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Debating Trump’s reaction to the New York attack

President Trump’s response to a New York terror attack was starkly different from how he responded to a mass shooting in Las Vegas. John Yang sits down with Karine Jean-Pierre of MoveOn.org and Chris Buskirk of American Greatness to discuss the president’s call for extreme vetting, plus the first indictments in the Russia probe.

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  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    The president responds to another terror attack on U.S. soil, while Republicans on Capitol Hill continue to debate the path forward on tax reform, and Trump campaign associate are handed indictments in a federal probe into 2016 election interference.

    John Yang has that.

  • John Yang:

    Thanks, Hari.

    For two different perspectives on these stories, we’re joined by Karine Jean-Pierre. She’s a senior adviser to MoveOn.org, a contributing editor to “Bustle,” which is an online women’s magazine, and a veteran of the Obama administration. Also, Chris Buskirk, editor of the conservative blog AmericanGreatness.org. He’s also a radio talk host out in Phoenix. He joins us tonight from San Francisco.

    Welcome to you both.

    Chris, I would like to start with you.

    Much is being made about the difference or the seeming difference between President Trump’s response to the shootings in Las Vegas and this attack yesterday in New York. After Las Vegas, he said it’s not the time to have a policy debate, it’s time to focus on the victims.

    This time, he seemed to jump right into a policy debate about the diversity visa lottery program, and he identified a culprit, Chuck Schumer, the Democratic Senate leader in the senate.

    What do you make of this, Chris?

  • Chris Buskirk:

    It’s because we know a key fact that is different in these two incidents, and I think that key fact kind of drives where the debate goes.

    You know, in Las Vegas, we had — we had the sort of lone gunman who was not acting on ideology that was — at least one that was discernible. In New York, we had somebody who was acting on a very definable and knowable ideology, an ideology that we have unfortunately seen come back and kill thousands of Americans time — well, over time, has killed thousands of Americans, has killed thousands of people throughout the West.

    And so we can sort of get past that part and say, well, what drove this person to do it? We know that. We know that already with the New York attacker. It was Islamic supremacism. He said so. We know that.

    And so we get on to the part and say, well, what do we do about it? Is there a way to make Americans safer? And what the president was reacting to is, he was looking and saying, we played the so-called diversity lottery on immigration, and we lost. So, let’s try and change policy again in a way that can make Americans safer, more protected.

  • John Yang:

    Karine?

  • Karine Jean-pierre:

    Look, first, I want to say my thoughts and prayers go out to the families in New York City that were affected by this horrific event. I’m from New York. I grew up there. New York is incredibly resilient, and I know that they will bounce back.

    Look, terrorism shouldn’t be politicized. And it is troubling and pretty shameful that that’s the first place that this president went to in the aftermath of this horrific event.

    And, look, there is a stark difference. Let’s be very clear. In Las Vegas, you had a white man who killed 58 Americans and injured more than 600 people. The White House was silent on his motive. They were silent about him.

    And they took a page out of a playbook of NRA, and didn’t want to talk about how to move forward with policy, how to prevent these types of mass shootings.

    And last night, with the eight people dead and 11 people injured, it was — he couldn’t wait. He ran to Twitter and started tweeting about immigration policy. And then, after that, he went and attacked a New York senator who was busy trying to figure out how he’s going to help out his constituents and help out the responders in New York City, and that’s what he decided to do.

    And there is also this type of — kind of thing that he continues to do, which is, like he did with the San Juan mayor, which is attack local officials who are trying to do the best that they can with what’s happening in — with their constituency in their city and their state.

  • John Yang:

    Chris, I want to pick up on that point about going after Chuck Schumer. Yes, he did introduce the legislation when he was in the House that led to the diversity visa — diversity visa lottery.

    But he also tried to get rid of it in the Gang of Eight, the immigration overhaul. That died — it passed the Senate, but died in the House, the Republican House. Is that — I think a lot of people were taken by that, by immediately making — trying to make Schumer the culprit in this.

  • Chris Buskirk:

    Yes, well, look, I say this, and I say this for both sides of the aisle. Let’s let politics be political.

