Meet the Press - January 26, 2020

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CHUCK TODD:

This Sunday, the impeachment trial of Donald John Trump. The first week begins with rancor --

REP. JERRY NADLER:

But they do not seriously contest any of the allegations against the president. And they lie. And lie and lie and lie.

PAT CIPOLLONE:

The only one who should be embarrassed, Mr. Nadler, is you.

CHUCK TODD:

With the president saying he'd like to face off against House Democrats.

PRES. DONALD TRUMP:

Sit right in the front row and stare into their corrupt faces.

CHUCK TODD:

The week ends with closing arguments from Democrats --

REP. ADAM SCHIFF:

You know you can't trust this president to do what's right for this country. You can trust he will do what's right for Donald Trump.

CHUCK TODD:

-- and the beginning of the White House's defense:

PAT CIPOLLONE:

They're here to perpetrate the most massive election interference in American history.

CHUCK TODD:

My guests this morning: the Democrats' lead impeachment manager, Congressman Adam Schiff of California and Republican Senator and impeachment juror, Mike Braun of Indiana. Plus: Eight days to Iowa.

PETE BUTTIGIEG:

It's all going to come down to Iowa.

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN:

Iowa.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS:

Iowa.

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR:

Iowa.

CHUCK TODD:

With new polling out of Iowa and New Hampshire showing where the Democratic race may be headed. This morning, I'll talk to Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota. Joining me for insight and analysis are: NBC News White House Correspondent Kristen Welker, Mark Leibovich, Chief National Correspondent for The New York Times Magazine, Amy Walter, National Editor for the Cook Political Report and Lanhee Chen, a fellow at the Hoover Institution. 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. Even without impeachment, it was not hard last week to find examples of how divided as a country we have become. There was last Saturday's fourth annual women's march here in Washington, inspired by opposition to President Trump. Then there was Monday's pro-gun rally in Richmond, Virginia: that's in the former capital of the Confederacy, on the Martin Luther King, Jr., holiday. And there was the annual anti-abortion "March for Life" on Friday, with Donald Trump making a first-ever appearance by a sitting American president. Then for pure absurdity, there was a red-blue shoving match with Oklahoma banning state-funded travel to California, after California did the same to Oklahoma. All this, of course, was the undercard to the main event, the first full week of President Trump's impeachment trial. Over three days, Democratic impeachment managers methodically laid out their case that President Trump abused power and obstructed Congress. But Democrats made that case needing at least 20 votes from Republican senators who seem as indifferent to their arguments as Democrats were passionate in making them. As the events around the country last week suggest, the Democratic - Republican stalemate on Capitol Hill was less a cause than a reflection of our national divide. And that divide may grow even wider, as it appears Republicans may bring a quicker end to the impeachment trial then Democrats want.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF:

I implore you, give America a fair trial.

CHUCK TODD:

House Democrats wrapped up three days of arguments - making the case that President Trump abused his power by pressuring Ukraine to interfere in the 2020 election for his personal gain.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF:

You can't trust this president to do what's right for this country. You can trust he will do what's right for Donald Trump.

REP. HAKEEM JEFFRIES:

President Trump tried to cheat. He got caught. And then he worked hard to cover it up.

REP. JERRY NADLER:

He is a dictator.

CHUCK TODD:

Democrats are using the president's own words against him.

PRES. DONALD TRUMP:

Then I have in article 2 where I have the right to do whatever I want as president.

CHUCK TODD:

The attorney for indicted Giuliani associate Lev Parnas turned over cell phone video to the House intelligence committee recorded by associate Igor Fruman, who is also under indictment. It appears to show President Trump talking about removing ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch at an April 2018 dinner with donors and was also released to NBC News.

PRES. DONALD TRUMP:

Get rid of her. Get her out tomorrow. I don't care. Get her out tomorrow. Take her out. Okay? Do it.

CHUCK TODD:

President Trump was asked about the recording on Friday.

REPORTER:

Were you telling Parnas to get rid of her? I mean you have a State Department?

PRES. DONALD TRUMP:

I wouldn't have been saying that. I probably would have said if it was Rudy there or somebody. I want ambassadors that are chosen by me.

CHUCK TODD:

On Saturday - the president's legal team fired back - making it clear they believe their strongest argument is not the facts, but the calendar.

PAT CIPOLLONE:

They're asking you to remove President Trump from the ballot in an election that's occurring in approximately 9 months.

CHUCK TODD:

And echoing President Trump by raising doubts about the intelligence community, including the FBI.

JAY SEKULOW:

The president had reason to be concerned about the information he was being provided.

CHUCK TODD:

What's not yet clear is just how aggressively they plan to target Joe Biden and his son.

JOE BIDEN:

They've gone after me, telling lies about me, my surviving son they've gone after him. They've gone after my whole family.

CHUCK TODD:

Though large majorities of Americans believe the Senate should call new witnesses to testify -- it's not clear Democrats will get the 4 Republican votes they need.

SEN. DICK DURBIN:

I am afraid that's going to fail on its face. Maybe a couple of Republican senators will dissent.

SEN. LAMAR ALEXANDER:

I think the House managers have done a good job making their arguments but that doesn't mean I will agree with them.

CHUCK TODD:

And some Senate Republicans are trying to deflect questions about the substance, by dismissing it as old news.

SEN. TOM COTTON:

House Democrats repeat themselves time and time again.

SEN MIKE BRAUN:

There's nothing that I've heard so far that I didn't see before.

SEN. JOHN BARRASSO:

I didn't hear anything new

CHUCK TODD:

And joining me now is the House's lead impeachment manager, Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff. Chairman Schiff, welcome back to Meet the Press.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF:

Thank you.

