HACK: CBS’s Pelley Worships at the Feet of Pelosi, Schiff, But Badgers McCarthy

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For a network that started Sunday with Jane Pauley’s pillow-fluffing interview of Hillary and Chelsea Clinton then Margaret Brennan being tougher on Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) than she was a week earlier with Iran’s Javad Zarif, CBS ended Sunday with a 60 Minutes piece by Scott Pelley that worshipped at the feet of the pro-impeachment crowd. 

While Pelley allowed his liberal guests to speak ad nauseam, he was abrasive and frequently interrupted and bashed to the President and the only person he interviewed against impeachment, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA).

 

 

Pelley’s lead story began with a claim about the anonymous whistleblower’s fear for safety that one of their attorneys disputed (click “expand”):

Tonight, 60 Minutes has obtained a letter that indicates the government whistleblower who set off the impeachment inquiry of President Trump is under federal protection, because he or she fears for their safety. These rapidly developing events began Tuesday when Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi ordered the investigation based on a phone call between Mr. Trump and the President of Ukraine. President Volodymyr Zelensky asked Mr. Trump for missiles, Mr. Trump asks Zelensky for “a favor” to investigate Mr. Trump's Democratic rivals. Democrats say this is the type of collusion that was the focus of the Mueller investigation and it appears Washington will be immobilized by this the 13 months before election day. President Trump says he is the victim of a “democratic smear,” “crooked media,” and “treasonous spies.” Tonight we will hear from the man in charge of the investigation, the President's lead defender in Congress and Speaker Pelosi who, for months, resisted impeachment. 

The CBS journalist led off with two Pelosi soundbites, stringing together 10 sentences only interrupted with a short allusion to the timeline of events and a softball question inquiring about what the President told her on a phone call last week.

Within that answer, Tammy Bruce and Congresswoman Liz Cheney (R-WY) said it raised questions as to when Pelosi actually became aware of this complaint that’s caused the left to charge forward with impeachment.

Tut-tutting that “the facts are these,” Pelley read portions of the July 25 phone call between the President and Ukraine’s Volodymyr Zelensky, going as far as to note that Trump brought up the “favor” and then the question about Crowdstrike. It was only a few moments later that Pelley pivoted to claiming that the “favor” pertained to Biden.

As my colleague Nick Fondacaro has noted, broadcast and cable networks spent days last week muddying the waters.

In his time with Schiff, the softballs were plentiful. Here’s his questions to Schiff (click “expand”):

Where does your committee take this from here? What's the procedure? 

(....)

Do you expect the testimony of the whistleblower? 

(....)

Your committee already has an agreement with the whistleblower that he will testify? 

(....)

Will you call Rudy Giuliani? 

(....)

The President has suggested that the people behind this are spies and perhaps guilty of treason. 

(....)

Your Republican colleagues say, “we just went through this — that the Mueller report was inconclusive, you drug the country through this for two years and now we're going to do this again?”

But when it came time for McCarthy, Pelley feigned outrage about McCarthy’s arguments, going so far as to claiming he was sorry to interrupt him so much but he felt the need to accuse him of merely reading from White House talking points (click “expand”):

MCCARTHY: When I read the transcript, I see two leaders having admiration, not intimidation. 

PELLEY: What do you make of this exchange? President Zelensky says, “We are almost ready to buy more javelins from the United States for defense purposes.” And President Trump replies, “I would like you to do us a favor though.”

MCCARTHY: You just added another word. 

PELLEY: No, it's in the transcript. 

MCCARTHY: He said, “I'd like you to do a favor though?” 

PELLEY: Yes, it's in the — it’s in the White House transcript. 

MCCARTHY: When I read the transcript — when I read the transcript, President Zelensky brings up a javelin is a protection for anti-tank, something that President Obama would not sell that President Trump did to protect the Ukraine. 

PELLEY: How do you expect the President's defense to roll out going forward? 

MCCARTHY: The defense of what? 

PELLEY: Well, there's an impeachment inquiry. 

MCCARTHY: Yeah. There's an impeach inquiry going forward. It probably never would move forward, had the Speaker waited 48 hours to have the transcript. We vote on important things every day, but there are certain votes that are different than others. Sending men and women off to war is the most difficult vote any member of Congress would ever make. 

PELLEY: I'll ask you again, how does the defense of the President, in your view, roll out from here? 

MCCARTHY: Why would we move forward with impeachment? There's not something that you have to defend here. 

PELLEY: You say the President has done nothing wrong. I take that to mean that you find it appropriate that the President asked Mr. Zelensky for an investigation of his Democratic rivals. 

