Transcript: Senator Roy Blunt on "Face the Nation," October 6, 2019

Don't take Trump's request for Biden probes seriously

The following is a transcript of an interview with Senator Roy Blunt that aired Sunday, October 6, 2019, on "Face the Nation."


MARGARET BRENNAN: And with that, we begin this morning with Missouri Republican Senator Roy Blunt. He's part of Republican Party leadership and he joins us here in studio. Good morning. 

SENATOR ROY BLUNT: Morning Margaret. 

MARGARET BRENNAN: We learned this morning from attorneys representing now multiple whistle blowers who have come forward in relation to that complaint first revealed in August related to concern that the president was seeking foreign interference in the 2020 election. How should this be handled? What will Senate Intelligence do? 

SEN. BLUNT: Well as you know the Senate Intelligence Committee that I serve on has been asked to look at this to see if we can assemble all of the facts. I think that gives us a responsibility to actually try to get the facts before we reach conclusions. Others who haven't been ask- asked to do that might reach their conclusions a little quicker than we are but in terms of other people stepping forward, I heard on earlier today that maybe this would be a firsthand source which means they--

MARGARET BRENNAN: That's what the attorney for--

SEN. BLUNT: And I guess they may have seen--

MARGARET BRENNAN: -one of the whistleblowers says--

SEN. BLUNT:  -the transcript that we now have all seen. You know I did wonder as we talked to the IG for the intelligence community, is there something wrong with the whistle blower law that people who were firsthand sources told somebody else and tried to get that other person to come forward? I think it will be interesting to find out more about who that person is and what kind of contacts they had. We do know that they contacted the Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee and then chairman Schiff said that didn't happen. But we all are sort of firsthand sources now that we've all seen the transcript and let's see what else actually that really means that you've got somebody else coming forward.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well that initial whistleblower said there were about half a dozen individuals who could back up what he said. The attorney for the second whistleblower says there is firsthand knowledge.

SEN. BLUNT: Well that might be. But we've all seen the transcript now so we can all back up what the whistleblower said as it relates to the transcript. I think actually the speaker chose a fairly narrow topic here to move forward on. It's not very confusing. One way or another, you're going to decide is what the president says he said an impeachable problem or not. And I think it's a different situation when the president actually says those are- that's what I said and here's why I said it. And I think it was the president says he thinks he was on solid ground and we'll see what--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well--

SEN. BLUNT: -other facts might come to the fore that have an impact on that.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Are you comfortable with what the president has said here in this call for foreign governments Ukraine and China to investigate his political opponent?

SEN. BLUNT: Well I- I doubt if the China comment was serious to tell you the truth. The president--

MARGARET BRENNAN: You don't take the president--

SEN. BLUNT: The president--

MARGARET BRENNAN: -at his word?

SEN. BLUNT: No the president loves to go out on the- on the White House driveway. I haven't talked to him about this. I don't know what the president was thinking. But I do know he loves to bait the press and he does that almost every day to see what you'll talk about and maybe what he was hoping was-- 

MARGARET BRENNAN: So you don't believe--

SEN. BLUNT: --somebody in the press will say--

MARGARET BRENNAN: --the president, but is that appropriate to ask for a foreign government to interfere in the election? 

SEN. BLUNT: I- I don't imagine that's what he was doing certainly --

MARGARET BRENNAN: --but is it appropriate?  

SEN. BLUNT: --We shouldn't expect the Chinese, the Russians, or any of our other national security adversaries to be helpful in any way and if they do come forward with the information, I think you'd have to seriously question whether there was any veracity to that information or not. 

MARGARET BRENNAN: Because you're on Senate Intelligence, can we just established a fact here? You've been part of one of the only bipartisan--

SEN. BLUNT: Right--

MARGARET BRENNAN: -investigations into election meddling. Is there any shadow of a doubt that it was Russia that interfered in 2016?

SEN. BLUNT: No shadow of a doubt that Russia interfered. I think--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Because you're hearing from others, including the president's attorney, these ideas that maybe Ukraine meddled. Have you seen any facts to substantiate that?

