tv CNN Special Program CNN March 10, 2019 9:00pm-10:00pm PDT
did not die in vein. thank you for watching. i am fareed zakaria. ♪ the following is a cnn special report. we got extra cameras is case the lights go out. >> this is what impeachment looks like. >> only the cbs crew to be in this room during this. only the crew. >> no, there will be no picture. no. after the broadcast. you have taken your picture. facing certain removal, richard
nixon is moments away from resigning as president. >> enough, okay? all secret services in the room? >> out. there can be no greater fall from no greater height. ♪ ♪ >> five men in the democratic national headquarters here in washington. >> nixon was desperate. >> the white water. >> he's thinking what am i going to do? >> andrew johnson's impeachment was over policies.
he did not deserve to be president of the united states. >> i am not a crook. >> one thing leads to another. a great and profound crisis. you are in the office of the president of the united states. how can you talk about blackmailing and keeping witnesses silence. >> william jefferson clinton. >> i did not have sexual relationship with that woman. >> impeachment effort against him failed by a single vote. >> president nixon, a fallen leader. >> impeached or high crimes and misdemeanors. >> i have impeached myself. ♪
good evening, i am fareed zakaria. the constitution impeachment clause was written by men who fought a revolution to escape the tyranny of kings. now they wanted to keep the president from becoming a monarch. in one version, the impeachment of bribery and malice administration. james madison says that was too vague. what if a president would cook up a scheme of speck haitiulati other words, what if the president were a crook? george mason of virginia came up with the phrase, high crimes and misdemeanors, that's article two, section four of the constitution. there was a moment in our history when it saved american democracy but in other times, it turned into a cheap political trick as a weapon. which is it today? to answer that question, we need
to understand the past so we know whether impeachment will work when we really need it. >> people are seriously talking about impeachment. >> they'll immediately try to impeach the president. >> well on our way into impeachment. >> the word impeachment was used by our account at least 12,000 times in 2018. that's just on cable news. >> i say impeachment, impeachment. >> impeachment! >> thousands are in the street out here this evening. this was just one day after donald trump was elected president. the out cry is hardly surprising. donald trump is the most po
polarizing in an already bitterly divided america. >> we'll impeach him, we'll impeach him -- but, he has not done anything wrong. oh, that does not matter, we'll impeach the president. >> we have been through periods of polarization before. the difference now, i think, is that we don't have a common baseline effects. we disagree on reality. >> that dangerous state of affairs, we disagree on the facts of reality itself is reflected on how americans feel about impeachment. in november, 77% of democrats favored removing the president from office. 5% of republicans supported impeachment. is there evidence to support an impeachment case against donald
trump. >> as a legal matter, there is enough materials allege now that if true would support an impeachment charge. >> but, says noah feldman -- >> the president of the united states -- >> that does not mean the president could or should be impeached. >> we'll explore that question later in the hour. but, first, we need to go back to understand what happens when democracy depends on impeaching the president. we now think of watergate as a time when america came together. and forced the crooked president out of office. to richard nixon and the republican party, the watergate scandal was a partisan war. >> it was a war with the fifth column. i had a partisan senate committee staff, special
prosecutor staffs, media, we had a partisan judiciary staff, fifth column. i gave them a sword and they stuck it in. >> the real story of the war nixon describes is one that few americans know. it is a story of a small group of men who turned impeachment into an act of patriotism. it all begins on june 17th, 1972. >> five men were arrested early saturday while trying to in seawall eavesdropping equipment at the democratic national committee. why was someone breaking into the democrats' campaign office? >> i proudly accept that nomination for president of the united states. >> well, richard nixon, won the presidency in 1968. by promising to get america out of vietnam.
