House Minority Leader Congressman Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) spoke with Brian Kilmeade about former acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe saying he briefed the "Gang of 8" on opening an investigation into President Trump, whether Speaker Paul Ryan and the Republican controlled House let President Trump down over funding for the border wall and Bernie Sanders entering the 2020 Presidential race by calling President Trump an embarrassment, pathological liar, racist, sexist and xenophobe.
Plus, Minority Leader McCarthy on why he agrees with the decision by the Department of Transportation rescinding the nearly $929 million in unspent federal funds over California Governor Gavin Newsom canceling plans for a high speed rail and how the money can be better spent in California.
KILMEADE: With me right now is a man all over this, House Minority Leader Congressman Kevin McCarthy. Congressman, welcome back.
MCCARTHY: Well thank you, Brian for having me back, it's an honor.
KILMEADE: A lot - a lot to discuss. First off -
MCCARTHY: It's a lot, yes.
KILMEADE: -- if I was to characterize the president's - how the president's been distracted by this probe, you've seen him, he probably talks to as much as anybody on the Hill.
How much has this bothered him, this whole thing?
MCCARTHY: You know what, I've watched him, and I've gone down and had dinner in some of the worst days that I have seen that this probe about (ph) him and he'd be so policy focused on foreign policy, how are going to get - I don't know how the - I don't know how the man goes through it.
It will bother you, because it would bother anybody, there's times I'm more upset than I ever see him be upset about it. But he's focused and that's what we needed the president to get this work done.
KILMEADE: All right (ph) it's just amazing because McCabe, who's launched the investigation and he's proud of it, believes that there's an excellent chance that the president of the United States is a Russian asset, working for Vladimir Putin.
MCCARTHY: That is so - every time one of these individuals is fired because of their own problems, they go out and do a book deal, they look dumber with each interview that they go through.
And it's like Comey, now McCabe, it just shows how these individuals tried to run a whole coup on our country and how inept they are - lies and they get caught up in all their own (inaudible).
KILMEADE: Yes, I mean they are caught up in it, and they don't agree with each other. Keep Donald Trump out of it, they don't agree with each other. I'm just astounded by every time there's something about their behavior that's questioned, they don't remember.
But there's something in question that they believe the president's done wrong, they can remember verbatim like it was yesterday. Now the other thing I got to ask you about, this whole gang of a briefing.
He evidently went up there in the spring and Annie McCarthy told me don't even worry about that, the whole country was aware of some type of Russian connection in the spring, and he briefed the Gang of Eight and nobody pushed back.
Do you - were you - you're not in that gang, right? That was Paul Ryan representing the Republicans in the House.
MCCARTHY: I am in the Gang of Eight now but I was not then, so I don't have any information about that. But it just seems to me once again McCabe just going to some other extreme.
I mean listen, this guy, he doesn't understand why the other players in this don't have the same memory that he has, but that's OK. And somehow when you go through all these individuals, Comey (ph) and others, they only take notes when they're with the president, but any other time they're with anybody else they never do.
I just - they're not credible to any of their statements.
KILMEADE: Well is this true, what Trey Gowdy said yesterday, cut 14 (ph).
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
TREY GOWDY, FORMER CONGRESSMAN: That Devin and Paul knew about it, had no problem with it, that's exactly what he's getting at and the reason he's doing it this way is Devin and Paul are not allowed to discuss anything that is said in a Gang of Eight meeting, and McCabe knows that.
So he can level the accusation and Paul and Devin cannot refute him.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
Is that true?
MCCARTHY: Yes, listen. There's a reason why you have a Gang of Eight, there's a reason why people can brief you on a lot of different information, but for somebody - just think of his character.
He - here he is, former acting FBI director, going out in a short amount of time. If he truly believes what he says, why would he ever disrupt the Mueller investigation? Why would he ever say anything?
If he is true to his belief that he is in the (ph) (inaudible) - we all know former FBI members that have worked there, they don't talk about what went on. Those who go and talk about something, nine times out of 10, it's not true.
And they know in a Gang of Eight no one is going to say anything whether it's true or false what - what happens and what's talked about inside a Gang of Eight meeting.
KILMEADE: So if you're in a Gang of Eight now and you hear an FBI director doing something what he - deputy director, saying what - something he said, and I asked you what happened, you would have to say Brian, I cant tell you.
MCCARTHY: Yes, I don't -
KILMEADE: So why is it OK for him to do it? Why is it OK for him to talk about it and he was there?
