Morning Joe: Republican Congressmen Questioning Mueller Are ‘Jackasses’ ‘Trying to Undermine Rule of Law’

On Thursday’s Morning Joe, the show’s liberal panel once again rallied to the defense of Robert Mueller in response to recent calls by Republican House representatives for the former FBI director’s special counsel division to be officially investigated for serious political conflicts of interest that have been revealed within it by the reporting of a variety of different news outlets.

Co-host Joe Scarborough was especially annoyed by Republican Representatives Bob Goodlatte, Louie Gohmert, Steve Chabot, John Ratcliffe, Matt Gaetz, and Jim Jordan for questioning Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein about Mueller’s impartiality during a House Judiciary Committee hearing on Wednesday. Scarborough collectively referred to these congressmen, and presumably anyone else who agrees with them, as “jackasses” who are “trying to undermine the rule of law.” Joe prophesied that this would ultimately lead to their political “demise.”

After playing selected clips from the hearing yesterday and offering some preliminary commentary on how ridiculous they thought the above representatives’ queries to Rosenstein were, Morning Joe proceeded by trying to downplay the significance of reports calling the integrity of Mueller’s operation into question:

WILLIE GEIST: What’s important to point out is – the person, Peter Strzok, the FBI agent that [the Republican congressmen] were waving their papers about,-

SCARBOROUGH: Right.

GEIST: –was removed from the investigation last summer.

SCARBOROUGH: [interrupting] Oh, wait, wait a second, hold on Willie. Wait, are you telling me that the Inspector General-conducted investigation found these texts? By the way, I’d love to see these guys’ text messages during their hearings.

[some chuckling from the panel]

You guys wanna play that game? Show your text messages during Benghazi. Show your te- — why don’t you reveal your text messages and what you were texting each other while you were conducting an impartial investigation of Benghazi for like eight years? But anyway, I digress.

GEIST: He was removed from the, he was removed from the investigation-

SCARBOROUGH: Right.

GEIST: -by Bob Mueller. And so was the other,-

MIKE BARNICLE: [interjecting] Last summer.

GEIST: -the attorney — last, yeah, during the summer when this was revealed back [inaudible].

SCARBOROUGH: [interrupting] Oh, so the process works?

GEIST: So yeah. He found the texts, and they’re bad. You know, they, they go, they go after Donald Trump. They say “F” Trump. They call him an idiot. This and that. And when those were revealed and, and discovered, they were removed from the investigation.

MIKA BRZEZINSKI: So, so, the right thing was done?

JOE SCARBOROUGH: [cutting in over Mika] And as An-, as Andrew McCarthy writes for Nat-, National Review, Andrew McCarthy of National Review said hey, FBI agents — a conservative who’s been very skeptical on the whole Russia probe, said: These people are professionals, they’re allowed to have their own professional opinions. [quoting McCarthy tweet] The “Strzok and Page texts look like a big nothing – no hint of corruption in their jobs. Lots of people (me included) speak crudely in private about politics. If you’re ok with Trump’s outbursts, I don’t see getting whipped up over this BS.” Andrew McCarthy, who said that he worked as a prosecutor in Manhattan, and he was a conservative constantly trashing liberals in private. But, when it came to being fair, you put that aside. Everybody has opinions.

SUSAN DEL PERCIO: Right, everyone does have opinions. And as Willie said, this guy was removed from the investigation.

Contrary to the panel’s repeated assertions, Strzok was actually involved in several of the crucial months of Mueller’s investigation into purported Trump-Russia “collusion” (stretching from the 2016-17 transition period to July of this year). Moreover, although Geist did mention a few of the more choice examples of Strzok and his colleague Lisa Page’s texts, he omitted how extensive and strongly felt the two investigators’ hatred of Trump was. According to Fox News [emphasis mine]:

Page texted Strzok, “God, Trump is a loathsome human.”

“Yet he many[sic] win,” Strzok responded. “Good for Hillary.”

Later the same day, Strzok texted Page, “Omg [Trump’s] an idiot.”

“He’s awful,” Page answered.

(…)

[A]fter Trump took a commanding lead in the Republican delegate race with victories in key “Super Tuesday” primaries, Page texted Strzok, “I can not believe Donald Trump is likely to be an actual, serious candidate for president.”

Four months later, Strzok and Page exchanged messages mocking Trump and his family at the Republican National Convention.

