During Friday’s edition of Real Time With Bill Maher, Bill Maher interviewed Congressman Will Hurd, a Republican from Texas, who disagrees with President Trump about the necessity of a border wall. Through the course of the exchange, Maher invoked a stereotype about African-Americans in front of the Congressman and tried to get him to agree that President Trump was “the biggest security threat to the United States.”
Shortly after the interview began, Maher tried to get Hurd to explain why he was a Republican, telling him “they’re not good at national defense, the President’s a traitor,” before asking him again “what is in the Republican Party for you?” Hurd talked about his experience in the CIA, describing himself as “the dude in the back alleys at 4:00 in the morning, collecting intelligence on the threats to the homeland...” At this point, Maher interrupted and asked, “that’s where they collect them?” Hurd replied, “it is,” before Maher asked “by the Popeyes Chicken?”
The Daily Beast and The Hill described the “Popeyes Chicken” remark as racist because Hurd is African-American. Maher had previously found himself in hot water for another racial remark he made on the show in 2017 in front of another Republican member of Congress, Senator Ben Sasse. When Sasse invited Maher to come work in the fields in Nebraska, Maher replied, “Senator, I’m a house n***er.” For his part, Hurd seemed to brush off the remark; he continued describing his experience in the CIA with Maher and the audience.
Later, Maher repeatedly tried to get Hurd to bash President Trump. First, Maher asked Hurd, “isn’t the biggest security threat to America the President of the United States?” Hurd did not agree with Maher’s analysis, describing China as the biggest security threat to the nation.
Still, Hurd did share some of his criticism of the President with Maher; he talked about an op-ed he wrote about President Trump’s meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, which he described as “a U.S. President getting played by the Russian KGB.” Maher then asked Hurd, “isn’t the next thing you say is we have to impeach this President?” Hurd did not jump on the impeachment bandwagon, instead telling Maher, “I agree when I agree, I disagree when I disagree.”
A transcript of the relevant portion of Friday’s edition of Real Time is below. Click “expand” to read more.
Real Time With Bill Maher
BILL MAHER: But first up, he is the Congressional representative who’s test….Texas, Texas district; say that three times, whose Texas district crosses the most land on our southern border. From Texas’s 8th District, Will Hurd, ladies and gentlemen. Congressman, how are you sir? Thank you very much for being here and yes, let’s talk about your district…it’s, I understand, 820 miles long.
REP. WILL HURD: Width of the border, I represent 29 counties…
HURD: …two time zones…it’s larger than 26 states…
HURD: …roughly the size of Georgia. It takes…
MAHER: There must be nobody in it. Right? Must be very sparse.
HURD: No, there’s, there’s more cows than people in between San Antonio into El Paso.
HURD: But I’m from San Antonio. That’s the biggest city and 820 miles of the border, It’s a 71 percent Latino district, and it’s, it’s truly the only 50-50 district in Texas; 50 percent Republican, 50 percent Democrat.
MAHER: And I bet you the people think you’re a Democrat but you’re not.
HURD: Well, look, I’m, I’m a proud, I’m a proud Republican.
MAHER: You’re a proud…
HURD: But I try to talk about things that make sense, like border security. Since I have more border than any other member of Congress, I’m the only Republican that represents a part of the border. There’s nine members of Congress that represent the…
MAHER: All Democrats.
HURD: All Democrats except for me and I have the most; almost two-thirds of the border between the U.S. and Mexico.
MAHER: And you’ve called Trump’s while a myth, right? The need for a wall, a myth?
HURD: Well, I’ve said that when saying that this is…hasn’t been a problem for multiple administrations, that’s a myth. But I do believe building a 30-foot high concrete structure that takes three hours to penetrate from sea to shining sea is the most expensive and least effective way to do border security.
MAHER: But let’s talk about what might be a myth in this area. Is…the fact that immigration is a big problem, I think is a myth. Do you think immigration is even a top ten problem in America, one of our top ten biggest problems?
HURD: Last year, 400,000 people came to our country illegally, and that is a decrease of 80 percent since 2000. So 400,000 is still a lot of people. I actually think, when you are at 3.94 percent unemployment, guess what? You need people to work. Like, that’s why we should solve the DACA problem. There’s 1.2 million young men and women who have only known the United States of America as their home. These are people that are contributing to our economy, to our culture, to our society. They are already Americans. Let’s keep them here, let’s have a permanent fix.
MAHER: So would it be a top ten problem?
HURD: For the, for the DACA, for the DACA kids and the dreamers it’s a problem.
MAHER: No but for America.
HURD: But for America…
MAHER: Because it seems to me like it’s not a problem. It’s almost a solution because people, there are a lot…most Americans will not do the jobs that the people who are coming over the border will do. That seems like a win-win.
HURD: I think it’s an opportunity. Right? Immigration is actually an opportunity to make sure that we have people…and when you’re at 3.94 percent unemployment, guess what? You need workers, whether it’s agriculture or artificial intelligence so we should be streamlining our, our immigration process in order to make sure that we have the workforce that we need, in order to keep our economy going.
MAHER: So are you a Republican, like, through your parents historically? I’m just asking why you are a Republican; like why anyone is any party, I’m not…I’m not being snarky.
HURD: I’m a Republican because I believe in limited government. I’m a Republican because I believe in…
MAHER: But they don’t do that.
HURD: …the rule of law. I’m a Republican because I believe in economic opportunity, right?
MAHER: They don’t do that either.
HURD: There are some warts, there are some warts on the…
HURD: …on the party but also you can say the same of others but here is where I think we should get to, right? Instead of talking about all of the things that divides us, let’s talk about those things that actually unify us. Because I’ve crisscrossed…
MAHER: They don’t do that either.
