"The Young Turks" founder Cenk Uygur debated Trump campaign press secretary Kayleigh McEnany Thursday on CNN's "Cuomo Primetime" about a government watchdog group saying Trump administration spokesperson Kellyanne Conway has repeatedly violated the Hatch Act by engaging in politics as a federal employee.
"This is no longer an administration. It's a criminal cartel. Donald Trump's former National Security Advisor is a criminal, his former Campaign Manager is a criminal, his former personal attorney is a criminal, now Kellyanne Conway," Uygur said. "We're talking about the President of the United States of America, who said in the past that maybe working with law enforcement should be illegal, and he talked about rats. He talks about him in the context of a mob boss. Maybe that's why his name is Don. It's not Don Corleone. It's Don Trump."
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN: Let's do it this way. For the prosecution, Uygur, should Kellyanne Conway, should the President follow the OSC's recommendation?
CENK UYGUR, CEO & HOST, THE YOUNG TURKS: Of course he should. Here's another Trump administration official who doesn't care about the law, brazenly violates the law. In fact, one of the things that they mentioned was, "Look, we kept telling her she's violating the Hatch Act, and she did it repeatedly."
But this is no longer an administration. It's a criminal cartel. Donald Trump's former National Security Advisor is a criminal, his former Campaign Manager is a criminal, his former personal attorney is a criminal, now Kellyanne Conway, and, of course, as Scaramucci said, the fish rots from the head down.
CUOMO: Before we get into the "No, no, all the Clintons are criminals" push back, let's - spare me that for a second, Kayleigh. Why doesn't she just say what Julian Castro said, and what Kathleen Sebelius said? "All right, I see what you don't want me to do. I won't do it anymore. Thank you very much for pointing it out. Let's move on."
They didn't have any action recommended against them. This isn't an Obama person. This person was appointed by this President. Why doesn't Kellyanne, why doesn't the President come out and say, "She won't do this anymore?"
KAYLEIGH MCENANY, TRUMP 2020 PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN NATIONAL PRESS SECRETARY: Because this is politically motivated. You look and this was given a 17-page--
CUOMO: It's his appointee.
MCENANY: --memo was given to the White House at 5:00 P.M. on May 29th. They were given until 9:00 A.M. to respond, the very next day.
And you look, read the Hatch Act. It says it must be narrowly construed and expressly prohibited for it to be a violation. And there are no expressed prohibitions against social media accounts, especially personal ones that have been open, in the case of Kellyanne Conway since 2012.
And where, by the way, was OSC's memo or response and recommendation that Josh Earnest be fired for excoriating President Trump from the White House podium in the White House press briefing room?
CUOMO: Under the Obama administration you had two different cabinet officials called out. This is President Trump's Special Counsel. He appointed this person. How can it be politically motivated against him when it's his person?
MCENANY: Well it's politically motivated when you're giving it at 5, and said "Give a response by 9 A.M. to 12 counts."
CUOMO: But it's his person, Kayleigh. Help me understand that.
UYGUR: No, but, Kayleigh, you're not addressing the main issue, which is that she did it. And it wasn't just on social media. It was all over the television.
MCENANY: But what she did was not a Hatch Act violation.
UYGUR: And it was, as the Office of Special Counsel pointed out, repeatedly and brazen. So, are you ever going to say, "Hey, we're going to follow the law?" You guys break the law non-stop.
MCENANY: What? No. Straight--
UYGUR: And you claim that you're in favor of the rule of law.
MCENANY: Really? Really?
UYGUR: And this is now countless times.
MCENANY: Straight from the mouth of someone who can't get over the 2016 election, who ignores the mass violations and criminal activity of the Obama administration, the FISA warrant used to spy on the Trump campaign, the perjury of Andy McCabe, the guest you just had on, you continually ignore the--
MCENANY: --misdeeds of the Obama administration and you can't get over the 2016 election.
UYGUR: No, not true.
MCENANY: So you scream criminal cartel with no facts and just baseless accusations.
UYGUR: I just told you the facts.
CUOMO: But look, and also, look, Kayleigh, let's - we got three law degrees here, OK? You can push back and make political arguments that "Everybody's bad, so why are you only picking on us?"
The problem is you represent the current administration. And you want to talk about Andrew McCabe, I just had him on, fine. Those are allegations that he didn't tell the truth. He denies them.
I know you would respect that because you say it all the time about this President. When there are allegations made about him, you say "Well they're just allegation." He denies them.
That takes us to the next topic. What he said he would be OK doing, all three of us know you're not supposed to do. You talk about narrowly construed, the law about not taking anything of value from a foreign person, forget about a government, is clear.
Again, why not just say "Of course, I wouldn't do that. I was just saying that going to the FBI about everything is silly." Why doesn't he own that he gave an indication of something that shouldn't be done?
MCENANY: Well, number one, I would say, the President said I would likely both go to the FBI and listen to the information.
CUOMO: I know. But you can't do both. You can't do the wrong thing and the right thing. You have to pick.
MCENANY: Number two. Volume one page 187 of the Mueller report, it literally says there is no judicial opinion saying a thing of value is opposition research. And finally, the ultimate point is no one cares about the Steele dossier, a foreign spy, paid by the Clinton campaign and the DNC who roved - who roved the world it got Russian misinformation.
CUOMO: That's exactly right. He was paid by the campaign. But hold on a second. You get the legal analysis. You went to Harvard, for God's sake. They paid Steele. He didn't give them anything. It has to be a contribution. Not an expenditure.
