tv BBC World News America PBS December 18, 2019 5:30pm-6:01pm PST
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for those watching on pbs and around thelobe, welcome to a bbc news special edition of "world news america." we are following the ongoing debate on the floor of the u.s. house of representatives. these are the live pictures. lawmakers have been making the cases one b one, first a democrat, then a republican, backwards and forwards. 435 members, it takes a little bit of time. many have invoked the constitution or the solemn oath that they took themselves as lawmakers. and of course we have heard some of the usual talking points from both parties and from the mspresident f. when they have all had a chance to speak, they will hold a vote -- two votes, actually. one, use of power. we will have the ll est from capill, but first, north america editor jon sopel has this report. >> merciful god, we pause in
your presence -- jon: decber 18, 2019, a day that will go down in american history. a day that started at least with solemnity. >> give them wisdom and discnment -- jon: but very quickly moved om the sacred to the profane as the partisan dogfight took over. >> if the president undermining our national security and using e government for his personal gain is not impeachable conduct, then madam speaker, i don't know what is. >> today we have a president who seems to believe he is a king or above the law. jon: and then the counter blast from the republicans. >>a it iam impeachment carried out at the expense of hard-working americans who just want us to move forward. >> there is no proof, none, that the president h committed an impeachable offense. jon: and from the democratic speaker, a tone of sorrow rather
than anger. speaker pelosi: i solemnly and sadly open the debate on the impeachment of the president of the united states. if we do not act now, we would be generally no duty. it is tragic that the president reckless actions make impeachment necessary. he gave us no choice. jo the last president to be impeached was bill clinton in 1998 overlying about his relationship with white house intern monica lewinsky. beforee that, you h go back another 130 years to president andrew johnson. by the end of today, donald trump will in all likelihoo have joined theon club that n wants to be a member of. the president has spent the moing in the residence, where his twitter sums have been busy. "can you believe that i will be impeached today by the radical left, do-nothing democrats, d i did nothing wrong? a terrible thing. read the transcript. this should never happen to another president again. say arayer." >> mr. president, are you
worrieabout your legacy? jon: also left of the white house this -- donald trump left the white house this evening. saying nothing for the fit part about this impeachment process, it will not be about b prayer, it e about votes, and the president doesn't seem to have them. jon sopel, bbc news, washingto laura katty: a reminder that the president does not have those votes because it is the democrats who control the house representatives, and the situation changes when this moves from the house of representatives to the senate, which is controlled by republicans, and they can control the process and prably the outcome as well. for the latest on capitol hill we can go to gary o'donoghue, who is standing by. you have been watching these hearings all day. the tone has been pretty tense from the members on both sides. gary: yeah, it has, to be honest. there has been little empathy or little softness in the nature of
the language. i think that is because positions have hardened so much, haven'tin they, not jushis process, but over years and american politics and you have seen these positions harden into as place where therettle if any cost over.-- crossover. and there is extraordinary language being used. one republican congssman said he thought jes got better treatment front of pontius pilate than president trump had in the whole process. lots of hyperbole, lots of appealto the constitution, ints of appeals to the fou fathers. an interesting site of democrat katty, waving little copies of the constitution. we normally aociate republicans th using the constitution as a prop, we have democrats waving the constitution in republicans' faces ahead of this book in which we expect to start and probably two hours time.
katty: gary, of course mem trs are weighis case on its own merits, the evidence and the documentation and the witness testimonies they have in front them. but i wonder to what extent you think they are alsoisatching how s playing around the world and with other countries. i had a conversation this morning wiha theman of the house intelligence committee, adam schiff, who has been instrumental in this process, and i asked him that question, and he said that it is important at america is seen to uphow the rule of d that we are seen as a functioning democracy. we cannot go to other countries in central or eastern europe or wherever and say that you have to have transparency in igovernanwe don't have that ourselves, and for that reason as well he thought this ps an importancess. do you hear members talking about that? gary: there is little of that on the floor of the house, to be quite hont, but you do hear that, don't you, because of this business ofporotecting soft r and the argument for
liberal democracy around the world when you go out and spend your aid money. we have hearworld leaders in other places in manyeiays justify actions because of what they s and what they perceive as goingme on inca. we have heard that in the philippines, we have heard it in hungary, we have heard it in turkey. there is an argument from demoats that says this is rlout ensuring that america's standing in the is maintained and that people continue to listen to us, and at we create some kind of leadership for democracies around the world. having said all that, there is of course the low politics of what the democratsre doing. they believe -- they know that they will lose the vote in th senate, but they believe, of course, that as well as doing their constitutional duty, which is what you hear them say eve c time they arllenged on this, they believe there will be some play through even over 10 months before the general
election when the trial is over in january. it does allow on the stump out there on the doorsteps t say, sure, the republicans didn't do the right thing in the senate, they were partisan about this, the united states and that is a rare thing and i think not to be proud of. katty: let's bring in our panel. elizabeth dra is president of the constitutional accountability center. jonathan turley is president at george washington university law testified to congress.y aof little biontext and history here. when bill clinton was impeached, and you testified to during those hearings as well, whibo suggests tha of us have been around for too long -- there were i think 31 republicans who broke rank with the republican party and voted not to impeach bill clinton. are you expecting any kind of defection on a scale tonight from either side?
jonathan:ug no, alt pt of that may reflect that this is arguably the shortest investigation of a pacsidential iment to go to the senate. and that does have an impact on pulling in the public's view. it does require a certain period of saturation and maturation within the public to get people to switch sides. etthis has been a ro docket of an impeachment. the democrats said they would acima christmas. many of us send you need to slow down, that this record is incomplete, it is the thinnest record to go to the senate, and it will most certainly fail. i was glad and that they drop to the four crimes i testified against as a basis of impeachment. they went rward with the two i thought were viable. but they are still going forward wie a vfore they have a record. that will make it very easy for the senate republicans. they can give as cursory a trial as the democrats had a
cursory investigation, and they are inviting that to happen. kay: elizabeth, what have e democrats gained politically? just want to ask you to put your political hat on. thwhat ddemocrats gained politically from this process? elizabeth: i think they're showing the american people that they are the party that will stand up for american values, democracy, the idea that checks andur balances apply in government, and that our elected taders should be looking for the american people and the national security of the united states and not looking on the worlstage especially to go after their own personal, political gain, or as we have seen in other stances with this president, using the leverage of the office of the presidency to line his own pocket through doing deals through his businesses with foreign governments acro the world. i think that the democrats in the house are sending a message to the american people that we
want to ensure that our elections are free andair, free of foreign interference. they want to send a message that no one is above th law. and the record here -- i think the investigation was short because there is not a lot in dispute, really. en you roll up on a crime and you have someone over the body with a gun say "i shot him" -- essentially what president trump is saying it is perfect and he should be impeached but that is a different sue fo. katty: that is certainly a different issue, because when you look at the evidence, jonathan turley, and what the white house has been saying, this one phrase that came up in the conversation with president zelensky, " us a favor, though,"emocrats are saying "us" is president trump but republicans and the president say that s" is the united states of america. to what extent does this come
udown to whether believe the president acted in good faith or bad faith? jonathan: wl, i certainly think that is the relevant question. my co-witnesses at the hearing said you can go ahead and base it on inferences. my objection was that you don't have to do that when have at least 10 witnesses that have direct evidence and you did not elgo to court to coheir testimony. that is knowable, not unknowable facts you can have. the only way this record is compelling is if you take every contesteact, and they are against the presiden ther it that is not made for impeachment. if you want to remove an american president, and there's evidence to be found, you have to give up thiriidea of deli an impeachment like christmas like it is the most recentoy on the shelf and i could build a case. katty: ok, talking of christmas, the gravity of this is lost on no one. even one republican lawmaker who
