When asked if she trusts technology companies, Senator Amy Klobuchar said: "No. No, I don't.
"I like that they are incredibly successful for America," said Klobuchar in the latest episode of Recode Decode. "I like that they employ so many people. I like that they have introduced new ideas and new innovations, but I don't like them saying so long & # 39; trust us & # 39 ;, and we did it … in this country we have not always embraced things and let them run the show. "
Senator Klobuchar spoke with Recode & # 39; s Kara Swisher for a live audience on South By Southwest, where she sets out her vision for antitrust reform, new taxes and a federal privacy law that could change the relationship between Silicon Valley and the government. But before she can get anything out of it, Klobuchar – who will be president of the US in 2020 – must win the nomination of the Democratic Party and then the White House.
One of the ideas that drove the Minnesota senator in the one-hour interview is a tax on companies that exchange their users' private information.
"We are their merchandise, and we can't get anything out, right?" She said. & # 39; If they sell our data to someone else, they may have to let us know so that we can put some sort of tax on it, just like with other companies. If you go with a truck, if you send things on the track, you have to pay for the roads and you have to pay for the railroad, and maybe we can do that with large amounts of data somehow. "
You can listen Recode Decode wherever you get your podcasts, including Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Pocket Casts and Overcast.
Below we have shared a slightly edited full transcript of Kara & # 39; s conversation with Sen Klobuchar.
Kara Swisher: Well, welcome here. I'm so excited to start this. Senator Klobuchar, I usually beat tech executives, so this is going to be fine.
Amy Klobuchar: Like Mark Zuckerberg?
Like Mark Zuckerberg, yes. But it's too easy.
Okay, I'm done.
Okay. I met Senator Klobuchar backstage and we talked about a lot of things. And I asked her if she wanted to start or end with the comb. So we start with the comb. I have to, I have to, I am not a political reporter. Part of this … I have a son voting in the next election and I asked him about it and he said, "That's the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard as a subject." My other son, who is 13, said, "What kind of salad was it?" And other people say different things. So what was your response to? that story in the New York Times?
Well, first and foremost, hello everyone, before I get to the ridge. It's great to be in Austin, I love this city. I even rented a bike a couple of times ago when I was here and drove around for three hours and got lost. And it was just this incredible experience. So it's really good to be back and good to be here with you. I thought if I could get through an announcement in the snow storm, in my permanent snow globe, I could get through our interview.
So of course nobody feels good when they read a story like that. And as I said, I have high expectations of myself, I have high expectations of the people who work with me, and above all, I have high expectations of our country. And for me that story was about … the story of the comb was that I was doing some kind of mother's thing. I didn't have a fork, I used a comb to eat a salad, very briefly on a plane in a MacGyver movement. And when I look back on my time in the senate, I know a few things. I know that I can be difficult for people, sometimes too heavy. That I can push them too hard. That I can always do better.
But I also know that we have incredible people who have worked with me, I could not have done last week what I discovered last week, that I was number 15 of every Democrat in the Senate by Vanderbilt on 15 statistics. to get things done in the United States Senate. And I could not have done that without staff. And we have had so many people who have done incredible things. Including Asal, which I just saw in the second row, who was my planner in Washington for three years, now doing excellent work in the non-profit sector.
And so you continue, you ensure that you have the right employees around you all the time to do a good job, and that is what I am going to do in this campaign now. It is a fishbowl, you can see us and see how I work with our employees and I will do that as president.
Why do you think this is the thing they've focused on with you? There are a lot of silly bosses everywhere. I have had a number of them. Why do you think this stayed here? Is it sexist? People have brought that … Others have written that it is not sexist. It goes on and on. What do you imagine?
I am not going there and I suppose that at some point other candidates will be asked the same thing and there will be stories. I was a little right about my candidacy, I thought that was very important. If you haven't noticed, I have a little less ID than a few of the other candidates and maybe that was why I was there right away. But whatever it is, I just can't waste my time analyzing, because this commitment is too high and I worry too much. That is why I announced my candidacy in the middle of a snowstorm through that Mississippi River, because I wanted to emphasize that it is time to cross the river from our dividing lines, so that I no longer have to go to the last tweet and attack every day. and walk across that solid bridge that is our democracy to a new plateau in our politics, to a new field in our politics.
And for me, that's why it's so cool that we're here in Austin to face the challenges ahead. Because this is a city that faces challenges that have entered the digital world and has developed new businesses and new ideas, which is a leader in culture and music and understands that America is not just on the coast, right? That America, like Minnesota, lies in the heart of this country and in the heart of Texas.
Okay, Austin is great fun, the barbecue is great. But I do want to understand why … When these things degenerate, because it is now part of the wider culture, how stories appear this way, they go through their cycles, there are dozens for each of the candidates. What does that say about our political culture? Because it's a nervous culture, we have someone who runs this country and I think it's probably the most epic troller of all time on Twitter.
He called me Snow Woman.
I actually liked that name. I embraced it.
It could have been so many other ways. How do you imagine that? I mean, you say that, we want to bridge the digital gap, we want to hurry. Can't we all … But life is not a Coca-Cola commercial.
It's not only we can get along, no, no, no. I don't think we can all find it together. I think what we think we can do is in the words of my friend, John McCain, the last thing he did when I saw him live on his ranch was by referring to some words in his book that said: "There is nothing more liberating than fighting for a cause greater than yourself."
Well, America is that cause right now and when I see the corrosive gap, instead of trying to find ways to bring us together in times of crisis, he finds ways to take us apart. This is Donald Trump. Every day. And that is the most important thing in people's minds.
The second is to ensure that we have someone in the White House who is willing to take on the challenges of the day, whether it is climate change, or we deal with privacy legislation, immigration reform, something so important in Texas, so important for our economy, something he doesn't talk about enough. How we deal with income inequality. These are the challenges of our time. And because we spend all our time being ruled by chaos, he does not rule on occasion and I want to rule with opportunities.
