Meet the Press - September 29, 2019

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CHUCK TODD:

This Sunday, the impeachment debate.

HOUSE SPEAKER NANCY PELOSI:

Betrayal of his Oath of Office, betrayal of our national security, and betrayal of the integrity of our elections.

CHUCK TODD:

Speaker Nancy Pelosi announces a formal impeachment inquiry as details emerge from a whistleblower about President Trump's July phone call with Ukraine's president.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF:

It’s hard to imagine a more serious set of allegations than those contained in the complaint.

CHUCK TODD:

The president saying "I would like you to do us a favor though" and urging an investigation of Joe Biden as he withheld military aid.

PRES. DONALD TRUMP:

It’s another witch hunt. Here we go again.

CHUCK TODD:

Democrats go on the attack-

REP. DAVID CICILLINE:

It’s very serious conduct. It undermines the national security of the United States.

SEN. CHRIS MURPHY:

I think it’s devastating.

CHUCK TODD:

Most Republicans defend the president.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM:

From my point of view to impeach any president over a phone call like this would be insane.

REP. PETE KING:

Totally appropriate. There is absolutely nothing in there.

CHUCK TODD:

But some cracks emerge.

REP MICHAEL TURNER:

I want to say to the President, this is not ok. It isn’t-- That conversation is not ok.

CHUCK TODD:

My guests this morning, Adam Schiff, Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. The number two House Republican, Steve Scalise. And the former US ambassador to Russia, Michael McFaul. Plus, the politics of impeachment, peril for the president and for Joe Biden.

JOE BIDEN:

He will stop at nothing to hold onto power.

CHUCK TODD:

Does Biden emerge damaged, or as a more sympathetic figure? Joining me for insight and analysis are: Yamiche Alcindor, White House Correspondent for PBS NewsHour. Mark Leibovich, Chief National Correspondent for The New York Times Magazine. Presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin. And Hugh Hewitt, host on the Salem Radio Network. Welcome to Sunday and a special edition of Meet the Press.

ANNOUNCER:

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

CHUCK TODD:

Good Sunday morning. For anyone on either side of the red-blue divide who was frustrated by the pace of the Mueller investigation, ten days in September have provided a staggering turn of events. It was just last week that The Washington Post broke the whistleblower story about President Trump's phone call with Ukraine's president. Immediately, support among House Democrats for impeachment proceedings exploded into a majority of the House, leaving Nancy Pelosi no choice but to do what progressives had demanded and she had resisted for so long: announce a formal impeachment inquiry. Rather than a drip drip drip, there's been a gusher of bad news for the president since then and it's important to note that Republicans have avoided pushing back on the substance of the whistleblower's charges. There's a lot we don't know at this point. We don't know all the details that could emerge in an impeachment case against President Trump. We don't know with any certainty that Republicans will rally around Mr. Trump as they did so comfortably the last time. And we don't know whether Mr. Trump's baseless charges about Joe Biden and Ukraine will make Biden a more sympathetic figure, or tarnish him to the benefit of another Democratic candidate, like Elizabeth Warren. But there is something that both sides think they do know: that this new crisis is easier to understand and presents a greater threat to the president than the Mueller investigation ever did.

HOUSE SPEAKER NANCY PELOSI:

We cannot ignore our oath of office to protect and defend the Constitution.

CHUCK TODD:

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, announcing a formal impeachment inquiry after months of resistance following the revelation that the president pressured Ukraine's president to investigate his political opponent, Joe Biden, while withholding military aid.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF:

It is hard to imagine a more fundamental abuse of that office.

PRES. DONALD TRUMP:

It’s another witch hunt. Here we go again.

CHUCK TODD:

On Wednesday, the White House released detailed notes from that July 25th phone call with Ukraine's President. After President Zelensky expressed his desire for more military equipment, including Javelin anti-tank missiles, President Trump responded: "I would like you to do us a favor though," asking Ukraine to investigate the 2016 election and unfounded conspiracies about Joe Biden and his son.

SEN. CHRIS MURPHY:

President Zelensky raises the question of defensive aid, and within minutes, the President of the United States is asking him to investigate Joe Biden.

JOE BIDEN:

He will stop at nothing to hold onto power. It is not surprising that I have become the object of his attention.

CHUCK TODD:

On Thursday, another bombshell: the CIA whistleblower complaint made public detailing in nine pages allegations that the president is “using the power of his office to solicit interference from a foreign country in the 2020 U.S. election." Describing months of contacts between the president's personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, whom the whistleblower names more than 30 times, and Ukrainian officials and alleging that White House officials attempted to "lock down" the record of the call, hiding it in a highly classified computer system.

HOUSE SPEAKER NANCY PELOSI:

Right now, there's a cover up of the cover up.

CHUCK TODD:

By late Friday, House Democrats had already subpoenaed Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for documents and scheduled depositions with five State Department officials named in the whistleblower complaint.

REPORTER:

Are you willing to testify in front of Congress?

RUDY GIULIANI:

Well, there is a lot of problems with that. I mean, would I like to testify and tell my story? Sure. There are things that I can't testify to because I'm a lawyer.

CHUCK TODD:

Inside the West Wing, there is "rising anxiety, unease and concern." Most Republicans in Congress have defended the president.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM:

When I think of whistleblower complaints, I think of somebody who saw something that was wrong and came forward to say so. This is hearsay information.

CHUCK TODD:

But small cracks are already emerging.

SEN. MITT ROMNEY:

I did read the transcript. It remains troubling in the extreme.

SEN. BEN SASSE:

Republicans ought not to be rushing to circle the wagons and say there's no there there, when there's obviously lots that's very troubling there.

CHUCK TODD:

And even some Trump allies are beginning to question Giuliani's role.

SEN. JOHN KENNEDY:

He is wild as a March hare. He's a smart guy, but he's, he’s, he’s a free-range chicken. I mean, he just kind of gets on out there

​CHUCK TODD:

And joining me now, from Greenville, South Carolina, is the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, the man that's likely leading most of this investigation, Democrat Adam Schiff of California. Congressman, welcome back to Meet the Press.

REPRESENTATIVE ADAM SCHIFF:

Thank you. Great to be with you.

CHUCK TODD:

Let me start with the whistleblower's complaint. It does feel as if it is your roadmap. I think you have said, "It's the roadmap for the investigation." How much of your investigation is about the specifics of what the president did with the aid, with Ukraine, with Rudy Giuliani? And how much of your investigation is about the attempt to keep that from you?

