“One of the biggest questions I have back home in the 10th District of Georgia is, ‘When are heads going to roll over all this corruption?'” says Rep. Jody Hice, a Republican. “People want justice.” Hice joins the podcast to discuss the new report released by the Justice Department’s inspector general, Michael Horowitz. He also discusses government spending and the impeachment process. Read a lightly edited transcript, posted below, or listen on the podcast:
We also cover the following stories:
- Michael Horowitz testifies on the Hill.
- Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell talks about impeachment.
- Time names climate change activist Greta Thunberg as its person of the year.
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Daniel Davis: I’m joined now by Congressman Jody Hice. He represents Georgia’s 10th Congressional District. He sits on the Oversight and Reform Committee and is a member of the House Freedom Caucus, and notably he is host of the “Freedom Caucus Podcast.” Thanks for your time, Congressman.
Rep. Jody Hice: Great to be here with you. Thanks for having me.
Davis: So this week we got the long-awaited inspector general report about the origins of the FBI’s surveillance on the Trump campaign and how that came about. The report says there was no direct evidence of political bias on the FBI’s part, just a ton of incompetence, lots of errors and mistakes and omissions in their applications to the FISA [Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act] court to get their warrant. Based on your reading of the facts, what do you make of that conclusion?
Hice: Yeah. I would disagree with that conclusion. You don’t have to go very far to see that this was much more than incompetence. There was an effort to go after the president and, fortunately, we have another investigation going on with Attorney General [William] Barr and [U.S. Attorney John] Durham.
And of course they immediately came out themselves challenging those conclusions and their investigation is much broader, much deeper. They have much more information to draw from. And it was as though they were responding with a, “Not so fast here, we have more information. We’ve got the goods. We know that there was indeed an attempt out of bias to destroy the president and to go after him.” And I think that’s going to come out when their investigation concludes.
But I think … the report itself was fine. I do disagree with some of the conclusions, but this ought to send chills down the spine of every American. When you think that the FBI literally was weaponized to spy on American citizens, that is a chilling reality that took place. And we have got to get to the bottom of this, and I think at the end of the day, particularly when Barr’s investigation is over, we will get to the bottom of this.
Davis: Yeah. One of the big questions that I had looking over this is, if the FBI thought that Russia was trying to bait the Trump campaign and they wanted to stop that, why not just talk to the Trump campaign and say, “Hey, they’re trying to bait you, you need to watch out.”? Instead, they launched a secret surveillance investigation.
Hice: Yeah, and the reason they were launching a secret investigation, in my opinion, is because it was the DNC [Democratic National Committee] and Hillary Clinton that [were] paying for this thing. I mean, … the false dossier … you start connecting the dots of this thing and you see that it is very broad. It’s very deep state, if you will, heavily involved in this whole process, and the president really was victim in this.
And it is revealed, exposed, I believe, even in what [Justice Department Inspector General Michael] Horowitz has come out with to this point that yes, there was the whole FISA warrant—at least 17 major significant errors and omissions involved in putting together a false document in order to get a FISA warrant. Thereby to begin spying on the president and his campaign.
That is a frightful reality that took place in the United States. And behind it all, it is being funded by Democrats and high-ranking individuals within the Democratic Party. And so I think when this comes out further with the investigation that Barr is doing, we’re going to see some extremely disturbing realities and some facts when that report comes out.
Davis: Yeah. William Barr, the attorney general, says he … wants to take steps to make sure this kind of thing doesn’t happen again. And that must be the big concern, right? Because there already was protocol in place.
Hice: That’s right.
Davis: So what do you do?
Hice: Well, what you do is you make people pay who have broken the law and they’ve broken the trust of the American people, individuals who have been involved in this …
One of the biggest questions I have back home in the 10th District of Georgia is, “When are heads going to roll over all this corruption?”
People want to know. People want justice. People want to believe that Lady Justice is still blindfolded, that it does not matter if you have a “D” in front of your name or not, that if you break the law, if you violate the trust of the American people in this deep kind of way that apparently has taken place here, that there are going to be consequences and you’re not going to be protected or find cover just because you have a “D” in front of your name in this instance.
And so yeah, I think William Barr is coming out with the statement already. He’s setting the pathway, he’s setting the standard that heads are going to roll and that’s how you prevent this type of thing from happening in the future.
Davis: Well, this week, House Democrats have put forward two articles of impeachment against President Trump and they’re saying that they have to impeach him now because he clearly cheated in the first election and the second one is coming up. So, you’ve got to prevent that from happening. What’s your response?
