As the panel on Tuesday’s MTP Daily reacted to the release of the House Intelligence Committee’s impeachment report, host Chuck Todd repeatedly griped that the Democrats have not pushed hard enough as they seek to move public opinion regarding the impeachment inquiry. Throughout the entire segment, Todd acted as if he still served in his old role as a staffer on Democrat Tom Harkin’s 1992 presidential campaign and not in his new role as an objective journalist.
After introducing the panel, Todd complained that every decision the Democrats have “made on how they conducted this investigation has been with a political, almost fear on the other side. They have...a bunch more leads to pursue and they’re not doing it.”
The other panelists agreed, with MSNBC analyst Howard Fineman comparing President Trump to a mob boss. Later, Fineman pleaded with House Democrats not to “rush it through at the moment when their lead’s dangling out here to get a full picture of a kind that we need for the sake of understanding what’s happened to the constitutional process and the rule of law and…and what this means to history,” adding “this has to be done.”
Todd also seemed disappointed that “the Democrats...decided not to have a campaign-style war room...to make their case” about impeachment. From the Democrats’ perspective, they don’t really need a “campaign-style war room.” After all, they have the liberal media making their case for them 24/7.
Reacting to the Democrats’ supposed hesitancy to move forward with impeachment, Fineman resorted to the use of a metaphor: “what it sort of sounds like is the Democrats are afraid that they’ve caught a whale and not just a big fish and there’s no time…to reel it in…I’m sorry, buddy. You go fishing, you pull up what you pull up…I’m sorry that history is conspiring against you. But this is what you have to do.”
Towards the end of the segment, Todd bemoaned that while “the entire Republican Party is united around one message right now in protecting the President,” “the Democratic Party...is not.”
After expressing disgust that “the Democratic presidential candidates get off of impeachment,” Todd asked panelist and WBUR correspondent Kimberly Atkins “if you thought he needed to be removed from office immediately, isn’t the move saying ‘nobody campaign for three weeks while you watch the hearings?’”
When Atkins pointed out that “you still have Democrats saying ‘we don't want to talk about impeachment,’” Todd argued that those who want to focus on other issues are “sending the message...that it isn’t the existential threat that Adam Schiff believes it is.”
From attacking Republican Senator John Kennedy as a Russian pawn to complaining that the Democrats don’t focus enough on impeachment, Chuck Todd has shown his true colors as a partisan operative masquerading as a journalist.
A transcript of the relevant portion of Tuesday’s edition of MTP Daily is below. Click “expand” to read more.
05:06 p.m. Eastern
CHUCK TODD: I’m joined here on set by WBUR Senior Correspondent, MSNBC contributor Kimberly Atkins; MSNBC analyst Howard Fineman, and Senior Vice President at the American Enterprise Institute Danielle Pletka, also an MSNBC contributor. Kimberly, I…I go to this is where, I think Democrats on the one hand, have said this whole time, they don’t want to look too political with this. And yet, every decision they’ve made on how they conducted this investigation has been with a political…almost fear on the other side. They have all…a bunch more leads to pursue and they’re not doing it.
KIMBERLY ATKINS: Yeah.
TODD: Is that a mistake?
ATKINS: It quite possibly so. Especially when, just as Jeff pointed out, one of the big revelations in this report comes from Lev Parnas, who is connecting Rudy Giuliani, one of the many ways that this report connects to Rudy Giuliani and the information that he has is still rolling in. There is…there is a…a treasure trove of potential evidence coming out of that Southern District of New York prosecution that could be related to this. You have also a lot of people tying this to the Mueller report again; that this is…represents a pattern of practice, that there is an attempt to…to meddle with an election followed by obstructive acts to try to cover it up. It’s very reminiscent of that. The report itself is written in a way that’s very similar to the Mueller report in that perhaps we have that Mueller report too, why are we stopping at just im…im…impeachment…just the Ukraine situation? Some Democrats are saying. Others are saying “look, this is a clear-cut case. Put it to the American people, that’s all you need.” And so, there is that tension between the Democrats right now, but the more that we learn, the harder it is for them to make this case that…that the case is closed when it’s clearly not.
