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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
Fourth Day in Impeachment Testimony Against President Trump. Aired 6-7p ET
Aired January 24, 2020 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
That question wasn't a hypothetical. The framers had just rebelled against England where one man, the king, was in fact above justice. By authorizing Congress to remove presidents from egregious misconduct, the framers rejected that model.
Unlike Britain's king, the president would answer to Congress and thus to the nation if he engaged in serious wrongdoing because the impeachment power exists not to punish the president but to check presidents. It can't function if presidents are free to ignore all congressional investigation and oversight.
An impeachment scholar Frank Bowman said this, without the power to compel compliance with subpoenas and the concomitant right to impeach a president for refusal to comply, the impeachment power would be nullified.
So, the consequences of presidential obstruction go beyond any particular impeachment inquiry. They go to the heart of the impeachment power itself. They weaken our shield against a dangerous or corrupt president.
Now, of course, presidents are still free to raise privacy, national security or other concerns in the course of an impeachment inquiry. There's room for good-faith negotiations over what evidence will be disclosed. There's -- although there is a strong presumption in favor of full compliance with congressional subpoenas.
But when a president abuses his office, abuses his power to completely defy House investigators and impeachment inquiry, when he does that without lawful cause or excuse, he attacks the Constitution itself. When he does that, he confirms that he sees himself as above the law.
President Nixon's case is informative. As noted, President Nixon let his senior officials testify. He produced many documents. He did not direct anything like a blanket, indiscriminate block of the House's impeachment inquiry. He still did defy subpoena seeking records and recordings of the Oval Office.
Now, President Nixon claimed that his noncompliance was legally defensible. He invoked the doctrine of executive privilege. The Judiciary Committee rejected that excuse. The committee emphasized that, quote, "the doctrine of separation of powers cannot justify the withholding of information from an impeachment inquiry." After all, the very purpose of such an inquiry is to permit the House, acting on behalf of the people, to curb the excesses of another branch, in this instance, the Executive. Quote, "whatever the limits of legislative power in other contexts and whatever need may otherwise exist for preserving the confidentiality of presidential conversations in the context of an impeachment proceeding, the balance was struck in favor of the power of inquiry when the impeachment provision was written into the Constitution."
Now, ultimately, the Committee approved an article against Nixon because he sought to prevent the House from exercising its constitutional duty. Article III charged Nixon with abusing his power by interfering with the discharge of the Judiciary Committee's responsibility to investigate fully and completely whether he had committed high crimes and misdemeanors.
President Nixon's third article of impeachment explained it this way. Quote, "in refusing to produce these papers and things, Richard M. Nixon, substituting his judgment as to what materials were necessary for the inquiry, interposed the powers of the Presidency against the lawful subpoenas of the House of Representatives, thereby assuming to himself functions and judgments necessary to the exercise of the sole power of impeachment vested by the Constitution in the House of Representatives."
In all of this, Richard M. Nixon acted contrary, in a matter, contrary to his trust as president subversive of constitutional government to the great prejudice of
the cause of law and justice and to manifest injury of the people of the United States. President Nixon's case powerfully supports the conclusion that presidential defiance of the House impeachment inquiry constitutes high crimes and misdemeanors.
I've been thinking a lot about the founders. I've been rereading the Constitution and the notes from the constitutional convention. It was just a little over 230 years ago that they met in Philadelphia, not too far from here. They've been at it for a long time. They didn't know whether the Constitution they were trying to write would sustain freedom. But they were trying to create a completely different type of government.
On July 20th, Gouverneur Morris said this, the magistrate is not the king. The people are the king." George Mason of Virginia on that same day said, shall any man be above justice? Above all that man may be above it who can commit the most extensive injustice? And Eldridge Gerry argued that he hoped that the maxim that the chief magistrate could do no wrong would never be adopted here.
Finally, on September 8th, they adopted the impeachment clause in the U.S. Constitution. But I hope that we will remember the admonition that we should never accept the fact that the magistrate, the president can do no wrong. They crafted the Constitution to protect our liberty and the liberty of those who will follow us. Professor Noah Feldman talked about the Constitution in his testimony before the House.
