Wallace: Not Voting for Witnesses Amidst ‘Volcanic’ News Cycles Is ‘Political Suicide’

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Dispensing more of her supposed invaluable expertise, MSNBC’s Deadline: White House host and Republican-turned-lefty Nicolle Wallace boasted Tuesday about the barrage of anti-Trump breaking news developments (like those about John Bolton) being akin to “volcanic eruptions” and voting against witnesses would be “political suicide.”

Wallace took a stab at the first point during a break in the Senate impeachment trial prior to the final session, referring how there was a “morning news gush — and that's what these are” and “when you wake up to, like, volcano — volcanic eruptions.”

 

 

“Today's eruption brought a second excerpt from the Bolton book, about Donald Trump seeking to do favors for autocratic leaders and the John Kelly and all of it ties together and all of it sort undergirds this public pressure. 70 percent of voters want to see and hear from witnesses,” she added.

MSNBC legal analyst and former Obama official Chuck Rosenberg then compared removing a President to another specific power given to Congress in the Constitution: declare war (click “expand”):

The Constitution reserves to Congress two of the most important decisions in the life of this country: whether to declare war and whether to remove a president from office and those two things are reserved to Congress by the text of the Constitution. A fascinating document. For either of those two things to happen, Do you want more information or less information? Do you declare war with no intelligence or with the best intelligence you can muster? 

And if you're going to remove a president, do you do it with no firsthand account of what he was doing and thinking or with firsthand accounts of what he was doing and thinking? And so if you just put aside for a minute the trial analogy, which doesn't quite work, that's another way to think about it. 

Lyin’ Brian Williams replied by wondering to fellow legal analyst Maya Wiley whether it “[spoke] to our lack of agility, to Nicolle's point, that these arguments are not reflecting the daily fuselage of news and the need to kinda turn on a dime to suit the times.” 

In other words, the stupidity of those who don’t bow to the whims of liberal journalists?

Before the trial resumed, Wallace and Williams gushed about how the latest anti-Trump book by Washington Post reporters Carol Leonnig and Phillip Rucker should be referred to as The Book because, in the words of the latter, “there are nuggets on every page.” To the former, the book provided “the most comprehensive telling of his complete lack of fitness for commander in chief part of the job.”

After the Trump team rested in making their opening statements, former Senator-turned-beloved MSNBC analyst Claire McCaskill argued that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) “cares about power more than anything else” and is “making one of the biggest gambles of his career cause he's gambling that if he forces these guys into the bit and makes him vote against witnesses, he can hold on to the majority leader position.”

McCaskill predicted (without evidence) that polls are much higher for witnesses in swing states (including the claim that it must be 90 percent in Colorado) and then Wallace asserted that not doing as she and her colleagues would amount to a political death sentence (click “expand”):

They're so exposed on the Trump question, and the whole thing, book ended by Access Hollywood on one end. The Bolton book with the Kelly corroboration and seal of veracity on the other. That's what they're dealing with, right? The Trump White House doesn't believe this thing is static. The Trump White House is prepared for almost like a ride down rocky white water rafting. 

So the idea they’re going to lock on a position and take a second vote to deprive witnesses is utter insanity from a political perspective and we've been talking about the facts and the legal standpoint but just the pure politics on this are insanity. You’ve only got, I think, 51 percent to 54 percent that are behind his immediate removal but 75 percent around witnesses is political suicide.

To see the relevant MSNBC transcript from January 28, click “expand.”

MSNBC Senate Impeachment Trial
January 28, 2020
2:23 p.m. Eastern

NICOLLE WALLACE: I think the other thing that Chuck Rosenberg, you commented on when you sat here after sort of the morning news gush — and that's what these are.

BRIAN WILLIAMS: Yep.

WALLACE: I mean, these days when you wake up to —

WILLIAMS: Day after day. 

