guide this process in a way that's favorable for the White House, especially if he wants to see that roster of witnesses testifying.
We should point out, the White House counsel, Pat Cipollone, members of his staff, members of the White House communications team have been meeting with Senate Republicans for weeks, people like Senator Mike Lee, Ted Cruz, Lindsey Graham, to iron out strategy and messaging and figure out disagreements beforehand, disagreements like whether that whistle-blower whose complaint led to this entire impeachment process should testify.
Meantime, the president is sounding confident. He was asked today whether he believes that impeachment will stain his legacy.
Listen to what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
QUESTION: Are you worried, sir, about the stain impeachment might have on your legacy?
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No, not at all. No, not at all. It's a hoax. It's a hoax. It's a big, fat hoax.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SANCHEZ: One final note, Wolf.
We have been hearing that President Trump has been struggling to grasp the reality that he is going to likely be impeached by the House.
Pat Cipollone, fortunately for the president, has not had such illusions. He has been preparing for this by hiring dozens of attorneys in what will likely be a trial come January -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Boris Sanchez over at the White House, thanks very much.
Joining us now, Congressman Jim Himes. He's a Democrat. He serves on the House Intelligence Committee that's played a leading role in this impeachment investigation.
Congressman, thanks so much for joining us.
And let's get to the news of the day, the historic announcement, the speaker, Nancy Pelosi, advancing the impeachment investigation to the next phase, as she says, there is -- quote -- "no choice" but to proceed with articles of impeachment against the president. So, what do you want those articles, Congressman, to include?
REP. JIM HIMES (D-CT): Yes, well, there's a couple of things that are very obvious, Wolf.
And they're pretty easy for folks to understand. The president invited, in fact, demanded that a vulnerable new president of the Ukraine investigate his political opponent. It's as simple as that, right?
And my Republican friends in this building are not even denying that that occurred. Now, he also did it while he was, for absolutely no other reason, holding up $400 million in military aid, which gave great aid and comfort, that act, to the Russians.
He fired an ambassador, not because that ambassador was bad -- this ambassador, of course, was one of the very best we have -- but because Rudy Giuliani didn't like her and because a bunch of gangsters associated with Rudy Giuliani didn't like her.
And then, lastly -- and this is really important to those of us in this building -- and, of course, the American public is split on what I just talked about. But the president has said that: I have no obligation whatsoever to provide documents, to provide people, to provide testimony to the Congress of the United States.
And this is where we should leave behind our Republican and partisan labels. A president of the United States who is claiming the absolute immunity that this president claims, that he's got no obligation, just because he doesn't like the impeachment hearings, to obey Congress' subpoenas, that is not a president.
That is a king. That is a dictator. And so the contempt that Donald Trump has shown the Congress of the United States, which, by the way, goes way beyond anything that Nixon or Clinton did, needs to be addressed in those articles of impeachment.
BLITZER: Democrats are at odds, Congressman, over whether material from the Mueller report should also be included in the articles, in addition to Ukraine. What's your stance?
HIMES: Yes, you know, I understand why that's a question.
It does feel like the Mueller report was a long time ago. But people should go back and read volume two of the Mueller report, and actually read the whole report, in which the president, and, as Mueller said, not on an indictable basis, but as the president and his people invited people -- the Russians in to participate.
He also did things like firing the director of the FBI because he didn't like an investigation that the FBI was doing. Again, that is just absolutely unprecedented and blatant disregard for the concepts of checks and balances.
So, I don't know how you look at volume two, where Bob Mueller says, here are 10 instances of obstruction of justice, a crime that would send every -- that would send every other American to jail, I'm not quite sure how you look at those 10 counts and say, yes, we ought to just let that slide.
BLITZER: So you say include it.
House Intelligence Committee lawyers, the counsels, they will present your committee's findings on Monday before the House Judiciary Committee.
Will they reveal new evidence?
HIMES: I don't think so.
As you know, our investigation continues, because there's still a lot of unanswered questions out there.