Hice: Yeah. I mean, they were doing this before he ever even took office. … As a candidate, the day after he was inaugurated, they were talking about impeaching him. And it’s stunning to me that they were talking about impeachment before the phone call with the Ukrainian president ever even took place. In fact, [House Speaker] Nancy Pelosi announced that they were going to proceed with impeachment before the facts ever even came out on this thing.
This has been a Democratic Party from Day One of this administration that has aggressively been looking for haystacks anywhere they can find it, in hopes that there’s a needle somewhere in the haystack. And they’ve just been going from one issue to another, to another, to another, trying to find anything that they can thereby come up and say, “Hey, look what we found. Now we can impeach the president and justify it.”
And with these two articles that they’ve come up with, they’re extremely vague. They still have not declared what the president did that was an abuse of power. What did he do that obstructed Congress? It’s all vague, lame attempts to create something out of nothing.
The only thing the Democrats do not have in this entire impeachment inquiry is evidence, and that’s a pretty big deal. When you’re talking about impeaching the president, you need evidence of crimes, treason, bribery, high crimes and misdemeanors and there is zero evidence of any of that.
Davis: What do you make of the process that’s played out and what Republicans have or haven’t been able to do?
Hice: Yeah. It’s been the most unfair thing I’ve ever seen in my life. Never would I have dreamed that this type of process would actually take place in the United States of America. We have not been given a voice. … As minority party, we have not been allowed to subpoena people.
There have been times that [House Intelligence Committee Chairman] Adam Schiff literally stopped the witnesses from answering questions that were coming from Republicans because he was uncomfortable with where those questions may lead.
The president has not been able to defend himself. We’ve not been able to call any witnesses that we wanted to talk with. By House rules, the minority is supposed to be given a minority hearing. To this day, we still have not been granted a hearing where we are able to subpoena people and have our own questioning of individuals. That has not taken place.
I mean, the whole thing has been an absolute sham. While we were meeting in the basement of the Capitol with the depositions that Adam Schiff was leading, we were not allowed to talk to the media, but they continually leaked specific phrases from the witnesses that they were allowed to bring forth.
Again, we were not allowed to have any witnesses we wanted. They only brought witnesses that they thought would bring damaging reports and testimony against the president and then they leaked certain things to the press that they wanted to. If we leaked anything, we would be in trouble.
So it’s absolutely indescribable how unjust, how partisan, how enormous of a hoax this whole thing has been. It has consisted of anything but fairness and justice.
Davis: Adam Schiff released a report about his committee’s impeachment investigation. Why do you think he hasn’t testified yet?
Hice: He needs to. He absolutely needs to. He is the architect behind this whole sham. He is the one that put it together and hopefully he will be required to provide testimony under oath if this goes on to the Senate. Hopefully his day of reckoning will come.
But just for an example, when all of this started, it was Adam Schiff who basically was saying the whistleblower was … You would think the whistleblower was the most important person in the world at that time, and we have information, we have found a needle so to speak, and Adam Schiff was touting, and Nancy Pelosi, this whistleblower was going to testify in the very near future. Then it became known that Adam Schiff and his staff and/or his staff had been coordinating with the whistleblower on this whole thing.
In fact, the whistleblower was not even a whistleblower until after he or she met with Schiff and his staff and they convinced that individual to come forward as a whistleblower.
Once that information became known, then all of a sudden Adam Schiff did not want that whistleblower to testify and he started going to individuals who [had], again, hearsay, second-, third-, fourth-hand information. Many of the witnesses who came forward had zero information whatsoever. No fat witnesses have been brought forth from this whole thing.
And you and I, [we] cannot get a speeding ticket on second-hand information, but this whole process has been, “We’re going to impeach the president on ‘He said, she said that they heard someone thought this, that, and it.'” It is absolute insanity what the Democrats are dragging the American people through.
Davis: Are you concerned that this could create a “cry wolf” effect where you impeach the president, we impeached in the ’90s, now we we’re impeaching President Trump? Eventually, the American people might just think, “Oh impeachment, that’s a partisan thing.”
Hice: Well, that’s certainly what it is now. And that is part of the risk that we are facing with impeachment. Impeachment is supposed to be for serious high crimes and misdemeanors and there is none of that involved here.