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FELDMAN: A president who says, as this president did say, I will not cooperate in any way, shape or form with your process, robs a coordinate branch of government and he robs the House of Representatives of its basic constitutional power of impeachment.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LOFGREN: A president who does that also endangers the American people by stripping away the Constitution's final safeguard against presidents who abuse power and harm the nation. Such a president acts like a king, which the founders were fighting against. That's what they wrote out of the Constitution.
A president cannot be immune from oversight, accountability and even simple justice in the exercise of the powers entrusted to him. We can't let that stand in this case. The president must forfeit the powers that he's abused and be removed from office.
_Jan 25, 2020 11:40 ET .EOF _ _JEFFRIES: Mr. Chief Justice, distinguished members of the Senate, counsel for the president, my colleagues, the American people who are assembled here today, I think we I think we have our next break scheduled for within the hour. And so, I find myself in the unenviable position of being the only thing standing between you and our dinner.
But be not discouraged because I'm going to try to follow the advice of a former Sunday school teacher of mine. I grew up in the Cornerstone Baptist Church in Brooklyn. She said, Jeffries, on the question of public presentations, be brief, be bright, and be gone. And so, I'm going to try to do my best.
Presidents are required to comply with impeachment subpoenas. This president has completely defied them. That conduct alone is a high crime and misdemeanor. The facts here are not really in dispute.
President Trump's defense appears to be, I can do whatever I want to do.
Only I can fix it. I am the chosen one.
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TRUMP: Then I have an Article II where I have the right to do whatever I want as president. Nobody knows the system better than me. Which is why I alone can fix it. Somebody had to do it. I am the chosen one. Somebody had to do it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JEFFRIES: Is that who we are as a democracy? President Trump can address the substance of our case. He therefore complains about process.
But these procedural complaints are baseless excuses and they do not justify his attempts to hide the truth from Congress and from the American people. The president's arguments fail for four simple reasons.
First, the House, not the president has the sole power of impeachment and the sole power to determine the rules of its proceedings. That's Article 1 Section 2 of the Constitution.
Second, President Trump's due process argument has no basis in law, no basis in fact, no basis in the Constitution. President Trump may not preemptively deny any and all cooperation to the house and then assert that the House's procedures are illegitimate because they lack his cooperation.
Third, President Trump's claim that he is being treated differently completely lacks merit. Despite what he contends, the house provided President Trump with greater protection than what was given to both President Nixon and President Clinton. The fact that President Trump failed to take advantage of these procedural protections does not mean they did not exist.
President Trump is not the first president to complain about House procedures. He won't be the last. He's not the first one to challenge the motives of any investigational or certainly an impeachment inquiry. Such complaints of standard operating procedure from the article to executive branch.
President Johnson, President Nixon, President Clinton had plenty of complaints, but no president -- no president -- no president has treated such objections as a basis for withholding evidence, let alone categorically defying every single subpoena. None, except Donald John Trump.
Finally, the obligations are complied when an impeachment subpoena is unyielding. It does not dissipate because the president believes health committees should invite different witnesses, give his defender -- defenders unfettered subpoena power or involve his personal lawyers at the deposition stage of the process when that has never been done.
And if a president can defy Congress on such fragile grounds, then it is difficult to imagine why any future president, whatever comply with an impeachment or investigative subpoena again.
Throughout our history, impeachments have been rare. And the Supreme Court has made it clear that it's wary of intruding on matters of impeachment. This, of course, leaves room for interbranch negotiation. But it does not allow the president to engage in blanket defiance.
President Trump's objections are not genuinely rooted in the law, they are not good faith legal arguments. We know that because President Trump said early on, he would fight all subpoenas.
We know that because he declared the impeachment inquiry illegitimate before it even adopted any procedures. We know that because he has denounced every single effort to investigate him as a witch hunt. And we know that because he
never even claimed executive privilege during the entire impeachment proceeding.
President Trump's first excuse for obstructing Congress, this is a certain ph belief that he did nothing wrong, that his July 25th call with President Zelensky was perfect.
In the October 8th letter sent by counsel, President Trump asserted the prerogative to defy all House subpoenas because he has declared his own innocence.
As Mr. Cipollone put it, at President Trump's behest, the president did nothing wrong and there is no basis for an impeachment inquiry.
He had the White House counsel include this in a formal letter to the House, defying every single subpoena. As we have shown in our discussion on the first article of impeachment, these claims of innocence are baseless. They lack merit. We have provided overwhelming evidence of President Trump's guilt.