♪ are y'all listening nixon? >> as the war dragged on, the antiwar movement exploded. as nixon campaigns for a second term, he fears vietnam may give his enemies the ammunition to defeat him. his men planned a series of dirty tricks. >> i suppose he went up the wall. >> he crippled the democrats, one of them was the watergate break-in. in 1972, nixon won re-election by a historic landslide. >> i richard nixon solemnly swear -- >> the watergate story was still growing. just weeks after the election,
inside the oval office, richard nixon declared war on the press. sounds familiar? >> you are the enemy of the people. >> i call the fake news the enemy of the people. there are other reminders of the president. donald trump directs particular anger at certain news organizations. >> cnn which is so bad or pathetic. they are the fake, fake, disgusting news. nixon went after the washington post, who bern steen led the watergate coverage. >> i want no reporters from the
washington post to ever be in the white house, is that clear in none, that's a total order and if necessary, i will fire you. do you understand? >> i do understand. >> nixon hated the press. because it was digging into the very story he was desperate to hide. that the white house was deeply involved in the watergate cover up. his campaign seemed to work early in his second term. nixon's approval ratings soared. but then came the first crack in the white house's defense. in the summer of 1973. all of america was driven by the watergate hearing. what did the president know and when did he know it? >> as the country watched white house counsel, john dean, turned
on his president. >> dean testified the watergate burglars were blackmailing white house aides. >> the white house is subjected to blackmail and i didn't know how to handle it. >> i told him that i can make an estimate that it may be as high as a million dollars. >> it was john dean's words against the president of the united states. >> no comment. >> nothing less for richard nixon's presidency, may rise whether the public believe john dean or not. >> most republicans continue to standby their president but then from a little known white house aide, a dramatic twist. >> my name is alexander b butterfield. >> are you aware of any
listening devices in the oval office of the president? >> i was aware of listening devices, yes, sir. >> it was a bomb shell. >> i had it not been for the tapes, i believe richard nixon would complete another term. >> president nixon decided not to release tapes of his conversations. if i were to make public of these tapes, the confidentiality of the office of the president would always be tresz papassed now on. >> i have never seen outrages and disturbed reporting, even as he tried to convince the people of watergate. >> what is it about television coverage the past weeks or months that arouse your anger. >> don't get the impression that you arouse my anger.
one can only angry with those who he respects. >> mr. president. >> finally a drastic step. nothing like this ever happened before. >> the office have been sealed by the fbi. a mass firing of the men pursuing the tapes. >> the saturday night massacre. the news calls a sensation in the white house and sent reporters scrambling for their telephone. >> a great and profound price that the president set himself against his own attorney general department of justice >> does it have to do with the department of justice? >> why the time it was over, the department attorney general and the special prosecutor were all out. >> the bipartisan, americans outraged changed the politics for richard nixon. tens of thousands of telegrams
flooded washington. >> western union was flocked, most of them demanded impeaching nixon. nixon was forced to appoint a news special prosecutor. as the months went on bit by bit, he was forced to turn over the tapes. they were as damming. john dean's testimony turned out to be entirely accurate. >> how much money do you need? >> i would say a million dollars the next few years. >> it was clear nixon's defenses were beginning to crumble. >> would you consider the crimes to be impeachable? >> well, i have also quit meeting my wife -- >> the meeting will come to order. >> in july of 1974, in a packed
hearing room, the house judiciary committee began to debate, removing the president. >> make no mistake about this. this is a turning point, whatever we decide. committee chairman peter rodino, was new to the job, some doubted whether he can handle it. >> a highly partisan prosecution if there were one. many nixon loyalists were angry and still i mmovable. for republicans impeaching their president, they kept holding out for more evidence. >> the wave of evidence must be cleared and convincing. you can't substitute it for m
anything else. clear and convincing. you can't and should not under any circumstances to remove the highest office in the world for anything less than clear and convincing. >> as emotions began to run high, the facts were calmly recited and documented. something surprising happens. >> someone trying to buy the eye sle silence of a witness. >> the thing that's so appalling to me that the president when this whole idea was suggested to him, rise up and say, get out of here, you are in the office of the president of the united states, how can you talk about blackmail and bribery and keeping witnesses silence, this is the presidency of the united states.
>> one by one, conservatives revered the president, put conscious over party. >> i can't condone what i have heard and i can't excuse it and will not standstill for it. >> i wish the president could do something to resolve himself. >> perhaps the most conservative southerner from alabama, he served juror george wallace's campaign. >> i wake up nights, wondering if this could not be some sort of dream, impeach the president of the united states. he did vote to impeach. even the conservatives who stuck with the president reached across the isle to say thank you. >> i must admit and all candidness that it has been very fair. >> this impeachment has been historic and honorable. >> republicans understood they
were not going to carry their bids if they voted for impeachment. some of them did it anyway. >> all those in favor say aye, all those oppose, say no. mr. donohue. >> aye. >> mr. brooks. >> aye. >> the committee approved three articles of impeachment, obstruction of justice, contempt of congress, abuse of power. >> mr. hutchins. >> no. >> chairman rodino tleleft the m and cried. >> an official impeachment would come later with a full house vote. nixon's wall of republican
defenders have kroumabcrumbled. there is a count down towards the expected and end of the nix nixon's presidency. tonight at 9:00, eastern daylight time, the president of the united states will address the nation. it was over. >> i have never been a quitter to leave office before my term is completed is a harm to every instinct of my body. as president, i must put the interests of america first, therefore, i should resign the presidency effective at noon tomorrow. >> the impeach. me me ment -- impeachment, it worked. >> the scandal itself triggered a lot of fate in government and politicians.
it will be 25 years before impeachment will come up again. >> do you understand that? >> this time -- it was a completely different story. ♪ i think i found my dream car. it turns out they want me to start next month. she can stay with you to finish her senior year? of course she can! [ laughter ] [ groaning ] hey! want to drive?
