President Trump called for unity during the State of the Union, but another government shutdown looms in 10 days if negotiators can’t agree on a border security bill Mr. Trump would sign. In an interview with “CBS Evening News” anchor Jeff Glor, Vice President Mike Pence called the situation at the border a “humanitarian crisis,” and echoed the president’s call for a wall.
The full transcript of Glor’s interview with Pence is below.
JEFF GLOR: Mr. Vice President, thank you very much for your time.
MIKE PENCE:Good morning, Jeff.
JEFF GLOR: The president last night didn’t issue a direct demand last night about the wall. There was certainly no ultimatum. Does that mean he’s not prepared for a second government shutdown, or to declare a national emergency?
MIKE PENCE: Last night, the president, in that State of the Union address laid out, not only the great progress we’ve made as a country but the challenges that we face on our Southern border. We truly have a humanitarian and security crisis at our Southern border.
And what the American people heard last night and what — what people around the country I think have — have connected to is the president’s talking about building a wall, a steel barrier on the Southern border in the areas that are most needful.
But he’s also talking about additional personnel, additional detection technology, all the things that our experts tell us that they need to address the, not only the flow of illegal immigration, criminal elements coming across our border like MS-13, but the flow of narcotics, human trafficking, all those things that are besetting our country. And I think as the American people heard the president’s plan they could hear in his voice his determination to end the crisis at our Southern border. And that’s what he called on Congress to do.
JEFF GLOR: But how — but how can it be, as he says, an urgent national crisis and not a national emergency?
MIKE PENCE: Well–
JEFF GLOR: What’s the difference?
MIKE PENCE: Well, the– look, the president’s made it very clear he believes he has the authority to declare a national emergency at our Southern border. But last night’s message to the American people and specifically to the Congress was that Congress needs to come together around common sense solutions to address a crisis that frankly leaders in both political parties have ignored now for decades.
And we believe that we can do it. But I think what people heard last night was the president made it very clear we — we — he’ll build a wall one way or another. But it’s — but in the work that the conference committee is doing even as we speak this week and they’ll hear from experts today, career officials that we charge with protecting our homeland and securing our border. He’s calling on the Congress to do their job. And I hope that as the American people looked on that Congress will heed that call.
JEFF GLOR: There’s a lot of Republicans we’ve heard from who don’t want a national emergency declared. Democrats, many Democrats are promising to move forward with this disapproval if he does that.
MIKE PENCE: Well, I — I hear all of that. Obviously, literally since the nation’s founding, presidents have had the authority under the Constitution to address real national emergencies.
JEFF GLOR: But that’s where there’s been a controversy —
MIKE PENCE: That’s been a statute for decades.
JEFF GLOR: This is not — this is — when there’s something less controversial, when there was a national emergency declared after 9/11 or after a medical national emergency. This is different.
MIKE PENCE: Well, as you know, since the statute for national emergencies was placed in the U.S. code, it’s literally been used dozens of times by presidents. And many national emergencies are still on the books today. But, look, with the — the case the president made to the American people last night, and the approval that even your ownshowed, I think it is a reflection of the reality the American people see.
MS-13 claiming lives and — and wreaking havoc and violence in more than 20 American cities. A flow of narcotics that — that literally claims tens of thousands of lives. I mean, th — it — it — it is — it — it is a truly a crisis. The president called on the Congress last night to come together in a spirit of unity, move beyond politics, move above the politics for the moment, and address that crisis.
JEFF GLOR: There was no mention last night of the government workers whoduring the shutdown. Why not acknowledge their sacrifices?
MIKE PENCE: Well, as you know, from the very first day of the government shutdown, Jeff, the president and our entire administration were working on — on a principled compromise that could have avoided the shutdown altogether. But I — what the president wanted to focus on last night was not only the great progress that we’ve made, more than 5 million jobs, a world where we’ve seen transformational change in our relationship with North Korea and the progress that we’re making in new trade agreements around the world.
But also I think the president in a very real sense wanted to say, “We have great challenges as a country, but we can come together to solve those challenges. But it will take a renewed spirit of unity to accomplish that.” Focusing not so much on the past, not so much on the divisions of the past, but focusing on the opportunities we have to work together in the future.
