CNN Hails ‘Very Powerful,’ ‘Fact-Based Summary’ From Former MSNBCer Dan Goldman

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Is water wet? Is the sky blue? Will CNN be moved by every single word uttered by liberals at impeachment hearings? These, dear readers, are some of life’s easiest questions.

On Monday morning, the last question arose thanks to CNN’s panel of experts hailing MSNBC analyst-turned-Schiff aide Daniel Goldman for having delivered “[a]n extremely dense and fact-based summary” for impeaching President Trump that proved to be “very, very powerful.” 

“We heard a very, very powerful statement from Daniel Goldman, the majority counsel for the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence making the case that the President of the United States abused his power and should be impeached,” host Wolf Blitzer exclaimed, moments after the House Judiciary Committee gaveled into a break.

 

 

Chief legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin concurred, stating Goldman provided “[a]n extremely dense and fact-based summary of the evidence that the intelligence committee heard.”

Chief political correspondent Dana Bash ruled that while impeachment (and removal) “always has been a very tough sell to change public opinion that has already been baked in...but it's important and it is fascinating to hear how each side after all of this testimony.”

Legal analyst Ross Garber praised Goldman, but fretted that it wasn’t as compelling as it could have been. Instead, he suggested it could have been presented as a documentary to capture the minds of the American people.

After political analyst David Gregory praised Goldman for making the case that, in Gregory’s words, not ridding the country of Trump would “poison” the 2020 election. Gregory ruled that he found that argument “compelling” and “very significant.” Bleh.

Liberal CNN presidential historian Tim Naftali followed the arguments made previously on CNN that Democrats are fully engaging in facts while Republicans are not. 

In addition, he lobbied for impeachment because it’s unclear whether or not Trump has acted toward other countries in the way he has with Ukraine (click “expand”):

Since this is not a court of law, I think story-telling is important and I felt we had two different stories today. One is the story about a pattern of corruption on the part of a President who has been misusing institutions, not misusing them because the policies are wrong, but misusing them by not remembering that the goal of the institutions is to do the national interest not personal interest and then the other picture is a pattern of impeachment. The argument being made by the President's loyalists that there are a group of Democrats who have been trying to impeach him from day one. These are two fundamentally different stories. The Republican story doesn't deal with the facts of the Democratic story and the facts of the Democratic story are the reason why this is a real impeachment. 

(....)

I was just going to say that for — for — for viewers and others wondering why do we care so much about Ukraine...If Donald Trump did this with regard to Ukraine, how many other foreign policy issues is he managing in the same way? What do we know from the way he managed Ukraine from all the testimony....He doesn't know much about the issues. The only reason he cared about this country was how it would assist him in 2020. Imagine if that's how he's dealing with Turkey. Imagine if that's how he's dealing with Russia. Imagine if that's how he's dealing with Israel. Imagine if that's how he's dealing with Syria or North Korea. The pattern of the way in which the President has undertaken national security issues illustrated in the Ukraine situation suggests abuse of power.

Toobin pushed back on the latter statement, noting that Naftali was making a political argument about why someone should be impeached for being “a bad President, which is a good subject for the 2020 campaign” when, instead, it should be tailored to the President’s actions on this case involving Ukraine.

To see the relevant transcript from CNN’s impeachment coverage on December 9, click “expand.”

CNN Impeachment Hearings
December 9, 2019
11:30 p.m. Eastern

WOLF BLITZER: Let's talk right now about what we just heard. We heard a very, very powerful statement from Daniel Goldman, the majority counsel for the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence making the case that the President of the United States abused his power and should be impeached. 

JEFFREY TOOBIN: An extremely dense and fact-based summary of the evidence that the intelligence committee heard. I’d just like to make one observation about this. I know it's a lot to absorb, but one point that I thought Daniel Goldman made very well was that the President didn't want an investigation of the — Hunter Biden's role in Ukraine. He wanted the announcement of an investigation. In other words, the President wanted to be able to say during the upcoming campaign that the Biden family was under investigation. He didn't know. He didn't care whether Biden himself did anything wrong, but the announcement of the investigation — and that's one thing that comes through in all of the testimony, the emails that were disclosed, the witness testimony, that the President and the people doing his bidding were not concerned about an actual investigation.

(....)

11:33 p.m. Eastern

DANA BASH: But more broadly, look, this is and always has been a very tough sell to change public opinion that has already been baked in now for several months, but it's important and it is fascinating to hear how each side after all of this testimony, after all of, you know, the witnesses behind closed doors, what we heard in public, how they boil it down in a way that presents their case and for Daniel Goldman, it is very clear, as you said at the beginning, it's abuse of power. It's that he's a clear and present danger.

DAVID GREGORY: Right. 

BASH:  To the American public and to democracy and on the other side just to boil it down, one of the words that I think sums up what Castor said, the Republican, is it's baloney. 

(....)

