HH: Josh Hawley is the attorney general of the state of Missouri. Before winning election to that post, he attended Stanford University, Yale Law School, clerked for Chief Justice John Roberts, taught law school as well as being in private practice. One of his areas of specialty was the 1st Amendment’s Free Exercise Clause. He was elected the state’s AG in 2016, and he’s now running against Claire McCaskill, who was elected to the Senate in 2006. Welcome, Attorney General Hawley, good to have you on the program this morning.
JH: Thanks for having me.
HH: I want to begin with a political story. Your opponent, Claire McCaskill, got caught doing on RV TV thing, but that turned out to be part RV and part airplane, private plane. How big is that going to be in the election?
JH: Well, it’s very big, because Hugh, it just shows what a phony Claire McCaskill is. I mean, it shows that she is not what she pretends to be. She can’t tell the truth about an RV tour around the state? I mean, she can’t spend even a day on her luxury RV before she hops on her luxury plane? But that’s not even the most prominent way in which she’s out of touch. She says she’s independent. She says she’s been bipartisan, but that’s all phony, too. She votes with her party almost 90% of the time. She’s voted with Chuck Schumer over 2,700 times. She’s a party line, rigid, liberal Democrat, and that’s something neither Missouri wants nor Missouri needs.
HH: So the RV story is going to have, pardon the pun, legs?
JH: I think it certainly is, because it really is indicative of how Senator McCaskill conducts herself. I mean, it’s just a phony campaign and a phony image all the way around. She pretends to be one thing, but she’s actually something else. And above all, she is out of touch with my state, Hugh. She is not in line with the voters of Missouri. She won’t vote to secure the border. She won’t vote for conservative Constitutional judges who will protect the 2nd Amendment. She won’t vote to get wages up, to get health care costs down. She’s totally out of touch. She’s enthralled to the money of her party. And that’s why we’re going to beat her in November.
HH: Missouri went for President Trump. Is he going to come and campaign for Josh Hawley?
JH: He sure is. He’s been here in the state already, Hugh. He will come back, I hope. We welcomed him many times. I’m proud to be endorsed by him in this election, and we look forward to standing side by side with him going into the fall.
HH: Now General Hawley, the reason I originally invited you on before this RV story broke was because you have sued Google. And I have made it a point over the last year to bring on Republican after Republican – Ajit Pai, Leader McConnell, Leader McCarthy, Speaker Ryan, and ask them about Google and big tech and Silicon Valley. Why are you suing Google? Explain to the audience why you’re going after Alphabet, which is Google’s parent company, and what you hope to achieve.
JH: Well, we’ve got an investigation into Google, Hugh, because they are the most powerful corporation in the world, maybe in the history of the world. They collect more personal, confidential, private information on consumers than any other corporation ever, and I want to know what they’re doing with it. I want to know what they’re collecting. I want to know if they have permission from consumers to collect it. I want to know who they’re giving it to. And I’d also like to know are they squelching conservative viewpoints? Are they controlling the flow of information in a way that benefits them and discriminates against other speakers with different viewpoints? So I want answers. It is incumbent on law enforcement officials to hold Google accountable, and that’s exactly what I’m doing.
HH: Are you afraid that Google, and by extension Facebook and the rest of big tech are going to turn their guns silently and algorithmically, if that’s a word, against Josh Hawley in the fall, because you’re a threat to them in the Senate?
JH: They might, but I’m not afraid. I mean, look, we also have an investigation of Facebook along the very same lines. I’m the only attorney general in the country who’s holding these big tech companies accountable. And I’m going to go right on doing so, Hugh. That’s what I was elected to do. I’ve always said I’m a tough lawyer. I’m a tough prosecutor. I’m going to be tough and get the answers for the people of Missouri, and I don’t care who threatens me. We’re not going to back down.
HH: Do we need a new regulatory body? And I have asked this of the Leader, and of the Speaker, and of Ajit Pai and others. Do we need a new regulatory body to focus on big tech and the economic monopoly they represent?
