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tv   Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer  CNN  December 11, 2019 3:00pm-4:00pm PST

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this is cnn breaking news. >> welcome to our viewers in the united states and around the world. i'm wolf blitzer in the situation with our breaking impeachment coverage. the house is about to begin debate on two articles of
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impeachment accusing president trump of abuse of power and obstruction of justice. it's all leading up to an expected vote tomorrow to send the impeachment resolution to the full house of representatives. phil mattingly is joining us. what can we expect tonight and the next 24 hours. >> the impeachment hearings are over. the articles of emimpeachmeimpe out. here's what you will see tonight. the house and judiciary committee coming together for a legislative mark-up for abuse of power and objection of congress. tonight, you will just see opening statements from all 44 members of the judiciary committee and those are liable to line up what you have heard. democrats making the case they say bolsters the argument for
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articles of impeachment and republicans trying to punksture that case in a unified meeting tomorrow. democrats aren't expected to try to amend those two articles of impeachment during that process, while republicans are. can offer any amendment they want and strip and revise those articles in any way they can. democrats hold the majority. anything republicans put up is expected to be defeated. it is expected to be lengthy and divisive and a lot of what we have seen the last couple of weeks leading up to the house floor vote on the two articles of impeachment. and reality remains as we go through the next stop of the process, by the end of next week the house will have voted to impeach president trump, wolf. >> what are you thinking among senate republicans as they prepare for an impeachment trial probably early next january.
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>> it's what some senate republicans and senate democrats can see in that trial in going forward and in interviews with several top republicans, there has been a shift, keep in mind, president trump and his top advisors made clear they want senate testimony. they asked for hunter biden and the whistle-blower to come testify not just generally for trial but live in person. senate republicans are moving sharply away from that idea. multiple senate republicans we have talked to have been lining up with what senator mitch mcconnell thinks, they present the case, the president's team put out their defense and they have a vote to either move or acquit the president from office. they are making two points. one, no speckstation votes are there to remove the president
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from office and why prolong the inevitable and cut it short. if they start moving on the request for witnesses, that can cut both ways. democrats have witnesses they'd like to hear from, too, john bolton and mick mulvaney, the acting chief of staff, and they may have the votes depending where the moderates come down. because of that, you are seeing them push towards a shorter trial. nothing fact yet but that's a shift. >> you are also getting information about new testimony just submitted from the house committee to the judiciary committee right just before the start of this debate. >> that's exactly right, pertaining to jennifer williams on the advisor policy of eurasia issues. she had classified testimony that the intelligence committee have asked be declassified for this impeachment. they have not heard back from
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the vice president's office related to that request so they are sending the classified version out to the committee to be reviewed. it is not declassified yet and not made public but now members will have access to that classified material to review as they move through this final stage of the process. >> phil mattingly on capitol hill, thank you. the president is getting closer and closer to being impeached, we're told he's privately agitated even as he publicly mocs the allegations against him. let's go to jim acosta. what are you hearing first from the white house? >> reporter: one thing we should mention jumping off what phil mattingly was saying, the white house is showing more openness to the idea of a shorter impeachment trial in the senate. i spoke to a senior administration official a few moments ago when asked about a shorter impeachment trial because some of these senators aren't that hot about the idea of bringing in hunter biden and
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the whistleblower. this senior official said the lines of communication are open right now. they understand at the white house, this is mitch mcconnell's chamber and to some extent he is driving the train in this process. while they're not saying, yes, we adopted the strategy of a shorter impeachment trial, they are open to that idea understanding there are some republicans in the capitol hill senate are not wild about a long impeachment trial. we heard from president trump from a hanukkah celebration at the white house. he has been busy in a social media bunker tweeting and re-tweeting over the past 72 hours. one thing, we are hearing president trump is growing increasingly agitated and likelihood he will be impeached. a trump campaign advisor said
