AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) –The Means Report continues to tackle the ever changing headlines facing the CSRA and the country. From the pandemic to protests, the question everyone has is what happens next in this key election year. To tackle those topics, Congressman Doug Collins of Georgia’s 9th District sits down with Brad Means. He talks about the divide in our country, police reform, and the controversies taking place in the state capitol.
Brad Means: Congressman Collins, thank you so much for being here. We appreciate you.
Congressman Doug Collins: Thanks, much. It’s good to be with you, Brad.
Brad Means: Congressman, my first question is really just a general one and I guess we could probably spend the entire show answering it, but just try to give us a feel from your perspective in DC, when is our country gonna start to feel normal again? We really, a lot of viewers saw you in the spotlight during the impeachment hearings, and ever since then it feels like this nation is just upside down. upside down.
Congressman Doug Collins: It is, Brad, and I think it’s really concerning, you know, as a, as a, just as a citizen, but as a father, as, you know, someone who’s still in the military, someone, you know, in, especially being in politics up here on Capitol Hill. Everything seems to be up in the air. Someone once told me that, you know, in life you can only keep so many balls up in the air. You’re juggling life all the time. But when all the balls are up in the air, it’s a state of, of sort of uncertainty that nobody knows which is gonna land first. And what we’ve seen over the last 18 months, and you brought up impeachment, you brought up the investigations. I think that led right into a very disconcerting part of a polarization of America. Then you went right into the virus in which kept everybody at home and that pent up frustration and that pent up anger of, of not being able to get out and not being able to go in. And once we did get out, we had the, the, you know, the, frankly, the murder of Mr. Floyd up in Minneapolis, we had, you know, the, his situation with Mr. Aubrey on the, in Brunswick. And, and now people are very frustrated, and they’re getting out. And unfortunately, some of that civil discourse is that, is, is spilled over into anarchy and to just baseless criminal activity. So, it, it’s, we are at a difficult time, but we can come through this. And I’m a, I’m a firm believer that the cooler heads and common sense can prevail.
Brad Means: What’s the timetable for that stuff to prevail, though. You know, we saw Georgia approve a hate crimes law just this week. The Senate in your neck of the woods tried to, but failed on its try yesterday. When do you think that we’ll start to see some of these measures that lawmakers are taking kick in so that there is more calm?
Congressman Doug Collins: Well, again, I think that those are helpful a lot, and I think we need to get police reform done and there’s things that actually can work, you know, as a son of a Georgia state trooper, and I’ve been around the policing world all of my life, and there are things that need to happen. We need to provide more transparency and accountability for our police department so that the bad bad police officers can be gotten rid of, where they can be moved on and enforced, and reinforce the training of the good officers so that communities can have faith. But I want to go back to something, really what you talked about, when will this end? I think it’s beyond, really, laws. Laws are only as good as the people who actually will look at those laws and say, I will, I will abide by them. What we’re missing right now is, is trust. I pastored for a long time. And in counseling situations, what I told many times when people were having disagreements, couples or others, I would tell them the very thing that you need is the very thing that’s broken. And our country right now needs trust in each other. We need to renew that trust, that we can disagree civilly, that we can still have passionate political arguments, but at the end of the day realize that we’re all still Americans, we’re all still Georgians, and at the end of the day can come together and say, what is the best solution? But right now, with the heightened fears and heightened anxieties, that’s, it’s gonna take us a little time, but I believe with good common sense conversation with having dialogue back and forth, holding each other accountable in those ways, then I think we can move forward.
Brad Means: Congressman Collins, please talk about the situation in Atlanta with the shooting of Rayshard Brooks. The district attorney in Fulton County has charged one of the officers with murder. You do not think that is the right move. What would you say, especially to the folks who’ve seen that video and say, how could it not be? We see the officers shoot the guy, shoot the man, dead.
