CNN Goes on WARPATH Against ‘Insulting’ Trump Legal Team from a ‘Different Planet’

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In contrast to spending last week as state-run TV for the House impeachment managers, CNN flipped the script Monday afternoon to express predictable anger at President Trump’s “insulting” legal team living “on a different planet than the rest of us” that included a supposedly ineffective and “mind-boggling” case from Ken Starr.

The Lead and State of the Union host Jake Tapper called Starr’s remarks “interesting” and “strange” since it “was almost him defending the Clinton impeachment and almost him defending something that he played a huge part on — part of, or bemoaning, rather, is something he played a huge part in was being in the era of impeachment.”

Of course, President Bill Clinton personally broke the law (among other things), but sure!

 

 

Tapper added that deputy White House counsel Mike Purpura’s role was to “mak[e] an argument on a different planet than the rest of us are now living” and not spend his time alluding to or refuting the John Bolton news. 

And then later in the break, Tapper boosted his resume in the #HackMadness tournament by suggesting that, without evidence, perhaps Fox News wasn’t even going to mention the Bolton news, so good job there, Jake.

Inside Politics host John King was not pleased, complaining that Purpura was “asking those senators” wear “blinder[s] and put in earplugs and do not read the newspaper and no dot talk to your friends and please decide this case of impeaching the President of the United States without any information” if they don’t give Senate Democrats (and CNN) what they want in a long, arduous trial.

Chief political analyst Gloria Borger expressed anger at both Purpura and then Starr (click “expand”):

Another point. It was said we deal only with transcript evidence. That was the nod to Bolton, but of course, they have criticized the transcript evidence as being full of hearsay. So now, they’re saying we are not going to pay attention to John Bolton, who actually is delivering evidence where he spoke with the President, face-to-face. Instead, we’re going to rely on the evidence we have criticized up until now, and we’re going to say, okay, because it's publicly available, and it obviously meets their evidentiary standards, as he says. So you can’t have it both ways. I mean, suddenly what Taylor says is right, but what John Bolton says is wrong? So I think if I am sitting there in the United States Senate, I am scratching my head about this, first of all how it was not mentioned more than in passing, and maybe they will. 

And also to get back to Ken Starr, if I might for a moment. It was ironic, shall we say beyond irony, if there is such a thing about Ken Starr talking down, I think, to the United States Senate about how it's so sad that we now live in the age of impeachment and there have been too many impeachments. Here is the definition of the imperfect messenger, shall we say. I rest my case.

Senior political reporter Nia-Malika Henderson continued the lack of diverse opinions, suggesting that Republicans upset with rhetoric from managers Jerry Nadler and Adam Schiff should have to feel the same way about Starr because he was “quite insulting” to them

“[B]ut this is, I think, very insulting, basically asking those very — the people who considering themselves part of the greatest, deliberative body, right? To not really deliberate, not pay attention to this information that’s coming out from John Bolton,” she added.

Chief legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin made his peace as well, also melting down over both presenters (click “expand”):

Well, you know, yeah, I do think it was a mistake. I mean, to both presentations I had the reaction of are you kidding? I mean, I think John King did a wonderful job of pointing out that, you know, to say that the evidence shows the only reason that the President — that the President was concerned about giving aid to Ukraine was he was worried about burden sharing and corruption, and — and — first of all, that's contradictory to the evidence as it already exists. But putting that aside, the idea that you could make that argument on the same day that all 100 people in that jury, those judges and jurors in the Senate are thinking about The New York Times story in John Bolton’s book is just ridiculous, and, I mean, it's just not good advocacy.

And Ken Starr talking about, gosh, we use too much impeachment in the country, and gosh, it’s like we need to be nicer to each other and stop, you know, impeaching presidents. If you were to rank all 330 million people in the United States about who should be making that argument least, I think Ken Starr would be either at the top or the bottom depending on whatever superlative I just used. I mean, the idea that, Ken Starr of all people thinks we should be doing less impeachment when he was the architect of the last one, which failed miserably, I mean, was — was mind-boggling.

To see the relevant CNN transcript from January 27, click “expand.”

CNN Senate Impeachment Trial
January 27, 2020
2:55 p.m. Eastern

JAKE TAPPER: Ken Starr's testimony is interesting, because the first part of it, before he got the procedural questions, which I think are valid for people to discuss and debate, was almost him defending the Clinton impeachment and almost him defending something that he played a huge part on — part of, or bemoaning, rather, is something he played a huge part in was being in the era of impeachment, which he seemed to blame on Jimmy Carter and the post-Watergate Congress, but obviously Ken Starr has played a tremendous role in this being an era of impeachment and so that was strange. I am not sure how effective that part of his argument was. Like I said, the second part about the procedural objections that the Trump team has are more cogent and to be discussed. Larger, point Mike Purpura, the deputy White House counsel, had a difficult job to do because he was basically making an argument on a different planet than the rest of us are now living. We are now all in a planet where the former national security adviser, John Bolton, is out there with a book proposal in which, if you believe The New York Times and The Washington Post accounts of this, he says that President Trump directly referred to a quid pro quo in an August conversation with him. The idea being that if Ukraine wanted this almost $400 million in security assistance, Ukraine needed to help him by engaging in these investigations into the Bidens. That is out there. Now, what might Mike Purpura and the defense team decided to do was to say because that was not part of the record, they are not going to discuss it. They’re not going to acknowledge it. But this isn’t a traditional jury trial where you can only look at the evidence in front of you, and this is, as we talked about many times, a political impeachment trial. It is a political process, and the idea that — of his six points that Purpura laid out, and then walked through all of them, the idea that point number four, that anyone who spoke with President Trump knows that there was no linkage, we know that that it's not true. We know it’s not true and I don't think they did themselves any favors by pretending this giant boulder in the middle of the room didn't exist. We all know it exists and I almost feel, and who knows what’s going to happen, and maybe they’re giving the Republicans another talking point we can only look at the evidence that’s been presented or look only at the record that has been presented, but we all live in this world with facts and they’re just denying the existence of one of the biggest and most shocking ones to happen in the case. 

WOLF BLITZER: That's a very important point, John King. Absolutely no mention whatsoever — maybe incorrectly of the John Bolton arguments contained in this draft, in the manuscript, this book that’s going to be coming out mid-March. 

JOHN KING: But I think Jake got the strategy there just dead right in saying that yeah, in their record the White House is making the argument that the case fails. Now, we can poke some fact-checks in that, but essentially — especially what Mr. Purpura was asking you to do — asking those senators to do, was put in a blinder and put in earplugs and do not read the newspaper and no dot talk to your friends and please decide this case of impeaching the President of the United States without any information because, to your point he kept saying there is nobody that can tell you it was part of a quid pro quo. “President Trump told his national security adviser in August that he wanted to continue freezing $391 million in security assistance to Ukraine until officials there helped with investigations into Democrats including the Bidens, according to an unpublished manuscript by the former adviser, John R. Bolton.” Right there, in the lead paragraph of The New York Times story about this book, which has been giving to the White House. So, he’s asking the country and the senators, to put on blinders. I’ll also — another point. They keep saying and this is in dispute, they keep saying that the President cared about corruption. I think there's no doubt people in the President's administration cared about corruption in Ukraine. We’ve seen this happen on other issues as well. People in the President’s administration who have been very tough on Russia when the President himself has not been. He keeps saying this is about corruption. Well, read more. I think the part of the article in this manuscript that we’re missing is John Bolton says in the book, both he and Mike Pompeo, the secretary of state, told the President, Rudy Guiliani is lying to you. Rudy Giuliani has clients in Ukraine, he is making money off this. That’s corruption. It’s right here. How can the Senate just say, never mind, we’re not going to pay any attention to it. Maybe there is an answer to it. Maybe Mr. Bolton does have an agenda, but they have an opportunity to bring him in as a witness. John Bolton says he called the attorney general of the United States and raised concerns that Rudy Giuliani was acting on behalf of clients in Ukraine and influencing the President of the United States. If that is true, that is corruption of the highest order and they want you to ignore it. 

TAPPER: The Justice Department takes issue —

KING: Pushing back.

