News and Commentary

Senator Scott: ‘The Country Is Better Off Trying To Create The Future Than Reframe The Past’
UNITED STATES - JUNE 23: Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., right, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., conduct a news conference after the Senate Republican Policy luncheon in Hart Building on Tuesday, June 23, 2020.
Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) told Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) in the most recent episode of “Verdict,” co-hosted by The Daily Wire’s Michael Knowles, that the United States would be better off working to “create the future” rather than attempting to “reframe the past.” Instead of tearing down statues in the name of social justice, the senator suggested, we should be putting more up in honor of American heroes who promoted civil rights.

Scott’s remarks come as radical activists have torn down statues across the country of Confederate figures, former U.S. Presidents, black abolitionists, religious figures, and explorers.

“I also think the country is better off trying to create the future than reframe the past,” Scott said. “We spend almost too much time in the rearview mirror and not enough time in the windshield. It’s hard not to get in an accident when all your focus is on yesterday. For us to reframe the past doesn’t benefit almost anyone. So, if we want to reframe the past, however, put up more statues. Put up a statue not just Martin Luther King Jr. What about Rosa Parks? Or Booker T. Washington? Washington Carver? There’s a lot of folks that we can celebrate. But, tearing something down does not necessarily build you up, number one.”

“Number two, why aren’t we spending the time on economic mobility?” Scott continued. “Why are we not spending the time on educational outcomes in poor zip codes in America? Why are we not spending the time on creating financial literacy? And frankly, literacy to break the pipeline between education and incarceration? If you want to spend all the money in the world on something, please let it not be on tearing down a statue. Let us spend the dollars and the resources on building the future where every single American says, ‘Yes. That’s my country.’”




Michael Knowles: “Major tensions around the country on the police, on criminal justice, on race. Some anarchists are talking about defunding the police, abolishing the police, ginning up racial tensions. Well, we have a serious person here who can speak with great authority on real criminal justice reform and on real racial experiences in America. This is Verdict with Ted Cruz. Welcome back to Verdict with Ted Cruz. I’m Michael Knowles. We will get to our special guest in just one second, but first, I have to thank you so much. We’ve now got over 10 million downloads on this podcast, and it’s all thanks to you. It really exceeded our expectations and we’re so glad to be able to continue to do it. Please head over on Apple Podcasts, leave a five-star review if you would like to, if you want to leave less than don’t leave anything at all. Thank you very much, and please go subscribe, wherever you listen to podcasts. Because the Senator is the greatest booking producer in the history of podcasts, I’m joined by Senator Tim Scott.”

Sen. Scott: “He is really good at what he does, not just in the podcast world but in all worlds.”

Michael Knowles: “I am so glad. First of all, Senator Cruz, thank you for bringing Senator Scott on. Senator Scott, you were the author behind probably the most significant piece of legislation that the Senate is considering right now, that would be the JUSTICE Act.”

Sen. Scott: “Yes. Listen, I’m excited about the JUSTICE ACT. I wish our Democrat colleagues were more excited about not the JUSTICE Act only, but about actually serving the community that has been wed to the Democrat Party for generations. They continue to under-deliver a while over-promising. Instead of taking 80 percent today, giving them an opportunity to say to the people and the communities across the country, ‘We hear you, we see you, we are fighting for you.’ We could have gotten 80 percent delivered today, they gave the community zero. They decided to make it an election-year issue, an election in November issue, a Presidential election issue, and that’s just so unfortunate for so many kids living in underserved communities, worried about making it from their house to the school, always having in the back of their consciousness whether or not an interaction will end poorly for them. We could have said, ‘We see you,’ today.

Sen. Cruz: “I think what would be helpful to podcast listeners and viewers is knowing some of your personal story, this is a faith journey and a life journey. You grew up in a pretty tough upbringing.”

Sen. Scott: “Absolutely. I grew up in a single-parent household mired in poverty. My mother and father got divorced when I was about seven years old. I felt like this nation, my community had nothing to offer me. So when you come to that decision at seven it’s a bad thing. You drift and all drifting leads in the wrong direction. From seven to 14, I was completely a drifter. I flunked out of high school as a freshman. I failed World Geography and Civics. Now Civics is the study of politics, so God has a sense of humor. Failing Civics and then while writhing in the body the most deliberative body in history. I also realized that after being here seven years, I’m not the only one failing Civics in the U.S. Senate. I also failed Spanish and English that year. When you fail Spanish and English, two languages, no one considers you bilingual. They all call you bi-ignorant because you can’t speak any language. But I had two major blessings, a mother who believed that the power of prayer would deliver her child and a mentor, a white guy, who said ‘You haven’t yet discovered what’s in you. You’re looking around at your circumstances.’ He said, ‘That’s a wrong view. Your in-vision has to be bigger than the vision you see on the outside.’ And he said, ‘If you look in the mirror and you start blaming yourself, don’t blame your dad because he’s not around. Do not blame your mother because she’s working 16 hours, three days a week and eight hours, two more days a week to put food on the table. He said ‘Blame yourself.’ He said, ‘The beauty of it is if you’re the problem, the promise is in here. If you see the opportunities from the inside, the obstacles on the inside, the opportunities manifest on the outside.”

