Senator Tom Cotton joined me this morning. Sometimes the absurdity of the left’s many narratives is best exposed by surfacing the premises of what they are insinuating. I did that with Senator Cotton:
HH: Joined now by United States Senator Tom Cotton, whom I don’t think I’ve had a chance to say Happy New Year, yet, to. Happy New Year, Senator Cotton.
TC: No, we haven’t, Hugh. Happy new Year. We missed each other last week while you were gallivanting around the Middle East with John Bolton. Welcome back.
HH: It was great fun. It was great fun. I want to go on a, whatever you call, you call them CODEL? I want to go with you one of these times. Hey, I have a very simple question based on the New York Times story on Friday. Do you, Tom Cotton, believe that Donald Trump is a Russian mole?
TC: (laughing) No, Hugh, I do not.
TC: And I think some of these stories say more about the newspapers that are printing them, or the officials in the administration opposed to the President who are leaking them. You know, Hugh, I’ll say, as I’ve told you before, the Senate Intelligence Committee has been examining in great detail what happened in the 2016 Election, and that inquiry continues. But as many Democrats on that committee have said, there’s been no evidence that demonstrates any kind of collusion between the President or his campaign and the Russian government or their intelligence services. I’d further say that if you take a look at what the President has done over the last two years to Russia and its interests, it’s kind of a strange claim to make. I mean, for years, we asked the Obama administration to provide defensive weapons to Ukraine, or get tough on Europe’s dependence on energy in Russia, or to encourage NATO, which is explicitly designed to stop Russian encroachment in Europe, to spend more money on their common defenses, to spend more money on our defense. All those things are objectively contrary to the interests of the Kremlin.
HH: And I would add that when the Russian mercenaries came over the hill in Syria, the American military had standing orders that Mattis ordered executed through Dunford, and they were wiped out. And I would add that the President is opposed to the Russian pipeline to Germany. I mean, it doesn’t, there isn’t an iota of evidence of this. But the Manchurian candidate narrative has taken hold when in fact we ought to be looking at the Seven Days in May narrative based on another story that the FBI opened a counterintelligence investigation into Donald Trump in May of 2017. Were you shocked by that, Senator Cotton?
TC: Well, I won’t necessarily credit a report that appeared in such an anti-Trump news source, Hugh. I will simply say that if it is true, it may say more about Andy McCabe, a notorious partisan who was fired from his job and is now under investigation for lying to government officials, than it says about the President.
HH: All right, let me ask you about another story. Is it unusual, in your view, for the National Security Council, specifically John Bolton, to request of the Pentagon options to deal with Iran after they attacked our embassy in Iraq, unsuccessfully, but there were leaks that senior Pentagon and State Department officials, and I don’t believe this for a second about your friend, Pompeo, the Secretary of State, were upset that John Bolton did this, and found it alarming. What do you think?
TC: Not only is it not unusual for the National Security Advisor to ask for such plans, Hugh, it would be a dereliction of his duty to fail to ask for them. And I’ve seen those reports as well. When the president of the United States, our commander-in-chief, asks for contingency plans after an enemy like Iran has launched attacks on our personnel and our diplomatic facilities, the Pentagon should be ordering up those plans immediately. Maybe the most surprising, alarming thing would be if the Pentagon didn’t already have such plans. But no, Ambassador Bolton did exactly what you would expect a National Security Advisor to do in that situation, which is to act on the President’s wishes and provide the President options. Simply because you draft plans does not mean that will execute plans. We learned that at the lowest level in the Army, and it applies at the highest levels of the Pentagon as well.
HH: Now Senator Cotton, I have a new Washington Post column just hit. 2020 will be a national security election. And it’s what I assessed after traveling, as you mentioned, with Ambassador Bolton to Israel and Ankara, that I just think the country’s got to come to grips with we have a new nuclear arms race, China is, they’re looking for the new millennium’s version of the greater East Asia co-prosperity sphere. The Middle East right now is like the Balkans before World War I. What do you think? Do you think we’re going to have a national security election that says do you want to go back to Obama era appeasement, or do you want to go forward with Reagan peace through strength doctrine?
TC: Hugh, I think our national security is the most fundamental objective of the government. And it’s always on the minds of the voters when they’re electing someone to be the commander-in-chief, and especially at a time when the world is so unstable and we face so many enemies, some of whom are acting in concert against our interests. And we’ve been able to restore some of the credible threats of deterrence that we had lost during the Obama administration. I of course believe that the American people will be focused on a president who will keep this country safe and not fight and win wars, but be tough enough to deter them from happening in the first place.
HH: Who is new on Armed Services with you, Senator Cotton?
TC: We have a whole host of new freshmen, Hugh. We have Josh Hawley, Martha McSally, Kevin Cramer, Rick Scott. On the Democratic side, they’ve added a couple of folks who have been in the Senate for a little while, but weren’t on the committee previously. Joe Manchin is back on the committee, and Tammy Duckworth is back on the committee. So we have a lot of turnover, but a lot of new members, and I’m looking forward to working with all of them.
HH: And I look forward to talking to you almost weekly, Senator Tom Cotton. You can follow him on Twitter, @SenTomCotton, and follow him every week here on the Hugh Hewitt Show.
End of interview.