CNN's Cuomo and Steve King Debate Guns, Gays & PC in Orlando Terror Case

As Iowa Republican Rep. Steve King appeared as a guest on Tuesday's New Day to discuss the Orlando night club terror attack, CNN host Chris Cuomo pressed him over the issue of gun laws and also over whether Republicans should be making a point of specifying that it was a gay club that was targeted when speaking of the attack.

The two also got into a debate over whether political correctness has made it more difficult to head off Islamic terrorism by pressuring people into keeping silent about suspicions toward Muslim acquaintances.

After Rep. King complained about the left pressing for more gun control in the aftermath of the Orlando attack, Cuomo brought up the issue of whether past investigations by the FBI of the shooter should have resulted in him being flagged if he tried to purchase a gun:

Well, I think it's actually a different issue this time, so let's skip to that right now. Do you think that the FBI, after having contact with this Orlando murderer that they had, should have been able to flag his gun application and talk to him?

After the GOP congressman expressed reservations about indefinitely scrutinizing citizens who wish to purchase guns even after investigations against them have been closed for years, Cuomo followed up:

Well, that would be the discussion, though, because -- especially, Congressman -- after what we just saw here in Orlando, that the FBI knew who this guy was, they weren't able to make the case, he then went out and got a gun, the FBI did not have the authority to even talk to him, and now this. You don't see that as a reasonable abridgement of Second Amendment rights in furtherance of investigative power for the FBI, even after Orlando?

After the two got into a back and forth over whether political correctness was putting pressure on people not to report suspicions about Muslim to authorities, Cuomo then wondered if Rep. King was more concerned about political correctness than about the shooter's ability to access guns:

So you're worried about the political correctness and that abridging our ability to stay safe, but you are not worried about the FBI having its hand tied and not being able to look at a gun application of a man that they had two different sets of interactions with because you want to err on the side of ensuring his Second Amendment right? Do I have it correct?

Cuomo and King then got into a debate about whether the FBI had the power to have the gunman's gun applications flagged for greater scrutiny as the GOP congressman recalled that, if the FBI had not declared their investigations of him closed, they did have the ability to flag gun applications from him to their attention:

REP. STEVE KING (R-IA): I would say that I think the FBI would have had the authority -- the ability to go look at that application if they wanted to put a marker onto his file to do that, but they concluded the investigation-

CHRIS CUOMO: They did not have that ability.

REP. KING: -because they didn't see enough. Not by an automatic blanket ability-

CUOMO: The case was closed. They-

REP. KING: -but they could have flagged his file and continued the investigation. Then they would have had that ability.

And, although CNN has reported on the possibility that the killer was himself gay and might have had a personal grievance that led him to target that particular bar, Cuomo pivoted to fretting over whether Republicans are giving enough acknowledgement to the fact that it was a gay bar specifically that was targeted in the attack:

Right, but they closed the case. The point is about how they are able to deal with people once they've had interaction with. One last thing for you, Congressman, there is concern that many people when discussing what happened here in Orlando aren't pointing out that this was gays being targeted, that this was a gay club where this happened, that this guy had a problem with gays, that that's why this is a hate crime -- whether it's terror and a hate crime, we'll see from an investigator's point of view -- but do you believe that it's important to say, "Gays were targeted here, and that matters"?

Below is a transcript of the relevant portion of the Wednesday, June 15, New Day on CNN:

CHRIS CUOMO: The politics of terror in the midst of no sign of action in the wake of Orlando of any kind on any issue. So let's test the implications of what's going on here. GOP leaders, they're having to deal with what Trump said about the President and about this situation. Let's discuss with Republican Congressman Steve King of Iowa. Congressman, good to see you. I'm sorry it's in such a terrible time that the country is experiencing, but it matters.

And I'm hearing from a lot of people in your party -- higher-ups as well -- "Stop saying 'we,'" they keep saying, "say 'Trump,' don't say 'we,' we don't own everything that he says, whether it's the President being sympathetic toward Islamic terror, or most of what he's saying, don't say 'we.'" Are you in that camp or do you believe that Donald Trump represents your ideas and you're step for step with him? [REP. STEVE KING (R-IA)]

CUOMO: Well, I think it's actually a different issue this time, so let's skip to that right now. Do you think that the FBI, after having contact with this Orlando murderer that they had, should have been able to flag his gun application and talk to him?

