Democrats failed to present the public with any evidence that President Donald Trump should be impeached in their first round of public hearings this week, White House Senior Advisor for Strategy Tony Sayegh told Breitbart News in an exclusive interview on Saturday.
Sayegh, who has been brought in by Trump to handle messaging in response to the Democrats’ partisan impeachment inquiry alongside former Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, made the case that the Democrats’ three “star witnesses” on Wednesday and Friday failed to bolster the Democrats’ case for impeachment—and instead actually helped the president’s case and the GOP case against the inquiry. Sayegh’s exclusive interview, his first in the new role in the White House as Trump’s impeachment defender, aired live on Breitbart News Saturday on SiriusXM 125 the Patriot Channel on Saturday morning.
In addition to being his first interview in the role as impeachment defender, Sayegh’s interview is also the first and most in-depth commentary the White House has made since the Wednesday hearing with George Kent and Bill Taylor and the Friday hearing with ousted U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch.
“Well, look, the Democrats had a chance to present their three star witnesses and they went 0 for 3,” Sayegh said. “All three witnesses made very clear that there was nothing impeachable that they were discussing that the president did. None of them had any contact or conversations or even knowledge, direct knowledge, of what the president said on the July 25 call, which is the call in question. All three of them confirmed that they thought the Trump administration had a better Ukraine policy ultimately than the Obama administration because of the deliverance of lethal military aid for Ukraine and they made clear, especially Taylor and Kent, that Ukraine received the military aid and the support unconditionally. So, they obviously helped debunk the entire baseless narrative Democrats have decided to base this impeachment inquiry on which is quid pro quo. So what do Democrats do? They are now trying to change the conversation, change the language—they are now trying to call it a ‘bribe.’ That’s laughable, I think you and I both know for something to be a ‘bribe’ you have to get something in return. We gave the Ukrainians more than they’ve gotten from past administrations and it was all unconditional.”
Sayegh also said the weakness of the Democrats’ case on substance was on display for the public, which proves why House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) has run most of the impeachment inquiry behind closed doors unnecessarily in order to collect and weaponize through leaks out of context information meant to create a narrative damaging to Trump even if it’s not entirely true. Overall, though, Sayegh said the White House is pleased with how this week of hearings has gone because it shows the Democrat case to be “clearly thin and weak,” while the Democrats’ star witnesses actually proved the White House’s narrative and undermined the Democrat narrative.
“The bottom line remains the president did nothing wrong, and I think these three ‘star witnesses’ detail that very clearly. It’s the reason why Adam Schiff has to do this process first in private because the only way he could get even some energy behind these proceedings is by leaking selective parts of their testimony,” Sayegh said. “We feel at the end of this week that the substance of the Democrats’ case is clearly thin and weak, and we think their star witnesses actually proved our point, which we’ve been making all along and the president has been saying all along, which is the president did nothing wrong.”
Sayegh pointed to two key moments from Wednesday and Friday, too, when all three of the Democrats’ first public witnesses testified they did not have evidence of a crime or an impeachable offense by Trump. During questioning from Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-TX) on Wednesday, both Taylor and Kent were silent when he asked them if they had any evidence the president should be impeached. On Friday, even more damning for the Democrats, Yovanovitch testified in the negative answering a question from Rep. Chris Stewart (R-UT) “no” when he asked both if she had evidence the president committed a crime or if she had evidence the president committed an impeachable offense. Sayegh also ripped Schiff for silencing Republicans, including Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY), when they raise legitimate points of order or ask for unanimous consent to enter into the record documents and other pieces of evidence.
“The moment especially with Ambassador Taylor and Mr. Kent on Wednesday when Congressman Ratcliffe just looked at the both of them and said, ‘Hey you guys are the star witnesses, what’s impeachable here?’” Sayegh said. “The silence was deafening, because it’s very clear there is nothing there. When you see the way Adam Schiff has been conducting even the public hearings, it’s embarrassing. This is not due process. This is not democracy. He shuts down Elise Stefanik, he tries to clash every time a Republican brings up a legitimate point of order in exposing how this process is completely controlled by him and only him. It’s really not the way our democracy should be working.”
