President Trump’s newest defense to the Ukraine plot blames his own employee Rick Perry, claiming he ‘made him’ look into the Bidens. Mother Jones’ David Corn argues the Rick Perry defense is Trump’s latest attempt at throwing ‘the ball of confusion,’ adding there is ‘not a complete through-line’ in Trump’s defenses because he is attempting to make the situation ‘incomprehensible.’
“I am so proud to take the @CPAC stage tomorrow morning w two of my heroes @RepMarkMeadows and @Jim_Jordan who were courageous in Congress today,” he wrote. “You speak for all of us.”
But former governor Chris Christie (R-N.J.), who is close to the president, said on ABC that he can “guarantee” Trump is “sitting in Vietnam right now, fuming that no one’s defending him.” He also argued the performance was “either a failure of those Republicans on the Hill or a failure of the White House to have a unified strategy with them.”
“There hasn’t been one Republican yet who’s tried to defend the president on the substance,” he said. “As the day goes on, [people are] going to get tired of hearing the attacks on Cohen’s credibility. . . . Where’s the defense of the president?”
Other Republicans on the Hill privately agreed. Most, however, mused that Jordan couldn’t have done any better given his position in the minority and the fact that Republicans were defending Trump.
“Truthfully, it is tough to ignore some of the gross immoral behavior by the president,” said one senior House Republican who requested anonymity to speak frankly. “The reason there was no defense is because there is no defense.”
Jordan, a fierce Trump ally, said his strategy was working during a committee break Wednesday evening. His members had prepared and coordinated and “were in touch with all kinds of people” to get ready, he said — though he played coy when asked about coordination with White House.
GOP leaders were apprised of the strategy to discredit Cohen as untrustworthy. But they gave Jordan, who is known for his bulldog-like tactics grilling witnesses during hearings, free rein.
“We’re asking the questions that we think need to be asked,” Jordan said of his strategy. “We’re making the point that we think the American people need to understand, plain and simply.”
Jordan pointed to Rep. Thomas Massie’s (R-Ky.) line of questioning when pressed for an example of a defense of Trump. Massie had referenced Cohen’s written testimony, in which he said he paid money to a porn star without considering whether it was the right thing to do.
“Is that being a good lawyer? To not even consider whether it’s legal or not?” Massie asked. Cohen didn’t answer the question, merely arguing that he did what he thought Trump wanted.
The hearing marked Jordan’s first turn in the spotlight as the leader of the committee’s Republicans. Trump personally wanted him or his close friend Meadows to lead his defense against the Democrats. And many Republicans in the House, well-versed in Jordan’s tactics, agreed with the promotion.
When Republicans did try to defend Trump, their approach didn’t seem to elicit the intended effect. Meadows tried to parry Cohen’s allegation that Trump was a racist by inviting a longtime black friend of Trump’s, Lynne Patton, to stand behind him.
But the moment attracted criticism, when two black Democrats on the panel scoffed at Meadows’s suggestion that a person with a black friend could not possibly be a racist.
“Would you agree that someone could deny rental units to African Americans, lead the birther movement, refer to the diaspora as ‘shithole countries,’ refer to white supremacists as ‘fine people,’ have a black friend, and still be racist?” Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), a freshman legislator, asked Cohen at one point.
The question was clearly for Meadows. Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), another freshman, was less forgiving and even seemed to suggest Meadows was racist for bringing in a black woman and using her as “a prop” to defend the president.