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>> a two-bid real estate deal that ended up losing money would change the course of history. >> are you subjected -- >> decades later, the white water controversy. >> the turbulent over white water. >> white water became a massive spiraling investigation. >> that led prosecutors to a sex scandal. >> there it is. >> william jefferson clinton is impeached. >> that became the second presidential impeachment in american history. >> how on earth did that little corner of arkansas -- >> i am here by deliver this article of impeachment. >> how did it explode into a constitutional show down. >> yet somehow one thing leads to another and we are on the
house floor debating whether the president of the united states should be removed from office. i did not have sexual relationship with that woman, miss lewinsky. when we think of the clinton's impeachment, we think of a certain white house intern. before there was monica, there were the mcdougals, jim and susan, clinton may not have been impeached had it not for them. they had other financial ties as well. so when jim and susan landed in legal trouble for fraud. >> if i am found guilty -- the white water development is not going to go away. there are too many questions. the clintons came under fire, too. >> questions have been raised of the clintons' financial and personal involvement of mcdougal.
>> there was a growing drum beat for an independent council to investigate white water. >> we did nothing improper and i have nothing to say about it. >> thank you. >> old story. >> clinton had a faithful choice to make, lock the special counsel and take a beating in the press. >> it appears to be the case of the president's past coming back to haunt him. >> or leaving himself to a limitless investigation. the president gave in. >> i don't want to be distracted anymore, let him look into it. >> years later, he called that decision one of the biggest miscalculations in his presidency. >> you have no budgets and limits, prosecutors will keep looking for the crime until they can find it. >> the first special prosecutor, robert fist. >> he's quick and thorough. he vows to wrap up his investigation quickly. >> let's get out of the way. >> would you guys get down. he was replaced and his
successor, ken star, was far more aggressive. our jobs was to gather facts and get at the truth. expanding way beyond white water. >> how is this white water? >> the investigation leads in all different directions. this is wildly a historic night. >> no one could have been happier than star's approach than newt gingrich. they swept into congress in 1994. >> this is an earthquake preaching a new gospel of strict, orthodox and conservatives. newt gingrich reshaped the republican party. we do not compromise with democrats. president clinton became the democr democrat, the republicans d
despiced the most. >> i was clinton's lover for 12 years. >> they viewed him as an imposter. >> the law is the law. the law is sacred. >> ken star had been digging into the clintons for more than two years. >> ru going to be working for the congress? >> his investigation was whining down. >> i am not going to be making any statements. >> out of the blue, some explosive tape recording came his way. >> i never expected to feel this way about him. conversations of monica lewinsky that was secretly recorded by her co-worker. >> if you get an orgasm, that's having sex. no, it is not. >> star ex pannpanded his
investigation and looking into lewins lewinsky. >> i could not believe that scar was going down the road. do you understand your answer are testimonies and being given under oath. >> star learned that the president was testifying about lewinsky. >> a sexual harassment lawsuit brought by paula jones. >> i do understand that. >> in his testimony, clinton was not truth full about lewinsky. >> i never had sexual relationship with monic monica lewinsky. >> there are new allegations of fidelity over bill clinton. >> charges of sex and lies and audio tape. >> clinton kept on denying the affair. >> the allegations i have read are not true. >> star was able to get
lewinsky's dress that had the president's dna with it. >> in dethere were semen on tha dress. star released a detail x-rated account on the scandal. >> listing 11 possible grounds for impeachment including lying under oath and obstruction of justice. it is easy to forget in hinds sight but bill clinton was in real danger of being pushed out of office. many of his fellow democrats were furious with him. >> let justice be done though the heavens for. >> if they came to the white house like republicans did with nixon like 1974, saying your time's up, that would have been it. >> clinton he was able to rally
the party and the country back to his side. >> i will continue to do all i can to reclaim the trust of the american people and to serve them well. his behavior may have been representab representable. the american public agreed. the democrats scored a shocking upset in the midterm elections and gaining seats in the house. the lewinsky issue did not carry any weight. >> newt gingrich bripredicted a victory. he lost his job as speaker. >> shouldering the blame for a disappointment election. >> impeachment, you may intend to use it intensity your executive enemy but it can very well hurt you even more politically. president clinton was thrilled thinking he was in the clear. >> on capitol hill, tom delay known as the hammer.
tom delay went on impeaching him anyway. >> the house has no choice but to proceed with an impeachment inquire. some republicans referred a less punishment for clinton. delay's maneuvering took that option off the table. >> republicans were given a choice, either impeach him or get him off. which is it going to be? article one is adapted. >> we have witnessed history, the house impeached clinton almost entirely party lines. the president resigns, his legacy will be familiar scarred today. in the senate, he was acquitted. >> william jefferson clinton is not guilty. the american people spoke in the midterms, 1998 and said we don't want to impeach this president.
>> after the senate trial, congress took the law that created ken star's job and let it die. >> no, i am not going to comment. >> a bipartisan acknowledgment. the things had gone too far. >> women will be silence no more. but, today in the me too era, clinton's impeachment is being seriously reconsidered. his affair with young intern seen my many as an abuse of power. >> my greatest minute to, hillary clinton. democrat kirsten gillibrand who holds clinton's old senate seat is now running for president. bill clinton should have resigned, said in 2017. >> the kind of behavior that's tolerated a long time ago can't be tolerated today. too long. ♪
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when george bush was sworn in as the 43rd president of the united states, the cloud of bill clinton's impeachment still hung over the country. the president of the united states, george w. bush. what no one knew then was that a new kind of partisan warfare had been unleashed. every president that came after clinton has had to contend with impeachment fever. >> impeachment! >> no longer seem unthinkable to impeach the president. >> he lied to us, he should be
impea impeached. >> impeachment went from something you use only in moments of crisis. to something you use for everyday in battles. that's a horrible development for the american people. >> it is a grotesque site to look at -- >> after one of the most traumatic moments in america's history, the country came together. >> i can hear you. the rest of the world hears you and the people. and the people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon. >> the country supported president bush as he took the united states into battle to destroy sudan hassan weapon of
mass destruction. there were done. the occupation of iraq was tragic. and antiwar movement grew quickly. bush lied. >> it used impeachment as a weapon. >> bring down bush, he needs to be impeached. impeachment talk got louder. >> the democratic congressman introduced dozens of articles of impeachment. nancy pelosi wanted none of it. >> impeachment is off the table. >> disagreement over policies. we are not intended by the founders to be the bases for a series attempt of impeachment. >> it is not a crime or a misdemeanor under the constitution to make a mistake. after bush's mistake, the country was totally polarized in its view of the president and the partisan gap was the widest
ever recorded. >> ladies and gentlemen, the president of the united states, and the vice president. impeachment fever would only get worst under the next president. >> change has come to america. in 2008, barack obama w, was elected on a promise to help heal the country's extreme partisan divide. but the candidate who had campaigned on yes, we can, ran into a wall of republican opposition. >> hell no you can't. >> the tea party formed to barack obama. in 2010, it propelled a wave of new republicans to congress. >> what does it feel like? >> it feels bad. >> this new hyper partisan congress presided over a growing impeachment movement. >> when you promise you are out
to impeach the president, you can make a name for yourself. you can raise money and rally the base. >> impeachment. >> really? impeachment is not supposed to be used as a rallying cry. both sides played around with it. impeachment campaigns against president bush and obama never gained legitimacy or real support. it is only talk. >> if you play around impeachment that way, overtime the american people are going to misunderstand its constitutional power and its necessity. when barack obama left office, he was more popular than george bush. the gap between the people who loved him and people who hated him was larger than it had been with president bush. >> the dark polarization of the last few years is the worst of american history with one
exception. the period around the civil war. on april 15th, 1865, president abraham lincoln was assassinated. the country was still deeply divided over the civil war, entered andrew johnson. johnson was a southern democrat who lincoln picked to create a national unit ticket. there are few things historians agreed upon but this was one, andrew johnson was one of america's worst president. >> he was essential lyanly a ra who was dead set on congress' program of reconstructing the south. >> republicans in congress despise him. the republican control congress
decided to wage a political war. it sets an impeachment trap for him. that trap was called the ten-year of office act. >> congress passed the law over johnson's veto that says he could not fire his own cabinet members. >> when president johnson fired his secretary of war, the house approved 11 articles of impeachment against him. >> their entire approach to impeachment was partisan and id idea logical. there were no grounds to remove him. the country was one vote away from removing president johnson. johnson basically agreed to seize all the behavior that had been so problematic to go along with the congressional reconstruction program. >> historians today regarding the impeachment trap as
unconstitutional. >> impeachment fell into disrepute. >> johnson's impeachment would serve as a warning of a partisan impeachment in a sharply divided country. >> it raises blood pressures and it makes impeachment harder to use when you might really need it. >> building a better bank. capital one cafes, with savings and checking accounts you can open from here in 5 minutes. this is banking reimagined. what's in your wallet? to be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing it's best to make you everybody else... ♪ ♪ means to fight the hardest battle, which any human being can fight and never stop. does this sound dismal? it isn't. ♪ ♪ it's the most wonderful life on earth. ♪ ♪
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at the end of each of my specials, i stood before you and given you my view on the topic of hand. i am going to do that now in a slightly different way. impeachment is such a combustible issue with historical mentions that i thought it is best to ask the basic questions that we wonder about and listen to what some of our experts had to say. it is important to understand that impeachment is a political process, and impeachable offenses at the end of the day whatever congress defines as such. we live in a constitutional
republic shapes by law and history. what can we say about the mandate given to congress under which we can impeach a president. what are high crimes and misdemeanors? >> high crimes and high means pertaining to high office. if your crime or misdemeanor has nothing to do with your office you're not covered by the framers idea of impeachment. >> if you look carefully at the reasoning of republicans and democrats that voted for impeachment over the course of our history, you'll notice that they always come back to the idea that some action or some pattern of conduct by the chief executive represents a threat to our democracy and to our constitution. >> one of the questions we must all wonder about is why is it that we hear so much talk about impeachment these days? bush, obama, and now trump.
when did this all start? >> it really has been about 20 years from the clinton impeachment. it's so overtaken our political discourse. president trump came to office with about one third of the american public already supporting his impeachment. that's extraordinary. >> that gets us to the elephant in the room. has donald trump committed offenses that could be considered impeachment? like money laundering which some suspect in his real estate deals or fraud involving trump university or tax evasion which is why some theorize he won't show us his tax returns. >> crimes that trump may allegedly have committed before he had anything to do with the office of the presidency do not count as high crimes and misdemeanors. >> what about obstruction of justice? >> obstruction of justice is a charge that was used both
against richard nixon and against bill clinton. if it's real, it's a very strong ground for impeachment. >> noah feldman says when the president fired james comey he may have committed obstruction of justice. >> my view is he could have done so if he did it with corrupt intent. the president has the right to remove him on any whim he might have. but the fact that the president can remove comey doesn't mean that it's permissible for him to do it if he did it for gain. >> to prove that, you'd need a smoking gun. >> it's very hard to prove. >> he does seek possible charges in another case. michael cohen's sworn testimony that the president directed him to make an illegal payment to stormy daniels. cohen says it was made to influence the election. >> a president that distorts the
electoral process and breaks the law in doing so is potentially impeachable. >> what about special counsel robert mueller's russia investigation. >> if there were evidence that donald trump further colluded with russians in a way that undercut the legit macy of the election that would be an even deeper pair lel. >> there was one area i was surprised to find agreement among our experts. impeachment is capital punishment for a president. it's something that congress should not consider unless all other avenues are no longer open. >> what would an impeachment process look like in the deeply divided america we live in today? >> a lot of folks think impeachment just falls out of
the sky. it doesn't. congress has to decide whether it's the right move. >> unless there's overwhelming proof that the ma zwrojority of country accepts, it will not bring this country together. >> it activates the worst kinds of partisan tribalism on all sides of the aisle. >> the only circumstances would be where there is evidence so glaring that failure to impeach would show the hypocracy of the whole system. >> in other words america might be too polarized today to be able to deal with an impeachment honestly and responsibly. that's a dark verdict on the state of our politics but it rings true and it has a worrying consequence. >> when you live in a world of broken politics and
extraordinary partisan polarization it may not be possible to generate the consensus necessary to use the impeachment power. that's a scary thought. there may be circumstances where we just can't wait for the next election and i don't have a reassuring answer to that. >> throughout this special report i've tried not to tell you what to think about this issue but to give you the facts and context to tell you how to think. i hope i have succeeded. that's our program tonight. thank you for joining us. ♪ when irish eyes are smiling
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