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THE SITUATION ROOM

New Info Emerges in Navy SEAL Case; Impeachment Impasse; Interview With Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD); Interview With Rep. Mike Quigley (D-IL); Trump Stewing At Mar-a-Lago As Staff Rotate In And Out; Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) Locked In Battle Over Impeachment Trial Rules; NYC Police Step Up Presence After A Series of Possible Anti-Semitic Hate Crimes; Fierce Winter Storm Threatens Travelers Coast-to-Coast. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired December 27, 2019 - 18:00   ET

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


[18:00:31]

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: Happening now: riling Trump. As the president spends his vacation fuming about impeachment, is he playing into the Democrats' hands? We're getting new details on strategy in the standoff over the Senate trial.

Clash of the titans. Two of the most powerful congressional leaders in U.S. history are going head to head in an epic impeachment battle. Will Nancy Pelosi or Mitch McConnell blink?

Pompeo replacement. We're hearing about a list being developed by the White House of potential contenders to be the next secretary of state. Is Mike Pompeo leaving?

And home alone. President Trump complains his cameo scene was edited out of a popular Christmas movie when it aired in Canada. Was he joking or serious when he tried to blame the Canadian prime minister?

We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. Wolf Blitzer is off today. I'm Brianna Keilar. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Tempers are flaring, as impeachment trial talks are stuck in limbo. President Trump and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi are taking new shots at one another on Twitter. But there's no evidence of any substantive discussions to break the stalemate over ground rules for the trial.

Sources tell CNN that needling the president is actually part of the Democrats' broader strategy, as they pressure Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell to subpoena witnesses.

Also tonight, we're learning that the White House is working on a list potential replacements for Mike Pompeo if he were to leave as secretary of state.

This hour, I will be speaking with Congressman Mike Quigley. He is a Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee. And our correspondents and analysts also are standing by.

First, we're joined by CNN congressional correspondent Phil Mattingly.

And, Phil, we're seeing plenty of public attacks, but what, if anything, is happening behind the scenes in the impeachment standoff?

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Brianna, basically nothing at that point. The impasse, it certainly still stands, but the rhetorical barbs flying back and forth, well, they're very much alive at this point.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MATTINGLY (voice-over): As President Trump continued his holiday Twitter barrage against Democrats on impeachment, Speaker Nancy Pelosi continuing to press her party's case in her own tweet, saying -- quote -- "President Trump abused his power for his own personal gain."

Yet, for all the 280-character thoughts, the battle over what the looming Senate trial will look like remain where it's been for days, at an impasse -- sources telling CNN no conversations between the top two Senate leaders have occurred or are likely to before January.

And with tangible action tabled for the moment, a clear Democratic strategy has to some agree emerged, to get under the president's skin, something sources tell CNN is exactly what's happened.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They're playing games. They don't want to put in their articles, their ridiculous, phony, fraudulent articles.

MATTINGLY: But even more importantly, Democratic sources say, to exert pressure on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

REP. MARK POCAN (D-WI): If we can help use this as leverage to make the Senate do the right thing -- Mitch McConnell already said that he's working hand in hand with the White House on this. He's not an impartial jury.

MATTINGLY: McConnell has rejected Democratic calls to subpoena witnesses and documents in the initial trial rules resolution and has scoffed at the Democratic pressure play.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): I'm not sure what leverage there is in refraining from sending us something we do not want.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MATTINGLY: And, Brianna, the reality is, is that lawmakers will be likely coming back to Washington with the biggest questions still unanswered, from the most basic ones, like how long a trial will last, when, and who will be comprised of Nancy Pelosi's managers to actually present the case, but also the most pressing questions right now, will or if there will actually be witnesses.

Will subpoenas go out for documents? All of those questions, we're likely to have answered in some form when lawmakers return that first week of January. But the funny part here is this. While everybody assumes on both sides that, the first week when they come back, things will start to kick into gear, nobody really knows for certain.

And that's because the reality is, Speaker Pelosi has kept her cards very close to the vest. What she's going to do, when she's going to vote to send those articles over, well, nobody really knows right now.

KEILAR: It's surreal to think we won't hear from some of these folks, potentially, but it's a real possibility. It's pretty stunning.

MATTINGLY: Yes, it's interesting. It keeps up on our toes.

KEILAR: All right, it sure does. Phil, thank you.

And while the president is busy tweeting about Nancy Pelosi, we're learning that his frustration about the impeachment trial impasse is building.

CNN White House correspondent Boris Sanchez is covering the president's holiday getaway in Florida.

And, Boris, we're getting some new details on the president's state of mind. Tell us.

