CNN Host Ends Trump Impeachment Panel After Republican Floats Debunked Biden, Clinton Conspiracies: 'We're Done'

CNN host Victor Blackwell abruptly ended a Saturday panel about Republicans' impeachment strategy plans after a guest insisted on "debunked conspiracies" about Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton.

The discussion aimed at identifying the Republican Party's strategies for countering the House impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump derailed when former GOP South Carolina Lieutenant Governor André Bauer continued to berate the panel with accusations against Joe and Hunter Biden.

Blackwell asked Bauer and CNN political commentator Tara Setmayer to respond to Trump acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney and several senators' admitting a Ukraine quid pro quo took place. But the adamantly pro-Trump Bauer repeatedly said the Bidens should be investigated instead of the president.

The panel ultimately concluded with a frustrated Blackwell declaring, "We're done with this conversation."

"Andre it's been a minute since you've been on, congratulations on the new baby," Blackwell said at the outset of the Saturday interview, perhaps foreshadowing the argument to come.

"Let's start here with what we're getting from The Washington Post. There's senators now willing to acknowledge, 'yeah, it was a quid pro quo,'" the CNN host said. "You think that's — one, are you willing to acknowledge what acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney acknowledged, and do you think it's right for Republicans to do so too?"

"I don't think it's a quid pro quo," Bauer replied. "Trump to me said it in a jovial manner, look, you all ought to investigate this guy [Biden], his son's making $50,000 a month."

"Jovial manner?" Blackwell replied. "How did you get jovial out of a written partial transcript?"

"It's like investigating Donald Trump and not Hillary Clinton when you want to talk about Russian collusion," Bauer continued.

"Let's talk specifically about it," said Blackwell, trying to re-focus the discussion about the House Democrat-led impeachment inquiry.

"Most of the Western world wanted the Ukrainian general prosecutor, Viktor Shokin, removed because they felt he was not doing enough to investigate corruption. The European allies wanted him out. Christine Lagarde of the IMF [International Monetary Fund] was so disappointed with the work he did, that she was going to hold back billions of dollars. so you're trying to change and shift what actually was happening in 2016."

"I don't know that they are," Bauer responded. "You can find anybody to take anything out of context you want ... again, we're investigating something that is not nearly as quid pro quo that [Biden] on-camera says, 'I withheld the money, and said—"

"Okay, can we please stop with this?" interjected Setmayer. She then added: "This is what Trump people are going to do because they can't combat the facts ... Let me answer!"

"I know you don't want to talk about [the Bidens]," Bauer added. "He has a direct interest."

"Again, he let the transcript out," said Bauer. "You can argue them any way you want, but, again, the real quid pro quo should be somebody says you're not getting money, we're going to hold it, I told him, and he says it in a video interview and his son is making $50,000 from the company that's being investigated."

"Okay. We should also say that what you're suggesting is that the Bidens did something wrong," continued Blackwell. "There's no evidence to suggest that they did something wrong or that it's illegal."

Blackwell went on to cite Ukraine expert Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman's testimony in which he told members of Congress that White House lawyer John Eisenberg asked him not to discuss Trump's call with Ukraine in July.

Finally, a visibly frustrated Blackwell cut Bauer off and said the intention of bringing him on was to discuss potential GOP strategies for responding to the allegations against Trump.

"All right. Okay. We're done with this conversation," said Blackwell. "I thought this was going to be a talk about strategy from the Republicans who are now acknowledging quid pro quo. We hoped to get to the polling that shows that although we've seen three weeks of revelations, that 49 percent, just like they were three weeks ago, support the removal of the president after impeachment. Instead, we had to go down this road of debunked conspiracies and fact-check for four and a half minutes."

Bauer was inaugurated as South Carolina's 84th lieutenant governor in January 2003 and had previously been elected to the state's House and Senate. He unsuccessfully ran for governor in 2010 and for the 7th District House seat in 2012.

In January 2010, Bauer was mired in controversy after comparing the helping of poor Americans to feeding stray animals.

cnn host ends panel impeachment
CNN host Victor Blackwell abruptly ended a Saturday panel about Republicans' impeachment strategies after a Republican harped on "debunked conspiracies" about Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton. Screenshot: CNN

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