Last Roundup of Impeachment Thoughts Before Thanksgiving

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S1: Rudy, I don’t I don’t even know. I know he was going to go to Ukraine. And I think he canceled a trip. But, you know, Rudy has other clients other than me one.

S2: So you didn’t you didn’t direct him to go there on your behalf. You know.

S1: But no. But but you have to understand, Rudy is a great corruption fighter.

S3: This president only cares about the big stuff. And when he said, well, there’s big stuff going on here, there’s a war with Russia. So I unexplained no big stuff that helps him personally like this Biden investigation that Giuliani wants.

S4: Some of you on this committee appear to believe that Russia and its security services did not conduct campaign against our country and that perhaps somehow for some reason planned it.

S5: This is a fictional novice’s.

S6: Hello and welcome to tramcars time, Virginia Heffernan. So kids these days, they have it so tough with all this wall-to-wall digital madness, everyone on their iPhones practically from birth air pods, Snapchat, tick tock, Twitter. And forget about the online bullying, right? Kids can be so cyber cruel, which is why it’s good to see those sweet kids in Baltimore and in the fresh air hearing an address from inspirational speaker Melania Trump of America’s Camelot and engaging in some good old fashioned off line bullying.

S7: Boo.

S2: It’s the simple things, you know. Be thankful around the Thanksgiving repast that people in our great nation still greet each other face to face. And if for whatever reason, they don’t like someone for handmade ending the destruction of democracy while effecting a difference to children in cages, they boo the hell out of her.

S8: This is what the Mayflower had in mind.

S6: My guest today is Brian Beutler. He’s kind of the Dwayne Johnson, the rock of political reporting and podcasting. Everyone loves him and he’s got an excellent heart and shrewd mind that actually worked in concert, as those two things don’t always do. He’s the editor in chief of Crooked Media and host of the extraordinary podcast Rubicon about all things Trump impeachment. I am a compulsive listener to Rubicon and I recommend it to all of you. I’ve wanted to have him on for a long time and I’m very pleased to be able to talk to Brian today. Brian, welcome to Trump Cast. Thank you for having me.

S9: I don’t know how it’s taken me so long to have you on, but I’m going to give you a tall order today, OK? I don’t know anything about sports, but right now I’m just all using the sports metaphors.

S8: So I want you to be sweeper today and just like clean up this impeachment story, button it up so we can all go and eat some turkey while we brood on your closing statement. Okay. About the hearing so far.

S10: So I guess we should start at the beginning of the hearings. Or do you want to just start from.

S2: Go ahead. I want to hear. I mean, there’s some new reviews. And we were just saying 50 percent of people and some little things have moved here and there. Republicans have moved around. So it’s not like the hearings did nothing. Right. But it is still astounding that 50 percent of the people want Trump not just impeached, not just impeachment hearing, not just to be compelled his people compelled to follow subpoenas, but simply removed from office. Let’s just get him out of it.

S11: It has not happened in modern history that public polling has shown that more than half the country wants to remove a sitting president from office outside of the context of an election. It didn’t happen for well, I guess it did happen for Nixon. Thus he resigned. But since then, it it did not happen for Clinton during his impeachment for George W. Bush, when there was some some clamor among liberals to impeach him. It never happened for Obama when conservatives on the right were pushing for his impeachment. But Donald Trump, it’s it’s what, 51 percent say they that he should be removed. And in most polls, a higher percent want him to be impeached with people reserving judgment or deciding that, you know, they’re not sure that they’re at at removal yet. So that’s completely remarkable.

S8: It also, you know, we keep trying to take the mood of the nation about 2020. And I think the baseline thing is this is a very radical attitude. Whoever that president is to want, you know, to take the president out of office, not just as a kind of comical, I wish he’d go away. I had that plenty with Clinton. But just let’s just remove him from office come what may. I feel like the candidates nobody is actually taking the pulse of the country, which feels like, you know, if it’s not in a violent frame of mind, it’s at least ready for regime change.

S11: I mean, it tells you a little bit about why things outside of the context of the impeachment process are happening the way they are. Right. If you’re a sitting president and a whole raft of polling shows that more than half the country wants you to be impeached and removed from office, you’re in a really, really desperate situation. And if you were if you were the party that’s that’s running the impeachment, all all your job is apart from conducting yourselves in in, you know, some sort of a board above board way is to hold that 51 percent or 54 percent or whatever the number is together and not let it fracture. Right. It suggests a very high intensity of distaste for the sitting president. And so making sure that that the reasons people don’t like him remain front and center is absolutely critical to defeating him, assuming he isn’t removed. And that also explains why Republican politics has outside of the impeachment process has sort of devolved into various efforts to fracture the Democratic coalition to try to recruit a third party spoiler, etc. You can see the justification. I mean, you know, it’s not rocket science and you kind of expect parties to do stuff like that anyway. But you look at. The polling around impeachment and it becomes super obvious why Republicans are just desperate for Tulsi Gabbard or somebody else to mount a third party spoiler campaign, because without that, with with unity around whoever the Democratic nominee is, it’s going to be very, very, very rough sailing for Republicans in the fall.

S9: I mean, and there is a reason to continue. You don’t usually hang on the polls, but there is a reason to try to pay attention, at least in the purple states, because McConnell has his eye on the polls in the states that matter. And I want to get after you. You tell me right where you think the state of the impeachment is, whether you think you know, I think the question that, well, it’s the most fun to speculate is will McConnell knife?