Congressman Doug Collins: Well, the, the fact, the video is actually the reason why I’m so concerned about this. This is not the killing of Mr. Floyd in Minneapolis. This is not an officer who put his, who has a bound suspect with his knee on his neck for over eight and a half minutes. This is a situation that evolved over a 45 minute time period. And when it became obvious that no arrest was being made, Mr. Brooks fought back, there was a confrontation. Those are the things that need to be investigated. What I have a problem with is Paul Howard is DA, who’s in the middle of a runoff reelection, and he’s going at it from a perspective of having no investigation done, not taking this to a grand jury, and this deciding on his own that we’re gonna make charges before the investigation’s done. You just, we just talked about a moment ago, how do we heal in our country? We’ve gotta have healing on both sides, our, our police officers to protect us and do the thing that they’re supposed to do, should be given the same due process and understanding from the district attorney’s office as anybody else does. And if we don’t have that, if it’s, it’s the prosecutorial actions of a DA in Fulton County become political, then we are losing the rule of law. And that has to come back in. So I’m encouraging him to do the right thing, step aside, in this case, let the attorney general appoint someone or that there’ll be more pressure put on him by state officials and others.
Brad Means: What would you say to folks who are reluctant to go to Atlanta right now? I have some folks here in Augusta who’ve said there’s no way they’d go to the Capitol right now considering the climate. I saw something last night where there was a person standing at the spot where Rayshard Brooks was killed. And he said, the police are not welcome here anymore. Who’s in charge there?
Congressman Doug Collins: That’s a great question. I mean, that’s the question for, for Mayor Bottoms? You know, where is she in this situation? Where’s the police chief? I mean, are we allowing a, a sort of occupations only, if you would. I understand last night there was possibly some movement in that to clear that out and the police were possibly involved in that, and that’s still developing. But again, you know, the mayor won’t handle it, the governor I know could handle it. But this is not an error. we cannot have an autonomous zone anywhere in this country that says simply, we’re gonna take over and go out without a rule of law and have mob rule. And right now I would say, people going to Atlanta, I’ve gone back and forth there. You know, we need to take steps out. But also there is these areas of, of caution that I think the police are going to have to step up and take a responsibility to get it fixed. But it is, again, goes back to that trust issue and people believe that, and when you have a neighborhood that is upset, you have police who are fearful to do their job because they don’t believe they’ll be backed up in any situation. It presents a really troublesome picture.
Brad Means: Yeah, as the son of a trooper, do you think better training is going to be a huge step to fix all of this? If those officers go out and do their jobs with a new mindset, thanks to different training?
Congressman Doug Collins: I think that training never hurts. There’s a, it’s almost like education. Education is the, one of the greatest equalizers we have for anyone going out and learning. And look, most, the thing also we have to understand here is 99 point, I’ll even say 99.9% of all of the officers do it right. We’re always discussing the ones who do it wrong and we’re rightfully so, just like we would do a bad politician, a bad officer, a bad news reporter or anybody else. We always end up having to discuss the, what happens in the exceptions. But the rule is, is that most of these men and women show up everyday and do their job professionally. They do it in very tough situations. And, but there also has to be a key component here. There has to be an understanding of society that the police are there to keep civil order. And the community is to also abide by that civil order in a way that can hopefully crack down on these confrontations. And again, restore a sense of peace in our communities instead of this disruption. I think we’ve experienced six months of extreme disruption, and we’re going to have to come back to that. But I, training is always a good thing, and accountability. One of the things we’ve seen in Washington DC is you have to actually hold accountable, especially in some of the bigger cities where you have rules and bylaws and the unions that keep people from being fired. Bad officers need to be fired. They need to be held criminally liable when they have done criminal acts. But we cannot just simply allow it to be non-transparent where they can go and continue to do what they’ve been doing.
Brad Means: Congressman Doug Collins from Georgia’s ninth congressional district up around Gainesville, his hometown, is our special guest today on The Means Report. When we come back, we’re going continue to talk about the state of our country, including what should happen to people who don’t uphold that civil civility, if you will, that Congressman Collins talked about, people who destroy monuments, who burn our flag. The president says they should go to jail. What does he think? And what happens from here as election day gets closer, on The Means Report.