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the coverage on the cable networks and all the networks bugs him. a separate trump advisor says the president has been preparing for this moment some time suspecting democrats, once they take control of the house were bent on impeaching him. he's somewhat taken aback it is the ukraine scandal leading to this impeachment of the president. this advisor said, quote, frankly, i think he's a little surprise the ukraine thing has done it and he would be joining the list of unenvious presidents impeached. in the list of history books, they just call it impeachment. joining us, a democrat about to take part in the debate tonight, a vice chair of the house judiciary committee, thanks for joining us. >> thank you. >> we're learning your committee just received additional
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testimony from vice president mike pennce's aide. >> i look forward to reading the material now that we have it. it was just transmitted and has to be kept in a secure location because it is not yet declassified. >> adam schiff says there's no reason for it to be classified. i take it you haven't read it yesterday? >> not yet. my understanding it was just sent over. >> what do you hope to communicate in your opening statement later tonight? >> as you've been reporting, it's likely the only third time we will impeach somebody with the articles out there. it's a sad thing we do for the country but a necessary thing for the country. the framer put things like
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impeachment in the constitution for things like this where the president put his personal interests ahead of the country and where someone tries to undermine our election and power of the presidency to get reelected. they specifically talked about presidents involving foreign countries involved in our government's affairs. we have all of that here. >> you are the vice chair of the judiciary committee. how do you and jerry nadler expect to maintain order during what's sure to be a rather fiery debate? >> our side of the aisle, we take this extremely seriously. we're here out of duty to country. we don't take it kindly and i don't think the american people will take it kindly if people try to turn this into a circus. >> what do you expect for tomorrow's hearing when all 44 members of the judiciary committee will be attempting to introduce amendments. >> we have been discussing
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articles of impeachment and i think we are very comfortable where they are. i can't speak to what the republicans are going to do because they made it very clear they have no interest in the facts. they only want to raise a ruckus in order to distract. >> your committee is taking up these two articles of impeachment. we understand chairman, jerry nadler, actually pushed for a third article as well. where do you stand on that overall debate? >> people push for a lot of things and you govern by consensus and that's where we are now. >> when do you think these pass for the two articles of impeachment, when will the full house vote? >> the schedule changes everyday. you may know before i do. >> how will you vote? >> how will i vote? based on the articles as they're drafted now i think we have no choice but to vote in favor of these articles. >> how many democrats do you
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think might decide to vote against impeaching the president? >> i'm more interested to know how many republicans have the courage to vote in favor of it. >> do you think any of them will? >> thick they should. >> because -- in the vote, whether to even start an impeachment inquiry, all the republicans were united in opposing such an inquiry. there were two democrats who opposed the inquiry as well. >> there was one republican who was supported it except he was thrown out of the party for not showing loyalty for the man in the office rather than the office itself. >> you're ready for a fierce debate in the next 24 hours? >> we may have it. >> congresswoman, thank you for joining us. more breaking news coming up as we get closer and closer to the impeachment debate in the house judiciary committee. >> likely to be fireworks there. and the inspector general defending the fbi was justified
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as we stand by for the house judiciary committee to start debating articles of impeachment, there's another important story we're following.
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the justice department's inspector general testifying before the senate defending his report on the investigation. michael horowitz stood firmly in his findings the fbi was justified and unbiased in launching the probe but bluntly criticized the bureau for what he described as significant errors. jessica is with us now. he face intense questioning for several hours. >> he did, wolf, and that intense questioning playing off the partisan divide with republicans drilling into the significant errors and omissions he said the fbi made. democrats directing the focus on the conclusion the russia investigation was opened without any bias. tonight, the justice department's nonpartisan watchdog in the hot seat. inspector general michael horowitz standing by his report's conclusions and largely quashing conspiracy theories. >> we did not find document or
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evidence of motivation influencing his decision to open the investigation. >> while horowitz maintained the fbi was justified in opening the investigation he did point to failures within the bureau when it came to the fisa warrant investigation and subsequent renewals on former campaign advisor carter page. >> we found and are deeply concerned so many basic and fundamental errors were made by three separate hand-picked investigative teams on one of the most sensitive fbi investigations. >> would you have submitted an fbi warrant application as a lawyer? >> i would not have submitted the one they put in. it was misleading to the court. >> this wasn't jason borne, this was bevis and butthead. >> calling out fbi director james comey at the top when the investigation began.
