CNN - Hickenlooper: 'I Think We Have To Begin An Impeachment Inquiry...' (Complete Transcript)

In an interview on Thursday with CNN’s Alisyn Camerota and John Berman, Democratic presidential candidate and former Governor of Colorado, John Hickenlooper said he believes Congress should begin an impeachment inquiry. 

Here is the complete transcript of the interview, courtesy of CNN:

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Joining us now is 2020 presidential candidate, John Hickenlooper. Governor, great to have you here.

JOHN HICKENLOOPER (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thanks for having me.

CAMEROTA: You had previously pumped the breaks on impeachment. How do you feel today?

HICKENLOOPER: Well, after listening to Mueller, and I wanted to hear what he had to say, I think of myself as an extreme moderate. But I think he laid the responsibility clearly at the doorstep of Congress. 

I think we have to begin an impeachment inquiry and that doesn't mean we're going to impeach President Trump tomorrow or maybe ever, but I think we do have an obligation to follow where the facts lead and we have to recognize that -- I mean, I'm not naive. Mitch McConnell is never going to impeach President Trump.

We've got to keep our eye on the prize and recognize we've got to beat Trump at the ballot box. But at the same time, we've got to get the real facts of what did happen.

CAMEROTA: Well, I'm sorry, what changed for you after you read -- between reading the Mueller report and hearing him yesterday?

HICKENLOOPER: Well, hearing him actually say that if there were a way he could say there was no criminal activity he would have done that -- actually hearing him say that rather than just in the report. 

But also, he was very direct that this is the responsibility of Congress. This is their constitutional role. And the way he laid it out there was pretty direct.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: And I was interested by the way you framed your decision here. You're saying you're running as a moderate -- an extreme moderate. Was that the phrase you used there?

And that is the group of Democrats that may be the ones to pressure Nancy Pelosi here in the House. It's the sum of 40 or Democrats who won in Republican-held districts right now. Really, very few, if none, have come forward in saying it's time to impeach or hold the impeachment proceedings.

Do you think that your movement will convince any of them?

HICKENLOOPER: Well, I don't know about. But I think that the -- you know, having an impeachment inquiry where you do get the weight of the inquiry behind the subpoena, so you really get the real facts -- I think that's critically important at this point. And I look at that as separate from the actual impeachment proceedings, right, where you're actually trying to generate articles of impeachment and taking the president to trial.

BERMAN: The first step -- the first step is to hold an impeachment inquiry and --

HICKENLOOPER: Well, that's an inquiry.

BERMAN: -- and then, the Judiciary Committee would vote on articles of impeachment. But, formally launching an inquiry is an impeachment proceeding.

HICKENLOOPER: Right, exactly. I mean, we're getting into the --

BERMAN: Right.

HICKENLOOPER: -- into the --

BERMAN: But you're saying yes. You're saying yes, now's the time.

HICKENLOOPER: Yes. I think that we need to get the facts and just asking to bring forth the evidence, I don't see it as that -- I mean, I think it would be crazy not to do it, to be quite honest. We have to go out and try and get the facts.

CAMEROTA: Do you worry it could hurt Democrats in 2020?

HICKENLOOPER: Well, again, we should go into it clear-eyed and recognize that Mitch McConnell is not going to -- you know, he's not going to impeach President Trump. We've got to beat Trump at the ballot box and be laser-focused on that.

CAMEROTA: But that's what I mean. Will voters be annoyed that Democrats are spending time on impeachment?

HICKENLOOPER: I don't think so. I think voters -- most of the people I've talked to in Colorado and Iowa or New Hampshire, they want the facts. Let's find out what really happened.

I mean, it's one thing to say that the Trump campaign actually communicated with a hostile power. I mean, to me, that's breathtaking that we just accept that -- that that's fine. Let's see what else is there.

BERMAN: And again, you don't -- as running as a moderate, you don't see this as a leftist position?

HICKENLOOPER: No. I think trying to get facts is within America -- as a country, it's within America's responsibility.

CAMEROTA: OK. So, as an extreme moderate, let's ask you about some of your positions.

I want to ask you about abortion rights because this is one where it's hard to be a moderate. People have such passionate and extreme feelings.

So, given what you've seen happening in Indiana, in Alabama, in Ohio -- I could go on -- where -- what would be your solution?

HICKENLOOPER: Well, this constant -- it seems like a constant assault on women's reproductive rights in many states. It is outrageous, it's horrific.

In Colorado, we've taken a different direction. What we've done is we expanded women's access to all their medical opportunities -- their access -- sorry. And what we've done is we provided long-acting reversible contraception, like IUDs or Norplants to young women who ask for it.

And we've reduced teenage pregnancy by 54 percent, we've reduced teenage abortion by 64 percent, and we've saved $70 million of Colorado taxpayers' money.

CAMEROTA: Wow. I mean, those are really striking numbers. It is confusing, some states that want to outlaw abortion, and get rid of birth control, and restrict access to birth control. That is confusing.

HICKENLOOPER: If you are -- if -- these people are so adamant that they want to fight abortion by closing down family planning and denying young women the opportunity to have control of their own bodies, right. To be able to decide when they want to start a family. And that's one of the basic tenets of freedom if you ask me. 

And in the end, they're creating more abortions and more unwanted pregnancies. It just doesn't make any sense.

BERMAN: Let's talk a little presidential primary process now at this point. The first two presidential debates are coming up in June and July and we just learned there is a third in September where they're going to raise the bar for entry. It's two percent in the polls there.

As of now, you won't qualify for the third debate. I know it's -- we're not there yet --

HICKENLOOPER: Yes.

BERMAN: -- but do you think that's fair to have that higher cut-off?

HICKENLOOPER: Well, I don't think it's -- I'm not worried about it. I feel very comfortable I'll be on that stage.  I feel like I'm running -- you know, I'm running for president because are in a crisis of division that Trump is fueling. 

And in a funny way, I feel like I'm the one person that has actually done what everyone else is talking about, all right. I brought people together. We've got near-universal health care coverage. We addressed methane, which is one of the worst climate pollutants there is. And we've beat the NRA with some tough new gun laws.

I mean, I've -- as an entrepreneur, as a governor, I've been able to bring people together and do the big progressive things that people said couldn't be done. 

And in a funny way, I think it's time to really look at the fundamental nonsense of government that we see in Washington and begin replacing it with some common sense.

BERMAN: Again, though, is that a fair cut-off, do you think -- raising the bar for the third debate?

HICKENLOOPER: Well, again, I'm not going to worry about -- they've made their decision --

BERMAN: OK.

HICKENLOOPER: -- and my job is to make sure I'm on that stage, which again, I have every -- we have our own lane where the -- I'm one of the only people out there that's actually brought people together and gotten big progressive things done that other people said couldn't be done.

CAMEROTA: Governor John Hickenlooper, thanks so much. We always appreciate having you in-studio.

HICKENLOOPER: Oh, thank you.

BERMAN: Thanks for coming in.