NBC Channels Dem Fears of Trump and Barr ‘In Cahoots’

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On Friday, NBC’s Today show couldn’t decide if Attorney General William Barr should be celebrated for his criticism of President Trump in an ABC News interview or suspected of being “in cahoots” with the President. As the broadcast hyped Barr lamenting Trump’s penchant for tweeting about ongoing Justice Department cases, the coverage repeatedly noted Democrats “not buying” the public comments.

“The President this week has attacked the prosecutors in the case that ended with his friend Roger Stone’s conviction, the judge overseeing it, even the lead juror,” correspondent Peter Alexander bemoaned at the top of the report. He then touted: “Now, in an extraordinary set of comments, the Attorney General William Barr is telling the President to knock it off.”

 

 

Despite that excited declaration, Alexander still parroted warnings from Democrats that Barr could not be trusted: “Democrats still not buying Barr’s brush-back and the President himself so far uncharacteristically silent.”

A soundbite ran of Barr telling ABC’s Pierre Thomas: “Public statements and tweets made about the department, about cases pending in the department, and about judges before whom we have cases, make it impossible for me to do my job.” Moments later, Alexander explained: “The White House saying in a statement, ‘The President was not bothered by the comments at all,’ adding that, ‘The President has full faith and confidence in Attorney General Barr to do his job and uphold the law.’”

Rather than let the statements from Barr and the White House stand on their own, Alexander immediately turned to the President’s political opponents: “Democrats unimpressed. Speaker Nancy Pelosi blasting the administration.” A clip played of Pelosi ranting:

The President is again trying to manipulate federal law enforcement to serve his political interests. He thinks he’s above the law. AG Barr has deeply damaged the rule of law by withdrawing the DOJ’s sentencing recommendation. This all must be investigated.

Following the taped report, co-host Savannah Guthrie skeptically asked about Barr’s comments: “Did you get a sense that this was coordinated or that Barr had at least given a heads up to the White House that he’s going to go out there and say these things?”

Alexander seized on conspiratorial complaints from liberal lawmakers:

The President’s aides say they knew Barr was doing this interview but they insist that the President did not know it would come with a reprimand. Democrats, though, they’re unconvinced. The say don’t look at what Barr says, look at what he does and what he has done, they say, repeatedly protecting the President. One of the Democratic impeachment prosecutors actually saying she would not be surprised if the President and the Attorney General were in cahoots on Barr’s public statement.

Even when a member of the Trump administration is critical of the President, the media are so suspicious they don’t know how to react.

Here is a transcript of the February 14 segment:

7:02 AM ET

(...)

PETER ALEXANDER: The President this week has attacked the prosecutors in the case that ended with his friend Roger Stone’s conviction, the judge overseeing it, even the lead juror. Now, in an extraordinary set of comments, the Attorney General William Barr is telling the President to knock it off. Democrats still not buying Barr’s brush-back and the President himself so far uncharacteristically silent.

Attorney General William Barr delivering a rare rebuke of his boss, President Trump.

WILLIAM BARR: Public statements and tweets made about the department, about cases pending in the department, and about judges before whom we have cases, make it impossible for me to do my job.

ALEXANDER: Barr, in an interview with ABC News, blasting the President’s Twitter attacks on the Justice Department’s prosecution of Roger Stone, a long-time friend of the President’s, convicted of witness tampering and lying to Congress.

BARR: I think it’s time so stop the tweeting about Department of Justice criminal cases.

ALEXANDER: The Senate’s top Republican backing up Barr.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL: The Attorney General says it’s getting in the way of doing his job, maybe the President should listen to the Attorney General.

ALEXANDER: The White House saying in a statement, “The President was not bothered by the comments at all,” adding that, “The President has full faith and confidence in Attorney General Barr to do his job and uphold the law.” Democrats unimpressed. Speaker Nancy Pelosi blasting the administration.

REP. NANCY PELOSI: The President is again trying to manipulate federal law enforcement to serve his political interests. He thinks he’s above the law. AG Barr has deeply damaged the rule of law by withdrawing the DOJ’s sentencing recommendation. This all must be investigated.

(...)

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE:  Peter, the White House response, when they say, “The President wasn’t bothered by these comments at all,” I mean, that is not the normal reaction to criticism from the White House or the President. Did you get a sense that this was coordinated or that Barr had at least given a heads up to the White House that he’s going to go out there and say these things?

ALEXANDER: Yeah, Savannah, you’re right. Remember when his former chief of staff John Kelly attacked the President? Well, he attacked back right away, that was just 24 hours ago. Different story this time. The President’s aides say they knew Barr was doing this interview but they insist that the President did not know it would come with a reprimand. Democrats, though, they’re unconvinced. The say don’t look at what Barr says, look at what he does and what he has done, they say, repeatedly protecting the President. One of the Democratic impeachment prosecutors actually saying she would not be surprised if the President and the Attorney General were in cahoots on Barr’s public statement.

And remember here, perhaps most importantly, the President already got what he wanted with the Justice Department. The Attorney General pushing for a lesser sentence for Stone.

(...)

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