After the Lewandowski debacle, Mystal appeared on The Beat to exhort the Democrats on the Judiciary Committee to let the experts handle the questioning of witnesses, and demonstrated why.
September 20, 2019

Corey Lewandowski seemed to run the table on the Judiciary Committee on Tuesday. He was stonewalling, pretending to not remember his own notes and conversations, getting in jabs about his alleged "good looks," plugs for his Senate run, and just getting away with grossly ethically deviant and defiant behavior. He and Brett Kavanaugh must be very fond of one another.

It was painful to watch even for the average layperson, but for legal eagles like Elie Mystal and Ari Melber, it was excruciating. Mystal joined Melber on "The Beat" on Wednesday to give a master class on the way to handle hostile, bratty, entitled, criminal douchebros like Lewandowski. He also gave the Democrats some pretty solid advice on how to move on with these proceedings.

MYSTAL: I was frustrated very much yesterday. If the Democrats want to move forward with this, if they want to truly put country over party, that has to start at home. They need to get over themselves and let the professionals handle this going forward. Nobody is is tuning into the hearings to see 17 Democratic Congresspeople waffle about on their poorly prepared questions that they got off of an episode of "Law and Order." This takes professional cross-examination to deal with the sneering hostility that the Trump people are giving them. They don't know how to do it. That's not a total slam on them. You have to be trained to do this. Pro tip, if you find yourself yelling at a witness, "That's a yes or no question!" Guess what? Your question was bad. Because if you asked a good question, there IS only two options, right?

Then Mystal demonstrated in a hilarious mini-cross-examination to drive the point even further home.

MYSTAL: Ari, do you like ties? That's not a yes or no question! Mr. Melber, are you wearing a tie today?


MYSTAL: Did you wear a tie yesterday?


MYSTAL: Here are 137 episodes of The Beat. Is this you in all the episodes? Are you wearing a tie in all these episodes? Mr. Melber! Do you want this committee to believe that you do not like ties?

THAT'S how you do it. It's an actual skill that the Democratic Congresspeople don't have. This whole hearing should have been designed to make Barry Berke the star. Because HE is the one who had the credentials and the experience to break Lewandowski down.

Melber harkened back to Watergate, and Senator Fred Thompson, who ended up on the show Mystal used as an example in his rant — "Law and Order." (Well-played, Ari, we see you...) But the point was Sen. Thompson was extremely skilled in cross-examination and THAT was the skill that was needed in that moment, like it is needed in this one. He reinforced Mystal's point that Dems on the Judiciary Committee who are anything short of BRILLIANT at cross-examination should cede the floor to people who are. All egos aside. And Mystal explained why.

MYSTAL: Everybody wants their little moment. But this is not what this should be. Democrats keep telling us that we are in unprecedented waters. With a uniquely criminal president. Well, they need to start acting like that. And the way you act like that is to have, again, these professional prosecutors, these professional attorneys really hammer down on these witnesses.

There's nothing -- there's a level of obstruction that the Trump administration is willing to go to. There's a level of disrespect that the Trump witnesses are willing to go to that these Congresspeople simply aren't used to dealing with. They are not ready to deal with that. And again, that's training. We have people who are specifically trained to deal with criminals and hostile witnesses and know how to illicit answers from them.

Then Melber asked Mystal a Yes or No question of his own...

MELBER: My last question for you, yes or no, is will you come back?

MYSTAL: I absolutely will come back. Because I don't lie when I'm here.

It was a great teaching moment for Dems, who cannot afford to miss ANY MORE learning opportunities like this. I hope they were watching. I hope they take his advice. Because if they don't, then it may turn out Nancy Pelosi's instinct for avoiding impeachment may be the the right one, but not for the reason everyone thinks. It might be because she knows what Mystal is saying is true - they aren't able to get out of their own way enough to do the job right.

I say that with all the love and faith in the Dems on that committee, but we need this and we cannot afford any missteps or missed opportunities like we had when Lewandowki was in front of them. DON'T f*ck it up. For the love of all that is holy, let the experts handle this.

Can you help us out?

For 18 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.