tv CNN Newsroom with Poppy Harlow and Jim Sciutto CNN December 20, 2019 7:00am-8:00am PST
and end just as quickly. congress is responding by leaving town for the holiday break without a deal. mitch mcconnell says talks with chuck schumer are stuck. house speaker nancy pelosi is not sending over the impeachment articles to the senate unless she thinks the trial will be a fair one. let's begin on capitol hill with the latest. cnn's correspondent is with us. how long could this impasse last? >> reporter: it's uncertain. what we're hearing behind the scenes is that the house democrats are preparing for the possibility that the trial could start the week of january 6th which has been the expectation all along. we don't know if that will be the case that it will start at that time. what i'm hearing is there's prep work that will happen over the holiday break. the staff in consultation with
the democratic leadership will prepare for the possibility that the trial could start that second week of january. there's several steps that need to happen before that were to take place, namely there needs to be some resolution to the stand-off between chuck schumer and mitch mcconnell over what the trial will look like. what chuck schumer wants is witnesses. he wants documents agreed to upfront. mitch mcconnell said those decisions should be made later and they should agree to the nuts and bolts of the trial initially. there needs to be a move by the house speaker. she needs to send over the articles to the senate. she's saying they need managers to the case. she said she needs to understand how the senate will take care of that. the house won't be back until
january 7th to vote. behind the scenes i'm told this work is happening where the democrats are saying it could still happen and that's why they're preparing for this significant trial to determine whether the president should be removed from office. we'll see what happens. the president wants a trial to happen. the republican leaders say if they don't send over the articles that's fine with them. they're ready to move on to other issues. >> do you get a break? you never get a vacation. >> reporter: that's the big question. >> let's hope he gets a break. what is the white house saying this morning? the president wrote he wants this to happen immediately? >> reporter: the president wants to expedite this process. he's frustrated and angry over being impeached and now the
senate trial he's been asking for may be delayed. the white house strategy is stunted by nancy pelosi holding back the articles of impeachment. the president has been asking allies what is she doing? there's question whether pat cipiloni should lead the president's defense. the president asking allies what they think of him. some allies are concerned he may not give the president the tv moments he's looking for. the president wants a show. there are questions about how much involvement some republicans in the house should have. some of the president's allies in the house should have, people like jim jordan and mark meadows. that's an open question at the white house. as for the two articles of impeachment, on obstruction of congress the president will argue executive privilege. they'll refer to previous
democratic investigations that withheld documents from congress. on abuse of power, the president likely to argue his call with president zelensky was perfect. >> if they're talking about the obama administration and fast and furious and eric holder, they were compelled to hand over a lot of those documents. thank you very much. with me now ron brownstein and harry lipman. harry, where does this go? pelosi wants a trial. it's not likely they're get the witnesses they want. mcdonnell saying he's not impartial. there's no timeframe to send them to the senate and everyone is leaving washington. where does this go? >> look, i'm not sure how unlikely it is. she's got this tiny bit of leverage that once you get into the senate, schumer can huff and
puff, but they know well that mcconnell will be an absolute tyrant and give him nothing. he might have moved too quickly did mcconnell to say it's going to be partial and i'll make it happen quickly. she needs three republicans in favor of some kind of witnesses and it's interesting, poppy, there's something like 70% of the country that right now polls in favor of it. if you do the math, that means some of the very hard core trump base is even saying that. i don't know if it's a hopeless mission, but it's going to be a war of attrition very quickly. there is no specific time limit, but she has to constitutionally at some point send them over. >> you make a good point. ron, jim was told earlier on the show they would like some people
to testify like mick mulvaney. >> the question is whether they're going to go with institutional considerations or partisan considerations. there was a lot of focus on democrats where trump carried their districts. now we have republicans in swing states for 2020 like corey gardener, susan collins. they on one hand are unlikely to break from the president on the ultimate issue. i think they need to convey to their voters they're taking this seriously. to some extent the balance has been reversed in terms of which party faces the tougher political consideration. there are a few democrats who will be cross-pressured as well. >> there are two lanes on that
