CNN's Chris Cuomo Corners GOP Rep Claiming Russia Penetrated Clinton's Campaign More Than Trump's

Rep. Peter King (R-NY) also claimed there was no "unprecedented penetration of a presidential campaign by Russia."

Chris Cuomo and Rep. Peter King

CNN’s Chris Cuomo on Thursday hammered Rep. Peter King (R-Y) after he repeatedly accused the FBI of inappropriately opening an investigation into the Trump’s campaign’s contacts with Russia.

King was speaking with Cuomo about a classified briefing for Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) and Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC), who are meeting with FBI and DOJ officials Thursday about an informant who made contact with the Trump campaign. Department Officials will also hold a separate, bipartisan briefing later Thursday.

“I’m glad the Democrats finally want to be part of it because they've never supported us before in trying to obtain this information,” King told Cuomo. “So I think it's appropriate to be in the meeting with Devin Nunes and Trey Gowdy. They've been the ones demanding this information and fighting hard to get it. If the ‘Gang of Eight’ want to be there, that's fine. There should be nothing to hide here among people at that level.”

“There should be one meeting, should there not be, with both parties represented?” Cuomo asked.

“No,” King insisted. “Both parties are present at the second one… actually Devin Nunes will be at both of them.” King said the only reason a meeting between Nunes and Gowdy was arranged is “because the Democrats have stonewalled every attempt we've made to try to get the truth out of the Justice Department and FBI.”

“It was Nunes and Gowdy that asked for the meeting, and the Democrats say, ‘Oh we want to be part of that meeting,’” King said. “The whole ‘Gang of Eight’ will be there at the second meeting.”

“Is it not true that you had officials from the FBI and the DOJ say there was no implanted spy in the Trump campaign?” Cuomo pressed. “Is all the reporting wrong on that? Haven't they already said that?”

“Let's see what the evidence shows,” King retorted.

“You think they're lying about it?” Cuomo wondered.

“I think they've been certainly not telling the truth throughout this, that's for sure,” King offered. “I don't think there's any basis for this investigation in the first place. All they might be able to hang their hat on is this unnamed person. And if there’s as little evidence from him as there's been from the others then it shows this whole investigation should never have been started from the start.”

“You don't think there was good reason for suspicion about Russian interference in the election and whether or not they were trying to make inroads with the Trump campaign?” Cuomo asked.

“Absolutely not,” King replied, before launching into a takedown of the evidence former Trump campaign aides Carter Page and George Papadopoulos.

“To use that as the basis to investigate a presidential campaign and possibly put an informant into that campaign, you as a civil libertarian should be shouting from the rooftops against this,” King said. “If this turns out what it appears to be now this was a terrible abuse of power by the FBI and the Justice Department.”

King then insisted there was no “unprecedented penetration of a presidential campaign by Russia,” contrary to former FBI director James Comey’s claim.

“I can't believe you're saying that,” Cuomo said. “You have had so many points of contacts, so many bad choices made by people in and around that campaign about what to say and do it seems like there was clearly grounds for suspicion to look.”

“Absolutely not,” King replied. “If you want to talk about suspicion—and, I wouldn’t say this—there’s more suspicion with the Hillary Clinton campaign.”

Pressed on that point, King claimed that the DNC and Hillary Clinton’s campaign relied on the Christopher Steele dossier to open the investigation, insisting “the input that Russia had to the campaign was far more through” that memo than through the Trump campaign.

“But that was an intelligence officer working sources, not meeting with government officials from Russia who were promising bad information on your opponent,” Cuomo shot back.

King went on to insist the Russia investigation was “based 99 percent on the dossier” adding he’s looked at the pieces of evidence used to predicate the probe and “[finds] them to be worthless.”

Watch below:

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Elizabeth Preza is the Managing Editor of AlterNet. Follow her on Twitter @lizacisms.