Reps. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., and Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, led the opposition in the House to Democrats’ impeachment push. They join today’s Daily Signal Podcast to reflect on what it was like to be in the middle of that fight, and what they’ve learned about their constituents’ perspectives on it.
We also cover these stories:
- A tornado touches down in Tennessee, killing at least 22.
- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu defeats his chief opponent, Benny Gantz of the Blue and White Party, in a parliamentary election but doesn’t secure enough votes to form a governing coalition.
- Chris Matthews, longtime host of MSNBC’s “Hardball,” announces his retirement from the show over allegations of sexual harassment.
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Rachel del Guidice: We are joined today on The Daily Signal Podcast by Congressman Mark Meadows of North Carolina. Congressman Meadows, thank you so much for being with us today.
Mark Meadows: It’s great to be with you here at CPAC. A lot of energy here in the auditorium and certainly great to be with the listeners here on your podcast.
Del Guidice: Well, thanks for being with us. To start off, you led a lot with the whole impeachment push in the House. What was that like?
Meadows: Yeah, so, I want to be clear, I led against the impeachment push. But yes, I think the listeners would know exactly where we are on that. [Rep.] Adam Schiff pushing impeachment. [Rep.] Jim Jordan and I pushed back …
We actually, from start to finish, were part of the depositions where we were down in the basement where they were leaking out particular selected quotes to spin a narrative against the president. Yet we found that the truth was on our side.
So what we could do is continue to get that out. We had to take unconventional ways through podcasts, through Twitter, through Facebook to make sure that the truth was getting there because Adam Schiff and his team had the mainstream media covering it each and every day. I mean, he could burp and they would say it was newsworthy.
Yet we found that the American people were hungry for what the real side of the story was. And that is that there’s a concerted effort here in Washington, D.C., to undermine the legitimacy of this president and try to make sure that he is not effective. In spite of that, he’s accomplishing unbelievable things.
Del Guidice: You mentioned Adam Schiff and his agenda to impeach the president, how the media was very just wanting to hear everything he had to say and would give him a megaphone a lot of times. What was your perspective on the procedure of everything?
A lot of times, at least in the very beginning, they were departing from procedure when it came to impeachment. Can you talk about that?
Meadows: Yeah, they departed from procedures early on, but they continued to depart from procedures each and every time that we got into something new.
So at first they were trying to make sure that it was in a classified setting, even though nothing we talked about was classified. Then they would selectively leak it out. They would leak out their scenarios and their narrative.
Then from there we would even have procedures which would allow the minority to call witnesses. They wouldn’t let us call witnesses, and for the vast majority, all but about seven days.
They said that the White House could not have counsel, they could not call witnesses, and ultimately, at the very end, they said, “Yes, you can have your attorneys,” but then they impeached him the very next day.
So … this whole idea that it was a fair process was not only inaccurate but they know it was false and inaccurate.
Del Guidice: You were working nonstop to represent the president, to speak on his behalf, to speak on what you knew to be true. There was a lot going on during that time, but what was, if you could pick one thing, [the] most frustrating about what happened? What would that have been?
Meadows: I think the thing that was most frustrating is that we knew what was being shared in the private settings. We knew exactly what other witnesses had said and yet the Democrats intentionally didn’t share that. The media, when we would try to share the other side of it, largely ignored it.
So that was a real frustrating aspect of trying to form the debate on what was truth and what wasn’t.
For a lot of people, they thought that Adam Schiff’s parody was actually the way that the phone call went. And yet the mainstream media did call him out on that. I think you’ve got four Pinocchios for his rendition of the Ukrainian call, but they seem to forget that over and over again.
They would quote a phone call in different contexts without the actual words. In fact, they would say your listeners heard that they were all about digging up dirt. Well, that never appeared in any transcript. That actually came, I think, originally from a CNN commentator, and yet it became what everybody talked about.
So I think the frustrating thing is that a lie gets repeated so many times before it actually comes head-to-head with the truth. When it does, it doesn’t necessarily undermine all the lies that were told previously.
Del Guidice: So did people read the transcripts? I know President [Donald] Trump would ask repeatedly for people to read the transcripts.
Meadows: You know, only the most intentional of people read the transcripts. I think there [were] some of our members of Congress that didn’t even read them. …
If you read the transcripts and put yourself in that situation, you could see that not only was there nothing wrong in it, but there certainly wasn’t anything that even came close to an impeachable offense. That was on the backside of [special counsel Robert] Mueller’s investigation imploding. So they had to find something.
