CNN anchor Jake Tapper’s Sunday interview with Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) quickly grew contentious and heated as the State of the Union host repeatedly confronted the conservative senator on his belief that President Donald Trump is actually concerned about corruption.
The Kentucky lawmaker, who is one of the president’s most vocal defenders in the Senate, told Tapper on Sunday morning that he’d already made up his mind to acquit Trump on impeachment despite the fact that the Senate trial hasn’t even begun yet, calling it a “partisan exercise.”
The CNN host, meanwhile, noted that it didn’t sound like the Senate impeachment oath that Paul will take “will mean very much” since the senator has already come to a conclusion. This prompted Paul to insist that this impeachment was only about a disagreement in foreign policy and that the president was seriously worried about corruption in Ukraine.
“So you’re saying that you think that President Trump was actually doing this because he was combating corruption?” Tapper wondered aloud, causing the GOP senator to bring up allegations about Ukrainian gas company Burisma and former Vice President Joe Biden’s son Hunter, who sat on the company’s board.
Tapper immediately pushed back, pointing out that a number of Trump’s associates have recently been convicted of federal crimes and Trump himself has had to settle multiple fraud lawsuits.
“You really think President Trump is concerned about rooting out corruption?” Tapper added.
“I think most of what you've listed and most of the people indicted or convicted were alleged to have been part of some sort of huge Russian conspiracy,” Paul countered. “But I think what we found out from the inspector general report is that it was all based on a false premise.”
The CNN host fired back that it was Trump’s own Justice Department who put all of these people in prison. After Paul brought up former Trump campaign aide Carter Page and the IG finding his FISA applications had serious errors, Tapper quickly responded: “That doesn’t absolve Paul Manafort of money laundering.”
The two would continue to go back and forth over Ukrainian military aid and Paul’s claim that Trump held it back due to legitimate concerns over corruption, finally resulting in Tapper taking the Kentucky senator to task over his grasp of the facts about Trump’s infamous July 25 call with the Ukrainian president.
“You guys are not being honest with the facts here,” Paul grumbled. “He does not call up and say ‘investigate my rival.’ He said investigate a person.”
“And Joe Biden is his rival,” Tapper retorted, adding: “He said investigate Joe Biden. The word ‘corruption’ does not appear in the transcript. He said investigate Joe and Hunter Biden.”