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Full transcript of "Face the Nation" on November 24, 2019

On this "Face the Nation" broadcast moderated by Margaret Brennan:

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MARGARET BRENNAN: It's Sunday, November 24th. I'm Margaret Brennan in the nation's capital. And this is FACE THE NATION.

REPRESENTATIVE ADAM SCHIFF: Raise your right hand. I will begin by swearing you in.

MARGARET BRENNAN: A whirlwind week of congressional hearings concludes and both sides dig in for even more political fireworks, as debate begins on whether or not to proceed with the vote on articles of impeachment. But what will those articles be if they do? And what's the President's defense? We'll map out what's ahead with counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway and the number two Democrat on the Intelligence Committee, Connecticut Congressman Jim Himes. We'll also hear from a Republican on the committee that will write those articles, North Dakota's Kelly Armstrong.

(Excerpt from campaign ad)

MARGARET BRENNAN: Plus, former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg spends at least thirty-four million dollars on ads in more than two dozen states to announce he's joining the race.

(Excerpt from campaign ad)

MARGARET BRENNAN: We'll talk with our panel of legal experts, then look at the highs and lows in politics.

And the rest of the news this week just ahead on FACE THE NATION.

Good morning and welcome to FACE THE NATION. We have a lot to get to today, but we will begin with some breaking news. Michael Bloomberg is officially joining the presidential race. Our Ed O'Keefe is at the Washington bureau. Ed, the slogan, according to the website, is "Rebuild America." What do you think the entry of this billionaire entrepreneur into the race will be?

ED O'KEEFE (CBS News Political Correspondent/@edokeefe): Well, for one thing it pumps a lot more money into this race. The fact that he's going to spend at least thirty-four million dollars across dozens of states to run an ad over the next week or so to introduce himself, not in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada, but in places like Florida, New York, Illinois, several southern states, as well, because he's going to take aim instead of those early states at the Super Tuesday states that vote in early March, believing that he has no chance at this point to build a formidable operation in those early areas and instead wants to sell himself basically to the rest of the country. And he'll be essentially waiting out whoever emerges from those first four states, at least that's his hope, and will be able to confront them come Super Tuesday. But he enters the race as a moderate, as someone who is concerned about the direction of the Democratic Party and certainly the direction of the country, and he's making good on something, Margaret, as you and I know very well, that he's thought about doing since at least 2008.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And this time he's-- he's pulling the trigger and getting in. We've seen the ad. We know that Senators Warren and Senator Sanders have been very harshly critical of Bloomberg's wealth and sort of characterized him as buying his way into a race without a grassroots movement. And it struck me watching his ad, this particular line, it seemed to be a nod to them.

MAN (Campaign ad): The wealthy will pay more in taxes and the middle class get their fair share. Everyone without health insurance can get it and everyone who likes theirs keep it.

ED O'KEEFE: That's right. It absolutely did. And-- and, you know, they see him as a convenient foil for their ongoing push against the wealthy and big corporations in this country. You know, Tom Steyer, the philanthropist who has been in this race but hasn't really made much of an impact. Bloomberg will immediately draw far more attention. And in that ad you noticed he says that he would support health care if you like what you have right now or essentially provide a public option. That puts him to the right of Warren and Sanders, probably more in line with Joe Biden, believing that instead of ripping up the Affordable Care Act it should be built out. So he will continue to make this sort of centrist push, believing that what-- what Sanders and Warren are suggesting is not good for the country and certainly not good for the Democratic Party in the short term, and-- and we'll see sort of how Sanders and Warren use his entry now as a potential argument for their candidacy instead.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hm. And you mentioned at the top sort of the-- the different strategy of this campaign, and political junkies know the whole sort of model of the early caucus states, et cetera, but what is unique about this? I mean, is Bloomberg essentially buying his way in as he's being accused but in a way that is perhaps more effective, more sort of Trumpian?

ED O'KEEFE: Yeah. That-- that will be the argument that some Democrats make for sure. He is-- he is buying his way in, in this sense, in that he is immediately getting himself on the air, building on a pretty significant operation because he can afford to do it. He's worth about fifty-two billion dollars. And it sounds like he's putting up at least a hundred fifty million at the start. Hundred fifty million at the start. What will be interesting about this, voters will tell us pretty quickly whether they can tolerate having somebody like this in the race or whether they are intrigued by it. One in five Democrats in our recent Battleground Tracker poll said they would take a look at him as a possible candidate and a third said they don't know enough about him. So this advertising campaign very quickly could help fill out his story a little bit. But what it will do more than anything, Margaret, for those of us who follow this and I think are intrigued by this late entry is load test the theory that you can bypass those first four states and still be competitive. Rudy Giuliani has tried this in the past. Other Democrats got in late, thinking that it would work for them, but they didn't have the resources. Bloomberg does. And he also has some goodwill with Democrats. Remember, this is somebody who has pushed strongly for gun control--


ED O'KEEFE:  --in this country, who has helped bankroll big Democratic campaigns in big states and for congressional candidates across the country. Likely going to make an impact very early on.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Absolutely. Ed O'Keefe, we'll be tracking just what that impact is. No doubt.

And we turn now to impeachment. After thirty hours of televised testimony and with more than thirty-nine hundred pages of depositions released publicly so far, the question resonating through Washington and beyond is: what's next in the impeachment proceedings against President Trump? We begin today with a look at what we learned last week.

(Begin VT)

MARGARET BRENNAN: First, the case against Mister Trump. Republican fundraiser-turned-ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland was the most anticipated witness. He told Congress that the President instructed him to work with Rudy Giuliani to convince Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter.

GORDON SONDLAND (Wednesday): Mister Giuliani's requests were a quid quo pro for arranging a White House visit for President Zelensky. Was there a quid quo pro? The answer is yes.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But the President saw this part of Sondland's testimony as vindication--

REPRESENTATIVE ADAM SCHIFF (Wednesday): The quid quo pro you were discussing was over the aid, correct?

