Oklahoma Senator James Lankford (R) joined Fox News Radio's Guy Benson to talk about the effort by Senate Republicans to put together a police reform bill, in the wake of George floyd's death. Senator Lankford also commented on President Trump's decision to hold his first post-COVID campaign rally in Tulsa Oklahoma. Amid outcry that the rally will be held on 'Juneteenth', A day of remembrance & celebration for African American Community that commemorates of the end of slavery in the United States. Lankford Said,
"I'm glad that the president's coming on Juneteenth. We are the party of Lincoln. And when you talk about the party of Lincoln, the Juneteenth time was a recognition of the emancipation that President Lincoln put down on slaves all across the entire country is incredible. Day of celebration for African-American. And for those individuals that are descendants of slaves. But it's also Remembrance Day for Republicans to say we are the party of opportunity, we are the party of equal status under the law, and that every person is created equal."
The Senator also said,
"I do not believe the president's a racist. He has a lot of things thrown at him on these issues. I do not believe he's a racist. I think he will speak to this issue and should speak to this issue to the nation. And I think this being the first rally, there'll be people literally all over the world that will pause and be able to pick it up. And it's a great moment and a great time to be able to have this kind of dialog."
Listen To The Full Interview Below:
Guy Benson: Time for our happy hour here on The Guy Benson Show. Glad to have you all along. Thank you for listening. Each and every day we are live three to six p.m. Eastern time, if you ever miss a moment. The podcast is free of charge on us. Guy Benson show dot com Spotify, Pandora. I tunes all sorts of options to listen. We're now joined by U.S. Senator James Lankford, Republican of Oklahoma. He sits on a number of notable committees, including Homeland Security, and he is now part of a task force with Senator Tim Scott dealing with potential public policy changes in the wake of the killing of George Floyd. He joins me now. Senator, great to have you here.
Sen. Lankford: You bet. Good to visit with you.
Guy Benson: So let's start with this task force with Senator Scott. I saw a few of his tweets yesterday. Some people are piling on him saying that he's being used, that he's an Uncle Tom, that he's a token. I think that that's pretty insulting stuff and he's very capable of defending himself and he's done so. But he's someone who I think has thought about these types of issues, police excesses, race relations for his entire life. You guys have worked together on this subject matter in the past. So maybe give us some of that history and then what the game plan is right now.
Sen. Lankford: Yeah, it is unfortunate that folks would pile on Tim Scott and say, based on his race, he should be a Democrat. This goes back to Biden's statement that your not black, if you don't vote for him and there there's this perception when you put people together, Tim is exceptionally smart, very engaged. He's seen some of the things that have happened all over the country and have seen a lot of policies that have been put in place all over the country. He sees the outcome in the effect of that in his own in his own family and community and all over the entire country. And Tim is also somebody that has been pulled over for driving while black. And while I've driven around Washington, D.C. and in my own community back home. I've not just been pulled over randomly. He has multiple times. He has the opportunity be able to speak into police issues different than most everyone else because he's had personal effect on this and has deep respect for law enforcement, but also understands the shortcomings of some areas. And so he's a great person to be able to be engaged in this. He's done a lot of work with law enforcement to be able to talk through the behind the scenes and comes to it well-thought-out.
Guy Benson: We've seen some legislation introduced by the Democrats. They had their moment wearing African garb and kneeling in front of the cameras and then they put out their bill. I think there's some provisions in there that I think are totally sensible. I think there are other perhaps misfires. What are you guys thinking about as you look at what's already been put on the table by the other party? Are there areas that you already can identify for agreement? Will there be crossover between whatever you guys produce and what they've proposed?