[18:05:03]

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right, Brianna.

Sources are telling CNN that the president is increasingly frustrated as this impeachment process has hit a standstill. And it's really not a surprise, with this stalemate still ongoing between the Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer.

It's unclear exactly how a Senate trial is going to take shape. Mitch McConnell has voiced ambivalence about exactly how it might go forward, something that frustrates the president, because he wants to see a show. He wants to be vindicated, in his eyes, in front of the world.

We're told by sources that the president has settled into a bit of a routine here at Mar-a-Lago. He will send out some angry tweets. He will go golfing. And then he will mingle with some guests at Mar-a- Lago.

Here's one of the tweets the president sent out today again attacking House Speaker Pelosi, the president writing -- quote -- "So interesting to see Nancy Pelosi demanding fairness from Senate Majority Leader McConnell, when she presided over the most unfair hearing in the history of the United States Congress."

The president still trying to spin what actually happened during his impeachment in the House of Representatives.

As for golfing, the president did a travel to his golf resort here in Palm Beach earlier today. There was inclement weather, so he had an earlier-than-expected return to Mar-a-Lago. And one more note new in our reporting. We have been expecting to see White House counsel Pat Cipollone meeting with the president at Mar-a- Lago. Apparently, he has yet to arrive. It's unclear if he's still planning to come here, or if he might wait until we get a clearer read on what's going to happen in the Senate -- Brianna.

KEILAR: And, Boris, tell us what you're learning about this search for a potential replacement for Secretary of State Mike Pompeo

SANCHEZ: Yes, so there's been longtime speculation that Pompeo may run for Senate in Kansas and leave his post as secretary of state.

The White House is preparing for that possibility. And we have learned from a source that there is a short list of names that they have compiled together. One of them is Treasury Secretary Stephen Mnuchin. From what we're hearing, Mnuchin is in interested in the position. He'd be happy if he got it, but he's not aggressively campaigning for it at the moment.

Another name is Robert O'Brien, the relatively new national security adviser that took over for John Bolton. It surely would be a surprise to see him ascend that quickly to secretary of state.

Lastly, there's also Stephen Biegun, the deputy for Mike Pompeo, Brianna. That's another name under consideration. Sources are telling us that, of course, the short list is one that is being taken seriously, but certainly isn't a final checklist, Brianna.

KEILAR: Yes, and it's always fluid. It could be what it is right now. And then it changes tomorrow.

SANCHEZ: Right.

KEILAR: All right, Boris, thank you so much, Boris Sanchez in West Palm Beach.

And joining me now is Congressman Mike Quigley. He is a Democrat who serves on the House Intelligence Committee.

Sir, thanks for joining us.

REP. MIKE QUIGLEY (D-IL): Thank you. Glad to be here.

KEILAR: We're so glad to have you.

And Democrats are clearly getting under the president's skin. Speaker Pelosi certainly is. What's the end point here? What's the goal? What does the speaker want?

QUIGLEY: I think what most Americans want. And that's a real trial in the Senate.

The House, in the investigation and movement toward impeachment, had 35 fact witnesses in those open hearings and the depositions that came with them, where Republicans were allowed to ask all those witnesses questions. We were obviously stymied on getting 10 other witnesses by the

president's obstruction, and scores and scores of other documents, which will would have let the American people know much more of what would have taken place.

So I equate it with a prosecutor who has something along the lines of an indictment from a grand jury who is hesitant to bring it forward because the person in charge of that trial has said that they're going to coordinate with the defense team, and that they won't be impartial.

KEILAR: Is -- Mitch McConnell has said, well, essentially, I mean, I'm not that into having this trial. So if they're going to delay it, you know, fine.

Is the strategy here then to try to highlight what you feel is a very unfair process? And there are many witnesses, certainly people central to all of this, that we have not heard from, for sure.

Is the goal to highlight this publicly to create some public opinion pressure on some Republican senators, so that they might pressure Mitch McConnell to give in at least on votes for witnesses?

QUIGLEY: Well, absolutely.

At some point in time, there's going to be a resolution or two. There were -- there were two during the Clinton impeachment hearings, one which was more procedural and one that dealt with witnesses. And there were three witnesses.

So, I think that makes all the sense in the world. We have to remember something that the chief justice of the United States did during that, that makes this even more important. He said that we shouldn't refer to the Senate as the jury.

[18:10:00]

In fact, what they do here is, they act as the trier of law and fact. That makes their impartiality even more important. It's not just a juror conspiring with the defense team. It's the person who makes the decisions on what the law is and the facts.

