Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge was harshly criticized by CNN viewers on Monday after she defended President Donald Trump's firing of FBI Director James Comey with old talking points that the White House had already abandoned.
"The American public, the bureau, the Attorney General, so many senators, members of Congress -- on both sides of the aisle -- had lost confidence in Director Comey, in his ability to do his job," Rutledge told CNN's Kate Bolduan.
Rutledge referenced a letter from Deputy Attorney General Rod Jay Rosenstein that was originally cited by White House staff as the reason for Comey's firing, but Trump later said that he had independently made the decision to fire Comey.
"That is a line that the White House gave right after the firing was announced," the CNN host pointed out. "That reasoning though, just hours later, was contradicted by the president."
"The president himself said that he had the Russia investigation on his mind," Bolduan added. "His campaign is the subject of that Russia investigation and Comey was in charge of that Russia investigation. That doesn't smell funny to you?"
Rutledge said that she was "confident" that the Russian investigation would continue.
"Do you support the president's reasoning if it was all because of the Russia investigation?" Bolduan pressed, leaving Rutledge momentarily speechless.
"I've not been convinced that is his reasoning," the Arkansas attorney general replied, sidestepping the question. "He stated immediately thereafter receiving Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein's memorandum to him, after recieving the letter from Jeff Sessions, the attorney general, that those were the reasons for firing Comey."
"He said he was going to do it regardless of Rod Rosenstein," Bolduan remarked.
CNN viewers on Twitter were not impressed with Rutledge's performance.
@AGRutledge Re:CNN The raw partisanship you just showed on CNN was sickening. You came across as dumber than a bag of hammers. I'm Canadian.— George Howe (@George Howe)1494862938.0
Lisa Rutledge Arkansas Attorney General,Republican LYING on CNN about the firing of James Comey, Republicans are TREASONOUS, all of them.— Chris Mac (@Chris Mac)1494862955.0
@CNN Leslie Rutledge made a fool of herself! She couldn't answer a simple question.— Juan S Delgado (@Juan S Delgado)1494862982.0
@AGRutledge @CNN @KateBolduan @AGRutledge You realize your inability, or unwillingness, to answer the actual questi… https://t.co/CwDTHmOVDC— 💙Carolina Girl💙 (@💙Carolina Girl💙)1494862974.0
@AGRutledge @CNN @KateBolduan I was embarrassed for you. Hard to watch. Did you have a chip implanted that just r… https://t.co/mQyuA9J6MW— Friar Tuck (@Friar Tuck)1494862974.0
@AGRutledge Btw, your appearance on TV, today. proves my point- U R an idiot. Has Trump grabbed you? Pathetic, how did U get that job?— ImpeachedOrangeClan (@ImpeachedOrangeClan)1494863024.0
@AGRutledge @CNN @KateBolduan Way to represent your state I'm sure Arkansas loves seeing their AG look like a Trump mouthpiece.— Jailbird (@Jailbird)1494863031.0
@AGRutledge @CNN @KateBolduan is it really this easy to become AG of Arkansas? you couldnt even spin a non answer without looking dumb!— Tacticutie (@Tacticutie)1494863037.0
@AGRutledge You should not hold a position of authority because you are narrow minded and lack overall judgement— Tulula Brown (@Tulula Brown)1494863081.0
Leslie Rutledge, yet another blind puppet who can't c past lies. She even rightly has lie in her name. Another follower rather than leader.— DD JONES (@DD JONES)1494863116.0
@stevegol @AGRutledge @CNN @KateBolduan @WhiteHouse She forgot to get reprogrammed before she went on. What is abso… https://t.co/H7N8zvwXnF— Evie - just Evie (@Evie - just Evie)1494863173.0
@AGRutledge @CNN @KateBolduan How long did it take you to learn to dance around questions that way? Shameful to av… https://t.co/yTF5Dy6mZq— Fenton! Jesus Christ (@Fenton! Jesus Christ)1494863199.0
Arkansas AG Leslie Rutledge's sidestepping and deflection is almost at Kellyanne Conway level. VERY disappointed in her non-answers. #CNN— Chances Favor (@Chances Favor)1494863214.0
@AGRutledge @CNN @KateBolduan Are you sure you not attorney general in colorado? Because that would explain smoking… https://t.co/ebENitEtZr— myhealthtoo (@myhealthtoo)1494863238.0
@AGRutledge @CNN @KateBolduan Do you have any original thoughts? That was the worst interview ever. Just repeating bogus talking points.— Meghan Moroney Gorman (@Meghan Moroney Gorman)1494863362.0