… They will try to impeach him again. It’s our critical responsibility to make sure that [House Speaker] Nancy Pelosi doesn’t have the gavel so that doesn’t happen.
Del Guidice: Can you talk a little bit more about that? Sen. [Ted] Cruz has mentioned this in a couple of different ways, when you spoke at The Heritage Foundation and even on different podcasts, how impeachment is being used now as political weaponization of the presidency.
Meadows: Well, it has been weaponized. I think they’ve gotten to the point where impeachment now becomes the tool to get people to pay attention to one issue. But it’s also to gen up a certain political class.
I think we ought to change the rules where it has to be bipartisan, at least have a small threshold for those of the party of the president to actually join in in this case, or it could be reversed if we had a Democrat in the White House.
But where you actually have bipartisan support for impeachment, this is what our Founding Fathers didn’t want to happen because they knew that, ultimately, given the desires of men and women to get a political advantage, they will use every legislative tool that they have in their toolbox to do that.
Sadly, impeachment really takes away the vote from millions of Americans, and it should only be as a very last resort measure.
Del Guidice: During the impeachment portion, what were you hearing from constituents back in North Carolina?
Meadows: Most of the constituents back in North Carolina either supported defending the president—I come from a conservative district—or it didn’t even register on their top 10 list.
They wanted to make sure we’re about roads and bridges and lowering prescription drug prices and taking care of making sure that the economy continues to grow. So it was not even on their top 10 list, but, certainly, it was not all unified.
I did get a few people that would call my office. Actually, I got a lot of people from all over the country calling my office to express their opinion.
But when you found the people that definitely hated the president, didn’t vote for the president, wanted him gone, and you found those who definitely supported the president and wanted him to stay, there was a small group in the middle. Most of those didn’t see impeachment as the appropriate tool or even [justifiable].
Del Guidice: Despite the whole impeachment push, President Trump has been very busy. There’s been a lot that’s happened in the past four years. What would you say are some of the biggest accomplishments despite that?
Meadows: Doing away with regulations, reducing taxes, moving the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
When you look at what he’s done—actually, even on prescription drug prices, starting to lower prescription drug prices, getting rid of the individual mandate, unemployment at historic lows, the economy growing at a rate that has pushed wages up. Everything that he campaigned on. He’s in the process of building the wall. We’re going to have several hundred miles of wall that will be built by the time he’s actually voted in again.
So if there’s a to-do list left, I think that to-do list [says to] still work on roads and bridges—we still don’t have a bill from our Democratic colleagues—and continue to work on prescription drug prices and health care costs to get those down. But he’s had amazing accomplishments.
Del Guidice: You mentioned the economy, and there was a poll that recently came out where it says Americans are historically optimistic about their economic futures. Can you talk a little bit about how?
Meadows: Well, … we’re living it. We’ve got all these people here watching. Is the economy doing well? Yeah. I don’t know if you can hear that on the podcast, the economy is doing well.
So, as we look at that, one of the big things is we’re experiencing it. Once you start to experience something and you realize that the government is not standing in the way of a good economy, it’s actually encouraging it.
And you know what? Give the American people their ability to create wealth. If the government gets out of the way, they can create it much faster than the government ever thought about creating it. That’s why there’s an optimism really for the first time in the last decade where you think that your kids and grandkids will be better off than you are.
Del Guidice: Final question, Congress is finally not tied up with impeachment anymore. What should you all be working on?
Meadows: I’m working on a couple of things, working on a couple of measures to lower prescription drug prices primarily.
One thing that I think that we’ll be able to announce pretty soon is some real initiatives on insulin to make sure that insulin is very affordable, but also in those drugs that have … out-of-pocket expenses [that have] gotten so great.
We’ve got great innovation, great research and development. How do we make sure that that continues and yet make sure that it’s affordable? So we’re working on that very closely.
Then the last thing is continue the deregulation. When the president came in, we gave him 312 regulations that we wanted to see him do away with. A lot of the work from Heritage and other places actually helps go into that document.
They are 70% of the way along on ripping that. They’ve actually gone way beyond 312 with thousands of regulations that had been rolled back. The economy picks up the minute you do that. You take the burden off of the American worker and they always prosper.