JEFF GLOR: But some of those workers really suffered. Why not take a moment to thank them and acknowledge what– what did happen?
MIKE PENCE: Well —
JEFF GLOR: 35 days?
MIKE PENCE: Well, as the government shutdown came to an end, the president did just that. And you know, I — I’ve spent some time just over the last few days with members of the Coast Guard who — who — who went without pay for a period of time. And we appreciate all those federal workers and their families that made sacrifices through that.
Look, we can work this through. The Congress can do its job. We hope that by the end of this week there’ll be an agreement in principle that– that will allow us to secure our border, address the humanitarian and security crisis in a very real way, fund the government, and then move forward on all those other priorities that the president laid out last night. You know, it’s important to note — and — and — we talked about this recently, Jeff. There were bipartisan accomplishments in the last two years in this Congress. The First Step Act, criminal justice reform that the president —
JEFF GLOR: We talked about it last night.
MIKE PENCE: Celebrated last night in his State of the Union address, the Farm Bill, VA accountability and VA choice. We’ve demonstrated the ability to work together across the aisle, even before Democrats controlled one chamber of the Congress. We can bring that same spirit to address issues like infrastructure, new trade agreements, and also, most importantly, to deal with the crisis at our Southern border.
JEFF GLOR: Do you think the shutdown was a mistake?
MIKE PENCE: I — I never think it’s a mistake.
JEFF GLOR: Why?
MIKE PENCE: To stand up for what you believe in. And I — I think what the American people admire most about this president is he says what he means and he means what he says. In a very real sense he said there’s a crisis at our Southern border. He said he was determined to get the funding, to build a wall and– and secure our border. And he was willing to take a stand to accomplish that.
Now, we — we agreed to reopen the government for three weeks because after talking to Democrat rank-and-file members of the Senate and of the House we– we were told that they were willing to work with us. They were willing to — to — to fund a barrier at our Southern border and to address the other priorities that the president laid out in that common sense approach. We’ve taken them at their word, but the American people saw this president as absolutely determined to keep his word to secure our border and — and end the crisis of illegal immigration.
JEFF GLOR: One line that made news last night in the State of the Union was when the president said, quote, “If there’s going to peace in legislation, there cannot be war and investigation.” Isn’t oversight part of the legislature’s job? I mean, you — you served in the House for more than a decade.
MIKE PENCE: I did. I did. Well, look, congressional oversight is a part of the checks and balances of our system, but what —
JEFF GLOR: But isn’t — isn’t he saying that can’t happen though?
MIKE PENCE: Well, what the president referred to last night was partisan investigations. And, you know, you’ve spoken about the president. You know his feelings about– about investigations on Capitol Hill. We — we don’t object to oversight. That’s the proper role of committees in the Congress. But when it takes on a partisan tint, when it — when it — it seems — more intent on becoming a forum for invective against the president and against the administration, the American people expect better.
The American people wanna see the Congress addressing the issues that the president laid out last night. I mean, the president laid out a positive agenda for a growing American economy, for a stronger military, for an America that’s addressing the real challenges that are facing American families. That’s what the American people want our Congress focused on.
JEFF GLOR: We got news onlast night. The summit will be the 27th and 28th of February, the second summit.
MIKE PENCE: It will.
JEFF GLOR: With Kim Jong Un. The intelligence community says North Korea’s unlikely to give up its nuclear arsenal. So what specifically do you think the president can accomplish at this second summit?
MIKE PENCE: Well, first, it’s important to remember how far we’ve come. The president reflected on that in the State of the Union address. When — when we came into office — North Korea was firing missiles — over Japan. It was testing nuclear weapons — menacing the region, threatening the people of the United States of America. And now, because of the strong stand that President Trump took — standing up to North Korea’s — aggression and rhetoric, now North Korea’s come to the table.
We, our hostages are home. No more nuclear testing. No more rocket testing. It was my great honor to be there in Hawaii when the remains of American soldiers first began to come home. So we’ve made great progress. And in Singapore President Trump and Chairman Kim agreed to the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. There’s more work to be done.
JEFF GLOR: That hasn’t happened.
MIKE PENCE: They’ve had correspondence between them. This next summit that’ll take place at the end of this month will be about laying out the plan and the details for implementing the full denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
JEFF GLOR: Do you agree with the president that we would be or someone would be at war with North Korea if he wasn’t in office right now?
