Syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks join Judy Woodruff to discuss the week’s political news, including President Trump’s comments about willingness to accept foreign opposition research, the status of election security legislation, candidate lineups for the upcoming Democratic presidential debates and the politics of Democratic socialism.
(12:18)AND NBC’S PETER ALEXANDER ADDING THIS REPORTING TO OURADDING THIS REPORTING TO OUR UNDERSTANDING OF THIS NOW WAR OFUNDERSTANDING OF THIS NOW WAR OF WORDS TODAY BETWEEN DON McGHANWORDS TODAY BETWEEN DON McGHAN AND DONALD TRUMP.AND DONALD TRUMP. PETER’S REPORTING THAT A PERSONPETER’S REPORTING THAT A PERSON CLOSE TO FORMER WHITE HOUSECLOSE TO FORMER WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL DON McGHAN IS DISMISSINGCOUNSEL DON McGHAN IS DISMISSING PRESIDENT TRUMP’S COMMENTS PRESIDENT TRUMP’S COMMENTS TO ABC NEWS WHERE HE DISPUTES McGAHN’S TESTIMONY SAYING,QUOTE, IT’S NOT FANTASY LAND. SO WE HAVE FANTASY LAND, WE HAVESO WE HAVE FANTASY LAND, WE HAVE THE TOOTH FAIRY.THE TOOTH FAIRY. McGAHN PUSHING BACK MORE THAN HEMcGAHN PUSHING BACK MORE THAN HE DID THE FIRST COUPLE ROUNDS OFDID THE FIRST COUPLE ROUNDS OF SMEARS AGAINST McGAHN.SMEARS AGAINST McGAHN. DO YOU THINK McGAHN IS SOMEONEDO YOU THINK McGAHN IS SOMEONE WHO MIGHT EVENTUALLY GET
WHO MIGHT EVENTUALLY GET BATTERED ENOUGH TO TESTIFY?BATTERED ENOUGH TO TESTIFY? >> I DON’T UNDERSTAND THE SENSE>> I DON’T UNDERSTAND THE SENSE IN PUBLICLY ATTACKING DONIN PUBLICLY ATTACKING DON McGHAN.McGHAN. I — I CAN’T FATHOM IT.I — I CAN’T FATHOM IT. I REALLY CAN’T FATHOM IT.I REALLY CAN’T FATHOM IT. >> EXPLAIN THAT.>> EXPLAIN THAT. >> YOU’RE GOADING HIM INTO — I>> YOU’RE GOADING HIM INTO — I KNOW THIS IS JUST WHAT THEKNOW THIS IS JUST WHAT THE PRESIDENT DOES AND I DON’T THINK–PRESIDENT DOES AND I DON’T THINK HE’S THINKING ABOUT IT IN A
STRATEGIC FASHION —BECAUSE WHO SHOULD EXPECT A PRESIDENT TO THINKSTRATEGICALLY. >> I DON’T BELIEVE HE IS>> I DON’T BELIEVE HE IS THINKING STRATEGICALLY.THINKING STRATEGICALLY. BUT IS HE JUST TRYING TO GOADBUT IS HE JUST TRYING TO GOAD DON McGHAN INTO MAKING A PUBLICDON McGHAN INTO MAKING A PUBLIC STATEMENT?STATEMENT? I MEAN, IT’S KIND OF — AND NOWI MEAN, IT’S KIND OF — AND NOW WE’RE SEEING, AGAIN, I WONDER IFWE’RE SEEING, AGAIN, I WONDER IF IT’S THE SAME SOURCE, BUTIT’S THE SAME SOURCE, BUT SOURCES CLOSE TO McGAHN WE’RESOURCES CLOSE TO McGAHN WE’RE SEEING THESE VERY SIMILARSEEING THESE VERY SIMILAR STATEMENTS.STATEMENTS. I DON’T KNOW.I DON’T KNOW. I MEAN, I DON’T THINK THISI MEAN, I DON’T THINK THIS CHANGES THE CALCULUS IN THECHANGES THE CALCULUS IN THE SHORT-TERM ABOUT WHETHER HESHORT-TERM ABOUT WHETHER HE TESTIFIES OR NOT, BUT I DON’TTESTIFIES OR NOT, BUT I DON’T SEE THE SENSE IN IT.SEE THE SENSE IN IT. >> ASHLEY PARKER?