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Judiciary Committee About to Battle Over Impeachment Articles; Senate Shifting Away from Witnesses in Impeachment Trial; Trump Adviser: Coverage of Impeachment "Bugs Him"; Rep. David Cicilline (D) Rhode Island is Interviewed About Impeachment; Inspector General Stands by His Russia Probe Report Despite Doubts Expressed by A.G. Barr; Sen. Mazie Hirono (D) Hawaii is Interviewed About Inspector General; Dems Ask Inspector General About Possible FBI Leaks to Giuliani to Damage Clinton Campaign; New Surveillance Video of Deadly Attack and Shootout at New Jersey Jewish Supermarket; FAA Predicted More 737 Max Crashes But Didn't Ground Plane. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired December 11, 2019 - 17:00   ET

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


[17:00:00]

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Our coverage on CNN continues right now.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: I'm Wolf Blitzer in "The Situation Room." We're following breaking news. Look at this slide pictures coming in of the U.S. Capitol on yet another historic day. The House Judiciary Committee beginning the debate process soon on two articles of impeachment against President Trump. Lawmakers will have the chance to edit and amend the articles in the combative two-day marathon session as Democrats move quickly toward a vote by the full House of Representatives.

Also breaking, Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz defending his investigation of the Russia probe to U.S. senators. He says he found no -- he says he did find major errors but no bias by the FBI.

Let's first go straight to Capitol Hill. Our Senior Congressional Correspondent Manu Raju is there for us. So Manu, the Democrats push for impeachment is about to enter a key new phase just hours from now. Tell our viewers what you're learning.

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. The House Judiciary Committee going to open up formal proceedings to take up those articles of impeachment. The two that were unveiled yesterday, one about abuse of power, the other about obstruction of Congress. All dealing with the President's handling with the relations with Ukraine and the allegations that he violated his oath of office by pressuring that country to open up investigations into his political rivals while leveraging his office in order for them to do just that.

Now in a matter of just hours here we're going to hear from the House Judiciary Committee members. Each member will give opening statements, delivering their case about why the President should or should not be impeached. Republicans are expected to push back, raise concerns that none of their witnesses have been called so expect to see a lot of angry back and forth between Republicans and Democrats. And tomorrow, the actual votes on those articles of impeachment before the House Judiciary Committee, a day-long session with amendments and efforts by Republicans to undercut those articles. That is expected to happen through the day tomorrow.

Now at the same time, a number of Democrats and Republicans are starting to weigh how they will vote. Democrats in particular from swing districts are weighing what they will do when this comes to the House floor next week. Particularly some we've been hearing pressure from both sides, urging from some, in swing districts saying that they should support the President and others say they should impeach the President and this is how they are coming down.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RAJU: Are you hearing a lot from your constituents back home?

REP. ELISSA SLOTKIN, (D) MICHIGAN: 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. It's people who are strongly against and people who are strongly for. And I assume that will persist.

RAJU: Do you believe you're going to get, you know, blowback back home in your district for this?

REP. GIL CISNEROS, (D) CALIFORNIA: There may be some blowback. I know we have people that are supporting impeachment and we have people that said, you know, say we need to move on and get past this. But as I've always said, for me this is about national security. This is about the President engaging a foreign government to get involved in our election and we can't allow that to happen.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RAJU: So the big question is how much defections will there be. Already we do expect two Democrats to vote against those two articles of impeachment who have actually previously expressed their opposition to moving forward on an impeachment inquiry. But the question will there be any others including any of those freshmen Democrats? And will any Republicans break ranks?

At moment we're not expecting any other than the former Republican turned Independent Justin Amash who had signaled he would support impeaching this President. And ultimately, Wolf, we expect on the floor there'll be two separate votes on those articles of impeachment on each count. So members will get a chance to assess on each count how they will come down. But the expectation is that there will be enough votes, a majority of the House, voting to impeach the President next week.

BLITZER: And if that happens there'll be a trial, Manu, in the Senate. What are you hearing about Senate Republicans? First of all, do they still plan on calling witnesses during the trial?

