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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

Zakaria: Donald Trump, The Most Polarizing President; Feldman: "We're In A Genuine Crisis"; Zakaria: Democrats Are Being Politically Unwise. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired October 25, 2019 - 21:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[21:00:00]

JOHN BERMAN, CNN HOST: I don't do anything dishonest, he claims. He also told Dana what he was discussing is not related to Ukraine or President Trump, but he declined to get into specifics.

One final note to keep in mind here, Rudy Giuliani was named then President-elect Trump's informal adviser on, you guessed it, cyber- security, back in January 2017, which somehow seems a fitting end to the week for us.

But not for CNN because the Special Report "On The Brink: When A President Faces Impeachment" starts now.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The following is a CNN Special Report.

TEXT: A CNN SPECIAL REPORT.

TEXT: ON THE BRINK: WHEN A PRESIDENT FACES IMPEACHMENT. A FAREED ZAKARIA SPECIAL.

RICHARD NIXON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Have you got an extra camera in case the lights go out?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN HOST: This is what impeachment looks like.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NIXON: Ollie, only the CBS crew now is to be in this room during this. Only the crew. No, there will - no, there will be no picture. No. After the broadcast. You've taken your picture.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAKARIA: Facing certain removal, Richard Nixon is moments away from resigning as President.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NIXON: That's enough, OK? All secret service - are there any Secret Service in the room?

(OFF-MIC)

NIXON: Out.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAKARIA: There can be no greater fall from no greater height.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(MUSIC)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Five men were nabbed in the Democratic National Headquarters here in Washington.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nixon was desperate.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Whitewater controversy--

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Whitewater.

BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And I have nothing to say about it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's thinking, "What am I going to do?"

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Andrew Johnson's impeachment was over a policy. He did not deserve to be President of the United States.

NIXON: I'm not a crook.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Monica, Monica, hold on a second.

ZAKARIA: One thing leads to another.

NIXON: A grave and profound crisis.

(MUSIC)

REP. LARRY HOGAN (R-MD): You're in the Office of the President of the United States. How can you talk about blackmail and keeping witnesses silent?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: William Jefferson Clinton.

CLINTON: I did not have sexual relations with that woman.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The impeachment effort against him failed by a single vote in the Senate.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: President Nixon--

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Aye.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Aye. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Aye.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: --is a fallen (ph) leader.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There it is.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The ayes have it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Impeached for high crimes and misdemeanors.

NIXON: I have impeached myself.

(MUSIC)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAKARIA: Impeachment is no longer just history. Good evening. I'm Fareed Zakaria.

It is happening now. The House is conducting an impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump. We don't yet know how this will end, but we do know we need history more than we ever have. It's the only guide to how and why and even if this President should be impeached.

Remember, the Founding Fathers who wrote the impeachment clause had just fought a Revolution to escape the tyranny of kings. Their goal was to keep the President from becoming an elected monarch, unrestrained in his exercise of power.

Together, they carefully weighed what the grounds for impeachment should be. They agreed on treason and bribery. Also proposed was maladministration. James Madison objected. He said that was too vague. Impeachment wasn't a remedy for a bad President.

But what if a President, Madison asked, were to cook up a scheme of peculation? In other words, what if the President were a crook? So, George Mason of Virginia came up with a broader phrase, high crimes and misdemeanors, and that is Article Two, Section 4 of the American Constitution.

There was a moment in our history when it saved American democracy. But at other times, it's been turned into a cheap political trick, hurled at opponents as a weapon. So which is it right now?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BETO O'ROURKE (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If ever there were a time to impeach, it is now.

SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He's got to go.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAKARIA: Almost 3 years into the Trump Presidency, calls for his impeachment come every day, sometimes every hour.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. MAXINE WATERS (D-CA): I say impeachment, impeachment, impeachment.

(CROWD CHEERING)

[21:05:00]

(CROWD CHANTING "IMPEACH TRUMP!")

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thousands are in the streets out here this evening.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAKARIA: But this was just one day after Donald Trump was elected President.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(CROWD CHANTING)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAKARIA: From the first moment, Donald Trump has been the most polarizing President in an already bitterly divided America.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: We will impeach him. We will impeach him. Then people said, "But he hasn't done anything wrong." "Oh, that doesn't matter. We will impeach the President."

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TIMOTHY NAFTALI, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN, CO-AUTHOR, "IMPEACHMENT: AN AMERICAN HISTORY": We have been through periods of polarization before. The difference now, I think, is that we don't have a common baseline of facts. We disagree on reality.

