Dan Caplis Show, Cory Gardner, January 12, 2017

Station: KNUS, 710am

Show:     Dan Caplis Show

Guests:  Gardner, Cory

Link:      http://dancaplis.podbean.com/

Date:      October 26, 2016


Click Here for Audio


HOST DAN CAPLIS:  Let’s go to the VIP line.  Sen. Cory Gardner, kind enough to join us.  What an amazing experience you must be having right now as these hearings unfold and Cory right in the middle of it.  Senator, welcome back to 710 KNUS.

U.S. SENATOR FROM COLORADO, CORY GARDNER:  Hey Dan!  Thanks for having me!

CAPLIS:  Well, appreciate the time.  I know you’re very busy up there.  If you would, before we get into the specifics of Tillerson and your committee assignment, etc., [give us] your overall impression of how this new administration is starting out.

GARDNER:  You know, I think there are some very talented and incredibly successful individuals who have been nominated for various positions, a number of whom don’t have any Washington experience.  And that’s a great thing, because they bring a private-sector knowledge, a private-sector know-how, and “get it done” kind of attitude that this place desperately needs.  So I think you’re seeing Washington try to adjust to the fact that maybe Washington is not in charge, and that is a really good thing.

CAPLIS:  [laughing] That’s a really good way to put it.   And of these nominees, is there anybody who particularly excites you, anybody you concerns you?

GARDNER:  You know, I’ve met with a number who I’ve been excited –.  Look, Nikki Haley – I met with her, one of the first nominees that I met with– the Governor of the South Carolina, now the nominee to be the United Nations Ambassador at large, a phenomenal person.   I think she’ll be an amazing success, unlike what we’ve seen at the United Nations that as this administration continued to stab Israel in the back.  I think she is going to be a strong advocate for our interests and our allies, including Israel, which will be a seachange.  You know, I have met – yesterday, obviously,  we spent the nine hours with Mr. Tillerson – Rex Tillerson — to be the Secretary of State.  A number of other nominees that I’ve come in and met with and been very impressed, of people like Betsy DeVos who’s going to get Washington out of the classroom and restore rights to teachers and students and parents and states.  And that’s a good thing!

CAPLIS:  Well, I’m so excited about her because personally, I believe that true school choice in the form of vouchers — and all school choices great — but true school choice in the form of vouchers is the next big liberating revolution in this nation.  And I know she supports that. And I was thrilled to see that pick.  Now, [the] Dems trying to hang her and some others up on some of this paperwork stuff.   But when do you think we’ll see her confirmed?

GARDNER:  You know, I – her confirmation hearing slid about a week, I think.  So, it looks like that confirmation hearing is going to be coming up next week.   There was an agreement, I believe, that Sen. McConnell made with Sen. Schumer, that would allow a series of confirmations to be had on the first day that President Trump sworn in.  That is the tradition and custom of the Senate, I believe.  Barack Obama had seven members of his cabinet official by the first day, even more by the end of that first week.  So,  people who complain about the pace of nominations are neglecting to put the fact out Pres. Obama had seven nominees on day one, and even more by Friday of that same week.

CAPLIS:  Hmm.  Good point, Senator Cory Gardner, our guest.   Now, getting back to your point of a second ago, regarding Rex Tillerson, Israel, etc., as you know, Lindsey Graham and Ted Cruz — I think you’re your close with both those guys– you know, are putting up a bill today to defund the United Nations until it reverses that awful resolution on Israel.  Do you support or oppose that?

GARDNER:  I do.  In fact, I was just–it’s funny you say that, because right before the phone call they handed me, “Hey, can I quickly approve a release that talks about the resolution, the support that we have.   I think to support a United Nations that allows nations like Iran, Iraq, Venezuela to be in positions of leadership from time to time over things like human rights and control regimes over weapons of mass destruction, and yet turns its back on the democracy — the only democracy in the Middle East — is a organization that is in dire need of a shakeup.  And I think we provide a tremendous amount of funding to the United Nations and that’s something that we ought to look at.  Look, the last eight years have been straining some of the best relationships we have around the globe!  And over the last month we’ve seen what can happen to Israel when the United States walks away.  Look, I don’t think the United Nations Security Council applauded when they finally sanctioned North Korea—

CAPLIS:  Right.

