This is a rush transcript from "Your World," September 24, 2019. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
CHARLES PAYNE, ANCHOR: Fast-moving developments this hour on Capitol Hill, where Speaker Nancy Pelosi is huddled with House Democrats behind closed doors this hour.
She's expected to announce a formal impeachment inquiry at 5:00 p.m. Eastern.
At the same time, President Trump says he will release the full unredacted transcript of his call with the Ukrainian president tomorrow. He says he's done nothing wrong.
Stocks rocked on each and every move, the Dow moving down for the session.
Welcome, everyone. I'm Charles Payne, in for Neil Cavuto, and this is "Your World," and we are all over all of it with Mike Emanuel on Capitol Hill, where it's all going down, and John Roberts on the president not backing down.
We begin with Mike.
MIKE EMANUEL, SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Charles, good afternoon to you.
House Democrats are now about to meet behind closed doors, where we expect House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to lay out why she is now in favor of moving forward with impeachment proceedings against President Trump following that phone call with the Ukrainian president.
We have seen a steady momentum building in terms of House Democrats coming forward in the last several days, saying that they want to go forward with at least an impeachment inquiry to look into what is known about that conversation the president had with the Ukrainian president, and whether it basically merits going forward with an impeachment vote on the House floor.
And so we expect a statement from the speaker later this afternoon in about an hour or so after that meeting with her fellow Democrats. She's been meeting with some of her top lieutenants, committee chairs in the House of Representatives, to talk about going forward.
On the Senate side of the Capitol, Mitch McConnell said it's premature to talk about getting an impeachment vote handed over from the House or what the Senate would do with it. McConnell says they're going to handle this situation in a bipartisan fashion in the Senate Intelligence Committee.
Now, of course, there's plenty of politics going into all this, as you have Democrats crisscrossing the early primary states running for president. And, of course, the entire House of Representatives is on the ballot next year.
So, already, you're seeing that in some of the moderate swing districts, Republicans are saying, aha, that Democrats are going forward with the left base on this one, but, bottom line, plenty of politics. And we expect an announcement on that impeachment inquiry in less than an hour -- Charles.
PAYNE: Mike, thank you very much.
Now to John Roberts on how the president is responding to all of this -- John.
JOHN ROBERTS, CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Charles, the president has been defiant about impeachment talk all the way along and defiant against day as he was meeting with the Iraqi leader.
There's a technical problem with the playback of that video, but we should have it for you shortly, but the president essentially saying the -- that it's going to be a positive for him if Democrats decide to move forward with this, and that they will lose the election if they go ahead and move toward impeachment.
The president has said for months now, how do you impeach a president who has been responsible, at least partly, for the best economy in the history of the country?
Also, there's a -- when we talk about this idea of they don't know exactly what they're moving ahead on impeachment about right now -- we do not know what the content of that complaint from the whistle-blower to the intelligence community inspector general was all about.
And we also do not know exactly what happened in the phone call between President Trump and the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky, back on July the 25th.
But we will know as of tomorrow, because the president is going to release it, tweeting a short time ago: "I'm currently at the United Nations representing our country and have authorized the release tomorrow of the complete, fully declassified and unredacted transcript of my phone conversation with Presidents Zelensky. And you will see it was a very friendly and totally appropriate call. No pressure and, unlike Joe Biden and his son, no quid pro quo. This is nothing more than a continuation one of the greatest and most destructive witch-hunt of all time."
In a bilateral meeting with the U.K. prime minister, Boris Johnson, the president saying much the same. Listen here.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT: There was never any quid pro quo. The letter was beautiful. It was a perfect letter. It was unlike Biden, who, by the way, what he said was a horror.
And ask how his son made millions of dollars from Ukraine, made millions of dollars from China, even though he had no expertise whatsoever. OK?
So what he did was a real problem. With us, there was no pressure applied, no nothing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTS: The president referencing a couple of times there a letter. That was a misspeak. He actually meant a telephone call.
Then there's the issue of money for Ukraine that was withheld back in mid- July, some $391 million. In a phone call to President Trump on August the 11th, which just happens to be a day before that whistle-blower filed that complaint, Senator Rob Portman of Ohio phoned the president to urge him to release about $250 million in military aid to the Ukraine.
The president agreed to do it. Here's what Portman said about that a short time ago with you, Charles.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. ROB PORTMAN, R-OH: So my advocacy on behalf of getting this military aid there was so the Ukrainians can defend themselves.
And, by the way, this money would be spent in the United States. It's on U.S. equipment, but it would be provided to the Ukrainians. That was the reason that I was given as to why the funds were not being released.
And I agree with that, that we needed to be doing more to pressure our European friends and NATO in particular to help Ukraine.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTS: Congressional sources who are familiar with that phone call say that President Trump did express to Rob Portman concern that the United States appeared to be going it alone on Ukraine and that our European allies were not pulling their weight, and at no time did he ever mention an investigation of Joe Biden or Hunter Biden and their involvement in Ukraine -- Charles.
PAYNE: John, thank you very much.
So if Democrats move forward with impeachment, could it backfire?
Let's ask FOX News political analyst Gianno Caldwell, Democratic strategist Johanna Maska, and Washington Examiner's Kelly Jane Torrance.
Johanna, let me start with you.
Nancy Pelosi has pushed back and pushed back and pushed back. Maybe it's a tidal wave now. But it's so amazing that she might be willing to go through with this with so very little to -- we don't know a lot about this whistle-blower situation.
JOHANNA MASKA, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: I think she sees this as procedure, though, and she made that point.
When we look at the history of impeachment, it sets a precedent, right? Right now, we have a whistle-blower report that the White House still hasn't handed over to Congress, even though Congress has been asking for it.
And you want a whistle-blower to be able to go through the proper government channels to give any information of wrongdoing through those channels, instead of going outside of those channels.
And so she's saying, we have to file these -- file -- or she will say at 5:00 what her next step is to get the procedure in place to get the whistle-blower...
PAYNE: So, you're saying she is -- is not officially impeachment inquiry beginning of 5:00, or this is the first step toward it?
MASKA: I mean, she's going to speak at 5:00. So I'm not going to speak for her.
