HH: I’d say I was getting the band back together again, but I actually have never had on John McCain and Lindsey Graham at the same time in 15 years. Senators Graham and McCain, welcome, it’s great to have on the Hugh Hewitt show, thank you for joining me today.
JM: Well, thank you very much, Hugh, you loser, you jerk, you…
JM: You inappropriate questioner. How dare you? Listen, Hugh, if you ask any tough questions to Lindsey or me, you are a loser. You understand? I want to lay that out before we begin this interview.
HH: All right, (laughing) let’s go to this, because I’ve got 15 minutes, I’m going to miss many opportunities to go to a serious question right off the stop. You know, this deal is so bad. We’re laughing, but this deal is so bad.
HH: Is there any way to stop it? And I’ll let John McCain, senior man in the area, take the first swing at the pinata that is the Iran deal.
JM: First of all, it is a disaster. It is the worst agreement of our lifetime, in my view. And it’s reminiscent, it is reminiscent of Munich. But I don’t know of any way we can, except the next president of the United States, Lindsey Graham, and others, but Lindsey specifically, to say, I think what he’s going to say is the day he is inaugurated will be the day when that agreement is nullified.
HH: Now Senator Graham, your colleague, Ted Cruz, sent a letter to the leadership saying we should make it clear to everyone who’s thinking about doing business with Iran that Corker-Cardin has not been complied with, and the sanctions are not lifted. What do you think of that assessment and that approach?
LG: Well, at the end of the day, the waiver authority that the president has in the current statute is probably going to be honored by most of the world. So at the end of the day, I’m going to do two things. I’m going to cut off all funding, if I can, to the International Atomic Energy Association, $88 million dollars of your money, taxpayer dollars, until we see the side agreement. But John’s right. It’s an agreement, not a treaty, so the next president is not bound by it. So any Republican running who’s got any doubt about whether or not they would honor this agreement, you don’t understand that why you shouldn’t honor it is it’s a death sentence to Israel, and you’re giving the Ayatollah $100 billion dollars to fund terrorist organizations to hit us. So the way you stop this agreement is to elect a president who won’t honor it.
HH: Last week when I talked to you, a lot of people…
HH: Go ahead, Senator.
JM: Could I just add one salient point? This is the first ratification of any agreement or treaty in modern history that is on a pure party line basis. That is disgraceful. Go ahead. I’m sorry.
HH: Now the question for both of you is you could force a vote if you used the Reid rule to break the filibuster. I asked Senator Graham about this earlier. He is not for doing that. But Senator McCain, what do you think about it?
JM: I think it would set a dangerous precedent, but frankly, I am in favor of exploring it. The seriousness of the impact of this agreement, I think, deserves us, argues for us to look at any possible option that we can.
JM: I’m not sure I want to change the rules of the Senate, because we won’t always be in the majority.
HH: That is news, though, that you’re at least open to the argument, because it is a category of one. There has never been any kind of a deal like this before, and it will haunt future generations once the bomb is in Iran’s hands. So it is sort of a category of one. When are you going to make up your mind on that, Senator?
JM: Soon, but I do want to say that I argued strenuously against what Harry Reid did. And so it would be, there would be some certain charges, legitimately, of me being a hypocrite if I’m willing to go back and use that for my own purposes. You see what I mean, Hugh?
HH: Yeah, though…
JM: I’ve got to be consistent.
HH: The era is dark enough, though. It’s sort of like the 30s, and Lindsey Graham, is this deal, are the opponents of the deal overstating the devastating consequences of it?
LG: Not at all. And you’ve got the most radical regime on the planet, the largest state sponsor of terrorism, with a track record of destabilizing the Mid-East in an unprecedented way. They tweet the day before we vote we’re going to destroy Israel in 25 years. It’s a theocracy driven by a religious doctrine that would require to purify Islam, destroy the one and only Jewish state, attack Western democracies, because we’re infidels. To say that this is not the most catastrophic change in the Mid-East in modern times, or maybe ever, is just to not understand the Ayatollah. This is a miscalculation of historic proportions. At least Hitler lied to Chamberlain. The Ayatollah is telling you the day before you vote, I intend to destroy Israel no matter what you say about this deal keeping Israel safe. I intend to destroy them within 25 years. So it’s a horrible deal for us and Israel.
HH: Quick question before the break, Senator McCain. Are your colleagues across the aisle looking at their shoes? Are they embarrassed by this?
JM: Did you see the statements? Oh, this is a really bad deal, really a bad deal, really a bad deal, really a bad deal, but I’m going to vote for it. Help me out. I think this is going to be, have, this vote is going to have bigger impact than the Obamacare vote did, because the repercussions of this are going to be with us for years.
HH: For decades. I’ll be right back with Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham. Don’t go anywhere, America.
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HH: It brings me to the question of refugees, and I introduce it this way. Hadassah Lieberman, the spouse of your good friend, Joe Lieberman, grew up, of all places, in the town of Gardner, Massachusetts, which is hardly a hot spot of Judaism. But that’s where her parents were resettled when they were refugees. What do you two think we ought to be doing with this wave of refugees?
JM: Let me start. America has always welcomed refugees, but I think we want to be careful about it, to start with, because if I were the ISIS guys, I might be infiltrating, Hugh, young men into this group that’s trying to get into the United States of America. Second of all, I’m not against taking some refugees. I’m not for taking a flood of them. But more importantly than that, let’s stop what is causing it, and that is a feckless, failed foreign policy of this president of the United States, of which there is no strategy to defeat the enemy, which is causing all this, which is the reason why it’s happened. Let’s identify the cause and go after ISIS and kill Baghdadi, and kill people, and then let’s seriously address those that need asylum in the United States of America.
