Return to Transcripts main page

State of the Union

Interview With Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC); Interview With Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY). Aired 9-10a ET

Aired December 08, 2019 - 09:00   ET




DANA BASH, CNN HOST (voice-over): Are you ready? House Democrats are poised to impeach President Trump, with leaders in the process of drafting articles now.

REP. JERROLD NADLER (D-NY): If what we're talking about is not impeachable, then nothing impeachable.

BASH: But is their party in lockstep about how to do it? House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler is here to discuss.

And make or break. President Trump writes off his likely impeachment and looks ahead to a Senate trial.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There was no crime whatsoever, not even a little tiny crime.

BASH: How are the president's closest allies preparing to defend him?

I'll ask Republican Congressman Mark Meadows.

Plus, the gloves are off. The 2020 campaign trail gets hot.


BASH: And Mayor Pete Buttigieg feels the pressure of a campaign on the rise.

PETE BUTTIGIEG (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: First of all, we got to win. No question about that.

BASH: With primaries right around the corner, who can emerge from the free-for-all.


BASH: Hello. I'm Dana Bash, in for Jake Tapper in Washington, where the state of our union is crossing a threshold.

Those are the words of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, whose team of top Democrats is working all weekend on articles of impeachment against President Trump. The first votes on those articles could come this week. It is now

almost certain that Donald J. Trump will become the third U.S. president to be impeached by the House of Representatives.

The president's legal team signaled it will not participate in the House process, which the president again yesterday called a continuation of a three-year witch-hunt. Instead, his team is looking ahead to a trial in the Republican-controlled Senate.

But the action now is in the House, where lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are preparing. Yesterday, Democrats released a report outlining the historical arguments for impeachment. And, this weekend, they're holding mock hearings, getting ready to lay out their case tomorrow in what they're calling a public trial, that as some moderate Democrats are expressing concerns about the scope of impeachment, warning that expanding the focus could make them vulnerable in their home districts.

Up next, I'll talk to the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.

But, right away, we're going to talk to Congressman Mark Meadows.

Thank you so much for coming in. Appreciate it.

You, of course, are from North Carolina. You're one of the president's closest confidants in Congress and in general.

And I want to talk about the substance of the impeachment inquiry, really focus on that.

The president asked a leader of a foreign country to investigate his political rival. So, one simple question to start, is that appropriate?

REP. MARK MEADOWS (R-NC): Well, one, he didn't do that. I don't agree with your premise. He talked about investigations.

If you look at the -- the transcript, I think he said, will you do us a favor, based on the United States going through a lot, talking about 2016 elections.

And when you see that, Dana, I think probably the biggest thing is, this president has gone through so much. We know that you're going to have Jerry Nadler on and others on.

But they have been making accusations about this president that not only are not based on facts, but they're false. And so, in doing that and getting to the bottom of it is key.

BASH: OK. You said, just to -- I want to stay focus of the substance.

MEADOWS: Yes. Yes.

BASH: But you said he didn't ask for it.

He did when he said, "Do me a favor."

MEADOWS: Well, what did he say? I mean, you have got the transcript.


You -- said: "There's a lot of talk about Biden's son, that Biden stopped the prosecution. And a lot of people want to find out that -- so whatever you can do with the attorney general would be great."

MEADOWS: Yes. And so...


BASH: Wait. Wait.

"Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution. So, if you can look into it."


MEADOWS: And work with the attorney general.

And isn't it appropriate...

BASH: But you -- but, here, he did ask. You admit that, right?

MEADOWS: But even -- even with that, working with the attorney general, are you suggesting that someone who runs for -- for president shouldn't be investigated?

The Democrats have been investigating President Trump before he was elected and after he was elected, and so somehow it doesn't work for them?

I mean, listen, it's appropriate to make sure that nothing was done wrong in Ukraine. And, indeed, that's what he was talking about.

BASH: So, it's not so much about an investigation into wrongdoing by his own Justice Department. I hear you there.

MEADOWS: But that's what you said. I mean, that's what...


BASH: But he was talking to the leader of the Ukraine, asking him, the leader of a foreign government, to do that investigation.

There's a big difference.

MEADOWS: Well, there's a big difference between what is being alleged against the president of the United States and what actually happened, because this all comes down, Dana, you know, to foreign aid being withheld.

And what we do...

BASH: Well, we're going to get to that in a second.


BASH: I just want to ask about this, just the appropriateness of asking regardless..


MEADOWS: The appropriateness of making sure that an investigation of anyone who had wrongdoing -- we know that Joe Biden was involved with Ukraine, dozens of contacts with Ukraine.