If you are thinking of doing that, what is your path to win that way? How do you look at your path? Because primarily the money path, the increase in excessive amounts of money. There is the sound of social media, there is the gap, what is your path? Put it down for us.
Well, I start with how I won every single election that I have ever entered. And that is by not only going where it is comfortable, but also where it is uncomfortable. Texas is a good example here. Look at those congress races that you won in this condition, right? That people didn't expect you to win. And if you didn't have candidates coming forward and walking in areas that were unexpected, we wouldn't have those seats. So that's what I did in my own state. And I won in three American Senate elections, each separate congressional district, each time – including Michelle Bachman & # 39; s, okay? That is in a purple state and that is in a state that Donald Trump almost won, including winning. He won a number of national provinces, which I subsequently won two years later.
And that's because I think when you talk to people in the countryside, you soon discover that poverty in the countryside is just as bad for children as it is in urban areas. You soon find out that they feel that there are people in urban areas who think that their food just ends up on their plates and does not understand the hard work that is in it. So there are national hospital issues that are so unique. There are problems with broadband in rural areas. And that is why, as President, one of the things that we are talking about here is technology that I think we should unite our country with, is that yes, we can be as good as Iceland, okay, we can get …
Is that your campaign slogan? "Yes, can we be as good as Iceland?"
I don't think this would really work in the warmer parts of the United States, but the idea is that by 2022 we can get broadband to every household in the country, broadband. There is no reason we can't do this do that.
But your platform, the most important platform you were talking about when you were in the snow: Pharma prices, tech, what else?
I talked about the idea that we should have people back, that everyone matters in this country. And for too long, yes, we want to switch to universal health care, and I have ideas for that, but the issue of pharmaceuticals has really been neglected in every administration in the last 20 years. They actually think they own Washington. Well, they don't own me. From the very beginning since the day I arrived, I have been running bills that are aimed at reducing pharmaceutical prices. For me that means more competition. In Minnesota we see Canada from our porch and that means we see these less expensive drugs all the time.
So if you brought safer drugs from places like Canada, that's a bill I had with Senator McCain and now Senator Grassley has agreed to take his place, you could lower prices. If you have stopped the harmful policy called Pay for Delay, where big pharma pays generic drugs to keep their products off the market, consider how anti-competitive it is, you will save $ 2.9 billion in a few years customers. Medicare, allows to unleash that negotiating position of 43 million seniors and to lift the ban on negotiating prices. These are all pro-consumer issues. These are all ways of dealing with competition and bringing back to what I think is a strong system, the capitalist system.
But you don't get entrepreneurship as we see in this city if you allow large companies to buy out other companies and completely dominate a market. Then you lose the competition. It was Adam Smith who, no matter how much he loved capitalism, said he was afraid of that power of monopolies. Well, that's what's happening now.
You said that pharma does not own you, but that it owns Washington. How do you do something about it?
Well, because it's becoming such a big political problem that politicians get scared, right? So politicians get scared when there is a crisis, like when we had the financial crisis and then we had to take action. Well, you don't want to wait until you are at the time of a crisis. But right now, voters clearly said that we don't like what happens when it comes to pharmaceutical prices. Advertisements were run on it, people who were too much in their pockets were in trouble and it was used against them. So you reach this peak of a political moment where you can actually take action and you must seize that moment and that moment will be now and that will be when I am president of the United States.
If you think of this idea of large companies, we go straight to technology. One of the things you do is a bit like the idea that you are in the middle, you are in the middle of the country, you have more, some people think that it is too compromised. There is a lot of attraction to the left in the Democratic party. Talk a bit about that subject because I think it is difficult to resist what is happening within the Democratic Party itself.
What I see as a true election model, and that was 2018, then yes, there are differences in our party, I think that is healthy, that we are not all in step. And we are certainly at a time in time when we need new ideas in our party. So you can have new ideas from the left, from the middle, from the right. But you have to be open to new ideas. And that is how you always reach a compromise and how you get things done. If you just close new ideas, you will never find another place in our politics.
So in 2018 I saw that people supported candidates. Yes, there were some well-known primaries, but in the end the people united behind the candidates and we elected people like Laura Kelly in Kansas, a democratic governor who defeated Kris Kobach that people thought was impossible. In my neighboring state of Wisconsin, we have elected a new governor who defeated Scott Walker, and that has happened, and we have also selected some exciting new liberal candidates for Congress across the country. So we have people from different perspectives. Most importantly, we realized that there was a cause greater than ourselves, regardless of our individual differences, and that new people are coming who can now be that control and balance in the Trump administration.
So when you have a campaign and the Trump campaign will be some kind of scorched earth, it looks like this …
Yes, I know that, shocking. How do you challenge that? As a compromise candidate: "I will be reasonable." You tried to do that during the Kavanaugh interrogations, you stopped … when he yelled at you about beer.
I kept my head cool. I wouldn't go down with him in that swamp, no.
Right. Maybe you have to descend into that swamp, even though you are there …
You have to choose your moments. And I would say one of the things we learned in 2016 – and Hillary Clinton would have been a great president, she had great ideas, she had a great policy platform – but no one had previously encountered anyone like Trump, so this one is over the whole line, not just her campaign, everyone did not know what to do. And it seemed to me that as a result of the sinking of every rabbit hole, we have lost our optimistic economic agenda for America that we have regained. We had business to do in 2018 that was really important. Do not kick people off their health insurance for pre-existing conditions. This is part of staying the things that are important to you and making sure he doesn't mess with you.
The second is that you choose your fight with him, right? You don't follow every tweet he does. When he called me the Snow Woman, I thought, "Well, this is not bad," so let it sit for a while, and then I finally said … something I will actually do is use humor. I finally said, "You know what, I'd like to see how your hair would look beautiful in a snow storm," Mr. Umbrella Man. So I think you should …
Is that your nickname for him, Mr. Umbrella Man?