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>> former fbi director james comey said this week this report indicates him. is that a fair assessment of this report? >> the activities indicate anybody who touched this. >> top democrat, dianne feinstein and her colleagues fought back. >> this is not a politically motivated investigation. there is no deep state. simply put, the fbi investigation was motivated by facts, not bias. >> so we are clear, did your report uncover systemic political bias at the fbi? >> as to what we looked at and the openings we did not find documentary testimonial evidence to support a finding of bias. >> horowitz push back on criticism from attorney general bill barr and the investigation into the origins of the russia
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investigation. barr said in an interview tuesday that the fbi may have acted in bad faith. hor rowitz said he was given no evidence from barr or durham to prove that. >> did either barr or durham present anything that altered your findings? >> no. >> the hearing was also a reminder of the ongoing probe of the president's personal attorney, rudy guilliani. the i.g.'s office is investigating potential links before the 2016 elections, claiming weeks before the election that hillary clinton would soon be facing big problems. >> i think he has a surprise or two you will hear about in the next few days. i'm talking about a pretty big surprise. >> i heard you say that this morning. what do you mean? >> you will see. >> speculation swarming that fbi director james comey would soon announce he was re-opening the criminal probe into clinton's
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e-mail server. >> we are investigating those contacts and issued a summons on people so far we found violated fbi policy. we have other investigations ongoing, when we conclude it, we will also post summaries of. >> now, guiliani has denied any insider information. right now, the focus will be shifting to the durham investigation and whether it might reveal new details of the origin of the investigation or bad faith of the fbi alluded to this week. making clear today, the inspector general made clear nothing they did would change that conclusion that the fbi did properly open the investigation. >> a very lively hearing we watched. thanks for that. let's bring in a senator who questioned the justice department's inspector general, a member of the judiciary
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committee and second ranking highest democrat. thanks for joining us. you were in the room as the inspector general testified and did not find evidence of political bias and the origins of the probe. the attorney general has refused to accept that finding instead of advancing the conspiracy theory today. did you successfully combat that theory today? >> i don't know there's any way to combat this irrational conspiratorial theory that keeps coming out of the tweets of the president and hardened admirers. what we heard from the inspector general there was no conspiracy theory the russians somehow compromised the trump campaign. there were no spies in the trump campaign the president said as late as last night. he went through the litany and didn't vary from it. he did make it clear some things that happened before that fisa
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court are unacceptable. as a critic of the fisa court a long long time i was glad to put that on the records for both sides of the aisle to consider. >> he was railing about those fisa warrants against carter page. you point out what raised serious concerns over fisa. what changes do you want to see? >> i think there has to be more of an adversarial presentation. at this point it's one side presents the evidence to a judge and take it or leave it circumstance. unless you're zeroing on something specific where you can have both sides misrepresented, you are likely to get misrepresentations over and over again and in the history of fisa courts we have seen that happen. >> are you optimistic a bipartisan solution is possible? >> i am a very optimistic person and you have to be if you're going to serve in the united states senate. i hope today is a revelation to
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those that they should join mike lee of utah and others for this reform. >> you spoke about the leaks of rudy guilliani in 2016, but horowitz said he would not speak about ongoing investigations. what does that tell you? >> comey said he had to make this investigation on july 13th, afraid if he made it to those in the field and it was devastating for hillary clinton's campaign. and you just played this to your viewers, he had insider information this was coming ahead of time. if that's true, it shouldn't be allowed. >> do you blame comey about making that public statement about an ongoing investigation only a week or so before the
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election, very damaging to hillary clinton? >> yes, i do. the argument according to republicans was how politically biased the fbi was against donald trump. a lot of us on the democratic side took a look at that announcement and said that sunk the boat for hillary clinton in the closing days of the campaign. >> the republicans are warming up to an impeachment trial with no witnesses called. what do you think of that? >> it has to be credible and we should take our time and do it properly. there should be documents as there was in the clinton impeachment. if this is a rush to judgment, let's file a motion to dismiss and leave town. i think a lot of american people will push back and say, that was not the way we expected to see a constitutional procedure of this magnitude and this important for the american people. >> senator durbin, thanks for joining us. >> thank you. just ahead, a heated debate
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over the articles of impeachment for the house judiciary committee to hold an unusual late night session. stay with us. ost insurance a safelite repair is no cost to you. >> customer: really?! >> singers: safelite repair, safelite replace. a i feel like i'm losing my identity.
