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INSIDE POLITICS

President Trump Launches Into Impeachment Complaints; President Trump Rails Against Impeachment On Christmas Eve; President Trump Again Claims His Campaign Was Spied On; Chuck Schumer Pushes For Ukraine Documents In Senate Trial; Rudy Giuliani Give Interview After Returning From Ukraine. Aired 12-12:30p ET

Aired December 24, 2019 - 12:00   ET

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


[12:00:00]

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: --fire has yet even to begin so fragile is that extraordinary structure itself. Given all that care that has to be taken in picking out the bits of it damaged before it can be rebuilt. So it is going to be some time longer and there is no doubt anywhere near five years that Emanuel Macron has promised that it would take to rebuilt cage.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN HOST: Absolutely. Such a long process ahead. It's almost impossible to imagine everything that's going into that. Melissa, thank you so much. Thank you so much for being here. And thank you all so much for joining me. "Inside Politics" with Manu Raju starts right now.

MANU RAJU, CNN HOST, INSIDE POLITICS: Welcome to a special holiday edition of "Inside Politics." I'm Manu Raju. Thank you for sharing your day with us. President trump speaks from Mar-a-Lago and the topic of impeachment is unavoidable. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, though, may like what he hears.

Plus Rudy Giuliani's defends his work in Ukraine and says he would love to go inside the Senate impeachment trial. We go inside his bizarre interview with "New York Magazine"

And as much as the weight he issues in the impeachment North Korea and Russia are obviously on the President's mind, on this morning's video call with no members of the military and no one was forgetting it's still Christmas Eve.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Is "Home Alone 2" your favorite holiday movie?

Well, I'm in "Home Alone 2," so a lot of people mention it every year, right around Christmas. They say I just saw you in the movie. I was a little bit younger, to put it mildly, and it was an honor to do it. It turned out to be a very big hit, obviously.

(END VIDEO CLIP) RAJU: We begin this hour at the President's Mar-a-Lago property in Florida where he's spending the holidays. This morning President Trump did a Christmas Eve video call with troops around the world thanking them for their service in our country and answering their questions. But shortly after hanging up, he was right back to impeachment, focusing both on the trial to come and how the House handled its inquiry?

(BEGIN VIDEEO CLIP)

TRUMP: We're in a very good position. Ultimately that decision will be made by Mitch McConnell, and he has the right to do whatever he wants. He's the Head of the Senate. People remember they treated us very unfairly. They didn't give us due process. They didn't give us a lawyer that would link selectively with the sick, corrupt politician named Schiff. He's a corrupt politician. No, they treated us worse than anybody has been treated from a legal standpoint in the history of the United States.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RAJU: Fact checks notwithstanding on parts of that, but President Trump also had some critiques for the Speaker of the House.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: She hates the Republican Party. She hates all of the people that voted for me and the Republican Party. And she's desperate to do it. She's doing a tremendous disservice to the country. She's not doing a good job, and some people think that she doesn't know what she's doing. A lot of people think that, a lot of people have said it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RAJU: CNN's Kristen Holmes joins me live from West Palm Beach. Kristen, what has the President's schedule been like so far this week and what is you gleaning about his mindset going into Christmas?

KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Manu, the President has been largely surrounded by close allies and supporters this entire trip. He's been golfing, he had lunch with Rush Limbaugh, he's been seen mingling with members at Mar-a-Lago, including Rudy Giuliani, who is a is a friend of his, his personal attorney, as well as hosting Eddie Gallagher, who is that Navy Seal who have war crimes that President Trump intervened and got him to reinstate his status here so all people here who are really supporting the President.

The only actual public event that we've seen was him speaking at a conservative student summit, and just to give you some ideas of the other speakers there, it was Sean Hannity, his son Don Jr., so a very receptive crowd. And Manu in painting a picture of him surrounded by some of his biggest fans, a lot of positivity on his end.

Despite all of that, it's clear that his mind has been on impeachment. Despite the fact that we haven't seen him, but we've heard from him endlessly on Twitter. He's gone after Democrats he's gone after Nancy Pelosi and he's hit the impeachment process and he has called it remarkably unfair.

This really hasn't stopped. As he said, he brought it up today on that call or right after that call. So it's clear that this is where his mind is at, at this point during the holiday season. We want you to know that the White House aides has begun preparing a strategy for this impending Senate trial, and they were hoping President Trump would really shift his focus to that, try to figure out that preparation there.

Right now it looks as though he's still sticking to Twitter, still trying to hit the process, maybe not necessarily working on the actual strategy part.

RAJU: Despite the holidays, more Trump grievances to come, I suspect. Kristen Holmes thanks for joining us. Here with us to share their reporting and insights, CNN's Lauren Fox John Bresnahan with "POLITICO" CNN's Ryan Nobles and Margaret Talev with "AXIOS." John Bresnahan you're a veteran of impeachment past covering the Clinton Impeachment.

