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Pelosi Speaks after House Impeaches Trump; Presidential Candidate Cory Booker (D-NJ) Discusses Impeachment, Presidential Race, Democratic Debate. Aired 11-11:30a ET
Aired December 19, 2019 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): This precedent for this -- and I met with my six chairs after some of us got together for a press conference after the votes last night. And we discussed the precedent of it all.
And that is, in the most recent case, taking up an impeachment, there was a proposal on the floor put together in a bipartisan way. And 100 Senators voted for the process on how they would go forward on the case of President Clinton. We would hope that could come to some conclusion like that.
But in any event, we're ready. When we see what they have, we'll know who and how many we will send over. That's all I'm going to say about that now.
We've had a very eventful week. I'm so proud of our members and really in some cases the bipartisanship of some this and some not.
Last year's campaign we said for the people we would lower the cost of health care and lower the cost of prescription drugs and reserving the condition benefit. But in the past week, we passed the Elijah Cummings Lower Drug Costs Now Act, which does just that. As we were passing it last week, we discussed the particulars of it.
But with the savings that we gained from that, I think it's important to note that we already said we would be spending the hundreds of billions of dollars in savings on expanding benefits for Medicare, dental, visual, hearing and the biggest expansion of Medicare since its inception.
Next, we did the appropriations bill to keep government open early enough so you knew to make your weekend plans and get started for the holidays you may be observing. That took constant back and forth but we ended up -- as I've always said, as an appropriator myself, left to their own devices, the appropriators can get the job done.
And I salute the chairwoman for her work, the ranking member as well. And we're very pleased with that legislation. I'll will come to the Senate pretty soon and, hopefully, on its way to the president for his signature.
Before I leave the subject of impeachment though, let me commend our six chairmen: Adam Schiff, Jerry Nadler, chair, Judiciary, proud of him, Maxine Waters, Financial Services, Richie Neal, Ways and Means Committee, Eliot Engle, the Foreign Affairs Committee, and also very important committee chaired now by Carol Maloney, the Government Reform Committee.
I said last night and I say today, while he isn't with us today, physically here, Elijah Cummings is with us in spirit. A foundation he helped lay for justice is with us.
He said when we're dancing with the angels what will we know about what we did to keep the Constitution intact. When he said that, little did we know that by the time we passed the impeachment resolution -- the articles of impeachment, that he would be dancing with the angels.
Right now, as we speak, we're debating on the floor the U.S.-Mexico- Canada trade agreement. I hear my colleagues on the floor last night saying, well, if we weren't doing this, we could do Mexico. Well, we are doing Mexico.
The discussion that took some time to convince the administration and the other countries was that we weren't going forward until we had the strongest possible enforcement of the trade agreement and also manifested in the legislation that we'll have on the floor today implementing legislation.
As you've heard me say over and over again, this is about enforcement, the overarching issue. If you can't enforce it, it doesn't matter what you put forth.
Of the concerns that we had, one was workers' rights, the other pharmaceuticals, and the other the environment. We made giant progress from, first of all, existing NAFTA for sure, but apart from that, a big distance between what the administration was proposing to begin with in all of those areas and to where we ended up now going forward.
I'm very pleased to have the statement today that went out from the AFL-CIO, who said, "There's no denying that the trade rules in America will now be fair. Working people have created a new standard for future trade negotiations."
I think it's a template for future trade agreements.
Some of my members think let's not give it that much but we'll see how it goes in the implementation. That means everything.
After that, today, we will do SALT and that is going to be the state and local tax that the Republicans put on to punish blue states largely. It is paid for, this legislation, to repeal the SALT tax and it will be paid for by increasing the rate on wealthiest individuals in our country.
When the president first proposed his tax scam, they were saying we're never going to lower the individual rate, and then they did. Now we will raise it again to repeal SALT. We're very proud of what we have done.
As you know, the Republicans keep saying, we should be working. Well, we sent over 400 bills, 275 of them sitting on Mitch McConnell's desk -- 400 but 275 of those at least are bipartisan.
The range of subjects is -- you've heard me say it but bears repeating -- that includes all of our top-10 pieces of legislation, bipartisan background checks, expanding background checks. People have to have a background check unless they buy it at a gun show, online, or some kind of straw transaction. So this is not creating background checks. It is expanding them. As well as the South Carolina -- one is H.R.-8, the other 1112.
