Utah Senator and constitutional lawyer Mike Lee weighed in on President Trump's controversial move to regulate social media sites. Sen. Lee talking with Fox News Radio's Guy Benson said, "You keep government as far away from it as you possibly can." Adding, "It's just terrible precedent long term. This stuff doesn't belong to the government. It's not the government's tool to play with. We need to keep the two of them separated."
Listen To The Full interview Below:
Guy Benson: Final hour of the Guy Benson show, it's our happy hour here on the program. Thank you for tuning in every day, three to six p.m. Eastern. Many ways to listen, all of which enumerated at Guy Benson show dot com, the podcast also available at Guy Benson Show dot com that is always free. Spotify an option. I tunes an option. And with that said, we are very, very pleased to welcome back to the program. Our friend, U.S. Senator Mike Lee. A Republican of Utah, senator, great to have you here.
Sen. Lee: Thank you, guys. Good to be with you.
Guy Benson: I want to get your response to a number of different controversies and topics. Let's start with a soundbite that aired earlier today on Fox News Channel. Dana Perino sat down with Mark Zuckerberg, virtually the CEO of Facebook, talking about the controversy that's playing out about President Trump, social media censorship, regulation, particularly Visa v Twitter. Here's Dana's question, then the response from the founder and CEO of Facebook. Listen to cut 12th Twitter decided for the first time ever to fact check one of President Trump's tweets. I wondered if you thought that Twitter may have made the wrong decision here.
Audio Clip: We have a different policy, I think, than Twitter on this. You know, I just believe strongly that that Facebook shouldn't be the arbiter of truth, of everything that people say online. I think in general, private companies probably shouldn't be, or especially these platform companies shouldn't be in the position of doing that.
Guy Benson: And then there is a follow up question, Senator, from Dana Perino about Trump's reaction, where he tweeted angrily about this and its censorship, said that they might regulate these big tech companies very strongly or even shut them down. We're now seeing this executive order that he has signed that would strip them of certain immunities, potentially listen to cut 13. This exchange.
Audio Clip: Says that he is thinking about regulations or perhaps shutting down social media sites. What's your reaction to that? Well, I mean, look, I have to understand what they actually would intend to do. But but it but in general, I think a government choosing to just censor a platform because they're worried about censorship doesn't exactly strike me as the B, b, b, right. Reflex there.
Guy Benson: OK. So I actually tend to find myself nodding along with Zuckerberg on both of those points. Senator, from a political perspective and some of the bias that we have seen undoubtedly within the big tech sphere against conservatives, but also from a constitutionalist perspective, you're a constitutional lawyer. How do you muddle through some of these tricky questions?
Sen. Lee: You keep you keep government as far away from it as you possibly can. Look, this may be attractive from a distance to some at any given moment, but it's a very dangerous, slippery slope to start opening the door to having the government regulate these platforms. And I tend to agree with you. I tend to agree with Mark Zuckerberg on both points. Mark Zuckerberg has been a thought leader in this area, and I applaud him on both of the observations that he made, including the fact that Facebook has made a decision, a wise decision and a decision that I think it's going to be good for business and good for public policy at the same time to not try to be the arbiter of every political argument that goes out there. There are certain things that they're not going to allow, things that amount to threats to cause imminent harm to another person. Things like that. They'll take that down. But as far as meddling into the public political arena and deciding who got what argument right, they're going to stay out of that. And I think that's wise policy on their part. And I also think it's wise to keep the government away from it. Governments have force as their only real weapon. You don't want force deciding the art of persuasion or deciding the art of communication with social media.
Guy Benson: Because I also wonder if this is what conservatives try to do to retaliate against something that they don't like. If you empower the government to sort of throw their weight around in this venue, right in this arena, and you give them even more power. When President Trump and the Republican Party or the conservative movement is out of power, I'm not sure that you necessarily want to entrust additional power on content and punishing speech, however you want to broadly define it. If it's let's say, you know, Joe Biden is president, Kamala Harris is as vice president and, you know, God knows who is their attorney general. I think you have to be careful about thinking about. How you would view exactly this type of authority in the hands of people that you disagree with? Right.
Sen. Lee: Yes, yes, that's exactly the point. And that's why I say you don't want to open that door, because even if you would like the policies that the current administration might employ if it started stepping into this arena, that that's good for now. If you agree with it. But it's not good for whether it's a few months or a few years from now, whenever circumstances might change. It's just terrible precedent long term. This stuff doesn't belong to the government. It's not the government's tool to play with. We need to keep the two of them separated.
Guy Benson: I want to ask about another topic. The attorney general, Bill Barr, announcing yet another review of previous DOJ comportment and FBI conduct, this time more broadly, focusing on the Obama administration and officials really across that administration engaged in so-called unmasking and whether this was done improperly. Apparently, unmasking is pretty commonplace and is not necessarily a bad thing, but it can be potentially abused. And there are allegations that that is what happened in the case of Michael Flynn. This is now, I think, the third backward looking review from Attorney General Barr that he has farmed out to someone else. The biggest one being John Durham, whose work we're still waiting to see and hopefully will before the election. What is your reaction? Just taking a step back broadly, Senator, to all the developments that we've seen on this front, the Russia investigation, the FISA abuses in the inspector general, which you and I have talked about, but now the General Flynn updates and now this additional action from Attorney General Barr.
