During Tuesday's edition of CNN's New Day, co-host Chris Cuomo dismissed President Trump's claim that the lawyers working on Robert Mueller's Russia probe are "just about all, either Democrats or a couple of Republicans who have worked for President Obama." Cuomo then falsely asserted that the Mueller team has a '50/50' breakdown of Democrats and Republicans.
President Trump made those comments shortly after learning that the FBI had raided the office of his longtime attorney and friend Michael Cohen, referring to the lawyers working on the Russia probe as “the most biased group of people” with “the biggest conflicts of interest I’ve ever seen.”
Cuomo dismissed President Trump’s statement as “the politics of distraction”, adding “Mueller’s team has some kind of breakdown of Democrats and Republicans, about 50/50.” Cuomo is half-right, the Special Counsel’s legal team does have “some kind of breakdown of Democrats and Republicans.” But it’s definitely not 50/50.
To paraphrase Politifact, Cuomo’s statement surely qualifies as “pants on fire.” Politifact, hardly a “fringe, right-wing tabloid,” had previously fact-checked a tweet from President Trump asking “why does the Mueller team have 13 hardened Democrats, some big Crooked Hillary supporters, and zero Republicans?”
Politifact rated the President’s statement as “half true”, only taking issue with the President’s rhetoric describing the lawyers as “hardened Democrats” and his neglect to mention that Mueller himself is a registered Republican. Citing research from The Washington Post, Politifact independently confirmed that 12 people on Mueller’s staff are registered Democrats, adding that another member of the legal team, Aaron Zelinsky, identified as a Democrat when writing a Huffington Post column supporting same-sex marriage. Politifact also independently confirmed that the remaining lawyers have no partisan affiliation. In other words, Cuomo’s assertion, to use one of his favorite phrases, is “B.S.”
Co-host Alisyn Camerota tried to downplay the partisan affiliations, arguing that President Trump suggested “that if you have any political leanings in your life or ever have, you can’t do your job professionally.” In addition to their registration as Democrats, six of the lawyers on the Russia probe donated more than $10,000 combined to Hillary Clinton during both of her Presidential campaigns. The Daily Caller put together a graphic showing all of the attorneys’ donations to Democratic candidates in federal and state elections over the years, which add up to more than $50,000.
The media will continue to act as cheerleaders for the Special Counsel investigation, even if that means accidentally or purposefully uttering false statements on the air.
A transcript is below. Click "expand" to read more.
CNN New Day
ALISYN CAMEROTA: We have that moment for people who missed it about how exercised the President became when he learned about this raid on Michael Cohen. Watch this.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: This is the most biased group of people. These people have the biggest conflicts of interest I’ve ever seen. Democrats all, or just about all, either Democrats or a couple of Republicans have worked for President Obama.
CAMEROTA: So we can fact check some of that. They’re, they’re not all Democrats. Though some, obviously on Mueller’s team are, but he can’t ask them, by the way. Here are the top people, these are all Republicans and you see Robert Mueller, Rod Rosenstein, Christopher Wray, who you were talking about, Geoffrey Berman. These are all registered Republicans and by the way Mueller can’t ask people are you, how are you registered when he chooses them for his team. I think that perhaps what President Trump is talking about, that some people on Mueller’s team have given donations to Democratic candidates in the past. But what he’s suggesting, Carrie, is that if you have any political leanings in your life or ever have, you can’t do your job professionally.
CUOMO: Right but look, we get that he’s upset about this. Cohen is very important to him personally and professionally. But you also have to call it what it is. This is the politics of distraction. Mueller’s team has some kind of breakdown of Democrats and Republicans, about 50/50. We’re told that Mueller did that intentionally because he thought he would be identified as a Republican. He wanted some kind of diversity on his team. But everybody involved in this Carrie, has to be somebody who was hand picked by this President. No matter how it transferred, once you get away from Mueller, Rosenstein, his pick. Jeff Sessions on top of the DOJ, if this isn’t seen as a matter related to Russian interference, he’s not recused. He had to know something about this. Geoffrey Berman had to know something about this in the Southern District. The head of the FBI, Christopher Wray, they’re all Trump’s guys. I just don’t think his “I’m under siege by Democrats” holds up here, does it?
CARRIE CORDERO: It doesn’t. This is a Republican Justice Department at this point with political leadership at all of the top levels. Now, there are a few division heads that have not been confirmed yet but, but they have been nominated and they are acting individuals in those capacities that would have been selected by Attorney General Sessions. So this is his own political leadership in the Justice Department that he selected. Director Mueller was chosen by Rod Rosenstein based on his extensive public service experience. His team is experienced prosecutors and Justice Department officials. If we can just back it up, what the President doesn’t like is an independent Justice Department. He doesn’t, he didn’t during the campaign and more than a year into the Presidency, he doesn’t understand that the Justice Department operates according to certain rules, ethics and the principles of the justice system. And, and that process will take its place regardless of political pressure that he has applied over the course of the last year. And so this is a wide ranging, if we talk about the Special Counsel’s office and now if there are any other spinoffs, this is obviously a wide-ranging, started as a national security investigation, now a large criminal investigation that is going in various directions and the individuals, whether or not they are now Republican nominees who are involved in the decision making process, have long experience in the Justice Department and it really does seem that they are holding true to that work in their continuation of this investigation.