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

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Cases: 557665

Reported Deaths: 7104
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin1161051683
Ramsey48076856
Dakota42704422
Anoka38757416
Washington25072274
Stearns21100219
St. Louis16883298
Scott16071117
Wright14862127
Olmsted1278097
Sherburne1068280
Carver986845
Clay784790
Rice7657102
Blue Earth699540
Kandiyohi629581
Crow Wing619886
Chisago551650
Otter Tail545273
Benton533897
Mower451332
Goodhue445572
Douglas444071
Winona439149
Nobles400848
Morrison396359
McLeod396055
Isanti380159
Itasca375553
Beltrami373557
Polk366567
Steele364114
Becker356548
Lyon349048
Carlton330752
Freeborn328529
Pine312721
Nicollet308342
Brown294839
Mille Lacs283850
Le Sueur271322
Todd269230
Cass250826
Meeker238137
Waseca231421
Martin213529
Wabasha19983
Roseau198019
Hubbard172541
Renville172543
Dodge17203
Redwood166535
Houston162514
Cottonwood157521
Fillmore15179
Pennington151219
Chippewa146737
Wadena145021
Faribault144219
Sibley136710
Kanabec132022
Aitkin128936
Watonwan12579
Rock123119
Jackson117610
Yellow Medicine110919
Pipestone110026
Pope10316
Murray10299
Swift100118
Marshall85617
Stevens82310
Lake78419
Clearwater77914
Koochiching77513
Wilkin77112
Lac qui Parle73622
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Grant5518
Norman5229
Mahnomen5088
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Red Lake3877
Traverse3605
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Cook1460

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 358375

Reported Deaths: 5826
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk56091605
Linn20328330
Scott19153235
Black Hawk15566306
Woodbury14917221
Johnson1408481
Dubuque13169203
Dallas1090996
Pottawattamie10769162
Story1032447
Warren556986
Clinton538390
Cerro Gordo523486
Webster508391
Sioux506973
Marshall477274
Muscatine461596
Des Moines441965
Wapello4254120
Buena Vista421940
Jasper407870
Plymouth398179
Lee368555
Marion354875
Jones293355
Henry286437
Bremer279460
Carroll279352
Crawford262440
Boone258933
Benton250355
Washington249250
Dickinson242543
Mahaska225250
Jackson218242
Kossuth213163
Clay211325
Tama206771
Delaware203339
Winneshiek194733
Page190421
Buchanan188931
Cedar184623
Fayette183041
Wright180535
Hardin180142
Hamilton178249
Harrison176673
Clayton167155
Butler162534
Mills158820
Cherokee157138
Floyd155442
Lyon154941
Madison154319
Poweshiek152833
Allamakee149151
Iowa145724
Hancock143734
Winnebago136231
Grundy135432
Cass134854
Calhoun133211
Jefferson130935
Emmet128840
Shelby128637
Sac127319
Louisa127249
Appanoose126647
Mitchell125241
Union123232
Chickasaw122615
Humboldt118326
Guthrie118029
Franklin112921
Palo Alto111022
Howard102822
Montgomery100637
Unassigned10020
Clarke98324
Keokuk94830
Monroe94128
Ida89633
Adair84532
Pocahontas83721
Monona81230
Davis79924
Greene76710
Osceola75716
Lucas74923
Worth7118
Taylor65412
Fremont6149
Decatur5909
Van Buren55518
Ringgold53623
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Audubon4939
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