PAYNE: Well, let me just say, Intel Committee Chairman Adam Schiff is saying that they're trying to get the whistle-blower to come before the panel, Kelly Jane, in a closed session this week.
I mean, that would seem perhaps the way to go about this, investigate the allegations, before saying, hey, we're going full-blown impeachment.
KELLY JANE TORRANCE, THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER: Well, exactly, Charles.
And I have to say, by the way, I was in Ukraine myself in July. I was an observer officially for the parliamentary elections in which the president's party won by a landslide. And that is why Trump, by the way, called Volodymyr Zelensky in the first place was to congratulate him on that.
I feel like I have to mention that, because some of the context here.
TORRANCE: I think a lot of people think that the president just called Zelensky out of the blue to ask him to investigate the Bidens. That's not quite the case.
But, again, a lot of things have been lost in the shuffle here.
GIANNO CALDWELL, POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, a lot.
TORRANCE: And I have to wonder what the Democrats are doing. My understanding is this op-ed that was in The Washington Post overnight by a bunch of freshman Democrats was really the thing that pushed Nancy Pelosi over the edge to decide it was time, despite her own reluctance.
And I think she was very smart to be reluctant on this.
PAYNE: Well, speaking of smart, maybe it was a smart move, the countermove here, President Trump, just about an hour or so ago, saying, hey, you know what?
CALDWELL: Absolutely, releasing it.
PAYNE: We're going to cut to the chase. We're going to release the entire thing, unredacted, declassified.
This really makes the stakes even extraordinarily higher for Nancy Pelosi what she's going to say at the top of the next hour.
CALDWELL: And I got to tell you, I'm sure for those at home looking at this, they're seeing a circus with all speculation and no facts.
As you mentioned earlier, there should be an investigation. We should learn what happened before there's a lineup of people saying let's impeach the president.
Truthfully speaking, most Americans are against impeachment, more than half. Over -- it's about 40 percent that supports it, a lot of folks on the left that supports it. Independents truly don't.
So what Democrats are really doing, unless there's something hard-hitting in this, is setting themselves up for an election failure. Man, they think this is their strategy. They don't have anything else.
PAYNE: Johanna, it's got to be so hard-hitting that you would get a Republican-controlled Senate to go through with it, because, other than that, it really is just something for public consumption.
It wouldn't go all the way through.
MASKA: Yes, but taking a step back, just looking at a whistle-blower and what the procedures are for that whistle-blower, as an American, you want them to go through the government procedure.
I have been at the White House when we have had people do the opposite, and it doesn't redound to our benefit. It actually hurts us.
And so I think the Democrats...
CALDWELL: What is the opposite? What do you mean?
MASKA: The opposite is when we have leaks that go to WikiLeaks or we have people who have intelligence and they leak it to press without context.
You want it to go through the proper channels, because you want the hearing.
CALDWELL: And a lot of times, they did hit the Obama administration.
CALDWELL: You worked for a scandal-plagued administration.
MASKA: That is -- we had no scandals, thank you.
CALDWELL: Fast and Furious, Benghazi.
MASKA: They were made up.
MASKA: The scandal was the pantsuit.
PAYNE: Nancy Pelosi and Hoyer just released a release announcing floor consideration of a resolution regarding whistle-blower complaint.
On Wednesday, the House will vote on a resolution making it clear Congress' disapproval of the administration, of their efforts to block the release of the complaint and the need to protect the whistle-blower.
OK, so we're going to hear the entire transcript. We're going to see the transcript, at least, tomorrow, unredacted.
I mean, how does this change the calculus of this announce -- of this press release and the announcement that we have?
TORRANCE: Yes, I think Donald Trump was very smart. He'd been resisting putting this transcript out. And I don't blame him.
I mean, we do want to know if he was -- did something inappropriate on that call.
TORRANCE: But at the same time, if they talked about Russia, for example, do you want that made public? Ukraine needs a lot of help with Russia? Perhaps they talked about that.
PAYNE: Right. Right.
TORRANCE: But, yes, I mean, Nancy Pelosi really should have the Democratic candidate in 2020 make the case to the American people, rather than...
PAYNE: By the way, Joe Biden spoke just not long ago. And he didn't bring up a demand.
Earlier, the speculation was he would demand impeachment. He didn't go that far just moments ago.
Thank you all very much.
Now ,it's the speech that has got everyone on edge. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is set to make remarks on impeachment proceedings against President Trump.
How are Republicans responding? We're going to talk to a key GOP lawmaker coming up.
PAYNE: You're looking live at Capitol Hill.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi getting ready to speak about impeachment proceedings against President Trump. When she talks, we will bring them to you live.
Now, all of this coming with former Vice President and 2020 presidential hopeful Joe Biden pushing lawmakers on impeachment today.
To Fox's Mark Meredith in Delaware with the latest -- Mark.
MARK MEREDITH, CORRESPONDENT: Charles, former Vice President Joe Biden accused President Trump of abusing his power.
He also said that, if the Trump administration doesn't comply with congressional demands to turn over documents as part of its oversight authority, then lawmakers would have no choice and would have to begin the impeachment process.
Here's what the former vice president had to say just moments ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOSEPH BIDEN, D-PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I can take the political attacks. They will come and they will go, and, in time, they will soon be forgotten.
But if we allow a president to get away with shredding the United States Constitution, that will last forever.
Using its full constitutional authority, Congress, in my view, should demand the information it has a legal right to receive.
If the Congress does not -- if the president does not comply with such a request from the Congress, if he continues to obstruct Congress and flout the law, Donald Trump will leave Congress, in my view, no choice but to initiate impeachment.
That would be a tragedy, but a tragedy of his own making.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MEREDITH: That was the former vice president just moments ago here in Delaware.
It was a very formal setup in this ballroom, the former vice president reading off of a teleprompter, delivered remarks, but he didn't take any questions.
There was a room full of media there, many also curious to know more about the former vice president's son Hunter Biden and his relationship with Ukraine, a business in Ukraine.
But Biden deciding not to take any questions, only delivering those remarks, and also saying that it's up to the president to decide how things will move forward here, whether or not he complies with Congress' demand, including turning over the whistle-blower complaint, or whether or not lawmakers would have no choice but to go down the road of impeachment -- Charles.
