Smug: CNN’s Avlon Says Trump Letter Will Cause Questions About His ‘Mental State’

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Who died and made CNN senior political analyst/supercilious wingnut John Avlon the bearer of what’s right, wrong, partisan, and non-partisan? Well, apparently his smug, ruling class attitude and lectures to flyover country was on-brand for CNN and boss Jeffrey Zucker. 

On Tuesday afternoon’s CNN Newsroom, Avlon proclaimed that the President’s “embarrassing” letter responding to his impending impeachment would cause Republican Senators to raise questions about his “mental state.” Ah, so Avlon decided to play psychiatrist!

Avlon first stated that the letter was “an unhinged rant from the President of the United States on White House letterhead” and “the definition of not presidential.” Instead, Trump was both “venting his spleen in public” and “embarrassing.”

 

 

Speaking to host and liberal yes-person Brooke Baldwin, Avlon then channeled his inner Brian Stelter by pontificating about the President’s health (click “expand”):

AVLON: He made the job of the senators there who are going to defend him in the Republican Party much more difficult because you can't read this letter and say this is simply a difference in communication. This is — this is a tantrum being done on White House letterhead, and he lied to the American people again, when he said we weren't permitted to have legal representation. They refused it. He said this thing is a hoax, a sham. It's a constitutional process. This is enshrined in the Constitution. Don't forget that. He's making the situation worse. He's getting emotional gratification out of venting his spleen but he is debasing the office of president and senators who read this are going to be concerned about his mental state — 

BALDWIN: Yes!

AVLON: — in private. 

At the end of the 2:00 p.m. Eastern hour, Avlon was still dripping with Obama-like smugness, suggesting that moderate Republicans will “have to look at their conscience” (read: vote to remove Trump or else). He added that Trump’s fiery letter must not be “noramalize[d]” because “[t]his is the office held by Washington and Lincoln.”

He went on to praise Bill Clinton’s handling of impeachment, which didn’t square with the comments above since Clinton had been engaging in sexual activities inside the White House, while Trump had a phone call that, to be generous, some would argue didn’t square with how they would have behaved.

Before the letter, Avlon was on-set, serving as judge and jury for all things civil and true like he did on Monday trying to shame Republicans as unholy (click “expand”):

This is, the tone of the tenor is below the significance of the moment. This is a solemn and significant moment but that has been a partisan food fight. I don't mean partisan versus Republicans and Democrats although it's that, too. You’ve still got an angry irritated occasionally talking and shouting over —at — shouting each other insistence that facts exist or facts don't matter and that's really troubling cause we need to be able to reason together. You know, Julie made the point you're not contesting underlying facts, but the deflections and the trying to draw attention elsewhere or saying that the facts don't exist that's sufficient. The argument should be about, here's the facts. We can agree that they exist. We can disagree on whether it rises to level of impeachment and we haven't been having that level of adult conversation in that room. 

(....)

Impartial justice is the oath they're going to take and they and he is the leader coming from the top saying they're going to disregard that oath and that's a real problem. This is about — this is about our democratic respect for law and order and you can't have people entrusted with those things say they're going to flout them for partisan purposes and that's what's happening right now. 

(....)

[T]his does requires us as Barbara Jordan said during the Watergate hearings to be big rather than small. Right now, you’ve got a lot of people being small in the final lap. 

And for good measure, Avlon reveled in the claim by liberal media-pleasing Republicans Jeff Flake and Mike Murphy that between 30 or 35 Republicans would vote to impeach Trump if the process were done in secret. So, that shows you who Avlon thinks was an authoritative voice on the “right.”

He also lectured Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) as disgraceful for refusing to hear more witnesses and information at the Senate trial, but thought differently in 1998. Avlon alluded to Minority Leader Chuck Schumer’s change from 1998 and 1999, but when you’re a hack like Avlon, liberal flips are minor inconveniences.

To see the relevant transcript from December 17's CNN Newsroom with Brooke Baldwin, click “expand.”

CNN Newsroom with Brooke Baldwin
December 17, 2019
2:06 p.m. Eastern

BROOKE BALDWIN: Before we talk tomorrow, because tomorrow obviously is historic. In terms of today's hearing, John, what do you think of what we've seen so far? 

JOHN AVLON: This is, the tone of the tenor is below the significance of the moment. This is a solemn and significant moment but that has been a partisan food fight. I don't mean partisan versus Republicans and Democrats although it's that, too. You’ve still got an angry irritated occasionally talking and shouting over —at — shouting each other insistence that facts exist or facts don't matter and that's really troubling cause we need to be able to reason together. You know, Julie made the point you're not contesting underlying facts, but the deflections and the trying to draw attention elsewhere or saying that the facts don't exist that's sufficient. The argument should be about, here's the facts. We can agree that they exist. We can disagree on whether it rises to level of impeachment and we haven't been having that level of adult conversation in that room. 

(....)

2:10 p.m. Eastern

JEFFREY ENGEL: When Senator McConnell was talking about the thin case that the Democrats are making for the impeachment and therefore no need for a real trial, he's not supposed to say that. He may think it, he may already have a vote already in his mind but supposed to acknowledge and respect colleagues across the capitol and do essentially his constitutional role now that they've done theirs. 

BALDWIN: What do you think, Jen? 

