The Impeachment Non-Trial with Elie Honig
Welcome to words matter with Katie. Barlow and Joe Lockhart welcome to words matter. I'm Katie Barlow. Our goal is to promote objective reality as a wise man once said had everyone is entitled to their own opinion not their own facts. Words have power and words have consequences. Our guest is a former state and federal prosecutor with extensive experience leading and managing criminal trials and appeals us as a state prosecutor New Jersey and a federal prosecutor in the Southern District of New York l. e. haunting directed major criminal cases against street gangs drug trafficking organizations illegal firearm traffickers corrupt public officials child predators and white collar. Criminals Elliott also serves who says a rutgers university. Scholar is a CNN legal analyst as featured on cross exam a staple at CNN on the weekend Elian welcome looking back towards matter. Glad to be here. We have much to discuss. Yes so it's all over now in the sense of the trial. I don't know that it's all over. Intense of the political fallout. How do you think the house managers did in their case? What did they? Where did they score? And where did they miss. So overall I have to say I'm not just impressed but really in awe of the job that the house managers to date this back to the beginning of the House investigation first of all to pull together the case that they pulled together on such short timeframe a complex case with they had subpoena power but it was largely elite defied with very limited subpoena power and to still put together a case that I think was understandable and compelling the way they did it was remarkable and with respect to the performance during the trial and to some extent this goes for the trump's lawyers as well to some extent and carve out some exceptions but I thought the quality of the lawyering wearing an advocacy especially over the. Qa portion was remarkable the thoughtfulness the precision of the responses the preparedness. Nobody got caught off guard the level of rhetoric. I thought it was really persuasive. Now Look Adam. Schiff is obviously gifted attorneys gifted at this this is a perfect perfect setting for him. I thought came Jeffries and And Representative Crow. Were really good. I thought vow demings. She's the only one who's not a lawyer. But I thought that she was effective as well and Sylvia Garcia was good Nadler. I don't think is very good just in terms of the presentation on the other side. Let's put aside for a second these shading of truth and that kind of thing but I thought Philbin got once he got. His bearings was really effective impressive as well and simple loan to a lesser extensible and was a little bit looser with the truth. And then you have your whole other category for the sideshows which I'm sure we'll get to that. They're Schuetzen. Ken Starr's worked disasters. We'll get to that. This is very different than a trial. That's in any court state federal appellate where there are definitive rules. Rules of evidence of what's Germain and telling the truth. It was my sense that if there was a judge in the room. Several of the White House defense lawyers would be held in contempt. Talk about that. Yeah one of the things that was so different about this his trial from a normal criminal trial. It's just the flow in the rhythm because when you're doing a criminal trial there is a very natural back and forth. You almost never get an uninterrupted interrupted platform Generally speaking you'll have openings. One side goes then. It'll go an hour. Then the other side goes then. Call your witnesses. Its examination cross examination and warrior even doing your examinations or or your jury addresses. You're getting objected to so there's a constant check on you as a real trial case as a lawyer. If you say something that's a little bit outside the record if you say something that's not been properly admitted in evidence even if you don't sometimes other side just wants to throw you off. There's a constant I guess I would say natural check on everything that's being said in a criminal trial here. It was three days uninterrupted for each side. I mean that boggled my mind is is a trial lawyer. There was no objection. There was no objection. Your honor that's not in the record of objection. misstates the testimony so Yeah I think I think by and large. It's hard to think of anything to me off the top of my head that the house managers said or did that was out of bounds or or really pushed the boundaries of truth Bruce but there were some examples coming from the defense team. For example. I mean early onset Malone said well. Republicans weren't allowed in the skiff. Obvious Sustainment and I think that hurt his credibility but even some of the ways that the facts are argued later the can for example the continued insistence Ukraine. Didn't know there's tons of evidence yet. They knew so they stepped a little bit farther over line and there was no way to check them. Yeah I mean I think the best examples how they treated Victor Shokhin the corrupt prosecutor later they they continued to say that he was investigating Burris MMA right in fact the opposite was true right so this is where and it will be the crux of our conversation station here politics and legal theory and legal practice merge but LEMme throw one more at you Monday morning quarterbacking order backing Is there something. The house managers could have done differently in constructing the articles and making the argument in holding ending them. Not Holding them all of those things. That would have made a difference to things that I can think of. First of all I think the number one thing that they'll be second guessed on. This is what we do now. It's a little hard for me to second. Guess because there's a little bit of an ethic with prosecutors of they're the ones who are in the battlefield but look the the big one is should they have charged crimes alleged crimes in in the articles of impeachment. They could have done so with two little or no cost they they still