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tv   Neal Katyal Impeach  CSPAN  December 15, 2019 1:45pm-2:50pm EST

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it becomes really hard to change it. to change the mind about that is to change your mind about yourself. therefore, it is not surprising that people will with guarded convictions like the 1 i just mentioned, they will go to great lengths to rationalize evidence and even logic. defended themselves against what they see as a threat. >> no it all society. visit our website book tv.org to watch watch the rest. type the author's name or book title into the search box at the top of the page. >> hello there. vice president for communications. we are very glad to have you here this evening.
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both of you joining us for the first time. nonpartisan law and part policy institute. we stand for equal justice and we work to crack and advance reforms that will make america work for all of us. tonight we are really proud to welcome neal. spending almost as much time at the supreme court as the justices themselves. he was arguing his 35th case and he broke a record for most supreme court arguments by a minority lawyer in the united states history. next week, neal will argue his 40th case at at the supreme court. he also served as the act inc. solicitor general under president obama. professor of national security law georgetown. he has played himself in an episode of house of cards. [laughter] this is an even more little-known fact. he can spit hamilton lyrics on
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demand. now he has written a remarkable book making the case, the impeachment of donald trump. joined by michael waldman. president of the center. a constitutional lawyer and writer who is an expert on the presidency and american democracy. serving from 93-99. working for the last american president to face impeachment. you should have found cards and pencils on your seat. when asked, please pass them down the aisle and we will make time for -- we will make time for as many as we can. with that, gentlemen. [applause] >> good evening, everybody.
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welcome to this important conversation on a critical issue a critical moment in our country's history. we are being listened to. that is good. [laughter] trust me, they've got got the wrong room. [laughter] >> hello to everyone that is watching on c-span. it is a big moment for the country. >> hello again. nothing has changed. it is a big moment. did i mention that? there have only been three other serious attempts to have a presidential impeachment. it is a core constitutional function. our system over two plus centuries has envisioned checking and alan seeing and
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curbing the potential power of a chief executive. a moment when we are all learning a lot together at the same time. and we are really fortunate and privileged here tonight to be hearing from and talked by one of the top constitutional scholars who has written an important new book called impeach the case against donald trump. we are all ready to learn and be the students tonight. the most basic of questions i suppose is why did you write this book and how did you write this book? >> first of all, i i want to thk you, michael, and the brennan center. so near and dear to my heart. defending its constitutionality, your work as a senator was so important and how i thought
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about it. i was looking at the incredible fines and fees report you put out. another thing i spend a lot of time litigating and thinking about. we are at the forefront of really trying to make this country a better place. it is such a privilege to be here tonight with you. the book, it began because, you know, october 4 october 4. the book did not exist an idea until october 4. two months ago, basically. i was at dinner with a bunch of my friends. i had just written a piece on september 20. hours after the allegations broke saying that i thought it was very significant and would lead to impeachment. my co-author was a notorious guy named george conway. when we wrote the piece in the
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post, a bunch of people, including someone who claims to be the nation's impeachment expert impeachment expert claims that is ridiculous. you don't know anything about politics, nothing is going to happen. by october 4, it was clear that something was happening. this was a very serious thing. i asked my friends, what should should i do? i wanted to ask them what would work? i thought that this was simple and incredibly serious. what i was so worried about was we would have the same thing of what happened in the molar investigation which is nobody -- getting so confused that the truth kinda falls by the wayside weird i naïvely thought, i am like a supreme court lawyer. i am not a person on tv.
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i thought a year ago, well, maybe if i did that, if i talked if i talked about it on tv and talk to it with big audiences that people would understand the stakes. the truth is, it overwhelmed it. that is what i was asking them. what is there to do. you will hate this, but i really think you need to write a book. i have like five supreme court cases this year. everything else going on. he was like, no, you need you need to do it. i said it was impossible. he says you have a great collaborator. a great co-author. you've taught impeachment 20 times at georgetown. i said no way. i had like four more glasses of wine. i went home. i went to sleep. at 2:00 a.m. i woke up and thought i could do it. i got up at 2:00 a.m., i started banging out the proposal.