No, I just made it up, no, it's not real, it's not like a moment of a focused group.
I have a few others.
I think you have to choose your moments, you have to use humor, and you have to have a different approach to him than we had before. But when he says things that are racist, when he says things that are anti-immigrants, that are meant to cause hatred, yes, you call him on it, but you never lose your goal, namely bringing this country together.
So by doing that, because many people do the trough for him and they are attracted by his agenda. I think it is quite correct that you …
Oh, he wants to get every news cycle if you've got something rolling, like you've decided to announce in the middle of a permanent snow globe, then he wants to get in there. So you have to decide how to handle it at that moment.
What did you learn? You talked about the kind of going down every rabbit hole in the Clinton campaign, what did you learn from that when you studied it?
Well, I learned I was in a Midwestern heartland state, I found out there were people – and Hillary was strong on the farm bill and things like that – but I learned that there were people who didn't hear that. That they felt excluded. That they felt our party, not just her, did not speak for them. And that is why I have always had this mantra, that you go where it is not only comfortable, you go where it is uncomfortable. You meet people where they are and you listen to them and you don't always agree with them, you stand still, but you have to hear them.
So in that kind of middle position, what I think, you would call yourself …
By the way, can I use one example? Like guns, okay. I come from the background of a public prosecutor, I always thought you should have sensible weapon safety legislation. I know we're in Texas right now, which is not so different from Minnesota when it comes to hunting. So I look at every proposal that lies ahead – and I have an NRA F rating, let me make this clear. I look at every proposal before me and I say, "Did this hurt my uncle Dick in the deer skin, okay?" And when I met your son with his Cabela's shirt that told me he had shot a pig, that was cool, I started talking to him about that, because I'm watching that.
And then I point out that the vast majority of Americans and even many, many owners of weapons think that we can have universal background controls, right? So you have to make the argument that does not dispel all hunting, a matter of quality of life for my people in my state, but makes the safety argument. Because I was across the street from Donald Trump and literally took to the track nine times during that firearm meeting we had, I was there because I was leading the gun safety law. The school safety legislation with Senator Hatch and also had a bill for domestic violence. Nine times he said he wanted universal background checks. And the next day he met the gun lobby and never got it done.
That is wrong.
Right. Okay. So one of the ideas is getting into the centrists. While Biden is in the photo and I hear Sherrod Brown coming, how are you, he's more of those kind of candidates, like you're more of a centrist. How can you make it, you know, the 412 people running for the Democratic party?
I'm sorry, Kara, that's a little exaggerated.
There are some great candidates, no, really. And I always jokingly say, may the best woman win. But no litmus test, many of them would be good. But I think the competition is good. Barack Obama has told people this, perhaps not in public, but I have heard that he has told many people …
Did you meet someone who agreed with him?
Yes I did.
He was really in a good mood.
He is really happy and …
… well why not?
he was very happy with Michelle & # 39; s book tour and how well she is doing and how she fills stadiums and that this is her moment. And it was just great to hear him talk about it.
But I think he has always said that competition is good. And I believe you need an idea competition, especially now that we have become so upset by not anticipating the challenges ahead, and also that you want to hear different voices, and from different people in the world. country, and I am proud to be a core country candidate; I think you want to hear it from the Midwest.
Okay, in that case, the idea that, why would you be this, this is a question I got from Twitter, why would we choose a candidate who says, no, that's not possible, to do whatever progressives want?
Because I am honest and I think you want honesty. And you can have legitimate differences about how you get places. You know, I want to achieve universal healthcare, and I want to do it with a public option; I think you could do that immediately, Barack Obama wanted to do that with the Affordable Care Act, by expanding Medicaid or expanding Medicare.
I think we need to deal with climate change quickly, and that is really the challenge of our time. When you look at the rising sea level, when you watch that video of that father driving his young daughter and singing songs through that babbling forest fire in northern California, and you think of people watching that and realize that this is me could happen. These are things that are now going on everywhere in our country. And that is why, as President, I would again participate in the International Climate Change Agreement on the first day, reduce the Clean Power rules, reduce gas mileage standards, introduce legislation to finally do something about building codes. This is the challenge of our time.
Okay, that's the reversal of what they reversed. What about the Green New Deal from Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez? She is now looking for tacos, apparently according to the internets. How do you look at that? Because that is free …
Yes, I am a co-sponsor of that, it is a resolution, and I enjoyed coming up with it, not because I thought we could get everything done in 10 years, but because I thought it was this energy now used to let's stop admiring this problem and do something about it, right? That is what that is.
And I'm looking forward to seeing Mitch McConnell try to use that against America, because America believes in science, and they know we should go on with this, they know it won't be for everyone, that we will have to use renewable energy, and maybe solar works in some places, and wind works in other places, and hydro works in some places, and we need to do more with energy efficiency and electric cars and other things. But they know we have to do something.
The debate about whether it happens is over, the debate about how we approach it and how quickly we respond and whether we will be alone with the rest of the world or whether we are with the rest of the world is happening now.
But that is exactly what they do, they personally attack Ocasio-Cortez, which they do a lot; she has become their favorite. It doesn't work particularly well, but …
No, not very well. She is good at responding.
Yes, but now they do that around the billionaire, around taxation, around the Green New Deal, around a lot of these issues.
Yes, that's what they do, but my point is that America is on our side. And we have to unite, just like in 2018. There will be some differences in the policy and how you get there. But we cannot just deny the young people who want to do something about this; I know because I have one of them, my daughter, she is 20.
Okay. So I want to finish the presidency. What is the topic …
Yes, let's just finish it …
Yes, no, president. No, I am going to tech, I want to talk about tech.
Yes, we have to. That is why we are here, yes.
What is the topic that you want to avoid on the campaign path, apart from hair care issues?
Oh, get out of here. Let's see, I want to prevent constant attacks on which label, where are you, how are you different? And I want us to do it in a very good way, and maybe this is a Pollyanna, just able to discuss policy differences. I look forward to those debates.
