Trump 'doesn't have tactics. This is him.': Chris Christie on impeachment

The Powerhouse Roundtable debates the politics of impeachment on "This Week."
10:30 | 12/15/19

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Transcript for Trump 'doesn't have tactics. This is him.': Chris Christie on impeachment
The clerk will report. 27 members have voted aye. 11 members have voted no. Pursuant to the resolution, article 1, that resolution is adopted and will be reported to the house. The clerk will report. Mr. Chairman, there are 21 ayes and 16 noes. Article 1 is agreed to. The clerk will report. Mr. Chairman, there are 23 ayes and 17 noes. The article is agreed to. Scenes from three impeachments right there, and the house judiciary committee. We are joined by our regular contributor Chris Christie, and Patrick Gaspard, president of the open society foundation, and ambassador to South Africa under president Obama. Ruth Marcus is here, is author of "Supreme ambition" and rich Lowry, editor of "The national review." Welcome to you all. Let me begin with you. We saw the judiciary committee three times going back to 1973. There is some consistency, and some overlap in the impeachment articles of those three very inconsistent response. So we have seen each time the response progressively more partisan. That's no surprise in the era we're living in right now. Especially since we know the conversation that's taking place in congress is one that's being played for television and being played for November of next year. It has very, very little to do regrettably with the rule of law irrespective of the abuse that our foreign service officers incurred from the state department from the white house. Ukraine, itself sovereignty was abandoned by Russia, and the president said, I need you to do us a favor, a political favor. You said this week that impeachment is becoming somewhat normalized. 'Re Saul -- we're all saying this is historic, but basically this is now a pro Forma exercise in my view. The Democrats want to get it off their plate as soon as possible. It's not convulsing the nation. Even democratic candidates aren't talking about it very much on the campaign trail. I tend to believe when he gets acquitted in the senate as he inevitably will, that this like so many over things in the trump era, and two weeks later, it will feel like it happened a decade ago, and it will have very little effect on the politics going forward. Ruth Marcus, the Democrats may not be talking about it as much -- I don't know if that's exactly true, but we know that president trump is talking about it a lot, tweeting about it a lot, including something you should know he said, after watching the disgraceful way that Brett Kavanaugh was treated by the Democrats and now seeing first hand the same radical left, do nothing DEMs are treating the whole impeachment hoax. I see why so many DEMs are voting Republican. You see strong echoes between the Kavanaugh confirmation and what's going on right now. Sure, and I think the biggest echo is something you alluded to earlier, the increasing tribalism, the reflexive partisanship. I spent yesterday -- which we saw in Kavanaugh, everybody goes to their sides. The facts are not necessarily what is determining their decision-making. It's the desired outcome, and the desire to find facts depends on which side you're on, and what you want the outcome to be. I spent yesterday re-reading "What we lived through" which is the Clinton impeachment, and if you listen to the rhetoric there. Some of it is very similar. Democrats are talking about coups and Republicans talking about the rule of law, but there are Democrats who are willing to be way more critical of their president, president Clinton talking about his deplorable, unacceptable behavior than anything you see from Republicans right now. And one huge difference. If you go back to the Clinton impeachment, the day he was impeached in the house, you had a pretty full apology from president Clinton back in 1998. As you have talked about before, Chris Christie, there's no way we're going to see that from president trump, and it does appear at least in a small political way, that strategy is working for him. Well, it's not even a strategy, George. It's who he is. I mean, I heard someone this week ask me about whether his tactics are working. I'm, like, he doesn't have tactics. This is him. When you saw him at the rally in Hershey, Pennsylvania, or any of the tweets he's sending, this is who he is. It's how he has always conducted himself, whether it's been in his political life or in his business life. When someone attacks him, he attacks back twice as hard. He doesn't apologize for things almost ever. A couple of times in the 2016 campaign, but that was really about exception. -- An exception. So, you know, what we're seeing though, and I would disagree a little bit on the Clinton side. Absolutely president Clinton at the time apologized, but the tribalism was still the same because in the end, you can say whatever you want to say, but how you vote is what you do. That's not true. The Democrats did -- wait a second, Patrick. There's nothing more -- There were five Democrats in the house who voted for impeachment of Bill Clinton. There were, and I want to quote rich. Rich made a terribly important quote. Now you're in trouble. Rich wrote a column for -- I need to sit back. It was for politico where he disagreed that those defenses were impeachable, but said very Cleary that there was something irresponsible about the way the president conducted himself. That really matters. When the Democrats said in 1998 that president Clinton's behavior was just grotesque, that matters when you are setting standards for the highest office in the world. So I would respect Ted Cruz and other Republicans, the whole class if they said, we don't believe this rises to the level of high crimes and misdemeanors, but there is something untoward about using presidential authority in this way against -- with an ally to subvert our national interests. This is distorted. We have seen a pretty big shift. Lindsey graham said, if you show me anything besides the phone call, indicating any kind of pressure campaign, any kind of quid pro quo. It might change my mind, he we saw in the house, at least in the judiciary committee, something more of what the president did was right. Yes, and Lindsey graham a few months ago open to that, facts develop in a made it harder for him to continue that line. One of the things that's striking though is Lindsey graham when he was an impeachment manager, or a prosecutor against president Clinton, where he talked about -- really begged the senate to keep an open mind, said, if you make up your mind in advance, we're not doing our job. It's for our country. Boy, it's a crock. I have made up my mind. Certainly the oath for impartial justice doesn't mean that, you know, you're a regular juror and you have to come to this completely, that's ridiculous. Certainly democratic senators and democratic presidential candidates have expressed their point of view. Nonetheless, this absolute unwillingness to try to get to the bottom of what happened here, and to consider whether it really is problematic is appalling from my point of view. I think almost all senate Republicans think what president trump did was wrong here. Whether they will say it or not. I think they should. Also, almost all of them sincerely believe this does not justify impeachment and removal. If you look at the other side of this ledger, if Democrats had just held hearings to get to the bottom of this, expose it, extract the damning revelations, it would be a home run for them. If they were to try to make the case for the first time in our history, that's where they are falling down, and at the end of the day, nhing happened. Ukraine got the money, didn't even announce it -- Nothing happened because the president knew he was exposed, right? President reversed course after the whistle-blower. 15 Republicans in the senate voted the either impeach or -- to either impeach or convict president Clinton. 15 Republicans who were there, and only one of them, Susan Collins, voted against convicting him. Why is what president Clinton did impeachable and removal, and what president trump did doesn't rise to that level? That's what I have a really hard time with. I think this is the strongest case Democrats can make. Republicans impeached Clinton with no hope of convicting him in the senate and we're going to do the same thing. That is not the standard that Nancy Pelosi or any of them set out at the beginning of this process. They said they would only do it if it was going to be bipartisan. It's going to be the other way. You're going to have house Democrats voting against this. You'll have Democrats voting against it to vote against removal. That's not really the question. The question is, why was president Clinton removed from office, and president trump not? I think Republicans should have ended up centering him instead, and Democrats would have been wiser to do this. That's not what we're seeing. I wanted to ask you about Jeff van drew. Congressman from New Jersey now apparently going to be a Republican congressman from new Jersey. You're from Jersey, the governor. How much of chairman Nadler's analysis is right there? He's switching because he's going to lose the democratic primary. He was a democratic state senator for all eight years that I was governor, in an incredibly Republican district, and we thought we would find a way to win, and we never did. I also think that congressman van drew is becoming increasingly uncomfortable with the leftward shift of the democratic caucus. He's a moderate Democrat, and I don't think he feels like from what I can tell that there's a place for him in the house caucus. It's moderation of the Republican party. He may be uncomfortable for other reasons if he moves to the Republican caucus, but right now he's in a situation where he's going to have to vote, if he wants to be in the mainstream of the democratic caucus voting for impeachment, and by the way, his district was a double digit trump district in 2016. They have been swinging to Democrats and the specials and all of these things. You say there's always political consideration, I would change the word always to only. There are only political considerations in these matters and your party never awards you for going against the majority interest. We'll take a quick break

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

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