GORDON SONDLAND: No. President Trump, when I asked him the open-ended question, what do you want from Ukraine? His answer was I want nothing.

MARGARET BRENNAN: --and quoted from the hearing to declare the inquiry over.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP (Wednesday): Ready? Do you have the cameras rolling? I want nothing. That's what I want from Ukraine. That's what I said. I want nothing. I said it twice.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Other witnesses, including former White House Russia expert Fiona Hill said they were alarmed when they learned of Sondland's efforts.

FIONA HILL (Thursday): Because he was being involved in a domestic political errand and we were being involved in national security and foreign policy, and those two things had just diverged. I did say to him, Ambassador Sondland, Gordon, I think this is all going to blow up. And here we are.

MARGARET BRENNAN: State Department aide David Holmes recounted Sondland's phone call with the President in a Ukrainian restaurant.

DANIEL GOLDMAN (Thursday): So you heard President Trump ask Ambassador Sondland, is he going to do the investigation?

DAVID HOLMES (Thursday): Yes, Sir.

DANIEL GOLDMAN: What was Ambassador Sondland's response?

DAVID HOLMES: He said, oh, yeah, he is going to do it. He will do anything you ask.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Doctor Hill also stressed that the President's continued suggestion that Ukraine, not Russia, was responsible for the 2016 leak of e-mails that embarrassed the Clinton campaign was dangerously wrong.

FIONA HILL: This is a fictional narrative that is being perpetrated and propagated by the Russian security services themselves.

DANIEL GOLDMAN: Is it your understanding then that President Trump disregarded the advice of his senior officials about this theory and instead listened to Rudy Giuliani's views?

FIONA HILL: That appears to be the case, yes.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Conclusions from each side predictably fell along partisan lines. Republicans said Democrats failed to make a compelling case against the President.

REPRESENTATIVE WILL HURD (Thursday): An impeachable offense should be compelling, overwhelmingly clear, and unambiguous. I have not heard evidence proving the President committed bribery or extortion.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Democrats saw it differently.

REPRESENTATIVE ADAM SCHIFF (Thursday): And in my view, there is nothing more dangerous than an unethical president who believes they are above the law. And I would just say to people watching here at home and around the world, in the words of my great colleague, "We are better than that." Adjourned.

(End VT)


MARGARET BRENNAN: And we're back. Thank you for sticking with us through a technical problem there. We're joined now with counselor to the President, Kellyanne Conway. Good morning to you, Kellyanne.

KELLYANNE CONWAY (Counselor to the President/@KellyannePolls): Good morning, Margaret.

MARGARET BRENNAN: We right off the top talked about Michael Bloomberg getting into this race. What do you think the seventy-seven-year-old billionaire joining means for the field?

KELLYANNE CONWAY: It means that the Democratic field is underwhelming, even to someone like Michael Bloomberg. There are eighteen Democrats still running for President of the United States, Margaret, with probably another ten or twelve already dropped out of the race. And as Michael Bloomberg coming in saying, I don't think any of you can beat Donald Trump, for all the talk about electability, that's a fiction. You don't know if somebody can or can't win until they do or don't. The-- the real way that you win is through the Electoral College, which we proved in 2016. So I think Bloomberg's play here is to ignore those early states and focus on Super Tuesday. That was supposed to be a play for someone like Kamala Harris to go in and really make big gains in California. She's all-- her candidacy is all but deflated. But I will say a couple of things about Michael Bloomberg. His-- his new ad that he'll put millions behind is all unicorns and rainbows. Keep your health care if you like to and if you don't, I've got something better for you. Let's rebuild America. Number one, we heard that from Obama-Biden and Obama-Biden care passed almost ten years ago and as we sit here today, over twenty-eight million Americans have no health insurance of any kind.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So you're happy to run against another New York billionaire?

KELLYANNE CONWAY: Well, we're ready. And how's that? I think that President Trump will be ready. The other thing is that Michael Bloomberg is saying rebuild America. America already elected a builder. If we want to truly rebuild America, then the people who work behind us for you and me ought to get infrastructure done. Surface transportation and air traffic control system that was built for one hundred thousand annual passengers who now have close to a billion. So we have a builder in the White House who wants them to do what Nancy Pelosi said she'd do this fall, it's almost Christmas, which is pass that USMCA which would be more jobs like he's talking. Look, Michael Bloomberg was a great mayor of New York City. I lived there under Rudy Giuliani and-- and Michael Bloomberg. All four of my kids were born in New York when Michael Bloomberg was mayor. I wish he'd be mayor of New York City again. But if he's going to jump-- if he's going to jump in--


KELLYANNE CONWAY: --I think the most important thing to note is not just does the country have an appetite for a billionaire who's going to throw that money around the way--


KELLYANNE CONWAY: --billionaire Trump never did. We were under-resourced and understaffed at the Trump campaign and we-- and Hillary Clinton's campaign showed the fastest way to make a small fortune is to have a very large one and waste most of it. It's not that Michael Bloomberg may not be unwelcomed by the national electorate, is he welcome in his own Democratic Party? You've got the frontrunners saying that we don't want any billionaires in the country, let alone in the Democratic primary.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, I want to get on to what is happening here in Washington with this week of hearings. The President has said he wants a trial in the Senate, but then others at the White House say they're not even sure Democrats will move ahead with impeachment. What exactly are you preparing for?