President cannot lawfully obstruct the House impeachment inquiry because he sees no need to be investigated. One of the most sacred principles of justice is that no man should be the judge in his own case. And yet, that is exactly what President Trump has been determined to do.
But this is America. He cannot be judged jury and executioner. Moreover, the president cannot simply claim innocence and then walk away from a constitutionally mandated process.
Even president Nixon did not do that as we have previously established. Congress as a constitutional responsibility to serve as a check and balance on an out-of-control Executive Branch. Our responsibility is not to this president, it is to the American people.
Blanket presidential defiance would bring a swift halt to all Congressional oversight of the executive. That principle would have authorized categorical obstruction in the impeachments of President Johnson, President Nixon, and President Clinton. In each of those cases, the House was controlled by a different party than the presidency.
And the president attacked those inquiries as partisan. Yet those presidents did not view their concerns with excessive partisanship as a basis for defying every single subpoena. The purpose of impeachment inquiry is for the House to collect evidence to determine on behalf of the American people whether the president may have committed an impeachable offense because the Constitution vests the House with the soul power of impeachment.
The president who serves as the judge of his own innocence is not acting as a president, that's a dictator. That's a despot. That is not democracy.
The president also believes it appears that his blanket obstruction was justified because the House did not expressly adopt the resolution authorizing an impeachment inquiry or properly delegate such investigative powers to its committees.
Now, the full House voted in January in advance of the inquiry to adopt rules authorizing committees to conduct the investigations, issue subpoenas, gather documents, and hear testimony.
Beginning in the spring and summer of 2019, evidence came to light that President Trump and his associates might have been seeking the assistance of another foreign government, Ukraine, to influence the upcoming 2020 election.
On September 9th, the House investigating committees announced they were launching a joint investigation. They requested records from the White House and the Department of State. This investigation was consistent with all rules approved by the full House. At the same time, evidence emerged that the president may have attempted to cover up his actions and prevent the transmission of a whistleblower complaint to the Intelligence Committee of the Senate and the House.
Given the gravity of these allegation and the immediacy of the threat to the next presidential election, the speaker of the House, a constitutional officer explicitly named in Article I, announced on September 24th that the house would begin a formal impeachment inquiry. There is nothing in the Constitution, nothing in federal law, nothing in Supreme Court jurisprudence that required a formal vote at the time.
The president has put forth fake arguments about process because he cannot defend the substance of these allegations. Following the announcement of the impeachment inquiry, the house investigating committees issued additional requests and then subpoenas for document and testimony.
The committees made clear that this information will be collected as part of the House's impeachment inquiry and shared among committees, as well as with the committee on the Judiciary as appropriate. Then on October 31st, the full house voted to approve House Resolution 660 which directed the House committees to continue their ongoing investigations as part of the existing inquiry into whether sufficient grounds exist for the House of Representatives exercise its constitutional power to impeach Donald John Trump.
In addition to affirming the ongoing House impeachment inquiry, H. Res. 660 set forth procedures for open hearings in the Intelligence Committee and for additional proceedings in a Judiciary Committee. Every step in this process was fully consistent with the Constitution, the rules of the House and House precedent. The House's autonomy to structure its own proceedings for an impeachment inquiry is grounded in the Constitution. The president's principle argument to the contrary is that no committee of the House was permitted to investigate any presidential misconduct until the full House acted.
As a federal district court recently confirmed, the notion that a full House vote is required to authorize an impeachment inquiry has no textual support in the U.S. Constitution or the governing rules of the House. The investigations into misconduct by Pres. Andrew Johnson, Nixon and Clinton all began prior to the House's consideration and approval of a resolution authorizing the investigation.
Recently, under Republican control, the Judiciary Committee considered the impeachment of the Commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service following a referral from another committee and absent a full vote of the house for an impeachment inquiry. There is no merit to President Trump's argument that the full House had to vote.
The sequence of events in this particular case largely track those in the Nixon proceedings. There the -- the House Judiciary's proceedings began in October of 1973 when resolutions calling for President Nixon's impeachment were introduced in the House and referred to the Judiciary Committee.
Over the next several months, the Committee investigated the Watergate break-in and coverup, among other matters using its existing investigatory authority. The committee also hired a special counsel and other attorneys to assist in these efforts. Most importantly, all of these occurred before the House approved a resolution, directing the Judiciary Committee to investigate whether grounds to impeach Richard Nixon existed.