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a draft was done and i made one phone call. probably 9:00 a.m. sam is the most brilliant young writer that i know. i knew this because i was invited, i had this speech that completely freaked me out. my alma mater asked me to give my commencement speech. this was back in may. i did like 48 drafts or something. you know what you really need to do is have my son sam read it. he is the best writer that i know. he made it beautiful. on that morning of october 5 i called sam and i said, hey, i have this crazy idea. do you want to do it with me? that is how we did it. we wrote it in two weeks,
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basically. we went to the publishers and said, you know, who can print this the fastest? you know, it is so crazy. having some of the publishers using paper from china and trump was screwing around with that. ultimately, look, if you can give us a final on october 25, stores in shelves. so we did. a week ago today, the book book came out. >> how fast you type? [laughing] >> 130 words a 30 words a minute, actually. >> for your second book, you could take a month.
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[laughter] >> take us back to philadelphia in the sweltering summer of 1787. when the founders were drafting the constitution. we know a lot about it because of madison's notes which were not released at the time. they did not give that much thought overall to the presidency and their powers. they gave a lot of thought to this. why did they put impeachment into the constitution and where did they get it from? >> telling the story and some other stories. i know we are all post-hamilton and we all think american history can be interesting, this is really interesting and simple and fun. the story about philadelphia is that, you know, a lot of founders did not think we needed impeachment in the constitution.
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we have reelections. the president will run for reelection. this was before and limited presidents to -- to two terms. why don't we basically use that. vote them out of office. others said madison and hamilton in particular said wait a minute what if you are president who is beholden to a foreign power. a president who cheats on the reelection. that leaves even gary to say, oh, no, we need an impeachment clause in the constitution. if hamilton and madison and gary and others were here and you asked, what is the case for impeachment, this is literally it. there was a big debate in philadelphia about what should be the standard for an impeachable offense.
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ultimately, they settled on the phrase treason, bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanors. there was an initial proposal that it would be encompass. that was rejected because it would weaken the executive too much. as we think about impeachment, so much hate mail about this from the left every day, why is it child separation and there, for example, as an article of impeachment? i am as torn up about child separation as anyone. i think that it is evil and grotesque. i do not think that that is what our founders thought of as a high crime misdemeanor. i don't think they minute for policy differences. what they really meant it for, when you go back and study philadelphia is one simple thing
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is the president putting his personal interest over those of the american people? that is why that word high is in there. high crimes and misdemeanors, it does not actually mean a crime. it really means a defense against the state. you are doing something that is of a trail of your oath. fiduciary responsibility. you have a fiduciary responsibility. yet to put your prestige and why you and you have sexton as your president or something like that. you have to do that. that is really what i think the word means here. that is why the founders settled on that.
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it is a tight standard. it is not something that will encompass policy differences. it doesn't always mean that there has to be a crime. we learned this very early on in our history when we had a guy who shot and killed hamilton. he was of course the sitting vice president at the time. the book tells a story. basically, you know, there was not a call for the impeachment. he committed a crime no doubt, but it was not a high crime. it was not against the state. therefore it was not an impeachable offense. >> he did not shoot someone on fifth avenue. [laughter] >> no. new jersey. >> they were very worried about tierney and very worried about abuse of power. they knew george washington was going to be the president.
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they reassured themselves we don't have a cromwell or caesar, but they were quite aware that the president would be the head of state and the removal was something that had not really been done before. as ben franklin said, the other other remedy is assassination. why did they design it the way that they did with the house voting for impeachment in the senate engagement trial? >> take one step back and understand a little bit about the constitutional design. .... ....
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>> you want that because often times, i know this is a shock, congress can't get stuff done. so you need a president to come in and do and act when there's a swift need to do so. step one of the founders thinking was, we want to have a very robust presidency. step two, is in the discussion we are having between michael and i right now. if you have a strong presidency, what do you do when that president errs? when that president does something greatly wrong? franklin said, if we don't have impeachment in the constitution, the alternative will be a fascination for not a great result. impeachment is put in the legal
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system. - - then this process which is in general the way our constitution works. you need the house and senate to pass it. the senate can vote to confirm nominees. the alternative is house and senate because they represent distinct interests. one more state and one more popular. so that developed into the impeachment causes it so. a simple majority vote. 82/3 vote is also required for
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treaties. >> let's talk about how it played over the century since. one broad question, looking at the andrew johnson impeachment. the richard nixon impeachment, the bill clinton impeachment. iran contra would be an example. it developed of the notion that you needed perhaps abuse of public trust but there needed to be an actual crime involved also. and that actually - - is that a political folkways? i think times were committed.