TODD: And I get it, I actually think you have a leadership of the Democratic Party, Howard and Dani, who look at this wall of obstruction on the right and we can sit here and debate how it happened. It’s happened, it’s a wall of ob…it ain’t going to break. It at least ain’t going to break this month. But there is danger in leaving stones unturned.
HOWARD FINEMAN: Well, I think…I think that the committee and…and Chairman Schiff make it clear that they would like to pursue not just the head of the family, but the whole organization.
TODD: There’s a lot to pursue here.
FINEMAN: And…and they say in their introduction to their report, they…the…by name, mentioned Mulvaney, Pompeo, and Perry, the…the so-called three amigos.
TODD: Well, they weren’t the original.
FINEMAN: The original, the…Mulvaney, Pompeo, and Perry.
TODD: They’re another set.
FINEMAN: Another set.
TODD: They’re the cabinet…
TODD: …they’re the cabinet-level guys, don’t forget Sondland.
FINEMAN: But, but…
TODD: Perry gets to be in two…
FINEMAN: But they’re…
TODD: …amigo groups.
FINEMAN: They’re making the point here that there’s more to the story in terms of the length…
FINEMAN: …of how long the Ukraine thing was going on and the depth within the administration. And basically, what they’re saying here is that there was a giant criminal conspiracy that went on for many months if not more than a year…
TODD: And…and by the way, there’s more to it but we’re not going to tell you.
FINEMAN: There’s more to it but we’re not going to go after it so I find that as a reporter to be rather unsatisfying.
DANIELLE PLETKA: So…
TODD: But I get the politics, I guess, or do you?
PLETKA: I…I don’t get the politics, actually at…at all. I…I think the House leadership has just got to…sort of two personalities on this issue. One in which they want to dive in and investigate everything and the other in which they want to hold back for reasons that I think we all agree we don’t actually understand. But there’s something else at play and if I may say something that no one wants to hear. I think the American people have decided that Donald Trump did this. And that he leveraged U.S. foreign assistance, security assistance, in order to a…achieve political benefit for himself and dirt on a political rival. They’ve decided he did it; they’ve decided that probably it isn’t impeachable and they’re really not that interested in the details.
PLETKA: That’s a problem.
TODD: Here’s the thing. The question you have to ask yourself is did that happen organically? Or has this been a very successful campaign on the right? And no…my point is this, the Democrats chose not to engage in that campaign. The Republicans did a good job of…of basically putting those moderate House members on the spot on impeachment. And it has pressured them and this has pressured Pelosi, I think.
ATKINS: Yeah, I think that that’s definitely right. I think part of it is the good counter-campaign and that’s where…
TODD: They haven’t had one.
ATKINS: …the Republicans…Well, the Republicans now have landed on, well if it is improper, then it’s probably not removable. It’s that place that you say that the American people are at. Because otherwise what are the other choices? To say that it’s…
TODD: No other good choices.
ATKINS: …it’s perfectly fine to do this?
TODD: Well, look at how he reacted to censure.
ATKINS: That it’s okay?
TODD: By the way, look at how he reacted; look at how Trump reacted to censure today.
FINEMAN: Chuck, Chuck, the…
ATKINS: You’re right.
TODD: I didn’t do anything wrong.
FINEMAN: Chuck, the…the Dem…the Democrats already have a lot of sunk costs here on this. In other words, they’re in this thing.
TODD: They’re all in.
FINEMAN: They’re all in. They may as well continue. I mean they said that “look, we’re doing this out of duty to the country and to the constitution and to history. We’re not doing this for political reasons.” Fine. I take them at their word. If they’re doing it that way, then pursue it. And however much time it takes beyond…I’m not saying however much time. But certainly, don’t rush it through at the moment when their lead’s dangling out here to get a full picture of a kind that we need for the sake of understanding what’s happened to the constitutional process and the rule of law and…and what this means to history. That has to be done.
TODD: Right. Sorry.
PLETKA: I…I take your point. And…and, you know, we can argue about the correct sort of philosophical and legalistic approach to this. But first of all, it’s the first time I’ve heard anybody say the Republicans have got good game. I’m, I’m delighted to hear it.
TODD: Well, on this, they have. On this, they have.
PLETKA: But I have…
TODD: Because they all…
ATKINS: It’s been effective.
