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CNN’s Toobin vs. Alan Dershowitz: What Side Are You On? Are You Embarrassed Defending Trump?

CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin and constitutional lawyer Alan Dershowitz, who was recently added to President Trump’s impeachment defense legal team, debate constitutional grounds for impeachment.

“Do you get paid for this? How does that work?” CNN host Anderson Cooper asked Dershowitz.

“That hasn’t been discussed,” he said. “But if I were to be paid, all the money would go to charity. I will not take a single penny… I’m doing this because I strongly believe in the Constitution, I strongly oppose the impeachment. I worry about the weaponization of impeachment and it could be used in other cases.”

“I join James Madison who was very concerned that using open-ended phrases could create a way in which Congress should have too much power over the president,” he said. “I join Alexander Hamilton who said the greatest danger is when impeachment turns on the number of votes each party can get. So I’m there to try to defend the integrity of the Constitution. That benefits President Trump in this case.”

The segment turned personal several times when Toobin drilled Dershowitz on why he is defending Trump but not acting like he is on Trump’s defense team.

“He absolutely is entitled to the best constitutional defense he can get,” Toobin said. “What he’s not entitled to is Alan pretending like he’s some sort of neutral observer instead of what he is, which is Donald Trump’s lawyer. For some reason, you don’t want to admit that, and that’s — that’s up to you.”

“Look, let me be clear. I’m an advocate. I’m an advocate against impeachment, but I’m politically neutral. That is I would make the same argument if it was a Democrat or Republican. I don’t let my political preferences interfere with my constitutional analysis,” Dershowitz shot back.

“Hillary Clinton didn’t behave this way,” Toobin said.

“I would do it for Hillary Clinton if she did behave this way, if she did behave this way,” Dershowitz said.

“Well, you know, we’re into like magical hypotheticals here,” Toobin responded.

Toobin, calling himself “just some guy on cable,” said he is bothered that Dershowitz continues to act like an outside observer.

“I’m just some guy on cable. You are going into the United States Senate and telling the senators how to vote. That to me is a very big deal. And what bothers me is that you are doing that pretending like you’re some sort of outside, objective observer instead of Donald Trump’s lawyer,” Toobin said.

“No, I’m an advocate against impeachment. I’m an advocate against impeachment,” Dershowitz said.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Alan Dershowitz joins us. He’s professor emeritus at Harvard University, a former member of the O.J. Simpson legal defense team and a bestselling author. His latest book is titled “The Case Against Removing Trump”.

Also joining us, another bestselling author and our chief legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin, and a former student of Professor Dershowitz’s.

Professor, so, what exactly is your role here?

You’re going to be delivering arguments on behalf of the president on the Senate floor talking about the Constitution. You say you’re not a formal part of the legal team. How so?

ALAN DERSHOWITZ, PROFESSOR EMERITUS, HARVARD LAW SCHOOL: Well, I’ve been asked to prepare and deliver the case — the constitutional case against impeachment that benefits the president. It’s the same argument I would have made if Hillary Clinton had been elected and she were being impeached. It’s similar to the arguments I made when I testified as a witness against impeachment of Bill Clinton and when I consulted with the Bill Clinton legal team.

I’m there only to argue about the constitutional criteria for impeachment, which I’ve written about extensively, and why these articles don’t rise to the level of an impeachable offense. I will go into the history of the formulation in the Constitution and the history of how these words came to be, and leave it to others to argue the facts, to make strategic decisions about witnesses. That’s not within my jurisdiction.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: Alan, why are you playing these semantic games? Whose side are you on? I mean, you’re part of the defense team. Why? Are you embarrassed?

DERSHOWITZ: You sound like my mother when I said I was challenging —

TOOBIN: I look like your mother, too.

DERSHOWITZ: Well, you wish.

(LAUGHTER)

DERSHOWITZ: Well, I said, I said that I was defending the right of Nazis to march through Skokie. And she said to me, son, are you for the Jews or are you for the Nazis? I said, I’m for the Constitution.

And she said, I’m your mother, don’t tell me that, you have to pick sides. The Jews or the Constitution. Look — or the Nazis?

(CROSSTALK)

TOOBIN: That’s very interesting, but what side are you on in the impeachment case?

DERSHOWITZ: I’m on the side — I’m on against — I’m against impeachment. I’m clear about that.

