MSNBC Accuses House GOP of McCarthyism, Praises Peter Strzok’s ‘Integrity’

Following Thursday’s morning session of senior FBI official Peter Strzok testifying before Congress about anti-Trump text messages he sent during the 2016 campaign, MSNBC anchor Chris Jansing and her panel of paid NBC News analysts were unified in their condemnation of House Republicans and praise for Strzok. GOP members were compared to Joseph McCarthy while Strzok was laughably hailed for his supposed “integrity.”

As the hearing adjourned for its midday recess in the 1:00 p.m. ET hour, Jansing sneered: “I just checked the latest numbers. Congress has a 19% approval rating. You could make an argument watching the last three or four hours of that, that that exactly is the reason why.” Former Obama Justice Department official and MSNBC analyst Matt Miller ranted: “You know, I think the behavior of Chairman Goodlate and some of the other members was appalling.”

 

 

Miller continued:

It was like really watching something out of the ’50s, out of the McCarthy era, where you see someone brought up, ordered to answer questions he can’t possibly answer. It was really an appalling piece of behavior from the leadership of that committee.

Moments later, Barack Obama’s former CIA Director and NBC News Contributor John Brennan absurdly applauded Strzok: “Well, I’m personally glad that Peter Strzok had an opportunity to talk publicly about this so that the American people could see his professionalism as well as what I think is his integrity.” Brennan further declared: “He is – has been an outstanding FBI agent and counterintelligence officer who has been responsible, personally and directly, for many of the counterintelligence successes this country has enjoyed.”

The ex-Obama administration official lamented that the hearing “demonstrated some of the craven politics right now that unfortunately has infected the national security/law enforcement realm,” before reiterating: “But Pete, I think, did a great job.”

Former U.S. Attorney and MSNBC contributor Joy Vance was next to bash the congressional committee meeting: “The efforts by Congress to engage in this rigamarole designed to make political points at the expense of the FBI’s credibility and the important work that they’re doing here, I thought, was a moment of embarrassment for this body.”

NBC News Security Analyst and former FBI Assistant Director Frank Figliuzzi followed just seconds later with yet a another smear of the proceedings:

The counterintelligence professionals in the FBI who are watching are probably coming to the same conclusion that I am, which is that there’s only one person who can sit and watch this travesty and enjoy it, and his name is Vladimir Putin. The Russian government, the Russian intelligence services have as their goal the sewing of discord and disarray in our institutions. And that’s exactly what we were watching today.

Minutes later, Jansing teed up Brennan to agree with Figliuzzi’s assessment: “I want to come back to you on what we just heard from Frank Figliuzzi, which is how Vladimir Putin is viewing all of this....How do you think he is viewing what we’re seeing here in the halls of Congress, or in a hearing room of Congress?”

Predictably, Brennan responded:

Well, I agree with Frank, that Vladimir Putin must be very happy, as well as Russian intelligence security services, because of the discord that’s being sewn in the halls of Congress here. And that Mr. Trump continues to pursue policies and actions and making statements that very much are in keeping with what Russian foreign policy and intelligence objectives are.

So I think that Mr. Putin must be looking with quite a bit of glee in terms of what just transpired in the halls of Congress and this committee meeting that, I think, really was a mockery of the oversight function and responsibility that is supposed to be a bipartisan effort to try to make sure that we keep this country strong and safe.

He then blasted Republicans for “taking these cheap shots” at Strzok, which he labeled  “unconscionable.”

MSNBC hosts can always rely on the cable channel’s cadre of professional liberal pundits to tell  them exactly want they want to hear.

Here are excerpts of the lengthy July 12 discussion:         

1:12 PM ET

(...)

CHRIS JANSING: I just checked the latest numbers. Congress has a 19% approval rating. You could make an argument watching the last three or four hours of that, that that exactly is the reason why. But what did you make of what you saw? What was your big takeaway?

MATT MILLER [MSNBC JUSTICE & SECURITY ANALYST]: You know, I think the behavior of Chairman Goodlate and some of the other members was appalling. What you saw – the clip that you were just showing at the beginning of this hearing. Peter Strzok is still an FBI agent, he is an employee of the FBI and he is there today under orders of the FBI not to answer questions about the Mueller probe because it could compromise that probe. Some of the questions he would answer would presumably expose grand jury information. Some could expose classified information.  