And every day the things that differentiate people, or something that they have said about each other, I think it will be one of the dangers that we will face. Because you are asked every day: "Well, what do you think of this person's policy?" And then you say, "Well, I agree with this part, but not that part." Or, "I agree," and then it can explode into, "Oh, they hate each other."
You know, I just hope that we as a nation can get beyond that. There were times in our country, we called antitrust, where we had big debates about big problems, and that's what we need to do now, and I trust my colleagues who are in the office and who we can do so good.
Okay, so the reasonableness is what you're looking for?
Reasonability in the way we treat each other, because we have one goal and that is to win the White House.
Let's go to tech. You submitted a bill last year on the privacy of social media, you did the law on fair advertising, everything. Three days ago you were talking about rediscovering the investigation, the FTC investigation into Google & # 39; s dominance in the search. Not many people have heard that, that's right, I heard it when you said it, but then Elizabeth Warren came up with this amazing proposal and I think most people in the tech are kind of vomiting in their Allbirds.
That is really attractive!
Yes, I know it isn't. They ask someone to tidy them up, so it went really far, something like that. First talk about Elizabeth Warren's proposal and then talk a little bit about your problems with Big Tech.
Well, you know, there is merit in it – and I want to look at the whole proposal – in the fact that she's talking about it, you have to look at the anti-competitive aspects of this. We all know that. And the way I approached it is this way. Number 1, privacy. These companies have been saying for a long time: "We have your back." Well, that's just not right.
And they have somehow equated a free and open internet that we all support, net neutrality, this idea that you should be able to, everyone should have access to it, that's true, but that doesn't mean we just say, "Okay, so just take all my data and I trust you. I'm a merchandise for you; you make money from me." So the first thing we do is privacy legislation; I have a double bill to do that with notification of violation and things like that.
The second thing is to look at the consumer pieces of this, in terms of how much they make of us, actually. Because the problem is that we thought we could just put our things there and that it was fine. But they earn money from us. So a big idea that I think we should discuss, in addition to privacy and making sure the election ads are there, is watching, and that's why I'm asking this here because I want to receive your feedback later, maybe there is a way to tax to charge if they use data, if they use us and we are their merchandise, and we get none of it, right? Maybe we can tax them, so the money goes back to us when they exchange that data. Right?
If they sell our data to someone else, they may have to let us know so that we can put some sort of tax on it, just like with other companies. If you go with a truck, if you send things on the track, you have to pay for the roads and you have to pay for the railroad. Perhaps we can do that on a large scale with large amounts of data. When they use it or when they sell it. That is an idea that I want to present there today.
Otherwise we are just used, right? And this is not about burdening ourselves, it is about doing this in a way that would not limit innovation, maybe you would do it with larger platforms, not startups, maybe there is a way. But we should look at something like that, because these days when we think they can just make money from us, and we can't get anything out of it, I don't think that's right.
And then the last thing I would add, of which you know, is just antitrust laws, which go far beyond tech. And those are my ideas for funding the agencies, and this would have a number of things that Elizabeth tries to make ends meet in, to give them the means; by paying a fee for the mega deals. This is not for the consumer, this is for the big companies that are merging, sometimes billions, trillion dollar companies. Zodat ze meer moeten betalen, zodat dat dan wordt gebruikt om FTC, Justice Department, te financieren, zodat ze meer op een gelijk speelveld kunnen zijn, en net zo geavanceerd als de magnaten die deze deals maken.
Dat zal hen in staat stellen om de … dank u, één persoon, te doen. Dat zal hen in staat stellen om het onderzoek te doen, zodat ze beter kunnen kijken naar wat er aan de hand is, zodat je kunt kijken naar wat er gebeurde toen ze de AT & T-breuk deden, toch? Dat was een groot ding, maar de kosten gingen omlaag voor de lange afstand. We proberen dat te repliceren in een veel ingewikkelder, geavanceerder scenario.
En het laatste zou zijn om de standaard te veranderen. Dus van de grote deals, dat ze de last hebben om te laten zien, hebben de bedrijven de last om te tonen in een fusie dat ze niet wezenlijk verminderen, ik zou de standaard veranderen, de concurrentie materieel verminderen.
Want anders heb je, weet je, Google Maps koopt Waze en ik denk niet dat de meeste consumenten dat weten, toch? Nou, ze hebben Waze gekocht. Dus we houden allemaal van Waze, super cool, toch? Welnu, nu bezitten zij het. Okee? En je hebt deze dingen aan de hand, online reizen, als je naar al die sites gaat om een deal te krijgen, is 93 procent van hen eigendom van twee bedrijven. Ze hebben verschillende namen, maar ze zijn allemaal eigendom van dezelfde bedrijven. Dit is wat Teddy Roosevelt in het Witte Huis bracht, toch? Hij liep door met het verbreken van de trusts en zorgde ervoor dat hij een kapitalistisch systeem bewaarde. Woodrow Wilson had eigenlijk een antitrustcampagnelied.
Kun je het zingen?
Niemand lachte, zo verdrietig. Maar eigenlijk is het waar, omdat mensen dit zagen als een manier om concurrentie te garanderen, prijzen te verlagen en innovatie te vergroten.
Okee. Dus antitrust, het idee om eerst antitrust te veranderen, laten we het hebben over specifieke bedrijven. Moet Facebook of Google worden opgebroken? En hoe?
If they are at a point where you have, there’s competition …
I’m asking u, are they?
I would want to have it investigated; that is how I do things, okay? I don’t just come in and say …
Well, there’s been a lot of, there was investigations.
No, no, no. I would think that you go in there, and we have just not had adequate investigation, which is why I called for that from the FTC; you go in there, and you figure out what are the anti-competitive, the major anti-competitive problems, and then you come up with a plan to break up or to move something out. If there’s a piece of it that is anti-competitive.
