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tv   This Week With George Stephanopoulos  ABC  May 12, 2019 8:00am-9:00am PDT

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>> announcer: "this week" with george stephanopoulos starts right now. separation of power showdown. >> trump is goading us to impeach him. >> we are now in a constitutional crisis. >> as democrats demand more on the mueller probe, the gop closes ranks behind trump. >> the special counsel's finding is clear. case closed. >> have i been confusing on this? it's over. >> the president is stonewalling and slow walking congressional investigations, calling them pure politics. democrats fighting back with contempt charges and calls to sue. which side will prevail in the courts and the campaign trail? and trump escalates a trade war with china. >> they started to renegotiate the deal. we can't have that. >> slapped sanctions on iran as north korea launches new missiles. we tackle it all with the top democrat on the house intelligence committee, adam
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schiff, senator rand paul and our powerhouse roundtable. plus -- >> hello, everybody! >> can cory booker break through in 2020. >> your kind of like nice guy approach in tune with where the base of the party is right now? >> jon karl is on the trail in south carolina. we'll break down the politics, smoke out the spin, the facts that matter this week. good morning. welcome to "this week" and to all the moms watching today, happy mother's day. as we come on the air, the battle between president trump and congressional democrats has broken out into all-out war. a brand new analysis in "the washington post" shows the white house is blocking 20 separate congressional investigations by filing lawsuits, stopping aides from testifying, refusing dozens of requests for documents, stonewalling on a scale that democrats say amounts to a constitutional crisis. >> the president is almost self-impeaching because he is every day demonstrating more
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obstruction of justice and disrespect for congress' legitimate role. >> the president defiant, calling the congressional investigations pure politics that will put him back in the white house. >> they want to do investigations instead of investments. they want to do what they're doing which looks so foolish, and maybe i read it wrong but i think it drives us right onto victory in 2020. >> and we begin this week with one of the democratic chairmen leading an investigation, adam schiff of the house intelligence committee. mr. chairman, thanks for joining us this morning. you heard the president right there. he says you all are going to elect him in 2020. >> that's not going to happen. i don't think this country could survive another four years of a president like this who gets up every day trying to find new and inventive ways to divide us. he doesn't seem to understand that a fundamental aspect of his job is to try to make us a more perfect union, but that's not at all where he's coming from.
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he's going to be defeated. he has to be defeated because i don't know how much more our democratic institutions can take of this kind of attack on the rule of law. >> he's made it pretty clear he's not going to cooperate with most of the congressional investigations going on right now, and during the obama administration he declared executive privilege this week on the attorney general barr's testimony and during the obama administration when the house gop held the attorney general in contempt, eric holder in contempt, for failing to turn over documents from the fast and furious program, you called it partisan abuse. here's what you said. >> the justice department, after providing 8,000 documents and extensive testimony, is now being required to turn over privileged materials, and like all administrations before it, it has reluctantly used executive privilege to respectfully refuse to provide materials it cannot provide. >> this department of justice making exactly the same argument
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right now. they're saying they turned over almost the entire mueller report unredacted. the attorney general william barr, has testified before the judiciary committee. they're saying they're preventd by law from giving over this grand jury information so what's the difference here? >> there are categorical differences. first, the obama administration made dozens of witnesses available to congress, provided numerous thousands of documents as you just heard to the republicans in congress, and yes, it made specific claims of privilege, but here the trump administration has decided to say a blanket no, no to any kind of oversight whatsoever, no witnesses, no documents, no nothing, claim executive privilege over things that it knows there is no basis for. there's no executive privilege over the hundreds of thousands of documents regarding events that took place before donald trump was president. you can't have a privilege -- an executive privilege when you're not the executive. so they know that vast categories are inapplicable to the privilege here. so they're just stonewalling.
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they want to draw this out as long as possible and we're going to fight it. we are fighting it and we have to because if this president can show that congress cannot enforce its oversight responsibility, something barack obama never tried to do and he had respect for the separation of powers, it will mean not only that we can't conduct this investigation but that no future president can be held accountable for corruption or malfeasance. >> that's the big question, what can you do about it. you've talked under the congress' power for inherent contempt that you can maybe fine officials. you're not going to get a u.s. attorney to prosecute the attorney general after you hold him or any other official in contempt so what can you do and how can you be effective? >> we're going to have to enforce so much of this in court and we're seeing signs already and this is positive that the courts understand the urgency here in the first case to get to the court involving the accountants, the house oversight committee. the judge has said essentially we're going to expedite the schedule. i'm going to give you a quick judgment on it.