>> ASHLEY PARKER? >> AGAIN IT MAKES NO SENSE.>> AGAIN IT MAKES NO SENSE. THE PRESIDENT IS GETTINGTHE PRESIDENT IS GETTING DANGEROUSLY CLOSE TO ALMOSTDANGEROUSLY CLOSE TO ALMOST PUSHING FOR AN OUTCOME THAT HEPUSHING FOR AN OUTCOME THAT HE DOESN’T WANT AND WOULDN’TDOESN’T WANT AND WOULDN’T BENEFIT HIM.BENEFIT HIM. YOU HAVE DON McGHAN WHO ISYOU HAVE DON McGHAN WHO IS SOMEONE BASED ON THE MUELLER
SOMEONE BASED ON THE MUELLER REPORT AND EVERYTHING WE
REPORT AND EVERYTHING WE UNDERSTAND, REPEATEDLY ACTUALLY
UNDERSTAND, REPEATEDLY ACTUALLY SAVED THE PRESIDENT FROM
SAVED THE PRESIDENT FROM HIMSELF.HIMSELF. AND THE PRESIDENT MAY NOT HAVEAND THE PRESIDENT MAY NOT HAVE LIKED IT IN THOSE MOMENTS AND,LIKED IT IN THOSE MOMENTS AND, IN FACT, HE DIDN’T AT THE TIMEIN FACT, HE DIDN’T AT THE TIME WE HEARD A LOT ABOUT CLASHESWE HEARD A LOT ABOUT CLASHES WITH DON McGHAN AND HE DIDN’TWITH DON McGHAN AND HE DIDN’T LIKE DON McGHAN BECAUSE DONLIKE DON McGHAN BECAUSE DON McGHAN WOULD STAND UP TO HIM ANDMcGHAN WOULD STAND UP TO HIM AND GIVE HIM THE LAWYER’S POINT OFGIVE HIM THE LAWYER’S POINT OF VIEW, IT TURNS OUT IN HINDSIGHTVIEW, IT TURNS OUT IN HINDSIGHT THE PRESIDENT IS LUCKY DONTHE PRESIDENT IS LUCKY DON McGHAN WAS THERE PLAYING THATMcGHAN WAS THERE PLAYING THAT ROLE.ROLE. DON McGHAN ONLY TESTIFIED FORDON McGHAN ONLY TESTIFIED FOR THOSE 30 HOURS YOU MENTIONEDTHOSE 30 HOURS YOU MENTIONED BECAUSE HE WAS ABIDING BY — YOUBECAUSE HE WAS ABIDING BY — YOU CAN DISAGREE WITH IF IT’S GOODCAN DISAGREE WITH IF IT’S GOOD OR BAD STRATEGY, HE WAS ABIDINGOR BAD STRATEGY, HE WAS ABIDING BY A STRATEGY COOKED UP BY THEBY A STRATEGY COOKED UP BY THE PRESIDENT’S LAWYERS AT THE TIME,PRESIDENT’S LAWYERS AT THE TIME, AND NOW HE’S RISKING POSSIBLEAND NOW HE’S RISKING POSSIBLE CON TEMPT TO DEFY ACON TEMPT TO DEFY A CONGRESSIONAL SUBPOENA.CONGRESSIONAL SUBPOENA. HE’S NOT LIKE THESE DEMOCRATS,HE’S NOT LIKE THESE DEMOCRATS, HE’S NOT THE PERSON YOU WANT TOHE’S NOT THE PERSON YOU WANT TO GOAD INTO FINALLY SAYING I’VE
GOAD INTO FINALLY SAYING I’VE HAD ENOUGH.
HAD ENOUGH. THAT’S NOT A SAVVY STRATEGY.THAT’S NOT A SAVVY STRATEGY. >>> HE’S ALSO ONE OF THESE SORT>>> HE’S ALSO ONE OF THESE SORT OF FIGURES IN TRUMP LAND WITHOF FIGURES IN TRUMP LAND WITH ULTIMATE CREDIBILITY.ULTIMATE CREDIBILITY. HE’S NOT A LIBERAL’S FANTASY,HE’S NOT A LIBERAL’S FANTASY, NOT A WHISTLE BLOWER, HE STANDSNOT A WHISTLE BLOWER, HE STANDS BEHIND THE SUPREME COURT PICKS.BEHIND THE SUPREME COURT PICKS. HIS LEGACY IS THIS VAST BODY OFHIS LEGACY IS THIS VAST BODY OF JUDICIAL APPOINTMENTS.JUDICIAL APPOINTMENTS. HIS CLOSE ALLY IN THE SENATE ISHIS CLOSE ALLY IN THE SENATE IS MITCH McCONNELL.
