Meet the Press - November 3, 2019

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CHUCK TODD:

This Sunday, the impeachment inquiry.

SPEAKER NANCY PELOSI:

On this vote, the yeas are 232, the nays are 196.

CHUCK TODD:

House Democrats vote to take the next step on impeachment.

REP. HAKEEM JEFFRIES:

This is a solemn moment. It’s a sober moment.

REP. JIM McGOVERN:

We are here because the facts compel us to be here.

CHUCK TODD:

But Republicans unanimously oppose it, denouncing impeachment as a partisan exercise.

REP. KEVIN McCARTHY:

This impeachment is not only an attempt to undo the last election, it's an attempt to influence the next one as well.

CHUCK TODD:

And they predict President Trump will survive a Senate trial.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM:

Why we're doing this I don't know because it's going nowhere in the Senate.

CHUCK TODD:

My guests this morning: Democratic Congresswoman Terri Sewell of Alabama, who sits on the House Intelligence Committee and Republican Congressman and Deputy Whip Tom Cole of Oklahoma. Plus, with exactly one year to go before the 2020 election, we have a brand new NBC News - Wall Street Journal poll on impeachment, general election match-ups, land a country now more divided than it has been in generations. Also, how has Andrew Yang outlasted so many better-known contenders?

ANDREW YANG:

What does math stand for New Hampshire? It stands for make again think harder.

CHUCK TODD:

My interview this morning with presidential candidate Andrew Yang. Joining me for insight and analysis are: Helene Cooper, Pentagon correspondent for The New York Times, Rich Lowry, Editor of National Review, Anna Palmer, co-author of Playbook, Politico's daily newsletter, And John Harwood of CNBC. 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. Believe it or not it is exactly one year until Election Day. That happened fast, didn't it? And on a week when House Democrats voted nearly unanimously to endorse an impeachment inquiry -- and Republicans were nearly unanimously opposed -- we have new evidence that the country is just as divided outside of the Washington Beltway as it is inside. In our brand new NBC News - Wall Street Journal poll, 49 percent of adults surveyed would like to see President Trump impeached and removed from office, while 46 percent oppose. Now the 49 percent plurality is a significant change from just a few weeks ago, a nine-point net swing in favor of impeachment, but still close to an even split nationally. The increase comes from independents and especially from Democrats, while Republican support for impeachment has dropped into the single digits. Now a lot hasn't changed, though. In head-to-head match-ups, Joe Biden leads President Trump 50 to 41 while Elizabeth Warren leads 50 to 42. Those numbers are roughly where they were in July. And President Trump's approval rating remains fundamentally where it's been for 18 months, somewhere between 43 and 46 with this one at 45 percent approving of his job 53 percent disapproving. But then there's this. Thirty-four percent of registered voters say they're certain to vote for Mr. Trump, while a whopping 46 percent say they're already certain to oppose him with 17 percent saying it depends on who the Democrats nominate. Those are very tough numbers for a sitting president. And interest in next year's election is at "week before Election Day" levels, and we’re a year out. Another rough sign for any incumbent, especially this one. Now it all adds up to this: a president who may well survive impeachment but who may not survive the election.

REP. NANCY PELOSI:

There is an assault on our democracy coming right out of the White House

PRES. DONALD TRUMP:

The word impeachment, to me it's a dirty word.

CHUCK TODD:

After a starkly partisan vote to begin an impeachment inquiry.

REP. NANCY PELOSI:

Those in favor please say aye

MEMBERS:

AYE!

REPORTER:

Will you all go on the record and say that the president did nothing inappropriate?

REP.KEVIN McCARTHY:

Very clear yes!

CHUCK TODD:

Democrats are grappling with how to make a compelling public case on impeachment to a divided country.

SEN. CHRIS COONS:

Frankly impeachment is drowning out everything else and I’m concerned at how divided it is.

CHUCK TODD:

While 89% of Democrats approve of the impeachment inquiry, just 9% of Republicans do. 58% of Independents support the inquiry - but only 43% of independents believe the president should be removed from office. Also, the calendar presents an additional messaging challenge, with just three months before primary voting begins.

PETE BUTTIGIEG:

The impeachment process is based on a constitutional standard and needs to run its course accordingly. I will say that there would be a lot of benefit to Trump and Trumpism getting a resounding, thumping defeat at the ballot box because I think that is what will be required for congressional Republicans to be reunited with their conscience.

CHUCK TODD:

After depositions with 13 witnesses - a consistent set of facts has emerged: of a president who withheld military aid to Ukraine until its president agreed publicly to investigate 2020 political opponent Joe Biden. Lieutenant Colonel Alex Vindman - the top Ukraine expert on the National Security Council - testified this week that he was told by White House lawyer John Eisenberg not to discuss his grave concerns about the president's phone call with anyone outside the White House - and he said Eisenberg ordered the transcript of the call placed in a highly classified server. The president argues the phone call with Zelensky was "perfect" - even joking about it at a rally on Friday.

PRES. DONALD TRUMP:

Gee, I guess there's only one way. Let's call up Ukraine for help.

CHUCK TODD:

But with this mounting evidence - Republicans are struggling to defend the president and some Senate Republicans are arguing for a shift in strategy: acknowledging the quid pro quo but insisting it is not an impeachable offense.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM:

I don't care if you have a million people listening on the phone call. I'll make my own mind up. I've made my mind up about the phone call. The President did nothing wrong.

CHUCK TODD:

And joining me now is Democrat Terri Sewell of Alabama. She's a member of the House Intelligence Committee. She's been in there for most of these depositions. Congresswoman Sewell welcome to Meet The Press.

REP. TERRI SEWELL:

Thanks.

