This is a rush transcript from "Sunday Morning Futures," June 21, 2020. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
MARIA BARTIROMO, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Good Sunday morning, everyone. Welcome. Thank you so much for joining us.
Happy Father's Day to all of the wonderful dads out there. I'm Maria Bartiromo.
Straight ahead right here on "Sunday Morning Futures": my exclusive interview with U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr, as President Trump returns to the campaign trail last night, sharing a message of unity and resilience in Tulsa, Oklahoma, telling supporters -- quote -- "The silent majority is stronger than ever."
The attorney general sharing his concerns over censorship and mail-in ballots ahead of the 2020 election, sitting down with me on Friday, just hours before his controversial announcement that the federal prosecutor for the Southern District of New York, Geoffrey Berman, would resign from his post. President Trump ultimately firing the Manhattan prosecutor yesterday, after he refused to voluntarily step down.
A.G. Barr and his relationship with the president and more, as we look ahead on "Sunday Morning Futures."
And fallout today after violence erupted in the Seattle protest zone, largely abandoned by police, where one person was shot and killed on Saturday, another critically injured.
We begin my exclusive interview this morning with Attorney General William Barr with this and the challenges that now face police across America.
BARTIROMO: What a moment we're living in right now.
We have got a once vibrant town in Seattle, a residential and business town, being taken over, now called the Capitol Hill Organized Protest, or CHOP, or CHAZ, Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone.
In Minneapolis, demonstrators hurling bricks at cops, setting buildings on fire, and then, of course, peaceful protests and not-so-peaceful protests as a result of the death of George Floyd.
As the number one law enforcement individual in the country, what are you going to do to bring law and order back?
WILLIAM BARR, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: Well, all these situations really involve two dimensions of the rule of law.
One is the individual case that's precipitated the demonstrations and so forth. It's the job of the Department of Justice to mete out justice fairly and even-handedly in that particular case, and not be influenced by the mob.
The second aspect is these demonstrations, which are fine. Protests and demonstrations are fine. But when they become mob violence, we need to restore public order. We can't be ruled by mobs. We have to be ruled by the legal process.
Now, in this particular situation, there's obviously legitimate demonstrators out there raising concerns about police abuse. But a lot of these demonstrations have been hijacked by essentially anarchistic groups and professional agitators, who are really in it just for the violence and the confrontation.
And so I do make a distinction between legitimate, peaceful demonstrators and these violent agitators who are involved throughout the country.
BARTIROMO: Well, they took over an area in Seattle. And they're guarding it with guns. They tried to do it in Portland as well.
Does the federal government have a responsibility to protect citizens of our country if the cities and states won't do it? Because people's property have been damaged. There are people who don't want this autonomous area in Seattle around their homes.
Well, in the first instance, it's the responsibility, obviously, of the local officials and then the state officials to protect the rights of their citizens. At the end of the day, the federal government does have a responsibility to make sure that citizens are not deprived of their federal rates.
BARTIROMO: So, will you challenge that autonomous city? Will you sue the mayor? What can you do?
BARR: Well, I don't want to get into specifics, but we're obviously keeping an eye on it.
And, as the president said, in due course, we may have to do something about it. But we can't let it go on indefinitely.
BARTIROMO: It's also sparked calls to defund the police.
Ilhan Omar said that the Minneapolis Police Department is -- quote -- "rotten to the root."
What is the impact of this pushback on law enforcement? Are you worried about resignations, the cops walking off the job?
I mean, even before this happened, I was speaking out about how the job of being a policeman in the United States these days is the toughest job in the United States. They're under a lot of pressure. And I was concerned even before these pressures that we were having difficulty maintain the levels of police we need in our cities, retaining them.
And, obviously, this environment, where they're demonized, will deter a lot of people from continuing to serve as police. And, also, I'm concerned of the effect, that they may pull back some of their enforcement activities and not take those risks.
So, I think it could lead, as it's led in other situations, to an actual increase in violent crime and more deaths.
The -- you know, I understand an event like Minneapolis and why it struck such a chord in the African-American community. There has been longstanding distrust of law enforcement. And that partly comes out of the fact that, for much of our history, our laws were explicitly discriminatory.
And for the past few decades, we have been reforming our institutions to make sure they reflect our values. And the police have been engaged in that. And we shouldn't let this incident and the actions of a bad few obscure the fact that the police have made a lot of progress.
