CLTV: Quigley Joins Politics Tonight to Discuss Democrats’ Options in the Trump Investigations
HOST: Joining us now, Illinois Congressman Mike Quigley. He's a member of the House Intelligence Committee. He is live from the state capitol. Congressman, welcome back to the show. Let me start by saying, as you know, the White House lawyer Pat Cipollone issuing a letter today saying, look, anything you want has to tie to legislating. They're giving you nothing, and they're giving you nobody. What is Congress going to do about this besides hold people in contempt?
QUIGLEY: All you can do is use the court process, Paul. The fact of the matter is, this is a President of the United States that does not respect the rule of law or the Constitutional separation of power and legitimate oversight powers of Congress. So, rather than act as bad as the President of the United States, we're going to follow the rule of law. We're going to go to courts and enforce these subpoenas.
HOST: But as you know, Congressman, clearly what the President is trying to do--these are delay tactics into 2020, keep this thing tied up in the courts. All of that. Democrats understand that. Fines, contempt. I don't know how helpful that is in the next election though I understand you have a job to do. But is there anything more powerful Democrats can do to show the American people that they are keeping the balance of power in check?
QUIGLEY: I think what people are talking about is inherent contempt and perhaps Congressional jail. I was kidding around saying perhaps a greater punishment is to make those who don't comply sit through a twelve-hour Congressional markup meeting. They'll be certain to give in at some point in time. Look, this is a serious matter and we have a job to do. What's important to recognize is the Special Counsel wanted Congress to determine whether or not obstruction took place. He gave us a pretty good idea that he did, citing specific examples. But it's very hard for us to do that when the report he prepared has pages like this that we have to address. So unless we get the unredacted report, for example, how are we to know if criminal activity took place? The President of the United States -- it was never gleaned that he would have executive privilege to protect himself or others from a criminal investigation.
HOST: As you know, Don McGahn is scheduled to appear next week probably won't. Robert Mueller was scheduled to appear today actually. That didn't happen even through William Barr, Attorney General, said he had no problem with Mueller appearing. So, even on those aspects of needing that testimony, would it make sense for Democrats to actually open impeachment proceedings? It doesn't mean you have to impeach. You can decide in the end not to impeach. Wouldn't that be a bridge between Democrats who want to impeach and those who don't? Then you get what you want.
QUIGLEY: I think what we should start with is a dialogue and discussion about impeachment. For a long time, I've been telling people, let us complete the investigation. Let's get the unredacted report. We haven't even begun to reopen the counterintelligence investigation, which is how this whole process started. But, I think it's fair now because we've been told that you're not going to be able to get all of these documents unless there is an impeachment proceeding. I like to think a court would see through that and understand, in an expedited fashion, we can't possibly know whether an impeachment is appropriate if we don't have the full body of information.
HOST: I do want to clarify one thing. You mentioned inherent contempt. There are various kinds of contempt. The truth is that criminal contempt would require Attorney General Barr to enforce it, but against his own people he's not going to do that. Is inherent contempt something that the House can simply do on its own that you don't need DOJ for?
QUIGLEY: That's absolutely right, and what you can do with that, which is I guess possibly fines or Congressional jail are things that are open for consideration. The bottom line is I still think it makes sense to go through the legal process. We have to show the American public that we're doing this the right way. That it's not a partisan attack as the President says. This is the right thing to do. Look at the number of indictments that came out of the Mueller investigation. Three of the people closest to this President of the United States are in jail for their actions. Donald Jr. is being brought back frankly because he lied to us, and he didn't answer a whole slew of questions. And Mueller said that he was communicating with WikiLeaks. This is important information to get, and we're going to proceed.
HOST: Alright, while I have you, let's talk about some other things. Immigration plan should be coming out tomorrow from the President compliments of Jared Kushner and Stephen Miller. It's probably dead on arrival, but what's your reaction to the fact that it doesn't deal with DACA, it requires merits immigration, and everyone has got to take a civics test?
QUIGLEY: The bottom line is we need comprehensive immigration reform. Four years ago, the Senate passed an appropriate bill on a bipartisan basis. Republicans refused to put it on the floor. So, the House will go forward with appropriate comprehensive immigration. Mr. Kushner's bill and the President's bill will go nowhere, I think, in either House. So, we're going to be working on this from an appropriations point of view and a legislative point of view and attempting to educate the American public why it matters as to who we are as a country and, frankly, our economy as well.
HOST: By the way, since the Republicans have interpreted the Mueller report essentially as saying it's okay to meet with Russians and talk to them, we now have Rudy Giuliani off to the Ukraine to get them to investigate Joe Biden and his son Hunter. Is this the new normal?
QUIGLEY: If this is the new normal, we're all in trouble. I think you have to go backwards and put this in proper perspective. The fact of the matter is the President has surrounded himself with people committing criminal activities. Our job is to determine whether he was involved. But larger than that was--was the President compromised and were these actions by people like Manafort changing American policy? If we're talking about Ukraine, it was Paul Manafort who went forward with a Ukrainian peace plan that would have helped the Russians a great deal and would have eliminated the sanctions on them for what they're doing on human rights and what they're doing in Ukraine. I think the President has the opposite but if his followers believe him, what are we to do?
HOST: Alright, Congressman, we have less than a minute. I want to talk about Iran for just a moment. The President and his Administration seems to think a threat is coming. The British General says there is no threat. Who are we supposed to believe?
QUIGLEY: I think the President of the United States is playing a very dangerous game. This is saber rattling and brinkmanship at its worst. You have to be very careful. What did we learn from the great book The Guns of August about how the first World War started? People were trying to create situations in which war was inevitable, and they weren't understanding where the other side was on these issues. This would be a devastating war. We have to have a check on the President, and he doesn't have the authorization to go to war that he thinks he does.
HOST: Congressman Mike Quigley of Illinois, thank you sir for your time. We'll talk again soon. Appreciate you.
QUIGLEY: Thank you. Talk soon.