In a series of tweets in which he took aim at his beleaguered attorney general Monday, President Donald Trump complained about the recent federal indictments of two Republican lawmakers — and early Trump supporters — while hammering Jeff Sessions for potentially letting two GOP-held seats go to Democrats. The tweets have understandably been met with widespread outrage, even leading Republican Senator Ben Sasse to say America is “not some banana republic” in response to Trump’s objections over politically inconvenient criminal cases.
While Sasse was willing to at least go on record and challenge POTUS for casually obstructing justice, one of Sasse’s colleagues basically said he didn’t have any problems with the president’s tweets while also claiming he has no oversight of Trump’s public statements on policy.
Appearing on CNN’s New Day Tuesday morning, Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) was asked by co-host John Berman if he thought it was appropriate for the president to criticize the charges against the GOP congressmen because it placed “two easy wins” in doubt. The colloquialism-spewing senator noted that he “thought” it was policy for the DOJ not to announce indictments before an election, so he wanted to know if the Justice Department followed its policies.
“The election is irrelevant to me as long as they followed its policy,” Kennedy stated. “Number two, most Americans think that members of Congress were born tired, raised lazy and are corrupt. That’s not been my experience but perception is important. what matters 1 the evidence with respect to these two congressmen. If they didn’t do anything I don’t think they shouldn’t be punished but if they did, they have to be held accountable.”
After Berman explained to Kennedy that the DOJ guideline — not a firm policy — is to hold off on announcing indictments of elected officials and candidates 60 days before an election and both indictments were well outside that window, the CNN anchor confronted Kennedy on his feeling about Trump tweets.
“You’re fine with the prosecution — are you fine with the president saying that the Justice Department should have laid off because they’re Republicans?” Berman asked.
“Well, the president is entitled to his opinion,” the Louisiana Republican responded, causing Berman to exclaim “oh, come on.”
Kennedy would reiterate that Trump is “entitled to his opinion” before stating that perhaps the president thinks the DOJ’s policy should change. This led Berman to confront the lawmaker on his oversight responsibilities while pressing the senator again to express an opinion on whether or not he believes Trump’s remarks were appropriate or not.
This resulted in Kennedy giving the following response in which he not only said he had no oversight of Trump tweets but also suggested the Deep State was potentially responsible for the recent indictments:
“I as a member of the U.S. Senate have oversight when the president nominates somebody to a position that has to be confirmed. Now I don’t see it either in statute or constitution that I have oversight of the president’s tweets. And what I’m suggesting is the president obviously has an opinion. I don’t know the basis for that opinion. I have an opinion. You know what they say about opinions but my opinion is that as long as Justice follows policy I’m fine. I do think there’s a larger issue here, though, John. I think we have learned in the past year and a half that there were and perhaps still are a small minority of people in the Justice Department and the FBI who tried or at least influence the 2016 election.”
Berman told Kennedy that neither of them had any knowledge whether former FBI agent and current right-wing boogeyman Peter Strzok was involved in the charges filed against Reps. Chris Collins and Duncan Hunter before scolding him for tossing a “red herring” into the discussion, leading Kennedy to say he didn’t think that was the case.
“I have to say when you don’t have oversight over the president’s tweets, we all love the way you speak and the turns of phrase that you use but the White House says the president’s tweets are policy,” Berman concluded. “You do have oversight over presidential policy so in fact, you do have oversight over the president’s tweets if they are trying to affect policy. If they are trying to affect active investigations here. Full stop.”
Watch the clip above, via CNN.