CHUCK TODD:

Let me start with getting your reaction. I know you did some reaction to the president's legal team yesterday. But do you -- what message do you believe they're trying to send to those jurors in there? And do you see their attempt at a defense being mostly about making the case against witnesses?

REP. ADAM SCHIFF:

I do. I think they're deathly afraid of what witnesses will have to say. And so their whole strategy has been deprive the public of a fair trial. They don't frame it that way, but that's in essence it. They have a very heavy burden though with that because the American people understand what a fair trial is. A fair trial requires witnesses. A fair trial does not consist of the person who is charged agreeing with the judges to deprive the prosecution from being able to make a case. So it's hard to argue, "We don't want to hear the evidence," particularly when they say, "We should hear from more direct witnesses who talked to the president, but we're not going to allow them to be called." What was so striking to me really about their case was that they basically acknowledge the scheme. They don't really contest the president's scheme. They don't say, "No, he didn't try to get foreign help in the election." They don't say that there was no evidence that he was conditioning the aid. They just try to make the case that, "You don't need a fair trial here. You can make this go away." But, look, if they're successful in depriving the country of a fair trial, there is no exoneration. There is no exoneration. Americans will recognize that the country did not get what the founders intended because they put the word try in the Constitution for a reason.

CHUCK TODD:

They -- the other part of the president's defense is to call into question the investigators, whether it's you or the intelligence community. Jay Sekulow basically said, "The president had every -- has every right to question," essentially defending the idea that the president does have suspicions about Ukraine's role in 2016, going after the intelligence community. Were you surprised that the president's counsel did that on the floor of the Senate?

REP. ADAM SCHIFF:

I was surprised. I think it was a huge mistake. Basically, what he did, and this was really following the presentation we made the day before about the threat the president poses to the country because he continues to choose to believe people like Rudy Giuliani, he continues to believe Russian propaganda over his own intelligence agencies, over his own FBI director and that makes him dangerous to our country. And what do they do? They go and double down on that same crazy conspiracy theory, that Ukraine hacked the DNC server. It's astonishing. And, you know, for -- on the first day of the president's defense to say, "The president should disbelieve his own intelligence agencies. He has every right to believe Vladimir Putin," I wouldn't want to be making that argument.

CHUCK TODD:

You were also a star of their defense as well, including, I think, an exchange you and I had about the Russian collusion issue, as well as your opening statement on the phone call. Any regrets about either of those two moments yourself?

REP. ADAM SCHIFF:

No. And, you know, I'm glad you asked the question about collusion because, again, they may be perpetuating the president's talking points, but they've got it exactly wrong. Bob Mueller did not find that there was no collusion. In fact, in the first couple pages of the report he said, "We don't address that issue. What we found is we could not prove criminal conspiracy beyond a reasonable doubt." But nonetheless, what he did find is that the president’s – the Russians offered the president dirt on his opponent and they said they would love to have it. Literally put it in writing. But the more important point, Chuck, and the relevance of the Mueller report to all this, because we're not trying the Mueller report, is that this isn't the first time that he invited foreign interference. That is the background of the current effort to get a foreign nation to help him cheat in an election. You can't say it's an accident when you repeatedly are seeking foreign help. And in this case, we proved overwhelmingly that they were leveraging hundreds of millions of dollars that Ukraine needed in military aid and a deeply sought-after Oval Office meeting to coerce Ukraine into helping him cheat.

CHUCK TODD:

The president's defense team also brought up the FISA issue sort of in general because there was a report this week that the Justice Department has now said that those renewal applications, two of them to survey Carter Page, lacked probable cause, should not have been authorized, and essentially, I think, tried to freeze any information that was collected around it. What's your reaction to the Justice Department new decision on that?

REP. ADAM SCHIFF:

Well, look, you know, for the purposes of the impeachment trial, it's a pretty remarkable argument, which is because there flaws and serious flaws in a FISA application involving a single person, Carter Page, the refore the president has every right to disbelieve the unanimous conclusion of the intelligence agencies that Russia interfered in our last election, they'll likely interfere in the next election. And therefore the president is right to investigate his political rival, Joe Biden. I don't know how one thing follows from the other. But it shows, I think, the weakness of their argument that there was some justification for the president using the power of his office to investigate his opponent. And I just don't think you can make that case persuasively to the American people.

CHUCK TODD:

Where are you on witness reciprocity?

REP. ADAM SCHIFF:

Look, I think the president has the right to call relevant witnesses, just as we do, in his defense. He doesn't have the right to call irrelevant witnesses or witnesses who aren't fact witnesses.

CHUCK TODD:

Well, if the Senate says he does, why not then -- I mean, that's the way the trial rules work. I mean, I understand where you come from, but if the Senate says he can, then he can.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF

Well, the Senate can make whatever decision the Senate can make. And the American people can judge that decision. But if we're talking about a fair trial, if the Senators are going to give content to their oath to be impartial administrators of justice, they can't say, ‘Well, we're going to allow the president to trade witnesses that don't shed any light on the facts, but would allow him to, once again, try to smear his opponent. We're going to make that the pound of flesh. We're going to make that the cost of calling relevant witnesses.’

CHUCK TODD:

If they're irrelevant, what are you afraid of? Won't that be exposed?

REP. ADAM SCHIFF:

Well, it's not a question of what I'm afraid of. I'm not afraid of anything. The question is: Should the trial be used as a vehicle to smear his opponent? Is that the purpose of a Senate trial? Or is it to get to the truth? Because if it's to get to the truth, Hunter Biden can't tell us anything about the withholding of the military funding. Hunter Biden can't tell us why the president wouldn't let the president of Ukraine into the Oval Office. Hunter Biden can't tell us anything about that. And so, you know, it's a false choice to say, "Well, if the House gets to call the witnesses, doesn't the president?" Yes, we both get to call witnesses. We both get to call relevant o nes. And one other point on this, Chuck, which is important. We have a very capable justice sitting right behind me who can make decisions about the materiality of witnesses. We trust the Supreme Court justice, the chief justice, to make those decisions. And one final thing, if you will.

