Near the end of Sunday’s Meet the Press, panelist Hugh Hewitt was questioned by moderator Chuck Todd whether the Ukraine scandal would hurt Democratic frontrunner Joe Biden. In his response, Hewitt stressed the importance of relying on “one standard” when it comes to surveilling Americans; arguing that if enough probable cause existed to use a FISA warrant against Carter Page, there was definitely enough evidence to justify a warrant to surveil Hunter Biden.
This idea baffled Todd, who seems to abide by a “double standard,” where Republicans deserve investigation at the slightest appearance of impropriety while Democrats always get the benefit of the doubt.
Hewitt expplained: “If there was enough evidence to use a FISA warrant against Carter Page for...being an agent or an accomplice of a foreign government, Hunter Biden should have been under the same surveillance from 2014 for the same reason that he is deeply cooperating with people whose interests are not aligned with the United States abroad.”
A visibly perplexed Todd replied: “I have no idea how that is even remotely relatable.”
New York Times Magazine’s Mark Leibovich made the case that “a lot of people are exhausted with everything around Donald Trump...I think this story has put a whole, new big pile of exhaustion onto this big, big sort of smoldering whatever it is we have.” Todd concluded that “you can be pro-Trump’s agenda and have Trump fatigue.”
Liberal historian Doris Kearns Goodwin recycled a tired media talking point about a scandal-free Obama administration: “What he (Biden) had going for him was he was part of the Obama administration, scandal-free, basically, no drama every day and he could return to that normalcy in a certain sense. Now he’s been made part of this drama.”
Goodwin also suggested that people will feel “sympathy” for Biden and contended that the allegations of wrongdoing on his behalf will cause him to think “I’m fighting for my honor and my reputation…not just fighting because I’m electable.”
Behaving like the former Johnson administration flack that she was nearly six decades ago, Goodwin begged Biden to give more speeches, do less campaigning, and do “what a person fighting for his life does.” No wonder Todd referred to Goodwin as his “favorite historian.”
Reacting to a clip of Biden weighing in on the renewed scrutiny he’s supposedly facing (but certainly not in the liberal media), Hewitt suggested that Biden “should go on 60 Minutes with Hunter Biden by his side and take…every question.” Even Goodwin conceded that “he has to deal with it more directly than he did in the clip we saw this morning.”
While the panel acknowledged that the intense focus on Ukraine may hurt Biden, it looks like the press will continue to act as his advisory board and unofficial legal defense team for the foreseeable future.
A transcript of the relevant portion of Sunday’s edition of Meet the Press is below. Click “expand” to read more.
NBC's Meet the Press
11:23 a.m. Eastern
CHUCK TODD: Back now with End Game. Let’s just cut through all of this. This is…the next four months, everybody’s got the same question politically; which is what’s Joe Biden going to look like at the end of this process? Here’s Biden dealing with this the first time publicly on Friday.
JOE BIDEN: My family handled this. But I’m worried about all the families and all the lives that are at stake in this election because of his failure as a President in terms of the substance of what needs to be done.
TODD: Yamiche, I have a theory that the presidential race for now basically freezes in place; Biden, Warren, but ultimately we’re all trying to figure out how does this impact Joe Biden?
YAMICHE ALCINDOR: I think there are political risks there and there are political benefits. I’ve been talking to sources inside the Biden campaign and they told me that this week, they saw their best fund-raising numbers ever since the second week of his campaign. So, what you saw was Elizabeth Warren starting to rise in Iowa; some polls showing for the first time that she was ahead. Now, they’re starting to see more interest in their campaign. I’m also hearing that they think it’s ridiculous to compare Hunter Biden to Don Jr, which is something that people are starting to do because Republicans are making the case that essentially, you’ve been saying that the President, Don Jr’s son, has been essentially profiting that of…off of the fact that his father is President and Hunter Biden was doing the same thing when his father was Vice President. That said, the Trump campaign says we also got $5 million 24 hours after Nancy Pelosi launched this formal impeachment inquiry. So, in some ways, there’s risks everywhere for both parts. Joe Biden doesn’t want to be talking about Hunter Biden’s business dealings in Ukraine and President Trump doesn’t want to be talking about the favor that he asked on that call.
TODD: Is this a…almost like if…if this damages Trump, then the only good news Republicans get out of it is to damage Biden with it?
HUGH HEWITT: Oh, he is definitely damaged. I…I, to your…your question, yes, that is good news. Joe Biden has been devastated by this. There is in The Washington Post this morning on the landing page, not only a column by me, which is a partisan column, but an in-depth report about Hunter Biden and Ukraine; doing what you did with Mike McFaul…a chronology building on the New Yorker profile and I believe in one standard. If there was enough evidence to use a FISA warrant against Carter Page for being an…probable cause for being an agent or an accomplice of a foreign government, Hunter Biden should have been under the same surveillance from 2014 forward for the same reasons that he is deeply cooperating with people whose interests are not aligned with the United States abroad.
TODD: I…I, I, I don’t know…Hugh…
HEWITT: Read the column.
TODD: I have no…I have no idea how that is even remotely relatable, but I will read your column.
MARK LEIBOVICH: I would put it under the umbrella, and…and Hugh wrote a great column. But I would put it under the umbrella of exhaustion. I…I think, as you said earlier, I think the American…you said a lot of people are, are exhausted from people…from the Democrats investigating Donald Trump. I would just say people are exhausted, a lot of people are exhausted with everything around Donald Trump. I think that happened before Ukraine. I think it started to show up in Donald Trump’s numbers. I think this story has put a whole new big pile of exhaustion onto this big, big sort of smoldering whatever it is we have.
TODD: You can be pro-Trump’s agenda and have Trump fatigue, Doris.
DORIS KEARNS GOODWIN: Yeah. I think that’s true. I think the problem for Joe Biden is that what he had going for him was that he was part of the Obama administration; scandal-free basically, no drama every day. And he could return to that normalcy in a certain sense. Now, he’s been made part of this drama. The benefit for him, because I agree with you there’s risks and benefits, is not only the sympathy that people might feel but if this really ups his campaign, if he realizes I’m fighting for my honor and my reputation. I’m not just fighting because I’m electable and he talks to reporters more and he gives more speeches and he does less campaign funding and he does what a person fighting for their life does.
TODD: I’ve got the head of the Nixon Library over here and I’ve got my favorite historian over there. Should Biden give a checkers speech?
HEWITT: You know, I think he should go on 60 Minutes with Hunter Biden by his side and take…
HEWITT: …every question.
TODD: Interesting. What do you think of a checkers speech? Could be quite effective?
GOODWIN: It could be quite effective. I think he has to deal with it more directly than he did in the clip we saw this morning.