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tv   CNN Newsroom With Brooke Baldwin  CNN  December 17, 2019 11:00am-12:00pm PST

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you you are watching cnn. i'm brooke baldwin. thank you for being with me on this tuesday, the tuesday expected to go down as the history in terms of impeachment eve. tomorrow the house of representatives said to vote in favor of two articles of impeachment against president trump. that would make just the third time in 243 years -- think about that a second -- that the house has done that to an american president. the vote itself is such a seminal and serious moment for this country today the house rules committee is setting up guidelines how the debate on the impeachment vote will proceed. right now the committee is taking a short break. before they left this final
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impeachment hearing on procedure about as partisan as all the others we've seen these past couple of week es. >> any actual evidence that the pause on the ukrainian assistance was for the president's improper personal political benefit or might he have had other reasons for withholding aid? >> plenty of other reasons and part is the law itself. certified it's the president's call to making sure no corruption is where aid is given and other countries aid was held. from an appropriate operate a d standpoint, it went out early. 68% of polls, every day ukrainian said they bribed a public official in the last year. >> go to the july 25th telephone call president trump never
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raised the word corruption once but he did talk about joe biden three times. we didn't hear corruption, corruption, corruption. we heard biden, biden, biden. that was the favor we were looking for. he wanted the president of ukraine to come over and say he wad investigating the bidens. that's unrefuted in the record. let's not pull the wool over americans eyes. if we want to say it's okay for the president to do this stuff, say it. don't claim he was involved in an anti-corruption crusade at the time. >> okay. let's cut through all of what we've listened to in the last couple of hours. lauren fox is our go-to gal on capitol hill. i know this rules committee hearing is suppose to set parameters and rules ahead of tomorrow's big day. the big vote. so far xrord naextraordinarily . when will they set the parameters? >> reporter: speaks to what an important and weighty moment this is in the house of
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representatives, because it's something that gets debated every time a bill comes to the floor. the fact we are paying attention to just every moment of this rules committee hearing really speaks to the gravity of the moment. i will tell you that what you've heard largely are the same arguments you've heard for weeks from democrats, that this was a shakedown of ukraine's government and an effort for the president to get dirt onhis political rivals, from republicans you are hearing that the president did not wrong. and that the democrats really led a sham process. and jim mcgovern, chairman of the committee, argued this should be a moment republicans recognize the president has done something wrong saying a lot of democrats did that during the clinton impeachment in 1998. >> what shocks me about so many of my republican friends is their inability to acknowledge president trump acted improperly. i add mighted president clinton
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when he was president of the united states and still do today. when the house impeached him, i didn't agree with i went to the house floor and thought what president clinton did was wrong, because moments like this call for more than just reflection partisanship. >> of course, brooke, we expect this vote tomorrow will come down largely on party lines. there may be a few democratic defections. we know representative van drew was expected to switch to the republican party, will vote no and also expect potentially colin peterson democrat from minnesota voted against opening the committee will vote no and not telling cnn specifically how he will vote tomorrow. >> lauren, thank you very much. let's discuss what's to come in the next few hours and of course the big day tomorrow. generaler in ner i neer i neee and editor for the "new york times" with us and presidential historian founding director of
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center for presidential history at sunk methodist university. welcome to all of you. j julie, start with you, what i chatted about with lauren. the big day before the big vote. walk us through what we've seen in the last couple hours with the rules committee and how partisan things have been so far. >> i think that clip you play captured is. this is the rules that set out the guidelines for this debate tomorrow, will come to a vote in the morning seen as a proxy vote on impeachment. by the same token, this is something of a approximateliy debate on impeachment articles hearing both republicans and democrats lay out their plan. the facts are no really in dispute. every has seen the rough transcript of the phone call between president trump and president zelensky of ukraine. he was clearly asking for investigations of his political rivals at the time we now know
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the aid to ukraine was held up. the question republicans raise in the hearing whether there was a direct linkage white president was doing what he was doing, not that he was doing it. it's striking that republicans have been unwilling to say that maybe i didn't agree with what the president did, but this is not impeachable. i think we'll continue to hear more and more of that including in the debate tomorrow where there's not really room for any criticism of president trump and what we're doing to likely see is a very stark partisan divide both in the debate and then in the final vote. >> before we talk tomorrow, because tomorrow obviously is historic. in terms of today's hearing, what do you think of what we've seen so far? >> this is, the tone of the tenor is below the significance of the moment. this is a solemn and significant moment but that's been a partisan food fight. i don't mean part sen republicans veshsz democrats although it's that, too. you have an angry irritated
