Transcript: House Intelligence Committee chairman Rep. Mike Turner on "Face the Nation," March 31, 2024

The following is a transcript of an interview with House Intelligence Committee chair Rep. Mike Turner that aired on March 31, 2024.

ED O’KEEFE: Thanks for sticking with us. We go now to the Republican chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Ohio Congressman Mike Turner, who joins us this morning from Dayton, Ohio. Congressman- Chairman, good morning to you. Our understanding is that Speaker Johnson plans to hold a vote on funding for Ukraine aid when Congress returns a week from tomorrow. Is that still the plan?

HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE CHAIR REP. MIKE TURNER: Well, first off, Happy Easter. I was at Westminster Church in Dayton celebrating with Christians around the world, Christ’s resurrection this morning, I appreciate you having me. And that you’ve included a faith piece in your- in your report today. With respect to Ukraine, I mean, this is one really where I think, you know, the world has seen that this is a war of aggression by Russia, that this is authoritarianism versus democracy. That just the- the brutality that is occurring, the murderous nature of what Russia is doing, has to be responded to, we have to continue our support. The speaker has made it clear that he supports Ukraine both directly to Zelensky. Publicly, he’s made these statements and to the Secretary General of NATO. The speaker has made very clear statements that when we get back, it’s the next top agenda. After having just passed all the bills that fund the federal government, I believe this is going to have overwhelming support in Congress, and we’ll put a bill on the President’s desk.

ED O’KEEFE: Is it going to have overwhelming support from fellow Republicans? Are you going to have to make tweaks to the legislation that is currently written to either include loans that Ukraine would have to pay back or potentially tuck in something regarding border security to get across the line?

REP. MIKE TURNER: Well, I think there- there already is a significant and very strong support among Republicans, and certainly across Americans across the country. Now, as this package moves, certainly there are going to be some discussions, you know, in both the Senate and the House. I’ve had discussions about the border itself. And certainly there have been discussions about the manner in which the non-military, humanitarian aid is structured. But I think overall, we’re going to get a package that is going to be negotiated with the Senate and the and the White House, so that we have a bill that the President can sign.

ED O’KEEFE: Will whatever gets done pass before Congress takes its next week long break, which is scheduled to begin around April 22?

REP. MIKE TURNER: Well it’s certainly my hope. We’re to a- and as President Zelensky has made clear to Speaker Johnson, we are at a critical point. The CIA director and the Secretary of Defense everybody has made it clear that- that we are at a critical juncture on the ground that is beginning to be able to impact not only morale of the Ukrainians that are fighting, but also their ability to fight. Putin knows this. This is obviously an area where we cannot allow Putin to win. Our European allies are saying that Putin’s goal is a war beyond Ukraine with Europe. We need to stop him in Ukraine. 

ED O’KEEFE: On that point, in an interview this past week with CBS’ Charlie D’Agata the Ukrainian president Zelensky said his country will lose the war to Russia if he doesn’t have American support. I’m just curious, given your strong support for Ukraine, in your assessment, how much damage has already been done by congressional inaction?

REP. MIKE TURNER: Well, it certainly has been difficult. We have certainly seen an emboldened Putin, but we’ve not seen significant losses of territory on the battleground in Ukraine itself. We certainly see it strained. We’ve seen a lack of ammunition. We’ve seen even rationing of ammunition, which is just heartbreaking, and certainly has an effect on their ability to fight. But even beyond just the issue of this supplemental and getting weapons systems replenished, we need to give them longer range weapon systems. The White House has been hesitant to do so. Congress has called for that. President Zelensky has called for that. What this would do is it would allow them to back off the Russians currently the Russians have weapon systems that are attacking from distance into the Ukrainian side. Right on the front line. This would give the Ukrainians ability to push Putin back and hold that frontline. 

ED O’KEEFE: You’re talking about Patriot missile batteries and other longer range missiles that the President has said is at least for now a step too far because it could provoke Russia into  –

REP. MIKE TURNER: It’s the ATACMS. It’s the ATACMS and I think it’s long range three kilometer kilometer ATACMS. Those I think the administration is on the verge of being willing to provide they’ve already provided Patriots, which of course with the air defense system, that really is so critical for Kyiv right now.

ED O’KEEFE: Got it. So bottom line, because you seem pretty hopeful this morning. But if we come back to you in a month, your thinking is the House will have passed this, the Senate will have passed it.  The President will have signed off on it.

REP. MIKE TURNER: There are a majority of members of the House, a majority members of the Senate, including over the 60 votes that are needed and a willing President to sign a package that would deliver this necessary aid to Ukraine. And I’m certainly hopeful we find a vehicle as quickly as possible to get that done. Speaker Johnson has certainly committed himself to that.

ED O’KEEFE: You think the Speaker is willing to put his job on the line in order to get this done because he is facing some threats?


REP. MIKE TURNER: Unfortunately. Yeah, of course. Of course the you know, unfortunately, the chaos caucus has continued to want to stop everything that occurs in Congress. It’s not as if they have an alternative plan. They- they’re just against those things that are necessary that we’re doing this is necessary for national security. Hakeem Jeffries, Minority Leader for Democrats has made it absolutely clear that he will not join with rebels in the Republican side to take down Speaker Johnson on this. And I think we’re certainly going to see broad support in Congress to get this job done.

ED O’KEEFE:  Speaking more broadly about Congress, 20 Republicans have announced their plans to retire from Congress so far this year. By the end of April, five will have departed in the middle of their terms. Are you aware of any other Republican members heading for the exit soon?

REP. MIKE TURNER: No, and this obviously is very unfortunate. This has been a very strange time period where we, you know, we see the Senate 50/50, we see the house that is 50/50, even the presidential race was run basically a 50/50. It’s almost unfolding that way, perhaps again, and it shows that we can have radical fringes, even radical individuals who don’t really have an ideology or an agenda other than – than chaos, that can cause disruptions. And that’s what we have seen. That certainly makes it difficult for people who just want to get the job done. In the area of national security, I think Speaker Johnson’s made it very clear that he –  we have his support to get national security agenda items done. I think we will.

ED O’KEEFE: You mentioned that it’s Easter Sunday. You said you’ve been to church this morning. I- I got to ask, President Trump this past week unveiled what he calls the “God Bless the USA Bible,” which not only has the words of Scripture in it, but also the text of the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and a few other things. Do you think it’s appropriate for the former President, for the likely Republican nominee, to be selling such a product?

REP. MIKE TURNER: You know, I haven’t really seen that. I’ve heard some people talk about it. I think I’m more concerned about the White House restricting the ability of children to put religious symbols on Easter egg- Easter eggs for the Easter Egg Roll at the White House. You know, I- I’m- I’m glad that CBS gives people the right to express their religious freedom. I can’t imagine that we’re certainly- in a situation with the Biden White House is restricting, especially that of children, their ability to express their religious freedoms.

ED O’KEEFE: Okay but you wouldn’t buy a copy of this Trump Bible, would you?

REP. MIKE TURNER: I’m not writing a check for that.

ED O’KEEFE: Okay. Congressman Mike Turner of Ohio, thank you for spending time with us this morning. We’ll see you soon.

REP. MIKE TURNER: Thank you.

ED O’KEEFE: And we’ll be right back with a lot more Face the Nation. Stay with us.

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