A Cable News Network panel discussion about President-Elect Donald Trump's habit of expressing his opinions on the Twitter website degenerated into a fiery clash on Tuesday morning between liberal and conservative guests despite the best efforts of anchor Carol Costello to prevent it from happening.
After Anthony Scaramucci, a member of the Republican victor's transition team, asserted that Trump received a mandate because he won the Electoral College with 306 votes, fellow guest Maria Cardona charged that the GOP victor has no mandate because Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton captured the popular vote by more than 2.3 million ballots.
“Let's be very clear,” Cardona stated. “A lot of people are worried” that when Trump gets to the White House,” it “could be for sale either to those who make the most money off of Trump or to those from whom Trump can make the most money off of.”
Scaramucci responded that Trump is working on avoiding conflicts of interest. “He recognizes that he has the law on his side so he could basically run the presidency and his business, but he's also recognizing that he's going to sit down with his attorneys and his family and figure out a way to divide the two things.”
The Republican guest then stated that “the American people want to change government” before he noted:
Seventy-two percent of the United States thinks that we're going in the wrong direction, and if you look at his mandate, 306 electoral votes, 2,600 counties that he won, the most counties won since Ronald Reagan for a Republican president.
I think he's got the mandate, and he's going to come to Washington and disrupt things.
“I'm sorry,” Cardona replied. “There's no mandate there.”
“There certainly is,” Scaramucci declared. “The Republicans trounced the Democrats. It's the worst Democrat position since 1920.”
While acknowledging that Trump “won the presidency fair and square with the Electoral College,” the liberal guest asserted: “There's no mandate when you lose the popular vote by more than 2.3 million votes.”
When Costello brought Dylan Byers into the debate, the senior media reporter asserted: “I think you have to focus on what Donald Trump says. I think it would be a mistake not to, just like we have to focus on everything President Obama says.”
However, he continued, “we can't let up on focusing on the issues that Donald Trump doesn't want to talk about. That is the role of the press, to make sure we prioritize the issues that are important as we see them and the American people see them.”
“Dylan, I know you’re upset,” Scaramucci stated. “I know you’re upset about the election but let’s have a civil discourse between each other.”
Anthony, I'm not upset about anything. There's just one thing we do, and we call it facts and lies. There are two lies. One is that there is absolutely no evidence that millions of voters have voted illegally
And as for the mandate, Donald Trump's victory in the Electoral College is the 44th largest margin in the history of presidential elections, which is not a landslide or a trouncing by the Republicans.
“With all due respect to both of you, the Democratic Party is in its worst position in state legislatures, in the governorships, in the House (of Representatives) and the Senate, and the presidency” since 1920. “If you guys don't think that's a mandate, that's OK. Stay in your position and you'll see real change that the rest of the American people will be happy about.”
The clash began when Costello read a number of Trump's tweets in which he declared:
Nobody should be allowed to burn the American flag -- if they do, there must be consequences, perhaps loss of citizenship or year in jail.
I canceled today's meeting with the failing New York Times when the terms and conditions of the meeting were changed at the last moment. Not nice.
The host noted: “The Supreme Court ruled that burning a flag is constitutional under the First Amendment as a case of free speech” before telling Scaramucci that “some people do wonder why Donald Trump finds the time to tweet when he's working on the transition team.”
“Well listen,” Scaramucci replied, “it's an unbelievably powerful medium. He's got 16 million Twitter followers, and he thinks this is a way of going up over the top of the media directly to the American people.”
“You've got men and women all over the world that are dying for that flag, and the fact that the media is super upset about him being upset about flag burning is a mistake,” he stated.
“I would say to you very clearly that Mister Trump has the right to express himself,” Scaramucci added. ”I don't see what the problem is with that.”