​REPRESENTATIVE ADAM SCHIFF:

Well, I think, really, the gravamen of the offense here is the president using the power of his office to coerce a foreign nation into helping his presidential campaign, to once again, interfere in our election and, at the same time, withholding foreign aid that that country so desperately needs to fight off who? The Russians. That, to me, is the most serious constellation of issues. And I know that many people have suggested, and it may have been true in the past, that the cover-up is the bigger crime. Sometimes, the cover-up is the easier crime to prove. But here, yes, the cover-up is very serious. But I don't want to lose sight of that fundamental breach of the president's oath of office, the duty to defend our country, our Constitution. And here, the president is, once again, not just inviting but coercing a foreign nation to get involved, to try to help him in yet another presidential election. So to me, that's the most-serious set of offenses.

​CHUCK TODD:

In order to get the full picture, you're going to have to get the testimony of, apparently, quite a few White House officials. They're unnamed in the whistleblower report. Do you expect to end up fighting over things like executive privilege and attorney client privilege to the point that you may not get all the facts?

​REPRESENTATIVE ADAM SCHIFF:

I have to expect that they're going to fight us tooth and nail. But we're going to start. We have a hearing on Friday, for example, a closed session with the inspector general. This is the second time we're bringing, we’re bringing him in, now that we have the whistleblower complaint, to go through what steps that he took to corroborate the information in the complaint, what witnesses that he spoke with, so that we can follow up with those witnesses ourselves. Will the White House fight us on this? I have to imagine they're going to fight us tooth and nail. And yet, even as they do, the more that they fight to try to prevent and obstruct the lawful functions of Congress, the more they're going to make a case for impeachment on obstruction of justice, of Congress, of the rule of law.

CHUCK TODD:

Is that the point? Is that why you put that in your release, that basically, you're, you’re going to take any attempt at preventing somebody from testifying before your committee that you believe legitimately has some information to shed light on what happened, you will treat that as an obstruction of justice?

REPRESENTATIVE ADAM SCHIFF:

We will treat that as evidence of obstruction of justice, as evidence of obstructing the lawful functions of Congress. Because the president can't have it both ways. He can't both prevent us from getting evidence on these serious, underlying crimes or potential crimes, this serious breach of his oath of office, and at the same time, obstruct our investigation. So even as he tries to weaken our ability to get facts on one, he's going to strengthen the facts on the other.

​CHUCK TODD:

Do you know the whistleblower yet?

REPRESENTATIVE ADAM SCHIFF:

I don't.

CHUCK TODD:

Have you met them?

REPRESENTATIVE ADAM SCHIFF:

I don’t know the-- No, no.

​CHUCK TODD:

No. Ok. Do you, when do you expect-- First of all, do you expect the whistleblower to testify? And if so, when?

​REPRESENTATIVE ADAM SCHIFF:

Yes, and I hope very soon. Excuse me. And I hope very soon. All that needs to be done, at this point, is to make sure that the attorneys that represent the whistleblower get the clearances that they need to be able to accompany the whistleblower to testimony, and that we figure out the logistics to make sure that we protect the identity of the whistleblower. That's our paramount concern here. This whistleblower has done, obviously, a cardinal service to the country by exposing wrongdoing of the most serious kind, a breach of the president's duty to the country that endangers our security. And he's got to be worried about his own security right now, with the president issuing threats like he did the other day.

​CHUCK TODD:

Your committee has seen material end up in the White House before, end up with the president's team before. Are you confident that your committee can protect the identity, everybody in your committee, on both sides of the aisle, can protect the identity of this whistleblower from, from the ire of the president?

REPRESENTATIVE ADAM SCHIFF:

Well, I'm certainly going to do everything humanly possible, as chair, to make sure that that's what happens. And yes, we have been concerned, for some time, about back channels between our now minority and the White House and, in fact, maybe even front channels, not just back channels. This is serious business here. The president has suggested that people like this whistleblower should be treated the way that we used to treat spies and traitors. And we used to execute spies and traitors. There's no messing around here. And what's more, we want to protect this whistleblower, but we also want to encourage others that are aware of this wrongdoing or other wrongdoing--

​CHUCK TODD:

Ok.

REPRESENTATIVE ADAM SCHIFF:

--to come forward. And that's a vital interest of ours, as well.

​CHUCK TODD:

There are three phone calls, excuse me, two phone calls and one meeting that the president has had with Vladimir Putin. Actually, all of them have taken place since the election of the Ukrainian president, Zelensky, a phone call on May 3rd, a meeting on June 28th, and a phone call on July 31st, which, by the way, six days after the Zelensky phone call in question. Do you think you'll ever know the contents of that-- of any of those conversations?

​REPRESENTATIVE ADAM SCHIFF:

I certainly hope that we can find out. And again, the paramount need here is to protect the national security of the United States and see whether, in the conversations with other world leaders and, in particular, with Putin, that the president was also undermining our security in a way that he thought would personally benefit his campaign. If those conversations with Putin or with other world leaders are sequestered in that same electronic file that is meant for covert action, not meant for this, if there's an effort to hide those and cover those up, yes, we're determined to find out.

​CHUCK TODD:

The-- if you're trying to be speedy with this investigation while also being thorough, is there a point where you just have to, you have to wrap things up, you have to be done with whatever you can investigate by a date certain? I keep hearing the word, Thanksgiving, thrown around. Is that, is that the timetable the public should expect?

​REPRESENTATIVE ADAM SCHIFF:

We haven't set a timetable, except that we want to do this as urgently as possible. We also recognize, though, the gravity of this situation and that it's going to take some time to get the full facts and be able to flesh them out. Chuck, I will say this, having worked on investigations, as a prosecutor, before I was in Congress, there is a natural rhythm to an investigation. And you get to waypoints, where the next increment of evidence you're going to get may take quite a bit of time. And when we get to those waypoints, we're going to have to make a decision. Do we need to have a consensus now about where we are and what this means and whether we need to travel down the road of articles of impeachment? Or do we have time to do more work?

​CHUCK TODD:

I'm curious what you think of the argument that says, no matter where you are on impeachment, especially if you are there, if you think the president should be thrown out of office, that because we're so close to November of 2020, that the election is the better place for that to happen. What do you say to those making that argument?