Michael Knowles: “What do you make of seeing churches now going up in flames? There’s a prominent BLM activist on Twitter, he said that ‘People need to smash stained glass windows at churches.’ That doesn’t seem productive to me.”

Sen. Scott: “Well, it’s also the opposite of productive. I wonder what Martin Luther King Jr. would say to that person. I wonder what John Lewis, who was beaten within an inch of his life and never struck back. What would he say at the Pettus Bridge when he is nearly bleeding out? He would say this, because he said it to me, ‘Don’t get bitter, get better. Embrace your nation, know that if you continue on your journey, it will happen. We took a 5000-year leap in the last 50 years, mostly because of nonviolent protesters who believed in America. Frederick Douglass did the exact same thing. He said, ‘I’m not fighting against the Constitution. I’m fighting on the Constitution. I’m going to make the nation live up to what it says in the Constitution.’”

Sen. Cruz: “Last week we had a number of Senators who went to the floor and read Dr. Martin Luther King’s letter from a Birmingham jail, which I did last week, he and I both participated. That’s bipartisan Democrats and Republicans, and it’s so powerful. We’ve all read it in school. But it’s different when you hear it. And frankly, it’s different when you read it out loud, and to read it on the Senate floor. It is incredibly important, particularly now. And one of the points people forget is Dr. King wasn’t just Dr. King, he was Reverend King. The letter from the Birmingham jail was written, ‘To my fellow clergymen.’ It was a call to the church. One of the things he says in that letter is for the church to be a thermostat and not a thermometer. Don’t just reflect the bigotry of your community, change it. Speak up. It’s a call to action. You look at these riots and vandals and tearing down George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, because Lincoln was such a Confederate. Dr. King and Frederick Douglass, they made explicit appeals to the founding principles of our country. They said, ‘Look, we haven’t reached it yet.’ But as Dr. King said, ‘The arc of history bends towards justice.’”

Michael Knowles: “Well, speaking of this justice, I do want to get to this on this exact point. Senator, you have an admirer in the audience. This is from Trey who said, ‘Other than Republican Senators like Cruz and Scott and Cotton, where is the rest of the Senate GOP on justice as we have and the phrase that they used is, ‘anarcho, communist, insurrectionists’ tearing down our country’s culture and history?”

Sen. Scott: “That must be a fan of Ted that just is Trey Gowdy. I’m sure Trey Gowdy is a fan of Ted Cruz.”

Michael Knowles: “Trey G.”

Sen. Scott: “I did tell him to call, so I’m glad he called. Listen, I think our conference is coming closer and closer to the plate. On many issues, we were almost shy in our response to some of the challenges that we saw on the streets and we just didn’t know what to do. One of the things that causes that kind of paralysis is when you think you have to make a choice between law enforcement and communities of color. That is not the binary choice on the table today. The binary choice is for America or against America. In order to have that as the actual choice, we have to say, ‘I am for law enforcement and I am for communities of color.’ No conjunction called ‘Or,’ it’s ‘And.’ When that happens, I think we all rise up and I’ve been thankful to see the conference coming closer and closer not only to the microphone, but to the plate. We had 53 Republicans say, ‘Let’s start debating.’ I can’t imagine that five years ago because five years ago I couldn’t get Democrats to come to the debate.”

Sen. Cruz: “Well, and Tim’s point about ‘And’ is really important. Protecting civil rights that doesn’t just protect American citizens, that protects police officers because police officers, to do their jobs, they’ve got to have the trust of the community, and I’ve heard from so many cops right now are demoralized. They’re painted as the demon, and I think Tim’s JUSTICE Act was an effort to help the police officers.”

