tv Newsmakers Rep. Mike Johnson Republican Study Cmte Chair CSPAN November 4, 2019 2:51pm-3:23pm EST
on c-span2. this evening, president trump holds a campaign rally in lexington at 7:00 p.m. eastern, live on c-span. you can follow all of our coverage online at c-span.org, or listen with the free c-span radio app. >> this week on "newsmakers," congressman mike johnson, a republican of louisiana. thank you for being with us. >> thank you for having me. >> we also have scott wong who covers capitol hill. another capitol hill reported. scott, go ahead with your first question. been: republicans have come up until now they have been complaining about the impeachment process as the hearings and depositions have been behind closed doors, but now with this impeachment vote
looking ahead at the process as it moves into the public sphere, what thealk about merits of your arguments look like. ? president trump has urged republicans to fight this on merits, not the process. can you talk about the arguments on the merits going forward? congressman johnson: we just had a lengthy press conference after the house floor from after the vote, which is bipartisan, by the way. democrats voted not to proceed on the resolution. but we have had problems with process and the substance. and we are anxious to debate both of those things and to do it out in the open.
we issued a challenge. every member was standing together. the congressman said it well, he has been down, he has been hearing all this, and he challenged the drama ship to release the transcripts. but the facts out there. we want the american people to be able to judge for themselves the merits of these claims and allegations and we as elected representatives of the people should have a right to review that as well. that is our charge going forward and i think it is a good question and one that has yet to be answered. scott: do you have any concerns at all about what you have seen come out of these closed-door hearings? we have the facts, we know what was -- we have the transcript from the call between the president nd the ukrainian president. we have some of the opening statements from some of the people who have testified, including bill taylor and lieutenant colonel vitamin --
winvinman, who has raised conce. is there anything you have seen in terms of what has come out in public that you have concerns with? cumbersome johnson: what we -- congressman johnson: what we know is the president made an unprecedented decision to release that call almost immediately when the charges were first being made. every american citizen has the opportunity to review the transcript for themselves. we have witnesses coming forward , many of them could be challenged on credibility, could be effectively cross-examined, but in that super scary -- supersecret hearing room, i am told by my colleagues that they are not allowed to tell us much, but we are told that they complained loudly about the process itself. they are not allowed to ask certain questions. the chairman is not allowing the witnesses to answer, that is not a fair process.
, the processimes has been out in the open. previous congresses have been deliberate about that. much was said today about the federalist papers. alexander hamilton has been cited more times this week on the hill than perhaps any number of years combined, because he wrote specifically about this day. this was a fear of the founders, that partisan politics would be driving in impeachment quest. the democrats determined a long time ago what the outcome of this was going to be, it is a predetermined a political outcome and they are using the impeachment process to obtain that. that is not fair. it is an abuse of the system of justice and it assaults fairness. >> congressman, as these hearings move into the public sphere and lawmakers and the public both will be able to see what some of these witnesses, i know democrats plan to bring back for public hearings, do you
have any concern with the attacks this week from the president and his own former members of congress against lieutenant colonel vinman, ifut an erosion of trust there are attacks against other witnesses in these public settings? rep. johnson: no, i spent over one hour with the president. we had a dozen members of the republican committee at the white house earlier this week on tuesday. andthe president vented his frustration to us. i think that he is rightfully frustrated about this. he has been denied basic rights to due process in this charade at the adam schiff and his colleagues have engaged upon. and so there is a certain element of frustration. are we concerned about the institutions of our intelligence apparatus, no. i am concerned about the congress itself.
