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What Rep. Steve Cohen thinks about the evidence against Trump

The House Judiciary Committee would hold hearings on impeachment after the House Intelligence Committee concludes theirs. Do those Democrats feel they have enough evidence to move forward with articles of impeachment for President Trump? Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn., is a member of that committee, and he joins Judy Woodruff to discuss what Ambassador Gordon Sondland said.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    And now we get a Democratic view from Capitol Hill.

    And that is a member of the House Judiciary Committee. They would hold hearings on impeachment if the Intelligence Committee were to end its work and pass it on to Judiciary.

    Congressman Steve Cohen of Tennessee joins me now.

    So, Congressman Cohen, you probably just heard Kellyanne Conway say these hearings have gone on too long, and they have basically proved nothing about the president.

  • Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn.:

    Well, she speaks what the administration wants the Republicans to speak and their line. It's like throwing the spaghetti on the wall and hoping something sticks.

    The two major anti-corruption parts of the Constitution are the Emoluments Clause — and the president has never sent one single contract, reward, payment that he's got from a foreign power to Congress to ask for permission to get it — and the other is impeachment, which is high crimes, misdemeanors, bribery, and treason.

    And they think that we shouldn't have an impeachment proceeding, probably at all, but, certainly, they say, in the last year before a presidential election.

    It's just corruption — Trump could write a book on corruption. It could be a — have everything in it. And as far as him not dealing with foreign countries that are corrupt, Afghanistan gets foreign aid, very corrupt.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Well, let's talk about today's — what came out of today's hearing, among other things.

    We heard Kellyanne Conway say there was — at no point was the ambassador, Sondland, the ambassador to the European Union, able to say that President Trump himself said that aid to Ukraine or a meeting with Ukraine is going to be — or with the leader of Ukraine — is going to be conditioned on whether they do an investigation into Joe Biden or the Democrats.

  • Rep. Steve Cohen:

    Well, apparently, he didn't.

    He said he kind of got it from Giuliani. But he made it clear that two and two is four and that all of the parts are there, and that anybody that could add or anybody that can see and anybody that can understand what is going on would know it. He said they were all in on it.

    It goes from Pompeo, Pence, Mulvaney, the president, Giuliani, all of them. And he was told to work with Giuliani, and that's what they were looking at. And they were conditioning the meeting on those investigations, and obviously, they were conditioning the military aid as well.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    But if they don't have a direct link with the president, can they move ahead with impeachment? Is that — does that constitute in any way an impeachable offense?

  • Rep. Steve Cohen:

    You don't have to see somebody commit a murder if there's enough evidence, and you get the fingerprints off the rifle, and if you get the person was there.

    Nobody saw Oswald shoot President Kennedy, but we know where he was. We know who owned the gun. We know whose fingerprints were on the gun.

    You don't have to necessarily see it. Most crimes don't have necessarily witnesses that can put you there. And this is a situation where there's enough people that can do it.

    And they're stopping the firsthand evidence that say Trump that did it from — people from testifying. Trump is not allowing evidence, papers from State Department or from the White House to be given, pursuant to subpoena to the committee, and not allowing Mulvaney, the actors that were there, Pompeo and others, to testify.

    And he's encouraging everybody else not to testify. And that's an impeachable article we saw in the impeachment of Nixon, is obstruction of Congress and the lack of cooperation.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Well, that was a pretty striking comparison you just made with the assassination of President Kennedy.

    Did you mean to make something so stark, so stark a comparison?

  • Rep. Steve Cohen:

    Well, I was just thinking of a crime where there wasn't a witness to it.

    But I think all of us — most all of us agree and believe that Lee Harvey Oswald assassinated President Kennedy. But nobody was up on the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository and witnessed him do it.

    You don't necessarily have to have an eyewitness to a crime.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    What else do Democrats need to do, in your mind, to move ahead with what they believe is a case against this president?

  • Rep. Steve Cohen:

    Excuse me?

  • Judy Woodruff:

    What else do you believe Democrats on the Intelligence Committee, which is now running these impeachment — this impeachment inquiry, what else do you believe they need to prove?

    Because, as you and I have been discussing, still, at this point, there is not a solid connection between the president and what happened with regard to Ukraine.

  • Rep. Steve Cohen:

    Well, I think Giuliani's a solid connection.

    I think that there's enough information when he claims, which has been testified to, that he was thrilled that they were going to do the investigation. And I think Sondland understands Trump when he says he didn't care about Ukraine, he cared about the investigation, and how it would affect his election.

    This is what makes the man tick. And I think that there's — you can have circumstantial evidence. You can have hearsay evidence. You don't have to have direct evidence. You don't have to have an eyewitness.

    And there are other things as well. But I think that it would be nice to have Mulvaney and/or Pompeo or some of the people who were in on the phone call to testify.

    But the White House is stopping them from doing that.

    There is obviously a reason why they're stopping them from doing it, because they don't want the truth to be known, and they don't want them to have to go in there and either tell the truth or perjure themselves.

    And it's…

  • Judy Woodruff:


  • Rep. Steve Cohen:

    Yes, ma'am.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    No, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to interrupt. I wanted you to finish your thought.

    But, Congressman, what do you hear from your constituents in Tennessee? We just heard Kellyanne Conway say the newest polls are showing the American people are not being captivated, captivated by these hearings. She said, in fact, they're showing that a number of people are turning away and they're not — they — in other words, that the case for an impeachment inquiry has been dropping, rather than rising.

  • Rep. Steve Cohen:

    Well, I don't know that, and I haven't seen the polls. And the Trump administration is notoriously famous for lying about polls.

    But people in my district — I'm from Memphis. Memphis isn't Tennessee. Memphis is Memphis. And Memphis people that I hear from on a regular base want Trump to be removed from office and to be impeached. They have thought that for a long time, which my city is predominantly African-American. My district is predominantly African-American.

    And the things he said about people coming from "expletive hole" countries, the way he's treated people, the few people he has of African-American origin in his administration, it — there's been an antipathy there.

    But I think African-American people just have a scienter that is appropriate, and they know what this man is about.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Steve Cohen, representative from the state of Tennessee and a member of the House Judiciary Committee, thank you very much.

    And our live impeachment hearing coverage continues tomorrow morning starting at 9:00 Eastern. You should check your local TV listings.

    And, also, you can find us streaming online on our Facebook, on Twitter, and on YouTube pages.

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