The other way you could do it, especially under the bill that I just introduced, you can strengthen, and I’m going to introduce a third one, you can strengthen the review going backwards after a merger has occurred. And one of the things I’m worried about with the potential that you’re gonna integrate Facebook and Instagram and WhatsApp, is that then it’s gonna be impossible to untangle it.
That’s why they did it.
To use the antitrust laws to do it. So that’s another argument for …
You realize, that’s why they did it. That’s one of the reasons.
Precies. So that is why I think you have to have adequately funded government agencies with a president in charge who just doesn’t use antitrust as a weapon, right? “Oh, I don’t like CNN, so let me get involved.” Really bad. Instead, you see it as one of the governing principles for ensuring that we have a capitalist system. And that is, we don’t have all this monopoly consolidation that’s squeezing out new competitors and new market entrants.
All right, so antitrust regulation; it also has to change the idea of antitrust, correct? The house subcommittee just hired Lina Khan, who has some new ideas about antitrust; you were a lawyer. How does that … because competitive harm is hard to prove here, everybody houdt Amazon, they deliver on time, and they’re never wrong, like that kind of, like everybody likes it.
Oh, you’re saying this to the home state of Target?
I understand that.
Which, by the way, went up last year because they started some innovative things, like you can go and pick your stuff up right in the parking lot, to give a little …
Yeah, but they, look, they missed a lot of turns; a lot of retailers missed a lot of these turns, but here you have the idea of consumer harm.
By the way, you want competition, right? You want this innovation that Amazon brought into the market. You just don’t want them controlling everything under them, that’s a monopsony. Whole Foods is another example of that. You want to have the ability of a government that’s a countermeasure to go in and investigate and figure out, hey, is this one so bad for competition, and shutting things out like we did in the long distance market, like they did back over a century ago with …
Rail and all kinds of industries, and the Pullman strike in Chicago. You want to be able to have pushback so that you guarantee that you’re not stifling the innovation, but innovation is there. That is always how we have worked in America.
And sadly, because of conservative courts, that have gone so conservative, including the two new nominees, Kavanaugh and Gorsuch, that are even more conservative on antitrust than who we’ve got there, you’ve got to do something legislatively and through the agencies to change this.
How likely do you think that is to happen? The idea of it. Because Republicans have their beefs with tech too, it’s largely around whether …
Right. And so by the way, that creates some likeliness, right? That creates likeliness that you can move on antitrust; a number of my colleagues on the Republican side have talked to me about that idea of increasing the fees on the mega mergers, that’s not on the taxpayers’ backs, drop in the bucket for them, so you can beef up the agencies, so they can better do these investigations. That’s something they are open to, we just have to set it at the right price. So I would say that first.
I think the public is gonna get more and more aware of this issue because of the presidential debates and what’s happening. I’m coming out with a book on this, actually, on antitrust. I’ve been looking at this for the last two years, and I think that you’re gonna be able to have a better discussion of this, framed in a way around things like pharmaceutical prices, data privacy, that’s gonna make it more bite-sized and more doable for an election.
All right. Privacy bill. Should be the lowest rung to jump over. Why, there’s a privacy bill in California that’s coming into force, which some people say doesn’t have enough teeth, there’s one in Europe that has a lot of teeth. I’m interviewing Margrethe Vestager tomorrow, who runs the competition bureau at the EU, you have that happening over there. You’ve got California, there’s different state things. But the federal government has not passed a privacy bill ever.
No, it’s pathetic; we had a hearing on this, and some of the witnesses were saying, “Oh, we hate this patchwork that’s coming up through the states. We hate the industry. We hate the California law.” And I finally said, “You know what? Why do you think the states are doing that? Because you have lobbied against any federal privacy legislation for years.”
And so now the time has come. Senator Kennedy and I have a bill, Kennedy of Louisiana, Republican, that would allow for 72-hour notice of breach, something that Zuckerberg said he was open to when he came before Congress, that would make clear that you have to, that you can opt out of this data sharing, and then also make very clear that it has to be in plain language. So those things would go a long way; there’s other things we can do, but we cannot keep going without privacy legislation.
But what has been the gatekeeper to having this happen?
Well, it has been lobbying, and making this … people are scared that it’s gonna look like they’re regulating the internet, and I think we have, you know, we blew past that when Russia was paying in rubles for ads in our last election. That’s over. We have got to look at …
And one more pitch of the bill that I want to pass the most immediately is the Honest Ads Act. We have 12 Republicans on it now in the House, and it simply says, when you spend a bunch of money on internet ads, like everyone’s doing right now, $1.4 billion in 2016, forecast to go to $3 billion to $4 billion in the next election? You have to have the same rules in place that the other media companies have. Newspaper, radio, TV, they have disclaimers for issue ads and candidate ads that says who pays for them, and then you have to disclose them so the other candidates and the press can see what you’re running.
One of the funniest arguments that companies used on me, they go, “Well, it’s too hard for us to do that,” to figure out what a federal issue ad is, that’s what the standard is. And I said, “Really? Okay, so my radio station in Thief River Falls, Minnesota, can figure that out, I think that you guys can.”
So what has happened since then is that Facebook and Twitter are both now supporting the bill. As you know in the last election, which was helpful, they undertook voluntary measures to put up their own archives, which was very, very helpful. But we need to have the law in place, so that everyone’s doing the same thing and we do not put ourselves at risk of foreign governments again buying ads in our elections.
Do you trust these tech companies?
No, no, I don’t; I mean, I like that they are incredibly successful for America. I like that they employ so many people. I like that they brought in new ideas and new innovations, but I don’t like that they’ve been saying “trust us” for so long, and we did it.
I think we have to have, as we’ve always had in this country, we have not always just embraced business and let them run the show. We have said, we love business; we want to have them employ people, this is part of why we’re great as America, but we always have a check and balance. The biggest goal of government in my life, and I said this when I was a newly minted county attorney, was protecting people’s safety. Well, right now, they did not protect our safety. Not the safety or our privacy, not the safety of our national security.
