Quigley on MSNBC: What we are doing is lawful and appropriate
HOST: The President rallying this week against oversight efforts by Democrats. Joining me now, Congressman Mike Quigley. A Democrat from Illinois and also a member of the Intelligence Committee. Sir, I appreciate your being with me. I want to start with this. How do you and your fellow Democrats counter the President's narrative without overplaying your hand here? Is there a delicate balance or not?
QUIGLEY: I think there is and first, Happy Mother's Day to my wife and my mom, so I get that out first. This is a tough balance. I think the most appropriate and important thing we do is let the American public know that we respect the rule of law unlike this President. I like to think that contrast shows that what we are doing is lawful and appropriate. What the President has done is attack the rule of law and, frankly, the Constitution. We're going to abide by this. We're going to use the subpoena and the courts to get the President to do what he should have done all along.
HOST: When it comes to actual action, other options out there for that to happen, because right now we're not seeing any. The Chairman of your Committee repeated today that his suggestion that officials who don't comply could be fined $20,000 a day. So here's a suggestion from a top member of the Ways and Means Committee. Let's listen.
DOGGETT (clip): We should consider the power of inherent contempt, an old doctrine that allows the Congress itself to issue a--summons an arrest warrant to an official and demand that they appear at a congressional hearing, be subject to fines, to jail time. I think we ought to explore contracting with area correction institutions and provide some additional support for our Sergeant at Arms so the White House will get the message that we are serious.
HOST: So when it comes to fining officials and issuing an arrest warrant, is that something you support? And would you see it in any case here that backfiring to help the President and the Republicans politically?
QUIGLEY: I think that's exactly why the President is doing what he's doing. Whatever we think about Richard Nixon, let's remember he acted and he abided by a court order. A unanimous Supreme Court order that he release the tapes. I don't think this President will. That's what concerns me. We've talked about a Constitutional crisis for some time now. And I think we have been in that crisis. When it really becomes an extraordinary test to the fabric of our nation and our Constitution. I believe this President won't abide by orders like that. I don't know how long the court actions will take. I think we should ask for expedited action by all the courts on all these matters. Look, it's very clear that the Special Counsel left it to the Congress to decide whether or not there were crimes committed and obstruction. But how are we supposed to act and make decisions on that when this is a typical part of the redacted report? There's nothing for us to look at. So it's part of our--as a coequal branch--authority to review these matters. The President is obstructing, continuing that process. We have to act understanding that we are before the court of public opinion, and that does matter.
HOST: And when you say "act," do you see the avenue of going through the courts the only effective way of actually seeing something through?
QUIGLEY: Clearly, at first. Depending on, again, how Chairman Schiff responded I think is appropriate. Depending on how long those courts take. If it becomes unduly long, Congress will have to have that discussion my colleagues are talking about and take other actions.
HOST: Alright, I want to talk about here when it comes to this. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy criticized the Judiciary Chairman and Democrats for not reading the less-redacted Mueller report in a secure environment. Let's play that.
McCarthy (clip): If Chairman Nadler was that serious about getting to the bottom, he hasn't even taken the time to go read, which he is approved the read, the 99.9% of any obstruction inside the Mueller report. But he hasn't even gone to read it, while trying to hold the Attorney General in contempt. He's asking him to break the law.
HOST: Okay, so should the Judiciary Committee be holding the Attorney General in contempt without even looking at the mostly unredacted Mueller report? Does Congressman McCarthy, who we just heard from, have a point here?
QUIGLEY: No, it's almost humorous. He's talking about us not taking action. We have passed legislation from healthcare to gun control to climate change in the last several weeks. We're capable of doing more than one thing at a time. But how ridiculous it is for the Minority Leader to talk about we should accept the decisions by the Attorney General who has acted as Special Counsel to White House instead of an independent Justice Department on what we can and can't see. You know, just weeks ago, the President was clapping for himself about the fact that they weren't holding up executive privilege on this matter. All of a sudden, that changed. First they talked about the fact that it exonerates them. Well, if it does, at least let the Judiciary Committee and the Intelligence Committee see the unredacted report. There is absolutely no way they can be trusted to decide what Congress should see or the American public.
HOST: I want to ask you about the other investigations--the other requests--including the subpoena for Donald Trump Jr. That subpoena coming from the President. He testified before your committee. What do you think they want to ask him and what do you hope that they will ask him?
QUIGLEY: This is a Senate request at this time. I suspect that it will be a House request sometime shortly thereafter. And it is good to see some of my Republican Senate colleagues step up in a manner that Senator Flake, Senator McCain used to against this President when it was the right thing to do. I suspect, I don't know for sure, that they have the same problem with Trump Jr.'s testimony. He didn't answer a slew of questions. I believe he lied to my Committee. And I think we are mindful of the Special Counsel in his report talked about the fact that Trump Jr. was in communications with WikiLeaks. So, certainly a lot of questions to ask. I'm curious if that goes forward and whether or not Trump Jr. will comply with that subpoena.
HOST: Congressman, you talked about focusing on this and the investigations going into this and the requests as well as the other policy issues at hand: healthcare, the economy as well. So, what are your constituents telling you about that? Do they want you to keep putting pressure on the Administration? Or, again, as you say that you can do, split it and do both?
QUIGLEY: I think they want us to do both. Look, I live in Chicago. They want us to address violent crime, particularly as it relates to gun violence. They want to help our schools. They want to get as many people covered by healthcare as they possibly can, and they recognize that this is the first generation to suffer the extraordinary effects of climate change and probably the last generation that can do anything about it. They see us doing both actively, and I think they want the President to cooperate.
HOST: Alright, Representative Mike Quigley, I appreciate your time and being with me. Thank you.
QUIGLEY: Any time. Thank you.