Cuccinelli Gets Defensive Over Trump’s Claim of Drug Dealers Hiding Among Bahamas Refugees

Cuccinelli Gets Defensive Over Trump’s Claim of Drug Dealers Hiding Among Bahamas Refugees

It is hard enough to go on television and have an anchor call you out on a lie you told. But to call you out for a lie that President Trump told? That can set off even an apparatchik like Ken Cuccinelli, as viewers of Cuomo Prime Time witnessed on Thursday night.

Chris Cuomo opened his show with a review of the situation in the Bahamas, which is still reeling from being pounded by Hurricane Dorian last week. In the wake of the storm, over a hundred citizens of the island nation had boarded a ferry to evacuate to Florida, only to be told they would not be allowed in the United States because they lacked visas.

A couple of days later, Trump told a crowd of reporters that the real reason the administration was taking a harder line on the refugees was because the Bahamas is rife with “very bad gang members and some very, very bad drug dealers.” Therefore, he wants the Bahamians to be vetted more carefully before he will allow them refuge from their wrecked country.

Cuccinelli, the acting director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, had to defend this obvious bunk to Cuomo, who started off by pointing out that no one he has talked to in the Department of Homeland Security could back up Trump’s claim.

Cuccinelli responded that he had nothing to add, which made Cuomo incredulous:

“But you must because you are in a position of authority now…you’ve got to do one of two things, Ken. You either have to say ‘The President meant this, and here’s the basis,’ or ‘I don’t know why he said that. It is not something that I can prove.'”

Cuomo then asked if, of the Bahamians the government has vetted, there had been one single drug dealer. Cuccinelli hemmed and hawed, at first saying he didn’t have any information. Cuomo patiently explained that the number is zero.

That was when Cuccinelli lost it:

“Well that’s great. Well you didn’t tell me you were going to ask that question before I got on here. And I’m sitting here with no notes. So, I don’t know the answer to that question…Chris, maybe you should — maybe instead of sandbagging me, you should try to give a little heads-up on what you’d like to actually have a constructive conversation about.”

Poor Cuccinelli, being asked about statements his boss made in public that fall under his purview.

Watch the video in the embedded tweet above, via CNN and Cuomo Prime Time.

Gary Legum

Gary Legum has written about politics and culture for Independent Journal Review, Salon, The Daily Beast, Wonkette, AlterNet and McSweeney's, among others. He currently lives in his native state of Virginia.