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Rep. Brad Wenstrup (@RepBradWenstrup)(R-OH) is a doctor, Army Reserve officer, and Iraq War veteran who sits on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.
I had Rep. Wenstrup on the podcast to discuss his views on what he describes as an emerging new cold war with Communist China, and the weaponization and hyper-politicization of our national security and intelligence apparatus.
What We Discussed
- The CCP’s tightening of the noose on Hong Kong
- Whether America should ditch the One-China Policy and recognize Taiwan
- Long-term fiscal dangers as a consequence of the coronavirus
- The railroading of General Flynn and Russiagate/Spygate
- Weaponization and hyper-politicization of the national security and intelligence apparatus, and whether it should be reformed
- The state of the FISA court and FBI
- And much more
The following transcript has been lightly edited for clarity.
I’m Ben Weingarten, and this is Big Ideas with Ben Weingarten, a podcast where we talk with exceptional thinkers and doers about the most important ideas and issues of our time, and all time.
The two greatest challenges facing America today are, on the foreign policy side an ascendant, aggressive, and adversarial Chinese Communist Party that harbors hegemonic ambitions, and on the domestic side, an administrative state-media-academia complex—which is itself is merely a reflection of progressivism’s march through the institutions—with the Deep State as its poison-tipped, leading edge.
Given those challenges, on the heels of Memorial Day, I spoke with a policymaker uniquely positioned to address them, in Congressman Brad Wenstrup, a Republican from Ohio’s 2nd District.
Congressman Wenstrup is a doctor, Army Reserve officer, and Iraq War veteran who sits on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.
He has been particularly outspoken on what he has described as the new cold war with China, generally, and given his background, the role of the World Health Organization, which has served as a proxy for the Chinese Communist Party, in the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.
During our conversation we spoke on these, and many other issues, including the CCP’s tightening of the noose on Hong Kong, whether America should ditch the One-China Policy and recognize Taiwan, the long-term fiscal challenges that will face America as a consequence of the coronavirus, the railroading of General Flynn, the weaponization and hyper-politicization of the national security and intelligence apparatus, and whether it should be reformed, and much more.
This conversation was supported in part by The Fund for American Studies via its Robert Novak Journalism Fellowship program, under the auspices of which I am currently researching and writing a book on U.S.-China policy, and the sea change in it effectuated by the Trump administration. That project is tentatively titled: “Unseen Revolution: The Bold Transformation of America’s China Policy.”
Ben Weingarten: So let’s start with the news of the day, and frankly, the news of the next generation, I believe. What do you make of the recent events in Hong Kong, as China continues to effectively subsume Hong Kong piece by piece ahead of schedule? What should the U.S. be prepared to do?
Rep. Brad Wenstrup: Well, I think we should be prepared to support the people of Hong Kong and the freedoms that they had enjoyed, and the idea that it was supposed to be one country, different system, right. And that’s not what the Chinese are doing. And it doesn’t really matter to the mainland China and to President Xi, they tend to want to drive on regardless. And I think there has to be a global reaction. Because really, at the end of the day, first of all, I think it’s to their detriment, I think having a component of what they consider their country to be basically democratic and have freedoms is to their advantage long-term, but they don’t seem to see it that way. And I think that it’s going to put them in a bad light, once again. Every freedom loving country in the world has some connection to Hong Kong. And so by doing what they are doing, I think it’s going to weigh heavily against them, and open up the eyes of so many people that have been kind to China, when China was taking advantage of so many other people.
Ben Weingarten: Relatedly, and this might be a piece of leverage, potentially, although it’s far more important than leverage, because, in my view…it’s actually ultimately the right thing to do. From the very start of the Trump presidency…President-Elect Trump took a phone call from Taiwan’s leader and the administration has sent congratulations as well, to the current president in Taiwan. Is there any appetite… And I should also add that the Deputy National Security Adviser as well delivered a message in Mandarin to the Taiwanese people. Is there any appetite in Congress to potentially push for the recognition of what I believe is the reality on the ground that Taiwan is an independent, free country, and cease the fantasy of the One-China policy?