issue. you have jim kliburn saying he could hold the articles indefinite indefinitely. then you have republican senators saying i don't know how long -- democrat senators saying i don't know how long you can wait here. how long can the democrats wait before it becomes a problem for them? you said we have to expedite this, we have to impeach now because the 2020 election is at risk. >> depends if they can win the war for public opinion. this is about fairness and witnesses and not gamesmanship. the pressure gets greater. they're certain especially democrat house members who are nervous. they don't want to campaign putting their stakes in this and
nothing happening. i think pelosi needs to try to keep it on the high ground, schumer too. schumer said something about the chief justice's schedule. no, no, no. this is about witnesses and a fair trial. >> what are you looking for, ron, in terms of the impact on 2020 and the impact on politics? impeachment is a political process. it has political implications for both parties. if you look at the new cnn polling, you saw it. the president is gaining ground in head to head match ups to the top leading democrats in the 2020 race. it's those democrats that are slipping and not the president. >> as i wrote yesterday, the president's re-election is on an ice edge tweebetween satisfactin the economy and doubts about his character and respect for the
rule of law. in the cnn poll there was a significant increase in the share of americans who say the economy is excellent or good. that lifts every president . back in '04 90% of the population voted for bush based on the economy. 40% of the people who say the economy is excellent still disapprove of president trump. that is largely because of the behavior we're talking about. he's got this enormous tail wind of economic satisfaction, but he still has a head wind of doubts about the way he comports himself. that leaves us on the edge where he's in the game, but his approval rating is not rising as fast and that's where you can measure the cost of the kind of behavior we're witnessing in
this ukraine scandal. >> it's a great point. history has not been like that. you have a great economy it helps your approval. thank you both. >> thanks, poppy. still to come the impeachment trial is in limbo as nancy pelosi holds off sending the articles to the senate. the white house rejecting a new bill aimed at punishing russia for a host of actions. plus gary tuckland has watched every democratic presidential debates. he will join us with what they're saying after the latest showdown. >> she just comes across as having thoughtful specific answers and not rehearsed talking points. >> when the others were bickering, she was there to diffuse it.
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there will be a fair impartial trial. with me now is jerry connelly of virginia. he sits on both the foreign affairs and oversight committees. i don't know. i mean, schumer and mcconnell say there's an impasse. pelosi is not showing her cards in terms of what would prompt her to send the articles to the senate. are you comfortable with an indefinite hold on the constitutional process? >> it would be my hope it's not indefinite. i think what speaker pelosi is trying to do is have some sense of what the rules of engagement are going to be and the trial -- let's remember it's a trial -- in the senate. to have perspective jurors like mit mitch mcconnell and lindsey graham announce in advance they're going to acquit, if that
were a trial in a court of law you would be dismissed from the jury because you come into it with a prior bias. >> i hear you. i'm a daughter of a litigator. i've been in many courtrooms, but it's not a courtroom. it's an apparent political process. >> it is a trial. >> i hear you. trust me. all senators take the oath to be in impartial. i wonder what it's going to take. if you were speaker pelosi, what would be your threshold for feeling like it's fair enough to send over the articles? mcconnell is not going to take back his comments on fox that he's not an impartial juror. what is it going to take? >> hopefully to buy some space to allow chuck schumer and mitch mcconnell to come together and reach some agreement on how to proceed as their predecessors did in the clinton impeachment process. she can't do it indefinitely. we don't have the leverage as
mitch mcconnell said earlier last night, he doesn't care if the articles of impeachment never reach him. don't have a lot of leverage. we know that. >> jim clyburg said the same thing, he's okay with an indefinite hold. >> i don't think democrats from swing districts who put themselves on the line feel the same way. they want to see the process come to a conclusion. >> i think you're right. cnn's polling shows there's a decline in national support for impeaching the president. what was striking to me was what democrat voters said. 77% of them want the president impeached, but that's down 13 points from 90% in november. why do you think that is? what's the why for you on that?
>> you know, i don't know that i would read a lot into a particular poll result. these things have gone up and down. the support for impeachment was 36% in late july and early august. >> i hear you on that. it didn't move for nixon until a month before. what's going on in democrats' minds that there's a 13-point drop in a month? >> i think partly a lot of democrats have concerns that as we get into the presidential re-election year, we don't want impeachment impeding the ability to compete and hopefully remove trump from office that way. i hear that a lot from democrats, a concern about that. so that may be part of the reflection. as one of your panelists said before me, the economy obviously has a positive impact overall polling, even with democrats.
