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Anderson Cooper Battles WH Spox on Mueller Report: ‘Did the President Lie?!’

CNN’s Anderson Cooper tonight clashed with White House principal deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley over the findings in the Mueller report and President Donald Trump‘s claim he was exonerated.

Cooper started by saying it’s clearly a good thing the president was not in a criminal conspiracy with Russia, but then asked, “Why is the president and his allies saying he was exonerated of obstruction which is literally the opposite of what Robert Mueller decided?”

Gidley thanked him for that first point and remarked that it s “it’s pretty obvious that so many in the media, so many on the left were actually upset at the fact that a man they had accused of treason for the better part of two years was innocent of that charge.”

Cooper shot back, “No reporter at CNN ever accused the president of treason. There might have been pundits and analysts.”

Gidley said the big picture shows “complete and total exoneration.”

“That’s not true,” Cooper said. “Saying that is not what Robert Mueller said. He said I can’t exonerate the president on this, and he pointed out some very detailed examples.”

They went back and forth over whether Trump was exonerated and the issue of whether POTUS would have been indicted if he wasn’t the president. Cooper repeatedly told Gidley what he’s saying was just “not true.”

At one point Gidley said, “It’s interesting we’re talking about what’s unfair to the president after being accused of treason for two years.”

“Well, you can ignore what I just said,” Cooper amusedly responded.

Gidley brought up the impeachment talk from some Democrats––making a point of saying Adam Schiff has been on CNN a lot––before claiming again Trump is “clean” and “exonerated.”

Cooper moved onto Sarah Sanders admitting to the special counsel she basically made up her infamous claim that people in the FBI were glad James Comey got fired, as well as how people in the White House “tried to get Rod Rosenstein to say something that wasn’t true” about Comey.

Gidley said he wouldn’t speak on behalf of Sanders and said she will defend herself, before adding, “The fact is what she was talking about being upset about is the phrase she used, ‘countless.’ She has been clearly contacted by FBI agents. I’ve seen the texts…”

“Really?” Cooper asked.

“Absolutely,” Gidley responded.

“That’s not what she said under oath,” Cooper responded. “She said it wasn’t based on anything. There was no basis for what she said.”

“That was what the conclusion was from the report, not what she said,’ Gidley said. What she was talking about that were in quotes was the word ‘countless’ and the slip of the tongue was to use the phrase ‘countless.’ She will exonerate herself later.”

Cooper went back to Rosenstein and asked, “Your office, according to Robert Mueller in sworn testimony, tried to get Rod Rosenstein to lie. What’s up with that?”

“Again,” Gidley said, “this is so great that we’re going to parse every word of this for the next few months on end.”

“I’m not parsing words!” Cooper said. “It’s a pretty bald-faced lie!”

“If the president had done something wrong, he would be indicted right now,” Gidley responded.

Cooper kept pressing on the Rosenstein question, telling him, “You won’t acknowledge the president lied about this… I get it. I appreciate you coming on. You’re in a difficult spot.”

He directly asked, “Did the president lie?”

“No, I’m not aware of him lying,” Gidley responded. “He hasn’t lied to me.”

As they kept going back and forth, Cooper added, “I feel bad that you’re scared to say that your boss lied.”

You can watch above, via CNN.

[image via screengrab]

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Josh Feldman is a Senior Editor at Mediaite. Email him here: josh@mediaite.com Follow him on Twitter: @feldmaniac