Read Full Transcript EXPAND
She’s the caustic conservative commentator who loved Trump the candidate but now not so much, this week on ‘Firing Line.’
Do you think that people hate you?
No. Not when I have seven ‘New York Times’ best-sellers.
No, I’m — I’m very popular.
After decades of courting controversy, Ann Coulter found a new muse — Donald J. Trump.
Build that wall!
Build that wall!
She got behind his candidacy because of his fiery immigration rhetoric that seemed to come directly from her.
There are cultures that are obviously deficient, and if they weren’t deficient, you wouldn’t be sitting in America interviewing me.
I’d be sitting in Mexico.
Now she’s turned on the President over his inability to fulfill his campaign promises.
I promise you, the country would be run much better if I had a veto over what Donald Trump is doing.
Well, you kind of do.
Some even think her ability to channel his base has him on notice.
Is Ann Coulter running the federal government?
What does Ann Coulter say now?
‘Firing Line’ with Margaret Hoover’ is made possible by… Corporate funding is provided by… …and by…
Ann Coulter, welcome back to ‘Firing Line.’
My, the host has changed.
You have been a provocative conservative voice for years.
You have recently made news because you have been both friend and foe of the President, vis-à-vis immigration policy.
And you have been a more articulate exponent of his ideas on immigration in a way that I think people have underestimated.
So, I’d like to just take us back to 2015, two weeks before Donald Trump launches his presidential campaign, and your 11th book is published, and it is entitled ‘iAdios, America!
The Left’s Plan to Turn our Country into a Third World Hellhole.’
Why, in that moment in time, were you concerned about immigration policy?
Well, I have been concerned about it for a while.
And I think the argument for controlling immigration is something that all Americans ought to be able to agree with.
I mean, unless you are very, very rich or you’re the Koch Brothers or a corporation, yeah, dumping low-wage workers on the country is good for you.
They aren’t gonna move into your neighborhoods.
And you were hoping to influence the candidates.
In fact, in the back of the book, you have — you grade the candidates that you suspect are going to be running — Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Chris Christie, all the normal, regular, household names, and, surprisingly, Donald Trump does not appear in the book.
But there was a moment where the Trump campaign reaches out to you.
Right as —
Before the book came out.
Walk me through that.
The night Romney lost 2012, I was so depressed, I thought it was over.
They’re going to flood the country.
We will never be able to change it now.’
And so, when I wrote ‘iAdios, America,’ I thought there was a 10% chance of saving the country.
I sent copies of it to Christie — Chris Christie — to Romney, some of the Republicans I expected to run.
I post-it-noted certain pages.
Once Trump came along, he saw me on the Jorge Ramos show, which was two weeks before the book came out.
And I’m on my way to the airport to fly up to New York and launch the book, and I got an e-mail from his people asking for an advance copy of the book.
And then, he came out with a somewhat more, um… um, boisterous version of the book with the ‘Mexican rapists’ speak.
Let me help you by showing it.
Okay. So, just a few weeks later, there’s this famous moment.
President Trump comes down the golden escalator, and he announces he’s going to run.
When Mexico sends its people, they’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us.
They’re bringing drugs.
They’re bringing crime.
And some, I assume, are good people.
So, what are you thinking when you hear that?
I thought, ‘Wow!
I don’t think I would’ve put it that way, but if he doesn’t back down, that’s pretty good.’
It was two days later I was on the Bill Maher show saying he was the most likely to win.
It’s shocking to me that you mention that, because I was just going to show a clip.
Let’s roll it.
Which Republican candidate has the best chance of winning the general election?
Of the declared ones?
Right now, Donald Trump.
[ Laughter ]
People were laughing out loud.
You went on to say your ideal ticket would actually be Romney/Walker.
I was still waiting for Trump to back down because that’s what tends to happen.
Republicans go out, they meet — I mean, I go out.
I do lots of speeches out in America.
Immigration is a huge issue.
It’s not hitting Park Avenue.
It’s not hitting Knob Hill or Beverly Hills.
It is hitting the suburbs of these places.
It is hitting America.
Their hospitals, their schools, their jobs, all of the drugs being brought in.
I mean, that is a serious issue.
And I would’ve preferred to have the same message being delivered by someone — by a more elegant politician.
But if Trump is the only one who’s gonna give us the basket of issues we wanted to vote on and neither political party had been offering it for all this time — By the way, Bernie Sanders was quite good on immigration.
