CNN anchor Don Lemon accused former Ohio governor John Kasich of behaving like a Trump “apologist” in a tense exchange over the president’s call with the leader of Ukraine.
Lemon pushed back after Kasich, now a CNN political commentator, asserted that the transcript of the July call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky did not actually show a “clear quid pro quo” as Democrats are contending.
Kasich argued on “CNN Tonight” Monday that, while there definitely should be an investigation of the allegations against the president following a whistleblower complaint filed about the call, it is “incumbent on the Democrats to lay out a very strong case.”
“The case has got to be so clear about how wrong this is so that people who are reasonable Republicans” will agree, he told Lemon who argued that the intention of the president’s words were “obvious” from the transcript.
“Maybe it’s incumbent upon the politicians, the people who are actually leaders, to tell the people exactly what’s going on instead of having the president and his apologists shape a message that is not true, because anybody with half a brain who read that transcript knows exactly what the president was saying,” Lemon contended.
“It is obvious. It’s not nebulous. It’s not, ‘Well, maybe he meant that.’ You know exactly what he meant. All you have to do is read it,” he added.
“Wait, wait, wait, you can’t say stuff like that,” Kasich said, shaking his head. “You can’t say that.”
“John, did you read the transcript?” Lemon shot back.
“Yeah, I read the transcript. Of course, I did!” the outspoken Trump critic replied.
“Well, were you confused by what it meant?” Lemon asked.
The former Republican presidential candidate explained that he agreed with the need for an investigation but “did not see a clear quid pro quo” from the call. Lemon pressed him on the issue again, determined to make his case.
“John, if you asked me to do something, if you said, ‘Don, I need something from you’ and I said to you, ‘John, yes, but I need you to do me a favor though,’ what does that mean?” Lemon asked.
When Kasich pushed back on the question, the CNN anchor fired back.
“Then you’re doing exactly what the apologists are doing,” he declared.
“People disagree with the transcript and they’re honest people,” Kasich responded as Lemon continued to talk over him.
“You’re not helping people understand the problem, then you are part of the problem,” Lemon exclaimed.
Kasich attempted to make his point a few more times.
“I’m suggesting to you that if you have an impeachment that doesn’t bring the Republicans or some semblance of Republicans along, and this is done strictly along party line votes, that is going to end up not helping this country,” he said. “That’s my view.”
He insisted that “some Republicans” will finally agree with Democrats and admit that they have a “good point” and Trump has “done the wrong thing.”
“I think that the Republicans now would look at the information in the Nixon era and say there’s nothing there,” Lemon responded, referring to Watergate.
Kasich shot back that he is “confident” that Republicans are “fully capable” of determining there was wrong-doing by the president.
Lemon needed to get the last word in and added that “their silence is deafening” while mocking Kasich with the idea that “it’s incumbent upon Democrats to get Republicans to do the right thing.”
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