The Trump administration and its herd of sycophants seem to have been thrown off-kilter by the announcement of an impeachment inquiry earlier this week, and they’re struggling to find their stride on some kind of response.
It doesn’t help that a key piece of evidence released by the White House—a summary of a phone call President Donald Trump had with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in which Trump appears to extort Zelensky—was extraordinarily damning. Or that the whistleblower complaint that prompted the inquiry turned out to be extremely credible.
With reports that someone in the White House leaked to CNN about how acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney better get his shit together and mount some kind of aggressive response, you better believe that the Trumpians would hit the Sunday news shows hard.
So far, however, that response has been a little embarrassing and more than a little weak, which might be understandable considering that those defending the president are people like the Meltdown King, Rudy Giuliani, Ohio Republican Rep. Jim “Gym” Jordan, and White House ghoul Stephen Miller, among others.
The GOP’s tactics currently center on a few objectives: Smear the whistleblower, and yell. A lot. Oh, also, interrupt the interviewer at every opportunity. And something about Biden.
Appearing on CNN’s State of the Union, Jordan attacked Democrats and the whistleblower with an inordinate number of falsehoods and dead-end arguments.
“What I have a problem with is what the Democrats are doing,” Jordan told CNN’s Jake Tapper. “Understand what happened here, Jake. You had a bureaucrat who didn’t like the president…”
“Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait,” Tapper interrupted, appropriately. “What are you talking about?”
“We know he didn’t like the president,” Jordan responded, which may or may not be true, but implies that Jordan knows who the whistleblower is. Which he probably doesn’t.
Tapper went to the whistleblower complaint to check the facts on that one—uh, oh—so Jordan interrupted him (see part three of the GOP strategy above). Jordan claimed “there’s nothing there” in the summary of the phone call, and that Democrats don’t care about the truth. Jordan’s proof: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced the impeachment inquiry before the White House released the summary of the call. I don’t even want to get into the mental gymnastics of that argument.
Like Giuliani, who had the performance of his life over at ABC News, Jordan waved around a couple pieces of paper to demonstrate how serious he is.
“Who you going to believe, the guy who had firsthand knowledge and was on the call—President Zelensky, who said he wasn’t pressured—or the guy who didn’t have firsthand knowledge…and had a motive against the president?” Jordan asked, with his best effort to smear the whistleblower.
Unfortunately, as Tapper pointed out, the Intelligence Community Inspector General, Michael Atkinson, determined the whistleblower complaint to be both urgent and credible, and acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire testified before Congress that the whistleblower adequately followed procedure and had Maguire’s support. Both men are Trump appointees.
Jordan then tried to defend the president by saying Trump had justifiably asked Zelensky to look into “what happened in the 2016 election.” Unfortunately for the House Freedom Caucus member from Ohio, another Republican appeared on another network to completely discredit those conspiracy theories.
Trump’s former White House homeland security adviser Tom Bossert told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, “I am deeply frustrated with what [Giuliani] and the legal team is doing and repeating that debunked theory to the president. It sticks in [Trump’s] mind when he hears it over and over again. And for clarity here, George, let me just again repeat that it has no validity.”
While Bossert was referring to the debunked myth promoted by Trump in the phone call with Zelensky that Ukraine was behind the 2016 DNC hack, his statement could also apply to the other debunked conspiracy theory Republicans have latched onto, which is that the 2016 campaign of Hillary Clinton colluded with Ukraine to attack Trump’s campaign.
It’s all so convoluted, and Jordan certainly wasn’t convincing anybody with his act on Sunday. Particularly since we already have the talking points.
Jordan tried smearing Biden’s son, but that didn’t work, either, because the congressman didn’t have any proof, despite having papers marked up by pen or sharpie or whatever. That’s when it became difficult to understand exactly what he was arguing because he was stuttering and yelling so much.
Tapper actually got upset while trying to fact-check all of this in real time, but I’m not really sure what the point is. Why put these people on television anymore?
After his interview with Jordan, Tapper had a panel with even more yelling. The loudest and most obnoxious of the group was David Urban, an eye-rolling, smug corporate lobbyist and adviser to the 2020 Trump campaign, who got into an argument with Republican Trump critic Bill Kristol.
“This is pathetic,” Kristol concluded.
If you really must: