Halperin Invites Democratic Senator to List How Trump Immigration Order ‘Makes America Less Safe’

On Monday morning, Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy was on Morning Joe to discuss President Trump’s executive order concerning the travel ban targeting seven Middle Eastern nations. Each question the Connecticut Democrat was asked teed him up to bash the immigration policy, but none more provoking than a question from political analyst Mark Halpern.

Halpern lobbed this softball: "A lot of people think what the President did makes the country less safe. Could you just tick off the ways you think this long-term/short-term makes America less safe, rather than more safe?” Murphy seized the opportunity to denounce the policy: “So I think this is the most important argument for us to be making.” He continued, “This, ultimately, is going to get Americans killed, I believe it.”

After the liberal lawmaker answered Halpern, historian Jon Meacham continued with another leading question. This concerned how the U.S. should change the vetting process, different from the conditions President Trump and his cabinet ordered: “Senator, do you see any merit in the President's action? What do you believe should be the security screening? What should be the vetting for immigrants coming in?” Murphy replied with, “I would argue that we should go towards a discussion about a pathway in which there is absolutely no screening.”

The Senator continued to answer the question, while sneaking in an argument for gun control as well: “Maybe let's just make sure that if folks get to this country and we suspect them of having connections to terrorism, that they shouldn't be able to get an assault weapon. That’s a huge liability in our law today. I think those would be two important steps that would make us more safe rather than this EO, which makes us less safe.”

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David Ignatius, editor of the Washington Post, also joined in, asking Murphy about the damage President Trump was causing with this executive order: “Senator Murphy, you travel a lot overseas. I've traveled occasionally with you. What are you hearing from our key allies as they look at this? And what kind of damage do you think this is doing to us in terms of those relationships?” Murphy was quick to blame the U.S. for the turmoil in the Middle East: “I just think that the moral catastrophe of bombing countries, creating a humanitarian disaster, and then locking them inside those countries, is something that not only weakens us as a country from a standpoint of consciousness, but it also hurts our credibility.”

Here is the full transcript of the January 30th exchange:

6:30 AM Segment
[6:41:01 - 6:52:48]

RUDY GULIANNI: When he first announced it, he said Muslim ban. He called me up, he said put a commission together, show me the right way to do it legally. I put a commission together and what we did was we focused on, instead of religion, danger. The areas of the world that create danger for us, which is a factual basis, not a religious basis. Perfectly legal, perfectly sensible, and that ‘s what the ban is based on. It's not based on religion.

MIKA BRZEZINSKI:  That was real Rudy.

JOE SCARBOROUGH:  Based on fact.

MIKA BRZEZINSKI: That was not a --

JOE SCARBOROUGH:  So -- I thought what John Turley said was hilarious. That – that after he got out there and then after the president was talking about, we’re focusing on Christians, because if you want to say we’re focusing on minorities in a country–

JULIE PACE: That's one thing.

JOE SCARBOROUGH: That, and in fact, that’s why you have -- that's why we have accepted refugees into the country because usually they are--

JULIE PACE: Right.

SCARBOROUGH: Of a minority status in a country but when you then signal out we’re gonna give preferential treatment to Christians– Jonathon Turley may be right this may all be upheld. I suspect there will be a judge somewhere up and down the line before they get to the supreme court that will see that preference for Christians and call that a religious test --

PACE: I think of all the things that happened over the couple of days when this was rolling out that probably should’ve gotten more attention, it was the President's own words, where he said specifically in this interview with David Brody, we are going to give preference to Christians. It’s hard to read that in any other way than a religious test for refugees.

SCARBOROUGH: And again, I think that this entire process -- by the way, it's interesting that it came after one of his best performances at the DOD, introducing General Mattis, reading from– reading from the prompter and actually delivering a strong message, not what he did in the CIA. But then he signed that and I get the sense, especially when you're talking about we’re gonna give preference for Christians, that was a political exercise. I don't think anybody anticipated all of this coming from it and that’s something that the White House better learn quickly and people, not to mention his name again, Steven Miller, better learn very quickly that if you're going to have the President of the United States

BRZEZINSKI: But don’t say his name again

SCARBOROUGH: Sign something, you may better check it out with the other agenc– I know you're almost 33–

BRZEZINSKI: Now stop...

SCARBOROUGH: But you may want to actually check it out with the other agencies and lawyers who’ve been doing this for a long time. You may want to check with people that run other agencies too. Okay? And by the time you're 35, maybe you'll know how Washington and the White House really works, if you're still around. I hope you're not, because this weekend was a disgrace and it's all on your shoulders. Who is up Mika?

