Friday on CNN’s “New Day,” host Chris Cuomo and Rep. Sean Duffy (R-WI) went back and forth on whether or not there was the existence of evidence that President Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and Russia.
While Duffy maintained there was no evidence of collusion, Cuomo insisted Duffy offer proof there was no evidence of collusion.
Transcript as follows:
CUOMO: You make a lot of points that deserve consideration there, congressman. First of all, I would hope you have the same perspective on so many members of your party who say there’s no evidence of collusion. because we both know, as attorneys, it is naive at best to suggest we could know. We don’t know what the FBI has or what they don’t have now in the hands of Bob Mueller. And to suggest that this relatively early in an investigation for the FBI — they often look at things for years—that they should know or they should have told people what they have and the proof should be out there, that’s equally deceptive, don’t you think?
REP. SEAN DUFFY, (R) WISCONSIN: So again, I’m not buying into the fact there was any collusion between President Trump —
CUOMO: But you can’t know whether there was or not. That’s my point. How do you know there was none? How do you know there was? You can’t know. You don’t know the proof.
DUFFY: But Chris, I agree with you, but you don’t know that either. And you know, the cable news networks are aflame of running stories about collusion between Trump and Russia, and you don’t know, and I don’t know that.
CUOMO: But it’s equally wrong — if you don’t like that some media, and I know you’re not talking about us because you know I’d never front run it, but if you don’t like people are artificially saying there was collusion, to say artificially that there was no collusion is equally wrong, right? You’re not being better in that situation. You’re being a manifestation of the same problem.
DUFFY: What I think is happening is there is a conversation about collusion, and my point is there’s no evidence of collusion —
CUOMO: We don’t know what the evidence is. Why do you think you would know if there’s evidence of collusion? Why would you know?
DUFFY: Here’s why I think I would know — Washington is leaking like a sieve. There is no secrets — the president, President Trump can’t have a conversation with the president of Mexico without it being leaked. There can’t be a conversation with a foreign diplomat without that conversation being leaked. There are no secrets and whether it is the conversation that Flynn had — that conversation was unmasked and leaked. Leaks everywhere. If there was evidence, if there was information about Donald Trump colluding with the Russians, I have every confidence that would have been leaked to the press and you would have been able to run with that story because everything has been leaked.
There are no secrets. There are no secrets, there are no private conversations and that’s why I have some pause —
CUOMO: You can have pause. You can have pause. There’s every reason for pause because it’s an unknown. I’m just saying it’s such a gross assumption that you’re making. Because it didn’t leak, we should assume it’s not true. However, when information does leak, you question it because it was leaked.
I mean, don’t you see the politics at play in that?
DUFFY: No, I want to take a step back. You have no evidence of there was collusion or there wasn’t collusion. There’s no evidence to either of our sides.
CUOMO: No, no — that’s not accurate. We don’t know — what I’m saying is I don’t know what they have. You’re saying, yeah, but it would have leaked, and it hasn’t leaked, so there must be none.
That’s what you’re saying.
DUFFY: So there is no public information right now about collusion between Donald Trump and the Russians, right? We agree on that point?
CUOMO: I say that’s a fair statement. Some people argue otherwise, but I take your point.
DUFFY: What is the evidence? I haven’t seen any evidence to that fact between Trump and Russia.
CUOMO: You know the old notion from Barry Scheck when it came to DNA evidence. The absence of evidence is not the evidence of absence and we all tried to figure out what it all means. The point being, just because we don’t know doesn’t mean you should assume the negative. It must not exist because I don’t know about it yet. The investigation is ongoing. Isn’t respecting the process not speculating on what you know and what you don’t? You make that guys make that point all the time.
DUFFY: But Chris, if you’re a viewer or a consumer of news, I don’t think that point has been made and i think you’re making a reasonable point that I don’t know. But I think if I listen to different panels on different networks, I think the drumbeat is there must be something there. There’s got to be evidence. There is collusion. Why are people talking impeachment? I’ve heard the impeachment story for days, Chris. It’s because there would have been evidence of collusion between President Trump and the Russians. And you just pointed out and agree with me that we haven’t seen any evidence thus far publicly to that fact. So why is there a drumbeat of impeachment?
