Chris Cuomo on Tuesday morning grilled Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa over what the CNN anchor dubbed “selective outrage” regarding classified-information leaks, which became a focus of a House hearing the day before.
In an interview on CNN’s “New Day,” Cuomo asked whether Republicans’ condemnation of leakers was a “distraction” from the law-enforcement investigation into potential ties between President Donald Trump’s campaign staff and Russia before the 2016 election.
Cuomo said many Republicans touted leaks from the FBI’s investigation into 2016 Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server.
“Didn’t see this interest from you or the Republicans from the Clinton email investigation, about the Blumenthal emails, about speculation about indictments and things that turned out to be not true,” Cuomo said. “Where was your interest in leaks then?”
The Iowa senator acknowledged that some Republicans were displeased with FBI Director James Comey’s decision not to indict Clinton in July but were pleased with his decision in October to continue investigating the former secretary of state’s handling of classified information.
Grassley added that the election and the investigation into Clinton’s emails were “settled” and people should focus on the leaks of sensitive government information, as well as potential ties between the Trump campaign and the Russians.
“We didn’t like what he did in July, but in October, we did,” Grassley said. “Maybe that’s just a characteristic of what you consider to be the most political value. And I don’t know whether you ought to take into consideration what goes on in a campaign that seems to have equal consideration from the Republican and Democratic side and equate that with what we’re doing now.”
Cuomo continued to press the Iowa senator, saying Trump and congressional Republicans’ criticism of leakers “just seems to be a little bit selective outrage.”
“It may be selective outrage,” Grassley replied, but he added that it was precarious to equate recent information with leaks that emerged late in the presidential campaign.
The exchange came after daylong testimony from Comey and Adm. Mike Rogers, the National Security Agency director, in front of the House Intelligence Committee, where the two discussed investigations into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 campaign.
While many Democrats pressed the two to explicitly link Trump campaign officials to Russia, Republicans railed against embarrassing leaks about the ongoing investigation.