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House Set to Vote on Impeachment Articles against President Trump; President Trump's Personal Attorney Rudy Giuliani Confirms Attempt to Remove Ukraine Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch; Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) is Interviewed About the House Vote on Impeachment Against Trump; Boeing Temporarily Halting Production of 737 MAX. Aired 8-8:30a ET

Aired December 17, 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: -- to, it appears, become the third U.S. president ever to be impeached. There's also brand new CNN polling to show you this morning. It shows the American public divided about impeaching the president.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: And breaking overnight, the president's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani has admitted to some of the very actions that helped lead to this inevitable impeachment. You might even call it a confession, bragging. In one interview, Giuliani said he needed to get the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine out of the way because she was going to make investigations into the president's rivals difficult for everybody. And then in a new interview overnight, Giuliani implicated his boss. He said he briefed President Trump a couple of times earlier this year about removing Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, and the president said basically turn it over to the Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Again, Rudy Giuliani saying all of this the day before the president is going to be impeached, basically running around saying, yes, I did it.

Joining us now, Jeffrey Toobin, CNN's chief legal analyst and staff writer for "The New Yorker," Joe Lockhart, CNN political commentator and former Clinton White House press secretary, and Bianna Golodyrga, CNN senior global affairs analyst.

I want to start with where we sit this morning, because by tomorrow night, President Trump will become the third U.S. president ever to be impeached, Joe. And the new development overnight, to me, is more and more of these Democrats in districts that President Trump won for whom this was supposed to be a very difficult vote, and maybe it is. But they're almost all coming out and saying they're going to vote to impeach President Trump. Joe Cunningham of South Carolina, Ben McAdams of Utah, Elissa Slotkin of Michigan, and the list goes on and on and on. What do you see is happening here? Why?

JOE LOCKHART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think it's a tough political decision, and at the end of the day they looked at and they watched the hearings and read the depositions and decided, I'm just going to do what I think is right, and let the chips fall where they may. I don't think it's more complicated than that.

CAMEROTA: We have a little moment of Elissa Slotkin, just what they've had to face in their own districts. And it's just interesting to see how much is percolated. In some ways they can't win, because you see some of these town halls, you see people worked up in a lather who don't want to see her vote for impeachment, and you see people worked up in a lather who do. So here's just a little moment of what she recently released.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. ELISSA SLOTKIN, (D-MI): What was fundamentally different for me is that the president decided to do this for his own political gain and not for the national security interests of the United States.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CAMEROTA: Just a general din of discontent.

BIANNA GOLODRYGA, CNN SENIOR GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: And you know, good for her for speaking to her constituents publicly. There are some who may disagree with her. We saw some boos as well. But it also speaks to the larger point of her coming out saying, look, I am willing to put my future career here as a congresswoman on the line to defend something that I think was inappropriate the president did, and I'm standing up for saying that out loud.

And given her background in national security, given her work in the CIA, given her willingness to come out and say, I wasn't in favor of impeachment during the Mueller investigation, right? So it wasn't one of these people who was elected strictly to remove the president. And I think you can ask some of these same questions of many Republicans who may side with the president and don't go to town halls and shy away from cameras. She's speaking out.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: And it may be, too, that the fact that the polls are so evenly divided makes it easier to vote your conscience. When it's hard to vote your conscience is when 80 percent of your constituents are against you. That's a hard vote. When you are in a tough district and it's evenly divided anyway, you'll not get many of the opposing votes as it is, so you might as well try to do what's right.

BERMAN: And I will point out that the White House and Republicans have been trying to spin for a long time that Democrats who were voting for impeachment are in trouble. And we just don't necessarily see polling evidence of that. In our poll overnight, and Jeffrey, you stay out of this because you don't believe polls in general.

TOOBIN: I didn't say that.

BERMAN: So sorry, 15 battleground states. I want to put up the battleground poll, if we can here, in the 15 battlegrounds states, and this is theoretically in the places where it should be more challenging, 46 percent approve impeaching and removing the president, 45 no. It's basically dead even there. So in these places where Republicans claim Democrats were going to be in big trouble, you're just not necessarily seeing it. And in fact, in some places you're seeing the opposite of that. In New Jersey, Jeff Van Drew is quitting the Democratic Party because he is against impeachment. He couldn't get re-nominated in his district.

LOCKHART: Yes. Listen, and I think we've spent entirely too much time talking about Jeff Van Drew. He's not a significant part of this.

