Interviews

Sen. Risch on keeping secrets in Washington: things leak

This is a rush transcript from "Your World," February 14, 2017. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST:  I want to let you know things that are going on right now at the White House.  Linda McMahon has just been sworn in very the vice president as head of the Small Business Administration.  I don't think we have to go through the full thing here.  But it continues now, a speedy now transfer with a lot of these Cabinet appointees and others who had been sort of delayed now finally getting their chance to get sworn in to become their official department run, and away they go.  

All right, meantime, Democrats are out in force on this entire Flynn thing, and I mean out in force.  Take a look.  

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER, D-NEW YORK:  There needs to be an independent and transparent investigation.  

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  We need to know why he lied to the administration and the American people.  

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  A thorough investigation by a nonpartisan commission.  

REP. NANCY PELOSI, D-CALI., HOUSE MINORITY LEADER:  The American people have a right to know the truth.  

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  All of this merits investigation.  

REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS, D-MARYLAND:  What did the president know and when did he know it?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CAVUTO:  Here we go.  

Idaho Republican Senator James Risch, he's a member of the House Intelligence Committee joining us right now -- Senate Intelligence Committee.  

I apologize, Senator.

What do you make of this call and Democrats saying, all right, we have got to start investigating this right now?  

SEN. JAMES RISCH, R-IDAHO:  Well, what you're seeing, Neil, is just the tip of the iceberg.  

There's a real cauldron of hate and anger and frustration on the part of the Democrats who didn't expect to lose the presidency.  And they're struggling with it.  And any time anything comes up, they will make a big deal out of it.  

Don't get me wrong.  What we're dealing with here is a big deal.  On the Intelligence Committee, we have dealt with thousands of issues while I have been on there.  And we will deal with this one.  We -- our job is oversight for intelligence and counterintelligence things that happen.  

And we will exercise our oversight on the committee.  And that is a bipartisan committee, by the way.  

CAVUTO:  All right, but you are concerned about the leaks?  The White House is concerned about the leaks, right?  

RISCH:  Yes.  Yes.  

Neil, and I would respectfully disagree about the amount of leaks.  Leakage has been going on here in Washington, D.C., for a long, long time.  When I first joined the Intelligence Committee years and years ago, I was stunned at the amount of material that came out.  

Now, there's lots and lots that doesn't get out.  Be there shouldn't be anything getting out.

CAVUTO:  But it has increased, right, Senator.  

So, now what is weird is, I know Republicans are upset about these leaks. Didn't seem too, too upset during the campaign that came out about that embarrassed Hillary Clinton.  Now, quite conversely and fairly, Democrats were aghast at the leaks back then.  Now they don't really care.  

So, this all just political nonsense?  

RISCH:  Some is.  

But, again, Neil, I would disagree that the quantity has changed.  It really hasn't.  Again, it's a small amount of information compared to the amount of classified information that is there.  But it can be very important, as we have just seen in this event.

CAVUTO:  But do you think it's unique to the agencies or Cabinet departments involved, Senator, in other words, that this is more than just, let's say, Russians leaking information or trying to get involved in our elections?  This might be very departments turning against the Trump administration and their new political heads.

RISCH:  It's not the first time that we have had the people you talk about, the workers down in the agencies leaking information.  

That has happened before.  It's a despicable thing.  It endangers lives. It endangers security of the United States.

CAVUTO:  But do you think that's what happened here, that it's not the Russians in this case?  Been a lot of people who feared that, that it's actually coming from the agencies themselves?  

RISCH:  Some of it is.  

CAVUTO:  And does that -- how does that differ, then, sir, from what we might have seen under the Obama administration?  

RISCH:  Well, again, those kinds of things happen.  And people leak things for their own reasons.  And everyone is different.  

But, look, leakage around here, there's very few secrets in this town.  

CAVUTO:  Yes.  

RISCH:  But national security secrets are kept closer.  But things leak.  

CAVUTO:  What happens, though?

If things leak -- and, obviously, many in the White House rightly concerned about what else gets out there, from phone conversations to anything.  Is it safe to say now that nothing is safe, in other words, that there's no way to police this because it's out of control and agencies themselves could be turning on themselves?  

RISCH:  Actually, it is policed, and it's policed quite closely, as your -- as was just mentioned on the show.  

The first thing you do is see who has access to that information and try to chase that rabbit down the hole.

CAVUTO:  But, apparently that's -- what I have learned is that is a wider and wider group right now...

RISCH:  It is.

CAVUTO:  ... just to try to finger the people who might be behind it, right?  

RISCH:  It is.

After 9/11, we realized that a lot of the information was stove piped and shouldn't have been.  And so it's more broadly disseminated.  When that happens, obviously, it becomes more dangerous that you do get leaks.  

And it's dangerous.  It's a dangerous situation for America.  

CAVUTO:  Do you think this might serve as a lesson for President Trump, that the trust that he might have placed in Russia, the hope that he might have placed in Russia, the fact that they might have been, you know, trying to leverage this whole drama off of General Flynn is proof and maybe the only proof he needs that, dispense with that notion?  

RISCH:  Yes, I don't know what trust or hope he placed in Russia.  

I would think that virtually everyone connected with the United States is patriot enough to understand that America is America and that we have enemies out there, people who want to do us harm, people who want to overcome us, and those people should not be trusted.  

CAVUTO:  All right, Senator, thank you very, very much.  

RISCH:  Thank you, Neil.  Thanks for having me on.  

CAVUTO:  We do appreciate your taking the time.

END

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