VIDEO - Sen. Chris Coons today joined CNN New Day to discuss the government shutdown.

“This President has trouble hearing yes. Democrats are saying yes, we want to invest in border security and find a fix to our immigration system, but demanding a border wall and threatening to use his executive powers to do so is no way to accomplish his goals,” said Sen. Chris Coons.

“I hope to hear from the President tonight some empathy for the hundreds of thousands of American families who work for the federal government who are going to be affected by this shutdown.

“What I am unfortunately hearing from President Trump all of the time and is reflected in some of the Vice President’s misleading use of statistics is that there is an attempt to create the mistaken impression that we are facing a flood of terrorists across an open southern border and that Democrats somehow welcome or support that. None of that is accurate,” said Coons.

“We need to move forward with protecting Mueller investigation particularly with what is happening at the Department of Justice with an acting attorney general.”

Coons on his comments on Fox News:

Well, John, I said that it is a minor step and in the next sentence what I clarified was saying that the biggest challenge of anyone trying to negotiate with President Trump is that he is going to take one step forward and two steps back.

Take the Syria example first. Just two weeks ago or three weeks ago, the president made an abrupt and ill-conceived public announcement that we would withdraw the troops from Syria, and it has taken weeks and the resignation of his Secretary of Defense to persuade him to change that to a lower and condition-based withdrawal and last night, he undermined his own national security adviser by saying, no, no, I have not changed anything.

And he has done the same thing on his campaign promise of the concrete border wall to be paid for by Mexico when his departing Chief of Staff John Kelly, former Secretary of Homeland Security, several weeks ago said that ‘We gave up on a concrete border wall months ago and we are serious about steel slats.’

The President the next day said that ‘We have never changed our mind on concrete wall.’

So, I frankly don’t expect him to hold to that position for more than a few minutes let alone an entire day, so I was accepting that steel slats are preferred by the Department of Homeland Security over a concrete wall. I was not saying that I think that we should be pouring billions of dollars into a border barrier. We should instead prioritize real border security investments at the land ports of entry which is where the vast majority of our challenges really are.

More on the shutdown:

I will tell you what is a crisis is 800,000 federal employees, including 40,000 law enforcement officers, corrections officers, who will be going without a paycheck.

 

We have a problem with a broken immigration system and with border security and like every other Democrat in the Senate, I have voted to spend more and to invest more on improving border security, but frankly, if the President tries to reach out and extend his executive power and try to get our military to build the border wall, declaring this a national security emergency, I think that he is going to face a significant and likely successful challenge in court.

On Vice President Pence:

What I am unfortunately hearing from President Trump all of the time and is reflected in some of the Vice President’s misleading use of statistics is that there is an attempt to create the mistaken impression that we are facing a flood of terrorists across an open southern border and that Democrats somehow welcome or support that.

 

None of that is accurate. At land ports of entry, which are the legal points of entry where we have got, you know, tractor-trailers and cars coming in and out of the United States every day, we have a problem.

 

We have not invested enough in securing those ports of entry and that is where the vast majority of folks with some criminal background have passed into the United States. We should do that, there is bipartisan support for that. The idea that there are thousands of potential or real terrorists flooding across the desert between the United States and Mexico in Arizona for example or Texas is JUST not accurate.

 

Most of the folks cited in that brief clip who came to the United States who are people of interest came in through airports. We should work together, we should reopen the government, I hope to hear from the President tonight some empathy for the hundreds of thousands of American families who work for the federal government who are going to be affected by this shutdown. I hope that I will hear some movement towards recognizing and I don’t expect him to fully capitulate, but I expect him to compromise.

He is the first American president to lead a shutdown of his own government. A shutdown that started while Republicans controlled the House and the Senate. This President has trouble hearing yes. Democrats are saying yes, we want to invest in border security and find a fix to our immigration system, but demanding a border wall and threatening to use his executive powers to do so is no way to accomplish his goals.

On Mueller:

One of the positive pieces of news out of Washington today, John, is that Senators Tillis and Graham will join Senator Booker and me in reintroducing our Special Counsel Independence and Integrity Act.

 

This is a bill that we worked on together and introduced in the last Congress to make it harder for the president to fire without cause Special Counsel Mueller. We often were told in the last Congress that we would never get a hearing, we did, that we not get a vote on Committee, we did.

 

It got out of Committee with senior Republicans voting for it, but Majority Leader McConnell refused to give it a vote on the floor, and even when Senator Flake joined me three times in forcing a floor vote which McConnell objected to. The biggest criticism that we faced is that the House would never take it up and pass it, now we have a Democratic-controlled House where the new chairman of the Judiciary Committee Jerry Nadler said it is his top priority.

We need to move forward with protecting Mueller investigation particularly with what is happening at the Department of Justice with an acting attorney general.

On Trump:

I can’t speak to the President’s mind. He certainly has lots of advisers capable of providing him with factual and detailed briefings, one of the things that we have heard repeatedly and widely covered in the administration is how he does not read briefing materials of any depth or detail and he spends a lot more time watching cable TV news than he does reading the intelligence briefings and meeting with his own senior advisers and that concerns me greatly, because the job of president is one of the most complex, most difficult, most demanding jobs in the world.

 

And having a government full of seasoned and nonpartisan professionals who can advise him on things like national security is so that he would listen. My hunch is that he is choosing to hear more of what is broadcast on a few news outlets than what is provided for him from the professionals from the intelligence community.