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Rep. Mike Pompeo On The Possible Lawsuit To Stop The President From Releasing Iran Sanctions

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The transcript:

HH: Joined by Congressman Mike Pompeo of the great state of Kansas. Congressman Pompeo, welcome, it’s good to talk to you today.

MP: Good to be with you, Hugh.

HH: I’ve got a number of things to cover. I want to start, though, with the depositions that continue on the Benghazi Special Committee. Are you almost done? I know you did Cheryl Mills this week. Are there any left?

MP: Oh, yeah. There are still a whole bunch. In fact, in the case of the most recent depositions, we learned of others that we need to speak to. So there’s still a fair amount of work to be done. We are hoping to wrap up by the end of the year, or maybe the beginning of next. Much turns on document production from the State Department, but we still have quite a bit of work to do. Tomorrow, we will have Mr. Pagliano before us, and many, many other interviews left to conduct.

HH: But you’ve been informed, right, Mr. Pagliano will be invoking the 5th Amendment?

MP: We were informed that he will exercise his Constitutional rights. We’ll see precisely what he says tomorrow.

HH: Are you prepared to immunize him?

MP: I haven’t heard any discussion of that from the Benghazi Committee, none at all.

HH: Is that worth having discussion about? If you immunize him, I don’t care if he walks free if we find out what he did for the server.

MP: It is certainly something that’s worth thinking about. I know the Senate side has been talking about it. We need to find out what happened, and I know that Chairman Gowdy will use every tool in his arsenal. We have four Americans who were killed now almost exactly three years ago today. We need to get those answers. So if he can share them with us, I’d be happy to provide him with the means so that he can tell us the story.

HH: Now Congressman, Mrs. Clinton has made, former Secretary of State Clinton has made a number of statements about her server. I’ve been on Don Lemon, with Chris Cuomo, with many others, making the statement. I just want to know if you agree with me as Harvard Law grad, a member of the Intelligence Committee and the Benghazi Committee that you are.

MP: You’re setting me up, Hugh.

HH: It doesn’t matter what a doc…what’s that?

MP: You’re setting me up, Hugh.

HH: I am. My statement is it doesn’t matter what a document is marked. It matters what the sender or the recipient knows is in the document. Am I right?

MP: You are correct.

HH: Thank you.

MP: I would add only this. The marking does make a difference, that is, if it’s marked, one knows what’s in it, right? But if a document is not marked, it is the contents of the information that matter, and not the fact that the document is not marked.

HH: I actually used you as my example. If Congressman Pompeo went to a SCIF, read something that was classified, walked out and sent Hugh Hewitt and email summarizing what was in that document that was classified and in the SCIF, Congressman Pompeo and Hugh Hewitt, if I knew it was classified, would be in violation of 18 USC 1924, correct?

MP: That’s correct. We would both be felons.

HH: Yup. There you go. Now to the Iran deal. I just asked Senator Tom Cotton who punted to you, who has standing to bring a lawsuit determining that the President has violated Corker-Cardin by concealing key parts of the deal.

MP: I believe there will be two groups of people who will have standing to do that, Hugh, and I think it’s important that we all acknowledge that no American has read this agreement. It sometimes escapes people, they can’t find it in their imagination that we could talk about a deal so much, and yet there’s not a single American who has read this agreement in its entirety. Two groups will have standing. I believe that there will be state attorney generals that ultimately have standing, who passed state-level sanctions, and I believe that the House of Representatives will have standing, too. I’m told that we, that the House of Representatives was actually successful today in receiving standing in the Burwell case, so…

HH: Oh, very good.

MP: I haven’t seen that opinion, I haven’t seen that opinion, but I’m told that there was a favorable ruling on standing just today for the House of the Representatives.

HH: Well, then, that would mean, wouldn’t it, that there is a level of urgency that the House move to dispatch the lawsuit, and probably using Paul Clement again, although I’m happy if you want to call me up, that we could bring, you guys could authorize the lawsuit to be brought today arguing that the President has violated Corker-Cardin, right?

MP: So I think the first step is to get the House on record as having made, the United States House of Representatives’ view that the President has not complied with it, and then I think we have to wait for the President to behave in a manner that is inconstant with the fact that he’s not complied. That is, if he waives the sanctions after the House has determined that he’s not complied, I think it’s then that the House of Representatives could act, and I’m hopeful that we will.

HH: Can it act so quickly, in your view, that the sanctions, though waived, could be snapped back before they had any immediate impact on American companies?

MP: It’s a difficult question, but I have to say this. I think what we’re going to do this week, in making clear the House’ position, already had an impact on the willingness of companies to invest in Iran. I think if you’re the general counsel for a foreign entity thinking about making a $2 billion investment in Natanz, Iran, that the fact that the United States House of Representatives says that the President did not comply with a legal requirement related to this agreement is going to give you pause in your recommendation to the board of directors. I think that’s very important.

HH: I agree, but here’s my most pressing concern, is that money will flow out of frozen accounts into the hands of General Soleimani and the Quds Forces, and that that money could be enjoined from flowing if someone has standing to step up and say that Corker-Cardin has not been complied with. Do you think that’s a legitimate worry that money that is going to go out could be stopped if we act expeditiously?

MP: I do, and it presents the very urgency that you’re describing, and I hope that our leadership will take the steps this week and then move quickly when we see that the President intends to release, pick a number, $100 or $150 billion dollars.

HH: What can General Soleimani do with $100 billion dollars? What will he do? What will Iran do with that money?

MP: Think about this. The administration has said that they think a small percentage of this money will go to terror. Let’s assume it’s 1% of $100 billion dollars. The Quds Force operated off of tens of millions of dollars, right? It’s a people organization. They’re not building F-22 fighters. That is an enormous amount of resources for the Houthis, for the Shiia militias in Iraq, for Hamas, for Hezbollah, and for the Quds Force. They will be cash rich, and have the ability to expand their terror network all across the world.

HH: I tried to explain to people, and just, you can elaborate on this, it’s just hiring mercenaries. It’s just payroll. We’re the quartermaster for every terrorist group in the world come the day we release this money.

MP: Hugh, that’s precisely right, and I’ve said this all along as well, and I’ve been attacked for it. This is the United States really acknowledging that a decision that we’re going to make is going to allow some of the men who have more American blood on their hands than any living terrorist, will have greater resources. It is absolutely unconscionable, and it’s why I’ve been spending every waking minute the last 60 days trying to find a tool, a method, that we can put that back in the box in spite of the fact that this President is intent on doing it.

HH: Well, I would go down and file in the 5th Circuit someplace. I don’t, I would forum shop here. I would not bring this lawsuit in the D.C. Circuit, because it’s been stacked, right? They stacked the D.C. Circuit.

MP: We need to find a place we’re going to get a fair shot, because when we do, I think it’s very clear that Corker-Cardin prevents this President from releasing those funds until he complies as a condition precedent to forcing the House to do anything.

HH: I want to close on that. You believe it’s very clear that the law that was passed and signed by the President prevents him from releasing any money to Iran right now because he has not complied, and that a court will uphold that an enjoin the release of the money?

MP: I think when the House votes to make, to clearly state that it’s the Houses’ view that he has not complied, I do believe that the President is prohibited from acting.

HH: That’s very important, and Mike Pompeo, I appreciate you saying that on the show. Thanks for coming on, as always. It’s a great pleasure talking to you. Follow Congressman Pompeo, @RepMikePompeo, a member of the House Intelligence Committee, West Point grad, Harvard lawyer, smart guy.

End of interview.


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