MITCH McCONNELL. HE’S NOT GOING TO BE THISHE’S NOT GOING TO BE THIS SATISFYING WITNESS FOR THE LEFTSATISFYING WITNESS FOR THE LEFT AND HE’S NOT, IT WOULD APPEAR,AND HE’S NOT, IT WOULD APPEAR, ANYMORE FEEL BEHOLDEN PERSONALLYANYMORE FEEL BEHOLDEN PERSONALLY TO THE WHITE HOUSE.TO THE WHITE HOUSE. HE IS THE ULTIMATE TRUTH TELLER,HE IS THE ULTIMATE TRUTH TELLER, AND IF HE SIMPLY TESTIFIES TOAND IF HE SIMPLY TESTIFIES TO WHAT IS IN THE MUELLER REPORT ONWHAT IS IN THE MUELLER REPORT ON TELEVISION, IN FRONT OF CAMERAS,TELEVISION, IN FRONT OF CAMERAS, IT WOULD BE DEVASTATING TO THISIT WOULD BE DEVASTATING TO THIS PRESIDENT.PRESIDENT. >> IT WOULD BE DEVASTATING BUT I>> IT WOULD BE DEVASTATING BUT I THINK ALL THE THINGS YOU JUSTTHINK ALL THE THINGS YOU JUST MENTIONED ARE THE REASONS WHYMENTIONED ARE THE REASONS WHY DON McGHAN IS NOT TESTIFYING.DON McGHAN IS NOT TESTIFYING. THE PRESIDENT KEEPS ATTACKINGTHE PRESIDENT KEEPS ATTACKING HIM BECAUSE OF THE LAST THREE ORHIM BECAUSE OF THE LAST THREE OR SO YEARS, THE PRESIDENT HASSO YEARS, THE PRESIDENT HAS LEARNED ABOUT THE REPUBLICANLEARNED ABOUT THE REPUBLICAN ESTABLISHMENT HE CAN BEAT THEMESTABLISHMENT HE CAN BEAT THEM UP, ATTACK THEM, AND THEY’LLUP, ATTACK THEM, AND THEY’LL CAVE EVERY TIME.CAVE EVERY TIME. FROM EVERYTHING YOU HEAR, DONFROM EVERYTHING YOU HEAR, DON McGHAN AND TRUMP HATE EACHMcGHAN AND TRUMP HATE EACH OTHER.OTHER. >> ISN’T HIS INTEGRITY ON THE>> ISN’T HIS INTEGRITY ON THE LINE, HIS REPUTATION, AND HASN’TLINE, HIS REPUTATION, AND HASN’T HE TESTIFIED IN THE MUELLERHE TESTIFIED IN THE MUELLER REPORT TO THE TRUTH?REPORT TO THE TRUTH? >> THE PLACE HE CARES ABOUT HIS>> THE PLACE HE CARES ABOUT HIS REPUTATION IS WITH MITCH
REPUTATION IS WITH MITCH McCONNELL, THE REPUBLICANMcCONNELL, THE REPUBLICAN ESTABLISHMENT AND NONE OF THOSE
ESTABLISHMENT AND NONE OF THOSE PEOPLE WANT TO SEE HIM BRING
PEOPLE WANT TO SEE HIM BRING DONALD TRUMP DONE.DONALD TRUMP DONE. >> HE WOULD BE THE RARE FIGURE>> HE WOULD BE THE RARE FIGURE BECAUSE HE HAS THOSE ALLIES WHOBECAUSE HE HAS THOSE ALLIES WHO COULD SUSTAIN TELLING A FEWCOULD SUSTAIN TELLING A FEW MINUTES OF TRUTH OF THE GARBAGEMINUTES OF TRUTH OF THE GARBAGE THAT WENT ON IN THE WEST WING.THAT WENT ON IN THE WEST WING. HE ASKED TO WRITE A FOE ANYHE ASKED TO WRITE A FOE ANY LETTER.LETTER. >> HE MIGHT OR HE MIGHT BE AN>> HE MIGHT OR HE MIGHT BE AN OUTCAST IN THE REPUBLICAN PARTYOUTCAST IN THE REPUBLICAN PARTY FOR THE REST OF HIS LIFE.FOR THE REST OF HIS LIFE. LOOK WHAT HAPPENED TO JUSTIN
LOOK WHAT HAPPENED TO JUSTIN AMASH WHEN HE STOOD UP AND TOLDAMASH WHEN HE STOOD UP AND TOLD THE TRUTH.THE TRUTH. HIS DAYS AS A HERO OF THEHIS DAYS AS A HERO OF THE REPUBLICAN PARTY ARE PROBABLYREPUBLICAN PARTY ARE PROBABLY OVER.OVER. >> I WANT TO ASK ALL OF YOU
Here are my principal conclusions:
