CNN's Alisyn Camerota Corners Conservative Matt Schlapp Over 'Spygate' Defense: 'You're Practicing Selective Hearing'
CNN’s Alisyn Camerota on Wednesday hammered Conservative Political Action Conference head Matt Schlapp over his “Spygate” claim, asking the ardent Donald Trump supporter if he’s “practicing selective hearing” in order to back the president’s unsubstantiated attacks on the FBI.
Camerota asked Schlapp if he’s worried about “long-term damage” caused by Trump’s repeated claims that Barack Obama implanted a spy in his campaign, a fact-free assertion by the president that’s been panned by critics and supporters alike.
Schlapp said he’s not worried about long-term damage caused by the president attacking the FBI, rather he’s concerned because by attacking the institution, Trump has uncovered inappropriate behavior on the FBI’s part (another claim made without regard toward facts).
“Do you think they planted a spy?” Camerota asked Schlapp point-blank.
“Yes,” he replied.
Schlapp said the embedded informant is well-known for using “dirty tricks in past political campaigns,” insisting there’s a “consensus” that “if it’s true that Obama was taking the appropriate steps to try to stop Russian meddling, all of the Republicans … say the same thing, which is: you would have told both campaigns … what Russia was up to.”
Camerota noted that former FBI Director James Comey did brief Donald Trump about what the Russians were up to, before asking Schlapp if he’d consider it “spying” for the FBI to use a “source in [Central American gang] MS-13 to find out what there doing.”
Schlapp insisted he considers that spying, prompting Camerota to wonder, “do you want the FBI to figure out when [someone] is doing something untoward?” The CNN host explained that the FBI’s goal was to run down a claim made by former Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos, who had bragged to an Australian diplomat about Russia’s possession of dirt on Hillary Clinton.
“Russia is the MS-13 in this comparison,” Camerota said. “What did you want the FBI to do?”
Schlapp complained that while the FBI “whitewashed” an investigation into Clinton, the institution “completely went after and infiltrated the Trump campaign.”
“We both agree it was a spy,” Schlapp insisted, as Camerota audibly snorted.
“Do you want the FBI to look into Russian meddling?” Camerota pressed.
“Yes and they did, and they unfortunately did it in a way where I believe it wasn’t just about Russian meddling,” Schlapp replied, complaining the investigation was “about stopping Trump.”
“The people who have seen the intelligence say there was no spying,” Camerota reminded Schlapp, turning to remarks made Tuesday by Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC), who has seen the evidence behind the FBI probe.
“I disagree with Trey Gowdy,” Schlapp said.
“No one came out of that classified intel meeting and said, ‘Aha! there’s a smoking gun,’” Camerota said, asking if it’s “possible you’re practicing selective hearing, Matt?”
“No,” Schlapp replied, before launching into a tirade about Obama’s alleged history of impropriety related to the FBI.
“I know you want to talk about the Obama administration, we’re talking about the Trump administration,” Camerota shot back.