How Dem debates, upcoming Mueller testimony could affect 2020 campaigns

On "The Investigation," Matt Dowd, the chief strategist for President Bush's 2004 campaign, offers his take on what impact Robert Mueller's upcoming testimony could have on the 2020 election.
17:39 | 07/02/19

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Transcript for How Dem debates, upcoming Mueller testimony could affect 2020 campaigns
I. Yeah. Welcome to the investigation I'm Chris Lester senior executive producer and your podcast coast. I'm joined here now by my long time friend and ABC news colleague Matt Dowd also a former but where you political operative. Would say yes I was chief strategist to bush and Schwarzenegger and a number of other candidates before that. Having worked on both sides the however it in this presidency. You are an outspoken saying critic of the president is out of their describe it to truth teller. OK well that's that I tried to some trees teller I mean I've as you know I met with him are early are a year into the presidency so. I tried to be respectful to him but I've also tried to be you know say what I think is going stronger what's what's what's happening well on this podcast that we spend a lot of time dissecting the Muller investigation and all the congressional investigations. There's so many of them industrial you trumpets hurt keep track. But now I wanted to get your opinion I thought you'd be good gaskins now with the announcement that Robert Mueller is gonna testify. On Capitol Hill in the mid summer spectacle what do you think's gonna happen without what's the effect of. Well I think any time any time you. Have public testimony on something it's like the difference between how much affect a book has vs the movie about the book. Com or the play about the book and so I think it will have. That sort of appeal it'll get people focused that may not have been actually focus fully on what was in the -- report other than what was described as what was in an. And so I think it will get the attention of the American public. I don't actually know fundamentally what substantively will come on of it because smaller from all everything I can tell Larry people I've talked to that know him well. I don't know how much he's come and go off. All the things he's already said. Right NN is that are would risk. For the Democrats I mean I think obviously this is going to be there's going to be buildup does not Kabila news can be July and intrinsic Robert Mueller Robert Mueller Robert Mueller. And then we're gonna hear the testimony and maybe it won't. Beer from the report I think it's depends on. How they questioned him I mean if I were involved in it I would say I was one ask if you questions did you say there was no collusion. And I think the answer to that is no I never said there was no collusion and go often and say I said to respect couldn't find evidence of criminal conspiracy. Did you say there is no section justice sir sort of take what Donald Trump has described it can make Robert Mueller say that was not what I said. Well I think that's a perfect time to listen obviously George Stephanopoulos. Had a big interview with Donald Trump so let's play that sound from Georgia's in real it's like. The we checked that goes on. No collusion was pressured there was no collusion. And what bothers me is you know you're not patent that's that was Robert Morris since no collusion you know what nobody even brings Russia pretty much what bothers me. Is when you did nothing wrong. And they have a phony witchhunt that other. SP. What do you think of that and we what is he just deluded or is he just. Putting a line in the sand and saying. You better believe me that's what. Oh well as EE you know Chris you've watched this president for a long time probably longer than most I'm I think the president comes up with some framing on something. Whether it's from. The birthing thing that about Obama weather it's fear of New York 5 a central part five. And he's very he's very hard to shake from his when every brands wants to be something to be branded as. I think he knows it doesn't say specifically no collusion. But I think in importance to him is the branding of what ever it is he's talking amount and he never wants to have. Go off of that brand because evenings once he goes up their brand he's in some problematic situation. So I think that's wariness I think he is not gonna let go of this and it Bob Mueller testifies and says no I never said no collusion no I never said no obstruction. Of course you we probably can predict what the president will do which is attacked Bob Mueller and say but this is a waste of time in I don't know why we're doing this and there's nothing with the Russia baba block but he won't leave is his branding. Yes she but I actually think Bob Mahler though is who's going to be more literal he does not want to test fights made it perfectly clear he doesn't want the toast of art. So I think we're gonna hear me be about 400 times. It's very clear in my report appetizer very clear my rook I agree with that. And and that's where I worry people are going to be like underwhelmed by this summer worry that wrote the Democrats are putting way too much stock in. Robert mowers perform well I. It's not surprising on the democratic side that they put a lot of stock in things that don't come to fruition. It in all of this process I actually don't think the Democrats of Foley. And I'm surprised it's taken them this long to fully acquainted themselves with the world they're operating in can adjust their strategy I think they still act like. This is a strategy that we knew ploy in a normal world. And like its twenty years ago or ten years ago and I don't think they've adopted to the reality in the world that worry Indian politics in America today. I was very critical the fact of bringing John Dean again. I I found that absolutely ridiculous why you bringing guy from forty years ago about how the country doesn't even know who he is. To make your point about impeachment it seemed. Well it's kinda especially everything thus far as as far as I can Nellis and non evidentiary has been no I gathering facts Obama present