Transcript: Sen. Kamala Harris on "Face the Nation," June 23, 2019

Harris: Trump to blame for Iran tensions

The following is a transcript of the interview with Sen. Kamala Harris that aired Sunday, June 23, 2019, on "Face the Nation."


MARGARET BRENNAN: CBS News political correspondent Ed O'Keefe was also in Columbia Saturday. And despite a case of laryngitis, he caught up with California Senator Kamala Harris and asked her if Democrats should give the president credit for calling off a strike on Iran.

SENATOR KAMALA HARRIS:  I don't believe that anyone should receive credit for a crisis of their own making. And, there is no question in my mind that the current occupant of the White House, President Trump, put in place a series of events that led to that event.

ED O'KEEFE: How would a President Harris fix the problem?

SEN. HARRIS: Well frankly, I believe that we need to get back into the Iran nuclear deal. I- I- I would- I would strengthen it. I would include ballistic- ballistic missile testing. I think that we can strengthen what we do in terms of monitoring and verification, of progress. But there's no question that a lot of negotiation with a great deal of depth took place over a long period of time to reach that agreement, and it was it was an agreement that was being complied with by all parties.

ED O'KEEFE: Where do you rank Iran in terms of threats to the United States?

SEN. HARRIS: I am on the Senate Intelligence Committee. On a very consistent basis, I receive classified briefings about the threats to our nation's security. And on the list of potential threats, especially in terms of nuclear threat, North Korea is of course on that list, and Iran is on that list and there are others. But we have to conduct ourselves in a way that we are smart about what we do to have one and one goal only, which is ensuring that our nation is secure. And it cannot be the goal to- to express one's ego and to engage in gamesmanship without much serious regard to the consequence, and I think that's what we've seen in this president

*COMMERCIAL*

ED O'KEEFE: The president is set to meet with Vladimir Putin at the G-20. Would you meet with him if you're president?

SEN. HARRIS: It depends. I mean listen, I believe that we do have to have open lines of communication and I will never foreclose that as a viable option. But let's be clear about this president's relationship with Russia the current president of the United States has taken the word of the Russian president over the word of the American intelligence community, on the issue of- of the election in 2016. The current president of the United States takes the word of a North Korean dictator over the word of the American intelligence community when it comes to an American student who was tortured and later died. The current president of the United States takes the word of a Saudi prince over the word of the American intelligence community when it comes to a journalist who was assassinated, a journalist who has American credentials. So, I would not do that. I trust the intelligence community--

ED O'KEEFE: But you might have to meet with Putin--

SEN. HARRIS: --of the United States. But it would not be without an appropriate amount of one, reading the briefing book. Let's start there. Sadly that we even have to talk about that as being a requirement. It would not be without meeting with leaders in our Department of State. Me- meeting with our military leaders to determine what is the smartest and best course of action for the United States. These are not just about relationships that are based on some- some trust that are re- maybe previous relationship that that president has with the president of Russia it has to be based on what is in America's best interests not self-interest.

ED O'KEEFE: Let's talk about Joe Biden.

SEN. HARRIS: Ok.

ED O'KEEFE: You've criticized him for praising his ability to work with people who had very different views.

SEN. HARRIS: No that wasn't my criticism.

ED O'KEEFE: What was your criticism?

SEN. HARRIS: I applaud any effort to work across party lines around common goals and common interests.

ED O'KEEFE: What bothered you?

SEN. HARRIS: Praising and coddling individuals who made it their life works and built their reputation off of segregation of the races in the United States. That's a problem. I would not be a member of the United States Senate if those men that he praised had their way. I wouldn't.

ED O'KEEFE: And one of the things they did is, and he inferred this, is they might have called someone like him who was younger 'son,' they might've called a black man, 'boy.' And that's been part of the issue for a lot of African-Americans--

SEN. HARRIS: Of course it is, of course it is--.

ED O'KEEFE: We've talked to here and across the country, is that offensive to you?

SEN. HARRIS: We cannot be ignorant of the history of race in this country. And certainly anyone who is a leader should not be. That is a very loaded term, loaded with a history that includes extreme racism, violence. Discrimination prejudice you name it. All of that. It's a very loaded term. And I think it is very important that we all who. Who are leaders, or profess to be leaders that we choose our words carefully understanding the significance and the power of our word.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You can see more of Ed's interview with Senator Harris on CBS news platforms including CBSN and on our website.