tv Inside Politics CNN December 25, 2019 9:00am-10:00am PST
christmas card. thank you so much for being with us on this special christmas edition of "at this hour." "inside politics" with manu raju starts right now. ♪ welcome to a special holiday edition of "inside politics." merry christmas. i'm manu raju. republican senator speaks out against gop leadership, saying she's disturbed by mitch mcconnell's handling of the impeachment trial. and speaker of the house nancy pelosi calls the impeachment vote, quote, inspiring, president hopes it inspires his 2020 supporters. we look at the president's fiery campaign push. today president trump's message is a warm holiday wish sent alongside the first lady. >> we say a special prayer for those military service members stationed far from home and we
renew our hope for peace among nations and joy to the world. on behalf of the entire trump family, we wish everyone a joyous and merry christmas and a very happy, happy new year. we begin this hour with a key republican senator feeling, quote, disturbed after senate majority leader mitch mcconnell promised to work in full coordination with the white house on an impeachment trial. it's been one week since house democrats voted to impeach president trump on obstruction of congress and abuse of power, those articles of impeachment still in the hands of house speaker nancy pelosi. congress is on a holiday recess leaving the impeachment issue at a full stalemate in washington. back home in alaska, lisa murkowski talks about her reaction after hearing what mcconnell said. she said in fairness when i heard that i was disturbed.
to me it means we have to take that step back from being hand in glove with the defense. a reminder that senator murkowski is on our list of key senators to watch in the weeks to come. she's not up for reelection until 2022 but she has been known to break from party lines before including voting against brett kavanaugh the supreme court nominee. cnn's lauren fox and tamara keith. and from west palm beach, florida, michael sheerer with "new york times." let's talk a little bit about murkowski. she can raise concerns about the process but ultimately the key question is how does she vote, how does she vote on compelling witnesses to come testify. does she vote against any sort of rule that does not have a deal or witnesses and documents. how does she vote on acquit tall. she also criticized house democrats in her statement.
it's not clear where she'll ultimately come down. >> we have been trying to get her to talk about how she feels about witnesses, how she feels about what the president was accused of. she really has avoided being in the spotlight. this is notable because it's really the first time we have heard from her. she's saying i don't like the way mitch mcconnell is conducting this process, but i didn't like the way pelosi was conducting it either. she's an independent minded republican here but she is not always someone who votes against the republican party line either. certainly someone to watch. >> democrats are hoping that at least four republican senators will break ranks and vote with the democrats. that could lead to 51 votes to compel witness testimony. look at the list of senators to watch here. it's hard to see where that four vote coalition comes across. you have lamar alexander of
tennessee, susan collins of maine. she's up for reelection. go down the list of those other republican senators. some of them need the president for their own reelection. you have mitt romney, who's been critical of the president. where does that fourth vote come from? it seems like it would be difficult for democrats to get. >> as you mentioned, initially there was a lot of talk of what about these republicans who are up for reelection in purple to blue states like a corey gardener. if he loses republicans, if president trump starts campaigning against him, he has no winnable coalition. he and some of the others have really been trying to thread this needle. president trump has made it clear he would see a vote against his wishes as a vote against him. typically people are dead to him after that. >> republicans know that warning. they've seen that happen. most of them don't run for reelection after they have crossed the president.