He had Trump’s position.
We’re gonna get to the policies of immigration, but let me just ask this question, because in the book, you write… So, a lot to unpack there.
But the President was using some language —
Oh, there’s a lot on the rape cultures of other societies.
And I’m not saying there’s something genetic here, but these are cultures that are extremely misogynistic, honor-based, that do not respect women or children.
We can assimilate anyone to our culture — anyone at all — but when you bring in such huge numbers at once, you can’t assimilate them.
They bring their cultures with them.
I want to finish the chronology of your history with Trump.
You go on to support him through the campaign.
You introduce him at rallies.
He says lovely things about you at rallies.
Let’s look at this little clip.
I love the idea of the Great Wall of Trump.
[ Cheers and applause ] And maybe Mitch McConnell and John Boehner had to betray us once again to pave the way for President Donald Trump.
Ann Coulter, who wrote an excellent book, by the way.
She wrote an excellent book.
Do you know the name of her book?
You think she’s kidding?
She’s not kidding.
Here’s another quote.
‘My worship for him –‘ this is you of the President — ‘is like the people of North Korea worship Dear Leader — blind loyalty.
Once he gave that Mexican rapist speech, I’ll walk all over glass for him.
That’s basically it.’
Essentially, you all were aligned politically in terms of how you thought about the policy.
Were you, in a way, an outside adviser to the campaign and then the presidency when he was elected when it came to immigration policy?
I wouldn’t call myself that, but I think he did read the book.
Think he read the book.
We talked occasionally.
And running the Trump campaign, it was pretty much Trump, Corey Lewandowski, and Hope Hicks.
Jared Kushner was back in New York pretending not to be related to Trump until he’s about to lock up the nomination, and suddenly, Ivanka and Jared move in and say, ‘Okay.
It’s Corey or us.’
So, fast-forward —
So, presidency is not what he campaigned on.
Right. So that gets us to the point of, ‘How do you feel he’s doing now?’
Because you’ve said the President is an idiot.
You’ve called him the biggest wimp.
You don’t think it’s going so well.
No. I mean, I wish he’d read ‘iAdios, America!’ again.
I mean, look, we did trust him.
I trusted him.
The Angel Moms trusted him.
You said you’d give a two-time divorcée a one-time pass.
Don’t expect it.
It was the basket of issues.
If either — I loved when the Republican party — the official Republican party came out against Trump — I mean, all of them did over and over and over again, it really — for the first time, it crystallized for me.
And, you know, maybe I’m an idiot.
Other people have said this.
I always thought there was a difference between — a big difference between the Republican and the Democratic party.
And suddenly, on the crucial issues that matter to average Americans — trade, their schools, their jobs, the drug issues — unh-unh.
Both parties are just responding to the donors.
And it was never so clear as in that 2016 campaign.
And Trump struck such a chord with the issues that he has completely abandoned since being president.
How would you characterize the crisis at the border right now?
Worse than it would be under Hillary.
Do you mean that the dynamics at the border are worse than they would be under a Democrat right now?
Yes, more illegal aliens pouring in than there would be under President Hillary Clinton, definitely under President Bill Clinton.
We know it.
You can go back to that time.
Definitely under Obama.
There were surges under Obama, but Obama knew, ‘Uh-oh.
I better do something about this.’
Donald Trump, he just sends out a tweet saying, ‘I’m gonna shut down the border,’ and then goes… And then they just keep pouring in, pouring in, pouring in.
What’s he not doing that a Democrat would do?
I promise you, this could not continue because a Democrat would know he would be dead in the water.
Then you couldn’t just tweet something out and have everybody say, ‘Yay!’
There are a lot of things that can be done.
For one thing, he’d put someone in charge of Department of Homeland Security who has the first idea of what he’s doing.
Wave a wand.
What does a secure border look like?
Well, for one thing, he should build — I mean, you can call it a wall, a fence — we want what Israel has.
It works beautifully.
It sure works better than nothing.
It was kind of a scam, this Flores Settlement.
The Flores Settlement — for the sake of the viewers, please tell us what it is.
Yes. You couldn’t hold ‘minors’ who show up at the border.
And the policy outcome of that is, coyotes, human smugglers, illegal immigrants, even the hardworking ones who are gonna be taking jobs.
Communicate that to people.
They want to bring up too many children.
They drag kids with them.
Some of them are their children, some of them aren’t, but there’s your ticket to get in.
What should the Trump administration do to stop the asylum crisis?
There are all kinds of things that can be done.
Can it be an executive way, or does it have to be done through legislative action?
Oh, no, no, no, no.
No, one of the things that was beautiful about the Trump campaign — man, that was a great campaign.
[ Laughs ]
If only — Oh, my gosh.
If only he governed 1% of the way he campaigned.
All of his major promises were things he did not need the Congress for.
So, this nonsense he keeps tweeting out —
So, have the Mexicans pay for the wall was brilliant, and he could’ve done that?
Tax the remittances.
Mexican, both legal and illegal immigrants in America, send back — I said a few weeks ago on the Bill Maher show, it was $20 billion a year.
Oh, no, no, no!
Turns out $30 billion a year just to Mexico.
If we’d have put a 10% tax…
Tax on remittances.
And he can do that without Congress.
How can he do that?
Through the Treasury.
The Treasury Department alone can put all kinds of requirements on banks.
They did it after 9/11 to stop terrorist funding.
How much, honestly, though, is the wall a metaphor for securing the border, given all the other dynamics, right?
That 63% of people overstay their visas.
At least that was the last few years.
That’s a new number, actually.
That’s the last number.
It’s the majority now.
It’s more than 50% overstay visas.
Well, basically everything you ever read in the newspaper about immigration is a lie.
I did read all of your footnotes, as well.
But I did get updated statistics for the show.
But the reason — Can I answer the metaphor question?
Yeah, it is a metaphor, the wall, but in the sense that we also need to change the asylum rules.
We do need to track visa overstayers.
That’s a legislative fix, not something Donald Trump can do.
Immigration is the president’ responsibility.
He can ban anybody he wants.
He can ban redheads, he can ban tall people, he can ban short people, as the Supreme Court found with his ‘Muslim ban.’
So, most of the things — building the wall, protecting the border.
I mean, everyone seems to accept that he can bomb innocent people in Syria without checking with Congress, but he can’t protect our actual border?
So, why don’t you think he’s doing what you think he should be doing?
Um, I don’t know.
You’d have to talk to a psychiatrist.
This is, in your view, political life or death for him.
You think that, if he doesn’t deliver for the strong bases of the party that voted for him and that cares about these issues, that he’ll suffer in 2020.
Yes, and, frankly, he deserves it.
But on the other hand, looking at the Democratic candidates —
What do you think about Bernie Sanders?
If Bernie Sanders is for getting rid of low-skilled workers so as to ensure higher wages —
And protecting the border.
If he went back to his original position, which is the pro-blue-collar position, I mean, it totally makes sense with him.
If he went back to that position, I vote for him.
I might work for him.
I don’t care about the rest of the socialist stuff.
Just can we do something for ordinary Americans?
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has connected climate change to the immigration crisis.
She says it’s the cause of climate change.
There are droughts in Guatemala and caravans that ensue because there is no economic opportunity for people there.
What is your view of the new member of the House of Representatives who has garnered so much attention?
Conservatives just really… [ Laughs ] They started going after her, creating the means.
It was as if she was the President, and I said to a lot of them, ‘She’s one member of Congress.
We’ve got a lot of dumb congressmen.
Can we focus on something a little more of what this should —
You didn’t want to elevate her or to…?
I just think it’s like shooting fish in the barrel.
Republicans, you know, their minds tend to wander.
Could we concen– Could we talk about something that matters?
Right. Well, let me ask you about the sanctuary cities.
Trump recently tweeted that what we should do with all of the people who are at the border is actually just drop them in sanctuary cities and districts that Democrats oversee in order to give them the problem.
When Trump makes a promise, such as, ‘I’m gonna shut down the border,’ what’s the one thing we know isn’t gonna happen?
Whatever Trump just promised.
And so, when he promises he’s gonna send illegal immigrants to sanctuary cities, I mean, I don’t see anything outrageous about that.
He’s not gonna do it because he says it, and everything he says is a lie, and that’s what you believe, or do you believe that there are legal challenges to it?
No, of course he can do it.
And he could start by hiring —
Who should be the next DHS Secretary, then?
Well, Kris Kobach.
I mean, he’s an elegant person.
Won’t he have the same impediments that Kirstjen Nielsen went up against?
No, she wasn’t even trying.
Kris Kobach was the Secretary of State of Kansas.