S12: So I think I can merge my job of sweeping up all the news of impeachment with some observations about how the polling has worked.

S2: Please don’t hold your beer. Okay. And how the hearings have affected it.

S11: These are non-scientific observations, but I think they do fit the facts pretty well. Is that before the hearings began. Support from Peterson was under water simply by uniting behind impeachment. Democrats managed to pull impeachment above water and slowly thereafter it eclipsed 50 percent. And we’d been basically in that universe ever since. The hearings barely budged that at all, even though they told this extremely dramatic story, starting with the efforts to oust Murray Evanovich and ending with the confession of a quid pro quo by Gordon Sunland. All of that. However many hours. What was it? 12 witnesses, seven hearings. Didn’t really change the impeachment polling at all, with the possible exception of sunland’s testimony. I’ve seen some indication the polling averages that since that hearing and then the next day headlines across America with these screaming A-1 images that just said, you know, we were following the president’s orders.

S12: Yes, there was a quid pro quo. Trump was behind it all that there’s been a very slight uptick in support since then, which suggests that like the power of dramatic revelation.

S2: Yeah, there was a kind of a remember a million years ago when Ellen DeGeneres came out. Yep, I’m gay. Was that time’s cover? I felt like if Time magazine cover, I felt like there was a. Yep, there was quid pro quo. Yes.

S12: And you know, and I feel like the lesson if you’re if you’re Democrats and you’re weighing impeachment as a constitutional and moral imperative, but also a political process, that is, you know, that is supposed to have the will of the people behind it. And it’s supposed to make it impossible for the the supporters of the president to protect him. What they spent these impeachment hearings doing, I think, smartly is closing off all potential avenues for Republicans to find defenses of Trump. And some of these defenses have been remarkably weak and very easy to shut down. But others have been, you know, a little bit more reasonable sounding. Or, you know, just the facts needed to come out. Maybe it was just the one call would stilinski. The quid pro quo was never consummated. So why does it matter in the process of the public? Impeachment hearings has been largely about saying, no, you don’t get to use that excuse, this excuse, any other excuse, if you’re going to vote to not impeach him, if you’re gonna vote to acquit him, you are going to vote to own the very clearly established series of crimes that we’ve uncovered and put forth. And so, you know, sign on the dotted line. That is the goal is to make Republicans if they insist on protecting Trump, they they like own the fact that 54 percent of the country wants him removed. They own the fact that what is it, 60 plus percent of the country think that he did something very wrong.

S9: That’s right. I think 70, actually, according to one poll, which is also interesting, that people are walking around holding that in their heads.

S11: Right. And seemingly, there’s no indication from any Republicans except maybe a couple senators that they’re going to break with with Trump in the final analysis.

S12: And so the other thought I’ve had about all this is, with the exception of Solin possibly causing a small uptick in support for impeachment, as long as Republicans aren’t willing to cry, uncle, just acknowledge that this is unacceptable behavior. Say they’ve had enough and OK, we’ll deal with President Pence for the next year. If they’ve shown no indication of wanting to hold Trump accountable. I don’t see why you wouldn’t want this very dramatic public hearing process to continue to uncover other things which would a you know, serve the goal of essentially punishing Republicans for making themselves complicit in all of this wrongdoing. And but B. And this is where sunland’s confession of A, quid pro quo, maybe improving impeachment polling comes in. Is that the impeachment? Process has this kind of gravitational force that draws bombshell news into the public sphere. And you don’t know like Democrats don’t know that if they if they did another week of these two weeks on things stemming from the Ukraine scandal and then things that are slightly apart from it, like emoluments, that they wouldn’t draw absolutely stunning facts into the public realm that might further improve impeachment polling. And once you start climbing out of the low 50s, but into the high 50s and low 60s, then you put Republicans in a much more difficult position and you can start taking the possibility of removal more seriously.

S8: Yeah, I think that’s right. I want to ask your opinion of Adam Schiff. I, like everyone, have made no secret, but I like to think I was early. We had Schiff on almost right after the election, made no secret of my admiration for him and especially his rhetorical prowess. He in the It’s Not Okay speech did the same kind of thing that he has been doing relentlessly in these hearings, which is and we’re not going to see it in Nadler, I’m expecting. But in any case, he’s done this thing of saying, here’s what happened. We all agree on what happened. I’m talking about the Mueller points back then. And he did the best job of just, you know, in them enumerating them one by one. You know, they accept they accepted this and not paying much attention to that. The Mueller report had no indictments and paying a lot of attention to the Mueller report. It turned up all this misconduct on Don Junior’s part, on Trump’s part, on Manafort’s part and so on. So you get his list and then he says it’s not okay, but he says, my colleagues might think this is just what you have to do to win. Yep. And I’ve never heard from anyone, Jordan, anyone that Schiff had any one of those points wrong. And so there’s silence because he had begun to box them in, I thought said, you know what? There’s a group here that just thinks that that’s okay because there’s nothing else they can. There’s nothing out there. None of them are saying no. Don Junior didn’t welcome those advances from from Russians who wanted Trump elected or, you know, any one of these things. They’re not defending Manafort. They’re not defending Cohen. The Trump Tower project. And that’s just volume 1 of the report. Right. So that I thought was where Schiff telegraphed what he would do in these hearings and that way that he just ruthlessly tells the story. At the beginning of each of the hearings, complete with cooking up a drug deal.

