Guest hosting The 11th Hour With Brian Williams Friday night, MSNBC’s Katy Tur piled on the already enormous amount of coverage given to Michael Cohen’s testimony on Capitol Hill and joined many of her colleagues in invoking Watergate comparisons and fantasizing about President Trump’s impeachment. Tur complained that the Democrats had not enthusiastically jumped on the impeachment bandwagon and argued that they had a “lot more” evidence against President Trump “than they had with Nixon.”
Prior to Cohen’s testimony, Tur had expressed profound excitement over the possibility that Michael Cohen would turn into John Dean 2.0. After mentioning that President Nixon’s former White House Counsel “John Dean helped bring down a president,” Tur asked one of her guests “do you think Michael Cohen might help bring down this president?”
Tur’s excitement continued well into Friday night, more than 48 hours after Cohen’s testimony wrapped up. Tur read aloud an NBC News article co-written by the network’s “objective” political director Chuck Todd, which asks “how do (Democrats) reconcile their growing belief that President Trump has committed crimes - especially after Michael Cohen’s testimony on Wednesday - with their hesitation/reluctance to consider impeachment?”
Tur appeared to express disappointment with some of the Congressional Democrats she had spoken with earlier in the week who refused to take a definitive stance on impeachment. Tur proceeded to ask one of her guests “why are Democrats so hesitant to start impeachment proceedings?” According to Tur, “they have an abundance of avenues to take, there's the obstruction angle, there’s Donald Trump’s taxes potentially...Michael Cohen accused him of committing a felony while he was the President of the United States. That’s a lot more than they had with Nixon.”
Tur and the media as a whole come across as the journalists who cried wolf when it comes to the idea of President Trump’s impeachment. Back in August, when Cohen first pled guilty to campaign finance violations, cable news figures used the “I” word 222 times in one day.
A transcript of the relevant portion of Friday’s edition of The 11th Hour with Brian Williams is below. Click “expand” to read more.
The 11th Hour with Brian Williams
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
REP. RAJA KRISHNAMOORTHI: Is there any other wrongdoing or illegal act that you are aware of regarding Donald Trump that we haven’t yet discussed today?
MICHAEL COHEN: Yes. And, again, those are part of the investigation that’s currently being looked at by the Southern District of New York. I lied to Congress when Mr. Trump stopped negotiating the Moscow tower project in Russia. I stated that we stopped negotiating in January of 2016. That was false. Our negotiations continued for months later during the campaign.
REP. JACKIE SPEIER: How many times did Mr. Trump ask you to threaten an individual or entity on his behalf?
COHEN: Quite a few times.
SPEIER: 50 times?
SPEIER: 100 times?
SPEIER: 200 times.
SPEIER: 500 times?
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
TUR: That was more damning testimony to come out of Michael Cohen’s seven-hour-long House hearing this week. He implicated the President in numerous crimes, and even provided the committee with a copy of a $35,000 check he says Trump wrote to cover a hush money payment. This new information puts Democrats in an interesting position as they decide whether or not to move forward with impeachment proceedings. As NBC News first, first read put it, “How do they reconcile their growing belief that President Trump has committed crimes - especially after Michael Cohen’s testimony on Wednesday - with their hesitation/reluctance to consider impeachment?” Speaker Nancy Pelosi has avoided the question all week, and Democrats I’ve spoken with are hesitant to take a firm position.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
REP. JOAQUIN CASTRO: We’re going to wait for the Mueller report. I think that we’ve got to be cautious about it. Impeachment is the most serious thing that you can do in American democracy. So it’s not ever something that you can take lightly.
TUR: Have you heard anything today that would lead you to believe that the President committed a high crime or a misdemeanor?
REP. ERIC SWALWELL: Yes. But I am not going to make a conclusion. I’ve heard evidence. Evidence is not a conclusion. But it’s a reason to keep looking and testing other accounts.
KATY TUR: With us tonight, Anita Kumar, White House Correspondent and Associate Editor for Politico. And Twitter’s go to presidential fact-checker, Daniel Dale, Washington Bureau Chief for The Toronto Star. Daniel, why are Democrats so hesitant to start impeachment proceedings? They have an abundance of, of avenues to take, there’s the obstruction angle, there’s Donald Trump’s taxes potentially, what they may hold. Michael Cohen accused him of committing a felony while he was the President of the United States. That’s a lot more than they had with Nixon.
DANIEL DALE: I think there’s the political reason and the substantive sort of common sense reason. The political reason is, you know, they’re coming off a midterm where they had a wave in the House. They won the popular vote by a lot. They see a President who already has very poor approval ratings. They think they’re well-positioned going into the 2020 election and they know that the consequences of pursuing impeachment can be unpredictable. You know, you can spark a backlash among the independents who have been strongly trending toward Democrats after 2016 and so they don’t want to do anything what will upset what they think is a favorable position. And then the, the substantive reason is that they simply don’t have all of the evidence that they’re going to have. You know, the Mueller report is, is not out. You have various other investigations that are not completed. And so I think that their attitude is that they will, if and when they pursue this, they will be able to make the case to the public that they were forced into it. It’s not something they jumped into. But it’s something that the evidence compelled them to do. And I don’t think they believe that with all of the stuff outstanding, including the Mueller investigation, that they’re at that point yet.
TUR: Nina, or Anita, excuse me, are all of the Democrats in line on this, or is there some impatient among a contingent of Democrats that could potentially move Pelosi in a different direction?
ANITA KUMAR: Oh, definitely. You are seeing that rank and file Democrats, some of them anyway, really do want to talk about impeachment; do want leadership to go that way. But I don’t know that they’re going to break her. I mean, she and the other chair, chairmen and chairwomen are pretty adamant that the way to go about this is through many investigations. I think at, at least six committees now are looking at various aspects of the President, the President’s business, the President’s family; his conduct. So there’s a lot of different ways to go at this. And I think that they think that they can just go after so many different avenues, that that’s harmful politically in its own right; it’s also harmful legally. I mean, you know, it gets, it gets at that same thing without going to this politically tricky impeachment avenue.