Rep. Brad Wenstrup: I think this is an incentive for Americans and members of Congress to consider doing something like that. It’s just time. And going back to when the President took that phone call after he got elected, I turned to my colleagues and said, “He totally wanted that to happen, he totally did it on purpose.” He wanted to make a statement to China. And I think that he did. That may have inspired them to try and go in the direction that they’re going a little bit more, but I think they’re messing with the wrong president on that compared to previous administrations. And I think it’s time that everyone recognized, you know, [chuckle] when I grew up, Ben, my mom would always say, “Hey, you gotta finish everything on your plate, there’s people in China that are starving.” Things have changed in the last 50, 60 years, and treating Chinese and China like they are some third world nation is not where it is and calling out what they are doing, their deceptive practices, is what we have to do, everything involved going from the Coronavirus, to stealing intellectual property, to building up their military basically on our dime, what our trade deficit is like, and you know how the President has addressed that. So we’ve got to do all of that. And we can get into restrictions on sharing academia, stopping Chinese investments in the United States and to American businesses. We’ve got to review our supply chain. And as a military person, if you had told me…As a doctor in the military, if you had told me when I was in Iraq, that my supplies were coming from an adversary, like China, I would have said, “How in the world did we let that happen?” But we have, and so there’s a lot we have to do moving forward. And I think we’re motivated to do it. And it really does seem to have a bipartisan flavor to it at this point.
Ben Weingarten: You’ve been most outspoken, speaking of the Coronavirus, in particular on the World Health Organization’s complicity in propagating China’s narrative to devastating effect. I don’t think it’s at all an overstatement to say that it has literally cost Americans lives and the lives of those of our allies, as well. Congress controls the power of the purse. Why should we fund any entity that is an accomplice to the CCP, or captured by the CCP, the Chinese Communist Party, given they’re clearly using these international organizations as part of leverage is a part of their overall grand strategy?
Rep. Brad Wenstrup: It really is. And let’s just start with the communist attitude. If you’ve ever seen the documentary, it’s very good, on Chernobyl, what happened in the Soviet Union? The takeaway from that is it’s not a lie if it benefits the state, even if it means your own people dying, you’re trying to save face. And that is China, right? I think we’re in a very similar situation. You talk about the World Health Organization. These things sound very nice, and they should be very nice. The World Health Organization should be apolitical, should exist for any partner that wants to join, that is willing to be honest, and wants to benefit humankind. And if you’re there to play politics, if you’re there to cover up your mistakes, or if you’re there to propagandize and say things are better than they are, we don’t need you.
I was on our Board of Health in Cincinnati, Ohio. We didn’t have anything like this, obviously. But we had outbreaks of things and you had to have data, and you had to have accurate data. And we were able to do that. But in this case, you’re relying on other countries. And if that can’t be honest, if that can’t be open, and it’s even if the leadership of the organization is willing to play along, seemingly, with this type of deception, then we need to do it in our own way, in some way. And if this is really to be the humanitarian type of organization, we need to let Taiwan in, and we need to let anyone in that wants to be honest and open so that we can benefit all of mankind and put politics out of it. And if they’re not doing it, I think the president was right to put a pause on things and, and let’s start looking deeper.
Ben Weingarten: There’s been bicameral interest and, I truly hope bipartisan interest in holding China accountable for its culpability in the spread of this pandemic…I’ve called this our generation’s Tiananmen test, because there is blood on the CCP’s hands, quite frankly, and this time it’s Americans, it’s not just pro-democracy protesters in China. So the first step towards accountability is transparency and investigation into the origins of the coronavirus and how it spread and China’s, again, culpability in that. When China ultimately stonewalls…[after] there is some sort of hopefully international push to do that investigation, what’s the next step after China does what it always does?