I think it would be unconstitutional. It would set a terrible precedent for this president to be impeached for these alleged articles of impeachment.

So, I feel very strongly. I will make a strong argument against impeachment.

But I’m not part of the regular team that will be making strategic decisions and participating in questions about whether there should be witnesses or not. That’s going to be left to others. I have a specific role.

COOPER: Are you getting — how does it — just specifically how — do you get paid for this? How does that work?

DERSHOWITZ: Well, if — that hasn’t been discussed. But if I were to be paid, all the money would go to charity. I will not take a single penny, a payment —

COOPER: OK.

DERSHOWITZ: — that I would keep based on what I’m doing.

I’m doing this because I strongly believe in the Constitution, I strongly oppose the impeachment. I worry about the weaponization of impeachment and it could be used in other cases.

I join James Madison who was very concerned that using open-ended phrases could create a way in which Congress should have too much power over the president.

I join Alexander Hamilton who said the greatest danger is when impeachment turns on the number of votes each party can get.

So I’m there to try to defend the integrity of the Constitution. That benefits President Trump in this case.

COOPER: Yes. Well, listen, I think anybody — everybody should have the best defense possible on — in any courtroom.

Jeff Toobin, what do you make of Professor Dershowitz’s argument about the Constitution not —

TOOBIN: I think it’s wrong. I mean, Alan’s position, and I don’t want to mischaracterize it, is that a president — that impeachment should only apply to criminal offenses.

DERSHOWITZ: No, no, that’s not my position.

TOOBIN: All right. Why don’t you say what it is, because I don’t want to mischaracterize it.

DERSHOWITZ: OK, my position is clear, that the Framers said treason, bribery and other high crimes and misdemeanors. Other refers to matters that are close in kind. And Professor Tribe, by the way, agrees with me on this part of the analysis.

So, the official (ph) offenses, they don’t have to be specific criminal offenses but they have to be criminal-like, they have to be like treason, they have to be like bribery.

COOPER: So abuse of power is not — is not a high crime?

DERSHOWITZ: No. No, abuse of power was one of those things mentioned by the Framers as a reason why we need impeachment but then rejected. It was widely discussed. It could easily have been accepted as one of the constitutional criteria.

TOOBIN: That’s not true, Alan.

DERSHOWITZ: Let me give you another example. Let me give you another example.

TOOBIN: All right. Let me just — let me just talk for a second. I mean —

DERSHOWITZ: Yes.

TOOBIN: Federalist 65, Alexander Hamilton, which you —

DERSHOWITZ: Sure.

TOOBIN: — you write about —

DERSHOWITZ: I do.

TOOBIN: — he specifically says abuse of or violation of some public trust is why — is an impeachable offense. And it also makes sense.

DERSHOWITZ: No, no, he doesn’t say that. He doesn’t say that. He says that’s why we have impeachment and that’s why crimes —

TOOBIN: OK.

DERSHOWITZ: — like treason and bribery are abuses of power. And if they are abuses of power, but the criteria have to be met.

Let me give you an example. Madison in calling for impeachment says we need to make sure a president doesn’t become incompetent. That’s a good reason. But then when the criteria were debated, incompetence was not included because it was too broad. We needed to amend the Constitution to include that.

If you want to include the abuse of power, amend the Constitution. It won’t get ten votes in Congress because half the presidents of the United States have been accused by their political opponents of abuse of power. It’s much too open ended and too broad and it would turn us into a parliamentary democracy in which Congress has too much power over the president.

COOPER: What about violating the public trust?

DERSHOWITZ: That’s not an impeachable offense. It could have been. They discussed it. But they didn’t put it in the Constitution.

They put in crimes that violate the public trust, that is treason and bribery violate the public trust. And if there were other crimes like it, they would violate the public trust.

(CROSSTALK)

TOOBIN: But as you know, Alan — as you know, Alan, there was — there was no federal criminal code in the late 18th century.

DERSHOWITZ: That’s why I say you don’t need specific crimes. You need criminal-like behavior. Everybody knew what bribery was. Treason is defined in the Constitution.

And if somebody — and here I disagree with Trump — if somebody were to murder somebody, by the way, we did have a vice president who did murder Alexander Hamilton while he was vice president and he wasn’t impeached because in those days, a duel, even though it was illegal was not regarded as murder.

