CNN took a break from its constant calling for Trump to concede to election to wildly speculate about Trump consolidating power in the Department of Defense. On Wednesday morning’s New Day, the leftist-aligned network seemed determine to promote the idea that Trump is up to something nefarious, but could offer no evidence to back up its claims.
Instead, hosts John Berman and Alisyn Camerota hyped a clip of former Clinton Defense Secretary William Cohen wailing: “So the way in which they're conducting themselves is more akin to a dictatorship than a democracy.”
Camerota opined: “There's also growing concern at the Pentagon after the Trump administration pushed out these former senior defense officials and replaced them with Trump loyalists.” The network could not even back up its own speculation proving the new officials were Trump loyalists or why the previous officials were pushed out.
Nonetheless, the idea was picked up by CNN Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr, who remarked: “…one official who may well be the next to go said to me yesterday, for now, it appears the public beheadings are over.” None of the officials quoted in this story were named by the network.
Camerota went so far as rebuking one of her guests about the potential dangers:
… the plotting school of thought, which is, what's he doing behind the scenes? Why is he installing loyalists into positions of power? Why are the Senate Majority Leader and the Secretary of State not acknowledging the win? Why is he getting rid of the Defense Secretary and putting in his own person? Something's going -- he's consolidating power. Something's going on in these final 70 days.
The idea that the President has a right to “request recounts and pursue legal challenges” was completely ignored by the hack journalists. Instead, they continued the narrative of dismissing any of the President’s claims.
Appearing on the program, The Grio’s Natasha Alford likened the GOP’s efforts to “verbal gymnastics” to avoid upsetting Trump, and ranted: “Donald Trump, America does not like sore losers. You need to get over it and move on.”
Rather than report on the facts, and accepting the process, CNN once again promotes the DNC narrative and props up their own candidates.
A transcript of the November 11th Coverage is included below. Click "expand" to read more.
6:17 AM ET
WILLIAM COHEN [Former Defense Secretary]: So the way in which they're conducting themselves is more akin a dictatorship than a democracy.
ALISYN CAMEROTA: That's former defense secretary, William Cohen, sounding the alarm after the secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, refused to acknowledge President-Elect Biden's victory. There's also growing concern at the Pentagon after the Trump administration pushed out these former senior defense officials and replaced them with Trump loyalists. Joining us now, CNN Pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr and CNN national security analyst, Samantha Vinograd. She was a National Security Adviser under President Obama. It's great to have both of you and all of the reporting that you're going to share with us. Barbara, what's the thinking at the Pentagon of why President Trump is doing this?
BARBARA STARR [CNN Pentagon Correspondent]: Well, I think that's the big question, because right now, there has been no public reason for -- given for the President to replace any of these individuals. It's well known, they're all Trump loyalists. One of them worked with Michael Flynn in the White House at the early days of the national security council. Another one has promoted conspiracy theories and antiislamic statements. And the new acting secretary of defense, Chris Miller, may be a very fine person, but until just a few months ago, he held a relatively junior position as deputy assistant secretary here at the Pentagon. His career specialty has been special operations being secretary of defense. Much wider portfolio than that encompasses a lot more complex issues. Basically, the person in turning in decades of experience here at the Pentagon in the middle of a pandemic, in the middle of a transition, and there is just a lot of concern about what the President is doing, why he's doing it, and what may come next.
JOHN BERMAN: Barbara, I'm going to stick with you. No one is better sourced at the Pentagon than you are. And I'm talking about not just now, but for decades at this point. What's the vibe inside the walls this morning? And how much could this cadre of loyalists do in the next 70 days?
STARR: Well, let's take the second one first. How to say this correctly. I mean, the U.S. Military and civilian officials follow legal orders of any President of the United States. There is civilian control of the military in this country. The President of the United States, if he issues a legal order, it will be followed. So take that where you will. What is the mood? You know, I think it's important to say, the people who work in the Pentagon, of course, don't represent the entire U.S. Military. Hard to say what troops overseas are thinking. They're very involved in what they're doing around the world, but here at the Pentagon, where there's a lot of visibility into the political side of Washington, look, I mean, one official who may well be the next to go said to me yesterday, for now, it appears the public beheadings are over. Beheadings, you don't, you know, usually hear those kinds of words. Another official said, it's scary, it's unsettling, and it feels like these are dictator moves. We've heard that before now from former secretary William Cohen. Not words you hear describing the mood at the Pentagon.