ZAKARIA: That dangerous state of affairs, we disagree on the facts on reality itself, is reflected in how Americans feel about impeachment. In a new CNN poll, exactly half of Americans say they support the impeachment and removal of Donald Trump. But is the case strong enough?

About a year ago, at the height of the Mueller investigation, I put that question to one of the country's premier constitutional scholars.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NOAH FELDMAN, PROFESSOR, HARVARD LAW SCHOOL: I'm not calling for the impeachment of Donald Trump. I think it would be very unwise to pursue impeachment unless there were a high probability of removing the President from office. And as I read the circumstances now, there isn't a high probability of that. So, I'm not-- (END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAKARIA: That was then. This is now.

FELDMAN: So here you have the President of the United States abusing his power openly.

ZAKARIA: Noah Feldman is talking about Trump's apparent quid pro quo to Ukraine. "Investigate the Bidens, or we won't give you the aid money."

FELDMAN: It's extremely clear that it is a quid pro quo. It's laughable to think that the President was not trying to gain personally in investigating Joe Biden.

ZAKARIA: This constitutional scholar is worried about the very survival of America's defining document.

FELDMAN: Absolutely essential to the entire constitutional structure. If the President abuses his power, Congress has to check the President's actions. It's the only branch with that authority and responsibility, and that's what the impeachment process is fundamentally for. And the Constitution will fail.

ZAKARIA: In other words, for Feldman, democracy may depend on impeaching the President. For others, it is Congress that is overreaching.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): This is un-American.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAKARIA: To understand today's crisis, we need to go back to the last time America debated these issues.

We now think of Watergate as a time when America came together and forced a crooked President out of office. But to Richard Nixon, and the Republican Party, the Watergate scandal was a partisan war.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NIXON: It was a five-front war with a fifth column. I had a partisan Senate Committee staff, Special Prosecutor staff, media. We had a partisan Judiciary Committee staff, and a fifth column. I gave them a sword, and they stuck it in, and they twisted it with relish.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAKARIA: The real story of the war Nixon describes is one that few Americans know. It's a story of a small group of men who turned impeachment into an act of patriotism.

It all begins on June 17th, 1972.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Five men were arrested early Saturday while trying to install eavesdropping equipment at the Democratic National Committee.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAKARIA: Why was someone breaking into the Democrats' Campaign Offices?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NIXON: I again proudly accept that nomination for President of the United States.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAKARIA: Well, Richard Nixon won the Presidency in 1968 by promising to get America out of Vietnam.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(MUSIC)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAKARIA: But as the war dragged on, the anti-war movement exploded.

As Nixon campaigned for a second term, he feared Vietnam might give his enemies the ammunition to defeat him. And so, his men planned a series of dirty tricks.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NIXON: I suppose he went up the wall?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[21:10:00]

ZAKARIA: To cripple the Democrats. One of them was the Watergate break-in. In 1972, Nixon won re-election by a historic landslide.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NIXON: I, Richard Nixon, do solemnly swear--

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAKARIA: But the Watergate story was still growing. So just weeks after the election, inside the Oval Office, Richard Nixon declared war on the press.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NIXON: The press is the enemy. The press is the enemy. The press is the enemy. Write that on the black board 100 times and never forget it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAKARIA: Sound familiar?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: CNN - you are the enemy of the people. Go ahead.

I call the fake news the enemy of the people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAKARIA: There are other reminders of the present day. Donald Trump directs particular anger at certain news organizations.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: It's like the failing New York Times, which is like so bad, or CNN, which is so bad and so pathetic.

They are the fake, fake, disgusting news.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAKARIA: Nixon went after the Washington Post, whose reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein led Watergate coverage.

Nixon hated the press because it was digging into the very story he was desperate to hide, that the White House was deeply involved in the Watergate cover-up.

His campaign seemed to work. Early in his second term, Nixon's approval rating soared. But then came the first crack in the White House defense. In the summer of 1973, all of America was riveted by the Senate Watergate hearings.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What did the President know, and when did he know it?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAKARIA: As the country watched, White House Counsel John Dean turned on his President.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN DEAN, FORMER WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL: I began by telling the President that there was a cancer growing on the Presidency.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAKARIA: Dean testified that the Watergate burglars were blackmailing White House aides. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DEAN: The White House was now being directly subject to blackmail, and I didn't know how to handle it.