And you have the chairman of the committee threatening him with criminal contempt, threatening to refer him to the Department of Justice for potential criminal charges if he disobeys that order. It was the worst behavior. It was like really watching something out of the ’50s, out of the McCarthy era, where you see someone brought up, ordered to answer questions he can’t possibly answer. It was really an appalling piece of behavior from the leadership of that committee.

(...)

JOHN BRENNAN [FMR. CIA DIRECTOR, OBAMA ADMIN.]: Well, I’m personally glad that Peter Strzok had an opportunity to talk publicly about this so that the American people could see his professionalism as well as what I think is his integrity. We’re all imperfect human beings and I think Pete would like to be able to have back some of the actions that he took, but there’s no indication whatsoever in what he said, or in fact, in the Department of Justice’s Inspector General report, that indicates any personal views, political views that he may have held, like all rest of us, had any influence or impact on his professional responsibilities.

I think he was able to handle those questions in a very professional manner. Here’s Pete Strzok, who’s done more for the national security over the last 20-plus years than I think many of those members of Congress put together. He is – has been an outstanding FBI agent and counterintelligence officer who has been responsible, personally and directly, for many of the counterintelligence successes this country has enjoyed. So I was very pleased to see Pete speak very openly about this, but also, I think it demonstrated some of the craven politics right now that unfortunately has infected the national security/law enforcement realm. But Pete, I think, did a great job.

(...)

JOY VANCE [FMR. U.S. ATTORNEY]: The efforts by Congress to engage in this rigamarole designed to make political points at the expense of the FBI’s credibility and the important work that they’re doing here, I thought, was a moment of embarrassment for this body.

JANSING: Frank, you used to be with the FBI, the former Assistant Director for Counterintelligence. How do you think that the folks back at the FBI – and I’m not suggesting they’re sitting there, sitting in their office desk watching this, but they’re going to see clips of it, they’ll watch it on the evening news or on cable tonight. What’s going to be their feeling about walking away from this and what happened today in front of that committee?

FRANK FIGLIUZZI [FMR. FBI ASST. DIRECTOR FOR COUNTERINTELLIGENCE]: Chris, they likely are watching with great interest. The counterintelligence professionals in the FBI who are watching are probably coming to the same conclusion that I am, which is that there’s only one person who can sit and watch this travesty and enjoy it, and his name is Vladimir Putin. The Russian government, the Russian intelligence services have as their goal the sewing of discord and disarray in our institutions. And that’s exactly what we were watching today.

My second thought is, as an FBI professional, law enforcement/intelligence professional, is the complete disregard for the sanctity of a pending criminal investigation that was – that we saw today when they’re telling Pete Strzok you can’t consult with FBI counsel to ensure that you’re not revealing or obstructing or in any way impeding this investigation, was a travesty. That’s what I think the professionals and Americans should be thinking when they’re watching this.

(...)

1:19 PM ET

JANSING: And John Brennan, I want to come back to you on what we just heard from Frank Figliuzzi, which is how Vladimir Putin is viewing all of this. Always would be an important question, but I would argue even more so because you have the President of the United States who, after a few days in the UK and then at one of his resorts over there, is going to be meeting one on one with Vladimir Putin. How do you think he is viewing what we’re seeing here in the halls of Congress, or in a hearing room of Congress?

BRENNAN: Well, I agree with Frank, that Vladimir Putin must be very happy, as well as Russian intelligence security services, because of the discord that’s being sewn in the halls of Congress here. And that Mr. Trump continues to pursue policies and actions and making statements that very much are in keeping with what Russian foreign policy and intelligence objectives are.

So I think that Mr. Putin must be looking with quite a bit of glee in terms of what just transpired in the halls of Congress and this committee meeting that, I think, really was a mockery of the oversight function and responsibility that is supposed to be a bipartisan effort to try to make sure that we keep this country strong and safe. But unfortunately, I think Chairman Goodlate and Chairman Gowdy demonstrated that they are more interested in protecting Mr. Trump and preventing the continued investigation from moving forward. And taking these cheap shots – and that’s what I call them, cheap shots – at Pete Strzok, I think, were just unconscionable. And so, that’s why I think Mr. Putin and other Russian officials are very happy with what has been happening here in the States.

JASING: I don’t want to overstate what your point is, so let me ask you this even more directly. There used to be a time, as you well know, even when you were in government, where – I mean, grandstanding’s nothing new in terms of these hearings and it happened – but when it came to issues of national and global security, I think you often saw something different from members of Congress. You saw something that was a concern, an understanding that what happens inside, for example, one of those rooms can have an impact elsewhere. Are you suggesting that what we’re seeing now actually is something that could weaken us both in terms of national security and in terms of global security?