CHUCK TODD:

Okay.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF:

The president's team is pushing out the argument, "We don't have time to call witnesses. We'd really love to have these people testify. We just don't have time to do it. It would be too inconvenient." That's a dodge. We have a justice who can make decisions if there's any legitimate claim of privilege. It can go to the justice --

CHUCK TODD:

Their argument is that it interferes in the presidential election, that we start to creep too close to it and that basically, "At what point should voters have this decision versus the Senate?"

REP. ADAM SCHIFF:

Well, it's a broader argument than that. Their argument is, "You cannot impeach a president in his first term because it will either overturn the will of the voters who elected him or prevent him from being on the ballot the next time." Now, the remedy of impeachment, if it's to being a meaningful remedy, means that you can remove a president from office and if a president commits serious misconduct in his first term, he doesn't get a pass. The danger to the country is particularly acute when the conduct involves threatening the integrity of the next election because that's normally the remedy. But if he is allowed to cheat in that election, it's not a proper remedy.

CHUCK TODD:

What do you make of the criticism that some Republican senators, who you might want to see vote for witnesses, didn't like your "head on a pike" comment? Murkowski, Collins, and Ernst. All three Republican senators who are -- might be open to witnesses thought you got too personal.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF:

Well, I don't think it was personal to refer to the CBS story. What may be personal though, and I think I have to be very candid about this, is I made the argument that it's going to require moral courage to stand up to this president. And this is a wrathful and vindictive president. I don't think there's any doubt about it. And if you think there is, look at the president's tweets about me today, saying that I should pay a price.

CHUCK TODD:

Do you take that as a threat?

REPRESENTATIVE ADAM SCHIFF:

I think it's intended to be. But, look, it is going to be very difficult for some of these senators to stand up to this president. It really is. There's just no question about it. And, and I want to acknowledge that. And I don't want to acknowledge it in a way that is offensive to them, but I do want to speak candidly about it. And if this weren't an issue, there wouldn't be an issue about calling witnesses. If we can't even get the senators to agree to call witnesses in a trial, it shows you just how difficult that moral courage is.

CHUCK TODD:

Well, we're going to try to have that conversation in a second. Chairman Adam Schiff, thanks for coming on, sharing your --

REP. ADAM SCHIFF:

Thanks.

CHUCK TODD:

-- views. We'll be watching next week. Senate Republicans do seem increasingly unlikely to agree to hear any witnesses at the impeachment trial. Nearly two weeks ago, Republican Senator Mike Braun of Indiana suggested if Democrats do want to hear from witnesses, it would come at a price.

[BEGIN TAPE]

SEN. MIKE BRAUN:

If you want witnesses, I can't imagine where anybody would agree unless there was reciprocity. You get a witness, we get a witness. So that means if you're talking about Bolton, Mulvaney, you're talking about Hunter Biden, maybe Joe Biden, maybe the whistleblower. And I think it's disingenuous for them to talk about witnesses like it's in a vacuum.

[END TAPE]

CHUCK TODD:

And I'm joined now by that senator you just heard from. He's Republican Mike Braun of Indiana. I guess you're technically a freshman senator.

SEN. MIKE BRAUN:

I am.

CHUCK TODD:

So, Senator Braun --

SEN. MIKE BRAUN:

Don't feel like it.

CHUCK TODD:

I was just going to say, "Welcome to the NFL," as they say. Welcome to Meet the Press. Let me get on this witness question. And I want to get at it by you first hearing something that Peggy Noonan, a columnist in the Wall Street Journal, said to me on Friday. Take a listen.

[BEGIN TAPE]

PEGGY NOONAN:

Get them in there. Show history you did your best. Avoid the stigma of, "Yeah, they won, but they didn't let the extra people talk." Avoid the stigma. Respect history. Make the case big. End of story.

[END TAPE]

CHUCK TODD:

She's basically saying, "You've got the votes. Be magnanimous here." Because it’s if -- you want to essentially, heal the country. You want to prove you went above and beyond. What do you say to her?

SEN. MIKE BRAUN:

The first place I saw that happen early was when several of us decided that, "Why argue about what to submit into the record?" Everything that happened in the House. And I was one of them. And then when it was a discussion of how much time do we need to spend, I now know that we did need three days on each side, if you're going to take especially most of that 24 hours. But when it comes to this, I think it goes back to where I'm from, and it was ironic. And I'll make this quick. I met Adam just in the green room.

CHUCK TODD:

Very Washington moment we just had. I understand that --

SEN. MIKE BRAUN:

Very Washington moment. I think born in Massachusetts, lives in California, represents the Hollywood district. I was born in rural southern Indiana, moved to Boston for two years to go to school and come back. And I asked him, "When we're done with this, can we get together on, like, health care?" where I've led the way. He said yes. That's a moment where I think we can take optimism out of something that looks so divided. But when it comes to witnesses and Peggy's point, Chuck Schumer and Speaker Pelosi, and I think Speaker Pelosi was more apprehensive about this whole thing playing out to get to where it is now, they knew the rules. They knew Mitch McConnell was on the other side, controlling it. And for me, I paid attention to each version of the House inquiry, behind closed doors, public version, the four constitutional experts, and was really looking for what I found that was new. And it was repackaging. So I think when it comes to witnesses, each senator will have to ask with the political exigencies within their own area and the fairness factor, "Do we need them?" And I'll --

CHUCK TODD:

It's interesting, this new issue, okay? If you didn't hear anything new, then don't you want to hear from witnesses like John Bolton, who you've yet to hear from? I mean, to me this is a contradiction, that this, this talking point hasn't been squared very well. Fair?

