A rush transcript of "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" airing on Sunday, November 24, 2019 on ABC News is below. This copy may not be in its final form, may be updated and may contain minor transcription errors. For previous show transcripts, visit the "This Week" transcript archive.
ANNOUNCER: "This Week With George Stephanopoulos" starts right now.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS ANCHOR: Explosive testimony.
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GORDON SONDLAND, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE EUROPEAN UNION: Was there a quid pro quo? With regard to the requested White House call and the White House meeting, the answer is yes.
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STEPHANOPOULOS: Key witnesses. Concrete evidence.
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SONDLAND: Everyone was in the loop.
DAVID HOLMES, COUNSELOR FOR POLITICAL AFFAIRS, U.S. EMBASSY IN UKRAINE: Of course the president is pressing for a Biden investigation before he will do these things the Ukrainians want.
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STEPHANOPOULOS: And a stark warning.
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FIONA HILL, FORMER NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL OFFICIAL: And I would ask that you please not promote politically driven falsehoods that so clearly advance Russian interests.
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STEPHANOPOULOS: The president doubles down with disinformation from Russia.
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DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They gave the server to CrowdStrike. I still want to see that server.
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STEPHANOPOULOS: Two weeks of public hearings have laid out a clear fact pattern. The questions now: Is the president's pressure campaign on Ukraine clearly an impeachable offense? What's Trump's best defense? And what can we expect from a trial in the Senate? Our constitutional experts weigh in. And Senator Amy Klobuchar joins us live. Plus: Bloomberg launches.
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ANNOUNCER: He's taking on him. Mike Bloomberg for president.
MICHAEL BLOOMBERG, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm Mike Bloomberg, and I approve this message.
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STEPHANOPOULOS: With the biggest bad buy ever. How will he scramble the race? Can he convince Democrats? Chris Christie and Donna Brazile join our powerhouse roundtable. We will break down the politics, smoke out the spin, the facts that matter this week.
ANNOUNCER: From ABC News, it's "This Week." Here now, chief anchor George Stephanopoulos.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Good morning, and welcome to "This Week." After two weeks, 12 witnesses, more than 30 hours of testimony, the public hearings into the impeachment of President Trump appeared to be over. So, what did we learn? The evidence established a series of facts, that President Trump launched a campaign to convince Ukraine to announce investigations into Joe Biden and the Democrats, that he withheld military aid and a White House meeting during that campaign, and that Trump's key national security players all knew about it. Ambassador Gordon Sondland put it starkly. Everyone was in the loop.
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DANIEL GOLDMAN, DEMOCRATIC COUNSEL: And that includes Secretary Pompeo, right?
SONDLAND: Many, many people.
GOLDMAN: And -- well, Secretary Pompeo?
GOLDMAN: And acting Chief of Staff Mulvaney?
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STEPHANOPOULOS: Shadow diplomacy outside normal channels.
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HILL: He was being involved in a domestic political errand.
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GOLDMAN: You understood that Mr. Giuliani spoke for the president, correct?
SONDLAND: That's correct.
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STEPHANOPOULOS: As the hearings came to a close, the partisan divide wide as ever, Republicans firm in defense of Trump.
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REP. WILL HURD (R-TX): I have not heard evidence proving the president committed bribery or extortion.
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STEPHANOPOULOS: Democrats emphatic: The president deserves impeachment.
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REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): In my view, there is nothing more dangerous than an unethical president who believes they are above the law. In the words of my great colleague, we are better than that. Adjourned.
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STEPHANOPOULOS: So let's dig into where things stand and what comes next with our panel of impeachment experts. Melissa Murray, professor of constitutional law at New York University, our chief legal analyst, Dan Abrams, Barbara Comstock, former Republican member of Congress who served as chief counsel for the House Government Reform Committee during President Clinton's impeachment, and Kate Shaw, who served as legal counsel in the Obama White House, now professor of constitutional law at Cardozo Law School. Welcome to all of you.
And, Dan, let me begin with you. Let's just start out very plainly. Did the Democrats make their case? Did they prove an impeachable offense?
DAN ABRAMS, ABC NEWS CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: Well, look, it depends what their case is, right? Did they show that there was a quid pro quo, that aid was being withheld in exchange for an investigation? Yes. They have got those facts on the table. I think it's very hard to dispute that. But that's only the first question. Question two is, was it wrong? I think that they did a pretty good job of demonstrating that that was wrong.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And most Americans believe that now.
ABRAMS: That he did that. But question three is the most important one, which is, anything is impeachable, right? The question is, is this enough to remove him from office? And that's still yet to be seen. And I think one of the important questions moving forward, when the Democrats think about these articles of impeachment, is going to be, how broad do they go? Up to this point, we have talked about, well, they probably want to go narrow, they want to stay focused, et cetera. Now you have to wonder, are they going to go a little bit broader when they actually write up these articles of impeachment? Are they going to include some of the information about Mueller, for example, and obstruction? Because, as a legal matter, you would say, well, yes, of course. Why not include additional charges if you believe that they're valid? But, as a political matter, they're going to have to decide, does that help or hurt?
STEPHANOPOULOS: And so much of it is politics.
Barbara, did they make the case?
