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Report: Trump assembles impeachment defense strategy team
The White House is beginning to put a mini-impeachment task force together, the Washington Examiner reported.
President Donald Trump is bringing on board former Treasury Department official Tony Sayegh and former Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi to help tighten up his defense strategy and messaging operation. Sayegh will be the impeachment “czar” behind the strategy, while Bondi will serve as the spokeswoman.
“Expect to see Pam on TV a lot,” an administration official told the Washington Examiner on Wednesday. “Tony will be managing a lot of the strategy.”
Trump forms impeachment defense team
In his idiosyncratic way, Trump has led an unfocused, yet energetic pushback against the impeachment, training his sights mainly on Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) and the still-hidden whistleblower. Republicans are sticking with him, attacking the impeachment as a sham effort to undo the 2016 election.
But some Republican lawmakers with more conventional leanings have complained about a lack of coordinated messaging, and conflict inside the White House between Mick Mulvaney (Trump’s chief of staff) and White House counsel Pat Cipollone has reportedly undermined solidarity. Mulvaney has been in the dog house since blurting out that Trump did arrange a quid pro quo with Ukraine at a press conference.
Sayegh and Bondi will now join the White House as temporary employees as the Democrats’ impeachment hearings finally get underway. But Trump is still keeping things minimalistic for now, foregoing a “war room” and in his Trumpian way, hiring one or two trusted advisers to help him manage things instead.
Trump is said to have feared that building a “war room” will make him look weak, opting instead to mount a brutal barrage on impeachment ringleader Schiff. A clear Republican counter-narrative has emerged, with themes focusing on Schiff’s dishonesty and the lack of a quid pro quo, but some Republicans have complained that things could be much tighter — and many are indeed relieved that Trump is taking a more professional approach, the Examiner reported.
Hearing gives cause for relief
Bondi, a former attorney general from Florida, will take Team Trump’s message to the lion’s den that is the liberal media, leaning into her legal experience to attack the Democrats’ arguments. Both Sayegh and Bondi will report to Stephanie Grisham, Trump’s press secretary.
The theme that Team Trump has “scrambled” to respond to the impeachment has echoed through the media over the past several weeks, playing into the story that Trump is in danger and cannot mount a defense of an indefensible phone call. But Republicans have responded vigorously to the threat, with top allies like Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) threatening to dismiss the impeachment outright if the “whistleblower” who started it all doesn’t appear, according to The Hill.
The first impeachment hearing Wednesday gave Republicans some occasion to cheer, with many opining that the testimony did not show clear, let alone sensational, evidence of wrongdoing by Trump. Rather, the witnesses merely painted a picture of a dry policy dispute between Trump and some of his subordinates over military assistance to Ukraine, it was said.
Democrats have been marching lock-step in their messaging against Trump, claiming that the president “undermined national security,” or else hijacked foreign policy for his “personal advantage.” Schiff and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) seem to have settled this week on the charge that Trump “bribed” Ukraine, in an apparent effort to sharpen their story.
It looks like impeachment is already showing signs of faltering, though — and at any rate, a conviction in the Senate appears extremely unlikely.
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