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Rep. Madeleine Dean (D-PA) is Interviewed About the Articles of Impeachment Against Trump; House Judiciary Committee to Begin Debating Articles of Impeachment against President Trump; President Trump Downplays Significance of Articles of Impeachment at Rally. Aired 8- 8:30a ET.

Aired December 11, 2019 - 08:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[08:00:00]

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: -- Wednesday, December 11th, 8:00 now in the east. And the House Judiciary Committee will begin debating the articles of impeachment against President Trump in prime time tonight. This could go late into the evening because all 41 members the committee will each have five minutes to make opening statements. And tomorrow morning, they will start considering amendments ahead of a vote to send the articles to the full House, a very big day starting.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: How is the president responding to the likelihood he will become just the third U.S. president in history to be impeached? He's lying, a lot. At a rally overnight, the president lied about the severity of the impeachment charges he faces and the contents of the Justice Department Inspector General report. Of note, this morning for the first time on this matter, we will hear from the inspector general himself. He testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Joining us now, CNN political analyst Maggie Haberman, she's the White House correspondent for "The New York Times," and CNN chief legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin. Tonight, the House Judiciary Committee takes up these two articles of impeachment, abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. Maggie, Jeffrey Toobin keeps talking about what an historic moment this is, that impeachment has only happened this far in the process three other times in our history. He'll become just the third president ever to be impeached. It's a big deal. So what's going on this morning inside the White House regarding this?

MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: In the White House they're trying to treat this like a small deal. And we saw some of that happen yesterday when the president spoke at his rally. We have heard it from his advisers on television. They are trying to say they thought there would be more articles of impeachment, and there was indeed a debate about whether there would be additional ones in part because it would let moderate Democrats in marginal districts say that they voted against something. That's not what ended up happening. There was a lengthy debate about this, and the White House is trying to use this to say, see, this is really nothing. This is minor.

Do not be fooled by the fact the president is minimizing this in terms of how he himself sees this. There's lots of talk from his advisers about how he thinks this is politically good for him, and he might see the political advantages in certain moments, but he is not happy about joining this elite club of what will be a small handful of presidents who have been impeached in the nation's history.

CAMEROTA: I've never heard President Trump minimize anything. I think that that is --

HABERMAN: He did last night.

CAMEROTA: No, I totally agree with you. I think my point is that it is newsworthy that it is such a departure for somebody who prides himself on everything being historically the biggest to -- as you know, he's belittling it as impeachment-light. So Jeffrey, do you think that --

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: I don't even know what that means. He's making the argument no one says it's a crime. But even his own witness pointed out during the -- when the law professors testified, everyone agrees that impeachable offenses do not have to be crimes. Abuse of power in many respects is more serious than many criminal offenses.

BERMAN: Let's play the sound that Maggie is talking about from last night, because I think it's important to hear what the president is trying to minimize. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: 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 said these two things. They're not even a crime. This is the lightest, weakest impeachment.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: In fact, Professor Toobin, the testimony of the other law professors we heard from last week was that in many ways, these impeachment charges are among the most serious we have ever seen. They get to the very fundamental nature of what the framers of the Constitution were trying to guard against.

TOOBIN: And that's right, Berman. The thing that's so important about the whole impeachment process is that it's designed to police, to stop actions that only the president can take. You and I can lie under oath, but you and I cannot corrupt American foreign policy. You and I cannot withhold $390 million in aid. That's something only the president can do. And if he does it with bad motives or in a way that is corrupt, that's worse than certain minor criminal offenses. That's the argument that goes back to the founding of the country.

CAMEROTA: And so Maggie, you're saying that we shouldn't be fooled, that he doesn't want this stain on his record, he doesn't want to be known as only the third president in history to be impeached? HABERMAN: He definitely doesn't. I'm sorry for misunderstanding what

you were saying before. You were right. It's extremely rare for him to treat something as small as opposed to large. He does not want this.

[08:05:00]

This is not -- I think he had a line with Congressmembers that this is not a good look on the resume, something to that effect. This is not a club he wants to be a part of. He is very wary of things, as we know, Alisyn, that he sees as delegitimizing his presidency, going back to why he didn't like the Russia probe in the first place, going back to why he wanted Jeff Sessions to say he did nothing wrong. If the intel community said there was Russian interference, then that meant that he didn't achieve it on his own is part of what he would say to aides.

