On Wednesday’s Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 am to 8:00 am – live from Washington DC Leahy spoke with Kansas Senate candidate and We Build the Wall’s general counsel, Kris Kobach.
During the last hour, Kobach described his previous roles in the Trump administration, his current Senate campaign and the next portion of the wall to be built with the We Build the Wall team.
Leahy: A great privilege now to have our good friend Kris Kobach on. Welcome, Kris.
Kobach: Great to be with you, Michael.
Leahy: And you are the general counsel for We Build the Wall.
Leahy: And I have to say, I saw you last night and I just have to compliment you on how well you handled that situation. They built the wall in Sunland Park in New Mexico and there were a few hitches in the giddy-up there for awhile.
Kobach: There were some people, political people in the city who didn’t like the fact that we were building this wall right? And securing the residents of Sunland Park. And even though we did comply with everything the city staff wanted us to do. There were some people in the political ranks of the city who thought that they should take a stand against the wall I guess.
But anyway, we got the job done. And we built the first privately funded border wall in US history. And we closed an open smuggling gap that would typically have over 100 thousand dollars worth of drugs every night and over 100 migrants smuggled through every night. You close that gap and it’s a real force multiplier for the border patrol.
Leahy: And I told you last night when we chatted briefly, I was really impressed with the way you handled that. It was a very volatile political situation and you were very diplomatic.
Kobach: Well thank you.
Leahy: And you did a great job in that regard. We have something in common. You’re a Harvard guy too?
Kobach: Yes, I am. Class of ’88.
Leahy: Younger and better looking but did a great job. One of the few Harvard grads and I talk about this all the time who’s actually a constitution conservative these days.
Kobach: Yeah. It’s amazing how few people get out of that institution with their principles intact and the ability to read the text of the constitution. (Laughs)
Leahy: That’s what we’re working on here. So it turns out that you became a marshall scholar. You went to Yale law school. You were the Secretary of State in Kansas. You’re from Kansas originally right?
Leahy: You’re from Kansas City?
Kobach: Right now we live on a little farm between Kansas City and Topeka.
Leahy: Great, great. I understand that you are interested in running for the United States Senate.
Kobach: Yes. I am running for the United States Senate. Kansas has one of four open US Senate seats. Pat Roberts is retiring and I am in the race right now. It looks very good. And hopefully, Kansas will be putting a strong constitutional conservative who will fight for the border wall and fight for closing all the immigration loopholes in the Senate.
Leahy: So you are married with five kids. You got a family. How old are your kids?
Kobach: Eldest is about to turn 16 and the youngest is four and they’re all girls. So it’s a lot of fun.
Leahy: I have two girls. Another thing we have in common. But so you ran for Governor. Lost narrowly in the general election. Won the primary. Lost narrowly. You’re coming back to run for the Senate. What kind of toll does that take on your family when you’re running for office?
Kobach: Well as you can imagine there’s just a lot of hours and a lot of days on the road because you’re constantly traveling around the state. Kansas is a big state. If you go to one corner to the other is about a seven-hour or eight-hour drive depending upon how you do it.
So, it’s a lot of time. But usually, I try to take one of my daughters with me just about wherever I go. So they get daddy time. It’s quality time. And we spend a lot of hours talking in the car.
Leahy: Do they enjoy being on the campaign trail?
Kobach: They actually do like it. It’s fun. In small doses. (Leahy laughs) And of course, whenever they go to an event with me we always get milkshakes afterward. (Laughs) A little bit of bribery there.
Leahy: It’s smart. Smart move. Now how did you get to know my friend, your friend Steve Bannon? How did you get to know him first?
Kobach: You know, I actually got to know Steve during the transition period. I advised President Trump on immigration policy during the campaign. And then during the transition, I was on President Trump’s transition team to set up all the things and policies that are being done on immigration. And we were developing those policies in that interim.
That’s when I got to know Steve Bannon. We had all kinds of common friends and we have been fast friends ever since. He was a great leader in the Trump administration during the period he was there. Incredible strategist. And I think really in many ways the things that were getting done during the period Steve Bannon was in the White House were truly incredible.
Leahy: And so he’s the chairman on the advisory board on We Build the Wall and you’ve become the general counsel for it.
Leahy: That’s a pretty big gig to have, isn’t it? And a lot of people trying to fight against you.
Kobach: Yeah, they do. And I’ll tell you of all the things I’ve done Michael on the immigration issue from advising the President, to writing Arizona’s immigration law, to representing ICE agents against the Obama administration. What I’m doing now with We Build the Wall is really some of the most rewarding and it’s just truly enjoyable. Because we’re building something.
We’ve already built this first section of wall near El Paso that we were just talking about. It’s going to be there long after you and I are dead and gone. That will be there for our grandchildren. For our great-grandchildren. It’s a legacy that we are building that is securing this country.
And so of all the things I’ve done in immigration, that’s one of the best. And yes, there are all those people that oppose the border wall. That’s the open border’s crowd. They’ve been around for a long time and they will fight us every step of the way. But that’s ok. And I’m ready for the battle. And we’re getting ready to start project number two with We build the Wall.
Leahy: Well, I’m not going to ask you when and where. Because we don’t want to cause any more legal problems (Kobach chuckles) from the opposition. They’re in the business of lawfare to stop it.
Kobach: That is exactly what they do. Lawfare. And as you may know, I lead President Trump’s presidential advisory commission on election integrity. The voter fraud commission. And that’s exactly what the liberals did. Lawfare. They filed a dozen lawsuits to grind the commission down to a halt. But if you Google the commission you’ll see all kinds of fake news. The commission quit because they couldn’t find voter fraud. (Chuckles) We were finding it by the tens of thousands. And the ACLU said, “Enough of that. We’re going to shut this down with lawsuits.”
Leahy: Absolutely. Now do you continue as general counsel for We Build the Wall as you run for the Senate?
Kobach: Yes, yes. I will continue as general counsel. And it’s more than just lawyering. It’s actually coordinating and determining where we’re going to build next. And we’ve already made that decision and we’re already getting the pieces in play. So yes, I will continue to build the wall with We Build the Wall as I’m running for US Senate. And then hopefully a year from now I’ll be getting ready to transition to the US Senate.
Leahy: So these are like two really fun things to be doing?
Kobach: They are. They’re really enjoyable.
Leahy: What else (Kobach giggles) could a constitutional conservative want to do with their life?
Kobach: I agree. (Leahy laughs) I’ve spent my career fighting illegal immigration. Now I’ve got two ways to do it. By building a physical wall and running for the US Senate. So I’m really enjoying things.
Leahy: So in terms of your campaign team, do you have a team assembled right now?
Kobach: Yes, we do. We have a campaign manager. We have a communications director. About 30 volunteers on schedule. So, we’re very much down the road. I entered the race in July.
Leahy: And what’s the website for the campaign?
Listen to the full hour:
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