A blockbuster New York Times report released Tuesday revealed that President Donald Trump had asked former acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker if he had the authority to intervene in a Manhattan investigation into his former fixer Michael Cohen. According to the Times, Whitaker knew that he didn’t have the authority to intervene and Trump wasn’t pleased. Previously Whitaker had told associates that his role in the Department of Justice was to “jump on a grenade” for the President.
On CNN Tuesday, panelists discussed the ramifications of Whitaker’s grenade comment.
“Getting a guy in a position to be able to jump on a grenade is exactly what he would have wanted,” legal analyst Paul Callen observed. “I mean he was pounding Jeff Sessions since the day Sessions recused himself.”
Callen added that criminal intent would still have to be proven.
“Having someone in a position to jump on a grenade to protect you still doesn’t make it criminality. You have to have a specific intent to obstruct a criminal investigation,” he said, adding that proof of criminal intent could still come out. ”
Dem lawmaker demolishes GOP defense that Trump still did more for Ukraine than Obama
During the impeachment testimony of State Department officials Laura Cooper and David Hale, Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) used his time to dismantle a growing defense of President Donald Trump's apparent use of Ukrainian foreign aid for an extortion scheme: that Obama didn't give Ukraine aid either, so Trump didn't even have to.
"Now as to the justification," said Swalwell. "The justification is that the Obama administration only provided blankets, so the Ukrainians should be grateful, even after being shaken down, that the Trump administration provided more, but the truth, Ms. Cooper, is that under the Obama administration and the European Reassurance Initiative, $175 million were provided from U.S. taxpayer dollars to the Ukrainians, is that right?"
Trumper Scott Jennings slams Devin Nunes for ‘being caught totally flat-footed’
It's clear the morning testimony didn't go as well as Republicans had wanted. The concern was evident on the face of House Minority Leader Devin Nunes (R-CA), who exchanged glances with the GOP counsel.
Republican Scott Jennings is quick to defend the White House and the GOP, but Wednesday even he was forced to concede his party wasn't prepared for what EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland testified.
CNN host John King noted that the Republican counsel brought up Rudy Giuliani and his business relationships in Ukraine, outside of his work for President Donald Trump.
Trump is desperately cherry-picking portions of Sondland’s testimony to ignore the bombshells: CNN correspondent
On Wednesday's edition of CNN's "The Situation Room," White House correspondent Kaitlan Collins noted how President Donald Trump is desperately trying to focus on the narrow portions of E.U. Ambassador Gordon Sondland's testimony that put him in a good light — and ignoring the trove of damning new information against him.
"[Sondland] makes it clear, absolutely, totally discarding what the president and his allies are saying for weeks," said anchor Wolf Blitzer.
"What the White House [is] relying on, and what the president was reading from earlier, was the conversation where he had called the president to ask if there was a quid pro quo, and he said the president got angry and said there was not one and that he didn't want anything from Ukraine," said Collins. "What they are ignoring is what he started his testimony with today, that yes, in relation to the aid to the White House — to the White House call and the White House meeting, there was a quid pro quo. And we should note there has still been no White House meeting for the Ukrainian leader."