Transcript: Sen. Michael Bennet on "Face the Nation," May 12, 2019

Bennet calls Trump "fiscally irresponsible"

The following is a transcript of the interview with Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado that aired Sunday, May 12, 2019, on "Face the Nation."


MARGARET BRENNAN: We turn now to Colorado Democratic Senator Michael Bennet. He's running for president, and he joins us from the campaign trail in Des Moines, Iowa. Good morning to you. Sir, you sit on the Senate Intelligence Committee. The decision to serve a subpoena to the president's son set off this firestorm among Republicans who were saying, "The Mueller report is in, let's just move on." If Mueller chose not to prosecute and he had access to the transcripts from Congress's interview with Donald Trump Jr., what more is this? Why is this necessary?

SENATOR MICHAEL BENNET: Well, first- first of all, Congress's business here is not to- it- we're- we're not doing a criminal investigation. This is not about prosecuting anybody. This is about understanding how serious, and it was profoundly serious, the Russian's interference in our elections were in 2016, an interference that the president of the United States refuses to acknowledge. And then I would say second, with respect to the Mueller Report, this is just in the early days. 

I know the president and his attorney general and allies would like to just wish the report away, but the American people are just starting to see this report. The Congress has not yet received an unredacted version of the report. We have not yet seen the underlying documents for the report and the report is report that conclusively says that the- the special prosecutor could not clear the president of obstruction of justice. So, I think while they want to- they do want to wish it away, I think that Congress has an important oversight role to perform here, including the Senate intel- Intelligence Committee.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So it- it sounds like you're saying Republicans may be overreacting?

SEN. BENNET: I think that what you've had is a sequence of events that started with the attorney general of the United States acting like the president's defense lawyer and summarizing Mueller's document falsely and implying that somehow the document didn't show wrongdoing by the president. And Republicans like Mitch McConnell have taken advantage of- of that false summary- summary that Mueller has said is false and have said, "case closed." And we haven't- the American people haven't even heard Bob Mueller testify yet. So, I think that they ought to allow this to take its course.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well Bob Mueller had an issue with context, I don't know if he used the word false. But in- in terms of the Mueller report, it- it did make clear, as you have said in your personal view, that the president committed impeachable offenses. That sounds like you're saying you support impeachment. What is the point of that process if it's just going to be dead on arrival in a Republican controlled Senate?

SEN. BENNET: Well, I've said that I don't- I- I'm not ready to say the president should be impeached. I said that he- I think it looks from the report as though he's committed impeachable offenses. I think there is every reason why the investigation in the Congress should continue and then we should make an assessment of where it leads. You're quite right that as long as the Republicans are in charge of the Senate and they are- want to bury their heads in the sand about what's going on here that it's unlikely that that process will go through all the way to the end, which is why I think Nancy Pelosi has wanted to say, let's not jump to a conclusion on impeachment yet. Let's let the process go forward and see where it takes us. And by the way, ultimately I think where it will take us is to replacing Donald Trump in 2020, which is what we need to do.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well and that's something that you personally would like to see happen there. As- as we mentioned you are in the field yourself. You wrote an op-ed recently saying that while you do support a hardline approach to China, you think President Trump has been really bad for farmers. Do you support a third bailout for farmers?

SEN. BENNET: I- I- I think it shouldn't be necessary. I think- look Donald Trump has shown himself to be the most fiscally irresponsible president we have had in generations. Here's a guy who's managed to rack up a two trillion dollar deficit at a moment of full employment in the country. It is almost impossible to do that.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So what would you do differently--

SEN. BENNET: And his solution--

MARGARET BRENNAN: --if you are commander in chief--

SEN. BENNET: What I would do--

MARGARET BRENNAN: --leading these talks?

SEN. BENNET: Yeah. What- what I would do differently is mobilize the world against China's mercantilist trading policies, which the president is right to point out have been unfair. But putting tariffs on our allies, putting tariffs on even the Chinese that are actually taxes on American producers, American farmers, taxes on the American consumer and taxes on the American worker, I think are completely the wrong way of doing this, and I can assure you the Chinese have a longer attention span that Donald Trump has. 

So I have just spent three- two days with farmers in Iowa. I've spent time with farmers all over my state as well. They- they were facing low commodity prices. They're- in my state, they're facing drought. In Iowa, they're facing flooding and- and now on top of that, they're facing the retribution by- by- by our trading partners and our foes. And that's a direct consequence of the president's immigration- or trade policies. His immigration policies also have been terrible for farmers in my state. People are selling their equipment because they can't hire people to be able to do the work they need to keep their farm or their ranch or their dairy operation in business. And- and it's ironic because he- he has such massive support among so many of these folks, but we'll see what happens over time.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Alright, Senator Bennet, as we said you are on the campaign trail, we appreciate you joining us today. We'll be back in one minute with an interview with former Defense Secretary Robert Gates. Stay with us.