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Historic Week: A Divided House Impeaches Trump; Democrats, GOP at Impasse Over Senate Trial Negotiations; Iowa Caucuses Just Six Weeks Away; Biden Tops National Polls; Bloomberg Staffs-up In Later Primary States; Trump's Ironclad Grip On The Republican Party. Aired 8-9a ET

Aired December 22, 2019 - 08:00   ET




JOHN KING, CNN HOST (voice-over): His unwanted place in history.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Resolved, that Donald John Trump, president of the United States, is impeached for high crimes and misdemeanors.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: The president violated the Constitution.

KING: Now a strategy aimed at Republican loyalty and 2020.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We did nothing wrong, nothing whatsoever. You are the ones subverting America's democracy. You are the ones obstructing justice.

KING: Plus, just six weeks to Iowa, the 2020 Democrats mix it up.

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Billionaires in wine caves should not pick the next president of the United States.

PETE BUTTIGIEG (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This is the problem with issuing purity tests you cannot yourself pass.

KING: INSIDE POLITICS, the biggest stories sourced by the best reporters, now.


KING: Welcome to INSIDE POLITICS. I'm John King.

To our viewers in the United States and around the world, thank you for sharing your Sunday.

The president of the United States was impeached this past week, charged with violating his oath of office by abusing his powers and obstructing Congress. There is no reason to believe he will be convicted and removed from office once the Senate does its part and holds an impeachment trial. That trial will come early next year, a presidential election year, but we don't know exactly when or when the House will officially deliver the two articles of impeachment across the Capitol to the Senate.

That uncertainty is because of a dispute about trial rules and because of a fascinating impeachment politics subplot, a test of wills between two of Washington's most powerful and disciplined players, the Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.


PELOSI: 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.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MAJORITY LEADER: Some House Democrats imply they're withholding the articles for some kind of leverage so they can dictate the Senate process to senators. I admit, I'm not sure what leverage there is in refraining from sending us something we do not want.


KING: Yes, big questions about what comes next, enormous election year calculations and unending distractions like Trump rally speeches and tweets suggesting you should be swayed somehow by what Vladimir Putin thinks of the impeachment case.

But when historians clear the weeds, what will remain is that the 45th president of the United States is now just the third in American history to be impeached, declared unfit to serve by the House of Representatives. And he knows that.


TRUMP: I don't feel like I'm being impeached because it's a hoax, it's a setup, it's a horrible thing they did. It doesn't feel like impeachment.

And you know what? It's a phony deal and they cheapened the word impeachment. It's an ugly word, but they cheapened the word impeachment. That should never again happen to another president.


KING: With us this Sunday to share their reporting and their insights, Margaret Talev with "Axios", Rachael Bade of "The Washington Post", CNN's Maeve Reston, and Seung Min Kim of "The Washington Post".

So, where are we? Washington takes a holiday break knowing there's an impeachment trial just around the corner. The question is, when do Pelosi and McConnell and their standoff?

RACHAEL BADE, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, I think it's a matter of time obviously between -- before the Democrats deliver the articles of impeachment over in the Senate. I mean, there's a standoff going on, but I think that we're hearing increasingly that it's unclear what leverage Democrats really have right now over Mitch McConnell. I mean, they had this big vote, sort of had this momentum in terms of unifying their own party and impeaching the president, but it seems like they've almost tripped themselves up and opened themselves up to these allegations that Republicans are making, that they're playing politics with impeachment and trying to keep him from being acquitted in the Senate.

And, you know, there's a process in the Senate that they have to go through. Obviously, Democrats want to see key witnesses who the Trump administration would not allow testify, come in and speak about what they know about the Ukraine controversy. But this is now out of Pelosi's hands. She doesn't control the upper chamber, and so how much leverage she actually has right now and the longer she holds this, it could cause a bigger problem I think for Democrats.

KING: So you see the president saying they're afraid, they have a weak case, they went send it over. McConnell is saying the same thing. That's the politics the Democrats have to deal with.

She wants something.


She's too disciplined. She's too smart. She wants something. We just don't know what it is.

And she's willing to run the clock out a little bit, to help Chuck Schumer build pressure for the witnesses. We shall see.

But on the one hand, the Democrats are waiting. On the other hand, this is what she said in an interview with the "Associated Press", which she's trying to make a point to the president of the United States.

