(CNSNews.com) – President Trump’s executive order pausing travel from certain Muslim-majority nations “is about protecting Americans,” Sebastian Gorka, deputy assistant to President Trump, told CNN’s Chris Cuomo in a testy exchange on Monday.
No, it’s “about targeting Muslims and keeping them out,” CNN’s Chris Cuomo told Gorka.
Gorka told Cuomo if Trump’s travel ban had anything to do with race or religion, why wouldn’t the ban include Indonesia, the most populous Muslim nation; and Egypt, the most populous Arab nation?
“Explain that logic to me, because this is where your spin fails,” Gorka said. “This is where the fake news propaganda collapses, because if we had some dark, dread, ulterior motive, then those are the two first nations you would put on the list, not the seven nations that the Obama White House identified as the greatest concern. So please answer that question,” Gorka told Cuomo.
Cuomo responded that the Obama administration targeted travel “from places what were known as hubs for terror, and that’s different than what you’re doing, because you’re targeting nationality.”
Cuomo also said the Trump administration could have added Saudi Arabia to the travel ban because 15 of the 9/11 hijackers came from there. But Saudi Arabia is not on the list, Cuomo noted. “There's speculation as to why.”
Cuomo said Trump targeted Muslim-majority nations and “did a carve-out for non-Muslims,” which – Cuomo said -- is why his first executive order was struck down. The Trump administration then drafted a second executive order, which also has been blocked by the courts and is expected to be reviewed by the Supreme Court.
“So the intention is clear, that you wanted to target Muslims from those places. I see that you're a little slow to want to own that,” Cuomo said.
“No, I'm still waiting for you to answer why wouldn’t you include Indonesia and Egypt,” Gorka said. “You still haven’t answered the question. If it was what you said it was about, those would be the logical nations to include but we didn't. So how do you explain that, Chris?”
“I explain it by you wanting to go with the original model to make it easier to pass because you were mimicking what Obama did and therefore masking your true intention was to not make it about travel, make it about Muslims, and as you well know, not just in your own rhetoric but the president’s, he has said time and again that he thinks there's a problem with Islam. And that he thinks that Muslims may have a problem with us. And as you know, with what we're seeing in the UK right now, attachments to the community of Muslims is so important and the concern is that a move like this, trumpeted by the president in the midst of crisis in the UK sends an ugly message to our Muslim community here in the United States,” Cuomo said.
“Well, unfortunately, what you've just spun is classic fake news,” Gorka said.
“What is fake about what I said? What is factually inaccurate?” Cuomo asked.
“There are no facts there. You are saying we used an Obama era analysis to … cloak our intention. Can you give me one piece of evidence for that?” Gorka asked.
“Yes, the language,” Cuomo said. “You picked the same countries, was that a coincidence?
“No, because that's what government does. Government looks at the analysis,” Gorka said.
“You picked the same countries. That's a fact,” Cuomo said.
“What is your proof we had another intent? Give me just one piece of proof,” Gorka said.
“The language from the president,” Cuomo said. “The same thing the District courts have seized upon was that he clearly wants to keep Muslims out of the country -- right or wrong, the people voted for Donald Trump in part on that issue, but his intention is clear.”
“So that must be the intention of the Obama order as well -- to keep Muslims out of the nation,” Gorka said.
Cuomo said the language in Obama’s order is different than the language in Trump’s order: “It was about who is traveling in and out of there, and the potential for those governments to…harbor bad guys.”
Earlier in the interview, Cuomo asked Gorka why Trump administration officials kept insisting that his executive order was not a travel ban – when Trump on Monday insisted it is, and always was:
“Why play the games?” Cuomo asked Gorka.
“There are no games,” Gorka responded. “The president can call it whatever he likes because he has the constitutional authority to control whoever comes into this country, Chris. That's his job. The constitution, precedence, and administrative law give him that right. If he wants to call it a ban, he's the president, he's the chief officer of this administration and he has every right to do that.”
“The president just proved what the truth is. All this has been spin, and a distraction. Why?” Cuomo asked.
“I’m not going to fall into the trap of us being the spinmeisters when CNN is one of the greatest purveyors of fake news,” Gorka said.
Gorka said the president’s first travel ban, and then the second one have had the same purpose: “It’s about protecting Americans, and if anybody out there has a problem with us trying to keep Americans safe they need to look in the mirror and ask themselves whether they are the purveyors of fake news.”