Joe Crowley’s Expectations for the Impeachment Hearings

The impeachment inquiry is an inevitably political process, despite the non-partisan credentials of the witnesses scheduled this week. Joe Crowley was chair of the House Democratic Caucus until he lost his primary to Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, but remains close to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. He joins the program in London to break down what we can expect politically from the coming hearings.

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CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR: But do you think that this process of public testimony now can be anything other than a political show?

JOE CROWLEY (D-NY), FORMER U.S. HOUSE REPRESENTATIVE: It has no indication but a political show so far for Republicans. They’re trying to divert attention. Anything to divert attention from the president, whether it’s putting emphasis on Giuliani or putting emphasis on the whistleblower or trying to discredit any of the witnesses or potential witnesses that will come before the Congress, and more importantly, come before the public now. These initial hearings were private. Now, we’re getting to the public stage. And that’s why they’re trying even more desperately to really destroy, in many cases, the character of many of the witnesses who actually have been working for the White House for years.

AMANPOUR: So, how do you expect this to go? How do you expect it to change or not, the current facts but also the perception of this process?

CROWLEY: Well, Speaker Pelosi, throughout my career, always like to use the — you know, quoting Lincoln and saying that really without being able to persuade the public, you really can’t change their opinion and that public sentiment is everything. With it, you can move mountains. Without it, you can’t do anything. So, that’s really where we’re heading towards, I think, the public testimony so that we can make — or they can make the case, I should say, for the American people as to why that person deserves to be impeached. The Republicans are going to try, in some way, to divert attention and to make this almost meaningless or would say misdemeanor, not even — it doesn’t rise to an impeachment offense. But I would suggest, if this doesn’t, what does? And it’s really the construct of what the president tried to do, whether or not they carried it out or not, it was the construct, I think, that has — that, in my defense, is a violation of the constitution.

AMANPOUR: So, I mean, you are still in Congress when, you know, a lot of this sort of came up over the — just a lot of the talk around the president, but whether it was before the Mueller report and all the rest of it. And you know, because you’re very close to Speaker Pelosi, that going down a formal route of impeachment was not her first choice or her first option or even something she wanted to do. She didn’t want to make some big political drama. She wanted to focus on the issues that are — that she feels are good for the party —

CROWLEY: Absolutely.

AMANPOUR: — and good for the country. How difficult was it, do you think, to make the decision to actually get to where we are now? And what do you think it’ll do for the party?

CROWLEY: I think she had sleepless nights over this, I believe. Back in 2006, when Democrats took control of the House of Representatives, after the invasion of Iraq, there was a lot of movement from the left, in particular, to bring proceedings against then President Bush. And Nancy Pelosi said repeatedly, we will not put the American people through that. She respects the electoral process. She thinks that elections have consequences. And then, ultimately — the ultimate way to rectify this is through that process.

About This Episode EXPAND

On Wednesday, the all-consuming political drama of impeachment goes public for the first time on Capitol Hill. John McLaughlin and Joe Crowley each give Christiane Amanpour their thoughts on the situation. Yair Golan joins the program to discuss violence and political confusion in Israel. Chess grandmaster Garry Kasparov sits down with Miles O’Brien to talk technology, Trump and Putin.