He just got impeached. He'll be impeached forever. No matter what the Senate does, he's impeached forever because he violated our Constitution. If I did nothing else, he saw the power of the gavel there.

This is -- we talked about the Pelosi/McConnell standoff at the movement. This is bigger than that. It's a Pelosi/Trump standoff.

MAEVE RESTON, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER: For sure, and she really sort of came into her own power during that week and has shown herself to be a very effective player against him. At the same time, he's doing a good job of framing this standoff to his benefit.

But I do really think that we're going to have to wait to see over the next couple of weeks what these purple state senators are hearing at home. The extent to which there is a desire, an appetite among the American people to actually have a real trial and to hear from some of the witnesses that we didn't hear from on the House side, people like Cory Gardner and Susan Collins, and I think until we know what people are saying in those states, it's hard to -- Mitt Romney as well, it's hard to know what will happen next.

KING: That's an interesting point. I'm sorry, let me interrupt.

I just want to show that some of the Republican senators up in 2020 -- some Democrats have tough calls, too, but some of the Republicans up in 2020. You mentioned Cory Gardner, Martha McSally in Arizona, Joni Ernst in Iowa, Susan Collins in Maine, Thom Tillis in North Carolina, David Purdue in Georgia.

The question is, do they get any blow back? There is zero expectation and no one should try to set the idea that it's possible the president will be convicted and removed. There's nothing on the table to suggest that. Even if all 47 Democrats voted to do that, and we don't know that will happen, but even if all 47, you need 20. That's not going to happen.

The question is, are there enough to side with Democrats to get some witnesses, some other procedural or rules, just some poke at the president and the Republicans?

SEUNG MIN KIM, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: There aren't those votes right now, even though the public sentiment does seem to be in favor of allowing those witnesses to testify. Maeve made a good point earlier. In our "Washington Post"/ABC News polling that came out earlier, show that 71 percent of Americans do want these administration officials who did defy calls for testimony at the House to appear before the Senate.

Now, in the next couple of weeks we're in the holidays and there's not going to be a lot of public pressure on the senators when people are enjoying time at home with their families. Perhaps sometime throughout the trial, once we get through the hours and hours of opening arguments from both the president's side and the House impeachment managers, maybe public pressure builds on those key votes. But I would guess that absent Schumer and McConnell being able to reach an agreement on how to start the trial, which doesn't look likely right now, McConnell will likely round up at least 51 of his members to say, hey, let's start the trial, let's give ample time for opening arguments and then make the witness decision down the line.

That's what happened in 1999 and I think that's a palatable argument right now and maybe two or three weeks in the trial we'll see if it's good for the Romneys and the Collins of the world.

MARGARET TALEV, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: But, you know, we talk about what leverage -- McConnell wants to know what leverage has Nancy Pelosi have. But Mitch McConnell knows exactly what leverage Nancy Pelosi has, and the president is the unknown quantity here, like the rest of the country dials back during the holidays. Maybe people aren't as attuned to the news, or watching as much television, or news programming.

But you know who is? The most powerful person in the world who is sitting at Mar-a-Lago, like between golf games and business from friends and family, trying to figure this out and trying to figure out what's his next play.

KING: Sometimes during golf. TALEV: And like it is the absence of control over this process that

is the potential like move factor for the president, which is that this is a power struggle between Nancy Pelosi and Mitch McConnell, but not President Trump. And being unable to influence this process directly is potentially very frustrating for him.

KING: That's a great point, because he's not getting what he wants from the Senate either. He's mad at the House for impeaching him, he's happy with the Republicans who all voted no. We'll talk about that in a minute.

But his tweet over the weekend where he attacks the Democrats for no due process, a lot of what he says are not factually correct. His lawyers had a chance to be part of the proceedings at the end and they decided not to.

But it's the end part. They will never show up, they want out. Again, he's saying that. We don't -- we'll see how that plays out. But I want an immediate trial.

If the president had his way, because he has the stain of impeachment now and he cannot shed it, he wanted as quickly as possible the Senate vote to not convict and remove so that he could at least say I've been found innocent or not guilty. It's the Republicans making him wait.

BADE: Yes, but if there's any Republican who can say calm down, give me a minute, I've got this, it's Mitch McConnell, right? I mean, this is a guy who has confirmed how many judges at this point to the bench on President Trump's behalf?

So, I mean, look, I think that clearly Pelosi is trying to get at the witness thing and they want to see these key witnesses.