PAYNE: All right, thank you very much.
And I want to let the audience know we just saw House Speaker Nancy Pelosi arrive. So, at the top of "The Five" probably is when we will hear from her.
Right now, though, I want to go to The Wall Street Journal's James Freeman.
And, James, I do want to -- we do have some more breaking developments here. Apparently, the Department of Justice lawyers, as well as lawyers at the White House, have been advising the White House officials to release the transcripts of President Trump's July phone call with the Ukrainian president since last week.
Now, this from Fox News, according to sources who are familiar with the conversations.
It's going to be released tomorrow.
JAMES FREEMAN, CONTRIBUTOR: Yes, I think -- and when we find out, based on the facts so far, I think a lot of Americans are going to conclude that somebody should have been raising this issue of Joe Biden and his son's business in Ukraine.
And I think the takeaway for a lot of people -- it's interesting. Our colleague there was saying there were a lot of questions for Mr. Biden about the Ukraine business. He didn't answer any of them. He said in the press conference it was going to be forgotten.
But I think people are going to be left with this question of, how was his son able to maintain a lucrative job with a Ukrainian company while, as vice president, Mr. Biden is pressuring the government to get rid of a prosecutor investigating the same company?
PAYNE: Some defenders have said, well, it's not unusual for foreign companies to have -- to invite prominent Americans to join their boards and things like that, although you could argue, was Hunter Biden really the prominent American in this case?
FREEMAN: Well, also, this question of what are the rules here vs there?
I was talking to Alex Frishberg of Frishberg & Partners. This is a firm, a law firm in Ukraine. And he pointed out that, in Ukraine, they don't have the rules we have. In other words, a U.S. company, if it wanted to go overseas and hire a vice president's son in some other country, their legal department would say, hold on a lot of risk here, whereas, in Ukraine, you didn't have any of those kind of restrictions on this Ukrainian energy company hiring a Biden for 50 grand a month.
And that's what is raising a lot of these questions. What was the value that Hunter Biden was adding for $50,000 a month?
PAYNE: Hunter Biden brought to this company.
And then, of course, there's the video that most, I think, of our viewers may have seen with president -- Vice President Biden at the Council on Foreign Relations, and reenacting the scene of the pressure that he put on the Ukraine back then.
FREEMAN: That's right.
There's no question he was demanding a specific action in his capacity as vice president. He was successful. The government fired the prosecutor who was looking into the company that was paying Mr. Biden's son 50 grand a month. And that was true, until earlier this year.
So I think this is going to be a hard issue to explain. And what Mr. Biden has done to this point is, he has said, I don't talk about it with my family members, I don't talk about their outside business.
That is really not acceptable from a standpoint of appropriate management of conflicts of interest. He should -- he should be telling his family members, knock it off if you're doing business that's based on my official position.
PAYNE: James, are you surprised, though, that he did stop short of demanding impeachment, saying, hey, we should get these documents, we should be able to investigate that, and if the White House doesn't cooperate, then we could go down the impeachment route, particularly ahead of Nancy Pelosi's big blockbuster comments that are just coming moments from now?
FREEMAN: Well, I think, on that part, Mr. Biden has a sensible position, because, to this point, there was a lot of language there about impeachment and trashing the Constitution.
But you ask, well, what exactly is the law that's violated by this phone call? And I don't see it.
PAYNE: James, thank you very much.
I want to go to the House Judiciary Committee member Arizona Republican Debbie Lesko.
Congresswoman, thank you for joining us.
REP. DEBBIE LESKO, R-ARIZ.: Thank you for having me.
PAYNE: So, help us out.
Fast-moving developments down in Washington, D.C. Where are we now? And what's your perspective on all of it?
LESKO: Well, I think, if the Democrats move forward with an official impeachment inquiry, it's going to help Republicans, because I go out and about, and people want Congress to work together, Republicans and Democrats, to get big issues done, like securing our border, lowering health care costs.
All this impeachment stuff is driving the common person crazy. And I serve on Rules Committee. So, at 5:00 today, we will be talking about this resolution that the Democrats want to push forward on Ukraine.
And then, of course, if Nancy Pelosi announces at 5:00 that we're going into impeachment, I say, hey, Republicans are going to win next time around.
PAYNE: How do you feel about the idea that Adam Schiff is putting forward of the whistle-blower meeting with Congress behind closed doors?
LESKO: Well, the thing is, I find everything that Adam Schiff says a little bit hard to believe, because, for two years, he was claiming and said that he had evidence that President Trump colluded with Russia.
And then the Mueller report comes out, and it was totally false. So it's a little hard for me to believe everything he says.
Of course, we want to get to the bottom of everything. I believe in transparency. But this is so partisan. I serve on the Judiciary Committee too. And every single day, we have multiple hearings per week.
It's all about bashing President Trump, his administration. There was another one that happened today, earlier this morning. I mean, this -- it's just -- it's -- it's getting really irritating, to tell you the truth.
We're not getting anything done. The Democrats, all they care about is influencing the 2020 election. And it's so obvious.
PAYNE: Nancy Pelosi has really bristled at that, at the notion that all they do is investigate, rather than legislate.
President Trump making note of that in a tweet earlier today. We have got some major issues on the table. Virtually everyone in this country wants to see USMCA passed. It's both of our largest trading partners. Farmers want it. Unions want it. Small business operators want it.
Things like that, low-hanging fruit that benefit all Americans, obviously, going down this impeachment path, they all take a backseat, maybe never to see the light of day.
LESKO: You're absolutely right.
I mean, this is just what I have been saying all along. And I said it again in Judiciary Committee this morning. I said, you guys, the Democrats, are so obsessed about taking out Donald Trump that you can't deal with the normal issues that Americans want us to do.
There are so many things that we could work together on. But it's so difficult when all they do, every day, especially in Judiciary Committee, is bash the president of the United States, his administration.
I mean, last week, they were bashing law enforcement. They brought up Corey Lewandowski. Today, it was all against the so-called Muslim travel ban, which isn't a Muslim travel ban. It's all in a continued effort to undermine President Trump to come up with anything to try to impeach him on.
I mean, for two years, they said that President Trump had colluded with Russia. And then it came out, no, that didn't happen.
