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House Panel to Begin Debating Articles of Impeachment Tonight; Trump Lies about Impeachment at Rally. Aired 6-6:30a ET
Aired December 11, 2019 - 06:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: The House Judiciary Committee will begin formal discussions on impeachment tonight.
REP. JERRY NADLER (D-NY): Two articles of impeachment, charging Donald Trump with committing high crimes and misdemeanors.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You saw their so- called articles of impeachment? The people are saying they're not even a crime.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Any president who is willing to jeopardize the national security of the American people must be held accountable.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: From day one, they have been in search of a crime. President Trump hasn't committed a crime.
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): Why don't you just wait amounts to this: why don't you just let him cheat in one more election?
ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is NEW DAY. It is Wednesday, December 11, 6 a.m. here in New York.
The House Judiciary Committee will begin debating today the articles of impeachment the Democrats announced against President Trump. That debate will take place in prime time tonight. And if you plan to watch it, you are likely to blow right through your bedtime, because the Judiciary Committee's 41 members will each have five minutes to make opening statements.
Tomorrow morning, they will start considering amendments. And that's ahead of a vote to send the full -- the articles to the full House. So expect the process to be long, drawn-out, and contentious. Each member can offer up any amendment they choose, so Republicans could drag this out. BERMAN: And how is President Trump responding to the likelihood that
he will become just the third U.S. president in history to be impeached? He's lying. A lot.
At a rally overnight that was geographically in Pennsylvania but metaphorically in the Twilight Zone, the president lied about the severity of impeachment charges he faces and the contents of the Justice Department inspector general report. That report found no evidence that the FBI spied on the Trump campaign at all, but the president lied and said they did.
Attorney General Bill Barr also seems to be trying to discredit the I.G.'s finding. And this morning, for the first time on this matter, we will hear from the inspector general himself when he testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
A lot to go over, including the beginning of these historic days in the impeachment process. CNN's Suzanne Malveaux live on Capitol Hill -- Suzanne.
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, John.
Well, it's impeachment day No. 79. The House Democrats making that historic step forward yesterday for articles of impeachment just weeks away from going, potentially, to a Senate trial.
And as you had mentioned just behind me here, the Senate Judiciary Committee is going to be meeting within hours to address the Justice Department inspector general report about the FBI's misbehavior, likely to spark more fireworks and controversy around the impeachment process.
MALVEAUX (voice-over): The House Judiciary Committee will begin formal discussions on the articles of impeachment tonight, just one day after making this historic announcement.
NADLER: The House Committee on the Judiciary is introducing two articles of impeachment, charging the president of the United States, Donald J. Trump, with committing high crimes and misdemeanors.
MALVEAUX: In their first article, House Democrats charging President Trump with abuse of power, saying that he solicited the interference of a foreign government, Ukraine, to publicly announce investigations that would benefit his re-election.
NADLER: It is an impeachable offense.
MALVEAUX: The second article, obstruction of Congress, where they alleged the president directed the unprecedented, categorical, and indiscriminate defiance of subpoenas of top White House officials.
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): I wish the president's actions did not make it necessary. If we did not hold him accountable, he would continue to undermine our election. MALVEAUX: The committee will officially start considering articles to
the amendments tomorrow morning, setting the stage for a possible floor vote by the full House next week. President Trump lashing out against Democrats, downplaying the historic nature of impeachment.
TRUMP: All of these horrible things, remember bribery and this and that. Where are they? They sent these two things; they're not even a crime. This is the lightest, weakest impeachment.
MALVEAUX: But Democrats insisting they are acting on their oath.
SCHIFF: The argument, why don't you just wait, amounts to this. Why don't you just let him cheat in one more election? Why not let him cheat just one more time?
MALVEAUX: Meantime, a divide widening between Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Trump over the likely Senate trial, sources tell CNN. McConnell hoping to keep impeachment short and simple.
But the president wants a political spectacle, in an effort to hurt Democrats' chances at the ballot box in November, two people familiar with Trump's thinking say.
In a trial, President Trump wants to call Hunter Biden, House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff, and the whistle-blower, the sources report.
Trump also lied at last night's rally, once again insisting his campaign was spied on by the FBI, which was debunked by the Justice Department's I.G. report earlier this week.
