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Full Court Press premiered today with guest US Representative and presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard. Below is a full transcript of the interview.
FULL COURT PRESS with Greta Van Susteren
Syndicated Sunday Show
Recorded September 7, 2019 (airs on Sunday, September 8, 2019)
Interviewer: Greta Van Susteren
Guest: Democratic Candidate Tulsi Gabbard
MS. VAN SUSTEREN: Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard is hitting the campaign trail, visiting towns like Charlotte, working to earn your vote. She joins us from Manchester, New Hampshire. Congresswoman, nice to see you.
REP. GABBARD: Great to see you, Greta. Congratulations on this first show.
MS. VAN SUSTEREN: Thank you for being here. But before I get to the issues that I want, we just heard about uniting communities across the country. Congress is coming back this week, and the House Judiciary Committee is planning on voting on an expanded impeachment inquiry. Do you support this?
REP. GABBARD: I don’t. You know, I think it’s important for us to think about what is in the best interest of the country and the American people, and continuing to pursue impeachment is something that I think will only further to tear our country apart. Make no bones about it: We need to defeat Donald Trump. But I think it’s important for our country’s sake and our future that the voters in this country are the ones who do that, and I believe that we will.
MS. VAN SUSTEREN: Well, you’re also in the House Financial Services Committee, and that Committee has made inquiries to the President, looking for banking information. Do you support that or not support that in light of the fact that you don’t support the thing, what the Judiciary Committee wants to do.
REP. GABBARD: Yeah, look. I think it’s important that Congress continue to exercise its oversight role and responsibilities over the executive branch and making sure that there are no conflicts of interest, financial conflicts of interest, I think is very important, and making sure that there is transparency. We’ve got to make sure that our President, and frankly, all elected officials are acting in the best interest of the people and not for any of their own selfish gain, whether it be financial or otherwise.
MS. VAN SUSTEREN: All right. Now to the issues from our viewers from across the country. One of the things that is really disturbing a lot of viewers is student loans. They’re drowning in student loans.
REP. GABBARD: Yes.
MS. VAN SUSTEREN: If you’re President, is there anything you would do about student loans?
REP. GABBARD: Absolutely. I mean, this is the crisis that’s really crushing and impacting an entire generation of people. More than a generation of people. My father is a public high school teacher, and he is still paying off his college student loans. I think it is important that we deal with the existing student debt crisis. But in doing so, we’ve got to address the root cause, which is the incredibly rising high cost of higher education and how little focus is put on things like vocational training, community colleges, apprenticeships, things where people can go and get the skills they need and enter our economy doing a job that they love. So we’ve got to look at this from a comprehensive approach, and that’s the view that I'd take as President, to deal with both the crisis that exists, but also the root cause of the problem.
MS. VAN SUSTEREN: Why has college gotten so expensive?
REP. GABBARD: You know, I was talking with a college professor the other day, and he said, hey, I agree, the rising cost of education is a huge concern. He said look at how much administrator salaries are. So, you know, I think there are a lot of different things that are driving up the higher cost of education, and I think there’s a lot of missed opportunities with technology. And I will tell you from my own bachelor’s degree, I took a very unconventional route and I earned most of my degree through distance learning, through online education. I was actually in a tent in Iraq doing my classes online with mortars going overhead, came back and continued that education while I was back at home, and actually missed walking across the stage for my graduation because I was deployed for my second deployment in Kuwait. That’s an extreme example. But, look, there’s a lot of opportunities to be able to extend education and opportunity to folks that are outside of the traditional view, and a way that we can deliver those opportunities at a lower cost. It’s those kinds of creative ideas that I’m looking at to see how we achieve the objective of making sure that the American people and young people are getting the skills that they’re looking for as they move forward in the next chapter of their lives.
MS. VAN SUSTEREN: In general, do you find that colleges are being responsible towards students in terms of how the prices are rising, what they’re constructing on campus, the fact that they get unlimited loans? Is that an incentive for the universities to not have fiscal responsibility?
REP. GABBARD: I don’t think. I don’t think the current system is serving students overall, whether it is the colleges themselves, as well as the financial system that really, it profits the most off of students going through and getting this crushing debt. The fact that student loans can no longer be applied for bankruptcy when you file bankruptcy, what is the only kind of loan that doesn’t apply for this. That’s got to change. We’ve got to make it so that colleges are transparent about how many of their graduates actually graduate and go in and get a good-paying job in the field of their choice. These are things that I as a student and as parents would want to know before going in and making that kind of commitment.
MS. VAN SUSTEREN: In terms of affordable housing, there is a lot of interest in it across the country, asking politicians about affordable housing. It’s not just about the homeless. But if you’re paying more than 30 percent of your monthly income on rent or mortgage, you’re not going to be able to save money for college, you’re not going to be able to pay healthcare costs, or retirement. What about affordable housing? What’s the role for a President in that?