At a minimum, he should have recused himself from anything that related to his son. And I think you can agree with that.

BASH: Well, let me ask you this.

Your fellow Republican Congressman Mac Thornberry said that July 25 phone call, which I just read to you, where he asked to look into it, was inappropriate.

MEADOWS: Right. Right. Yes.

BASH: Republican Congressman Mike Turner said it was alarming and not OK.


BASH: They're wrong?

MEADOWS: They are wrong.

I -- listen, with all due respect to my two colleagues, I was in the deposition, over 100 hours. And myself, Jim Jordan, Adam Schiff are the only three that I know of that actually attended everything.

And when you look at the context of that, when you look at actually what happened, let's talk to Ambassador Volker, who knows more than anyone else what happened and what didn't happen. And yet somehow they wanted to dismiss this?

Or let's go to President Zelensky. Are you saying that he's lying, that somehow he -- when we look at, that somehow President Zelensky of Ukraine is saying that he wasn't pressured, that somehow he's lying?

I mean, how many...

BASH: Well, he didn't exactly say that.


MEADOWS: No, he did. He said it twice, Dana.


BASH: And a lot of people testified... MEADOWS: People can Google it.


MEADOWS: You're a good journalist.


BASH: Thank you. But he...


MEADOWS: But let's stick with the facts.

BASH: We're cherry-picking exactly what he said. But I want to focus...


MEADOWS: I'm not cherry-picking.


BASH: But just one other thing that you mentioned -- you mentioned on Volker.


BASH: I know you -- somebody you have a lot of respect for.


BASH: He said he, meaning Biden, was executing U.S. policy at the time that was widely understood internationally to be the right policy.


BASH: He defended Biden.

MEADOWS: In terms of corruption. I think that's what he was referring to.

BASH: Yes.

MEADOWS: I had seven hours with Ambassador Volker.

And you can't just take one little sentence out of seven hours and suggest that everything that Biden did was correct. He believes that Biden was there working on anti-corruption. I believe that he could be.

But at the same time, everybody wants to dismiss it without an investigation. And if that same set of criteria applies to President Trump, Democrats would be up in arms.

BASH: So, for four years...


BASH: ... Hunter Biden was on the board of Burisma, this Ukrainian company.

MEADOWS: Yes. Yes.

BASH: You were in the majority in the House. You're on the committee that oversees this.

Why didn't you investigate if it was so wrong then?

MEADOWS: Well, one, I didn't -- I didn't know about it at the particular time.

And when -- when you look at things, as things come up, you would...

BASH: But it was public information.

MEADOWS: What was public information?

BASH: That Hunter Biden was on the board of this company.

MEADOWS: Well, I -- I don't know about you. I'm -- I don't know that any of your viewers go and look through Burisma's notice that Hunter Biden was there.

I think all of us can admit that we didn't know that Hunter Biden was getting $50,000-plus a month from a corrupt Ukrainian company.


BASH: Can we also -- I mean, I think the point that you're making is...


BASH: ... maybe you can also admit that, if Joe Biden just went off into the sunset, and he didn't decide to run for president, you wouldn't care.

MEADOWS: Well, I don't know that that's correct.


BASH: You would care if he were retired and done with politics?


MEADOWS: I can tell you that anyone who is corrupt, anyone who has had corrupt intent or inappropriate intent, whether it be Joe Biden or anybody else, I have been on Oversight for four terms now.

You know that I go after it. And I even go after it when it is this administration, one of the few people who have signed bipartisan letters to look into issues. You have to take it serious.

But, at the same time, just because Joe Biden happens to be running for president, to give him a free pass, I mean, that's just not appropriate.

BASH: Let's say it was a Democrat in the White House, because I still just -- I want to make sure that we're still focused on whether it was appropriate or not...

MEADOWS: Yes. Yes.

BASH: ... back to the original question, for the president to be asking a foreign leader to investigate a political rival or any American.


BASH: Let's say it was a Democrat in the White House.

Let's say, President Elizabeth Warren, President Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg, pick your Democratic candidate, were to say to a foreign leader, please investigate my top Republican rival.

You would be totally fine with that?

MEADOWS: Well, I can tell you that, when we're talking about investigations, coordinating with the attorney general, it is appropriate.

And we have actually Democrat senators who have done just that, Dana. You know that there was a letter from two Democrat senators who actually reached out to Ukraine and said, we need to make sure that you cooperate with the Mueller investigation.

Is that not a Democrat asking a foreign country and even intimated about aid? So, here's the -- here's the issue.

