CNN contributor Van Jones says he was taken out of context in conservative provocateur James O’Keefe’s second of two videos out this week attacking the cable news network. In the video, Jones is heard saying, “The whole Russia Thing is a big nothing burger. There is nothing you can do –,” before being cut off by the arrival of a CNN colleague.
Jones had made the remark after being asked, on the street outside CNN’s Los Angeles offices, “What do you think is going to happen this week with the whole Russian thing?”
“Did I mean that there is ‘nothing’ to the allegations that members of team Trump colluded with the Russians and then tried to cover it up by firing FBI Director James Comey? No — and far from it,” the former green jobs adviser to President Barack Obama wrote in an op-ed piece for CNN.com.
“That’s not what I was talking about,” Jones insisted.
“I have been consistently pushing my fellow Democrats to deal with bread and butter issues — and not just hope and believe Trump will be impeached and gone tomorrow. I have been beating this drum for weeks now.”
As Deadline previously reported, and Jones notes in his editorial, he recently said in a Twitter chat, “I am glad there is a Russia investigation, and I hope they get to the bottom of it. But I think Democrats are fooling ourselves if we think that something is going to come out of this investigation that is somehow going to end the Trump presidency and make everything better. Unless there is a real smoking gun, which there is probably not, it’s just going to be a big old mess. Meanwhile we are not talking about jobs, not talking about poverty, not talking about solutions, not talking about the addiction crisis. Let’s talk about our stuff.”
“In other words, no evidence is going to emerge (THIS WEEK, soon, or maybe ever) that is powerful enough to force the craven GOP to oust Trump,” Jones wrote. “Too many Democrats see the Russia controversy as some kind of magical Get Out Of Jail Free card. They insist that we will be delivered from our misery — as soon as the next shoe drops and Trump is impeached.”
“I understand the appeal of this line of thinking. In fact, I agree with many of the basic points,” he continued:
“· I do think Putin must have something over Trump, because Putin is the only person (besides Ivanka) whom Trump never disses. Given how Trump lashes out at everyone else, that fact alone is fishy.
· I think there probably was collusion by some people in the Trump campaign with Russian operatives.
· I think Trump fired Comey to stop the Russia investigation (which Trump has all but admitted, himself). That’s obstruction of justice, in my book.”
Trump, Jones forecast, “could last until 2020.”
“But the truth is this: Americans will probably have to wait until 2020 and then vote Trump out of office. The Senate has never voted to remove a sitting president. Never. Even though Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton were both impeached, they still served their terms. Therefore, an impeached Trump could still complete his first term. The bar for removal is very high. I doubt if the Republicans in the Senate would remove Trump, even if the House impeached him.”
Nixon quit before the Watergate issue could be resolved but, “I think Trump is far too egotistical to follow Nixon’s example and quit the biggest job in the world voluntarily, for the good of the country,” Jones speculated.
“Donald J. Trump is too much of a narcissist to ever resign. Therefore, we are likely stuck with Trump until at least 2020.”
“To be clear: I am not talking about the state of the evidence against Trump. I am talking about the state of today’s Republican Party, which lacks the courage and integrity to remove Trump in the absence of irrefutable audio-taped or videotaped evidence (such as the Nixon tapes in the Watergate crisis),” Jones said.
“Thus, the Russian controversy is potentially a distraction from the hard work Democrats need to do to rebuild our party and win back the votes of some of Trump’s supporters.”
“If you take any one line of my argument out of context, you can use it to pull off a hoax,” Jones acknowledged. “That’s what O’Keefe’s minions did. The notion that I think Trump is innocent of all wrongdoing in Russiagate is ludicrous. But perhaps the people on team Trump can afford to live in a fantasy world.”