Tamara Keith and Amy Walter on public impeachment hearings, Bloomberg’s possible 2020 bet

JUDY WOODRUFF: To set the stage for this first
week of public impeachment hearings and talk about the 2020 presidential race, I’m here
with Amy Walter of The Cook Political Report. She’s also the host of public radio’s “Politics
With Amy Walter.” And Tamara Keith of NPR, she also co-hosts
the “NPR Politics Podcast.” And before I turn to both of you — and welcome,
by the way, Politics Monday — a little bit of late-breaking news. And we were just talking about it with Yamiche
and Lisa. And that is the inquiry — or the filing by
the acting White House chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, who was wanting to join the lawsuit
by former White House special — National Security Adviser John Bolton, his deputy,
Charles Kupperman, who were questioning their being subpoenaed to appear before Congress. He’s now withdrawn that filing. So we can set that aside for the moment. But the drama continues in so many other pieces,
as both of you know. And, Amy, these hearings, public hearings,
starting in two days, how is this going to be different from hearings behind closed doors? (CROSSTALK) AMY WALTER, The Cook Political Report: Right,
other than the fact it’s out in public. JUDY WOODRUFF: On cameras. AMY WALTER: Right. Well, the theory row is that this could maybe
change people’s opinions about impeachment, which I’m very doubtful that is going to happen. If you go back and you look at what the public
hearings did during the Nixon impeachment era, they did move public opinion pretty steadily. When the summer of 1973 started and the impeachment
hearings were public, they were watched by almost everybody; 70 percent of Americans
said they watched those hearings live at some point. And the president, Nixon, his approval ratings
dropped significantly over that summer, dropped about 13 points. And interest and support for more investigation
into Watergate rose. Let’s fast-forward to now. People are much more polarized and partisan
even than they were back in the 1970s. People are getting their information from
so many different sources. There is not just four television stations. Obviously, people are going to go to the news
sources or the Internet or social media that appeals to them. And so I think what we’re going to see is
one hearing and a lot of different interpretations of that hearing by a lot of different sources. And we’re going to see them, I think, Americans,
still pretty well-settled into how they feel about this. The one group that I’m watching for are those
independent voters, who probably haven’t been paying that much attention as partisans have
to this process. Maybe they get moved a little bit. Right now, they are a little less supportive
of impeachment than supportive of it. Maybe this pushes that, but it’s going to
be very hard to do that. JUDY WOODRUFF: But, Tam, we may see witnesses
called by the Republicans. We’re waiting to see how that plays out, right? TAMARA KEITH, National Public Radio: We are
waiting to see how that plays out. They have put in a long wish list. And the best way to describe it is a wish
list that they have sent to the Democrats on the Intelligence Committee. The chairman, Adam Schiff, is the one who
gets to decide ultimately. He has the ultimate power to decide who gets
called. Now, this list the Republicans sent over includes
names like Hunter Biden and the anonymous whistle-blower, who they would like to have
publicly testify. Schiff has already made it clear that he has
no interest in either of those potential witnesses. But there are some other names on that list,
like Ambassador Volker, or Tim Morrison, who is a National Security Council aide — or
was. And both of them are people who have provided
closed-door depositions. In those depositions, there were some items
that Republicans took some solace in. Morrison, for instance, said that, although
he was concerned about the president’s call with Zelensky, he didn’t think that a law
had been broken. His concerns were more about U.S. and Ukrainian
relations and other things like that. So — but, in their testimony, if you read
it, there are also a lot of things that are damaging to the president and that further
corroborate this narrative that Democrats have built up around the call, that Democrats
have been able to sort of corroborate around the call. And so it seems possible, at least, that Democrats
would be willing to hear from those witnesses, because they are not slam-dunk great witnesses