at the end of the day, one of the greatest concerns most deep, one of them deepest concerns we have about this "sham." it is an actual summary of what people back -- is home are losing faith in the institution of congress itself. if they do not have any faith or trust that the impeachment process has been done right in a just and fair way, then they start to throw their hands up and give up on the congress itself, and ultimately on the republic.w e are still an experiment on the world stage. we are only 243 years into this and we do not know long -- how long it will last, but one thing that is predisposed is you will have fairness in the system and he will have the rule of law that applies equally to everyone. we have not had that this week or in the last few weeks, and that is a great concern. host: the white house, when they've got the readout of the noticeall, noted in the to the public that it was not a word for word document, and that
it was a memo, not a transcript of that phone call. vinman has testified that there were words in that phone call that were not included in the readout or the memo that was made and given to the public much of the president release the entire phone call word for word to resolve this? rep. johnson: i do not know, nor do you or anyone else, whether there is an actual recording of the call. i think there may be, but what we are told is it is customary for there to be a memo kind of transcript, a summary of the call, that is as we understand it, is drafted by a number of people, not just one transcriptionist. been put into has the credibility of that transcript. look, this is part of the fact-finding that should be going on in my committee and the house judiciary committee, we are the ones who were supposed to have jurisdiction and we can
have a fair hearing of facts, and if there are things in dispute we need to listen to that. but we have not had an opportunity to do that. the resolution passed at today does not allow for fairness either, that is why we voted against it. it allows unilateral authority to continue, first from adam schiff, then shifting to chairman nadler. they have ultimate authority to veto what the other side may do. so that is our concerned, we all know there will never be fairness in this process. host: should a president of the u.s. ask a foreign power to investigate someone that -- in that investigation, it would benefit him, rep. johnson: what the president was asking was for an investigation of an event a couple of years earlier. he was not asking, and the
transcript reflects this, he was not asking for dirt on a future political opponent for something that would happen in the future. he was trying to get to the bottom of corruption that many americans, millions of americans have concerns about. these are unanswered questions, and it is appropriate for leaders and heads of state to have these, a dialogue about things like that. there was some deep corruption involved here. the president was i think justified in his zeal to get answers on that. and so on its face, that's what it comes down to, arguing the substance. some people might quibble about whether it was appropriate for the president to say it the way he did or what have you, but this is not impeachable conduct, this is not a high crime and misdemeanor, and i think that will be the inevitable conclusion that most americans will see. greta: you don't think an investigation of joe biden and his son would hurt the former vice president politically in the 2020 election cycle? rep. johnson: maybe it would, but that is not what the president asked, arguably it's not what he was intending, and
he was going after the corruption with a corrupt oligarch, a corrupt corporation, the idea that a vice president's son has been hired at $50,000 a month to serve on a board for which he had no experience or insight. he had never done anything in the oil and gas industry or had any connection or expertise in matters dealing with ukraine. it looks on its face to be absolutely corrupt, and that's why a lot of people have serious questions about that. the president not least among them. so i mean, that's why people read the transcript and go where is the there? i mean yesterday, tom brokaw, someone who everyone respects in the media, he came out and said i don't see it, i don't see what democrats are basing this on. he contrasted it with the clinton impeachment process where they were clear facts. very important issues on the table and everyone could clearly define them. he said they don't have that here and that's why so many of us are so frustrated. scott: mr. johnson, what do you think the white house should be
doing to fight impeachment as it goes forward into these public hearings? do they need to set up a war room? it seems like mr. mulvaney, your former colleague and the acting chief of staff, has been sidelined on a lot of these issues. do they need a point person at the white house to be leading the charge against impeachment? what do they need to do better? rep. johnson: well you know, i suppose they could study what previous administrations have done. of course this is exceedingly , rare, this will only be the fourth time in u.s. history this has happened, and there is good reason for that. we all remember of course during the clinton impeachment, i think they did have a war room and a point person, a quarterback so to speak, over the effort to guard the president's interests. this is a very serious matter. it does not get more serious than this, and i think the president will take it seriously. i think mick mulvaney is a
steady hand at the wheel. he will give good counsel. what we have to guard so jealously is the process, the procedure, and rule of law. because that is what is going to be far long-lasting beyond the trump administration and all of this, the lasting legacy of this will be how this congress and the legislative branch handled this important affair. i hope they are watching it closely and all of us are on our toes the entire time. we certainly plan to be in the house judiciary committee. katherine: on the judiciary committee, when you have the opportunity to get the information that comes out of both of these closed depositions and the public hearings in the intelligence committee is there , anyone that you specifically would like to be able to speak with and ask questions to that has not yet been brought behind closed doors or that you have heard could be in the open hearings? rep. johnson: i will tell you who i would like to ask questions of first and foremost is adam schiff himself. as it was said in our press
