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tv   CNN Newsroom with Poppy Harlow and Jim Sciutto  CNN  December 19, 2019 6:00am-7:00am PST

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for powerful relief from cold and flu symptoms without a prescription, try theraflu multi-symptom. theraflu dissolves in seconds, so it's ready to work before your first sip, and absorbs quickly to target and attack 8 cold and flu symptoms fast. try theraflu. good morning, everyone. it's a big day. i'm poppy harlow. >> i'm jim sciutto. the breaking news this morning. mitch mcconnell is about to speak for the 50 tifirst time s the house voted to impeach president trump. the third u.s. president to face that. he plans to slam house democrats arguing they made history not for the vote itself but for what he calls the unfair process leading up to it. those words will land as house speaker nancy pelosi potentially throws the senate trial schedule off. >> that's right. so she is still not committing to sending the articles of
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impeachment to the senate until she says that she and the caucus are assured of a fair trial. so what does that exactly mean? we'll laearn more when she speas live next hour. let's get to manu raju. it was your exchange with her just after 9:00 last night that made all of this news. it seemed like watching it in the moment, you couldn't believe what she was saying, but she said it. >> yeah it was surprising because there had been some pressure behind the scenes from some members, including a democrat from oregon, earl blumenauer who brought it up. because of the argument they could use it as leverage to get the senate to do a fair trial. blumenauer told me she was interested in it but her office was not commenting about what her exact plans were so it was a surprise when she said they were going to -- that she did not shut the door to potentially not ever sending over the articles
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of impeachment or at least wait a few weeks before that could actually begin a senate trial. the question ultimately is how does that play out? mitch mcconnell is going to go to the floor in just a matter of minutes. blast the house democrats' process and try to accuse the house speaker of being too afraid to send over the articles of impeachment. we'll see how that changes the calculation if at all because mcconnell has said there would be no live witnesses. at least not right now in a senate trial. the discussion will have to be on the democratic side how they want to pursue this. nancy pelosi is meeting with chuck schumer later today. she's meeting with her caucus a little later this morning. also expect more meetings through the course of the day. this is going to be a story that's going to develop as democrats decide what their strategy is on their end game because if mitch mcconnell doesn't move and nancy pelosi doesn't move, then who blinks first and does that mean there will be no senate trial. there are questions looming over the president and over the
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congress. >> is the question of witnesses in the senate trial really closed here? because it is majority rule. is it possible democrats there could get a handful of republicans to agree with them that some of these witnesses need to be call or can mcconnell just block that from even being considered? >> yeah, it's a two-step process. first, mitch mcconnell has to cut a deal with chuck schumer over exactly how the rules of the process, the trial will play out. and that's basic bookkeeping stuff. but what the democrats are pushing for in that rules package is to detail the witnesses and the documents that we turned over. mitch mcconnell said no to that. first they'll deal on rules and then assuming they do that, then that's when the votes -- when the trial would take place. then there would be votes on the floor that any senator could move to force a vote and that's when the majority will rule. 51 senators can compel any witness to come forward and testify. that's where four republicans if
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they were able to break ranks and side with democrats, that could change the calculus. most republicans, those who could flip, are keeping their cards close. they're not saying what they will do. so this will play out in a matter of weeks how they'll ultimately will shape out. but mitch mcconnell at the moment saying no, of course. >> the clinton impeachment, new witnesses were deposed in the senate trial. some sitting senators called for that. supported it at the time, including lindsey graham. let's bring in ni1 nia-malika henderson. cost benefits of a potential delay of moving these articles to the senate from the house. >> i think the cost is that it essentially feeds into what the republican talking points are about this to begin with, which is that it's political, that it's partisan. also i think undermines pelosi's standing as an institutionalist, right? somebody who wants to go by the rules. someone who has been arguing that this is something of urgent
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concern which is the -- which is why the timeline has been what it is. hard to really see what the benefits necessarily are. sort of dragging it out a bit here. it doesn't appear that she has any real leverage with mitch mcconnell. has mitch -- have you met mitch mcconnell? he's someone who clearly has said that he's not going to be an impartial juror here and he's also working with the president very closely. so it's hard to know. i do think there are folks in her caucus who want something of a delay so she can throw a bone to them, but it's hard to imagine what the real benefits of this are. >> so listen to majority whip jim clyburn. he was just on "new day." listen to what he said about how indefinite this could be and how supportive he is of this move. >> are you willing to hold the articles indefinitely if mitch mcconnell doesn't concede the points you're asking him to? are you suggesting it's possible you will never transmit the
