This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," October 8, 2019. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARC SHORT, PENCE CHIEF OF STAFF: I think the American people have a profound sense of fairness. And I think that they know a sham investigation when they see it, and they know a kangaroo court when they see it. And what is happening right now is you have a chairman of the committee who lied to the American people.
BRET BAIER: Leaders up on the Hill, on the Democratic side, are saying this could lead to obstruction, being an article of impeachment by this move alone.
SHORT: Bret, let's be honest, the Democrats have been pursuing impeachment from even before President Trump was sworn into office.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BAIER: Marc Short on this show just a short time ago. And the letter we were referring to sent about an hour ago to Speaker Pelosi, "President Trump and his administration reject your baseless, unconstitutional efforts to overturn the democratic process. The House of Representatives has never attempted to launch an impeachment inquiry against the president without a majority of the House taking political accountability for that decision by voting to authorize such a dramatic constitutional step." It goes on about a contrived process.
Let's bring in our panel, here at the White House, Mara Liasson, national political correspondent for National Public Radio, back at the bureau, Byron York, chief political correspondent for the "Washington Examiner," and Ben Domenech, publisher of "The Federalist." Mara, busy day here at the White House. That letter is essentially saying forget it. Unless you vote, we're not doing it.
MARA LIASSON, NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO: They weren't even saying unless you vote they would cooperate. The senior administration officials who had a background briefing for the press about this were asked repeatedly, if the House meets your criteria, if they vote on this, would you cooperate then? And they said that's a hypothetical. So they are the not even guaranteeing that they will cooperate if the House take as vote.
BAIER: Ben, your thoughts on this move?
BEN DOMENECH, "THE FEDERALIST": I think this is a political document, obviously. It's not really a legal one. It's meant to send a message to Capitol Hill, and I think it sends a very clear one, which is that, as Mara said, even if you do vote in this way, we might not cooperate, but at the very least, you need to vote. And I think it sends a message about the way that Republicans ought to be responding to this inquiry, that they should be demanding transparency that they should be demanding public hearings, which we haven't gotten yet from the Congress.
BAIER: Here is the Speaker, Adam Schiff, and Republican Lee Zeldin.
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REP. NANCY PELOSI, (D-CA) HOUSE SPEAKER: When to Congress to impeach a president, this is very serious for our country.
REP. ADAM SCHIFF, D-CALIF., CHAIRMAN, HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: There was no indication that the ambassador would be a no-show. Not only is the Congress being deprived of his testimony, the American people are being deprived of his testimony today. The ambassador has text messages or emails on a personal device, and the State Department is withholding those messages as well.
REP. LEE ZELDIN, R-N.Y., HOUSE FOREIGN AFFAIRS COMMITTEE: If we sound like we're pissed as we stand here, it's because we are. The American people are getting screwed by an enraged liberal activist base demanding impeachment.
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BAIER: Where does this go, Byron, do you think?
BRYON YORK, CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, "WASHINGTON EXAMINER": It goes to court. This is definitely headed to court. And the Sondland no-show and the letter are two parts of the same thing. And here's the thing. When Democrats are asked about the legitimacy of the impeachment investigation, why didn't you hold a vote, they have only one answer, which is we don't have to. And they don't. There is nothing in the House rules that makes them do it, there's nothing in the Constitution that makes them do it.
But in the past, in impeachment battles, when Democrats -- or excuse me, when the House issues a subpoena, and the White House refuses that subpoena, the House is in a stronger legal position if it can point to a formal impeachment inquiry. They will say basically this is more than just garden variety oversight. This is a big deal. This is an impeachment inquiry. It's tantamount to a judicial proceeding. Courts have respect for that.
So the question that's going to be decided in court is whether Nancy Pelosi can basically start an impeachment inquiry by saying I say so and not having a vote. The White House and Republicans believe they have a very strong case requiring a vote. But you can't predict this. There is no telling which way the judge is going to go.