BASH: So, you would be OK with it?

MEADOWS: I would be OK with that, certainly.

I mean, when we look at that, we have agreements with foreign countries that say, if you deal with the appropriate people -- and in this case, it would be the attorney general of the United States -- if you deal with the appropriate people, then, certainly, having those coordinations on investigations would be appropriate.


BASH: The president's personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, traveled overseas this week.


BASH: He went to Ukraine.


BASH: And he's saying very openly that he's trying to prove unfounded allegations against the Bidens.

President Trump said yesterday that he even -- he wants Giuliani to go to Congress and to talk about what he found.

Are you comfortable with what Rudy Giuliani is doing?

MEADOWS: Listen, when -- when we look at Rudy Giuliani and what has been said about what he's done and what he's -- what he's not done, I -- I don't know everything that Rudy Giuliani has done.

If he is finding something that is inappropriate, should he bring that to Congress? Yes.

I assume that Adam Schiff and Jerry Nadler would want to hear that, if it was inappropriate, because they have been talking about how they have this blindfold on as it relates to President Trump, which I don't agree with. But they believe that they have this blindfold on, that they want to root out anything that's wrong.

So, why -- would you have a problem with that?

BASH: No, I'm asking you...

MEADOWS: No, I don't have a...

BASH: ... I mean, because there are Republicans who I have talked to -- I'm sure you have too -- who are not comfortable with the role that Giuliani is playing right now.

MEADOWS: Well, listen, I don't know that any role -- I don't know of any role that Rudy Giuliani is playing on behalf of the president of the United States.

I think he's over there as a citizen. I think part of that is probably trying to clear his name.

BASH: But he's the president's personal attorney.

MEADOWS: But -- he is the president's personal attorney.

But I don't know that he's over there at the president's direction. In fact, I would suggest that he's not.

At the same time, when we start to look at this, this all boils down to one thing, Dana. The Democrats are looking at a partisan impeachment of the president of the United States. We see this.

You're going to have Jerry on in just a few minutes. So why don't you ask him this question? Why did he yesterday, yesterday -- now, we have the hearing coming on Monday. Why did he yesterday change the rules for impeachment?

BASH: We're going to ask him that, I promise you. We're going to ask him that. But you're here now.

MEADOWS: Well, you press down hard. Press down hard.


BASH: You're here now.


BASH: I just -- just the final button on this Giuliani question.


BASH: Because this is kind of how this whole thing started, right, Giuliani working with the president, working with the president.

MEADOWS: No. The whole thing...

BASH: And you had appointees, civil servants going and testifying, saying it was shadow diplomacy, and it messed up the regular...

MEADOWS: No, this didn't start -- this started with a partisan attack...

BASH: ... policy.

MEADOWS: ... on the president of the United States, based on a phone call, where -- where there's probably 30 people overhearing a phone call, and then leaking it to a whistle-blower, who then came out, and they put together a narrative that tried to fit the facts.

That's where it started.

BASH: Well, it was based on -- and the fact that he allegedly held up -- and he says it in this phone call -- aid in exchange for this...


MEADOWS: No, he didn't say it in that phone call.

BASH: He said, "Do me a favor."

MEADOWS: Aid is never mentioned. Aid -- no, no, there's four facts that are -- don't change.

Aid was never mentioned in the phone call, Dana. Have the people go online and reach it. When we looked at that, when the phone call happened, they didn't even know that the aid was being withheld.

BASH: That's not -- that is contradicted by testimony by Laura Cooper, who was in there, who said that...


BASH: ... that same day. And others said...


MEADOWS: No, Laura Cooper said they got an e-mail asking...


MEADOWS: ... about aid.

Listen, I know these facts better than anyone else, I promise you.

Is there anything about aid in that phone call?

BASH: He talks about assistance.

MEADOWS: Is there -- no, yes or no? Dana, Dana, there's not anything about aid.

BASH: He talks about assistance.

MEADOWS: You know that. Tell the people the truth.


BASH: Last question, last question, because we're running out of time.

First of all, that's not true, but I don't want to have a -- continue to have a debate with you.

Any Republican -- will any Republican vote yes on impeachment?

MEADOWS: Not based on the facts that we have seen so far. In fact, I think, if anything, there's more pressure on the Democrats to come along and vote to exonerate the president in the House.

BASH: Congressman Mark Meadows, thank you.

MEADOWS: Thank you, Dana.

BASH: Appreciate it.

And coming up next, I will talk to the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee about the articles of impeachment Democrats are working on this weekend.

Stay with us.