RAJU: Well, it's still an open question about how exactly the trial will play out but a number of Republicans are starting to get push back on the idea of bringing any witnesses whatsoever because they believe it will just drag out the proceedings, it will consume the Senate, it will lead to a fight that they are eager to avoid. Ultimately it requires 51 senators to vote to bring forward witnesses. And the question is will they reach an agreement to do just that or will it turn into a side show, a circus of some fear. So some Republicans are pushing.

A number of Republicans are pushing to just simply move after the opening arguments begin in that trial in January to move quickly to a final vote on whether to quit or convict the President. And that would require to move to that final vote, a simple majority. And then ultimately it would require two-thirds majority in the Senate, 67 senators to remove the President from office. And that simply -- those votes simply are not there right now to do just that.

[17:05:03]

So Republicans are eager to move on but the President himself has called for a number of witnesses, including the whistleblower, including Hunter Biden to come and testify. That's something the Republicans just don't want at this moment. So ultimately, Wolf, that still has to get hashed out, those negotiations still bound to take place. But Republicans are hoping for a quick trial when the Senate takes it up in January, Wolf.

BLITZER: As you know, Manu, there are 53 Republicans in the Senate and 47 Democrats, two Independents who side clearly with the Democrats, 53-47. But let's say a couple of Republicans or a few Republicans decide they want to bolt from the Republican majority and it is a 50-50 tie, does the president of the Senate, Mike Pence, the Vice President of the United States, is he going to be able to break that tie and get to 51?

RAJU: Well, Wolf, it's an interesting question because we don't know the answer to that yet. It's not something that has been ruled on by the Senate parliamentary at least officially. So if that were to happen, that is going to be an open question about whether or not Mike Pence, the Vice President, could, in fact, break the tie, as he's able to do on virtually every Senate vote given his constitutional role as president of the Senate. Will he be able to vote to essentially dismiss the charges against the President? That is still uncertain.

And if we do get to that point, that will be some drama on the floor of the Senate to determine whether or not he could actually do just that. And if he can't, then they'll have to continue the trial and then eventually move forward to that final vote that would require 67 voter -- senators to vote to convict the President on these two charges. Wolf.

BLITZER: And if he is the decisive tie-breaker, I wonder if he has to sit through the sessions, if he has to be visibly -- he has to be physically present in order to cast that decisive vote if necessary. We'll soon find out as they come closer and closer to full trial in the U.S. Senate. Manu, thank you very, very much. We'll get back to you. I want to go to our Chief White House Correspondent Jim Acosta.

Jim, what are you learning about the President's state of mind right now as the walls of impeachment in the House appear to be closing in?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Right, Wolf. We should mention that we just heard from President Trump at a Hanukkah celebration over here at the White House. Mr. Trump did not comment on the impeachment inquiry. We should note he has been busy in his social media bunker posting more 70 tweets and re-tweets over the last 24 hours. Many of those on impeachment, but some on the Justice Department Inspector General's hearing from earlier today.

But as for a state of mind, we're hearing President Trump is growing increasingly aggravated over the likelihood that he will be impeached. A Trump campaign adviser I spoke with earlier today told me simply that the coverage bugs him. Meanwhile a separate Trump adviser said the President is preparing in his mind for some time that this moment would arrive, suspecting for the better part of the last year that Democrats would try to impeach him after taking control of the House last year. This adviser said Mr. Trump is somewhat taken aback.

We should note that it's the Ukraine scandal that is leading to this moment, leading to his impeachment in the House. So we could put this up on screen, this adviser said, and we want to share this, "Frankly, I think he's a little surprised," talking about the President here, that "it's the Ukraine thing that's done it." Not to mention that there are other things obviously that the President has been up against since he's come into office but he's expressing surprise that it's Ukraine that has led to this moment.

We are also hearing Mr. Trump is irked by the fact that he would be joining the list of not so envious presidents have who have been impeached if this actually results of him being impeached in the House.

But we should note, still aides and advisers say the President believes he is winning this debate on impeachment at least in the public -- court of public opinion. He is satisfied that Republicans at this point aren't showing many signs that they will defect in the either the Senate or the House. Administration officials are pointing to recent polling that shows that support for impeachment has either held study or begun to slide against removing the President from office.

