Is Pelosi's slow-play paying off?
Hey everyone I'm David Chalian the CNN political director this is the daily DC impeachment impeachment. Watch for the past several weeks. There's been one burning question dominating this saga. When Will Nancy Pelosi? The speaker of the house transmit the articles of impeachment to the Senate and therefore launched the trial process in the Senate. While this morning Speaker Pelosi finally addressed at that point. Take a listen now in terms of impeachment. You'll keep asking me the same question. I keep giving you the same answer. As I said right from the start art we need to see that the arena in which we are sending our managers is that too much to ask of course addressing that point in an answering that question or two different things. A Pelosi later added that she's not holding onto the articles indefinitely and that she would probably transmit them soon soon. I've got to fantastic guests to help me make sense of all of this political gamesmanship in a few minutes will be talking with CNN. National Security and legal analysts. Susan Hennessy but I I'm joined by my colleague. CNN Politics Congressional reporter. Alex Rogers Alex. Welcome to the PODCAST. Thanks so much for me so it seems to me. After days. Days Days of stasis on this story we did learn in the last twenty four hours several things one as I just said speaker. Pelosi said she's likely to transmit these soon she's not going to hold onto them forever. To President. Trump actually asserted yet again today. He's opened. Witnesses named some witnesses. He's interested in of course. Course which are total non starters For the Democrats in terms of Adam Schiff or Joe Biden or hunter Biden or the whistle blower but is has said and he's going to really leave this to the Senate. We learned that Mitch McConnell the majority leader in the Senate went to the White House and briefed the president on what the contours of this trial is going to look like. So it sounds like the president has more information about Mitch. McConnell's vision of how this trial is going to play out then speaker. Pelosi does which is why she's still hanging onto the articles as we're recording this at least and Finally we've learned that there seems to be a strategic divide going on between the president and and his advisors and or some of his advisers and certainly the Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell in terms of whether or not he wants some very vociferous defenders from the House Republican Conference To join in defending his case in the Senate McConnell of course worried that Too partisan partisan of abroal may upset the apple cart with some of the moderate center. Republicans that they need to keep on board with the plan here so all of those. Those things have emerged in the last twenty four hours and yet Nancy Pelosi is still holding onto the articles of impeachment. What does that mean soon when you expect her to send these to the Senate or she said today today I'll send them over when I'm ready and we're still trying to figure out what leverage she has Senator Majority Leader Mitch? McConnell said yesterday that she has none he has the votes. It's a simple majority devote Democrats are hoping that there are four Republicans to join them. But now we've talked to Susan Collins. Lisa Murkowski Mitt Romney and all of them are on Mitch McConnell. Donald Seidel Miss. So we're wondering here. What Nancy Pelosi is looking for if there's any possible signal that she could get from The Republican leader. She says that she just wants to see the rules. Mitch McConnell says let's just go back to the nineteen ninety nine precedent under Clinton and. Just run with that now she. It seemed to me when she walked into a press conference. Today Should two main message point. She wanted to hit when it came to the issue of impeachment. One was. She's not buying this whole Mitch. McConnell nineteen ninety nine Clinton enroll. She thinks he's not portraying how those were set up namely the Clinton rules were devised in a bipartisan agreement. And I think there was one hundred hundred nothing vote supporting them. In the United States Senate That was hammered out with the blessing of the leaders. Trent Lott and Tom Daschle. Nothing like that is going on with McConnell when Schumer right now is Pelosi's point number one so she doesn't By his argument that this is playing by the Clinton rules. That was one thing she wanted to drive home but number two it seems she wanted to sort of list Her reasons that she thinks she's been victorious in this decision to hold onto the articles articles namely that it has put the issue of documentation and witnesses front and center in a way that if the articles had immediately gone over in December. Maybe they weren't. What do you make of that? I mean her point is that there's a number of witnesses who have not been Who have refused to testify and the Clinton Peterman process? All of those witnesses had already talked before that that evidence was already out there But the thing is that she right now is losing not only those moderate Republicans Republicans at your needs but also Democrats. There's a number of them who've said in the past couple of days that let's just let's just get this started senator. Dianne Feinstein said if we're going to do it she she she should send them over. I don't see what good delay does. She's later