BARBARA COMSTOCK (R), FORMER VIRGINIA CONGRESSWOMAN: Well, Dan, does it make -- it depends on what the case is. On obstruction, I think they had a lot of witnesses who pointed out, like -- like Sondland, that they didn't have access to the documents. They have been repeating that over. But the bribery, given that's an intent crime, that is going to be more difficult. I do think if they bring in the other Mueller things that's going to add to the political argument of you've just been trying to impeach the president for anything. So, I think it's very much like the Clinton impeachment where a lot of people are going to say this was wrong, as Will Hurd said it was inappropriate, the conversation, but I don't think it's impeachable. I think that's where some -- you know, most of the Republicans are saying, no, it's not wrong. Nothing wrong with the call. The president is kind of driving that line, but I do think you're going to see other Republicans kind of take the line that Will Hurd did, sort of the Clinton line of it's wrong, but let's not impeach over it.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Melissa, one of the arguments you hear from some democrats is even if the outcome is foreordained in the Senate, you have to go forward with impeachment as a deterrent to this kind of action from future presidents.
MELISSA MURRAY, PROFESSOR, NYU SCHOOL OF LAW: I think that's a very strong argument for the Democrats. The idea here that we cannot have a chief executive who believes that he or she is above the law and a strong congress that's willing to deploy impeachment as a huge deterrent to that. But again, Barbara is exactly right. This is not just a legal proceeding, it's a political proceeding. And the way this has played out has really been like a Rorschach test of whether you are a Democrat or a Republican or whether you are convincable and in that soft middle.
STEPHANOPOULOS: In fact, at least in the House, those lines seemed to hardened over the two weeks.
KATIE SHAW, PROFESSOR, CARDOZO SCHOOL OF LAW, ABC NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Yeah, that's right. And I do think that one defense you could imagine is the one Barbara described, this was wrong, this should not be done, maybe it warrants something like censure, but it doesn't justify the first removal of an American president, right, in our history. It's not quite serious enough. But you have basically seen the opposite, right. The president is insisting he did nothing wrong and his party is sort of coalescing around it, as you said, a little bit inconsistent with sort of public opinion. Most people think this was wrong. But of course wrong is not the constitutional standard. High crimes and misdemeanors, bribery, they've always been understood as involving conduct that is some kind of existential threat to the political order, right, that it would be intolerable to retain in office a president who engages in conduct like this. And in some ways that's why I think the Democrats made, I think, a very -- or the witnesses, I should say, made a case that there was a political -- you know, the investigations that the president wanted were political. The president was willing to use the White House meeting and military aid as leverage. But there are some open questions about the military aid -- sort of how and when and specifically through what channels the directive to hold the aid was issued, and then the lifting of the hold. And that seems important.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And that's when you get into the double bind, because the person who can answer the questions of how the military aid was withheld, when it was withheld, why it was withheld, Mick Mulvaney, the White House Chief of Staff who has already publicly said it was withheld in part because of these investigation.
ABRAMS: And that's where it's going to be interesting about the Senate trial. Is it possible that any of these people are forced to testify in a Senate trial? I don't think so. I don't see exactly how they go about doing that. But you can count on the fact that the Democrats are going to try -- if there are going to be witnesses. Remember, in the Clinton trial, for example, there were no live witnesses who testified. It was arguments. And that's going to be the question here as we talk about a Senate trial. Will there be witnesses who testify?
COMSTOCK: And will you have one of the witnesses, Rudy Giuliani, actually being one of the president's attorneys?
ABRAMS: I can't imagine they're going to have him arguing the case.
COMSTOCK: Well, he was on TV yesterday.
MURRAY: It's a standard feature in election law. And there's a great piece by Ned Foley (ph) who is a professor of election law who made this case as well. That's definitely one angle. And we've seen courts fast track, and the court fast track, when it's had to. But again, the political optics of this are really important. And the idea that we are fast tracking, this is a witch hunt, this is all in the bag already, I think the Democrats want to stay as far away from that line of inquiry as possible.
COMSTOCK: And the problem they have, too, is one of their strongest articles of impeachment would probably be obstruction. And if they go and get the witnesses, that's going to undermine that article of impeachment. But not getting those first-hand witnesses is a problem. And you're not taking the case seriously enough. And you are making it more political.
STEPHANOPOULOS: That is precisely the dilemma, Kate, because the Democrats are saying now it's proof of obstruction that these witnesses aren't coming forward. Why not take the time to see if they would come forward if they actually have the goods? We're already getting more documents on Secretary of State Mike Pompeo as well.
SHAW: I feel like there are a little bit of echoes of some of the strategic calls made by Robert Mueller. Remember, he decided not to try to force the president to sit for an in-person interview, instead to say it would take too long, let's just work with the material that we have. In some ways the Democrats seem to likely be moving in that direction. We are just going to -- we have the universe of testimony and we're not going to try to force more. But I think it's right, if there is material information that some of these witnesses still hold, there's a real question about whether they should exhaust all legal avenues to try to access it. And I think Melissa is right. You know, courts can move quickly if the Democrats I think are very focused about what they are seeking and the deadline on which they need it. There's a real chance they could get a definitive ruling. I don't think that would remove any obstruction article. I mean, there are other elements of the obstruction case the Democrats are building, including potentially witness intimidation. But I do think there's an argument that they should try to run this process through a little quicker (ph) --
STEPHANOPOULOS: You know, something is happening tomorrow, Dan, that could play into this issue of obstruction and also whether to broaden the articles of impeachment. The court is expected to rule on whether Don McGahn, the former White House counsel, President Trump's former White House counsel, who played such a prominent role in the Mueller report, whether he should be compelled to testify. You could see him potentially then called as an impeachment witness by the House Judiciary Committee.