SEN. MIKE BRAUN:

I think if you want to take that point of view, yes. For many of us, depending on where you're from -- and this also is not only your own conscience you have to measure here. It is what your constituents --

CHUCK TODD:

I was just going to say, do you believe your vote --

SEN. MIKE BRAUN:

-- you know, talk about --

CHUCK TODD:

I was just going to ask you that. Do you believe you're casting your vote for the people that elected you? Or are you casting your vote based on your interpretation of the oath you took?

SEN. MIKE BRAUN:

And it is a tricky combination of both. Because I came here clearly not to be embroiled in this. Brought some things from Main Street that I thought would make sense. And on all of those issues, whether it's this or what I really came here to do, it'll always be based on principle. And here, the case so far -- and I'll give them credit. They've put together a broad, comprehensive case. But it was circumstantial in nature. And then you say, "Well, you're splitting hairs." But this is a political process. Begs the question of all of us as jurors. You know, and none of us would be there in a normal trial. So.

CHUCK TODD:

Well, I guess the case for witnesses that Adam Schiff made that I thought was an intriguing one, was, "Don't you want to get to the bottom of it now? Why wait til the book comes out? Or why wait till more recordings from Lev Parnas show up that suddenly -- you know, why do that? Why risk that? Don't you want to know it now and then decide?"

SEN. MIKE BRAUN:

So 20 years ago, which is our only guideline, and we were starting to get politically charged then, and it was probably a mistake, and it was clearly proven out when it occurred. So here, we're now in a more polarized time and place. And I think when it comes to seeing all this information, that is going to be so intertwined with your own political context. And that's what each senator is wrestling with. I talked to Lisa, I talked to Susan at the tail end. And they are wrestling with that. And it's a bigger deal in some places. In my area, the fact that they were talking about impeachment around inauguration, it was a partisan, you know, vote coming over. And then it does overturn an election and it prevents another one nine months away. That's what Hoosiers are thinking about.

CHUCK TODD:

When it comes to, though, the issue itself, which is this idea that the president used government resources to benefit himself personally, it's clear he made this attempt. You can decide whether -- you've said yourself the call wasn't perfect. The question is if you believe impeachment is too big, too strong of a penalty, what's the right penalty?

SEN. MIKE BRAUN:

So that topic from reporters kept coming up about censure. And all I can say on this issue, this ought to be instructive to anyone here that if you're pushing the envelope or doing things that may not feel right, let alone be right, you better be careful. Because we're in that kind of atmosphere now --

CHUCK TODD:

Donlad Trump doesn’t -- this president, as you know, he's going to take acquittal and think, "I can keep doing this."

SEN. MIKE BRAUN:

No, I don't think that. Hopefully it'll be instructive to where --

CHUCK TODD:

When you say "hopefully," I mean, what's the evidence in his lifetime that he takes any sort of whatever it is, a misdemeanor ticket or whatever, and then he accepts that and goes, "Yeah, I'll change my behavior"?

SEN. MIKE BRAUN:

I think he'll put two and two together. In this case, he was taken to the carpet. And it's because --

CHUCK TODD:

You think he has regret with what he did?

SEN. MIKE BRAUN:

I think he'll be instructed by what has occurred here. And certainly any individual would want to avoid whatever might need to be modified to go through this again. Because the threat has already been out there that we may find something else to impeach on, which I think is a mistake because I think we need to get back to what most Americans are interested in: the agenda.

CHUCK TODD:

You got, you got hit on Twitter because there's a photo of you and Rudy Giuliani and Lev Parnas.

SEN. MIKE BRAUN:

Yeah.

CHUCK TODD:

And we'll put it up because I want to ask you this question about Rudy Giuliani. Are you at all now questioning the president's judgment based on how much he relies on Rudy Giuliani? I mean, look at -- you took a photo with him. You were trusting him that he wasn't going to put somebody who was eventually going to get indicted in a photo with you. First of all, do you trust Rudy Giuliani anymore?

SEN. MIKE BRAUN::

First of all, I'd say you'd have to question who his cohorts are, Igor and Lev. That's --

CHUCK TODD:

What about Rudy's judgment.

SEN. MIKE BRAUN:

And I think that brings that into play, too. I had not met Rudy other than his 15-minute cameo appearance put on by the Indiana GOP. And now I'm in a frameable picture.

CHUCK TODD:

No, I get that. But that's on Rudy. And does it call into question the president's judgment in your mind, that he surrounds himself with these folks?

SEN. MIKE BRAUN:

Remember I said "instructive"? I think that you need to take all of that into consideration. Because when you get through this, you want to get back on those issues that I came here for: the climate discussion. We're foot draggers on it. We are on health care. And if you want to be successful as your vindication with an agenda, let's get focused on that.

CHUCK TODD:

Senator Mike Braun, Republican from Indiana, I'm going to have to leave it there. Thanks for coming on and sharing your perspective.

SEN. MIKE BRAUN:

You're welcome.

CHUCK TODD:

We appreciate it. When we come back, there's a campaign going on. We've got brand new polls from Iowa and New Hampshire. And I'll talk to a Democratic candidate and senator, Amy Klobuchar, who's finally able to campaign in Iowa, at least for a day.

CHUCK TODD:

Welcome back. If you needed proof that Bernie Sanders is surging look no further than to two new polls we have for you this morning. A New York Times Siena College poll shows Sanders taking the lead in Iowa with 25%, ahead of three other candidates bunched in the teens, Buttigieg, Biden, and Warren. Amy Klobuchar is at eight percent. And in New Hampshire our brand new NBC News Marist poll among likely Democratic primary voters in that state has the exact same order with Sanders again pulling into the lead. Amy Klobuchar got some good news in that poll, double digits there. And she also got the endorsement of the New Hampshire Union Leader, that state's largest newspaper. And Senator Klobuchar joins me now. From Waterloo, Iowa, Senator Klobuchar, welcome back to Meet The Press.

