The South Carolina boys Graham and Gowdy explain their frustrations with and questions for the DOJ and the FBI. What do they know that we don’t know? Why would there be any incentive for the Democrats to expedite the Mueller investigation? What is the DC press corps' new standard of the truth? Washington Examiner reporter, Salena Zito joins Dan and Amy to discuss.
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Proft: Dan and Amy. You know, one of the perks of having this morning drive job is you don't have to feel guilty about eating meatloaf at 6:30 in the morning. Jacobson: Exactly! Proft: That meatloaf is pretty good. Jacobson: Thank you! Proft: Yeah, and I got a side today, of the noodles, I like that. Jacobson: It's called fettuccine. Proft: Is that what that...well, okay. If you think that's fettuccine, okay. Jacobson: That's Swedish style...that's what they call noodles in the old country. Proft: Alright, well, we got a lot of ground to cover here. I need to talk about the President's mental health, per the Wolff book and the Yale psychology professor we talked about yesterday. But also, I want to talk about the South Carolina boys, because they're coming at it from different angles, but they're raising questions about the same institutions, talking about Senator Lindsey Graham from South Carolina, Trey Gowdy, also from South Carolina, chairman of the House Oversight Committee. Both were on the talkies on Sunday, talking about one...Lindsey Graham talking about the criminal referral on Christopher Steele, and Trey Gowdy talking about getting those documents that the committees in the House have been requesting from the FBI for months and months on end. Here's Lindsey Graham...big Mueller fan, usually a Trump critic...but he's got some questions about FBI and DoJ. Graham (from tape): I've seen no evidence of collusion, but the idea of Jeff Sessions being able to investigate the campaign he was on is unacceptable. Jeff Sessions did the right thing, it would be impossible for him to look into the Trump campaign activities with the Russians, what...Mr. Mueller HAD to be appointed as Special Counsel. But we need a SECOND Special Counsel to take a look at the way the Department of Justice conducted themselves. Proft: And then we'll need a third Special Counsel to investigate the second Special Counsel, but nonetheless Graham, even with confidence in Mueller, because of these revelations about Justice and personnel, senior personnel at Department of Justice and FBI, he's raising the specter of these issues, and he goes on, on the topic. Graham (from tape): The President does believe his intel agencies. He is firmly telling the world he didn't collude with the Russians, and we're not gonna let him be the final authority on that. We're gonna let Mr. Mueller tell us whether or not this campaign colluded with the Russians. And I will do everything I can to make sure Mr. Mueller does his job, but there's other things about the Department of Justice and this investigation that bother me greatly, and I think we need a Special Counsel to look at those things. Proft: And one of those things...here we go again...Bruce Ohr. Bruce Ohr and his wife employed by Fusion GPS, involved in the assembling of information for that Trump dossier. Bruce Ohr held two positions at DoJ a month ago, associate deputy attorney general, director of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces. He's no longer the director of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces, and...yeah. So, he...and, you know, the questions of conflicts of interest with senior personnel, or political motivations, something else that Trey Gowdy would like to get some answers to. Gowdy (from tape): Well, I think there are a couple of things. You mentioned Strzok and Page, that goes to the issue of bias, that's incredibly important, because I think your viewers, our fellow citizens, want an FBI that is bias-free and dispassionate. The other issue is, even laying bias aside, did the FBI engage in a process...that we can have confidence in? 2016 was a really unusual year, you had one major presidential candidate under investigation, and you had the campaign of another major presidential candidate under investigation. So it's not illegitimate for Congress to ask the FBI and the DoJ "What did you do, why did you do it, so we can understand the process?" That is separate and apart from the bias evidenced by at least two FBI agents. Proft: For more on this topic, we're pleased to be joined by our friend Salena Zito. She is a reporter for the Washington Examiner, WashingtonExaminer.com, also New York Post columnist, and CNN contributor. Salena, thanks for joining us, appreciate it. Zito: Well, thanks so much for having me! Proft: So, what about the issues that Graham and Gowdy are raising about Justice and about FBI, and the documents that...have apparently finally been received, at least over at Devin Nunez's committee, House Intel, and bank records from Fusion GPS that are being...that have been turned over finally. Where do you see all of this going in respect to the impartiality of Justice and FBI in respect to their investigations? Zito: Ahhh....man, that's a good question, and I do not know the answer to that. In that...there are so many different moving parts, but there also is...I'm sure there's a lot they know that we don't know, right? And so, I think there's a reason why...why Graham is calling for Special Counsel on the Special...Special Counsel. And I think that's worth considering and looking at, and you have to wonder what is driving him to say this, that we don't know about, you know? What is...what is actually going on? I think...I think the thing that's really also fascinating is that I think the American people, whether they love Trump or they absolutely hate him, are really exhausted by this entire process. And, unfortunately, a lot of people have just tuned out, because that's all they hear about all the time. And I don't...I'm not saying that's a GOOD thing, I'm just saying...maybe they need to expedite themselves just a little bit and get