Senator Richard Burr joined me tonight to discuss this story and Hillary’s server:
HH: As I was driving down the road trying to loosen my load on the way to the studio today, and I heard Rush Limbaugh read out an AP story that reported Ted Cruz has become such a pariah that one of his colleagues, Senator Richard Burr of North Carolina, told supporters at a campaign fundraiser that he would vote for liberal Senator Bernie Sanders for president before Cruz, according to one person who attended the event. Burr did not appear to be joking, said the person who demanded anonymity to discuss the private gathering. Joining me now is Senator Burr. Hello, Senator Burr, good evening, and I hope you’re out of D.C., or at least you are bunkered down for the blizzard.
RB: Hugh, greetings from North Carolina, soon to be snowy North Carolina, the east coast of Salem Broadcasting.
HH: I am so glad that you are there, and I wanted to get your reaction. As soon as I heard this, I called my booker and said find Senator Burr and get a response from him. I see you have already demanded a retraction from the AP.
RB: Yeah, listen, Hugh, thanks for the opportunity to be on. The statement by itself is so ludicrous. You know, I have been out for the year that everybody’s been campaigning or longer. And you know, I’ve got video of myself and printed media that says I’m going to support the Republican nominee. As the chairman of the Intelligence Committee, the last thing I want to do is endorse. I had four colleagues in the race. And one of my colleagues is a member of my committee, and I think for the chairman of the Intel Committee to come out and endorse anybody would suggest that somebody’s got a leg up on national security. So I’m not going to do that. But make no mistake about it. I’m going to support the Republican nominee, whether it’s Ted Cruz or Donald Trump or any of the rest of them. The great thing about it is Republicans have more than one person they can look at and call them Mr. President and be proud.
HH: Did you even make a joke about it at the event?
RB: No. No, and as a matter of act, I’m sort of shocked that this is around a fundraiser, because there just haven’t been many over Christmas, and I didn’t have one in Washington this week. I had one in North Carolina that was a very small event, and it was on Monday. But there’s some reporters in Washington, more than one, that want to try to draw these divisive lines, and they’ve been out all week trying to do it. I don’t know what the intent was, but let me just say this, Hugh. The reporter did call our office. And we said it never happened. The story still ran.
HH: Okay, is it possible for anyone to figure out from their story which even they’re talking about?
RB: No, well, I can narrow it down to the one that I described to you where there wasn’t even a discussion that took place about the presidential race, believe it or not, because it was a very small group. It was less than seven.
HH: Have you ever joked at any event that you’d vote, joked, you know, because Tom Cotton came on this show on the air and he said he was ready to endorse in the Democratic primary. He endorsed Bernie Sanders. And that was a pretty good joke. I mean, have you made a joke like that?
RB: I haven’t even made a joke like that. You know, we’re at a very serious point in these campaigns. We’re right around the corner from primaries that will launch what I consider to be the SEC-ACC primary season, North Carolina’s moved up by 60 days. You know, by mid-April this year, we’re probably going to have a pretty good idea as to who the dominant frontrunner is on both sides.
HH: So you are in a primary, and obviously, there is an incentive for an opponent to do a black bag job on you. Is that what happened here?
RB: It’s probably what happened. You know, I’m not accusing anybody, but clearly when you’ve got a report that has an anonymous person and they can’t tell you when the fundraiser was, they can’t tell you where the fundraiser was, you begin to be suspect that maybe it’s because she wouldn’t answer a reporter’s questions the way they wanted it this week, because I probably had four interviews relative to Ted Cruz specifically. And listen, Ted’s a very intelligent guy. Sometimes, he and I have disagreed about policy, but we’ve worked together more times than we might have disagreed on, excuse me, on process. But we’ve worked together more times than we’ve disagreed on process. But at the end of the day, typically, we’re on the same page on practically everything, if not anything.
HH: So I’m doing this not to, I believe you, 100%. I want my audience to understand, but I want you to be very emphatic so people, because I heard Rush, so that means 20 million Americans heard Rush read this story. And I’ve giving you a chance here to make sure. This is just not true. That’s what you’re saying?
