STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
NPR White House correspondent Tamara Keith has been listening in. Tam, good morning.
TAMARA KEITH, BYLINE: Good morning.
INSKEEP: How do Congressman Harris' comments fit in with what other Republicans are saying?
KEITH: Well - so Congressman Harris is very much in line with the talking points that the White House sent around last week after releasing the letter. Incidentally, they accidentally also sent those talking points to Democrats. Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy was on "60 Minutes" last night. He was attempting to make this same argument. But some of these talking points just aren't tethered to reality. What I'm hearing from Republicans close to the White House who don't want to go on tape is that they do consider the call improper but just not impeachable.
INSKEEP: OK. So they're making a much more limited defense of the president. What is the president himself saying?
KEITH: Well, as you say, he has tweeted some 80 times - more than 80 times over the weekend. And in a couple of those tweets, he goes very far. He accused a member of Congress of treason, said he wanted access to the whistleblower - even though there are whistleblower protections in place. Another one quoted someone as saying impeachment would lead to civil war. That's pretty extreme, even by the standards of President Trump, and also way outside of the norms of past presidential conduct.
But in terms of the White House - you know, in 1998, President Clinton, his White House had a war room set up with communications professionals and lawyers going to bat for him. Late last week, Kellyanne Conway, who is a counselor to the president, was speaking to the reporters on the White House driveway. She was asked whether President Trump needs a war room.
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KELLYANNE CONWAY: Why would he do that? Who's - who started the war here? He's the most battle-tested person I've ever met. Why do we need an impeachment war room when - when the other people have the burden of showing why they're impeaching the president?
KEITH: So what she's alluding to is also just that President Trump is all about the battle. He's all about picking fights or being part of fights. And people I talked to expect that the White House is going to be consumed by this, that there will be no carving out of policy.
INSKEEP: The Oval Office is the war room, I suppose.
KEITH: Indeed - or wherever the tweets come from.
INSKEEP: And then there's the question of who else will be defending the president. Who will be in his corner?
KEITH: Well - so here's the thing. This is the first time that you have a president running for re-election who's now facing an impeachment inquiry. And he has a campaign. His campaign even has a war room. And the Trump campaign and the RNC, over the weekend, launched a $10 million ad buy. You can expect for there - they will have surrogates out there; they will be doing rapid response. So in some ways, the war room is also the Trump campaign. It's one and the same. This is an existential fight for President Trump.
INSKEEP: Tamara, thanks for the context in your reporting. Really appreciate it.
KEITH: You're welcome.
INSKEEP: That's NPR White House correspondent Tamara Keith.
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