Senator Lindsey Graham joined me today:
HH: I’m joined now by United States Senator Lindsey Graham. Senator Graham, welcome, it’s good to talk to you.
LG: Thank you.
HH: In the reporting this morning by Garrett Graff at Politico, it says the FBI has only got the resources to follow 48 jihadis around the clock, and we’ve got a thousand would-be jihadis in the United States. Isn’t that the crisis, as opposed to the gun control debate?
LG: Without a doubt. There are two things – lack of capability and attitude that need to change. We’re going to have less FBI agents and analysts in 2017 than we did in 2013.
LG: The other attitude that has to change is that these case files should stay open if there’s any reasonable belief that the person’s going bad. Look at what happened here. Two interviews over a two year period, a young man who was saying crazy things, went to a mosque where a guy became a suicide bomber. We should never have closed that file until you’re absolutely certain that this guy’s not going to become radical.
HH: So what do you make of the debate on the Senate floor about guns right now? I’m frustrated, because it’s an interesting and important debate, but Director Comey says we’ll blow investigations if we revoke guns from people who are on the watch list.
LG: It’s the most, it’s taking a tragic event rather than learning from it, politicizing it. It’s an effort by Democrats to turn the page to gun control away from terrorism and the threats we face, and the reduced capabilities that have come from the Obama administration’s policies. We have less FBI agents than we did in 2013. We no longer interrogate high value targets. We put them in federal court, read them their Miranda rights. We don’t put anybody in Gitmo. The military is tremendously underfunded. Our footprint throughout the world is smaller. Leading from behind is not working. Our strategy in Iraq and Syria is not going to defeat ISIL, so they want to make it about gun control. There are 800 people on the no-fly list, about 1,400 people who require additional screening if they go to the airport. I think a reasonable compromise is if you’re on a no-fly list, you shouldn’t be allowed to buy a gun. But there should be due process to make an argument that you’re wrongfully, you know, selected here. That makes sense to me, but that doesn’t keep us safe. If gun control would protect a nation from radical Islam, there would never have been a Paris, because France has the strongest gun laws in the world.
HH: And so this argument, though, is being framed on the media, and I’m on networks every single day. And I argue against it every single day, and it seems to me that there has to be legislation passed, because the American people’s depth of understanding here is not good enough to stand there. They will, the President effectively muddied the waters with his attack on Donald Trump yesterday.
HH: …which is, by the way, what was your reaction to that in the aftermath? 48 hours after a terror attack, he’s attacking a political opponent.
LG: I found that to be sort of the low point in terms of presidential response to a crisis by Obama himself. He got into the mud with Donald Trump. He should have said I am concerned as to why we closed this file. How could he be on the list and off the list? What kind of system do we need in the future to make sure you stay on the list? He should be more self-reflective about the capabilities that have been lost. He should be concerned that the FBI has less agents and analysts today than it did in 2013. And he should stop the practice of holding people as common criminals when they’re caught on the battlefield. Rather than some self-reflection, he went on the attack. And in Obama’s world, the Europeans are wrong, the Israelis are wrong, the Arabs are wrong, Republicans are wrong. He doesn’t have the ability for critical self-analysis, and that’s why the world is so dangerous.
HH: And a quick political question, Senator Rubio is reconsidering his decision not to run. Are you optimistic he will run? Do you want him to do so?
LG: I want him to run. I’m optimistic. I think he could hold the seat. He’s got a bright future. And that would really change the map. I think the Senate is 50/50 if Trump can keep it close, which I think he can, because Hillary Clinton’s so bad. Marco would be the best candidate we could field, and I just wish Trump would focus on what the President’s allowed to happen in terms of reduced capability on his watch and the increased threats. Let’s get this gun control issue behind us, but let’s focus on the threats – radical Islamists on our steps, getting our bad start…
HH: Amen to that, Senator Graham. Join me tomorrow, America, on the next Hugh Hewitt Show.
End of interview.