MALVEAUX: So look to tonight as well as into Thursday, the House Judiciary Committee's process. The debate begins. Each one of those 41 members will be able to introduce amendments to the articles of impeachment, as well as take up to five minutes to talk about each of those amendments.
This could play out over the course of 24 hours or so before it's voted out of committee and then clearing the way for the full floor vote next week, John.
BERMAN: Yes. Maybe even by Tuesday or Wednesday. The full House will likely vote to impeach the president of the United States. That is no small thing at all. Suzanne Malveaux, thank you very much.
So this morning you will not believe how the president is responding to all this, because probably you shouldn't believe it. That's next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: The inspector general's shocking report proved that the Obama FBI obtained secret warrants to spy on my campaign, based on a phony foreign dossier of debunked smears, paid for by crooked Hillary Clinton and the DNC. Folks, they spied on our campaign, OK?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: All right. President Trump does not seem to have any idea what the long-awaited inspector general report says about the origins of the Russia investigation.
Here's what it actually says. Quote, "We found no evidence that the FBI placed any confidential human sources or undercover employees within the Trump campaign or tasked any confidential human sources or undercover employees to report on the Trump campaign," end quote.
Joining us now, CNN senior global affairs analyst Bianna Golodryga and CNN politics reporter and editor-at-large, Chris Cillizza.
We know, Bianna, that the president's advisers keep information from him and carefully give him -- spoon-feed him what they think he wants to hear.
We also know from Corey Lewandowski being on our program after he was railing about the Mueller report and admitted on our show he didn't read it. So the president doesn't know what's in the long-awaited I.G. report. And if he did, he would know that it disproves and debunks everything that he has claimed about the so-called spying over the past year.
BERMAN: I like this theory. So your theory is that it's ignorance. That no one told him. That he's sort of in the dark about what it actually -- they're keeping it from him?
CAMEROTA: Yes, and by the way, we also know he doesn't read. He prefers to watch TV. And so the people that he watches on TV also aren't mentioning it.
BERMAN: All right.
BIANNA GOLODRYGA, CNN SENIOR GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: We could go on and on for hours about this. And there clearly is a long history of the president not believing what's being presented to him as fact. The deputy DNI, former deputy DNI Sue Gordon, recently said that whenever they presented him with their findings, he would say, I'm not sure I believe that, or I have a different take. The president has always been this way. The problem is he's the president. He's the most powerful man in the world.
And it's very similar. It reminded me of when Sergey Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister, was in Washington yesterday and was asked, point blank, Did you read the Mueller report? Look at all the Russians who were indicted. The reasons we have sanctions against you are because there's irrefutable proof that you interfered in our elections.
He says, no, there's not. And so they're of like minds in response to things that they disagree with. And this is something we've seen from the president consistently.
What really is alarming are the number of people who will believe him, obviously, and the fact that those around him, even though they may cherry-pick or tell him what he wants to hear, aren't as loud as speaking out and saying, what you're saying is not true. And now we're seeing what years and years of this has created.
CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS WRITER AND EDITOR AT LARGE: That's right. I mean, this is unfortunately, for the country, this is not new.
I think the most important thing Bianna says is Donald Trump has been Donald Trump. He's a fantasist. He's a fabulist. He lives in a world of his own creation.
Now, whether it's out of ignorance in terms of he just doesn't acquaint himself with facts. I think it's more -- I don't think it's super strategic. I just think he -- people will be like, this is a piece of paper. And he'll be like, I disagree. And he goes with his option.
But he's done this for a very long time. His life out of politics was this. I won that deal. Even though demonstrably he lost it. What's different, and Bianna hit on it. Well, he's president now. When you're a private citizen, you can be like, that's Donald. And he does that stuff. Like, the deal is the deal, right? He can say whatever he wants about it.
But when he's president, he has vast influence over how people think and, by the way, how we're perceived in the world.
CAMEROTA: And he's also being impeached because of it.
BERMAN: I have to say -- I have to say. I think innocence -- sorry. I think ignorance provides a vail of innocence here which he doesn't deserve.
CILLIZZA: No, it doesn't. No.