Rep. Brad Wenstrup: Well, you know what I think about is having a potential positive effect. If you remember the flight over Lockerbie, Scotland, that was able to be pinned down on Libya, I believe that’s how the story went. And ultimately, there were lawsuits and payments made, and that got international worldwide attention as far as revealing the absolute truth. And I may not have every fact on that 100% correct, but you see where I’m going, and that needs to be out there. There needs to be no media spin, it needs to be transparent, and then they need to have some accountability. And boy, there’s a lot of people they need to be accountable to, because basically it’s the entire rest of the world. I wonder if there’s any countries at this point that haven’t had at least one case.
Ben Weingarten: In context of this crisis, the response has been essentially a shutdown of our economy that really seems almost without parallel, and I hasten to say that, but it really is unprecedented in many respects. And as a consequence of effectively turning off our economy, there have been measures that have effectively blown out the deficits and consequently debts that were already too large to begin with. This is different from a typical market downturn in that this was a situation where, under the context of public health, this was done, so the bailouts are far more justifiable than they would be under any other circumstance, really, but the laws of economics say that some day this bill will come due. And the attitude from Congress for decades has been one of sort of kick the can down the road, and it doesn’t really appear necessarily that there is an overwhelming appetite for fiscal sanity. So the question is, is Congress only going to be forced to act after an economic and financial crisis occurs?
Rep. Brad Wenstrup: Well, even before this that’s been a concern of mine. If we don’t address mandatory spending, we’re never gonna get things under control, and there never seems to be an appetite for it, for one reason or another. I’m in the camp where if we address mandatory spending, get rid of waste, clean things up so that we can be solvent as we move forward, and if for some reason we get that done and that means I lose my job, I’m okay with it. Because I wanna know what we’re trying to tell the next generation we’re doing for them, because really it isn’t much. And that appetite should grow.
When we talk about going through these phases, and I think you characterized it really well, Ben, when you said you can justify some of this spending because this came on from a disease, etcetera, etcetera, it’s not just a typical downturn. I would agree with that. We still need to be smart about how we do it. And that’s why you saw the Republicans vote against Nancy Pelosi’s bill last week. But at the same time, what I say that we should be talking about is not a phase four of any type, but a phase one–a phase one of reopening, and a phase one that has something in there that talks about how we’re trying to pay that back, at least what we spent, right now. And how we do business in the future needs to be different. We need to create incentives or at least…Well, there should be an incentive anyway, not necessarily a government incentive through taxes or whatever, but businesses should have the capability or should do the planning for that emergency type of situation. So I look at something like HSAs, for example, and health savings account, where you can put money away pre-tax dollars to pay for healthcare, and we should be doing the same thing if there’s some type of national emergency.
But in the long run, if you look at what the president’s done on trade, we’ve got the opportunity and have had, we’ve greatly increased revenues. It’s the spending that’s the problem. So continue to go with ways that can increase revenues, especially in ways that are so good for the American people, and at the same time we have to deal with countries like China that are taking advantage. A lot of things that we can do…we can withhold U.S. debt payments, delist Chinese companies on our stock exchange. There are a lot of things that are being kicked around and I think we need doing, and I’ve touch on a few of them a couple of times here. But China needs to be held accountable, as we need to be held accountable for our debt, and start to do something about it so that we can tell the next generation we were there for them.
Ben Weingarten: Before we jump back to China—’cause I do wanna dive a little bit deeper on that—one of the things that has really been striking during this Congress is that the nature of House Democrats, and Senate Democrats as well for that matter, has really been laid bare. In particular on the House side, I think of the entire impeachment charade, and sort of the abuses of the subpoena power, and leaking of information and the like. And of course, if President Trump gets a second term, and Democrats retain the House or retake the House two years in, I assume that this…frivolous kind of behavior will continue. Have Republicans thought about what they can do to deter such behavior from Democrats in a second Trump term, understanding that if you are not in the majority it becomes awfully tough to do so?
