‘Cheap Political Points’: Here’s Who Raphael Warnock Called Out Over Laken Riley’s Murder


Republicans have acted swiftly to make sure that what happens to Laken Riley, the 22-year-old nursing student murdered in Athens, Georgia, doesn’t happen to anyone else. The House passed the Laken Riley Act last week, which was introduced by Rep. Mike Collins (R-GA), whose district includes Athens. He also invited her parents as his guests to the State of the Union address last Thursday, though they decided to grieve at home. When it comes to Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-GA), though, his support is a little more dodgy.

On Sunday, Warnock appeared on CNN’s “State of the Union,” where the senator was asked about the murder that had occurred in his own state, as well as how an illegal immigrant, Jose Antonio Ibarra, has been charged for the crime. 

While host Jake Tapper referred to the murder as “a horrible tragedy,” he didn’t mention the suspect by name and referred to him as “an undocumented immigrant from Venezuela.” It was particularly curious that he couldn’t even bring himself to refer to Ibarra as an illegal immigrant as he acknowledged that Ibarra “was released after crossing the border illegally, had a criminal record in New York, was still a free person.”

Tapper recapped how Riley’s name came up during the State of the Union address, thanks to Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) forcing Biden to address the young woman in his speech, though he referred to her as “Lincoln Riley” as he did so. Former and potentially future President Donald Trump also discussed the tragedy during a Saturday night rally in Rome, Georgia, and met with Riley’s friends and family members. 

“The Rileys are your constituents,” Tapper reminded the senator. “Is it not true that there were policy failures that led to this tragic murder?”

When Warnock gave his condolences, he did so from his position as a pastor. “And I can tell you, as a pastor who has done hundreds of eulogies and presided over all kinds of funerals, there is no grief worse than when nature is tragically reversed and, rather than the children burying the parents, the parents have to bury the children,” he said.

However sincere Warnock might have been, what he said as a politician, and one who represents the Rileys, made the matter worse, though, especially given what he considers to be “unfortunate.”

“And so it’s unfortunate that, in this moment of grief, there are those who are trying to score cheap political points. The border must be secured. We know this. There’s agreement about that on both sides, which is why we had a bipartisan piece of legislation before us just a matter of weeks ago,” he continued.

The senator, like so many others in the Democratic Party, have tried to promote a bill they claimed would give Biden the needed authority to secure the southern border, despite how he already has the authority and has actually used his authority to make the border less secure. The disastrous border bill was killed last month, just days after the text was finally released, as it would not have secured the border. 

“And the fact that there are those who walked away from this bipartisan legislation, or at least a chance to debate it, and now they’re trying to score political points in the wake of a young woman’s death, that is craven politics at its worst. It’s what turns people away from politics,” Warnock went on to claim. “And I think we can do much better than that. We can secure the border. And we can make sure that we are doing everything we can to make sure our children are safe.”

Tapper did not ask for follow up on such a topic, and the segment moved on. It’s still worth emphasizing, though, that the Republican-controlled House already passed the Secure the Border Act last May. 

When Riley came up again later during the program, it was during a panel discussion in which CNN commentator Scott Jennings called out Biden walking back his acknowledgement that Ibarra was “an illegal.” As we’ve been covering, such a word choice during Thursday’s address in the president’s exchange with Greene led to total freakout on the left, and after some fumbled responses in the days prior, Biden told MSNBC’s Jonathan Capehart in an interview from Saturday that he regretted the word choice and that he should have said “undocumented.” Biden also bent over backwards to sing the praises of immigrants in that interview. 

Also on the CNN panel was Biden’s former White House Communications Director Kate Bedingfield, who went with a “language matters, language is important” narrative and insisted “that is ludicrous framing” to claim Biden apologized for the word choice.

As Katie covered earlier, this indeed looks to be the narrative of the Biden White House. “I want to be really clear about something the president absolutely did not apologize. There was no apology anywhere in that conversation,” Principal Deputy Press Secretary Olivia Dalton claimed to reporters during a press gaggle on Monday afternoon. 


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