In a very bizarre debate on CNN, anchor Chris Cuomo and Rep. Sean Duffy (R-Wisc.) twisted each other’s words into rhetorical pretzels about the claim that there is no evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government.
“I hope you have the same perspective of so many members of your party who say that there’s no evidence of collusion,” Cuomo began. “Because we both know as attorneys it is naive at best to suggest we could know. We don’t know what the FBI has or what they don’t have now in the hands of Bob Mueller. And to suggest that this relatively early in an investigation for the FBI, they often look at things for years, that they should know, or they should have told people what they have, and the proof should be out there, that’s equally deceptive. Don’t you think?”
“So again, I’m not buying into the fact that there was any collusion between President Trump and Russia,” Duffy responded.
“But you can’t know whether there was or not, that’s my point,” Cuomo interrupted, “how do you know there was none, how do you know that there was? You can’t know, you don’t know the proof.”
“But Chris, I agree with you, but you don’t know that either,” Duffy claimed. “And we’re running, the cable news networks are aflame of running stories about collusion between Trump and Russia, and you don’t know and I don’t know that.”
“But it’s equally wrong, if you don’t like that some media, and I know you’re not talking about us,” Cuomo continued. “If you don’t like that people are artificially saying there was collusion, to say artificially that there was no collusion is equally wrong, right? You’re not being better in that situation. You’re being a manifestation of the same problem.”
“What I think is happening is, there is a conversation about collusion,” Duffy responded. “And my point is there is no evidence of collusion.”
“But we don’t know what the evidence is – why do you think you would know if there’s evidence of collusion?” Cuomo pressed. “Why would you know?”
“Here’s why I think I would know,” Duffy said. “Washington is leaking like a sieve. There is no secrets, President Trump can’t have a conversation with the president of Mexico without it being leaked. There can’t be a conversation with a foreign diplomat without that conversation being leaked. There are no secrets. And whether it’s the conversation that Flynn had, that was unmasked and leaked, leaks everywhere.”
“If there was evidence,” he continued, “if there was information about Donald Trump colluding with the Russians, I have every confidence that that would have been leaked to the press and you would have been able to run with that story, because everything has been leaked. There are no secrets. There are no secrets, there are no private conversations. And that’s why I have some pause.”
“You can have pause, you can have pause,” Cuomo agreed, “there’s every reason for pause because it’s an unknown. I’m just saying it’s such a gross assumption that you’re making, ‘because it didn’t leak, we should assume it’s not true,’ however, whenever information does leak, you question it because it was leaked. I mean don’t you see the politics at play at that.”
The debate was emblematic of the interactions between defenders of the Trump administration and the detractors over the numerous allegations made by the media but supported by anonymous leaks. Trump embarked Friday on a foreign tour including the Holy Land, Saudi Arabia and Europe, but leaks keep assaulting his administration.
The New York Times published another anonymously sourced story Friday alleging that the president told the Russians in their White House meeting that the firing of FBI James Comey took the pressure off from a Russian investigation.