(CROSSTALK)

The President said today that he essentially will let Mitch McConnell take the lead on this. He said Mitch McConnell is the Leader of the Senate and he is going to set the rules here.

[12:05:00]

RAJU: There's been an interesting divergence between the two in recent days because Trump has said he wanted a long trial, show trial. McConnell wants this done quickly. Should we expect that Trump and McConnell are going to be in lockstep come January, assuming the trial takes place, over this strategy or do we expect more division between the two?

JOHN BRESNAHAN, POLITICO: I wouldn't go as far as to call it division. They have similar goals but not exactly the same. Of course McConnell is running for re-election on the same ticket as President Trump so he's going to stay intensely loyal to President Trump. That would be his goal, anyway.

But he also has to protect his own Senate Majority and he has vulnerable members in swing states, like Cory Gardner in Colorado, Susan Collins in Maine. He has to kind of thread the needle here, McConnell. One thing that Trump did say that isn't true at all, McConnell can't do whatever he wants.

He needs 51 votes to do anything. He is going to have to handle the process in a serious manner, but he can't look like he's just, you know, trying to push it through and not take any input at all from his own members. So he's going to have to balance a lot of competing different interests here, and it's going to be hard for him, but I think overall he said he's going to stay in step with the President. I think he will largely.

RAJU: And it's been interesting to watch how McConnell has dealt with this? Pretty shrewdly he went on "Hannity," Trump watches "Hannity." He talked about he would work in tandem with the White House Counsel's Office. He told reporters he was going to be impartial. He wants us to quickly deliver that blistering floor speech against the Democrats.

It's clearly given Trump some confidence here that Mitch McConnell is going to do what the President wants and he's going to hold firm against what Chuck Schumer is asking for.

LAUREN FOX, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, and it also made Democrats come out with their own strategy right before we've sort of seen this discussion that's going to happen between Schumer and McConnell, and everybody was sort of waiting on the Democratic side for those two leaders to meet.

After McConnell started going on Fox News, then after publicly he said it's not my job to be an impartial juror here. All of a sudden you saw Schumer making that letter request for four witnesses. You saw him request documents. Democrats have been a lot more aggressive than they have been previously in part because I think they felt like McConnell was really starting to shape the narrative of what an appropriate trial looked like, and they really needed to get out in front of it.

So certainly Trump is watching that and seeing that McConnell is laying out a pretty clear path here.

RAJU: And that the Schumer move seems to have united Republicans as well on the Senate, which is you're going to see in the days ahead, but most people spend Christmas Eve doing things with their family. We are, of course, here working.

BRESNAHAN: This is our family.

RAJU: This is our family, exactly. The President though this morning after talking to service members, we showed part of it, but he also ranted about his political problems. Here's what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: We were spied on, my campaign was spied on, and what they did to General Flynn is very unfair, in my opinion. Now we found out they're a bunch of dirty cops and paid for by the DNC, paid for by Hillary Clinton in many cases. They did a phony dossier, they used the dossier for FISA, but these were dirty people, these were bad people, these were evil people, and I hope that someday I'm going to consider it my greatest or one of my greatest achievements, getting rid of them.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RAJU: So there are several factual inaccuracies throughout that statement. The Inspector General of the Justice Department did acknowledge there were problems in how the surveillance word was carried for Carter Page Former Trump Campaign Adviser. There were errors in doing what they wanted but they said the investigation was properly predicated in that. There were no informants on the campaign. Here's what the President's own FBI Director testified to as well as what Inspector General Horowitz said about these matters.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRISTOPHER RAY, FBI DIRECTOR: Well, that's not the term I would use. Look, there are a lots of people have different colloquial phrases. I believe that the FBI is engaged in investigative activity and part of that involves surveillance activity of different shapes and sizes, and to me the key question is making sure it's done by the book.

MICHAEL HOROWITZ, DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE INSPECTOR GENERAL: We did not find evidence that the FBI sought to place confidential human sources inside the campaign, or plant them inside the campaign.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RAJU: So Trump is going to say I've been spied on. He's going to make this case all throughout the campaign. If you think that will is an effective strategy, facts be damned.

RYAN NOBLES, CNN WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Well, it doesn't matter if it is effective because this is the way Donald Trump operates, right, and usually this message to the troops is such a mundane part of Christmas week, it barely gets any coverage at all, but you know that if President Trump has cameras in front of him, that he is going to make some sort of statement.

And it appeared today that he wanted to have the last word before the Christmas holiday before everybody goes and doesn't pay any attention to the impeachment process. Essentially when you've seen him do here is what he's done since the beginning of the impeachment process is throw a word salad out into the either and allow his supporters to grab on to whatever they think fits the narrative that they want to feel comfortable with.