Sen. Scott: “I have called every time there has been a shooting in South Carolina where the officer loses his life, I try to make sure that I’m the first person to call the spouse or the parent. Greg Aleah, outside of Columbia, South Carolina, lost his life because someone murdered him. The suspect that he was pursuing killed him, left a 18-month-old little boy and a beautiful wife, Cassie. I showed up at the wake, the viewing, and had a conversation with her and her parents, and they were surprised to see me. I didn’t want any cameras on. I didn’t want anybody there, I just want to say, ‘I’m so sorry that someone killed your husband.’ Several months later, she called my office and she started a nonprofit organization for police officers. I’ve contributed. We’ve helped. We stay in touch. She’s a blessing to our community. Here’s the point, so many officers lose their lives, not because they’re making $30,000 a year and they’re getting rich, it’s because when you look at Romans 13, there’s this notion of mission, that there are government officials who can be ministers of the Gospel carrying a sword, a weapon, for what purpose? For a righteous purpose. Her husband lost his life for a righteous purpose. And we should celebrate law enforcement. When I had a major car accident, it was law enforcement that showed up and said to me, ‘Son,’ I was lying on the side of the road, I went through the windshield, came back in my car, fell asleep on Interstate 26, literally on an interstate, rolling through traffic in my car. I was laying there with glass in my backside and my back, and he looks down at me and said, ‘Son, your mom is gonna be so happy you’re alive.’ And I looked up at him and said, ‘Sir, you don’t know my mama.’ But what he was trying to tell me, was that your mother values you more than this car. He was saying to me, as he bent down and said, ‘Son, you’re so much more valuable. You have intrinsic worth, far beyond any material possession. He was speaking words of affirmation to who I was.”

Michael Knowles: “Well, speaking of words of affirmation, I’m glad to hear that you got a nice phone call at your office, because I understand you get many phone calls that are not very nice at your office.”

Sen. Scott: “I unfortunately get a lot of phone calls that are not that nice, and unfortunately, I have learned to deal with it, but there are not always words of encouragement.”

Michael Knowles: “This is a safe space, we like to think about it. We try to keep this pretty personal. Seriously, could we listen?”

Sen. Scott: “Yeah”.

Michael Knowles: “A quick note for our loyal audience. What you are about to hear are some profane voicemails received by the Office of Senator Tim Scott, that reflect the ongoing racism by certain individuals in this country, specifically against black conservatives, because it’s an important part of the context for this episode, we have chosen to play the uncensored sound if you do not wish to hear these recordings. You may choose to tune out now.”

Caller: “Uncle Tim, this is Uncle Willy, you coon motherfucker, you. I hope you choke on your fucking tongue tonight, bitch. I don’t wish any good for your motherfucking ass. You are the lowest piece of shit this country ever produced. You sell out motherfucker. Your momma ain’t no good and your sperm donor is even fucking worse. He should’ve shot you in your fucking momma’s face, that cum catching bitch. Once again, thank you, this is from the Sunshine State. Also, Lindsey Graham is your bitch. You’re fucking him and he’s fucking you. You’re sucking him and he’s sucking you. Marco Rubio’s a little bitch. He turned on his own people and motherfucking Rick Scott is a god damned crook so all you motherfuckers go burn in hell together. So take your ticket, one way straight to hell you cocksucking motherfuckers. Have a great day and enjoy your evening. Bye.”

Sen. Scott: “That’s just one. Imagine being a… This next one. My new staff assistant just graduated from college, first job, gets to hear this.”

Caller: “Bitch don’t you hang up on me again you fucking cunt. You’re probably sucking his dick. You nasty bitch you. All you fucking Republicans nasty. And I’m gonna keep on calling as long as I motherfucking want to. I’m exercising my first amendment rights. So fuck you motherfuckers. You pieces of shit. You’re all cum buckets.”

Sen. Scott: “And then later on, another one called, to say he’s got me in the crosshairs.”

Michael Knowles: “That’s pretty explicit, threatening language.”

Sen. Scott: “Absolutely.”

Sen. Cruz: “There’s a level of hate that gets directed at Tim, that frankly is different from other members of Congress.”

Michael Knowles: “Why is that? I think I know the answer, but I’d like to hear your thoughts.”

Sen. Scott: “Unfortunately, you know, obviously, the racial overtones, racial words, the slurs, the challenges are you know. Being a black conservative where you’re out of sync with what he thinks is the black cause, it incites a kind of rage and anger that could lead to violent outcomes in a way that very few things I’ve seen in my life has ever done. And, you know, when you get 16 of these, your staff assistants and your front line folks start wondering ‘what in the world.’ In 2011 we literally shut our phones down because of the number of racial slurs we were getting from around the country. Not from South Carolina interestingly enough, all from someplace else.”

Michael Knowles: “It would seem to be common sense. Everyone is clamoring for criminal justice reform. You’ve offered a bill on this, Senator. Why didn’t it go? Why didn’t it happen?

What’s going on?”

