Senator Tom Cotton joined me this morning:
HH: Joined by United States Senator Tom Cotton. Good morning, Senator, great to have you.
TC: Good morning, Hugh. Good to be on with you, as always.
HH: First, I have a few quick questions. Have you called on the President to fire Special Counsel Mueller?
TC: No, Hugh, I have not.
HH: Have you called on the President to fire Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein?
TC: No, Hugh.
HH: Are you aware of any senator who has done so?
TC: Not to my knowledge. Well, I haven’t taken stock of all my 49 Democratic friends, but not to my knowledge that any Republican has.
HH: Would your advice to the President be not to fire Special Counsel Mueller?
TC: What I have said all along about both Special Counsel Mueller as well as my committee, the Senate Intelligence Committee, the House Intelligence Committee, the Judiciary Committee is it’s best for everyone involved, the President, the Congress, the American people, for all of these matters to follow the facts wherever they may take us, reach the logical conclusion of those facts, do so as quickly as possible and make as much information as public as possible consistent with the dictates of classified intelligence.
HH: So Senator Cotton, why are Democrats and members of the media gaslighting the country about threats to Mr. Mueller and Mr. Rosenstein that do not exist?
TC: It’s a good question, Hugh. It’s probably in part because they don’t have any real agenda on which they can prepare for this midterm election. You know, I was just home this past weekend. Hundreds of folks came out to an event on Saturday night. Not a single one asked questions or made comments about those topics. They asked questions and made a lot of comments about the tax bill and paychecks increases they’re going to get when withholdings are down this month, about the end of the Obamacare mandates, about what we’re going to do on immigration and about the threat we face from North Korea. Not a single question about these kind of things, though. It’s the Democrats and the media in Washington are kind of living in a bubble obsessed about these things.
HH: Now Senator, you are a graduate of Harvard and Harvard Law School, and the latter is a rather exotic place. I’m not sure what they teach. They teach corporate law at Michigan. Do they teach corporate law at Harvard Law? Did you take it there?
TC: I took one or two classes there in corporate law. Yeah, Hugh.
HH: Now what is the consequence of a material omission of fact in a public offering or a quarterly report to those who prepared the documents?
TC: Well, Hugh, I think I see where you’re going with this. In the memorandum that Chairman Nunes drafted and was released last week, I’ll just say that some of the Democrats who are minimizing the contents of that memorandum would be screaming bloody murder if it was the CEO and board of, say, Wells Fargo that engaged in a material omission of fact from their SEC filings. That’s obviously a serious matter, and we should take things seriously whether it happens from a private corporation or whether a handful of senior FBI leaders may have engaged in that kind of material misstatement or omission of fact.
HH: Now I have got a Washington Post op-ed out on this, this morning, and I point out there is a footnote, and Devin Nunes has pointed out there’s a footnote that said some of the material came from political sources. That’s like saying you’ve got supply chain problems in South American when in fact Venezuela has seized your factories. Those are not the same thing, are they, Senator?
TC: Those two things in your example are different, Hugh, and I do believe if everything is born out that senior FBI officials merely characterized as politically-motivated something they knew was paid for and advanced by the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee. That is not the same thing, and they ought to have been more forthcoming. Furthermore, the FBI apparently in the late days of the 2016 election, had concluded that Christopher Steele, the former MI6 officer, was no longer reliable, because he was out kind of spreading as much news, sometimes it looks like that news might have been disinformation from Russian intelligence, to media sources, to Yahoo or Mother Jones or what have you. They cut ties with him. It’s unclear whether or not they made that known to the FISA Court as well. Again, that’s why I say it’s important, in my opinion, that all these matters follow the facts where they lead, and that we make as much public as we can for the American people so they can have confidence in the processes that often happen behind closed doors in Washington.
HH: Let me play for you Adam Schiff on George Stephanopoulos on Sunday talking about the consequences of the Nunes memo.
AS: Well, I don’t think it’s working in the sense that people have a lot of confidence in Bob Mueller. But it is impeaching the FBI. And the problem with this, and this is, I think, at the heart of the department’s concern, is if you have a neighbor who is buying fertilizer, lots of fertilizer but has no yard, and you have concerns about it, and you want to call the FBI, you’re now going to wonder is that FBI going to hold my name in confidence or this information in confidence? What if this becomes politicized? Sources are going to dry up.
HH: Senator Cotton, your reaction to that?
TC: Oh, Hugh, that’s just silly. It’s melodramatic and theatrical. Simply calling into question the actions or decision of a small handful of senior FBI officials in a particular matter does nothing to impeach the integrity of an institution that’s got over 30,000 officers involved in it. I know the front line agents in Arkansas. I occasionally visit their offices so I can review classified materials. I have good friends who are in the FBI. And calling into question the judgment of a handful of senior officers on a particular matter no more impeaches the institution than say holding a private accountable who’s misbehaved in the Army impeaches the integrity of the Army.
HH: Well said. Senator Cotton, always a pleasure to talk to you. I’ll talk to you again next week.
End of interview.