The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Bill Maher’s interview with a Trump defender started out nice. Then Russia came up.

Bill Maher started out the interview by calling Jeffrey Lord one of “the nicest guys in the world. Genteel. Polite.”

Minutes later, Maher was cursing at the pro-President Trump CNN contributor.

Their Friday conversation on “Real Time with Bill Maher” intensified, then boiled over as they talked about whether alleged Russian vote manipulation helped make Trump president.

“Unless you can manipulate the votes in the machine, you haven’t done it,” Lord told Maher.

“I like you, and I heard you’re a very nice guy, but don’t bull—- me,” Maher replied. “There are other ways you can affect an election, and one of them is to hack the emails of one side and release those as a slow drip, drip, drip, drip, drip.”

The pair continued to parry as the conversation pivoted to Trump’s unreleased tax returns.

“Respectfully, I say to you, this becomes a political gotcha game,” Lord said, defending the president’s decision to not release them. “We need to get the country moving again, right?”

“Not if the country is being led by someone who was put there by a foreign power,” Maher replied.

Trump and the people who’ve defended him on national television have faced a barrage of criticism over what role the Russian government played in the 2016 election.

As The Washington Post’s Rosalind S. Helderman reported, “The past few days have brought a growing list of confirmed communications between Trump campaign aides and Russian officials, with each new revelation adding to a cloud of suspicion that hangs over the White House as critics demand an independent investigation.”

Despite early denials, growing list of Trump camp contacts with Russians haunts White House

The Trump administration at first denied any contact with the Russians.

Recently, the Trump team has acknowledged meetings happened, but described them as polite introductions, Helderman reported.

Michael Flynn was forced to resign as national security adviser because of his pre-inauguration contacts with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, including a meeting alongside Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner.

Through it all, Lord has been helping to articulate the administration’s positions. He re-signed with CNN in 2017, one of seven new pro-Trump commentators, according to The Post’s Erik Wemple.

Lord over the past year has had several heated interactions while debating Trump’s actions.

He faced off against CNN’s Van Jones after Trump was unwilling to disavow the endorsement of former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard David Duke.

“They were the military arm, the terrorist arm of the Democratic Party, according to historians,” Lord told Jones in the CNN segment from March. “For God’s sake, read your history.”

Then, at the Democratic National Convention, Lord said the Democratic Party should take responsibility for slavery and its legacy in the United States, Wemple reported:

What CNN analyst Jeffrey Lord got very wrong in that KKK debate with Van Jones

“I’ve never understood why after 176 years of writing political platforms the Democratic Party doesn’t simply say, ‘We were responsible for slavery and segregation. We apologize. Let’s name the injustice — we were responsible for creating this culture of race in this country and we’re sorry.’ I mean, I just don’t understand what’s wrong with that.”

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