But, Wolf -- and, again, I will say it again, the evidence and the reason we can move fairly quickly here, the reason Speaker Pelosi came out this morning as definitively as she did, is that the evidence is very, very clear of what the president did.
And, again, my Republican friends who are completely given over to his defense are not trying to say that he didn't pressure Ukraine to investigate Biden. They're just saying, well, that's his right. He's got the right to fire ambassadors and that sort of thing.
So there's just so much evidence out -- evidence out there of behavior that was designed not in the interest of United States national security, not in the interest of our foreign policy, but in the interest, the political interest of Donald Trump, that it's pretty -- it's not going to be hard to present that evidence in a pretty clear way.
BLITZER: The president says he wants the House Intelligence Committee chairman, Adam Schiff, to testify if there's a trial in the Senate.
HIMES: Well, this is the defense, right?
The defense -- if anybody who tuned into the hearings in the last two weeks, not just lifelong diplomats and military officers, but people who gave millions of dollars -- Ambassador Sondland -- to Donald Trump, the president's political supporters came in front of us and said the president was working a quid pro quo extortion scheme.
Everyone said that. So, what was the defense that we saw in those last two weeks? Adam Schiff is a mean guy. That was the defense.
So the fact that they're now saying that Adam Schiff should come testify, look, I'm a big believer in transparency. If Adam Schiff testifies -- and I think it is all about distraction and asking the American people not to look at gangster-like behavior by the president. But if Adam Schiff comes and testifies, if Joe Biden shows up and
testifies, what the American people will learn is that there was no misbehavior, that Joe Biden asking that a corrupt prosecutor be fired was part at that time of American foreign policy.
So, look, these guys are asking for things that, if they get, is going to cast into sharper relief the misbehavior of the president.
But let's keep in mind that it's all about distraction.
BLITZER: The president's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani once again inserting himself in Ukrainian affairs, right now traveling to Ukraine, and then tweeting this.
I will read it to you: "The American people will learn the Biden and other Obama administration officials contributed to the increased level of corruption in Ukraine between 2014 to 2016. This evidence will all be released very soon."
You're on the Intelligence Committee. You have looked into these allegations. What's your response?
HIMES: I think the legal term for what Mr. Giuliani saying is a lie.
He is simply, as he has done over and over and again, and as the president, his client, has done over and over again, is lying.
Joe Biden was undertaking the official foreign policy of the United States, working as part of a long effort that everybody understood, that the president at the time supported, to try to improve corruption in Ukraine.
That is not what Donald Trump was doing. Donald Trump did not use the word corruption once in his conversations with the Ukrainian president. He talked about Burisma and Biden.
So, look, this is all part -- I talked a little bit about the distraction. This is all about distraction. And it's not just distraction like, gosh, Joe Biden did some stuff too, which is just complete baloney. I guess Biden would call it malarkey.
But it is also in the service of Vladimir Putin. And let me be very clear about this. When my Republican colleagues or senators say that, well, the president was just investigating, and maybe Ukraine meddled in our election in 2016, not only are they flying in the face of the unanimous conclusion of our intelligence community, but they are advancing Vladimir Putin's talking points.
And that's what's happening here, Wolf.
BLITZER: Congressman Jim Himes, thanks so much for joining us. You're going to have a busy few weeks coming up.
HIMES: Thank you. BLITZER: There's more breaking news just ahead on the substance and
the stakes, as Democrats are officially now going forward with articles of impeachment against the president.
BLITZER: Tonight, the House Intelligence Committee chairman, Adam Schiff, is touting what he calls a significant milestone, the Democrats' decision to move forward with articles of impeachment against the president of the United States.
We're following all the angles of this breaking story and what happens next.
Michael Gerhardt is with us.
You were among the witnesses who testified yesterday before the Judiciary Committee.
The Speaker Nancy Pelosi, she said today, in announcing this historic next step: "The president's actions have seriously violated the Constitution."
How historic is this moment?
MICHAEL GERHARDT, UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA: This is quite historic.
I mean, this obviously doesn't happen every day. It's happening now about 21 years apart from the other time it's happened against a president.
