Monday, February 24, 2020

Conway: White House Ready to 'Go on Offense' If There Is a Senate Impeachment Trial

On Sunday’s broadcast of CBS’s “Face the Nation,” White House counselor Kellyanne Conway said the Trump administration was preparing a robust defense of President Donald Trump during a possible Senate impeachment trial.

Partial transcript as follows:

BRENNAN: Well, I want to get on to what is happening here in Washington with this week of hearings. The president has said he wants a trial in the Senate, but then others at the White House say they’re not even sure Democrats will move ahead with impeachment. What exactly are you preparing for?

CONWAY: We’re preparing for both eventualities. And here’s why, Margaret. If we- if it does go to a trial in the Senate, and that is not certain right now. You’ve got a lot of Democrats wringing their hands that they did not see, as Will Hurd— a moderate Democrat, excuse me, a moderate Republican who’s retiring this year— said he did not see overwhelming, compelling, clear, and convincing evidence. Many of those Democrats, especially the ones who represent the 31 Trump-Pence districts from ’16, they have to go back home and say, “I know I promised to lower your drug prices. I know I promised to keep this great economy going on. I know I promised trade deals like USMCA, but we’re busy impeaching a president.” And they’re getting blowback for that. So I think for those Democrats, they’re- it’s not completely certain yet. Some of them have actually gone on the record saying, “I’m not there yet. I have to see what the articles say and what the report is.” But we know what they didn’t see this- over twelve witnesses in two weeks of testimony and over 30 hours. They didn’t hear anybody say when they were asked bribery? No. Extortion? No. Quid pro quo for the aid? No. Preconditions for a meeting? Did the president commit a crime? No, no, no every time. The closest they got to it was Sondland in his prepared remarks saying he thought there was a quid pro quo for a meeting.

BRENNAN: Right.

CONWAY: They had the meeting on September 22nd in- in- in New York. And also the aide went to Ukraine earlier than that.

BRENNAN: Right.

CONWAY: So they got their aid. They’ve got javelins and cyber rifles. The Ukrainian policy under President Trump is better than it was previously and Ukraine has more aid.

BRENNAN: So, Sondland, you mentioned there who testified he laid out a few different things there. But I’m wondering, you know, he serves at the pleasure of the president. Is he going to keep his job despite testifying against him?

CONWAY: He flew right back to Brussels, Belgium. I don’t know that he testified against the president. Again, I need to remind the viewers that when Sondland was- when Ambassador Sondland was asked by Adam Schiff, who I guess was waiting for a different response, “so the quid pro quo was for the aid?” And Sondland said, “no, the quid pro quo was for a meeting or a statement.” Ambassador Volker separately testified they abandoned the whole idea of making a statement to focus on the aid. That was very smart because Ukraine got its aid. Margaret, we simply can’t impeach and remove a democratically elected president from office because you didn’t beat him- they didn’t beat him in 2016. They haven’t a clue how to beat him in 2020. They don’t much like him. And I think that in the- if there is a Senate trial, we’ll be able to- that’ll be more familiar to most Americans. This process is unfamiliar to them, where the president–

BRENNAN: Meaning there will be witnesses?

CONWAY: — can’t even have- there’ll be witnesses. The president couldn’t even have his own attorneys in there. And that’s- that’s not very fair to the, quote, defendant. But I think defense will go on offense if there is a Senate trial and they’ll be- we’ll be able to call witnesses, we’ll be able to challenge their witnesses, produce other evidence. And those witnesses may include the whistleblower, and I would say his attorney, because his attorney, Mark Zaid, had an email or a text–

BRENNAN: Right.

CONWAY: — 10 days after inauguration saying the coup begins now, impeachment.

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