The following is a transcript of an interview with House intelligence committee chair Rep. Mike Turner, Republican of Ohio, that aired on “Face the Nation” on Sept. 17, 2023.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Welcome back to Face The Nation. We are joined now by the Republican Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Mike Turner, good to have you here.
REP. MIKE TURNER: Good morning thanks for having me.
MARGARET BRENNAN: A lot to get to with you, but I want to start on what’s happening within the next eight days, we may be facing a government shutdown. Back in June, it took Democratic votes to push through that debt ceiling deal. The Speaker announced an impeachment inquiry. Isn’t this going to make it harder for you to work across the aisle and to do something like avoid a government shutdown?
REP. MIKE TURNER: Not really. There are a number of things, obviously, where there’s bipartisan consensus, one of which, as you indicated, was the budget debt deal. Kevin led in that. The American public wanted a change from the Biden policies of spending, working on closing the border, addressing the issues of China, and he delivered. And, you know, the American public have given the House with a small margin Republicans in control, the Senate, Democrats in control, small margin, they expect bipartisan solutions. Kevin has led in delivering those. This is certainly one where everyone wants the government to be functioning. We want to adhere to the deal–
MARGARET BRENNAN: You’ve got eight days.
REP. MIKE TURNER: Yes.
MARGARET BRENNAN: So what do we do here? I mean, is this a continuing resolution situation? Because it doesn’t seem like House Republicans are on the same page?
REP. MIKE TURNER: Well, I- you know, as you just said, it is probably going to result in the end and a bipartisan solution. The- we’re gonna we’re gonna pass a spending bill. That’s what it’s going to be required, and we’re going to do it.
MARGARET BRENNAN: But it will require Democrats. You don’t think the impeachment inquiry will cost you?
REP. MIKE TURNER: Well, again, there are things that are important to the country, and that for which people will come together. And I think this is one of those that the country came together with on the debt budget deal. And at that time, investigations were already ongoing into the Biden family businesses. And I think that’s certainly something that’s expected that will continue.
MARGARET BRENNAN: One of the issues for some members of your caucus is the continued support for Ukraine. And we know President Zelenskyy is going to be here this week. Can you meet with him and tell him he’s gonna get the $13 billion that the White House’s asking for? Can you get your caucus to support it?
REP. MIKE TURNER: Well, the House certainly, and certainly the Republican caucus, overwhelmingly supports aid for Ukraine. There will be issues over what the administration has asked for and what Congress ultimately gives. Speaker McCarthy has made it clear that the White House should have come to us and worked on what the package was and not just sent it to the- to Capitol Hill for dispensation. But, the same time, you know, Zelenskyy is a great spokesperson, he really makes the case better than anyone that this is a fight for democracy and that Putin’s goals are beyond- well beyond Ukraine into Eastern Europe and into the Baltics. Having him here is going to be very, very persuasive. The last time we had votes on the House floor on the issue of aid for Ukraine, nearly 300 members voted in an affirmative out of 435, a majority of the Republicans voted in the affirmative. And I think that will continue.
MARGARET BRENNAN: But this is not going to complicate the vote to keep the government funded and open?
REP. MIKE TURNER: Again, this is another- this is another essential item that we have to do. And this- this would- this was not included in the budget debt limit deal with an understanding though, because everyone knew I mean, this is on your TV sets every day. Yeah, everyone knows this is ongoing, and this is going to require U.S. support. You know, Zelenskyy has a higher approval rating in the United States than any nationally elected official. Him coming here, I think will be very persuasive.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Even to the more conservative members of your caucus?
REP. MIKE TURNER: Well, not everyone has to vote yes. If you get 300 out of 435, that’s certainly overwhelming. I think we’re going to be back there again.
MARGARET BRENNAN: So I hear- Do I hear you saying no government shutdown?
REP. MIKE TURNER: I didn’t say that. I said, we’re gonna pass a spending bill. We’ll just have to see when.
MARGARET BRENNAN: So what – we – Okay.
REP. MIKE TURNER: Stay tuned.
MARGARET BRENNAN: The White House is going to announce additional capabilities. They’ve said that, do they get the long range missiles to Ukraine that they’re asking for, the ATACMS?
REP. MIKE TURNER: I hope they do. I mean, the administration has consistently said no to everything Ukraine has said multiple times publicly, and then ultimately recanted and provided them. What we know from this era of the conflict, Ukraine is still on the offensive, which was the goal of the offensive. Russia is on the defensive. There are a number of impediments that are making it difficult for that offensive to push Russia out. And at the same time, Ukraine has to get additional ground and or longer range weapon-weapons to put Crimea at risk, which is where some of the assaults are coming from that are killing Ukrainians. So it’s incredibly important that we provide them this capability.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Your committee was briefed by the White House within the past week about this expected prisoner swap with Iran. Their diplomatic miss-mission shared with us the list of Iranians they expect President Biden to pardon. Are you comfortable with this swap?
REP. MIKE TURNER: Well, I mean, when- when we received our briefing at the committee, obviously we made known our concerns. We- whenever you put a price on American heads you get a incentive for people to take more hostages. And these are billions and billions and billions of dollars. And so that’s a concern. The administration says we’re really only giving them their own money, but it’s still money that they didn’t have. The other aspect is-is that these monies can be used to support terrorist organizations, Hezbollah, Hamas, and adventuresome actions of Iran. The administration says this is limited to humanitarian aid. But they also acknowledged that funds are fungible, which means they can use- move them around and will aid them in being able to do other things. So people are very concerned as to what this is, is a pattern the administration’s answer is people shouldn’t go to Iran, I certainly want to echo that also, people should not be going to Iran.
MARGARET BRENNAN: You’re not moving on a ban. A travel ban, though?
REP. MIKE TURNER: No, not at this time. But I think that people seeing this should know that, that they’re at risk, and they shouldn’t go to Iran.
MARGARET BRENNAN: I want to ask you, because you’ve made clear in the past, you’ve been disappointed by the level to which the intelligence community has shared with you their assessment of the classified documents investigations into the current and former presidents. Do you have any updates on that? Are you any more satisfied now?
REP. MIKE TURNER: What they have done, they’ve shown us probably an equal amount of both Biden classified documents and Trump classified documents. And what you can see from looking at those is both have egregious items in them, none of these documents should have been out of a controlled environment, both the Biden documents and the Trump documents. We don’t know the status of the Biden Special Counsel, although as you know, the Trump matter is currently moving in court, it’s certainly curious that we don’t know what’s going on in the Biden matter. They have limited the amount of documents that we have seen to those that they would suggest are not subject to executive privilege, or the types of documents that we would normally see. We want to see them all. There are already documents that are listed in the Trump court pleadings that are described in detail that we have not yet seen, and we are pushing to make certain that they provide those to Congress.
MARGARET BRENNAN: But you have no reason to believe that they are in any way on equal footing in terms of the level of classification of documents, or do you have any indication?
REP. MIKE TURNER: I can tell you from the ones I’ve seen, they are equally egregious and equal classification issues that both Biden documents and Trump documents have the equal concern and threat and equal classification.
MARGARET BRENNAN: I have so much more to ask you about but I have to leave it there right now to go to this commercial break. Thank you, Congressman. We’ll be right back.