And so you are seeing some extension of that now, which is if he is impeached, it is an effort to delegitimize him. He's genuinely upset about it. His advisers are more tactically trying to suggest this is a small deal, this is not much to pay attention. But in reality, we don't know what the trial in the Senate is going to look like. We don't know how big a deal this is going to play out.

BERMAN: And so Jeffrey, what are you looking for tonight, tomorrow, and over the next few days? "Politico" this morning called it the eight fateful days in Washington where we're going to see a president in all likelihood impeached. But what should we be looking for?

TOOBIN: I think we've heard these arguments a lot, those of us who have been paying attention. But I want to hear people go to a somewhat higher level than they've been before. I mentioned earlier, Barbara Jordan, the famous congresswoman from Texas, who we're still playing her speech at the impeachment, congressional -- the Judiciary Committee in 1974. Who can rise to that level of eloquence to talk about why this matters. That to me -- and on both sides, I'd like to see that rather than a lot of the pettiness we've seen before.

CAMEROTA: Maggie, there's so much happening in Washington where you are today, not just all of this, these historic moments with impeachment, but the inspector general is going to be testifying to Congress after this long-awaited report finally came out and said unequivocally that the Trump campaign was not spied on. But that's not how Attorney General Bill Barr continues to frame it.

And it is so interesting to understand that the attorney general, our top law enforcement officer, doesn't, I guess, believe in using the tools of surveillance and informants? This is the bread and butter of the FBI. This is how they crack their investigations and crime. And to hear him continue to frame it this way, the way the president has.

HABERMAN: It's interesting, Alisyn. Look. The I.G.'s report does not neatly confirm anybody's description of what took place in that investigation. It does not confirm what the president said about the idea that there was some deep state cabal trying to go after him. It also doesn't confirm the insistence that this was a totally clean process. There were a number of mistakes made.

The question is whether you think those mistakes were made intentionally or sloppiness or because the FBI has gotten comfortable because the FISA process under which this warrant of Carter Page was obtained is not really accountable to anybody because it's a secret process. That's a different issue than what you have heard the attorney general say, which is really coming out as if he is the president's lawyer, not as if he is the top law enforcement official in the country, and he has described this not only just as a bogus investigation, which is certainly what the president's lawyer said over time, but he has gone after the press for how it was covered. And that was really striking as well just in terms of getting outside of his lane.

BERMAN: I think that's --

TOOBIN: Can I add one point about that? Speaking of getting your facts straight, I didn't have my facts straight earlier today when I said there had been no use of consensual monitoring, wiring people up in the course of the FBI investigation. There was a limited amount of that. And I got to be right as well as anyone.

BERMAN: The issue is whether it's spying or investigating Christopher Wray.

TOOBIN: Spying, right. Fair enough, but I said something that was wrong, and wrong is wrong.

TOOBIN: Absolutely. Christopher Wray, the FBI director, does not call it spying.

To Maggie's point, what William Barr is doing, to hear him talk about what is a more dire threat to the United States, and he suggested that the Obama administration's investigation, which wasn't -- it was the FBI investigation into the president of the United States -- was a bigger threat than the Russian attack on the 2016 election, which is what he seemed to be saying there, Jeffrey, that was striking.

TOOBIN: The way the attorney general has approached this subject is just nothing short of astonishing. It's as if the indictments -- there are pending indictments against the Internet research agency, this group in St. Petersburg that's run by one of Putin's closest friends, that ran a social media campaign on behalf of Donald Trump. The hacking from Russian intelligence, the GRU that stole the Democratic National Committee emails to embarrass Hillary Clinton, this happened. These are pending indictments from the Department of Justice. And the idea that the attorney general is reading that out of history and pretending he can't tell if Ukraine did something comparable, it's just -- that is counterfactual.

CAMEROTA: Yes, there's a lot of striking things that have been said in the past few days, and might again tonight. Jeffrey Toobin, Maggie Haberman, thank you both very much for the reporting and the analysis.

So Democrats begin debating the proposed articles of impeachment against President Trump in just hours. And we will ask a house democrat what she plans to say and how this is going to go, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CAMEROTA: In just hours, members of the House Judiciary Committee will begin opening statements as they begin debate on the two articles of impeachment against President Trump.

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Joining us now, Democratic Congressman Madeleine Dean. She is a member of that committee.

Good morning, Congresswoman. Thanks for being here.

I know it's a very --

REP. MADELEINE DEAN (D-PA): Good morning, Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: -- busy day.

And already, pundits are predicting that this primetime process that will play out today is going to be a circus given that every member of the Judiciary will be able to say their piece.