S13: And a huge elby expresses that, he says, as if they’re like, you know, he holds them up at a distance from himself, like they’re like poison rags, like the drug deal. Like, it is so offensive to me as Adam Schiff to even have to say these words. And then the three amigos. You know, it’s just like also revolting to him and it’s immaculate legal mind.

S8: And then and then Dumps saw that on Jordan and and noone as to tell us whether they think it’s okay and you get the feeling that they do think it’s okay.

S11: So just internally at that crooked media where I worked, I I commented that I was just stunned by how he’s able to put together these closing statements that he couldn’t have scripted in advance because he didn’t know what the testimony was going to be precisely. But he’s quoting from testimony, he’s you know, he’s he’s wrapping up all of the information revealed in the hearing into a lengthy, seemingly extemporaneous. Like no notes in front of his speech. Yeah. He doesn’t look down. And I worked for a couple of former speechwriters and they are equally, if not more astonished by his ability to present himself rhetorically so strongly, seemingly like off the cuff. And, you know, Jon Favreau, who who’s my boss, says, like, it almost makes makes me uncomfortable because having to put together speeches on such a short timeframe was just the most stressful thing to have to do. And he seemingly does it off the top of his head. And I think obviously he’s a very bright person. And and his experience as a prosecutor make makes him ideally suited for this kind of environment where a lot of people kind of reflexively describe the Ukraine scandal as being this easy to understand thing. And at some level it is. But the story that shift laid out over the course of seven hearings was actually fairly complicated. And so it was his job to introduce the nature of the hearing. And then at the end of it, summit all up in a way that helped people who were watching at home, who might not know who somebody named under a year Mark is or whatever, and why that’s important to the essential corrupt bargain that Trump is being impeached for. And so he is like an ideal messenger for that task. And I agree with you that I think it was when Republicans in the House were trying to get him expelled from the intelligence committee that he did. That I don’t think it’s okay. So you’re talking about. And then when when they divided the Mueller hearing into judiciary and intelligence, he just had so much better control of the room and ability to extract information from Robert Mueller himself that it was between those two things that. Commented somewhere that Democrats, including Adam Schiff, you know, God bless Jerry Nadler for having wanted to do this from a much earlier time while Schiff was opposed. But if they ever come around to it, it might make sense to have Adam Schiff be the public face of the hearings, because he is just better at crystallizing why this is important and why Trump needs to be held accountable for it while also not letting things devolve into spectacle.

S10: And he managed to hold that together for for two weeks. In fact, he got better and better and better because for the first couple days, Republicans tried to engage in all these parliamentary just obnoxious tactics to derail. And, you know, it had minimal effect for two days. They looked fairly pathetic. Elise Stefanik tried to turn it into a sexism thing and then her opponent raised a million dollars and then they stopped just after after the second day of hearings, I think. Or maybe it was the third. No more interruptions. And yeah, it’s because they knew that that day they had tried their best to set shift back on his heels and he was just unflappable. And yet so very high marks for him. I just remain puzzled as to why he wouldn’t want to bring that skill set that he has to bear on other aspects of the scandal that have, you know. There are lots of loose threads hanging out there that I personally would like to see tugged on.

S11: And and he seems on board with the idea of just getting this out of the Senate as soon as possible.

S2: Okay. So what do you mean? You’d like to see a broader, more articles of impeachment or a less focused impeachment trial or just the hearings? Are you wish he was also running the Judiciary Committee? Well, there’s that. And it’s going to start hearing testimony next week.

S11: I know I. No offense to Jerry Nadler and much credit to him for for kind of pushing this when he could. But he in at least the pre impeach him days when he was trying to build support for it. But he had a divided caucus behind him. We got kind of rolled. You know, Doug Collins, the ranking member on judiciary, is this bulldog. And he’s you know, he’s big and loud and has some charisma. And Nadler has none of those things. So there’s that. But that’s not really what I’m talking about. One, I think it’s important for Democrats, like I kind of intimated earlier to brandish impeachment, like we are in an impeachment process and you’re not going to stop impeaching the president and draw and drawing his this my asthma of corruption around him into the light until you guys just stop defending him. Right. And come around to the view that his conduct is unacceptable. I think that just like ending the impeachment process is is disarming yourself in a way that Donald Trump is not going to do. William Barr is not going to do. Lindsey Graham in the Senate is not going to do so. It’s an error in that regard.

S2: But you mean even if we get up against the deadline? Well, I guess there’s no telling what is the deadline, right. But I mean, there is. Well, I mean, we. Okay, forget about it. I’m not even going to invoke that norm, because I will sound like some I’ll sound like some just old fashioned Pollyanna person of not putting up against an election year. Of course, you can go all the way up to the election. Now we’re in the Wild West. Both Trump times. But it does seem like that’s something that Schiff, in concert with Pelosi, might be making their election calculations about. Who knows?