MCCARTHY: It's not OK for him to talk about it, but it goes to what Trey is trying to convey to you. He - he says something because he knows people in that situation cannot refute him.
So he tries to put a falsity trying to make it real.
KILMEADE: I got to bring you to -
MCCARTHY: It goes to his character as a former acting FBI director to talk about anything. He's doing this for money and he's trying to be sensationalist (ph) as he can to sell more books, the same thing Comey did on his book tour, and the more he spoke, the more discredited he became.
KILMEADE: All right, a couple of things I want to talk about. The president's also taking on the governor in your state because he got $3 billion to build a high speed train, not from this president but from a previous president, and one of the first things Gavin Newsom said is it's not working, it's over budget, I'm not building it.
And now the president said give me the money back then, and he said no this is all a coincidence. It's a coincidence - it's no coincidence that the day after I'm suing - I joined 15 other governors in suing you for using the emergency declaration at the border, now you want your money back.
What do you have to say about this battle between the governor and the president?
MCCARTHY: Look, I've been with - with our governor and with this president, I've watched them work together when it was the fires and others and the president lead (ph). Even though they'll have difference of opinion, but to - to make the accusation that somehow the president is now asking for money back because he's suing, no.
Gavin Newsom, the governor of California, and I - he's half right, that high speed rail was never high speed, it put a bond of $10 billion, it was (ph) going in a patient (ph) that it could not sustain itself.
It was more than $100 billion, it was overdrawn, he should stop the whole thing. So there's still roughly a little less than $1 billion of federal money, well if it's not going to be built, why would you spend that federal money on that?
So what the president is doing, like he should do, looking at all the entities. If there's places we can say, if you're not going to build it, why would you throw money down something that's not going to happen?
I personally think there would be a better use of that money, because that's transportation money, reallocated in California for our highways, or also reallocate it, we have a water issue out there.
I think that would be the best use of the money, those are things federal government should do. But it has nothing to do with the other.
KILMEADE: Well I'm going to tell you what the president just tweeted, California now wants to scale back their already failed fast train project by substantially shortening the distance that it no longer goes from L.A. to San Francisco.
And by the way, to San Diego it was supposed to go I thought. A different deal and a record cost overrun, send the federal government back its money. And you're saying well - acknowledge that you're not using it for that, but try to get it regranted towards something else California needs, right?
MCCARTHY: Yes, what I would do if I was Governor Gavin Newsom, and I'll talk to the president about this, this is transportation money that was allocated for the transportation needs of California.
They are no longer going to do the high speed rail, so why should the federal government put anymore money into that? But there are still transportation needs in California, so why don't you reallocate that money?
We have a highway problem, we have a water issue, that's infrastructure. Reallocate it there, that is a better use, not a waste of tax dollars, and it shouldn't go to a - to a rail that's not going to be high speed, that's not going to be built. That would be a waste of $1 billion.
KILMEADE: So I understand politics and I understand you got to put the other guy down to be successful, Barack Obama to Mitt Romney, we saw that for two years. But I don't understand why Sherrod Brown and Bernie Sanders have one thing in common, the most despicable ways to describe the president humanly possible. Cut 31.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: I think the current argument (ph) of the White House is an embarrassment to our country, I think he is a pathological liar every day, he is telling one lie or another.
And it gives me no pleasure to say that, but I also think he is a racist, a sexist, a homophobe, a xenophobe, somebody who is gaining cheap political points by trying to pick on minorities.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
I'm just astounded why that's not - that's acceptable.
MCCARTHY: You know, our country is too divided. How many of us have lost friends, not because anything we've done with our friendship because one party won one election and another party lost another.
MCCARTHY: We - we are - we are better than this as Americans. We can have differences of opinion, but one thing that we know our own government is designed to do is supply (ph) compromise.
You do not win an election just because you tear somebody else down, tell us what you're for, tell us what you're going to do. If you don't like our tax system, Bernie, if you want to make it 80 percent, then tell the American public that and let the American public decide at the end of the day.
But I really - what I want to have happen here, when the election is over, the election should be over and we should be able to govern. But when you look at people like Tom Steyer and -- who just wants to impeach the president for the sake of impeachment.
They just continue to drive and the worst part of the human nature to do things like this, this is actually what other countries want to have happen in America. I mean it goes to your number one issue - story that you had today.
You know, about an individual that's making up a story that goes to the worst elements of America, right, about racism and others. Well that just drives the issue further and that's what's wrong, and this is what they're going on. They're going on the worst elements of individuals trying to make an election based upon just tearing another person down.