How do you predict it going?

DEAN: I certainly hope not. I'm still working on my remarks, but I hope to speak from my heart and my oath about our constitutional generational duty.

We have a duty to point out, call out the wrongdoing, uncategorical wrongdoing of this president. And so, I hope members will take their remarks very, very seriously because what we say in large measure will define who we are as Congress people and as American citizens.

CAMEROTA: So, is that the gist of -- I know you're working on your remarks, but is that the gist of your message that you have a duty to do this?

DEAN: I do think part of my message is that generational duty. I'm very mindful. I have new grandchildren. I have three grandchildren now, two just in the last two months.

I'm very mindful that we're here for just a short period of time but must be caretakers and stewards of this place and of our oath and of our Constitution. And in the face of the extraordinary wrongdoing of this president, seeking for personal and political gain, interference in our elections, risking our national security, nothing could be more grave.

And so, I see these articles as very well-written and I have an obligation to uphold my oath and hold this president accountable.

CAMEROTA: Of course, there are also practical concerns and we heard the president. He was in your home state of Pennsylvania last night at a rally.

DEAN: Yes.

CAMEROTA: And he talked about what I think is probably a concern for many Democrats. We have the reporting that it is a concern for people in swing states. So, listen to what he warned last night.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Any Democrat that votes for this sham will be voting to sacrifice their House majority, their dignity and their career.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CAMEROTA: So, what are Democrats privately telling you about their fears about voting for this?

DEAN: I heard very little talk of the political, very honestly. There is a certain gravity of this moment and of this week, and so what I have been just buoyed up by is every one of my colleagues talking about our obligation here.

We're not talking about the next election for ourselves. We're talking about our country. We're talking about making sure we protect the next election, that there isn't foreign interference, that the president or a foreign leader doesn't get to put his or her hand on the scales.

I'm not hearing political chatter, to be very honest. I was thinking about that last night. It's amazing how we're all stirred by the power of this Constitution, and we must uphold it. It's a very precious thing and it's in our hands right now.

CAMEROTA: And so, given that, how many Democrats do you think will ultimately not vote for these two articles of impeachment?

DEAN: I haven't done that count. I hope everyone is able to vote for these two articles of impeachment. They're very well-crafted and they couldn't be more serious -- abuse of power, using his office for personal political gain.

And a categorical obstruction of a co-equal branch of government, it is not up to the president to determine whether our impeachment investigation fits his needs. We're a co-equal branch. We have the sole power of this last resort remedy that the framers made sure was part of our Constitution. It is not up to the administration. It is not up to the president's personal or political lawyers.

CAMEROTA: I don't suppose in these divided times you ever privately speak to Republicans about their feelings, do you?

DEAN: Oh, I do, sure. I want to have those conversations. I want to try to build relationships and bridges. I've had the great opportunity to co-sponsor legislation signed by the president. So, I do talk to my Republican colleagues in order to build consensus. And what I say is what I feel personally that it's up to them what

they do. But what I feel personally is I have an obligation. I swore on January 3rd on a Bible that was my family bible that I would uphold the Constitution of the United States.

I just impress that upon my Republican colleagues. I hope and pray that they feel that same gravity, that we have to protect our Constitution.

As Professor Gerhardt said, if these offenses are not impeachable, I don't know what is.

CAMEROTA: Let's talk about legislation and USMCA. Do you -- tell us what you know about the timing of this. Lots of people were struck by the fact that within one hour, Nancy Pelosi announced these two articles of impeachment and then announced this bipartisan legislation which many said gave Donald -- President Trump a legislative win.

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DEAN: What I hope it is is a win for the American public. And what it demonstrates is the dexterity of this Congress and the extraordinary leadership of Nancy Pelosi to be able to tackle this very grave issue of impeachment of a president at the very same time putting together a sound trade deal. We've been talking about this and being briefed on it for months and months. I'm very proud of the committee chairs, as well as the negotiators on this.

This is a win for the American people, for our trade in the Americas, North America. So I'm very, very proud of us. It shows that we're doing exactly what we were sent here to do. We are -- we have to do it all. We have to investigate, we have to legislate, we have to litigate. We're doing this for the American public.

So for those who worry that, oh, we're all hyper-focused on impeachment, no, we have to do both. We have to make sure that we push forward legislation and trade agreements that work for the American people.

We've passed more than 400 bills here. Most of them sitting dead on the Senate's side. We're going to keep working for the American people.