I told him I could only make an estimate that it might be as high as a million dollars or more. He told me that that was no problem.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAKARIA: It was John Dean's word against the President of the United States.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DEAN: I have no comment.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nothing less than Richard Nixon's Presidency may ride on whether the public believes John Dean or not.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAKARIA: Most Republicans continued to stand by their President.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Raise your right hand.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAKARIA: But then from a little-known White House aide, a dramatic twist.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ALEXANDER PORTER BUTTERFIELD, FORMER DEPUTY ASSISTANT TO PRESIDENT RICHARD NIXON: My name is Alexander Porter Butterfield.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Butterfield, are you aware of the installation of any listening devices in the Oval Office of the President?

BUTTERFIELD: I was aware of listening devices, yes, sir.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAKARIA: It was a bombshell.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The pressure is on the President to produce those tapes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NAFTALI: Had it not been for the tapes, I'm convinced Richard Nixon would have completed his second term. ZAKARIA: Instead, Nixon would spend the rest of his Presidency trying to keep anyone from hearing them.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The White House made it clear today that President Nixon has decided not to release tapes of his conversations.

NIXON: If I were to make public these tapes, the confidentiality of the office of the President would always be suspect from now on.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAKARIA: He fought subpoena after subpoena.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NIXON: I have never heard or seen such outrageous, vicious, distorted reporting.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAKARIA: Even as he tried to convince the American people that Watergate was a press creation.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What is it about the television coverage of you in these past weeks and months that has so aroused your anger?

NIXON: Don't get the impression that you arouse my anger. One can only be angry with those he respects.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAKARIA: Finally, a drastic step.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nothing like this has ever happened before.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Their offices have been sealed by the FBI.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAKARIA: A mass firing of the men pursuing the tapes, The Saturday Night Massacre.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The news calls a sensation in the White House Press Room and sent reporters scrambling to their telephones. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A grave and profound crisis in which the President has set himself against his own Attorney General and the Department of Justice.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Does it have to do with the resignation of the Attorney General?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, it might.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAKARIA: By the time it was over, the Attorney General, the Deputy Attorney General, and the Special Prosecutor were all out.

NAFTALI: The bipartisan American outrage changes the politics of the situation for Richard Nixon.

ZAKARIA: Tens of thousands of telegrams flooded Washington.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[21:15:00]

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So many Western Union was swamped. Most of them demanded impeaching Mr. Nixon.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAKARIA: Nixon was forced to appoint a new Special Prosecutor. And as the months went on, bit by bit, he was forced to turn over the tapes. They were as damning as he had feared. White House Counsel John Dean's testimony turned out to be entirely accurate.

(BEGIN VOICE CLIP)

NIXON: How much money do you need?

DEAN: I would say these people are going to cost a million dollars over the next 2 years.

NIXON: You could get a million dollars, and you could get it in cash. I know where it could be gotten.

(END VOICE CLIP)

ZAKARIA: It was clear Nixon's defenses were beginning to crumble.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Would you consider the crimes to be impeachable if they did apply to you?

NIXON: Well, I've also quit beating my wife.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The meeting will come to order.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is non-debatable.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAKARIA: In July of 1974, in a packed hearing room, the House Judiciary Committee began to debate removing the President.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. PETER RODINO (D-NJ): Make no mistake about it. This is a turning point whatever we decide.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAKARIA: Committee Chairman Peter Rodino was a Democratic machine liberal from Newark, New Jersey. He was new to the job. Some doubted whether he could handle it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. CHARLES SANDMAN (R-NJ): A highly partisan prosecution if ever there was one.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAKARIA: Many Nixon loyalists were angry and still immovable. For Republicans, impeaching their President was tantamount to political suicide. So, they kept holding out for more evidence.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SANDMAN: The weight of evidence must be clear. It must be convincing, and let's keep to those two words. You can't substitute them for anything else. Clear and convincing! But you cannot and you should not, under any circumstance, attempt to remove the highest office in the world for anything less than clear and convincing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAKARIA: But as emotions began to run high, the facts were calmly recited and documented. And something surprising happened.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HOGAN: There's an obstruction of justice going on. Someone is trying to buy the silence of a witness.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAKARIA: Nixon Republican Larry Hogan, the father of Maryland's current Governor, was moved by the evidence.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HOGAN: The thing that's so appalling to me is that the President, when this whole idea was suggested to him, didn't in righteous indignation rise up, and say, "Get out of here. You're in the office of the President of the United States. How can you talk about blackmail and bribery and keeping witnesses silent? This is the Presidency of the United States."

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAKARIA: One by one, rock-ribbed conservatives who had revered the President put conscience over Party.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. CALDWELL BUTLER (R-VA): I cannot condone what I have heard. I cannot excuse it, and I cannot and will not stand still for it.

