Transcript: Former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson on “Face the Nation,” July 30, 2023


The following is a transcript of an interview with former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, who is running for president, that aired on “Face the Nation” on July 30, 2023.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Welcome back to Face The Nation. We’re joined now by presidential candidate and former Governor of Arkansas, Asa Hutchinson, good to have you here in person.

ASA HUTCHINSON: It is indeed good to be here. Thanks, Margaret.

MARGARET BRENNAN: I’ve got a lot to ask you about. But I do want to pick up on something Nikki Haley continues to raise, and this is this idea of a mental acuity test for anyone over 75, you’re 72 years old. If you win the presidency, you’d be right in that range. What do you think of her concept? Do you think that’s appropriate?

ASA HUTCHINSON: Well, there’s a mental acuity test every time you go to Iowa, and there’s a town hall meeting with the questions from the voters, they do a pretty good job of assessing those issues. You know, as a- as a practical matter, you want a president to be in good health and in charge of, you know, the country in a good mental state. But the tests are not constitutional. And so it’s really something that’s a throwaway line that catches people’s attention. But the voters, I have a lot of confidence in to make the right decisions. If I get in the race, well, I’m in the race. But if I’m the nominee of the party, and you’ve got Joe Biden there, I’ll be the youngest person in the race.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Okay. Well, I want to ask you about a number of things in terms of who else is in this race, you have already called on Donald Trump to drop out. You’ve been saying that for some time. Now, he’s not taking your advice. And now we have these new charges on classified documents. Do you think he should be pardoned for the good of the country, as Ambassador Haley suggested?

ASA HUTCHINSON: No. First of all, that should not be any discussion during a presidential campaign. You don’t put pardons out there to garner votes. That is premature. Obviously, if there’s a conviction–

MARGARET BRENNAN: You think that’s what she’s doing?

ASA HUTCHINSON:  Well, I think that anybody who promises pardons during the presidential campaign is not serving our system of justice well and it’s inappropriate.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You are unique as a Republican candidate, because while many of the Republicans on the trail are using this phrase, “weaponization of the justice system,” you are avoiding that. And in fact, you have put forward a plan to overhaul federal law enforcement agencies. The Washington Post editorial board came close to endorsing it just a few days ago saying the idea should be taken seriously. Explain this approach?

ASA HUTCHINSON: Well, our justice system is the envy of the world. It’s what sets our democracy apart, that we’re under the rule of law. And if you undermine that system of justice, then you’re undermining our democracy. And it’s a human system, so there’s going to be flaws in it that you’ve got to correct and adjust. And so mistakes are made. And I don’t like the way the Justice Department has handled the Hillary Clinton case. I think there’s been errors that they have made in their investigations that was found in the Durham report. But let’s address this by reform. And that’s why I put out the reform proposal to reduce the jurisdiction of the FBI to make them more accountable, more focused in their missions, and their national security responsibilities. So let’s reform it, let’s make it accountable. And that’s the approach we- we should take. As a party is about the rule of law and supporting our system of justice.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, traditionally, for Republicans, it was about law and order, but the top three Republican front runners are all using this term weaponization. Why is this resonating so much?

ASA HUTCHINSON: Well, because the public sees discrepancy and how cases are handled. And clearly Jim Comey was wrong whenever he made the decision on Hillary Clinton that no prosecutor was going to take that case. And that wasn’t his job to do it to begin with. And so they see differences as to how cases are handled. But that is not a defense in a case that’s been brought against Donald Trump. So the public is–

MARGARET BRENNAN: Which is a serious indictment on federal charges.

ASA HUTCHINSON: It’s a serious indictment with enormous ramifications for our national security. And our equal treatment of individuals under the law, and every case is factually different. But so there’s frustration that’s there. Let’s solve those frustrations by not attacking our justice system. And by an end to what Donald Trump is doing, which is every day appeasing Russia and attacking our justice system. That’s what I heard last night when I listened to the tape in Erie, Pennsylvania at his rally. Both are wrong. And it’s- it’s putting his personal good above the public good and above the common good. And that’s what we should be talking about and not undermining that system of justice. 

MARGARET BRENNAN: You’re referring there to reference he made to tying further aid to Ukraine to fight Russia to what happens with law enforcement and congressional Republicans. 

ASA HUTCHINSON: Which is simply appeasing Russia. That’s what he’s talking about doing. And then simultaneously attacking our justice system in America,

MARGARET BRENNAN: You used to run the Drug Enforcement Agency. Fentanyl is killing a lot of people in this country right now. It’s also used for legitimate medicinal purposes by physicians. Should it be a schedule one drug? How do you stop the Fentanyl crisis?

ASA HUTCHINSON: Well, it won’t make any difference what schedule it is in terms of our enforcement activities. But right now, the precursor chemicals are coming from China, and they have legitimate medical purposes. And so we want good reporting and requirements on-on what’s being shipped out of China. We’d like to see it stop, particularly that which is going to Mexico. But the key is Mexico, because that’s where the precursor chemicals are going. The cartels have it; they’re making the fentanyl at the labs there. And Mexico can control both of those. We need greater support from Mexico, we need to use our economic pressure against Mexico so that they will cooperate aus- cooperate with us to a greater extent in fighting fentanyl.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So when you hear Ambassador Haley point the finger solely at China, you’re saying she’s missing part of the problem here and that is the Mexican cartels.

ASA HUTCHINSON: Well, first of all, China is not cooperating with us, and we have a better chance of getting Mexico’s cooperation. And so the solution is better there. And so yes, let’s focus on what we can address. It’s also a challenge here in America, we need to use education, the risk the danger of going on the street and buying a Percocet pill that could be laced with fentanyl. We have to do that education. Governor Reynolds had a great conference there in Iowa educating parents on this. So there’s multiple responsibilities and approaches we have to do to go after the crisis we have with fentanyl.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Governor Hutchinson, thank you for your time today.

ASA HUTCHINSON: Thank you. Good to be with you.

MARGARET BRENNAN: We’ll be right back.

Source link


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here