ABRAMS: Potentially. But, you know, that would be a court ruling. And then the question would be, where does that go from here? And you would have other witnesses say, well, I’m going to wait to see the resolution of that as it works its way through the courts. I mean, there's a way to delay these until it gets to the Supreme Court. You can keep sort of pushing it off and saying, well, you know, I’m waiting for a final ruling. But, you know, one -- to step a back, one thing we talked about when we were talking about broadly about impeachment, about what the Founders thought, et cetera, think about the standards that were set. It's high and low, right? It’s misdemeanors and it’s high crimes. It’s bribery and it’s treason. There was a reason that they put that in there. They intentionally wanted it to be kind of vague. They wanted to talk about wrongdoing generally. So, when we talk about bribery, it doesn't necessarily have to adhere to the statute, because the statute didn't exist when bribery was put into the Constitution and talk about impeachment. So, it's going to be very interesting as these articles move forward and the word “bribery” is there potentially. Are they talking about the bribery as the Founders thought of it? Which is just kind of pay-offs, kind of improper activity, et cetera. That’s what they were worried about, not the federal statute.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But they -- and they were particularly worried about improper activity involving foreign nations.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So, then, I mean, like, this is completely on point in this case.
MURRAY: I think it was definitely the case that they were worried about foreign intervention in the domestic operations of the United States. And this is clearly implicated here. And it's also implicated in the emoluments case which seems like 500 billion years ago. But it’s certainly relevant for this. But, again, Dan is right. They didn't anticipate the federal bribery statute, 18 USC 201. But I don’t think they have the opportunity to completely take that off the table and trying to understand what bribery means in the context of impeachment. They have to look at the modern model if only to sort of understand what we're working with today.
COMSTOCK: But impeachment was always meant to be a broad consensus and bipartisan. And that’s why in a 50/50 country, you're going to get a 50/50 divide. The House will vote impeachment and the Senate most likely at this time, unless there are additional witnesses and things change, will, you know, acquit, and then the public will decide in November.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Kate, there is a new player that's involved if indeed this does go to a Senate trial, and that's Chief Justice John Roberts. There's also some question about whether he would have the power in a trial to compel new witnesses.
SHAW: So, if it goes to trial, right, which looks almost certainly as though it will, and then right. So, Chief Justice Roberts will preside over the trial. And I think it's a role that he can kind of define as he sees fit. He may take the position that essentially William Rehnquist when he presided over Clinton’s impeachment trial, that it's a largely ceremonial and ministerial role and he’s not going to do a lot that substantively affects the course of the Senate trial, ordering witnesses to appear, things of that nature. I think it’s more likely that he will urge the Senate, just a majority of the body, to work out those determinations internally and maybe with guidance from Roberts, but not with Roberts making all sorts of rules (ph) --
STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, that could lead to an interesting situation, Dan. Let's say, for example, the Democrats say, we want to hear from Mick Mulvaney or Mike Pompeo. Roberts gives it over to the Senate majority. It's not certain that you would have a majority against seeing Mick Mulvaney come forward. You have a few senators on the fence who could vote for that.
ABRAMS: It could. But it would be viewed as heresy within the party. I mean, you can say that maybe they’ll be able to peel a few and that’s possible. But I think we’re looking at it the right way, which is I think Kate is right. I think the idea that somehow Chief Justice Roberts is going to be a hero for the left in there and he's going to force witnesses to testify and the Senate is going to have to overturn, I think it’s a pipe dream. The reality is, it's going to be based on Senate votes. And so, the best they can hope for is this idea of peeling off a few of the moderates. But I don't see that happening either because I think that their -- they don’t want to stay out of being the focus.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, that's the question about staying out (ph). There are so many different moving parts to this. The Supreme Court also right now, John Roberts, considering two tax cases about President Trump's tax returns, both the one coming out of the D.A. here in New York and the Congress also seeking them. And there's been some suggestion that if he -- if the Supreme Court took these cases, then he would be asked to recuse himself from a Senate trial. I see you guys are shaking your heads.
COMSTOCK: It's in the Constitution. They can't -- they can’t do that.
MURRAY: Again, the court has been at great pains to kind of stay out of the political fray. They had the opportunity last term to take a lot of controversial cases. They punted on those. Now those cases are before the court in this year's docket. It's going to be a really explosive year for the court, I think, and I think Chief Justice Roberts is at great pains to keep the court out of the political fray. I think his model is, again, going to be his own justice, Chief Justice William Rehnquist, who said of his role in the Clinton impeachment, I did nothing in particular and I did it very well.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And, Katie, you and I have talked about this online and we don't -- it takes four votes in the Supreme Court to get cert (ph), to consider these cases. If the Supreme Court takes this, they're going to be deciding this right in the middle of the presidential campaign, probably in June. Does that sort of put a thumb on the scale toward the court saying, let's stay out of this?
KATIE SHAW, PROFESSOR, CARDOZO SCHOOL OF LAW, ABC NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Let's stay out of it. It may. It also may mean that if they do take the case, as they expedite them, even informally so that they're decided in, you know, February or March rather than in June. But on recusal, you know, there has been some speculation that if the court took these cases, not that the chief could recuse from the Senate trial, but that he would have to recuse from the cases potentially. I don't -- I don't --
DAN ABRAMS, ABC NEWS CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, but the (INAUDIBLE) -- the tactics is so different in the --
SHAW: Of course --
COMSTOCK: And during the Clinton impeachment, you had all kinds of executive privilege cases that were going up --
COMSTOCK: In that same time frame. So there's precedent for this. And it's in the Constitution that the chief justice has to preside.