CHUCK TODD:

Let me start with we know you passed the sort of -- the next steps for the impeachment inquiry. Speaker Pelosi said she expects public hearings to start this month. What are we going to see at the public hearings and how much of it is essentially going to be the best of what you've been seeing behind the scenes?

REP. TERRI SEWELL:

You know, Chuck, this is a sobering moment in America's history. And I think that those of us who have been reluctant participants, I represent a red state, I'm a blue dot in a red state, and frankly I think that what really got me on the side of going to this inquiry was the fact that this president is interfering in our elections. He withheld important military assistance. He did so openly, in his own admission. And I think that the American people deserve to hear the facts. And we need to follow the facts where they lead us. We need to be able to apply the law. And more importantly, we need transparency. And that's exactly what the vote was this past week. It was for transparency.

CHUCK TODD:

Have you heard enough, in your mind, that the president essentially should be indicted for this? That's what an article of impeachment is -- it’s an indictment.

REP. TERRI SEWELL:

It is. But I can tell you that I -- the evidence is mounting. I think that, I think that the American people should hear the testimony of Ambassador Taylor. We just heard from a war hero, Mr. Vindman recently. And I think that it's really important that we get to the bottom of this. To me, I've seen my Republican colleagues twist themselves into a pretzel in order to defend the indefensible. I think this is about right and wrong. Right and wrong. And I think the American people understand right and wrong. And I think that it's important that we give to them, let them hear for themselves, the testimony. And I think that we've already been presented with a lot of testimony that has been leaked, or the opening statements have been presented, that has a very damning case against the president.

CHUCK TODD:

What role should public opinion play here?

REP. TERRI SEWELL:

Public opinion is everything. Speaker Pelosi often quotes Thomas Jefferson, that it's all about public sentiment. So having said that, I think it's really important that we present in a deliberate fashion, which is what we're doing. When you think about it, we've only been doing this for, what, two weeks? And we've already done 13 -- we've already had 13 witnesses come before us. We're working all throughout the district work period, which is why I'm here in Washington. I think it's really important that we do so in a deliberative fashion, but we do so expediently. Because I think that the American people need to know that we are still working on their behalf when it comes to legislating.

CHUCK TODD:

It's interesting that you said public opinion is everything here. So do you feel as if you almost have two challenges? What, you can lay out the case in -- in -- in a perhaps in a court of law with 12 jurors, you can win your case. But there is, to me, a second bar you have to meet, which is, is what he did egregious enough that he shouldn't be allowed to be on the ballot in 2020? Is that a separate bar?

REP. TERRI SEWELL:

Well, I think that it's all connected is what I think. I think that it's important that the American people get to choose for themselves. But I also think that it's important that we do so, we present the evidence to them, in a way that they can understand it and hear it. You know, what's so appalling to me --

CHUCK TODD:

Does that mean the Senate trial's weirdly irrelevant to you, that in some ways your job is to present the evidence and the public's going to react. And if they react harshly enough the Senate may act. And instead, or maybe it's November. Is that sort of where you are?

REP. TERRI SEWELL:

Where I am is that I think that it's important that we make sure that this is not just about process. You know, the Republicans have been able to focus on process. That's because they don’t, they can't really defend the truth of the evidence that's being presented in these investigations. And what's really, to me, damning is the fact that over 40 Republicans get to participate in the SCIF, like I do, three committees, 40 Republicans, over 40 of them, get to participate in this. And so I think that the vote last week was to remove the process argument and really focus on the truth. We should be able to present the truth in a way that the American people can understand it. And I think that -- I hope that the American people will understand that this is about abuse of power. You know, my district, the Alabama 7th Congressional District, people fought and died for the right to vote. To me, this is really about the soul of our democracy. It's about whether or not a president can ask a foreign power to actually investigate his political rivals and to withhold assistance. It's about national security. I think this is really an important moment in American history. It's a somber moment in American history. And we want to make sure the American people understand the gravity. And they get to choose for themselves. But it's important that we present it in a way that they can understand it.

CHUCK TODD:

I want to play for you something Speaker Pelosi said on Friday about additional charges that could get filed. Take a listen.

[BEGIN TAPE]

SPEAKER NANCY PELOSI:

There were 11 obstruction of justice provisions in the Mueller Report. Perhaps some of them will be part of this. But again, that will be part of the inquiry.

[END OF TAPE]

CHUCK TODD:

So would you prefer this to be focused solely on Ukraine? Or do you think broadening it out to include some of the, some of the obstruction charges that were in the Mueller Report is something that is worthy?

REP. TERRI SEWELL:

Well, I think that the most egregious charge to me is the national security. And that's what I think we should focus on. That's how the Intelligence Committee got involved in this --

CHUCK TODD:

So, you'd keep it narrow?

REP. TERRI SEWELL:

I would narrow it. I would narrow it. Having said that, I think that the fact that the Mueller Report did outline obstruction of justice, and we see in plain view this administration is doing everything to make sure that witnesses don't get a chance to come and be heard. And why are they hiding it? If they, if they really have firm ground to stand on, why are they so afraid to let witnesses come before us and tell their side?

CHUCK TODD:

Speaking of witnesses, John Eisenberg --

REP. TERRI SEWELL:

Yes.

CHUCK TODD:

-- Do you expect him to actually testify Monday or will that get blocked?

REP. TERRI SEWELL:

I don't know. I hope that he will testify. We're all here ready for his testimony to be presented tomorrow. This administration has done everything it can to hide the ball. And it begs the question, what are they trying to hide? I think that it's important that we stay focused on presenting the facts and applying the law and realizing that this is about our constitution. This is about our constitutional responsibility.

CHUCK TODD:

Depositions, are they getting released this week? The transcript -- the transcripts of these depositions. There's been some thought they could get released this week. Should we expect that?