the republicans, how they've handled the course of the ukraine saga has been interesting to watch. i've spent the last few months asking direct questions to republican members about revelations that have been come up. was it okay for the president to ask for an investigation into his political rivals? why didn't the president mention corruption on his phone call with president zelensky even though this was apparently was what was seeking. when you get a chance to drill down on republicans, ask them specifically about what has come out through the course of this scandal, you get this. >> why don't you want to answer the question? is it okay for the president to ask a foreign country to investigate the bidens? >> our job is to look at a case if it comes over here, when it comes over here. >> the president asked for these investigations. is that okay? >> there's probably a whole lot of countries that would like a meeting in the house. key strategic ally. >> suddenly they're a key
strategic ally. never heard that before the past eight weeks. >> that's almost like saying why don't you frame your questions differently. >> is it ever appropriate for a president to ask a foreign country to investigate a political rival? >> let's stick to the facts. the president asked a country to participate in a case that happened in 2016. that's 100% legal. >> he also said biden on the phone call. >> it happens every day in america dealing with other countries. >> now, you spent a lot of time also entering republicans. when we get to the senate trial, do the republican senators need to present a clearer defense of the president's actions or should we expect more the way the house republicans have answered this, criticizing the process and then when you get to the merits, sidestep the question? >> i think you're going to get a little bit of both. there are going to be some
republican senators who are fierce allies of the president and they're going to give the same kind of answers that those folks gave you. i do think there might be others like collins and murkowski and some of the more independent minded senators who are going to be more interested in coming to dpri grips with the heart of the case. i think that's why we should all be very skeptical of the idea that senator murkowski and senator collins are actually going to vote with the democrats on the process questions of sort of whether witnesses, the procedures of the trial, whether witnesses are called or not. i think those are the kinds of votes that typically senators, even independent minded senators aren't likely to break with their leadership on. there's sort of a tradition in the senate that those kinds of votes tend to be the ones that everybody sticks together. then i think when you get to the heart of the case, when it's actually on the floor of the senate, you might get some
senators who are actually more interested in grappling with it. >> if there is a prolonged standoff, this could actually step on the democrats' message here. the democrats said the president is a clear and present danger. he needs to be removed from office. but the speaker has withheld the articles saying she wants to understand what the senate process is first before they could name impeachment managers. but they need to act now because of the urgent threat to the 2020 elections. >> the president was engaged in wrongdoing and is a clear and present danger. >> the danger persists. the risk is real. our democracy is at peril. >> impeachment is reserved for moments of grave danger when the constitutional order becomes dangerously out of balance, moments like this one. >> i'm pleased we're in no rush to send them over to mitch mcconnell to have an unfair, biassed process. >> speaker pelosi does not want
this to go on for a long time. >> i think the speaker is trying to make sure that the trial itself is not a sham, that it's not a joke. >> minority leader schumer is doing the right thing trying to get those parameters set. i think speaker pelosi at the right time will send those articles over. >> that's going to be the question coming out of the recess. january 6th the house returns. they vote on january 7th. she initially said after the impeachment vote she was hoping for a fair process, but then she got some backlash. he sa she said we want to know exactly what the process, we don't know who the managers are. it now remains for the senate to present the rules under which we will proceed. we can then vote managers. she doesn't say in this letter we must have witnesses, we must
have documents. that's the only way we'll turn over the articles. she's sayi ining needs to have understanding of what the process is. >> i think part of the difficulty for her is this is sort of a political quagmire and it's political messaging at this point. the longer she delays the easier it is for republicans to say if this is such a grave danger, why have you continued to delay this process. i do think the longer she delays for whatever reason, it just becomes a difficulty of messaging when you've got republicans on the other side saying if this was so important, why have you just continued to hold things up. >> you've had especially some of these freshmen members who have been difficulty getting behind an impeachment inquiry let alone voting for impeachment. now they're saying we need to get this out of our lap, let the senate deal with this. up next, trump's big 2020 plans
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oral-b. brush like a pro. that's an ad from team trump released right before the holidays. the campaign tried to fire up supporters and cash in on opposition to the democrats' impeachment push. just take a look at the home page of donaldjtrump.com. cnn's boris sanchez joins us live from west palm beach. president trump is on vacation. lots of visitors you're hearing about. tell us about those. >> reporter: impeachment has
loomed over the president's time here during the christmas holiday at mar-a-lago since he got here. he tweeted out a series of attacks on democrats, clearly still upset about impeachment. last night as he was arriving at mar-a-lago ready for a christmas eve dinner, he was asked specifically about nancy pelosi. he was asked if he prayed for pelosi while he attended church earlier in the day. remember the president criticized pelosi for saying that she prays for him. the president refused to answer the question, saying simply, quote, we're going to have a great year. notably about those guests you mentioned, a colorful crowd here at mar-a-lago as always. yesterday cameras captured the president alongside alan dershowitz. someone who's been speculated to potentially be joining the trump legal team. keep an eye out for that. also here alex ovechkin, the stanley cup champion washington
