Return to Transcripts main page


Dems Consider Articles of Impeachment; Pelosi Fires Back at Reporter; Evidence to Support Impeachment; Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI) is Interviewed about Impeachment. Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired December 6, 2019 - 07:00   ET



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our democracy is at stake right now because the Democrats keep going after a vote that was legally done, legally headed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On Friday, a deadline for the White House to respond to the House Judiciary Committee request to ask if they want to participate in the upcoming proceedings.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A president of the United States who is claiming 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.


ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world.

This is NEW DAY.

Alisyn is off. Erica Hill is here with me this morning.


BERMAN: And we are in the midst of history right now.

HILL: We are.

BERMAN: An historic couple weeks on Capitol Hill. The final stages of the impeachment of a president. House Democrats will work through the weekend to draft formal articles of impeachment. The heart of the case, the president's efforts to press a foreign country to investigate the political rival -- a political rival. The evidence includes notes of a phone call that are a matter of public record, where he asked the president of Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden. That's not disputed. It's out there.

The question now is, will Democrat go beyond that to include information from the Mueller report, specifically the multiple cases of alleged obstruction of justice?

Overnight, in a CNN town hall, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi really wouldn't say which way she was leaning, only that the caucus is working, quote, collectively.

HILL: There's also another important decision looming, this one for the White House, which faces a 5:00 p.m. deadline today to decide whether to participate in the House impeachment investigation. On Monday, the Judiciary Committee will hold another hearing ahead of a committee vote on the articles of impeachment later in the week. A full vote to impeach the president could come the week before Christmas.

President Trump has his sights, meantime, set on the Republican-led Senate trial, hoping to turn the tables and compel top Democrats to testify. That approach, though, cautions one senior GOP senator, could lead to a three ring circus.

BERMAN: Joining us now, CNN political analyst Maggie Haberman. She's the White House correspondent for "The New York Times." And also with us, CNN chief legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin.

Jeffrey, you've been around for a while. And I want you to reflect on this moment.

Nancy Pelosi really -- she rang the bell yesterday morning saying this is it. It's on. We are in the final stages of impeaching a president. And that's a big deal.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: And if you know anything about Nancy Pelosi, she never begins a process that she doesn't know the end of it. So she knows she has the votes to impeach Donald Trump now. And, you know, we have a lot to do as a country in the next two weeks. Most importantly decide what exactly the articles of impeachment are. And, of course, vote on them.

But the end now does appear to be predestined. I mean the president is going to get impeached. And that is something that has happened twice in American history. And the fact that it's going to happen a third time, as you say, is a very big deal.

HILL: It is a very big deal. And, boy, it's one heck of a way to lead into the holidays, as we know.

At this point, Maggie, as we're looking though, what we're learning about what the -- what the president is doing with all of this, while outwardly we're hearing certain things from the president, behind the scenes there is actually a lot of work going on.

MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, yes, there's a lot of work going on ahead of this Senate trial, basically, which is a totally different process. And I think a lot of folks don't realize just how different that's going to be. The White House sees it as an opportunity to call a bunch of witnesses who they think can either bolster their case or muddy the Democrats. It's really important to remember that there has to be a vote a

approve those witnesses. And so far, as I understand it from folks I've talked to, there are not 51 votes there to approve either witness list. That means, you know, who the Democrats want, but that also means people like Hunter Biden and other people that we have heard discussed from the White House. So I still think that for the White House this is probably a better opportunity than they felt like they had in the House to shape public opinion around this. I think that they still believe that they are -- that Republicans are not going to take an action that would be -- have an adverse effect on the president, whether it was to vote in support of the House articles or to vote (INAUDIBLE) entirely, which would take a larger number of votes.

But I think that I would not mistake their lack of participation in the House for a lack of activity at all.

HILL: Right.

TOOBIN: And just to reflect on what Maggie said, you know, trial in the Senate, there is not a definition of what a trial is.

HILL: Right.

HABERMAN: That's right. That's right.

