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2020: Kamala Harris on American identity and secret recipes

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California Senator Kamala Harris talks with Jon Favreau about her record as a District Attorney and Attorney General, how she’d get her priorities through Congress, what drives her crazy about the Democratic Party, and her views on immigration, health care, Israel, and more.

Learn more about Kamala Harris here.

Show Notes:

Transcription below:

Interview: Jon Favreau and Kamala Harris

Jon Favreau [00:00:01] Very pleased to welcome to the show, my Senator and one of the leading candidates for the Democratic nomination for president Kamala Harris. Welcome to Pod Save America

Kamala Harris [00:00:10] Great to be back with you

Jon Favreau [00:00:10] Welcome back. Yeah, I think last time

Kamala Harris [00:00:13] We were in San Francisco on stage

Jon Favreau [00:00:14] Yeah we were in San Francisco on stage it was a rowdy crowd

Kamala Harris [00:00:16] That was fun

Jon Favreau [00:00:18] San Francisco have always been our rowdiest crowd

Kamala Harris [00:00:20] Yeah

Jon Favreau [00:00:20] Maybe because it’s like Saturday night and there’s an open bar there but

Kamala Harris [00:00:22] Well, and people are engaged. They’re informed. They’re engaged and they’re huge fans of you and your show. Well I mean you know so they’re there. They’re excited

Jon Favreau [00:00:31] So your mother was a Civil Rights Act

Kamala Harris [00:00:33] Yes

Jon Favreau [00:00:34] You grew up going to protest

Kamala Harris [00:00:35] Yes

Jon Favreau [00:00:37] But you ultimately decided against being an activist yourself and in your book you wrote you know “When activist came marching and banging on doors I wanted to be on the other side to let them in”.

Kamala Harris [00:00:48] Yeah

Jon Favreau [00:00:49] What was appealing about being on the other side of that door to you

Kamala Harris [00:00:53] Part of it was, honestly and candidly the idea that I wouldn’t have to ask permission to do the things that I need. I knew needed to be changed

Jon Favreau [00:01:08] And what do you mean by permission

Kamala Harris [00:01:09] Well for example when I became D.A. of San Francisco you almost immediately after taking the oath I pulled out. I mean I’m going to date myself but I pulled out a yellow pad and a pen and designed from scratch a reentry initiative that was focused on first time, mostly, first time drug sales offenders who were young adults who when they were convicted would be felons for life I knew we needed to do this differently. I knew that most of these and most of them were young men. Most of these young men were in that predicament because they did not have any other opportunities or options. They were doing it because it was a way to make some money and I wanted to I wanted to use the power that I had to show everybody else that there is a different way that this can be done. And so I created one of the first in the nation reentry initiatives. And I’ll tell you Jon when I created this reentry initiative it was called ‘Back on Track’ there were D.A’s Who would say What are you doing? You’re supposed to lock people up not let them

Jon Favreau [00:02:19] What year was this

Kamala Harris [00:02:20] 2004. This was a long time ago

Jon Favreau [00:02:23] Not talking about criminal justice

Kamala Harris [00:02:24] I mean thankfully we’ve come a very far way in a relatively short period of time but back then. Well and part of the way that we designed the program it was about getting people job skills development and training and and jobs and people would say to me “What are you doing? I haven’t committed a crime and I need a job. Why are you giving jobs to them?” I mean this was the mentality right?. But I didn’t have to ask permission. I was the D.A. I was elected. I could do what I wanted. And if the voters didn’t like it they kicked me out. And apparently the voters liked it. And I got re-elected. But I had the ability to try something and and also to use the influence that I had as not only the leader of the office but also understanding that I had the discretion to be able to make those decisions and I didn’t have to convince somebody else that that’s that could I? May I? Exercise my discretion that way

Jon Favreau [00:03:21] From your time as D.A. and then your time as attorney general – What are you most proud of from that record ?

Kamala Harris [00:03:27] I’m very proud of the work we did on re-entry because we ended up, the work that we did at a relatively small scale in the beginning ended up being a model that was replicated in offices around the country the United States Department of Justice designated Back on Track as a model of innovation for law enforcement in the United States. So I’m very proud of that. I’m very proud of the work that we did when I was attorney general. I created a whole new division of the California Department of Justice which is the second largest department of justice second only to the United States Department of Justice. And I named the division the Bureau of Children’s Justice. Why? Well because attorneys general and certainly Attorney General of California which is a state of 40 million people it’s a very powerful office and represents a lot of people. There is the the piece of it that is about law enforcement. There is also the piece of it where the attorney general was responsible for protecting consumers. So you’ll remember in that role I took on the five big banks of the United States around the foreclosure crisis and it was a big battle but we ended up prevailing. So I created the bureau Children’s Justice because I said this we seem to think that consumers are just people who can engage in a financial transaction. And the assumption there that’s an adult somebody owes a credit card the ability to enter into a contract

Kamala Harris [00:04:47] But if you think about it more broadly children are consumers and children consume a lot of goods and services and in particular children and children who are children of color children who are an economically poor communities consume a incredible amount of public goods and services. And I created this division of the Department of Justice saying we need to oversee and make sure the children are getting the benefit of their bargain. So we looked at things like in school districts are the children getting the benefit of their bargain around education? We looked at consumer rights issues because when I stood back as A.G. I looked and there was no State Department that had the responsibility protecting children in that way. So I’m proud of that