In this instance, the committees began the investigation with their existing powers authorized by the full House. That course of events is entirely consistent with the Richard Nixon president. It is also common sense, after all, before voting to conduct an impeachment inquiry, the house must ascertain the nature and seriousness of the allegations and the scope of the inquiry that may follow thereafter.
President Trump's second excuse also fails.
Let's now adjust the president's so-called due process and fairness arguments. The president has raised some of his complaints in the language of due process. He has complained that the procedures were not fair even though they reflect prior practice and strike a reasonable balance between presidential involvement on the one hand and the House's obligation to find the truth on the other.
Presidents come and presidents go. They have all sharply criticized House procedures but no president has ever treated those objections as a basis for complete defiant. No president has ever done that. In the context of a House impeachment inquiry, it's fair to say that a president is a suspect, a suspect who may have committed a high crime or misdemeanor. He cannot tell the detectives investigating the possible constitutional crime what they should do in the context of their investigation.
In the president's October 8th letter, Mr. Cipollone complains that he was denied the most basic protections demanded by the process under the Constitution and by fundamental fairness including the right to cross-examine witnesses, to call witnesses, to receive transcripts of testimony, to have access to evidence and have council president -- present. It sounds terrible, but it's not accurate.
The president appears to have mistaken the initial phases of the impeachment inquiry for a full-blown trial. The trial phase of the impeachment inquiry is taking place right now.
Chairman Peter Rodino of the Judiciary Committee once observed, as it relates to the impeachment proceedings against President Nixon, it not a right but a privilege or a courtesy for the president to participate through a counsel. And impeachment inquiry is not a trial, rather, it entails a collection and evaluation of facts before the trial occurs.
In that respect, the House acts like a grand jury or a prosecutor investigating the evidence to determine whether charges are warranted or not.
Federal grand juries and prosecutors do not allow targets of their investigation to coordinate witness testimony to protections that the president label as due process, label as the process. Do not apply here because those entitlements that he sought, many of which were actually afforded to him, but those entitlements that he sought would not necessarily be available to any American in a grand jury investigation.
Moreover, it should be clear that the House, notwithstanding this framework, has typically provided a level of transparency and impeachment inquiries particularly as it relates to presidents. And past impeachment inquiries, this has typically meant that the principal evidence relied upon by the House Judiciary Committee is disclosed to the president and to the public though some evidence in past proceedings has actually remained confidential.
The president has typically been given an opportunity to participate in the proceedings at a stage when evidence has been fully gathered and presented to the Judiciary Committee. President Trump was given the chance to do that in this case, but he declined.
Presidents have been entitled to present evidence that is relevant to the inquiry
and to request that relevant witnesses be called. President Trump was given the chance to do that in the House impeachment inquiry before the Judiciary Committee, but he declined.
Under House Resolution 660, President Trump received procedural protections not just equal to, but in some instances, greater than that afforded to Presidents Nixon and Clinton. So, let's be clear. The privileges described in the October 8th letter were, in fact, offered to president Trump as they had been in prior impeachment inquiries.
The president was able to review all evidence relied on by the House investigating committees including evidence that the minority's public report identified as favorable to President Trump. During the Judiciary Committee proceedings, the president had opportunities to present evidence, call witnesses, have counsel present to raise objections, cross-examine witnesses, and respond to the evidence raised against him.
As the Rules Committee report accompanying House Resolution 660 noted, these privileges are commensurate with the inquiry process followed in the cases of Nixon and Clinton. President Trump simply chose not to avail himself of what have been offered.
The fact that President Trump declined to take advantage of these protections does not excuse his blanket unconstitutional obstruction unlike the Nixon and Clinton impeachments. In this particular instance, the argument that the president has made, the argument that he has made as it relates to the investigative process is not analogous.
In this case, the House conducted a significant portion of the factual investigation itself because no independent prosecutor was appointed to investigate the allegations of wrongdoing against President Trump.
Attorney General William Barr refused to authorize a criminal investigation and to the serious allegations of misconduct against the president. They tried to white wash the whole sordid affair.
Left at their own devices, the House investigative committees followed standard best practices for investigations consistent with the law enforcement investigations into Presidents Nixon and Clinton in advance of their impeachments.
