NBC News’ Meet The Press anchor Chuck Todd is under fire from Donald Trump and conservatives after the network admitted it had “inadvertently and inaccurately” presented a quote from Attorney General Bill Barr without its full context. The interview’s topic was the Justice Department’s inexcusable dropping of charges against former national security adviser Michael Flynn, which former president Barack Obama said puts the “rule of law at risk.”
In the clip, Barr responded to a question from Todd, who asked, “When history looks back on this decision, how do you think it will be written?”
In the shortened clip, Barr said, “Well, history is written by the winners. So, it largely depends on who’s writing the history.”
Todd then told commentator Peggy Noonan that he was “struck by the cynicism of the answer, adding, “It’s a correct answer. But he’s the attorney general. He didn’t make the case that he was upholding the rule of law. He was almost admitting that, yeah, this is a political job.”
In the full clip, Barr had added, “But I think a fair history would say that it was a good decision because it upheld the rule of law. It helped, it upheld the standards of the Department of Justice and it undid what was an injustice.”
NBC News said that it “inadvertently” cut the clip short.
Trump, of course, seized on the moment to fuel his argument that the “fake news” media is out to get him, and called for Todd’s firing.
Trump also spent the weekend firing off attacks on Obama, after the former president’s remarks about Flynn and Trump’s handling of the coronavirus crisis.
Said Obama: “The news over the last 24 hours I think has been somewhat downplayed — about the Justice Department dropping charges against Michael Flynn. And the fact that there is no precedent that anybody can find for someone who has been charged with perjury just getting off scot-free. That’s the kind of stuff where you begin to get worried that basic — not just institutional norms — but our basic understanding of rule of law is at risk. And when you start moving in those directions, it can accelerate pretty quickly as we’ve seen in other places.”
Meanwhile, Mary McCord, former acting assistant attorney general for national security, says Barr twisted her words to help the dismissed Flynn case: “The account of my interview in 2017 doesn’t help the department support this conclusion, and it is disingenuous for the department to twist my words to suggest that it does. What the account of my interview describes is a difference of opinion about what to do with the information that Mr. Flynn apparently had lied to the incoming vice president, Mr. Pence, and others in the incoming administration about whether he had discussed the Obama administration’s sanctions against Russia in his calls with Mr. Kislyak. Those apparent lies prompted Mr. Pence and others to convey inaccurate statements about the nature of the conversations in public news conferences and interviews.”