Impeachment 'marginally' helps Trump now but won’t be a factor in election: Christie

The Powerhouse Roundtable debates the politics of impeachment and discusses the latest in the 2020 election just before the Iowa caucus on "This Week."
24:40 | 02/02/20

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Transcript for Impeachment 'marginally' helps Trump now but won’t be a factor in election: Christie
We had a strong case of impeachment of the president of the United States. No matter what the senators have the courage or not to do, he'll be impeached forever. Why am I not worried? I should be worried. You know, remember Nixon, it was a dark period. A very dark period. You think about it. With Clinton, it wasn't good. They say that with Johnson, a long time ago, none of us remember, but they say it was a very dark period. This is a happy period for us. President and speaker Pelosi talking about impeachment. Let's talk about it now on our roundtable. Joined by Chris Christie, Rahm Emanuel, Matthew dowd, Sara Fagen and Yvette Simpson. C eo of democracy for America. Acquittal certain to come on Wednesday, what does it mean? The big challenge is, in 1998 the Republicans looked like they politicized impeachment. They suffered something that never happened in a hundred years. They lost six seats. Newt Gingrich was thrown out. I think the Republicans now having overshot '98 are going to pay the penalty for undershooting this time and playing politics. The Democrats get credit for actually once in their lifetime, laserlike focus on a singular message -- witnesses and documents. They worked with the public. The five U.S. Senators who said no to that, they politicized the process, they back home will look like they enabled and exonerated Donald Trump. He'll get a get out of jail card and he's going to use it and one thing that we know with absolute certainty over the next nine months their vote has to stand the test of time as more comes out. Those are the senators up for even though Lamar Alexander when they came out with votes on Friday said they didn't think what the president was right. Complete exoneration. Maybe as early as Tuesday night. Absolutely. He'll claim complete exoneration. One thing that I'll disagree with Rahm the politicalization started with impeachment and what the Democrats and Nancy Pelosi in particular understood a long time ago if you don't finish the deal on the American people will wonder, what was this all about? I don't think it will be a factor in the election. I think that it marginally helps the president right now. But over the long haul, I don't think those votes are going to matter. People are going to forget about this. Our news cycle is so heart. People aren't going to care about this come November. Crow any this is an issue? The politics of this the Democrats at least showed witnesses, they showed they were actually doing the work to have the senate to follow no witnesses, no documents, Bolton comes forward with this testimony, they ignore it, they say they know he did something wrong. But they're not going to do anything about it. People are upset and they're going to continue to get upset because this is about a bigger picture, about whether the president should have more power than the average person, whether they should have more power than the senate. Executive power is what people worry about. What I'm hearing from people, they think our democracy, our republic is at stake. They'll continue to be worried about that. Every single the president does something wrong, a new piece of evidence comes forward, Bolton's book comes out, people will be upset with these senators. Guess what, if you presented witnesses and documents and voted against removal would have been fine. No president has been removed before. I think people would have been, okay, they at least went through the trial. We couldn't get to 67 that's okay. Voters are so much more sophisticated than that. Chris is right. Voters see this for what it is. It was a political exercise in the house, and it was a political exercise in the senate, and the country's going to move on and it's possible some Republican candidates and incumbents will lose, it's not because whether they voted for documents or witnesses. Here's the thing I would say, in 2018, the reason Democrats did very well is because it was seen as Donald Trump needed a checkmate. The fact is, the five Republican senators they were seen as enablers and exonators and that will decouple these races. They're going to look at 2020 for a checkmate on this president. I think the bigger, broader issue with political dynamics on this, we spent three years, everything changes so suddenly. Information is still going to come out. The bigger concern is, what does the constitutional checks and balances? What are the constitutional checks and balances? The guardrails put in place by founders that no longer seem to be in place anymore. Now, most of the Republicans admit that the president did something well -- In the senate, not in the house. Even the you talk to Republicans in the house, they'd say he shouldn't have done it. So we now have advocated our responsibility to have checks and balances. A co-equal branch of government. A huge constitutional concern. I don't think it's a crisis. One other thing that I want to put on voters is that the framers not only put these guardrails in place, but we can put all these in place unless the virtue of the public, unless the public decides on