CAMEROTA: But in terms of the timing, what are you hearing? Is the plan to next week have a full vote on impeachment and vote after that on USMCA?

DEAN: I haven't heard the details of the calendar. I know that's still in discussions. But I think that would be totally appropriate. It shows that we're upholding our constitutional obligations and that we're also working for the American people.

Again, this isn't something that snapped together. USMCA is not something that snapped together in the night. And it shows really the confidence of our caucus and the negotiating power of our caucus and there's no harm working with the president for the good of the American people.

CAMEROTA: All right. Congresswoman Madeleine Dean, thank you very much for joining us on this very busy and historic day.

DEAN: Thanks for having me.

CAMEROTA: John?

BERMAN: Senator Elizabeth Warren and Mayor Pete Buttigieg feuding on the campaign trail. Big developments in the 2020 race. Two new national polls, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[08:26:46]

BERMAN: Some big movement or non-movement as the case may be in two new national polls.

CAMEROTA: Make a decision. Movement or not movement?

BERMAN: It's both -- it's both really interesting. That's the thing.

We're talking about the race for president which is coming up very soon. Iowa is like 5 1/2 weeks away. What do the numbers tell us?

Harry Enten here with the forecast -- sir.

HARRY ENTEN, CNN POLITICS SENIOR WRITER AND ANALYST: I was just waiting for my intro so I could shake my head and acknowledge the audience. How are you? How are you?

CAMEROTA: Thank you.

ENTEN: Well, let's take a look. We had two new national polls here. Top choices for Democratic nominee. It's a story we often see.

Joe Biden, 26 percent. Bernie Sanders 21 percent. Warren in third, 17 percent.

Quinnipiac, sort of similar story here again. The order the same -- Biden 29, Sanders 17, Warren 15, Buttigieg down at 9.

CAMEROTA: That's such an interesting -- those are interesting numbers because the narrative is that Buttigieg is on the rise and -- but if you look at the numbers, it's just not telling that story.

ENTEN: Yes, it's exactly right. So, take a look at this. This is Harry's average of the big qualifying polls, December, November, October. And what do we see here, we see Biden fairly steady, right, 28 October, 25 November, 28 December.

Sanders may be up a few points in September but that's statistical noise. Warren is dropping, 22 October, 17 November, 16 December.

And Buttigieg who is supposedly rising, not really. Seven percent in October, 12 percent in November back down to 9 percent in December. He's basically hovering right around 9 percent, 10 percent.

BERMAN: People thought there may be a rise there. That hasn't happened, not nationally.

Elizabeth Warren and Pete Buttigieg, there's a thing now. They're going after each other.

ENTEN: Yes, they're going after each other hard. I don't know if you've been following that news.

But I do wonder whether that's the wisest decision. Why is that? Take a look.

This is the second choices for the Democratic nominee. Among Buttigieg supporters, who is their number one second choice? It's Biden at 30 percent. Warren is the second choice at 25 percent of them but that leaves a vast number whose second choice for Buttigieg supporters is not Warren.

So, going after, in fact, Warren for Buttigieg could lead to Biden rising. And look at this, among Warren supporters, who is their second choice? Number one actually Sanders at 31 percent. Buttigieg is the second choice of Warren supporters.

So, again, going after someone in a multicandidate field could lead to someone else --

BERMAN: It's always dangerous. You can hurt the wrong person.

ENTEN: That's exactly right. In this case, it could help Biden, it could help Sanders, and those are the ones leading in the national polls.

CAMEROTA: OK. Show us how voters are feeling depending on how old they are.

ENTEN: Yes. I just love this from the Quinnipiac University poll because we break it down by 18 to 34, 35 to 49, 50 to 64, 65-plus. I am part of that group. I also want to say that.

So, here we go, Bernie Sanders, look at him, 18 to 34, 52 percent. My goodness gracious. Then you drop to 35 percent to 49 percent down to 13 percent. All the way to 65-plus, only 2 percent.

Biden, the other direction -- 11, 20, 35, 47. Huge age gap. Huge!

BERMAN: Two percent among 65 plus. That's stunning.

ENTEN: That is absolutely stunning.

CAMEROTA: For Sanders.

ENTEN: If you know young people, they love Bernie Sanders. You know a little on the older side, they do not like him so much.

CAMEROTA: OK. How is Bloomberg doing? ENTEN: Yes, you know what? Top choice for nominee in the Quinnipiac

University poll, 3 percent in November, 5 percent December. He gained two points after declaring --

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