But right now, the story is not about the pressure on these purple state Republicans. Republicans are lashing out and sort of using this to go after the Democrats to say they're playing politics. So, I mean, by letting this play out --


BADE: Right, right, which message -- which message breaks through?

TALEV: Who blinks first?

BADE: Who blinks first? Right, exactly.

KING: And does this help or hurt? Some new emails released under a Freedom of Information request by the Center for Public Integrity. This is from Michael Duffey, who the administration blocked from testifying. The House Democrats wanted him to testify. The president blocked him. The email comes out the other night, July 25th was the call with the president of Ukraine -- that very day.

Based on guidance I have received in light of the administration's plan to review assistance to Ukraine, please hold off on any additional DOD obligations to these funds pending direction from that process. Given the sensitive nature of the request, I appreciate you keeping that information closely held for those who need to know to execute.

So there you have an OMB official saying don't give Ukraine the money and please stay hush. Some people would say the Democrats should have gone more closely in the House until they could get evidence like this and then push for witnesses. Otherwise, Chuck Schumer would say no, this is why we need these witnesses in the Senate.

Does it matter?


KIM: It certainly helps the Democrats build their public case for why they need Michael Duffey, who is one of the four witnesses that they have called to testify before the senate. And also these documents, that conversation gets kind of lost in the chatter over witnesses. But Senate Democrats are demanding a bunch of documents that are just as relevant as these witnesses. I'm not sure how this changing the calculus in the Senate because it is the struggle between Pelosi and McConnell and Trump and how he exerts that frustration on Senate Republicans. Because you do see the little bit of irritation coming out with President Trump.

Last night he said it's so unfair that Nancy Pelosi is holding back these articles of impeachment when Lindsey Graham talked to him late in the week at the White House, he told reporters that Trump is, quote, mad as hell that they are holding back this trial and not getting him the Senate trial that he believes he deserves. So we'll see how much of that pressure builds up over the next couple of days.

KING: And we know -- we know from history she gets under his skin. So we will see how this place up.

Next for us, the president praises Republican loyalty and trashes the Democrats who voted to impeach him. A flash back here proves the president knows this stain is permanent.


TRUMP: Do you think Obama seriously wants to be impeached and go through what Bill Clinton did? He would be a mess. He would be thinking about nothing but.

It would be a horror show for him. It would be an absolutely embarrassment. It would go down to his record permanently.




KING: The president's anger is obvious. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: By proceeding with your invalid impeachment, you're violating your oath of office, you're breaking your allegiance to the Constitution. You are the ones interfering in America's elections. You are the ones subverting America's democracy.

We did nothing wrong -- nothing whatsoever. They don't even have any crime. This is the first impeachment where there's no crime.


KING: No president welcomes the stain of impeachment and the timing here is unique. Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton were impeached in their second terms. President Trump's Senate trial will be early in his re-election year. So, not what you want in the battle grounds.

Look here, Michigan, Wisconsin, Florida and Arizona front pages, boldfaced front pages, marking the president's unwanted place in history. But discount his 2020 re-election chances at your peril. More than three-quarters of Americans in our new CNN poll voice optimism about the economy.

You have to go back 18 years to find a better mood.


KING: Our economy is booming. Wages are rising. Crime is falling. Poverty is plummeting. And our nation is stronger and more powerful right now than it has ever been before.


KING: Welcome to the Trump paradox in the sense that if you look at the economic statistics and you are the incumbent president, you would be doing hand stands heading into your reelection year. You look at the other factors, his approval rating is still under water. He was just impeached.

A lot of the behavior that we see is similar to the behavior that Democrats say is the reason they took back the House in a wave in 2018. Which is 2020 about, the president's character and his impeachment, or wow, we've got a great economy, I'll block out the noise and keep him?

TALEV: Well, as long as the economy holds, then the economy is the wind in his back and may very well be the sentiment. But, you know, economies are cycles, the R word is going to come sometime. Is it going to come in 2020 or 2021?

The president has some levers in which he can help to shape that and move that and control it, some of it is China policy and trade, but no president can completely control the economy. If presidents could control the economy, there would never be recessions.

So the president has got to figure out what is his plan B if the economy dips at a pivotal time next year. And also --

KING: I'm not sure he gets a plan B if the economy dips at a pivotal time. It depends on who the Democrats nominate. I mean, that's the giant question we don't know.