Look, I just think —

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: So, Jeff — let me let Jeff talk a little bit.

Jeff, Jeff — what do you think the scope of high crimes and misdemeanors is? And how much is open to interpretation? TOOBIN: Well, it is of course open to interpretation, like any

provision of law. You know, they don’t cover every circumstance. But the point of impeachment is misconduct and bad conduct that only a president can do.

Alan, you and I can’t withhold aid from the Ukraine to advance our political interests. Only the president —

DERSHOWITZ: And neither were we — neither were we elected.

TOOBIN: Let me finish, let me finish, Alan.

DERSHOWITZ: Sure.

TOOBIN: Only the president —

DERSHOWITZ: I agree, I agree.

TOOBIN: — has the power to abuse his power in that way.

DERSHOWITZ: I agree.

TOOBIN: And the idea that the only remedy for that is to have an election down the line, this is so far outside what we expect of the presidency. And it is in violation —

DERSHOWITZ: I agree. Look, I agree with all that, but the Framers didn’t make it an impeachable offense and they could easily have done it.

Jeffrey, let me ask you one direct question. You admit these are arguable points. Don’t you think it important for the president to have constitutional lawyer like me making those points in a nonpartisan way, in a way I would have been making them for Hillary Clinton and introduce a nonpartisan constitutional element into the discussion?

COOPER: Let me — I —

DERSHOWITZ: They can accept it or they can reject it. They can listen to your argument. They can listen to mine…

COOPER: We’re talking tonight about the impeachment case against the president, as well as the case against that case, the constitutional arguments for and against, the politics, as well as new documents coming to light. To that specific point, we’ll hear more from Lev Parnas shortly.

Back now with Jeff Toobin and Alan Dershowitz, who right before the break asked Jeff whether the president, in fact, deserved to have a topnotch attorney, such as Alan Dershowitz, exploring constitutional questions and issues during the trial.

What about that, Jeff?

TOOBIN: He should — he absolutely is entitled to the best constitutional defense he can get.

What he’s not entitled to is Alan pretending like he’s some sort of neutral observer instead of what he is, which is Donald Trump’s lawyer. For some reason, you don’t want to admit that, and that’s — that’s up to you.

But you are sort — you are pretending that there is some sort of perfect constitutional sweet spot. It doesn’t have to be a crime but it can’t be simply being a bad president, that there is some magical area in there that is an impeachable offense.

And I think straight forwardly that abuse of power, it’s — the Framers recognized it, that’s what’s the issue in this case, and the senators are perfectly capable of determining whether what the president did is a violation of his oath.

DERSHOWITZ: Well, that’s like saying a judge is perfectly capable of determining something without an advocate on any side.

Look, let me be clear. I’m an advocate. I’m an advocate against impeachment, but I’m politically neutral. That is I would make the same argument if it was a Democrat or Republican. I don’t let my political preferences interfere with my constitutional analysis.

Look, Jeffrey, it would be good if you presented your argument on behalf of the Democrats. You’re partisan on that side. They would hear arguments from you. They would hear arguments from me.

But I think the Senate and the country are helped when they hear from somebody like me who is a liberal Democrat, who has always voted Democrat, who has strong views on impeachment. I had strong views even when Nixon was impeached. Although I favored his impeachment, I urged the ACLU not to take a position, but instead to defend his civil liberties when he was named an unindicted coconspirator. I took the same position when Bill Clinton was impeached and I’m taking the same position now.

I think it’s very valuable for the Senate to hear that kind of point of view and then let it make its decision.

TOOBIN: But you keep invoking —

DERSHOWITZ: Look, I wish we had a nonpartisan —

TOOBIN: — you keep invoking —

DERSHOWITZ: Yes.

TOOBIN: — like I would do this for Hillary Clinton.

Hillary Clinton didn’t behave this way. This is a case —

DERSHOWITZ: I would do it for Hillary Clinton if she did behave this way, if she did behave this way.

TOOBIN: Well, you know, we’re into like magical hypotheticals here.

DERSHOWITZ: I’m just saying — no, I’m just saying I’m not partisan. I don’t take — take my cases based on whether it’s a Democrat or a Republican. I pass the shoe on the other foot test.

No matter what it is, if the same facts were for a Democrat or a Republican, I would make the same arguments. I don’t think that’s true of all of my colleagues, or of all of the folks on CNN —

TOOBIN: Well, I can’t —

DERSHOWITZ: — or on Fox or anybody else.

