Transcript: Rep. Elijah Cummings on "Face the Nation," June 24, 2018

The following is a transcript of the interview with Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Maryland, that aired Sunday, June 24, 2018, on "Face the Nation."  


MARGARET BRENNAN: We are back with Maryland Representative Elijah Cummings, he is the top Democrat on the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, which is the chief investigative committee in the house and I'm going to ask you about some of that in a moment. But I want to bring you back to the topic of the day which is immigration. President Trump describes the Democrats as purely resistance. Obstructionist. Being pro criminal and pro open borders. What exactly is the Democrats platform on immigration?
 
REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS: That we want to be humane. We want to make sure that these families are reunited after the president created this false crisis. And we - we want to get these families back together again we want to get rid of this zero tolerance policy that has been announced by the president. And we want to make sure as Senator Corker says, that people are given an opportunity to pursue, and legally pursue an opportunity to be a part of the United States of America.
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: When you say the zero tolerance policy for President Trump, the change there has been to criminally prosecute those who crossed the border with their children. Are you arguing that that should not be the case they should not be considered criminals?
 
REP. CUMMINGS: I think these are basically, these are misdemeanor charges. The problem is that. Sessions, Attorney General Sessions has said as you stated a little bit earlier that gang violence and domestic violence could not be used anymore with regard to asylum. Well everybody has a right to assert an asylum request. Here, we have a situation where they basically cut off, and Jordan said it too. They basically are trying to cut off people from even having that opportunity to assert asylum. So -
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Gang violence is obviously being discussed because it is such a huge issue for those fleeing from El Salvador.
 
REP. CUMMINGS: Yes. And it also and as far as domestic violence, it affects women tremendously.
 
BRENNAN: So the administration argues though that if you went back to the Obama era policy of prosecuting these individuals in civil proceedings, that it allows for what they call catch and release that individuals wouldn't be detained they'd be set free into the middle of the country and simply asked to come back.
 
REP. CUMMINGS: If you look at back at statistics you'll see that basically what happened was a huge percentage of those, overwhelming percentage those people were given ankle bracelets and basically allowed to stay with their families. And then, and they returned to court to go through the process. And I think that's -
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: But you understand -
 
REP. CUMMINGS: - a much more humane way to deal with people.
 
BRENNAN: But do you understand that to a large percentage of America that sounds like it's a get out of jail free card.
 
REP. CUMMINGS: No. Yeah I can understand it. But what we're doing now I think is far worse. We're placing kids, and by the way kids who will be harmed for the rest of their lives, and that's by the way child abuse. We're placing them in a bad situation. And again this is something that worked, and is a lot less expensive and by the - and we have no clue as to what this is costing the United States and how these contracted - contracts are being given out. The urgency right now is to get these young people back with their parents.
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: I want to ask you about sort of the question of the tone or lack of civility right now. Over the weekend, Sarah Sanders the president's press secretary was refused service at a restaurant in Virginia because of who she works for. Her father the former governor of Arkansas also tweeted out a photo showing M.S. 13 gang members, or claiming that's who these men were, and called them Democrat Nancy Pelosi's Campaign Committees some heard that as racist.
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: What do you make of- of this kind of discourse right now?
 
REP. CUMMINGS: First of all I think, as far as the restaurant incident, I think the restaurant should have served her. I really do. But this tone is horrible. But again, I think President Trump has created this, since he's become president and even before. He's basically giving people license to do state things that are ugly, and those things then turn into actions, as we can now see. But we've got to get away from this, and we've got to concentrate on what is important at this moment. And we've got to get a – he's got to be more competent. Even the policies that he likes, he has not been very good at executing. And so we- we've got to find a way to- to address that.
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Very quickly, anything that you want to respond to in terms of Peter Strzok, the FBI agent and--?
 
REP. CUMMINGS: I'm looking forward to hearing from him, but the Republicans have not- told us anything. We don't even know whether we'll be invited, Democrats, to the deposition.
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: Wow. Thank you very much, Congressman.
 
REP. CUMMINGS: Thank you.  
 
MARGARET BRENNAN: We will be back with more Face the Nation in a moment and a look at what the voters are saying about immigration.