Kamala Harris [00:05:39] I’m proud of the work again that we did around the foreclosure crisis. We pushed through, with the help of organized labor, with the help of lots of activists and housing activists. The first in the nation home owner Bill of Rights which we created pretty much with our friends in the legislature out of whole cloth, saying that there should be, legally, certain rights that homeowners have in that in the process of foreclosure because of course when they are foreclosed upon they lose everything that represents their dreams and their hard work. And we need to make sure they’re protected in that process and not taken advantage of

Jon Favreau [00:06:19] Do you wish you had brought, been able to bring a civil claim against Steve Mnuchin? I know people have asked about that

Kamala Harris [00:06:24] Yes and yes but here we had a challenge which is that I didn’t have the power to subpoena the federal the him as a CEO and so we changed that. We actually changed the law.

Jon Favreau [00:06:38] Interesting

Kamala Harris [00:06:39] So that well we have a bill that that seeks to change the law in Washington that was one of the first things that we did so that a state attorney general would have the tools to be able to subpoena and go after what we believed but needed to prove was wrongdoing

Jon Favreau [00:06:52] So when you were D.A. you looked at high school dropout rates and you started sort of a truancy program to sort of reduce high school dropout rates. Then when you were attorney general you supported – you were champion of a 2011 law that was a truancy law. Sort of modeled after your experience as D.A. That law made it a crime for parents who let their kids miss school too many days in a row as a result. You know some parents were arrested for that because of that law, couple went to jail.

Kamala Harris [00:07:27] In other jurisdictions – not under my watch ever

Jon Favreau [00:07:28] In other jurisdictions, this is when you were attorney general

Kamala Harris [00:07:28] I had no control over that

Jon Favreau [00:07:32] Well so I guess the question is would you support that kind of law? The California law as president

Kamala Harris [00:07:37] No I wouldn’t

Jon Favreau [00:07:39] So what went wrong with that versus what you did is D.A

Kamala Harris [00:07:42] Absolutely, unintended consequences. To be frank, when I was D.A. We never sent a parent to jail. The whole point to your to your introduction of the issue was that I took a look at and did an analysis of who are homicide victims were who were under the age of 25. And I learned that over 90 percent were high school dropouts. When I went to the school district I learned that up to 40 percent of the chronically and habitually truant students were elementary school students missing 50, 60 up to 80 days of 180 day school year. And when I looked closer I realized that the system was failing these kids not putting the services in place to keep them in school to make it easier for their parents to do what those parents naturally wanted to do around parenting their children.

Kamala Harris [00:08:33] And so I put a spotlight on it. And as a result of doing that we ended up increasing attendance by over 30 percent because we actually required the system then to kick in and do the services that they were required to do and sometimes had available but they weren’t doing the outreach with these parents. And so that was the whole purpose. The purpose was understanding the significance of third grade reading level. If by the end of third grade a child is not at third grade reading level they literally drop off. And so. And why? Because before third grade they’re learning how to read then comprehension kicks in and they’re reading to learn if they’ve not learned how to read they can’t read to learn. And then they fail.

Kamala Harris [00:09:13] And my concern was if we don’t take seriously the need that we as a society should have to ensure that our children are receiving the benefit of an education. We will pay the price later. And those kids will pay the price which is that they’ll end up in the criminal justice system. And that’s what I wanted to avoid. I wanted to avoid a situation where those children end up being criminalized some for their entire lifetime because we failed them in the earliest stages. And so part of what we wanted to do and what we did successfully when I looked into this issue John, I realized that there was no distinction in the education code between truancy meaning three or four unexcused absences. And what we were seeing which is kids missing as much as 80 days of 180 day school year. So we changed the law to say no we need to understand like you know if you think of it isn’t phases as you know yellow light red light, red light situation is the chronic truancy. And we actually got it in the education code so now it says chronic truancy 10 percent or more of the school year missed because we had to understand institutionally that this was this is a red light warning and we’re failing these kids if we’re not paying attention to the fact that there are kids who are chronically truant. And what that will mean for their lives or that or just that are our failure as a system to let them achieve their capacity.

Jon Favreau [00:10:40] So do you see that the 2011 law shouldn’t have allowed, you know shouldn’t have allowed some of these D.A’s to arrest parents?

Kamala Harris [00:10:46] Yeah because my regret is that I have now heard stories that where in some jurisdictions D.A’s Have criminalized the parents. And I regret that that has happened and and that the thought that anything that I did could have led to that because that certainly was not the intention. Never was, it never was the intention.

Jon Favreau [00:11:09] So you said that when it comes to electability voters are going to want a candidate who has the proven ability to prosecute a case against the president

Kamala Harris [00:11:18] Prosecute the case against the policies of the President

Jon Favreau [00:11:20] Right, right. Yeah sorry. I know some people took that out of context

Kamala Harris [00:11:23] Yes

Jon Favreau [00:11:23] Said you were out there going to prosecute the President. But what does that case sound like coming from you? I remember I was on the Kerry campaign in 2004 and one of our problems was there’s like a million targets that George Bush gives you right. You know he’s incompetent. He’s extreme. He’s the – what to you is the case that you want to make against Donald Trump. If you get up there on that stage next to him.

