Two unusual things happened on NBC’s Meet the Press this Sunday, and they were kind of the same thing: Chuck Todd pushed back against a guest in a really meaningful way, and Rep. Jim Jordan encountered serious pushback from a reporter. Jordan, of course, doesn’t usually do interviews where he’s likely to be held to account, and maybe he figured Todd would be within his comfort zone. But someone had apparently spiked Todd’s Wheaties, because he refused to sit back and listen to Jordan lie about the differences between classified documents found at President Joe Biden and Donald Trump’s properties.
For stretches of the interview, Jordan seemed to think he was questioning a witness at a congressional hearing, a setting in which he has become accustomed to interrupting people without being challenged on it. But Todd managed to open the subject of the FBI’s search of Mar-a-Lago for classified documents Trump was holding onto despite a subpoena by laying out the facts largely uninterrupted.
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You keep talking about this raid on Donald Trump. The amount of time—there was nine months between the initial action that the Archives made for requests of documents before they even turned it over to the Justice Department. The subpoena was issued 60 days before they actually executed the subpoena. And more importantly, the only time the public found out about it is because Donald Trump told the public about it. This was not some sort of—you paint it as a picture of the FBI did this, this, and this within hours of each other when it was actually a year and a half of Donald Trump not—
After a brief Jordan interruption, Todd concluded, “—complying with any of the requests from National Archives. A year and a half. This is not some sort of proof that somehow that they've weaponized and playing politics over here.”
Jordan went straight to his favorite talking point: “They raided, they raided Trump's home. They haven't raided Biden's home.”
Whoops, though, that one’s not hard to answer, and Todd did: “Because Biden didn't defy a subpoena, congressman. He defied a subpoena. By the way, he had 60 days to comply—“
Jordan broke in, repeating, “They raided Trump.” Todd brushed off the interruption and finished his sentence, “—with the subpoena before they actually executed the search warrant.”
This is what we have not gotten enough of from the media: a careful recounting of Trump’s obstruction, highlighting that the serious problem was not his initial possession of them but his prolonged refusal to return them. Jordan, of course, wasn’t hearing it, and was trying to ensure that his followers wouldn’t hear it, but Todd didn’t let that disrupt the key point.
Jordan then detoured into the fact that the FBI “took pictures of the documents at Trump's house. They took no pictures of documents—“ at Biden’s home, seemingly. Except the reason we know the FBI took pictures of the documents at Mar-a-Lago is because the Justice Department included the photos in a court filing responding to Trump having gone to court seeking a special master. If Trump hadn’t tried to fight the document seizures in court, we wouldn’t have seen the pictures, but now Jordan is trying to make them an element in his conspiracy theory.
Eventually, Jordan resorted to repeating the phrase “Equal treatment under the law,” as if equal treatment would mean going after Biden for obstruction just because Trump had obstructed.
”You do not seem to ever see the same conspiratorial problems when it's a Republican,” Todd responded.
This wasn’t the only subject Todd and Jordan covered in a consistently contentious interview—what isn’t contentious when Jordan is involved?—but it stood out because Todd’s insistence that Trump refusing to give back classified documents under subpoena was the important fact in the story. That is what too many in the media have treated as a side issue in a race to both-sides about former presidents or vice presidents having classified documents. But if Trump had just returned the documents the first, second, or third time he was told to do so, his possession of them would have been a non-story. Good for Todd for hammering on the real issue here.
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