Nancy Pelosi under pressure to begin impeachment process

This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," July 26, 2019. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


REP. JERROLD NADLER, D-N.Y., HOUSE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: Whether you call that an inquiry or whatever you want to call that, that is what we've been doing and we are doing and we'll continue to do.

REP. JOHN GARAMENDI, D-CALIF.: I would like to call it, and I think it properly is, an impeachment inquiry.

MARY GAY SCANLON, D-PENN.: Impeachment isn't a binary thing, that you either are or you aren't.

REP. NANCY PELOSI, D-CALIF., HOUSE SPEAKER: We will proceed when we have what we need to proceed.

REP. JAMIE RASKIN, D-MD: It means different things to different people, but from my personal standpoint, I think we are in an impeachment investigation.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT: They have nothing. There's no collusion, there's no obstruction. They have nothing. These people are clowns. The Democrats are clowns.


BAIER: Well, the impeachment go, no-go, our senior Capitol Hill producer Chad Pergram said the Democrat press conferences was one of the most bizarre he has seen in 25 plus years of covering the place. What about this and the next steps? Let's bring in our panel, Matthew Continetti, editor in chief of the "Washington Free Beacon," A.B. Stoddard, associate editor at Real Clear Politics, and Hugo Gurdon, editor in chief of the "Washington Examiner."

A.B., to Chad's point, there was a lot of, are we in it, are we doing impeachment, it this really impeachment, is it not. It was a little bizarre.

A.B. STODDARD, ASSOCIATE EDITOR, REAL CLEAR POLITICS: Yes. And I think that people have been saying for a while, particularly on the right, that if it sounds like a duck and it quacks like a duck, it is a duck, and really that came true today. They are trying to have it both ways where they can proceed on that track while not having all members be all in on a vote and have to hold the line. Obviously, an impeachment vote is different than an inquiry. The beginnings of an inquiry that might become official are different from an actual one.

So it's a way to have both feet in two different places. They are under a lot of pressure, rising number of people who support it in their caucus, pressure from the outside. And at the same time I think that they do have a point that there is sort of a new threshold, which is that if Trump defies a court order than they have to proceed with impeachment, at which point that's rational. President Clinton lied under oath, there are certain things you can't do. I don't know that they're all on that song page, but that seems the most rational, one of their new arguments to me.

MATTHEW CONTINETTI, EDITOR IN CHIEF, "WASHINGTON FREE BEACON": In the '90s, it was depends on what the meaning of "is" is. Today it depends on what the meaning of "impeachment" is. Is impeachment an inquiry, is impeachment an actual process that leads to a vote. One of the congresswomen there in that opening clip said impeachment is not a binary choice. Yes, it is. You either decide you are going to impeach the president or you don't.

The Democrats have found themselves in a pickle. I would say that Republicans felt I think a false sense of assurance after Mueller's testimony flopped that this was the end of the impeachment debate. And the fact is Mueller was always a means. The end remained the same all along. It has been the same since Maxine Waters called to impeach 45 one month into his presidency, and that is to remove Donald Trump from office.

BAIER: Coming to the end of the week, just 30,000 feet, just tonight we just announced the U.S. Supreme Court clears the way for the Trump administration to tap into the $2.5 billion of Pentagon funds to build the wall. If you had to characterize this week, that's a pretty good week for President Trump.

HUGO GURDON, "WASHINGTON EXAMINER": It's a very good week for President Trump. That decision obviously goes against what the Democrats wanted. But for two days at least the Democrats have I think looked terrible. The Mueller inquiry, or the Mueller testimony on Capitol Hill was not just an utter flop because it did not give any further information that would inculcate President Trump, but it was a flop too because it showed huge gaps and it revealed the investigation as even more likely to have been sort of biased and partisan, not looked into things where the Democrats might have been guilty of relations, using information from Russia, et cetera, et cetera.

And then today they come out and they're at sixes and sevens, completely mixed on their messages. And one of them, I think it was Raskin who said that impeachment means different things to different people. No, it's one thing. And they don't know what they want to do. It was bad for Pelosi because she wants it to go away, but it has a flared up again. It will be in the conversation for a long time still.

BAIER: A.B., just 16 days ago "The Washington Post" had this about Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, quoting her about the House Speaker. "When these comments," speaking of Pelosi's comments, "first started, I kind of thought she was keeping the progressive flank at more of arms distance in order to protect more moderate members, which I understood. But the persistent singling out, it got to the point where it just was outright disrespectful, the explicit singling out of newly elected women of color." Here is the reaction today after their meeting.


PELOSI: We are not a lockstep, rubberstamp representation of anything except representatives of our districts and what that means. We sat down today. We had a good meeting. And the congresswoman is a very gracious member of Congress. I don't think there ever was any hatchet.

REP. ALEXANDRA OCASIO-CORTEZ, D-N.Y.: I'm looking forward to us continuing our work. And as always, I think the Speaker respects the fact that we are coming together as a party, and that unity. And I'm looking forward to us getting back after the summer.


BAIER: It's not just us. It's all media are covering the Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the squad, the focus. If you look at opinion polls, we have one out, the House Speaker up against AOC, and their favorability. Pretty high for a freshman congresswoman, 58 percent. And that she gets a lot of attention in the party. What about this?

STODDARD: She learned from President Donald Trump that it's all about the spotlight, and she games it pretty hard. No publicity is bad publicity. And Nancy Pelosi knows this problem is not going away. It will rear its head again.

She, as you quoted, inferred that the speaker is racist. Rashida Tlaib of Michigan went even further. She has been incredibly disrespectful to the speaker. I think Nancy Pelosi chooses her tactics wisely. In interviews with third parties she drops bombs on them. She went to AIPAC purposely to single them out as not representative of her caucus in terms of their loyalty to Israel. And she knows this is going to come down the road. Whatever she said privately to have AOC come out and say everything is hunky-dory, and her use of the word "gracious" is all intentional. It's not a problem that can be entirely controlled, but I think Nancy Pelosi is smart to take the high road. She's trying to give them a lesson about leadership and followership. It's not likely to succeed, but she is sort of taking this one week at a time.

BAIER: And she has some weeks now. They are on recess. We'll see what comes with that.

Next up, the Friday lightning round, Iran, North Korea, winners and losers, and another trip to the Candidate Casino.


BAIER: Big week for Iran, North Korea, testing missiles, but also this blockbuster from "The Wall Street Journal" today. "Analysts at the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency say North Korea's scientists may have produced 12 nuclear weapons since the first Trump-Kim meeting in Singapore last year. In total, Pyongyang currently possess between 20 and 60 nuclear bombs according to estimates by various security analysts."

Back with the panel. Hugo, I talked to the secretary of state yesterday. He said, listen, these tests, part of the deal. We are still moving forward, heading towards negotiations.

GURDON: The tests by North Korea clearly are warnings to the United States that there could be escalations. After the short-range missiles, there could be medium-range, and the threat is for ICBMs. This is not really about South Korea, which is what they were saying. President Kim knows that the crops in North Korea have failed. There's likely to be famine later this year. He really needs some sanctions relief, and President Trump has said it's not happening.

BAIER: Iran needs sanctions relief, too, A.B., and that's the going bet is that they're --

STODDARD: I think unlike Chairman Kim, who is having a wonderful time with President Trump in office because he is a nuclear power and President Trump only talks about how great their relationship is, and everyone has these missiles and it's all fine, he tells the Iranians he would like to negotiate but they can't have nuclear weapons. And they are not coming to the table. And they seem to be preparing to ride him out of his term. He doesn't have a cohesive Iranian policy or strategy that he has articulated to the public beyond they can't have nuclear weapons and I would like to talk, and we'll see what happens. And I think that they are going to continue with these provocations.

BAIER: I tried to press Pompeo on that strategy part yesterday. Matthew?

CONTINETTI: This gets the sense that if these waivers are rescinded, they will be dealing a crushing blow to the Iranian economy, and that is the point at which the Mullahs will have to decide, do they try to restart negotiations for a broader nuclear deal that incorporates other elements including their missile programs and malign behavior in the region, or are they going to go down the path of further escalation? Right now we don't the answer to that question.

BAIER: OK, it's time. It's Friday. That means -- I just want you to hear the ball, because it kind of signals the casino. Candidate Casino, you have $100 in chips. We have a Democratic primary field. How are you going to break up your $100? You have to spend $100. Hugo?

GURDON: It's $55 on Kamala Harris. She checks more boxes than anybody else and that is with the left is all about these days, checking the boxes. She's a female, she's black, she's attractive, and she's a new generation. And $40 for Elizabeth Warren. She is actually the best candidate as she has stolen all the credentials from Bernie Sanders. She has policies, even though they are awful. I only put $5 on Joe Biden. I think he is running on empty. Even though he's in the lead, I think he is going to overhauled by the time Iowa comes around.

