Transcript: Rep. Val Demings on "Face the Nation," August 30, 2020

Demings says Trump "not capable" of calming protests
Demings says Trump "not capable" of calming p... 06:17

The following is a transcript of an interview with Florida Congresswoman Val Demings, that aired Sunday, August 30, 2020, on "Face the Nation."


MARGARET BRENNAN: We turn now to Florida Democratic Congresswoman Val Demings. She joins us this morning from her district in Orlando. Good morning to you. 

REPRESENTATIVE VAL DEMINGS: Good morning. It's great to be with you.

MARGARET BRENNAN: I want to start on what's happened overnight, given the violence in Portland where Black Lives Matter activists clashed with these pro Trump supporters. What is your- your message to the activists themselves? It's been more than 90 days of protest. Now you have a fatality. Do things need to de-escalate?

REP. DEMINGS: Well, let me just say this, after listening to the interview you had with Acting Secretary Wolf, MARGARET, this is exactly what happens when Homeland Security, the intelligence community, the military and others who were charged with protecting our homeland are politicized. And so listening to the secretary just really sends a strong message that the president is not capable of fulfilling his duties, which his primary responsibility is the health, safety and well-being of the American people. Wouldn't it be--

MARGARET BRENNAN: But what about the activists themselves? What is your message to them?

REP. DEMINGS: Yeah, but wouldn't it be nice for the president of the United States to take to the microphone or the airwaves and send a message for peace and calm, talking to the protesters, talking to the demonstrators, but also talking to those who come in and loot and steal and do harm, those who are on his side, his supporters who have come in and taken the lives of people trying to send a calming and peaceful message. And this is a time, more now than ever,--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Yeah.

REP. DEMINGS: --that we need to hear from the president of the United States. But the chaos and the disorder and the lawlessness that we are currently seeing, that's Donald Trump's America.

MARGARET BRENNAN: I understand the point you're trying to make here. But when it comes to the activists, and I understand how well-intentioned the protest may be, but there have been a number of incidents, including here in Washington, D.C., where the other day your- your congressional colleague, Senator Rand Paul, was encircled by a mob shouting Breonna Taylor's name. He said he feared for his life. Has some element of these protests gotten out of hand?

REP. DEMINGS: What I am saying is that in America, we know that demonstrators have the right to demonstrate guaranteed by the First Amendment. 

MARGARET BRENNAN: Right.

REP. DEMINGS: However, we are a nation of laws, and anyone on any side in any place who violates the law has to be held accountable. We don't condemn people who are obeying the law because of those who do not obey the law. We can do both and we have done both in this America, and that's what we need to do. And again, we need the president of the United States to show some leadership during this situation. But that may be asking for too much from President Trump.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, you- you know that the president's slogan is law and order. He's been using it repeatedly in recent days. Don't incidents like the one we just saw or what's happening in Portland play into your opponent's argument?

REP. DEMINGS: MARGARET, as you know, I served on the Intelligence Community- Committee and the Judiciary Committee. I served as an impeachment manager. It is quite interesting to listen to President Donald John Trump talk about being the law and order president when no one has violated the law in 2020 more than he has. We're talking about a president who just had his kickoff for his re-election on the grounds of the White House. And we all know that that was a violation of law. Clearly, again, those who obey the law--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Yeah.

REP. DEMINGS: --should be able to peacefully demonstrate and exercise their First Amendment right. Those who do not, up to and including the president of the United States, regardless of the circumstances, should be and must be held accountable.

MARGARET BRENNAN: The White House argues they got permission from the Office of Special Counsel for that. But I want to move on to ask you about what's happening in Wisconsin. President Trump says he's going to visit Kenosha, Wisconsin Tuesday. Is candidate Biden or Senator Kamala Harris, should they go? Do they plan to go to Kenosha as well?

REP. DEMINGS: Well, I'm not really sure what Vice President Biden's plans are. What I can say is that, you know, there's a lot going on in the grounds in Wisconsin right now. And every time a high profile visit is- is made, there are a lot of resources that have to go into that visit. However, as the president of the United States, whether it's a natural disaster or civil unrest, I think should take the time and the resources to go and be on the ground and, again, provide that peace and calm. And again, MARGARET, as we talk about what is going on, civil unrest that is happening, unfortunately, in our nation, it's something we're certainly familiar with and have been familiar with for decades. But I would say as we try to resolve this situation, I think as we have these discussions, it's important that we stop talking about the police and start talking to the police--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Quickly--

REP. DEMINGS: --and start talking with the police.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Quickly, since you were a former police chief, what happened to Jacob Blake shot seven times. The police were responding and knew there was a warrant out for his arrest. Is there in any way any justification for what happened?

REP. DEMINGS: I think what we have to do is all take a deep breath. If we want justice to be served, we've got to wait until a thorough and complete investigation is done. We do not want to play judge, jury and executioner, whether we're talking about Mr. Blake or we're talking about the police officer. We want the facts and we must have all of them if we want to see justice served. And I believe we all do.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Congresswoman Demings, thank you for joining us. 

REP. DEMINGS: Thank you. 

MARGARET BRENNAN: And we'll be right back with Kentucky's attorney general, Daniel Cameron. Stay with us.