walk that back. Other Congressmen have also Adam Smith at today on CNN. Basically said let's transmit these articles goals that's during the Senate trial and then he later said I misspoke wait. I missed how Senator Feinstein walked back to her comments. What did she say? Because it's all those comments my eyes widen so I I missed the walk back. She said today that those comments are now being taken out of context okay. I don't know if that's a real walk back. They're not out of context are they. I don't know vow. The the thing though is what does holding the articles now do for the Democrats. Are they really going to be able to change the rules. Or they can get these witnesses upfront. No Mitch McConnell has the votes. And he's ready to go he's made that crystal clear what What do you make of this concern concern that? McConnell has apparently expressed that Having some very vocal House Republican conference members who were Lord Diehard trump supporters at all costs be part of his defense may upset the apple cart of sort of the Republican unanimity. That you just described that he's been able cobbled together. How is how big of a concern do you sense? Is this for McConnell. So we have some reporting from Sarah Westwood Phil Mattingly came out today. There's there's this struggle between some of president trump's allies who think that a legalistic argument by Patsy. Baloney the White House counsel so is Not going to be good enough. You need to win this. It's it's not only trial but it's somewhat theater have your most for syphilis. Allies Congressman Jim Jordan Congressman Mark Meadows. Some of these people who can articulate the president's argument in different style. Then you also have Senator Mitch McConnell's view. It appears where those those people are going to turn off exactly the Republicans that you need. You Need Susan Collins. Lisa Murkowski the people people in the middle so the president right now is receiving this conflicting advice. And we don't know yet. I don't think the decision has been made on who is going to defend the president and the trial yet. Yeah no we have not heard that decision we know that Pets Bologna and his team. The White House counsel on his team Have put together a plan and that there seems to be one but we don't yet know exactly who will be doing the defending of the president. And I think that the president who we know consume so much Fox News and sort of has this echo chamber constantly feedback loop in in. His mind doesn't always necessarily think the way McConnell does about Are we just doing a full on brawl with the Democrats here or is there work to be done with your own party here and McConnell's clearly trying to make the case Mr President don't lose sight. Yes you're going to be acquitted but you've got to still keep your party on board. I think right now if you just run the nineteen ninety nine Clinton trial rules you will see each side making their argument and then a couple of days of questions from the senators and then you vote whether to dismiss the whole thing right then there or then to also get into the witnesses that Democrats think will bolster their case my final question for you before we go to break you say that Democrats will boast of their case. What about the fact that Donald Trump is still out there saying he wants them? Witnesses I Mitch. McConnell sort of in a no witnesses camp. He doesn't necessarily want to see Joe Biden or Hunter Abidin or the whistle blower called. So there's a difference there too is they're not of course There are some Republicans who want to see honor Biden. They WANNA Have I think Senator Ron Johnson said this week the full gamut of witnesses. But you've also seen Senator Susan Collins who you know really the crucial senator here say a that it would be inappropriate inappropriate for president trump to say to China investigate on our Biden Susan Collins once witnesses But we we don't really think that means also hundred I think we've that means you know people with firsthand evidence other people who testified before the house. Yeah actual impertinent witnesses to this What these articles of impeachment are about and therefore pertinent to this trial? Alex let's take a pause and our conversation for the moment legal analysts Susan. Hennessy will join us right after this break. Hi Everyone I'm poppy. Harlow were out with a new boss files episode episode Fashion Designer Eileen Fisher. She sees her brand as a platform and her employees are encouraging her to stand up on social issues including climate Jane. She's a leading voice on environmental sustainability in the fashion industry. Also her take on profit sharing she owns sixty percent of her company and in her employee owned the rest plus her advice for all of us as parents out there what she wishes she done differently as a mother and how Eileen Fisher Meditation the Guide her work and her life. I'm boss by subscribe today. Welcome back to the daily DC impeachment. Watch David Chalian reporter. Alex Rogers is still with me and and we're pleased to welcome. CNN National Security and legal analyst Susan NFC. Susan welcome to the PODCAST. Thanks for having me. I want you to hear our colleague. Manu Raju ask US Speaker Speaker. Pelosi today Sort of I think he was trying to get at. What was this gambit about holding back the articles here because a lot of of what was said As these articles