Congressman Adam Kinzinger talked with Fox News Radio's Guy Benson about being a member of the 'Task Force' on countering China. Rep. Kinzinger revealed to Guy that Democrats pulled out of bipartisan task force. Saying,
"Here's the important point to note. I was actually asked to be on this last fall. So this was supposed to be a bipartisan task force. And then right about the end of February, this thing fell apart. Now, the Democrats aren't, you know, responding to why they're not answering questions on it. Well, let's think about what was happening at the end of February. You know, you had Trump's travel ban. The Democrats called it racist. And then, you know, Nancy Pelosi was saying everybody should go have dinner in Chinatown that night. And so they wanted to back out because they were going to either play race politics with this or they didn't want to be, you know, involved with that."
Listen To The Full Interview Below:
Audio Clip: The evidence we've been able to develop from the killer's devices shows that the Pensacola attack was actually the brutal culmination of years of planning and preparation by a longtime AQAP associate. He was meticulous in his planning. He made pocket cam videos as he cased his classroom building. He wrote a final will purporting to explain himself and saved it in his phone. The exact same will that AQAP released two months later when they initially claimed responsibility.
Guy Benson: It's the Guy Benson Show. That was Christopher Wray, the FBI director, announcing yesterday that there is now conclusive evidence that the terrorist who shot and killed three people at a Navy base in Pensacola in December of last year was, in fact, radicalized and directly in contact with al-Qaida of the Arabian Peninsula, which is AQAP. This was not just a lone wolf. This was someone who was acting in concert with an international terrorist organization. The attorney general, Bill Bar. Filled in some more details on this, put more meat on the bones. Listen to Cut 21,.
Audio Clip: The phones contained information previously unknown to us that definitively establishes Al Shum a significant ties to al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, not only before the attack, but before he even arrived in the United States. We now have a clearer understanding of al-Sham rani's associations and activities in the years, months and days leading up to his attack.
Guy Benson: The attorney general went on to critique Apple, which the government is saying didn't really assist as much as they could or should have in unlocking the phone and helping with the device. After the attack occurred Cut 22,.
Audio Clip: It was clear at the time that the phones were likely to contain very important information. Indeed, al-Sham Ronney attempted to destroy both of the phones, even going so far as to disengage from the gunfight long enough to fire a bullet into one of the phones. Unfortunately, Apple would not help us unlock the phones.
Guy Benson: The company says that they did help, but the government obviously disagrees that whatever they provided was sufficient. Joining me now is Congressman Adam Kinzinger, a Republican of Illinois. And Congressman, before we get to some of the news of the day, I would argue this absolutely is news of the day, and yet it's barely caused a blip. This seems to be like a pretty important story in my book. A confirmation of a tie, a terrorist attack on U.S. soil just a few months ago to an international terrorist organization, in fact, an offshoot of the terrorist organization that carried out 9/11. And we saw this announcement at the DOJ yesterday. And it was it got a little bit of attention. But it's just surprising, perhaps, given all the other news that's been consuming us recently, that this was like a second, third or fourth tier story.
Rep. Kinzinger: Yeah, I don't disagree with you. And maybe it's you know, people are so focused on COVID or the politics behind it or whatever, but this is a huge deal. And, you know, and as a guy that went through pilot training myself, you know, to think that you could be training with somebody that could turn and do this and actually have planned it is is definitely beyond concerning. It's disgusting. And, you know, I'm glad we got to the bottom of it. And hopefully justice can be served to anybody else involved. But yeah, I agree. I mean, we've got to when it comes to the news, you know, of the day or whatever, we've got to be focused on more than just the, you know, the death count because of COVID. Because that's. Yeah. Important. But there's also a lot going on around place
Guy Benson: Other things happening. And I just want to point out The Wall Street Journal has a story about this today. They remind us that this terrorist posted anti-American rants on social media a few hours before he opened fire in a classroom at the naval air station Pensacola. That was December the 6th. He killed three people, wounded eight more. He was then fatally shot. We know he'd been communicating with al-Qaeda shortly before the attack. These were operatives, AQAP, that he was in touch with. And the FBI director, Chris Wray, said his communications had radicalization based on the evidence that they have dated back to his earliest 2015, which kind of raises some of the questions. Congressman. Why was this person in the country? Were there red flags that were missed if he was radicalized five years ago or at the time, four and a half years ago and he was in contact with al-Qaeda and he was posting anti-American stuff on social media, and yet he was training to become a pilot at a Navy air station and then murdered Americans. That seems kind of like the system failed.
Rep. Kinzinger: Yeah, absolutely. And, you know, especially when it comes to the social media piece in terms of, you know, what's basically publicly out there now, you know, do we have people working at the Navy bases that are constantly searching everybody, social media? Probably not, but something like that should be triggered. You know, we shouldn't be so politically correct that if somebody says something anti-American, we wash it under the rug. We sweep it under the rug because mean,.
