Meet the Press - December 8, 2019

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CHUCK TODD:

This Sunday: the road to Impeachment.

REP. NANCY PELOSI:

The president leaves us no choice.

CHUCK TODD:

Speaker Pelosi says the House will draft articles of impeachment against President Trump.

REP. NANCY PELOSI:

The president has engaged in an abuse of power, undermining our national security and jeopardizing the integrity of our elections.

CHUCK TODD:

Democrats debate whether to focus on Ukraine or take a broader approach.

REP. MADELEINE DEAN:

It's a continuation of a pattern of behavior.

REP. MARY GAY SCANLON:

Part of a pattern.

REP. DEBBIE MUCARSEL-POWELL:

Pattern of behavior.

REP. JERROLD NADLER:

Pattern of behavior becomes clear.

CHUCK TODD:

While Republicans continue to denounce the process.

REP. DOUG COLLINS:

This is a sham.

REP. DEBBIE LESKO:

That's a sham.

REP. MIKE JOHSNON:

This whole production is a sham.

CHUCK TODD:

My guests this morning: Democratic Congressman Jerrold Nadler, Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee and Republican Senator Ted Cruz of Texas. Plus, power politics. The Democratic candidates getting tough --

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN:

Mayor Pete should open up the doors so that anyone can come in and report on what's being said.

CHUCK TODD:

-- getting even --

MICHAEL BLOOMBERG:

I'm doing the same thing they're doing, except that I'm using my own money.

CHUCK TODD:

-- and getting out --

SEN. KAMALA HARRIS:

I am suspending our campaign today.

CHUCK TODD:

The latest on a wild and wide open race. Also, our angry country --

JOE BIDEN:

You're a damn liar, man.

SHARON MCBRIDE:

No, no, no, no, no!

CHUCK TODD:

Why one Congressman says our politics has left him "soul weary." Joining me for insight and analysis are: NBC News White House Correspondent Kristen Welker, Robert Costa, National Political Reporter for The Washington Post, Former Obama Deputy Campaign Manager, Stephanie Cutter, and former Republican Congressman Carlos Curbelo of Florida. Welcome to Sunday. It's Meet the Press.

ANNOUNCER:

From NBC News in Washington, the longest running show in television history, this is Meet the Press with Chuck Todd.

CHUCK TODD:

Good Sunday morning. Given the constant storm of controversy and disruption that has defined the norm-breaking Trump presidency, it's easy to forget what a historic moment we've all just experienced. With Speaker Nancy Pelosi's announcement this week, it has become all but certain that Donald Trump will become just the third American president in history to be impeached. That much we know, or think we do, anyway. At the same time there is so much we don't know. We don't know how many articles of impeachment the Democrats will draw up against President Trump or what they will cover. We don't know what a Senate trial would even look like. Remember we expected Senate hearings at least for a Supreme Court nominee named Merrick Garland and those never happened. We don't know whether Senate Republicans will be able to muster 51-vote majorities at key moments as the trial progresses if it does happen. And we don't know the extent of the federal investigation into Rudy Giuliani's activities, or how close it could get to the president himself. Most important, with impeachment, a possible government shutdown and a looming primary and caucus season followed by a full-on brutal presidential campaign, all in a deeply divided country, we don't know how well the country can handle the stress test we're all about to face.

REP. NANCY PELOSI:

I am asking our chairmen to proceed with articles of impeachment.

CHUCK TODD:

After her historic announcement on impeachment -- a murky road ahead --

REP. NANCY PELOSI:

I'm not here to talk about that.

REP. DOUG COLLINS:

Nobody knows what's going on.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL:

I haven't answered your question because there is no answer at this point.

CHUCK TODD:

On Wednesday -- Senator McConnell released the 2020 Senate schedule, with January missing -- a dramatic nod to a possible impeachment trial.

SEN. KEVIN CRAMER:

The only thing I know for sure is that nobody knows what we’re doing in January yet.

CHUCK TODD:

In the House, Democrats are still debating the scope of impeachment charges.

REP. NANCY PELOSI:

With all due respect, I'm not going to answer one charge. We're not writing the articles of impeachment here tonight.

CHUCK TODD:

There is broad support among Democrats for articles that address the core of the president's conduct on Ukraine but a divide over how broad an additional obstruction charge should be and reluctance by many moderate members to expand the scope to conduct detailed in the Mueller report.

REPORTER:

What do you think about adding Mueller evidence to potential obstruction of justice charges?

REP. MAX ROSE:

Here's what I would say to that, I was against going through with impeachment previous to this Ukraine matter.

REP GIL CISNEROS:

I think we should stay focused on Ukraine.

REP. JIM CLYBURN:

We do expect to lose some, and that's why I say it is a conscience vote.

CHUCK TODD:

For months, the president and his allies have complained that Mr. Trump deserves legal representation in the inquiry.

PRES. DONALD TRUMP:

We don't have rights to lawyers. Not giving us lawyers. Doesn’t let us have lawyers. We had no representation.

CHUCK TODD:

But on Friday, White House counsel Pat Cipollone made it clear the president will not mount a defense in the House, or even send lawyers to the Judiciary Committee's hearing on Monday.

REPORTER:

Will you testify?

PRES. DONALD TRUMP:

Well I don't know. I know this that -- the impeachment thing is a total hoax.

CHUCK TODD:

Another unknown: the length and scope of any Senate trial. The White House has signaled that, if there is a trial, the president wants to deflect attention from his conduct to a wish list of Democratic witnesses.

PAM BONDI:

Joe Biden, Hunter Biden, Adam Schiff and the whistleblower

TONY SAYEGH:

The whistle-blower, Adam Schiff, Joe Biden, Hunter Biden.

HOGAN GIDLEY:

Witnesses like the whistleblower, like Adam Schiff, like Hunter and Joe Biden.

CHUCK TODD:

In the end, though --

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM:

You gotta get 51 votes, But at what point do 51 people say I’ve heard enough I’m ready to vote. So who knows.

CHUCK TODD:

Senate Republicans will need the support of several of their own who have been willing to break with the president in the past and Republicans up for re-election in competitive races. Perhaps not helpful in winning over Senate Republicans who are on the fence, the president's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, who is at the center of the scandal, spent this week in Ukraine.