And at his rally last night he indicated some -- appeared to crow over the fact that he's only facing two articles of impeachment. He's dubbing this process as we heard last night, "impeachment light" adding he sees this inquiry as the weakest impeachment, Wolf, as you know in the history books. It doesn't go down as impeachment light. It goes down as impeachment. Wolf.

BLITZER: Certainly does. All right, Jim Acosta, thank you very much.

Let's get some more on all of this. Joining us now Democratic Congressman David Cicilline of Rhode Island, a member of the Judiciary Committee, which will start debating the impeachment articles later tonight.

Congressman, you and your colleagues, you're about to take up these articles, these two the articles of impeachment and you'll starting with opening statements at 7:00 p.m. Eastern. What can we expect to see when all this begins?

REP. DAVID CICILLINE, (D) JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: Well, Wolf, I think you should expect to see is that we'll lay out in our opening statements the evidence that we have collected during this impeachment inquiry. The President of the United States attempted to corrupt out elections by dragging a foreign power into our elections and using taxpayer money as leverage for military aid to Ukraine and thereafter engaged in an elaborate scheme to cover up and obstruct Congress's investigation of this wrongdoing.

[17:10:04]

And I think what you're going to hear is this is what our framers spoke about when they developed impeachment as a remedy. This is the President of the United States using the enormous powers of his office not to advance the public vote or public interest but to advance his own political interest, his own personal interest. This is the exactly the kind of abuse of power they spoke about. And they gave the country a single remedy for this that is the article of impeachment.

BLITZER: Tomorrow, any member of the Judiciary Committee, there are 41 members can submit amendments. And the top Republican on your committee has already indicated that they will -- the Republicans will be using this to mount a strong defense of the President. What's the Democratic strategy tomorrow in going forward?

CICILLINE: Well I think the Democratic strategy is you will hear us speak about the evidence that was collected, that in order to safeguard our democracy we have got to protect it from foreign interference. We took an oath of office to protect and defend the constitution. No one in this country is above the law including the President of the United States.

If we allow him to do this, we allow this President and all future presidents any time they face a tough reelection to seek out foreign assistance and we will lose our democracy. So we'll stay focused on the evidence, the law, the Constitution.

What I think we'll see our Republican colleagues do is try to gum up the process. Do be, you know, engage in distraction and disruption because no one yet has said why they think it's OK for the President of the United States to seek foreign interference in the American presidential election. I think that's the question they have to answer.

BLITZER: Will your committee, the Judiciary Committee, Congressman, hold a final vote on these two articles of impeachment tomorrow or could that slip into Friday?

CICILLINE: Well, I mean we will proceed with the consideration of the two articles until we're finished. And so that I expect to be -- will begin tonight. We expect it will be all day tomorrow. It may be more than tomorrow but we will take whatever time is necessary to complete our work carefully and thoughtfully and be certain that we have made an appropriate determination.

BLITZER: Assuming the Judiciary Committee passes these two articles of impeachment whether tomorrow or Friday, what day next week do you expect a full House vote?

CICILLINE: That will be a decision for the Speaker as to when it will come on the calendar on the floor.

BLITZER: And I assume you're prepared right now to vote for both of these articles?

CICILLINE: Yes. I mean, I've studied this evidence carefully. I attended the deposition of the witnesses. I've read the intelligence report. I think there is overwhelming evidence. It's actually uncontested that the President of the United States abused the power of his office, betrayed the national interest to advance his own personal interest and obstructed Congress's investigation of it.

And he's continuance presence in office really is an ongoing national security threat. And this is a crime in progress. And if we don't stop this President and hold him accountable, we should have confidence that he's going to do it again. He welcomed foreign assistance in 2016. He actively sought it in the Ukraine scandal and we have to protect our democracy.

BLITZER: It doesn't look like there will be any Republicans who will break and vote in favor of these two articles of impeachment. How many Democrats, though, do you expect will break and vote against these articles?

CICILLINE: I think the vast majority of the members of the Democratic caucus will support the articles of impeachment. The evidence is overwhelming and really uncontested. I still have some hope that maybe we'll persuade some of our Republican colleagues to join us in this effort. This shouldn't be a partisan issue. This is about our oath of office, about defending our democracy and protecting the national security of our country. So I still remain hopeful that they'll do the right thing.

