Trump State Department Spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus

12 Nov 2021

ORTAGUS: I’ve got to ask you about something that’s in the news a lot right now. You’ve been really prolific over the past few years, being the head of the Intel Committee. And you’ve defended, promoted — you even read into the Congressional Record — the Steele dossier. And we know last week, the main source of the dossier was indicted by the FBI for lying about most of the key claims in that dossier.

Do you have any reflections on your role in promoting this to the American people? And, to be clear, he was fired halfway through the campaign. But you make — spread Russia disinformation yourself for years by promoting this. I think that’s what Republicans — and what people who entrusted you as the Intel Committee chair — are so confused about your culpability in all of this. No, I think just your credibility is…


CLAY: Man, I love that. If you didn’t hear it earlier this week, we played it. That is Morgan Ortagus on The View filleting Adam Schiff who helped to spread the ideas that the Steele dossier was legitimate, that there was collusion between the Trump administration and Russia. And we have now, as we roll into hour number two, Friday edition, Clay Travis & Buck Sexton Show — encourage you to go subscribe to the podcast, make sure you don’t miss a minute — Morgan Ortagus, who you just heard right there taking down Adam Schiff.

And Morgan, I have to say right off the top here, thank you so much for doing that because almost no one will say anything to Adam Schiff that requires him to stand up and acknowledge what he spent years spreading. And somehow doing it on The View made it even better, ’cause he thought he was going in for probably a very lightweight interview and you were just standing there ready for him, dunked all over him. So thank you, and was that a difficult decision to make in The View context when you’re guest hosting, or how did you come to go after him that aggressively and that well?

ORTAGUS: Well, first of all, thanks for having me on. Congrats on the show. I have to say, it’s so nice to hear the Rush Limbaugh music. It brings me back to the last 20, 25 years of listening to him on the radio. So congrats to you guys.

CLAY: Thank you.

ORTAGUS: I gotta say the producers at The View, the whole team was amazing, really amazing. They were kind and supportive the whole week, and Tuesday was the second day hosting, and I spoke to the producers the night before, and we were talking about questions the next day. I said, “Listen, guys, this is someone who a lot of people have been upset with for essentially spreading Russian disinformation for years, and I think he needs a tough question.”

And I said, “So, when it comes to my question, this is kind of where I’m headed, what I’d like to ask,” and again, all credit to the producers. Everybody said, “Absolutely, Morgan. We want you to feel like that you can ask tough questions,” and they knew I would do it in a respectful way ’cause that’s how I am. But one of the pillars of our democracy is that we are able to hold all of our leaders accountable and ask tough questions of them.

And so, like I said, I will be honest. I said this the other day on Fox. My hand (chuckles) and I don’t get nervous easy. I don’t know why this happened. But my hand did start shaking a little and Sunny Hostin gave me like a… She was very kind and encouraging in the commercial break because I sort of thought, “Well, this is it,” right? There might not be another moment to question him and I need to make sure I land this ’cause he’s a smart guy.

He’s not a dummy, right? He’s a professional politician, and so I just wanted to land it — again, not on behalf of Republicans or conservatives. Forget all that. I wanted to land it because this is someone who promoted, defended, ready into the Congressional Record a dossier which now… You know, the main people that are the sources of that dossier have been indicted.

It not only looks like it wasn’t lies. It may have been full-on Russian disinformation that started an investigation into the president, wasted a lot of taxpayer dollars. So there’s just a lot that needed to be held accountable for, and the little clip at the end, I just couldn’t help, because I’m sort of hoping — and I know this was probably very naive of me.

I was sort of hoping that as a public servant, he would take the moment to say, “You know what? I was wrong on the dossier,” and he can still defend, right? All of his actions that he feels like that he needed to hold President Trump accountable for. Fine. But there was… When there’s just no moment of self-reflection and no moment of saying, “Yeah, I may have had screwed that one up,” I just kind of got irritated. You know, that’s why your credibility is in question, my friend.

BUCK: Hey, Morgan, it’s Buck. I remember when you were working with Secretary Pompeo and under the Trump administration in your role as a spokesperson, right, dealing with the press constantly, and so you were very much feeling the incoming all the time about Russia collusion delusion, and I’m just wondering if you have in any way picked up from the press corps — and maybe more specifically the people that cover the diplomatic press corps — is there any embarrassment although how many of them went for this?

Even if it’s private. Do any of them feel like they have betrayed their craft by being so wrong on something so important, which was the lie used to undermine Trump for really all of his presidency, or was it just a tactic, and so it doesn’t matter to them that it was wrong because they were just trying to defeat Trump and it didn’t matter what they had to do to get there?

