Fox News Sunday anchor Chris Wallace repeatedly confronted House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) on Sunday over the top Republican’s characterization of last week’s impeachment testimony, accusing the congressman of “very badly” misrepresenting the witnesses’ positions.
Wallace pressed the Trump-boosting Louisiana lawmaker on the upcoming testimony of U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sonldand, asking Scalise if it was possible Sondland could “blow a hole in the president’s defense” if he testifies that the president told him Ukraine aid was being held up unless the Ukrainian president publicly announced an investigation into the Bidens.
“Well, the president’s defense is that those things didn't happen,” Scalise responded. “And it’s not just the president's word. President Zelensky himself said that the aid wasn’t conditioned and there was no pressure.”
“The real bottom line is he got the money,” the GOP representative added, reiterating a key party talking point. “Ukraine got the money.”
Wallace, however, pointed out that a dozen people listened in on the now-infamous July 25 call between Trump and Zelensky, noting that many of them became immediately upset that Trump pressed Zelensky on investigating a Ukrainian gas firm that Vice President’s Joe Biden’s son worked for.
“Those were [House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam] Schiff's witnesses,” Scalise insisted.
“No, sir, they are career foreign service officers and these are people who worked in the Trump administration,” Wallace retorted, adding that an aide to Vice President Mike Pence recently testified that Trump’s call was “inappropriate.”
“You had Tim Morrison, who was on the NSC staff, who said that he—alarm bells immediately went off for him,” the Fox News host continued. “Alexander Vindman immediately went to see—these are all people, you say they are Schiff's witnesses—they all were working in the Trump administration.”
Scalise attempted to pivot to the whistleblower at the heart of the impeachment inquiry, claiming the Intelligence Community inspector general said the whistleblower had political motivations. Wallace, meanwhile, snapped back: “We are not talking about the whistleblower!”
After saying that he didn’t want to answer “hypothetical” questions about Sondland’s upcoming testimony, Scalise then asserted last week’s impeachment witnesses—senior State Department official George Kent, top Ukraine envoy Bill Taylor, and former U.S. Amb. to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch—essentially said Trump did nothing wrong.
“All three of them were asked, did you see any impeachable offenses” he declared. “Did you see any bribery? Any of that? Not one of those things were mentioned. Not one person said they saw a crime committed.”
“With all due respect—with all due respect, that very badly mischaracterizes what they said,” Wallace pushed back. “They were asked, William Taylor, for instance, the acting ambassador to Ukraine, was asked whether or not these were impeachable offenses. He said I’m there as a fact witness. I’m not there to pass judgment, but he made it clear what he thought about what the president was doing.”
Wallace would then go on to play a clip of Taylor’s testimony, further noting that Taylor said that withholding aid to Ukraine to help Trump’s presidential campaign was “crazy.”
This wasn’t the only time that Wallace left Scalise stumbling in Sunday morning’s interview. When the Louisiana congressman dismissed concerns about the July phone call by brushing off “third-hand” accounts while pointing to the Ukrainian foreign minister’s claim there was no link between aid and investigations, Wallace retorted that the foreign minister “was not on the call either.”