Rep. Brad Wenstrup: Yeah, well, I would tell you, I would really hope that the voters do that. Because that’s who can do the most good for us is having the voters say, “We have had enough.” We have to keep making the case. Through this whole process, and you know, I sit on the Intelligence Committee, I would have people I’ve known for a while say, “Oh, oh, wait, what’s going on with Devin Nunes?” And I’m like, “Well, I know what TV station you’re watching.” And I would say to them, “Tell me one thing that Devin Nunes has been wrong about? That he’s been proven wrong?” Not one. But I can tell you a lot of things that Adam Schiff has been proven wrong about. And that is what we’re dealing with. I think right now, I believe he’s revving up to try and launch another impeachment investigation in spite of the election even coming up. It’s really bizarre behavior. Now, I only have an undergrad degree in psychology. But Adam Schiff was somebody I trusted when I first got on the Intelligence Committee. But once Donald Trump won, that changed, and it got even worse once they won the majority.
So I hope the American people recognize this, but I would… If we, G-d forbid, that Donald Trump loses, and we haven’t wrapped things up through the Attorney General in righting the wrongs, and letting the American people know all of the things that were done, this was a plot against the president. No other way to put it. If you haven’t studied it, because it’s complicated, you should do it. Because the things that were done are totally wrong.
And I look at some of the things that took place, even some of the minor things, you do that in the military, you’re gone. You know, there is a situation when you’re in the military, when you’re an agency like FBI and DOJ, you serve at the behest of the duly-elected President of the United States. And that’s who Donald Trump is. I’ve had people say to me, “Oh, you’re just there for the president.” I say, “No, I’m just there for the truth.” When I was a kid, I watched Watergate and I was a Republican as a teenager, but I can tell you, I was glad to see Republicans just seeking the truth. And it was a Republican that told Nixon to resign.
I went into this whole thing open-eyed. Donald Trump didn’t do anything. We saw repeated attempts at entrapment, in my opinion, and entrapment of the Trump team, and so much malfeasance. I go back to the military and the rules that you have to abide by there. Apparently, we need a uniform code of bureaucratic justice, because what you’re gonna see from a lot of these people is, “Well, it wasn’t illegal, it’s just not what we’re expected to do, but, well, I guess we shouldn’t have done it.” Well, we’ll see, because in this process, there are definitely crimes that have been committed and we as Republicans on the Intelligence Committee have made criminal referrals to DOJ and those are in the process of being looked at. And frankly, as we’re learning more now, there may be others. There may be others that we put forward.
Ben Weingarten: So, you preempted some of my questions regarding the Intelligence Committee, so let me jump to them. From your perch sitting on HPSCI, how would you assess the statement that the effort to railroad General Flynn has been the linchpin of, and a microcosm of the entire effort around the Russian collusion narrative Russiagate/Spygate?
Rep. Brad Wenstrup: Yeah, and you know what, in the end of the day, there’s a couple little microcosms, I guess, we’ve seen. They’re—not…little, I guess. But if you just take a look at that, here’s a guy who’s gonna be National Security Advisor. And you’ve got people from our intelligence agencies that say, “Hey, we wanna talk to you.” To me, if I’m not suspecting, which I don’t think he was at the time, General Flynn, that is, you say, “Sure, we’re all gonna be working together, right? So yeah, come on over.” And so albeit they told him it’s gonna be a defensive briefing. It was an ambush. They encouraged him not to have a lawyer, you don’t need that, you don’t need it. [Note: Former FBI agent Peter Strzok had proposed approaching Gen. Flynn under the guise of a “defensive briefing”]
Then there’s something called a 302. And a 302 are the handwritten notes of the agents after they have interviewed somebody, which he didn’t even recognize was an interview because he wasn’t told. But they’re doing that. And there’s notes that they write afterwards. Well, isn’t it funny that that note, that 302 is missing? The original copy is gone. But there’s an edited version that came at 10 days or so. So, you have these FBI officials that said, “Hey, there’s nothing here. There’s no intent to lie, drop it.” But no, Peter Strzok, we now know–everyone knows who he is, Peter Strzok-Lisa Page–he said, “No, no, no keep it open, keep it up, we’ll take care of this up at the seventh floor, the upper level.” And so there you have it. And from there, they kept it open, and that interview was to get Flynn, they’ve even said that… Even asked, “Is the purpose of this interview to get Flynn to lie or get him fired?” Well, I would suggest it was both.
