CNN’s Jake Tapper on Wednesday questioned Rep. Brian Mast’s commitment to U.S. democracy despite acknowledging that the Florida congressman had “lost his legs … fighting for democracy abroad.”
The quote: Tapper, speaking live on-air to co-anchor Dana Bash, took issue with Mast’s floor speech against the House’s impeachment of President Donald Trump for allegedly inciting an insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.
- Mast, a Florida Republican, had asked why his colleagues did not question any of the participants in the Capitol riot about whether Trump caused their actions.
- Tapper, from the studio, retorted that some rioters had already publicly implicated the president, and he also brought up Mast’s combat service.
- “Congressman Brian Mast, a Republican from Florida who lost his legs, by the way, fighting for democracy abroad, although I don’t know about his commitment to it here in the United States …” Tapper said.
Mast’s 10-year Army career ended in 2010 when he stepped on a roadside bomb while fighting in the U.S. war in Afghanistan.
The reaction: Amid conservative backlash to Tapper’s comments, Mast tweeted later on Wednesday: “I lost two legs for [Tapper’s] right to say whatever the hell he wants …”
- But the congressman defended his position that Trump, while demonstrating “a serious lack of leadership,” had not met the constitutional standard for impeachment.
Tapper responded by again questioning Mast’s “commitment to democracy.
- While acknowledging the congressman as a “hero,” Tapper faulted him for spreading “election lies,” for voting against certifying the Electoral College vote and — erroneously — for supporting a Texas lawsuit aimed at overturning the election results in four swing states.
- Mast did not support the suit.
Despite Mast’s “no” vote on impeachment, the House on Wednesday afternoon voted for a second time in just over a year to remove Trump from office.
- All the House Democrats voted “yes” along with 10 Republicans, sending the matter to the Senate for a trial.
The CNN way: Tapper joined a chorus of other Trump-critical voices on CNN in seeking to make the president’s impeachment an indictment of his supporters, too.
On Wednesday evening, “CNN Tonight” host Don Lemon claimed that anyone who voted for Trump was “on the side of” the Ku Klux Klan and the Capitol rioters.
The Capitol takeover, like the Trump era in general, has yielded a ratings bonanza for CNN.
- Jan. 6 was an all-time record for the network, with 5.2 million viewers tuning in.