ABC, NBC: Congress Can ‘Read Between the Lines’ to Impeach Trump

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With the infamous phone call between President Trump’s and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky appearing to be a nothingburger following the release of a transcript of the conversation, the liberal media appeared to be urging Congress to find a way to use it for impeachment anyway. During the Wednesday evening newscasts of ABC and NBC, ‘reading between the lines’ was a common refrain.

On ABC’s World News Tonight, anchor David Muir brought on chief legal analyst Dan Abrams and admitted that there wasn’t a demand for dirt on Joe and Hunter Biden in exchange for military aid. “But you have said, the pressure does not need to be that explicit here,” Muir teed up Abrams.

“That's right, David. As a legal matter, you don't need a quid pro quo. You just need to be able to prove the person knowingly solicited something of value from a foreign national to try to influence the 2020 election,” Abrams argued.

Abrams confessed that “that kind of case is hard to prove and win,” then he suggested the “technical legal question isn't the most important one tonight.” According to Abrams, “the real question is the political one” and all Congress needed to do to hit that low bar was “read between the lines.”

“Sure, it would be a stronger case against the President if there had been a specific statement or demand that linked dollars to help, but in the criminal law and in the impeachment process, a court, or in this case, the Congress, can certainly read between the lines,” he explained.

 

 

Meanwhile, on NBC Nightly News, chief foreign affairs correspondent Andrea Mitchell was making a similar argument about implicit pressure being put on President Zelensky:

Well, what is surprising to a lot of people whom I've talked to, former officials, some current officials, Democrats, as well as privately some Republicans is that he's raising the issue of a political opponent, Joe Biden and Biden's family to a newly-elected foreign leader in a very vulnerable country. A country that has been invaded by Russia, that needs military aid, only one week after he had frozen Congressionally approved military aid, weapons for this leader.

“So this gives him so much leverage,” she whined. “He doesn't have to say anything explicitly and it raises a lot of questions about the way he's conducting foreign policy.”

Nightly News anchor Lester Holt then turned to NBC political director and Meet the Press moderator Chuck Todd to get his hot take on how much worse things had gotten for Trump since the release of the transcript. According to Todd, Trump’s government was “implicated” in his misdeeds.

“Well, I think, he's in a much worse place because all of a sudden now, he's got a Justice Department that is implicated by this phone call, where the President makes these references to his attorney general,” Todd declared. “The State Department apparently is who Rudy Giuliani says put him in touch with the Ukrainian government. So, now the State Department has been implicated.”

But the DOJ has said that there has been no communication between Attorney General William Barr and Ukrainian officials. And the phone transcript showed that it was Zelensky who was the one that brought up having Giuliani visit Ukraine. Of course, neither network cared to report that the DOJ’s inspector general warned that the whistleblower had an anti-Trump “political bias.”

The transcripts are below, click "expand" to read:

ABC’s World News Tonight
September 25, 2019
6:41:05 p.m. Eastern

DAVID MUIR: I want to bring in ABC’s chief legal analyst, Dan Abrams with us tonight. And Dan, because we have heard this over and over again, from the President and his team over the last 24 hours, that there was no quid pro quo here, that the President never talked about the hundreds of millions of dollars in U.S. military aid when he was talking about investigating Joe Biden. But you have said, the pressure does not need to be that explicit here.

DAN ABRAMS: That's right, David. As a legal matter, you don't need a quid pro quo. You just need to be able to prove the person knowingly solicited something of value from a foreign national to try to influence the 2020 election.

But that kind of case is hard to prove and win, but the technical legal question isn't the most important one tonight. The real question is the political one. Sure, it would be a stronger case against the President if there had been a specific statement or demand that linked dollars to help, but in the criminal law and in the impeachment process, a court, or in this case, the Congress, can certainly read between the lines. David.

MUIR: All right, our legal analyst Dan Abrams with us tonight, as well. Dan, thank you.

 

NBC Nightly News
September 25, 2019
7:09:06 p.m. Eastern

LESTER HOLT: Let's bring in Chuck Todd now in Washington and Andrea Mitchell here in New York to talk a little bit more about this. Andrea, you've covered seven presidents. You've looked through this memo of the conversation. What stood out to you?

ANDREA MITCHELL: Well, what is surprising to a lot of people whom I've talked to, former officials, some current officials, Democrats, as well as privately some Republicans is that he's raising the issue of a political opponent, Joe Biden and Biden's family to a newly-elected foreign leader in a very vulnerable country. A country that has been invaded by Russia, that needs military aid, only one week after he had frozen Congressionally approved military aid, weapons for this leader.

So this gives him so much leverage. He doesn't have to say anything explicitly and it raises a lot of questions about the way he's conducting foreign policy.

HOLT: And let me turn to Chuck, now. Chuck, the White House put out this memo of a call. The President insisting it would help him, nothing to see here. 24 hours later, though, is the President doing a better or worse place in your view?

CHUCK TODD: Well, I think, he's in a much worse place because all of a sudden now, he's got a Justice Department that is implicated by this phone call, where the President makes these references to his attorney general. Justice Department says they don't know -- the Attorney General doesn't know what he's talking about here.

But all of a sudden, the Justice Department is implicated. The State Department apparently is who Rudy Giuliani says put him in touch with the Ukrainian government. So, now the State Department has been implicated.

In some ways, the release to this memo, I think, has shown that there are more tentacles here. And I think things are going to get a lot messier and a lot harder for this President as this investigation continues.

HOLT: All right. Chuck and Andrea, thanks to both of you.

NB Daily Events Trump Impeachment Foreign Policy Europe Ukraine Conspiracy Theories Broadcast Television ABC World News Tonight NBC NBC Nightly News Video Dan Abrams Andrea Mitchell Chuck Todd Donald Trump

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