REPRESENTATIVE ADAM SCHIFF:

You know, Chuck, I was making that argument myself until these facts came to light, that this is an extraordinary remedy. It should only be used in extraordinary circumstances. But here, what the president has done is such, of such an egregious character that there's a real risk in not moving forward with an impeachment. And I think, when you look at the fact that the president engaged in this corrupt conduct with President Zelensky, corrupt on the president's part, not on Zelensky's part, the day after the Mueller hearing, the lesson this president appears to have received is that he can do whatever he wants. He can violate his oath of office. He can refuse to defend our Constitution. He can invite further foreign interference in our affairs. He can try to cover it up. And there'll be no consequence, no accountability. And that is simply too dangerous to be left that way. And so yes, I certainly think that the gravity of the situation demands that we move forward with the inquiry.

CHUCK TODD:

Ok.

​REPRESENTATIVE ADAM SCHIFF:

And, and we'll have to determine whether that also means return of articles.

CHUCK TODD:

Are we expecting to see Rudy Giuliani testify?

​REPRESENTATIVE ADAM SCHIFF:

I don't want to commit myself to that at this point. We certainly need to do a lot of work to find out what Giuliani has been doing in Ukraine. It appears, from that conversation, that the Ukraine president understood what was going to be asked of him on that call. And that very likely was the result of work that Rudy Giuliani and some of his minions were doing in Ukraine. So we're going to need to get to the bottom of it. Whether it will be productive to bring him in, we'll make that decision down the road.

​CHUCK TODD:

Congressman Adam Schiff, the man that's going to be charged with leading most of this investigation on the House Intelligence Committee, thanks for coming on and sharing your views. Much appreciated.

REPRESENTATIVE ADAM SCHIFF:

Thanks, Chuck.

​CHUCK TODD:

Joining me now from Kenner, Louisiana is the number two Republican in the House, Steve Scalise of Louisiana. Congressman Scalise, welcome back to Meet The Press, sir.

REPRESENTATIVE STEVE SCALISE:

Chuck, good to be back with you.

CHUCK TODD:

Due to an accident on email we know some of the talking points that the White House has sent over to House Republicans, including the defense that they have is saying, "There was no quid pro quo” in the phone call, that that in itself should be enough to stave off of impeachment. But I am curious, when you hear and read the phrase, "I want you to do us a favor though," and you know, again, I think the president of Ukraine has the internet so he knew that aid was frozen, it’s-- How do you interpret it if it's not a quid pro quo? How do you interpret it? "I need us to do us a favor though"?

​REPRESENTATIVE STEVE SCALISE:

Well, first of all Chuck, if you read that sentence, what the president is talked about is CrowdStrike. He's talking about the 2016--

CHUCK TODD:

Does that--

REPRESENTATIVE STEVE SCALISE:

--interference--

CHUCK TODD:

--make it better?

REPRESENTATIVE STEVE SCALISE:

--with our election by Russia--

CHUCK TODD:

Does that make it better that--

REPRESENTATIVE STEVE SCALISE:

President Trump, President Trump is trying to look into the interference by Russia so it doesn't happen again. I thought you would want to be concerned about making sure that doesn't happen again as well--

CHUCK TODD:

Well, let me ask you this though--

REPRESENTATIVE STEVE SCALISE:

But that's what he's talking about--

CHUCK TODD:

The intelligence--

REPRESENTATIVE STEVE SCALISE:

--not Joe Biden.

CHUCK TODD:

The intelligence community, his own intelligence folks, have said it was Russia that did the hack. He's the only person that seems to believe that Russia didn't do the hack. So the CrowdStrike, does that even make you more--

​REPRESENTATIVE STEVE SCALISE:

No, not at all.

CHUCK TODD:

Does that--

REPRESENTATIVE STEVE SCALISE:

Not at all--

CHUCK TODD:

--make you more disturbed that he doesn't believe our own intelligence?

REPRESENTATIVE STEVE SCALISE:

Well, CrowdStrike, first of all, was the one who got the server and they never shared it with the FBI. They've never shared it with anybody. There's still a lot of information we're trying to find out about how the Russians interfered with our election when Barack Obama was president. And I'm glad President Trump continues to look into that interference so it doesn't happen again. He's the one trying to root it out. By the way, President Trump is the one who's been standing up to Russia. They've talked about Javelin missiles in that call. President Trump sold Javelin missiles to knock those tanks out that Russia was sending into the Ukraine. Obama wouldn't sell those Javelin missiles. You might want to ask President Obama or Joe Biden why they wouldn't sell the Javelins so that Ukraine could stop Russia from coming in with those tanks. But President Trump did and continues to provide relief. We've given a lot of relief. In fact, President Trump has probably given more help to Ukraine than any other president.

​CHUCK TODD:

Why-- It seems as if you endorse the president's sort of one-man operation here by Rudy Giuliani to go around the government and try to do his own investigation. I've not understood this. If the president doesn't believe the U.S. government's assessment of what the Russians did, why doesn't he ask the FBI to investigate? Why is he asking Rudy Giuliani to go to a foreign country to do it? Do you understand? Have you--

​REPRESENTATIVE STEVE SCALISE:

Well, the FBI--

​CHUCK TODD:

--been able to understand that?

​REPRESENTATIVE STEVE SCALISE:

Well, you can ask Rudy Giuliani that. And the chairman himself said he's not even sure if he would bring Rudy. But keep in mind, the chairman said a lot of things, made a lot of baseless accusations. Chairman Schiff is the one who for two years was running around saying he had more than circumstantial evidence that President Trump colluded with Russia on the, on the Mueller investigation. And that turned out not to be true. And so instead of saying, "Okay, we were wrong. Let's move on," they continue to go down this road of impeachment, regardless of the facts. You know, they've said that there were high crimes and misdemeanors. The actual author of the articles of impeachment just recently, a few days ago, said that, "If they don't impeach President Trump, he might get reelected. He will get reelected," is what he said. The framers did not put the power of impeachment in the Constitution so that you could stop somebody from getting elected who was duly elected in 2016.

​CHUCK TODD:

Let me take the--

​REPRESENTATIVE STEVE SCALISE:

It's a high crime and misdemeanor standard. And they should take that with the respect that it deserves--

CHUCK TODD:

Let me take the word--

​REPRESENTATIVE STEVE SCALISE:

--and they haven't.

CHUCK TODD:

Can we take the word impeachment out of this? Given what Rudy Giuliani was doing or was not doing, we don't know, given what the president may have meant with, "I would like you to do us a favor though," but we don't know, is this not worthy of Congressional oversight? Is this not worthy of an investigation? Do you want to know what it is that Rudy Giuliani was doing sort of either on his own or against the wishes of some people in the government? Is this not worthy of an investigation? Again, skip the impeachment part for a second.