Brad Means: Welcome back to The Means Report. We appreciate you staying with us as we continue our conversation with Congressman Doug Collins from the ninth congressional district of the great state of Georgia. Congressman Collins, I wanna ask you about something the president mentioned this past week, when it comes to punishments for people who deface monuments, who burn the American flag. He says they should go to jail. What do you think?
Congressman Doug Collins: Well, anyone who destroys public property, that’s, it’s being involved in a criminal act. This is not a part of, of civil disobedience in writing. What we’re, what we’re seeing is a move to the writing phase or the criminal aspect of this. And again, if we’re simply trying to cancel culture, I mean, up here in Washington, DC, we’ve actually tried to see them destroy the Lincoln Emancipation Monument, which was a tribute to the freedom of the slaves and men breaking the bondage of slavery. We’ve seen the monuments across the country of George Washington and others. And then also with other leaders of the Confederacy and others that are being taken down. The question is, is you can’t simply just take down monuments to solve a, a problem that we’re having here, and those need to be punished so that we can actually have civil discourse and dialogue on how we deal with our history and our past so that we can become better.
Brad Means: Do you think that Stone Mountain is going to be there in 10 years, the monument to leaders of the Confederacy?
Congressman Doug Collins: I think it probably will be, but is, as a learning point and a touch stone for a, a nation that was divided by hatred and race and should never, we look forward to the day as we move forward as a peaceful people together and look forward to where at we came in our history and where we are now in a society that I learned as a child in church, they said red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in his sight. Those are the kinds of things and the values that we need to continue, we learn from the past and we move forward to a better.
Brad Means: Amen. You know, I want to ask you just as we sort of put a bow on the part of our conversation about the protests and the unrest, don’t you think, really, in your heart of hearts, that we’re not gonna have any real peace in this country until after the election, no matter who wins? Cause it seems like everyone’s just waiting for that.
Congressman Doug Collins: Yeah, you’ve touched on it perfectly there. That is exactly what’s happening, cause I’ve, I’ve dealt with it for 18 months up here, and really almost coming up on two years, cause it was in November of 18 that the, unfortunately they decided that this was gonna be about the 2020 election in Congress. It was not gonna be about legislating, it was not gonna be about governing. It was gonna be about political statements against this administration. And so we have just dealt with that now, on and off, and, and continually more on than off. So I think November 3rd will be a very deciding day for our country and, and, you know, hopefully we can be able to have that election and move forward as we go forward. I look forward to the President being reelected, reelected and getting back to the business of running the country.
Brad Means: Congressman Collins, why are you running for Senate? You know, people back here in Georgia have seen you climb the ladder in Congress and you’re now the ranking member of the house judiciary committee. Why turn from that and take this huge chance?
Congressman Doug Collins: Well, it’s not a chance when you’re actually fighting for the, for the people of Georgia. Georgia’s a changing state. There’s a lot of things going on. We have proven over the past, you know, I’ve only been up here seven and a half years in this role, and yes we did move forward because we actually took our job seriously, we actually passed legislation, such as The First Step Act, criminal justice reform, everything we’re talking about right now, the President talks about. We’ve talked about intellectual property. We’ve talked about mental health issues. And those are the kinds of things, that in the state of Georgia, they need a voice, and we wanted to provide a voice for some, for actual getting things done, having a conservative perspective. As our state grows and changes, a voice for conservatives, one that can actually voice on how we can move forward is one that we need, and actually get things done. Georgia is the 10th, but rapidly becoming the 9th, and even possibly the 8th largest state. And we need our agricultural economy, our high tech industries and others, to be well-represented not only in the House, but in the Senate as well. And we’re offering the people of Georgia choice in that.
Brad Means: Do you think the Democrats are gonna keep the House, because if they did, you’re not gonna get to be Chair of the Judiciary Committee, a powerful committee. If the GOP takes it over, you would get that post, we would assume. Do you see that that’s just not possible and think to yourself, you know what, why not make a run of the Senate because I’m just stuck as the ranking member on judiciary?