JH: Well, first, we need our current laws to be enforced. And we have antitrust laws in this country. We have them in the state of Missouri. We have laws that prohibit the taking of consumer information without consent. So number one, let’s enforce the laws that we have on the books. But number two, I do think we need to ask ourselves how our laws map onto and affect this new world, this new tech world that we’re living in, in this day and age in 2018. So I think we need to look at our current legal regime. But let’s begin by actually enforcing it. Let’s begin by making these companies be accountable to the people. After all, that’s who they are supposed to serve. It’s the people. They’re not bigger than the American people. They’re not bigger than the people of Missouri. They should be held accountable, and that’s exactly what I’m doing.
HH: You know, Ajit Pai at the FCC took on big tech, Attorney General Hawley, and he ended up with 24/7 security for his family. Are you afraid of the same sort of problem from the left, and from the, I don’t mean the large left, but the crazies on the left and the crazies on big tech assaulting you and your family?
JH: Well, I mean, look, we’ve certainly taken plenty of incoming fire, metaphorically speaking, on this, and lots of threats from lots of people in terms of you know, this isn’t something you should be looking into. You should be giving these companies a pass. But we’re not going to do it, and I’m not going to be deterred. We just want the facts, Hugh. And I want to emphasize I haven’t prejudged the outcome of our investigations. We just want the facts. But I am not going to be deterred from getting the facts. We will do it as long as it takes. We will press as hard as we have to in order to get the facts. What are these companies doing with our information? What kind of speakers are they favoring or disfavoring? And once we get the facts, then we’ll know how to act.
HH: Attorney Generals fell over each other trying to sue big tobacco back in the day. Is anyone coming to stand with Josh Hawley to go after big tech?
JH: Well, I certainly hope so. A number of attorneys general have expressed great interest in what we’re doing. I know lots of folks all over the country are watching our investigations, watching how we proceed. I would call on ever law enforcement agency and leader to be sure that they are standing up to enforce our laws and hold these companies accountable. And again, Hugh, I’m not prejudging anything. But look, we need to get the facts here, and it’s incumbent on law enforcement to do that, and that’s why I’m doing what I’m doing.
HH: Did, last question on this subject, did the Senate and the House go too easy on Mark Zuckerberg when the Facebook CEO was in front of it?
JH: I’m sorry, say that again, Hugh?
HH: Did the CEO of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, went before the Senate and the House. Did those bodies go too easy on him?
JH: Well, I mean, I certainly don’t think they were too tough. I mean, I think it is absolutely vital that we force these companies to answer questions and to be accountable for what they are doing. And I think frankly, we need in the United States Senate someone who is going to stand up to big tech, somebody who knows what big tech is doing, and who is able and willing to take them on, and that’s one of the reasons I’m running.
HH: I’m going to go back to politics to finish. Your former governor, Eric Greitens, was a drag on everybody in Missouri. Is that a drag on your campaign still?
JH: Yeah, I don’t think so, Hugh. I mean, people are focused on beating Claire McCaskill. They want someone who’s going to represent the state of Missouri. They want someone who’s going to stand with the President to get something done in Washington for the people of Missouri, and that’s exactly what I’m going to do.
HH: She’s proven to be rather resilient. She won six years ago when everyone thought Claire McCaskill was not even possibly a winner. So what’s different this time?
JH: Well, what’s different this time is we’re going to hold her accountable for her record. She is the least popular Senate incumbent in America on a ballot in 2018. She has earned that distinction. She has voted against the interests of the people of Missouri time and again, voted with the money of her party. We’re going to hold her accountable for that.
HH: And how many debates can we expect, Josh Hawley, between you and Claire McCaskill?
JH: Did you say debates, Hugh, sorry?
HH: Yes. How many debates?
JH: Absolutely. I will debate Senator McCaskill anytime, anywhere. I’d love to do it on your program or anywhere else. She so far has skipped out on debate opportunities, but I’m all for it and I’ll do it anytime, anywhere.
HH: Okay. Thank you, Josh Hawley. Claire McCaskill, of course, has a great opportunity to come back and join me in a couple of weeks right here doing the same thing. I want to make that clear. Thank you, Attorney General Hawley. I’ll be right back with Hugh’s Views, my thoughts on the Singapore Summit, after this.
End of interview.