And 295 days ago, we sent bills to Mitch McConnell, the grim reaper. I have news for him, he may think they're dead on arrival there but they are alive and well in the general public. And every day that he does not take up that legislation -- because he knows it will pass. He fears that it will pass, or else he would take it up.
Every day that it doesn't pass, 100 people die. Not all of them -- by gun violence. Not all of them would be saved by the legislation but some. And so we urge him to take up that life-saving legislation.
The list goes on. Paycheck Fairness, Equal Pay for Equal Work, Violence Against Women Act, again, about women. The legislation to raise the minimum wage of the 30-some million, 32, 33 million people who will get a pay raise with the increase in the minimum wage. Over 20 million of them are women.
The Equality Act to end discrimination against the LGBTQ community, the DREAM and Promise Act, the Safe Act, the Save Our Elections Act, the Butch Lewis Act, protecting pensions for American workers, the Farm Workforce Modernization Act, which we passed the other day with bipartisan support and has bipartisan support inside and outside the Congress, again, lower drug costs now.
One of the bills that we did pass that we had an enrollment ceremony -- perhaps some of you came -- was the Future Act and that was about minority serving institutions, Hispanic-serving institutions, historically black colleges and universities, higher education institutions, that deal with our Native American population. It's very important we sent it. That did pass and is on its way to the president.
With that, we said to my members what I say to you guys all the time, the word "recreate" and "recreate" are the same words. They're spelled the same and they mean something the same. When you recreate, renew, rest up, be with your family, you are recreated to come back for the discussions and the debates ahead as we go into the future.
As we go into the future, again, we are inspired by our founders who said, E Pluribus Unum, from anyone, from anyone, no matter what our differences -- and they certainly had theirs -- we always have to remember that we are one country. I have my speaker's pin on today but many times I have on the flag
pin, which said, "One country, one destiny." We have to think in those terms and we look forward to doing that after the -- well, as we go forward. We still have a day here as we go forward.
I wish you happy holidays and whatever you are celebrating. In our House, we celebrate them all, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, New Year's, whatever else, but I hope you have it.
Now I'll have time for a few questions.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Do you run the risk, as the Republicans have said, of looking like you're playing games with impeachment if you hold onto these articles for too long?
PELOSI: I said what I was going to say, Nancy. We are -- I have -- when we bring the bill which is -- just so you know, there's a bill made in order by the rules committee that we can all up at any time in order to send it over to the Senate and to have the provisions in there to pay for the impeachment.
And then the next step -- the -- whatever you want to call it, the trial. That is where you put the managers. I was not prepared to put the managers in that bill yet because we don't know the arena that we are in. Frankly, I don't care what the Republicans say.
Any other questions? Not on this subject.
PELOSI: I've said this is it. (INAUDIBLE)
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Last night, you suggested you needed to s a fair process in the Senate before sending over --
PELOSI: I would like to see a fair process but we'll see what they have and we'll be ready for whatever it is.
RAJU: Is that the requirement? You need to see a fair process before sending them over --
PELOSI: We would hope it would be a fair process just as we hope that they would honor the Constitution.
By the way, I saw some -- I didn't see it but heard some of what Mitch McConnell said today and it reminded me that our founders, when they wrote the Constitution, they suspected that there could be a rogue president. I don't think they suspected that we could have a rogue president and a rogue leader in the Senate at the same time.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: To that end, you've often criticized Senator McConnell --
PELOSI: Any other questions?
Anybody want to talk about the Mexico Free Trade Agreement? Anybody care about that? Jobs for the American people? Progress in addressing globalism and the issues? Anybody want to talk about the SALT tax that we're passing today, important issues that relate to the economic vitality of our communities?
Any other questions? Because I'm not going to answer any more questions on this.
Clearly, you understand when we see what their process is we will know who and how many we want to send over, not until then.
PELOSI: I'm not going to go there anymore.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: On USMCA, one expects the president will campaign how he got rid of the worst trade deal in history and made a better deal. Is that something you want to take credit for?
PELOSI: Of course, we'll take credit for it because what he proposed did not fill the bill with what he just described. But there are -- those and some of you who care about substance in the past asked about whether we would pass that because it would have what we call collateral benefit to the president. I don't care about that.
We had an opportunity to do something very important for the American people, for America's workers, and we could not let him stand in the way of that because he would go out and take credit.
So this isn't about him. It's about American workers. It's about being good neighbors in our hemisphere.
