On Monday's New Day show on CNN, during a discussion of the letter that Barack Obama gave to Donald Trump as the former President was leaving office, conservative CNN commentator Jack Kingston recalled several of the scandals involving the Obama administration. Liberal CNN commentator Bakari Sellers claimed with a straight face that President Obama was "eight years scandal-free." He also took a shot at Fox News for covering Obama-era scandals, dismissing the coverage as "talking points."
At 8:54 a.m. ET, after substitute host Dave Briggs read from the letter in which Obama left advice for how Trump should handle the presidency, he went to Kingston for reaction. The former Republican congressman responded:
I'm glad he's not listening to Barack Obama's interpretation of rule of law because all I can think about is Lois Lerner and the IRS scandal. I think about them calling James Rosen -- the Fox reporter -- a flight risk and surveilling him illegally. I think about Hillary Clinton's pay-for-play shenanigans at the State Department under Barack Obama. And I think of Fast and Furious. So if that's the rule of law under Barack Obama, I'm glad that President Trump is not listening to him.
Briggs then brought up the firing of former FBI director James Comey as the CNN host followed up: "Does firing the acting FBI director for not killing the Russia investigation fall under protecting the rule of law, Jack?"
After Kingston defended President Trump's firing of Comey, Briggs turned to Sellers to follow up:
We do know this, Bakari -- we know that there was a letter that was not published from the President and Stephen Miller citing that they were firing James Comey because he would not publicly clear the President and say he was not under investigation. When I mention those three pieces of advice. Rule of law is one -- separation of powers is another. And John McCain took to the Washington Post to warn the President, to warn him directly that Senators do not work for him. Do you think he's following the advice laid out in this letter?
Sellers dismissed his fellow CNN analyst's talk of Obama scandals as he began:
Well, I think, regardless of what Jack Kingston says or, you know, the talking points that many times we hear on Fox News, you know, the President was eight years scandal-free -- he and his entire --
Laughing, Kingston injected: "Scandal-free? Fast and Furious? IRS? Lois Lerner?"
As Kingston added, "Eric Holder, contempt of Congress," Sellers persisted:
He and his entire -- he and his entire family. And so what we're seeing now is, if we go to the heart of this letter -- he laid out some very practical guidelines that would guide not just a Republican President, but a Democratic President as well, and everybody in between.
The answer to your question is, I'm not sure that Donald Trump has read the letter, and if he has read the letter, it's apparent he hasn't taken that to heart. We've had eight months -- eight months where this White House has been consumed with scandal and palace intrigue. And what we -- this is exactly what we did not have under Barack Obama.