should have led with abuse of power as they did constitutionally usually you can impeach for abuse of power but they could have either had subsections within abuse of power saying we alleged abuse of power including but not limited to the following a bribery. Be The extortion. See for an election or they could have gone for separate articles of impeachment for each of those crimes or one of those crimes and I think the reason they did not do that is early on in this whole process. People were really having a hard time with the concept of quid pro quo and I think the calculation was. Let's not get get pulled into the weeds of arguing over legal concepts elements of crimes like quid pro quo corrupt exchange. We don't want this to look like a jury instruction instruction where the order to find Article One. You must find the following three elements I think they wanted to keep it high level. In general the problem though is is a couple of things one it opened up this whole argument to what Donald trump aptly called impeachment light. I don't mean it's an APP phrase but I mean sometimes he has a good turn of phrase that I think resonates with people and I think the idea of impeachment light and then look a lot of the debate that we saw at the trial was about the fact that there's no crime here and we know that's not really the law but does it resonate resonate with people and it opened the door to this Dershowitz. The defense of the abuse of power as alleged is not impeachable which we saw a lot of Republicans then take shelter Tur- under including in their vote for no witness so I think that's one big tactical decision that was made the other one is in an ideal world where time wasn't a factor after the house could have gone to court to enforce it subpoenas and this goes to article to the obstruction of Congress. One of the main objections from Republicans. And I think with with some with some heft to it. was you serve subpoenas. We didn't we believe they were effective legally defective but you never took us the cord on it and and so you just jumped right to impeachment and I would have taken away that argument be maybe they would have gotten some of this evidence. Maybe if they fought for Bolton we would have heard from Bolton under oath and same with Mulvaney lenience in with pumping oil. I think they would have won in the courts but the practical the practical problem is they just didn't have time and we saw Jerry now. They're get strung out for months on this and I think that shift didn't WANNA go down the same path so because Katie Wasn't able to join us this weekend. Because we've seen sort of the back and forth house managers manager's time and White House time we're GonNa do something a little bit different here today which I'm going to yield the floor. Now you're now the The prosecutor like yield to the gentleman yield. What's I just healed for? The Guy does yield to the guy across from me and I will have to answer your questions. Okay number number one. Was this whole incident. A plus or minus for Joe Biden in terms of twenty twenty prospects. Let me answer that two ways. Is it going to be yes. And No No I think the answer is Will certainly no better once people caucus in Iowa. And because of the way podcasts work. Some people download this the day after but my my view is it's a net plus us for a couple of reasons one is we live in a tribal society whether it's your political party your religion your ethnicity and it's Democrats are And this goes for Republicans to Democrats are okay with other Democrats criticizing them but they're not okay with Republican rate getting being into their business and I think this all started and came out at a time where Biden was floundering and there was some prospect of Kinda falling off the map. And I think there's been a little bit of a rallying around the second and more important thing is Democrats are enraged and they're enraged enraged by the fact that Donald Trump has not been held accountable and that raises the stakes in this election and it moves away from do I idealogical. We believe in candidate a versus candidate B to the point of the only thing that matters is feeding Donald Trump right and I think that helps Joe Biden widen. I don't know that that helps Joe Biden in Iowa which is a unique place. And maybe even New Hampshire but it will definitely I think over the long run boost his candidacy so so net plus the second way I look at this is is I look at it. From Trump's point of view in some ways trump got exactly exactly what he wanted. He wanted to smear Joe Biden. He wanted the crane needs to do it form. They wouldn't they were willing to do it. He just happened to get caught. Then any got The United States Senate to do it and he he got what he wanted but he's painted enormous price for the idea. That impeachment will rally people people around him. I don't think he'll say this. The people who support have always supported them. They didn't go anywhere but I don't see independence and conservative. Have Democrats looking at the entire process. Particularly with the way the cover up was engineered as saying. Yeah I'M GONNA rally round my president right now so idly like in the real estate business. He got the building that he wanted but he's so overpaid for it and make collapses entire Empire uh-huh well that leads perfectly into my next question. What do you see for the Republicans in the future like? Let's let's think post trump whether it's twenty twenty or twenty four. And how do you see that party going. And who you see. Sort of emerging as the leader of that party. I have for some time thought that the Republican Party was the equivalent dead man. Walking it had major challenges facing demographic point of view the people under thirty five I think very differently than people over thirty five in this country. And that's really bad. News for the Republicans given their ideological base. And I hate to say EH. The people over thirty five Are Going to get older and die and the people under thirty five. We're GONNA get older