REP. TERRI SEWELL:

I think that you can expect, as the speaker said, that it will be released some time in November. I think that our --

CHUCK TODD:

Before the public hearings?

REP. TERRI SEWELL:

I would expect that it would be before the public hearings. But I'm not sure. I think that it's not about the timeline. I think it's about getting it right, making sure that we're presenting the facts to the American people.

CHUCK TODD:

One quick political question. There is a roaring debate in the Democratic Party between Medicare for All or taking Obamacare and expanding it. Which side of the aisle are you on, on this question?

REP. TERRI SEWELL:

I think that we should take the Affordable Care Act and expand it. You know, I represent Alabama, where I have a lot of access issues. There's so many Americans in my district that don't have any healthcare insurance --

CHUCK TODD:

So Medicare for all --

REP. TERRI SEWELL:

And so I'm all about making sure that we have access, universal access, for all Americans.

CHUCK TODD:

Do you think Medicare for All's just too big of a step and start with Obamacare? Is that the reason?

REP. TERRI SEWELL:

I can tell you that many of my constituents in our town hall meetings want to keep their, if they have health insurance, they want to keep the health insurance that they have. We have 10 million Americans that don't have any coverage. We should be focused on them.

CHUCK TODD:

Terri Sewell, Democrat from Alabama. Thanks for coming on and sharing your views.

REP. TERRI SEWELL:

Thank you so much, Chuck.

CHUCK TODD:

Appreciate it. In our poll we asked people why they thought Congress should or should not impeach President Trump. Well, among the 49% who say, "Congress should impeach," this is the word cloud. Check it out. The most common answers were that Mr. Trump was dishonest, unfit for office, self-centered, and had abused his power. Now, among the 46% who say, "Congress should not impeach," people say, "President Trump did nothing wrong, is doing a good job, that there is no evidence of wrongdoing, and that the process itself is politically motivated." It's more proof that the country is listening to two different narratives of the same presidency. Joining me now is Congressman Tom Cole of Oklahoma. He's the top Republican on the House Rules Committee. You saw him a lot during the impeachment vote. Congressman Cole, welcome back to Meet the Press.

REP. TOM COLE:

Hey, Chuck. Good to be with you.

CHUCK TODD:

Let me start with a, a simple question here. Do you believe there was a quid pro quo?

REP. TOM COLE:

No.

CHUCK TODD:

Not at all? Because there is some question. Some people believe there was and it just doesn't rise to impeachment. You don't believe there was quid pro quo?

REP. TOM COLE:

Well, the things we know are this. We know the president says there was no quid pro quo. We know President Zelensky said he didn't feel any pressure. We know there's no Ukraine investigation. And we know the military aid got there. Those are things we know. So no, I don't think there was a quid pro quo.

CHUCK TODD:

That's an interesting way you put it. We've seen five witnesses just this week that have testified to a quid pro quo, that military aid was being held up over these investigations. And we had Rudy Giuliani somehow playing a private role here. Does any this -- does any of that stuff to you rise -- any of that a concern to you?

REP. TOM COLE:

Well, a concern's different than rising to the level of impeachment. But again, I, I look at it this way. The aid is there. And the investigations didn't happen. So if there was a quid pro quo, it certainly wasn't a very effective one.

CHUCK TODD:

So why shouldn't the president be held accountable for this?

REP. TOM COLE:

Well, you can hold any president accountable. You should probably do it through an oversight hearing to make your point. Instead, we're going willy-nilly into impeachment. We're doing it in a process that's unacceptable to most Republicans. We're doing exactly what Speaker Pelosi said we shouldn't do. That is, we're proceeding in a partisan impeachment without a consensus in the country. You know, frankly, I think the Democratic caucus just got the bit between its teeth and decided they wanted to beat this guy one way or another.

CHUCK TODD:

Let me go back to this quid pro quo because you seem to say you're taking the president at his word and these witnesses, you're not taking at their word --

REP. TOM COLE:

Well, first of all, to be fair, I haven't heard any of the witnesses.

CHUCK TODD:

So you want to wait -- okay.

REP. TOM COLE:

I don’t see anything. But I look at it this way, Chuck. I've got 40-odd Republicans as my friend before me said, that have been sitting in those hearings. They don't think this rises to the level of impeachable offense. And they don't think we should've proceeded in the manner we did this year. So again, I've got the transcript, which I've read. I've got media reports, which I've paid attention to. And I've got colleagues that have been sitting in the room, none of whom think this rises to the level of impeachment. So, you know, it's pretty easy for me, given those things, to say I think this -- we're off on a track that's going to divide the country and we can't resolve in Congress.

CHUCK TODD:

Well, let me ask you this though because I want to play for you an array of responses defending the president by fellow Republicans of yours because that array seems to be sending a mixed message. Take a listen.

[BEGIN TAPE]

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM:

A whistleblower complaint is hearsay here. The whistleblower was not on the phone call.

Let our news meet your inbox. The news and stories that matters, delivered weekday mornings.

SEN. KEVIN CRAMER:

It seems like a fair bit of hearsay.

REP. JIM JORDAN:

Had no firsthand knowledge.

REP. DOUG COLLINS:

There is no quid pro quo.

STEPHANIE GRISHAM:

There was no quid pro quo.

REP. STEVE SCALISE:

No quid pro quo.

MICK MULVANEY:

We do that all the time with foreign policy.

REP. MICHAEL WALTZ:

The president has had questions about foreign aid across the board, whether it's in Central America or Afghanistan or other places. So it wasn't unique necessarily to Ukraine.

LARRY KUDLOW:

No impeachable problem.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM:

Not remotely an impeachable offense.

SEN. JOHN CORNYN:

I don't see that rising to the level of an impeachable offense.

