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Week In Politics: Impeachment, Aftermath Of U.S. Drone Strike


Now it's time for the week in politics. And we're joined this Friday by nationally syndicated columnist Connie Schultz.

Welcome back.


SHAPIRO: And Susan Crabtree of Real Clear Politics, good to have you here.

SUSAN CRABTREE: Wonderful to be here.

SHAPIRO: I want to start by asking you about the media response to administration claims of intelligence indicating that Soleimani was preparing an imminent attack. There's been a lot of pushback. Do you both think the media has shown the right amount of skepticism? Susan, let's start with you.

CRABTREE: Well, I think they're doing their jobs. This is something that is - they asserted - Trump and Pompeo have repeatedly asserted that there was an imminent attack. But then in an interview with Laura Ingraham, Pompeo sort of dialed that back a little bit, and he said, we don't know precisely when and we don't know precisely where, but it was real.

So when they came out - he and Steven Mnuchin - came out and announced the sanctions earlier today, of course they were going to get a constant barrage of questions about this, and it was appropriate. He still insisted that we had specific information on an intimate threat, and those threats from him include attacks on U.S. embassies - period, full stop.

SHAPIRO: Connie, do you think what we're seeing from the media is reflecting lessons learned from the run up to the Iraq War? And are those appropriate lessons, or is this an overcorrection?

SCHULTZ: I don't think it's possible to overcorrect from the lead up to the Iraq War. I just filed a piece with The Nation about this. I remember those days well, and I remember the claim of - you know, weapons of mass destruction. That was an outright lie. Colin Powell has since expressed regret for having said that, and many journalists expressed regret for having reported it as fact. My concern is that we remain steadfast.

We are already seeing accusations of us not being patriotic if we're going to pursue this line of questioning. And we must resist that at all costs because I think that patriotism means demanding accountability from the government that represents the American people. And imminent means about to happen - that is the definition of it. And Pompeo was defying that. He's either ignoring it or is - doesn't really understand the definition of it. But when he says, we don't know precisely where, we don't know precisely when, then it was not imminent.

SHAPIRO: Well, let me ask you both about the congressional reaction. And here I need to disclose that, Connie, you are married to Ohio Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown. We've seen some conservative members of Congress express skepticism about the way the White House has used its war powers. Connie, do you think this has cost the president in his own party?

SCHULTZ: You know, I think we have to be careful. We've seen two - right? - to my knowledge. And one of them was Senator Lee, who was really outspoken about how...

SHAPIRO: The other, Rand Paul.

SCHULTZ: Yes. Oh, that's right. They are three, then, because there's - in the Congress - or in the House, there was one as well. You're starting to see some breaks. I don't know how big it is. I don't know how large it's going to be. We're hearing these reports now of Yemen, that there was another attempt on another Iranian leader that we hadn't even heard about until The Washington Post broke the story.

SHAPIRO: That was reportedly unsuccessful.

SCHULTZ: Yes, exactly, which is probably why we didn't hear about it. But that certainly sounds different from imminent threat. So I don't know how many problems - you're right. I'm married to a Democratic senator. We have a lot in common, which is why we married in the first place.

SHAPIRO: (Laughter).

SCHULTZ: So our ideology is not in question here. I'm not speaking as a partisan when I say the American people has a right to question all of this. And I would like to see more Republicans step up, like Senator Lee did in particular, and say, you can't tell us not to question things, privately or in public. That's not how this government is supposed to work.

SHAPIRO: Susan, what's your take on the Republican reaction to this?

CRABTREE: Well, I think you had the traditional, expected anti-interventionists, like Rand Paul, like Mike Lee, coming forward. But I don't think that reflects anywhere near the Republican sentiment about this. I think the Republican sentiment in both the House and Senate was wildly supportive of the president and not questioning as much the timing and the reaction of the Iranians and whether this will make us safer in the long road or not. I think that's the ultimate question here.

SHAPIRO: So mostly Republicans are falling into line behind the president.

CRABTREE: Absolutely, they are. And, you know, I believe that the War Powers Act, if you want to take a look at it, there's a lot of sort of questioning about what is the president's right and - as commander in chief, whether he...

SHAPIRO: And these questions come up a lot.


SHAPIRO: And it seems that whichever party is out of power is in favor of limiting the executive authority and whichever party has the White House is...

CRABTREE: That's exactly right.


CRABTREE: And it's whether - it's kind of what you see it - you know, what is the definition of an act of war? Is this an act of war to take out an Iranian official, even if he is considered a terrorist by the West?

SCHULTZ: But, you know, can I just...


SCHULTZ: I think we have to remember something here. The overarch - the overriding narrative here is that we've got a president who lies all the time, and we keep stepping around that. But when you have a president who lies all the time, credibility is an ongoing issue here. Accountability becomes the looming issue here. And while he said one thing in the White House, the very next day, he was in Toledo, Ohio, and he was braying repeatedly about this killing. And he was boasting about how inept the Democrats are and calling them - and going after the media and calling us corrupt and crooked.

SHAPIRO: Just - in our final minute, I do want to ask one question about impeachment, which is that Speaker Nancy Pelosi says she is going to send the articles of impeachment to the Senate and name impeachment managers. Do you think Mitch McConnell, the majority leader in the Senate, outmaneuvered Pelosi here, just briefly?

CRABTREE: I absolutely think he did. He - she feels like she had a rhetorical win because she got the public, and there was a lot of press reports about the fact that this was not fair and that basically McConnell was pushing back and being - and stonewalling her on witnesses and, basically, documents.

SHAPIRO: And Connie, do you agree with that?

SCHULTZ: Well, we did get new documents in the interim here. And we have Mitch McConnell from the very beginning saying that he wanted a speedy acquittal. So we'll let the American public decide.

SHAPIRO: That's nationally syndicated columnist Connie Schultz and Susan Crabtree of Real Clear Politics.

Thank you both, and have a great weekend.

SCHULTZ: Thank you. You, too, Ari.

CRABTREE: Thanks for having me, Ari.


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