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Cuomo pushes Giuliani to explain Comey comment

CNN's Chris Cuomo presses President Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani on whether Trump ever spoke to former FBI Director James Comey about former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

Posted: Aug 15, 2018 6:47 PM
Updated: Aug 15, 2018 7:04 PM

Rudy Giuliani, the former mayor of New York City and the current public face of President Donald Trump's legal team, sat down for an interview with CNN's Chris Cuomo on Tuesday night. It was contentious -- if generally friendly -- and ended with this exchange:

CUOMO: I think it's a little early on that. And if fact [checking] is anything, we've never had anybody with the level of mendacity that he has. Not even close.

GIULIANI: It's in the eye of the beholder.

CUOMO: No, facts are not in the eye of the beholder.

GIULIANI: Yes it is -- yes they are. Nowadays they are.

The specific context of the exchange was Giuliani making the case that Trump has more accomplishments in 18 months than his predecessors had in eight years. (Giuliani also said this of Trump just before the above exchange: "Maybe nobody has been as honest as him." Riiiiiight.) But the context doesn't really matter as much as the content.

The argument Giuliani is making is one we've heard before from this White House: You're entitled to your own facts.

Just two days after Trump was sworn in as the 45th president in January 2017, senior counselor Kellyanne Conway was challenged by NBC's Chuck Todd over claims made by White House press secretary Sean Spicer that the Trump inauguration featured the largest audience in history. "You're saying it's a falsehood," Conway responded. "And they're giving -- Sean Spicer, our press secretary -- gave alternative facts."

Conway sought to distance herself from the "alternative facts" construct in the days that followed, but the idea stuck because, over and over again, President Trump said things that simply weren't and aren't true. In his first 558 days in office, Trump said 4,229 things that were either misleading or outright false, according to statistics maintained by the indefatigable Washington Post Fact Checker. Trump is averaging more than 7.5 false claims every single day of his presidency. Every single day. And he's picking up steam; in June and July he said, on average, 16 things that were misleading or flat wrong, again according to the Fact Checker.

There is absolutely no precedent for this sort of mendacity -- in any politician, much less in a president of the United States. And it's not just the raw number of things that Trump says that are partially or totally wrong, it's how he glorifies what he is doing -- and uses his fact-free approach as a cudgel with which to beat up the media.

"Stick with us," Trump told a group of veterans in late July. "Don't believe the crap you see from these people, the fake news. ... What you're seeing and what you're reading is not what's happening."

The cynicism in that statement is towering. Trump has no real answer for the amount of mistruths and outright lies he tells. But he knows that his base hates the media and that, by making all of this about how the press covers facts as opposed to the facts themselves, he can muddy the water more than enough to turn his lack of fact-based statements into an applause line at a campaign rally.

That's the thing here. Trump, Giuliani, Conway -- they know what they are doing. And at least the latter two know the danger of it. If we can't agree on a set of facts, we can't talk. We can't debate. And we sure as hell can't break the death grip that reflexive partisanship has on the country at the moment.

That reality is more important than any political calculation. Sure, running down the media -- and with it the idea of objective truth -- is a nice juicy rare steak to toss to your political base. But it comes at a significant cost. If you keep saying stuff like "alternative facts" or that facts are "in the eye of the beholder," you erode out the very idea of truth. And that's not something -- once damaged -- can or will recover quickly, if it recovers at all.

In short: We all need to be the Cuomo of this exchange. No matter where your politics lie, you need to affirmatively stand for the idea that facts are facts.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 37542

Reported Deaths: 1272
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds310258
DeSoto205020
Madison156039
Jones125450
Harrison123116
Rankin117320
Forrest107143
Neshoba105077
Lauderdale97581
Scott83715
Jackson80919
Washington78214
Copiah69016
Leake65120
Lee64023
Grenada63412
Oktibbeha63228
Lamar6127
Warren61222
Holmes60842
Wayne57519
Yazoo5747
Leflore56956
Lowndes55317
Lincoln54136
Pike52821
Lafayette5274
Sunflower5269
Monroe47239
Panola4696
Covington4665
Simpson4613
Bolivar42818
Tate41813
Attala39024
Pontotoc3906
Adams38820
Newton37910
Marion35612
Claiborne31811
Pearl River31732
Marshall3074
Winston30513
Chickasaw30419
Jasper2956
Walthall2899
Noxubee2819
Clay26811
Smith26112
Union25811
Coahoma2376
Clarke23425
Lawrence2182
Yalobusha2089
Tallahatchie2064
Montgomery1903
Carroll18911
Kemper18414
Humphreys17810
Calhoun1765
Hancock15813
Itawamba1528
Tippah15111
Jefferson1353
Webster13511
George1313
Jefferson Davis1294
Prentiss1294
Tunica1273
Amite1183
Greene11810
Alcorn1132
Tishomingo1111
Quitman1041
Wilkinson1049
Perry954
Stone802
Choctaw764
Franklin582
Sharkey520
Benton490
Issaquena111
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 56441

Reported Deaths: 1136
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson7186174
Mobile5206147
Montgomery4690114
Tuscaloosa277754
Madison27299
Marshall209012
Shelby182026
Lee171637
Morgan14296
Baldwin139611
Walker112635
DeKalb11187
Etowah110414
Elmore110124
Dallas102810
Franklin96016
Unassigned81428
Russell7340
Autauga73317
Chambers69332
Limestone6914
Cullman6896
Houston6587
Butler65631
St. Clair6463
Tallapoosa64669
Lauderdale6337
Colbert5826
Calhoun5776
Escambia5228
Lowndes49723
Pike4915
Jackson4722
Coffee4534
Covington43913
Talladega4337
Dale4142
Barbour4133
Bullock38010
Hale36723
Marengo36411
Chilton3563
Blount3441
Marion33214
Clarke3296
Wilcox3258
Winston3157
Sumter30413
Pickens2806
Randolph27910
Monroe2773
Perry2632
Conecuh2478
Bibb2322
Macon2279
Choctaw22112
Greene2019
Henry1613
Washington1588
Lawrence1510
Crenshaw1403
Cherokee1357
Geneva1060
Lamar951
Clay922
Fayette902
Coosa691
Cleburne531
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