TRANSCRIPT: Kirsten Gillibrand 4/23/2019

The following is a transcript of Kirsten Gillibrand’s appearance on MSNBC on 4/23/2019. News was made on impeachment, Biden’s sexual harassment, and Kushner’s Russia response.

— Marcus


Q: Welcome Senator Gillibrand, thank you very much for being with us. First of all, impeachment. It is the hot topic. Where do you stand? I assume you've read the Mueller report. Do you think it justifies the house in proceeding now, with impeachment?

A: I think it's important to keep that on the table. But I think we need a process. And so what I'm looking for is an unredacted version of the report. I'm looking for testimony from Robert Mahler, as well as McGahn and the Attorney General.

I think it's really important that the American people get the truth and get all the facts. I think it's an outrage that this administration tried to change the whole purpose of the Special Counsel statute, by having the Attorney General place themselves between the report itself and the American people. First with the summary, second with trying to have a press conference, and third, with multiple redactions.

Congress at least must have a fully unredacted copy. And once we have that, we can decide whether we must proceed. I think it's important, though, that we get to the truth.

Q: Well, you're a lawyer, you've read the report. And from the report itself, there are 11 instances that many say would rise to obstruction of justice, if not for the Justice Department's prohibition against taking a prosecution of a sitting president. Why not proceed now?

A: Well, I -- having read parts of the report -- I believe there is a basis for obstruction of justice, and to proceed to impeachment proceedings, based on what we know. But I would like to have the rest of the report fully known before we proceed, and I'd like to have the testimony taken.

I think what Congressman Nadler has proposed is wise and appropriate, appropriate. And I support that fully.

Q: Both Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris now are both saying, go to impeachment now don't wait. There's a moral issue here. Are you afraid of the political backlash with a solid argument that this would only help re-elect the president?

A: No, I think it's important that we leave impeachment on the table, but I want to have a process to get there. And so I do want to take this testimony and have the full unredacted report produced to Congress first, and then we can look at all the facts and then make an informed decision.

But for myself, having read the -- at least -- the unreactive parts of this report, I think there's numerous basis to find obstruction of justice, particularly by asking McGahn to fire Mueller. Again, asking him to lie about it, and then asking him to write a memo. So there's at least three examples of what I certainly would view as obstruction of justice and the basis for an obstruction of justice impeachment proceeding.

Q: Jared Kushner was interviewed at the time and then today -- and the first time since the Mueller report -- was asked to respond. Let me play that for you.

[clip plays]

Q: And he basically said that this is a distraction and that what Russia did was just a couple of Facebook ads.

A: Oh, my God. He clearly hasn't read the report himself. But what he said is an outrage, for him to make light of a foreign adversary purposely trying to undermine our elections is untenable. And I'm gravely concerned that this administration continues to not take this seriously. And those statements are highly inappropriate.

Q: Now, you have released today, your principles. You've got 2020 pledges which include not to participate, aid or encourage hackers or foreign actors in any attempt to influence American elections or competitors campaign. Never to seek out or accept stolen hacked information from foreign adversaries. Never knowingly weaponize or promote stolen or hacked materials to report any foreign actors attempting to negatively influence participate in or contact the campaign to law enforcement. So where would you stand based on what Rudy Giuliani said this weekend? Right? What's wrong with having foreign interference? It's not against the law. If it's not against the law. What's wrong with it?

A: Well, it is against the law. And I think it's an outrage for any campaign to knowingly accept hacked material from a foreign adversary. If you look at what President Trump did in his own campaign, and what was revealed in the Mueller report, we know that this is very harmful to our democracy. And so I hope every candidate for 2020 will take this pledge because the truth is we should not be allowing foreign countries to interfere and undermine the basis of our fair and -- fair -- and fair elections in this country.

Q: Just looking at the polls. Early polls are misleading, obviously, but right now Bernie Sanders first in New Hampshire and Pete Buttigieg moving up, Joe Biden has name recognition. Those are the top three. Why do you think white male candidates are doing better than any of the women candidates?

