Transcript: Amy Klobuchar on "Face the Nation," February 16, 2020

Klobuchar says she's raised $12 million since last debate
Klobuchar says she's raised $12 million since... 06:44

The following is a transcript of an interview with Senator Amy Klobuchar that aired Sunday, February 16, 2020, on "Face the Nation."


MARGARET BRENNAN: And we're back with Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar. She joins us this morning from Las Vegas. Senator, good to have you. 

SENATOR AMY KLOBUCHAR: Great to be on, MARGARET. Thanks.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Do you take Attorney General Barr at his word that he would not take legal measures for political purposes and that his personal intervention in the Roger Stone case had nothing to do with the president's directive?

SEN. KLOBUCHAR: You know, I think he needs to go under oath, and I'm very glad that he's going to have to testify before the House Judiciary Committee. I also hope he comes over to our Senate Judiciary Committee as well, because that's where we're really going to be able to get that answer. The president is constantly tweeting out different requests of the Justice Department. And I think here where you've got career prosecutors that made difficult decisions about how to handle this case, they got a conviction, they put their all into it, and then they get undermined on the sentencing. And they- one of them leaves the Justice Department, the other one gets transferred off the case. That is not normal at all. You have to allow justice to have its course, and that means no political intervention.

MARGARET BRENNAN: All right. We'll see if that hearing happens, Senator. But I want to get to your candidacy now. You are a 2020 contender. You did well in New Hampshire. Nevada's a very different state. It is more diverse. So that means you also need to broaden your support. How do you do that?

SEN. KLOBUCHAR: Well, I'm very excited about our chances here. We just had a double digit poll out of one of the newspapers. I also just got the Las Vegas Sun endorsement, and we've had huge events here, over a thousand people in Reno. We're building up our staff all over the country, actually in the Super Tuesday states, because finally, I've gotten the resources I need, over $12 million just in the little over a week since the New Hampshire debate--

MARGARET BRENNAN: But you have to pl--

SEN. KLOBUCHAR: --because regular people-- 

MARGARET BRENNAN: --play a little catch up there. 

SEN. KLOBUCHAR: That's for sure. But for me, I look at Las Vegas and Nevada, I see this.

I'm the leader on tourism in the U.S. Senate. Big- big employers here. Number two, I've been good on union issues and stood by working people. My whole background is a union background, my grandpa, my dad, my mom. Third, two women U.S. senators here. Majority women in the legislature. They are lo- used to electing women and they're very proud of it. And then finally, since the moment I got to the Senate, I worked on immigration reform. Ted Kennedy asked me as a new senator to be in the small group that worked on it when George Bush was president. Unfortunately, we came close. We didn't make it. I worked on it again when Obama was president. And as president, I will get it done. So I'm actually been having a lot of fun out here, not to mention it's nice to be in the sun.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, roughly 19 percent of Nevada's population was born outside the U.S. I mean that's a significant portion, fifth largest in the country. You're getting criticized this week because you are just now making some changes to your immigration position. And you also said English- you reversed your position on whether English should be the national language. Do you think that reversal this week actually won you support?

SEN. KLOBUCHAR: That wasn't this week. And- and understand not everyone's following every twist and turn of this campaign. But I said this way, way back, months and months ago, back in Miami when I was asked by a journalist. That- that was an early vote on English as the official language. A number of other Democrats voted the same way, and actually nearly all Democrats eventually voted for it. It was in the base bill. I know that's not a good idea because it would be hard to translate brochures and voting materials and the like. And I was glad after working on the latest version, the 2013 immigration bill, that that wasn't in there. It shouldn't be in there.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But on the specifics of what you would do differently, Joe Biden did an interview with Univision in which he was pressed over the deportations of three million people during the Obama administration. He says now that was a big mistake. Do you believe it was a mistake for the administration to deport people who did not have criminal records?

SEN. KLOBUCHAR: I think that that went way too far, yes. And I think you've seen a lot of that across our country. The question is, what do we do going forward? And to me, the very straightforward answer is comprehensive immigration reform. It would save $158 billion in reduction on the deficit in just 10 years. And part of that money, when you talk about deportations, could be used for our asylum process, to improve that. Part of it could be used to help those Northern Triangle countries and allow people to seek asylum from those countries. I would immediately, as president, stop the heinous practice of separating kids from their parents at the border in my first 100 days.

MARGARET BRENNAN: I also want to ask about issues around race. Michael Bloomberg has come under some criticism for his time as mayor: stop-and-frisk, past public comments he's also made that are now viewed as insensitive, to say the least. You yourself have said there are racial disparities in the criminal justice system. You were a prosecutor. And if you look at the black and white prison rates in the county where you served, there are disparities. So for you as a candidate, do you have regrets about your tenure?

SEN. KLOBUCHAR: I think anyone involved in the criminal justice system, including me, we know that it must be changed. And I, back then, knew that there were issues. We actually saw a 12 percent reduction in African-American incarceration rates during my eight years leading the office that handled about ten to fifteen thousand cases a year. I pioneered a new form of eyewitness identification, working with the Innocence Project to try to reduce racially discriminatory misidentifications. I reviewed all of our DNA serious cases to check to make sure there were not issues with those cases. And I diversified the office. But as for what Michael Bloomberg did, I- stop-and-frisk, that is unconstitutional. And I'll say this, I am on your show right now, MARGARET, answering these tough questions. Where is he? He just keeps running a bunch of ads. He'll probably have more ads during your show in certain states than I'm on answering your questions. I think he cannot hide behind the airwaves and the money. I think he has to come on the shows. And I personally think he should be on the debate stage. I'm never going to beat him on the airwaves, but I can beat him on the debate stage. 

MARGARET BRENNAN: Senator Klobuchar, thank you very much. 

SEN. KLOBUCHAR: Thank you, MARGARET. It was wonderful to be on.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And we'll be right back with a lot more FACE THE NATION. Stay with us.