Return to Transcripts main page


New Video of Kosher Market Attack; Interview With Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA); Inspector General Testifies on Trump-Russia Probe Report; House Begins Debate on Trump Impeachment Articles. Aired 4:30- 5p ET

Aired December 11, 2019 - 16:30   ET




MICHAEL HOROWITZ, JUSTICE DEPARTMENT INSPECTOR GENERAL: I'm solely basing it, correct, on the actual evidence that we have.


LAURA COATES, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Not precisely where you want to be.

If you can't rule out things like gross incompetence in line with the FBI or other intelligence agencies, that's a problem. It feeds into the narrative the president has had all along about them potentially being inept.

And whether it was about bumbling motivation or about a bias, it's not where you want to be. And I think there is some fair criticism towards the FBI, based on the I.G.'s report, specifically the idea of the omissions that were left out there and inaccuracies and essentially buttressing the credibility of Christopher Steele.

And although the Steele dossier did not launch, it was not patient zero -- that's George Papadopoulos -- he did play some role in it.


COATES: And so to have the foundational issues not be brought to the FISA court is important.

Now, as a former federal employee, I have to say, we are told and thought to be perfect and have no time to be perfect. And so there is that rule about bureaucracy that is already in play there.

However, there is just criticism. But there's also not a lot of policies in play to talk about these very novel issues. And so going forward, it's why there's all these reform measures now. And that can be addressed.

But I do think they left themselves vulnerable to the criticism that's open right now.

TAPPER: And then, of course, there's the question about whether or not Attorney General Barr is playing an improper role in trying to defend President Trump and prosecute the president's case.

Here is Horowitz under questioning about some of that. Take a listen.


SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D-CA): And Attorney General Barr stated his belief that -- quote -- "Spying on the Trump campaign did occur" -- end quote.

And, as you said, your investigation found no evidence that the FBI placed any confidential source within the Trump campaign or tasked any confidential source to report on the Trump campaign.

That's correct, right?

HOROWITZ: That's correct.

FEINSTEIN: And, further, no evidence that political bias or improper motivations influenced the decision to use confidential sources as part of the investigation?

HOROWITZ: That's correct.


TAPPER: What do you think?

MARY KATHARINE HAM, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, first of all, there's another investigation going on.

I'm content to wait until it's finished.

TAPPER: The Durham investigation, yes.

HAM: And find out -- he does have a larger scope.

But I am mystified that people are -- there is the real true fact that the Trump administration must deal it that this hit the bar for launching an investigation.

Now, he takes pains to note that that bar is not particularly high, and we might want to think about whether it should -- there should be other procedures, as you note.

TAPPER: They lowered it after 9/11.


HAM: Right, when it comes to dealing with federal campaigns, for instance, and people engaged in their core political speech.

But the idea that anybody is reading this as an exoneration is mystifying to me. I mean, 17 occasions of lying, omission, leaving out exculpatory evidence, misleading the FISA court. This is a very secret court. It has tremendous powers over American citizens. And I am with the ACLU in being deeply concerned that this was what

was going on, whether I like the people or the beliefs of the people whose rights have been violated.

And a lot of people seem to be dismissing that in favor of this other conclusion, which is true. But this is deeply concerning just for all American citizens.

KAREN FINNEY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: But, unfortunately, on this planet, not the one that Ron speaks of...


FINNEY: ... we don't get to have those two separate conversations that would say...


HAM: Oh, I can have them. I have them all day long.

FINNEY: I know you do, but I'm saying there are two parts to this.

There is the part that is very frightening in terms of the FISA courts and what the procedures are. On the other hand, the Republicans, again, are arguing process, not substance, because the substantive fact is, there was an investigation.

The Trump campaign was found to -- the Russians did actually meddle in our election. The Russian -- the Trump campaign actually did, whether they intentionally -- unintentionally welcomed it, it is still shocking that a candidate for the presidency said, hey, Russia, if you're listening.

I mean, there are actual facts. And why Donald Trump even thinks that this is going to exonerate or somehow excuse the fact that what happened with -- it was not Ukraine, by the way. It really was Russia.

