The White House legal office sent a letter Wednesday to several media outlets calling for “scrutiny of House Republicans” over the impeachment inquiry of Joe Biden that was announced by Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) on Tuesday.
The letter by Biden scandal spokesman Ian Sams with the White House Counsel’s office was first reported Tuesday night by CNN’s Oliver Darcy who was given a draft copy (excerpt):
“It’s time for the media to ramp up its scrutiny of House Republicans for opening an impeachment inquiry based on lies,” Ian Sams, a spokesperson for the White House Counsel’s Office, wrote in the letter, according to a draft copy obtained by CNN.
The letter, which said an impeachment inquiry with no supporting evidence should “set off alarm bells for news organizations,” will be sent to executives helming the nation’s largest news organizations, including CNN, The New York Times, Fox News, the Associated Press, CBS News, and others, a White House official familiar with the matter said.
…“And in the modern media environment, where every day liars and hucksters peddle disinformation and lies everywhere from Facebook to Fox, process stories that fail to unpack the illegitimacy of the claims on which House Republicans are basing all their actions only serve to generate confusion, put false premises in people’s feeds, and obscure the truth,” Sams added.
A copy of the letter was posted by Newsmax reporter Logan Ratick:
The White House sent this letter to media organizations yesterday, telling them: “It’s time for the media to ramp up its scrutiny of House Republicans for opening an impeachment inquiry based on lies.” pic.twitter.com/OqREjfGV7P
— Logan Ratick (@Logan_Ratick) September 13, 2023
The Hill reported receiving the letter, titled, “It’s Time For The Media To Do More To Scrutinize House Republicans’ Demonstrably False Claims That They’re Basing Impeachment Stunt On.” (Excerpt):
“[R]eporting that solely focuses on process rather than substance is woefully inadequate when it comes to something as historically grave as impeachment,” Sams wrote.
“It’s time for the media to ramp up its scrutiny of House Republicans for opening an impeachment inquiry based on lies,” the memo continued. “When even House Republican members are admitting that there is simply no evidence that Joe Biden did anything wrong, much less impeachable, that should set off alarm bells for news organizations.”
…The White House memo argues that news organizations are doing a disservice to the American public by covering impeachment just as a “a process story,” like “Republicans say X, but the White House says Y.”
“And in the modern media environment, where every day liars and hucksters peddle disinformation and lies everywhere from Facebook to Fox, process stories that fail to unpack the illegitimacy of the claims on which House Republicans are basing all their actions only serve to generate confusion, put false premises in people’s feeds, and obscure the truth,” Sams wrote.
The memo also included a document outlining what the White House said were “false claims” from lawmakers about Biden and his son Hunter Biden.
Law professor Jonathan Turley sharply criticized the White House letter in an essay published Wednesday morning (excerpt):
…The message is curious and concerning, particularly in the aggressive role being played by the White House Counsel’s office under Stuart Frank Delery.
First, as I have previously noted, the White House is now actively involved in pushing narratives and denying factual allegations linked to the Biden corruption scandal. That could create Nixonian-type allegations of the abuse of office in the use of federal employees to counter impeachment efforts.
Second, the letter was drafted by Ian Sams, a spokesperson for the White House Counsel’s Office. So White House lawyers are now enlisting the media in a counter media campaign against impeachment? The letter removes any pretense of separation between the Biden personal legal team and the White House Counsel’s office…
…The letter has an uncomfortable feeling of marching orders to the media. This is a media that followed the lead of Biden associates in spreading the false story that the Hunter laptop was Russian disinformation.
This is the media that refused to acknowledge the authenticity of the laptop until only recently — long after the presidential election.
This was the media that only recently admitted that President Biden has been lying about denials related to his son’s influence peddling.
Yet, the White House is now calling for the media to again form the wagons around the President and attack the impeachment effort as it did the laptop and the corruption investigation.
Once again, what is most disturbing is that the White House shows no reluctance or concern in making such an open pitch to the press. There is a sense of license in using the media as an extension of the White House press push. The fact that this is a representative of the White House counsel’s office is particularly chilling. This is not the press office but the counsel for the President calling on media to form a unified front against the Republicans and the impeachment inquiry.
The letter is an alarming erosion of separation of the White House Counsel’s office from the Biden defense team. It also confirms an active and aggressive role of White House officials in swatting down allegations against the President. While the staff obviously is not expected to be neutral on impeachment, there is a careful line that past White House counsels have walked between fulfilling their duties to the office as opposed to the officeholder.
Ian Sams appeared on MSNBC on Tuesday to push back on the impeachment inquiry:
Sams: You have the Chairman of the House Oversight Committee talking about how it’s hurting President Biden’s poll numbers. They’re admitting the purpose of what they’re doing pic.twitter.com/iLslRhXipd
— Acyn (@Acyn) September 12, 2023