Alaska Senator Dan Sullivan joined me this morning:
HH: Senator Dan Sullivan from the great state of Alaska joins me, Marine veteran, combat veteran, also Ohio native, and we’re very confident about the draft. Are you looking at Josh Allen or Baker Mayfield, Senator Sullivan?
DS: Well, you know, Hugh, good to be on the show again. 0-16 for the Browns, so they need a franchise quarterback. I think you and I have discussed this numerous times, so I’ll leave it to the scouts to figure out who that’s going to be, but that’s the answer.
HH: They’ve got to pick one.
DS: That’s the answer, right?
HH: All right, they’ve got to pick the best one.
DS: Don’t you agree?
HH: Yeah, they scout it, the experts do it. That brings me to what, an area of your expertise.
HH: People do not know what is going on between the United States and Turkey right now. It’s very deeply troubling. I’ll be talking about it with Admiral Stavridis on my Saturday MSNBC show. What do you make of this situation? How explosive is it?
DS: Well look, I mean, Turkey has been for decades, as you know, one of our most important allies. And the whole focus with regard to where Erdogan has gone, a much more authoritarian, a much more Islamist-focused leader, has created all kinds of problems. But you know, they’re still a key member of NATO, for example. And what they’re doing in terms of this military incursion is deeply troubling, because obviously we weren’t supportive of that. And you know, just a few years ago, Turkey would have not have taken that kind of action as a NATO member without our, I don’t want to say approval, but probably approval. So we’ve got to figure out what’s going on there, because if we lose Turkey, that is a big problem. But a lot of the problems are coming from the leadership of that country, particularly Erdogan who is becoming increasingly a problem.
HH: Do we need, he has threatened to attack a Syrian town in which American special forces are known to operate with our Syrian allies. That is a direct threat of military action against likely American targets. Do we need to begin to relocate our air base, which is a massive air base, right?
DS: Yeah, Incirlik, that air base is huge, and so far, they have actually been making sure that we’re able to utilize it. I mean, one of the, and I know you’ve talked about it, but one of the tremendous successes of General Mattis and the Trump administration is how we have annihilated ISIS in the last year. Well, a lot of the air power has come from there, come from other parts in the Middle East. But you know, your original question about protecting our military forces, you know, that’s obviously a red line for us regardless what country it is, even if it’s a NATO ally. If they’re getting near our special forces, and put them in harm’s way, we need to protect them no matter what.
HH: That’s interesting, and we’ll leave it at that and hope the message is received. Let me quickly ask you about this FBI story. I’ve had on Senators Toomey and Gardner and Lee this morning, and they are all deeply concerned about the FBI. What’s your take on these vanishing texts and whether or not we need an FBI investigation?
DS: Look, what we need with regard to the FBI, clearly, is transparency. Get everything, everything out – the texts, this memo in the House that’s happening. And you know, I’m a little baffled that we have a new FBI director who wasn’t part of any of this, right? I sat down with him, met him, seems like a great guy. He has a huge opportunity here right now to come clean on everything and not be captured by the bureaucracy. It’s going to be a really important moment whether he just says hey, I’m coming clean, I wasn’t here then, I’m going to clean house, I’m going to let the American people see what happened as opposed to try to protect the bureaucracy. Look, I love the members of the FBI, Hugh, but in Alaska, you know, the Department of Justice and the FBI, they had a black eye many years ago when they illegally and in a corrupt manner brought down the late, great Ted Stevens.
DS: And that all turned out to be fully corruption on the part of the Department of Justice…
DS: …and the FBI. No one says that that’s not the case when that was all looked at. So you know, occasionally, those patriotic men and women, particularly in the FBI, they’re great people, but they do make mistakes. You’ve got to come clean, got to be transparent, and the new director should do that. And that should be his area of focus.
HH: As an Alaska senator, you have experience with earthquakes, including yesterday, and I’m glad there apparently was no serious damage from the 7.9. Am I correct about that, Senator?
HH: Yeah, that’s very good. So there’s an earthquake at the FBI. I do now know how the deputy Attorney General, Rod Rosenstein, stays in charge of this investigation given his entanglement with the Comey firing memo and now with the appeal to Paul Ryan to keep documents secret. Should he recuse himself from the investigation into the FBI?
DS: Look, I have said all along that I, you know, and I know some of my colleagues were on the show earlier saying you know, they had lost confidence in Attorney General Sessions. You know, he made, I think, the right call with regard to his recusal, and I think he takes these issues very seriously. With regard to Rosenstein, I’m not exactly sure to what degree he was involved, so to what his degree his recusal would be needed, but I still think that Attorney General Sessions and the new FBI director can do the right thing on all of this, Hugh, which is just be transparent. Let it all come out – the texts, the memos, and then the American people can make a judgment themselves. What the American people don’t want is some kind of sense of a cover up. And I think you’re starting to feel that right now, you know, five months of lost texts? Really? The group that was supposed to investigate Hillary’s text messages and emails has lost their own? Come on, we need to do better than that.
HH: It is. I think they need a formally denominated FBI investigation, and I personally don’t think the Deputy Attorney General can lead it. Whether that means Associate Attorney General Brand or a second special counsel, it’s a mess at DOJ and the FBI. It’s a mess, and Senator Sullivan, you’re very clear on that. I appreciate you being here.
End of interview.