CAMEROTA: So, Sam, publicly, President-Elect Biden is projecting calm. He is saying to the American people, we'll get past all of this obstruction, don't worry. Behind the scenes, what are they saying?
SAMANTHA VINOGRAD [CNN National Security Analyst]: Well, Alisyn, it is worth noting, I think the public should be reassured by President-Elect's comments. He's done this before, surrounded himself with people with deep government experience and they've hit the ground running. But that said, based on my conversations with members of his team, the team is firmly focused on the work at hand, public policy agendas, getting personnel lists together and that sort of thing, but there's certainly a recognition, if not a concern that the continued delay in the transition process could harm the incoming administration's ability to govern from a fully informed and fully staffed position on day one. The longer this drags on, the more harm that could be done to our national security going forward. And frankly, any American with any ounce of patriotism should be concerned about this delay in the transition process.
BERMAN: You know who else is concerned about that? People who have been there before in just this circumstance. Andy Karr who was George W. Bush’s Chief of Staff, John Podesta, Chief of Staff to Bill Clinton, they wrote a joint op-ed, a Republican and a Democrat overnight in "The Washington Post," and I want to read you part of what they said. With the COVID-19 pandemic continue to wreak havoc, the costs of it are clearly much higher today than any other time in history. A delay in the transition of power between the outgoing and incoming administrations could hinder economic recovery, slow the distribution of a vaccine, and god forbid, put American lives at risk. It goes on there, Sam. To Alisyn's question, you know, the President-Elect is portraying confidence. And I actually don't question that he has confidence that it will all work out in the end. But what's the level of anxiety behind the scenes, not just about whether or not this will hinder the transition and the ability to do the job, but the overall political atmosphere in the country in Biden world. You're well sourced in this world. What are they saying in Wilmington?
VINOGRAD: Well, the specific focus right now, again, is trying to get the work at hand done. But there is certainly a view that the longer that this drags on, this becomes a partisan issue. And this pits members of the Republican Party against the administration-elect. This should not be a bipartisan sticking point, John. Remember, the Presidential transition act of 1963 and subsequent legislation was passed because there was a bipartisan consensus that there needed to be an orderly transfer of power. And many of the officials in the federal government that should be working with the incoming administration are career officials. They're not only political appointees. So there is a concern that this could turn into a political football, when it should be an area of agreement between Republicans and Democrats.
BERMAN: Samantha Vinograd, Barbara Starr, thank you both so much for your insight and your reporting. Really appreciate it.
6:28 AM ET
JOE BIDEN: We are already beginning the transition. We're well underway. And the ability for the administration in any way by failure to recognize our win does not change the dynamic at all, and what we're able to do.
JOHN BERMAN: How do you like that not-so-subtle message from the President-Elect. He's saying that foreign leaders have called him, but members of the U.S. Senate haven't. … Anna, I want to start with you, because I love it when you send the playbook out two seconds before you come on our air. Your reporting this morning is that most Republicans on the hill and around the country, they're engaging in what you call performance art. That there really aren't many people who believe that there's any chance of delaying or changing the outcome of the election, but they're playing along to let the President tire himself out, as performance art, you call it. So how long will this performance go on? And what sign or what moment will they stand up and say, okay, the performance is over?
ANA PALMER [Senior Washington Correspondent, Politico]: Republicans on the hill have really had a hard time standing up to this President for the past four years. I think they're going to let this play out for as long as they necessarily need to. The date that we hear is certainly the certification of a lot of the ballots in the state. That happens mostly, state by state, but a lot of them will happen at the end of this month or early into December. I also think you have to really look at a political play here with the Senate Republicans looking at those two races in Georgia. They do not want to piss off Trump supporters and potentially make it so that they don't turn out, because that is going to be their only lever of power in a Biden administration, to actually keep control of the Senate.
ALISYN CAMEROTA: Natasha, meanwhile, listening to Republicans try to do the verbal gymnastics of what's happening here is painful. Here is Rick Scott of Florida, trying to explain why we're in limbo.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Senator, have you congratulated President-Elect Biden yet?
RICK SCOTT [R-FL]: Well, first off, we need to finish all the votes. All the votes need to be counted. I mean, we need to have all the votes counted. So I look forward to that being finished.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: But the race was closer in 2016 and Republicans congratulated President Trump then.
