Transcript: Sen. Dianne Feinstein on "Face the Nation," July 30, 2017

Feinstein on North Korea

North Korea test-fired an intercontinental ballistic missile Friday -- its second test of an ICBM this month. 

On Sunday, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, called North Korea's latest moves a "clear and present danger to the United States." She also discussed health care -- and more, in an interview on "Face the Nation."

What follows is a transcript of the interview with Feinstein, which aired July 30, 2017, on "Face the Nation."


JOHN DICKERSON: And we're joined now by the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, California Senator Dianne Feinstein. Welcome, Senator. I want to start with the other committee you're on, the Senate Intelligence Committee, on this question of North Korea. You know the intelligence. What- what do you make of the latest moves by North Korea?

SENATOR DIANNE FEINSTEIN: Well, I make it as a clear and present danger to the United States. I've spent time on the intelligence and at the briefings, and done as much reading as I possibly could. And I'm convinced that North Korea has never moved at the speed that this leader has to develop an ICBM to put solid fuel, to have an interesting launch device, and to have a trajectory which, as of the latest analysis, would enable it to go about 6,000 miles and maybe even hit as far east as Chicago.

We can't have that. To me, it points out the danger in isolating a country, that they go to the science and the technical know-how to show their brute force, not to handle the isolation. I think the only solution is a diplomatic one. I'm very disappointed in China's response, that it has not been firmer or more helpful.

And I think that the administration, and this is one of the reasons that I hope General Kelly will be able to be effective, even beyond a chief of staff, is to begin some very serious negotiation with the North and stop this program.

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Sen. Dianne Feinstein on "Face the Nation," July 30, 2017 CBS News

JOHN DICKERSON: Let me move on to health care, which fell apart this week in the Senate. Often in these instances, a group of bipartisan senators goes somewhere, maybe in a quiet room.

SENATOR DIANNE FEINSTEIN: Right.

JOHN DICKERSON: And try and work. Is that happening at all? Is there any chance that that could emerge out of this failure this week?

SENATOR DIANNE FEINSTEIN: Well, the vote just happened. So we don't know that right now. But I think there's a big lesson learned in this, John. You can't take a bill as big as this one, write it with a select group of people in a back room, not let one of the political parties even see it until the Friday before a vote comes up, and think that this bill is going to pass.

And you can't take 16 million people, 15 million people, 20 million people, those were the three bills, and remove them from health care. And this skinny bill, you know, would see premiums begin to go up 20% next year. So my view is that we have to go regular order. Have the hearings, enable the--and begin with some of the specifics where we know we need to change.

JOHN DICKERSON: Let me ask you, though, Republicans say, "The reason you can't work with Democrats is that the minute we start to talk, Democrats say, 'You must include the individual mandate,'" and for Republicans, that's a deal-breaker. So they say, basically, there's no reason to talk because of this big obstacle of the individual mandate.

SENATOR DIANNE FEINSTEIN: I'll give you a reason to talk. The reason to talk is the insurance industry and what's happening across the United States. And it's a very serious thing. Because you've got more than a million people who want to participate in the exchanges who are without carriers. And you've got several million who only have it, don't have a choice of insurance carriers.

Now I think we need to take a look at this. What is wrong? Is it the fact that insurance is- is levied based on individual state mandates and so you have all 50 states to deal with? Should there be regional marketplaces or one marketplace with specific federal guidance rules for this? We need to look at that. And you have real problems with the subsidies for people under $47,000. You earn $48,000 and you get nothing and your insurance can cost you $800 to $1,000 a month, over 20% of income at $50,000 a year.

JOHN DICKERSON: Let me ask you now quickly before we go, is on Jeff Sessions, your former colleague as Senator, what do you make of the President's conversations with him? Chuck Grassley, your colleague on the Republican ranking on the Senate said, "No- no Attorney General confirmation hearings."

SENATOR DIANNE FEINSTEIN: Well, Chairman Grassley has put the bit between his teeth and said that, "There will be no hearings, Mr. President, if you go ahead and fire Jeff Sessions." I think there has been sufficient opposition for the president not to do so unless, of course, what he really intends is to end up firing Mueller, which could well be the beginning of the end of his presidency.

JOHN DICKERSON: All right, Senator. We're going to have to leave it there. Thank you so much for being with us.

SENATOR DIANNE FEINSTEIN: Thank you.