TOOBIN: — speak for anyone but myself.

DERSHOWITZ: Well —

TOOBIN: All I’m talking about is the facts here and the rule in the Constitution.

And the rule in the Constitution which I have always understood in which I think is by far the majority view, notwithstanding your view, is that abuse of power, a president doing something is not a violation of the criminal law but a serious and, you know, threatening use of presidential power. That’s exactly why we have high crimes and misdemeanors.

DERSHOWITZ: That’s one issue here. Your view, and my view, the Framers agreed with my view, not yours.

They could easily have put abuse of power into the criteria for impeachment. It was discussed. It was never accepted.

Let the Senate hear our points of view.

TOOBIN: But I —

DERSHOWITZ: But don’t criticize me for stating my position and don’t say I’ve changed, Jeffrey.

TOOBIN: I don’t know whether you’ve changed — I don’t know whether you’ve changed —

DERSHOWITZ: I’ve been completely consistent since 1973. I have changed not at all. The big rap on me is that I don’t change, that I have a small mind. I’m the hob-goblin of small minds because I’m so consistent.

TOOBIN: I think you have a very big mind.

DERSHOWITZ: But I never changed my views on impeachment.

TOOBIN: But I’m just some guy on cable. You are going into the United States Senate and telling the senators how to vote. That to me is a very big deal.

DERSHOWITZ: It is.

TOOBIN: And what bothers me is that you are doing that pretending like you’re some sort of outside, objective observer instead of Donald Trump’s lawyer.

DERSHOWITZ: No, I’m an advocate against impeachment. I’m an advocate against impeachment.

TOOBIN: Why don’t you want to say his name? You keep saying like —

DERSHOWITZ: Because —

TOOBIN: You know, that’s who you are. You’re his lawyer.

DERSHOWITZ: I am not part of the strategic legal team. I am a constitutional analyst. I want the impeachment to fail, I hope will fail.

COOPER: But it wasn’t — just for the record, it wasn’t the Constitution who calls you up and asks you to do this, it was — it was the White House and President Trump.

DERSHOWITZ: No, obviously. First of all, I’ve been writing about it —

COOPER: Right.

DERSHOWITZ: — and making this point on your show and others since well before anybody on the other side called me.

I think it’s the right thing to do. I would be doing it no matter what the circumstances were and I think it’s good for the American people.

COOPER: I have no issue — I think — I think everybody — I mean, as I said, I think everybody should have the best defense possible. Jeff’s point is you’re working for the president, whether —

DERSHOWITZ: I’m working for the Constitution, the beneficiary this time happens to be the president. Last time, it was President Clinton. The time before, it was President Nixon.

COOPER: I hear what you’re saying. DERSHOWITZ: I’m not working for anybody. What I’m doing is making a

constitutional argument on behalf of President Trump’s team against impeachment.

COOPER: Professor —

DERSHOWITZ: Let’s be very clear about that. I’m against impeachment. I think it would be a very bad thing to happen. I’m very happy that the Senate will hear my view.

Let me tell what my goal is —

COOPER: Do you think there should be witnesses, Professor?

DERSHOWITZ: — I want to persuade some Democrats. I want to persuade — if I can’t persuade Democrats to agree with me, I will have failed. And I suspect I will fail. I don’t think I’ll persuade Democrats.

But I want Democrats with open minds to be persuaded and it would be very nice if Republicans with open minds would hear both sides. I would love to see a real trial that really involved people that hadn’t made —

(CROSSTALK)

TOOBIN: With witnesses?

COOPER: So, that’s my question. Do you believe there should be no witnesses if you want a real trial?

DERSHOWITZ: If there were witnesses for one side, there have to be witnesses for the other side.

COOPER: True.

DERSHOWITZ: You can’t have witnesses only for the prosecution.

COOPER: So, do you think there should; be witnesses?

DERSHOWITZ: You would have witnesses for the defense.

It’s up to the Senate. I would have no objection if after the opening arguments and closing arguments the Senate voted to have witnesses.

COOPER: No, no, but do you think there should be? Because I mean, your argument is you’re arguing for the Constitution just as an outside observer because you’re not on the legal team.

