The following is the full transcript of an interview with Vice President Kamala Harris that aired Sunday, July 10, 2022, on “Face the Nation.”
ROBERT COSTA: Vice President Harris, let’s begin with the assassination of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Japan is a country with very strict gun laws, little political violence. What was your reaction when you heard what happened?
VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES KAMALA HARRIS: I was shocked, for so many reasons, beginning with the fact that Prime Minister Abe was a great friend to the United States, through many administrations. Our President Joe Biden is very, very fond of him and knew him well. And I’ve met with the most recent- past- Prime Minister of Japan and when we think about the relationship that we have developed over many years, and a shared vision that I think we have for that region of the world, but also the partnership, it was sad and shocking, and there’s no question that the Japanese people are mourning. You know, if you look at his career, too, the length of time that he served really speaks to the impact he had on the country and- and the popularity of his presidency and his leadership. In terms of the issue of gun violence, well, I mean, let’s just talk about that in terms of what it means here in the United States–
ROBERT COSTA: You just visited Highland Park.
VICE PRESIDENT HARRIS: I did. And- you know, I was there within about 24 hours of that tragic act of extreme violence, and I made a point of spending time with the first responders and talked with them about what they’ve witnessed, the absolute tragedy of it all. And you know, I- listen, for a large part of my career, for most of my career, I was a prosecutor. I have looked at autopsy photographs, I have prosecuted homicide cases and when you meet with first responders, when you meet with families of these victims, you cannot avoid the reality of what the impact of this gun violence is on a community, on families, on people who- who love their community, who love their family member, and assault weapons. So let’s just go right to that assault weapons. Assault weapons were specifically and intentionally designed to kill a lot of human beings quickly. It is a weapon of war. If you’ve ever looked at, if I may be so blunt, an autopsy photograph to see what it does to the human body and the fact that we can’t get Congress to renew — it’s not like we’re pulling something out of our hat, we’ve done it before as a nation — to renew the assault weapons ban, is outrageous. And you can support the Second Amendment, I support the Second Amendment, but we should agree we should not have weapons of war on the streets of America. In that case, well known, sadly, a toddler lost both his parents. When I got to the scene, I was greeted by the mayor and- and the chief and the first responders who told me that story. I- and I can’t even imagine what this is going to mean for the life of that child.
ROBERT COSTA: Why do so many mass shooters, often young men radicalized online, seem to still have access legally, to weapons and to slip past red flag laws? Like those in Illinois?
VICE PRESIDENT HARRIS: Because those weapons are available. And we have to stop allowing those weapons to be available to civilians, living in communities of people who have a right to believe that they are not in a war zone. Understand- I mean, in peace loving communities. These weapons are- are transforming those peace loving communities into war zones. You look at the street, that long street where that parade was taking place. It’s a community like any other community, small business owners, shops, people out in their lawn chairs, turned into not only a crime scene but a warzone in terms of the kinds of damage it did, the chaos it created. And the probably permanent sense of fear that the children and the people of that community will have about their vulnerability to weapons like the one in- that was- that were used. It’s wrong.
ROBERT COSTA: Vice President Harris, you were just with President Biden who issued an executive order–
VICE PRESIDENT HARRIS: Yeah.
ROBERT COSTA: –on abortion seeking to expand and bolster access–
VICE PRESIDENT HARRIS: Yeah.
ROBERT COSTA: –but so many Democrats in this country remain very angry about the recent Supreme Court decision.
VICE PRESIDENT HARRIS: Yeah.
ROBERT COSTA: California Governor Gav- Gavin Newsom said this in May. Where the hell is my party? He added that Republicans are winning. Let’s acknowledge that. Is he right?
VICE PRESIDENT HARRIS: Listen, we- I think all of us share a deep sense of outrage that the United States Supreme Court took a constitutional right that was recognized, took it from the women of America. I mean, sit back and think about that for a moment. The highest court in our land just took a constitutional right that was recognized for women to make decisions about their own bodies. And so now we are looking at a situation where the government can tell a person in our country what they can and cannot do with their own body. We are now looking at a case where the government can interfere in what is one of the most intimate and private decisions that someone can make and should be able to make with their pastor, with their prince- with their priests, with their rabbi, with their loved ones and now the government is telling women what they can and cannot do. And so we- we are all outraged in such a fundamental way because this really does hit at the heart of- of the principles upon which our democracy was founded, principles that are about the freedom and liberty that Americans should be entitled to have. It really does get to that, and by the way, you don’t have to agree on the issue of (INAUDIBLE), you know- you don’t have to agree that you want to, or would advocate that you or a loved one would have an abortion, to agree that the government should not be making that decision for any individual woman–
ROBERT COSTA: Should Democrats–
VICE PRESIDENT HARRIS: –you don’t have to abandon your faith, whatever that might be, to agree the government should not be making that decision for a woman and so that’s why I say, let women make those most intimate decisions. Let people make the most intimate decisions that are about what I call heart and home, which includes contraception, which includes same-sex marriage. Let them make that and be free to make those decisions without government interference.