conference after the vote, if he wants to pretend he is ken starr, he needs to submit for a q&a himself. i have an important list of questions for adam schiff. i would like to know first of all what relationship he and his staff had with the whistleblower in advance of all of this. and how all of that developed. there is a lot of unanswered questions that go to the very root of this entire process. he is the best person to answer those questions, so i would like to start with one of my colleagues on that regard, and then have the opportunity to ask questions of some of the folks who have already testified down in the skiff, in the secret deposition room, but also to present defense witnesses. they've not had a great opportunity to do that yet, if any at all. we intend to do that in the house judiciary committee. greta: congressman, what have you been told either from the house lawyers or otherwise about the whistleblower's name and whether or not you all could publicly say who this person is? rep. johnson: that's the point,
we have no idea. i mean, there is all sorts of innuendo and rumor around the hill on rumors like this, but we don't know that specifically. i don't know anything about it, and that's part of the concern. really the only person in the capitol complex who knows who the whistleblower is is adam schiff. i am not sure anyone else knows it. there is all sorts of allegations and rumors, but we don't know anything. and that is kind of the scott: point. why don't we move on to some policy issues? i know as chairman of the republican study committee, you have just rolled out your new health care plan in recent days. can you talk a little bit about that plan, and why specifically now republicans are in the minority in the house, nancy pelosi is not going to move your plan to the house floor anytime soon for a vote -- talk a little bit about the main differences between your plan and the 2017 repeal and replace obamacare plan that as we all know failed
by one vote in the senate a couple of years ago? what are the big differences? rep. johnson: great question. we are really excited to roll this out a week ago, last tuesday. it is the product of almost a year of work down in the trenches. everyone will remember in march, president trump famously said the republican party will be the party of health care, you watch. people have been watching. i had the occasion to speak to the president a few days after he made that statement by telephone. and i said, i thank you for saying that. in the republican study committee, which is the largest caucus of conservatives in congress, we have 146 members, we divide into working groups and task forces, and one of our priority task forces in this congress has been on the issue of health care. the health care task force led by roger marshall of kansas, my
colleague, who is the chair of that. we have had a number of republican members in congress and others with positions of expertise in the area working regularly meeting since january on this. all of the effort that has gone into that, consulting with experts in the field, meeting with people across the health care spectrum, we distilled what we think were the best ideas and published it in a 66-page document that we entitled a framework. it is a framework for personalized, affordable care. there is a deep and serious, stark contrast between what we are proposing and what the democrats are proposing. if you listen to those running for president on the democrat side, they basically have one of two solutions, double down on the failing status quo, the aca, which is a trajectory that is not sustainable, or they say let's turn it over to the government and have a one-size-fits-all government run health care system. we believe either of those scenarios would be a disaster for the american public, so we feel a moral obligation to step into this space. and provide solutions. we are really excited to have done that. it has gotten raving reviews so far across the spectrum, and it's a great framework for us to go forward.
with two objectives, scott, we believe we need to protect vulnerable americans, meaning people with pre-existing conditions, chronic illnesses and serious health concerns, but also bring down the cost of health care. that means in deductibles, premiums, and overall health care costs. those two pursuits are not mutually exclusive. we are showing a way to do that. scott: does the president have - have you briefed the president on the plan? is there buy-in from the president? does he support the plan? rep. johnson: yes, we've kept the white house apprised of our efforts all year, beginning in march after the president made the statement. we've been close coordination with the administration knowing that they are also developing plans in the health care space. so we worked in close coordination. i mentioned we met with the president last tuesday in the oval office, that was to talk about in-depth the health care plan. he is very grateful for it. of course i spoke with him in the morning before we released it and did our big press conference rolling out the plan,
told him the highlights and reminded him of some of the things we had been working on and talked about in previous months, and he was very encouraging and very grateful that 146 members, conservatives in the house, are stepping forward with real ideas and solutions. we believe it is really important going into this next election cycle to talk about solutions and present sound ideas that are on the table. also as you all know, the u.s. court of appeals for the fifth circuit is likely to issue any day now their ruling in the azar case, a challenge to the underpinnings of obamacare itself, the aca. it is really important right now to put sound ideas on the table and have everyone talk about debating those things. we are ready to legislate if we have that moment. and if we don't have it now, since pelosi and the democrats are in charge, we are going to put our ideas on the table for what we will do when we maintain the majority. i think we will do that in the next election cycle. katherine: another policy issue.