>> the economy is doing great. it's hard to argue that. it's not perfect for everyone, but it is improving. final question to you -- >> if i could interrupt. as you pointed out, it's not performing the way politically trump would like it and not performing the way it has for other president. >> because there are con kwe consequences for things you do and say. let me ask you another question. what do you make of the "washington post" reporting of president trump's belief that ukraine meddled in the 2016 election, that belief was influenced by vladimir putin in a private meeting in germany in 2017, the president saying, quote, putin told me? >> that was chilling when i read that, poppy. unquestionably you accept as a
source vladimir putin? it's led, frankly, to impeachment. the president acted on that belief with a bogus, debunked theory about ukrainian rather than russian interference in the u.s. election. there were all kinds of pieces to that conspiracy theory that have been disproved. crowd strike was in the ukraine. well, no, it's in california. it's headed by a ukrainian. no, it's headed by a russian. these are proven facts. none of them seem to have penetrated mr. trump's consciousness. tragically for him he acted on it. >> i think my christmas wish, if you will, is that in 2020 facts matter even more to every american because they're so important and they can get so distorted. >> i agree. >> congressman, happy holiday. >> you too, poppy. >> 2020 democratic candidates
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unfounded allegations from republicans about his son's involvement in ukraine, joe biden highlighted his desire to work with republicans across the aisle. >> if anyone has reason to be angry with the republicans and not want to cooperate is me, the way they've attacked me, my son and my family. i have no love. but the fact is we have to be able to get things done. >> cnn's correspondent m.j. lee is with me now. who stood out to you last night? >> first of all the fact that the stage was smaller than it has ever been, that really showed. it allowed each of the candidates to dig into their answers, flex different muscles and engage their rivals. speaking of, pete buttigieg got a lot of incoming. it's something we expected to see happen at the last debate and we didn't. this time around his rivals were
ready, whether it was elizabeth warren going after him on fund-raising or amy klobuchar going after him on his lack of experience. he took a lot of incoming, but he was really. he knew the attacks were coming. as he was getting attacks, joe biden avoided a lot of conflict. >> one of the candidates lobbing a stinging attack on pete buttigieg was amy klobuchar. she brought in $5,000 since the debate last night. was this what she needed? >> she had a strong night last night from leaning into her mid western roots. that was not a mistake. that was a message she wanted to send that the states that
hillary clinton lost, she could be the one to win them. >> she's won very trumpy -- she won michelle bachman's district in minnesota. she has the ability to do that. >> this is the candidates pivoting to the general election. they're not that concerned about the primaries. they want to take home the message to the voters once it is me versus president trump, i'm going to be the person who doesn't sort of fall to the mistakes that happened in 2016 that didn't allow a democrat to enter the white house. >> the candidates were asked the final question of the night which was an interesting one. if they would ask for forgiveness from a fellow candidate, what would it be? the answers were striking. >> yeah. this was an interesting question. the question was would you ask for forgiveness from a rival on stage or would you give a gift. al men on the stage chose the answer of gift. they said i would give my book
or the gift of my idea. the two women on stage went for forgiveness. let's listen. >> i will ask for forgiveness. i know that sometimes i get really worked up. sometimes i get a little hot. i don't really mean to. >> i would ask for forgiveness any time any of you get mad at me. i can be blunt, but i am doing this because i think it is so important to pick the right candidate here. >> this was just such a striking moment to me. we talk so much about the fact that there are multiple women in the race this time. we talk about how in 2016 one barrier was broken. a woman was chosen as the presidential nominee, hillary clinton. still a moment like this indicates that for women, including women candidates run for office, they're held to a different standard or they feel
like they're held to a different standard having to apologize or explain away the reasons they get emotional or worked up. for elizabeth warren it was striking. just a few weeks ago she sent out an email saying i'm angry and i own it. >> it was so telling. m.j., thank you. >> thank you. >> with just 45 days until the iowa caucuses, voters in that state are starting to narrow down their choices. gary tuckman spent last night with that group of voters. he's in iowa for us this morning. good morning, gary. what i find interesting is you watched this debate with the same group of voters every time. what did you learn? >> reporter: every time, all six times. we watched with 11 voters. they think all the candidates did well. the one who took their top
honors currently not one of the top tier candidates. we've watched all the presidential debates with the same group of iowa democrats. who do you think did best in this debate? >> amy klobuchar. >> klobuchar. >> klobuchar. >> klobuchar and biden. >> klobuchar and biden. >> klobuchar and warren. >> klobuchar. >> klobuchar and warren. >> klobuchar. >> sanders. >> klobuchar. >> reporter: amy klobuchar was picked by 10 of the 11 democrats. >> she just comes across as having thoughtful specific answers and not rehearsed talking points. >> when the others were bickering, she was there to diffuse it and bring focus back on why they were there. >> reporter: another consensus, the belief that joe biden had his strongest debate. >> his answers were direct. he stayed focus and reminded me of the eight years under obama.
