‘Misleading a Lot of People’: Mukasey Calls Out Cuomo’s Russia Conspiracies

During his appearance on Tuesday’s Cuomo Prime Time, former Attorney General Michael Mukasey didn’t shy away from calling Chris Cuomo out for “misleading a lot of people” when it came to the findings of the special counsel investigation. In a brilliant display of schooling the so-called “Facts First” network, Mukasey went toe-to-toe with blowhard host and outclassed him at every turn.

One of Mukasey’s first points was to accurately state that collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia didn’t happen. Despite the facts of the investigation, Conspiracy Cuomo argued that collusion did occur. Then came the first of many reality checks from Mukasey:

CUOMO: Who says it didn’t happen? Russian interference happened.

MUKASEY: Russian interference happened for sure, but cooperation and conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russians did not happen. And that was --

CUOMO: To a criminal level, no says Mr. Mueller.

MUKASEY: -- to any level.

Cuomo likes to remind folks that he used to be a lawyer, but it may become apparent why he no longer practices law when he had to get the U.S. attorney general’s job explained to him more than once (click “expand”):

CUOMO: So, when you say no crime, Mueller couldn’t decide on that one, gave it to your friend the Attorney General, he decided it.

MUKASEY: Right, which is his job.

CUOMO: It is whose job?

MUKASEY: The Attorney General's job.

CUOMO: To do what?

MUKASEY: It was Mueller's job initially to decide it and he punted.

CUOMO: But who says—Well, I said that too, by the way Mike. Maybe I got it from you. I said that. I said Mueller punted. This was his job. He was supposed to make a decision to prosecute or not. But, the finesse position, I’m giving more weigh to now. He knows what his job is. And he sees this as difficult because of the OLC opinion, he can’t indict this President, so he's leaving it to Congress and not the AG. Nowhere in the report does he ask the AG to do it.

 

 

Cuomo apparently didn’t know the attorney general of the United States had the authority to decide whether charges should be filed, or he was being supremely disingenuous. “[W]hat your friend did is not just by the book. He took it on himself to decide this rule. He didn't have to do that,” he bitterly declared.

Continuing his crusade against Attorney General William Barr, Cuomo wrongly stated that the special counsel was “separate from the DOJ” and insisted Congress had the power to indict.

Mukasey had to undo the damage Cuomo was doing to his audience and called his host out for misleading people (Click “expand”):

MUKASEY: Of course he had to do it.

CUOMO: Why?

MUKASEY: Who was going to decide if we were going to indict or not?

CUOMO: Congress, as a political matter. Leave it to them.

MUKASEY: They decide whether to impeach or not. They don’t decide--

CUOMO: And Mike, you're skipping the big point, which you taught me about very early on.

MUKASEY: That is the big point.

CUOMO: They can't indict him. That is the opinion from the OLC so there's nothing to decide on that level. It's purely political. It always would be.

MUKASEY: Congress doesn't indict. Congress can impeach.

CUOMO: I'm using it as just a metaphor here.

MUKASEY: But you’re misleading a lot of people.

After Mukasey had to explain all the other ways Special Counsel Robert Mueller could have taken action against the President if he had the goods, Cuomo put on his rhetorical tin foil hat and accused Barr of being part of a cover-up (Click “expand”):

CUOMO: AD Barr didn’t need to do it for that reason. He needed to do it to protect the President. That's why he did it.

MUKASEY: Protect the President from what? When he can’t be indicted?

CUOMO: From criticism in the open question and giving Congress that kind of momentum. That's why he did it.

MUKASEY: Oh, come on.

CUOMO: That’s why he did it. That's why he wrote the letter the way he did. That’s why he gave the press conference the way he did. That's why he misled us to what the report would look like the way he did.

“You done,” Mukasey pointedly asked with a long exacerbated whistle. From there, the former AG had to walk Cuomo through how CNN and the rest of the media had the American public whipped up into an “absolute hysteria.”

“[Y]our network were devoting days of people sitting around and talking about a report that they didn't -- whose content they didn't know, that they hadn't seen, in essence, panels of people sitting around a table inhaling their own exhaust and getting high on it,” he exclaimed.

Mukasey also got Cuomo to admit that Barr’s letter wasn’t misleading on the lack of obstruction of justice charges by reminding the former lawyer, that “it is in fact not the job of any counsel or anybody else to exonerate. God does that. Even juries that return acquittals don’t come back and say ‘innocent,’ they say ‘not guilty.’