and be alive and that's that's bad news for both. Yeah we're worse news for me but there you go so I think that was already a challenge. In the Republican Party felt that and they were faced with the choice a moderating their point of views modernizing the party particularly on social issues. Things like gay marriage things like climate. Where young young people have very very strong views it is a tolerant generation and a future oriented generation or they could hang on for dear life to some of the things that sustain them and that's were trump comes in? There was an interesting explanation. I heard the other day that if you think of Republicans Republicans like an endangered species. What happens as a species? Begets appointment. Danger is they either evolve and survive. who talk or they cling so hard to the things that have gotten them where they are they become extinct and I think that's what's going on with the Republican Party so post trump? The really interesting thing to look at is not what's going on in this election. It's what's going on in the next election and you already. We have Nikki. Haley and Mike Pompeo who particularly Nikki Haley. We could have gone the more moderate modern road. She's a young woman who may differences with trump known when she was at the UN and both her in POMPEII. Oh have gone all Liane on. I'm more trumpy than trump. And that tells you that the instincts of survival have taken hold within the Republican Party and and this evolutionary theory applies to politics. It will lead them to be an endangered species. I think if you will twenty years out you're going to have to political critical parties because we're set up as a two and one of them is going to look like what I'd call. The Joe Biden Democratic Party. That will be the Conservative Party and one of them will look quake the Bernie Sanders. AFC party which will be akin to Democratic Socialism. That's where the country's going it's not there now by And I I don't believe Bernie Sanders can get elected because of that because we're not there yet but we will go from being a center right country to a centre-left country and and if you WanNa look for some good news in what's happened over the last three. That's good news because a progressive agenda is much better for average Americans than a conservative agenda. I was GONNA ask you if you were retained by the RNC as a consultant. What would your prescription be? But I think you I think you kind of answered it right there in terms of moving the party ahead for you know for next phases. There were there was a time in which the Democratic Party could not win a national election. Shen Jimmy Carter won a national election because of the Nixon pardon. The Nixon fallout Democrats didn't win again again. It's all nine hundred ninety two and that was because Bill Clinton as a charismatic figure pulled the Democratic Party back towards the middle and made the Democratic Party electable Republicans. Need that kind of person. The problem is is we were just talking about is the charismatic figures in the Party. And I think Nikki Haley is one one and I think as much as Mike pompeo makes me WANNA pull my hair out has real skills as a politician. They're going in the other direction they're going in the direction you know of the the Dodo bird that could have survived but took the wrong path. And now it's tanked. I just compared my compared with Doto. I like it works. What do you see as the impact of this impeachment process? We just went through on some of the down ballot races including the Senate races coming up. Who Do you see as endangered? What do you see happening to the balance of power in the Senate in particular? Yeah that's a really good question. I think if I'd make one prediction out of what happened last last week is I still don't know whether Donald Trump can get reelected or not. It's an open question in my mind. I think as of today the Democrats will retake the Senate. Well I think Susan Collins will lose news. I think Cory Gardner will lose. I think Martha mcsally who I will lose and one other. I don't know who it is I will lose and I think the Democrats will hold their. It's Doug Jones being probably the most vulnerable but Republicans are deciding between the damage. Jeff sessions down there and a pedophile. So let me let me just build off of that answer one of the questions. I get a lot if the Democrats turned the Senate in two thousand twenty could they re impeach Donald Trump and the the short answer to me is legally sure but politically no way and by the way that was a common answer. I think that that I gave to a lot of questions that came up in this impeachment. Legally sure but politically and practically. It'll never fly the one thing that you can say about Donald Trump is. You never know what's going to be the cliffhanger hangar at the end of his reality season. What's the episode one of season? Four or five. I wouldn't rule anything out. He is broken so many malls and if he went I obviously. I don't think there'll be an impeachment. another impeachment before Election Day but if more information and comes out and there are other more serious violations of his oath of office I wouldn't rule it out really. Could you see Pelosi. Green lighting another impeachment of him. It depends what he does. Some of this is there will be a lot of pundits who'll say policy. We'll have his putting her tail between her wag sort of drifting off and this was a failure. I don't think she thinks she failed. I think she's sick. She believes she succeeded and I agree with her. This is about a very simple concept politically. which is our leaders accountable? Our leaders above the law does absolute power absolutely corrupt. She's she's on the right side of all of those questions so I wouldn't. I wouldn't put back. Let me turn it back on you the way can I just has one Pelosi thing because you and I had a lot of discussions about Pelosi and the pattern has always been I say. Why is she doing? This makes no sense and you say she knows what she's doing it turns