compared the democrats' case against president trump to the crucifixion jesus. >> before you take this historic vote one week before christmas, i want you to keep this in mind. when jesus was falsely accused of treason, poius pilate gave jes the opportunity to faces accusers. during that champ trial, pontius pilate afforded more rights to jesus that the democrats afforded the president. katty: my problem with this kind of language is not that it is foreveflowery or over-the-top, , it is that whe you turn of reporters fr all sides because they say they've jumped the shark. elizabeth:ell, i have a lot of problems with that kind of language. [laughter] elizabeth: what you s is just one of them, but that is certainly something i think is true. this is a political moment we have seen inanguage like that,
what it lso a constitutional moment for the ages, and a time where we have to say we have a president who has his you, that his call was perfect. we have sworn testimony on the record that there was a quid pro quo from ambassador sondland in particular. the question is is this impeachable. our elected leaders have to come to congress and say whether or not they impeachable offense. my opinion as a constitutional lawyer is that it certainly isf. thders were deeply afraid of foreign corruption, particularly in our ections, and the president would use his office to corruptly stay in office and therefore render the usual -- katty: think we just got rid of some strange feign power -- [laughter] jonathan: i was at that 12 as well with pontius pilate. katty: thought you were with the salem witches. [laughter] jonathan:ce full to witnesses, a point that has to
be condered fo. katty: it good to find a ment of levity on this very serious day. pridentrump left forin a rally attle creek, michigan, and he will no doubt rally his supporters and have plenty to happening in washington. you can see the rally. the crowds are gathering. these are president trump's ul supporterfull of th will be agreeing with republicans up on capitolill. they will hear what the president says repeatedly that this is a witchhunt and they are more likely to give money to the trump campaign because of this impeachment pcess. the polls, by the way -- we can't always trust them, but they have been fairly stable during this wholess. about half the country believes the president should be impeached and removed from office and about half the
country believes the president should not be impeached and removed from office. it will be intesting to hear what donald trump has to say tonight, because he will be speaking just as potentially congssmen and women in washington are impeaching them. ve to e bbc's nort america editor jon sopel, who is at the white house right now. the president has left, you are there, jon. he is going to go to that rally. what is heoing to say about the whole process? jon: well, it was insting that he did not come over and speak to the rorters before he ft in which he normally does when he's is heading to marine one and flying to joint base andrews wh he gets on air rce one. i think he is going to unload. i think he feels furious about it. we saw that in the letter he wrote to nancy pelosi last we have seen it on twitter today. and yocould have that perfect split screen moment,ch ws
such a part of this presidency, that he is getting on stage in fchigan just as the house representatives is getting to vote on his impeachment. i think it is going to be raucous tonight in michigan. ee people who will be in crowd will b fervently supporting him and he will be complaining again at it is a hoax, it is a witchhunt, and it is a fraud. katty: talk to me about how you see the politics of this. you justame back from michigan. you were talking to a democratic necongresswoman,f those congresswomen in a district that trump won,as and sheecided to impeach the president. t talk to me about how you think this plays out both sidesn goin the 2020 election. jon: yeah, i mean, look, the biggest thing that comes out of this is that donald trump joined the club he does not want to be partf. donald trump does not allow
himself to have the word "impeachme" against his name but that is likely to happen in the next couple of hours. you have to start calculating, how does this affect020 election? it has been a hyper partisan debate. you have seen republicans staying solid, backing the president, not getting into the detail of what happened on that ukraine teleone call and the thholding of military aid, and you have democrats saying that if we don't imatach on this, o we do? it is possiblet tis congresswon, elissa slos tk, ying days ago when i went to her town hall meeting, that she will lose her seat on this. and other congressmen and women who won their seats in 2018, two years after donald trump won the election when he held sway in those districts, that they may lose the seats as well. e argument they are saying is if you don't do it now, when do you do it? it is perfectly possible that this explodes in the democrats'
face. nancy pelosi was always extremelyf warying down the impeachment path. we will discover in whether she was righon that. katt ok, jon sopel outside the whe house, stay warm. it is a very cold night in washington, d.c. before we get to the 2020 election, we have to get through the rest of the impeachment process. it is all but certain that democratic lawmakers in the next hour or so are going to impeach the impeachment--approve the impeachmt charges against president trum that means he faces a trial in the senate next year. what is that entail? my colleague christian fraser steps of the procet the next christian:a president impeached by the s house cll serve as president, pending the final desion taken by the senate. dthe case will ided in the form of a trial, justice presiding. >> good evening. christiatwo othepepresidents