As a cherry on top of this embarrassing schooling, Mukasey also talked about how the origins of the Russia investigation needed to be investigated: “This report begins with a misstatement suggesting that the investigation started in July of 2016 when the FBI opened its file. That's the kind of half-truth that's purely designed to irritate anybody who knows the other half.

The transcript is below, click "expand" to read:

CNN’s Cuomo Prime Time
April 23, 2019
9:37:26 p.m. Eastern

(…)

FORMER ATTORNEY GENERAL MICHAEL MUKASEY: But consider this, he's being investigated for a crime that didn't happen and that he certainly didn't commit.

CHRIS CUOMO: Who says it didn’t happen? Russian interference happened.

MUKASEY: Russian interference happened for sure, but cooperation and conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russians did not happen. And that was—

CUOMO: To a criminal level, no says Mr. Mueller.

MUKASEY: To any level.

CUOMO: I don’t know about any level. But to a criminal level I’ll give you.

MUKASEY: I do. Okay. And there's an investigation going on not for a month or six months but close to two years and his administration is laboring under the shadow of that investigation and people alleging that it happened, there were going to be indictments and so forth. Did he break under that pressure? Apparently.

CUOMO: Mr. Mueller goes farther than saying he broke right? (…) So, when you say no crime, Mueller couldn’t decide on that one, gave it to your friend the Attorney General, he decided it.

MUKASEY: Right, which is his job.

CUOMO: It is whose job?

MUKASEY: The Attorney General's job.

CUOMO: To do what?

MUKASEY: It was Mueller's job initially to decide it and he punted.

CUOMO: But who says—Well, I said that too, by the way Mike. Maybe I got it from you. I said that. I said Mueller punted. This was his job. He was supposed to make a decision to prosecute or not. But, the finesse position, I’m giving more weigh to now. He knows what his job is. And he sees this as difficult because of the OLC opinion, he can’t indict this President, so he's leaving it to Congress and not the AG. Nowhere in the report does he ask the AG to do it.

MUKASEY: Number one, that’s not the only reason he saw it as difficult.

CUOMO: I didn’t say the only but it does seem to be predominate in his thinking.

MUKASEY: But secondly, the Justice Department doesn’t conduct investigations for the purpose of refuring things to Congress. The conduct criminal investigations with two possible results: Either you charge or you don't charge. We don't need Robert Mueller or whoever wrote that section of the report to tell us that Congress has the power to conduct impeachment hearings. We all learned that in 8th grade civics and if we didn’t we saw it during the Clinton administration. We know that Congress has that power.

CUOMO: But this was a special counsel. And it was put together by Rosenstein because he wanted it separate from the DOJ because of what he saw as--

MUKASEY: It's not separate from the DOJ, it's within the DOJ.

CUOMO: I know, but as a mechanism separate. I understand the DOJ. I understand how the guidelines are written. I understand why they were written, because we didn’t like what the independent counsel was.

MUKASEY: It’s not just the guidelines. We have three branches of government; this is within the Executive. We don't sprout a new branch of government.

CUOMO: But what your friend did is not just by the book. He took it on himself to decide this rule. He didn't have to do that.

MUKASEY: Of course he had to do it.

CUOMO: Why?

MUKASEY: Who was going to decide if we were going to indict or not?

CUOMO: Congress, as a political matter. Leave it to them.

MUKASEY: They decide whether to impeach or not. They don’t decide--

CUOMO: And Mike, you're skipping the big point, which you taught me about very early on.

MUKASEY: That is the big point.

CUOMO: They can't indict him. That is the opinion from the OLC so there's nothing to decide on that level. It's purely political. It always would be.

MUKASEY: Congress doesn't indict. Congress can impeach.

CUOMO: I'm using it as just a metaphor here.

MUKASEY: But you’re misleading a lot of people. You have a big audience.

CUOMO: No, because we know the OLC says --

MUKASEY: Getting smaller by the minute now but it’s bigger.

CUOMO: -- you can’t indict. Right? We know they say that. Mueller knows it. He lays it out in the piece. SO, they only type of action would be Congressional. That’s what I’m saying.