Sen. Lankford: Well, let me start with we did not start with their piece of legislation. We had already started on what we were working on already with this task force. There are six of us that had gone through pretty extensive conversations and research. And so that this was not something that we based off of what the Democrats already put out. They did pull some things out that they had done. They put it out very, very quickly. We're trying to be able to think through some different issues and to be able continue to deal with this. But we do have some Samarra's. I think we have some common ground. For instance, there's a lot of transparency that they have that we have as well. I think it's important we will recall what Tim Scott had done, called the Walter Scott Notification Act. That's not called George George Floyd Walter Scott Notification Act, that if there's a fatality in police custody, there should be some good transparency. About 40 percent of the departments in the country already reveal out their information of what happens in a fatality in some of the reports into a national listing to contract that. But we'd like the rest of the departments to be able to do that as well. That just gives good transparency. If there's a fatality of what happened and if there's something in particular that the no knock warrants, they're just prohibiting no knock warrants in drug issues, I think that's a bad idea to just prohibit them. You do have drug dealers and other folks that are heavily armed and there's a reason for no, no, but we need to know more about how they're being used and what happened. So we're trying to gather some information. Body cameras help law enforcement to be able to show there's the rest of the story here. When one person says one thing and somebody else is something different. The video camera and the audio shows it. So increasing the use of body cameras and also giving a incentive to make sure they stay on. We've had some times where there's been different events that mysteriously the body camera got turned off in that time period. And we want to be able to make sure that they can stay on at the times that they're actually on duty. Obviously not not when they're eating in a restaurant or whatever it may be. So there's some common sense things here. And one, things were also folksongs recruiting. There's a lot of departments that match their community. Some departments ethnicity does not match the rest of their community. We want to help them get recruiters and then to be able help gets most folks through the academy. And so there are more people that match the community itself and there's more Buy-In by the community. Community policing really does work. It takes more time. Takes more effort, but community policing makes a big difference.
Guy Benson: All of that makes sense to me and sounds pretty reasonable and constructive. I wonder, have you guys thought about this qualified immunity issue? Because there is a push in the house, a tri partizan push, as a matter of fact, right. On qualified immunity. That's something that I think ought to be looked at. I don't want you to get out in front of your official proposal, but is that something you're at least discussing? So I think that are ending it.
Sen. Lankford: It is something we're discussing. And there's a lot of questions without there are a couple of challenges you want to have. You never want to get into a situation where someone can just take an action and to say, my city is going to cover me. That's not so. If, for instance, even in this situation, Mr. Ford was murdered, though, departments are going to just step up and say, hey, there's qualified immunity. There wasn't any way out of bounds, way incorrect in that. So there's not unlimited immunity for law enforcement. And I think that's what some people take it as. But the law enforcement challenge that you really have is a never one, a law enforcement officer to have to hesitate because of a police officer hesitates. They're dead, so they can't just hesitate on things and be worried all the time behind the scenes of the what ifs and the what now, so we've got to be able to strike that balance.
Guy Benson: I think that's right. And the bang bang. Life and death decisions are the hardest part of the job, I would imagine, for police officers. And I really do struggle when we try to punish police officers for making honest mistakes when lives are on the line. And you have to make a decision in a split second. I'm extremely empathetic on that and at least sympathetic on that. But what we saw happen to George Floyd was, you know, nine minutes of excruciating agony. We saw in Buffalo, New York those police officers knock over an old man who's then smacking his head on the pavement and bleeding from his head, and they walk right past him. You know, that's not a bang bang decisions. Maybe maybe the shove is if you want to debate that. But declining to help him is not. And I think that you look at some of those actions and you say, well, there's a problem here, not necessarily with just an individual officer, but maybe at least a partial culture in some of these departments. That's where I think the challenge lies in a lot of ways.
Sen. Lankford: I agree, by the way, and that is one of the biggest issues that we have, is that that is not true of most officers by far. And I think right as Americans inherently know it. Yeah, just like saying all protesters are rioters. We all know that's not true, that all protesters are writers. All cops are racist, is not true either. And and so we've got to be able to help identify some of these issues. One of the grand challenges that we really have is accountability. One of things that we're trying to develop is a way that records can be kept on law enforcement, that they get fired from one department and they just move to another one, that those records are made available and that people can see from department departments. So we don't have bad actors moving around, but we've got to be able to work on the basic accountability side of this as well within departments. I can quietly talk to law enforcement and I'll say I know who the bad actors are in my department, but they're protected. And so trying to find a way to have greater accountability at the mayor's office or city manager's office or the chief of police, whoever has accountability there, to be able to make sure that they can hold bad actors accountable within the departments. So people aren't having to worry about what's going to happen behind them because they know there's a guy that's a bad actor.
