What did CNN host Anderson Cooper say to Donald Trump supporter that prompted him to apologise on air?
The interview wasn’t the first time that Cooper appeared snarky while talking to Trump surrogate
During an interview on his show Friday night, CNN host Anderson Cooper interrupted a conservative pundit with a not-so-subtle jab that he later regretted.
Cooper told Jeffrey Lord, a supporter of the president, that if Trump “took a dump on his desk,” he would still defend him. The host apologised on Twitter after his show, saying he regrets the “crude sentence”, which he followed up with an apology on air.
“It was unprofessional,” Cooper said. “I am genuinely sorry.”
The exchange occurred during a discussion about a report in The New York Times that claimed Trump called former FBI director James Comey a “nut job” in front of Russian officials during a meeting in the Oval Office earlier this month. Trump said that firing Comey, who was heading a counter-intelligence investigation on possible Russian interference in the presidential election to help him win, relieved pressure from him.
“I just fired the head of the FBI. He was crazy, a real nut job. I faced great pressure because of Russia. That’s taken off,” Trump said, according to the Times.
Cooper repeatedly asked Lord if Trump should have made such comments. Here’s the first part of the conversation:
Cooper: Sean Spicer didn’t deny that the president said these things about director Comey. Do you defend the president on this one?
Lord: I think he’s perfectly within his rights to say them. I mean, he’s the president of the United States. He can say what he wants.
Cooper: He can say what he wants, but is it smart?
Lord: Well, sure. I mean sure … You get subjective about this. As a matter of fact –
Cooper: I’m not asking you if it’s subjective. Is it smart?
Lord: Is it smart? I don’t think it matters either way. (Cooper smirks). In truth, I really don’t.
Lord later brought up comments made by former President Barack Obama, who in 2012, was caught on a hot mic telling Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev that he’ll have more flexibility to negotiate on the issue of missile defence after getting re-elected.
Obama’s critics resurrected the conversation late last year amid reports that US intelligence officials had determined that the Russian government meddled with the election to skew the results in Trump’s favour.
“Now that’s what we call collusion with the Russians,” Lord said of Obama’s comments.
Cooper, as he did throughout the interview with Lord, interjected, saying the 2012 conversation did not trigger an investigation by the FBI or calls for a special prosecutor, and Trump’s remarks to Russian officials were indefensible.
Here’s the exchange leading up to Cooper’s “crude sentence”:
Lord: I don’t care what he says to the Russians.
Lord: I mean, he’s the president of the United States.
Lord: If he wants to say that, Barack Obama wants to say whatever, if George Bush says, ‘I looked in his eyes and ...’
Cooper: If he took a dump on his desk, you would defend it.
Lord: What? (starts laughing)
Cooper: I mean, I don’t know what he would do that you would not defend. You’re a loyal guy. I think that speaks well of you.
Lord: Anderson, this is offending Eastern media elite sensibilities. Right here in America, they all think, ‘Yeah, the FBI director was a nut job.’
The interview wasn’t the first time that Cooper appeared snarky while talking to Trump surrogate.
During an interview with Kellyanne Conway on May 9, shortly after Trump fired Comey, the CNN host questioned the White House counsellor about the administration’s inconsistent statements on the former FBI director’s handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation.
A parade of White House aides, including Conway, went on air that night, scrambling to explain why the president abruptly fired the FBI director. The initial explanation from the White House was that Trump was merely responding to a recommendation from Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who wrote in a memo that Comey mishandled that Clinton investigation.
Cooper noted during the interview that Trump, as a candidate, repeatedly praised Comey for his handling of the investigation.
“You’re conflating two things that don’t belong together. Thanks for the trip down memory lane,” Conway said, responding to a series of videos that Cooper just showed of Trump praising Comey at campaign rallies. “I was on your show last fall saying we were going to win Michigan, and how we were going to do that. So that was fun.”