[END OF TAPE]

CHUCK TODD:

I think Bill Cassidy, a Republican from Louisiana, said, "It's possible it was a lapse of judgment, but doesn't rise to impeachment." The reason I present all that to you is what's the public supposed to absorb from this? The Republican party says, "Well, no, this didn't happen. Well, all right, maybe it did, but it's not this." Do you see why that some are --

REP. TOM COLE:

No, I do.

CHUCK TODD:

-- skeptical of really what the Republican --

REP. TOM COLE:

Well, I think the best thing for the public to do is read the transcript. It's the closest thing we have to a record. And you make a judgment as to whether or not you think what happened there is worth putting the country through an incredibly divisive experience that's stopping everything else from happening. And that we know how this story's going to end. There's very little likelihood that the president will be removed. So we've made a political decision, put everything on hold, divide the country for an outcome that we know, and we’re doing it -- what's going to happen. And we're doing is essentially a year before an election. I mean, to me, that doesn't make a lot of political sense and it's bad for the country.

CHUCK TODD:

It seems like, though, we're in a bad spot. We're also setting a precedent with the presidency. If there is no guardrail to stop him from, as Peggy Noonan wrote, from "Essentially bullying, you know, another leader to do his political work for him" and there is no, there is no consequence, how does that -- how do you not prevent the next president, Democrat or Republican, from doing the same thing?

REP. TOM COLE:

Well, if we want to have a longer discussion about Congress having routinely surrendered its powers, I think that's a good question. We went to war in Libya under the last president without Congress approving.

CHUCK TODD:

Can I just say my frustration how many individual members of Congress come here and admit that to me, and yet collectively, you guys have ceded your authority to the executive branch.

REP. TOM COLE:

Well, too much. But I think you're actually seeing us begin to reclaim some of it now. But I think, you know, when you do it over 40 years, you don't reclaim it in a single incident. You do it incrementally over time. And I think that's actually under way.

CHUCK TODD:

Is there -- if there were a middle ground here, not impeachment, but a censure of some sort, do you think that would be a more appropriate way to go?

REP. TOM COLE:

Look, if I were the Democrats, I would've chosen that. But again, that's up to them as to how they want to proceed. Personally, you know, I don't see anything here that I'm likely to have censured the president for. So again, fair enough. I think they've made the decision they want to go for the whole ball of wax and it's not going to work. But I do believe as Leader McCarthy said this is more about impacting the next election than it is about removing the president by impeachment.

CHUCK TODD:

Let me get you to respond to Justin Amash, the lone Republican who sort of left the party over President Trump. He tweeted this on the day of the vote. "The president will be in power for only a short time. But excusing his misbehavior will forever tarnish your name. To my Republican colleagues, step outside your media and social bubble. History will not look kindly on disingenuous, frivolous and false defenses of this man." What do you say to Justin Amash?

REP. TOM COLE:

Well, first of all, I regard him as a friend and we just profoundly disagree on this issue. I think he's wrong. Look, if I believed everything the Democrats are saying, I would still say this isn't an impeachable offense. You know, I routinely went home for six years, and I think probably most Republicans in red districts did, and got yelled at for not impeaching Barack Obama. Over, and over, and over again. But I didn't think he had done anything, even when I disagreed with him, that rose to that level. Now we're going to do this on a phone call? I mean, I just don't think this rises to the level. And I think my friends on the Democratic side are putting America through a terrifically bad experience really because they've lost control. They confused what their base thinks with what the public thinks.

CHUCK TODD:

Why is this on the Democrats and their base and not President Trump? Do you think President Trump has any responsibility for the horrible polarizing situation we're in right now?

REP. TOM COLE:

Look, I think the polarizing situation's been building up for a long time. But I think you don't make it better by doing impeachment, you make it worse. So you can hardly complain about polarization when on, what I think is very flimsy evidence, you put the country through an incredibly divisive thing. You stop everything else where we can work together, whether it's appropriations or USMCA. Those things aren't happening right now. And, you know, I think this is all political. And I think it's a situation where, sadly, the speaker lost control of her own conference.

CHUCK TODD:

You have said you have not read all the depositions.

REP. TOM COLE:

Haven't got -- been able to read them.

CHUCK TODD:

That's right. And we, when we -- we're supposedly going to see them all before then. Have you closed the door completely to approving --

REP. TOM COLE:

No.

CHUCK TODD:

-- an article of impeachment?

REP. TOM COLE:

Well, you never close the door completely to anything like this. But again, we just adopted a process that every single Republican said was unfair. We didn't do the Clinton process, the Nixon process. So, I mean, I think the way the Democrats have handled this has sort of pushed Republicans together, whether they intended to or not. Now, am I open to listening? Of course. But all I know is that everything so far that's been presented behind closed doors, every Republican that has heard it did not vote this impeachment process. So again, we'll see what they do. But, look, I think this is pretty predictable how this runs its course politically in terms of the impeachment process itself.

CHUCK TODD:

Tom Cole, Republican from Oklahoma. Always good to have your perspective.

REP. TOM COLE:

Hey, Chuck. Thank you.

CHUCK TODD:

Thanks for coming on, sharing your views. Much appreciated. When we come back, what both political parties have to gain and lose as the impeachment effort moves forward. Panel is next.

CHUCK TODD:

Welcome back, panel is here. CNBC editor at large, John Harwood, Helene Cooper, Pentagon correspondent for the New York Times, Anna Palmer, co-author of Playbook, Politico's daily newsletter and Rich Lowry, editor of National Review, and the author of the new book “The Case for Nationalism: How it Made us Powerful, United, and Free.” Welcome everybody.

