tv Politics 2020 Election Panel at Texas Tribune Festival CSPAN September 27, 2019 6:09pm-6:30pm EDT
articles through committee, probably the intelligence and then judiciary committees. and then to the floor. and given what senator mcconnell said, that means we could have a senate trial before the end of this year and really a shocking turn of events. we thought impeachment might never happen, to it could be over and done with by november, december. host: kyle cheney covers congress for "politico." you can read his reporting at politico.com. thanks for joining us. reporter: great to be here [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2019] >> secretary of state mike pompeo has been subpoenaed by three house committees for information involving the impeachment investigation. the chairman of the house foreign affairs, intelligence and oversight committees gave secretary pompeo an october 4 deadline to produce documents related to the impeachment inquiry against president trump. today, a panel of journalists
and political strategists talked about the impeachment inquiry against president trump and their predictions for the 2020 presidential election at an event hosted by the texas tribune festival in austin. here's part of the event with the texas tribune president and c.e.o.. you can watch all of our coverage of the texas tribune festival online at c-span.org. >> justin amash is the only nondemocrat signed on here. when president clinton wased, there was a bipartisan impeachment. right. there were members of both arties who did it. can this go forward?
>> barely. [indiscernible] >> i would make both a principled argument and a political argument related to this. impeachment is a very difficult thing to do. .ot difficult for the country the problem we have today, when we look at this, is between two elections, between the presidential election and the next presidential election, the only manner that exists right now to hold the president accountable is impeachment. because we have now accepted or people have accepted, i would i think is ridiculous, the fact that a president can't be indicted, which has only been created by people who wanted to protect president. it was written for nixon, rewritten for clinton, bush revised it, and it was all -- and then trump's white house has again reiterated it. so if a president can't be indicted, and a president can claim expect teve privilege on
almost just about anything now, and a republican party which refuses to put guard rails on this president, the only way0 td this president accountable, there is no other way other than impeachment. so to me that's the principled argument. thatou senate. there's no way. i don't think richard nixon would have been impeached or would have resigned if the republicans had held the united states senate in 1974. or -- he would not have -- he would have survived. he never would have resigned or gotten impeached. the same thing would have taken place because you can go back and look at the transcripts, republicans stuck with him for a lengthy period of time. >> is there n.g.o. not somebody in the senate, a republican, who can step up and cause the avalanche to happen? >> is the idea that there could possibly be somebody? >> if there's one or there's two -- lamar alexander or mitt romney. >> your theory is correct, the
theory is correct. >> in reality no. >> no. even mitt romney, who has said certain things, will high tail it back to a safe harbor somewhere and start claiming that we can't do this to a president. but i want to talk about something that's been -- politically. so i think one could easily make a principled argument, and i agree with david, he will be impeached, i think it's likely to happen this year. fairly quickly. >> this calendar year. >> i don't think he'll be convicted. but politically there's this idea that somehow the democrats suffered -- that the republicans suffered during the last impeachment when they didn't do -- when they impeached the president but didn't convict the president. that isn't true. >> look at the one in 2000. >> that's one example. the other example is president president clinton in 1998 had a 65% job approval when he got impeached. donald trump has a 40% job approval today.
president bill clinton's job approval didn't go up, it stayed roughly the same throughout the impeachment. stayed at 60%, 65%. the republicans didn't win as many seats, which wasn't that unusual for them, they won five seats in the 1998 election. that's not unusual when a president has a job approval like that. i don't think there's any down side politically at all for the democrats, even if it's partisan, which it likely will be in the house because almost every republican will stand by the president, so from a principled argument and a political argument, there's no in my view, there's no reason why not to hold this president accountable. >> you want to make it five out of five. you think impeachment will happen? >> i think impeachment will absolutely happen. i don't think that there's any scenario where mitch mcconnell lets it see the light of day as a trial in the senate. i don't think there's any chance of that happening. mitch mcconnell is so vastly more skilled in the senate as a legislative operator than anybody on the democratic side. there is no pelosi in the senate.