ROBERT COSTA: When you look back did Democrats fail, past Democratic presidents, congressional leaders, to not codify Roe v. Wade over the past five decades?
VICE PRESIDENT HARRIS: I think that, to be very honest with you, I- I do believe that we should have rightly believed, but we certainly believed that certain issues are just settled. Certain issues are just settled.
ROBERT COSTA: Clearly were not.
VICE PRESIDENT HARRIS: No. That’s right. And that’s why I do believe that we are living, sadly in real unsettled times. You know, you look at it in terms of, there’s another example of this point voting rights. You know, my parents were active in the civil rights movement. People marched and fought, broad coalitions of people across race and religion and ethnicity and- and- and gender, to say that, you know, fundamental principle of our- of our democracy is everyone- should have access, who are entitled to have access, to vote. And then we passed the Voting Rights Act to ensure that we would be able to enforce that principle. The court gutted it with Shelby v. Holder in 2013. And now you see states across the country that are intentionally making it more difficult for people to vote. We thought that was settled. We thought that was settled at least by law in the 60’s. We look now at the issue of choice. We thought that was settled. Same-sex marriage, I was a long standing commitment to fight for the civil rights of people to love and marry the person they love. And we thought that was settled with Obergefell. Well, if you read the decision in Dobbs, I do believe that that right to privacy is at risk–
ROBERT COSTA: So, if–
VICE PRESIDENT HARRIS: –of being attacked.
ROBERT COSTA: If all of this is at risk, what will this administration do to try in the coming months before the election–
VICE PRESIDENT HARRIS: Yeah.
ROBERT COSTA: –to codify Roe to try to, through Congress, put into law some of these priorities?
VICE PRESIDENT HARRIS: So we have designed our government that there are three co-equal branches. The court, Congress and then the executive branch, the president. And the court has now acted. The President acted this morning again with an executive order around what we will do through the executive branch to ensure that women have the ability to- to travel freely unencumbered, that women will have access to the medication, but we also need Congress to act because that branch of government is where we actually codify, which means put into law, the rights that again, we took for granted, but clearly have now been taken from the women of America. And that does have to happen and we should not allow ourselves to- to minimize the significance of that, which is Congress needs to act. We’ve seen this in the past, if you think about the Voting Rights Act–
ROBERT COSTA: Sure.
VICE PRESIDENT HARRIS: –Congress acted, Civil Rights Act. Congress acted because where there was any question, especially through the courts or any other system, about the sanctity of these rights, we decided as a nation, we would put it into law. That’s what we need to do with Roe and the principles behind Roe.
ROBERT COSTA: Speaking of Congress acting–
VICE PRESIDENT HARRIS: Yeah.
ROBERT COSTA: –some senators have suggested that Justice Gorsuch, Justice Kavanaugh misled them during the confirmation hearings on Roe v. Wade. Some Democrats have even called for those justices to be impeached. Do you believe they should be impeached?
VICE PRESIDENT HARRIS: I mean, listen, I start from the point of experience of having served in the Senate. I never believed them. I didn’t believe them. It’s why I voted against. And–
ROBERT COSTA: So, what now though?
VICE PRESIDENT HARRIS: Well, what now, we need to understand that states are passing laws because of what the Supreme Court has now allowed to happen. States are passing laws, I think there are about 12 states, for example, I think there are about 12, who have said there’s no exception, even for rape or incest. For a- for a woman or a girl to have access to an abortion and this medical procedure. Most recently a 10-year-old child who is the subject of a clearly a sexual assault, having to go through and endure that kind of injustice and violence and then having to travel to another state and this is just in the first two weeks, I think since after the decision. Can you imagine what this is going to mean? And who- and what other cases there will be that maybe we won’t learn about that will occur? So what does this mean? It means that we’re looking at elections coming up, in 120 something days, they’re going to be about who serves in Congress, and we need a pro-choice Congress. Again, you don’t have to advocate or believe that this is right for you or your family, but don’t let the government make the decision for her family, whoever she may be. It means state offices, governors, secretaries of state, attorneys general. It means local races, who’s going to be your DA, who’s going to be your sheriff, enforcing laws that are being passed to criminalize medical health providers, and maybe even the women who seek the service.