of impeachment passed through the House of Representatives was. There was an urgency to do this now now because free and fair elections could be at stake here. I want you to hear House Speaker. Pelosi responded to Mono US you call Democrats call him. I'm a clear and present danger to democracy. Shen he'll be house Democrats in the impeachment of the president and so but shouldn't you move more expeditiously given the fact that you have raised serious concern of the president poses to move smartly and strategically that is a classic Pelosi Line. Is it smartly and strategically. It's sort of how I think that's her brand in in many ways. But she ignored the the the actual premise of the question. which was there was a case made? This was urgent why now is not urging to get the trial started. What do you make of that? So what what I make of it is that we should be thinking about impeachment in the House and trial and potential removal in the Senate as two separate separate questions right that really from the outset. I think somebody has clear I. It's Pelosi understood. The president was not going to be removed and so whenever she was talking about the urgency of impeachment. I think she was talking about the urgency of making the statement of having a response because of course the fact that we are in impeachment proceedings themselves act as a constraint on the president itself actually establishes a boundary tree. So I do think there's a way to square the circle by saying look There was a powerful and genuinely urgent argument for needing needing to move to impeachment on the available articles On the available evidence not waiting. And now there's a different argument that there continues to be a sense of urgency But it's urgency to do it right and it's urgency not to get it over with But urgency take to actually produce the substantive information and. What do you think of the case that she made today that the delay in handing over the articles has resulted the in some documentation Some more prominent Either questions for witnesses or specific witnesses themselves coming to the fore here. What do you make of that argument? She was trying to make. I don't think we know yet whether this gambit has paid off certainly in the intervening intervening period of time there has been additional revelations about the existence of emails with OH NBA officials. I'm sort of an allegation that the government has overreacted in an indication that there is more documentary evidence there. I'm and then of course. There is the new decision of John. Bolton saying that he will comply with a with a with a subpoena if it is actually issued you know those are both news substantive important things You know that said With Bolton and I think it's an open question of whether or not she'll actually use withholding the articles to do something like half the house. Subpoena him actually sort of you know really take this this All the way to the Agean and withhold the articles until there are additional information on the countervailing risk. And I think the countervailing risk from the beginning was was that this was going to look like procedural gamesmanship. I'm not just that it was going to turn off the American public but that it was going to turn off. Moderate Republicans moderate Republicans Republicans. Who Don't want to vote against the president procedurally and certainly don't WanNa vote to convict the president and that this might end up providing wiggle room for someone like Susan Collins Collins to say look? I'm deeply uncomfortable with what I've seen that said this is all partisan game playing. I'm not going to be a part of this. And therefore that's why I'm holding with with my caucus and and so I think that's the rest. I think that is still an open question. And and certainly Susan Collins comments over the past couple of days I think shadow why that was a genuine risk and You know at the end of the day the entire ballgame here not not in terms of the outcome but in terms of sort of the the procedural fairness is does Mitch McConnell have fifty one republicans that he can keep in line with him. I'm so I lost multiple anticipated votes. Exact he's not just witnesses documents. What have you time and again? He's going to need those fifty one exactly every single time it contested procedural motion comes up. And so I. I don't know that she can claim victory victory until we know the answer to that question. I'm curious Senate. Democratic leader Chuck Schumer wants four witnesses. He wants acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney who said for National Security Advisor John Bolton and his senior adviser Robert Blair and then also The officer management and budget official Michael Duffy. These four witnesses are crucial to what Democrats want of these witnesses Who Do you think would be the most interesting to hear from him? What do you think would be the advantage Of lend more from these four witnesses. So certainly think Mick Mulvaney probably in terms of substantive information is probably the person who's most significant in part because He plays has the somewhat unusual role of both technically being the head of a and also the president's Acting Chief of Staff Mulvaney is clearly in a position to understand the the president's personal involvement in directing the hold on this military aid and also to what extent that