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Barr Says He Still Believes Trump Campaign Spied on Despite Evidence; Divide Between Trump & McConnell over Impeachment Trail; Sheriff's Office: Active Shooter Situation in Jersey City; Deal Reached to Advance USMCA Trade Agreement. Aired 1:30-2p ET

Aired December 10, 2019 - 13:30   ET



JULIE HIRSCHFELD DAVIS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Right. And I mean, some of the results of this report are not flattering for the FBI, does not look good. There were mistakes clearly made. There were misjudgments. There are things that you could say were nefarious.

But I think it's important to do is to look at what Bill Barr is saying in context. Right, before he responded to the question about the inspector general report, he talked about impeachment and this idea that there has been this group of people inside the government that has been trying to take President Trump down since before he was president is really critical to the president's defense of himself in the impeachment context.

And you do hear the attorney general


HIRSCHFELD DAVIS: He believes strongly in that and he's picking up on that.

He views the Mueller report, he views the I.G. report through that lens and that is how he is gets --


HIRSCHFELD DAVIS: So you get sort of a distorted view of what the findings are based on


SOPHIA NELSON, FORMER HOUSE INVESTIGATIVE COUNSEL: That was my concern before we went to break. We listen and they're doing enormous damage, President Trump and Attorney General Barr to people and we don't know who to believe now. Do I believe the president and the attorney general or the FBI director? Who's the liar and who is the Deep State.

Our country is really in a very difficult place as we go into impeachment, because honestly, who is telling the truth here? That's a problem. (CROSSTALK)

EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: To that point, I think one of the most astonish and go possibly damaging, to use your word, answers about Ukraine. Do you believe do you believe Ukraine interfered in the election. He's like, I don't know.

This is the attorney general.


PEREZ: He knows.


PEREZ: He knows exactly what the answer is but he can't say it. It can't because he would go against the president believes.

That's where Bill Barr loses people who think - he has the right to his opinions, but you cannot, as attorney general, really, frankly, fuel these ideas coming from Twitter.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The FBI director is saying, no, there's evidence that Ukraine interfered.

Immediately, the president --


BASH: He doesn't have a right to his own opinions to say in public when he's a sitting attorney general and it comes down to a very real report done by, you know, all of the intelligence agencies, that people of both parties agree with.

Stand by, everybody. We have a lot more to talk about.

We have some new CNN reporting on impeachment. On President Trump and Mitch McConnell and some very different ideas of how the Senate trial should play out.

And, if this isn't enough news for you on this Tuesday, the Russian foreign minister will meet with President Trump at the White House today, even as concerns remains that Russia is attacking U.S. elections right now.

Stay with us.



BASH: We're back now with more on today's historic breaking news. House Democrats unveiling two articles of impeachment, one on abuse of power and the other on obstructing Congress with a committee vote expected as soon as this week and a full vote on the House floor, pair of votes, next week.

Now CNN is learning about a growing divide between the president and the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, over how the Senate trial will be conducted.

I want to get right to CNN correspondent, Kaitlan Collins, who, with Phil Mattingly, dug up this reporting.

Kaitlan, it's so fascinating. Tell us what we're learning.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: This Senate trial boils down to President Trump and Mitch McConnell and what they agree on. And sources tell me they are not on the same page with this.

Mitch McConnell wants the trial over as quickly as possible. He doesn't want members to take votes that could essentially be damaging to them. He just wants to go and have it out of their hands.

That is not how the president sees it, Dana. He wants it to be a show. He wants to turn it into a spectacle. He wants Adam Schiff there, the whistleblower. Not taped depositions as some have suggested to the White House.

He wants it to be this dramatic turn of events that he hopes can inflict as much damage as possible to the Democrats.

Where they'll come down on that is anybody's guess. Republicans have warned the House that they don't want this to turn to turn into a circus, but it depends on what the president keeps pushing for.

Listen to how White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham just responded on how the White House felt when they saw those two articles unveiled.


STEPHANIE GRISHAM, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We were anticipating that they would come forth with articles of impeachment, but we thought actually it was be four or five. I think Speaker Pelosi had to make a deal with her Dems.


COLLINS: She said there she thought there would be additional articles of impeachment beyond the two you saw today. There was question about what happened with the Mueller investigation.

