CNN anchor Jake Tapper increasingly lost his patience on Wednesday while interviewing Trump campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh, who tried to pull off the Trumpworld’s tactic of deflection when grilled on the President’s refusal to condemn white supremacists during his disastrous debate performance the night before.
Earlier Wednesday, Trump attempted to walk back his incendiary remark during the chaotic debate — when he directed the far-right hate group Proud Boys to “stand back and stand by” while failing to condemn white supremacists — by nonsensically claiming he doesn’t know about the extremist group.
“I don’t know who Proud Boys are,” Trump told reporters on Wednesday. “But whoever they are, they have to stand down and let law enforcement do their work.”
The President then deflected by calling on Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden to “condemn” antifa, which Trump views as “the real problem.” Biden had pointed out to Trump during the debate that “antifa” is a movement, not an organization.
Trump then insisted that he’s “always denounced any form” of white supremacy, despite blatantly refusing to do so the night before.
When grilled about Trump’s refusal to condemn white supremacy during the debate, Murtaugh tried to deflect by bringing up an opt-in Twitter poll to claim that the President won the debate.
After Tapper pointed out that it isn’t a “real poll,” the Trump campaign spokesperson turned to brushing off Republicans and conservatives who joined in on the widespread criticism that the President has faced for his erratic debate performance. Throughout the debate, Trump constantly interrupted and interjected while moderator Chris Wallace struggled to keep things on track.
“The President went in with a very clear plan,” Murtaugh said. “And he executed that plan very well. He was aggressive.”
Murtaugh then tried to steamroll Tapper as he rambled about a baseless accusation that Wallace interfered with Trump’s plan to “rescue” Biden, who the President constantly talked over throughout the debate.
Tapper wasn’t having it.
“Tim, the way that this works is I ask a question and you answer, not I ask a question and you talk for ten minutes,” Tapper said, before bringing up Trump’s attempt to clean up his refusal to condemn white supremacy earlier in the day. “Why is it so difficult for President Trump to say I condemn white supremacy, I do not want the support of white supremacists? Why is that so difficult for this president?”
Echoing Trump, Murtaugh insisted that the President has done so “many, many times” and that the “media has to accept yes for an answer.”
Tapper and Murtaugh then started clashing as they cut into each other’s remarks.
When the CNN anchor brought up Trump’s “very fine people” comments after the neo-Nazi “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville in 2017, Murtaugh fired back that he’s “not going to relitigate.”
After Tapper argued that “there were none,” Murtaugh pivoted to railing against Biden regarding racial issues in the 1970s.
Tapper appeared to hit a breaking point from there by invoking debate moderator Wallace, who lamented to the New York Times on Wednesday that he has regrets about the chaos that ensued as Trump went off the rails.
“OK, you know what, I’m not Chris Wallace,” Tapper said, sounding frustrated as he effectively ended the interview on a sarcastic note. “Thank you, Tim! Appreciate it. Thank you so much.”
Watch the exchange below:
CNN’s @jaketapper presses Trump 2020 campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh on President Trump’s debate performance and why the President hasn't directly condemned white supremacists. pic.twitter.com/7Kw46f7YoF
— The Lead CNN (@TheLeadCNN) September 30, 2020