[12:10:00]

NOBLES: He throws out words like spy and witch hunt, all these words down the line to confuse and to deflect about the issues that are at the core of this conversation. And that's been his strategy from the beginning because President Trump views this as a battle of republic opinion. And the more that he can keep his core supporters by his side and then, really, just create a level of fatigue with the rest of the country he views that as a victory because it will be more politically palatable for these people that are going to ultimately have to make the decision.

RAJU: Yes and to confuse the narrative which he is been effective in doing and undercut the credibility of legitimate investigations, but there's also some ammunition the President may have to try and make the case that he's the victim of Democrats investigating him. The filing yesterday from the House Judiciary Committee Democrats says they were, in this case, trying to get the testimony of the Former White House Counsel Don McGahn.

This has been fought for months and months in the courts. The court asked them why do they still need Don McGahn's testimony because of the impeachment, the President was impeached last week, now on a trial phase and the Democrats still said they need his testimony in order to determine whether or not to act including to impeach the President again, potentially, saying in this filing the committee's investigations did not cease with the House's recent impeachment vote.

If McGahn's testimony produces new evidence supporting the conclusion that President Trump committed impeachable offenses that are not covered by the articles approved by the House, the committee will proceed accordingly, including, if necessary by considering whether to recommend new articles of impeachment. So the President may make the case that he is a victim here but it's also a sign here that the Democrats are not done investigating this core case of it goes to their favor.

They can still hear potentially Don McGhan's testimony in the heat of the election campaign and his problem may not be done here.

MARGARET TALEV, POLITICS AND WHITE HOUSE EDITOR, AXIOS: Well, and these - they're technically two parallel cases one dates back to the Mueller probe, the other involves the Ukraine investigation, and once the articles of impeachment but they both go to the question of obstruction.

The kind of circular reasoning here has been the White House saying on the impeachment case - well, actually, on the Mueller case, too - if you don't like our stance, take it to court. And this proves why that probably wouldn't have worked if Democrats had pursued that route, because guess what, you take it to court and the White House says the court shouldn't be considering this, or if the courts are going to consider it, consider it later, don't consider it during impeachment, that's not fair.

It's important for the public to know whether you're a supporter of President Trump's or you're not or somewhere in the middle or you're just sick of the whole thing. Almost nothing in any of the video clips that you played this morning is factually accurate. It is one thing to understand the facts of this impeachment probe and to say, I don't think the President should be impeached for this or let the election bear it out.

There's another thing to contest the facts, and what he said there in terms of dirty cops and spying and it's Watergate, it's just not true. It is important to operate in a set of facts when you're making an assessment about how you feel about this, whether you're a member of the Senate or whether you're a member of the voting public.

RAJU: Yes, it's very hard for voters and viewers to keep up.

(CROSSTALK)

RAJU: It undercut the credibility of Mueller in the eyes of a lot of President's supporters. A lot more to get to ahead, next President Trump's Personal Attorney goes off in a bizarre interview involving expletives and bloody Mary's.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [12:15:00]

RAJU: The President's Personal Attorney is making headlines in a new interview with New York Magazine. The magazine sat down with Rudy Giuliani earlier this month and in the interview Giuliani insisted he did nothing wrong during his Ukraine trips. He also shared his thoughts on investigators looking into him and on his inner circle that is getting smaller among many, many other things.

TALEV: So many things.

RAJU: And the question is how much of this is him, Giuliani, being Giuliani and saying what he wants to say. How of this is President Trump and what the President wants out of Rudy Giuliani. This is what he said in this interview about the President.

He said the President was annoyed because over the last couple of weeks I've been pulling all his facts together and I haven't been on television. People who think he doesn't like me on television, I don't know where they get that from. It's just the opposite. Does the President want Rudy Giuliani out there as he think he is an effective spokesman even though he's in the middle of this impeachment and scandal?

TALEV: Number one if this is all an orchestrated plan, I will buy everybody lunch. I don't think it is. Number two, the President thinks he is his own best spokesperson. If the President were to rank his own top aides and Rudy Giuliani, Giuliani would be somewhere between somebody else and President Trump.

Number three, most of the President's aides and lawyers do not want Mayor Giuliani on television because so many things he says are provocative, and some things he says contradict each other on established timelines and put not only Mayor Giuliani's story in question but some of the President's explanations in question also, and that's what's been problematic politically.

NOBLES: His aides may be uncomfortable, but we often see this disconnect between his aides and the President, because it seemed like a month ago the President was opening the door to distancing himself from Rudy Giuliani, and that doesn't appear to be the case anymore. It seems pretty clear that President Trump himself appreciates whatever role Giuliani is playing in all of this whether it deflects or distracts a little bit from the President himself and people focus on Giuliani and his antics, or he still truly believes that he is the type of messenger that's effective in Trump's response.

