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Trump Lashes Out at Michigan Rally as He's Impeached; Pelosi Doesn't Commit to Sending Impeachment Articles to Senate. Aired 6- 6:30a ET
Aired December 19, 2019 - 06:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: The House has voted to make Donald Trump the third president to be impeached.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You're declaring open war on American democracy. We did nothing wrong, nothing whatsoever.
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): We cannot name managers until we see what the process is on the Senate side. We haven't seen anything that looks fair to us.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: This raises the possibility that this could just go on as a standoff between the House and the Senate.
TRUMP: Debbie Dingell, that's a real beauty. John is looking down, he'd be sorry. Maybe he's looking up. I don't know.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: To attacking a grieving widow, completely repulsive.
ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is NEW DAY. It is Thursday, December 19, 6 a.m. here in New York. And United States President Donald J. Trump has been impeached. It happened just before 9 p.m. Eastern last night.
And this morning, here are some of the headlines. They say it all. You can see we have them here, as well.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: You can see them from Cleveland.
CAMEROTA: I mean, this one is the biggest. This is "USA Today," and it says across it, "Impeached." Donald J. Trump is the third U.S. president ever to be impeached. The
House approved two articles of impeachment, spelling out how President Trump abused his power and obstructed Congress.
But then in a surprise, an unprecedented move, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi withheld the two articles of impeachment from the Senate, throwing the timing of the Senate's trial into limbo. Pelosi says Democrats will hold the articles until it is clear the Senate trial will be fair in the Democrats' eyes.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who has already said he will not be an impartial juror, will respond to Speaker Pelosi on the Senate floor this morning.
BERMAN: I can't get over the headlines in the papers today, seriously. "The Washington Post" today is basically 10,000-point font.
CAMEROTA: I see that.
BERMAN: The bigness of the moment met by the smallness of the president's response. On the day when the House of Representatives voted that the president is not fit to serve, he demeaned himself and his office overnight by hurling insults at a former congressman, John Dingell, who passed away this year.
So standing in Dingell's home state of Michigan, that Dingell's widow now serves in Congress, the president of the United States suggested that John Dingell is in Hell.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: She calls me up. It's the nicest thing that's ever happened. Thank you so much. John would be so thrilled. He's looking down, he'd be so --
I said, That's OK, don't worry about it. Maybe he's looking up, I don't know. I don't know.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: That statement from the impeached president of the United States. We should note, Congresswoman Debbie Dingell will join us later this morning. She has had extensive comments and response to the president already.
First, though, to this moment in history, the vote that placed Donald Trump on the Mt. Rushmore of stained presidencies.
CNN's Suzanne Malveaux, live on Capitol Hill. Dramatic events leading up to impeachment and then some big moments after, as well, Suzanne.
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, John. I mean, it was really a day of high stakes, high drama, and high emotion. The House making history, making Donald Trump the third U.S. president in history to be impeached. But this is really just the beginning here. Then you saw House
Speaker Nancy Pelosi putting on hold delivering those articles of impeachment to the Senate for a trial.
MALVEAUX (voice-over): After a historic vote to impeach President Trump for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress --
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): Article two is adopted.
MALVEAUX: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi not committing to sending the articles to the Senate.
PELOSI: We will make our decision as so when we're going to send it when we see what they're doing on the Senate side. But that's a decision that we will make jointly.
MALVEAUX: Pelosi bashing Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's handling of the process so far before it's even reached his chamber.
PELOSI: This is what I don't consider a fair trial. That Leader McConnell has stated that he's not an impartial juror, that he's going to take his cues, in quotes, from the White House.
MALVEAUX: President Trump lashing out at Democrats during a rally in Michigan, while the impeachment vote was still underway.
TRUMP: It doesn't really feel like we're being impeached. You know?
So the House Democrats are surrendering their majority, their dignity, their reputations. They look like a bunch of fools.
MALVEAUX: Behind the scenes, some progressive Democrats urging their leaders to withhold the articles until McConnell agrees to incorporate some of their demands, including allowing witnesses, like acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and former national security advisor, John Bolton, to testify.
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): Will he negotiate with Chuck Schumer? Or will he, as he has indicated, sadly, merely do the president's bidding?
MALVEAUX: Texas Senator John Cornyn responding to the potential delay telling CNN, "We don't care if they never come."
