Live from Music Row Friday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – host Leahy welcomed Congressman David Kustoff (R-TN-08) to the newsmaker line to get his reaction regarding the withdrawal from Afghanistan, whether he would vote to have Biden impeached, and if he would vote for Donald Trump as speaker of the House as proposed by Steve Bannon yesterday.
Leahy: We are joined now on the newsmaker line by our good friend Congressman David Kustoff, who represents Tennessee’s Eighth Congressional District. Good morning, Congressman.
Kustoff: Good morning. Thanks for having me on this morning.
Leahy: Are you back in the land of sanity briefly?
Kustoff: It’s amazing. Right before I left Washington a few weeks ago, they were getting ready to impose a citywide mask mandate again. And so it was good to get out.
But in Shelby County, we’ve got a mask mandate starting, I think, seven this morning. So we’re back in the land of the mandates.
Leahy: Yeah, that’s kind of crazy. And of course, right now we’ve seen this debacle in Afghanistan. Do you have any latest information on how many American citizens have been abandoned behind Taliban enemy lines by the Biden administration today?
Kustoff: Right now we’re relying on State Department information and the Department of Defense information, and they’re all over the place. You can’t get a straight answer from them, which shows, I think, the incompetence from top-down by the administration, the poor execution of the exit plan, and down the line.
And that’s really what concerns me, and I think it concerns all Americans. And it shouldn’t matter whether you’re red, blue, Republican, Democrat, or wherever you are in the spectrum.
We all knew we were going to withdraw troops in Afghanistan. And look, there’s some that debate the other side, that we should maintain a presence. And that decision was made long ago.
But I can’t imagine any exit plan, any withdrawal plan, a withdrawal of our troops that could have gone any worse or been executed any more poorly than what President Biden executed.
When I was looking at the situation Saturday night and Sunday morning, just like you were and just like everybody listening, I had all the emotions of being shocked, amazed, and angry.
And I was working on a statement, and I really wanted the statement to be from America. I’m a United States congressman, this wasn’t Republican. Again, this wasn’t leaning right. I had a line in there that we do not want this to look like our withdrawal from Saigon in 1975.
And then just 24 hours later, we all saw those images of the United States Air Force plane leaving Afghanistan with Afghanis literally hanging on the plane, thinking that that would get them safely out of Afghanistan. It’s shocking. And it makes all this angry –
Leahy: The illegal but legitimate president, this is my words, not yours, Joe Biden told George Stephanopoulos in a very heavily edited interview ABC Monday.
I think it’s when they did it, or perhaps it was Tuesday, that he couldn’t have imagined how he could have executed that withdrawal from Afghanistan any better. He doubled down on stupid and incompetent, it seems to me. What was your reaction to that statement?
Kustoff: Well, two things. One is I listened very carefully to the words. And I agree with you. That was an asinine comment, and nobody believes it. But I also watched them. And I know you did, too.
We looked at it. I don’t know. He clearly does not look like he’s in control. I don’t know who’s running it, whether it’s staff or who, but he’s clearly confused. And that concerns me.
That statement, forget our enemies, forget China, forget the others. Our allies around the world listen to that statement and it causes them to wonder about American superiority and our status as a superpower.
Leahy: Senator Rick Scott from Florida has publicly called for the invocation of the 25th Amendment, which would remove a president due to incapacity.
Do you agree with Senator Scott that President Biden should be removed because he’s not mentally capable under the 25th Amendment?
Kustoff: There’s going to have to be a physician that has to certify, and we’ve never done that in our nation’s history. But you go back to Woodrow Wilson over a hundred years ago when he really was incapacitated and his wife for historical accounts ran the country.
I think he’s an awful president. You go back to Jimmy Carter and you think about all the foreign policy mishaps with the Iranian hostage crisis and whatnot. Frankly, it looks a lot worse than Jimmy Carter. I think he’s a bad president.
He never should have been elected. He’s clearly not carrying out the duties the way I think most people would want him to. But on the other, I think that’s clearly a medical question. And there’s a giant question mark there, as far as I’m concerned.
Leahy: Let’s go beyond the medical question. Do you think, as several members of the House of Representatives have said, Jeff Van Andrew from New Jersey, a Republican, and Andy Biggs from Arizona, has called on the president to resign in disgrace because they can’t do the job. Do you agree with them? Should President Biden resign?
Kustoff: We need to be careful what we talk about because the vice president concerns me almost as much and maybe more than the president does. I’m going to continue to monitor things.
I think that we’re going to learn a whole lot more. As you know, there are reports now, I think, from The Wall Street Journal that the Biden administration had intelligence reports that essentially stated that if we went through the way that Biden advocated that we were going to withdraw, those intelligence reports predicted what was going to happen and what, in fact, did happen. But we’re going to continue to evaluate. There will be hearings, and I’m going to withhold judgment.
Leahy: I’m told that members of the House of Representatives are about to introduce articles of impeachment on the ground that he is incompetent.
And in effect, the withdrawal has hurt America’s interests so much that it does constitute a high crime or misdemeanor on the president’s part. If such articles are introduced, will you support them?
Kustoff: I don’t know. Again, I’m going to evaluate. I think, with impeachment, we saw that used as a political weapon against Donald Trump twice. And you reserve the articles of impeachment for extreme cases.
In the end, what we’ve seen unfold and what we’re going to continue to see over the next several weeks, may rise to that level, but I’m going to let things play out and I’ll judge all the facts and then do what I need to do.
Leahy: On our program here yesterday, my friend Steve Bannon, who I’m sure you’ve heard of.
Kustoff: Oh, yes. (Laughter)
Leahy: Steve Bannon suggested the following: He said he believes that there will be a sweep of the House of Representatives in November 2022, and the GOP will control the House.
If you are part of that House, you would be somebody who could cast a vote along for the speaker. And when the new Congress convenes in January 2023, here’s what Steve Bannon proposed.
And as you can select a speaker who’s not an elected member of the House. He proposed that the Republican House should elect Donald Trump for Speaker of the House and that Donald Trump should initiate impeachment proceedings, get that process going for 100 days, then resign, and then run for president in 2024.
If the Republicans take back the House, would you choose to vote for Donald Trump for Speaker of the House in January 2023?
Kustoff: Well, that’s a lot. I’m going to go backward, and I’ll get back to the bottom line. I agree with Steve Bannon. I feel really, really good that Republicans will get the majority back in 2022 for several different reasons.
One, all this crazy stuff that the progressives and the liberals are pushing right now doesn’t seem real in terms of the green New Deal stuff and pumping literally trillions of dollars into the economy on a straight partisan basis.
And with the midterm elections, historically, the party out of power gains. And by the way, in the House of Representatives right now, right now, as you and I are talking, there’s a three-vote margin between Democrats and Republicans.
So it’s really tight and very thin. Three, with the census and redistricting, Republican States are picking up congressmen and the Democrat States are losing congressmen.
With the census, New York lost population. They lost a congressman. California, I think for the first time, maybe even lost population. They lost the congressman.
Leahy: Yeah, they did. Can you hang through the break? We got to make a little bit of money, but let’s continue.
Kustoff: (Laughs) I’m happy to stay.
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