Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) calls out China as a "Pariah State" for their role in allegedly covering up how communicable the Coronavirus spread is and allowing it to spread around the world. Saying "Deliberate actions that Beijing took to help spread this virus around the world, so the world would suffer along with them". Senator Cotton also touted his legislation that provides incentives to pharmaceutical companies, to move manufacturing back to America and out of China.
Guy Benson: Final hour, happy hour on this pact Tuesday, a very busy show here at the Guy Benson Show, our Web site guide Bensons show dot com. If you've missed a moment, you can subscribe to the podcast. It is free. Joining me now for the first time on the program, its U.S. Senator, Tom Cotton, a Republican of Arkansas. Senator, welcome. Glad to have you here.
Sen. Cotton: Hey, guy, it's good to be on with you. Thanks for having me.
Guy Benson: You bet. Well, first question before we get to some of the Corona virus and China questions that I have in the pipeline, I want to get your reaction to the crackdown over the weekend in Hong Kong. The Chinese puppet government in Hong Kong arresting more than a dozen pro-democracy leaders on that semi-autonomous island where I used to live, actually. And it seems like the government of China in Beijing and their proxies in Hong Kong are banking on the fact that people have to be inside and can't take to the streets because of Corona virus, sort of an exploitation of the pandemic to do some dirty work when it comes to suppressing democracy. Your response to what has happened?
Sen. Cotton: Guy, the arrests by the Chinese police in the Hong Kong islands are just a reminder that the Chinese Communist Party runs a police state that don't that doesn't uphold its most basic obligations. As you know, they committed in the basic law law to United Kingdom to respect Hong Kong autonomy for 50 years. We're far removed from that 50 year deadline. Yet the Chinese Communist Party repeatedly has tighten the screws in Hong Kong. And you're probably right that they view this as an opportunity to arrest and potentially disappear forever. Some of these pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong without prompting the kind of mass protests of millions that we saw last summer.
Guy Benson: Which it would have done under normal circumstances, and I know this the demonstrations would have been absolutely massive, but because everyone's scared for their physical health and safety and people are essentially locked down from large gatherings. The cynicism. I don't think cynicism even really covers it. It is an evil, evil gambit by this regime to squelch freedom and to do so in a way that is in violation of their obligations under international law. And it's just one more brazen step from the Chinese government on that front. Senator. I want to ask you, look, this is not necessarily the time for I told you so and score settling on politics. There are bigger fish to fry. I am curious, though, and so I have to ask. Given the treatment that you went through from much of the media a number of weeks ago when you came out and suggested that it seemed possible that perhaps coronavirus had accidentally escaped from a laboratory in Duhon, you were excoriated, you were mocked, you were dragged through the mud fact-check to within an inch of your life. This is conspiracy theorizing. This is reckless. This is irresponsible. What a joke. Now that we have discovered all that we have discovered and all the reporting that's out there and the full scale federal investigation into precisely what you have suggested. Have any of the journalists, blue checkmark people who came after you very hard in a scornful way? Has a single one of them contacted you? Even channels to say, hey, you're onto something? I'm sorry.
Sen. Cotton: If I have, I've missed that callback slip of journalists and reporters and cable news pundits who were attacking me back in February when I first questioned the Chinese Communist Party line. It's a sad fact that too many of our media are Chinese apologists. Believe me, I wish that I had not been right about anything on this virus. I wish that what I was saying in mid-January turned out to be correct, given all of the pain and suffering, lost lives, destroyed livelihoods. This virus has inflicted on our people and all around the globe. But if I spent all my time telling reporters, I tell him so I wouldn't have much time to do the people's business.