PRES. DONALD TRUMP:

I just know he came back from some place and he's going to make a report I think to the attorney general and to Congress. He said he has a lot of good information. I have not spoken to him about that information.

CHUCK TODD:

And joining me now is the chair of the House Judiciary Committee, Democrat Jerry Nadler of New York. Chairman Nadler, welcome back to Meet the Press.

REP. JERROLD NADLER:

Good morning. Good to be here.

CHUCK TODD:

Okay. This week, what does this look like? Is this the beginning of the drafting of the articles of impeachment? Is that what this week is going to be about?

REP. JERROLD NADLER:

Well, this week is going to start with tomorrow. Tomorrow, Monday, we're going to have the report from the Intelligence Committee, examination of their, of their people by both sides. And after that, we'll have decisions to make about drafting articles and where it goes.

CHUCK TODD:

Explain how that decision process works. Is this going to be in a committee hearing that we'll all watch? Or are you going to make these decisions behind closed doors to say, "Okay, we've decided to do abuse of power here, bribery there?" And you know, how --

REP. JERROLD NADLER:

Well --

CHUCK TODD:

-- give me a little sense of what it looks like.

REP. JERROLD NADLER:

There will be a lot of consultations, I assume, between members of the committee, between -- with the House leadership, with members of the House. And we'll have to make those decisions. So we'll bring articles of impeachment, presumably, before the committee at some point later in the week.

CHUCK TODD:

Have you -- have an idea of how many articles you think we’re going to draw up, or you're not ready yet? You seem to be hesitant.

REP. JERROLD NADLER:

I'm not ready to decide that. And it's not just my decision, obviously. But --

CHUCK TODD:

Is this the speaker? Is this speaker -- you may come up with recommendations, and she ultimately says, "Do this, not that"?

REP. JERROLD NADLER:

Well, she'll have a role, as many other members of the caucus. But the decisions have to be made based on everything we've learned until now and based on what we hear tomorrow. But remember, some of these things are very clear at this point. There is overwhelming evidence, uncontested by the Republicans, that the president put himself above the country, that the president sought foreign assistance in elections, sought to cover it up, completely defied participation in the congressional investigation, in order to hide his role, that he sought foreign assistance for the next election.

CHUCK TODD:

What is that a definition of? Is that an abuse of power allegation that you're describing to me. --

REP. JERROLD NADLER:

Well, there are several things --

CHUCK TODD:

-- Is it a bribery allegation? What allegation are you describing there?

REP. JERROLD NADLER:

Certainly. Well, certainly, abuse of power. It might be abuse of Congress -- obstruction of Congress, in his not cooperating. You know, he refused every single document. He told everybody in the executive branch, "Do not cooperate. Do not answer. Do not testify." No president has ever done anything like that. So this is a defiance of the role of Congress, given by the Constitution, for impeachment. But again, he put himself above the country. He sought to get foreign interference against the integrity of our election. And this is a matter of urgency to deal with. Because we have to make sure that the next election is conducted with integrity and without foreign interference.

CHUCK TODD:

During your hearing with the constitutional scholars this week, you seemed to hint that you're inclined to include some of the allegations in the Mueller report in an article, or possibly more, of impeachment. I know that that is not -- as you know, that is a -- that is not unanimous inside the Democratic caucus. Where are you on this?

REP. JERROLD NADLER:

I'm reserving judgement. We're going to have to decide what to do after we see -- after we have the evidence tomorrow and after consultation with others in the caucus. There are a wide variety of factors that have to be considered, including the degree of proof, the degree of confidence, and where the members of the caucus are. We certainly have an abundance of evidence on various things. And again, the Republicans have virtually not contested this. All that they have said, all that they have said, is they have opposed the process, but not the evidence.

CHUCK TODD:

And by the way if Pat Cipollone shows up tomorrow, are you going to let him in, the president's counsel?

REP. JERROLD NADLER:

He has said he's not showing up.

CHUCK TODD:

I understand that. But if he changes his mind --

REP. JERROLD NADLER:

He was invited.

CHUCK TODD:

-- this is the President of the United States. You never know. He might, he might be tweeting it as you and I are speaking, "Hey, I'm sending my lawyer tomorrow." Are you going to let him?

REP. JERROLD NADLER:

We'd have to decide that. He is guilty, at this point, of the most blatant contempt of Congress.

CHUCK TODD:

Who is guilty? The president, you mean?

REP. JERROLD NADLER:

No, Cipollone.

CHUCK TODD:

Cipollone.

REP. JERROLD NADLER:

I don't mean as a crime, but just the contempt dripping from the two letters, several letters, he sent us. But that aside, he has said he's not going to come. So I think that's a very academic question. They were invited -- the president was invited to submit a testimony. He was invited to send his counsel. He has declined to do so.

CHUCK TODD:

I want to show what some members, some Democratic members, who are in the sort of Trump districts, have been saying about what they want to see and this idea of the impeachment inquiry expanding. Here is Elaine Luria. "I don't think we should be throwing the whole kitchen sink and try to overreach." Ben McAdams, "Activities from the 2016 election should be left to voters in the 2020 election." Tom Malinowski, New Jersey, "If we impeach the president for everything he has done that is impeachable, it would probably take us until 2025."

REP. JERROLD NADLER:

Well, he is certainly, he is certainly -- Tom is certainly correct in that.

CHUCK TODD:

Do you -- look, do you think it's important for you to write an article of impeachment that has Democratic support? And if you don't think it has majority support, you won't write the article?

REP. JERROLD NADLER:

I'm not going to say that. But I do think, obviously, we want the House to pass the resolutions that we put forward. So that's one factor to consider, obviously. But again, we also have to consider the fact that we have to call the president for his violations of the Constitution and for posing the considerable risk that he poses to the next election.