MURRAY: Oh, he presides. I think there's no question.
STEPHANOPOULOS: No question he's going to preside. You do have the experience, Barbara, with the Clinton impeachment investigation. And the fundamental lesson which you guys have all echoed today comes down to strategy, political strategy. As you look at the Republicans in the Senate, is their strategy going to edge more towards the president's strategy, which was, nothing was done wrong, or more along the lines of, yes, perhaps it wasn't appropriate but not impeachable?
COMSTOCK: I think it may be the latter for quite a few of the senators. I think that, you know, the president is talking about, you know, wanting to bring all these witnesses on the floor, Hunter Biden, thinks like that. I think he --
STEPHANOPOULOS: He also wants Adam Schiff, who will be a witness on the floor, as the House manager (ph).
COMSTOCK: I think you're going to see Mitch McConnell will keep a tight rein on this. He wants a short trial. He does not want this to be a circus. I do think the White House probably would like to have a Senate trial very much like the Corey Lewandowsky hearing in front of Jerry Nadler that -- that was such a circus. So that's kind of what they're threatening and what they would like. But I do think the reason you had, for example, Lindsey Graham come out and say he's going to do the investigation of the -- Hunter Biden and those matters is so that they don't have to deal with that issue on the Senate floor.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But before we -- do any of you think that it's possible that the House actually doesn't follow through and vote on impeachment?
ABRAMS: I think it's -- I mean, I don't know. I start -- for the first time this morning, I started to think, boy, do they think -- consider a censure instead because they --
COMSTOCK: I think it's more likely for the Senate to consider --
ABRAMS: I know, I know, but some sort of statement --
COMSTOCK: That's what Clinton (INAUDIBLE) --
ABRAMS: But, I mean, look, it's very hard to think of how they could not fully --
STEPHANOPOULOS: Back off at this point.
MURRAY: I don't think you unring this bell. I mean this bell is going to get rung.
STEPHANOPOULOS: OK. Thank you all very much. A fascinating discussion. When we come back, one of the likely jurors for President Trump, if it does go to a trail, Democratic senator and presidential candidate Amy Klobuchar. And, up next, Nate Silver looks at whether a moderate like Klobuchar is the best bet for Democrats.
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PETE BUTTIGIEG (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I’m not only running to defeat Donald Trump. I’m running to prepare for the day that begins when Donald Trump has left office, to launch the era that must come after Trump. That era must be characterized not by exclusion, but by belonging.
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GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS ANCHOR: Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar both making their pitch for a moderate approach in this week’s Democratic debate. Is that why they've got some momentum in Iowa and beyond?
We asked “FiveThirtyEight’s” Nate Silver if he buys that.
NATE SILVER, FIVETHIRTYEIGHT: So, let's be clear: the left is really coming into its own in American politics, especially among younger voters. Fifty percent of Americans under 30 have a positive view of socialism about as many who say the same thing about capitalism.
But do I buy that Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar are winning by running to the center? I mostly do, and here’s why.
First, there are still a lot of moderate voters in the Democratic Party. While only 29 percent of Democrats on social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook identify as moderate or conservative, 53 percent of other Democrats do or about half the party.
But let's say you do want to win over left-leaning progressive voters. You’ve got two more big problems, Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders. Combined, they have 38 percent of the vote in the national polls, which is more than Joe Biden’s 30 percent.
Candidates like Kamala Harris and Beto O'Rourke who tried to run to their left found there aren't that many more progressive votes to go around when Sanders and Warren take their well-earned share.
Another issue, Democratic voters really want to beat Trump and they associate moderation with electability. In our polling after this week's Democratic debate, Buttigieg and Klobuchar saw their electability numbers improve the most and they have fairly explicitly made a play for the center.
Meanwhile, in Iowa polling, an increasing number of voters think Warren and Sanders are too far to the left. And this coincides with declining numbers for Warren on electability.
Whether Democrats are right about this, whether moderation really is the way to win elections, well, that's a complicated topic. We will save it for another occasion.
But, for Buttigieg and Klobuchar, this is a fairly simple equation. There are Democrats who think Warren and Bernie are too far to the left, but who also don't love Biden, maybe just enough of them to make for a surprise ending in Iowa.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Some good news there for Amy Klobuchar. She's up next. We will be right back.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Lots more coming up, Amy Klobuchar standing by live, plus our powerhouse roundtable.
We will be right back.
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STEPHANOPOULOS: There is Senator Mitch McConnell on a possible trial for the impeachment of President Trump. We're joined now by one of those Democratic senators also running for president he was talking about right there. Amy Klobuchar joins us from Minnesota this morning.
Senator, thank you for joining us.
SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR, (D-MN) 2020 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thanks, George.
That sounded like a little bit of a threat there, you know. I'm sure they want to sit in their chairs and be quiet. Anyway, continue on.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Does that make you think that the Republicans will move towards this idea of a long trial for political reasons?
KLOBUCHAR: I don't know. The latest word is, they wanted a shorter one. I think what's really important to the nation is that we hear the evidence and that it's a fair trial. I will say when you were talking earlier with the panel, I am just struck by the fact that you go back to the basics which is the founding fathers, James Madison in that Constitutional Convention, who said that the impeachment articles should be included, the provisions in the constitution, because he feared that an American president could betray the trust of the American people to a foreign power. That's what this really is about. And that's what you heard in the moving testimony of these career diplomats, these career military people who have served under Republican and Democratic presidents, who are making it very clear that they thought this was fundamentally wrong.