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR:

Well, hey, Chuck. It's great to be back.

CHUCK TODD:

Well, you get to be in Iowa for a day. But you spent yesterday, half of it in Iowa and half of it listening to the president's first -- president's legal team, give their first day of defense. What did you make of the tact they're taking here, which is essentially accepting some of the facts, questioning the interpretation. Do you think they're making a case against witnesses?

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR:

I think the House manager made the case, Chuck. And I am simply, I just keep looking over at colleagues and thinking, "You want to get to the truth. You know, you got elected to this job not to serve at the pleasure of the president, but to represent the people." And I don't know how they can cut out facts and evidence, and then as I heard my colleague just say on your show, and then he says, "Well, it's circumstantial." Well, come on. Let's get to the founding fathers' musical -- Hamilton and talk about the people who were in the room where it happened. That would be Bolton. That would be Mulvaney. They have the facts. They were there. And no matter how they vote on impeachment in the end, Americans want a fair trial. The polls show, overwhelmingly, people want to hear from the witnesses. So that's what I keep thinking when I hear the back and forth. Let's just get this done, hear the witnesses. And that is not what they're doing. They are afraid to hear from those witnesses.

CHUCK TODD:

Dick Durbin, your colleague from Illinois, number two in leadership, is sounding a pretty pessimistic note that you're not going to have the votes for witnesses. You have said that you have been running, essentially, during the breaks, talking to Republican colleagues. You're usually involved in whatever bipartisan gangs --

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR:

Yes.

CHUCK TODD:

-- used to exist. Do you share his pessimism?

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR:

I still wait until that vote happens. People surprise you. And I think about these moments of courage, which I keep discussing with my Republican colleagues. You know, John McCain with that arm of his that was, because of torture, he could hardly move it and lift it, when he voted no against repealing the Affordable Care Act. I think about Lisa Murkowski, along with my friends Heidi Heitkamp and Claire McCaskill, when they just didn't have the stomach to vote for, then Judge Kavanaugh, because of what had gone on in that hearing and in the past. Those were moments of courage where people voted against their immediate political interest. But they did things for the country. And that's what we're asking them to do, not even actually for their vote on impeachment right now, no, the vote just to allow witnesses to come forward. Because zero witnesses plus zero evidence equals zero justice.

CHUCK TODD:

Your campaigning to win the Democratic nomination. You believe one of the things that makes you a better candidate is that you can beat Donald Trump, which implies you expect to be facing Donald Trump.

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR:

Yes.

CHUCK TODD:

So let me ask it this way: When do we get to the point where it should be the voters instead of the senators that make this decision in your mind?

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR:

Look, right now we're doing two things at once. I'm a mom, I can do that. We've got the impeachment proceeding going on with those hundred jurors who are there representing the public. But as I say when I'm out here in Iowa, "You know what? You are the jurors. You are ultimately the jurors in the primary and in the election." And to me what you want for a candidate, you want someone that recognizes that, that this is a decency check in addition to an economic check on this president. And if we want to win, we have to bring people with us that don't agree with everything that's said on that debate stage. I don't agree with everything that's said on that debate stage. But I do know that I bring the receipts of bringing in people in the suburbs and the rural areas in a big way. And that's why I think you see me surging, going up slowly but surely, in these states, getting the New York Times endorsement, the Quad-City Times, the biggest paper in New Hampshire. This all matters Chuck, it’s momentum.

CHUCK TODD:

But let me ask you this. As you've seen, it's clear this is a very divided party right now. But you're divided for different reasons. There's some ideological divides, there's divides in hand-wringing over who's the best candidate to take on Trump, what should the vote be? Let me ask this: How quickly do you think that Democrats need to unite around the front-runner, when there is a front-runner, meaning, you know -- and we know -- you know it when you see it, okay? How quickly do you think that needs to happen?

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR:

Quickly. And I envision that happening not right away --

CHUCK TODD:

So let me ask you this --

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR:

-- not with the field that we have --

CHUCK TODD:

-- if you don't --

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR:

But let me just say, when it is time, we must unify because what unites us is so much bigger than what divides us. Our people, that's what they want to do. And I think they are ready to march forward together. But we must have candidates that are willing to do that and lead. And I think we have that.

CHUCK TODD:

You're ready to support whether it's Bernie Sanders or Joe Biden or Elizabeth Warren, obviously you would support yourself. Are you ready to support any of those --

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR:

Obviously.

CHUCK TODD:

-- any of those folks?

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR:

I'm ready to support the winner, but I make a strong case here that if you look at how we've won in states like Louisiana and Kentucky and in Wisconsin, where we beat Scott Walker, or in Michigan, this is about candidates that reflected their states. I think Senator Sanders idea of kicking 149 million Americans off their current health insurance in four years is wrong. That's why I don't think he should be leading the ticket. I think I should be leading the ticket because my ideas are much more in sync with bold ways of getting things done, taking on the pharmaceutical companies, nonprofit public option, having an education plan that actually matches our economy, and the experience of getting things done. I'm the only one in the Senate running left on that stage that has passed over 100 bills as the lead Democrat. That matters to people right now.

CHUCK TODD:

Are you okay with the fact that if you're successful with witnesses you cannot be in Iowa on caucus night?

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR:

That will be, that will be what happens. I've always believed that the obstacles on the path are not obstacles, they are the path. If that happens, I think the people of this state and all the four early states, if it goes on that long, they get that we have a constitutional job to do. And that is what I will be doing.

