As the Senate attempts to set rules for President Trump’s impeachment trial, at least one Republican is expressing concern about the proceedings. Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska said in an interview Tuesday that she was disturbed by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s promise of “total coordination” with the White House. Murkowski’s comments mark a rare instance of dissent for the Republican Party, which has been unified behind President Trump until now. McConnell needs 51 votes to set the rules for the hearing. Republicans have a thin majority of 53 seats in the Senate. Last week, Oscar-winning filmmaker Michael Moore witnessed the historic vote to impeach the president from the front row of the House gallery. He joins us for the hour to discuss the impeachment process, the 2020 election and why he thinks Trump would win re-election today.
AMY GOODMAN: Republicans and Democrats are continuing to battle over the terms of President Trump’s impeachment trial in the Senate. The House has impeached Trump for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, but House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has withheld sending the articles of impeachment to the Senate over concerns of an unfair trial. Democrats are demanding the Senate hear witnesses in the trial, which centers on how President Trump withheld military aid from Ukraine to pressure the Ukrainian president to investigate Trump’s political rival Joe Biden ahead of the 2020 presidential election. On Tuesday, Alaska Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski said, in an interview in Alaska station KTUU in Anchorage, that she was “disturbed” by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s promise of “total coordination” with the White House.
SEN. LISA MURKOWSKI: And in fairness, when I heard that, I was disturbed. … To me, it means that we have to take that step back from being hand in glove with the defense. And so, I heard what Leader McConnell had said. I happen to think that that has further confused the process.
AMY GOODMAN: Senator Murkowski’s comments mark a rare instance of dissent from the Republican Party, which has been unified behind President Trump until now. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell needs 51 votes to set rules for the hearing. Republicans have a thin majority of 53 seats in the Senate.
Well, for more, today we spend the hour with Oscar-winning filmmaker Michael Moore to talk about impeachment, election and why he thinks President Trump could still win re-election. Last week, Moore witnessed the historic impeachment vote from the front row of the House gallery.
SPEAKER NANCY PELOSI: On this vote, the yeas are 230, the nays are 197, present is one. Article I is adopted.
AMY GOODMAN: We’re going to go now to a clip of Michael Moore in his new podcast, Rumble.
MICHAEL MOORE: Wilmington, Delaware. I’m on the Amtrak, the last train out of Washington, D.C., back to New York City. It was impeachment day in Washington, D.C. And at midnight last night, I thought, “Geez, I’m in New York. I think that’s near Washington. Why don’t we just head down to D.C.?” Got up in the morning, went down to the Amtrak station, at Penn Station, and got on the train. Let’s go see if we can get into the Capitol Building so we can watch the impeachment of Donald Trump live and in person. That was our goal this morning. We had no idea if we could get in there. We just hopped the train. This is Michael Moore.
AMTRAK P.A.: Next stop is Philadelphia, 30th Street Station. Philadelphia is next.
MICHAEL MOORE: And Philadelphia is next. This is my podcast, episode number three, Rumble with Michael Moore.
AMY GOODMAN: That’s Michael Moore’s new podcast, Rumble. He was recording from the train after the impeachment. Well, from the train to the studios, from the podcast to our broadcast, today we spend the rest of the hour with Michael Moore. I asked him to respond to just how he got in to watch the impeachment and what it was like.
MICHAEL MOORE: Well, we went there without any — knowing whether we could get in or not. So we didn’t have any, like, tickets or anything. And then we got there, and there’s this huge line. So, you know, then I said we’ve got to — we’re pretty good, like, when we’re making a movie, getting into places where we don’t belong. So, how can we get into this? And then I thought, “Oh, wait a minute. Flint has a congressman, so let’s go — let’s go see if we can get in there.”
So we go to the — Dan Kildee is his name. We go to his office in the Cannon House Office Building. And just as I open the door, there at the door is Ralph Nader. I’m like, “Whoa!” I haven’t seen him in a long time. And so — and then the congressman is there. I said, “Hey, Dan. Can we use your office, because, Ralph, you’ve got to do a podcast with me.” And so I sat down for 40 minutes and talked to Ralph about all the things I’ve been wanting to talk to him about for, you know, I don’t know, 20 years.
But we got in, and we got to sit down in the front row. There were three empty seats there. My sister and my friend and I, we were all there. And we sat there for four or five hours watching the debate and the vote. And I’m telling you, it’s not like it is on C-SPAN. C-SPAN is such a — you know, two-dimensional, flattens everything out, very strictly framed. You don’t get the peripheral vision on C-SPAN. One of the things I tell my crew, and if I’m allowed to — when I’m invited to film schools to talk to students, I always tell them that you’re going to find more truth in the peripheral than in the spot on, because in the spot on, you’re getting the official story. You’re getting the — you know, whatever it is they want you to report. But what’s going on over here, what’s going on around you, if you have a sense of trying to pay attention to that, you’ll find these things that you’ll never see in a documentary or in a movie or on the nightly news.
And so, what I saw from that front row of the gallery last Wednesday was both a bit exhilarating and frightening, exhilarating in the sense that you could see on the Democratic side that they, many of them, had found the courage of their convictions, had found their soul, their guts to stand up for this, even though the polls show it’s kind of a 50-50 in the country on impeachment, a little more in favor of it, but nonetheless a risky proposition, especially for a number of the Democrats in swing districts. The fact that they would take that stand in such a profound way and all the eloquence of what they were saying at the microphone was — and I could watch the Republicans as they were saying these eloquent and necessary things. And you don’t see that on C-SPAN.
