'This Week' Transcript 1-19-20: Rep. Adam Schiff, Alan Dershowitz, Sen. Richard Shelby, Sen. Cory Booker
This is a rush transcript of "This Week" airing Sunday, January 19.
A rush transcript of "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" airing on Sunday, January 19, 2020 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.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hear ye, hear ye.
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): I will now read the articles of impeachment.
JOHN ROBERTS, CHIEF JUSTICE OF THE U.S. SUPREME COURT: Do you solemnly swear you will do impartial justice?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS ANCHOR: Trump's trial begins.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): You could feel the weight of the moment.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: New charges from a new witness.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LEV PARNAS, INDICTED GIULIANI ASSOCIATE: President Trump knew exactly what was going on. It was all about Joe Biden.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don't know him. I don't know Parnas.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: But will the Senate consider new evidence?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Absolutely not.
REP. JERROLD NADLER (D-NY): All evidence should be accepted.
REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): Not at all.
SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA): The very integrity of the United States Senate is on trial.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: The third impeachment trial in American history set for opening arguments this week, a constitutional clash over facts, law and politics.
Our guests this morning, the lead House manager, Adam Schiff, Alan Dershowitz from the president's legal team, two senators serving as judge and jury, Republican Richard Shelby, Democrat Cory Booker, plus 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." The impeachment trial of President Trump started this week with a striking portrait of solidarity in the Senate.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTS: Do you solemnly swear that in all things appertaining to the trial of the impeachment of Donald John Trump, president of the United States, now pending, you will do impartial justice according to the Constitution and laws, so help you God.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: It is almost certainly the last moment in this trial where Republicans and Democrats will speak as one. And in the first briefs filed overnight, the battle lines are stark. President Trump's lawyers calling impeachment a, quote, "brazen and unlawful attempt to overturn the 2016 election," adding several times the president did nothing wrong.
The House brief concludes, "President Trump's conduct is the framers' worst nightmare." All ahead of the first full trial day on Tuesday, likely to be an extended skirmish over the rules of engagement. This morning, we hear from all sides, prosecution, defense, judge, and jury.
And we begin with the lead House manager, Chairman Adam Schiff. Mr. Chairman, thank you for joining us this morning.
SCHIFF: Good to be with you.
STEPHANOPOULOS: I want to start with the president's first official filing. The quotes from there, a categorical denial of each and every allegation, calling it the fruit of a lawless process and a dangerous attack on our elections.
You've now had the chance to review it. What's your response?
SCHIFF: Well, it's surprising in that it really doesn't offer much new beyond the failed arguments we heard in the House. The facts aren't seriously contested. The president withheld hundreds of millions of dollars of military aid to an ally at war with Russia, withheld a White House meeting that the president of Ukraine desperately sought to establish with his country and with his adversary the support of the United States, in order to coerce Ukraine into helping him cheat in the next election.
They really can't contest those facts. And the only thing really new about the president's defense is that they're now arguing, I think because they can't contest the facts, that the president cannot be impeached for abusing the power of his office. And that's a...
STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, that's what I wanted -- that's what I wanted to get to, because that's the argument -- Alan Dershowitz is coming up, and that's the argument he's going to make. He says, quote, "Abuse of power, even if proved, is not an impeachable offense."
SCHIFF: Well, that's the argument I suppose you have to make if the facts are so dead set against you, if the president has admitted to the wrongdoing, his chief of staff has confessed to the wrongdoing, his European Union ambassador has confessed to the same quid pro quo, you have to rely on an argument that even if he abused his office in this horrendous way, that it's not impeachable, you had to go so far out of the mainstream to find someone to make that argument, you had to leave the realm of constitutional law scholars and go to criminal defense lawyers.
Even Professor Turley, who testified on behalf of House Republicans, couldn't make that argument, in fact, in the House made exactly the opposite argument, that abuse of power is at the center of what the framers intended an impeachable offense to be. The logic of that absurdist position that's being now adopted by the president is he could give away the state of Alaska, he could withhold execution of sanctions on Russia for interfering in the last election, to induce or coerce Russia to interfere in the next one.
That would have appalled -- the mere idea of this would have appalled the founders, who were worried about exactly that kind of solicitation of foreign interference in an election for a personal benefit, the danger it poses to national security. That goes to the very heart of what the framers intended to be impeachable.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Let's talk about Lev Parnas. You released a great deal of information from him. Of course, he's the associate of Rudy Giuliani, now indicted, who testified this week, has given a lot of documents to your committee. Testified in public, I should say. He didn't testify to Congress.
But there's one reference to him in your brief. How much will you be using him in your argument? Are you concerned that he won't be seen as credible because he's under indictment?
SCHIFF: Well, look, you know, it is the fact with many of the people surrounding the president that they end up indicted. These are the people that the president has chosen to work with, people like, you know, Michael Cohen, like Lev Parnas, like so many others, Paul Manafort, and these are people that do have information about the president's misconduct.
But right now, George, we don't know what witnesses will be allowed and even if we'll be allowed witnesses. We can't really make a determination on which witnesses we'll call in the absence of knowing whether the Senate will allow any at all.
The threshold issue here, George, is will there be a fair trial? Will the senators allow the House to call witnesses to introduce documents? That is the foundational issue on which everything else rests. And one thing that the public is overwhelmingly in support of, and that is a fair trial.