WALLACE: — like — volcano — volcanic eruptions. Today's eruption brought a second excerpt from the Bolton book, about Donald Trump seeking to do favors for autocratic leaders and the John Kelly and all of it ties together and all of it sort undergirds this public pressure. 70 percent of voters want to see and hear from witnesses. 

CHUCK ROSENBERG: I mean, John Kelly believes that John Bolton is telling the truth and that's all well and good. In my interactions with John Kelly, which were limited, I found him to be a very honorable man. Although like Claire, I certainly didn't agree with everything he did in his White House chief of staff role, but I think it all points to the same thing. We've talked about the fact that trials have witnesses and documents and we've said that over and over and over. We've also recognized that this is not quite a trial. It's something like a trial but it's not quite a trial and so I thought about it in a different way, Nicolle. The Constitution reserves to Congress two of the most important decisions in the life of this country: whether to declare war and whether to remove a president from office and those two things are reserved to Congress by the text of the Constitution. A fascinating document. For either of those two things to happen, Do you want more information or less information? Do you declare war with no intelligence or with the best intelligence you can muster? And if you're going to remove a president, do you do it with no firsthand account of what he was doing and thinking or with firsthand accounts of what he was doing and thinking? And so if you just put aside for a minute the trial analogy, which doesn't quite work, that's another way to think about it. 

WILLIAMS: Does this speak to our lack of agility, to Nicolle's point, that these arguments are not reflecting the daily fuselage of news and the need to kinda turn on a dime to suit the times? 

MAYA WILEY: Absolutely and I would say in fairness to the lawyers for Donald Trump, it would be difficult to be prepared because what you would normally do is look at what your evidence is that provides your defense, and they don't have any. 

WILLIAMS: And then look at your phone.

WILEY: And then look at your phone. But which means when there's incoming, you're still going back to the evidence that supports your position. They don't have it and you heard from Jay Sekulow at the end, it's almost like he had that name call checklist, to Nicolle's point about being political. I'm going to say Bruce Orr. I'm going to say FISA warrants. 

WALLACE: Lisa Page.

WILEY: I'm going to say Lisa Page. I'm going to trigger the conspiracy theories that undergird the political defense in the absence of having any kind of legal defense and that's where I think Chuck is absolutely right but also why the American public, no matter your view of Donald Trump, no matter your position of him on as a President, we should be deeply concerned that we are not hearing from John Bolton or other witnesses. 

(....)

2:36 p.m. Eastern

WALLACE: Andrea Mitchell gave us a great reminder saying one of the bombshells of the Leonnig/Rucker book is that Donald Trump isn't just a president who wants to root out corruption in far away lands. He’s a President who wanted to root out anti-corruption law in America so that he can't practice corrupt businesses abroad, so the idea that they even want to introduce any of the substance here is ludicrous and I think, as you said, they've been shameless in putting the Bidens on trial, so I don’t even know. I don’t even know what point — I try to get in their heads and figure out what they’re trying to say. I don't even know what he was trying to say there.

WILLIAMS: The — while we are on the subject of the book, there are nuggets on every page of that. 

WALLACE: Oh my God. That's a perfect way to say it, the book, capital T, capital B. I mean, and look, and here’s the more serious point. The Book is, to me, the most comprehensive telling of his complete lack of fitness for commander in chief part of the job. Why has he been impeached? Fundamentally for abusing his commander in chief role, for abusing that sort of sacred distribution of military assistance to a U.S. ally at war. 

WILLIAMS: Also truly poignant scene between Barr, we discussed this with the authors last night. 

WALLACE: I saw. 

WILLIAMS: And Mueller. When they're saying to Mueller in effect, okay, you realize we're going to do this with your work. 

(....)

2:41 p.m. Eastern

WALLACE: I watched from a distance Saturday all the sort of pearl clutching of Republicans who were so offended that Adam Schiff had quoted that CBS report about Trump campaign political associates talking about their heads on it — 

WILLIAMS: Just mention it. 