Yes, and he also came up with self-deportation, which, you know, people may make fun of, but that is a very humane way to deal with ‘How are we gonna get wages up for Americans?’
And, look, this isn’t anything ugly about them.
A lot of illegal immigrants, probably the majority, are very hardworking, they’re really sweet people, but we have to take care of our own.
That’s the issue.
Politically, one of the arguments you make about a restrictionist policy on immigration, actually, it seems to me, once you get through some of the outrageous things you say, ’cause this is one of the things you do — you say things that are provocative that I think you probably know will offend people, and are probably also intended to make them think.
I would say I’m not trying to offend, but I do want —
But when you get to the politics of it, it seems to me that what you actually want is people emigrating here to acculturate and to assimilate to American values.
And you think that people can do that, but your political argument is that the left is enabling new waves of immigration since 1965 to not assimilate.
And that is actually what the problem is.
Is that a fair characterization?
It’s a triple whammy.
One is, take people in from as different cultures as we possibly can — the poorest, the hardest cases in the world.
Up until the 1965 Immigration Act, which really kicked in in 1970, immigrants who came to America were, on average, more educated, made more money, bought more houses.
Isn’t that what a sane country would do?
We can take any immigrants we want, any immigrants in the world.
Why don’t we take immigrants who are better than us?
Let’s get our average up.
So, starting in 1970, not only are we taking the hardest cases, but they also came to a country where we’re embarrassed about our own culture.
It’s a hate crime to ask people to assimilate.
So, we’ve changed the country they’re coming to, and we’re bringing in the hardest cases, and we’re bringing in enormous numbers of them.
And how do you explain that, with these waves of immigration over the last 30 years, unemployment is actually down, the economy has grown, and crime is down?
No. That is not because we have more immigrants.
And I would also say we have different kinds of crimes.
I’ll tell you there’s certain crimes that have gone up quite a bit — Medicare fraud, Medicaid fraud, Nigerian princes.
The rhetoric about the cultural reason for restrictionism, for an immigration restrictionism, paints all Mexicans with a broad brush stroke, right?
No, I wouldn’t — I wouldn’t say that at all.
And I think there’s a reason so many legal Mexican immigrants supported Trump.
It’s the numbers we’re bringing in.
We can assimilate anyone to American culture but not in the numbers we’re bringing in.
In lower numbers.
So that’s lower numbers of legal immigration?
Yes! Yes, yes, yes.
Okay. Now, how else would you tweak the formulas, in terms of low-skilled workers, high-skilled workers?
I would like more people competing with lawyers, businessmen, senators, the Koch Brothers, journalists.
‘New York Times’ reporters, instead of competing with their landscapers, which is what we have now — Oh, yeah, they love immigration as long as it’s not an immigrant competing with their kid to get into Harvard.
No, with the immigration, they’re the ones who want all the cheap labor being brought in to just keep driving down wages of the poorest Americans.
So, I just have to ask you about George Borjas — right? — who is a well-known economist.
He’s on the restrictionist side of immigration.
And his view about low-skilled immigration is that, ultimately, it doesn’t actually affect in the long-term any group negatively — not high-skilled workers, low-skilled workers, any socioeconomic group negatively — with the exception of high school dropouts and that that, while there are many high school dropouts who are first-generation immigrants, even the effect of that negatively diminishes over time.
Well, okay, just for fun, for an experiment, let’s spend five years bringing in lots of immigrants to compete with the groups I just talked about and no immigrants competing with their landscapers or with people working retail.
Let’s just see how it goes.
You know, as long as it doesn’t affect anybody’s wages, let’s start bringing in people, the highest-I.Q. people, to compete with the children of the people writing for ‘The New York Times’ and appearing on TV and living in fancy, leafy, lily-white suburbs.
Let’s just — ‘Cause they say it’s not gonna affect them.
Let’s try it.
I don’t care how many economists are going to tell me that somehow they’ve managed to repeal the laws of supply and demand.
You have more of something, the price goes down.
We have more workers only in the lower strata.
This isn’t the first time you’ve been pessimistic about the future of the country on ‘Firing Line.’
So, in 1998, I’m gonna share a clip from when you were on this program with William F. Buckley Jr., talking about your very first book that came out, which was called ‘High Crimes and Misdemeanors: The Case Against Bill Clinton.’
That was a good book.
So, how is the lying different now?
