Hillary Clinton on "Ralston Live," with video and transcript


Jon:                 Secretary Clinton, welcome to Ralston Live.  Thanks for coming on.  You repeated a line today in your speech to NALEO that you said Las Vegas when you were at a high school a few weeks ago and it was “If Congress continues to refuse to act,” this is on immigration reform, “as President I would do everything possible under the law to go even further.”  You know what the President’s powers are.  What do you mean specifically?  What could you do more than the President has done?


Hillary:             Well here’s one example that the President has the authority to do, because I’m well aware there is a current legal challenge to the executive orders that the President put forth and what the President did was to try to create categories of people, like the parents of dreamers and others who have roots in our country, made contributions, who work hard, but what the President, a President can do is exercise the discretion that exists already within the law by setting up a system that uses more resources and more personnel to look at the individual circumstances of people.  We do that now.  That’s part of the law.  Like when I was a Senator from New York, occasional people from a community would call, an employer, a pastor, an activist and say, Mr. Carlos so and so, he has been here 30 years and they’re going to deport him and here are all the reasons why you shouldn’t.  You can have the discretion to exercise deferment, to prevent deportation, which gives people more of an opportunity to be able to take a deep breath.  Now that does require shifting resources within the immigration system, but I would do that for example.


Jon:                 You’ve also said that we shouldn’t put children and vulnerable people into big detention facilities because I think they’re at risk there, which is a big problem in this country.  Where are you going to put them?


Hillary:             Well, there’s three things there Joe.  One is I think it is just a fact that so many of the immigrants coming now from the south are no longer coming from Mexico.  Actually the economy in Mexico is doing pretty good and so people are even returning.  We’ve had no net immigration from Mexico in the last few years.  Where they’re coming from is primarily from Central America to flee gangs and drug cartels and high rates of violence and so we need to do everything we can, number one, to prevent them from coming and we’re working much more closely now with Mexico to try to prevent both the dangerous journey that these young people make and to turn them back at the Mexican border instead of letting them get to our border.


Jon:                 You want to build a wall with Donald Trump?


Hillary:             Well, you know we’ve built a wall.  We have built a wall.  We need to make sure people understand we have built a wall, but the fact is that it’s through some pretty tough territory, as you know, along our border, and I think that both President Bush, George W. Bush and President Obama have approved of and Congress has appropriated a lot of money for a wall.  I voted for money for the wall when I was in the Senate, but that is not the answer.  But then secondly, we need to make a much more efficient quick determination if somebody can stay or go and what we’ve done now is unfortunately to warehouse primarily women and children.  That’s who is being held in these deportation centers.  We’ve warehoused them because we don’t have the personnel to send kind of a surge of people in there to hear the cases and make the decisions and I think what we’re seeing is, based on the reports that are coming out from faith groups and human rights and other groups, this is getting to be a bad situation for the families.  So they should either be sent home or they should be sent to relatives with a very clear follow up so that they have to appear, or their cases should be adjudicated.  When there’s an emergency I think you mobilize to try to deal with the emergency and we had an emergency on the border and now I think we have a very serious set of issues arising out of these big deportation centers.


Jon:                 Switching gears, there was a big vote today as you know in the House and TPA was passed again.  You have been a big supporter of free trade, both as a Senator and as Secretary of State, but now you seem to be, I know you’re not going to like this word, waffling, maybe not taking a position on it.  Is it just because you’re afraid of alienating traditional democratic constituencies?  Why won’t you give a full throated endorsement of that as a ****.


Hillary:             Well first, let me set my record straight in the Senate.  I voted for trade agreements that I thought were good for America and I voted against them, including the Multinational Central American Free Trade Agreement.  I voted against giving President Bush fast track authority.  So I try to make a judgment based on the merits and when I was in the Senate there were a number of trade agreements that I thought were good, I said okay I’ll vote for them, and others not.


Jon:                 What is this ****?


Hillary:             That’s what’s so hard.  I don’t know yet.  And this is what I’ve been trying to convey.  Until we know what’s in the agreement, and yes, when it began to be negotiated I said it holds out the promise to be the gold standard.  We’re going to have to do business with some of these big economies like Japans for example, so let’s figure out how we can raise labor standards, health standards, protect the environment, create the best possible trading agreement.