BASH: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION. I'm Dana Bash.

House Democrats are working through the weekend to pull together articles of impeachment.

And, tomorrow, they will lay out their case against the president in a hearing they say will be more like a trial.


BASH: Joining me now, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Jerry Nadler.

Thank you so much, Mr. Chairman, for joining me this morning.

First, I want to get right -- right to the debate that is going on in your caucus about the articles of impeachment.

The question is whether to include obstruction of justice stemming from the Mueller investigation or just focus on Ukraine.

You're the chairman of the committee writing these articles. What do you think?

NADLER: Well, we're going to have a hearing tomorrow in which the Intelligence Committee is going to present the evidence.

And we have to consider the evidence, which shows overwhelmingly that the president put his own personal interests above the interests of his country. It shows that -- and the evidence is virtually uncontested.

It shows that he -- he worked with the Russians in trying to affect the election in 2016. Then he tried to cover it up. And then he learned nothing and tried to get the Ukrainians to intervene and help him in the election for 2020. And he was trying to cover that up.

This poses a real threat to the integrity of our elections. It's a matter of urgency. And after we have -- after we hear the evidence, more of the evidence tomorrow, and after there's a discussion tomorrow, then we will -- then we will make these decisions.

BASH: So you will be hearing evidence about the Mueller investigation and report during tomorrow's -- what you're calling a trial?

NADLER: Well, we will -- we will be hearing the evidence that the Intelligence Committee reports to us. And we will see what that includes.

BASH: OK. But just -- just generally on this issue, you said earlier this year -- quote -- "It's very clear that the president obstructed justice."

You also said that obstruction of justice is an impeachable offense. So, if you believe both of those things, can we assume that you, as chairman of the Judiciary Committee, would want to include obstruction of justice going back to Mueller and the investigation?

NADLER: We have a lot to consider after the presentation of the evidence tomorrow as to what articles of impeachment should be drafted and how broad they should be and what they should include.

[09:20:08] BASH: What do you think?

NADLER: And we will make -- I'm not going to say right now, before we hear the evidence tomorrow. But we will make those decisions in the coming -- after that, after tomorrow.

BASH: Well, let me ask sort of more broadly about this debate that I mentioned that you are well aware of in your caucus.

What I'm hearing from moderate Democrats is that they want two articles of impeachment, abuse of power and obstruction of justice. They say anything from the Mueller report would muddy the impeachment.

In fact, I want you to listen to Democratic Congressman Max Rose, who told CNN on Friday that the Mueller report is not why he supported the impeachment inquiry, just the opposite.


REP. MAX ROSE (D-NY): I was against going through with impeachment previous to that Ukraine matter.

When I came out and said that, I was very serious about it. And unlike most of the people in this institution, I'm not going to just say something and forget about it.


BASH: So, Congressman Max Rose and others who are urging it to be narrow are members of Congress who won in Trump districts, gave you the majority, made you chairman. They're the most vulnerable and could lose elections because of this.

How much are you listening to them as you draft these articles?

NADLER: Well, we're going to have to take a lot of considerations into account.

What is the level of proof of the various allegations? How do they relate together? What is the level of support in our caucus and in the House for them? What might we persuade the Senate of?

All of these things have to be taken into account, realizing, again, that the central allegation, it's all of the pattern.

The central allegation is that the president put himself above his country several times, that he sought foreign interference in our elections several times, both for 2016 and 2020, that he sought to cover it up all the time, and that he continually violated his oath of office, and that all this presents a pattern that poses a real and present danger to the integrity of the next election, which is one reason why we can't just wait for the next election to settle matters.

We have to go forward with considering articles of impeachment, because of the threat that his pattern of conduct poses to the election itself. BASH: I have to say, as you're talking about this, you keep bringing up the 2016 election and Russia. It certainly sounds to me like you want that to be included going forward.

NADLER: Well, I wouldn't draw any conclusions.

It is part of the pattern, which is why I bring it up. It's part of a pattern of his conduct, which -- which stresses the urgency of making sure that we deal with this, so that the 2020 election is carried on honestly, with integrity.


So let's talk about the substance of your case for impeachment. House Republicans, as you know, released a rebuttal to the Democratic impeachment report, saying that Democrats have not proven a quid pro quo.

Here's what it says. It says: "There is, however, no direct firsthand evidence of any such scheme. The Democrats are alleging guilt on the basis of hearsay, presumptions and speculations."

Do you feel comfortable that you and your fellow Democrats have conclusively proven that the holdup in military aid was in exchange for investigations and that, most importantly, it was a direct order from the president himself?