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there's so many things that aren't crimes indeed bribery, which is in the constitution as an impeachable offense, was not a crime in 1787. the president undoubtedly has powers to example, wake up and say, i really hate justin trudeau, i'm going to new cam. hopefully hypothetical. - - nuke him. now that would be an impeachable offense.
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i do think the impeachment teaches us various lessons. andrew johnson was really a terrible president. kind of got there quite a bit by accident. but he was impeached not because of what he was really guilty of which is sowing racial division and trying to undo the results of the civil war and reconstruction. but it was called the violation of the tenure of office act. which is a technical violation about when you can fire officials. 75 years later, they said the president has the power to do what andrew johnson was doing. that didn't actually capture the complaint against president johnson. to me, the lesson that is
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taken, is not, there must be a crime. but rather, - - can't be gotcha articles. and it's a slamdunk. it's got to be the heart of what the complaint is against the president. the heart to me is the president cheating or attempting to cheat on the 2020 election with the help of a foreign government. >> one of my favorite things about the andrew johnson impeachment as he went and spoke in a loud voice and abused congress in the speaking tour. this was considered a breach of the norms of the time. the nixon impeachment of course
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was, for those who don't remember. after a year of congressional hearings and criminal investigations by special prosecutors, when it was voted out on a bipartisan basis by the house judiciary committee. most people regard that as having all the ingredients of what ought to be looked for. what do you draw as lessons and analogies from watergate and how that played out? i think one important lesson is we think about nixon. it's what's the presence reaction.
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i had the privilege of working with two presidents. i have to say, obama's instincts would be less about self-preservation and more about the preservation of the institution of the presidency. that's how he generally filtered self. - - senate said we will start jailing executive branch
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employees. so he backs down and allows his witnesses to go and give evidence. he says i'm not going to turn those over. those are my personal tapes. he asserts executive privilege and all sorts of stuff over them. the investigators subpoena. it goes to court. the nixon justice department. and the supreme court of the united states within two months of this case even starting. they say nixon, you've got to turn over the tapes.
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- - you should get the same basic standard. everyone's got their biases. just pretend the parties were reversed and think about it from the other side. i think any impeachment, you think about if the shoe were on the other foot, if the president was obama and did all this. how would you feel? if he tried to go cheat when his reelection campaign by going and getting information from another government.
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and now, the question has to be asked and i'm sure we'll get into this later, in light of this house report today. with over 100 pages detailing the obstruction that trump has engaged in. how would you feel if a president clinton, obama, elizabeth warren, whomever. said this impeachment inquiry against me, it's illegitimate i'm not going to bother complying. i'm going to gag every one of my executive branch employees. >> and the nixon >> was obstruction of legitimate constitutional function it's pretty clear, one of the challenges congress has faced, before this moved to
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impeachment. and forcing checks and balances. the very first discussion as i understand it ofexecutive privilege, among george washington's aides , they were talking about the treaty situation. they said. this is congress's strongest moment, constitutionally. if it's - - >> and organelleordinary investigation. it something other administrations to far more limited extent have done. - - when it comes to
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impeachment, the rules are very different you have the russia example. president polk in 46 with details, i believe in executive privilege. there's all sorts of reasons why presidents need to have some information that secret. but the one exception is impeachment. because that's in the constitution. it's laced into it as a key safeguard as separation of powers. just to make this not abstract. - - wrote a letter sunday and this follows an eight page
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letter he wrote before in crayon. where not going to participate or send lawyers. we are doing what past presidents have done no president has ever invoked executive privilege on the impeachment part. they do on ordinary investigations. neither nixon nor clinton did so when it came to the actual stuff about impeachment. >> in both nixon and clinton cases, in the nixon case, there was a criminal investigations in the justice department and then to special prosecutors.
