Wednesday on CNN’s “New Day,” Rep. Steve King (R-IA) discussed how to handle the terrorism threat in the wake last weekend’s terrorist shooting in Orlando, FL.
King warned that political correctness is suppressing signs that could alert the authorities to a potential terrorism attack because of the fear of sounding any alarm could come with the label of being called a bigot.
Transcript as follows:
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: All right, the politics of terror in the midst of no sign of action in the wake of Orlando, of any kind on any issue. So, let’s test the implications of what’s going on here. GOP leaders, they’re having to deal with what Trump said about the president and about this situation.
Let’s discuss with Republican congressman Steve King, of Iowa. Congressman, good to see you. I’m sorry it’s in such a terrible time that the country is experiencing, but it matters.
And I’m hearing froma lot of people in your party, higher-ups as well, stop saying we, they keep saying. Say Trump, don’t say we. We don’t own everything that he says, whether it’s the president being sympathetic toward Islamic terror or most of what he’s saying. Don’t say we. Are you in that camp or do you believe that Donald Trump represents your ideas and you’re step-for-step with him?
REP. STEVE KING (R), IOWA: Well, if the election were today, I would vote for Donald Trump, and I think he’s laid out some good policies that we ought to embrace. One of them is his immigration policy. I’ve heard him modify his policy on not bringing any more Muslims into the United States by suggesting, instead, closer to Ted Cruz’s position, which is let’s suspend immigration from terrorist-sponsoring countries, at least until we get a handle on this.
I think that’s a prudent statement, and yet, the crossfire that’s coming back is anti-gun. And so, immediately, this is into that political tug of war that’s going on. We want to secure the borders. We want to have safety for the American people. We want to have a prudent immigration policy. And the Democrats want to take away our guns, the very thing we need to defend ourselves from people like that shooter in Orlando.
CUOMO: Well, I think it’s actually a different issue this time, so let’s skip to that right now. Do you think that the FBI, after having the contact with this Orlando murderer that they had, should have been able to flag his gun application and talk to him?
KING: You know, I don’t think I can say for certain on that, except that they did an investigation, they interviewed him two or three times. They decided to close the investigation. They didn’t have enough to move forward with any kind of prosecution, and so at that point they concluded that it wasn’t worthy any longer to monitor him.
And so, at that point, where would you then draw the line? Would you say that 15 years from now if that individual had been interviewed by the FBI he couldn’t buy a gun without setting off alarm bells? I don’t know the real technical answer to that, but —
CUOMO: Well, that would be the discussion, though, because especially, Congressman, after what we just saw here in Orlando, that the FBI knew who this guy was. They weren’t able to make the case. He then went out and got a gun. The FBI did not have the authority to even talk to him, and now this. You don’t see that as a reasonable abridgment of Second Amendment rights in furtherance of investigative power for the FBI, even after Orlando?
KING: I’m willing to have the discussion but I’m not willing to take the guns out of the hands of everybody who fits that category because we’re denying them their right to defend themselves, too. I think, also, we need to expand our human intelligence. I think we need to take a look at his wife and that investigation appears to be going on. What about the neighbors? What about the people that should have been watching this? They’re intimated by political —
CUOMO: There’s no question. There’s no — well, I don’t know that they’re intimidated by political — how do you make that argument about the neighbors and the people who knew this guy being affected by political correctness?
KING: Well, just some of the interviews that are out there. There are multiple interviews of people that saw him in the club.
KING: There were people at his employment that spoke up and they were more or less suppressed because they said that the criticism had to stop because they thought it was criticism because he was a Muslim. In fact, that’s what the FBI’s conclusion was, is that there really wasn’t an unstable individual here. That it was the anti-Muslim prejudice that was causing him his trouble at work. So, I’d charge that all up against the —
CUOMO: No, I understand. I thought were talking about — I thought you were talking about the Orlando — I thought you were talking about the Orlando specific situation. Now, as to the prior investigations in 2013 and 2014, I haven’t read or heard anything from our sources at the FBI or anything they’ve put out, that they thought that this was about P.C.
This was about what the guy said at work. People were worried about it, hearing him say either that he was identified with all these different Muslim extremists groups or that he was threatening different actions. So they investigated but couldn’t make the case. He then came up in a separate investigation a year later but they couldn’t make the case. So, that was that. I don’t know how P.C. enters into this.
KING: OK, well, Chris, let me just — I’ll put it this way. I’ve read a lot of the narratives on here. Maybe not all of them but as many as I could get my hands on. I’ve listened to a fair amount of briefings on this and the picture that emerges in case after case, this one in particular, but also San Bernardino, we had an opportunity to engage and we were suppressed because of the political correctness. It goes clear back to Major Hasan in Fort Hood.
So, I think our entire society has got to shift this thing around. That’s something Donald Trump has got this right. That if we are suppressed —
CUOMO: So —
KING: — with political correctness to the point where we don’t see something and say something out of fear of being criticized of being some kind of bigot, then America’s not as safe as if we had freedom of speech and freedom of conscience.
CUOMO: So, you’re worried about the political correctness and not abridging our ability to stay safe, but you are not worried about the FBI having its hand tied and not being able to look at a gun application of a man that they had two different sets of interactions with becauseyou want to err on the side of ensuring his Second Amendment rights? Do I have it correct?
KING: I would say I think the FBI would have had the authority — the ability — to go look at that application if they want to put a marker onto his file to do that. But they concluded the investigation because they didn’t see enough.
CUOMO: They did not have that ability.
KING: Not by an automatic blanket ability —
CUOMO: The case was closed. They did —
KING: — but they could have flagged his file and continued the investigation, then they would have had that ability.
CUOMO: Right, but they closed the case.
CUOMO: The point is about how they’re able to deal with people that once they’ve had interaction with. One last thing for you, Congressman. There is concern that many people, when discussing what happened here in Orlando, aren’t pointing out that this was gays being targeted.
That this was a gay club where this happened. That this guy had a problem with gays. That’s that why this is a hate crime, whether it’s terror, and a hate crime we’ll see from investigators’ point of view. But do you believe that it’s important to say gays were targeted here, and that matters?
KING: I think it’s clear that gays were targeted in Orlando. It does matter, and it’s tragic that they were targeted because of their sexual orientation. I talked with hundreds of conservatives over on this side of the aisle. No one brings up the fact in any derogatory way or even mentions it to that extent.
I mean, it’s tragic and we’re sorry about that, and they are in our prayers as if they were the Christians that were slaughtered in Charleston, South Carolina some time back. Equal standing with God, Chris.
CUOMO: Congressman, thank you very much for joining us. It’s important to be having these conversations. Always a pleasure to have you on NEW DAY.
KING: Thank you, Chris.
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