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CNN "The Situation Room" - Transcript: Interview with Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin




BLITZER: This hour, we're learning more about president-elect Biden's potential choice to be the next CIA director, sources indicating that the agency's former acting Director Mike Morell remains the front- runner, but there are other candidates still very much in the mix.

We're joined now by Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin of Michigan, a member of the Homeland Security and Armed Services Committee.

Congresswoman, thanks so much for joining us. You also, before you joined Congress, became a member of Congress, you were a CIA analyst. What do you hope that the president-elect is weighing as he considers these various contenders to leave the CIA?

REP. ELISSA SLOTKIN (D-MI): Yes, well, I think the intelligence community has really taken a beating over the past four years.

And so while we need someone who's hypercompetent and understands the role of speaking truth to power, we also need someone who's going to help the work force recover, who's going to say to the work force, we appreciate your work, and we want you to excel, and we're going to represent you in the Oval Office when we're with the president.

I think we're going to need some morale boosts for whoever it is who is picked as the director of the CIA.

BLITZER: And I got to ask you this question, Congresswoman, because your name has been mentioned as a possible contender for this or other positions.

Have you had any serious discussions with the Biden team about perhaps joining the incoming administration?

SLOTKIN: Yes, I know this is a favorite parlor game in Washington. And while it's always an honor to be -- have my name in the paper with lots of great folks, no one has asked me to be anything other than the representative of Michigan's Eighth District, which I love, so no.

BLITZER: And there's nothing wrong with being a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, I got to tell you, as someone who's covered Washington for a long time.

As you know, the president-elect announced his economic team today, at least major members of his economic team, following the announcement of his all-female senior communications team in the incoming White House.

What do you make of these choices?

SLOTKIN: Well, I think I mean, honestly, he just brought in qualified people.

I think it's an interesting thing that it's an all-female team representing him and -- to the press, but it's also the most qualified team.

And then, on the economic side, what really gave me a sort of a good feeling was, these are folks who have experience from the last recession. They understood what worked, what didn't work, from stimulating the economy. And we need that now more than ever, because what people are asking me about is COVID relief.

That's what my constituents are calling every day, wanting to know when we're going to get to get a deal. And we need one desperately.

BLITZER: Well, what's the problem? I mean, it's -- people are waiting in lines for food. People are suffering right now. There should have been a deal weeks and weeks ago, and there wasn't a deal.

Who's responsible for this failure?

SLOTKIN: Well, listen, I think that there's blame to go around.

We were working on a negotiation in September and into October, and I had high hopes for that. But I think the election and the politics around the election and other things just got in the middle of it.

And I feel strongly. And when I talk to my peers, my Democratic peers, my Republican peers, we should not be going home for Christmas without a COVID deal, right? If the rest of the country is going to be so worried and so concerned and so just on edge about what's going to happen to their small business, unemployment, we shouldn't be going home and enjoying Christmas with our families until and unless we get a deal.


BLITZER: Yes, I think you're absolutely right, because this is so critical right now.

Do you think the fact that there was no deal in the last few weeks before the election hurt your fellow Democratic representatives, who wound up losing? You guys lost House seats, Democrats in the House of Representatives, people like Donna Shalala in Miami, Debbie Mucarsel- Powell, Max Rose in New York, people who really were desperately anxious for a deal?

Do you think the fact that Nancy Pelosi couldn't come up with an agreement with Steve Mnuchin, the Treasury secretary, and the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, that hurt your fellow Democrats in losing all these seats in the House?

SLOTKIN: Well, listen, I think, like I said, there's blame to go around.

And everyone should have locked themselves in a negotiating room until they got a deal. And I think, frankly, bigger than any one election, I think we really need to acknowledge that people are looking to see that their government can get something done, right?

That's Democrats, Republicans. They want to look to Washington and say, we're in the middle of a pandemic. Get something done. Get something done on the table. We did that in the spring. And I expect the same of my own leadership, of leadership in the Senate, and in the White House between now and Christmas.

BLITZER: Yes, pass a deal. Get the money out to the people who need it. They are desperate right now.

Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin of Michigan, thanks so much for joining us. Good luck.

SLOTKIN: Thank you.