The following is a transcript of an interview with Republican Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania that aired Sunday, August 14, 2022, on “Face the Nation.”
MARGARET BRENNAN: We turn now to Pennsylvania Republican Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick. He is a former FBI agent and federal prosecutor and joins us from Philadelphia. Congressman, good morning to you. I wonder, as a former agent, has he seen the warrant now, as we all have. What does it tell you about a possible crime that was committed?
REP. BRIAN FITZPATRICK: Yeah, thanks for having me. Well, I think it can be summed up in one line, Margaret, it was an unprecedented action that needs to be backed up by an unprecedented justification. Part A was an unprecedented action. Yes, we know. This has never happened before in the history of our country. To the second question, was there an unprecedented justification? That’s still an open question, and we know exactly where to look. And that’s the probable cause affidavit, the only document that remains sealed. So because we don’t have that information, I’ve encouraged all my colleagues on the left and right to reserve judgment and not jump ahead because we don’t know what’s in that document. It will answer many questions. When we had the press conference on Friday with my fellow members of the intelligence committee, I telegraphed the press. Then I said, the documents that you’re going to see open today, which was the statement, I’m sorry, the order, the writer of the order, and the property receipt, they’re not going to shed much light. beyond the statutes that were being investigated.
MARGARET BRENNAN: But you voted for a bill in 2018 that made it a felony to possess documents or materials containing classified information. President Trump signed that same bill. Did you break it?
REP. FITZPATRICK: Well, that’s what we have to find out. I mean, no one is claiming and no one should be claiming.–
MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, the receipt says that he had top-secret, classified information in boxes at Mar-a-Lago.
REP. FITZPATRICK: – Correct. Right, yes, no one claims that it’s okay to have a, certainly not me, that it’s okay to have classified information anywhere outside of a SCIF. I know this better than anyone given my previous profession and my current assignment on the committee, but the problem is that much of what is publicly reported is being questioned by the administration. So the affidavit will answer that question. You will be able to tell us who is providing wrong information. Is it the previous administration or the current administration? And we need, we need to clear that up.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, as you know, the news organizations are trying to get that affidavit. But those are not normally published during an active investigation. Is it appropriate to release it now in the middle of an investigation?
REP. FITZPATRICK: Well, that’s… I would say this, Margaret, at least if they don’t want to open it up for public consumption, they can certainly bring it to SCIF, to bring it to the members of the House Intelligence Committee. We, after all, have oversight of the entire intelligence apparatus. That’s what puzzles us, Margaret, myself, Mike Turner, a fabulous member of Congress from Ohio, who is also taking a very measured approach. We understand the dynamics of the game here. We just want to get to the truth. objective truth. We’re not taking any angles from anywhere here.
MARGARET BRENNAN: And I want to get to some of that truth and fact, as we get to know him more on the other side of a breakup. And I also want to talk to you about the threats against law enforcement that we’re seeing, so stay with us. And we’ll continue our conversation in just a few minutes. We’ll be right back.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Welcome back to Face The Nation. We continue our conversation now with former FBI agent, now Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania. Congressman, Breitbart, a conservative website published the names of the FBI agents who went to Mar-a-Lago, and they’re related to that, and now there’s an increase in online threats against them. I want to show you how some leaders of the Republican Party have described the events of this week.
(START OF THE VIDEO CLIP)
ELISE STEFANIK: The FBI raid on President Trump is a complete abuse and overreach of his authority.
STEVE SCALISE: We’re strong supporters of law enforcement, and everyone is worried about seeing some rogue agents and if they see an agency that doesn’t have the right checks and balances at the top.
(END OF VIDEO CLIP)
MARGARET BRENNAN: Is it responsible to refer to these law enforcement officials as rogue?
REP. FITZPATRICk: Yes, I think Margaret, and I have urged all my colleagues to make sure that they understand the weight of her words and understand what we don’t yet know. This is why the probable cause affidavit is so important. And the unfortunate reality, Margaret, I mean, in my few years in Congress, I’ve seen all three branches of government undermined, lead to threats of violence and acts of violence, starting with my baseball teammates being attacked. on the baseball field, threats to Supreme Court justices, threats to law enforcement, both local and during the riots of the summer of 2020. And now to federal law enforcement. All of that is unacceptable.
MARGARET BRENNAN: And now there’s a bulletin warning law enforcement about the level of threat right now. That’s why I want to ask you. Overnight, a series of statements from the 45th president say that “the FBI has a long and unrelenting history of corruption.” He said that “the FBI is a ‘criminal RICO company’ whose covert sources and methods include criminal acts.” His campaign is raising funds from this and he has referred to an army of FBI agents breaking into his house and said he hopes they are not planting evidence. Are you putting a target on the backs of these FBI agents?
REP. FITZPATRICK: I spoke to several of my colleagues in the last few days, Margaret, to make sure they were okay. Every elected official, every leader must take into account the weight of his words. This type of-
MARGARET BRENNAN: –Including the former president of the United States, who has not called for calm.
REP. FITZPATRICK: Right. I think everyone should ask for calm, everyone in all areas. And everyone must respect our law enforcement, whether it’s local, state, or federal. I am very concerned, Margaret, for the safety of our law enforcement officers, especially at this time. I myself have been notified by the office that my life was recently put in danger by some of these same people. And is that violence is never the answer to anything. We live in a democracy that is 246 years old, Margaret. That’s not much. It is only a few generations and yet we are the oldest democracy in the world. And the only way that can fall apart is if we disrespect the institutions that lead Americans to turn against Americans, and the whole system falls apart. And a lot of that starts with the words we’re using. So I urge all my colleagues, and we’ve seen disrespect across the political spectrum, Margaret, which I mentioned with local law enforcement, with the Supreme Court, now with federal law enforcement. None of that is okay. Nothing of that.
MARGARET BRENNAN: If you remove Donald Trump’s name from this court order, do you agree with this raid?
REP. FITZPATRICK: It shouldn’t matter. Nobody is above the law. That is a principle we should all agree with. But everything I say here, Margaret, is an unprecedented action because it will have an impact on other things. For example, for example, many of us are trying very hard to get FISA under Section 702 reauthorized. This is, you know, potentially if this was a guarantee that was excessive, and we don’t know if it was or not. Thanks to Margaret, there are a number of ways to collect evidence, from passively serving a summons with a future production date, to dynamically executing a search warrant, which we looked at here. There are a lot of things you can do in between, including an immediate citation where you file that citation. At the door, you don’t enter the premises, but you demand instant production in there. We don’t know what was appropriate, what was justified or not. And that’s why this affidavit is so important. That will answer all questions. Therefore, I urge all my colleagues not to prejudge what we do not yet know. And I also urge all my colleagues to understand the weight of their words and support law enforcement no matter what.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Thank you very much, Congressman Fitzpatrick.