Instances of the shooting of black unarmed males has been dropping. It was 38 five years ago. Last year, it was 10, 10 in the nation. And six of those were involved in attacking the police officers at the time they were shot.
So, while any death is too many, the fact is that, in proportion, it's relatively small. I mean, there are 8,000, roughly 8,000 homicides of African-Americans in our country every year, 8,000. Ten last year were due to force by shooting an unarmed black male.
So, we have to keep that in perspective. And we also have to keep in perspective that the police forces are much more diverse. The leadership of the police is much more diverse. They are committed to reform. Community policing has been taking hold around the country.
And that reform has to continue. And what we have to do is bring out of these episodes, Minneapolis, something that's good, and that is, it will galvanize the public will to continue that process of reform. But it has to be fair reform to the police.
BARTIROMO: Should the police have qualified immunity?
BARR: Yes, I think, generally, in our history, immunity used to be absolute. And then they dropped it down to qualified to permit some lawsuits in egregious cases.
But, without qualified immunity, I think most people would not take the job as a police officer. So, we would essentially be doing away from our police departments.
BARTIROMO: What are the implications of collective bargaining?
There was an op-ed ed in The Journal talking about the police unions and how it's getting in the way of actual reform.
BARR: I think it largely depends on the unions. And it's hard to generalize.
But I do think that police unions have an important role to play. And I do think that police management has to be able to get rid of bad apples. But, by the same token, I think there has to be due process.
One of the things that's always bothered -- a Democratic senator once used the expression -- I thought it was actually a good one -- that being the attorney general is like being the sheriff in one of these old Western movies. When the mob shows up at the jailhouse door, you're standing up in front of the jail.
And, sometimes, that mob wants to hang the person, and, sometimes, they want to spring the person. And it's the job of the attorney general not to be influenced by the mob, but try to do justice in that particular case.
And I think police are at risk, sometimes, when some event like this happens of -- or we have to make special effort to make sure that they get due process. And the unions do play a role in that.
BARTIROMO: Coming up, more of my exclusive interview with Attorney General William Barr, whether he thinks racism is systemic in America, and his reaction to the latest claims of anti-conservative bias among technology companies.
The DOJ's proposal on social media -- coming up next.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BARTIROMO: Welcome back.
The police officer who shot Rayshard Brooks in Atlanta is charged with felony murder, along with 10 other crimes. While many protesters cheered the decision by the DA, others say the prosecutor moved too fast.
I asked the attorney general what he thinks about that case and also about anti-conservative bias among our top social media companies.
BARTIROMO: There is a lot of activity in Atlanta right now because of the charges against the officer who killed Rayshard Brooks.
We saw the video of Brooks grabbing the officer's Taser, using the Taser against him. The officer's being charged with felony murder. He could face execution.
Did that case merit murder charges, or is that officer being lumped in with the upset over George Floyd?
BARR: Well, because I might be called upon as attorney general to pass judgment on that case under civil rights laws, I don't want to get into the specifics of it.
But I certainly would have liked to have seen the Georgia Bureau of Investigations complete their investigation before charges were brought, and also the use of a grand jury. The grand jury process provides some protection, to have the citizens in a group decide that there's been a crime committed.
And there was no grand jury used in this case. So, I think it's important to go through the right processes before charging someone.
I also think there was a fundamental difference, obviously, between what happened in Atlanta and what happened in Minneapolis, of essentially kneeling on someone's neck for almost nine minutes who was already incapacitated.
BARTIROMO: Very upsetting stories.
Do you think that there is systemic racism in this country?
BARR: No, I don't think there's systemic -- well, I do think there's racism in the country.
Now, systemic, in terms of the law enforcement and the police agencies, I don't think there is systemic law enforcement in those agencies. I think there may be individuals, and there are individuals, who may have bias. And, sometimes, that may emerge and be manifested in some act. But I don't think it's systemic.
BARTIROMO: I ask, because there's something -- there are bad cops, and there's just a system that maybe has things that are built into it that should be looked at.
For example, if a white kid gets caught underage drinking, the parents are going to do anything they can to avoid that conviction on the kid's record that will follow him and he will carry the rest of his life. So, they will do diversion program, diversion program.