Imagine that you're a juror, people watching your show from around the country. Imagine that they're a juror and the judge comes into the courtroom and says, look, I've been in consultation with the defendant. I'm working hand in hand with the defendant and we've agreed that I'm not going to allow the prosecution to call any witnesses and I'm not going to allow the prosecution to show you any documents. I will only allow the prosecution to read the cold transcripts from the grand jury.
No juror has ever heard that kind of a thing from a judge because it would be absurd. It would be a mockery of a trial, not a trial. But that is what Senator McConnell to date is proposing, but that's not what the American people want and I don't think it's true to the oath senators have taken to be impartial administors of justice.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You're going to have to convince at least four Republican senators to vote for those witnesses. One of the key ones, of course, is Susan Collins, and she's been quite critical of the House process, saying, you know, you should have done more to enforce your own subpoenas.
SCHIFF: You know, I've seen those comments. I look forward to addressing them at the trial, because I think what Senator Collins and the other senators need to realize is we did try to get these witnesses in the House. We subpoenaed many of these witnesses. And because of the president's obstruction, they ignored those lawful subpoenas.
If you argue that, well, the House needed to go through endless months or even years of litigation before bringing about an impeachment, you effectively nullify the impeachment clause. You allow the president of the United States by delay, by playing rope a dope in the courts, to defeat the power of the impeachment clause.
The framers gave the House the sole power of impeachment. It didn't say that was given to judges who at their leisure may or may not decide cases and allow the House to proceed. So that is not the structure that the framers intended.
And I'll make one other point, George, which I think is a powerful one, and that is Donald Trump's Justice Department is in court saying the House cannot go to court to enforce its subpoenas. Well, they can't have it both ways, and neither should the senators accept it both ways.
The reality is, because what the president is threatening to do is cheat in the next election, you cannot wait months and years to be able to remove that threat from office.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Senator McConnell still hasn't released this resolution laying out the rules and timetables for the trial, but we've learned that he's been considering a far more compressed schedule than the Clinton trial, fewer days for arguments, compressed timeline, no guarantee of new witnesses, as we've discussed. What will you be fighting for on Tuesday?
SCHIFF: Well, and it's telling that none of us have seen this resolution, except, I suppose, the White House lawyers. We'll be fighting for a fair trial. As I mentioned before, that is really the foundation on which this all rests.
If the Senate decides, if Senator McConnell prevails and there are no witnesses, it will be the first impeachment trial in history that goes to conclusion without witnesses. Look, I can tell you, the atmosphere in the Senate when I came with the other House managers and we read the articles was one befitting something that has only happened three times in the nation's history. And I intend during the trial to be respectful of the senators, to operate from the presumption that they do take their oaths seriously, but also with the knowledge that Americans are watching, that they're going to demand a fair trial, and if the senators don't give the country a fair trial, one that's fair to the president but also fair to the American people, the senators will be held accountable. So that's the approach I intend to take.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Finally, Senator -- I mean, Congressman -- you're also the chair of the House Intelligence Committee, and each year your committee holds a hearing on global security threats. Politico is reporting that the intelligence community is resisting coming forward in a public hearing because they're afraid of angering President Trump. What's the latest on that? Are you going to have a public hearing?
SCHIFF: Well, you know, unfortunately, I think those reports are all too accurate. The intelligence community is reluctant to have an open hearing, something that we had done every year prior to the Trump administration, because they're worried about angering the president.
Well, part of their job is to speak truth to power. And I worry that they're succumbing to the pressure of the administration. And I'll say something even more concerning to me, and that is the intelligence community is beginning to withhold documents from Congress on the issue of Ukraine. They appear to be succumbing to pressure from the administration. The NSA in particular is withholding what are potentially relevant documents to our oversight responsibilities on Ukraine, but also withholding documents potentially relevant that the senators might want to see during the trial.
That is deeply concerning. And there are signs that the CIA may be on the same tragic course. We are counting on the intelligence community not only to speak truth to power, but to resist pressure from the administration to withhold information from Congress because the administration fears that they incriminate them.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Congressman Schiff, thanks for your time this morning.
SCHIFF: Thank you.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Let's now hear from a member of the president's legal team, Alan Dershowitz, professor emeritus at Harvard Law School, also the author of the new book, "Guilt by Association."
Professor Dershowitz, thank you for joining us this morning. You just heard Congressman Schiff right there call your position that even if these facts are proved it's not impeachable absurdist.
DERSHOWITZ: Well it’s the same position that was successfully argued by former Justice Benjamin Curtis in the trial of Andrew Johnson. Andrew Johnson was impeached in part for non-criminal conduct. And Curtis, who was the dissenting judge in the Dred Scott case and one of the most eminent jurists in American history, made the argument that has been called absurdist, namely that when you read the text of the Constitution -- bribery, treason, bribery, and other high crimes and misdemeanors -- other really means that crimes and misdemeanors must be of kin -- akin to treason and bribery.
And he argued, very successfully, winning the case, that you needed proof of an actual crime. It needn't be a statutory crime, but it has to be criminal behavior, criminal in nature. And the allegations in the Johnson case were much akin to the allegations here -- abusive conduct, obstructive conduct -- and that lost.