DERSHOWITZ: The Constitution doesn’t speak to that. If they do call Bolton, then we have constitutional issues, because Bolton will want to testify, the president will invoke executive privilege, it will probably have to go to court and it will result in just the kind of delays —

COOPER: What about a Lev Parnas? DERSHOWITZ: — in a trial that the Democrats did not — oh, if — let me tell you, if I were a lawyer, a real lawyer, I couldn’t hope for somebody better than Lev Parnas to be testifying against my client. You couldn’t imagine anybody who would be more open to effective cross-examination than a Lev Parnas. So —

COOPER: Why is that?

DERSHOWITZ: I don’t — I predict here Lev Parnas will not be called as a witness because he has so much baggage and so much liability. I don’t think he’ll be ever called as a witness.

TOOBIN: If he’s such a terrible —

DERSHOWITZ: I think Bolton might be called, but he might not ever end up testifying, because it’s not decision whether to testify. It’s the decision of the court.

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: Professor, what does it say — right, what does it say that Rudy Giuliani and, according to Lev Parnas, President Trump were relying on Lev Parnas to be the face of this extortion scheme or this foreign policy scheme or this just whatever —

DERSHOWITZ: It says there should be an investigation and if there is any criminal conduct, it should be charged. It also may lead people to decide to vote one way rather than another, but that doesn’t rise to the level of an impeachable offense. And it’s not even charged as part of the impeachable offenses.

So, you know, we can disagree and agree. There’s a lot we’ll agree about. We’ll agree about what went on with Lev Parnas and all of those people is very, very disagreeable, but you have to ask a distinction between political sins, crimes and impeachable offenses. And those are the distinctions I want to keep in the forefront.

I’m going to make my argument. I’m not telling the Senate what to do. I am presenting an argument. I hope they accept my argument.

COOPER: I guess —

DERSHOWITZ: My goal would get some Democrats to accept my argument. I would love to see more bipartisanism in the impeachment process as both Hamilton and Madison wanted.

COOPER: Because I’m not a law student at all, so correct me where I’m wrong here. But it says high crimes and misdemeanor in the Constitution, yes?

DERSHOWITZ: Yes.

COOPER: Does it spell out what a high crime and misdemeanor is?

DERSHOWITZ: No, it spells out what treason is.

COOPER: So, why are you alleging that you know what a high crime and misdemeanor is?

[20:25:00]

DERSHOWITZ: Because I’ve gone back and I’ve read all the debates and I’ve read all the history and I’ve read the words of the Constitution.

COOPER: So, you’re interpreting the history —

DERSHOWITZ: It doesn’t say — yes —

COOPER: It doesn’t say —

DERSHOWITZ: And I’m presenting — I’m presenting an interpretation. You left out one word. It says other high crimes and misdemeanors. The other referring back to bribery and treason and high crimes and misdemeanors has a meaning.

We all agree about what high crimes mean. Clinton was wrongly impeached because he committed a low crime, not a high crime.

Meghan McCain: Sen. McSally “Didn’t Earn” Senate Seat Held By My Father

Meghan McCain, co-host of ABC’s ‘The View’ and daughter of former Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), gives her opinion on Sen. Martha McSally (R-AZ) calling a CNN reporter a “liberal hack.”

JOY BEHAR Meghan, she’s from your state.

MEGHAN MCCAIN: She’s actually appointed. She didn’t win that seat. I think that’s important.

BEHAR: After your father?

MCCAIN: Yeah, she didn’t earn it, I mean in the traditional sense with votes. And she does have an extremely tight race. Arizona could turn blue, which I mean – pigs may start flying around the studio if that ends up happening – I never thought I’d see the day. But she is fundraising off of this with Trump supporters. But unfortunately, there’s a lot of states like Utah, like Arizona, like Nevada, that I think people just assume are going to be full red forever, and it’s not. It’s very independent and fringy, and I think there’s a reason why it has such a long history, especially in Arizona, with people like Barry Goldwater in place.

Actually think she’s playing her cards completely wrong. One hundred percent I don’t think this is the right way to do it, but do you know who’s playing it completely, right? My other senator, Kyrsten Sinema, with her fashion choices on the Congressional floor. I think we have it. Look at her, that’s my other senator. Look at that outfit. I love everything she’s doing. She’s very independent. She’s a Democrat, but she’s like very-she votes on the right as well, and I think she should take more pages from Kyrsten Sinema.

