THE CASE FOR IMPEACHMENT

MetroFocus hosts Rafael Pi Roman and Jack Ford provide their analysis of yesterday’s first round of public hearings in the impeachment inquiry. They’ll also discuss what to expect from the second set of hearings, which are scheduled to take place tomorrow.

Aired on November 14, 2019.

TRANSCRIPT

> IN THIS IMPEACHMENT HEARING TODAY WHERE WE IMPEACH PRESIDENTS FOR TREASON OR BRIBERY OR OTHER HIGH CRIMES WHERE IS THE IMPEACHABLE OFFENSE IN THAT CALL?

ARE EITHER OF YOU HERE TODAY TO ASSERT THERE WAS AN IMPEACHABLE OFFENSE IN THIS CALL?

SHOUT IT OUT.

ANYONE?

MR. RATCLIFFE IF I COULD RESPOND, LET ME REITERATE.

I HAVE ONLY ONE MINUTE LEFT.

I KNOW --

I HAVE GOT 30 --

YOU ASKED THE WITNESS.

I WITHDRAW THE QUESTION.

I AM NOT HERE TO TAKE ONE SIDE OR ANOTHER.

THAT'S YOUR DECISION.

LET ME ASK YOU --

THE GENERAL WILL SUSPEND.

A MEMBER OF MY STAFF COULD HEAR PRESIDENT TRUMP ON THE PHONE ASKING AMBASSADOR SOUNDLAND ABOUT THE INVESTIGATIONS.

THE AMBASSADOR TOLD PRESIDENT TRUMP THE UKRAINIANS WERE READY TO MOVE FORWARD.

FOLLOWING THE CALL WITH PRESIDENT TRUMP THE MEMBER OF MY STAFF ASKED AMBASSADOR WHAT HE THOUGHT ABOUT UKRAINE.

THE AMBASSADOR SAID THE CH PRESIDENT TRUMP CARES MORE ABOUT THE INVESTIGATIONS OF BIDEN.

GOOD EVENING, AND WELCOME TO 'METROFOCUS,' I'M RAFAEL PI ROW MAN.

LAWMAKERS WILL BE BACK AT IT TOMORROW AS THE FORMER U.S.

AMBASSADOR TO THE UKRAINE TESTIFIES IN WASHINGTON.

THE FIRST DAY OF OPEN HEARINGS FEATURED PLENTY OF THEE AT RICKS AS MEMBERS OF THE HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE HEARD FROM TAYLOR THE AMERICAN DIPLOMAT IN THE UKRAINE AND GEORGE KEPT ANOTHER AMERICAN DIPLOMAT FROM THE STATE DEPARTMENT.

WHAT DID WE LEARN?

HOW IS THIS ALL LIKELY TO PLAY OUT?

JOINING US NOW WITH INSIGHT AND ANALYSIS THE IMPEACHMENT PROCESS IS JACK FORD.

JACK WHO IS A FORMER PROSECUTOR COVERED EVERY DAY OF THE:IMPEACHMENT PROCEEDINGS.

JACK, WELCOME TO 'METROFOCUS.'

YOU AND I HAVE THESE CONVERSATIONS ALL THE TIME OFF CAMERA.

IT IS NICE TO HAVE THEM ON CAMERA ONCE IN A WHILE.

.

SO OF THE CONVERSATIONS MAYBE NOT.

LET'S START WITH THE BASICS AS IF THIS WAS THE FIRST DAY OF ONE OF YOUR CLASSES.

WHERE DOES THE CONCEPT OF IMPEACHMENT COME FROM?

HOW DID THE FRAMERS INTEND FOR IT TO BE USED?

YOU HAVE TO REMEMBER THAT SO MUCH OF THE CREATION OF OUR DEMOCRACY OF OUR REPUBLIC IS BASED UPON WHAT WE DIDN'T LIKE ABOUT GREAT BRITAIN.

ONE OF THE THINGS WAS THAT THE FOUNDERS FOCUS ON, THE FRAMERS OF CONSTITUTION, WE ARE GOING TO HAVE A CHIEF EXECUTIVE HERE.

HOW MUCH POWER IS THAT PERSON GOING TO HAVE OR NOT HAVE.

PEOPLE WANTED A MONARCHY AND OTHERS WHO WANTED JUST A FIGUREHEAD.

