I was joined by Senator Tom Cotton today:
HH: I want to welcome back Senator Tom Cotton from Arkansas. Good morning, Senator.
TC: Good morning, Hugh, good to be on with you as always.
HH: Good to be with you. I have a question that I want to set up for the audience. I have a new affiliate in Charlottesville, so they may not know this. You walked point with your platoon of Army soldiers. You were a Ranger in Baghdad during the surge, and you were defending the right of every American to have their say at any time under the 1st Amendment. What do you think of what’s going on in this country? Jason Miller just tweeted out the left has gone too far with their targeted harassment of @RealDonaldTrump staffers, wanted posters, he’s referring to one of Stephen Miller, do not suggest speech, regardless of what’s in the fine print. They’re a blatant call to action. What do you think Senator Cotton?
TC: Hugh, I think everyone, especially some of the most extreme critics of Trump administration officials and staffers, often times very obscure staffers, should probably take a pause and reflect on all the things that this country is known for and what makes us great, and all the things we have in common despite our great political differences, and look at countries like Iraq and Afghanistan, where I spent several months of my life and all of the troubles they have. Those troubles descend into violence and chaos when political differences can’t be settled in amicable ways. You know, in our country, that’s why we have elections. That’s why we have a Congress and state legislatures and county and city councils, and we can resolve our sometimes very heated differences amicably. But to come out and you know, in a mob-like rule at restaurants in the street or in front of people’s homes, I think, is uncalled for. I don’t remember that happening much during the Obama administration, nor would I have condoned Republicans or conservatives trying to interrupt, you know, obscure staffers from the Obama administration trying to dine at peace with their friends or family, or protesting at their homes. And I don’t think Democrats should condone the most extreme elements of the anti-Trump resistance, either.
HH: Is cable news helping this or hurting it, or does it matter? I do see a lot of anger on television that used never to appear. What do you think?
TC: I don’t know, Hugh. I usually have a Major League Baseball network on television, so…
HH: Oh, you watching the Indians? You’re watching the Indians?
TC: There doesn’t seem to be a lot of anger on the Major League Baseball network channel.
HH: Yeah, no, there isn’t. Only with the Tigers fans getting crushed by the Indians.
TC: Yeah, there is a small subset, I guess, that it sells to, Hugh. I mean, frankly, you know, if you look at the local news channels in Central Arkansas, or Northwest Arkansas, Northeast Arkansas, though, you don’t really see that. You see people who are just delivering the day’s news, and trying to do so in a way that keeps citizens informed. Most Arkansans I know, though, don’t dwell on what’s happening on the cable news channels, especially the most extreme elements of it. They’re going about their business, you know, trying to do a job, do their job, put food on the table for their family and pay the rent, and go to baseball practice and go to Church on Sundays. I don’t think many normal Arkansans, in my experience, gets caught up in those things. I do think cable news and social media can amplify some of the most extreme voices, often times people who are doing so because they have a commercial interest in gaining that kind of audience. But really, truly, not many Arkansans that I know, you know, follow it that closely or are engaged in that kind of extremism.
HH: Let me ask you, then, about your colleague, Jeff Flake, who said he might be slowing down judges. I’ve played the audio of Jeff Flake at BYU last summer talking about the softball field shooting and how it’s important to have religious freedom, and how it’s important to have tolerance. He wouldn’t really slow down judges, would he? I mean, that’s, it’s his number one priority last summer.
TC: I hope not, Hugh. And I haven’t spoken with Senator Flake about it, but as you say, Senator Flake is a strong defender of religious liberty, and the Bill of Rights and Constitutional government in general. And he knows that we need good conservative jurists who will apply the Constitution and the laws of the United States as written, not as they wish they might have been written. So despite all of his many differences with the President, I don’t think that Senator Flake would want to see a situation where we lose this rare opportunity where we have a president willing to nominate good jurists and a Republican Senate willing to spend the time to confirm them.
HH: Now we have a minute. What is going to happen in the Senate on the immigration bill that Ted Cruz and Dianne Feinstein and Thom Tillis has gotten up? What’s going to happen on immigration this week or next?
TC: So I worked with senator Tillis and Senator Cornyn and several others last week to introduce a very simple proposal which would overturn the so-called Flores Settlement, which currently prevents the federal government from holding families together for more than 20 days. It also provides a little extra money for some family holding units and additional judges. I hope that we can pass that promptly, and I hope the House can pass it as well. You know, it really puts the lie to what the Democrats have been saying. If they oppose it, they’re not opposed to family separation. They’re opposed to border enforcement. Their policy is catch and release. All 49 Democratic senators have signed on to that proposal. Yet polls over the last week have shown that 60-65% of the American people favor our approach, which is holding families together at the border, or something, frankly, more restrictive. Only 20% favor catch and release.
HH: Will you get a vote next week on the narrow bill that addresses the consent decree and allowing families to stay together pending adjudication?
TC: I hope we do, Hugh, because again, it’s a simple, common sense solution the President said he wanted. I assume he will sign it. I believe it could pass the House of Representatives as well. We’ll just need the Democrats to come down from their extreme position of codifying catch and release as official U.S. policy.
HH: I can’t imagine those Democrats up for reelection will vote against a fix that allows families to stay together while they are adjudicated, because if you reward bringing a kid to the border, you’re going to get, you’re going to get people just grabbing children and running to the border. It would be a disaster. Senator Tom Cotton, good to talk to you. Have a great 4th of July, if I don’t talk to you next week. I’ll talk to you soon thereafter.
End of interview.