chuck schumer is like -- he's the guy you bring to the party because you feel sorry for him. [laughter] he doesn't have the skill to post up against mitch mcconnell and he proves it every day. that's not like loving on mitch mcconnell. that's just pure -- >> is humanner is not an agile operator politically. he doesn't have the votes. >> he doesn't have the votes. >> it's a math problem. >> and the political landscape of the 2020 senate races isn't advantageous enough for schumer to go out and say, i'm going to hold all of you republicans that are up this time at risk. it's just not going to be there. >> matthew said he thinks they should go forward with this regardless of what the political consequences are. there is legitimately a concern out there, not only the head of the trump-pence campaign saying this is going to benefit us politically, but there are democrats who say this is going to hurt us politically, at a time when we're trying to retain control of our house or gain majority. >> the democrats should pay
brad's salary. to keep him in place. [laughter] >> here's the thing i think where the democrats -- there is an advantage that trump is going to have. he is going to raise a quarter billion dollars off of impeachment. he's raised $15 million in three days. they're going to milk every granny's social security check because it's going to go out on emails every day and say, unless you give me $5 right now, nancy pelosi will impeachment me and replace me with george soros. now, all re-elections in the presidential side are a referendum on the incumbent. all of them. o doubt about it ever. this is a referendum on donald trump. if part of your referendum becomes a compelling, well-argued, consistent case that goes at donald trump and takes apart the corruption and the malfeasance and the craziness and all the other things inside of this administration and the self-dealing and the idea that
the president is going to leverage and extort a foreign power to help him in the campaign, if you make your impeachment case that way, i don't think that that hurts you on the down ballot races. i think that actually helps you. motivates your people. the other thing is it will hurt trump in a way because, look, ump is what i call a fecal iceberg. it's stinky. there theory that there's always worse below the water line is proven true time and time and time again with this guy. until you have the impeachment inquiry you lack tools to go underwater and stare at the orror. >> rick always puts extraordinary effort into -- i
agree. a precondition of what rick is saying is that democrats for a change would have to not snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. right? >> your party has trouble often operating a two-car motorcade. >> do you think the democrats are capable of the message discipline and of the focus on the message that rick is articulating about trump and count on that to be the only thing that you need? matter, k that in this i think you can -- i think generally you cannot count on house democrats, democrats at large, to be -- to stay on message. and that is because we care a lot about policy, we care a lot about outcomes, we have different views of how we get there and we're going to fight about it. i think that's a healthy thing in the party. republican party, we saw what happened. i tolerate a lot of discourse in our party. i think on this matter, there will be -- i think there's a lot of fear about the impact of
impeachment on people like joe cunningham. he's a congressman from south carolina. he's got the worst district, he's got the biggest support of trump in hits district. people like that -- in his district. people like that. there's going to be concern -- i think they can stay targeted on message. but -- and i'm not sure -- i don't think it's going hurt senate races either. i think that it can be a motivating factor in that. and my other experience about this from -- where i'm sober about the impact is the lifeblood of the clinton white house and -- i think the day that bill clinton was impeached he was at his highest approval rating ever, is that he was seen as doing the people's business, economy was good. our lifeblood was we were focused like a laser to quote another president on the economy. and i worked in the press office
so i was focused on impeachment. but 75%, 80% of the staff were focused on policy. the one place where people were not talking about impeachment was the clinton white house. the lifeblood of this presidency is grievance and controversy. right? so this is not actually -- impeachment is not a distraction for them. impeachment is their ballgame. >> it's gasoline on the bon fire. >> i understand that it's going to help them in some ways. but it helps them in the ways that's like 40% of the country. >> to jen's point, there's two ways to think about the senate races particularly. one is that it makes it harder for the democrats to win back the senate. the other is that you put susan collins on the spot, you put cory gardner on the spot, you put marketa mcsally on the spot and you say you are now going to be forced to do something you haven't done before and that is choose this guy or choose not this guy. >> the political consequences of the clinton impeachment in 1998