I think what we've not spent enough time on is the impact this is going to have on Republicans when they face the voters next year. By the time the Senate trial is over, they will have stuck their head in the sand for three full months. They will have said facts don't matter, doesn't matter what the president said. You have got Rudy Giuliani running around saying, hey, I can't believe you don't believe we're guilty. We're guilty. We're guilty. Look at me. Look at me.

(LAUGHTER)

[08:05:08]

BERMAN: I did it.

LOCKHART: Trust me. We crimed all over the place. And that could have, and I think will have an impact on Republicans, particularly as it moves to the Senate to these vulnerable senators in Colorado, Maine, North Carolina. And I think we've spent way too much time focusing on the peril to Democrats and too little on the peril to Republicans.

GOLODRYGA: And I think you need to separate what the president did, this impeachment process, and his approval rating overall, right, because you have few people, and I dare you to find many Republicans, many people who are moderates in this country, who will say, carte blanche, the president did nothing wrong, that this was a perfect phone call.

So when you have these Democrats who are moderates, who are out there like Slotkin saying, listen, I have to do this, and if it means I lose my job, I lose my job, so be it. That doesn't necessarily put her in peril with those who still support the president. It's very hard to defend what he did, which is why you even see Republicans attacking the process and not necessarily what the president did.

Now, where you do get into trouble is telling the president that because according to even "The Wall Street Journal" report last night, he doesn't just want to be acquitted. He wants to be vindicated. He wants people to say there was nothing wrong with what he did, and that's very, very hard to do.

CAMEROTA: Can we move on to Giuliani, or do you want to talk more about what we're going to see in the next 24 hours.

BERMAN: I want to do what you want to do.

GOLODRYGA: Good answer. (LAUGHTER)

CAMEROTA: I'm going to need this.

Rudy Giuliani, Jeffrey, I'll read to you, you know it because it's from "The New Yorker," your colleague did this interview. Here's what Rudy Giuliani said. "I believe that I needed to get Marie Yovanovitch out of the way. She was going to make the investigations difficult for everybody." The investigations that he wanted to do and that these disgraced prosecutors who were known to be corrupt in Ukraine wanted because they had decided that maybe we should look into the Bidens, that that would curry favor with President Trump. And so here's Giuliani explaining that it was to get her out of the way, what he wanted to do.

TOOBIN: First, there was Adam Entous' piece in "The New Yorker." Then there was an interview with "The New York Times." And this morning, Rudy is tweeting about getting Yovanovitch fired. It's just astonishing. And basically, he's accusing her of obstruction of justice because she wouldn't give visas to people who wanted to help Donald Trump. It is just so surreal.

And it just underlines that the facts are not in dispute here. The Democrats kept saying that during the impeachment proceedings in the Intelligence Committee and then the Judiciary Committee because it's true. The idea that the president and his lawyer used the muscle of the presidency to aid his reelection campaign, it's just not in dispute. And as Joe points out, Republicans are going to have to defend that come November.

CAMEROTA: And I also just think that the public and Republicans haven't talked, I think, as much about the source of Giuliani's. So the source were these two widely seen as corrupt prosecutors in Ukraine. And part of it is that when police raided their team's homes and offices, they found bags of diamonds.

BERMAN: As one does.

CAMEROTA: Right. And cash. And cash.

LOCKHART: It happens.

CAMEROTA: So I don't know about your payroll, but that's not normally how people who are not accepting bribes are paid. And --

(LAUGHTER)

TOOBIN: That's usually how it works.

CAMEROTA: And so it's just astonishing, if you consider the source of where Rudy Giuliani is getting his information, I just don't think that Republicans have been asked to answer for that that often.

TOOBIN: And what makes this even more amazing is he's just continuing to talk about this. GOLODRYGA: Because it's so convoluted. And there was a pattern here.

Yes, it was stunning he admitted that, but equally stunning is this corrupt prosecutor Yuriy Lutsenko said that they had tried to do this with Yovanovitch's predecessor. They wanted to get him fired as well.

CAMEROTA: This time it worked.

GOLODRYGA: But this time it worked.

BERMAN: To bring it full circle, if I can. This gets to the issue with the real question here. It's not a matter of whether there is peril for Democrats or peril for Republicans. The question is, is there peril for the United States of America in all of this? And that's what members of Congress have to decide tomorrow when they vote. Do they care that the president admitted to pressing the president of Ukraine to investigate a political rival, Joe Biden? The president told us he did. Do they care that the president, in relatively unprecedented fashion, said obstruct everything to Congress, cooperate zero percent here. Has that ever happened, as you know?

TOOBIN: It certainly has never happened. No, it's never happened under any circumstances. As Joe says, Bill Clinton did cooperate with the investigation of the Lewinsky matter. Richard Nixon allowed his aides to testify before Congress. This blanket refusal to produce documents or witnesses has never happened.

