It was a marathon July 10 interview chock full of fireworks on CNN's New Day that ran into overtime to almost 36 minutes. What set it off was host Chris Cuomo's obsession with the latest Trump-Russia nothingburger. Cuomo's ire could have been set off by guest Kellyanne Conway's mockery of Cuomo's sacred issue that CNN has hung its reputation upon.
However, one has to wonder if Cuomo's desperately energetic attitude came in part as a response to the revelation by his assistant producer, Jimmy Carr, on a recent Project Veritas video that much of his New Day crew hold Chris in very low regard.
CHRIS CUOMO: So what do you make of this switch, apparently, from the President of the United States?
First, he said a day ago that he's considering discussing -- he was discussing with Russia working together on cyber security, guarding elections. Everybody attacks it. Then he tweets this morning, no, no, no. It was just an idea. I know it can't happen.
KELLYANNE CONWAY: Well, what else did he say in the tweet? He talked about how -- what did happen, a cease-fire in part of Syria. A very big development out of that two-plus hour meeting with President Putin. That's a tangible. That's relevant. That will affect people's lives. Look, they had a broad conversation. CNN spent a full week plus doing nothing but having these screaming headlines saying President Trump is not expected to raise Russian interference with President Putin. He made it top of the agenda. It was first on the list. He pressed him early and often. Did he press him or ask did he him whether he did it? But that's not good enough. Did CNN say he wasn't going to mention it at all or didn't they? Oh, they did. We have these great montage of chyrons. People say stuff that isn't true.
CUOMO: Hold on a second. I stand by my reporting on it. The day before the meeting, the president was very squishy on Russian interference. He said OK, it was Russia but it was other people. Nobody knows for sure. That was his last public statement about it before he went into a meeting. And then a meeting in which he didn't allow a notetaker to be in it. So we don't have any readout from it. We hear he confronted them about it. He said we know you did it. Then we hear he asked him about it. Which is it? Did he say I know you did it, stop? Or did he say did you do it, Mr. Putin? Which is it?
Squishy? So Chris Cuomo can read President Trump's mind? Perhaps if we could read Cuomo's mind we would find Jimmy Carr in there mocking him. It might not be too much of a stretch since there was a good chance that his assistant producer was sitting right behind the CNN camera staring straight at Cuomo.
CONWAY: Chris, let's back up. So you're saying -- you used the word squishy which, itself, is unusual to describe the president's state of mind. So somehow that makes people on CNN insist that the president is never going to raise this with Putin. Why are they still in there.
CUOMO: It's not about CNN. It's about what the president said, Kellyanne.
CONWAY: No. It's about people stating things that they want America to think are facts. Aren't you the least bit reluctant, if not embarrassed that you now talk about Russia more than you talk about America?
CONWAY: Doesn't this bother anybody there?
CUOMO: You have Donald Jr. went from saying I never met with anybody from Russia.
CONWAY: I think America matters.
Okay, a brief time out now to put a bit of perspective on this latest Trump-Russia collusion nothingburger via Michael Walsh in the July 9 New York Post:
Just as the “Russian collusion” fantasy — a resentful smear cooked up in the immediate aftermath of Clinton’s stunning defeat last fall — was finally fading from the fever swamps of the “resistance” and its media mouthpieces, along comes the Times with a pair of journalistic nothingburgers.
They first reported that Trump Jr., along with Paul Manafort (then the campaign manager) and Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law, met with Natalia Veselnitskaya, a Russian lawyer “linked to” the Kremlin, back in June, shortly after Trump had clinched the Republican nomination. The second claimed she’d promised dirt on Clinton and the Democrats in order to entice Trump Jr. and the others.
According to the younger Trump, the Clinton angle was just a ruse: “Her statements were vague, ambiguous and made no sense. No details or supporting information was provided or even offered,” he told the Times.
The real reason, it seems, was that Veselnitskaya wanted to lobby for the repeal of the Magnitsky Act, an Obama-era law that allows the US to deny visas to Russians thought guilty of human rights violations. In retaliation, the Russians promptly ended the adoption of Russian orphans by Americans.