A: Well, I don't know. But this is a marathon and not a sprint. And I know that I have a vision for this country, and the experience to actually get it -- to -- get it done and a plan to get it done. My vision is for things as simple as national paid leave, as broad based as national public service.

Really trying to get to full employment in this country, dealing with the underemployment that we have across the country, and making sure that people can get a better education, make sure that we have a national public service plan to get all kids through college, with -- with -- with debt free. And so that kind of vision, you need to then know how to get it done, which means getting money out of politics and making sure the greed and corruption that decide everything in Washington doesn't prevail.

That's why I'm running on publicly funded elections, and then have a record of actually bringing people together. As you know, Andrea, I started my public service career in upstate New York where it was a two-to-one Republican district. I not only won that district twice, last time with a 24-point margin, but then brought my state together with the highest vote threshold in the history of the state at 72%.

And I don't just bring the red places and the blue places in the purple places together electorally, I also do it legislatively. And that's why even in the last Congress, I passed 18 bills with the Republican House, Senate, and President and passing big bills like Don't Ask Don't Tell repeal and the 9/11 Health bill, unanimously twice.

Q: But you did when you were representing a very Republican district, you had different positions on guns, we've -- we've litigated that -- you said that you evolved…

A: Interestingly, I haven't lost those votes. So those 10 counties of my first House District, I've won them by a higher margin since becoming a Senator, and in the last election, I won back 18 Trump counties that went for Trump in the New York -- in New York State.

Q: Why do you think only Carolyn Maloney has endorsed you, and as a member of the delegation, the entire Democratic delegation, no house endorsements, and certainly not the governor or the Senator?

A: I can promise you. The Presidential election is not about who endorses you. It's about whether you connect with voters about the things that affect their lives. This is an election, not about the elites. It's about the people.

And so I've been on the ground in Iowa, now, four times, and I've been in New Hampshire several times, and I've been to South Carolina and Michigan. And the truth is, people want someone who will bring this country together. I can promise you, we've never been more divided. And I know I have a record of actually bringing the red places and the blue places together to get things done.

Q: Joe Biden is going to be announcing Thursday. I've been told -- and we'll pick the same claim -- to be able to bring people together red and blue states. He was criticized by several women who said that he touched them appropriately, not in a sexual manner at all, but that he was too familiar. Do you think that that should be disqualifying or should be an issue in the campaign?

A: It’s not disqualifying. But it is an issue that I'm sure voters will want to ask him about. And when he becomes a presidential candidate, which he expects to do shortly, those are questions will have to answer for the voters.

Q: Do you think it's unfair to conflate that, as some do, with the #metoo issues which were arguably --

A: #metoo was very much about creating a space for men and women to come forward to talk about sexual violence, sexual assault, and sexual harassment in their lives, and be able to not only raise their voices and be heard, but have a possibility for justice.

But the #metoo movement is part of a much broader conversation we've been having for a long time, especially since President Trump got elected and started with the Women's March. And so the moment that we're in, Andrea, you know, is much more about giving opportunity for women to be heard, to be believed, and to have an opportunity to be valued, it's why this conversation is broader than just sexual assault and harassment, but also equal pay for equal work. It's about affordable daycare universal pre-K,

Q: Do you still believe that Bill Clinton should have resigned over Monica Lewinsky?

A: I said all that I'm going to say on that issue, but the point I was making is that we have a President in the White House who has over 12 allegations for sexual assault and that we -- as a society -- have to look at these issues far more broadly and hold people accountable.

And the truth is, this moment that we're in isn't just about sexual harassment or sexual assault, it's about whether we value women. That's why we need a leader who's going to bring ideas to the fore, like national paid leave, affordable daycare, universal pre-K, making sure we have equal pay for equal work and making sure that you and I in the workplace don't have to accept a standard of harassment or assault or having to sign mandatory non disclosure agreements just as a measure of employment.

And so we need a leader who's willing to stand up and fight for all Americans and make sure all of us can be heard.

Q: Kirsten Gillibrand. Senator, thank you very much -- you’re a candidate for President and we wish you luck on the campaign.

A: Thank you, Andrea, very much.