BLITZER: Well as you know there were two Democrats who voted against even beginning the impeachment inquiry. What message do you have for those Democrats who worry that they could lose their seats over this? And there were about 31 Democrats who were elected in districts that President Trump carried in 2016.

CICILLINE: I think, you know, the American people expect us to do what we've been doing, deliver on the promises we made to address the urgent priorities in their lives, driving down health care cost, raising family incomes and taking on the corruption in Washington and getting the government to work for the people again. And they expect us to honor our oath of office to protect and defend the Constitution and to hold this President accountable and demonstrate nobody in this country is above the law, including the President of the United States. And I think the evidence, as I said, is uncontested really and overwhelming that this President abuse abused the power of his office for his own personal benefit at the expense of our national security. And we have no choice but to move forward with articles of impeachment.

BLITZER: Congressman David Cicilline, we'll see what happens tonight. It's going to be a long night in the Judiciary Committee, a long day tomorrow, maybe spilling into Friday as well. Thanks so much for joining us.

CICILLINE: My pleasure.

BLITZER: We're going to have much, much more ahead on the impeachment hearings. We're also following another very important breaking story as the Justice Department Inspector General tells senators he stands by his report on the Russia investigation despite doubts being raised by the Attorney General William Barr.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:19:47]

BLITZER: The Justice Department Inspector General is standing by as a report that found no political bias in the opening of the FBI investigation of Russia and the Trump campaign despite doubts being expressed by the Attorney General William Barr.

Let's go to our Justice Correspondent Laura Jarrett who is joining us right now. What's the latest, Laura?

[17:20:04]

LAURA JARRETT, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, the Inspector General Michael Horowitz faced hours of questioning on Capitol Hill today and he didn't shy away from the bottom line conclusions in his exhaustive 400-page report that the FBI had adequate cause to open a counterintelligence investigation into members of the Trump campaign. But that the agency did not place spies within the campaign itself. And when asked about the fact that the Attorney General Bill Barr has pushed back on Horowitz report calling the FBI's case flimsy from the start, Horowitz had this to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN, (D) RANKING MEMBER, JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: Did Attorney General Barr provide any evidence that caused you to alter this key finding that the FBI investigation had an adequate predicate.

MICHAEL HOROWITZ, JUSTICE DEPARTMENT INSPECTOR GENERAL: No. We stand by our finding.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JARRETT: A finding that we should note was reached after his office interviewed over 170 witnesses and reviewed over a million documents and one that didn't completely offer the FBI a clean bill of health either, Wolf.

BLITZER: The FBI for the way it handles very sensitive key parts of the investigation, right?

JARRETT: That's absolutely right. Horowitz paid a withering portrait of how the FBI bungled getting a court order to monitor Carter Page, that former Trump foreign policy aide and outlined serious problems that the inspector general found persisted for months and months and his office faults not only those who prepared the warrants to monitor Page but top FBI leadership overseeing the Russia investigation.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, (R) JUDICIARY CHAIRMAN: Former FBI Director James Comey said this week that your report vindicates him. Is that a fair assessment of your report?

HOROWITZ: You know, I think the activities we found here don't vindicate anybody who touched this.

GRAHAM: Would you have submitted a warrant application as a lawyer.

HOROWITZ: Let me put it this way. I would not have submitted the one they put in.

They certainly mislead -- it was misleading to the court.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JARRETT: And while the inspector general didn't weigh in on the underlying motivations for some of these failures he talked about, we know that's now squarely under investigation by John Durham, the prosecutor, the Attorney General Bill Barr has tapped into look further into this case. Wolf.

BLITZER: More to come. Laura Jarrett, thank you very much.

Joining us now Democratic Senator Mazie Hirono of Hawaii. She's on the Judiciary Committee. She questioned the inspector general today.

Senator, thank you so much for joining us.

SEN. MAZIE HIRONO, (D) JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: Certainly.

BLITZER: Let's talk about your question. You questioned the inspector general about the Attorney General Bill Barr's comments contradicting his report. So what's the impact of the attorney general's recent statements?

HIRONO: I think it's really unusual for the attorney general to have a press conference and to issue a statement rather than submitting his comments in writing as usually happens. So, this is once again the attorney general acting like the attorney for the President.