Are we offering the same diversion programs to blacks and whites?
BARR: In some jurisdictions, yes, in some, probably not as much as we should.
As I said, this is a process of reforming our institutions, looking for inequities, and making sure that we address them.
BARTIROMO: Let me move on to freedom of speech and what just took place, the DOJ planning to roll back the legal protections, the monopoly legal protections, that technology companies enjoy.
What prompted this?
So, the basic idea is that, if you're acting as essentially a bulletin board, and you're open to all comers, and third parties can post their content on your Web site, and you're not being selective about it, it's open to all comers, then you shouldn't be deemed a publisher, because we want to encourage that kind of forum for third-party views.
That ran into problems, and -- because we wanted to encourage -- during the early days of the Internet, we wanted to encourage platforms to take off obscene material or harassing material or other kinds of offensive material like that.
And so what we said was, in the law, Section 230, if you take that down, that doesn't make you a publisher, if you take down objectionable material like that. Unfortunately, they started taking down viewpoints and started really being selective and, based on whether they agreed with a viewpoint or not, taking it down.
And that should make them a publisher. But they said, under Section 230, they weren't. That was one of the problems that was arising under Section 230.
So, we have proposed a change to address that. What we have said is, you can take down stuff that is unlawful, and you can take down stuff that's not -- does not accord with your terms of service. But you have to make your terms of service clear. You have to have a reasonably based reason for taking down the particular content and show that it violated your terms of service.
And you need to give someone notice and a process whereby they can dispute that.
BARTIROMO: Google did select Federalist, Zero Hedge, and tried to cut off their advertising revenue.
Senator Tom Cotton also told me that he got a call from someone at Twitter who said, take down your tweet immediately about the police needing the military to back them up. Otherwise, we're deleting your account entirely.
There's something very disturbing about what's going on. To some extent, there was a bait and switch over the past couple of decades. These companies held themselves out as open to all comers. That's how they built up all their membership and their networks, saying, you know, we have a wide variety of views. People can come in and post their views and their positions and their statements.
And that's what led to people to join it and then get the strong market position they have. Then they have switched. Now they're being more selective, and they're starting to censor different viewpoints.
But you have this concentration of these very large companies that had that kind of influence on the sharing of information and viewpoints in our society. And that is a fundamental problem, because our republic was founded on the idea, and the whole rationale was that there would be a lot of diversity of voices, and it would be hard for someone to be able to galvanize a big faction in the United States that could dominate politically and oppress a minority.
And yet now we have, with the Internet and with these big concentrations of power, the ability to do just that, to quickly galvanize people's views, because they're only presenting one viewpoint, and they can push the public in a particular direction very quickly.
And our whole Constitution and system was based on not having that, and having a wide diversity of voices.
So, one way that this can be addressed is through the antitrust laws and challenging companies that engage in monopolistic practices.
BARTIROMO: Coming up: election 2020, the issues that concern A.G. Bill Barr the most. He will fill us in when my exclusive interview continues.
Stay with us.
BARTIROMO: Welcome back.
As the president returns to campaigning last night, we are now learning that the Republicans have raised over $816 million so far for the 2020 election. May was a big month.
The attorney general spoke with me about the November election, including his concerns about voter fraud.
BARTIROMO: Devin Nunes said: "There is not a more important issue than this issue. The American people are being censored. Conservatives are being censored. The information flowing to the American people is being censored."
Are you worried about this going into the election?
BARR: Yes, I am worried about censorship.
I'm worried about a number of things going into the election, one, the censorship of robust debate. I'm also worried about undermining the public confidence in the integrity of the elections.
The thing we have going for us, especially when there's intense division in the country, is that we have peaceful transfers of power. And our way of resolving it is to have an election.
But when government, state governments start adopting these practices like mail-in ballots that open the floodgates of potential fraud, then people's confidence in the outcome of the election is going to be undermined. And that could take the country to a very dark place, if we lose confidence in the outcomes of our elections.
So, that, the censorship -- the censorship has a number of effects. It also -- free speech, being able to get your viewpoint out, is a release. It takes some of the pressure out.
If people are prevented from expressing their views, that's where you start getting extremism. And so the more ventilating of viewpoints we have, the healthier it is for our country.
BARTIROMO: Well, there's a big discussion right now about mail-in voting.
