Republican Congressman Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida was grilled by the tirelessly snarky CNN anchor, Chris Cuomo, in a lengthy 13-minute- “interview” on Friday morning's New Day. From the very beginning, Gaetz was attacked, insulted, interrupted, and berated by Cuomo over his “partisan” position calling for Mueller to be fired for conflicts of interest on the Russia probe.
CNN started by playing a clip of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein being asked by House Republicans about the ethical implications of the Russia investigation being conducted by “partisan Democrat” FBI agents. New Day host Chris Cuomo snarked after the clip, “So partisanship is certainly at play in that hearing.”
“Again, this comes amid these growing calls, almost exclusively from Republican lawmakers, saying this probe is biased and he should be fired,” Cuomo added before introducing his guest, Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz, as “among that number” calling the probe’s neutrality into question.
Below Cuomo, the CNN chyron read, “Republicans take aim at Mueller, claim Russia probe ‘biased’” and yes “biased” was in scare quotes if you didn’t get the picture already where CNN was going with this segment from Cuomo’s loaded opener.
Gaetz immediately pushed back on Cuomo’s rhetoric:
“I will say it's not just Republicans making these calls. Harvard University release a poll where more than half of the American people believe there is a conflict of interest that has infected the Mueller investigation,” the Republican lawmaker stated the facts.
Gaetz added, “We just need the Justice Department to step up and seize control. I don’t know where the Attorney General and Rod Rosenstein are in this but I think they need to fire Mueller and cure us of these conflicts.”
Cuomo interjected to doubt the veracity of the Harvard poll, and outrageously denied the words he said just a few seconds before.
“First, polls are not equal. I did say not exclusively Republican--” he huffed.
“It's Harvard, Chris,” Gaetz quipped.
“What do you know that Rod Rosenstein does not?” Cuomo shot back. “He's in charge of the situation. He knows the people better than you and he knows what is going on better than you and you heard him there saying that's not my concern, we can handle it,” the CNN host lectured.
Gaetz then explained to Cuomo what has been known for weeks about the bias among certain FBI agents, as Cuomo acted oblivious to the conflicts of interest:
Well, Chris, all the American people can see the text messages that were forced to be released because Devin Nunes was about to subpoena them, but time and again, you don't only see the reflection of people’s political beliefs, you see Peter Strzok, an essential FBI agent, that not only worked on the Hillary Clinton e-mail scandal, but also, he was drafted under the Mueller probe, saying that he thinks Hillary Clinton should’ve won the election, 100 million to zero. He didn’t think there was a single person who could reasonably vote for Donald Trump, and then you see that he calls himself the insurance policy for the country, that he has multiple ways he can save the American people and he praises his girlfriend's role in laying out a plan to disrupt the president’s election back in August, and so, these aren’t just the expression of beliefs this is an action plan to disrupt the presidency of Donald Trump--
But Cuomo couldn’t stop with the dismissive attitude towards Gaetz. “That’s your interpretation,” he slammed, “An inspector general is a heck of a lot more independent than you or any of the partisan,” he snarked.
“So why are you concerned beyond the politics of a probe that you don’t like?” Cuomo asked the loaded question.
Cuomo erroneously claimed there was only person who Republicans had a problem with, so Gaetz explained how it wasn’t just Strzok who was found to be heavily biased:
Let's name another. Bruce Ohr, one of the top officials at the Department of Justice. His wife, Nellie Ohr, was an employee at Fusion GPS a company getting paid by the FBI and the DNC potentially to go and collude with Russians to pay Russians to dig up dirt on the president. How about the fact that more than half of the people on the Mueller probe donated to either Obama or Clinton and none of them donated to Trump. This is not just the case of one person. This is pervasive conflict of interest. It's as if when Bob Mueller picked his team, he was fishing in the Never Trump aquarium, Chris.
But Cuomo again acted as if Gaetz had not made any point at all, continuing to hammer him for his conservative “bias:”
“Bob Mueller interviewed with the president considering a position within the administration. He has been a Republican longer than you had even considered being a Republican,” Cuomo quipped. “He is a decorated war veteran who ran the FBI and who everybody in your party said was an excellent choice. What has changed since then other than your disenchantment with the direction of this probe?” Cuomo asked
Gaetz explained that Republicans have been trying to get a special counsel to investigate the bias of the probe for over four months now. “So it’s not as if these are new revelations,” he added.
Cuomo questioned why there would be a need for a special counsel when they only investigate crimes. Gaetz answered that there may have been prosecutorial miconduct, particularly when you had agents openly protecting Hillary Clinton’s investigation from the normal procedures.
Once again, Cuomo boiled this down to Republican grumbling.