REP. THOMAS RAILSBACK (R-IL): I wish the President could do something to absolve himself.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAKARIA: Perhaps the most conservative Southerner was Walter Flowers of Alabama. He had served as the segregationist George Wallace's Campaign Chairman.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. WALTER FLOWERS (D-AL): I wake up nights, at least on those nights I've been able to go to sleep lately, wondering if this could not be some sort of dream. Impeach the President of the United States.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAKARIA: But he did vote to impeach even though Walter Flowers said it gave him an ulcer. Even the conservatives who stuck with the President reached across the aisle to say thank you.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. TRENT LOTT (R-MS): I must admit in all candidness that it has been very fair.

REP. ROBERT MCCLORY (R-IL): This impeachment inquiry has been both historic and honorable.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NAFTALI: Republicans understood that they were not going to carry their base if they voted for impeachment. And some of them did it anyway.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All those in favor, signify by saying aye. All those opposed, no.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Donahue?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Aye. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Brooks.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Aye.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Aye.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Aye.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Aye.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAKARIA: A Committee approved three articles of impeachment.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Aye.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Aye.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Aye.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAKARIA: Obstruction of justice, contempt of Congress, abuse of power.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Hutchinson.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Aye.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Aye.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Aye.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Aye.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Aye.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Rodino?

RODINO: Aye.

(END VIDEO CLIP) ZAKARIA: Chairman Peter Rodino left the room and cried. Official impeachment would come later with a full House vote, but it never happened. Nixon's wall of Republican defenders had crumbled.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[21:20:00]

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's a countdown of sorts on tonight, a countdown toward the expected end of the Nixon Presidency.

RON ZIEGLER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Tonight at 9 o'clock Eastern daylight time, the President of the United States will address the nation.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAKARIA: It was over.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NIXON: I have never been a quitter. To leave office before my term is completed is abhorrent to every instinct in my body. But as President, I must put the interests of America first. Therefore, I shall resign the Presidency effective at noon tomorrow.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAKARIA: The impeachment the Framers had imagined, it worked. Democracy worked.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is the President waving good-bye, and you hear the applause.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAKARIA: But the scandal itself triggered a loss of faith in government and in politicians. It would be 25 years before impeachment would come up again.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Your testimony is subject to the penalty of perjury. Do you understand that, sir?

CLINTON: I do.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAKARIA: This time, it was a completely different story.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CLINTON: In all my life, I've wanted to be involved with people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAKARIA: In 1978, a bright-eyed 32-year-old Bill Clinton was running for Governor of Arkansas.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CLINTON: I've tried to bring out the best in people through politics, and I've really been very happy doing that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[21:25:00]

ZAKARIA: He and his wife Hillary were also investing in some real estate. A nice little patch of land in the Ozarks called Whitewater. That plot of land on the White River, a two-bit real estate deal that ended up losing money, would change the course of history.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you subject--

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did they read you your rights?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAKARIA: Decades later.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Whitewater controversy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Whitewater.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Political turbulence over Whitewater.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAKARIA: Whitewater became a massive, spiraling investigation.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is there a deal, Monica?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAKARIA: That led prosecutors to a sex scandal.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The ayes have it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There it is. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: William Jefferson Clinton is impeached.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAKARIA: That became the second Presidential impeachment in American history. How on earth did that little corner of Arkansas--

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I hereby deliver these articles of impeachment.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAKARIA: --explode into a constitutional showdown.

PETER BAKER, CO-AUTHOR, "IMPEACHMENT: AN AMERICAN HISTORY": It was a two-bit real estate deal, and yet somehow one thing leads to another, and we are on the House floor debating whether the President of the United States should be removed from office.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CLINTON: I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Ms. Lewinsky.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAKARIA: When we think of the Clinton impeachment, we think of a certain White House intern. But before there was Monica, there were the McDougals, Jim and Susan. Clinton might never have been impeached if not for them.

It was Jim McDougal who had convinced the Clintons to invest in Whitewater, and they had other financial ties as well. So, when Jim and Susan landed in legal trouble for fraud--

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JIM MCDOUGAL, ARKANSAS RESIDENT: If I'm found guilty, I'll go to the slammer.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Whitewater development is not going to go away. There are too many questions.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAKARIA: --the Clintons came under fire too.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Questions have been raised about the Clintons' financial and personal involvement with McDougal.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BAKER: In the end nothing came of it in terms of the Clintons themselves, but it planted the seed for something much bigger, something that would lead to this ultimate constitutional confrontation.