BRZEZINSKI: Up next, Senator Chris Murphy says President Trump's policy is, quote, going to get Americans killed. The Connecticut Democrat joins the table next on "Morning Joe."

BRZEZINSKI: 48 past the hour. Joining us now from Washington, member of the Foreign Relations Committee, Democratic Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut. Good to have you on board this morning.

SENATOR CHRIS MURPHY: Good morning guys.

SCARBOROUGH: Good to see you, senator. What is— what’s the next move for Democrats in pushing back on this order?

BRZEZINSKI: What’s the next effective move?

SENATOR CHRIS MURPHY: Yeah, well, we’re gonna  introduce legislation this afternoon that’s gonna give the congress and Republicans some options to repeal this executive order. You've had enough Republicans go on the record, who have reservations in the United States senate to be able to get to 60. That doesn't mean the house will vote for it, it doesn't mean you'll get a Presidential signature, but you might get enough Republicans joining us to make this even more uncomfortable for the President. Frankly, I think our effort is still to support the legal option that is probably the fastest way to get this overturned but we’re gonna put in legislation this week that’ll make it clear that that 1965 law that says you can't discriminate based on religion or national origin, prevails over any Presidential discretion that Trump is using.        

SCARBOROUGH: We have Mark Halpern in New York and he has a question for you right now.

MARK HALPERN: Senator, I think David Ignatius suggested before that a lot of people think what the President did makes the country less safe. Could you just tick off the ways you think this long-term/short-term makes America less safe than more safe?

SENATOR CHRIS MURPHY: So I think this is the most important argument for us to be making because, right now, we have ISIS on its heels and their rational for existence is based on a belief that they are going to control a territory in the Middle East that is no longer available to them as an argument. But, secondarily that there is a war between Muslim and Christian peoples, between East and West, and we have now handed them a path to rebirth. This is going to be all over the dark web recruiting both international terrorists and lone wolfs here at home. And then in Iran specifically, a country that is, right now, tilting between hard liners and moderates, who want to engage with the West. This is a huge win for hard liners. This makes Rouhani's job even more difficult and if you're really worried about a conflagration between the United States and Iran, this makes it much more likely. So this, ultimately, is going to get Americans killed, I believe it. And we can make the moral argument, I think that’s important, but the national security argument probably should lead here.

SCARBOROUGH: Jon Meachum is in Nashville reading up on the French and Indian war and he would like to ask you an obscure question that no one other than you perhaps will understand, Mr. Meachum.

JON MEACHUM: Well I think, you know, Connecticut's founding was very important–

SCARBOROUGH: Yeah. Just keep going!

JON MEACHUM:  Senator, do you see any merit in the President's action? What do you believe should be the security screening? What should be the vetting for immigrants coming in?

MURPHY: Well, listen. It's important to remember that no matter how many times he referenced 9/11, the four countries that were of origin for the 9/11 attack, none of them are on this list. And I would argue that we should go towards a discussion about a pathway in which there is absolutely no screening. Right now, people can come to the United States from Europe through the Visa waiver program. Well we know they have extremist cells, if they are citizens in Europe without almost any security vet. And the Europeans have been miserable at sharing information with each other about threats inside that continent. So I would go towards -- towards a sort of European vent in looking at screening and the maybe let's just make sure that if folks get to this country and we suspect them of having connections to terrorism, that they shouldn't be able to get an assault weapon. That’s a huge liability in our law today. I think those would be two important steps that would make us more safe rather than this EO, which makes us less safe.

SCARBOROUGH: David Ignatius. 

DAVID IGNATIUS: Senator Murphy, you travel a lot overseas. I've traveled occasionally with you. What are you hearing from our key allies as they look at this? And what kind of damage do you think this is doing to us in terms of those relationships?

MURPHY: So, ultimately, there’s no problem in the Middle East that could be solved by the United States alone. It's got to be a Muslim face and Sunni problems need to be solved by Sunni people. This makes it almost impossible to engage with a lot of our allies in the region. The last time I was there, David, you know, our allies told us that we are not a partner in fighting ISIS if we are not a partner in trying to deal with the flow of displaced peoples outside of those countries. And I just think that the moral catastrophe of bombing countries, creating a humanitarian disaster, and then locking them inside those countries, is something that not only weakens us as a country from a standpoint of consciousness, but it also hurts our credibility.

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