Tucker Carlson and Rep. Maria Salazar (R-FL) lit up Fox News Wednesday night with an interview that recalled the good old days, back when journalists asked more pressing questions than preferred ice-cream flavors and politicians knew they’d have to be prepared to defend their choices.
The verbal brawl began with Carlson playing a clip of Salazar from last week, in which she responded to the question of whether or not the United States should impose a no-fly zone over Ukraine, knowing that would mean the U.S. would be downing Russian aircraft, with an enthusiastic, “Of course!”
“‘I don’t know what it will mean, but you know freedom is not free,'” Tucker stated, quoting Salazar. “Now, we made fun of that answer last week when we first showed you that clip but now, what we mocked is the consensus in Washington. ‘We don’t know what’s going to happen, we’ve got to do it immediately.’ That’s the argument you’re hearing.”
That set the snarky tone for the ensuing interview, which was full of interruptions, contradictions, and “don’t dodge the question” call-outs.
“So, since you have called for war with Russia, how do you think that war, once it begins, would play out?” asked Carlson.
“I think that’s a hypothetical question,” Salazar replied. “I think that we should concentrate, Tucker, on what Zelenskyy asked Congress today.”
Salazar was referring to the remarkable virtual appearance of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy before Congress, during which Zelenskyy urged President Biden to be a “leader of peace” and enforce a war-provoking no-fly zone.
Ukrainian President Zelenskyy showed this powerful video to Congress, depicting Ukraine before and during the invasion.
The video ends with a familiar call for a no-fly zone: "Close the sky over Ukraine." pic.twitter.com/8nG0w9sv4y
— The Recount (@therecount) March 16, 2022
“I’m sorry, I can’t–and I’m in no way trying to cut you off, but I can’t let you glide over that,” Tucker interrupted. “You said we should shoot down Russian planes. That’s of course war. Since you’ve called for that–”
“I didn’t say that,” Salazar insisted.
“You just said that on the tape we played,” Tucker countered.
That quote, claims Salazar, “was taken out of context.” What she was really saying was, “of course” she knew the dire implications of a no-fly zone. She then stated that a no-fly zone should be on the table, and we should give Zelenskyy everything he wants.
“No troops on the ground, let’s give him the MiGs and the S-300s, what he needs to defend his own airspace, sp he will create his own no-fly zone,” Salazar stated. “And that’s what I think we should have done months ago. It’s embarrassing that this guy, this president who is under the bullets, has come to Congress to beg for us to give him something we should have done a long time ago.”
Carlson was quick to express his sympathy for the people of Ukraine.
“I think a lot of people sympathize with that,” he said. “Let me just say that I think a lot of people who saw President Zelenskyy’s speech today and have seen the atrocities in Ukraine feel deep sympathy for the Ukrainian people and want this to end. I’m certainly among them. But I’m wondering–”
“I’m sure you are,” Salazar quipped. “So I am asking you, then what should we do? Ok? So what should we do then?”
“Always and everywhere, especially for the U.S. government or one of its elected representatives, act on behalf of the core interests of the United States government,” Tucker retorted. “It’s really super simple.”
What isn’t so simple is providing Ukraine with weapons.
“If the United States is providing weapons to one side in a war, how is that not participating in the war?” Carlson asked.
The Cuban American representative then launched into a reply that involved the tyranny of Fidel Castro — a reply Carlson promptly shut down.
“I’m sorry,” Tucker interjected, “I’m not going to take the anti-communist lecture from anybody because of course I agree with you. But my question is if we are providing weapons to one side in a war, I think it’s fair to ask, maybe the other side would say that’s an act of war against us. And if that happens, then what next? And to not think about that seems negligent, but since you are on the Foreign Affairs Committee, I know you have thought it through. So tell me your views and what would happen next.”
To that, Salazar replied with, “What difference does it make?”
“Tucker, we have been providing Javelins and Stingers and ammunition. We have been providing a lot of military armament, so what is the difference between that and the MiGs and the S-300s? What’s the difference?”
“Unfortunately, the United States has fallen into Vladimir Putin’s trap,” she continued. “He is the one dictating what we are going to do, what we’re not going to do.”
“So we’re letting Putin control our behavior,” Carlson said. “That seems like a loss right there.”
Carlson then referenced Putin’s approximately 6,000 nuclear weapons and asked, “So, are we concerned at all that he might use a nuclear weapon against the United States? Is that a concern? Is that something that you consider as you recommend these policies?”
This time, Salazar’s “Of course!” sounded much less self-assured.
The heated conversation then pivoted to immigration.
Last month, Salazar co-sponsored a bill that looks to give illegal immigrants amnesty so long as they first stay out of trouble for 15 years.
Called the Dignity Act, it could grant up to 13 million people who broke the law to get here a pathway to citizenship, according to the Tampa Bay Times:
“The Salazar bill would allow undocumented immigrants who have lived in the United States for more than five years to stay and work here without the threat of deportation. It also offers them a path to citizenship, but it’s a long one: They couldn’t apply for permanent residency and a green card — required before seeking citizenship — for at least 15 years.”
Carlson pointed out the hypocrisy of calling for military assistance to protect Ukraine’s borders while supporting a bill that only makes the U.S. border weaker.
“I’m wondering if Russians fleeing Putin, do you believe should be allowed to start new and better lives in Ukraine, and I’m betting you’d say, ‘no,’ because you believe in Ukrainian nationalism, but not American.”
Salazar emphasized that she is looking to giving undocumented immigrants “dignity.”
“I’m not talking about amnesty–” she said.
“Of course you are,” Carlson responded.
“By the way,” he added, “I’m not against those people, I just can’t help notice the contrast between your desire to send MiGs to Ukraine to preserve its borders, but not here. Should we send the U.S. military to the Mexican border, since you have admitted that tens of millions of people have come here illegally? That our borders are porous. They’re not defended. They’re open. Should we send the U.S. military to the Mexican border?”
Salazar maintained that securing our borders is a priority.
“You know very well,” she told Carlson, “that if we deport those 11 or13 million, we may not have food by Friday.”
She then attempted to discuss the supply chain issues, but Carlson wasn’t going to let her deflect his question.
“I think that everyone understands this, that we have other supply chain issues,” Carlson said. “And by the way, I’m not attacking anyone living in this country legally or illegal. I’m asking about borders. All of us are appalled by the violation of Ukraine’s borders. You don’t seem as appalled by the violation of our borders by tens of millions of people, so let me ask you for a third time, would you support the U.S. military securing the United States border tonight? Or on the same time table as sending MiGs to Ukraine? How ’bout that?”
Salazar again tried to play the “that’s a hypothetical” card, but Carlson wasn’t having it.
“No, it’s a very straightforward question,” Carlson snapped back. “What are you talking about? You’re a lawmaker!”
“Just say it,” he challenged. “You’re not for it. And you’re for the Ukraine, but not here.”
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