In an extremely contentious interview Thursday night, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) told CNN anchor Chris Cuomo he is “irresponsible” for directly saying the Florida lawmaker uses victims of illegal immigrant murders for political gain.
Earlier this week, Gaetz drew national headlines when he attempted to kick a Parkland massacre victim’s father out of a House Judiciary Committee hearing, claiming Manuel Oliver interrupted him multiple times. Gaetz argued during that hearing that a background-check bill wouldn’t prevent gun violence, but President Trump’s desired wall at the U.S.-Mexico border would.
“If we cared about safer streets, we’d build the wall and secure the border,” the Republican congressman declared.
On Thursday evening, Cuomo confronted Gaetz over bringing up the wall in a hearing about gun violence, with the lawmaker contending that “one out of every five people that the federal government charges with murder is an illegal alien”—a claim that seemed to conflate murder charges with overall criminal charges. He also maintained that with a border wall, “fewer violent illegal aliens” will come to America, and thus, less shooting victims.
Eventually, the Cuomo Prime Time host told the congressman that he was only talking about a tiny slice of the problem and was ignoring the question of preventing mass shootings. Furthermore, he pressed Gaetz to mention one undocumented immigrant who committed a mass shooting, and noted that by focusing solely on murders committed by immigrants, “you're attacking a little slice of the problem.”
The congressman deflected, however, responding that Cuomo seemed to think “only the mass shootings matter.” He then reminded the CNN host that he already mentioned three shootings committed by immigrants.
“They’re an article of convenience for you now,” Cuomo replied.
A red-faced Gaetz immediately blew up, angrily asking the anchor if he thought Republicans were “that craven” to use murders committed by undocumented immigrants for political opportunism.
“Absolutely,” Cuomo flatly answered. “Yes.”
“That is so irresponsible,” the Florida Republican shouted back.
Cuomo declared that it was “irresponsible of the people doing it” as they’ve put a “premium on certain lives and not others.” Gaetz replied that the host’s argument was akin to saying Democrats want more school shootings so they can pass gun control.
“That is what you say all the time,” Cuomo retorted. “The right says that all the time.”