Fox News Channel’s “Special Report” set grew uncharacteristically rancorous Thursday over one of President Donald Trump’s latest tweets.
And it happened between two conservatives: National Reviews’s Jonah Goldberg and The Federalist’s Mollie Heningway.
At about the three-minute mark into the panel discussion, guest host John Roberts brought up Trump’s tweet admitting that while he wasn’t aware of any recordings between he and former FBI Director James Comey, such tapes may nonetheless exist.
That tweet apparently put to rest a previous one in which the president said Comey should hope that none of their conversations have been recorded.
“Jonah, when you look back at what happened, that [prior] tweet precipitated the appointment of a special counsel,” Roberts said to Goldberg. “That was a fairly costly tweet for the president.”
While agreeing that Trump’s tweet “was a bad idea,” he said he wasn’t particularly bothered by it.
What did offend Goldberg, however, was Trump’s claim that “it’s entirely plausible that members of the ‘deep state’ or the intelligence community, or law enforcement are bugging the Oval Office without his awareness.”
Hemingway disagreed and cut in.
“No, that’s ridiculous,” she said. “You’ve had nothing but months of leaks from intelligence agencies about people affiliated with the Trump campaign or otherwise. It’s not insane at all to think that there might be surveillance since we’ve seen so many again, unmasked…”
Goldberg interrupted her.
“What allegations that Donald Trump has been surreptitiously recorded without his approval?” Goldberg asked.
“What, I mean, the issue with that original tweet is that James Comey had already been leaking to the New York Times,” Hemingway responded, “and he’d been presenting stories as if he was some hero of the conversations he had had with Trump. That tweet actually got James Comey to admit that he did three times tell Donald Trump that he wasn’t under investigation. It got him to admit that he did say Mike Flynn was a good guy when he was asked about it by the president. And it did get him to admit also that he pledged his honest loyalty to Donald Trump which is contrary to what he had said to the New York Times the day before that.”
“It also got him a special prosecutor,” Goldberg shot back.
“I think it’s naive to think that that would have not happened otherwise,” Hemingway said. “James Comey was clearly laying a groundwork in a campaign through his leaking and it’s kind of rewriting history.”
“That’s possible,” Goldberg admitted. “That’s possible, but my point still stands. There’s no evidence whatsoever that anyone was bugging or wiretapping the Oval Office or the president of the United States without his awareness.”
‘There was a lot of leaking…” Hemingway put in.
“Leaking is not bugging!” Goldberg shot back.
“… of taped conversations,” Hemingway continued, “for a group of people that are not doing a lot of surveillance.”
Roberts joked, “A.B. [Stoddard] is watching a tennis match here,” and tossed the ball to her.
After she gave her assessment, Roberts wrapped everything up.
“In true Trump fashion, he has ignited a whole new controversy,” he said.
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