ZAKARIA: There was a growing drumbeat for an Independent Counsel to investigate Whitewater.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CLINTON: We did nothing improper, and I have nothing to say about it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you.

CLINTON: Old story.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAKARIA: Clinton had a fateful choice to make. Block a Special Counsel and take a beating in the press.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It appears to be a case of the President's past coming back to haunt him.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAKARIA: Or give in, leaving himself open to a potentially limitless investigation. The President gave in.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CLINTON: I don't want to be distracted by this anymore. Let them look into it. I just want to go back to work.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAKARIA: Years later, he would call that decision one of the biggest miscalculations of his Presidency.

BAKER: Once you have an Independent Counsel appointed with no budget and no limits, the prosecutors will keep looking for the crime until they can find it.

ZAKARIA: The first Special Prosecutor, Robert Fiske--

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERT FISKE, PROSECUTOR: As quickly and as thoroughly as possible.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAKARIA: --vowed to wrap up his investigation quickly.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let's get out of the way.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Would you guys get down.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAKARIA: But he was replaced, and his successor, Ken Starr, was far more aggressive.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KEN STARR, PROSECUTOR: Our job is to gather facts and to get at the truth.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAKARIA: Expanding the inquiry way beyond Whitewater.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How could that be? How is this Whitewater?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BAKER: The investigation kind of leads in all these different directions.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NEWT GINGRICH, FORMER UNITED STATES SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: This is truly a wildly historic night. I mean this is just--

(CROWD CHEERING)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAKARIA: No one could have been happier with Starr's aggressive approach than Newt Gingrich and the Republicans.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's been a sea change in American politics.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're winning. We're winning.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAKARIA: They had swept into Congress in 1994.

BAKER: This is an earthquake.

ZAKARIA: Preaching a new gospel of strict, orthodox conservatism.

NAFTALI: Newt Gingrich reshapes the Republican Party. Our base wants this, we do this. We do not compromise with Democrats.

ZAKARIA: President Clinton became the Democrat the Republicans despised the most. He was morally corrupt, they said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CLINTON: I experimented with marijuana a time or two and didn't inhale.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAKARIA: Creative with the truth.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GENNIFER FLOWERS, ACTRESS: I was Bill Clinton's lover for 12 years.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAKARIA: And a womanizer.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CLINTON: These tabloid accusations were false.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MICHAEL ISIKOFF, YAHOO! NEWS CHIEF INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT, AUTHOR, "UNCOVERING CLINTON: A REPORTER'S STORY": They viewed him as almost an imposter as President.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STARR: The law is the law. The law is sacred.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAKARIA: Meanwhile, Ken Starr had been digging into the Clintons for more than two years to no avail.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you going to be working for Congress or the courts or the public?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAKARIA: His investigation was winding down.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STARR: I'm not going to be making any statements.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAKARIA: Then out of the blue, some explosive tape recordings came his way.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MONICA LEWINSKY, FORMER WHIE HOUSE AIDE: I never expected to feel this way about him.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAKARIA: Conversations with Monica Lewinsky.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LEWINSKY: We fooled around.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAKARIA: That were secretly recorded by her co-worker, Linda Tripp.

(BEGIN VOICE CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If you get to orgasm, that's having sex.

LEWINSKY: No, it's not.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, it is.

LEWINSKY: No, it's not.

(END VOICE CLIP)

ZAKARIA: Starr expanded his investigation even further to look into Lewinsky.

ISIKOFF: My instant reaction is "That's nuts." I couldn't believe that Starr was going down this road.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[21:30:00]

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you understand, Sir, that your answers to my questions today are testimony that is being given under oath?

CLINTON: Yes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAKARIA: Starr learned that the President was testifying about Lewinsky in another matter.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PAULA JONES, BILL CLINTON ACCUSER: It's just humiliating what he did to me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAKARIA: A sexual harassment lawsuit brought by Paula Jones.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Your testimony is subject to the penalty of perjury. Do you understand that, Sir?