But the presidential impeachment is as serious as a conflict between Congress and the president can ever get. The ramifications are gigantic, including the possibility of removing the president.
But this is going to test Congress. It's going to test the president. And it's going to test the American people.
BLITZER: Susan, the Democrats are divided over whether or not to bring back, bring in the Mueller report accusations, in addition to Ukraine.
What do you think?
SUSAN HENNESSEY, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, I think that there is a strong argument for including at least some articles.
Now, the argument here is not to include everything from the Mueller report, but instead to select those few episodes that demonstrated -- related to obstruction of justice, that demonstrated that the president had committed crimes, that he'd met all the elements of the statutory definition.
Now, it's important for Congress to consider including those articles, not just because it's wrong, and it's important to set boundaries around the American presidency, one thing that impeachment does, but also because it's a way to counter an emerging Republican talking point with respect to Ukraine.
Two things we heard Republicans saying yesterday during testimony was, one, there wasn't a clear criminal offense, there wasn't a clear statutory offense, whether or not that was required. That's not true.
With the case of obstruction of justice, there are. There are the clear violations of elements.
The other is that there was an insufficiently developed record. Of course, that is definitely not the case in the Mueller report. There is a very, very developed record.
So you could create a situation in which the Republicans can't object to that on Ukraine issues and then also decline to vote on the Mueller-related articles.
BLITZER: David Swerdlick, why are some Democrats opposed to bringing in the Mueller report?
DAVID SWERDLICK, CNN COMMENTATOR: Right.
So -- and I agree with Susan that there are arguments for doing this. There are events from the Mueller report, like the June -- or the summer 2016 meeting with Natalia Veselnitskaya and Donald Trump Jr. at Trump Tower, that are small-C collusion, even if they don't rise to the level of crimes.
But the Democrats were never able to convince the public or members of the Republicans in Congress that this was -- that this was an impeachable offense, that they were never able to get a narrative around why there was wrongdoing, and because a lot of the events in the Mueller report took place before President Trump was President Trump.
He was citizen Donald Trump. You have in this case a situation where the narrative is easier to understand. The centerpiece is that July 25 call between President Trump and President Zelensky, and most of the events or all of the events happened while Trump was in office.
BLITZER: Jeffrey Toobin, the speaker, Nancy Pelosi, she had a very tense, angry exchange with a reporter at the end of her news conference earlier today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
QUESTION: Do you hate the president, Madam Speaker?
PELOSI: I don't hate anybody. QUESTION: Representative Collins -- reason I asked...
PELOSI: I don't -- I was raised in a Catholic house. We don't hate anybody, not anybody in the world.
So, don't accuse me...
QUESTION: I did not accuse you.
PELOSI: You did. You did.
QUESTION: I asked a question.
QUESTION: Representative Collins yesterday suggested that the Democrats are doing this simply because they don't like the guy.
PELOSI: That has nothing do with -- let me just say that...
QUESTION: 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 concept -- about the climate crisis.
However, that's about the election. This is about the election. Take it up in the election.
This is about the Constitution of the United States and the facts that leads 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 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.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: All right, pretty rare show of emotion like that from Nancy Pelosi, Jeffrey.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, I thought of something, a phrase associated with Michelle Obama. When they go low, we go high.
All today, Michelle -- Speaker Pelosi's comments were all about the Constitution, all about the principles involved here, not the petty disputes. And that was the point she was making at the end there.
There are issues for politics, but impeachment is something different.
Her legislative mastery and her control of the situation has been really something extraordinary. I remember, at the beginning, after the election, there were a lot of Democrats who were like, oh, we need a new speaker. Get rid of Nancy Pelosi.
You sure don't hear that much anymore.
BLITZER: No, she's, among the Democrats, extremely popular.
Kylie, what did you think?
KYLIE ATWOOD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY REPORTER: Yes, I mean, she made the point that this is not about personality, this is not about love or hate, but this is about fact and truth, and what the Congress can really look into and dive into, and what they have revealed as part of their investigation here, because there is a lot that they have revealed that we didn't know.