this...and get to the heart of what's really going on. Proft: But there's no incentive for the Democrats to expedite this, right? I mean, they want to take this through the midterms with the hope of gaining control of the House and moving forward with impeachment to feed their base. Zito: Right. Yeah, absolutely! And I don't know if that's the best course of action. I mean, you remember...I mean, some may be too young to remember this, but the impeachment process on Clinton in '96 was sort of devastating, you know, not that they lost majority but you know, there's...that whole circus, that whole extent of that process, really sort of hurt the Democrats...err, hurt the Republicans, in that next midterm, and ultimately Newt Gingrich lost his speakership. So, you know, resistance isn't always that appealing, despite the passion of the opposing party. Proft: No, you know, I was a BABY back during the Clinton impeachment, but Amy is very familiar with it. Jacobson: Oh stop it! So, Salena, last night NBC News had an exclusive, they said President Trump could meet face to face with Mueller in a couple of weeks, and they're discussing a range of possible options, including written responses to questions en lieu of a formal sit down, or possibly meeting face-to-face. What advice would you give if you were advising President Trump...would you meet face-to-face with Mueller? Zito: Well, I mean, NO ONE would ever hire me to tell the President what to do. But if it were me, I mean...geez, I don't know, that's a really hard one to think...to consider, right? Like if you answer it in paper, maybe the nuance of what you're saying is lost, and then if you're willing to go toe-to-toe and then face-to-face with the guy, that...that could be both enlightening and powerful if he's able to pull it off. Proft: Well, you know, maybe he should just demand the same deal that Hillary Clinton got with Comey, just you know, "You're not under oath. You can come in and meet with us, but you're not under oath so you know, don't worry about it!" Jacobson: Well, that's an option too, actually. "You can testify, but you're not under oath." That's a possibility. But President Trump keeps saying there's no collusion, if he has nothing to hide I don't see what the downfall would be of just having an interview face-to-face. Zito: Yeah, you're absolutely right. And boy would that shock his detractors, right? They wouldn't know what to do or so if he did that because it's the least...it's the thing they least expect him to do. Proft: Yeah, and he likes to surprise, there's no question. So Salena, you're a journalist. I want to ask if you can help us understand the...apparently the new DC journalistic standard among many of the "Gang of 500". "If it rings true, it probably is true." Zito: Yeah, I've never operated under that standard. Lots of things ring true, but turn out to be a false...you know, a false door...you're taking us down to...a false alley, and there...it's a dead end. That doesn't happen all the time, but it certainly has happened in my career. In my...at least, the way I was brought up as a journalist, it's true when you have all the facts. Proft: And so, when you Michael Wolff say, as he said on Katy Tur's show yesterday, if it rings true it is true, and in response to the book that, you know, has been all the talk of the Beltway, you have David Brooks, you know, people that are very hostile to Trump, suggesting that Michael Wolff does not operate on the same journalistic standards as he and his colleagues at the New York Times...I'm not so sure about that but...and at least David Brooks and others that there...he really is making a distinction, and it really is interesting to see some erstwhile Trump critics not be comfortable embracing everything Michael Wolff has to offer in that book. Zito: Right, because they don't want to be wrong. You know, my profession is under siege, and rightly so for a lot of things. You don't want to add to it by being supportive of something that's questionable, and I think that's what you're seeing with Washington journalists right. They're looking at this, they say "Look, not everything is factual, and this is sort of what has people so upset with us. How can we get behind this, if it's what we're trying to say we aren't?" Jacobson: Today President Trump meets with lawmakers to discuss DACA, and he says "If there's no Wall, there's no Dreamers." Do you think he's gonna budge on that? Zito: No, I don't think he's gonna budge on that. I don't think the wall is what some of his critics have tried to say it is. You know, I think it's a bunch of different barriers, sometimes technological, sometimes, you know, bricks and mortar, and sometimes, you know, bodies. You know, a lot of that talk is...I'm not gonna say symbolic, but you know, trying to make the point that we need barriers between, you know, other countries and ourselves. Proft: Before we let you go, just want to get you to weigh in on the latest line of attack, and it's once again stemming in large part from the Wolff book. And that is that Trump's mental fitness for the job... Zito: Yeah, yeah! It's just awful. Proft: And yeah, just where you think...what you think of those claims, what you think...how you think the President should...is responding to them, mainly by saying he's "a stable genius" and then ignoring it. Zito: He certainly knows how to make my profession lose its mind, right? Look, I think it's a dangerous thing to do, to guess anybody's mental stability, with...and even if you're a professional, you're doing it from afar, right? And that's a dangerous precedent to make and it's also...you know, is he different? Yes. Does he not conform and blow up to the Presidential norm? Of course. Does he have the temperament to be President? ...some people would argue no. But mentally unstable? I think that's a really terrible place to go. I don't care WHO is President. Proft: She is Salena Zito, Washington Examiner reporter, New York Post Columnist, and CNN contributor. Salena, thanks as always for joining us, appreciate it. Zito: Thanks...thanks for having me.