On Saturday, MSNBC talking heads and their Democrat senator guests were spinning furiously after the White House counsel finished their 2-hour presentation that both debunked major points alleged by the House impeachment manager and also provided a window into what they will elaborate on next week. Brian Williams hosted a panel that struggled to find the right pro-Democrat spin as they interviewed several Democrat senators: Tim Kaine (D-VA), Chris Coons (D-DE), Patty Murray (D-WA), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Chuck Schumer (D-NY), and finally Angus King who claims to be an “independent” from Maine. King’s claim is a crock, as his responses to several questions decisively prove. Let’s examine his comments in detail.
Brian Williams: (after playing a video clip in which Jay Sekulow made the point that there were other countries that meddled in the 2016 election besides Russia – including Ukraine) … that’s (Sekulow) a false flag argument; the notion that these Russian talking points could be correct, and that it was Ukraine that meddled in our election. That’s “through the looking glass.”
Me: I find it ironic that Brian Williams is afforded a semblance of credibility by continuing as a talking head on MSNBC after he was suspended by NBC News for six months for “misrepresenting himself” (for falsely claiming he had been in a helicopter hit by enemy fire during the Iraq War). But then it’s MSNBC, the home for conspiracy theories and anti-Trump hysteria for over three years now.
Angus King: we got a lot of discussion about the trees, but not about the forest … not of the shape of the basic case against the President. He talked all around the transcript but didn’t talk about the fact that the first words out of the President’s mouth after the president of Ukraine said he needed those Javelins was, “I’d like you to do us a favor, though …” There hasn’t been enough evidence on the word “though.” That involves an exchange. The next words out the President’s mouth were Crowdstrike and the Ukrainian theory. I serve on the Intelligence committee (etc., etc.,) … I’ve never seen a whiff … a scintilla … any evidence at all that Ukraine interfered in our elections in any kind of systematic way. What they’re really talking about is, there were Ukrainian politicians who wrote op-eds opposing Donald Trump. The reason they did was, he appeared to sanction the Russian annexation of Crimea, which is a dagger to the heart of the Ukrainian people. So yes, there Ukrainians who didn’t like Donald Trump, but they didn’t like him publicly because of some of the things he said during the campaign. There’s no evidence that they did any hacking.
Me: That’s the Democrat spin at work once again. Any reasonable person (not partisan Democrats, apparently) who read the transcript will come to completely different conclusions about the President’s motivations. King knows full well that the “Ukrainian theory” involves far more than just Crowdstrike, which was the company that the FBI deferred to in doing the cyber analysis that “proved” that the Russians hacked the DNC servers in 2016. As one example among many, John Solomon has done yeoman’s work in digging into the elements of real Ukrainian meddling here, and it’s completely disingenuous (a lie) for King to state that there’s not a “scintilla” of evidence that Ukraine meddled, and that it was “only Ukrainian politicians” who made public comments that were anti-Trump.
Williams: Let’s talk about “umbrage” because last night several Republicans took “umbrage” at Adam Schiff raising a CBS News report based on a blind quote from an administration official that “heads would be on pikes” if they went against the President. I have to say for clarity that part of the umbrage was from Susan Collins. Are they doing this to insulate a no vote, saying “it’s because you angered us, it’s because offended us”?
King: I can’t speak to motivation. I found it kind of astonishing … I mean … the day after the mid-terms, President Trump said, “I retired Jeff Flake. It was me and me alone.” Well, if that isn’t an indication that this president feels that he can in fact take out senators, then I don’t know what is. … The idea that a Republican senator might be in some trouble is sort of self-evident.
Me: Full stop! The notion that we’re supposed to once again fall for an unsourced “blind quote” in a breathless breaking news story that just happens to fit the Democrat impeachment narrative is completely absurd. How many times are we supposed to fall for the circular reporting by Democrats and Deep Staters who cite fabricated news stories as the basis for pushing their false narratives? The legacy media are now spinning “umbrage” as their new word-of-the-day as a means of putting political pressure on Republican senators to vote with Democrats to open up the impeachment trial to new witnesses and documents. I’m calling that CBS story to be just another convenient bit of fake news for Democrats to spin via the media echo chamber, and King is perfectly willing to further that Democrat narrative in this interview.
Matthews: there seems to be a sort of pincer movement to keep these Senate Republicans in line. One is fear; the other is trying to give something to hang their hats on. Are they just giving them something possible or plausible about Ukraine meddling in 2016? Do you think any of your colleagues believe that Ukraine has a server over there from the DNC, that they have physically gotten a server and it’s in Ukraine somewhere? Do you think that they believe that? Or do they simply have a talking point here?
King: I doubt it. I’d be surprised. Anybody that’s looked into this knows it’s nonsense. I can’t mind-read my colleagues, but they had to say that issue because the President in the call didn’t mention the word corruption, didn’t talk about corruption in general, didn’t talk about corruption of a former president, he talked about Crowdstrike. That’s 2016, and he talked about the Bidens; that’s all he talked about. He didn’t talk about corruption, and that’s the elephant in the room.
Me: It’s not just Crowdstrike, Angus! Here’s another John Solomon report on Soros-US State Dept meddling in Ukraine. Furthermore, King implies that simply because President Trump didn’t use the word “corruption” in that phone call that he somehow wasn’t talking about corruption related to the Bidens? Ridiculous, as the whole purpose for looking into Hunter Biden’s dealings in Ukraine was to investigate corruption! The President didn’t have to say the word because his concerns about Ukrainian corruption were well known.
