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Transcript: Rep. Tony Gonzales on "Face the Nation," March 26, 2023

Gonzales on Trump visit
Gonzales says he welcomes any "serious candidate" who comes to Texas in wake of Trump visit 06:43

The following is a transcript of an interview with Rep. Tony Gonzales, Republican of Texas, that aired on "Face the Nation" on Sunday, March 26, 2023.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And we're joined now by Texas Republican Congressman Tony Gonzales. It's great to have you here, Congressman, in-person.

REP. TONY GONZALES: Yeah, thank you for having me.

MARGARET BRENNAN: I want to start the conversation we're just having here because this is your home state of Texas where the former president spoke last night. When he walked on stage. He played a recording made by some of those who are being prosecuted for attacking the Capitol on January 6. He also had footage seeming to glorify the attack that day. He's calling for protests. He said things like death and destruction if he's indicted. I know you've supported him in the past. Do you support statements like this?

REP. GONZALES: Look, January 6, was a terrible day, we have to make sure that never happens again. I certainly was here at the Capitol keeping- keeping folks from- from getting on to the House floor, but it was great to have President Trump back in Texas. And it was a reminder that Trump's policies, President Trump's policies worked. And right now we're in a time where Biden- Biden is failing us. And so you know, I welcome any serious presidential candidate to come to Texas, see it firsthand, in particular, come see the border.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So you had endorsed the former president back in November 2022. Do I understand what you just said means you're also open to other candidates?

REP. GONZALES: So I haven't met with President Trump yet. I look forward to meeting with President Trump. But right now, I'm focused on securing this border. And I think that's a key part to it.

MARGARET BRENNAN: I just want to button this up, because I hear what you're saying in terms of policy and substance but what the former President was talking about was not policy or substance. Don't you see some danger from- from lionizing those who are being prosecuted for breaking the law and attacking the place where you and other lawmakers work? Isn't that part of it, something that must give you pause?

REP. GONZALES: The rhetoric is absolutely out of control on both sides, on all sides. But I'd also see, you know, I see President Trump honestly being attacked, being demonized on all these different fronts. You know, things that are happening to him in regards to the classified documentation, similar- similar things happen to President Biden, you don't see those things. I think a lot of people are done with the political rhetoric, they want solutions, and whichever presidential candidate is going to bring real solutions to their lives is going to get their vote.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So I hear that you still support him. It's interesting, because you are such an independent voice within the Republican Party. I mean, you've stood apart from your party and a number of things on this program, you've taken stands. You supported expansion of background checks, the Texas GOP censored you because of your support for gay marriage, a bold vote. Other things regarding immigration. But this is a line that you feel you can't cross when it comes to criticizing what the former president did, with lionizing January 6 attackers?

REP. GONZALES: I spent 20 years in the Navy. I'm a retired Navy Master Chief, I'm always going to fight for what I believe is right. And what I see right now is people are fed up with the environment that is happening. They're fed up with the rhetoric, they're tired of inflation, they're tired of the border crisis. They're tired of the national security policy, and they want real action and whoever delivers that for them, is going to get their vote. Whether that's President Trump or anyone else, so I think that's the part people are missing out on.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Including those who attacked law enforcement as they did on that day that- that part has to bother you?

REP. GONZALES: Look, January 6 should never happen. And those that are- that have found wrong for doing that, they need to be held to the highest standard. I absolutely agree with that.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, they were singing last night as the walk on song for the former President of the United States. 17 of the 20 inmates held in that jail were accused of assaulting law enforcement.

REP. GONZALES: Yeah look– 

MARGARET BRENNAN: But, that's the walk-on song.  

REP. GONZALES: –there is- there is no room for anyone that assaults law enforcement, right? Similar to what happened in- in Oregon or anywhere else throughout our country. We have to absolutely be- surround our law enforcement and ensure they have the toughest job right now. You have to get it right every single time. So, now's not the time to attack law enforcement.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Okay. Well, let's talk about the border and law enforcement there. In your district Friday, there was this horrific case of these two migrants found dead, others suffocating to death in this train. Secretary Mayorkas blamed smugglers. Do you have any idea where these migrants are coming from and how they passed undetected?

REP. GONZALES: Yeah, Margaret. Sadly, this isn't a new issue for any of us that live in Texas' 23rd district. So, Knippa happens all the time. Hondo is another city where this happens regularly. Uvalde, Valley Eagle Pass. This has been ongoing for a couple of years now. Just last week, just last week in Ozona, Texas, small little town out in West Texas, there was a smuggler that came through town and killed- they killed a woman, a grandmother and her granddaughter. So every day someone is dying–

MARGARET BRENNAN: So what's the bipartisan effort to deal with this issue at the border? Republicans still haven't put forward their proposal with a budget. What is it you're asking for?

REP. GONZALES: I'm asking for a border package that focuses on securing the border and an immigration package that focuses on legal immigration. Both the Republican Party and the Democratic Party often get it wrong when they focus on illegal immigration and I'm gonna do everything in my power, whether it's the buck my own party or buck the other party, to be able to say we have to have real tangible solutions. HR 29 is a prime example, this Border Safety and Security Act, it does anything but secure the border. So guess what? That bill in particular, it's dead. There's no way it's going to get on the floor. I'm gonna do everything in my power to prevent that because in my district, people are dying. And we need real solutions, not political rhetoric.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, talking about political rhetoric, you've said this, that there are people who have interest in making this crisis flare up. Dan Crenshaw, recently urged the Biden Administration to initiate military action against cartels. James Comer said President Trump should have bombed drug labs. Lindsey Graham, senator from South Carolina, demanded U.S. forces destroy drug labs. None of that sounds serious. That's- that's the Republican policy option that deals with the things you say are important.

REP. GONZALES: I spent 20 years in the Navy, I spent five years in Iraq and Afghanistan, I fought in two wars, I know what war looks like. I hate war, I want to prevent war– 

MARGARET BRENNAN: And not bomb drug labs?

REP. GONZALES: and not not do these things. But, part of it is rolling up your sleeves and going to work. Just last week, I gave Senator John Cornyn a lot of credit. He put together this congressional delegation, 12 members, six Republicans, five Democrats and an independent.  We traveled to Mexico City last week- last weekend, we met with the president of Mexico and we had a four hour dialogue, four hour discussion. That is how you solve problems. Now I look at it, that's the State Department's job and the State Department isn't doing their job. But, Congress can't just point fingers, we can't just please blame. We are an equal body and we got to roll up our sleeves and find solutions.

MARGARET BRENNAN: We'll stay tuned and stay in touch with you on that, look for those solutions. Congressman, thank you for coming in today.

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