tv Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer CNN December 20, 2019 3:00pm-4:00pm PST
happening now, impeachment run through. the top white house lawyer heads to the senate to get the lay of the land in preparation for the president to stand trial. are republicans and democrats any closer to breaking an impasse over what happens next? clash of the titans. two of the fiercest in history are locked in an post-impeachment power struggle? will either nancy pelosi or mitch mcconnell blink? president trump agrees to deliver a state of the union address on pelosi's timetable. will he face congress while still on trial. the president's personal lawyer offers a fnew over the tp response claiming democrats want him executed. is anyone trying to rein in rudy
giuliani. we want to welcome our viewers in the united states and around the world. i'm wolf blitzer. you're main "the situation room" as this historic week comes to a close, we're following new planning for president trump's senate impeachment trial under a cloud of uncertainty. two key white house figures visiting the capitol today and getting a run through on the senate floor. we're told house democrats also are preparing for a trial with committee staffers expected to keep working through the holiday recess. this despite a high powered stand off between mitch mcconnell and house speaker nancy pelosi over terms of the trial. i'll get reaction from congresswom congresswoman, a democrat on the committee. first, let's go to our congressional correspondent. democrats and republicans are clearly at an impasse over the
impeachment trial. there were preparations up on capitol hill today. what are you learning inglearn? >> reporter: that's right. the impasse is very real and very operative at this moment as lawmakers have left town. however, that does not mean preparations for that trial have stopped or stalled at all. house democrats making clear their key committees with leadership will be working through the process of preparing for that trial over the course of the next couple of weeks. there's the idea of when and whether they will announce who the house impeachment managers are. speaker pelosi made clear she didn't want to name the managers until she knew the structure of the trial. we have heard that adam schiff and jerry nadler will likely be leading the group when it's named. it's not just democrats that are
preparing. white house officials were up on capitol hill at the invitation of mitch mcconnell. the reason was pretty procedural. they wanted a walk through of the senate facilities. they went onto floor getting a sense of the lay of the land. where things are. they also discussed the actual meeting rooms they would have. how the white house officials will be staffed up and have offices in the capitol when this trial actually gets under way. the big question of what the senate trial will look like still very, very open. not expecting a resolution to that at any point over the course of the next couple of weeks. it's clear everybody still know noes the trial is coming and everybody is getting ready for it. >> in the midst of all of this, the president trump has now accepted speaker pelosi's state of the union invitation to address a joint session of congress on february 4th. >> reporter: that's exactly right. it's been one of the things a
lot of us have been wondering is tensions have flared and divisiveness on capitol hill. the speaker invited him to address congress on february 4th for the state of the union shortly afterwards the white house saying the president accepted that offer. at least at this point in time and we don't know whether or not the impeachment hearing will still be going on by then. most people expected it to end by the end of january. given the moment, we don't know if it will still be ongoing. for the state of the union, it appears things will stay rather on schedule. i would note it wasn't until january of this year that the state of the union got postponed. anything can happen over the mexia couple u next couple of weeks. at least at this moment, the speaker has invieted the president on february 4th.