And the Republicans are over there, you know, guffawing, doing the “Hey” — you know, mocking these Democrats. The mocking level goes up if it’s someone of color, if it’s a woman, if it’s somebody who’s not them. Because when you’re looking over at the Republican side, man, is that white and old and male. And it’s stunning that in 2019 that it looks like an episode of Leave It to Beaver over there and not the real America that we live in. See, I think — and they’re so angry. They’re so — they go up to the microphone, and they say these — spewing this anger, and all the angry old men in their seats squirming and “aaaghhh” — they be making these sounds. The very last sound they made, when the vote — when it passed, Trump was impeached — Pelosi had told the Democrats, “No applause, no cheering.” You know, if you go back and listen to that, the cheering you hear is myself and my sister and Basil. And so — but the Republicans let out this noise, this otherworldly noise, that — it wasn’t a “boo.” It was like a “uuuaaarrrhh.” It’s like, “Wow!” And I said to my sister, “That is what the dying dinosaurs must have sounded like in their final moments.”
So, the good news is here, those are the dying dinosaurs. And they know it. They know it because the demographic has changed. It’s not their America anymore. Seventy percent of the eligible voters next November are either women, people of color or young people between 18 and 35. That’s the majority of the people eligible to vote next year, not them. They’re the minority. They know it. They know the country has changed. And they know by the 2040s white people will be the minority in this country. And that’s really — the racial element of this never really gets discussed, but I think that is what’s hugely driving them.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: Well, Michael, these dying dinosaurs, as you call them, Republicans, have been dismissive of the charges against Trump. I’d like to turn to Georgia Republican Barry Loudermilk, who essentially compared Donald Trump to Jesus.
REP. BARRY LOUDERMILK: The Sixth Amendment guarantees the right of the defendant to face their accuser, but not only have the Democrats prohibited Republicans and the president from questioning the so-called whistleblower, his identity has been kept secret. Before you take this historic vote today, one week before Christmas, I want you to keep this in mind: When Jesus was falsely accused of treason, Pontius Pilate gave Jesus the opportunity to face his accusers. During that sham trial, Pontius Pilate afforded more rights to Jesus than the Democrats have afforded this president and this process.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: So, Michael, your response to what Loudermilk said? And in particular, I mean, you’ve made the point that when you were growing up, there’s no way that the Republican Party would stand by what Donald Trump has been doing, what someone like Donald Trump has done. So, what do you think accounts for this shift in the Republican Party? But first respond to what Loudermilk said.
MICHAEL MOORE: Let me just say, because I went to Catholic school, that rendering of Pontius Pilate and Jesus is completely wrong — did not get to face the accusers, did not get — there was no trial. You know, Pilate’s just deciding. He’s the oppressor from Rome. Palestine, Judea, whatever it was called then, was an occupied territory by Romans. And by the way, I want to point out: We had very progressive nuns in our Catholic school. And a lot of — I mean, sadly, a lot of Catholics are taught, you know, the Jews killed Jesus. And, you know, it’s like — and our nuns were like, “No, no, the Jews did not kill Jesus. The Italians killed Jesus.” All right, that’s — it’s a fact. These are Romans. That’s who did it, but — I think because the nuns were all Irish, too, by the way. I think there’s an Irish-Italian thing going on there. But so, none of that happened, what he just said. OK.
But that’s true for most of what they — they speak — there’s some kind — can you ask me to explain this? I can’t explain it. Nobody can explain it, because it seems like an alien invasion has taken place. These seem like pod people, you know. MoveOn posted a great photo on Instagram yesterday of the shot of them sitting there. And what it looks — it really looks like Invasion of the Pod People. They have come here. They’ve taken over our human form. And they just spew things that are just completely not true. I believe if Trump told them that the sun rose in the west, they’d back that 100%. None of it matters to them. They don’t care.
And you’re right. When I was going up — I mean, my grandfather, I mean, he was born in the 19th century, so he came out of those Republicans that were Lincoln people, and they were abolitionists. They supported, you know, women’s right to vote, etc. So, no, he wouldn’t even recognize this at all.
But I think now — and what I encourage people to do, especially over the holidays, if you’ve got a Republican relative coming over for Christmas dinner or — I was going to say “for Hanukkah,” but I don’t know why, first of all, you’d have a Republican relative. And second of all, I don’t even know why he would come. But let’s say you do. You can’t spend any time on — don’t waste any of your energy. All of our energy has to be on getting out the people who are the majority of this country, the majority of our fellow Americans. And we couldn’t say this during the early women’s movement, during Vietnam, during the civil rights movement. We couldn’t say the majority of Americans support civil rights. King had to — and Malcolm X and everybody had to — there was work to be done, serious work. We don’t have to do any work. The majority of Americans believe climate change is real. The majority of Americans believe women should be paid the same as men. The majority of Americans believe the minimum wage is too low. Go down the whole list, the majority agree with what is discussed on this show every single day. So, hats off to you and to everybody else who’s worked all these years. The majority of our fellow Americans now share these progressive values. So, the onus is on us then: How do we get the vote out with the people that already agree with us?
AMY GOODMAN: Oscar-winning filmmaker Michael Moore. I interviewed him with Democracy Now!’s Nermeen Shaikh. When we come back, he talks about why he thinks President Trump could win re-election despite impeachment. Stay with us.
Don’t miss your chance to give for #GivingTuesday!
Millions of people are supporting nonprofits like Truthout for #GivingTuesday. Will you join them?
As an independent newsroom, Truthout relies on reader donations to remain online. Your tax-deductible donation of any amount — even a few bucks! — helps make it possible for us to publish award-winning journalism that amplifies the voices of changemakers everywhere.