    And when we have something that requires a policy response, I say, fine, let’s have at it. And let’s have that debate, because Americans’ lives on the line.

    When it comes to Chuck Schumer specifically in this case, I think the good news for Senator Schumer is, he’s going to get another bite at the apple. If he really wants to repeal the diversity lottery program that he was in part responsible for — he sponsored it in the House — he’s going to get another chance to do that.

    And he should sponsor a clean bill, just an up-or-down bill, nothing attached to it, that repeals that, if that’s what he’s serious about.

  • Karine Jean-pierre:

    The problem is not Senator Chuck Schumer. The problem is the president of the United States, when, at times like these, past presidents, both Democrats and both Republicans, have unified this country and brought people together in these times.

    And he just refuses to do that. He refuses to grow into the office of the presidency. He wants to divide and just continue to govern for a very small part of this country.

  • John Yang:

    Chris, another big event this week, of course, the first charges by the — in the Mueller investigation on Monday.

    We’re now seeing reports that the president is being advised by some advisers to get a little tougher in this, to be a little more combative, taking on Mueller, maybe even talk about trying to cut off the funding for the investigation.

    Do you think that would be a good idea?

  • Chris Buskirk:

    Yes, I don’t know if it would be a good idea to cut off the funding for the investigation. That’s a — that’s a purely political question. It’s a complicated one.

    What I will say is that I think a lot of attention needs to be paid to Robert Mueller and to Rod Rosenstein, for that matter, too. These are two people who I think, the more we dig into their records, particularly when you look at something like Uranium One, they’re deeply compromised.

    And I think it bears keeping the spotlight on them as well. I mean, these indictments over the weekend, after all the ink that’s been spilled, all the hyperventilating about Russian collusion, the only thing that Robert Mueller can come up with is an almost-15-year-old tax fraud case?

    It just — it beggars belief that this is what he’s doing, and you wonder — you have to wonder why.

  • Karine Jean-pierre:

    I think this is just the beginning of Robert Mueller’s investigation. We have a long ways to go.

    Look, I think Donald Trump has made this really clear as to what he thinks about this investigation. He thinks it’s a hoax. This is what he’s told the American people. And we should really listen to him and believe him when he says that, because, as we saw with FBI — former FBI Director Comey, he’s not afraid to obstruct.

    He’s not afraid to fire — to fire people. So I think we have to be really mindful. We can’t — I think Congress needs to really make sure that they protect Mueller, they protect his budget, they protect the investigation, because if Donald Trump does indeed fire Mueller, we will be in a constitutional crisis.

  • John Yang:

    You know, Chris, I always sort of turn to you for — you have got a very good feel for the president’s base.

    He called The New York Times this afternoon to tell them that he’s really not angry over this, over this Russia investigation, over the indictments. Does his base want him to be angrier about this and to fight back on this?

  • Chris Buskirk:

    I think — I don’t know about angry. I think that’s the wrong word.

    I think that the base looks at the Mueller investigation and says, this is not about — this is not about Donald Trump, per se. He is, of course, talked about a lot with regard to the Mueller investigation. This is basically about what we found out is a Clinton campaign/DNC dirty trick cooked up last week, right?

    They paid for the Fusion GPS dossier. And this is something that has now been turned into a cooked-up scandal. It’s a Beltway scandal that is trying to overturn the results of the election. And so do people who support the president want him to be angry? No, but maybe indignant is a better word, is to say, why are we allowing this to go on?

    We had the election. We know that this is really something that was cooked up during the campaign to try and win the election. That didn’t work. And so now it’s being used as a way to try and undermine the president and to prevent him from governing after the election.

    People don’t like that. And I do think people want that story to be told.

  • John Yang:

    Quickly.

  • Karine Jean-pierre:

    Yes. Well, there’s a larger part of the population that wants to know exactly what happened.

    We have a foreign government that compromised — potentially compromised our election, and that’s the cornerstone of our democracy.

  • John Yang:

    Karine, that has got to be the last word.

    Karine Jean-Pierre, Chris Buskirk, thanks so much for joining us.

  • Chris Buskirk:

    Thanks, John.

     

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