Kamala Harris [00:11:47] Well it’s it’s first of all to successfully prosecute a case you need to collect the evidence. And there’s a lot of evidence right. There is the evidence that that he has. He has created policies that are absolutely against the principles and the values of who we say we are as Americans and so for example the policy that’s about separating children from their parents at the border in the name of border security when in fact it’s a human rights abuse being committed by the United States government. You can look at a number of things that relate to immigration actually in terms and on that point including what he did with the DACA. DACA was was created by our former president understanding that children who are brought here, many before they could walk or talk, who have been proven to live a productive life there in our colleges and militaries working in Fortune 500 companies that they should be given, if they can clear a vet, if they’ve not committing crimes they should be given protection from deportation.

Kamala Harris [00:12:52] We put a policy in place and when we told these kids that you have to qualify for this protection and give us information we also told them if you give us this information we will not use it against you for the purposes of deportation. This guy comes in and breaks America’s promise to these kids. Right? You can look at the playing politics with trade and conducting trade policy by tweet and and the evidence is clear about how that has hurt American workers be it farmers or folks in industries and the way that this president has conducted himself with this unilateral approach to policy as it relates in particular to issues like trade and foreign affairs and national security and what invariably that will mean in terms of real peril to us as a nation in terms of not only our standing but our security. There is plenty of evidence to prosecute the case against the policies of this president and to show him ill equipped, to lead this nation, ill equipped to be the commander in chief and that he needs to go

Jon Favreau [00:14:07] You mentioned immigration. You’ve been a fierce advocate for immigration for a long time when you were in California Attorney General and D.A. as well. What do you think about Julian Castro’s proposal to decriminalize illegal entry. So it would go back to being a civil infraction. Obviously if you don’t have your papers you could still go through a deportation hearing. You could be deported. But by not criminalizing it you wouldn’t have these long detentions anymore

Kamala Harris [00:14:38] I I’m not familiar with his proposal and I’ll take a look at it. But as a general matter I’ll tell you what I’ve said for years which is being an undocumented immigrant is not a crime. You know I mean that that the idea that people are suggesting that it is a violation of rules there’s not that’s that’s not the point though the way it has been characterized is to suggest that undocumented immigrants are criminals which has led them to this president being able to then suggest that they’re murderers and rapists.

Jon Favreau [00:15:10] Right

Kamala Harris [00:15:10] And so as it as a former prosecutor I will say that this is an absolute mischaracterization of the issue in a way that is deceptive and in a way that is dis-honest and I support anything that is about characterizing it in its proper form and its proper – proper form is to recognize that when people are fleeing harm when they are asylum seekers when they are coming here for opportunity like all the immigrants before them we should not call them criminals. We should and if we’re gonna be true leaders put a path in place to let them gain citizenship which of course that does not exist right now. That’s part of the case against this president. There is a bipartisan bill that if passed and if he would indicate that he’d sign it would create a path towards citizenship for the 11 million plus people who are here. But there’s been a failure and an absence of leadership on this. And you know why. Part of my my theory of this is because this president and this administration needs a villain. They want a scapegoat. That’s what they have done on this issue because of their failure to have a plan for the future of our country. And that relates to a number of things the future of work that relates to the kind of displacement that we’re seeing around the country because of economic issues. But what do they do? They want to create a scapegoat and immigrants and then they pass a tax bill that is designed and it has the effect of benefiting the top 1 percent and the biggest corporations of our country. It’s an abject failure of leadership and they’re playing smoke and mirrors and I would suggest to you that the American public is smarter than that.

Jon Favreau [00:17:03] Would you – Would you go back to the immigration enforcement policies of the Obama administration? Or do you think we need something different? Because obviously they have those have been criticized as well

Kamala Harris [00:17:17] Well I mean you’ll remember that I know there were very few in very rare instances where I disagreed with that administration. This was one of them. Secure Communities was a failure. I studied it and it became clear to me that the policy was leading to ICE picking up people by ICE’s own definition who were non criminals, by ICE’s definition they were not criminals. And being picked up under that policy. And I was opposed to it in fact as attorney general. I then issued a statement to all of the sheriffs in the state of California saying you do not have to honor those detainer requests because they are requests not mandated. And so I would urge you to look at what is being asked of you and make decisions based on what is truly and there just a public safety and I will also say this about that policy and how I feel generally about this issue. And again as a former prosecutor I want that the rape victim that the victim of a you know a horrible crime will be able without any hesitance to run in the middle of the street and wave down the patrol officer

Jon Favreau [00:18:38] Right

Kamala Harris [00:18:40] Instead of having a policy which is what is the natural extension of these kinds of approaches having a policy which makes local law enforcement do the work of immigration enforcement which means that that victim will not report that crime against her because bottom line no matter what bad thing happened to her. She’s also got babies at home and her natural instinct will be to endure any kind of abuse versus letting her children suffer. And these are the real consequences of those kinds of policies which is why I disagreed with the administration before on that secure Communities

Jon Favreau [00:19:21] What does ICE look like under a Kamala Harris presidency and what sort of direction do you give to your DHS secretary? Because I know it seems like eventually in the Obama administration by the end we got there but part of it was you know you have this agency that sort of drags its feet, the bureaucracy drags its feet and it’s tough to change this enforcement policy