Congressman Doug Collins: No, I’ve been privileged and blessed to be ranking member of the Judiciary Committee, and it had, you know, last, the start of the Senate run had to, to step down, and from that actual position. This is not about, you know, my, you know, personal agenda. I’ve been very blessed to have a great career so far, just in the short time I’ve been here. But it’s not a, it’s not a lifelong thing. And when I see what’s happening in our state and I see the election coming up in November, and I see the fact that I, I believe truly that Governor Kemp had every right to appoint, the appointed Senator Loeffler. But the people of Georgia need to make the decision on who’s gonna finish those last few years. And when you look at what’s going on, I believe I’m the only one that can actually keep the seat as a Republican seat. I do not believe that Senator Loeffler could keep that seat. So when we look at it from a bigger perspective, it’s about keeping control of the Senate and also continuing to be a voice for Georgia in a very forceful way. Someone that is not had to learn now to, how to do things, but I’ve actually shown that we can do things.
Brad Means: Did you ever ask Governor Kemp, why’d you do me like that? And if so, what did he say when he picked Loeffler over you?
– Well, we only had a conversation after he already had picked her, and we didn’t do a lot of discussion on the whys. I think it was a pick that was made from some, frankly, some political calculations on what people in the suburbs would like to vote for, and people who didn’t vote for the President would like to vote for. And, from my perspective, the way you engage voters is you actually have conversations with ’em. You talk about the situations in our suburbs, and the mental health issues, and our opioid issues, and the things that are affecting our families. You go out into our, our other communities, and minority communities and others who have been affected by criminal justice, and are wrapped in a cycle of being trapped in poverty and not having opportunities. You go to our agricultural communities and you expand that base. Governor Kemp made his pick, he’ll always have to let, you know, decide how he wants to handle that pick. But I do believe that the reception that we’ve seen all over Georgia has been very positive to us because they know that we fight for them, that we know that we have provided a national voice, not just a state voice for them in Washington, DC, and we’re gonna continue to do that in the Senate.
Brad Means: I was watching a gathering of lawmakers and some of President Trump’s leaders. I think it was right after impeachment was officially over and y’all were at the white house. And he was, he referenced you and Kelly Loeffler and said something to the effect of, he was still trying to figure out what to do with both of y’all, but that he had some ideas. Has the president approached you and said, Hey Congressman Collins, do this or don’t do that, or, I, I might be able to place you here?
Congressman Doug Collins: No, we’re not looking for anything else. We made that very clear when we were humbly talked about for the Director of National Intelligence. And look, the President’s been a very good friend of mine. He is continuing to be. We talk, you know, we have a lot of communication with the White House on what we’re doing and the agenda of getting his agenda pushed. This isn’t about an election to what will solve this and which went. And I think it’s very obvious that he is, he has been very good to us and he’s also staying out of this race, as he said he would. And I think it’s very telling that he is doing that out of respect for us and our friendship and what we had done for him. And look, I think the biggest thing is here is let’s go to what the people of Georgia needed to hear. They need to hear two candidates who are gonna present their ideas, but at the same point, you’re gonna also see one, myself, who has accomplished things in Washington, DC, and not just simply, you know, we’ll be having to work toward those ideals and goals.
Brad Means: You know, as we record this edition of The Means Report, we’re seeing a spike in coronavirus cases across the country. I kind of felt like we were leaving the pandemic, at least part one of it behind us. Do you think a second wave is coming and is this nation ready for it?
Congressman Doug Collins: I’m not sure it’s a second wave. I think you’re gonna see more people, and test positive as we get out and go more. Again, the issue that we’re seeing here in Georgia is though, is, is there may be more positive, but we’re seeing fewer positives in different areas. We’re not seeing the spike. We’re seeing that in some places, and that’s just something that we can continue to work on until there’s a vaccine, until this becomes, you know, the, more of a norm and people will continue to learn how to get back out and how to protect themselves. We’re gonna still see this, but I’m confident that right now, it’s also being, essentially, to me, is only using percentages of increases in many these States and not the actual number. I saw some numbers in which they, you know, the, the numbers had increased over 50 or a hundred people, but yet in the state of, you know, several million, those are smaller numbers. But it looks a lot bigger when you say there’s been a 50% increase or a 30% increase as you go forward. And we’re seeing that across, you know, the country. And, you know, look, I think it’s gonna go up and down until we can actually get that vaccine and get a better handle on it like we do with other viruses.
