Kelley & Kafer Show, Cory Gardner, June 14, 2017

Station:    KNUS, 710 am

Show:        Kelley & Kafer Show

Guests:     Gardner, Cory


Date:         June 14, 2017

Topics:      Duterte, Philippines, Hateful Rhetoric, Violence, Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA), Baseball Field Shooting, Grim Reaper Costumes and Coffins, American Health Care Act (AHCA), FBI, China, South Korea, North Korea, Kim Jong-Un, Nuclear Arms, THAAD, Special Counsel, Senate Hearings, Robert Mueller

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HOST STEVE KELLEY:  Whenever we have events like this that really strike to the heart of our democracy, it’s an attack on the Constitution. It’s an attack on our way of life, especially when you go after an entire party. If he could have he would’ve mowed all those people down from the GOP, asking of a couple of congressmen who left early so they would beat the rush hour traffic on the way from Alexandria up to Washington DC, asked – and I can’t remember if it was Baker—a couple congressmen left early, though. And this guy asked them, “Are those Republicans or Democrats practicing?”  And they said, you know, “Republicans.”  Had they said, “Democrats,” would this not have happened?  What–.

HOST KRISTA KAFER:  He probably would have asked where the Republicans were practicing.

KELLEY:  Yeah it’s –.

KAFER:  This was a premeditated type of a thing. I –you know, and to an earlier point –.

KELLEY:  And it’s political. I don’t think we can avoid that reality. This has come to such a point now, the venom has reached — as I think it was Tom that said – it has finally now reached bloodshed. So, go ahead.

KAFER:  Well, and people do respond to influences. And I’m not going to say that we are all simply atomized actors that aren’t influenced by anything. And I have no doubt that the hateful rhetoric coming out of several different sides — primarily on the left, but some on the right — does contribute to an atmosphere where evil people are perhaps more likely to act. That said, the onus — the responsibility — for this man’s actions is on that man.

KELLEY:  Absolutely. Well, with us on our 710 KNUS hotline, and we’re happy to have him on such a – like we say – an introspective day. On other topics as well, but we would be remiss if we didn’t start with the shooting at the ball field. And Senator Cory Gardner is on the line with us, right now. Senator, good afternoon!


KAFER:  [It was a] Difficult day on Capitol Hill and I imagine that people are pretty shaken.

GARDNER:  You know, they are. [I] just was over on the House side –a weekly meeting that I have with a number of members over there. And of course, a lot of us knew Steve very well. And you know, [my] thoughts, prayers go to the family of Steve Scalise. He’s got young kids. His wife, Jennifer, I think, just got to town from New Orleans. And, you know, the police officers who acted so bravely and prevented what could have been even more — more harm. And you know, just one of those days that [is] pretty incredible to look back on and say, “Wow! This did happen, and what a shame!”

KELLEY:  So, our question – one of our questions this afternoon, Senator, is, “Is the nasty political rhetoric the cause of this type of violence or this isolated incident?” One of our listeners said earlier this is the first time it has come to the point of bloodshed. Would you agree?

GARDNER:  I think if you look at reports, we’ve got more to learn. We’ve got – you know, their investigation continues. But FBI sources are talking about — you know, The Hill is reporting that FBI officials told The Hill that the shooting appeared to have been planned and, on the surface, appeared politically motivated. And you know, that the rhetoric, the discourse, is elevated to a point where, you know, left, right—you know, both sides have to stop this rhetoric. I mean, when you have people showing up dressed as the Grim Reaper with — you know, in my office, — when we have people showing up with coffins in offices around the country, when you have people holding up the head of the president — decapitated head of the president, when you — you know, when you have people who are, you know, accusing other people of killing people –. And look, my social media today, if you look at the responses that I got to a tweet that I sent out saying that I’m praying for Steve Scalise and the Capitol police officers, people replied saying, “He deserved it,” “I wish they got more,” and, “This is what happens when the Republicans kill people on a health care plan.”

KAFER:  Ugh. Absolutely disgusting, Sen. Gardner. I can’t imagine. There’s some vile, vile people out there. I just hope for continued safety for you, for your family, and for everybody else that’s working on Capitol Hill. I did want to ask you a little bit about your most recent trip over to the Far East. You are the chairman of the Foreign Relations Subcommittee on East Asia, the Pacific, and International Cybersecurity.


KAFER:  And yet — a fascinating trip! You were in South Korea, as well as the Philippines. You met with a very controversial man, Duterte –President Duterte.  How did that meeting go?

GARDNER:  You know, again, it was a chance for me to move beyond “press release diplomacy.” What I mean by that is that some people would be satisfied by sending out an email or a press release condemning the human rights violations. I want to make sure that I’m saying that in person, to talk about my concern over extrajudicial killings and human rights violations, but also recognizing that the Philippines is a mutual defense treaty ally of the United States. Meaning, if China were to attack the Philippines, or perhaps a determination [were] made that the current ISIS events taking place in the Mindinao region of the Philippines triggers Article V of the Mutual Defense Treaty, the United States would be required to defend the Philippines. And so, strategically, this is a very important part of Southeast Asia. And with the spread of radical Islam to the Philippines, we can’t lose sight of the fact that that could greatly jeopardize and imperil the United States. So, it was a meeting where I talked about the need for transparency, accountability, investigations, and human rights.

