Republican Congressman Mike Turner spent more than eight minutes on CNN Thursday morning desperately trying to avoid criticizing President Donald Trump. The Ohio congressman was in the room on Wednesday when Trump made insulting remarks about the late Senator John McCain.
CNN’s John Berman asked Turner about Trump’s comments, which have received widespread coverage in the press but little condemnation from Republicans. Turner wanted to talk about practically anything else, turning to the Steele dossier and Hillary Clinton.
“I want to cover this quickly if we can before we get to other subjects,” Berman said. “You were in the room there. What went through your head when the president said what he said about John McCain?”
“Well, I think what’s come to light in most recent days is, of course, the use of the discredited dossier and it’s being placed in McCain’s hands by Democratic Party operatives, by Christopher Steele who was being paid by Hillary Clinton…”
Berman cut Turner off at this point.
“Congressman. I’m sorry. But what does that have to do with John McCain’s funeral, Congressman?”
“I’m not talking about his funeral,” Turner said. “I’m saying over the recent days the attempts to use John McCain to legitimize the discredited dossier for the purposes of initiating an investigation against the president has come to light in testimony that you’re very much aware of that, that McCain’s associate David Kramer testified that they even — that Christopher Steele said the dossier was being given to McCain for the purposes of legitimizing it.”
“My expectation is that if John McCain had known this information was Democratic Party funded, Hillary Clinton funded information, that it had not been verified, as Christopher Steele has testified now, he probably wouldn’t have had anything to do with it. And that I think is largely on the minds of people as we hear the president doing these attacks, I think John McCain is a national hero. I worked with him on national security issues. I cannot believe if he had not been deceived and had been told this information was being paid for by Hillary Clinton, that Christopher Steele himself was being paid for by Hillary Clinton he would have had anything to do with it.”
Berman was taken aback by Turner’s decision to discuss the Steele Dossier in connection to McCain.
“You are criticizing John McCain. I’m surprised to hear this. This is not what I expected, sir,” Berman said.
“It’s not a criticism of John McCain,” Turner said.
What followed was a long exchange between the two, with Turner repeatedly refusing to respond to Trump’s comments on McCain’s funeral.
Turner eventually admitted that people in the room were surprised by Trump’s comments and said he was personally saddened, but then tried to steer the conversation towards the tank plant Trump had been visiting. Berman asked repeatedly whether McCain’s role in handing the Steele dossier justified Trump’s comments. Turner appeared visibly uncomfortable as he assiduously avoided criticizing the president.
Watch the video above, via CNN.