So clearly what the I.G. report concluded was there was no political motivation for the start of the investigation into the Trump people's -- whatever they were doing with regard to Russia's interference with our elections. At the same time, he pointed out certain errors that were made by the FBI and in seeking the FISA authorization and therefore they are -- the FBI director is making those corrections and he said these things are -- have been pointed out and he's going to correct them to make the FBI a stronger agency.

What's also clear is that these kinds of errors in the FISA process is not something that was only with this investigation. That there have been concerns raised about the FISA process with regard to other investigations which is why there are some bills that will change the FISA process --

BLITZER: Yes.

HIRONO: -- to make sure that, you know, they follow appropriate procedures.

BLITZER: And as you just mentioned, his report, the inspector general is very tough on the FBI for some very serious mistakes in the FISA process. The Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham says there needs to be fundamental reform about this FISA warrants are granted. Would you go along and support these kinds of reforms?

HIRONO: I it's clear that the I.G. for example made 17 or so recommendations and the FBI director is implementing some 40 changes so perhaps a lot of the kinds of changes that need to happen will already occur. But I think there is -- sure, recognition that that process needs to be clarified.

At the same time, I think one of the most telling things was Lindsey Graham's opening statement went on for about 40 minutes where in, I think, he laid out basically what the Trump administrations defense will be to everything that's happened. And that defense is that this is all a huge plot by the Democrats to get Trump from the moment that he got elected. This is called a conspiracy theory not based on fact. It's rhetorical. I call it a rhetorical nothing burger.

[17:25:06]

But the chairman spent 40 minutes putting that out there, disregarding the fact that the Mueller investigation resulted in dozens of indictments and six people being convicted and never mind that the I.G. report in a 19-month investigation concluded there was no political motive behind the start of this investigation.

BLITZER: We did invite the chairman of the Judiciary Committee Senator Lindsey Graham to join us today, unfortunately he declined.

As you did hear the Inspector General, Michael Horowitz, he did say they're still investigating what he described as potential leaks by FBI officials to Rudy Giuliani in the lead up to the 2016 election. So what questions does that raise to you?

HIRONO: I think that those investigations are occurring. And at the same time the really big investigation that I have concerns about being politically motivated is the one that the attorney general is having happen which is to appoint his own person to run around and fly all over the world to ferret out some other explanation for what happened during the 2016 election. I have more concerns about the political motivations behind that investigation by Durham than what occurred with the start of the investigation with the Trump people.

BLITZER: Senator Hirono, as usual, thanks so much for joining us.

HIRONO: Thank you.

BLITZER: All right, and stay with us. We have more in the breaking news. The House Judiciary Committee soon will be starting a marathon session to begin considering two articles of impeachment against President Trump.

We're also hearing the Senate is moving away from the idea of actually calling witnesses if there is an impeachment trial in the Senate.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:31:45]

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: The breaking news, we're awaiting the start of the House Judiciary Committee's consideration of articles of impeachment against President Trump. Let's bring in our experts and analysts to discuss what we're expecting tonight.

Tonight, we're expecting, what, opening statements from all 41 members. That could go on for several hours.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Forever.

BLITZER: But tomorrow they'll start introducing amendments. What are you hearing about the Republican strategy?

BORGER: The Republicans are clearly going to take this as one more opportunity to show their complaints about the process and to also, as Congressman Collins said today, talk about the evidence and talk about the substance, and perhaps deal with the fact that the President's phone call was perfect or whatever.

But they're going to use it as another way to tell their story. And they're going to do it over and over and over again. I don't expect the Democrats to offer any amendments or -- or much. Do you?

SUSAN HENNESSEY, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY AND LEGAL ANALYST: I actually think that's one really interesting question, of whether or not we're going to see real Democrat sort of discipline, right? There was, reportedly, controversy over only doing these two articles of impeachment. And so, I do think that this --

BORGER: Including the Chairman, right?

HENNESSEY: -- will be one test, right, of how many Democrats are willing to sort of fall in line or if we see a little bit of division kind of boiling up to the surface in the form of amendments. BORGER: I think it's pretty preordained at this point. I mean, you

never know. On this committee, it's kind of a raucous committee, twice the size of the Intelligence Committee, people of all political persuasions on both sides on this committee. But I would say the Republicans are going to use every opportunity to -- to try and make their case.