BARTIROMO: Hillary Clinton said, it's fine, it's fair.
BARR: Well, it absolutely opens the floodgates to fraud. Those things are delivered into mailboxes. They can be taken out.
There's questions about whether or not it even denies a secret ballot, because a lot of the states have you signing the outside of the envelope. So, the person who opens -- person who opens the envelope will know how people voted.
There's no -- right now, a foreign country could print up tens of thousands of counterfeit ballots, and be very hard for us to detect which was the right and which was the wrong ballot.
So, I think it can -- it can upset and undercut the confidence in the integrity of our elections. If anything, we should tighten them up right now.
BARTIROMO: Senator Hawley has a bill to give Americans the right to sue technology companies like Facebook, Google, Twitter if they enforce terms unfairly.
Should people be having the right to sue these companies?
BARR: Yes, I think there should be more control on how they use data, how they use personal data, and give consumers the right to sue the companies if it's used improperly, and not according to the terms of service or they don't fully disclose, they're not transparent about it.
BARTIROMO: I know that you did not pursue this position. And, in your confirmation hearing in January of '19, you said that you ultimately came back to restore confidence in the system.
So, I want to ask you how we do that, because we are deeply divided in this country. We know that. And it does look like there are two standards of justice. You go back to 2016, and there were two investigations going on, one into Hillary Clinton's e-mail use and one into Donald Trump and collusion with Russia. We know, officially, there was no collusion.
With the Hillary Clinton investigation, Jim Comey was told by your predecessor, Loretta Lynch, to call it a matter, not an investigation. Bill Clinton met Loretta Lynch on a tarmac three days before Hillary was to talk to the FBI.
How do you explain that to someone who wants to believe that there's fairness in this country?
BARR: Well, I do believe there were two standards of justice during a period of time toward the end of the Obama administration.
And all I can do about it is apply one standard of justice, the right standard of justice, and make sure we apply it to everybody equally. And that's what I'm trying to do.
BARTIROMO: Are you looking again, then, at what took place with the Hillary Clinton investigation?
BARR: I don't want to get into any particular investigation right now.
BARTIROMO: Why did the DOJ charge General Michael Flynn with false statements, yet did not charge Jim Comey and Andrew McCabe with the same charge?
BARR: Well, again, all I can say -- again, I don't want to discuss the details of any particular case, but -- criminal case -- but all I can say is that we are trying to apply the same standard to everybody.
BARR: And, as you know, we have sought to dismiss the charges against General Flynn.
BARTIROMO: What do you make of what Judge Sullivan is doing? He's pushing back on that, obviously.
BARR: Well, as I have said, you know, we disagree with what he's doing. We think the law is clear that it is the -- within the discretion of the executive.
It's the executive branch's function and the attorney general's function to make charging decisions and determine whether to continue on a case. And the judge is supposed to be a neutral judge on the case, not the prosecutor -- not exercise the prosecutor's function.
So, we're hopeful that the case will be dismissed. We think that's what the law requires.
BARTIROMO: Much more with Attorney General Bill Barr coming up, including the very latest update on U.S. attorney John Durham's investigation into the Russia probe, how the pandemic may have slowed Durham's progress as he looks into the origins of the Russia probe.
He will give us details on when we could expect some developments next.
Stay with us.
BARTIROMO: Welcome back.
U.S. attorney John Durham's investigation into the origins of the Russia probe continues, as we learn new information about efforts to unmask individuals during the final weeks of the Obama administration.
I asked Attorney General William Barr about the status of the investigation, whether there is criminal misconduct.
BARTIROMO: We're waiting on John Durham's investigation, a criminal investigation.
What bearing does the election have on that? I haven't heard any Democrats raise any upset over the fact that wiretapping of an American citizen was illegal, an FBI agent changed evidence, changed a document, a whole host of issues.
So, am I to believe that, if we don't get the results of the John Durham investigation before the election, and Donald Trump loses, we won't hear another word about this?
BARR: Well, first, I agree with you that it's been stunning that all we have gotten from the mainstream media is sort of bovine silence in the face of the complete collapse of the so-called Russiagate scandal, which they did all they could to sensationalize and drive.
And it's, like, not even a whoops. They're just onto the next false scandal. So, that has been surprising to me that people aren't concerned about civil liberties and the integrity of our governmental process.