GARDNER:  –a madman that has killed two hund—millions of his own peop–excuse me, thousands of his own people.  But yet, they did applaud when the United States abstained and condemned Israel.

CAPLIS:  And you’ve been a leader on North Korea.  As you know, there is some realistic chance North Korea will end up killing millions of people with nuclear weapons if they aren’t stopped.  That’s an extreme scenario, but it is in play as they’re developing ballistics that could hit, you know, the Western United States.  And you have truly been a leader on that issue, Sen. Cory Gardner, our guest.  Hey, you’ve had the close-up of Rex Tillerson.  What’s your take on the guy?

GARDNER:  You know, I thought he did a good job.  There were a couple of rough exchanges.  He had a very terse exchange with Sen. Marco Rubio from Florida.  You know, he didn’t give the answer in the words that Marco Rubio was looking for.  Chairman Bob Corker of the Foreign Relations Committee circled back and followed up with the question, and I think he gave an answer that Marco was looking for, although it might not have been in the exact words.   I think, personally, that Vladimir Putin is a war criminal.  And I think that other people reach that –will reach that conclusion when they see the facts.  And I think that’s what Rex Tillerson is looking for, and I look forward to him having that same conclusion.

CAPLIS:  Well, Senator, I agree with you that Putin is a war criminal but I think –like you, Rubio was my first choice to be the GOP nominee — but I think it would’ve been way too much to expect at the stage of a confirmation hearing a nominee for Secretary of State to be willing to put that label on Putin.  Am I wrong about that?  Should Tillerson have said, “He’s a war criminal?”

GARDNER:  And I think that’s what Chairman Corker, when he followed up with Mr. Tillerson and he did get the answer, he said, “Look, if you have–.”  Look, up until last night, I think – or I think it was the night before – Rex Tillerson didn’t even have a classic classified clearance.

CAPLIS:  Mm-hmm.

GARDNER:  And so he hasn’t had access to the privileged information that the State Department does and the analysts that have the exact details.  And I think he gave the right answer, which was, “Look, when I see this, when I have the knowledge of this with the experts that show me this, then you bet I’m going to make the proper declarations where they should.”  So, I think it’s just somebody who is not from Washington answers it in a way that maybe Washington is not used to.  And so, he did give the answer that the committee was looking for– I believe—when he said, “Hey, I just need to see the facts, and we’re going to learn it, and then we’re going to do something about it.

CAPLIS:  And Senator, you’re close to Marco Rubio, do you think eventually he’ll end up supporting Tillerson?

GARDNER:  Dan, I honestly don’t know.  You know, this is a 11 Republican, 10 Democrat committee. I do think that he won over some Democrats yesterday.  I don’t know whether or not he won over Marco Rubio.  I just  don’t know.

CAPLIS:  Are you going to support him?

GARDNER:  I had a very positive meeting.  I had a couple questions, but I think at this point that he is somebody that a president should be able to have on his cabinet.

CAPLIS:  Do you think any of Trump’s nominees are in danger — substantial danger– of not being confirmed?

GARDNER:  You know, at this point, under the rules that the Democrats put in place, requiring 51 votes, I don’t anticipate that problem.  But I do know that the — Chuck Schumer has narrowed down his opposition to President-elect Trump’s cabinet picks to just about everyone.

CAPLIS:  [laughter] That’s it!  That’s right!  Senator Cory Gardner, our guest.  You’re being so generous with your time. You know, one of the hallmarks of great families is they can disagree internally but still stay a family together, pointing in the same direction.  Obviously, that’s a set up to the question about your relationship with the Trump administration, since ultimately you weren’t able to continue to support Donald Trump.  But I view you –as I have said often, on and off the air — as one of the true rising stars in the U.S. Senate.   In my mind, it would be very unfortunate if the Trump administration, you know, wasn’t to make full use of your talents because of that disagreement during the campaign.  What is your relationship right now with the Trump administration?  Where do you see that going?

