Stephanopoulos Can’t Handle Getting Owned Multiple Times, Cuts Off JD Vance

A contentious interview between George Stephanopoulos and Senator JD Vance (R-OH) ended in Vance’s microphone getting abruptly cut off, but not without Vance getting several uncontested shots in regarding the media’s obsessions with January 6th, the ongoing lawfare against former President Donald Trump, and the ongoing censorship collusion between Big Tech and the intelligence communities.

The interview ended with an exchange on Schedule F (former President Trump’s proposal to depoliticize the entrenched bureaucracy that works under the Executive Branch) ,and with Stephanopoulos’ nasty habit of framing an uncomfortable response to a question with his own dishonest debate point before fleeing to the next question (or the interview itself, in this instance), in a manner not unlike a silent flatulator fleeing an elevator. 

In the instance above, Stephanopoulos dishonestly bifurcates “the military” from mid-level Department of Defense bureaucrats that, per Vance, stymied Trump’s efforts to get the military out of the Middle East, especially after the droning of Iran’s General Soleimani, and which resulted in their being exposed to deadly attacks such as this week’s droning of Tower 22. Vance’s refusal to back down leads to his mic being cut off, and to the smug shot of Stephanopoulos looking at papers while Vance is presumably shouting into the void.

This was the tone throughout as Stephanopoulos tried to get a number of cheap shots in- ranging from the E.J. Carroll trial, where he tried to get Vance to respond to an Lincoln Project ad, to the 2020 election and a belabored hypothetical made moot by revisions to the Electoral Count Act, to Vance’s reversal as to Trump’s fitness for office- which is what the interview opened with.

Stephanopoulos’ tone while interviewing Vance was something more than the usual contempt for conservatives to be expected from the media, or even from a Clintonista lifer masquerading as media. From my experience covering Jorge Ramos’ interviews of Hispanic conservatives such as Ted Cruz, Mayra Flores, etc., I immediately identified this to be the inquisition of a class traitor- in this case, the acclaimed author of Hillbilly Elegy who in 2015 and 2016 professed to be a Never Trumper, only to later change course.

The purpose of this interview wasn’t really to have an exchange of ideas with Vance but to heckle and chastise him on a number of issues and hopefully box him into a gotcha moment. Vance, to his credit, spotted the play- running circles around Stephanopoulos in the process, and getting his mic cut for his troubles.

Click “expand” to view the full transcript of the aforementioned interview as aired on ABC This Week on Sunday, February 4th, 2024:

JD VANCE: I can’t stomach Trump. I think that he’s noxious and it’s leading the white working class to a very dark place. 

He’s leading our political discourse to a very negative place. 

If Trump is elected president, he has to be a much different president than he was a candidate. As a candidate, he was fundamentally divisive, arrogant. 

I’m a Never Trump guy. I never liked him. 

GEORGE STEPAHNPOULOS: That was JD Vance back in 2016. Now he’s a Republican senator from Ohio supporting Donald Trump and he joins us this morning. Senator, thank you for joining this morning. Back in 2016, you also wrote that Trump is unfit for office. Why have you reversed yourself? 

U.S. SEN. JD VANCE (R-OH): Well, I think in office actually, George, he did a great job and he proved me wrong. He also proved a lot of other people wrong which is why I think he’s doing so well in the polls these days. We have to remember, George, that Biden promised to return to normalcy and yet we have a world on fire, we have war in the Red Sea, war in Eastern Europe, war on the southern border, a terrible drug crisis and of course, a lot of young Americans who can’t afford to buy a home because interest rates are so high. So compare that to the track record of four years of Donald Trump where we had a secure border, we had rising wages for the middle class, and we had the American Dream that seemed more attainable and more achievable for more people. It’s hard not to conclude that I was wrong and so many were wrong about Donald Trump back in 2015. He delivered, George. He did a good job and I think that’s why we ought to give him another run at it. 

STEPHANOPOULOS: Of course, wages are rising now and we just saw that economic report coming this week showing the economy continues to grow- new job growth as well. But since then, Donald Trump not only lost the 2020 election and tried to overturn the results, he also faced a series of legal judgments and indictments. Most recently this E. Jean Carroll case where juries have found him liable for sexual assault leading to ads like this:

LINCOLN PROJECT AD VOICE-OVER: Supporting Donald Trump sends a message to every abuser. Every rapist. And every man who’s ever used his power to hurt a woman. Because if he can do it, why shouldn’t they?

STEPHANOPOULOS: How do you respond to that? That your support of trump is sanctioning that kind of behavior, sexual assault and defamation? 