that brought memories back for me. >> reporter: what was the most important moment in the debate? >> i've been waiting a long time for a woman president in the united states. i'll be 75 on monday. i am so excited to see two women on that debate stage who just did so well. i'm so proud of them. i think either one of them would be a magnificent president. >> the most important part of the debate was important to me personally as a transgender person hearing bernie sanders say his health care would cover transhealth care. >> reporter: temple high wyatt chose elizabeth warren and now six more are undecided. >> janice? >> amy klobuchar.
>> eli yas? >> bernie sanders. >> leslie? >> cory booker. >> you have a shirt. your husband? >> cory booker. >> why cory booker? >> because he's kind, intelligent and help wants to unit the country. >> reporter: mira, eugene and ed remain undecided. >> are you going to stay undecided until the last second? >> yes, stay tuned. >> reporter: the voters say they've been pleased with the tone in all these debates. they say it's a positive contrast to another candidate in the race, that candidate being president donald trump. poppy? >> that was fascinating. thank you very much. have a good holiday. a group of former law makers and officials are taking sides against the white house in a
subpoena face-off with congress. next why this group is different from others who have taken on the president. ( ♪ ) 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! get the chevy employee discount for everyone today.
so a group of legal experts and former members of congress are calling out the white house for stop walling house subpoenas. this group is different than other critics in an important way. they're figures in the republican party according to "politico." while they're weighing in on a case that's not directly related
to the president's impeachment, it could impact it. with me now are peter smith and mickey edwards. thank you for being here. when you look at this, the brief that you guys have signed on to is urging a federal appeals court to reject the white house's argument here that directs staffers like don mcgahn can ignore the subpoena. "the trump administration maintains immunity for mcgahn is not unusual. a justice department opinion notes such a stance as far back as the nixon era." is this, congressman smith, different than what the white house did? there was stop walling during fast and furious. >> it's the steady erosion of
congressional authority as one of the three parts of government. to me article ii is absolutely clear. it is the congress, not the courts, being able to compel testimony and documents. i'm less concerned about what practice has become and what all the opinions are and more about saying isn't it time for the congress to assert itself, whether it's a republican or democrat, whatever the issue, what's good for the goose is good for the gander. >> congressman edwards, if you go back to the nixon administration, the nixon staffers did end up testifying. >> well, whether it was the clinton impeachment, whether it was nixon, whether it was thomas jefferson, the executive has always understood that a subpoena carried weight. you were supposed to respond to it. the problem is that members of
congress today don't remember that. they don't assert their authority. so what we tried to do is with this lawsuit was to not just address the issue on the table, but to make the point that the president and his officials in the executive branch are not above the law, that the congress has a right to ask for and to get responses to their subpoenas and to be able to ask questions. it's a fundamental question. >> it is a fundamental question. congressman smith, there's a fundamental power that congress has that it doesn't use and that's the power of contempt. it has not been exercised. would you advocate for that given all the stone walling? >> the fact of the matter is that inherent contempt is a tool that can be used. if the situation is dire enough,
it should be used. i have great respect for the fact it wasn't used because we have somebody -- the difference i make between richard nixon and the current president, donald trump, nixon knew when he was breaking the law. he knew when he was doing the wrong thing. when he got caught, he came to it. that is not the case today apparently. so i think the exercise of inherent contempt could have led to an absolute current and present crisis in which there were law men and women on both sides protecting and trying to seize. i have respect given this president's temperament and amorality when it comes to power, i think they were wise to not use it. >> congressman edwards, the mcgahn issue is separate from
impeachment. it's related in a way. on that subject you have said something that really struck me. that's that if the senate trial is going to be, in your mind, a phony one or not a, quote, fair trial, you're okay with seeing articles of impeachment not sent or held indefinitely from the senate. >> that's right. >> help make the case. isn't that abdicating the constitutional process laid out for impeachment? >> no, because, poppy, what's happening is it's considered a trial where the defendant is working with the -- the defendant in this case being donald trump, donald trump is working with the majority leader of the senate, the jury, the people who are supposed to be trying the case and telling them what to do. mitch mcconnell has been very clear about that. he's taking his orders from the white house. he's taking his orders from the
