Trump's 'biggest fear is that he gets exposed': Former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel

The Powerhouse Roundtable discusses the first public impeachment hearings on "This Week."
15:52 | 11/17/19

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Transcript for Trump's 'biggest fear is that he gets exposed': Former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel
We have breaking news out of Washington, D.C. Roger stone, one of the president's longest serving political advisers, long-time friend, has been found guilty on seven counts of lying to congress and tampering with a witness. This is a spin-off of Robert Mueller's investigation. He's now facing up to 20 years in prison. Roger stone to be sentenced this February. Lots to talk about. We have our round table here. Chris Christie, former governor of New Jersey, Rahm Emanuel former chief of staff for president Obama. CEO for democracy for America Yvette Simpson. Barbara Comstock served as chief council for the house government reform committee. White house correspondent for "The New York Times" Maggie Haberman. Let's start with Rahm. Rahm, you served in the house. How did your former colleagues do? I think the Democrats did a good job in making sure the facts piece by piece step by step got laid out. I think the Republicans -- there were two parts. By the second day they were actually following the script they were supposed to, being respectful. Obviously the president messed it up. I would say that both parties -- in this situation you have the jets and sharks already set up. It's been divided like that. They were divided going into the hearings. They seemed divided coming out. Chris Christie, we learned -- we expected no news during the hearings. In fact, we learned about this new witness to ambassador sondland's conversation with the president and on Friday president trump's tweet. Thing can happen during the hearings that can change the dynamics. I think things can happen, but I don't think they changed the dynamic. For those people that support the president they're not offended with this conduct. They're saying this is consistent with who he is and why we elected him. Attacking the ambassador? Yes. This is -- this is who Donald Trump is, George. Anybody who thinks this isn't who he is, it's who he's been all along. Substitute the ambassador this week and think about tweets that have gone out over the past three years and you see a rather consistent pattern. When somebody is making his life difficult, he makes their life difficult. That's the way he is. For people that don't like him, this offends them even more and get them more angry. For people who support him, this is the guy we elected. This is the way he was -- on "Access Hollywood" he attacked Bill Clinton. We're now surprised over this. The Republican strategy going into Friday was supposed to be ambassador yovanovitch is a side show and not important, not relevant. She was front and center after that tweet. That was a huge mistake by the president. It obviously sidelined what the Republicans had intended to do. They spent a lot of their time, almost every one of the members lauded her for her treatment and particularly congress will herd read out all her awards. I think the witnesses won the week. I don't think there was impressive questioning on either side. I think the witnesses came through impressive. One of the points that Chris is making -- Rahm made as well -- doesn't seem like anything will change the minds of the members on the committee. Why would they? The Republicans have nothing to lose by stone walling. If you're already on the side of trump at this point, why would you defect? There's no burden. This is my big issue, the Democrats are being asked to pull rabbits out of hats and the Republicans have no duty to ask for truth, to try to get witnesses, to try to get evidence. They can do absolutely nothing and say that the Democrats did not meet their burden. I think it's unfair. That's what it is. When you have the majority, you have the burden. This is a congressional -- It's their burden. That's not true. This is their congressional duty and they should be seeking truth. If they've not been compelled over what they heard -- They're in the model of the Clinton impeachment, the president's party is defending him. This impeachment is -- we use the metaphor of Nixon and Clinton. I think we have to rejugger it. This impeachment hearing is more about Mccarthy. You have career people. You have their entire professional reputation being destroyed by the Republicans and most importantly by the president of the United States. Smearing someone is not the impeachable offense. No. That's why that's the analogy. We use -- everybody has -- Nixon and Clinton impeachment hearings as the juxtaposition. You have to go back in my view, it's not an accident with Roger stone -- this president is a lineage out of Mccarthy. Clinton said he was able to compartmentalize during his impeachment hearings in 1998. His approvals went up 60%. That's not what president trump -- he's probably tweeted 20 times this morning. I think the governor's point was dead on. This is who Donald Trump is. One thing we heard is the white house is going to affect a more organized war room. There's going to be a better effort to get everyone on the same page. Here's the message. There needs to be a better message. It's a war room of one. Correct. Now it's become a war room of a couple added bodies. It's made little difference. In fairness to the new hires -- there's nobody who can get the president to stay on message. That tweet really upset a lot of his advisers on Friday. They were not planning for it. They didn't want him to do it. They knew it was going to have a negative effect for him. I don't know what the durable effect will be. Certainly that day it was not good for him. That gets to the question, Chris. You're right. This is clearly in character for the president. It's one of the things we saw this week. Is it a smart strategy? Is there any way to get a different strategy going? No and no. It's not a strategy. You dressed it up by saying it's a strategy. It's not a smart strategy to do this. Is it possible? Only if the president decides he wants to do something differently? I don't see the evidence he does. He believes that the reason he got a good result in Mueller is because he never let up on it. He was calling it a witch hunt from the beginning. He was attacking Mueller and the people around him, the 13 angry Democrats. He believes that was the successful approach. He'll take the same approach this time for two reasons. One, because he thinks it worked the last time. Two, because it's who he is. That's not me defending it. I grow weary of people watching in wonder. I think he thinks impeachment helped Bill Clinton and he thinks it's going to help him. I don't think impeachment ever helps anybody. I think if you look at the 2000 election -- I think he really -- I don't -- He can't want to be impeached. He doesn't want to be he can talk himself into thinking there's a possible political benefit. He's not enjoying this. There's lots of happy talk coming out of people around him saying he sees this as a good thing. He does