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House Judiciary Committee Impeachment Hearing to Begin; A.G. Barr Warned Trump That Giuliani is a Liability. Aired 6-6:30a ET

Aired December 9, 2019 - 06:00   ET



DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: A momentous finale to the House impeachment hearings, set to begin in just hours.


REP. JERRY NADLER (D-NY): The evidence shows overwhelmingly that the president put his own personal interests above the interests of his country.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This president has gone through so much. They've been making accusations that not only are not based on facts; they're false.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: The 2019 CNN Hero of the Year, is --


FREWEINI MEBRAHTU, CNN HERO OF THE YEAR: This moment is not just for me. This moment is for every girl. Dignity for all.


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

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is NEW DAY. It is Monday, December 9, 6 a.m. here in New York. And today is the start of an important and historic week on Capitol Hill.

You're looking live at the room where it will happen. That's where the judiciary hearing will begin three hours from now. Investigators plan to lay out a sweeping case against the president. They allege he withheld $400 million in military aid to Ukraine for his own personal political gain and then obstructed the investigation that followed.

Democrats are still debating whether to include some of the findings from the Mueller report. So the week is expected to end with a committee vote that would send articles of impeachment to the full House for a final vote before Christmas.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: The president has decided to not officially participate in the congressional hearings. Instead, he spent the last 24 hours tweeting and retweeting more than a hundred times.

And he does have the benefit of Republicans in Congress, including now Senator Ted Cruz, spreading conspiracy theories. You need to remember, no matter what you hear, it was Russia that staged an organized top-down systematic attack on the 2016 election to help get Donald Trump elected.

Meanwhile, there is new nervouses [SIC] -- nervousness, I should say, in the administration about the activities of Rudy Giuliani. One of the president's most loyal defenders says Giuliani's most recent trip to Ukraine was, quote, "weird." And "The Washington Post" reports that Attorney General Bill Barr has warned the president that Giuliani has become a liability.

Now on top of all of that today, we are awaiting the release of the Justice Department inspector general report about the origins of the Russia probe. This is a report that is expected to confirm that the investigation was properly predicated and the report will reportedly debunk the president's claim that his campaign was spied on by the FBI.

We begin, though, with what will be a morning of closing arguments of sorts on Capitol Hill. And CNN's Suzanne Malveaux is there -- Suzanne.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, while most Americans took a break from of all this, the members of the House Judiciary Committee did not. They worked over the weekend, and we saw Jerry Nadler hand over the summary findings to the White House so that are not participating today.

And in just three hours, what we're expecting, we're going to see Democratic, as well as Republican lawyers making their case, presenting their evidence regarding impeachment as we anticipate articles of impeachment by the end of the week.


MALVEAUX (voice-over): Democrats nearing the home stretch in their impeachment inquiry. The Judiciary Committee set to hold its final scheduled hearing on the matter in just hours. Lawyers representing both Democrats and Republicans on the Intelligence Committee will present findings from their respective reports. An official telling CNN the hearing will be conducted like a trial.

NADLER: We have a very rock-solid case. I think the case we have, if presented to a jury, would be a guilty verdict in about three minutes flat.

MALVEAUX: The White House taking an unprecedented step, declining to participate in the hearing. Republicans defending that decision, and ranking member Doug Collins calling for the hearing to be postponed. He says his party did not get sufficient time to review documents. Republicans also demanding to add witnesses like House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff and the anonymous whistle-blower whose report initiated questions about the president's calls to Ukraine. REP. MARK MEADOWS (R-NC): The Democrats are looking at a partisan

impeachment of the president of the United States. This started with a partisan attack --


MEADOWS: -- on the president of the United States, based on a phone call where -- where there's probably 30 people overhearing a phone call and then leaking it to a whistle-blower, who then came out and -- and they put together a narrative that tried to fit the facts.


MALVEAUX: At the hearing, one Democratic official tells CNN Democrats plan to argue that President Trump has a pattern of abusing the power of his office, saying that is why the Ukraine matter is so important.