BAIER: Byron, I want to start with you on this. The breaking news we had at the beginning of the show on a number of fronts. One is that the special prosecutor, John Durham, expanding his investigation, the timeline, getting more federal agents, more resources, the U.S. attorney from Connecticut looking into the beginnings of the Russian probe. Now it's going to go all the way through until Mueller's named Special Counsel. The other part about Mueller that he, in fact, was interviewing for FBI director the day before he is named as Special Counsel, and Rod Rosenstein had asked him about being Special Counsel prior to that.
YORK: Well, on the Durham thing, you have a lot Republicans who are very happy because they have been looking at what they think are very fishy developments that took place in the middle of 2016. Remember, the presidential campaign was fully underway at the time. International stuff. We have all heard of the mysterious Joseph Mifsud and George Papadopoulos and all of this stuff. So I think they are very happy to see an investigation that touches on that.
As far as Mueller is concerned, it really shows -- what you reported tonight really shows that there is a lot more to learn about what took place. Clearly, you had this surreal situation where Robert Mueller was apparently up for the job of working for the president, heading the FBI, or investigating the president as Special Counsel. Trump has said that was a conflict of interest. Mueller denied that it even happened. And now it looks like it did.
BAIER: Yes. Mara, the other thing we are hearing is that the I.G. is going to drop this report, Horowitz, about the FISA investigation --
BAIER: -- before the end of this month, probably within the next couple of weeks.
BAIER: Which comes at a politically --
LIASSON: Politically fraught time, and he will either decide that the FISA process was somehow wrong or corrupted, that there never should have been a FISA wiretap or FISA surveillance on Carter Page or not. But I think that there's two things going on here. It's one thing to look at some of the origins of this surveillance during the campaign. It's another thing to try to discredit the whole Mueller investigation, which is something that gave the president almost a clean bill of health. He could have pocketed the win and just moved on. But he can't.
BAIER: Then there is a lot here. There could potentially be a ton here. We don't know until we see these reports. And to be honest, there are some news organizations that are going to have a hard time explaining it all, because they haven't really covered it.
DOMENECH: It will be a surprise for all the different people who have been paying attention to those news organizations exclusively over the past couple of years, because I'm not sure that they will have been as familiar with some of these names or some of these developments.
Keep in mind this is a president who isn't just fighting on one front. He never likes to just fight on one front. It's not enough to take over the Republican Party. He has to beat down all the different factions within it. And in this moment he is fighting both the intel community and members of it, and Democrats on Capitol Hill, as well as the 2020 opponents that he could potentially face.
BAIER: When you look at these polls, Byron, "The Washington Post," House impeachment inquiry, support 58 percent, oppose 38 percent, flipping, essentially, from July. Do you think there is worry in this White House about those numbers?
YORK: Well, there should be. This is a significant flip. Back in the fall of 2018, just a year ago, his numbers, his impeachment numbers were pretty high. And, remember, there has been a lot of Democrats in the house who wanted to impeach the president long before the Mueller report and long before this whole Ukraine stuff. But they have clearly gone up recently, and they have gone up among some Republicans. And we do have some Republicans in the Senate, Mitt Romney the most prominent among them, but there are some others, too, who do not look like guaranteed acquittal votes for Trump in the Senate. Now, that doesn't mean that he is in danger in the Senate. I don't think he is. But, still, these are not good signs for him.
BAIER: Yes, he would have to lose 19 in the Senate. That doesn't look like it's happening. But it's also important to point out that the question was about the impeachment inquiry, not kicking him out of office. But we will definitely be talking about this for a long time.
Next up, the latest on the Democratic presidential race and all the developments on the trail.
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SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN, D-MASS., PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I was visibly pregnant. And the principal did what principals did back in the day, wished me luck, showed me the door, and hired someone else for the job.
I was visibly pregnant, which meant the principal gave you a handshake, wished you well, and hired somebody else for the job.
I went back to graduate school and took a couple of courses in education and said I don't think this is going to work out for me. And I was pregnant with my first baby, so I had a baby and stayed home for a couple of years.
