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RNC Chairman Reince Priebus On The Washington Shooting, And The Presidnent’s Desire To Shut Down The Government

Monday, September 16, 2013

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HH: I’m joined from Washington, D.C. by the chairman of the Republican National Committee, Reince Pribus. Reince, welcome back on a terrible day for the city that I know you love.

RP: Well, yeah, and obviously a few blocks away, and my family is here. We’re in Wisconsin and here as you know, but we’re here now. And the apartment we’re in is locked down. It’s over much closer to Navy Yard than the Capitol. And then I’ve got a son who’s in school, and their school is locked down. And you know, I guess if there’s any upside here, which there isn’t much, I would say that the responders and the police around here being basically in a secure area around the capital is phenomenal. I mean, the response is very, very big and broad and swift, though there is a, you do get a feeling, and when horrible things happen like this in the capital, you do get a feeling that there is a safe feeling when something like that happens, and the police are absolutely everywhere, and particularly around Capitol Hill and the Navy Yard area. So for that, obviously everyone’s very grateful. And obviously, our thoughts and prayers are with everyone down on the Navy Yard, and all the families and who knows how many people have been affected.

HH: OH, golly, 16,000 people work there, 3,000 in that building. I’m sure there are many panicked people tonight. But is your son, at 6:23 in the evening, is your son still locked down in his school, Reince?

RP: No, no, no.

HH: Okay.

RP: He is back home. He’s back home, and they’ve cleared the school out, but they had, they call it a code yellow at the school, and he goes to St. Peter’s school here on Capitol Hill, but he was very upset, you know, called and wondering about me and our building, and why would…you know, a lot of questions for an eight year old, so I’m sure this is not unique, fortunately, for a lot of parents. But for me, you know, having an eight and a three year old, this is the first time that I’ve, you kind of experience it yourself and get that kind of panic with the little guys.

HH: Oh, I’m sure it must be a very, very terrible feeling, and they’re still talking about a second person involved. In fact, I just played the live press conference, and Wolf is repeating it now behind me on the screen.

RP: Yeah.

HH: Have you had any kind of communique as to whether or not that is a real threat, because it isn’t too far from the RNC.

RP: No, it’s not far at all, and it’s even closer to where I’m going to be tonight. You know, I would just say there’s a little bit of feeling of not knowing. I mean, there’s a little confusion, I’ll just be honest with you, in the air as far as whether or not this person exists, or whether it’s somebody’s potential, it’s a potential thought that people had, and it’s hard to tell exactly how imminent or real that second shooter is at this point. And I mean, I can tell you, like just looking out my window, I mean, right now, we’ve got police officers with what apparently look like heavy rifle-type equipment on and they’re walking around. But the rest of, people are coming in and out of the Metro and walking around here, the Capitol area, but there’s definitely a very, very heavy police presence, obviously, around the streets, and on the street, and in vehicles. And all I can tell you is that for as difficult as it is in the Capitol, the police presence is enormous.

HH: Reince Priebus is my guest, chairman of the Republican National Committee. Obviously, we’re setting aside politics today. But I want to ask, Reince, two things. One, the communication from the authorities via press conference has been rapid and good, but the idea that they have not given direction to the public with a second potential suspect at large is troubling to me. Do you find that odd? Do you think that they’ve thought this through, and twelve years after 9/11, twelve years after the Malvo shootings, isn’t it, shouldn’t D.C. be crisp with regards to communicating direction to its people?

RP: Well, I think, I don’t know how to answer that, Hugh, because I mean I’m here, and I’m watching the same things you are, and of course, I’ve got a family much closer into the Navy Yard area than where I’m at. I would have to disagree…I would agree with you in that we don’t know as far as whether it’s true or not that there is a second shooter, and I guess all I can tell you is that my sense is that if it was absolutely known to be true, we would know it. And maybe the police are trying to be as, maybe they’re trying to be as clear as they can in saying look, we think it’s possible there’s a second shooter, we’re telling you that we think it’s possible, and we’re doing everything we can to verify whether or not it’s true. In the meantime, you know, do your best to stay where you’re at, and to be as safe as possible. I mean, I think that’s what they’re saying. I obviously don’t know the details. I can just tell you that my own life and family here, and with our RNC family in the building, there is definitely a sense that we just don’t know if there is actually someone else on the loose.

HH: Well, you’re the boss. So have they actually, anyone communicated with you as to what your people are supposed to do? Are they allowed to go home? Should they go home? Should they travel…

RP: Yeah, no, we’ve got, there’s definitely, we do have an all clear here, and everyone can go, and the Metro is open across the street. And the schools are released, and there is no more lockdown, at least as far as I can tell, by the apartments down that are closer to the Navy Yard over by the stadium, which is where that area is, where the Nationals play.

HH: Boy, it’s interesting, how odd that they would do that if they really thought there was a second shooter. Let me conclude by asking, Reince, and come back later, we’ll talk…this effectively knocks another week off of the media’s attention on the domestic paralysis that the President is orchestrating, because I think he wants to shut down the government. When, you know, we had three weeks of Syrian fiasco, now we’re going to have, rightfully so, a week of serious coverage of this massacre. But I don’t think the country realizes, we have a minute to the break, that we’re on the brink of a shutdown orchestrated by the President.

RP: Yeah, I think you’re exactly right. I think he wants this thing to happen, a shutdown of the government. I’m totally cynical on the thing. I think that’s exactly what he wants. I, in fact, think he’s got a bunch of Democrats that are sick and tired of it as well, because they’re sitting in red states, and they’re nervous as anything that they’re going to get stuck with Obamacare, and then they’re going to have to go out there and defend it. I think it’s going to be a big problem, actually, in the end, though, Hugh, for the Democrats. I don’t think, I think he’s being cute by half, and the biggest albatross around his neck is not only the economy, but Obamacare, it’s his foreign policy. He picked the absolute worst time in the agenda to come across as weak. And he’s not only doing his best to humiliate himself, but he’s doing his best to humiliate this country, and I think it’s going to come back to bite him.

HH: Reince Priebus, chairman of the RNC, stay safe. Glad to hear your family is. Prayers for those affected by the shooting.

End of interview.

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