the president accepted. >> thank you. as the president accepts the february 4th invitation, he's unleashing new attacks on her and fuming about being impeached. let's go our chief white house correspondent. the president's anger is still very fresh. >> reporter: it's not subsided. the president is furious over the move to hole back the articles of impeachment until she receives assurances about a fair trial in the senate. as phil was just saying a few moments ago, white house officials are still making plans for a trial despite all this friction going on. as for mr. trump, he a's in a md over a christian public indicati -- publication calling for his removal of office. he's insisting no president has done more for christianity. president trump is assalamu
alaikuming nancy pelosi's decision to hang onto the articles of impeachment. the president tweeted they have zero proof of anything. they will never show up. they want out. i wanted a immediate trial. rudy giuliani told young conservatives democrats are out for blood. >> they want to put barr in prison and they want to exkuts me. good luck. i get angrier and go after you more. >> reporter: ivanka concedes her father is up set. >> angry at the collateral damage. it's still energizes and focuses you and draws into relief the stark contrast in priorities. >> the house will be in order. >> reporter: pelosi appears to be getting if digs of her own inviting the president to deliver the state of the union around the time writing i invite
you to deliver your state of the union on february 4th, 2020. an expert witness for the democrats during the inquiry is warning pelosi should get on with it writing if the house does not communicate its impeachment to the senate it hasn't impeached the president. democrats aren't buying that. >> absolutely. after the vote that we took on the floor and the majority of congress voted to impeach the president, he's been impeached. >> reporter: as christmas is approaching, the president is all but saying ba humbug to christianity today which is calling for his removal. the president blasted the website as a far left magazine but that's not true. >> it's inaccurate that we're far left. we rarely comment on politics unless we feel it rises to the level of some national or concern that is really
important. this would be case. >> reporter: mr. trump tweeted the fact is no president has done what i have done for evangelicals or religion itself. while the president is popular among concern conservatives he rarely attends church and puzzled his own faithful whether signing bibles or misquoting passages scriptures. >> 2 corinthians. that's the whole ball game. >> reporter: we put this tweet up about nancy pelosi from the president. he's insisting she should be impeached for demanding a fair trial in the senate saying nancy pelosi is looking for a quid pro quo with the senate. why aren't we impeaching her? he has accepted the invitation to deliver the state of the union in early february. he will be leaving the white house shortly heading off who mar-a-lago to spend the upcoming
holidays. he will be signing a defense spending bill that he will be signing before overall the mostic spending bill to keep the government running despite everything happening. there will not be a government shutdown according to white house officials. those bills will be signed. >> thanks very much. thanks so much for joining us. let me get right to the news. house staffers are using the holiday recess over the next several days to prepare for a senate trial. do you want the speaker to send the articles of impeachment to the senate as soon as you're back in session january 6th, 7th, along those lines. >> i think it's really about are the senate rules going to be fair. i think it's entirely appropriate for the speaker to say in this unprecedented moment where foreman of
the jury saying he's koor coordinating with the defendant and will not be impartial. i'm talking about mitch mcconnell. i think it's appropriate that the speaker wants to see what this trial will look like before she names the impeachment managers and sends the articles over. let us be very, very clear about what has happened here. the president abused his power, coerced a foreign ally to interfere in our elections and obstructed congress by refusing to provide us with a single defendant or a single witness or a single document. we have impeached the president of the united states because no man is above the law, not even the president. mitch mcconnell should understand at this point that the responsibility and the gravity of the situation now rests with him and frankly with the american people to see the op-ed today from christianity
today was very moved by that. the president likes to use religion when ever it's convenient but here you have an evangelical publication saying he and his actions from been profoundly immoral. that's very important for the republican senators to now step up and have the courage to do what is right and remove this president from office. >> that was a very strong edtorial in christianity today. what's your reaction to ta tweet from the president when he said nancy pelosi seeking some quid pro quo with the senate and then he says why aren't we impeaching her. >> can you do anything other than shake your head to the things that the president says. he's absolutely outrageous. to suggest the speaker of the house should be impeached is a ridiculous idea. this speaker has led in such a dignified manner.
she has more class than donald trump could ever hope to have but most importantly she respects the constitution and the checks and balances. something this president does not do. it's not worth looking at his tweets because they are absurd and they are so beneath the office of the president. this is what he does. anybody who doesn't agree with him, he attacks. any facts he doesn't like, he makes things up. any witnesses he doesn't want to testify, he bullies. this is the kind of abuse of power that's led to this grave situation of betraying our national security, our constitution and our values by inviting a foreign power to interfere in our elections. that's untenable. >> one of your key witnesses during the impeeachment hearing says president trump isn't impeached until the house transfers those articles of impeachment to the u.s. senate.
