Appearing on CNN’s Erin Burnett OutFront “for her first national primetime interview,” Democratic Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib (MI) faced questions Tuesday from the eponymous host about her now-infamous “mother****er” comment about impeaching President Trump, except many of them were sympathetic to Tlaib’s case.
Burnett began by airing a clip of likely 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Kamala Harris defending Tlaib and Tlaib’s remark before first asking her: “I mean, it's been nearly a week since you made those remarks. Are you surprised it is still being talked about so much?”
Tlaib conceded that her “passion” did “get the best of me at that moment” and became “a distraction,” but reiterated that she’ll always be “very unapologetically me.”
Burnett then circled back by correctly pointing out that plenty of Democrats, Republicans, men and women have criticized Tlaib in the week since her remarks. After a montage showing a few of them, Burnett fretted:
You know, I guess what I'm trying to understand and I know it’s got to be hard, right, because you were saying you were caught up in the moment. But do you feel the right word to say is I'm sorry, I wish I hadn't said it. I don't like the guy. I'm sorry or is it fair to say you don't feel comfortable going that far?
This teed up Tlaib to respond (before pivoting to talking points about the government shutdown):
No. I mean, what I want to do is not allow women like myself that have every right to be angry and upset and mad and — to curse, that somehow they're not allowed to do it in some sort of public forum. I can tell you this. What I completely very much don't like is that it did become a distraction. For me, it might have been, you know, in this heat of the moment or whatever, but I've got to tell you, right now we're in the middle of a shutdown[.]
Burnett later pivoted to the shutdown and whether she opposes the idea of a wall on our southern border (yes) and supports Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s idea to soak the rich (also yes), Burnett played the President:
I do want to talk to you about the shutdown, but I do think people — you know, it's an important question, right, when you talk about what's happened with discourse in this country. And what we think about our offices that represent us as American citizens, right...Separate from the person, do you agree? Do you think that there's a point there about the office? Not the person.
Like a good Democrat, Tlaib ruled that “[t]he only person disgracing the Office of the President is the President of the United States currently and that's Donald Trump.”
To see the relevant transcript from CNN’s Erin Burnett OutFront on January 8, click “expand.”
CNN’s Erin Burnett OutFront
January 8, 2019
7:27 p.m. Eastern
ERIN BURNETT: New tonight, Democratic Senator and rumored 2020 candidate Kamala Harris defending freshman congresswoman Rashida Tlaib for using an expletive to describe President Trump while vowing to impeach him. Here's Senator Harris.
DEMOCRATIC SENATOR KAMALA HARRIS (CA): Honestly, the — the — my candid response is that she is not the first nor will she be the last elected person to curse in public. I mean — now, you know — and so that's — that's my response.
BURNETT: To applause and here's exactly what Congresswoman Tlaib said just hours after being sworn in.
DEMOCRATIC CONGRESSWOMAN RASHIDA TLAIB (MI): When your son look at you, and says: “Mama, look, you won, bullies don't win.” And I said: “Baby, they don't because we are going to go in there and impeach the [BLEEP].”
BURNETT: OutFront now for her first national primetime interview, the Democratic Congresswoman from Michigan, Rashida Tlaib. And Congresswoman, thank you for being with me. I know you have votes. I mean, it's been nearly a week since you made those remarks. Are you surprised it is still being talked about so much?
TLAIB: Very much so. I can tell you, you know, I'm very unapologetically me and I know people back home that I've represented for six years in the state legislature in Michigan are kind of used to my realness, used to this passion and — that I have and I know, for many people, it did — it did get the best of me at that moment and for many people, it might have been very much a distraction and that's what I'm really wanting to get this hump over it is to start talking about the Trump shutdown and how critically important it is for us to get our government back up and running because of the huge human impact and the toll that it's taken on our residents back home.
BURNETT: So when — you know, when other Democrats have come out, you know, they've obviously — you know, they've criticized you for this. It's not just been Republicans and it certainly hasn't been men. You know that, right? Here's a few of them. Alyssa Slotkin, your fellow new congresswoman from your state spoke out yesterday. Here's a few.
BURNETT: You know, Brad Sherman there at the end, congresswoman, is obviously — he's introduced articles of impeachment, right, so he agrees completely with your sentiment. You know, I guess what I'm trying to understand and I know it’s got to be hard, right, because you were saying you were caught up in the moment.
BURNETT: But do you feel the right word to say is I'm sorry, I wish I hadn't said it. I don't like the guy. I'm sorry or is it fair to say you don't feel comfortable going that far?
TLAIB: No. I mean, what I want to do is not allow women like myself that have every right to be angry and upset and mad and — to curse, that somehow they're not allowed to do it in some sort of public forum. I can tell you this. What I completely very much don't like is that it did become a distraction. For me, it might have been, you know, in this heat of the moment or whatever, but I've got to tell you, right now we're in the middle of a shutdown and I'm getting interviewed to talk about cursing instead talking the veterans I just left back home and then to continue on to know that we passed to open up government and it's sitting in the Senate right now. We don't need the President of the United States to sign these bills. You know why? Because within ten days they become effective and then we can get our government back up and functioning. I don't understand why we're not able to do that and then go back to the negotiation table if you really do care about the American people, then let's get our government back up and running. And, you know, our focus is so much on this versus the fact that, right now, I have residents that have nowhere to turn to. Food assistance. I mean, think about SNAP and the food assistance. People are literally waiting for it to be put on their card so that they can go and get milk and eggs for their kids.
BURNETT: I do want to talk to you about the shutdown, but I do think people — you know, it's an important question, right, when you talk about what's happened with discourse in this country.
TLAIB: That's right.
BURNETT: And what we think about our offices that represent us as American citizens, right? I mean, look, the President came out. He's talked about you specifically. I wanted to give you a chance to respond. Here is President Trump.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: I thought her comments were disgraceful. I think she dishonored herself and I think she dishonored her family. Using language like that, I thought it was highly disrespectful to the united States of America.
BURNETT: Separate from the person, do you agree? Do you think that there's a point there about the office? Not the person.
TLAIB: The only person disgracing the Office of the President is the President of the United States currently and that's Donald Trump. I'm not going to, you know, continue to discuss the fact that — continue on to — for him to say what he said and continue to do the exact same thing that he's criticizing me for. He has to be putting the American people first. He has to understand that the culture and this kind of dissent that he has for me is something that is felt across this country. I am not the only one that is this angry and this upset and as a person, again a woman of color, as a person that is newly elected here, the first thing I have to vote on and I did was to get the government back up and running and now he continues to delay that and continues to hurt our families.
BURNETT: And he's going to be talking about that tonight, right? He's going to be addressing the nation in a couple of hours, congresswoman, on why he says there's a crisis on the border, why the government shutdown should not end until he gets the funding for his wall. Obviously, you're opposed to that wall. Your Democratic colleague John Sarbanes came on the show. He's opposed to a wall, but he's open to fencing. That the word choice might matter here. I want to play it for you.
BURNETT: Does the word matter to you? Would you vote for a fence but not a wall, congresswoman?
TLAIB: Look, actions matter more than words and I can tell you, we have to be a humane country. This is not about a wall, Erin, and we all know it. We have to stop talking about the fact that this is a wall. He could have done it when they had the majority in both the Senate and the House. We passed — what we passed out of the House of Representatives is exactly what McConnell and all of his colleagues voted for before the new members came into the House of Representatives, before the Democrats got back into the majority. What is he waiting for? We didn't even screen it. We didn’t even put anything in there that many of us campaigned on. We basically sent back exactly what they passed literally weeks before we got into – into office until we got sworn in and so I'm really frustrated with the fact that we keep trying to move this about a wall when we all know it's not about a wall.
BURNETT: There's also, obviously, talk out in your party with the big change that's happened in the House about taxation. Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has floated out taxing the wealthiest up to 70 percent. What she referred to as “the tippy tops.” Would you support that?
TLAIB: Look, I know I have the third poorest congressional district in the country and we need to get to a point where we all pay our fair share. Too many families are hungry. Too many families are suffering because inequality in education funding. All of that from public education to a number of issues that I think are really important to our country, but we can take care of that later. We need to focus on the shutdown.
BURNETT: Alright, well, I appreciate your time. Congresswoman Tlaib, thank you so much.
TLAIB: Thank you so much.