So I am making an argument much like the argument made by the great Justice Curtis. And to call them absurdist is to, you know, insult one of the greatest jurists in American history. The argument is a strong one. The Senate should hear it. I'm privileged to be able to make it. I have a limited role in the case. I'm only in the case as of counsel on the constitutional criteria for impeachment. I'm not involved in the strategic decisions about witnesses or facts.
But I will make a strong argument that Justice Curtis was correct and that Congress was wrong in impeaching for these two articles.
STEPHANOPOULOS: As you know, the House materials have cited crimes that were -- crimes that were committed, as well.
DERSHOWITZ: But they weren't elements -- they are not articles of impeachment. The articles of impeachment are two non-criminal actions, namely obstruction of Congress and abuse of power, and those are -- would have to be voted on by the Senate.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Let me press that, though. Is it your position that President Trump should not be impeached even if all the evidence and arguments laid out by the House are accepted as fact?
DERSHOWITZ: That's right. When you have somebody who, for example, is indicted for a crime -- let's assume you have a lot of evidence -- but the grand jury simply indicts for something that's not a crime, and that's what happened here, you have a lot of evidence, disputed evidence, that could go both ways, but the vote was to impeach on abuse of power, which is not within the constitutional criteria for impeachment, and obstruction of Congress.
Those are both the kinds of things that led Hamilton and Madison -- talk about nightmare -- to regard that as the greatest nightmare, number one, giving Congress too much power to allow the president to serve at the will of Congress. And number two, as Hamilton put it, the greatest danger is turning impeachment into a question of who has the most votes in which House, and rather than having a consensus and a broad view of impeachable conduct.
STEPHANOPOULOS: The brief...
STEPHANOPOULOS: Go ahead sorry. The brief filed by the president's attorneys last night asserts several times that the president did nothing wrong with Ukraine. Do you agree with that?
DERSHOWITZ: I didn't sign that brief. I didn't even see the brief until after it was filed. That's not part of my mandate. My mandate is to determine what is a constitutionally authorized criteria for impeachment? And I strongly believe that abuse of power is so open-ended -- half of American presidents in history, from Adams to Jefferson to Lincoln to Roosevelt, have been accused by their political enemies of abusing their power. The framers didn't want to have that kind of criteria in the Constitution because it weaponizes impeachment for partisan purposes.
STEPHANOPOULOS: I understand that's your position, but that's not what I'm asking, because you're also a citizen. As a citizen, do you think it's OK for a president to solicit foreign interference in our election?
DERSHOWITZ: There's a big difference between what's OK -- what's OK determines who -- what you vote for who you vote for. I'm a liberal Democrat who's been critical of many of the policies of the president. I'm here as a constitutional lawyer, a lawyer who's taught for 50 years constitutional criminal procedure at Harvard, taught a course on impeachment, taught a course on constitutional litigation.
I'm here to lend my expertise on that issue and that issue alone, because that's the primary issue.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So you don't think it's OK?
DERSHOWITZ: If the allegations are not impeachable, then this trial should result in acquittal, regardless of whether the conduct is regarded as OK by you or by me or by voters. That's an issue for the voters.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But what do you think? I'm asking what you think.
DERSHOWITZ: I'm not -- as a lawyer in the case, I'm not going to present my personal views on what I think. I think that conduct does not rise to the level of an impeachable offense. And that's...
STEPHANOPOULOS: In your recent...
DERSHOWITZ: Go ahead.
STEPHANOPOULOS: In your recent book on impeachment, you did take a stand. You said, quote, and I want to show everybody right here, "An American should not collude with a foreign power in an effort to enhance his candidacy."
DERSHOWITZ: I agree. I agree with that.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Isn't that what happened here?
DERSHOWITZ: And I think many presidents -- I think many presidents in the past have made foreign policy decisions to enhance their electoral prospects. And if people think that this president did that, that's a factor that should enter into their decision who to vote for, among many, many other factors.
I'm not here for a political discussion. I'm a liberal Democrat who voted against President Trump and who voted for Hillary Clinton. I'm here to present a constitutional argument the way I did in the Clinton impeachment and the way I argued when I was on the national board of the ACLU in the Nixon administration.
STEPHANOPOULOS: The president's brief filed last night says very clearly the president did nothing wrong, and you're saying you're not willing to endorse that statement?
DERSHOWITZ: I did not read that brief or sign that brief. That's not part of my mandate. My mandate is to present the constitutional argument. And if the constitutional argument succeeds, we don't reach that issue, because you can't charge a president with impeachable conduct if it doesn't fit within the criteria for the Constitution. And I'm going to be echoing an argument made by an extremely distinguished former justice of the Supreme Court, the dissenter in Dred Scott, and I would hope that the Senate would be informed by that argument and the argument prevailed in the Andrew Johnson case, so it's anything but an absurdist argument.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You say you...
DERSHOWITZ: It's a very strong and powerful argument.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You say you voted for Hillary Clinton. Will you vote to re-elect President Trump?
DERSHOWITZ: I don't know who's going to run against him. And I don't what the elements will be. And I don't generally disclose who I'm going to vote for.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You just did.