Put a graphic of, of the impeachment inquiry vote of Clinton versus Trump. House defections, 30 -- people are being reminded, "Oh, yeah, there were 31 Democrats back then that voted for this inquiry.” And I have one with an asterisk here. I don't know what you do with Justin Amash. It's not a zero. At the same time he's not a Republican anymore. But the fact of the matter, he sits there too. It is a sign of the times. I, I - but, it's interesting, the evidence, Anna says, "Oh, my God, the president's in trouble." The politics say, "Oh, my God, the president's fine."

ANNA PALMER:

It, it, it's pretty stunning when you put those numbers out there. The thing that's kind of stunning to me is just that both Republicans and Democrats believe the same set of facts are true. They just don't believe whether it was wrong or not. And this just underscores how partisan Capitol Hill is right now. There's, there’s very little chance that any Republicans you're going to see move over to that, that other column.

CHUCK TODD:

That was what struck me in our poll, Rich. "Oh, he can't get impeached. And I don't know if he can win reelection." Like, both things can be true.

RICH LOWRY:

Yeah, well what's also amazing, so impeachment's 49/46, which pretty much exactly mirrors the popular vote --

CHUCK TODD:

The presidential vote --

RICH LOWRY:

-- of 2016. So, the last three years, we think there have been a lot of developments. And in the big scheme of things, there've been no developments. It's exactly the same situation. I think Cole is kind of working himself up to what I think is, is the best defense, which is that impeaching and removing a president would literally be an unprecedented act in American history. So you need the enormity of the offense to match that severe and unprecedented punishment. And even if this was improper, and I think elements of it were, I don't think it reaches that level.

CHUCK TODD:

John?

JOHN HARWOOD:

Well, first of all, I disagree with Anna slightly in that I think that the two sides look at the same set of facts, I don't think Republicans agree that it wasn't wrong. The question goes to what Rich said is the gravity of the offense. Secondly, the graphic you put up about the Democrats voting against Clinton and Justin Amash voting against Trump makes the point about what's changed. First of all, when Bill Clinton was president, you still had a slug of conservative Democrats in the party.

CHUCK TODD:

Right.

JOHN HARWOOD:

The two parties have become more polarized since then. And as a reflection of that polarization, on the Republican side, if you break from the president, you immediately get ejected from the party. That's why he's not - that's why the, the Republican number was zero.

CHUCK TODD:

You know, Helene, let me put up some other impeachment historical numbers. We have some polling numbers now. Here's the impeach and job approval of Trump, 49/45. 49 want him out, 45 approve of his job. Clinton stood at only 24% supported impeachment in October of '98. 68% approved his job. And then look at Nixon's numbers here at this point in time. 27% - his job approval was already below 30, but at the time, only 33% approved of impeachment. So, Trump does fall sort of in the middle between Clinton and Nixon here.

HELENE COOPER:

It's such an interesting contrast when you look at the three of them. It's, it’s also interesting that Bill Clinton was not going to be running for reelection, which --

CHUCK TODD:

Or Nixon, yes.

HELENE COOPER:

-- in the whole, and Nixon as well. So that changes the whole complexion of all of this. But I think we're seeing, with these poll numbers, exactly why Nancy Pelosi dragged her feet for so long on moving to impeachment. This is why, you know, that I think that she did not want to do this. And the Democrats are taking a huge, huge risk here. It's going to be really fascinating to see. On the Republican side, they, they too are - have gotten themselves in a fix. I don't think this is a question of them not thinking that this rises to the level of impeachment. I think they just know that their political fortunes are completely tied in with this president. And if they go for impeachment, they're not going to win their own races. I think that's the, that’s the dynamic we're seeing here.

CHUCK TODD:

Anna, there is a dilemma on the Democratic side and it's the presidential race. I want to put up a few things here. Ro Khanna, Democrat from California, who happens to be the Bernie Sanders national co-chair, about impeachment: "I certainly think it ought to happen before Iowa." Steny Hoyer: "We would like to do it as expeditiously as possible." Jon Tester: "It's important that they do their job in a very timely manner." Lois Frankel: "This whole impeachment conversation is overshadowing the actual presidential race." This is that second bar that I felt like Terri Sewell acknowledged is probably a bar they can't meet, which is, yes they can make the case that what he did was a quid pro quo. But can they make the case that it is so egregious, the voters shouldn't have a say a year from now?

ANNA PALMER:

I don't think Democrats are there yet. I think that you're going to see Nancy Pelosi try to move as fast as possible. I think the problem for Democrats right now though is this next week, they're still going to be doing these depositions behind the scenes. It really gives Republicans that ability to continue to make the argument that, "Democrats have just gone rogue. They're going to do this no matter what."

RICH LOWRY:

There's an NPR Marist poll a couple weeks ago, had 52% supporting the inquiry, but then asked, "Is the best way to deal with this to remove him or have an election?" It was 58/37 in favor of an election. So that's a very strong suit for Republicans. Also, I just don't think removing him would actually, at the end of the day, be good for the country. It would blow a hole of legitimacy at the center of our national politics that would take years to heal.

CHUCK TODD:

You had also wrote, and I'd been citing your column a couple weeks ago, you had also wrote that, "Don't look for 20 Republicans." That basically, they're going to jump off the cliff together --

RICH LOWRY:

Right.

CHUCK TODD:

-- because you can't, you can’t split off. Explain why that can’t be split off.

RICH LOWRY:

Well, I mean, you could see a couple, you know, Romney and a couple others maybe. But the difference between, you know, the fourth Republican senator and the thirtieth Republican senator would not be huge. But for that to happen, I think it would take an earth-shattering event. And Republicans are also very cognizant of the fact that this would split the party desperately and probably totally ruin its chances in 2020.