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articles of impeachment? >> if it were me, y thates, tha what i'm saying. i have no idea what the speaker will do. >> whoa, manu, that would be unprecedented. and i wonder if it would politically, optically be very different for many democrats who say this is urgent that we move forward with impeachment against the president and then they stop moving forward. >> yeah, that's going to be the message they're going to have to reconcile. how do they handle that? how do they not move forward on an impeachment -- they say the president represents a clear and present danger. we'll see what the speaker has to say right here. speaker pelosi, is it still possible you may never send over the articles -- >> we'll meet together at 10:45. >> she said we'll be together at 10:45. referring to the press conference that she has later this morning. she's now walking in to her
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caucus meetings. clearly didn't want to answer questions there, but we'll see. she's, of course, going to have to field those questions at the press conference and we'll get a sense about whether she can provide any more clarity. the fact clyburn said that was interesting but it's ultimately her decision, nancy pelosi. she's going to make the call about how long to hold on to the articles and whether to submit them at all to the senate. most people think they'll ultimately be sent over. it's just a matter of when. >> listen, i get the process argument here and that's become the central republican defense here, but nia-malika, is it politically damaging for republicans, including mcconnell or graham who said this? i'm not going to be a partial juror, even though the text of the oath that they state at the start of a senate trial as prescribed by the founders says we'll do impartial justice here. are there not political risks for -- >> what's interesting is once the sort of reports about this
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ukraine issue came out, one of the first things mitch mcconnell said was him being in the senate was essentially him being a backstop for the president and any sort of impeachment hearing. so for a while, he has telegraphed that he isn't going to be an impartial juror. you have had some democrats call for his impeachment. people like elizabeth warren, amy klobuchar has played it closer to the vest saying she is going to be a juror so she doesn't necessarily want to speak out on it. but you're right. it does cloud this whole process. it probably wasn't a good thing for mitch mcconnell to outright say, a, that he's going to be a partisan juror and that he's working hand in glove with the president. >> well, nia-malika, stay with us. certainly more to discuss. poppy? >> we certainly do because of part of what the president said last night at his rally. at the same time the house was voting to impeach him, the president was unleashing at this rally in michigan. and he targeted michigan
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democratic congresswoman debbie dingell and her late husband congressman john dingell who was the longest serving member of congress and a world war ii veteran. >> so she calls me up like eight months ago. her husband was here a long time. but i didn't give him the b treatment, the c or the d. i could have. she calls me up. it's the nicest thing that's ever happened. thank you so much. john would be so thrilled. he's looking down, he'd be so thrilled. i said that's okay. don't worry about it. maybe he's looking up. i don't know. >> all right. some audible groans but also some cheers and laughter. that's cruel. this morning congresswoman dingell responded on "new day." >> i don't want to politicize my husband. i don't want to politicize his death. it's something i'm still really
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grieving over. this thanksgiving was really hard and christmas is harder. and i'm going to go back to doing my job. if he thinks he's going to keep me from doing my job, i'm going to be right back at it when i leave here. >> you know, michigan republican congressman fred upton called for an apology tweeting, i always looked up to john dingell, my good friend and great michigan legend. there was no need to dis him in a crass political way. most unfortunate and an apology due. that message to the white house. let's listen to press secretary stephanie grisham. >> he was at a political rally. he's been under attack and under impeachment attack for the last few months and then just under attack politically for the last 2 1/2 years. i think as we all know, the president is a counterpuncher. it was a very supportive and wild crowd and he was just riffing on some of the things that had been happening the past few days. >> all right. let's look at this in terms of how the history books will judge
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it. presidential historian douglas brinkley is with me. >> good morning. >> this is a revered member of congress. you heard what republican congressman fred upton had to say. longest serving moderate, beloved nationally and certainly in his home state of michigan. how will history judge what the president chose to say last night? >> it's going to show once again how donald trump is shameless. dingell, in michigan, did more for lake michigan and wildlife conservation. he was known for encouraging tourism in michigan. he was one of the most loved political figures ever in michigan. and the fact that donald trump said such a crass and ugly comment, it's not going to sit well. and i think the democrats will probably take commercial ads in michigan just running donald trump's battle creek insults. i'm sorry that debbie dingell had to put up with that.