[12:20:00]

NOBLES: I think if President Trump truly didn't want Rudy Giuliani out there, it would be a lot more clear than what we see right now.

RAJU: Let's remind everyone about why this is significant, because Rudy Giuliani played a central role in the impeachment saga. He was dispatched by the President. He enlisted him as a personal attorney to carry out Ukraine policy. Several top U.S. officials testified that the President directed them to talk to Rudy Giuliani, and they said it undercut U.S. National Security, undercut foreign policy.

Also said that Rudy Giuliani was pushing these investigations to be announced that would help the President politically, including the investigation into the Bidens, and his claims come amid, you know, all the reports that he is himself under investigation by the U.S. attorney's office for the Southern District of New York, and he says in this, if they think I committed a crime, referring to the investigators, they're out of their minds.

I've been doing this for 50 years. I know how not to commit crimes, and if they think I've lost my integrity, maybe they've lost theirs in their insanity over hating Trump. Do you think that he thinks that if he gets in trouble he could get a pardon for Trump and this is part of what he's doing here? What's your take away from this?

BRESNAHAN: I don't know, I mean, you - with Giuliani, it's hard to say. Even in the article he contradicts himself. He says I have no business interest in Ukraine. I'm not sure he's thinking - you have to go back to the 2016 campaign with Rudy Giuliani and Trump talking about he knew information about the Clinton investigation at the time.

Remember before that even came out. So I don't know if he's thinking about a pardon. I really believe he thinks he's done nothing wrong, but clearly he was close to the two Ukrainians who got indicted. He is in serious problem.

RAJU: And through all this, Lauren, Lindsey Graham, he is at the Judiciary Committee Chairman, is open to have him testify about this supposed dirt that he had gotten in his recent trip abroad to meeting with the Ukrainians.

FOX: And Rudy Giuliani also suggests in that article that he would be interested in being part of the President's defense team on the Senate floor because he says I'm very good at cross-examining witnesses, that was one of my favorite things to do. Very clear, that would become a major problem for Republican rank and file.

You and I reported back when the Ukraine investigation was really unfolding how many Republican members would say, I don't think the President has done anything wrong, but Rudy Giuliani is a little bit of - we're not quite sure what might be coming out when it comes to him.

RAJU: Yes, he often says he's his personal attorney, he's made his decision. It's as if Rudy Giuliani was operating in a vacuum when it was the President clearly directing Rudy Giuliani to carry out these things that the President wanted. But he also made a lot of stunning remarks in this interview, but this one talking about George Soros.

He says don't tell me I'm Anti-Semitic if I oppose him. Soros is hardly a Jew. I'm more of a Jew than Soros is. He doesn't go to church. He doesn't belong to a synagogue, he doesn't want Israel. He is an enemy of Israel. George Soros was a holocaust survivor. His family escaped the holocaust from Hungary.

They were immigrants from Hungary. They escaped Nazi persecution during World War II. Rudy Giuliani isn't Jewish, he's catholic. His argument was that George Soros is somehow pulling the strings in this Ukraine matter, including over Maria Yovanovitch the Former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine who was recalled amid that smear campaign that Giuliani was launching himself--

TALVE: Which is its still being perpetrated?

RAJU: What's your reaction then?

TALEV: I actually don't even think it's possible to respond to anything it speaks for itself. It's - those were distracting comments that are also not based in reality.

NOBLES: He didn't just say that he was pulling the strings with Yovanovitch he indicated that there were as many as four Ambassadors in Europe that George Soros personally hand-picked to place throughout that part of the world so that he could - I don't know I guess have some sort of mass globalization plan or something along those lines to put in his liberal doctrine.

There were so many things in this article that were just not based in any level of fact, and again, it goes back to this distraction and confusion campaign that Giuliani is a key component of, and that's why I do think that there is still some implicit endorsement from the President himself for Giuliani to conducts himself.

RAJU: Explicit is right a lot more to talk about. Here coming up Chuck Schumer and Mitch McConnell locked in a standoff over the impeachment trial. Ground work will have all the latest next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[12:25:00]

RAJU: Welcome back. Nothing says holiday spirit like a partisan staring contest in Washington. Republican and Democratic leadership on Capitol Hill still stuck in an impasse over the looming impeachment trial in the Senate. Chuck Schumer ramping up his demands for the Senate to pursue witnesses and documents, he goes so far as to suggest that he will try to force a vote if he has to.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER, (D-NY): We, at the very minimum, will require votes from all the Senators on each of the witnesses and about each of these sets of documents. And I don't think my colleagues Democrat or Republicans are go on to--

[12:30:00]