KELLYANNE CONWAY: We're preparing for both eventualities. And here's why, Margaret. If we-- if it does go to a trial in the Senate, and that is not certain right now. You've got a lot of Democrats wringing their hands that they did not see, as Will Hurd--a moderate Democrat, excuse me, a moderate Republican who's retiring this year said he did not see overwhelming, compelling, clear, and convincing evidence. Many of those Democrats, especially the ones who represent the thirty-one Trump-Pence districts from sixteen, they have to go back home and say, I know I promised to lower your drug prices. I know I promised to keep this great economy going on. I know I promised trade deals like USMCA, but we're busy impeaching a President. And they're getting blowback for that. So I think for those Democrats, they're-- it's not completely certain yet. Some of them have actually gone on the record saying, I'm not there yet. I have to see what the articles say--


KELLYANNE CONWAY: --and what the report is. But we know what they didn't see this-- over twelve witnesses in two weeks of testimony and over thirty hours. They didn't hear anybody say when they were asked bribery? No. Extortion? No. Quid pro quo for the aid? No. Preconditions for a meeting? Did the President commit a crime? No, no, no every time. The closest they got to it was Sondland in his prepared remarks--


KELLYANNE CONWAY: --saying he thought there was a quid pro quo for a meeting.


KELLYANNE CONWAY: They had the meeting on September 22nd in-- in-- in New York. And also the aide went to Ukraine earlier than that.


KELLYANNE CONWAY: So they got their aid. They have got javelins and cyber rifles. The Ukrainian policy under President Trump is better than it was previously and Ukraine has more aid.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So, Sondland, you mentioned there who testified he-- he laid out a few different things there. But I'm wondering, you know, he serves at the pleasure of the President. Is he going to keep his job despite testifying against him?

KELLYANNE CONWAY: He flew right back to Brussels, Belgium. I don't know that he testified against the President. Again, I need to remind the viewers that when Sondland was-- when Ambassador Sondland was asked by Adam Schiff, who I guess was waiting for a different response, so the quid pro quo was for the aid? And Sondland said, no, the quid pro quo was for a meeting or a statement. Ambassador Volker separately testified they abandoned the whole idea of making a statement to focus on the aid. That was very smart because Ukraine got its aid. Margaret, we simply can't impeach and remove a democratically elected president from office because you didn't beat him and they didn't beat him in 2016. They haven't a clue how to beat him in 2020. They don't much like him. And I think that in the-- if there is a Senate trial, we'll be able to-- that will be more familiar to most Americans. This process is unfamiliar to them, where the President--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Meaning there will be witnesses?

KELLYANNE CONWAY: --can't even have-- there'll be witnesses. The President couldn't even have his own attorneys in there. And that's-- that's not very fair to the, quote, defendant. But I think defense will go on offense if there is a Senate trial and they'll be-- we'll be able to call witnesses, we'll be able to challenge their witnesses--


KELLYANNE CONWAY: --produce other evidence. And those witnesses may include the whistleblower, and I would say his attorney, because his attorney, Mark Zaid, had an e-mail or a text--


KELLYANNE CONWAY: --ten days after inauguration saying the coup begins now, impeachment.

MARGARET BRENNAN: The whistleblower's attorney there. Well, I want to get to something that we talked about in the top of the show. The President gave an extended interview on Fox on Friday, and he said once again that they, meaning Ukraine, have the server from the Democratic National Committee. Fiona Hill, the Russia expert formerly of the Trump White House, said this is something that's propagated by Russian security services-- services. It's false narrative. 60 MINUTES is going to have a report tonight on election hacking in 2016 and Bill Whitaker spoke to the man in charge of the DOJ investigation. Take a listen.

BILL WHITAKER (60 MINUTES): Frankly, I think the public is kind of confused because we hear you one arm of the government saying it's the Russians. We hear another part of the government saying maybe the Russians, maybe somebody else. We don't know. So what are we to believe? Is it the Russians? Is it not?

JOHN DEMERS (60 MINUTES): Well, our indictment spells out what it is. The evidence that we have has shown, which is it was the Russians who were behind the hacking and dumping of the Democratic campaign in 2016.


JOHN DEMERS: We could prove it beyond a reasonable doubt.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Why doesn't the President believe his own Justice Department and intelligence experts?

KELLYANNE CONWAY: But the President has said he accepts that. But also, there are plenty of ways to interfere in election. And respectfully, if we're doing this we're back to Mueller--

MARGARET BRENNAN: But he was specifically talking about the DNC server.

KELLYANNE CONWAY: But if we're doing this, we're back to Mueller and we've already spent two and a half years and thirty-five million taxpayer dollars for a Mueller report that was produced in March. It was a big bomb. Mueller testimony in July, a bigger bomb. And if we're going to go back to that I think it exposes what didn't happen on Capitol Hill this week that high crimes and misdemeanors--

MARGARET BRENNAN: But you know that Crowdstrike, that firm that the President keeps bringing up is based here in the United States. It's a publicly traded firm. It's, in fact, been hired by Republicans--

KELLYANNE CONWAY: So, here-- here's--

MARGARET BRENNAN: --since that time.

KELLYANNE CONWAY: But here's what I want to say. And-- and I'm glad you mentioned this, because the July 25th call, Margaret, the transcript which the whole world has had access to, the President clearly lays out what's on his mind. As the day after Mueller testifies--


KELLYANNE CONWAY: --and then the President looks at it it's his turn. He wants to get to the bottom of what happened in 2016 and certainly to avoid that in future. Look, we have done a great deal in our White House, across our administration, to secure our elections--


JOHN DEMERS: --in the future. And we agree with that. But I also don't want-- I don't want the impeachment process. I don't want members of the mainstream media--


KELLYANNE CONWAY: --which don't include you, to interfere in the 2020 election the way they tried in the 2016 election. She's going to win. He has zero percent chance of winning. That's a different kind of interference, and that's dangerous, too. Speaking of the polls, very quickly, the independents have totally changed. A month ago, just in late October, they were in favor by fifteen points, including the national polls of impeaching the President. It now has flipped. Forty-nine percent against--


JOHN DEMERS: --thirty-four percent for. So, these Democrats who are in charge of the hearings don't represent the swing districts. They have to look at the polls and say there's no appetite to impeach and remove this President.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, we're going to talk to one of those Democrats who is on the House Intelligence Committee ahead. But we're going to first take a break. Don't go away.


MARGARET BRENNAN: We're back now with the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, Congressman Jim Himes. He joins us from his district in Stamford, Connecticut. Good morning to you. Congressman, you-- you heard the White House case as laid out by Kellyanne Conway. Is there a chance that the House actually doesn't move ahead with impeachment?