​REPRESENTATIVE STEVE SCALISE:

Well, they've been investigating President Trump for over two years and the entire way making baseless allegations. Speaker Pelosi, the day before the transcript came out, was saying that there, there was going to show that the president broke the law. And then they didn't have any quid pro quo, all of the things that they were saying. They're investigating everything. And that instead of, by the way, we should be moving USMCA to get a better trade deal. We should be passing bipartisan legislation to lower drug prices. They won't bring those deals to the floor--

​CHUCK TODD:

So you, you approve of what--

​REPRESENTATIVE STEVE SCALISE:

Because all they're focused on--

​CHUCK TODD:

--Rudy Giuliani’s been doing?

​REPRESENTATIVE STEVE SCALISE:

--is impeachment, Chuck.

​CHUCK TODD:

You approve of all this?

REPRESENTATIVE STEVE SCALISE:

Well, again--

​CHUCK TODD:

I mean, you think all of this--

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​REPRESENTATIVE STEVE SCALISE:

--you can ask Rudy Giuliani. But keep in mind, Rudy Giuliani, this was--

​CHUCK TODD:

You're part of Congress.

​REPRESENTATIVE STEVE SCALISE:

--in the, that conversation happened-- Chuck, if you'd let me answer. That conversation with President Zelensky happened right after the Mueller Report came out after two years of an investigation, and Rudy Giuliani was the president's personal attorney in that case. So again, you can ask Rudy what he was doing. I know that what President Trump talked about was continuing to find out what happened with Russian interference in the 2016 election because he has been standing up to Russia. And there's a strong record, by the way, of how President Trump has stood up to Russia when Barack Obama wouldn't and Joe Biden--

​CHUCK TODD:

Do you think--

​REPRESENTATIVE STEVE SCALISE:

--was president when they would not stand up to Russia.

​CHUCK TODD:

Do you think it was appropriate for the president to ask a foreign leader for help investigating his chief political rival for 2020?

​REPRESENTATIVE STEVE SCALISE:

Again, go look at what he talked about in that call conversation. He was talking about the 2016 interference that happened in our election. Look, there have been media reports for years. Joe Biden himself bragged, long before he was a candidate for president, that he went there to Ukraine and held the billion dollars back. You know, "I'm going to leave in six hours unless they fire the prosecutor." My goodness, Chuck. A lot of people have been asking for that to be investigated for years--

​CHUCK TODD:

Congressman, you know the reality behind--

​REPRESENTATIVE STEVE SCALISE:

--long before Joe Biden was a candidate--

​CHUCK TODD:

You know the truth behind that. Why are you putting it out there as if it's a, "Oh, my gosh. We have no idea what you’re, what he was talking about then"? I mean, we’re, you're taking something that actually happened that the entire Western alliance supported, this was a bipartisan effort, as you know in Congress, that supported this effort--

​REPRESENTATIVE STEVE SCALISE:

I don't know if the Western alliance--

​CHUCK TODD:

--to clean up, to clean up the corruption--

​REPRESENTATIVE STEVE SCALISE:

--supported him holding back a billion dollars. Of course, there was a lot of corruption. In fact that's why Zelensky got elected with a mandate to clean up corruption. He and President Trump are talking about that in the conversation, things that both of them are doing to clean up corruption and drain the swamp. Look, all of this stuff with this whistleblower report, there were a lot of things if you read the whistleblower report that are concerning in terms of allegations that were very partisan. In fact, the Justice Department or the inspector general determined that the whistleblower does have a political bias. You know, again, let him, let him go forward and make accusations, but--

​CHUCK TODD:

I just don’t want to--

​REPRESENTATIVE STEVE SCALISE:

--a lot of these accusations have turned out to not be true.

​CHUCK TODD:

You, you-- every time I've asked you whether you have been-- if you're concerned about the actions the president took, you've avoided answering the specific question and instead focused on--

​REPRESENTATIVE STEVE SCALISE:

Well, no, Chuck, don't, wait--

CHUCK TODD:

--focused on something else.

​REPRESENTATIVE STEVE SCALISE:

--don't try to infer--

​CHUCK TODD:

No, I'm not. I'm just asking--

​REPRESENTATIVE STEVE SCALISE:

Don't try to infer anything.

​CHUCK TODD:

You seem to be--

​REPRESENTATIVE STEVE SCALISE:

I'm concerned about--

​CHUCK TODD:

--uncomfortable defending-- You seem to be, let me, let me put it this way. You seem uncomfortable--

​REPRESENTATIVE STEVE SCALISE:

No, no, no--

​CHUCK TODD:

--defending the president's actions--

​REPRESENTATIVE STEVE SCALISE:

Please don't put words in my mouth.

​CHUCK TODD:

Okay, I-- then I'll let you finish. But let me--

​REPRESENTATIVE STEVE SCALISE:

What the president was--

​CHUCK TODD:

--finish my statement here.

​REPRESENTATIVE STEVE SCALISE:

I think-- well, you've made a lot of statements and accusations--

​CHUCK TODD:

No--

​REPRESENTATIVE STEVE SCALISE:

--that aren't true, Chuck. President Trump was looking--

CHUCK TODD:

I, I, I don't think I've made one--

​REPRESENTATIVE STEVE SCALISE:

--into the 2016 collusion in interference that Russia had when Barack Obama was president. And we all know that happened under Barack Obama's watch. You all have tried to tie it to Trump. And Trump continues to look into it. I'm glad Trump continues to look into the interference that Russia tried to do--

​CHUCK TODD:

So you endorse--

​REPRESENTATIVE STEVE SCALISE:

--tried to have with our elections--

​CHUCK TODD:

--this private investigation. Don't go through the FBI. Go to a foreign government.

​REPRESENTATIVE STEVE SCALISE:

Wait, private--

​CHUCK TODD:

I mean, this sound--

​REPRESENTATIVE STEVE SCALISE:

No, no. This isn't a private investigation, Chuck.

​CHUCK TODD:

What is Rudy Giuliani doing?

​REPRESENTATIVE STEVE SCALISE:

This is not--

CHUCK TODD:

What is it?

​REPRESENTATIVE STEVE SCALISE:

Again, you can talk about Rudy separately. There is no private investigation. There's been a public, government investigation into the collusion that Russia had trying to interfere with our elections. We still haven't gotten to the bottom of it. There's still a lot of serious questions that need to be answered so it doesn't happen again. And President Trump's continued to be aggressive, not only at that, but pushing back against Russia in many other ways. I mentioned the Javelin missiles. It's President Trump who gave the-- sold the Javelin missiles to Ukraine so that they can bust those Russian tanks--

​CHUCK TODD:

All right.