And I would also add, our government has to learn a little bit of the Austin way here, okay? We have to upgrade our cybersecurity, right? And one of the things that I put in with Senator Thune of South Dakota, I always work hard to make sure we got bipartisan support on big things like this, the idea is you give people a tour of duty, two years in Washington, from the private sector. And our people then can take a tour of duty with the companies. And it is a way of bringing some high-tech expertise into the government.
We’re not like China and Russia, we can’t requisition people and say, “You’re gonna work in a warehouse for five years.” Okay, we can’t do that because it’s America. But what we can do is create incentives to get the best of the best into our government, and the best of our best in our government to learn in the private sector.
So that’s been a difficult thing; that still remains very difficult, because they make more money working in other places.
Yeah, I know, but we found a way to do this in this bill.
All right, so when we’re talking about the idea of China, one of the things, I did a recent podcast with Mark Zuckerberg, and one of his arguments of why we should continue to trust them is that the choice is what’s going on in China, which is essentially a surveillance economy. They’re doing all kinds of things like facial recognition, social scoring, all kinds of things where you can see it going in any country, it’s like an episode of Black Mirror. And one of the things, when I talk to tech people, is I said, “Imagine your creation is an episode of Black Mirror. Then don’t do it.” If it becomes that, like imagine what could happen. Which I think is excellent advice.
But one of his arguments was, well, China gets to do all these things, and they’re gonna collect more data, have better AI, have better robotics. The government’s running it. And his argument was essentially, “it’s Xi or me.” And I don’t like the choice at all. I don’t like either of them.
You know, I like him better than Xi, but it’s kind of a low bar. So when they do make that argument, though, in that argument there’s a very cogent thing, is that tech has been innovative, has created jobs. How do you keep innovation, and at the same time throttle some of this behavior, which is careless at best and malevolent at worst?
Right. And you’re always going to get those arguments that you are gonna, you know, stop everything from innovation. That’s why I like the idea of doing it through FTC antitrust, moving it and putting some very basic privacy rules in place that will save us from where we are right now. But this idea that we’re just gonna do nothing, which they were saying as recently as a year ago, right?
They’re saying it today, but…
Pre Cambridge Analytica, they’re saying it in different ways. It’s just not right. This is not how our country has been run. I go back to even the colonists in the Boston Tea Party, that was about taxation without representation, but it was about that the colonists didn’t want to have to buy tea and sell their tea to the East India Tea Company, to one monopoly, right?
It literally is part of the founding of our country that we wanted to have entrepreneurs. Many of the Pilgrims and others came over here because they didn’t want to have people telling them what they had to do. They had this independent spirit of innovation. That is what we have to call back when we deal with tech in the modern day, that we have to suspend belief and say, “Okay, you guys are really cool and I know what you do is super complicated,” and there’s a bunch of people in Washington that can ask dumb questions and don’t understand what it is.
Okay, we understand all that’s going on, but you can’t then say, “Well, let’s disarm and we’re not going to do anything to create a counterbalance.” Small companies, I cannot tell you the number of innovative companies that come to me and say, “This isn’t right. We want to get into this market.” There’s actually a market outcry and there’s some really smart people that can help us get to the point, including in this town, where we can regain that balance, so we can have these successful companies, but we make sure that we’re opening up the market so that new people can compete.
I have two more questions on tech. One, should Facebook, Google, Amazon, be allowed to buy anything large at all right now?
That is where I get very concerned and why I want to put these merger standards in place and why I want to be president because I think we got to look carefully at all of these deals. If you look at them through an analysis that includes the standards that I want to put in place, which will at least look monopsonies, which is, do you control things under you, as one of the standards and also changes that burden, then you’re going to be able to get a much better answer to that question.
And section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which gives them broad immunity, which has I think led directly to this sloppiness in the platforms in terms of not managing them properly. Should that be changed so that they have some, they remove immunity?
Right. It is something else that we should definitely look at as we look at how we can create more accountability. That is our goal. We do not want to destroy these companies, right? But what we want to do is to put more accountability in place and we have been failing at that effort, and that’s why we need all of your help to get to a better place.
Does tech like you? Do you get …?
Well, they did not like that, which I thought was so crazy, they did not right out of this part, they complained about the Honest Ads Act. How can you complain about something called the Honest Ads Act? But they did not like that and that really made me mad, honestly. They did not like the privacy legislation I keep trying to push them. I think the fact that I’ve been outspoken makes them not like me.
However, and by the way, if you haven’t learned in the news, running for president shouldn’t be a likeability contest. But let me tell you what the other thing they did like and that is that they employ a very diverse workforce. They like that I’ve been out front since the day I got to the Senate on immigration reform, that I believe that Dreamers should stay in America, that I believe that you should have a path to citizenship for our immigrant workforce and that you should not put these mean-spirited caps on refugees because they have a workforce that is diverse.
They have also …
I’m going to push back on that. They do not have a workforce that is diverse.
Okay, now then we get to, they don’t have a workforce at the top that is diverse. That is a very good point. Thank you. They have a workforce that they need to come in that is diverse. And they recruit people at levels of their company that is diverse. Thank you for correcting me, but they have a real trouble at the top as we do in many areas of our country. What they want is they want to have employees. They have, I think Apple was telling me they have 300 Dreamers that work there, so that is a true fact. I’m not just talking about social media platforms.
They have employees that they want to be able to have and keep, so they’ve appreciated that I’ve been outspoken on that issue. They’ve appreciated that I’ve been outspoken. I head up the Diversifying Tech Caucus with Tim Scott. They’ve appreciated that I’m willing to listen on business ideas and trying to do what we can during the downturn. I was a supporter of President Obama’s stimulus. I was a supporter of being smart and moving on affordable health care.
