CNN Lou Dobbs Tonight - Transcript
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DOBBS: One of the most powerful Republicans in Congress is House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Pete King, tonight demanding a serious and thorough review the Dubai ports deal. Congressman King says Congress must be ready to take action if the Committee on Foreign Investments fails to adequately address national security concerns.
Congressman King joins me now.
Mr. Chairman, you've introduced a bill that calls for a thorough investigation. Are you satisfied that that investigation, if it is thorough and leads to a conclusion that this is not an appropriate deal in terms of the national interests, can be rolled back?
REP. PETER KING (R), HOMELAND SECURITY COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: I am pretty certain, but I'm not absolutely certain. Because we have never gone through this before, we had a 30-day review end and then have a 45-day investigation start afterwards. I mean, I would push it as hard as we have to in court if it comes to that, and I think it would certainly be a total breach of good faith if, for instance, the president decided not to go ahead with the contract and Dubai ports claim that it's still valid.
But I think we should take one thing at a time. I'm monitoring it as carefully as I can. I've been somewhat reassured in the last several days that the administration is serious about the investigation, because I was really a little skeptical over the weekend when they said they looked upon this 45 days as an opportunity to educate the Congress when the fact is, almost nobody in the administration itself knew what was going on with this deal, and we're trying to really come up with facts after the fact to justify it.
But I'm going to be monitoring it, certainly. It is a bipartisan issue. And if we have to move on the legislation before the 45 days is over, we'll do it.
DOBBS: Of all of the Republicans in Congress to have coming out as strongly as both you and your counterpart in the Senate have, Senator Susan Collins, we have the -- the chairman of those two very important committees saying wait a minute. What has been the White House reaction to you and the position that you've taken?
KING: I have had virtually no contact with the White House. The first contact I had was yesterday, when three members of the legislative liaison staff spoke with me. But that's only contact I have had in the last two weeks.
DOBBS: Did they have a reaction to the fact that you said that the investigation at best was nonexistent that had been conducted by CFIUS?
KING: Yes, basically in fairness, they want to know what they had to do to basically get people on board, and I said you have to -- for starters, have to demonstrate to both sides of the aisle that this is going to be a serious, intensive, inside/out, every which way investigation and not be used to educate us, quote/unquote, but to really do a thorough investigation.
Because I said, I think -- I still think some people think this is just politics and we're just trying to demagogue it. I've never been as serious about any issue in my life as I am about this. And what I pick up from people and from other members of Congress, by the way, is absolute concern and in many cases fear among people as to where this could lead.
DOBBS: Congressman, I had to laugh. But I just had this picture of someone from this administration, the White House, coming to you to ask, what should they do? That would be a ray of hope, I think, for most Americans that they would actually ask the question. Have you sensed any change in demeanor, attitude from -- I think you would characterize it in our discussions over the last couple of weeks -- as patronizing, condescending?
KING: Yes, I think they've definitely got the message that this is for real, that it's a very serious issue, that it's not just a partisan issue brought by some Democrats. That there are as many Republicans as Democrats concerned about it. That -- and also that the grassroots -- I've never seen grassroots America so united on an issue as I've seen on this. And today I met with Bilkey, who is head of DPW, and I just don't think either that they realized the full intensity of this. Somehow they still think it's a question of maneuvering and, you know, what do we have to do to get people to understand how good we are?
DOBBS: Yes, it's remarkable, as you put it, that the men and women we elect who represent the people of this country are looking at this. And I'm talking about executive branch, as well as Congress. Many of them looking at it as politics, rather than still bona fide national security.
KING: Again, I lost too many friends and neighbors on September 11 ever look upon this as politics. And you know, there's room in some areas of politics. Not on this. This is life and death.
DOBBS: Congressman Pete King, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee. thanks for being here.
KING: Thank you, Lou.
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