REP. GABBARD: I think that the President, the federal government, as well as the state and local governments, have a very important role to play in increasing the amount of affordable housing in this country, because right now across the country we are not even coming close to meeting the demand with the number of actual affordable units that are available. I know this all too well in my home state of Hawaii where we have a very high cost of living. And the cost even for a rental is extremely high. So what we end up with is--a result is, you have often two or three generations of families or groups of friends pooling together just to be able to afford to keep a roof over their head while working oftentimes two jobs just to be able to make ends meet. And I think that’s the biggest problem here, is you mentioned the homeless problem. The lack of affordable housing is one of the biggest drivers of the homeless crisis we are facing, but there are far more who are right on the brink, who are living paycheck to paycheck. And all it takes is one emergency, one healthcare emergency. Maybe your kid gets sick, something, and that pushes them over the brink where they’re wondering how are we going to make this work.
MS. VAN SUSTEREN: The other day I spoke to former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta. He was the Secretary of Defense during the Obama administration. And he told me that we are in an arms race with Russia and China. Do you agree that the U.S. is currently in an arms race with Russia and China?
REP. GABBARD: I think we’re in a very dangerous position, here, where we’ve entered a new Cold War with ever-escalating tensions between the United States and these nuclear-armed countries like Russia and China. And it has pushed us to a very dangerous place. And this has occurred by politicians from both political parties acting very irresponsibly and not taking seriously the threat that has been worsened, pushing us closer to the brink of nuclear catastrophe. This is something that we in Hawaii know all too well from the nuclear wakeup call that we had there last year, where it became very clear that this threat is real and that there is no shelter in the event of an attack. There is no shelter. There is nowhere to go.
MS. VAN SUSTEREN: So what do you do? How do you trust a cheater? Russia, according at least according to former Secretary of Defense Panetta and President Trump, says Russia cheated under the INF Treaty. How do you trust a cheater?
REP. GABBARD: This isn’t about blindly trusting anyone. This is about trust and verify, and work out the differences that exist through diplomacy so that we are not pushed into this place where we are now where INF treaties are being torn up rather than strengthened. And as a result we’re seeing an arms race now ensuing: an arms race that nobody wins. Nobody wins in a nuclear arms race. Nobody wins in a nuclear war. The only result of this is absolute and total catastrophe, annihilation of our planet. This is the number-one threat that we face. And as President, I would lead us towards ending this new Cold War, ending this arms race, and leading with a foreign policy that’s based on cooperation rather than conflict, actually doing the hard work of diplomacy to work out those differences and be able to make sure that there is space to be able to work together towards that common interest that we have in dealing with things like with the nuclear threat, and climate change, and others.
MS. VAN SUSTEREN: The President pulled the United States out of the 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran. If you are President, what do you do about Iran? Because at least apparently, according to reports, they’re now up to about 20 percent uranium enrichment. So they’re moving forward with some program.
REP. GABBARD: Well, I think it’s important as we look at that, why is that? When Trump pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal, they were in complete compliance. Both our intelligence agencies, as well as the IAEA and the intelligence agencies of the other signatory countries all agreed that Iran was in compliance with the nuclear agreement. So this crisis that we are in now is one that Trump created. Now he says over and over again, well, we don’t want to go to war with Iran, but every single action he has taken is pushing us closer and closer to the brink of war with Iran. That would be far more devastating and costly in American lives, in American treasure, in increasing the refugee crisis we’re seeing now in the Middle East and across Europe, all because of Trump’s actions of tearing up this nuclear agreement, of increasing crippling sanctions against Iran even when they were in compliance with the agreement, deploying thousands of more troops to the region, and doing something that no other country in the world has ever done, which is declaring Iran’s military arm as a terrorist organization just like ISIS.
MS. VAN SUSTEREN: There are billions of dollars that are being diverted from Europe, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands to help build the wall. That’s what the President wants to do, and he’s doing that. Would you do that?
REP. GABBARD: I would not. I would work with Congress to make sure that we’re getting the resources necessary to secure our borders. The objective here should be border security. Without secure borders, we don’t have a country. There’s a responsible way to go about doing that. Saying that you’re just going to build a wall from sea to shining sea is very irresponsible, and it’s fiscally irresponsible. In some places along the border our objective is security and it may make sense to have some kind of barrier or a wall. In other places along our border, it will make more sense and be more effective to use technology and have other forms of security in place. We’ve got to stop playing politics with this stuff and actually focus on getting the job done. That’s what I would do as President.
MS. VAN SUSTEREN: Part of the diversion of funds comes from money that would go towards building up some military installations in Europe. A lot of the American people think that that should be a shared cost, or that these European countries should pay for it more. Why should the United States be paying such a high percentage of the money from military installations overseas?