And that’s what all the fuss is about? No campaign in its right mind would turn down an offer of information on their opponent. That is what opposition research is all about. You can bet Hillary wouldn’t have hung up on the person who claimed to have dirt on The Donald. After all, the Clinton campaign lobbied the comedian Tom Arnold two days before the election to release potentially embarrassing footage from Trump’s TV show, “The Apprentice.” Arnold declined.
But in the end, the lawyer had nothing, gave nothing, got nothing in return, in a meeting that lasted 20 minutes. This is a scandal?
It's not a scandal unless you are Chris Cuomo desperately trying to impress his boss Jeff Zucker who tied CNN's fate to the "fact" that there was Trump-Russia collusion.
We now return to the fireworks show.
CUOMO: I never met with anybody having to do with Russia. Now he's saying he met with someone to get oppo research on Hillary Clinton who was connected to the Kremlin? These questions matter. These are Don Jr.'s words. Not mine.
CONWAY: And Don Jr. has said.
CUOMO: It's about what was said and what matters.
CONWAY: It's about all of the above. So let's break it down bit by bit. Don Jr. has very explicitly stated he didn't even know the name of the person with whom he was meeting. He agreed to the meeting based on a contact from the Miss Universe pageant. They get into the meeting and it quickly turns into a pretext for Russian adoption, according to his statements, that the comments this woman is making about any type of information on Hillary Clinton were vague. They were meaningless. Others exited the meeting very quickly. The meeting itself was very brief. There was no information given. There was no action taken. There was no follow-up. Let me respectfully say as well as I can, I don't think anybody had to look very far to find damaging information on Hillary Clinton.
CUOMO: That's beside the point.
Yes, the facts of the matter is beside the point. What matters is that CNN's entire future has been tied to the myth of Trump-Russia collusion by our boss Jeff Zucker who I hope soon fires Jimmy Carr.
CONWAY: She provided it -- no, no, it's not beside the point.
CUOMO: He brought in Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort with him. So it's not just let's have lunch. He brought two very important people with him It was a credibility issue as to whether or not he knew he was meeting with. I don't know what should be more troubling to you, that he would take a meeting, not knowing who it was but it was important enough to bring Jared or Manafort or that Donald Jr. would knowingly meet with someone with Kremlin connections on the basis of getting oppo research about Hillary Clinton. There are huge legal and ethical implications to that decision, as you know.
CONWAY: You keep saying "know." I'm not going to agree with you. First of all, you keep on saying opposition research the way you guys constantly vomit words like collusion and Russian interference and affecting the election, all of which you have no evidence. We cannot convert wishful thinking into hard evidence -- if you and I were in court right now.
CUOMO: Don Jr. said that she had information about the DNC and Russians and funding Hillary. What do you call it?
CONWAY: Chris, you were just -- OK. Listen. You were just able to speak two minutes uninterrupted and I frankly think it was more punditry than reporting. So I would like to respond.
CONWAY: First of all, if we were in court, your side would not even survive a motion to dismiss, a motion for summary judgment because you've got nothing. On this one, Don Jr. has very clearly said he was told that there would be some kind of information helpful to the campaign. It quickly became very apparent there was not. Let me say something about who goes into these meetings in the Trump campaign. We were a very small operation. I was not involved in June. I was involved in July. And I became the campaign manager in August. It's very typical to have principals in the meeting. We had a fraction of the staff and a fraction of the money that they had over there in Clinton Inc. in Brooklyn. So it's very typical that people like that would be -- you're trying to have your viewers think, oh, my god, because these three principals were in there, it was imbued with some type of seriousness that just simply is not true. This was standard operating procedure for the campaign. Let's focus on what did not happen in that meeting. No information provided that was meaningful. No action taken. Nothing.
It was a nothingburger. Right, Jimmy?