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and look, we are going to have to consider other remedies like inherent contempt, where, if the courts take too long, we use our own judicial process within the congress. look, i think if you fine someone $25,000 a day to their person until they comply, it gets their attention. >> if you can collect. >> well, if you can collect but it affects, you know, whether they're going to be facing ultimately hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages. i don't know how many are going to want to take that risk for donald trump but we are going to have to use that if necessary, the power of the purse if necessary. we're going to have to enforce our ability to do oversight. >> more and more of your colleagues are saying in the face of the president's blanket no as you put it that it's time to open up impeachment proceedings and that would strengthen your hand in the courts. now, last year, you wrote an op-ed saying democrats don't take the bait on impeachment, and that if it were
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seen as a political partison exercise it simply couldn't work and that democrats shouldn't pursue it. is it getting to the point where you're going to have to change your mind? >> i was arguing a year and a half ago when i wrote that op-edthat we have to wait to see what mueller reports. now we have the mueller report although we haven't heard from the man himself. the first priority has to be get mueller before the congress and the american people. >> are you convinced that's going to happen? >> i am. the american people have every right to hear what the man who did the investigation are has to say and we now know we can't rely on the attorney general who misrepresented his conclusions. so he is going to testify, and yes, it's certainly true that these additional acts of obstruction, a person having obstructed the justice department investigation, now obstructing congress, does add weight to impeachment, but part of our reluctance is we are already a bitterly divided country and an impeachment process will divide us further. once we get started, it's like pushing a boulder off the side of a cliff. it gathers momentum of its own
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until it hits rock bottom which is the senate and we're trying to push that boulder back up the hill. he may get us there. he certainly seems to be trying and maybe this is his perverse way of dividing us more, and as you heard in the clip earlier, he thinks that's to his political advantage but it's certainly not to the country's advantage. >> we saw an effort this week by rudy giuliani, the president's personal lawyer, to get the ukrainians to investigate joe biden for his diplomacy in the ukraine while his son was serving on the board of the largest natural gas producer there. the president told politico on friday it would be appropriate for him to discuss a probe of biden with the attorney general. is it appropriate? >> of course it's not appropriate and what is so shocking to me, i served for many years on a democracy commission in the congress where we would partner with parliaments in emerging countries, emerging democracies, and we would always say when you win an election you don't seek to jail the losing side. here the president of the united states is saying it's perfectly okay for him -- and he has said this before -- to go to the attorney general and get them to open an investigation of his rivals.
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sadly, this attorney general has turned out to be so political and so partisan and so frankly without integrity, he just might do it. that does add to the sense of crisis, that these democratic norms are being broken down every day. the fact that we're not even done with this investigation of the last foreign interference in our election and giuliani apparently with the president's acknowledge and blessing was going to get the help of another foreign government in a presidential election, you know, it tells me that they not only think there's nothing wrong with this, if that's true, there's something wrong with them. >> how about the underlying issue. there's no public evidence that the former vice president took inappropriate action to help his son, but was it right for hunter biden to take a job like that in ukraine while his father was engaged in diplomacy there? >> i don't know the circumstances in which he took the job but i can say this vis-a-vis joe biden, there's no
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evidence, nor has there ever been any evidence that he was doing anything but trying to get the ukraine government to crack down on corruption. we're providing generous sporupt to ukraine. we want them to be successful in its conflict with russia. they've had an endemic corruption problem. that's what joe biden was trying to address. so going after his son is just a method of going after someone the president believes is his most formidable opponent. so, yes, let the president go after him but don't seek the help of a foreign government in your election. if this isn't criminal and bob mueller said he could not prove all the elements of a crime, then maybe we need to change the elements of that crime because we cannot make this the new norm, that if you can't win an election on your own, it's fine to seek help from a foreign power. >> chairman schiff, thank you for joining us this morning. >> thanks, george.
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let's get a republican response from senator rand paul. thanks for joining us this morning. let me pick up where chairman schiff -- >> good morning. >> good morning. -- where chairman schiff left off, that perhaps congress should consider making it illegal to engage foreign governments, foreign assistance in campaigns. do you agree? >> i think the american people would be shocked and dismayed to know that joe biden's son was making $50,000 a month just a couple of months after he was dishonorably discharged from the military for drugs. $50,000 a month, i think americans will be dismayed that hunter biden was doing this while joe biden was lobbying to have this company go free. joe biden was asking the prosecutor to lay off of the company that hunter biden was working for for $50,000 a month. >> actually, that's not -- >> -- after getting kicked out of the military. that's extraordinary. >> that's not what was reported. in fact, he was on an anti-corruption drive. >> that's exactly what was
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reported. he got $50,000 a month right after he was kicked out of the military. that's exactly true and nobody disputes that. >> that's separate from what you said about what the vice president was saying right there. how about this idea that the president could ask -- it's appropriate for him to ask the attorney general to investigate the former vice president? >> i think since the very beginning this all has been politically motivated. now both sides are doing it. i think it goes back to the clintons. this why we shouldn't have special prosecutors. one of the things that adam schiff and other partisans don't understand is that if you're accused of a crime by the grand jury and they don't indict you, the prosecutor doesn't go all over town saying we thought he did this, we thought he did this, this is all the evidence. that's why a grand jury is secret. the mueller investigation said that the president did not commit any underlying crime. now they're all saying he obstructed justice about something that was not considered to be a crime. this has degenerated into partisan politics and the best thing we can do at this point is say let's get on with the country's business.