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at your local xfinity store today. just minutes away from a critical and contentious new step towards impeaching the president of the united states. the house judiciary committee is about to start a marathon two-day meeting to debate and vote on articles of impeachment.
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you're looking at articles of impeachment on capitol hill. democrats and republicans expected to do battle as they finalize chi charges the president the president abused his powers. all 44 members of the judiciary committee will be speaking tonight. what do you anticipate? >> we will get the passionate, the solemn, for the most part, the fit the moment speeches we have seen that look back through history in speeches like this. in '98, and didn't get to the point of richard nixon, in and around that. they are going to have an opportunity. tomorrow is the day where they actually start to vote. it could be incredibly ruckus because republicans showed, just in some of the hearings like for example, this past week, they're all in using whatever procedural methods they have to slow things
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down, and they will have that ability big-time tomorrow. tonight, most likely, and it could surprise us, feel definitive. >> all of those members, especially the republicans, tomorrow, they will be introducing amendment esand votes and roll calls and that will be rather contentious. >> it will be contentious and there will be real issues, that that republicans will win any. the fact they haven't been able to call witnesses and the fact that -- there have been no fact witnesses before the judiciary committee, no eyewitnesses, no people who were actually involved. all we had were law professors and then the lawyers for the committee. those, i'm sure, will be the basis of some of the amendments proposed by republicans. they will make good rhetorical points but they ain't got the vote. >> you're one of those law professors, michael, that
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testified before this committee in recent days. what do you expect and anticipate will come of this? >> my guess is what you will see tonight and tomorrow is an extension of what we've already seen, the two sides, democrats and republicans, have a huge gulf between them. democrats will focus on reports from mueller and house intelligence committee and republicans will be on the same theme, democrats are evil and the republicans did nothing wrong. >> the full house, presumably next week, after they approved this, the full house will have a chance to vote next week. tell me if you agree it will be almost completely along party line? >> i think that's a given, wolf. interesting, when you have michael testifying last week, if what the president did wasn't impeachable, nothing is. what we will hear is more of the same along party lines and
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democrats repeat the same and focus on impacting the elections and safety of national security involved in elections while republicans argue, this is the thinnest example and thinnest case of evidence of something that's impeachable. they will both be citing the founding fathers, obviously, for different reasons. it's important to know this is happening in primetime. we've been hearing a lot of arguments over the past few weeks and months, many americans didn't have the opportunity to watch them wall to wall. they will be hearing and we will be hearing a lot of things we heard in the past and many americans hearing for the first time tonight. >> it will be going on hours tonight and many hours tomorrow. even though it's written as one resolution, these two articles of impeachment will be voted on separately by the house of representatives. what's the strategy there? >> they either want the
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opportunity to split the baby or political consequences. one is abuse of power that is required to talk about textural things and then answer the question, why this abuse of power and during an election year. the second part about obstruction of congress, if they don't act they will be impotent during the long run. they don't have to be all in, they could vote on one versus the other. whether that satisfies the american public is a different scenario. what is not on there is obstruction of justice, the mueller report, they're taking a small needle and threading it even thinner. >> what do you think of that strategy? >> in previous impeachments, there have not been lock-step votes on each article. there have been several members
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of congress who voted for one and not the other. that doesn't sound like it's shaping up in this instance. it's certainly possible. one option democrats had was to put a third article out there, sheet some of the moderates could vote against it and say, you know what, we made a judgment, but apparently nancy pelosi said we only want those that will pass virtually with almost unanimous democratic support. >> this is a safety net in the end. there are 31 democrats who are from districts donald trump won. nancy pelosi knows that. by divides this up, she's giving people the opportunity who may not in the end, feel comfortable voting for one to be able to vote for the other. >> michael, you're the professor of law at the university of north carolina school of law. what do you think? >> i think the focus of the democrats will be on the
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evidence. the evidence is very strong. coming up with two articles makes a lot of sense to me. i think these are the strongest articles supported by the evidence that have been put forward. even with richard nixon in 1974, they didn't go with everything it had, it went with the three strongest articles it had. when you're focusing on the president of the united states, you don't want to present something where there's some disagreement or perceived weakness. here, the evidence is strong and what democrats are relying on. >> you've been reporting on the republicans now looking at a speedy trial and maybe not call witnesses. >> mitch mcconnell wants the senate trial to begin january 6th or 7th, that week, and wants it over very quickly, and unlike president trump he does not want live witnesses.
