Morning Joe grew contentious on Wednesday as Joe Scarborough took offense at David Axelrod‘s “misstating” his previous remarks during a discussion about the Justice Department seizing Associated Press phone records. Calling out Axelrod for a “bogus argument,” Scarborough chided the former Obama adviser for bringing him into the discussion.
As Scarborough spoke of efforts to intimidate sources and scare whistleblowers, Axelrod recalled a discussion they had last summer. “I appeared with you, and you challenged me with the same tone, actually, on these leaks and said, ‘When is the president going to send a strong signal to people that leaking classified information won’t be tolerated?'” he related. “‘When is is he going to make people accountable for these leaks?’ … They’ve apparently interviewed 550 people and went to court and got a subpoena to do what they did. In order to do what you and others said should be done.”
Scarborough — who’s called the DOJ’s actions toward the AP “sinister” — did not take this well, immediately growing defensive:
“I’ve heard the president’s defenders try to say this, and I congratulate you guys for going off into a room and calling each other and coming up with this bogus argument — but never did I suggest that 100 AP reporters have all of their phone records seized, their private cell phone records seized, their home phone numbers seized. So please save that for somebody else that’s going to buy into that. Don’t shift this to me! Answer my question: Will sources, confidential sources inside the federal government be intimidated because of what this administration, according to The New York Times, has been doing from the very beginning?”
Axelrod added a disclaimer that he wasn’t intending to accusatory and did answer the question, arguing that it will affect whistleblowers. But he pressed on with this original point, remarking that an investigation was initiated “because many people, you included, said there shouldn’t be these leaks” — and once that ball gets rolling, it’s difficult to stop.
There has to be a middle ground, Scarborough countered — as Axelrod, citing concerns about press freedom, added, “The fact is, that everyone in the summer was clambering for an investigation to do exactly what you now say you’re concerned about, which is chilling people who would leak.”
Scarborough rejected Axelrod’s “all-or-nothing proposition,” and further defended, “David, again, you are misstating what I said in the summer.”
Watch below, via MSNBC:
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