Retired US Attorney General Michael Mukasey slammed CNN on its own network for what he said was flawed coverage of the special counsel investigation into US President Donald Trump.
Appearing for a one-on-one interview on Cuomo Prime Time on Tuesday, Mukasey said CNN was “misleading a lot of people” in its coverage of the investigation, which sought to determine whether then-candidate Trump conspired with Moscow to win the 2016 presidential election.
“You have a big audience – getting smaller by the minute now,” he said to host Chris Cuomo, who laughed nervously.
Mukasey served as attorney general from 2007 to 2009 under the George W. Bush administration.
While the special counsel’s final report did not find evidence of a criminal conspiracy with Russia, the report was for weeks the subject of intense speculation in the media. Mukasey was not impressed with CNN’s performance in the lead-up to the report’s publication, as the network insisted on the collusion narrative.
“Your network was devoting days of people sitting around and talking about a report whose contents they didn’t know – that they hadn’t seen,” Mukasey said. “In essence, panels of people sitting around a table inhaling their own exhaust, and getting high on it.”
He added that CNN helped to whip the country into “a state of absolute hysteria” over the investigation.
“Consider this,” he said, “[Trump is] being investigated for a crime that didn’t happen, and that he certainly didn’t commit.”
The opposition Democratic Party has in recent weeks distanced itself from the Russia conspiracy narrative, instead picking up the argument that President Trump tried to obstruct the special counsel investigation. The latter’s final report also did not issue any obstruction-related indictments, but left the final decision up to Attorney General William Barr.
Though the AG did not indict, the hand-off from Mueller sparked heated debate over how much evidence the special counsel gathered on obstruction, and whether Barr was insulating the president from the charges. Cuomo himself took that position on his show, for which he received a lambasting from Mukasey.