JOHN HARWOOD:

Well, I think the big drama is going to be when we switch from closed hearings to public hearings, what happens then. We've seen the phenomenon in our poll going from 11% Republican support impeachment down to six as the partisan temperature has been raised by Republicans with this process behind closed doors. Fox News poll out today showed the same thing. They had 13% before favoring impeachment and removal, now down to eight. I should say, the Washington Post had 18% of Republicans in a poll this week, so there's a little question there. But, when it becomes public, can those Republican numbers increase? I've had Republican operatives tell me if you get 25 or 30% of Republicans saying he should be impeached and removed, then Republican lawmakers start looking at this differently.

CHUCK TODD:

Then the numbers look different. But that would depend on do you have a John Bol -- do you have somebody of a big persona. John Bolton might fit that description --

HELENE COOPER:

He could --

CHUCK TODD:

-- if he testified against him.

HELENE COOPER:

He could, let's say John Bolton comes out and testifies and he basically backs up what Colonel Vindman said and what Bill Taylor said, are we going to really see the, the needle move? That's all been, I feel like that's all been cooked in already. We, we the public, at this point, pretty much knows what’s, what happened. So unless we're going to be coming out, unless there are more revelations to come out, unless there are things that happened before this or after this that are, that are, that show even more of a pattern, I think, I think a lot of this has been baked in.

CHUCK TODD:

All right. Well, we're going to talk about outside of Washington here the next time we gather on this impeachment question because that is the other issue. What is acute here is more noise outside of here. When we come back, the most underestimated and overlooked candidate in the Democratic presidential race, Andrew Yang, joins me next.

CHUCK TODD:

Welcome back. My next guess is someone Democrats have learned they can't ignore. Andrew Yang is the child of immigrants from Taiwan. An entrepreneur, the creator of a nonprofit, a political gadfly, and most famously, an advocate of something called universal basic income, which would give $1,000 a month to every American adult. He's also surprised many by out-raising, out-polling and outlasting a succession of so-called establishment Democratic office holders that have been running for president for years. And unlike many of them, he has already qualified for at least one future debate. Andrew Yang joins me now from Urbandale, Iowa. Mr. Yang, welcome to Meet the Press, sir.

ANDREW YANG:

It's great to be here. Thanks so much for having me, Chuck.

CHUCK TODD:

Let me start with something Michael Kruse in Politico wrote about, wrote about you after following you around. "In delivering his alarming, existentially unsettling message of automation and artificial intelligence, wreaking havoc on America's economic, emotional and social wellbeing, he cracks jokes. Of his party's presidential contestants, he's the cheerful doomsayer." That's quite an interesting moniker, the optimistic pessimist I guess is another way to put it. Do you accept that description?

ANDREW YANG:

I think I'm a hard-eyed realist about what's happening in our economy, Chuck. I'm here in Iowa, they're seeing 30% of their stores and malls close because Amazon is soaking up $20 billion in business every year and paying $0 in taxes. We have to create a new way forward and rewrite the rules of the 21st century economy to work for us. But that doesn't mean we have to be necessarily very gloomy as we deliver what, to me, is the most important message of our time. And it's the reason why our campaign is growing and growing while other candidates are dropping out.

CHUCK TODD:

You know, four years ago you had a lot of candidates, including Donald Trump, who were talking about bringing jobs back, bringing this back. And you've basically said, "You know, he told you this. It's not true." In fact, I think you use it as a way of saying that's why you've won over some former Trump supporters, who have now seen, seen it the way you see it on this. Is that really what we need to do, is sort of give up on creating new jobs? I mean, are we going to be in this kind of situation over the next 30 years where we just won’t have enough -- we have too many people and not enough work?

ANDREW YANG:

Well, we're in the midst of the greatest economic transformation in our country's history, Chuck. But putting buying power into our hands will build a trickle up economy and allow us to create hundreds of thousands of jobs here in Iowa and across the country because that money doesn't disappear. It goes into local businesses and daycare services and car repairs, little league sign ups. So this is the way we actually rejuvenate main street America, by putting the gains of the 21st century economy into our hands, where it can actually support what's happening in our families and communities every day.

CHUCK TODD:

By the way, do you envision this being a permanent entitlement of sorts?

ANDREW YANG:

Well, if you look up, there's one state that has had a dividend for almost 40 years.

CHUCK TODD:

Right, Alaska.

ANDREW YANG:

And that's Alaska, it's the petroleum dividend. And there, it decreases income inequality. It makes children and families stronger. It's wildly popular after almost 40 years. And so there's no reason to think it will not be wildly popular throughout the whole country. They pay for it with oil money in Alaska. But what I'm saying to the American people is that technology is the oil of the 21st century.

CHUCK TODD:

Let's talk a little bit about the current debate happening inside the Democratic primary. And I think in some ways, you have tried to have a little piece of every bit -- of every lane that there is that we in the media try to create. But let's talk about the specifics of Medicare for All. You're essentially for it, but you haven't talked about how you would pay for it. We know we're having a big debate about how Elizabeth Warren plans to pay for it. But let me ask this basic question. I had a Congresswoman, Democratic Congresswoman on. If we haven't fully implemented Obamacare, why should we rip it up and start over?

ANDREW YANG:

Certainly, I was a fan of the themes of Obamacare. But many Americans agree that it didn't go quite far enough in terms of coverage and allowing Americans to have access to high quality --

CHUCK TODD:

How do you know?

ANDREW YANG:

-- affordable care.

CHUCK TODD:

How do you know? It hasn't been fully implemented. That's always been my question. I've heard this critique before. And I'm going, "We don't know." Medicaid has not been expanded in 50 states.

ANDREW YANG:

You know, and there's a reason for that. So we need to create a path forward for Americans to have access to care. I would not get rid of private insurance. And to me, the pay for argument is misplaced because we're already spending 18% of GDP, almost four trillion dollars, in large part because the system is not designed to keep us strong and healthy. It's designed to make money for the private insurance companies and the device manufacturers and the drug companies.