KAFER:  Well, I’m glad you went there. You know, I – you were also in South Korea. I’ve been to South Korea. It’s a beautiful country, a great ally. I’m a little bit concerned about the new president – President Moon – [and] his desire to suspend further development of THAAD — that is the missile defense system that we have given them. When you were there, you talked with a variety of people. What was your sense about the direction of South Korea with regard to North Korea?

GARDNER:  Well, again, I think that’s a great observation to make. I was very disappointed in the suspension of THAAD. This is the antimissile defense system the US has placed on the Korean Peninsula, with the permission of the Korean government — an alliance decision that was made to protect the people of Korea as well as the 28,000 US men and women in uniform that serve on the Korean peninsula, to protect them from North Korea. [I] was very disturbed that they would do that. I’m very upset that China is continuing to bully the South Korean economy – the people of South Korea. They — some estimates have said that China’s actions [are] to retaliate against the missile defense system that was placed there have cost South Korea’s economy up to $16 billion. And so, to me, it’s the wrong thing to say to China, “Hey, we’re going to go ahead and suspend this,” because China is the one who is acting inappropriately, here. And, you know, I hope that this regime will continue in its support for sanctions and pressure against North Korea. But certainly that’s not a good start, when you suspend the THAAD deployment.

KELLEY:  Well, we have military presence there, with ships in that theater. And that always heightens the tensions. You would hope that it de-escalates, but I mean, at some point, something is going to have to snap. Are you concerned, and in what time frame, Sen. Gardner?

GARDNER:  You know, I think from open source intelligence reports – or open source reports, period — that within this administration –within Pres. Trump’s administration — the Kim Jong-Un regime, based on current trajectories, will have a capacity – capability — of reaching the United States with a nuclear weapon. And that is an unacceptable outcome. It’s also a[n] incredible catastrophe, if there were war on the Peninsula. We’re talking about a regime that would rain down tens of thousands of rockets on Seoul, a metropolitan area that has 20 million+ people in it. And so the loss of life would simply be catastrophic and beyond imagination. And that’s why we have to work so hard now to bring the world community together to peacefully denuclearize the North Korean regime. We have not taken all of our options to their fullest extent. We still have options remaining. We have not sanctioned out North Korea. China has a lot more they could do. In fact, we just had a hearing on this, this past week, China has over 5000 businesses that do business with North Korea, including some that even have offices in the United States. We ought to shut them down. We ought to sanction them. We need to stop this interaction.

KAFER:  Well, I was happy see that new sanctions were voted on today – I don’t remember if it was the House or the Senate – on Russia. I think that’s an appropriate action. I do want to turn, because I know we only have you for about five more minutes, to the progress of the Senate when it comes to healthcare. What’s your sense on how that is going?

GARDNER:  You know, I think they’ve been very good discussions. And what I think you’re looking at, is a healthcare plan that focuses on four sort of overarching goals. I mean, those goals include making sure that we save the American people from the collapse of Obamacare by revitalizing the individual marketplace, making sure that we help people with pre-existing conditions have affordable insurance, making sure that we make Medicaid sustainable and allow a program that gives greater functionality and flexibility to the states to manage that program in a way that the states know how to do better for their people than Washington does, and to make sure that we can drive down these costs of healthcare. So, those are sort of the overarching objectives. You can do that through a number of ways: greater use of HSA’s — health savings accounts, a flexibility that will allow people to use HSA’s for over-the-counter pharmaceutical purchases, a tax credit that is means tested helps people who are lower income or sicker or older, a plan that would revitalize the insurance marketplace. Because, you know, what good does it do you, if you have a law that requires coverage of pre-existing conditions, if you have no insurance to buy because the individual market has completely collapsed?!  That’s what we’re facing in a lot of places. So, we have got to fix the market so there’s options and competition to choose from, driving down costs. And you know, there’s a number of things that we will continue to do to, I hope, put a responsible bill in place before the Senate. And you know, the Senate and the House will pass it. and then it will be in conference committee, and then further discussions from there.

KELLEY:  And a lot of people want to see something happen, as you are well aware, because it could mean the difference in 2018 whether many that ran on the “repeal and replace” of Obamacare are actually going to follow through on that promise. Final question, because you been very kind with your time on such an awful day in Washington DC, and almost a good day because it could’ve been so much worse. What about this special counsel, Sen. Gardner?


KELLEY:  Are you an advocate for that, now that he’s in place? I mean, there’s not much – but were you an advocate for a special counsel, and are you afraid of “investigation creep” and having this thing get out of control?

GARDNER:  Yeah, what we need to have happen, is a completion of the investigations. And that’s where I’ve been all along. Whether it’s the FBI investigation, that needs to be completed. Whether it’s now this Robert Mueller decision, that needs to be completed.  What I don’t want to see is partisan politics try to do exactly that, which is partisanize or politicize an investigation. Let’s get the information. Let’s get the facts out. And let’s complete it before people start turning around and demanding something else. Let’s get the job done. They have decided to move forward with Robert Mueller. I supported that decision when it was announced. And – but most importantly, is the objective of completing the investigation so that we can operate on all the facts, and that includes the Senate intelligence committee that continues to work on it in a bipartisan fashion.

KELLEY:  Sen. Cory Gardner, thanks for coming on today. And thank you, on behalf of all of us here, for your hard work for the state of Colorado, and looking forward to having you on again.

GARDNER:  Well, thank you both, very much!  And I look forward to being back home.

KELLEY:  Okay, stay safe while you’re there, and we’ll see you here in Colorado again, sir! Thank you!

GARDNER:  Okay. Thank you!

KELLEY:  Buh-bye!