Del Guidice: Congressman Meadows, thank you so much for joining us.
Meadows: No, thank you. It was great to be with you.
Rachel del Guidice: We’re joined today on The Daily Signal Podcast by Congressman Jim Jordan of Ohio. Congressman Jordan, thank you so much for stopping by.
Jim Jordan: You bet. Good to be with you.
Del Guidice: Thanks for being here. Impeachments over, but you’re one of the—
Jordan: Thank the good Lord for that, huh?
Del Guidice: It’s finally over. It was quite the couple of months that you had, but you were one of the leading voices of opposition in the impeachment push, and I want to just talk to you a little bit about what that was like.
Now that you can … look back from the time … when the articles [of impeachment] were introduced to when the Senate acquitted President [Donald] Trump, you were in the midst of it that whole time, what was that like?
Jordan: It was intense, maybe, [of] my time in public office, [the] most intense probably four and a half months ever, but also we felt good.
We felt confident throughout because the facts were on our side. We knew what the Democrats were doing was wrong. We said this, we said it so many times, we got tired of saying it.
The four facts will never change, have never changed, will never, ever, ever change, four fundamental facts.
We had the call transcript, which by the way, the Democrats never thought the president would release the transcript. When he did, it showed fine call, nothing wrong with that call. We had the transcript, which showed no quid pro quo.
We had the two guys on the call, President Trump, [Ukrainian] President [Volodymyr] Zelenskyy, who repeatedly said it was fine, it was a good call.
Zelenskyy talks about we’re going to drain the swamp in our country like you’re doing here. It was a call where both guys said there was no linkage to investigation and release of the dollars. There was no pressure, no pushing.
We know the third fact, that the Ukrainians didn’t even know the aid was held at the time of the call.
And the fourth and most important fact, the Ukrainians never did an investigation, never promised to do an investigation, never announced they were going to do an investigation in order to get the aid released.
[Rep.] Adam Schiff could have all the presumptions, assumptions and hearsay he wanted, but he can never change the fundamental facts, which showed that the president did nothing wrong. We felt confident. We just kept pressing that throughout the entire four and a half month process, and it turned out pretty good.
Del Guidice: You mentioned how the Democrats never thought President Trump would release the transcript. Why was that? Why were they so confident?
Jordan: I don’t know, because you normally don’t do that. It’s not a good practice to get into to releasing transcripts when you’re having private conversations with foreign heads of state. But he did and he had to because what they were trying to do to him.
This is the other important thing. We need to understand, the Democrats are never going to stop.
We know they’re never going to stop because they started trying to impeach this president before he was ever elected.
Impeachment didn’t start in July of 2019, it started in July of 2016, when they opened the Trump-Russia investigation, spied on four American citizens associated with the presidential campaign, went to a secret court to further spy on the Trump campaign.
When they went to the secret court, they used the dossier to get the warrant on Carter Page and spy on the Trump campaign.
They didn’t tell the court that the guy who wrote that document, the dossier, was desperate to stop Trump. They didn’t tell the court that the guy who wrote the document, Christopher Steele, was getting paid by the Clinton campaign. Those are pretty important facts. They lied to that FISA court [Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court] 17 times, so they’re never going to stop attacking this president.
We just need to understand that. We understood it throughout this impeachment process. We’ve talked about the facts, and it was a great result. The president’s going to, I think, win big this November, just to show them.
Del Guidice: Talking about procedure for a second, did Democrats follow proper procedure?
Jordan: No. I remember giving this speech in one of the hearings. When you don’t have the facts, you have to have a rigged procedure. You can’t give a fair process to the president.
We had Adam Schiff, who controlled everything, did all the depositions in the bunker of the basement of the Capitol. We weren’t allowed to call any witnesses. The president or his attorneys weren’t allowed to be there. The president’s attorneys weren’t allowed to be there to cross-examine any of the witnesses. It was a rigged process from the start.
They set the rules, then changed the rules, then didn’t follow the rules they changed. But they had to try to do all that because they didn’t have any facts on their side. It was a totally unfair process. Again, the American people saw through it.
What I think is interesting [is] Sept. 24, when [House Speaker] Nancy Pelosi announces that she’s going to start this impeachment investigation, she never thought on that day that, first, the president would release the transcript the next day.
