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Buttigieg denies Biden dismantled Trump border policies in clash with CNBC host: 'Literally not true'

U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg sparred with CNBC host Joe Kernen on Tuesday over President Biden's more aggressive border policy.

U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg strongly denied that the Biden administration recently changed its policy regarding the border after being confronted on it by CNBC’s Joe Kernen Tuesday.

Kernen insisted that Democrats only started caring about the border once it became a major campaign issue, a notion that Buttigieg countered as "literally not true."

The government official also claimed that former President Trump and Republicans have been the ones sabotaging Biden’s attempts to secure the border by killing the recent bipartisan border bill. 

Kernen replied that the Democratic talking point has generated "frustration" among voters who have witnessed the Biden administration’s actions. An argument ensued between the two, complete with a lot of crosstalk.


Buttigieg fell into the debate when touting Biden’s accomplishments as president, noting that if Biden has fallen short on anything, it’s because the GOP won’t work with them.

He used the border as an example of this, stating, "It was especially disappointing to see what happened with the border, right? You got congressional GOP – talked about the border every chance they got, so you would think that they would be interested in addressing it…"

He continued, "…and yet when a bipartisan bill – put together by one of the most conservative members of the Senate, and Democrats working, negotiating, making tough, tough decisions that both of their respective bases were going to have trouble with, came and hammered that out ­­ – it looked like there was going be a chance to do something with real resources at the border."

Buttigieg then blamed Trump for breaking this deal apart, saying he killed it "with the chill that he put on congressional Republicans."

The CNBC host stated that Biden and company didn’t care about solving the border crisis until it was clear it was going to become a major campaign issue, and "only then did the Biden administration get interested in it."


Buttigieg attempted to dispute that notion and began talking over Kernen, but the host pushed back and got another point across.

Kernen said, "Every time we hear those talking points that suddenly it was Republicans who ruined the border — that’s why people get so frustrated. We know what President Biden said about inviting people in. We know that he got rid of the things that were keeping the border closed that President Trump had put in. We know that he got rid of all of those, so when you say it’s not his fault –"

Buttigieg cut in, denying the host’s view of things, "That’s literally not true. It’s literally not true."

Both continued to talk over each other, with Kernen asking if the secretary was aware that more than 7 million people have crossed the border since Biden got into office, and Buttigieg arguing that Biden only got rid of the "policy to tear children out of the arms of their parents."

"But it is not true some of the other things that have been suggested," Buttigieg added, while Kernen replied, "This is part of the problem and why there’s a disconnect."

Buttigieg continued to blame Republicans, saying they’ve used this issue as a political "cudgel" and that "they would rather keep the problem going for political uses than solve the problem and risk the chance that the president shares in the credit for that."

Kernen said, "The reason that some of these numbers stay where they are is because it just seems like, instead of actually owning some of the issues that we have, instead of acknowledging that the president maybe has lost the step, the administration keeps saying don’t believe your lying eyes."

"Respectfully, Joe, I think congressional Republicans are saying don’t believe your lying eyes, which is why they’re polling at about 15 percent right now," Buttigieg shot back. 

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