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Rep. David Schweikert On Political Speech And Violence


Our next guest is Congressman Dave Schweikert in our studios once again. He's a Republican from Arizona. Congressman, thanks for coming by this morning.

DAVE SCHWEIKERT: Oh, happy to.

INSKEEP: Got your cup of coffee, ready to talk here.

SCHWEIKERT: Yeah, the coffee problem.

INSKEEP: So a lot of information is in public already about the president, about his actions, the very things that Robert Mueller is said to be investigating. And I think that allows a question here to you. Is it fair based on the public information of a special counsel to at least be asking about the possibility of obstruction of justice here?

SCHWEIKERT: Look. We're not an environment where fair, I think, is the standard. If a file has been opened and questions are going to be asked, fine. And it's probably actually healthy because if you actually look at the layers of conspiracy theories and things that might or might not have happened or who talked to who, this may be one of those occasions we're going to have to go through several months of sort of the news cycle and discomfort to finally figure out saying OK, this was just ill-used language.

This is absolutely innocent or here's something that's been wrong. But there's so much noise and information and misinformation and misunderstanding. We're almost at that stage where - just look at it. Let's get through this. And let us get back to...

INSKEEP: I'm hearing you welcoming Robert Mueller looking into this.

SCHWEIKERT: Yeah. And I know that's sort of odd coming from sort of a conservative libertarian, but I'm at the point where, you know, we also have to be real careful from the standpoint we have a president that's not from the political class. The learning of the disciplined use of language and what certain words mean in our context. If you're not from this world, you may not have developed that discipline. But understand, sometimes...

INSKEEP: Although he's got an entire staff. He's got scores of lawyers. He's got people who could advise him on the law and on procedures if he wanted to listen to those things.

SCHWEIKERT: Oh, very much so. But sometimes when you're - just as we were just hearing - saying tell the world I'm not the subject of the investigation, well, the very fact of asking you to tell the world may be a violation of - because you asked them to tell the world. I mean, think about that circle.

INSKEEP: So in Adam's, reporting he mentioned that one possibility here, one plausibility is the special counsel finds something. It looks like a criminal violation. They don't do an indictment like they would of an ordinary person. They hand it over to Congress.

You know there are a lot of doubts in the country, at least among people on the left side, as to whether a Republican Congress could fairly judge the situation. If you get this in your lap as a member of the House of Representatives, do you believe the House of Representatives could make a judgment of the president based on the facts rather than politics?

SCHWEIKERT: Absolutely. I mean, and I think you've seen that over and over again. Even go back to - recount the replacement of the ACA.

INSKEEP: The Affordable Care Act.

SCHWEIKERT: Yeah. It was judged on policy and math, not on lobbying from the White House or other groups.

INSKEEP: Although with the second version of that bill, you didn't wait for the math. The Congressional Budget Office hadn't even weighed in.

SCHWEIKERT: Well, actually - yeah, you know, I disagree with that because the fact of the matter, you had the actuary reports and those.

INSKEEP: There was information. People had...

SCHWEIKERT: So all you had to do was add the two together.

INSKEEP: OK, fair enough. Fair enough. Let me ask about yesterday's shooting involving a number of your colleagues...


INSKEEP: ...At a baseball diamond outside of Alexandria, Va. Steve Scalise, the House majority whip, seriously wounded, recovering now. What did you think about as you learned of yesterday's shooting?

SCHWEIKERT: And it was a practice I should have been at. It's...

INSKEEP: You're part of a team?

SCHWEIKERT: I used to pitch as a young man.

INSKEEP: You're a lagging member of the team.

SCHWEIKERT: Yeah. Well, it's...

INSKEEP: OK, go on. Sorry.

SCHWEIKERT: ...The practices are at 6 a.m. And I'm from Arizona, and so I was - I slept in. I made a mistake.

INSKEEP: Understand, time difference.

SCHWEIKERT: And you turn on the television. And all of a sudden, this incredible sinking feeling in your heart, particularly - and it's one of those things that's only recently, I think, particularly Republican members been talking about is the aggressiveness - the ocean of sort of vile sort of hate that has come running into our social media, into our mailboxes and taped to our doors and even mailed to home. And...

INSKEEP: You mean you as a member of Congress.

SCHWEIKERT: And to think of what happened on that ballfield to people you had just been with the evening before and then also an understanding of how bad it would have been if a member of leadership wasn't there.

INSKEEP: Oh, because his security detail was there to fire back.

SCHWEIKERT: Yeah. You know, we get together often. And if there's not a member of leadership, you - you're there without security. And a lot of the press and others I don't think understand. I mean, you know, in Arizona, I'm blessed to represent one of the most amazing communities, yet we have bins where they they're even going at my little girl.

INSKEEP: You've received messages referring to your daughter?

SCHWEIKERT: Yeah. And it just shows you there's something that's become toxic in the souls out there.

INSKEEP: Congressman Schweikert, thanks for coming by. Really appreciate it. Always a pleasure to see you. Dave Schweikert is Republican representative from Arizona on this morning after a shooting that targeted a number - appeared to target a number of members of a Republican baseball team on a baseball diamond in Alexandria, Va.

(SOUNDBITE OF BERRY WEIGHT'S "YETI'S LAMENT") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.