BAIER: That's interesting. A.B., $100.

STODDARD: Mine is opposite. I have $45 on Biden, $35 on Harris, $15 on Warren. I can't get into the other players, maybe later. And in honor of the late and beloved Charles Krauthammer, $5 on wine, women, and song.

BAIER: That's fantastic. Matthew?

CONTINETTI: As you can see, I'm playing it safe. I'm spreading my bets all over the place. Most of my chips on Biden, $35.

BAIER: Do you ever win in a casino?

CONTINETTI: No, I'm horrible at this.


BAIER: I can see that. I can see that.

CONTINETTI: But Bret, my lucky day is on its way because I have my $5 chip on Michelle Obama. And when she comes in at the last minute and surprises us all, I will make big bank.

BAIER: That's pretty good. We will see. There's obviously a lot of candidates. Two debates next week. We'll follow those.

OK, winner and loser, winner first. Matthew?

CONTINETTI: My winner of the week is hip-hop artist ASAP Rocky for becoming the center of this dispute between the USA and Sweden. He was detained and then finally charged with assault. His real accomplishment, though, is getting me to pay attention to the world of hip-hop.


BAIER: OK, loser?

CONTINETTI: My loser is Bill de Blasio for running a vanity campaign for president while disorder in New York city rises, including these very disturbing attacks on police officers. De Blasio needs to get out of the presidential race and return to New York City.

BAIER: Winner and loser?

STODDARD: My winner is Christian Larsen of Idaho. He is a nine-year-old boy with autism whose mom Lindsay was discussing on Facebook her nerves about only one person RSVPing to his birthday. When the high school football team at Napa High School found out about it, they came and celebrated his birthday with him. And this picture is so darling I'm about to start crying.

My loser is big tech. This has been building for a long time, but if you look at the combination of Warren's efforts to break it up, Senator Hawley's transparency legislation, the DOJ and state attorneys general looking at antitrust actions. The FTC decision broke along party lines, but most of this is very nonpartisan. They waited too late to give something. They have no political safe harbor anymore.

GURDON: My winner is President Trump because Robert Mueller's bumbling performance ripped away credibility that he had given to the investigation, or the Russia hoax. And my loser, Nancy Pelosi. The testimony left the Democrats thinking that they had actually won something. It meant that the impeachment fires will flare and flare again even though she is trying to dampen them down. I don't think there is any hope of those going away now before the election.

BAIER: All right, panel, you are winners. We made it through in time.

When we come back, "Notable Quotables."


BAIER: Finally tonight, it is Friday. It may feel like two weeks, but it is only one week. This is "Notable Quotables."


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I knew the type of person that he was, and he had no respect for women.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER, D-N.Y., SENATE MINORITY LEADER: The heroes who rushed to the towers 18 years ago will no longer have to worry about compensation for their families when they're gone.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The United States is going to payback for what it buys, and it's going to payback what it borrows.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When American lives are at risk, the United States will defend itself wherever that risk takes place.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We'll be renouncing the post of governor.

OCASIO-CORTEZ: We are here. They sent me back to Queens.

REP. RASHIDA TLAIB, D-MICH.: I'm not going nowhere! Not until I impeach this president.


TRUMP: That's why we're going to have a tremendous victory in 2020.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm begging the American people to pay attention.

KELLYANNE CONWAY, COUNSELOR TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: They want to drag him before Congress and have him read out loud, Bob Mueller, book on tape, courtesy of the taxpayer.

TRUMP: I'm not going to be watching probably. Maybe I will see a little bit of it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At any time with the investigation, was your investigation curtailed or stopped or hindered?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The only new thing I learned today that even when Doug Collins says he's going to speak slower, that he can't.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But when it came to obstruction, you threw a bunch of stuff up on the wall to see what would stick.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sorry about this. Can't really move. Ow, ow.

TRUMP: So you have a little straw. But what about the plates, the wrappers, and everything else that are much bigger, and they're made of the same material?


BAIER: It really does. That was one week. Wow.

Thanks for inviting us into your home tonight. That is it for the “Special Report,” fair, balanced, and unafraid. This weekend Chris Wallace will interview acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney. You want to check your local listings for air time.

"The Story" hosted by Martha MacCallum starts right now.

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