PANIC! CNN Is in Need of a Safe Space After a Delusional FREAK OUT Over Barr Presser

Folks, this was the moment we’ve been waiting over two years for and it is glorious. On Thursday morning ahead of the Mueller report’s release and after a press conference by Attorney General Bill Barr, CNN and it’s nine-person panel suffered a meltdown of biblical proportions, lashing out like Adam Schiff campaign workers at Barr’s “excessive and suspicious” “political commercial” offering “gratuitous statements” for the President and against the press.

Co-host Jake Tapper spoke before the panel of liberal analysts and journalists, setting the table by wondering “why did the attorney general do this” since “[w]e were told it was just to be transparent...but it actually was what the Democrats feared it would be, which was the attorney general getting out there and getting his narrative, his take on it as vigorously as possible.”

 

 

Chief legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin was the first to offer comments fit for a straight-jacket, asserting that Barr put on “an extraordinary political commercial for the President” that “was a discussion of the sympathy and the difficulty and the challenge that the President faced, and how not withstanding all of that, the White House cooperated” even though Trump was never interviewed in-person.

Legal and national security analyst Carrie Cordero was even more blunt (click “expand”):

I have to say, the attorney general had an opportunity this morning to rise above the politics and to adhere to institutional Justice Department just sticking to what the process was that he was supposed to talk about and which he said he was actually talking about, and he blew it. I mean, he just came out and to say that the President took, “no act that deprived the investigation of witnesses or documents,” when as Jeffrey just said, the President, like other presidents have in the past with investigations, been willing to be either — willing to be interviewed by the special counsel's team in addition to all the things the President tweeted against witnesses and people who were involved in the case that could potentially be taken by them as aggressive or intimidating. It's just not a true statement, what the attorney general said just now, and that piece, he should have stuck to the process because on the process, he actually is being consistent with his commitment to transparency.

She added that he should “have stuck to the actual process” and “risen above the politics of it,” but instead gave “[t]hese gratuitous statements about the media, the gratuitous statements about the way the President has been impacted by the investigation, that was completely inappropriate for the attorney general.”

Tapper soberly pointed out that “the American people should be happy that there is no evidence that...there was conspiracy by any American knowingly or any member of the trump team,” but legal analyst Laura Coates didn’t seem to think that based on her behavior (click “expand”):

It was excessive and suspicious to be pounding the table and pounding it over American people's head, particularly the looming question for many is if that was the case, why were there so many lies after the fact? Also in the first ten minutes of his entire discussion, I thought to myself, didn't the President first once ask “where is my Roy Cohn?” Oh, well, I guess we may have found him today because he should be pleased with the person who now serves at his pleasure, because he spent an inordinate time talking about, I mean, the Oprah moment of the feelings of the President of the United States. You've got to be kidding me. What I thought to myself is, well, naturally you would have these ten or so discrepancies and differences because you wrote an 18 to 19-page memo before you got the job outlining why you thought obstruction was going to be completely an untenable position to take, and now you have a controversial dynamic at play here where you essentially said, well my self fulfilling prophecy is complete because I have the prerogative to say what happened. I have one part that I honed in when he said “apart from whether the acts were obstructive, this evidence of non-motives weighs heavily against any allegation.” Are we dismissing the very notes — the obstruction element that concerned two former Presidents of the United States? He is the head of the executive branch. To be dismissive of, aside from the play, how was your night, Mrs. Lincoln? That was the moment I took from this and thought, well, I'm sorry, Mr. Barr, but did you intend to give us a sound piece, a sound bite of the President of the United States or what you intended of the processes Carrie was talking about?

Yeesh.

Fellow ex-Obama official-turned CNN host Jim Sciutto suggested that there the “door” could be “still open” to criminal charges regarding Trump-Russia coordination, but I guess do whatever makes you happy, Jim.

Of course, a meltdown wouldn’t be complete without a Trump-Nixon comparison, so here was Toobin checking that box:

And can I just talk about this issue of the President's concerns about leaks? You know who else was concerned about leaks? Richard Nixon. And he set up a group called The Plumbers. Get it plumbers, leaks. And it was illegal. It was one of the reasons he was impeached. And the idea that being frustrated by leaks is exculpatory is exactly backwards. That a concern about leaks and response to them can be evidence of criminal intent. That's what it was in Watergate, and potentially that’s what it was here.

Inside Politics host John King was indignant too, complaining that Barr never mentioned how people close to the President were charged as part of the Mueller probe, so he summarized Barr’s thinking this way: “I took that as ‘these are my crib notes. Don't read the book.’”