were that following o'-- or on the eve of republicans impeaching president clinton, they won the popular vote for the congress across the nation. they got more votes than the democrats. i realize congress doesn't work on popular vote. but they still got the vote. the same happened in 2000, the popular votes for the congress and they won the bush presidency. they lost two speakers. in newt gingrich and bob livingston and that's how we got denny hastert. in the senate they did lose about four seats. and i think this could go either way. but i've got to say this to all of the rangeling over the political consequences of impeachment and i mean this. who cares? about the political consequences? who cares? this isn't in disagreement with everybody, because this is an insightful panel, but i know as leaders have wrestled over the summer with how to make the political calculus around impeachment, and the notion, which is true, that it is hard for the country to go through,
imagine what it would do to the country if we don't go through impeachment with this president. [applause] i really, really mean. that the founders gave the house a singular tool. only one tool. an this is to bring charges of impeachment. it is not to contemplate what the senate will choose as a punishment. and if we have a house that does not stand up in this moment, as we expect the senate will not stand up, it is not just the white house and the presidency that's been tarnished, it's the congress that has been tarnished for generations. >> can i ask you, i mean, i have great respect for your point of view. love hearing what you say. would you be saying this if you were in congress? everybody is the tom brady of -- is the tom brady of monday morning quarterback, right? >> i don't waste people's time by defending my record in congress. the one thing i will point out is within 24 hours of donald trump calling for a complete and total shutdown of muslims
entering the united states, i became then and remain today the only republican to take to the house floor and call on him to drop out of the presidential race and completely denounce donald trump as a candidate, as a man and as a future president. >> maybe you would be -- [indiscernible] -- >> i did it. [applause] >> should we be talking about rudy giuliani's role in this? [laughter] and bill barr's role in this? [indiscernible] >> i tried at one point. seriously. i think it would be interesting to have the conversation focus for them at least at the moment, because they seem to be not bit players but stars of this drama. >> i've been not so shocked by rudy giuliani. though still shocked just cause his behavior is so off the chart. >> he's even yelling at people on fox now. >> crazy. i mean, just insane. this is literally your foreign
policy has turned into pizzagate/info wars. what i find so amazing about the whole episode is just what pot of gold did they think they were really going to find at the end of the rainbow in ukraine? [laughter] it's just an absolute -- he really -- from reading the transcript, donald trump thinks that a wealthy ukrainian has hillary clinton's server. [laughter] really. this is the level that we're operating in. we aren't dealing with trying to actually get peace in ukraine. we aren't dealing with anything of actual substance. we're dealing with donald trump trying to extort a foreign power. >> if we dismiss rudy as a side show, bill barr, the attorney general of the united states. >> bill barr is the most dangerous human being walking on two legs in america right no. i'll tell you why -- right now. i'll tell you why. he has put himself in service not to the law, not to justice, not to norms and institutions, but to being donald trump's
in-house personal lawyer. and he is using the power of the d.o.j. to protect this man in a way that is unprecedented since nixon. frankly, he just hasn't been caught yet is why it's not unprecedented. >> to that point, i do make the case and i know the speaker's chose an different route, why i think the house should pass an authorization of an impeachment inquiry on the floor, because i think it should articulate that the investigation includes the office of the presidency, the vice presidentsy, the attorney general, the secretary of state and the office of management and budget. and you defined the investigation that way and you move forward. >> i think it is notable that all of this happened after don mcgahn exited the white house. you have the white house counsel who you may completely disagree with him, but he was saving trump from himself. he was actually following the law. >> he was adult supervision. >> then you look at just in this whistleblower complaint, the charges leveled against the
