The head of the American Conservative Union, Matt Schlapp, offered up a classic case of “Whataboutism” when confronted with the felonious record of Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign staff, which includes five different people convicted of federal crimes and one more currently under indictment for wire fraud.
Speaking with MSNBC’s Ari Melber about the first night of the Republican National Convention, Schlapp tried to parry the alarming number of Trump associates who have run afoul of the law, the latest being former 2016 Trump campaign chair Steve Bannon, arrested for embezzlement just last week.
“[Trump] basically did what he told us he would do and what he has to do in this convention is two things,” Schlapp said. “Tell people what he wants to do in a second term and the people around him who are speaking need to showcase Donald Trump, the person, the individual, and why it’s important for him to be re-elected.”
“You mentioned the people around him and obviously, I think you would agree, it’s not good news for any politician on the week of their convention, to have the person who ran the campaign last time get arrested and indicted. And it’s not just Steve Bannon,” Melber said, segueing into his next question. “I’m curious your reaction we can look at all of these individuals. You have Bannon. [Paul] Manafort, [Michael] Flynn, [Michael] Cohen. Everyone who’s been charged has been convicted and Bannon awaits trial and is legally of course presumed innocent until proven guilty. The question you argue for the re-election, is why does Donald Trump have so many people around him, why does he hire and rely on so many people who end up convicted felons?”
“Why are there so many people who are around Obama and Biden who haven’t been locked up?” Schlapp shot back, seemingly unaware of the logical conclusion one could draw from his own question. But Schlapp then dove into the alleged “Obamagate” conspiracy. “We just saw the greatest legal outrage coming from the White Hous rivalling Watergate, perhaps worse. The idea that Obama and Biden and their intelligence community around them, Susan Rice, Jim Comey, Mr. [John] Brennan, used the intelligence community to spy on their political opponents is revolting and we’ve had a plea to the fact that there was a FISA application.”
Schlapp was referring to the recent guilty plea of Kevin Clinesmith, a former career FBI lawyer — who had no connection to Obama or Biden — who admitted that he doctored an email to advance a FISA application against the 2016 Trump campaign. Clinesmith’s misconduct was first uncovered last year by DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz, who concluded that the FBI’s investigation of the Trump campaign was legitimate, but was marred by “serious performance failures.”
Melber, however, fired back at Schlapp noting that he had just advocated that Trump look forward rather than backward to make his case to the American people.
“That just happened and there’s more coming in the future,” Schlapp protested.
“I booked you to discuss this convention and in all seriousness, I think it is worth you saying and our viewers hearing, if you have an answer, why so many convicted felons around Donald Trump?” Melber pressed again.
Schlapp then made the curious decision to praise Attorney General Bill Barr’s decision-making, who would be responsible for prosecuting — or not prosecuting — former President Barack Obama and his vice president, Joe Biden.
“First, of course, we should give [Attorney General] Bill Barr credit unlike you did in the previous session, where if somebody close or is perceived as being close — and I don’t think Steve Bannon is any longer close to the president — somebody who’s perceived to be close, can have a legal action taken against them by a U.S. Attorney office that shows you that they’re playing things squarely at the Department of Justice,” Schlapp said. “Number two, all of these convictions that you walk through, I don’t think it’s fair to put Mike Flynn, if he’s on your list, because he’s just another victim of the Comey/Mueller excess. But these other people were indicted for activities away from President Donald Trump.”
“So part of your argument, as I’m hearing it is, the fact that these people are getting caught doing something wrong is a testament to your argument is it’s the independence of the Barr Justice Department,” Melber confirmed. “Is that what you’re saying?”
“I don’t think the Barr Justice Department should be criticized,” Schlapp said, before seeming to implicate Trump’s former Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, as being too lenient on the former Democratic White House. “I think they’ve done a really good job. I think the department that should be criticized is the department that whitewashed this incredible wrongdoing by Obama and Biden.”
Watch the video above, via MSNBC.
Have a tip we should know? [email protected]
Originally published: 2020-08-25 19:10:59