The committees released transcripts of all interviews and depositions conducted during the investigation -- during the investigation. More than 100 members of the House participated in the so-called closed- door proceedings. More than 100 members of the House, 47 of whom were republicans.
They all had the opportunity to ask questions. They all had the opportunity to ask questions with equal time. Intelligence committee held public hearings where 12 of the key witnesses testified including several requested by the House Republicans.
It is important to note that the very same procedures in House Resolution 660, when supported by acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney when he served as a member of the Oversight Committee and by the Secretary of State Mike Pompeo when he served as a member of the select Committee on Benghazi.
(START VIDEO CLIP) GOWDY: To ph tell you in the private interviews, there is never any of which you saw Thursday. It is one hour on the Republican side, one hour on the Democrat side which is why you're going to see the next two dozen interviews done privately because it is -- I mean, look at the other investigations that are being done right now, that the lowest learner investigation that was just announced, was public or private?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JEFFRIES: If this process was good enough for other presidents, why isn't it good enough for President Trump? Representative Gowdy finished that statement by saying,
the private ones have always produced the best results. The private ones, according to Trey Gowdy have always produced the best results.
President Trump complained that his counsel was not afforded the opportunity to participate during the Intel committee's proceedings. But neither President Nixon nor President Clinton were permitted to have counsel participate in the initial fact-gathering stages when they were investigated.
By special counsel, independent counsel. President Nixon certainly had no attorney present when the prosecutors and grand juries began collecting evidence about Watergate and related matters. President Nixon did not have an attorney president (sic) in this distinguished body when the Senate select committee on Watergate began interviewing witnesses and holding public hearings nor did President Clinton have an attorney present when prosecutors from the Office of Independent Counsel, Kenneth Starr, deposed witnesses and elicited their testimony before a grand jury.
President Trump's attorney could have cross-examined the Intel committees counsel during his presentation of evidence before the House Judiciary Committee. That would have functioned as the equivalent opportunity afforded to President Clinton to have his counsel cross-examine Kenneth Starr which he did, at length.
President Trump was provided a level of transparency and the opportunity to participate consistent with the highest standards of due process and fairness given to other president who found themselves in the midst of an impeachment inquiry.
The president -- and I'm winding down -- the president's next procedural complaint is that it was unconstitutional to exclude agency counsel from participating in congressional depositions.
The basis for the rule excluding agency counsel is straightforward. It prevents agency officials who are directly implicated in the abuses Congress is investigating from trying to prevent their own employees from coming forward to tell Congress and the American people the truth. It's common sense. The rule protects the rights of witnesses by allowing them to be accompanied and depositioned by personal counsel, a right that was afforded to all of the witnesses who appeared in this matter.
Agency attorneys have been excluded from congressional depositions of Executive Branch officials for decades under both Republicans and Democrats including Republican Chairman Dan Burton, Republican chairman Darrell Issa, Republican Chairman Jason Chaffetz, Republican Chairman Trey Gowdy, Republican Chairman Kevin Brady, and Republican Chairman Jeb Hensarling, just to name a few.
Again, the Constitution provides the house with the sole power of impeachment and the sole authority to determine the rules of its proceedings which were fair to all involved.
Given the Constitution's clarity on this point, the president's argument that he can engage in blanket obstruction is just dead wrong. President Trump also objects the House minority lacks efficient subpoena rights but the subpoena rules that were applied in the Trump impeachment inquiry were put into place by my good friends and colleagues on the other side of the aisle, House Republicans when they were in the majority.
We are playing by the same rules, devised by our Republican colleagues. President Nixon
did not engage in blanket obstruction. President Clinton did not engage in blanket obstruction. No president of the United States has ever acted this way.
Lastly, we should reject President Trump's suggestion that he can conceal all evidence of misconduct based on unspecified confidentiality interests. Those are his exact words. Confidentiality interests.
But not once in the entire impeachment inquiry did he ever actually invoke executive privilege. Perhaps that's because executive privilege cannot be invoked to conceal evidence of wrongdoing.
Perhaps, that's because the executive privilege does not permit blanket obstruction that includes blocking documents and witnesses from the entire executive branch. Perhaps President Trump didn't invoke executive privilege because it has never been accepted as a sufficient basis for completely and totally define all impeachment inquiries and subpoenas or perhaps President Trump didn't invoke executive privilege because when President Nixon did so, he lost decisively unanimously, clearly, before the Supreme Court.
