House Benghazi Select Committee member Congressman Mike Pompeo joined me on today’s show to talk about the next stage in the Committee’s work. Mr. Blumenthal, call your lawyer’s office please.
HH: Joined now by Congressman Mike Pompeo from Kansas’ 4th Congressional District. You should be following the Congressman on Twitter, @RepMikePompeo. Last week, though, he was talking tall about the Shockers. I don’t think we’re going to hear much about that this week.
MP: We’re just hoping we can keep our coach.
HH: Well, that’s true. They’ve got to be coming after him. Let me ask you, though, I’ve been asking everyone about the Final Four. We’ve got Darth Vader’s led Kentucky, right? They’re the evil empire. We have Luke Skywalker, Wisconsin, we have the Princess Leiaites over at Michigan State, and we have Han Solo in Coach K. Who wins this all?
MP: I’m going to go with Michigan State.
HH: You’re going to go with Princess Leia?
MP: You know, if you’ve got to choose, you’ve got to choose.
HH: Okay, okay. So Mike Pompeo, let’s get serious. I know you guys can’t talk a lot about this, but the former Secretary of State wiping the data clean and not giving you the servers, geez, back in my day, we called that obstruction of justice. What do you guys call it?
MP: So it’s very disturbing. We’ve got lots of questions, frankly. And every time we ask a question, we end up describing ten more. Now, we still don’t know the timing of exactly when it was that she wiped her server clean, what was motivating that, what requests were outstanding for documents, so the list is pretty long. And I always try and keep at the forefront in everyone’s mind this is important, because we’ve got four dead Americans who died in Benghazi that night. And we need to understand the full scope of what was going on with the Libya policy, and then the security situation that evening. Lots of questions.
HH: There’s more than Benghazi. And believe, me, I know the widow of one of the four men who were killed that night, so I’m concerned about them. But I’m also concerned about the national security of the United States. If Sidney Blumenthal is sending private emails to her, that makes him an agent of influence who could be easily manipulated. You know this stuff from the Intelligence Committee. I know it from my time at the Department of Justice and the White House. If you are sending in classified information, you are a target for being turned, not even knowingly, into an agent of disinformation. I mean, how do we get to the bottom of this?
MP: We’ve got to ask a lot of folks a lot of questions. The Committee will also speak with Mr. Blumenthal. And we’ve got lots of other folks who we’re still pursuing, who may well have also had personal email accounts. And your point, Hugh, is very well taken. It’s not just classified information. It is, there’s sensitive information that was sent along these communications lines that weren’t secured sufficiently, we all know the Chinese, the Iranians, pick a terror group with all of that enormous instance in that, we can’t be sure of exactly where these emails are. We just know at this point we don’t have them.
HH: Now Jeb Bush was in studio on Monday, and he said he’s putting his trust in Trey Gowdy, and by extension, you and your other colleagues on there. I don’t know that we have a timeline. I don’t even know if it’s fair to expect a timeline now, because the level of confusion and obstruction grows. But what in your mind does the next couple of months look like?
MP: You know, Hugh, you and I spoke about this a couple of months back, and I was telling you we hope to have this wrapped up by end of summer, early fall. That’s no longer likely to be realistic. The next couple months include getting lots of folks in for interviews. We’ve now done a couple dozen in the last few weeks. We have a couple more dozen scheduled, and then we’ll start having some hearings as well. And we hope, we’ve asked Secretary Clinton to appear before us related to this email issue by May 1st. At least as of this morning, we’ve not heard back from Mr. Kendall. But I’m hopeful we can have that…it’s just limited to discovery, right? It’s limited to our ability to figure out what documents exist. And I hope we can do that in the next couple of weeks. If we can get to that point, we can begin to identify what the full timeline may end up looking like.
HH: Now Congressman Pompeo, when you interview someone, or committee staff interviews someone, does the False Statements Act apply? Are they subject to criminal penalty if they lie to you?
MP: Any time someone’s making a statement in their capacity as a federal official in the setting of a federal inquiry, they have an obligation to tell the truth. And some of these are to be conducted in what, a more formal deposition, some of them in an interview process. If there is information that is important in those sessions, we will need to convert them to the format to put them on the record eventually.
HH: Now this is really tall grass, but I don’t know the answer. You probably do. What is the statute of limitations on 18USC1001 violation, and when does it begin to run – date of discovery of the falsehood, or upon date of the statement?
MP: You know, I don’t know the answer to that, Hugh. I should know, but it’s been too long.
HH: Yeah, the reason I ask is because a bunch of people are going to rely on this Department of Justice to dummy up and not do anything. And if it’s a one year statute from the date of the statement, they’re safe.
MP: If that were the case, it was true. But my guess is there are lots of laws and provisions that would apply, and I can assure you if we find evidence that that’s the case, if we’ve got data that supports it, we will make sure that this Department of Justice has all the information relevant to the inquiry.
HH: Do you have confidence in this Department? I mean, this is a very serious question that goes to the problem with D.C. right now, is I have no confidence in the United States Department of Justice. The indictment of Bob Menendez today, I don’t know whether to believe if that’s payback for the Iran sanctions bill or if he’s genuinely corrupt. I mean, I’ve lost confidence in the Department of Justice, which is actually, I don’t think, if it has any precedent at all, it’s during Watergate. And then, it was a pretty significant political fallout thereafter.
MP: It’s deeply troubling. As you’ll recall exactly, you remember the Saturday night massacre, right?
MP: That’s precisely what happened with that Department of Justice. Look, I’m on record from the time of Fast & Furious thinking that Mr. Holder was not the right person to lead this Justice Department, and I continue to believe that.
HH: All right, earlier today, your former colleague, now your colleague across the Congress in the Senate, Tom Cotton, was on with Wolf Blitzer talking about when are we going to walk away from these Iranian nuclear talks. What’s Mike Pompeo think?
MP: I don’t know when they’re going to. We should have walked away from them an awfully long time ago. And it is remarkable I’m actually going to be traveling to the area here in the next week and a half, and I know what we’ll find. We will find Iranian influence everywhere, whether it’s Damascus or the Gaza Strip, to Sana’a now extending into Tikrit and surrounds. This is deeply troubling. And at the same time, we’re implicitly negotiating a deal with someone who has promised to kill us and is intent on lying.
HH: Are you going to have a chance to meet with the president, formerly general Al-Sisi in Egypt?
MP: I don’t know that we’re going to get a chance to do that. I met with him not terribly long ago. I read today that the administration has now lifted the embargo on providing support to Egypt. I hope that’s the case. But it remains to be seen whether we’re going to do all we need to do to support a leader now who is practically taking on Islamic terrorism in a way that our president refuses to do.
HH: So Mike Pompeo, as you look forward over the next two years, you won the Defense vote. We got the extra money. The anti-Defense deficit hawks number no more than 15 or 16. Martha McSally voted against it, but I bet she voted against it because it wasn’t big enough. But do you feel like people are getting serious again about Defense appropriations?
MP: I’ll speak to the folks I know the best, the folks that on our side of the aisle in the House. There’s no doubt about that. There is a deep recognition of the scope of the threat facing America from a national security perspective. The challenge that our Army and our Navy and Air Force and Marines provide, I was actually up at West Point the day before yesterday with some young cadets. They’re amazing leaders, and they deserve our full support. I think our party is coalescing around that support.
HH: Mike Pompeo, it’s always a pleasure, safe travels to you, we’ll talk to you when you get back.
MP: Thank you.
HH: And Wisconsin’s the champion of the United States when it comes to the NCAA’s, and I actually don’t think the Princess Leia Sparties are going to get past Coach K. and Han Solo.
End of interview.