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it's a shame. >> i mean, when you think about how presidents have handled the toughest moments of their presidencies before, have there been personal attacks like this on dead, revered members of congress. >> and a veteran. >> yes. >> the veterans of the united states should be livid right now. veterans have to protect their own. they were angry when donald trump dissed john mccain and did the same trick going after dead veterans when president trump himself was a, you know, avoided service due to bone spurs during the vietnam war. so if i were president trump, i would issue an immediate apology. call it a joke that went sideways. no disrespect to debbie dingell and certainly not to john dingell, but he's a little man, and i'm afraid he's unable to make that kind of apology. any other politician in america
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would make. >> you could just feel congresswoman dingell's -- politics aside, you could feel her pain hearing her this morning with alisyn and also in her tweet last night. still trying to grieve the loss of her beloved husband. but, doug, just before you go, i want your read on what we saw, the historic night, the historic vote on impeachment. earlier this week you gave speaker pelosi an a-plus for the job she's doing. i wonder if she keeps an a-plus in your book right now given the development last night that she signaled she may hold off. i don't know how long. indefinitely. on handing over these articles of impeachment to the senate so that the constitutional process can play out. >> well, we'll see at 10:45 what her chess move is here right now. i think nancy pelosi's just trying to put a spotlight on mitch mcconnell and the fact that he's already made up his mind that he's going to be a stark partisan. i think she wants to show people that the senate trial is unfair.
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so she's ratcheting up the rhetoric on that. i think democrats have to follow the great poet robert frost and say the only way out is through. only way out of this impeachment process is going through it. and that means the senate trial, even if it's an imperfect one. >> there you go. context, history important in all of this. douglas brinkley, thank you. >> noting the history there. and there's a lot of it. speaker pelosi and democratic leader chuck schumer set to meet today to talk next steps. in minutes, we may get a clear idea of the republican strategy. senate majority leader mitch mcconnell will give his first public comments since that impeachment vote just ahead. and schumer set to speak not long after mcconnell. also, democratic candidates gearing up for the final debate of the year. is the smallest group on stage yet, which means you know, yew get to hear a little more from each of them. does that open the door for more
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least thorough and most unfair in modern history. i'm pleased to be joined by democratic senator dick durbin of illinois who also serves as senator minority whip. >> good to be with you. >> so democrats, as you know, have consistently said this is an urgent matter. now you have consideration of holding off moving those articles to the senate from the house. is that a mistake? >> well, i don't want to anticipate what the speaker is going to say about the time table ahead of her. the last time this occurred some 20 years ago with the clinton impeachment, we were going through a little different circumstance between the house action and senate action, there was an actual change in congress. there had been an election. new members of congress arrived on the scene. still, it took several days to transmit that. i don't know what speaker pelosi's plans are in terms of transmitting the articles of impeachment to the senate. i hope we can work that out today. >> would you oppose a decision
