I take his point here but it’s weird of him to downplay the seriousness of a committee that just gave Papa Trump the biggest political win of his presidency on Russiagate. POTUS even went into rare all-caps mode on Twitter to trumpet the news. Yet here’s Junior this morning on Fox sniffing that his takeaway after testifying before Devin Nunes’s House Intel Committee is that the members there were just “looking for a soundbite,” quite in contrast to the sober and serious-minded interrogators of the Senate Intel Committee. Huh?
But in next breath, Don Jr slams House probe: "At Senate Intel I was impressed. You walk out after almost 10 hours of interviewing, you didn't know who was on whose side. Those guys actually seemed like they were trying to get to facts. House intel was looking for sound bite." pic.twitter.com/6k514RVNd3
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) March 13, 2018
What he means is that *Democrats* on the House Committee (notably Adam Schiff) were only looking for soundbites and cherry-picked material to leak. He’s not questioning the conclusion of the Republican majority that there was no collusion between the campaign and Russia, needless to say. But that’s still a foolish bit of spin: What happens now if the Senate Committee’s findings are more critical of Trump than the House’s were? What if Senate Dems on the Committee, led by Mark Warner, end up claiming that there was collusion? Junior’s building up the political power of an adversary whose intentions remain unclear just to score an easy point on an adversary in Schiff whom no one on his side takes seriously to begin with. Short-sighted.
I was and am skeptical that there was any collusion between Trump himself and Russia, but you don’t need to be a collusion true believer to think that the House Committee’s verdict shouldn’t be taken very seriously. C’mon:
Several witnesses thought to be central to the investigation never came before the panel, including Mr. Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort; Mr. Manafort’s deputy, Rick Gates; Mr. Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn; and Mr. Trump’s former campaign foreign policy adviser, George Papadopoulos, all of whom are under indictment by the special counsel.
Others, including George Nader, an adviser to the United Arab Emirates with links to current and former Trump aides, only recently came to the committee’s attention.
The House Intel Committee cleared Trump on the very day that rumors were swirling that Papadopoulos told Mueller’s office that Trump himself encouraged him to try to arrange a pre-election meeting with Putin. In other words, the Committee interviewed all the important players except for, ah, the most important ones, and even some of the big names who did appear before them weren’t pressed too hard when they decided not to answer certain questions. If a Democrat-led committee had cleared a Democratic president with parallel investigations still ongoing elsewhere and with the record of evidence before them obviously incomplete, what would we assume?
Here’s GOP Rep. Tom Rooney, a member of the House Intel Committee, echoing the point Trump Jr made this morning — the Committee has become hopelessly polarized along partisan lines and has “lost all credibility,” contra its Senate counterpart, he says. Junior was more focused on the Democratic side of that equation but Rooney’s retiring from Congress this year and can be a bit more neutral.
"We've gone completely off the rails, and now we're just basically a political forum for people to leak information to drive the day's news. … We've lost all credibility" – Rep. Tom Rooney on the Republican decision to end the House Russia investigation https://t.co/6G7SgZbcoT pic.twitter.com/WXWt0Iaquv
— CNN (@CNN) March 13, 2018