VANCE: Well, I think it’s actually very unfair to the victims of sexual assault to say that somehow their lives are being worse by electing Donald Trump for president when what he’s trying to do I think is restore prosperity. So, I think it’s insulting to victims of sexual assault. If you actually look at so many of the court cases against Donald Trump, George, this is not about prosecuting Trump for something that he did. It’s about throwing him off the ballot because Democrats feel that they can’t beat him at the ballot box, and so they’re trying to defeat him in court. This case, like so many of the legal cases against Donald Trump, they’re trumped up. They’re in extremely left wing jurisdictions or it’s actually the Biden administration prosecuting his chief political rival. I think most Americans recognize that this is not what we want to fight the 2024 election over. Let’s fight it over issues. Let’s fight it over how to redeliver prosperity to the American worker and peace to the world at large, not over these ridiculous court cases that frankly they have been throwing at Trump for well before he became a political candidate, and they’re going to be going after him for a long time because his agenda is actually a threat to the people who have been calling the shots in this country for far too long. 

STEPHANOPOULOS: You call it a ridiculous case. These were juries that found him liable for sexual assault and defamation. That’s ridiculous? 

VANCE: These are juries, George, in extremely left wing jurisdictions. These are cases that are very often funded by left wing donors, and they’re cases that are funded explicitly to harm him politically, not to seek justice for any particular group of individuals, George. If you look at all of these cases, the through line- twofold: Number one, they’re funded by Donald Trump’s political opponents, and the goal here is not to help us actually have a real conversation about how to advance the country forward. Their goal is to defeat Trump at the core. It’s because these people know they can’t defeat him at the ballot box. It’s really shameful actually, George. If you think about so many of these people who say, “we’re living in a world where there’s a threat to democracy, Donald Trump or his supporters are threats to democracy”, and yet they’re using the courts to deny the American people from even having a choice. If you don’t like Donald Trump, of course, you can vote against him, but you should at least have that choice, and it’s telling that the people who talk about threats to democracy are trying to destroy the democratic process in this country. We’ve got to talk about the issues, George. There are so many crises happening all across the world. There are so many problems right here at home. I think Donald Trump is the best guy to fix those problems, and I think that we have a very, very good chance of persuading the American people. What they don’t want to talk about is weird juries in New York City. They want to talk about how to make their lives better and how to bring the world to a more peaceful place. 

STEPHANOPOULOS: So juries in New York City are not legitimate when they- when they find someone liable for sexual defamation and assault? 

VANCE: Well, when the cases are funded by left wing donors and when the case has absolute left wing bias all over it, George, absolutely I think that we should call into question that- that particular conclusion. We have to remember, of course, that these cases exist not because they were trying to seek justice. Reed Hoffman, a far left donor, did not fund this case because he cares about what happens to sexual assault victims. He funded this case to harm his political opponent, Donald Trump. It’s pretty weird. It’s a weird thing to do to use the courts in this way. It’s never happened before in American history, and yes, I think it should call into question the entire apparatus that’s being used to go after Donald Trump. 

STEPHANOPOULOS: So you’re not troubled by the sexual assault and defamation. Let me ask you about January 6th. You’ve been mentioned as a possible vice president for Donald Trump. Had you been vice president on January 6th, would you have certified the election results? 

VANCE: Oh, George. This is such a ridiculous question in part because the law has changed here. We, of course, had a major legal change to the Electoral Count Act– 

STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, I didn’t ask you about going forward. I asked you what you would have done. I asked you what you would have done. 

VANCE: Here’s what I think happened in 2020, and I know you guys are obsessed with talking about this. I have to make a point here. You constantly say to people like me, “why do you talk about January the 6th, why do you talk about the election of 2020”, and then you ask about it multiple times during a six-minute interview. But, look. You asked the question and I’ll answer it. Do I think there were problems in 2020? Yes, I do. Do I think it was a problem that big technology companies working with the intelligence services censored the presidential campaign of Donald Trump? Yes. Do I think it’s a problem that Pennsylvania changed its balloting rules in the middle of the election season in a way that even some courts in Pennsylvania have said was illegal? Yes, I think these were problems, George, and I think there is a political solution to those problems. So litigating which slate of electors was legitimate I think is fundamentally the political solution to the problems that existed in 2020. It’s a reasonable debate to have. And I find it weird, George, that people like you obsess with what I call what happened in 2020, you’re so incurious about what actually happened in 2020, which is why so many people mistrust our elections in this country. We’ve got to do better, George. 