BLITZER: Abby, what are you looking for as it moves -- assuming it passes the House Judiciary Committee, which it will, as it moves toward the full House of Representatives?

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: I think the story has really shifted a little bit away from the idea that maybe, at some point, there might be some Republicans who will look at the evidence and say, well, I think this is pretty bad, he ought to be impeached, to can Nancy Pelosi keep her caucus together?

And I think that she probably will, but we're starting to hear from some of these moderates a little bit of nervousness. They're looking at the way the wind is blowing. They're actually looking at the way in which the polling is not moving.

People's opinions are not changing, and so as we move into this next phase when it gets to the full House floor, it's all about how many Democrats can Pelosi afford to lose. You know, the White House is prepped. They are geared to make the case that this is going to be the most partisan impeachment that we have seen.

They look back at the Clinton impeachment, and they say that even some Democrats voted in favor of impeaching Bill Clinton at that time and that they're -- that's unlikely to be the case in this impeachment. So I think Democrats need to protect themselves against that argument by holding it together, and we'll see if they're able to do that.

BLITZER: You know, I want to you listen, Pamela, to the President last night at a huge political rally in Pennsylvania.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You saw their so-called articles of impeachment today. People are saying, they're not -- not even a crime. What happened? All of these horrible things, remember, bribery and this and that, they go, where are they?

They send these two things. They're not even a crime. This is impeachment light.

(LAUGHTER)

TRUMP: This is the lightest impeachment in the history of our country by far. It's not even like an impeachment.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[17:35:05]

BLITZER: Except for one thing, impeachment is impeachment.

PAMELA BROWN, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: It is. And it's something that the President does not want. I mean, he's out there, he's downplaying it, trying to say it's no big deal, but we're told, privately, he has been griping to aides about it. He's been stewing about the process, and he is concerned that this is what people will remember from his presidency.

He believes that that was the case with Bill Clinton. And, as you know, Bill Clinton gave him the advice to just focus on the job -- the advice publicly to focus on the job, let your aides deal with the impeachment process. But clearly, the President is preoccupied with this. And we're told -- from sources, our team is told that it has to do more with the coverage, too. He just doesn't like the coverage, the constant coverage.

And there is some concern, of course, in that lull period between the House wrapping up its process and the Senate trial beginning, which the President is very much looking forward to, to make his case, that there -- he's going to be very restless in wanting to get out there.

HENNESSEY: Look, and this is also about sort of sending a message to his base and relying on them not to under -- not to actually read the articles for themselves, not to engage with the underlying evidence but to just take the President's spin and talking points.

Now, the President can try and minimize this, but the reality is that the articles of impeachment, the conduct alleged in those articles, represent one of the most serious abuses or allegations of abuse of power we have seen in the history of the American presidency.

And as we move to the Senate trial and that information starts to be presented in a cohesive format by the House impeachment managers, it's going to be very, very difficult for President Trump to sustain this kind of counter-messaging.

BROWN: Yes.

PHILLIP: Yes.

BORGER: This is a president who wanted the impeachment to take place in the Senate over Christmas. Remember that? Because he wants to get it over with so quickly.

I remember -- was it last Christmas when he was home alone at the White House and there was --

BROWN: Yes, and he is --

BORGER: -- a government shutdown and, oh, I'm all alone? He is going to be there, and he wants -- unless he goes to Mar-a-Lago now, but he wanted it done. Why did he want it done so quickly? Because he wants it over with.

BROWN: He wants it over with.

BORGER: Why did he want it over with?

BROWN: And --

BORGER: Because it's annoying him.

BROWN: It's annoying him. And as much as aides try to tell him, you know, oh, there are political benefits, look at the polls, the opinion isn't moving --

BORGER: That's right, yes.

BROWN: -- it still is getting under his skin.

PHILLIP: But it does make you wonder, is the White House really ready for this? Are they really prepared for what is coming next in the Senate, or are they hoping that this was all going to be just a messaging war?

And I do think that the President often wants to manage everything that he does through how it plays on television, but there has to be some kind of strategy around either defending the President or protecting against the actual information -- to Susan's point, the actual information that's going to be presented in this next phase of this process.