Democrats holding a mock hearing over the weekend in preparations for fireworks.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): There is overwhelming evidence that the president sought to coerce Ukraine to interfere in our election. It's a gross abuse of his office, and the president also deeply sought to obstruct the investigation into that wrongdoing.

MALVEAUX: The evidence presented at this hearing will provide the framework for possible articles of impeachment, which could come by the end of the week. Still unclear is whether evidence beyond the Ukraine investigation will be included, particularly any findings from the Mueller report.

REP. MAXINE WATERS (D-CA): I think that we should have articles in that resolution that clearly define where this president has undermined the Constitution. It may be something that comes out of Mueller.



MALVEAUX: And later today, highly-anticipated Department of Justice inspector general report will be released. It will come out. It is about the origins, of course, of the Russia investigation and whether or not Russia meddled in the 2016 elections and what was behind that.

It will say, based on leaked reports, the FBI did not spy on the Trump campaign. We've already heard from the attorney general, Barr, dismissing this report. And no doubtedly, John, it is just going to add to the criticism and the scrutiny of the impeachment hearings today -- John.

BERMAN: All right. Yes, that's right. One disclosure after another today. We are awaiting them in order. Suzanne Malveaux on Capitol Hill, thank you very much.

So what's the one thing that members of Congress can say that will change minds about the fate of the president? CNN's special coverage of the impeachment hearings continues right after this.



CAMEROTA: You are watching CNN's special coverage of the impeachment hearings. In just a few hours, the House Judiciary Committee holds what is expected to be the final hearing, its final hearing, I should say, in the impeachment investigation of President Trump. So what can we expect?

Let's bring in Joe Lockhart, former White House press secretary under President Clinton and a CNN political commentator. And Laura Jarrett, CNN justice correspondent, who is back with a vengeance after maternity leave. Great to have you back.


CAMEROTA: OK. What should we expect today?

JARRETT: I think it's going to largely be a presentation by lawyers talking to other lawyers. The odd thing about it is they're going to be questioned by each other. So it sets up a little bit of an awkward dynamic, where Norm Eisen, the counsel to the Judiciary, is going to be questioning Barry Berke, another counsel for the Judiciary.

And so I think you have to wonder, like, how entertaining is this going to be for the American public, given the constitutional lawyers that we saw last week. You want to keep up the momentum on this. And it's largely a presentation of evidence.

They said they want it to be like a trial. But it seems like the more effective thing would be to cross-examine each other instead of just talking Democrat to Democrat.

BERMAN: Well, that's the thing. Will they have the guts to go after the counsel from the other side when the members get to do the questioning or when the counsel gets to do the questioning? Otherwise, it's just very deliberate. It's like, we're making this case. We went in there with the idea of making that case.

Joe, what is the case that Democrats want you or need to make today in what will be the last public hearing where there are questions of any kind?

LOCKHART: Yes, listen, I think that what the Democrats have done have been very deliberate and used building blocks. They wanted first, here's the evidence. And then they -- and then they had a presentation with scholars on here's the law.

Now I think today's going to be much sharper, which was here's what the president did. Here's why it's wrong, and here's what his ugly motives were. So I think from Democrats, it's going to be a much sharper presentation.

And I think if they're smart, the majority counsel will go after the minority counsel. Because they're arguing -- you know, the Republicans have argued from a position of ignoring the evidence and making a partisan argument of nothing to see here, nothing to see here, you're just attacking an illegitimate process. And I actually think there may be some drama in a good -- and Democrats have two good lawyers who will be --

BERMAN: Barry Berke and --

LOCKHART: And Norm Eisen. Three good lawyers. And I think -- I think Steve Castor has got the hardest job today, who's the minority counsel.

CAMEROTA: One of the things that Republicans have said is, you know what? Three months later, after he froze it, the president released the aid, the military aid to Ukraine. So no harm, no foul.

Well, that's not what the House Judiciary Committee report put out. Here's an excerpt from what they said on Saturday. "A president cannot escape impeachment just because his scheme to abuse power, betray the nation, or corrupt elections was discovered and abandoned."

