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Cuomo pushes Giuliani to explain Comey comment

CNN's Chris Cuomo presses President Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani on whether Trump ever spoke to former FBI Director James Comey about former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

Posted: Aug 15, 2018 7:02 PM
Updated: Aug 15, 2018 7:04 PM

Rudy Giuliani, the former mayor of New York City and the current public face of President Donald Trump's legal team, sat down for an interview with CNN's Chris Cuomo on Tuesday night. It was contentious -- if generally friendly -- and ended with this exchange:

CUOMO: I think it's a little early on that. And if fact [checking] is anything, we've never had anybody with the level of mendacity that he has. Not even close.

GIULIANI: It's in the eye of the beholder.

CUOMO: No, facts are not in the eye of the beholder.

GIULIANI: Yes it is -- yes they are. Nowadays they are.

The specific context of the exchange was Giuliani making the case that Trump has more accomplishments in 18 months than his predecessors had in eight years. (Giuliani also said this of Trump just before the above exchange: "Maybe nobody has been as honest as him." Riiiiiight.) But the context doesn't really matter as much as the content.

The argument Giuliani is making is one we've heard before from this White House: You're entitled to your own facts.

Just two days after Trump was sworn in as the 45th president in January 2017, senior counselor Kellyanne Conway was challenged by NBC's Chuck Todd over claims made by White House press secretary Sean Spicer that the Trump inauguration featured the largest audience in history. "You're saying it's a falsehood," Conway responded. "And they're giving -- Sean Spicer, our press secretary -- gave alternative facts."

Conway sought to distance herself from the "alternative facts" construct in the days that followed, but the idea stuck because, over and over again, President Trump said things that simply weren't and aren't true. In his first 558 days in office, Trump said 4,229 things that were either misleading or outright false, according to statistics maintained by the indefatigable Washington Post Fact Checker. Trump is averaging more than 7.5 false claims every single day of his presidency. Every single day. And he's picking up steam; in June and July he said, on average, 16 things that were misleading or flat wrong, again according to the Fact Checker.

There is absolutely no precedent for this sort of mendacity -- in any politician, much less in a president of the United States. And it's not just the raw number of things that Trump says that are partially or totally wrong, it's how he glorifies what he is doing -- and uses his fact-free approach as a cudgel with which to beat up the media.

"Stick with us," Trump told a group of veterans in late July. "Don't believe the crap you see from these people, the fake news. ... What you're seeing and what you're reading is not what's happening."

The cynicism in that statement is towering. Trump has no real answer for the amount of mistruths and outright lies he tells. But he knows that his base hates the media and that, by making all of this about how the press covers facts as opposed to the facts themselves, he can muddy the water more than enough to turn his lack of fact-based statements into an applause line at a campaign rally.

That's the thing here. Trump, Giuliani, Conway -- they know what they are doing. And at least the latter two know the danger of it. If we can't agree on a set of facts, we can't talk. We can't debate. And we sure as hell can't break the death grip that reflexive partisanship has on the country at the moment.

That reality is more important than any political calculation. Sure, running down the media -- and with it the idea of objective truth -- is a nice juicy rare steak to toss to your political base. But it comes at a significant cost. If you keep saying stuff like "alternative facts" or that facts are "in the eye of the beholder," you erode out the very idea of truth. And that's not something -- once damaged -- can or will recover quickly, if it recovers at all.

In short: We all need to be the Cuomo of this exchange. No matter where your politics lie, you need to affirmatively stand for the idea that facts are facts.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 312969

Reported Deaths: 3637
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin661641115
Ramsey27766505
Anoka22149228
Dakota22015190
Washington13999115
Stearns13733116
St. Louis8747112
Scott846255
Wright775843
Olmsted665634
Sherburne587641
Clay498457
Carver474213
Blue Earth414116
Rice412836
Kandiyohi408122
Crow Wing359634
Otter Tail314322
Chisago311611
Nobles308730
Benton299451
Winona276930
Mower261623
Douglas260337
Polk256324
Morrison231629
Lyon218711
Beltrami217117
McLeod212812
Becker205415
Goodhue203228
Steele19497
Isanti190617
Itasca190423
Carlton185816
Todd181214
Nicollet162525
Mille Lacs153631
Freeborn15336
Le Sueur147011
Cass143710
Brown141315
Waseca139211
Pine13658
Meeker12879
Roseau11964
Hubbard114925
Martin113320
Wabasha10561
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Renville86527
Dodge8600
Watonwan8544
Wadena8016
Sibley7934
Rock7779
Aitkin76730
Pipestone72518
Fillmore6990
Houston6984
Yellow Medicine64812
Pennington6478
Kanabec61913
Murray5873
Swift5838
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Clearwater5248
Stevens5103
Marshall4979
Unassigned49359
Jackson4881
Lake4226
Koochiching3926
Wilkin3895
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Lincoln3591
Norman3497
Big Stone3182
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Grant2796
Kittson2248
Red Lake2133
Traverse1481
Lake of the Woods1001
Cook720

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 227398

Reported Deaths: 2368
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk33642336
Linn14352165
Scott1124986
Black Hawk10893135
Woodbury10372126
Johnson955336
Dubuque923291
Story678822
Dallas637257
Pottawattamie631970
Sioux370325
Webster358535
Cerro Gordo357144
Marshall348546
Clinton331344
Buena Vista305414
Des Moines291520
Muscatine289268
Warren281914
Plymouth276042
Wapello255772
Jones232313
Jasper217944
Marion205320
Lee203917
Carroll198422
Bremer195212
Henry18307
Crawford174616
Benton170619
Tama154340
Jackson144613
Delaware144221
Washington141314
Dickinson139210
Boone137011
Mahaska126827
Wright12456
Clay11784
Buchanan117010
Hardin115810
Page11374
Hamilton11199
Clayton11175
Cedar108413
Harrison107729
Kossuth10667
Calhoun10617
Floyd105016
Mills10487
Fayette103910
Lyon10338
Butler10216
Poweshiek99313
Winneshiek97613
Iowa95812
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Hancock8677
Grundy86311
Louisa86216
Sac8608
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Cass81623
Mitchell7984
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Union7706
Shelby76511
Emmet76424
Guthrie75415
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Jefferson7142
Madison6864
Unassigned6690
Palo Alto6554
Keokuk5997
Howard5599
Pocahontas5584
Greene5250
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