11:34 p.m. Eastern

ROSS GARBER: I think sometimes we try to talk about whether impeachment is legal or it's political. The reality is it's both. It's mostly political, but it's also legal. You know, I thought Barry Berke and Dan Goldman did a very good job of sort of laying out the case in pretty simple terms as Jeffrey noted, this is some dense stuff and pretty simple terms, sort of what the — what the — the Democratic case is. I do think, though, that they missed an opportunity to do that in a way that's compelling for the public. You know, maybe public opinion is baked in but that's a big problem if that's true for the Democrats because so far, you know, there's not overwhelming support, for impeachment. 

BASH: How could they have done it so it was more compelling? What would you have done? 

GARBER: I think one way to do it is think about the most compelling documentary that you've seen that touches you both intellectually and emotionally and use those techniques. 

TOOBIN: Music?

GARBER: Maybe not music. Maybe. Probably not music, but much more video, much more graphics, much more pictures, and then narrating over that, telling the compelling story. This ain't court. I said it before. It's not court. This is about telling the public the story that compels them that the removal of a president, this extraordinary event which has never happened ever in United States history for the first time should happen. That's what this is all about and it's not going to be sort of lawyerly nicety that are going to get there. 

CARRIE CORDERO: On Ross's point, I thought actually one of the most effective moments of Mr. Goldman's testimony was when he did put up a quote and they put it up on the screen and it was a quote from Putin and it talked about how Russia's benefit that the Republicans and others and those in America are using this Ukrainian responsibility talking point and I thought that was a very effective way to counter the information and the theory really which is a conspiracy theory that Ukraine is somehow responsible at the same level that Russia is, but I also thought at the very end of Mr. Goldman's testimony he went through four key points and his last one really is the reason why we're here, which is that the President continues to solicit foreign interference in the election and that is so key because even though that — it's an on going act, for example, the President's lawyer has been in Ukraine this past week, it's an on-going issue that the President continues to solicit Ukrainian interference in some way, that he is open to foreign interference or elections and we're coming up on an election. 

GREGORY: And I thought this issue of time is what was really hit hard by the Democratic counsel here. Why do this and why do it now? Why? Because you heard Mr. Goldman say the President is an imminent threat, poses an imminent threat to the integrity of our election in 2020. The counter argument to that by the Republicans is it's a rush by the Democrats because they have a political calendar they don't want to be trying to push out a president remove him in an election year when the voters have their say, but I thought that point about putting Zelensky in a box, by just getting the announcement and that he is trying to do, they're saying that the President is trying to do what Russia did in 2016 which is poison the election. That's a very significant charge. I thought it was a compelling charge. 

TIM NAFTALI: Since this is not a court of law, I think story-telling is important and I felt we had two different stories today. One is the story about a pattern of corruption on the part of a President who has been misusing institutions, not misusing them because the policies are wrong, but misusing them by not remembering that the goal of the institutions is to do the national interest not personal interest and then the other picture is a pattern of impeachment. The argument being made by the President's loyalists that there are a group of Democrats who have been trying to impeach him from day one. These are two fundamentally different stories. The Republican story doesn't deal with the facts of the Democratic story and the facts of the Democratic story are the reason why this is a real impeachment. We could — look, we can — I can show you in the Nixon case, there were lots of people talking about impeaching Nixon for years, but the Democratic leadership didn't want to do it and the American people didn't want it. It was only when the evidence required it that there was a discussion. Well, the Ukraine matter was the evidence that required a discussion about abuse of power and what's disappointing is that the Republicans are not taking this time to be serious about this issue and to contend with it. Make the argument that what the President did was wrong but not impeachable. 

(....)

11:47 p.m. Eastern

NAFTALI: I was just going to say that for — for — for viewers and others wondering why do we care so much about Ukraine? There is a very important — a series of important reasons and Dr. Hill mentioned them, Ambassador Taylor, but let's talk about Ukraine. If Donald Trump did this with regard to Ukraine, how many other foreign policy issues is he managing in the same way? What do we know from the way he managed Ukraine from all the testimony? He never really learned his brief. He doesn't know much about the issues. The only reason he cared about this country was how it would assist him in 2020. Imagine if that's how he's dealing with Turkey. Imagine if that's how he's dealing with Russia. Imagine if that's how he's dealing with Israel. Imagine if that's how he's dealing with Syria or North Korea. The pattern of the way in which the President has undertaken national security issues illustrated in the Ukraine situation suggests abuse of power. That's the issue. 

TOOBIN: But what you're talking about are whether Donald Trump is a good President or a bad President, which is a good subject for the 2020 campaign. What makes this an impeachment is whether there is actually proof of abuse of power here and I think — Nancy Pelosi has been very outspoken on this particular issue and I think it really is important to draw that distinction between policy issues, where you know, he's — what he's doing in Israel or Saudi Arabia. 

NAFTALI: I agree. 

TOOBIN: Versus Ukraine, which is a very different scenario. 

NAFTALI: No, no, no, I agree. I'm not relitigating Madison versus — the issue is, no, you don't impeach for being a bad President. You don't impeach for bad policy, but I'm suggesting that what you see in the treatment of Ukraine is a President whose only consideration is his own personal political future. That is a misuse of our institutions. 

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