THEY COMPROMISED AS SO MUCH OF THE CONSTITUTION DID.

BUT THE FRAMERS DID INCLUDE A NOTION OF IMPEACHMENT.

THEY WERE CONCERNED, WHAT HAPPENS IF WE HAVE A CHIEF EXECUTIVE, A PRESIDENT WHO ESSENTIALLY GOES ROGUE?

AS A CONSEQUENCE THEY SAID WE ARE GOING TO BUILD IN A MECHME MECHANISM HERE, THE IMPEACHMENT PROCESS AND THEY ALSO SAID IT SHOULD BE RIRLY IF EVER USED.

IT IS AN EXTRAORDINARY PROCESS.

THEY MADE IT CLEAR IT SHOULD NOT BE A REPLACEMENT FOR AN ELECTION BUT IT SHOULD BE THE MANNER OF THE PUBLIC DEAL WITH SOMEONE NOT RULING IN THE WAY THAT IT IS ANTICIPATED.

THEY SAID LET'S HAVE IT HERE, HOPEFULLY WE NEVER HAVE TO USE IT BUT IT NEEDS TO BE THERE JUST IN CASE.

IT IS VERY DIFFERENT AS WE DISCUSSED EARLY THAN A CRIMINAL OR CIVIL LEGAL PROCEEDING, RYE?

THAT'S THE CRITICAL THING PEOPLE NEED REALIZE.

IT IS NOT A CRIMINAL PROCEEDING.

YOU HEAR DUE PROCESS, WHAT TYPE OF EVIDENCE, HEARSAY, DIRECT, CIRCUMSTANTIAL.

THE REALITY IS THIS IS NOT A LEGAL PROCESS.

IT MIGHT HAVE THE TRAPPINGS OF A LEGAL PROCESS IF IT GETS TO THE STAGE OF A TRIAL IN THE SENATE.

BUT THE RULES ARE CREATED BY THE CONGRESS ITSELF.

SO HER NOT GOVERNED BY THE FEDERAL RULES OF EVIDENCE.

FOR THOSE OF US WHO REMEMBER BOTH THE CLINTON IMPEACHMENT AND THE NIXON IMPEACHMENT PROCESS.

YOU AND I ARE OLD ENOUGH TO REMEMBER BOTH OF THOSE.

UNFORTUNATELY, TRUE.

THIS ONE LOOKS QUITE DIFFERENT.

YES.

WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENCES?

DO THEY MATTER.

I THINK THE PROCESS HAS BEEN DIFFERENT SO FAR.

AGAIN, JUST BECAUSE IT IS DIFFERENT DOESN'T MEAN -- I AM NOT TAKING A SIDE BUT YOU HAVE TO UNDERSTAND BECAUSE IT MIGHT BE DIFFERENT DOESN'T MEAN THAT IT IS NOT INEFFECTIVE OR NOT APPROPRIATE.

IF YOU REMEMBER, WITH PRESIDENT NIXON, THIS ALL CAME FROM A CRIMINAL EVENT, A BURGLARY, A BREAK-IN.

THEN IT UNFOLDED AND EVENTUALLY THE CHARGES THAT WOULD HAVE BEEN FILED AGAINST PRESIDENT NIXON IF HE DIDN'T RESIGN WOULD HAVE HAD TO DO WITH OBSTRUCTION OF JUSTICE AND CRIMINAL EVEN.

IF YOU REMEMBER WITH PRESIDENT CLINTON'S IMPEACHMENT.

IT ALL CAME FROM THE STARR REPORT, THE STARR INVESTIGATION THAT STARTED WITH WHITEWATER AND MOVEDAN TO SO MANY DIFFERENT THINGS.

THAT'S RIGHT YOU.

DIDN'T HAVE THESE PRELIMINARY HEARINGS USUALLY DONE BY THE HOUSE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE THAT YOU SAW WITH PRESIDENT NIXON.

ESSENTIALLY CONGRESS TOOK THAT REPORT AND SAID WE WILL USE THAT NOW TO DECIDE HOW FAR WE ARE GOING TO GO.

AND THEY ENDED UP GETTING TWO CHARGES COMING OUT OF CONGRESS AND THAT WERE TRIED BY THE SENATE.

HERE YOU HAVE SORT OF A MIX OF THOSE THINGS.

YOU HAVE INVESTIGATIONS THAT HAD BEGUN.

