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ABC, NBC Fear Biden Will Face ‘Divisive Strategy’ from Trumps Legal Team

As the Senate impeachment trial of President Trump was set to resume on Monday with the second day of the President’s legal team giving their opening arguments, ABC’s Good Morning America and NBC’s Sunday Today previewed the trial and shared their fears for what the defense would say about former Vice President Joe Biden.

“Yeah, in just a few short hours yesterday, the White House lawyers showed they want to argue both the facts of the case and their view that the President’s conduct isn’t impeachable at all. It was really all just a hint of what could be a long and divisive day on Monday,” NBC correspondent Garrett Haake warned viewers at the top of his report.

After playing soundbites of Trump lawyers Pat Cipollone and Jay Sekulow from Saturday’s abbreviated proceedings, Haake touted how “The Democrats [were] fact-checking the President’s lawyers minutes after arguments ended.

Haake then shared a soundbite of him asking Republican Senator Lindsey Graham (SC) if he expected Trump’s legal team to “put the Bidens on trial on Monday?” The Senator schooled him:

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): I expect them to raise obvious questions about how the Vice President who’s in charge of fighting corruption in Ukraine didn’t know his own son was receiving a boatload of money from Burisma.

A divisive strategy for a President expecting a powerful defense in primetime,” Haake added.

 

 

Over on GMA, co-anchor Dan Harris shared his concerns for Biden and his campaign with chief anchor and supposed “ringer,” George Stephanopoulos:

HARRIS: Let’s talk about Joe Biden, in our poll he seems to be hanging tough nationally at the very least, but he could be in for a choppy week here because the Republicans, the defenders of President Trump in the Senate trial are going to be talking about the Bidens a lot during the impeachment trial. Could that hurt him as we run up to Iowa?

“I’m not sure it hurts him,” Stephanopoulos said to alleviate the worry. Part of his explanation was basically a campaign pitch for Biden’s electability. “Listen, if you’re a Democratic primary voter and the President is attacking you as his chief opponent that gives them a lot of reason to think, ‘Wait, the President is scared of Joe Biden, that could mean he’s the most electable,’” he argued.

As they were wrapping up, Stephanopoulos seemed less than confident that Democratic impeachment managers were able to convince moderate Republicans:

The Democrats are hoping that new evidence like this, that has been coming out just about every day would fuel their argument for [new] witnesses and documents in the Senate, and even though that issue isn’t closed yet, and you still have Senators like Mitt Romney, Susan Collins of Maine suggesting they’re open to new witnesses, the positions do seem to be hardening over the course of the week.

“And, of course, even Chuck Schumer, the Democratic leader in the Senate said yesterday that the fight to get new witnesses is very, very tough,” he concluded.

The transcripts are below, click “expand” to read:

ABC’s Good Morning America
January 26, 2020
8:12:16 a.m. Eastern

(…)

Dan Harris: Let’s talk about Joe Biden, in our poll he seems to be hanging tough nationally at the very least, but he could be in for a choppy week here because the Republicans, the defenders of President Trump in the Senate trial are going to be talking about the Bidens a lot during the impeachment trial. Could that hurt him as we run up to Iowa?

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: I’m not sure it hurts him. I mean, if you actually look at polls going back to late September, October, when this story first broke and the impeachment proceedings actually began, Joe Biden has actually held steady, even improved his standing among national polls.

Listen, if you’re a Democratic primary voter and the President is attacking you as his chief opponent that gives them a lot of reason to think, “Wait, the President is scared of Joe Biden, that could mean he’s the most electable.” That may end up helping him as much as it hurts him.

HARRIS: Speaking of Senate trial, we’ve seen this new– now we have video of this interaction apparently between the President and the Lev Parnas. Where the President is saying, “Hey, fire the ambassador to Ukraine,” allegedly. Do you think this has any impact on the trial going forward?

STEPHANOPOULOS: Doesn’t appear to be. I mean, one of the things it shows, as David Wright pointed out in his piece, that the President, who says he doesn’t know Lev Parnas there’s a lot of evidence to the contrary right there.

The Democrats are hoping that new evidence like this, that has been coming out just about every day would fuel their argument for [new] witnesses and documents in the Senate, and even though that issue isn’t closed yet, and you still have Senators like Mitt Romney, Susan Collins of Maine suggesting they’re open to new witnesses, the positions do seem to be hardening over the course of the week.

And, of course, even Chuck Schumer, the Democratic leader in the Senate said yesterday that the fight to get new witnesses is very, very tough.

HARRIS: George Stephanopoulos, thank you very much. Great to see you, our ringer on a Sunday morning.

 

NBC’s Sunday Today
January 26, 2020
8:02:28 a.m. Eastern

WILLIE GEIST: But let’s begin this morning with the defense of President Trump at his impeachment trial in the United States Senate. In a relatively brief session on Saturday, the President’s attorneys gave the outlines of their case. NBC’s Garrett Haake is on Capitol Hill, where he’s been covering this trial very closely. Garrett, good morning.

GARRETT HAAKE: Hey, Willie, good morning. Yeah, in just a few short hours yesterday, the White House lawyers showed they want to argue both the facts of the case and their view that the President’s conduct isn’t impeachable at all. It was really all just a hint of what could be a long and divisive day on Monday.

[Cuts to video]

A political counterpunch Saturday from President Trump’s defense team.

PAT CIPOLLONE (President Trump’s legal team): They’re here to perpetuate the most massive interference in an election in American history.

HAKKE: White House lawyers rolling out what they call a preview of their case.

JAY SEKULOW (President Trump’s legal team): The evidence is actually really overwhelming that the President did nothing wrong.

HAAKE: The Democrats fact-checking the President’s lawyers minutes after arguments ended.

(…)

HAAKE: The trial resumes on Monday with the defense team that’s expected to present all afternoon and into the evening.

Do you expect them to put the Bidens on trial on Monday?

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): I expect them to raise obvious questions about how the Vice President who’s in charge of fighting corruption in Ukraine didn’t know his own son was receiving a boatload of money from Burisma.

HAAKE: A divisive strategy for a President expecting a powerful defense in primetime.

SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D-CT): The defense team is playing to an audience of one, President of the United States and his base.

[Cuts back to live]

HAAKE: Arguments resumed on Monday afternoon and Senators could be facing that all-important vote on whether to call witnesses by mid-week. Democrats need to convince four Republicans that they would like to hear more and the White House lawyers would be targeting those same Republican Senators and arguing that there is no one who has testimony that would be worth their time.

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