A Fitting End To A Divisive Year In Politics
And why it's Diane on my mind. The House impeached is sitting president for only the third time since our country was founded despite the historic nature among the partisan. Listen vote had been predicted for weeks but the consequences he may have for. The president seemed very uncertain as this does the question of win. Democrats will send the articles of impeachment to this end. So what are the possible possible outcomes. And what could it mean for the president's future what better personnel. Ask Than Susan Page if you was hey today she's suffered six White House administrations. She joins me on our last podcast at the decade to look look back on quite a tumultuous year in Washington Susan Paved here we are the third president in US history to been impeached. What an extraordinary few months? This country country has been through. It's been remarkable. You know it's just been eighty five days between the announcement by Speaker. Nancy Pelosi of of the formal impeachment inquiry in the house. Vote impeaching him to articles of impeachment. As you said just the third president in American history to have this taint paint It is a historic moment and it came really quickly in a way in a way not so quickly. Because we've had investigations of the president trump from the start but the accelerated pace of Ukraine investigation has been one for the history books and the claim aim now is that it was not only rushed but it was there right from day one of his presidency I into that is Republicans her saying it is true that there were some Democrats who wanted to impeach president trump from the day he he was inaugurated however Speaker Pelosi was not one of them. She was very reluctant on impeachment. She held back her most liberal members. I who wanted to impeach the president at the point. That Robert Mueller. The special counsel presented his Report on Russian interference in the two thousand sixteen election. It was only only with the when it was revealed that the president had encouraged the president of Ukraine to dig up dirt on one of his political rivals that Speaker Pelosi and and more moderate Democrats got on board. So that had it not been for that telephone conversation and the whistle blowers comments. You don't think this would have happened on July twenty fourth. When Robert Muller finished testifying I I think all of us assumed that there was not going to be? The impeachment of the president. Hadn't Miller had not galvanized public opinion. In a way that Pelosi said was necessary a to justify impeachment and then on July twenty fifth on the next day. The president had this conversation with the president of Ukraine If he had not done that. I don't think we'd be here today. I don't think that the president would have been impeached. There's been a lot of speculation about the timing that phone call coming the day after Muller's for report what do you make a then instinctively. I think that it may indicate that the president felt emboldened. And by the end of the Mueller investigation felt empowered to do whatever he wanted felt free to look ahead to the next election Joe Biden was was his and is front runner for the Democratic presidential nomination his most likely opponent and that was the subject of that phone call to to encourage an investigation of Joe Biden and his son Hunter and actions and Joe Biden's actions when Joe Biden was Vice President President So I think that the timing is probably not accidental. There's also some confusion in the minds. I think of many people as to what Joe Biden was doing as vice president about bound the investigation into Ukraine's top lawyer because there a was feeling supported by countries around the world. This guy was a bad actor Joe Biden and while he was vice. President was the Obama. Administration's point person on Ukraine He went to Ukraine and pressured Ukrainian government to address corruption and to get rid of the top investigator gator who was seen as himself corrupt in doing that. He was backed by the Obama Administration and by much of the rest of the Western world by other European leaders. There was a consensus instances that Ukraine had to do something about corruption To become part of the kind of community of Western nations what Joe Biden also did though as vice president was fail to prevent his son from taking a high price contract with a Ukrainian gas company. And it's it's not that either Joe Biden Hundred Biden arc used of wrongdoing in connection with that contract but that is creates definitely a perception problem. Appearances you're into everything. I mean when Republicans ask why did the Ukrainian gas company wants to hire Hunter Biden. It is undeniable that they wanted to do so to get influence with his father. So while there's not an accusation of wrongdoing there is definitely a perception problem a failure to prevent the situation situation. Now that has caused the Biden so much grief is there. Any indication at Hunter Biden approached. His father I while he was vice president and said as I would hope my kid would dad. Do you see anything wrong with this. Do you see Any problems with this so we know that both Joe Biden Hunter Biden say there was never that conversation and of course Hunter Biden's adult. You could argue. He's he's free to make his own decisions. However when you're vice president of the United States there are? I think expectations that you will avoid wrongdoing. Doing in the perception of wrongdoing you'll avoid corruption