BERMAN: I don't think that he's ignorant at all to the fact that he's getting the facts wrong. I think he doesn't care that he's getting the facts wrong. Or, or, or, I think that he's intentionally getting the facts wrong. In some ways, it's the opposite of ignorance.
Because, look, let's just play this. You were talking about impeachment. He's being impeached now. This is how he describes two articles of impeachment that the House announced yesterday on the most fundamental and serious issues that could possibly exist to the framers of the Constitution. Correct? We all agree.
BERMAN: The foreign influence was the No. 1 thing.
GOLODRYGA: Of course.
CILLIZZA: It's the reason that it was created.
BERMAN: Let's listen to how the president described impeachment last night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Now that the Russia witch hunt is dead, a big, fat, disgusting fraud, the congressional Democrats are pushing the impeachment witch hunt having to do with Ukraine.
But that's already failing. You saw their so-called articles of impeachment today. People are saying they're not even a crime. What happened? All of these horrible things. Remember? Bribery and this and that. Where are they? They send these two things, they're not even a crime. This is the lightest, weakest impeachment.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: It is not. It is, again, among the most serious things the framers of the Constitution could have ever imagined. Let me just read you what article one is here: "President Trump abused the powers of the presidency by ignoring and injuring national security and other vital national interests to obtain an improper personal political benefit. He has also betrayed the nation by abusing his high office to enlist a foreign power in corrupting democratic elections."
Now, you can vote against that or say he didn't do it. I suppose that's your prerogative, but you can't say that that's a light or a weak charge.
CILLIZZA: So I would call it just to put a -- I would call it willful ignorance. In that he doesn't read things that he knows might not support him. And this is a case of that.
It's not a light charge. This is literally why the impeachment clause was put into -- impeachment language was put into the Constitution. Because they were worried about undue foreign influence on elections. Now, they didn't foresee Russia, but this is the reason it was done.
What depresses me more than anything -- Bianna mentioned this. Play that clip. Trump is going to say what Trump says. That's who he is. The people behind him clapping and cheering it is terrifying. Because what he is saying is not true. Facts are not partisan. It is not true.
It doesn't matter. We could literally run me and you guys saying, "This is not true" all day long, and it wouldn't change their mind. But that to me is -- we know who he is. It's the amount of people who have bought into that when it is demonstrably false what he is saying that I find frightening.
GOLODRYGA: Republicans never uttered the word "Ukraine" when they talked about election interference until this president started discussing it now. Now there's a question. Well, yes, it's not a binary choice. We know that the majority of the work was done by the Russians, but there were Ukrainians involved, too. We never heard that narrative prior to this president suggesting that, as well or stating that, as well.
And you see the repeated pattern. Everything he says is not refuted by those who support him and can do something to end it. And thus, here we are now, three years into his administration. He can say whatever he wants, despite the facts.
BERMAN: He always tells us how smart he is. I think he knows what he's doing. I don't -- I'm not willing to say it's ignorance.
CAMEROTA: I think that -- I'm with Chris. That I think that he has, over the years, created the reality that he wants. And the problem is, is that he is the main information source --
GOLODRYGA: And he's gotten away with it.
CAMEROTA: -- for the people who you see behind him -- him cheering. He's an information source, and he's not fact-based, as we know.
BERMAN: All right. Stand by. He's about to be impeached on top of all of this. Right?
CAMEROTA: Yes, it doesn't matter if he believes it.
BERMAN: The coda here is he's about to be impeached. And starting tonight, the House Judiciary Committee, they will debate these actual charges against him. The process is on.
CAMEROTA: Also coming up on NEW DAY, we'll bring you a new interview with the mother of two honeymooners who were very badly injured in the New Zealand volcanic eruption and the man that helped them survive.
BERMAN: So this morning "Politico" is calling it the beginning of eight fateful days in Washington. The impeachment process is on, officially on, where tonight the House Judiciary Committee will begin debating the two articles of impeachment, the official charges against the president of the United States for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.
Bianna Golodryga and Chris Cillizza back with us. And this is in prime time tonight.
CAMEROTA: Which is unusual.
BERMAN: It is. CAMEROTA: We normally watch all day. The idea that this is happening in prime time sets it up to be even more dramatic.
