MSNBC’s Tur and Obama Flack Fight Over Who Was Supposed to Smear Trump Before Election

On Tuesday, former CIA Director John Brennan appeared before a Senate committee to testify on what he knew of the allegations that members of Donald Trump’s campaign were in contact with the Russians. In Brennan’s statements, he explained how the investigation got started. For MSNBC’s spotty political historian, Katy Tur, this meant that someone in Obama administration was to blame for not leaking to the press so they could smear Trump before the election. But for one Obama lackey that blame rests on the media.

Tur’s interest in who should be blamed seemed to be piqued by NBC News investigative journalist Ken Dilanian. “I found that revealing. I also found it a little bit infuriating. Not in a partisan sense, but as a reporter,” he told her after noting that Brennan was well aware of the investigation. “It’s now clear the U.S. intelligence community and the Obama administration knew a lot more than they let on.

Why did we not know more about it then? What was the reasoning behind keeping it – keeping the cards close to the vest,” she demanded to know. Dilanian explained that “My reporting tells me that the Obama administration was very concerned about appearing to put their thumb on the scale in an election they were convinced Hillary Clinton was going to win.

Later on in the program, Tur invited Ned Price, a former spokesperson for the National Security Council, onto her program and grilled him about why the Obama administration didn’t leak the information to the press:

Ned, because we were just talking about the Obama administration not releasing that intelligence. Walk us through the reasoning on your end, why was this not made more public? Why was a bigger deal not made of this? Especially considering that this was a foreign power trying to interfere in the election. Why didn’t voters have a chance to know about that before they went to the polls?

A hilarious argument about who was to blame for not smearing Trump then ensued. “Well, Katie, I’d actually dispute the premise of your question. Voters did have an opportunity to know it. In fact they--” Price began to argue before Tur cut him off. “Did they know it – did they know the significance of it? Were they really forcefully made aware of it by U.S. officials,” she spat.

Well, Katy, we can only do so much,” Price exclaimed as he proceeded to ramble on about the intelligence community’s tedious verification process. “The other interesting thing about that day, Katy, October 7th, 2016, that is the same day that the Access Hollywood tape came out and that led to a media bonanza that covered that almost exclusively,” he noted as he shifted blame to the media. “So when you ask why we didn’t do more, some of this was taken out of our hands by the media coverage.

The MSNBC host had to make sure she got the last hit before quickly changing the subject. “Fair point, Ned. Although there is critics out there who would say that – would wonder why the administration didn’t more forcefully go out and try to really raise red flags about that reporting,” she chided.

This hilarious and ludicrous argument exposes just how desperate the media was, and still is, for anonymous sources to help knock the administration around. It also shows just how much they wanted to aid in the victory of Hillary Clinton. 

Transcript below:

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MSNBC Live
May 23, 2017
2:05:26 PM Eastern

(...)

KATY TUR: Ken, we’re learning a whole lot more than we knew before. Just cut through the fat for us because we’ve had a lot of testimonies, and sometimes all of this information can seem to jumble into one big blog-- blob.

KEN DILANIAN: So bottom line, John Brennan gave us a road map for how this FBI investigation got started. He said very clearly that he was aware of contacts between Trump associates and Russians. He was disturbed by it. He passed that information on to the FBI. We know the FBI then began investigating. I found that revealing. I also found it a little bit infuriating. Not in a partisan sense, but as a reporter. I, like all of my colleagues, were trying to learn everything we could back before the election about what the Russians were doing in their hacking and interference campaign and whether there were any ties to Russia. It’s now clear the U.S. intelligence community and the Obama administration knew a lot more than they let on.

TUR: We were – I remember this bubbling up back in the summer, especially around the time of the Democratic National Convention. Once those DNC e-mails were coming out, Donald Trump of course from that infamous news conference saying that he hopes Russia is going to release the e-mails if they have them, find them, he wanted to see them, Clinton’s e-mails. Why did we not know more about it then? What was the reasoning behind keeping it – keeping the cards close to the vest?

DILANIAN: My reporting tells me that the Obama administration was very concerned about appearing to put their thumb on the scale in an election they were convinced Hillary Clinton was going to win. They were also very concerned that the Russians would go further and actually interfere with the vote. That’s what they were most concerned about stopping, and that didn’t happen in the end.

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TUR: And Brennan said he spoke to the Russian officials and he warned them. And he said, “If you keep interfering, there will be severe consequences, relations with the U.S. will be severely hurt.” Does that seem like it’s happening now?

DILANIAN: I mean this is the Russians’ dream scenario. They have completely disrupted our democracy. We’re tied in knots over this issue. I just want to remind you, too, Katie, Harry Reid, the former Senate Majority Leader, wrote a letter back in October to Brennan saying, “You possess explosive information about ties between Trump and Russia.” Many people kind of wrote that off.

TUR: Well, because people didn’t necessarily know what he was talking about and we thought maybe Harry Reid was somebody who was an outgoing senator and who knows what his motivations were at the time. I remember that’s the feeling everyone had.

DILANIAN: It turns out he was exactly right.

TUR: Yeah.

(...)

2:08 PM

TUR: With me now, Ned Price, national security council spokesperson and senior director under President Obama, and an MSNBC national security analyst. We also have Naveed Jamali, an former FBI double agent. Ned, because we were just talking about the Obama administration not releasing that intelligence. Walk us through the reasoning on your end, why was this not made more public? Why was a bigger deal not made of this? Especially considering that this was a foreign power trying to interfere in the election. Why didn’t voters have a chance to know about that before they went to the polls?

NED PRICE: Well, Katie, I’d actually dispute the premise of your question. Voters did have an opportunity to know it. In fact they –

TUR: Did they know it – did they know the significance of it? Were they really forcefully made aware of it by U.S. officials?

PRICE: Well, Katy, we can only do so much. But I’ll tell you what we did. On October 7th, there was an unprecedented statement released by the DNI and the Department of Homeland Security that made very clear the fact that we had information leading us to believe with high confidence on the part of all 17 intelligence agencies that Russia was involved in this effort, sanctioned at the highest levels of the Russian government, to interfere in our electoral process.

And to let you know how we got there, it’s very important that you follow a formula in cases like this. And that formula first rests upon the intelligence community coming to this high-confidence assessment. You want that information to be bulletproof because you know it will be assailed in all directions if it’s not.

Second, you have to ensure that the intelligence community and the law enforcement community verify the fact that this information can be released without jeopardizing sources or methods or impinging upon law enforcement investigations. This process is not one that is quick. It is one that can take some time. But we got there, more than a full month ahead of the election.

The other interesting thing about that day, Katy, October 7th, 2016, that is the same day that the Access Hollywood tape came out and that led to a media bonanza that covered that almost exclusively. So when you ask why we didn’t do more, some of this was taken out of our hands by the media coverage.

TUR: Fair point, Ned. Although there is critics out there who would say that – would wonder why the administration didn’t more forcefully go out and try to really raise red flags about that reporting. But putting that aside for a moment – and that did happen on the Access Hollywood day, you’re absolutely right.

(...)

(h/t to MRC's Kyle Drennen)


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