CUOMO: Let's focus on what did happen. The woman stated that she had information that individuals connected to Russia were funding the Democratic National Committee and supporting Ms. Clinton. That's from Donald Jr.'s statement. That's why he went to the meeting.
CONWAY: Right. And apparently she didn't.
CUOMO: That is a problem, though, taking that meeting, because it goes to one of the questions of this investigation, which is was Russia trying to get to your campaign for purposes of affecting the election? And this is Don Jr.'s own statement about it, a statement which has changed now twice about what this meeting was. That doesn't raise legitimate concerns?
CONWAY: Chris, you keep on saying Russia. What did this woman say? Why was she there?
CUOMO: This is the word that Trump Jr. used, Russia.
CONWAY: Excuse me?
CUOMO: He used the word Russia.
CONWAY: In what context?
CUOMO: She had information that individuals connected to Russia were funding the Democratic National Committee and supporting Ms. Clinton. These are his words.
CONWAY: And then he went on to say...
CUOMO: This is why he took the meeting.
CONWAY: ...and he went on to say what? You have to give the whole statement, to be fair to him and your viewers. Let's stop chopping it up and try to go viral with the nonsense.
Yes, let us see what CNN conveniently left off Donald Trump Jr's statement which they now have to reveal under pressure from Kellyanne Conway:
CUOMO: Put the statement up. You're the one who is parsing.
CONWAY: Put the whole statement up.
CUOMO: Our faces are nice. Put the statement up.
Is Jimmy Carr's face also nice:
"After pleasantries were exchanged, the woman stated that she had information that individuals connected to Russia" -- his word -- " were funding the Democratic National Committee and supporting Ms. Clinton.
"Her statements were vague, ambiguous and made no sense. No details or supporting information was provided --
CONWAY: There you go.
CUOMO: -- "or even offered. It quickly became clear she had no meaningful information." Two points. One, even if you accept everything he says as true and there's a credibility issue because he has changed his story twice.
CONWAY: No, it's not. I do.
CUOMO: He changed his story twice. You talked about being in a court of law, not good when you change your story. There are actually big exceptions to the law for credibility when you change your story like this. Second of all, even if it is all true, whether or not it was good information, Kellyanne, doesn't mean that it was a smart move to take a meeting with a Russian-connected person who was going to give you negative information about your opponent. That could create huge legal issues. You know that.
CONWAY: I admire your moxie, sitting there with the CNN chryon right near you talking about credibility issues.
CUOMO: Listen, I could not be more proud to have that CNN chryon next to me.
Are you proud to have Jimmy Carr right in front of you?
CONWAY: I could not be more proud here representing the White House.
CUOMO: And I'm glad you are. I want you here because of that. It's not supposed to be an argument. I'm saying this question started with why did the president change his position about working with Russia? You spun it over to this. That was my original question.
CONWAY: Wait. The president? The president? What do you mean the president changed his story?The president had nothing to do with this meeting.
CUOMO: No, I understand that. I'm saying I asked you originally.
CONWAY: You wanted to produce something because you're invested in months now as a network in something that simply doesn't exist.
CUOMO: No, that's an assumption by you. It's an unfair premise.
Actually, Chris, that is not an assumption. The fact is that Jeff Zucker, acting like a modern day Captain Ahab, is desperately searching for his White Whale in the form of the non-existent Trump-Russia collusion story even if it means sinking the CNN ship.
CONWAY: No, Chris. That's not true. Here is the unfair premise, that we are talking about this again, yet again. That you talk about Russia more than you talk about America. That the big bombshell of the day is Jim Comey having classified information, conversations with the President of the United States.
CUOMO: How do you know that?
CONWAY: In his memorandum.
CUOMO: How do you know that?
CONWAY: Oh, because I read -- because he has got a credibility issue because I read the article on "The Hill."
CUOMO: You read "The Hill' article that has officials familiar with the documents. So unnamed sources are OK for you on Comey but not OK for you anywhere else, huh?
CONWAY: I didn't say that.
CUOMO: You've said it many times, my friend.
CONWAY: You're putting words in my mouth.