MCCARTHY: The question before the House of Representatives is to impeach the President based upon a phone call that the Speaker never even heard. It’s a transcript.

PELLEY: Mr. Leader, with great respect to you, and I apologize for interrupting, but these are the White House talking points that were emailed to the Congress earlier this week. 

MCCARTHY: Well, I'll be very clear with —

PELLEY: And I am asking you was it appropriate for the President to ask for investigations of his Democratic rivals with another foreign leader? 

MCCARTHY: I've never seen one talking point from a White House. I'm talking to you based upon the most important facts we have. The whistleblower wasn't on the call. The I.G., inspector general, didn't read the call, but you and I have all the information we need. The President did nothing in this phone call that's impeachable.

Ah, yes. So those against impeachment are pushing Trump “talking points,” but the left going rabid about impeachment are truth tellers concerned for the country? Got it.

Parroting Democrats as merely “investigators,” Pelley suggested without evidence of a quid pro quo because “Vice President Pence cancelled plans to attend Zelensky's inauguration” and “[t]hen, President Trump suspended nearly $400 million in aid to Ukraine that Congress had authorized.” 

If Pelley had tried to connect those dots regarding the Bidens instead of deem Hunter Biden’s activities all well and good, he would have surely been derided by CNN and others as a conspiracy theorist.

The interview concluded with more Pelosi questions. Both showed how unserious Pelley was about pressing those worshiping the golden calf of impeachment:

Your Republican colleagues say, “well, the call is the call, but there's nothing here that rises to the level of high crimes and misdemeanors.”

(....)

What is your message to the White House in terms of cooperation? 

To see the relevant transcript from CBS’s 60 Minutes on September 30, click “expand.”

CBS’s 60 Minutes
September 30, 2019
7:46 p.m. Eastern [TEASE]

HOUSE SPEAKER NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): I came to the conclusion that we could not ignore what the President did. He gave us no choice. 

PRESIDENT DONALD Trump: It’s a joke. 

SCOTT PELLEY: An impeachment inquiry of President Trump begins this week. 

HOUSE MINORITY LEADER KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): There should be a way of stopping it. 

PELLEY: You'll hear from his chief defender in the House, as well as the man leading the investigation. [TO SCHIFF] Your Republican colleagues also say, we just went through this. The Mueller report was inconclusive, you drug the country through this for two years and now we're going to do this again? Tonight, a roadmap to the impeachment inquiry. 

(....)

7:52 p.m. Eastern

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: The Impeachment Inquiry]

PELLEY: Tonight, 60 Minutes has obtained a letter that indicates the government whistleblower who set off the impeachment inquiry of President Trump is under federal protection, because he or she fears for their safety. These rapidly developing events began Tuesday when Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi ordered the investigation based on a phone call between Mr. Trump and the President of Ukraine. President Volodymyr Zelensky asked Mr. Trump for missiles, Mr. Trump asks Zelensky for “a favor” to investigate Mr. Trump's Democratic rivals. Democrats say this is the type of collusion that was the focus of the Mueller investigation and it appears Washington will be immobilized by this the 13 months before election day. President Trump says he is the victim of a “democratic smear,” “crooked media,” and “treasonous spies.” Tonight we will hear from the man in charge of the investigation, the President's lead defender in Congress and Speaker Pelosi who, for months, resisted impeachment. 

PELOSI: We could not ignore what the President did. He gave us no choice, so it wasn't any change of mind. I always said we will follow the facts where they take us and when we see them, we will be ready and we are ready. 

PELLEY: Early last week, details of the President's phone call filtered out in the press. As some at the capitol called for impeachment, Mr. Trump phoned Speaker Pelosi to reassure her about the call with Zelensky. [TO PELOSI] He told you about the phone call? 

PELOSI: He told me it was perfect. There was nothing in the call, but I know what was in the call. I mean, it was in the public domain. He didn't even know that it was wrong. You know, he was saying, “it was perfect. There was nothing wrong.” Well, no, it is wrong. It is wrong for a President to say that he wants you — another head of state — to create something negative about his possible political opponent to his own advantage, at the expense of our national security, his oath of office to the Constitution and the integrity of our elections. 

