Friday’s White House press briefing featured CNN senior White House correspondent Jim Acosta making a scene, chiding White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders for “trying to gin up your own investigation up on Capitol Hill” about the Clinton/Russian uranium deal and afterwards for “inappropriate political behavior” simply by talking about it.
“I was wondering, why did the President involve himself in the Uranium One investigation? Are you trying to gin up your own investigation up on Capitol Hill and where is the President's evidence that Hillary Clinton colluded with the Russians, as he tweeted this morning,” Acosta wondered to Sanders.
In terms of the President being involved, I'm not aware of specific involvement. The President has pushed for transparency, if that's what you're referring to when dealing with Congress. I know that's probably something new for a President to actually push for transparency but that's what he's done, and that was the purpose of what he was trying to do in that process.
Acosta tried to follow up about collusion by Clinton, but Sanders moved on despite his shouting. Moments after the briefing, Acosta resurfaced to bemoan the White House trying “flip the script on a number of occasions and say, well it was Hillary Clinton campaign and Democrat National Committee.”
What’s so stupid about the network claiming to be “Facts First” is that of course the White House wants to do so. Whining about that fact is like yelling at the sky, pleading for rain.
Acosta declared that “I don’t think this any small thing,” so you knew Acosta was locked and loaded:
When you have the White House, keep in mind the campaign is over, the election is over. When the White House is suggesting that there is collusion, that there was collusion going on between a defeated rival, political opponent and a foreign government as this White House is doing, that's one thing for one campaign to say it about another. But this is the White House saying that and that is why I tried to ask the question, as a multi-part question, why is it that the President thought to be involved in this Uranium One deal to try to have that gag order lifted on the key informant in the FBI investigation. No real answer there.
There’s a few nutty statements here. First of all, the campaign has ended, but the media love relitigating the election by declaring that it was stolen from Hillary Clinton by Trump and the Russians. In fact, the entire Mueller investigation is about the election, so anytime the news media knock Trump and company for relitigating the election, they should look in a mirror.
On Acosta’s complaint about Trump invoking his 2016 opponent, one should go back to all the times Barack Obama condemned predecessor George W. Bush and blasted John McCain.
Moving on, Acosta took issue with the lack of evidence of Clinton-Russian collusion, but the reality is that’s what investigations and stories from The Hill revealed and have done (and will continue to do). He then built to his climax of lunacy [emphasis mine]:
So once again you have the inappropriate political behavior on the part of the White House going on during the course of that campaign with “lock her up” and everything else. When you have a White House making those kinds of allegations about a defeated opponent, that is just something that's just not normal in the course of events in a political campaign or to have a White House do from the podium of the White House briefing room. So, you know, I don't know if you noticed this right now, Brooke, but there are some kids in Halloween costumes going back right now to the Oval Office to meet with the President. You know, perhaps there will be some trick or treating going on in the Oval Office, but I think there might have been a fair amount of that going on in the briefing room a few moments ago, Brooke.
Right on cue, CNN analyst and former Mueller loyalist Michael Zeldin was brought on in order to brush aside allegations of impropriety by the Clintons, the Clinton Foundation, and Uranium One as a waste of time.
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In fact, he turned to the old Clinton playbook of allegations being part of a vast right-wing conspiracy:
Well, they have raised this story that was first surfaced by Breitbart News organization about the awarding of a uranium contract, the purchasing of a company by Russians as being quid-pro-quo for donations to the Clinton Foundation. On the merits, it doesn't hold a lot of substance. But as appearance matter, there is enough politics in it that they are continuously going back to this, as I think, in legal terms, a diversion from the truth of the matter, which is Mueller has serious investigation on his hand. They are the subjects of that investigation and they would like to divert the attention the American people from that.
“So they’re trying to take this uranium purchase case from 2009 and have it be the news of the day instead of Mueller and his investigation and new revelations about the meetings at Trump Tower with Don Jr., none of which really is good for the President,” he added to the approval of CNN Newsroom host Brooke Baldwin.
Real Clear Politics writer Caitlin Huey-Burns agreed, dismissing this story as old news because the Republicans supposedly had almost eight years to find out about this and launch probes. However, when bad things happen, they usually aren’t committed out in the open but rather discovered later. Funny how that works.