REPRESENTATIVE JIM HIMES (D-Connecticut/@jahimes/Intelligence Committee): Yeah. Case is an interesting way to put what Kellyanne Conway just did. I was keeping pretty close track, and I'm pretty sure that every single one of her assertions was inaccurate. Let me give you the big example, and then I'll come back around to your question. She said, hey, nothing happened here. The aide was released and the meeting happened. Now, you could look this up because I understand that the White House is all about making facts slippery, but both of those things happened. The aide was released and the meeting happened, not in the Oval Office. But the aide was released and the meeting happened after they were caught, after September 9th when the inspector general of the intelligence community came to Congress and said, there's this whistleblower complaint. And the White House, by the way, had seen that complaint. So when the jig was up, yes, then the aid was released once they were caught. But she's also wrong, just to get back to your question, I haven't spoken to all two hundred and forty or so of my colleagues, but-- but I don't think any Democrat in the Congress looked at what happened over the last two weeks and said, gosh, there's nothing there. Much to the contrary. Like the American public that was paying attention, my colleagues saw an ambassador fired for corrupt purposes, saw aid being held up, ad by the way, you know, she--


REPRESENTATIVE JIM HIMES: --Kellyanne Conway may quibble about-- about what Sondland said. The Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney said there was a quid pro quo, and we should get over it. So, no, there's not a Democrat who watched the last two weeks and said, gosh, this is a weaker case than I thought it was.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So there are no scheduled hearings left. What-- what is left to investigate? The case doesn't seem to be closed.

REPRESENTATIVE JIM HIMES: Well, you know, it's a little bit of a hard question to answer because, you know, again, whether you're Kellyanne Conway or Jim Himes, one thing is true, which is-- is that every single day and every single piece of testimony brought up new information. It might have been Laura Cooper who came to us, and the first thing she said was, look, I know the administration is saying the Ukrainians didn't know about this until late August, something that Kellyanne Conway repeated this morning, but she came to us in open testimony and said my office was actually queried by the Ukrainians in July. And I tell you that story because whether it's that or Bill Taylor appearing and saying--


REPRESENTATIVE JIM HIMES: --oh my gosh, there was this phone call that was overheard where the President asked about the investigations. Every single day provides new and incriminating evidence. So it's a little hard to tell you that this thing is done. Look, the thing we need before we get into talking to Pompeo or Giuliani or anybody else. We need the e-mails and the paperwork that we have subpoenaed from the State Department and from the White House so we can look at what people actually said to each other. That's the critical thing here.

MARGARET BRENNAN: As far as we know, there's no intention of handing them over. Are you in talks to actually have them deliver?

REPRESENTATIVE JIM HIMES: Well, we are. We're pressing. And-- and look, this is another thing that we and the American people--

MARGARET BRENNAN: You think you will get those documents released?

REPRESENTATIVE JIM HIMES: I don't know. Look, it's the decision of the White House and the decision of the Secretary of State. But the American people need to consider what is involved in the future if the President and the State Department can just tell Congress to go get lost.


REPRESENTATIVE JIM HIMES: That ends oversight. That ends the separation of powers. And that's a very scary thing.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Chairman Schiff said this morning that the committee is talking to Lev Parnas. He is one of the indicted associates of Rudy Giuliani. How far along is that? Do you think you need to hear from him?

REPRESENTATIVE JIM HIMES: Well, again, I think it will be very interesting to hear what he has to say, because, of course, he was wrapped up in the other half of this that we don't know a lot about, which is what the heck Rudy Giuliani was doing in Ukraine. Obviously, Rudy Giuliani, private citizen affiliated with the President, was instrumental in firing an extraordinary public servant--


REPRESENTATIVE JIM HIMES: --Marie Yovanovitch. So, I think Lev Parnas can shed some light on the whole unseemly activity that-- that Giuliani was up to in the Ukraine.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, and his attorney says he-- he would be willing to talk to your committee. One of the other things that his attorney has told news organizations like The Washington Post and CNN is that the ranking Republican on House intelligence, Devin Nunes, was in contact and trying to dig up dirt in Ukraine on Joe Biden. Is this a credible allegation? Is this something you are going to investigate?

REPRESENTATIVE JIM HIMES: Well, so if you watched Devin Nunes for five minutes in these hearings, you know that he has given over to the utterly to the defense of the President and more importantly, to the propagation of fantastical conspiracy theories like this notion that the President keeps pushing that the Crowdstrike company, which, apparently, is a Ukrainian company, despite the fact, as you pointed out, it's actually a California-based company. Devin Nunes has given himself over to the search for and propagation of wild conspiracy theories, which, by the way, at their source are about Russian intelligence. So, this whole Ukrainian meddling in the election of 2016 has zero evidence for it.


REPRESENTATIVE JIM HIMES: And it is deliberately propagated by the Russian state in order to create confusion. So, is it credible? And I-- look, I-- I don't know what happened on that trip, but the allegation is that Devin Nunes used federal funds to fly himself--


REPRESENTATIVE JIM HIMES: --and a couple of staffers over there in the search of dirt-- dirt on Biden. That's actually what the President is accused of doing, misusing public dollars for a political purpose. Look, I haven't seen evidence one way or the other, but obviously--


REPRESENTATIVE JIM HIMES: --Mister Parnas may be able to cast some light on that.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, we will see what happens. Some of your colleagues have called for the Ethics Committee to investigate. We'll have to leave it there, though.

And stay with us for more FACE THE NATION.


MARGARET BRENNAN: Some of our stations are leaving us now, but stay with us and we'll be right back with some impeachment analysis and our political panel.


MARGARET BRENNAN: Welcome back to FACE THE NATION. We turn now to North Dakota Congressman Kelly Armstrong. He's on the Judiciary Committee, which is where the impeachment process is headed next. Congressman, welcome. Thanks for being here.