capitals player captured on social media giving a jersey to president trump last night. >> michael shear, bringing you back into the conversation, the president has been using impeachment to rally his base, but what kind of impact are we seeing on independent voters? the independent voters are the most significant in any election. are we getting a sense of whether it has really moved voters? >> the polls have suggested that the sentiment of the general public has not really moved over the last several months as all of this has unfolded on capitol hill. we saw the ins and outs and the back and forth. but the american public has remained remarkably steady. i think generally speaking in democrats, republicans and independents. i was struck actually there is no doubt that the president will
use and is using impeachment to fund raise and he's on twitter and he's angry about it. but i was actually struck on saturday when he delivered a speech to a bunch of young conservative activists here in west palm beach, that he delivered a long speech that really didn't dwell on impeachment. it hit all of the highlights that we've come to be familiar with from immigration to all of the other fake news and the media and all of the stuff we've heard from all of his make america great again rallies. and i suspect as soon as this is all over he will not forget about impeachment. it will always be a part of the campaign, but i really think that we're going to see him go back to his greatest hits and the things that got him to the white house in the first place. that raises the question whether or not what all of this will amount to in the end when we're actually toward the end of 2020
and facing election day. >> yeah, painting himself as a victim clearly has been his strategy from the campaign season to now. what's remarkable is just look at these poll numbers. through the course of his presidency, the president has hovered in the high 30s, low 40s. light now he's at 43% according to cnn's latest poll from december 12th, an uptick of a few points since september. we've had the mueller investigations, allegations the president obstructed justice, tried to undermine that investigation. we've had revelations involving the president's dealings with the hush money scandal to keep quiet those alleged extramarital affairs. >> here's the other thing. the economy is good. the unemployment rate is at a record low. the stock market is at a record high and donald trump's approval rating is in the 40s.
it is truly remarkable. on the plus side he has all of these things. on the negative side he has all of these things. americans made up their minds about president trump before he was elected, certainly by the time he was inaugurated. democrats are cemented against him. republicans have really consolidated behind him. there haven't been many people straying from the president except the ones that were kind of against him from the start. and independents are pretty split. this is not normal. >> he's maintained this unity among that base. what does he do with suburban voters, people who revolted during the midterm campaign? the message from the trump campaign heading into 2020, they're already planning a very busy 2020, a couple events are already on the calendar heading into florida, heading into ohio
in january. but also the message is also they're trying to push on the issues of the economy, health care, impeachment. let's see if the president can stick to those messages. this is what the campaign had put out on their website. >> we're enjoying the hottest and strongest economy this country has seen in 50 years. the u.s. has added more than 7 million new jobs since president trump was elected. remind your relative that the democrats' proposed government takeover of health care would take away the health insurance of 180 million americans. impeaching president trump has been all that democrats can think of since day one. >> president trump asked for nothing in exchange for lethal military aid to ukraine. >> this is on a website launched by the campaign. some fact checking here. of course, the trump administration is trying to kill the affordable care act in court right now. that would include the
preexisting protections that are included in that law. the president did ask for investigation into his political rivals. several witnesses testified they saw a link between that and the delay of military aid to ukraine. the economy of course was on an upward trajectory toward the end of obama's time in office. is this an effective argument in trying to paint that contrast with democrats when it comes to courting those independent voters? >> if he can stay on message around the economy, i would say it is largely an effective message in key suburban swing districts. that is a message he tried to present in 2018 and spent a lot of time reaching out, connecting with republican base voters in 2018. one of the things we did see is a consolidation of his support. certainly there were districts across the board where he lost voters. when you spent time with evangelical voters, if anything they have felt vindicated because they have seen wins from him. i would argue that culture wars
are something he has never been able to stay away from. >> if you're the democrats, do you focus on impeachment? do you go back to these domestic issues? or do you focus on the chaos in the white house? how do you prosecutor the most effective argument against the president in 2020? >> i spent a lot of time talking to those moderate democrats from places that president trump won in 2016. their message was really what they had won in the week during impeachment. they had passed the ndaa, a defense authorization bill. i had one moderate member who had passed this very sort of arcane bill that was tucked into the ndaa that he couldn't stop talking about because it helped his district. that's the kind of messaging you're going to hear from democrats who have to win over the independent voters. they're not going to be talking about impeachment. the economy is the bigger deal back home. >> the question is who can make