In terms of the future of Durham's investigation, he's pressing ahead as hard as he can. And I expect that we will have some developments, hopefully before the end of the summer. But, as I have said, his investigation will continue. It's not going to stop because of the election.
What happens after the election may depend on who wins the election.
BARTIROMO: Has he been delayed because of the COVID-19 pandemic?
BARR: There has been delay because of the pandemic. Yes, there has.
BARTIROMO: An inability to interview people?
BARR: Yes, not an inability, but a distinct slowing down of that process.
BARTIROMO: Because you can't gather a grand jury?
BARR: Well, I don't want to suggest there has been or is a grand jury.
But it is a fact that there have not been grand juries in virtually all districts for a long period of time. And, also, people have been reluctant to travel for interviews and things like that. So, it has slowed things down.
But there's -- he's been working where he can on other matters that aren't affected by the pandemic. But there has been an effect.
BARTIROMO: A source said to me a couple of years ago, speaking of the Russia collusion story, that this was the closest the United States ever game to a coup to take down a president since the assassination of Lincoln.
Is that an appropriate statement?
BARR: In this sense. I think it is the closest we have come to an organized effort to push a president out of office.
BARTIROMO: And it continues.
BARR: But what -- you know, I'm not reaching a judgment as to what the motivations there were.
BARTIROMO: Can you tell us anything about how this all started?
This is not just an American citizen. This was a man running for president, and this was a person who got elected to become the president. And the FBI thought it was a good idea to launch an investigation into Donald Trump and potential collusion. Why?
BARR: You know, I guess I don't want to talk about that.
Some of it may become evident as the -- as more facts are disclosed. But I think there were probably a range of motives for different people.
BARTIROMO: But is there any evidence that, in fact, it was appropriate to launch an investigation, other than a conversation in a bar?
I know that George Papadopoulos had a conversation in a bar.
BARR: That is the official version of what happened, that that comment in a London wine bar was what the basis really was for going forward.
And I have said that I thought that that was a very slender reed to get law enforcement intelligence agencies involved in investigating the campaign of one's political opponent.
BARTIROMO: Lindsey Graham told us that four FBI case agents talked to the Russian subsource, in other words, the person who compiled some of the information in the dossier, and that subsource told those agents that it was just bar talk, that it wasn't true, that we didn't really buy it anyway.
Did those case agents tell their superiors that?
BARR: Again, I don't want to get into the details, because those are the kinds of things we're looking at.
But that whole vignette is laid out to some extent in the I.G.'s report, that, in January 2017 and in March 2017, they talked to the primary subsource, who was the sole conduit for this information that made up the dossier.
And, as I have said, the dossier pretty much collapsed at that point. And yet they continued to use it as a basis for pursuing this counterintelligence investigation.
BARTIROMO: So, does it sound like Jim Comey and Andrew McCabe knew that the dossier had collapsed in January of 2017?
BARR: I don't want to discuss that aspect of it.
What about the leaks? Senator Ron Johnson is investigating the transition from the Obama administration to the Trump administration. And he told us that, in the first 126 days, there were 125 leaks.
And compare that to Obama's 126 days. There were eight leaks. Bush, there were nine leaks.
What's the situation with the leak investigation? Do you expect that we will see indictments for those who leaked classified information? Is that a felony?
BARR: Leaking national defense information, in an unauthorized disclosure of that information, is a felony.
I have tried to strengthen our efforts to investigate leaks. They're very difficult to investigate, especially where a lot of people had access to the information and because, at the end of the day, you have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that there was a particular person who did it, and also because the news organizations don't cooperate in those investigations, obviously.
But we are pursuing leak -- leaks aggressively where we think there's a realistic possibility that we could find out who it is. So, we have a lot of leak investigations under way. And if we get the evidence that's necessary, we will prosecute them.
BARTIROMO: So, I know that the FBI said that they started a counterintelligence investigation into the Trump campaign in July of 2016.
But there's a lot of activity before that. And in April of 2016, people arranged for George Papadopoulos to meet with Joseph Mifsud. Has Joseph Mifsud worked with Western intelligence before?
BARR: You know, I can't get into that.
BARTIROMO: I mean, I ask because we talked about that bar conversation between Papadopoulos and someone else.
And you have to wonder, was that conversation organic, or was that conversation and the content of what Papadopoulos said planted on him?