KELLYANNE CONWAY, COUNSELOR TO DONALD TRUMP: Of course she wants to wait, because she'll never mollify all of the haters and detractors. First, they were rushing through it. Now they want to wait.
MALVEAUX: In between his anti-impeachment tirade, the president again attacking Congresswoman Debbie Dingell and her late husband John, while recalling the congressman's funeral earlier this year.
TRUMP: She calls me up, It's the nicest thing that's ever happened. Thank you so much. John would be so thrilled. He's looking down, he'd be so thrilled.
I said, That's OK. Don't worry about it. Maybe he's looking up. I don't know.
MALVEAUX: Dingell responding on Twitter, writing, "I'm preparing for the first holiday season without the man I love. You brought me down in a way you can never imagine and your hurtful words just made my healing much harder."
MALVEAUX: And on impeachment, I spoke with several lawmakers on the House side, Democrats and Republicans, who expressed frustration that not more key witnesses came forward for the impeachment hearings.
Within just hours, we're going to see Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on the Senate floor. He will give next steps. Also, behind the scenes, behind closed doors, Speaker Pelosi and Senator Chuck Schumer will also be strategizing their next moves, John.
BERMAN: Indeed. And again, in case you missed it, President Trump impeached.
CAMEROTA: If you can't read that one, this one is bigger.
BERMAN: Yes, even bigger. Impeached. And this is what the president is waking up to in the papers that he still reads and cherishes, even though he claims he doesn't.
All right. This move by Nancy Pelosi, unexpected. Delaying the articles of impeachment to the Senate. What does this mean? We'll discuss next.
BERMAN: All right. The president has been impeached. That in and of itself --
CAMEROTA: Full stop.
BERMAN: Full stop. A big headline. There are more developments on this, though, this morning. We're going to hear from the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, a little bit later. He's going to react to that historic vote last night and explain what he intends to do in the Senate.
But what he can do in the Senate now might be held up because of the action taken by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who says she is not yet going to send the approved articles of impeachment to the Senate.
Joining us now is Ross Garber, an impeachment law professor and CNN legal analyst and impeachment expert. And boy, do we need one this morning.
Also with us, Kaitlan Collins, CNN White House correspondent; and Joe Lockhart, former Clinton White House press secretary.
Nancy Pelosi last night, after the president was impeached, said she doesn't know when she's sending the articles over to the Senate. She doesn't know when she's sending the House managers, who will prosecute the case in the Senate, over. She's waiting to see if Mitch McConnell plans a fair trial. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PELOSI: We cannot name managers until we see what the process is on the Senate side. And I would hope that that will be soon, as we did with our legislation -- our Resolution 650, to describe what the process would be. So far we haven't seen anything that looks fair to us. So hopefully, it will be fair, and when we see what that is, we'll send our managers.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: Joe Lockhart, your take of this as a political maneuver?
JOE LOCKHART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I mean, this is the only leverage she has and Schumer has. And I think they're working together. He signaled this, I think, when he put out his letter about the four witnesses.
This all comes down to a last effort to get Bolton and Mick Mulvaney to get -- you know, raise their right hand and tell the American public what they know under oath.
The leverage comes from the fact that Trump wants to be acquitted. Because he's going to then say, I'm fully exonerated. Just like he did in the Mueller report. So if they hold that up and that somehow can move and give them an advantage in the Senate -- and remember they only need four Republican senators to do this -- you just might see, finally, Bolton and Mulvaney raise their right hand and say what they know.
CAMEROTA: This is a fascinating turn of events, Ross, because apparently -- you tell us. You're the expert. There's nothing in the Constitution that specifies or mandates that Nancy Pelosi does have to turn over the articles of impeachment. So maybe it can just linger in limbo forever.
ROSS GARBER, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes. So here's what's going on.
The Senate rules provide that sort of trial activities begin once the House managers are named and the articles of impeachment are delivered. And that's what Speaker Pelosi is sort of relying on and trying to use as leverage.
But the Constitution actually just provides for the power of the House to impeach. That power has now been fully discharged by the House. The Constitution also provides that the Senate is in control of the trial, and the Supreme Court has ratified that. The Senate sets the trial rules.
So as Joe noted, this really does come down to the Senate setting its rules for trial. This is now up to Senator McConnell and a majority of the Senate.