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we heard republicans have been calling the white house and telling the white house counsel, this is not to be turned into a circus. on the other hand, we heard president trump would like to see hunter biden called or maybe the whistleblower called. my sources in the senate told me mitch mcconnell has the votes to make sure that does not happen. >> you heard that energy with kick durbin, the senior democrat, and he said he wanted more witnesses. i think there will be a lot of democrats who would be very happy to go with the republican proposal to shut this down very quickly. they don't want a senate trial. everybody knows there's not 67 votes for the president. getting this over with the senate's dignity in tact -- >> i don't think joe biden wants to see hunter biden called in a senate trial. >> i might eat my words, it's not going to happen for the
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reasons you just said. in order for a witness to come forward, if it's contentious and hunter biden would be contentious, just inviting him, there would be a vote, and no matter what kind of political atmosphere we're in, there are enough of the vice president's former senate colleagues who will say, yes, let's drag his son up here and put him before the senate trial. >> totally at odds, if that's the strategy, totally at odds what the house republicans are doing. we want more witnesses, where is adam schiff and we want this person and that person. odd you have this united gop party saying on the one hand this has not been transparent enough, we don't have enough information. who is the whistleblower and mitch mcconnell saying, i don't need to hear from anyone else. >> mitch mcconnell is in a different situation. he controls the senate right now. the house republicans don't.
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nancy pelosi has 31 vulnerable members. mitch mcconnell has 23 republican seats coming up. he wants to remain the leader. >> mitch mcconnell has been talking throughout this process about it being unfair. you haven't heard him talking about defending the phone call or the president's actions. you haven't heard him talk about the bidens as well. while it may support the president and not to turn it into theatrics and all these witnesses, the president should be at least pleased we're not seeing from republicans what we saw earlier on, a few republicans who condemned the president's actions, saying, while we don't support the actions, they're not impeachable, you're not hearing that line of defense inform. that in the very least should make the president happy. >> everybody stand by. i want to bring in our senior legal analyst former u.s. attorney for the southern district of new york. preet, we're only minutes away
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from the house judiciary committee for the two articles of impeachment. >> we haven't had this kind of thing happen very often in american history we have been talking for weeks and weeks. an ordinary mark-up it's called, i served in the senate 4 1/2 years, you have debate, depending what the chairman allows, the opportunity for people to make statements, usually they're designed to make news in their hometown papers. that takes a long time before you get to the substance of debate. with an ordinary legislation, there would be back and forth whether or not the language is an appropriate and what needs to be stricken. here, it seems they have drafted a pretty concise document to be passed in full. and given the members of the committee and dominance of democrats, i think you will see a lot of talking and debating and furious rhetoric but you
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will end up with articles of impeachment that look exactly like they've been drafted when they come up tomorrow. >> but the republicans will have a chance to introduce an amendment and there will have to be votes and debates. this process could get rather ugly in this process of hours of debate tomorrow. >> and time consuming. the last two in the house have been far more dramatic and contentious and lengthy people expected. even the hearing i predicted incorrectly would be a little bit dull with four constitutional scholars lasted well into the evening and there was a lot of serious rhetoric in that context as well. you saw in both of those hearings there were efforts by the republicans to slow things down by making points of order and voted on not just by voice, by roll call vote. all 41 members. it will take a while and will require patience. >> could slip into friday.