​REPRESENTATIVE STEVE SCALISE:

Obama didn't do that, by the way.

CHUCK TODD:

After reading that detailed note, not-- "Don't call it a transcript," transcript, you are comfortable that the president is mixing-- he appears to be mixing politics and, and government policy. Does he not, do you not see that--

​REPRESENTATIVE STEVE SCALISE:

That is not--

CHUCK TODD:

--in there?

REPRESENTATIVE STEVE SCALISE:

That is-- wait, Russian interference with our election. It might be politics because--

​CHUCK TODD:

And the Joe Biden--

​REPRESENTATIVE STEVE SCALISE:

--it was the 2016 election--

​CHUCK TODD:

--and the Joe-- and the bizarre Joe Biden and this--

​REPRESENTATIVE STEVE SCALISE:

But it was a foreign government trying to interfere with our election. Aren't you concerned--

​CHUCK TODD:

He's trafficking--

​REPRESENTATIVE STEVE SCALISE:

--about the Russian--

​CHUCK TODD:

He's trafficking in a conspiracy--

​REPRESENTATIVE STEVE SCALISE:

--interference?

​CHUCK TODD:

--theory. Yes. And in fact, he's saying it's not. He seems to be doing a Russian propaganda thing with saying it's the Ukrainians with the server with the candlestick or something. I, I-- This is--

​REPRESENTATIVE STEVE SCALISE:

It sounds like you're--

​CHUCK TODD:

--a conspiracy theory--

​REPRESENTATIVE STEVE SCALISE:

--reading a lot of these Democrat talking points. The people that have been saying for years that the president was involved in all these other things and then none of it turned out to be true. The Mueller investigation was their ticket to impeachment. Shouldn't, by the way Chuck, shouldn't they first have voted to start an impeachment inquiry, which has always happened? This is only three times in the history of our country that Congress has moved articles of impeachment. And they wouldn't even do that. It's like they're trying to shield their members from voting on this while they continue to go down the drumbeat of impeachment. Because, as the author of impeachment articles said, he's concerned that president will get reelected. That's not why you impeach a president. We've got an election next year to deal with that.

​CHUCK TODD:

Congressman Scalise, I will leave it there. The number two in the House. Thanks for coming on and sharing your views. Much appreciated.

​REPRESENTATIVE STEVE SCALISE:

Good to be with you.

​CHUCK TODD:

Coming up, the panel and the next steps on the road to possible impeachment. But first, how a small country under siege from Russia became a threat to Donald Trump's presidency.

​(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

​CHUCK TODD:

Welcome back. The Ukraine story has moved at warp speed over the last week. And it's understandable if people are a bit confused about what President Trump is accused of doing, why he called the president of Ukraine when he did, and exactly what role Ukraine plays in all of this. So I'm joined now by Michael McFaul, who was President Obama's ambassador to Russia. And he's the author of “From Cold War to Hot Peace: A U.S. Ambassador in Putin's Russia.” He's currently a professor at Stanford University, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution. He and I are going to walk you through a brief timeline to at least help you understand how we got to the point we're at. Michael McFaul, we'll try to do this the way you spend your day.

​MICHAEL McFAUL:

The Stanford way, yeah, standing up here in front of our slides.

CHUCK TODD:

In front of our slides, in front of here.

​MICHAEL McFAUL:

Thanks for having me, Chuck.

CHUCK TODD:

It is-- The phone call was actually the middle, it looks like--

​MICHAEL McFAUL:

Yes.

CHUCK TODD:

--of this, of this controversy, not the beginning. In fact, the beginning goes back to early '19, when, as personal attorney for President Trump, Rudy Giuliani starts looking for Ukrainian contacts to help him, in Rudy Giuliani's words, find out the origins of the Mueller report,--

​MICHAEL McFAUL:

Right.

CHUCK TODD:

--look for the real hackers, potentially, looking for some dirt on Joe Biden. He meets with a prosecutor general by the name of Lutsenko a few times. And then he’s, what is he looking for exactly? Again, he's trying to pursue a, a conspiracy theory that Ukraine, not Russia, hacked the DNC, and that Joe Biden had a former prosecutor fired simply to help his son. Walk me through these.

​MICHAEL McFAUL:

Well, let's start with Joe Biden and the prosecutor. The man before Lutsenko, Mr. Shokin, was the one that we were putting pressure on, the administration and everybody else. And he wasn't doing enough to investigate corruption, including Biden's son. So when Lutsenko comes on the scene, Giuliani thinks he has a new partner, somebody he can go after this story. And he does, aggressively. The second part is a little more cockamamie. They want to build this theory that, somehow, a company called CrowdStrike found the emails, publicized them, some Ukrainian connection, which I don't understand. And that was a way to help Hillary Clinton win the election. But both of those stories, Mr. Giuliani is trying to find, that's why he's engaged with Ukraine.

​CHUCK TODD:

Well, he, he is able to get some of this stuff into the conservative echo chamber--

​MICHAEL McFAUL:

He does. Yes.

​CHUCK TODD:

--mostly through Fox News. You see, constantly, through the months of March and on Twitter.

​MICHAEL McFAUL:

Ukraine, Ukraine, Ukraine, right.

​CHUCK TODD:

Ukraine, you know, and Biden, and what's this, and all this stuff, so creating this predicate that, somehow, this, this matters. And then something out of the ordinary happens to their plan, April 21st, a surprise victor in the Ukrainian presidential election. What, why did this set them back?

MICHAEL McFAUL:

Because the previous prosecutor, Mr. Lutsenko, was their guy. He was working with Giuliani. And suddenly, Lutsenko's boss, Poroshenko, loses an election to Mr. Zelensky.

CHUCK TODD:

So all this work Rudy Giuliani had done to curry favor--

MICHAEL McFAUL:

Yes.

CHUCK TODD:

--with who he thought was the president's lead investigator, suddenly out the window. And he's like, "Who's this Zelensky guy?"

MICHAEL McFAUL:

And what are we going to do now? How are we going to keep pushing the story with a brand new president?