STEPHANOPOULOS: That was the witness testimony this week. So, have you seen enough evidence, even though you're eventually going to have the be a juror if it goes to trial, whether to acquit or convict, have you seen enough evidence to date for this to go to trial?
KLOBUCHAR: Yes. I made this very clear that I think this is an impeachable offense and all of the Senators, including our Republican colleagues, are going to have to make this decision. And I thought one of the really good points that was made earlier on your panel was the point that you can't just close your eyes to this. You think about back in Watergate, they didn't close their eyes when a paranoid president who was up for election and looking for dirt on a political opponent, got involved in having people break into an office and steal information on their opponents from a filing cabinet. Well, this is the global version of Watergate where a president is trying to get dirt on a political opponent from a world leader. That is basically what happened here. And so that's the case that we'll be making.
STEPHANOPOULOS: One of the big questions going forward is what witnesses you'll hear from. Your Republican colleague on the Senate Judiciary Committee, the chairman, Lindsey Graham, has made it a point he wants to hear from the whistleblower. Let's listen.
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SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, (R) SOUTH CAROLINA: I will not allow a trial in the senate to go forward with my vote unless the whistleblower comes forward, even though they're offering hearsay, they're the ones that started this. And I want to know is there a connection between the whistleblower, the CIA, or Biden or any other Democrat that would make cast suspicions over their motives. I want to get to the bottom of this.
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STEPHANOPOULOS: Do you think the whistleblower should be heard? And what other witnesses do you want to hear from in the Senate?
KLOBUCHAR: No. I don't think you should force a whistleblower -- and I think Republican Senator Grassley of Iowa has been very clear on this. Whistleblowers are -- the provision is in the law to allow them to come forward with information in many different ways across the government. And you do not want to mess with that. And it's been pointed out, the whistleblower had limited secondhand information. And now, right in front of the nation, people have testified under oath who had firsthand information about the fact that the president made this call and very specifically tied it with dirt on a political opponent. So I think that would be a serious, serious mistake. And as for other witnesses, that will be determined after we see what is brought over from the House. I think the bigger issue, as I was listening to the panel, is the American people see this right now. They're listening to it. I'm sure they're going to be talking about it at Thanksgiving. But they want a check on this president. They want an economic check. People are dealing with pharmaceutical prices that are out of control and college prices, but they also want a patriotism check and a value check. You look at those voters in Kentucky and Virginia, they said, enough is enough. They switched the house and senate, state house and senate in Virginia and they elected a new governor in Kentucky. And as Democrats, as we go into this presidential race, George, we better not screw this up --
STEPHANOPOULOS: But do you think there's --
KLOBUCHAR: Because we, right now, have with us a fired up base, but also independents and moderate Republicans.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Is there any danger, though, that going forward, that this could end up helping Trump? There's some evidence, some national polling shows that support for impeachment has ticked down a little bit. I mean there's conflicting evidence among -- among national polls that the Republican -- president's Republican base is hardening, might even be -- getting some independents on the question of impeachment going forward. Are you concerned you go forward, there's impeachment, there's a Senate trial, he's acquitted, and it ends up helping the president?
KLOBUCHAR: No, because you had those elections taking place in the shadow of these impeachment proceedings to begin with. Secondly, we have a constitutional duty. That's why those young, new House members came forward with their military backgrounds and said, enough is enough, we simply can't have a president using his position to advance his interest. And the third reason, this is part of a pattern. Put the impeachment aside for a second. This is a president who's constantly, George, putting his political interests, his partisan interests, his private interests in front of the country. This is a guy that went down to Mar-a-Lago after he signed his tax bill and said to his friends, I just made you a lot richer. There's a much bigger argument and the American people understand this.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You're also a candidate in Iowa right now, as we talked about. You had a couple of strong debate performances in a row. We just heard Nate Silver say there's an opening for a candidate like you. But I remember what Dave Nagle, the former congressman from Iowa, dean of Iowa politics, says about the Iowa caucus. Rule number one, organize. Rule number two, organize. Rule number three, get hot late. If you're sitting as a juror in a Senate trial for six days a week, is it going to be possible for you to do what you need to do in Iowa?
KLOBUCHAR: Yes. And, again, I have a constitutional duty. That has to come first. But, for me, we are moving up in Iowa. We are doubling our number of offices. We are adding staff. The same in New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada because people are starting to get to know me. And they're starting to understand what I've said from the beginning, I am not running for chair of the Democratic National Committee. I'm running for president of the United States. I am someone that always looked people in the eye. I'm blunt. I tell them the truth. I think that's what we need right now and we need someone who has, yes, bold ideas. And I think one of the things we've learned in these debates is, there's no monopoly on bold ideas. There -- there's not. And my argument from the beginning that we don't want to kick 149 million Americans off their health care and their current insurance in four years, that most people agree with me. And that we don't want to give free college to rich kids. Most people agree with me in our party. That being said, I think we can bring premiums way down. We can take on pharmaceutical prices. And that's the case that I'm making. And that's why we are moving up right now.
KLOBUCHAR: We welcome everyone to the race. People keep coming and going. And I keep steadily going up. I -- I don't have that money. That is true. I am the granddaughter of an iron ore miner who worked 1,500 feet underground his whole life, the daughter of a union teacher and a newspaper man. But I have actually gotten things done in the gridlock of Washington, D.C., and here's my difference with the mayor, I have won major rural districts, major suburban districts time and time again and brought people with me. I think that's going to matter to our voters and that’s the case I will make. I also go out there. I had four town hall meetings in New Hampshire in the last two days. You know, I just don't think people are going to buy it, that you just buy -- put a bunch of money, maybe the argument is, hey, I’ve got more money than the guy in the White House, I don't think they're going to buy that. I think they want someone different. As I said in the debate stage, they're not necessarily looking for the loudest voice in the room. They've got that in the White House. They're not necessarily looking for the richest person. They got a guy who’s constantly talking about how much money he has. They're looking for someone different.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Senator Klobuchar, thanks for your time this morning.
