• October 17th, 2021
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When Is It OK to Repeat Things Trump Said?


Editor’s Note: On March 28th in the Immigration Subcommittee Rep. Luis Gutiérrez was reprimanded by Chairman Rep. F James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) for saying that Donald Trump had said that Mexicans are criminals and rapists. On March 29th, Rep. Luis V. Gutiérrez (D-IL) spoke on the floor of the House about the words of President Trump and when it is acceptable under House Rules to repeat them.

Yesterday [Mar. 28] in the Subcommittee on Immigration, the Chairman, the Gentleman from Wisconsin, attempted to reprimand me by reminding me that House Rules prevent Members from

“casting aspersions on the President of the United States.”

And what did I say to get this reprimand? I said that the President of the United States had said that Mexicans were criminals and rapists.

Well, as the sportscasters used to say, “Let’s go to the video tape.”

Almost the first words out of Donald Trump’s mouth when he descended the golden escalator to launch his presidential campaign was this

“When México sends it people, they’re not sending their best… They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”

Well, I left out the part about “some, I assume are good people.”  But the Chairman of the Subcommittee said I was not following House Rules because I was casting aspersions on the President because – apparently – I was saying what the President himself had actually said.

It is upsetting to Republican Members of the House to hear the words of the President of the United States because they know they have to defend him as the leader of their party…and I can understand why that would make any human being uncomfortable.

And it was offensive to the Chairman and I agree. That was my point.

So, is repeating the words of the President against House Rules? And if so, why?

Because they are hateful and ugly things to say about our fellow human beings? I don’t think we should be barred from repeating the words of the President because they are hateful and ugly things to say about our fellow human beings. Because he said them. And he is the President and I respect the office. So maybe it is something else.

Maybe we cannot say things the President said because it is not appropriate for anyone to say some of the things he has said about people, the dehumanizing language he uses when describing which body parts he can grab women by, for example.

Now, Mr. Speaker, rather than saying, as I said earlier, “Let’s go to the video tape,” I think every single American has seen that video tape.

And, when I have discussed the President saying these awful, hurtful things about where he can grab women, either here on the floor or in the Judiciary Committee, I have actually cleaned up the language so it is safe for a daytime C-SPAN audience.

So, what is it about repeating the words of this particular President in the U.S. House of Representatives that the Gentleman from Wisconsin feels is a violation of House Rules?

Maybe it is the lying. I looked through the House Rules and I did not see a section that said “Thou shalt not lie,” Mr. Speaker.

But clearly, repeating things that this President has said means you will be repeating lies. It just goes with the territory.

There was the original lie as President, barely a few hours in office, saying that his crowd was the largest crowd in the history of Presidential inaugurations.

Or the one about the Muslim Ban, which the President said was a Muslim Ban; his key advisor, the former Mayor of New York said was a Muslim Ban; and his other key advisor Stephen Miller said was a Muslim Ban, but which the White House tried to say was not, in fact, a Muslim Ban because it did not ban all Muslims.

Several federal courts have agreed with the President that what he ordered WAS a Muslim Ban and disagreed with the President’s lawyers that it was NOT a Muslim Ban. But what about when the President said that he saw American Muslims celebrating in New Jersey on 9/11. We know that was a lie.

Or that 3 million illegal votes were cast on Election Day causing the President to lose the popular vote, which he had walked back from the claim that 3 million undocumented immigrants had voted on Election Day. In either case, it is a lie.

And then there is the illegal wiretapping ordered by the previous President of the United States on President-elect Trump, which certainly looks like a lie at this point.

So, Mr. Speaker, I am starting to wonder if repeating a lie that the President told the American people is against House Rules.

Or maybe, it is accusing the President of lying that is, in the words of the Subcommittee Chairman, “casting aspersions.”

But let’s take a look. Here is the definition of the verb “to lie” from Merriam Webster’s dictionary: “to make an untrue statement with intent to deceive” — “to create a false or misleading impression.”

By those definitions, I would say I am on pretty solid ground from a factual standpoint the President of the United States has told lies.

Water is wet, dogs have four legs and President Trump tells lies.

There may be exceptions, but basically, all three are truthful statements.

Unless we are outlawing the truth in Congress. I think that pointing out lies told by our President is not only within the rules, it is our moral duty as elected leaders of a free nation.

So, I am left to wonder what it is about repeating the President’s words that so upset the Subcommittee Chairman, the Gentleman from Wisconsin.

And then I figured it out. It is upsetting to Republican Members of the House to hear the words of the President of the United States because they know they have to defend him as the leader of their party…and I can understand why that would make any human being uncomfortable.

Rep. Gutiérrez is in his 13th term representing the Fourth District of Illinois.  He is a Member of the Judiciary Committee and is the Chair of the Immigration Task Force of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.