Transcript: Sen. Tim Scott on "Face the Nation," Feb. 18, 2024

The following is a transcript of an interview with Republican Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina that aired on Feb. 18, 2024.

ROBERT COSTA: We turn now to South Carolina’s other Republican senator, Senator Tim Scott. He joins us this morning from his home state. Senator, thanks for being here. Former President Donald Trump has spent a lot of time in the courtroom in recent days. And his opponent Nikki Haley says that’s a burden potentially for Republicans nationwide to have a standard bearer who’s in the courtroom. Does she have a point?

SENATOR TIM SCOTT: She does not, here’s what we know, without any question, that this has only exposed the two-tiered justice system that many Americans fear. You have a justice system that hunts Republicans, while protecting Democrats. Bob, one of the most compelling pieces of evidence towards this fact is Special Counsel Hur’s report that said that absolutely without any question, Joe Biden mishandled classified sensitive material. At the same time, you have courts actually targeting and running after Republicans. Not just however, the former president, but whether it’s pro-life activists or folks showing up at school board meetings, being referred to by this Department of Justice as domestic terrorists. We have a two-tiered justice system that is being exposed. And what many Americans–  


SEN. SCOTT: — feel, Bob– 

ROBERT COSTA: — Senator, 

SEN. SCOTT:–  is that what’s happening to President Trump could happen to them just as well. 

ROBERT COSTA: Senator, that Hur report you speak of has been harshly criticized by the Biden White House. Former President Trump is also facing– 

SEN. SCOTT: — Of course, it has.

ROBERT COSTA: — an investigation. 

SEN. SCOTT:  It’s undeniable though. 

ROBERT COSTA: He’s also facing, former President Trump’s also facing his own classified records investigation from the Justice Department. And you see right now that you talk about the Justice Department being weaponized, but that’s a claim made without evidence here, that, there’s that it’s somehow being weaponized, you have to have intent–

SEN. SCOTT: Well– 

ROBERT COSTA: –when it comes to making that kind of claim.

SEN. SCOTT: Here’s what we see; Special Counsel Hur’s report is crystal clear. That the President of the United States is too old, his memory, faulty, which makes him sympathetic for a jury so they’re not moving forward with charges. 

ROBERT COSTA: — But, okay- let’s move–  

SEN. SCOTT But the report is clear– 


SEN. SCOTT: — That he mishandled- that he mishandled classified material. That report is 

ROBERT COSTA: And there was no charge – 

SEN. SCOTT: – crystal clear, Bob. I think we can agree on that. 

ROBERT COSTA: The characterizations have been highly contested, and there was no charge included in that report. But when it comes to former President Trump, Senator Scott, do you believe the RNC, the Republican National Committee should be involved in paying his legal expenses, which are mounting?

SEN. SCOTT: I can only tell you that without any question, when you look at the two-tiered justice system that we have that I just re– reinforced, I think it’s important for us to note that without any question, the American people are very concerned about how that would impact their lives. Their issues are very clear by the way. The American people are more focused on their future than Donald Trump’s past. What they’re more focused on is making sure that our southern border is secured. We’re looking at almost 10 million illegal crossings by the election. The American people aren’t asking the questions about legal challenges. The American people are asking questions about economic challenges. When two thirds of Americans according to a few polls, say that they don’t have $1,000 in their savings account. Joe Biden’s inflation has also increased interest rates that has decimated savings and investments for people living paycheck to paycheck. These are the top issues that Americans are talking about. They’re not talking about legal challenges. They’re talking about their challenges across a kitchen table.

ROBERT COSTA: And you were just in Eagle Pass with Senator Graham on Friday – 

SEN. SCOTT: Yes sir. 

ROBERT COSTA: – Focused on border security, you are being mentioned as someone who’s a possible vice presidential contender for former President Donald Trump. Should you be- ever become vice president, whether it’s this time around or in the future, an important question is how do you specifically see the role of Vice President on the day of congressional certification? What do you believe, Senator, is the role of a vice-president on the day of congressional certification?