NADLER: It wasn't -- it wasn't even in return for investigations. He didn't care about the investigation.

He cared about announcing an investigation, because that was the political thing he wanted.

BASH: But you...

NADLER: He wanted -- he wanted the Ukrainians to announce it, to announce that they were going to hold an investigation.

BASH: But do you feel comfortable that this whole thing was directed by the president himself?

NADLER: Yes, absolutely.

BASH: You feel that you have a rock-solid case?

NADLER: Yes, we have a very rock-solid case.

I think the case we have, if presented to a jury, would be a guilty verdict in about three minutes flat.

And all this nonsense about hearsay evidence, there is considerable direct evidence. And it is -- it ill behooves a president or his partisans to say, you don't have enough direct evidence, when the reason we don't have even more direct evidence is the president has ordered everybody in the executive branch not to cooperate with Congress in the impeachment inquiry, something that is unprecedented in American history, and is a contempt of Congress by itself.

He has ordered everybody not to participate. The only testimony we have are from public-spirited, patriotic people in the CIA, the Pentagon, the White House itself, who came forward and defied the president's orders and testified.

BASH: So I'm glad you brought that up, because we have been hearing a lot from you and your fellow Democrats about the fact that the White House is obstructing Congress by not handing over documents, not allowing key firsthand witnesses like Mick Mulvaney, like John Bolton, like Mike Pompeo, to testify.

But the founders, who we heard a lot about in your committee last week, set up a third co-equal branch of government, the courts, to resolve differences like this.


But you have not even tried to go to the courts to compel these witnesses to testify.

NADLER: Well...

BASH: With something as grave as momentous as impeachment, why not?

NADLER: Well, first of all, we have gone through the courts. And some of those cases...

BASH: Not on this issue.

NADLER: We have gone to the courts, starting with McGahn and various other people.

BASH: Right, but not on Ukraine and on the impeachment inquiry.


NADLER: And what we -- and what we have found is that the courts take months and months.

But we don't need to go to the courts. The Article 1 power, which is Congress' power, is the sole power to try impeachments, should not be and has never been dependent on the courts.

The president and the executive branch are duty-bound to cooperate with Congress in any legitimate inquiry. And the president's absolute failure to do so and defiance is an act against the separation of powers, against the constitutional scheme, and shouldn't require anything from the courts.

Now, the courts are a way to try to enforce this, but much too slow a way.

BASH: Well, you told CNN one month ago that you wanted to do this thoroughly, saying -- quote -- "If it's going to be done, it's got to be done right. And whatever time it requires, it will take." So, what changed?

NADLER: And I think -- nothing has changed, except -- except for the fact...


BASH: But you said the courts would be too slow.

NADLER: ... except for the fact that we have gotten all this extremely persuasive evidence on the blackmail against the Ukraine -- against Ukraine -- to try to interfere in our election, the fact that this evidence is uncontested and overwhelming.

And, notice, the Republicans -- we have asked the president. We have invited him to testify. We invited him to send witnesses. We invited him to send his counsel to cross-examine witnesses. He's declined to do all of this.

If he had any exculpatory evidence, they would have brought it forward. The fact that the Republicans and the president have brought -- have basically not contested the evidence at all.

Even their witness at our hearing last week, Professor Turley, said that what he did was clearly impeachable if proven sufficiently. And I think that any fair judge would have to say that the -- that it has been proven thoroughly and uncontested.


Just real quick on something that Adam Schiff, the chairman of the Intelligence Committee, suggested on this very show two weeks ago. He had said that it might be quicker to compel the firsthand witnesses we're talking about to appear in a Senate trial.

Do you see that happening? You probably will be involved there, too.

NADLER: Well, that's possible. I don't want to speculate, but that is possible.

But, again, we have got to act with dispatch, because the president -- because the president put himself, his own interests above that of the country. And it is urgent. There's a sense of urgency, because he will do anything, from -- judging from his past conduct, that he can to get interference and to rig the next election, which is why we must act to safeguard the integrity of our democracy.

BASH: I want you and our viewers to listen to something that you said during the impeachment of Bill Clinton in 1998.


NADLER: They must never be a narrowly voted impeachment or an impeachment substantially supported by one of our major political parties, and largely opposed by the other.

Such an impeachment would lack legitimacy, would produce divisiveness and bitterness in our politics for years to come.


BASH: So, right now, you are moving forward with impeachment proceedings against a Republican president without support from even one congressional Republican.

Is it fair to say that this impeachment, in your words from back then, will produce divisiveness and bitterness in our politics for years to come?