Whatever the explanation, President Trump never invoked executive privilege so it is not a credible defense to his obstruction of Congress. President Trump has lastly suggested that his obstruction is justified because his top aides are absolutely immune from being compelled to testify before Congress. Every federal court to consider, the so-called doctrine of absolute immunity has rejected it. 2008, a federal court rejected in assertion by the 43rd president of the United States that White House Counsel Harriet Miers was immune from being compelled to testify noting that the president had failed to point to a single judicial opinion to justify that claim.
And on November 25th of last year, another federal judge rejected President Trump's claim of absolute immunity for former White House counsel, Don McGann.
The court concluded Executive Branch officials are not absolutely immune from compulsory Congressional process no matter how many times the Executive Branch has asserted as much over the years even if the president expressly directs such officials not to comply.
The court added, simply stated the primary takeaway from the past 250 some odd years of recorded American history is that presidents are not kings. The president is not a king.
President Trump tried to cheat. He got caught. And then he worked hard to cover it up. He must be held accountable for abusing his power. He must be held accountable for obstructing Congress. He must be held accountable for breaking his promise to the American people.
(START VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: My foreign policy will always put the interests of the American people and American security above all this. It has to be first. It has to be. That will be the foundation of every single decision that I will make.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JEFFRIES: What does it mean to put America first? America is a great country, but above all else, I think America is an idea, a precious idea, an idea that
has withstood the test of time. An enduring idea.
Year after year, decade after decade, century after century, as we continue along necessary and majestic march toward a more perfect union. America is an idea. One person, one vote
Liberty and justice for all. Equal protection under the law. Government of the people, by the people, and for the people. The preeminence of the rule of law. America is an idea.
We can either defend that idea or we can abandon it. God help us all if we choose to abandon it.
J. ROBERTS: The leader is recognized.
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): Mr. Chief Justice, we'll take a 30- minute break for dinner.
ROBERTS: Without objection? So ordered.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: All right. Very strong words from Representative Hakeem Jeffries. Very strong words from Zoe Lofgren, from Adam Schiff. They're accusing the president of the United States of abuse of power, high crimes and mis -- high crimes and misdemeanors.
Zoe Lofgren saying that he failed faithfully to obey the laws of the United States and the Constitution. Adam Schiff, the lead House manager, saying the president of the United States, in his words, is an imminent threat to our democracy.
They didn't mince any words at all. They still have another three hours to go.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: No, and beyond the interpretations and beyond their arguments, there are the facts that they laid out which were accurate. I mean, the facts are that the previous chairs of the House Intelligence Committee had -- Republican ones, held their hearings behind closed doors with the same basic rules that Adam Schiff held these hearings, and the facts are that the stonewalling, the denial of documents that we have seen from the Trump administration, just as a matter of factuality, is way beyond anything we saw from any previous president including two previous presidents charged in impeachments with obstruction of Congress, Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton.
Let's talk about this, though, if we can with a couple of the legal experts.
Shan, you're new here. Let's ask you. When they say that the Trump administration has just done a blanket rejection, and you can't even compare it to Nixon and Clinton, explain what that means and do you agree?
SHAN WU, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I agree. They're trying to lay the foundation for what they expect is coming up, all these attacks on the process. They want to preemptively do that.
But I'll tell you one thing, the lack of trial lawyer experience is beginning to show a little bit. What they really need to do make that point is they do have to lay some legal foundation, they need to turn the corner, make it more pointed and say, you're going to hear from the president's lawyers that the president has a right too executive privilege. When they tell you that, I want to you remember what I am telling you. He has never invoked it.
They need to point it that way, put them in a box, so they have to react to them. They got to lay the foundation. And hopefully later tonight, they'll turn the corner and make it a little bit more pointed.
TAPPER: And, Carrie, we've also seen, I mean, the president's counsel, White House counsel, Pat Cipollone, went to the floor of the house earlier this week and lied. He said that none of the Republicans were allowed into that hearing room for the deposition, just factually inaccurate. All the members, Democrats and Republicans of three committees were allowed, including I think 48 Republicans.
