During Thursday's edition of New Day, Never Trumper and CNN political commentator Ana Navarro expressed her disdain for President Trump's “dehumanizing” comments referring to MS-13 gang members as “animals.” She apparently expected the American public to have a short memory, as Navarro herself had referred to then-candidate Trump as an “animal” in 2016.
While meeting with California officials opposed to the state’s politically correct “sanctuary” policy, one sherriff brought up the scourge of MS-13, a brutal El Salvadorian street gang: “Thank you. There could be an MS-13 member I know about, if they don’t reach a certain threshold, I cannot tell ICE about them.”
Trump then responded: “We have people coming into the country, trying to come in – we’re stopping a lot of them. But we’re taking people out of the country. You wouldn’t believe how bad these people are. These aren’t people. These are animals.”
CNN played this particular clip, failing to include the footage of the Sherriff’s comment about MS-13 that prefaced his statement. Co-host Chris Cuomo asked Navarro to weigh in: “The defense is that he was following up on a statement of a sheriff saying that this is MS-13. He was just talking about MS-13. Good enough?”
Not surprisingly, Navarro disapproved of the White House’s defense:
No, not good enough. Not good enough from a president who has called countries in Central America, called countries like Haiti shitholes; not good enough from a president who has talked about Haitians having AIDS; not good enough from a president who has said that people in Africa live in huts and why would they come here? That's why he doesn't get the benefit of the doubt. And not good enough when you are seeing the level of division and hostility that you are seeing out there in America.
Navarro then brought up a “complete bigoted racist in Midtown Manhattan” who yelled racial slurs at two women speaking Spanish to each other, making sure to point out that the man who made those comments was a big Trump supporter: “I'm not saying all Trump supporters are like this. I'm not saying all Trump supporters are deplorable. But I am saying that the President of the United States has got to measure his words and be more careful about what he says.”
Navarro then went way off the deep end as she once again tried to make perfectly clear her disapproval of the President’s decision to refer to MS-13 gang members as “animals”: “It is a very slippery slope when you start dehumanizing people this way. It’s what the Nazis did. It’s what slave owners did. It’s not what Americans do.”
If that’s the case, then Navarro herself made some “slippery slope” comments back in 2016 when she suggested on Twitter that President Trump should drop out of not just the Presidential race but also the human race: “Should Donald Trump drop out of the race? Yes. He should drop out of the human race. He is an animal. Apologies to animals.”
During a separate rant, Navarro declared: “He’s not only unfit to be President, in my book, his lack of empathy, his lack of leadership, his lack of courage, he is unfit to be human.” Surely, that statement would qualify as “dehumanizing” to any unbiased observer. Yet Cuomo somehow neglected to call out Navarro for her double standards.
Navarro would have a lot more authority to call out President Trump for his “dehumanizing” comments if she had not made similar comments herself. If the media actually want to make the world a more civil place, they have a lot of soul searching to do before they can claim the high ground when lecturing the President and the rest of America how to treat other people.
CNN's New Day
CHRIS CUOMO: All right. No sanctimony, no preaching. It's just a simple piece of truth. We have to agree on what is fact, OK? So the President holds a meeting at the White House yesterday. It's an hour-long freestyle, basically, on illegal immigration. And a lot of it needs to be examined. Let's start with this.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: We have to break up families. The Democrats gave us that law. It's a horrible thing, we have to break up families. The Democrats gave us that law, and they don't want to do anything about it. They'll leave it like that, because they don't want to make any changes. And now you're breaking up families because of the Democrats. It's terrible.
CUOMO: Now, to be honest, I don't know what he's talking about. This took some time to fact check. Now as far as we can tell -- I'll put it to the better minds here at CNN -- the claim is certainly false. Because what recent law designed by Democrats is intended to break up families? The Bush Administration did enact a law in 2008 that was well- intentioned. It was designed to protect Central American children from human trafficking, ensuring that every child who came that way, arriving at the border, would get a hearing. Now, what happened was you had so many kids, there became a backlog. Now what did you do? Well, you wound up splitting up the families because of just time and circumstances, not by intention, necessarily. All right. So as for intentionally splitting up families, well, the only legal guidance there is on that was publicly floated by Trump's own Attorney General. Listen.