and the perception of corruption and so the question is should that have proceeded in a different way One Hundred Biden was Hired and I think that even the Biden's if they were speaking honestly I would say yes tell me about Republicans now on this. Sem Peach Mint effort and the vote. Were you at all surprised. At how in lockstep they were during the process I think to surprise me about the Republicans one is that they are totally united. Not a single Republican in. The House voted in favor favor of the articles of impeachment. Not a single Republican. The House voted in favor of the impeachment inquiry even though some of the Republicans in the House a few all of them had expressed concerns about the president's behavior when it came to Ukraine But not even will hurt the Republican from Texas who has at times split with the president on substantive issues at times criticized the president and his retiring from Congress is not running against even he Voted against the articles of impeachment. That was one surprised the price the second surprise about Republicans was what they said during the debate because not a single Republican said. The president is a good man. Who never would have done something wrong Tom? no-one said it's totally okay to do what he did. In the call with Ukraine. What they did was attack the process? They said the process was unfair. They said the president hadn't gotten due due process. They said that the the hearings had been rushed and the whole process had been rushed. They accused Democrats of various things wrongdoing. They raised the issue of Joe Biden and but they did not defend the president's character. Now One how do you who think Susan Collins her vote as the senator from Maine who has apparently been thought by a lot of people who might in fact defect so Susan in Collins is one of those senators that will be watching closely as a Senate debate begins as a Senate. Trial Begins Because she is more moderate Senate Republican Republicans She has at times A few times been willing to buck her party. Although less often than some would think On issues like health care And she is also one of the senators. Republican senators up for reelection next year. Who are come from states were voting to acquit? The president might create political problems. Cory Gardner in Colorado is another one. There are few Republican senators to be watching to see see if they decide to break with the president because they believe it's the right thing to do and also because it may help them politically another. Senator were watching. Has Mitt Romney of Utah Mitt. Romney comes from has incredible standing a former a former governor Massachusetts a former Republican presidential initial nominee from state republican state but a state that has less president trump is less popular than some other red states. Would he be willing to to break with the president. We don't we don't know they're stronger. Prospects of candidates of of office holders on legislators on both sides Republicans and Democrats of of crossing party lines. Then the were in the house and what about Democrats. Nancy Pelosi had some trouble apple keeping all those Democrats together did she. Not You know she Initially there was some dissent in the caucus in the Democratic Caucus Caucus. Because there were there were some moderate members from districts that president trump carried who didn't want impeach the president for a long time. There were members. I wanted to impeach him on a lot of different other issues as well for a long time. But at the end of the day the Democratic Caucus was remarkably unified. You had just to Democrats Kratz vote against the first article of impeachment. Just three Democrats vote against the second article of impeachment when you think that there are thirty one. Democrats who represent districts that trump carried carried that is a lower rate of erosion. And I think most of us expected she also made the point that they didn't whip the vote which means they didn't Deploy the resources of the leadership to tell members how to vote now. It was pretty clear to democratic members of Congress. The Way Nancy Pelosi was hoping they would vote vote but they didn't make it a matter of party loyalty and even so she held almost all of our troops. Now that the vote has been taken to impeach impeach the President Nancy Pelosi has decided to hold the impeachment and not send it forward into the Senate yet. Tell me the thinking behind that and where this idea to hold came from you know I was is covering the impeachment vote for USA Today on on Wednesday. And I was surprised when Nancy Pelosi in the press conferences. She had just after the vote said she wasn't ready to move forward now. We had a clue of that because she hadn't submitted the names of the House. Managers the house members who are going to argue the case present the case At the Senate trial But the idea that she was going to deliberately hold it as a pressure point on Senate Majority Leader Mitch. McConnell two two n setting the rules to go forward she says you know I. I don't know what the rules are GONNA be like. Sorry I can't name the managers if you can't even the managers you can't actually send the impeachment articles to the Senate This is an idea that laurence tribe had talked about in an OP. Ed that had gotten a lot of attention some liberal members of your caucus. It said. They should do this as a pressure. Point some of them suggested they should hold Jim. Clyburn suggested maybe you'd hold them and never send them