And I don’t know how many people you talk to in a day, and sometimes you may just have casual conversations. And unless somebody plays back your entire conversation, it’s pretty hard to remember every single thing you talked about. And I think that that’s what the original agents came away with is like, “Well, he wasn’t lying to us, he just really probably doesn’t remember certain parts of the conversation, so move on.”
It’s been reported that within that conversation, there was nothing that was out of line. So we’re just dealing with a very interesting group of people. James Comey, I one time said to him, “Hey, look, I’ve met the…I gave a talk, and the Iraqi Ambassador was there, he introduced himself and he asked me for a meeting.” I said, “If I take that meeting, am I being investigated?” And he said, “I’m not gonna answer hypotheticals.” And I said, “It’s not hypothetical. He’s asking me for a meeting. Am I going to be investigated?” He said, “I’m not in the business of giving advice.” Those were the answers from James Comey to a member of Congress.
Ben Weingarten: Senator Schumer infamously said that, “If you pursue the Intelligence Community [IC], they’ll go after you six ways from Sunday.” And I think that statement has been proven right during the Trump administration, and pre-Trump administration as well. You noted that with respect to the Attorney General-Durham investigation, that criminal referrals have been sent. Outside of that investigation, is there an appetite in Congress and among your colleagues on HPSCI, for example, for serious reforms of the intelligence community, or do you believe that this is limited to those in the senior ranks, or do you think that there is actually fear of potentially infringing on the IC’s turf that might grip some of your colleagues?
Rep. Brad Wenstrup: Well, next week we’re gonna be voting on FISA reform. That’s the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, right. And it’s not as strong as I would have liked, but I worked on our bill with Congressman Stewart, another member of the Intelligence Committee, and the bill that conjoined with the Senate. I think it’s pretty good. And even in that case, you did see that some Democrats knew something had to be done. I thought…They always claimed to be the party of civil liberties, but they certainly didn’t seem to care about the civil liberties of Carter Page, didn’t seem to care about the civil liberties of George Papadopoulos and, for that matter, General Flynn or the President of the United States, if I might throw Donald Trump in there, as well. So we’re gonna get that done. And that’s a start.
One of my disappointments, in that vein of what you’re talking, is when Christopher Wray took over as the Director of the FBI, I said to my colleague, “He has a great opportunity, he has a great opportunity to clean house.” Because the only way you’re gonna get the trust back in the American people is by cleaning house. And if you have a problem in your business, and you act like it didn’t happen, you’re not winning people over. But if you come in your business and say, “We have an issue in our business, we gotta change what we’re doing, we’re gonna get rid of the bad people,” people will learn to trust you again. That hasn’t been happening, unfortunately. So hopefully we can bring about change, and I hope Christopher Wray gets on board at some point in truly being outspoken on the things that were done that clearly were not consistent with what should be FBI values.
Ben Weingarten: Speaking of FISA and some of the other powers that our national security and intelligence apparatus has, people like myself, who are big China hawks, believe in the imperative to counter the global jihadist movement, and all manner of other nation-state and non-nation state adversaries, see the obvious, immense value in having all the tools that the national security and intelligence apparatus has. On the other hand, we’ve seen the way that they have been weaponized and politicized and used against Americans. So how do you make the case that our national security and intelligence apparatus should retain these powers when we’ve seen them abused in such detrimental ways that undermine the country in a lot of ways, worse than any of our adversaries could ever dream of doing?