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occasionally talking and shouting over each other insistence that facts exist or facts don't matter. that's really troubling. we need to be able to reason together. julie made the point you're not contesting underlying facts. but the deflexes and trying to draw attention elsewhere. saying the facts don't exist that's sufficient. the argument should be about, here's the facts. we can agree that they exist. we can disagree whether it rises to level of impeachment. we haven't been having that level of adult conversation really. >> interesting how you delineate the two sides. jeffrey, to that point, we've heard a lot of that and i have a feeling tomorrow hearing a lot more. we don't have specifics in terms of the tick tock of tomorrow. what are the details? can you tell us what are the details they will eventually hammer out to set parameters for the impeachment vote tomorrow? >> ultimately determining who gets to speak on either side and for how long. seems basically a forgone
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conclusion that the president is of course going to be formally impeached by the house and then of course the question turns to what the senate might choose to do. so far we're hearing the senate is not going to at least on the republican side, interested in having a particularly lengthy trial or hearing from any witnesses according to senator mcconnell. that's actually the exact opposite of what happened in 1999 when the senate essentially saw the divisiveness that occurred with clinton's impeachment decided to put on a unified front of a full and fair trial basically to help bring the country together, say we have a legitimacy to this process. what we see now is i think the fight continuing on from the house into the senate. which is only going to drive the great divisiveness and partisanship in our country further. >> let me jump to that since you bring up the senate side and witnesses. mcconnell says that the senate's role is just to hear the case. right? not to try, not to go on f fact-finding mission. if democratic leader chuck
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schumer wanted to hear from witnesses he should have pushed house democrats to go to court. look at the numbers we have. new cnn polling shows democratic support for impeach and removal is down, double digits. the numbers. see them for yourselves. jeffrey, back to you, house democrats, still sitting in the house realm. do house democrats miss an opportunity with their investigation? >> the question is what were they trying to do? if we just remember each of these participants has a constitutional role as well as a political one. the founders, of course, did not actually develop a separation of powers. they separated, developed a competition of powers. that the house is supposed to jealously guard its powers. in this case, power to decide whether or not as a democratic elected body they feel there is something that should be looked at and tried by the senate, and then the senate i think is supposed to essentially take the house's word for it in the sense that if you believe after the house of representatives believes there should be a
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trial, then we have a solemn obligation to actually have a trial and not pre-determined the outcome. when senator mcconnell talk and the thin case the democrats are making for the impeachment and therefore no need for a real trial, he's not supposed to say that. he may think it, have a vote already in his mind but supposed to acknowledge and respect colleagues across the capitol and do his constitutional role no that they've done theirs. >> what do you think? >> i agree 100%. he's prejumping this and telling everyone he's prejudging it. takes an oath as a juror to impartially consider the evidence and he's doing nothing of the sort and saying i'm going it try to shut it down much as i can so none of my other senator colleagues can do that either. >> impartial justice is the oath they're going to take and they and he is the leader coming from the top saying they're going to disregard that oath. that's a real problem. this is about, about our democratic respect for law and
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order. you can't have people entrusted with those things say they're going to flout them for partisan purposes. that's what's happening. >> sneak in a quick break was "continue our discussion talking about what will happen in the senate trial. of course, tomorrow is the huge day, vote for impeachment of the president of the united states. in a second take you back to capitol hill and the debate over rules for tomorrow's historic impeachment vote. plus, rudy giuliani is still on his, shall we call it, not so secret mission now to dig up dirt on ukraine and says the president supports him. special coverage here on cnn continues right after this. ( ♪ ) at chevy, we're all about bringing families together. this time of year, that's really important. so we're making it easier than ever to become part of our family. man: that's why our chevy employee discount is now available to everyone. the chevy price you pay is what we pay. not a cent more. family is important to us. and we'd like you to be part of ours. so happy holidays. and welcome to the family. the chevy family!
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welcome back to the breaking news. this is the big day before the big day, of course. live pictures as the house of rules committee is in recess for the time being. but basically what we've seen so far in the last couple of hours is a lot of arguments we've heard over the last couple weeks. partisan in nature, but when they resume they will eventually set up the rules and parameters, debate times et cetera for tomorrow's big impeachment vote. pick up the conversation. john avlon and jen rogers pivot to you. there's so much we can talk about. stop and pause and appreciate the how monumental tomorrow is.
