Politics

‘Cloaked In Legislative Privilege’: Cuccinelli Fires Back At Wasserman Schultz’s ‘White Supremacist’ Accusation

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Jason Hopkins Immigration and politics reporter
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Florida Democratic Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz accused acting U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Director Ken Cuccinelli and the president of only wanting to accept immigrants who look like “Caucasian Americans,” in a fiery exchange during a congressional hearing.

Cuccinelli appeared before the House Oversight Committee Wednesday to speak about the Trump administration’s decision to temporarily stop deportation deferments for critically ill aliens living in the U.S. Democrats grilled Cuccinelli over the decision throughout the hearing.

However, the most heated exchange likely took place when Wasserman Schultz spoke. The Florida lawmaker not only accused President Donald Trump and Cuccinelli of working to block all immigration, but she also said they were actively pursuing a “white supremacist ideology.”

“I think it’s important for us all to be clear about what you have been aiming to accomplish,” Wasserman Schultz said to Cuccinelli. “You and Mr. Trump don’t want anyone who looks or talks different than Caucasian Americans to be allowed into this country.”

House Oversight Hearing screen grab. 10.30.19

A House Oversight Hearing screen grab is pictured from Oct. 30, 2019.

A female staffer sitting behind Wasserman Schultz was seen visibly reacting to the comments, spreading her eyes wide in apparent shock.

“That’s false,” Cuccinelli said in response. Wasserman Schultz told him to not interrupt her. Cuccinelli continued to object, telling her that the statement was “defamatory.” The chairman of the committee told the USCIS director that he would be allowed to respond after she was done speaking.

“You want to block all immigration and make life harder for immigrants, and you have demonstrated that you will pursue this heinous, white supremacist ideology at all costs — even if it means making critically ill children your collateral damage in the process,” Wasserman Schultz said.

Citizenship And Immigration Acting Director Ken Cuccinelli Holds Press Briefing

Acting Director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Ken Cuccinelli speaks about immigration policy at the White House during a briefing Aug. 12, 2019 in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

“This goes to a comprehensive pattern of harm at USCIS under your leadership,” she continued before speaking about the agency’s latest public charge rule.

“I am not a white supremacist as you eluded, nor is the president,” Cucinelli said when he was given time to speak. “You’re certainly cloaked in legislative privilege. That means you can get away with not telling the truth.”

The back-and-forth continued on during Wasserman Schultz’s time. The Florida lawmaker accused Cuccinelli of suggesting that “The New Colossus” — the sonnet that is featured on the Statue of Liberty — of only referring to European immigrants. The USCIS director denied making such a suggestion. (RELATED: White House Deems Ken Cuccinelli, Mark Morgan Ineligible To Lead DHS)

“That is absolutely inaccurate,” Cuccinelli said. “I didn’t [make that claim]. You appended your own piece to the end of it. You added to the end of that statement.”

Wasserman Schultz said again before her time was up that Cuccinelli was working to stop “brown” migrants from entering the U.S.

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