LESKO: So then they had a switch to obstruction of justice. They brought in Robert Mueller himself. Well, that flopped for them.
And so they are trying anything and everything. They don't even have the full story on this Ukrainian whistle-blower stuff, and they're still calling for impeachment. It's just amazing to me.
PAYNE: Yes, I think there is impeachment fatigue, and certainly putting the cart before the horse.
You would have thought.
We will see what happens, though. A lot is going to happen in the next 24 hours.
Really appreciate your taking the time out. Thank you, Congresswoman.
LESKO: Thank you.
PAYNE: And now to Fox's Chad Pergram, who's on Capitol Hill with the very latest.
Chad, so what's happening now?
CHAD PERGRAM, SENIOR CAPITOL HILL PRODUCER: Well, there was a lengthy meeting that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had with relevant committee chairs to walk them through the next steps here.
She met with the Judiciary Committee Chairman, Jerry Nadler, the Intelligence Committee chairman, Adam Schiff, Richard Neal, who's the chair of Ways and Means, also Eliot Engel from New York, Democrat who represents the Bronx. So he's the chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee -- walking them through what was next.
I talked to Adam Schiff as he came out. And he said that there is going to be an effort to get the whistle-blower, whoever he or she is, before his committee in a closed session this week.
Now, what we have known since Sunday afternoon, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced that the acting director of national intelligence will appear before the Intelligence Committee in an open session on Thursday.
And both the House and Senate Intelligence Committees are trying to find out as much about this as they can.
Now, here's the other news flash. As we speak right now, about two floors below me, in the basement of the Capitol, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is walking the Democratic Caucus through every jot and tittle of this.
She is explaining what the next steps are for the committees and this -- quote -- "formalization" of the impeachment process, whatever form that might take.
Shortly after 5:00 -- and I say shortly after 5:00 because usually the Democratic Caucus meetings, they usually don't happen on time. The timing around this place is not exactly Swiss.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will speak. And I'm told by an aide that she will talk for about two or three minutes. It's going to be a pretty short statement.
And then Republicans at some point, the Republican leadership, Kevin McCarthy, Steve Scalise, others, they will come out and talk just a few feet away from where I am in response to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Now, here's one of the key things. We keep talking about the political ramifications here. And I want to read you a statement here from Tom Emmer. He is a Republican congressman from Minnesota. He chairs what's known here on Capitol Hill as the NRCC. That's the National Republican Congressional Committee.
It's the national organization charged with getting Republicans elected to the House. And from his perspective -- and this is what Congresswoman Lesko was referring to -- this is a field day for Republicans.
He says -- quote -- "For the past three years, the socialist Democrats have been obsessed with impeaching the president and backfilling in the reason after the fact. They have become so radicalized by their hatred of President Trump that they're willing to plunge the nation into a constitutional crisis. Democrats have lost their sanity."
That's Tom Emmer, Republican from Minnesota, charged with getting Republicans elected to the House of Representatives.
Now, this is the unanswered question. The reason that Democrats were unwilling to dip their toe into the impeachment water is, they want all of these districts with moderate Democrats who are resistant to Democrats, pro-Trump districts. They won in the suburbs and some of these rural areas.
It's going to be very touchy politics, Charles, if Democrats are going to retain the House and if the public perceives that this is a bridge too far.
And that's why Tom Emmer and the NRCC, that's why they're revving up the engines here. Make no mistake. Yes, this is about intelligence. This is about the alleged transgressions of the president of the United States. But, Charles, this comes down to politics. And that's why the political sides are so engaged on this so early.
PAYNE: Chad, how does the announcement that President Trump will be releasing the unredacted, full, now declassified transcripts of that call, how does that change the political calculus for Nancy Pelosi?
PERGRAM: Well, again if he puts it out there, and it's a nothing burger, that's a problem.
But keep in mind that Democrats have a lot of other things that they can look at. They have talked about his tax returns. They have talked about Don McGahn and other administration officials being unwilling to present information to the various committees investigating here.
They still have a lot that they can look at. But Nancy Pelosi -- and I said this on the air last hour -- this is one of the most important points, the fact that Nancy Pelosi viewed what was happening with the whistle- blower was a bridge too far, far for her.
She was the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee after 9/11. She served on the Intelligence Committee for years. And as the speaker of the House, she gets special access to intelligence information.
She, the speaker, the majority leader, minority leader, they are briefed on a regular basis on these intelligence matters. So, number one, perhaps there was something that she was privy to that she said, this crosses the Rubicon there.
Number two, maybe it was just an issue where she says, this is -- they're going too far, we need to step in.
And she was probably getting pressure from some of her Democrats. Keep in mind, there was that op-ed that was written by these freshman Democrats with national security backgrounds in The Washington Post today.
She takes the temperature, gauges where they are, and says, OK, maybe we need to do this.
Now, just because you're formalizing or opening an impeachment inquiry doesn't mean that you're going to impeach the president.
I have a saying up here on Capitol Hill that I have used for years, and this is probably the most important things to know. It's about the math. It's about the math. It's about the math.
Now, while we have had tens of Democrats come out in the past 24 hours saying they're either for impeachment or an impeachment inquiry, they are not to 218 votes yet to impeach the president of the United States.
There is no better vote-counter in Washington, probably since the days of Sam Rayburn, than Nancy Pelosi. She knows where her caucus is. So she was getting the sense that she needed to maybe up the ante in the impeachment game.
But actually impeaching the president of the United States, the votes aren't there for that just yet, Charles.
PAYNE: Chad, Vice President Joe Biden also made a statement today, and he stopped short of demanding impeachment, suggesting what -- do the investigation. If the White House doesn't cooperate, then they will go for impeachment.
PERGRAM: Right. And...
PAYNE: How does that influence Nancy Pelosi?
PERGRAM: Well, I think that's where Nancy Pelosi is saying she's setting the table here. She's giving them the opportunity to provide documents and see if there's any there, there, if there's smoke and fire.
Then she would have the wherewithal to turn to her caucus or the committees that are doing the investigations and say, yes, there is certainly something here.
That's the issue. Keep in mind that, when the founders crafted the Constitution, they always viewed it as a political debate, a political design that they were setting up in the Constitution of the United States. That's why they wanted to have a political outcome.
