December 14th, 2014

Sen. Schumer & Rep. King on State of the Union

CNN’s State of the Union with Candy Crowley features interviews with Senator Chuck Schumer and Representative Peter King. Senator Schumer described the dynamics of the internal and external relations of the Republican and Democratic parties.  He also provided his prediction on the 2016 elections, as a strong proponent of Hillary Clinton.  Representative King, member of the House Intelligence Committee, defends the CIA following the scathing new Senate report about the agency’s interrogation methods.


Sen. Schumer on the internal schisms in congress: “I think the soul of the Democratic party is economic issues, and I think on economic issues, we are united. And I think Elizabeth Warren, even if people don’t agree with her, she’s constructive. She’s not like Ted Cruz.”

Rep. King on the CIA : “I think it’s important for people like myself and people in the media to speak out and say the people at the CIA did an excellent job, that the people of the CIA operated under the most extenuating circumstances, that they’re responsible for stopping attacks against the United States and that we have to stop this self-loathing.”

Full transcript after the jump.

CROWLEY: Joining me now is Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer.

Thank you for being here.


CROWLEY: It’s a pleasure to have you in house.

SCHUMER: Candy, before — before we get into — I just want to congratulate you. It’s been an amazing 27 years. You’re the best of the old-school journalism. You study it thoroughly. You ask the hard questions. You get the answers. And there’s no gimmicks or anything else.

We are all going to miss you, Democrats, Republicans, everybody.


SCHUMER: So, job well done.

CROWLEY: Thank you very much. And I didn’t — I didn’t pay him to say that or anything.

Thank you. That’s very — that’s very…

SCHUMER: She didn’t even know.

CROWLEY: No, that’s very nice of you. Thank you.

Let me ask you to step back and look at how this bill passed. You know full well what the arguments were. You had in your party the Warren wing, as we call it now, and then those looking to compromise in the leadership. Then we had in the Republican Party the Tea Party at odds with their more moderate wanting to do a compromise.

So when you look at it, what does this “cromnibus,” as we now call it, tell you about the state of the Democratic Party?

SCHUMER: Well, I think it shows that Democrats will work together with Republicans when we get things — when they want to get things done in both cases.

CROWLEY: Some of them.

SCHUMER: Well, certainly enough to make the majority.

But I think the big news today was the fight, the open fight between Mitch McConnell and Ted Cruz on the — there are huge differences in the Republican Party. On the floor of the Senate, we saw the soul of the Republican Party being debated.

Ted Cruz was in the well pushing his so-called constitutional point of order, which risks shutting down the government. Five feet away from him was Mitch McConnell imploring senators to vote the other way. And the vote, unfortunately, was about 50/50 on the Republican side.

And so that makes me worry a great deal, because if, after the terrible, terrible brickbats Republicans took when they shut down the government a few years ago, half the Republican senators are still willing to risk it again, despite the fact that their leader went against it, I’m worried about the next two years.

The chasm in the Republican Party is huge.


SCHUMER: And one more point. It’s going to get worse because, first, you have the presidential candidates in the Senate pulling things to the right. Second, when they’re in the majority, the Tea Party is going to feel its oats.

We want to work with the Republicans to help the middle class, but I’m worried the Tea Party is going to pull them much too far over.

CROWLEY: OK. Let me — I want to — since you — you brought up the schism in the Republican Party, I want to show you something that we have, and it’s about how the potential 2016 candidates voted on this bill.

Now, these are the candidates who voted no, Senator Rand Paul, Senator Marco Rubio, Senator Ted Cruz and, from your side, Senator Elizabeth Warren, Senator Bernie Sanders.

So there was commonality among 2016 candidates. They didn’t like this bill. Isn’t that representative of the Democrats also having a problem with their…


CROWLEY: Well, you did — you do have the Warren wing.

SCHUMER: Yes. But…

CROWLEY: You did have her trying very hard. You had Nancy Pelosi on the House side.

SCHUMER: Yes, let me say this.

