Petulant CNN: Acosta Hails ‘Profile in Courage’ Romney and Panel Gangs Up on Santorum

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Picking up from Nick Fondacaro’s item on some of CNN’s initial reactions to the Senate trial coming to an end Wednesday afternoon, the Jeffrey Zucker-led circus continued into The Situation Room.

Most notably, Fake News Jim hailing Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT) and seven panelists ganging up on former Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA) over, well, how one could act on principle and not want to remove President Trump.

 

 

Five minutes into the show, Acosta trumpeted Romney has having “show[n] many Americans that this was a profile in courage and there is room for mavericks here in Washington” but also “rob” the GOP and Trump “of a key talking point they have been saying all along that it was a partisan impeachment exercise.”

Pretty sure one could have knocked Jim over with a feather after that valentine.

CNN contributor and former Senate parliamentarian Alan Frumin complained that the lack of witnesses “will hunt the Senate for years” while lead House Impeachment Manager Adam Schiff’s “closing arguments....will go down in history as a speech to be studied for generations, his demeanor as well as the words spoke volumes.”

He added that he’s hoping the Senate will go into future impeachments as a united “caucus of 100” because “the Senate can do better, the Senate must do better and the country needs it.”

A few segments later, Rick Santorum called out his fellow panelists for not willing to discuss the fact that Romney didn’t vote to convict on Article II because, in his mind, it was “ridiculous” (click “expand”):

[N]one of the folks running for president would ever as president countenance the idea that the president doesn't have the right to assert constitutional privileges and that in doing so, that the remedy is to go to court[.]

(....)

Article II says they the president does not have the right to contest that in a court, and that he has to turn everything over, and I can tell you, Mitt Romney deserves credit. I know that he’ll going to get a lot of credit and blame for the position he took on Article I. Where is the heroic Democrat who stood up for Article II? That didn’t happen. 

Liberal (though not treated as such) legal analyst Laura Coates then feigned outrage that senators wouldn’t be of the same legal mind as her that the President would ignore their requests for any and all documents and witnesses. 

 

 

Coates grew petulant as she faced some rare pushback. Turns out, when a CNN analyst isn’t sucked up to on a daily basis, they get upset (click “expand”):

SANTORUM: They had the transcript. The transcript.

COATES: Well, I’m not sure what you’re referencing. You mean the call out that was not verbatim that was not called a transcript. That’s called actually a readout. But I’ll finish my point for a second. 

SANTORUM: A read out, a transcript, whatever you want to call it. That’s the only documentation — 

COATES: No —

SANTORUM: — that existed.

COATES: — that’s not, well sure, I could also hand you a bag of oranges and tell you that it’s responsive, but if it is not what you asked for, it doesn’t count, Rick, so the idea that — 

SANTORUM: So the readout didn’t count? 

COATES:  — no, what I’m telling you is that you are like to [sic] confine this as — 

SANTORUM: Well, you said zero. 

COATES: — does my voice offend you, because I want to finish my point. 

SANTORUM: No, but — but I — I could say the same to you. 

COATES: I’m going to finish my point. Well, the point is this. That when they were asked the questions about documentation, providing responses to a subpoena, providing witnesses, the idea of wholesale defying and saying, no, you got to battle it out will have repercussions to a branch of government that wants to say that nobody is above the law. Imagine you yourself getting a subpoena at this point in time and saying you know what? Prosecutors and police officers, no. How about that? You would like that not to happen. So in this respect, Congress asks the question.

When Santorum called her out for trying to equate a private citizen receiving a subpoena to the President, here was Coates’s actual response: “I’m a federal prosecutor. I would laugh at anybody who would say, no. I don't have to respond to any subpoena.”

In other words, this was the equivalent of “don’t you know who I am?” Smooth.

The back and forth continued with chief legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin being tagged in to assist Coates, but Santorum insisted on wondering why there haven’t been conversation about Democrats not having “a profile in courage” to vote against Article II. He added that there’s a massive double standard in condemning Republicans who vote with the President but not Democrats who buck their party.

To see the CNN transcript from February 5, click “expand.”

CNN’s The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer
February 5, 2020
5:05 p.m. Eastern

JIM ACOSTA: The other thing that we should point out is that the White House is caught off guard of Mitt Romney's decision earlier today. It was announced as the President was welcoming in the Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido over here at the White House. Wolf, we were supposed to go into the white house with a photo-op.  At that very moment, it was called off. The White House insisted it is not because of Senator Romney's decision to vote to convict the President on one of those articles of impeachment. But, Wolf, one of the things that Mitt Romney did today besides showing to many Americans that this was a profile in courage and there is room for mavericks here in Washington, he did rob Republicans, did rob the President of a key talking point they have been saying all along that it was a partisan impeachment exercise. That is obviously no longer the case given what Mitt Romney did today, Wolf.

(....)

5:21 p.m. Eastern

ALAN FRUMIN: Well, the Senate was on trial here. There’s no question here. I continue to go back to the point that the result was foreordained, but the process wasn’t and the Senate’s decision not to have live witness, I think, will hunt the Senate for years. Two of the President’s counsels, I believe, made a compelling case for witnesses while arguing for witnesses and against witnesses. Pat Cipollone in person in the flesh was a different creature than Pat Cipollone on paper. And Patrick Philbin also in his demeanor just begged for the fact that in order to assess the argument to be made by an individual, you must have that person before you, flesh and blood. Adam Schiff, likewise in the closing arguments, which will go down in history as a speech to be studied for generations, his demeanor as well as the words spoke volumes. So to me, the senate needed to make the decision to bring live people before the chamber, either depositions, videotaped or actually before the Senate itself. Number one. Number two, the Clinton impeachment trial began with a caucus of 100, hopefully. There was no such bipartisanship at any such point in this trial. I know that I am being naive here in hoping, just hoping at some point that there going to be another caucus of 100 as the senators are looking at what they have been through, and what they have or have not contributed to public civility, and decide that we can do better, the Senate can do better, the Senate must do better and the country needs it. 