CLINTON: I do.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAKARIA: In his testimony, Clinton was not truthful about Lewinsky.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CLINTON: I have never had sexual relations with Monica Lewinsky. I've never had an affair with her.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAKARIA: Starr now had a case for perjury.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There are new allegations of infidelity and perjury this morning against President Clinton.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAKARIA: Over the next few months, all hell broke loose.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Charges of sex, lies, and audiotapes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAKARIA: Clinton kept denying the affair.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CLINTON: There is no improper relationship. The allegations I have read are not true.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAKARIA: But Starr was able to get Monica Lewinsky's dress that had Clinton's DNA on it. The President was forced to tell the truth.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CLINTON: Indeed I did have a relationship with Ms. Lewinsky that was not appropriate. In fact, it was wrong.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This goes into considerable detail.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: There was, in fact, semen on that dress.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Many viewers may find it somewhat offensive. (END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAKARIA: Starr released a detailed X-rated account of the scandal.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Bringing her to orgasm on two occasions.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAKARIA: Listing 11 possible grounds for impeachment, including lying under oath and obstruction of justice. It's easy to forget in hindsight, but Bill Clinton was in real danger of being pushed out of office. Many of his fellow Democrats were furious with him.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. DANIEL PATRICK MOYNIHAN (D-NY): Let justice be done though the heavens fall.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If they came to the White House like the Republicans did with Nixon in 1974 and says "Your time's up," that would have been it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAKARIA: But Clinton, the ultimate comeback kid--

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CLINTON: I never should have misled the country.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAKARIA: --was able to rally the Party and the country back to his side.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CLINTON: I will continue to do all I can to reclaim the trust of the American people and to serve them well.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAKARIA: His behavior may have been reprehensible, his allies said, but he was hardly the threat to the republic that impeachment was designed for. The American public agreed. The Democrats scored a shocking upset in the midterm elections, gaining seats in the House.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Lewinsky issue didn't carry any weight.

TUCKER CARLSON, FOX NEWS HOST: I'd say Republicans got stumped.

(END VIDEO CLIP) ZAKARIA: Newt Gingrich, who had predicted a big Republican victory.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GINGRICH: We have a chance to win some very startling victories all over the country.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAKARIA: Lost his job as Speaker.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Shouldering the blame for a disappointing election.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NAFTALI: Impeachment is a two-edged sword. You may intend to use it against your executive enemy, but it could very well hurt you even more politically.

ZAKARIA: President Clinton was thrilled, thinking he was in the clear.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On Capitol Hill, Tom DeLay is known as "The Hammer."

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAKARIA: But hardcore conservatives led by House Majority Whip Tom DeLay, were hell-bent on impeaching him anyway.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Article One is adopted.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have witnessed history.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAKARIA: The House impeached Bill Clinton almost entirely along Party lines.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The President resigned that his legacy will be forever scarred today.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On this article of impeachment--

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAKARIA: In the Senate, he was easily acquitted.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: William Jefferson Clinton is not guilty.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NAFTALI: In retrospect, the 1998-99 effort to impeach and remove Clinton is viewed as a partisan endeavor, because the American people spoke in the midterms in 1998, and said, "We don't really want to impeach this President."

ZAKARIA: After the Senate trial, Congress took the law that created Ken Starr's job and let it die.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STARR: No. I'm not going to comment.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAKARIA: A bipartisan acknowledgement that things had gone too far.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Women will be silent no more!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAKARIA: But today in the #MeToo Era, Clinton's impeachment is being seriously reconsidered, his affair with a young intern seen by many as an abuse of power.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND (D-NY): My greatest mentor, Hillary Clinton.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAKARIA: Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand, who holds Hillary Clinton's old Senate seat--

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GILLIBRAND: Women's voices matter.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAKARIA: --said in 2017 that Bill Clinton should have resigned.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GILLIBRAND: The kind of behavior that was tolerated a long time ago would never be tolerated today, and we can't allow it to be tolerated today.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[21:35:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: President Trump refusing to cooperate with the impeachment inquiry.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The House impeachment inquiry is turning into a Battle Royale.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAKARIA: Donald Trump is refusing to comply with the impeachment inquiry in the House of Representatives.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Nancy Pelosi, she hands out subpoenas like they're cookies. "You want a subpoena? Here you go, take them" like they're cookies.

NANCY PELOSI, SPEAKER OF THE UNITED STATES HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: The President is obstructing Congress from getting the facts that we need.

TRUMP: How do you impeach somebody that's doing a great job?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAKARIA: Harvard Law Professor, Noah Feldman, says the President's defiance has plunged this country into a constitutional crisis.

FELDMAN: When Congress is trying to investigate, it must have cooperation from the other branches of government. We're in a genuine crisis.

ZAKARIA: Despite White House orders not to testify, a string of current and former high-level officials have come forward, some with damning evidence against Donald Trump.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: They know they can't win the 2020 election, so they're pursuing the insane impeachment witch-hunt.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAKARIA: Trump likes to paint impeachment as a partisan war, and the strategy is working in some quarters. That's because in the last few decades, impeachment has often been used as a political weapon.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(CROWD CHANTING)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[21:40:00]

NAFTALI: Impeachment went from being something that you use only in moments of constitutional crisis--

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Impeach King Obama.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NAFTALI: --to something you use for everyday partisan battles. That is a horrible development for the American people.