But it's notable to see the press secretary say something like that. They thought there would be additional articles of impeachment against the president.


We should note the White House legislative affairs director has been on the Hill meeting with not only Republicans but members of the House, so they are pretty well aware of what their thinking was on this.

BASH: It's all about the expectations game and it sound like Ms. Grisham played that well there.

Kaitlan, thank you so much.

I want to talk about that with our panel.

We now have Jamie Gangel with us.

What do you think of how this is playing out?

JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm shocked about this between the president and Mitch McConnell. Could you have two more different personality styles? Mitch McConnell is interested in controlling the Senate and members of the Senate. Donald Trump, we know he likes a show.

Kaitlan's reporting emphasized the fact that Senate Republicans have been calling the White House to say, you can't turn this into a circus. They have vulnerable members.

There's a number that Mitch McConnell thinks about every night, and that number is 23. There are 23 Republican seats that are coming up in 2020.

He does not want to lose --


BASH: He wants to stay majority leader.

The problem for him and the idea is the notion of getting Hunter Biden and the whistleblower in this show called the Senate trial won't show up. It'll be hard to get then. The reality will make more likely that McConnell will rule the day.

HIRSCHFELD DAVIS: Right. Republicans -- first of all, as somebody who has covered the White House and understands the way it works and this president works, it's so classic. Impeachment during the Trump era, he wanted it to be a reality show. The problem for him and the problem with his idea is that the notion of getting Hunter Biden and the whistleblower and all of the characters he wants to cast in this show called "the Trump Senate trial" are not going to show up.

I mean, it's going to be really hard to get them. I think just the reality will make it much more likely that McConnell's way will rule the day. They have very different styles and interests, but Mitch McConnell is dealing in reality.

Another number he's thinking about is 51, the number of votes he would need if Democrats don't go along with this decision to basically force it through. For Hunter Biden, the whistleblower, those witnesses that Donald Trump does want to catch in his reality show, our reporting over the weekend was that Republicans had actually told him explicitly there will not be 51 votes in the Senate to do that. If you want a reality show, that's fine, but how are you going to

execute on that in a Senate that operates on rules?

NELSON: I also think the wild card here is a guy named Mitt Romney. Susan Collins is very vulnerable in Maine and she's up for reelection.

I think you'll have Mitt Romney have a difficult time personally looking at Ukraine, given the comments he's made about foreign interference in our elections an obstruction of Congress.

It won't be 20 or as many as the number is needed, but I think u get your number. And they will be very careful in the Senate to say, can we really make this happen?

BASH: Go ahead.

GANGEL: Just to speak to somebody like Susan Collins doesn't win either way on this in May with her vote coming up. I spoke to her last weekend. She's going to vote her conscious, see where it is. Politically it will hurt her whichever way she votes.

HIRSCHFELD DAVIS: But if you're Mitch McConnell, you want to make that process as brief as humanly possible, and she's definitely interested in that as well. That's the sort of thing he's weighing here.

BASH: I think you're right. And basically what you're all saying, there won't be a majority of 61 votes to impeach the president of the United States, but some who just want to do the right thing from their perspective will help to guide the way that the Senate trial is conducted, which is no small thing.

Thank you, all, for sticking around for this discussion.

We actually have some breaking news out of New Jersey. The sheriff's office in Jersey City says that there's an active shooting situation happening there.

I want to get straight to CNN's Miguel Marquez joining me now.

Miguel, what can you tell us?

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Interesting, the Hudson County sheriff's office says it's an active shooting situation. It's just after 1:00 p.m. In Jersey City, New Jersey. It's just over the Hudson River from New York City. The area where it is near the New Jersey City University as well.


There are unconfirmed reports of two individuals that have been shot. It's a little unclear. It's a lot unclear as to how all this played out.

But essentially from what witnesses are saying on the ground, these are unconfirmed, uncorroborated reports right now is that two individuals in a U-Haul went to a convenience store there and some sort of injury. One officer was injured, another one shot at the scene, and someone may have gotten away.

We're trying to figure out what happened in Jersey City, but there's a very large police presence in that part of Jersey City and there may be others trying to find anyone who may have fled the scene.