REP. GABBARD: Well, I think we need to take it one step back, actually, and look at all the places where we have troops deployed and actual bases around the world and reassess do we really need those troops based in those countries; do we really need these massive bases in these countries that are costing us, as taxpayers. Do they serve the best interest of our national security and the American people? Is that the best use of our taxpayer dollars? So I think we’ve got to ask the underlying question. And if it means that there is a mutual interest to have a base in another country, then there should be a cost sharing agreement in place with the host country as well.
MS. VAN SUSTEREN: After you did so well on Google after the last debate, you sued Google because the company temporarily suspended your advertising account. You said that decision suppressed your candidacy. Should Google be broken up?
REP. GABBARD: Yes. These big tech monopolies like Google and Facebook have way too much power and ability to interfere with and influence our fair elections. And our campaign is just one example of this. There are other examples where Google has shut down and canceled accounts even for those who were complying with their terms and use agreement. You have a situation where these monopolies are so big, they have the ability to dictate what information pops up in your Facebook feed, what you see when you look on YouTube, whose voices are silenced, whose are amplified. I think this is a really dangerous thing that suppresses our free speech. And understanding that, look, this lawsuit is about something much bigger than just what happens in my campaign, because if they can do this to me as a sitting member of Congress running for the highest office in the land, they can do it to anybody, anywhere. And they should not have that power to interfere.
MS. VAN SUSTEREN: Your campaign has called on the DNC to hold true to their promise and make adjustments to the process now to ensure transparency and fairness in debates. What is your objection to what the DNC did?
REP. GABBARD: What we’re seeing is the lack of transparency about how the DNC is selecting which polls to use as qualifying polls and which not to use. I’ve got over 26 polls showing that I met and/or exceeded their polling requirements. They’ve only chosen to use two of them, without any explanation, again, of transparency about why they’re making the decisions that they’re making. And really what this comes down to is unless there is transparency in our elections and in our process, then voters lose trust that it’s actually working for them. They think that there is some other interest at play here. So I think it’s important for our party and our elections to increase this transparency and accountability and make sure that voters can trust this process is working for them.
MS. VAN SUSTEREN: Have they gotten back to you? What have they said, and what do you want them to do exactly? What are the adjustments?
REP. GABBARD: No, we haven’t gotten any response.
MS. VAN SUSTEREN: No response?
REP. GABBARD: We haven’t gotten any response, no. Again, I think transparency is really what we’re calling for. This is not only in the interest of continuing to be a part of the debate, but this is about instilling trust in voters. But I also think it’s important to make clear that debate or no debate, I am in this campaign. We are continuing to move forward all the way to the convention, because there are a lot of ways to be able to get our message out to voters, and that’s exactly what we’re doing.
MS. VAN SUSTEREN: All right. You’ve been quoted--at least I have a quote that in New Hampshire you said the government is only for the rich. I don’t know if that is a direct quote. But if it is a correct quote, why do you say that? And what would be different if you were President?
REP. GABBARD: Well, it’s clear with the policies that are passed that Washington has for so long through both political parties being in power been in the hands of the rich and powerful. For example, healthcare is an issue that is top of mind for people all across this country. We’re very concerned about the fact that they’re either uninsured or underinsured. They are one healthcare emergency away from a total financial disaster. They can’t afford the medicine that they need. Seniors who are reliant on Social Security and Medicare are unable to make ends meet and worried about their own security, and yet we have a situation where Medicare right now by law is still prohibited from negotiating lower prescription drug prices with the prescription drug companies. How is that possible? Because the United States government is the largest purchaser of prescription drugs in the world. So you can imagine how much leverage we would have if we had the ability to be able to negotiate those lower drug prices for Medicare beneficiaries. But they’re not allowed to right now. It’s because of that influence of the rich and powerful special interests, big Pharma’s lobbyists who get in there in Washington and tell their politicians say no, you can’t pass this bill unless you make sure this prohibition is in place so they can continue to price gouge consumers and make more money in the process.
MS. VAN SUSTEREN: All right.
REP. GABBARD: That’s just one of many examples.
MS. VAN SUSTEREN: You’re not in the next debate. But if you could have a question asked of all those people on the stage who will be on the debate, what’s the question you want to have asked of them?
REP. GABBARD: That’s a good question. I haven’t really thought about that. But here’s the thing that I think every candidate needs to address, which is the most important responsibility the President has, to serve as commander in chief. And we need a leader who will end these wasteful counterproductive wars, have the courage to stand up to the military-industrial complex, work to end this new Cold War and arms race, and bring those resources back to serving the needs of the American people here at home. I have the experience, the understanding and the conviction, and the capability to walk in and accomplish that, serving as commander in chief on day one, and that’s why I’m running for President.
MS. VAN SUSTEREN: Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, thank you very much. I hope you come back.
REP. GABBARD: Thank you, Greta. I look forward to it.