Sayegh also ripped into Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) for at one point saying that Schiff is above being questioned. Sayegh argued this behavior from Swalwell on Schiff’s behalf is not representative of the values the United States has in terms of the judicial process, and more proof this is a “sham” impeachment inquiry.
“There was a point in the deliberation on Wednesday, where I think it was Congressman Swalwell—one of Schiff’s minions and deputies—who actually tried to say that the chair cannot be questioned, that that was not permissible,” Sayegh said. “Could you imagine we have a congressional proceeding, a hearing, in the United States of America—not another country, not another time, but in 2019 in the United States of America—where questioning the chair is not permissible? It’s not permitted? I mean, this continues to expose what we’ve been saying all along—this impeachment process is a sham.”
Sayegh added, too, that the way to resolve disagreements with the executive branch is not through sham impeachment inquiries like the one the Democrats are running, but instead through elections—and the next one is just a year away.
“Look, if you don’t like what the president did or you don’t like what the president said, you have an election,” Sayegh said. “It’s less than a year away. Run against him. That’s what we did with Barack Obama. We didn’t like Fast and Furious. We didn’t like the IRS targeting scandal. We didn’t like the fact he used the Department of Justice to spy on reporters. We ran against him. We lost. We didn’t like how Hillary conducted the Benghazi raid. We ran against her on the issue. We won. That’s how elections in democracies work. It’s not circumventing the process and rigging the process so you get the outcome you want. It’s about leaving it up to the voters. Don’t forget what this is all about: This is about the fact that Democrats are still upset about the results of the 2016 election and have been on a focused crusade and witch hunt since that time to remove Donald Trump as president. What’s accelerated this process is they know the president will win again in 2020 if they don’t try to do something different. This is not interfering in just the 2016 election, this is trying to circumvent the 2020 election and I really think that’s a huge injustice to the American people.”
What’s more, with the president facing these impeachment hearings in the House of Representatives, the public has grown disinterested with the Democrats’ tactics as evidenced by the low television ratings the hearings this week received. On Wednesday, just 13 million Americans watched the first hearing—millions upon millions less than the Brett Kavanaugh hearings in 2018 and even less than the previous hearings with former FBI Director James Comey.
“All along, we know the president’s done nothing wrong so there’s absolutely no concern on our part that the hearings were going to reveal anything or say anything,” Sayegh said. “The concern is are they able to fool the public or are they able to create some sort of false narrative that gets hold in the country. Look, as you point out, the Comey hearings had over 20 million viewers, the Kavanaugh hearings had close to 20 million, around 19 million. They had just 13 million viewers on this thing. The country is clearly disinterested in this charade and the fact that the Democrats are playing impeachment while the president is trying to govern. People care more about what affects their lives. I’ll tell you something: You know, Matt, we’ve known each other for a few years now and most of my career has been spent in political strategy and media. I’ll never forget a lesson I learned, actually from a Democrat strategist years ago, who actually ran a campaign—and I’ll leave the players out of this one—but he ran a campaign against my candidate and my candidate won. He said to me, ‘At the end of the day, you guys at least talked about the issues people care about, my guy would only talk about the issues he cared about.’ That’s how you lose: when you talk about what you care about, not what people care about. That’s what I think we see the Democrats doing right now.”
Sayegh also made the case that he believes the Democrats very well could lose their majority in the House over these hearings, and that Trump will win re-election because of it all. The Democrats have zero big-picture legislative accomplishments since retaking the majority in last year’s midterm elections, despite campaign trail promises to stand up for Americans’ health care, to rebuild the nation’s infrastructure, to help Americans on the economy, and to work with the president on a number of other fronts of bipartisan support. They have abandoned all of that, and any hope of serious big-picture legislation, to pursue the impeachment agenda they have fallen into.