their own that this is the kind of country we that puts the public interests ahead of personal interests, if voters who start looking at this politics like they're all corrupt, they're all bad, they're all this, we really have a constitutional republic problem. And we're there. The issue here is, Democrats and Republicans just don't agree. Democrats act like, you know, how dare you not have witnesses and documents. You know, we're saving the republic. And you guys are being partisan. When in fact this whole thing is partisan. And the realityis , we're ten months away from election. Voters will get to decide whether this is important or not. People don't give senator Alexander enough credit. I thought his statement was incredibly thoughtful which is to say, I didn't agree with what trump did, I thought it was wrong, but it's not impeachable. It's a copout. No, it's not a copout. It's a harder decision to vote for witnesses and documents. I think if we get to the point where we're basically say we're in an election year, if a president is cheating in order to win an election, which he would do in an election year, we should wait for the public. Akin to this. Think about this. If a person cheats on exam in college. He did. Yes, he did. Then you find out he's trying to cheat on the next exam, he's not cheating on the next exam -- Hold on a second. I want to bring this question to Chris. One thing, we've seen a pattern with president trump, the day after he fires James Comey, he's in the oval office with 2 Russia's foreign minister, basically bragging about it. The day after Mueller finishes his testimony in July 2019, he has the phone call with president zelensky, what message is he going to take away and could it lead to more problematic behavior? Listen, it's not going to lead to any different behavior that happened all along. Let me finish. All right. I'm here to help you. I understand it's concerning to you. You should be concerned about Bernie Sanders, not about Donald Trump. Here's the thing, I said this a dozen times on the show, this is who Donald Trump is, this is people who voted for, he acted this way during the campaign, I was on that stage campaigning against him. This is the way he acts, this is what he says and what he does and who he is and who the American people elected in 2016. You know, if people are so concerned about this as Yvette is hearing, why is he now ahead in every one of the important states? Over every Democrat, in Wisconsin, in Michigan, in Ohio. That depends on the polls. The most recent polls show him ahead. If this was such a crisis, he would be losing. It wouldn't be close. The American people don't see it that way. I understand that there's a lot of people see it differently. That's what elections are about. Let's have the election and get it done. Two things. One is, I don't think impeachment just goes into the rearview mirror, it will be a shadow over the election and biggest shadow over the five Republican senators. Number two, here's what I would say for trump, still the opportunity for Democrats if we seize it, open question, the fact is, if you look at the polling on consumer sentiment it's going up. His numbers haven't moved. There's basically, those two numbers have dislodged from each other and every president in history, the economy is the key factor and what's happened -- wait a second -- what has happened to him is, his numbers have actually tanked. He's going to pay a price if we offer in this period, he has frightened the voters we have to reassure voters. Who we will nominate will reassure them or frighten them even more. I want to get to Iowa in a second. Another question for Sara, on this point, right now, impeachment is what it is. What will come out in the next several months. We'll hear from John Bolton, whether that matters or not we'll find out. Just on Friday night, midnight filing from the justice department, 24 e-mails about what the president believed about this military aid and the conditioning. You got court cases with don mcgahn, you got southern district investigating Rudy Giuliani, one thing I'm surprised about is how unconcern what's coming next a lot of senators facing re-election You could have things that could come out. There's another investigation that's happening. The Durham investigation. Which may take us back to the Mueller report and the origination of it. This could work both ways. Democrats have to be so frustrated to be sitting in the position they are in today. Which is, you have a president who went through the Mueller investigation, been impeached, job approval has never hit 50%, about to stand and give a state of the union address, he's going to be able to talk about trade deals a strong economy, and success in across the globe, actually, he has a very strong record to go on and here we are on the face of potentially a Bernie Sanders' nomination for their party. They have to be exhausted by those things. Well, let's talk about this. One person who's pretty concerned Bern Sanders' nomination for the party is Hillary Clinton. She's been speaking out the last several days. Let's take a look. His campaign and his principal supporters were just very difficult, and really, constantly, not just attacking me, but my supporters. We get to the convention, they're booing Michelle Obama, John Lewis. I mean, it was very distressing. Yvette, you're excited about Bernie Sanders. But one of the things that her former spokesperson made last night in response