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Transcript: Rep. Pete Aguilar on "Face the Nation," Dec. 4, 2022

Aguilar: McCarthy catering to "MAGA extremists"
Aguilar says McCarthy catering to "MAGA extremists" to secure votes for speaker 06:55

The following is a transcript of an interview with Democratic Rep. Pete Aguilar of California that aired Sunday, Dec. 4, 2022, on "Face the Nation."

MARGARET BRENNAN: We're joined now by California congressman Pete Aguilar, the new number three Democrat in the House. Good to have you here. You are the highest ranking Latino in congressional history. That is historic in this new job. It's generational shift for Democrats in January. But as you go into the minority, you also have less experienced leadership. What does that mean? Because this is going to be a knife fight over the next two years with Republicans?

REP. PETE AGUILAR: Well, first of all, just how far we've come. And it's not lost on me the significance of of being in this chair at this moment, with Hakeem Jeffries and Katherine Clark. But we're also going to be benefiting from the leadership of Jim Clyburn at the leadership table. And, and Nancy Pelosi and Steny Hoyer will be members of Congress. So we're going to continue to do what's right for the American public. That's - that's our number one message.

MARGARET BRENNAN: We're going to talk substance in a moment. Stay with us. We have to pay the bills with this commercial break. One moment.


MARGARET BRENNAN: Welcome back to Face The Nation. We want to continue our conversation with California congressman Pete Aguilar. I had to cut you off. I apologize for that. I want to pick up where we left off. You are now finishing up this lame duck session before you move into this leadership role. We're seeing the focus really just being on keeping the government funded. As part of that, will you be able to put in the hundreds of millions of dollars that so many mayors are asking for to shore up border security in the next few weeks. You're from California. So a number of California mayors wrote this letter this past week.

AGUILAR: I'm not familiar with the letter. I'm a member of the Homeland Security appropriations committee, though, I can tell you, these are conversations that we continue to have with our Republican colleagues each and every year as part of the regular order of the appropriations process. The number one goal is to fund government. And we're going to have to rely on reasonable Republicans to help us do that, because so much is at stake. Just in your segment earlier, Mike Turner talked about the Ukraine funding, and I appreciate his willingness to meet us and to talk about the importance of Ukraine funding. But there are so many Republicans who are tied to this MAGA extremism who are talking about putting conditions on Ukrainian aid. We can't have that. That's the reason why we have to have reasonable budgets. And an important point of why we have to have this time right now we need to have government funding. And we look forward to working with Republicans to get that done.

MARGARET BRENNAN: This specific request was for $500 million for FEMA and $300 million for humanitarian assistance because of this concern about Title 42 lifting at the end of this month. You don't know –


AGUILAR: We need to do everything we can to make sure that our border communities are taken care of. We had to do that previously. And we appreciate the Administration and Homeland Security are doing everything that they can to give humanitarian aids and grants to those communities to make sure that they could deal - deal with those effects. It's important for us, there are so many ways that we can be helpful. And on the heels of the Trump administration separating children from parents, we appreciate the Biden administration coming in and being so thoughtful about how they do this, but it's going to it's going to be a process. And we look forward to working with our local government and state allies to do it. 

MARGARET BRENNAN: So also in the lame duck, you are continuing to serve on this January 6 Committee, which is coming to an end at the end of the month. Your colleague Zoe Lofgren was on this program a few weeks ago, and she said "all the evidence for good or ill" will be out within the month. When? How? When will we know when you've come to a conclusion?

AGUILAR: Well, I'm not going to get in front of Zoe Lofgren if she wants to tell you that. But I can tell you that Chairman Bennie Thompson, Vice Chair, Liz Cheney, we're all committed to the transparency of this process, to putting out a fulsome report that talks about the facts and circumstances about what happened on January 6. And Zoe Lofgren also talked, has talked about and Adam Kinzinger has talked about, there are important things that we have learned along the way, within January 6, that we feel should be shared to the American public. And so we're going to do that - we're going to do it in a thoughtful way. Members are working each and every day editing and looking at the documents that we will be putting out in accordance with House rules. We're preserving the important documents, and we're going to be transparent about this process. The American public will see a full report.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Okay. Will the Justice Department get all the underlying documents Merrick Garland said at a press release-  at a press conference earlier in the week that they'd like to get hold of your evidence.

REP. AGUILAR: We look forward to the Department of Justice and the American public seeing all of the work that we have done, and that includes transcripts and documents.


AGUILAR: Soon. Very soon, Margaret, and I think in the next couple of weeks, but clearly our- our committee ends on January 2, and so we're going to do this this month and put this information out.

MARGARET BRENNAN:  Do you personally believe that at this point there is enough evidence to send a criminal referral to the Justice Department regarding the former president?

AGUILAR: I'm not going to get ahead of what our report may or may not say.


MARGARET BRENNAN: Congressman Schiff and Cheney have said that.

AGUILAR: Yeah - I think I think the evidence is pretty clear. I think we laid out a case to the American public, who is responsible, who is primarily responsible for whipping up that crowd sending them to the Capitol, and people's lives being endangered and Capitol police officers losing their lives. I think it's pretty clear, based on the evidence, based on the hearings that we've done, who was responsible. But right now we're to the point, we have a couple of weeks remaining here. And we're going to have more to say the committee is going to have more to say on this through our documents and through our public releases. So I don't want to get ahead of that.

MARGARET BRENNAN: The possibly incoming Speaker of the House, Kevin McCarthy has vowed to hold hearings about why the Capitol Complex wasn't secure on January 6, and he has faulted your committee for not focusing enough on this. How do you respond to that question of why there isn't more of a focus on security breakdowns?

AGUILAR: If and when that individual becomes the possible Speaker and can count the votes to get there. I have my - I have my doubts. We stand willing for anybody to stand the test of time and to look at the history of the documents of what we've put forward. But we are talking about security, we are talking about what happened that day. I think that what's happening is Kevin McCarthy has to do anything he can to appease the MAGA extremists within his party. He's trying to count to 218. If that means sending subpoenas to the committee members, if that means being tough to committee members, that's what he has to do right now because he's practically auctioning off real estate in the Capitol in order to secure the votes.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, he is also one of the people that your committee has asked to come speak and share information . He has refused to do so. Jim Jordan, also potentially in a leadership role has refused to do so. What consequences do you think there should be? Should there be criminal referrals? I don't even know if you can do that. Can you?

AGUILAR: No, that's not our, that's not our intent. What we wanted to lay out to the American public is that those individuals, Jim Jordan, and Kevin McCarthy are fact witnesses to the events that happen. They talked to the president multiple times on that day. There's information that they can share. There's information that they shared on national TV and to their own colleagues in that moment. The fact that they don't want to share it to us so we can put together a fulsome report just shows that they aren't unbiased. And so that's why there's a little smirk when you asked me about Kevin McCarthy and January 6, because he's someone who hasn't been completely honest about what he knows and what happened that day.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Congressman, congratulations on the historic achievement. I know you said it means a lot for your family and for people back home. And I do want to acknowledge being the first is a big deal.

AGUILAR: Thank you so much. I appreciate it, Margaret.

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