Businesses, not just tech, appreciate that I’m willing to take on farmer prices, that is not a left versus right issue. All businesses care about that because it’s an expense of doing business that shouldn’t be that expensive. I have worked with businesses extensively, but I don’t think that means that you have to suck up to them every step of the way.
Ja. They do have a lot of money and you are running for president in case you … You know, you need a lot of money to do that.
But I’m not taking corporate PAC money.
All right. That’s just in the news stuff. We’ll finish up, we have 15 more minutes. Manafort handed a 47-month sentence, well below federal guidelines of 19 to 24 years. Your reaction?
That was appalling to me. I had a job where I was the chief prosecutor for the biggest county in our state. I had about 400 people that worked for me. We would try every day … We had sentencing guidelines. Minnesota notoriously and I remember looking at what Austin was doing in Travis County at the time, also was doing a lot with working with the communities. This is years and years ago.
We worked really hard to use drug courts a lot and to try to be fair in our sentencing. We were not perfect. I tried to do things to improve things, but one of the things that I realized was that we weren’t doing enough with white-collar cases and that crimes in the boardroom were not being treated as seriously as crimes on the street corner, that you could go out and create a crime with the computer that cost people millions of dollars and you got a lesser sentence than you did if you broke into someone’s house with a crowbar. And that’s wrong.
When I saw that Manafort sentence that day, I did my tweet on the couch and I was watching. I just thought, “Wow,” because he deviated from those sentences and then sentencing guidelines and then added to putting salt on the wound by saying, the judge said about Manafort, “He led a blameless life until then,” and that just wasn’t true.
Let me just, my reaction to this. When we took on white-collar crime, I get to one story here, one of my big cases was a judge that we put in jail. He had stolen hundreds of thousands of dollars from a disabled woman, a woman that literally in her adult years lived in a world of dolls and toys and he had taken over this, basically, a trust for her from his client who had died and then he became a judge and they let him keep doing it.
What he was doing was putting on the trust document that he was buying things like a bed for her and he was buying fancy artwork for his house. He was a judge on the second-biggest court in Minnesota. And when we took the case on, literally no one believed it. We did all this investigation, we had to do a search warrant on his chambers. Anyway, we had him cold on the evidence.
And then there was the sentencing. And we asked for the guideline sentence which I think it was three or four years for that crime at the time. I was in the courtroom and it was filled with all his friends from his church, from his courtroom, and there was no one there to make that case for justice. And we had no idea what the judge was going to do.
All of a sudden, in the middle of this day-long sentencing hearing where literally, the former Miss America testified for him, true story. In the middle of this thing, these two African-American guys walked in — and they were the only two African Americans in the courtroom besides the court reporter — and I saw them sitting there and they were kind of nodding their head agreeing with our witnesses. Then there was a break and they walked out.
I was sitting in the hallway and they looked at me, and they go, like, “Oh, you know, we were upstairs for a drug court case that we had and we heard about the judge getting sentenced because it makes us mad and we came in here and we have somewhere to go, but man, sitting in there, we think you need us in there.”
And I’m like, “I do need you in there.” They sat there through that entire sentencing hearing. And for me, they were there to say, “You can’t have two systems of justice, one for the rich and powerful and one for everyone else.”
In the end, we got the sentence that we asked for and that judge went to jail, but I’ll never forget those two guys because when I heard that Manafort sentence — and by the way, it’s not over. There’s going to be a new judge in the coming weeks on other charges and it may all be taken care of that way, but you just can’t treat people differently, not just based on race, but also based on the types of crimes that they commit. That’s wrong.
Right. All right. Mueller Report, should it be released?
Ja. Remember at the core of this is a foreign country trying to influence our election. And when people use that word “meddling,” never use that. That is what I do when I call my daughter on a Saturday night and ask her what she’s doing. This was an actual attack on our elections. That’s what Mueller is investigating. I think the country has to see this.
I’m hoping that when you see all the gory facts, it’s going to help us to want to understand what went on, that’s most important. But too, maybe it’ll compel my colleagues to immediately put in place that Honest Ads Act and do more than Senator Lankford and I already did, which was get 360 million to the states for shoring up election equipment, but actually pass our Secure Elections Act to have backup paper ballots. What is so outrageous about that, right? That’s why they have to see the report. I questioned Barr on that. He was all squiggly, you know, well …
Squiggly, yeah. You don’t want to call the Attorney General manic, but he wouldn’t really commit to making it public. This was going to be his moment. I hope I’m wrong. I didn’t vote for him because of that but I hope that he comes through. I hope that he makes that whole report public because America deserves to see it.
All right. Putin, just go ahead.
Putin, just go ahead.
It’s just like a lightning rod, what about Putin?
Okay, well, you look at what he’s done. It’s not just the elections, right? This is bringing down a plane. This is like killing innocent people. This is a dictator. When Donald Trump went and sat next to him and embraced his views of what happened over his own intelligence, that was so wrong. You don’t show strength that way. You show weakness.
That is why I continue to support NATO. It’s why I went with Senator McCain on one of the last trips before he got sick where we stood with the president of Ukraine on the front line on New Year’s Eve to make the point that America stands with our allies and that’s why we went to Lithuania and Latvia and Georgia and Estonia, don’t forget Estonia, because we wanted to make that point.
I think we are at the moment where Congress actually — because of how Donald Trump is cozying up to Kim Jong Un or the crown prince in Saudi Arabia after they murder a journalist for an American newspaper — we are at a point where Congress must stand up and make clear that we stand with our allies for democracy. We stand against these acts of dictators and these murders and that we stand with sanctions, that we are a country that has always been a beacon of democracy.
And one last thing I will add, since I brought up Saudi Arabia and the Khashoggi murder, is that we stand up for the First Amendment while we have a president in the White House that tweets whatever he wants in the morning but doesn’t respect the amendment that allows him to do it.
