CNN anchor John Berman repeatedly pressed Trump campaign director of communications Tim Murtaugh on Tuesday night over President Donald Trump’s conspiracy theory about a plane full of uniformed antifa “thugs” flying to Washington to “do big damage” at the Republican National Convention.
Finally tired of Murtaugh’s attempts to pivot and deflect, Berman told the Trump spokesman, “You’ve got no proof!”
During a Monday night Fox News interview, the president spun a fantastical tale about a flight that was full of armed leftist activists, claiming “it was almost completely loaded with thugs, wearing these dark uniforms, black uniforms, with gear and this and that.” Trump claimed the matter was currently “under investigation,” adding that the plane was headed to D.C. to take the black-clad anarchists to the RNC.
The president doubled down on the story Tuesday, telling reporters he would try to put them in touch with the “person” who was supposedly on board and witnessed “the entire plane filled up with the looters, the anarchists, rioters, people looking for trouble.” This time, though, Trump claimed the flight was “going from Washington to wherever.”
The president’s story is remarkably similar to a debunked viral Facebook post that alleged “at least a dozen males got off the plane in Boise from Seattle, dressed head to toe in black,” further claiming the “Antifa American” activists were going to attack “downtown and residential areas.” The months-old post was comprehensively disproven at the time.
Showing Murtaugh a clip from Trump’s Fox interview, Berman asked the Trump flack “what specifically is [Trump] talking about there,” prompting Murtaugh to say he doesn’t “have all the information that the president has access to.”
As Murtaugh began to talk about how “we know” people have traveled to “these violent protests,” the CNN host, trying to keep Murtaugh on topic, shot back that they were “talking about the plane trip.”
The spokesman once again said he didn’t “have access” to the president’s information before changing the subject, pointing to the protesters who confronted attendees of Trump’s RNC speech outside the White House.
“I’m sorry, you’re a spokesperson for the president,” Berman interjected. “I’m sorry to interrupt. I’m asking you a question about something the president said twice. The president essentially described an airborne assault or at least an air transport assault on a convention, and you, as a senior spokesperson for the campaign, say you have no information on it. How can it be that you have no information on it?!”
Rather than admit he couldn’t back up the president’s claim, Murtaugh said that “someone is organizing these trips” and “transporting these people from other states into these other cities.”
Berman, increasingly exasperated, kept pushing.
“The president of the United States twice has told a very specific story, albeit a contradictory story,” the anchor said after playing the two clips of Trump talking about the “plane.”
“I’ll state once again he’s the commander in chief,” he added. “He controls the military. When he says something about this, when he presents the idea of again this airborne assault, whether it be coming to Washington or leaving Washington, it’s important, and all I want to know if it’s in any way tethered to reality. Did it happen?”
Murtaugh argued that “it’s absolutely tethered to reality” before pointing out that a large number of protesters arrested in Kenosha were from other cities.
“But you have no proof!” Berman shouted back, eventually adding: “Did he invent the story?”
Berman ended the interview after Murtaugh brought up Sen. Rand Paul’s assertion that protesters who accosted him last week were flown in from out of town, again telling the Trump spokesman, “You’ve got no proof.”
“Call us when you have information about these flights that the president has mentioned twice because as of now, we’ve got nothing,” Berman concluded.