PELLEY: The facts are these: On July 25, Mr. Trump was celebrating his new defense secretary in public, but two hours before he spoke with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Zelensky was interested in Javelin anti-tank missiles to defend himself from Russian-backed rebels. This is the official White House record of the call. Zelensky, “we are almost ready to buy more javelins from the United States for defense purposes.” Mr. Trump replied, “I would like you to do us a favor though.” Mr. Trump then asked Zelensky to investigate a theory about a supposed Democratic National Committee computer server. “The server,” Mr. Trump said, “they say Ukraine has it.” He offered the assistance of the U.S. government. “I would like to have the attorney general call you or your people and I would like you to get to the bottom of it.” The call came to light after a U.S. intelligence official heard about it and filed an official government whistleblower complaint. The unnamed intelligence officer writes, “I have received information from multiple U.S. government officials that the President of the United States is using the power of his office to solicit interference from a foreign country in the 2020 U.S. election.”

CONGRESSMAN ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): Here is our ally, here is Ukraine, struggling militarily to fight off Russian aggression struggling to be a democracy and what is the President telling Ukraine through his words and his deeds. 

PELLEY: Democrat Adam Schiff is chairman of the House Intelligence Committee — in charge of the investigation. [TO SCHIFF] Where does your committee take this from here? What's the procedure? 

SCHIFF: Well, we have a pretty good roadmap — thanks to the courage of this whistleblower. The complaint sets out any number of witnesses, any number of documents that we need to seek. 

PELLEY [TO SCHIFF]: Do you expect the testimony of the whistleblower? 

SCHIFF: Absolutely. 

PELLEY [TO SCHIFF]: Your committee already has an agreement with the whistleblower that he will testify? 

SCHIFF: We have an agreement that he or she will testify, yes. 

PELLEY: Schiff told us that part of his focus is the President's personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, who has been encouraging Ukraine to investigate Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden. Giuliani denies any wrongdoing. [TO SCHIFF] Will you call Rudy Giuliani? 

SCHIFF: We're gonna need evidence from Rudy Giuliani and it's our intention as soon as first thing next week to subpoena him for documents and there may very well come a time where we wanna hear from him directly. 

PELLEY: Giuliani asked Ukraine to investigate hunter Biden, the former vice President's son, who was on the board of a Ukrainian company that was under investigation there. No evidence surfaced that Hunter Biden did anything illegal, but, during the Obama administration, Vice President Biden pressured Ukraine to fire its prosecutor general — a man western governments considered to be corrupt. This left the Biden's with, at least, the appearance of a conflict of interest. In his call with President Zelensky, Mr. Trump said, “The other thing, there's a lot of talk about Biden's son, that Biden stopped the prosecution and a lot of people want to find out about that so whatever you can do with the Attorney General would be great.” U.S. Attorney General William Barr has denied being involved. 

MCCARTHY: When I read the transcript, I see two leaders having admiration, not intimidation. 

PELLEY: Kevin McCarthy is the leader of House Republicans and heading the effort in the House against impeachment. [TO MCCARTHY] What do you make of this exchange? President Zelensky says, “We are almost ready to buy more javelins from the United States for defense purposes.” And President Trump replies, “I would like you to do us a favor though.”

MCCARTHY: You just added another word. 

PELLEY: No, it's in the transcript. 

MCCARTHY: He said, “I'd like you to do a favor though?” 

PELLEY: Yes, it's in the — it’s in the White House transcript. 

MCCARTHY: When I read the transcript — when I read the transcript, President Zelensky brings up a javelin is a protection for anti-tank, something that President Obama would not sell that President Trump did to protect the Ukraine. 

PELLEY [TO MCCARTHY]: How do you expect the President's defense to roll out going forward? 

MCCARTHY: The defense of what? 

PELLEY [TO MCCARTHY]: Well, there's an impeachment inquiry. 

MCCARTHY: Yeah. There's an impeach inquiry going forward. It probably never would move forward, had the Speaker waited 48 hours to have the transcript. We vote on important things every day, but there are certain votes that are different than others. Sending men and women off to war is the most difficult vote any member of Congress would ever make. 

PELLEY [TO MCCARTHY]: I'll ask you again, how does the defense of the President, in your view, roll out from here? 

MCCARTHY: Why would we move forward with impeachment? There's not something that you have to defend here. 

PELLEY [TO MCCARTHY]: You say the President has done nothing wrong. I take that to mean that you find it appropriate that the President asked Mr. Zelensky for an investigation of his Democratic rivals. 

MCCARTHY: The question before the House of Representatives is to impeach the President based upon a phone call that the Speaker never even heard. It’s a transcript.

PELLEY [TO MCCARTHY]: Mr. Leader, with great respect to you, and I apologize for interrupting, but these are the White House talking points that were emailed to the Congress earlier this week. 