And Cenk, Mueller said this type of information in the report can be construed as value. The reason he let off Don Jr. were two things.
One was a real pass. One was, "I don't think this was that valuable. He put some monetary value, has to be at least $2000. He didn't think this made it."
The other one was "I think the guy was too dumb to know that he was breaking the law," and I think he gave him a break on that. If these comments from the President had come out before, I think Don Jr. would have been in trouble.
But what do you think of that strategy? If the President came out, you're never going to vote for him, but if he said, "Hey, look, I shouldn't have said it that way. If anybody offers us anything like that, we're going to blow it up. We want no part of that. We don't need it to win?"
UYGUR: So, Chris, the reason he never admits to any faults, even though they're obvious and brazen, is because he's incredibly weak and insecure. And so, a strong and confident person knows when they did something wrong and says it. But the reason Donald Trump said "I never go to the FBI" is because he's a lifelong criminal and he always covers up.
MCENANY: He didn't say "I would never go to the FBI."
CUOMO: He said I will do both.
MCENANY: That is a lie.
CUOMO: He said I will do both.
MCENANY: That is all a lie.
UYGUR: No, no, no, no, no, no. "We can go to the court," he said, "My whole life, I haven't gone to the FBI."
CUOMO: That's true. He did say that.
UYGUR: And --- and that's because--
CUOMO: But he said--
CUOMO: --I think I would do both.
CUOMO: I would listen and then maybe I'd go to the FBI. But then, to be fair to Cenk, after that in the interview--
UYGUR: And, by the way, wait, wait, wait, Chris--
CUOMO: --he contradicts it and says--
UYGUR: --let me--
CUOMO: --people don't go to the FBI. Congress does this all the time.
UYGUR: Yes. He absolutely contradicted it. But also, think about that. He says, first, I would break the law. Receiving something of value, which is clearly value, they had to put money and time--
MCENANY: Not according to your beloved Mueller report.
UYGUR: --into doing the opposition research.
CUOMO: You're wrong about the Mueller analysis.
UYGUR: And then he says, yes, after--
CUOMO: Keep going, Cenk.
UYGUR: That's not true. Yes, and so, once he receives that information, he's already broken the law. It's like saying, "Well I would rob the bank then I would go to the police, and told them I robbed the bank." Well, then you'd still go to jail. But the reason he's not going to jail, of course, is because Nancy Pelosi continues to protect him.
MCENANY: Cenk, Cenk, since you're obsessed with criminal activity that doesn't exist in the Trump administration, do you at all care about the Russian misinformation from a Russian Kremlin official, paid for by the DNC, or you just not care because it's the DNC?
UYGUR: So, you know what you guys love to do is deflection.
MCENANY: Right. You don't care. I didn't think so.
UYGUR: You're attacking people - no, no, hold on, hold on. You're attacking people that are not in government right now, and you're going after Steele--
MCENANY: Oh, so they're not in government, they can buy foreign misinformation.
UYGUR: --and Hillary Clinton who are not in power.
MCENANY: Oh, my Gosh!
UYGUR: We're talking about the President of the United States of America, who said in the past that maybe working with law enforcement should be illegal, and he talked about rats. He talks about him in a context of a mob boss. Maybe that's why his name is Don. It's not Don Corleone. It's Don Trump.
MCENANY: You are deflecting.
UYGUR: And he runs a criminal enterprise.
MCENANY: Christopher Steele, the DNC--
UYGUR: He went on national TV--
MCENANY: --you don't care.
UYGUR: --and said, "You shouldn't work with the FBI. I never worked with the FBI." The FBI Director says "This is criminal activity." He says, "I think the FBI is wrong." You know who says that? Criminals say that. I thought you guys believed in the rule of law.
MCENANY: You clearly don't care about--
UYGUR: I thought you guys respected cops.
MCENANY: --Christopher Steele, and a Russian Kremlin official who gave information to the DNC.
CUOMO: Doesn't fit the definition of the statute.
MCENANY: You don't care because it's Clinton, not Trump.
CUOMO: But it doesn't fit the definition of the statute, Kayleigh. Let's put aside the argument. That's the whole point of the law. If you were going to say that they did something fraudulent, and they bought fake information, they had something made up on purpose, fine. That's one case.
But if you want to fit it into this area, you have to show that a foreigner provided value as a contribution to the campaign. You don't have it on the facts.
MCENANY: Chris, what you're literally saying is it's better to pay for Russian misinformation, than listen to a foreign power, and also inform the FBI. I would argue paying for Russia misinformation is pretty darn bad, and that's exactly what the DNC did.
CUOMO: You can argue it. But one, you're assuming it's misinformation and two, you're arguing that the law says something it doesn't.
MCENANY: It is misinformation. Comey said it's salacious and unverified. His words.
CUOMO: Some was. Go ahead, make a final point, and I got to go, Cenk.
UYGUR: Yes. Final point is, look, look at what she's trying to do, is shift a debate. We're talking about how the President of the United States said: "You shouldn't work with the FBI." And she's going "Squirrel."
MCENANY: Providing a relevant analogy that you can't answer for. You have no counterarguments.
UYGUR: We're looking at the President and his law-breaking.
CUOMO: Here's what we do.
UYGUR: Law-breaking by the President. Nancy Pelosi, do something about it.