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Sen. Tim Scott dismisses impact of Trump legal issues, says voters "more focused on their future"

Full interview: Sen. Tim Scott on “Face the Nation”
Full interview: Sen. Tim Scott on “Face the Nation” 08:47

Washington — Sen. Tim Scott, a South Carolina Republican who has endorsed former President Donald Trump's bid for the White House, dismissed questions about Trump's legal troubles on Sunday, saying "the American people are more focused on their future than Donald Trump's past." 

"They're not talking about legal challenges, they're talking about their challenges across a kitchen table," Scott said on "Face the Nation," citing border security and the economy as the top issues Americans are concerned about, while sidestepping questions about Trump's legal woes. 

The former president's legal troubles heated up in recent days. On Friday, he and the Trump Organization were fined more than $354 million, plus millions in interest, by a New York judge overseeing his civil fraud case. Trump also faces criminal charges in four separate cases, and has pleaded not guilty in each.

At the same time, Trump remains the front-runner for the GOP presidential nomination, and he and former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley are set to face off in South Carolina's Republican primary on Feb. 24. The former president has dominated in the early state nominating contests so far, teeing up a major test for Haley in the state where she served as governor from 2011 to 2017. 

Scott endorsed Trump last month, after exiting the race himself in November. The decision to back Trump came as a blow to Haley, who appointed Scott to fill a Senate vacancy in 2013. Now, Scott is among a short list of potential Trump running mates.

Asked for his views on the vice president's role in Congress' counting of the Electoral College votes after a presidential election, Scott said "the Constitution is very clear" but declined to elaborate, predicting that Trump will be the clear winner in November.

"One thing we know about the future is that the former president, fortunately, he'll be successful in 2024 and he won't be facing that situation again," Scott said.

Scott voted to certify the 2020 election results, saying in a statement on Jan. 5, 2021, that "there is no constitutionally viable means for the Congress to overturn an election wherein the states have certified and sent their Electors." Trump had urged Vice President Mike Pence to reject the Electoral College votes of several states in his capacity as presiding officer on Jan. 6, but Pence refused, saying the vice president's role in the process is ceremonial under the Constitution. Hundreds of Trump supporters stormed the Capitol hours after Pence made his position public.

On Sunday, Scott also defended his decision to endorse Trump over Haley, which drew criticism from Haley's adult son, who called Scott "Senator Judas" in response. Scott said that politics "makes people and their families desperate."

"I know that they're in a heated race. I know that it's not going their way; they're going to lose their home state," he said. "There will be a devastating loss here in South Carolina. It was a devastating loss in New Hampshire. There's not a state coming forward that she's going to win."

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