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to refuse to transmit those articles? >> well, i am not going to anticipate possibilities here. i think speaker pelosi has followed the constitution carefully. and had a very thoughtful proceeding that led us to this point. i'm sure she's going to continue in that vain. >> i want to tell you what one gop senator told cnn. if the speaker thinks this magically gives democrats leverage in the senate, she hasn't been paying attention to how mcconnell operates the last few decades. you spent a lot of time in that chamber with senator mcconnell. are you concerned that democrats may overplay leverage here? >> no, i think you're way ahead of the actual reality on the ground here. i am concerned that we've reached a point where we're in the senate session for the last day of this year. i believe will be today. and as of this particular moment there's not been a meeting on
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the subject between senator mcconnell and senator schumer. that should have taken place by now. senator schumer has made some suggestions. senator mcconnell, their meeting is important. >> as you know, lawmakers have occasionally contradicted themselves on things they've said about the impeachment process in the current environment and 20 years ago, the last time we faced this with bill clinton. i want to play now senator lindsey graham who was a member of the house in '98-'99. i want to getti your reaction. >> america needs to hear about this case before they vote in some reasonable fashion. that's not too much to ask. they're going to vote through courage. have the courage to let the american people know, not just from sound bites and spinmeisters what this is about. they need to have the witness called, that needs to be done for everybody to understand what this case is about. >> now let's play him more
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recently talking about the current possibility of the senate trial. >> i am not going to support witnesses being called for by the president. i'm not going to support witnesses being call for by senator schumer. we're going to vote on the same product the house used. >> obviously, a difference there. i wonder, in private conversations, have any of your gop colleagues said they'd support calling witnesses? you'd only need a handful to join with democrats in a simple majority vote to call for witness testimony. >> i haven't asked them, but i'll tell you this. the american people expect us to do this in a dignified way. it is a trial under the constitution. and a trial you consider evidence. evidence includes not only documents but testimony from witnesses. in this circumstance, there were 17 who appeared before the house intelligence committee that led to their conclusion yesterday in the house of representatives.
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keep in mind that unlike previous presidents, this president and his white house have refused to share evidence as requested and subpoenaed by the house of representatives. so to ask for some basic information from someone as near to the issues as mick mulvaney, the president's acting chief of staff, is not unreasonable. the american people expect us to be respectful and to follow the law and to have a trial and come to a conclusion and do it in an open and public manner. >> according to a cnn poll just out this week, public support for impeachment has not grown following public hearings as some democrats, and as i said on the broadcast before, they hoped. down to 45% from 50% and you see similar data in other polling there. does that indicate to you that democrats failed to make their case convincingly to the
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american public? >> listen, you and i live and breathe politics but most americans don't. you'll find 30% to 40% of americans really are not following this very closely. that may change when the senate trial starts. but let me say the bottom line is this. we shouldn't be measuring this on political impact as to whether we go forward. shame on us if we do. we have a responsibility under the constitution to take this seriously, to measure the evidence that's been presented and decide whether this president should be impeached. the polls be damned. let's do our job according to the constitution. >> the polls be damned, and i appreciate your commitment to following the process regardless, but you have an election in 11 months' time. are you concerned that voters who consistently rank impeachment low on their list of voting issues in this election, long after health care, jobs, et cetera, are you concerned that voters will extract a political price from democrats in november 2020?