JARRETT: And I think it's a great point. And there's been some reporting, great reporting by us, obviously, and "The New York Times" and "The Washington Post" about the timing of when he found out things, obviously, from the White House counsel. All of this was sort of percolating much earlier on, I think, than we originally knew.

And so by the time that it's released in September, a whole lot has transpired. And so yes, obviously, it was ultimately released. But there's still -- there's still a question of the timing and when and why.

BERMAN: One of the big supposed mysteries has been will the Democrats include part of the Mueller investigation in the articles of impeachment? Will they go to Russia or will they stick with Ukraine?

I actually think we more or less have the answer. If you listen to Adam Schiff over the weekend, who leads the Intelligence Committee in charge of the investigative part of this, this is what Adam Schiff tell us.


SCHIFF: I can tell you as a former prosecutor, it's always been, you know, my strategy in a charging decision, and an impeachment of the House is essentially a charging decision, to charge those that there is the strongest and most overwhelming evidence and not try to charge everything, even though you could charge other things.


BERMAN: The last part, not try to charge everything, even though you could charge other things. Isn't Adam Schiff basically telling us that maybe they'll reference Mueller as part of a pattern, but we're not going to see a specific article of impeachment on the Mueller investigation? LOCKHART: Yes. And I think Democrats have been signaling that for

some time. I personally think they're wrong. Because I think, you know, just on what he was saying there, this most solid evidence that was built from grand jury testimony from an -- a wide-ranging investigation of two years, as opposed to something put together in six weeks, was on obstruction of justice in Mueller.


And what I think Democrats are afraid of is that they lost the messaging war on Mueller and the Mueller report. And I think it's important for -- to make the pattern of abuse -- and I think they can win back that war, but I think they're looking at this and saying, let's not take any more risks than we need to. Let's -- we've got what we've got. Let's move forward.

JARRETT: I think they think people have Mueller fatigue. And that especially some of the more moderate Democratic voices have already signaled, don't go there. We have enough on the Ukraine. Why are we trudging back down the Mueller?

But as Joe says, if they don't include it, where's the pattern?

CAMEROTA: All right.

BERMAN: All right.

CAMEROTA: Thank you, guys.


CAMEROTA: Stick around.

BERMAN: Stand by.

CAMEROTA: We have many more questions.

BERMAN: We woke up to two articles in the papers today, "The Washington Post" and "The New York Times," both with these really big articles about Rudy Giuliani and new concerns within the administration about what the heck Rudy Giuliani is doing and how the current attorney general thinks he's a liability for the president. Next.



BERMAN: Growing scrutiny this morning of Rudy Giuliani after his latest trip to Ukraine. "The Washington Post" reports that in, quote, "several conversations in recent months, Attorney General Barr has counseled Trump in general terms that Giuliani has become a liability and a problem for the administration. In one discussion, the attorney general warned the president he was not being well-served by his lawyer."

We're back now with Joe Lockhart and Laura Jarrett.

I think that analysis from Bill Barr, I think the clinical way of describing it is, duh. Right? I mean, he's observing what is clear, I think, to so many people.

JARRETT: Sure. And the mayor is -- former mayor is under criminal investigation in the Southern District of New York. I mean, let's put it out there. His associates have been charged with campaign finance violations. We don't know the full scope of the investigation. It's only in the early stages. But we know there's a counterintelligence aspect to it.

And so I think the attorney general is counseling the president, Look, you want to be careful here.

And we know that Barr was not happy that he was mentioned on that infamous July 25 phone call. He was not happy to be in the same breath as Rudy Giuliani. And so that, I think, is where you see Barr's sort of caution coming from.

CAMEROTA: I'm not sure the president is listening to that advice, since this weekend, he was talking in quite optimistic terms about what Rudy Giuliani is going to unearth from his latest trip to Ukraine.

And the -- I mean, the thing is, is that we know that Rudy Giuliani, and often the president, are susceptible to bad information and conspiracy theories. So Rudy will come up with something cockamamie while there and then come back; and the we'll all have to have -- get an earful of it.

But it was reminiscent of a different time that the -- that Donald Trump went on a fishing expedition. So watch these two moments.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He says he has a lot of good information. I have not spoken to him about that information.

