tv House Democratic Leaders News Conference CSPAN October 29, 2019 11:14pm-11:39pm EDT
to george mason university for a conversation on intelligence in the u.s. presidential election. speakers include former cia director john brennan, former deputy cia directors john mclaughlin and michael morel, and former deputy director of the fbi, andrew mccabe. a.m., the at 10:00 house homeland security committee hears testimony on global terror threats with fbi director chris ray. at 3:00 p.m., we join the house rules committee as it considers an impeachment investigation revolution -- investigation resolution, laying the groundwork for how it will proceed. house democrats announced that lower drug prices act, has been renamed in memory of representative elijah cummings. two congresspeople spoke about
elijah cummings's efforts to lower costs. they also spoke about the impeachment inquiry. >> good morning, everyone. this week, the house democrats will continue our effort to lower health care costs on behalf of the american people with the focus on driving down the high cost of lifesaving prescription drugs. we continue to move forward with the effort around hr-3, which has been appropriately renamed in honor of elijah eugene cummings. this was one of the issues that was of utmost important to cummings and the people he was so privileged to represent, and did in such a phenomenal way over 23 years here in the united states house of representatives, and we will advance that bill at the appropriate time to drive down
the high cost of lifesaving prescription drugs. it's unacceptable, and everyday americans understand this, that they are paying sometimes five or six times as much for the same drug, manufactured in the same location, as people in other developed nations like canada, great britain, france, germany, or australia. our legislation, in honor of elijah cummings, will drive down the high costs of medication by giving the federal government the power to negotiate lower drug prices on behalf of the american people by using its bulk price purchasing power. and we are as committed as ever to making sure we deal with that issue and protect people with pre-existing pre-existing
conditions, strengthen the affordable care act, and lower the cost of premiums, co-pays, and deductibles. at the same time, we will continue our efforts to hold this president accountable for the conduct that has taken place in connection with the trump-ukraine scandal. we will follow the facts. we will apply the law. we will be guided by the united states constitution. we will present the truth to the american people. operating under the principle that no one is above the law. not even the president of the united states of america. with that i yield to our -- my distinguished co-chair, our distinguished co-chair, vice chair of the house democratic
caucus, katherine clark. rep. clark: thank you so much, mr. chairman. and good morning to all of you. this week, the house will continue our work for the people. today, we're going to vote to recognize the armenian genocide. we are also going to vote on three bills to protect and conserve over 1.5 million acres of public lands, preserving cultural sites, and protecting wildlife, wilderness, and waterways from oil and gas development. as the chairman said, we are going to be building on our commitment to lower prescription drug costs, and we will vote on legislation to increase transparency in negotiations between pharmacy benefit managers and drug manufacturers, health insurers, pharmacies, and consumers. additionally, we will take steps to tackle the public health crisis facing many people but especially young people in america by passing legislation to require in-person age verification upon the delivery
of online purchases of e-cigarette and vapor products. the changes that we are voting on this week will ultimately make health care costs more affordable for american families and we are legislating as well as investigating. the question, remains as we move forward with the impeachment inquiry, who do our colleagues on the other side of the aisle work for? donald trump or the american people? reporter: can you explain how this impeachment resolution vote on thursday could be challenging for some members in your caucus who have swing districts or are, you know, skeptical of the impeachment inquiry? from your state and among others, and how that could be turned around against them, how that is challenging, or if they
will ultimately support that? rep. jeffries: every member will have to make a decision based on their conscience and how they decide to most effectively represent the districts they are privileged to serve. the overwhelming majority of the house democratic caucus are publicly on record supporting the impeachment inquiry. the resolution that will be on the floor, which will be unveiled by chairman mcgovern and the rules committee, relates to the next phase of an ongoing impeachment inquiry that the overwhelming majority of the house democratic caucus already publicly support. that doesn't seem to be to be a -- that doesn't seem to me to be a challenge. reporter: that's not a problem for some of them because impeachment might not be popular in some of those districts. you don't worry that they put
some of these members at risk? rep. jeffries: no. this is about the united states constitution. this is about the rule of law. this is about national security. this is about abuse of power. this is about the fact that the president betrayed his oath of office and the american people. and also undermined the integrity of our elections by soliciting foreign interference in the 2020 election. the evidence of wrongdoing is hiding in plain sight, but we will continue to proceed in a serious and solemn fashion. the timetable and the votes that we take will be dictated by the facts and the truth and nothing else. reporter: thank you. we're hearing from republicans in reaction to the planned activity that it is already an illegitimate process and thursday isn't going to fix