KLOBUCHAR: Thank you. Great to be on, George.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Round table is up next. We'll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, POLITICAL AD)
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(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: He hasn't announced quite yet, but that ad already running in Tallahassee. All the big states on Super Tuesday Michael Bloomberg is going to get in imminently. Let's talk about that on our roundtable with Chris Christie, former DNC chair and Fox News contributor Donna Brazile, Heidi Heitkamp, served as Democratic senator from North Dakota. Welcome to you.
HEIDI HEITKAMP (D), FORMER NORTH DAKOTA SENATOR: Thank you.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And Republican strategist Sarah Fagen, who served as White House political affairs director under George W. Bush. OK. Donna, you've run presidential campaigns for Democrats. Does Mike Bloomberg have a chance?
DONNA BRAZILE, FORMER DNC CHAIR: I think it's going to be a very difficult uphill battle for several reasons, George. He's skipping the first four states and going straight into Super Tuesday. As you well know, starting next month, in order to get on the ballot, I’m still on the Rules Committee --
BRAZILE: I want to be a lawyer when I grow up --
CHRIS CHRISTIE, FORMER NEW JERSEY GOVERNOR: Thank God for that. No one better to be in charge of the rules than you, Donna.
BRAZILE: Yes, you better not jump in. It's bad enough that we need a widescreen TV to see all of the candidates. I don’t know why anybody else is getting in the race. But, George, this is a race for delegates. And the question is, how do you get delegates? How do you get on the ballot? Next month, he has to get on the ballot in Virginia. This is not writing a check -- which we know he can write a lot of checks, right, Sara? He can write a lot of checks.
SARA FAGEN, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: A lot of checks.
BRAZILE: But can he actually go and find 5,000 people? Yes, he will be able to pay canvassers to go out and get it. But at the end of the day, George, he has to get on the ballot. Then he has to convince real Democrats to back him, to -- in order to get 1,885 delegates in order to secure the nomination. It’s an uphill battle.
FAGEN: Well, I do think that this shows that many Democrats are concerned about this field. The very fact that at this stage of the game, he's entertaining the idea of running tells something about this field, as wide and big as it is, that the fear among elite Democrats and donors that Donald Trump is going to be reelected is so great that, you know, now, two people are getting into the race.
STEPHANOPOULOS: I think you had an important word right there -- elite Democrats and voters. For most voters, Democratic voters right now are satisfied with their field.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But, Heidi, I think one of the things that’s driving this is that he looked at the rise of Elizabeth Warren and said...
STEPHANOPOULOS: ... he's worried she would lose to Donald Trump, that most Democratic voters right now are banking on the fact that electability is the most important thing. He believes he can bring that. And then, second, he's got -- this is a brand-new experiment. He's going to create a national primary with all this money by playing in all those states at the same time.
HEITKAMP: I think one of the things that he's banking on is that, if he gets in now, he could lead a brokered convention. And I don't think we should discount the possibility that we may not know our nominee for a long time, because nobody seems to be breaking out. But it's really interesting that he thinks that he's going to get the hearts and minds in an anti-elite, anti-billionaire Democratic primary. I mean, look at the -- look at the power of Elizabeth Warren's wealth tax. I don't agree with that, but it's a powerful message for her, that -- the fact that none of these people are taking contributions from very, very wealthy PACs and wealthy corporate business interests, but yet he thinks there's space for a Democratic nomination in that space. And that's, I think, very problematic.
STEPHANOPOULOS: He did make a point in that of saying taxes on the wealthy are going to go up.
CHRISTIE: Yes, great. Listen, two things. He's a man without an island, OK? He's not a Democrat. He's not a Republican. And you don't win a Democratic primary or a Republican primary by not being of either party. So he has no path, philosophically, to get there. I mean, I want him to -- I can't wait for him to get out from behind the commercials and answer questions about his attitude towards the MeToo movement, because it's not going to be very popular in any aspect of the Democratic electorate. Secondly for him is, he can't -- for the life of me, I can't figure out how he turns this into a brokered convention. If I had a dime for every time somebody was going to be the beneficiary of a brokered convention, I wouldn't have to work.
It doesn't happen anymore. This is not Abe Lincoln.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Except it does go back to the delegates and the rules. I mean, anyone who gets more than 15 percent of the vote in a congressional district is likely to earn delegates. What he's saying is that nobody comes out of those first four states with overwhelming momentum.
FAGEN: And part of the -- well, part of the issue too is Democrats have created the -- and I agree with the governor. It's a very narrow path. He says no path. I say very narrow path.
But they created this because of this mega-Super Tuesday that they have, where nearly half of their delegates are going to be decided -- California, Texas, Massachusetts, Virginia, North Carolina, very large states, on the same day.
And so in a scenario where he has a bank shot, in a scenario where three different candidates or four different candidates win these early states before Super Tuesday, and there's chaos in the party, and he looks like the person who could defeat Donald Trump.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Yes, the real bank shot is that he feels that -- that's that Joe Biden doesn't perform, and Mayor Pete doesn't quite do quite well enough, so he owns the moderate lane against either Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders.