TALEV: I was going to say, the other thing is that it really does depend on who the Democrats nominate, so the president and his team are trying to prepare for a few different scenarios. But, look, the economy is almost everything but it's not completely everything.

And how people feel, whether they are motivated to go to the polls, this has proved -- by the way, like demonizing the impeachment effort has also proved powerful for the president in terms of galvanizing.

KING: Republicans chances up.

So here's where we end the year. This is from our new poll. These are battleground states, 15 states. Presidential elections probably come down to five or six.

But these are the 15 states that you look at early in a presidential year and you're watching. And if you look at this, this is why next year is going to be wow. Trump versus Biden in the battle grounds, 47/47; 48 for Trump and 46 for Senator Warren; 48 for President Trump, 45 for Senator Sanders; 48 percent for President Trump, 43 for Mayor Buttigieg.

So, Joe Biden could look at that and say I'm a little stronger than the others, or the president could say he's at 47, 48, 49, 48. That's a relative -- if you go back to 2016 where he lost the popular vote and just barely eked out Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania.


you know, I guess you could do half empty or full, but the president is very much in play.

RESTON: I think, you know, going to these battleground states and talking to random voters, it always is such a good reality check that what is most important to them is the fact that they feel like, you know, their 401(k) is growing, that things are doing well in the stock market, that they have more cash to spend. And voter after voter will tell you that this is more important to them than what they really feel, which is the sort of impeachment fatigue and investigation fatigue about Trump.

At the same time, when you then talk to them about the contrasts, the head-to-head, there are some people in those states who are terrified of what the economy would look like under Elizabeth Warren or there would be dramatic changes with Medicare-for-All, other things. And I think that we have to keep remembering that, that that is always going to be the bolster that is holding up President Trump.

KING: And Warren or Sanders would argue they'll bring out new voters and progressive voters. That's the test. We'll see who the Democrats nominate. One advantage the president has is the Democrats are still fighting it out. He has a boot load of Dimes in his campaign account and he can spend, including this pretty modest buy on Fox News, but it's preaching to the choir as we head into the reelection year.


AD ANNOUNCER: The holidays are a time for America to come together, but Democrats are tearing our country apart, attacking President Trump like never before. It's an outrage. Show the president you're on his side. Text Trump to 88022 to show your support.


KING: Nancy Pelosi and Adam Schiff and Jerry Nadler are the Grinch who stole Christmas.


KING: But the last thing at the end there, the text part, they are -- they are doing -- they are building this database of names and numbers and emails and then sending you messages to see which ones you respond to, to try to figure out what will motivate you to turn out. They have the luxury of that.

RESTON: And we have to remember that they're in such a stronger place, the Trump campaign, than they were last cycle when it was disorganized. I mean, they have the full organizational power of the RNC behind them. They've been doing work in all of these different states and you can't overlook that, for sure.

KING: It's -- merry Christmas.

Up next, the Democratic debate gets testy and the calendar explains why. Iowa kicks off the voting in just six weeks. And politicians or their "SNL" stand-ins say the darndest things, debate edition.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The only cave I ever go to is a man cave. I call it the Senate.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: For more of these classic zingers, please check out my standup special, land of 10,000 laughs, only on Costco Plus streaming service.




KING: Iowa votes six weeks from tomorrow and we should remember that history tells us Iowa can suddenly change the trajectory of the race for president. So take the national polls for what they are, a snapshot of what all of America thinks as we close in on the much more -- much less predictable, excuse me, state by state selection process.

Let's take a look at some of the numbers. Joe Biden ends the year as he began it, the leader or the front-runner among Democrats, 26 percent for the former vice president, 20 percent for Bernie Sanders in our latest poll, Elizabeth Warren in third at 16 percent. The two mayors, Mayor Buttigieg and Mayor Bloomberg, round out the top five here.

If you look at how it's played out going back to last October, some ups and downs for Joe Biden, but he has stayed consistently on top. That's interesting. Senator Sanders, Senator Warren, Mayor Buttigieg, this is the cluster at the top of the Democratic pack. This is nationally.

Now we're moving into Iowa. A little bit of history here. Number one, Democrats are wide open in it comes to what they're thinking about. Only four in ten back in May and only four in ten Democrats now say they've definitely made up their mind. That means six in ten, if you add up no first choice, 60 percent of Democrats still open minded six weeks from the votes starting.