And I think it's also important to go back to everything that this is surrounding around, which is that phone call with President Trump and President Zelensky on July 25, which President Trump has repeatedly described as a perfect phone call.
And so what Speaker Pelosi is saying is that this is not about if I like President Trump or not, but it's about his conduct, and if he is doing things that are for the American people, or if he's doing things that are going to benefit him politically.
BLITZER: Everybody, stand by. There's a lot more news coming into THE SITUATION ROOM.
Why is Rudy Giuliani in Ukraine? What is he thinking as he's tweeting about Joe Biden in Ukraine? President Trump is closer to being impeached at the same time.
Also, new details emerging on an upcoming report on the origins of the Russia investigation that may not necessarily sit all that well with the president or the attorney general.
BLITZER: Breaking news: House Democrats are officially moving forward with articles of impeachment against the president. But tonight, Mr. Trump's personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, appears undaunted. He's, again, threatening to release dirt on the Bidens, diving even deeper into the scandal that sparked the impeachment probe
CNN's Rene Marsh is working this story for us.
So, Rene, Rudy Giuliani is making new threats, and all of a sudden, he's showing up in Ukraine.
RENE MARSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right. This was a surprise visit. And, really, the story behind this trip is quite extraordinary because, of course, we're in the midst of this impeachment process and the president's lawyers really going into overdrive to create this counter-narrative. And to do this, he's traveled to Ukraine to dig up more dirt on the Bidens for a T.V. documentary with the sole intention of defending the president.
MARSH: As the president is on the cusp of being impeached, his personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, hops on a plane to Europe, not to avoid scrutiny, but he says, to save his client, the president, from impeachment. Giuliani's secret mission started in Budapest this week and then he was off to Kiev, the place where the pressure campaign at the heart of the impeachment inquiry began. He's tried to be coy.
RUDY GIULIANI, PRESIDENT TRUMP'S PERESONAL ATTORNEY: I'm not going to tell you where I am. And I am gathering evidence that is going to blow up Phony Schiff's case. It's going to blow up in his face, just like the last one did.
MARSH: But fringed Ukrainian lawmaker who has been pushing for an investigation into the Biden family posted these photos on Facebook saying he met with Giuliani about anti-corruption on Thursday in Kiev. The trip is part of a documentary series to air on a pro-Trump network.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Rudy Giuliani debunks the impeachment hoax.
MARSH: The doc features Giuliani interviewing three former Ukrainian prosecutors about with checkered pasts and suspect motives and described as corrupt by witnesses in the impeachment inquiry. They have been pedaling the conspiracy theories about Biden's family.
Giuliani tweeted Thursday this evidence will be released very soon. His latest move at the height of the impeachment inquiry shows an extraordinary effort to double down on the narrative that the president did nothing wrong but his political rivals did.
REP. KAREN BASS (D-CA): 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.
MARSH: Giuliani is central to the impeachment inquiry and faces scrutiny of his own for his role in the pressure campaign to convince Ukraine to announce investigations into the Biden family in exchange for a White House meeting and military aid. Giuliani also remains under investigation by New York prosecutors over his business dealings.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you in Ukraine also gathering evidence to support your own defense?
GIULIANI: I didn't do a darn thing wrong. Every single thing they write about me is a lie.
MARSH: Giuliani undeterred despite scrutiny over his involvement in Ukraine matters. And new information revealed in the House Democrats' impeachment report that he had unusual direct communications with agencies throughout government, including multiple phone calls to the White House and Budget Office for reasons unknown.
But with this surprise trip, the question is, is Giuliani acting on his own or at the request of the president. The president, according to sources telling CNN, has been told that Rudy Giuliani is a liability. But as you see each time the president is asked about him, he continues to publicly support him and he also continues to talk to him, Wolf.
BLITZER: Rene Marsh, good reporting, as usual. Thank you very, very much.
Joining us now, the former U.S. Attorney and CNN Senior Legal Analyst, Preet Bharara.