DERSHOWITZ: I'm a liberal Democrat. I've always voted Democrat.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Let me -- final question. Senator Rubio and others have said that the Senate should not consider new evidence, documents, and witnesses, that it's the job of the Senate to work from the evidence compiled by the House. Is that correct as a matter of constitutional law?
DERSHOWITZ: The Constitution doesn't speak to that issue at all. It's an open issue. It's to be decided by the House with its rules, by the Senate with its rules. The Constitution really says the Senate is the judge and whatever the Senate decides, by a fair vote -- the one thing that's very clear is that if witnesses are permitted on one side, they have to be permitted on both sides. And if witnesses are permitted, it will delay the trial considerably, because the president will invoke executive privilege as to people like John Bolton that will have to go to the court and we'll have to have a resolution of that before the trial continues.
So that's not a constitutional issue. The Senate makes the decision. The chief justice presides. And people will have to decide whether to seek witnesses and whether the delay is warranted. My argument is going to focus purely on the constitutional issues.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Professor Dershowitz, thanks for your time this morning.
DERSHOWITZ: Thank you.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Up next, two senators who will judge the case for impeachment, Republican Richard Shelby, Democrat Cory Booker.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SHELBY: I believe that we shouldn't be afraid of any witnesses. What we're trying to do is arrive at the truth here. And the question is, will the witnesses after they're deposed add anything that we don't already have. If they're going to add something substantive, something substantial, something explosive that's one thing. But if they're not going to add to what already we have, that's another question.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: There was Senator Richard Shelby back during Clinton's Senate impeachment trial. The Republican senator from Alabama joins us this morning, as well as -- Senator Shelby, thank you for joining us this morning. Just showed that clip from President Clinton's impeachment trial. The Democrats are now calling for several witnesses who weren't heard during the House impeachment, so does that mean you support witnesses in this trial?
SHELBY: We don't know that yet. We have a two phase deal here, like we did under the Clinton trial. First we're going to hear from the managers and arguments on both sides and see what kind of case they have [And what we feel about it as senators.
We'll be sitting, as you know, George, as kind of like jurors, and we were sworn the other day to follow the facts and render a decision accordingly and so forth. So that what I intend to do. I have not prejudged anything. I have my own thoughts about things at this point. But we haven't heard any of the summaries, any of the arguments. I have kept up with -- as much as I could with a lot of anecdotal stuff that's gone on in the House, and what's been said on TV and written.
But at the end of the day, starting Tuesday, we're going to start the trial, and that's what we've got to focus on. The trial ought to be fair. I do have some observations, though, at this point, and they're early and they're not conclusive. One, it looks to me at this juncture that the House has got a weak hand. They're wanting us in the Senate to open the case up and to try everything -- re-try their stuff. We don't know what's going to come forth this week.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But on that -- on that point, Senator -- on that point, as you know, in the Clinton trial, they actually -- you actually voted to consider three witnesses who were not considered by the House, either.
SHELBY: I did.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But what you're seeing here are witnesses like John Bolton, like Mick Mulvaney, the White House chief of staff. Isn't what they could add -- doesn't that meet the test of new and relevant that you established in the Clinton trial?
SHELBY: Not -- what we did 21 years ago doesn't meet the test. What we do this week and what we hear and what are the facts that we hear will probably meet the test and determine whether we get additional witnesses that will help us make a relevant and a fair decision.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Isn't John Bolton relevant to this case?
SHELBY: Well, he could be. He might be. Would he add anything? I don't know yet. But I would be open to listening to the arguments. And I think that's the only way to be fair to both sides in this case. I think the House rushed to judgment on this. They could have pursued this a lot longer. But they made a political decision. And I think it's -- they've got problems now and they want us to unwind their problems.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Every single impeachment trial that's gone to a conclusion has heard from witnesses. What would be the reason not to hear from witnesses in this trial?
SHELBY: Well, if the case looks so flimsy, as some people say, if it's nothing to it, it doesn't rise to impeachable offenses, like a court of law, the court disposes of it. We don't know that yet. We should listen to the arguments, to the summation of the witnesses, what they will be going into, and go from there. That's what we did with Clinton, and then we made the second decision to subpoena some witnesses.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Do you agree with the position of Professor Dershowitz that even if all of the facts and allegations -- allegations and evidence presented by the House are accepted as fact it wouldn't be an impeachable offense?
SHELBY: Well, it looks to me that way at this point. But I would still wait and hear the arguments. I haven't focused on it. Professor Dershowitz is an esteemed scholar of constitutional law. And he's followed this and he's outspoken, and a lot of people follow him. We have a lot of respect for a lot of his opinions. But ultimately, we will make that decision in the Senate.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Setting aside whether it's an impeachable offense, do you think it was proper for the president to solicit foreign interference in our election?
SHELBY: Well, I don't know that has been actually proven. You know, that's all in dispute, of what happened, whether the Russians were involved in it, whether Ukrainians involved in it, who was involved in it, and to what extent. But I've never seen anything that -- where Trump actually was involved in.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, no, I asked if it was OK to solicit. We've seen the president in public ask the Ukrainians to get involved, ask the Chinese to get involved.
SHELBY: Well, those are just statements political. They make them all the time.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So it's OK?
SHELBY: I didn't say it was OK. I said people make them -- people do things. Things happen.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, this is the president of the United States.