out it works for but has she really been pushed by that sort of greater good because one thing that is hard for me to get my mind around us. How she she wanted to kill the muller impeachment right? I think we agree on. She did not believe that it was the right move either politically critically or in terms of her constitutional duty or otherwise to impeach based on the Muller reports. She was obviously trying to slowly. Take it away from Nadler and let it go away until this transcript came out. So what changed. Did it just become that. She had no choice. That something else changed. No I think there was a fundamental change in this for better or worse my evolution on all these issues happens to have been documented in the New York Times Over and over again. But I think and again I have not talked to her about this so but I think our thinking is very similar because of the way. Bill Bar mischaracterized the Muller report and because of Bob mowers unwillingness to take a position on almost anything beyond this happened. This happened this kind of there. There wasn't a sense among a lot of Democrats including Nancy Pelosi. I'm not trying to put us on the same level but we agreed. That impeachment wasn't the right political move. What changed is is very simple thing and that Friday night when atom shift came out and did that late night press conference it changed instantly in my mind once I knew what he was talking about more was about something that had already happened? It was two thousand sixteen as much as I believe particularly the wikileaks stuff could have turned the election. You could just as easily argue that James Comey turned the election or you could just disease. You can't win. That argument in the legal slash political world Ukraine was about the next election. This was about the president. Has It took shift a little while to get to this. But when he finally did you heard it over again is about the prisoner cheating right. This is about the president trying trying to rig the next election in his own favor and using our government and our taxpayer dollars to do it. That left Democrats. I believe with no choice to stand there and say. Hey don't worry about it. We'll just wait to. The election was not an option. My guess is she decided it as quickly as most. Oh so that people in the caucus did because remember a good section of the caucus didn't WanNa do it with just more and it was an avalanche once this came out of of members in her caucus. That wanted to do this so it is as simple as not really getting the past which politically I think. Would've I've been neutral at bass negative at worst to debating where we are going as a country so I think she was in the right place before Ukraine and in the right place after Ukraine so let me put my prosecutor hat back on God talk about the legal implications going forward. Our president's going forward going to take the view article two now supersedes Article One and that congressional oversight is neutered and a whether it's trump or its president haley or president cory booker or whomever it is. They've just decided that what happened last week. With the vote settled the separation of powers debate in this country I think one of the long lasting impacts of what we just went through who is that. The balance of power has shifted. I think the executive branch is stronger now than it was and probably will remain stronger for the next the generation and I think Congress has been weakened and we can sort of run through the ways but a lot of the checks on the presidency. I think have been compromised or lower first of all impeachment itself. Now Look We. We know prior patriots are not necessarily binding precedent. But just boil it down. If this is an impeachable what is we can all think of. Worse scenario is worse outrageous scenarios taking a bag of cash from Ukrainians to influence policy or something but as realistic realistic scenarios. Go it's hard to think of a more. Obviously impeachable and removable conduct than this so that that is one important thing but yes. The subpoena battle is really important here. And we don't have all the answers yet because Congress served a whole slew of subpoenas over on the the executive branch the executive branch said you can pound sand on all of them across the board. That's unprecedented no present including Richard. Nixon has ever just said no to everything everything. Nixon said you get some of it. You don't get others and he still got impeached for obstruction of Congress and a weird wrinkle here is we're not going to get resolution the only case it's actually Lee wending. Its way through the courts right now is Don mcgann. And that's that's not even executive privilege at this weird absolute immunity argument which I believe is it failed and disaccord. I think it's GONNA to fail all the way but that was always a fringy extremist theory that presidents had never really actually exerted in court anyway. But if you're put try to put yourself in the shoes of the next president whatever party and let's say Congress Senate or House controlled by the other party digs into you. Why would you comply with any subpoena and and there's no ultimately where this will be corrected is in the courts but we're not gonNA get anything or not? We're not going to get much in the courts because the Democrats never did go to the court really on the bulk of these cases now I will say one thing. The Republican attorneys did well or may have just been fortuitous. Is Leveraged the political political timeline versus the legal time line. If you didn't have political considerations if you didn't have to worry about twenty twenty election and primary and you're running the show for Democrats you go so we're going to take six months more to investigate this. We're going to go to court. We're GONNA FIGHT FOR BOLTON WE'RE GONNA fight for Mulvaney. We're going to fight for those documents. I you would take a year more. You're but you can't as a practical matter because you've got the twenty twenty election looming and I think