Transcript: Rep. Michael McCaul on "Face the Nation," June 23, 2019

GOP rep urges Congress to pass aid for migrant kids

The following is a transcript of the interview with Republican Rep. Michael McCaul of Texas that aired Sunday, June 23, 2019, on "Face the Nation."


MARGARET BRENNAN: For some Republican perspective now we want to bring into the conversation Texas Congressman, Michael McCaul. Good morning to you, nice to have you here on set, in person.

REPRESENTATIVE MICHAEL McCAUL: Thanks, Margaret.

MARGARET BRENNAN: We've been talking about Iran, but also immigration, and I want to ask you, because in your home state, as you know, there are these what everyone seems to agree unacceptable conditions for children being detained there. What do you intend to do about it, because the vice president says it's Congress' fault?

REP. McCAUL: Well I think the- the vice president is correct, we tried to fix this last Congress with my bill and Chairman Goodlatte, it was voted down by every Democrat, it would have provided twenty-five billion for border security, change these legal loopholes, asylum laws, so the magnet is not there for them to come in and it fixed the DACA system. It didn't- didn't work. So now we are in this Congress, I think very little appetite on the other side get anything done. But I think at a minimum, Margaret, we have to pass humanitarian aid to take care of these children. That is the nation we are. We have to take care of these kids. So, you're--

MARGARET BRENNAN: So, should that be separated out from all the other things regarding border security, that you just described?

REP. McCAUL: I'd like to see it all together. But you know what, if- if my choice on the minority side is to vote up or down on a compassionate, humanitarian package, that's what I'm going to do because it's the right thing to do.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And do you foresee that happening anytime soon? I mean you- you- you just heard the congressman before you saying that things actually haven't been detailed yet, he can't say what he'll vote on, because he doesn't actually know what's going to be included in it.

REP. McCAUL: Well, you know, I'm on that committee as well, we are looking through the draft right now to see what's in it, and it has to be passed soon because both DHS and HHS will run out of money at the end of this month. And so this is- this is real stuff, I mean they're not going to have money to take care of these children and properly detain--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Sounds like they already don't.

REP. McCAUL: --house and feed them.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, it sounds like there may not be adequate sanitary conditions. "unacceptable"--

REP. McCAUL: I don't think that.

MARGARET BRENNAN: --is what the vice president said.

REP. McCAUL: Well I don't think it's me- I've- I've lived in that state. I've been down there throughout my 15 years in Congress and before that, as a federal prosecutor. This is the worst I've ever seen it, and it has to be taken care of.

MARGARET BRENNAN: I also want to ask you about Iran. You've been speaking to the White House. Was it a surprise to you that the president pulled back from this military strike?

REP. McCAUL: To some extent, yes. We were in-in invited. I commend the president for bringing in all the national security leaders in the Congress, House, Senate, bipartisan, to discuss what should we do. Now, it was- it was almost like, historically, like, almost like the Cuban Missile Crisis. You know, I can hit this island. I- I can strike Iran, but then what would be the consequences if I did that? Are there other alternatives to that? One thought was if you kill Iranians on Iranian soil, you will only aggravate the situation. The Iranians will rile up around the ayatollah and become more anti-American and they will unleash what they call the proxy war, the proxies being Hezbollah, Hamas and other terrorist organizations. I think, you know, what the president did, what- he exercised restraint. He was thoughtful and measured and said, "You know what, I'm going to take a step back right now." When he found out that 150 people would be killed- take a step back and see if there's another way to get this done. We know since that time, that cyber operations have been conducted to bring down the command and control of--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Do you know that--

REP. McCAUL: --of missile systems.

MARGARET BRENNAN: --it did occur?

REP McCAUL: Well, I should say it's been reported and you know that's how I have to say it. It's been reported and that's a very effective warfare game that we're playing against the Iranians. So they are getting hit. Their energy sector is crippled by the sanctions. We're going to- we're going to introduce more sanctions against Iran to get them to that place we can negotiate. I talked to Secretary Pompeo yesterday. He's traveling to the region right now to meet with coalition partners. And then there's a national security- U.N. national security meeting on Monday to talk about Iran and condemning Iran for its actions in the Straits of Hormuz.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Do you think this creates a credibility problem for the president to so openly discuss his discomfort with carrying out military strikes?

REP. McCAUL: I- I guess you can say that. It almost shows a more human element to him. A side that we don't normally see. We usually see a- a president that hits back. Whether it be a tweet or whatever he hits back and now you have Iran hitting a U.S. military asset and he's not hitting back. I- he does I- I know from- from that meeting he has no appetite to go to war in Iran. He doesn't want to get dragged into a 10 year, decade war in Iran. He wants to do everything he can to exhaust every other possibility to stop that from happening. He- he wants Iran to be nuclear free and he thinks this is the best way to do it.

MARGARET BRENNAN: The- the administration's been offering talks without preconditions to Iran since the beginning of June publicly. There's been no bite thus far. Putting more and more sanctions on, doesn't that just add to the desperateness of Iran? Don't you expect more instability?

REP. McCAUL: And I think that's what we want--

MARGARET BRENNAN: You want more instability?

REP. McCAUL: We- we want them to be more desperate. We want them to be- a- have their economy a- crippled. We want them in a- in a position where they have to negotiate with us and the coalition partners in the free world towards a better Iran for their people without nuclear weapons, and I think that is the ultimate goal, and I- I think this round as opposed to what President Obama did where he lifted them up and gave him 150 billion dollars in cash and reenergized their terror operations, I don't think that one worked too well.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Congressman, thank you for joining us.

REP. McCaul: Thanks, Margaret.