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CNN "State of the Union" - Transcript: North Korea

Interview

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ACOSTA: And joining us now is Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, also a member of the Armed Services Committee.

Senator Warren, thanks for joining us on STATE OF THE UNION.

Want to start with North Korea.

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D), MASSACHUSETTS: Thanks.

ACOSTA: And South Korea is giving credit to President Trump's leadership and rhetoric for this meeting, I guess what the White House refers to as strategic rhetoric.

But the Democrats have been saying that the president's talk of little rocket man and fire and fury was the wrong tactic and risked starting a war.

Has the president's strategic rhetoric, as they call it in the White House, opened this door to a diplomatic breakthrough? Does he deserve some credit here, do you think?

WARREN: Look, I am very glad to see this administration move toward a diplomatic approach to North Korea.

And the principal reason for that is, there is no military-only solution to the problems presented by North Korea. And I'm not the only one saying that. That is exactly what our generals in the field say.

So, it's good to move to diplomacy. The problem right now is that these are very complicated negotiations. There are a lot of issues involved in them.

And our State Department has just been decimated. We don't have an ambassador to South Korea. We don't have an assistant secretary for this entire region. There are all kinds of spaces that are open at the State Department generally, and particularly in this region.

And that matters. When you're going into negotiations like this, it matters to have the people there first who are working and who are advising about the economy and about our military objectives and who know the players and know the history.

So, here's what -- here's what I'm concerned about. I want the president to succeed. When the president succeeds in negotiations like this, the United States succeeds. It makes us safer. It makes the whole world safer.

But I am very worried that he's going to go into these negotiations and be taken advantage of.

ACOSTA: And another big issue we're going to be talking about this week is this bill that you are very interested in.

The Senate -- the Senate voted, as you know, to advance a new banking bill that would ease regulations on banks with assets that are less than $250 billion, with the support of 16 Senate Democrats.

You've been calling out members of your party who voted in favor of this bill, many of whom are facing difficult reelection bids in states that President Trump won.

Do you think that voters should hold any Democrat who votes for this plan accountable at the polls? Would they be responsible if another financial crisis were to occur?

WARREN: Well, look, let's talk about what the bill does.

And what this bill says, here it is. On the 10th anniversary of the biggest crash since the Great Depression, this Senate is now advancing a bill that would celebrate that anniversary by saying that 25 of the 40 largest banks in America -- these 25 banks together sucked down more than $50 billion in taxpayer bailouts.

Why? Because the economy needed them to stay up and running. Nobody went to jail. And this bill says, let's let those 25 banks be regulated just like they were tiny little community banks.

I got to tell you, a quarter-of-a-trillion-dollar bank is not a community bank.

So, what's the consequence of doing that, plus other changes that helped the remaining banks? The answer is, it puts it at much greater -- it puts us at greater risk that -- that there will be another taxpayer bailout, that there will be another crash and another taxpayer bailout.

ACOSTA: Yes.

WARREN: And you don't have to take my word for it. This is what the Congressional Budget Office said.

ACOSTA: But what about your fellow -- but what about your fellow Democrats going along with this? Are you disappointed that your colleagues are going to be voting in favor of this legislation?

After -- after all, you said that these sorts of loose sort of rules on Wall Street helped cause the financial crisis in 2007-2008.

WARREN: And that's true. It did help cause the crisis.

Frankly, I just don't see how any senator can vote to weaken the regulations on Wall Street banks.

And it's not just that. Can I point out a couple of things else that are in this bill that hasn't gotten much attention?

ACOSTA: Well, I definitely want to move on to...

WARREN: This...

ACOSTA: I want to move on to something that we want to talk about on the economic front.

And that is the president really reaching out to blue-collar workers with these tariffs that were announced last week. Are you worried that Democrats are losing these blue-collar workers that were so critical to the president's victory in 2016? And can your party bring them back?

[09:20:02]

Joe Biden seems to be trying awfully hard to reach out to those kinds of voters. What do you think about that?

WARREN: I -- I don't think this is a political question.

What I think is -- I've been a longtime critic of America's trade policy. I think we've been negotiating trade deals for years that benefit giant multinational corporations and that don't help workers, don't help small businesses, and often don't even help consumers.

What I'd like to see us do is rethink all of our trade policy. And I have to say, when President Trump says he's putting tariffs on the table, I think tariffs are one part of reworking our trade policy overall. We need a trade policy that's comprehensive, one that makes a distinction between the trading partners that follow the rules and the trading partners that break the rules like China, but a comprehensive trade strategy that isn't all about multinational corporations' profits, that's really about American workers and American small businesses.

That's the kind of trade policy we need.

ACOSTA: And I know we're pressed for time, but I have to ask you, because I cover the White House, and I hear the president going after you from time to time, referring to you as Pocahontas.

I know, recently, you were speaking about your Native American heritage. Does that get under your skin when he does that? And do you want to run for president in 2020?

WARREN: I am not running for President in 2020.

But let me tell you my story. You know, my mother and dad were born and raised in Oklahoma. My father fell in love with my mother when they were both still teenagers. And he was just head over heels over her. But his family was bitterly opposed to their relationship because she was part Native American.

And, ultimately, my parents went out...

ACOSTA: So, does that bother you, when the president calls you Pocahontas? Do you think that he is being disrespectful to Native Americans when he does that? Doesn't that bother you because of your family's heritage?

WARREN: Look, this is -- this is what I was trying to tell you, is about my family's story, because my family's story is deeply a part of me and a part of my brothers. It's what we learned from our parents. It's what we learned from our grandparents. It's what we learned from our aunts and our uncles.

I went to speak to Native American tribal leaders, and I made a promise to them, that every time President Trump wants to try to throw out some kind of racial slur, he wants to try to attack me, I'm going to use it as a chance to lift up their stories.

And I'm going to do that right now by pointing out that more than half of all Native women in this country have been the victims of sexual violence. And more than half of them are attacked by non-Natives. And the American government is doing nothing about this. This is an issue that's happening right here in America.

Native women are subjected to sexual violence at rates much higher than any other group in our country. We need to put some focus on this, and we need to make some changes on this. We owe it to people living in Native communities.

ACOSTA: All right, important message.

Senator Warren, thank you very much for your time this morning.

WARREN: Thank you.

ACOSTA: We appreciate it.

WARREN: Thank you.

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