“Wednesday for me, if we’re going to kind of fast forward and have a discussion a year ago from today, let’s say November 16, 2020, and we say to ourselves, ‘Wow, not only did the president win re-election, but the Democrats lost the House. Why?’” Sayegh said. “It’s for all the reasons you said right now. The president has been focused on strengthening our economy, improving our trade deals, rolling back regulations, strengthening the military, trying to address the issues that prevent our workers from having a level playing field around the world. What have we seen? We’ve seen strong wage gains, strong economic growth, people are seeing the benefits of the strongest economy in the world, which is very important for us, we wanted more people to be able to participate in our economy when they weren’t able to prior. When you think about the fact that the president has been the most willing, certainly of any Republican president in my lifetime, to work with Democrats on so many issues, drug pricing, infrastructure, criminal justice reform—so many issues that you could previously say were on partisan lines, you have President Trump who’s always willing, always with an open door and an open mind. You have Democrats choosing, instead of working with him on these real issues, choosing to come up with these phony impeachment charges because they’re so afraid he’s going to have four more years. But you know who wants him to have four more years? The people in this country who have benefitted from the fact that you have a president who care more about them than the swamp, who cares more about them than any other special interest, his special interest are the people of the United States of America.”
Sayegh continued by noting that Trump’s unprecedented transparency—the release of the transcript of his call with Ukraine’s President Zelensky is a good example—contrasts with the Democrats’ decision to just plow forward with impeachment proceedings regardless of the lack of factual support for their case.
“You see his [Trump’s] sincerity, his authenticity, at his rallies and anytime he speaks,” Sayegh said. “And, by the way, let me tell you something else as somebody who’s been in media, who’s been in politics, let’s say a couple decades seeing presidents and how they operate. This is the most transparent president we have ever had bar none. Literally bar none, this is literally the most open, honest, and transparent president we have ever had. Think about the fact that the entire impeachment surrounds a phone call on July 25—guess what the president did? He gave the American people the transcript of that phone call and said: ‘Look at it and judge it for yourself.’ Guess what Nancy Pelosi and Adam Schiff did? They launched an impeachment inquiry before they even had a chance to do that. So when you think about the opportunities we are given by being a part of this government and this great democracy, it’s a sacred and and solemn opportunity to help the American people. So, how do you use that? How do you use that opportunity? We know how Donald Trump has used it. You talked about USMCA, over 100,000 jobs for our hardworking Americans. That’s a massive economic opportunity for so many Americans. That’s the biggest trade deal with our biggest trading partners, between Mexico and Canada. That’s how he spends his time, that’s how he spends his energy. What do the Democrats do? They give you pretty lame TV on trumped up impeachment charges that are never going to amount to a hill of beans in a hyper partisan unprecedented attack on the American presidency.”
When the Democrats finally held a floor vote a couple weeks ago officially cementing their impeachment inquiry that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) announced more than a month earlier via press conference, it was only Democrats—not all of them, but most of them—who voted for it. All Republicans in the House voted against it, and joining them were two Democrats Reps. Collin Peterson (D-MN) and Jeff Van Drew (D-NJ). That means the impeachment inquiry is purely partisan in nature, with bipartisan opposition to what Pelosi and Schiff are doing. Peterson and Van Drew both represent districts that Trump won in 2016. There are 29 more such Democrats in “Trump districts” across the country, and for the GOP to retake the House majority in 2020 they would need to retake a net 19 seats—making retaking the House very possible for Republicans. Sayegh said those Trump district Democrats, given the weakness of Schiff’s case for impeachment and the fact the Democrats’ own witnesses are bolstering the case against impeachment, are likely to face enormous pressure to oppose articles of impeachment if the Democrat leadership ever does call such a vote.
