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Transcript: Sen. Chris Murphy on "Face the Nation," May 26, 2024

Murphy: Gaza death toll is "boon" to terrorist organizations
Sen. Chris Murphy says the civilian death toll in Gaza is a "boon" to terrorist organizations 07:24

The following is a transcript of an interview with Sen. Chris Murphy, Democrat of Connecticut, on "Face the Nation" that aired on May 26, 2024.

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


MARGARET BRENNAN: So I want to start here on the Middle East. The president's National Security Advisor said, so far, Israel has been somewhat "targeted and limited" in what they're doing in southern Gaza. But the U.S. is watching to see whether "there is a lot of death and destruction from this operation, or if it is more precise and proportional." Are you clear on what the red line is here?

SEN. MURPHY: Well, what we know is that there's a humanitarian disaster unfolding right now in and around Rafah, we've not been able to get in significant shipments of humanitarian aid. And so no matter how many people are dying from Israeli military operations, there are people dying every single day from an inability to access food and medicine. This is ultimately accruing to the benefit, not the detriment, of terrorist recruiting. And that's my big worry here. There's a moral cost to the number of civilians that are dying inside of Gaza. But when you continue to withhold food and aid from the people, that ultimately makes these terrorist causes stronger, not just in Israel, but around the world. Our own intelligence experts have told us that this is having a generational impact on terrorism. And so for many of us that want Israel to bring this military operation to a close and focus on the future political settlement inside Gaza, it is in part because we worry that this is a boon to terrorism, to terrorism groups growing all around the world.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Right. But the National Security Advisor was suggesting there that the line hasn't been crossed yet. 


MARGARET BRENNAN: Looking at whether there's a lot of death and destruction, there already is a heck of a lot of death and destruction.

SEN. MURPHY: Yes, which is why I am amongst many of my colleagues who have caused- we've called on Israel to pause military operations to try to get this humanitarian nightmare under control, 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 the past few weeks is that as Israel clears out of certain areas, like northern Gaza, Hamas is just filling back in because there is no viable plan for governance. Israel has to take the time to both be less cavalier about the humanitarian costs, but also come up with a plan for what Gaza looks like after the fighting stops, and the fighting is going to stop at some point.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So I- I understand the intention behind building the pier, but $320 million, three soldiers injured, the thing is breaking apart because of rough seas. It- it's insufficient to need. Was it [a] mistake to do this?

SEN. MURPHY: No, it wasn't a mistake. It doesn't- there's nothing that the United-- 

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

SEN. MURPHY: Listen, I think there'll be some- some rough moments in the early going of trying to get this pier operational. But you are absolutely right, whether it's the air drops, or the deliveries on the pier, there's nothing that the United States can do that will substitute for the decision by Israel to open up crossings, to stop using these checkpoints as a means to interrupt the flow of vital goods. Israel has to make a commitment to solve the humanitarian crisis inside Gaza. The United States is not going to 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 actually has been going down in these warmer weather months. It- they went down in April, they went down in March. Is that just because of the Mexican government? If it's a Biden policy, why isn't the president claiming a success?

SEN. MURPHY: So, it is because of, I think, smart, effective diplomacy between the United States and the Mexican government. I don't know that it's permanent. And so I think we have to just recognize that without updating the laws of this country, without surging more resources to the border, we can't count on the numbers staying as low as they are today. And remember, today, you have about 3000 people crossing the border on a daily basis. That's still a high number compared to what we saw 10 years ago. And so for many of us, we are just heartbroken. We're sick over the fact that our Republican colleagues in Congress continue to vote against bipartisan border security that would give us the opportunity to actually give the president the resources and the authorities to make this a permanent change, to get the numbers under control on a permanent basis.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You're talking about the bill you helped author, and- and it was put up for a vote, which, they knew it was going to fail, it- this was about messaging. But, like, Senator Gary Peters, who's trying to help Democrats defend the majority in the Senate, was on this program last week, and he said absolutely, the president should be talking about the border more. Why isn't he?

SEN. MURPHY: So I- I agree that the American people want to talk about border security. And right now, the president has the opportunity to go out there and talk about a Democratic Party proposal negotiated with Republicans that would get the border under control. And a opponent President--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Or he could've spent months and weeks whipping support for it.

SEN. MURPHY: Or- and- President Trump's desire to keep the border a mess because he thinks that it helps him politically. This is as clear a contrast as has ever been available to 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 in deep on this bill that you helped author on this program, but for Americans who just want something done, you know, the ifs and buts really don't matter much. The president could take executive action and has been talking about it since back in February, when the Homeland Security Secretary mentioned it was being considered. Should he just get caught trying? Pull the trigger, do something on executive action?

SEN. MURPHY: The president has such limited ability to issue executive orders that would have an impact on the border. He can't conjure resources out of thin air. If he were to try to shut down portions of the border, the courts would throw that out, I think, within a matter of weeks. The only thing that will bring--

MARGARET BRENNAN: 212(f) authority that's being mulled here.

SEN. MURPHY: Yeah, I- I think the only thing that will 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 could get it to the president's desk. It is up to Donald Trump and Republicans as to whether they want to solve the problem at the border, or whether they want to keep the border a mess because it helps them politically in this upcoming election.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So, quickly, before I- I let you go here, there was a lawsuit that was brought this week by the families of those in Uvalde, Texas whose children died in Robb Elementary School. And you represent Sandy Hook, I know you follow this very closely. They are trying to bring suit against video game makers and Meta Platforms, which owns Instagram. What do you think of the premise of the idea that social media companies are, and vi- video comp- companies are to blame here?

SEN. MURPHY: Well, listen, there's no doubt that these social media companies are feeding violent content to our kids. I don't know the underlying dynamics of that legal case. But our social media companies have a lot to answer for, because these would-be killers whose brains are breaking often find inspiration for the crime that they are contemplating online. But the solution here, again, is the same. You have to pass legislation, the courts can't 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 homicides in this country have dropped by 20%. And that's something that's very, very important.

MARGARET BRENNAN: We're going to talk to Tony Gonzales who helped get that over the finish line as well, ahead. Thank you. We'll be right back.

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