TODD: Financially, the amount of money…
TODD: The amount of money they’ve put into these House districts has been very effective.
PLETKA: But I also think the Democrats…
TODD: It spooked a bunch of them.
PLETKA: …have played this game wrong. Look, I was away last week; as a lot of people were. And so at…you know, at like 5:00 in the afternoon, with my nice glass of wine, I’d come back to my 9,000 New York Times and Washington Post…Post alerts, you know, Parnas spoke to Giuliani, Giuliani spoke to Nunes, Nunes spoke to so-and-so. And I was just like, delete.
PLETKA: You know, and I’m sorry, you know, people…people like us, this is our business, and even I can’t sit down and…
TODD: No, I take your point.
TODD: I’d go back…but the thing is you’re not wrong. But I…what I’m saying is this didn’t happen organically. The Democrats did not, they decided not to have a campaign-style war room…
TODD: …to make their case. Politically, they thought that would be problematic. I get that. It now, though, has put them in this situation.
ATKINS: It’s a lot harder and one concern that they had was the fact that there is an election coming up. That there are some of these…the Democrats are together but there are still more moderate Democrats who come from districts who are tired of all this and who are worried about their own seats and worried about their…their fellow Democratic seats. And that was the idea to…that they could put forward this Ukrainian set of facts, get that done, get that wrapped up before the…the early primary states started going in their primaries. That’s becoming more difficult, it’s becoming more unruly. But it was a real and understandable concern…
ATKINS: …going in.
FINEMAN: What it…what it…what it sort of sounds like is the Democrats are afraid that they’ve caught a whale and not just a big fish and there’s no time…
TODD: That’s an interesting way of putting it.
FINEMAN: …there’s no time to reel it in.
TODD: It’s a big…
FINEMAN: I’m sorry, buddy. You go fishing, you pull up what you pull up. And, and…
TODD: An interesting way…the whale is too big.
FINEMAN: I mean, they can’t.
TODD: We’re going to need a bigger investigative bubble.
FINEMAN: A big…you know, I’m…I’m sorry, I’m sorry that history is conspiring against you. But this is what you have to do.
TODD: I…I guess the…the…the thing that I wonder here…here’s another question that Mark Murray and I were tackling. Which is the entire Republican Party is united around one message right now in protecting the President but the Democratic Party, Kimberly Atkins, is not. The Demo…the Democratic presidential candidates get off of impeachment. If you thought he needed to be removed from office immediately, isn’t the move saying “nobody campaign for three weeks while you watch the hearings?”
ATKINS: You would think that that’s what…
TODD: Right. Like, should that have been the move?
ATKINS: Maybe. Perhaps. Because that’s one thing that they more or less, the candidates…they all said yes, I’m for impeachment and then they moved…
TODD: And then they moved on.
ATKINS: …to start talking about healthcare. …
TODD: Back to weather. Don’t campaign.
ATKINS: And they left all of that…
ATKINS: …back in Washington and they’re off talking about different things.
FINEMAN: Now, Kamala Harris has time to do that.
ATKINS: Well, you have more people…
FINEMAN: Take the jump ahead but now she has time…
TODD: Jumping ahead.
ATKINS: But yes, that has…
TODD: You gave away…spoiler alert.
ATKINS: That has been the play and you still have Democrats saying “oh, we don’t want to talk about impeachment on the, you know, people want to talk about this.”
TODD: Well, then you’re sending the message…
TODD: …that it isn’t the existential threat that Adam Schiff believes it is.
ATKINS: But Republicans are sending the message that this is a way…
TODD: …this is a coup.
ATKINS: …this is a coup, this is a way to up-end the 2016 election and to try to stop the 2020 election and for a lot of people, that…that seems reasonable enough and I think a lot of Republicans are buying that.
PLETKA: But I…I, I, I think you really hit the nail on the head in terms of…in terms of, you know, the candidates versus…versus the elected members in the House. Because the elected members in the House don’t seem to be talking to their districts, they seem to be talking to us, okay? And the candidates are out there trying to speak to the American people. If they are on a different message than the House of Representatives, what does that tell us about what the American people think?
TODD: That’s an important thing to end on and think about. I…it’s a question that I think, we’ve been asking over and over again. The presidential candidates aren’t on the same message, that’s a problem.