Guy Benson: Senator Lankford, turning to other politics, the president has announced he's restarting the rallies for his campaign. And it looks like the first one is going to be a little over a week from now in your home state. Tulsa, Oklahoma, up, I guess, a two part question, number one. Do you think in your opinion there should be required distancing, mask wearing and other mitigation efforts imposed and enforced if this rally is going to happen, especially indoors in Oklahoma? And secondly, there's been some serious criticism about the timing of the rally, setting aside the pandemic concerns. They've scheduled it for Juneteenth in a city that has had some very difficult racial situations in the past. I think, to put it charitably, and some people are saying this is insensitive timing, your response to both of those concerns that people are raising.
Sen. Lankford: So let me let me raise the first and second. You know, the first one. I'll let the governor decide that because he's the one making the decision about how we're going through the process of social distancing and such. Oklahoma folks aren't familiar with us. We've already gone through phase one, two and three. We have fewer cases than we'd like. New Jersey has had deaths from COVID 19. So Oklahomans have done a very good job of social distancing, done a very good job with trying to manage this. Our deaths in hospitals, nations continue to go down. And so while we'll have peaks and valleys through that, we've had very good numbers and good data.
Guy Benson: And I think it's just a jump. And I think that that's a completely fair point. And yes, you right about it's the you know, it's the decision of the state local government. Just if the governor were to call you and say, hey, senator, do you think we should maybe have people spread out six feet apart and wearing masks? What would your advice be to him?
Sen. Lankford: I would have to actually look at and see where our numbers are about next week. Our. She's already involved are other public venues are open or restaurants are open. And so, again, we're in a very different situation. Should we allow more distancing? Probably. But what that should be and how we manage that is very different for us than it is many other parts of the country. That the numbers are higher on the second part of it. I'm glad that the president's coming on Juneteenth. We are the party of Lincoln. And when you talk about the party of Lincoln, the Juneteenth time was a recognition of the emancipation that President Lincoln put down on slaves all across the entire country is incredible. Day of celebration for African-American. And for those individuals that are descendants of slaves. But it's also Remembrance Day for Republicans to say we are the party of opportunity, we are the party of equal status under the law, and that every person is created equal. And Juneteenth is kind of a reminder day in our minds of the of what that really means to be the party of Lincoln and to be the party that kind of kick this whole thing off if people don't know about. Also, you mentioned this and I'm glad you did. The worst race riots in American history happened in Tulsa 99 years ago where there was a white mob trying to be able to take a young African-American man out of the jail in downtown Tulsa to lynch him. Instead, they marched down to the Greenwood district in north Tulsa and burned it to the ground. And up to 300 people were killed that day and the homes and businesses were burned to the ground. This was the wealthiest black community in America. It was called black Wall Street because there were so many wealthy black African black people that were there. And so I, I it's a great place to be able to talk about race. And I've said to people for years now, on May the thirty first and on June the first 20, 21 will be the one hundred year anniversary. I think the entire country will pause and look at Tulsa and we'll ask what's happened in race in America in 100 years. And it's interesting that conversation is now happening even earlier than we thought. It's going to be right now.
Guy Benson: Do you think the president's a good person to lead that conversation?
Sen. Lankford: I think he is the person to lead that conversation. And I think the president, United States uniquely has that ability to be able to do that. I I've talked to the President Ford. I do not believe the president's a racist. He has a lot of things thrown at him on these issues. I do not believe he's a racist. I think he will speak to this issue and should speak to this issue to the nation. And I think this being the first rally, there'll be people literally all over the world that will pause and be able to pick it up. And it's a great moment and a great time to be able to have this kind of dialog.
Sen. Lankford: Oklahoma Republican James Lankford. U.S. senator, my guest here on the guy Benson's show. We appreciate your time today and good luck on this task force with Senator Scott. It's extremely important. I know you know that, but I'm looking forward to seeing the proposals that you officially unveil.
Sen. Lankford: Thanks very much. We're ready. Get them done and get him out there.
Guy Benson: Senator Lankford on the guy Benson show.