I think what puts bitterness and divisiveness into our politics is the conduct of the president, who calls -- who questions the patriotism of people who don't agree with him, who calls political opponents human scum, who talks about the fake press, who derides the judiciary, who questions -- who attacks all our democratic institutions.

And the fact of the matter is that the polling says that 70 percent of the American people know that what he did was wrong. And, yes, it will be up to -- it's up to us now in the House, and presumably will be up to the senators, to see if we will and if the senators will put the welfare of the country and patriotism above partisan considerations or not.

BASH: So, you are willing to impeach the president with no Republican votes, correct?

NADLER: We're going to impeach the president -- if we're going to impeach the president, we will impeach him on adequate and urgent grounds to defend our democratic republic.

BASH: And if there's no Republican votes, so be it?

NADLER: It's up to them to decide whether they want to be patriots or partisans.

BASH: So I want to ask you about one -- what comes next.

All eyes are going to be on your committee, obviously, for the next week, maybe more. In the short term, the Republicans are asking for more time to review documents that you just released.


They also say that House rules require you to give them a day to call their own witnesses. Are you going to give them one?

NADLER: They have had adequate time. These documents -- which is basically the report of the intelligence committee were given to them as soon as we received it but the report contains nothing new. They had their own people on the intelligence committee.

They were there. The American people saw the public hearings. The Republicans were present at the closed depositions earlier -- BASH: And what about witnesses? Will you gave them a day to call witnesses?

NADLER: We -- they -- we've given -- no. We've said that the -- they will have the opportunity to call witnesses. They have to give me a list of witnesses. The list of witnesses they gave, they asked me to call, I've said no to because they are irrelevant.

They can appeal to the full committee if they wish and we'll have a vote on that. But we are going to -- like any trial judge, you keep the witnesses to the relevancy. Adam Schiff they wanted -- is not a relevant witness. He didn't witness anything. His counsel according to the House rules is going to report to the committee tomorrow.

And every -- every procedure, every fairness has been given to them. They have declined to use them. Again, they have declined -- the president has declined to call witnesses. They have declined an attorney to cross-examine.

BASH: Mr. Chairman, one last question about time frame. Is it possible that you are going to vote on articles of impeachment this coming week?

NADLER: It is possible. I don't know.

BASH: Is that your goal?

NADLER: My goal is to vote -- is to do this expeditiously --

BASH: In terms of the time line.

NADLER: My goal is to do it as expeditiously but as fairly as possible, depending how long it takes.

BASH: OK. And are the articles of impeachment currently underway? I mean, there are drafts. They are being written as we speak, correct?

NADLER: Well, there are possible drafts that various people are writing but the fact is we're not going to make the decisions as to how -- what the articles should be as to what they contain and what the wording is until after the hearing tomorrow.

BASH: Chairman Jerry Nadler, thank you so much for your time this morning.

NADLER: You're quite welcome.

BASH: The South Bend mayor takes the lead in Iowa polling and finds himself the new target of the Democratic field. That's next.



(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm very glad that Mr. Buttigieg is worried that I have been too easy on upper income people and the millions and billionaires.

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We should open up the doors so that the press can follow the promises that he is making in these big-dollar fundraisers.

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I was the first guy to come out with a plan to build on Obamacare and I'm glad Pete has a version of that same plan.


BASH: The Democratic front-runners keying in on the same target, Mayor Pete Buttigieg. Let's discuss with our panel.

Jen Psaki, you have been there, where you were working for a candidate who was suddenly rising and you have all of this incoming. What do you make of what we're seeing?

JEN PSAKI, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It is clear that Mayor Pete is the candidate to beat in Iowa and you can see that from the other candidates' reactions to him. I will say that this back and forth over who his clients were for McKinsey or frankly who Elizabeth Warren's -- who she worked for when she was a corporate lawyer, who cares?

The people who are benefiting from that are people like Joe Biden and Amy Klobuchar who is reportedly on the rise in Iowa, who are talking about the real issues and not having this silly Twitter and debate that isn't talking about people's real lives. So it is clear who the front-runner is but I think they -- everybody who is at the front- runner status would be wise to go back to the issues that are of concern to Iowans.

BASH: Congressman, do you agree? Who cares? Or do you want to know more information about the taxes of Elizabeth Warren during the chunk of time or the clients of Pete Buttigieg?

REP. JOE NEGUSE (D-CO), JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: No, look, I think each of the Democratic candidates could beat Donald Trump and fundamentally my voters, the constituents in my district that is what they care about is picking a Democratic candidate that will win in what is arguably the most important election of our lifetime.