BRAZILE: But, first of all, I want to respond to Sara. Sara, we have to respect what the states decide in terms of their dates. So you will notice that the Republicans and the Democrats will hold their primaries or caucuses on the same day. That's number one.
BRAZILE: But, number two, it is a race for delegates. And how do you accrue delegates, when you know that you have to -- the road to the White House will go through major American cities-- cities that know about Mike Bloomberg policy on stop and frisk.
And although he gave...
STEPHANOPOULOS: An apology last night.
BRAZILE: ... somewhat of an apology, I mean, one apology?
CHRISTIE: Come on.
BRAZILE: Come on.
I mean, we got to hear more.
CHRISTIE: Seriously. I mean, come on.
STEPHANOPOULOS: I was reporting that he gave an apology. That is exactly what he did.
CHRISTIE: Yes, he did, but nobody believes it. Nobody believes it. Mike Bloomberg is proud of that record. He is. And now he's -- now he's doing what people don't want in today's politics, which is being inauthentic.
HEITKAMP: Yes, but if I can just -- I mean, goodness forbid that I would defend Mike Bloomberg, right? But the point is, if you look at what got Trump where Trump is, was that message of: I'm a self-made man. I know how to get things done. I'm a businessman. Elect me because I will run this country like a business. He's got a great contrast with this president, who is all phony.
HEITKAMP: And he did the real thing. He built up this empire. There's a lot of attractiveness about his personal story that I think is getting lost in this discussion.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And, Sara Fagen, one of the other things that's happening here, you know, one of the ways that the mayor is going to undercut criticism from Democrats that he's hurting their chances is by having a separate $100 million ad buy just against Trump over the next several months.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Is that something the president needs to be worried about?
FAGEN: I think that television ads at this stage of the game probably aren't that significant.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But this is digital too.
FAGEN: Yes. I mean, look, yes, all activity is net positive, accrues to the person spending, typically, if they're done smart. And Mike Bloomberg has very smart people working for him. I think that you have a scenario where you have got a Warren exciting the base and Bernie exciting the base, and, ultimately, those voters will decide, in the end, the final analysis, that beating Donald Trump is more important. They will elect a Biden. They will elect a Buttigieg. There's a very small chance they'll elect a Mayor Bloomberg
STEPHANOPOULOS: One thing, warning sign for Democrats this weekend. It's just one warning sign, I want to put it up on the screen and bring this to you, Heidi Heitkamp, this Marquette University poll out of Wisconsin that for the first time show -- and this is a flip from the summer and from the early fall, showing President Trump in that key state of Wisconsin beating every single major Democrat.
HEITKAMP: Yeah, I think that Marquette is the real deal. And I think they better start paying attention. And it goes back to how broad is your message? How much are you reaching out? How much are you making it about the people who you want to serve? And one of the problems that we have is we're now in impeachment land and there's very little discussion about what's going to change for people in the real world and impeachment itself is not a discussion about what does this mean for me, it just seems more of Washington dysfunction, more of what the rancor that people that absolutely hate.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But you heard what Senate Klobuchar just said, that may be, but the Democrats have a duty if they see this evidence of what they consider an impeachable offense, they have to go forward.
HEITKAMP: But the problem that they have they failed to make it about the people. They keep making it about Donald Trump. People know, they've made the judgment that this person is probably not a very moral person, not a very competent person, but quit making it about Trump and start making it about the people.
CHRISTIE: George, George, the two major themes of the Democratic campaign so far are impeachment and they're going to go into everyone of those Wisconsin building trades households, which are going to be a lot of those swing voters, and they're going to say we're taking away your health care too. Those are the two major messages. Medicare for All...
STEPHANOPOULOS: That's Elizabeth Warren.
CHRISTIE: But George, those are the headlines that are going to come out of this. If you look at the big stories, name me the big Biden initiative, right. There's not a big Biden initiative and that's part of his problem. Name me the big Buttigieg initiative. There isn't one. The only big initiative that's gotten a headline, a big headline in the Democratic primary so far is Medicare for All. Here is what Donald Trump's going to do. He's going to go into Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania and into those building trade union halls and say you like your health care? Well, they're going to take it away from you. And it's deadly for them.
BRAZILE: Governor, with all due respect, if the second circuit comes out and invalidates Obamacare, the Affordable Care Act, then Donald Trump is going to have to explain how he's going to provide health care to the millions of Americans who will lose their coverage and those with preexisting conditions. What's coming out of the Democratic primary today is concerning to many Democrats, because we don't have a unified party yet. We're still debating big issues. The race is still fluid and that's why people like Deval Patrick and Michael Bloomberg believe that they can come in and say today, this is going to be an interesting race, George, because in two months the folks in Iowa, they are going to stand up one cold winter night and they're going to decide, and that's going to get the ball rolling.
The problem is can Bloomberg keep some momentum going when the press attention is going to be on the winner of Iowa, the winner of New Hampshire and whatever else comes afterwards.
FAGEN: Well, and you raised the impeachment issue earlier, which to me has been a very big gamble in this race by Democrats. You know, yeah, there's some mixed polling. But at a minimum Trump hasn't lost any ground during this trial. And there's a lot of evidence to suggest he's gained a few points.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Certainly the...