Um…well, first of all… part of what did happen was, Clinton was impeached.
I mean, that was — he wasn’t removed from office, but the impeachment — That was before the impeachment.
I think that means something.
There was a standard.
I mean, you have called out the President over his lies.
Actually, no, I think there’s only two lies he’s told since he was President, and maybe he believes them.
You’ve called out his lying about not delivering on his promises.
Um… Well, that’s one of the two lies I was gonna give you.
What was the other?
So, he keeps claiming that, ‘Oh, we’ve already started the wall.’
I mean, at some point, they did replace 26 miles.
And the other lie was that bombing the innocents in Syria was in America’s national security interests.
But, you know, maybe he believed it.
Maybe it wasn’t a lie.
There are independent media organizations who altogether have come up with around 9,400 lies that they —
But that’s when they’re talking about him, saying, um… Well, wiretapping Trump Tower, for example.
Oh, it wasn’t wiretapping.
Okay. Whatever you want to call it.
They’re listening on certain phones.
This is another show.
We’ll do this one next time.
All right, so, in 1998, you have your debut on this program, and, really, since then, that was when your first book came out, you have been really a pioneer of outspoken conservative women with fiery rhetoric who are planting a flag.
And I think in the intervening years, since 1998, the country has become divided, more divided — culturally, politically.
And the real question is, how do we get to a place where we solve our problems?
I do think it’s gotten significantly worse… under Trump, and I don’t think this is good for the country.
I mean, it’s — Someone like me would not be allowed on CNN or MSNBC.
And it’s shocking to me — I mean, people are — How little — I think that it’s very hard to be a conservative and not know what liberals are saying.
It’s very easy to be a liberal and not even know what the other side of the argument is.
But the —
I think the hatred for Trump will — Yeah, I think Trump is going to have a very difficult time keeping his base together as things stand right now.
Is he gonna win re-election?
Yeah, probably, looking at the other — at what the Democrats are running.
No, if you’re gonna be running on — I’m sorry — slavery reparations on an open border… [ Laughs ] …Zippy the Chimp is gonna win.
But the idea is, there is a profit motive behind polarization that has perpetuated itself.
There’s no question about, ‘Are we going to be actually be able to be a self-governing nation?’
Trump, the guy who was gonna build the wall, hasn’t built the wall.
The Congress can’t pass — I mean, for one, it seems like the one issue that every presidency tries and can’t solve immigration reform.
No, they don’t try.
But — But these are real —
And for viewers who are thinking to themselves, ‘Okay, Ms. Coulter, we knew Trump was a con man liar.
Why did you write ‘In Trump We Trust’? He was the only one saying the things we wanted said.
And weirdly, the fact that he was not the typical, elegant politician, it made him more believable, because we had been lied to so many times by traditional politicians.
Maybe this is what we need.
Then he gets to the White House, and all he wants is for ‘The New York Times’ and the fancy people to like him.
So, I don’t know.
He can come back.
I wouldn’t harass him if I didn’t think there was a small chance, but I’ve gone from thinking 10% chance to save the country when I wrote ‘iAdios, America!’ 90% chance to save the country the night Trump was elected president.
Now we’re down to about 1%.
At this point, are you prepared to support the President again in 2020?
Look, I wouldn’t keep harassing him on Twitter and denouncing him if I didn’t think there was some hope.
He is listening to you, it seems.
There was that moment before the shutdown where he was going in to have a negotiation, and then, the media narrative out of it, when he went to a government shutdown, was, ‘Ann Coulter has more influence over this president than elected members of the Senate and the House.’
Well, I should.
They’re not gonna get him re-elected.
Did the media get it right?
No. I mean, I think that — Look, as a representative of Trump’s base, yeah.
I mean, I’m — yeah, I’m part of the base.
So, what does he need to do to solidify the base for his re-election?
I don’t —
Build the wall.
It’d be good if he really started it.
Look, I happen to love his tweets, but tweets aren’t action.
We voted for results.
We voted for a builder who promised a wall, a builder.
We’ve always had, like, a former vice president, a general, a governor.
We voted for a builder.
We wanted a wall.
And he just keeps talking, talking, talking.
And then, it never happens.
On that note…
[ Laughs ]
Ann Coulter, thank you for returning to ‘Firing Line.’
‘Firing Line’ with Margaret Hoover’ is made possible by… Corporate funding is provided by… …and by…
You’re watching PBS.