Now the history. Hillary Clinton was the national front-runner at this point in 2016, she went on to be the Democratic nominee it was a rough campaign with senator Sanders, but she led at the end. But in 2008, she led now and Obama beat her. So national front-runner does not translate into Iowa winner and Democratic nominee always.

Little more history, back in 2004, this one is interesting if you're Mayor Buttigieg or Amy Klobuchar, or even Mayor Bloomberg on the sidelines, John Kerry was at just 7 percent in the national polls at this point back in 2004, 7 percent. Howard Dean was your national front-runner. General Clark was second. Congressman Gephardt. John Kerry won Iowa, went on to be the nominee.

So the national polls can get disrupted and up-ended once we get to Iowa. If you're Joe Biden, you don't want to be Howard Dean. In the debate week, he's making the case I'm the national front-runner because I can beat Trump and I can get things done.


JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I refuse to accept the notion as some on this stage do, that we can never, never get to a place where we have cooperation again. If that's the case, we're dead as a country.

We need to be able to reach a consensus. And if anyone has reason to be angry with the Republicans and not want to cooperate, it's me, the way they've attacked me, my son, my family, I have no, no -- no love.


KING: You always want to be first so you want to end the year on top of the polls, but you've got to be a little bit nervous as the Democratic candidate for president if you're the leader in the national polls that you know that thing called Iowa is just six weeks away.

TALEV: And it's never been -- Iowa has never been a great place for Joe Biden and it could matter. Iowa is the kind of place that could disrupt all of this, create momentum, give someone else wind beneath their wings going into New Hampshire or South Carolina or Nevada or it could not and you could end the first contest with a three, four, five-way race and that's probably better for Joe Biden than the alternative coming out of Iowa. It's also good for someone like Bloomberg.

KING: That's what Bloomberg is counting on. Bloomberg is counting on a mixed verdict in the early states, for all the moderates to look weak, or at least not very strong and then he comes in and can spend a boat load of money. Biden had a good debate. Not great, but a good debate.

So, again, he's going to end the year as the leader with Senator Sanders right behind him. That's how we started the year. That part has been consistent.

The question is, what will Iowa do? What was interesting is that if you look at Mayor Buttigieg, everybody wanted to go after Mayor Buttigieg. Why? Because he's the fresh face that hurts somebody like Elizabeth Warren. He is a moderate that could potentially hurt Joe Biden. Just -- let's look at some of the attacks.

Amy Klobuchar saying, hey, kid, I'm the Midwestern candidate.


SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE Billionaires in wine cage should not pick the next President.

PETE BUTTIGIEG, (D-IN), MAYOR, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You know, according to "Forbes" magazine, I am the -- literally the only person on this stage who is not a millionaire or a billionaire.

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We should have someone heading up this ticket that has actually won. I have done it three times.

BUTTIGIEG: Try putting together a coalition to bring you back to office with 80 percent of the vote as a gay dude in Mike Pence's Indiana?


KLOBUCHAR: Again, I would -- Mayor, if you -- if you had won in Indiana, that would be one thing. You tried and you lost by 20 points.


KING: It was an interesting night for the Mayor.

MAEVE RESTON, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER: It was. And he was totally ready for it. At the same time, I think that, you know, being in Iowa was such a good reminder of the fact that while he is the, you know, the leader in the polls, that he had some real structural problems.

I mean, every person who I talked to who was for Pete Buttigieg was an older voter. Not a single one of the younger voters that I talked to was for him. And I think that the, you know, the fact that he has been facing these problems among the younger activists who are trying to knock him down and now you have Warren and Sanders jumping on that train and trying to paint him as the candidate of the elite.

How he sheds those labels over the next month or so, I think is the most fascinating storyline of the campaign right now.

KING: Which brings us to -- as you jump in -- which brings us to the wine cave. We're going to show the whole wine cave, and so he has a fundraiser here. Elizabeth Warren says, how dare you? He says, oh, by the way you've had some high end fundraisers, too, in your prior life, then you became a presidential candidate and decided that was bad, and I'll never do it again.

She said she learned the lesson. The system was bad. But is this -- a lot of Democrats, including people who were at this fundraiser, and the people who own the winery saying really, really? Really? Are we supposed to be Trump here? Why are we having this silly debate about where you have your fundraisers?