1. Attorney General Barr has deliberately misrepresented Mueller’s report.
2. President Trump has engaged in impeachable conduct.
3. Partisanship has eroded our system of checks and balances.
4. Few members of Congress have read the report.
— Justin Amash (@justinamash) May 18, 2019
“Contrary to Barr’s portrayal, Mueller’s report reveals that President Trump engaged in specific actions and a pattern of behavior that meet the threshold for impeachment,” Amash said. “In fact, Mueller’s report identifies multiple examples of conduct satisfying all the elements of obstruction of justice, and undoubtedly any person who is not the president of the United States would be indicted based on such evidence.” That judgment is supported by more than 900 former federal prosecutorswho have signed onto a letter reaffirming this exact point.
Not surprisingly, Trump punched back at Amash on Sunday, tweeting that Amash is “a loser” and “a total lightweight who opposes me and some of our great Republican ideas and policies just for the sake of getting his name out there through controversy.”
.. First are the cynics who know Trump is unfit, if not dangerous; however, they’ll get what they can (e.g., judges, tax cuts) and bolster their resumes (e.g., working for the administration, getting fawning Fox News coverage). When Trump bottoms out, they’ll move on, probably insisting they were secretly against Trump all along. They consider Republicans who’ve resisted Trump such as the Weekly Standard’s editors and writers, who refused to imbibe the Trump Kool-Aid and in the process lost their publication, to be fools, saps and fusspots upset about a few tweets, dumb lies and crass language. All politicians are rotten, right, so why not grab what you can get?
..So we return to the question that vexes NeverTrumpers and Democrats: Why are Republicans such quivering sycophants, willing to lie and debase themselves in support of an unpopular president who is repudiating many of the principles they have spent their lives advancing?
I’d suggest there are three distinct groups of Republican grovelers. Some may fall into multiple categories.
- First are the cynics who know Trump is unfit, if not dangerous; however, they’ll get what they can (e.g., judges, tax cuts) and bolster their resumes (e.g., working for the administration, getting fawning Fox News coverage). When Trump bottoms out, they’ll move on, probably insisting they were secretly against Trump all along. They consider Republicans who’ve resisted Trump such as the Weekly Standard’s editors and writers, who refused to imbibe the Trump Kool-Aid and in the process lost their publication, to be fools, saps and fusspots upset about a few tweets, dumb lies and crass language. All politicians are rotten, right, so why not grab what you can get?
In the second category are Republicans convinced that they’ll never find work if they speak out against Trump. They’ll lose their offices and/or offend Republican officialdom, including think tanks, right-wing media, donors, party activists and elected officials. (They are part of a right-wing ecosystem; some might call it a racket.) No plum lobbying gigs or Fox contributorships for them. They fear ostracism would ruin them financially and personally, leaving them in a political wilderness from which they fear they’d never return. They, like the cynics, occasionally feel a pang of conscience, especially when NeverTrumpers remind them that there is an alternative to self-debasement. They then will swiftly revert to “But Gorsuch and Kavanaugh” or “But taxes” to justify their moral and intellectual collapse. They’ll whisper behind closed doors that Trump is a menace, but coo and kvell over him when the cameras are on.
And finally, there are the cranks, the zealots, the racists and the haters — a group, it turns out, much larger than many ex-Republicans could ever fathom. This includes not just the overt white nationalists and the tea party crowd but also those who have been simmering with personal resentment against “liberal elites.” Vice President Pence insists he and his fellow evangelical Christians are hapless victims; the children and grandchildren of Dixiecrats fume that everything went downhill in the 1960s. Some of these people will insist they are not racists nor misogynists — but yet they sure seem to have an extraordinarily high tolerance for those who are.
If you eliminate the retirees who couldn’t take it any more (e.g., former U.S. senator from Arizona Jeff Flake), the cynics, the scaredy-cats and the resentful self-made victims, you’re down to a precious few congressional Republicans who will refuse to rationalize (and even praise) whatever Trump does. Only 13 House Republicans and 12 Senate Republicans voted to block Trump’s noxious emergency declaration on the U.S.-Mexico border, which amounted to a repudiation of our constitutional government of separation of powers.
I’d love to think Amash’s statements free and embolden many more Republicans in the House and Senate to step forward.
Is that likely? No.
This is why voters must continue to reject Trump and Trumpism, driving the current crew of Republicans out of office. Only then, like saplings poking up from the ashes of a forest fire, can new, sustainable and decent political life on the right emerge. Unless and until Amash has many, many allies, the voters must do the heavy lifting of ridding ourselves of Trump and Trumpism.