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are there some underlying constitutional issues? yes. the primary constitutional issue is whether or not the fisa court which is supposed to spy on foreigners which has a lower constitutional standard, can you use them to spy on a presidential campaign or seek information about americans, that truly is a travesty and truly is unconstitutional and that's the root of the problem we should be addressing. >> as you know, there's no requirement that there be an underlying crime for obstruction of justice to exist. you've got something like 800 former federal prosecutors who say they believe the president would be prosecuted if indeed he weren't president right now. you're not concerned about that at all? >> i think most americans would disagree with that. most americans would hate the idea that you're called in to talk to the fbi and when you're called in they say, you know, what did you say on the phone to somebody two months ago, and if you describe that inaccurately, then the government's going to going to say we're going to put you in jail even though there
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was no crime committed? no, people are horrified by the idea that you can put someone in jail for obstructing justice on something where you didn't commit the crime. think about it from the perspective of the president. >> isn't that exactly what happened with martha stewart? >> well, yeah, and it was wrong. it was an abomination. when you're accused falsely of a crime and you try to defend yourself, should you be accused of another crime for drying to defend yourself against false accusations? i think it's absurd. >> how about this charge from democrats you heard from adam schiff that the president's blanket no is basically amounting to another kind of obstruction of justice? is it appropriate to stonewall congress across the board not only on matters of policy like immigration and health care? >> i think the clip you played of adam schiff showed it accurately. he's a hypocrite. he was all for president obama using executive privilege. now he's against this president. the bottom line is they spent $35 million investigating the president.
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their conclusion was that there was no underlying crime. this whole ka bitsing about, oh well, maybe he obstructed justice to try to hide an investigation about something he didn't do, this is absurd and the american people know it. people have gone to their corners on it. it's important to remember that this was politically motivated from the very beginning from a political document, from the hillary clinton campaign, and that should be investigated because we cannot allow the incumbent parties to weaponize the intelligence communities to spy on americans or on political candidates or potentially their donors, so there is a real danger to this and it is a constitutional one. but the democrats have it completely upside down. >> the clips go both ways. back when president obama was asserting executive power you attacked him for acting like a king. let's show that. >> someone who wants to bypass the constitution, bypass congress, that's someone who wants to act like a king or a monarch. >> the president acts like he's a king. >> not only is it an abuse of
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power but it almost leads us to a constitutional crisis of sorts. the president can't do what he wants. he's not a king. he has to get approval from congress. >> why isn't that hypocritical? >> right. and for your viewers you will also need to remind them that i opposed the president when he unconstitutionally, obama, tried to make daca without congress and i also opposed president trump when he was trying to spend money that wasn't appropriated. i took a lot of heat from people in my party saying well, you can't spend money that wasn't appropriated by congress but i said the same thing under president trump as i said under president obama. i think that is consistent. with regard to executive privilege, i never said one word about president obama on whether or not he should have to divulge all the material within the administration. i said he couldn't create an immigration law without congress first creating the law. i said the same to president trump, you can't spend money without congress appropriating it.
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>> i want to ask about the president imposing new tariffs on china on friday. looks like that trade war with china is escalating. last year you put out a tweet that said tariffs are taxes that punish american consumers and producers. if tariffs punish farmers, the answer is not welfare for farmers, the answer is remove the tariffs. are you worried that president trump is going to end up putting in permanent tariffs that are going to hurt the american eco ? economy? >> yes. i know of a big company that told me that the tax cuts specifically helped them but the tariffs are almost equal in punishing them. the farmers in kentucky are concerned about the tariffs and i've talked to the administration about this. i've said my concern is the great benefits of the tax cut which have low unemployment and incredible economic growth could be erased by this tariff war. as we ratchet it up with china, i'm very concerned. however, as we're in the middle of this and the president is playing a negotiating battle with the chinese and i think he
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feels that they can't back out, i think there are ways that the chinese market could open up and this would be good but i've advised the administration get this done because the longer we are involved in a tariff battle or trade war, the better chance we can enter into a recession because of it. >> senator paul, thanks for joining us this morning. >> thank you. up next, jon karl on the trail in south carolina with 2020 candidate cory booker. we'll be right back. will it feel like the wheend of a journey?p working, or the beginning of something even better? when you prepare for retirement with pacific life, you can create a lifelong income... so you have the freedom to keep doing whatever is most meaningful to you. a reliable income that lets you retire, without retiring from life.