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>> the constitution has to be honored. i took an oath to defend it. and there will be another oath administered incidentally to every senator pledging that each of us will be committed to impartial justice. that's in the oath. let's do that job and get it right. and in terms of the political fallout one way or another, let the american people make that decision. >> just very quickly, when senator mcconnell and graham and others say that they have no plans to be impartial jurors here, despite the oath they must take prior to a senate trial, are they violating their constitutional oath by making such a statement? >> well, i keep an eye on their hands when they raise them as to whether their fingers are crossed when they take that oath. some of them made announcements they don't care what the evidence shows or what happens during the course of a trial. they'll vote one way or another. let's be honest. democrats and republicans lean in a political direction going into this. but if you're going to take that oath and really mean it, so help me god, then you've got to take a look at the evidence in an honest fashion. >> senator dick durbin, we appreciate you joining the
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broadcast this morning. >> thank you. >> all right. we're waiting to hear live right here from senate majority leader mitch mcconnell. he is expected to call the impeachment inquiry now wrapped up in the house the most rushed, least thorough, most unfair in modern history. that's his take. then we'll probably hear from schumer after that. you'll see it all live right here. we're also moments away from the opening bell on wall street. the dow struggling a little bit to take off. it looks like at the start of trading in a few minutes. investors searching for some direction ahead of the holiday week. they, of course, are keeping a constant eye on capitol hill with the impeachment vote in the house now over. the house is set to vote today on that trade deal. usmca between the u.s., mexico and canada. the deal must also be approved by the senate which won't happen until after an impeachment trial in the new year and then signed by the president. ♪
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mitch mcconnell has a problem. he has said he's going to work hand in glove with the white house. he has said he's not a fair jury. i don't know how he can take the
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oath he's required to take. >> there you see the chairman of the house judiciary committee there taking issue with the senate majority leader who has said he'll not be an impartial juror in a senate trial if it happens. there's a chance now it may not. we'll hear in just moments from the senate majority leader. these are live pictures from the house floor where they're taking their oaths. mcconnell's remarks come as house speaker nancy pelosi will not commit to sending those articles of impeachment to the senate yet. this until she's assured there will be a fair trial. mcconnell has come under fire after he admitted plans to work directly with the white house. and state those words that he has no plans to be an impartial juror. >> yeah. it was amazing to hear. we hear nadler is responding. we'll hear from mcconnell in a minute. as we wait, there's a big debate tonight. seven presidential candidates will take the stage in los angeles for the final democratic primary debate of 2019. >> yes, the smallest, least diverse group of candidates so far. cnn's ryan nobles is in los
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angeles. ryan, smaller slate of candidates on the stage there. what should we expect to see tonight? >> well, the hope i guess is that there will be more of an opportunity for these candidates to dig into some of these big issues the democratic candidates have been talking about and focused on in their campaigns. a lot of them having nothing to do with impeachment. they prefer to talk about health care, economic inequality, minimum wage. these are the issues driving the democratic primary. because we have a smaller field, perhaps this gives an opportunity for one of these lower tier candidates who have had a hard time breaking through to perhaps have a big moment. one name a lot of people are focused on is minnesota senator amy klobuchar. she seems to be gaining somewhat some traction in iowa. does she look to have a big moment tonight? and then, of course, will there be some sort of a focus on pete buttigieg, the mayor of south bend. he, of course, doing well in iowa right now. but for the most part has not been attacked too heavily on the
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debate stage. perhaps that changes tonight. of course with fewer candidates on stage, could be the opportunity for more attacks to come from all sides. so we'll have to see how that plays out. >> so arlette, when you look at biden being -- all right. let's jump and listen to the senate majority leader mitch mcconnell. >> they voted to impeach president trump. over the last 12 weeks, house democrats have conducted the most rushed, least thorough and most unfair impeachment inquiry in modern history. now their slap-dash process has concluded in the first purely partisan presidential impeachment since the wake of the civil war. the opposition to impeachment was bipartisan.