CHUCK TODD:

I'm curious, though, the political divide that we have. This was something that concerned you, 20 years ago. This is what you said, 20 years ago, actually, 21 years ago almost to the -- 21 years ago almost to the month. "Impeaching a president, when you have not got a broad consensus of the American people, a broad agreement of almost everybody that this fellow has got to go, because he's a clear and present danger to our liberty and to our constitution, without that, you cannot and should not impeach a president. Because to do so is to call into question the legitimacy of all of our political institutions." That has been the conundrum of this impeachment process. I understand that, hey, you guys believe you're following the rule of law. But you have a wall of partisan objection to this. Does that matter?

REP. JERROLD NADLER:

Well, of course it matters. But the polling now shows that 70% of the American people are convinced that the president has done something very wrong.

CHUCK TODD:

70% aren't ready to oust him.

REP. JERROLD NADLER:

Well, we're not through with the process. But 70% of the American people have said that they understand the president has done something very wrong. And we also are faced with the very direct threat that this president put himself, repeatedly, above the interests of the country and poses a threat to the integrity of the next election. That's not something we were talking about 20 years ago. He poses a threat to the integrity of the next election, if he's allowed to continue to do what he's doing. So we have to stop --

CHUCK TODD:

What's the unintended consequence, though, of impeaching him and him, and him being acquitted? How he will take acquittal?

REP. JERROLD NADLER:

Well -- I don't know how he will take acquittal. I don't know if he'll be acquitted. The senators are going to have to decide. The House members, first, are going to have to decide, and then the senators are going to have to decide in the face of an abundance of uncontested evidence, that the president poses a threat to our election, that he put himself -- his own interests above the interests of the country. Are they going to be patriots? Or are they going to be partisans?

CHUCK TODD:

Let me ask you this. If he's acquitted, do you believe we'll have a fair election in 2020?

REP. JERROLD NADLER:

I don't know. The president, based on his past performance, will do everything he can to make it not a fair election. And that is part of what gives us the urgency to proceed with this impeachment.

CHUCK TODD:

Chairman Nadler, I'm going to leave it there. Thank you for coming on and sharing your views. I appreciate it.

REP. JERROLD NADLER:

Thank you.

CHUCK TODD:

Joining me now, from Houston, is Republican Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, who sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee. Senator Cruz, welcome back to Meet the Press, sir.

SEN. TED CRUZ:

Good morning, Chuck. Good to be with you.

CHUCK TODD:

Let me start with a larger, sort of -- I want to look at a forest here, through all of these individual trees. And it was a busy week in this larger forest, here. For the third time, the White House enlisted help of one of your Republican colleagues to block a bipartisan resolution that you have been pushing to recognize Armenian genocide that took place in Turkey. You called out the administration for failing to block completion of that Nord Stream pipeline from Russia to Germany. 71 House Republicans voted in a resolution, basically saying, "It would be fine if Russia came back into the G7 if they -- before they basically gave back Crimea to Ukraine." Is it -- have you asked yourself, why is it that this administration continues to publicly say tough things about Russia, but in their actions, they don't seem to get tough on Russia?

SEN. TED CRUZ:

Listen, Chuck. I don't think it's shocking that there are foreign policy disagreements in our government. Two of the things you mentioned right there, the Armenian genocide resolution and Nord Stream 2, I think we're likely to get both of those done in the coming weeks. We're likely to finally acknowledge the horrific Armenian genocide, which I've been fighting for years to do. I think we're also likely, in the National Defense Authorization Act, to pass my bipartisan legislation, stopping the Nord Stream 2. What that's going to do is stop a multi-billion-dollar natural gas pipeline that goes from Russia to Germany. And it'll cost Putin billions of dollars. And so -- and actually, those questions illustrate part of the joke of what we're facing right now. If you look at substance, the substantive policy we are implementing has been tougher on Russia, by orders of magnitude, than Barack Obama ever was. And yet, the media is playing along with this show trial the Democrats are putting on in the House --

CHUCK TODD:

How is it the media-- wait a minute.

SEN. TED CRUZ:

I think the American people are getting really disgusted with it.

CHUCK TODD:

Do you believe that what the president did with Ukraine somehow was tough on Russia? Or didn't the president, by just introducing all of this delayed aid, play into the hands of Russia?

SEN. TED CRUZ:

You know, Chuck, substance matters. By any measure, the president's policy and this administration's policy have been tougher on Russia and, actually, better for Ukraine than Obama's was. Let me give you an example. You just mentioned Ukrainian aid. The Donald Trump administration gave lethal defensive aid to Ukraine, Javelin missiles, to take out Russian tanks. Do you know what? Throughout the Obama administration, I repeatedly pressed President Obama to give lethal aid to Ukraine. I traveled to Ukraine. I went to the Maiden Square, in Kiev. And they needed lethal aid. But the Obama administration, they sent, teddy bears and MREs. They wouldn't actually give weapons. And at the end of the day, Chairman Nadler doesn't want to talk about any of that. He doesn't want to talk about the substance.

CHUCK TODD:

Senator I just -- yeah, go ahead.

SEN. TED CRUZ:

You know, it was really striking, listening to his comments. At one point, he said, "Well, there's no crime." And you know what? He's right. There is no crime.

CHUCK TODD:

No, he was talking about the president's lawyer, not about the president. But go ahead. Don't take him out of context on that.

SEN. TED CRUZ:

All right, but let's talk about yesterday. Yesterday -- you're right. He said -- at first, he said it was contempt. And then he said, "Oh, well, not really contempt. There's no crime." But let's be clear about the president, since this is impeachment of the president. Yesterday, House Democrats put out a 55-page report, they called it a scholarly report, that purports to say, "You don't have to prove a crime, you don't have to prove a law was violated, to impeach a president." That's garbage. What nonsense. You know, Chuck --

CHUCK TODD:

Senator, well wait a minute, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa --

SEN. TED CRUZ:

Let me finish my point real quickly, Chuck --

CHUCK TODD:

Senator, That is exactly why the impeachment was written into the constitution. That's exactly why the phrase, --

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SEN. TED CRUZ:

Is it really?

CHUCK TODD:

-- "High crimes and misdemeanors," is in there. Because they did it before they even wrote our laws, sir. Before we had our -- so how do you know --

SEN. TED CRUZ:So actually what the Constitution --

CHUCK TODD:

-- how do you -- you’re saying that. That is not -- that’s exactly the opposite of what is true.