GARDNER:  Look, I—if you listen to the speech that President-elect Trump gave the day after the election, I think every American can agree that if that’s the way this country is headed– that’s the direction it’s governed–that we will all be better off for it.  And so I’ve had great conversations with President-elect Trump about how he can help move the agenda here in the Senate forward.  I’ve talked to Reince Priebus multiple times, and Vice President Mike Pence numerous times, and look forward to working with the administration to implement and fulfill that vision that he laid out that day after –or the morning of the election.

CAPLIS:  Finally, –and again, thank you for being so generous with your time — Sen. Cory Booker opposing Jeff Sessions in the hearing itself.  Unprecedented.  Your take on that?

GARDNER:  Look, I really think that what you’re seeing is the height of hypocrisy on people who have praised Jeff Sessions, people who worked with Jeff sessions on numerous occasions and issues. Jeff Sessions voted for Eric Holder!  And then all of a sudden they turn around and trash him, call him a horrible human being, and accuse him of some of the most of vicious things that you can ever accuse somebody of.  I do think there is a strong element of hypocrisy when they’re willing to work with them throughout their career in the Senate, but on this day, apparently, it has gone too far.  And I I just don’t think that’s the way this place ought to work.

CAPLIS:  Final question, Senator.  And again, you’ve been a leader on North Korea, but as you look at the globe right now, my sense –just as a guy out here–my sense is that Donald Trump has a real chance to be a historically great president.  It seems to me, virtually all of our historically great presidents had to tackle really hard issues, which meant a lot of pain and suffering at some point in their administration.  What concerns you most – I don’t want to use the word “fear”—but what are you most concerned about as you look out over the worldwide landscape, at this point, in terms of threats? You know, whether it’s North Korea or Iran, it’s Russia, etc., threats that could lead to major American military involvement?

GARDNER:  Well, you know, one of the biggest threats that we had created ourselves is the fact that the US presented weakness over the last eight years.

CAPLIS:  Mm-hmm.

GARDNER:  And when we present weakness, we embolden our enemies.  As a result, we’ve seen an emboldened Russia, we’ve seen an emboldened Iran, we’ve seen emboldened terrorists around the globe, and you know, from the Middle East to North Korea.   So, that’s got to change.  And I believe it will change based on the conversation with Rex Tillerson yesterday and what we’re hearing out of the new administration,  that it will be a strong, engaged US foreign policy that shows that the United States will be an active strength and will support our friends and will take it to our enemies.  Now, I think the hotspots themselves are very clear.  What Russia has done in Crimea, what they have done in Syria and the Middle East, Iran has now taken the billions of dollars that Barack Obama gave them through sanctions relief and is putting it into expanded military operations, ballistic missile development. North Korea has said they will develop a ballistic missile.  We know they have miniaturized the nuclear warheads.  We know they have dozens of warheads already. They want to deliver it to the United States. That’s unacceptable.  And ISIS obviously has to be our number one concern, of, how do we destroy them?  How we eliminate them?  And how do we wipe away the sourge of radical Islam?

CAPLIS:  And you know, you get all this.  And you’re willing to speak out on it.  What I would love to do, when next time you have some time and hopefully very soon, is just devote a segment to each of these, and what you think the course of action should be. Because obviously, these enemies aren’t stopping.  And so, I’ll close it with this question, if you have a few more seconds.  Iran:  you have spoken out courageously and accurately about the jihadi state of Iran and this horrific deal.  What should Donald Trump do?  Should Donald Trump tear it up on day one?  If you’re President of the United States right now, Senator, what do you do with the Iran deal?

GARDNER:  Well, my opinion is it should be torn up from day one.  If you listen to the testimony of his nominee for Secretary of State yesterday, he talked about how bad of a deal it was and then he talked about the fact that the deal — and this is something I’ve said all along — doesn’t prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon.  In fact, my point all along has been, within just a few years, they not only will have the ability to develop a nuclear weapon, and have a nuclear weapon, but they will have the blessing of the world in the development of that nuclear weapon.  And his point is, it’s got to stop, and we have to know what happens next.  So, this is a bad deal.  It weakened this country.  It emboldened our enemies.  And that’s something that we simply can’t stand for.

CAPLIS:  Senator, [I] appreciate the time today!  Keep up the good work!

GARDNER:  Thanks for having me, Dan!

CAPLIS:  Thank you, sir!  Take care!  That is Senator Cory Gardner.