Sen. Rand Paul: Why have we been in Afghanistan 17 years?

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This is a rush transcript from "Your World," June 6, 2018. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: You know, it might not be one and done after all in Singapore, that this so-called one-day meeting might extend, if not right there in Singapore, down the road, and that the talk that they're promising could yield sort of Reykjavik-like Iceland duration with the likes of Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev.

Of course, that one didn't get the desired response until they both left, came back months later to seal a deal. That was then. What is going to happen now?

The read from Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, what he makes of this.

What do you make of the prospect, Senator, that this could be something that gets stretched out a little bit?

SEN. RAND PAUL, R-KENTUCKY: You know, I think -- I'm still very hopeful.

I'm back that -- I'm glad that we're back on again with the Korean summit. And I don't think there's an easy solution to where we go from here, but I think the fact that we're having a discussion and the beginnings of diplomacy is a good thing.

CAVUTO: So, it's trade back and forth, not only the Chinese, but now with a lot of our allies. The Canadians are upset. The French are upset, Germans. Everybody seems unset.

Do you think this is the time to be ruffling their feathers, while we're dealing with something far bigger for the time being?


I think it's a mistake to start using national security waivers to invoke tariffs allies, friends, and even frenemies around the world. Trade is largely beneficial to this country.

And one of the things that people misinterpret is, they talk about this trade deficit, as if it's sort of money we have lost. Everyone has a deficit with people they buy stuff from. So, I have a deficit with my grocery store. Texas may well have a deficit with Oklahoma or vice versa.

But it's an artificial measurement. And it doesn't measure prosperity. You want to know whether your country has more trade or less, and you want to know whether your economy is growing and your wage are growing and more people have jobs. But talking about the trade deficit in isolation is a huge mistake.

CAVUTO: So your colleague Senator Corker is among those -- there are others as well, and maybe you are among them -- who thinks that this should get a Senate yea or nay when we're looking at tariffs, when we're looking at what the president is indicating, tariffs and the like.

PAUL: I'm always a believer in Congress recouping its power, taking its power back.

We have abdicated so much our power. We have given it up to the presidency, whether it's war-making authority, whether it's the health care economy, whether it's regulations in any industry. We have given up too much power to the president. So, I'm always in favor of trying to gain that power back.

CAVUTO: Do you think the president is starting on a bad precedent here, that he has brought to people's attention how the Chinese and indeed many of our friends kind of rig the system to their benefit, but is this the proper response? Or is he going too far? What do you think?

PAUL: I think, when you look at these old trade deals from decades ago, and they have a national security waiver in them, I think they were intended to be, OK, tomorrow, we have declared war, 1942, with -- or '41 -- with Japan. Should we now reassess our trade agreement with Japan?

I think that's what the national security waiver is about. It wasn't about sort of using it as an excuse to put tariffs on anybody. I think it was talking about the threat of war or the actual activities of war, where we might not want to trade with an enemy.

So, no, I think it's a misappropriation and a misuse of language from a long time ago. And I don't think it's helpful. I have farmers in my state. To a person, every farmer is against a trade war. I have automobile industry in my state -- 20,000 people work for Toyota. To a person, against a trade war.

We expert -- export bourbon in our -- our -- in Kentucky as well. To a person, against a trade war. So Kentucky benefits from trade. We don't want to see less trade. We want more trade.

CAVUTO: Ahead of the North Korean meeting, Senator, there's been talk about what we would grant or offer to the North Koreans to get them to denuclearize.

One of the ideas bandied about was addressing the number of troops, I believe in excess of 50,000, that are in South Korea that we have. How would you feel about that? You have been an outspoken opponent of our commitments all around the world. How would you feel if we scaled that force down?

PAUL: About four months ago, I wrote an op-ed with the suggestion, which I think was novel at the time, that perhaps the forces at the DMZ could become more international and actually China could be part of that.

I think there's a distrust on North Koreans' part, after Libya, after the Iran agreement, there's a lot of distrust. But I think if you had an international force there, in exchange, though, for them giving up their nuclear weapons program, it would be worthwhile.

So, yes, I would put that in the mix, but I wouldn't just give it away. I would say, we would be willing to withdraw U.S. troops if there was a denuclearization and an international force that would replace our forces.

CAVUTO: What did you mean as well by talking about unauthorized use of force? Is that force without approval by Congress or just ongoing military actions without any checking?

PAUL: You're talking about hearing today?


PAUL: Yes, we had a hearing today because we have been at war for 17 years in Afghanistan. And while I was in favor of the original authorization for force that Congress gave President Bush, I'm not in favor of an unlimited authorization to be at war forever.

We're now at war against at least eight different group and in 20 different countries. We had soldiers die in Mali the other day. Many people can't find Mali on the map and have no idea why we're at war in Mali.

So, yes, we should be debating. And it's Congress' role. The founding fathers were unanimous that Congress should declare war. The president shouldn't be able to make these decisions unilaterally.

CAVUTO: So what does that mean about our future commitments? If something were to act up all of a sudden and the Syrians use chemical weapons, what would the Senator Rand Paul position be?