forward. Maybe he told them if for in perpetuity But we didn't realize it. Nancy Pelosi thought that was a good idea and Yesterday Thursday was at a regular weekly news conference where she talked about this again. She he hasn't drawn a firm line in the sand. She hasn't said I won't send these until this and this and this happened but she. She reiterated that she's going to hold onto to them in. The hopes of encouraging are forcing the Senate majority leader to set clear rules for how the Senate trial will proceed seed of course having Mitch McConnell say at the outset. I'm taking my lead from the White House from The president himself. I mean I as a citizen found that Shanqing should I have been shocked. Don't it was. It was surprising when Mitch McConnell said that he did not see himself as an impartial juror. He saw himself as someone. Who is there to make sure that president trump is acquitted and that is a surprise because we think about this impeachment process? You know none of us. Are that familiar with the impeachment process because this will the third time we'll have had a senate trial but I think the the constitution envisions the Senate as an impartial jury who considers the case presented by the House and for the Senate majority leader who control so much of what will happen in this trial to say say he was not an impartial juror for him to meet repeatedly with officials from the White House to try to figure out what to do going forward. I think did chuck a lot of people. So what does this mean going forward. Do we have any idea whether Nancy Pelosi might actually literally hold onto it and not send it forward if she did that. What would that indicate? What would that mean? Well people the White House officials at the White House are now suggesting that would mean that. The president was never impeached because they they're arguing that the impeachment is act of sending it to the Senate. I think that it is unlikely that Nancy Pelosi will choose to do that. I actually think it is unlikely that Speaker Pelosi is going to delay a long time. You know that we're talking about it. Being a delay delay now but the fact is this is a meaningless delay at the moment because the House and Senate have gotten home for the holidays they come back on January six. Nothing would have happened until January six even even if she had gone ahead and immediately sent the articles of impeachment to the Senate I'm inclined to think that she'll that will look pretty tricky. If she doesn't forward the articles of impeachment she's been trying she's trying to be careful to make this look like not as a political act but as a constitutional one and I think that there will be the risk that she could open herself to a lot of criticism of kind of Of acting in a political way. Do you see Mitch. Rich McConnell giving into any demand whatsoever. So here's the thing Nancy Pelosi Mitch. McConnell are both great poker players. I don't mean actually playing poker I just mean that. They are skilled in this exercise in which they are now engaged in. I don't know how it comes out. But they both have some cards to play and they both have some vulnerabilities as well on this and so I'm inclined inclined to think that they'll reach some kind of accommodation that prompts. Nancy Pelosi to send the articles of impeachment over. But what that comprises. I have no idea and a quick break when we come back more. You're from Susan page. So now we're back. Here's the register. My conversation with Susan page. She's The Washington mirrored he for USA Today and author of the Matriarch Barbara Bush and making a an American dynasty. Stay so just to help us understand what actually happens. Once it gets to this Senate you had the chief justice. It is of this premium court sitting in judgment. Is that the case. Does he say anything. So the constitution solution does provide the chief justice presides over the trial right but it does not give the chief justice. The power to set the rules fifty-one senators get to set the rules rules. Then why is he there at all. Well the constitution calls for him to be there I think it reflects the Gravitas of impeachment. It includes it's the third branch of government in an impeachment process. He also even if he doesn't have the power to set rules. He will have a the authority to speak nick. So if there's something going on that he thinks is wrong he he could speak out about it. I mean he's got soft power in that way but even though he's presiding residing in a way he is not actually in charge. And what about the issue of witnesses he even if Mitch McConnell says we're not calling any witnesses. In behalf of president trump can the Democrats. Let's call witnesses. The Democrats can call witnesses if they can get fifty one votes for calling the witnesses Now that's not impossible you'd need a couple Apple Republicans to come over to just a couple just a couple On the other hand Party disciplines. Been Pretty fierce on this issue but it is possible it is possible for them to call witnesses. It's possible that that won't be allowed. You know th this has been an issue that divided the White House and the Senate majority leader. President trump has said at Lee said publicly that he would like a lot of witnesses. He suggested that maybe they should call. Hunter Biden Joe Biden as witnesses as well Mitch. McConnell has really squashed that idea because he thinks that carries a lot of risks and it might look kind of circus-like and he has I think convinced the white else at least for