NOT THE HOUSE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE.

THEY WILL ESSENTIALLY GET WHATEVER INFORMATION IS GENERATED FROM THIS OTHER COMMITTEE THAT'S DOING THE HEARING.

AND THEN THEY WILL MAKE A DETERMINATION AS TO WHETHER OR NOT THE FIRST QUESTION IS SHOULD THE PRESIDENT, PRESIDENT TRUMP, BE IMPEACHED.

PEOPLE SOMETIMES CONFUSE THE NOTION OF IMPEACHED WITH CONVICTION.

IMPEACHMENT IS LIKE AN INDICTMENT.

CONGRESS IS -- AGAIN MAKING PARALLELS, ALMOST LIKE A GRAND JURY, THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES.

IF THEY DECIDE YES THERE IS SOME BASIS TO CHARGE PRESIDENT TRUMP WITH SOMETHING, IT THEN GETS HANDED OFF TO THE SENATE AND THE SENATE COULD CONDUCT THE TRIAL.

WHAT ARE THE CRIMES, OR THE OFFENSES THAT HOUSE DEMOCRATS ARE CHARGING THE PRESIDENT WITH?

WHAT DO THEY BELIEVE HE DID THAT MERITS IMPEACHMENT?

THAT'S SUCH A GREAT QUESTION BECAUSE IT IS FAIRLY COMPLEX.

THE INSTITUTION TALKS ABOUT THE GROUNDS FOR IMPEACHMENT BEING TREASON, STRAIGHTFORWARD, YOU KNOW WHAT THAT IS, BRIBERY, AND THEN THEY THROW IN OTHER HIGH CRIMES AND MISDEMEANORS.

THERE IS A BIG DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A HIGH CRIME AND A MISDEMEANOR.

IT IS CONFUSING.

BAD STUFF AND NOT SO BAD STUFF.

THE FAMOUS QUOTE CAME FROM THEN CONGRESSMAN GERALD FORD.

THIS HAD TO DO WITH THE IMPEACHMENT OF PRESIDENT NIXON.

AND HE WAS ASKED, WELL, WHAT SORT OF OFFENSES CAN CONGRESS LOOK AT?

AND HIS ANSWER WAS, WHATEVER CONGRESS AT THAT MOMENT THINKS IS A PROBLEM, THINKS COULD FALL WITHIN THAT CATEGORY IS WHAT IT WILL BE.

AGAIN IT GOES BACK TO WHAT WE SAID BEFORE.

IT IS A POLITICAL PROCESS, IT IS NOT A LEGAL PROCESS.

THEY ARE LOOKING A THE POSSIBILITIES.

THESE ARE POSSIBILITIES AT THIS POINT OF AN ABUSE OF POWER, IN A THE ARGUMENT IS USING PRESIDENTIAL POWER FOR HIS OWN PERSONAL POLITICAL BENEFIT.

YEAH.

THEY ARE LOOKING A THE POSSIBILITY OF EVEN SOMETHING SUCH AS EXTORTION.

REMEMBER, EXTORTION IS I AM LEANING ON YOU TO GET SOMETHING BACK AND LEGALLY, IT DOESN'T HAVE TO GO THROUGH.

YOU DON'T HAVE TO GIVE IT TO ME FOR IT TO BE EXTORTION.

YOU CAN HEAR THE LANGUAGE CHANGE FROM QUID PRO QUO TO EXTORTION AND BRIBERY.

THAT'S NOT A COINCIDENCE.

YOU HAVE AN ARRAY OF POSSIBILITIES, IT WOULD DEPEND IF THEY EVER GET THERE AS TO WHAT THE HOUSE THINKS, IF THEY THINK THIS IS INAPPROPRIATE AND THEY WILL MOVE FORWARD WITH IT IF THEY GET THERE.

WHAT DO YOU THINK THE DEMOCRATS WERE ABLE TO BUTTRESS THEIR ARGUMENTS THEIR CHARGES YESTERDAY?

WHAT DEGREE WERE THE REPUBLICANS ABLE TO UNDERMINE THEM?

IT IS INTERESTING WOULD YOU SAY IT GOES BACK TO THIS IS A POLITICAL PROCESS.

IN THIS INDICATE AND AGE WE ARE HYPER POLITICIZED HYPER PARTISANSHIP.