Kamala Harris [00:19:41] To your point and I serve on the Senate Homeland Security Committee and I have been, I’m sure they would describe relentless in addressing the failures and the dysfunction of that agency. It has actually been found by an, an audit of sorts to be the most dysfunctional of all federal agencies of its size. It is a massive need of reform. And it’s about its bureaucracy it’s about failure to train. It’s about failure to. To be clear about policy and enforcement of rules and. And so under a Harris administration that, there’s going be a lot of cleaning up. Under Harris administration issues like asylum for example we are going to honor the process and not try to circumvent the process and expedite the process for the sake of of some political goal as opposed to the sake of justice and fairness. And what is right. Under a Harris administration we will reinstate DACA until Congress can get its act together and pass comprehensive immigration reform. Under a Harris administration we will not have local law enforcement do the work of federal immigration officials because local law enforcement needs to deal with their own priorities and issues. And under a Harris administration the president of the United States will not use her bully pulpit in a way that is designed to vilify and scapegoat as opposed to elevate public discourse and reflect the true values of who we are as a country

Jon Favreau [00:21:25] You’ve talked about that your first legislative priority as president is the LIFT act which is a piece of legislation that you’ve introduced in the Senate. It’s basically a two trillion dollar middle class tax cut. It would provide I believe up to three thousand dollars for individuals six thousand dollars for families per year

Kamala Harris [00:21:42] Who make under one hundred thousand dollars a year and for the individual obviously under 50

Jon Favreau [00:21:46] Right OK. What made you decide that that should be the top legislative priority? Obviously there’s a lot of ambitious policies you proposed Medicare for all, Green New Deal, new Voting Rights Act. What what made you think of those

Kamala Harris [00:21:57] And I’m supporting all of those but I will tell you that this is my priority at among priorities. But but a first priority because it’s clear in our country right now almost half of American families are a 400 dollar unexpected expense away from complete upheaval. Four hundred dollars. That could be the car breaks down that could be a hospital bill you didn’t see coming in America today. In ninety nine percent of the counties in our country if you are a minimum wage worker working full time you cannot afford market rate for a one bedroom apartment. In America last year 12 million people borrowed on average 400 dollars from the payday lender at an interest rate of often in excess of 300 percent. America’s economy is not working for working people. And so my first priority and that is why I am, I as president would put this in place. The LIFT act is about lifting up middle class working families so that it is really a simple concept. The tax credit of up to six thousand dollars a year that they can collect at up to five hundred dollars a month which will make all the difference between those families literally being able to get through the end of the month or not. It’s pretty simple and straightforward. Economists have described it as what will be the most significant middle class tax cut we’ve had in generations in large part because it as it has been proven would lift up one in two American families, two in three American children and one in seven Pell Grant recipients. Because remember, and I’ll tell you why it’s one in seven Pell Grant recipients. Statistically one in seven Pell Grant recipients do not, they’re they’re not living with their parents. Right. So it’s those kids are making it on their own without any parental support. This would lift them up as well

Jon Favreau [00:23:56] On health care there’s a Kaiser poll a couple months ago it says 56 percent of Americans would support Medicare for all. That number drops to 37 percent when they hear that you know it means the elimination of private health insurance. Your supporter of Bernie Sanders single payer Medicare for All bill. You’ve also talked about the need to get rid of private insurance. Do those poll numbers scare you? Do they concerned you? Or do you think Democrats can make the argument that we should eliminate private insurance that we’d be better off that way

Kamala Harris [00:24:26] So I do want to correct the record if you will. I’m not saying we need to get rid of private insurance. I don’t believe we need to get rid of private insurance. And if you look at it example, for example under Medicare currently under the current Medicare system private insurance is still there. Medicare Advantage you can get supplemental health care through private insurance. So that’s not my vision that that we would get rid of private insurance. That being said, I believe that the bottom line and anything we can do to deal with this is is something we should consider is that mental health care in America is too expensive. So we have to cut costs and we have to have greater quality of care. And that means a number of things including that people have access to comprehensive host of whatever they need to actually be healthy or to relieve their pain. So Medicare for All is certainly a goal because it can achieve that. But my vision of Medicare for all includes that in Medicare for all everyone would be in the system and that it would include vision care, that it would include dental care, that it would include hearing aids, that it would include maternal health needs, that it would include early childhood development issues, that it would include a heavy emphasis on real resources for mental health. That is my vision of what Medicare for all is, can be, should be, and that’s the goal

Jon Favreau [00:25:51] So all the issues I mentioned, LIFT Act Medicare for all, immigration reform, obviously require legislation to pass Congress. Do you have any hope for bipartisanship if you’re president in 2021? Like do you think there – You obviously served in the Senate. Do you think there are any Republicans in Congress who would support any of those Medicare for all, Green New Deal would be there for that

Kamala Harris [00:26:15] So let me just first tell you, I fully intend to win this election and then looking forward on your point about Congress part of how I think about the what is at stake right now is you know a lot of people talk about the current occupant of the White House and he shouldn’t be there. We gotta get rid of him. That’s a given. Beyond that we really better be focused on the fact that even if the election in November of 2016 had turned out differently we would still be a nation in flux. We would still be a world in flux. We have ascending and descending economies around the world shifting populations in large part because of climate. The climate crisis. We have. So we are in the midst of an industrial and digital revolution