Rep. Brad Wenstrup: Well, it’s in part because I know, and I believe you know that there has been a lot of good and a lot of things prevented, terrorist attacks, etcetera, by having certain capabilities. And I’m with you, I’m a defense hawk, and I’m still a member of the Army Reserve, I did a year in Iraq. I understand how our enemies operate and the threats that they are to any American. They really don’t care, they don’t care about your party, they don’t care about your color, they don’t care about your gender, they wanna kill Americans. And so, I understand that from every level, but keep in mind what that court is. It’s the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, not Domestic Intelligence Surveillance Court. And that’s what we have to be clear about and, so as we move forward, apparently we did some oversight here, and we really did some digging on this, much to the dismay of Adam Schiff as we were doing it.
Here’s an amazing thing here. He was on an interview with Chris Wallace, not too long ago, but after the IG report was out talking about all the abuses in the FISA court, and Adam Schiff says, “Well, I’m just finding out about it now. I can’t be expected to know sooner because I’m just finding out now.” That’s totally false. And Chris Wallace didn’t say anything because the fact of the matter is we talked about it in Committee, it was in our report. He denied it in his report. So there you have it, with what’s going on. So those of us that are of like-minded that we need to be able to protect our country need to make sure that we are still providing the oversight, so that this is foreign intelligence and keeping Americans safe, and not something used to go after Americans.
Ben Weingarten: I’d like to circle back to one more point regarding all things…Russian collusion. Fred Fleitz, a long-time CIA official and later Chief of Staff for the Trump National Security Council for a period, recently wrote an article in which he asserted that in his words, House Intelligence staff Committee members told him that, and I’ll quote from the article here, “CIA director Brennan suppressed facts or analysis that showed why it was not in Russia’s interest to support Trump and why Putin stood to benefit from Hillary Clinton’s election. They also told me that Brennan suppressed that intelligence over the objections of CIA analysts. House Intelligence Committee staff told me [Fleitz] that after an exhaustive investigation reviewing intelligence and interviewing intelligence officers, they found that Brennan suppressed high quality intelligence suggesting that Putin actually wanted the more predictable and malleable Clinton to win the 2016 election.” Can you comment on Fleitz’s editorial?
Rep. Brad Wenstrup: Well, I won’t get into, I can’t comment on what someone told him and what he said they told him, but let me just give you my own opinion. Putin doesn’t care. Putin doesn’t care if it’s Trump. He doesn’t care if it’s Clinton. Their goal is to create discord amongst people in the United States of America. And they did it. There was a time I looked over to Democrats, and I said, “You are doing exactly what Putin would want to have happen. Tear us apart.” And that, to me is the bigger picture. Now, was Brennan motivated to make a political statement one way or another? I hope we find out, because I don’t think that Putin really preferred one over the other.
Think about this. If Putin preferred Donald Trump, why would Russian agents work with Christopher Steele to go after Donald Trump? You’re in a country like Russia, a communist nation, where that leader can do whatever he wants to you, basically, have you arrested tomorrow. If you were a Russian agent, trying to take down Donald Trump when he prefers Donald Trump, where do you think they would be today? So, it just doesn’t even make sense. It’s just a narrative that they wanted to put out there. And try to create this scenario, that, this is my opinion now, right, create the scenario that Putin wanted Trump, and Trump’s all in with him, and that’s the intelligence that we have. And to me, that wasn’t the case at all. And I think Putin is laughing at all of this every single day for the last four years.
Ben Weingarten: Lastly, on intelligence matters, and then we’ll conclude going back to China, what can you tell us about your colleague, soon to be former colleague, John Radcliffe? Will he carry on the momentum of Ric Grenell at ODNI?
Rep. Brad Wenstrup: Well, I think he will. I think John is an outstanding individual. He brings great experience. And some people say, well, he’s a lawyer, what does he… What does he know about the intelligence community? Right now, the big problem with the intelligence community is knowing the law. And that’s where he’s gonna shine. But look, he served on intelligence committee with us. He’s well-versed. He knows what it’s all about. This is a very smart guy. And I think he’s gonna seek justice, as he has done through his career in the previous jobs before he was even in Congress. And so, I wish him well, and I think that he’ll do well.