CUOMO: Unnamed sources is the code word for you guys on fake news but it's OK on Comey.
CONWAY: I've actually never uttered those two words either. But anyway, the fact is that that is a bombshell people that should know about that.
CUOMO: Oh, so that report is a bombshell based on unnamed sources.
CONWAY: I love her back. But listen, this is very simple. That's a bombshell by Jim Comey because the whole country watched him testify. It was supposed to be some big Super Bowl-like event. We learned him say I felt as a private citizen I should release this information. Oh, but I also gave it to my friend so he would leak it to the media with the expectation it would trigger special counsel. What was in that information? Apparently it contained classified information.
Remember when CNN had that Comey Countdown Clock when it expected James Comey to reveal information damaging to president Trump? Instead the main thing that came out of that testimony is that Comey admitted he leaked from memos (much of it classified) to the New York Times via a friend.
CUOMO: Right. I just think it's humorous that...
CONWAY: -- having nine conversations with the president.
CUOMO: Look, if it's true...
CONWAY: This doesn't concern you at all?
CONWAY: That the FBI director is doing what Hillary Clinton did the year before?
CUOMO: It all concerns me.
CONWAY: Just being so willy-nilly with classified, confidential information?
CUOMO: It all concerns me. But I just have to smile at the suggestion from the same White House that calls unnamed sources not a legitimate basis for journalism, now you're leaning on it so heavily because it suits you. But what I'm saying, it all matters to me. It all matters to me. That's why we ask the questions. But the president saying that he wanted to work with Russia on cyber security and then saying, no, he doesn't want to, it was just a discussion. That is a concern. That's why he got so much criticism for it. That's what I asked you about originally. CONWAY: Because you don't want to talk about the Syria cease-fire, you don't want to talk about the fact that these two countries, Russia and United States, may be able to come together on other issues vexing our world, like containing or defeating or putting in retreat to ISIS, for example...
CUOMO: I think both matter.
But for CNN, nothing else comes close to carrying the weight as the non-existent Trump-Russia collusion story.
Cuomo later admits that what came out of the meeting between Donald Trump Jr. and a (GASP!) Russian does not matter. What counts is that there was a meeting.
CUOMO: The fruit of the meeting is irrelevant to taking the meeting.
CONWAY: -- about Russian adoption.
CUOMO: But none of that is relevant.
CONWAY: He added to the account of what happened in a meaningless meeting and three of your colleagues were fired because they changed their story.
CUOMO: Don't you want to know?
CONWAY: They went with a story that was thinly sourced.
CUOMO: Well, now it's thinly sourced. We're backed to thinly source.
Uh-oh. An embarrassing moment for Cuomo as Conway reminds him about the CNN Trump-Russia collusion story they had to kill due to having just one dubious source.
Okay, time now for an intermission. Go ahead everybody and take a quick break. And Jimmy Carr, you have just enough time to hit your favorite bar for a quick one. If any bar patrons happen to ask what you think about Chris Cuomo, feel free to answer.
...Okay, we are now back from intermission as we return to the Conway-Cuomo fireworks show...
CUOMO: We do not avoid positive stories about the president. You want the fact that we're covering the Russian investigation to mean we don't cover other things. It's not true. We spent two segments today talking to Mo Brooks, Republican from Alabama, about what's going on health care, what need to happen. And then, only then did we talk about the Russian stuff. So it's just not fair, not true and I don't believe it could be helpful to the president. But I believe that you are. And having you on the show is helpful to our audience and I appreciate it very much.
CONWAY: Oh, we appreciate the platform, Chris. But, look, I think CNN -- I'm not here to bash CNN --
CUOMO: Then don't.