BARR: Yes, I understand why people -- why it is important to try to determine whether there was any activity before July, before the Papadopoulos wine bar conversation. I understand that.
And, so, people are looking at that. It's significant also that the dossier was initiated before July.
BARTIROMO: Ric Grenell calls the transition period key.
What can you tell us about the transition period that we need to understand better?
BARR: Well, it depends on what the motivations were and why they were looking at it.
But it is -- I would say it's unusual for an outgoing administration, high- level officials, to be unmasking very much in the days they're preparing to leave office. It makes you wonder what they were doing.
BARTIROMO: How do these Senate testimonies help the DOJ?
BARR: Well, they're not -- the DOJ and Congress have separate roles to play.
DOJ, we are looking at whether or not there's been any criminal activity and investigating. And I think Congress is interested in sort of finding out what happened and disclosing it to the public. So, there are different functions that are being performed.
I don't think that those are conducted to help the DOJ. We do our own investigations.
BARTIROMO: Coming up, A.G. Barr reacts to John Bolton, the national -- the former national security adviser, and the release of his memoir.
That's coming up next from A.G. Barr.
Stay with us.
BARTIROMO: Welcome back.
A federal judge ruling yesterday that John Bolton's memoir about his experience in the Trump White House can be released on schedule, after the DOJ sued to block its publication.
I spoke with A.G. Barr before that decision came out. Here's what he said about Bolton's book:
BARTIROMO: What about John Bolton, the DOJ's breach-of-contract suit against the former national security adviser?
Is it too late now to push back?
BARR: I don't think it's too late, because what we're asking is for him to complete the process before the book is published, complete the process of taking out classified material.
And, in our view, there remains -- there remains very highly classified material in the book still. And we would like him to address that. And so, under the law, we are bringing a civil action to enforce his agreement that he would do that before publishing.
The remedy, if he doesn't complete it, is that he forfeits any money from that book to the government.
BARTIROMO: How did you get involved? Did the president ask you to get involved in this?
BARR: No, actually, he didn't. I mean, this would have been in the normal course.
The process is run through the National Security Council, called pre- publication review, for any book. And as that wasn't completed, the National Security Council contacted us. So, that's initially how the DOJ got involved.
BARTIROMO: How often do you speak to the president?
BARR: I would say very regularly.
BARTIROMO: Are you doing his bidding?
BARR: I'm enforcing the law.
And as I said when I was confirmed, any -- anything within the four walls of the Department of Justice, any matter is going to be handled strictly on the laws, the law and the facts. It's going to be reflecting our independent judgment of what the law requires.
BARTIROMO: Let me move on to China.
This is a subject that our audience cares about very much. And the DOJ has been efforting to crack down on Chinese espionage. Can you tell me a bit about what the CCP is doing? I know there's been a real rethinking of the relationship between the United States and China.
BARR: The way I look at is, this is fundamental challenge to the United States.
Since the late 19th century, our opportunity and our growth, our prosperity as a country has come from our technological leadership. We have been the technological leader of the world.
In the last decade or so, China has been putting on a great push to supplant us, explicitly. They want to be the leader in all the future technologies that are going to dominate the economy. And so what's at stake is the economic opportunity of our children and our grandchildren, whether we can continue to be the technological leader of the world.
The Chinese have embarked on a very aggressive program during this time of stealing and cheating in order to overtake us. They have stolen our intellectual property. When they steal our secrets about future technology, they're stealing the future of the American people.
If they start leading in some of these fundamental foundational technologies like 5G, which will be the platform of much of our future manufacturing in the United States, they will have tremendous leverage over the United States.
If all our industrial practices and our manufacturing practices are built on a platform that they dominate, they will have ultimate leverage over the West.
So, I think this is a competition for the future. They haven't been competing fairly. And the president has confronted this, when no one else has. And the American business community has been a big part of the problem, because they're willing, ultimately, many of them, to sacrifice the long-term viability of their companies for short-term profit, so they can get their stock options and move into the Gulf resort.
That's what's driving some of this. They're not taking the long-term view and the national view of the American -- of maintaining the American strength.
BARTIROMO: Well, I was talking with one money manager the other day.
And he said: Look, Maria, I'm not going to call good guys and bad guys. It's not my role to call out good guys and bad guys. So, yes, the growth is in China, and that's where I want to invest.