imached by the clinton and andrew johnson, were both acquitted. it is highly likely donald trump will be acquitted, too. the democrats have the majority in the house. 216 votes required today. but the senate is controlled by the republicans. 20 ofhewould need to join democratic senators to reach the two thirds supermajority which the constitution requires to remove a sitting president. the constitution only says the it is not lay out how it should be conducted. but here is how senate leader mitch mcconnell views it. sen. mcconnell: i am not an impartial juror. pothis is tical process. nothing judicial about it. impeachment is asiolitical deci. christian: minority leader chuck schumere ays hnts people close to the president to testify, le acting chief of staff mick mulvaney or former national security advisor john bolton. mr. mcconnell says there will be
no when this is at all. sen. schumer: we have not heard a single argument from leader mcconnelwias to why the essewe have requested should not come forward. christian: so democrats know that donald trump will be acquitted. they are determined to do as much political damage as they can in the meantime.the impeache over in a few weeks' time. the consequences will be felt all the way through 2020 to election day in november. the bbc's anthony zurcher has be t following all thests of impeachment throughout and we can talk to him now. do you think there is any chance -- we have been having this discussion in the studio about whether if there had been more roevidence, if thess had gone on for longer, if the house democrats had ited for longer, then perhaps more people in the senate might have changed their minds. do you think in this republican- controlled senate, there was ever any chance they would vot to impeach donald trump anm
remove him fffice? anthony: it is hard to imagine in of republican switching over. while there may be a few democratic states, places like colorado, maine, maybe arizona, maybe north carolina, that might be sensitive orngpened a swinver from a practical political sense, and more republican senators are in very safe red conservative states, and you would have to see them swinging over to get any kind of traction to get close to that two-thirds majority bar, places like idaho or mississippi or tennessee. that seems much less likel democrats didn't want to draw this out. they didn't want to get close to the presidentialey election if ould help it. i think they made the calculion that fo was pointlesthis to get bogged could stretch on fths ifhat not into an past donald trump's presidential election in november. katty: by my count there are
three, posbly four republican senators who areul irable-- in vulnerable sea. turning to elizabeth wydra and jonathan turley for their fina thoughts. what impact does this have on america? jonathan: well, i think it is going to be and all most universally negative impac because i think the house has failed to make its case. they could have. they could have built a real case. 20 talve about will itwent in the senate, they made it easy by not pursuing these witnesses. they could have gotten some of these witnesses. some of these witnesses could have established a quid pro quo. but they didn't. hey have is a divisive vote with a record that is not established that these offenses occurred. not calling these witnesses, they have allowed the senate say, ok, you didn't think they were necessary, neither do we, o
and the night r. what impact dth, you think this has on donald trump himself? elizabeth: first, i disagree with jonathan about the record. i think this is obviou ty about donamp and the abuse of his office and his refusal to allow witnesses to testify and his blanket refusal to cooperate legitimate constitutionallyr obligated oversight responsibilities. bui think it is not just about president trump and his abuse of office. come after this.presidents to what this moment is about is showing there are consequences when you brazenly violate the constitution by selling ou american interests to foreign interests, when you decide th the checks a balances in the constitution won't apply to you. so it is about president trump and his place inistory and it is about ensuring that american democracy can continue fo. katty: elizabeth wydra, jonathan turley, thank you for joining us
. this debate has been going on, whew for nine hours. we will have the vote in the house of democrats and republicans cast their votes on whether to impeach donald trump, the 45th president of the united states, on the basis of two different articles of impeachment, abuse of power and obstruction of congress those of we will know the results for short when the vote has taken place. we know th democrats control the house and even democrats who had been wavering on what to say look like they are going to vote yes on both of those articles of impeachment, in which case, some becomes the third american president ever to have been impeached. we will leave you withhe live pictures from capitol hill as republicans and democrats continue the debate on whether to impeach president donald trump. made possible by... babbel, an online program designed by language specialists
captioning sponsored by >> yang: good evening. i'm john yang. judy woodruff is away. on the newshour tonight: only the third time in the nation's history. we brake down tonight's historic vote, what it mea and wha to expect as impeachment enters the new day. then on the ground of california, ahead of tomorrow's newshour democratic presidential debate where climate change is a top concern for golden stateemocrats. and stepping toward the future, medicine at the knowledge of current knowledge sparks hope for those paralyzed by spinal cord inj