March 2, 2019

Now that Democrats have started doing the job Republicans refused to do for the last two years, and are actually looking into the criminality of this corrupt Trump administration, beginning with the very damaging testimony from Michael Cohen before the House Oversight Committee this week, the right is gearing up for the next set of hearings and already doing damage control for Trump before the House even has a chance to call another witness.

Here's the spin from the talking heads on this Friday's Outnumbered on Fox, complaining that Democrats are "moving the goalposts" from Russian collusion to financial crimes, as though both things aren't worthy of being investigated, and calling Democrats carrying out their oversight duties a "witch hunt" aimed at impeaching Trump.

FAULKNER: I will ask the indulgence of the couch and then I will pass the baton. What is the goal here? Because it seems like the goalpost is moving. Have we just shifted from was there Russia coordination, or as some call it, collusion, to can we get the president in on anything including his finances? And would that make it a witch hunt?

GOODSTEIN: I think what the Democrats would say is they're carrying out a constitutional duty of oversight. Think about, again, what we knew in 2017 at 2018 when the Republicans controlled the House about Manafort, Gates pleaded guilty, Flynn plead guilty. We knew about Stormy Daniels. We knew about any number of different things none of which were subject to hearings. So this is long overdue and not a witch hunt. So we will see.

FRANCIS: I would say... Rachel, I'll ask you, because what Richard is, he is talking very much about Russia. It seems like, I think this is the road you are going down. It seemed like from some of the questioning and some of the things that we've heard out of Congress this week is that they're kind of shifting away from Russia and towards financial crimes as a way to undercut or try to impeach the president.

At the same time, there was a great article, I think it was in Axios last week talking about, or at the beginning of this week, talking about one place where they are not talking about Russia and they are not talking about impeachment, and they're not talking about financial crimes is Iowa.

CAMPOS-DUFFY: Right. Or Wisconsin. Or Michigan.

FRANCIS: Well sure. The Democrats go out and they try to get support and get ready for 2020, but the rest of the world... well, the rest of this country, is focused on what can candidates do to improve their lives, versus take down this current president.

CAMPOS-DUFFY: So first, I want to agree with you Richard, because I've been listening to Chris Christie and he's been very critical of how the GOP has not been defending him. They've just been saying Cohen's a rat. He's a liar. He's a rat, and we kind of already know that just looking at him. He looks super shady, right?

And so the question then is why weren't they defending Trump? And Chris Christie says this is a failure of the communications team at the White House and coordinating with those in the hearing who absolutely had to know what was coming with Cohen. So I will agree with you that they didn't give a good job.

That said, back to your question Melisa. I just believe this is a big miscalculation on the part of the Democrats to shift from collusion, which, by the way, I think they think they know that nothing major is going to come out of Mueller. That's an indication that they believe, and they've moved now to his personal finances. And I will say that one, no one is talking about that in Iowa. No one is talking about it in the places that Democrats need to win, but more importantly the people who voted for Trump and the people they need to win over in order to win in 2020 already know he is a playboy who cheats on his wife. They didn't care about that. They already know he's somebody... he's a business

FAULKNER: Well, actually, no. Some of those women who are in the suburbs do care about those things.

CAMPOS-DUFFY: But let me just finish what I'm saying. They... people know and are kind of like... everyone wants to pay as little as possible in taxes. No one is going to... you know, he won without having turned in his tax return. So this is a witch hunt. It's moved over and I don't think it's going to work for them.

FAULKNER: Morgan. I want to get you in a conversation based on some of the evidence that came out of boxes that were first with the FBI and then with Michael Cohen. Specifically, the check that was written after the president was already in the white house for $35,000. Michael Cohen says it represents an agreement that they had to repay money that was paid per the stormy Daniels case. And, so does that change anything seeing that particular piece of evidence? There was another check too that was signed by Weisselberg and Don Jr. for the same amount.

ORTAGUS: So I think if you... so the Southern District has purview over that particular, and not Mueller. The Southern District I think will have to determine what the intent was behind that check. We have Michael Cohen, as you started out saying, a convicted liar, who said that this is what it's for. We saw Jim Jordan say that he is putting Cohen forward for at least six, what he thinks is six times that he perjured himself in the open hearing, just this week.

So that is going to be something for the Southern District to determine. I think we are really seeing this week goes beyond oversight. For me, this is plan C in the process. Plan A was getting the president out via almost a bureaucratic coup, as some people would call it, by political leadership in the FBI and the DOJ. Plan B was Mueller.

And so plan C is, you know what, we think this Mueller report, there might not be any collusion, there might not be a smoking gun here. Ao if there's nothing in the Mueller report, plan C is to impeach him in the House via these methods, and that's where I think you're going to see the rift among Democrats.

We're going to talk about this later, not just in voting, but Nancy Pelosi and top Democrat leadership know that this is not... it's politically toxic for them.

It's politically toxic with Republicans' base, who apparently don't care how many crimes are committed as long as Trump continues to stick it to the libs and demonize people of color and immigrants, but those people are never going to vote for a Democrat as long as they're breathing anyway.

If enough criminal behavior is exposed during these hearings to the public, who, for the most part, is not supportive of Trump or his administration, it's going to eventually become politically toxic to Republicans as well. How much damage they're willing to tolerate being done to our democracy in the mean time remains to be seen.

Can you help us out?

For nearly 20 years we have been exposing Washington lies and untangling media deceit, but now Facebook is drowning us in an ocean of right wing lies. Please give a one-time or recurring donation, or buy a year's subscription for an ad-free experience. Thank you.


We welcome relevant, respectful comments. Any comments that are sexist or in any other way deemed hateful by our staff will be deleted and constitute grounds for a ban from posting on the site. Please refer to our Terms of Service for information on our posting policy.