you previously led efforts to make changes to the foreign agents registration act, which requires lobbyists who lobby on the interests of foreign entities to register with the justice department so that we can keep track of who is peddling that influence. i have heard that there may be a new proposal in the works. are you planning on or working on a new fara? rep. johnson: i never let go of that objective, it's one of the first pieces of legislation i filed when i was a freshman in congress in the 115th congress a couple of years ago. it is an idea whose time has come, and i think it is a bipartisan concern, something we can get folks across the aisle to work on together. we just need a better disclosure, better information about who exactly is lobbying members of congress. i think that is not a controversial notion that we need to clean up and close the loopholes in the foreign agents registration act.
i do think there has been some work. i think senator grassley and others on the senate side have had similar legislation. we were going to do companion pieces in the last congress. we are still thinking about it, working on and looking for an opportunity to advance the legislation because i think it would be important for purposes of transparency and integrity of our system. katherine: do you think as the impeachment inquiry moves forward, there have been questions raised about who is representing different ukrainian entities for the u.s. government? do you see that as a window for this new proposal? rep. johnson: it may be. every time when there is an issue like this when lobby and agency and those issues reach the public consciousness in a big story, it seems like it happens fairly often now in washington, it brings the issue to mind for more people. and people begin to scratch their heads and say how is there this kind of activity that happens behind closed doors? it needs to be out in the open,
and people need to have all of this disclosed. our legislation was very reasonable, substantive, in that it would just require more disclosure. we don't think that is a controversial notion. greta: we have time for a couple more questions. scott: in addition to judiciary committee, you sit on the national resources committee. we have seen in this past couple of weeks wildfires ravaging both northern and southern california, thousands of people have had to flee their homes. at least one million people at one point had lost electricity, had their power shut off. republicans have talked about forest management as a way to mitigate some of these wildfires, but we are seeing these fires consuming areas, very populated areas in the san francisco bay area, los angeles, threatening, you know, major landmarks, including the ronald reagan library. are you prepared at this point to say that climate change is a
big factor in these types of extreme weather events, including as you are very familiar with, hurricanes and flooding in the midwest, but also these wildfires ravaging the west coast? rep. johnson: yeah, it is heartbreaking what is happening in california right now. i was just out there this previous weekend and saw with my own two eyes. we were in the los angeles area and the smoke was so thick, they were beginning to close down the 405, the major highway out there, transport. it is a very serious thing. in some respects, you could look at the graphs and charts and say well, some of these events are happening with greater frequency. is it attributed to climate change? i am not sure. i mean, scientists, who are experts and know more than i do, even have their own debates and discussions about that. we deal with natural disasters quite a bit in my home state of louisiana.
as you pointed out, scott, it seems like we have hurricanes now all the time. the last year in the year before, they were relatively slow hurricane seasons. so it is cyclical. is it related to carbon emissions? i don't know, but i do know it is a serious problem and we address it seriously in congress. disaster relief is sometimes a controversial thing. there are some expenditures, it -- appropriate for the federal government to take if it is so far beyond the scope what a municipal and state government can do, that's where the federal government has a role to play and we have those discussions in a deliberate, thoughtful way all of the time. katherine: has your committee or the republicans on the relevant committees thought about answers to proposals like the green new deal or other climate legislation that democrats are offering and is now a topic of conversation across the country, to engage younger voters who may have concerns about the climate but are looking to vote for republicans to take different steps on those issues?
i know leader mccarthy has mentioned free market climate bills, and i have not seen those yet, and i'm curious what they would look like. rep. johnson: that is going to be very exciting. look, one of the fundamental premises of being a republican is we believe in the principle of stewardship. this is god's creation, and we are supposed to tend to and take care of it. that's one of our animating kind of principles. we are really excited about this. my colleague, my good friend from louisiana, garrett graves, a republican from louisiana is a , cochair of that task force working group, and they are coming up with some sound proposals that we are going to be excited to talk about in the upcoming election cycle. there are ways to address this that are meaningful and free market based where we can address some of these issues voters are concerned about, and i think there will be some great work product that comes out of that group. greta: we will have to leave it there. congressman mike johnson, thank you for being this week's newsmaker. rep. johnson: thank you so much.