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the third president ever to be impeached, and what do you expect, both of you, just from congress tomorrow and also from the white house? >> i think the white house will be defiant. congress will be solemn but partisan. there will be probably attempts to vent spleens, particularly on the republican side, because the numbers aren't in their favor. the thing to remember, though, tomorrow above all is a day where politics is history in the present tense. only twice before. while we've had three impeachment inquiries in the last 45 years this is extraordinary and requires us as barbara jordan said during the watergate hearings to be big rather than small. right now a lot of people being small in the final lap. >> what i don't expect which is what i expect in court. a solemn controlled, where they don't know the participants or prejudged and able to decide based on the evidence. that's not what we'll have here. evidence is everybody
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overwhelming and compelling that the president did something very, very wrong here. yet you still have republicans denying that that's true. so that's very, very different from what i'm used to in our criminal justice system. >> also, jeffrey, everyone's been watching on the house side these moderate democrats where will they go? on impeachment. turns out they've been falling in line with speaker pelosi and the party, but when you look on the senate side, there are moderate republicans who are making leader mcconnell and the white house a little nervous. my question to you is, might they break? and vote with the democrats on these trial-related issues including wanting witnesses to testify in person? what do you think? >> i wouldn't be surprised if they did because each of them is facing, of course, a difficult political decision and really worried about the eyre of the voters on either side of the aisle. at the very least, falling back on a fuller process, getting more evidence out, having
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witnesses, then they can then subsequently turn to voters and say at least i weighed all the evidence. decided based on the full range of facts not just based upon partisan ideology. it's important to remember the number we need to remember is not 67. it's not the number you need to -- >> 51. right? >> it's 51 in this case but i would say 33. as long as the president maintains 33 votes that means he cannot be removed from office and, therefore, the senators on the wagon, on the saddle, trying to make up their minds, if you will, have to decide whether or not they want to programs cast a few votes that they know are safe, because there's not going to be any change in the outcome, but may change their own political fortunes. >> right. >> you want to jump in? >> reminds me of a key joke of our time. mike murphy said, if there were a secret ballot for impeachment on republicans, at least 30 votes to impeach president trump. jeff flake said, no.
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at least 35. and i think that is the dynamic between public statements and private sentiment. so far folks have been really in lock step with the president who's popular with the party even if people privately feel this is not behavior you want to see with a president. that's the key question i think for tomorrow and the next few days and weeks. do you believe the president of the united states should get foreign powers to dig up dirt on political rivals? that's the question. >> bottom line. full stop. talking before the break going back to '99, the clinton impeachment and not dragging in of witnesses. it was taped testimony. we tupulled up tape. mitch mcconnell back in 1999 talking up the use of witnesses for bill clinton's impeachment trial. roll it. >> every other impeachment has had witnesses. it's not unusual to have witnesses in a trial. house asked for three witnesses. that's pretty modest.
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>> so how can he make the case? jeffrey engle, how can he make the case now versus then on bringing witnesses in? >> how can he or how should he? >> both. >> a case i don't think we should be surprised by lack of consistency among our elected leaders. what's critical here and going to perhaps be more damaging to the institutions that we have going forward is that senator mcconnell is not actually doing the senate's duty of essentially holding the executive to account. you know, one of the things critical here is that the witnesses have been called for and the executive is saying we're not giving you witnesses or documents. thereby denying the senate the opportunity if it wanted to, to have a full and fair trial. that's something i think that i wish senator mcconnell would remember the constitution requires him to protect his institutional interests as much as his party interests. frankly more than his party interests, at least remember he
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has an institutional interest in keeping the senate a strong body to check a president in the future if need be. >> not to mention, by the way, this is much different, jen rogers than you're used to and if you end up having no witnesses, how do you have a trial? >> good question. you have to have evidence. it would be through documents. >> through documents. >> the only way. but also withholding a lot of very important documents. >> correct. >> you have evidence here. there is compelling evidence actually. a lot of testimony in the house. there are documents that were turned over voluntarily by some of those witnesses and others. there is evidence here. just a lot more evidence that we haven't seen that is critically central to what happened here, and that's what's being blocked by mcconnell. now maybe the senate will ultimately allow some of that with 51 votes as we've been saying, if not, it really shows they are not trying to protect their own powers their own coequal status and it will be -- >> why are you looking at me
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shaking your head? >> it's crazy. mitch mcconnell famously described himself as an institutionalist and he's not doing that. it's principle. not party politics but that's the game we're seeing and witnesses, mcconnell compelling and chuck schumer on the other side. sometimes where you stand isn't a matter where you sit. there is a responsibility to be bigger. the weakness of republicans there are no direct witnesses but they don't want to call the people with direct witnesses, in fact actively blocking that. shows you the fundamental substance of the underlying issue. >> i, hard right turn. at an event last night honoring justice ruth bader ginsburg and she was, in an interview, a woman by the bbc and the presenter was trying to get her to make news on all things impeachment and obviously was very careful how she responded. reading a quote from her. asked about this last night.