what do you make of his analysis? >> well, he was an excellent witness. i'm sure he has probably looked at something that i haven't seen. here i think we again are talking about this unprecedented situation that comes down to the behavior of mitch mcconnell. we have not have different parties controlling the two chambers. this is different where you have the president's party controlling one chamber and denying a fair trial from the get-go. i think what we know is not the technicality of when impeacecact occurs but we know the majority has voted out two articles of impeachment in the history of this country this president has
been impeached and that is what is important for the american people to focus on as why because of his abuse of power and obstruction of congress. >> i'm sure you saw the post that the president said he knew ukraine was the real culprit behind the 2016 election interference in the united states because according to this article he said this, putin told me. how concerning is that to you? >> it's really concerning and during the hearing, i kept making the point over and over again during our mark up of the impeachment articles that this president has done this before, he's doing it now and will do it again. the president is the smoking gun. he keeps tells us what he believes. now the smoking gun is reloaded and he will fire it again for the 2020 election if we don't
stop him. all of their e kxcuses for what the president has done is being torn down again and again. he still hasn't released the full military aid to ukraine and still refuses to allow for the provision to be put in that he would release it. now they have filed briefs saying this should be a matter that's left to the legislative branch and the executive branch and the courts should not be involved. they are playing rope a dope with the judiciary and trying to delay things and stop us from even getting the courts to weigh in. now they are saying the courts have nothing to do with this and this should be settled between
the legislative branch. no defenses are based in any kind of fact. just process complaints and continued obstruction. >> you guys will have a lot of work over the next several weeks. thanks so much for joining us. >> thank you. just ahead, a stunning new twist in the criminal investigation of the origins of the trump-russia probe. why is the former cia director right now under scrutiny. two partisan power houses go head to head. it's pelosi versus mcconnell with the president's impeachment trial hanging in the balance. if you have moderate to severe psoriasis, little things can be a big deal. that's why there's otezla. otezla is not a cream. it's a pill that treats plaque psoriasis differently. with otezla, 75% clearer skin is achievable. don't use if you're allergic to otezla. it may cause severe diarrhea, nausea, or vomiting. otezla is associated with...
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what are they looking for? >> from the beginning this is why john durhalf was appointed. the attorney general of bill barr believes and has suspicions there were things not done properly in the beginning of this investigation that go beyond the fbi. that's one reason why john durham was brought in to look at the actions of john brennan and other leaders in the cia as well as the dni, jim clapper. people involved in producing some of the initial intelligence that became part of the counter intelligence investigation that the attorney general has put a cloud over the presidency of donald trump. we don't know what he's looking for, wolf but brennan believes nothing was done improperly. same thing for clapper. they say they inviets for durham to come and talk to them. >> it's not every day that tcia
director is urntnder investigat. the fisa secret surveillance court has gone back to the fbi and jfrs departmeustice departm. they want to check other applications for fisa surveillance warrants that may have been done by those who didn't do an adequate or good job in connection with the investigation of carter page. >> this is the second time in a few days that this court has spoken publicly. i'll never hear from them. in this case the court is saying they want to take a second look at any surveillance orders that were done by this lawyer who is under investigation. as you remember, the inspector general found a number of problems, 17 instances of omissions and the court says let's take a look at this. the fbi, justice department, we
want you to come back and tell us whether you still -- we know he is still under investigation by john durham obviously this is very serious issue. >> that's a significant development as well. we'll see what happens. thanks very much for that reporting. just ahead, we'll have more on the partisan stand off over the senate impeachment trial as both sides are now moving forward with preparations. we'll be right back. create your own ultimate feast is back at red lobster. with new creations to choose from; like rich, butter-poached maine lobster and crispy crab-stuffed shrimp rangoon. how will you pick just 4 of 10? it won't be easy. better hurry in. the ones that make a truebeen difference in people's lives. and mike's won them, which is important right this minute,
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tonight the terms and timing of president trump's impeachment trial are in limbo. we do know the president has agreed to deliver the state of the union address on february 4th. let's bring in ourage i agag an discuss. ruth marcus is the author of a brand new book, supreme ambition. we'll talk about that later. you and i were white house w
correspondent during the bill clinton impeachment. during the trial he had to deliver his state of the union address. this was in january 1999. watch this. >> the state of our union is strong. [ applause ] america is working again. the promise of our future is limitless. >> he spoke for about 77 minutes. never mentioned impeachment at all. >> what was that? bill clinton was the king of compartmentalizi compartmentalizing. he would never let anybody see he was rattled by being impeached and the trial that was taking place. a little bit different today with president trump. he doesn't compartmentalizes.
