"Fiery Debate: Wisconsin Republican and Illinois Democrat Clash on 'Face the Nation'!"

The following is a transcript of an interview with Rep. Mike Gallagher, Republican of Wisconsin, and Raja Krishnamoorthi, Democrat of Illinois, that aired on Nov. 19, 2023.

"Fiery Debate: Wisconsin Republican and Illinois Democrat Clash on 'Face the Nation'!"
19 Nov 2023, 08:35 PM
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Interview Transcript

The following is a transcript of an interview with Rep. Mike Gallagher, Republican of Wisconsin, and Raja Krishnamoorthi, Democrat of Illinois, that aired on Nov. 19, 2023.

MARGARET BRENNAN: We go now to the Chairman and Ranking Member of the House Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party, Republican Mike Gallagher and Democrat Raja Krishnamoorthi. Good morning to you both gentlemen. We like bipartisan conversations on this program. So welcome back.

REP. RAJA KRISHNAMOORTHI: Good morning, thank you.

REP. MIKE GALLAGHER: Good to be here.

MARGARET BRENNAN: I want to put it to you both then, can you work together to pass this, what $4 billion, President Biden is asking for for Taiwan and Asian allies before the end of the year? Congressman Gallagher, Republicans are in control, so I'll go to you first.

During a recent interview, Congressman Krishnamoorthi expressed confidence that a crucial funding bill will pass before the end of 2023. He emphasized the importance of this funding not only for Taiwan, but also for Ukraine, Israel, and other priorities. According to a recent survey, a majority of voters believe that a war is possible in the next 10 years, and both Democrats and Republicans are concerned about it. To prevent war, Congressman Krishnamoorthi believes it is essential to deter aggression by equipping Taiwan with the necessary resources, while also engaging in diplomatic efforts with the highest levels of the Chinese Communist Party.

By Margaret Brennan

Congressman Gallagher is calling for a subpoena of the main sponsors of a dinner attended by Chinese President Xi Jinping and some of the biggest CEOs in the United States. The dinner, which was reported in Bloomberg, included CEOs from companies such as Blackstone, KKR, Pfizer, Boeing, FedEx, Apple, and BlackRock. Congressman Gallagher wants to know the names of everyone who bought tickets to the event and what their intentions were in attending.

REP. GALLAGHER: I'll comment broadly on the dinner, which I thought was disgusting- well, Bloomberg got it wrong, in this case. $40,000 to eat coffee-rub flank steak and sip Cakebread Sauvignon Blanc with Xi Jinping and what's worse than that is the fact that they gave him a standing ovation. This a communist dictator, who has committed a genocide in Xinjiang, who is committing a cultural genocide in Tibet, who has completely destroyed civil society in Hong Kong, who's risking as we just talked about provoking world war three, to give him a standing ovation. And what's even worse than that is it wasn't just the people you'd expect, like Tim Cook from Apple or BlackRock, it was American defense contractors. All the more reason why Congress, I think, needs to step up to cut off the flow of U.S. capital to Chinese military companies to specify the appropriate level of de-risking or diversification so we have a healthier economic relationship, to modernize our military, because corporate America and Wall Street have proven time and again, they're willing to sell out American interests in order to make money in China.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But the two economies are so incredibly intertwined. 

REP. GALLAGHER: Absolutely.

MARGARET BRENNAN: I mean, the very fact that Rahm Emanuel, the President's ambassador to Japan said, "literally have their R&D, their intellectual property, stolen from them," and they gave Xi Jinping a standing ovation. Doesn't just tell you that China's great- greatest leverage here is financial and the reality is that it's not going to be unwound?


REP. GALLAGHER: Well, it has to be unwound at least in part. I'm not arguing for a total decoupling- go head Raja, sorry.

REP. KRISHNAMOORTHI: I personally think it has to be.


Representative Krishnamoorthi expressed his optimism about companies in the private sector taking action to reduce their exposure in China, even without any government intervention. He mentioned a dinner that left a negative impression on him, suggesting that people paid for access rather than the food itself. He also hoped that concerns about China's economic aggression and human rights abuses were discussed during the dinner. On the select committee, he expressed his willingness to work with Mike and the Biden administration to reduce investments in China that support the PLA's military modernization and human rights violations. He mentioned the recent decision by the Federal Thrift Savings Plan to remove investments in such entities. Krishnamoorthi believes that the committee's work is making a difference.

Margaret Brennan asked Congressman Gallagher and Krishnamoorthi about their thoughts on what was achieved at the summit, considering that expectations were low. She mentioned that the goals were to establish military-to-military communication and to encourage China to enforce policies against the flow of fentanyl precursor chemicals. Brennan inquired if they considered the summit a success simply because the two leaders met face-to-face.

Representative Gallagher expressed his cautious optimism about the establishment of a crisis communication channel between the United States and China. He believes that this channel can help reduce the risk of miscommunication that could potentially lead to war. However, he remains skeptical about the fentanyl agreement, as he feels that similar agreements in the past have not been successful. Nonetheless, he welcomes any efforts to address the devastating effects of fentanyl in America.

His broader concern is that summits like this often result in the United States paying upfront, while China's commitments are not always fulfilled. He emphasizes the importance of investing in the United States' own hard power posture in the Indo-Pacific region. According to Gallagher, both Republican and Democratic administrations have failed to implement a deterrence by denial posture in the Pacific.

Congressman Krishnamoorthi, on the other hand, views the summit as promising. He sees the agreement on cooperation regarding fentanyl as a positive first step. He also appreciates the establishment of military-to-military communication channels and the potential increase in commercial flights between the two countries. However, he would have liked to see more discussion on human rights abuses in China, particularly the crackdown on Uyghurs, Tibetans, and dissidents. Despite the low expectations for the summit, Krishnamoorthi believes that it has met and even exceeded those expectations.

MARGARET BRENNAN: During the interview, Xi's comments on the pandas were not a firm commitment to returning them. However, Congressman, I understand that your committee has subpoenaed information regarding an illegal bio lab in California. Can you share what you have discovered and what message you have for the administration?

REP. GALLAGHER: Local officials in Reedley uncovered an illegal bio lab that contained transgenic mice, dangerous pathogens such as Ebola and HIV, and various equipment. When they reached out to the CDC and the FBI for investigation, they were refused assistance. In fact, the CDC even hung up on them in some instances. We also found out that the owner of the bio lab, Jesse Zhu, was a fugitive who was in the country illegally. He was evading a $330 million judgment against him and was receiving unexplained wire transfers totaling $2 million from China. It is clear that we lack sufficient measures to prevent such incidents. Some of these dangerous materials can be purchased illegally online, so we need to strengthen the defense of our bio labs to prevent a recurrence. Additionally, we must support local officials instead of dismissing their calls for help.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Thank you both for your time today. Unfortunately, we have run out of time. Stay tuned for more after the break.