CNN’s John Berman repeatedly grilled Trump 2020 communications director Tim Murtaugh, who was unable to substantiate President Donald Trump’s wild claims about a flight full of “thugs” being transported around the country to infiltrate protests and ignite violence.
Berman, who was guest-hosting Anderson Cooper 360 on Tuesday evening, quickly bored into the story that Trump has now told twice — first during an interview on Monday with Fox News’ Laura Ingraham — about the alleged plane full of left-wing agitators wearing “dark uniforms.” Trump then repeated the story, with contradicting details, on Tuesday during his trip to Kenosha, Wisconsin.
“Tim, what specifically is he talking about there?” Berman asked after showing a clip of the Ingraham interview.
“Well, I don’t have all the information that the president has access to,” Murtaugh said, “but we know that the people who have gone to these violent…”
“I’m sorry, I’m talking about the plane trip,” Berman broke in, not letting Murtaugh change the subject. “Do you have information…”
“I don’t have access to the same information the president has,” Murtaugh reiterated, again refusing to corroborate the details of the president’s tale. “But John, let me ask you a question about this. The people we saw harassing folks outside the White House in Washington Thursday night, those people knew the names of regular Americans coming out of the White House. The national committee…”
“Tim, I’m sorry, you’re a spokesperson for the president,” Berman said, cutting in again. “I’m sorry to interrupt. I’m asking you a question about something the president said twice. The president essentially described an airborne assault or at least an air transport assault on a convention, and you, as a senior spokesperson for the campaign says you have no information on it. How can it be that you have no information on it?”
“Well, I don’t work for one of the law enforcement agencies of the federal government,” Murtaugh protested.
“This was a political event,” Berman noted, of the RNC’s acceptance speech.
“Someone is organizing these trips. Someone is transporting these people from other states into these other cities,” Murtaugh said, throwing out verbal chaff.
After a bout of cross-talk, Berman pressed: “Can you give me one piece of evidence — that there was any flight carrying these people that the president is describing?”
Berman, still not getting a direct confirmation, played both clips of Trump, noting that in one version he told, the flight was going to Washington, in the second, the mystery flight was coming from Washington. When Murtaugh continued to focus on protestors on the ground outside the RNC’s White House speech, Berman pushed back.
“The President of the United States twice has told a very specific story. Albeit a contradictory story,” he noted. “I’ll state once again he’s the commander in chief. He controls the military. When he says something about this, when he presents the idea of again this airborne assault, whether it be coming to Washington or leaving Washington, it’s important and all I want to know if it’s in any way tethered to reality. Did it happen? And I think what you’re telling me…”
“It’s absolutely tethered to reality,” Murtaugh shot back, offering up the fact that numerous people have been arrested in Minneapolis and Kenosha that were not from those cities.
“But you have no proof!” Berman said, his patience seemingly worn out. And then he hounded Murtaugh, asking him five straight times: “Did he invent the story?!” as Murtaugh talked over him.
Moments later, Berman pointed out that Trump’s wild, unsubstantiated claim shares numerous similarities with a false claim circulating on Facebook back in June, which Idaho law enforcement quickly debunked.
“Is it possible the president read this and he’s just regurgitaing and getting details wrong? Is that possible?” Berman asked.
Murtaugh, though, dodged again, bringing up Sen. Rand Paul’s response to the menacing confrontations he and others faced as they left the RNC acceptance speech last Thursday night.
“None of that addresses…” Berman continued to point out as Murtaugh went off about the RNC demonstrators.
“Tim, you’ve got no proof,” Berman pointed out, winding down the segment. “Call us when you have information about these flights that the president has mentioned twice because as of now… we’ve got nothing.”
Watch the video above, via CNN.
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