[08:10:10]

BERMAN: So peril for America, that is what the vote is tomorrow, and that's what these members have to decide.

LOCKHART: And I think just one last word on Giuliani. It seems like we all watch crime shows on TV, and it's like the defense attorney during the prosecutor's close saying, stop, I've got better stuff for you. Let me make --

(LAUGHTER)

LOCKHART: But there is peril. If we create the precedent, and this is what I think, I think Adam Schiff has been particularly effective in arguing. If we create the precedent that what the president did was OK, then all hell breaks loose as far as campaigns go. And that's why I think in the short term, yes, there is focus and should be on the Democrats and how they do this. But in the longer term, there is real peril for the Republican Party to have -- to put aside the Constitution, put aside all these larger issues, and to say, we don't care. We're with the president because that helps us.

GOLODRYGA: It makes us one step closer to really becoming a banana republic, because if this is OK with Ukraine, imagine what's going to happen next with Russia. There's so many questions we don't know about the president's relationship with a lot of these authoritarians around the world, Turkey, Saudi Arabia. If we're going to have fewer and fewer people there to regulate what the president does and monitor and check his actions, then we do become a banana republic. BERMAN: And I'll just ay, if they ever propose a script like this for

"Matlock," it would get rejected. No self-respecting lawyer show would ever --

TOOBIN: How old are you? My God, "Matlock"?

LOCKHART: Maybe if "South Park" had some legal issues they would.

(LAUGHTER)

TOOBIN: I'm older than you are, and I barely remember "Matlock."

BERMAN: It's a very important show, "Murder, She Wrote," "Matlock."

GOLODRYGA: It's what he spends his weekends doing.

LOCKHART: It's all a lot of stories.

BERMAN: So by tomorrow, President Trump will become the third president ever impeached in U.S. history. We're going to speak to the only member of Congress who has played a role in the last three impeachment investigations. Stick around.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[08:16:18]

BERMAN: Less than one hour from now, the full House Democratic Caucus will meet as it moves one step closer to the historic impeachment vote against President Trump.

Joining me now is California Democratic Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren. She sits on the Judiciary Committee.

And as has been noted in the past couple of weeks, this is your third straight impeachment process. You worked on the Judiciary Committee for the impeachment process of Richard Nixon. You were on the Judiciary Committee for the impeachment of Bill Clinton and you sit on the committee again for this.

And I just want you to reflect for a moment on how this compares to those two other moments that you witnessed.

REP. ZOE LOFGREN (D-CA): Well, in the case of Richard Nixon, it was similar, but this is worse. Nixon abused his presidential power and that's what high crimes and misdemeanors is about in the Constitution -- misuse of presidential powers that undercuts the republic. He did that to benefit his election, and he was impeached by the committee and then resigned.

In the case of President Trump, he misused his presidential powers also to help his election. But he also involved a foreign country which is even worse. That's something the Founding Fathers had grave concerns about the involvement of foreign countries in our elections.

The other thing where President Trump is even worse than Nixon, Nixon sent his employees over to testify. Remember the famous John Dean moment in the Watergate hearings. He was the president's counsel.

President Trump has refused to send anyone and he's refused to send any piece of paper or document. It's an unprecedented refusal to send anything whatsoever to the Congress. It's impeachable in and of itself. It's article two.

In the case of Clinton, you know, Clinton lied under oath, probably a crime. Certainly wrong, but it wasn't a misuse of presidential power. Any husband caught being unfaithful to his spouse could lie under oath about it. It wasn't a misuse of presidential power.

BERMAN: Although, if you lie under oath, you do face a legal process --

LOFGREN: Of course.

BERMAN: -- which the president is not subject to because of Justice Department regulations.

Impeaching the president, the vote to impeach has got to be one of the most weighty things you can do as a member of Congress. You've been there before.

LOFGREN: Right.

BERMAN: What does it feel like?

LOFGREN: It feels somber. You know, the stakes are very high for our country.

If this misconduct is permitted to stand, it changes the nature of the presidency moving forward. If it is OK to solicit foreign countries to help you in the election, it's Katy bar the door in the future. If it's OK to say I refuse to cooperate at all with the Congress of the United States, the three branches of government will be changed forever going forward.

So, this is important not just for President Trump but for our country for the ages.

BERMAN: You keep saying if -- if, if, if. Do you have any reasonable expectation that the outcome here isn't that the president will be impeached tomorrow in the House of Representatives but then when it comes to the Senate he'll be acquitted in a Senate trial?

