Matt Schlapp is doing a bang-up job of replacing Ed Martin and Jeffrey Lord on CNN. But even more than that, his early morning appearance is a stellar illustration of how Republicans lied to everyone ahead of the actual release of the Nunes Nothingburger Memo.
John Berman set the stage by pointing out that the FBI Director, Attorney General and Deputy Attorney General are all Republicans, appointed by Donald Trump himself.
Schlapp turned that on its head like a master. "These are troubling times. I am disgusted and dismayed that during a presidential election president Obama used the intelligence community to essentially spy on its political opponents."
Now we have the memo, which of course says nothing of the kind, unless Carter Page was running for president. Was he?
He was called on it immediately, asked for proof.
Earnestly, he replied, "John, that's why all of this needs to be released."
"How did they get the FISA warrant if Obama appointees didn't go after to get the FISA warrant in order to spy on the Trump team in order to find information, right, that could be politically -- hang on. You asked me a question. They are not politically appointed. They go through the process and then it gets signed off on -- no.
-- by leaders who may be politically appointed and then appointed by a judge."
Of course, the memo does not "reveal" any scandal at all. Carter Page has been under investigation since 2013 for handing documents over to Russian intelligence while he worked in Russia.
It was then pointed out to him that Trey Gowdy and Adam Schiff had read the documents used to create that memo. Because Nunes is SUPPOSED to be recused, even though his staff was still working on this particular matter.
So Schlapp retreated to his talking points, where he once again asserts that it is "clear" that "President Obama and his appointees used their full power to go after political opponents."
Except, again...the investigation into Carter Page and George Papadopoulis began long before the dossier was even compiled or Steele was in the picture, so that's a pretty lame way of targeting opponents. And if we're going to project here for a moment, isn't it far more likely that Donald Trump, micromanager and tweeter-in-chief, is using intelligence services to dig dirt on his Republican cronies in order to assure their loyalty? That is at least as reasonable as Schlapp's claims about Obama.
"And the fact that the Obama administration felt it was necessary to spy on Americans in the middle of a political campaign is a disgusting and disheartening element of what Obama did as he left office," he concluded.
This whole argument is absurd. If you hire people who hand documents to Russians, and are suspected to be agents of a foreign government, AND you're running for president, YOU MIGHT COME TO THE ATTENTION OF THE INTELLIGENCE COMMUNITY.
Honestly, it seems like this goes without saying.
And he doesn't give up. When Ana Navarro pins him down on his fantasies, he goes off again!
"[Obama] allowed and encouraged his team to use their power to go after his political opponents," Schlapp lied. "I think it's clear he went after Mike Flynn."
Uh, show me in the memo where there is any evidence of that, Matt.
This video illustrates the utility of the memo. The actual content is meaningless. It was far more valuable when Matt Schlapp could invent these Grand Conspiracies where Obama picked off Mike Flynn, and even Donald Trump, to scratch some grudge itch he had and pave the way for Hillary to win.
And now that the memo is out for all to read, doesn't Matt Schlapp look the fool? All those grand conspiracies he imagined were just obliterated in the blink of an eye and Trump's egomaniacal behavior.
This appearance and others like it by Trump flacks ahead of the release of what we now know is nothing at all should disqualify them from doing any more appearances on cable news. They are liars, time thieves, outrage makers, and they're a pox on the body politic.
As to his question about whether we should be concerned about the power vested in the likes of Donald Trump? You're damn right we ought to be.