JEFF SESSIONS: If you're smuggling a child, then we're going to prosecute you. And that child will be separated from you, probably, as required by law. If you don't want your child to be separated, then don't bring them across the border illegally. It's not our fault that somebody does that.
CUOMO: Now, why does this matter? It matters because the law isn't the end. It's about how it's enforced. Decisions on prosecution. And that changes with each administration. So look at Jeff Sessions about the new harshness. President Trump also made a claim about the border wall and how far along it is. Take a listen.
TRUMP: Now, we have started the wall. We're spending $1.6 billion between fixing and starting. You know, Melissa, what's been going on. We're getting it up. We have a lot of folks in California, they don't talk about it, but they want the wall up. And they're very happy. That's one of the reasons we started in California. But we've made a lot of progress on it.
CUOMO: Now, the Governor of California, Jerry Brown, says that's not true. But that could be politics. So what do we know? We know that there have been a few prototypes but that the new wall has not, in fact, been started. Of course, this is going to get to your definition of what "start" is. That $1.6 billion, that's a real number. That's the number he got out of the original 25 that the president asked for. Our accounting shows that it's gone towards shoring up the existing wall and fence. Trump showed off pictures -- remember? -- back in March. And quote, "The start of our southern border wall"? Now, that was just fabrication. That was old fencing repairs that was going on. The plans for what were originally drawn up in 2009. All right? So those are the facts. Now, some of this stuff could be debated. We should do that right now. Let's discuss all of it with CNN Political Commentator Ana Navarro and Rick Santorum, CNN senior political commentator. Good to have you both here. Rick, out of the box, I give you right of first reply. Anything I say there that you believe offends reason or truth?
RICK SANTORUM: I mean, the 2008 law you referred to was in fact passed by a Democratic Congress. Yes, it was signed by George Bush, but it was something back in 2007, 2008. The Democrats controlled Congress and pushed --
CUOMO: But doing the check had bipartisan support all the way down the road. So to call it a Democrat law, fugazi at best --
SANTORUM: All I would say is the Democrats controlled Congress, and that was their agenda item. You know, as you know, when a party controls the Congress, they move what they want to move. And they moved that bill. So you can argue, you know, that it's a little hyperbole to say just the Democrats, but it's not completely inaccurate to say that.
CUOMO: Not completely inaccurate. That's not really the standard, though. We know the Democrats didn't put us in this mess.
SANTORUM: Well, I mean --
CUOMO: This is about -- this is about enforcement. That's what it's about.
SANTORUM: I hear you.
CUOMO: It's about enforcement. So Ana, let's talk about that, why Jeff Sessions matters in this, why the homeland security chief, Nielsen, matters. They're making decision about how to enforce the law. The law exists. You can make choices. They're making choices. What do you make of those choices?
ANA NAVARRO: Look, and it happens with practically every law, where the department of jurisdiction has got a lot of leeway to determine how to regulate the law, how to execute the law, how to put it into actual practice. They've actually -- you know, they've obviously taken this -- this decision of splitting up families. This is not -- now, he's right. This is not the first time this happened. And there is a problem with minors coming to the border. And there is a part of this that is about deterrent. And I understand that. Because it's very difficult, and it's very dangerous for minors, for families to cross the border. There's a lot of abuses. There's a lot of rapes that happen. There's a lot of horrible things that happen. But what do we do with those families once they're split up? Look, I'm more concerned -- I'm a lot less concerned about the demagoguery in Donald Trump's meeting, about the wall that is not getting built and the money that he doesn't have about the law. That wasn't, you know, just a Democrat law that is being implemented by his family. I'm a lot more concerned that when he does things like call immigrants "animals." When we start dehumanizing people. He says he was talking about the White House says he was talking about MS-13.
CUOMO: Let's play the sound. Let's play the sound. Here's the sound.
TRUMP: We have people coming into the country, trying to come in -- we're stopping a lot of them. But we're taking people out of the country. You wouldn't believe how bad these people are. These aren't people. These are animals.