SEN. BLUNT: Well I think there are some facts that indicate the Ukraine was involved in some things like purporting to have information on Manafort that even Mueller didn't use. I don't know if that came forward in '16 or it came forward in '17. Not very hard to meddle in the way the Russians did. I think you have to assume that the Russians, the North Koreans, the Iranians, the Chinese, all are trying to get in our systems all the time and every one of them and others would see anything good for them is bad for the United States and more importantly anything bad for the United States is good for them. 

MARGARET BRENNAN: But what- when the president says things like he did in that call record that there's a server in Ukraine. Is that a conspiracy theory or have- have you established that as fact?

SEN. BLUNT: I- I don't have any information on that. 

MARGARET BRENNAN: Is it fact? Do you--

SEN. BLUNT: I don't know.

MARGARET BRENNAN: --know it to be true?

SEN. BLUNT: I don't know.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Is it anything that your committee's looked into?

SEN. BLUNT: Not that I'm aware of. And--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Is it worth it looking into?

SEN. BLUNT: I don't think it was part of- you know we've been- as you said, we've tried to stay in a bipartisan way here. I think the intel committee in the Senate has uniquely been able to do that. I hope we're able to do that through the next few weeks as we try to put a fairly small fact set together. This is not like going back and looking at everything any outside source might have done in the election. It's looking at facts. The-the key one that the president says is accurate and then trying to determine what more may be out there.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Your Republican colleague, Senator Ron Johnson, told The Wall Street Journal in an interview that he had a conversation. He was personally told by the U.S. Ambassador to the EU Gordon Sondland in a phone call that if Ukraine would get to the bottom of what happened in 2016, if President Trump has that confidence, then he'll release the military spending. Johnson then says in this interview, "at that suggestion I winced. My reaction was, 'Oh, God I don't want to see those two things combined.'" Johnson went on to say the president denied having anything to do with this, but he's substantiating here in this interview on the record that there was discussion of a quid pro quo.

SEN. BLUNT: Well, now remember, you know, some of these ambassadors in these discussions haven't had any diplomatic experience. Just the fact that you'd widely--

MARGARET BRENNAN: He was confirmed--

SEN. BLUNT: --talk about things--

MARGARET BRENNAN: --by the Senate into this job.

SEN. BLUNT: He- he- he was.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Does he need to be held accountable--

SEN. BLUNT: He does. 

MARGARET BRENNAN:  Gordon Sondland? 

SEN. BLUNT: He does. They all do. They all need to be held accountable. And he'd be held accountable if--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Do you think--

SEN. BLUNT: --you're speculating--

MARGARET BRENNAN: this was sanctioned by the president?

SEN. BLUNT: I have no--

MARGARET BRENNAN: His personal attorney seems to be--

SEN. BLUNT: --no reason to know that.

MARGARET BRENNAN: --suggesting this.

SEN. BLUNT: I have no reason to know that.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Is that something that you think is worth looking into?

SEN. BLUNT: I think we should look into everything. Again, I think this fact set is fairly small. I think we need to put it together and then determine if the- the president's statement that he said this, what that really means. I- I do think it's not unusual for foreign leaders when they talk to each other to say, "here's something I'd like you to do for me," whether it's a- a- a trade agreement or some other agreement. I don't think that's unusual. But I think the question here is gonna be, is this gonna be a partisan effort--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Yeah.

SEN. BLUNT: --on the part of the house? Do the facts really matter? And frankly MARGARET, if they come--

MARGARET BRENNAN: What happens--

SEN. BLUNT: --out of this pretty quickly--

MARGARET BRENNAN: --when they get to the Senate?

SEN. BLUNT: I think a lot depends on what happens in the House. I think you have to assume if it's an essentially a partisan vote in the House, that that sets the stage for the likely same kind of vote in the Senate. But let's see what the facts are.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Senator Blunt, appreciate you joining us today.