During a segment Tuesday on CNN, Republican pundit, political strategist and media consultant Rick Wilson made some pointed remarks aimed at the administration of President Donald Trump and their zero tolerance immigration policy.
The CNN host, Poppy Harlow, had just finished airing video of a reunion between a father and son who were separated by the Trump administration policy.
On orders from the president, in a strategy designed by White House adviser Stephen Miller, Attorney General Jeff Sessions enacted the change in May. Sessions revoked prosecutorial discretion within the Department of Justice regarding anyone entering the United States through the southern border without prior authorization.
In the segment, Harlow introduced Wilson as a former strategist for current Trump lawyer, Rudy Giuliani. She then asked Wilson about the optics of crying children and the impact it could have on the Trump administration, stating “…do pictures like [CNN correspondent] Rosa [Flores] just showed us of this little boy being reunited with his father after 43 days, will those haunt this administration?”
To which Wilson replied,
“Well, I think the pictures of the cruelty of this administration are a very deliberate part of this. They’re a feature, not a bug, of the Trump administration’s policy. And so I think that we’re in a situation where no one inside the administration is unhappy about these things because they’re only talking to their base.”
They’re only talking to their core supporters. And their core supporters, you know, want anybody who’s darker than a latte deported.”
“They’re not happy about, you know, immigration of any kind. They don’t believe in the asylum process.”
They want to take and separate these families as a matter of deterrence and as a matter of —like I said— a sort of theater of cruelty. And I think it really doesn’t speak well to their moral standing.”
As Wilson continued to speak, a visibly uncomfortable Harlow and her other guest, Democratic strategist and political commentator, Joe Trippi, spoke over him briefly.
Finally, a still shaken Harlow remarked,
“That’s quite an argument. I mean, you’re saying the administration wants this. They want —I mean I get it’s their practice— but I’m saying they want these pictures, they want it to play out like this, they… really?”
To which Wilson responded again with information that appeared to rattle Harlow and Trippi, stating,
Yes. And there’s been some reporting on this. Stephen Miller and the guys in the white nationalist faction of the party are very happy about this. They love the whole optics of this cruel sort of exercise.”
Harlow initially attempted to cut Wilson off, but eventually said, “Okay,” and then directed a question to her other guest.
“Joe Trippi,” Harlow began, “you’re the Democrat on this panel. Do you —I mean, they do not make up the entirety of the White House, nor do they make up… nor is Stephen Miller, you know, a representative of the entirety of the Trump base.”
However Trippi agreed with Wilson’s assessment.