The following is a transcript of an interview with GOP Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania that aired Sunday, Aug. 14, 2022, on “Face the Nation.”
MARGARET BRENNAN: We go now to Pennsylvania Republican Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick. He’s a former FBI agent and federal prosecutor and joins us from Philadelphia. Congressman, good morning to you. I wonder as a former agent, you’ve seen the warrant now, as we all have. What does it indicate to you about a potential 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 supported by unprecedented justification. Part A was an unprecedented action. Yes, we know that. This has never happened before in our country’s history. To the second question, was there unprecedented justification? That remains an open question, and we know exactly where to look. And that is the affidavit of probable cause, the one document that remains under seal. So because we don’t have that information, I’ve encouraged all my colleagues on the left and the right to reserve judgment and not get ahead of yourself because we don’t know what that document contains. It’s gonna to answer a lot of questions. When we had the press conference on Friday with my fellow intelligence committee members, I telegraphed to the press. Then I said, the documents that you’ll see unsealed today, which was the affi-, I’m sorry, the- the warrant, the writer to the warrant and the property receipt, are not going to shed a whole lot of 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 into law. Did he break it?
REP. FITZPATRICK: Well, that’s what we got to find out. I mean, nobody is claiming and nobody should be claiming.–
MARGARET BRENNAN: –Well, the receipt says that he had classified and top secret and above information in boxes at Mar-a-Lago.
REP. FITZPATRICK: – Right. Right, yeah, Nobody’s claiming that it’s okay to have a, certainly I’m not, that it’s okay to have classified information anywhere outside of a SCIF. I know that better than anybody given my former profession and my current committee assignment, but the problem is that the administration is disputing a lot of what’s being publicly reported. So the affidavit will answer that question. It will be able to tell us who is providing misinformation. Is it the- the admi- the prior administration or the current administration? And we need to we need to get that clarified.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, as you know, news organizations are trying to get a hold of that affidavit. But those aren’t normally released during an active investigation. Is it appropriate to release it now in the midst of an investigation?
REP. FITZPATRICK: Well, that’s- I would say this, Margaret, at the very least, if they don’t want to unseal it for public consumption, they can certainly bring it into the SCIF, to bring it to our House Intelligence Committee members. We, after all, do have oversight over the entire intelligence apparatus. So that’s what’s puzzling to us, Margaret, myself, Mike Turner, fabulous member of Congress from Ohio, who’s taking a very measured approach as well. We understand the dynamics of play here. We just want to get to the truth. Objective truth. We’re not taking any angle from any side here.
MARGARET BRENNAN: And I want to get to some of that truth and fact, as we know it more on the other side of a break. And I also want to talk to you about the threats against law enforcement that we are seeing, so please 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 are related to that, and there are now a spike in online threats against them. I want to play for you how some Republican Party leaders have described events of this week.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ELISE STEFANIK: The FBI raid of President Trump is a complete abuse and overreach of its authority.
STEVE SCALISE: We’re very strong supporters of law enforcement, and it concerns everybody if you see some agents go rogue and if you see an agency that doesn’t have the right checks and balances at the top.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MARGARET BRENNAN: Is that responsible to refer to these law enforcement officials as going rogue?
REP. FITZPATRICk: Yeah, I think Margaret, and I’ve urged all my colleagues to make sure they understand the weight of their words and understanding what we don’t know yet. That’s why that probable-cause affidavit is so important. And the unfortunate reality, Margaret, I mean, in my few short years in Congress, I’ve seen undermining of all three branches of government, lead to threats of violence and acts of violence, starting with the attack on my fellow baseball team members on the baseball field, to threats to Supreme Court justices, to threats to law enforcement, both local and during the unrest in the summer of 2020. And now to federal law enforcement. All of it’s unacceptable.
MARGARET BRENNAN: And now there’s a bulletin warning law enforcement of the level of threat right now. That’s why I want to ask you. Overnight, a series of statements from the 45th president saying “the FBI has a long and unrelenting history of being corrupt.” He said “the FBI’s a ‘criminal RICO enterprise’ whose cover sources and methods include criminal acts.” His campaign is fundraising off of this and has referred to an army of agents from the FBI breaking into his home and said that he hopes they’re not planting evidence. Is he putting a target on the back of these FBI agents?
REP. FITZPATRICK: I checked in with several of my colleagues in the past few days, Margaret, to make sure they were okay. Every single elected official, every single leader needs to mind the weight of their words. This kind of–
MARGARET BRENNAN: –Including the former president of the United States, who has not called for calm.
REP. FITZPATRICK: Correct. I think everybody needs to be calling for calm, everybody across the board. And everybody needs to respect our law enforcement, whether they be local, state or federal. I’m very concerned, Margaret, for the safety of our law enforcement officers, especially right now. I, myself, have been notified by the bureau that my life was put in danger recently by some of these same people. And it’s- violence is never the answer to anything. We live in a democracy that’s 246 years old, Margaret. That’s not long. That’s just a few generations, and yet, we’re the world’s oldest democracy. And the only way that can come unraveled, is if we have disrespect for institutions that lead to Americans turning on Americans, and the whole system becomes unraveled. 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- across the political spectrum, Margaret, which I mentioned with local law enforcement, with the Supreme Court, now federal law enforcement. None of it is okay. None of it.
MARGARET BRENNAN: If you take the name Donald Trump off of this warrant, are you okay with this raid?
REP. FITZPATRICK: It shouldn’t matter. No one is above the law. That’s a principle that all of us should agree to. But all I’m saying here, Margaret, is an unprecedented action because this will have an impact on other things. For example- for example, a lot of us are trying very hardly to get FISA in Section 702 reauthorized. This is, you know, potentially if this were warrant that was excessive, and we don’t know whether it was or not. Because Margaret, there’s a continuum of ways to gather evidence, everything from the passive service of a subpoena with a future production date, to the dynamic execution of a search warrant, which we saw here. There’s a lot of things you can do in between, including a forthwith subpoena where you present that subpoena. At the door, you don’t enter the premises, but you demand instant production then 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 the questions. So, I’m urging all my colleagues don’t prejudge what we don’t know about yet. And I’m also urging all my colleagues to understand the weight of your words and support law enforcement no matter what.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Thank you very much, Congressman Fitzpatrick.