Since CNN's counterterrorism analyst Philip Mudd has a reputation for being vociferously anti-Trump, it must have come as quite a surprise to Chris Cuomo on Wednesday when Mudd made comments extremely critical of the intelligence community whistleblower who filed a complaint about one of President Trump's phone calls with a foreign leader.
As you can see in the video below, Mudd's response seems to have been not at all what Cuomo expected to hear from him.
CHRIS CUOMO: Let's bring in Phil Mudd. Now, in this, they try to track whom he had spoken with. This complaint was filed with Atkinson's office, that's the Inspector General, August 12th.
In the preceding weeks, they have him talking, or -- they have him on a call with Vladimir Putin on July 31st. They have him talking about at least two letters from Kim Jong-un. They have him maybe meeting with the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Netherlands, and the Emir of Qatar.
So, let's just deal with the general notion here. Somebody says they heard something, as an Intel official, that troubled them enough to lodge a formal complaint to the I.G. How unusual?
PHILIP MUDD: Boy, I'm about ready to blow a gasket. Can you explain -- that is extremely unusual. And I listened to Presidential phone calls when I was an official at the White House under George W. Bush in - in 2001.
Can you explain to me, A, why it's the U.S. Intelligence Community's responsibility to listen to the President of the United States speaking to a foreign leader?
And, B, why did the U.S. Intelligence Community, under the rules provided by the Democrats in Congress, are responsible to report to the Congress what the President of the United States says?
Last I checked, Chris, when I served, we're responsible for chasing the Russians, the Chinese, the Iranians, and terrorists. We're not responsible for reporting to the Congress what the President says. He can say what he wants, Chris.
Uh-oh! This was probably not at all what Cuomo expected to hear from Mudd. We can only imagine what his producers were shouting into his earpiece at this point.
CUOMO: So, you don't like that somebody snitched on the President?
MUDD: Correct. The question, if you have a - a whistleblower issue in the Intelligence Community might be is somebody misusing funds. For example, is somebody seeing something about covert action overseas, that is CIA operations overseas, that's inappropriate?
For example, when I was in the business, we ran black sites, secret facilities. Did somebody see something that was not only unethical and immoral but illegal?
CUOMO: In-house policing.
CUOMO: All right, so--
MUDD: Not what does the President say.
Cuomo then tried to find some rationale for the whistleblower to report on what the President was saying but Mudd was having none of that.
CUOMO: All right, but now hold on a second. What if he did say something to a foreign leader, that sounded like a promise, that went over the line enough that somebody of good conscience said, "He's not supposed to say things like this?"
MUDD: Well pardon me. What the heck is over the line? The President can say what he wants to Putin. He can say what he wants to Kim Jong-un. He can say to Kim Jong-un, which I think is completely over the top, "I'm going to go meet you in the DMZ, the Demilitarized Zone," despite the fact that we don't have any real agreements, as far as I can tell, on nukes and missiles. The President can say what he wants. It's not the responsibility of the Intel guys to go police the President, and go snitch on him to the Congress. Ridiculous! And now I understand. I didn't two hours ago. Now I understand why - why a former decorated SEAL, Maguire, the Head of the Intel Community was reluctant. Why does he have to go report on what the President says?
The look on Cuomo's face seemed to go from one of deep concern to shock as he made another attempt to salvage the interview to go the way liberal conventional wisdom would want it to go.
CUOMO: So, what is the mechanism for policing what is done in the White House?
MUDD: Quit. Quit, and you can talk to the media, if you want, you can write a book, if you want. If you don't like what the President does, whether you're the Secretary of Defense, whether you're National Security Advisor, whether you're Rex Tillerson, you go quit.
You don't go say "Well I have a secret avenue to the Congress" that, in my view, is inappropriate to go explain why the Intel guys have to collect Intelligence on the President, exactly, by the way, exactly what the President alleges happened during the campaign. "The Intel guys are collecting on me, a politician." That's not what the Intel guys do.
Yup! Just by judging Cuomo's blink rate this was one interview that did not go the way he expected.