SHELBY: Well, still the president of the United States is human. And he's going to make mistakes of judgment and everything else. They have historically, both parties, both from the beginning of our republic.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So you say it was a mistake, but not necessarily impeachable?
SHELBY: Well, I'd say -- I don't believe -- like Professor Dershowitz at this point -- that it rises to the standard of an impeachable offense. But I still think we should wait and see what comes out in the trial itself.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Senator Shelby, thank you for your time this morning.
SHELBY: Thank you, George.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And we are joined now by Democratic Senator Cory Booker. He joins us from Iowa this morning. Senator Booker, thank you for joining us this morning.
I just have to start -- I wanted to get your response to Professor Dershowitz and Senator Shelby. But first, you dropped out of the presidential race. Why are you still in Iowa?
BOOKER: I came out here to say thank you to the hundreds and hundreds of folks who helped me in this election. It's just incredible to see the kind of support we had here. And these are the folks we're going to need for the general election and for elections up and down the ballot.
So I'm here to say thank you and to let people know that I may not be in this race, but we've got to press on in the fight. This is the most consequential election of our lifetimes. And everybody has got to get involved, even if our top choice candidate is not the nominee.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You've just heard -- you're also going to be serving now as a judge and juror in this Senate trial of President Trump. You just heard Professor Dershowitz and Senator Shelby saying basically that -- at least Professor Dershowitz saying that even if everything in the House case is accepted as fact, it's not impeachable. Your response?
BOOKER: Honestly, that's just stunning to me. And I don't know what signal we're sending to future presidents if that's the new standard in America, where you can openly solicit foreign interference, where you can hold up taxpayer dollars that, in fact, the Government Accountability Office says was illegal to do so in order to extort, to leverage foreign interference in our elections. This is preposterous that this would not be an impeachable offense, that this standard in America is now that presidents could abuse their power to help in elections.
It's just -- this is unacceptable. And the fact that we can't even get Republicans to answer your question directly, is that behavior wrong? it is absolutely wrong. And this is the thing that really disturbs me, because we as senators have access to classified information, much of which is actually in the public sphere, about the incredibly detailed, earnest efforts by the Russians and others to interfere in our elections. This is real. From Madagascar to the E.U., democracy is under attack by at least Russia and more countries to try to undermine democracy as we know it.
We have a president that has openly been engaging with the Russians and others -- right now, in this case, with Ukraine -- to try to undermine our election. This is a real threat to this nation. And so what are we going to do when a president openly, unabashedly, in a way that's proven and provable, in the way that his top levels of his administration have said was done, what are we going to do when our democracy is under threat? Tolerate this behavior or do something to stop it and hold that person accountable?
STEPHANOPOULOS: One of the big open questions, of course -- probably the biggest open question right now in this trial is whether you're going to hear from new witnesses. One of the -- one of the proposals you're seeing floated now from some Republicans is reciprocity, that if the Democrats get the witnesses they're calling for Republicans to get the witnesses they are calling for, like Hunter Biden, is that something you can accept?
BOOKER: First of all, these assaults on the Biden family are not relevant to what's at issue in this case. And this is an invitation to try to muddle waters. This is what we've been hearing from many right-wing organizations, just try to muddy -- muddle the waters.
This is a trial going on in the Senate about the conduct of the president of the United States and what is -- what is the facts that should be presented should be germane to the issue at hand. And so I am going to press for what every objective juror should press for, is relevant fact witnesses coming before the Senate.
And this absurdity again that there are first hand witnesses, like Bolton, that would not come before the United States Senate, that means we won't have a kind of trial that every American should expect, where we get to the facts, that we get to the relevant information, and can discern the truth.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You know, President Trump and others have suggested that the Democrats are slow-walking this impeachment and Speaker Pelosi upheld the articles in order to help Joe Biden and hurt Bernie Sanders. What do you make of that? And as someone who was competing in Iowa, what impact do you think the trial will have on those senators who now have to serve?
BOOKER: Look, I worry about this election coming up a lot. And the -- I hear Republican arguments that, hey, let's just let the next -- the voters decide. It's almost like saying that the Astros have cheated and we're going to decide whether to hold the Astros accountable by how they do in the next game.
Our democracy is under attack. It is under ongoing attack. We have a president that is cooperating or leveraging, working with foreign powers to try to undermine the fairness of an election. We need to act. We need to act now.
And all of us -- and I know my senators. You just had a colleague that I am friends with, Richard Shelby. I know the goodness of this country, the decency of folks. This is a moment for us to get out of our partisan corners and to look at the long arc of history, and this incredible experiment with democracy that's been going on for a couple centuries plus right now.
We are -- history has its eyes on us. How are we going to operate? We cannot cave to partisanship and tribalism that's destroying our nation. In this moment, we've got to let our highest selves come through and sit in those seats and uphold the oath we all just swore last week and do right by our nation to ensure that this democracy endures.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Do you expect to endorse another candidate for president on the Democratic side before Iowa?
BOOKER: I'm not sure. Look, I'm literally still days -- just days from stepping out of this race. The values that I ran for, just what I mentioned relevant to this impeachment trial -- we are a nation that has to come back together. The lines that divide us, I don't care what our TV stations tell us, cable news, the lines that divide us are not as strong as the ties that bind us as a nation.