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the most diverse field of presidential candidates ever. dana bash takes us inside the biggest political stories of the year. ♪ it has been quite the year in politics. here are the top nine political stories of 2019. it didn't get as many headlines as other big political stories, but make no mistake about it, the president's success in getting his judges on the bench will have implications for years to come. thanks to senate majority leader mitch mcconnell who is focused line a laser on this the senate confirmed a record 50 judges. >> president trump announced his reelection campaign the day he
was inaugurated. a historically early start that his team took advantage of, raising more than $165 million, nearly 100 million in this year alone. >> it's much more efficient two years out to try to find a possible donor. it's a consider advantage the other side won't have because you can't replace time. >> control of those big coffers contributed to the president's firm grip on the gop, which in various ways became even more clearly the party of donald trump in 2019. >> take back our democracy. >> the democrats' 2020 presidential field took shape early in the year as the most diverse ever. while women and candidates of color running for a single party than ever before. the first openly gay candidate, a major contend er.
it was also the biggest. cnn's october debate was the most crowded stage in the history of presidential primaries. >> i want to give a reality check here to elizabeth because no one on this stage wants to protect billionaires. not even the billionaire wants to protect billionaires. we just have different approaches. your idea is not the only idea. >> i think as democrats, we are going to succeed when we dream big and fight hard. not when we dream small and quit before we get started. >> that dropped to seven in december thanks to the parties increasing fund-raising and polling thresholds. no question defying the democratic primary fight this year more than this. do voters want an idealogical revolution or a candidate focused on relief from donald trump? at the top of the field senators bernie sanders and elizabeth warren are the revolutionaries, promising sweeping change. while former vice president joe biden, mayor pete buttigieg and
senator amy klobuchar say incremental change is more realistic. nowhere was this more on display than health care. >> 71% of democrats support medicare for all. >> stay tuned for the answer in 2020. 2019 started with a historic new class of house democrats. a record number of women sworn in and many more firsts. the first muslim american women, the first native american women and the first female house speaker in history reclaimed the gavel. >> i'm particularly proud to be woman speaker of the house of this congress, which marks the 100th year of women having the right to vote. >> speaking of nancy pelosi, going head to head with president trump is one of the 2019 story lines.
starting with the longest government shutdown in u.s. history -- >> government workers will not be receiving their paychecks. the president seems to be insensitive to that. he thinks maybe they could just ask their father for more money, but they can't. >> the state of the union speech has been cancelled by nancy pelosi because she doesn't want to hear the truth. >> in october a clash over the president deciding to pull troops out of syria. the president tweeted a photo of pelosi having what he called an unhinged meltdown. she owned the image making it her social media cover photo. >> article one is adopted. >> the year ended with the speaker reluctantly leading the house in making trump only the third president in history to be impeached. >> i pray for the president all the time. >> after nearly two years, robert mueller concluded his russia investigation with a 448-page report. on the key question of collusion, mueller's probe did
not establish that members of the trump campaign conspired or coordinated with the russian government in the election interference activities. it noted ten instances where the president may have obstructed justice, writing, while this report does not conclude that the president committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him. much to the outrage of democrats, attorney general william barr tried to play it as exoneration. >> the evidence developed by the special counsel is not sufficient to establish that the president committed an obstruction of justice offense. >> democrats were hoping mueller would clear it up, but his nearly seven-hour testimony, slow moving and drama free did not. then a whistleblower complaint that trump urged the ukrainian president to investigate joe biden and his son hunter in exchange for nearly $400 million in u.s. military aid. >> that call was perfect. >> moderate vulnerable house
democrats who had resisted impeachment before changed their minds and called for an inquiry. an equally reluctant house speaker announced the house would do just that. >> the actions taken to date by the president have seriously violated the constitution. >> a day later the white house released a rough transcript of that july conversation. in it is what democrats would focus their impeachment inquiry on, an apparent quid pro quo. the impeachment inquiry would make its way through the house intelligence committee with closed-door witness testimonies followed by several days of notable public testimony. >> was there a quid pro quo? as i testified previously with regard to the requested white house call and the white house meeting, the answer is yes. >> former trump russia advisor fiona hill called out some of the president's team for carrying out a, quote, domestic political errand and sent a
warning. >> russian security services and their proxies have geared up to repeat their interference in the 2020 election. we are running out of time to stop them. >> you can't make your case against the president because nothing happened. >> democrats drafted two articles of impeachment, abuse of power and obstruction of congress, which passed the committee and later the full house on party line votes. the year ending with donald j. trump the third president in history to be impeached. so how does it all end? you're going to have to wait until 2020. dana bash, cnn, washington. up next for us, if you turn on a television in iowa, which democrat will you see the most? we'll be right back. what are you doing back there, junior?