Guy Benson: I think that's right. I'm just saying, you know, I am one of those sort of chattering class commentators, pundits, whatever you want us call us. And if I had blown it so badly and really gone after someone in such an intense way and then was proven wrong within a matter of weeks, I would feel some shame and would probably try to at least publicly say something or write something. I don't know. Maybe it's too much to expect of some folks. But you mentioned, Senator, that you have been sounding the alarm about coronavirus since mid-January. So my question to you on that front is this and this is not meant as a gotcha to try to rope you into criticizing the president. But we hear from the White House, from the president a lot that no one really understood what was happening early on. And I think there was a lot of revisionism from many of the president's critics who were not taking this seriously until, let's say, March now pretending like, oh, yes, everyone knew in January and February where this was headed. You actually were one of the Sentinel's. Saying, look out, people, there's something serious coming down the pike. Do you believe that certain things could have been done better or should have been done differently? Let's say in February in between the W8 chose misinformation coming out and then the world really waking up in, let's say, the second week of March. Was there squandered time? Was there a several week period that ought to have been used differently in terms of U.S. preparation? In your view?
Sen. Cotton: Yeah. So first off, let's just say that back in January, there were not all that many people who were taking this virus seriously. In fact, many people attacking May in February or also in January, writing navel gazing pieces about how the seasonal flu is worse than this virus, and especially when the president shut down travel, as I've been urging him to do so from China in late January, they called hysterical and racist and xenophobic. I first kind of recognize the severity of this virus, at least the potential severity simply by comparing Chinese communist rhetoric to their actions. So the rhetoric on the one hand in early to mid-January was calming and soothing and projecting an air of control. Their actions, though, belied that rhetoric. They were locking down a city of 11 million people, ordering New York City. Sometimes they were literally welding the doors to a high rise apartment shut. They were shutting schools across all of mainland China. They were stopping flights going into Hong Kong, which would ordinarily never do. The contrast between that rhetoric and his actions told me this is a potentially severe global pandemic. As I said at the time, we don't know a lot about the virus, but it is better in these circumstances to over on the side of caution to adhere to. Benjamin Franklin told Maxim that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. The president's actions in shutting down air travel from China in late January brought us several weeks of time, unfortunately. Probably the biggest misstep here in the United States is that the CDC and the FDA didn't get their act together when it came to developing new testing kits early on in early February. Now, that would have given us earlier insights into where the virus was, though. But it would not have produced this kind of test that we need today to get the economy back on its feet. In early February, we're looking at what's largely a science problem, getting the exact science right. Getting the tests accurate and getting it out to the field. Today, we face largely a manufacturing problem, and that's in part because we've outsourced so much of our medical manufacturing capabilities to China. It's not easy to produce the billions and billions of swabs and chemical reagents and testing machines we'll need. We are beginning to meet that challenge, but that's a huge scale that is going more slowly than we would like. But again, that's the result of 30 years of bad trade policy with China, not the result of anything that President Trump did or didn't think of the last 30 years.
Guy Benson: We're starting to see governors reacting to the federal guidance and some governors rushing out there to say, all right, we're gonna start reopening certain businesses. We saw in South Carolina, we've seen it in Georgia. And I think other governors saying, well, let's wait and see what our data looks like. What is your overall view points on the president's plan and how you think governors ought to interact with that plan?
Sen. Cotton: So I think the plan and the president and his task force announced last week, supported by their leading scientific experts, Dr. Bourke's and Dr. Foushee, is a sound plan set of guidelines that governors, mayors will have to implement in their local communities and their states. I have said from the beginning, back when the Senate was still in session and I gave a speech on the Senate floor about this, you know, Donald Trump didn't quote unquote, shutting thing down. It was our governors and mayors. But then reality die. A lot of their orders were rearguard actions, reflecting the spontaneous and voluntary decisions and actions of our people who were already largely staying at home and avoiding large crowd driven, avoiding restaurants because of their fear of a deadly virus. So a lot of the steps that our governors and mayors took simply reflected the reality we already faced by mid to late March. And they were designed to protect our hospitals to make sure that our hospitals were overwhelmed the way you saw in Italy and Spain and we almost saw in New York City. Now that we know that we seem to have the hospital capacity, I understand the desire of a lot of our governors and our mayor has been trying to get people back to work, get the economy back on its feet. Of course, that's going to have to be gradual and calibrated and rolling and tentative. Different cities and states and regions are going to need different approaches. And in particular, New York City and its metro area is going to need something different really from the rest of the country. You know, New York is a great city. I love New Yorkers. They are facing a terrible challenge, in large part because of what makes this city unique. Is it just incredible density almost twice as dense as an expensive city? New York City, heavy reliance on public transportation. It's international nature. So many people coming in and out of it in December and January. That's going to call for a different kind of response than what you're going to need even in other large cities and certainly midsize cities like Little Rock and then rural areas as well. So New York City, which is so much tension in the media, needs a plan that's going to address their circumstances. But every state, every city is going to build plan that's calling me a lot different. No one that gets spotlighted so much in the news.
