Former Republican New Hampshire Gov. John Sununu responded to CNN’s “New Day” hostess Alisyn Camerota, who asked repeated questions that appear to implicate members of the Trump administration in supposedly inadmissible contacts with Russian government officials. Of late, media outlets have sought to highlight supposed back-channel contacts made by President Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner with Russian officials.
Sununu, a former White House chief-of-staff to George H.W. Bush, fended off her questions, saying, “It is not unusual,” and added, “You guys have made ‘back channel’ a derogatory word. A back channel is a positive asset.”
When Camerota asked him if “there is anything about the Russian investigation connected to the Trump campaign that troubles you?” Sununu replied, “Yeah, the reporting that’s taking place and the exaggeration of veniality and the suggestion… look, it’s now seven months since the election; and to this day, no one has cited a single piece of evidence.”
When Camerota continued to press her case with him, Sununu answered, “Look, you’re asking hypotheticals on hypotheticals.” Undeterred, Camerota asserted, “I’m trying to actually take your temperature. I’m trying to gauge your comfort level with all of this.” Sununu said, “The only discomfort I have is with folks in the media trying to create a veniality without having the courage to specifically tell me what the veniality that I should be concerned about is.” He managed to induce Camerota to admit that she does not see any evidence of collusion between Trump officials and Russia:
CAMEROTA: I’m trying to gauge your comfort level with all of this
SUNUNU: My comfort level? The only discomfort I have is with folks in the media trying to create a veniality without having the courage to specifically tell me what the veniality that I should be concerned about is. I don’t have…I have not identified a veniality. Have you?
CAMEROTA: Well. You should be concerned if there was collusion. And that’s what Congress….
SUNUNU: I don’t see any evidence of collusion. Do you?
SUNUNU: Ok, then that should end your reporting right there. You should put an exclamation point after your “no.”
CAMEROTA: Understood, but we’re at the beginning of the investigation, so…
SUNUNU: You’re seven months into the investigation!
Camerota then argued that the investigation was only just beginning because former FBI Director Robert Mueller has just taken over as Special Counsel on the Russia probe. The other three investigations, two of which are being conducted by Congress, have not yet uncovered collusion.
Sununu then put Camerota on the defensive:
SUNUNU: Can I ask a question? If Mueller comes out and says that my version is correct and yours isn’t, how much crow are you going to eat?
CAMEROTA: Governor…I don’t have a “version” of events.
Sununu summed up the whole investigation as “politically motivated by folks trying to rationalize a horribly run Democratic presidential campaign.”
At the end of the interview, Camerota told Sununu that “we appreciate your perspective that there is nothing to see here and that the investigation is, I don’t know, silly.”