Trump 'hits all the buttons that founding fathers were concerned about': House Dem

House Judiciary Committee member Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., is interviewed on "This Week."
7:05 | 12/08/19

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Transcript for Trump 'hits all the buttons that founding fathers were concerned about': House Dem
congressman Lofgren, let me begin with you. You've played a role in every moderate impeachment. Some of that evidence there. You were on the staff of the house judiciary committee during the Nixon impeachment back in 1973. A member of that committee for Bill Clinton's impeachment in 1998 and the impeachment of president trump today. But it appears at least half of the country is unconvinced by your contention that the allegations against president trump are more serious than the charges against Nixon and Clinton. Make the concise version of that case. Well, the Nixon case, he used presidential powers to influence improperly the election. He covered it up using the FBI, the CIA. He abused his power and was voted articles of impeachment as a consequence. In the case of president trump, not only has he abused his power to improperly put his thumb on the scale for the election, he used a foreign power to do it and that really hits all of the buttons that the founding fathers were concerned about. But as you know, the Republicans have made the case that the president didn't get what he want. He didn't get the investigation, the aid went through. Well, the aid was suspended. As a matter of fact people died while it was suspended, but he did use that power to get that end and it's not over. I mean, he is using agents to get improper things done to try and tar his opponent and Rudy Giuliani, his agent, is in Ukraine meeting with kgb trained people today. This is an ongoing threat to the national security. The president said yesterday that he is going to take a report from Rudy Giuliani. Rudy Giuliani is going to report to the attorney general. Well, that's very interesting. But the fact that Mr. Giuliani, Mr. Sondland have acted to try and pervert the national interests to the personal interests is of tremendous concern. It's an ongoing threat to the national security, and it's abuse of power that is -- needs to be dealt with really. It's depressing, honestly. I wish the president's behavior had been better. You don't think they should move to impeach based on the Mueller report. Does that mean you're against including evidence laid out by Mueller on possible obstruction of justice in these articles of impeachment? My personal view is we should proceed only on those items where we have direct evidence and there is a lot of direct evidence relative to the abuse of power in Ukraine and the Russians relative to the Biden investigation. The Mueller report is a report. We don't have direct witness testimony for most of that. So I think we'd be on firmest ground to move forward where we have direct evidence as with the report we will see tomorrow morning at 9:00 A.M. From the intelligence committee. And we're going to be covering that but that gets to the other question raised about the speed with which the Democrats are going forward. You're not going to have the evidence as you said from the Mueller report, don mcgahn hasn't testified yet. You don't have the evidence of Mick Mulvaney or secretary of state Mike Pompeo or Rudy Giuliani, you just called an agent of the president right there. And "The Washington post" had an editorial this weekend. Here's what they had to say about that. They said the judiciary committee may well have enough evidence to draw up articles of impeachment, but the witnesses and documents that Mr. Trump is improperly blocking might well provide a fuller and to many Americans more persuasive picture of his guilt and American democracy cannot afford for congress to fail to establish its right to obtain them. The fight for them must not be given up. Why not wait for those witnesses? Well, the president has improperly withheld those witnesses. The idea that there's absolute immunity is preposterous. There is no basis in law or in the constitution for that. I'm mindful that the last time we fully litigated that claim, it took 18 months, so to allow the president to engage in frivolous appeals so that the appeals extend beyond his term of office really is not what the constitution provides. The constitution says, the congress shall have the sole authority when it comes to impeachment, and so the question is, with the evidence we have, can we make a sound conclusion? I think we can, but when we get our presentation tomorrow from the intelligence committee, I think all of us will have a chance to say all of this direct evidence, can we reach a conclusion and move forward as our responsibility under the constitution provides, and I think the answer is likely yes. Back in 1998 you warned Republicans against undoing -- that was your word -- a free election expressing the will of the people. Here's what you had to say. You will set the dangerous precedent that the certainty of presidential terms which is so benefited our wonderful America will be replaced by the partisan use of impeachment, future presidents will face election, then litigation, then impeachment. Republicans are echoing that argument today and saying that's exactly what has happened. Well, what I should have said and I think I did say throughout the Clinton impeachment was, first you need a high crime and misdemeanor. Lying about sex is not an abuse of presidential power. Maybe husband power and certainly trump has done the same thing when it comes to stormy Daniels and Karen Mcdougal. We're not proceeding on his lies about his affairs. That has nothing to do with the abuse of presidential power any more than it did in the Clinton administration. Here we have an instance as we did with Nixon of abuse of the power that is vested in the president and the founders were very concerned that the president that they had created in the constitution had enormous powers and if unchecked, if use of that power was made to subvert the constitutional order there had to be a remedy and that remedy was impeachment. Finally I do want to ask you about this shooting in Pensacola. The Pensacola naval base on Friday by that Saudi national. FBI still investigating whether or not it was a preplanned terrorist attack. Whether or not there were accomplices but in the wake of this shooting, does the united States need to be rethinking our relationship with Saudi Arabia? Well, I have a lot of concerns. We have, you know -- they murdered a U.S. Person who was a reporter for "The Washington post." Murdered and dismembered that reporter, and we've never gotten accounting for that. So, yes, there are a lot of questions about Saudi Arabia. Congressman Lofgren, thanks for joining us this morning. Thank you.

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

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