And Trump is so focused on how everything looks and how it's perceived on television that it is a little -- it can sometimes, for this White House, be a little bit of a blind spot.

HENNESSEY: I mean --

BORGER: Well, he wants a theater. He wants a show. He wants a great show that people will watch.

HENNESSEY: Let me just say, he wants a great show. He's probably not going to get it.

BORGER: He's not going to get it. Mitch McConnell doesn't want a great show. He wants it to go away.

BLITZER: Apparently, even don't want to maybe call witnesses. They want it to be over quickly.

PHILLIP: Right.

HENNESSEY: Right, exactly.

BROWN: Yes.

HENNESSEY: I think that's why it's so significant to the extent the President does want this great show. Reportedly, Senate Republicans are considering just trying to force to go directly to a vote without -- without having any witnesses whatsoever.

You know, that's a big tell that they don't believe that there is a substantive defense to be made. They just want to get it over with. BLITZER: And then with a simple majority, 51, that will end it if the

Republicans decide to avoid witnesses on that front. They need 67 in order to remove him from office to convict him, but you only need a simple majority and you can end this trial in the Senate.

We'll see what happens on that front. Stick around. We have more on the breaking news coming up as we await the House Judiciary Committee vote on impeachment articles.

Also, newly-released surveillance video and disturbing new clues in the wake of a deadly shootout near a Kosher Supermarket in New Jersey. Stand by for the very latest.

[17:38:51]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: We're following breaking news as investigators just disclosed some very disturbing new clues in the wake of a deadly shootout just outside of New York City. CNN's Brian Todd is following the story for us.

What are you learning, Brian?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, tonight, we have new information on possible motive for this attack and a dramatic new account from investigators of how the assault unfolded, along with new video we've obtained of a crucial moment in the shooting.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TODD (voice-over): Jarring new surveillance video shows the moment when two suspects got out of their van and began firing at the J.C. Kosher Supermarket in Jersey City. And in dramatic new accounts, authorities describe the assault almost step by step.

Officials believe the suspects' first killed Jersey City Police Detective Joseph Seals at the Bay View Cemetery then drove to the white U-Haul van about a mile to the supermarket.

At 12:21 p.m. on Tuesday, they say the perpetrators, identified tonight as 47-year-old David N. Anderson and 50-year-old Francine Graham, parked directly across the street from the Kosher store.

GURBIR GREWAL, ATTORNEY GENERAL OF NEW JERSEY: Within seconds of arriving, Mr. Anderson exited the driver's side door of the U-Haul with a rifle in his hand. He walked towards the J.C. Kosher Supermarket and immediately began shooting. Ms. Graham, the passenger in the van, followed Mr. Anderson into the store.

TODD (voice-over): Inside the store, officials say, the suspects encountered four civilians. One escaped, they say, but three were killed. The victims, two men, ages 49 and 24, and a 31-year-old woman. Police arrived within five minutes of getting a 911 call. Then a standoff that officials say lasted about three hours.

[17:45:06]

(GUNSHOTS)

TODD (voice-over): Two police officers and one civilian were injured by gunfire. Witnesses describe the chaos and horror of those hours.

GEORGE PORCH, WITNESS TO THE SHOOTING: It was like a war zone -- pa- pa-pa-pow (ph), pa-pa-pa-pow (ph). You know, all of a sudden, the noises started going, pa-pa-pa-pow (ph). I see all these unmarked cars, unmarked guys jumping out of the cars, taking a stance, and start shooting.

(GUNSHOTS)

TODD (voice-over): Both suspects died during the shootout. Two top officials in Jersey City say David Anderson and Francine Graham targeted that supermarket. Surveillance footage, they say, showing the deliberate nature of how they approached the building.

JAMES SHEA, DIRECTOR OF THE DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY, JERSEY CITY, NEW JERSEY: There were many other targets available to them that they bypassed to attack -- to attack that place, so it was -- it was -- clearly, that was their target, and they intended to harm people inside there.

TODD (voice-over): Officials tonight are not saying what the motive for the attack might have been. A law enforcement source with knowledge of the investigation tells CNN there was a note found in the U-Haul which contained both anti-Semitic and anti-police writing on it.