he just attacks. it will be a fascinating state of the union. >> there's still a trial under way on february 4th. could you see him avoiding any mention of impeachment as bill clinton did? >> i think his advisers him to avoid any mention of impeachment but it's bit of a different setting than a rally but everybody will be waiting for that state of the union. by the way, who would have thought back in the day that we would be looking back on that as a time when things were a little bit more bipartisan and kinder and jengentler. >> it was an amazing moment. we covered it for an entire year. pame pamela, right now we're seeing the president and you doing a lot of reporting on this. he's brewing. he's very angry at what's going on. the articles of impeachment and now he's off for two weeks to mar-a-lago. >> sources are concerned about
how restless the president will be during this two-week window. we have seen that's where he stews. he's surrounded by people who may reenforce his worst instingtss. now we have this looming senate trial but the fact that nancy pelosi isn't handing over the articles of impeachment, everything hangs in the balance. that is getting under the president's skin. we know that some of his top aides will be there. they will be trying to keep the president busy. mapping out who will make up the defense team. who will be making the opening and closing arguments. aides are talk about throwing in events or trips to continue to get the messaging out. what they don't want the president to do is squander opportunities on messaging as they felt like he did last year during this time.
>> rudy giuliani the talking and talking. watch this clip, his reaction to president's impeachment. >> the whole impeachment process just trash the constitution. no right to counsel, no right to call witnesses, no right of c confrontati confrontation. no right to have your lawyer there and investigate all the lawyers be lawyers. they want to put barr in prison and they want to exkuts ecute m. good luck. the plmafia tried that. the mafia and the word you can't say. islamic extremist terrorists have all taken out contracts of one kind or another to kill me. my answer is, good luck. i just get angrier and i go after you more. >> what do you think about that?
>> well, rudy giuliani has been kind of like the background music of this entire impeachment. we recall it begins with him in part because trump brings up the -- with rudy giuliani, with president zelensy and the whistle-blower complaint. if the president wanted rudy giuliani to stop, we probably would have stopped hearing from rudy giuliani. he provides this -- things the president wants to hear and maybe some senate republicans might want him to stop being a distraction because every time he opens his mouth there's a new story, a distraction. i think this is something the president seems comfortable with. he's playing to the base. rudy giuliani seems to be here to stay. i don't expect him to be silenced any time soon. >> the president's lawyer says they want to put bill barr in prison and execute me. i want to get your reaction. >> when it comes to extreme language, rudy giuliani kind of
takes the cake here. the idea that there are people who would want to execute the president's personal attorney is just another way for rudy giuliani and for the president's defenders to send a message to the president's supporters that democrats that anyone who doesn't agree with the president is out of control. there are dangerous consequences to this kind of language. if we look at this rhetoric that was used throughout the impeachment hearing on both sides of this issue, the intelligence community where i come from we follow that language and see what's happeni happening. you see tensions rising. you see people getting upset and talking about things like revolution and taking up arms as a result of this kind of language. the president, rudy giuliani, his defenders don't think about the secondary effects of this kiempb kind of language but it's
dangerous. >> ruth, let's talk about your book. i've gone through. it really has a lot of information. one of the details is entitled supreme ambition, brett kavanaugh and the take over. you've done a lot of reporting. how do you think he will handle this trial? >> he will try to be as low key and unobtrusive as possible. that's what chief justice renquist tried to do during the clinton trial. he's very worried about the role of this court, the inkriesi ing sense this is far s-- he does n