JENNIFER RODGERS: I agree 100%. I mean, he’s – he’s not only pre-judging this, but he’s telling everyone he's prejudging it. I mean, he takes an oath as a Senator to uphold the laws. He takes an oath as a juror to impartially consider the evidence here and he's doing nothing of the sort and not only that, he’s saying that I'm going it try to shut it down much as I can so none of my other senator colleagues can do that either. 

BALDWIN: Did you want to jump in?

AVLON; Impartial justice is the oath they're going to take and they and he is the leader coming from the top saying they're going to disregard that oath and that's a real problem. This is about — this is about our democratic respect for law and order and you can't have people entrusted with those things say they're going to flout them for partisan purposes and that's what's happening right now. 

(....)

2:16 p.m. Eastern

BALDWIN: There's so much that we can talk about, but let’s just stop and pause and appreciate the how monumental tomorrow is. The third President ever to be impeached, and what do you expect, both of you, just from Congress tomorrow but also from the white house? 

AVLON: I think the White House will be defiant. Congress will be solemn but partisan. There will be probably attempts to vent spleens, particularly on the Republican side, because the numbers aren't in their favor. The thing to remember, though, tomorrow above all is a day where politics is history in the present tense. Only twice before and while we've had three impeachments or inpeachment inquiries in the last 45 years this is extraordinary and this does requires us as Barbara Jordan said during the Watergate hearings to be big rather than small. Right now, you’ve got a lot of people being small in the final lap. 

(....)

2:19 p.m. Eastern

AVLON: Well, it just reminds me of a key jokes of our time which Mike Murphy, a Republican consultant said a few weeks, if there were a secret ballot for impeachment on Republicans, at least 30 votes to impeach President Trump to which Jeff Flake, the former Senator, said, no, that’s absolutely wrong. You’d have at least 35. [BALDWIN LAUGHS] And I think that is the dynamic between public statements and private sentiment. But so far folks have been really in lock step with the President who's popular with the party even if people privately feel that this is not behavior you want to see with a President and that's the key question I think for tomorrow and the next few days and weeks. Do you believe the President of the United States should get foreign powers to dig up dirt on political rivals? That's the question.

(....)

2:23 p.m. Eastern

AVLON: It's crazy because Mitch McConnell famously described himself as an institutionalist but he's not doing that. 

BALDWIN: Yeah.

AVLON: This is about a moment for principle. Not party politics but that's the game we're seeing and witnesses, which McConnell was very compelling about there and which, by the way, Chuck Schumer on the other side. So, sometimes where you stand isn't a matter where you sit. 

BALDWIN: Exactly.

AVLON: But there is a responsibility to be bigger, and one of the weaknesses of the White House and the Republicans point here is that there are no direct witnesses but they don't want to call the people with direct witnesses, in fact, they’re actively blocking that. That shows you the fundamental substance of the underlying issue. 

(....)

2:33 p.m. Eastern

AVLON: I just want to be really clear. I've read through quickly all six pages. This is unhinged. This is an unhinged rant from the President of the United States on White House letterhead. It's clearly something he dictated at least in part cause it’s got a lot of greatest hit from greatest campaign speeches. The definition of not presidential. He is venting his spleen in public, but with the weight of history behind it and he’s making a series of statements that are both not true, reversals of — of fact of one of his classic moves, project and deflect. We see it over here quoting. He, you know, he’s quoting certain congressmen, cursing. He says you are the ones interfering in America's election, you were be ones subverting America's democracy, you were the ones obstructing justice, you were the ones bringing pain and suffering to the republic for your own selfish personal and political gain. This is the President of the United States dictating to his staff, presumably over their objections and better judgment. This is unhinged. 

(....)

2:40 p.m. Eastern

BALDWIN: You called the President unhinged. Kaitlan’s exactly right. It is a bunch of tweets and all of his greatest hits and then some strung all together and the way he framed it, even though he didn't mention the letter specifically in that press avail, the way he closes this whole letter is, you know, I'm basically doing this to prevent this from happening to any other president to come after me, which is what he just said, which is —

AVLON: Which is the most high-minded argument he can make and it’s also utterly undercut by the total, I’m going to say it again, unhinged and embarrassing nature of this letter. He made the job of the senators there who are going to defend him in the Republican Party much more difficult —

BALDWIN: Much more difficult.

AVLON: — because you can't read this letter and say this is simply a difference in communication. This is — this is a tantrum being done on White House letterhead, and he lied to the American people again, when he said we weren't permitted to have legal representation. They refused it. He said this thing is a hoax, a sham. It's a constitutional process. This is enshrined in the constitution. Don't forget that. He's making the situation worse. He's getting emotional gratification out of venting his spleen but he is debasing the office of president and senators who read this are going to be concerned about his mental state — 

BALDWIN: Yes!

AVLON: — in private. 

(....)

2:52 p.m. Eastern

AVLON: And the Senators like Romney or Cory Gardner or Susan Collins are going to have to look at their conscience as well as to their constituents and to say do we want to throw up a road block before we make our decision? And I’ll say the President is making it worse for himself. Don’t normalize this letter. This is the office held by Washington and Lincoln and he could have handled this as a version of Bill Clinton and compartmentalize it and saying, you know what? This is a partisan side show. I'm not going to get convicted on this or removed by the Senate. I’m going to focus on the economy, what I've done for the American people, delivering the USMCA, like that guy did. Instead, you get this and that’s because this is who he is. 

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