It’s all about diversion, all right.
When former Vice President Joe Biden took to “Good Morning America” on Tuesday, he had to at least suspect he was going to be asked about revelations that he was part of a meeting in the final days of the Obama administration that helped set up the “Russia collusion” probe that bedeviled the first years of the Trump presidency.
And the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee did his best to divert attention from the topic at hand — lamely trying to turn his response into an attack on President Donald Trump’s handling of the coronavirus crisis, then pretending he misunderstood the question in the first place.
The questioning by “GMA” host — and former Clinton White House staffer — George Stephanopoulos came about two minutes into the interview, when Stephanopoulos very clearly asked Biden what he knew about the investigation into former Gen. Michael Flynn, the Trump administration’s first national security advisor.
“I know nothing about those moves [by the FBI] to investigate Michael Flynn,” Joe Biden claimed.
Reminded he was in a January 5, 2017, Oval Office meeting with President Obama and the FBI Director about investigating Flynn, Biden admits “I was aware… but that’s all I know.” pic.twitter.com/SImLNoqhd7
— Trump War Room – Text TRUMP to 88022 & get the APP (@TrumpWarRoom) May 12, 2020
On Thursday, the Justice Department announced it was dropping a long-running criminal case against Flynn for lying to the FBI, saying the interview at issue was “conducted without any legitimate investigative basis.”
“I do want to ask you about Michael Flynn, the former national security advisor to President Trump and the move by the Justice Department last week to dismiss the case against him for lying to the FBI,” Stephanopoulos said Tuesday.
“The president said yesterday that that move was justified because President Obama targeted Flynn. He called it the, quote, ‘the biggest political crime in U.S. history.’ Your former Senate colleague, Charles Grassley, has added that Flynn was entrapped and asked on the Senate floor, ‘What did Obama and Biden know? When did they know it?’
“So,” Stephanopoulos asked, “what did you know about those moves to investigate Michael Flynn and was there anything improper done?”
Check out the full interview here (video will start with the Flynn questions):
“I know nothing about those moves to investigate Michael Flynn, No. 1,” Biden answered, before descending into a word salad of obfuscation, feigned outrage and, of course, diversion.
“No. 2, this is all about diversion. This is a game this guy plays all the time. The country is in crisis. We’re in an economic crisis, a health crisis…” and blah and blah and blah.
Almost a full minute of Biden’s blather, Stephanopoulos, to his credit, repeated the question, reminding Biden that he had been reported to be present at a pivotal Jan. 5, 2017, White House meeting where the investigation was discussed.
“I thought you asked me whether or not I had anything to do with him being prosecuted, I’m sorry,” Biden said.
“I was aware that they had asked for an investigation, but that’s all I know about it. And I don’t think anything else.”
Then it was more about how the Trump White House is “diverting attention” from the coronavirus crisis.
It’s almost a dead certainty that Biden’s advisers had told him going in, “If they ask about Flynn, just keep calling it a diversion, a diversion, a diversion.”
When Stephanopoulos asked if Attorney General William Barr’s Justice Department was correct to drop the charge against Flynn, Biden responded with fuzzy memories of a headline he appeared to have seen somewhere that said former Justice Department staffers were calling for Barr’s resignation.
“Well, based on a couple thousand, I guess I saw, a headline the other, yesterday I guess, a couple thousand, uh, um, former, uh, or was it a couple hundred, I’m not sure, a whole lot of former Justice Department people said the, uh, the attorney general should step down,” he finally managed to get out.
Marianne Williamson could have fielded the question better than that.
It was a joke of a performance by a man who wants to be president, and social media responses from Trump supporters were scathing:
Biden can’t form a coherent thought. Can’t speak. Doesn’t remember anything. Slaughter-meter is high. Can’t wait for the debates.
— McLovin (@McLuvln) May 12, 2020
Does anyone else think this is sad? Incoherent Joe should just go out to pasture! He obviously is struggling with any live interview (and most likely can’t recall any past conversations to be able to add anything of value)
— Monty Nimble (@mmkimble) May 12, 2020
Sad. Joe Biden was there. He read in Mainstream Media that former DOJ from previous corrupt Administration said it is so, must be. He uses mainstream media as a script but can’t seem to think for himself. President Trump thinks for himself.
— Kathryn Harding (@DKathrynA) May 12, 2020
How to tell When Biden is lying. He shoots to denial then back peddles. Also, every time his lips are moving.
— The Absolute Realist (@TheReal54392364) May 12, 2020
The problem is that Biden is trying to skate by an explosive question by turning it into an attack on his political opponent.
During his May 1 interview with MSNBC’s Mika Brzezinski about a sexual assault allegation against him by a former staffer, Biden showed he can’t even handle an interview with a sympathetic correspondent.
He proved it again with the Stephanopoulos questions on Tuesday.
This is the man Democrats want representing the United States in the real world, where there are really bad people — the hard cases in Tehran and Beijing, for example — waiting for a moment’s weakness to take advantage of the country.
Biden was asked whether he was involved in a transparently political operation by an outgoing president to use the machinery of the United States government to hinder his successor — an affront to the peaceful transition of power that has helped make the United States the greatest nation in history.
He tried to mask it with his “diversion” talk, as though it wasn’t important at all.
It’s wasn’t just a diversion. It was a disgrace.
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