CONWAY: -- as a matter, of course, so be fair to me. Hold on. Hold on. But take responsibility and recognize that, as a 24/7 cable station, I have great faith that you can cover all of the above instead of covering the same thing every five seconds, hour after hour. Why can't you connect veterans with the information they deserve? Why aren't you telling the veterans of the country because of this president and Secretary Shulkin of the V.A., they now have a 24/7 hotline at the White House they can call? They're now seen as the same seamless patient through the DOD and the V.A. so that they don't have to go through all this nonsense red tape of decades that treats them as two different patients. Why don't you tell them about the V.A. Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act? Why don't you tell them about the Veterans Choice Act, that if you can't access quality, timely care as a veteran in this country through the V.A., which most can, you can go access it through private care now? The President said when he was a candidate something that should animate everybody, including you, which is if we don't take care of our veterans who are we as a nation?
CUOMO: That's absolutely true.
CONWAY: Why don't you tell people what we're doing on health care, on jobs, 800,000 jobs created since this man took office.
CUOMO: We talk about health care. We talk about the jobs. We had the Veterans Secretary on NEW DAY. Thank you for watching the show.
CONWAY: -- 220,000 jobs created in June.
CUOMO: We talked about it when the jobs report came out.
CONWAY: -- cover all the above.
CUOMO: We do, though. We had the V.A. secretary.
CONWAY: Have you seen these polls that say that --
CONWAY: -- that the country want the media to move on from Russia and cover things that actually -- ?
CUOMO: Kellyanne, look --
CONWAY: Can you look the people in the eye that you grew up with in Astoria and I grew up with in South Jersey, the welders, the carpenters, the hairdressers, can you tell them right now that you're telling them everything President Trump is doing for them, $100 million committed to the apprenticeship program?
CUOMO: My conscience is clean. My mission is clear. What I do is I cover what I think matters to people. I test power and I take the consequences every damn day. And that's not going to change.
Yeah, yeah, yeah. I'll go through the motion of pretending to be interested in all that stuff but what really matters is Trump-Russia collusion. I MUST find it even if doesn't exist because our CNN credibility depends on it. Oh, and STOP staring at me, Jimmy Bigmouth!
CONWAY: Hold on. If we were in court right now and you somehow survived the motion for summary judgment, motion to dismiss --
CUOMO: It's a different standard but go ahead.
CONWAY: What exactly would be your first piece of evidence? No, no. Who is your first witness to the jury or judge in the case you're trying to make day in and day out? Because I still don't see the evidence.
CUOMO: First of all, you shouldn't see the evidence because let's liken it to a grand jury investigation that's going on. We should wait for it to finish and see what they can bring out about it. That's what we should be doing.
CONWAY: You're not waiting for anything.
CUOMO: Look, we take the information as we get it. We can't know the full scope of the investigation. See, and that's the point. This is the last point I'm going to make. Your people are saying you have to go. This is my point. The reason the Don Jr. story matters is because you guys have been beating down the notion that an investigation into whether or not Russia was trying to find its way into the campaign, to affect this election, is a nonstarter. It's not worth looking at. It's ridiculous. But now we know it isn't, because Don Jr., at best reckoning to him and to his cause, just got potentially set up by a potential Russian operative to have a meeting. So it isn't an illegitimate question.
CONWAY: Wrong. Incorrect.
CUOMO: By his own reckoning, that's what it is. He says that he took the meeting with someone who promised information about --
CONWAY: She was vague, meaningless.
CUOMO: He was promised, not the delivery on the promise. It's the solicitation that's the issue legally, ethically and common-sense wise. She said this is what I have for you and that's why he said he took the meeting. That's why they're investigating.
CONWAY: But Chris, she had nothing.
CUOMO: Doesn't matter what she had. It's what she promised.
With a nothingburger, it is the Thought Crime that counts. Which reminds me, when does Jimmy Carr promise to quit his job?
CONWAY: You can't take a meeting that lasted 20 minutes, that is reported to have lasted 20 minute that produced no information, it was, we're told mainly about Russian adoption, and spin that into some kind of tale and some type of evidentiary trail.
CUOMO: I don't see how that's at all what I'm doing. Don Jr. changed his story. Don Jr. says he met with her because she had bad information on Clinton. He said it.
CONWAY: -- Donald Trump or Mike Pence. This is why --
CUOMO: He said it.