So, if the American people understand that, I'd like to think the pressure, through at least four senators, which is what it would take, would force Mitch McConnell to do the right thing, bring on these documents, bring on these witnesses.

Wouldn't they like to hear John Bolton? At this point in time, I think Mr. Bolton's intention is just to publish a book about what took place.

But if indeed he thought this was a drug deal, as has been testified to, if, indeed, Rudy Giuliani was a hand grenade, and he didn't want anything to do with it, I think it's time for him to step up, when the American people have a right to know, when it's most important, not when it's time to sell books.

KEILAR: When do you think these articles of impeachment will be heading to the Senate?

QUIGLEY: I think you're going to learn a lot more after next week, when we come back.

How much pressure do these at least four senators feel? And a resolution moves forward. At some point, they're going to move forward. There is precedent for there being held up before they move over to the Senate. Why not wait? Why not try to educate and inform the American people? Hopefully, a groundswell of what the American people want will hit at least those four additional senators, forcing Mr. McConnell to bring forth the documents and the witnesses we have a right to hear.

KEILAR: The speaker will eventually choose impeachment managers. The House Republicans will do the same to send over to the Senate to present the case in the Senate.

Who should she pick? And if -- obviously, you may not name someone specifically, but what qualities should they have? Should this be a veteran lawmaker, a freshman? Should this only be someone who's on one of these committees that has participated in the investigations and hearings?

What do you think?

QUIGLEY: Look, Ms. Pelosi is an extraordinary judge of talent. She takes her time when she makes appointments, especially to select committees. And she keeps those decisions close to the vest.

She has, in my opinion, an embarrassment of riches. I do think what you have seen during this investigation and during the impeachment process is a number of lawmakers are qualified and skilled to do this.

And I don't think they just have to be members of those two committees. I don't think they have to be experienced veterans. I think we saw some freshmen step up.

So, whoever she chooses, I think, will do a good job. I think there's a lot of talent out there who have the capability to move forward.

KEILAR: What if you were offered the job?

QUIGLEY: Again, Speaker Pelosi was very kind and appointed me to the Intelligence Committee. I have been honored to serve on that for about five years now.

If chosen, I'd be thrilled to do the job, because I think it's so, so important. But I completely understand that she has a lot of people to choose from. And there's a lot of factors in making those decisions.

So I would understand completely whatever decision she makes. Those she picks will do a fine job.

KEILAR: If, ultimately, there are no witnesses that will be heard in the Senate trial, what is the next move of House Democrats? QUIGLEY: Well, I think you -- I think the American public will see it

for what it is, that the president has called this a hoax.

He's called it a witch-hunt. But they certainly act like they have a lot to hide. The president's own words and Mick Mulvaney's words, I think, implicate him pretty dramatically.

But the American public will see again firsthand how this president his acted his entire term of office.

And, finally, the investigation continues. Let's just remember, the only reason this investigation has had to go forward is because, during the Russia investigation and the impeachment investigation, the president has obstructed on an ongoing basis.

Nixon's impeachment articles had four counts within article three. I believe this president has obstructed justice four times in one day, when he's refused to let people testify.

So, all the things the American people have a right to learn, we're going to continue to try to find out and share with them.

KEILAR: Congressman, thank you. We really appreciate you coming on, Congressman Mike Quigley.

QUIGLEY: Thank you.

KEILAR: Just ahead, leaked videos, statements by members of a Navy SEAL team obtained by "The New York Times" shedding light on allegations against a former platoon leader that drew the attention of President Trump.

And we will have the latest on a tourist helicopter that crashed in Hawaii with seven people on board. The wreckage was just found.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:18:11]

KEILAR: We're following new developments in the controversy over a forming former Navy SEAL platoon leader named Eddie Gallagher.

His case drew the attention of President Trump as he was tried and acquitted of murdering an ISIS fighter. And now videos obtained by "The New York Times" shed light on his fellow SEALs' accusations against him.

CNN Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr reports.

And we need to warn you, her report contains some disturbing images.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Members of SEAL Team Seven Alpha Platoon broke their own code of silence in 2018 with their opinions about retired Special Operations Chief Eddie Gallagher, and some making accusations that the elite SEAL committed murder and potential war crimes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The guy got crazier and crazier.

STARR: These are portions of recorded Navy SEAL interviews published by "The New York Times," where team members tell investigators their views on the platoon leader.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The guy was toxic. It's (EXPLETIVE DELETED) up.

STARR: Gallagher was acquitted of premeditated murder when a key prosecution witness changed his story and testified under immunity that he caused the prisoner's death, not Gallagher.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you suffocate him?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I held my thumb over his E.T. tube until he stopped breathing.