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assuming the house judiciary committee passes these two articles of impeachment, it goes to the full house of representatives next tuesday or wednesday and passes the house, what do you anticipate will happen in early january during a trial? >> as the reporting pointed out they're still haggling over whether or not there should be an extensive trial or not. i will say, not everyone will agree with this, it's a little hard for democrats to argue there should be a substantial lengthy trial in the senate, where they have made a point, i think for good reason, to have a sped-up trial in the house. 12 witnesses over a few days, rushing to get the impeachment articles drafted and not a lot of time to digest the intelligence report, ard to argue and say the trial should be longer than the investigative phase. >> what about witnesses, some republicans saying, have a little debate and get it going a few days. call an end. you simply need a simple
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majority, 51 votes to end the whole thing. you need 67 to convict and remove a president from office. that's almost certainly not going to happen. what do you think of this motion of calling witnesses? >> in an ordinary trial, the kind i used to be involved with, that would be unheard of. if you want the truth to come out and be persuasive, whatever side you're on, you tend to want to put on witnesses. if the jury, the senators, would have a role completely different than real life, jurors are passive bystanders who observe and react to the evidence, if they're essentially proxy defense lawyers for a defendant, in this case, the president of the united states, it is sometimes true the defense doesn't need to put on witnesses. if they think the burden of proof has not been met by the prosecution. you will see a lot about nothing, at the end of the day,
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there doesn't need to be much of a mounting of defense in terms of witnesses favorable to the president. it also happens to be true there are not a lot of witnesses favorable to the president and then you have to have a debate about witnesses continuing to abide by the directive not to come testify, will you have a fight about that? the senate, according to the house resolution -- i'm sorry -- other laws have been passed making it clear the senators can overrule the chief justice with respect to what is admissible, what witnesses come to testify. it would be awkward if an application was made by one side to have people like john bolton come testify and have the senators overrule that. you avoid messiness and have clarity and closure if you don't have witnesses. it's a bizarre thing and i could see it going in that direction. >> i could as well. preet, i want you to stand by.
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dana, you've been doing reporting. clearly there are witnesses the democrats would like to come forward, mike pompeo and john bolton. and there are witnesses the republicans want to see, hunter biden, for example, and it could get ugly. >> preet just brought up john bolton. he is somebody outstanding in terms of somebody who made very clear, cryptic, clear he has things he wants to say. his former deputy did testify under oath about his reaction in his disgust to what he saw going on in regards to ukraine and holdup of the aid. he is maybe a prime example of somebody, definitely a prime example of somebody the democrats would want to call, historically speaking and going back to 1998, there were negotiations that senate,
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democratic and republican leaders, if you have john bolton we will get our witness x. it's more partisan now and a different time and there is more decorum in the senate certainly than in the house, but those kind of gentleman agreements and lady agreements -- >> it comes to a problem with somebody like john bolton, that is his lawyer made it clear he wanted to be forced to testify. just because the senate calls him and just because john roberts is sitting up there does not mean that you wouldn't be back in the same situation again. but there are two people that i know the democrats would love to have. one is john bolton, who has said that there was a one-on-one meeting that he had with the president, and the other is mick mulvaney, the acting chief of staff, who had, let's just -- he
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was right in the middle of whatever was going on. >> did we not fail to mention john bolton has sold a book about all this, but refuses to testify? i think that is such a disgrace, this guy, it's okay to write a book but he has to have a court force him to do his civic duty. >> it goes back to obstruction of congress. remember, there are two chambers but they should be united at the idea of somebody thumbing their nose at a congressional subpoena, not a house subpoena, senate subpoena, congressional subpoena. they are effectively undermining the entire congress by ignoring it. >> go ahead, michael. >> i want to emphasize the point that the people that testified so far are the people the president ordered not to testify and they did testify under oath. the people close to the president that know a lot about this are refusing to testify under oath because they've been ordered not to.