REPRESENTATIVE KELLY ARMSTRONG (R-North Dakota/@RepArmstrongND/Judiciary Committee): Thanks for having me.

MARGARET BRENNAN: As we said, you're on the committee where this process moves to next. Do you have any indication on what the timeline is and what this is going to look like as those articles of impeachment are drafted?

REPRESENTATIVE KELLY ARMSTRONG: I don't. And I think we-- as we continue to move forward, I think the one thing that is true is that the Democrats are going to lose more and more control over this. I mean, at some point in time, Democrats are going to have to enforce some of the rules they passed on their own legislation. But regardless how you feel about this, this has been the most narrowly tailored and controlled thing by Chairman Schiff, both in the depositions, which I was a part of, and in the Intelligence Committee. But as it moves over-- over to the Judiciary Committee, they are going to lose more and more of that control. And for sure--


REPRESENTATIVE KELLY ARMSTRONG: Just there are rules where the President gets to have his lawyer and those types of things. Now, I get a little concerned about those because with all of those rules, the chairman has-- has absolute veto power. But if they continue down this place, eventually, it's going to end up in the Senate and they're going to go there. And I think it's important. They were talking about the poll numbers this morning with Emmerson, and--


REPRESENTATIVE KELLY ARMSTRONG: --there's a Vanity Fair article out that I think is probably the most important, and that is sixty-two percent of independents think that impeachment's more important to politicians. Sixty-one percent think it's more important to the media. So when you come from a state like mine and you continue to work through all of these things, I just don't think that as a political exercise, I don't think it has been a success--


REPRESENTATIVE KELLY ARMSTRONG: -- for the Democrats over the last two weeks.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Okay, so put the political exercise apart from this, and in terms of what you actually heard testified to, someone whose name came up repeatedly was Rudy Giuliani. And federal prosecutors we now know are investigating his activities in Ukraine. Are you comfortable with somebody who's not working for the U.S. government being this involved in foreign policy?

REPRESENTATIVE KELLY ARMSTRONG: I think your regular channels have been used a lot. And I've said this from day one. One of the reasons President Trump got elected is because he does things very differently. You know, whether--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Do you know what Rudy Giuliani was tasked with doing?

REPRESENTATIVE KELLY ARMSTRONG: I don't. I mean, he was working through all of those things and working toward corruption and--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Gordon Sondland testified that it was Rudy Giuliani who was carrying out the quid pro quo and that it was the President who told him to work with Rudy Giuliani.

REPRESENTATIVE KELLY ARMSTRONG: Gordon Sondland testified that that was his assumption in the third-- third different testimony he gave because Gordon Sondland has given three different versions of the event. But when pressed on it by Republicans on the committee, he said that he never directly heard any of those things and it was only assumptions he was making.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, he did testify on May 23rd that the President told him to work directly with Giuliani. But Ambassador Volker, who I know Republicans point to his testimony as Kellyanne Conway just did, he testified that it was Rudy Giuliani who was feeding President Trump this very negative view of Ukraine. And in fact, he was listening to that more than his own intelligence experts. Does that concern you?

REPRESENTATIVE KELLY ARMSTRONG: Well, I don't think that's entirely true. I mean, Roll Call was covering Ukraine's involvement. Politico was covering it. And before you get into any of those things, the President has said, I mean, we know actively that Ukrainian government officials were actively campaigning against the President in the 2016 election. He was very clear. This President is skeptical of foreign aid. He was skeptical of the--

MARGARET BRENNAN: You're talking about people who are no longer in the Ukrainian government who wrote Op-Eds that just said President, then-candidate Trump, was--


MARGARET BRENNAN: --against Russia.


MARGARET BRENNAN: You're not-- are you-- I just want to clarify because we went through this just a few minutes ago. Are you actually believing the theory that Ukraine and not Russia hacked the DNC servers?

REPRESENTATIVE KELLY ARMSTRONG: No, and I don't think that's--


REPRESENTATIVE KELLY ARMSTRONG: --where you go. I mean, and-- but they are trying to make this a binary choice between Russia and the Ukraine, and that's not what it is. And if you listen to Ambassador Hill's testimony, I mean, she had an opening statement. But if you listen to her testimony throughout the course of the day, she acknowledged a lot of these things. Not to put too fine a point on it, but the reason we're talking about the Ukraine is because we have had two weeks of impeachment hearings regarding the Ukraine. Those things are mutually exclusive. And I think the Republicans on the Intelligence Committee did a fantastic job of pointing out that how Russia interfered with the 2016 elections.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Would you be comfortable with a Democrat or any other President asking a foreign government to investigate a political opponent?

REPRESENTATIVE KELLY ARMSTRONG: Facts of this thing don't change. And that-- I mean, and that's part of this. This-- this President was interested in how Ukraine interfered in the 2016 election. He was interested in the corruption in Ukraine. He's always been skeptical of foreign aid.


REPRESENTATIVE KELLY ARMSTRONG: There was no favor. There was nothing that happened. The-- the aid was released.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So, the answer is you are comfortable?

REPRESENTATIVE KELLY ARMSTRONG: I think the President-- I think there's only one person that gets away with talking the way he does, and that's President Trump and that's why the American people elected him. And that's one thing, again, as you see through all of these conversations that have occurred, is these career federal employees--

MARGARET BRENNAN: So, no one but President Trump should be allowed to get away with this?

REPRESENTATIVE KELLY ARMSTRONG: No, I just think President Trump communicates in a way that is the reason why he got elected because he doesn't do the things the way everybody else does that. And you can tell that's a frustration from where we talk about career federal employees versus President Trump. President Trump said the phone call was perfect. President Zelensky has said on numerous occasions that he didn't--

MARGARET BRENNAN: And you accept all of this?

REPRESENTATIVE KELLY ARMSTRONG: --feel the pressure. I do. I think you have the transcript and you have the two principals on the phone call that have stated that.


REPRESENTATIVE KELLY ARMSTRONG: And after that, everything else is really just noise.