STARR: Scott described the killing as an act of mercy, because he was concerned the boy, a prisoner of Iraqi forces, would be tortured by them.

Gallagher was convicted on a charge of taking a photo with a dead ISIS fighter and was then demoted in rank, a decision President Trump reversed, allowing the SEAL to retire with honor, even after Pentagon leaders urged the president not to interfere.

[18:20:03]

Speaking through his attorney, Gallagher told CNN: "My first reaction to seeing the videos was surprise and disgust that they would make up blatant lies about me. But I quickly realized that they were scared that the truth would come out of how cowardly they acted on deployment."

His defense attorney says the tapes were -- quote -- "a road map to acquittal" because they showed there were conflicting stories about allegations of Gallagher killing civilians and other misconduct.

TIMOTHY PARLATORE, ATTORNEY FOR EDDIE GALLAGHER: Really, you're only seeing one very small slice of the story in a way that's not reflective of what the ultimate result was.

TRUMP: Thank you very much.

STARR: President Trump's determination to reverse the military's punishment of Gallagher, against the advice of top Pentagon officials, was so controversial, Navy Secretary Richard Spencer was ousted.

The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff insists that discipline and adherence to the laws of war will not suffer. GEN. MARK MILLEY, CHAIRMAN, JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF: We do maintain and we will maintain good order and discipline. We will not turn into a gang of raping, burning and pillaging.

STARR: But some say it's all led to festering bad feelings.

DAVID LAPAN, FORMER DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY OFFICIAL: Though it's this kind of divisiveness that the president's actions have introduced into the SEAL community, I think, that are the most damaging and will have long-term effects.

STARR: Gallagher met with Trump over the holidays at Mar-a-Lago, and it's possible he will campaign for Trump, if asked, those who know him say.

Barbara Starr, CNN, the Pentagon.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KEILAR: And joining me now is Senator Ben Cardin.

He is a Democrat who serves on the Foreign Relations Committee.

Sir, thanks for joining us this holiday week.

SEN. BEN CARDIN (D-MD): Brianna, it's good to be with you. Thank you.

KEILAR: As we learned from Eddie Gallagher's trial, some of his fellow Navy SEALs had deep misgivings about his conduct.

I wonder what your reaction is to these leaked videos.

CARDIN: Well, first, I think what the president did, interfering with the military justice system, is just wrong.

It hurts America, our strength, our values, what we fight for, who we are as a nation. And the president's actions really trample on American values. So it's a shameful day, when the president issued his pardons.

He should have allowed the process of justice to go forward to show not only Americans, but the world, that we stand by our values.

KEILAR: I want to talk to you about impeachment.

Your Senate minority leader, Chuck Schumer, has taken offense to Mitch McConnell's assertion that he won't be an impartial juror during the Senate trial, that he's coordinating with the White House.

CARDIN: Right.

KEILAR: I know you share that concern. Most all Democrats seem to share that concern.

He was saying something very different back in the '90s shortly before the Senate vote on Bill Clinton's impeachment. Let's listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): The Republican leaders said proudly -- quote -- "I'm not an impartial juror. I'm not an impartial about this at all."

This is an astonishing admission of partisanship.

LARRY KING, FORMER HOST, "LARRY KING LIVE": Anybody taking an oath tomorrow can have a pre-opinion. It's not a jury box.

SCHUMER: Many do. This is not a criminal trial. But this is something that the founding fathers decided to put in a body that was susceptible to the whims of politics.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KEILAR: Now, I understand some Democrats are saying, look, this isn't apples to apples, because there were many more witnesses who were heard during the Clinton impeachment investigation and during the trial.

But at the same time, in the one breath now, he's describing this process as more of a sort of criminal trial process, a jury process, but, back in 1999, he was saying it's not.

So what do you make of that one thing that seems to undercut what he's currently saying now?

CARDIN: Well, Brianna, we will take an oath, a separate oath, after the articles of impeachment are presented to the Senate, to be impartial jurors. That's our responsibility.

The president of the United States has been impeached. That's the responsibility of the House of Representatives. The Senate now sits as a jury and decides whether the president should be removed from office.

So, we need to be impartial. The fact that the Republican leader says that he's going to coordinate this with the president's defense team, rather than being impartial, is just -- it defies the oath that he will have to take to be an impartial juror and defies the role of the United States Senate to judge the testimony and witnesses that we receive, the information we receive, as to whether the president's conduct warrants removal from office.

KEILAR: Your fellow Democrat Senator Blumenthal said that he thinks there are five to 10 Republicans who have some concerns, really, who don't fall in line with some of the public statements that we have heard from Republicans.