Preet, the president is facing an impeachment inquiry in part due to Giuliani's schemes into Ukraine, and yet, what, he still traveled to that country right now to speak to former prosecutors whom multiple witnesses have described as corrupt. But what is Giuliani thinking?
PREET BHARARA, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Maybe he's not thinking. From every perspective, from the president's perspective, from Ukrainian folks' perspective, from a legal perspective, from a political perspective, from an ethics perspective, and every single way you look at this, it doesn't make any sense and it's not a thoughtful thing for Rudy Giuliani to be doing, especially at the time that we're in now when impeachment proceedings have begun.
We also know that Giuliani, in these recent times, is not the most careful person. He says things that don't always make a lot of sense. He ventures into territories and areas that he's not supposed to be venturing into. The report that we just heard raises a lot of really important questions. Among them, is Rudy Giuliani acting on his own, is he acting as the president's lawyer or acting is he acting as a campaign operative for the president?
And the reason why that is relevant is that will then signify to what extent he can claim he's got a privilege so he doesn't have to talk about them, whether with respect to the congressional committee or with respect to investigators at the U.S. Attorney's Office of the Southern District.
BLITZER: Yes, because that's an important point. He's being investigated by federal prosecutors in in New York, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District in New York, for his dealings in Ukraine with others. And you're the former U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York. What do you think investigators are making of his current visit to Ukraine?
BHARARA: Well, they're watching. Usually, it's the case that people who have been involved in something where the allegations are true or not, they don't go back to the scene of the crime. They don't go back to the place where there are some allegations of misconduct.
And there are lots of allegations of misconduct with respect to Rudy Giuliani here on top of these unexplained calls to the Office of Management and Budget, which already have two people who resigned from that place because they were concerned about the stay of the money that was supposed to go to Ukraine.
So Rudy Giuliani's fingerprints are all over all of this. In those circumstances, typically, people don't go back to the place where they have been accused of things or could be accused of things. And so investigators of the Southern District are probably watching very carefully, probably asking some of those same questions about what capacity is Rudy Giuliani traveling there in.
And if I could make one other point on this question of whether or not Joe Biden or Hunter Biden did anything wrong, and there is no evidence to support that and it seems to be a fishing expedition, et cetera. It is irrelevant -- and we keep missing this point, it is irrelevant to whether or not the president of the United States abused his power that Joe Biden or Hunter Biden did anything wrong. It's an abuse of power whether or not there's anything that's fishy or cloudy about what the Bidens did.
And in the same way that if the president of the United States directed his attorney general or directed a U.S. attorney to investigate, say, Jeff Bezos or someone else who he doesn't like, and that's the reason he's calling for the investigation, whether or not that target of Donald Trump's ire has done something wrong is irrelevant. That can be investigated by other folks independently.
But the president of the United States abuses his power when he uses his power to call someone else, whether president of Ukraine or a local U.S. attorney to investigate specifically his political rival.
BLITZER: We know that two of Giuliani's associates have been criminally indicted in New York, one of them supposedly throwing out all sorts of hints about willing to cooperate. How much trouble do you think Giuliani could be in?
BHARARA: It's hard to say. There are all these reports about investigations they are looking at whether or not he registered correctly or should have registered as a foreign lobbyist, whether or not he has financial peccadilloes that he's been engaged in that rise to the level of the crime. The people that he's been associated with obviously have serious problems.
The prosecutors in the U.S. Attorney's Office last week announced in federal court that there would likely be a superseding indictment, meaning additional with charges against two of Giuliani's cohorts. So I know that place, and they are looking very carefully at a lot of different things and they're probably studying the finances and studying phone records, just like Intelligence Committee has.
And if Giuliani has in fact, crossed the line into breaking the law, I'm not saying that he has, but if he has, I'm pretty confident that investigators of the Southern District will find it and will pursue it.
BLITZER: Preet, I want you to stand by. We're getting new information coming into The Situation Room. I want to take a quick break.
We'll report what we're learning. We'll get your analysis right after this.