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topping our political radar today, president trump's lawyer rudy giuliani coming under fire for a notation on his facebook page that listed him as a former attorney general of the united states, a job he never held. he did, however, serve as associate attorney general under president reagan in the '80s. the facebook page has now been corrected. christmas day has come and gone in north korea with no sign of a threatened, quote, christmas gift for president trump. experts suspected that the gift may be some sort of missile launch. the gift may be a new hard line
taking denuclearization off the table. michael bloomberg and tom steyer spending more than twice as much as all the other 2020 democrat candidates combined. the battle of the billionaires has led to an unprecedented level of spending in an incredible $212 million in tv and ad buys before a single vote has been cast. >> this guy spends his time tweeting. this guy gets things done. as new york mayor he guided a shaken city in the wake of 9/11. >> to take out a bully like trump -- >> someone needs to stand up to him. >> and beat him where he thinks he's strong. >> beat him on the economy. >> beat him on the economy. >> we have to pebeat him on the economy. >> that's why i'm for tom steyer. >> any indication that these ads from steyer and bloomberg are getting any traction in this race to far? >> i think the biggest indication that they are making a difference is when you look at polling and name recognition.
you can track as michael bloomberg has spend more and mur mon more money on advertising, his name recognition has gone up in the polls. money can buy you name recognition and in such a crowded field that matters. we are seeing mayors in key cities across the country coming out for him. again, though, he's not campaigning in any of the early voting states. >> can he sustain. super tuesday people will see his ads but may have already moved on. up next, a gloomy nickname may be the one thing senator mitch mcconnell and nancy pelosi can actually agree on on this holiday. was a softer, more secure diaper closure. as a mom, i knew it had to work. there were babies involved... and they weren't saying much.
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time of reflection. if you look at speaker nancy pelosi's annual letter to democratic colleagues, she's feeling pretty good about 2019 despite senator mitch mcconnell's roadblocks she writes, we have passed more than 400 bills of which 275 are bipartisan. hou the grim reaper may be the one thing that pelosi and mcconnell actually agree on. >> if i'm still majority leader of the senate after next year, none of those things are going to pass the senate. they won't even be voted on. think of me as the grim reaper. >> we have mitch mcconnell who in his fund-raising pitches has described himself as the grim reaper. leader mcconnell seems to take
great pride in calling himself the grim reaper. >> for the first time in my memory i agree with nancy pelosi. i am indeed the grim reaper. >> the grim reaper says all we're doing is impeachment. no. we have 275 bipartisan bills on your desk. >> so that is one thing they agree on. let me ask you about how this plays in during the campaign for control of congress. democrats making the case they passed bills, they're sitting on mcconnell's desk. is that enough for them to keep control of the house, to argue to voters they did what they could but republicans wouldn't take it up? >> look, i think this is a reflection of what we were talking about earlier about the deep polarization in the country where the two bases of the parties are sort of locked in in a way that even we haven't seen in the past. for the republican base, they want mitch mcconnell to be the grim reaper.
