Transcript: Rep. Kevin McCarthy on "Face the Nation," May 12, 2019

McCarthy: Democrats "more interested in subpoenas than solutions"

The following is a transcript of the interview with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy that aired Sunday, May 12, 2019, on "Face the Nation."


MARGARET BRENNAN: We'll begin with House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy. Good to have you here in studio.

MINORITY LEADER McCARTHY: Well thanks for having me, and first may I wish you a very happy Mother's Day. I know this is your first Mother's Day, but also to my mom, and to my mother-in-law, and most importantly to my wife, mother of our children.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You get points for that. Well done. But, leader let's- let's talk about one of the things that we laid out there in the open, which is this decision to ask Donald Trump Junior to come back to answer questions related to previous answers he had given to the Senate Intelligence Committee. You've said it's time to move on. But, if Congress hasn't finished its own investigation how can you say that?

LEADER McCARTHY: But, they have- they have finished the investigation.

MARGARET BRENNAN: The Senate Intelligence Committee hasn't finished its work.

LEADER McCARTHY: But think about why the Senate is doing this. Donald Trump Jr. has spent 27 hours already testifying. They're requesting him back based upon something that Cohen has said, when he is in jail for lying to Congress. But, Cohen was talking about a meeting he wasn't even at. So that is why, I believe we should move on. And, if the Senate hasn't finished--

MARGARET BRENNAN: You know that it's specific to the Trump Tower meeting? That's--

LEADER McCARTHY: That is what they--

MARGARET BRENNAN: --the question.

LEADER McCARTHY: That is what they laid out, the- the reason why. But more importantly, it's not going to change the outcome of the Mueller report. And no House, or Senate, is going to have the number of attorneys, the ability to subpoena where they're going, the grand jury, all that. So, this is a time that the country wants to move forward. We want to move forward. We've got health care, we've got trade, we've got a crisis on our border. The Democrats are more interested in subpoenas than solutions.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But this again is a Republican led committee that went forward with a subpoena. Bob Mueller never interviewed Donald Trump Junior. But this committee did. If there were no--

LEADER McCARTHY: For twenty-seven hours.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Sure, and if there were no charges brought, why not just respect the mandate of Congress and come back and answer the questions? You sound like you're saying he's too busy.

LEADER McCARTHY: No I'm not saying he's too- I'm saying the Mueller--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Why does the number of hours matter?

LEADER McCARTHY: The Mueller report- because, if you've ever interviewed an individual 27- hours, you get to the point of everything you've asked the other part the Muller--

MARGARET BRENNAN: The senators say they haven't had a chance to ask the questions themselves, only their staff did.

LEADER McCARTHY: But you had a Mueller report that had 40 attorneys. FBI agents went to different countries, have more power within Congress, the ability for grand jury and others, and they found no evidence. So don't you think it's time to move forward? Don't you think the American public- now, you're out on the road talking to Democrats who are running for president, listening. They're not being asked about this either. We've got a crisis on our southern border. We've got an economy that's stronger than we've had in 50 years. We have more people working in America than any time in American history.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Sure.

LEADER McCARTHY: You have more jobs being offered--

MARGARET BRENNAN: But a hostile--

LEADER McCARTHY: --than people actually looking.

MARGARET BRENNAN: --foreign power interfered in our democracy.

LEADER McCARTHY: No.

MARGARET BRENNAN: That was the purpose--

LEADER McCARTHY: You just--

MARGARET BRENNAN: --of this probe in the first place.

LEADER McCARTHY: Yeah, but you just had--

MARGARET BRENNAN: And you have--

LEADER McCARTHY: You just had that answered by the Mueller report.

MARGARET BRENNAN: The Senate--

LEADER McCARTHY: There was no collusion and there's no obstruction.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But Senator Marco Rubio, who sits on this Intelligence Committee, has said Republicans who are criticizing this are- are fundamentally misunderstanding the intent of the committee investigation, that it is focused on this question of a foreign power interfering. The intent is to move towards legislation that can prevent it from happening again or at least make it harder. Doesn't that have merit?