Sen. Cruz: “This could have been a real moment and it should have been a real moment for unity. The entire country, when we watched the video of what happened to George Floyd, everyone was horrified.”

Sen. Scott: “I started this journey five years ago because of the Walter Scott murder in North Charleston, South Carolina, My hometown where I grew up. And frankly, Walter Scott was running away from the police. He was shot five times, shot at eight times, but shot five times in the back. The officer falsified the police report and said that he took his taser. When the video came out which was a few weeks later, literally no one, there wasn’t even a conversation about what happened in the incident because we had an incident report. Had it not been for some guy literally walking by at the exact right moment, the exact right street with his phone out, capturing the actual interaction, the engagement. Without that video, we would not have known Walter Scott’s name at all.”

Michael Knowles: “Well, you know, I think the Walter Scott one for a lot of us. Sometimes these are complex situations. Sometimes the officer’s use of force is justified. The Walter Scott one, everyone looked at and said, ‘this is outrageous’. It’s just so clear. And I know there are some people in this debate who say that we need to abolish the police. The police are hopelessly corrupt and we got to… I don’t know. They are the anarchists in Seattle right now. And then there are some people who say the police don’t need any kind of reform at all. You do have an interesting perspective here because you’re one of the most prominent black politicians in the country. And you’re the author of this criminal justice reform bill.”

Sen. Scott: “Yeah. One of the reasons why I think I have credibility on the topic is not just because I’m an African-American. Now that’s helpful, especially when so many of these incidents are African-American men having challenges with law enforcement. I’m the guy that got stopped seven times as an elected official, just driving while black. Stopped nine times, I believe that year. Seven times for doing nothing. Two times for speeding. So I got speeding tickets. But the other seven times for nothing. 18 unnecessary stops in the last two decades.”

Michael Knowles: “I would like to just put a pause there for a moment, because I actually didn’t know that.”

Sen. Scott: “Yes.”

Michael Knowles: “This is a personal experience of an elected U.S. Senator.”

Sen. Scott: “Well, this year, this U.S. Senator was stopped by police for failing to use my turn signal early enough in the lane change. I didn’t know that was a thing.”

Michael Knowles: “Yeah, I didn’t know turn signals were a thing.”

Sen. Scott: “But literally pulled over. I got a warning thankfully. But how do you? I called the police chief at another department and they said basically what they’re trying to do is get your windows down so they can see if they smell any weed or anything in the air. Get a look inside your car. He said ‘this is what we call racial profiling Tim.’ I said it should have dawned on me that the reason for the stop was to take a look inside. It just didn’t occur to me, even though that was my 18th stop. My 17th stop was last year for having my blinkers on while helping someone find their telephone. And you know this, you can’t make this up. And so fortunately for me, I’ve walked away from each one of those unscathed. I mean, I’ve got some scar tissue emotionally, but none physically.”

Michael Knowles: “Because it’s a sort of preposterous thing. And you can laugh about it. OK, they pulled you over for the blinker. But this is real harassment that you have personally experienced.”

Sen. Scott: “One hundred percent. Walter Scott was pulled over for a busted tail light. There’s a video at least there’s a scene I think it was in Las Vegas, Nevada, where the guy was riding his bicycle and was pulled over. So what we’re talking about is real. But what you said is so important. And I think you’ve focused on it, the importance of the body camera. One of the reasons why five years ago to start talking about increasing funding for body cameras by a hundred million dollars per year for five years is because if a picture is worth a thousand words, then a video should be worth a thousand pictures. Because we have an opportunity not only to see it but to watch it unfold. That is really important. And I think that dynamic had just been a picture of the law enforcement officer on George Floyd’s neck, we could debate how long.”

Sen. Cruz: “Yeah, you don’t know if he’s fighting. If it’s a violent situation, you don’t. Without the video You don’t understand the context of what it is.”

Sen. Scott: “You fully don’t. You don’t appreciate it. But eight minutes, and 46 seconds later? No one had a question.”

Sen. Cruz: “And you can hear him gasping for his breath saying, ‘I can’t breathe’ Pleading for his life. I mean, it makes a real difference.”

Sen. Scott: “Yes. That united our country. This tells me something that’s really important. Our country is the most remarkable country on earth. All the racial divisions we’ve had in the last several years. We saw that picture and because there’s something in our instinct that says that’s just wrong. We are a nation built on fairness. We’ve always been a nation that was going to progress. We’ve been making progress for the entire time. We saw that and said ‘Wait a second. That cannot be.’ People were shocked, stunned. They said, ‘That that’s not actually happening.’ And once they understood that it was, the entire conversation around police reform became real. I’m afraid that our friends who are playing presidential politics, [that] they are willing to waste the moment hoping for an outcome. So they’d rather, you know, I could be wrong. I think they’re willing to run, campaigning on police brutality, maybe more than solve it.”