MIKE PENCE: I think there’s no question that the United States was headed toward a confrontation with North Korea. And President Obama reflected on his deep concern about North Korea I know during the transition in conversations with President Trump. And there’s no question that was the case.
And as I’ve traveled through the region, as I met with allies, there was great anxiety about the increasingly aggressive steps that North Korea was taking. But now, one summit under our belt, the end of this month, President Trump will travel to Vietnam, meet with Chairman Kim. And we remain hopeful that now we’ll begin to see the details of a plan to achieve the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
And President Trump remains hopeful that despite the past, despite decades of — of broken promises and — and failed diplomacy that — that we can reach that agreement through a strong stand by this president and direct engagement with Chairman Kim.
JEFF GLOR: Both you and the president have said that. As you know, a new Pentagon report says ISIS could likely resurge in Syria within six to twelve months if there’s a pullout. There have been more suicide attacks. Americans have died. Looking back, do you regret saying that ISIS was defeated?
MIKE PENCE: I always regret the loss of American service members in battle. Every American grieves that loss. But as the president described last night because of the heroism of our armed forces and our coalition partners, we’ve now taken back 99 percent of the ISIS caliphate. And soon, we will completely crush the ISIS caliphate as it was constituted after President Obama made the — the hasty and precipitous withdrawal of American forces from Iraq.
The president made clear that we’re going to stay in the region. We’re going to be prepared to strike back at ISIS. We’re gonna engage our coalition partners to work with us to deal with the remnants of ISIS that are in the region. But I think every American can be proud of the progress that we have made in– in defeating the ISIS caliphate in the region. And they can be confident that the United States and our coalition partners will continue to lean into the fight against any resurgence of ISIS in the future.
JEFF GLOR: But if it’s 99 percent done, shouldn’t it be 100 percent gone before you say it’s defeated?
MIKE PENCE: Well, it — it is — the– the territory that’s been reclaimed is 99 percent of what ISIS has claimed. And frankly and we’re informed that in a matter of — of weeks that all of the territory that ISIS has claimed. But the simple fa–
JEFF GLOR: Pentagon said, says actually —
MIKE PENCE: Well, the simple fact is that — that — that more than a year ago, the capital of Raqqa, of their so-called caliphate was captured by U.S. and coalition forces. I couldn’t be more proud of what our American forces have been able to do, along with our coalition partners, against ISIS.
The — the ISIS caliphate has been crushed. We’ve taken back 99 percent of that territory. But we will not rest or relent until all of what ISIS claimed before has been recaptured. And — and also, Jeff — as the president made clear last night, in — in addressing the family of one of our — our fallen sailors from the U.S.S. Cole that — that was struck in the fall of 2000, that the United States will never fail to take the fight to our enemy, never fail to bring justice to those who threaten our people.
JEFF GLOR: What would Nicolas Maduro have to do infor the U.S. to become involved militarily?
MIKE PENCE: President Trump has led the world in supporting the legitimate president of Venezuela, Juan Guaido. I — I — I couldn’t be more proud the United States was the first nation on earth to recognize Juan Guaido as the new leader of that country. I mean, Nicolas Maduro is — is a dictator with no legitimate claim to power. He has impoverished his country through oppression and socialism. And it’s time for Nicolas Maduro to go.
JEFF GLOR: But he’s still in power.
MIKE PENCE: We’re working right now to provide humanitarian aid, which the Guaidó government and the National Assembly have requested, and we’ll continue to do just that. We’ll also continue to provide any other additional support that they need to restore democracy in Venezuela. But Nicolas Maduro must go, his time is up, and the United States is gonna continue to keep all options on the table, working closely with President Guaidó until democracy is restored.
JEFF GLOR: But do you believe he can go without U.S. military intervention?
MIKE PENCE: We continue to hope for a peaceful transition in Venezuela. And it was encouraging this weekend to see a high-ranking military official, an Air Force general, announce his allegiance to the– the national assembly and to President Guaidó. And — and in his statement to say that large numbers of the military in Venezuela are actually aligned with the democratically elected government.
