'Why didn't they tell us about it?' Erin Burnett presses congressman on Russian meetings

Burnett grills congressman over Russia
Burnett grills congressman over Russia

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Burnett grills congressman over Russia 10:40

(CNN)Rep. Dana Rohrabacher thinks the continued media coverage of alleged meetings between associates of Donald Trump and various Russian entities has been vastly overblown. And he made that abundantly clear on Thursday evening.

"This is so much to do about nothing, that it's just incredible," said the Republican from California.
The comments came as part of a fiery and feisty interview with CNN's Erin Burnett, during which the host pressed her guest.
"What I'm asking you is if it wasn't sinister, why didn't they tell us about it?" wondered Burnett, referencing Rohrabacher's insistence that any unreported meetings were more honest oversight and less intentional deception.
    "We don't know if it was sinister or not ... all we know is that there was a failure to disclose meeting after meeting after meeting after meeting after meeting," she said.
    For Rohrabacher, Attorney General Jeff Sessions -- for example -- failing to list the exact number of interactions he had with Russia during the campaign is easily explained.
    "He had three of them, over a long period of time," said Rohrabacher, referring to Sessions. "You're trying to make it look sinister that he only remembered two of them. Come on! Get real. This is no news."
    Additionally, Thursday's conversation turned to Rohrabacher's own Russian history, and a meeting with an alleged former Soviet spy.
    While there exists a massive discrepancy in regards to dates -- Rohrabacher says it happened 10 years ago, Burnett has CNN's reporting at April 2017 -- all parties agree certain interactions did occur.
    "The answer is I'm always aware that anybody from the Russian embassy is probably involved in intelligence," said the guest.
    Calling Rohrabacher a "sophisticated Washington player" who understands "the game," Burnett wondered whether perhaps President's Donald Trump own son-in-law -- who is significantly less seasoned -- may have been victimized by calculating Russians.
    "Do you think ... that Jared Kushner, who had zero government experience ... had the ability that you have, to avoid become an unwitting Russian asset?"
    Acknowledging Kushner's possible international naivete, Rohrabacher countered by noting that there's no real concern, as Kushner could easily rely on more established colleagues in the nation's capital.
    "When he got back to the White House, I'm sure he talked to the people he works with," said the guest. "He was surrounded by them."
    This comment by Rohrbacher seemingly only helped to make Burnett's point, who noted the interview had officially come full circle.
    "If it was important enough for him [Kushner] to know that it was important to talk about people around him, wouldn't it have been important enough to disclose on your national security clearance form?" she followed up.
    To this, Rohrbacher was only able to cling to his initial argument, which was that any clerical shortcomings were far more absent-minded than they were nefarious.
    "I just have to tell ya," he began, "I don't see anything serious about people who make paperwork mistakes and sometimes when they've had thousands of conversations to forget they had an extra one."
    Erin Burnett had come to the conclusion she sought from the outset.
    "You're trying, on the one hand, to say they [the meetings] were so insignificant they didn't remember them, then on the other, they knew how significant they were, so they tried to tell people around them," detailed the host, adding that this seems to be "contradictory statements."