CHUCK TODD:

Let me ask you about impeachment. You have said you are in favor of this inquiry going forward. But there is a basic question that many voters are going to have. Do you think what the president did is of such an egregious act that he shouldn't be on the ballot in 2020?

ANDREW YANG:

Well, I agree with the panel discussion that you just had. I am for impeachment. But the fact is, when we're talking about Donald Trump, we are not presenting a new way forward and a positive vision for the country that Americans will get excited about. That's the only way we're going to win in 2020. And that's the only way we're going to start actually solving the problems that got him elected. Even when we're talking about impeaching Donald Trump, we're talking about Donald Trump, and we are losing.

CHUCK TODD:

And yet, you talk about Donald Trump quite a bit in your rallies because you seem to want to appeal to former Donald Trump supporters.

ANDREW YANG:

Well, if you listen to my rally speech, Chuck, the vast majority of it is just about the challenges that Americans are experiencing every single day. These challenges preceded Donald Trump. They will still be with us after Donald Trump is out of office. And if we don't get to work solving these problems, then we're just going to be trapped in this endless food fight. And the American people deserve much, much better.

CHUCK TODD:

Let me ask you one question that has to do with your own identity in this country. And this was a criticism written about you having to do with something you said during the last debate. Frank Shyong writes the following in The L.A. Times. "Seeing Yang up on the Democratic primary debate stage should've been a thrilling milestone for me as a fellow Taiwanese-American. But when I heard him use model minority stereotypes to describe himself, it was hard to feel proud. He still felt that the most practical use of his identity on a national stage was as a joke." You've had quite a few Asian American columnists write critiques of this, bothered by this a bit. What do you say to that criticism?

ANDREW YANG:

I am very proud of my heritage and I'm very proud of being the first Asian American man to run for president as a Democrat. And I think Americans around smart enough and savvy enough to know a joke when they hear it. I think that dragging some of these myths into the light actually makes them less powerful and helps dispel them.

CHUCK TODD:

Has it bothered you, that it has attracted -- I noticed earlier this week you've had to push back on this idea, I guess some white supremacists started saying nice things about your candidacy due to the political incorrectness, I guess you want to call it that, you push back hard on that. Does it bother you that that group of voters seems attracted to your candidacy?

ANDREW YANG:

Well, I've completely disavowed any sort of --

CHUCK TODD:

I know you have.

ANDREW YANG:

-- support from anyone who has those kinds of ideas. I mean, I'm the son of immigrants myself. But to me, we have to solve the real problems of this time. And attacking each other for poor word choice or things that are of marginal importance to the American people, unfortunately, takes our focus away from the real problems on the ground that got Donald Trump elected.

CHUCK TODD:

Andrew Yang, entrepreneur. Again, you have taken this Democratic primary and made a lot of people take you a lot more seriously than they had planned to. Andrew Yang, stay safe on the trail. And we look forward to seeing you again.

ANDREW YANG:

Thank you, Chuck. The Yang Gang is just going to continue to grow. We'll see you soon.

CHUCK TODD:

We'll be watching. When we come back, why it's possible President Trump should be more concerned with the number 46 than with impeachment. Stay with us.

CHUCK TODD:

Welcome back. Data download time. President Trump won the presidency in 2016 with 46% of the vote. But there's another 46 number that showed up in our new NBC News Wall Street Journal poll that should worry the Trump reelection campaign. When asked where they would support the president, 17% of registered voters say it depends on how the Democratic nominee is. 34% told us they are certain to vote for Trump no matter what. And 46% said they're going to vote against the president no matter what. Whew. This same 46%, by the way, shows up in the eleventh swing states. So is there any preference in the 17% that is waiting to see who the Democratic nominee is going to be? Well, in a two-way race, President Trump loses to Joe Biden among these voters by one point. And these voters, by the way, a very mixed, truly swingish looking voters. But Mr. Trump beats Elizabeth Warren among these voters by 23 points. Still, it's that 46 number that should really bother the president's campaign because it may prove insurmountable for him. Even if he wallops Elizabeth Warren among that 17, she only needs a tiny sliver to get what she needs. When we come back, end game. Tom Brokaw joins the panel as we cover impeachment hearings. Tom's going to look back at what it was like to cover Watergate in a very different media environment. Tom was on Meet the Press the morning after the Saturday night massacre.

[BEGIN TAPE]

TOM BROKAW:

The president has ignored an order from the Federal Appeals Court. He has fired the special Watergate prosecutor, Archibald Cox. He has accepted the resignation of Attorney General Elliot Richardson and he has forced the resignation of Deputy Attorney General William Ruckelshaus. In view of all that, don't you expect now that impeachment proceedings against the president will begin in the House of Representatives?

[END TAPE]

CHUCK TODD:

Back now with end game and joining us is NBC News Senior Correspondent Tom Brokaw. He's out with a new book, The Fall of Richard Nixon: A Reporter Remembers Watergate. And Tom, I know, like many of your friends, I've really enjoyed your two years as you've been working on this because you keep finding things and you send it to us as you've been going. It's been, it’s been great to watch you go through your Watergate days. But it was remarkable. We just played a clip of you from October ‘73. Eight months later, what are we, that's a full -- that’s nearly ten months before Nixon resigns. We are at that same point and we're expecting to have an impeachment inquiry and vote and trial and all that done in the next six, eight weeks.