MARGARET BRENNAN: We have to leave it there. Congressman, thank you for joining us.


MARGARET BRENNAN: We'll be back with our legal panel in a moment.


MARGARET BRENNAN: Joining us now to help decipher the Constitution and discuss what might or might not be technically impeachable are CBS News legal analysts, that's Jonathan Turley and Kim Wehle, and CBS News White House correspondent Paula Reid, who also covers the Justice Department. Good to have you all here. I say "decipher" because there is going to be a debate over how do you define high crimes and misdemeanors, which, along with treason and bribery, are how the Constitution lays out grounds for impeachment. I know because we've been talking all week that you think there is a case to be made for abuse of power.

JONATHAN TURLEY (CBS News Legal Analyst/@JonathanTurley): There--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Is that what you think, you know, article of impeachment could be?

JONATHAN TURLEY: There-- I-- I think you can make a case of-- for abuse of power, but you're going to have to do some changes. You've got to reschedule. You've got to reframe this case and you have to repeat some of this testimony because right now this seems designed to fail. It's an incomplete record. And the problem is you have an audience that is listening just to hear the lines they want to hear.


JONATHAN TURLEY: When you step back and look at the whole, it is incomplete. And a member would have a good faith basis to vote against conviction on that basis.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, you heard Will Hurd of Texas, the congressman, say at the conclusion of the hearing that he was not persuaded. And he is one of the so-called moderate Republicans who people had been hoping might be able to be persuaded to go along with Democrats. And he basically said I have not heard the case for bribery. Did you hear the case for bribery, Kim?

KIM WEHLE (CBS News Legal Analyst/@kim_wehle): Well, bribery is expressed in the Constitution, and the idea is the framers did not want people in power using that power for their own personal gain. So if that's the definition, yes. And, of course, high crimes and misdemeanors is actually broader than just bribery and treason and includes things that can't be crime. So, for example, if the President were to move to the Kremlin and operate the White House out of the Kremlin, that wouldn't be a crime, but we'd say maybe that's impeachable. So there's some place in between just doing a bad job and-- and crimes and abuse of power. And I think we are squarely in that area right now with this President.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You're saying it's a-- it's not-- but when people apply their sort of law-- law and order courtroom scenario to this particular case, you can't do that. It's not the same legal standard.

KIM WEHLE: It's not the same legal standard. And it's really hard to wrap a lawyer's mind, my lawyer's mind, around what more we need, right, besides directly the President asking for this actual bribe so to speak or four hundred million dollars will be withheld, White House meeting will be withheld unless you announce an investigation into my political opponent. So we have interference in the election--


KIM WEHLE: --again with-- by the President or part of-- with Rudy Giuliani. That's problematic number one and asking for foreign interference, which is banned by our federal campaign laws.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And you're skeptical with this.


MARGARET BRENNAN: What would you need to hear to persuade you?

JONATHAN TURLEY: First of all, this is not bribery. It doesn't-- the Supreme Court unanimously rejected this type of interpretation unanimously in-- in the (INDISTINCT) case.

KIM WEHLE: For-- for a crime, right?

JONATHAN TURLEY: Right. But, you know, you can't invoke bribery. And then when people point out this isn't bribery, say, well, this is impeachment. It doesn't matter. You're invoking bribery because it's a serious criminal offense. And they don't have a complete record. This is like hear-- hearing Hamlet from Rosencrantz and Guildenstern alone. You need to talk to the royal family.


KIM WEHLE: It would be great if the White House would comply with the subpoenas.

JONATHAN TURLEY: Well, but you-- yeah.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, I want to get to Paula on that because you had Kellyanne Conway here saying they are preparing for all scenarios, Senate trial or if the Democrats just don't move ahead with impeachment. What are they actually planning for?

PAULA REID (CBS News White House Correspondent/@PaulaReidCBS): Well, this is all about the court of public opinion--


PAULA REID: --as Kellyanne Conway said the White House Counsel's Office, the attorneys, they have hired, they are working on a legal strategy. But for the President, he is approaching this just as he's approached all the other investigations with aggressive messaging. And he is the messenger. But our recent CBS News poll showed about fifty-six percent of Americans don't think he is doing a very good job, which is why you saw them bring in Pam Bondi, Tony Sayegh to help with the messaging, but it's been interesting. This strategy has really divided the West Wing. While the White House Counsel's Office wants to be aggressive, protect executive privilege, there are others in the Chief of Staff's Office and elsewhere in the West Wing who want to be more transparent. They feel like, look, if we have nothing to hide, let's be more cooperative and the communications staff, the folks who work there every day--


PAULA REID: --they are not very happy to bring other people in. So it's unclear if this strategy is actually-- actually been successful outside or inside the White House.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Should we read into the fact that the legal team you just described, that communications team is not here--


MARGARET BRENNAN: --or anywhere this Sunday?

PAULA REID: Absolutely. We saw one of the members, Pam Bondi. She was on CBS THIS MORNING earlier this week. She struggled with the basic facts of this case. So it does not surprise me that we now see Kellyanne Conway, who is one of the most effective advocates for the President, particularly when it comes to-- to legal investigations that she is now doing more of the forwrard messaging.

MARGARET BRENNAN: I want to ask you about the other development that we still don't quite have clarity on, which is, A, what Rudy Giuliani's real role is. He's been very vocal on the past twenty-four hours or so. But also the fact that he himself is now the subject of an investigation. Is that a part of this story that you think needs to be fleshed out before Democrats go any farther?

JONATHAN TURLEY: It is. I mean the Democrats have to decide if this-- if they want a real or recreational impeachment. A real impeachment means calling people like Giuliani and others to appear and then compelling them to appear. You can't create this-- the period, the shortest period of investigation in history for an impeachment and then impeach a President for failing to turn over documents in that period because he went to the courts. If that is obstruction for a President to seek judicial review in a conflict with Congress, then you could have impeached every living President, particularly Barack Obama, who made the same type of extreme interpretations when he refused documents of witnesses in Fast and Furious. So, you know, we-- at some point, adult supervision has to kick in here. And we have to decide, are we really trying to remove this President? And if so, the case has to be made.