CUOMO: Politics. And what I’m saying is it’s equally egregious to assume — I’m saying it’s equally egregious.
CUOMO: You’re feeding the opposite narrative which I’m saying is symptomatic of the same problem. saying there should be impeachment when you don’t know the proof is the same as saying there’s never anything wrong because there isn’t proof.
DUFFY: I don’t want to go — I don’t want to ping-pong with you but I want to be very clear on one point.
DUFFY: If there’s evidence, I would love to come back and talk about that evidence. I think the news media and Democrats are jumping the gun and they’re talking about impeachment and they’re talking about collusion when we don’t have any evidence. It could be there, but no public evidence exists to that point right now and I think that point should readily be made not only by all politicians but all news outlets because it doesn’t exist. It could come, and I would love to have that conversation —
CUOMO: Don’t say it doesn’t exist, just say we don’t know.
DUFFY: Oh, no. Hold on, Chris.
CUOMO: And would also agree that calling it a witch hunt —
DUFFY: Chris, you’re splicing my words.
CUOMO: — and a hoax —
CUOMO: — at this point is also wrong?
DUFFY: But you’re splicing my words in that there’s no public evidence today. We don’t have any public evidence. There could be private evidence but there is no public evidence.
DUFFY: So you don’t have any and I don’t have any —
CUOMO: But it’s an ongoing investigation.
DUFFY: — and that’s the point that I’m making.
CUOMO: I’m just saying I’ve never heard you make that point about any other investigation. If an investigation’s ongoing you don’t question what you know or don’t know because it hasn’t concluded. It hasn’t been revealed. That’s the whole point of the investigation is to find out. Why would you jump the process for political advantage in either way?
DUFFY: Why would — why would — why would — why would you jump the conversation and —
CUOMO: But I’m not. You are, I’m not. That’s the difference.
DUFFY: No —
CUOMO: I’m saying we don’t know. You’re saying there’s no proof of collusion so there must be none.
DUFFY: No, but I —
CUOMO: Those are very different positions.
DUFFY: I’m not saying — so I’m not saying there’s no collusion. I’m saying I don’t think there’s any collusion based on what I’ve seen.
CUOMO: Well, it’s the same — what’s the difference? There’s no collusion, I don’t think there’s no collusion.
DUFFY: Chris, so —
CUOMO: Both one is based without any evidence.
DUFFY: I — we’ll move on from this point, I’m sure.
CUOMO: All right. Anyway —
DUFFY: Your network is running the stories nonstop and you and I agree —
CUOMO: We’re asking the questions.
DUFFY: — you don’t have any — you don’t have evidence and I don’t have any evidence at this point —
CUOMO: I’m just saying I don’t know what they have —
DUFFY: — and you’re running stories about it and that concerns me.
CUOMO: — and that’s why calling it a hoax and a witch hunt is equally egregious as saying it’s a home run for impeachment.
DUFFY: But — that is — you know, I — OK. I look at this point — well, we’ll agree to have semantic conversations here.
BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: Just give it up while you’re ahead.
CUOMO: No, I don’t think it’s semantic. And Congressman, look, I appreciate your perspective on this. You’re right that there are politics at play. I’m just saying you’ve got to call it on both sides. That’s all. I appreciate you making the case, as always.
DUFFY: Hey, thanks, Chris.
CUOMO: You’re always welcome here. You are a fair broker.
DUFFY: You make me sweat, man. We’ll talk — we’ll talk later.
CUOMO: I’m sweating too, but it’s very hot in the studio. It’s not you, Duffy. You didn’t get under my skin.
DUFFY: I appreciate that.
CUOMO: Have a great weekend.
DUFFY: You, too.
Follow Jeff Poor on Twitter @jeff_poor