Trump friend admits the president's Ukraine call was 'absolutely' inappropriate when grilled by journalist Mehdi Hasan

Trump friend admits the president's Ukraine call was 'absolutely' inappropriate when grilled by journalist Mehdi Hasan
Al Jazeera

Pro-Trump Republicans and conservatives who agree to be interviewed by British journalist Mehdi Hasan (who hosts “Up Front” on Al Jazeera in addition to writing his articles for The Intercept and hosting their “Deconstructed” podcast) know that they aren’t going to be getting the type of softball questions they typically get from Fox News. And when Chris Ruddy (CEO of the right-wing Newsmax Media and a friend of President Donald Trump) appeared on “Up Front” this week, Hasan grilled him relentlessly about the impeachment inquiry that Trump is facing in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Hasan remarked that Trump, “judging from his Twitter feed,” appeared to be “cracking under the pressure” of the inquiry. Ruddy responded, “I don’t see that at all…. I always say that he likes to walk on fire. He can walk on fire and not even feel it. He thrives on battle.”

When Hasan asked him what Trump has been telling him about impeachment, Ruddy responded, “We both agree that the impeachment was a political act, that this was started because the Democrats are a year away from election. They really have no candidate that can defeat him.”

Hasan responded, “All the polls show that all of the major candidates would beat him in an election tomorrow.” And the Al Jazeera host went on to cite another poll: one in which only 7% of respondents said it was OK to ask a foreign power for help in a U.S. presidential campaign, asking Ruddy is he was part of that 7%.

Ruddy responded, “I believe that it’s inappropriate. We should not be asking foreign governments to be involved in any political campaign or anything related to a political campaign.” And when Hasan asked Ruddy if it was “inappropriate” for Trump to do that, Ruddy replied, “Absolutely.” Ruddy added, however, “I don’t think it’s a criminal act, and I don’t think it’s an impeachable act.”

Hasan noted that Trump has used the word “perfect” to describe his now-infamous July 25 phone conversation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who he tried to pressure into investigating former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden. Asked if anything was wrong with the call, Ruddy responded, “I don’t think Joe Biden’s name should have ever been raised in the call…. because he’s a political opponent of the president. He’s running for office.”

Ruddy, nonetheless, defended Trump, insisting that nothing he said to  Zelensky was impeachable and asserting that there wasn’t widespread support for Trump’s impeachment. But Hasan set Ruddy straight, pointing out that in countless polls, more Americans than not favor an impeachment inquiry.

Hasan gave Ruddy a hypothetical: if President Barack Obama had, in 2012, asked a Ukrainian leader to investigate Republican Mitt Romney, would that have been impeachable? But Ruddy never really answered the question.

Hasan observed, “Trump falsely smears anyone he doesn’t like as scum, as Never Trumpers, as deep state…. He’s surrounded by sycophants. I hope you’re not one of them.”

Watch the video below:

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