Transcript: Senator Tim Scott on "Face the Nation," June 28, 2020

Scott condemns "terrible" video showing Trump supporter yelling "white power"
Scott condemns "terrible" video showing Trump... 06:56

The following is a transcript of an interview with Senator Tim Scott that aired Sunday, June 28 2020, on "Face the Nation."


JOHN DICKERSON: South Carolina Republican Senator Tim Scott. Good morning. Good to see you, Senator.

SENATOR TIM SCOTT: Good morning, JOHN. Hope you're doing well.

JOHN DICKERSON: We're doing alright. I want to ask you about this-- 

SEN. SCOTT: Yes, sir.

JOHN DICKERSON: --national moment that's testing all of us.

SEN. SCOTT: Yes. 

JOHN DICKERSON: Protests in the street like we haven't seen since the 1960s. I'd like to ask you what I asked the vice president. What do you hear in the voices of those protesters?

SEN. SCOTT: Well, I hear from the- from the non-violent protesters what we hear consistently is this frustration that was ignited by eight minutes and forty six seconds of George Floyd pleading for his life, saying he could not breathe and then at the end asking for his mother. What I hear is a concern and a frustration that I have felt as a person who's been stopped by law enforcement 18 times in the last couple decades, including this year. What- what I hear in the protesters is, enough already. Let's get to the table and get something done. And what I hear from the protesters is, this is our country. We want our voices to be heard in this country. And what I did, because I heard and have felt the frustration of the protesters myself, is I drafted legislation that said, we see you, we hear you, and let's move together forward. This is a very interesting and important moment. Interesting in that the country's response, JOHN, has been amazing. White folks and black folks, brown ones and yellow ones have come together in the streets of our cities to say we want to be a unified country. I say thank you and God bless them.

JOHN DICKERSON: In the moment of unity, Senator, I don't want to ask you this next question, but I must. The president of the United States promoted to his 82 million Twitter followers today a video in which somebody screamed "white power." I'm going to play that now for those who've not seen it.

(PLAYS CLIP)

JOHN DICKERSON: Senator, that's on the president of the United States twitter feed, to 82 million people. Your reaction?

SEN. SCOTT: Well, he should just take it down. There's just- there's nothing much to be said. That is inappropriate, and it should be taken down.

JOHN DICKERSON: But you were talking about unity. You're- you just made a very compelling case, just now--

SEN.SCOTT: Absolutely.

JOHN DICKERSON: -- about hearing this agony and this cry of protesters and- and coming together for unity. White power is not unity.

SEN. SCOTT: Well, no. Certainly it absolutely is not. I mean, I live in a city where the Civil War started. And I'm so thankful that the people of South Carolina, specifically in Charleston, we've evolved as a people. And that is a great thing. The truth of the matter is when you hear things like that racist chant towards white power, we should have the same response with the same type of energy that we have for those folks we've- we know have been disadvantaged for so long. We should stand up and say that's not right. And I'm saying the exact same thing now. 

JOHN DICKERSON: Right.

SEN. SCOTT: That's not right. But that's not the entire conversation. And that's not the entire clip. That was a terrible display that I saw in- in- in that video. I watched the whole video--

JOHN DICKERSON: Yeah.

SEN. SCOTT: --before I came on the show. The whole thing was terrible.

JOHN DICKERSON: Yeah. Let's get to your legislation, because that's your effort to try to get at this moment we're on. 

SEN. SCOTT: Yes, sir.

JOHN DICKERSON: Why did the bill break down in the Senate?

SEN. SCOTT: Well, JOHN, it's hard for me to tell you exactly why. My- my suspicion is that the presidential politics and choosing a vice president was a part of that conversation. What I offered my friends on the other side was not five amendments based on Senator Schumer's letter to us saying that there were five major issues. I said, let's fix those five. They came into a room and we were going to chat about it. They said there's 20 things that we'd like to change. I said, I'll give you 20 amendments. And I'll start by offering the First Amendment myself on chokeholds. Our legislations were about the same, except for in the House legislation they had blood flow as well as air flow. They suggested that my legislation did not include blood flow. I- I will add the carotid in there, and we'll make that change. We could do so much together for those folks in the streets today. We missed a golden opportunity, not because the bills weren't similar enough, but because what the House wanted was not what the Senate Democrats wanted to have a conversation about.

JOHN DICKERSON: So it seems to me, Senator, there's both a procedural question and then there's a policy question in your disagreement with Democrats. But I want to get at- you've suggested this is about vice presidential politics. Do you think Democrats are discuss- talking to you in good faith as you try to revive what might happen in the Senate or is- or is it passed that?

SEN. SCOTT: Well, listen, I am- I'm going to be open to having a conversation this week in a few days with some of the leaders who put together the House bill. I fashioned much of what I saw from what I liked in the House bill. There are things in the House bill that I do think are not in the best interests of the country. Let me- let me just be clear on that fact. While I do talk about the fact that there are a lot of things in common. There are a few things that I believe makes it worse on cities, makes it worse on the most vulnerable populations within those cities. And what we're seeing manifesting in New York City today is a- is a byproduct of those concerns that I have about the House legislation. There's a reason why murder is up 79% over the numbers last year, 64% shooting increase over the numbers last year, just in New York City. When you start demonizing and stereotyping all law enforcement as evil and bad, you start putting targets on their backs. You start seeing them withdraw from some areas and that creates a powder keg. That's not good for the nation. 

JOHN DICKERSON: Senator,--

SEN. SCOTT: And so the demonizing of law enforcement is not a part of my bill because I don't want law enforcement to demonize African-Americans. We have to be on the same page.

JOHN DICKERSON: You- so quickly, Senator, on the question though,-- 

SEN. SCOTT: Yes, sir.

JOHN DICKERSON: --of accountability and holding police accountable to- with this question of qualified immunity, basically, the other side is saying they get let off the hook unless they do something that's excessively egregious. Is there any way to fix that or come to common ground on that?

SEN. SCOTT: I think there's a way for us to do so by doing two things. You have to bifurcate the issue. Number one, law enforcement officers being civilly- not prosecuted, but to get- exact money from law enforcement officers as a means of fixing this problem, I don't agree with that at all. Giving the victims' families an opportunity to get more money from cities and counties and states, absolutely.

JOHN DICKERSON: OK. Senator Scott, we're very grateful you're with us. We've run out of time. Thanks so much. 

SEN. SCOTT: Oh, darn. Thank you, JOHN. 

JOHN DICKERSON: We'll be back in a moment.