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as you know in the clinton case. it was entirely an investigation over the course of year done through the special prosecutor, kenneth starr. there were fights over witnesses and production of testimony. could secret service agents be compelled to testify about what they heard orsaw while protecting the president . the white house for the first and last time said it was protected privilege. but they were in the context of a criminal investigation. both in 1974 when the grand jury turned over its material to the congress and in 1998, when kenneth starr issued his report and turn that over to congress, the original work of investigation had been done by a grand jury or done by somebody else. what's so striking now, is that they are building the cars is
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it rolling down the road and taking these testimonies. not in a grand jury but in these depositions in public hearings. it's emphatically the case that clinton resisted as much as he could cooperating. but he did cooperate. as he had to and didn't say this is illegitimate but he certainly thought kenneth starr investigating that matter was illegitimate a bit but he didn't feel he had the constitutional ability or public ability to just say, well i think it's a fraud and a hoax and i'm not going to do i . maybe privately, but not publicly. >> so much of our constitution is built on some monochrome of good faith by the president and the actors in congress. not this level of constitutional shamelessness we
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are seeing. he doesn't care about the legacy he's creating. all he cares about is right now and himself. >> one of the things that both nixon and clinton had was they were worried about their own party. that you know people would turn on them to cause astampede . obviously, one of the things that's been a game but is playing out is how with those impeachments have played out in fox news and internet and twitter and everything that creates the environment we have now. even before they knew what the
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mother report with a and has been reluctant up until then. but when this came down, it was very little hesitation. why ukraine and not russia, emoluments clause. over the russia investigation and everything else. >> this involves the president's actions as president. so mueller was really about a good chunk, was about what trump and the term camping did in 2016 as a candidate. the allegations here, remember i talked about that compromise the founders did. here the allegations are, the president was using his strong presidential powers over foreign affairs. things like holding up aid.
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to do so, ãit's different if you or i do. something distinctly wrong when you have someone that's a sitting president using the powers that way. if this president gets to do it and every president gets to do it.even that one check in the constitution originally sees this to be a check because of the awesome powers of the presidency. the second is the velocity that really mattered. mueller gets bogged down. he's a serious investigator. there is a billion facts that has to be translated.
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all of these peripheral figures that have to be indicted in russia and other places. the investigation takes a long time. because of that, the public starts to get numb to it. by contrast, ukraine is really simple and clean. i guess that brings me to the third point. here you got a smoking gun. it's the gun the president himself released. he believes what he calls a perfect transcript. a beautiful and perfect transcript. it's not transcript as the first line says. this is not a transcript. but it's not beautiful or perfect, unless you're seeking to remove him from office. in which case, it's pretty good. [laughter] collects as - - >> colonel vindman said they left the word biden out. >> i think it was burisma.
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- - it is kind of unusual, the whole thing seems a little weird. you had a call with a foreign government and just magically certain words appeared but the guy testifying against you from your own administration says those words happen to be about biden. everything seems a bit shady. even just on what they released, it's so damning. the reason i wrote the book it was because remember i said at the beginning, i thought trump would throw up - - as he did before with mueller. all i want people to do is focused on this transcript. that's all you need to understand that the president should be impeached. because in that july phone call, the president of ukraine says, i really want these javelin missiles. and then donald trump says, okay, but i need a favor from
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you though. and then goes into wanting to investigate the bidens and the transcript. the republican defendant often forgets that word, though. so much so that mccarthy was on television on one of the sunday shows. being asked about a quid pro quo. then he said - - of the media person says, it says i need a favor from you though. mccarthy says, it doesn't say though. he's like, yet it does. he's like, oh. [this is like lindsey graham when it was released. definitely no. no put program that has no quid pro quo. now he's like hiding under the
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bed. >> i want to do prognostication of what will happen next. putting aside the throwing up the dirt that has been the defense strategy up until now. if you hired to be donald trump lawyer. >> god forbid. [laughter] do i have another option? suicide? >> do you decline to answer? what argument would you make and then - - why is that wrong? >> i think we're seeing all of the arguments play out and why they are collapsing. first they said there's no first-hand witnesses to this. then there were first-hand witnesses that defied the president's orders.
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so that been crumbled. and the reason there's no first-hand witnesses is because he's tagging them all. it took the bravery of people like doctor hill and others to defied that. so that's fallen apart. >> right before he cut the budget for fighting in ukraine. when asked, was there any other place in the entire world in which you cared about corruption? there are 194 countries. nowhere else in the entire world. it just the one magical police they cared about corruption is where his chief political rivals son had an interest. finally, the new one being spun in the house report is that ukraine was a really corrupt country and we couldn't give
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the aid to ukraine because it was so corrupt. there are two problems with this be number one, the trump administration just before the aid cut off had certified ukraine was not corrupt and could receive the adrian so that was an official determination by the administration as opposed to a determination made by rudy giuliani. if the claim is ukraine is a corrupt country, why do you pick up the phone and call that corrupt country and asked them to launch an investigation into a united states citizen? the very fact it was corrupt was part of the attraction not the thing they were trying to avoid. that's why they were doing it. so that one has fallen. so now the other one is, the impeachment process is unfair. trump doesn't have due process
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rights. that once a tough one for him to make. it's tough because the way in which the constitution works, the house of representatives is really like the grand jury phase. so trump is complaining, my lawyers don't get to participate, although they've now been invited to. the thing i don't get those protections, but that's true even on the criminal side. you get them in the trial. but that's on the senate side. you'll have all the process do, it just occurs then. last night he tweeted that the process is so unfair that the supreme court should just stop it. that's not a thing.
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the supreme court can't stop and impeachment. as much heat as you'd like them to. - - was a federal judge who had the unfortunate last name of nixon. anyway, nixon claimed similar stuff that the process was unfair and the supreme court unanimously said, we don't have any role in impeachment. that is something for congress to do. not for us. >> last fast-forward a couple weeks. now the house judiciary committee is beginning with law professors as one of president trump's lawyers, as overeducated lawyers being the problem. and we know that chairman adam
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schiff did i think, an extraordinarily skilled job at keeping his cool and dignity, even as the shenanigans and circus was attempting to erupt around him. we note with great pride that dan goldman was a fellow at the brennan center until earlier this year. there may not be fact witnesses. let's assume that the house does vote to impeach. then we are really off to the races in a way that folks i think are beginning to understand is unlike what most of us are used to. what happens then?
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>> i want to begin with a caveat. there's a wrinkle injected into everything yesterday. that i don't think we've fully, we don't know the implications yet. there's this case in dc before judge jackson in dc. it involves don mcgann and whether or not information in the mueller report can be turned over to congress. in that lawsuit, the house general counsel said we need this information because we want to determine whether president trump lied to robert mueller. this lawyer, is my georgetown - - an extraordinary guy. he's a 35 year justice department veteran but a very careful lawyer.
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all his words are chosen with care. there must be something going on there. the judge last week ruled and said, the information has got tobe turned over to congress . there's been a valid subpoena in the context of impeachment. trump fault on an emergency basis to stay that, to prevent the subpoena. she rejected it in the strongest line which i think i've ever seen. against the justice department. it just makes fun almost. calls it disingenuous, trumps position. that will go in a rocket docket to the dc circuit. the second highest court and ultimately to the supreme court. but i think trumps arguments are weak and i don't expect the supreme court to hear this case. so i think that sabine is going to stand. when that subpoena stands, the question is then, what does it do to the other witnesses that trump has gagged. people like john bolton.
