Quigley Discusses Niger Ambush and President Trump’s Response on CNN
CHICAGO — Today, Representative Mike Quigley (IL-05), who serves on the House Intelligence Committee, spoke with CNN’s Kate Bolduan on the Niger ambush and President Trump’s response. Click here to watch the interview or see the transcript below.
BOLDUAN: Let me bring in right now though, joining to discuss, Democratic Congressman Mike Quickly, of Illinois, a Member of the House Intelligence Committee. Congressman, thanks for coming in.
QUIGLEY: Good morning.
BOLDUAN: Good morning. The FBI now being involved in the Niger investigation. What is the biggest question in your mind right now with regard to this ambush?
QUIGLEY: What was the intel information offered to the troops before they hit the ground? Were there communication issues? [Why was] one of the sergeants separated from the rest? Clearly, we have more questions than answers. We’ve only got a cursory briefing given the time of the Intel Committee staffers. We anticipate a fuller briefing shortly from my Committee, the Intel Committee, and I’m sure Armed Services.
BOLDUAN: Do you know when that will be happening? I mean, James Mattis the Defense Secretary is going to sit down with John McCain today. When do you think you will all be fully briefed even in the classified setting?
QUIGLY: You know, I suspect it will probably be in the coming week when we're back in Washington, D.C. I suspect still it will be cursory because this investigation is going to take some time and there will be multiple investigations within the Department of Defense, as there are in all such instances, such as the Yemen raid, which, unfortunately, was a tragedy of equal proportions. So I suspect we'll get a cursory briefing to some extent next week, and then continued briefings as D.O.D. learns more and, hopefully, sharing this information with the other committees that have responsibility.
BOLDUAN: Do you think in any way D.O.D. has been -- I don't know of a better way of saying it, holding out? I mean, John McCain was very frustrated that he hasn't gotten the information he thinks he's deserved already.
QUIGLEY: I think this Administration as a whole has been opaque—at best—on anything. Clearly, the President of the United States doesn't like to take responsibility for anything that goes wrong. I can't think of a single time in which he said this was my fault, my responsibility. We think of President Kennedy after the Bay of Pigs, highly different story than this president after the Yemen raid, in which he publicly blamed the generals. Look, this is going to get more complicated. We have known for some time that the likely demise on the battlefield in Iraq and Syria, of ISIS. But we also recognize that it's going to have its ramifications elsewhere. We're going to see returning fighters going across the world in terrorist acts. We’re probably going to see insurgency acts like we just saw. This is an insurgency group likely formed because of the battlefield losses in Iraq and Syria. We’re gonna have to be prepared for that. Do we have the information we need; do we have a strategy in place to fully meet this challenge?
BOLDUAN: Well, there are clearly so many answers still being sought there. What do you make of how this has devolved this week from a question about the President's thoughts on the Niger attack at a press conference Monday to now name calling between the President and his Chief of Staff and a Democratic Member of Congress?
QUIGLEY: Yeah, it’s a second tragedy for those families who have lost their [family] members. It should never have happened this way. The fact of the matter is, when something like this happens, immediately, the House and Senate need to be informed. The American public needs to know exactly what took place to the extent we can tell them, and those that were lost need to be comforted and offered assistance. The second tragedy for these families is they are dragged through this horrible, embarrassing mess that I suspect just poured salt on terrible wounds they're already suffering.
BOLDUAN: If the President made this political, Congressman, does Congresswoman Wilson deserve criticism as well for making it political and continuing it as well?
QUIGLEY: Look, I don't want to reference John Kelly because of his loss and I wasn't part of the conversation with the Congresswoman, so if you're asking me who do I believe in this matter, it's probably the family that was part of that conversation and agrees with the Congresswoman. So if you're asking me how to do this on a nonpartisan basis, I would suggest that we should probably all trust the grieving families and their account of what took place, which would agree with the Congresswoman. Let me just say this, this is a President that cannot sympathize or empathize with those who have suffered, and as a result, perhaps what they should do – [what his staff should try to tell the president is that] when he talks to grieving families, is let's reference the president who seemed to know how to do this, quoting perhaps President Lincoln’s letter, the Bixby letter, in which he says, “I pray that our heavenly father may assuage the anguish of your bereavement and leave you only the cherished memory of the loved and lost, and the solemn pride that must be yours to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of freedom.” If he can't do it, at least reference a president who could.