ABC Split: Panelists Admit Nothing Changed, But George Frets More Aren’t Listening to Dems

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After a Wednesday morning and lunch break on ABC that boasted Democrats were “serious” and U.S. Ambassador Bill Taylor was like Walter Cronkite, the post-hearing coverage led a few panelists to painstakingly concede that the hearings of Taylor and Assistant Secretary of State George Kent would not change anyone’s minds about impeachment.

On the other hand, there was a hilarious back-and-forth with former Clinton official/chief anchor George Stephanopoulos and senior national correspondent Terry Moran to bemoan how more haven’t crossed over to call for Trump’s removal because they’re too blinded by Trump’s “version of American populism.”

 

 

Just after the 3:47 p.m. Eastern mark, Stephanopoulos ironically admitted that “part of me is wondering, to what extent facts do matter any more in our public debate” since “[a] strong fact pattern is laid out there” against Trump by Democrats and both parties on the Hill have “harden[ed] up.”

Moran said “that’s a great point and I think at some point, evidence will matter if there's enough of it on either side, but when you touch on is what I felt in there, not just a partisan divide but a cultural divide.”

He then unspooled his argument, gushing that Democrats have such great “paradigms, of the American establishments, of the institutions and the values which have carried the country forward” while insinuating Trump supporters have had their views clouded (click “expand”):

The cultural divide, which based on the fundamental political fact of our time. President Trump and his version of American populism. You could see it and you could sense it in the personalities and the demeanors and the styles of questioning of the members themselves. You know the Democrats brought forward these witnesses, paradigms, of the American establishments, of the institutions and the values which have carried the country forward, at home and around the world for decades. And Adam Schiff at the end spoke about the future of the presidency, that institution, essentially allowing this conduct to be okay, not to impeach upon basis of it would mean for the presidency. Well, for millions of Americans, many voted for Republicans, they’ve lost trust in those institutions and — and you hear and sense an anti-institutional, you know, the person that they trust is Donald Trump. And he's a person and he's trumping the institutional values that are being championed in there. That is what that divide is and I don’t see it budging.

Otherwise, the coverage was, to reiterate, not exactly Resistance fan fiction. Chief legal analyst Dan Abrams served as the bearer of bad news for Democrats. 

Taking aim at the logic of Congressman Joaquin Castro (D-TX) regarding how things like attempted murders are still crimes, Abrams noted that, if the issue becomes Democrats “pigeon-hol[ing]” their arguments around attempted bribery, “the Democrats lose.”

Earlier, Abrams led off the post-hearing chatter by praising to the GOP because they questioned and picked at both Kent and Taylor for not having a full picture, but “they did not accuse [them] of being liars.”

Former Congresswoman Barbara Comstock (R-VA) agreed, stating that both sides were “more serious and civil debate than perhaps we expected” with Will Hurd (R-TX), Elise Stefanik (R-NY), and Brad Wenstrup (R-OH) in particular being effective.

With some disappointment, Stephanopoulos and chief White House correspondent Jonathan Karl sighed that Wednesday didn’t provide any signs of “erosion” from the President to House Intel Committee Chair Adam Schiff (D-CA).

As alluded to before, there were a number of admissions that Wednesday didn’t move the needle both in Congress and public opinion. Here were a few of instances of ABCers chiming in (click “expand”):

MARY BRUCE: The question, of course, the big X factor, what do Americans think and how will that move the needle here if at all? Because, of course, this is just what is happening the House right now. There's a huge fight ahead when it comes to the Senate, George.

(....)

STEPHANOPOULOS: There have some findings in our recently polling showing some slight erosion among Republicans of support of President Trump, maybe going from the 80s to the 70s, but he does have a strong connection to that base. And one of the things, if you look at the last three impeachments, Richard Nixon, Bill Clinton, now to Donald Trump, you do see this evolution, each process getting more partisan.

MATTHEW DOWD: Well, the entire process of Congress has gotten more partisan...I don't expect these hearings to move public opinion much because public opinion has already formed and a majority is already for the impeachment and a majority of the country doesn't trust this President, while he retains his solid block of Republicans. What I think we have to watch and this is an historic moment and I want to emphasize the history of this moment, it’s only fourth time we have gone through the hearing like this is the country is not to look at this like a microwave. The country’s not going to look at this like a microwave. They're going to see this over the totality of the hearings. So, let's not judge what happens on the basis on one hearing.

(....)