Guy Benson: Senator Cotton, what do you say when you see some of these protesters in state capitals where they're desperate to get the economy back open? Desperate to get back to work, which is, in my view, totally understandable, but also clustered in close quarters. Many of them not wearing masks. That's less understandable or justifiable, in my view. What's your message to the people that you see in the news clips who are out there on the streets?
Sen. Cotton: I certainly understand their frustration and their desire to get people back to work. The dip the economy back on its feet because we have livelihoods at risk, in addition, having lives at risk, and I don't at all criticize them for exercising their First Amendment rights. I would encourage them, though, if they exercised those rights to try to do everything they can to make sure that they are not making it harder for us to get the economy back on its feet and people back to work. Want to protest the long treasured and cherished American tradition. But if what I'm asking, you can do it. If you could stay six feet apart from each other, you can still express your opinion and your desire to change, which you may see as misguided policies or decisions by mayors, county executives or governors, while at the same time protecting yourself, protecting your families, protecting others.
Guy Benson: Senator, back to China. There's a lot of talk about accountability and we're starting to see it, frankly. The Australians, the Brits, people really are taking a notably harsher tone toward Beijing when it comes to actual reality here. What does accountability look like, in your view, and especially what does it look like in light of the legislation you've introduced?
Sen. Cotton: Well, the world is all beginning to recognize that China is a pariah state and it's time to treat China as a pariah state. There are many possible ways that we can impose consequences on China for the criminal negligence. And in my opinion, the deliberate actions that Beijing took to help spread this virus around the world so the world would suffer along with them. My legislation, as you say, would amend the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, which will open the American courts up to Chinese officials who were involved in this cover up, just like we did for the 9/11 terrorist attack victims. I also have legislation that would bring pharmaceutical manufacturing out of China and back to the United States for providing incentives for building more factories here and cut off access to Chinese drugs in America. We could do that. Another critical injuries as well, like the telecommunications industry. We can begin to reexamine China's role in some of these international organizations and the exclusion of Taiwan from international organizations at Beijing's dictate. I mean, remember here this circumstance, Taiwan was one of the countries that best handled this outbreak. Yet their insights in January were largely excluded from W8 Jos'e lessons learned because Beijing didn't want them to be included. There's a lot of steps that we can take and that we should continue to take in the months ahead to ensure that we fundamentally alter our relationship with China. And I suspect most of the civilized world is going to do the same things that.
Guy Benson: Senator, last question. We have about 30 seconds. I just want to play something that was said by one of your Democratic colleagues in the Senate on CNN a few days ago about all of this cut 31. The reason that we're in the crisis that we are today is not because of anything that China did, not because of anything the W.H.O. did. It's because of what this president did, what this president did not China, not the W.H.O.. Briefly, Senator, your reaction?
Sen. Cotton: Well, almost entirely China's fault that we're in this global pandemic. China helped unleashes pandemic on the world through its negligence and then through its intentional cover ups, its refusal to share with the world what is happening to continue to encourage travel from outside mainland China. I understand that Democrats in the media want to make everything about Donald Trump. They obsessively attack him at every turn. But the American people understand that this is a global pandemic. It's hit every country in the world and it started in China. And China is responsible for it.
Guy Benson: We heard one view from Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut in that clip, another view from Senator Tom Cotton. Our guests, Republican from Arkansas. You can decide who makes more sense in your mind. Senator Cotton, thank you so much for your time today. We look forward to talking again.
Sen. Cotton: Thank you, guy.
Guy Benson: We'll take a break. We'll be right back. As the happy hour rolls on on the guy, then some show.