MARGARET BRENNAN: What is Rudy Giuliani's role, Paula?

PAULA REID: He is still a member of the President's personal legal team. And he just--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Even though he is under investigation himself.

PAULA REID: Yes, but he'd be gone quiet for a while. And then he burst back onto the scene over the last ten days. And I texted him, I asked him, I said, is this at the direction of the President? And he told me that he takes his instructions from his client. So it appears even though he is under investigation by the Trump Justice Department for his dealings in Ukraine, the President continues to retain him as one of his personal attorneys, even working on Ukraine. And I have heard and the President has said publicly the reason is the President still sees Rudy Giuliani as he was in 9/11. He believes truly that he brings gravitas to his case and to his defense.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, it definitely keeps us busy. Paula, thank you. Thanks to all of us.

We'll be back in a moment with our political panel.


(Bernie Sanders dancing)

MARGARET BRENNAN: That was Bernie Sanders doing some more dancing. Wonder if he'll still be having his time-- the time of his life-- dad joke-- with Michael Bloomberg now in the race, a billionaire. He talks a lot about them. We're going to have some analysis now for Rich Lowry. He is the editor of National Review and author of a new book, "The Case for Nationalism: How It Made Us Powerful, United, and Free." Toluse Olorunnipa covers the White House for the Washington Post. He's also a CNN political analyst. Susan Page is the Washington bureau chief of USA Today. And Joel Payne is a Democratic strategist and CBS News contributor. Thank you all for being here. Rich, Michael Bloomberg used to be a Republican.

RICH LOWRY (National Review/@RichLowry): He did.

MARGARET BRENNAN: He-- he does have a record that he will have to explain in terms of policies when he was New York mayor, stop and frisk and the like. The allegation was nanny state in terms of, you know, restrictions on big gulps and things like that. But is he the kind of centrist Democrat that Republicans might be able to warm up to if they're not going to vote for Trump?

RICH LOWRY: I think Michael Bloomberg is probably seriously annoyed everyone in the country over some particular issue over the course of his career, and just the theory of his campaign here, I've been wrong before, but seems preposterous. Skipping Iowa or New Hampshire usually doesn't work out well for candidates. But skipping the first four contests and then bludgeoning your way into the race through sheer financial force after that, after it significantly gelled just seems absurd to me and a way to spend a lot of money and make a lot of consultants rich but not win-- win many-- many delegates.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And not any support from Republicans either.

RICH LOWRY: Well, he's-- he has to-- he has the first--

MARGARET BRENNAN: You don't think he's got a actual shot at being the nominee.

RICH LOWRY: --part of the process is winning the Democratic nomination. Yeah. And prior to this point, early in polling, just didn't show very warm feelings for him among Democrats to begin with.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Joel, is that also your read?

JOEL PAYNE (Democratic Strategist/@paynedc/CBS News Contributor): I think that's right. I also have the, you know, ridiculous hot take that Democrats like to vote for Democrats and Mike Bloomberg is famously not a Democrat. He's an independent. I do think that he is trying to build goodwill with the party, not just with all of the ads that he's buying to spread his name, but he's also supporting a lot of Democratic progressive initiatives. Voter administration, he's spent a lot of money supporting gun control and climate change. So I think he has eased the lot of concerns and laid a lot of concerns with the leadership of the party. We'll see if that actually turns in the votes. Tom Steyer has tried it. It hasn't worked out. We'll see if it works for Bloomberg.

MARGARET BRENNAN: He also supported a lot of Democrats in 2018.

JOEL PAYNE: He did. He said--

MARGARET BRENNAN: So that must have won some goodwill.

JOEL PAYNE: That-- that did win some goodwill. And, you know, the-- the Bloomberg candidacy is really-- it's a vote of no confidence for Joe Biden. I mean, Joe Biden was supposed to be--

MARGARET BRENNAN: You agree with Kellyanne Conway essentially?

JOEL PAYNE: I mean, essentially, because the-- the theory of the case is that Joe Biden was supposed to be the person that owned that moderate middle lane in the Democratic Party.


JOEL PAYNE: It-- it has not worked out yet or at least the people behind Joe Biden probably don't feel that way quite yet. There's still time for the former vice president to earn that support, but he's got a lot of competition now with someone like Bloomberg. And, by the way, Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar, there are other moderates in the race who've come after his support.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Susan, I know you're always looking at polls and polling. But these hearings just concluded on Thursday. For people who make the argument that they didn't move the needle really in favor of Democrats, are they making a judgment too soon and do you think that this impacts the presidential race in any way?

SUSAN PAGE (USA Today/@SusanPage): You know I think the needle hasn't moved since the election in 2016. The-- the needle has been pretty well set for President Trump and for the opponents of President Trump. And--

MARGARET BRENNAN: You mean this was going to be a partisan vote no matter what.

SUSAN PAGE: A par-- it's going-- going to be a partisan. This is the very reason Nancy Pelosi, the speaker, didn't want to go down the path of impeachment on the theory that you needed it to be bipartisan that was going to be very, very difficult. And you need it to persuade the public. That is also very difficult. So I think we end up kind of where we began. That the Democrats are convinced that President Trump is a-- is a-- a toxic President and most Democrats I think believe that he deserves to be impeached. Republicans are standing behind him. That's where we are. And the-- the-- the question of what this does in 20-- in 20-- the 2020 election is one I think is impossible to answer at this point. I think it is a fool's errand to try to look at the Clinton impeachment or any other history--


SUSAN PAGE: --to try to figure out how this is going to unfold over the next year.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Because no sitting president has gone through an impeachment and a reelection at the same time.