ROBERT COSTA: So a push across the board. The economy, also a key issue for so many Americans–
VICE PRESIDENT HARRIS: Yes, of course.
ROBERT COSTA: –a new jobs report released today, the U.S. added over 370,000 jobs last month, but three quarters of the country, according to a CBS News poll, still feel like the economy is in a bad place. Are you hearing them? And are they right?
VICE PRESIDENT HARRIS: There’s no question that people, working people, are paying more for gas main- paying more for groceries and that is why for our administration, it is one of our highest priorities to bring down the costs. We, as you know, have released the Strategic Petroleum Reserve so that we’re releasing a million barrels of gas a day, of oil a day to bring down the price. We’re seeing prices come down, slowly, but it seems maybe surely. We are doing what we need to do to say that we’ve got to bring down the cost of of childcare and that includes a tax cut that we were able to pass yet not one Republican in the Senate voted for, which is an $8,000 tax cut for families raising children so that they can have a tax cut for food, for medication, for school supplies. We are advocating without any support right now in Congress to bring down the child care costs in terms of paying for a childcare provider. We’re saying working families shouldn’t pay more than 7 percent of their income in childcare costs. So it is our highest priorities to bring down costs in particular for working people in our country and it is- it’s a real issue. There’s no question about it.
ROBERT COSTA: Basketball star Brittney Griner, she remains imprisoned in Russia. You and President Biden spoke with Cherelle Griner, her wife-
VICE PRESIDENT HARRIS: Yes.
ROBERT COSTA: You reassured her, but what kind of reassurance is possible now? She has pled guilty. Is a prisoner swap on the table?
VICE PRESIDENT HARRIS: So first of all, we take very seriously and we’ve been very clear, Brittany Griner, and there are sadly other Americans who are being unlawfully detained around the world, and it is on our highest priority list to bring those folks home. And so you are right, the President and I and- and Jake Sullivan and others have been in touch with Cherelle Griner, Brittany Griner’s wife, to do what we can to lend support. I can’t talk to you about the details, what’s happening behind the scenes, but I can tell you that it is one of our highest priorities to bring these Americans home.
ROBERT COSTA: How confident are you she’ll come home soon?
VICE PRESIDENT HARRIS: It’s- we’re gonna do everything we can to bring her home as soon as possible. That is for sure. That is for sure.
ROBERT COSTA: We’re just months away from the midterm elections. People are looking to this administration, to the White House for a strategy in your party for guidance. Finish this sentence for me. Americans need to vote for Democrats in November because–
VICE PRESIDENT HARRIS: Our democracy is on the ballot. Truly. Truly. If you look at an issue like choice, it’s on the ballot. A woman’s right to make decisions about her own body and potentially what can happen in the not-too-distant future around issues like access to and- and making decisions about contraception or same-sex marriage. What’s on the ballot? We are- we are without any Republican support in terms of when we’re trying to get these bills through, trying to bring down health care costs, trying to bring down the cost of prescription drugs including insulin saying it should be $35 a month. And elections matter. The people who are elected, especially to the United States Congress, will decide the outcome of all of these issues- voting rights, the ability of us to pass voting rights legislation, the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, the Freedom to Vote Act, will be a function of who is in Congress. And I think that we have more on the line now than we have had in recent memory, in terms of fundamental rights, and again, fundamental rights around freedom and liberty.
ROBERT COSTA: When I go around the country as a reporter and I talk to Black Americans, they bring up voting rights, they also bring up police reform–
VICE PRESIDENT HARRIS: Yeah.
ROBERT COSTA: – and they say two years after George Floyd was killed, you have Jayland Walker in Ohio–
VICE PRESIDENT HARRIS: Yeah.
ROBERT COSTA: –60 wounds from police officers–
VICE PRESIDENT HARRIS: 60 gunshots.
ROBERT COSTA: And- 60 gunshots–
VICE PRESIDENT HARRIS: Yeah.
ROBERT COSTA: Gun violence, still killing Black Americans from police officers. Polls, though, show that support for this administration among Black Americans has softened. How will you turn that around?