CNN’s push to refer to this story as a banana when it’s an apple continued with Obama ethics czar Norman Eisen, who whined that Sanders “wouldn't answer Jim Acosta’s question” and that, “[i]n the absence of some evidence that any of this has to do with Hillary Clinton or that there’s any connection to make these unsubstantiated allegations, it's The Big Lie strategy and it's reprehensible and we should not stand by and let the White House do it.”
“It's truly shocking...But to refuse to answer questions and to make these allegations and to have the White House engaged in politicizing a criminal matter, it has the most disturbing historical echos, it's profoundly troubling from an ethical and a perspective,” Eisen noted, attempting to insinuate that the Trump administration is some authoritarian refime.
Zeldin closed it all out with spin about the gag order being lifted amounting to a nothingburger, which is interesting considering why enact a gag order if there was nothing to hide:
Can I add something to that which is interesting to me, which is they are trying to lift a gag order on an informant who was in the Russian organization that is charged with having done bad things. Well the person who ran the operation was prosecuted in the United States by Rod Rosenstein when he was United States Attorney for the District of Maryland and so, he ended up pleading guilty, sentenced to four years in prison. They have all sorts of evidence and affidavits and know everything about this case. So the gag order lifting of an informant doesn't add anything to what they already know hand couldn't share with Congress. So which is why it strikes me this aspect of it is political theater rather than really trying to get to the bottom of what happened. They know what happened. They have the evidence...So this is just not legitimate from a law enforcement need-to-know standpoint in my estimation.
This liberal bias and spin were brought to you by CNN Newsroom advertisers Hainan Airlines, Soothe, and TGI Fridays.
Here’s the relevant transcript from October 27's CNN Newsroom with Brooke Baldwin:
CNN Newsroom with Brooke Baldwin
October 27, 2017
2:53 p.m. Eastern
JIM ACOSTA: I was wondering, why did the President involve himself in the Uranium One investigation? Are you trying to gin up your own investigation up on Capitol Hill and where is the President's evidence that Hillary Clinton colluded with the Russians, as he tweeted this morning?
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS: In terms of the President being involved, I'm not aware of specific involvement. The President has pushed for transparency, if that's what you're referring to when dealing with Congress. I know that's probably something new for a President to actually push for transparency —
ACOSTA: Apparently, he had the gag order removed.
SANDERS: — but that's what he's done, and that was the purpose of what he was trying to do in that process.
ACOSTA: How about evidence of collusion by Hillary — Sarah, no. The President made a charge that Hillary Clinton colluded with the Russians.
SANDERS: I think I've addressed that thoroughly. Mike, go ahead.
ACOSTA: So, you're saying that Hillary Clinton colluded with the Russians?
SANDERS: I’m saying that I'm calling on your colleague.
ACOSTA: Okay, you didn’t really address that question?
BALDWIN: Right. Pivot, pivot, pivot. Caitlin, what do you make of the big push by the White House?
CAITLIN HUEY-BURNS: Yeah, you can also argue what were they doing with the contracts. But you can also argue we are six, seven years into a Republican majority in the House, at least, they had plenty of opportunities, you would think, to look into this issue. This week, they announced an investigation and remember, this was talked about during the course of the campaign. We know the campaign was saturated with tons of information and different allegations here and there, but there is it a question to be raised about why now? What's the timing? And also if you kind of look at this in the larger landscape here, you do have Republicans who are saying, okay, yes, we've had these majorities. Why are we spending so much time going after our own President? Why not Hillary Clinton? That’s — I'm not validating that. That's arguments you hear from Republicans. I think it's also worth considering, though, when you look at the president he's very embattled, right? His legislative agenda has been stalled. He’s been underfire for various different things and, also, this new Fox News poll shows his approval rating dropping among his core constituency of white men and so that leads me to question, kind of, what will the President do to kind of focus in on that base and he does have some allies in Congress who are interested in that as well.
NORMAN EISEN: Well, we'll hear what the informant has to say, but I want to echo what Michael said and I thought it was terrible that Sarah Sanders wouldn't answer Jim Acosta’s question. In the absence of some evidence that any of this has to do with Hillary Clinton or that there’s any connection to make these unsubstantiated allegations, it's The Big Lie strategy and it's reprehensible and we should not stand by and let the White House do it. It's truly shocking. It's an obvious effort to start an alternative investigation. Look, if there is a basis to believe that something improper happened, put the evidence out there. But to refuse to answer questions and to make these allegations and to have the White House engaged in politicizing a criminal matter, it has the most disturbing historical echos, it's profoundly troubling from an ethical and a perspective.