Rep. Steve King Will Monitor Comey's Testimony To Senate Panel
STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
The perspectives we're hearing this morning on Comey's testimony includes Senator Angus King of Maine, who's an independent caucusing with the Democrats.
ANGUS KING: The whole context of these conversations, I don't know if I'd use the word inappropriate. I'd use the word sort of strange, and sort of inappropriate may be the right the right term.
INSKEEP: That's Angus King. And now we have another King, Representative Steve King, Republican of Iowa, who's been supportive of President Trump. Congressman, welcome to the program.
STEVE KING: Oh, thanks very much. I'm happy to be on this morning.
INSKEEP: Does the written testimony that you've already seen show a president acting the way that a president should?
S. KING: You know, I think if I hadn't heard all of the news and all the hype building up to this, if I more or less came out of a vacuum and sat down in my office and read this transcript or this testimony that Comey will deliver today, I don't think I would have been alarmed at all. I think the hype to it causes us to look at some of these things in a little bit different light.
But when I see, you know, the language in there when the president said to Comey, I need loyalty, I'm not alarmed by that. The president does need loyalty. He has people that are turning on him, and they're leaking from inside the White House. They were leaking from the intelligence community. And it's undermining our national security. And it's stalling the agenda that the American people voted for, so...
INSKEEP: I understand your concern about leaking, but should a president be asking an FBI director who's supposed to be independently investigating people close to the president, should he be repeatedly asking that person for loyalty and to drop investigations?
S. KING: Well, you put that kind of into a package there, but was that the flow of the conversation? And I think probably not. I think it's fine for the president to have a conversation with, for example, with James Comey. And when he said, I hope you can let this go, that's far from a directive. And if Comey is intimidated by that or if he thought that that was an order, he should have asked, Mr. President, is that an order? That'd be a different story, but it was just a suggestion. And I think that's just a management style.
And, by the way, the, you know, the one-on-one dinner that he set up, there's been a lot of focus on that. But Donald Trump does that. He calls people, and he says, oh, let's sit down. Let's have dinner over it. If you want to have a conversation, let's have dinner over it. He's asked me to do that, and I don't think there's anything nefarious about it. I think it's his style.
INSKEEP: Although you say it was just a suggestion, Comey did not follow the suggestion and he was fired. That sounds like considerably more than a suggestion.
S. KING: Well, that's another linkage that, you know, we're hearing some of the press and the public put that link in there together. But if you step back and look at it, I think if Comey went forward with this investigation, and if he stepped up and did an announcement at some point that said I have completely cleared Trump and all of his affiliates and his campaign from any any kind of effort to cooperate or coordinate with Russian efforts to influence our election, that would not have exonerated Donald Trump because Comey was already too tainted.
If on the other way - on the other hand, if he had come forward and said I think there's some things here that we want to ask for serious charges on, then I think the other side of America would have said wait just a minute. Look what you - look at your history, Comey. So I think Comey was tainted. And I think it's a logical thing to say let's start fresh, although I do wish he hadn't fired him. It would be an easier position today, in my opinion.
INSKEEP: Let me ask about one other thing, and it's about what's missing from these conversations as written down by James Comey, these conversations between the president of the United States and the FBI director. We heard earlier today from Philip Mudd. He's a former CIA and FBI official. And he's read this testimony, and here's what he had to say about it.
PHILIP MUDD: There's a couple things that are missing here. The first is any suggestion that the commander in chief, that is the president, had a conversation with the FBI director about how to secure America for the next election. The conversation centers on how the president can protect himself in light of the allegations.
INSKEEP: The president really has not taken very seriously the Russian interference in this election and has repeatedly scorned and dismissed the charges. Do these conversations show the president focusing on himself and disregarding the country?
S. KING: Well, I know that the dates that we're referring to on these and, you know, focusing on his next election, I guess I'm a little surprised about that piece.
INSKEEP: Well, focusing on the allegations and getting out of the allegations is what Mudd says.
S. KING: Well, yes, for the purposes of the next election is I thought what I heard.
S. KING: But in any case, it's, you know, again, it's the mindset of the president. And I would think that you can track through - this is James Comey's - the transcript of the testimony that he will deliver today, and it'll go into the record - into the official record. And you can string a lot of facts and events together and then cherry pick some of the pieces out of there and draw some conclusions. But I, you know, this is all without the president commenting on the language that's coming out there today. I will tell you that I have been impressed with James Comey's intelligence. I've - he's testified before me, and I've questioned him multiple times before committee. I don't doubt his ability.
And I think that, you know, maybe in another scenario he would have been a stellar individual. But right now, it's come to the place where he's become the subject, he's become the controversy. And I think President Trump following his instincts, which have served him very well in business and actually very, very well in politics, decided we need to remove this - James Comey from discussion and move forward. This country's got to move forward, and that's the most important part of this. We can't be denying the American people their mandate.
INSKEEP: Congressman Steve King, Republican of Iowa. Thanks for taking the time this morning, really appreciate it.
S. KING: Thank you, Steve.
INSKEEP: He's talking with us on this morning that James Comey will testify before the Senate intelligence committee. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.