Kamala Harris [00:27:09] So the question before us will be after November of 2020 what will America’s standing be? In the midst of all of this flux and part of the concern that I have is this for the last couple of years we’ve been staring at our belly button while the world is passing us by. And part of the failure of leadership is that we’ve not been addressing core issues that must be dealt with. And it is making us weaker. Congress is not acting on so many important issues. I’ve got a bipartisan bill with James Lankford from Oklahoma because he and I for two years were the only two United States senators who are both on the Homeland Security Committee and the Senate Intelligence community Committee. So we were in a unique position to receive a lot of information that demanded what we did which is to create a priority around improving the security of elections. And the bill essentially would upgrade the state’s election systems. Do you know they won’t put it on the floor for a vote. It’s a bipartisan bill. They won’t put it on the floor for a vote. So this is about critical infrastructure our elections not putting either of them. You look at it in terms of the issues of infrastructure period. Where are we putting that on? We’re not dealing with climate. The climate crisis at all. We are not dealing with issues like immigration at all. And nobody else is going to come into our country and fix our problems and in the midst of us failing to address our problems others are growing and are moving into the places where we have left a space and a vacuum. And so this is a long way of saying this. On day one part of my approach, the metaphorical day one, part of my approach would be to bring Congress together and say guys we got to fix some things because we are becoming weak as a country because of our failure to come together and solve some critical issues and problems.

Jon Favreau [00:29:23] I mean I remember in the 2012 election Obama used to say if I win this one the fever will break. And maybe these Republicans will start working, that did not really happen. And then it seems like the party’s only become more radicalized under Donald Trump. How do you pass this very urgent necessary ambitious agenda? If the Republican Party, Mitch McConnell and the Senate, treat you like they treat Barack Obama

Kamala Harris [00:29:53] Well let me just say that as an aside but really important point. Everybody is focused on the presidential

Jon Favreau [00:30:00] I know I know

Kamala Harris [00:30:01] But just like an 18

Jon Favreau [00:30:03] Gotta win the Senate

Kamala Harris [00:30:04] That’s exactly right. And in 18 when we said take back the House and that became the mantra and that became the the slogan and the cry and the call in the song 2020. Got to take back the White House. Got to take back the Senate.

Jon Favreau [00:30:17] Yeah

Kamala Harris [00:30:18] Because that is a very specific thing that must happen in order for us to get at least in a in a faster way to where we need to go in terms of breaking the gridlock. But I’ll also say this I think it is a mistake to four on the politics of 2020 to put too much emphasis on 2016 because I think that this is a very different time than 2016. And I think 2018 tells us that. I would also suggest that it is different because we are seeing the emergence of these countries. That are are not aligned with us in terms of our values. We are seeing the kind of growth around the world of those who will fill the vacuum that we leave. And on the issue of for example climate and the climate crisis we are seeing each year, shoot every, shoot ,every day. The urgency growing and growing and growing on that issue. So I would suggest that in 2020 there will be it will be much more apparent than it’s been before. Not that it hasn’t been before but more apparent I think than before that that we are facing critical moments that must be addressed

Jon Favreau [00:31:41] Would you consider eliminating or urging the Senate to get rid of the filibuster? If you say if we win the Senate in 2020 we’re still only going to have 51 52 Democratic senators at best. You’re the Democratic president. You’ve got a green new deal on the agenda. You got Medicare for all, the LIFT act. Seems like you could maybe pass through reconciliation so maybe you only do need 51 votes for that but what do we know, what’s, what’s more important I guess the institutions in the Senate in keeping the filibuster or I just got to get some stuff done

Kamala Harris [00:32:13] So I am open to the discussion but I would suggest that in addition to the concern about keeping the tradition of the institution there is a practical concern that I have which is were it not in place. They probably would have run roughshod over Planned Parenthood and all that we need around women’s access to reproductive health and choice – word in place. This this approach that is being advocated we probably would have lost the Affordable Care Act. So I I. Those are my concerns. While recognizing fully recognizing what the obstacles that filibuster also presents

Jon Favreau [00:32:58] Right, So Trump famously picked his Supreme Court judges from a list of 25 nominees that a bunch of right wing groups put together. Would you consider putting together a list of potential Supreme Court justices? How do you think about you know what a Supreme Court justice should be? Have you thought about any potential great Supreme Court justices that we should have on the bench

Kamala Harris [00:33:21] Well I I will say this about the Supreme Court of the United States, it is, it is one of the most important symbols of our commitment or lack of commitment to the concept of justice. You know inscribed on that marble. Equal justice under law. That we have said it is our, is our ideal. Right. You know we and we have many ideals, many important ideals. And part of our strength is that we fight to reach them. Part of our strength is also we’re clear eyed and realizing we haven’t yet reached that yet but it is such an important institution for so many reasons that are practical and also a statement about who we are in terms of our democracy and our strength as a democracy. And then by extension our strength around the world because we are a democracy. Okay so I’ll say that that’s one way that I think of the United States Supreme Court. An additional way that I think about the United States Supreme Court is this had that court not decided Brown v. Board of Education, I would literally not be in this interview with you. And there are so many other issues. I was proud as the attorney general California to refuse to defend what I believe was clearly an unconstitutional law which would which denied same sex couples the ability to marry