SCOTT: Well, I can tell you then that we still -- there's still a lot of challenges out there, still. So I think we need to get all the votes.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: And is there any instances of fraud that you've seen?
CAMEROTA: Is there any evidence of fraud, Senator? He walks away, Natasha.
NATASHA ALFORD [VP, Digital Content and Senior Correspondent, the Grio]: Verbal gymnastics is the perfect phrase to describe what we're seeing. And, you know, what we're seeing is what enablers do, right? Whether we're talking about addiction or politics, they sit by and do nothing and say nothing. And in this case, I think a lot of members of the GOP are afraid to have a backbone, to take a stand. And what's different from what we've seen over the past four years? And, you know, so I think what's concerning is that we're seeing the repetition of phrases like legal votes and illegal votes, which mean nothing, but similar to fake news, if you say it again and again, it starts to seep into the American consciousness and erode people's faith in the process. And so, you know, this is bigger than President-Elect Biden or Donald Trump, this is about American democracy, and it's truly a shame that members of the GOP, who have actually worked with President-Elect Biden for years are disrespecting him in this way. And are not putting the American people first and protecting democracy.
BERMAN: I have to say, to continue the verbal gymnastics metaphor here, Rick Scott didn't stick the landing there. He didn't stick the landing. He fell off the beam, the pommel horse hit him right in the crotch. The only judge that would give him a passing score is the Russian judge in this case. Rick Scott sued to stop the counting in 2018 in Florida! It's like he's saying the polar opposite of what he said in his own senate race just two years ago. So that is quite some performance. If you look up in the dictionary "Squirm," it has a picture of Rick Scott right there. Ana Palmer, the President-Elect. His decision to address this as really just not of major concern right now, that this is something that's going on in the sidelines, I'm going to plow forward. How do you think that will land with the American people? How long can the President-Elect keep that up?
PALMER: This has been his strategy for the last several months. He's tried to present himself as the actual Presidential alternative to Donald Trump. Whether it comes to coronavirus, whether it comes to our national security. I do think that this scenario is something that behind the scenes, Biden aides and allies have contemplated, though I don't think that they are necessarily surprised that this is happening. And there's clearly a strategy to say, hey, I'm the serious guy in the room. The transition is continuing. We're not going to be distracted by this side show. The question is how long that can actually last. And at some point, is there going to have to be some kind of, you know, resolution, if Trump does not actually stand down, does not concede, and there is a real transition of power issue.
CAMEROTA: See, Natasha, there's two different schools of thought. One is the petulance school. Which is, everyone's sort of mollifying the President, he's going through the five stages of grief, he'll work his way around to it at some point and everything will be good. The other is the plotting school of thought, which is, what's he doing behind the scenes? Why is he installing loyalists into positions of power? Why are the Senate Majority Leader and the Secretary of State not acknowledging the win? Why is he getting rid of the Defense Secretary and putting in his own person? Something's going -- he's consolidating power. Something's going on in these final 70 days. So, which one is it?
ALFORD: I think that as Ana stated, this is more about performance, right? Donald Trump is a showman. He's told frankly, and from the beginning, that he has a hard time losing. And frankly, he needs to take that up with his spiritual advisers. Right? I think that President-Elect Joe Biden is right to have the calm, cool, collected demeanor that he has. The stakes are too high for him to play into this drama. Covid-19 is raging. We're thinking about the fact that this was a very close election with razor-thin margins. And I'm thinking about black voters. The fact that it was black voters in the South Carolina primary who really reinvigorated the Biden campaign and gave him at shot at this presidency. So there are a lot of people who he owes, right? Who he has something to prove. And so I think that's why he has no time to waste and has to begin this transition. And the consequences of this delay are very real. President Obama wrote an op-ed about this, and we saw, just the grace. Think about four years ago, the grace that President Obama showed to President Donald Trump, and he's told him, my number one priority is making sure that you have a successful transition and think about the contrast right now. So President Obama didn't just do that because of the -- out of the kindness of his heart. It's about America and what happens when foreign adversaries look at this and they see the instability and they take advantage and they exploit that chaos. Donald Trump, America does not like sore losers. You need to get over it and move on.
BERMAN: Maybe why he's been in hiding since Thursday. We haven't seen him since Thursday. Maybe he did not want to portray himself as the loser. Maybe he was embarrassed to come forward. We will find out much more today when we think he makes his first public appearance. Natasha Alford, great to have you on the show and Ana Palmer, great to see you, as well.