The greatest threat I see right now is we can't even make our civic spaces reflect the things we even agree on. We agree on common sense gun safety. We agree on infrastructure. So many things we agree on that we can't get done anymore. And our competitor nations -- heck, China has just built 18,000 miles of high-speed rail and the busiest rail corridor in North America, going from Boston to Washington, D.C., runs half an hour slower than it did in the 1960s.
Our inability to come together and stand together as a nation is undermining our competitiveness. I want to support a candidate that, yeah, wants to send Mitch McConnell to the back benches, yeah, wants to beat Donald Trump, but also understands that beating Donald Trump is the floor, not the ceiling. It may get us out of a terrible valley, but we're called as a nation to go to the mountaintop.
And so I'm going to think hard about who to endorse, because those are the values I ran for. And whoever the next president of the United States is, they've got to be able to heal this nation, remind us that the call of every generation of Americans is to more indivisible back into this one nation under God.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Senator Booker, thank you for your time this morning.
BOOKER: Thank you.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Roundtable is up next. We'll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think you called me a liar on national TV.
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: What?
WARREN: I think you called me a liar on national TV.
SANDERS: No, let's not do it right now. You want to have that discussion, we'll have that discussion.
SANDERS: You called me a liar. You told me -- all right, let's not do it now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: The mics are always hot. Reminder there after the debate in Iowa this week between Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.
We're going to get into that in a little bit, but we're also going to start, though, on our roundtable with what's next in impeachment.
We’re joined by Republican strategist Sara Fagen, who served as the White House political affairs director under George W. Bush; Rahm Emanuel, former mayor of Chicago and chief of staff to President Obama; former DNC chair, Fox News contributor, Donna Brazile; and our chief political analyst, Matthew Dowd.
And, Sara, let me begin with you. As we head in this impeachment, the country seems basically divided, seems extremely unlikely the president will get convicted. But assess the political risks and reward for each side going in?
SARA FAGEN, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: So, I think they’re -- we're undervaluing the importance of the impeachment in the Democratic primary, and overvaluing it in the general election. I think in many respects, the country looks at this as a political exercise. It was a political exercise in the House, and the country as an electorate, as a whole has sort of moved on.
But for the Democrats, this is going to be everything over the next couple of weeks. And the way these senators handle themselves, other candidates on the trail, could have a very big difference in sort of who wins Iowa, New Hampshire and these next caucuses.
RAHM EMANUEL, ABC NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Well, here's how I take a look at it. This is totally different than '98, and the reason is, Newt Gingrich pursued the case and lost six seats in 100 years. It never happened before.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And trial then after that.
EMANUEL: Right, but -- and he got booted.
We’ve have had four elections while the impeachment had gone on, governor in Louisiana, Kentucky, Virginia and Delaware County in Pennsylvania. This is no problem for the Democrats. They have cleanly swept all of those areas.
What actually is a problem here, politically, is for the Republicans in the Senate. We know what's going to happen with Trump. The fact is if you vote no on witnesses, that's going to come back to haunt you. You vote note on fact -- on documents, that's going to come back to haunt up.
We’ve had a test case already, four elections -- Kentucky, Louisiana, not blue states, Virginia, purple state, Delaware County in Pennsylvania, which has five Republicans, all got swept out. You already know the electoral impact of the impeachment.
Democrats are not losing like the Republicans in '98 did, and the fact is the Senate majority is at risk here as you vote no where 75 percent of the American people ready to say they want witnesses, and that's going to come back to haunt them --
STEPHANOPOULOS: I want to get to Donna.
But, first, let me push that back to you because it seems like some of the Republican senators are damned if they do, and damned if they don't. If Rahm is right about the general election, it could hurt them in the general election, but I think some of the senators up feel that if they vote for the witnesses now, they're going to enrage -- enrage Trump supporters and draw themselves a primary.
FAGEN: I think that's true, although if you sort of look at the more moderate Republican senators, they have put a foot forward that they're likely to vote in favor of witnesses and documents.
So, it seems more likely to me than not that we will, in fact, have these witnesses, at the end of the day.
Having said that, let's sort of consider, though, the politics of the presidential election, and the president having had so much thrown at him since being put in office. And we see his favorable rating going up during this impeachment.
And, yes, there may be a few Republicans who have challenges, but there's going to be a bunch of Democrats who have challenges as well, because we're assuming that these witnesses are going to be one-sided, that we're only going to have the president's witnesses, his staff.
Republicans are not going to allow witnesses -- the Democrats to select witnesses.
STEPHANOPOULOS: It'll be reciprocal.
FAGEN: It'll be reciprocal.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And that's what I want to bring to Matt, because if Sara is right that witnesses are more likely than not -- and I'm not sure either way at this point.
But if she if she is right, all bets are off once you start having witnesses in the Senate.
MATTHEW DOWD, ABC NEWS CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: It completely changes the process, of course, of this. And it changes the timing of this.
It goes on for weeks and weeks and weeks, through the entirety of this. And it puts -- then it -- then I think it puts the Republicans in an even worse position, because if witnesses come forward and compromise the president's position, and they still vote to not convict the president in the midst of that, that's an even bigger problem than not having witnesses in this.