things. they will cross their arms and say, we are not going to play. rep. jeffries: my republican colleagues continue to embarrass themselves because they can't defend the indefensible as it relates to the president's abuse of power. a federal court has now said that the ongoing impeachment inquiry is legitimate and that the arguments that are being made by the administration have no weight. they are not credible. and my colleagues in the house republican cover-up caucus will ultimately have to decide, when will they put the constitution ahead of corruption? that's not clear. and it's unfortunate that they continue to do the bidding of donald trump and behave like a wholly-owned subsidiary of the trump administration as opposed to a separate and co-equal
branch of government. we'll see what happens on thursday, but history will be watching to determine how we all are going to proceed and will be the ultimate judge of our conduct. let me let katherine clark respond. sen. cotton: -- rep. clark: yeah. the republicans don't have any excuse for the conduct of this president. from the letter that the president -- from the transcript that the president released, his own summary shows those key words, "do us a favor, though" and that is what they cannot escape. as we have more patriots coming forward, giving their testimony that corroborates, and today
with colonel vindman, we have firsthand knowledge of this call and reaction. they are not only just focusing on process, because they don't have any way to explain away this evidence and the abuses of power that we are witnessing, but they are also now turning to character assassination of these witnesses. they need to remember their oath, and they need to stand up for the constitution. it certainly shows us that the chairman mentioned, we have a federal judge ruling on friday that this process is fine. as we move in the second phase, the open hearing, the public hearings to put these rules in place to make sure that we are transferring evidence from the intelligence committee to judiciary to the open hearings in a methodical way that preserves the confidentiality of some of this testimony, that
should be something that republicans welcome. but, you can see how specious their arguments have been by their reaction to this resolution. reporter: related to the goal post question, the other part of their argument is anything that comes out of this is tainted, it's, you know, fruit from a poisoned tree, etc.. [inaudible] rep. jeffries: it's not clear what they are talking about as it relates to the process being tainted and the fruit of the poisonous tree. to the extent you have a whistleblower complaint that has been repeatedly validated by trump's own appointees. the intelligence community inspector general said that the complaint filed by the whistleblower relates to a matter of urgent concern and is credible. he's a trump appointee.
the general counsel of the c.i.a. was so troubled by the whistleblower complaint that she referred the complaint to the department of justice for possible criminal prosecution. she's a trump appointee. the acting director of national intelligence testified in front of the american people that the whistleblower acted in good faith and followed the law. the acting director of national intelligence is a trump appointee. what in the world are my republican colleagues in the house talking about when they refer to the fruit of the poisonous tree? reporter: the process. rep. jeffries: the american people care about lowering
health care costs, and that's what we're going to continue to work on. the american people care about fixing our crumbling bridges, roads, tunnels, airports, and mass transportation system. that's what we're going to continue to work on. the american people care about defending our democracy and upholding the rule of law. that's what this impeachment inquiry is all about. at the end of the day, they don't care about process and everything about the process is transparent, is legitimate, and is constitutional. reporter: can you explain the political wisdom of holding this on thursday? the judge unequivocally said that you don't need to hold a vote to formalize this inquiry. my understanding talking to democrats, a lot of these procedural questions can be answered within the intel committee and voted on there. why would you take this to the
floor, but your moderates in a tough spot, and fuel by republican talking points? rep. jeffries: the majority of the house democratic congress -- democratic caucus are publicly on record in support of the ongoing impeachment inquiry. as katherine clark eloquently outlined, we are in a phase right now where we're moving from information gathering primarily through depositions , into the public presentation of facts and the truth to the american people. and consistent with that process moving forward, it's been determined that it's appropriate to outline how the transition will take place from the investigation that's ongoing now into the public presentation of witnesses, documents, information, and the truth to the american people. reporter: that needs to be a floor vote, not an intel committee vote? has that been determined? rep. jeffries: it seems to me that that makes sense in terms
of having a floor vote because multiple committees are involved. specifically, as it relates to the resolution, which we haven't seen the text of yet because it hasn't been released by chairman mcgovern and the rules committee, but as i understand it, it will involve laying out the process for transferring information from the intel committee to the judiciary committee. and in that regard, seems to me that it makes sense that the entire house will weigh in on that question and that procedure. >> due process proter the president, does that mean they'll be able to call witnesses or subpoena witnesses? what are the due processes? rep. jeffries: it will have to be answered by chairman
mcgovern, chairman schiff, chairman nadler. as speaker pelosi indicated from the very beginning, we're going to proceed expeditiously. we are going to proceed fairly, and we're going to proceed comprehensively. we will continue to give president trump every opportunity to present exculpatory evidence. guess what, none has been forthcoming. at the end of the day, all we've seen is the effort by donald trump to stop fact witnesses from testifying and to hide documents and information from the american people. if the july 25 communication between donald trump and the president of ukraine was a "perfect phone call," why does the administration continue to hide facts, documents, and information from the american people? that's a question that the american people deserve an answer to and we are going to work to provide it.