“Oooh, TURN IT ON, TURN IT ON!!! THE DO*CHEBAGS ARE ABOUT TO COME OUT,” Strzok texted Page on July 19. “You can tell by the excitable clapping.”

(…)

On Aug. 6, Page texted Strzok a New York Times article about Muslim lawyer Khzir Khan, who became embroiled in a war of words with Trump after Khan spoke at the Democratic National Convention.

“Jesus. You should read this. And Trump should go f himself,” Page wrote in a message attached to the article.

“God that’s a great article,” Strzok answered. “Thanks for sharing. And F TRUMP.”

(…)

Strzok also oversaw the bureau’s interviews with ousted National Security Adviser Michael Flynn – who pleaded guilty to lying to FBI investigators in the Russia probe.

How can Joe and his compatriots possibly rationalize the notion that two people who worked for Mueller for months could objectively, rationally, or fairly conduct an investigation into somebody that they viewed as a despicable, idiotic “douchebag”?

Would Scarborough or anyone else at MSNBC have reacted the same way to the Strzok and Page texting story if the FBI investigators were instead saying similarly hate-filled things about Hillary Clinton and her family during the FBI investigation that Strzok led against the Democratic presidential candidate in 2016? At the very least, it seems unlikely that Morning Joe (or anyone else) would label the inevitably outraged Democratic lawmakers reacting to such a story as “jackasses.” Yet, that was exactly what Joe did in the case of the Republican representatives who were unhappy with who Mueller selected to participate in his investigative efforts:

[W]hen you’re trying to disrupt Bob Mueller’s investigation that has already brought down three or four people extraordinarily close to the President of the United States, you’re making a fool of yourself. And you’re trying to undermine the rule of law. And I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, and you jackasses don’t have to listen to me. I just — I’m, I’m a broken record here, but you’re only leading to your own demise. You’re gonna get crushed. And next year in the elections — and we’ve been warning you about this 33% thing. Listen, if you’re auditioning for the number one kiss-up, to be the number one kiss-up to Donald Trump – too late. Lindsey Graham won that award this past weekend. He’s on his tourist advisory board now for Trump enterprises. Right? All you’re doing is actually hurting Republicans in swing districts and you’re making Nancy Pelosi move one step closer to being the next Speaker of the House. Don’t undermine the rule of law. This will stay with you the rest of your life.

Scarborough preceded this rant by admitting that an investigation into former FBI head James Comey’s 2016 probe of Hillary Clinton’s alleged mishandling of classified information would be legitimate, but oddly, neither he nor anyone else on the panel seemed to know that Strzok was appointed by Comey to lead that probe. This fact inextricably links the investigations of Trump and Clinton together as both being potentially tainted by the same agent’s political bias and cannot simply be brushed aside or dismissed by special pleading on Mueller’s behalf.

If re-examining Comey and Strzok’s conduct in the Clinton case is a worthy endeavor, it is hard to imagine how looking more carefully at any part of Mueller’s current investigation that involved Strzok would not be.

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See the full transcript of the segment below for more context:

6:42 AM EST

WILLIE GEIST: Well, it’s probably because they know what’s coming, so they have to undermine the source of the information. It’s what President Trump, Trump has done for the last 11 months. Consider the source, he says. Don’t believe them. Don’t believe the press. Don’t believe the women. Now, don’t believe the FBI. Don’t believe Bob Mueller. What’s important to point out is – the person, Peter Strzok, the FBI agent that they were waving their papers about,-

JOE SCARBOROUGH: Right.

GEIST: -was removed from the investigation last summer.

SCARBOROUGH: [interrupting] Oh, wait, wait a second, hold on Willie. Wait, are you telling me that the Inspector General-conducted investigation found these texts? By the way, I’d love to see these guys’ text messages during their hearings.

[some chuckling from the panel]

You guys wanna play that game? Show your text messages during Benghazi. Show your te- — why don’t you reveal your text messages and what you were texting each other while you were conducting an impartial investigation of Benghazi for like eight years? But anyway, I digress.

GEIST: He was removed from the, he was removed from the investigation-

SCARBOROUGH: Right.

GEIST: -by Bob Mueller. And so was the other,-

MIKE BARNICLE: [interjecting] Last summer.

GEIST: -the attorney — last, yeah, during the summer when this was revealed back [inaudible].

SCARBOROUGH: [interrupting] Oh, so the process works?