SEN. SCOTT: Well, here’s what I’m not going to do is answer questions that are hypothetical about the past. The one thing we know about the future is that the former president, fortunately, he’ll be successful in 2024, he won’t be facing that situation again. So what we should focus on is what will cause the former president, President Trump, to be the next president of the United States. It will be those issues that I’ve articulated, in addition to that, the lack of law and order in the streets of America. I’m not going to sit here and have a hypothetical conversation– 


ROBERT COSTA: No I’m not asking you about- Senator– 

SEN. SCOTT: — about something you and I both know, cannot happen– 

ROBERT COSTA: — Senator, I respect your point of view-on that, but – 

SEN. SCOTT: — and that is just a fact.


ROBERT COSTA : I’m not asking you a hypothetical question. I’m asking you a constitutional question. How do you see the role of vice-president in terms of the congressional certification?

SEN. SCOTT: The constitution is very clear.

ROBERT COSTA: So- and you stand by your decision–

SEN. SCOTT: This- this- this- Of course I do. There- there- there’s not a question that- that we’re going to ask and then have answered about the past. I’m not changing my position. I’m stating very clearly that the American people are very concerned about 70,000 Americans losing their lives to fentanyl. And you’re asking a hypothetical question that you know has no actual ground to stand on for the future. We’re talking about 10 million illegal immigrants coming across our southern border. And according to the Biden administration, 85% of those folks allowed into our country. We’re talking about the- the loss of law and order in the poorest communities in this country. Instead of having conversations about these incredibly important issues.

ROBERT COSTA: Senator, I respect your position on the focus–


SEN. SCOTT: We’re gonna talk about the–


ROBERT COSTA: –I’m just saying for someone who’s being mentioned as a possible vice president, it’s fair to ask how they see that role, that- that duty of a vice president on that day. Let’s move on to politics. 

SEN. SCOTT: Sure. 

ROBERT COSTA: Nikki Haley has been tough. She has been a longtime ally of yours, not so much anymore. Her son, her adult son, Nalin, has referred to you as Judas for endorsing former President Donald Trump. What’s your response to Nalin Haley and to Nikki Haley, who has not really disavowed that comment, though she’s kind of shushed her son from time to time?

SEN. SCOTT: Well, here- here’s what I’d say. Politics makes people and their families desperate. It’s unfortunate for a person with a high caliber of an individual that she has been, to stoop down to having her and her family refer to me or anyone else as Judas Iscariot, or any other name calling. The one thing I will say to your viewers, when you are attacked, please remember this, do not take criticism for someone you would not take advice. And in addition to that, because I am going to church in a little while, Matthew 5:44 reminds us to pray for those who persecute you, and to love your enemies, we have to find in our hearts the way of forgiveness. I- I know that they’re in a heated race. I know that it’s not going their way, they- they’re going to lose their home state. There’ll be a devastating loss here in South Carolina. It was a devastating loss in New Hampshire, there’s not a state coming forward that she’s going to win. So I get the name calling. But it’s not about me, frankly, it’s about the American people. So I- I hope that they get back to focusing on the underlying issues. But until then–

ROBERT COSTA: Speaking of that, Senator–


SEN. SCOTT: I’ll continue to remind myself to be for- forgiving–

ROBERT COSTA: Should- should former President Trump–

SEN. SCOTT: –in that abil- in that process.


ROBERT COSTA: And just final thing here, speaking of name calling, you say focus on the issues, should former President Trump stop calling Ambassador Haley “bird brain”?

SEN. SCOTT:  Well, I- I think her- her son should stop calling me Judas Iscariot. So there’s lots of things that we can talk about. But let’s just keep our focus on the American people and why it’s so important for us as elected officials to focus on their issues. One of the reasons why President Trump is leading so significantly in the polls, one of the reasons why he actually won more women in New Hampshire in the poll- in- in the results of the election, than Nikki Haley did, because- because he was focusing on law and order, and securing our southern border, and safety in our streets, improving our economy. These are the issues that we should focus on, not the back and forth and the challenging times in which we live, and the simple comments that are- you know, they’re throwaway comments long term, but they can do damage short term.

ROBERT COSTA: Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina, we appreciate your time. “Face the Nation” will be back in one minute. Stay with us.

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