But Rudy, as you know, has been one of the great crime fighters of the last 50 years.

He has not told me what he's found. But I think he wants to go before Congress and say and also to the attorney general and the Department of Justice. I hear he's found plenty.

(via phone): We're looking into it very, very strongly, and at a certain point in time, I will be revealing some interesting things.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Have you got anything, though? Have you got anything? Even if you don't tell it what it is, have you got something that suggests that Barack Obama was not born in the United States?

TRUMP: We're looking into it very strongly. And you will be very surprised.


CAMEROTA: Well, I guess we're still waiting for that big reveal. He was looking -- that was when he was looking into President Obama and Hawaii.


CAMEROTA: He had sent investigators to Hawaii.

LOCKHART: Yes. And Rudy and the president's anti -- you know, counter-Mueller report still hasn't been revealed.

JARRETT: We're still waiting on that one.

LOCKHART: And Bill Barr, I think he's just jealous, because Bill Barr thought he was the president's personal attorney. But that's -- that's another story.

Listen, I don't know that the president and Rudy are so much susceptible to conspiracy theories. I think they use conspiracy theories to create confusion around their own criminal behavior. So those are two different things.

CAMEROTA: Obviously, we could debate that all day long. I think that they end up believing their own --

LOCKHART: Yes. I do think --

BERMAN: He magnifies them.


BERMAN: To say he's just susceptible to it doesn't really do justice to what we just saw there with the birther stuff.

CAMEROTA: Well, I just don't ever hear any skepticism. They never consider their sources, and then they trumpet it.

LOCKHART: Yes. But -- but what these, all of these conspiracy theories have one thing in common. They are useful to Trump as far as -- as far as a defense.

I think the Giuliani thing, though, is -- the best Republican argument out there is the Democrats are moving too fast. You know, what do you mean, Trump's going to do it again? He won't do it again. He's learned his lesson.

Giuliani makes the Democratic argument. He's out there doing it now. He's in Ukraine trying to get information, trying to get the Ukraine -- Ukraine legislators to interfere in America's election. That's what this is all about.

BERMAN: Look, if you've lost -- if you've lost Matt Gaetz, you know, right? LOCKHART: Yes.

BERMAN: You've lost everyone.

CAMEROTA: As goes the adage.

BERMAN: As goes Matt Gaetz. Matt Gaetz, conservative Republican who isn't afraid to jump into any partisan fight in the world, thinks what Giuliani is doing is sketchy. Listen.


REP. MATT GAETZ (R-FL): It is weird that he's over there. And I believe that the president urging Mayor Giuliani to provide that clarity to the Congress will be helpful in resolving what -- what seems to be odd having him over there at this time.


CAMEROTA: Whoa. Whoa!

BERMAN: Seriously. If Matt Gaetz is saying you're weird and odd.

CAMEROTA: I know. I'm serious, too.


JARRETT: He's talking to an audience of one there, probably. Right? I mean, the president has very clearly aligned to Matt Gaetz.

And I think, obviously, you know, we were all sort of playing the "where is Rudy Giuliani game" last week. But I mean, the fact of the matter, as we mentioned, is he is under investigation. So there's a level of brazenness, I think, that you know, FBI and Justice Department lawyers are looking at him. And so you would think he would keep his head down at this moment, but he's not.

LOCKHART: And I think that's one of the reasons why Trump still loves Rudy. One is that -- two reasons. One is Rudy's got stuff on Trump and has -- has hinted he might use it.

CAMEROTA: He said as much.

LOCKHART: Secondly, Trump loves the brazenness. He loves Gaetz. He loves Doug -- he loves these people who will spout anything that defends him. And I really think he, at the end of the day, he probably does convince himself it's true.

CAMEROTA: All right. Joe, Laura, thank you both very much.

Meanwhile, we have some breaking news for you. Because this morning a massive search-and-rescue operation is under way --

BERMAN: Look at that.

CAMEROTA: -- after this volcano erupted at an island very popular with tourists in New Zealand. So we'll give you all of the breaking details on this, next.