If you were to impeach a president or a Cabinet official or a Supreme Court justice, it would go before a political body, the United States Senate. And if you convicted the person or didn't convict the person, then there would be electoral consequences for that individual.
That's -- that's part of the key here. So this is a political effort. I'm reminded by the effort with Nixon. It was pretty clear that there were the votes finally to impeach him in 1974. There's a reason why he resigned in August of 1974.
Some of the Republicans you might talk to in late 1998, when it came down to impeaching President Clinton, they were asked, well, why are you doing this? And they said, because we can.
And that was pretty much the word that was uttered around the Capitol. They clearly had the votes on Bill Clinton, whether or not those transgressions led to -- quote -- "high crimes and misdemeanors."
That's the bar that's established in the Constitution. It is a political calculation.
PAYNE: Speaking of calculations, it feels like the moderate Democrat -- the Democrat moderates have been something of the silent majority thus far, with the AOCs sort of getting all the oxygen in the room.
You talked about Nancy Pelosi being two floors below, putting together the steps. So we will see exactly what happens there.
Chad, thank you very, very much.
PERGRAM: Thank you.
PAYNE: And that's going to be it for now.
I want to hand this off right now to Bret Baier. We're going to have continuing coverage of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's remarks on impeachment proceedings against President Trump.
BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: Big day. Thanks, Charles.
This is a Fox News Alert. I'm Bret Baier at Fox News world headquarters in New York.
And we are awaiting a statement from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi live on Capitol Hill following a meeting with her Democratic colleagues about whether to go forward with impeachment proceedings against President Trump.
Pelosi has resisted such calls in recent months. But the new controversy over President Trump's phone call with his Ukrainian counterpart about a political opponent and his suspension of military aid have reignited a firestorm of calls for the president's removal.
We are getting reporting that, in fact, the speaker will call for a formal impeachment inquiry.
President Trump has spent the day, meantime, at the United Nations, where he addressed the General Assembly this morning.
You're looking live here on Capitol Hill, where the speaker will be talking in front of those microphones. And we will take that at the top of the hour.
The president here in New York.
Chief White House correspondent John Roberts is traveling with the president here, spent the day at the U.N.
We thought we'd be talking foreign policy, John. And here we are about impeachment.
And what's striking is that this is going forward without knowing all that is in the call or the inquiry.
ROBERTS: The Democrats are about to leap off a very big cliff here, if Nancy Pelosi announces this afternoon the formation of a select committee to investigate impeachment, because they do not know what was in the phone call.
And they will know sometime tomorrow, because President Trump tweeted in the 2:00 hour that he is going to release a complete, unredacted version of a transcript of that call, which probably means that he got the permission of the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky, to do that as well.
I would think, as a courtesy, he would have to reach out to the Zelensky and say, do you mind if I do this? So, Zelensky may have given his blessing to it.
Secondly, they have no idea what is in this complaint to the intelligence community inspector general. But we do know that the person who filed complaint doesn't have firsthand knowledge of what was in that call.
So it may well be that, at some point tomorrow, everyone in America who reads this transcript will have exactly the same amount of information as this whistle-blower did. We are hearing some reports that maybe there was some other things that the whistle-blower was concerned about as well.
But the Democrats are about to take a high dive, I think, into a very shallow pool, one that may turn out to be deep, but, at the moment, we don't know how deep.
BAIER: We're following all of it, as Nancy Pelosi gets ready to speak to reporters up on Capitol Hill.
"FOX News Sunday" host Chris Wallace is joining us. He is just finishing up an interview with the Iranian President, Hassan Rouhani.
Chris, first of all, your reaction to this? And give us a little tease about the interview.
CHRIS WALLACE, ANCHOR: Well, it is just an extraordinary development.
And what's so interesting is that the investigation of alleged Russian collusion, alleged obstruction of justice went on for, what, the better part of two years. And Nancy Pelosi was able to put the brakes on, and to prevent any movement by House Democrats for impeachment.
And then we have the Mueller testimony in July. She again -- as more and more members started calling for impeachment, she was able to slow it down, to control it.
But it really does seem as, if in the last week, this has become a stampede, an avalanche.
And it seems that Nancy Pelosi has made a political calculation, whatever the risks are of moving towards not impeachment, but an impeachment inquiry, an investigation, a proceeding, a hearing, that the political risks of not doing that are even greater.
I certainly agree it seems odd that they would be making this decision today, before they find out, as they will tomorrow, what is in the transcript of the conversation between President Trump and the then president-elect of Ukraine.
We also -- we know, on Thursday, that the head of -- the director of national intelligence, the inspector general, are going to talk before Congress. So even if they were to wait, what, 48 hours, they would know a lot more in making this decision than they would today.
But it does seem, as people have said, Nancy Pelosi, if she knows one thing, it's how to count. She is a very good politician. She has a very keen sense of her Democratic Caucus. And she seems to have made a calculation.
And, again, we should point out, this isn't impeachment. It's an impeachment inquiry, a proceeding, that, at this point, she's got to at least go that far, or she may lose control of her caucus.
BAIER: Yes. And it's the moderates who really make the difference of whether they were going forward. And it seemed to be shifting as of this morning, and maybe late last night, on some of those calculations.
Want to toss to what I think is a promo sound bite from this interview with the Iranian president.
And set it up for us, would you please, Chris?
We have tonight -- and it's going to run on "Special Report," on your show -- an exclusive interview with President Rouhani. Of course, today, President Trump really went after him in his speech to the U.N., talked about bloodlust, talked about a fanatical quest, talked about the Iranian leadership seeking power and riches, at the expense of the Iranian people.
The president, President Rouhani, is going to be speaking to the U.N. tomorrow. But he gave us an exclusive interview today, some 20 minutes.
And here was the very first question I asked him. And you will be -- well, we will talk on the other side, because you will see just how completely different the views of the Americans and of the Iranians are on some very basic issues.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: Mr. President, you heard President Trump's speech today. He said no nation should support Iran's -- and I quote -- "bloodlust and fanatical quest for nuclear weapons."
HASSAN ROUHANI, IRANIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): I am amazed at the interpretations of Mr. Trump vis-a-vis terrorism.