white house counsel, i mean, i would be lawyering up and hoping that i had some spare cash because this is not going to end well for a lot of people. >> this is the question i want to ask you. if you unwind the events of this week, the problem with the events of this week is that every holy shit moment is superseded by another holy shit moment. right? [laughter] >> that's been the problem since the escalator ride. it's very difficult to keep focused on anything. in the old days, something would happen and it would have hang time for a day, god forbid. now it's like five minutes and moving on to something else. go back to the beginning of this. what happened? a whistleblower complaint was not turned over to congress. the law on this is black and white. shall. the word is shall. and now we found out, who kept the whistleblower complaint from being turned over to congress? it was office of legal counsel, d.o.j., presumably the attorney general. >> i'm going to go back to something -- >> in violation of the law. unless i'm just not
understanding what the word shall means. >> i think it's important -- i'm going to go back to something that david said. i completely agree with. this is the only mechanism that we have in place to hold the president accountable that has become lawless. i think they believe in -- and bill barr is one of them, they believe the president is above the law. the president believes he's -- they actually believe that. by virtue of everything they've done, they believe that. but i don't think -- part of what's happened, and i'll give -- criticize republicans for being complete enablers of this president, and lacking the courage, i criticize democrats for not waking up fast enough to the threat that donald trump and his administration has posed and not using every means necessary to throw themselves in front of this, to try to stop it. i don't think they have done as good a job as republicans would have been doing in this exact reverse circumstances. but i think part of where we are today is we've given them a
pass. we've -- i mean, as a country they have not been held accountable. every step of the way that donald trump has done something, he has not been held accountable. every step of the way that a staff person, unless donald trump gets sick of them and then they're jettisoned, then they suffer their own consequences on their own, we have not -- so we arrive here today, it's like, well, why wouldn't he call up the head of ukraine and say, i want some dirt, because -- >> he has nothing to be worried about. >> he feels like he's unbeatable. >> a part of this that's a 30,000-foot problem is over the last two decades -- decades congress has given away more and more of its power. they have not taken the actions to exercise their power as a co-equal branch of government. so the executive, of course, ecreates those powers. that's why the theory that bill barr and others have in the white house, the president's above the law, just the other day when the d.n.i. was testifying, he laid out without saying it explicitly that, well, we don't view that the president is part of the intelligence community because he's above any and all part parts of
government. essentially describing it as a fourth graverage of government that's immune to any influence by any other branch. >> the administration could be held -- [talking simultaneously] >> and because congress didn't blow the whistle right that minute and say, time-out, constitution, you have read it? and because guys like cory went before them and did everything but go and take a leak on jerry nadler's desk, and just goes at them like an insult comic and lies to them, and they did nothing. the correct answer was for jerry nadler to lean back and go, sergeant at arms, take that man into custody, you are in contempt, sir. if we were in charge, if the republicans did that and jen had the same sass that cory did, they would have dragged her out in handcuffs and strip searched her in the rotunda. >> i will say your twitter feed on the day of the lewandowski hearing should go in the smithsonian. it was excellent. but this is the point. again, i want to come to jen on in a second.
i was thinking of your reaction to the lewandowski hearing because what has the speaker sbded -- decided to do, to put the impeachment inquiry into the hands of the judiciary -- no, no, the thought was, we have six committee chair, we're going to dump all this over to judiciary, because that's where the articles of impeachment have to originate. >> the problem is schiff is a much better chairman than nadler. he's much more mentally and aisle. he's much more aggressive. >> what would stop the speaker from deciding we need a different quarterback on this team? >> as a quick update. we've seen last night that she has tapped schiff to lead the impeachment investigation, to focus on the ukraine and to refer articles to nadler. then it does have to go through judiciary. >> nadler is more than a carrier pigeon here. he will play -- [talking simultaneously] you're saying schiff is going to play a larger role maybe than the other maxine waters, cummings, the other committee chairs. >> yeah. and the thing i think the democrats have to