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Scarborough Rips Ex-Clinton Aide Mark Penn For Anti-Mueller Article, Demands to Know if He Works for Fox

Former Hillary Clinton campaign strategist Mark Penn is advancing from “mischief-maker” to virtual pariah in Democratic circles this week following his column for The Hill calling for an end to the Mueller probe. He’s faced wide criticism, and Morning Joe on Wednesday offered no exception.

Host Joe Scarborough lit Penn up over his column, questioning his motivations, calling him a creature of the swamp, and theorizing about who might be paying the bills for Penn’s apparent support for Trump’s point of view regarding the special counsel.

Scarborough first poses the question to guest Jim VandeHei of Axios about what exactly Penn is “selling”, along with a first round of insults.

[Trump] has admitted off-camera to reporters, that he does it in part to discredit the press. So when they write negative stories about him, Donald Trump, that they don’t believe that. And I understand Donald Trump doing that. He’s fighting for his life. It’s wrong and I think it’s extraordinarily terrible for a president to do. I am shocked that people on the hill are doing it. But they are. Let me ask you, though, and let’s be blunt about it. What exactly is Mark Penn selling? Here’s a guy who lost Hillary Clinton’s campaign by telling her she didn’t have to plan 2008 for any contests after Super Tuesday. He left that campaign, responsible for her loss to Barack Obama. What is Mark Penn selling coming to the defense of Donald Trump?

So he’s calling him a loser, both generally and specifically, and asks what he’s selling. In other words, says that he’s for sale but in the form of a question. VandeHei offers an answer, and Joe jumps in for round two.

VANDEHEI: I think he’s selling his argument, which he would argue is the same he had for Clinton in the ’90s, that the whole idea of special counsels is crazy, they have a wide license to investigate whatever they want to investigate. But clearly, he was not well liked by Democrats, if you look at Twitter, he’s getting trashed by Democrats now obviously for coming to the defense of trump. But to your point —

SCARBOROUGH: Does he have a Fox, does he have a Fox News contract? Is he writing for conservative websites? I want to know as you know in Washington, D.C., often when people do strange things like this, creatures of the swamp, they’re doing it for a reason. Is he, has he got a Fox News contract?

Ouch. Loser is one thing. But a Fox News contract? That’s getting real.

Earlier in the segment, VandeHei argued that Trump’s strategy is to undermine and cast as much doubt as possible, as widely as possible, so the casual observer will consider the Mueller probe to be political game-playing rather than a serious investigation. The lead story at Axios this morning is on this topic.

VandeHei says that gestures by Republicans in Congress – for example, not attending Devin Nunes‘s meeting on Thursday – are not effective at sending a message. “I think what sells is Mark Penn’s columns or the tweets that come from the President of the United States,” he argues.

He closes on that point as well.

If they’re watching, they’re like wait this person used to work with Clinton and they’re with trump, maybe trump is right. We all think it’s madness with trump. There’s a method. Don’t be, don’t fool yourself. There’s a method.

If you missed Penn’s column, this is pretty good excerpt for getting the gist.

At this point, there is little doubt that the highest echelons of the FBI and the Justice Department broke their own rules to end the Hillary Clinton “matter,” but we can expect the inspector general to document what was done or, more pointedly, not done. It is hard to see how a yearlong investigation of this won’t come down hard on former FBI Director James Comey and perhaps even former Attorney General Loretta Lynch, who definitely wasn’t playing mahjong in a secret “no aides allowed” meeting with former President Clinton on a Phoenix airport tarmac.

You can read the rest here. Or just wait for the Fox News “swamp” contract, if Joe is onto something.

[image via screengrab]

Follow Caleb Howe (@CalebHowe) on Twitter

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