person they're supposed to be judging. no, i think this is a case where what the -- what nancy pelosi is doing, she may hold it up a little while. she may hold it up a long time. let it stand. he has been impeached. that's a serious rebuke. instead of letting mitch mcconnell or the party hacks going along with saying we'll acquit him, nothing to see here, move on. we don't need to let that happen. >> this is from two former republican members of congress. let me ask you both -- let me start with you congressman smith, what is your message to the current congress? >> the fact of the matter is that you're in a situation -- we've all been in them where you're damned if you do and damned if you don't. it's a tough decision. if i could have one thing i
would say stand back, look in the mirror, understand you'll look at that face every morning for the rest of your life. you want to be proud of the person you're looking at. look at the facts. look at the constitution and stand fast. >> congressman edwards? >> i totally agree with that. remember the oath of office you took. life goes on. if you lose your election, life goes on. don't be afraid to do the thing that you were elected to do which is to stand up, conduct oversight, do what's right, obey the constitution. if that causes you to lose your election, go do something else. as peter said, look in the mirror. this is your legacy. people who are being complicit in this coverup are going to live with that for the rest of their life. that's going to be the lead sentence in their obituary. >> congressmen, thank you for being with me. have a good holiday.
>> thank you, poppy. up next why the trump administration is calling a bipartisan effort to deter and punish russian for election entinterference and a host of or issues unnecessary. largest 5g n. so you can stay connected like this. score a last minute this. get home easier, like this. and share all of this... with that. so do this. on that. with us. and now, buy a samsung note 10+ 5g and get one free when you add a line. (vo) thewith every attempt, strto free itself,pider's web. it only becomes more entangled. unaware that an exhilarating escape is just within reach.
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and for the annex of crimea. let's dig into it. lauren fox joins me from capitol hill. what is the white house objecting to? it's not a partisan bill. >> reporter: it's not. it was introduced in february and lindsey graham is one of the lead sponsors. it would hammer russia with additional sanctions and require a two third vote of the senate if the president decided to leave nato. this is a bipartisan piece of legislation. this is something that the administration is warning could be a huge problem for them. they're arguing in a 22-page letter from a state department official that this is an unnecessary piece of legislation and it's in, quote, need of
significant changes. lindsey graham said he needs this bill to be meaningful. it had not been scheduled for a floor vote. that could come in the new year. tension here between the trump administration and of course congress. this isn't the only time it's happened when it comes to russian angisanctions. >> lauren, thanks very much. coming up, something very cool. >> this reaction is very simple. it produces three things. water, oxygen, gas and heat. >> her talent, science at the miss america pageant. were the judges impressed? with sofi, get your credit cards right by consolidating your credit card debt into one monthly payment. and get your interest rate right so you can save big. get a no-fee personal loan
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the oxygen gas is trapped in the dish soap which forms the foam. now the next time you see a bottle of hydrogen peroxide i hope you impress your friends with what you learned. science really is all around us. >> how great is that? congratulations to her. she hopes to break stereotypes about what it means to be miss america. congratulations to all them. miss georgia was the first runner up. thank you for joining us today. i'm poppy harlow. jim is back monday and aisi'll you back after the holidays. kate boldu kate bolduan is next. hello everyone.
i'm indicakate bolduan. washington is quiet this morning. congress packed up and left town for the holidays leaving huge uncertainty about what is going to happen when they return. a high stakes game of chicken it seems between mitch mcconnell and nancy pelosi. pelosi saying she's not sending the articles of impeachment over to the senate until they know what the process will look like. mcconnell responding, quote, fine by me. here's what senate lindsey graham said after meeting with the president last night. >> he thinks he should have his day in court sooner rather than later. i don't know what they're up to in the house. this is a political stunt. it's not funny. it tells me they don't have confidence in their case. >> cnn lauren fox is