Tucker Gets Heated with Democrat Sen. Candidate over 'Spygate': 'That's Really Your Explanation?'


Fox News host Tucker Carlson is not one to mince words, and when he had a Democrat Senate candidate on his show this week to talk about “spygate” — reports that the FBI used assets to gather information within the Trump campaign — the candidate definitely got the Tucker treatment.

According to Independent Journal Review, Richard Painter is running for Senate in the state of Minnesota. He’s mounting a primary challenge against Tina Smith, the Democrat senator appointed after Al Franken resigned over, um, certain issues.

If his Thursday appearance on Fox News was any indication, Painter’s messaging is going to be a bit difficult, if only because I don’t really think anyone can understand what he’s actually saying.

Carlson began his show by noting what is pretty much settled knowledge now: The government had an informant on their payroll who approached members of the Trump campaign and gathered information from them. This, he noted, may or may not have been justified, but there was little doubt what it was — spying.

Surely, then, Carlson and Painter could have a civilized, thoughtful discussion about this, as Carlson can sometimes have with Democrats.

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It’s pretty much a settled topic, right? Why would anybody say that it’s not spying at this juncture?

Well, because Richard Painter is a very difficult man:

Painter, who was the chief ethics lawyer for George W. Bush before turning Democrat, insisted that there was no evidence tying the FBI to spying.

Do you agree with Painter's explanation?

His reason? Top Republicans had reviewed the information — Reps. Paul Ryan and Trey Gowdy were name-checked, among others — and had seen the evidence and not called it spying.

“I’m asking you,” Carlson said. “Why is that not spying?”

“Because they have seen the relevant information, including a lot of them have seen the classified information,” Painter continued. “Which I have not seen, and neither has Fox News seen the classified information. I don’t know if this is the news channel or the fiction channel.”

Oh burn. No liberal has used that one before. Absolutely not a single one.

“Settle down, Rich,” Carlson said. “If you would, please, stop with the invective and explain to me again slowly, given the fact set that I just presented to you — and I think we can agree that that’s true — that that’s not spying. Under what circumstances would that not be spying?”

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“Well, the speaker of the United States House has looked at the facts, and Richard Burr over in the Senate, and the intelligence committee has looked at the facts including the classified information, which I have not seen and Fox News has not seen.”

Later in the conversation, Painter said that “any Republican who saw a shred of evidence that the Obama administration was spying on the Trump campaign would clearly have said it was spying.”

“That’s really your explanation?” Carlson responded.

You can watch the entire thing, in which Painter’s attempted elucidations are so convoluted and borderline inchoate they practically made my head hurt. The best barb was saved for the end, however, when Carlson told Painter that “I haven’t understood a single exchange in this entire conversation.”

“Good luck with your Senate race. I hope voters can understand what you’re saying because I can’t,” Tucker concluded.

Yet, Painter believed he’d won this round. Take a look at his Twitter.

Just remember Minnesotans, this guy not only thinks he won this exchange and that it reflected well upon him — and badly upon Fox News — but he’s also a law professor and a former White House ethics lawyer. I sure hope he practices law better than he demonstrated here, although I would sincerely doubt it, what with the fact that this is how he responded to questioning. He also can’t come up with a reason why this wasn’t spying aside from the fact that Republicans weren’t willing to publicly say it was. Oh, and there’s some Kellyanne Conway microwave oven joke.

I beseech you, fair people of Minnesota — and any Democrat-Farmer-Labor voters who might be reading this — please let’s make sure this guy doesn’t win the primary. If the fact that this incoherent addlepate got a job as the chief White House ethics lawyer can’t convince you that the swamp exists, I don’t know if anything can, really.

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C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014.
C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014. Aside from politics, he enjoys spending time with his wife, literature (especially British comic novels and modern Japanese lit), indie rock, coffee, Formula One and football (of both American and world varieties).
Morristown, New Jersey
Catholic University of America
Languages Spoken
English, Spanish
Topics of Expertise
American Politics, World Politics, Culture