want the country to think of the court as a bunch of trump and republican justices. he will do as little as possible in terms of substantive rules in the impeachment trial when it happens. the book is called supreme ambition for two reasons. it's about justice kavanaugh but the movement to finally after 30 plus year of judicial nominations, to cement this conservative majority and the lengths they were willing to go to do that with justice brett kavanaugh. the reality is that long after we're done with those two thing, the real legacy of president trump is going to be on the federal courts and in particular his ability to do what republican presidents have been trying to do for years which is to get this conservative
majority. i wanted to tell both stories. if you think a knew a lot of what was going on at the kavanaugh hearings and you were fw glued to it, there's a lot of juicy behind the scenes things in there. >> it is. excellent journalist. you went to law school too. everyone stand by. two towering figures in the history of the u.s. congress in a monumental clash over the senate impeachment trial. plus, tech support to stay worry free. worry free...boom boom! get free next business day shipping or ...1 hour in-store pick up shopping season solved at office depot officemax or officedepot.com.
a president who abuses power. and obstructs justice. the impeachment of donald j. trump. he was supposed to protect our constitution. not trample on it by asking foreign countries to undermine our democracy for his personal political gain. trump broke his oath to america. members of the house and senate must now do their constitutional duty. if you agree, sign our petition at need to impeach.com need to impeach is responsible for the content of this advertising.
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the impeachment of president trump has been a partisan brawl from day one but tonight it's a whole new kind of slug fest as the house speaker, nan scy pelo and mitch mcconnell are going head to head over terms of the senate trial. tom foreman is joining me. it's called the clash of the titans. >> it should be. if you set aside all the angry speeches from donald trump, all the the shouting o of partisan and focus on the center of this fight, you'll find two of the best two political boxers you'll ever see. >> frankly, i don't care what
the republicans say. she's the master of the house. he's is ruler of the senate. >> speaker of the house continues to hem and haw. >> together they are in the heavy weight political fight of their lives with donald trump's raging fate at stake. >> americans will show up by the tens of millions next year to vote pelosi out of office. >> reporter: pelosi has been whipping her democrats into shape for impeachment. at times urging caution, at times con frofronting trump her. >> all roads lead to putin. >> reporter: trump hit back fast. you know this statement is not true unless it's meant in a negative sense. >> the senate must put this right. >> reporter: mcconnell is the perfect counter puncher. a dauntless trump defender dismissing all evidence of wrong
doing and in a body blow aimed at the democrats promising more of the same. >> i'm not an impartial juror. this is a political process. >> reporter: the back and forts has been jaw dropping. persisting mcconnell out lines rules of the trial that the framers approve. >> they suspected there could be a rogue president. i don't think they suspected we could have a rogue president and leader in the senate at the same time. >> reporter: mcconnell insisting her tactics don't bother him. >> i'm not sure what leverage there is and refraining from sending us something we do not want. >> reporter: all the faint and dodge make it unclear which of them is winning. almost certainly trump will be acquitted when and if the fight officially moves to mcconnell's republican controlled senate. >> we remain at an impasse. >> reporter: for now, mcconnell and pelosi are each largely keeping their parties in line landing big punches and the
championship rounds are still ahead. >> we'll see what they have and be ready for whatever it is. >> to be sure, both of them could come out winners. democrats in a closed door session gave pelosi an standing ovation. once it's all done mcconnell could get a pat on the back from donald trump. >> we'll watch it closely. thank you. jupst ahead, the democratic white house hopeful sprints to the first votes of the 2020 campaign. now just six weeks away. i always thought there were two types of motor car