TOM BROKAW:

Well, like everything else, it’s all more speeded up now than it was then. Instrumentation of the time, everything. Nixon held onto office after Bob Haldeman had gone to jail, after John Ehrlichman was going to jail, John Dean was going, these were his principal aids. They're all going to jail. And then stuff starts to leak out that closely ties Nixon to the whole coverup. John Dean said at one point he was in the office 35 times when we talked about this coverup. And yet, he was able to hang on I think in part because the system took -- it was a more deliberate process in those days --

CHUCK TODD:

Methodical, more methodical --

TOM BROKAW:

-- Than, you know, look, I brought my typewriter because I did one story a day on my typewriter. And then I was on the air that night. Now our correspondents have one of these. And they're on from the moment they hit the White House until they go home at night. I was able to finish my day, then work on The Today Show the next morning. And not a lot of people said, "Oh, what's your opinion, Tom?" We rarely gave it. We'd sit at lunch and say, "Well, if this doesn't work out, we won't go on the air with it."

CHUCK TODD:

You know, it's interesting though. I'm curious to see, that's different, but some things haven't changed. David Brooks earlier this week wrote the following, "For most, impeachment is not a priority, it's a dull background noise. People in Washington and the national media doing the nonsense they always do. A pollster can ask Americans if they support impeachment and some yes or no answer will be given. But the fundamental reality is that many Americans are indifferent." And we saw when we went back, as much as people didn't like Nixon back then, even fewer people were in favor of impeachment then than they are now.

TOM BROKAW:

Well, I think it's important because of the whole, if you will, the whole communication culture of what's going on. What they had, what they had in front of them, what they were being told by social media. The single greatest change not just in our business, but in American life and life around the world, is social media. Everyone has access to an ability, to a tool that will allow them to express their opinion or to be, if you will, misleading about what's going on.

CHUCK TODD:

You know, Rich Lowry, in 1973, Nixon might've had Buckley. Might've had National Review and a handful of others. He didn't have all these other communications tools.

RICH LOWRY:

Right. Well, with Nixon, it really was a case the walls were closing in. And the way he reacted made it worse. It's just hard to see how this episode gets much worse and much better for the president. And per David Brooks' point, it accords with what I think all of us have heard anecdotally from both Republicans and Democrats. People out there don't talk about impeachment a lot at any events. It doesn't come up. And even though the polls have slid Pelosi's way a little bit, that has to be a concern.

CHUCK TODD:

We went out and tried to find some voters, guys, to talk about impeachment. We had bring it up to them. Here's what they told us.

[BEGIN TAPE]

JIM BAIRD

And I think it's a waste time and they're a bunch of little kids fighting and not accomplishing what the hell they're elected for.

GRAY CHYNOWETH:

And I think we have a system of checks and balances. And the way it should work is that, you know, the House and the Senate should do what is set out in the Constitution.

TRACY VEILLETTE:

I read the document and there was absolutely nothing concerning to me from one president to another. It was absolutely appropriate.

[END TAPE]

CHUCK TODD:

Helene, there were in the early states.

HELENE COOPER:

Yeah. Yeah, they are. But I wonder who are all the voters that you're talking to because I'm so inundated. Everybody, whenever anybody finds out I'm a reporter, all they want to ask me about is impeachment and what's going to happen. So it’s like -- I just wonder at just, you know, you could've gotten like, ten other people saying something completely different. It is, it is not as cacophonous out there in the rest of the country as it is here in Washington or in the big cities, I would imagine, but it’s still, I sort of think that it's still, it’s stilll starting to rise.

TOM BROKAW:

I think with all of this communication that we have going on now, Chuck, the gap between who we are, where we work and what we have to say and the rest of the country -- in North Dakota, they're a lot more worried about soybeans than they are about all of this, I can tell you. About the weather and what prices they're going to get for it. That's what drives them on a daily basis. And when we get closer, they'll begin to pay more attention. And that's the way that it should be.

CHUCK TODD:

Does feel like that we are setting up a narrative that is going to be decisive in a presidential election, not an impeachment trial.

ANNA PALMER:

I think that's right. I mean, this is just the beginning of what's going to happen in 2020, for sure.

CHUCK TODD:

John Harwood, speaking of the presidential race, the Democrats, one thing that happened this week -- and again, I don't know if it's going to break through because of impeachment, is that Elizabeth Warren, Pete Buttigieg and Joe Biden decided to go after each other. Like, we are in a new phase of the Democratic race.

JOHN HARWOOD:

It's getting real. It typically has been around that Iowa dinner. That's when you get to the final sprint. We've got November, December, January before the caucuses. Very clear top tier in the race. And Elizabeth Warren took a risk by coming out and laying out this Medicare for All plan which, interestingly, the likes of Nancy Pelosi says, "I'm not interested."

CHUCK TODD:

What'd you make, Anna, Terri Sewell saying, "I like Obamacare"? I mean, I mean, I --

JOHN HARWOOD:

That's where the center of gravity of the Democratic party is.

CHUCK TODD:

Even in Iowa among the most of them. That is going to be a fascinating fight.

ANNA PALMER:

I think where Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders are versus where a lot of Democrats are, particularly in some of these states that they need to win to keep the majority of the House, it's not where these presidential candidates are.

CHUCK TODD:

She was damned if she did, and damned if she didn't on this one though. I mean she seemed, she had no choice.

JOHN HARWOOD:

Chuck, I want to express one other contrast that Tom mentioned from --

CHUCK TODD:

Very quick.

JOHN HARWOOD:

-- Watergate. My dad invited me down as editor of The Washington Post to watch Nixon's final speech when he announced his resignation. Very classy. Very much respect for institutions. Not going to see that from Trump.

CHUCK TODD:

No, you won't. That's all we have for today. Thank you for watching. We're going to leave you with the most important thing that happened in Washington this week, scenes from the Capitol celebration. The district of champions, baby. The victory parade for our World Series champion, Washington Nationals. We're back next Sunday because if it's Sunday, it's Meet the Press.