Trump Backer Rants About His 'First Amendment Rights' After Host Accuses Him of Using 'Fancy Rhetorical Footwork' to Dismiss Cohen's Guilty Plea
CNN’s Alisyn Camerota on Wednesday battled conservative Matt Schlapp over the legal implications of Donald Trump’s former personal lawyer and onetime campaign chairman both landing on the wrong side of the law, after Michael Cohen struck a plea deal with the Southern District of New York on the same day Paul Manafort was convicted of eight counts in the Eastern District of Virginia.
Asked if Cohen’s plea deal impacts his support of Trump, Schlapp insisted the only thing made clear by the deal is that the president’s personal attorney, like Manafort, “had an elaborate scheme to not pay their taxes and committed a lot of financial crimes and in Cohen's case, because they had him over a barrel.”
“I believe what happened is Michael Cohen pled to charges that are actually not crimes according to the FEC but that are an attempt to try to do anything to connect Cohen's wrongdoing to potential wrongdoing by Trump, and I think it’s a travesty,” Schlapp argued.
“I don't believe that the transactions associated with these two people are FEC crimes and I believe that Michael Cohen pled guilty to crimes in the plea deal that aren't in fact crimes,” he later said.
“What I think you're doing is a lot of fancy rhetorical footwork,” Camerota replied.
“I'm answering your question,” Schlapp shot back.
“My question to you was does at all affect your support of Donald Trump knowing these things?”
Schlapp rehashed the conservative talking point that he knew “Donald Trump had an extravagant life-style” and “nobody in my party or nobody of the folks that made up the Trump coalition were naive to the fact of the life he had.”
“So you were okay with those things?” Camerota asked, referring to Trump’s payouts to multiple women who claim they’ve had affairs with the president.
“No, I never said I was okay with those things,” Schlapp claimed, before complaining that Camerota was treating him with less respect than she had with her previous guest.
“I would like this interview to be along the same tone as Elizabeth Warren just had,” Schalpp whined. “Ask your questions and let me answer them.”
“I'd like that, Matt, but you have to answer my questions and not redirect,” Camerota said.
“I get to do whatever I want,” Schapp insisted. “I have a First Amendment right to answer. I will answer any question you pose to me. If you're going to turn this into a morals case against Donald Trump what the reason for the special counsel was to determine whether or not there was collusion with Putin's government, I think that that is the ultimate redirect and I think it bastardizes the very reason for this investigation.”
Schlapp continued to claim Trump’s payout, which Cohen facilitated, was not a crime, prompting Camerota to explain it’s a campaign finance law violation.
“It is not,” Schlapp argued. “It is not. Name a person in this country who has been prosecuted for this alleged crime that you say occurred. Name the name.”
“Michael Cohen,” Camerota said.
“Michael Cohen was not prosecuted,” Schlapp said, splitting hairs.
“Let's move on,” Camerota remarked. “You're saying Michael Cohen just pleaded guilty to a non-crime which seems like bad legal advice.”