TOOBIN: And we all know what a U.S. -- a criminal courtroom looks like where you have a prosecution and a defense. The Senate can define the rules any way they want. They can have no witnesses.


TOOBIN: They could have only lawyers.

The way it worked in 1999 with the trial of President Clinton is they had depositions of certain witnesses off campus with a small group of senators examining Monica Lewinsky and a couple of others. That's one possibility. But they reached a consensus, the Democrats and Republicans, about how that trial would -- would unfold. Not at all clear there would be a consensus between Democrats and Republicans in this trial.

BERMAN: Right. Tom Daschle and Trent Lott got together and they reached -- they made a deal that was passed unanimously by the Senate.

TOOBIN: Absolutely.


BERMAN: My understanding is that Mitch McConnell and Chuck Schumer, while they haven't met yet, both of them still think that's going to happen.


TOOBIN: And it's not -- BERMAN: That they're going to get together and talk.

HABERMAN: Correct.

BERMAN: And --

TOOBIN: And it's not out of the question that it will. I mean, you know, this Senate is deeply polarized, like everyone else, but there are interests on both sides that they might want to agree on.

BERMAN: I think it's more likely than not. I mean --

HABERMAN: John's right, it's --


HABERMAN: I have the same reporting, that this is not as polarized as it appears outwardly.

TOOBIN: Right.

HABERMAN: I would not assume that that's what the discussions are about.

TOOBIN: Right.

BERMAN: That's a few days away. I want to talk about the next three, four, five days, if we can.

By 5:00 today, the White House has to tell us whether or not they want to be involved at all in the House process. Very quickly, do you have any reason to believe they're going to say yes on that?

HABERMAN: I do not. And what I have reason to believe they're going to do is set up a bunch of conditions by which it will be, I think, another not -- not incredibly long, but a couple of pages long letter, as we have seen before, if past is prelude. This could end up taking up until the deadline, maybe even shortly after it and that they will say some version of if you do x, y, z, then we would participate. But x, y, z is not going to be, I think, anything that anyone thinks that the House is going to do.

BERMAN: So, therefore, they won't participate.

Which brings us to Monday, which is this next hearing in the House. It's a House Judiciary Committee hearing where they'll hear, Jeffrey, from the Intelligence Committee council. I get the sense this is for a closing argument, to an extent, on impeachment. What will that closing argument be?

TOOBIN: Well, it will be a rough summary, orally given as opposed to written, of the two reports that the Intelligence Committee has already issued. The 300 page report that the Democratic staff put together on why what the president did in Ukraine was an impeachable offense. The Republicans wrote a very extensive report saying why it's not. And that -- that will be aired out before -- before the -- before the Judiciary Committee. And the Intelligence Committee, you know, heard the facts and the Judiciary Committee is going to evaluate them.

BERMAN: But I suspect we will hear on TV a lot of the evidence, why this evidence constitutes an abuse of power. This is what happened. Remember, America, this is what happened. The president asked President Zelensky to investigate the Bidens.

TOOBIN: Correct. And, you know, it -- what we have, and I think what we will see unfolding over the next two weeks, is the Democrats focusing on the facts of the interactions with Ukraine and the Republicans, as Maggie said, you know, talking about the conditions for cooperate and the process being unfair. I mean the process versus substance.

HILL: One other thing that's come out overnight in your reporting, Maggie, also in our reporting here at CNN, is about this call log that we got initially in the report, in the Intel report, from Intel. And it -- and it referenced calls between Rudy Giuliani and the Office of Management and Budget. But we're now learning that that was -- they're saying, well, that number actually came from public records and it's not clear. That's a generic White House number.

HABERMAN: Right. They -- what the committee appears to have done is referenced a directory to try to figure out where this number was associated with. And it's, as I understand it, at least in one of the cases of the calls, there were a handful of them and on a couple of different dates. But it was 395-0000. That is a generic switchboard trunk number. It does not tell you what desk it originated from. It doesn't even tell you what area in the White House it originated from. They're -- that number comes up when people call from the National Security Council or the upper floors of the West Wing or a handful of other areas. It's not clear why they labeled it that way.

