The Get More Smarter Podcast: Eli Stokols

This week on The Get More Smarter Podcast, hosts Jason Bane and Ian Silverii interview Eli Stokols, White House reporter for the Los Angeles Times, for more perspective on President Trump’s impeachment troubles.

Last week, Stokols broke the story of President Trump suggesting that the whistleblower in the UkraineGate case was “almost a spy” and could be executed for treason. Stokols discusses his big scoop and his thoughts on how the case for impeachment will proceed.

Later in the show, Bane and Silverii talk about impeachment implications in Colorado, more trouble with recall grifting, and Ken Buck’s potentially precarious hold on the Chairmanship of the Colorado Republican Party.

The Get More Smarter Podcast is available on Apple Podcasts, Buzzcloud, Spotify, and Overcast. You can also follow the Podcast on Twitter @MoreSmarterShow. Thanks for listening!

Click after the jump to read a few selected quotes from the Stokols interview…

 

 

Interview with Eli Stokols, White House reporter for the Los Angeles Times:

 

On Trump reaction to impeachment proceedings:

BANE: The Los Angeles Times reported last week that Trump was “shell-shocked” by impeachment? Is he really surprised? That shocked me that he would be surprised.

STOKOLS: Right, because you live in a world where this has been percolating for a long time, and he lives in a world where – after the Mueller Report and two years of investigations that really turned up nothing – he really felt bulletproof. And in terms of Pelosi, he’s never really had a good handle on her and what cards she’s got or what cards she’s willing to play. And with this, I think because she had been cautious and had been sort of putting the breaks on those in her caucus who wanted impeachment from the beginning, I think he just sort of assumed that she’s not going to let [Democrats] do it and did not appreciate the degree to which…when everybody in the Democratic caucus is on board with this because of something new that’s come out about his behavior, when she has 218 votes potentially to approve articles of impeachment in the House, that’s a different story.

Trump is not a Washington operator who has been here very long and who really understands how the game is played. [Pelosi], on the other hand, is a pragmatist…

… Beneath that is sort of the real politics of this. Now Pelosi has 218 Democratic votes who can approve this, right? This isn’t a fool’s errand. This is something that actually probably gets through the House, and probably gets through the House — however fast they are able to move it — and pretty cleanly, given that now all of the stuff on top of all of the stuff with Russia and the obstruction that came out of the Mueller report, you have evidence already in the public space – evidence from the whistleblower and evidence from this thing that the White House put out that’s not exactly a transcript but is a summary of the phone call that corroborates Mueller’s report. So you have pretty clear evidence that the President did what he was accused of doing…you have evidence that he did it, you have the President out there every day tweeting that, ‘Yeah, I did it. It’s not wrong. So what?’ This is pretty clean and much easier to understand than a massive jigsaw puzzle of Russian collusion that took two years for the media to sort of put together, piecemeal, and was just hard for the public to digest…

…This is just a simple, pretty straightforward story about a phone call, and then by subsequent attempts by the White House to take the phone call and put any records of it away, which demonstrates consciousness of guilt – if not on the President’s part, then on the part of his advisors who knew that the President just did something on that call that you are not supposed to do…

On Op-Ed in Washington Post co-authored by Rep. Jason Crow (D-Aurora):

STOKOLS: When Jason Crow and Abigail Spanberger and those folks come out and say, hey we have a duty to do this, and they do it from a national security perspective given their backgrounds, that Op-Ed that the seven lawmakers wrote in the Washington Post was really the thing that – at least in terms of Pelosi’s resistance to impeachment – that was the thing I think that broke the dam more than anything else.

On breaking story that President Trump referred to whistleblower as “almost a spy” who could be executed for treason:

STOKOLS: I had a recording of Trump saying it, so I alerted the White House that we had this and that we were going to publish it, but beyond that I wasn’t expecting a comment. At this point, when you email them for comment, you rarely get a response. Not even a ‘no comment’ – you just rarely get a response…especially when you are asking for something on the record, you don’t get a lot out of them. This was not something I needed them to verify because I had a recording. I could tell where he was. I could tell that it was legit, that it was [Thursday morning]. I felt comfortable publishing the story based on the comments that were on the recording…

The funny thing is that everybody was up in arms when we published the story, and then when we put the audio, and you could hear the President saying in this kind of casually menacing tone that ‘We used to be smart, back when we really knew what to do with spies and traitors.’ And you sit here, and he’s saying the words ‘treason,” and I’m sitting at my desk listening to this, and I’m thinking, ‘holy shit!’ I think he just insinuated that the whistleblower should be strung up.

 

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