WALLACE: Just mention it. It's a CBS report, obviously a credible news organization. I've watched that news organization. They haven't pulled back any of that reporting. They stand by it. That is obviously what’s going on and I think there will come a time when they'll welcome the fact that they were bullied and intimidated because it's a better explanation if they come down on the wrong side or as Claire predicts, if 35 to 40 of them vote against witnesses than being corrupted by the Trump White House. 

WILLIAMS: Yeah that was the heads on a pike quote. 

CLAIRE MCCASKILL: Yeah.

(....)

2:45 p.m. Eastern

FRANK FIGULIZZI: They know that they’re establishing their legacy and that there’s going to be some ugly things to explain back home to their constituencies. I keep coming back to the fear factor because it applies to the question you just asked about kind of how long does it take for even an FBI agent in the field working a corruption case? Maybe it's a corrupt chief of police, maybe it’s a corrupt mayor. You see the fear in people's eyes when you're trying to get them to cooperate. 

(....)

3:48 p.m. Eastern

MCCASKILL: Mitch McConnell cares about power more than anything else. He's making one of the biggest gambles of his career cause he's gambling that if he forces these guys into the bit and makes him vote against witnesses, he can hold on to the majority leader position and here's the ones who are going to be interesting to watch. Obviously, Susan Collins we’ve talked about a lot. This is a very tough vote for Cory Gardner. I mean, you know, just wrack it up. Wrack it up.

WALLACE: 75 percent of Americans want witnesses. 

MCCASKILL: Right and if it's 75 percent in America, it's 90 in Colorado. 

WALLACE: Right.

MCCASKILL: Martha McSally, same thing. 

WILLIAMS: Huge.

MCCASKILL: Thom Tillis, I guarantee you it's higher than 75 percent in North Carolina. 

WILLIAMS: Huge.

MCCASKILL: Joni Ernst. I guarantee you it's higher than 75 percent in Iowa. So, and you need four senate seats to flip the senate, I just gave you five names. So, even if Doug Jones, which we all know he's going to have a tough race in Alabama, you know, what Mitch McConnell is doing, he on behalf of his corrupt White House, this President that he knows is incompetent, he is about to risk it all for the Republican Party.

WILLIAMS: Something else, all their phones were just reunited with them? 

MCCASKILL: Not in that caucus room, though. 

WILLIAMS: But didn't they take them out of the cubbies when they came out of the chamber? 

MCCASKILL: Oh, yeah. No, no. They're looking at them in the caucus room. You would have your phone, but believe me. That's an intense caucus going on right now. They're all listening to each other. 

WILLIAMS: What's the chances they've seen the new 75 number from Quinnipiac? 

MCCASKILL: I say pretty damn good. 

WALLACE: Their staff’s on it. Look, here’s the other piece of this. They're so exposed on the Trump question, and the whole thing, book ended by Access Hollywood on one end. The Bolton book with the Kelly corroboration and seal of veracity on the other. That's what they're dealing with, right? The Trump White House doesn't believe this thing is static. The Trump White House is prepared for almost like a ride down rocky white water rafting. So the idea they’re going to lock on a position and take a second vote to deprive witnesses is utter insanity from a political perspective and we've been talking about the facts and the legal standpoint but just the pure politics on this are insanity. You’ve only got, I think, 51 percent to 54 percent that are behind his immediate removal but 75 percent around witnesses is political suicide.

(....)

3:54 p.m. Eastern

MCCASKILL: You know, this reminds me, Angus, a little bit of the pressure around the ACA vote. I remember distinctly being told this will kill the Democrats in the next election. I remember having a conversation with the President, are you sure? And him telling me I would rather lose re-election and get this done on ACA. Now, it took a long time for the ACA to become more popular. It was, in fact, a political anvil around the heck of Democrats for several cycles. Do you think the Republicans are feeling that kind of weight? Do they realize that town halls are going to be very ugly for a very long time if they turn their back on history like this? 

NB Daily Trump Impeachment MSNBC Video Brian Williams Nicolle Wallace Claire McCaskill Donald Trump Mitch McConnell
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