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as far as how you jeffrey were talking about whether the senators are fair jurers or to your point really more of a court, right? as a former chief justice rehnquist said. she said if a juror reveal as bias they will be disqualified. again, coming from supreme court justice here. a reminder. can you close this out, jeffrey that this is not normal times. >> no. this is not a normal court. in fact, i think one of the best things we could do, frankly, keep all lawyers away from this court and remind themselves all rules that normally apply in a courtroom don't have to apply here. the senate can do whatever it wants. the senate can rule however it wants on the rules and also the senate can overrule the presiding judge. in fact, in 1999, senator tom harkin from iowa made a real blustery point that they should stop referring to the senators as jurors. because a juror, he said, was only there to decide right or wrong and a juror was only
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allowed to use the evidence that they had presented in the trial. he says, no. that's not right. justice rehnquist agreed and other senators at the same time. they were there to do something bigger a court. there to decide what was best for the nation. therefore, they could actually use whatever evidence they wanted. in a sense, doesn't have to be any evidence presented for the senators on either side to recall different things that happened in the past with donald trump and bring it up in their determination over whether or not his staying or leaving office is actually in the best interests of the country. by the same token, they can decide he is guilty and also decide he should stay in office. that's really the determination they need to make. >> yeah. okay. let me thank all of you and step back into this house rules committee hearing that has just begun once again. -- that she may have -- >> without objection mplgt. >> thank you. i wanted to clarify one thing. had a line of questioning mr.
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before cole before we broke and it had to do whether or not there's had been subpoenas issued for ranking member nunes' phone records, and you know, there seem to be some confusion from our two witnesses here, but i recalled the testimony that we had in judiciary which was that, in fact, no subpoenas had been issued for any member of congress or for any journalist that the intel committee has subpoenaed metadata. not actually phone taps, of four people involved in this sdeem abu scheme to abuse office and smear ambassador yovanovitch. after each of those people were subpoenaed individually, that was giuliani, parnas and fruman and sondland two have been indicted for crimes now related to this investigation. so once those phone records were brought in, patterns were noticed around particular
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events. and that was when ranking member nunes' phone number was identified. it wasn't that his number was sought. he just happened to be in conversation with the co-conspirators there. see if people are interested in that, in addition to the testimony we heard in judiciary, that information can be found in the intel report that was filed on pages 45 through 47 and footnote 76 on page 155. i would note particularly there, it says the committee did not subpoena the call detail records for any member of congress or staff. so to the extent that we were getting distracted by a notion people were trying to improperly investigate members of congress, i think we should put that to bed and call it out for being a distraction and not the truth. mr. raskin did that -- refresh your recollection on any of that? >> thank you very much for
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adding details. and my primary recollection of our conversation about that was precisely this. that the intelligence committee targeted no member of congress. it targeted no journalist, it did not direct subpoenas against any of them and i believe that the names that came up, came up in the normal course of standard investigatory procedure. so there's nothing untoward there that i can see. >> okay. also, there was testimony from mr. nunes, or not testimony. questioning of ambassador taylor by mr. nunes indicating that in fact he had been phoning folks in the ukraine. right? he had acknowledged that? >> he, mr. nunes had -- >> yes. >> yes. as -- yes, i believe that's in the transcript as well. i mean, he basically has said he was conducting a kind of investigation of his own. >> okay. >> of what happened. >> okay.
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hopefully that puts that to bed and i yield back. >> yes. i yield to -- certainly yield to -- >> appreciate it. it does -- appreciate the gentle lady bringing it up, had nothing to do with the questions asked. i've always acknowledged they were properly done subpoenas and still an institutionalist. >> pull back for a second. huge piece of news the president just sent a letter to the house speaker nancy pelosi. go straight to our white house correspondent kaitlan collins with details. kaitlan, what is the president saying? >> reporter: brooke, this is a really lengthy six-page scathing letter from the president addressed to the house speaker nancy pelosi essentially denouncing these articles of impeachment against him. sounds like it is written verbatim by the president himself in his words where he says he is writing to express his strongest and most powerful protest against these articles of impeachment saying "you have cheapened the importance of the
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very ugly word impeachment" later says she is violating her oath of office, calls this an invalid impeachment and says she dares to invoke the founding fathers in pursuit of this yet her spiteful actions displayed unfettered contempt for merkel founding saying her conduct threatens to destroy that which our founders pledged their very lives to build and goes on to reference, brooke, something we've heard from the speaker several times, saying she actually prays for the president. he said even worse than defending the founding fathers offending americans of faith continually saying i pray for the president when you know this statement is not true, unless it is meant in a negative sense. he says "it's a terrible thing you are doing, but you will have to live with it, not i." then he goes on to break down both of these articles against him. of course, abuse of power and obstruction of congress. he's defending his call with the ukrainian leader and, brooke, we're still reading this the entire letter. it's a scathing response from the president sending to the ho
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us speaker one we haven't seen him do since this inquiry went on to this length sending an entire letter. the question is, of course, if this will be the president's only response, if he'll address it now that he's meeting with the kuwaguatemalan leader in th over's office. >> we thought the tweets were a lot the other day. right? airing grievances is precisely right. let me ask you this. is the thought from the white house that this is somehow going to stop -- the train's rolling down the tracks. this impeachment vote is hooping. the thought he's trying to stop this or just his finalgree grievancens airs before the big day? >> you heard republicans say they don't feel they were treated fairly in the house and refused to send a defense attorney and not send witnesses.