SEN. TED CRUZ:

Chuck, actually, what the Constitution says is you can impeach a president for treason, bribery, or high crimes and misdemeanors. It specifies it.

CHUCK TODD:

That's right.

SEN. TED CRUZ:

High crimes and misdemeanors was a -- hold on, Chuck. Don't interrupt me--

CHUCK TODD:

And what is a misdemeanor? What is a -- define misdemeanor.

SEN. TED CRUZ:

So high crimes and misdemeanors was a term of art that the framers used -- and you know, it's striking. In poker, there's something called a tell. When a player has a really bad hand, and they reveal it, it's a tell. What we saw last night was a tell from the House Democrats. You know, just a few weeks ago, their talking point was bribery, bribery, bribery. They're now admitting they can't prove a crime. They can't prove a law was violated. And here's why. Any president, any administration, is justified in investing corruption. And there was serious evidence of real corruption concerning Hunter Biden on the board of Burisma, the largest natural gas company in Ukraine. You know how much Hunter Biden was paid every month? $83,000. That's $1 million a year.

CHUCK TODD:

You know that number keeps changing. So far, there hasn't been a lot of confirmation on exactly all of that. And I know the number changes. But let me ask you this --

SEN. TED CRUZ:

And why not? Because the House won't call him. The House --

CHUCK TODD:

Let me ask you this, Senator.

SEN. TED CRUZ:

But hold on, Chuck. Chuck, hold on a second.

CHUCK TODD:

All right.

SEN. TED CRUZ:

The media ought to care if there's actual corruption.

CHUCK TODD:

The media's covered this. You know how you learned this?

SEN. TED CRUZ:

$1 million a year, do you know how much you make on the board of Exxon Mobile --

CHUCK TODD:

Do you know how you learned --

SEN. TED CRUZ:

-- You get $110,000 a year. Do you really think Hunter Biden, with zero oil --

CHUCK TODD:

Senator, the reason you know this information is the media reported it.

SEN. TED CRUZ:

-- and gas experience justifies making ten times as much as a board member of Exxon Mobile?

CHUCK TODD:

What I don't understand is, why do you believe that, if an American is committing corruption, we should ask a foreign government to announce an investigation? Is that appropriate? Or do you go to American authorities?

SEN. TED CRUZ:

So I believe any president, any Justice Department, has the authority to investigate corruption. In this case, there was serious evidence, on the face, of corruption. The reason Hunter Biden got that position is because his daddy was Vice President of the United States.

CHUCK TODD:

So you believe Ukraine meddled?

SEN. TED CRUZ:

If his name was Hunter Smith --

CHUCK TODD:

Do you believe Ukraine meddled --

SEN. TED CRUZ:

-- they wouldn't pay him $1 million a year to serve on the board.

CHUCK TODD:

Do you believe Ukraine meddled in the American election in 2016?

SEN. TED CRUZ:

I do. And I think there's considerable evidence of that.

CHUCK TODD:

You do? You do?

SEN. TED CRUZ:

Yes and Chuck let me say --

CHUCK TODD:

Look this is -- Senator, this sort of strikes me as odd. Because you went through a primary campaign with this president. He launched a birtherism campaign against you. He went after your faith. He threatened to, quote, "spill the beans," about your wife about something. He pushed a National Enquirer, story, which we now know he had a real relationship with the editors of the National Enquirer --

SEN. TED CRUZ:

And Chuck, I appreciate you dragging up all that garbage. That's very kind of you, go ahead.

CHUCK TODD:

No, but Senator is it -- let me ask you this. Is it not possible that this president is capable of creating a false narrative about somebody, in order to help him, politically?

SEN. TED CRUZ:

Except that's not what happened. The president released the transcript of the phone call. You can read what was said on the phone call. And let me point out --

CHUCK TODD:

Yeah and the Bidens. And you, yourself, thought the Biden part was troubling.

SEN. TED CRUZ:

Chuck, Chuck, let me point out a game that the media is playing. You know, a question that you've asked a number of people is you've said to senators, sort of aghast, "Do you believe that Ukraine, and not Russia, interfered in the election?" Now, that, that, in a court of law, would be struck as a misleading question. Of course Russia interfered in our election. Nobody looking at the evidence disputes that. What the media is pretending is --

CHUCK TODD:

But the President of the United States does.

SEN. TED CRUZ:

Look, on the evidence, Russia clearly interfered in our election. But here's the game the media is playing. Because Russia interfered, the media pretends nobody else did. Ukraine blatantly interfered in our election. The sitting ambassador from Ukraine wrote an op-ed blasting Donald Trump --

CHUCK TODD:

Do you know why --

SEN. TED CRUZ:

-- during the election season. --

CHUCK TODD:

Do you know why he did that?

SEN. TED CRUZ:

-- That is unusual.

CHUCK TODD:

What did Donald Trump, what did Donald Trump, as a candidate, say about Ukraine and Crimea during the election that might've inspired the ambassador?

SEN. TED CRUZ:

So you're saying they had disagreements with Donald Trump --

CHUCK TODD:

No, I’m just saying --

SEN. TED CRUZ:

-- and they wanted Hillary Clinton to get elected.

CHUCK TODD:

Okay, so they wrote an op-ed --

SEN. TED CRUZ:

I’ll tell you a Ukrainian parliamentarian --

CHUCK TODD:

They wrote an op-ed. That is the difference -- what you're saying is, you’re saying a pickpocket, which essentially is a Hill op-ed, compared to Bernie Madoff and Vladimir Putin. You're trying to make -- you’re trying to equal -- make them both seem equal. I don't understand that.

SEN. TED CRUZ:

Chuck, Chuck, I understand that you want to dismiss Ukrainian interference, because, A) they were trying to get Hillary Clinton elected, which is what the vast majority of the media wanted, anyway. And B) it's inconvenient for the narrative. You know, it's hysterical. Two years ago, there was article after article after article, in the mainstream media, about Ukrainian interference in the elections. But now, the Democrats have no evidence of a crime, no evidence of violating the law. And so suddenly, Ukrainian interference is treated as the media clutches their pearls. "Oh, my goodness. You can't say that." Last week, Chuck, you called Senator John Kennedy, basically, a stooge for Putin.

