In a somewhat comical display, “CNN Newsroom” co-anchor Poppy Harlow felt compelled to give senior congressional correspondent reporter Manu Raju an on-air pep talk after he was stopped cold in his tracks while trying to dictate the narrative.
On Monday night, Raju was interviewing Rep. Mark Amodei, R-Nev., who Raju said was initially open to an impeachment inquiry of President Trump before changing his mind on the issue, and he asked the lawmaker “a simple, straightforward question.”
That being whether it was appropriate for [Trump] “to ask for Ukraine and later ask for China to investigate his political rivals,” as Raju described the question to Harlow and co-anchor Jim Sciutto while saying Amodei “dodged the question.”
In speaking with Amodei, Raju said: “the substance of the things that have come out is that the president asked for a public investigation into his rivals and also Ukraine aid was being withheld.”
It was at this point that the Republican interrupted to say, “That’s your conclusion.”
“That’s not my conclusion,” Raju countered. “I’m saying that’s what’s come out.”
“It sounds like a conclusion to me, so we disagree on the question,” Amodei replied.
As Raju tried to rephrase his question to maintain the narrative that Trump was out to have a foreign country investigate a political rival, Amodei pivoted to highlight the fact that the whistleblower did not follow proper protocol in reporting concerns about Trump’s call, before calling Raju a “gifted guy” for already drawing a conclusion on the outcome of the complaint.
“The president has asked for the whistleblower complaint to go through the normal processes and we’ve seen nothing of that,” he said. “So beyond that, when you say that you’ve made the conclusion, it’s like you’re a gifted guy because guess what, it isn’t over and you already know what you think.”
Ironically, Raju cited the transcript of the call to support his premise. Meanwhile, Amodei’s focus remained on the whistleblower, as he pointed out that Democrats may not even call the source to testify about his complaint.
“You’re not answering my question about the substance of the allegation,” Raju said.
“I disagree with your conclusion,” Amodei replied. “It’s a conclusion, not a question. My English teacher says you’ve got a conclusion, so if you wanna interview yourself, go right ahead. You’re interviewing me.”
After further back and forth, with Raju pressing his question and Amodei refusing to yield control of the narrative to a network that’s not friendly to this administration, the Republican got in this parting shot: “Thanks for doing the best you could.”
This being what prompted the pep talk from Harlow.
Raju summed the exchange up with Harlow and Sciutto Tuesday morning by saying Amodei was “not answering a pretty straightforward question.”
“You know, Sam Donaldson used to say, in reporting sort of lessons, he’d say if you ask someone, ‘Did you steal the money?’ and the answer is anything other than yes or no, then you’ve got a problem. It’s a simple question and you couldn’t get an answer,” he said.
Harlow assured Raju that he’s one of the best reporters on the job. “Don’t let ’em get you down,” she said.
For the record, Trump asked the Ukrainian president to get to the bottom of Biden threatening to withhold $1 billion in aid unless that nation fired a top prosecutor who was investigating corruption, to include the Ukrainian gas company Burisma Holdings — the then-vice president’s son, Hunter Biden, was paid up to $50,000 monthly to sit on the board of that company.
According to the transcripts of the call, Trump said:
“There’s a lot of talk about Biden’s son, that Biden stopped the prosecution and a lot of people want to find out about that so whatever you can do with the Attorney General would be great. Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution so if you can look into it… It sounds horrible to me.”
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