Do you think, aside from Lisa Murkowski, who we have heard voicing concern about what she feels -- she said she was disturbed by Mitch McConnell saying what he did.

[18:25:05]

Do you understand that there are other Republicans who share her view?

CARDIN: I would hope that we would have many members of the Senate, including many Republicans, who would say, look, for us to be able to judge this case, we need to hear directly from those who have the firsthand information, those that were present as the president made his preparations for that famous July phone call with the president of Ukraine, those who know why the aid to Ukraine was held up, those who have direct information about the presidential visit by the president of Ukraine to the United States, and whether that was conditioned on an investigation to Mr. Trump's potential opponent.

These are -- and also documents that went back and forth. If we're going to conduct a fair trial, we should hear from those parties and that information, so that we can render the proper judgment.

If we don't, there will always be a cloud as to why we did not hear directly from those who had the direct information.

KEILAR: Talk more about that. So there will be a cloud, you say, if we don't hear from key people in all of this, right, John Bolton among them, Michael Duffey.

What will the cloud be?

CARDIN: Well, it will be that the president denied an opportunity for those who had information that could have exonerated him being made available and testifying before the United States Senate.

There will always be the question as to whether that information would have produced a different result, whether it's removal or non-removal of the president.

And in order to remove that doubt, we need to hear directly from those who have the specific facts. Any person who -- who is a lawyer, is going to present a, case would want to have those witnesses present, or those who want to defend themselves would want to have those witnesses at a trial.

So, whether it's the managers of the House who are presenting the case on behalf of the House of Representatives, or the president's attorneys, you would want those who had the direct information to present that in order to get the facts out.

KEILAR: All right, thank you so much, Senator Cardin. We really appreciate you being with us.

And just ahead: the partisan potshots over impeachment. Is President Trump giving Nancy Pelosi exactly what she wants?

And in the midst of impeachment, the president has a decades-old movie on his mind. We're going to break down his theory about why his "Home Alone 2" cameo was cut in Canada.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [18:30:00]

KEILAR: Tonight, we're told that President Trump is showing signs of increasing frustration with the uncertainty surrounding his Senate impeachment trial. He has been stewing and tweeting as staffers come and go from Mar-a-Lago where he is spending the holidays. And sources say Democrats have a clear strategy to keep him unsettled and get under his skin.

Let's talk about this now with our analysts and our experts. So, on impeachment, Phil Mattingly, we're still at an impasse. Sources have told you that all of this wrangling over the Senate trial, what it's going to look like, that it's given Democrats the opportunity to get under the president's skin. Is that exactly what Speaker Pelosi is going for, because Democrats don't want to admit that with the exception of Debbie Wasserman Schultz?

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRSEPONDENT: She's more than happy too. Look, I don't think that that's the sole goal and I don't think it's the essential goal when they started, but it is a nice side-benefit. I think we've seen repeatedly over the course of the last years the speaker has an ability to get inside the president's head, unlike maybe anybody else in the national conversation right now.

And the fact that he can be on tilt a little bit and kind of going off on Twitter about this certainly plays into the role of Democrats trying to hammer home the message of, look, we may not remove him from office, we may not even be able to dictate what the structure of the trial is going to be but we want the president to be frustrated and we want to be able to show that what the Senate Republicans may do, may end up doing with the support of the president is what they would view as kind of a sham trial. They like that message even if they don't get what they want, what the trial actually is.

Look, Pelosi wants a trial that has witnesses and documents. She may not get that. And if not, then they want the message as well.

SAMANTHA VINOGRAD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: But, honestly, it doesn't take a lot to get under the president's skin, right? I mean, he is clearly rage-tweeting from Mar-a-Lago right now. But any process that he doesn't think he can manipulate, he decries, he chastises whomever is leading it. So this may or may not be a Democrat's strategy. But, politically, you take a step back and the American people are seeing the president really insult Speaker Pelosi and everybody else that's part of this process, including the witnesses that have come forward.

So this is not atypical for President Trump. And as things heat up when the Senate does come back into session, we should likely expect more of the same reason for exactly that reason.

KEILAR: Do you think, David Swerdlick, that it's affecting public opinion?

DAVID SWERDLICK, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I don't think it's changing poll numbers but I do think that Speaker Pelosi is showing her caucus a way to sort of joust with the president. To Phil's point, there is a potential for Democrats to overplay their hand in January. There's also a sense that this is just a fringe benefit, like Democrats have bigger issues at stake.