CHUCK TODD:

I did not. Don’t basically --

SEN. TED CRUZ:

The press needs to stop being ridiculous and --

CHUCK TODD:

Are you concerned --

SEN. TED CRUZ:

-- acting like they work for Adam Schiff.

CHUCK TODD:

Okay, so did you get the briefing, from the intel community, that said, the Russian intelligence services are trying to actively use this Ukraine story to frame Ukraine for the Russian -- for the interference in 2016?

SEN. TED CRUZ:

I have been in multiple briefings. I have been in multiple briefings, year after year after year, about foreign interference in our election. Russia has tried to interfere in our elections. China's tried to interfere in our elections. North Korea's tried to interfere in our elections. Ukraine has tried to interfere in our elections. This is not new. 2016's not the first year they did it. And they're going to keep trying. And so we need to be strong in dealing with it. But the media needs to actually report facts. This is a kangaroo court in the House. They're going to impeach, not because they have the evidence, but because they hate the president, want to do the election. But it's going to go to the Senate. It's going to go nowhere. I think the American people know this is a waste of time. And this is Democrats putting on a circus.

CHUCK TODD:

Senator Ted Cruz, Republican from Texas, always good to go back and forth with you. So I appreciate you coming on and sharing your views. When we come back, where impeachment goes from here. Does anybody really know? Panel is next.

CHUCK TODD:

Welcome back. Panel is here. Former Republican Congressman Carlos Curbelo of Florida; former Obama deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter; NBC News White House correspondent Kristen Welker; and Robert Costa, national political reporter for The Washington Post and moderator of Washington Week on PBS. Well, we have a little bit of a preview of the House case and the Senate defense just now. The Democrats are running into a brick wall, okay? It is what it is. It seems as if the question is, what’s it all - what is everybody going to look like on the other side?

KRISTEN WELKER:

That's the question. And there seems to right now, be a push to rush this to the Senate. The Democrats are signaling they want to be finished with the articles of impeachment by the time they take their next recess. I spoke to sources over the weekend who said the Senate wants to have this wrapped up within two weeks. What's interesting is I also talked to some Democrats who say they think Nancy Pelosi should hold the articles of impeachment, not send them to the Senate until the witnesses come and testify. Essentially --

CHUCK TODD:

Mulvaney, Bolton, those guys.

KRISTEN WELKER:

Exactly. Essentially, depriving the Senate the right to hold a trial, the right to acquit the president. Partisan warfare.

CHUCK TODD:

Look, I have been skeptical we'd ever see a trial in some form or another, because no one's quite sure how this works out.

ROBERT COSTA:

There will likely be a trial. I've been hanging out at the Senate all week. And Senate Republicans are preparing. That's why McConnell has blocked off everything in January. The question now is, what do the 2020 Republicans who are up for reelection do: Senator Collins, Senator Gardner? They're going to have to pressure Majority Leader McConnell or not in terms of the rules and how this plays out. So far, most of the discussion is about a five to six-week trial. But Senator Rand Paul and others have told me that, if this trial is moving in a direction away from the president, if they don't like the way it's unfolding, they may call to dismiss the trial and hold a vote. And that could be the test for McConnell.

CHUCK TODD:

Stephanie, I want to ask you a more blatant campaign-strategy question about this. I want to show you this graphic. These are just ads about impeachment just this week. Here are the number of ads that Republican-affiliated groups have aired, 4,235, and the number of ads that Democratic-affiliated groups have aired on making the case for impeachment, one.

I know that Democrats didn't want to look like they were politicizing this. But we're at this public-opinion paralysis, arguably, because this hasn't been organic. Republicans have done a paid media campaign and it's at least worked to get it to where we are.

STEPHANIE CUTTER:

I'm not sure, Chuck, that those ads have split the country. This country's been split for a long time on impeachment. There is a slight majority that do believe that at least impeachment proceedings should proceed and many who believe that he should be removed from office.

A lot of those ads, when you dig down into it, are acquisition ads of people trying to build their own lists and things like that. And I think the difference is, Democrats are running ads. But they're running ads on things like getting prescription drugs done or reforming the healthcare system.

CHUCK TODD:

But isn't that part of the problem? Look, this is a giant effort that's going on. You're trying to say, the President of the United States --

STEPHANIE CUTTER: And there is -- absolutely.

CHUCK TODD:

-- shouldn't you all be on one line of --

STEPHANIE CUTTER:

No. Because actually-- you've seen this with Speak Pelosi this week and the week before. This is a somber, serious moment. This is about the impeachment of the President of the United States. Because the President of the United States, from the evidence that we've seen in the hearings thus far, and we'll see what comes out in the articles this week, you know, actively solicited foreign interference to secure his own election. And it wasn't the first time that he did it. And it's about a check on that abuse of power and breaking the public trust. That's serious. That's not something you put on Facebook ads to build your own political list. That's something that you run a very straight process through. And Democrats will get credit for that. There is time to build a public case. And also, it's not going to take much convincing that the president is guilty of this. Let's face it.

CHUCK TODD:

What's going on in your old district?

CARLOS CURBELO:

Well, Chuck, I think Nancy Pelosi has one more chance to go off script. We know what the script looks like here. Democrats impeach in the House. Republicans refuse to convict in the Senate. The divisions in the country are hardened. And the next election probably becomes, in large part, about impeachment. Or Nancy Pelosi can bring this to the brink and say, "You know what? We're so close to the election that we're going to trust the American people to make this decision. We’re -- "

CHUCK TODD:

What about this third idea? What about this third idea, over here?

CARLOS CURBELO:

"We are going to do something different, something that's unexpected, something that, rather than making a point, can make a difference in the country, can scramble our politics. A message to the American people, it may be a lot of you don't trust the government. But we're actually going to trust you to try to help fix this republic." I think our nation is due for that kind of moment, Chuck.

CHUCK TODD:

Stephanie, I'm curious of this, what Kristen's reporting, this third option --

STEPHANIE CUTTER:

-- of waiting until --

CHUCK TODD:

-- of waiting. How real is that, in your mind?