CARRIE CORDERO, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Right. So we'll see tomorrow. It's interesting, I don't think that the White House lawyers and the lawyers defending the president actually have to take an oath before they appear tomorrow. And I think that freeze them up a little bit to potentially do the same type of thing.
But what I really thought the takeaway from the last few hours was, was the case that the house managers were trying to make in terms of if the Senate doesn't accept this article on obstruction, it will fundamentally, they're arguing, change the country. It will change how the branches work together. It will change whether a president ever has to answer questions or subpoenas to Congress. And it will change the foundational balance between these branches of government and whether or not a president ever can be held accountable.
And I think that was the main point that they were trying to impress upon the senators today.
BLITZER: Nia, the Democratic House members, they have another three hours tonight to finish up. They've had 24 hours over three days, the Republican White House lawyers will start tomorrow morning.
This is really their last opportunity to try to convince let's say four Republican senators to support a resolution that would call for witnesses.
NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: And sort of who does the duty, sort of the cleanup duty, the closing duty. We've heard from Adam Schiff today, Hakeem Jeffries, in emotional, you know, presentations, I think all afternoon and into the evening.
So we'll see who comes up. It will probably be Schiff. I mean, he's the impeachment manager. He's done a couple of more hours. This is their last bite at the apple.
I do think, you know, as Carrie said, they are trying to set up this whole idea of this is a precedent you are setting not only in terms of the relationship that the executive branch has to Congress but also what a president is allowed to do, right?
Is a president now allowed to call on a foreign country and say that this foreign country or foreign leader can interfere in American election? What does that mean for American democracy? They're trying to make the stakes very big.
TAPPER: And, Jamie, before they got to the obstruction charges, the article two, in article one, they were talking about the threat that they say President Trump poses to national security. I want you to take a listen to this one part where they played a tape
of Senator John McCain, the late Senator John McCain, Republican, and -- of Arizona, and how he talked about the importance of Ukraine as a counterweight to Russia.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): One American, a war hero and statesman who is no stranger to this body, recognized the threat posed by Russia's invasion of Crimea, Senator John McCain. This strong bipartisan support for Ukraine reflected what Senator McCain said was the opportunity for United States to undermine leverage in Eastern Europe by building, quote, a success in Ukraine. Senator McCain outlined this vision.
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ): Putin also sees, here's this beautiful and large and magnificent country called Ukraine. And suppose Ukraine finally after failing in 2004 gets it right, democracy gets rid of corruption, economy's really improving and it's right there on the border of Russia? So I think it makes him very nervous if there were a success in Ukraine in bringing about a free and open society and economic success, which is not the case in Russia as you know which is propped up by energy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Now, a lot of Republicans were critical of Obama administrations for not providing lethal aid that the Ukrainians wanted. And that's the aid we're talking about here. Why do you think that was important?
JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: It was clearly important on the issue. He spoke to exactly what was going on, but I think it was important on a completely different level. And that was John McCain, someone who has gone up against Donald Trump someone who you have to wonder today what would John McCain be doing and saying? What did -- how did the Republicans, Lindsey Graham, react to seeing that?
So, I think it was both substantive, but it had an emotional impact on them. You notice that Congressman Schiff has said repeatedly, have some courage. John McCain was the have some courage moment.
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: They need four votes. And several of the votes they might get, or the targeting, were friends of John McCain. John McCain was respected across the Senate, but if you're talking about Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski --
KING: -- two very close friends of John McCain.
KING: Rob Portman, Lamar Alexander respects him very much. There have been several different ways where the Democrats essentially, you all say this privately, we know it, you don't like the way this president conducts business, you don't like the way the president undermined Ukraine here, have the courage to buck your leadership and buck your president. That's what that was.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: And I also -- I also think this afternoon, later this afternoon, was about telling the American public that we, meaning the House Democrats, we played by the rules and they outlined in chapter and verse how they played by the rules. But this president did not play by the rules. And he has been worse than any president in history or anybody that they've tried to subpoena or get before the American Congress. It makes the Richard Nixon, you know, 18-minute gap look like nothing here.
And they're saying, you know, this is blanket obstruction. You can't do -- you can't claim privilege when you're engaging in obstruction. And they're doing their prebuttal tonight which I think Shan was talking about saying I think Schiff will probably go into that in greater detail. But they wanted to tell the American public we were not unfair. We did this in a fair way and the White House and the president in particular decided it wasn't going to work for them, so they didn't cooperate.