Jon Favreau [00:34:49] Right

Kamala Harris [00:34:50] Had we not pushed that case in the direction that it went that the United States Supreme Court would not have ruled so that wedding bells then rang around the country thankfully. Right. So the decisions made by the United States Supreme Court have real impact on real human beings every day. And for that reason we must all have a sense of urgency about who is the president of the United States and who is appointed to the United States Supreme Court. That being said I will remind you it was Earl Warren, former attorney general of California actually, who was the Republican nominee to the United States Supreme Court who led then a united a unanimous United States Supreme Court to decide Brown v. Board of Education. Another one of my heroes and one of the reasons I actually wanted to be a lawyer as a child is Thurgood Marshall who was a great civil rights activist what never been a judge and was appointed to the United States Supreme Court. So you can look at the history of some of the most noble and important decisions that have been made by that court. And then look at who was on the bench at that time and you’ll see a whole assortment of people who each, even if dependent, regardless of their party at least in these two examples were committed to what’s inscribed on that wall to to making sure that justice and equal justice under law came out of that building. So I don’t necessarily. I don’t have a list.

Jon Favreau [00:36:26] Yeah

Jon Favreau [00:36:31] **Crosstalk

Kamala Harris [00:36:31] I’m open to submissions for that list. From anyone

Jon Favreau [00:36:35] Perfect, send Senator Harris your list

Kamala Harris [00:36:37] But what would be important to me is that, that I think is really critically important that people who serve on the United States Supreme Court have a diversity and a variety of life experiences. I really strongly believe that because again back to the earlier point. The decisions that court makes has real and direct impact on real human beings. And we want to know that when that decision is made on high in what could otherwise feel like an ivory tower

Jon Favreau [00:37:08] Right

Kamala Harris [00:37:08] We want to make sure that the people making those decisions understand how that’s going to hit the streets and what it’s going to mean. So that’s one of I think an important quality

Jon Favreau [00:37:18] A few quick foreign policy questions. Bebe Netanyahu just won re-election. One of his promises right before the election was he said he might annex West Bank settlements. If you’re President Netanyahu decides to annex West Bank settlements. What do you do

Kamala Harris [00:37:38] Well I’m completely opposed to a unilateral decision to annex and, and my then I would express that opposition

Jon Favreau [00:37:46] How do you how do you see sort of your support for Israel which I know you’re a strong supporter of Israel with the policies under Netanyahu and the direction he’s taken our politics? Like what, what, what can you do as president to show that yes we support Israel but I’m unhappy with the direction

Kamala Harris [00:38:07] Yeah sure. So you know let me be clear. I support the people of Israel. And I’m uh So I’m unambiguous about that right. I’m supporting the people of Israel does not mean it should not be translated to supporting whoever happens to be in the elected office at that moment. And so my support of Israel is strong and it is sincere. There is also no question that we must speak out when human rights abuses occur. We must work with our friend, which is Israel, to to to do those things that we collectively know are in the best interest of human rights and and democracy because it is that shared commitment to democracy that from which the relationship was born and so we have to hold on to that

Jon Favreau [00:39:01] Right

Kamala Harris [00:39:02] Right. I also believe that there is no question a Harris administration would be very forceful in working toward a two state solution. That has to happen

Jon Favreau [00:39:15] What kind of diplomatic pressure could you exert on Israel to make sure that that happens or at least push them towards that direction

Kamala Harris [00:39:21] Well there are a number of things I mean but it has to be about opening a channel of communication that is that is honest and I’m not informed by a lack of information or a lack of historical perspective or a lack of concern. And I think that all of those are concerns that we should have about the current administration

Jon Favreau [00:39:48] Venezuela. Would you take the military option off the table

Kamala Harris [00:39:52] At this point, yes. I don’t believe that we should. I do not believe that we should take military action at this point

Jon Favreau [00:40:00] What drives you crazy is about the Democratic Party? What do we get wrong and what should we be doing better

Kamala Harris [00:40:06] A couple of things. I’ll just be very clear

Jon Favreau [00:40:11] Yeah wait no it’s great

Kamala Harris [00:40:13] We’ll see what repercutions follow. I think we could do a much better job because you said the party

Jon Favreau [00:40:22] Yeah

Kamala Harris [00:40:23] So I’m not talking about Democrats not the party the structure

Jon Favreau [00:40:25] We’re all perfect, all of us are perfect

Kamala Harris [00:40:26] Right, We’re otherwise perfect. And so I will say two things one I. This is not about a statement of who’s currently leading the party. Just a general statement about where we’ve been

Jon Favreau [00:40:38] Sure

Kamala Harris [00:40:39] We could do a much better job reinforcing the states and their Democratic parties. I know there are certain states that through the strength of the leadership in those states and kind of the what however their their system has been in place and has been fortified especially in those off cycle years. They’re very strong. There are others that have atrophied. And at a national level we should be paying attention to that. And also should agree that we can’t just helicopter in the States at the time of the big election. That is the fancy election that everybody’s talking about. And then we pull out right after you can’t win. And and also because look everything that has happens at the national level you just go back and do the math and you can see a connection to what happened at the state level both in terms of issues like redistricting but in terms of who is secretary of state and what and who was elected attorney general and what that meant in terms of what was the Affordable Care Act going to be challenged or not who is going to conduct the voting and conduct the elections of that state and what that means not terms of national implications

