CNN's Chris Cuomo hammered Press Secretary Josh Earnest Friday morning in a tough interview where he pressed the Obama official to explain why the president decided to take executive action on immigration instead of trying to work with the newly-elected Congress next year.
"The president promised not to do this," Cuomo begins in the video clip provided by CNN. The "New Day" anchor added that Republicans warned Obama that "if you care about working with us, don't do it, and then he did it. What's the calculation?"
Earnest defended the action by saying the president wasn't going to allow "House Republican abstractionism" to keep him from doing what he "legally" could. He went on to call Obama's action "legally unassailable" and compare Obama to George W. Bush and Ronald Reagan.
"But here's the problem," Cuomo responded. "The problem is how this was done may overshadow what was done because now the motivation is to stop this from happening, not to come up with their own plan. I mean, you had to see that coming, Josh."
When Earnest started to answer but then said, "let's back up a little bit," Cuomo interrupted and shot back: "You should back up more, Josh, because he's had a lot of time, too. ... The president had a lot of time, he didn't do it. Now all the sudden he has to do it?"
Earnest's response? "You may recall that the first couple years the president was in office we had the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, so we had a lot on our plate."
The press secretary concluded by saying Republicans really have given no indication they even want to work with Obama, to which Cuomo shot back: "You've had time, you've just had a new election, you know there's this desperation for congress to work with the White House. Yet you did the one thing that will forestall this. And you could have done it after you let them get their seats in. Let them have their numbers, see if they do it, if they don’t, then you could have done this.”
Watch the hard-hitting interview below: