May 18, 2018

On Thursday's MTPDaily, there was a "debate" between Charlie Sykes on the Left and Hugh Hewitt on the Right. As Driftglass has noted this is now our media future, because liberals are never ever allowed a seat at the table for fear the whoosh of accurate history might cause Chuck Todd to pass out on the air.

But as a very poor substitute for a person who has been right on some things, Charlie Sykes did make some true statements in countering Hugh "Why is he still on MSNBC when he comingled his accounts with Trump's EPA chief" Hewitt and the right wing propaganda spin, (including an actual suggestion that the FBI implanted a Serpico-like agent in the Trump campaign for no reason, really) that says of course everything is just fine because Trump won't get indicted and Mueller won't get fired. What Hugh means is, Trump's presidency will just go on for me to lick boots on and nothing Mueller says in my conservative viewer's bubble will change that.


CHUCK TODD: How many people are going to follow this president into a war against Mueller? Joining me now Charlie Sykes MSNBC political analyst and author of "How the Right Lost Its Mind." And Hugh Hewitt host on Saturday morning right here on MSNBC. Hugh, I'm going to start with you. How do you defend the Rudy Giuliani comments? He all but admits that the campaign if offered, wanted to commit a crime?

HUGH HEWITT: It is not a legal strategy. It is a political strategy. It is not a very good political strategy. It is a good legal strategy, because buried in there is his assertion that the Special Counsel's office called him and said they cannot and will not indict him. Kind of buried the lede in there. It doesn't go to whether or not he can be subpoenaed. He said we are not going to sit down with him. He is running a political strategy in the message. I don't agree with part of it. But I agree with the key finding, a year into this investigation, no evidence that is public from the Special Counsel, of collusion.

TODD: Charlie, what do you make of the Giuliani comments? How defensible are they?

CHARLIE SYKES: Well, of course, this is a political strategy. What a poisonous brew of transactionalism and cynicism to watch conservative commentators and Republicans join in this attack on this investigation when you think about it. By the way, it's flatly untrue to say there is no evidence of collusion. You have to be living under a rock or get your news from Sean Hannity not to see all of the signs. Evidence doesn't mean proof, but there are signs of actual collusion all over the place, including the Trump Tower meeting. Look, take a step back and realize how important this investigation is. If there was a conspiracy to attack American democracy, if the President of the United States is compromised by his ties to a foreign power, if there was money laundering, if there is pay to play, all of this stuff -- if the president is lying under oath, if it ever got to -- these are the kind of things that matter, that are important, that the American people need to learn about. So this attack on the investigation is not just a defense. It's really kind of an attack on American political culture. And it's kind of shocking to see how many conservatives have bought into it.

TODD: Hugh, do you want to respond?

HEWITT: The special counsel is not being attacked. I think he ought to be left alone and Rod Rosenstein ought to be left alone.

TODD: How do you say he isn't being attacked? "Witch-hunt" is an attack.

HEWITT: It is an attack on the overall process but not on Mueller and they are not going to fire him. It would be a disaster if they would fire Mueller. I said that for a year and a half. And I don't know of any serious conservatives wouldn't agree with that. Federalist 69 says the president cannot be indicted. Consider the endless loop of talking points. The "New York Times" today revealed there was either an informant or a source inside the Trump campaign. And people like Andrew McCarthy, who is respected by everyone, a never Trumper like Charlie says he is now deeply concerned whether or not there was a counter-intelligence investigation open 100 days from the election on not enough evidence.

TODD: All right. Charlie, though, on that point, it is interesting that the president tweeted to try to turn it into that. When did we lose the idea that maybe there was cause?

SYKES: There is obviously cause. You don't launch an investigation like this unless there are indications. Now, again, we don't know exactly what happened. Anyone who speculates about what Robert Mueller knows or doesn't know is engaging in base speculation. The one thing that should be obvious is this investigation is moving incredibly fast; it is incredibly wide. It is connecting an awful lot of dots. And the unknown is really dramatic. Now, this whole notion there is some sort of a mole inside the Trump campaign -- now, there is another way of looking at that, that there is an American citizen who sees possible wrongdoing who sees this kind of potential corruption, and then does his patriotic duty.