as a result. We have some bad loans bad precedent. Now it's GonNa take years and years to undo. Yeah the irony of all of the Republican complaints. About how rush they were in the houses. They did the trial ten days. Let's put that aside talk about what I thought was. How's jaw-dropping mind boggling? Crazy wego theory. Alan Dershowitz Hobo. So first of all I have to say. I used to put into get into Professor Dershowitz his class every semester. They had a lottery system for it and I never got in. I was Oh for six semesters of getting into his class and and boy do I regret that now He was an embarrassment and he was. I think really made a fool of himself both in the way he contradicts terms himself. Sure from nineteen ninety eight to now. He's contradicted himself while the he used to say you don't need a crime turned around. I'm trying to keep up with the many turns of Alan Dershowitz and and now he says there has to be a crime but he was turning himself around day by day throughout this process at one point he said well. I've studied my opposition and I realized I more right now than I was. Then I mean what. It's almost like like a stand up. Comedian came up with that line but his his last salvo was this idea that ah it can't be an impeachable quid. Pro Quo an impeachable exchange as long as the president has some intent. Some good intent with good intent being. I need to win this election. Because I'm the best person for the job I mean that is a nutso standard. I'll tell you how you can tell he cites nothing. Nothing and nobody Alan. Dershowitz has been studying this stuff for his whole career for decades and decades. There's no end on the number of scholars and Practitioners Titian IRS. Who can be studied Dershowitz cites from the book of Durhush? And that's it that's chapter and verse and there's real hard what he did to. It's not just offensive to watch what he did. You don't just go. Oh He's wrong. The problem is he provided cover for for Republicans but a special kind of cover not just is cover to vote not guilty but covered vote. No on witnesses because his theory was perfectly tailored to allow the Republican senators to say well. The professor says even if the worst alleged is true even if John Bolton comes in and testifies to the worst of Donald Trump's imagination Asian. It's not impeachable. And all they needed was a thin little hook and they gotta he gave it to him. Yeah and he played a pretty cynical game just by being there he. He sold himself as someone who was not in trump's campaign he did not care about the facts and he was a constitutional scour our when in fact he's a defense attorney. I mean he said over and over. I don't represent Donald Trump. I represent the constitution. First of all get over yourself at dickey's second of all the guy wrote a book called the Case Against Against Impeaching Donald Trump in twenty eighteen before any Ukraine thing happened. That is a ridiculously Self aggrandize position to take think he alienated a Lotta people but look I think people in trump's can't seem as a hero he came in and did he lent his name and he let the weight of his own background reputation and even to an extent. Harvard law school to this theory that I think helped trump he was gonna get acquitted and in all likelihood either way but even dodge witnesses one of the things that struck me when President Clinton went through Impeachment was. He had two sets of wires. He had his own private lawyers. Who represented the president as a human being a person? And then he had his White House counsel who represented the presidency and they were very different and they often often at odds on strategy on how to make the argument so much so that Charles. Ruff the president's White House counsel refused the show President Clinton his opening statement. I in fact he called me into his office the night before. Said I want to show you this. The opening statement. I want you to look at it as a non lawyer and and see if there's anything that jumps out said I'm not gonNA show it to you unless you promise you won't tell the president and I promise that I saw it in this trial. There didn't seem to be any distinction action. It seemed like everybody there. No one was representing the presidency. They were just representing Donald Trump. The person it's a great point to make and so people understand pats at Bologna and Charles. Roth held the same position. They were White House. Counsel when you're White House counsel your client is not Donald John Trump or William Jefferson. Clinton your client is the presidency. The institution of the presidency and some people did not play simple is out there like an attack dog and there's no regard for the presidency itself. It's it's there's no distinction. There was no distinction in his function or performance or ethic as between Pat. Simple only White House counsel and Jaysekulow. Hello private counsel and I think in sadly I think that may be a relic. I mean I didn't know chuck rough but I I worked at the firm Covington burling where he was at started there right around around the time he died and he was revered and if you look back in history the way he handled that position I mean I almost wonder if that would even happen now in the post trump world somebody somebody could say yes. I'm the White House counsel. Yes I understand this act of taking might not be your individual best interest but I think it's necessary for the office I mean what what a what a Sort of noble view of the job but unfortunately also potentially extinct one. And do we do. We think going forward harking back on presidents who no longer feel subject to oversight or any accountability to Congress. Do you think future presidents will view the attorney general as their private attorney. Do you think they'll view the White House counsel was their private attorney and the US government as a reservoir for their own fortunes as opposed to you for the country's well if you're strictly following precedent and your mindset. Was I wanna get away with everything. I can possibly