​CHUCK TODD:

Well, clearly, the president maybe needed leverage. So what do they do? They force out the ambassador, who had been getting into back-and-forths with Rudy Giuliani. Giuliani cancels his own trip to meet with some people close to Zelensky, then this, the ultimate snub. Vice President Pence was going to lead our delegation to Zelensky's inauguration. They yank him. And it was meant to send a message. July 18th, a bigger message, they announce the freezing of the aid, nearly $400 million that was supposed to go to Ukraine. It isn't clear if the Ukrainian government knew it was definitely being frozen over all of this. But of course, this leads to the phone call, on July 25th, which, by the way, happened the day after Mueller's testimony to Congress. We think it's worthy of this. But all of those actions leads us to, "I would like you to do us a favor, though." This was about what?

MICHAEL McFAUL:

Well, this is about President Trump asking President Zelensky to help him find dirt on his political opponent in 2020. It's clear as day in the transcript. And there is leverage there. Whether exactly what they knew, I don't think is important. There is always leverage, when you're talking to the President of the United States, because all leaders of the world want to have a good relationship with the president. It's especially important when your country is occupied by Putin, and you need the leader of the free world to be on your side. And when anybody says, "Let me ask for a favor," there's no favors in diplomacy. Everything is a quid pro quo.

CHUCK TODD:

Right.

MICHAEL McFAUL:

Everything is, "You do this, I'll help you."

CHUCK TODD:

Well, this triggers, obviously, a whole bunch of concern. The whistleblower, first, goes to his general counsel at CIA. Then he's worried it's going to get squashed, files the whistleblower complaint. The House begins an investigation. The administration does release the aid to Ukraine very quickly. But at this point, it seems to be too late. And then we find out, of course, this is all about Ukraine. What’s the, what what-- Is there any part of this that you think we don't yet know, when it comes to the Ukrainian side that will add to this story?

​MICHAEL McFAUL:

I think it's pretty clear cut, myself. I don't think this is a case where we need to know lots more details. The President of the United States used his office not to advance American national interest, but his private electoral gains. The only piece I'm interested in, Chuck, is what's the Russia angle? Because just a few days after that call, he's on the phone with Vladimir Putin. It sounds like that call has also been, you know, somehow put on the secret server.

​CHUCK TODD:

Yep.

​MICHAEL McFAUL:

I would love to know what he talked about Putin, with Putin.

​CHUCK TODD:

Will Congress ever see any of the communications between the president and Putin? That is going to be something, I have a feeling, we're going to talk a lot about. Ambassador McFaul, thanks for doing this.

​MICHAEL McFAUL:

Sure. Thanks for having me.

​CHUCK TODD:

Thanks very much. When we come back, the debate over impeachment. Panel is next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHUCK TODD:

Welcome back. Panel is here. Hugh Hewitt, host on the Salem Radio Network. Yamiche Alcindor, White House correspondent for PBS NewsHour. Presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, whose book “Leadership in Turbulent Times” comes out in paperback this week.

DORIS KEARNS GOODWIN:

Why the face?

CHUCK TODD:

Timing. Why now? And Mark Leibovich, chief national correspondent for The New York Times Magazine. Well, Doris, Leadership in Turbulent Times. We did some voter, we talked to a few voters in New Hampshire yesterday just to see how they're responding quickly. Take it with a grain of salt, but the comments were interesting. Take a listen.

[BEGIN TAPE]

JOEL MICHAUD:

A lot of people like Trump, but they're too scared to say anything because we've got some whackos out there that want to punch you in the face if you say you like Trump.

CHRIS KIPER:

I think we should go through with the process, whether it messes with the outcome of the 2020 election. I think that's its own kind of ball of wax.

ANGELA BARLOW:

I think that we're divided anyway, right? So moving forward with potential impeachment procedures, I think, is not going to really do anything different.

[END TAPE TAPE]

CHUCK TODD:

Give us your sort of that historical view. What, what, what's happening?

DORIS KEARNS GOODWIN:

Well, you know, when I look back at the three impeachments that I've lived through, I mean, I really only was there for Nixon and Clinton, but I feel like I was there with Andrew Johnson. The critical thing is: How is history going to regard what the House is doing right now? Will it be like Nixon, that the consensus will be afterwards that they had to do this because he had to be held accountable? And in the end, Republicans came along. And in the end, Ford says, "Our long national nightmare is over." Or will it be like Clinton, regarded as a partisan endeavor that boosts Clinton, in that case would boost Trump, and doesn't lead to a discussion? And the real challenge, I think, is the debate within the way they're going to conduct these hearings.

They can't just throw around words like "abuse of power" or "violation of oath." They have to explain. It has to be a giant civics lesson to the country to understand why are these things such that these people had to feel the need to try and impeach him now before the election? And that's the story that has to be told. You have to be able - just like these people who are talking to you, if they're successful in, in making it clear that they think he should be impeached, somebody has to be able to tell a story to the person sitting next to them in the bar that has a beginning, a middle and an end. "This is why it had to be done." If they can't do that, and then it simply goes away is part of the Russia investigation, the country's going to be more divided than ever before.

CHUCK TODD:

And there's a need for speed. You hate to say that. There's a need for both speedy thoroughness. Is that possible, Mark?

MARK LEIBOVICH:

It's going to be hard. I mean, I think what people do miss here. We say everyone's divided anyway. People are in their corners. There actually is a middle here. I mean, the middle is narrow. It's narrower than it might have been in the '70s during Watergate. But there is a time, and I think it would behoove certainly Democrats to do this as quickly as possible although also as thoroughly as possible, to actually win over maybe a 10% in the middle of this who are actually amenable to some facts that could potentially change their mind on some things.

CHUCK TODD:

If this stays a fact-finding mission, it likely will continue to get support. Early polling is showing the public is open, open to this investigation, Hugh.

HUGH HEWITT:

You know, I want to pick on something that Professor Kearns said, which is when--

DORIS KEARNS GOODWIN:

He was my student.

HUGH HEWITT:

I was her student.

DORIS KEARNS GOODWIN:

I told you I was--

HUGH HEWITT:

She was like ten.

DORIS KEARNS GOODWIN:

--older than everybody.

HUGH HEWITT:

She was like ten. But the most important thing that was said this morning thus far is Adam Schiff came on and he went full Alice in Wonderland Queen of Hearts, verdict first, trial later. I believe he destroyed his credibility this morning on this show as a fair arbiter of this process. The key other thing about is there enough time, is there a middle, that middle is tired of investigating President Trump. It has gone on for two years, and the most interesting part of the Nancy Pelosi decision to go for a fast impeachment is the implicit but very real concession that the Mueller Report had no impeachable offense: no obstruction, no collusion. It's gone. They have erased it from the record. So Adam Schiff is biased, and Nancy Pelosi has admitted that Mueller exonerated Trump.