And frankly, we weren't going to go down that path until the administration conceded on many of the provisions that they had in their original proposal, which were not acceptable, and which were not as you've described the president would describe it.
Yes, sir? UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Have you had any conversations with
Congressman Van Drew about maybe talking -- (INAUDIBLE)
PELOSI: None, zero. Nothing. Zero.
PELOSI: One more. That's it.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: The president last night had some pretty harsh comments about your dear friend, Debbie Dingell, and her late husband. I wonder if you have any reaction.
PELOSI: Let us pray. Let us pray for the president. This is -- the president clearly is insecure when it comes to states persons, whether it was John McCain -- think of what he said about John McCain and his supporters just overlooked that. John McCain. Now John Dingell.
What the president misunderstands is that cruelty is not wit. Just because he gets a laugh for saying the cruel things that he says doesn't mean he's funny. It's not funny at all. It's very sad.
Thank you all very much. Happy holidays to all of you.
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan. Thank you so much for joining me AT THIS HOUR.
We've been watching as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi speaking in her weekly news conference with reporters, talking about bills they have passed, what they're working on, but also importantly talking about next steps in the process of impeachment.
The next steps, as you can tell from the line of questioning, has been very confusing and kind of up in the air since last night.
A lot to discuss here. Let me bring in David Gergen, CNN senior political analyst.
David, what we heard from Speaker Pelosi, and though she did shut down questions about the impeachment process, very clearly saying she's not going to take anymore, she did say when asked what the process is, that we're going to wait and see essentially.
When we see what they have in terms of the Senate process, we'll know who and how many in terms of the House managers they're going to send over.
Does that answer the question?
DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: No. She left herself some wiggle room here, Kate.
But I think, very importantly, what I got out of what she said was that she's lowering the temperature on this whole controversy about whether she may hold up intentionally and get into a fight with the Senate over what the process is going to be on the floor.
Last night, there was lots and lots of talk and speculation that she was going to insist on having witnesses, having a process that was fair from her point of view, and that she wasn't going to send over names until she got the witnesses. And McConnell basically said, no, he's not going down that path, at least not now. He might later in a trial.
But I felt that she was essentially, not walking back but let's stop talking about this in some way. It set off a heck of a controversy last night, a very spiked conversation.
GERGEN: Now I think this is much more, let's wait and see what they send over and we'll figure out who the managers are. She never mentioned the need for witnesses, never argued the case for fairness. She basically said send us over the process and we'll check it out and then we'll respond.
BOLDUAN: Nia-Malika Henderson also here.
One thing that it did seem to suggest in the little that she did say, Nia, is that it seems that it is, at least from what we hear there, it is a when they will be sending the articles over and not a question of if, which was floated last night and has been pushed by Mitch McConnell.
I can read what he said on the floor this morning: "It looks like the prosecutors are getting cold feet, second guessing whether they even want to go to trial," is what the Senate majority leader said this morning.
NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: It was hard to know what was happening last night. Was it sort of a misinterpretation? Was she being unclear?
My takeaway from last night, given what I know about Nancy Pelosi, given what I know about Mitch McConnell, is that she was always going to send these over.
Last night, she did talk about wanting to wait on the Senate to see what the parameters that they decided on would be decided, Mitch McConnell and Chuck Schumer, and they'll discuss what the Senate side would look like and then she would figure out who the managers would be and also the bill about funding the process as well.
I think she sort of cleared it up but, to me, it seemed like that was likely going to be what was going to happen anyway.
Nancy Pelosi is an institutionalist. She doesn't want this to seem like it's a partisan process where she's playing games.
She also understands that she doesn't have any leverage in the Senate process. She has met Mitch McConnell. Mitch McConnell isn't someone that is
going to listen to the House Democrats in terms of what he thinks the process should be in the Senate.
So this idea that she thought somehow that she had leverage, I don't think she ever really thought that because she knows how this process works. And she wants to sort of honor the traditions of what this process has looked like before, go according to the Constitution, and also keep the sober and somberness of it and not devolve into partisan games.
BOLDUAN: It took a surprising turn last night after the climactic moment of the vote, after six-plus hours of debate, because it left real questions.
Let's bring in our CNN legal analyst and expert on impeachment.
Ross, it left a big question of what the rules are here in terms of when the House should, must transmit. I know it sounds wonky but welcome to the Constitution, which is a class that we're getting in this process, when the House must transfer the articles over to the Senate.