get away with then. Sure I guess the idealistic slash naive side of me thinks well the men and women who will become president after Donald trump whatever that may be from whatever party will be of a bit of higher higher moral bearing and have concerns beyond that but one of the one of the long lasting pieces of damage done by all this damage to DOJ and bill bar. It's hard to overstate state. Just how destructive bill bar has been to the institution of DOJ to the point where lifers doj vets like me who always give DOJ. The benefit of the Dow always presumed. The best intentions have lost that now with respect to bill by the way he's used the OJ. Throughout this has been entirely to protect heck donald trump every step of the way from the from the moment the whistleblower complaint came out and the law says if the whistle blower complaint is deemed credible. All an urgent it shall be forwarded the Congress bill bars DOJ came up with this cockamamie legal position that no it doesn't because it's the president he tried to keep that whistleblower complaint blink from ever seeing the light of day on through refusing to open up even take a look at an investigation on anything you by the way we all know. The president cannot be indicted. It'd Rudy Giuliani can be indicted mick. Mulvaney can be indicted for bribery for extortion. If the facts fit we don't have quite enough of the facts about them but the fact that the OJ wouldn't even take take a look. I mean we all take it for granted now that everything bill bar is going to do and has done is done in no different capacity than if the president's private attorney Randy OJ. And I really hope that changes I mean. I think it's going to be a long long time before we see another Janet Reno become attorney. General did things that were often contrary to the interests and bill. I remember I remember so one of my special projects over the last five or six months primarily in the Green Room at CNN is to work without determine him from being something of a political novice into a seasoned political cynic. We've weeds working we we. We've had quite a few conversations stations where I've had to come to La. After the argument a couple of days later and say see I was right you know. Don't don't argue with me about but usually really do it in a in a in a more biting way. Now that you are a seasoned political cynic go ahead. Ask Me some questions to just do the Horse race game. Because it's kind of fun. These impeachments have a way of being becoming career and legacy defining so. Who Do you think who's involved in this in any way uses this as a springboard who do you see emerging out of? This is a real future weather. It's contender for president or some enormous difference making position. Well I think there are two stars on. The Democratic side Died Adam Schiff who could be elected to anything of. Just Democrats voted right now. The question is what does he want. and I have the idea what the answer to that is. Does he want to run for President in two thousand twenty four two thousand twenty eight depending on how the this election plays out the other interesting character and all all this and I think his Rising Stars came Jeffrey. Such Akeem. Someone I've known for a long time so I'm a little biased. Because I have a lot of respect and affection for him but he's he's got a choice right now. He has to decide whether he's going to take the risk and stay in the house. Go through leadership and one day become the first I African American speaker of the House or if he looks at his old colleague Joe Crowley and says you know at any point this can blow up and Hi odds-on favourite to be the next mayor of New York. I if he decided he wanted to do that I think he could win. That Going away so he has some Choices to make but but I think they stood out. I think everybody on the house managers team I did well. But they're the two who have the widest political options and choices to make Adam. Schiff might decide that he'd like to be speaker. I mean Nancy policies. You know it's reasonable that within the next one or two cycle she she'll retire not because she's pushed out just because everybody's time comes eventually and right now. He has enormous power within that caucus. He may decide that. That's not the job. He wants that he would rather run a committee rather than to be the policy. And the enforcer of the caucus so I think those are on the democratic side of the big winners on the Republican side died. There's clearly some people who came out of this process that raise their profile us as an example. If she wins re-election she's on track to be a rising star within the Republican Party. She may not win reelection though. Democrats hurt district are energized. I look look more on the Republican side and find some losers and there is a thread that runs through all of them. And I'll list them in order rudy. Giuliani emme Alan Dershowitz and Ken Starr and all of them are losers because they were in this for the wrong reasons. They weren't in this for the national interest. They weren't born in this to support their president. They weren't in this to take body balls for the president they were in this to just be relevant. And there's there is a pathetic quality to not knowing when it's time to step aside and get off the stage and all three of them have I think terminally an elite damaged their reputations Particularly Guiliani But I would say the same for star Dershowitz because more than anything. They wanted people to pay attention. They wanted people to say you're the smartest person and I'm the one the president talks to and look at me. Look at me. Look at me and they are they I think are the big losers here. It's an open question and it's going to be what we debate for the next seven or eight months on trump in some ways he got something out of this he got to smear biden he got to solidify this whole base argument of. It's US against them. They're coming after you. I'm the only thing that can keep you protected from on them. Just powerful political argument but