for the president. JUDY WOODRUFF: That’s right. And you mentioned Hunter Biden and Joe Biden. We are going to talk about 2020 very quickly,
Amy, but is Joe Biden in the clear here? I mean, we don’t… (CROSSTALK) AMY WALTER: Well, certainly, Republicans do
not want to let him go in the clear. And they want to still make that case in the
House, which, as Tam pointed out, is not likely to happen. Where it could be an issue is, if impeachment
passes, it goes to the Senate, and it’s Republicans in charge in the Senate side, of course, and
they can call witnesses there during the trial. JUDY WOODRUFF: Right. TAMARA KEITH: And one other thing. In the sort of cross-examination and the questioning
that Republicans will do of these witnesses in this public hearing, in the private depositions,
they were asking about Hunter and Joe Biden. So you can expect them to do that in public
as well. JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, for whatever reasons,
a man named Mike Bloomberg has decided, maybe Joe Biden’s chances don’t look as good as
he thought a few months ago. He is now seriously exploring getting in. Amy, quickly to you first. Is this going to change the race, if he gets
in? AMY WALTER: If he gets in, maybe, but on the
margins. Look, there has been conventional wisdom among
— especially among Democrats inside the Beltway, elites and establishment that Joe Biden cannot
win the nomination and Elizabeth cannot win the race against Donald Trump. And so what is happening today is, this establishment,
elite group of people saying we have got to find a way to ensure that, if it is not Joe
Biden, if he collapses, because there is this assumption amongst this group that he is going
to collapse, that somebody has to be there as sort of the moderate standard-bearer. Elizabeth Warren’s positions, especially on
things like Medicare for all, are way too far to the left for the swing state voters. But is Michael Bloomberg the answer that people
are looking for? If you are Amy Klobuchar or Pete Buttigieg
or any of those other candidates in that lane… JUDY WOODRUFF: The other — in the moderate
lane. AMY WALTER: … you’re raising your hand and
saying, you know what, I think I can pick up that slack if Joe Biden is not around. JUDY WOODRUFF: And, meanwhile, Biden, of course,
is saying, I’m not week. Hey, I am go to win this thing. AMY WALTER: Right. TAMARA KEITH: Right. And he is still running for president. And — though it’s interesting, one of my
colleagues, Scott Detrow, spoke with of Biden’s allies, who said, well, you know, if Biden
isn’t in the race, then Michael Bloomberg would be a great option, which was slightly
off-message. (LAUGHTER) AMY WALTER: More than slightly. JUDY WOODRUFF: Slightly off-message. So, very quickly to Amy Klobuchar, who said,
we noticed yesterday, in an interview — she was asked about Pete Buttigieg, who has done
very well in the polls, with money. And she said, if the women on the stage: “My
fellow women senators, Harris, Warren and myself, do I think we would be standing on
that stage if we had the experience that he had? No, I don’t. Maybe we’re held to a different standard.” Are they? AMY WALTER: For sure, women are held to a
different standard. At the same time, I think it also shows the
degree to which Iowa has become the most important state, overwhelmingly so. If Pete Buttigieg gets a foothold by doing
really well in Iowa it puts Amy Klobuchar, Kamala Harris, those others out of the mix. JUDY WOODRUFF: Double standard? TAMARA KEITH: Certainly, she is stating a
fact of American politics. Women in politics tend not even to run for
higher office or to run for the Senate, until they are much older, because this has been
the standard. There is like a desire to have a great amount
of experience for female candidates. JUDY WOODRUFF: Speaking of these women, we
are going to see them and the guys on stage a week from this Wednesday. AMY WALTER: That’s right. TAMARA KEITH: Right. JUDY WOODRUFF: Tamara Keith, Amy Walter, thank
you both. AMY WALTER: You’re welcome. TAMARA KEITH: You’re welcome. JUDY WOODRUFF: And we want you to please join
us, in the meantime, for special live coverage of the first public impeachment hearings. We start on Wednesday at 10:00 a.m. Eastern time. And be sure to sign up for our newsletter,
which is dedicated to the topic. You can find the link to subscribe at PBS.org/NewsHour/Politics.

Maurice Vega

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