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CNN "State of the Union with Jake Tapper" - Transcript Interview with Mazie Hirono

Interview

Date: Oct. 11, 2020

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Joining me now, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Democratic Senator Mazie Hirono of Hawaii.

Senator Hirono, always good to have you on. Thank you.

SEN. MAZIE HIRONO (D-HI): Good morning.

TAPPER: So, Republicans, they are moving full steam ahead with tomorrow's hearing.

You have said -- quote -- "The fact of the matter is that Mitch McConnell has the votes" -- unquote.

What are you going to ask Judge Barrett. And is there any way Democrats can stop her confirmation?

HIRONO: We are going to be very focused on her state of views on the Affordable Care Act.

And the reason that the Republicans are so bound and determined to push her through, with only about two weeks left before the election and millions of people already voting, they want her on that court to hear the Affordable Care Act case on November 10, one week after the election, so that she can strike it down.

[09:35:04]

That is her view on the Affordable Care Act.

Then we will also be focused, I will be focused on her state of views on a woman's right to choose, abortion. So, those are the things that I will be focused on.

This nominee poses a clear and present danger. The immediate danger is to the health care of over 20 million Americans who have health care thanks to the Affordable Care Act, the over 100 million Americans who are protected under the Affordable Care Act because they have preexisting conditions, not to mention the seven million who have tested positive for COVID, who will be put into the category of those with preexisting conditions.

TAPPER: But there's nothing Democrats can do to stop it, is the question.

HIRONO: Well, if we can get two more brave Republicans to face up to the fact that they are going to be voting on -- for somebody who's going to take away the health care of hundreds of thousands of their constituents, if we can get two more Republicans to have that courage, we can stop her.

TAPPER: So, Judge Barrett has ties to a conservative Christian organization called People of Praise.

You have said that her religious beliefs should not be off-limits. And you questioned whether her -- quote -- "closely held views can be separated from her ability to make objective, fair decisions" -- unquote.

Do you plan to raise her faith tomorrow? And how can you do that without approaching religious bigotry?

HIRONO: Her religion is immaterial, irrelevant. That is what I said. And so that is my position.

I am totally focused on what this nominee sitting there as a justice is going to do in striking down the Affordable Care Act. That's what I'm focused on. I'm not going to be asking her questions about her religious views. They're irrelevant.

TAPPER: So, no one -- do you think any Democrats are going to bring up her faith or religious views?

HIRONO: I think that it's the Republicans who are going to be bringing up that particular issue.

Why? Because they don't want to face up to the fact, they don't want to tell the American people that they're about to vote -- about to vote for a person who's going to take away their health care.

TAPPER: Well, just to be fair, in 2017, it was Democrats, when she was up for a different judicial post, Democrats who brought it up, including Senators Durbin and Feinstein. But you're saying Democrats aren't going to do it this time. OK.

HIRONO: Well, actually, Jake...

TAPPER: Yes.

HIRONO: ... back then, the -- Chuck Grassley and Ted Cruz also asked about her writing.

So, the writing of a nominee, that -- you get asked. So we asked. I ask. And that's it.

TAPPER: OK.

The number of lawmakers infected with coronavirus continues to grow, regrettably. Several Republicans are either infected right now or in quarantine. There is no -- astoundingly, there is no mandatory testing protocol on Capitol Hill.

You have been open about your cancer diagnosis. And we're glad -- we're glad you're recovering. Do you feel safe going into the Senate? Do you feel safe walking onto the Senate floor?

HIRONO: Well, the fact that Mitch McConnell and the chairman of the Judiciary Committee have not put in place appropriate protocols, that tells you the seriousness with which they regard this virus and its spread.

So, for my own protection and that of everyone that I come in contact with, I will get a test after I do this interview with you.

TAPPER: One last question, Senator.

President Trump called Senator Kamala Harris a monster on FOX this week. He used the term twice.

You and Senator Harris are two of only four women of color in the United States Senate. I have heard some people say that they thought that term was racist, dehumanizing, sexist. What was your reaction to it?

HIRONO: It's typical Trump that he will attack anybody. He calls people names.

So, when he can't come up with anything more substantive, he will just call somebody a name. And he's called me names. So, that's the president.

And then -- and there's a clear choice, by the way, in this election. Are we going to vote for this unhinged person of -- who is running around in super-spreader events, by the way?

The irony of a president who's going to spread the virus, and Republicans who want to put on the court a person who is going to knock out the Affordable Care Act in the middle of a pandemic, and Joe Biden, who actually wants to get control over the virus and move us forward, the -- people are already voting. I hope they made the right choice, based on the fact that this nominee is a threat to their health care, which is, by the way, the number one concern of Americans right now.

TAPPER: All right, Senator Mazie Hirono, Democrat of Hawaii, thank you so much for your time today.

HIRONO: Sure.

TAPPER: Good luck at the hearing. Stay safe.

HIRONO: You too.

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