(....)

5:29 p.m. Eastern

RICK SANTORUM: But the discussion that has not happened around this table is the fact that Mitt Romney who was perfectly willing to convict the President on an article of impeachment voted against Article II , and this is where I think that the Democrats are going to have some accounting here because Article II was on its face ridiculous. No — no — none of the folks running for president would ever as president countenance the idea that the president doesn't have the right to assert constitutional privileges and that in doing so, that the remedy is to go to court, and so —

TOOBIN: But Rick, that’s not what article II says. 

SANTORUM: — hold on. But — but — but — but —

GLORIA BORGER: [INAUDIBLE]

SANTORUM: Article II charges the president — it’s exactly what Article II does. Article II says they the president does not have the right to contest that in a court, and that he has to turn everything over, and I can tell you, Mitt Romney deserves credit. I know that he’ll going to get a lot of credit and blame for the position he took on Article I. Where is the heroic Democrat who stood up for Article II? That didn’t happen. 

WOLF BLITZER: And Laura, let me get you Article I was abuse of power. What the senator is talking, obstruction of congress, Article II, and that there is no case and that’s why Mitt Romney voted against convicting the president on abuse of power —

LAURA COATES: Well, frankly, I was —

BLITZER: — excuse me, obstruction of justice. 

LAURA COATES: I have always been shocked that the Senate would disregard the idea that somebody was disrespecting a congressional subpoena because although there are three co-equal branches of government, it seemed as though the legislative branch was prepared on the Senate side to say, you know what? It’s okay if somebody disrespects us, we’ll call it the interbranch dispute and we’ll have to bring in another party. I never understood why the senators didn't say, hold on, wait on a second, I don't know how I am going to ultimately vote, but if somebody from Congress sends you a subpoena, you have to take heed to respect it as opposed to say, you know what? We’re going to have to argue whether or not it is valid. I don't buy that wholesale defiance, number one. Number two, I thought it was a much easier sell to do the obstruction based on having to prove the number zero. That’s what was handed over. Zero documents, zero witnesses — that’s pretty clear.

SANTORUM: They had the transcript. The transcript.

COATES: Well, I’m not sure what you’re referencing. You mean the call out that was not verbatim that was not called a transcript. That’s called actually a readout. But I’ll finish my point for a second. 

SANTORUM: A read out, a transcript, whatever you want to call it. That’s the only documentation — 

COATES: No —

SANTORUM: — that existed.

COATES: — that’s not, well sure, I could also hand you a bag of oranges and tell you that it’s responsive, but if it is not what you asked for, it doesn’t count, Rick, so the idea that — 

SANTORUM: So the readout didn’t count? 

COATES:  — no, what I’m telling you is that you are like to [sic] confine this as — 

SANTORUM: Well, you said zero. 

COATES: — does my voice offend you, because I want to finish my point. 

SANTORUM: No, but — but I — I could say the same to you. 

COATES: I’m going to finish my point. Well, the point is this. That when they were asked the questions about documentation, providing responses to a subpoena, providing witnesses, the idea of wholesale defying and saying, no, you got to battle it out will have repercussions to a branch of government that wants to say that nobody is above the law. Imagine you yourself getting a subpoena at this point in time and saying you know what? Prosecutors and police officers, no. How about that? You would like that not to happen. So in this respect, Congress asks the question.

SANTORUM: Wait, hold on. You cannot hold equate an individual getting a subpoena to the President of the United States who has constitutional protections and — 

COATES: Well, you know what?

SANTORUM: — and — that he has the right to assert. 

COATES: I agree that President is in a different position than the average person.

SANTORUM: Then why did you equate it to me?

COATES: Because the President does actually have a higher burden as being the part of the executive branch whose job it is to enforce the law than, say the average person.

SANTORUM: That’s just not true. 

COATES: I’m a federal prosecutor.

SANTORUM: That’s just not true. 

COATES: I would laugh at anybody who would say, no. I don't have to respond to any subpoena. 

SANTORUM: That is just not true. 

TOOBIN: And the point is, I think, Rick, that where we disagree is that everyone acknowledges that the President has the right to assert to an individual subpoena that this calls for inappropriate, you know, things that should not have to be disclosed. What Article II was about is the wholesale refusal to participate in any sort of fact-finding by Congress, no documents, no — no witnesses provided for, and the infamous eight-page letter written by Pat Cipollone saying that we choose not to participate in this inquiry. That is what Article II is about, and that’s why it was illegitimate.

SANTORUM: Instead of litigating the arguments which I think are arguably, you can — you can make a case on either side, but the ques — the point is no Democrat decided that it was maybe appropriate to step forward and say, you know what? Maybe like Mitt Romney, we need to have a profile in courage to say I should stand up to the party on this one and they didn't. 

COATES: But Senator Santorum, at one point though —

TOOBIN: And maybe they thought it was the right thing to do.

COATES: — but if I may is —

SANTORUM: But that is not how it is depicted when Republicans are voting with the President. It’s oh, you are afraid of the President —

BLITZER: Alright.

SANTORUM: — and you’re walking in lock step, and you can't have it both ways. 

COATES: Well, me just say this. Let me just this is a point because you asked about the phone call, one thing that’s always been misconstrued over the course of the impeachment is it all came down over the call was perfect, but the presentation of the evidence, whether if you were convinced or not, and clearly you were not, was a pressure campaign and the phone call was disingenuous, and it does not actually get to heart of the matter.

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