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BAIER: Elizabeth Warren trying to explain this story that she tells on the trail all the time, that she got pregnant as a teacher and then was fired, but she explained it differently before. She is standing by the story with CBS, saying why did she say it differently? Well, "after becoming a public figure I opened up more about different pieces in my life and this was one of them." But the minutes from the board in 1971, from the "Washington Free Beacon" says the board voted unanimously on motion to extend Warren to a second year contract after that time.
Back with the panel. Mara, this seems confusing to some, but it's a problem for her.
LIASSON: It's confusing for some. I don't know how big a problem it is, but it is definitely symbolic of what I think is going to happen next in the Democratic primary, which is she is now either a co-frontrunner or an actual frontrunner if you look at some of these polls, and she is going to get the kind of scrutiny that for some reason she has totally avoided so far.
BAIER: Her turn in the barrel.
LIASSON: Her turn in the barrel, and I think that's what's happening. She is going to get media scrutiny. She's going to get more scrutiny and attacks from the other Democrats on the stage certainly at the debate in Ohio.
BAIER: Ben, what about this.
DOMENECH: I think that a lot of factors going on here. One is that there are a lot of people within the Democratic coalition who are opposed to Elizabeth Warren's economic populist agenda. They are concerned about her rising to the point of being, as Mara said, at least a co-frontrunner if not the frontrunner. And they are very concerned about what she represents.
She has had an experience in terms of her past of going through blue state politics and never really having to go through the kind of challenges that a lot of other politicians who are running in this race have in terms of their past. So I think that there is going to be a new lens focused on her and her past and what she has been willing to say about it.
The one thing that factors into this, though, as well, is voters are going to weigh this against the appeal of her message, which is clearly growing in a lot of different -- in a lot of different portions of the Democratic electorate and could end up bringing her to the nomination.
BAIER: New Q poll, Quinnipiac poll, out today has Elizabeth Warren at 29 percent, Joe Biden at 26 percent, Bernie Sanders at 16 percent. Nobody else is even up there. If you look at the three national, Iowa, New Hampshire, it is shifting, Byron, Warren's way, clearly. And Biden, despite being up in New Hampshire, has been sliding in recent polls.
YORK: This is a totally different race. This is not the race that we have been talking about for all of these months. Back in May, Joe Biden had a 27-point lead in the Real Clear Politics average of national polls. Today that lead is 0.2 points. It is not existent. So Elizabeth Warren has clearly come up. And you have to remember Bernie Sanders has been going down, and he is a man who would turn 80 in his first year in the White House, and he has just had a heart attack during the campaign. I think this is going to be a serious issue for him going forward.
BAIER: Mara, when Bill Bradley had a healthcare scare on the trail, his numbers went down soon thereafter. Bernie Sanders says he's fighting on, he's continuing on. Do you get a sense that this is changing?
LIASSON: Oh, yes. He had a heart attack, and he is the oldest candidate in the field. I think what we are going to see is where does his support go? Does some of it go to Biden? Some of it go to Warren? But this case I think is becoming a Warren-Biden case, and there are a lot of Democrats who are worried she is just too far to the left to beat Donald Trump. Mitch Landrieu quipped the other day she has a plan for everything except for how to beat Donald Trump. And she's going to have to make the electability argument. Can somebody who believes or favors mandatory Medicare for all and decriminalizing illegal border crossings win a general election?
BAIER: We'll follow. We'll be out at the debate next week in Ohio. Thank you, panel. When we come back, kindred spirits here in the White House.
BAIER: Gorgeous night here at the White House. Finally tonight, a light hearted moment in the Oval Office.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I certainly appreciate what you're doing now. I must say from my own experience, I understand what you are going through now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BAIER: Former Attorney General Ed Meese showing some empathy toward current Attorney General Bill Barr today. President Trump presented Meese with the Presidential Medal of Freedom today. Meese worked on Ronald Reagan's presidential campaign, became a White House aide, and rose to attorney general during President Reagan's second term. Great event today.
Thanks for inviting us into your home tonight. That's it for the “Special Report,” fair, balanced, and unafraid. “The Story” hosted by Martha MacCallum starts right now.
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