In fact, already, Democrats are saying that if this impeachment fails, they are going to turn around and impeach him again. And it just goes back to their attempt to impeach him the day after he was inaugurated, before he had ever had an opportunity to do anything wrong. …
And listen, just because you don’t like a president, that’s fine, but that is not an impeachable offense. The Democrats here are trying to impeach someone they don’t like and they don’t like his policies. They are fearful he is going to be reelected, and so they’re only out is to try to impeach him and they’re doing anything they can. So yeah, I think this sets an extremely dangerous precedent for the whole impeachment process for future administrations.
Davis: Well, shifting to something that Congress has more traditionally focused on, and that’s spending. It is December, which means you and your colleagues are going to be voting on a bunch of spending measures or depending how it shakes out, one big spending measure. We’ll see.
So House Democrats are packing these bills with lots of progressive items that I would imagine are just going to get taken out in the Senate. Do you think they’re going to be successful?
Hice: Yeah. I hope they will. You say there’s going to be a bunch of spending measures, whether it’s a bunch of measures or one big measure. What we do know, it’s a bunch of spending and a bunch of unnecessary spending. And yeah, hopefully the Senate will help us get rid of a lot of the stuff, but look, this is another example of the lack of ability. In fact, the absolute inability of the Democrats to legislate and to lead.
We have had spending issues. We have known for the entire year that the government was going to run out of money on the 20th. They did nothing all year long. They were focused on impeachment. Same is true with funding our military and we have a host of other issues … lowering drug prices, for example, USMCA [United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement], all these things all year long, the Democrats have done absolutely nothing.
And when the president tags them as the “Do-Nothing Dems,” he is spot on. They have done absolutely nothing.
Now we come to the end of the year and we have spending measures that need to be passed. We have funding the military … needs to be passed and there is no telling what kind of garbage is going to be placed in those spending bills.
But again, we are going to be coming back right before Christmas having battles when everyone’s wanting to be home with their families for Christmas. And the Democrats are hopeful that during that pressure that people will cave and just pass whatever they put on the table. And I can tell you, there’s a bunch of us who that is not going to be enough. We’re going to be fighting tooth and nail to limit … the size and scope and spending of government.
Davis: Well, we tend to see more and more short-term continuing resolution bills instead of these yearlong appropriations bills, and that’s become really a pattern in the last five, 10 years in Congress. How did we get there and what’s the problem in Congress that’s keeping Congress from actually passing long-term bills?
Hice: You’ve got appropriators who, I mean, they have struggled. Everything has become so partisan. We are living in an environment where partisanship is the rule of the day. And so it becomes increasingly difficult to find agreement on these massive spending bills when it’s so intensely charged with partisan politics. And that becomes even more of an issue in the Senate, but that is driving all of this.
So … it becomes as partisan as it is absent the best interest of the United States, but more the best interest of our partisan party politics. Then what gets put into these bills is all sorts of measures that are advancing political agendas rather than advancing that which is in the best interest of the United States as a whole.
And so you have, for example, in an NDAA [National Defense Authorization Act] bill—a spending bill to fund our military—we now have in a military funding bill a measure that’s going to give parental leave and all this sort of stuff to every federal employee, right? So that’s partisan. If we’re going to deal with a military spending bill, then let’s deal with just military issues.
But that’s what happens when everything becomes partisan party-driven. All these spending measures start getting heaped with partisan party agenda, political agenda measures that are placed in them and that becomes poison pills for a number of people and shuts the process down.
Davis: Would you say that House leadership has too much control over the legislative process, that the committees that you’re on need to have more power?
Hice: Absolutely. Yeah. And that’s where a lot of the problem is as well. … we have committees that are assigned the responsibility to do different things, whatever it was within the jurisdiction of X, Y, Z committee. And those committees need to be given the authority to do their work and to submit that work to the Congress as a whole for a vote. Instead, leadership more often than not dictates what is going to be done even within committee work.
And so yeah, … that in itself becomes a very partisan issue because leadership of whatever party is in control too often, is dictating everything that’s taking place, even in committee work.
Davis: All right. Well, we’ll see what happens with the spending bills and of course impeachment and everything else. Congressman Jody Hice, I want to plug your podcast one more time because our listeners should check it out. It’s the “Freedom Caucus Podcast.” Congressman, thank you for your time.
Hice: Well, thank you. And let me just say the “Freedom Caucus Podcast” is all about bringing back information, inside baseball information, to people as to what’s happening. The best way to find it, I think, [is to] find us on Facebook, facebook.com/freedomcaucus and at Twitter, simply @FreedomCaucus. Follow us. Subscribe at iTunes or SoundCloud. We encourage people to do that.
Davis: All right. Thank you so much.
Hice: Thank you.