REP. STEVE KING (R-IA): You know, I don't think I can say for certain on that except that they did an investigation, they interviewed him two or three times, that they decided to close the investigation. They didn't have enough to move forward with any kind of prosecution. And so, at that point, they concluded it wasn't worth any longer to monitor him. And so, at that point, where would you then draw the line? Would you say that, if, 15 years from now, if that individual had been interviewed by the FBI, that he couldn't buy a gun without setting off alarm bells? I don't know the real technical answer to that, so-

CUOMO: Well, that would be the discussion, though, because -- especially, Congressman -- after what we just saw here in Orlando, that the FBI knew who this guy was, they weren't able to make the case, he then went out and got a gun, the FBI did not have the authority to even talk to him, and now this. You don't see that as a reasonable abridgement of Second Amendment rights in furtherance of investigative power for the FBI, even after Orlando?

REP. KING: I'm willing to have the discussion, but I'm not willing to take the guns out of the hands of everybody who fits that category because we're denying them their right to defend themselves, too. I think also we need to expand our human intelligence. I think we need to take a look at his wife, and that investigation appears to be going on. What about the neighbors? What about the people that should have been watching this? They're intimidated by political correctness.

CUOMO: There's no question -- there's no -- well, I don't know that they're intimidated by political -- how do you make that argument about the neighbors and the people who knew this guy being effected by political correctness?

REP. KING: Well, I just, from the interviews that are out there. There are multiple interviews of people that saw him in the club. There are people at his employment that spoke up and they were more or less suppressed because they said that they were thinking that the criticism had to stop because they thought it was criticism because he was a Muslim. In fact, that's what the FBI's conclusion was, was that there really wasn't an unstable individual here, that it was the anti-Muslim prejudice that was causing him his trouble at work. So I'd charge that over to (inaudible) over-amplified PC.

CUOMO: Oh, no, I understand. I thought you were talking about -- I thought you were talking about the Orlando -- I thought you were talking about the Orlando specific situation. Now, as to the prior investigations in 2013 and '14, I haven't read or heard anything from our sources at the FBI or anything that they've put out that they thought that this was about PC. This was about what the guy said at work. People were worried about it, hearing him say that he was identified with all these different Muslim extremist groups, or that he was threatening different action. So they investigated but couldn't make the case. He then came up in a separate investigation a year later, but they couldn't make a case. So that was that. I don't know how PC enters into this.

REP. KING: Okay, well, Chris, let me just -- I'll put it this way. I've read a lot of the narratives on here -- maybe not all of them, but as many as I could get my hands on -- I've listened to a fair amount of briefings on this, and the picture that emerges in case after case -- this one, in particular, but also San Bernardino -- we had an opportunity to engage, and we were suppressed because of the political correctness. It goes clear back to Major Hassan at Fort Hood. So I think our entire society has got to shift this thing around. I think that's something Donald Trump has got this right, that if we are suppressed with political correctness to the point that we don't see something and say something out of fear of being criticized of being some kind of bigot, then America is not as safe as if we had freedom of speech and freedom of conscience.

CUOMO: So you're worried about the political correctness and that abridging our ability to stay safe, but you are not worried about the FBI having its hand tied and not being able to look at a gun application of a man that they had two different sets of interactions with because you want to err on the side of ensuring his Second Amendment right? Do I have it correct?

REP. KING: I would say that I think the FBI would have had the authority -- the ability to go look at that application if they wanted to put a marker onto his file to do that, but they concluded the investigation-

CUOMO: They did not have that ability.

REP. KING: -because they didn't see enough. Not by an automatic blanket ability-

CUOMO: The case was closed. They-

REP. KING: -but they could have flagged his file and continued the investigation. Then they would have had that ability.

CUOMO: Right, but they closed the case. The point is about how they are able to deal with people once they've had interaction with. One last thing for you, Congressman, there is concern that many people when discussing what happened here in Orlando aren't pointing out that this was gays being targeted, that this was a gay club where this happened, that this guy had a problem with gays, that that's why this is a hate crime -- whether it's terror and a hate crime, we'll see from an investigator's point of view -- but do you believe that it's important to say, "Gays were targeted here, and that matters"?

REP. KING: I think it's clear that gays were targeted in Orlando, it does matter, and it's tragic that they were targeted because of their sexual orientation. I talked with hundreds of conservatives over on this side of the aisle. No one brings up the fact in any derogatory way or even mentions it, to that extent. I mean, it's tragic, and we're sorry about that, and they are in our prayers as if they were the Christians that were slaughtered in Charleston, South Carolina, some time back, equal standing with God, Chris.

NBDaily 2016 Presidential Orlando Night Club Terror Attack Guns Conservatives & Republicans Religion Islam CNN New Day Video Steve King Chris Cuomo Donald Trump


Sponsored Links