In a genuinely outrageous display from a seemingly mainstream news source, CNN anchor Alisyn Camerota offered up a rationalization Monday morning for Sen. Lindsey Graham’s (R-SC) declaration that President Donald Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani will be sharing information directly with the Justice Department.
Clearly, Camerota said, this shows that the Trump administration really is cleaning up its act after the impeachment trial over Trump’s efforts to push Ukraine into investigating his political opponent Joe Biden -- efforts in which misinformation from Giuliani played a key role. (Even Fox News has documented — internally, anyway — that Giuliani traffics in disinformation.)
First, a little bit of background.
“The Department of Justice is receiving information coming out of the Ukraine from Rudy,” Graham said on the February 9 edition of CBS’ Face the Nation, further explaining that Attorney General Bill Barr “told me that they have created a process that Rudy could give information and they would see if it's verified.” (Oddly enough, this announcement by Graham came right after the release of new DOJ rules from Barr that restrict investigations of presidential candidates.)
On the Monday morning edition of CNN’s New Day, co-anchor John Berman noted that “a number of Republican senators who voted against convicting the president said, ‘He's going to learn his lesson. The administration — surely, surely they're not going to engage in this kind of behavior again,’” in a clearly sarcastic allusion to Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME).
“Well hold on a second. How is this not learning a lesson?” Camerota said. “Isn't this what the lesson is from impeachment — which is, they now are going to see if Rudy's information is verified, now.”
CNN senior political analyst John Avlon attempted to explain the problem here.
“The most generous explanation is that the Justice Department is going to create a channel to try to make sure the information isn’t Kremlin propaganda,” Avlon said. “The bad news, that also means that also means that they are taking dirt, and they’re funneling it against the president’s political enemies, as he tried to do in secret the first time around. Just like Republican senators are trying to do by getting documents from the Treasury Department against Hunter Biden.”
Berman was more blunt about the problems with what Camerota said: “I’m sorry, how is creating a crazy box at the Justice Department learning a lesson from impeachment?”
“Because maybe they’re putting it in the circular file,” Camerota said — seeming to demonstrate that she really was serious about this point, and not merely playing devil’s advocate. “Maybe what they've learned from impeachment is that the Justice Department — hold on, hold on — is that the Justice Department should now handle this. Maybe Rudy Giuliani shouldn't just be running his shadow diplomacy, and maybe the Department of Justice is going to handle it now. Maybe that's the lesson.”
All the way to the very end of the segment, Camerota argued that Graham must have been talking about a way to get rid of misinformation against the Bidens: “I hear it differently. I hear Lindsey Graham trying to claw back his reputation of ‘and I'm trying to warn everybody now not to fall for it.’ Because there was once upon a time he used to feel that way, back when Sen. John McCain was alive.”
Just to be clear, Graham has publicly declared his plans for the Senate to investigate the Bidens. So it doesn’t sound like he’s trying to bury any of the stuff that Giuliani is pushing.