tonight, the 2020 democrats are more focused than ever on iowa with the caucuses just around the corner and their latest presidential debate behind them. our senior washington correspondent is joining us from los angeles right now. jeff, the debate was in l.a. but the focus wasn't on the heartland and there were clearly plenty of fireworks. >> no question about it. at a campaign event earlier today, pete buttigieg summed it up like this. he said i'll throw an elbow when i have to. i don't mind defending myself. that is precisely what he had to do at the final debate of the year here last night in los angeles. amy klobuchar, elizabeth warren, bernie sanders all taking aim at the south bend, indiana, mayor trying to slow his rise, of
course. but it was joe bideni standing t center stage. as he makes the case, he is the best candidate to take on president trump. >> the six-week sprint to the first votes of the 2020 campaign is on tonight. with joe biden all smiles after emerging unscathed from the final debate of the year. >> i do worry about this notion that the democratic candidates spend a lot of time attacking one another. i've tried not to do that. >> the field of democratic candidates fanning out for one last burst of campaigning before the holidays with amy klobuchar opening a bus tour of iowa, where pete buttigieg is heading this weekend. tonight, their debate clash still reverberating after klobuchar challenged the qualifications of the 37-year-old south bend mayor. >> i have not denigrated your experience as a local official. i have been one. >> you actually did denigrate my experience, senator, and it was before the break and i was going to let it go because we got
bigger fish to fry here. >> i don't think we have bigger fish to try than picking a president of the united states. >> also facing criticism from elizabeth warren, who repeatedly questioned his fundraising practices, including a napa valley event. >> billionaire in wine caves should not pick the next president of the united states. >> buttigieg said democrats should welcome all help to win back the white house. he said he accepts most donations because -- >> according to "forbes magazine," i'm literally the only person on this stage who is not a millionaire or billionaire. >> i do not sell access to my time. i don't do call time with millionaires and billionaires. >> sorry. these purity tests shrink the state of the most important election. >> a night of fireworks on stage did little to settle one of the biggest questions weighing on democratic voters. does a moderate or progressive stand the best chance of daef defeating president trump? that divide is front and center
on healthcare. >> i have added to the obama care plan, the biden initiative which is a public option. medicare. if you want to have medicare -- put your hand down for a second, bernie. okay? >> just wavering to ying to you. saying hello. >> offering a far different view of a field that once was the most diverse in party history. >> it's both an honor and disappointment to be the lone candidate of color on the stage tonight. i miss kamala, i miss cory. though, i think cory will be back. >> speaking of senator cory booker, he spent the day in iowa. he is pledging to stay in this race whether or not he is on the debate stage. but it is not only the candidates on the debate stage who are making waves. former new york city mike bloomberg announced the hiring today of key staffers in 20 states across the country. some 200 staffers or so he is hiring several of them -- some of them are key obama alumni, as well. wolf, he is planning for a big push here in california when super-tuesday comes. but of course, iowa now just 45
days away. starts it off. >> going to be intense. jeff, thank you. just ahead, a wildfire crisis explodes as a historic heat wave strikes. with new creations to choose from; like rich, butter-poached maine lobster and crispy crab-stuffed shrimp rangoon. how will you pick just 4 of 10? it won't be easy. better hurry in. if your glasses aren't so will we. no we won't.
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yesterday. prompting australia's prime minister to cut short a widely-criticized vacation in hawaii. thanks very much for watching. i'm wolf blitzer. you can follow me on twitter and instagram at wolfblitzer. erin burnett out front starts right now. up next, hanging in the balance. the president about to leave washington as uncertainty grows over what happens next in his impeachment trial. plus, presidential candidate andrew yang is out front. he says americans are surprised he is still in the race. should they be? cnn exclusive this hour. a whistle-blower coming forward with a major warning that the tsa is cutting corners. raising concerns the safety of millions of americans is on the line. >> good evening. out front tonight on edge, the president about to leave from mar-a-lago as the fate of his presidency hangs in the balance. washington tonight is facing deep
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