So, each of the candidates has their own strengths and they're going to make their case. I still think it is a wild open race, certainly in Colorado.

DAVID URBAN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Look, I think it is great. The more the merrier. I love the food fight that continues on. I think it is going to continue on for quite some time.

There is no apparent front-runner. Obviously there was Mayor Bloomberg in the beginning and spending all this money and thinking there is a path for him forward and so I welcome it. I think it is great and -- I obviously disagree with the Congressman. I think -- I think as long as this drags out -- the more I see the different candidates, the more I see the strong economy, the more I believe that president will be handily re-elected.

BASH: Let's turn to Vice President Biden. We all saw the moment in Iowa where he went back and forth with a voter who asked him about his son Hunter Biden and what about happened in Ukraine. He, Joe Biden, responded to the criticism that he seemed a little like Donald Trump. He talked about it on NPR. Let's watch.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Which is what Donald Trump says a lot. Hey you can't take a joke. I was joking. The point --

BIDEN: No, no, no, no, no.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But the point I bring it up --

BIDEN: Don't compare me to Donald Trump.


BIDEN: Don't do that. What Donald Trump says, he makes fun of people. He belittles people. He lies. I don't do any of those things, period.

The fact of the matter is this guy stood up and he was in fact lying and I just pointed out, you're a liar.


LINDA CHAVEZ, DIRECTOR, BECOMING AMERICAN INITIATIVE: I actually like that. I mean, I thought that it really made Biden seem like he's alive and he's in there and he's fighting. And I do think that he needs to come back. He needs to be strong. I think the real criticism of Biden is that he hasn't shown that drive.


I mean, he's in it but he got in it late. He's just not -- shown that he's really got the energy and that is what's going to -- that is what's going to hurt him if he were to become the eventual nominee is that it would hurt him against President Trump.

So I actually liked it. I thought he did well. I like to see that spark.

BASH: What do you think?

PSAKI: I agree. Look, I mean, I think -- I think people who like Joe Biden like him because they think he's folksy.

They like him because he's got fire in his belly. There are moments when people haven't seen that in a Democratic electorate lately. This showed he had that. He was defending his son. I actually think for many people it was pretty appealing.

URBAN: So, look, Joe Biden is not a great retail politician. He ran in the state of Delaware, three counties, right? He's been doing this since 1972. Everybody keeps saying, well, wait Joe Biden is going to get better. He's going to get better. He was terrible. He called the guy old. He called him fat. He wrestled with him (ph) --


PSAKI: Well -- but, David -- David, at the end the guy said he would vote for him in a general election. And said he was a Warren supporter but he'd vote for Joe Biden. So, clearly it didn't have the impact that you thought it did.

URBAN: He's not good at it. I mean, it's -- it's -- it's -- we wouldn't be talking about it if it was a great moment, OK.

BASH: All right. We have a lot to talk about. Another big issue that's happening in this town.

New warnings from vulnerable Democrats about how impeachment is playing with their voters. That's next.




REP. DAN KILDEE (D-MI): It's hard to put together an article of impeachment that deals with obstruction that ignores the damning information in the second volume of the Mueller report.

The obstruction, the grotesque manner in which this president has obstructed any investigation into his work I think can't be ignored and the Mueller report provides really serious information in that regard.


BASH: We are all waiting to find out what articles of impeachment Democrats will write against the president. Let's discussion.

And, Congressman Neguse, you are on the Judiciary Committee. You just heard Dan Kildee say it should be broad. You heard Max Rose earlier. I've talked to some of your colleagues who are from Trump districts who say, no, no, no, two articles just on abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. Where -- where are you?

NEGUSE: I don't think any decisions have been made yet and you heard Chairman Nadler talk about previously. I think there is broad consensus within the Democratic caucus that this administration needs to be held accountable and that ultimately the significant evidence of the president's misconduct is really -- it is not in dispute.

And so at the end of the day, there is going to be a pretty robust debate I imagine and you've alluded to it about the breadth of potential articles that may ultimately be referred to the House for its full consideration. That is important.

But, look, I think every colleague I've talked to both in the freshman class and writ at large in the caucus understands that this is not a question of politics, it is a question of honoring your constitutional oath. It is a vote of conscious.

You heard Speaker Pelosi allude to that just earlier this week. I thought her words were very powerful in that regard. We are treating this process with the respect it deserves unlike some of my colleagues on the other side of the aisle which is regrettable.

BASH: Yes. Not political except for the fact that you guys are elected officials that have to go before voters.