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seems to be their response. a forgone couldn't conclusions at the white house the president will be impeached and take that vote tomorrow. you see by this in recent days, trying to get skeptical potentially vulnerable democrats to side with them. though as we've seen playing out today, that list of democrats who are in conservative districts are only saying, yes, they are going to vote for impeachment. this is the president's response going on, and brooke, one line to give an example of the kind of tone in this letter, which we'll read it fall after that, he says, "more due process was a aforwarded those in the salem witch trials." saying it's an illegal partisan attempted coup going after her multiple times and then said he thinks he has no doubt the american people will hold democrats responsible for this during the 2020 election. "they will not soon forgive your perversion of justice and your abuse of power."
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>> wow. kaitlan, let you keep reading. we're all reading. john avlon, jen rogers, as i'm -- glancing at these lines, it's like you took all the tweets and strung them all together, that's what we have from this president, who by the wayi ichad tweeted, bring it on. impeach me. what do you make of this? >> i want to be really clear. i've read through quickly all six pages. this is unhinged. this is an unhinged rant from the president of the united states on white house letterhead. it's clearly something he dk tate e dictated at least in part. a lot of greatest hit from greatest campaign speeches. the definition of not presidential. he is venting his spleen in public, but with the weight of history behind it and making a series of statements that are both not true, reversals of fact of one of his classic moves,
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project and deflect. we see it over here quoting certain congressmen, cursing, says you are the ones interfering in america's election, you were be ones subverting america's democracy, obstructing justice for your own selfish and political gain. the president of the united states dictating to staff over objections and better judgment. this sis unhinged. >> the reason presidents speak through lawyers only and this is the reason. when you talk you admit things you shouldn't and reveal who you really are and that's what he's doing here. things that can be used. once again describes his conduct as innocent. describes the call -- >> can be used against him? >> exactly. i'm saying he again continues to say essentially to the american people, i will continue to behave this way. and that's what he's saying to the senators. i think republican senators will be very, very unhappy with this, because it again puts it right in front of them. here's president not only
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committed a grave misconduct and abuse of office but is telling us all, don't be surprised when i keep doing it every minute i sit in the chair of the president. >> one second. president trump. >> is he speaking? >> -- hang on. we thought we had him. hang tight. talking about this letter -- okay. now got the president. >> very much. appreciate it. thank you. >> are you going to watch the proceedings tomorrow? >> i've not seen it. the hoax, the whole impeachment thing is a hoax. we look forward to getting on to the senate, we're not entitled to lawyers. we're not entitled to witnesses. we're not entitled to anything in the house. it's a total sham. when you have a guy like shifty schiff go out and make up a statement that i made, he said, this is what he said but i never said it. he totally made it up. in guatemala they handle things
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much tougher than that and because of immunity, house immuni immunity, because of immunity he can't be prosecuted. he took a statement totally made it up. it was a lie. it was a fraud. and you just can't do those things. look, this has been a total sham from the beginning. everybody knows it. i've never seen the republican party so united. we've got as far as voters, got 100% of the vote. i believe the senate is equally as well united. i watched mitch mcconnell this morning. i watched numerous people last night, senators, and i think we're equally well united. they know it's a hoax, it's a witch-hunt and just a continuation. going on now almost three years. and probably started before i even would be the election based on what we're finding out with the insurance policy quotes and other things. so it's a disgrace. yes? >> will you let senator mcconnell decide on witnesses and -- >> yeah. he can decide. and also have to decide when we're taking the vote for the
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usmca. a very big, important deal. very, very important deal with mexico, canada ourselves and have to decide whether or not that comes first or second. to me i'd let the senate decide on that. >> mr. president, you take any responsibility for the fact that you are about to be impeached? >> no. i don't take any. zero. to put it mildly. they took a perfect phone call that i had with the president of ukraine, and absolutely perfect call. you know it. they all know it. nothing was said wrong in that call to impeach the president of the united states for that is a disgrace and it's a mark on our country. tell you why. other presidents, in the future, unless they do something about this, other presidents are going to have to live with this and every time they do something that's a little bit unpopular, a little bit strong even if they're 100% right, because i've done a great job. when you look at the kind of jobs we've created. look at the economy we've created. look at rebuilding the military. taking care of the vets. you just take a look at what
