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 7:59 PM
Updated: Aug 15, 2018 8:04 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.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1112735

Reported Deaths: 17652
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1450832237
Lake721711247
Allen66684881
Hamilton50838487
St. Joseph49493645
Elkhart40079546
Vanderburgh34553496
Tippecanoe30654274
Johnson27559465
Hendricks26181383
Porter25556386
Madison21002452
Clark20146278
Vigo18966309
LaPorte17115261
Delaware16666300
Howard16666313
Monroe16556220
Kosciusko14216167
Hancock13061185
Bartholomew12894190
Warrick12152190
Wayne12036268
Floyd11968226
Grant11901242
Morgan10360192
Boone9815122
Noble9234122
Henry9142167
Marshall9062147
Dearborn8923100
Dubois8815139
Shelby8210129
Cass8134127
Lawrence8018185
DeKalb7761108
Jackson764093
Huntington7601113
Gibson7074118
Montgomery7052123
Harrison6923100
Knox6896115
Steuben665889
Miami6563111
Whitley655360
Putnam641584
Clinton624579
Wabash6182111
Jasper610892
Jefferson5796104
Ripley555893
Adams540581
Daviess5062117
Scott488280
Wells4814104
White475669
Greene4680100
Clay462862
Decatur4597110
Jennings448867
Fayette448396
LaGrange425990
Posey407544
Randolph3908107
Washington389856
Fountain373464
Fulton362474
Spencer360747
Starke353574
Owen351277
Sullivan347554
Orange329172
Jay328850
Rush306832
Carroll294239
Franklin290844
Perry288553
Vermillion282758
Tipton250066
Parke249630
Pike247244
Blackford221244
Pulaski208559
Newton181752
Brown176150
Crawford168829
Benton166517
Martin151820
Switzerland147212
Warren135316
Union121016
Ohio92113
Unassigned0592

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1708292

Reported Deaths: 26587
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1785651827
Cuyahoga1669492640
Hamilton1132851528
Montgomery801921395
Summit715401199
Lucas627081020
Butler56598805
Stark535121171
Lorain41895642
Warren35785412
Mahoning35635771
Lake32124495
Clermont31120363
Trumbull27130616
Delaware27046182
Licking26528336
Medina25825351
Fairfield24511287
Greene24265372
Clark21980387
Portage21117281
Richland20947340
Wood20015246
Allen18870320
Miami17196348
Columbiana16795332
Muskingum16644206
Wayne15664306
Tuscarawas14329360
Marion13250194
Ashtabula12618232
Erie12602198
Scioto12416184
Pickaway12208153
Ross11639225
Hancock11448173
Geauga10863175
Lawrence10617172
Belmont10416234
Huron9765158
Jefferson9601227
Union954075
Sandusky9272166
Seneca8853157
Knox8761170
Washington8675158
Darke8365180
Athens835396
Ashland7956149
Auglaize7897117
Shelby7459133
Defiance7331115
Crawford7233150
Fulton7167112
Brown7135115
Logan6975108
Guernsey691484
Mercer689998
Highland6718119
Clinton6493106
Madison648089
Williams645199
Preble6243140
Putnam6220120
Jackson578896
Champaign578487
Perry564979
Coshocton5623104
Ottawa561999
Morrow515264
Fayette492170
Hardin485999
Gallia469678
Van Wert465693
Pike463476
Adams4569109
Henry432378
Hocking407193
Holmes3989140
Wyandot374973
Carroll363978
Paulding323851
Meigs304959
Monroe235561
Noble219647
Morgan215238
Harrison210953
Vinton186937
Unassigned06
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