S11: Well, that’s certainly what I think. It’s pretty obvious that there remains a set of a couple dozen or so House Democrats from frontline districts who were never all that easy going with the impeachment idea in the first place. And now they’re nervous that it’s taking too long and they don’t want to get new election. They want to pass other bills and this and that. The other thing and and, you know, Nancy Pelosi has always been their agent in this process. And, you know, she embarked on impeachment reluctantly. And I think that the desire to get it out of the House as quickly as possible stems from those concerns. And I’m not saying you need to drag it through to the election. I just think for a couple of important reasons, not ending the public exposition phase of this is important. There’s some legal technical reasons why. Right. Like there’s there is a lawsuit in court right now about whether the Democrats in the House have a right to Robert Mueller’s grand jury materials. And the ruling on their behalf in the district court was premised entirely on the notion that they’re in an impeachment process. So if you bring that process to a close before the courts rule, it’s probably going to end up in the Supreme Court. Then you lose the power to that. That case essentially becomes moot. If there’s no impeachment process, then the grand jury materials can’t go to the House because there’s no judicial thing happening in Congress for them to have a right to this otherwise secret material. So just on a like a level of legal tactics, closing down the impeachment process carries cost.

S6: It also occurred to me. And first of all, I’m absolutely with you on that. I just want to raise another question, which is, you know, we were told that all Americans should be concerned. And I listened to Robert Mueller when he said that about. Ongoing election interference in that case by Russians, I mean by Russians and the impeachment hearings themselves give room for noon as to say over and over and some of the others say over and over. Biden’s Hunter Biden, you know, very smart and exactly the the narrative that Trump would have had wanted Zelinsky to thread into things in a report with Fareed Zakaria on CNN. Right. And it’s amazing because in the split screen in our mind, we’re watching Joe Biden lose his hold on that frontrunner status. And Trump is interfering. I mean, Trump in concert with all these guys is getting front and center to like just splash mud on Biden. And even if none of that sticking, even if no one thinks Hunter Biden is corrupt and Biden himself is corrupt, what seems to be happening as this old man who suffered a lot of trauma, especially around his children, seems exhausted, like this is getting in his head. This is trash talking going on all the time. And when it comes to his kids, Biden just does not seem to have the stamina for it. And I think what we just saw was pretty effective election interference.

S11: So I take you to be saying that the impeachment process, one unfortunate side effect is that it creates a platform for Trump to meddle in the primary and the election with these base like these disinformation tactics. Yes. Yes. And I hear you. And you know that I would just caution that that option remains available to him. Whatever happens in the House, as Lindsey Graham is now doing it on his own in the Senate and William Barr will cook up a drug deal of his own if if that’s what it takes. Right. So. So Joe Biden’s in for a world of hurt no matter what. Because these guys have no scruples. And the second thing I would say is that while while I agree that these hearings became a platform for Republicans to spread a bunch of viral disinformation about the Bidens and Ukraine in 2016, basically like taking a Russian disinformation op and turning it into the language of half the Congress. Right. Is that that was largely possible because the hearings were so heavily focused on Ukraine. But there were revelations from this, you know, two month interlude between the the whistleblower complaint, the existence of the whistleblower complaint becoming public and the end of the public impeachment process, where you could imagine Democrats embarking on an investigative threads that have nothing to do with Ukraine. Right. Like early on in this process. We learned that in that 2017 Oval Office meeting with Sergei Kislyak and Sergei Lavrov, the Russian diplomat. Yeah. Yeah. That not only did Trump like leak classified intelligence to them and also try to run down Jim Comey and say, well, now the you know, the Russia investigation is off my back. But he reportedly we learned this in late September, said, you know, I’m okay essentially with the fact that you guys interfered in the election and basically gave what they had done his blessing. You know, the notes from that meeting got put onto another classified system and they’re just sitting there. And I mean, that was an enormous bombshell, was a front.

S10: It was like, yeah, Friday, like the whistleblower had come public. And so all these other officials who were like didn’t want to be left off, the whistleblower train started leaking to reporters. And that revelation came out. And it’s just sitting there. And Adam Schiff would be a great chairman to to take the lead on an investigation of that. And then you’re talking about Russia and you’re not talking about Ukraine. Yeah. Yeah, that’s right. And it’s not that Republicans couldn’t try to be like. But what about Joe Biden? It’s just what about Joe Biden or what about Hunter?

S11: Biden works in the context of a corrupt quid pro quo around investigations in Ukraine, less so if you’re talking about why did the president give his blessing to Russian interference in the 2016 election? Like that’s a question that doesn’t give them an easy way to turn it into a what about it game with some supposedly equal and opposite Democratic Sen..

S14: There have been two kind of force measure that sort of disrupt.

S15: I think all of our thinking about two specific stories. One is just that, you know, that we can leave aside for now. But the relentless hand-wringing about Hillary Clinton being a bad candidate, which, you know, normalizes the 2016 interference and makes it seem like we’re just talking about another also ran like John McCain or Mitt Romney. At this point, it doesn’t matter. But the fact that we continue to normal to say while the America America is just in the mood for Trump or whatever, we just didn’t like Hillary Clinton. It just doesn’t read the numbers or read the mood of the country. Well, because of that dramatic disruption that happened that year. The second thing now is that when we’re trying to figure out why the Mueller report didn’t engender an impeachment, which it seemed to be poised to do. Sometimes we think that’s a shortcoming of the story told in the Mueller report or that people didn’t want X, Y, Z. Instead of we had this bomb drop in the form of Bill Barr, who was in a position to just, you know, Big Foot in and block just and obstruct justice there and mislead everyone about the results of the report. And he was in a position to do so, not a Lindsey Graham chirping from Fox News. But, you know, the head of the Department of Justice, the attorney general. And and that was astonishing. So but one thing I think distinguishes and nobody likes to hate on Barr as much as I do, although I know I have a lot of competition. But is that he damn yard went out when Trump asked him to give one of those Comey like press conference says or the one they wanted from Comey clearing him of misconduct in Ukraine, which could have nip this in the bud for for rank and file Republicans. And I don’t know if I don’t know bars too busy adventuring wherever he is trying to get help from oligarchs doing his own drug deals. But I mean, I think that’s another reason to keep this on Ukraine because he doesn’t have bar. Roy coning as much as he did with Russia for whatever reason.