ORTAGUS: I will say that some of the people that I still talk to and have relationships with say, “Oh, I never fell for it. I never promoted that,” and I just sort of smile and say, “Okay, sure. Whatever you want to believe,” and then there are some — not many, but there are definitely some — well-known mainstream journalists that were questioning this and that have expressed to me privately that they were very frustrated that they could not score an interview with Congressman Schiff for his new book.

And so this is — and I’m not at all talking about right-of-center journalists. I’m talking about very mainstream journalists that wanted an interview and could not get one because they’re known to be tough reporters. So that’s why I said I didn’t feel like in the moment that I was questioning the congressman on behalf of a party. I was questioning him on behalf of everybody who sort of wanted some answers. So I think…

You know, listen. When we go — and, Buck, you know this better than anybody, given your time at the CIA and elsewhere. When you start to talk about Russia, it’s really frustrating from a policy perspective, and it’s frustrating for foreign policy and national security professionals like you are, Buck. We know that for eight years the Obama administration not only really ignored the threat of Russia, we all famously know they mocked Mitt Romney whenever he tried to warn them about it, and then what happened?

Of course, Russia invaded Crimea. That was on President Obama’s watch, and he essentially did nothing to stop that. And there are news reports — actually just yesterday, I believe it was yesterday — that the Biden administration is warning our European allies about the potentially there could be another invasion into Ukraine.

This is on the backdrop of the Biden administration essentially allowing the Russians to complete the Nord Stream 2 pipeline which will make Europe basically entirely dependent on Russian gas. It will undermine Ukraine economically and with their territorial sovereignty as well until in our administration we were putting sanctions on Russians. I was in the room with Mike Pompeo and Putin and Lavrov multiple times, and trust me.

I saw one on one in that room how tough Mike Pompeo was with them. It was a side of him that you do not want to get on, the side of whenever he is incensed over something. So you’ve got a group of that were also senior officials in the Obama administration for eight years that are now running the Biden administration. It’s the same group of people that were soft on Russia for eight years. Now they’ve allowed them to build Nord Stream 2.

They’re supposedly warning our European allies, “Look, the Russians might invade.” Well, what the hell is anybody gonna do about it? (Unintelligible) under President Trump right? China and Russia knew, “Well, this guy might be a little crazy. He, like, might actually stop us from doing these reckless things that we’d like to do,” and I think it’s not out of the realm of possibility that, under four years of Biden administration, that you could see another Russian invasion into Ukraine.

You could potentially see — maybe post-Olympics — a Chinese invasion of Taiwan. The Biden administration doesn’t think that’s going to happen. I hope they’re right. If I was a betting man and I wanted to do it, I’d do it under a Biden administration as opposed to potentially a second Trump administration.

CLAY: Morgan, what about the irony here that for years we were flogged with, “Donald Trump is a Russian agent,” and the Democrats said, “Oh, you can’t share anything associated with the Hunter Biden laptop. That’s Russian disinformation,” and the ultimate outcome here is that the Democrats were being used by Russia to peddle disinformation from the Steele dossier.

Which is infinitely more impactful in its negative consequences for the Trump administration than anything they were ever alleging Trump had done that would have helped his administration. It’s really we’re through the looking glass here, where so often what we’re being told by mainstream media is not just wrong, it’s the exact opposite of what is actually taking place.

ORTAGUS: Yeah, it’s one of the reasons that I joke and say that I don’t read fiction (laughs), because in politics and in international relations, as you know, it’s you don’t need to read fiction because you literally can’t make this up, right? If you pitch this whole story to a Hollywood producer, they would laugh at you and say this is too unbelievable. And what I think is…

You know, the things that worry me is that the Democrats talk a lot about our institutions and whether our institutions are withstanding pressure and all that sort of talk, right? Well, if you look at… I encourage your listeners to Google Eli Lake and look at his recent article in Commentary magazine. When you start reading Eli, he pieces it together better than anybody, and when you look at both the Horowitz FBI IG investigation and the Durham investigation, the Horowitz, they sort of the painted the FBI as being a victim of Clinton campaign operatives and tactics.

I think that that’s letting the FBI off a little too lightly. And what you look at here is that we may have essentially campaign material from a rival campaign; that was essentially used by the FBI for those FISA warrants to listen in on the Trump campaign. So that is a Democratic campaign going to the FBI to spy on their political opponents, right, by misleading the FBI. So if you want to talk about our institutions withstanding pressure? Using the FBI, using intelligence agencies — intelligence community resources, government resources, millions of dollars in taxpayer money — to go after your political opponent, that’s pretty darn crooked.

BUCK: Morgan Ortagus, former State Department spokesperson. And, Morgan, always great to have you on. Thanks for being with us. Appreciate it.

ORTAGUS: Thank you, guys! Talk soon.

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