Kevin McCarthy ripped into a CNN reporter on Capitol Hill on Monday, pushing back as she tried to defend her network from claims of hypocrisy over the leaking of classified documents.
The exchange began with a question about whether McCarthy was “prepared to defend” Donald Trump. As the Speaker began to answer the question, he brought up the example of Andrew McCabe, who is currently employed by CNN. The reporter responded by interrupting and claiming that was a “different set of facts,” and then the fireworks started.
McCarthy just LIT UP this CNN reporter about them hiring McCabe and Clapper after they leaked classified information and interfered in 2020 pic.twitter.com/JyZg171M0z
— Jack Poso 🇺🇸 (@JackPosobiec) June 12, 2023
REPORTER: But this is a different case, this is a different set of circumstances. Right? The former president is accused of misleading law enforcement, of a conspiracy of obstructing justice. That’s a different set of facts. Are you prepared to defend him as the former president and what other actions will the House take in the House Judiciary Committee in terms of funding?
MCCARTHY: I’m answering your question. You can ask me any question you want, but I’m entitled to answer the question. You can’t put words in my mouth. Even though your network can hire Andrew McCabe who was fired from the FBI for leaking classified documents. Did you remove him from your network? No, you continue to put him on to give judgment against President Trump. You also hire Clapper.
REPORTER: What steps is the House going to take in terms of…is there any effort to defund the FBI, any effort to defund the Department of Justice after what you’ve seen the last couple of days?
MCCARTHY: So your network hires Clapper, who literally lied to the American public. One of 51 other individuals that had briefings and used it politically to tell the American public that a laptop was Russia collusion even though it had all this information about the Biden administration. Are you prepared to get rid of those people from your network? Because my concern as a policymaker is that when you weaponize government, and now you’re weaponizing networks, that is wrong.
Perhaps it’s a little controversial to say because it’s cool for commentators on the right to not like McCarthy (and there’s a whole conservative “rebellion” going on right now in the House), but I like the guy. I think he’s taken a raucous, disjointed caucus with wildly different priorities, and he’s done nearly the best job possible with the situation. That he’s really good at confronting the press is also a positive, and a welcome change of pace from Mitch McConnell, whose timid, passive attitude is downright painful to witness.
But I digress, McCarthy is absolutely correct in his critique of CNN and McCabe. While the reporter tries to deflect and claim that Trump is accused of “misleading law enforcement,” that is quite literally exactly what McCabe was accused of. The legal term for what he did was a “lack of candor,” but all that means is that he lied to FBI agents. The inspector general also proved, with documented evidence, that McCabe leaked classified information to the press.
Ultimately, he wasn’t charged, and I remember that being a bit of a crossing the Rubicon moment for trust in the federal government. At the time, the general consensus was that McCabe would be charged. It was that open-and-shut of a case. When it was revealed that he wouldn’t be, that was basically all she wrote for the credibility of the DOJ and FBI. At that point, it was clear that the federal government was going to always protect its own, even if it meant ignoring blatant criminality.
McCarthy’s point on the matter is simple. If it’s okay for CNN to hire and retain people like McCabe, who provable broke the law and leaked classified information, then why is it out of bounds for him to defend Trump from what is obviously further weaponization of the legal system?
This is how you handle the media. You don’t accept their premise, and you don’t allow them to narrow the debate. If CNN wants to talk about this subject, let’s talk about it. As McCarthy showed, it won’t go well for them.