S10: Well, OK. But then there’s a compromise between what I’ve been arguing for and your instincts, which is that I think the reason Bill Bar didn’t go out and stick his neck out for Trump on this is that bar is implicated in at least the cover up portion of the Ukraine. Yes, that’s right. That’s right. There was question of he should recuse. That’s right. I mean, I mean, you know, he got the whistle blower complaint. He put the kibosh on it coming out. He tried and he tried to prevent, as mentioned in the phone call. Yeah. He’s mentioned the phone call and he’s mentioned in that dramatic opening paragraph of the whistleblower complaint like Bill Bar. I don’t think reached his ethical limit when Trump asked them to do to do that for him.

S12: I think Bill Bar got dragged in too deep by Donald Trump on this. He doesn’t know what his exposure is. You know, one, two, three, four years down the line, like there’s a statute of limitations on obstruction that is longer than Bill Bar is going to be attorney general.

S16: And. And so he he has, I think, decided to be cautious to avoid, you know, taking unnecessary personal risk. And if you don’t want to if you don’t want to venture outside the four corners of the Ukraine scandal, you could you could take a look at the cover up of the Ukraine scandal and the Justice Department’s role in that. Yeah.

S10: But my you know, my my thought on on on impeachment as a as a political tool is that is that it’s like a great way to illustrate that the president’s corruption is boundless. And the fact that it is difficult to track is actually an asset for Democrats, that it is so ubiquitous that that they can run impeachment hearings for months and not get to the bottom of everything. It stops being about proving specific crime to the point, being able to take it to a jury, which is what they’re doing with them with the Ukraine scandal. And just just creating this cloud of suspicion around Trump himself that you cannot trust him in any realm, which is essentially what Trump did to make it to defeat Hillary Clinton is not you know, it was emails, this e-mails that Clinton Foundation. There was no there was no actual narrative cohesion to any of it. It was just right look like look at all the suspicious sounding things around her. And impeachment allows you to do that. It’s in spades. And and as you know, as to what you said about the Mueller report, one thing I take away from all this is that the public follows its leaders on questions like this. They don’t have very strong opinions about it. And I think a very small percentage of people actually read the Mueller report. Everyone I know who read the Mueller report, who was agnostic about impeachment, came back white faced and wondering why. Why Democrats weren’t weren’t acting. And then when they did act, support for impeachment went from the way underwater to above water. And so they could have. Yeah, like, you know, Bill Barr doesn’t make them helpless. He goes out and says and spins some lies about what’s in the Mueller report and Democrats shrink away. It because they were in disinclined to want to do impeachment anyway. But if they had said this report is shocking and it contains evidence of vast criminal activity and we have to begin an impeachment process to save the country, I. I could. You know, I can’t guarantee you. I strongly believe the exact same thing would have happened. Support from people. What is a lutely would have gone. 51 percent people would’ve started coming out of the woodwork and admitted things that they had been concealing. And we would have had this ball rolling four months earlier than we did. And maybe the you know, this is one point that Elizabeth Warren likes to make. Is that because Democrats didn’t act when the when Mueller finished his work. He felt liberated to try to do it again, subvert the next election. Yeah. And it just might not have. You know, they had been this had been in the works for a while. But if Democrats launch an impeachment inquiry in April or May over the Mueller report, you could imagine them pulling the plug like this is getting too hot, just like you know that that’s why they pulled the plug on the on the quid pro quo is because Congress started an investigation of why the aid to Ukraine got held up. When things get too hot, they actually start crying less. And it’s conceivable to me that we would have never reached the point of Trump trying to extort Ukraine. If Democrats had taken the contents of the Mueller report seriously and begun an impeachment process, then. But all that means is that if they want to tack on new avenues of investigation under the current inquiry, it’s going gonna hurt them. It’s going to hurt their case.

S12: And if they if they feel like they started to lose the public or the public is starting to lose the thread and gotten bored of impeachment, or I think Democrats are abusing whatever, they can bring the process to a close whenever they want. I just don’t understand why they’re in such a hurry to do it without any indication from Republicans that they’re going to honor their oaths.

S9: Is it at all possible that I mean, I really I think you’re absolutely right that if a leader and we all hoped Mueller would do it, if a leader wraps up something like the Mueller report or this is someone who looks like Bill Barr and just gets to tell us what to think in five sentences, public opinion can switch very quickly. And I think Schiff has done that. He’s not quite the sort of rabbinical kind of solemn monarch figure that bar is. But I think he he’s done a nice job as part of that and also the way people change their minds. We’ve all become students in some ways of how the people we know changed their minds, how they either came to be part of the Fox News cult or how they managed to, in some cases get free of the Republican Party. In the case of everybody’s favorite, never tempers. And one of the things about the American people this time is they’re not going to be like walked through facts. Right. Right. And and that’s that’s usually the case. My hero, the political philosopher Richard Rati, said, you know, everybody argued about the welfare state forever on all these tiny details. And then just it suddenly happens. It’s like there’s a paradigm shift. Right. And there it is in place. And, you know, it’s like the nobody said they voted for Nixon. You just you you think we’re really in the weeds of, you know, passing Fiona Hill’s testimony while people are shouting, lock him up outside a UFC thing and sooner or later, the water’s all flowing downhill.

