Anderson Cooper went after Donald Trump’s press secretary, Kayleigh McEnany, on Wednesday for being the “president’s chief apologist and lie teller” after she defended his decision to tweet a baseless conspiracy theory smearing a protester injured by police in Buffalo, New York.
During Wednesday’s White House press briefing, McEnany claimed Trump was simply “raising questions about a report that he saw” when he tweeted a day earlier suggesting protester Martin Gugino “could be an ANTIFA provocateur” involved in “a set up” ― parroting a report aired on right-wing network OANN, which is known to indulge conspiracy theories. Gugino, 75, remained hospitalized Wednesday with a serious head injury after falling and cracking his skull on concrete when he was shoved by Buffalo police last Thursday. Video of the incident has drawn worldwide outcry, and the two officers involved were suspended without pay and charged with second-degree assault.
McEnany insisted Trump’s tweet “is not a baseless conspiracy theory,” despite a reporter pointing out he had no facts to support his claims.
“Actually, it is,” Cooper said, providing the definition of a conspiracy theory. He added: “The president said Mr. Gugino was a member of the group of antifa, which the president has, without evidence, portrayed as the driving force behind the protests, but it’s not. He said he was a provocateur, and there was no evidence he was. ”
McEnany also claimed Trump is just “standing back and saying, ‘We need to ask questions before we destroy lives and convict people in the court of public opinion.’”
“That is such doublespeak. It’s Orwellian,” Cooper said. ”‘He was just asking questions.’”
“He sent out a tweet defaming this man, convicting him in the court of public opinion to 81 million of his followers. This is a 75-year-old guy who’s been protesting for a lot of his life.”
If Trump was “just asking questions,” Cooper said, there were questions he’d like answered himself.
“What kind of person is so impulse-driven, so lacking in empathy that he attacks an elderly man in a hospital bed who is simply protesting peacefully?” he asked.
“Here’s another one. What kind of person is too vain and cowardly to ever admit a mistake? Just asking.”
He then took aim at McEnany for her first-day pledge as press secretary and her much-less-positive past comments about Trump’s rhetoric:
“What kind of person hires someone who promises never to lie to us, as Kayleigh McEnany did on her first day on the job, and then breaks that promise repeatedly? Just asking. And what kind of person is so in need of making a name for themselves in the public arena that they betray the convictions they once expressed openly on television when they called Donald Trump’s statement on Mexican immigrants ‘racist’ but now lie about why they said that in order to keep their job as the president’s chief apologist and lie teller? Just asking.”
Watch the segment on “Anderson Cooper 360” below.