CONWAY: Look, he learned nothing from that meeting.
CUOMO: Doesn't matter what he learned. It matters why he took the meeting.
CONWAY: Yes, it does.
CUOMO: Nope. CONWAY: Yes, it does. It matters completely.
CUOMO: Does not matter for purposes of the investigation.
CUOMO: They're looking into whether or not Russia was trying to get inside the election. He admits he took the meeting because someone was offering him that kind of information. It matters, period. It just does.
CONWAY: And when Americans think of Russia today they're thinking of the conversation between the two presidents, not the lack of collusion that no one there or anyone else has proven.
CUOMO: Maybe so. It doesn't mean the questions don't matter. It doesn't mean the questions don't matter. I know you're pressed for time. You're welcome back on the show whenever you want.
CONWAY: It doesn't mean you also can't cover --
CUOMO: I cover it all.
You hear me, Jimmy? I cover it all dammit. ALL! You don't like my performance? Then get your own brother elected governor!
CONWAY: Do you know where the jobs are? Do you know where the jobs are?
CONWAY: Almost everywhere, 800,000 created. The stock market loves this president.
CUOMO: And we reported it. Economy is humming.
CUOMO: And we reported it.
CONWAY: Small business confidence. Well, I'll do it right now, small business confidence, home voters --
CUOMO: But I'm just saying you're saying we don't care about these things. I just echoed the president's own tweet thread to you. Don't make it sound like we're hiding his priorities. He cares about these things also. He's invited on this show all the time to make his case to the American people. Yes, they're official statements from the President of the United States.
CONWAY: Name three things he talked about at the Department of Transportation?
CUOMO: I don't know but he doesn't talk about them and you guys don't come on to talk about them.
CONWAY: Yes, he did he.
OK, I'll talk about it right now.
CUOMO: Your people say you have to go, by the way. So you make sure that the White House press office doesn't yell at me. CONWAY: I'm not going to let this go. I'm not going to let this go.
CUOMO: That's fine. You can have all the time you want. Go ahead.
CONWAY: Stop being so sensitive.
CUOMO: Well, I've got people in my ear yelling at me that you have to go.
Quit yelling in my ear, Jimmy, you lousy drunken creep! I've got more gravitas in my toenail than you can ever dream of having.
CONWAY: I want you to talk about the women's empowerment initiatives that Ivanka Trump is leading. I want you to talk about ISIS in retreat. I want you to talk about the 10 bilateral meetings that the president had on this foreign trip and the three pull-asides. I mean there's so much -- because what about the speech in Poland that tells them you are survivors. We share your spirit, your love of freedom, your love of personal responsibility, your love of -- this is just such a beautiful speech where the President of the United States appealed to people in Poland. We will stand with you. And then went to the G20. Here, for a couple of hours, practically a couple of days. He will go back to Paris. There's so many things to cover. Please connect America with the information they need. You're in a great position to tell veterans they've got help. They've got new hotlines. They have new ways to access care. You can tell people about the jobs that are being created, the fact that we...
CUOMO: We do.
CONWAY: ...define every type of work.
CUOMO: We do. And I let you make your pitch to the American people. I'm happy you did. The opportunity is always here.
CONWAY: Tell your panel...
CUOMO: The opportunity is always here. Hold on. Don't worry about the panel.
CONWAY: ...six versus one anti-Trump panel we're sorry we cut into their time.
CUOMO: Tell the American people something else while you're here, that they shouldn't believe all of the White House and the surrogates and your alt-right friends that want to destroy the responsible media. Tell them that they shouldn't listen to that stuff, that the media matters and that they should judge stories on their face and that they shouldn't think that there's some type of agenda out to get the president on the behalf.
Tell them they shouldn't watch Project Veritas videos especially the one in which my drunken backstabbing producer Jimmy badmouthed me to a rightwing stranger. Hey, Jimmy! Guess what? I'm going to make it to the end of this marathon! You think you could do better? You see my energy level? Match that, you creep! Jimmy? Jimmy?