It's worth noting that the White House could, of course, answer this by showing up and testifying and responding to documents.

HILL: Yes.

HABERMAN: So it's not as if this is an unknowable thing. But it isn't really clear why it is, just in this climate, when a little thing put on Twitter is going to take off, why it is that the House Committee, the Intel Committee, labeled it that way so definitively.

HILL: I think that is a big question this morning and whether -- whether it was just -- was it sloppy? Was it rushed in some way? Did they not really know? Or, were they not that concerned about it, right? Does it help set up a narrative that maybe even --

TOOBIN: Or, still, I mean, again, you know, as Maggie said, you know, the idea that the White House can be so outraged if they are outraged about, you know, the incorrect information. Since they have not cooperated at all and refuse to submit any evidence at all, the idea that they can be unhappy about, you know, how the committee has tried to go around them seems a little unfair.

HABERMAN: Right. I mean I think one of the things -- the hallmarks of the Trump administration, certainly for journalists, and I think for other entities as well, is that because they refused to play by normal rules, then everybody else has to play an even more perfect game.

HILL: Yes.

HABERMAN: That said, if you are -- if you are the House officials, I don't know why you would go ahead with that without being 100 percent sure.

BERMAN: But, again, as you noted, the one place they could clear this up immediately if they wanted to would be the White House --


BERMAN: Which hasn't done it in any way.

There was this moment yesterday that is still, I think, being talked about, and important this morning with Nancy Pelosi, the House speaker. She gave the news conference or she announced all systems go, you know, full speed ahead on impeachment. And then afterwards, at a different event, she took questions from reporters.


And Jamie Rosen from Sinclair basically asked her if she hates President Trump. And this is how she responded.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): 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.



TOOBIN: Don't -- don't mess with me. One of the many iconic Nancy Pelosi moments from this period.

You know, it wasn't that long ago when there was a rebellion of some Democrats in the House of Representatives to try to get a new speaker of the House. I mean she has so commanded this process and so much taken charge and so much become even more beloved by Democrats. The idea that there would be any rebellion against her at this point is pretty laughable.

BERMAN: Is the White House afraid of her at all?

HABERMAN: Yes. I mean the White -- look, she is able to navigate this process. One of the things that I think everybody forgets about Donald Trump is, he absolutely -- he won an election that people predicted he wasn't going to. He clearly has a political base.

He does not understand Washington. He still doesn't really understand Washington. And a lot of the people around him don't understand the nuances of Washington. Nancy Pelosi does. This is a process that she knows how to navigate. It is complicated. It has been messy between what has happened with conflicts with Jerry Nadler and where she has wanted Adam Schiff to be more central. She has found a way to do it without rocking the boat. And that is not nothing.

BERMAN: Maggie Haberman, Jeffrey Toobin, great to have you here this morning. Thanks for being with us.

HABERMAN: Thank you.

BERMAN: What will the evidence look like to support the articles of impeachment? What are the facts here? We're going to walk you through it, next.



HILL: House Democrats signaling their articles of impeachment against President Trump could go beyond the scope of the Ukraine investigation. So what will evidence -- what will the evidence look like that could support those articles of impeachment?

Here to break it down for us, CNN legal analyst Elie Honig, a former federal prosecutor.

So this is the big guessing game at this point, right? How many articles will they be? What -- and what will those be? What will the evidence be? I can't speak. This is the point where I turn it over to you, Elie.

ELIE HONIG, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Glad to take it, Erica.

HILL: Let's talk about those articles of impeachment.

BERMAN: We have a licensed practitioner to help us out now.

HILL: We do. Thankfully.

HONIG: All right, here we go.

Articles of impeachment are being drafted in the House by the Democrats. So I believe it's pretty clear, article one is going to relate to abuse of power with Ukraine. And Adam Schiff took pains in the report that he issued earlier this week to stress exit a is and always will be the July 25th call between Donald Trump and President Zelensky. In that call, Trump and Zelensky talk about the importance of foreign aid. And then Donald Trump says these ten words, which I think will live on in history, I would like you to do us a favor though. Trump then mentions two specific investigations of 2016 and the Bidens.