BERMAN: Yes. And none of these congressmen like the spotlight or like the cameras.
CAMEROTA: Or take advantage of that.
BERMAN: So they'll have five-minute opening statements tonight. Tonight is a chance for them to speak unfettered. Tomorrow is an "S"- show. Tomorrow, they could offer as many amendments as they want and try to drag it out as long as they can.
What do you think we're going to see starting tonight?
GOLODRYGA: Well, the "S"-show may start tonight, as well, given what we've seen in the past. Look, I think you're going to see a lot of Republicans continue what they have been saying throughout this period. And that is that there are no grounds for impeachment. This is just Democrats worried that the president's going to be re-elected.
On the flip side, I think you're going to -- and then you'll have Republicans say that, instead of legislating, all that they're doing is stalling and trying to find wrong and error and impeaching the president.
And on the flip side, I think you're going to have Democrats really cite a lot of the fact witnesses and the lawyers, the constitutional law experts who have testified as to what they have seen transpire. And then, in their views, what the president did was impeachable.
CILLIZZA: You know when standup comedians, you're opening for someone famous, and they say, like, give us your best five minutes. You know, give us the five minutes you've really got good. That's what you're going to see. I mean, this is going to be -- this will be performance art tonight, even more so than what you've seen in the past.
And when you think about it, you talk about Judiciary. One of the things that I think people don't realize enough of is Judiciary is literally filled with the most show-horsey of -- of these folks. People who are performers at one level or another.
There is a reason that Jim Jordan, who was already on Judiciary, was added to Intelligence just for --
CILLIZZA: -- the public impeachment. Because they understand, at some level, it's performance, and they're worried -- we're worried about Devin Nunes and whether he could do it.
So you will see Jim Jordan and John Ratcliffe and, dare I say, find out when Matt Gaetz is speaking if you like political theater. Because he -- you will see all of them do -- will it change anything? No, absolutely not. And there's really nothing to change.
I know they'll try to amend it tomorrow -- amend it, but again, Democrats have a majority. If you watched any of the hearings, you saw they would request a roll call vote on whether or not they should take a break. They'd go through it, and it would be, you know, 24-18 or 17, whatever it is.
But tonight is the performance piece of it. Tomorrow is a little bit more of the nitty-gritty before the vote.
GOLODRYGA: And it's almost comical. I wonder if we're going to see a repeat tonight of how both sides have clearly different takes on where this stands on the issue of impeachment. Always invoke the Founding Fathers. Right?
And so the Republicans will say that the Founding Fathers would be rolling in their graves, knowing that this is what you're constituting as impeachment. And then you have the Democrats saying this is exactly what the Founding Fathers were talking about. So I'm curious just to see if that plays out again tonight.
CILLIZZA: The thing to watch, you should watch this. But the real thing to watch, I think, is you've seen some moderate Democrats try a last-minute thing on censure. Well, can we not impeach him and censure him? But that's not going anywhere.
But we know, too, Collin Peterson of Minnesota, Jeff Van Drew of New Jersey both voted against the formalizing of the impeachment inquiry. You would assume both would vote against it on the floor.
How many more are there? Remember, there are 31 Democrats who hold districts that Donald Trump won in 2016. Watch them.
GOLODRYGA: I think Pelosi knows who they are.
CILLIZZA: Yes, my guess is she has a list.
CAMEROTA: That's what you're saying.
CILLIZZA: Talking about having a list and checking it twice.
BERMAN: You said tonight, tomorrow will be performance art. That can include mime. Just a suggestion.
CILLIZZA: Oh, yes.
BERMAN: It could include mime.
CILLIZZA: Hey, mime is funny.
CAMEROTA: Yes. I mean, that would be interesting. It wouldn't be loud.
BERMAN: That's what I'm saying.
CAMEROTA: But it would be interesting. Yes. BERMAN: Might be a nice change of pace.
CAMEROTA: Thank you both very much.
OK. Meanwhile, a gun battle leaves four innocent people dead at a Jewish grocery store in New Jersey. This was a horrible scene that played out on the streets yesterday. Was it a targeted attack? We'll tell you what we know in a live report, next.