TODD: That's a whistleblower.

SYKES: Yes, a whistleblower. Think about how many people in this story should have picked up the phone and called the FBI. And now suddenly we are supposed to think if somebody did that, that that's a sign that something is wrong in this investigation? The world is upside down.

HEWITT: We need to be open to the fact that maybe they ran an informant like Serpico that was controlled by counter-intelligence officials, that would be troubling. Or maybe there was a source who was a whistleblower. That's a different narrative. I'm trying to remain open and out of the talking loop because we don't know which way this is going to go yet and I am waiting for the report from the Special Counsel with great interest.

TODD: Let me ask you this -- I've been thinking about the different scandals where we have had these moments, going back to Clinton and Nixon, what I find troubling here is why isn't there an agreement among Trump supporters that if they did do what is alleged, that it's wrong?

HEWITT: There is.

TODD: I mean, no. That's not what we heard from Rudy Giuliani.

HEWITT: I think Rudy would agree that Russians attacking our elections is terrible. You and I agreed beforehand.

TODD: But Trump is dismissing it.

HEWITT: Trump believes he didn't have anything to do with it-- he believes that. He is separating "they did that, that was bad", and I'm building up NATO and I have nothing to do with that. If that turns out not to be the case the Republican Party will turn on him.

TODD: Charlie, do you believe that?

SYKES: No. What is the worst case scenario that you might have had some conspiracy with the Russians and money laundering and the president was compromised or is -- the worst case scenario -- that that occurs and his voters won't care about it. I really wonder whether Richard Nixon would have survived Watergate in this media and political environment -- the tribalism on the right among Republicans and the unwillingness to stand up against this president. The question do they really want to find out what is true? If they do, why is this pushback to characterize it as a witch-hunt? Do they not think there are witches or --

HEWITT: What is interesting I find that the tribe of never-Trumpers is more insulated from facts than media. Media seems willing to read the "New York Times" and read deeper into it. The never Trumpers don't want to hear contrary narrative. I think the key thing is to honestly listen to both sides, await the report and be willing to go in either direction the facts lead us.

TODD: I want to ask a hypothetical. Bob Mueller is going to come to the two of you. He has the goods. It is a slam dunk. But he has to present to it the public and he knows that he's got a skeptical 40%. What would you advise Mueller to explain how you got?

HEWITT: I would take to it Robert Goodlatte and Chuck Grassley as an independent counsel report. Not like Starr, not drop in on them without warning. I would say this is coming and I'm going to ask you in the best interests of the country to encourage everyone to read it line by line and absorb its importance. That's how you get people to buy into the or go over and find the intel people and ask them to do it. Then you will get people to give a second pause. I think Grassley is one of the rarest of things in Washington, DC the honest, thorough -- Orrin Hatch, they have been around so long they don't care.

TODD: Charlie, what would your advice be to Mueller? I look at the focus group I highlighted yesterday. I wanted to tell Bob Mueller you better watch this. If you have got the goods you have got to sell it.

SYKES: You have to sell it. And you have to sell it by being fact-based. Make it as open, as transparent. Deal with the situation, lay out exactly who did what in as clear a way as possible so it refutes the kind of conspiracy theories that Hugh was pedaling a few minutes ago. Remember, Robert Mueller a year ago when he was appointed the universal respect for this man. Remind people that this is a genuinely diplomatic effort, a registered Republican former FBI director appointed by a Republican Department of Justice. But, again, facts can be stubborn things. And this is the one thing that I think a lot of people were engaging in a lot of spin. I think it's fascinating to hear Hugh talk about our talking points here. We are dealing with a lot of spin. But hard facts, that world in which Robert Mueller excels in, I think is going to be very powerful.

TODD: It's interesting -- do you agree with him that it is a Chuck Grassley? Who else is somebody that would be --

HEWITT: ...that sort of Trump supporters would listen to -- like Ken Starr. And by the way, it is not a conspiracy theory, I just read the facts.

TODD: I admit we have to have more time for the Charlie and Hugh show. Move over Avenatti and Mooch, give me Sykes and Hewitt.

End Transcript.

Yep, look forward to the debate from BOTH SIDES, Charlie Sykes and Hugh Hewitt, on your liberal tee vee.

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