RACHAEL BADE, CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER, "THE WASHINGTON POST": I mean, look, campaign finance is something that really resonates with the progressive base right now. This is something they really care about. But I mean, it's just -- it shows how desperate in some ways, a lot of the other candidates are to go after Pete Buttigieg, who -- his rise has been steady.

I mean, yes, he does have these structural problems still, has issues with black voters. But I mean, he -- he is ascending at a good -- a perfect time for his campaign for Iowa.

KING: You've got to get that --

MARGARET TALEV, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: But you know, but there is a legitimate debate and it's a real debate inside the Democratic Party about whether the whole fundraising structure should be jettison and small donor, you know, the small donor system works and I think this debate is sort of ridiculous as it is.

And as much as we would all like to be just drinking some of Kathryn Hall's wine right now --

KING: 8:33 a.m.?

TALEV: This is a real debate. This is actually a real debate, and what's interesting is someone like Paul Winery, you think, oh, rich billionaire or whatever.

But this -- Kathryn Hall is a former U.S. Ambassador. She has been involved in Texas politics, as well as California politics, is involved in affirmative action programs, is involved in legal aid programs.

And so sometimes these donors aren't just big money donors who want to buy access to something, they're people who actually are connected to networks of policy issues in crucial -- you know, in key states, swing states, target states.

So the idea that now these people have any validity is not right either, but the fundraising question is a real question and it's turning Democrats against one another.

KING: It is an interesting and legitimate debate within the party. The question is, should you have it now or should you focus on beating Trump and have it when you have a President? You can't tell.

People are energized about issues. This is what happens. This is what happens. So some Democrats are nervous that this circular firing squad thing is going to impact their chances.

It was interesting after the debate, our Gary Tuchman was out talking to voters in Iowa. Joe Biden had a good debate, right? Amy Klobuchar had a good debate. Who else? The voters decide.


GARY TUCHMAN, CNN REPORTER: Who do you think did best in this debate?




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Klobuchar and Biden.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Klobuchar and Biden.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Klobuchar and Warren.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Klobuchar and Warren.





KING: You heard the reviews there. When Gary asked them who they were going to vote for, none of them said Biden.

SEUNG MIN KIM, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, "THE WASHINGTON POST": It's fascinating. It's because -- and Klobuchar has been a really interesting character to watch, too. Because yes, she did have a good debate. She has consistently had good debate performances, but that hasn't translated to her kind of skyrocketing to that top tier.

She is right now in the middle of, I believe, a four-day, 27 county tour in Iowa where she is kind of trying to ride that momentum from the debate. She raised a lot of money after her successful debate performance.


KIM: But how she sustains that momentum, particularly when she is going to be stuck back in D.C. for a large chunk of January where the Senate impeachment trial is yet to be seen.

KING: She says she'll Skype into her events in Iowa. Look, we're laughing, but you know, for Senator Warren, Senator Sanders, Senator Bennet, who is trying to get traction as well called, Amy Klobuchar, Senator Booker -- it is an interesting dynamic six weeks from now.

Our Sunday trail mix is next. It includes Michael Bloomberg's answer to those who say he is trying to buy the Democratic nomination.


KING: Let's turn now to some Sunday Trail Mix for at a taste of the 2020 Campaign. Mike Bloomberg says his campaign is built to last deep into the Democratic primaries.

In addition to spending nearly $100 million so far on TV ads, Bloomberg announced this week, he has hired more than 200 staffers in 20 states all across the country.

Bloomberg is promising those staffers will keep working for Democrats next year, no matter who the party nominates. And he has this answer to those who say, he is trying to buy the election.


MICHAEL BLOOMBERG (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Some people have said, oh, you're spending all this money. And I said, yes, I'm spending all this money. I'm spending all this money to try to replace Donald Trump. You want me to spend more or less? And that all of a sudden changes the conversation.


KING: Mayor Pete Buttigieg in Central Iowa this weekend and looking to make a splash by rolling out a new endorsement.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is this heaven?




KING: Kevin Costner who starred as Iowan Ray Kinsella in "Field of Dreams" is backing the South Bend Mayor. This weekend marks the 20th Buttigieg trip to the Hawkeye State this year.

Up next, the Tea Party is now the Trump party. Bigger deficits, a new Federal entitlements and a giant no on impeachment.


KING: The Republican Party is shrinking and it is changing. Its leader is not in dispute.


REP. BARRY LOUDERMILK (R-GA): Pontius Pilate afforded more rights to Jesus than the Democrats have afforded this President in this process.