ZAKARIA: The country supported President Bush as he took the United States into battle to destroy Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes!

(CROWD CHEERING)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAKARIA: But there were none, and the occupation of Iraq was a tragic mess.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Bush can't have my son!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAKARIA: An anti-war movement grew quickly.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(CROWD CHANTING)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAKARIA: And it used impeachment as a weapon.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Bring down these war criminals like Bush. He needs to be impeached.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAKARIA: But the Leader of the Democrats, Nancy Pelosi, wanted none of it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PELOSI: Impeachment is off the table.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NAFTALI: Disagreements over policy were not intended by the Founders to be the bases for a serious attempt at impeachment.

FELDMAN: It's not a crime or a misdemeanor under the Constitution to make a mistake.

ZAKARIA: After Bush's mistake, the country was totally polarized in its view of the President, and the partisan gap was the widest ever recorded.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The President of the United States and the Vice President of the United States.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAKARIA: Impeachment fever would only get worse under the next President.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Change has come to America.

(CROWD CHEERING)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAKARIA: In 2008, Barack Obama was elected on a promise to help heal the country's extreme partisan divide.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(CROWD CHANTING "YES, WE CAN!")

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAKARIA: But the candidate who had campaigned on "Yes, we can!" ran into a wall of Republican opposition.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hell no, you can't!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAKARIA: The Tea Party formed around an almost fanatical opposition to Barack Obama. In 2010, it propelled a wave of new Republicans to Congress.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What does it feel like?

OBAMA: It feels bad.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAKARIA: This new hyper-partisan Congress presided over a growing impeachment movement.

JOSHUA MATZ, CO-AUTHOR, "TO END A PRESIDENCY": When you promise that you're out to impeach the President, you can make a name for yourself. You can raise money. You can rally the base.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: Impeach him.

(CROWD CHANTS YES)

OBAMA: Really?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NAFTALI: Impeachment is not supposed to be used as a rallying cry to get people to vote for you. Both sides played around with it.

ZAKARIA: Impeachment campaigns against Presidents Bush and Obama never gained legitimacy or real legislative support. So one could argue who cares? It's only talk.

NAFTALI: If you play around with impeachment that way, over time the American people are going to misunderstand its constitutional power and its necessity.

ZAKARIA: When Barack Obama left office, he was more popular than George Bush, but the gap between the people who loved him and who hated him was even larger than it had been with President Bush.

The deep polarization of the last few years is the worst in American history with one exception, the period around the Civil War. On April 15th, 1865, President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated. The country was still deeply divided over the Civil War.

Enter Andrew Johnson, the Vice President who succeeded Lincoln. Johnson was a Southern Democrat whom Lincoln had picked to create a national unity ticket. There are few things historians agree upon, but this is one. Andrew Johnson was one of America's worst Presidents.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was essentially an incredibly racist, neo- confederate who was dead set against Congress' program of reconstructing the South.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAKARIA: Republicans in Congress despised Andrew Johnson. FELDMAN: He stood for the repression of African-Americans whom a war had just been fought to liberate.

ZAKARIA: President Johnson vetoed almost all the measures to give civil liberties and representation to Blacks. The Republican- controlled Congress decided to wage a political war.

FELDMAN: It set an impeachment trap for him.

ZAKARIA: That trap was called the Tenure of Office Act.

FELDMAN: Congress passed a law over Johnson's veto that said he could not fire his own cabinet members.

ZAKARIA: When President Johnson fired his Secretary of War, Edwin Stanton, the House approved 11 articles of impeachment against him, one of which accused the President of bringing Congress into ridicule and disgrace.

NAFTALI: Their entire approach to impeachment was partisan and ideological. However bad a President Andrew Johnson was, there were no grounds to remove him.

[21:45:00]

ZAKARIA: The country was one vote away from removing President Andrew Johnson from office, essentially because Congress did not like him, or his policies.

MATZ: Johnson basically agreed to cease all of the behavior that had been so problematic, to go along with the Congressional Reconstruction program.

ZAKARIA: Historians today regard the impeachment trap as unconstitutional.

MATZ: Impeachment fell into disrepute.

ZAKARIA: Johnson's impeachment would serve as a warning about the consequences of a partisan impeachment in a sharply-divided country.