CUOMO: The defense is that he was following up on a statement of a sheriff saying that this is MS-13. He was just talking about MS-13. Good enough?
NAVARRO: No, not good enough. Not good enough from a president who has called countries in Central America, called countries like Haiti shitholes; not good enough from a president who has talked about Haitians having AIDS; not good enough from a president who has said that people in Africa live in huts and why would they come here? That's why he doesn't get the benefit of the doubt. And not good enough when you are seeing the level of division and hostility that you are seeing out there in America. Yesterday I saw a video of a complete bigoted racist in Midtown Manhattan, screaming racist expletives at two women who had worked there, who were Hispanic, who had been speaking Spanish to each other, I suspect the same way that your family spoke Italian to each other many times and that Rick's family spoke Italian to each other.
CUOMO: Still do.
NAVARRO: And still do. And you know, this is happening in America every day. He was a big Trump supporter. I'm not saying all Trump supporters are like this. I'm not saying all Trump supporters are deplorable. But I am saying that the President of the United States has got to measure his words and be more careful about what he says. And it is a very slippery slope when you start dehumanizing people this way. It's what the Nazis did. It's what slave owners did. It's not what Americans do.
CUOMO: Rick, she lost you with "Nazi." What's your defense?
SANTORUM: This is -- this is one of the reasons that a big chunk of the country just turns off the media when they start going after the President because they take something that is completely explainable and perfectly accurate within context of the President talking about people that they are deporting now -- and there's an emphasis, as there always has been -- on the criminal element as the priority to be deported. He had just heard from the sheriff talking about MS-13. And the president was commenting on that -- on those very individuals. And to say he doesn't get a pass because he has said some offensive things in the past, sorry, that just doesn't cut it. The President is allowed to comment on things and accurately reflect his mood and, I think, the mood of the people in that room, and the mood of millions of Americans that these are, in fact, really bad people who are, quote, "animals," who are doing horrific things within our country. And you know what? I understand that people sometimes -- that hyperbole can offend people, but it certainly connects with a lot of people, particularly those who are victimized.
CUOMO: But you're assuming that we are debating how people feel about MS- 13. Do we like that they're being called "animals" or not?
SANTORUM: That was the context in which the President made the comment.
CUOMO: Understood. However, why is he not getting the benefit of context by people like Ana? Because of what he said in the past, Rick. And here's the proof. If I were to list for you all the things he's said about immigrants, how many would you own yourself and say, "I agree with him about that"? That most of the people coming over from Mexico are drug dealers and the worst, and this and that --
NAVARRO: Criminals and rapists.
CUOMO: And Africans live in huts. And this is what I think about Haiti, what kind of hole it is. How many of those statements would you own and say, "I agree"?
SANTORUM: I think thePpresident is entitled to --
CUOMO: How many of those statements would you agree with?
SANTORUM: I don't think it's -- I don't think it's important, Chris.
CUOMO: It's, of course, important.
SANTORUM: What's important is to look at the context in which he said what he said.
CUOMO: Because it's the frame for analysis, Rick.
SANTORUM: -- disagree.
CUOMO: Of course he has the right to say it. But that's a specious argument. It's not about his First Amendment right. Not trying to censor him.
SANTORUM: It think it's accurate for him to say it. I don’t think it's a -- it's not just the right to say it. It's that it's true.
CUOMO: You think that -- so you think that illegal immigrants, by and large, are bad people who are coming here to do bad things?
SANTORUM: That's not what the President said today.
CUOMO: Not in this context, giving him the benefit of it. Although he certainly wasn't careful with what he said. Right? Usually, a Rick Santorum would say, "I'm not saying everybody. I'm saying these MS-13 types." He doesn't make that kind of careful distinction. Why not?
SANTORUM: He talked about people -- he talked about people that are being deported today. And as we know, the priority of this administration and previous administrations is to deport dangerous criminals.
NAVARRO: That's actually not true.
CUOMO: Well, then why are they splitting up all these families that aren't MS-13?