FAGEN: We saw it on that Wisconsin poll that's somewhat reflective where I agree with Senator -- you know, people have priced in what they have priced in about Donald Trump. None of this is new information. I don't think -- Democrats think he should be impeached, Republicans don't think he should be impeached. Independents appear to think he should not be impeached. And moving it to the Senate is going to be a more -- no matter what, is going to be more favorable terrain toward the president.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Inside the Senate, but there's the possibility of wild cards, new information coming out. We just saw it yesterday again. Mayor Giuliani, Rudy Giuliani coming back out and giving interviews.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Have you talked to President Trump in the last week or two? Have you met with him? Are you still his counsel?
GIULIANI: I do not discuss my conversations with my client. You can assume that I talk to him early and often, and have a very good relationship with him. And all these comments, which are totally insulting -- I mean I've seen things written like he's going to throw me under the bus. When they say that I say he isn't, but I have insurance.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: Now, Chris Christie, that was the second time he's made that insurance policy clip. He later said he was just being sarcastic. There is also -- even though a lot of attitudes are baked in, there's also the possibility the longer this goes on, new information does come out against the president. Of course, two of Rudy Giuliani's associates have been indicted.
CHRISTIE: Well, listen, there's always that possibility, George. And I think Sarah is right. But I think Sarah is right, you know, this is -- this conduct that was laid out in the impeachment hearings is consistent with the brand that Donald Trump has been selling for 35 years, that he will leverage to get the deal he wants to get. He's the deal maker and he's strong enough, and tough enough and mean enough at times...
STEPHANOPOULOS: And people don't care if he break the rules?
CHRISTIE: But, George, people have already priced that in. I mean, it wasn't like he acted differently during the presidential campaign. I was there, OK. The -- he was doing the same stuff then and people said, you know, we want that. We're voting for that.
BRAZILE: Well, see, that's the problem, and that is impeachment is a constitutional process. I know -- I understand the politics of it. It's a constitutional process. And if the president can get away with violating not just norms, breaking the law, using American taxpayers' money, authorized by Congress as a leverage for his own personal and political gain, then we're in new territory as a country, not just as political parties.
CHRISTIE: It's -- it's not just the constitutional process, it's a political process.
BRAZILE: Of course.
CHRISTIE: And the -- and the -- and the framers made it a political process, not a legal process. So --
STEPHANOPOULOS: And that's all true. And, Sara, let me bring this question to you. I think both you and Heidi were saying that he's in more favorable terrain once it gets to the Senate. I wonder about after the Senate, even after an acquittal, how does this play out over time, the brand of impeachment there, even with -- with an acquittal, is this -- what does this mean to those very smart swing voters who are on the fence in places like Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania in a general election?
FAGEN: I think in the world we live in today it's going to be such old news by the time the general election gets around, unless there's some bombshell testimony in the Senate or something new comes out, but I don't think that's going to happen. And you know what, we're going to have Supreme Court cases that are going to be very contentious, decided next year. You're going to have a Democratic nominee that even if they're not for Medicare for All, they now own it. That's going to be a major focus of this debate. I think impeachment, you know, yes, it's going to be in most advertising against the president, but everybody knows it and everybody has moved on.
HEITKAMP: Yes, number one, I totally disagree with Sara that we own Medicare for all. The major candidate, Biden, is not saying Medicare for all. So we're having a debate about health care. The debate we ought to be having is what happens if you repeal the Affordable Care Act. The president has steadfastly refused to present any plan that could possibly pass. Let's say you remove DACA protections, what seems likely in the court, so what happens when in middle of an election you're talking about, what are you going to do with health care, what are you going to do with the DACA kids, what are you going to do with an economy now that he has literally torn apart with his trade policies? This president is going to be in a much weakened positions on issues that don't involve his personality, don't involve his corruption. And -- and those are going to be the issues that are going to drive this election.
CHRISTIE: But most of the people on the Democratic stage don't support Obamacare. They support Medicare for All.
HEITKAMP: That's not true, Chris.
CHRISTIE: No, that is -- it's absolutely true.
HEITKAMP: It's not true.
CHRISTIE: Listen, even --
FAGEN: Even Elizabeth -- even Elizabeth walked it back.
CHRISTIE: Oh -- oh, well, Elizabeth walked it back there after she saw the polling numbers and, guess what, those -- those videos --
CHRISTIE: Of her doing that are going to be everywhere.
STEPHANOPOULOS: The only one that's for full bore Medicare for all right now is Bernie Sanders.
BRAZILE: Bernie Sanders.
CHRISTIE: Listen, I would say to you that Elizabeth Warren put out a $20.5 trillion plan. And just because she saw the polling, George, she doesn't get a pass for saying, OK, (CROSSTALK) polling, now I'm not for it.
BRAZILE: But -- but --
FAGEN: Well, it is not just --
HEITKAMP: You don't get a pass saying everybody's for it.
CHRISTIE: No --
FAGEN: It's not just Medicare for all. It's free college education. It's a green new deal. It is trillions and trillions of dollars of the government spending with no plan to pay for it.
HEITKAMP: Yes, well, welcome -- welcome to the Republican Party.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Ten seconds and then we've got to go.
BRAZILE: And welcome to the --
FAGEN: And some of your -- some of your criticism is fair. Your criticism is fair, but these are much bigger programs than anything we've talked about.
BRAZILE: Thank you -- on the deficits. Sara, I'm going to say something that will make you and Chris have a happy Thanksgiving. I still believe, as an incumbent president, it's very difficult to take a Republican -- an incumbent president out.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And --
CHRISTIE: Happy Thanksgiving.
STEPHANOPOULOS: That's going to have to be it. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.
BRAZILE: Thank you, George.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Thanks for sharing your Sunday with us.