But Speaker Pelosi, unlike any other, has a way of pushing the president's buttons without leaving fingerprints and it's unbelievable to think that 13 months ago, Democrats were thinking of choosing someone else as speaker. No one else could have held them together in this process like she did.

KEILAR: I think some people who had doubts now understand that she's the person they want for this job. There are a lot of politicians, Jim, who are -- they're debating this idea of are senators impartial jurors. Is that really what this process is like? Is it like Mitch McConnell says, I'm not an impartial juror. Chuck Schumer has taken issue with that and all Democrats have. But let's listen to Chuck Schumer and how -- he's going to change his tune quite a bit on this since 1999.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): The Republican leader said proudly, quote, I'm not an impartial juror. I'm not impartial about this at all. This is an astonishing admission of partisanship.

LARRY KING, CNN HOST: Anybody taking an oath tomorrow can have a pre- opinion. It's not a jury box.

SCHUMER: Many do. This is not a criminal trial but this is something that the founding fathers decided to put in a body that was susceptible to the whims of politics.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KEILAR: He also said that it's not a jury in that senators can be lobbied, they can be called up. I mean, he's making it clear that they are open to influence and that's just fine.

I know it's different because on the House side, they had more witnesses and weren't facing the White House getting in the way of that back in 1988. But at the same time, does this undercut Schumer's argument now?

JIM BAKER, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, certainly, it has left many people confused by exactly what he is saying.

[18:35:02]

I mean, at the end of the day, this is a political process in a sense that the people are the ones who are going to decide whether they think this was a fair trial.

The senators, obviously, they have views, they have political interests, they don't wash their minds of every pre-conceived notion that they had in their head or that they think, but the oath that they're going to swear is to do impartial justice according to the Constitution and laws. That's what they're supposed to do. What they think and their biases and so on, they can't get rid of those. It's not humanly possible. That's not what happens in a criminal trial also. But the question is whether they can focus on the evidence in front of them in a proceeding and apply the law and the Constitution appropriately in accordance with their oath.

KEILAR: I want to ask you, guys, about what may be one of my favorite stories of this holiday weeks. And this is that some conservatives have taken issue with the cut that the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation made to a classic holiday movie. I'm not talking about Die Hard, which is a holiday movie, I just want to put that out there. Home Alone 2 is what we're talking about. And this is the missing scene that has the president and some of his allies all worked up.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KEVIN MCCALLISTER: Excuse me, where's the lobby?

DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: Down the hall and to the left.

KEVIN MCCALLISTER: Thanks.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KEILAR: Okay. So, for the record, the CBC says, you know, actually, this was cut way back in 2014, well before Trump ever ran for office, because it was made to save time, it wasn't essential to the plot. But the president took to Twitter to gripe about this missing cameo. He said, I guess Justin T., not Timberlake, Trudeau, doesn't much like my making him pay up on NATO or the trade.

Then later, he said, the movie will never be the same, just kidding.

VINOGRAD: Okay, I was doing the history, right? I mean, clearly, this cut was made years ago, as you just mentioned. But, Brianna, I mean, seriously, we're talking about the president is fixated on a scene that was cut from a movie, right, because he's not getting enough media attention or something. He has daily opportunities to be in front of live cameras and still acts inappropriately and insults people and is unkind. So this whole thing is so ridiculous.

And the fact that we're talking about it really just shows the level of attention that President Trump pays to such minor things. It's not like he has other work to do right now.

SWERDLICK: I totally get your frustration. This is one time where I'm actually going to say the president hit the right note of humor. Those two tweets weren't that harsh by Trump standards, first of all, and it's a good nature job. But he liked to be in the movies and he misses the fact --

VINOGRAD: That's not presidential.

SWERDLICK: No, I'm not saying it's presidential. But, I mean, when he's calling people names and saying things that are racist and sexist, this is kind of like jab, jab, Justin Trudeau, I got you on NATO. I mean, it's not that bad.

Donald Trump Jr., on the other hand, he had completely out of control snowflakey tweet about this, disproportionate. For once, the president hit it right.

MATTINGLY: Well, look, nobody has proven that Justin Trudeau did not make these cuts, right?

KEILAR: I am picturing him in the edit bay.

MATTINGLY: (INAUDIBLE) that probably has a lot of time on his fans. You don't know that he was not in the editing bay doing this in 2014.

KEILAR: Or he could do it on his iPhone, Phil.

MATTINGLY: So I would like more proof, more investigation on that. But to David's point, actually, the president's tweets are pretty funny and, obviously, Die Hard is a Christmas movie and anybody that thinks otherwise shouldn't even be allowed on your show.