MATZ: It raises blood pressures, and in some perverse ways, it actually makes impeachment harder to use when you might really need it.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[21:50:00]

ZAKARIA: On this crucial issue, I know that many people have quickly taken up firm and unalterable positions. I have not. I think that impeachment is a nuclear option to be undertaken in the most extreme circumstances. The best mechanism to remove bad leaders in a democracy is through elections.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) (CROWD CHANTING "IMPEACH DONALD TRUMP!")

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAKARIA: And in today's already deeply polarized climate.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why are you doing this? Ready to work (ph)?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAKARIA: An impeachment will only make the wounds worse and the healing more difficult. But as I have written in "The Washington Post," the events of the past few months have led me to support an impeachment inquiry. Let me explain why now and not before.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Russia, if you're listening--

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAKARIA: I believe that Donald Trump's campaign did some shady things in dealing with the Russians, and he seemed too eager to cover it up, and fire people who were investigating it.

But I thought that Robert Mueller was right to paint a somewhat ambiguous picture, and that wasn't enough for me to call for impeachment.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. JERROLD NADLER (D-NY): Integrity and accountability.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAKARIA: But Trump's efforts to pressure the Ukrainian government are different.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: It's a country, I think, with tremendous potential.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAKARIA: It appears that acting as the President, using the power and machinery of the United States, he threatened to withhold taxpayer funds for his personal political gain. That is the definition of abuse of power.

Even many of Trump's defenders argue that what he did was undoubtedly bad but claim that it does not rise to the level of an impeachable offense. What has been far more troubling is Trump's refusal to cooperate with the impeachment inquiry.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: They're pursuing an illegal, invalid, and unconstitutional bull (BEEP) impeachment.

(CROWD CHEERING)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAKARIA: Other Presidents have contested a specific subpoena or request for documents. Donald Trump is effectively rejecting Congress' ability to hold him accountable at all.

The rule of law has been built over centuries in the Western World, but it remains fragile because it's based on a bluff. The bluff is that at the highest level, everyone will respect the rules, even though it might not always be possible to enforce compliance.

The rule at the heart of the U.S. System is the separation of powers. The Founders' greatest fear was that too much power in the hands of government would mean the end of liberty. So they ensured that power was shared and that each Branch would act as a check on the other.

The crucial feature for James Madison, the Chief Architect of the Constitution, was "Giving to those who administer each department the necessary constitutional means, and personal motives, to resist encroachments of the others."

As he explained in Federalist 51, "Ambition must be made to counteract ambition."

But the system only works if all sides respect it. Congress doesn't have an army or police force at its disposal, nor does the Supreme Court. These branches rely on the President to accept their authority and enforce their laws and rulings.

When the Supreme Court held unanimously that Richard M. Nixon could not use Executive Privilege to withhold the Watergate tapes, President Nixon immediately agreed to comply, even though he knew it would mean the end of his Presidency.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And there is the President waving good-bye, and you hear the applause.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAKARIA: All modern U.S. Presidents, both Republican and Democratic, have expanded their powers, and that expansion has been excessive in the past few decades. But Donald Trump is on a different planet.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I alone can fix it.

(CROWD CHEERING) (END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAKARIA: He has refused to comply with wholly constitutional legislative requests for documents, information, and testimony. Were his position to prevail, the U.S. President would become an "Elected Dictator."

Democrats meanwhile are on firm constitutional ground but are being politically unwise. They should ensure that this impeachment inquiry looks and is fair.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LOTT: In this Committee, the staff was nonpartisan, and I must give credit where credit is due for a fair presentation.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAKARIA: They should follow the precedents laid down during the last two such investigations.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The ayes are 228. The nays are 206. Article One is adapted.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAKARIA: Impeachment is a political process, which means public support is vital.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[21:55:00]

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): Do you solemnly swear or affirm that the testimony you will give today shall be the truth?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAKARIA: The inquiry should be undertaken as a great act of public education about the specifics of this case but also about the American system of checks and balances.

A democracy can turn into a tyranny not all at once with a bang, but over time. Officials, even elected, even popular, can simply weaken and then dispense with constitutional constraints or legislative checks. Liberty is eroded slowly but irreversibly.

Germany's Weimar Republic was a well-functioning liberal democracy, and within a few short years, using mostly legal processes, it became a totalitarian dictatorship.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(ADOLF HITLER'S VIDEO) (END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAKARIA: In the long history of the world, liberal democracy has been a brief, fragile experiment. If we look away now as it is being undermined, unwilling to deal with the discomfort or disruption, we might all live to regret it.

Those are my thoughts, but you should make up your own mind about this issue, which really is central to America's democracy and its future.

I'm Fareed Zakaria. Thanks for watching.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)