NAVARRO: We have seen a ton of people who are American in every way but one get deported by this administration. We have seen doctors get deported. We have seen DACA kids get deported. We have seen veterans get deported by this administration. So it's not just the MS-13.
SANTORUM: And the previous -- and previous administrations.
NAVARRO: No, but we're talking about this one. Can we stick to maybe the last 16 months, just for argument's sake?
CUOMO: And also you didn't hear the Obama administration make these kinds of arguments about why they're getting rid of them. I think this is the last point and Rick, you can have it. You can look at the numbers and see that people have been getting thrown out of this country at a pretty decent rate for Obama's administration and now. I know they say the numbers are ticking up. We have to understand why they're ticking up right now. It could just be seasonal need of labor. We've got to look at it. But the tone has changed. And you are defending the tone. You say a lot of people share this. I'm not talking about MS-13. Who's going to defend MS-13? Nobody wants MS-13 in the country. But the tone has shifted about what it means about you if you are an illegal immigrant. I want to hear you say yes, I think those people are bad people, too. The president's right. Say it.
SANTORUM: I think people who break the law are not necessarily bad people but they do bad things, and breaking the law and entering this country is a bad thing. It is a crime and it is not something that I'm going to give the benefit of the doubt to people. That -- there is -- there are millions and millions of people waiting all over the world to come into this country who are following the rules and making sacrifices. And when people break the law to shortcut things, that is not something I'm going to say nice things about. I'm sorry. Now, the president may say -- may say rougher things than I would say.
CUOMO: Nobody's asking you to. I'm saying do you think they're bad people. I'm saying not their illegal entry. I get that that's a crime. Everybody knows this. How you choose to enforce it is up to you. I'm asking you something different. Do you think they're bad people because that is the sense that the President of the United States has communicated?And anybody who says that's not fair is full of it Rick because that's what it empowers. All the discussions wind up being about the rapist in Katie Steinle's case, and all of those types of -- so why are those the examples that are used? Because the notion is they're bad people. Not because they came in illegal but because they're bad deep down. Do you own that?
NAVARRO: Bad, unskilled people.
CUOMO: Do you own that? Do you own it?
SANTORUM: I would argue -- yes, I would own that there are some bad people coming in and that's what the President has said consistently. Not that everybody who comes in is bad.
CUOMO: That is not what he's said consistently, Rick.
SANTORUM: Yeah, he has. He's --
CUOMO: When you ignore it, you empower it, my brother. That's why I ask.
NAVARRO: Every time he speaks of immigration, it’s demonizing.
SANTORUM: I'm not ignoring it. The President has always put that in context.
CUOMO: No, he has not always put it in context, otherwise I wouldn't waste my time. What, am I going to defend MS-13? I live out in Suffolk County. I know they're out there. I know the problem.
SANTORUM: All I can tell you is --
CUOMO: Come on, Rick. You know what this is about.
SANTORUM: All I can tell you is the President has said repeatedly he's not talking about all immigrants. He's talking about --
CUOMO: He didn't just say that when he talked about animals. He didn't speak carefully. He --
SANTORUM: He said in the -- he said it in the context of it. I mean, I just -- look --
NAVARRO: Rick, I hope one day you remember what your -- what your ancestors were called and how they were treated when they came to this country, yes.
SANTORUM: Including my father, yeah. I completely understand it.
NAVARRO: I remember when people used to call Italians and Irish people -- immigrants to the United States -- dogs. Look, we can't forget where we come from and who we are.
NAVARRO: So unless you're telling me that you come from the Cherokee Nation, I think that you should be offended by the demonization of immigrants because if you think that it just applies to undocumented immigrants and MS-13, you haven't seen the video of the two women in Midtown Manhattan getting berated by a racist because he thinks that it's his country, not their country. He could not be more wrong.
SANTORUM: I could agree with that more than what she said. I think it is racist to do that.
NAVARRO: By the way, that racist -- his name is Aaron Schlossberg -- Aaron Schlossberg, New York State Bar attorney.
CUOMO: Alright. Rick, Ana, appreciate you going at it. These debates matter.