Acting USCIS Director Ken Cuccinelli accused Florida Democratic Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of leveraging constitutional protections in order to make “completely false” statements about him and the president.
Cuccinelli, the acting director of Citizenship and Immigration Services, participated in a House Oversight Committee hearing on Wednesday. While many Democrats grilled the acting USCIS chief throughout the hearing, the most notable exchange took place when Wasserman Schultz accused Cuccinelli of only wanting immigrants who look like “Caucasian Americans,” and claimed he was propagating a “white supremacist” agenda.
Cuccinelli appeared Friday on Fox News to discuss the defamatory remarks.
“I’m under oath and she’s literally protected to lie,” Cuccinelli said on Fox & Friends, referring to the Speech or Debate Clause within the Constitution. The clause gives wide-ranging immunity to members of Congress in their public statements, giving them free rein to make whatever comments.
Cuccinelli, however, argued that Wasserman Schultz abused the Speech or Debate Clause to make false statements.
“I don’t think the founders [of the Constitution] ever intended it to be a shield for lying and trying to plant narratives out in the public — and that was what she was doing,” Cuccinelli said. “She wasn’t at much of the committee hearing. She came in, laid on her smears, both me and the president, all completely false, and then wasn’t there much longer — got on her broom and left.”
“It was a flyby for her to get her little soundbite. It wasn’t substantive,” the USCIS chief continued. “And people need to realize that’s what’s going on in so many of these congressional hearings. They have no interest in the truth.”
The USCIS acting director went on to say that committee rules were structured in a way that prevented him from responding to Wasserman Schultz’s accusations, so he had no choice but to interject at times.
“You and Mr. Trump don’t want anyone who looks or talks different than Caucasian Americans to be allowed into this country,” Wasserman Schultz said during the Wednesday hearing. “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.”
Cuccinelli vehemently denied the accusation during the hearing, and told the Florida lawmaker that she was “cloaked in legislative privilege.”
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