The country that is present and flying over the airspace of and bombarding the soil of the country of Syria, without permission of the government, is the United States of America.
And, today, America, unfortunately, is the supporter of terrorism in our region. And wherever America has gone, terrorism has expanded in that -- in their wake.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: Well, you heard correctly. That was the statement by the Iranian president.
For all of the statements by President Trump, Secretary of State Pompeo that Iran is the number one state sponsor of terrorism in the world, here, you had President Rouhani firing back and saying, in fact, it's the United States that is spreading terror throughout the world.
And what struck me in the 20 minutes that we spoke, Bret, is that these two countries and these two leaders, Iran and the United States, President Trump, President Rouhani, just see the world completely differently.
When I talked to President Rouhani about their moves to now breach the Iran nuclear deal, to start adding to enrichment stockpiles, using advanced centrifuges, he laid it all on the United States and the decision of the United States to break from the deal.
And he even talked, yes, about the United States dropping the first and only nuclear bombs on civilian territory back in Japan at the end of World War II.
So these are two countries that see things completely differently. No hint, no sign at all about a rapprochement between the two.
BAIER: All right, Chris, look forward to that.
We will air it in its entirety, as you mentioned, on "Special Report" 6:00 p.m. Eastern time.
That was going to be driving our news coverage really today. It may still, big news. But we're waiting on the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, to make this announcement. We expect it to be a formal impeachment inquiry moving forward.
Let's get more reaction from Martha MacCallum, the host of "The Story," my co-anchor in political election coverage.
MARTHA MACCALLUM, ANCHOR: Good to see you, Bret.
BAIER: Your thoughts on this day, as we get ready to see this unfold?
MACCALLUM: Well, one of the things that strikes me is that President Trump made a decision today to try to get out in front of some of this process.
Once that impeachment ball started rolling and it became pretty clear that Nancy Pelosi was going to make this announcement at 5:00, he jumped in front of that and said, we're going to release the entire transcript, which he had wanted to do.
He said this morning, when he spoke to reporters, let's get it out there and see what people think.
So that will go before we hear from the inspector general and also the testimony that's expected from the DNI as well. So he wants the American people to get a look at this thing, see how they feel about it, sort of unvarnished, before this process moves forward.
And it is really very surprising, given that time frame, that Democrats are making this announcement tonight, when they could have had the benefit of, A, the transcript and, B, some of this testimony just over the course of the next few days.
And when you look at the support for impeachment in the country -- and the latest numbers that we have are prior to this Ukraine news that has come out -- but during the Mueller moment, not that long ago, 41 percent were in favor of moving forward with impeachment hearings.
You look at that -- you compare that to President Trump's recent approval numbers, latest number from NBC, 45 percent. So the American gauge of patience for this, or tolerance of it and acceptance of it, is going to be one of the big factors here.
BAIER: John, one of the things that is internal debate about this call was that whether you put it out.
The reporting is that the attorney general and the White House counsel may have been pushing to put it -- put it down. But the secretary of state was saying, hey, you don't want foreign leaders saying, I don't want every call to be out there.
ROBERTS: There's that precedent.
There's the slippery slope that, if you give them the transcript of one, it's like the give the mouse a cookie book, right?
ROBERTS: If you give them one transcript, well, they're going to want the transcripts of the Putin calls. And then you're going to have Republicans saying, we want the transcript of the Obama calls.
And then there's the idea of redaction, but the president has said that it won't be redacted.
We don't yet have the sound from President Trump as he was meeting with the Iraqi president. But I do have a pretty accurate quote from the print pool, when he was asked about this, asked about Nancy Pelosi moving ahead to do something on impeachment.
The president said: "Well, I haven't heard this. Look, it's just a continuation of the witch-hunt. It's the worst witch-hunt in political history. We have the strongest economy we have ever had. We have the best unemployment numbers we have ever had."
This is sort of boilerplate stuff that he says.
"African-American, Asian-American, Hispanic American, lowest in the country, the lowest in history. Best numbers we have ever had. Country doing phenomenally well. We have rebuilt our military."
Goes on to say some other things, then said: "The country is doing the best it's ever done. I just heard that she'd like to impeach."
He cites a Rasmussen poll on his popularity, which shows 53 percent, the president suggesting it's actually 10 percent higher than that, and says the Democrats will lose the election -- here's a direct quote -- "If she does that, they all say that's a positive for me in the election. You could also say, who needs it? It's bad for the country."
So we're hoping -- the pool is back at the Trump Hotel. They had some technical difficulties with this. We hope that they will be able to give us that tape soon. But that's basically what he said.
BAIER: Yes. As soon as we get it, we will put it on the air here.
And the other thing that was interesting, that Voice of America, VOA, interviewing the Ukrainian president. And, shockingly, I'm looking at the transcript. And maybe it's different than what I'm seeing. They didn't ask specifically about the call.
ROBERTS: No, I mean, the only thing -- they didn't say, did you -- did the president pressure you about Joe Biden? They said, what do you expect from the United States?
And he said -- Zelensky said: "What do we expect? We expect support. We don't just need help. We are already a strong state, the greatest, biggest country in Europe. We're very smart people," et cetera, et cetera.
"We just want the U.S. to always support Ukraine."
Nothing in there about the phone call with the president, nothing in there about, was there a quid pro quo? Nothing in there about, are you trying to -- was the president trying to get them to investigate Joe and Hunter Biden?
BAIER: We will see if something else comes out with the Ukrainian leader before...
ROBERTS: Whoever was interviewing didn't ask those questions.
BAIER: Yes, before the U.N. wraps up here.
Martha, the moderates, I mentioned, shifting. There was a tectonic shift over the past 24 hours.
MACCALLUM: Which is interesting.
And one of the people who was behind that shift is Congresswoman Spanberger, a former CIA agent.
Again, you just have to ask the question, why would you not want to say, let's just put the brakes on this, let's get a look at what's in this transcript?
Now, the president has already confirmed essentially that they discussed that issue on the call. So perhaps, for them, that was enough, the president's acknowledgement of that.
But the president seems to feel strongly that, when people get the sense of the tenor of the conversation -- and, yes, it would have been helpful to have Zelensky confirm what he suggested earlier, which was that he didn't feel any pressure, in that interview that perhaps people's interpretation of it will change.