She never thought that every single Republican in the House would not vote for the articles, and that we’d get one Democrat to vote with us on both articles, a second Democrat to vote with us on one article, a third Democrat to not vote at all, and a fourth Democrat to vote with us and switch parties.
The conventional wisdom was, “Oh, some Republicans are going to vote for articles of impeachment.” Didn’t happen because, again, I think we were able to show the facts were all on the president’s side.
Del Guidice: And she wasn’t expecting that because she was just going off of, “This is what I’m going to do for my party,” and it was more about politics than actual policy.
Jordan: Totally about that. She thought the mainstream press, who was always willing to help the Democrats, she thought the momentum would come in their direction, they would pick up some Republican votes, when in fact, it went just the opposite.
Del Guidice: Looking at everything that happened, what a crazy couple of months it was for you. If you were to look back, what was the most frustrating thing about the process, about the whole impeachment procedure for you in person? When you look back, what was most frustrating about all of that?
Jordan: What I find just astonishing is the individual who started it all never had to testify, the whistleblower.
What I find astonishing is Adam Schiff said, in an open hearing, “I don’t know who the whistleblower is.” And I remember, in that hearing, I said, “There’s not a person on the planet who believes that.”
Out of 435 members of House, [hundreds of] members of the Senate, 535, Adam Schiff is the only one who knows for sure who the whistleblower is. For him to say in a public area [that] he doesn’t know—Adam Schiff’s staff met with the whistleblower.
Del Guidice: They came to his office. I remember reading multiple reports. There were reports that said, “Before, we met with him, this is the situation,” and then a couple days later he’s like, “We don’t know who that is.”
Jim Jordan: I find that just unbelievable. I think most Americans who followed this find it ridiculous that Adam Schiff asserts that he doesn’t know who the whistleblower is.
The other thing I found interesting is, when Adam Schiff prevented one of the witnesses, Lt. Col. [Alexander] Vindman, from telling us the names or describing the people, he wasn’t even allowed to do that in the deposition, the people he talked to about the phone call.
Lt. Col. Vindman heard the phone call and he spoke with five people. He spoke with the two lawyers at the NSC [National Security Council], Mr. [Michael] Ellis, Mr. [John] Eisenberg. He spoke to his brother at the NSC. And he also spoke to Secretary [George] Kent.
But there was a fifth person he spoke to, “but we can’t tell you who that is.” Because that was the whistleblower. It doesn’t take a genius to figure this stuff out.
But Adam Schiff wouldn’t even let us describe where that person works or anything like that. “No, you’re trying to uncover the whistleblower.” No, we’re not. We’re trying to figure out the case and what Mr. Vindman did and who he spoke to.
That was the frustrating part, but it just showed the lengths that they will go to get at this president, which is just so sad and so frustrating, but that’s who they are and that’s what they’re going to continue to do.
Del Guidice: During impeachment, something that Sen. Ted Cruz has talked a lot about was how Democrats are using impeachment to weaponize the presidency. Do you think that’s the case? And will these become more of a common occurrence?
Jordan: I hope not, but it was the case. Think about it. You talk about weaponizing government. Ten years ago, it was the IRS targeting conservatives. More recently is what the FBI did when they launched the Trump-Russia investigation in 2016, and most recently, it’s the weaponizing of the impeachment power of Congress.
Understand what Adam Schiff did at the end of that investigation, he released the private phone records of the president’s personal attorney, he released the private phone records of a member of the press, and he released the private phone records of a Republican member of Congress. That is scary, but that is what Adam Schiff did—the person that Nancy Pelosi put in charge of this entire investigation.
It is dangerous where they want to take the country. It’s dangerous what we’ve seen federal agencies do and members of Congress do in their quest to go after conservatives, in their quest to go after President Trump. I hope it stops. …
Del Guidice: Recently, I think it was about two weeks ago, House Democrats … said they were pondering the idea of impeaching Trump again. How would this go, if this were to actually happen?
Jordan: I don’t think it happens this year. … I wouldn’t put anything past these Democrats, but I don’t think they’re going to do it this year. … But I do assume that they’ll try it in President Trump’s second term. It’s just who they are. They will go to whatever length it takes to try and get this president.
The amazing thing is, in spite of all the opposition that he’s gotten from every single Democrat in this town, from all the mainstream press, this president has done what he said he was going to do and delivered for the country, and is truly focused on making America great again and getting that done.
