Transcript: Rep. Mike Turner, House Intelligence Committee chair, on “Face the Nation,” August 13, 2023
The following is a transcript of an interview with Rep. Mike Turner, Republican House Intelligence Committee chair, that aired on “Face the Nation” on August 13, 2023.
MARGARET BRENNAN: We’re joined now by the Republican chairman of the Intelligence Committee, Ohio Congressman Mike Turner, it’s good to have you back in studio. And I want to get to you on a number of national security fronts, but you also sit on House Oversight, which is investigating the president’s son Hunter, and has called for U.S. Attorney David Weiss. Now, Special Counsel Weiss to come and testify. Do you have confidence in him and his ability to conclude this in a fair way?
REP. MIKE TURNER: Well, obviously there are concerns. You know, one like Catherine Herridge, I also looked at the appointment, and the appointment seems more narrow than what Bill Barr had given him- the Attorney General Barr. The- this says that it’s limited to the case that was brought before him initially that that’s the scope instead of all of the matters related to unpaid taxes. The concern here obviously, with- with Barr being special counsel- excuse me, with Weiss being special counsel is that he was the one that allowed the statute limitations to expire on some very critical felony charges that could have been brought against Hunter Biden.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Why would he have done that?
REP. TURNER: The IRS whistleblower said that it was- that interference from the Department of Justice, there’s some question as to whether or not it’s a prosecutorial misconduct, but it certainly could be a prosecutorial malpractice. In any event, when you- when you’ve been given the charge to handle claims of such explosive nature and allow the statute of limitations to expire, resulting in- you know, Hunter Biden has in his pocket $125,000 worth of taxes that were owed to the United States that, as a result of these being expired, remain in his pocket.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Why would a U.S. attorney appointed by President Trump working under a Republican attorney general with career prosecutors have that level of conspiracy?
REP. TURNER: Well, that’s not conspiracy, that’s an actual- that actually occur that those–
MARGARET BRENNAN: –deliberately allow for the statute of limitations to pass?
REP. TURNER: I think those are questions that he has to answer. You know, why did this occur? The IRS whistleblowers said that it was interference from the Department of Justice that allowed them to expire. The prosecutor, Weiss, had been working with Hunter Biden and his attorney and actually getting waivers from- for those types of limitations period. And he stopped getting the waiver. So he certainly was knowledgeable, aware that it was going to be expiring. And then something occurred where he allowed those to expire. But you know, also his appointment is coming right on the heels of James Comer’s release of bank records that indicate that we’re now up to $20 million worth of funds that came from foreign sources.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Right, allegations in this but–
REP. TURNER: But there are actual back- there are actual bank records, these are not- no, the bank records are right up- the bank records are right on the website of the House Oversight Committee, over $20 million, released August 9, that went to Hunter Biden, his family and business associates that come from China, Russia. You know, as the chairman of the armed- as chairman of the Intelligence Committee serving on the Armed Services Committee, this is a great concern, because you have foreign individuals that are making payments to the son of the Vice President, now son of the President. And obviously, they’re buying something they weren’t buying his business advice. They were buying influence.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, we just heard from the attorney who said, you know, no crime has been substantiated on that front. But I want to ask you–
REP. TURNER: Well he’s representing Hunter Biden, because he’s in–
MARGARET BRENNAN: –He is, and he has a different standard than members of Congress, because what you do is political, and he has to meet a legal benchmark in court as with those Justice Department prosecutors, right?–
Rep. Mike Turner: –Well I think what he just did is actually very political. He’s not in court when he’s on your show.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Fair. Fair. Can I please ask you about Iran, though? We’d love to get to your other hat that you wear as chair of the House Intelligence Committee. Tensions very high. The US has sent more Marines, more- more ships to the region, and the President has brokered this tentative agreement with Iran to bring home these five Americans. You’ve been briefed. Are you comfortable with the terms?
REP. TURNER: Well, we haven’t really been briefed, and that’s really the concern.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Congress was updated on it though.
REP. TURNER: At this- at this point, we have not received the terms of the deal, or even what the proposed deal is the administration has signaled that the release of these detainees is part of a broader negotiation with respect to reinstating some controls on the nuclear weapons and enrichment programs of Iran, dating back to the JCPOA. And the concern is that, the New York Times has reported, is that the administration may be pursuing an informal deal as opposed to the formal deal that we had before that had congressional oversight. And what we don’t want, obviously, everybody wants the detainees to come home and hostages to come home. We want the administration to work diligently to bring American home- Americans home, whether Iran or Russia or elsewhere, and our hearts certainly go out to them. But in this instance, the administration is signaling that this is part of a broader deal concerning Iran’s enrichment program and if that becomes a secret deal, then that’s obviously a great concern to Congress.
MARGARET BRENNAN: These are de escalatory first steps. You would consider that a, what? I mean, do you- are you opposed to what the administration is trying to do? I mean, there has been reporting and CBS has- has also confirmed that Iran has been, you know, at least reduced some of its nuclear development.
REP. TURNER: Well, actually, there’s- there’s no real reports of- of anything being reduced. They’re currently at 60 percent enrichment–
MARGARET BRENNAN: I’m sure you’ve read the Wall Street Journal report that had specifics on the uranium.
REP. TURNER: Prior- prior, they were three and a half- they were three and a half percent of the JCPOA.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.
REP. TURNER: They’re at 60 percent. They had one year breakout with it, getting to the enrichment level that could result in a weapon. They’re now weeks away. Freezing them now, where before in the JCPOA agreement, they actually surrendered some of the enrichment that they’d had that was over the levels that were sought. In this, if we just have a deal that freezes where Iran is, and really, without the understanding of all aspects of their program, because they had thrown out the UN inspectors from the IAEA. They’d removed the cameras from the sites, we really don’t have the fidelity of understanding of where they are, what they’re doing at this point.
MARGARET BRENNAN: So you would support a broader diplomatic deal and negotiations with Iran to achieve that?
REP. TURNER: Absolutely. And certainly negotiations, I think, as they’re going forward, are certainly critical. But the terms of the deal are absolutely important, because you know, last time we had an insufficient inspection regime, we had terms that were critical that expired. In this instance, they appear to be careening toward a deal that would be informal, not subject to congressional oversight, because we wouldn’t know all the terms. You know in the last deal that actually came before Congress for a vote. They had to disclose what the deals were.
MARGARET BRENNAN: I remember.
REP. TURNER: Right. And at this point, if it’s informal– what we’re concerned about is we don’t want a secret deal with Iran.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Very quickly. should Congress ban travel to Iran?
REP. TURNER: I think it’s- it’s- it should be certainly considered. I think the- I know you’re going to have coming up one of the family members of one of the detainees and I think her message is incredibly important, people should not be going to Iran.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Congressman, thank you very much for your time today. We’ll be back in a moment.
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