STEPHANIE CUTTER:

Well, I think that there is concern that if they move to the Senate too quickly and McConnell doesn't let new evidence be considered, because there is a real chance that new evidence will come out. There's active investigation. The court's going to rule on McGahn. That'll have an impact on Bolton. You know, there could be some administration witnesses that will be compelled to testify. That's all on the table. If McConnell sets rules that doesn't allow new evidence to be considered, then --

CHUCK TODD:

There's another wildcard. Rudy Giuliani. I mean, he is blatantly thumbing his nose at the Justice Department, SDNY. I mean, he's got associates under indictment. He may or may not be under direct inve -- a target of an investigation. What is he doing?

ROBERT COSTA:

He's been over in Ukraine. And he's sending a signal to Democrats. And Republicans on Capitol Hill, some of them are wary, but they're only being wary privately. They think the president is going to conduct political war in the coming five to ten weeks making his own case on Ukraine and corruption. We've heard echoes of it in Senator Cruz's interview with you. I did a front-page story for the Post this week about how the GOP is embracing the idea of Ukrainian interference despite testimony from U.S. officials, that counters that entirely.

CHUCK TODD:

By the way, testimony that Senator Ted Cruz elicited this week for what it's worth.

ROBERT COSTA:

You nailed it, Chuck. They're equating op-ed articles and political opinions with interference.

KRISTEN WELKER:

Rudy Giuliani is basically flouting the entire process, thumbing his nose, dangling the possibility that he might be releasing more information. And in text messages, I said, "Are you, in fact, going to turn over some type of information to Congress and Attorney General Bill Barr," as the president signaled he might do. He said he hasn't made any determination about that just yet. Privately, as Robert points out, I think that you have some Republicans who are a little uncomfortable and wondering, "Where is all of this going to go? Is it going to make it even worse?"

CHUCK TODD:

I think even Matt Gaetz expressed, going, "I don't know what Rudy's up to."

ROBERT COSTA:

Don't forget about beyond Giuliani, we have a Justice Department IG report and Barr's own report. So there's going to be a lot of new information coming out.

CHUCK TODD:

Hey, Kristen, very quickly, before we go, the president went really quickly in basically defending Saudi Arabia before we know anything here. And already, the president basically is on an island, when it comes to Saudi Arabia, these days. It's one of the few places where I think he hasn't been able to convince more Republicans to come over.

KRISTEN WELKER:

You have the shooting at the Naval Air Base in Pensacola. And you have President Trump tweeting out essentially, that he got that phone call, from the leader of Saudi Arabia apologizing. And it underscores how complicated his relationship is, the United States' relationship is with Saudi Arabia. So far, they have not called that terrorism. But based on my conversations, all signs are pointing in that direction.

CHUCK TODD:

Candidate Trump, what would candidate Trump have tweeted? When we come back, the growing anger in America and in American politics.

[BEGIN TAPE]

IGOR RODRIGUEZ:

People are having a crisis, because of police violence.

SHARON MCBRIDE:

One of the things that we’re going to get to here -- no, no, no, no, no!

IGOR RODRIGUEZ:

Who chose these people as black leaders?

[END TAPE]

CHUCK TODD:

Welcome back. In just the past week, we've seen more signs and scenes of the growing anger in American politics.

[BEGIN TAPE]

JOE BIDEN:

You said I set up my son to work in an oil company. Isn't that what you said? Get your words straight, Jack.

IGOR RODRIGUEZ:

People are having a crisis, because of police violence.

SHARON MCBRIDE:

One of the things that we’re going to get to here -- no, no, no, no, no!

[END TAPE]

CHUCK TODD:

And we also saw the caustic comments and angry stares between Democrats and Republicans during the House Intelligence Committee impeachment hearings over the last month. It's all been discouraging enough for one of the intel Democrats, who became a familiar face to many, Congressman Denny Heck of Washington state, who announced his retirement this week, writing, "The countless hours I have spent in the investigation of Russian election interference and the impeachment inquiry have rendered my soul weary." Denny Heck joins me now. Welcome to Meet the Press. That's something else there, "rendering my soul weary." You've been an active member of the political class, shall we say, for 40 years. This sounded like a statement of somebody who felt defeated. Is that how this feels these days?

REP. DENNY HECK:

Not so defeated, but my soul is weary, Chuck. I will go to my grave not understanding how some of my colleagues could simply turn the other way and overlook the president's behavior and his misdeeds, who would overlook his unrelenting attack, frankly, on the free press, overlook his kind of vicious character assassinations, sometimes gratuitously, as in the instance of Ambassador Yovanovitch --

CHUCK TODD:

Right.

REP. DENNY HECK:

-- and just frankly, ignore the fact that he has such, to put it charitably, a very distant relationship with the truth.

CHUCK TODD:

I imagine you've tried to strike up this conversation with many members, particularly those on the other side of the aisle. First of all, how many relationships, realistically, are there now across party lines?

REP. DENNY HECK:

Well, there's still a goodly number. Because the truth of the matter is, we live in a pluralistic society. And if we're going to get anything done, we're going to have to figure out how to make principled compromises. It is, however, one of my points of discouragement, that there are a growing number of people, on both sides of the aisle's bases, who simply don't believe in compromise, don't believe it even in principled compromises.

CHUCK TODD:

You actually put it really -- I loved how you put it in your statement. I want to put that up, actually, another part of this statement. You said, "Success seems to be measured by how many Twitter followers one has, which are largely gained by saying increasingly outrageous things, the more personal, the better. There are simply too many hyperbolic adjectives and too few nouns. Civility is out. Compromise is out. All or nothing is in." I mean, many of us couldn't have written it any better.

REP. DENNY HECK:

Well, I'll take that as a compliment. And thank you. Lots of people are voting with their feet, Chuck. The truth of the matter is, I think, even especially on the other side of the aisle, when you -- look, the facts are the facts. Three times as many Republicans are not running for reelection, who aren't seeking higher office this time, as Democrats. It was almost exactly the same two years ago. This is not their Republican Party. This is Trump's Republican Party. And they're voting with their feet. They won't say it publicly. Because they're afraid of the backlash.