BLITZER: All right. We have some breaking news coming into The Situation Room dealing with some of Rudy Giuliani's phone calls that will reveal at the House Intelligence Committee impeachment report.
Let's bring in our Crime and Justice Reporter, Shimon Prokupecz. Shimon, what are you learning?
SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTS: Yes, Wolf. So a lot of questions have been raised about phone calls. We saw all those phone records that the House released as part of their investigation into the entire Ukraine matter. Well, we're learning the phone calls that were originally believed to be have made by Rudy Giuliani to officials at OMB may not have actually been the case. And what we're told is that those phone calls actually may have been between Rudy Giuliani and the White House, which OMB has denied. They have denied that they were talking to Rudy Giuliani at the time.
Well, now, we're learning that these phone records actually, Rudy Giuliani and OMB may be right, in fact that Rudy Giuliani was never talking to anyone at OMB, and that instead these phone calls were made to the White House.
Part of what could be causing some of this confusion is that these phone calls were being made to the White House Chief of Staff's Office, Mick Mulvaney, who, as we know, was at one time at OMB. So that could be what's causing the confusion. But, nonetheless, the significance of this obviously is that what was believed to have initially been phone calls between Rudy Giuliani and OMB may not be the case now.
So, obviously, a lot more questions need to be answered by members of the House. They said they're still trying to figure exactly out what some of these phone calls were about, who they were from, who they were from.
But, obviously, this would call in question a key part of some information they have gathered with these phone records, Wolf. BLITZER: It's very interesting. I want to stand by.
Lauren Fox is up on Capitol Hill. She's getting more information as well.
What are you learning, Lauren?
LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: Well, one of the explanations, Wolf, that we are getting from the committee is they are continuing to investigate these call records, specifically how this number was traced back to OMB, the belief, of course, was that this was an OMB phone number that based on records and directories. That's how they came to that assertion.
But, of course, we now know that number could be associated more broadly with the White House complex. Now, I want to read to you that one senior committee aide told me. They said they are still continuing to investigate these call records as part of our ongoing work, including to assess whether that number associated with OMB landlines may also indicate calls received from elsewhere within the White House.
Now, Wolf, this is significant, of course, because there are questions about why Rudy Giuliani was having conversations in April and August with OMB, when that was listed with the intelligence committee's report. Now, one of the questions it has raised, of course, is this is just a conversation with the White House, Rudy Giuliani is the president's personal lawyer. There are conversations that would perhaps be happening with the White House. That perhaps would make sense.
But, of course, the fact this phone call was happening in April, it raised eyebrows when we believed it was going directly to the Office of Management and Budget. Now, the Intelligence Committee's argument is that they always were saying within in this report that this was a number associated with OMB. But that gives you a statement exactly where we are tonight -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Very interesting. Stand by.
Preet Bharara is with us as well.
We just checked, Preet. The Intelligence Committee's report saying that, quote, Giuliani had three phone calls with a number associated with OMB on April 23rd. The report detailed that Giuliani's -- one of his conversations lasted for 13 minutes.
What's your reaction to this news?
PREET BHARARA, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Yes. So, I think we need to get to the bottom of it. And part of the problem with the committee is that it's not getting full cooperation from all the individuals who are implicated, including from Rudy Giuliani himself. And they're also obviously in a bit of a rush to get the report done because there's a clock, a political clock. And, you know, they want to get it done so the cloud is not hanging forever. And so, sometimes in the rush to get something done, they can't nail
everything down. It sounds like from my recollections reading the report and what you just read, they were careful how they described what they found, that it was a number associated with the Office of Management and Budget. And maybe it is that, but also could be as the reporting just revealed that it goes broadly to the White House as well.
This is additional information they didn't bring out in the hearings and we have to see what the facts really are.
BLITZER: Yes, Shimon, you're getting more information as well. What are you learning?
PROKUPECZ: Wolf, it's complicated work. This is why, you know, members of the House and really investigators -- this is why the FBI, when they look at this stuff, they like to get phone records from both sides.
