Transcript: Senator Chris Murphy on “Face the Nation,” May 26, 2024

The following is a transcript of an interview with Senator Chris Murphy, Democrat of Connecticut, on “Face the Nation” broadcast May 26, 2024.


MARGARET BRENNAN: And now we're joined by Democratic Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut. Good morning.

SENATOR CHRIS MURPHY (D-CT): Good morning.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So I want to start here about the Middle East. The president's National Security Advisor said Israel has so far been somewhat “targeted and limited” in what it does in southern Gaza. But the US is watching to see if “this operation will involve a lot of death and destruction, or if it is more precise and proportionate.” Are you clear about what the red line is here?

SEN. MURPHY: What we know is that there is a humanitarian disaster unfolding in and around Rafah right now. We have been unable to secure significant amounts of humanitarian aid. And so no matter how many people die from Israeli military operations, people die every day from the inability to access food and medicine. This ultimately benefits, rather than harms, terrorist recruitment. And that's my big concern here. There is a moral cost to the number of civilians dying in Gaza. But if you continue to withhold food and aid from the people, these terrorist causes will eventually grow stronger, not only in Israel, but around the world. Our own intelligence experts have told us that this has a generational impact on terrorism. And for many of us who want Israel to end this military operation and focus on the future political settlement in Gaza, it is partly because we worry that this is a boon to terrorism, to the growing terrorist groups around the world. .

MARGARET BRENNAN: Right. But the National Security Advisor there suggested that the line has not yet been crossed.

SEN. MURPHY: Well…

MARGARET BRENNAN: Looking at the question of whether there is a lot of death and destruction, there is already a lot of death and destruction.

SEN. MURPHY: Yes, and that is why I am among many of my colleagues who have caused – we have called on Israel to pause military operations in an effort to control this humanitarian nightmare, and to take the time to come up with a realistic solution. for what Gaza looks like after the fighting stops. What you have seen in recent weeks is that as Israel has evacuated certain areas, such as northern Gaza, Hamas has simply come back into action because there is no viable plan for governance. Israel needs to take the time to be less cavalier about the humanitarian costs, but also come up with a plan for what Gaza will look like after the fighting stops, and the fighting will stop at some point.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So I understand the intent behind building the pier, but $320 million, three soldiers injured, the thing falling apart because of the rough seas. It is not enough to need it. Was it [a] wrong to do this?

SEN. MURPHY: No, it wasn't a mistake. There is nothing that the United…

MARGARET BRENNAN: But it's not even fully delivered.

SEN. MURPHY: Listen, I think there's going to be some rough patches in the beginning of getting this pier up and running. But you're absolutely right, whether it's the airdrops or the deliveries at the pier, there is nothing the United States can do that can replace Israel's decision to open the border crossings, to stop using these checkpoints as a means to interrupt the flow of vital goods. Israel must commit to resolving the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. The United States will not be able to do that for Israel.

MARGARET BRENNAN: I want to ask you about here at home, the southern border. Border Patrol apprehensions of migrants have actually decreased during these months of warmer weather. They went down in April, they went down in March. Is that only because of the Mexican government? If it's Biden policy, why isn't the president claiming success?

SEN. MURPHY: So it comes down to, I think, smart, effective diplomacy between the United States and the Mexican government. I don't know if it's permanent. And so I think we just have to recognize that without updating the laws of this country, without sending more resources to the border, we can't count on the numbers staying as low as they are now. And don't forget that today about 3,000 people cross the border every day. That's still a high number compared to what we saw a decade ago. And so for many of us, we're just heartbroken. We are sickened by the fact that our Republican colleagues in Congress continue to vote against bipartisan border security, which would give us the opportunity to actually give the president the tools and the authorities to make this a permanent change, to get the numbers under control to get. a permanent basis.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You're talking about the bill that you helped write, and it was voted on, which they knew would fail. It was about messaging. But Senator Gary Peters, who is trying to help Democrats defend the Senate majority, was on this program last week and he said absolutely, the president should talk more about the border. Why isn't he?

SEN. MURPHY: So I agree that the American people want to talk about border security. And right now, the president has an opportunity to go out and talk about a Democratic Party proposal negotiated with Republicans that would take control of the border. And an opposing president…

MARGARET BRENNAN: Or he could have spent months and weeks supporting it.

SEN. MURPHY: Or- and- President Trump's desire to keep the border a mess because he thinks it helps him politically. This is as stark a contrast as has ever been possible for the Democratic Party on the issue of the border. Democrats support bipartisan border security, Republicans want the border to be a mess because it's good politics for them. And the president and every Democrat running for office should be talking about that.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But- but you know, and we really dug into this bill that you helped write for this program, but for Americans who just want something done, you know, the ifs and buts don't really matter that much . The president could take executive action and has been talking about it since February, when the Secretary of Homeland Security said it was being considered. Should he just get caught trying? Pull the trigger, do some executive action?

SEN. MURPHY: The president has such limited ability to issue executive orders that would impact the border. He cannot conjure resources out of thin air. If he tried to close off parts of the border, I think the courts would throw that out in a few weeks. The only thing that will bring…

MARGARET BRENNAN: 212(f) authority being considered here.

SEN. MURPHY: Yeah, I think the only thing that can bring order to the southwest border is bipartisan legislation. We have a bipartisan border bill. If Republicans decided to support it, it would pass. We can take it to the president's desk. It is up to Donald Trump and the Republicans whether they want to solve the problem at the border, or whether they want to keep the border in a mess because it helps them politically in the upcoming elections.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So, quickly, before I let you go here, there was a lawsuit filed this week by the families of those in Uvalde, Texas whose children died at Robb Elementary School. And you represent Sandy Hook, I know you're watching this closely. They are trying to file suit against video game makers and Meta Platforms, owner of Instagram. What do you think about the premise of the idea that social media companies are, and vi-videocomp companies are to blame for this?

SEN. MURPHY: Listen, there's no question that these social media companies are feeding violent content to our children. I don't know the underlying dynamics of that lawsuit. But our social media companies have a lot to answer for, as these would-be killers whose brains are breaking often find inspiration for the crime they contemplate online. But the solution here is again the same. You need to pass legislation, the courts cannot solve this problem of school shootings. And the good news is that since we passed the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, right after the Uvalde shooting, urban gun homicide rates in this country have dropped by 20%. And that is something very important.

MARGARET BRENNAN: We're going to talk to Tony Gonzales, who also helped him cross the finish line, down the road. Thank you. We will be right back.

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