(Transcript via Breitbart Video)

David Brooks: I Am Struck Dershowitz and Starr Joined Trump Defense, Schiff Will “Walk All Over Them”

PBS NEWSHOUR: Syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks join Judy Woodruff to discuss the week’s political news, including the opening of President Trump’s Senate trial and the announcement of his legal team, public opinion on impeachment, 2020 Democrats’ final debate before the Iowa caucuses and Michael Bloomberg’s remarkable ad spend.

JUDY WOODRUFF, PBS NEWSHOUR: For just the third time in U.S. history, the chief justice of the United States has sworn in U.S. senators with an oath that they will conduct impartial justice in the impeachment trial of a sitting president.

The trial is set to begin next Tuesday, keeping four 2020 Democratic presidential contenders who are also senators in Washington, while other candidates continue their campaigns in Iowa ahead of the first primary contest of the year, coming in just over two weeks.

Here to assess these historic times are Shields and Brooks. That is syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks.

Hello to both of you…

So the case is stronger, David?

DAVID BROOKS, NEW YORK TIMES: I think so.

I take all that Mark said as true. On the negative side – and I think they both are true – if you look at the polling over the last month, the number of people who think Trump should be removed has gone down slightly, the number of people who think he shouldn’t be removed has gone up by 5 or 5 percentage points.

So, now a slight plurality of Americans think he shouldn’t be reviewed (sic) – very slight. It’s pretty much 50/50, basically.

And so, if you’re looking for it political pressure on Republican senators, you certainly don’t see it so far out there, and, if anything, I think the psychology of the moment is that that stuff is a little old news, we have got this exciting election campaign. I think there’s more interest in that than impeachment.

WOODRUFF: So the delay, you’re saying, may have hurt cause, the Democratic cause?

BROOKS: I think it hurt and helped, but I certainly don’t see any wellspring of public support…

WOODRUFF: Well, do you think more information is going to come out? There is a question, David.

I mean, what do we expect of this trial? Because there’s a question of whether there are going to be witnesses, whether there is going to be evidence presented.

BROOKS: Right.

Yes, no, I have learned to never underestimate the ability of Trump to self-sabotage. So, I assume that he did more, and there’s probably more – even within hours, there might be more Parnas evidence and elsewhere.

And so that will continue to come out. In my view, frankly, when we saw the phone call transcript of day one on this whole deal, to me, he was 99 percent guilty at that moment. And now he’s risen to 99.9 percent guilty.

But it’s a marginal difference. And it seems to me the Republicans are going to say, bad, but not worthy of removal. And that seems to be the argument they’re already making. That is the argument Sean Hannity is making on FOX.

And so that’s not an evidence argument. It’s a what kind of Constitution we have over what are our standards argument. And I think that’s what they’re going to stick with.

And I’m, frankly, struck by the number of people who have joined his defense team, Alan Dershowitz and Ken Starr.

t do this.

I mean, there’s not – like, whatever you think of Trump or not, there’s like not a lot of good arguments on your side. Like, why would you want to go to a movie where you got nothing but bad lines?

And so I think they’re all going to hurt them. I mean, I think they will get through this. But I wouldn’t say it’s a career enhancer for anybody. I don’t know why they’re all signing up for this.

WOODRUFF: You mean because you think they will say things that will hurt the case?

BROOKS: Schiff will just – he will just walk all over them, because he has the evidence on his side.

So, it’s not a debate you want to have when you’re on a losing side. And this is basically a political game to get through it…

WOODRUFF: Well, we’re learning more. And the book, you’re right, is getting – is getting a lot of attention. We look to be interviewing the authors in a few days.

So while all this is going on, David, by the way, there is this contest for the Democratic nomination for president. And we mentioned Iowa caucuses coming up in just a little over two weeks.

There was a debate, another debate this week among six of the Democrats. What do we learn about the contest from this? What do we learn about the candidates?

BROOKS: Well, we had the spat at the end between Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, and we had a strong Warren performance, I thought, a strong Biden performance, in that he got through it.

But I’m sort of impressed. We always look at candidates who are sliding…

But – so Warren is not doing well in the polls. And so if you look at just – dumbly look at the Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, the first four or five states, she’s like fourth in almost all of them, and that’s not good.

And so you think, candidates – you always think, OK, try something new. And I thought, A, he tried something new with the Sanders direct challenge. I’m not sure it’ll work. And then she was just more aggressive on a lot of issues.