So, in this case, it would have be phone records from the White House, phone records from OMB. I don't think the members of the committee are at that point, at least we know of, where they're ready to start subpoenaing records from the White House, subpoenaing records from OMB. That certainly would be an escalation.
But that's what you would normally do in these situations. Right now, it seems that they only have one-sided records, that is the Rudy Giuliani records and then, obviously, his associate, Lev Parnas. Very clear they have those records.
What they need now is the White House records, what they need now are OMB records, and I think that would tell us more definitively who was placing these calls, when they were being placed. They can use the timing when certain calls were made and make connections, which is what we're missing right now, Wolf.
BLITZER: All right. We're going to stay on top of this story, an important development indeed.
Everybody, stand by.
We'll be right back.
BLITZER: Tonight, the House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will take questions at a CNN town hall event here in Washington just hours after announcing the Democrats are moving forward with articles of impeachment against the president.
We're joined now by our colleague, Jake Tapper, who will be the moderator tonight.
We saw earlier in the day, tensions are pretty high right now when she was asked a question at the end of her news conference about hating the president and she was really angry.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR, "THE LEAD": Well, for one thing, she's an observant Catholic and she -- the Catholic dogma teaches that hating is a sin. So, I think that was part of it. She's really gone out of her way to say constantly that she prays for President Trump.
But your larger point is a cogent one, Wolf, which is that impeaching President Trump is not a small thing and it's nerve-racking I think for a lot of Democrats, not to mention Republicans and the president and tensions are running high. I mean, we have no idea what the impact of this will be on the makeup of the House or whether or not this actually helps get President Trump re-elected.
BLITZER: Yes. Because she says this is strictly about the Constitution. It has nothing to do with politics. But as you correctly point out the political fallout and we don't know, could be enormous.
TAPPER: Well, her argument is that this is about checks and balances and the Constitution. But inherently, impeachment is political. It's not a legal procedure and it's a political one, and we've really seen this take very partisan form with Republicans so far opposing even the inquiry they're getting, and Democrats leading the charge and then it will go to the Senate and who knows what will happen?
I mean, there's been such a misinformation campaign also when it comes to even trying to get to the bottom of this all with Republicans in the House and the White House just obfuscating and saying things that aren't true. So it is a very political moment.
BLITZER: Well, we're going to be watching later tonight and it's going to be a very significant town hall.
TAPPER: Great timing. No question about that.
BLITZER: Couldn't be much better.
BLITZER: Thanks very much for that.
TAPPER: Thanks, Wolf.
BLITZER: Just ahead, Hillary Clinton reveals the earful she got from George W. Bush after they attended President Trump's inauguration.
BLITZER: Former first lady and Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is opening up in a candid and unfiltered interview with radio host Howard Stern. In a wide-ranging two and a half hour conversation, she recalls her election night phone call with Donald Trump and reveals what it was like attending his presidential inauguration, a day she calls one of the hardest of her life. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: When I called him, you know, that terrible night --
HOWARD STERN, RADIO HOST: You did call him?
CLINTON: Oh, I did.
I said, you know, I said, look, you know, Donald, I want you to be a good president. I will do whatever I can to help you.
So, you know, we're in that period.
STERN: Was he gracious or was he a sore winner?
CLINTON: He was so shocked he could barely talk.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He was as shocked as you.
CLINTON: He was more shocked than me, I think.
Bill and I were sitting with George and Laura Bush, and then he started on that speech which was so bizarre, and that's when I got really worried and then that carnage in the street and the dark, dystopian vision, I was sitting there, like, just wow. I couldn't believe it and George W. Bush says to me: Well, that was some weird shit.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Really a fascinating interview with Howard Stern.
Now, once again, don't miss CNN's town hall with Nancy Pelosi later tonight moderated by Jake Tapper. It's at 9:00 p.m. Eastern, two hours from now, only here on CNN.
To our viewers, thanks very much for watching. You can also follow me on Twitter and Instagram @WolfBlitzer. You can tweet the show @CNNsitroom.
"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.