"Do you remember that during the probe, Hillary Clinton and her supporters were making this same argument you are making right now, these people in the FBI hate me, they are all coming up to Comey and they’re saying she’s dirty, she’s a liar, these Clintons always lie. I don’t remember you being concerned, about their obvious political animus,” Cuomo grinned smugly at Gaetz.
But Gaetz wouldn’t fall for that trap.“Chris, there is actual evidence that Hillary Clinton got special treatment,” he reiterated. “It's literally a reading of the e-mails from Andy McCabe saying ‘Hillary Clinton is going to get special treatment.’ So again, these are not opinions on my part, they are the actual messages that people in the FBI were sending to one another,” he slammed.
After more examples of bias in the agency, Cuomo shrugged and said, “You will find political opinions in everybody in government,” as if that’s what this was about.
“This is not an opinion, it's action, Chris,” Gaetz argued, offering more examples from the released texts. After pointing out that millions of dollars have been spent on this investigation that’s led to nowhere, Cuomo again tried to put the congressman in his place, by saying that time and money shouldn’t matter.
“I’m saying, if you’ve been around them, if you’ve monitored them, the idea that this investigation is taking too long is absurd. They always take a long time,” he taunted.
“This is very intricate stuff that they’re looking at and they’re not doing it with a lot of help from you guys. You’re caught up in the political mishegas of it,” the CNN host lectured again.
Cuomo moved on from Mueller to badger Gaetz over-and-over again on why he voted for the tax bill:
CUOMO: If you’re worried about government waste and tax money, you should’ve felt strong about this tax bill then Congressman, because you just blew up our deficit with it.
GAETZ: No, no, no you got the wrong guy on that Chris. I voted against the budget to blow up the deficit.
CUOMO: I am talking about this tax bill. The tax bill.
GAETZ: Yeah, that tax bill should have been accompanied by spending cuts. I think a criticism--
CUOMO: Did you vote for the tax bill or no?
GAETZ: I voted for the tax bill but I did not vote for the budget that allowed it to occur at the same time--
CUOMO: But you voted for the tax bill. I am saying if you want to be a penny pincher --
GAETZ: Well sure. I am not going to hold taxpayers hostage--
CUOMO: You were just pound foolish in that regard.
GAETZ: Absolutely false Chris. We should be doing spending cuts. The president has promised that welfare reform is next and we will try to get the deficit under control because the criticism that we are blowing up the deficit is a fair one and we actually need to get in and cut spending. I agree with that.
CUOMO: I am not feeling you on this. Help me understand your position on this. You can't look at this objectively or subjectively, this tax bill, and see it's good for the deficit and even if you look at the magic of growth that you guys were all hoping for. You voted for it.
GAETZ: I voted for a budget that would have demanded simultaneous spending cuts. Chris, at the same time, like, we have the congress unfortunately that acts far too linearly. They do one thing at a time
CUOMO: Why did you vote on the tax bill if you care about the deficit?
GAETZ: Chris, because I think we shouldn’t hold taxpayers hostage because people in Washington don't know how to cut spending. We do need growth in this economy. We do need to be able to deliver on the promise of a rising tide for all Americans. We have to cut taxes to get there.
CUOMO: Why do you have to cut taxes to get there?We have growth right now and Alan Greenspan said you don't need a tax cut
GAETZ: A lot of that growth is expecting a tax cut. It’s anticipatory
Gaetz used the booming stock market as an example of investor’s confidence in the economy because of impending tax cuts.
But Cuomo didn’t get it and kept pushing, asking why we needed tax cuts when the stock market was at an “all-time high.”
“The stock market is at an all-time high, and by the way something your network never gives the president credit for,” Gaetz sniped.
“We talk about it all the time!” Cuomo frowned. “Matt, stick to the facts. Stick to the facts!” he lectured.
“The idea that we don't talk about it and talk about his share of the responsibility as well as the fact that Trump always said before he ran, and even a little during it, stop looking at Wall Street as an indicator of Main Street, that's deceptive!” he stated.
“Stick to the facts. I don't see how you can look at it and say I am taking care of the deficit, I voted for this tax bill, they just don't go together,” Cuomo badgered again.
“You’re right. That's why we have to cut spending!” Gaetz began to argue but it fell on deaf ears.
The pair talked over each other after this, with Cuomo sticking to his talking points and not conceding to Gaetz’s arguments about how to cut spending. Finally, the CNN host was fed up and ended the segment by mocking the GOP representative:
You can't make strong arguments. If you have the facts -- if you don't have the facts argue the law, and if you don't have the facts, argue the law, and if you don’t have neither, bang on the table and start yelling. Look what you’re doing. CNN is not your problem. Your position is. You’re the one who voted for this tax bill. If it blows up the deficit you got to own it!
“ You are creating your own problem” Cuomo added before wrapping up the interview.