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life people are going to talk down about you but you got to stand up. in life you're going to face racism and bigotry but you got to stand up. but he told me that the greatest calling of all is not to just stand up for yourself but to remember it was folks that stood for you before you were born, people that stood up and loved you, people that stood up and cared for you, and so your greatest calling in life is not to stand up for yourself but to stand up for other people. >> there's cory booker's fiery commencement address in orangeburg, south carolina. booker also opened a new campaign office there this weekend because that first southern primary is key to his 2020 strategy. right now booker is well behind joe biden and other democrats in all early states. so when jon karl traveled there on saturday he began by asking booker how he plans to take down the front-runners. >> i'm a former track guy.
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i get in the blocks as athletes next to me. i don't look to the lane next to me. i run my race and in many ways this is a race i feel very confident about, not just here in south carolina but new hampshire, iowa and nevada as well because to me these are races where you're going to have to earn people's votes. we know historically the front-runners this far out are often not the people that end up winning those early primaries. >> biden is somebody who obviously voted for the free trade agreement, somebody who voted for the iraq war. you know well his record on criminal justice issues. is that the record of a democratic standard bearer? >> joe biden is going to have to defend his record and talk about what he stands for. i plan on focusing on my record and i'm very proud of that, running through some of our country's toughest problems. i didn't pick an easy way in american politics. even coming out, when i started working in the nonprofit sector, i went to the toughest neighborhood i could find in newark, new jersey and joined with that community. it's a community that i still live in today and i'm very proud of my neighbors and my neighborhood and what we've
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accomplished together, doing things other people said couldn't be done. >> you're not going to take on your fellow democrats? i hear a reluctance to engage, to criticize. >> i can't campaign in a divisive way. i would say you can't campaign wrong and think you're going to govern right. i'm governing to unite this country again, reignite senses of civic grace so we can deal with injustices in our nation. >> i've heard you say the same thing about trump. you say you don't want to fight fire with fire but there was a headline in politico, quoting a local iowa democratic leader saying the democratic base is angry as hell. cory booker's message of love falls flat. democrats in this country are angry and they're angry at president trump. does your kind of nice guy approach in tune with where the base of the party is? >> i think you're misunderstanding that to be strong you don't have to be mean. to be tough, you don't have to be cruel. we're here in south carolina on
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a historically black college, historically black university where some of the greatest strength was shown through civil rights activism where people didn't raise a fist. we didn't beat bill connor by bringing bigger dogs and more powerful hoses. you beat demagogs by expanding the moral machination of the country, bringing people together to overcome them. i had a guy when i walked into a town hall put his arm around me and said i want you to punch trump in the face. i looked at him and smiled and said, hey man, that's a felony and us black guys don't get away with that that often. the reality is trump wants us to fight him on his terms. he wants us to pull our party down. we will not succeed by showing the worst of who we are but the best of who we are. >> you outlined a 14-point plan on guns that has been called the most ambitious effort to deal with the gun issue of any of the democratic candidates. how are you going to get this done? >> the first way is stop having a debate on the corporate gun lobby's terms. they've been forming this debate
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and telling us what we can't do. american history is a testimony to doing things people said was impossible. my parents and the folks that i know personally who are fighting the civil rights movement and gave up when congress couldn't pass the legislation again and again, it failed. the longest filibuster, strom thurmond, people thought that was impossible, but they changed the terms of the debate by expanding the moral imagination of this country. i know in the united states of america in my short time on this planet, 50 years, we've had more people killed by gun violence than every single war combined from the revolutionary war, world war i, world war ii, vietnam. all the wars combined. more people killed in the last 50 years by gun violence. that has normalized and what have we done? massacre in a synagogue. we do nothing. massacre here in south carolina in a church, we do nothing. massacre in my mom's city of las vegas, we do nothing. >> look at obama after newtown,
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he went to try to just get tougher background checks which is just a fraction of what -- >> you sound like when i first encountered when i took on city hall -- >> but you're saying obama didn't try hard enough? you're looking at a senate that's going to be just as tough and the senate barack obama faced. >> when i became mayor of the city of newark, one of the things that i did not tolerate was people saying this can't be done. >> i'm asking how you're going to do it. >> i'm telling you right now that what you're saying is that, hey, we have carnage in this country that's a uniquely american problem and we can't solve it. when connecticut did licensing, their shootings, murders dropped 40%. suicides dropped 15%. these are things that have been tried and done and that work. >> let me ask you about health care. you are a co-sponsor of bernie sanders' medicare for all but you also say you don't want to eliminate private health insurance. explain that to me.
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his plan eliminates private health insurance. >> i support the idea that the wealthiest nation on the planet earth everyone should have access to health care. the best way to get there is medicare for all. i'm going to work towards that goal. >> ultimately you are fine with eliminating all private health insurance including -- >> no. i never said that and you know this -- >> bernie sanders still does say there will be no duplicate of private health insurance. >> what i'm going to say to you, as president of the united states, the first thing i'm going to do is to dramatically lower costs for americans and expand insurance and create a glide path towards an eventual goal -- >> you won't be pushing for medicare for all in the beginning? >> i'm going to be pushing on a pathway towards getting to everyone having coverage, and part of that is going to be medicare for all who want it. we can create a really good -- >> for all who want it is not medicare for all. that's called the public option. it's not for all. >> i'm telling you i have a clear goal in mind that i share with all americans, health care is a right.
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i think the best way to get there is medicare for all. i'm also a realist as a former mayor who got things done and who knows that you can't hold progress hostage for some purity. >> i want to ask, chris hughes who helped co-found facebook, has now come out to say that it should be broken up. he says it's unprecedented, unamerican to have this much power in one company. where do you stand? >> i don't care if it's facebook, the pharma industry or the agricultural industry, we've had a problem in america with corporate consolidation that's having ill effects. if i'm president of the united states i'll have a justice department that uses anti-trust legislation to do the proper investigations and to hold industries accountable for corporate consolidation. >> elizabeth warren is out there saying break up facebook, break up google. >> i don't think -- >> break up amazon. >> i don't think that a president should be running around pointing at companies and saying breaking them up without
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any kind of process here. it's not me and my own personal opinion about going after folks. that sounds more like a donald trump thing to say like i'm going to break up you guys. no, we need to create -- >> you just compared elizabeth warren to donald trump. >> i most certainly did not. she's my friend. >> she's the one that's saying that. >> again, let her discuss and debate her position. i am telling you right now we do not need a president that is going to use their own personal beliefs and tell you which companies we should break up. we need a president that's going to enforce anti-trust laws in this country and i will be that person. >> last question, are we going to see rosario dawson on the campaign trail with you? >> right now i'm looking as i'm running around this country campaigning just to see rosario dawson. i was with her a few days ago for her 40th birthday. happy birthday, honey. let us work on our relationship and we'll deal with the world as we continue to build this incredible love affair. >> senator booker, thank you. keeping things in
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perspective right there. thanks to jon karl for that. the roundtable is up next. we'll be right back. there. thanks to jon karl for that. the roundtable is up next. we'll be right back. grow with google is here to help you with turning ideas into action. putting your business on the map, connecting with customers, and getting the skills to use new tools. so, in case you're looking, we've put all the ways we can help in one place. free training, tools, and small business resources are now available at google.com/grow dishes won't get clean? don't be a soaker! switch to finish quantum, it scrubs, degreases, and shines to get your dishes truly finished. and with finish quantum you get up to 25% more loads for your money. it's not clean until it's finished!
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part2 ♪ ♪ at comcast, we didn't build the nation's largest gig-speed network just to make businesses run faster. we built it to help them go beyond. because beyond risk... welcome to the neighborhood, guys. thank you. there is reward. beyond the classroom... there is inspiration. ♪ ♪ beyond work and life... who else could he be? that's what i say. there is the moment. (laughing) beyond despair...