I think that’s, again, why he’s going to win so big in November. They’re not going to impeach this year, but they’ll do it in ’20, ’21, ’22, again, when it’s President Trump’s second term.
Now, if we win back to the House, there won’t be an impeachment because we’ll be in control, and let’s hope that’s the case.
Del Guidice: You mentioned the legacy of President Trump and what he’s been able to accomplish in the past four years. Before we finish up a few questions on impeachment. What are a few points of [that] legacy that you want to highlight most? [What] do you think [has] been most successful?
Jordan: In the president’s first three years, you think about this, taxes cut, regulations reduced, economy growing at an unbelievable rate, lowest unemployment in 50 years, wages up, [Justices Neil] Gorsuch and [Brett] Kavanaugh on the court, out of the Iran deal, embassy in Jerusalem, hostages home from North Korea, new NAFTA agreement, and the first president to appear in person at the March for Life and speak about the sanctity of human life. That is amazing.
With everyone against him in this town, all the press, all the Democrats against him, he did all that.
The one that really stands out to me is the embassy in Jerusalem because for as long as I can remember, every presidential candidate, Republican and Democrat Party, when they run for office, they say, “You elect me, I’m going to put the embassy in Jerusalem.” They get elected and then they come up with a million reasons why they can’t do what they said they were going to do. And a bunch of excuses why they can’t do what the people elected them to do.
This president, he got all that same pushback from the State Department and all the inner agency consensus and the swamp who think they’re so brilliant, and this president said, “I said I was going to do it, I’m going to do it.” And he did it.
We were just in Israel last week with Ambassador [David] Friedman, who’s doing a great job, and saw the embassy there, right in Jerusalem, and it’s great.
That sent a message, when this president did that, which so many candidates campaigned on, then failed to deliver on. When he did it, it just sent a message to the whole world, this guy means business. And that’s what I so appreciate about the president.
Del Guidice: Thank you for sharing that. That is really powerful. Going back real quickly to impeachment, what were your constituents back in Ohio saying during those couple of months? …
Jordan: They thought it was crazy, they literally did. They were like, “What is going on? What [are] Adam Schiff and Nancy Pelosi and these people thinking?” …
Plus, in our district, they understand the things I just talked about, what this president’s done. They understand all that. They were like, “This is crazy.” And it was.
Like I said, the facts were on the president’s side. We spent four and a half months where we could have … The old principal in economics is opportunity costs. When you’re focused on one thing, there’s an opportunity cost, there’s an opportunity lost that you could’ve been doing something else.
We could’ve been working on health care, we could have been working on further securing the border and building the border wall, we could have been working on an additional tax reform that would give more money to families. [There’s] lots of things we could have been working on, but instead, we were focused on impeachment. That’s what our constituents felt.
Del Guidice: On that point, now that these hearings are over, Trump is acquitted, what should Congress be working on now that they’re not tied up in all that?
Jordan: Right now, it’s a related issue. It’s reform to the FISA [Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act] laws and the FISA reauthorization bill.
Look, when I said at the start of our talk here that they’re never going to stop, and that impeachment really started in 2016, understand they could still do the same thing to the president in 2020. The reason we know that is because of what we saw two weeks ago.
Two weeks ago, the intelligence community comes to Capitol Hill to brief members of Congress and they hadn’t told the president what they were going to tell members of the Congress. And it turns out stuff they told Adam Schiff, he went out and leaked to the press, but it also turns out the information they gave to the people on Capitol Hill was inaccurate. It was misrepresented.
They’re already starting to try to do to the president in 2020 what they did to him in 2016. That more than anything shows us why we need to reform the FISA laws and the Patriot Act.
The other thing is, Emmet Flood wrote this about a year ago, when he was at the White House Counsel’s Office, right when the Mueller report was coming out, Emmet Flood said, “We would all do well to remember what they can do to a president, imagine what they can do to a president, imagine what they can do to you and I. If they can do this to a president, think about what they can do to us regular citizens. That’s the scary part.”
This is why we have to reform this and put in place additional safeguards, enhanced penalties. If someone goes and misrepresents to the FISA Court 17 different times information, there’s got to be real consequences when people do that. Those are the kinds of things we’re focused on right now.
Del Guidice: Congressman Jordan, thank you so much for joining us on The Daily Signal Podcast.
Jordan: Thank you.
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