I think there's also another huge difference between this impeachment time and Bill Clinton, is, Bill Clinton had a 73 percent approval rating in the midst of impeachment.
DOWD: Donald Trump's approval rating today is 42 or 43 percent. It was 42 or 43 percent 60 days ago. It was 42 or 43 percent six months ago. It was 42 or 43 percent a year ago.
And that, to me -- if you're looking at something to focus on in an election -- and Sara knows this full well, having -- she and I having gone through the George W. Bush election in 2003 and 2004 -- the president's job approval rating is the most determinative factor of whether or not a president is reelected, because presidents almost always get within a point or two of what their job approval number is.
And so anything that doesn't change that -- and the other factor in this is, we have an economy that is as strong as ever, that in many Americans' mind, data points and all that...
STEPHANOPOULOS: But let me press you on that.
Let me press you on the approval rating. Because we're so tribal now, because we're so polarized right now, is a 42 or 43 like a 49 or a 50?
FAGEN: It's not. It's not today.
DOWD: 2012 -- if you remember 2012, we were -- we're not that much more tribalized today than we were in 2012, when Republicans were trying to do anything.
DONNA BRAZILE, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: George...
STEPHANOPOULOS: Go ahead, Donna.
BRAZILE: Well, first of all, I have been listening and I have been quiet, which is unusual.
BRAZILE: But the reason why...
EMANUEL: We were all worried about you for a second.
BRAZILE: Well, I understand, but don't worry.
You know, I have taken time to read what the framers wrote. And this was a very weighty decision, whether the conversation between Mr. Hamilton and Mr. Madison, and the comments made by Mr. Mason.
The impeachment or removal of a president was something that they took time out to spell out. And for the Senate to try to rush through this without hearing all of the evidence, without hearing from the witnesses, without getting to the meat and bones of what the House has charged the president with, it would be a huge mistake.
We shouldn't weigh it just by the politics of the moment. We should weigh it by the history. This is the third time a president...
FAGEN: The House failed to do their job.
EMANUEL: No, but here's the thing.
You're going to have a vote; 75 percent of American people are for witnesses. You vote no, that's going to be a rendezvous with your record when you're up in the Senate.
Number two, if the Democrats were smart, once they vote no on the witnesses, bifurcate and say, OK, we want the documents. Then how do you back up into that? You got to parallel park into that position.
And now the other thing is, in the last three months, tell me one piece of evidence that has come out that has worked to Donald Trump's point that I was actually worried about the Ukrainian corruption.
You cannot be in a position, you cannot be in a position that we all got scared after 2016 Russia was involved in election, regardless of party. We spent -- we're spending millions of dollars trying to basically protect our electoral system.
If you worry about that, and you're willing to vote to spend money to protect the integrity of an election, you have a president of the United States -- just this is the core issue -- who has invited Russia, China and Ukraine to get involved in our election.
If it's worthy to be concerned and spend money because you're worried about foreign influence, how do you then permit a president of the United States to welcomely invite Ukrainian involvement in our elections?
STEPHANOPOULOS: I want to put that question to Sara, because one of the things we saw -- we saw it with Senator Shelby, we have seen it with others, even Alan Dershowitz -- a lot of Republican senators not willing to say what the president did was wrong.
It makes them a little bit uncomfortable. At the end, are they going to basically have to move towards the Dershowitz position, sort of saying that, regardless of whether it's right or wrong, it's not impeachable, that they can't seem to be endorsing this interference in our election?
FAGEN: Well, I think the question really is, you know, there was no actual investigation. And the aid was not ultimately withheld. So, at the end of the day, yeah, that's right.
Was the action impeachable? No. It doesn't appear so.
And so the question and the debate about all these witnesses, what new are we going to learn when there was no investigation, and Ukraine got its aid?
BRAZILE: GAO just determined this past week that the president violated the law. It was a crime...
EMANUEL: Broke the law, not violated. He broke the law.
BRAZILE: Thank you, babe.
EMANUEL: I'm with you.
BRAZILE: All right, so, the point is, Sara, is that this evidence continue to trickle out. None of it exonerating the president or his point of view, whether it's just this interview that what's his name?
STEPHANOPOULOS: Lev Parnas.
BRAZILE: Lev -- George, I mean there was so much dirt going on, and the threatening of our ambassador.
This, look, the president has to do more than just present this little six-page, silly argument that I did nothing wrong. He needs to understand that he will have to respond to the evidence that has already been accumulating, the evidence that is continuing to come.
DOWD: I want to go off something Donna said earlier, which is the consequential historical moment of this, which is profound, for many different reasons. The first of which is the senators -- the framers and founders of our country envisioned a president who might usurp power and take power and abuse power. They envisioned that, which is why they put checks and balances, which is why they put impeachment, which is why they put a number of checks in.
What the founders never envisioned was a United States senate that would abdicate their responsibility in an impartial way to hold a president accountable. And to me, a year from tomorrow, we're going to inaugurate a president, one year from tomorrow, January 20, 2021, we're going to inaugurate a president. That inauguration, to me, will probably be the most profound inauguration of a president since 1861.
EMANUEL: But here's the big thing, you have a split screen. Step back. Ukraine is about to investigate whether, in fact, the ambassador has been trailed and something and broke the law. The most deliberative body in the world, the United States Senate, is about to have a trial -- no witnesses allowed, no documents allowed.