to booing we all saw on Friday night. Bernie Sanders, whoever gets the democratic nomination, will need those votes that Hillary Clinton got. We're talking about Donald Trump. Arguably in 2016 we didn't know what we were getting. Anybody who is attacking particularly, someone who's not running and not acting as surrogate as an candidate, attacking an active presidential candidate, rather than attacking Donald Trump is a distraction. We have committed in the Progressive movement, if Joe Biden is the nominee, we're going to come together and kick Donald Trump's butt. Why is Hillary Rodham Clinton is talking about a candidate who's our frontrunner. The DNC sets the process. He has to go through the process. If he comes out as our nominee we should be supportive. Here's what I think is a real challenge for Democrats on the eve of Iowa. What's a bigger threat for our party? I come to this point which is, are we going to nominate somebody who can't win or are we going to risk a rupture in the party that's irreparable? Now, in 1992, '96, 2008, 2012 and in 2018, the Democrats showed a formula for winning nationally. And the question is, are we going to follow that formula or throw the playbook out and try something different? I'll say one thing about Bernie Sanders, his playbook is no different than Donald Trump. Both rely on the fact that you don't need fickle swing voters, if you just talk to your base and energize the people that should vote for you can win. I just say to all those who tattoo, put the number of your tattoo, 270 electoral votes, I don't want to win the popular vote and lose the electoral vote one more time. I think a couple of things on this. First, you can disagree with Bernie on issues. But one of the things that drives his support is he's viewed was a authentic. Similar to -- Consistent for 30 years. Similar with Donald Trump. You can hate what he says but people thought he speaks from his guts. Bernie is viewed as authentic. It's a contrast with many in the field. One thing that Nate said earlier with you, George, we have no idea. We have no idea what's going to happen. Because any order of finish with any margin in Iowa could change the entirety of this race quickly. And then New Hampshire comes, and then Nevada comes and then South Carolina comes. All of that, we have the end result of this at the convention in July which looks increasingly like it's not going to be a first ballot for anybody. Because of how divided this field is. Then we have a convention in July, and so I actually think one of the part of the news this week is the opening that's being provided more and more for somebody like Michael Bloomberg, as the opening increases, Bernie emerging at some point, mayor Bloomberg has an unlimited checkbook. Sara, let me bring that to you. There are two paths that really open the door to Mike Bloomberg. Either Bernie sweeps the table which makes Joe Biden not all that viable in South Carolina. You get to supertuesday, Mike Bloomberg with all that money could be the moderate alternative. If there's just a muddle and he's got that hundred of millions of dollars to spend. Matt's right. The Iowa caucus is going to be muddled no matter what happens. So in the scenario, where we split votes in these upcoming caucuses and primaries, you get to supertuesday and you have split delegate counts, Mike Bloomberg becomes a very attractive candidate. Part of what I said earlier, Democrats are freaking out because of those facts. Trump has had all these issues during his presidency and it appears today to be poised for re-election and Bernie Sanders isn't going to beat him. Pete buttigieg isn't going to beat him. It's possibly that Michael Bloomberg could beat him. It's possible that Joe Biden could beat him. But Joe Biden has the least amount of money of anyone in the field. Yvette, I see your shaking your head. I'm not freaking out. It's a near certainty Tuesday, he did it last year, we'll hear the word socialism on Tuesday night from president trump. Socialism still is not popular in the United States. Is that a liability for Bernie Sanders? I still don't think it is. Here's why, the reality is if you take Elizabeth Warren and you take Bernie Sanders what they're building they're talking to a part of our base that we should be talking to every time. He's getting them fired them up. He's talk about things that matter. He's talking about bringing us together. Trying to provide education for free for everyone. And so I think that message is going resonate. His base is very diverse. He has no plan to pay for it. He's a grumpy, angry person on the stump, and he won't be elected president. Donald Trump -- much worse. Will you take a bet on whether socialism will come up on Tuesday? It's a done deal. On top of that, respond to this as well, the last several tweets from the president all going after Mike Bloomberg. Listen, I disagree on that one with the president. I don't think there's any chance that Bloomberg is the nominee. Bernie Sanders isn't stupid. Sanders emerging from these first three. What you're going to see on TV from Sanders, you'll see Mike Bloomberg endorsing Rudy Giuliani, endorsing John McCain and not lukewarm, enthusiastic. If you're telling me that the energized part of the democratic party is going to go, we can trust Mike Bloomberg, we can trust Mike Bloomberg, no one trusts Mike Bloomberg. Because Mike Bloomberg is for Mike Bloomberg. He was a Republican when it was convenient. Then when it was