GEIST: So yeah. He found the texts, and they’re bad. You know, they, they go, they go after Donald Trump. They say “F” Trump. They call him an idiot. This and that. And when those were revealed and, and discovered, they were removed from the investigation.

MIKA BRZEZINSKI: So, so, the right thing was done?

JOE SCARBOROUGH: [cutting in over Mika] And as An-, as Andrew McCarthy writes for Nat-, National Review, Andrew McCarthy of National Review said hey, FBI agents — a conservative who’s been very skeptical on the whole Russia probe, said: These people are professionals, they’re allowed to have their own professional opinions. [quoting McCarthy tweet] The “Strzok and Page texts look like a big nothing – no hint of corruption in their jobs. Lots of people (me included) speak crudely in private about politics. If you’re ok with Trump’s outbursts, I don’t see getting whipped up over this BS.” Andrew McCarthy, who said that he worked as a prosecutor in Manhattan, and he was a conservative constantly trashing liberals in private. But, when it came to being fair, you put that aside. Everybody has opinions.

SUSAN DEL PERCIO: Right, everyone does have opinions. And as Willie said, this guy was removed from the investigation. Bob Mueller is a Republican. Let’s not forgot that. If they’re so worried about party politics, there’s a Republican in charge of this investigation. What’s even more disturbing about the testimony — so I’m not sure if they were auditioning for a potential cabinet post or whatever it was, but it was just about making grand statements that were meaningless. They had enough to go with. They ha- — this, this investigation, there have been hiccups along the way. That’s enough you wanna call it into question, but do it with some moderation, because then at least you look like you can set up the table. But what’s even worse is what they di- — how they did it and took away basically the President’s — wind out of the President’s sail as he’s trying to [inaudible].

SCARBOROUGH: [interrupting] Talk about taxes.

DEL PERCIO: Exactly. So,-.

SCARBOROUGH: [interrupting] They got — they stepped on the President.

DEL PERCIO: This oppor- — you know, the White House operation, as much as they wanna kind of feed the Congress of what they wanna say to undermine the Mueller investigation, they should really focus on their own agenda.
                    
SCARBOROUGH: And you know, Mika, if they, if they want to focus on a real hearing and they really wanna get to the bottom of something, then focus on Jim Comey’s investigation of Hillary Clinton.

BRZEZINSKI: Yeah.

SCARBOROUGH: Ask why — all the questions we asked.

BRZEZINSKI: In real time.

SCARBOROUGH: Wait a second, why, why, why di- — why every time did you interview her on holiday weekends?

BRZEZINSKI: [agreeing] M-hm.

SCARBOROUGH: Why, why did you not press her? Why did you let Cheryl Mills be in there as somebody who actually was a participant in all of this? Why did you let her sit there as an attorney? Why, like — there are a lot of questions to ask.

BRZEZINSKI: Bill Clinton meeting with the Attorney General on a plane.

SCARBOROUGH: Bill Clinton meeting with the Attorney General on the plane.

BRZEZINSKI: [talking under Joe] We were there, we talked about it in real time.

SCARBOROUGH: The President [inaudible], the Pre- — the President of the United States then, Barack Obama, twice saying: Oh, there’s nothing to see here. There’s been, there’s been, uh, no — nothing to do with national security in all of this. The President, you know, putting, basically putting his hands on the scale twice. Those are legitimate questions about the Hillary Clinton investigation.

BRZEZINSKI: And-.

SCARBOROUGH: Go for it. But when you’re trying to disrupt Bob Mueller’s investigation that has already brought down three or four people extraordinarily close to the President of the United States, you’re making a fool of yourself. And you’re trying to undermine the rule of law. And I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, and you jackasses don’t have to listen to me. I just — I’m, I’m a broken record here, but you’re only leading to your own demise. You’re gonna get crushed. And next year in the elections — and we’ve been warning you about this 33% thing. Listen, if you’re auditioning for the number one kiss-up, to be the number one kiss-up to Donald Trump – too late. Lindsey Graham won that award this past weekend. He’s on his tourist advisory board now for Trump enterprises. Right? All you’re doing is actually hurting Republicans in swing districts and you’re making Nancy Pelosi move one step closer to being the next Speaker of the House. Don’t undermine the rule of law. This will stay with you the rest of your life.

BRZEZINSKI: Democrats, thank you.

(…)

This post originally appeared on NewsBusters

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