BERMAN: Yes, but according to the Senate rules as they exist now, they need to have those articles delivered by Nancy Pelosi. So again, the Constitution says nothing about this. As far as the Constitution is concerned, once you're impeached in the House, you're on trial in the Senate.
BERMAN: It's the Senate rules that add this half step, where the House has to walk over and deliver these articles of impeachment and say who the managers are. So that's what we're waiting on this morning. It's a glitch. Who knows where this will go and if it's just leverage. Ross, I'm sorry I cut you off.
GARBER: Yes, and I was just going to say, you know, the Senate can just set a deadline. In fact, the chief justice can set a deadline for the delivery of those articles. So it's not that much leverage, but it's -- it's the leverage that -- that the speaker thinks she has. And it's pretty much all the leverage the speaker has.
CAMEROTA: Well, that's interesting, because we know that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is having an announcement this morning of some kind. So maybe if he didn't know to set a deadline, now he does if he's watching. Maybe that's what he'll be announcing.
So Kaitlan, tell us what happened from 9 p.m. on, if we know, in the White House and what the reaction -- I mean, I know the president was at his own rally in Michigan.
BERMAN: And we're going to talk about Debbie Dingell in a moment. So -- so not that.
CAMEROTA: But what was the reaction to the president being impeached?
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, essentially, they knew this was coming; but their question was just exactly what the president's reaction would be.
And you saw him at that rally. He was very defiant, attempting at times to really dismiss these articles of impeachment. A vote that we should note a campaign aide read him the final tally of the vote while he was still on stage, because he took the stage as they were voting on these articles of impeachment, which was just really striking, to see the president being impeached while he's on stage in Michigan.
But then he did concede later on that this is going to be something that's permanent, something that's on his history forever. And even though you saw the president being incredibly defiant during that rally last night lashing out at some of these lawmakers individually, as you noted, he does seem to recognize that this is something that is not going to go away, despite what he says, his complaints, his grievances that he airs onstage at this rally.
And really, their concern was what the president's reaction is going to be in the days that follow that vote, as he watches the coverage of his impeachment.
BERMAN: Coverage like this in "The Washington Post"?
COLLINS: Yes, reading the headlines like that that they get delivered to the White House every single day. Of course, the president obviously watches a lot of television. That was essentially what they were waiting to see.
And it will be interesting to see just how much the president points back to what you heard from those Republicans as they were arguing yesterday, including one who compared what the president was going through to Jesus and saying, essentially, that he was afforded more rights than the president was. That is something that aides were saying the president was paying close attention to arguments.
BERMAN: Yes. I get criticized for saying, "Happy Holidays." And a Republican on the floor of Congress was comparing the president to Jesus Christ.
CAMEROTA: Well, I think that you've just explained the difference there.
BERMAN: Just saying. I can't say, "Happy Holidays." I get thrown in prison for saying, "Happy Holidays." But you can compare the president to Jesus.
CAMEROTA: All right. Thank you, all, very much.
So the president lashed out, as he is wont to do at his rallies, last night. But last night, he took it to a different, darker level. That's next.
CAMEROTA: President Trump was lashing out at a Michigan rally last night as he became the third president ever to be impeached. And he reserved his most startling comments for Congresswoman Debbie Dingell, the widow of late John Dingell.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: So she calls me up like eight months ago. Her husband was there a long time. But I didn't give him the "B" treatment. I didn't give him the "C" or the "D." I could have.
She calls me up, It's the nicest thing that's ever happened. Thank you so much. John would be so thrilled. He's looking down, he'd be so thrilled. I said, That's OK, don't worry about it. Maybe he's looking up, I
don't know. I don't know.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: OK. We're back with Kaitlan Collins and Joe Lockhart. I mean, and what can you say about the president -- I mean, Debbie Dingell is still grieving.
BERMAN: Do we have her statement?
CAMEROTA: I'm sure we do.
She says, "Mr. President, let's set politics aside. My husband earned all his accolades after a lifetime of service. I'm preparing for the first holiday season without the man I love. You brought me down in a way you can never imagine, and your hurtful words just made my healing much harder."
I think, Joe, there's another point that we need to make. None of that was true, what he said. And you know, one of our researchers who has to count the president's lies says that one tell is when the president uses the term "Sir" in reference to himself. He did that last night. He -- she didn't call him and say that. He called her after her husband died. Congress decided to lower the flags. That wasn't true, what he said.