Social media posts with similar sentiments have been found online. And "The New York Times" reports suspect David Anderson appears to have a connection to the Black Hebrew Israelite movement, which has expressed anti-Semitic sentiments.

Experts say investigators are likely focusing on whether this was a hate crime and whether the two suspects acted alone.

BRIAN HIGGINS, FORMER POLICE CHIEF, BERGEN COUNTY, NEW JERSEY: Are there other people associated with these two who are going to continue a plot? Combine that with the fact that, quite often, we see copycats. There are those out there who are being radicalized that we don't know.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TODD: Officials say a pipe bomb was found inside of the van which was sophisticated enough to have exploded, but it didn't explode. New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy said there is no ongoing security concern in the area, but officials in New Jersey and New York are taking added measures tonight to protect synagogues and other Jewish associated facilities.

The New Jersey Attorney General says the two suspects in the shooting are also the prime suspects in the murder of an Uber driver in Bayonne, New Jersey over the weekend -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Very disturbing. All right, Brian, thank you very much.

The breaking news continues next. We're just over an hour away from the start of the debate process and what's expected to be a fierce battle over the impeachment articles against President Trump.

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BLITZER: We're awaiting the start of the House Judiciary Committee debate on articles of impeachment just a little bit more than an hour or so from now, but there's other important news we're following.

A revelation tonight, very disturbing, about the grounded Boeing 737 Max. The FAA knew after the first crash that the planes were at significantly higher risk of more crashes, but it didn't ground them until after a second crash some six months later. Three hundred forty-six people died in those two disasters.

Our aviation correspondent Rene Marsh is here with details. Rene, why were these planes allowed to fly?

RENE MARSH, CNN AVIATION AND GOVERNMENT REGULATION CORRESPONDENT: You know, that is the big question, especially in light of this new document that came out today. And there are some serious questions tonight about the FAA and whether they failed their duty to ensure that the flying public was safe.

The Chairman of the House Transportation Committee released this document that you're looking at there on your screen. And this document shows that FAA did its own internal analysis of the Boeing 737 Max following that Lion Air crash last fall, and it predicted that the plane would crash 15 more times.

And that number was a conservative number because it was based on the assumption that 99 out of a hundred flight crews would successfully react to the alarms and alerts within 10 seconds. Well, we all know that that assumption was wrong. Pilots in both of these crashes, they were overwhelmed. They did not successfully react to the alerts and the alarms.

But despite all of this and knowing this plane had this higher crash rate than any other aircraft, the FAA was the last major hold-out in -- in grounding this plane after the second crash. That is how long it took them to do this. They grounded the plane once there was a second crash. They were one of the last countries to do it.

And the agency, very early on, suggested that foreign pilot training possibly was to blame. That is what was so damning about the revelations that came out in the hearing today.

But on top of all that, Wolf, we heard from two whistleblowers, one from Boeing and one from Congress. They told Congress that they raised concerns about this internal pressure during the certification process, but they were ignored.

The FAA Chief who joined the agency just four months ago, he was asked, did they make the right decision? Should they have grounded the plane sooner? And here is what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEPHEN DICKSON, ADMINISTRATOR, FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINISTRATION: It's hard to Monday morning quarterback these things, as you know. And I believe that the individuals who were involved in making the decision were acting on the best information they had at the time.

REP. JULIA BROWNLEY (D-CA), MAJORITY MEMBER, HOUSE COMMITTEE ON TRANSPORTATION AND INFRASTRUCTURE: But I'm talking about you and the --

DICKSON: And we're taking action to drive that level of -- of risk.

BROWNLEY: I'm talking about you and the future now. And if, you know, whether --

DICKSON: With what I know now, yes.

[17:54:58]

EDWARD PIERSON, SENIOR MANAGER, BOEING: I formally warned Boeing leadership in writing on multiple occasions, specifically once before the Lion Air crash and, again, before the Ethiopian Airlines crash, about potential airplane risk due to the unstable operating environment within the factory. Those warnings were ignored.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MARSH: Well, Wolf, we now also know from the head of the FAA, these planes will not be cleared to fly this year. He says that this process will extend into 2020.

BLITZER: I'm sure it will. All right, thanks very much, Rene, for that report.

The breaking news continues next as we await the start of Congress' first debate on the articles of impeachment against President Trump.

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