Amodei’s perfect interview with CNN

I don't understand
(CNN screengrab)
I don't understand
(CNN screengrab)

Mark Amodei was interviewed by CNN reporter Manu Raju Monday. The interview must be viewed to be fully appreciated, but here’s a very (very) lightly edited transcript of what went down:

Raju: Mr. Amodei, though, the substance of the things that have come out, is that the president asked for a public investigation into his rivals, and also Ukraine aid was being withheld, and Bill Taylor testified…

Amodei: That’s your conclusion. 

Raju: That isn’t my conclusion I’m saying that’s what’s come out…

Amodei: It sounds like a conclusion to me, so we disagree on the question.

Raju: The president has asked for the Ukrainians to investigate the Bidens. Is that OK?

Amodei refused to answer, and instead changed the subject to the high regard in which he holds what he views to be “normal processes.” Because if there’s one thing today’s Republican Party has demonstrated it values, it is … things that are normal?

The interview continued…

Amodei: So beyond that, when you say that you’ve made the conclusion, whatever, it’s like you’re a gifted guy because guess what, it isn’t over and you already know what you think.

Raju: The White House transcript that was released had President Trump asking President Zelensky to open an investigation into the Bidens.

Amodei, again changing the subject: Do you know if they’ve even got plans to call the whistleblower? Because I heard they didn’t. Now I don’t know if that’s true…

Raju: You’re not answering my question about the substance of the allegation.

Amodei, literally, physically waving the question away: I disagree with your conclusion. It’s a conclusion not a question.

Raju: I’m asking you about what’s in the White House transcript.

Amodei: Well my English teacher says you’ve got a conclusion. So if you want to interview yourself go right ahead…

Raju: Why don’t you want to answer the question? Is it OK for the president to ask a foreign country to investigate the Bidens?

Amodei: Why don’t you want to do an interview instead of interviewing yourself?

Raju: The president asked on the White House lawn…

Amodei: Will you answer my question?

Raju: … on the south lawn of the White House the president asked China to investigate the Bidens. Is that OK?

Amodei: Hey, you know what? If you don’t want to interview me then interview yourself.

Raju: I’m asking you a question. If you don’t want to answer…

Amodei: I don’t understand.

Raju: You don’t understand?

Amodei: Yeah.

Raju: OK.

Amodei: Thanks for doing the best you could.

Not to belabor the obvious, but in the White House notes of what Trump would later characterize as his “perfect” call with Volodymyr Zelensky, Trump is quoted asking the Ukrainian government to investigate the Bidens. Trump called on China to investigate the Bidens, on camera.

Neither of those are a “conclusion,” as Amodei disingenuously claimed to CNN. Both are indisputable facts, as Amodei knows full well.

Apart from the smugness, condescension, and the trademark Amodei smart-alec remarks and demeanor, what Amodei appears to be doing in the CNN interview is playing dumb.

But Amodei isn’t dumb. 

Amodei knows Adam Laxalt (of the Adelson Laxalts) is circling Amodei like a buzzard, wondering and waiting to decide if he should challenge Amodei in next year’s primary.

A full-on sycophantic defense of Trump, dripping with cynicism and disdain for a reporter from a network Trump, and hence his enthralled base, loves to hate — Trump’s Nevada voters will adore Amodei’s performance in the interview.

In his September conference call with Nevada reporters that got Amodei crosswise with Trump in the first place, Amodei said of the impeachment inquiry, “let’s put it through the process and see what happens.”

Also in that interview, when questioned about Trump asking Zelensky for a favor, as — again — detailed in the notes of the Trump-Zelensky call released by the White House, Amodei said “If it was my statement and I had the ability to do over, I’d have probably phrased it differently.”

“It’s hard to say it’s all made up, with the release of the transcripts,” Amodei added.

And in that interview with Nevada reporters, Amodei also said “…if it’s established that we’re not sending those folks a penny until they give us a smoking gun on family Biden, obviously that would not be good, so we’ll see.”

Those comparatively — dare we say? — moderate remarks in September stand in contrast to the super-Trumpy performance on CNN Monday. Which is why it is only prudent to bring them up. After all, if Laxalt challenges the incumbent, Trump’s voters in Nevada’s second congressional district are entitled to know which Mark Amodei will be on the ballot.

Hugh Jackson
Editor | Hugh Jackson has been writing about Nevada policy and politics for more than 20 years. He was editor of the Las Vegas Business Press, senior editor at the Las Vegas CityLife weekly newspaper, daily political commentator on the Las Vegas NBC affiliate, and wrote the then-groundbreaking Las Vegas Gleaner, which among other things was the only independent political blog from Nevada that was credentialed at the 2008 Democratic National Convention. He spent a few years as a senior energy and environmental policy analyst for Public Citizen, and has occasionally worked as a consultant on mining, taxation, education and other issues for Nevada labor and public interest organizations. His freelance work has been published in outlets ranging from the Guardian to Desert Companion to In These Times to the Oil & Gas Journal. For several years he also taught U.S. History courses at UNLV. Prior to moving to Las Vegas, he was a reporter and then assistant managing editor at the Casper Star-Tribune, Wyoming’s largest newspaper.