Let's stop talking about what we're for and make a decision what we want America to look like for the next four or six years.
KILMEADE: That would be interesting because I just - I just cannot imagine Ronald Reagan or - or Bill Clinton or George Bush - as bad as they were with Bush, they were never this bad.
I mean it's just accepted now you're going to call the president a racist. But a couple of things, looking at your party, a lot of responsibility is going to go on your shoulders, I read the Politico stories of all places that the president has set up a pretty big machine to get re-elected.
Brad Pescow (ph) in 2020 has assembled corporate offices, got 30 department heads including people that he knows he can trust like Marc Lotter, 30 full time staffers on digital data, assembling a surrogate network.
They expect to have 100 people full time by the end of the year and they're overseeing field deployments across the country. The RNC has invested $10 million already that usually goes to the midterms.
Now what do you need for Republicans to be successful in the House, especially in your state?
MCCARTHY: Well first of all, the number one thing you have to do is recruitment. I'll tell you, I happen to be travelling this week, I'll be in California back to my district tomorrow.
But I was in Houston last night to (inaudible) we lost the Democrats, I was talking to this individual, he had - he went to West Point, his sister went to West Point, his brother went to West Point, his name is Wesley Hunt (ph).
He flew Apache helicopters, he comes out, he works in the business community, he and his wife just have a brand new baby, a 10 day old daughter, it's his biggest excitement. But he watched the country change before his eyes.
Now this is a suburban area, he understands this issue well. He is an individual that I think would be really well served in this. So when I'm going across the country finding individuals who are willing to serve their country, and do you know the thing that I find that some of these very best people to run, this isn't going to be the highest paying job, they're going to take a pay cut.
They're going to have to put their family through something much tougher. And this is the basis that you want to feel (ph) people that - who want to serve. And the first thing we got to do is find the right candidates in the right districts to represent their districts.
KILMEADE: You've got to go - I guess go recruit in your state because New York and California got beat up pretty bad, and you might have an opportunity in Virginia after the corruption that we're seeing there that's an embarrassment to the - the whole country with three Democrats, right?
MCCARTHY: Why are the top three in Virginia still in power?
KILMEADE: Don't know, don't know.
MCCARTHY: Why doesn't their own Democratic Party rise up? We've watched it within our own party, and I will tell you, Brian, I had to make a hard decision when I saw what Steve King had said, I can't remove him from office but I can take him off committees.
But when I watch what Nancy Pelosi does with Omar when she says those anti-Semitic comments, they don't remove her from foreign affairs. You know what they do? They keep her in committee and they said she just has to apologize.
KILMEADE: Don't worry she's - Farrakhan's got her back, so it's no problem.
MCCARTHY: But that is what's wrong, that is not acceptable in this country.
KILMEADE: I got to ask you something else, Kevin, I'm going to put you in an odd spot but I hope you can answer honestly. The president did not mention Paul Ryan's name, but he mentioned how disappointed he was that for two straight budgets, so the Speaker Ryan's House did not give him money more than $1.3 billion or $1.6 billion for a wall that he ran on to the point where he had to shut down the government to make a Democratic House do something and we end up in the mess we're in right now.
Do you actually look at Republican leadership, which you are a part of, and did you guys let the president down?
MCCARTHY: No, no. This is a - look at what the facts are, it was the House that passed the appropriation bill with $5 billion.
KILMEADE: And in a desperation move, you went back and did the impossible, but why'd it get to that point?
MCCARTHY: We - it takes 218 to pass, but what I think the American public and your listeners have to understand, in the Senate it takes 60 votes. It wasn't the president who shut down the government, it's Schumer.
Schumer is the one who sat back and would not pass anything. Schumer is the one that they have the power when they need another eight votes to go forward, it was the House that passed repeal and replace of Obamacare.
It was the Senate that came one vote short, it was the House that wrote the tax bill that passed and went over, it was the House that produced the appropriation bills. So I mean when you sit down and look at history, this is probably one of the most productive Houses we've found.
Unfortunately, we judge it all about Washington and in Washington, the Senate takes 60. So everybody sits back there and the Democrats say oh you had the White House, you had Congress and you had the Senate.
Yes we did, but we don't have the rule, why wouldn't the president have all of his appointments yet? Because in the Senate, they hold all that time up, it is the Democrats that are making this impossible.
KILMEADE: One of the most powerful Republicans in the country, Kevin McCarthy, thanks so much for your time.
MCCARTHY: Thank you, Brian.
KILMEADE: You got it.