Senator Tom Cotton joined me this AM:
HH: Joined by United States Senator Tom Cotton. Merry Christmas, Senator. Good to speak with you this morning.
TC: Good morning, Hugh. Merry Christmas to you and to all your listeners.
HH: What goes with the prison reform/jailbreak bill? I gather it had cloture last night. Will your amendments and those of Senator Kennedy be voted on today?
TC: Yes, Hugh, I anticipate all three of our amendments will be voted on, and I suspect that they will pass. I don’t see any reason why they would not pass.
HH: Has anyone come…
TC: The first amendment…
HH: Go ahead. Please explain what the three are.
TC: Yeah, so Hugh, these are very modest changes. They’ll make a bad bill marginally less bad. The first amendment will specifically exclude certain offenders from getting early release from prison under the bill, offenders like persons convicted of coercing a minor into illicit sex or prostitution, carjacking, bank robbery, hate crimes, or any other person convicted of a crime of violence or a sex offense. Now that is simply consistent with the rhetoric of the bill’s advocates from the very beginning. Unfortunately, their bill text doesn’t achieve that. Our amendment would. The second amendment simply stands for victims’ rights. It says that before someone is released early from their sentence, under this bill, the victim of that assailant will have a chance to be notified and provide a statement to the local warden. And then the third amendment, the most modest of all, simply says the Department of Justice should track the recidivism rate of the persons released under this bill who have received anti-recidivism training and counseling so the Congress can make informed judgments in the future about the success or the failures of this bill and how me might want to modify it. Again, very modest amendments consistent entirely with the bill’s sponsors’ own rhetoric. I see no reason why anyone would oppose these amendments.
HH: I can’t see either a Democrat or a Republican wanting to campaign against notifying victims, wanting to campaign on declassifying carjacking and assaults on federal officials and underage sexual imposition, and I can’t see anyone, I mean zero people not wanting to notify a victim.
HH: I thought that was in the bill, Senator Cotton.
TC: No, no it’s not in the bill, Hugh. And you’re right. You know, these are very modest amendments. But I would also suggest they’re pretty tough votes for anyone who doesn’t like the amendment or wishes we were letting even more felons out of prison. I mean, let’s just call a spade a spade. If you oppose the Kennedy-Cotton amendments, you are voting for child molesters and against victims.
HH: That’s well put, and I think it’s true. Now let me ask you about the shutdown. Do you expect it to happen on Friday?
TC: Well, I hope it doesn’t happen, Hugh. Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, and so many other Democrats, have all voted in the past for over 700 miles of border barriers, as you know, in the Secure Fence Act of 2006. All the President is asking, really, is that they stand by that vote and they fund those commitments. I know that negotiations are ongoing. We simply want to ensure that we not only fund the normal ongoing operations of about a quarter of the government that remains outstanding to be funded, but also that we secure our border, and that we take seriously the threat of drugs and criminals and illegal aliens crossing out border.
HH: I hope it does get through. And are nominations continuing to be processed, Senator Cotton, as the Senate hangs around waiting for a resolution on the spending debate?
TC: Well, unfortunately, Hugh, as you know, we haven’t been able to process many more judicial nominations in this lame duck session because Senator Flake has blockaded all nominations because he can’t get a vote on his bill to protect the Mueller investigation, a bill that in all likelihood would be unconstitutional. We still have some executive branch nominations to process, though, and hopefully we’ll get more of those through. I know that our friend, Mike Pompeo, at the State Department has dozens of nominees who are still pending. We have nominees with inside law enforcement, with inside the Department of Defense as well who need to be processed. We can get part of those over in January, but it takes a little time.
HH: I’m following, I’m following one in particular, Charles Douglas Stimson, Cully Stimson, who is supposed to be the general counsel of the Navy. The Navy needs a general counsel. He’s been on ice for two years. Any word on whether Cully Stimson’s going to be on the agreed upon list at the end of this thing?
TC: Hugh, not to my knowledge. It’s always possible. Sometimes at the very end of a session, there’s a break in the ice, and you can get several dozen nominees through on a voice vote. I hope we have that. Again, the intransigence of the Democrats not just on some high-profile cabinet members, but on relatively obscure but critical positions for the day to day functioning of government is really remarkable. Youi know, this president has faced more filibusters on his nominees than something like the last five or six presidents combined in all their tenures. That really needs to stop. And if it doesn’t stop in January, we’re going to have to take a look at the rules of the Senate that are allowing the Democrats to filibuster these judges for so long and just play a war of attrition against these qualified and really non-controversial nominees, many of whom end up getting 90-plus votes when we finally get to vote.
HH: I hope you’re track down the leader today and mention Cully Stimson to him. And here’s my argument. We’re going to have some very rapid change in the Navy that’s going to need a senior legal office on top of it. And we’re going to have some confrontations with the Chinese that are going to require some very quick opinions on what is and is not a legitimate assertion by the PRC. I just don’t understand why any of our DOD or State Department nominees are not in their jobs, Senator Cotton, last 30 seconds to you.
TC: Well, it’s because the Democrats have been waging a war of attrition against all these very qualified, competent nominees. They were hoping they’d win back the Senate. They failed to do that. They still seem not to have accepted the results of the, not the last election, but the election two times ago. It’s time to do that. It’s time to get back to the basic functioning of government.
HH: Good for you, Senator Cotton. Good luck on your three amendments today. Good luck on finding Cully Stimson’s nomination, dust it off, and put it up there, and I will talk to you next week.
End of interview.