More of this, please!
While some journalists have taken to deferring to Donald Trump and his administration, CNN’s Brianna Keilar showed how it’s done when she hammered a senior Trump press official who refused to answer her simple question.
Trump’s lawyers are desperately trying to shield him from special counsel Robert Mueller’s questioning, despite the fact that Trump told reporters at a press conference in June that he was “one hundred percent” willing to speak under oath to Mueller.
On Tuesday morning, Keilar concluded her interview with White House Director of Strategic Communications Mercedes Schlapp by asking whether Trump would allow his interview with Mueller to be recorded.
Schlapp evaded the question three separate times, each time claiming that the Trump administration has been “open and transparent” about the investigation.
That irony was not lost on Keilar, who finally forced a response from Schlapp:
KEILAR: Are you expecting this is going to be an interview that’s recorded?
SCHLAPP: I will tell you that the White House has been transparent during these investigations, we continue to cooperate with the special counsel.
KEILAR: Is the president open to that level of transparency? He’s been
SCHLAPP: Again we have we have been open and transparent in cooperating with the special counsel.
KEILAR: But is he open to it being recorded?
SCHLAPP: To my knowledge, at this point is that we are we have been transparent on this issue and we are going to continue to cooperate in the Russia in this investigation.
KEILAR: Okay, but I don’t understand. You’re saying “We’re being transparent” but I’m not really getting a transparent answer from you. I guess I don’t understand, is it going to be is he open to it being recorded? I mean, the transparent answer
SCHLAPP: I have not talked to him about this issue. I do not have an answer for you.
Even Schlapp’s eventual response was a dodge, since she doesn’t need to have spoken with Trump in order to know whether he and his legal team are willing to be recorded. Her one job was to avoid a bad headline like “Trump refuses to be recorded,” but thanks to Keilar, Schlapp succeeded only in highlighting this administration’s lack of transparency.
Trump may not have any choice in the end. Former FBI Director James Comey testified to Congress that he took detailed notes of his meetings with Trump because he suspected that Trump might later lie about their conversations.
And the way Trump’s surrogates have been attacking and obstructing Mueller, recording the interview is absolutely warranted.