YAMICHE ALCINDOR:

Let's talk about the simple story that Democrats have been searching for for a very long time. The Mueller Report was a 448-page report that people were confused about. Now, they have a sentence that's about 25 words that says, "The president of the United States was trying to get a foreign country to interfere in the 2020 election." That's what Democrats have been looking for their entire time that President Trump was in office, and they finally have it here. And I think that's why we see Representative Schiff saying, "The cover-up might be important, but the most important thing is what the president said on the call." That's what's at the heart of this. And I think that's why there's political risk there for both Democrats and Republicans.

CHUCK TODD:

All right. I want to get to some of the key players that are going to become stars of this investigation. They were, these are the folks named in the whistleblower complaint: Pence, Barr, Pompeo, Giuliani, Yovanovitch (the ambassador), Volker (the special envoy who researched Friday), Sondland and the U.S. attorney Durham. I want to focus on Rudy Giuliani here a minute, guys, because it feels like if things get really bad for the president that Rudy is already looking like the scapegoat, the easiest scapegoat. Republicans are ready to turn on him. "'I wish he would shut the heck up.' Republicans sour on Giuliani," says the Politico headline. "I think it would be a good thing if he would take a vacation.” He's as wild as a March Hare," from John Kennedy. "I'm not sure he's helping the president by being on TV every 15 minutes," said Lindsey Graham. "I wish he would shut the heck up," said another Republican lawmaker. Hugh Hewitt, could Rudy be the guy that everybody concentrates their, "Yeah, I don't like this. Don't impeach the president. Rudy's a bad guy"?

HUGH HEWITT:

He's not John Dean. And the one thing we have to be careful of is while he indeed is an object of controversy and scorn often inside the Beltway, he cuts through everything outside of the Beltway. So when you go to Warren, Ohio, people hear him, and they respect him, and they listen to him.

CHUCK TODD:

Leibo?

MARK LEIBOVICH:

I think they hear him because he is everywhere. I mean, I think what he is emblematic of is he is, first of all, he is a proxy for the president. He is his personal attorney. Or, you know, sometimes he’ll, he's a free-range chicken, as Senator Kennedy would say, right? But he also is someone who-- I mean, the fact that he's out there so much is emblematic of the fact that a lot of Republicans are not comfortable being out there very much. The defense of President Trump has not come to any kind of coherent, you know, message. And, look, whatever Rudy Giuliani says on a given day becomes the message and he becomes sort of a lightning rod here.

YAMICHE ALCINDOR:

When you talk to Rudy Giuliani, the issue with that is that he's also talking about all the other people that he says were involved. He says the State Department--

CHUCK TODD:

He keeps, he keeps inviting--

YAMICHE ALCINDOR:

--called me and--

CHUCK TODD:

He basically says, "Here, Adam Schiff. Here are more people to subpoena."

YAMICHE ALCINDOR:

"Here are more people to subpoena." And there's this idea that really there's a long list of people that Rudy Giuliani says is part of this. And even though the Mueller Report might not have been impeachable offenses, what you see in the Mueller Report is a cast of characters either trying to mitigate the president's actions or trying to help them along. In the complaint, what do you see? A group of people who are either trying to help him, which is Rudy Giuliani, or trying to mitigate him, which is Kurt Volker.

CHUCK TODD:

Doris, you're going to get the last words here. You mentioned something very smart about the Nixon impeachment. In the moment, it was very partisan. After it was over, there was a consensus. You hear Mitt Romney say "deeply troubling." You hear Ben Sasse saying, "Let's not get, you know, let’s not quickly rally around here." Are those the, is that what you're watching for?

DORIS KEARNS GOODWIN:

I think it's really important for the country, if this is going to go through, that it becomes at least more bipartisan than it is at the beginning. And when you do hear Republican senators beginning to speak up, that what we saw on the face is troubling, if more facts come out, maybe more people will come to the forward that we don't know. Who are the other White House officials who talked to the whistleblower? Hopefully, facts will drive this forward and you'll see some consensus. That's what we have to hope for for the country. Either consensus that he shouldn't be impeached or that he should.

CHUCK TODD:

I have a feeling Senate Republicans are in a better place to do that than House Republicans. Coming up, how will the push for impeachment impact the Democratic presidential race? But, first, when we come back, a part of my interview with Iran's foreign minister, Javad Zarif.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHUCK TODD:

Welcome back. As a candidate, Donald Trump was highly critical of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, which was joined by China, France, Germany, Russia, the U.K. and the European Union. And as president, he withdrew the United States from the accord in May of last year. So with the U.S. out of the deal, Iran has recently taken steps to enhance its nuclear program. And the U.S. has also blamed Iran for the attack on Saudi Arabia's main oil facility. Yesterday, I sat down with Iran's foreign minister, Javad Zarif, and I asked him about the possibility of ever reaching a new agreement with President Trump.

[BEGIN TAPE]

CHUCK TODD:

Do you imagine you can actually ever cut an agreement with President Trump?

JAVAD ZARIF:

That-- He has made it very difficult because he has said this was an agreement by the previous administration, notwithstanding the fact that this was a Security Council resolution, but simply stating that this was an agreement by the previous administration. If I- If I were to start negotiating with this administration, it took us, last time, it took us two years to negotiate. This time, it will take us even more because we know how the United States behaves. And let us assume that President Trump is reelected. In two years' time, there is only three years left of the second term of President Trump. Do we waste two years of negotiations just to benefit--

CHUCK TODD:

Wow. You sound like you've made the decision. You're not talking. You're going to wait until there's a new American president--

JAVAD ZARIF:

No.

CHUCK TODD:

--either 2020 or 2024--

JAVAD ZARIF:

No, no, no, no. We're not waiting for that. We're waiting for this administration to come to its senses or the future administration.

CHUCK TODD:

So you, you would negotiate with this administration?

JAVAD ZARIF:

Of course we would, but--

CHUCK TODD:

And you still would cut a deal--

JAVAD ZARIF:

But not--

CHUCK TODD:

--with President Trump?

JAVAD ZARIF:

Not, not a new deal. They have to show that they respect their signature. Unless they show that they respect their signature, there is no point in negotiating with them because you set a bad precedent. You renegotiate an already negotiated issue with this administration. There is no end to that. Because tomorrow they can come back to you, even the same administration, and tell you, "This was not enough." Let me tell you about USMCA. Mexico allowed President Trump to renegotiate NAFTA. They reach USMCA, but then President Trump said, "Unless you agree to some of my demands on immigration, I will not implement USMCA." So there is no end. Somebody starts bullying. And the more you give to that bully, the more it wants.