circumstances. I think the Democrats have felt themselves laughed with they can't get all the witnesses they want because either their they're being. Stopped from doing that because of executive privilege or some other reason. So they've tram to grasping at straws and I think this is a fundamental strategy I think the Democrats have to make the decision are we going to impeach the president. Are are we just gonna called the series of hearings and let this thing unfolded and I think they have to make that decision and what do you think they are gonna do. I don't think I don't know the I think the speaker speaker Pelosi has sinned and firm niche that's not where she wants to head right now there's a number of Democrats want to have there. I think they're misreading actually. On the politics I think they're they're taking their their stand on this the speaker's stand in this based on what they read it was the politics from. The impeachment hearing Senator Clinton. Which I think they've misread. I also think there's an argument he made guide. People that you couldn't there's a difference between what's the political thing to do what's the principled thing to do. I don't know where they're gonna follow on this one we. One we unfold I think they have to make a decision. By this summer and if they haven't moved in my view if they haven't moved impeachment to him some. Some place of impeachment by the fall there's I don't think they can. Once have presidential campaign starts really in earnest. And do you think actually your person that obviously knows polling and looked at numbers and you know I we've said repeatedly even on this podcast. That the impeachment of President Clinton helped. The drug there's an impression. That it backfired on the Republican senate help Bill Clinton. We had congressman swallow on he said the exact opposite. He actually thought it helped the Republicans and I've been thinking about that I'm curious about your opinion. I I think there's a mix of information I don't think you can say either one of those I don't think it necessarily hurt their hurt the Republicans in that. They ended up winning the presidency. In 2000 which I was involved with with George W. Bush. Based primarily on the idea that they wanted to bush wanted to restore honor and dignity of the White House right and joy and an Al Gore was attached to some of those negatives causes he was the vice President Clinton. And I think what the Republicans lost with the with the when they lost them how somehow somehow streets is very few it was the normal. Normal. What happens normally with him in mid term elections. I think Bill Clinton's job approval rating was where was because where the economy which was was booming at the time of the end of his presidency. But I also don't think it helped the Republicans I don't think he gave them a bunch of messages that they could use in a way that was very effective so. I think it's mixed but for anybody say it hurt the Democrats or anybody say here are two Republicans I think they have evidence is very mixed group. We'll take a quick break and be right back stay with us. Welcome back to the investigation on post's Chris cluster and I'm joined in studio by Matt -- ABC news political analyst or recording this podcasting between the two democratic debates that occurred last week. They barely mentioned Robert Mueller. It is that deliberate. Com will they barely mentioned our Melanie -- barely mention Donald Trump which I thought was was weird actually. I think that somebody should of brought up like you know listeners who is was evidence in the Muller reports summation of brought up a series of things this president. They could've taken Mahler use what Mueller said in the report. And basically launch an attack on the president. I was actually Morse it is pricey talk more about Mitch McConnell elected. About Mueller and they did about the president of the United States it's weird because the defining the one of abzug defining. Common element. Of them Democrats right now is their desire to remove the president United States that's what they that's fundamentally what they wanna do who's the most electable who can take him on who could do that. And they sort of left the president in in the that we did with few exceptions. Unscathed and they didn't use Muller at all as a baseball bat and one of the things I don't think they calculated and I think this is if I were advising them. I would say you want to do something. That's gonna cause the president. To go after you because if the president goes after you it helps you in the democratic primary. I would have come up and using Muller would have been a perfect because it would as you know it would cost its bid to get. Very upset probably would've sent out five different tweets on it that person would have been. The subject of his attack and they would have benefited from that not listen to do win Georgia asked Donald Trump about the Democrats. And the Muller reports look. The Republicans in the senate every single one of them that I see no this is a witch hunt they get at a 100%. And that's what matters the Democrats are gonna do it only because they might think it helps them I think it actually hurts him in the election. But. This never been a time in the history of our country. Where somebody was so mistreated. As I have been and they should never ever be allowed to happen to another president again. A previous administration used the intelligence data and the intelligence agencies. To spy on my campaign. Do you believe the President Obama sparred I don't know but hopefully we're gonna find them. Which raises another point is someone who's Kirk been on a lot of campaigns over the years Matt do you think president trumps presidency and his campaign has. You know we've become inured to scandal that it that it won't have any effect of people don't care anymore. I think I think what's happened is we've become numb to the extent in the number of things that a team seemed controversy on chaotic. Or in some people's minds corrupt in all of these thinks every time something new comes up people are like biologist another thing it's another thing just