CHUCK TODD:

One of my frustrations, when I do these interviews with folks who I'm always surprised are leaving, and who make a statement that feels, feels as if needed to be said, and at the same time, so then don't leave. Why leave, if you're trying to bring more civility? You seem to be one of the more civil ones. You seem to be somebody that isn't trying to do what you said here, get Twitter followers, attack your folks. You realize that the more of the civil folks that leave, you know who replaces them.

REP. DENNY HECK:

Chuck, I have run my race. I have fought the good fight. And I've kept the faith. And I am tired.

CHUCK TODD:

What do you --

REP. DENNY HECK:

Look, I'm a west-coaster, Chuck. I commute 150,000 miles per year, because my wife, Paula, she who must be obeyed, has stayed in Olympia. And we're newlyweds. We've only been married 44 years. And she occasionally has moments where she would like me home.

CHUCK TODD:

I get that, on the personal level. Are you concerned, though, that what we're going to see -- you saw these -- look, we invited a few of these Republicans, who have actually gone on the record about their weariness of being in here, to see if they would also have this conversation. Some of them didn't want to do that. But they're going to get replaced by more partisan and more caustic members, likely.

REP. DENNY HECK:

I actually have hope, Chuck. It's not a given. As Dr. Martin Luther King said, "Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability." But look, we've been treated to the worst of it, of late, in fact, as we sit here, the worst of it. But there also has been some of the best of it. Think about those courageous public servants who stepped forward and put their personal reputations and, indeed, their jobs at risk and were willing to speak truth to power. Think about the job the media has done, frankly, in steadfastly bringing this story into the living rooms of America and, I think, with great self-discipline and integrity, refused to out the whistleblower. And I think about all the people that came up to me on the floor this week, Democrats and Republicans, liberal and conservatives, and said the usual, very nice things. But you know what is very clear?

CHUCK TODD:

It was after you said you're leaving, though.

REP. DENNY HECK:

Yes.

CHUCK TODD:

I mean, you know, that's the frustrating aspect, right?

REP. DENNY HECK:

Chuck, here's what's clear. People don't want it to be this way. They really don't.

CHUCK TODD:

So why --

REP. DENNY HECK:

That hasn't changed it yet.

CHUCK TODD:

I was just going to say, because there's no doubt, if there were a secret ballot about this, everybody in Congress, I think, would say, "This isn't working." We’ve got to -- so you've been in, you’ve been in a state legislator. How do we get out of this? And is it just Trump? I mean, you've said it's not. But is it because of him that we can't try to get out of this now?

REP. DENNY HECK:

I think it starts with the occupant of the White House. And whomever replaces him, frankly, regardless of which political party or what their philosophy is, needs to bring a greater sense of decency and a greater loyalty to truth. But that's letting the rest of us off the hook, Chuck. And that's important to note.There was a recent survey that showed that less than a third of American adults can identify the three branches of the federal government. Look, Benjamin Franklin warned us about the, about the peril of keeping this republic. We've all got to double down on our commitment to the rule of law and free, fair, and open elections and a commitment to freedom of press and speech and religion and assembly.

CHUCK TODD:

If President Trump gets a second term, what do you think the impact's going to be on Congress?

REP. DENNY HECK:

That is a nightmare scenario, in my mind.

CHUCK TODD:

Why?

REP. DENNY HECK:

Because of the absence of a commitment to decency or truth on his part that has been amply demonstrated in his three years in public office, because of his refusal to recognize even the most basic precepts of constitutional principle.

CHUCK TODD:

Give some advice to a young person who's getting into politics, who sits there and looks at this and says, "Hmm, why should I risk character assassination of myself to run for office?"

REP. DENNY HECK:

America's worth fighting for.

CHUCK TODD:

There you go. Denny Heck, Democrat from Washington state, Tenth District. You're the founding congressman of the Tenth District. Anyway.

REP. DENNY HECK:

Thank you, Chuck.

CHUCK TODD:

Thanks for coming on and sharing your views. I appreciate it.

REP. DENNY HECK:

You're welcome.

CHUCK TODD:

When we come back, trading places, why Democrats and Republicans have switched sides, when it comes to seeing Russia as a threat.

CHUCK TODD:

Welcome back, Data Download time. As Democrats and Republicans argue about whether or not impeachment has anything or everything to do with Russia, the views each party has of the longtime adversary have moved in different directions. Back in February of 2015, Gallup’s data showed more Democrats held a favorable view of Russia, 26%, than Republicans did, just 19%.

By February of 2019, those numbers had reversed, with only 17% of Democrats holding a favorable view of Russia, compared with 30% of Republicans. Also back in 2015, there wasn't a lot of difference between Democrats and Republicans when it came to the issue of viewing Russia as a, quote, critical threat. 45% of Democrats said so, 52% of Republicans. Not much difference. But now, a full 64% of Democrats call Russia a critical threat, more than 20 points higher than the Republican number. So what's happening here? Democrats see that a president they loathe has found an ally in Russia. Republicans, meanwhile, dismiss that notion and tell Gallup they're less concerned with Russia than they are with China. That said, it's not too surprising that the Pew Research Center found only 15% of Democrats are confident the Trump administration is making serious efforts to prevent Russia from influencing the 2020 election, while 81% of Republicans say the administration is doing enough. That's a 66-point gap. And there's no reason those numbers will get any less partisan in an election year, especially with the Senate poised to take up Ukraine, Russia, and election interference during a possible impeachment hearing in the new year. When we come back, Endgame and a Democratic race that seems more unsettled than ever.

CHUCK TODD:

Back now with Endgame, where we seem to have a Democratic race where nobody has a path to the nomination, at least if -- that's how we're judging these poor candidates these days. It's all the negatives, negatives, negatives. Pete Buttigieg and Elizabeth Warren have decided each other is in their way. Elizabeth Warren has not name-checked many candidates on the trail on the Democratic primary side now, but she is with Mayor Pete with fundraisers. He's pushing back when it comes to her tax returns. Let me play an example from yesterday.

[BEGIN TAPE]

PETE BUTTIGIEG:

Well, I certainly think it would be a good idea for her to release tax returns, as I have, covering your entire career in the private sector.

