Cuomo challenges GOP lawmaker on gun violence: 'You guys have never done a damn thing'

CNN’s Chris Cuomo confronted Republican Rep. Matt GaetzMatthew (Matt) Gaetz Ex-Rep. Katie Hill: 'Gross' for Gaetz to invoke my name House panel opens probe into Tom Reed over sexual misconduct allegations House Ethics Committee opens probe into Gaetz MORE (Fla.) about gun violence on Thursday night, saying the lawmaker was using victims of murders by undocumented immigrants to make political arguments.

Gaetz made headlines during a Wednesday congressional hearing on gun violence when he said President TrumpDonald TrumpRomney blasts end of filibuster, expansion of SCOTUS McConnell, GOP slam Biden's executive order on SCOTUS US raises concerns about Iran's seriousness in nuclear talks MORE’s long-desired border wall would prevent gun violence.


Cuomo criticized Gaetz's argument, saying “a wall has got no business in the discussion at a hearing about what to do about these mass shootings and crimes that maybe, maybe can be prevented.”

“It seems like a naked provocation,” Cuomo said.

Gaetz, citing data from the Bureau of Crime Statistics, argued that 1 in 5 people charged with murder by the federal government is an undocumented immigrant.

"If you end illegal immigration, and if you had a wall, some of these people who are dead at the hands of illegal immigrants who shot them might not be,” Gaetz said. “That's my whole point."

Cuomo said it was the responsibility of Congress to do something about gun violence as a whole, not just when there is a mass shooting.

“You guys have never done a damn thing until it became a tool of opportunity for you to talk about immigration. These mass shootings keep happening and you do nothing except go on TV and say, ‘We’re not a law away.’ And now you sit in front of a room of victims’ parents and you talk about the wall. That’s an issue," Cuomo said. 

The CNN host said universal background checks or access to mental health care would be more “reasonable” measures to combat gun violence than a border wall.

“So I’m not allowed to talk about illegal immigration at a gun hearing but now all of a sudden access to universal health care is on the table?” Gaetz asked.

Cuomo then challenged Gaetz to name a mass shooting committed by someone who entered the country illegally, saying the congressman was only “attacking a little slice of the problem.”

Gaetz said Cuomo seemed to think “only the mass shootings matter,” adding that he already mentioned three shootings committed by undocumented immigrants.

“They’re an article of convenience for you now,” Cuomo replied.

“You think it’s convenient for us that people are dead at the hands of illegal aliens?" Gaetz fired back. 

The lawmaker angrily asked if the anchor thought Republicans were “that craven” to use murders committee by undocumented immigrants for political gains.

“Absolutely,” Cuomo said plainly. “Yes.”

“That is so irresponsible,” Gaetz shouted back.

Cuomo said it was “irresponsible of the people doing it” by putting “a premium on certain lives and not others.”

The contentious exchange occurred one day after Gaetz clashed with Manuel Oliver, the father of a Parkland, Fla., school shooting victim, and attempted to have him removed from the congressional hearing. 

Gaetz said on CNN that he called out Oliver’s loud interruptions because of the reactions of a 24-year-old rape survivor who appeared “intimidated” by Oliver’s yelling.

"I looked at her and I could tell that she was scared," Gaetz said. "I know people react to trauma differently, but I was not trying to get Mr. Oliver thrown out or removed like your network has suggested."

Gaetz said he was trying to ask committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) about how the altercation should be handled.

“You don’t just get to show up in Washington and because a terrible thing has happened to you that you get to jump up and scream and yell,” Gaetz told Cuomo.