LEADER McCARTHY: Look, the- the idea of a foreign entity trying to move into our elections is something Republicans have been working on for quite some time. We were the ones that pushed Obama, who ignored our concerns of what was going forward when he was president. This is something Republicans have stood up for a long time. But the question that the Mueller report has already answered, so why do you prolong that? If you want to look at entities that are trying to get into our elections, yes that is something we've always worked on. But Donald Trump Jr. has already testified for more than twenty seven hours. If you want to bring him back in because something Cohen has said when he is in jail for lying and talking about a meeting he wasn't even in? No, I don't think that's right. But it's not going to change the outcome of what this investigation has already done and the power behind the Mueller investigation. That's the concern that I have.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So do you disagree then with some of your fellow Republicans who say they want to investigate the origins of the investigation?

LEADER McCARTHY: No, I think that's very important from the origin of the investigation--

MARGARET BRENNAN: So it's not--

LEADER McCARTHY: --of where you go.

MARGARET BRENNAN: --time to move on?

LEADER McCARTHY: No, it's time to move on. Was there obstruction? No. Was there collusion? No. But why did we even get to this point? Why did the dossier get to that point? What were the communications? You've got an IG report coming in? That's gonna be very important, but you never want America to have to live through this again. You don't want to have a president on any side of the aisle have to go through what we just went through again. So I think from that instance that's where Attorney General Barr is looking and I think that's appropriate.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So not all of these investigations are about Mueller.

LEADER McCARTHY: Yes.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You have, in the Democratic-led House, 20 or so investigations underway. Some of them, though, and we can put up on the screen some of the scope of these investigations. There are things like security clearances and whether those are being handled properly. These were questions that Republicans had--

LEADER McCARTHY: Yeah.

MARGARET BRENNAN: --when they held the majority. So don't you think there are some investigations here with merit?

LEADER McCARTHY: There are some with merit and if you look at our ranking member Jim--

MARGARET BRENNAN: So you disagree it's just harassment.

LEADER McCARTHY: No. If you look at what Jim Jordan, our ranking member in there, he actually brought in the individual from the White House to talk about it. The- the problem that I have is something a situation like Chairman Nadler is doing. Chairman Nadler just held the attorney general in contempt because he requested that he breaks the law. And if you will not break the law, I'll vote in contempt. That's it.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You mean in terms of disclosing grand jury information more publicly?  

LEADER McCARTHY: Exactly. And if- if Chairman Nadler was that serious about getting to the bottom, he hasn't even taken the time to go read, which he's approved to read, the ninety-nine point nine percent of any obstruction inside the Mueller report. But he hasn't even gone to read it while trying to hold the attorney general in contempt. He's asking him to break the law.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well the- as you know Democrats argue that this is a matter of transparency and going to see it without being made- made public. You know the argument back and forth there.

LEADER McCARTHY: But that argument doesn't hold--

MARGARET BRENNAN: But what does the contempt--

LEADER McCARTHY: But think about that argument. He has the right to read it and he won't read it.

MARGARET BRENNAN: For the- the reasons that they've given there, in terms of being able to share it publicly. But you say it's time to move on. Legislatively--

LEADER McCARTHY: Ninety-eight. Nine--

MARGARET BRENNAN: --what is actually possible right now? Because we haven't really seen the White House go to Congress and say, "Put forth a vote on this hard core proposal on immigration," even on infrastructure, which the president says two trillion dollar deals is what he wants to get done.

LEADER McCARTHY: But see, that's not true. The administration has. The administration is sitting here trying to grow an economy that we're already the strongest we've been in 50 years. USMCA, but Speaker Pelosi is withholding a vote on that. That would increase thousands of more jobs, increase our GDP of where we're going. We've--

MARGARET BRENNAN: You're talking about the USMCA?

LEADER McCARTHY: Yes, exactly. That has to be voted on in Congress. The power there is with the Speaker, when to bring it up, closing the loopholes on the crisis on the southern border. Think, just last month, more than 100,000 illegal crossings happened. These are the only ones that we are able to catch in one month. That is the size of your hometown of Stamford, Connecticut. A little more than about 130 there. But that's--

MARGARET BRENNAN: We're going to--

LEADER McCARTHY: --in one month. That is a crisis. Even--

MARGARET BRENNAN: We're going to have to--

LEADER McCARTHY: But even--

MARGARET BRENNAN: --leave it there, though.

LEADER McCARTHY: --the New York Times writes about this. Everybody knows there's a crisis.

MARGARET BRENNAN: About the humanitarian crisis?

LEADER McCARTHY: Except the Democrats in Congress.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Congressman, thank you very much--

LEADER McCARTHY: Thank you.

MARGARET BRENNAN: --for coming in studio.