But, look, since the very first days of this administration, President Trump made it clear that we’re going to stand for freedom and democracy in Venezuela. We’ve sanctioned more than 50 individuals associated with the Maduro regime. We recently sanctioned the national oil company. We’re gonna keep all options on the table, but our hope — our hope is that you see hundreds of thousands of people take to the street for freedom and democracy and a restoration of Venezuela that we’ll see a peaceful transition of power.
JEFF GLOR: Given the rancor and rhetoric there, you really think there can be a peaceful transition?
MIKE PENCE: What we’re seeing is a, is a movement the likes of which we’ve never seen in Venezuela. I mean, literally hundreds of thousands of people and a leader in President Guaidó, who have been willing to take to the streets to simply restore constitutional government in their country. And now, the president, recognized President Guaidó.
And more than 35 countries around the world have joined us. European countries. We really do believe that by — by supporting the legitimate government, by providing humanitarian aid, by marshaling — strong world opinion and– and isolating the Maduro regime economically the possibility of a peaceful transition remains possible. But we also wanna make it clear that we are going to stand with the government of President Guaido and provide him with any and all assistance he needs until democracy is restored.
JEFF GLOR: There is at least six declared Democratic candidates for 2020 already. We could see twenty or more. Who poses the biggest challenge to you and the president in a reelection campaign?
MIKE PENCE: Well, I — I haven’t seen one that poses, proposes much of a challenge to the president to be honest with you, Jeff. But, look, it’s — it’s a free country.
JEFF GLOR: None — none of them are intimidating or concern you at all?
MIKE PENCE: No. Look, I have seen this president during the campaign in 2016 and over the last two years, one day after another delivering on the promises that he made to the American people. We’ve rebuilt our military. We’ve restored the arsenal of democracy, cut taxes, rolled back regulations. Now, more than 5 million new jobs created, including 600,000 manufacturing jobs that the last administration said you — we — we couldn’t expect manufacturing to come back in this country at this level again.
Principled conservatives appointed to our courts at every level and — and a president that’s literally fighting every day to keep the promises that he made to the American people. We’ll — we’ll let the — we’ll let the competition get organized for 2020, but I — I’ll tell you this president is gonna remain totally focused. Our entire team’s gonna remain totally focused on the task at hand. And that is delivering on the promises that we made to the American people to make America great again.
JEFF GLOR: If you had to do something over from the past two years, what would it be?
MIKE PENCE: Well, look, there’s always hindsight is 20/20, Jeff. I mean, governing is a business where you get up every day. And I know this is a president that gets up, and works hard to deliver promises that we made to the American people. But we have also seen the president to be willing to adjust and work around. I think that the president’s willingness to accept a three-week period to reopen the government, to have good faith negotiations through the conference committee to address this crisis at the southern border is all evidence to the fact that we have a president that is listening, that he is absolutely committed, as we all are, to driving forward to address the crisis on our southern border, to meet all the challenges and opportunities that we face as a country and I couldn’t be more honored to serve with him.
JEFF GLOR: Finally, Mr. Vice President, can you guarantee that there will not be another government shutdown?
MIKE PENCE: Well, I think our hope is that there is not, but I can’t make that guarantee Jeff. The simple truth is that Congress needs to do their job. And the president laid out last night a common sense approach to deal with what is a very real crisis on our southern border, a humanitarian crisis where now the majority of people coming across our southern border are families and unaccompanied minors who are being exploited by human traffickers and cartels that, that take them on the long and dangerous journey up the peninsula in the hope of being able to come into our country illegally and to stay. Reality is there is also the security threat, the flow of narcotics, the flow of, of, of individuals with, with criminal backgrounds, and gangs that come into our country. So the president has made it clear, he’s laid out a plan to secure our border, to build a steel barrier in the 10 most important areas that our homeland security says that we need it. To have additional detection technology to stop the flow of illegal drugs. Additional border personnel to, to deal with illegal immigration and human trafficking. Additional medical support to deal with the humanitarian crisis approaching our border. All of that is what the American people want us to do, the congress should come together and deliver that. And by delivering that we can not only avoid a government shutdown again, but we can finally, after decades of looking the other way, we can finally take decisive steps to secure our southern border which is exactly what the American people want.
JEFF GLOR: Mr. Vice President thank you.
MIKE PENCE: Thank you Jeff.