Transcript: Sen. J.D. Vance of Ohio on "Face the Nation," June 30, 2024

The following is a transcript of an interview with Sen. J.D. Vance of Ohio, a Republican, on “Face the Nation” that aired on June 30, 2024.

MARGARET BRENNAN: We turn now to Ohio Republican senator J.D. Vance. He joins us this morning from Cleveland. And Senator I should say, we’re having some technical issues. So you’re with us on Zoom. Hopefully, our uplink stays solid throughout because I got a lot of questions for you, sir. 


MARGARET BRENNAN: Donald Trump had a better night on Thursday during that debate by many measures. But according to our poll, he fell short on at least one of them. Fewer voters thought the former president was truthful compared with President Biden. Mr. Trump falsely claimed states are passing legislation to execute babies. I think you know that killing people is illegal in every state. He falsely claimed that the Speaker of the House at the time turned down 10,000 soldiers that he had offered to keep the peace ahead of January 6, something his own Acting Secretary of Defense testified to Congress did not happen. If he has such a strong platform. Why make false claims?

SEN. VANCE: Well, Margaret, I think the media is running interference on a lot of this stuff. We all know and Nancy Pelosi herself has admitted on camera that she could have requested more National Guard troops, she bears some responsibility for the fact that they weren’t there at the Capitol. We know that a- the multiple Democratic governors and states and even some Democratic senators and congressmen have tried to pass laws that would effectively legalize abortion up until the moment of birth. And most importantly, we know that the media seems totally uninterested, in fact-checking Joe Biden from any of the number of false claims that he made– 

MARGARET BRENNAN: — You know, I lost track, sir, I’ve been told the media is on every single side of this and everything’s our fault. But let’s get back to the candidate you’re here to talk about. Chris Miller said 10,000 Troops, he was never ordered by the President to send those to the Capitol that day.

SEN. VANCE: Nancy Pelosi has said on camera, Margaret, that she bears some responsibility for the fact that the National Guard didn’t play a bigger role. But of course, we know the Speaker of the House has an extraordinary amount of influence over the Capitol Police. It’s not in dispute, Margaret and more importantly, Joe Biden said that no troops died on his watch, even though 13 American service members died, thanks to his botched withdrawal from Afghanistan. Joe Biden made multiple statements of falsehood during the debate. And a lot of folks in the media, yes, seemed totally uninterested, in fact, checking him. And the reason Margaret is because Donald Trump just performed so much better. There’s- there was- there was this 24-hour period, where effectively everyone honest that there was an incredible contrast between Donald Trump’s energy and command to the facts, and Joe Biden’s obvious inability to do the job as president. And now of course, we’ve trained this new media cycle where folks are trying to run cover. Look, the American people saw what they saw. Trump can do the job, Biden can’t.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You might not have heard it, but I did raise a lot of those issues to Wes Moore, the Biden surrogate who was on before you. As to where you stand on some of these issues tomorrow at the Supreme Court, it may be a significant day as we get- expected to get that decision on presidential immunity from criminal prosecution. And that’s directly relevant to the federal charges against Donald Trump. As you know, you’re a lawyer. I wonder if you become the Vice President and you’re in a Trump-Vance administration. Do you believe a president could pardon himself for federal crimes?

SEN. VANCE: Well, look, I’m focused on electing Donald Trump as president, whether I’m serving in some other roles serving as the United States Senator, I think the Trump agenda has worked, Margaret. And on this particular question– 


— But would you object if the President were to try to do that? 

SEN. VANCE: Maragret, we know that the President has to have immunity to do his job. Should Barack Obama be prosecuted for droning American citizens in Yemen? There are so many examples of presidents Democrats and Republicans who would not be able to discharge their duties, if the Supreme Court does not recognize some broad element of presidential discretion. I’m very confident that they’re going to be able to do that. And I’m very confident that the fundamental principle here is the President’s got to be able to do his job in the same way that police officers, judges, prosecutors, enjoy some immunity, that principle has to apply to the president too.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So you do believe that a president could pardon himself for federal crimes? 