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roundtable is ready to go. all week long you can get the latest on politics with breaking news alerts on the abc news app. we'll be right back. al residue . check this out. we used clorox clean-up on one side, and lysol daily cleanser on the other, then checked for hidden chemical residue with a bleach indicator test. i wouldn't even want to touch this. what do you do with that? like, who's going to eat that? unlike clorox clean-up, lysol daily cleanser only has three simple ingredients and leaves surfaces free from harsh chemical residue. definitely use that. it's clearly way better than this. yep! thank you. lysol. what it takes to protect.®
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power. that's why i have said when people keep after me on the impeachment, he's not worth it. he's not worth it because he wants us to go to that place so that we're not focusing on whatever else. >> house speaker nancy pelosi on the podcast of chicago mayor rahm emanuel, joins our roundtable. also former new jersey governor and abc news contributor chris christie. maggie haberman, correspondent for "the new york times" and sun min kim, white house reporter for "the washington post." we heard rahm and the house speaker saying the president is trying to goad them into impeachment. that's exactly what you reported in "the new york times" this week. >> right, or at least trying to goad them into saying what's that they're doing. i think there's an effort by the people around the president to make democrats have to provide a stark choice, yes, this is what we are doing, this is how we are going about it and they think, the president's folks, this will be politically damaging for democrats. the house speaker feels the same way. i don't think it's going to end up going to that point but i do think you're going to see the
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white house essentially just draw a line in the sand. we're not cooperating because this is what you're trying to do. >> sun min, that's exactly what you reported on this morning in "the washington post," detailing now 20 different investigations the white house is stonewalling, basically what adam schiff said were across the board and that is propelling more democrats to say we might have to move to impeachment proceedings. >> exactly. we've focused a lot on matters relating to the mueller investigation and other related issues for the last several days but the lack of cooperation by this administration on matters directly related to the white house, the president, his personal finances, is pretty vast. they're investigating his immigration policies. have not heard a lot at all. investigating the federal response to puerto rico. even jared kushner's trip to sawsy arabia, conversations between the president and
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vladimir putin in the helsinki summit last summer. this is why you've heard kind of a shift or more of an uptick in rhetoric from democrats on why they might have to pursue -- why impeachment might be at the end of the road because you've heard nancy pelosi, jerry nadler keep saying things like the lack of cooperation is kind of the bigger issue for us right now, not necessarily his conduct. >> rahm, it did seem this week that that pressure was building at the base of the house democrats saying, you know, nancy, we might not have a choice. >> here's the thing. a couple things. one, if i were in the house, i would pull back, recalibrate totally on mueller and his presentation. two, on all the obstructions or all the pieces in which the administration is fighting sequence them. they're not all equal, all 20 that were written today in "the post." which one is the best one to win the legal case? the first one. that sets the precedent for all the other 19 that follow. third, democrats have this gene, it's in our dna, of responsibility. then all we hear is the presidential election which is the single most overriding thing for the base. between those two goal posts we have to kick perfectly and you
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have to keep moving without the investigation overwhelming the legislating and that's what it's doing right now. >> the problem is that they've not shown the discipline to be able to pull that off. he's right -- >> they haven't moved the goal post yet. >> not yet but the problem is they're jumping towards the bait. they haven't bitten it yet but they're jumping out of the water like a fish towards the bait and this encourages the president to do what he's doing. i think there are things that are divisible. some of those investigations that are written about this morning, the white house shouldn't stall some of those. >> health care. >> health care, immigration, on the substance because the president has substantive things to say on those issues. go out and defend your position. on the tax returns and the other things, i understand the position he's taking. >> but you would agree he's decided an absolutist approach and that's where the mistake will be, where his fault will be. >> it may be depending upon the democrats' reaction. if they take the reaction that you suggest then it will turn out to be a mistake for the
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president. if they take the reaction he's anticipating and you can see because of all these different thiefdoms in the house, they all want to have their moment, adam schiff on her earlier -- >> i wonder if the courts are going to provide the protection this the president is looking for hoping to delay through the election. we are seeing more evidence from the courts that they're prepared to move more quickly. >> we are. but i don't know how quickly that's going to be and we don't know what it's going to look like on appeal and we don't know how long it's going to last. donald trump, as long as i have covered him which is a fairly long time at the time, has always used the courts to mitigate all manner of disputes and he's essentially treating it the same way. one of the interesting things about how he's going about this is he's trying to act both as president and private citizen so when it comes to his taxes he's acting as a private citizen. when the comes to the
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investigations he's acting as a president but suggesting things like health care on issues of policy but suggesting there's an overreach by the house. one of the ways donald trump navigates politics is he turns everything into a referendum on himself. that's what he's trying to do right now. she's trying to make it a stark choice. he's not recognizing the institutional authority of the house on any level and he is going to look towards the courts. >> what if they strike him down? >> strike the president down? he will keep going. here's what i would say as a guiding north star for the democrats. a little less on trump and a lot more on the american people. focus on where they are in their health care. that's how we won in 2018. where are they on affording college for their children, making sure they have the skills they need or the infrastructure transportation system to get from home to work, et cetera. a lot of this for a narcissist like the president, he's just loving this. less on him and more on the american people. >> by the way, booker was trying to say that in the interview. i think one of the things that cory did well in that interview was he was trying to talk more
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about issues and less about the president. but let's go back to where this all really started and when the president looks back if he does get struck down, he's talking about don mcgahn in a tweet yesterday. the people he should be talking to are john dowd and ty cobb who gave the screwiest advice i've ever seen to a sitting executive by saying -- >> cooperate in part. >> let the white house counsel go in and give all the testimony he wants without restriction. >> he needs his money back for that. >> i said to you, you remember, on this show, that they were a c-level legal team at best, on their best way and let me tell you something, what's going on right now shows that i had great insight. >> before we move on, let me play devil's advocate on that point. say they decided to hold the line and in the face of holding the line mueller does in fact subpoena the president, does in fact subpoena these white house aides and that makes the president, we all know, the president blow up and fire robert mueller. he would be much more safe right now. >> donald trump's self-preservation gene would never have permitted him to fire
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bob mueller. never permitted him to do it, george. there's not much that i'm confident about -- >> he tried. >> no, no, he didn't try. he did what donald trump does. >> he blew up. >> which is to blow off steam and if someone else wants to go and do it, then go ahead and do it. that's not what i meant. >> two things -- >> the argument from a lot of people around him. he did touch the hot stove with comey and i think he saw there was a lesson from that. >> that's a big lesson he learned from that. >> number one, get mueller in front of congress. number two, the legal team should have known what mcgahn was saying from day one and not find out until after the report. >> no one interviewed don mcgahn before he got interviewed by bob mueller. imagine the malpractice there. donald trump is a malpractice suit against john dowd. >> i'm going to move on to the trade war. we saw the president post tariffs on china on friday and sun min, you wrote about this this week. again, calculated, it appears, political strategy by the president perhaps hoping in the end this will force a deal but if not he seems pretty happy to take this to the voters.