Sen. Lee: I applaud General Borris courageous effort to seek out corruption and to investigate instances of abuse of these vast powers that are enjoyed by government officials, often at the expense of the American people. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act desperately needs reform. And I think I'm confident that the investigations he's conducting are going to lead to even more aggressive reforms. We've got some reforms that are are moving through Congress right now in one form or another. And we've seen just just this week something interesting happened. This is the first time in history, guys, that you've seen a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act reform go down in flames, not because it didn't empower the government enough, but because of a perception that it didn't do enough to restrain government power. This is historic and this is this bodes well to the advocates of reform. But my point is this. The investigations are fantastic. And I applaud Attorney General Barr and those who are working with him on them. They ultimately have to lead somewhere. And I hope and expect that they will lead to aggressive reform of the law. You don't want to put this much power in the hands of government bureaucrats in the first place.
Guy Benson: Turning to the terrible situation in Minneapolis, just as a public official, when you see the video of the killing of that unarmed black man at the hands of a police officer in Minneapolis, and then the subsequent outrage and now, unfortunately, some rioting and other criminal activity. You know, sometimes I was on TV earlier today talking about this on Outnumbered. And sometimes, as you know, a white man, I feel uncomfortable opining on this stuff because I don't fully understand the pain that the black community goes through. I also see buildings on fire and I say, you know, you it doesn't matter how much pain there is. That's not okay as you see these scenes playing out. Well, what's your reaction? And what do you think the appropriate tone is for public officials, whether in Minnesota or elsewhere, when this type of thing, unfortunately, crops up?
Sen. Lee: It's tragic, tragic for all involved and for all the victims involved, and my my heart goes out to them and I want badly for us to figure out a way around this as a country. You are absolutely right that lawlessness is never the proper response to lawlessness, particularly in a country like ours, where notwithstanding the flaws in our system and the flaws of those who administer it, we are, generally speaking and law abiding society. And so it's important for us to reiterate every time something bad happens, let's condemn the bad action and let's figure out a way to make sure that the bad action doesn't happen. But more lawless violence, it's never going to bring about less lawless violence in a system like ours.
Guy Benson: Well said there was a controversy a few days ago that you waded into on Twitter. It was a bit of a spat that you had with one of your colleagues on the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sheldon Whitehouse, Democrat of Rhode Island. I will just briefly editorialize that. I think he was one of the most clownish actors in the whole Kavanaugh debacle. And there was a lot of bad behavior over those weeks. I think he was one of the worst. That's my opinion. But he had a few things to say about a recently confirmed federal judge, not to the Supreme Court, but to a very important circuit court of appeals. Naomi Rao, a Trump appointee, a woman of color. He referred to her White House did to Judge Rao as a, quote, cartoon of a fake judge. You really seem to take exception to that. Take some umbrage over that at your. Your thoughts on what he was saying and why you really spoke up and pushed back.
Sen. Lee: First of all, it begs the question, what is a cartoon of a six judge leads one to wonder, is it a double negative? Was he intending perhaps in a subtle way to pay her a compliment?
Guy Benson: I don't I don't. I don't think so.
Sen. Lee: But but I know Naomi Rule and I have known her for years. Knew her long before she became a federal judge. She is a legal scholar and a jurist of the highest intellectual and moral caliber who are very lucky to have her serving on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. I don't understand why he would want to denigrate her, particularly using language, using words like cartoon and fake. This is the sort of thing that doesn't do any good in our legal system. Now, look, as I pointed out in some of my tweets, I often disagree with decisions that federal courts make, and I don't shy away from expressing that disagreement. I think it is important, however, to focus on the disagreement itself rather than on characterizing the individual jurists at issue as cartoons or as state that just does no one any good. I think it undermines the legitimacy of our system and our federal court system, despite its flaws, is the best of its kind anywhere in the world. And I say that is something of a of a laudner junkie, you who really is interested in this sort of thing. We've got a very good federal judiciary. It does no one any good to use words like that when attacking an individual judge.
Guy Benson: Fully agreed. Last question, Senator Lee, I have to ask you this. Did you, by any chance, have you over the course of this lockdown in the pandemic? A lot of people seem to be watching TV and binge watching stuff. Have you had the opportunity to watch The Last Dance, the documentary about Michael Jordan?
Sen. Lee: No, I have not seen that. I'm guessing you have. And I'm hoping to get your recommendation on whether to watch that.
Guy Benson: Well, it's so it's. I have. Watch it. It is absolutely fantastic. I'm not a huge NBA fan. I was never a Bulls fan. But it's riveting. It's it's extremely well done. I think it's just a. It's a an ode and a testament to dominance and excellence. And it's just done in such a captivating way. The reason I asked you is because I think that while I would recommend this documentary to almost anyone, if you are a dyed in the wool Utah jazz fan, it might be a scarring experience to be revoked. Demise by Michael Jordan all over again, because I had forgotten what a dagger in the heart to Utah fans that Bulls team was repeatedly.
Sen. Lee: Yes, it was a lot of us still experience PTSD from it because, you know, it's just when victory seemed to be at hand. The Chicago Bulls, that number 23, Michael Jordan himself, would come to town and just prove devastating to our aspirations. You know, at the same time, it was such a pleasure to watch him. Such natural talent. Performing is always inspiring.
Guy Benson: Yeah. Greatness is greatness. So I would just say this if you and your wife Sharon have some free time. It's a 10 part series. It will be difficult and perhaps triggering to get through the last few episodes in particular. But I'd love to get your thoughts on it, because I it's probably the best thing I've seen during the Kovik 19 era. So I'll just I'll just leave you with that recommendation.
Sen. Lee: I'm on it. Thanks so much, Guy.
Guy Benson: And by the way, I'm told by Adam that you are awfully close to a birthday, I think, next week. So in advance. Happy birthday from us to you.
Sen. Lee: Thank you very much. I really appreciate that. My thanks to Adam as well.
Guy Benson: Looking forward to seeing you sometime soon when we can all see each other again. In the meantime, thank you, Senator Lee. Mike Lee of Utah, a Republican on the Guy Benson Show. And we'll be right back.