Transcript: Rep. Kelly Armstrong on "Face the Nation," November 24, 2019

GOP rep says Dems will lose "control" of impeachment
GOP rep says Dems will lose "control" of impe... 05:12

The following is a transcript of an interview with Representative Kelly Armstrong that aired Sunday, November 24, 2019, on "Face the Nation." 

Highlights from the interview:

  • Armstrong says Democrats will lose "more and more control" over impeachment probe in Judiciary
  • Says of the public impeachment hearings:  "As a political exercise, I don't think it's been a success for the Democrats."
  • On being comfortable with somebody who's not working for the U.S. government being involved in foreign policy: "I think there's only one person that gets away with talking the way he does, and that's President Trump."

MARGARET BRENNAN: Welcome back to "Face the Nation." We turn now to North Dakota Congressman Kelly Armstrong. He's on the Judiciary Committee, which is where the impeachment process is headed next. Congressman, welcome. Thanks for being here. 

REPRESENTATIVE KELLY ARMSTRONG: Thanks for having me. 

MARGARET BRENNAN: As we said, you're on the committee where this process moves to next. Do you have any indication on what the timeline is and what this is going to look like as those articles of impeachment are drafted? 

REP. ARMSTRONG: I don't. And I think we- as we continue to move forward, I think the one thing that is true is that the Democrats are going to lose more and more control over this. I mean, at some point in time, Democrats are going to have to enforce some of the rules they passed on their own legislation. But regardless how you feel about this, this has been the most narrowly tailored and controlled thing by Chairman Schiff, both in the depositions, which I was a part of, and in the Intelligence Committee. But as it moves over- over to the Judiciary Committee, they're going to lose more and more of that control. And for sure--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Meaning what?  

REP. ARMSTRONG: Just there are rules where the president gets to have his lawyer and those types of things. Now, I get a little concerned about those because with all of those rules, the chairman has- has absolute veto power. But if they continue down this place, eventually it's going to end up in the Senate and they're going to go there. And I think it's important. They were talking about the poll numbers this morning with Emmerson, and there's a Vanity Fair article out that I think is probably the most important, and that is 62 percent of independents think that impeachment's more important to politicians. 61 percent think it's more important to the media. So when you come from a state like mine and you continue to work through all of these things, I just don't think that as a political exercise, I don't think it has been a success--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Right. 

REP. ARMSTRONG: -- for the Democrats over the last two weeks.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Okay, so put the political exercise apart from this, and in terms of what you actually heard testified to, someone whose name came up repeatedly was Rudy Giuliani. And federal prosecutors we now know are investigating his activities in Ukraine. Are you comfortable with somebody who's not working for the U.S. government being this involved in foreign policy?

REP. ARMSTRONG: I think your regular channels have been used a lot. And I've said this from day one. One of the reasons President Trump got elected is because he does things very differently. You know, whether--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Do you know what Rudy Giuliani was tasked with doing? 

REP. ARMSTRONG: I don't. I mean, he was working through all of those things and working toward his own--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Gordon Sondland testified that it was Rudy Giuliani who was carrying out the quid pro quo and that it was the president who told him to work with Rudy Giuliani.

REP. ARMSTRONG: Gordon Sondland testified that that was his assumption in the third- third different testimony he gave because Gordon Sondland has given three different versions of the event. But when pressed on it by Republicans on the committee, he said that he never directly heard any of those things and it was only assumptions he was making.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well he did testify on May 23rd that the president told him to work directly with Giuliani. But Ambassador Volker, who I know Republicans point to his testimony as Kellyanne Conway just did, he testified that it was Rudy Giuliani who was feeding President Trump this very negative view of Ukraine. And in fact, he was listening to that more than his own intelligence experts. Does that concern you?

REP. ARMSTRONG: Well, I don't think that's entirely true. I mean, Roll Call was covering Ukraine's involvement. Politico was covering it. And before you get into any of those things, the president has said, I mean, we know actively that Ukrainian government officials were actively campaigning against the president in the 2016 election. He was very clear. This president is skeptical of foreign aid. He was skeptical of the--

MARGARET BRENNAN: You're talking about people who are no longer in the Ukrainian government who wrote Op-Eds that just said president, then candidate Trump, was--

REP. ARMSTRONG: Well not--

MARGARET BRENNAN:--against Russia.

REP. ARMSTRONG: --not- not just that-- 

MARGARET BRENNAN: You're not- are you--  I just want to clarify, because we went through this just a few minutes ago. Are you actually believing the theory that Ukraine and not Russia hacked the DNC servers?

REP. ARMSTRONG: No, and I don't think that's--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Okay.

REP. ARMSTRONG: --where you go. I mean, and- but they're trying to make this a binary choice between Russia and the Ukraine, and that's not what it is. And if you listen to Ambassador Hill's testimony, I mean, she had an opening statement. But if you listen to her testimony throughout the course of the day, she acknowledged a lot of these things. Not to put too fine a point on it, but the reason we're talking about the Ukraine is because we've had two weeks of impeachment hearings regarding the Ukraine. Those things are mutually exclusive. And I think the Republicans on the Intelligence Committee did a fantastic job of pointing out that how Russia interfered with the 2016 elections.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Would you be comfortable with a Democrat or any other president asking a foreign government to investigate a political opponent?

REP. ARMSTRONG: Facts of this thing don't change. And that, I mean, and that's part of this. This- this president was interested in how Ukraine interfered in the 2016 election. He was interested in the corruption in Ukraine. He's always been skeptical of foreign aid. There was no favor. There was nothing that happened. The aid was released.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So, the answer is you are comfortable?

REP. ARMSTRONG: I think the president- I think there's only one person that gets away with talking the way he does, and that's President Trump and that's why the American people elected him. And that's one thing, again, as you see through all of these conversations that have occurred, is these career federal employees--

MARGARET BRENNAN: So, no one but President Trump should be allowed to get away with this?

REP. ARMSTRONG: No, I just think President Trump communicates in a way that is the reason why he got elected, because he doesn't do the things the way everybody else does that. And you can tell that's a frustration from where we talk about career federal employees versus President Trump. President Trump said the phone call was perfect. President Zelensky has said on numerous occasions that he didn't--

MARGARET BRENNAN: And you accept all of this?

REP. ARMSTRONG: --feel the pressure. I do. I think you have the transcript and you have the two principals on the phone call that have stated that.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Right.

REP. ARMSTRONG: And after that, everything else is really just noise.

MARGARET BRENNAN: We have to leave it there. Congressman, thank you for joining us. 

REP. ARMSTRONG: Thanks.

MARGARET BRENNAN: We'll be back with our legal panel in a moment.