FAGEN: We don't know.
EMANUEL: No, we do know. But the predetermined version is this -- we haven't had a show trial like this since Moscow.
FAGEN: But it is so ironic that the House rushes the impeachment. They don't do the difficult work of debating these privilege arguments. They want to get impeachment done at all costs. They don't even have this Lev Parnas information in their case, and now somehow the Senate Republicans, if they don't go along with the Democrat's strategy, are part of a criminal conspiracy to hold up the president. It's a farce. It's the whole thing, it's a political joke.
DOWD: Sara, Sara, Sara, the senator made an argument they fought to keep from having it.
So, the Republicans are making an argument, why didn't you call these witnesses. Why didn't you get this stuff beforehand? And why are you just providing us with this?
Well, they're the reason why there was no witnesses, there was no documents and all that. And now they want to have -- there's a reason why in the constitution it says a trial, it doesn't say a rubber stamp.
FAGEN: The House could have done this work if they chose to.
EMANUEL: There's a difference between process and product. And the fact is, neither Senator Shelby or Alan Dershowitz, would defend what the president did, so the question is -- a core question, forget all the process, was a crime committed by asking Ukraine to come and be involved in our election, just like was it a problem that Russia was involved in our election, or the president asking China?
He has a pattern and practice of always asking foreign powers. There's a reason the United States, in the constitution, beyond all the checks and balances, does not want a foreign born president, because you want a country, and a chief executive, who is looking for our interests. And nobody would defend what the president did on substance.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Donna, I want to bring up something else that Sara brought about how this could end up hurting Democrats over the next couple of weeks as we head into Iowa. You obviously worked on Democratic presidential campaigns. What does it mean for Bernie Sanders, for Elizabeth Warren, for Amy Klobuchar, over these next couple of weeks to be pinned down in the senate?
Is it fatal? Does it matter at all?
BRAZILE: And Michael Bennet. And I had to mention it because he's the fourth Senator whose -- his name might come up during the caucus process.
Look, I think it's already baked in. I mean, the voters know who they are, and if they can reach viability...
STEPHANOPOULOS: 15 percent.
BRAZILE: 15 percent threshold and deal with all these new caucus rules, which will be crazy at first to understand how do you get to 41 pledged delegates when we're counting the raw vote, and then we're counting the vote after raw vote, after people assemble? We might end up with four people claiming victory after the Iowa caucuses.
STEPHANOPOULOS: It looks like a dog fight right now.
So, you've worked on Iowa caucuses on the Republican side, this Democratic win is so hard to read this close to the election.
FAGEN: Well, there are four candidates that are genuinely in the hunt, but it almost doesn't necessarily matter who the top vote getter is. I think the person who is the second choice among the caucus attendees might be the person best --
STEPHANOPOULOS: Because then they can win the second ballot, right?
FAGEN: Yes, and they will have the momentum, you know, heading into New Hampshire, which will likely be the first decisive contest in this race.
EMANUEL: Here -- three things real quick. One, you're going to learn out of Iowa who's not going to be the nominee, not who's going to be the nominee.
Number two, I'm more interested in turnout numbers. Meaning, did the debates and all this process energize our party or exhaust our party? And that's going to tell you a lot about the future.
Number three, which I think is really important in this whole process, and what's going to happen, at the end of the day, twists and turns. We're going to come down to, there's going to be one candidate on account of what I call the revolutionary pool, and one candidate out of the reform pool. And this is going to go play out a long time, all the way through till Milwaukee.
You're going to have four, possibly five, but more likely four seats coming out of Iowa. We're going to know who isn't our nominee, not who is our nominee.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Normally you have three seats coming out of Iowa. I think Rahm's right, you could have four this time, and that would leave two in the middle lane that Rahm is talking about, Pete Buttigieg and Joe Biden, and two in the liberal lane, progressive lane, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.
DOWD: Well it -- I think what we're likely to have is the first four contests. I mean we don't have any idea, the twists and turns of this, because I could give you a scenario where this race is done by New Hampshire -- by -- after New Hampshire. If Joe Biden wins Iowa and then he wins New Hampshire, the race is basically over because he wins South Carolina and wins all the other big states. If Joe Biden loses the first two, that's a huge problem for him.
STEPHANOPOULOS: He's got to win South Carolina.
DOWD: And then if Pete Buttigieg doesn't win, Bernie Sanders wins the first one --
DOWD: And Bernie Sanders wins the second one, that begins to provide an opening for somebody like Michael Bloomberg in the bigger states down the road.
But I think, in the end, is that -- I mean the order is not going to matter as much as who are the -- who are the candidates that are gone.
BRAZILE: I've got to make one last point. Remember, there will be satellite caucuses all throughout the country, as well as in the state of Iowa. Two in Chicago, in case you want to just go and see, the Republic of Georgia, Scotland and in France.
STEPHANOPOULOS: That will be the last point. We're out of time.
We'll be right back.
STEPHANOPOULOS: That is all for us today. Thanks for sharing part of your Sunday with us.
Tune in Tuesday for ABC's live coverage of the impeachment trial. I'll be anchoring along with our political and legal team beginning at 1:00pm Eastern.
And I'll see you tomorrow on "GMA."