Transcript: Rep. Eliot Engel on "Face the Nation," October 6, 2019

Engel: Pompeo not complying with impeachment inquiry

The following is a transcript of an interview with Representative Eliot Engel that aired Sunday, October 6, 2019, on "Face the Nation."


MARGARET BRENNAN: We're back now with New York Democratic Congressman Eliot Engel. He chairs the House Foreign Affairs Committee, one of the three committees leading the impeachment inquiry and he's in New York this morning. Good morning to you Congressman.

REPRESENTATIVE ELIOT ENGEL: Good morning, Margaret. 

MARGARET BRENNAN: Secretary of State Pompeo yesterday said that Congress has harassed and abused his State Department team by contacting diplomats rather than their lawyers first. Is- is he complying with your inquiry?

REP. ENGEL: Well, he's not complying with the inquiry so far. We're- we're hoping there are discussions that are ongoing and we're hoping that he will comply. Although it's- it's kind of laughable, you know, since the administration's and Trump has been president, we have been getting numerous complaints from people who work at the State Department about all kinds of harassment by this administration where people were summarily let go or fired because they- they were deemed to be the wrong political persuasion or the wrong ethnic persuasion. There were all kinds of things. So I find it really laughable that the secretary of state suddenly has this great concern for the State Department when he's done anything but since he's been secretary of state. 

MARGARET BRENNAN: So you will this week have the chance, or- or  your committee members will, to question a number of diplomats. The EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland, he- U- Ukraine's not part of the EU. Why was he part of this text message exchange? Why is he part of these arrangements to line up meetings for Rudy Giuliani and Ukrainian leaders?

REP. ENGEL: Well that's- that's a good question. And if I had my druthers, Ukraine would be a part of the European Union and even would be a part of NATO. That's why the president's reckless actions are a threat to national security because what we're doing, what he attempted to do, was withhold much needed aid for Ukraine. Ukraine is under constant threat by Russia. I- I know the president has a- has a habit of wanting to please Putin, but the fact of the matter is, we should- we do everything we can to strengthen Ukraine. Not threaten them, not withhold money, not tell them to play political games. And the president just doesn't seem to care. I- I- Putin interfered in the- in the 2016 election and now the president thinks it's fine to- to do his bidding for the 2020 election--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Is your- is your-- 

REP. ENGEL: --people of Ukraine--

MARGARET BRENNAN: impeachment inquiry-- 

REP. ENGEL: -deserve better.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Is your impeachment inquiry going to expand beyond Ukraine?

REP. ENGEL: Well, I don't know. We'll have to just see the way it goes. I think there's frankly plenty enough material that we have right now. Our- our- our elections are- are really integral. And- and the fact of the matter is that the president says to- to the leader of Ukraine do us a favor though--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Yeah--  

REP. ENGEL: Mix in what the president really doesn't own. It's the- the- the- it's the country that- that- that owns it and he's trying to- to use this for political gain is really a- an absolute disgrace. It's--

MARGARET: I'll--

REP. ENGEL: --just never been done before--

MARGARET BRENNAN: I'll- I'll--

REP. ENGLES: --in this matter.

MARGARET BRENNAN: I'll ask you the same question I asked Congressman Himes. If Democrats have the- the certainty of their own conviction when it comes to going ahead with this impeachment inquiry, why not put it to a vote? There's historical precedent there. That's how it's been done. You may not need it, but why not do it?

REP. ENGLES: Well I'm not troubled by it, but- but there's no- there's no reason to do it. There's- there's no rule that says you have to do it. It's perfectly alright the way it is. What the--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Wouldn't it show a unified front?

REP. ENGLES: --Republicans are trying to do- Well, I don't know if it would show a unified front because the Republicans are not keeping quiet. They're not acting out. They're- they're- they're just rallying around the president. It's absolutely disgraceful. So now they keep throwing things into the mix to say, "well, the Democrats should do this, the Democrats should do that." What we should all do is make sure that the integrity of our election stands and that the- the president isn't taking something that's not his to- to barg- barter with in trying to- to get goods on- on Joe Biden's son that he would withhold--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Yeah.

REP. ENGLES: --this kind of important aid from an ally. It's just unconscionable. It- it just undermines our national security. It's a threat and it's- it's not something that- that we should even consider.

MARGARET BRENNAN: All right, Congressman Engel, we know you have a lot of questions this week behind closed doors. We hope to be following this story as it develops. Thank you for joining us today. We will be right back in a moment.