he's paid an enormous price and the Democrats opened a window onto his corrupt nature and it'll be malpractice of they can't drive a truck through so two more questions for you. Both relented cheers. You're SORTA past Ken Starr I know I know I wanted to set up a lockhart cam on the day when when Ken Starr was speaking why on earth do you think they brought him in. I get why he wanted to. Who Do this? Well I think you just talked about that. But whose interest was it in to bring him in was it. In trump's interest was in simple loan officers was just the ultimate troll troll move. What what do you think was behind that decision to bring him in? Before we had the Internet quit call it something like it was just the ultimate poke in the eye right now. It's troy that's really all it was it was the hero of the right was gonNA come out ride from the sunset for one last. Stand his argument him. It was unintelligible. I started with a sense about Ridge and by the end I had almost a little sympathy for him. Because he was pathetic he was a defeated small man on the giants had once stood and it was a ploy and it was a ploy that backfired on. That's it didn't change fed the result. It's it's not that important but it. It is indicative of politicians now who only care about up themselves and people only care about themselves and where they fit as opposed to the people again the giants in the Senate who used to put The country first. And that's the lesson of this you know and this is where I thought Adams the most memorable thing Adam Schiff said was in his wrap. Wrap up I WANNA say on Thursday night in there. They was the second to last night so it wasn't his final push but the most memorable and things that I the thing we'll stick with me forever was when he talked about. You can't trust Donald Trump. You can know you trust you know you can't and you can't trust trust him to put the country's interests ahead of his own because winning there's a choice he'll always choice and I don't think his message was about Donald Trump. His message was to the one hundred senators the room of are you like that. Are you like Donald Trump who will always put your party's interests ahead of your country who always always put your own personal interests ahead of your country and he challenged them to be better and they failed so one last question for you. Is it even possible to identify a sort of conventional wisdom on impeachment or does it just depend so much on who the person is and what the conduct is because the Mehtar how do you compare Donald Trump doing what. He's was impeached for with Bill. Clinton and what he was impeached for two completely separate but is there any common threat. The the threat may not flow cleanly. But you've you know this is what we do. We try to figure out. What have we learned what what about? How does this compare to the last time? And there's no doubt that on one level the Republicans approaching one thousand nine hundred eight backfired on them. They they lost a midterm election. That had one hundred and fifty years since they someone lost an election. In that way Clinton went to seventy three percent job approval they was the country rallied around him him on the other hand. Bush beat Gore In two thousand was that a hangover from was Gore was was the election you know. Oh stolen was Gord. Not The best candidate who knows and we could talk forever on that. So let's put that aside. I think there's there's no way to compare the two but let me focus on one difference as what I I'll be looking for from the Public Bill Clinton from the from some two days after he was deposed took a very distinct approach to any time he was asked about this. He'd say I did it. I'm sorry sorry I take full responsibility. And you'll remember the day that he was acquitted. He walked out and he he said. I'm sorry I take responsibly. They said something remarkable. I think he said and I'm sorry. I put the country through this and everybody in I think in the country thought yes you did. And I'm pissed and I. I really wish you hadn't but thank you for acknowledging that you've kind of screwed up everybody's lives for the last ear. Trump takes the opposite approach. Trump it's perfect. Everything I did. They're out to get me. It's all about me. Don't worry I I can. I know what's best for you. Just just stick with me. I think that's going to have a very big impact on the the political fallout here. And I think it's going to keep trump from expanding his base to getting the necessary boats to be reelected and therefore his entire campaign won't be about why people should vote for him. He'll be about why they shouldn't vote. For Joe Biden Naming Charlie Smith warned Bernie Sanders whoever Mike Bloomberg whoever whoever that is and it sets up a very ugly campaign Very bitter your campaign and campaign that trump only has one route to win. And I think it's going to be tough because there's no sense of humility. There's no sense of regret. There's no sense of responsibility and I think a lot of people who've been through this and Are Tired of this and tired of the show in the fatigue that goes with the trump drama would look at him differently. If he just wants said. Hey I get it i. This is not the way I wanted it to go and I take responsibility for some of this and that's where I think you can't compare them and I wouldn't expect just because Clinton got a political boost out of being a peach and then acquitted. I don't think you can expect the trump. We'll have the same thing because his reaction is so different. Can you imagine. Can you imagine if he if he showed some contrition. Well I mean I my reaction would be similar to watch and Ken Starr in the floor of the Senate rake the opposite argument that he made Twenty years ago. Yeah let's finish with One last a question. It's a broad question so you can take it any way you want and not being a lawyer. I look at the White House and the presidency. We now kind of this way. This is the argument they've made. They've made the argument very loudly and clearly that