I think that the differences between — among Democrats are small compared to the huge chasm of Republicans. On the fundamental issues that face us, the economic issues that we need to address to get the middle class moving again, to get middle-class incomes going again, there’s amazing unity on the Democratic side, from Elizabeth Warren, through Hillary Clinton, all the way to Joe Manchin and some of the more conservatives.

You look like — on issues like minimum wage, and equal pay, and infrastructure construction, helping people pay for college, the Democratic Party is unified. And if we put together a strong economic message aimed at the middle class, not only will it unify our party, as the Republicans are truly divided, but we can actually, actually do really well in 2016.

CROWLEY: Well, let me ask you about that, because Nancy Pelosi on the House side tried to get her folks in the Democratic Caucus to vote against this bill. They were upset because they thought Wall Street was getting a big old break in here. And the president disagreed with it.

I want to play you two quick bites of both of them.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think what the American people very much are looking for is some practical governance and the willingness to compromise.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), HOUSE MINORITY LEADER: I’m enormously disappointed that the White House feels that the only way they can get a bill is to go along with this.


CROWLEY: Now, when the majority leader of the Democrats says she’s enormously disappointed in the Democratic president, it’s more than enormously disappointed. She’s upset with him, as are Democrats from Elizabeth Warren…


CROWLEY: … and on the House side.

Tell me about the relationship between Democrats…


CROWLEY: … and the president.

SCHUMER: OK, let me say this first.

I think that what happened in the House, I thought Nancy Pelosi handled it extremely well. She knew the government couldn’t be shut down.

CROWLEY: She lost, right?

SCHUMER: But she also knew that she had to show that Democrats are needed. And so she provided a veto-proof, a veto-sustainable group to say no.

What — anyone who thinks that Democrats are going to be irrelevant in the upcoming Congress, if you look at the House and the Senate, in both cases, the Republican leaders needed Democrats to actually get the government moving. Their great plans of showing they could govern fell apart when their right wings deserted them and they had to turn to Democrats.

So I thought Pelosi handled it well. There may have — and I think the idea that the bill passed, but at the same time House Democrats showed that they could sustain a presidential veto, because on almost — most of the major enemy combatant issues, as I mentioned, we’re going to be united, was a very, very good thing. CROWLEY: Well, overriding a presidential veto from your own party would be — would be a big deal.

But let me ask you, as — as we run out of time, as always, two questions. The first is, you would argue with the fact that there is an equal amount of battle in the Democratic Party for the soul of the Democratic Party. You don’t think that’s what’s happening…


CROWLEY: … with the people pushing Elizabeth Warren to run?

SCHUMER: I think the soul of the Democratic Party is economic issues.

And I think, on economic issues, we are united. And Elizabeth Warren is — even if people don’t agree with her, she’s constructive. She’s not like Ted Cruz and say, shut down the government or don’t fund things if I don’t get my way. She’s working hard to move things in her direction. And that’s a good thing.

Ted Cruz, on the other hand, he — people say he’s a great political mover and shaker. He made huge mistakes yesterday. He helped — he mis…


CROWLEY: Helped you with your — with your nominees.

SCHUMER: Ted Cruz misfired.

He helped us get nominees that Republicans didn’t want. He embarrassed Mitch McConnell, who had gone home Friday night and said, see you on Monday. And he got Republicans publicly for the first time talking against him.

So I think comparing the two wings of the party is like night and day.

CROWLEY: And just finally and really quickly, I know you want her to run.


CROWLEY: But is there any doubt in your mind that Hillary Clinton will run?

SCHUMER: Well, look, Hillary hasn’t asked — told me, and I haven’t dared ask her.

But I will bet she’s running. I will bet she will be a great candidate. I will bet she will win by a large majority. And then Democrats can help the middle class, whose incomes have been declining for 15 years, in a very united way.

Indeed, the program that Hillary, if she’s the candidate, will put together will have the support of every wing of the Democratic Party. On economic issues, the key issues, we’re united, they’re very divided, and need us to get anything done.

CROWLEY: I think you got your message across.


