A debate between Fox News panelists Jonah Goldberg and Mollie Hemingway grew uncharacteristically hostile Thursday over the reading of one tweet from President Donald Trump.
"So now he's created another controversy," said guest host John Roberts, "and Jonah, when you look back at what happened, that tweet precipitated the appointment of a special counsel. That was a fairly costly tweet for the president."
"It was, it was a bad idea," Goldberg responded, "and it got him in a lot of trouble. And he's still trying to back out of it. I gotta say, I don't really care about the tapes. I always thought it was a bluff, to me. It is perfect example of how he tries to run his presidency like a reality show, like wait for the big reveal at the big mid-season break kinda thing."
"What does bother me about that tweet is his insinuation that it's entirely plausible that members of the 'deep state' or the intelligence community, or law enforcement are bugging the Oval Office without his awareness," he continued. "And that is a pretty provocative charge to make. I'm sure he's making it, you know, if he ever gets pushback on it, he'll say he was just speaking tongue-in-cheek. But I thought that was the more offensive part of it."
"No, that's ridiculous," Hemingway interrupted, "you've had nothing but months of leaks from intelligence agencies about people affiliated with the Trump campaign or otherwise. It's not insane at all to think that there might be surveillance since we've seen so many again, unmasked..."
"What allegations that Donald Trump has been surreptitiously recorded without his approval?" Goldberg interjected.
"What, I mean, the issue with that original tweet is that James Comey had already been leaking to the New York Times," Hemingway responded, "and he'd been presenting stories as if he was some hero of the conversations he had had with Trump. That tweet actually got James Comey to admit that he did three times tell Donald Trump that he wasn't under investigation. It got him to admit that he did say Mike Flynn was a good guy when he was asked about it by the president. And it did get him to admit also that he pledged his honest loyalty to Donald Trump which is contrary to what he had said to the New York Times the day before that."
"It also got him a special prosecutor," Goldberg replied.
"I think it's naive to think that that would have not happened otherwise," Hemingway said. "James Comey was clearly laying a groundwork in a campaign through his leaking and it's kind of rewriting history."
"That's possible," Goldberg said. "That's possible, but my point still stands. There's no evidence whatsoever that anyone was bugging or wiretapping the Oval Office or the president of the United States without his awareness."
'There was a lot of leaking..." Hemingway interjected.
"Leaking is not bugging!" Goldberg shot back.
"...of taped conversations," Hemingway continued, "for a group of people that are not doing a lot of surveillance."
Roberts defused the debate by redirecting it to A.B. Stoddard.
The tweet in question was one from May that Comey testified was the cause of his releasing the content of his memo to the New York Times through an acquaintance. In the tweet, Trump appears to suggest the existence of tape recordings that might undermine any false accusations the president believed Comey might make.
James Comey better hope that there are no "tapes" of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!— Donald J. Trump (@Donald J. Trump)1494591975.0
Comey testified that he released the information in the memo in order to instigate the naming of a special counsel.
The president put most of the rumors to bed when he tweeted Thursday that he had no knowledge of the recordings he implied existed.
With all of the recently reported electronic surveillance, intercepts, unmasking and illegal leaking of information, I have no idea...— Donald J. Trump (@Donald J. Trump)1498150490.0
...whether there are "tapes" or recordings of my conversations with James Comey, but I did not make, and do not have, any such recordings.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 22, 2017