And so I think she’s making as good a case that she can make to be relevant in the top two or three…

WOODRUFF: But just quickly, David, to get to the point she was – the dispute between her and Bernie Sanders is over whether a woman can be elected president.

I mean, are we still having that discussion in 2020?

BROOKS: Yes.

So I think it’s a little bogus. A, Bernie Sanders denies saying it. B, I don’t believe he believes that as – for the reasons Mark said. And so it’s picking up on an issue which I think is an attempt for her to, like, cast him aside.

I don’t think it’s a particularly relevant issue, because I think his record is one of respect for toward women. And I don’t think we’re having that argument.

Sen. McSally Defends Calling CNN Reporter “Liberal Hack”: “I Decided To Call A LIberal A Liberal”

Sen. Martha McSally (R-AZ) talks about the media outrage at her for calling a CNN Congressional reporter a “liberal hack.” McSally, in an interview with FNC’s Sean Hannity, said she called a liberal a liberal and they just couldn’t handle it. She said she thought the network understood that everybody views them as liberal.

HANNITY: Animosity between the fake news media and conservatives is now reaching a fevered pitch. Last night, we played tape of Senator Martha McSally shutting down a fake news CNN reporter. In case you missed it, it’s a good moment. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Senator McSally, should the Senate consider new evidence as part of the impeachment trial?

SEN. MARTHA MCSALLY (R-AZ): Man, you’re a liberal hack. I’m not talking to you.

REPORTER: You’re not going to comment?

MCSALLY: You’re a liberal hack.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HANNITY: Following the exchange, fake news CNN was thrown into an unhinged meltdown. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wow, if you can’t answer that question, maybe you shouldn’t have been elect you had to the Senate. But, oh, sorry, Martha McSally actually wasn’t elected.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It just demeans the office.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Her behavior was disgraceful.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If hey did the right thing, she would personally call you and say, I’m sorry, it’s an awful, awful thing that she did.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It’s harmful to democracy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Unbecoming.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It’s a nice word.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At the very least, at the very least, that’s what it was.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When they tell the news media to go away, they are telling you at home to go away. When they won’t answer your questions. that’s not about us. It’s about you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HANNITY: Here with reaction, Senator Martha McSally. Senator, I applaud what you did. I’m going to tell you why. They lie daily. They lie constantly. They went for three years, all in — Trump, Russia, Russia, Russia. Russia.

MCSALLY: Right.

HANNITY: A breathless hysteria. Daily, every second, minute, hour. They got so much wrong. And they’re so sanctimonious that I actually think in their twisted brains they think they’re a news channel. They’re not a news channel. They’re state-run, radical, leftist, socialist TV. So, you’re saying, I’m not answering your liberal question. Good for you. I don’t blame you.

MCSALLY: Thanks, Sean. Yes, their response has just been ridiculous as you saw. I think there was also another clip where they said something like, I can’t imagine anyone ever voting for Martha McSally. My response is, why would anyone ever want to watch your channel unless they’re trapped in an airport in a blizzard? I — it’s been amazing to me.

(CROSSTALK)

HANNITY: Fox needs to fix that. We need to be in the airports.

MCSALLY: Yes.

HANNITY: You go in an airport, you’re stuck — now, foreign countries are stuck with them. I’m like, wow, I would want — they must think we’re a country that we’re not if you’re watching them.

MCSALLY: I know, and, Sean, I actually thought they understood that they were liberal, that they were a part of kind of helping with the Democrat agenda. On a daily basis, you see whatever the Democrat talking points are, are the talking points in the liberal mainstream media, as you know. And I thought they were aware of it, but somehow, they just, you know, they checked their journalism objectivity at the door. What’s fascinating in response is, it seems like they actually think they’re neutral. They think they’re objective. And that is more troubling. It’s just delusional how they have responded to this. You know, never mind their hyperbolic words about thinking who he did she just have a bad day? Was she emotional? No, I was a fighter pilot. This was a choice I made. I did not crumble under their pressure. I have flown A-10s in combat. I decided to call a liberal a liberal, and for whatever reason, they couldn’t handle it.

Rick Wilson: Republican Party Dead, Trump Killed It; “He’s Like A Parasite That Ate Its Host From The Inside Out”

“Running Against the Devil” author Rick Wilson excoriates his fellow conservatives for being unwilling to stand up to President Trump and offers advice for Democrats in 2020.

“I’m conservative more than Republican. There is no Republican Party anymore – it’s dead. Donald Trump killed it. He’s like a parasite that ate its host from the inside out,” Wilson told ‘Daily Show’ host Trevor Noah.

Biden: “I Plan On Campaigning In The South”

Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden talks about campaigning in Texas if he becomes the Democratic nominee and if he would consider Beto O’Rourke or Julian Castro as a running mate in an interview with ‘The Dallas Morning News.’ Biden said both men are “qualified” and promised that his administration would be full of Latinos.

“I got in trouble for saying that I plan on campaigning in the South,” Biden told the paper. “The folks in the Democratic party said what are you talking about? I know one thing: It’s not going to be enough to beat Trump. We’ve got to win back the Senate.”

“We’ve got to go in and campaign in states that in fact are doable or getable,” Biden said. “Even if I can’t win it, that state, if it can help the nominee win whether it’s Texas, or Georgia, or North Carolina, or Arizona, or Michigan. They’re the places that I am going to be because it is no”t enough to just win; we have to win back the Senate.”

Biden on considering Beto O’Rourke, Julian Castro as running mate: “Yes I would. I’d consider either or both of them. I’ve spoken to each of them and spent some time talking to them. My plea to both to them is to stay engaged. They are talented, talented people. There are a number of Latinos that have endorsed [me], our former Secretary of Interior. A whole lot of people who are going to — I’m going to, I guarantee you that there is going to be Latinos in my cabinet. I guarantee you there’s going to be Latinos in my White House, and both of them are qualified.”

Two Cheers for Ignoring the Feds

American states and cities are often referred to as laboratories of democracy. Our system of federalism gives relatively wide authority for individual jurisdictions to make their own laws, insofar as those laws don’t compete with the federal government’s authority under the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution or violate state and national law (and even those are often given some leeway). 

That unique system has gotten increased attention on the right recently, as a grassroots movement across Virginia is gathering steam, with a major demonstration in Richmond planned for next Monday. 

If you’re out of the loop – something easy to be, given the mainstream media has largely ignored the movement or labeled the protest as a white nationalist gathering (it’s not) or some ugly parade of ill will – here’s the story in brief. 

The new Democratic majority in Virginia’s state government has been in the process of passing a suite of restrictive laws related to private firearm ownership. Gun registrations – which advocates say are a slippery slope to gun confiscations – are among the chief concerns, as are proposed “assault weapon” bans, limits on new gun purchases, and stricter background checks. 

Virginians are – forgive the pun – up in arms about it, and see these efforts as a blatant assault on their Second Amendment rights. 

There have been demonstrations across Virginia, with over 100 cities, towns and counties declaring themselves Second Amendment sanctuary cities that refuse to enforce components of the new laws. 

Right now, it’s unclear how this situation will resolve itself. Virginia’s gun law may eventually be struck down – as many Second Amendment proponents are calling for – by the court system. 

But we should be thankful for the funny little quirks of American democracy that gives such movements their legitimacy. Our federalist system forces these conversations and debates to come to a head, and the adjudicators in the court system have largely permitted this variety of disobedience

Certainly, there are plenty of local laws that plenty of people, myself included, don’t like. As a conservative, I’m dispositionally skeptical of new ordinances on the whole. And many of the most heralded local efforts to thwart the federal government are on policy issues that bend left, like illegal immigration sanctuary cities (which also have a much more dubious connection to federalism, given the federal nature of immigration). 

But local control is a central component of the conservative spirit. Decisions are best made by those with the on-the-ground knowledge and the perspective of a local stakeholder, not faraway government bureaucrats, regardless of the subject. 

What better way to capture the quarreling, rambunctious spirit of the American people, and our collective ancestral resistance to far-off powers and burdensome rules?

Even as someone who doesn’t have any unique insight into the upcoming protest, I do worry about the government’s response. I hope I’m wrong, of course, but, come what may, we should be thankful that our nation is filled with people who hold their convictions strongly enough to stand up for the Constitution and their conscience. And we should be equally appreciative that our system of government empowers them to do so. 

Drew Holden is a public affairs consultant in Washington, D.C. and a former Republican congressional staffer in the U.S. House of Representatives.

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