Jon:                 You said that in the past though.  You said TPP will do those things.


Hillary:             And let’s hope it does, but my question now is, see, I have not read it.  It’s only available to people who go to a certain room in the Capitol Hill Complex and they can’t show it to their aides and they can’t even take notes on it, so all I can judge is what people are coming out and telling me and even in my book, Hard Choices, last summer, I said I have real doubt about this so called investor state dispute settlement agreement, which basically means you run a big company, pick a big Asian company of some sort from one of the countries in the agreement and you want to import some kind of food and the local officials, say in Nevada, say, you know what?  That doesn’t meet our standards.  Or the FDA says it, somebody says it, and so you then say wait a minute, under this trade agreement I should be able to do that, so I demand one of these dispute settlement determinations.  Who’s in the room?  Maybe I’m an expert on health and running a hygiene program in Nevada.  Maybe I’m the person who oversees the big casinos’ health standards.  They’ve got lots of people coming, we want to keep them healthy and I say, no, I want to be heard because we found problems in that company’s food and you’re told now, this is just between the company and the local government.  Well that makes no sense to me.  It should be an open process and I have said that. I’ve said that for months now.  So here’s what I…I was willing to wait until I could see what’s in it before I took a decision, like I did when I was a senator.


Jon:                 But you said some very positive things about it many, many times in the past.  You know that.


Hillary:             No Joe, I said positive things about the process and the potential.  Look, if we could get the right kind of agreement that was good for workers, good for wages, good for the environment, labor, safety, health, and good for our national security, that would be great for America.  Some people don’t like any trade agreement and some people are willing to take any trade agreement and those two sides of the debate are not who I’m listening to.  I’m trying to figure out what can we do to get the best possible agreement and that’s why, on Friday, when the House Democrats stopped the process I said, you know, the President and his negotiators should listen, not to the pro and the no, but to the people who say let’s fix this dispute supplement.  Let’s do more to enforce decent labor standards so our workers are not at a disadvantage.


Jon:                 You seem to think the President has mishandled this.


Hillary:             No, I think the President has a hard hand to play and he’s done was well as he could given the demands from these other countries, but I also know, because I’ve been part of seeing trade agreements opened up after fast track, okay, so that you get to a point where you say, okay, we’d like to pass it but only if you make these changes.  Then the other countries, which also have a big stake in it, they come around.  When I was Secretary of State, the Bush administration negotiated a free trade agreement with Korea.  So when President Obama comes in and I come in, we’re presented with this free trade agreement and we say, it’s not strong enough on getting cars for example, American made cars, into that market.  We worked with the UAW, we worked with car manufacturers here and we said we can’t go forward with it unless changes.  That is the kind of negotiation I am proposing.  I’m well aware this is hard work and when you’ve got all these other countries around the table and they’re saying we can’t do this and we can’t do that, of course you’re fighting to try to get the best and what I do believe the President is think is, okay, if I get trade promotion authority, used to be known as fast track, then I can go and I can say to all these other countries, okay, the deal I make can be enforced but I can’t make the deal unless you make these changes.


Jon:                 Last question and hopefully it’s a simple yes or no, but I’m not that optimistic.  If you were in the Senate still, would you vote for TPA when it gets there?


Hillary:             At this point, probably not because it’s a process vote and I don’t want to say it’s the same as TPP.  Right now I’m focused on making sure we get trade adjustment assistance and I certainly would not vote for it unless I were absolutely confident we would get trade adjustment assistance.


Jon:                 Almost a yes or no, I’m impressed.


Hillary:             Well these are complicated issues Joe. 


Jon:                 I agree, I just wanted to ****.


Hillary:             I appreciate your asking about it and giving me a chance to talk about some of the complexity around it.


Jon:                 Another complex issue you address at the beginning of your speech today was what happened in Charleston, the absolute horror that happened there, and the line that you used was “how many people do we need to see cut down before we act?”  If you’re President, how would you act?  What can you do?