On that, we have two more things, his attacks on the press. I don’t love talking about the press, but these attacks are really quite an astonishing thing to happen from the president of the United States. How do you look at it?
I still didn’t hear it because the claps …
The attacks on the press. What do you …
The attacks on the press, yes.
And at the same time calling them all up himself.
Right. As I said, I’m a journalist’s daughter. My dad spent his entire life in journalism, starting with the AP where he got to actually call the 1960 election for John F. Kennedy. Minnesota, Illinois, and California were the three states out. He went from a hardscrabble mining town to interview everyone from Chicago Bears Coach Mike Ditka to Ronald Reagan to Ginger Rogers.
If I wasn’t for the First Amendment, my dad would never talk to me again. No matter what the press does, as long as they are doing their constitutional duty, I think it’s very important that you not attack the press. You can disagree with them. You can defend yourself. You can make arguments on the other side, but we must allow access in a free democracy.
To me, that is one of the most evil things that’s going on right now because it doesn’t feel like it, because the press is so strong and because you don’t always agree with every story they wrote. But because of that, you don’t then turn around and start trying to use the wheels of government, like it appears the president did from the news reports last week in going after CNN. You can’t use your power to go after the press. That’s why I’ve always asked every attorney general nominee about not sending journalists to jail, neither former attorney general Sessions or Barr would really answer that question and I’m now following up in writing, which I found disturbing, but we must stand up for the First Amendment.
All right. Impeachment.
Oke. This is like the Kara lightning round.
Okay, so, and I think you’re going to hear this from other senators that may have braced this stage. We are in a different position in the Senate. We are the jury, and so I never comment on evidence. I didn’t as a prosecutor before the case came before me. We will see what comes out of the Mueller Report. We will see what comes out of the House, and then it’s our constitutional duty to look at evidence and make a decision. I never weigh in on what is impeachable or what should be impeachable, just because that is our profound constitutional duty.
All right, that’s fair. Representative Omar. “I want to talk about political influence in this country that says it’s okay to push for allegiance to a foreign country.” To be fair, what did you think of that? She’s from Minnesota.
I did not agree with what the Representative said there because I believe you can be true to your country and advocate for another country, whether it is Israel or Canada or Ethiopia. There are many Americans that feel strongly that they love their own country, but they advocate for maybe it’s the country of their own ancestry or maybe it is another country that they care a lot about.
I didn’t like what she said there. But what I do believe is that the president has ignited in his own way a string of things against other people. It is everything from we see anti-Semitism on the rise to anti-Muslim rhetoric on the rise. I try to go back home and look at how we’ve handled some of this. We have the biggest Somali population in the country. In fact, Ilhan Omar is a refugee herself and she is in a unique position to advocate for refugees from Somalia and I hope you’ll see this and the fact that the president has put what I consider to be unfair caps on refugees to talk about those issues.
One of the things … My favorite story is about our state, because we have a strong Jewish population and we also have a major Muslim population. One of my best stories was when the Jewish Community Center got a bomb threat and not just the staff there, but the young kids that had been in the swimming pool, senior citizens in an exercise class were wandering around outside of that community center in the cold because they had to immediately leave and they finally found some warehouse to be in.
When they got back, the first call they had gotten in their messages was from the Islamic Center asking if they needed a place to meet. We have Happy Ramadan signs in front of all of our churches, not all of them, but a big part of our churches in our religious community. During the Super Bowl, we staged a football game between faith leaders with one of our more prominent rabbis, a woman, throwing a pass to an imam.
We have tried, it went viral, over and over again to try to bridge that gap. What I don’t like is when rhetoric, no matter who it comes from but who I see it primarily coming from is the president, doesn’t try to fix things but tries to make things worse. Our goal should be to see the populations in our country as not diminishing America. They are America.
My last question, who do you, if you had to pick a politician you would be most like, who do you think it is, in the past?
Wow. It is hard for me to pick one politician, but my mentor has been and I wouldn’t say I’d want to be quite like him, is Walter Mondale. He’s a really good guy, but in the modern day, I’m trying to think who it would be. I don’t know.
You can do a dead one.
There are so many. I really don’t have one person.
Who’s the person you look up to?
I have always looked up to some of the women that came before me that were incredible that were mentors to me like Olympia Snowe and Barbara Mikulski, the dean of the women senators who were so strong and taught me so many things. Like Barbara Mikulski would, she was so short she would stand on …
Don’t insult short people.
Ja. She would stand on a couch and she would literally say, “Square your shoulder, put your lipstick on, and get ready for a revolution!”
I’d be like, “What revolution?”
”Whatever we’re going to go vote on!”
They were incredible. But I do want to mention one person. And by the way, when you look at, as David Brooks said, “You don’t know what you got till it’s gone.” One great president was Barack Obama, but let’s keep going.
I did want to mention one president I got to meet recently was Jimmy Carter. I’ve met him a few times. And I got to go to Plains to see him. He is 95 years old and he was giving me advice on how he ran his campaign in the ’70s. It was just incredible serving me — with Rosalynn — pimento cheese sandwiches. He then sent me an email the next day at 95, signed J.C., also the initials for Jesus Christ as you know …
I got that.
That was an amazing thing. I think I told you back in the green room, I had visited when I did the Atlanta, the Democratic Dinner for Georgia, I told Jimmy Carter this, the Carter Presidential Library, looking for Mondale memorabilia a few years ago, like where is Joan’s dress?
And on the wall were these words from Walter Mondale, looking back at the four years which weren’t perfect, and as you know, they lost every election, but there was one thing that is important to cherish from that time. Mondale looked back at that time and he said these simple words, I wrote them down, put in my purse, didn’t think they were relevant until Donald Trump won.
Those words were, “We told the truth. We obeyed the law. We kept the peace.” I think that is the minimum that you should expect from a president of the United States. And that is that they try to keep the peace and they tell the truth and they obey the law and that is what I will do as your president.
All right. Thank you. Amy Klobuchar.