was explicitly league linked linked to investigations. So the Biden's right so we have sort of two lines so That are occurring right now and I think the big question is to what extent can democrats. It's actually establish the connection That said you know. I initially started out thinking that John Bolton really wasn't especially significant here that yeah he might be able to sort of confirmed in testimony. We we'd heard from Theo and a hill He might be you know not favorable witness to the president but really he'd already kind of bent on the outs You know with the president at this point he didn't appear here to be a central player. Actually changed my mind on that in part because of New York Times reporting That there was at least one in potentially multiple Oval Office meetings with the President John Bolton Secretary of State Mike Pompeo Secretary of Defense asper in which trump's own cabinet officials essentially sort of prevailed veiled on him to release this military aid. That is an incredibly significant exchange. Not just what. Their conversations with the president looks like but what their conversation nations in advance. Looks like what concerns did they express to one another concerns that might not be covered by executive privilege that to me seems incredibly ably significant. And so I I do think that the question of whether or not Bolton will testify as really important and I think the question of if Bolton does not testify is he nevertheless is going to tell this story publicly. I'm really is going to be critical and hoste weighing on Mitch. McConnell's mind as well in the one thousand nine hundred nine Clinton beat control which would keep on coming back to to The Senate got here from three witnesses including Monica Lewinsky you know. TV sets up on the Senate floor. Robert burbs not a fan of it but he he kind of relented and agreed Be Interesting to see if because this videotape it yet position not live during the trial right on the Senate floor He also at the time disagreed having house. Democrats come over and and be part of the defense team as well which is now part of where we were? Just talking about you know should Hausch I am Hausch. Republicans join The defense team this time around But I'm just so interested to see if we will have any new. Ns any new facts that will emerged during this trial and You know this time you know if John Bolton or or anybody else even get to that point but it seems like right now. That's that's GonNa be if an if at all weeks away and you you mentioned Mulvaney bulletin but it seemed to me. Duffy was the with the potential witness that over the holiday break. Emerged what you were saying earlier with this new direct evidence about a directive for Oh mb yes certainly deputies in a position position to have an important substantive information that said Mulvaney and Bolton are two people that I think are identifiable as being on the president's is team and one thing we saw over and over again as career civil servants who were serving in trump's new administration producing really devastating and in sort of damning damning testimony embassador Taylor and others really sort of being dismissed as part of the deep state bureaucracy. And they're just out to get the president and so the testimony hustle money that I think is is most powerful in in terms of the actual ability to change minds and and I'm not GonNa Take Pollyanna view here that you know everybody's this as a principal question. They're really our minds to be changed. But but sort of shade perceptions about what's going on here I do think that if we see identifiable available Republicans people like Mulvaney. People like John Bolton telling a story that appears to be factually devastating to the president that that is something that is going to be really significant in a way that you know trying to take the public down into the weeds of Federal Appropriations Law and impound. Impound control. I I find that fascinating nobody else does. And and ultimately you know this. I don't know that we should think of it as theatrics but but it is about messaging something to the public. It is for that reason. The potential for how compelling some of these witnesses could be that. I'm rather Skeptical that Mitch. McConnell will really ever allow Witnesses as a part of this try. Just think he's going to well. We'll just see what kind of public pressure mounts on some of those potentially moderate or vulnerable Republicans but It is exactly for what you're saying Susan that I think Mitch. McConnell is ready to throw his body in front of witnesses time and again again. One thing that I think is an interesting question is to what extent does Mitch McConnell believe John Bolton is going to tell this story one way or another and so to the extent I agree with you You know he is GonNa throw his body in front of this train but if it's only to to sort of get a temporary gain for this story to eventually come out You know this is a master tactician at work and he's always thinking fifteen steps ahead and how that's factoring into into the calculus I into into McConnell's calculus right now. I I think that's one of the biggest and most interesting unknowns couldn't agree more Alex Susan thank you so much for joining me here on the daily. DC Impeachment Watch. We'd like to thank our listeners. 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