MSNBC's Ali Velshi: Trump ‘Cowardly Not to Take Questions From Legitimate News Sources'

February 23, 2018

MSNBC host Ali Velshi took grave offense at President Donald Trump taking questions from reporters from the Washington Examiner and One America News Network on Friday.

Velshi considered it vital that Trump face questions about the report that former campaign aide Rick Gates would plead guilty in Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian involvement in the 2016 election. The news on Gates broke minutes before Trump’s joint press conference with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, and Trump ended up taking questions about Syria and Jared Kushner’s security clearance.

Velshi expressed outrage that the people who asked those questions were Gabby Morrongiello and Trey Yingst of the Examiner and One American News, respectively.

"In the news conference, typically speaking, if something like this happened and the president had reporters in front of him—you know, he chose two very friendly outlets," Velshi said.

Katy Tur, who was finishing her broadcast and handing off to Velshi, pointed out that Morrongiello and Yingst asked tough questions.

Morrongiello asked, "Your chief of staff, General Kelly, has recommended ending the practice of granting interim security clearances to members of the Trump administration. If that proceeds, would you be willing to grant a waiver to Jared Kushner, one of your senior advisers?"

Yingst addressed Turnbull and Trump, asking, "Australia is known for helping the Syrian people and Syrian refugees. So I ask you today, as the world watches, what steps can Australia take, with the help of the President and the United States, to ensure that civilians are protected in eastern Gouda?"

Velshi told Tur that the questions being "tough" was irrelevant.

"But they were still friendly outlets, the first one of which, OAN, peddles in conspiracy theories," Velshi said, arguing that "something is wrong at the White House" when such outlets have press credentials.

"The president took the easy way out today," Velshi added. "It was cowardly not to take questions from legitimate news sources today. The fact that it was a hard question is secondary to the fact that the president,  on a day he had to be held accountable, the very basis of our accountability in society, the president cheated."

Pointing out that Gates was reportedly pleading guilty on charges to defraud the U.S. government, Velshi said it seemed as if the administration was living in an "alternate universe."

Velshi did not provide further definition of what makes an outlet "legitimate," but he has engaged in his own conspiracy theorizing. Just this week, he said on air that he suspects the National Rifle Association of counting him as a member, offering no evidence besides promotional material he received in the mail.

Elsewhere on MSNBC, John Heilemann theorized last month that House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R., Calif.) could be a "Russian agent."

Velshi also tweeted his displeasure over Morrongiello and Yingst asking questions.