Ben Weingarten: So, concluding on China now, I believe you’ve said that we’re in a cold war with China, and I suspect you mean the Chinese Communist Party in particular. So, what are the ramifications of that? During the prior cold war, there was a whole-of-government, really whole-of-society effort to counter, in a multi-pronged fashion, every element of the Soviet Union’s strategy. Do we need to do the same thing now? And what would that grand strategy look like from your perspective?
Rep. Brad Wenstrup: Yeah, I do. I think it may be a little bit different at the start from, say, the Cold War with the Soviet Union. Because over the last 50, 60 years, we’ve gotten so in bed with the Chinese. There are investments in our country, there are investments in our businesses, all the things that they’re doing, and how they have maneuvered militarily. So, I don’t think it’s something that we can just fix overnight, but we have to start in engaging with it.
The other thing that that’s different now is you have a cyber and information warfare going on. And you can call that cold or hot, but I guess it’s really hot. It’s the hottest component of the cold war with them right now. I think entering into trade deals with them is part of the cold war at this point as well, and probably always has been. And we’ve seen this president use sanctions, we can do restrictions on immigration. There’s a lot of things that can happen here. But we have to start drawing away from them. And if people wanna criticize the president for saying “America First,” well, I think “America first, but not alone.” And I think he may have even said that, we’re, it’s not that we want to just be alone in this world, but we’re going to put our interests first. And we haven’t been doing that.
And actually, I think that there were years of the notion, “Well, if we’re trading enough with them, if we’re good partners with them, they’ll never wanna go to war with us.” Well, I don’t know that they want to go to war, but they still wanna take us over. They have their One Belt One Road initiative, which I like to refer to as “One Belt One Rope.” And it’s not only the United States, but their neighbors in the region. As you probably know, they dangle things out, they go to countries and offer them goods. And then guess what, now that…they’re indebted, and now they’re in. So, there’s a lot of drawing back that he has to do, Australia is a good partner with us on that. And I think we should bring in all the Five Eyes countries, and other allies to start to make this effort to wean away from them.
Ben Weingarten: Lastly, in order to sustain an effort like that, you need bipartisan unity, and in particular, you need it, I would suggest, given that on the Chinese side, Xi is general secretary for life, whereas our members of the House are up every two years, the president is up every four years. You noted that you thought that there were signs of a bipartisan consensus on this. What evidence can you point to that there really is sort of an overwhelming sense that there needs to be comprehensive pushback and countering of the Chinese Communist Party in Congress?
Rep. Brad Wenstrup: Well, I think you’ve seen some of the actions taken, like with CFIUS. And the narrative has changed in Congress, just day-to-day conversation. I can tell you, a year-and-a-half ago, almost two years ago, my last opponent in a debate. They say, “What is the biggest number one threat?” Oh, he said, “Russia.” The Democrat’s saying Russia, right. Well, that was the narrative, “Russia, Russia, Russia.” And I said, “No, it’s China.” And now I think that you’ll have more Democrats saying that than you had two years ago, they’re seeing that the real threat…
And when you get away from the impeachment and all that type of stuff in committee, when you’re dealing with official business, and trade, and things like that, then the more serious conversation sometimes takes place. And it seems to be pretty well-recognized that China is a greater threat. And we’re seeing the types of things that they’re capable of doing. And I hear people on both sides of the aisle concerned about the Confucius Institutes, the people in our academic environment. And that’s the other thing too, if you look at our colleges, they’re typically colleges run on a liberal slant. And liberals are starting to realize that foreigners are in there stealing our property, and taking advantage of us. And that’s a concern, because it’s not like they want it to make the world better. They want it to make themselves stronger and dominate the world.
Ben Weingarten: Congressman Wenstrup, thanks so much for taking the time to speak with us today.
Rep. Brad Wenstrup: Yeah, my pleasure. You have a good one. Have a good Memorial Day weekend and remember all those that have given so much for us.
Ben Weingarten: Really appreciate that and appreciate your service as well. Thank you so much.
Rep. Brad Wenstrup: Thank you.