PAUL: The War Powers Act and people over time have come to believe -- and I do believe this -- that the president can repel imminent invasion.

So, if there's something where we believe that someone is in the process of launching a weapon against us, yes, the president can act imminently.

But when we were attacked on Pearl Harbor, it took 24 hours, and Congress came back almost unanimously for it. When we were attacked on 9/11, when President Bush came before the Congress, nearly unanimous.

But if you're going to blow up chemical munitions in Syria, you have to ask for Congress. That is an act of war. And he should have come to Congress.

And I think you would find that there would be a debate about it, and we may or may not have decided that that was the best, appropriate action.

CAVUTO: As weighty and as important, substantive as those remarks are and that line of thinking is, I'm sure you're aware that it was your tweet on Bill Clinton and his comments about Monica Lewinsky that got far more play, Senator.

You said that...


PAUL: Go figure.

CAVUTO: It is the way, right?

He "epitomizes the aggressor, not the victim."

You went on to say: "You can't have an appropriate or consensual relationship with an intern."

PAUL: Yes.

CAVUTO: Did you expect it would get as much buzz and play?

PAUL: I think the problem is, is that I don't think he's truly contrite. I think he's still playing the victim. He doesn't understand how anybody would have the audacity to ask him, Bill Clinton, about this.

Well, for two decades, the mainstream media covered up for him. The mainstream media said, oh, it was a consensual affair between adults. Guess what? Talk to modern women. Talk to people about this.

And most women from the MeToo movement will say, you know what, a 20-year- old is not really capable of giving consent in the workplace to have sex under the desk. OK?

And so if he doesn't get that, that wouldn't have been acceptable in 1998 if you were the CEO of any major company. Nobody would thought that was ever acceptable behavior, and he still doesn't get it. He acts as if, oh, I was put upon, and I was in debt before -- before I made my next $100 million, I was actually for a few months in debt, you know?

So, ridiculous.

CAVUTO: Well, no, I was curious because President Clinton had also talked about this notion whether a president can pardon himself. He said no.

Do you think that this president, talking about that very subject, can? He thinks he can.

PAUL: The Constitution seems to put no limits on the president.

There are some principles of law where people would say that it defies sort of the ideas of justice for someone to be able to pardon themselves. But the Constitution isn't explicit in prohibiting this.

And so, yes, it can probably do it. But you noticed even the president said this, the president says he's guilty of nothing and that he's not going to do that. But I think that...


CAVUTO: So, why mention it, Senator?

PAUL: I think because what has happened is, this whole investigation into Russia has become so politicized. You wonder, so they have informants in President Trump's campaign.

Did they put informants in President Clinton's campaign? She was talking to a British spy. And that British spy was paying Russians for information to try to dig up stuff, true or untrue, on President Trump.

So it sounds like, you know, do we really want the FBI and the CIA, do we want them involved in presidential campaigns? Or really should there be sort of a hands-off on this? I think it's unseemly that the FBI was putting informants in there, trying to extract and entrap members of the Trump campaign.

I think it's incredibly inappropriate and an abuse of power.

CAVUTO: All right, the president called it spy gate, that that person who was an informant was a spy.

Do you?

PAUL: Well, he worked for the FBI for several decades. He's going and asking leading questions to people. He's paying people money to get them to London.

There's even some who say that the whole running into the Australian ambassador or deputy ambassador over drinks with one of the Trump officials wasn't sort of a random event, that maybe even that had been planned.

So, yes, that's entrapment, and that's something that we're not supposed to be involved with. There's still evidence -- and Judge Napolitano has talked about this -- that the British were giving information directly to John Brennan.

Now, I asked Gina Haspel about this. And she says that she categorically denies that she knows anything about the British giving information to John Brennan. The next should be to John Brennan, were you getting information from the British about the Trump campaign? Because that's illegal. And John Brennan could go to jail.

Now he's this big talking head spewing hatred for President Trump. It sounds like maybe he's come out of the closet as a partisan. And so if he wants to be a partisan all over the news condemning the president, maybe he needs to be asked under oath, did you receive information, secret information, illegally gotten by the British government? Did you receive this information on President Trump or his campaign?

Why don't we ask Brennan that under oath and see what he says?

CAVUTO: Finally, back to Bill Clinton, if you don't mind, Senator.

He had said, if this were a Democrat, the impeachments would already be starting. What do you think of that?

PAUL: I think we go too crazy on both sides.

And I'm a big believer that the special prosecutors have way too much power, and that can you imagine the entire force of a team of 20 or 30 lawyers that can investigate your entire life for the last 20 or 30 years, bring you in to ask you questions, and if they can get you to make a misstatement based on historical fact of something you don't remember correctly, that you can go to jail for that?

It's a crazy situation. We should never have these special prosecutors. We have got to get the criminal aspect out of our campaigns and let the voters decide.

CAVUTO: All right.

Senator Rand Paul, thank you very much. Covered a lot of ground there.

PAUL: Thanks, Neil.

CAVUTO: Senator Rand Paul of the state of Kentucky.


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