Also, we heard over the last couple weeks from various witnesses who gave us their perspective on why this was a this for that, a corrupt exchange. Now, one person who did not testify was Mick Mulvaney. But that said, the things that he has said publicly are still very much fair game and in play. And let's remember what Mick Mulvaney told us about the deal here.


MICK MULVANEY, ACTING WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: We do -- we do that all the time with foreign policy.

I have news for everybody. Get over it. There's going to be political influence in foreign policy.


HONIG: Get over it. Mick Mulvaney, also, I think, three words that will stay attached to him.

And just in case there was any question about what Donald Trump wanted, he told us himself in early October outside of the White House.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, I would think that if they were honest about it, they'd start a major investigation into the Bidens. It's a very simple answer.

Well, I would say that President Zelensky -- if it were me, I would recommend that they start an investigation into the Bidens.


BERMAN: Look, can I just tell you one of the thing that Republicans say is there's no agreed facts here. They don't agree what happened. The president told us exactly what happened. We have the phone log that says exactly what the president said.

HONIG: Absolutely.

BERMAN: That's evidence that everyone agrees exists.

HONIG: And keep in mind, take note, how many things that Donald Trump himself has said directly. It will be key evidence in this case.

Now, the Republicans are not going to take this without a fight. And in their Intel report that they issued the other day, the very first bullet item in their defense is, is this claim that President Trump has a deep seeded, genuine, and reasonable skepticism of Ukraine due to its history of pervasive corruption. In other words, he's this international corruption buster.

The problem with that argument is there's really no basis in facts. What case ever, anywhere, any country, any planet other than the Bidens in 2016 has Donald Trump ever expressed any interest in? He was asked that question, give us one case, and here's what he said.

BERMAN: Clearly he didn't have much to say. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REPORTER: Have you asked any foreign leaders for any corruption investigations that don't involve your political opponents? (INAUDIBLE) other cases where --

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You know, I -- we would have to look.


HONIG: We would have --

BERMAN: You've had a lot of time to look since then.

HILL: Yes.

HONIG: He's had two months to look. We still haven't seen one.


HONIG: So that will be article one.

HILL: So that will be article one. So then article two, obstruction, not of justice, article two, but obstruction of Congress.

HONIG: Obstruction of Congress, relating to the White House's stonewalling on the Ukraine inquiry. The Democrats wrote in their report the other day, Donald Trump is the first president in the history of the United States to seek to completely obstruct an impeachment inquiry by the House of Representatives. And, in fact, Richard Nixon sought -- was presented with a draft article for obstruction of Congress and he complied with some subpoenas. Not this president. this president has completely shut down everything.


And, again, let's take it directly from Donald Trump.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're fighting all the subpoenas.

I have an Article Two where I have the right to do whatever I want as president.


HONIG: So I have -- he doesn't have the right to do whatever he wants. Article Two gives the president quite a bit a power.

And then the big question I think strategically will be Article Three. What do they do with Mueller? Do they continue -- do they have it as its own article of impeachment, or do they use it as background for the larger point? And Mueller, of course, found ten different instances of obstruction of justice.

There's an interesting, strategic call here. How do they make sure of it? I think at a minimum the Democrat will use it as a backdrop to make the point that the president was warned. He was unbound. In other words, not chastised, not chastened by the prior incident and went on and did it again the very next day. Remember, Robert Mueller testified on July 24th. The next day, July 25th, was when the call happened between Trump and Zelensky.

HILL: That's the call.

BERMAN: But listen carefully over the next few days because obstruction of Congress has to do specifically with Ukraine. Obstruction of justice would definition ally involve Mueller --


BERMAN: Because that involved a legal investigation.

HONIG: A key, strategic decision coming up on that.

BERMAN: All right, Elie, thank you very much.

HILL: Thanks, Elie.

BERMAN: That was very helpful.

