Transcript: Rep. Trey Gowdy on "Face the Nation," July 15, 2018

Gowdy on Russian indictments

The following is a transcript of the interview with Rep. Trey Gowdy, Republican of South Carolina and chairman of the House Oversight Committee, that aired Sunday, July 15, 2018, on "Face the Nation."


MARGARET BRENNAN: We want to go now to Greenville, South Carolina and Trey Gowdy, Chairman of the House Oversight Committee that's one of the committees investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 election. Congressman, you just heard President Trump once again refer to the Russia probe as a witch hunt and he specifically referred to the hearing that you chaired this past week with FBI agent Peter Strzok as proof of his claim. Do you agree with the president's assertions and they do seem aimed here at discrediting the Mueller probe?

REPRESENTATIVE TREY GOWDY: I don't think it's a witch hunt. I've never thought it was a witch hunt. We now have two series of indictments against Russians; one for the social media the other for the unlawful intrusions. Russia attacked this country in 2016. That's the number one thing we've asked Mueller to look at what did Russia do. The second part which unfortunately is where are the hyperfocus is, is with whom if anyone did they do it. Margaret, no Americans have been indicted with respect to conspiring to impact the 2016 elections. My focus is on the first thing: what did Russia do. And that's not a witch hunt. That's an attack on our country.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So you're right no Americans were charged, but 12 Russian military intelligence officers were for attacking the DNC and other Democratic organizations going after Hillary Clinton's e-mails and also attempting to break into state election board. So how should Americans understand this?

REP. GOWDY: That this is an attack on all of us. Our elections are just that, Margaret, they are our elections and Republicans and Democrats are free to fight among and with themselves. But, that fight ends at the border. And- and I would ask the president to give some serious consideration. Your first requests of Vladimir Putin needs to be: tell us which airport we can pick up the 25 Russians that tried to interfere with the fundamentals of our democracy. If you really claim you had nothing to do with it that you should be as shocked as we were that your military was being used to impact our election. Tell us where you're going to extradite those folks because an American grand jury indicted them for undermining our democracy.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You have now heard over 20 hours of testimony from Peter Strzok who is named by the president there, you also met with Lisa Page, a lawyer at the FBI involved with this Friday, I think you're meeting with her again tomorrow. In your investigations have you seen any evidence of an anti-Trump bias at the FBI?

REP. GOWDY: Sure. An anti-Trump bias? Absolutely. You just mentioned two of them, Strzok and- and Page. I mean Strzok- Strzok was- was a bias against Trump before he began investigating him of course on August the 6th he promised to stop his candidacy on the 15th he talked about an insurance policy. I think the most damning piece of evidence, Margaret, with respect to bias is the day Bob Mueller was announced Special Agent Peter Strzok wasn't talking about indictments like you and I just were, he wasn't talking about defending the country like you and I are, he's talking about impeaching the president. That is an unprecedented level of bias. Now, how pervasive it was beyond those two- I think there are four or five other unidentified Bureau and Department agents and employees who also had bias. But there are 13,000 FBI agents and 99.9 percent of them are doing exactly what you would want them to do and exactly the way you would want them to do it.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well that's -a point here though that seems to be getting lost or at least when the president is speaking he's conflating these specific individuals the number you put, four or five, with the entire intelligence organization that is the FBI and there is some concern that that is corrosive to our democracy. Do you fear that your hearing is being used in that way?

REP. GOWDY: Well, our private hearing was much more constructive than the public hearing. I mean, public hearings are a circus, Margaret, I mean that's why I don't like to do them. I don't do many of them. I mean it's a freak show. I mean the private interviews are much more constructive. But I would also say this -I mean put yourself in President Trump's shoes for just a second. Jim Comey thought that impeachment was too good for you. John Brennan says you should be in the dustbin of history. Those are not insignificant people, one headed the FBI the other headed the CIA when you were under investigation. The lead FBI agent said that you would be destabilizing for the country and promise to stop your candidacy. I mean, Margaret if you were being investigated by people who had that level of bias and animus against you I think you would be concerned as well. What I would tell the president is no American has been indicted for conspiring to hack the DNC but Russia did attack us so focus on the first prong on that motor jurisdiction. Let the second prong play out. But so far the with whom if anyone did they do it we we've got a big zero with respect to Americans.  

MARGARET BRENNAN: But, to play devil's advocate here, there are other Republicans who were questioning the president as a candidate. And- and comments he made and whether that made him fit for office. So, I mean you're not trying to argue that only Trump supporters should be involved with this investigation?

REP. GOWDY: No and thank God. Republican candidates for president aren't in charge of counterintelligence investigations. I mean put politicians in one heap. I mean thank God we don't put them in charge of major investigations. Peter Strzok was supposed to be a counterintelligence expert.

He was put in charge of the probe, and he's going from talking about stopping him, to he hopes he resigns, to impeachment. Margaret, keep in mind, his main concern when he was trying to deliberate on whether or not to be part of Mueller's probe is that it might not lead to impeachment. I mean if you are a counterintelligence expert this is a chance of a lifetime to fight for your country against Russia and you're concerned that it might not lead to impeachment. I mean no American would want Peter Strzok investigating them if- if he if he had that amount of animus against them. --

MARGARET BRENNAN: Are you--

REP. GOWDY: --None of us would.

MARGARET BRENNAN: --Are you going to sign on to this effort to impeach Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein that House Republicans are talking about putting forward this week?

REP. GOWDY: No. Impeach him for what? No.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Inappropriate?

REP. GOWDY: I- I've had my differences with Rod Rosenstein. I-I talk to him quite often privately. Which, again, is a lot more constructive than the public hearings we have. He's a Trump appointee. So is Jeff Sessions. So is Chris Wray. If President Trump is dissatisfied with Rod Rosenstein he can fire him with a tweet. But- but- but to impeach someone. I- no. I would not be- I'm not convinced there is a movement. I read about it in Politico and sometimes their sources are better than mine. But- but I'm not part of that.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Very quickly, are you going to investigate who the congressional candidate was who was in contact with the conspirators? This is named in the indictment.

REP. GOWDY: I would love to know who that was, so I hope you'll investigate it. I'm going to try to find out who it is. Now this is an unindicted- I mean that's important. Whatever this person did didn't rise to the level of criminality. But I am incredibly disappointed that any member of Congress would reach out to Wikileaks or Julian Assange or Luci- or Gucifer or Lucifer and try to get dirt on on a Democrat. That is very disappointing. I don't know who it is, but I'd love it if you or I one found out who it was.

MARGARET BRENNAN: All right. Well when you find out get back to us Congressman. Thank you very much--

TREY GOWDY: You do the same.

MARGARET: -- for your time. We'll be back in one minute with a lot more FACE THE NATION, including conversation with the number two in the Senate: John Cornyn. Don't go away.