now that they wanna have no witnesses but this is one more of those things I think you've got to let the process and full before we know for sure whether they're going to be any witnesses genesis or not so. Do you think there is going to be negotiation over this Christmas holiday break. Yes I think there'll be a behind the scenes and effort to reach a deal to break the impasse so that the articles of impeachment go forward I think that that is probably I think probably Democrats and the White House both think that's a good idea Mitch McConnell says. It's fine with him if they never sent him over. I'm not sure that's actually what he thinks. It's so interesting. How this could play out if Mitch McConnell says there will be no witnesses? This is this could be over in one day. Probably not probably not in a day because you have the house gets to present its case ace but it could be over in a week or in two weeks. It could be over by February first. That has been the thinking on until until the until this Till this issue of sending over the articles of impeachment or assumption was that the Senate trial would begin the the second or third week of January and take a week or two. Maybe that slides if they don't if they have some trouble working this out but I think there is every expectation it'll be over early in the year here. Are there any surprises. That could up end this whole process. Yes us the surprises would be. I think the biggest chance of a surprise would-be the disclosure of information that we don't have yet say for instance John Bolton Alton the president's former national security advisers spoke on morning edition more refuse to talk about impeachment. Right say. He decided to speak out about things he saw are the perspective he had on what the president did. That would be something that could be very dramatic in of of course senators often display less party discipline than house members and getting to fifty one votes in the Senate doesn't take that many Republicans to flip to get to that so if you had some really dramatic disclosure that raised questions about the president's fitness for office. It is conceivable that that would have a big effect. And of course I would imagine. That's what Democrats are hoping for in that kind of a public trial. That's one reason and Chuck Schumer. The Democratic Senate leader called for John Bolton to come and testify before them. It's also one reason. Republicans would like to have this over quickly of course and the president would like to have this over quickly as well so that he can claim He his intention. I think is to argue that even though he was impeached impeached by the house he was acquitted by the Senate and therefore his record has been cleared. Susan I have heard some commentators. Commentators expressed view that by this summer. Nobody is going to be talking about impeachment during during the presidential campaign. That it's all GonNa be over done with an outta their minds. What's your view? One of the big surprises prizes has been held set. Public opinion is about impeachment in about the president. You know we've had these dramatic hearings in the House before the Intelligence Committee and then before the Judiciary Committee and it didn't move the needle in any significant way in people's attitudes about impeachment or about President Trump and we did a poll last last week a USA Today Suffolk which we said here are twelve big issues. What's going to be most important in affecting your vote for President in two thousand twenty impeachment was one of those issues it came in at number eleven? The only thing cited less often by Americans as an issue that would affect their vote was transportation and well. I want to remind you which I don't think I really need to do how wrong the polls were her in the last election. I think we should be humble about predicting what is going to happen. In a presidential election and what forces are going to affect people's views before that election I completely agree with you on that. Tell me about the Democrats San where they currently stand in this presidential race. There was a debate. There were just seven Democrats Kratz on the stage. Joe Biden did the best that he has done he was calm. He was straightforward he. He didn't stumble. Does He. Remain the front runner. Joe Biden is the front runner. And he's been a pretty durable for you know he's not in some ways we're in that great a campaign. There have been debates where he didn't he looked kind of flummoxed but he his support has stuck with him and he did look good. He'd spoke well in the debate in in Los Angeles and the fire was mostly directed at P.. Buddha judge that debate because he is now seen as a rising alternative to Joe Biden so he got some criticism. I'm from Amy Klobuchar and also from Elizabeth Warren. I think you'd have to say Biden is not only the front runner. He is a more Significant Front runner. He's more durable for under than we thought. Thought he would be. And that doesn't mean he's going to win the nomination but it means if you're placing bets now you're I bet would be on him mayor Bloomberg. What do you think his chances? Chances are I think it's tough for a Septuagenarian from New York To to burst through and win the Democratic nomination I think he's not a great fit with where the energy is in the Democratic Party. The one thing there to things that give him the possibility so one is. He's got a Tahoe and he's willing to spend the the the other is that Democrats care most of all not about