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if there are witnesses not showing up that are important it's because the president ordered them not to comply with lawful subpoenas. that's the basis of the impeachment in this case. people ordered to show up and the president ordered them not to, this is reason for the impeachment. >> critical for john bolton, there are people who showed up to testify even though they were ordered not to, who still go to work at the state department, pentagon, colonel vindman goes to the white house everyday. john bolton is not in the government inform. >> let me get you to weigh in on this more. this is a very sensitive moment. we don't even know if there will be any witnesses. >> that's true. to follow up on the john bolton comment and what stood out to me in susan glasser's piece last week, she interviewed adam schiff, what about subpoenaing
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bolton and what are the odds you will hear from him? my staff reached out to the lawyers and they said subpoena us, we will sue you and this will play out in the courts for months to come. doesn't look like they were anticipating him to participate in any of this at all. what else is an interesting observation, both sides are arguing for precedent, republicans saying if they can do this to any president, what about future presidents. and democrats are saying the same thing, one day you will have a democrat in office. i'm not sure about republicans will feel as happy as being stone walled as this administration is stone walling democrats right now. >> i'm glad you brought this up as we watch the people trickle in, members of the judiciary committee, i interviewed republican who was there during 1998, during the clinton impeachment and still there now.
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he has an article on his wall back then and said it's a moment of history. he said in there and repeated to me today that he wouldn't wish impeachment on his worst enemy. he doesn't want this current president to be impeached, but what he said is, because he's been around a while, i'm worried that just the way the bork situation changed the way the judicial nominees are treated, that the fact that we've had three impeachment processes in the last 50 years when it didn't happen for almost 200 is a scary thing because there is a tit for tat going on that could speed up even more on something as grave as impeachment. >> the decmocrats have the decisive role, they're the majority and in the senate the republicans have the majority and 53 democrats, 47 democrats
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and two of them are independents who side with the democrats. so the republicans clearly have a huge advantage going into a senate trial. >> they have a huge advantage and they also have mitch mcconnell who is someone who is not just in name the majority leader, but someone who really runs the united states senate and though there are certain vulnerable republicans, susan collins, cory gardner in colorado, by and large especially on frprocedural vote mcc mcconnell is in charge and he will be the person who makes how it will be structured and if there will be witnesses at all. what i think is interesting is that i'm not sure he'll get a huge amount of pushback from the democrats on that. i don't see great passion on the part of democrats to have a long trial with lots of witnesses, so i think there is really a possibility and a consensus here. >> that's important and let's go
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to preet bharara. the point that a lot of people will make, yes, he'll be impeached in the house and he'll almost certainly not be convicted and removed from office in the senate, so what's the point? to that argument that has been made, what do you say? >> it's their constitutional duty and if you believe the prs committed high crimes and misdemeanors then you let the politics fall where it falls and you proceed. i agree with jeffrey toobin a bit on the idea that democrats may not want a long, protracted from so proceeding with witnesses. democrats need to have live witnesses, sympathetic witnesses, compelling witnesses which they got in the intel committee. the country lived through that. tens and millions of people watched a portion of those hearings and you have incredibly compelling figures like fiona hill and yovanovitch who brought the storyline of the president abusing his power and you don't have that in the mueller result
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and people haven't seen the live witnesses testify and all of that happened behind closed doors. on the other hand, i think democrats should want there to be live witnesses and have the public sent imbe affected by watching these folks. on the other hand it's happened and keep talking about the senate trial and in a manner of speaking there has been a mini trial and the president has had his allies with great anger and sharp rebukes of witnesses and an act on his behalf and we had that for a couple of weeks. so to the extent we don't need to have a repetition that's probably correct, but the democrats' cause in so far as public sentiment matters is having live, compelling witnesses to the trial. >> michael gerhart, we are told once the hearing starts, jerry nadler will have his opening