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only one part of one faction wanted this outcome. the house's conduct risks a deeply damaging the institutions of american government. this particular house of representatives has let its partisan rage at this particular president create a toxic new precedent that will echo well into the future. that's what i want to discuss right now. the historic degree to which house democrats have failed to do their duty and what it will mean for the senate to do ours. so let's start at the beginning. let's start with the fact that washington democrats made up their minds to impeach president trump since before he was even
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inaugurated. here's a reporter in april of 2016. april of 2016. donald trump isn't even the republican nominee yet. but impeachment is already on the lips of pundits, newspaper editorials, constitutional scholars and even a few members of congress. april 2016. on inauguration day, 2017, the headline in "the washington post," the campaign to impeach president trump has begun. that was day one. in april 2017, three months into the presidency, a senior house democrat said i'm going to fight every day until he's impeached. that was three months into the administration. in december 2017, two years ago,
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congressman jerry nadler was openly campaigning to be the ranking member on the house judiciary committee, specifically -- specifically because he was an expert on impeachment. that's nadler's campaign to be the top democrat on judiciary. this week wasn't even the first time house democrats have introduced articles of impeachment. it was actually the seventh time. they started less than six months after the president was sworn in. they tried to impeach president trump for being impolite to the press. for being mean to professional athletes. for changing president obama's policy on transgender people in the military. all of these things were high
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crimes and misdemeanors according to democrats. this wasn't just a few people. scores -- scores of democrats voted to move forward with impeachment on three of those prior occasions. so let's be clear. the house's vote yesterday was not some neutral judgment that democrats came to with great reluctance. it was the predetermined end of a partisan crusade that began before president trump was even nominated, let alone sworn in. for the very first time in modern history, we've seen a political faction in congress promise from the moment -- the moment a president election ended, they would find some way to overturn it.
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a few months ago, democrats three-year long impeachment in search of articles found its way to the subject of ukraine. house democrats embarked on the most rushed, least thorough and most unfair impeachment inquiry in modern history. chairman schiff's inquiry was poisoned bipartisanship from the outset. its procedures and parameters were unfair in unprecedented ways. democrats tried to make chairman schiff into a de facto special prosecutor, notwithstanding the fact he's a partisan member of congress who had already engaged in strange and biased behavior. he scrapped the precedent to cut the republican minority out of
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the process. he denied president trump the same sorts of procedural rights that houses of both parties have provided to past presidents of both parties. president trump's counsel could not participate in chairman schiff's hearings, present evidence or cross-examine witnesses. the house judiciary committee's crack at this was even more ahistorical. it was like the speaker called up chairman nadler and ordered one impeachment, rush delivery, please. the committee found no facts on its own. did nothing to verify the schiff report. their only witnesses were liberal law professors and congressional staffers. there's a reason the impeachment inquiry that led to president nixon's resignation required about 14 months of hearings, 14 months. in addition to a special
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prosecutor's investigation. with president clinton, the independent counsel's inquiry had been under way literally for years before the house judiciary committee actually dug in. mountains of evidence. mountains. mountains of testimony from firsthand fact witnesses. serious legal battles to get what was necessary. this time around, house democrats skipped all of that. just 12 weeks. 12 weeks. more than a year of hearings for nixon, multiple years of investigation for clinton, and they've impeached president trump in 12 weeks. 12 weeks. so let's talk about what the house actually produced in those 12 weeks. house democrats rushed and rigged inquiry, yielded two
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articles, two of impeachment. they're fundamentally unlike any articles that any other house of representatives has ever passed. the first article concerns the core events which house democrats claim are impeachable. the timing of aid to ukraine. but it does not even purport to allege any actual crime. instead, they deployed a vague phrase, abuse of power. abuse of power. to impugn the president's action in a general indeterminant way. speaker pelosi's house just gave in to a temptation that every other house in history has managed to resist. let me say that again. speaker pelosi's house just gave
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in to a temptation that every other house in our history has managed to resist. they impeach a president whom they do not even allege has committed an actual crime known to our laws. they've impeached simply because they disagree with the presidential act and question the motive behind it. so let's look at history. andrew johnson impeachment involved around a clear violation of a criminal statute, albeit an unconstitutional statute. nixon had obstruction of justice, a felony, under our laws. clinton had perjury, also a felony. now the constitution does not say the house can impeach only those presidents who violate a law, but history matters.