YOU HAVE TO UNDERSTAND A LOT OF THIS IS POLITICAL THEATER.

I DON'T WANT TO DIMINISH WHAT HAPPENED BUT TRIALS IN SOME WAYS ARE THEATER.

I USED TO TEACH LAW STUNTS HOW TO TRY CASES AND I WOULD SAY THINK OF IT AS A PRODUCTION.

YOU ARE THE STAR, YOU ARE BRING YOUR CAST IN TO THE WITNESS STAND.

THAT'S WHAT WE ARE SEEING HERE.

IT IS POLITIC THEATER.

DOES NOT MEAN IT IS NOT SIGNIFICANT.

IT IS EXTRAORDINARILY SIGNIFICANT FOR BOTH SIDES.

I THINK WHAT YOU GOT IS THE FIRST DAY OF THEATER.

YEAH.

THERE ARE MANY MORE DAYS TO COME.

AS YOU KNOW, SOMETIMES IN A THEATRICAL PRODUCTION YOU LIKE THE FIRST ACT AND DON'T LIKE THE SECOND ACT AND VICE VERSA.

YOU ARE GETTING SOME PEOPLE -- DEMOCRATS ARE SAYING IT WAS GOOD.

REPUBLICANS, IT WAS TERRIBLE.

THERE HAVE BEEN A LOT OF DISCUSSIONS SINCE YESTERDAY ABOUT THE DEMOCRATS' DECISION TO START THE HEARINGS WITH THESE TWO DIPLOMATS WHO ADMITTED THAT THEY HAVE NEVER MET THE PRESIDENT, AND WHO ACKNOWLEDGED THAT WHAT THEY KNOW IS LARGELY FROM WHAT THEY HEARD.

WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT HAVING STARTED WITH THOSE TWO?

I THINK IF I AM PUTTING THIS LINEUP TOGETHER FOR THE DEMOCRATS I AM SAYING, THESE TWO MEN HAVE INTEGRITY.

IT IS HARD TO CHALLENGE THEIR INTEGRITY.

I THINK THE FACT THAT, REMEMBER, THEY SAID WE ARE NOT OFFERING OUR OPINIONS AS TO WHETHER PRESIDENT TRUMP SHOULD BE IMPEACHED THAT'S NOT OUR JOB.

WE ARE HERE BECAUSE WE HAVE BEEN SUBPOENAED AND WE ARE TELLING YOU WHAT WE KNOW ABOUT THIS.

FROM THAT PERSPECTIVE I THINK THEY WERE GOOD WITNESSES TO START WITH.

I AM SURE SOME WOULD SAY LET'S GO WITH THE HEAVY HITTERS THE ONE THAT WE HEARD ABOUT WHO APPARENTLY SAYS HE OVERHEARD A CONVERSATION BUT THE THOUGHT MAY BE LETS USE THAT AS OUR CLEANUP.

USING BASEBALL AM GEES.

LET'S TALK ABOUT THE WHFLER.

HE GOT A LOT OF PRESS.

IT WAS HIS COMPLAINT THAT STARTED THIS WHOLE THING.

CHAIRMAN SCHIFF SAYS HE WILL NOT CALL HIM AS A WITNESS AND HE WILL NOT ALLOW THE REPUBLICANS TO CALL HIM AS A WITNESS.

WHY?

I THINK THAT'S AN INTERESTING AND VERY COMPLEX DECISION.

YOU HAVE GOT START OFF WITH THE UNDERSTANDING THAT THE WHISTLE-BLOWER, BY FEDERAL STATUTES -- IT WAS A DIPLOMAT STATUTE, REPUBLICANS AND DEMOCRATS JOINED TOGETHER SAYING IT IS IMPORTANT THAT WE CREATE A MECHANISM HERE BUT WE ALSO PROTECT THE PEOPLE SO THIS IS A REAL MECHANISM AND PEOPLE WILL BE WILLING TO COME FORWARD IF THEY HAVE SEEN SOMETHING WRONG.

ON THE ONE SIDE THE DEMOCRATS ARE SAYING IT WOULD DESTROY THAT NOTION OF PROTECTING HIM.

THE DEMOCRATS ARE ALSO ARGUING, LOOK, THE WHISTLE-BLOWER IS NOT THAT IMPORTANT ANYMORE.