Guy Benson: He was a Saudi and 15 of the 19 hijackers were for Saudi. Right. So, I mean, this isn't this isn't much of a leap here. And I understand that we have partnerships in strategic allies and we try to train some of those folks to be good guys in their neck of the woods. But we have to be very careful that we're not dealing with basically sleeper agents. And if this guy was in active communication with AQAP and I've been radicalized for years, to have him as one of the people as part of this program, I think is is a real problem. Last question on this, Congressman. There's been criticism. We played the clip from Bill Bar of Apple, not doing enough to help the government access phones and perhaps access evidence as quickly as they could have. Apple saying we did participate. We did assist. But they have, I guess, consumer privacy questions to deal with. What is, in your mind, the appropriate balance here? If the government's saying we have a terrorist, we need to get new his phone? What's the obligation of an American tech company to their customers in terms of privacy and to the national security interests? I don't think it's a totally simple question.
Rep. Kinzinger: No, it's not. And it's really what we've been doing out here all the time. So every time, you know, these civil libertarians go out here in Congress, go on TV and talk about, you know, the things the government's doing. This is the kind of stuff that comes into play. So if you don't want the government to be able to, you know, anything like this and then go with the libertarian viewpoint. But there's got to be a middle ground in this case. You know, I think if you're an American company on a terrorist investigation, you've got to help the American government, because, by the way, and I'm not going to the level of accusation and Apple because I don't know. But there are a lot of American companies that are very eager to please the Chinese with their requirements. Know the Russians want their requirements. And I get that China has a billion and a half people and it's a big market. But if you're not going to help your own country and you're going to go out of your way to censor or to provide or do whatever to these communist nations, there has to be some accountability for that.
Guy Benson: I think it's a fair point. And I also think, look, I might be a little closer to the libertarian side than you are on this question. And I don't really trust big tech a lot of the time, and I do have very serious privacy concerns and I don't think that should be taken lightly. But in this case, I mean, you had a a terrorist attack where the perpetrator was dead. And I feel like at that point, I'm not I'm not quite sure what the problem was, but it's a story that we're following. And I just wanted to make sure that we devoted at least a few minutes to it on this show because it could very easily get lost. Given everything else that's going on, you did mention China. Congressman, I want to ask you about the China task force that you are a part of. And the bill that and the legislation that you're looking at and introducing, in fact, in Congress this week. Give us the upshot of what you're involved in.
Rep. Kinzinger: Yes. So the China task force here. Here's the important point to note. I was actually asked to be on this last fall. So this was supposed to be a bipartisan task force. And then right about the end of February, this thing fell apart. Now, the Democrats aren't, you know, responding to why they're not answering questions on it. Well, let's think about what was happening at the end of February. You know, you had Trump's travel ban. The Democrats called it racist. And then, you know, Nancy Pelosi was saying everybody should go have dinner in Chinatown that night. And so they wanted to back out because they were going to either play race politics with this or they didn't want to be, you know, involved with that. So what we're doing there.
Guy Benson: Wait, wait. Hang on, hang on. Let let me just start interrupt. But I want to make sure I'm understanding this properly. There was going to be a China task force. This was established late last year and it was moving forward on a bipartisan basis. And then the Democrats withdrew from the task force in February.
Rep. Kinzinger: Yeah. One hundred percent. And in fact, Josh Rogin wrote about it in The Washington Post because he was going to drop the story about the bipartisan task force and interviewed Democrats.
Guy Benson: And what was the task? What was the task originally of the task force before the Democrats, you know, pulled out?
Rep. Kinzinger: Yeah, well, the task it's the same now because, you know, it's the same as it was then, which is OK, let's look at all the challenges China presents. And from a legislative perspective, how do we tackle it, whether it's national security, 5G technology, space issues, supply chain vulnerability. This was all before COVID 19, by the way. We had seen this coming. And there was widespread agreement. And then actually when COVID 19, you know, it was an issue. That's when the Democrats pulled out. I don't want to use it as a weapon against them, because I think this is an 80 percent issue that we have to address as a country. But I think this is very clear. Then, you know, who is the best party to deal with the China thing, right?
Guy Benson: Well, that's that's a very strange I'm I was not aware of this until you literally just told me here on the air. Have they offered when you've when you've spoken to your colleagues on the other side, have they offered any explanation for why was it all of them Democrats just up and left us, said we're not participating anymore? Have they had they explained why in a way that would be at least defensible?
Rep. Kinzinger: No, not to me. And every article I've read just simply says they won't respond to comment. You know, especially when it was the guy that was writing the story about it when they pulled out. So I don't know. And, you know, it's it's a question they're going to have to answer. They're going to have to be accountable for November. We will walk on them if they want to come onto the committee. It is open to Democrats, but we're also not going to.
Guy Benson: So it's just so it's just Republicans now. So you're you're basically taking up picking up the ball that has been dropped without the Democrats. It's just gonna be a GOP thing.