All breaking right now. We will keep you updated as we learn more -- Dana?

BASH: Miguel, thank you so much for bringing us that. We'll get back to it as you learn more.

Back to the historic story of the day. Impeachment articles of the president are unveiled, but as if that's not big enough, there are other really big things happening in Washington. Democrats and the White House reached a deal almost around the same.

Plus, President Trump is hosting Russia's foreign minister at the White House There's a lot of reaction on the release of the articles of impeachment even as concern are persistent that Russia is actively meddling in U.S. election. A lot to chew on after this break.



BASH: Apologies for a nod to an overused phrase. Turns out Congress can walk and chew gum at the same time. House Democrats unveiling two articles of impeachment against President Trump and an hour later announced a deal with the Trump administration on one of the president's signature priorities. A new trade agreement with Canada and Mexico.

To help sort it out, we're joined by senior political analyst, Mark Preston.

Back in the day we walked the halls of Congress together. This is one of those you say, are you kidding me? But it's also politically advantageous for both sides to have a deal on something that's substantive, even as impeachment is happening. Right?

MARK PRESTON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: No question. What I found interesting, the immediate reaction, why are Democrats giving President Trump a victory? Well, Nancy Pelosi took that question head-on when she talked about it today. Let's take ap listen.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): I would say that we came a long way from what he originally proposed. What he originally proposed, and there are some people that said, why make it look like he has a victory? Well, we are declaring victory for the American worker and what is in this agreement.


PRESTON: Strategically when you think about it, really smart on their part to come out say we're moving forward, get backing of major unions.

BASH: And AFL-CIO supports it.

PRESTON: Full-throated. To your point, they were walk and chew gum at the same time and still legislate same time trying to remove the president from office.

BASH: Let's be honest. Yes, a big win for the president, because he talked about it a lot. For a lot of Democrats especially moderate Democrats, they want to go home and say something I just voted to impeach the president. Helpful for them, too. It's a win for everybody.

I want to call your attention to a tweet from CNN global affairs analyst, Susan Glasser, sums it up. "Articles of impeachment, death of the WTO. Rebranded NAFTA deal public feud with FBI director meeting with Russian foreign minister for no apparent reason. A presidential campaign rally in a battleground state."

It's so true. All of the complicating, frustrated, chaotic and yet, you know in ways this little piece of legislation, it's all happening on the same day.

PRESTON: It's a typical Tuesday in Washington. You know?


PRESTON: I hate to be flippant about it but it really is. Conditioned to understand a lot of white noise around a lot of major developments washed out in the white noise.

To your point, we're talking about a major piece of legislation, took several years to negotiate, and get through and affects a lot of people. Same time, talking impeachment.

BASH: It's hard to focus on any one thing feuding with his FBI director and doing a deal and, by the way, about to get impeached by the House of Representatives.

Mark, always good to see you. Thank you.


More on breaking news. Democrats unveil impeachment articles on President Trump, Bill Clinton just weighed in. See the video. And the president, the current one, attacks his hand-picked FBI director, as we just talked about, because Christopher Wray knocked down his conspiracy theories.

It is the businesses of Tuesdays. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BASH: Get back to our breaking news out of New Jersey. The sheriff's office in Jersey City says there's an active shooting situation happening there.

Back to CNN's Miguel Marquez.

Miquel, what's the latest?

MARQUEZ: Authorities say now nobody is in custody. The schools in that area in Bayonne are on lookdown,

Our own journalist there and headed in that direction said she just heard gunshots, about 20 seconds of gunshots in that area.

What is not clear right now, whether there's one scene or two scenes. Sounds like they have broken off. She said she heard gunshots. They'll try to figure that out.

Just after 1:00 in the afternoon, near New Jersey City University in Jersey City, it sounds like -- these are unconfirmed reports we're trying to sort of dig into. Sounds like two individuals in possibly a U-Haul van of some sort pulled into a bodega as they were leaving, intersected by police. Two people may be shot. One may be an injured officer. Another someone at the scene.

And it sounds like police are on one scene, but looking for others at a second location -- Dana?


BASH: Miguel, thank you for that update.

That's it for me. Brooke Baldwin picks up this coverage right now.