Fox hosts Steve Doocy and Brian Kilmeade parroted White House talking points while interviewing senior counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway about former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn's resignation. Flynn resigned on February 13 amid reports that he had engaged in "potentially illegal" communications with the Russian ambassador. Former acting attorney general Sally Yates reportedly informed the White House last month that Flynn “had misled senior administration officials” including Vice President Mike Pence and “was potentially vulnerable to Russian blackmail.”
On February 14, President Donald Trump tweeted that “the real story here is why are there so many illegal leaks coming out of Washington?” During Conway’s Fox interview about an hour later Doocy said that Flynn “did what he did, but what's extraordinary to me is just the fact that there are a number of major U.S. papers that apparently got the leaks from the intel community."
Subsequently, Conway cited commentary from Fox’s Charles Krauthammer and said that Trump “wanted me to reference” his comments. Kilmeade had the quote prepared and read it in full. Conway thanked him “for repeating those remarks.”
From the February 14 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
STEVE DOOCY (CO-HOST): There are some stories out that Sally Yates, the then-acting attorney general, had alerted the White House that Mr. [Mike] Flynn might be open to blackmail because of what the conversation was -- whatever that was. What's extraordinary to me -- and we have known that, and why he acted last night -- you know, he did what he did, but what's extraordinary to me is just the fact that there are a number of major U.S. papers that apparently got the leaks from the intel community that said,“Hey, look, we've got the transcript of what Mr. Flynn said on the phone to the Russian ambassador and looks kind of shady.” Just the fact that there are these leaks inside the permanent government is troubling.
KELLYANNE CONWAY: You might be the only outlet talking about that this morning, so thank you for shining a light there. I'll let the public make their own decisions based on what you just said, but it is disturbing. Look, leaks are always disturbing. I think the president of the United States has made that very clear. And leaks, when it has to do with security intelligence information, are that much more concerning just hypothetically in the main. But what I would say in this case is, if you read these reports and then you realize that in this specific instance, what became unsustainable long-term was just the particular characterization of the contacts between General Flynn and others, as he related them to the highest officials in our land.
And also, I just wanted to say that, in speaking with President Trump this morning, he made reference to me about Charles Krauthammer, your Fox News colleague's, comments on your network last night and wanted me to reference those as well because it's not a particular contact or incident by itself. It's really the cumulative effect of that leading to incomplete or misleading, forgetful information, frankly, and completely misleading information that really was the key here.
BRIAN KILMEADE (CO-HOST): I'll read exactly what he said. He said, “What strikes me is how bizarre the whole story is. This is a cover-up without a crime. The idea that one should be all aghast because the incoming national security advisor spoke with the Russian ambassador and spoke about sanctions seems to me to be perfectly reasonable. The idea that it was illegal is preposterous.” Is that what you were referring to?
CONWAY: Yes, it is. Yes, it is. And thank you for repeating those remarks. I wish others were doing that today, just because I think that's important here as context where others are questioning timing and all that. It's very important to note that and to realize that, you know, Vice President [Mike] Pence went on national TV, as did others in the administration, frankly, based on information that was provided that was either incorrect or incomplete.
DOOCY: And, Kellyanne, there's a story today in The New York Times that said that the vice president was angry at Mr. Flynn because he lied to him. Do you think that's accurate description?
CONWAY: I don't like to characterize other people's emotions, but I've worked with Vice President Pence for over a decade, and he is a man who is slow to anger.