S8: And the consensus is he needs to be out. Let’s get to McConnell. You know, he’s an instructor by nature, but he’s he’s gotta be a windsock in that role and he’s gotta decide. I mean, Lexington, Kentucky, his home state outside Trump’s rally, which he really didn’t seem to be able to fill. People were shouting, lock him up. And then the governor became a Democrat. Yep. I just like how does Moscow much sleep at night thinking about his Bluegrass State?

S16: It’s funny. I think he’s probably more.

S11: Normally, I think he would in almost any circumstance feel no fear and just corral his moderates and force them to vote the party line like he always does without any compunction. I imagine because of what happened in Kentucky, he feels much more sympathy with their plight at 51 percent, 54 percent. You’re talking maybe Cory Gardner is vulnerable. Maybe Susan Collins is vulnerable. It’s not that many people. And so as much as he might be worried about the politics of this, you know, he can give them a free vote. Their votes aren’t actually strictly needed. And he can. I mean, he would never. But he is, I think, a prisoner of the fact that opposition to impeachment is still 40 whatever to three percent. And when when that starts slipping into the 30s, if it starts slipping in the 30s, it’s the phenomenon you’re describing of like a bubble bursting all of a sudden, right? Yeah. So where we are right now, I think, you know, he hasn’t really made much of a secret about it. He’s like. Multiple times now suggested that I think we all see that this is not going to end with the president being removed. But there’s a few things I can imagine changing that calculus. Not that I think that they’re super likely, but but possible. One is further surprise revelations. Yeah, I think I have the potential to move the numbers not, you know, radically, but you could imagine a conversation a couple weeks from now where instead of being at it in the low 50s, it’s in the high 50s. The other is is a sort of mass politics version of what you’re talking about with with these trumping increasingly confronted with an opposition calling for him to be locked up. Is that is that if on the eve of the big votes in the House on articles of impeachment or during the trial in the Senate, you start seeing tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of million people marching in Washington, in cities around the country, that that can take a take a big psychological toll on the people who are covering up for Trump, but maybe convince the broader public that hasn’t been paying attention so closely that maybe this really is a big deal. And we should, if polled, say that, yeah, we now support impeachment. And this is how governments have fallen the world over in the last couple years is not through some sort of replication of all the president’s men, where a bunch of elites investigate behind closed doors, hold public hearings, and then on the basis of overwhelming facts, Republicans tell their own guy that he’s got to go. It’s that mass politics grabs on to the severity of the misconduct and says, we’re free people and we’re not going to accept this. And so we don’t have the power to remove the president from office now. But you can see in our numbers that if you don’t, there will be punishment down the line. And something like that, I think could move the numbers again, not radically, but substantially to where you’re not just looking at Cory Gardner and you’re not just maybe looking at Susan Collins or Lisa Murkowski or whoever you’re looking at over 10. And once you’re once you’re once you’re within spitting distance of 67 senators, you’ve got to start asking yourself big questions if you’re if you’re Mitch McConnell. Right. Like, maybe it just makes sense to just go to Trump and say you’re out and we’re going to have Mike Pence. Or maybe it just makes sense to say, all right, you know, there’s near unanimity in the caucus that he should go. And if he makes us vote him out, we will.

S10: But it was going to take a we’re gonna have to find ourselves on a different track than we’re on. If this. I think rather unlikely hypothetical that I’m tracing where to come to pass because. Yeah, because proving the case as tightly as Adam Schiff has is not enough.

S15: Is not enough. Absolutely. What do you think? I’m not to keep drawing you back to the spectacle of this public radicalism that, you know. Impeachment obviously was put in place as an alternative. As we know, Ben Franklin wanted it as an alternative to assassination. So this is the rarefied answer to our it’s you know what? So like where Trump did shout, lock her up. There are procedures for hidden well, not voting for someone or impeaching them. This is a very civilized procedure. Here’s the other thing that’s interesting about it being a seemingly with everyone is so worried that this would look like persecution of the president and that the Republicans are playing it is totally out of bounds. Yeah. When it’s been really by the book. But I think this thing of the spirit of the country having this really radical streak in it, much more radical than Adam Schiff, the one I’ve been citing, these protesters all across the country, Minneapolis, Lexington and now in Baltimore. Obviously not a city that’s a big been a big fan of Trump still grieving for Elijah Cummings, but Melania Trump showed up there to talk about her be best or best or whatever it is campaign. Now it’s some high schoolers and she got soundly booed. If the Trump ites, you know, six months ago, a year ago, were having to use apps to find places where the red hats would feel at home to shop, your date or whatever and having their own dating app. And Sarah Sanders and everyone was getting harassed in restaurants. I mean, the population itself seems to be putting the squeeze on Trump. Yeah.