SEN. VANCE: I believe that the President has broad pardon authority, Margaret, but more importantly, I think the President has immunity. It’s not about whether he should pardon himself. It’s about whether he should be prosecuted in the first place for discharging his official duties. So in that way, I sort of reject the premise of the question here. We need to have some recognition that- you know, look, a Democrat wins the presidency, they try to throw the Republican president in jail or a Republican wins the president. They try to throw the Democrat president in jail, that is the pathway to unraveling 250 years of American constitutional tradition and making the president totally unable regardless of party to do their job. That is not a good thing and it’s not something I think any Republican supports.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Okay. To that point, President Trump on that debate stage on Thursday, suggested that Joe Biden could be criminally prosecuted after he leaves office. It wasn’t clear exactly what crime he was alleging. But he mentioned something about the U.S. border. In a Trump-Vance administration, would your Justice Department prosecute Joe Biden? And if so, for what?

SEN. VANCE: Well, first of all, that would be the responsibility of the Attorney General, Margaret. But Donald Trump did not say that he’s trying to throw his political opponent in jail. That is Joe Biden, who has in fact, already tried to do precisely that. And importantly, what he said is that if you apply the same standard that Joe Biden’s Justice Department has applied, then there are a lot of Democratic officials who could go to prison. He’s making a fundamental argument about constitutional fairness. It’s so extraordinary that people could say that Donald Trump is the one trying to use lawfare against his opponent sometime in the hypothetical future, when the very real president, that’s exactly what Joe Biden is trying to do. This is a danger–

MARGARET BRENNAN: But do you object to the premise? 

SEN. VANCE: Right. And I think that what we need to recognize is that applying a consistent standard is what really matters. 

MARGARET BRENNAN: So you would not want the Justice Department to prosecute Joe Biden for any alleged crimes, correct?

SEN. VANCE: I want people who- Margaret, I want people who commit crimes to face the appropriate response in law. What I do not think is reasonable is for Joe Biden to weaponize his own Justice Department, going after Donald Trump, any number of crimes, some of which have already been thrown out, a number of which I think will be thrown out, including on Monday by the United States court. So the- the problem that I have Margaret is not with which Democrats should prosecute which Republican and vice versa, it’s let’s get out of the prosecuting of people based on their politics. Let- let- let’s let voters decide who the president should be, not judges and prosecutors who are politically motivated. 

MARGARET BRENNAN: Senator, you are, as everyone knows, on this very short list of potential running mates for Donald Trump. So for our viewers at home, you are 40 years old, you’ve been in the Senate for less than two years, you haven’t held elected office before this. If you are selected, alongside a nominee who is 78 years old, you will be a heartbeat from the presidency. What do you think your biggest accomplishment in the Senate has been to date?

SEN. VANCE: Well Margaret, again, I’m not running for vice president, and it’s important for us to remember that Donald Trump has been a very good president, he will be a very good president again. I think in some ways these vice presidential conversations serve to distract from the fact that we have: Donald Trump as president was a success, Joe Biden as president has been a failure. Let’s get back to success. Let’s get back to peace and prosperity. My attitude on the vice [president] thing, Margaret, is look, if he asked me, I want to help them. And of course, I would be very interested in the job. But you asked, what are my accomplishments in the United States Senate, and 18 months, Margaret, we’ve done a lot of good work for our constituents. We’ve got hundreds of millions of dollars to the Great Lakes. We’ve done a lot to help the people of East Palestine deal with a terrible train disaster. And of course, we’ve done a lot of work on making sure that Ohio has gotten defense resources that make not just Ohio but our country stronger. So there’s a lot we can hang our hat on. But I like being a senator. I’m not trying to leave the United States Senate. It’s an honor to serve the people of Ohio. And frankly, if you asked me, that’s where I expect to be in six months. That’s where I expect to be in a few years.

MARGARET BRENNAN: All right, J.D. Vance. We’ll be watching and hopefully we’ll have you back in-studio next time.

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