Rep. Steve Scalise failed so miserably pretending that Donald Trump did nothing wrong when he tried to bribe Ukraine into doing his personal political dirty work – with our taxpayer dollars, no less – that I almost felt sorry for the guy as host Chris Wallace ripped apart almost every piece of BS.
On Fox News Sunday yesterday, Scalise touted “all of the things” Trump has done to help Ukraine “stand up to Russia” and noted that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was “thanking President Trump for the things he’s done, like selling the Javelin missiles which help them stand up to the Russian aggression and the tanks.”
Scalise just forgot to mention that the condition for sale was that the missiles be kept hundreds of miles away from the battlefield.
Wallace let that go but when Scalise laughably claimed that Trump’s blocking of aid to Ukraine was out of a concern for corruption, Wallace pounced.
First, Wallace pointed out that in each of the two phone calls to Zelensky, “President Trump never mentions the word ‘corruption.’ What he talks about is investigations” into the Bidens, Democrats and the 2016 election. Wallace also noted that foreign service officer David Holmes recently testified he heard Trump asking about those investigations the day after Trump’s now-infamous July 25th phone call with Zelensky.
Wallace further noted that “a dozen people listened in” on the July 25th call “and a number of them were immediately upset" by Trump’s behavior.
Scalise attempted to delegitimize the witnesses' testimony by suggesting they are anti-Trump activists. That didn't go so well for him.
SCALISE: Those were Schiff's witnesses.
WALLACE: Wait a minute - no, sir, they’re career foreign service officers, and these are people who worked in the Trump administration.
SCALISE: They are Schiff's witnesses.
WALLACE: Wait a minute, sir. You had a woman yesterday who was on Vice President Pence's staff. She said it was inappropriate. You had Tim Morrison, who was on the NSC staff, who said that he — alarm bells immediately went off for him. Alexander Vindman immediately went to see — these are all people — you say they are Schiff's witnesses, they all were working in the Trump administration.
SCALISE: They were not all Trump administration folks.
WALLACE: Are you saying that the person working — Alexander Vindman wasn't part of the National Security Council?
SCALISE: The inspector general said that the whistleblower had political motivations.
WALLACE: We’re not talking about the whistleblower.
Later, Scalise pretended that the same witnesses he had just dismissed as “Schiff’s witnesses” had actually made Trump’s case. That didn’t work out so well, either.
SCALISE: Why don’t we look at the three witnesses who actually did testify this week. All three of them were asked … Did you see any impeachable offenses? Did you see any bribery? Any of that. Not one of those things were mentioned, not one person said they saw a crime committed.
WALLACE: Sir, with all due respect, with all due respect, that very badly mischaracterizes what they said. They were asked, William Taylor, for instance, the acting ambassador to Ukraine, was asked whether or not these were impeachable offenses. He said, “I’m there as a fact witness. I’m not there to pass judgement.” But he made it clear what he thought about what the president was doing.
Wallace played a clip of Taylor saying that withholding the aid was “counterproductive,””Illogical,” “crazy” and “made no sense.”
WALLACE: He said withholding military aid to help with the president’s political campaign was crazy.
SCALISE: And the problem with that is it didn’t happen, Chris. The Ukraine foreign minister, based, probably on some of that testimony, said it didn’t happen. Zelensky said it didn’t happen. And those are the people directly involved. You can bring up people that have third and fourth hand information. I thought this was supposed to be about finding facts and if they’re going to try to impeach a president of the United States, shouldn’t it be based on something that actually happened versus one person’s opinion of a third hand conversation?
WALLACE: Well, OK … are you saying, though, because Gordon Sondland was a direct witness – he spoke to the president in the Oval Office – are you willing to abide by whatever Gordon Sondland says happened?
SCALISE: Abide by Gordon Sondland? I abide by what the president did and what the President Zelensky actually received. President Zelensky received the money. Barack Obama wouldn’t give that money, by the way.
WALLACE: But sir, you’re right. President Trump has been much tougher in terms of giving aid to Ukraine than President Obama was but President Trump released the aid two days after the whistleblower complaint went public.
Kudos to Wallace for standing up for truth against this blatant gas lighting. But let’s face it: Sean Hannity has already proved that Fox News will allow the Trumper hosts to completely ignore the facts and present the gas lighting as truth. Even worse, Fox viewers will probably believe the Hannity, et al. propaganda more than Wallace’s facts.
Meanwhile, watch Wallace do his job below, from the November 17, 2019 Fox News Sunday.
And, while I’ll give Wallace credit because he is determined in his counter-arguments, I feel he could be far more articulate in cutting through the poo Scalise is flinging at my TV screen.
The media has unraveled Trump’s latest scandal bit by bit with daily news updates. It’s hard for the public to grasp holistically what’s going on. Seth Meyers did a good job in a satirical look but he’s a comedian. Why can’t Democrats put together a succinct, understandable narrative? Look at 6:38 through 7:14 for a quick take on Meyer’s narrative though the entire routine is as funny as it is insightful.
Scalise is making an argument of coincidences. Trump, he says, is dedicated to fight corruption. Just coincidentally the only place he cares about rooting it out is Ukraine and the only instance of corruption he’s interested in involves Biden. It’s just a coincidence all of the direct reports to Trump in the know are fighting tooth and nail against testifying. Sure, they’d gladly exonerate the pr^sident but the higher principle of executive privilege must be maintained. It’s just a coincidence the pr^sident is surrounded by corrupt individuals convicted of lying on his behalf to cover up his misdeeds or are under investigation for carrying out alleged misdeeds. It’s just a coincidence he released the aid to Ukraine 2 days after his extortion scheme was coming to public light.
It’s not that hard to cut through Scalise’s desperate, sycophantic defense. I think Wallace needs to use a clearer line of questioning to cut through the gaslight.