HILL: As the House moves to impeachment president -- to impeachment, preparations are underway, of course, for the trial in the Senate. One Republican warning, though, that it could become a three ring circus. So, what can we expect? That's next.



HILL: The House of Representatives is on track to hold a vote on impeachment by Christmas, which then, of course, brings us to another question, what would the trial look like in the Senate.

Joining me now is Democratic Senator Mazie Hirono, who serves on the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Nice to have you here in person instead of over satellite for a change.


HILL: As we look at all of this and articles of impeachment are being worked on, there is some question about how much material from the Mueller report may be included in those articles of impeachment.

Where do you stand?

HIRONO: Whatever the House sends over to us in their impeachment articles is what I'm going to be focusing on. And I really, you know, acknowledge the work particularly that -- and the leadership of Nancy Pelosi and moving the impeachment inquiry to the point where they're going to be doing the articles. And whatever they put in there is -- I -- is going to be their --

HILL: Is fine by you?


HILL: You don't see -- you don't see perhaps a third article of obstruction of justice involving Mueller as being a must and something that you would like to be -- to see sent over?

HIRONO: I don't -- well, at the time that the Mueller report came out, there were a lot of concerns that I had. But, you know, we've moved on from that point to the president directly trying to extort the president of another country to doing him a political favor, using $400 million of taxpayer money as leverage. So, you know, I think that's -- that's a lot right there.

HILL: Is there -- is there any concern that if that was included, if material from the Mueller report was included, that it could muddy the waters?

HIRONO: I don't know. And that's why I'm leaving it up to the House to figure out, you know, what is the best way to present the strongest evidence for impeachment. That's what I'm looking to.

HILL: In terms of the evidence, according to information that was obtained by CNN, these call logs involving Rudy Giuliani that were in the House report. House investigators said that a number in there was associated with the Office of Management and Budget. So, we've since learned that this was based on public directories. It's not clear that those were calls with the Office of Management and Budget.

Does that concern you at all? Does that hurt the Democrats' case that it was put out, that that's, in fact, what it was, yet we're learning that they actually don't know that those were the calls and it's not clear that Rudy Giuliani was having those conversations?

HIRONO: Well, the fact of the matter is, that the White House has stonewalled the production of documents. So there are -- there are a lot of documents and materials, dozens I'm sure, I think dozens of subpoenas were issued by the Intel Committee, as well as the Judiciary Committee, none of which the White House has complied with. So we have no documentary evidence from the White House. They are just totally stonewalling all of this.

HILL: So it's not concerning to you? Because in your mind -- I'm just --

HIRONO: Well, of course it's concerning --

HILL: To parse through that.

HIRONO: But, I mean, I'm more interested in the documentary evidence that the House Committee has called for and asked for. HILL: In the Senate, as you know, the legislative affairs director for

the White House is suggesting that the trial should include live witnesses. Senator Cornyn is pushing back on that saying, and I'm quoting here, I don't want a three ring circus. It's always unpredictable and I think one alternative would be to be depositions and then present excerpts.

Would you be OK with that?

HIRONO: It's all going to be negotiated between Chuck Schumer and Mitch McConnell. And so there are a lot of aspects to how the trial is going to go in the Senate that we don't know yet. And we know that it's going to happen. That we know. And we know that it's going to be presided over by the chief justice. So as far as who's going to testify, if any, or if there will be any depositions taken, if any, that's all going to be negotiated.

But what I would like to see is, if the president has a defense, make that defense, because he's taking the position he did absolutely nothing wrong in his so-called perfect call.

HILL: You want to see the president's defense. Who would you like to -- I understand it's going to be negotiated -- but in a -- in a perfect world, if you could say, I want these people, who's on your list that you want to hear from?

HIRONO: Probably Mulvaney. Probably Bolton. But these are people that the president has said, none of you will testify and they have complied with that. So there you have it.

But, you know, Mulvaney already said, hey, get over it, this is what we do. Oh, really, you shake down the president of another country for political ends? That's what they do? OK. I think that's an admission right there.


HILL: If this does come up in the negotiations, right, so as this is being worked out in terms of who will potentially testify.