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>> exactly. i think his approach to trade has been interesting and the reaction from republicans has been interesting as well because talking to a lot of republican senators they are not happy, clearly, with the president's trade policy, his protectionist stances. but they have made a little bit of a distinction between how he's approaching these trade talks with china versus for example the proposed auto tariffs or the steel and aluminum tariffs which they all hate and are warning the president off of. i think the president and some republican senators even from those farm states do see a little political advantage to showing that he's tough on china and he's getting -- cracking down on the policies of the past but i'm talking to a lot of ag state republican senators and they say the farmers are still with you now but there is a point where they may lose their patience. >> the president's got chuck schumer with him on china. >> okay. >> there's a rave. >> here's what i would say and i would go after the president for.
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there are four wars, china trade war, iran, venezuela, north korea. now you decided you want a secretary of defense? you should have been planning a secretary of defense before you decided to have military confrontations in every one of them -- not china yet. but all you need right now is one mistake over one of the islands near china, one naval ship that goes a little too far. i think it's really -- talk about -- forget all the obstruction of justice. what a malpractice of politics to literally have a confrontation going now between north korea. you just took the cold ship. iran you sent another aircraft carrier and a squadron there. you have venezuela in a standoff and now is when you want the secretary of defense? you should have had this a year ago. >> the president does seem reluctant to getting pushed into a confrontation in venezuela. does seem reluctant clearly with north korea, less so with iran. >> this is his personality. i mean, listen -- >> but we need a foreign policy, not a personality. >> i understand that. i'm trying to explain that to you. hang in there. >> i'm impatient. >> he's not a confrontational
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person despite what you see on twitter and those other things. he's not a confrontational person in that type of way so these situations are difficult for him and i think the other thing that you see going on here on china is no one should be surprised at this. if there's one thing he has been philosophically consistent on for 30 years, it's been trade and using tariffs and that we're getting ripped off. first it was the japanese. now it's the chinese. he's been completely consistent on that. so no republican sitting in congress should be saying i can't believe this is happening. it's who they voted for. >> chris, here's the differences. he may not want a confrontation but bolton and the secretary of state, they clearly want a very heads on -- >> that's iran and north korea. i want to stick with china and put this to maggie because i think this is going to put the president's principles to the test. do they call it on wall street the trump put? he's not going to allow the stock market to fall too far. so far it appears that the finance committee believes he's going to get a deal, that he's not going to keep on pushing these tariffs. hard to know.
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>> could end up like the farmers. at what point do they end up moving away from him? we don't know how far he's going to push this. i think one. one of the difficulties on assessing his view on trade, foreign policy, he has a series of competing impulses, one that wanted to go for the tax bill and that helped a lot of people in parts of the country that are now getting hit by these tariffs. so i don't think he has a long-term strategy for this. i don't think he has a long-term strategy for most of these ends. i think he's doing what he has to do to get through small increments of time. i'm not sure where this ends. >> using the market analogy, here's the hedge on the trump put, the infrastructure bill. there's no doubt in my mind the reason he's pushing that now is he's concerned that because of the tariff policy there might be slowdown so he wants to pump $2 trillion into the economy through infrastructure which will hedge against any damage the tariffs put out. >> is he going to get republicans in congress to go along with it? >> not for $2 trillion, no way. >> i don't think republicans would put a $2 bill on infrastructure.