CHUCK TODD:

Senator Amy Klobuchar, Democrat from Minnesota, be safe on the campaign trail and you guys try to run back and forth --

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR:

Thanks, Chuck. It's great to be on.

CHUCK TODD:

-- from D.C. to Iowa. When we come back, could the impeachment trial conclude by the end of the week? Should it? Panel is next.

CHUCK TODD:

Welcome back. The panel is here. Lanhee Chen, fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, Amy Walter, national editor for the Cook Political Report, NBC News White House correspondent and Weekend TODAY co-anchor, Kristen Welker, and Mark Liebovich, chief national correspondent for the New York Times Magazine. Kristen Welker, this is what Republican senators that many of us have identified as potential voters for witnesses and more evidence responded to some issues with the House impeachment managers. Joni Ernst: "It's hard to keep an open mind when there's so much baloney being thrown at you." Susan Collins: "I was stunned by Congressman Nadler's approach." Lisa Murkowski: "Schiff was moving right along with a good oratory, then he got a couple of places, and that was unnecessary." Maybe we're all going to overread these things, but it is interesting that here are some folks going out of their way to indicate, finding ways to not be for witnesses, or not be happy about the House impeachment managers.

KRISTEN WELKER:

That's right. They were almost given a way out, Chuck. And what was notable, talking to Democrats and Republicans, they said, "We just don't have four votes right now." Romney might be a yes, Collins might be a yes, but Murkowski indicating she's not going to be a yes. So where do you find those other votes? They're looking potentially at Lamar Alexander. One Democrat said to me last night, "We're looking for our John McCain." I thought that was interesting that you heard Senator Klobuchar invoke his name as well, and they said, "Look, we're basically going to wrap ourselves in the American flag until this vote to try to hammer home that point that Chairman Schiff was making,” which is essentially that we need to have all of the facts here before we have a fair trial.

AMY WALTER:

And this, to me, is the fascinating part of all of it, that Chairman Schiff makes the case, you've got to be politically courageous, go take on your president, take on your base. But I think if we've learned anything in these last few years, if you are a senator in a swing state, it's not just that you have to worry that your base is going to abandon you if you go against the president. It's that voters who say they're swing voters, voters who said they want principle over politics, at the end of the day they vote their politics. So at the end of the day, if Susan Collins comes out and said, "I did the right thing and the principled thing," and Democrats in Maine say, "That's so great, Susan Collins." And then we say, "Are you going to," to that Democrat, "Are you going to vote for Susan Collins?" "Of course not, because I hate Donald Trump and I'm going to vote for the Democrat." So the incentive structure is broken not just with the partisans --

CHUCK TODD:

-- Right, there's no reward --

AMY WALTER:

-- but with the people who say they want, there's no reward --

CHUCK TODD:

-- there's no reward to be a moderate.

LANHEE CHEN:

Yeah, I mean, I would say also that I think the two arguments that have been advanced by Mitch McConnell and by the Trump White House, I think there is some traction there in the sense that, one, they don't want to be sitting there forever. And I think they do think that calling witnesses is going to result in a lot of litigation. It's going to take a lot of time. I do think that is an argument that has penetrated, and I do think amongst those who are potentially swingy --

CHUCK TODD:

-- Is the Senate busy? --

LANHEE CHEN:

-- there’s something there. Well--

CHUCK TODD:

I will say this, my only issue is that this is a Senate that basically just confirms judges. So it's not like they have a lot to do, they could just sit there--

LANHEE CHEN:

They're not busy for a few weeks, but they are busy in the next few months. So I think the argument is that it could take a few months. And then the other piece of this that I think you're starting to hear more and more people say is, "Well, the House should've done its job." And I think that argument also is starting to sink in as well.

MARK LEIBOVICH:

I would say this, though. I mean, to Amy's point, every person she mentioned as an example of courage in the Senate, she mentioned Claire McCaskill, Heidi Heitkamp, John McCain, none of them are there anymore. And the first two were voted out of office, you know, just about a year and a half ago. So I mean, again, like, to Amy's point, the voters are sort of who decides where or how a lot of the calculus is decided.

CHUCK TODD:

So what's acquittal going to look like? Mike Braun, Lanhee, wants to have people believe, or maybe he wants to believe, or maybe he wants to believe that somehow the president is going to have learned something here. That feels like, "Okay, fool me once, fool me twice, fool me three." So, you know, at what point do you stop counting?

LANHEE CHEN:

There are no teachable moments in this process. No one is learning anything. The president is not learning anything. Democrats are not learning anything. The notion that somehow we can arise from this and there can be some opportunities. So no, I don't think, there's no alternative here, right? What's going to happen is that the President's going to get acquitted. That's going to be it. So the notion that somehow, you know, we're going to have this process and everyone is going to come out of it, you know, somehow having learned some lesson, I don't buy that necessarily. But you know, yeah.

CHUCK TODD:

What's he going to do with acquittal?

KRISTEN WELKER:

I thought it was so notable--

CHUCK TODD:

He already has a sup--

KRISTEN WELKER:

--to hear him say he was--

CHUCK TODD:

--he has a Super Bowl ad. I'm sure he's going to--

KRISTEN WELKER:

Oh, absolutely. I mean--

CHUCK TODD:

God only knows what he's going to say in that if he gets acquitted, right--

KRISTEN WELKER:

Look, and the president and his campaign are already gearing up. They're already blanketing the airwaves, trying to energize his base. He's going to be in Cape May on Tuesday, in Iowa on Thursday. He is going to use this moment to essentially try to energize his base, and the campaign is gearing up to do that. A full court press, I am told.

CHUCK TODD:

Is there risk for these Republican senators that are in tough races if and when more, I say if, but likely more information--

AMY WALTER:

More information comes out, right.

CHUCK TODD:

--comes out. And stuff looks, and this looks worse.