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statement and he'll read portions of the articles of impeachment out loud and he'll make a statement and the ranking republican will make a statement and everyone will have a chance to deliver a five-minute statement and give us the historic nature of what we're about to see. this is something, of course, that is rarely seen. one thing to keep in mind about this entire process, it is very rare and one thing i might add parenthetically here is i think people and the members of congress do not develop a taste for impeachment. it's going to be hard to repeat or replicate because it's good for everybody including the democrats and you'll see them take a strong position here and it's a position largely for the sake of history and putting down a marker here and so you're going to hear them, yes, in very, sort of somber and solemn terms set forth their case. i think republicans will probably be very similar to what we've seen in the past which itself is different from what we've seen in past impeachment proceedings which have been
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televised. in past proceedings republicans have been much more again, solemn, somber, focused on the evidence and made legal arguments. here, i think, they're going to engage in personal attacks instead of focusing on the evidence. so it's going to seem again like we've got two sides looking at different worlds, but the fact is this is incredibly rare and incredibly historic. the president of the united states is on the path of being impeached by the house of representatives. >> and jeffrey, i was just going to say, you look at the members and the republicans who will be speaking fairly soon. we are only minutes away from the start of this historic hearing and the top republican doug collins, not a shy guy, gomer, matt gates and this will be extremely, extremely contentious. you know whose name jumps out at me about this process and this moment is someone who was a congresswoman in 1974, barbara
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jordan, who was the first african-american woman to represent texas and she gave probably the most famous statement ever made at an impeachment proceeding about her faith in the constitution, and it was at precisely this moment in the judiciary proceedings -- judiciary hearing proceedings -- judiciary proceedings in 1974 when she rose to the occasion in a way that i don't think anyone has in this process or even in 1998, and it will be i hope some of our colleagues who are going to be covering this live play some of barbara jordan, but also if someone matches her eloquence it would be a big surprise. >> bian a you wena, you were go say? >> that was just a great point, jeffrey. i was going to make a point throughout this process is that there's nothing to see here because the money was delivered. they did meet at the u.n., and
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president zelensky said that there was no pressure, and the irony there is that this president, in a sense, was saved by the person that he and all of his allies have been vilifying and that's the whistle-blower because if the whistle-blower complaint hadn't come forward, and the president hadn't been pressured to deliver on the money, then we would be in a completely different place right now. we could very well have president zelensky speaking out publicly saying that my money and the aid promised to me was not delivered and look at the consequences and this is not the first time where the president's actions were prevented from going to a bad place by those around him. we saw that with don mcgahn during the mueller investigation and we're seeing it now, too, and i'm wondering how that plays out at home with americans who say the president may have attempted to do something, but in the end, the money was delivered, and ukraine got the aid. of course, you have schiff and the democrats saying that it
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misses the bigger picture and you have to talk about the attempt, as well, and not just the fact that he didn't get away with it. >> dana, doug collins, the ranking republican, he's there. you know, you've covered him for many years, jerry nadler the committee chairman who will gavel this session and then he'll make his opening statement. >> that's right. it will be up to him or maybe if there will be a barbara jordan moment by someone else on the panel to encapsulate all of the witnesses that -- the testimony that we've seen, the report that the house intelligence -- >> he's walking in right now. you can see jerry nadler coming into the room. >> you can do it simply by reading the articles of impeachment and one thing we should keep in mind sort of pinging off of what michael gerhart just said, 25 years ago almost to the day you did have democrats upset about the conduct of the president, very different issue. >> bill clinton. >> bill clinton, but in this situation you really are going
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to have very different worlds. >> we certainly will. this is a moment that a lot of people have been waiting for. we'll see what happens. we will have special live coverage throughout the night, of course. thanks very much for watching. i'm wolf blitzer in "the situation room." our special impeachment coverage continues right now with erin burnett "out front." this is cnn breaking news. good evening. i'm erin burnett. out front tonight, the breaking news, just moments from now, you see the room. the house judiciary committee will begin debate on two articles of impeachment against donald j. trump. this is only the fourth time in american history that a president has faced articles of impeachment and this is live what is happening in that room. members are getting seated. this is prime time, the first time that any of these hearings have happened during this time. this is the debate and this is how they are choosing to start it. the chairman of the house judiciary committee jerry nadler is about to gavel the hearing into session. i want

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