After the ABC and CBS evening newscasts on Monday hyped fears that President Trump was supposedly endangering the life of an anonymous government whistleblower by demanding to know the identity of the impeachment accuser, on Tuesday, Good Morning America wildly speculated that the President’s request could itself be an impeachable offense.
During a discussion on GMA about the White House defense strategy, correspondent Jon Karl fretted: “...in terms of this attack on the whistleblower, it has been relentless.” He continued by claiming that the President’s criticism of the unknown CIA official might bolster the partisan impeachment push by Democrats:
And now demanding to know – to out the whistleblower. His own aides have called the whistleblower part of a deep state conspiracy. George, this could well be a violation of federal whistleblower protection laws and is also the kind of thing that could end up being one of the articles of impeachment against the President, intimidating the whistleblower.
Co-host George Stephanopoulos agreed: “Yeah, the more he tries to target him.”
Imagining yet another impeachable offense moments later, Stephanopoulos seized on the possibility of the President’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani refusing to comply with a subpoena from House Democrats: “So if he doesn’t comply, that could also become an article of impeachment.” The morning show anchor never explained how Giuliani hypothetically making that decision would warrant Trump’s impeachment.
Just 24 hours earlier, ABC's chief legal analyst Dan Abrams took to GMA to argue that "anything in theory can be impeachable." Apparently the broadcast has set out to test that theory.
On CBS This Morning, correspondent Nancy Cordes doubled down on the network’s assertion that Trump was placing the whistleblower’s life in jeopardy. Interestingly, CBS Evening News only featured a soundbite of Democratic Virginia Senator Mark Warner declaring: “I think the potential threat to this whistleblower’s life is a realistic concern.” However, in the report Tuesday morning, it became clear that Warner was teed up to make that pronouncement by Cordes:
CORDES: You think he’s putting this whistleblower’s life at risk?
SEN. MARK WARNER [D-VA]: I think this is a clear example of reprisal....I think the potential threat to this whistleblower’s life is a realistic concern.
On NBC’s Today show, correspondent Peter Alexander joined in the hand-wringing and touted claims that the President had violated the law by asking for the whistleblower’s identity:
President Trump in the Oval Office ramping up his attacks on the whistleblower, revealing that his administration is working to learn more about the unnamed CIA employee....The whistleblower’s lawyer responding, arguing that his client is “entitled to anonymity” adding, “the individual is not to be retaliated against. Doing so is a violation of federal law.”
According to the media, if the President simply wants to be able to confront the accuser who sparked the impeachment inquiry he’s committing an impeachable offense.
Here is a full transcript of the October 1 segment on ABC’s GMA:
7:06 AM ET
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: So let’s analyze all this now with our chief White House correspondent Jon Karl, our chief legal analyst Dan Abrams. And Jon, let me begin with you. As I said in the intro right there, the President is front and center on this. He is his defense team.
JON KARL: It’s clear, George, that the President is directing the response to all of this himself. Both through his tweeting, some 30 tweets over the weekend, but in terms of this attack on the whistleblower, it has been relentless. Of course, it started by suggesting the whistleblower or those who talked to the whistleblower are essentially spies and the punishment for spying used to be death. And now demanding to know – to out the whistleblower. His own aides have called the whistleblower part of a deep state conspiracy. George, this could well be a violation of federal whistleblower protection laws and is also the kind of thing that could end up being one of the articles of impeachment against the President, intimidating the whistleblower.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Yeah, the more he tries to target him.
Let’s bring in Dan Abrams for more on this right now. We just saw Rudy Giuliani get a subpoena as well, of course, he’s the President’s personal attorney. He says he’s deliberating whether or not he's going to comply with the subpoena but does he really have a choice?
DAN ABRAMS: No. I mean, his arguments are likely to be very weak. First of all, to get attorney/client privilege you have to be serving as the attorney. So Rudy Giuliani has said, “I wasn’t acting as a lawyer. I was acting as a straight and out government.” Well, if that’s the case, then there’s no attorney/client privilege, period. But he could argue, “Well, you know what, there are instances where I was acting as his attorney.” Okay, fair enough, you’ve got a problem, A, that Congress can typically compel even attorney/client protected privilege, B, you’ve got the possibility of what’s called waiver, meaning when he’s out there talking about it publicly there is no more attorney/client privilege. The whole point of the attorney/client privilege is to say, “We can have a private conversation. We can talk about these things.” If Rudy Giuliani has been out talking about those conversations, that would also be a waiver.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So if he doesn’t comply, that could also become an article of impeachment.
Meantime, we have this extraordinary situation where the Attorney General is out traveling overseas trying to enlist foreign nations in this investigation of the Russia investigation.
ABRAMS: Right, and what we thought was happening was that this respected former federal prosecutor – federal prosecutor, John Durham, was doing his own investigation and the sense was, alright, there’s a level of independence to this. It’s being handed off to Durham, he’s going to be investigating. If Barr himself is out actually interviewing witnesses and talking to people, then Durham isn’t really doing the investigation, Barr’s doing the investigation. And that certainly runs the risk of giving the impression that this is an investigation for the President to retaliate against Robert Mueller, as opposed to an independent one.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Meantime, Jon, any sense the White House is actually developing a more comprehensive, coordinated strategy?
KARL: It doesn’t really look that way, George. In fact, one indicator of this, as late as yesterday, the White House legal team was still trying to get a definitive answer as to whether or not Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was on the President’s call with President Zelensky of Ukraine. Of course, it turns out he was. But they didn’t know that for sure until yesterday.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And, of course, he could have just told them. Jon Karl, Dan Abrams, thanks very much.