not see this as a good thing. I can tell you for sure he's not enjoying any part of this. He's angry about it. What you see in these tweets is an expression of that anger. He's not serving himself. He's not helping himself. I agree when Marie yovanovitch was prepared to testify I thought it would be a quiet day. She wasn't a key part of the July 25th hearing. She was talking about her termination. Then he tweets and intimidates her and she becomes the story. His biggest fear -- The market was the highest on Friday -- He got that tweet too. If you watch him over the trajectory, his biggest fear is that he gets exposed. That's what the tax issue is. That's what this is. When Nancy said the job is bigger than him, she knows how to go after his psychology. His biggest fear is being exposed for what he is. He wears a mask. He wears an outfit. He wears a character. The real Donald Trump is getting exposed for what he's done and that's what driving him to the doctor. Plus he doesn't have control. There's nothing he can do in the room. Part of the problem too is nobody has control over the situation. That's what we saw this week in these hearings is that the Democrats want things to go in a certain direction. Some of them stay disciplined. Some of them don't. The Republicans are having to react to whatever the president is doing. Whatever strategy they have -- it's an out of control situation which is going to lead to what we talked about before. He will be impeached. No question he'll be impeached. He will not be removed. That's the end of the story. The physics of politics hasn't changed except for this, which is interesting to me. Bill Clinton went up during the process. Donald Trump is inching down, also among Republicans. We'll have to see how that plays out in the coming weeks. I want to bring that to Maggie. It seems like the Democrats in the house have passed the point of no return. Hard to imagine 15 Democrats switching their vote. The big question is how will this be handled in the senate? There is those who want to dismiss it quickly and those who want to drag out the trial for several weeks. There's enormous confusion and the lack of certainty coming from the white house on exactly what they want. I've heard some signals from the white house they want a vote to dismiss. They don't want an up or down vote. I think there are senators who are concerned about that appearance. If you get 51 votes, you can dismiss. No guarantee that Mitt Romney, Susan Collins -- Correct. Others who are facing re-election -- Mitch Mcconnell indicated there will be a trial. They're having real debate about it. He has indicated that, but he's kept his options open. Best believe folks like us are watching closely. We'll be pinning their faces to the wall all the vulnerable senate Republicans who are up. The vulnerable Republicans and others who have a personal feeling towards this president which is not warm, it's not hot -- it is hot, in anger. He has made their lives miserable. They're not going to be able to dismiss quickly. At the end of the day it will result in a censure. You think Republicans will vote for censure? Yes. I don't. I think there will be a trial. Mitch Mcconnell, what does he care about the most? Staying majority leader. If you have Susan Colins and Corey gardener, and others who are vulnerable Republicans coming up in the 2020 race, you have to have a trial. The result is going to be a result. He's not going to get a censure. Nobody believes what he did here -- in fact the FBI director when you asked the question George, the FBI director, the president's own appointee weighed in on the idea of asking a foreign government for dirt on a political opponent. He issued a judgment, not that he's a judge. There are nine Republicans that know they can't dismiss a trial. They can't quit with this. They'll reach a judgment and say this requires more than just I want to bring the question back to Nate, you see wild cards, if you're talking about a lengthy trial this could be spreading out to February, maybe even March. Things are going to happen between now and February and March. There could be a court case that determines whether John Bolton should testify. The senate could call him. You've got the associates of Rudy Giuliani who have been indicted in New York. One of them seems to be cooperating with the southern district, maybe even congress. There could be the potential to change minds. There could be. It's all going to depend on events that fill the next couple months. We don't know. There's the case of the president's tax returns and whether those get released and are accessible by members of congress and the southern district in New York. I want to raise one point from yesterday is that there was a second in a row loss in a red state governor's race where the president turned it into a referendum of himself. He was tweeting about that all day. He didn't have to make it so much about him. You have to do this for me. I need a win. There was another way to handle it. I don't know if he's capable of it. If you're him and he's been pressuring you for years to stick with him, do you see this result and think maybe the voters aren't as much with him? Once the curtain comes up that you don't have the mojo that he can't do what he's supposed to do, your political capital shrinks. The fear factor shrinks also. How does the president explain Virginia and Kentucky? They're both explainable having done a governor race. Bevens was not a likable person. This wasn't a referendum on the president. It was a referendum on Matt Bevens. On the Louisiana race, I worked with John bell Edwards for a while. He's not a Democrat. He's not a crazy liberal. He's not a crazy liberal. Most incumbent governors get re-elected if they don't do something to disqualify themselves. You're white washing this. No it's not. When you win, it's not about anybody else other than the candidate. Come on. No president comes in and -- I want to make sure my mother is listening to that. I said it. It's all about you, baby. He put his capital down and lost it. Here's the point. He made it about him in two deeply red states that are critical. Mitch Mcconnell should be shaking in his boots. Oh, he's not. Mitch Mcconnell's looking at the fact that the first Republican African American attorney general was elected statewide in Kentucky. I think the problem -- Let me understand this, Yvette. I got to finish -- Hold on, guys. When somebody gets elected when they're a Republican, it's because they didn't know he was a Republican, but, when they lost, it's because they're a Republican. This is why people listen to stuff like this and shake their heads. I live in Ohio and I saw all the messages coming in on my TV. The biggest election was Delaware county in Pennsylvania. Five Republicans were up on the county board. Most Republican county of all the counties. All five go out. Barbara in the Republican caucus, Virginia, Kentucky, Delaware county which one had everybody take a breath? Pennsylvania. In the suburbs pretty consistently if the president is over 50% disapprove there's not a path to win.

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

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