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A president accused of a crime
is insisting we need a border wall to prevent crime.
For more on this, it's time for "A Closer Look."
[ Cheers and applause ]
There's a phrase politicians on both sides of the aisle
have been using for decades,
and that is "we are a nation of laws,"
but in particular, Republicans and President Trump
have used it in recent years to justify policies
that target groups they want to punish
like their political opponents or undocumented immigrants.
-We are a nation of laws, and we need to uphold those laws.
-You have to understand we're a nation of laws.
Do you respect that?
-Under the Trump administration,
America is once more a nation of laws.
-Of course, the more we learn about Trump,
the more I think he means that as a complaint.
"They won't let me do anything around here.
It's like we're a nation of laws."
[ Laughter ]
And Trump has even used the "nation of laws" line
when asked specifically about vulnerable people
fleeing poverty and violence
and seeking asylum here in the U.S.,
which is a legal right
under both U.S. and international law.
-The caravan has arrived at the U.S. border.
-We've been watching it. We've been watching it.
-And I'm just wondering in your opinion or in your estimation,
what percentage of those people do you believe
are deserving of asylum in the U.S.?
-Well, I won't get into percentages,
but we are a nation of laws.
-I love when Trump says, "I won't get into percentages,"
because what he really means is
"I don't understand percentages."
If you asked him how much fat is in 2% milk,
he'd be up all night at a chalkboard
doing math like in "Good Will Hunting."
And when you asked him what the answer was, he'd say,
"All I know is I ate the chalk.
How do you like them apples?!"
[ Laughter ]
But it's especially infuriating to watch Trump
pretend to care about the law when his own Justice Department
just accused him of a crime
for paying hush money to cover up affairs.
Today the man who made those payments,
Trump's ex-fixer Michael Cohen,
was sentenced to three years in jail.
And during the hearing, Cohen told the court
in no uncertain terms that he committed those crimes
at the direction of Donald Trump.
-The former Trump attorney and fixer Michael Cohen
speaking moments ago inside a New York federal courtroom.
Cohen now says he accepts
"full responsibility" for his crimes,
the one he committed on his own
and the ones he and prosecutors say
he committed at the direction
of the President of the United States.
-Federal prosecutors working for the Department of Justice
now claiming that then-candidate Trump
directed illegal hush money to two women
during the 2016 campaign.
-For the first time, you have federal prosecutors
essentially saying
that Donald Trump committed a felony.
-Damn. Forget running for re-election.
In two years, Trump might be running from the feds.
The FBI is going to bust into a cabin in Montana
and find Trump with a Unabomber beard
surrounded by Burger King wrappers.
"Wait. Wait. How -- How did you find me?"
"Um, you put your name on the cabin."
[ Laughter ]
[ Cheers and applause ]
"Ohh. Ohh!"
Republicans have spent years insisting
that we can't admit immigrants fleeing poverty and violence
because we're a nation of laws,
and yet now that the actual Justice Department
has accused the President of the United States
of committing a crime, suddenly Republicans
are getting very squishy on that whole "nation of laws" thing.
And the best example of that is Utah Senator Orrin Hatch,
who tried to claim the Cohen charges
were part of a Democratic conspiracy to take down Trump.
-The Democrats will do anything to hurt this president.
-But it's not the Democrats.
It's the Southern District of New York, the U.S. Attorney.
I mean, that's what's making this allegation.
-Okay, but I don't care.
-I love how he starts out with one argument
and then, when that argument is rebutted,
just says, "I don't care."
That is such a classic old-man move.
"Grandpa, you can't park there." "But it's empty."
"It's a sidewalk!" "I don't care!"
What all this makes clear
is that the GOP's immigration rhetoric
was never about respect for the rule of law.
It was about punishing immigrants.
And that was on display yet again in yesterday's
surreal meeting with Democratic leaders in the Oval Office
where the President threatened to shut down the government
unless he gets funding for his border wall.