STEPHANOPOULOS: I’m not the least bit incurious. In fact, you laid out a litany there, but you didn’t answer the question I asked. Would you have certified the election results had you been vice president? 

VANCE: If I had been vice president, I would have told the states like Pennsylvania, Georgia and so many others, we needed to have multiple slates of electors and I think the U.S. Congress should have fought over it from there. That is the legitimate way to deal with an election that a lot of folks, including me, think had a lot of problems in 2020. I think that’s what we should have done. 

STEPHANOPOULOS: So it’s very clear. You would have done what Donald Trump asked you to do there, not what Vice President Mike Pence did. You said that’s about the past, but President Donald Trump– 

VANCE: No, George, it’s not about… 

STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, that’s what you just said. 

VANCE: It’s not about what- it’s not about what- it’s- George. It’s not about what Donald Trump asks somebody to do. It’s about what do we do when you have a problem like what happened in 2020? How do you respond to it? How does the political system respond to this? You can’t have a media apparatus that looks, for example, at the intelligence services working with technology companies to censor Americans and say, well, we just can’t deal with this. There’s no solution to this problem, and by the way, George, I don’t want to talk about this stuff because I think what happened in 2020 is far, far less important than what’s happened since 2020. The wide open southern border, the fentanyl crisis plaguing our communities, the inflation crisis that is making it hard for Americans to afford a good middle class lifestyle. We need to litigate the 2024 election about those issues. You guys are obsessed with talking about 2020. I’m happy to answer the questions, but I think it’s a disservice to the American people that you’re so preoccupied with it. 

STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, it’s- President Trump is preoccupied with it too. He’s the one who’s talked about pardoning those who participated in the riots. And you did just answer the question. You would refuse to certify the election. I do want to talk about the agenda for 2024 because you also have laid out very clear advice for what you want Donald Trump to do. Let’s listen. 

VANCE: I think that what Trump should do, like, if I was giving him one piece of advice, fire every single mid-level bureaucrat, every civil servant in the administrative state. Replace them with our people, and when the courts- because you will get taken to court- and when the courts stop you, stand before the country like Andrew Jackson did, and say the chief justice has made his ruling. Now let him enforce it. 

STEPHANOPOULOS: Fire everyone in the government and then defy the Supreme Court? You think it’s okay for the president to fire the Supreme Court? 

VANCE: No, George, I did not say fire everyone in the government. I said replace the mid-level bureaucrats with people who are responsive to the administration’s agenda. That’s called democracy. One of the problems…

STEPHANOPOULOS: Every civil servant in the administrative state. 

VANCE: No, George. I said the mid-level bureaucrats and one of the problems that we have in this government, George, is you have people who don’t actually- who don’t…

STEPHANOPOULOS: You said every civil servant in the administrative state. 

VANCE: …who- let me finish the answer, George. You asked the question. We have a major problem here with administrators and bureaucrats in the government who don’t respond to the elected branches. Let’s just give one very real world example of this. In 2019 Donald Trump, having defeated ISIS, said that we should redeploy our troops in Syria and Jordan out of the region. You had multiple members of the Defense Department bureaucracy who fought him on that. So what happened? We have people who are sitting ducks in the Levant right now, three of whom just got killed because the bureaucrats aren’t listening to the political branches. That’s a fundamental component of our government, George, that whoever is in charge, agree or disagree with him, you have to follow the rules. If those people aren’t following the rules, then of course, you’ve got to fire them. And, of course, the president has to be able to run the government as he thinks he should. That’s the way the Constitution works. It has been thwarted too much by the way our bureaucracy has worked over the past 15 years. 

STEPHANOPOULOS: The Constitution also says the president must abide by legitimate Supreme Court rulings, doesn’t it? 

VANCE: The Constitution says that the Supreme Court can make rulings, but if the Supreme Court — and look. I hope that they would not do this, but if the Supreme Court said the President of the United States can’t fire a general, that would be an illegitimate ruling and the president has to have Article 2 prerogative under the Constitution to actually run the military as he sees fit. This is just basic constitutional legitimacy. You’re talking about a hypothetical where the Supreme Court tries to run the military. I don’t think that’s going to happen, George, but of course, if it did, the president would have to respond to it. There are multiple examples throughout American history of the president doing just that. 

STEPHANOPOULOS: You didn’t say military in your answer, and you made it very clear you believe the president can defy the Supreme Court. Senator, thanks for your time this morning.

VANCE: No, no, George… 

STEPHANOPOULOS: Roundtable is up next. We’ll be right back.

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