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN:

It is time for everyone in this campaign, including the mayor, to open up those closed-door fundraisers and let the press come in. It's time to disclose who the bundlers are and who's getting special access.

[END TAPE]

CHUCK TODD:

You know, it's interesting, something both Elizabeth Warren and Pete Buttigieg seem to be nervous about a little something. Elizabeth Warren doesn't want to remind people what she did as a private attorney. Pete Buttigieg maybe isn’t ready to say -- doesn't want to own everything McKinsey has done over the years. And they're treading very lightly on here. Is this a good idea?

STEPHANIE CUTTER:

Well, I think Elizabeth Warren doesn't want to be debating Pete Buttigieg over Medicare for All anymore. So she's trying to change the topic and go after his lack of transparency on fundraising or lack of transparency on McKinsey records. The problem is she's not exactly pure either. So this is probably a net-net and also not really what primary voters want to be talking about.

CHUCK TODD:

It does seem as if -- what did you make of the Joe Biden move this week? And was it something that you thought, "Okay, he can take Trump on"? Or what was that about?

CARLOS CURBELO:

Well, I think it was good for him because it called attention to Joe Biden. And he's been kind of a flat character for a lot of this campaign. But it was, again, awkward. It was strange. And for a lot of people, that kind of irks them. So that's why I think candidates like Buttigieg, for example, are growing. And, by the way, it's not just Elizabeth Warren who's paying attention to him now. I think National Review put him on the front page. Of course, not a flattering piece. But I think some conservatives are worried about a candidate who has the coalition-building ability of Joe Biden but is polished and doesn't say weird things.

KRISTEN WELKER:

Chuck, I spoke to one Democratic strategist about that Joe Biden moment who said, "Yes, he showed passion. He showed anger. He showed he can be tough. And he gets to do that exactly once." He's got to find a way to talk about his son, to talk about this Ukraine matter, which is not going away--

CHUCK TODD:

He doesn't--

KRISTEN WELKER:

--in a dispassionate way.

CHUCK TODD:

One thing that surprised me, Robert Costa, he doesn't have one line yet. Or a dismissal. He seems, he doesn't have a comfortable dismiss line yet on this question.

ROBERT COSTA:

He has a theme though. You look at this race right now. Economic populism, Senator Warren it’s powerful, alongside with Senator Sanders. Buttigieg, an outsider from Indiana, generational change. Biden, seasoned hand. His ad this week highlighted the case he's making to voters. Those are the three emerging arguments in this Democratic race. Others, of course, are still in the contest and have a role to play in making their own arguments. But those are the three dividing lines.

CHUCK TODD:

One other candidate made news this week. It was Michael Bloomberg. And, boy, did he have a message to his own journalists who are complaining about the rules that he is trying to put on journalists covering the campaign. Let me play a bite of it.

[BEGIN TAPE]

GAYLE KING:

But even your own news reporters have complained. They think it's unfair that they're not allowed to investigate other Democratic candidates because their boss is in the race--

MICHAEL BLOOMBERG:

Okay, you just have to learn to live with some things. They get a paycheck. But with your paycheck comes some restrictions and responsibilities.

[END TAPE]

CHUCK TODD:

How is it that Michael Bloomberg is falling into a trap? I mean, Donald Trump didn't dissuade himself from his business. This seems like an unforced error.

STEPHANIE CUTTER:

Yeah, there has to be a better way to handle this than telling an entire news organization that they can't cover certain things because he's now in the race and telling them to get over it because he pays them.

CHUCK TODD:

He needs to read the First Amendment.

STEPHANIE CUTTER:

He needs to read the First Amendment and also understand what we've gone through in the Trump years in terms of suppression of the media.

ROBERT COSTA:

Look, he's made some early stumbles. But I was in Philadelphia yesterday talking to suburban voters. They want to hear more.

CHUCK TODD:

Yeah. No, no, no, no. He's going to get a hearing. He'll get a hearing--

STEPHANIE CUTTER:

But this issue is going to stick with him. He's got to figure out the Bloomberg News issue and not leave it where it is right now.

CARLOS CURBELO:

And some advice, unsolicited for Democrats, acting like Trump is not the path to victory. You have to--

CHUCK TODD:

He came across a little arrogant--

CARLOS CURBELO:

--No one is going to be angry like Trump. Joe Biden has to learn that. And no one is going to be a tougher boss than Trump. I think Bloomberg has to learn that, too.

CHUCK TODD:

All right. I'm going to shift the conversation. It’s -- There was an op-ed in the last 24 hours, guys, from Katie Hill, the now former member of Congress from California. It was pretty raw. She described she went through this where she had to resign due to explicit photos, and an awkward relationship, and all this stuff that became public. She described suicidal moments and suicidal tendencies. And she describes, she poured it all out there. What did you take away from it?

KRISTEN WELKER:

It was heartbreaking. It was enraging to read it as a woman. And I think that a couple of things stood out to me. One, she talked about the strength it required for her to leave her husband, her relationship, that she describes as being toxic. And when she made that decision, she was further abused. And I think it's a reminder that as a society we have to create a safe space for women to be able to leave relationships that are toxic in that way. And it underscores, I think, how toxic our politics have become. Worth noting, Chuck, she says in this op-ed that Nancy Pelosi urged her not to step down.

CHUCK TODD:

Carlos, what'd you take away from it as a member?

CARLOS CURBELO:

So, look, I was 34 years old when I got elected to Congress. And what I can tell you, Chuck, is that public life -- not just politics -- Public life is very difficult in our country these days. And it's because our society is sick. And that's why as our leaders handle impeachment and all these big issues I think what they should keep at the forefront is healing. This country needs healing.

CHUCK TODD:

We have a vengeful culture.

STEPHANIE CUTTER:

We do. And particularly if it's being driven by an ex-husband seeking revenge. I just, my takeaway from reading that article is I hope it's not the last time we hear from her. I hope she finds a way to stay in public life.

CHUCK TODD:

I'll tell you, that was a powerful voice this morning. I encourage everybody to please read it. That's all for today. Thank you for watching. We'll be back next week. Because if it's Sunday, it's Meet the Press.