“I kind of frame things by looking at things and turning them around. So I put myself in the position of, let’s pretend I’m a Democrat who doesn’t like the president and wants to see him impeached,” Sayegh said. “I would be furious right now at the way Adam Schiff and Nancy Pelosi have conducted themselves. If I’m one of these congressmen, don’t forget—I think we need about 16 or maybe you’re right maybe it’s 19, the math shifts depending on how many are there in the chamber at any time, 19 Democrats to vote against this. We already got two on the procedural vote because they know this thing was done so poorly, and without public support, without a justification and circumventing the president’s due process rights. My colleague Pam Bondi who’s joining me next week and preparing to be part of the president’s team on strategy and communications in Washington and the White House. She’s a former prosecutor. She said someone with a speeding ticket infraction has been given more due process rights than the president has by Adam Schiff in this situation. So, if I’m a Democrat and I think this president legitimately needs to be held accountable, I hate the way they’ve done it. They’ve done it in such an underhanded and unethical way that I think it’s ultimately going to be too much for a lot of these Democrats who are in these Trump districts to support. They’ve not built a justification. They’ve not built the legitimate foundation of a case that they would have to build to convince anybody who’s objective, and I’m for a moment that there’s some objective people in the Democrat conference, to take that very risky vote. For what though? If you’re a Democrat in a Trump district, I think Collin Peterson and Congressman Van Drew clearly made this calculation—and I think there’s a few others who will—are you going to take a vote to impeach the president on such frivolous and weak grounds to only have it go to the Senate and die?”
Sayegh also said that Republicans are more unified than ever after the first two Democrat hearings, and he expects that GOP unity will continue and carry the party back into the House majority and Trump back into the White House next year.
“We have ended this week, I think one of the most important things is as Republicans on both the House and the Senate side and in the White House, we have ended this week more unified than we have been for years,” Sayegh said. “The Democrats in the way they’ve proceeded, the way they’ve conducted themselves in this impeachment jam, have only strengthened that unity. I think it’s going to be extraordinarily difficult for a lot of these Democrats to take that vote in a way that leads to impeachment but look I also know how Washington works and I know how hyper partisan the dynamic is today that at the same time I would not be surprised to see people take such a blindly partisan vote. Speaker Pelosi, who frankly I have respect for and I think has been up until now a rather adroit leader of the opposition, but she was sold something and she took the bait for whatever reason. I’m not exactly sure why, but maybe in the next few weeks we’ll learn if this continues to go on what the real motive is, but I think it’s a fool’s errand and I think it’s going to be the bedrock of why the Republicans will retake the House along with winning another term for Donald Trump.”
Sayegh concluded the interview by discussing the serious revelations the Democrat witnesses’ testimony brought forth about former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden. Hunter Biden’s position on the board of Ukrainian natural gas company Burisma Holdings has drawn significant scrutiny, and all three Democrat witnesses testified this week there were serious issues with it. Kent testified that he raised the concerns within the Obama administration, and Yovanovitch testified that she was briefed on the matter with talking points by the Obama State Department when she was facing Senate confirmation to be ambassador to Ukraine in 2016. Both Kent and Yovanovitch referred lawmakers back to former Vice President Biden’s official office for more information. GOP lawmakers, who do not have subpoena power since they are in the minority in the House, have been trying to get more information about these concerns—which all three Democrat witnesses confirmed are authentic—and have tried to bring in Hunter Biden and his business business partner Devon Archer to testify in these impeachment inquiry hearings. But, Schiff and the Democrat leadership in the House majority are obstructing the investigation despite their own witnesses confirming the problems with regard to the conflicts of interest within the Biden family. Nonetheless, Sayegh said particularly Stefanik bringing up with Yovanovitch the Obama State Department confirmation hearing preparation materials on Hunter Biden and Burisma was a “powerful moment.”
“That was a really powerful moment that Congresswoman Stefanik’s questioning presented,” Sayegh said. “When we watch these, as you pointed out before kind of boring hearings, there’s a moment here or there that kind of jump off the chart and that was one of them. The idea that even the Obama administration’s State Department was so concerned about the appearance of impropriety with Hunter Biden’s contract with Burisma, an energy firm in Ukraine, when he has no prior knowledge of or experience in dealing with business in Ukraine, no prior knowledge or experience in the energy sector, yet somehow as the Vice President’s son gets this kind of job. I think when you saw the Republicans asking Chairman Schiff during this testimony by Yovanovitch and as you said also kind of corroborated by Mr. Kent kind of requires Hunter Biden to come in and testify but Mr. Schiff completely, completely railroaded that idea and called them out of order and would not let them have the floor—and I think that’s because there’s a lot of there there.”
LISTEN TO TONY SAYEGH ON BREITBART NEWS SATURDAY: