California Congressman Eric Swalwell couldn’t have seen this coming.
The vocal opponent of President Donald Trump — who mounted his own short-lived bid for the Democratic 2020 nomination — took to the normally Democrat-friendly confines of CNN on Tuesday and got some unexpectedly tough questions from the host of “The Lead with Jake Tapper.”
The eponymous Tapper focused specifically on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s tactic of refusing to send articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump on to the Senate for trial in hopes of pressuring Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to bow to Democrats’ terms.
“With all due respect, this leverage gambit does not seem to have worked,” Tapper said.
By CNN standards for Democrats, it was a grilling. And Swalwell came across as simply clueless.
Check it out here:
What’s telling here is that Swalwell, who’s not usually short on things to say, didn’t handle Tapper’s questions well at all — like he wasn’t expecting to face real questions during a CNN appearance.
At the top of the interview, Tapper asked how Democrats expected to force McConnell’s hand after the majority leader’s announcement Tuesday that he had the votes to proceed with a Senate impeachment trial — on Republican terms.
Swalwell tried to massage the answer by bringing up the announcement Monday by former National Security Advisor John Bolton that he would testify in the Senate if he were subpoenaed.
“Well, [McConnell] should just do the right thing,” Swalwell said.
“You know, having the votes is one thing, but if you have a key witness that the House was not able to obtain who is now saying he’s willing to come forward, the right thing seems to be, well, let’s hear from this witness.”
So McConnell, the leader of the Senate Republicans and a solid supporter of the president, should just “do the right thing” — as Democrats define it?
It’s hard to say which is worse, that Swalwell could actually utter such nonsense on the air or that he apparently expected any journalist — even a CNN journalist — would buy it.
To his credit, Tapper wasn’t buying it at all. He asked Swalwell if House Democrats would be willing to subpoena Bolton now — something Pelosi’s troupe couldn’t find time for while ramming the paper-thin articles of impeachment through the House in December.
Swalwell tried to punt the answer to Pelosi and House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff.
“I personally think, Jake, that we put forward enough evidence to warrant removal, but if senators have questions about any gaps in the evidence because the president told witnesses to not come forward, well, now you have a witness who is willing to come forward,” he said.
It was getting worse for Swalwell, and Tapper didn’t let up.
Near the end of the interview, he asked why the Senate should even think about calling witnesses when House Democrats were in too much of a rush to use the courts to force testimony the White House opposed.
Swalwell’s answer, which bordered on incoherence, seemed to be that the presence of Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts presiding over the Senate trial would make any court fights unnecessary.
Tapper wasn’t buying that either.
“I guess I wonder just like, ‘What world do you guys live in?’ if you think that Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts is gonna get his robe dirty with the political tenor of this, or Mitch McConnell is gonna feel in any way pressured to do the trial the way House Democrats want to do it, when this is a guy that wouldn’t even have a hearing for Merrick Garland,” he said.
“I understand you live in a world where you think things should be in a certain way but that’s not the world that I live in.”
It was a rare moment of clarity for CNN viewers — one that punctured the liberal bubble Democrats have surrounded themselves with.
They think they live in a world where the country wants Trump ousted (it doesn’t), a world where Pelosi can dictate how the Senate should conduct its business (she can’t), and where a vocal liberal blowhard like Swalwell can spout nonsense on CNN and be taken seriously.
On Tuesday, unfortunately, they had good reason to believe that last one, anyway.
Until Eric Swalwell got a grilling he couldn’t have seen coming.
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