HURD: But both sides, right?
MAHER: I’m just asking why you are a Republican because they are not good at the debt, that was their big thing, you said limited government, they don’t do that. They take over the Congress in 2011, and they raised the debt, $1 trillion a year. They are not good at national defense, the President’s a traitor. What, I…
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
MAHER: …they don’t have any, I just don’t know what’s in it for you; what is, what is in the Republican Party for you?
HURD: I will say this…
MAHER: You were in the CIA!
HURD: I was in the CIA for almost a decade. I was the dude in the back alleys at 4:00 in the morning collecting intelligence on threats to the homeland. I did two years…
MAHER: That’s where you collect them, huh?
HURD: It is. It is. I did two years…
MAHER: By the Popeyes Chicken?
HURD: But I did two years in India, two years in Pakistan, I did two years in New York City doing a lot of interagency work and then a year and a half in Afghanistan, where I managed all of our undercover operations.
MAHER: Okay, so what do you think when you see the President of the United States this week belittling our intelligence chiefs? What…
HURD: It, it erodes trust in our institutions.
MAHER: I think so.
HURD: It makes, it makes our…
HURD: But here’s why. I believe…
MAHER: What do other countries think when they see us? We’re not… airing our dirty laundry, fighting amongst ourselves, what do they think when the President doesn’t… they know our President doesn’t believe the experts; they know the experts are right. They’re not crazy.
HURD: New rule, the President should listen, the President should listen to the intelligence chiefs. Right?
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
HURD: And, and, and so, so, so I would agree with you. But it, it does erode things because what, let’s take Russia, for example…
HURD: They did try to manipulate our elections in, in 2016, why? Because…
MAHER: Something else he denies.
HURD: …they are trying to erode trust in our democratic institutions.
HURD: Russia is not a global player. They are a regional thug. And they are trying to reestablish the territorial integrity of the old USSR. And what’s getting in the way? A little thing called NATO. What’s supporting NATO? A little thing called the United States of America, right? That’s why they are trying to go after us and when we, and when our President makes this decision or goes on Twitter and criticizes the intelligence community, what happens? When they are trying to work in the Middle East, going against ISIS, going against Al Qaeda, which has metastasized to other parts of the Middle East and northern Africa, when we have to work with our partners, it makes it more difficult for those men and women that are in those dark corners, and those dangerous places.
MAHER: Right. I mean, this was…came about because every year we get a threat assessment.
MAHER: Right? They were giving us what they say…and this is great that we do this and it’s in writing.
MAHER: It’s in writing.
HURD: And televised.
MAHER: And televised.
MAHER: And he said they didn’t say it. Now, aside from the lies, the threats, I think they identified accurately. You know, they said Russia is still meddling. ISIS is still around; all things which he denies. But isn’t the biggest threat him? Isn’t the biggest security threat to America the President of the United States?
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
HURD: I think the biggest threat to long-term stability in the United States is actually China. China is trying to surpass the United States as the global hegemony. But I will say this, when we, when we erode trust in our intelligence community, in our federal law enforcement, that has an impact through the rest of the world. The only way that we are going to continue to deal with China is by making sure that we have allies, when our allies can’t trust us, when they don’t know whether…if they think there is a disconnect between what the executive branch says and what the, the working folks, whether it’s in the State Department or the CIA, that is a problem.
MAHER: Do you? Do you?
HURD: And that’s why, that’s why I speak out, that’s why I try to articulate these concerns because there’s only three of us that have ever spent time in the intelligence community that are now in Congress, and this is why I speak up and try to articulate what we should be doing.
MAHER: But I, I feel like if you were really speaking up, you would speak out against the President and you would break with him. Do you, do you think…
HURD: I do. I wrote a little op-ed about the Helsinki decision when he was standing up there next to Vladimir Putin, and I said, I never would have thought in all my time as an undercover officer in the CIA that I would see a U.S. President getting played by the Russian KGB. Right…and so…
MAHER: So isn’t the next thing you say is we have to impeach this President? We have to somehow get rid of this President? Do you honestly think this President puts country first, which is what you did in the CIA? I mean, more than anybody because you guys do it anonymously.
HURD: My job…I agree when I agree, I disagree when I disagree. And this is, for me, making sure the men and women that I served alongside with, that are still fighting wars, you know, we’ve been fighting the global war on terrorism for 17 years. These men and women, I, I speak out on behalf of them. And, and ultimately, there is going to be an election in 2020…
HURD: …where the American people decide all these, all these issues.
MAHER: I know that in your first two years of the Trump administration, you voted with him most of the time. But in this year, you’ve not voted with him at all. Right? I think 0 for 12.
HURD: Well, that number is a, is a little misleading, by the way. Last Congress, we had almost 1,000 bills. I think it was like, 9,967. And guess what? All but 15 were done in a bipartisan way. Nobody talks about that number. You’ve probably have never heard that number. And so that, that, that stat is cherry picked, certain pieces of legislation that you may or may not have voted on. It’s not the entire…
MAHER: I was trying to give you an out and say I’m not really with Trump. Why do you want to be on the side of this asshole?
HURD: Like I said, I, I, I agree when I agree…
HURD: I disagree when I, when I disagree.
MAHER: All right.
HURD: And we’re going to continue to ultimately do that and this issue right now with border security I think is, is a perfect example of that, making sure that we’re supporting dreamers is, is another area that we want to continue support and I’m going to always make sure that I have the backs of the men and women in our intelligence community.