Brad Means: Yeah, I think so too. Do you think the state of Georgia would be willing to shut down again? It seems like people would be really reluctant to do that.
Congressman Doug Collins: I would hope not. I mean, there, I don’t see the reason. I’ve traveled the state for the past few weeks and it is amazing that, you know, you go to some parts of the state that were not really affected by the virus at all, and it seems like nothing was ever, you know, changed. And then of course, you go to some of our cities and, you know, Augusta, Macon, Atlanta, you’re seeing a little more of cautions as you go along. I think you’re gonna see, as numbers come back out, that people are wanting to get out. I was just up in, in the Northeast Georgia miles, a city called Helen, which is a lot of tourist destinations. I didn’t realize it was the third most popular tourist destination in the state of Georgia, and their businesses up there are seeing, they’re seeing 30 and 40% increases in people getting out. And that if it continues like this through the rest of the year, they will actually be ahead of last year, even with the two months of the, of the virus shutdown. So, people are ready to get out, they’re ready to get back to normal, as best as normal can be. And that’s what I would hope to see in the rest of the state.
Brad Means: Yeah, I had a friend who took his son to a golf tournament up in your neck of the woods at Achasta near Gainesville. And he said people were out and about and seemed to be having a good time and being responsible. What about college? What about high school? What are you doing with your children? And should we all try to send our kids back in the fall?
Congressman Doug Collins: Yeah, what I’m trying to do with mine is I’ve got two at the University of Georgia that I’m trying to convince them to understand that college is a four year plan, not further, and get them out of college. But I’m ready to get them back in. I mean, as a dad, that’s a simple plea from a dad’s heart. But, you know, schools need to come back in. We need to make arrangements for it. It may mean that they get their meals in the room. There may be other issues that they have to deal with, but society needs to try and attempt to get back to normal, and school is a very big function of that. Not just because, you know, my wife just retired after 30 and a half years of teaching, she retired in the, in the pandemic. And it was very hard for her because she loved her kids and didn’t get to see them as she normally would. But you lose a year, you lose a half a year, and some of these young minds, K through, you know, 12, in particular, but especially K through five, you’re doing, I think, very damaging results to the educational progress of some of these young, young boys and girls. And we need to make sure that we’re trying to do our best to get them back into a classroom where they can grow and respond and all socially, but also in their studies as well. You’ll probably see some blending coming up with those willing to come and then those who are still doing online. But I would, looking forward to the colleges, universities, all getting back, using precautions if they need to during this time, but getting back into class.
Brad Means: So that means football, too. Right?
Congressman Doug Collins: I hope so! I’m, I’m a, I’m a, foot, I’m a sports fan. I like to watch all kinds, and UFC and Korean baseball has been great, but I’m ready for the FCC. I’m ready for the Dogs and the others to start playing again. And I jokingly say, I get this question a lot recently, and they said, what do you think about football coming back? And I said, well, they probably could lock 90 something thousand fans out of a Sanford Stadium, but I’m not sure they’re gonna take 90,000 people out of Athens on a game day. So-
Brad Means: Definitely.
Congressman Doug Collins: I’m hopeful they’ll come back soon.
Brad Means: Boy, I hope so too. Congressman Doug Collins, you’ve been so generous with your time. I know you’re slammed right now and we sure do appreciate you taking a few moments to be with us.
Congressman Doug Collins: Oh, man, it’s been my pleasure. And it’s been a great few questions, great time to be with you.
Brad Means: Thank you so much. All the best to you Congressman, we appreciate your service.