COMSTOCK: So I think Dan's right. You didn't see any change today. You saw the outlines of the two arguments and I think the Republican position is going to be whatever was wrong or whatever else might come out, say whether it’s Rudy or Mulvaney or any of those things, it’s not impeachable and unless the public dynamic changes, you know, as Alexander Hamilton said in the federalist papers, this is going to be partisan exercise. Normally, everyone will sort to their own parties and they made impeachment two-thirds, so something that would be beyond just that political sorting.

Going back to Stephanopoulos, he followed in the footsteps of his colleagues at The View when he falsely claimed to ABC News contributor Kate Shaw (and wife of MSNBC’s Chris Hayes) that “it’s illegal to unmask the whistleblower” because he “does have these protections, but it is a strong talking point the Republicans believe.”

Well, guess what? The alleged whistleblower’s name is Eric Ciaramella. So, folks, make sure to have George call the police and have his author arrested!

To see the relevant transcript from ABC’s November 13 coverage of the impeachment hearings, click “expand.”

ABC Impeaching Hearings
November 13, 2019
3:37 p.m. Eastern

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: We clearly saw William Taylor laying out what he believed was a quid pro quo in that first round of questioning. Republicans by end of the hearing had settled on this idea as long as the aid went through, it proves that this is not an impeachable offense.

DAN ABRAMS: Right and so that’s been the heart of the Republicans’ argument. Look watt the end result was and you hear the Democrats saying, but, wait a second, what about the process in between? And of course, in the end, the aid was released after it became clear there was a whistle-blower and everything was about to come out, but I think the one thing the Republicans did well here was they did not accuse the witnesses of being liars. One of the things we wondered coming into this was, are they going to say, “These guys? You can't trust these guys. These guys are liars.” They didn't say that. They didn’t do that. Instead, what they did is they were suggesting either they're exaggerating or they’re dupes.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Might have gotten it wrong.

ABRAMS: They're wrong, those are all possibilities according to them, but they didn't attack them for being, you know, for — for lying.

(....)

3:40 p.m. Eastern

STEPHANOPOULOS: Barbara Comstock, you helped prepare Republicans for the last impeachment hearings, of course a former member of Congress as well. One thing I think Adam Schiff hit the end, which holds for both sides, it was more serious and civil debate than perhaps we expected in this hearing.

BARBARA COMSTOCK: Yeah, no, I think they did behave well. I think the members like Elise Stefanik and — and Will Hurd really did focus on the money going through and the policy wasn't damaged. And actually, one of the interesting things that both they and I believe it was Congressman Wenstrop pointed out that the Trump administration policy toward Ukraine was far better than the Obama administration. So, I think the fact they're looking beyond whatever went on in that gap in between is sort of the no harm, no foul.

STEPHANOPOULOS: President Trump sent the Javelins. President Obama wouldn’t

COMSTOCK: But I think Jim Jordan on that was — he was more hostile to the witnesses and I don’t think that helps long term.

(....)

3:44 p.m. Eastern

STEPHANOPOULOS: One of the things I was struck by, Jon, is that some of the Republican members of congress, like Will Hurd and Mike Turner who, at the first hearing with the director of national intelligence back in September, expressed some concern now falling in line.

JONATHAN KARL: Yeah, largely falling in line. Really the only divide among the Republicans, is you have those who think there was absolutely nothing wrong here, that this was, in the President's words, a perfect call and those who think that it might not have been proper, but it’s certainly not impeachable, but there is no sign of any erosion among Republicans support for the fundamental question of whether or not the President should be impeached for this. I don't see any Republicans stepping forward and saying that publicly.

(....)

3:46 p.m. Eastern

MARY BRUCE: The question, of course, the big X factor, what do Americans think and how will that move the needle here if at all? Because, of course, this is just what is happening the House right now. There's a huge fight ahead when it comes to the Senate, George.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Yeah and I'm going to take that question, thank you, Mary, I’m going to take that question to Terry Moran, part of me is wondering, to what extent facts do matter any more in our public debate? A strong fact pattern is laid out there. We’ve seen a majority of Americans believe that this inquiry should go forward, an investigation should go forward. Close to 50 percent say it should lead to the President’s removal from office, but one of the things that we have seen in recent weeks, even as some Republicans shift on their standard here and the Democrats harden up along their party lines, is the public taking cues from their leaders?

TERRY MORAN: That's a great point. And I think at some point, evidence will matter if there's enough of it on either side. But when you touch on is what I felt in there, not just a partisan divide but a cultural divide. The cultural divide, which based on the fundamental political fact of our time. President Trump and his version of American populism. You could see it and you could sense it in the personalities and the demeanors and the styles of questioning of the members themselves. You know the Democrats brought forward these witnesses, paradigms, of the American establishments, of the institutions and the values which have carried the country forward, at home and around the world for decades. And Adam Schiff at the end spoke about the future of the presidency, that institution, essentially allowing this conduct to be okay, not to impeach upon basis of it would mean for the presidency. Well, for millions of Americans, many voted for Republicans, they’ve lost trust in those institutions and — and you hear and sense an anti-institutional, you know, the person that they trust is Donald Trump. And he's a person and he's trumping the institutional values that are being championed in there. That is what that divide is and I don’t see it budging.

STEPHANOPOULOS: His base has been so strong. Matthew Dowd, I want to bring you in on this. There have some findings in our recently polling showing some slight erosion among Republicans of support of President Trump, maybe going from the 80s to the 70s, but he does have a strong connection to that base. And one of the things, if you look at the last three impeachments, Richard Nixon, Bill Clinton, now to Donald Trump, you do see this evolution, each process getting more partisan.

MATTHEW DOWD: Well, the entire process of congress has gotten more partisan where every side, no matter what the issue is unwilling to cross over and vote on anything that the other side is for. As you know, George, I have said and I wrote yesterday I don't expect these hearings to move public opinion much because public opinion has already formed and a majority is already for the impeachment and a majority of the country doesn't trust this President, while he retains his solid block of Republicans. What I think we have to watch and this is an historic moment and I want to emphasize the history of this moment, it’s only fourth time we have gone through the hearing like this is the country is not to look at this like a microwave. The country’s not going to look at this like a microwave. They're going to see this over the totality of the hearings. So, let's not judge what happens on the basis on one hearing.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Important — important point right there.

(....)

3:52 p.m. Eastern

STEPHANOPOULOS: And I wonder how much this whole debate over the whistleblower is actually real debate. I think that everyone knows it's — it’s illegal to unmask the whistle blower. The whistleblower does have these protections, but it is a strong talking point the Republicans believe.

KATIE SHAW: Right so, you know, it almost seemed like the interest in the point waned over the course of the day. Like by the end of the day, I thought that Nunes, although he returned to it, we need to know the identity of the whistleblower. It sort of felt like his heart wasn't in it. And it’s exactly as Mary said. Absent this all other evidence it might be critical to find some way, you know, to protect the whistle-blower's identity and still to question that person, but the transcript of the foreign call and all of this surrounding testimony renders quite unnecessary, anything direct from the whistle-blower. The whistleblower sent this process in notion and now the question is about the events themselves, not about the phone call. We have the write-up of the phone call. That — that ship has sailed.

(....)

3:55 p.m. Eastern

STEPHANOPOULOS: The fact matter is being clearly laid out, at times the facts weren't even contested all that much over the course — the question I one thing that will lead us toward the end is, as one of the members of Congress was saying is attempted murder a crime? Is — is a president’s attempt to get a foreign nation to investigation an opponent an impeachable offense, even if it doesn’t succeed?

ABRAMS: If that becomes the question, the Democrats lose. I mean, if they are able to just pigeon-hole it around attempt, then I don't think the Democrats are going to be able to go anywhere. What they’re going to have to do is focus on the conduct and not call it an attempt. The Democrats are going to have to say that he had succeeded in holding it up. That — that — that for weeks and weeks, the Ukrainians were wondering what is going on. They were being pressured and — if if that resonates in some way, shape or form, that — that could make a difference. But, look, in the end today, nothing fundamentally changed. I think that the witnesses were credible. I think they were pretty compelling, but I think that's why you saw the Republicans not saying they're lying just trying to — to minimize them. The most important witnesses are going to be the ones who spoke to Donald Trump himself. And that's why, as of right now, Ambassador Sondland becomes that critical link between the President and all of these other people, with regard to executing the President's will because that's where you get his actual words.

(....)

3:57 p.m. Eastern

COMSTOCK: So I think Dan's right. You didn't see any change today. You saw the outlines of the two arguments and I think the Republican position is going to be whatever was wrong or whatever else might come out, say whether it’s Rudy or Mulvaney or any of those things, it’s not impeachable and unless the public dynamic changes, you know, as Alexander Hamilton said in the federalist papers, this is going to be partisan exercise. Normally, everyone will sort to their own parties and they made impeachment two-thirds, so something that would be beyond just that political sorting.

NB Daily Congress Trump Impeachment ABC Video Mary Bruce Terry Moran George Stephanopoulos Jonathan Karl Dan Abrams Donald Trump Adam Schiff Barbara Comstock Elise Stefanik
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