ideology but about defeating president trump next year so if Bloomberg if the former New York mayor is seen as the candidate who is kind of uniquely able to defeat President Trump. Then he's got a great chance at the at the nomination but that is also the argument. That Joe Biden is making and Joe Biden is in many ways A better fit. I think with where the party is now with where the party is is which are the two. Do you think might be able to stand up in a debate with Donald Trump and come out on top. You know they'd be different Bloomberg is a more combative Figure I think Joe Biden is somebody who can get projects kind of software as a rule projects the softer image That's his he's more senatorial. You know how senators as a reasonably cordial in Senate debates. Maybe less so today were a decade ago But so they haven't they have a different style but they're making they're making of courses sources similar point which is at their argument is that president trump has violated democratic norms. Let our country in the wrong direction and that we need to get back back to some Old Ways and old courtesies of doing things and president trump will make the argument that he's been a disruptive influence influence in ways that needed disruption. However it's not so much what I would say but how? President trump trump would conduct himself on that stage I'll never forget watching him. Sort of Stalk Hillary Hillary Clinton you know that Democrats are looking at president. Trump's debate history with Hillary Clinton and also with the Republicans in two thousand sixteen to try to figure out how what is the best approach to us with him is the best approach to like. Try to stay above it. Which I think is what Hillary Clinton tries to do are are you better off punching back hard. I gather you would punch card. I would punch back hard indeed because I also oh thank. He has problems with Wim As an example his comment abound down Debbie Dingle and her husband which I found absolutely outrageous. Talk about what he he said. He was speaking at a rally in Battle Creek Michigan. The stage John Dingell John Dingell state. That's right and he said that he hadn't gotten appropriate credit for actions. He took when John Dingell di John Dingell the longest serving member of Congress in the history of our country and he he made derogatory comment about Debbie Dingle looks and then he suggested that he said that in a conversation he had with. Debbie dingle were Debbie Dingle thanked him for allowing flagstaff staff. When John Dingle died said that John Her husband would have been so pleased looking looking down meaning looking down from heaven and he said at this rally that maybe John Dinger would be looking up meaning looking up from? Hell and Debbie Dingle responded. She said that it was very hurtful. She said she's approaching the first Christmas without her husband The love of her life and she said something should be off limits and on that I think she has gotten broad support including including from at least one Republican House member from Michigan and I heard the number four ranking Democrat in the the house Been Released Hawn doing an interview with MSNBC where he said that he thought the reaction of Michiganders I would be such that. Donald Trump had made it more likely he would lose Michigan next year. She won which he wanted which is one of are those handful of Midwestern states the determined the outcome of the two thousand sixteen election looking back sues new and I have been friends friends and colleagues for so many years. Could you have imagined the two thousand nineteen would Heb. EBB ended up this way. You know I think about When I went to journalism school the things I never thought I would cover the nine eleven attacks A tide presidential election in two thousand and impeachment of Bill Clinton and now covering a second presidential impeachment impeachment at a time our country seems to be ripped apart. It is not something I ever thought I would cover. We've seen you know we've seen times when our country has had strife Strife and tension and demonstrations in assassinations. I I just feel like this has gotten to be the worst It is I. I think a perilous And I worry I worry about the future of our country. What is it that words you most? I worry that we've lost an ability to both talk to each other and listen to one another when I go to cover events I I'm struck doc. By how Americans love their country How devoted Americans are to the constitution? But they have very different visions about what it means to say. You love America and it's like it's something we need to be able to talk about to have our democracy survive and dawn that note. I want to wish you happy holidays. You need a holiday after all this and I wish all the the best for you and our country in the new year and I and I would say in response that the ability to talk to and listen listen to people with other points of view has been a hallmark of your entire career so happy holidays thank you for today. We'll have a couple of special holiday. We broadcast for you over the next couple of weeks. So look for those in your podcast feed. You can also find us on facebook and twitter or send an email l. d. our podcast at W. Amu dot org. Our theme music is composed by Jim Brandenburg and then landsverk Furka Wunderle are engineered. This week is Josephine Neo now. The show is produced by Rebecca Kaufman and Alison Brodie. Thanks for listening all Merry Christmas happy holidays and happy New Year to all. I'm Diane Marine.