The following is a transcript of U.S. Sen. John Cornyn’s interview which aired on WFAA-TV’s Inside Texas Politics this morning. Host Jason Whitely interviewed Cornyn at the rotunda in the Russell Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill.
Q: Senator, good to see you.
A: Good to see you, too.
Q: Let’s start with healthcare. Donald Trump told the Washington Post: “We’re going to have insurance for everybody. There was a philosophy in some circles that if you can’t pay for it, you don’t get it. That’s not going to happen with us.” Is that a concept you would support?
A: Well it’s an admirable goal and we know it was the stated goal of Obamacare care and unfortunately about 30 million people still lack health coverage because of the way Obamacare was constructed. But sure. We want to try to make healthcare more affordable and more accessible. We just don’t want to mandate what you have to buy out of Washington and then you have to buy coverage you don’t want and don’t need and can’t afford in order to get covered. I think we can do much better, and we’re sure going to give it our best effort.
Q: I want to switch to a topic that’s near and dear to your heart: criminal justice reform. You said that President Obama commuting the sentences of almost 1,200 non-violent offenders – that makes criminal justice reform tougher. Don’t the commutations humanize that effort?
A: Well first of all. There’s some people who don’t agree with President Obama on policy reasons, and so automatically it becomes more of a political, partisan issue when it doesn’t need to be. Look, I have been a supporter of criminal justice reform. I believe people make mistakes and deserve a second chance. The fact of the matter is our average prison sentence in Texas – for example – is about three years. We have this idea that we’re going to lock people up and throw away the key when they’re going to get out in three years. We want to give them every incentive possible to turn their life around, to deal with their addiction, or their other issues – lack of education, lack of skills to become productive members of society. So the president is frustrated like he often is and tries to do it himself, and I don’t believe it helps the cause. I really don’t.
Q: Let me switch to Russian hacking during the election. Trump has downplayed it. Suggested it’s a lot more political. But a lot of people say this is more of a national security problem. Do you agree with that?
A: Yeah, it is. It is a national security problem. I’m a new member of the Senate Intelligence Committee that’s going to be conducting an extensive investigation into Russian hacking. But it’s not just the Russians. It’s the Chinese and some North Koreans. And Iranians. Hacking is a fact of life in this world we live in. And it’s a good thing and I’m grateful that the Russians weren’t successful in changing the outcome of the election, but they certainly tried to influence the way people looked at it. And I think it’s a national security issue of the first order that we need to get to the bottom of, and I look forward to being part of that solution.
Q: I want to ask you about your reaction to the thousands of people marching this weekend.
A: People obviously have First Amendment rights. They exercise those rights. But this talk about an illegitimate president is just complete propaganda. I think people ought not to – they should look for ways to accept the judgment and the voters of the American people because that’s the American system.
Q: Ted Cruz proposes a constitutional amendment for term limits – limiting senators to two terms and congressmen to three terms. Is that a concept you would support?
A: Well, I certainly don’t believe people ought to serve for life in political office. I was thinking about that the other day. An outstanding United States Senator, Phil Gramm, served for three terms. I would sure hate to deny Texas voters the right to choose someone like Phil Gramm who continued in office if he was doing the kind of job they approved of. So I’m not for limiting voters’ choices and I think the ultimate term limit is at the ballot box.
Q: Senator, good to see you again.
A: Thank you. Great to be with you.
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