KEILAR: Thank you. I didn't even --

SWERDLICK: Is it a debate?

KEILAR: Yes, no. There's a huge debate. Anyway, what did you think about this?

BAKER: I agree. It seemed like a joke, the way the president raised it. I think some of his supporters have taken it out -- even taken the tweets out of context and made this into more of an issue.

KEILAR: What does that say about wanting to seize something just to be so angry about it, I mean, if the president handle it sort of correctly and his son didn't?

BAKER: Well, that people are ready to leap to his defense, that he has them strongly in his corner.

MATTINGLY: Also, people just need to chill out. This is remarkably dumb, like not actually report it in any way.

KEILAR: But it's dumb. And if you think about it -- no, I agree with you guys. Maybe I'm the one who --

MATTINGLY: So I think this is one of those things, like it's a holiday week, it's a little slow, like hang out with your family, let's me get off the Twitter for a little bit.

KEILAR: Chill out, kick your feet up, watch Home Alone or Home Alone 2, Die Hard, 1, 2, 7, 12, you know, and just enjoy yourself.

VINOGRAD: Relax.

MATTINGLY: Home Alone 1 was better.

KEILAR: Home Alone -- it was pretty -- yes, it was pretty good. This is good, I know. We're actually -- we do have to come back and talk about more news, but maybe we can watch a little -- some Christmas movies in the break.

And just ahead, the historic Trump impeachment battle has two titans of Congress. We're going to look at the dynamic between Pelosi and McConnell.

And find out if you are in the path of a fierce winter storm that is threatening holiday travelers coast-to-coast.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:40:00]

KEILAR: Tonight, two of the most powerful people here in Washington remain locked in a battle as the standoff over impeachment drags on, over impeachment rules, I should say.

CNN's Tom Foreman looks at this epic class between Nancy Pelosi and Mitch McConnell.

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Brianna. You can put aside everything that Donald Trump has said about impeachment. You can put aside everything that pundits have said. What is shaping up here is nonetheless a political brawl like nothing this town has seen in years.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): Frankly, I don't care what the Republicans say.

FOREMAN: She is the master of the House. He is the rule of the Senate.

[18:45:01]

MCCONNELL: The speaker of the House continues to hem and haw.

FOREMAN: And together, Nancy Pelosi and Mitch McConnell are in the heavyweight political fight of their lives with Donald Trump's raging fate at stake.

TRUMP: Americans will show up by the tens of millions next year to vote Pelosi the hell out of office.

FOREMAN: For months, Pelosi has been whipping her Democrats into shape for impeachment, at times, urging caution, at times, confronting Trump herself.

PELOSI: All roads lead to Putin.

FOREMAN: No one gets under his skin more, even when she commented --

PELOSI: And I still pray for the president.

FOREMAN: Trump hit back fast. You know this statement is not true unless it is meant in a negative sense.

MCCONNELL: The Senate must put this right.

FOREMAN: And McConnell is the perfect counterpuncher, a dauntless Trump defender dismissing all accusations, all evidence of wrongdoing and in a body blow aimed at the Democrats promising more of the same when the Senate trial begins.

MCCONNELL: I'm not an impartial juror. This is a political process.

FOREMAN: Their back-and-forth has been jaw dropping. Pelosi holding up the articles of impeachment, insisting McConnell outline rules for the trial that the framers of the Constitution would approve.

PELOSI: They suspected that there could be a rogue president. I don't think they suspected that we'd have a rogue president and a rouge leader in the Senate at the same time.

FOREMAN: McConnell, even with the president demanding quick action, insisting her tactics don't bother him.

MCCONNELL: I'm not sure what leverage there is in refraining from sending us something we do not want.

FOREMAN: All the faints and dodging make it unclear which of them is winning.

Almost certainly, Trump will be acquitted when and if the fight officially moves to McConnell's Republican-controlled Senate.

MCCONNELL: We remain at an impasse.

FOREMAN: But for now, McConnell and Pelosi are each largely keeping their parties in line, landing big punches and the championship rounds are still ahead.

PELOSI: We'll see what they have and we'll be ready for whatever it is.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

FOREMAN: Interestingly, they could both come out winners. Nancy Pelosi clearly has pleased a great many Democrats with her handling of this situation and Mitch McConnell, before it's all done, could get something he would prize very much, too, a pat on the back from Donald Trump -- Brianna.

KEILAR: Foreman, thank you so much.

And just ahead, a series of possible anti-Jewish hate crimes are under investigation in New York. People are responding as the number of incidents is growing.