[END TAPE]

CHUCK TODD:

Well, you can see my entire interview with Foreign Minister Zarif, including that cyber war comment he made that we released yesterday where he admits that Iran and the U.S. are in an active cyber war. His refusal to deny an Iranian role in that attack on Saudi oil facilities. All of it is on our website, MeetThePress.com. When we come back, End Game. Is the impeachment fight a good thing or a bad thing if your name is Joe Biden?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHUCK TODD:

Back now with End Game. Let's just cut through all of this. This is - the next four months, everybody's got the same question politically, which is: What's Joe Biden going to look like at the end of this process? Here's Biden dealing with this the first publicly on Friday.

[BEGIN TAPE]

JOE BIDEN:

My family handled this. But I'm worried about all the families and all the lives that are at stake in this election because of his failure as a president in terms of the substance of what needs to be done.

[END TAPE]

CHUCK TODD:

Yamiche, I have a theory that the presidential race for now basically freezes in place, Biden-Warren. But ultimately we're all trying to figure out is how does this impact Joe Biden?

YAMICHE ALCINDOR:

I think there are political risks there and there are political benefits. I've been talking to sources inside the Biden campaign, and they told me that this week they saw their best fundraising numbers ever since the second week of his campaign. So what you saw was Elizabeth Warren starting to rise in Iowa, some polls showing for the first time that she was ahead. Now, they're starting to see more interest in their campaign. I'm also hearing that they think it's ridiculous to compare Hunter Biden to Don Jr., which is something that people are starting to do, because Republicans are making the case that essentially, "You've been saying that the president's -- Don Jr.-- son has been essentially profiting off of the fact that his father is president, and Hunter Biden was doing the same thing when his father was vice president." That said, the Trump campaign says, "We also got $5 million 24 hours after Nancy Pelosi launched this formal impeachment inquiry." So in some ways, there is risk everywhere for both parts. Joe Biden doesn't want to be talking about Hunter Biden's business dealings in Ukraine, and President Trump doesn't want to be talking about the favor that he asked on that call.

CHUCK TODD:

Is this almost like if this damages Trump, then the only good news Republicans get out of it is to damage Biden with it?

HUGH HEWITT:

Oh, he is definitely damaged. To your question, yes, it is good news. Joe Biden has been devastated by this. There is in the Washington Post this morning on the landing page not only a column by me, which is a partisan column, but an in-depth report about Hunter Biden in Ukraine doing what you did with Mike McFaul, a chronology, building on the New Yorker profile. And I believe in one standard. If there was enough evidence to use in a FISA warrant against Carter Page for probable cause for being an agent or an accomplice of a foreign government, Hunter Biden should have been under the same surveillance from 2014 forward for the same reasons, that he is deeply cooperating with people whose interests are not aligned with the United States abroad.

CHUCK TODD:

I don’t - Hugh, I have no--

HUGH HEWITT:

Read the column.

CHUCK TODD:

I have no idea how that is even remotely relatable, but I will read your column.

MARK LEIBOVICH:

I would put it under the umbrella-- and Hugh wrote a great column. But I would put it under the umbrella of exhaustion. I think, as you said earlier, you said earlier a lot of people are exhausted from people--the Democrats investigating Donald Trump. I would just say people are exhausted. A lot of people are exhausted with everything around Donald Trump. I think that happened before Ukraine. I think it started to show up in Donald Trump's numbers. I think this story has put a whole new big pile of exhaustion onto this big, big sort of smoldering whatever it is we have.

CHUCK TODD:

You can be pro-Trump's agenda and have Trump fatigue, Doris.

DORIS KEARNS GOODWIN:

Yeah, I think that's true. I think the problem for Joe Biden is that what he had going for him was that he was part of the Obama administration, scandal-free basically, no drama every day. And he could return to that normalcy in a certain sense. Now, he's been made part of this drama. The benefit for him, because I agree with you there's risks and benefits, is not only the sympathy that people might feel. But if this really ups his campaign, if he realizes, "I'm fighting for my honor and my reputation. I'm not just fighting because I'm electable," and he talks to reporters more, and he gives more speeches, and he does less campaign funding, and he does what a person fighting for their life does.

CHUCK TODD:

I've got the head of the Nixon library over here, and I've got my favorite historian over there. Should Biden give a Checkers speech?

HUGH HEWITT:

Hm. You know, he should go on 60 Minutes with Hunter Biden by his side and take every question.

CHUCK TODD:

Interesting. What do you think of a Checkers speech? Could be quite effective?

DORIS KEARNS GOODWIN:

It could be quite effective. I think he has to deal with it more directly than he did in the clip we saw this morning.

CHUCK TODD:

My apologies for those of you going, "Checkers speech? What are they talking about?" I know sometimes references… This goes back to Richard Nixon--

DORIS KEARNS GOODWIN:

Oh, we know.

CHUCK TODD:

--as vice president in 1952.

YAMICHE ALCINDOR:

I knew exactly what you were talking about--

CHUCK TODD:

And I say that because sometimes we make these references that we don't do enough of. But at that point, Nixon accused of something and he uses television for the very first time to become a sympathetic figure.

YAMICHE ALCINDOR:

I think Joe Biden could completely benefit from this, but I think that they're really going to have to want to explain why Hunter Biden is different from Don Jr., different from what people think President Trump was doing with his children. I will just say really quickly there was a poll out that PBS NewsHour and NPR did. This was 58% of people said this would have no factor in who they voted for in 2020, all of this. So that's some--

HUGH HEWITT:

If you're a Democrat though, don't you worry about--

CHUCK TODD:

All right.

HUGH HEWITT:

--what they'll drop when the campaign--

CHUCK TODD: Here we go.

HUGH HEWITT:

--October?

CHUCK TODD:

That's maybe what they think. Finally though, as we say a goodbye, I got a note about Hamilton. Not the musical. The man. Alexander Hamilton wrote in Federalist 65 about the perils of the impeachment process, warning that each side might judge the case based on preexisting biases. Hamilton wrote, "And in such cases there will always be the greatest danger that the decision will be regulated more by the comparative strength of parties than by the real demonstrations of innocence or guilt." Sound familiar? Good luck, America. That's all we have for today's history lesson. Thank you for watching. We'll be back next week with Federalist 66. Because if it's Sunday, it's Meet the Press.