AMY WALTER:

Right, and they're going to have to answer the question over and over again--

CHUCK TODD:

"Why didn't you get a witness on Bolton? Bolton said this in his book"--

AMY WALTER:

Exactly, exactly. Although again, going back to my earlier argument, I think if you're one of those swing state senators, no matter what, you're in a terrible position on this. The other thing to note, though, is that the president's overall approval rating during this moment, I mean, we've had a couple of polls. But there's one at ABC--

CHUCK TODD:

Hasn't moved.

AMY WALTER:

--he went, right. He moved a little bit--

CHUCK TODD:

ABC's poll always--

AMY WALTER:

--but it's basically in the higher range.

CHUCK TODD:

--the Post poll always does --

AMY WALTER:

So he's in the 40s, he's not in the 30s--So you can argue I think to Lanhee's point, that this hasn't really moved the needle all that much. But it has put the focus onto the things, the issue of the economy, where the president is the strongest.

MARK LEIBOVICH:

But I also do think that there's greater risk in acquittal than Republicans might be admitting. Because I think, I mean, literally the first thing Chairman Schiff just said over there was they're deathly afraid of what witnesses will say. I mean, as Chuck just said, the witnesses will say something. They will come out. John Bolton's book will come out, probably something before Lev Parnas. I mean, every time that happens--

CHUCK TODD:

Lev Parnas may have another video out by the time we leave the show--

VOICES:

Yeah. Yeah.

MARK LEIBOVICH:

There could be pictures of all of us--

CHUCK TODD:

All of us--

MARK LEIBOVICH:

--in the White House study.

CHUCK TODD:

--I know.

MARK LEIBOVICH:

But no, I mean, so the drip, drip, drip doesn't end just when they vote for acquittal.

CHUCK TODD:

Can I just say, Maureen Dowd had a fascinating little nugget in her column today. And I want to put it up here. "One Democratic Senate staffer mourned the apathy. 'Our phones aren't ringing,' he told me. 'Nobody cares. It's the saddest thing ever.'” The fact that you don't have even Democrats storming the capital and protesting, it's not there.

AMY WALTER:

I was in Iowa. No one talked about this. And it's not that voters don't care about it or that Democrats--

CHUCK TODD:

I think, right--

AMY WALTER:

--don't think it's a big deal. I think what it is, they get the joke. They know what the vote is going to look like. And so what they're looking for now is--

CHUCK TODD:

Yeah, somebody said that to me. "I'm watching because I already know the outcome"--

AMY WALTER:

Because you already know the outcome. But you know what they do know? That's where it puts the issue of who's going to face the president into starker contrast.

CHUCK TODD:

Well, let's pause here and let's have that conversation about who's going to face this president. When we come back, what the Iowa caucuses may actually tell us about where the Democratic Party is headed in November. And as we go to break, I want to remember a colleague for all of us in the business of television journalism, it's Jim Lehrer, the face of presidential debates and then some.

CHUCK TODD:

Welcome back, Data Download time. We're now in the final stretch to the first presidential contest of the election year, with only eight days until the Iowa caucuses. And Iowa will tell us more than just who won that state. It could actually tell us a lot about where the Democratic Party is headed in 2020 overall. First, on the issue of enthusiasm. Turnout in 2016 for the caucuses, when Hillary Clinton narrowly beat Bernie Sanders, was way down from the record setting turnout that Barack Obama led eight years earlier. It ended up foreshadowing a tepid enthusiasm for Hillary Clinton throughout the primary season and into the general in 2016, particularly in the Midwest. But it's not just about turnout. In 2016, there were slightly more older voters than in 2008, perhaps predicting the challenge Clinton had in turning out young people that November, which we saw. But the most notable difference between 2008 and 2016? Ideology. Look at the change. The percentage of liberal voters went up from 54% in the Obama win to 68% in the narrow Clinton win. Well, what did that mean? It was a big advantage for Bernie Sanders when he almost won and it was a low turnout cycle. The relationship between turnout and ideology will be one of the biggest things we're tracking next week. Turnout is high because liberals are coming out. That will suggest the progressive wing is growing, and it isn't just the most reliable wing of the party. But if it's more like 2008, massive but moderate, that could signal the direction of the party to come in November, meaning there's broader enthusiasm for a Democrat in general. When we come back, Endgame, and this question: why is the White House saying all those nice things suddenly about Bernie Sanders?

CHUCK TODD:

Back now with Endgame. It is the week of the Iowa caucuses, and it's like, I know, it's hard when we're in the middle of covering that other story to feel that energy. You don't see it. Let me put those polls back quickly just to reset things here in Iowa and New Hampshire. Look, Bernie Sanders ahead in both. Joe Biden's still ahead in most of the national polls, with Sanders going. You know, Amy Walter, we were discussing a little bit, it is interesting to see national polls usually lag behind where Iowa and New Hampshire is. So is -- what we're seeing there with Bernie now a consistent, narrowly ahead, but consistent, and basically some combination of Buttigieg, Biden, and then Warren following behind, is that where this is headed? Or do we just -- or are -- we don't know what's going to happen this last week.

AMY WALTER:

Right. Although, it is easier to just go, "Eh, let's wait," right --

CHUCK TODD:

I know, I know.

AMY WALTER:

But let's say this. What seems really clear is that the people who started off as the two pillars of the Democratic message, either go big and bold or be safe and risk-averse but electable, continue to drive the conversation in this election. And no one's been able to completely pull Biden and Bernie out of those two polls, right? No one's been able to overtake them in that argument. I would argue the bigger challenge for Joe Biden right now is Pete Buttigieg. Warren's slipping among liberal voters, among younger voters --

CHUCK TODD:

It's good news for Sanders.