You've studied impeachment. What are the rules, and do you think the Democrats would have leverage here?
ROSS GARBER, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, so it is wonky. It's also unusual. Remember, this is the third impeachment of a president in U.S. history. This doesn't happen all the time. There aren't that many rules. There are some Senate rules that govern the process.
And I think what some folks seized on last night, and it's been percolating for about a week or so, are some rules that say that the trial in the Senate is sort of triggered by the appointment of managers and the delivery of articles. And that might be some leverage to control when the trial would start and what the rules would be.
I agree that the temperature has come down. What does have to happen now is the factual rules need to be adopted.
And it was interesting in Speaker Pelosi's press conference that she actually echoed the Clinton rules, which is something that Mitch McConnell was also talking about.
Under the Clinton rules, it's sort of a multi-part process that starts with extensive presentations by lawyers for the president and for the House. And after those presentations are done and after Senators can ask the lawyers questions, then and only then is the issue of actual witnesses raised.
BOLDUAN: There's a lot going on here, guys. If you could stand by. Because joining me is one of the Senators who will be one of the jurors when it does get to the Senate.
Joining me is Democratic Senator, presidential candidate, Cory Booker.
Senator, thanks for coming in.
REP. CORY BOOKER (D-NJ): Thank you for having me.
BOLDUAN: I really appreciate it.
Speaker Pelosi saying today that what she said this morning is we will wait and see what the process is and then we will announce who and how many managers to be sending over.
I just wonder, from your position, would you support the speaker? I'm not saying she's suggesting this anymore. We're kind of in this strange moment of not really knowing.
But would you support the speaker kind of holding on to articles of impeachment, effectively stopping the process until what she had asked for, which was a, quote, unquote, "fair process" and what she would deem a fair process?
BOOKER: First of all, Nancy Pelosi has handled this whole process in an extraordinary manner. She has been a light worker during dark and difficult times.
Impeachment is not a good thing. It is a sad day for our nation. It's a sad day for this republic.
I know these are the final moments before it gets to the Senate and I know she's working to make sure that she can use every leverage that she has, that the process on our side of the capitol will be a just and thoughtful and right one.
But I fully expect that to happen and I will look forward to being a juror in this process.
BOLDUAN: Are you concerned that it risks looking like Democrats are playing games if you are holding onto the articles?
BOOKER: I think this is a very small part of a very larger process. And I think the fact that, the third time in the history of our nation, we have now impeached a sitting United States president is deeply unfortunate.
I think that this -- her posture, the sober nature with which she's dealt with this, I think, is the right attitude. This is something that we should -- none of us should want to have happen.
As a presidential candidate, what I want -- like when I played football for Stanford, I wanted to go to Notre Dame and upset them and I want to battle Donald Trump. I want to be on that debate stage and exposing him. I don't want to see him impeached but I believe we have a
responsibility to hold him accountable for his actions. And if he has violated his oath, we should convict him in the Senate.
BOLDUAN: You have been supportive of the impeachment process but are you definitely in this moment now a vote for removal in the Senate at this point?
BOOKER: No. And no one should say that they are. Look --
BOLDUAN: There have been other Senators who are running for the Democratic nomination as well who have said that they are ready to support removal now.
BOOKER: They should speak for themselves.
I'm hoping that, as Chuck Schumer has been saying, that the president, who said his conversation with the Ukraine president was perfect, well, the evidence that we have contradicts that, actually exposes it as a profound lie. The evidence that they presented from the White House transcript I think speaks for itself.
Perhaps having a witness like the acting chief of staff come to the Senate, maybe there will be some exculpatory evidence. I highly doubt it.
But this is the time in a Senate trial that he should put up a defense. No Republicans are really arguing the facts of this case. Can any of them come forward and say what he did was not a violation of at least our national values? It is time for us to have a real trial with witnesses that can speak directly to what happened.
I will withhold any conclusions on my vote until I witness the full testimony. And I will uphold my oath, which I swore and I'll swear another one to be an impartial juror, and I will do my duty even though I believe, at this point, the president has not done his, has betrayed his duty.
BOLDUAN: When it does come to the Senate, it could mean that you are off the trail, the campaign trail, and in Washington for most or all of January. How much does that hurt your campaign?