Chris Matthews (who once was the chief of staff to Democrat Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill and has been a reliable Democrat hack ever since he moved into the media and eventually MSNBC): we’ve never heard a character witness for the President; we’ve never heard someone say that he’s a good guy and wouldn’t do something like this. Have you ever heard that in any conversations?
Me: We know what you think about the President, Chris. That’s a disingenuous question, as there have been many people who have publicly praised the President across the political spectrum over the years, for example, those who were on the dais with him at the March for Life rally last week.
King: I don’t know, but you raise an important point. Jay Sekulow said, “Nobody who’s testimony we heard spoke directly to the President.” Remember that? Well, okay, so let’s hear from the people who did. I mean, this thing could be solved in 15 minutes. And I don’t know what Bolton or Mulvaney would say. The fact they’re moving mountains and really pushing on the Republicans to not allow those witnesses …. In the law, there’s something called adverse inference. If somebody’s keeping evidence away from you, you can draw an inference that it wouldn’t be helpful.
Me: The House managers produced no direct evidence of an impeachable crime; that was their job, and they failed to do it. It was their job to prove him guilty, not the job of the President to prove his innocence. The demand for witnesses is a political red herring. And “adverse inference” does not apply at all because the President was exercising his due process rights, but it was the House managers who refused to pursue access to other witnesses through the courts. That was just another smokescreen from King.
Matthews: we don’t have to do much inferring here, Senator, because we know that John Bolton called it a “drug deal,” and we know that Mick Mulvaney said “this is what we do in politics; we squeeze ‘em.” I mean, they’ve already testified, but not in the trial.
King: that’s right, and they’re out there and could come forward. By the way, I was happy to hear Adam Schiff talk last night about the second impeachment article, obstruction. I think that’s the more serious of the two matters because the first is a specific transaction that was wrong … it appears it was wrong anyway … we may hear more evidence next week that may change my mind on it. But the obstruction is utterly clear. They didn’t allow a single document, a single witness, and my worry is, if he’s absolved on that point, that will be the largest transfer of power from the Congress to the Executive in the history of this country. Because not only will impeachment be a dead letter, but I don’t know how you do oversight of executive agencies if the President is empowered, and the Congress has said if they acquit him on article two, that it’s okay to just stiff-arm Congress. You want to investigate how we ran the Fast and Furious program? Forget it; we’re not going to give you anything. You don’t like the decision we made on whatever it is … I mean, do they really want to give future presidents … because some day there will be a president of the other party, whether it will be this time or the next time or the next time … but do they really want to give future presidents that amount of power? The shocking thing to me is the way Congress in this situation is absolutely abdicating its own authority. The Framers thought our institutional loyalty and jealousy and rivalry would hold each other in check. In this case, Congress is rolling over and handing as I said the most power to the President in one shot that we’ve ever seen in our history.
Me: King believes that the evidence is conclusive about the “abuse of power” article surrounding what he refers to “the transaction,” i.e., the allegation of a quid pro quo for release of aid to Ukraine. But, he discloses what he really thinks in stating that he could hear more evidence next week that could change his mind. That’s an interesting statement! The reality would appear to be that he heard some things on Saturday that gave him some doubts about the Democrat managers’ case on abuse of power. Then, King goes off the deep end in claiming that “obstruction is clear.” Nonsense! The House Democrats chose not to litigate through the courts about witnesses and documents for political reasons because they didn’t want to spend the time necessary to go through the process. The Democrats completely disregarded constitutional procedures in their rush to impeachment, including the early submission of invalid subpoenas, as the President’s legal team pointed out. King further implies that, if the President isn’t removed from Congress for “obstruction of Congress,” then the Senate will have transferred power to the president that will somehow never be re-balanced, and that all future presidents will be able to get away with refusing congressional requests for documents and witness testimony for anything. That’s patently ridiculous! The Senate is supposed to remove the President for actions that were neither impeachable (as constitutional scholars Jonathan Turley and Alan Dershowitz have both clearly stated) nor proven (the Democrats’ case for obstruction would deny the President due process and destroy his executive privilege rights) simply because King is concerned about a fictitious “transfer of power” from Congress to the President? Someone needs to ask King about due process and executive privilege and whether either is a legitimate concern. And what the heck was his reference to Fast and Furious all about? What does he think Obama did if not stiff-arm congressional requests for documents and witnesses that ultimately resulted in his own attorney general becoming the first AG ever to be held in contempt of Congress for refusing to comply with those requests? That’s cray-cray. The Senate won’t be “rolling over,” Senator; they will be voting on the facts, including the absence of evidence that the President committed impeachable crimes.
Senator King isn’t an “independent” based on his comments made here. To the contrary, he is masquerading as such while repeating the Democrat Party line and even attempting to advance it with new ideas (“adverse inference”). He has made it clear that he will vote to convict regardless of what transpires further in the Senate impeachment trial.
As rational observers have seen over the past few days, the Democrat managers have not made the case beyond a reasonable doubt for either of their charges of abuse of power or obstruction of Congress. The President’s legal team has already poked some major holes in the Democrats’ allegations, and we will certainly hear more details in the days ahead. At this point, it would appear that the Senate will vote to acquit the President, and the Democrats will claim for their crass political purposes that it was just a cover-up. That’s all they’ve got at this point.