TAPPER: And, Alan, you're the former Senate parliamentarian, the argument that is being made on the second article of impeachment, obstruction of Congress, the argument if you let this happen, if you basically sanction this, codify this, you are forever letting the executive branch run roughshod over the legislative branch.
Do you think that is a compelling one for U.S. senators?
ALAN FRUMIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: For a parliamentarian, process is everything. And that's what the second article is all about. I think there's a great deal of merit in the case that the House managers are laying out.
I predict in the next several days, we'll see a lot more of the chief justice. I think procedurally, things are going way too smoothly, and I think you're looking at 24 hours of a presentation on the part of the president's counsel, 16 hours of questions, and then 4 hours on debating whether or not to debate whether there will be motions to subpoena witnesses and documents. There's an awful lot in there for, grist for procedural battles. I think you'll see the chief justice getting involved whether he wants to or not. I think it's time he earns his keep.
BLITZER: Dana Bash has been up on Capitol Hill. She's been there all she'd been there all these days.
So, Dana, what are you seeing over there? What are you hearing? What's the mood?
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, first of all, people are hungry. That went pretty late. So, they're diving into their dinner break. But, you know, we talked a little bit before the trial resumed this
evening about the fact that we were going to hear as we did the arguments that the House managers were going to make for the second article, for obstruction of Congress. And I was in the chamber for a lot of Jerry Nadler's argument. The fact at one point he got pretty close again to admonishing the Senate by saying if you don't support the legislative branch's ability and right and responsibility to keep the executive branch in check, history will not look kindly on you.
I was watching to see the reaction of some Republicans on that. They were a little bit stone-faced on that, particularly those Republicans like Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins who Democrats are trying to get on board.
One thing I want to tell you is I just spoke briefly with Senator Joe Manchin. He's a Democrat and comes from a state where Donald Trump won by 43 percentage points. He said he was listening very carefully.
And he, number one, supports the idea of witnesses but number two is saying that he is very, you know, open-minded about maybe splitting. He's going to take each article separately, and it is possible that he could vote yes, for example, on article one and no on article two or, you know, vice versa.
So, again, those Democrats, there aren't a lot of them, moderate Democrats, but they're the ones we should also keep in mind and keep our eyes on in addition to the Republicans -- Jake.
TAPPER: Thank you, Dana Bash.
Once again underlying that how difficult the math is on this, Jamie Gangel, the idea they need to get 67 Republicans and Democrats to vote to remove the president. Forget the 51 vote hurdle which they're having trouble getting four Republicans to join, 47 Democrats, Dana saying, they might not even get 47 Democrats to get to vote for more witnesses, although I don't know that I think we'll get the witnesses, but for the removal of the president, that's impossible.
GANGEL: I think that would require something we don't know right now happening for them to hold hands and jump like that to get to that level.
I do want to say there's a little bit of through the looking glass. We see Donald Trump's Twitter feed. But I think it's worth taking a look at the White House, the official Twitter feed that we all pay for. And they're already putting on their case, including saying that president Trump has unequivocally denounced foreign interference in our elections and accepted the conclusions of the intelligence community.
Except I think we all remember, Russia are you listening?
TAPPER: Forget that. How about Helsinki, he stood next to Putin and said, I don't know why Putin would lie to me. He says it was Ukraine.
GANGEL: And China.
BLITZER: Not only that, when he was standing next to Putin saying he believes Putin, by name he mentioned the director of national intelligence, Dan Coats --
TAPPER: Now former.
BLITZER: Now former, a former U.S. senator, a former U.S. ambassador, but he mentioned Dan Coats by name. Can you imagine -- we were there, you and I were there in Helsinki when he did that.
TAPPER: Basically saying he trusts Putin --
BLITZER: More than Dan Coats.
TAPPER: -- more than his own director of national intelligence.
KING: But that is telling though, that a Twitter feed, by the White House, to counter that. They say that today, and that was a humiliating moment. The president of the United States standing there essentially repeating Russian propaganda and the White House is trying to, for the Trump base, say, no, no, look at this, not that.
GANGEL: Erase history.
BLITZER: A lot happening so far. Good working with you.
TAPPER: Thank you so much.
BLITZER: We'll do it again. We got a lot going on over the weekend.
In the meantime, Erin Burnett picks up our special coverage.