You live in a world without facts: Why does Rep. John Lewis think Donald Trump isn't legitimate?
It's hard to say! You see, Lewis made his much-discussed statement on Meet the Press, and there his statement just sat. Below, you see the text of Lewis' original statement, along with Chuck Todd's questions:
TODD (1/15/17): You have forged relationships with many presidents. Do you plan on trying to forge a relationship with Donald Trump?In that exchange, Lewis said he doesn't consider Trump to be "a legitimate president" because of actions by the Russians. The Russians helped get Trump elected. This means he isn't legit.
LEWIS: You know, I believe in forgiveness. I believe in trying to work with people. It will be hard. It's going to be very difficult. I don't see this president-elect as a legitimate president.
TODD: You do not consider him a legitimate president? Why is that?
LEWIS: I think the Russians participated in helping this man get elected and they helped destroy the candidacy of Hillary Clinton. I don't plan to attend the inauguration. It will be the first one that I'll miss since I've been at Congress. You cannot be at home with something that you feel that it`s wrong.
There's always dissembling and disinformation within our election campaigns. To us, this doesn't quite explain why you'd say that Trump isn't legit.
(It does explain why you'd insist on a full investigation of what occurred.)
At that point, Todd asked an additional question. When he did, the plot thickened quite a bit, but Todd didn't seem to notice:
TODD (continuing directly): It's going to send—it's going to send a big message to a lot of people in this country that you don't believe he's a legitimate president.At this point, Lewis seems to have made a much more serious claim. He says there was "a conspiracy" to get Trump elected—a conspiracy "on the part of the Russians and others."
LEWIS: I think there was a conspiracy on the part of the Russians and others to help him get elected. That's not right. That's not fair. That's not the open, democratic process.
Who else took part in this conspiracy? For some reason, Todd didn't ask. But then, throughout the interview, which he aired in two parts, Todd spoke to Lewis as if Lewis were six years old.
Was Trump himself, or the Trump campaign, involved in the conspiracy Lewis alleged? For whatever reason, Todd never asked.
We have a relentlessly childish discourse. That said, Todd's exchange with Lewis was grown-up stuff compared with what happened when he spoke with Reince Priebus.
In the passage shown below, Priebus makes an inaccurate claim two times. Todd just sits there and takes it:
PRIEBUS: James Clapper, the intelligence community—I don't know if John Lewis knows more than they do, but they have concluded that there's no evidence that anything that was done in the course of this election by Russians, or whoever, changed the course of this election.Say what? Clapper and the intelligence community "have concluded that there's no evidence that anything that was done in the course of this election by Russians changed the course of this election?"
Obviously, that statement by Priebus was false. When the IC issued its public report about the hacking, they explicitly said that they hadn't attempted to assess whether the Russian conduct affected electoral outcomes.
("We did not make an assessment of the impact that Russian activities had on the outcome of the 2016 election." They said this plain as day, right there on page i.)
Obviously, Priebus' statement was false. Seconds later, he said it again. When he did, Todd jumped in to issue a non-challenge challenge:
PRIEBUS: There is nothing here in regard to this issue and Russia—Priebus' grammar doesn't parse, but in context, his meaning was perfectly clear. Priebus had said it two more times. The intelligence agencies have concluded that Russia's interference didn't change the outcome of the election.
TODD: Wait a minute.
PRIEBUS: —and all of the defense intelligence agencies have concluded that.
TODD: I'm just curious. when you say there's nothing here, there's—
PRIEBUS: I mean evidence that changed the outcome of the election.
This statement was false every time Priebus said it, but Todd just let it go. Here's where he took things from there:
TODD (continuing directly): You're talking—you're not disputing that there is a lot of evidence of Russia's attempts to interfere in the election?Sad! Priebus agreed that Russians did hack the DNC. He agreed that this behavior was wrong.
PRIEBUS: I'm not disputing that the Russian entities hacked the DNC, but I am—I'm not going to go back to our interview of a few weeks ago. I am also going to say that when you don't have any defenses on your computer system and you basically hand over 50,000 emails, obviously, that makes it a whole lot easier...
TODD: OK, but Mr. Priebus, does that excuse a foreign government from attempting to interfere in the United States election?
But he had also repeatedly said that the IC has concluded that this didn't change the outcome of the election. That repeated statement was false, but Todd just let it go.
In fairness, Todd is hardly alone. Last night, Don Lemon and two of CNN's liberal hacks let the same statement by a Trump hack go unchallenged. Last week, Jon Meacham let the statement go unchallenged when it was made by Joe Scarborough on Morning Joe.
It's an RNC/Trump talking point. The stars are letting it go.
What does John Lewis actually think? Todd didn't bother to ask. Subsequently, he let a glaring repeated misstatement by Priebus go unchallenged.
The world of our public discourse is an extremely childish world. On the bright side, many stars are receiving millions of bucks for their roles in this silly charade.