It doesn't erase that. And, frankly, I think, for most voters, they feel like moving on. I mean, talk about why are we going through this when we have got an election coming up? Yes, the FISA concerns are real. But in terms of Donald Trump, this is not going to exonerate him either.

HAM: Well, there are facts for other people too.

It matters that Schiff and Comey and all these guys were saying that, no, the Steele dossier was incidental, when, in fact, it was not.


TAPPER: It was not incidental. It was not part of launching the investigation. It was definitely part of continuing it.


HAM: It was not incidental to that FISA warrant.

TAPPER: Continuing the investigation.

Stick around. We have more to talk about.

What a difference 21 years makes. Up next, a look at the only five members of the House Judiciary Committee still around since they cast their votes to go forward or not go forward with the Clinton impeachment.

What do they sound like today with Trump?

Stay with us.



TAPPER: In our politics lead, as lawmakers prepare to vote on impeachment, a reminder that some of them have done this before.

Five of the House Judiciary Committee members who will vote on whether or not to impeach President Trump were facing roughly the same decision 21 years ago, deciding whether to impeach President Bill Clinton, as Dana Bash reports.


DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Democrat Jerry Nadler in 2019...

REP. JERROLD NADLER (D-NY): Serious abuse of power.

BASH: ... sounds a lot like Republican James Sensenbrenner in 1998.

REP. JAMES SENSENBRENNER (R-WI): Obstructed and abused power.

BASH: Sensenbrenner now argues Democrats wanted to oust Trump since his election.

SENSENBRENNER: And they haven't liked him from the beginning of his term.

BASH: Like Jerry Nadler said then about the GOP and Bill Clinton.

NADLER: There are clearly some members of the Republican majority who have never accepted the results of the 1992 or 1996 elections.


BASH: The biggest difference, besides 21 years, which party's president is being impeached and which party holds the gavel.

Five members of House Judiciary, the committee that voted to impeach President Clinton, are still there now, three Democrats, Nadler, Sheila Jackson Lee and Zoe Lofgren, and two Republicans, Sensenbrenner and Steve Chabot.

(on camera): Do you feel like this is deja vu in reverse?

REP. STEVE CHABOT (R-OH): Well, when I was involved in this two decades ago, I really never dreamed that we'd see it again.

BASH: In your opening statement back December 10, 1998, it's so weird. It's almost to the day. You said:

CHABOT: Allowing the president's actions to go unpunished would gravely damage the office of the president, our judicial system, and our country.

BASH: That's what Democrats are saying about this president right now, almost to the word.

CHABOT: They're saying it, but I think the facts are very different.

BASH (voice-over): Very different.

What is similar, the palpable solemnity of the moment.

REP. SHEILA JACKSON LEE (D-TX): I come bearing feelings of somberness and sadness.

I'm reminded of my time on the House Judiciary Committee during the 1990s impeachment and as well a number of federal judges. I was guided then not only by the facts, but by the Constitution and the duty to serve this nation.

BASH: And tensions very high.

NADLER: Irrelevant.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now, let's slow a bit here. Let's slow down a bit.

NADLER: The gentleman -- the gentleman...

BASH: In 1998, Nadler warned against any impeachment backed by one party and opposed by another.

NADLER: Such an impeachment would lack legitimacy, would produce divisiveness and bitterness in our politics for years to come.

BASH (on camera): So, right now, you are moving forward with impeachment proceedings against a Republican president without support from even one congressional Republican.

Is it fair to say that this impeachment, in your words from back then, will produce divisiveness and bitterness in our politics for years to come?

NADLER: I think what puts bitterness and divisiveness into our politics is the conduct of the president, who calls -- who questions the patriotism of people who don't agree with him, who calls political opponents human scum.

CHABOT (voice-over): In 98, Democrats Zoe Lofgren predicted the GOP would suffer for impeaching Bill Clinton.

REP. ZOE LOFGREN (D-CA): For those who are out to get the president, shame on you. But, beware, next election, the voters will be out to get you.