URBAN: It is political.

BASH: Not you necessarily because you're from a --


URBAN: It is political. It's not going to be -- you'll have zero Republican votes here. Zero.


NEGUSE: The talking point and I know you said their earlier --

URBAN: It's not a talking point, it is a fact.

NEGUSE: Well, I will tell you this. There was a Republican who ultimately chose country over party and decided to support the opening of an impeachment inquiry and I suspect will support ultimately impeachment on the vote and who was kicked out of his party because he shows -- because he shows --

URBAN: He wasn't kicked out. Justin Amash was a never-Trumper.

NEGUSE: -- he chose country over party and that was Justin Amash.


CHAVEZ (ph): OK. But, David -- David --

URBAN: He opposed the president -- he opposed the president -- wait, I'll get some facts. Congressman, you were for impeachment -- before you even sworn in. You said there was enough evidence before you heard one shred. Did you not?

NEGUSE: I've heard a number --

URBAN: But -- no. Yes or no?

NEGUSE: Let me answer the question and let me provide my statement.

URBAN: Yes or no? OK.

NEGUSE: What I'm going to say is this. There are a number of us who have ultimately long believed that this president has engaged in conduct that could be --

URBAN: But before you heard one shred of information --


BASH: Let him finish. Let him finish.

NEGUSE: That is not true. That is not true. And I will say this --

URBAN: You said it November -- November of --


NEGUSE: The effort -- sir, the effort --


URBAN: I mean, 2018 -- excuse me.

NEGUSE: -- so many Republican colleagues of mine to obfuscate away from the president's egregious conduct and abuse of power is something that has shocked the conscience of many of my colleagues in the Democratic House. I honestly --

CHAVEZ: And I have -- I have to say, as somebody who is, in fact, a never-Trumper, but I'm still a Republican. On policy issues, I actually agree with the president on probably 80 percent of what he supports. But it really bothers me that you don't have any Republicans who are willing to stand up and say, this behavior crossed the line. It is dangerous.

URBAN: There are lots of Republicans that say he crossed the line but don't believe it is impeachable.

CHAVEZ: No, no. But, David -- you know darn good and well, David, that if Barack Obama had done anything that came close do this there would in fact have been an impeachment inquiry and there would in fact have been an impeachment. That really -- that really depends --

URBAN: I don't believe so.

PSAKI: And I will just add, David, that -- you know the big question here is the one that Nancy Pelosi and Adam Schiff is imposing which is should any president of either party be in a position where they are trying to bribe a foreign power for their own personal political gain.

URBAN: It's not the case --

PSAKI: That's what we're talking about. That's why as Linda said, it is so shocking that no Republican, despite 50 percent of the public thinks that this president should be impeached and removed is not standing up. [09:50:04]

URBAN: I would say this --

PSAKI: It does speak to the power of your boss -- your former boss over the political elected officials --


URBAN: Let's wait -- let's wait and see where the Democrats --

BASH: Real quick.

URBAN: -- in 31 Trump districts. Thirteen Romney/McCain districts. Let's see what they vote and they want impeachment.

BASH: OK. All right. We are going to see -- that everyone is standing by for all of it. Thank you so much for joining me.

Up next, some good news which we can all agree is welcome this holiday season. Stay with us.


BASH: This holiday season CNN has some inspiration about how to give back.


FREWEINI MEBRAHTU, CNN HERO: There is a saying in Ethiopia people are medicine for people.

NAJAH BAZZY, CNN HERO: What we do here is to provide food, clothing and shelter and a whole lot of love.


MARY ROBINSON, CNN HERO: To give children a place to mourn their loss and tell their story.

ANNOUNCER: They're the best the world has to offer.

RICHARD MILES, CNN HERO: We're going to start a program and we're going to help people.

MARK MEYERS, CNN HERO: I'm feeling the love.

ANNOUNCER: They're heroes today and every day.

AFROZ SHAH, CNN HERO: I think we must talk less and do action more.

ZACH WIGAL, CNN HERO: Video games are an incredible source of relief during difficult times.

WOODY FAIRCLOTH, CNN HERO: We purchased RVs and give it to a family who lost their home in the fire. ROGER MONTOYA, CNN HERO: Many of our kids come to us traumatized. I just want to see them happy.

STACI ALONSO, CNN HERO: It impacts lives that don't feel they have a voice.

ANNOUNCER: Join Anderson Cooper and Kelly Ripa live as they name the 2019 CNN hero of the year.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Our heroes are incredible people.

KELLY RIPA, CNN HOST: Their work and their stories will inspire you tonight.