Presidential hopeful Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) appeared to not know how many branches of government exist during a Tuesday interview on CNN.
Warren joined CNN’s Anderson Cooper on “Anderson Cooper 360” to discuss a variety of issues, including the on-going government shutdown.
“Do you ever think, look, the realistic end game is that Republicans get two thirds of what they want and the Democrats have to settle for the shorter straw?” Cooper asked. “Is that how the balance of power really works?”
“Well, let’s talk about the balance of power,” Warren responded. “There are two coequal branches of government, the president of the United States and the Congress.”
There are three branches of the U.S. government: The legislative branch, which makes laws; the executive branch, which enforces laws; and the judicial branch, which interprets laws.
The embarrassing clip of Warren comes after socialist Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) showed a couple of months ago that she had no idea what the three branches of government were.
“If we work our butts off to make sure that we take back all three chambers of Congress — uh, rather, all three chambers of government: the presidency, the Senate, and the House,” Ocasio-Cortez said.
Full transcript of Warren’s interview with Cooper provided via CNN:
COOPER: Senator Warren, you’re in Puerto Rico tonight. Can you explain why you’re there especially so early on in your campaign?
SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D), MASSACHUSETTS: So I’ve been talking about a government in Washington that works great for the wealthy and to the well-connected but not so much for everyone else. And I’ve been doing that for a long time. Puerto Rico is one of the prime examples of that. Right here in Puerto Rico, an island that’s been devastated both by a financial crisis and by twin hurricanes, right now has a government that is taking money off the island in order to send it to Wall Street.
And cutting services, health care services, schools right here in Puerto Rico. It’s just a prime example of government that works for the rich and the powerful and doesn’t work for the people.
COOPER: Do you believe that the government in D.C. is complicit in the — in keeping the body count of the actual death toll so low for so long? We’ve now learned from various studies that thousands of people died in the wake and months after the storm. Do you think the government is complicit in that?
WARREN: The death count in Puerto Rico has been proven to be now in the thousands. And the fact that this administration has refused to acknowledge that and continue to put out reports long after the evidence was available showing just a very small death count is just one more way in which the people of Puerto Rico have been disrespected from start to finish since the hurricanes hit.
COOPER: Just in terms of the shutdown, the Senate’s going to vote Thursday on two partisan bills that have no chance of passing both chambers. Is that really the best that lawmakers can do? Does either side have a right to be proud of what’s happening right now? WARREN: Look, we need to open the government. People are working
jobs. I today was with TSA agents who are out doing their jobs trying to keep us safe, and they’re not getting paid.
People have been shutout from the jobs that they need to do. The government needs to be reopened. There are two ways that can happen immediately. Either Donald Trump can say he’s ready to sign something to open the government or Mitch McConnell could just put the same budget bill on the floor of the Senate that was voted overwhelmingly in December.
This is manufactured crisis and it’s starting to impose real pain — real pain on families all across this country.
[20:10:06] Federal agents are not political pawns in some game that the Republicans want to play. We need to get the government open.
COOPER: The president’s party, though, controls the White House and the Senate. Democrats only control the House. Do you ever think, look, the realistic end game is that Republicans get two thirds of what they want and the Democrats have to settle for the shorter straw? Is that how the balance of power really works?
WARREN: Well, let’s talk about the balance of power. There are two coequal branches of government, the president of the United States and the Congress. The Congress of the United States in December, the Senate voted on a funding bill that was a compromise between Democrats and Republicans. The House held it up, so when the House came back into session after the new year in 2019, they passed the funding bill.
We have the votes on the congressional side. But so far, Mitch McConnell is saying, no, the only one who has any power in Washington is Donald Trump. And he’s saying he won’t bring any bill to the floor of the Senate that can’t be passed that the president won’t sign into law. That’s basically just abdicating the responsibility of Congress.
We had a compromised proposal, Democrats and Republicans. Everybody had signed off ready to go, and then Donald Trump blew it up for his own reasons and said he would be proud to shutdown the government. Well, that’s what he’s done and we are now sitting here in the longest shutdown in American history.
And it’s hurting people all across this country. It needs to stop. Reopen the government.