Sen. Cruz: “We just saw Senate Democrats filibuster the JUSTICE Act. And they did it, I think it’s exactly what Tim said. They want a political issue. They want to set campaign in November, rather than actually make meaningful progress towards addressing the problem, doing it responsibly. Look, one of the things Tim did a very good job of also is understanding the objective here is not to tear down cops. It’s not to destroy the police officers are keeping vulnerable communities safe.”

Michael Knowles: “Absolutely.”

Sen. Scott: “Well, and frankly, Ted as you just alluded to, there’s no doubt in my mind that the people who want character-driven law enforcement the most are communities of color. The people who are saying, ‘When I dial 911 I want someone coming immediately’ are communities of color. Why? Not because they’re always crime-ridden neighborhoods. It’s because your grandmother, who may not be able to move out of a bad neighborhood economically should always be in a good neighborhood from a social perspective. They want, I want, our family members, our loved ones, ourselves, to always have a responsive law enforcement department. And so, this defund police and this autonomous zone concept is antithetical to everything that we believe is dear in the communities of color.”

Sen. Cruz: “You know, one of the frustrating things, slavery is our country’s original sin, and race is an issue a lot of people demagogue on. A lot of Republicans are uncomfortable talking about it.”

Sen. Scott: “Shy away from it too much.”

Sen. Cruz: “We see Democrats, this week in the Judiciary Committee, there were several Democrats who said, ‘We haven’t moved one inch since the 1960’s on race.’ What utter garbage. We’ve made enormous strides.”

Sen. Scott: “Tremendous.”

Sen. Cruz: “We had Jim Crow laws, you had segregated schools. We’re making a journey. Now, we’ve still got a long way to go. I think understanding that perspective so many people have of why they feel the justice system isn’t treating them fairly — I think that’s important. And, Tim has spoken up a lot, particularly in the last couple of weeks in the conference, sharing his perspectives. One thing that I thought was particularly powerful, people were asking, ‘Alright, what do we do with the Confederate statues and renaming and all of this controversy?’ And your answer, which almost immediately was echoed by just about every Republican Senator, I thought was really powerful.”

Sen. Scott: “Well, thank you. You can repeat it for me since I don’t remember it. But yeah, this could be it. I also think the country is better off trying to create the future than reframe the past. We spend almost too much time in the rearview mirror and not enough time in the windshield. It’s hard not to get in an accident when all your focus is on yesterday.”

Sen. Cruz: “You’re right.”

Sen. Scott: “For us to reframe the past doesn’t benefit almost anyone. So, if we want to reframe the past, however, put up more statues. Put up a statue not just Martin Luther King Jr. What about Rosa Parks? Or Booker T. Washington? Washington Carver? There’s a lot of folks that we can celebrate. But, tearing something down does not necessarily build you up, number one. Number two, why aren’t we spending the time on economic mobility? Why are we not spending the time on educational outcomes in poor zip codes in America? Why are we not spending the time on creating financial literacy? And frankly, literacy to break the pipeline between education and incarceration? If you want to spend all the money in the world on something, please let it not be on tearing down a statue. Let us spend the dollars and the resources on building the future where every single American says, ‘Yes. That’s my country!’”

Michael Knowles: “We have just seconds left. I have to know, after that, I have to know with all these terrible things in the news and with particularly awful things being directed at you, how do you stay so cheery? I mean, why do you keep doing it? Why would you sign up for this job?”

Sen. Scott: “I don’t think I signed up for this job. I think I was called into this job. I think when I became a Christian, born again believer in 1983, the Lord had a plan for my life. Jeremiah 1:5 talks about before you were in your mother’s womb, He had a plan for us. I think I was hard wired for public service. Why? I don’t know. The fact that I find great joy in serving others is something that I think I’m hardwired to do, and frankly, you think about Matthew 22:37-39, ‘Loving the Lord, your God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength.’ The Second Commandment is ‘To love your neighbor as yourself.’ How better do we do that, than by making sacrificial offerings of our time, or talent, or our treasure? I was a poor kid. No treasure. Time? Time. Talent? Not enough. So I went into the one area where I knew I could make a difference and hopefully make my Momma proud.”

Michael Knowles: “Senator, you mentioned a frustrated preacher, I think maybe a not so frustrated preacher, I think just an honest to God inspiring preacher. I can’t beat that. Thank you, Senator. Thank you, Senator. I’m Michael Knowles. This is Verdict with Ted Cruz.”

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