BECAUSE THE WHISTLE-BLOWER STARTED THE PROCESS BUT IT GOT OUT US TO WITNESSES WHO NOW KNOW THING INTO RIGHT.

BUT I THINK FROM THE REPUBLICAN SIDE OF THINGS THERE IS A SYMBOLISM HERE.

THEY ARE SAYING LOOK THIS STARTED THE WHOLE PROCESS, WE SHOULD BE ALLOWED TO ASK QUESTIONS OF THE PERSON WHO STARTED THE WHOLE PROCESS.

IT IS EVEN MORE THAN THAT FOR THE REPUBLICANS BECAUSE AS MOST PEOPLE WHO HAVE BEEN FOLLOWING THIS ALREADY HAVE A SENSE OF WHO -- ACCORDING TO PEOPLE WHO KNOW, IT'S KNOWN WHO HE IS, EVEN HIS NAME IS KNOWN.

AND APPARENTLY HE'S -- WELL, HIS BACKGROUND WOULD INDICATE THAT MAYBE HE IS PREJUDICED.

COMMENTS THAT HIS LAWYER MADE WERE CLEARLY SAYING I AM FOR ONE SIDE HERE.

RIGHT.

GIVE THAT, THEY WANT TO, YOU KNOW, PUT HIM IN PUBLIC TO SHOW HIS POLITICAL LEANINGS.

FAIR?

YOU UNDERSTAND WHY THEY WANT TO DO THAT.

AGAIN, IT IS THEATER.

POLITICAL THEATER.

IF I AM ON THE REPUBLICAN SIDE THE ARGUMENT IS LET'S SHOW THAT THE PERSON WHO GOT THIS STARTED IS ALSO HYPER PARTISAN.

THAT'S THEIR ARGUMENT.

TO SHOW THAT THIS THING FROM THE BEGINNING HAS BEEN BIASED.

NOW ARE PEOPLE GOING TO ACCEPT THAT?

SOME WILL, SOME WON'T.

BUT THEY ARE SAYING AT LEAST WE SHOULD HAVE HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY OF HAVING HIM IN HERE AND ASKING SOME QUESTIONS.

30 SECONDS.

THE SENATE ULTIMATELY MAKES THE DECISION WHETHER THEY ARE GOING THE OUST THE PRESIDENT OR NOT.

FOR THAT TO HAPPEN, 20 REPUBLICANS HAVE TO VOTE TO CONVICT THE PRESIDENT.

IS THAT LIKELY TO HAPPEN?

DO YOU BELIEVE WITH MOST PEOPLE THAT THE HOUSE WILL INFACT IMPEACH THE PRESIDENT?

MY RESPONSE WILL BE IN RESPONSE TO THE LAST PART THAT YOU HAVE HEARD ENOUGH OF DEMOCRATIC CONCERN ABOUT THIS THAT IT WOULD NOT SURPRISE ME THAT IT COMES OUT OF THE HOUSE SAYING YES WE HAVE COME UP WITH CHARGES HERE.

HE IS IMPEACHED.

WHEN YOU GET TO THE SENATE TRIAL, WHEN YOU LOOK AT THE MATH AND THE RESPONSES YOU HAVE HEARD EVEN IF YOU GET PEOPLE ON THE REPUBLICAN SIDE TO SAY -- WE HAVEN'T HAD MANY OF THEM YET TO SAY THIS WAS INAPPROPRIATE.

IT IS NOT A CONVERSATION THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES SHOULD BE HAVING, MY SENSE IS THEY WILL SAY BUT WE DON'T THINK IT IS ENOUGH TO REMOVE HIM FROM PROCESS.

THE MATH WOULD SUGGEST HERE THAT YOU ARE PROBABLY NOT GOING THE SEE REMOVAL COMING OUT OF THIS.

BUT THERE ARE STILL DAYS OF HEARINGS YET TO COME.

WHO KNOWS?

JACK, THANK SO MUCH.

WE WILL PROBABLY BE TALKING ABOUT THIS AGAIN.

I SUSPECT WE WILL.

OUGHT IN THE HOLLOWAY WE WILL PROBABLY BE TALKING ABOUT IT.

ALWAYS GOOD TALKING YOU.

Funders

MetroFocus is made possible by James and Merryl Tisch, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, Bernard and Irene Schwartz, Rosalind P. Walter, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Janet Prindle Seidler, Judy and Josh Weston and the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation.

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