CNN host Jim Sciutto on Tuesday cornered Marc Lotter after the Trump campaign adviser falsely accused the cable network of deceptively editing a clip to show President Trump laughing off a rallygoer shouting that undocumented immigrants should be shot.
Lotter, the Trump re-election campaign’s director of strategic communications, appeared on CNN Newsroom to discuss the president’s response to the mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton. Pointing to the El Paso shooter’s manifesto describing immigration as an “invasion,” Sciutto asked Lotter why the Trump campaign engages in similar rhetoric.
“I think it’s important to call the problem we have with immigration for what it is and the president has been doing so in fighting the battle against illegal immigration,” the Trump adviser said. “People by the hundreds of thousands coming into our country illegally with very little that we can do to get them out of the country. The president is in favor of legal immigration, he has said that very often and repeatedly. But when it comes to illegal immigration we have to be able to control our borders.”
The CNN host then pressed Lotter on the president speaking about migrants in dehumanizing terms, bringing up a Florida rally from May in which Trump joked and brushed off an audience member who yelled “shoot them” when he wondered aloud how the U.S. could stem illegal immigration.
“I’ll play the clip again for you, Marc,” Sciutto said as Lotter began arguing with him. “He laughed when someone in the crowd—he laughed.”
“Play the whole clip,” Lotter retorted. “Not just the edited clip.”
Sciutto, meanwhile, told the Trump flack that it wasn’t a “falsely edited clip” and he would have his production team call it up while they were on air, adding that it will show Trump laughing and making an offhand comment to his supporter’s violent suggestion.
Moments later, the CNN host circled back to the “shoot them” remarks, playing the clip for Lotter while asking him to respond whether the president’s rhetoric helps or hurts.
“The President of the United States there on a bully pulpit laughing when the crowd shouts out ‘shoot them,’” the CNN host declared. “Is that an appropriate response from a sitting president?”
Lotter, however, claimed that the president, at that time, acknowledged that “we’re not a country that uses weapons against people who are coming across our border illegally” and that Trump dismissed “that comment being shouted out by that person.”
“He laughed—the president laughed,” Sciutto incredulously responded.
“He was dismissive of it,” Lotter shot back, prompting Sciutto to note again that Trump laughed while again asking the campaign aide if such actions are becoming of a president.
“He was very dismissive of it,” Lotter repeated.
“He laughed at it,” a frustrated Sciutto reiterated before moving on.