REP. DOUG COLLINS (R-GA): I see you coming off a President who will put his head down even through this sham impeachment and he will do his job. He will put the American people first.

REP. JIM JORDAN (R-OH): This is really about the President has been driving these guys crazy because he is getting things done. He is doing what he said he was going to do. He is having results. Taxes have been cut, regulations reduced.


KING: It's not just the impeachment loyalty that proves the President's grip on the G.O.P. There was only muted conservative protest this past week as Congress and the President signed off on new spending plans that add another $500 billion to the nation's debt, create a new Federal entitlement, paid family leave for Federal workers, and commit $25 million to new gun violence research.

The Republican Party that stood for free trade, smaller government and balanced budget is no more. Today's G.O.P. is the party of Trump.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: What kind of great support did we have from those incredible Congressmen and women this week? They got up and they spoke, and they were fantastic.


TRUMP: The level of excitement in the Republican Party today is greater in my opinion than it's ever been in the history of the Republican Party. I really believe that.


KING: it is stunning. I'm dating myself, but I came to Washington at the end of the Reagan administration and stood up to the communists, the Berlin Wall fell, through the Bush administrations. There were debates about, you know, he was Bush -- George H.W. Bush was a squishy moderate or something like that.

The Republican Party today, this spending plan they just passed makes Barack Obama look like a fiscal hawk. It creates -- a lot of people like it. But it's not -- it's not a tea party message to create a new Federal entitlement meant to take care of what's happening to the -- what used to be a lot of these members came into the Tea Party wave of 2010 and 2014. That's not what they ran on.

BADE: Look, they're listening to their constituents back home, and Trump is extremely popular with the base. And so a lot of them see it as politically advantageous to tie themselves as close to the President as they possibly can.

I think the most interesting thing here is not only that they don't admit, or even acknowledge that Trump did anything wrong with Ukraine, but they've sort of embraced conspiracy theories along the way in terms of defending him that National Security advisers say are dangerous to the country and play right into Russia's hands.

And a lot of these folks that I have covered for years were oversight hawks. I mean, these are people that would subpoena, ask for documents from the Obama administration, they would get a lot of things. Some of them they wouldn't and they'd fight with the White House, but they would get a lot of things and now they're supporting -- they have throughout this process supported Trump's refusal to, in any way, answer these subpoenas or give over documents.

KING: A year and a half ago, Jim Jordan tried to impeach the Republican Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein for withholding documents, refusing to answer a congressional subpoena -- one year and a half ago.

Now, the President can do it. It's fine. If you look at the math, there were 241 Republicans in the House when the President took office. They got blown out in the midterms. There are 197 now, and yet what happens there is a lot of people that got blown out were less Trumpy, should we say, from more swing districts.

And so you have this. This is Patrick McHenry from North Carolina. "He has a complete connection with the average Republican voter and that's given him political power here. Trump has touched the nerve of my conservative base like no person in my lifetime."

There is a loyalty to the President. Former Senator Jeff Flake is now trying to poke his former colleagues on the Senate side. He says, "President Trump is on trial, but in a very real sense, so are you. My colleagues, the danger of an untruthful President is compounded when an equal branch follows that President off the cliff into the abyss of unreality and untruth."

"If there was ever a time to put country over party, it is now, and by putting country over party, you might just save the Grand Old Party before it's too late." This is what we talked earlier about, the debate among Democrats about

who are we? It is much more muted because the people who are challenging President Trump have been shoved to the sidelines.

KIM: Exactly. And you're talking about having to examine the loyalty that their voters have to the President, but also loyalty to the classic Republican principles that Trump has really upended. You're talking about the principles of free trade. You had Republican senators struggling to deal with the President who is quite protectionist in his trade policy.

You have views on foreign policy where you have a President who has, you know, cozied up to a lot of these authoritarian leaders, whereas the presidential nominee just four years ago was saying Russia was our biggest geopolitical challenge. It is Mitt Romney, just to be clear.

And also on the spending issue that is a complete reversal from what Republicans preached. It's a real conundrum for the Republican Party in the future.

KING; That's why we have elections. We shall see. Our reporters share for their notebooks next, including Elizabeth Warren's plans to ring in the New Year.


KING: Let's head one last time around the INSIDE POLITICS table, ask our great reporters to share a little something from their notebooks help get you out ahead of the big political news just around the corner -- Margaret.