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history matters, and precedent matters. and there were important reasons why every previous house of representatives in american history restrained itself, restrained itself from crossing this rubicon. the framers of our constitution very specifically discussed this issue. whether the house should be able to impeach presidents just for, quote, maladministration. just for maladministration. in other words, because the house sumply thoug lsimply thou president had bad judgment or is doing a bad job. they talked about all of this when they wrote the constitution. the written records of our founders' debates show they specifically rejected this. they realized it would create a total dysfunction to set the bar for impeachment that low.
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that low. james madison himself explained that allowing impeachment on that basis would mean the president serves at the pleasure of the congress instead of the pleasure of the american people. it would make the president a creature of congress, not the head of a separate and equal branch. so there were powerful reasons, mr. president, why congress after congress for 230 years -- 230 years -- required presidential impeachment to revolve around clear, recognizable crimes. even though that was not a strict limitation. powerful reasons why for 230 years no house -- no house opened the pandora's box of
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subjective political impeachments. that 230-year tradition died last night. now, mr. president, house democrats have tried to say they had to impeach president trump on this historically thin and subjective basis because the white house challenged their request for more witnesses. and that brings us to the second article of impeachment. the house titled this one obstruction of congress. what it really does is impeach the president for asserting presidential privilege. the concept of executive privilege is another two century old constitutional tradition. the presidents, starting with george washington, have invoked it. federal courts have repeatedly affirmed it is a legitimate
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constitutional power. house democrats requested extraordinary amounts of sensitive information from president trump's white house. exactly the kinds of things over which presidents of both parties have asserted privilege in the past. predictably and appropriately, president trump did not simply roll over. he defended the constitutional authority of his office. no surprise there. it's not a constitutional crisis for a house to want more information than a president wants to give up. that's not a constitutional crisis. it's a routine occurrence. the separation of powers is messy by design. here's what should have happened. here's what should have happened. either the president and congress negotiate a settlement or the third branch of
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government, the judiciary, addresses the dispute between the other two. the nixon impeachment featured disagreements over presidential privilege. so they went to court. the clinton impeachment featured disagreements over presidential privilege. so they went to the courts. this takes time. it's inconvenient. that's actually the point. due process is not meant to maximize the convenience of the prosecutor. it's meant to protect the accused. but this time was different. remember, 14 months of hearings for richard nixon. years of investigation for bill clinton, 12 weeks for donald trump.
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democrats didn't have to rush this but they chose to stick to their political timetable at the expense of pursuing more evidence through proper legal channels. nobody made chairman schiff do this. he chose to. the tuesday before last on live television adam schiff explained to the entire country that if house democrats had let the justice system follow its normal course, they might not have gotten to impeach the president in time for the election. my goodness. in nixon, the courts were allowed to do their work. in clinton, the courts were allowed to do their work. only these house democrats decided due process is too much work. they'd rather impeach with no
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proof. well, mr. president, they tried to cover for their own partisan impatience by pretending that the routine occurrence of a president exerting constitution privilege is itself, itself a second impeachable offense. the following is something that adam schiff literally said in early october. here's what he said. any action that forces us to litigate or to have to consider litigation will be considered further evidence of obstruction of justice. that's adam schiff. here's what the chairman effectively said and what one of his committee members restated just this week. if the president asserts his constitutional rights, it's that much more evidence he's guilty.