BRENNAN: Well, I think over the course of my government career, I saw both sides of the aisle get involved in partisan politics when it came to intelligence and national security matters. But unfortunately, I think we have reached a new low in terms of how the members of Congress on the Republican side are doing everything possible to support and defend and make excuses for some of the activities that are being uncovered as part of – as the investigation goes forward. So I do think it has a very detrimental impact on our national security. I think it’s something that all Americans should be concerned about.

And again, not being a Republican or a Democrat, I just think it’s critically important for the representatives of the American people to pursue these issues with the greatest integrity and honesty. And what I saw today was this grandstanding and politicking at the expense of our national security. I think this really needs to come to an end. How it’s going to come to an end, I don’t know. But unfortunately, this polarization is being fostered by Mr. Trump in terms of the types of things that he says and what he tweets out. This needs to stop because it is having a damaging impact on our national security.

(...)

JASING: Matt, Lisa Page, as she pointed out, they wanted her there today. Now it’s going to be tomorrow. Chairman Goodlate, Trey Gowdy are expected to have some tough questions for her as well. Based on what you saw today, what should she be expecting?

MILLER: I think she’ll be expecting a bunch of very unfair questions. Look, they – she was willing to come in and do an interview yesterday. She had to delay that because she wasn’t able to review the FBI documents they planned to ask her about. It seems like she’s been able to view those today, so she’ll be back in tomorrow.

And I think she’ll make the same point you heard Pete Strzok make at the beginning of his testimony, which is really the critical point that kind of gets lost in this back and forth. Which is, for all these accusations against him, for all these conspiracy theories that he was biased against then-candidate Trump, now President Trump, if he really wanted to take action to hurt Donald Trump, he could have picked up the phone and called any reporter in the country in the fall of 2016 and exploded Donald Trump’s campaign and probably prevented him from becoming President of the United States by exposing the investigation that they were conducting and by exposing some of the facts that they had uncovered.

He didn’t do that because it was his duty as a sworn FBI agent not to do that. So for everything that he said in his texts, and for all his personal opinions, you know, the real point, when you step back away from all of this, is the actions he took. And the actions he took during that campaign were actions that did nothing at all to hurt then-candidate Trump get elected to the presidency.

JANSING: Yeah, John Brennan, you were mentioning in your time that it wasn’t unusual necessarily for people to go into their corners, for there to be political partisanship over things. I want to read a couple of things that the president tweeted. “Ex-FBI lawyer Lisa Page today defied a House of Representatives issued subpoena to testify before Congress. Wow. But is anyone really surprised? Together with her lover, FBI agent Peter Strzok, she worked on the rigged witch hunt, perhaps the most tainted and corrupt case ever.”

In a second tweet, Trump wrote, “How can the rigged witch runt proceed when it was started, influenced and worked on, for an extended period of time by former FBI agent/Lover Peter Strzok? Read his hate filled and totally biased Emails and the answer is clear!” You mentioned how we’ve gotten to a whole new level, but what is your reaction when you, who spent so much of your life and service seeing things like that from the leader of the free world, from the President of the United States, weighing in on something that is arguably a very serious – should be a very serious conversation?

BRENNAN: Well, I think it’s a sad commentary that almost nothing that Mr. Trump does anymore surprises me because he continues to denigrate as well as to taint the office of the presidency. These comments, the personal attacks, the types of things that he has said, are far beneath the dignity of that great office. And the things that he says are heard around this country and around the world. It’s not just the substance of what he says, which frequently is wrong and just downright misleading, but also it’s the nature of those comments that are acerbic, they are nasty, they are mean-spirited. And this is what Mr. Trump has done for most of his life.

Unfortunately, he continues to do this. And now he is overseas. And he has said things about our friends and allies that I think make many Americans who are knowledgeable about what NATO has done over the years to help our security, I think many of us hang our head in shame over what Mr. Trump is saying publicly. So it’s very unfortunate, but it is, I think, in keeping with Mr. Trump’s persona. And I think some of the things I think Peter Strzok had mentioned about he had these very strong political views were a result of his reaction to the public statements and actions of Mr. Trump when he was a candidate.

(...)


Please support NewsBusters today! (a 501c3 non-profit production of the Media Research Center)

DONATE
CyberAlerts Congress Conservatives & Republicans Liberals & Democrats MSNBC Video Chris Jansing John Brennan Peter Strzok