Watch him bicker with Democratic leaders
Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi, who successfully bait him
into admitting that he actually wants a government shutdown.
-I think the American people recognize
that we must keep government open,
that a shutdown is not worth anything
and that we should not have a Trump shutdown.
-You said Trump --
-You have the White House, you have the Senate.
-The one thing I think we can agree on
is we shouldn't shut down the government over a dispute.
And you want to shut it down. You keep talking about it.
-The last time, Chuck, you shut it down.
-No, no, no.
-And then you opened it very quickly.
I don't want to do what you did.
-20 times, you have called for --
"I will shut down the government if I don't get my wall."
None of us have said -- -You want to know something?
-You've said it.
-You want to put that on my -- I'll take it.
-Okay. Good. -You know what I'll say?
Yes, if we don't get what we want, one way or the other,
whether it's through you, through our military,
through anything you want to call,
I will shut down the government. -Okay. Fair enough.
We disagree. -And I'll tell you what.
I am proud to shut down the government
for border security, Chuck.
-Look how happy Chuck Schumer is
that he got Donald Trump to admit.
That's how he looks when he sees a sign that says "free soup."
[ Laughter ]
Pelosi then reminded Trump that until January
Republicans still control all three branches of government
and could easily pass a government funding bill
on their own, and Trump responded
by trying to teach Pelosi how Congress works.
-You have the votes, you should pass it.
-No, we don't have the votes, Nancy, because in the Senate
we need 60 votes, and we don't have it.
-No, no, but in the House. You could bring it up right now.
-Yeah, but I can't -- Excuse me.
The House we could get it passed very easily, and we do,
but the problem is the Senate
because we need 10 Democrats to vote.
Nancy, I'd have it passed in two seconds.
It doesn't matter, though,
because we can't get it passed in the Senate
because we need 10 Democrat votes.
And the House would give me the vote if I wanted it,
but I can't because I need --
Nancy, I need 10 votes from Chuck.
-I'm sorry. Are you explaining
how legislation works to Nancy Pelosi?
You might as well try explaining basketball to LeBron James.
"And if you stand behind this line,
it counts as 3 points, LeBaron."
Of course if you don't want to say something stupid,
the other option is to not say anything at all,
and that's the strategy Vice President Mike Pence chose.
I mean, look at how still he was during this meeting.
He looks like a grandpa staring off in the distance
while his children fight
over whether to put him in a nursing home.
"Uh...I want to stay.
I want to say in my..." [ Laughs ]
Every few minutes, he'd shoot out of his chair
and have a flashback to Vietnam.
"They're in the trees!"
He barely moved!
Is that the real Mike Pence or did he pull a Ferris Bueller
and put a mannequin in his place that looks exactly like --
During that meeting, the real Mike Pence
was driving a Ferrari to a Cubs game and singing in a parade.
[ Laughter ]
Even Nancy Pelosi,
who has been in professional politics for decades,
had to admit that arguing with Trump in front of the TV cameras
was one of the most surreal experiences of her career.
And her description of the meeting kept getting weirder.
For example, she later described to her Democratic colleagues
what Trump said in private once the cameras were off.
"He said at the end of the meeting,
'We can go two routes with this meeting --
with a knife or with a candy.'"
Why is he so weird?
[ Laughter ]
Knife and candy aren't the two ways to have a meeting.
They're the two ways to get somebody into a van.
[ Laughter ]
It's like "Head Injuries Untouchables."
"They bring a knife, you bring a candy.
That's the Dum Dum way."
What all this makes clear is the GOP's immigration rhetoric
was never about respect or the rule of law.
All they want is their stupid border wall,
and they want us to pay for it.
And Democrats are responding by saying...
-I don't care.
-This has been "A Closer Look."
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Cohen Sentenced; Trump's Shutdown Threat: A Closer Look

26 Folder Collection
Jingjiang Li published on January 27, 2019
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