The president has said clearly that he felt he did nothing wrong. It's interesting also that, shortly before that -- and this was right after the Mueller decision was made -- came down, and right after he said in an interview, well, yes, I would consider taking some assistance from a foreign government.
And it appears that he doesn't see anything wrong with that at all, and stands by that move even now.
BAIER: Let's get reaction from senior political analyst Brit Hume.
Good evening, Brit.
Your thoughts on this...
BRIT HUME, SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Hi, Bret.
BAIER: ... and this day, as we see it today?
HUME: Well, my first thought is that President Trump wouldn't release this transcript if it were not exculpatory, if it wouldn't help his case that he did nothing improper.
And, apparently, he's been urged by a number of those around him to do just that. So, project forward, if you can, just based on that assumption. Tomorrow rolls around and the transcript is out, and it doesn't appear to have much in it.
So then where is the state of play? It appears to me that that might well take some of the wind out of the sails of this whole effort by the House Democrats.
I mean, clearly, Nancy Pelosi is responding to the pressures from within her caucus, which she has been doing our best over time to kind of tamp down and keep a hand over.
But, obviously, the pressure has grown too great. And she feels it necessary now to move forward, and which she's doing in this sort of first step manner.
But I wonder. What will happen, of course, is that there will be some people complaining that the transcript is probably faked, although I'm not sure how many people believe that. And then there will be a call to release the whistle-blower report, which will probably happen one way or another in the fullness of time.
But given the fact that it was secondhand, and apparently based on the substance of the phone call...
BAIER: Brit, me interrupt you.
I see -- oh, hold on one second. I thought Nancy Pelosi was coming to the microphones.
HUME: Well, I was just going to say, given the fact that it was secondhand and based on the substance of the phone call, if the transcript of the phone call doesn't reveal anything very damning, you kind of wonder where this thing goes.
Here she comes.
BAIER: No, she moved on. Keep going.
HUME: OK. Yes, she did.
So, anyway, so that's -- my first thought is that, what happens tomorrow will give us a fresh perspective on this whole thing. The atmosphere could be completely -- now, it looks like it's moving like a freight train right now down the tracks toward first an impeachment inquiry and then perhaps something more.
But, after tomorrow, it'll be interesting to see if it looks the same. I have my doubts.
BAIER: All right.
Brit, we're looking at the floor of the Senate, there are not enough votes, should the House move forward with impeachment, in the Senate. Obviously, it's controlled by Republicans.
I want to play -- Joe Biden came out before once this all started snowballing today. The former vice president came out, said that he had an announcement to make and held a press avail, but really gave a speech.
Take a listen to a part of it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: If he continues to obstruct Congress and flout the law, Donald Trump will leave Congress, in my view, no choice but to initiate impeachment.
That would be a tragedy, but a tragedy of his own making.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BAIER: Your thoughts on how the vice president is reacting to this, dealing with it, considering it -- that it deals with him and his son as well?
HUME: Well, there is some peril for the Democrats and for former Vice President Biden in this, which is to say that his son, no doubt in part due to the fact that he was Biden's son, had these dealings in Ukraine and also in China.
And it is the case that, when Vice President Biden went over to Ukraine, and he had a package of U.S. aid guaranteed in his hip pocket that the Ukrainians had been awaiting, and he told them they were going to get it unless they fired a prosecutor who was at the time conducting an investigation which implicated the company for which Hunter Biden, Joe Biden's son, was working.
Now, all of that may have -- turns out that it was -- might have been on the up-and-up. But it doesn't look good. And, at a minimum, given the circumstances involving Hunter Biden and that company, Joe Biden probably shouldn't have been the messenger who delivered that particular message to Ukraine.
So that's all going to get drawn into this. There will be further people, more people looking into and examining Hunter Biden's business contacts while his father was vice president, all that.
So this does hold some peril for the Democrats and for their -- and for Vice President Biden. And one wonders why the Democrats are so eager to do that, in view of the fact that he, Biden, will be drawn into it, inevitably.
BAIER: Yes, Brit, I'm getting word from some people up on Capitol Hill that the speaker will ask some committee chairs and leadership to put together their arguments for impeachment and send it to Judiciary, and then Judiciary will decide whether it constitutes impeachment articles for the full House to hear.
Before being in the anchor chair, you covered the House, the Senate, Capitol Hill for a long time. You know the impeachment process from the Clinton years. It is a formal process, and it takes formal action to initiate.
HUME: It does.
It takes -- the House, actually, I believe, has to act to commence a formal impeachment proceeding. And there's a benefit to doing that to the investigators, which is that, once you get an impeachment process under way, it empowers the investigators then to have -- to be able to have access to information they might not otherwise be able to.
So there's some power in that the investigators will want to have. Now, the steps that you just -- you just cited sound to me like they may fall short of that, and we may be a couple of steps away.
Now, it's kind of hard for me to imagine, if you get the possibility of impeachment referred to Jerrold Nadler and the Judiciary Committee, that they won't -- that that won't be exactly what happens, but it may just -- it just may mean it's some time off now.
BAIER: OK, Brit, stand by, if you would.
Let's get the latest from Capitol Hill. Chief congressional correspondent Mike Emanuel joins us from there.
Good evening, Mike.
EMANUEL: Bret, we have been showing our viewers the Senate floor.
And there has been some action the Senate floor, a sense of the Senate resolution, nonbinding, but it was passed by unanimous consent, in other words, every United States senator on board with it, which says that this complaint that was received by the intelligence community's inspector general on August 12 should be transmitted immediately to the Intelligence Committee in the United States Senate.
It's worth noting that the Intelligence Committee on the Senate side of the Capitol has been very cooperative, working in bipartisan fashion on all these investigations over the past several years.
And so Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer basically wanted to put all Republicans on the record, the Republican majority, whether or not they wanted this report to be sent over to the intelligence community to be looked at in a bipartisan fashion.
It passed in a unanimous consent vote, not binding, not any teeth to it, but basically putting the entire United States Senate on the record saying that they would like to get a closer look at this whistle-blower complaint, which has basically led to so much attention and led to calls for impeachment on the House side of the Capitol, Bret.
So, here we are Capitol Hill. I have been talking to -- OK.