SCHUMER: Hope so.

CROWLEY: Senator Schumer, thank you so much for being here.

SCHUMER: Godspeed.

CROWLEY: I really appreciate it. And thank you so much.

SCHUMER: Thanks.


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CROWLEY: Joining me is Congressman Peter King, a member of the House Intelligence and Homeland Security committees.

Congressman King, thank you for joining me.

I wanted to try to move this conversation forward a little bit and ask you a couple of questions about the future. If — and we all fervently hope this won’t happen — a U.S. soldier is taken prisoner by a member of ISIS or a member of al Qaeda, do you think the U.S. has lost the high ground in what is acceptable behavior for people who capture our folks?

REP. PETER KING (R), NEW YORK: No, not at all.

First of all, what ISIS does is behead people. They carry out the most brutal type of attacks, rape, sex slaves, all of that. And for anyone to be comparing what the CIA did to what ISIS does, what al Qaeda does is just wrong.

I think we have caused tremendous damage to the U.S. reputation, but this is a self-inflicted wound with a very partisan, selective report, which I think does a terrible injustice to the men and women of the CIA.

CROWLEY: And regardless of how one feels about the report, I think, on both sides, there is an agreement that this does harm to the CIA, which is this — good heavens, they do entire TV series around the brave men and women of the CIA.

So where does the CIA go to get its reputation back, whether you feel it’s been unfairly taken away from them or not? How does it fix this?

KING: Well, it would be very helpful if people on the outside helped, if the president of the United States, if leaders in the House and the Senate came forward and gave the CIA credit for what it did.

It’s going to be difficult to overcome the damage that was done by Senator Feinstein and her report. I think it’s important for people like myself and people in the media to speak out and say that the CIA did an excellent job, that the CIA operated under the most extenuating circumstances, that they’re responsible for stopping the attacks against the United States, and that we have to stop the self- loathing.

I mean, this is — to me, the burden is on us. The burden is on people in positions of influence to stop hating ourselves and to stop hating those who we ask to do the job.

And so I — listen, I feel for the men and women out there in the CIA who — they’re wondering, if they’re doing today what they’re told to do, five years from now what’s going to happen.

For instance, with President Obama, I support his drone policy. Suppose five or 10 years from now, a Senate report comes out and says that he’s guilty of human rights violations, he’s guilty of war crimes because of all the innocent people that were killed by drone attacks? What happens to us then?

I mean, as Americans, we have always stood together. During World War II, many, many civilians were killed by American forces in Dresden, in Tokyo, other places. But, as a country, we didn’t tear ourselves apart.

CROWLEY: But, Congressman…

KING: …until (ph) we had the moral standing.


What I was going to ask you, the truth is, you know, perception whether in Washington or across the globe, sometimes can be more powerful certainly than the reality any of us see. So the report is out there, the feeling is that the CIA crossed the line, did some pretty horrific things. Going forward, I wonder if there is some way to right this ship.

And I want to read you something that was part of an op-ed that former senator Bob Kerry wrote. He was on the Intel committee.

KING: Right.

CROWLEY: I’m sure you know him.

And he wrote, “Our intelligence personnel who are once again on the front lines fighting the Islamic state need recommended guidance from their board of governors, the U.S. Congress.” How about that?

KING: Yes, and they got the guidance back in 2002. They were told what to do by the U.S. Congress back in 2002. They did it and now they’re being attacked for it.

I think Senator Kerry also said, I give him tremendous credit for this, Senator Kerry also said he thought this is a very partisan report basically written by a very partisan staff. And I think it’s important to point that out. And the Congress did tell the CIA what to do. The CIA told the Congress what they were doing and Congress, the people in positions of power, approved it and now they’re turning on them. And I find that totally hypocritical.

CROWLEY: Congressman Peter King, we thank you so much for joining us on this Sunday morning. I appreciate it.

KING: Thank you, Candy. And good luck to you, Candy.

CROWLEY: Thank you so much. I appreciate that.

KING: Thank you.

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