S11: That can’t feel good to people like Susan Collins, the handful of Republican senators that are vulnerable or in a horrible political bind for justice. Reason is that is that, you know, vote against the president and he can end your career by denying you Republican support and vote for him. And this nascent rage about the fact that Trump needs to be removed from office. Yeah. Means that people are going to show up and vote for your opponent. And so, you know, there. It’s a it’s a catch 22 for all of them. And I am very curious to see how the election plays out in a world where they were Republicans quit Trump and depending on, you know, the the final vote tally. Some of the moderates vote to acquit and some vote convicted. And we get to kind of see how that affects their performance in the election. Yeah, I think that the reason that there’s these acts of public protest, the dropping booed at sporting events in al-Ani and being booed at her be best thing and lock her up chants have coincided with the the impeachment fight is in part just because Democrats have have led, they’ve unified. And so a lot of people now support impeachment. And that means that that the notion that Trump should not be in power is very prevalent and people are acting on that. But the specific scandal, unlike if they were impeaching him for the emoluments clause or obstruction of justice is one. And this is why we launched Rubicon is. Yeah, it’s a scandal about the president. Yes. Corrupting foreign policy. Yes. Committing bribery or however you want to define his high crime. But the objective was to deny us who are supposed to be free people a fair election. And and so the idea that impeachment is supposed to be this sort of safety valve, this pressure release valve to depose a president who’s ignited the the like darker passions of of the public through through misconduct, I think is very real. But in this case, the stakes are higher than usual, because if he’s not removed, if he’s not convicted in the Senate, he is going to be at the apex of his criminality. He’s going to feel he’s going to feel as emboldened as ever to to commit further corrupt acts, including acts designed to deny the public a free and fair election. And so I would expect both there to be more public displays of animosity towards the president in the run up to the impeachment votes, but also that if and when he’s acquitted for the notion that he’s been acquitted for trying to cheat in his own re-election campaign to become a regular drumbeat. I mean, I will beat that drum because it’s true. And I think that that is going to keep a large, healthy swath of the public at a sort of pitched level of anger and distrust from now until November. And, you know, God help us if the election is close or anything like that, because after what he tried to do with Ukraine, if he tries to do the same thing on another channel and then he wins an Electoral College majority but loses the popular vote by a slim margin, again, just like he did in 2016, there’s going to be an enormous crisis of legitimacy in this country. And who knows where we go from there?

S9: Yeah, that’s that’s absolutely right. I want to be able to end on that beautifully.

S10: Just like let’s try something a little somber moment.

S15: But but I have actually maybe two more sort of sort of in the weeds question here and then we’ll try to think of something to see us into the holiday. Fiona Hill, go to our happy play assassin. All right. Well, the people’s princess, as I call her, since I’m watching the crown and we’re about to get to Diana. So the people’s princess, Fiona Hill, she I thought on this question of Russian interference and Kremlin activity, which is a little bit of a third rail, because as he as you and I both know, we’ve probably both hosted guests that have that maximalist view of Kremlin antics that can make you think that, you know, I’ve heard it said even impeachment gets Putin what he wants for Christmas because it’s we’re more fractious. So leaving out that we probably all have Moscow chips in our brands by now. So nothing we say is not reproducing Putin’s disinformation campaigns.

S9: Leaving that aside, I really, really liked the way Fiona Help pushed back on Adam Schiff in very interesting ways when he was he was talking about legitimacy. This very question you just you just raised and he said, you know, he wanted to cast aspersions on the illegitimacy, as he sees it, of Trump, who got Russian assistance to win the election. And she wouldn’t say this is a Trump question. She said the same would be true if Hillary had been elected, that Putin would you know, he obviously wanted to hurt her mandate at the very least and and call into question our whole system, this whole reckoning that we’re having. And I think that’s what led, you know, Schiff didn’t get his perfect moment like in that in that exchange.

S2: And it rankled him a little bit so that later he said, you’re more diplomatic than I am, which was a nice way of playing it. You know, I’m a little hotheaded, but you you and I share the same views. But but you’re just a little more careful how you say it. But we’re saying the same thing, right? They weren’t quite saying the same thing. Do you keep in your head a Putin just got what he wanted, that kind of Malcolm NANCE thing?

S11: No. OK, so here’s how I think about this whole question. Right. I have believed since long before Robert Mueller was appointed special counsel that a career government official is very unlikely to save us from this situation. And that includes Fiona Hill. And Fiona Hill is WellCare.

S2: For terrifying, my friend says, look, she.

S16: Look, I’m just. I’m going to get into how she and her testimony are helpful to the politics that might save us from this. But the you know, as a bureaucrat or now former bureaucrat in the national security sphere, it is very important and right that she think about how a Russian disinformation operation affects the way we conduct politics here and how to prevent that from creating or harming national cohesion to such a dramatic extent that the country ceases to function. And that’s her job, is to protect the country from that kind of thing. And in that regard, an impeachment process is, you know, like it has a real silver lining for for the forces in the world that want to see the United States fracture. But what those forces, the way I see what they’re trying to like infect America with is just the impossibility of of truth ever being the way free people make decisions together. And so she is not going to say that a president who got elected, who achieved high office through corrupt means that she ended up working for right. Is has questions of legitimacy around him, both because she worked for him, but also because it’s not her job to to sew a sense of the illegitimacy of the American government. Quite the opposite. Right. Yes. But but Adam Schiff’s job should be to tell the truth. And the truth is that in multiple ways, Donald Trump did achieve power through corrupt means. And so there should be at least an asterisk next to his presidency. And we as as citizens should be furious that he’s been allowed to sort of rend the country and looted and in effect, jurisprudence for the next 30 years, etc. on the heels of having broken the law. And and, you know, at least cooperated with the foreign criminal sabotage scheme to become president in the first place. And and so I’m not surprised that she didn’t give him, you know, the like the checkmark for basically raising that question or that inference about Trump himself.