greta: let me turn to the two of you and start with you all where we began with the congressman, on the impeachment vote. scott wong, going forward, what do we know based on what was in this resolution? what will it look like? what will the inquiry now look like? scott: i think the resolution talks about two aspects of this. one is an affirmation that this is a legitimate impeachment investigation going forward. it was the first a formal vote that the house of representatives took to sort of endorse this effort. remember there was that whole fight with, among democrats about whether they needed to take a formal vote to actually launch the impeachment inquiry. so this settles that question. on the second part of that is what this looks like going forward in these public hearings. what this essentially does is lay the groundwork for what that does. how witnesses will be interviewed, what the format will be.
there will be 45 minutes of questioning from the democrats, from the democratic chairman and his staff counsel, so we will see some professionals be able to ask questions of these witnesses on the intelligence committee in the public setting before television cameras and then republicans will have their chance to have either their ranking member or their staff counsel ask questions. and then it will pivot to the more traditional hearing where we have the lawmakers have five minutes to ask questions. some of those types of rules and regulations and procedures. greta: katherine tully-mcmanus, what is the timeline for this impeachment? katherine: we don't have a specific timeline, but we know the democrats would like to get this completely wrapped up before anyone casts a vote in the 2020 primaries in any shape or form. that is early next year.
we do know closed depositions will be continuing. on monday, they are scheduled for four different people to come in behind closed doors and to give testimony. immediately after the vote on the resolution, republicans were lamenting that ok, we just took this vote to open the process up, and now you are scheduling a whole docket of more closed-door inquiry. and so they are getting pushback on that, but i think the democrats are hoping to wrap up this closed-door portion and move on to the intelligence committee open hearings, and then a whole other phase. in the judiciary committee. they are on a timeline. greta: this resolution, the impeachment resolution voted on thursday, as the congressman noted, all of the republicans voted against impeachment inquiry. are there any republicans telling the two of you privately that they are a little bit nervous about this, or do they feel that they can argue
effectively on process and substance against an impeachment inquiry? katherine: one thing that i know to be true is that the president was going to look at this vote as a test of loyalty. and so even if republicans had misgivings, it is a huge political risk to step out of line from behind this president. he could take to twitter and really do damage to your campaign or efforts on other issues you care about. however i do think there are republicans in the gop conference in the house right now who would say it is fine to look into it but the process is broken, and we have not seen anything yet that rises to high crimes and misdemeanors, who would acknowledge that. but the vast majority of republicans are saying you are not going to find anything. scott: and perhaps the only person in the house of representatives who has come out and said they would even
entertain voting for impeachment to move forward is francis rooney, a former diplomat himself, he served as ambassador under the george w. bush administration. he has said he could possibly vote for impeachment, but he is also retiring and therefore not susceptible to the types of attacks and tweets that other republican lawmakers might see. greta: katherine, as this goes forward, what if anything gets done in the house and senate? katherine: well, nancy pelosi, speaker of the house, has made it a very big priority to not have impeachment takeover everything in the house. even when she does her press conferences, she does not take a question on impeachment until every reporter has asked, had a chance to ask questions about prescription drug prices, trade, all of these other issues that she is hoping to move forward. she says that there is progress
and still hope for the trade deal with mexico and canada, the usmca. prescription drug prices is one of the top priorities for democrats in the house right now. she is trying to show that democrats can, in their words, walk, and chew gum, do impeachment and govern. scott: democrats are racing against the clock. they don't want this to seep too far into the election cycle. they don't want it to be perceived as a purely political investigation of the president. there's also the concern about wanting to do the people's business, not just the oversight but also move health care forward, move trade forward and things like that. so it is a juggling act. and they also don't want to have the american public to lose interest. there have been a lot of different names thrown out, from the state department, a lot of
them russian and ukrainian names, and that gets confusing not only for us reporters but for the american public. i think adam schiff and nancy pelosi are cognizant of that and his they will want to move forward as quickly as possible to try and expedite this and have that formal vote on impeachment. greta: congressional reporter scott wong, katherine tully-mcmanus, thank you both for being on "newsmakers." [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2019] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] announcer: coming up in just a few minutes, discussion on impeachment, foreign interference, and how to best safeguard the 2020 elections. that will be live from the brookings institution here in washington, d.c., starting at 3:30 p.m.. the house intelligence committee chair adam schiff spoke