VICE PRESIDENT HARRIS: Well, first of all, Black Americans, Americans in general should be demanding and rightly, that we pass legislation that addresses these issues that you have mentioned. I was an author of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act. I believe very strongly that we should have accountability in all systems, including in policing.
ROBERT COSTA: But they’re frustrated, police reform has stalled.
VICE PRESIDENT HARRIS: I believe that we need- you’re right. I mean, but again, the- this is the- the- there is a cycle, there is a connection between what we are- what we want to have happen and the power of Congress to actually make it happen. When it comes to changing the laws, when it comes to writing and then putting, in effect, laws that create accountability and greater fairness in our system, be it our criminal justice system, be in our health care delivery system, all of that. But I will say this, what we have also seen is that, Black Americans and all Americans said, look at the United States Supreme Court, there is never in the history of that court been a Black woman to serve. There now is because people stood in line in 2020 for hours, demanding that of the things that they would stand in line to see happen. There would be a Ketanji Brown Jackson on the United States- Justice, excuse me, Ketanji Brown Jackson on the United States Supreme Court. They said, I want to see more support for some of our finest educational institutions that are called HBCUs, and MSIs. And so over $5 billion has gone into because they voted into supporting these institutions. People said, I want to see an extension of the child tax credit. Which we did and in the first year brought down Black child poverty and child poverty in general by about 40% in America. People said, I want to see that you’re going to get lead out of pipes because it is causing irreparable damage and particularly to the children that are drinking water out of those pipes. So we are on track with the bipartisan infrastructure law to remove all lead from pipes and also from paint in the next ten years. People said, especially during the pandemic, it is- it is- there is extreme disparities in terms of how a child can be educated through something like a pandemic based on whether they have access and can afford high-speed Internet. We are now on track to ensure that all families in America will have access and it will be affordable to high-speed Internet. So, there are demands that were made by voters saying, these are the things we want out of this administration. And a lot of those demands have been met in the first year-and-a-half. There’s still more work to do without any question.
ROBERT COSTA: Up on Capitol Hill, there is speculation among some Democrats and some Republicans that President Biden won’t run for re-election in 2024. What’s your message- what’s your message to those who say that?
VICE PRESIDENT HARRIS: Listen to President Biden. He intends to run. And if he does, I intend to run with him. (laughs) So there you go.
ROBERT COSTA: Another run by former President Trump is possible. He is signaling that. Would that make it more likely that the president runs?
VICE PRESIDENT HARRIS: He did it before. So I- you know, listen, honestly, right now, let’s focus on what we got to deal with right now because I know that’s how the President is focused. He’s focused on doing everything that we’ve discussed, bringing down the cost of gas, dealing with- seeing through what we need to do around getting roads and bridges fixed in America, focusing on what we have continued to do under his leadership, which is to improve and strengthen the relationship the United States has around the world. You know, I’ve traveled the world as Vice President, where, you know, I’ve been to Europe now, I think at least three times in connection with a number of issues, including Ukraine, and these leaders, foreign leaders will come up to me and I think nearly three dozen meetings that I’ve had. And first thing they say is thank you and thank President Biden for what he has done to restore America’s role of leadership and partnership on the globe.
ROBERT COSTA: So, all signs point to yes?
VICE PRESIDENT HARRIS: All signs point to good work having happened but more work to get done.
ROBERT COSTA: Another issue is immigration. Texas Governor Greg Abbott this week authorized state officials there to arrest migrants and take them to federal border crossing facilities. And he’s blamed the administration for the immigration issue in his state. He’s called it a, quote, “invasion.” What will the administration do about Governor Abbott’s decision in the migrant issue?
VICE PRESIDENT HARRIS: I would suggest that so called leaders focus on solutions instead of attacks if they really are concerned about a problem, and that includes on the issue of immigration, passing a pathway for citizenship, fixing what, in particular under the prior administration, was a badly broken system. So that we can have a humane and appropriate approach to this issue, including of course, what we will continue to do in terms of prioritizing border security, but understanding we also need to create a pathway. And, and that’s where I think everyone should be focused if they’re actually concerned about solutions instead of flame throwing.
ROBERT COSTA: Vice President Harris, thank you very much for taking the time.
VICE PRESIDENT HARRIS: You’re welcome. Thank you. It’s good to be with you, Bob.
ROBERT COSTA: Good to be with you.