S12: Look, she she it’s not in her in her intellectual DNA to do that. But but that doesn’t mean that I get you know, she’s still shared a bunch of very important facts that Adam Schiff can bring to try to end this presidency before it completes its term. But that should be done on the basis of of what’s true about Trump and the idea that that Democrats would tamp down on their willingness to confront Trump and be honest about what kind of man and leader he is in order to tamp down on the polarization of the country and the way we’re were divided. I think that’s what what gives, you know, the forces of disinformation and autocracy, what they want is to cow freedom loving liberal people who care about the truth into submission so that they don’t contest those forces. And so I you know, I I I would have loved it if if Jonah Hill had had told Adam Schiff, you’re right. You know, any president who does try to seek re-election by committing bribery and corrupting foreign policy in order to cheat in the election should have questions of legitimacy around him like I would have loved if she had said something like that. I’m not surprised she didn’t. I think that she gave Adam Schiff a wealth of damning testimony to work with, to maximize the pain on the people who want to cover for the president. But it would be. I mean, it would be super disappointing and demoralizing from my perspective, if he bit on that notion that, well, impeachment really is giving Putin what he wants. I think it’s just the opposite.

S15: Okay. That I really like to hear. Finally, I want you to do some bookmaking because you have to don’t tick line, which is we haven’t brought up Tony Schwartz, my old boss who wrote the art of the deal with Donald Trump has said from the beginning he thinks Trump will do what he did at Trump Steaks and all those other failed ventures, which is resign and somehow call it a victory or not talk about it just like Trump Foundation is over it. Do you think there’s any chance that even absent pressure in his own party like Nixon got, that Trump might might resign and, you know, move to Riyadh or Moscow or wherever and and somehow call it? I don’t know what that, you know, little signs like. His emergency health appointment or the fact that the the the White House was unaccountably, if briefly, on lockdown. That suggests that maybe even he can’t handle being booed this much.

S11: So from my perspective on the ground as a reporter, the White House goes on lockdown, Congress goes on lockdown every few weeks and it’s usually nothing. Okay. My read on Trump’s personality, his narcissism, his his you know, he has this power of positive thinking thing that kind of is incompatible with the notion that he’d end up in this defeatist mindset where he was destined to lose or be removed from office or might face criminal. You know, he just he he expels all of those doubts from his mind and everything that he does. Yeah. Part, you know, in part to to get what he wants in the end. And in part because I think his ego won’t let him accept his own vulnerabilities. So I could you know, I could imagine a real health crisis causing him to not be president anymore in the way that we’re all human.

S2: You came up against something very terrifying. You’re speculating the little bit of a thumb on the scale about the president’s health and you’re not the first person to do it. I mean, he’s a he’s you know, he’s like, no, of course.

S10: He’s a course. And this is true of multiple of the multiple Democratic candidates at this point, too, is like the actuarial tables aren’t super on their side. And. Yeah. And. Yeah, so that’s. So it’s set aside like a genuine health scare that makes it impossible for him to campaign or something. Yeah. Without going to the darkest possible place.

S11: Okay. I have my read on his psyche is that even if he came out on the other side of impeachment, badly damaged and then it was the general election season and he was down consistently far more than he was to Hillary Clinton. We sort of retcon ourselves into believing that Hillary Clinton had these enormous leads all through the election. But for the most part, they were fairly, terrifyingly narrow the whole time. And so if that’s not the case in 2020, he’s losing in the polls by 1 percent. I still think that what he does is he he fights it out to election day. He loses. He refuses to accept the legitimacy of his loss, though. I you know, I imagine he doesn’t refuse to concede that he won’t be president anymore. He just it’s rigged. And they stole it for me involved, blah. And then he, you know, sabotages the transition. He refuses to show up for the inauguration. That’s the Donald Trump. I think I’ve come to understand over the years is this is maximal petulance about this stuff. And like at no point would he just surrender and try to pretend that he wasn’t by concocting some sort of excuse that nobody believed. Yeah, he’ll say the excuses for when it’s over and he hasn’t succeeded. That’s my hunch. Like, you know, if I’m proven wrong, then I’ll come back on Trump cast. You can say I told you so and then we can drink seven bottles of champagne.

S2: I mean, what we’re gonna do if he gets re-elected is a whole other problem, but. Okay, you got it. Even the prospect of drinking is celebratory. Anything is good right now. My guest has been Brian Beutler. He’s the editor in chief of Crooked Media and host of the podcast Rubicon. Have a great Thanksgiving, Brian. Thank you so much for being here.

S17: Thank you for. That’s it for today’s show. What do you think? Come to Twitter and speculate about the president’s declining health. We don’t mind. I’m at page 88. The show is at Bill Tramcars. Our show today was produced by Melissa Kaplan and engineered by Merrett Jacob. I’m Virginia Heffernan. Happy Thanksgiving and thanks for listening to tramcars.