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if the president asserts his constitutional rights, it's that much more evidence he's guilty. that kind of bullying is antithetical to american justice. so those are house democrats' two articles of impeachment. that's all their rushed and rigged inquiry could generate. an act that the house does not even allege is criminal and a nonsensical claim that exercising a legitimate presidential power is somehow an impeachable offense. mr. president, this is by far t the thinnest basis for any house passed presidential impeachment in american history. the thinnest. and the weakest. and nothing else even comes
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close. and candidly, i don't think i'm the only person around here who realizes that. even before the house voted yesterday, democrats had already started to signal uneasiness, uneasiness, with its end product. before the articles even passed, the senate democratic leader went on television to demand that this body redo house democrats' homework for them, that the senate should supplement chairman schiff's sloppy work so it is more persuasive than chairman schiff himself bothered to make it. of course, every such demand simply confirms that house democrats have rushed forward with a case that is much too weak. back in june, speaker pelosi promised the house would build
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an iron clad case, never mind that she was basically promising impeachment months, months before the ukraine events, but that's a separate matter. she promised an iron clad case. and in march, speaker pelosi said this, impeachment is so divisive to the country that unless there is something so compelling and overwhelming and bipartisan, i don't think we should go down that path because it divides the country, end quote. by the speaker's own standards, the standards she set, she has failed the country. the case is not compelling, not overwhelming, and as a result, not bipartisan. the failure was made clear to
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everyone earlier this week when senator schumer began searching for ways the senate could step out of our proper role and try to fix the house democrats' failures for them. and it was made even more clear last night when speaker pelosi suggested that house democrats may be too afraid, too afraid to even transmit their shoddy work product to the senate. mr. president, it looks like the prosecutors are getting cold feet in front of the entire country and second guessing whether they even want to go to trial. they said impeachment was so urgent that it could not even wait for due process but now they're contend to sit on their hands. this is really comical. democrats' own actions concede that their allegations are unproven. the articles aren't just unproven, they're also constitutionally incoherent.
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incoherent. frankly, if either of these articles is blessed by the senate, we could easily see the impeachment of every future president of either party. let me say that again. if the senate blesses this historically low bar, we will invite the impeachment of every future president. the house democrats' allegations as presented are incompatible with our constitutional order. they're unlike anything that's ever been seen in 230 years of this republic. house democrats want to create new rules for this president because they feel uniquely enraged. they feel uniquely enraged, but long after the partisan fever of this moment has broken, the institutional damage will remain.
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i've described the threat to the presidency. this also imperils the senate itself. the house has created an unfair, unfinished product that looks nothing, nothing like any impeachment inquiry in american history. if the speaker ever gets her house in order, that mess will be dumped over here on the senate's lap. if the senate blesses this slap dash impeachment, if we say that from now on this is enough, then we invite an endless parade of impeachable trials. future houses of either party will feel free to toss up a jump ball every time they feel angry. free to swamp the senate with trial after trial no matter how
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baseless the charges. we would be giving future houses of either party unbelievable new power to paralyze the senate at their whim. more thin arguments, more incomplete evidence, more partisan impeachments. in fact, mr. president, this same house of representatives has already indicated that they themselves may not be finished impeachi impeaching. the house judiciary committee told a federal court this very week that it will continue its impeachment investigation even after voting on these articles and multiple democratic members have already called publicly for mo more. if the senate blesses this, if the nation accepts this, presidential impeachments may
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cease being a once in a generational event and become a constant part of the political background noise. this extraordinary tool of last resort may become just another part of the arms race of polarization. real statesmen would have recognized no matter their view of the president that trying to remove him on this thin and partisan basis could unsettle the foundations of our republic. real statesmen would have recognized no matter how much partisan animosity might be coursing through their veins, that cheapening the impeachment process was not the answer. historians will regard this as a great irony of our era, that so many who profess such concern for our norms and traditions themselves prove willing to
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trample our constitutional order to get their way. it is long past time for washington to get a little perspective. president trump is not the first president with a populous streak, not the first to make entrenched elites uncomfortable. he's certainly not the first president to speak blunt ly, to mistrust the administrative state, or to rankle unelected bureaucrats. heaven knows he's not the first president to assert the constitutional privileges of his office rather than roll over when congress demands unlimited sensitive information. none of these things, none of them is unprecedented. i'll tell you what would be unprecedented, it will be an


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