Tapper tried to push back on the notion that a political attorney is unprecedented and Toobin agreed by citing how John F. Kennedy had his brother Bobby as AG, but then moved on (click “expand”):

However, there are institutional interests that have, by tradition, made the attorney general different from the secretary of commerce. That the idea that law enforcement should operate at some remove from the political interests of the president, and if you look at attorneys general who are greatly admired in the history of the justice department like Edward Leavy who was the attorney general under Gerald Ford, who was a revered figure in the Justice Department because he took the Justice Department out of the politics of the Watergate era. This was the precise opposite. This was a political speech endorsing the President's behavior beyond the legalities of the situation and that's just not what the attorney general is supposed to do.

After she complained in the previous hour that the bar for collusion was too high, chief political analyst Gloria Borger whined: “[T]his is an attorney general who took it upon himself to say that the President essentially had non-corrupt motives, period. End of sentence. He was frustrated. He was being attacked. I don't know one president who hasn't been frustrated and who isn't being attacked when he's in office.”

To see the relevant transcript from April 18's CNN Newsroom, click “expand.”

CNN Newsroom
April 18, 2019
9:58 a.m. Eastern

JAKE TAPPER: There is this part of his comments that is going to be highly debated and discussed over the next several days, weeks, months, about whether or not he was bending over backwards to try to put him in the President's shoes, be empathetic to President Trump, but there are those who will argue it is relevant to the President's state of mind in talking about obstruction of justice. There are details that are fascinating that again we have to wait to see what's in the actual report and this is why so many people have been critical of the attorney general talking about this, people talking about this press conference as Bill Barr's second summary letter in the sense that he's getting out his interpretation of events before we actually see the actual report, and one of them has to do with, and Jim was talking about this, whether or not anybody on the Trump team had anything to do with pushing these stolen emails that were published by Wikileaks, Guccifer 2.0, and D.C. Leaks, the latter two, D.C. Leaks and Guccifer 2.0, being Russian agents. Wikileaks taking information, we assume from the Russians, although we don't know that definitively, and knowing that under applicable law, publication of these types of materials would not be criminal unless the publisher also participated in the underlying hacking conspiracy. That's something that we’re all going to be poring but bigger picture, but the bigger picture — the big question is why did the attorney general do this? We were told it was just to be transparent, that he was just going to be talking about how executive privilege was not waived and his decisions on redactions, etc. But it actually was what the Democrats feared it would be, which was the attorney general getting out there and getting his narrative, his take on it as vigorously as possible. 

(....)

10:00 a.m. Eastern

JEFFREY TOOBIN: It was much more ringing in its endorsement of the President's conduct than even the press conference several weeks ago. I mean, it was an extraordinary political commercial for the President. I mean, this was a discussion of the sympathy and the difficulty and the challenge that the President faced, and how not withstanding all of that, the White House cooperated. However, he left out the fact that the single most important piece of evidence that the President — that the Mueller investigation could have gotten they didn't get, which was an interview with the President of the United States. So this enormous, the President faced an unprecedented situation, and there was speculation in the news media, and isn't it a very sad thing for poor Donald Trump? But all of that is put forward based on a record that doesn't include a sworn testimony from the President of the United States. 

(....)

10:01 a.m. Eastern

CARRIR CORDERO: Exactly, we're going to look at what is the factual scenario that the special counsel laid out and — and was the attorney general and deputy attorney general's judgment as a matter of law correct and so we'll be able to see that, but I have to say, the attorney general had an opportunity this morning to rise above the politics and to adhere to institutional Justice Department just sticking to what the process was that he was supposed to talk about and which he said he was actually talking about, and he blew it. I mean, he just came out and to say that the President took, “no act that deprived the investigation of witnesses or documents,” when as Jeffrey just said, the President, like other presidents have in the past with investigations, been willing to be either — willing to be interviewed by the special counsel's team in addition to all the things the President tweeted against witnesses and people who were involved in the case that could potentially be taken by them as aggressive or intimidating. It's just not a true statement, what the attorney general said just now, and that piece, he should have stuck to the process because on the process, he actually is being consistent with his commitment to transparency. We'll see the report, but he says he's giving most of it to members of Congress, even the information that is redacted in the public report. Congress will then be able to go and challenge the 6-e information in court if they choose to. 

(....)

10:03 a.m. Eastern

CORDERO: If he would have stuck to the actual process, then I think he would have risen above the politics of it and he would have been able to say that he is just performing his role as attorney general. These gratuitous statements about the media, the gratuitous statements about the way the President has been impacted by the investigation, that was completely inappropriate for the attorney general. 

TAPPER: And Laura, I mean, I have to say, six or seven times saying the same sentence over and over and over. And look, theoretically, the American people should be happy that there is no evidence that Mueller could find. Mueller, highly respected investigator and law enforcement official, he could not find sufficient evidence that there was conspiracy by any American knowingly or any member of the trump team. That's great news. But Barr repeating it over and over and over again six or seven times, I mean, that's a little excessive. Even in Washington, D.C. where people stay on message like it's a mantra. 

