Transcript: Rep. Will Hurd on "Face the Nation," August 4, 2019

Will Hurd calls El Paso massacre "terrorism"

The following is a transcript of the interview with Republican Rep. Will Hurd of Texas that aired Sunday, August 4, 2019, on "Face the Nation."


MAJOR GARRETT: We turn now to Texas Republican Congressman Will Hurd, who announced this week that he would not run for re-election in 2020. He's the eighth House Republican this year to announce they're leaving elected office and he joins us this morning from San Antonio. Congressman Hurd, good morning. I know you know El Paso well. Your district is right adjoining to it. I think you have some familiarity with this WalMart where this massacre occurred. A couple of questions: what have you heard from there? Are you going to El Paso to join the vigil tonight and catch up with your former member of Congress, road trip mate, Beto O'Rourke?

REPRESENTATIVE WILL HURD: Well- well first off, thanks for your coverage of- of this tragedy and for any of your- you folks watching this- this broadcast, if you live in Texas, if you live in Ohio, if you live in New Mexico, go donate blood. You can get on the Red Cross website to figure out how to do this. These communities need blood. They're going to need it for the next couple of days and the next couple of weeks. And- and also if you see something on social media of someone talking about doing a heinous crime like this, take a screenshot of it and share it with local law enforcement or the FBI's website. We can all be vigilant to seeing this kind of hate and this kind of rhetoric and make sure law enforcement has the tools they need- or- or the information in order to do something about it. But El- El Paso is- is a resilient community. You have a number of families that are still praying and- and worried because their loved one is not out of the- out of the proverbial woods yet, that are still in critical condition. You know, the- the- the youngest person that is injured was two-years-old. Her- his- the baby's mother was- was killed- was- she was only 25 years old. You know, you have people that are in their 80s that are going through- that are still in- in hospitals as well. And so this is a- this is a trying time not just for El Paso but- but the rest of the country.

MAJOR GARRETT: Is this a national moment where the federal legislature should be involved? Do you expect anything to happen over this August recess or do you expect just five weeks of silence from Washington? 

REP. HURD: Well the- the- the House Representatives have passed a background piece of legislation. I was actually one of eight Republicans that joined in that. We should be preventing from putting guns in the hands of people that shouldn't have them. That's pretty straightforward and simple. But there's other things that we should be- be looking at as well. Why does a young man from the suburbs think this is the way that he should do something? That is a trend that we've seen so- so many times. I've learned in- in working with local law enforcement and federal law enforcement over the last couple of days on this issue, that federal law enforcement is prevented from searching social media websites, the public facing stuff about particular threats. That's something that you don't need legislation to- to fix. When look at, you know, the- the sequence of this attack in El Paso and- and eventually in- in Ohio, is there information sharing that could be improved between the federal government and local law enforcement? Does private security in these facilities have the training to do a suspicious activity reports? That they are doing suspicious activity reports? Where does that inform- information go? How are these folks ultimately getting radicalized? The FBI is going--

MAJOR GARRETT: Congressman.

REP. HURD: --to do their review. Law enforcement is going to do their review. This is an act of terrorism and terrorism is an act where you use violence against civilians for a political end. And initial indications suggest that this is- this is based on- on race and- and hatred which would be white nationalist terrorism. Why are people being- being radicalized? You can go back, this--

MAJOR GARRETT: Congressman.

REP. HURD: --this shooter is in custody. We're going to be able to learn a lot from him.

MAJOR GARRETT: Right.

REP. HURD: There was the shooting in Charleston a- A number of years ago that- that killer learned- he was doing web searches on Trayvon Martin and went down the rabbit hole of- of- of white nationalism and racism and was self-radicalized. These are some of the issues that we're going to have to- to review and it's- and yes Congress has a role. So does civil society. So does the media. This is an opportunity for us to focus on what unites us, not what's divides us.

MAJOR GARRETT: Congressman, what role does President Trump in play- play in this? You heard your former colleague, Beto O'Rourke say "he invites and tolerates racism." 

REP. HURD: I- I- I think divisive rhetoric is- is not the way to go. I think he's denounce these-  these attacks. He has an opportunity to be the uniter-in-chief and I hope that's t- the way to go. But we can't just focus on just one person or just one entity. This is a problem that has many sources and we need to be talking about all those sources and ways that every element of society can work on- on dealing with this challenge.

MAJOR GARRETT: Your land commissioner, George P. Bush, called this white terrorism and says it presents a real and ongoing threat in this country. Do you agree?