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mike pompeo, the secretary of state. acting chief of staff, mick mulvaney. all those folks. will they now have to testify under subpoenas. if so, that scrambles the impeachment calendar. we've been looking at something very fast with the house of representatives to impeach by the end of this month or by the holidays. if that unfolds, the house might say, hey, we want to wait and get more information. fact witnesses in the house judiciary committee. depositions, who knows. but, ultimately, something will go to the senate. whether it comes with this extra information or with mueller allegations or just limited to ukraine. when that happens, there will be a trial. mitch mcconnell has said he will follow the senate rules which require a trial. it's at that point, that i
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think public opinion is going to start to shift. i think right now, this has all been the fact in gathering stage. when you see the president on trial in a solemn proceeding in the senate and the question will be asked, do you think a president can really do this? do you want that in our system? you can be the most ardent trump supporter in the world. but that's what the legacy you will be leaving for our country. i think we will see a real change in the way in which the people and even the people in congress will think about this. >> let me read a question from our audience relating to the trial. the only time the chief justice
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is giving any specific responsibility in the constitution is to preside over impeachment trials. >> by statute, he has other ones. >> the things you learn. do you believe chief justice roberts when conducting the trial before the senate actively pursue justice or just act as an administrator? how much is in his hands on compelling testimony and that sort of thing. or how much will be fought out between mcconnell and schumer and the other senators? >> i think it remains to be seen. he's a remarkable man.
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he reaches decisions i disagree with but i never thought they were based on anything but the law. the laws can be different than i think the question was, fundamental justice. sometimes the law and justice are two different things. i think he is someone that does follow the law. i don't you'll get - - think you'll get a presiding official that will say what's the just thing to do. it's more the legal thing to do. it means two things. number one, chief justice roberts clerked for chief justice rehnquist. i think they are in some ways cut from the same cloth. in terms of the chief justices interest - - institutional role. i will for this to you because you were there during clinton. my sense of rehnquist of the
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impeachment proceedings is he eventually got out of the way. he had stripes on his robe that people talked about but he didn't really do much but at the end, he commented, i did very little and i did it well. [laughter] was that your impression? >> he cared a great deal about this role. he's written a book about impeachment and the role of the chief justice. he had this vessel role with stripes he borrowed from the gilbert and sullivan character but he understood, he had a senate that was less polarized. he stayed out of the way by and large. over whether there would be live witnesses or not. in the end, there were three
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witnesses. - - of course nobody knows. at least if the clinton precedent is followed, the senators all sit there at their desks. day in and day out for days on end. there's a whole set of senate rules. as soon as the house votes impeachment, the chief justice is sworn in just then for the vice president can't stage a coup basically. these are things that go back a long way and it could turn into something that's taken more seriously than sometimes the food fight we see typically going on. >> exactly. i think the solemnity of the proceedings will be different.
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it's not just because there isn't a jim jordan is equivalent in the senate. think it's because the senate does have a full book. a rulebook used from andrew johnson. it's going to be the rulebook used here and to pick up on something you were saying, the second feature this cheese justice will have, it's going to err on the side of giving more information to the american people. that's consistent with not doing too much. let the people decide. don't try and let these gag orders and other things happen. so that will be a strategic choice for the house managers. there are people like bolton and pompeo and maldini who undoubtedly - - mulvaney.
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who undoubtedly have more information. do they go seek the gravy or not? if they decide we want this testimony from these folks in the senate, they will call and subpoena them and i do not see this chief justice standing in the way and saying, no, the president can get away with gagging these people. >> i always thought, why would he receive from what he thought was his duty to give mitch mcconnell - - it seems his task is pretty straightforward. >> is certainly not going to approach it as - - [indiscernible]. people approach it on what's the right thing to do under the law. when it comes to impeachment, since the whole design of impeachment is a public decision about whether or not the president has violated his
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oath. you have to get that to the public. that's why the statement in 1846 is so significant and vinyl president up until this one has challenged it. >> from the perspective of the clinton white house in the impeachment trial but it was quite surreal. one of the things that did happen which we may see. the president has the right to appear in the senate.clinton did not avail himself to that. >> it worked so well when he provided himself to the grand jury. >> depends on what the definition of well is. his approval rating was close to 70 percent. the public voted resoundingly, opposed it. the senators had to adjourn the trial and grudgingly tread over to the house chamber to hear
