Transcript: Senator Chris Coons on "Face the Nation," January 10, 2021

Coons: Trump "has lost the right to be president"
Coons: Trump "has lost the right to be presid... 05:47

The following is a transcript of an interview with Delaware Senator Chris Coons that aired Sunday, January 10, 2021, on "Face the Nation."


MARGARET BRENNAN: We want to go now to Delaware Democratic Senator Chris Coons, who joins us from Wilmington. Good morning to you, Senator.

SENATOR CHRIS COONS: Good morning, MARGARET.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Is the Capitol safe?

SEN. COONS: I pray and hope that it is. It is more urgent than ever that we flood the zone around the Capitol with federal resources to ensure the safe transfer of power to President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris in 10 days when virtually the entire Congress will be assembled again and when these two next elected leaders of our nation will be inaugurated.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You're close to the president-elect who tweeted yesterday, "Our president is not above the law. Justice serves the people. It doesn't protect the powerful." What does that supposed to mean? Does he support potentially prosecuting President Trump?

SEN. COONS: Well, MARGARET, President-elect Biden is focused on the enormous challenges that will face him when he becomes president 10 days from now. It is up to Congress in the next 10 days, to work to ensure the safety and security of our country, to press successfully, hopefully, for President Trump to resign, or for Vice President Pence to enact what he can do under the 25th Amendment. President Trump, by his actions over the last two months since the election, has lost the right to be president and by the actions this past Wednesday and his failure to take any responsibility or show any remorse for it of significance,--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Right.

SEN. COONS:  --I think he doesn't deserve to be president anymore.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, he won't be in 10 days, regardless of what happens. Should he be prosecuted after he leaves office? You sit on Senate Judiciary. Do you think that would be appropriate?

SEN. COONS: I think there needs to be accountability for his actions. Whether that comes through the New York attorney general or the US Department of Justice we'll have to leave for now. But many of my Republican colleagues are now calling for healing and for us to come together.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Yeah.

SEN. COONS: I'll tell you that there can only be reconciliation with repentance. And I think the single most important thing that Republicans in Congress who helped facilitate this widespread conspiracy theory that somehow the election was stolen- and the most important thing that President Trump can do in these remaining 10 days is to stop those lies and to persuade their followers and supporters that President-elect Biden is the duly elected president of the United States. That's what Mike Pence certified on Wednesday night once we returned to the Capitol. That's what Senators Blunt and Klobuchar certified. That's an important next step if we are, in fact, going to have any healing.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You just heard Senator Blunt, who is in Republican leadership, decline to say if there be any sanction for the senators who stood on the floor even after the siege and continued to protest the certification of the election. Should there be consequences for them?

SEN. COONS: I've called for them to resign, and MARGARET, what I'll be looking for in the coming days and weeks is whether they take any accountability, whether they take any actions that will actually persuade some of their many voters and supporters and constituents that they know what they did was wrong. In the case of Missouri, Senator Blunt's home state and Senator Hawley's home state, the two major newspapers, former Senator Danforth, one of the major supporters of Senator Hawley, have all denounced him. The papers have called for him to resign.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Right.

SEN. COONS: And I think that's the sort of public indication that he's done something profoundly wrong here that should be followed by action from those in Congress who helped instigate this tragic event on Wednesday.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Would you vote to convict the president if the House does impeach him?

SEN. COONS: Yes.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And what would that serve, because, as you know, the argument against it from Republicans is that it would be furtherly- further divisive to the country and that it would derail President-elect Biden's legislative agenda.

SEN. COONS: Look, I understand the concerns that just as President Biden takes over responsibility for leading our nation through this tragic pandemic that we might be distracted by weeks in the Senate by a Senate trial. That's why I've called for President Trump to do the right thing finally and resign--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Yeah.

SEN. COONS: --or for Vice President Pence to secure the next 10 days through the 25th Amendment. MARGARET, we have two pandemics raging through this country right now. One of them is this COVID-19 pandemic and the other is a pandemic of division and distrust. The way to deal with them is by telling people the truth,--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Yeah.

SEN. COONS: --that vaccines work, that we need good role models in terms of masking and social distancing, and that this was a free and fair election where Joe Biden was elected. We need folks who are willing to stand up and tell the truth in Congress.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Domestic terrorism is not technically a federal crime. The president-elect has called these attackers domestic terrorists. Should this be a federal crime?

SEN. COONS: Yes, and I'm encouraged that already 100 individuals have been arrested and charged with both state and federal offenses. Look, we narrowly avoided what could have been an even more tragic night. When I saw the images of folks rioting through the Senate chamber with zip ties and with weapons, a crowd chanting "hang Mike Pence." That is truly chilling. This wasn't just a disruptive riot. This was an attempted coup, the most significant in the history of our republic, because the purpose of these rioters was to interrupt the--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.

SEN. COONS: --certification of the vote that Joe Biden is the next president. This was an alarming and tragic event.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Senator, we're glad you're safe. We thank you for joining us today. And we will be right back with a lot more FACE THE NATION. Stay with us.