Acting out of sheer desperation Friday morning, while anchoring MSNBC special coverage of the Senate impeachment trial, Meet the Press moderator Chuck Todd attempted to argue there was a “risk” for Democrats “folding too early” ahead of President Trump’s expected acquittal. Later in the hour, he seemed resigned to the fact that the “talk radio wing” of the Republican Party had “won” the day.
“What is the risk for Democrats to folding too quickly?,” a concerned Todd asked The Daily Beast’s Betsy Woodruff Swan early in the 9:00 a.m. ET hour. Swan suggested the real risk for Democrats would be continuing to drag out the proceedings:
The challenge is that there’s the possibility the entire impeachment saga could backfire and that they have already gained the political benefit that they’re going to see from it. And that, from a political perspective, once this saga is finished, the tides could change for them, and it could become something that the President uses, as he already has, to fundraise.
Moments later, Washington Post columnist Ruth Marcus tried to keep hope alive as she claimed “Democrats have an incentive to keep pushing today” in order keep up political pressure on Republicans.
In frustration, Todd ranted: “That literally, even though the Republican senators technically have leverage over this president right now, they have – they can end his presidency sometime in the next 24 hours. And yet, it is Donald Trump that is acting as if he has the leverage over them.” Political analyst Michael Steele sneered: “He is the great manipulator.”
In another discussion with the panel near the end of hour, Todd hyped the notion that more damaging information about Trump would come out after the President was acquitted by the Senate: “...it feels as if Republicans are buying this bottle of wine and they really hope it ages well. But boy, it could age – this vote could age horribly, it could be like the Iraq war for the Democrats.”
Steele proclaimed: “You know. I think it’s aged. I think it’s already – ” Todd interjected: “It’s gonna be a spoiled vintage?” Steele confirmed: “It’s a spoiled vintage, baby. It’s a spoiled vintage.”
The former RNC director then started commenting on the “internal battles” within the Republican Party, to which Todd declared: “The talk radio wing won.... The talk radio wing have beaten the chamber of commerce wing, bottom line.”
The liberal media are so bitter about Democrats losing the impeachment battle that they have resorted to literally comparing the process to sour grapes.
Here is a transcript of the two January 31 panel discussions:
9:10 AM ET
CHUCK TODD: What kind of – what is the risk for Democrats to folding too quickly?
BETSY WOODRUFF SWAN [DAILY BEAST]: The challenge is that there’s the possibility the entire impeachment saga could backfire and that they have already gained the political benefit that they’re going to see from it. And that, from a political perspective, once this saga is finished, the tides could change for them, and it could become something that the President uses, as he already has, to fundraise.
9:11 AM ET
TODD: Ruth Marcus, you know, an argument I don’t remember Adam Schiff making last night, you know, when one of the favorite talking points of the President’s legal team was overturning an election. This would not be overturning an election, Mike Pence would be President of the United States.
RUTH MARCUS [WASHINGTON POST]: Yes.
TODD: That was never made very clear as much. They didn’t push back with that argument. Are you surprised?
MARCUS: A little bit because not only would it not be overturning an election, but in fact, when the framers, as we all remember, wrote the impeachment remedy into the Constitution, it was a situation where it actually would have been overturning an election in the sense that the vice president then was not the president’s ally, he was the president’s opponent.
TODD: Might be from – the chief rival, right, number two.
MARCUS: And yet they thought it was so important to have it there. And so, I think that's the reason, one of the two main reasons that Democrats have an incentive to keep pushing today. I think they need to get the Republicans to say where are you, are you a Lamar Alexander Republican who believes it was not a perfect phone call, who believes that there was a quid pro quo, who believes it was inappropriate? Or are you a Trump Republican who says everything is perfect, nothing wrong, he has complete power? That’s a very – that’s something that Republicans have little incentive to really become clear on and that’s why Democrats have incentive to put them to it.
TODD: Michael Steele, is this on the Democrats that they failed to persuade Lamar Alexander or is this just the reality that Donald Trump has so captured the party’s following? That literally, even though the Republican senators technically have leverage over this president right now, they have – they can end his presidency sometime in the next 24 hours. And yet, it is Donald Trump that is acting as if he has the leverage over them.
MICHAEL STEELE: He does.
TODD: And he does, right.
STEELE: He is the great manipulator. He has manipulated the party into believing that their mere existence relies on him, that everything about them is centered on him. That they are nothing without him, and he’s absolutely right. And that’s the sad part.
TODD: That was Lamar Alexander’s rationale...
STEELE: That was Lamar’s –
TODD: Saying you’re pouring gasoline on the fire.
TODD: Who’s pouring gasoline on that fire? Donald Trump.
STEELE: Exactly, Donald Trump.
9:50 AM ET
TODD: That is the risk here, I think, if you’re on the Republican side of the aisle, about witnesses and you’re ready to wrap up this trial, you’re exhausted or you’re worried about politics. The fear here is what you don’t know.
JOYCE VANCE: It has to be, right? And this is an interesting situation. You ask call of the right questions about Ukraine. Those shoes will inevitably drop. The question is what else don’t we know about it? It’s hard to believe that this President’s conduct was limited only to Ukraine. There will be a lot of incentive for people to surface any misconduct that’s known. And Republicans who vote to end this process without hearing from witnesses, they own it all.
TODD: Michael Steele, it feels as if Republicans are buying this bottle of wine and they really hope it ages well. But boy, it could age – this vote could age horribly, it could be like the Iraq war for the Democrats.
STEELE: You know. I think it’s aged. I think it’s already –
TODD: It’s gonna be a spoiled vintage?
STEELE: It’s a spoiled vintage, baby. It’s a spoiled vintage. Largely because this is a trajectory that the party’s been on for some time. So this is not – I mean, in one sense it’s a new space for us. The internal battles have sort of subsided for now. Trump has sort of –
TODD: The talk radio wing won.
STEELE: Right, right.
TODD: Right? The talk radio wing have beaten the chamber of commerce wing, bottom line.
STEELE: Exactly, and that’s the bottom line.
9:51 AM ET
TODD: Betsy, what do Democrats do in the House when inevitably three more smoking weapons show up, whether they’re guns or whatever. Right? I mean, we know it’s coming.
WOODRUFF SWAN: It’s gonna be really challenging for them. You know, I have been in touch with Lev Parnas’s lawyer over the last couple weeks, they are still in the process of producing materials to the house, they aren’t done yet. Now, it’s an unknown unknown, we don’t know what else is out there, we don’t know what else is on the phone, we don’t know what else has been given to Congress. A lot of this stuff is sometimes hard to understand, you have to have the right person looking at it. It gets into byzantine Ukrainian politics pretty rapidly. But we don’t know what else they might get. And I think the biggest issue for Democrats is going to be the likelihood that there’s a smoking gun. You know, that Lev Parnas got a text from Donald Trump saying, “We’ve got to hold back these weapons,” that doesn’t exist. However, the likelihood that there’s lots of new little interesting information bites that make Democrats say, “What are we supposed to do with this?” That make Republicans say, “What are we supposed to do with this?,” is really, really high.
TODD: I mean, we just don’t have the full story, Ruth. And the fact of the matter is, we know a full story’s gonna come out, I mean just like with Iraq, the weapons of mass destruction weren’t there.