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him give a big state of the union speech and go back to the trial. we could see a trump state of the union in the middle, if the house invites them. we knew that it was very unlikely that he would be at a certain point, removed. none of the articles even got a majority. what are we to do about the republican senators that are looking the other way and look like they will not vote to impeach? what do we expect, what do you expect from senators of his own party and whether they will take it seriously or will just basically act as partisans? >> we've got our party and lockstep and it may be true in the house. i just think it will be true in
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the senate. this investigation is moving with such velocity. it's just been two months and already we are seeing popular opinion changed quite a bit. i don't have the soft bigotry of low expectations. i think our country is built on the idea of beating these expectations. whether it's 1863 or the civil rights movement of the marriage equality movement. we've heard this stuff before and we've been able to rise up and say there's a right thing to do. this was not hard - - this is easy. mueller was hard. i think if people pay attention, and i don't care about the fox news twitter and
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fragmentation and so on. there's a court of the country that believes in the rule of law and decency and following basic principles and not electing people who put themselves first but put the country first. i am not one to say the towel has been thrown in been but if it is, it is the end of the republican party. if you leave this guy in office, after knowing what you know, you don't stand for anything except the raw power. that will be a sad day for this country and there is no principal on one side of the aisle at all. maybe you all think we're there
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yet. so i want that solemn vote in the senate. if they say this is okay, it's the end of their party. >> this is an interesting question relating to even the solemn playing out of this. through three impeachments in relatively few years. next in, clinton and trump. indicate a decay in our little system. does that suggest a normalization of weaponization and is that a bad thing? to suggest presidents are misbehaving more than they used to? >> i think it's just about these three individuals.
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i had the privilege of working for obama. i don't think there was serious thought whatsoever toward impeaching obama.people might have said it on talk radio. the trump administration has to have lawyers for the lawyers who defend the trump administration. i would resist that. society less guided by moral compass in general than before. there were any number of transgressions before too. >> after a scandal, it is often
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the case that there is a period of reform. not always and that was true in the progressive era. certainly tree after watergate - - certainly true. you had a wide range of responses including the enactment of campaign finance laws. the special prosecutor statute. the budget,, the intelligence committees.all of these were a part of wide-ranging season of reform that followed. what they called watergate babies, new members of congress are very focused on this. you lay out several possible changes. how likely do think it is there will be a response?
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>> i think the most important thing is that we get back to a common conversation about the virtues of the rule of law. that the shoe will be on the other foot. you need to have a set of principles so that when the other party is in power, you don't just switch everything up and say now i believe something else. attorney general barr is the perfect example. if obama or clinton is in power, you never hear anything about executive power. not a way to think about our grand document, the constitution or a great system in america. i'm so worried. the thing i'm most worried about is that a democrat wins and they just take what trump did and do it again, just to help them.
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some of those policy preferences will be ones i agree with. maybe on tax and the environment and things like that. but that's the legacy he's leaving. that you can just throw out the rulebook, do whatever you want. your core supporters will always be there for you. just make fun of the other side. if you're funny enough and buffoonish enough, they let you get away with it. democrats are perfectly capable of doing all those things. the biggest reform and there are reforms in the book about changing special counsel relations. requiring tax returns be made public before someone runs. to me, the most important thing
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almost every lawyer gets this for example. most high school kids get it too. but that's what the system is based on. so that's what i think is most important. >> on that note, i would say, if i were before the supreme court, i would want you arguing my case. we are fortunate to have your moral clarity in your explanatory ability. this is for those listening at home.michael waldman.
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on behalf of the brennan center for justice, we want to thank everybody for coming here. please do keep up with our work at brennan center.org or by following on social media. it has positive aspects, social media. following us is one of them. neil will be signing books. the books are for sale in the lobby and he will be planted over here at the signing table. we want to thank you again for coming and thank you for being part of this. [applause] >> tonight on booktv and prime time, paul richter for the los angeles times will discuss the work that u.s. ambassadors do in the middle east and
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afghanistan. fusion gps founder glenn simpson will talk about his investigation into president trump and the creation of the steel dossier. and td ameritrade founder - - will offer insights into becoming an entrepreneur. also this evening, history professors - - will look at how small towns and cities operated under a system of shared sacrifice and democratic ideals. charles barber will detail the life of - - who went from convicted felon to community advocate. that's airing tonight starting at 7:00 p.m. eastern on c-span2's booktv. you can find more on your program guide or by visiting our website, booktv.org. >> good evening.

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