Hillary:             Well, I think, look, there are a number of factors feeding into this and I thought President Obama’s statement earlier today was very moving.  We have to have a candid national conversation about race and about discrimination, prejudice, hatred.  The people who do this kind of dastardly horrible act are very small percentage, but unfortunately the public discourse is sometimes hotter and more negative than it should be, which can, in my opinion, trigger people who are less than stable to do something like what we’ve seen.


Jon:                 You can’t stop that though can you Secretary Clinton?  I mean how do you stop it.  I mean the age of the internet and then people posting on social media.


Hillary:             Well, I think decent people need to stand up against it.  We should not accept it Joe.


Jon:                 But how do you stop it?


Hillary:             Well, I think we have to speak out against it, like for example a recent entry into the republican presidential campaign said some very inflammatory things about Mexicans.  Everybody should stand up and say that’s not acceptable.  You know, you don’t talk like that on talk radio.


Jon:                 You can name him.


Hillary:             You don’t talk like that on the kind of political campaigns.  But I think he is emblematic, so I want people to understand it’s not about him, it’s about everybody, but then the second thing is guns.  Let’s just cut to the chase.  It’s guns and we have to have a better balance and I know you’re going to have a universal background check kind of provision on the ballot here in Nevada.  Apparently, the public, I can’t speak…I haven’t seen any recent polls of this state, but the national polls I’ve seen overall, gun owners support that, people who are strong proponents of the second amendment support that, but the Congress stops in the face of tremendous lobbying pressure from the gun lobby, so maybe on a local and state level we have to keep building towards some kind of more sensible balance to policy.


Jon:                 Do you think you’re giving up on Congress being able to pass because of the lobby, because of the NRA lobby?  You don’t think it’s going to happen?


Hillary:             Well, I think we saw that.  We had a bipartisan bill.  We had the republican senator from Pennsylvania and the democratic senator from West Virginia with a bipartisan bill.  People thought it would pass and then at the end, members of Congress were scared that they’d get an opponent.  My husband saw this.  When he passed the ban on assault weapons, a lot of people who voted for it because they knew it was the right thing to do, they didn’t adequately defend their position because they were so just beaten up by the NRA and they lost their seats.  So there’s a lot of fear and I think if you stand up to that fear and you say, look, I’m speaking to law abiding, reasonable people who don’t want guns in the hands of unbalanced people, felons, terrorists, we’ve got to do more.


Jon:                 But if you’d be the President, you’re essentially saying in D.C. we’d have to surrender to the NRA, or even to the states?


Hillary:             No, but I think you’ve got to build it from the bottom up and the top down and we shouldn’t do one without the other because it won’t work.  We need to put people on notice in the states and being to show you can survive by voting for something that the NRA doesn’t like and we’ve got to talk to people who care deeply about the second amendment, that there is a way to protect second amendment rights that can be balanced with protecting people from those who should not have guns.


Jon:                 Final question, I doubt I’ll get a yes or no on this either, but I’m going to try.  Is Yucca Mountain as a nuclear waste dump off the table in a Hillary Clinton administration?


Hillary:             Well, it is off the table based on what I know right now.  It’s off the table based on all of…


Jon:                 You’re equivocating now.


Hillary:             No, I’m not because I was against it based on the research that was made available.  We do need to figure out what we’re going to do with nuclear waste and therefore I would look to leaders who are independent of certain industry pressures or certain political or geographic pressures. In fact, I think there was a recent commission with two very distinguished gentlemen, Lee Hamilton and Brent Scrowcroft, did saying, “Here’s a process for trying to resolve this issue.” But I don’t think we should just default to Yucca Mountain. I don’t think that’s a sensible decision. I think we ought to figure out…let’s talk to the experts, and let’s try to determine what’s the best place, the different states and regions of the country should use for this disposal.

Jon:                  You’re not keeping it completely off the table? You’ll keep it in mind if new information comes to light?

Hillary:              Well, it’s off the table now based on what I know. I think science is always changing. But based on what I know, where it is, the geology of where it is, it’s off the table.





Transcribed by: http://idictate.com