BOOKER: It's interesting because we've been plotting this whole time in the campaign that this would be our surge moment and now we're seeing ourselves tick up in polls, seeing a massive influx of donations at corybooker.com, and increasing on the ground in Iowa, as local media there's pointing out, rising in that favorability. We're experiencing a great surge.
And me off the campaign trail is unfortunate but I don't care. I have to do my duty. I swore an oath to do that. But I'm hoping that, at this point, when the campaign is getting exciting and most Iowans haven't made up their mind, that people value what I'm bringing, which is a revival of civic grace, a return to decency in our politics, a unifying force for our nation so we can do things.
People want me in this race, even though I may not physically be campaigning.
Please, this is the time to go to corybooker.com and support my campaign.
BOLDUAN: Tonight is the next Democratic primary debate. You will not be on the stage. But you will be on TV. You'll be airing your first TV ad of the campaign tonight in certain places.
For our viewers, let me play just a piece of it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BOOKER: How long are these things? Thirty seconds? Are you sure we can afford this?
You're only going to see this ad once because I'm not a billionaire.
I won't be on tonight's debate stage but that's OK because I'm going to win this election anyway.
This election isn't about who can spend the most or who slings the most mud. It's about the people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: I will say, creative start to the ad.
But in that, are you targeting Tom Steyer, Mike Bloomberg, or both with this ad?
BOOKER: I'm targeting a process that the Democratic party is decrying, rightfully, the influence of money in politics, how it's perverting our process, using our systems.
For the Democratic Party then to craft a system that benefits billionaire and has people like Kamala Harris and other candidates dropping out for lack of money, we need to fully reexamine this.
Again, I'm not arguing with the refs. We are surging right now. We are seeing so many signs that, like everybody's who's gotten a nomination from the past, John Kerry, Barack Obama, Jimmy Carter -- all were polling well behind the leaders in the field. But in January and late December, they started to surge. We're seeing the same thing right now.
Nobody who has ever led in the polls in our party in our lifetimes has ever gone on to the White House. It's always been come-from-behind people like our campaign. And I'm so excited and grateful for the people who are beginning to
understand that if we're going to revive the Obama coalition, if we're not just going to beat Donald Trump but, frankly, we urgently need to regain the Senate. As you see, Senator Mitch McConnell put on the back benches.
The only pathway to do that is through diverse states, from Arizona to North Carolina, that we can win if we get record minority turnout.
BOLDUAN: Other than ads, a way to do that is to be on the debate stage. I know that obviously it's better to be on the stage than off. You've had big debate moments and you've gotten strong reviews in debates.
Are you concerned what -- you're not on the debate stage, what it means for your campaign?
BOOKER: Your own CNN focus groups with Independent voters, undecided voters have routinely said that I've been the best debate performer. We know it's good to be on the debate stage. We know that the January debate stage -- remember, between the last debate and this one, there's been very few polls but now that polls are popping, we're starting to see ourselves move up 4 percent and climbing.
I'm confident we'll be there in January, especially if people lean in right now and help us to continue to run TV ads by going to corybooker.com.
I'm confident, by all the measures of past elections -- remember, in December John Kerry, John Edwards polling 6th and 7th, 4 percent and 2 percent. One month later, they finished one and two in the Iowa caucuses.
This is how the story has always been, people coming from behind, surging in January and February, and that's happening in our campaign.
This debate, it's unfortunate that I'm not there. It's unfortunate that it lacks the diversity that is what we need for our party to win in terms of our voting base.
But, god, I'm really excited and really hopeful. The very fact that we're running a national TV ad shows that the surge of online contributions is putting us in play and allowing us to do what billionaires are doing right now to raise their polling numbers.
We're not looking to raise our polling numbers. We're going straight to the people, through ads, through grassroots organizing. And we are going to upset in Iowa and New Hampshire and Nevada and especially South Carolina where I think that few days before Super Tuesday will launch us into the nomination.
BOLDUAN: It wouldn't be bad if it raised your poll numbers, too. I mean, let's --
BOLDUAN: Great to see you, Senator.
BOLDUAN: Thank you so much.
BOOKER: Thank you.
BOLDUAN: I really appreciate it.
BOOKER: Yes. Thank you.
BOLDUAN: Still ahead for us, in the midst of the House votes on impeachment, President Trump wasted no time going on the attack in a campaign rally last night.
Also in that rally taking aim at Congresswoman Debbie Dingell and her late husband. The congresswoman is my guest, next.