BARR: Well, you know what? ?DNM?e're not speaking German today because the American business in the past didn't think that way. They stood with the United States.
And all the privileges and the benefits and the stability and the rule of law and the ability to profit as they do, both as companies and individuals, comes from the strength of this country.
BARTIROMO: So, should it be a law that, if you are working under a grant, a United States grant, at a university, you're not allowed to take money from the Chinese Communist Party?
BARR: We are clearly cracking down on researchers and others that are sent over here to get involved in our key technological programs.
And, by the way, this is not just weapons systems. This is agriculture. This is medicine. This is robotics. This is artificial intelligence and so forth. It's the whole gamut of important technologies going forward.
BARTIROMO: So, are they seeking out people like the chairman of the chemistry department at Harvard to try to get those people to work with them? Are they seeking people out?
BARR: The Chinese efforts run the gamut from more traditional espionage of recruiting people to work for them, explicitly, to cultivating relationships that they are then able to use.
And the people frequently are not completely attuned to the fact that they are being used as essentially stooges for the Chinese. So, it runs the gamut of things. And, sometimes, some of these programs, high-sounding programs, are used to the advantage of the Chinese.
So, the American business community, we need their understanding of the nature of the problem right now.
BARTIROMO: Coming up, we have breaking news about Huawei, Attorney General Bill Barr, as China seeks to expand its influence on the global economy -- how Congress could get involved to ramp up pressure on Huawei and the Communist Party.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BARTIROMO: Breaking news.
I have learned that the Senate is considering a proposal for the U.S. government to acquire a minority stake in telecom companies Nokia and Ericsson.
In a Senate briefing this past week, a proposal was made for a $10 billion acquisition of Ericsson and Nokia, with the U.S. representing $2 billion to $3 billion.
I asked the A.G. about that.
BARTIROMO: So, what about the Huawei threat? We know that there are backdoors in some cases where data in the Huawei infrastructure goes back to the Chinese Communist Party. We have talked about that a lot.
Is that true?
BARTIROMO: Would the U.S. consider acquiring...
BARR: I would say -- I would say, there is certainly the capacity to do that, and a very high risk of that.
BARTIROMO: Would the U.S. consider acquiring Ericsson and Nokia to send a message to the world that, if you use Ericsson and Nokia, you have got the backing of the United States government, as an alternative to Huawei?
BARR: So, I mean, I gave a speech a while back saying that it was -- that the two companies best positioned to compete with Huawei are Ericsson and Nokia.
But unlike Huawei -- Huawei has the backing of the Chinese government and all the Chinese government money. So, just to give you an example, for 5G network facilities, the total global addressable market is probably around $90 billion, and the Chinese government has set up a fund of 100 -- over $100 billion to subsidize it.
So, they can go to countries and say, hey, we will put this in cash-free, very cheap money. So, that's what we're competing against with Huawei.
And companies like Ericsson and Nokia are the strongest Western competitors in this sector. And I gave a speech saying that, ultimately, the West has to rally around these companies, whether that means private ownership or state involvement.
BARTIROMO: So, you would be OK taking a stake, even if it's a minority stake, in these companies to offset the threat of Huawei, then?
BARR: That's not a decision for the Justice Department. I do think that the West has to pick a horse or horses.
BARTIROMO: Is China using this COVID-19 pandemic to gain leverage and gain territory? We know that the CCP is overreaching in Hong Kong and militarizing the South China Sea.
BARR: I'm concerned that they might think that we are sufficiently distracted by COVID that we won't be able to respond.
And I am concerned that they may think the current environment is one in which they can push the envelope somewhat and take advantage of it.
BARTIROMO: What's most important in terms of protecting U.S. national security?
BARR: First, I think protecting American technological leadership, as I have discussed, and I would also say thwarting their espionage and influence activities are the most important things we can do, and also, through international partners, press the Chinese to play by the rules, play by the rules of the road, which they haven't done.
You know, it's too bad that one of the great tragedies, I think, has -- the Chinese people are a great people, with a great history, very industrious and able. And the hope was that, by bringing them into the world system and economic system, there would be a liberalization of their government.
But I think the Communist Party still has an iron grip on that country. And I think that's unfortunate.
BARTIROMO: Thank you.
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