And we're standing by for information of the fate of seven people on board a tourist helicopter that went down in Hawaii.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:52:02]

KEILAR: We're waiting word on the fate of seven people on board a tourist helicopter that crashed on the Hawaiian island of Kauai. The wreckage was found just a short time ago after an urgent search for the missing chopper went on for hours. Authorities are still looking for possible survivors at the crash site in a state park there. Two of the passengers were children. The Coast Guard says weather conditions were challenging, with low visibility and blustery winds when the helicopter vanished.

In New York City tonight, officials are responding to a disturbing series of possible anti-Semitic hate crimes.

CNN's Polo Sandoval has more now from New York.

Tell us what's going on there, Polo.

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Brianna, the numbers, they are deeply disturbing. Seven reported anti-Semitic incidents in just a week here in New York City. In fact, two of them happened today.

In one, three women claiming they were slapped by a woman in Brooklyn. Police say the female suspect told detectives she simply did it because they were Jewish.

In another incident, a man walked into the global headquarters of the religious movement Chabad in Brooklyn, and allegedly threatened to shoot and kill people inside the center. And tonight, the search is on for that individual.

Four other incidents took place on December 23rd and on the 24th. Also, being investigated by NYPD's hate crime task force. In fact, you're looking at surveillance video of one of them. It captures the attack on Christmas Eve and you can see the man in religious attire being attacked from behind in Brooklyn.

And then yesterday, a Jewish mother reported being verbally and physically assaulted with a bag while she was with her child.

So what's in all this? Regional director for the Anti-Defamation League told me he worries people are simply becoming more numb to this kind of behavior because it's happening so frequently. And that's precisely why the NYPD says that tonight, it is out in full force. It's working with Jewish leaders to try to make sure that their communities feel safe. They feel protected.

Of course, it was just over two weeks ago when that community was shaken by a deadly shooting at a New Jersey kosher market. That attack, Brianna, you recall it was driven by hatred towards police and also Jewish communities, as well -- Brianna.

KEILAR: So alarming, Polo. Thank you for keeping an eye on that story for us. And just ahead, will winter weather disrupt your end of the year

travel plans? We are tracking a storm that could pack a punch from coast to coast.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:57:20]

KEILAR: We're following a significant winter storm that is threatening travelers as it moves across the U.S.

And meteorologist Karen Maginnis is in the CNN weather center, keeping an eye on everything.

Karen, tell us the latest.

KAREN MAGINNIS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Fourteen million people, Brianna, are under the gun as far as the system makes its way all the way from the four corners region of the United States and towards Midwest. Already, some areas into winter storm watches from 6:00 this evening, local time, until the early morning hours of Monday.

Let's track it. Area of low pressure develops across the interior west. Pulls into the central U.S. Now, out ahead of it, we've got lots of rain. The temperatures are running a good 15 to 20 degrees above where they should be for this time of year, in Chicago and St. Louis and little rock, just about everywhere you look at just to the east of the Mississippi and across the Midwest, exceptionally mild.

This area of low pressure begins to trek toward the Midwest, upper Mississippi River Valley, and there we could see, in some cases, as much as 18 inches of snowfall. Now, not everybody, and a lot of these are low-population areas. But that doesn't mean if you're a traveler, that you can forget about this, because those roads are going to be deeply impacted.

We saw numerous reports of problematic areas right around the grapevine in California. Also, some of the roads in Colorado affected as well. Also, into Wyoming. We've had snow reports of more than a foot of snow in southern sections of Colorado already.

OK. Here we go. All these areas from the Wasatch (ph), they could see a little bit of snowfall also into the Front Range, extending up towards Minnesota. If you are headed towards Duluth, watch out. It is going to be very treacherous on the roadways.

They're advising, if you don't need to go out on the roadways, don't, because those roads are extremely slippery and very dangerous. Right now, we've got icy situation across western sections of Nebraska. But just wait. That's going to change over to snowfall.

And northern sections of North and South Dakota, that's where we're going to see the heaviest snowfall. What about these temperatures? Right now, Chicago's 34. Kind of chilly. Right now, in Atlanta, it is 64. But these temperatures are 10 to 20 degrees above where they should

be. But coming up, we look at Chicago. It will be in the 30s going into Monday as the frontal system sweeps by some of the areas there could see near-blizzard conditions, whiteout conditions, and extremely dangerous road conditions.

Brianna, not a time for holiday travelers.

KEILAR: Oh, no, indeed. That is not going to be what they want to hear, Karen. But thank you so much for keeping an eye on that and bringing us that updated forecast. We really appreciate it.

I'm Brianna Keilar. Happy holidays and thank you so much for watching.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now with Kate Bolduan.