So, essentially, what we are looking at going forward is, we know that lawmakers have an eager to get their hands on this report from the intelligence inspector general, the whistle-blower complaint that was turned in August 12 about the president's communications with the Ukrainian president.
Some have suggested that it wasn't firsthand knowledge, that it was gained from secondhand knowledge from talking to other folks. But the lawmakers who handle intelligence matters, very sensitive matters -- and it's worth noting that the Senate Intelligence Committee has not been full of leaks and as partisan as the House side of the Capitol has been.
And so, within the last few minutes, we have had the Senate basically taking this action, unanimous consent to get that whistle-blower report here to Capitol Hill -- Bret.
BAIER: All right, Mike Emanuel live on the Hill -- Mike, thanks.
Again. We're waiting for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to arrive at those microphones you see there on Capitol Hill. She just walked by during Brit Hume's comments earlier. And we expect her to move forward with, as we mentioned, a formal impeachment inquiry.
Back with John Roberts and Martha MacCallum here.
Martha, one of the things that we are going to be watching is where these Democrats who just won in 2018 in districts that Donald Trump carried in 2016, where they will come down on this process. A lot of them have been hesitant or reticent to jump off this cliff.
And, I mean, those are exactly the people who are going to be -- why we look at some of these polls in terms of how tolerant people are about impeachment.
I think also about Senator Dick Durbin, who just last week, when the idea of impeaching Brett Kavanaugh came up, said, enough already, that we can't be the party of impeachment. We can't go after the president, then also after Brett Kavanaugh.
And since he said that, this new issue of Ukraine has come up. He may see this as much more serious and as valid grounds for impeachment moving forward.
But those members who are in these districts are going to perhaps have to take some very difficult votes. And that's why Nancy Pelosi has been so hesitant all through the Mueller period to move forward on this.
There's reports that President Trump has gone over to Trump Tower to his home there for a little bit of executive time, perhaps, to watch this moment as it unfolds moments from now.
And, also, the Senate has now approved that the whistle-blower complaint should be released.
So , I mean, this ball is moving forward, and it's moving forward fast. And those are considerations that those members are going to have to make some very tough decisions on in the future, it appears.
John, getting word that the cloakrooms basically have hot-lined, in other - - pushed forward a resolution calling for the transcripts from the whistle- blower referred to the Intelligence Committee. They're trying to basically throw cold water on this announcement 5:00 p.m.
Again, we have two things. We have the transcript of the call that the president has now authorized to release tomorrow. But you have the whistle-blower's complaint that has been held up by the Department of National Intelligence.
ROBERTS: Yes, we know from a statement that was released by the general counsel for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence why the complaint wasn't forwarded to Congress, because the complaint doesn't deal with somebody who is in the intelligence community, and, therefore, there is not the statutory authority for the ODNI to pass that on to Congress.
And we're told also that the complaint makes it very clear that the whistle-blower didn't have firsthand knowledge of what was said in that phone call between the president and Zelensky.
BAIER: And just think about that.
BAIER: We have dealt with a day-and-a-half of every kind of comment about this complaint, and this person didn't have firsthand knowledge, in other words, didn't hear it, didn't see the transcript.
ROBERTS: And there's another development in that as well.
A very good congressional source told me this afternoon that an attorney representing the whistle-blower has sent notification to the director of national intelligence to say that the whistle-blower -- whether it's a him or her, we do not know -- is taking the steps to appear before Congress in some way, shape or form.
I expect that that would probably be an interview behind closed doors with either the House or the Senate Select Committees on Intelligence, or maybe both of them. We do not know how far down that road this has gone right now, only to say that official notification has been given to the DNI that this whistle-blower plans to go before Congress.
BAIER: But the Democrats are now saying, OK, it's not the call. It's not the whistle-blower. It's what President Trump and Rudy Giuliani have said publicly over the last day-and-a-half that now has moved this ball forward.
And just one other point to what -- John's second point, which has been also misinterpreted by a lot of people. Even Nancy Pelosi at an event last night and that event today said that, because that seven-day period wasn't recognized, and that information turned over to Congress, that it shall be shared with Congress, that that, in and of itself, would constitute reason enough to start digging into this impeachment inquiry.
And yet the office of inspector general for any agency deals with people who work within that agency. So that is a different thing, which has not been acknowledged at all by so many of the people who've been talking about this.
ROBERTS: And the general counsel also in this statement that we received yesterday says that they consulted with the inspector general about this, and that the decision was made to not pass it on to Congress.
BAIER: Former assistant U.S. attorney Andrew McCarthy, a Fox News contributor, joins us now.
Andy, your thoughts on this as it's been developing? I know you have written about it in the past couple of days. Your thoughts on this, this afternoon?
ANDREW MCCARTHY, CONTRIBUTOR: Right.
I think this may be actually a pretty sophisticated way for Speaker Pelosi to, as you said, and I think Chris Wallace said before, put the brakes on this thing.
Having -- just having an impeachment inquiry is kind of like a prosecutor convening a grand jury. It doesn't require you to do anything. It doesn't require you actually to return charges or return an indictment, but it is the appearance of progress in an investigation.
Here, we have a situation where the Judiciary Committee, which would actually be the anchor of this kind of a process, the chairman, Jerry Nadler, has been telling everyone up until now that he's actually doing an impeachment inquiry.
And our complaint about that has been it's never been formally commissioned or formally voted. So now all that's happened is, they have -- they're going forward with it. It doesn't make them do anything.
BAIER: Andy, thank you.
You're looking live on Capitol Hill. This is a Fox News Alert. I'm Bret Baier in New York.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi getting ready to meet with reporters and talk about what is coming.
This is FOX News coverage of Speaker -- House -- House Speaker Nancy Pelosi making an announcement about how she plans to handle the growing calls for impeachment proceedings from her fellow Democrats.
"The Five" will be joining us shortly.
I'm Bret Baier in New York.
You're looking live on Capitol Hill, as this has moved forward today, a shifting situation, with moderate Democrats moving towards this impeachment inquiry, all over President Trump's phone call with the Ukrainian leader, a phone call in which it's alleged that he said that Joe Biden, the former vice president, should be investigated, and that he wanted the Ukrainians to do it.
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