REP. HURD: I- I- I agree and I- I would leave the- the analysis of this- this current activity and- and this current shooting in El Paso to the FBI. I know they are evaluating it and believing it is- is possibly a hate crime and fueled by this initial indications of this manifesto that the shooter- shooter wrote suggests that. And if it is- in that is indeed confirmed then yes this is- this is white nationalism terrorism and this is something that we're seeing. And again, I mentioned Charleston as a perfect example. I think we don't know enough about what happened in- in Ohio to suggest that that may be something similar. But I know law and local law enforcement and federal law enforcement is going to be turning over every rock and- and pursuing every lead. But again I- I think the thing that I've learned in- in my time representing a very diverse district, 71 percent Latino, a fifty-fifty district, is that way more unites us than divides us-- 

MAJOR GARRETT: Right.

REP. HURD: --and when we focus on those things that unite us. We're going to be better off.

MAJOR GARRETT: Congressman we want to continue this conversation. That's why we're not going to let you go. Please stay right there. We just need to take a quick break, but we'll be right back with Congressman Will Hurd.

COMMERCIAL BREAK

MAJOR GARRETT: Welcome back to Face the Nation, and more with Texas Republican Will Hurd. So congressman, you ran in 2018- as you said it's a very competitive district- you won. Hillary Clinton carried your district in 2016. Why not run in 2020? Are you afraid of the effect that President Trump will have on those prospects?

REP. HURD: No I- I- I'm interested in- in helping other candidates like me. I- I think- I want to see a- a Republican Party that has more folks that- that look and- and sound and operate like I do. I think it's an opportunity for me to help, you know, phenomenal candidates like Wesley Hunt down in Houston, Texas. He cares about his country, served his country in the military, has a--

MAJOR GARRETT: But--

REP. HURD: --beautiful young family, worked in- in the- the private sector--

MAJOR GARRETT: But- but congressman--

REP. HURD: and wants to continue to serve, so- so- 

MAJOR GARRETT: Congressman, you know--

REP. HURD: Yes, sir?

MAJOR GARRETT: You know the way to do that is to stay, to raise money, to campaign alongside and say, "He's joining me," not, "I'm leaving and he needs to replace me."

REP. HURD: Well what- what I find interesting and a lot of people have asked me that question, is that everybody thinks the end all or be all is actually being in Congress. The party is defined by the people that are in it, not necessarily the politicians. And so this gives me the freedom and flexibility to operate in other parts of the country. I'm also going to stay involved in that nexus of technology and law enforcement. You can do that outside of the-the halls of Congress. When you look at issues like artificial intelligence- and artificial intelligence is important because whoever matches it is going to rule the world. And the- the most interesting things that's happening in- in that area is outside of- of the federal government. So, I'm looking forward to- to continuing to serve my country. I left a job as an undercover officer in the CIA, a job I loved. I got to be the guy in the back alleys at four o'clock in the morning collecting on intelligence on threats to our homeland. I left that job in order to help the- the- the national security community in a different way by bringing my skills to Congress. And I'm going to be leaving the halls of Congress to help, you know, our country in a different way as well--

MAJOR GARRETT: Before it--

REP. HURD: --so I'm- I'm excited about the- the next couple of months because we still have a lot of work to do--

MAJOR GARRETT: Congressman Hurd.

REP. HURD: --in Congress but I'm also looking forward to building a Republican Party of the future.

MAJOR GARRETT: Before I let you go, John Ratcliffe, a colleague of yours, was for a very brief period of time, suggested by the president to be the new leader of the Director of National Intelligence, he's now pulled out. How concerned were you about that potential nomination itself and how concerned are you about the general state of the intelligence community without a leader and with the president and the White House appearing undeci- indecisive about how to replace outgoing DNI Dan Coats?

REP. HURD: Well John Ratcliffe is- is my friend. John Ratcliffe is someone that I've been able to talk to as our- in our time on- on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. He is ab- ability to- to digest vast amounts of- of information which is a skill set that's needed within the DNI. And- and I'm sorry that this thing turned out the way it did. I think Sue Gordon as an acting director of National Intelligence is an excellent choice. I've had the opportunity to work with her in the different roles she has played in- in national security. But this position of- of Director of National Intelligence has a lot of challenges. The existential threat that China is playing to us, you know, dealing with disinformation and how the Russians were trying to influence our elections. And of course, continuing to deal with terrorism overseas-- 

MAJOR GARRETT: Right

REP. HURD: --and abroad.

MAJOR GARRETT: Congressman Hurd, thank you very much and thank you for staying for that extra segment. I want to let our audience know that law enforcement sources tell CBS News the Dayton shooter has been identified as Connor Betts, twenty-four-year-old from Bellbrook, Ohio. Police are searching his home presently. Thank you for being with us Congressman Hurd, as I said, we'll be right back with South Carolina Republican Senator, Tim Scott.