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it wag a a trill, now it's $2 trillion. he still hasn't found the money for the first trillion. this is a joke. everybody knows it's a joke. in the meeting by himself he went from a trillion to two trillion and nance and chuck to their credit said simply show us the money. >> i think what you're going to see is the president try to push republicans in the direction of -- he knows he's not going to get $2 trillion so it's kind of typical president trump material. we'll start with $2 trillion and he'll declare victory at $1 trillion and he has the democrats saying they're for it. if he gets a bipartisan win on infrastructure, gets a trillion dollars pumped into the economy preelection -- >> he'll be a child of cain's. >> that would be a big victory for him. one thing, maggie, the president seems to have decided, that joe biden is the candidate who's most like him running for president this time around which makes him his prime enemy. >> yes, and i was a little perplexed by that statement because there's no way in which joe biden is like the president other than -- >> except being the front-runner.
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>> he's leading in the early polls and that is literally it. it has aggravated a number of the president's political advisers that he is elevating joe biden and turning him in to the general election candidate now. joe biden has a primary that could be very difficult for him to get through and a lot of the president's advisers are saying hang back, stop zeroing in only on him. >> in the short term, rahm, it does appear to have been a boon to joe biden to have the president going after him. i think people expected him to come into the race perhaps as a front-runner. he's gone far beyond what a lot of people thought he would go beyond in these early stages. >> the lesson so far is joe biden, everybody that analyzes, talks about politics, democrats are more pragmatic than those who are actually on the base screaming. as i always say in politics, sound is not always fury. it is not always fury. my point, joe biden is moved -- here's the overarching ideological goal for democrats, winning. everything else is just shades of gray. that's what they care about. what biden shows right now, there's a pragmatic senator that says we want to win.
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if biden's the ticket we're going right there. everybody says this is what the base wants, show me the votes. >> you have the democrats struggling to get heard. >> that's true but i'm one of those advisers who think it's a mistake for the president to do this. i could pick of the 22 probably 21 others i'd rather run against if i were donald trump than joe biden. and i just think -- >> 19. >> i think it's a mistake for him to be doing what he's doing. now, listen, there's a lot of things that i thought he did mistakenly in 2016 and he wound up winning and he'll remind me of that when we get off the air. but the point is that i think joe biden's the one guy -- and i've said this all along -- who could go into michigan, wisconsin, ohio and pennsylvania and appeal to white working class voters. the president doesn't need that type of opponent. he needs an opponent who will repel those white working class voters and keep his coalition together, absolutely. >> it is creating a dilemma for
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the other democrats, particular those democrats, almost ten of them in the house and the senate, struggling to get some kind of attention, hoping that their policy proposals could get some traction. >> exactly. when you're in a field that vast you need to find a way to create your own lane. the interview with senator booker was fascinating where he's trying to be the candidate of hope and love and all this fuzziness and it doesn't seem to be gaining traction right now. it does make you wonder whether he does tack towards a more confrontational approach if he realizes it isn't working but they're all trying to find their own lane. >> the debates start in a month. i think we'll have a much clearer sense of what's happening. >> they are going to start to winnow down the field. >> two things, six weeks ago, eight weeks ago, bernie sanders set the pace. biden's now setting the pace. here's the deal, if you're on the panel in the debate a month from now and you're not with joe biden, nobody will see and hear you.
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>> that's what i wanted to pick up on. we know these first debates you're going to have ten candidates over two nights. ten candidates each night. it's possible that even though we think they're going to be the big events that they may not turn out to be the events people expect because it just gets all muddied up over two nights. >> if you look back on '16 and that race an the ten candidates there on the first stage in august in cleveland, nine candidates didn't matter. donald trump that night was the only candidate who mattered. i was standing on the stage and feeling it the way lots of other people were. is joe biden going to be able to dominate in that same way? i don't think so. i think the reason these are going to be important is because someone else will emerge. i don't know who but someone else will. biden does not have the type of personality that will dominate the way that trump did. >> does he have to dominate the debate if it's over two nights if no one else breaks out? >> here's the thing, he's going to focus on trump, trump is going to focus on him and he's going to be the center of energy. yes, somebody will emerge. that's the process.
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first of all, everybody -- i have to take this advice myself -- these are like every 25 feet in literally a 26-mile -- >> four years ago it was president jeb bush. >> i think the governor's right. why the energy was all on donald trump was he was willing to do things that no other candidate was willing to do during those debates and everybody else got on stage knowing he could train the insult gun on them at any moment and joe biden is not going to do that. >> here's the thing that biden will do. biden will talk about trump and everybody else will try to make biden bait them and he is going to debate. look, there's a long way to go and the history for the vice president -- >> there's a long way to go for the campaign but we're out of time. thanks very much. we'll be right back. the campaign but we're out of time. thanks very much. we'll be right back.
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that's all for us today. thanks for sharing part of your sunday with us. check out "world news tonight" and i'll see you tomorrow on "gma." us. check out "world news tonight" and i'll see you tomorrow on "gma."
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