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we've done with choice, veterans choice. with accountability in the vets. with what we've done to protect our second amendment and so many other things, nobody's done as much as i've done in the first three years. thank you all very much. >> mr. president -- >> thank you. okay. so this is the president sitting there alongside the guatemalan president there at the white house. two points as we've just received copies of this letter that he has sent speaker pelosi, he said the bit of news on whether or not they'll call witnesses, he said i'll let leader mcconnell decide on witnesses and again keeps going back to calling that july 25th phone call with his counterpart in ukraine in which he asked for a "favor" he keeps calling it perfect. kaitlan collins is at the white house for us. kaitlan what did you make of that? >> reporter: the president making no next there, of the letter the white house just released to the house speaker nancy pelosi denouncing impeachment saying he hasn't
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been watching today. doesn't know if he'll watch tomorrow but looking ahead to the senate trial and echoing what you read in the letter. doesn't think he got a fair shake. note, when the white house took over, have the attorneys come, call their own witnesses but white house refused too late by that point they wouldn't be able to afford a fair hearing when the president said mitch mcconnell can decide if they want witnesses, senator majority leader. senator mcconnell said he does not want witnesses after schumer proposed as much. the president will go along with that. whether or not that sticks is something we'll report out if that's something the president stands by, but, brooke, going back to this letter he sent. it is essentially like reading the presidential tweet put on official white house letterhead and sebtd to house speaker policy hours ahead of in a vote
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scheduled for tomorrow essentially already know the out in come. you are reading the president is not happy about beal impeachened and obvious reading every word of this he said you have cheapened the importance of the very ugly word "impeachment" with an exclamation point in this letter to nancy pelosi. >> kaitlan, stand by. i still have john avlon, jen rogers, jeffrey you shaking you. you called the president unhinged. kaitlan is right, greatest hits and the way he framed it, didn't mention the letter specifically in that press avail, the way he closes this whole letter is i'm basically doing this to prevent this from happening to any other president to come after me. what he just said. which is -- >> the most high-minded argument he can make and utterly undercut by the total, say it again, unhinged and embarrassing nature of this letter.
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he made the job of the senators there to defend him much more difficult because you can't read this letter and say this is simply a difference in communication. this is a tantrum being done on white house letterhead, and he lied to the american people again, when he said we weren't permitted to have legal representation. they refused it. he said it's a hoax, a sham. it's a constitutional process enshrined in the constitution. don't forget that. he's making the situation worse. he's getting emotional gratification out of venting his spleen but is debasing the office of prof president and ses who read this will be concerned about his mental state in private. >> i pose this to you. what difference does it make end of the day for republicans who thus far stood in line with this white house and their senate majority leader? what difference does it make? >> probably no difference in terms of their vote. the question, whether the optics of this going forward, one of
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the reasons previous im impeachments were recognized legitimate by the american people was because they gave the appearance of being legitimate. sometimes a show trial is necessary if you know the outcome. the show trial is meant to designed to determine and show the power of the state to operate along certain procedures. so i think the senators who are at most risk in this process, the ones who feel they have to weigh their vote carefully, they would like this to be over as quickly as possible and with as little flame as possible. much so in the way that bill clinton handled his impeachment. we know that clinton was completely obsessed with impeachment during the time he was in office. in fact, at one point during a diplomatic meeting i believe with israelis if i'm not mistaken actually kept writing the word impeachment, impeachment down on the paper. all he could think about but never said that publicly. he gave the american people the appearance, a., he was doing his job and, b., that this was a hoax in the sense he's not going
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to dignify it with a response, let his lawyers deal with it. this is clearly not the way president trump is approaching things continuing to make sure this is a live issue no matter what happens going forward. >> we talked to folks around the inside and tried to keep church and state separate. those who govern deal with governing and those dealing with impeachment deal with impeachment. if he's looking forward to this senate trial why won't the white house, to you guys, let witnesses testify, do you think? >> because they tonight want the evidence to come out. right? >> right. >> but if they have nothing to hide. >> this is not that complicated. >> nothing to hide, why not bring it forward? he wants to focus on the phone call. all he wants to talk about, the phone call. >> that was perfect. >> pretend there were not a dozen witnesses who came forward to talk about the exchange for aid and these things and even more important witnesses still sitting out there, like mulvaney, who can really give us