BASH (voice-over): Again, roles are reversed.

CHABOT: If I were a Democrat, I'd be worried about it. And I think Zoe's comments back there could be probably coming out of the lips of a Republican right now.


BASH: Lofgren, of course, was right. Republicans did lose congressional seats in the '98 elections after impeaching Bill Clinton. We won't know, of course, until this coming November, Jake, if history will repeat itself there too.

TAPPER: Fascinating stuff.

Thank you so much, Dana Bash.

BASH: Thanks, Jake.

TAPPER: Appreciate it.

We're just a few hours away from the debates in the House Judiciary Committee over the two articles of impeachment against President Trump.

We're going to talk to a member of that committee next.

Stay with us.




MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Are you hearing a lot from your constituents back home, people...


REP. ELISSA SLOTKIN (D-MI): Constantly. The phones are ringing off the hook. We literally can't pick up the phone fast enough. And it's people on both sides of it.


TAPPER: If you thought impeachment was not at the top of the minds of many voters, Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin of Michigan would beg to differ.

She's one of dozens of Democrats up reelection next year in districts that President Trump won in 2016. And she's one of multiple Democrats telling CNN today that she has not yet committed to voting for or against impeachment.

Joining me now is Democratic Congressman Eric Swalwell of California. He's on both the House Judiciary Committee and the House Intelligence Committee.

Congressman, I want to get back to those voters' concerns in a minute.

But I do want to ask you. Looking ahead, in just a few hours, just over two hours, you will be in the first House Judiciary Committee debate over the articles of impeachment. What are you expecting?

You think it's going to be contentious, I assume?

REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D-CA): Well, Jake, we're going to lay out that this president abused his office, asked a foreign government to help him cheat in an election, and doing that jeopardized national security and the integrity of our elections.

And he, like anyone who would do something like that, should be held accountable.

Now, yes, that may come with some heated moments. But I think you will see passion and conviction on our side to hold him to account.

TAPPER: You heard Congresswoman Slotkin there talking about the flood of calls she's getting about impeachment from both sides of the issue.

Your California colleague Congressman Gil Cisneros told CNN today that there might be a lot of blowback in his district for supporting impeachment.

Do you worry about how impeachment will affect these vulnerable Democrats, these colleagues of yours next November?

SWALWELL: Well, it's many of these vulnerable Democrats, like Mr. Cisneros and Ms. Slotkin, who served in the military and in the intelligence community, who came forward saying this warranted an inquiry that put us in this position.

They didn't have to do that. But they thought what the president had done justified doing that.

But these colleagues of mine and myself, we will be able to go back to our districts, hopefully before Christmas, and show that we just passed this week a farmworkers bill of rights essentially, that, hopefully, there's going to be a bill and a passage on a U.S.-Mexico- Canada trade deal, as well as reforming prescription drug prices.

So, it will not only be impeachment, but we also have 275-plus bills that are bipartisan that have been sent to the Senate that Mitch McConnell has not taken action on. TAPPER: If Democrats lose the House majority in 2020, will you regret backing impeachment?



TAPPER: Your chairman on the Intelligence Committee, Adam Schiff, defended the decision today to not include obstruction of justice in the articles of impeachment.

There is obstruction of Congress, not obstruction of justice, which would have been from the Mueller investigation.

You believe President Trump obstructed justice, I assume?

SWALWELL: I'm with Chairman Schiff. And I believe that the pattern of conduct of asking the Russians in the past to help him cheat, and seeking to obstruct that investigation, will be shown in our articles of impeachment in what we send to the Senate.

But, also, if there is a Senate trial, and successful court rulings come out our way as it related to obstruction of justice and the Mueller report, we hope that that would be used as pattern evidence in the Senate.

TAPPER: Did Democratic leaders make a mistake by not including obstruction of justice?

SWALWELL: No, I don't believe so.

TAPPER: Does it concern you that no House Republicans have indicated they're considering voting for impeachment, none?

SWALWELL: Well, we have a former House Republican in Justin Amash who has supported us and had to leave the party.