LAURA COATES: It was excessive and suspicious to be pounding the table and pounding it over American people's head, particularly the looming question for many is if that was the case, why were there so many lies after the fact? Also in the first ten minutes of his entire discussion, I thought to myself, didn't the President first once ask “where is my Roy Cohn?” Oh, well, I guess we may have found him today because he should be pleased with the person who now serves at his pleasure, because he spent an inordinate time talking about, I mean, the Oprah moment of the feelings of the President of the United States. You've got to be kidding me. What I thought to myself is, well, naturally you would have these ten or so discrepancies and differences because you wrote an 18 to 19-page memo before you got the job outlining why you thought obstruction was going to be completely an untenable position to take, and now you have a controversial dynamic at play here where you essentially said, well my self fulfilling prophecy is complete because I have the prerogative to say what happened. I have one part that I honed in when he said “apart from whether the acts were obstructive, this evidence of non-motives weighs heavily against any allegation.” Are we dismissing the very notes — the obstruction element that concerned two former Presidents of the United States? He is the head of the executive branch. To be dismissive of, aside from the play, how was your night, Mrs. Lincoln? That was the moment I took from this and thought, well, I'm sorry, Mr. Barr, but did you intend to give us a sound piece, a sound bite of the President of the United States or what you intended of the processes Carrie was talking about?

(....)

10:08 a.m. Eastern

JIM SCIUTTO: It leaves open two possibilities, though, right? Because if his legal standard is that you have to participate in the theft of the materials, it leaves open the possibility, one, foreknowledge, that indeed, the Trump campaign or Stone or others got a heads-up that these materials were coming out, but — and you’re the lawyers here, but does it not also leave open the possibility they might have helped disseminate. Because if he's saying it's only criminal if you steal, is that door still open? 

(....)

10:11 a.m. Eastern

TOOBIN: And can I just talk about this issue of the President's concerns about leaks? You know who else was concerned about leaks? Richard Nixon. And he set up a group called The Plumbers. Get it plumbers, leaks. And it was illegal. It was one of the reasons he was impeached. And the idea that being frustrated by leaks is exculpatory is exactly backwards. 

GLORIA BORGER: Or something new. 

TOOBIN: That a concern about leaks and response to them can be evidence of criminal intent. That's what it was in Watergate, and potentially that’s what it was here.

DANA BASH: Never mind that it's important for us as the public to know, The Washington Post reporting about Michael Flynn led to Michael Flynn being fired, which would not have happened despite the actions he has admitted to, if not for the report. 

JOHN KING: To that point, the attorney general was summarizing the Mueller report. He did not mention that six people close to the President of the United States had been charged —

TAPPER: Including the national security adviser. 

KING: — including the national security adviser, including an attorney, Michael Cohen, including the chairman of the campaign, the deputy chairman of the campaign. Never mentioned that. Never mentioned there were crimes committed and so I took that as these are my crib notes. Don't read the book. That's what the attorney general was just trying to do with that statement. 

(....)

10:19 a.m. Eastern

TAPPER: The idea of the attorney general as this nonpartisan, above reproach, never doing anything to protect the executive branch or people that they like, I don't think that squares with history. I mean —

TOOBIN: I mean, John Kennedy's attorney general was his brother. So, literally. So, you know, I think we are all aware that the attorney general is a member of the president's cabinet, is invariably a political supporter of the president, and there's nothing wrong with that. That's part of how the system is set up. However, there are institutional interests that have, by tradition, made the attorney general different from the secretary of commerce. That the idea that law enforcement should operate at some remove from the political interests of the president, and if you look at attorneys general who are greatly admired in the history of the justice department like Edward Leavy who was the attorney general under Gerald Ford, who was a revered figure in the Justice Department because he took the Justice Department out of the politics of the Watergate era. This was the precise opposite. This was a political speech endorsing the President's behavior beyond the legalities of the situation and that's just not what the attorney general is supposed to do.

TAPPER: Is not the norm, though, among attorneys general?

TOOBIN: It's not done at all.

[PANEL SHOUTS, “NO”]

SCIUTTO: Saturday night massacre —  Saturday night massacre, the attorney general 

BORGER: Right, quit.

SCIUTTO: — refused to carry out the president's order and quit, as did the deputy. .

BORGER: And this is —

SCIUTTO: Because they thought the President was giving them an order they should not have done.

BORGER: And this is an attorney general who took it upon himself to say that the President essentially had non-corrupt motives, period. End of sentence. He was frustrated. He was being attacked. I don't know one president who hasn't been frustrated and who isn't being attacked when he's in office.

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