LOCKHART: Well, it's -- There's just so many levels of it. One of it is how he looks at politics as transactional. Like he gave her something, and then he was shocked that she didn't return the honors on her husband with a vote with him on impeachment. Shocked.
Secondly, it shows how little he knows about Michigan politics. His -- the voters that got him Michigan in 2016 are John Dingell Democrats. John Dingell was a hero of the NRA, who was a moderate Democrat, a working-class Democrat.
And then the third is, you know, it's just, from an optics point of view, Democrats spent seven hours on the floor yesterday, saying we have to resist an authoritarian president. And Donald Trump went out and gave a Fidel Castro speech last night. The longest speech of his presidency. Rambling, insulting, degrading. It's just wrong on so many levels.
BERMAN: Look, I actually don't think this is about politics or honesty. I think it's about humanity. I don't think there is anything smaller that you can do than criticizing or attacking someone who has died. And the president does it all the time. Does it with John McCain, now John Dingell. It is cowardly. You attack someone who's dead, because they can't fight back. And we've seen this from the president again and again.
And Kaitlan, the response from the crowd last night was interesting. Yes, there were cheers. And we saw it, too. There were cheers. But there were -- were also groans, and there was clear discomfort in that clearly awful moment. [06:25:12]
COLLINS: Yes, there were, actually, a ton of groans. If you watched other clips of the feed, you really saw people in the crowd grimacing. And of course, there were some people cheering. This is an arena full of the president's supporters. You can't forget that.
But it was really notable to see those members of the crowd, those -- the audience who were groaning, because I've been to a lot of the president's rallies. You don't often see a reaction like that.
But the president making this comment really just shows how personally he took these votes yesterday, these votes of impeachment, where he was lashing out, going as far as to criticize these Democrats out by name. But of course, the most personal with Debbie Dingell.
And what's notable is, as you were watching those arguments yesterday from Democrats and Republicans, very clearly divided. What you saw a lot of the Democrats trying to make is this argument about how the Republicans have really struggled with getting behind the president when he makes comments like what he made last night.
That has been what you've heard privately from these lawmakers time and time again since Donald Trump has been in office. They like what he does. They don't like what he says. And especially comments like that.
But I do want to read -- I was reading "New York" magazine this morning in an interview that Debbie Dingell gave with Olivia Nuzzi where, earlier this year, she had been on a campaign stop with Joe Biden. She was talking about her husband, and she said, quote, "I miss John every day, and I have really hard days. And you keep yourself so busy that you can't feel. You just keep going so you don't have time to think or feel; and you take that energy of missing somebody as much as I miss my husband, and you take that and you put it into a passion of helping other people."
She says, "I'm raw, I'm sad, but I'm not going to sit at home and feel sorry for myself."
And like you were saying about humanity, it really just shows you this was her longtime husband. Beyond the politics of whether it was wise for the president to make a comment like this while he was in the center of Michigan, of course, is something else. But to see just what she has to say about her husband who died less than a year ago.
CAMEROTA: And Kaitlan, this is why it's so important for us to have you on the ground there and for us to, you know, have our reporters on the ground. Because to know that there were groans in the crowd as you say, how many people supported John Dingell. Because all we see in that little capture of the people behind the president is gleeful; gleeful clapping and laughing at his joke. So it is really helpful to know the crowd had a mixed reaction.
BERMAN: Just I want to remind people why, you know, -- why he was doing this and behaving this way. It's because of this. It's because the president was --
BERMAN: -- impeached.
CAMEROTA: You're serving as closed caption this morning, which is helpful.
LOCKHART: Just -- just to underline Kaitlan's point, I guarantee there will be Republicans today that will question Dingell and she's being disingenuous.
Debbie Dingell's been my friend for 25 years. I've spent some time with her since her husband died. This woman is going through a very hard time. Her husband was her partner for decades: her political partner, the love of her life. And it's -- you know, I imagine Trump will make it worse today. But, you know, I think no one should doubt her sincerity.
CAMEROTA: Joe, Kaitlan, thank you both very much.
And coming up in our next hour, we will speak live with Congresswoman Debbie Dingell to get her thoughts on all of this.
BERMAN: All right. We do have some breaking news for you this morning. CNN just released a new poll showing where the 2020 Democratic contenders stand ahead of tonight's Democratic debate. Those brand-new numbers next.