Transcript: Amy Klobuchar on "Face the Nation," October 27, 2019

Klobuchar says she would've left U.S. troops in Syria

The following is a transcript of an interview with Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar that aired Sunday, October 27, 2019, on "Face the Nation."


MARGARET BRENNAN: We're now joined by Minnesota Senator and 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Amy Klobuchar. Good morning to you Senator. 

SENATOR AMY KLOBUCHAR: Good morning, thanks for having me on Margaret. 

MARGARET BRENNAN: Thanks for braving the rain today. I want to ask you, of course, about the news of the day. The death of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

SEN. KLOBUCHAR: Well this was the takedown of a very, very dangerous terrorist. And so we have to take this moment to thank those that put themselves in danger. The decision was a good one and this is a guy that was responsible for the deaths of so many- so many Americans, so many innocent people. But as Susan Rice just said a few minutes ago, this doesn't mean that ISIS isn't still there. We still have, of course, over 100 of the ISIS fighters that the defense secretary has said got out recently of their confinement and then we have others that are in a prison and it's unclear who's going to be guarding that prison. So there are problems not just in Syria, but all over the world and that's what concerns me overall about this president's decision making and about what he has done in terms of breaking down our alliances, leaving the Kurds who gave us intelligence for this operation, leaving them for slaughter.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You- you rightly thank the U.S. military and intelligence for this. President Trump signed off on this raid.

SEN. KLOBUCHAR: Well he did.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And this is a political win for him--

SEN. KLOBUCHAR: Yes. 

MARGARET BRENNAN: You're trying to run against him--

SEN. KLOBUCHAR: Yes.

MARGARET BRENNAN: --to become the next commander in chief.

SEN. KLOBUCHAR: Yeah. 

MARGARET BRENNAN: Isn't this going to make it harder to run against him when he can say he's the guy who got Baghdadi? 

SEN. KLOBUCHAR: Look I have in the past, for instance, when the president made the decision to respond to Assad's use of sarin gas, I commended him for that decision. But just because you make some decisions, and you must as a commander in chief and you must make those decisions for the security of this country, doesn't mean that his foreign policy overall has not been a disaster. The decision to get out of the Iranian agreement, the nuclear agreement, which has allowed Iran to now bust the caps to enrich uranium. The decision to get out of the Russian nuclear weapons agreement. The decision to get out of the climate change agreement at a time when our world is warming, sea levels are rising, and we're seeing floods and fires all over the world--

MARGARET BRENNAN: So that--

SEN. KLOBUCHAR: -- those were very bad decisions.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So unlike other Democratic candidates would you pledge to keep a U.S. military presence in Syria?

SEN. KLOBUCHAR: I would not have removed those 150 troops. I would not have done it. I would not have given in to Erdogan-- 

MARGARET BRENNAN: But would you keep them? 

SEN. KLOBUCHAR:  when he called. Yeah I would have kept them there. 

MARGARET BRENNAN: So--

SEN. KLOBUCHAR: --and I would have- this would never have happened. But now this damage has been done. So the question is what do you do now? Well you keep trying to use your leverage to do everything to defeat ISIS and you try to do all you can for humanitarian aid and you certainly try to use the leverage that we have remaining to help the Kurds.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You sit on the Senate Judiciary Committee, meaning you have some oversight there of the Justice Department. Do you think those ISIS leaders, who are responsible for the deaths of Americans, all should be extradited for prosecution here to the United States?

SEN. KLOBUCHAR: Yes, I think that we should go after those leaders. But the point of this is not really exactly what we're going to do now. The question is what do we do going forward when the American people have a decision to make? Do they want to keep a president in that has been so divisive in this moment where this morning we are unified behind getting rid of terrorists, that's for sure, but every morning probably tomorrow and the next day he wakes up and he starts going after immigrants, going after people of color, dividing people and then not having people's back when it comes to bringing down pharmaceutical prices or doing something about infrastructure or doing something to help our farmers who his trade war has left devastated in so many parts of the country. So I think the American people can come together say, "yes we want to defeat a terrorist," but then they look at what he does every single day to this country and they want new leadership.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You have criticized some of your fellow Democrats also running for the nomination for over promising in terms of providing free services like free college education and the like. But you are now offering two-year college and technical schools. 

SEN. KLOBUCHAR: Yea. 

MARGARET BRENNAN: How are you going to pay for that and who gets hit with the tax?

SEN. KLOBUCHAR: Yeah.

MARGARET BRENNAN: If there is one.

SEN. KLOBUCHAR: So, I have always supported that. Those are the fastest rising degrees right now in terms of the number of jobs we're gonna have. 74,000 openings for electricians. Nearly that many for plumbers, for medical tech people, for home care workers-- 

MARGARET BRENNAN: But what is the cost to that?

SEN. KLOBUCHAR: -- that is where this is. The cost of this- my education plan is costs approximately five hundred billion dollars. And I would pay for it by taking the capital gains rate, which been a rip off for average Americans, and changing that to the personal income rate. I have shown everything, Margaret, how I'm going to pay for it because I think we've got a president that has added up debt, trillions of dollars hasn't shown. I want to make college more affordable. Double the Pell Grants and do this in a smart way instead of paying for rich kids to go to college, which is sadly--

MARGARET BRENNAN: So, if--

SEN. KLOBUCHAR: -- what my opponent's plans do.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So if you make about four hundred thousand dollars a year or so your taxes are going to go up, is that correct?

SEN. KLOBUCHAR: For people under my plan? Yes. 

MARGARET BRENNAN: Quickly on impeachment: you believe that the whistleblower should testify, is that correct?

SEN. KLOBUCHAR: I think it would be good to have the whistleblower testify. I don't know that it is necessary to have the whistleblower testify, because we have people like Ambassador Taylor that have come forward with firsthand knowledge. The whistleblower was simply reporting on something that he had heard from others. I think what's most important, is to keep getting the testimony of people that were actually there on the scene. That Ambassador Taylor testimony was devastating. It showed that this was not just a one phone call, that this had been a plan for a long time, for the president to put the interests of America behind his own personal interests to get dirt on an opponent. It's a pattern. He does it for his business. He does it for his partisan interests. He does it every single day.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Senator, I know we have to leave it there, but I want to thank you for braving the weather. But, also, I know you had to be somewhere for a campaign event and you stayed around to- to talk to us--

SEN. KLOBUCHAR: Well, this is an important day. 

MARGARET BRENNAN: --on this important day. 

SEN. KLOBUCHAR: So, thank you.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Thank you and we will be right back in a moment.