GLORIA BORGER: Right. 

TAPPER: — with [INAUDIBLE]

BORGER: Another point. It was said we deal only with transcript evidence. That was the nod to Bolton, but of course, they have criticized the transcript evidence as being full of hearsay. So now, they’re saying we are not going to pay attention to John Bolton, who actually is delivering evidence where he spoke with the President, face-to-face. Instead, we’re going to rely on the evidence we have criticized up until now, and we’re going to say, okay, because it's publicly available, and it obviously meets their evidentiary standards, as he says. So you can’t have it both ways. I mean, suddenly what Taylor says is right, but what John Bolton says is wrong? So I think if I am sitting there in the United States Senate, I am scratching my head about this, first of all how it was not mentioned more than in passing, and maybe they will. And also to get back to Ken Starr, if I might for a moment. It was ironic, shall we say beyond irony, if there is such a thing about Ken Starr talking down, I think, to the United States Senate about how it's so sad that we now live in the age of impeachment and there have been too many impeachments. Here is the definition of the imperfect messenger, shall we say. 

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON: Yeah.

BORGER: I rest my case.

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON: One question is whether or not the folks in that body, the Republicans in particular, who have at times expressed being insulted, whether it was Jerry Nadler, whether it was Adam Schiff, in some of their testimonies, essentially saying you’re coming into our body and then kind of insulting us and talking down to us and talking to us in some disparaging ways. In some ways, I mean if you think about them just ignoring, as you call it, the big boulder in the center of the chamber, that's quite insulting, right? I mean, that is literally asking them to ignore everything that’s before them, ignore what they are reading in the newspapers. You know, we keep focusing on the three to four people. The question is it even — will it ever get any broader than that, right? We sort of have already kinda dismissed Lamar Alexander because he seems to be somebody that will likely side with Mitch McConnell, but are there any others at this idea that maybe they should bring on other witnesses, people like ben Sasse, people like Joni Ernst, you know, so far there hasn’t been any indication as to if they are open to witnesses, but this is, I think, very insulting, basically asking those very — the people who considering themselves part of the greatest, deliberative body, right? To not really deliberate, not pay attention to this information that’s coming out from John Bolton. 

TAPPER: Alan Furman, former Senate parliamentarian, the President's defenders, the White House counsel legal team and others are acting as though senators don't read the newspaper, senators don’t watch the news. Maybe there is a news channel where the John Bolton revelation isn’t being mentioned, even if he's a former employee, I don't know, but is there anything in the Senate rules saying you can only make your decision based on these documents that the House impeachment managers handed over? You have to ignore any other stories in The New York Times or The Washington Post or on CNN about John Bolton directly contradicting the case that the President’s team is making.

(....)

3:09 p.m. Eastern

TAPPER: There are no rules of evidence saying they can only consider the documentary record that the House impeachment managers introduced. Was this a mistake? 

JEFFREY TOOBIN: Well, you know, yeah, I do think it was a mistake. I mean, to both presentations I had the reaction of are you kidding? I mean, I think John King did a wonderful job of pointing out that, you know, to say that the evidence shows the only reason that the President — that the President was concerned about giving aid to Ukraine was he was worried about burden sharing and corruption, and — and — first of all, that's contradictory to the evidence as it already exists. But putting that aside, the idea that you could make that argument on the same day that all 100 people in that jury, those judges and jurors in the Senate are thinking about The New York Times story in John Bolton’s book is just ridiculous, and, I mean, it's just not good advocacy and Ken Starr talking about, gosh, we use too much impeachment in the country, and gosh, it’s like we need to be nicer to each other and stop, you know, impeaching presidents. If you were to rank all 330 million people in the United States about who should be making that argument least, I think Ken Starr would be either at the top or the bottom depending on whatever superlative I just used. I mean, the idea that, Ken Starr of all people thinks we should be doing less impeachment when he was the architect of the last one, which failed miserably, I mean, was — was mind-boggling.

NB Daily Congress Trump Impeachment CNN Ken Starr Jake Tapper Gloria Borger Jeffrey Toobin Nia-Malika Henderson Donald Trump
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