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the inside scoop about what trump was doing. they tonight want that to come out. he wants to focus on the phone call and leave it at that. as the public goes so the senate republicans will go and people start to think. what does it mean to behave like this? >> eventually, yes. >> people know just as part of their everyday lives when someone acts this way it's because they have something to hide. >> the same president who said when running i can walk down fifth avenue and shoot anyone and nothing's going to happen to me. >> right. >> he got elected. >> lawyers made that argument in one procedure around this. >> exactly. >> but that indicates real problem. right? on one hand the president is calling it a hoax saying i have to defend myself for future presidents. this is about the precedent set. >> just a second. here is senator schumer. >> -- anyone in america watching this would draw the same logical conclusion. that the president has something to hide and republican senators, too many of them are intent on
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helping him hide it. it appears leader mcconnell after going on fox news has already made up his mind about the senate impeachment trial. it's clear that senator mcconnell wants to use the senate to help participate in a cover-up. today he was asked here i believe, he was asked, are you an impartial juror? what was the word? >> asked about americans concern about being impartial -- >> asked in he was an impartial juror and seened to proudly say, no. i would ask every one of our republican colleagues. do you want someone who proudly says they are not impartial? to be on a jury judging high crimes and misdemeanors? serious charges? against the president of the united states? and furthermore, we have not
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heard a single argument from leader mcconnell as to why the witnesses we have requested should not come forward. he goes back to 1999. he talks about other extraneous things. leader mcconnell, i'm asking you. come to this microphone and give an explicit reason why mulvaney or bolton or blair or griffin shouldn't testify. one explicit reason. not what happened 20 years ago. but an explicit reason now. why is the president, why is the republican leader, so afraid to have these witnesses come testify? their members of the president's own staff. they are his people. shouldn't these four aides be able to defend president trump? under oath? in a senate trial?
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shouldn't the president of the united states if he has a reasonable defense, use the opportunity to present evidence to clear his name? and to have witnesses testify to the president's innocence? what is leader mcconnell afraid of? what is president trump afraid of? the truth? the facts? the american people understand what's happening here. new abc "washington post" poll shows today, seven out of ten americans believe the witnesses should testify. 64% of republicans believe the witnesses should testify. when 64% of republicans believe the witnesses should testify, our republican senators are going to, when they go back home will be asked a whole lot of questions. did president trump -- by the way, that irtrying to say the
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senate, the house didn't make a strong case. they made a very strong case. that's why president trump and mitch mcconnell are so afraid to have these witnesses testify. if it was a weak case they wouldn't mind. so if president trump and senate republicans are trying to conceal evidence and block testimony, it's probably because, it's probably not because the evidence is going to help their case. it's because they're trying to cover up. senators who o'pose having witnesses and getting documents will have to explain why less evidence is better for the president than more evidence. senator durbin. >> thanks, chuck. this would be the third time in the histories of the united states where there is actually an impeachment trial in the united states senate.
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as you recall richard nixon with prospect looming of impeachment trial resigned. >> all right. listening to the minority leader on the senate side. chuck schumer, basically saying to mitch mcconnell, hey, where are you? walk up to this microphone and you tell me why those four key witnesses will not testify in this senate trial? let's pick up there with manu raju. up on capitol hill. manu, i mean, between this trump letter, which is blowing the minds of many and perhaps some senate republicans to now basically this dare from chuck schumer to mitch mcconnell, like, you've got to explain why you're not doing this. what do you make of it all? >> reporter: well, republicans are drawing a line saying that this process is going to be short. it's going to be over and they've made the decision that the president's going to be acquitted. there's really no reason for them to give in at anything including what chuck schumer is
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demanding now. for the four live witnesses and making it clear he is not impartial in this process saying he doesn't think the president did anything wrong, mitch mcconnell. something republicans on some level will point to and say the president made his case why he should not be impeached and convicted and removed from office. you see the lines hardening getting into the next phase of the impeachment. the impeachment trial, and as we get into, the historic votes tomorrow. now, the ultimate question will be, though, brooke, whether or not there will be any republicans in the senate republican conference who will break ranks. ultimately vote with democrats on the floor to compel any of these witnesses to come forward and testify, because just 51 senators can change the calculus in the senate if they were to go that route saying if they wanted to get a mick mulvaney or john bolton to testify, they could essentially vote that way on the floor. at the moment those republican senator, handful of senators, who could break ranks, are not