MCCARTHY: Well, I'll be very clear with —

PELLEY [TO MCCARTHY]: And I am asking you was it appropriate for the President to ask for investigations of his Democratic rivals with another foreign leader? 

MCCARTHY: I've never seen one talking point from a White House. I'm talking to you based upon the most important facts we have. The whistleblower wasn't on the call. The I.G., inspector general, didn't read the call, but you and I have all the information we need. The President did nothing in this phone call that's impeachable. 

PELLEY: According to the whistleblower complaint, “White House officials understood the gravity of what had transpired in the call.” The whistleblower says he was the of call was removed from the usual computer system to “a separate electronic system that is otherwise used to store and handle classified information of an especially sensitive nature.” Wednesday, the day of the record of the call was revealed, Mr. Trump met in New York, face-to-face with the man on the other end of the phone, Ukrainian President Zelensky. Zelensky was asked if he felt pressured. 

PRESIDENT ZELENSKY: It was normal. We spoke about many things and I, so I think, and you read it that nobody push it — pushed me. Yes.

TRUMP: In other words no pressure. [REPORTERS SHOUTING] You know what? There was no pressure and, by the way, you know there was no pressure, all you have to do is see it what went on in the call. 

PELLEY: But it's not just the call. Investigators believe White House pressure began months before. Vice President Pence cancelled plans to attend Zelensky's inauguration. Then, President Trump suspended nearly $400 million in aid to Ukraine that congress had authorized. Against this backdrop, the President asked for “the favor.” 

TRUMP: I didn't threaten anybody. 

PELLEY: The impeachment inquiry began while Mr. Trump was meeting world leaders in new York.

TRUMP: It's all a hoax, folks. It's all a big hoax and the witch hunt continues, but they're getting hit hard in this witch hunt because when they look at the information, it's a joke. Impeachment? For that? 

PELLEY: When Mr. Trump visited America's U.N. staff, it appeared he threatened whoever revealed the call. 

TRUMP: I want to know who's the person who gave the whistleblower — who's the person who gave the whistleblower the information? Because that's close to a spy. You know what we used to do in the old days when we were smart, right? These spies and treason, we used to handle it a little differently than we do now. 

PELLEY: The President's remarks prompted the whistleblower's lawyers, this weekend, to send a letter to the acting director of national intelligence. They thank the director for activating “appropriate resources” to ensure their client's safety. They write that “certain individuals” are offering a “$50,000 bounty” for their client's identity. [TO SCHIFF] The President has suggested that the people behind this are spies and perhaps guilty of treason. 

SCHIFF: It's hard to describe how dangerous and loathsome that invitation to violence is. 

PELLEY: Adam Schiff hopes to begin hearing witnesses this week. [TO SCHIFF] Your Republican colleagues say, “we just went through this — that the Mueller report was inconclusive, you drug the country through this for two years and now we're going to do this again?”

SCHIFF: After the last two years that we've been through, the President well understood that it was illegal to seek foreign assistance in a campaign and immediately after Mueller testified, that is exactly what he was back at doing again. 

PELLEY: Special Counsel Robert Mueller testified about his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election on July 24. Mr. Trump's call with Zelensky was the next morning. [TO MCCARTHY] Will any Republican vote in favor of impeachment, in your view? 

MCCARTHY: Having seen the transcripts, having listened to my conference, I haven't heard one member from any element inside there tell me this rises to impeachment. 

PELLEY: Since our interview, one Republican representative, Mark Amodei, announced support for the impeachment inquiry. Amodei was chair of the Trump 2016 election campaign in Nevada. [TO PELOSI] Your Republican colleagues say, “well, the call is the call, but there's nothing here that rises to the level of high crimes and misdemeanors.”

PELOSI: Well, they're wrong and it remains to be seen, because it's not just what happens in the call. It's part of the sequencing of events as well. You withdraw a couple hundred million dollars-worth of assistance to a country and then a couple days later, say, “by the way, can you help me with my campaign.” In other words, there's a sequencing there. 

PELLEY [TO PELOSI]: What is your message to the White House in terms of cooperation? 

PELOSI: To the White House? Speak the truth. Honor your oath of office to the Constitution of the United States. Speak the truth and let us work together to have this be a unifying experience, not a dividing one for our country. Don't make this any worse than it already is. 

PELLEY: The Trump administration appointed a veteran U.S. diplomat as special envoy to Ukraine. Kurt Volker put Mr. Trump's lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, in touch with Ukrainian officials. Volker abruptly resigned on Friday. He's expected to testify to the committee.

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