SUSAN PAGE: That's right. And because--


SUSAN PAGE: --we're in such-- we're in such unusual times--


SUSAN PAGE: --where we seem so frozen into tribal camps.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Toluse, you heard Congressman Armstrong make the case that no other president really could talk like this and get away with it but that's okay. On Friday we saw kind of an example of how President Trump is vocal and unusual and really undeterred by this entire impeachment process when he gave that nearly hour-long interview live on Fox. What was that?

TOLUSE OLORUNNIPA (Washington Post/@ToluseO): That was the President sort of giving his view of this entire impeachment process. And he is embracing conspiracy theories that even his staunchest repor--Republican supporters are not embracing talking about CrowdStrike and talking about Ukrainian hacking. It's clear that other Republicans are going to make excuses for that, they're going to say this is just the President. He still has a hold on our voters. He is someone who has been able to launch himself into the Republican-- into the top of the Republican Party and take control of the party.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And said he would look forward to a trial in the Senate.

TOLUSE OLORUNNIPA: Yeah. And for the President, this is a loyalty test. He wants to make sure that he has full loyalty from his party going into 2020. And anyone who breaks apart from him is going to suffer consequences both from the President's Twitter account and also from his primary voters. So he's been able to coalesce his party behind him, and the fact that you have Republicans saying, oh, this is just the way the President talks, no one else could get away with it means that you're not likely to see very many Republicans break from him, but independents will be the key roadblocks.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Congressman Himes kind of gave an opening there indicating that they still were holding out hope the White House would produce documents as part of their investigation. Is there any change at the White House on that front that we know of?

TOLUSE OLORUNNIPA: I don't think so. I mean, I think the President will release the documents that he thinks are-- are favorable to him, like he released the transcript of-- of the second call--(AUDIO CUT)--that happened in April that didn't really have--(AUDIO CUT)--profile witnesses and documents that may show what exactly happened. I mean, the White House has not been able to say why they withheld the aid. There's been no consistent argument--


TOLUSE OLORUNNIPA: --to explain what-- that-- what happened and everyone in the administration was in the dark about this. And I don't think they're going to release anything because I don't know that there's anything that sort of exonerating for the President to-- to show that this was a sort of a well-thought-out plan to withhold the aid for a specific reason and the Democrats are saying that the reason was all political.

MARGARET BRENNAN: The RNC chair, Ronna McDaniel said this week, there is an absolute influx of smaller donations since impeachment has ramped that up. Is impeachment helpful to the President's reelection?

RICH LOWRY: I don't know. I-- I think probably he'll be impeaching, acquitted, and two weeks later it will feel like old news the way everything feels like old news. And I think-- if these hearings were just on par with the Iran-Contra hearings back in the Reagan era, hearings to get the facts out, extract damaging revelations, dominate the headlines, they'd be a home run. The question, though, is whether this particular episode can bear the weight of impeaching and removing a President literally for the first time in our history, and to that question I think the answer is no. And you see--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, removal.



RICH LOWRY: Removing, yeah. And on the cusp of reelection he very well could win. And I-- I think that's-- that's the-- the huge hurdle that Democrats can't get over. They're not getting over even with moderate Trump critics like Representative Will Hurd.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So, Joel, I mean, is the DNC also successfully fundraising off impeachment?

JOEL PAYNE: I-- I think there's been a lot of hand-wringing, the suggestion that Democrats are on the defensive now. All the polling, I've seen actually demonstrates that this is still a winner of an issue for Democrats. It's still a plus-five or a plus-six issue for Democrats across the board. The CBS poll that I saw last week had it at plus-fifty percent supporting the inquiry, even with independents less than half of them opposed it. I think that Democrats are going to be watching what happens in some battleground states. But, broadly speaking, the timing here matters also. The fact that this will likely be wrapped up by MLK or Groundhog Day, the fact that for ten months Republicans are probably going to have to run on the idea that President Trump wasn't impeached or rather he was impeached, he wasn't removed but you still got to run on a record of trying to take away health care from millions of Americans, from locking up kids in cages. That's still a record the Democrats are going to push. So there's plenty of time for that to set in.

RICH LOWRY: It's only going to be wrapped up so quickly because per Jonathan Turley's point earlier, they are leaving all the firsthand witnesses off the table, which they could secure if they waited a little bit longer and litigated it and--

MARGARET BRENNAN: John Bolton you're talking about?

RICH LOWRY: Yeah, and Mulvaney and Pompeo and-- and Pence.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Do you think they'd actually be allowed to show up?

RICH LOWRY: I-- I think it-- it would be decided by the courts. I think there is a colorable at least privilege claim, immunity claim in all these cases, but you'd have to wait, two or three months. And they don't want to do that explicitly because it's a political timetable. So they're going to send an incomplete case to the Senate.

SUSAN PAGE: No guarantee-- no guarantee in two or three months that you'd get these-- these witnesses. There's no guarantee by the Election Day you would get these witnesses. And Democrats have made the calculation that they've got enough in their mind to impeach the President so they should-- so they move ahead. This helps the President with his base. I think this hurts the President with that sliver--that small group of independent-minded swing voters in the middle. Many of them suburbanites, white college-educated people who voted for-- for him last time, abandon Republicans in 2018. I think it is a mixed blessing for the President.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Toluse, what does the Senate trial actually looked like?

TOLUSE OLORUNNIPA: Well, for the President it looks like trying to get Hunter Biden and trying to get all of these people who would be political opponents of the President to testify and dig up--


TOLUSE OLORUNNIPA: --dirt on them. But I think for the American people it could expose some of the things--


TOLUSE OLORUNNIPA: --that the President was doing, which does not look good even if it may not be impeachable in the minds of very many-- many Americans--


TOLUSE OLORUNNIPA: --definitely not a positive.

MARGARET BRENNAN: We'll be right back.


MARGARET BRENNAN: That's going to be it for us today. Thank you all for watching. Be sure to join us next week. We will be celebrating a FACE THE NATION tradition with our holiday book panel. This year's theme is patriotism, politics, and the President. In the meantime, all of you have a very happy Thanksgiving. For FACE THE NATION, I'm Margaret Brennan.

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