During a Monday night interview with Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz (Fla.), CNN's AC360 host Anderson Cooper dismissed the idea of a "secret society" within the FBI, arguing that the text messages between FBI agent Peter Strzok and his mistress Lisa Page alleging the existence of such a society were "lighthearted." When Gaetz suggested that an "informal cabal" committed to taking down President Trump may actually exist, Cooper dismissed Gaetz’s premise: "that sounds like a massive conspiracy theory."
The media has found itself up in arms over President Trump’s appointment of Former D.C. District Attorney and frequent Fox News guest Joe diGenova to his legal team. Cooper asked Gaetz if he agreed with diGenova’s asssertion that “the Russia investigation was cooked up by a group of FBI and DOJ officials intent on, in his words, trying to frame Donald Trump of a falsely created crime.”
Gaetz responded by saying that the text messages between Strzok and Page discussing an “insurance policy” in “Andy’s office” should Donald Trump win the presidency may indicate that “those three were together manifesting their bias against the President”, thus proving “what Mr. diGenova has said is true.” Many believe that the “Andy” in these text messages refers to Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe.
Cooper pushed back: “This is similar to the argument you used to make about a secret society, which was referenced in one of those text messages as well.” Cooper then dismissed the “whole secret society thing” as seeming to be “in jest.” Gaetz conceded that a “formal incarnation” of a secret society may have never have existed but agreed that diGenova’s hypothesis of a “very informal cabal” within the FBI working to undermine President Trump may have some degree of truth behind it.
Cooper continued to downplay the significance of the text messages: “You do admit that with the fuller context, it now just was a lighthearted remark, yes?”
Gaetz did not seem confident in Cooper’s assertion of the text messages as “lighthearted remarks”, adding “there are still messages we haven’t seen” and implying that the 1.2 million records the House Judiciary Committee has requested may prove the existence of “an informal cabal functioning in secret with a societal goal of hurting President Trump without any evidence.” Cooper remained dismissive of the idea of corruption at the FBI and an “informal cabal” at the FBI, telling Rep. Gaetz “That sounds like a massive conspiracy theory.”
Gaetz again made the case that the conspiracy presents a threat to American democracy, citing the Inspector General’s report advocating for McCabe’s firing as a validation of “many of the concerns that I’ve raised along with many of my colleagues.” McCabe received a pink slip on Friday, mere hours before his retirement was scheduled to go into effect.
Along with some of his fellow House Republicans, Gaetz has advocated for a second Special Counsel to examine the work of the Inspector General and Congress in addition to taking legal action against any purveyors of wrongdoing at the FBI and the Department of Justice, which the Inspector General’s Office does not have the authority to do.
Gaetz will continue to have a hard time convincing Cooper and the rest of the media that some at “the upper echelon” of the FBI have an out for President Trump and want to use their power to take him down. The media will never openly admit it but many of them have the same exact goal.
To see the relevant transcript from CNN's Anderson Cooper 360 on March 19, click "expand."
CNN's Anderson Cooper 360
ANDERSON COOPER: The new lawyer who the President has added to his legal team said that the Russia investigation was cooked up by a group of FBI and DOJ officials intent on, in his words, trying to frame Donald Trump of a falsely created crime. Do you believe that’s what happened here, that there’s some sort of cabal at the top echelon of the FBI? Is that what you’re alleging?
REPUBLICAN CONGRESSMAN MATT GAETZ (Fla.): I think we need to look into that question. And the FBI and Department of Justice certainly can’t investigate themselves and so that’s one of the reasons why I’ve joined Congressman Lee Zeldin and others in calling for an independent review of those activities. Mr. diGenova certainly a very capable attorney, served as U.S. Attorney in Washington, D.C. and I think that there’s also evidence in the Lisa Stzrok, oh I’m sorry, the Lisa Page-Peter Stzrok text messages that would evidence Mr. diGenova’s claim, particularly the assertion that there was an insurance policy being hatched in Andy’s office, we assume that is Andy McCabe. And if those three were together manifesting their bias against the President, then certainly what Mr. DiGenova has said is true.
COOPER: This is similar to the argument you used to make about a secret society, which was referenced in one of those text messages as well. You know admit that that whole secret society thing was in, seemed to be in jest, once more texts were released, it was evidence that it was related to some Vladimir Putin calendars that were, that were released. Yes?
GAETZ: Well, I think that it’s always reasonable to try to get more context to these claims. It’s highly aberrational that you’ve got two people engaged in an extramarital affair texting in real time about an investigation of the President of the United States and about an investigation of a Presidential Candidate like Hillary Clinton. So again, it’s a, it was a reasonable question to wonder why people at the FBI were referencing a secret society. While there may have never been, not been some formal incarnation of that, you may have had the very informal cabal that Mr. diGenova referenced working against the President.
COOPER: You do admit that with the fuller context, it now just was a lighthearted remark, yes?
GAETZ: Well, look. Look, there are still messages we haven’t seen, I think that before drawing those conclusions, we should have a full redaction of the text messages, there are over 1.2 million records the judiciary committee has requested. We’ve received about 3,000 of those records. So I think there’s a lot more investigating to do and it may very well be that you had an informal cabal functioning in secret with a societal goal of hurting President Trump without any evidence.
COOPER: That, that sounds like a massive conspiracy theory.
GAETZ: It may have been a massive conspiracy at play. That’s why we want a Special Counsel to look at these things. Look, when you’ve got the FBI saying that you, that it’s wise to go and fire Mr. McCabe, who is one of the senior officials at the FBI, you have got sufficient smoke to believe that there is fire that exists. And that’s why we’re asking the tough questions, it’s why we want to have an independent review of the activities of the FBI and Department of Justice, in the FISA process, in the Clinton foundation and the Clinton e-mail scandals. And I think that Mr. McCabe’s firing validates many of the concerns that I’ve raised along with many of my colleagues.
COOPER: You said though, the FBI can’t investigate itself. As you just said, it was an FBI review, which called for McCabe to be fired.
GAETZ: It was, I don’t, but that was the Office of the Inspector General. The difference as it relates to the FISA matter, Anderson, is that there, there can be no charges brought. You see, the Inspector General cannot actually empanel a grand jury and bring charges. And so that’s why we need a second Special Counsel potentially to be able to take the work of the Inspector General, the work of the Congress and then to be able to present that evidence before a grand jury so that our justice system can work.
COOPER: So just so I’m clear, you want to shut down the Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who’s investigating the President, but create a new Special Counsel to investigate a potential cabal or secret society at the highest echelons of the FBI.
GAETZ: Correct, and the reason that I have those views is that the Mueller probe has so many people included in it, they won’t be able to see beyond their own bias. I’m not suggesting that Joseph diGenova or any major contributor or supporter of the Trump campaign be appointed to go and look into the FBI or the Department of Justice. I’m seeking an independent review with people who have not manifested their political activity to the extremes that the people have who are involved with Bob Mueller.