they don't want the democrats to be able to pass any of their legislation so that's good for republican candidates to go home to their districts and be able to say they blocked all these liberal policies. and on the democratic side, the democratic base wants to see the democrats trying and are fired up by the fact that the republicans are stopping it all. i think the big question will be what happens in the middle. in those purple districts where there are loot t of independent how does that play. i think as we've seen, independents are split right now. and i think all the democrats can do is try to keep passing the legislation and making the case that if it weren't for the republican majorities, they'd have a better outcome. >> now the question is whether or not that is enough for republicans too to keep control of the senate. the senate has been a place where there's been virtually no
legislating. mitch mcconnell has made the case all these trump judges confirmed, but they have not passed legislation. is that going to be enough for corey gardener to go back home and campaign on, the most vulnerable republican senators, can they campaign on confirming trump judges and that alone? >> mitch mcconnell loves to campaign on confirming trump judges. it's one of the lead lines that gets the crowd really energized. it's been a concern for some republican members who not just feel like this is a bad campaign strategy but who feel like i came to the senate to do things. i want to pass a prescription drug bill, i want to pass legislation. >> there's chuck grassley had some concerns, there's headlines of not getting a drug pricing bill passed because he says that mcconnell undercut what they're
trying to do. some of these members are pushing for these bills to get through. the white house wants it through, but mitch mcconnell may not. >> mitch mcconnell has a pretty single-minded focus on these judges. 1 in 4 circuit court judges in america are trump judges. in three years they've been able to put more of these judges in place than president obama was able to do in eight years. it is a remarkable record that he has been able to do. and president trump likes to claim credit, but this is mitch mcconnell's baby. he feels that he is shaping american policy for a generation. >> that will long outlast any of their time in office. >> yes. coming up, a fallen soldier comes home after making the ultimate sacrifice in combat. stay with us. yet some say it isn't real milk. i guess those cows must actually be big dogs. sit!
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a somber moment today as a country honors a soldier who made the ultimate sacrifice just days before christmas. sergeant first class michael goble of new jersey died in afghanistan. he was a 20th american service member killed by hostile fire this year in afghanistan. president trump made his annual christmas call to troops stationed around the world. >> because of your brave and selfless service, americans can
celebrate christmas in safety and you crushed isis from the air, kept the taliban running scared and conducted countless lethal air strikes against the enemies of freedom. what happened with isis was incredible. we took over 100% of the caliphate and destroyed them. that doesn't mean they don't come back in smaller sections and we handle them as they come back. >> more americans have died fighting this year, fighting the taliban and other insurgents this year since any year compared to 2014. that's when they announced the end of combat operations in afghanistan. at the same time the u.s. is trying to cut a deal with the taliban on a peace accord. how do you think this is going to impact things as we head into 2020? >> given the fact that the taliban has been continually carrying out bloody attacks in afghanistan, yet we still continue to go back to the table with the taliban over the last
few months, that indicates this is not going to be something that is necessarily going to signal tehe end of those talks. president trump said that the talks were dead in september. he then revived those talks later this winter. the question here is how can the u.s. really get into a place where it is safe for american soldiers to be there. as you said, there are more than 20 americans who have died in afghanistan this year. who is sergeant goble? let's look at what his friends and family are saying about him. he is someone who represents the best of american soldiers. that's what folks are saying. he was fearless. he was devoted to what he was doing. he's also a father. he had a young daughter. he was finishing up his final tour, just weeks away from that. today on christmas day we've watched this solemn ceremony of him returning to dover air force base. >> just weeks before his own
birthday himself. heartbreaking story. thank you for that. thank you for joining us on the special holiday edition of "inside politics." brianna keilar starts right now. ♪ merry christmas. i'm brianna keilar live from cnn's washington headquarters for this special edition of cnn right now. the battle over the impeachment process is still underway during this holiday. the latest, one of the republican senators who may be on the fence, lisa murkowski of alaska is voicing her concern with majority leader mitch mcconnell's coordination with the white house over the upcoming impeachment trial. in an interview, murkowski said and in fairness, when i heard that, i was disturbed. to me, it means we have to take a step pack from being hand in glove with the defense. so i heard what l