House Republicans from President Trump’s impeachment team sparred with an NBC News reporter on Tuesday during a tense exchange that resulted in Rep. Lee Zeldin calling the press "shills" of lead House impeachment manager Adam Schiff.
NBC News correspondent Heidi Przybyla asked Reps. Zeldin, Elise Stefanik and Mike Johnson during a press gaggle what specific corruption in the Ukraine President Trump was concerned about prior to his infamous phone call.
Zeldin attempted to answer the question, noting that “everyone” involved in the United States government was concerned. At one point Przybyla attempted to interrupt.
“Let me finish the answer, please,” Zeldin responded before saying the Ukraine Security Assistance Act of 2014 makes it difficult to provide tax dollars to Ukraine if signs of potential corruption exist.
Przybyla asked a follow-up question, but quickly interrupted again as Zeldin attempted to answer. Zeldin appeared frustrated and essentially accused the NBC News reporter of being biased.
“You have to let me answer your questions,” Zeldin said. “If I give a good answer, that doesn’t mean that you have to cut me off. OK? I know that if I give a bad answer you’d probably let me go all day.”
Przybyla fired back, “I’ll cut you off if you give a bad one.”
“Right, so let me answer you,” Zeldin said before offering a lengthy response.
Przybyla then asked, “Biden, CrowdStrike and what is the other specific corruption?”
Zeldin looked around at the gaggle of reporters and asked if anyone else had a question, indicating that the NBC News reporter was taking all their time.
“I know it’s a hard question,” Przybyla said. “The president is not on the record mentioning anything other than Biden and CrowdStrike and you haven’t mentioned anything else.”
Zeldin said he was “happy to answer” the question but other reporters deserved a chance, too.
The NBC News reporter then addressed her colleagues and said, “You guys want the answer, right?”
Zeldin and Przybyla then bickered for a moment and the Republican lawmaker mocked the NBC News reporter.
“You have a unique style… you’re not looking around to see if anyone else has any other questions,” Zeldin said.
Przybyla barked back, ”You’re not answering it.”
Zeldin went on to detail examples of corruption in Ukraine before he was interrupted again, this time by other reporters.
“You’re doing a great job as Schiff's shills,” Zeldin said. “You’re actually insulting your audience.”
The tense Q&A went on and NBC News eventually posted the footage to its Facebook page.