the president can't be indicted. They've gone into court and said the president can't be investigated they have then went into the The the House and the Senate and said that the president can't be impeached. Are there any guardrails left legal guardrails there are and I agree that this is closer to the imperial presidency so to speak than we've been in a long time maybe ever but to me their their two primary guardrails the more practical tangible on the courts themselves and I think a lot of these disputes that are winding their way through the courts will. We'll come out against the president and I think the courts will set things straight for example. This argument that the president cannot be investigated criminally. That's now going up to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Supreme Court has taken that case they have to reject that they have to and by the way footnote to all this. Let's see how do we constituted court handles it right there. Some concerned with now cavenaugh gorsuch. But I think that that I can't even be investigated. Argument will be firmly rejected. I think if and when the issue of congressional subpoenas gets it's fully litigated and we're seeing it to some extent with the Magangue case we could have seen others and we may see others. There's other reasons that congressional subpoenas may be issued I think the courts will restore some of the balance back over to Congress now because these again. These assertions of executive privilege is broad defines. Most that is never been litigated. The other big factor I think is is simply ably again. Maybe I'm slipping back into being naive or idealistic but just the idea the concept of norms. Just the idea of norms being respected. I mean Donald Trump is part of the reason people hate him. Part of the reason people love is a norm breaker and he has defied norms ranging from hiring having his daughter and son-in-law work in senior positions in the White House to not turning over his tax returns to little things like going to the White House correspondents dinner and I think whoever takes that job next I hope from from whatever party respect some of those and if not by the way the law can evolve as well we can pass laws. CLARIFYING ANTI NEPOTISM EPA dismal requiring someone to turn over their tax returns. So I think those are sort of the two big takeaways. I do think if you were a graph the power of the presidency and the executive branch. It's said a high point right now but I think the natural gravity built into our system will pull it down. It'll take years or decades but but I think it will come back L.. Thanks so much for joining us. I look forward to cultivating your political cynicism as years. Go go by. I know you'll be back soon. we really appreciate your time. Thank you John is always great to have Leon. Every time I talked to him which lately he's been every morning in the Green Room at CNN. An and I learned something about how the law works and what the Constitution means. It's not very often and I think people who listen every week. We'll get get this that I met. I lost for words but I am somewhat at a loss for words right now and. I don't want to sound outraged aged and alarmist but at the risk of doing that last week was a very very dark moment in the United States Senate and in our democracy the Republicans in the side with the the cheerleading of the president have removed important guardrails. And it's not hard to imagine looking forward for eight ten years and seeing the world's best experiment in democracy and governing move towards a more authoritarian dictatorship where the president is imperial and the president can do no wrong and I think for some people I get that that may sound like a bitter response to getting the results. You didn't want but I think it's very real when a president can and and one of the most so-called distinguish lawyers in the country can go on the floor on of the Senate and essentially said the president can do whatever he wants and when the president gets up and says I have article too. I can do whatever I want. And when you need two-thirds of majority to hold the President Accountable and the Republican Party says the president can do anything he wants the path that the slippery slope away from democracy it becomes very clear. And I think that's where we are and I think people like Doc Zander Mitch. McConnell had perverted the idea of public service. That Lamar was injured. Came into office and he. He was elected governor in Tennessee in nineteen seventy eight and he ran against corrupt governor and he had to be sworn in three days early. Because the corrupt Governor Ray Blanton was selling pardons and the legislator run by a great southern politician. And mcwhorter said. We've got to get with this new governor. And even though he's in the party opposite because the guy in there now is selling pardons and he came in as a corruption fighter and he's leaving as a lamb damn. He's leaving as a member of a political party that is subservient to a corrupt leader. A cult leader. AH IN DONALD TRUMP. And that's dangerous. So there's there's really two things we can do. As concerned citizens this one is decide. Screw IT systems raked. I'M NOT GONNA bother. I'm busy enough. Let the Crooks and criminals around the government government and we'll just hope for the best the second thing in what I would hope people do is throw the crooks out and we're only nine months away from election. It's very simple on election day. Donald trump either get a second term in rewarded for everything he's done or he'll be thrown out in a movement that's of the people on by the people and he will face the consequences of being an ex president who's also also someone who use the power of the office to enrich himself and to corrupt the entire process. We can't do that by saying screw it and going back to war wise. We've got nine months. We know we have to do. Thank you for listening listening. To words matter please. Rate and review words matter on apple podcasts and other podcast providers.