COOPER: I want to ask you a little bit about the presidential race. I know you said you’re delighted that Senator Kamala Harris has announced her candidacy for president. Are you concerned at all how she and other centrists, you might call them, may run or attempt to paint you as too far to the left?
Is too far to the left of the mantle you may happily embrace?
WARREN: Look, I’m now talking about the economic issues how government works, about what’s happening to middle class families, working families all cross this country, why the path has gotten rockier and rockier, and why it’s gotten so much rockier for people of color. This is — this is what I’ve worked on all my life, and I got into the Senate race in 2012 to talk about these issues, to fight for these families.
Now, here I am as we look at 2020 just right in the center of this fight. This is what I’m going to continue to talk about. And I’m delighted that there are lots of Democrats who want to talk about ideas, who want to talk about a way to build a stronger America. I believe in that.
You know, I’m somebody whose dad ended up as a janitor. I got my chance at a college that cost $50 a semester and I got a chance to be a public school teacher, a chance to be a college professor and chance to be a United States senator, because America invested in that opportunity.
I believe in investing in opportunities for our kids. I think that’s how we build a real future in this country and I’m out there and willing to fight for it.
COOPER: So, to voters who look at the economy, see it booming, credit among other things, the president’s tax cut for that, I’m wondering what you have to say, have the tax cuts had a positive effects on the economy?
WARREN: Look, giving away a trillion and a half-dollars to corporations, to billionaires, to the wealthy and well-connected, while young people are struggling with student loan debt, while families can’t have prescriptions filled, while infrastructure crumbles around us, that’s not how we build a future in this country. You know, the way I see this is it is this fundamental question, who do we think our government ought to work for?
This economy? Sure, there are great numbers. The rich got fabulous tax breaks. Wall Street has been up and down but back up.
But the lived experience of tens of millions of people across this country is the squeeze. It’s about flat wages and increased cost for housing, for health insurance, to get your kids educated.
[20:15:03] Now, we have a country that’s getting richer and richer, but the problem is that too much of that wealth is flowing just to a thin slice at the top. And everyone else is getting left behind. That’s not how we build a future.
COOPER: The president has obviously had his fair charge of racially charged things to say about you, if not outright racist. Yesterday, on Martin Luther King Day, Congressman Hakeem Jeffries called the president the grand wizard of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Is that an appropriate thing for a sitting member of Congress to say about the president?
WARREN: Look, the president has made clear where he stands. And he did that in Charlottesville. He’s done it over and over.
What matters is that we as Democrats make clear what we stand for and what we’re going to fight for.
Look, for me. I believe in the wealth — I believe in the worth of every single human being. I think that recognizing that worth and then as a country saying we’re just going to invest in some opportunities, a level playing field, a chance for a kid who’s the daughter of a janitor to be able to go to school, to be able to get an education, to be able to build some real security in her life, I believe that that is the best of America. I believe in an America that reflects our values.
But we’re going to have to build it together. We’re going to have to take our government back. We’re going to have to take it away from the wealthy and well-connected who have turned it in their direction, and we’re going to have to make it work again for the people. That’s the reason I’m in this.
COOPER: Just lastly, just in terms of the race, are you confident that you know how to effectively campaign against the president and against his scorched earth tactics, because, you know, the high road didn’t work out for more than a dozen Republican candidates, didn’t work out for Hillary Clinton.
WARREN: You know, I’ll tell you something, I was born and raised in Oklahoma. And all three of my brothers live in Oklahoma now. One of them is a Democrat. The other two are not.
But I love all three of my brothers. And one of the things we spend a lot of time doing is talking about the things we actually agree on, the values. We want the same things for our kids. We want all of our kids to have basic health care coverage, and we don’t want it so there’s somebody that’s sick, they end up bankrupt as well.
We want our kids to be able to get an education, a good education, pre-K, K-12 and after high school. And we want those things. We want our kids to have a future.
And yes, there are places where we disagree about the best place to put that together. But I think as a people, when we talk about our values, we talk about the things that we care most about, we can find some common ground and we can build on that ground, and we can make a real commitment. Not just to hope it happens but a real commitment to fight for it, to make it happen. I think that’s our opportunity. And I also think it’s our responsibility.
COOPER: Senator Warren, I appreciate your time. Thanks.
WARREN: It’s good to talk with you.