not so great to be a Republican during the Iraq war, he became an independent. When he's not an independent anymore because that doesn't work he becomes a Democrat. You just seem upset you're not one of them. Believe me -- Here's the thing, the point about rupture, Bernie Sanders never joined the democratic party. Mike Bloomberg moves parties. One of the challenges for the party is this possibility and if it's threat of a rupture in the party. One other thing. Vote for trump over Bernie Sanders? Whether there's an energy to it in Arizona, Wisconsin, Michigan. I'd just make this point, I do think people are angry about what happened in the senate, and the irony of this whole situation is Bernie Sanders is probably the beneficiary of this. You don't need a moderate, you go with -- What's fascinating about the angry in the democratic party, on this issue of Donald Trump and usurping powers, I'd like the Democrats to answer this question because they've been in conflict on this, are they going to roll back the power of the chief executive when they're trying to trying to put policies in place? The problem is, an overexecuted executive. Underexecuted judicial. You'll use the power for whatever we want to do -- Bernie Sanders is writing up a list of executive orders. Game, set, match. You're making the argument that Donald Trump is taking too much power -- But the benefit to most Americans. Benefit most Americans. Sara. Many ways, Democrats find themselves in this situation that Republicans found themselves in '16. There's a candidate emerging that the mainline party establishment is not far. And you know, Chris makes some very good points about Bloomberg. Taking your thesis he won't be the nominee and considering to me, Biden looks really weak right now, he could win south Carolina, he could have a flood of cash come in. There are scenarios where he's the nominee, but he hooks weak now. If Bloomberg can't win and Biden can't win. Let me tell you something, Donald Trump is going to win. You remember from 1992 in March or April of 1992 -- Clinton was in third. Clinton was in third. Ross Perot was first. The field looked completely in disarray. No one thought this candidate completely harmed could win this. They come out of convention, 17 points ahead at the convention. Lots of things can happen in this race. Lots of things can happen. I want to bring this to Rahm, if the nominee is either Bloomberg or Sanders, the trump parallel really holds, right. I mean, that's broken democratic party that's been taken over a nondemocratic. We're right twice a day. The fact is, one of the threats to the party right now is a rupture in the core, it played out in 2016. And I want to say this, the reason Donald Trump is vulnerable in this economy is because the fact he's frightened people over the last three years, our goal is to have a nominee that reassures them. He's not getting the political benefit of this economy. He'll run on three things -- he'll run on 3.5% unemployment, 3% wage growth and 3% ek -- equity in your home. The Democrats will run on housing, health care and higher education. If we have a candidate who reassures people who will govern without this -- people don't want four more years of this tweet -- Fatigue. They're exhausted. They're not angry. They're exhausted. The fact is, we as a party to win Arizona, to win Wisconsin, to win in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and to win, being viable in North Carolina need a candidate that moves those swing moderate voters to our camp. That's what happened for Clinton and Obama and 2018. We may see -- we showed part of one of president's ad. Another one deals with criminal justice issues. It seems like his campaign is conscious of this issue, is he? He is. Let me tell you, I was at the rally he had in New Jersey Tuesday night. I have never seen him stick so close to prompter. There was not, you know, where we have seen in most of his rallies, extend from 60 minutes to 90 minutes, because he does 30 minutes of riffing on other stuff. He enjoys doing that. He didn't do it Tuesday night. Why? In New Jersey, he's in a blue state, secondly he understands what he's got to do to win. Now, it doesn't mean he'll every day. I think he'll be closer to prompter than people expect at at the state of the union. He was marking up the speech that was given to him on the plane on the way up to new Jersey. He was crafting it to what he thought he wants the re-elect message to be. Remember something, this guy I have known him for 18 years. He's practical. He wants to win. One thing you got to remember in the last hundred years four incumbents running for re-election have lost. Here, Gerald Ford, George Bush. They all had even depression or a recession. This is a steep climb, if -- we have the opportunity, though, the economy is not an ally here, obviously, if you're trying to oust an incumbent. The opportunity because of who he is on character. Who we nominate has to accentuate that strength. Two different metrics. If you go after the economy, he wins. The approval rating he lose and there's delta between his approval on the economy and his approval on him overall is at 43%. His overall approval he can't win an election. Double down on your base and get people excited to come out. You need swing voters. You can't get to 270 without swing voters. We might just keep going here.

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

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