CBS News chief political analyst and longtime liberal journalist John Dickerson surfaced on Friday’s CBS Mornings to opine on the second Trump indictment and, interestingly, it sounded like what he said after the first indictment as it consisted of a pious lecture trashing Republicans for denouncing the charges before documents are unsealed and preferring Trump (if he were to become the GOP’s 2024 presidential nominee) over President Biden.
Dickerson also reveled in how Trump was “being charged with something that...Hillary Clinton, was — was accused of doing” and led to his 2016 victory. Co-host Tony Dokoupil also went aboard the wayback machine, reading an 2016 quote of Trump ironically promising to “enforce all laws concerning the protection of classified information” and “[n]o one will be above the law.”
Dickerson then huffed the GOP “is largely rallying behind him” even though “we don’t know the facts of the case yet” and thus not only are speaking too soon, but not being proper “stewards of our system” of government.
“[W]e all have to be careful because we don’t know what the facts are. And yet, a lot of people including the House speaker are rushing in and saying this is a politicalization, that it’s a weaponization. Ron DeSantis, the Florida governor, said that. We don’t know,” he added.
After discussing with the CBS Mornings co-hosts what this means for both the GOP primary and general election, co-host and Democratic donor Gayle King lamented “[i]t’s interesting how some people say he should not be President again, but when pushed would you support him if he’s a nominee, in some cases they said yes, I would still support him” (instead of, as would be implied, Biden).
She added such a belief is “confusing...for voters.”
Dickerson went right along: “It’s confusing. It’s also a little tricky because the rules of the Republican debate are that you have to say you’re going to support the nominee, so there might be cutesiness that they’re — that those other Republican candidates are playing, but it is one of the intent — internal tensions here”.
To see the relevant transcript from June 9, click “expand.”
June 9, 2023
8:04 a.m. Eastern
[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Breaking Overnight; Trump Indicted in Classified Docs Case]
JOHN DICKERSON: But also this is a President who’s being charged with something that his former opponent in 2016, Hillary Clinton, was — was accused of doing, and he beat her because of it.
TONY DOKOUPIL: Yes.
DICKERSON: I mean, when you think of the historical parallels, that’s also something that adds to the complexity and richness of this moment.
DOKOUPIL: There’s a Donald Trump quote for every occasion, of course. And since you mentioned 2016, back then the tune that he was singing is “I’m going to enforce all laws concerning the protection of classified information. No one will be above the law.” We’re in a different place now.
DICKERSON: We are in a different place. His party is — is largely rallying around him. And — and we don’t know the facts of the case yet. This is another one of those instances where we are all stewards of our system, and we all have to be careful because we don’t know what the facts are. And yet, a lot of people including the House speaker are rushing in and saying this is a politicalization, that it’s a weaponization. Ron DeSantis, the Florida governor, said that. We don’t know. And you know, it’s not only the retention of records and the possible dissemination of information that’s the most highly sensitive, but it’s also obstruction of justice. When you receive a subpoena, you can’t lie about whether you’ve answered the subpoena. You’re not supposed to — in — in the system, and one of the bedrock principles is that everybody is treated the same. So, the lieutenant colonel who’s gone to jail for three years because of records he kept is — kept — is — is treated the same way as a former president in the American system. That’s one of the things at issue here.
VLADIMIR DUTHIERS: So John, you mentioned some of the Republican candidates for the presidency who are all talking about the weaponization of the Department of Justice. But there are two, Chris Christie, Asa Hutchinson, who have called this for what many believe it to be. Chris Christie says no one is above the law. Will that work with primary voters, with independent voters who are maybe — you said something interesting, the fact that every time President Trump faces a situation like this he says it’s a hoax? It loses all meaning.
GAYLE KING: Witch hunt.
DUTHIERS: Witch hunt. Are independent voters tired of that and are maybe looking for something different?
DICKERSON: We don’t know yet. One of the things that was interesting about the Hillary Clinton case in 2016 is when issues were raised about her e-mails, one of the things that analysts said is, you know, it reminded voters that — that if Hillary Clinton gets elected there will just be a lot of mishegas of her presidency. You could easily see that being the case with Donald Trump and Ron DeSantis and others who have essentially raised that point. Basically we don’t want a lot of drama, so that could be something that’s a part of this. What’s interesting is the continuum of candidates. So, as you mentioned, Asa Hutchinson said this is proof that Donald Trump should not run. Mike Pence said this is divisive, but before this information came out, he said Donald Trump shouldn’t be President again because of what he did on January 6th.
DICKERSON: This information comes out in a different context. You have a bunch of people in the Republican Party whoa re saying he should not be president again, and this trial will go on well into the primary, well, maybe into the general election. And so it will be a constant source of conversation as people discuss issues like character, what does it mean to, you know, obey the law and — and that changes this from the previous trouble that Donald Trump has been in.
KING: It’s interesting how some people say he should not be President again, but when pushed would you support him if he’s a nominee, in some cases they said yes, I would still support him. That’s confusing, I think, for voters.
DICKERSON: It’s confusing. It’s also a little tricky because the rules of the Republican debate are that you have to say you’re going to support the nominee, so there might be cutesiness that they’re —
DICKERSON: — that those other Republican candidates are playing, but it is one of the intent — internal tensions here —
DICKERSON: — is that on the one hand these other candidates are trying to court Donald Trump’s voters by saying they support him, but they’re doing so in order, hopefully, to beat him.
KING: Alright, John Dickerson.