A CNN panel discussion on the ever-present topic of Donald Trump’s potential collusion with Russia exploded into chaos as two of the president’s supporters tried to not only divine special counsel Robert Mueller’s political biases but also use it as a legal defense.
Rich Lowry, the editor of the conservative National Review magazine, claimed Trump’s legal team undermining the special counsel is “what happens in many highly politically-charged cases across the United States.”
Host Anderson Cooper turned his attention to Steve Cortes, the former Latino outreach coordinator for the Trump campaign to ask him why believed the president won’t take questions about tapes possessed by his former “fixer” Michael Cohen about a payoff to Playboy model Karen McDougal and why the campaign lied about the deal.
Cortes dodged the question, musing that while he thinks it’d be “proper” for Mueller to investigate Russia’s electoral hacking, it’s less so for him to be looking into payoffs for Playboy models from a decade ago.
“How does that have anything to do with Russia?” the onetime Trump campaign surrogate said. “Are we saying Karen McDougal hacked the DNC?”
Amanda Carpenter, the former communications director for Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), interjected as Cortes went off to note that the Southern District of New York — and not Mueller — is investigating the Cohen tapes.
After Cortes claimed media and people within the Justice Department are “hellbent” on taking down Trump, the former Cruz staffer put his argument to rest.
“Questioning people’s motives and what they think about Trump is not a sound political or legal defense,” she added.
Watch below, via CNN:
‘Mulvaney lied’: CNN panel breaks down ‘incredibly damning’ White House confession
On Thursday's edition of CNN's "Anderson Cooper 360," a panel discussed how White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney's press briefing was a disaster for President Donald Trump.
"Can I just point out why this matters?" said CNN chief legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin. "I mean, this is not just some gotcha thing because we all want to get something on the chief of staff. Here we have congressionally appropriated money. Congress says give this money to the Ukrainians. Taxpayer money. And what the White House has done and what they admitted today was, you only get the money if you help us win the election. Not because you help us [with] national security, international relations. The only thing we want from you is help to defeat Democrats. That is wrong. That’s why this matters."
Sondland may have refused to be ‘the fall guy’ — but he’s still complicit: CNN security analyst
On Thursday's edition of CNN's "The Situation Room," CNN security analyst and Lawfare editor Susan Hennessey pointed out that even though EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland turned against President Donald Trump in testimony, it should not be forgotten he was a willing participant in much of the Ukraine scheme.
"In his opening statement today, Sondland wrote he was 'disappointed by the president's direction that we involve Mr. Giuliani in the Ukraine policy,'" said anchor Wolf Blitzer. "In his actions, though, did Ambassador Sondland actually advance Giuliani's goals here?"
"Yes, and to the extent that he was disappointed in what the president asked of him, he took the ball and ran with it," said Hennessey. "He was trying to facilitate Giuliani's efforts, trying to introduce him to Ukrainian officials, and Sondland himself was carrying the same corrupt message, including they needed to be investigating the Bidens for the president's personal political interest. This is Sondland saying, I'm not going to be the fall guy. So I don't know how strong of a message it is that he was saying, I knew it was wrong, but that's the message that he's not willing."
Trump’s lead counsel disavows Mulvaney’s admission the president engaged in Ukraine quid pro quo
On Thursday, White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney stunned reporters by effectively admitting President Donald Trump demanded a quid pro quo from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky for foreign aid appropriated by Congress.
According to CNN's Jim Acosta, Mulvaney's speech was so out of left field that the president's chief attorney immediately disavowed it.
"Mulvaney's performance blindsided the president's outside legal team, as the president's lead attorney, Jay Sekulow, said on the record to CNN, the legal team was not involved in the acting chief of staff's press briefing," said White House correspondent Jim Acosta. "That is pretty telling when the chief counselor to the president is saying, we did not have anything to do with this."