AMY WALTER:

It's good news for Sanders. But Buttigieg --

CHUCK TODD:

Although the Des Moines Register editorial might have weirdly, for Warren, might have weirdly been helpful to Biden.

AMY WALTER:

Right, if she does better then that helps, because it pulls from. But Buttigieg is a real threat to Joe Biden. He's in these New Hampshire polls that Marist/NBC did, and other ones that we've seen, and in Iowa. But he's moving into those moderates and older voters that Biden used to own.

KRISTEN WELKER:

I also think, Chuck, the impeachment might actually be benefitting Sanders because here he is surging. And these poll numbers may just be frozen in time. I think it makes it tougher for a Buttigieg and a Biden to aggressively attack him when he is in Washington, doing his constitutional duty, and just, you know, he was there last night certainly. But he's going to be back on the Senate floor this week --

CHUCK TODD:

You know, on paper this should be a boon for Joe Biden. I want to put something up here. Joe Biden's got a new, new ad up, and he's basically playing the experience card. Here it is.

[BEGIN TAPE]

VOICEOVER:

We need someone that can beat Trump and immediately start turning things around. And for me, that's Joe Biden. He's been through the fire. He can be that commander in chief that we need.

[END TAPE]

CHUCK TODD:

Now look, it's playing the experience card. It's not a new tactic. But I want to show you the last few times, when I see the experience ad being played, that's not always a good sign. Let me show you other examples of people playing the experience card.

[BEGIN TAPE]

VOICEOVER:

America deserves a real debate, not more negative ads from George W. Bush. Al Gore is ready. Is George W.?

VOICEOVER:

One man has the experience to know it was wrong and the courage to stop it.

VOICEOVER:

The world a president has to grapple with. Sometimes you can't even imagine. That's the job, and she's prepared for it like no other.

[END TAPE]

CHUCK TODD:

Here's the thing, head versus heart arguments in primaries --

AMY WALTER:

Yup, heart --

CHUCK TODD:

-- heart usually trumps head.

MARK LEIBOVICH:

Correct. And first of all, they all won the nomination. Al Gore won the nomination --

AMY WALTER:

That's right.

MARK LEIBOVICH:

-- and Hillary Clinton won the nomination. So --

CHUCK TODD:

And John McCain won his --

MARK LEIBOVICH:

And John McCain won his nomination --

CHUCK TODD:

-- in some ways for the same reasons. Okay, put him up against Obama.

MARK LEIBOVICH:

Right. I do think that Donald Trump is a bit of a game-changer here, and I think that he gives a lot of -- he gives a lot more weight to the experience and frankly the safer choice argument.

MARK LEIBOVICH:

I mean, it's the best Joe Biden has. I mean, honestly. I think if there was something else he could sell, he would sell it. What he has to sell is experience, what he has to sell is electability. Now, the challenge is if either of those gets challenged, and arguably both of them have been challenged during the course of this primary competition, then I think he runs into some trouble. But this is the argument, this is the essence of the Biden argument all along.

CHUCK TODD:

Amy Walter, here's something I can't figure out. Why can't Joe Biden monetize this impeachment for his campaign in some way? And I say it this way, and some on the right are going to take that word, monetize, and go crazy with it. But the point is he's the reason that they're in impeachment. Donald Trump, apparently, is very afraid of Joe Biden. Yet he's not translating it to gushers of money.

AMY WALTER:

Right. Well, some of it is he doesn't want to talk about it for personal reasons, getting into the discussion about Hunter Biden and his son --

CHUCK TODD:

But should we worry about the campaign infrastructure that they can't take it and --

AMY WALTER:

That they are not using, right. He will say this on the trail, right? "They're coming after me because they know that I'm the strongest candidate there" --

KRISTEN WELKER:

Right, right.

AMY WALTER:

-- right? That's it. But --

CHUCK TODD:

And?

AMY WALTER:

And, and right? And so --

CHUCK TODD:

But look at other --

AMY WALTER:

-- but it also reminds --

CHUCK TODD:

Look what others have done when they've been targeted by Trump.

AMY WALTER:

It is true, but it also --

CHUCK TODD:

-- It's usually an oil rush.

AMY WALTER:

--for Democratic voters who are still living in 2016 PTSD, what they hear is, "Oh no. This is Hillary all over again."

MARK LEIBOVICH:

Yeah, it's not the Democrats too, it's a lot of independents and Republicans. But also, look, I mean, Biden's never been a great fundraiser. I mean, he doesn't have a lot of, like, infrastructure for that. He never has. The other thing is --

CHUCK TODD:

Coming from a very small state.

MARK LEIBOVICH:

Coming from a very small state. But he never put, like, a lot of effort into it either. I mean, he is, though I think in this case, I mean, he gained a bit over the last couple months. I mean, it certainly hasn't hurt him in the polls. But you're right, it's like, you just sort of wonder.

KRISTEN WELKER:

It goes to the head versus heart argument. And he's saying, "Use your head." His campaign, sending out a memo to supporters saying, "I am the most electable candidate." That word, electability, I think is what is going to be his closing argument in this final week before Iowa.

CHUCK TODD:

All right. Can Biden survive not finishing first or second in both Iowa and New Hampshire?

MARK LEIBOVICH:

I think third.

AMY WALTER:

I mean --

CHUCK TODD:

I mean --

AMY WALTER:

And let's see, is it Buttigieg who comes in second? Then he now --

CHUCK TODD:

It depends on who the number two is --

AMY WALTER:

-- becomes the electable, or the moderate alternative.

CHUCK TODD:

All right. What a show. You guys were terrific, thank you. And thank you for watching everybody, we'll be back next week from Iowa. I will see you tomorrow during the next day of the trial. And we'll see you next Sunday, because if it is Sunday, it's Meet the Press.