But I'm not giving up on them, Jake. And what I'm going to do tonight, and I think a lot of my colleagues will do the same, is appeal to the constituents of my Republican colleagues, and make -- basically make the case that no one else in their life, in any power dynamic that exists, boss, worker, teacher, student, producer, actress, any power dynamic that exists, would get away with leveraging their power over somebody for a purely personal benefit.

And the president of the United States certainly should not either.

TAPPER: Have you heard from any House Republicans considering voting for impeachment?

SWALWELL: I have heard Republicans tell me they don't want to see this process rushed. They want to see us proceed carefully, and that they are still open-minded.

But I'm not going to write them off, Jake. I think that'd be a mistake.

TAPPER: Take a listen to President Trump talking about impeachment during a campaign rally in Pennsylvania.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Here are the facts on Shifty Schiff, dishonest guy, makes up my statements.


TRUMP: He said -- the president of Ukraine repeatedly declared that there was no pressure, but he didn't want to say that.

We said, say it. Say it, you crooked bastard. Say it.




TAPPER: Well, that's that's the competing message. How do you respond?

SWALWELL: It's time to get serious.

This is only the fourth time in the Judiciary Committee's history that a president has undergone an inquiry like this. And the president, by not participating, by acting the way that he did yesterday, and by not turning over documents or allowing witnesses, I think, shows a powerful consciousness of guilt.

We know what he did. It's really a matter of, what do we do now in Congress to hold him accountable?

TAPPER: Democratic Congressman Eric Swalwell of California, thanks so much for your time, sir. Appreciate it.

SWALWELL: My pleasure. Thanks, Jake.

TAPPER: New video of the shooters entering that kosher grocery in the deadly Jersey City rampage, this as we learn new information about a pipe bomb and anti-Semitic notes that the killers had.

That's next.



TAPPER: In our national lead, new shocking surveillance video showing the moment that two shooters opened fire into a Jewish deli in Jersey City.

You can see them getting out of the U-Haul with guns, and pedestrian start running away. A source telling CNN those shooters wrote an anti-Semitic screed and anti-police messages online and in that U- Haul.

But, as CNN'S Miguel Marquez reports, officials say they're still looking for a definitive motive in this deadly attack.


MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A raging gun battle in Jersey City just across the Hudson River from New York.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was a war zone. It was gun power. And I have never experienced nothing like that in my life.

MARQUEZ: This witness, along with many others, seen running hands in the air to safety.

Authorities now say the target, a Jewish market.

JAMES SHEA, DIRECTOR, JERSEY CITY DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY: It began with an attack on the civilians in the store, and then our officers who were posted a block away immediately responded to the sound of the gunfire, heroically placed themselves in the line of fire.

MARQUEZ: The two shooters, David Anderson and Francine Graham, in their stolen U-Haul, a pipe bomb, a note found with writing both anti- police and anti-Semitic, similar messages found in online posts by the pair.

Specific motive? Still a mystery.

GOV. PHIL MURPHY (D-NJ): One thing must be made perfectly clear. An attack on our Jewish community or, for that matter, on any community, that attack is an attack against all nine million of us who are proud to call ourselves New Jerseyans.

MARQUEZ: Authorities from New Jersey and New York now raising security at synagogues and other Jewish businesses and organizations. New York City ordering hundreds of extra police officers to patrol Jewish neighborhoods.

BILL DE BLASIO (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It was an act of terror, because it was premeditated, because it was violent, because it was directed at the Jewish community.


MARQUEZ: Now, a 15-year veteran of the Jersey City Police Department, Detective Joseph Seals, he was killed at a different location, a cemetery nearby.

And then here at the store, 24-year-old Moshe Deutsh was killed. We believe he was shopping. One of the co-owners, Minda Ferencz, she's 33 years old, she was killed here at the store, and 49-year-old Miguel Douglas. We believe he worked at the store. Interestingly, the two shooters in this, police say, are also suspects in an earlier murder of an Uber driver.

A lot for authorities to sort out -- Jake.