Clinton School Dean Interviews Sen. Tom Cotton

Natalie Burgess, Staff Writer

As President Donald Trump’s first one hundred days in office came to a close, the Clinton School of Public Service organized an interview between Dean Skip Rutherford and Sen. Tom Cotton regarding the new President’s actions and the administration behind him. The event was originally set to be held at the Clinton School’s campus, but due to the volume of the audience, was moved to the Robinson Center.

Cotton began by saying that he speaks to Trump more often than he spoke with then President Barack Obama, “about once a week either in person, in Washington, or on the phone.” Cotton said he takes the same approach with both presidents, but he thinks that Trump is “right a lot more [often] than Obama.”

Cotton sits on the Senate’s Select Committee for Intelligence, which is conducting an investigation on the alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

“We’re currently interviewing analysts and experts within the intelligence community,” Cotton said. “ I would imagine we’ll turn to interviewing some members of the administration as well… we will follow the facts wherever they lead us.”

Under the Trump administration, a healthcare plan to replace Obamacare was formed; however, the health care plan’s failure to make it through Congress has not lessened Cotton’s opposition to Obamacare.

“Obamacare is not going to get better,” Cotton said. “The American people are going to demand we do something to fix our broken healthcare system.”

Cotton claims the overarching feature which set Trump apart from other Republican candidates in the previous election was his commitment to immigration reform. Cotton denied that Trump’s proposed travel ban is anti-Muslim since some majority-Muslim countries, such as Indonesia, Pakistan and Nigeria are not included.

Upon Rutherford’s question about the approaching urgency of the next U.S. fiscal budget, Cotton said the budget will “reflect first and foremost the priorities of senators and congressmen as we speak for our voters back home.” Cotton did not give a definite answer as to whether funding for controversial programs such as Planned Parenthood will be defunded.

When asked about foreign policy with both North Korea and Syria, Cotton said he strongly backs Trump’s military action in order to rebuild the U.S.’s credibility to the world and to protect the country’s alliance with South Korea.

“[We have] run out of road to kick the can on,” Cotton said. “As [Secretary of State] Rex Tillerson has said, the era of strategic patience has come to an end.”

Overall, Cotton said he would grade Trump’s first one hundred days with letter grades ranging from “A+” to “B.” He cites the approval of  Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch as Trump’s largest victory over this span of time, but is not over-eager to force any legislation through.

“I’d rather take it slow and get it right,” Cotton said.

Julia Nall