TALEV: So the Affordable Care Act, President Obama's healthcare achievement is, again being tested. A Federal Appeals judge kicking back the mandate portion saying, no go, but perhaps you can save the rest of the Affordable Care Act. This is last week. It's now up to a judge.

But what happens? Who is the most at risk of being hurt if the entire thing is thrown out?

You hear President Trump talk a lot about wanting to end the Affordable Care Act, get a better healthcare system. If that is tossed, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Ohio and New Hampshire, can you think of anything in common with those states? They are really in great jeopardy. Their rates could go up by a hundred percent or more.

And some of the states that could be the hardest hit are actually red states, not just swing states. We're talking about Arkansas, Louisiana, Kentucky, West Virginia, Montana, all could be in trouble. So there could be a cost if the Republicans get their way.

KING; I would look at the 2018 election results and be careful what you wish for. I think that one falls into that core category -- Rachael.

BADE: President Trump, just a couple of days ago went after the late Congressman John Dingell, who was the longest serving member of the House who died earlier this year and his widow, Debbie, calling her a beauty and then also calling Mr. Dingell saying that he was looking up from hell.

Now, we saw something striking happening the next morning on the House floor. My colleague Paul Kane did this amazing story about how a bunch of Republicans who knew John Dingell and are friends with Debbie Dingell went up to her on the floor and were very apologetic for the President, hugging her, embracing her including Louie Gohmert, who was one of Trump's number one sort of attack dogs in the House, apologizing for the President.

And I just think it's a reminder that, you know, even though this partisan rancor has hit, really a fever pitch here in Washington and made all the impeachment, there is some decency still in the Halls of Congress with lawmakers reaching out to Debbie and trying to make amends for the President.

KING: A little bit more courageous if they would say so publicly.

BADE: True.

KING: Tell the President.

BADE: Fact.

KING: That's how I look at that. Maeve?

RESTON: So I'm looking ahead to Elizabeth Warren's big speech on New Year's Eve. Obviously, impeachment has distracted so much from the presidential campaign. She is hoping to redefine the race at that moment painting herself as the anti-corruption crusader against Trump and trying to get a little bit of a lift from that third place, a place that she's in right now in the polls.

KING: Timing is everything. We will see. Seung Min?

KIM: So for the last couple weeks, we've seen how the issue of trade and the U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade deal had stirred a little inter-party rift among Republicans. But the fascinating thing to watch, too, will be the dividing lines among Democrats, particularly Senate Democrats, and particularly those running for the for the 2020 Democratic nomination.

We saw a little bit of that at the presidential debate on Thursday when you saw Bernie Sanders saying he would not support the agreement, saying it is an improvement from NAFTA, but that he is still concerned about outsourcing jobs to Mexico.

But then you also saw Amy Klobuchar saying she will support it. It's good for farmers and even Sherrod Brown who has not been a fan of trade deals is going to be supporting this one, and it's going to be an interesting political position for Democrats. Do you get on board with this major Trump administration accomplishment? Or do you go against something that is supported by a wide array of Democrats and very powerful unions like the AFL-CIO. It'll be an interesting choice to make.


KING: Interesting math. We'll see that vote soon in the New Year. I'll close with a reminder. The early 2020 political calendar is packed and packed with consequence: A Senate impeachment trial in January, the election-year State of the Union address is in February, so are the first four presidential nominating contests -- Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina, of course are critical for momentum, especially with this crowded Democratic field. Yet combined, they award less than five percent of the convention delegates.

March though, will then very much roar in like a lion. Fifteen states vote March 3rd -- 15 states including California and Texas, six more on March 10th, Michigan's the biggest. Then four more on St. Patrick's Day, March 17th, Florida, Arizona, Illinois and Ohio.

By the end of that night, just shy of 70 percent of the convention delegates will have been settled. And as the veteran Democratic strategist Doug Sosnik notes in a yearend memo, quote, "We will know if Democrats are on a path of selecting a nominee or headed to an open convention for the first time since 1952."

Enjoy your Holiday break, if you get one. Next year is going to be a blur.

That's it for INSIDE POLITICS. So if you can't catch us weekdays, well, we're here at noon Eastern.

Up next, don't go anywhere, "State of the Union." Among the guests, presidential candidate Amy Klobuchar, Senator Roy Blunt, and Senator Dick Durbin. Thanks again for sharing your Sunday. Have a great day.