VIDEO - Sen. Chris Coons on Face the Nation
Sen. Chris Coons, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations and Judiciary Committees, joined CBS Face the Nation to discuss Trump’s negotiations with the Taliban and gun violence.
Why do you have a problem with the Trump Administration trying to negotiate with the Taliban?
Coons: I don’t have a problem with the Trump administration trying to resolve our very long conflict in Afghanistan through direct negotiations with the Taliban. And I agree that we should not fully withdraw from Afghanistan until we’ve got conditions on the ground that will prevent it from becoming once again a haven for terrorists who might attack us, as happened on 9/11.
But I disagree with how our president goes about his negotiations around the world. He seems to think that he and he alone individually can negotiate with Kim Jong Un in North Korea, with Xi Jinping in China, or in this case with the Taliban. We don’t even have an ambassador in Pakistan or in Jordan. I’m concerned that our president isn’t listening to his generals, to his diplomats, to the intelligence community.
Frankly, that’s largely why Gen. Mattis, for whom I have huge respect, resigned in protest – was our president’s tendency to make abrupt decisions without knowing the context or the region, and without relying on the advice of the skilled diplomats and generals we have.
Do you think Congress needs to put some kind of backstop in place to keep the troop number at a certain level in Afghanistan?
Coons: I do think that we need to be engaged in a bipartisan way in making it clear why we value sustained engagement in the world to prevent terrorism from coming to our shores again.
What are you trying to get done on gun safety?
Coons: Well Se. Pat Toomey and I – Pat’s a Republican senator from Pennsylvania. We’ve been working hard on our bipartisan bill, the NICS Denial Notification Act. Tragically in August, we lost 50 more Americans in mass shooting incidents in Dayton and El Paso, in Odessa. The Odessa shooter failed a background check. Our bill would make sure that state law enforcement is promptly notified when someone fails a background check. I’ve been talking with Republicans, with Democrats, with the White House over the August recess. I’m hopeful President Trump will actually lead on this issue next week. Take a position. Stick with it. The American people deserve no less.