MUKASEY: No. He can file a sealed indictment. He could say that there should be an indictment in these circumstances but the only reason he can’t is because of the OLC opinion. He didn’t say that.

CUOMO: No. He didn't say that about a sealed indictment but he did go out of his way to say, “hey, I want to be fair to the President too. He can’t even respond to this because of the OLC opinion.” So he -- I would suggest referred it to Congress.

People should read. You should read and decide for yourself.

But Mr. Barr decided to end this. He didn't have to.

MUKASEY: He did.

CUOMO: That's not in the book. He could have left it alone. You can't indict a sitting president. He didn't need to tell us that.

MUKASEY: He needed to say whether an indictment was warranted or not. And he said it.

CUOMO: You can't have one. Why did he need to tell us that?

MUKASEY: Because Mueller left it dangling out there and in the circumstances were you have evidence going one way and evidence going another way, you don't indict.

CUOMO: Except you can’t indict, Mike. And I don’t know why you’re ignoring that. It’s on page 1 of the second part of this report. He says, we take our guidance from the OLC, the Department of Justice guideline on our jurisdiction with respect to indicting a sitting president, they can't do it. AD Barr didn’t need to do it for that reason. He needed to do it to protect the President. That's why he did it.

MUKASEY: Protect the President from what? When he can’t be indicted?

CUOMO: From criticism in the open question and giving Congress that kind of momentum. That's why he did it.

MUKASEY: Oh, come on.

CUOMO: That’s why he did it. That's why he wrote the letter the way he did. That’s why he gave the press conference the way he did. That's why he misled us to what the report would look like the way he did.

MUKASEY: [Whistles] You done?

CUOMO: Yes, sir, respond, please.

MUKASEY: Let's start with the letter because that's what came first. That letter came at a time when, no criticism of you, but your network were devoting days of people sitting around and talking about a report that they didn't -- whose content they didn't know, that they hadn't seen, in essence panels of people sitting around a table inhaling their own exhaust and getting high on it. And trying to make the viewers—

CUOMO: Since when does the AG respond to that?

MUKASEY: Wait a second. The country was in a state of absolute hysteria. You had a countdown clock in the corner of not one but several networks about the release of the report. The release of the report. He did the responsible thing.

CUOMO: A misleading letter about what was in it.

MUKASEY: No, it wasn't misleading at all.

CUOMO: How not?

MUKASEY: It summarized the bottom line of that report which was that there was no collusion and that the special counsel had found that he could not indict but could not vindicate the president. He put that language right in the letter.

CUOMO: He put in the letter about exoneration in there.

MUKASEY: Could not exonerate. I'm sorry. Not vindicate. Could not exonerate when it is in fact not the job of any counsel or anybody else to exonerate. God does that. Even juries that return acquittals don’t come back and say innocent, they say not guilty.

CUOMO: That’s 100 percent true. Let’s do this --

MUKASEY: The special counsel said he couldn't exonerate and Barr put that in his letter.

CUOMO: That's right. That’s a fair point.

MUKASEY: He then went through the report with Bob Mueller to decide on what had to be redacted and what didn't. It’s detailed process and that report runs for 400 pages. That’s not child’s play. Not only did he do that, he put in the reason for each of the redactions.

(…)

MUKASEY: It's not over in part because there's stuff in there that ought to be followed but from the other direction, which is how this got started.

CUOMO: Well, look, that seems to be every bit of the political intention right now, to investigate the investigators. We’ll have to pars that part either--

MUKASEY: No. It’s not just investigate the investigators. There are -- This report begins with a misstatement suggesting that the investigation started in July of 2016 when the FBI opened its file. That's the kind of half-truth that's purely designed to irritate anybody who knows the other half.

(…)

MUKASEY: February or March?

CUOMO: Why?

MUKASEY: Because there was a meeting of the National Security Council, at which Carter Page was discussed. And in fact, when they went for a FISA warrant—and that’s why this doesn’t hold together they went for a warrant not on Papadopoulos, but on Carter page.

(…)

MUKASEY: And who was never charged with a crime?

CUOMO: Carter Page.

(…)

NB Daily Events Mueller Report Media Bias Debate Bias by Omission Conspiracy Theories Political Scandals Trump-Russia probe Cable Television CNN Cuomo PrimeTime Video Robert Mueller Michael Mukasey Chris Cuomo Donald Trump Bill Barr

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