Transcript: House Foreign Affairs Committee chair Rep. Michael McCaul on “Face the Nation,” April 14, 2024


The following is a transcript of an interview with Rep. Michael McCaul, House Foreign Affairs Committee chair, that aired on April 14, 2024.


MARGARET BRENNAN: We turn now to the Republican chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Texas Congressman Michael McCaul. Welcome back to the program.

REP. MICHAEL MCCAUL: Thanks for having me, Margaret.

MARGARET BRENNAN: We just heard from Mr. Kirby, about the conversations in regard to US personnel in the region, in your role you have oversight of the State Department in some of these embassies. How concerned are you about the security threats to Americans abroad? And is the US prepared to do an evacuation if needed?

REP. MICHAEL MCCAUL: You’re always concerned that we don’t want escalation in the region that would be a threat to our troops and our embassies. As I understand talking to the State Department, the embassy is in good shape right now-

MARGARET BRENNAN: That’s in Israel?

REP. MICHAEL MCCAUL:  in Israel. Yeah. And I think the fact of the matter is, as Mr. Kirby mentioned, is 99% of these rockets and drones were shot down. Pretty impressive display of force, showing a force in collaboration with the United States, Jordan, and other allies. And it also showed us Iran’s not 10 feet tall.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Not 10 feet tall, militarily. Fair assessment there. So I’m sure, then you don’t agree with some of your Republican colleagues who are saying that this necessitates any kind of military action against Iran? 

REP. MICHAEL MCCAUL: Well, I do think that this is a choice for Israel, we cannot have daylight between us. We had some daylight prior to this, or joined with them. And I know, Gantz came out with a statement saying we want to be joined with our regional partners–

MARGARET BRENNAN: The War Cabinet. member who is more centrist than Prime Minister Netanyahu?

REP. MICHAEL MCCAUL: I think a proportionate response here. I think one option would be to take out the facilities where these drones and rockets came from, and also destroy the manufacturing facilities that build the drones and rockets, not just for Israel’s sake, but also for Ukraine’s sake, because these rockets and these drones are being bought by Russia, and they’re killing Ukrainians every day. What happened in Israel last night, happens in Ukraine every night. 

MARGARET BRENNAN: And Ukraine’s Ambassador to the United States Oksana Markarova was tweeting about that point. She called it an Axis of Evil between Russia, Iran and North Korea. But the Speaker of the House doesn’t seem to share, and we’ve talked about this before, the sense of emergency that you have. Why is there still not a date for a vote on Ukraine? I did see the statement from Steve Scalise, the Whip, saying that there should be a consideration of legislation to support Israel. But what does that mean? Is that a vote in the national security supplemental? 

REP. MICHAEL MCCAUL: That is a Speaker determination. I will be speaking, talking to him, this evening with other national security people and chairs. I think it’s- I talked to the ambassador, our ambassador to Ukraine as well. She said the situation is dire. You know, Kharkiv could implode any day now. That’s 2 million people. And the power grid is under threat right now. If the power grid goes out in Ukraine altogether, we don’t have time on our side here, Margaret, we have to get this done. I would implore- what I need to educate my colleagues. They’re all tied together. Yes. I mean, Iran is selling this stuff to Russia. Guess who’s buying Iran’s energy, China. And you know why? Because we lifted or waive the sanctions that we had, this administration, on the drones and the missiles and on the energy, this is given them $100 billion in cash to fund their terror operations. And that’s why we’re seeing this. 

MARGARET BRENNAN: Okay,but you still don’t have a commitment from the Republican Speaker of the House to vote on what you say is a Republican priority that has to drive you mad here. Do you expect to get an answer when you talk to the speaker tonight?

REP. MICHAEL MCCAUL: I have a commitment that will come to the floor, my preferences is-

MARGARET BRENNAN: When?

REP. MICHAEL MCCAUL: This week.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Your preference, but still an open question. I mean, the Speaker of the House went down to Mar a Lago this week, stood beside Donald Trump. And we have not heard the Republican front runner in any way endorse the package that you were saying there are Republican votes to pass.

REP. MICHAEL MCCAUL: He did say he supports this idea of a loan program. 80% of the funding goes into– 

MARGARET BRENNAN: But that’s not in the national security supplemental.

REP. MICHAEL MCCAUL: That- well, that that would be added in our bill, right? In addition REPO my statute to get into the Russian sovereign assets to help pay for this, you know, in addition, 80 billion of this money- 80%, I should say, of the Ukraine funding goes into our defense industrial base, to replenish and modernize our stockpile in the United States. These are all compelling arguments that the Senate bill doesn’t have. And so I, an eternal optimist, I’m doing my part. I, look, we didn’t pick and choose our enemies in World War II. We went after all of them, Japan, Italy, and Germany. We can’t just pick, you know, and say Iran is bad, but Russia is okay. And China is bad. 

MARGARET BRENNAN: We got to stand alone funding. 

REP. MICHAEL MCCAUL: They’re all in this together. And it’s very clear to those of us in the intelligence national security community.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You said something interesting here. You said you have to educate your colleagues. Our polling shows that among Republicans, the most trusted source of information on Ukraine and Russia is Donald Trump 79%, Congressman. 60% trust the Pentagon, conservative media, 56%, which is separated from actual journalists and war zones, which is 33%. The State Department, 27%. How do you fight that information war, when the Republican frontrunner for the presidential nomination is helping to spread some of that disinformation about the war effort?

REP. MICHAEL MCCAUL: Well, I think that’s precisely why the speaker went down and Mar-a-Lago talk to him about the Ukraine package, to get him to agree that, you know, this loan program for direct government assistance, like the EU does, would be acceptable. Remember the first lethal aid package to everyone to Ukraine, that I signed off on, $300 million, came from the Trump administration. They don’t want to see us lose in Ukraine, like we did in Afghanistan, the repercussions are long term, a weaker America not stronger. I don’t think Trump wants to own that. I think he wants to help us get to the point where he gets in, and he can finish the job. 

MARGARET BRENNAN: But that- doesn’t that graphic tell us that in order for any bill to pass, you need Donald Trump to endorse it, even though he’s not even an office?

REP. MICHAEL MCCAUL: I you know, I’ll be honest with you, Margaret, he has tremendous influence over my conference. And that’s why it’s important that we have these discussions with him. But we also, we’re all independent thinkers, we represent our own districts. I happen to think that we haven’t seen a threat like this since my dad’s World War II. And if we don’t stick together, it gets these- this unholy alliance that came after Afghanistan. Remember Afghanistan was the turning point. And that is when the Russian Federation came into Ukraine. Chairman Xi is looking at Taiwan. Ayatollah reared its ugly head. 

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, they first invaded in 2014. But– 

REP. MICHAEL MCCAUL: Correct. 

MARGARET BRENNAN: I take your point. Congressman, we’ll see if that phone call changes minds, or if the meeting in Mar-a-Lago did. We’ll follow this. Thank you. 

REP. MICHAEL MCCAUL: Thank you, Margaret.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Face the Nation will be back in one minute. Stay with us.



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