Kamala Harris [00:41:56] So that would be one the second would be I think it’s really a mistake to fall into a trap that start. I think it may be predated it but November right after the morning after November of 2016 which is a conversation that I’ve heard many times which suggest hey we got to go get back that guy in the Midwest which is code and the conversation happening one part of why I have a problem with it is. So if that is what that’s supposed to be referring to is blue collar working guy we’ve always been the party that has been the fighter and the protector of working people of organized labor of of of all that that they deserve in terms of the dignity of work in terms of receiving wages and benefits commensurate with the value of that that they produce. So a concern I have is that yet again it’s it’s you know it started or it was active this conversation in the autopsy of November of 2016 and it has continued to today who could talk to the Midwest? Really? OK so you’re are you suggesting then that there’s a different conversation that happens in coastal states? Are you suggesting there’s a different conversation that happens in the south? Like what exactly are you saying when you say that

Jon Favreau [00:43:24] Well how do how do you think about the voter who voted for Barack Obama in either eight or twelve voted for Donald Trump in 16 and then in a bunch of districts decided to vote for the Democratic candidate in 18. I mean we we did win some of those voters back. How do you think about that voter what motivates that person how you should talk to that person

Kamala Harris [00:43:48] Well I’ll tell you that I’ve first come from a place of deep deeply held belief that the vast majority of us have so much more in common than what separates us. And the way I think about it is what I call the middle of the night thought the 3:00 in the morning thought the the witching hour. You know when people wake up in the middle of the night that thing that’s been weighing on you right. Well for the vast majority of us when we wake up thinking that thought it is never through the lens of the party with which we’re were registered to vote

Jon Favreau [00:44:18] That’s true

Kamala Harris [00:44:19] For the vast majority of us when we wake up thinking that thought it is never through the lens of some simplistic demographic a pollster puts us in. And for the vast majority of us when we wake up thinking that thought it usually has to do with one of just a very few things our personal health of our children or our parents for so many Americans can I get a job keep a job pay the bills by the end of the month retire with dignity for our students can I pay off those student loans for so many Americans can I help my family member get off their opioid addiction. The vast majority of us have so much more in common than what separates us and I’m going to tell you as I’m traveling around the country as a candidate for president that is reinforced to me every day. And so I think that’s how we talk about it. At least that’s the spirit with which we think about issues that black or Latino mom and that guy in the Midwest

Jon Favreau [00:45:14] ***Crosstalk**

Kamala Harris [00:45:19] They’re waking up in the middle of the night having the same thoughts. So back to your question about Democratic party it’d be a huge mistake for us to fall into a trap, of denying the commonality of experiences and I do want to add though that I also believe and I gave a speech at Netroots Nation about this that we also cannot fall in the trap of this stuff that centers around this term identity politics right. So let’s talk about that for a minute. From my perspective the term identity politics is the new word. It’s the newest version of though that phrase “race card” so people will talk about oh we can’t talk about identity politics right. And so when they bring that up it’s meant to either marginalize the topic of discussion or just shut you up or quiet you down. So here’s how I feel about it when it’s brought up identity politics. It’s usually when we’re talking about race, gender, sexual orientation. So here’s how I think about that where America stands on those issues which often are about civil rights, where America stands on those issues is about America’s identity, so don’t come at me and Democratic Party don’t fall into a trap of sale we can’t talk about identity politics. What? Where America stands on those issues is about America’s identity

Jon Favreau [00:46:58] Bernie Sanders just did a Fox News town hall. It’s been reported that now Mayor Pete Buttigieg is in talks with them to do one as well. Would you consider doing a Fox Town Hall? Is that something that –

Kamala Harris [00:47:08] Well, I haven’t considered it. I’ll think about it

Jon Favreau [00:47:11] What do you think about that audience like trying to reach that audience? You think that’s hopeless

Kamala Harris [00:47:17] I mean Let me tell you I plan to compete for every vote. And as far as I’m concerned every vote is on the table and I’m not excluding anyone in terms of trying to earn their vote and compete for their vote. So you know the audience is. That’s how I feel about the audience. You know them but we could talk. I think there’s a whole other conversation to be had about how Fox News does their work and the bias with which they do it

Jon Favreau [00:47:43] Yeah for sure

Kamala Harris [00:47:44] Right. Yeah

Jon Favreau [00:47:45] You know really fascinating passage in your announcement speech. You said. “Some say we need to search to find that common ground. I say we need to recognize that we are already standing on common ground.” And then you said “I’m not talking about unity for the sake of unity and I believe we must acknowledge that the word unity has often been used to shut people up or preserve the status quo.” What do you mean by that

Kamala Harris [00:48:05] Yeah. I mean that

Jon Favreau [00:48:07] Were you refeering to anyone specific

Kamala Harris [00:48:07] No I wasn’t referring anyway I mean this is this is you could just different moments in history but the idea being that it’s the same point I guess I was partly making about the identity puzzle piece which is unity for the sake of unity meaning that in order for us to be unified certain people have to suppress their issues are suppressed an issue, No. Yeah. You know it’s you know kind of like hey everyone has to get along so stop mentioning that thing that is an issue in a certain community because we all need to get along and be unified. No then that’s not truly unity. True unity is when everyone has equal voice when when the issues that that that impact people are treated with equal respect and priority

