Monday afternoon on CNN, Wolf Blitzer interviewed Tennessee Democratic Congressman Steve Cohen and brought up an off-the-record meeting between President Trump and New York Times publisher A.G. Sulzberger, where he warned President Trump that his “attacks” on the media “could lead to violence against members of the media.”
Blitzer then asked Cohen: “Do you believe that people could take President Trump’s vitriol as a call to arms?” Not surprisingly, Cohen said yes and went so far as to compare President Trump’s supporters to the followers of Jim Jones, the “preacher” who orchestrated a mass suicide by convincing his “flock” to drink poison in “Jonestown,” Guyana.
Following a brief discussion about Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's hopes to remain on the Supreme Court, the conversation turned to Trump and the news media. Blitzer brought up the fact that “The New York Times warned the President during a private off the record meeting that his attacks…could actually lead to violence against members of the news media.” Blitzer asked Cohen if he agreed with the warning from the Times and then Cohen responded:
I definitely think they could. I’ve seen a lot of his supporters. They listen and believe everything that they put out. It’s like James Jones and they drank the Kool-Aid and I’m afraid that he could incite them to violence. A lot of them are on the edge anyway. And it’s unfortunate what he said. The free press is important to America as a bulwark of democracy and the rule of the law.
In what was a relatively short interview, Blitzer failed to bring up one topic that specifically involved Cohen. When Trump-hating FBI agent Peter Strzok testified in front of Congress three weeks ago, Cohen suggested that he deserved a Purple Heart, an honor normally reserved for service members injured at war.
As the interview ended, Cohen brought up Blitzer’s cameo in the recently released Mission: Impossible-Fallout. The starstruck Cohen praised the CNN host’s performance: “Wolf, I saw Mission: Impossible. They could have picked Lester Holt, they could have picked Anderson Cooper, they could have picked Chris Cuomo.” Cohen then pointed out that instead, “they picked the Wolf Man.” Blitzer closed the interview by urging viewers to go see the latest installment Mission: Impossible film series.
A transcript of the relevant portion of Wolf is below. Click “expand” to read more.
WOLF BLITZER: At least five more years, that’s the plan for the U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. The 85-year-old court veteran says she’s not ready to retire anytime soon, at least not until she hits 90. Her comments come as the fight intensifies over the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh for the High Court. Democrats are demanding a lot more information, specifically records from Kavanaugh’s time serving in the Bush White House. Joining us now from Memphis, Tennessee Congressman Steve Cohen, he’s a Democrat. He’s a member of the House Judiciary Committee. Let me get your quick reaction, Congressman, to what Ruth Bader Ginsburg now says.
REP. STEVE COHEN: She survived two cancers, she can survive anything. She’s physically active, she’s mentally strong, she’s brilliant. We need her for at least 2 1/2 years. I think she makes it and she serves America admirably.
BLITZER: Let me ask you about the President’s attacks on the news media here in the United States; calling the news media the enemy of the American people. As you know, the new publisher of The New York Times warned the President during a private off the record meeting that his attacks, the President’s attacks could actually lead to violence against members of the news media. Do you believe that people could take the President’s vitriol as a call to arms?
COHEN: I definitely think they could. I’ve seen a lot of his supporters. They listen and believe everything that they put out. It’s like James Jones and they drank the Kool-Aid and I’m afraid that he could incite them to violence. A lot of them are on the edge anyway. And it’s unfortunate what he said. The free press is important to America as a bulwark of democracy and the rule of the law.
BLITZER: It was an off the record meeting but then the President tweeted about the meeting and as a result, Sulzberger, the publisher, James Bennett, the editorial page editor decided to give their version as well. Let’s get to another new development, Congressman; the President launching the most personal attack yet on the special counsel, Robert Mueller, talking about non-specific conflicts of interest, calling it the Robert Mueller witch hunt now all of a sudden. What do you think of this latest attack on the Special Counsel?
COHEN: When you can’t defense, defend yourself against the facts and the truth that the President knows will come out in the report, you attack the investigators. That’s what’s happened. It’s clear as you could have it. The President knows that Mueller knows things about him and his campaign that were incriminating so he’s attacking, like Roy Cohn taught him, the investigators, and that’s unfortunate. Robert Mueller is an American hero, Donald Trump is not.
BLITZER: All of a sudden the President’s Attorney, Personal Attorney Rudy Giuliani today telling CNN that he doesn’t know if collusion with Russians is even a crime. What do you think of this new line?
COHEN: Well, I think they’re getting closer to knowing that the truth is going to come out, that there was activities with the Trump campaign and Russia and releasing those hacks and guiding them to the states and the localities where they came from. Some of that was Jared Kushner’s responsibilities. Some of it was Donald Jr. I think you’re going to probably see indictments of both of those people.
BLITZER: Actual indictments from Mueller specifically against who?
COHEN: Against Donald Jr. and against Jared Kushner.
BLITZER: You think both of them are going to be indicted by Mueller?
COHEN: I think that’s entirely possible and I think the President is going to go totally off his rocker, not that he’s on it now, and then issue pardons.
BLITZER: What kind of charges could be leveled?
COHEN: Well, I think they were probably the people that were in connection with the Russians and in conspiracy to affect the elections.
BLITZER: But do you have specific evidence that…
BLITZER: …it’s a very serious charge.
COHEN: It’s a, it’s a serious charge, wolf. And time will show whether I’m correct or not. But I believe I am correct. And if you see it, as we’ve said before, if it walks like a duck, if it swims like a duck and if it quacks like a duck, it’s a duck. You can see where it’s going.
BLITZER: Let me finally get your reaction to the President’s threat about the most recent tweet over the weekend to shut down the federal government, presumably before the midterm elections. He says it will be the Democrats’ fault for not fully funding a border wall with Mexico. What do you think of this threat?
COHEN: You know, I think if Mexico doesn’t pay for the wall, then maybe we shouldn’t have a wall. I mean, the whole campaign, and this is a campaign pledge, was Mexico will pay for the wall and the threat to close down the government is childish. It’s mishagosh.
BLITZER: So is there going to be a government shutdown, do you think?
COHEN: No. The Republicans won’t allow it to happen because it will hurt them at the ballot box and it’s a political mistake. I voted to open the government twice because people don’t want government shutdowns.
BLITZER: Congressman Steve Cohen, thanks so much for joining us.
COHEN: Wolf, I saw “Mission: Impossible.” They could have picked Lester Holt, they could have picked Anderson Cooper, they could have picked Chris Cuomo.
BLITZER: All right, don’t give it away.
COHEN: They picked the Wolf Man.
BLITZER: Don’t give it away.
COHEN: They picked you, as himself.
BLITZER: Thank you very much. Thank you. I recommend people go see the new “Mission: Impossible.” Very good film. All right, Congressman. Thanks very much for that.