Rep. Kinzinger: Yeah, well, it is for now. We're welcoming among them. They're welcome to come in. But right now, we've made the decision that this is so important that we're going to go ahead. We're going to, you know, create a policy position on a number of national security or, you know, trade, et cetera, pillars that can then be put into legislative action. So hopefully they do come around because this is so important. It's not about November. But if they don't, people need to be aware of that, because China is the biggest threat we face right now when it comes to anything foreign.
Guy Benson: So I'm just. I'm trying not to leap to unfair conclusions, but based on the timeline that you described, if they were saying, OK, we agree this is a huge geopolitical threat, an adversary, we've got to get a task force together to really think through these issues, then Corona virus hits, it's coming from China. Trump is starting to correctly blame China. We get the travel restrictions, which the Democrats in some cases condemn. We heard xenophobia from from Joe Biden and. What they just sort of decided that this is become a partisan issue where if Trump was going to accurately blame China for their cover up of coronavirus, they didn't want to be a part of a fact finding mission that could look bad for China because somehow that could make Trump look good. I mean, that we're looking at here.
Rep. Kinzinger: Yeah, that that is my kind of internal belief is that nobody's told me this and they probably never would. But my belief is that if you think about not we're right now, but where we were at the end of February before COVID China said it was racist. You know, the Democrats said it was racist. And then, you know, Nancy Pelosi said, everybody go out to eat in Chinatown. You look at at that point, if they're on the verge of announcing a China task force, I think they made the decision that, you know, this is gonna be bad for President Trump. We're gonna be able to hang this around him. And so we're gonna pull out. Well, the reality is it's looking pretty bad for them. I don't want to to. I want them in this task force. I want to fix the problems. We're going to fix it without them. If we have to.
Guy Benson: Talk about the legislation that you're involved in on this front.
Rep. Kinzinger: Yes. So that's a it's it's two really important bills. So one of is a country of origin labeling on apps. So basically, if an app comes on your phone and it was either owned in part or you know, or in whole. By the Chinese Communist Party or even any non-state actors in China, it has to be clearly labeled and it'll be enforced by the government on that tick tock, for example, like, by the way, this Chinese app up be up when you go on, take the act. You need to see very clearly that it's Chinese app and it's enforceable. If you don't follow it, you'll get fined and the Unfair Trade Practices Act. And then the other big one is if you look at, for instance, Amazon is a great example where you see a lot of at a company in my district that made an auger like a drill. And China has been copying that repeatedly and setting up these fake things that look just like them and selling them and undercutting them. And there is really no way that they can stop that, because every time they have to hire a lawyer, they have to go to Amazon. They have to go through a process. The other side gets time to show how they're not violating these trade practices. And this would clamp down on that. There is a lot of commerce that is being lost to cheap Chinese knockoff. So it's important when you go on something like Amazon or any online retailer to make sure that you're not getting a product, that China stole IP wise and is leaving up there until the law can go through. And. And so this would crackdown on that. This is just the start of where we're going to go. But it is extremely important.
Guy Benson: Congressman, you mentioned the W.H.O. and President Trump sent them a very scathing letter. Frankly, yesterday was very detailed in their actions, vis-a-vis China and covered 19. And I think it's pretty devastating. We've also seen W.H.O. carrying China's water, repeating their talking points, even continuing to exclude Taiwan from participating in these global health forums, even though Taiwan has done a very good job with coronavirus. I think partially because they instinctively don't trust Beijing and communist China. And W.H.O. is repeatedly doing the bidding of the regime in China. And we know that we've paused. U.S. taxpayer dollars flowing to W.H.O. for now. There has been a demand by President Trump for some reforms and changes in the next 30 days. Your reaction to the president's letter and just the broader issue of the W.H.O. and their role in all of this?
Rep. Kinzinger: Yeah, it's absolutely the correct action. And I think the president's done the good thing by pausing the funding. W.H.O. can play an important role, especially when you look at like Ebola and things in other parts of the world that we don't have CDC necessarily, but we have to use our money as leverage. And this is important. You have to drose the head of the W.H.O., who has a very shady past with China before he was the head of the W.H.O. and then he gets there. We know from intelligence reports from Europe that he, in fact, had a conversation with President Xi, who asked him to not declare this a pandemic. We know that two drose was the deciding vote to not declared a pandemic, which kept that from happening for a number of weeks. He called China, you know, extremely transparent. We know the history of China.
Guy Benson: Well, he withheld the human to human transmission piece. We know that, too. Yeah, for a while.
Rep. Kinzinger: Yep, That's right and they've also imprisoned doctors and not allowed them to speak or disappeared doctors. And the W.H.O. has been complicit in this. So if we want to save the W.H.O. as an important position, they absolutely need a new head and the U.S. should withhold funding. Until they do that, we can not have an owned by China W.H.O. when we're paying about five times what the Chinese pay for that organization.
Guy Benson: Congressman Adam Kinzinger, Republican of Illinois, military veteran himself, appreciate your time on this program. Congressman, let's get you back soon. You bet. Anytime, guys. Stepping aside. Coming right back with more of the Guy Benson Show after this.