RB: It is 100% false. And there is no question that were Ted Cruz the nominee of the Republican Party, I would work aggressively to elect Ted Cruz as president.
HH: I appreciate that. That story is dead to me. Now let me ask you, since I’ve got you, Robert Gates is coming up. And I’ve already interviewed him, and I’ve already tweeted out the most important news part of it. It’s a beautiful book, it’s a wonderful and important conversation. It goes on for an hour. But I asked him about Hillary’s server, and that’s a concern for me. He goes on to agree with the agreement that Mike Morell expressed, former deputy director of CIA, acting director of CIA, expressed to my assertion that no doubt the Russians, the Chinese or other intelligence agencies hostile to ours had broken into Mrs. Clinton’s server when it was operating. He agreed with that agreement. What do you think of that?
RB: Well, let me just say this. Bob Gates is a great American, and he’s even greater with the fact that there’s a lot he’s telling about his life in Washington, and that’s important. To, you know, Hugh, you know from the reports of the last week, Bob Corker and I have set off a firestorm in Washington relative to the IG’s investigation, and the degree of classification of a number of emails. And it’s the FBI’s job to determine whether the security of her server was breached. My major concern was making sure that the server and the thumb drive were secure. And the FBI did that immediately when they got the referral to them. But this is in the hands of two different entities – the FBI for the investigation, and each individual intelligence agency to determine the classification of any of the emails that they have determined need a classification placed on them. When you get into Special Access Programs, SAP’s, which there were a number of, there was a report today that even the chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee can’t read those emails. That’s true. It’s a determination made by the National Security Council at the White House. And it’s because very few people are read into those programs. And we’re going to have to wait to see this unfold. I just hope it happens quickly.
HH: Now Senator Burr, when we talk about these sorts of things, people get confused. My colleagues in the media don’t have any intelligence background. No one asked her the obvious question, which is have you received a target letter. And Chris Christie today said on this program sometimes the Bureau will come to a Congressional committee and say please don’t hold a hearing on this subject, because you will compromise our investigation. Has that happened to either of your committees?
RB: Well, let me say this, that it would be Bob Corker’s committee that would be the one that would do any oversight investigations. It would not be the Intelligence Committee. And to my knowledge, the FBI has not contacted him. Nor do I believe the FBI has talked to anybody in Congress. Hugh, this has probably been an investigation with the fewest, probably none, leaks, since the FBI began. And I think it tells you how seriously Director Comey takes this. I can’t think of a better person heading it up to get the truth. And at the end of the day, I think that’s all we want. We want the truth. We want to know if we’re compromised. And listen, when you deal with Special Access Programs, it doesn’t matter what it said on the header. If you’re talking about what was in a Special Access Program, then all the parties there know the classification of this, and they know they shouldn’t do it on a unsecure line. Very seldom do we do it unless we’re in a SCIF, meaning a room that we know eavesdropping can’t take place.
HH: Now I want to close with this. As opposed to your AP story with an unknown witness at an unknown event, I can tell you about a dinner that four people attended, one of whom was a former CIA operator at the very highest levels of the Agency who said off the record, so I won’t name him, it would be professional malpractice for the Russians, the Chinese and the Iranians not to have had her server traffic in real time. That was his opinion. He doesn’t know it for a fact, because he’s out. But it’s his opinion. Do you agree with that assessment?
RB: I would agree with that assessment, and I would say that the capabilities are not limited to the Russians and the Chinese. And all you have to do is look at the list of hackers that target the United States. And to believe that the Secretary of State wouldn’t be a target, and that as expert as they are that they wouldn’t choose the easiest route, which would be her personal communications, we’ve seen the DNI this week, last week, his personal emails were hacked. So you know, if hers weren’t, or if somebody didn’t try, then this guy was right. They ought to be, there ought to be a malpractice suit against them.
HH: Senator Richard Burr, great to have you on. Good luck. Obviously, I think you’re doing a great job at the chairmanship of the Senate Intel Committee, and continued good luck down in North Carolina. Stay out of the snow, Senator.
RB: Hugh, thank you. Take care.
HH: Thank you.
End of interview.