Jon Favreau [00:48:59] You’ve experienced a lot of firsts in your career. Historic first San Francisco D.A. who was female, who’s black, who’s Asian-American. First California attorney general who’s female who’s black who’s Asian-American as you think about the historic first that could come

Kamala Harris [00:49:13] Second black woman to be elected Senate United States Senate in the history of the United States Senate

Jon Favreau [00:49:18] Yes. And then if you become president first black woman first woman first black woman president states. How do those weigh on you? Those those first thinking about those firsts or do they

Kamala Harris [00:49:30] So every time I’ve been elected these reporters would come up to me put a microphone in front of me and ask this really original question. So what’s it like to be the first “fill in the blank.” To which I would respond Well I don’t really know how to answer that question because I’ve always been a woman but I was sure a man could do the job just as well

Jon Favreau [00:49:52] All right good answer

Kamala Harris [00:49:56] And you know or people will say OK because you’ve been the first woman this woman that woman to do these things talk to us about women’s issues to which I will respond. You know I am so glad you want to talk about the economy. Sometimes I’ll say I’m so glad you want to talk about national security. Right. Like what

Jon Favreau [00:50:16] Those are woman issues

Kamala Harris [00:50:17] These are all women’s issues and women’s issues should be everyone’s issues. That being said I do also fully understand and carry as a real weight of responsibility understanding what it means in terms of my ability to break these barriers what it will do and can do to provide a path for others. My mother used that many sayings and one of them she’d say commonly you may be the first to do many things. Make sure you’re not the last. And I carry that with me as a great responsibility. Some might even say a great weight of responsibility I take it very seriously

Jon Favreau [00:51:02] You’re a fantastic cook

Kamala Harris [00:51:03] Yes. I love to cook

Jon Favreau [00:51:04] When you don’t get to cook because you’re on the trail too much. What’s your favorite junk food

Kamala Harris [00:51:09] Okay. Well. My whole guilty pleasure passion is nacho Doritos. But then-

Jon Favreau [00:51:17] I heard you ate a whole bag of them all by yourself

Jon Favreau [00:51:18] *Crosstalk**

Kamala Harris [00:51:21] And then I – My second favorite is cheese popcorn. Like any white cheddar cheese popcorn. I likes crazy

Jon Favreau [00:51:27] Areas from Chicago

Kamala Harris [00:51:29] Yes, I love but I don’t like it mixed with the carmel

Jon Favreau [00:51:31] Yeah. No

Kamala Harris [00:51:32] I really don’t like me. And then I pick them out and you know like there’s a garrets. It’s like they opened a pop up in National Airport. And I was trying to talk to the guy about can you just give me the cheese. But that being said I do love to cook I love love love to cook and and you know what I’ve started doing

Jon Favreau [00:51:54] Whats that

Kamala Harris [00:51:55] So on the road I’ve asked the team that when we do get to eat anywhere I would really prefer that it be a family owned run restaurant

Jon Favreau [00:52:05] Oh that’s nice

Kamala Harris [00:52:06] And and so that’s what we’ve been doing as much as we can. And I’m collecting recipes

Jon Favreau [00:52:12] Oh from all the family, mom-n-pop family owned restaurants

Kamala Harris [00:52:14] Oh yeah. So like there is a place in Reno Nevada. Sabrina’s and I, So we walk in and where it is and it was like the small she’s got a small kitchen. It’s a small restaurant. She comes out to greet us and we’re sitting down and we all ordered. I had these incredible enchiladas and she’s got this cilantro coconut price on the side to die for

Jon Favreau [00:52:41] Say I’m one of those weird cilantro people

Kamala Harris [00:52:43] Oh you are? You’re not going to appreciate it but OK OK well I’ll be a little listening audience love so. But it’s so good it’s so good. And I was like, Can I get the recipe? And she looked at me she’s like nope. And I’m like OK well do. No wait. And then we stayed and we stay and then we hung out. We hung out for a minute the whole time we were all having lunch together and then finally as we’re leaving she walked up to me and whispered the recipe in my ear. And I cooked it. And it’s is so damn good

Jon Favreau [00:53:13] One voter at a time right there

Kamala Harris [00:53:15] So I’m collecting recipes so that for example Rodney Scott in South Carolina you know South Carolina there’s a whole thing about BBQ. But like one region vinegar based another region mustard based. Another region a region tomato base and do not confuse which region does what cause they will throw you out. So Rodney Scott is this guy who it was his family’s barbecue place. He inherited it. He’d got a James Beard nomination

Jon Favreau [00:53:45] Oh wow

Kamala Harris [00:53:47] And so we went and hung out there and I tried to get his recipe for the barbecue sauce. He didn’t give it to me but I’m going back to

Jon Favreau [00:53:56] Couple more trips Back there

Kamala Harris [00:53:57] And like the best greens you’ve ever had

Jon Favreau [00:54:01] This is making me want BBQ. All right. Kamala Harris thank you so much for joining us

Kamala Harris [00:54:05] It’s great to be with you

 Jon Favreau [00:54:06] Good luck out there. Thank you

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