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saying much of what they will do on see chuck schumer and mitch mcconnell to cut a deal to see how procedures play out. they are not showing their cards at all. we have to see as the days go on if there's any appetite among the senators to break ranks, to force testimony from some of she's witnesses, but at the moment the republican leadership is drawing the line firmly. mitch mcconnell is not afraid about coordinating with the white house and continue do that and making it clear they are on the white house side. you are not, we're not expecting any republicans to break ranks in the house republican conference tomorrow on impeachment and right now at the moment senator republicans are holding the line as well. brooke? >> manu, thank you. back to the two of you. john avlon, you heard manu. i mean, the big question is whether somes thoef moderate republican senators do break rankses when it comes to siding with democrats bringing in some witnesses we just heard chuck schumer reiterate he wants. he's saying that this -- this
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unhinged letter from the president won't really change things. >> i think it's probably too soon, because folks haven't read the letter yet. obviously, positioning are hardened. we're in positional bargaining. especially in the senate. sometimes party loyally asks too much. senators like romney, susan collins have to look at their conscience as well as constituents. do we want to throw up a road block before we make our decision? the president is making it worse for himself. this is the office held by washington and lincoln and could have handle this as a version of bill clinton and compartmentalize it. saying this is a partisan side show. i'm not getting kwishgted or removed by the senate. focus on the economy what i've done for the american people, delivering the mkusa ac -- thiso
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he is. >> one of the foundational democratic principles, separation of powers that started in the house long ago. before impeachment house democrats tried to do regular oversight duty in conjunction with the mueller report and roadblocked at every point. republicans in the house rolled over, no the sticking up for the house. the sna tenate is a different b and traditionally more interested in standing up for themselves and their branch of government and coequal status with the president and will they do it here or also just roll over? >> and left wondering, thinking of people wondering. whether on the left, right or center. you think back to mueller and when mueller ended, the very next day the president was on the phone with president zelensky of ukraine asking for this favor. you played it forward to tomorrow, the man will be impeached. the third president ever in the
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history of this country to be impeached. this letter happens. we don't know. we can't predict the future as far as how the senate trial will go. we have a pretty good indication. what do you say to the people watching just thinking, no consequences? throwing up their hands in the air. what's the message? >> you know, honestly, a genuine concern that goes back to the point i made earlier. as long as a president appears to have 33 votes in the his or her pocket, there's no consequence. this impeachment has no teeth. something the founder didn't anticipate because they were fundamentally against having parties and having a partisan rancor being something more important than the individuals doing their jobs. one of the things that is fascinating, all due respect to senator schumer. senator mcconnell gave us a reason he doesn't want witnesses's he doesn't think there's enough of a case to warrant the trial. that's not his constitutional
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role to determine. that's one thing that's really critical here. remember, everybody needs to stay in their constitutional lane. house determines whether there's a problem to be investigated and have a trial and then go away. the senate then steps in and does their job, which is is to investigate the trial. not to frankly disrespect the house's decision by not having a full and fair trial. you know, again, if there is nothing that any president needs to fear, then more evidence should not be a problem. i think going back to your point quickly. your point about him, president trump making this phone call so soon after the mueller investigation. one thing we see, especially in recent history. president trump is actually not reviled more than previous presidents have been. people despised barack obama. people despised george w. bush and bill clinton. the difference between bill clinton and donald trump and the other two i mentioned, obama and george w. bush is that you need a combination of being despised and having done something that will actually make the senate,
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the house come for you with an impeachment trial. clearly what we've seen donald trump do in recent days. >> okay. let me thank all of you. you've been extraordinary as we've gotten huge news over the course of last hour. so much more to cover. our cnn special coverage continues right after this quick break. i'm brooke baldwin. back in a flash. [ dramatic music ] this holiday... ahhhhh!!! -ahhhhh!!! a distant friend returns... elliott. you came back! and while lots of things have changed... wooooah! -woah! it's called the internet. some things haven't. get ready for a reunion 3 million light years in the making. woohoo! -yeah!
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we are back. you're watching cnn. i'm brooke baldwin. top of the hour here. addressed to house speaker nancy pelosi this extraordinary jaw-dropping letter from president donald trump. in six scorching pages on white house letterhead the president rails against the impeachment process going on right now. calling it a partisan crusade and unprecedented and unconstitutional abuse of power by democrats. let me read you just one graft of this six-page diatribe. he says you are the ones interfering in america's elections. you are the ones subverting america's democracy. you are the ones obstructing justice. you are the ones bringing pain and suffering to our republican for your own selfish personal political and partisan gain. let's go straight