LOFGREN: Well, I like to think that people are searching for consciences. I expect the vote to impeach tomorrow, given the number of congressmen and women who have made announcements over the weekend.

[08:20:02]

I can't believe what I'm seeing in the Senate. You know, it's a trial and you're supposed to hear evidence and then take an oath to do a just verdict. It looks like Senator McConnell is rigging this trial. If I were the president, I'd be concerned. He wants to be exonerated. He's not going to be exonerated if the trial is rigged. Everyone will know that he's guilty but got off through chicanery.

BERMAN: Couple of historical points here. We had Chuck Schumer on yesterday. Chuck Schumer in 1999 when he was a newly elected senator initially voted against new witnesses or hearing evidence in the Senate trial. You know this flips every time a Republican did something in '99 the other side of it is saying with Democrats.

And one thing Republicans will say is that you had a chance to try to get Mick Mulvaney. You had a chance to subpoena John Bolton, and you didn't in the investigation. So why should they do it in a Senate trial if you didn't do it in the investigation process?

LOFGREN: They're the trial of fact, we are essentially the grand jury. We had way more than we needed to reach a conclusion the president abused his power, and that is the basis for the article of impeachment.

It's important to note that the president's counsel didn't assert privileges that could be adjudicated in court. He basically said we don't like this, and we're not sending anything over. How do you adjudicate that?

BERMAN: And I want to go back to something you said before, the hypothetical if. If the president gets away with this as you basically said, Katy bar the door. I guess my question to you is what makes this process worth it if the outcome is what it appears to be that he will be acquitted in the Senate.

How will you tell your constituents, how will you tell people the next time around that this process was worth it?

LOFGREN: Well, we have our job to do here in the House which is to evaluate the evidence and decide whether the president has committed high crimes and misdemeanors. He has in my opinion.

Now the vote to impeach will be a stain on his record forever. He's only he will only be the third president in history to have that record. I hope that the Senate will take their obligation seriously, sort through the evidence and reach a verdict instead of just doing a political dance with the president.

BERMAN: Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren, thanks for joining us and talking about everything you've seen in this process.

LOFGREN: Thank you.

BERMAN: Appreciate it.

Alisyn?

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: OK, John, now to this story. Grounded. Why Boeing is suspending production on the troubled 737 MAX. What have they learned?

And behind bombshell. The story about the scandal at Fox News Channel and the women who turned the tables on Roger Ailes. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Am I witness W?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. Why?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's the 23rd letter in the alphabet. Have 22 other women come forward since I spoke to you?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CAMEROTA: The star and producer of the film, Charlize Theron, joins us live on NEW DAY.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[08:27:52]

BERMAN: All right. Developing overnight, Boeing announced plans to temporarily stop production of its 737 MAX plane. Months after two catastrophic crashes, how will this affect the airline industry and the global economy?

Joining us now to discuss, Richard Quest, CNN Business editor-at-large and anchor of "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS" and "New York Times" economy reporter Natalie Kitroeff.

Thank you both for being with us.

I think there are two giant issues here that are hugely important. We're talking about safety, flight safety. And number two, when we're talking about the economy.

Let's touch on safety first here, Richard. Boeing made this decision to stop even producing the 737 MAX now. Why and what does that tell you?

RICHARD QUEST, CNN BUSINESS EDITOR-AT-LARGE: Two reasons. First of all, they are running out of places to park them. They've made 400 of them since the grounding, and they've literally run out of spaces, air drones, desert space, all the places they'd park these planes.

And secondly, the FAA is saying that they will individually certify the planes. Although they will require individual inspection of all the planes before they'll allow them to fly. But you've got 378 already delivered, 400 in storage. That's nearly 800 planes that Boeing is going to have to inspect once the grounding is over.

So they're preparing themes for that moment when they have to go back to those planes and get them ready to go back in the air.

BERMAN: Does this indicate it's challenging to convince the FAA and maybe the American consumer that they are making these planes safe?

QUEST: I think it's going to be very difficult. I think Boeing is going to have a real job on its hand. The name MAX may have to disappear. They may have to do a variety of different marketing tricks, if you like, to make people want to fly this plane.

I have no doubt when the FAA say it's OK to fly, it will be safe to fly, but will the traveling public want to get on board?

BERMAN: In terms of the economic impact and the effect on Boeing, this is profound. This is a decision that will have a huge -- in certain ways, immediate impact, yes?

NATALIE KITROEFF, ECONOMY REPORTER, NEW YORK TIMES: Yes, it's hard to overstate the ripple effect that any Boeing decision of this magnitude will have on the U.S. economy.

END