Van Jones says Tim Scott is the ‘hold up’ on police reform because of qualified immunity

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CNN commentator Van Jones argued on CNN Monday that Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., is the “wrong lawmaker” to get bipartisan police reform done because he’s so stubborn on qualified immunity.

Qualified immunity, which protects police officers and other types of government officials from civil litigation in certain circumstances, is a major sticking point for progressives, Jones argued.

“The idea that police are immune in civil court from paying anything out of their own pocket has just been a thorn in the side of this movement,” Jones said. “And so, we know that Tim Scott, who’s a Republican senator in the Senate who’s trying to make this happen, we know he is not open to very much on qualified immunity.”

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Without qualified immunity, Jones said, “we may be talking about the wrong lawmaker.” 

“So it could be that you have a signal here from the Democrats they understand the box that Tim Scott is in and they have got enough other stuff in the box that they’re happy with. But this is going to take some real leadership to get progressives to come on board for this, or to hold the line and for Tim Scott to have to move,” he said.

Jones’s remarks come despite House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, D-S.C., saying he’s willing to compromise on the issue of qualified immunity in order to get police reform legislation passed, saying they could revisit it at a later date. Jones acknowledged Democrats like some of what’s in Scott’s proposed police legislation, which was filibustered last year.

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“I know that the progressive wing is very concerned about his statement,” Jones said of Clyburn. “We know that Clyburn wants qualified immunity, he already fought for it. It could be that Tim Scott is the hold up here.”

Scott has been candid about how he has been the victim of racial profiling, even in the halls of Congress. Yet in his Republican rebuttal to President Biden’s first address to Congress, he said America “is not a racist country.” He was demeaned on Twitter as an “Uncle Tim” for that statement and ridiculed by leftist pundits like Joy Behar for not understanding the difference between being racist and systemic racism.

Jones also blasted Scott for the statement.

“It is very clear that this country is still struggling with racism,” he said the night of Scott’s speech. “We still have racism showing up in almost every institution. I thought he did himself a disservice by jumping that shark unnecessarily.”

But Vice President Kamala Harris agreed with Scott’s sentiment, as did Clyburn.

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“I agree with him on that,” Clyburn told the Washington Post Live. “I don’t think a racist country would have elected Barack Obama as president, or Kamala Harris as vice president.”

Biden has said he hopes to get police reform on the books by May 25, the one-year anniversary of George Floyd’s death at the hands of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who was convicted of his murder and manslaughter last month.

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