another thing so I don't think. I don't think absent some surprising revelation of something that has its definitive in some way that. Is 40% of the country's lock solid with him we just locks out now that's not nothing's probably gonna change their minds. And 45. To 40% is locked solid against him lacks elegance in the so all of these things are done. Air seen through that and I think of people that are sort of in the middle trying to figure out I've had basically begun to sort of tune out. To not some of his tweets. Tune out some of the sort of outrage I think there's way too much outrage over every time something happens. By the Democrats there's just that you can't be out outraged by every single thing though there's obviously some upsetting things. And so I think that's it's numbed a lot of people it's numbed a lot of people I think they'll tune back into this conversation but I think they're only gonna tune back into this conversation. When the presidential race. Becomes really intense. And we'd there seems to be one candidate vs Donald Trump then I think they'll tune back into all of these. I'm asking a slightly different question about the Democrats. Because he even when we did a story recently about Joseph Biden's son hunter in his financial dealings. It raised questions about the appearance of conflict of interest. His people denied he did anything wrong and you know it falls kind of quietly out there in the ether that no one seems to care I remember time if we have done that story it would be leaving every newspaper. In the country and people would be talking about it over and over again they're doesn't seem to be that want to know. Well I think that you're hitting on one of the things that I think is the most concerning in our country today which is is because there's so much of this is a big portion of the American public. Accepting the idea that integrity. Doesn't matter. And I think in the long term and that's not true but in the short term it's very worrisome because if we're at a point. That every day think everybody lies they think everybody's corrupt they think all of that then it becomes an ends justify the means for everything so it's like I'm mark are as bad year guys is bad. What can we get out of this. That's really really really problematic in our democracy right I. I even worry I mean if you look at Virginia and you look at the governor of Virginia and you look at the lieutenant governor of Virginia both Democrats. I think the strategy of saying wait it out. Seems to work they're both still in power now well yeah. I think that's true but I think this was in evidence before Donald Trump. I mean there was part of them for the forgiveness of Bill Clinton by. Keep that sir he certain things he did and all the things whether it's personally or whatever inning except Indian and have misstatement city -- of allies that he told. Proof given a pass. And I think we've reached a stage where the tribes are willing to give whomever is in their tribe a pass on whatever is there do and then whatever the other tribe does. Their room wanting to jump all over and I and I think democracies don't work. When people are so tribal that they take every bit of information through a bias frame this if they don't work democracies do not work and that in when we're in that place. He a new Yorker predict elections but who would mean Joseph Biden is obviously the front runner here and M and got a strong front runner but a front runner. And and but do you think the big. Cool works for him or against him it works for him because I think Joseph Joseph Biden's got a 100% name ID and he's polling at 30% of the vote. Now it's good to be ahead but when you get a 100% name and in you're getting 30% of the vote that's concerning that should be concerning to their campaign. That works winning a caucus or winning a primary with thirty or 32% works when there's 345 candidates. It gets very Dicey when it's a one on one race especially if it's somebody that's popular among did sort of democratic laughed very popular among the democratic left. I think Biden. Would hope that this multi candidate field maybe not twenty candidates. But 567 or eight stays in place at least through march I think he wants that to be so he can win these caucuses and end primaries. Without getting 50% of the vote because I think that's the problem many as is can he get 50% of the vote one on one and do you think. Booed the mullah report in the obstruction of justice in the president's behavior. Will be front and center issue in this campaign yes yet I I I think when we come next in the general election. Presidential re elects are always about who at the perception of the president prime primarily or about the perception the president and whatever that president's job approval number is. Since Harry Truman. The president's job approval number has predicted what his actual ballot number S so of somebody's at 44% job probably get 44% at around 44% of the vote. George W. Bush. In in 2004 his reelect some people say oh he's always vulnerable and I kept saying if he's at fifty or 51% he's gonna get fifty and that's exactly what I'm Brock pro Obama 2012 same exact thing. So I think it's always about the president. In this now. That you can Tara up and you know go negative on the opposition to sort of make people pay to react to that. But I think you tell me what they here's what I say tell me what the president's job approval number is in October. In a certain number of states not necessary nationally and in certain member states and I can pretty much tell you what it's likely be election result so. This will be a referendum on the president. They always are real X are always a referendum on president OK we'll. Thank you Matt this was very interesting and very helpful and great to be here thank you. Be sure to hit subscribe leave us a rating a comment will always appreciate hearing from our listeners I'd like to thank our producers and only her trust he and Trevor Hastings. And we'll see you back next week for another episode of the investigation. Me.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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