How's this for chutzpah?
Less than three months before the election, Letitia James, the Democrat Attorney General of New York, who in 2018 called the NRA a "terrorist organization," brings a lawsuit seeking to "dissolve," i.e. destroy, the NRA. But she insisted on Morning Joe that "this lawsuit has nothing to do with politics."
James also claims that when it came to bringing her suit at this crucial point in the election season, she in no way considered the political calendar.
To their credit, Joe Scarborough and Willie Geist asked skeptical questions. Scarborough asked "Can you talk about the timing? Why August instead of, say, December?" Willie Geist added "What do you say to that [NRA] membership when you're not just trying to decapitate the organization, but to get rid of it altogether?
Then, "MSNBC Republican" Susan Del Percio, an ardent Never Trumper, flatly put it to James that she brought the suit with an eye on running for governor in 2022. James responded that "by no means am I looking at 2022."
What made Del Percio's suggestion that James brought the suit with an eye for running for governor in 2022 particularly interesting is that last year, we caught Del Percio suggesting that gun control advocates should play "dirty pool" with NRA board members. So you might think that Del Percio would welcome James' lawsuit.
Except that . . . "Republican" Del Percio's last political gig was serving as an adviser to Democrat NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who has indicated that he intends to see re-election in 2022 Was Del Percio looking to stick a fork in Andy's potential opponent?
There was one member of the Morning Joe panel who was apparently dozing during the segment. When Mike Barnicle was given a chance to pose a question at the end of the interview, he asked James whether the goal of the suit was just to remove CEO Wayne LaPierre and other senior NRA officials, or to "eliminate the NRA." If poor Mike had been awake, he would have heard the panel and James repeatedly mention her intent to dissolve the entire organization.
Letitia James' denial that there are any politics behind her attempt to destroy the NRA was sponsored by Liberty Mutual.
Here's the transcript.
8:27 am EDT
JOE SCARBOROUGH: One other criticism that Donald Trump, the Wall Street Journal opinion page, and others have had over the past day is the timing of this lawsuit. The question of whether you’re putting this out there to influence the election, to stop them from being able to support Donald Trump and Republican candidates. Can you talk about the timing? Why August instead of, say, December?
LETITIA JAMES: So it’s interesting that they would tie this to politics. And this lawsuit has nothing to do with politics . . . We don’t look at the political calendar to determine when we should or not file a lawsuit.
. . .
WILLIE GEIST: They [NRA members] may say to this, yeah, let’s get rid of Wayne LaPierre, let's get rid of our leadership that's blowing our money on yachts in Bahamas, but we have an organization that's here to protect our constitutionally-guaranteed right to keep and bear arms? So what do you say to that membership when you're not just trying to decapitate the organization, but to get rid of it altogether?
JAMES: The mission was violated. The reality is that it goes beyond just Wayne LaPierre . . . Again, the corruption is pervasive, it’s persistent. It's not limited to one person. It's throughout the entire corporation and that’s why we seek to dissolve the corporation in its entirety.
. . .
SUSAN DEL PERCIO: There is a political sense in all of this, and I wonder if maybe perhaps it’s because you’re looking towards 2022—for governor.
JAMES: I, no, by no means am I looking at 2022. You know, I am of the belief that elected officials don’t have to look at the next re-election cycle as long as they continue to do their work . . . Our investigation had nothing to do with politics.
. . .
GEIST: I want to give you a chance to respond to the NRA this morning. They have said of your suit that it is a transparent attempt to score political points. They say, basically, you've had it out for the NRA for a long time, in 2018 calling it a terrorist organization. How do you respond to the NRA?
JAMES: One has nothing to do with the other. My political beliefs have nothing to do with the fact that litigation and lawsuits that we filed are based on the facts. We follow the evidence. And we make conclusions of law.