"It ain't the Democrats, my friend."
Donald Trump's devoted minions in Congress have been hyping a misleading "intelligence memo" to discredit special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation, but it took one dogged news anchor just under a minute to completely obliterate their "release the memo" campaign.
For nearly a week, Republicans have been demanding the release of a memo prepared by Trump accomplice Rep. Devin Nunes of California, alleging surveillance abuses. They have been aided in that effort by Fox News and an army of Russia-linked social media bots, who have relentlessly promoted the #ReleaseTheMemo hashtag.
Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz has been leading the charge. He wrote a letter demanding the release of the memo and flogged the conspiracy theory on Fox News. But Gaetz more than met his match Wednesday night when he tried to peddle the campaign to CNN anchor Chris Cuomo and got shut down like a Trump government.
Gaetz insisted "Democrats are trying to block the American people from seeing" the fraudulent Nunes memo.
"Every Republican on the intelligence committee voted for more transparency," he said. "Every Democrat voted against it."
But Cuomo picked that premise apart in a mere 59 seconds. "I have something that you should probably know by now," Cuomo told Gaetz. "The Democrats can't stop you from making it public."
He pointed out that "The president of the United States has power to classify and declassify," adding "Is there a process? Does he have to follow it? No. Is he someone who seems uniquely suited to ignoring that process? Yes."
Cuomo also noted that members of Congress "have immunity for anything you say in speech or debate on the floor of Congress. You could go out there. You could read the memo, and you could put anything you want into the congressional record."
"So it ain't the Democrats, my friend," Cuomo concluded. "You could put this, if you wanted to do more than just hype it."
Cuomo's demolition of Gaetz was so thorough that he actually had Gaetz urging caution about releasing classified information hastily and recklessly, which is exactly what the Justice Department has said in response to the "release the memo" campaign.
Because Republicans control the House Intelligence Committee and the White House, Democrats could not block the release of the memo if they wanted to. The vote Gaetz referred to was a vote to allow members of the House to view the memo in a secure setting, a vote Republicans won.
As Cuomo rightly said, "It ain't the Democrats."