NBC: Americans Are ‘Where Rich Lowry Stands,’ Opposed to Impeachment

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During a discussion on Thursday’s Today show about the impact of Wednesday’s impeachment hearings, co-host Savannah Guthrie amazingly admitted that the American people agreed with conservative National Review editor Rich Lowry and were generally opposed to the Democratic attempt to remove President Trump from office.

“I feel like the Democrats have a two-pronged burden of proof here,” Guthrie observed to Lowry and former Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill, now an NBC News political analyst. The anchor continued: “One, they have to prove the underlying conduct, they also have to prove that if that conduct happened, it warrants impeachment. Is that the bigger hurdle for Democrats?”

 

 

Lowry explained that unlike past congressional oversight hearings, like Iran-Contra, impeachment hearings have a much higher bar of evidence, where “the question is whether this episode itself can bear the weight of impeaching and removing a president for the first time in our history.” He then added: “And I think the answer to that is no.”

Guthrie protested: “Why is it no? If it’s – isn't it an abuse of power to say this military aid passed by both houses of Congress on a bipartisan basis, Ukraine’s under the point of a gun from Russia, our adversary, why is that not an impeachable offense?”

While acknowledging that it was “obviously improper,” Lowry pointed out: “...but I think when you consider the punishment, you have to consider the harm. And this is where I think Republicans are on their strongest ground....Ukraine ultimately got the aid and didn’t investigate anyone, didn’t even make a statement about investigations.”

Guthrie turned to McCaskill and admitted: “Democrats do have a hard road here, because 70% of Americans say they thought the conduct was wrong, but about half of them think impeachment and removal is warranted here. So they’re kind of more on where Rich Lowry stands on this.”  

McCaskill proceeded to scold the American public:

Yeah, I think the American people are gonna have to do a gut check here. Where’s the line? If this isn’t a line, are we going to say okay going forward, presidents can ask foreign countries to interfere in our elections in return for dually-passed appropriations from Congress? That’s a very dangerous road.

Lowry then joked: “Just remember, Claire, the American people are with me. You just heard it.”

That prompted a round of laughter, with Guthrie professing: “I am playing devil’s advocate here. Everybody gets a challenging question, okay?”

Even NBC journalists are now forced to admit that Democrats haven’t made the impeachment case to the American people.

Here is a full transcript of the November 21 segment:

7:07 AM ET

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: With us now, NBC News political analyst, former Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill. And Rich Lowry, a leading conservative thinker, editor of the National Review, and author of the new book, The Case for Nationalism. Good morning to both of you.

RICH LOWRY: Hi, there.

GUTHRIE: So let’s talk about Gordon Sondland’s testimony. First of all, who he is. This is a Trump ally, he gave a million bucks to the Trump inaugural, and he testified that, yes, aid to Ukraine and a White House meeting all hinged on a personal political favor for the President. And he says everybody knew about it, too. Does this change the calculous, Rich?

LOWRY: I don’t think it changes it. I think everyone’s dug in. But there was more drama to this than to prior witnesses because his initial deposition was anodyne to the point of deception, clearly not credible. So the question was, where is he going to land on his new story? And the approach he took, “I’m going to spill my guts and spread responsibility as far as possible.”

Very good witness for the Democrats. Also creates a dilemma, though. Because he – there’s a direct factual conflict now with Pence and with Pompeo. He underlined Mulvaney’s role. So Democrats, do they take the time to try to get those firsthand witnesses?

GUTHRIE: And Bolton, too, he tells a different story about what Bolton knew. So that does raise a question for the Democrats. I mean, do they try to go to this court fight? All of those individuals, by the way, have – are refusing to testify, upon the White House’s demand. So should the Democrats go to a court fight and say, “We need this testimony” or should they just rush it through?

CLAIRE MCCASKILL: You know, they have a mountain of evidence and the Republicans are holding on to a tiny fig leaf because the President hasn’t signed the confession in blood. But I do think the Democrats should move on and move forward with what they have. But they can simultaneously try to get some of these things decided in court.

One thing Sondland did yesterday was he said over and over again, “I wish I could get the documents.” It was like, “Hello, folks, there’s a bunch of paper out there that you should be looking at.” And the White House, of course, is keeping not just witnesses from Congress, but all of contemporaneous the e-mails and notes surrounding all this stuff. And I think there’s going to be a lot of evidence in those notes. So they need to try to get it.

GUTHRIE: The Democrats may ultimately say, “Well, there’s your obstruction charge right there, by the refusal to turn over witnesses and evidence.” But you mentioned it briefly, but Sondland did have some points that were favorable to the President when he says the President never mentioned aid to Ukraine. And when he asked him an open-ended question, “What do you want from Ukraine?,” the President said, “I want nothing.” And obviously the President thinks this is a good fact for him because he wrote it down in black sharpie and delivered it right there on the front steps of the White House.

MCCASKILL: Although that conversation occurred on the same day that the White House found out about the whistleblower complaint and the ensuing investigation. So clearly his culpability was on his mind and he immediately offered that. And I would just throw this out there, the President has been known to not tell the truth.

GUTHRIE: Let me ask you, I mean, the big picture here. I feel like the Democrats have a two-pronged burden of proof here. One, they have to prove the underlying conduct, they also have to prove that if that conduct happened, it warrants impeachment. Is that the bigger hurdle for Democrats?

LOWRY: So if this were an effort like way back in the Reagan years, the Iran-Contra hearings, similar kind of rogue foreign policy operation, just an effort to have hearings to get to the bottom of the facts and to extract damaging revelations, this would be a home run for the Democrats. But the question is whether this episode itself can bear the weight of impeaching and removing a president for the first time in our history. And I think the answer to that is no.

GUTHRIE: Why is it no? If it’s – isn't it an abuse of power to say this military aid passed by both houses of Congress on a bipartisan basis, Ukraine’s under the point of a gun from Russia, our adversary, why is that not an impeachable offense?

LOWRY: It’s obviously improper, but I think when you consider the punishment, you have to consider the harm. And this is where I think Republicans are on their strongest ground, they’ve begun to retreat to it, more of them: Ukraine ultimately got the aid and didn’t investigate anyone, didn’t even make a statement about investigations.

GUTHRIE: Democrats do have a hard road here, because 70% of Americans say they thought the conduct was wrong, but about half of them think impeachment and removal is warranted here. So they’re kind of more on where Rich Lowry stands on this.  

MCCASKILL: Yeah, I think the American people are gonna have to do a gut check here. Where’s the line? If this isn’t a line, are we going to say okay going forward, presidents can ask foreign countries to interfere in our elections in return for dually-passed appropriations from Congress? That’s a very dangerous road.

LOWRY: Just remember, Claire, the American people are with me. You just heard it. [Laughter]

GUTHRIE: I am playing devil’s advocate here. Everybody gets a challenging question, okay? Rich, Senator McCaskill, thank you so much. Appreciate it.  

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