>> a number of democrats have to -- oversight committee. how do you feel having a race potentially along gender and racial lines for this important chairmanship in the middle of this impeachment inquiry? rep. jeffries: i think i'll yield to katherine clark on that answer. [laughter] no, i'll simply say -- >> i was ready. >> she's always ready. i'll yield to her. i will say that katherine and i, as the chair and vice chair of the caucus, have to preside over the election. and so i'm going to reserve comment as it relates to the individual members who are well within their prerogative to decide, to present themselves and their candidacies. the house caucus on the democratic side will ultimately, you know, resolve this question. the members will make their case.
but we are in a difficult moment, not from the standpoint of our capacity to move forward thoughtfully and in a serious and solemn fashion as it relates to the impeachment inquiry. we have been doing that and we will continue to do that. the difficult moment is that we've lost a legendary figure here in the capitol, chairman elijah cummings, who is irreplaceable. >> i'd just like to echo the comments of the chairman that we all feel the loss of elijah cummings' leadership, his personal friendship very deeply, but house rules require that we fill this chairmanship within 30 days of vacancy. so the timing is set by the house rules, and we will take this up as soon as we return the second week in november to meet those requirements. and as to the diversity of candidates, that is part of the
strength of this caucus is that we look like americans in our race, our religion, our ethnicity and gender, and that makes for a stronger democracy and a stronger group of candidates going forward. do you worry about you're going to be offering with those open hearings a public platform for the public to make their argumentd. -- arguments. are you concerned about, you know, the kind of spectacle that happened with the
lewandowski hearing taking place now? >> well, lewandowski came to capitol hill. he embarrassed himself. he was just performing for his puppetmaster on pennsylvania avenue. we are now in the middle of a serious and solemn and peaceful impeachment inquiry because of the abuse of power that donald trump has engaged in. we will make sure we keep the focus on the undermining of our national security, the integrity of our elections, and the betrayal that donald trump engaged in in terms of the constitution, his oath, and the american people. let me be clear, the timeline of events speaks for itself. congress, on a bipartisan basis, allocated $391 million in military and economic aid to ukraine. ukraine is a friend. russia is a foe. ukraine is a democracy. russia is a dictatorship.
the united states is the only thing standing, perhaps, between vladimir putin and russia completely overrunning ukraine as part of his fantasy to re-create the golden era, in his view, of the soviet union. that is the stakes. that's why congress, in a bipartisan way, allocated $391 million to ukraine, because it is in the national security interests of the united states of america. in february of this year, the administration wrote the congress and said, the aid is on the way. but it never arrived. and then in may, the department of defense wrote the congress again and said the aid is on the way and all necessary preconditions have been met by
the new ukrainian government, including the implementation of anti-corruption protocols. that was the conclusion of the trump department of defense. yet the aid never arrived. twice during the summer, mitch mcconnell called the administration and asked, what happened to the $391 million allocated by congress to ukraine on a bipartisan basis? according to the information that's in the public domain, majority leader mitch mcconnell couldn't get a good answer from the administration as to what happened to the aid. then on july 25, donald trump pressures the president of ukraine to target joe biden, an american citizen, for political
gain, and thereby solicits foreign interference in the 2020 election. we have a rough transcript and a readout of the call and donald trump's own words, "do us a favor, though", five words that will live in infamy in the content of the constitutional crisis we're dealing with now. as a result of this pressure campaign, the president of ukraine appears to relent and then all of a sudden, thereafter, the aid is finally released. that is what happened here. that is why we are investigating. and no matter what effort my republican colleagues try to engage in to create a circus-like atmosphere, they will not succeed. last question. thank you, everyone. >> house minority leader kevin
mccarthy and other republican leaders discuss the democratic led impeachment inquiry against president trump very minority whip steve scalise called the inquiry a soviet style inquiry not rooted in fairness. also participating in the conference, house ranking member tom cole. >> good morning, everyone. thank you for joining us. as we meet with you here today we await language on the resolution that the democrats say they are going to put forward. w