HH: Senator Graham, last week when we talked, you said ask the other candidates, and I’ve been doing so, about sending 10,000 American troops as part of a regional force to push back in Syria and bring order out of chaos. There is very little support among the Republicans I’ve spoken to for that, and you must know that. How are you going to persuade people to that point of view, either as president or as a senior member of the United States Senate?
LG: If you’re not persuaded of the fact that Syria is hell on Earth, it’s going to affect our national security, it’s going to affect our allies, the King of Jordan, affecting Lebanon in historic proportions, becomes the next launching pad for 9/11. The next 9/11 is coming from Syria. And if you don’t have a plan to destroy, don’t say you want to destroy ISIL if you don’t have a plan. So one thing I don’t want Republicans to do is be Barack Obama – say things that really don’t make sense or you don’t mean. I’m going to destroy ISIL. I’m literally going to destroy them if I’m the president of the United States. There is no way in hell to destroy ISIL without a ground component in Iraq and Syria. There’s nobody left, Hugh, to fight in Syria. Everybody is leaving Syria. You need a regional army who has an interest. ISIL is a threat to the region. Assad is a threat to all of the Arabs. There’s an alignment of interest here. So please tell me, to those who don’t like us being part of a regional force, what are you going to do to destroy ISIL? How will you get it done?
HH: Now the complicating factor, and both of you know how complicating it is, Vladimir Putin is sending troops into Syria.
HH: It’s like a bad nightmare.
HH: It’s like the 1970s all over again.
LG: And can I just interject there? A year after we declared, Obama said we’re going to degrade and destroy ISIL, John and I had a news conference. A year later, the strongest power inside of Iraq is Shiia militias controlled by Iran. A year later, Russia is all in for Assad. Iran is more influential than ever. They’re going to have $100 billion dollars after this bill to wreak havoc on the Mid-East. Syria is completely falling apart. ISIL is stronger than ever. So a year after the declaration to degrade and destroy, look at what’s happening, and all I can say about, you know, destroying ISIL, is if we don’t, they’re going to hit us here. What did al-Baghdadi say when he was turned over to the Iraqis under an American colonel? See you in New York.
HH: Senator McCain, what about Russians, though? When you send, now, American proxies, there are Russians there.
JM: It’s inevitable when you have failed leadership. When you’re trying to suck up to Vladimir Putin to the degree where you’ll just about agree to most anything, remember tell Vladimir I’ll be more flexible when I’m reelected?
JM: This is a dramatic escalation. And what is the reaction of the United States? John Kerry calls up Lavrov and complains. We are a paper tiger. Did you know that for the first time in history, when Barack Obama was in Alaska, five Chinese warships show up and penetrate the 12 mile limit? You think that was a coincidence? I’m telling you, the great America is perceived as weak and unwilling to engage, and all of them are taking advantage of it. And again, I’d like to just say ask, the next time you ask those candidates that are unwilling to send an additional force of American troops, not a big force, but the 10,000 that Lindsey and I are talking about, how are they going to stop ISIL? How will they, and do they believe that ISIL is losing? And by the way, I’m sure it’s time for another time, but this intelligence failure now, the allegations that they’re cooking the books on intelligence reports?
HH: I saw the Marine Corps general was up there from the DIA yesterday saying they’re looking into it. But that was not, it didn’t quiet your fears?
JM: Hey, Hugh, oh, they’re looking into it? Okay, no problem.
JM: That takes care of that.
LG: Hey, Hugh, can I say one thing about Russia?
HH: Yes, please.
LG: Do you agree with me that if Assad stays in power, you can never repair Syria, because the Syrian people don’t accept him as their legitimate leader. That’s what started this whole mess. 230,000 have been slaughtered by his forces. He’s a puppet of Iran, so the region’s not going to accept him as a legitimate leader. So with Assad staying in power, Syria never gets fixed, or it never gets stabilized. So here’s what I tell the Russians. We’re going to do two things. We’re going to destroy ISIL, because it’s a threat to our homeland and our way of life, and to our allies, and Assad is going to leave, because without that, you can’t stabilize the region. And if you want to fight for Assad, you’re welcome to do so.
HH: And my last question. I’m going to…
JM: And by the way, we’re going to give defensive weapons so the Ukrainians can stop the slaughtering of them.
HH: And my last question goes to Senator McCain, because I get to ask Senator Graham questions on Wednesday night. Is politics collapsing, because it’s a free for all on the Republican side, on the Democratic side, former Secretary of State Clinton could be indicted, you’ve got Joe Biden on the high wire, you’ve got Bernie Sanders drawing 14,000 people for silly socialism speeches. You were the nominee of the party eight years ago. Is politics collapsing in this country?
JM: I don’t know if the word is collapsed, but certainly the American people and voters are unhappy with Washington. They’re unhappy with the slowness of the recovery. They are unhappy with what’s happening in the world, and they have lost confidence, obviously, in Washington. And a lot of that is understandable. A lot of it is demagoguery. But, so, but also, I think that over time, a lot of this will sort itself out. I don’t think Hillary Clinton is going to be able to disentangle herself from, you know, everybody says get it all out there, get it all out there. Yeah, you want to get it all out there unless you’re guilty.
JM: And in the case of the Republicans, I think they’ll sort it out over time. I still have confidence in the people of New Hampshire, who play a very key role. And I still believe that Lindsey Graham is an extremely viable and strong candidate, because the national security issues are becoming more and more important to American voters, and nobody knows them like Lindsey Graham does.
HH: Senators McCain and Graham, thank you for joining me today. Senator Graham, I’ll see you at the Reagan Library in three days.
End of interview.