FULL EPISODE: 6/6/21 Sen. Lindsey Graham and Sen. Debbie Stabenow talk Israel, cyber hacks, and infrastructure

Published: Jun. 5, 2021 at 11:01 PM EDT
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Washington, D.C. – Greta Van Susteren interviewed Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) for Gray Television’s “Full Court Press with Greta Van Susteren” airing Sunday, June 6, 2021.

Sen. Graham, who recently returned from a trip to Israel, told Van Susteren: “Don’t count Bibi out” in response to the “unusual coalition” attempting to remove Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from power.

On an Iran nuclear deal, Graham said: “I can’t tell you how serious this is. Can you imagine a Mideast where everybody’s got a nuclear weapon? That’s where we’re headed.” When asked what he’d like to see come out of a Biden/Putin meeting, Graham answered: “I want Putin to walk away respecting Biden and being somewhat afraid of him ... Right now, he’s publicly humiliated President Biden.” And on infrastructure legislation, Graham said: “There’s a bunch of Republicans like me that would do an infrastructure bill around a trillion dollars. This is a layup if he wants it. So if we don’t have one by the end of the summer, it’s because President Biden gave in to the left.”

When asked whether she was nervous about recent cyberattacks directed at the U.S., Sen. Stabenow answered: “No question about it … we need to be dead serious about this.” On the upcoming Biden/Putin meeting, she suggested that President Biden say to Putin: “America’s back … we’re not going to be bamboozled by Russia.” On Dr. Fauci’s emails and whether there needs to be an investigation into the origins of the coronavirus pandemic, Stabenow said: “We do need a deeper dive. He [Dr. Fauci] certainly said that, others have said that. I think it’s really important that we are finding out exactly what happened.”

Graham and Stabenow interview excerpts are below.

Sen. Lindsey Graham Excerpts

On Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel, and Iran

Greta Van Susteren

Prime Minister Netanyahu … may not be prime minister much longer and there’s a rather unusual coalition that has sought to form a government which will remove him. Your thoughts about this?

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC)

Well, it is a very unusual coalition. Don’t count Bibi out, but I’ll leave it to the Israeli people to decide what government they want and how to form a government. But the one thing I heard from the right, left and middle in Israel is a real concern about the Iranian nuclear agreement. No matter what party you talk to, they’re all against the idea of allowing the Iranians to enrich longer and stronger. It doesn’t seem to be being accepted by the Israelis with good reason.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC)

I think president Biden’s obsession with getting back into the Iran nuclear agreement is creating two problems. He’s going to create a nuclear arms race between the Arabs and the Iranians because anything you give the Iranians in terms of enriching uranium, the Arabs are going to want and you’re going to have a nuclear arms race on your hand. Secondly, you’re putting Israel in a box. I don’t think the Israelis trust the Iranians and you’re putting them on a collision course with Iran, so there’s a better alternative than the current JCPOA and I hope the Biden administration will slow down.

Greta Van Susteren

When you were in Israel, did you speak with Naftali Bennett? Did you get a chance to meet him and can you give us a little bit of an idea of who he is because he will be the next prime minister?

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC)

No, I didn’t get to speak with him. I spoke with his chief of staff. I spoke to Lapid who’s got the largest block outside of Likud and yeah, this coalition would have Bennett as the prime minister. He’s very hawkish on foreign policies, probably to the right of Bibi on settlements and issues like that, but it’s a very unusual coalition. You have Arabs, they’re going to vote with the government for the first time ever. Israel is a vibrant democracy. Again, don’t count Bibi out, but the one thing I can say for sure is that when it comes to the Iran nuclear agreement, all parties, almost universally in Israel, are against the idea of allowing the Iranians to enrich and I hope they will speak up.

On an Iran nuclear agreement

Greta Van Susteren

All right, well, you’ve got president Biden who wants some form of agreement with Iran and you and Senator Menendez, a Democrat, have come up with another way, the creation of a regional nuclear fuel bank. What is this and why is that a better alternative to getting in the nuclear agreement with Iran or staying out of it?

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC)

I’d like a diplomatic solution to this problem. The Iranians claim they want peaceful nuclear power. Well, they can have it. I don’t mind them having nuclear power plants, but making the fuel, enriching uranium to make their own fuel, I don’t like because it’s very easy to go from commercial-grade fuel manufacturing to a bomb material. You can do it in a matter of months. The French, I think, originally proposed the following. We will guarantee you an international fuel bank supply of spent fuel rods, you can have all the nuclear power you want, but you can’t enrich. The Iranians said no and the Obama administration gave in. I think the Arabs and Israelis would support such a deal.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC)

The Arabs also are seeking nuclear power. I don’t mind the Arabs having nuclear powers. Good for the environment, nuclear power is a clean form of energy, but I believe the Arabs would go along with the idea of what I propose to Senator Menendez. You can all have nuclear power. We’ll just have an international fuel bank. Nobody has to enrich. And I guarantee you the Iranians will say no because they want a bomb, but I’d like to test them.

Greta Van Susteren

All right, well, Iran has not shown, at least so far, any indications it’s interested in this. Is the Biden administration, though, interested in trying this proposal of a creation of a regional nuclear fuel bank?

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC)

I’ve talked with them, I don’t know. I can only tell you this: We’re talking about Iran with nuclear weapons thousands of miles away. Well, the Arabs are the neighbors of the Iranians and Israel is well within the crosshairs of the current missile program that Iran has developed. I would find it odd for the West, the United States, and Europe not to at least try to get a deal that would bring the region together.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC)

I can’t tell you how serious this is. Can you imagine a Mideast where everybody’s got a nuclear weapon? That’s where we’re headed. The Arabs are not going to allow the Iranians to enrich uranium without countering what they’re doing and you’re well on your way to a nuclear arms race. That can all be avoided if the Biden administration will change course.

On cyberterrorism and Russia

Greta Van Susteren

Let me turn to ransomware. We have been hit, the Colonial Pipeline was hit. We’ve had a meatpacking company hit. We’ve had even a small ferry into some islands off Massachusetts and those are the ones we know about. How concerned are you about our infrastructure and cyberwarfare?

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC)

Our critical infrastructure is very exposed and we need to harden it but more than anything else, we need to go on offense. You can only play defense so long. It’s time for the Russians to pay a price here because none of this would happen without their looking the other way or actively encouraging it.

Greta Van Susteren

Do you actually think that Putin is involved in this or is it nod and a wink because at least the latest hackers live in Russia, at least we’re told that. There’s been no indication it was actually ordered by Putin or Putin’s government, but do you think it was?

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC)

I don’t think he said and told them to hack into the old pipeline. I think these people live in Russia with impunity. They’re tied to the Russian intelligence services. They’re an extension of the Russian government. They’re one-off. They’re, to me, cyberterrorists living within Russia, attacking our interests. What would the response be if there was a terrorist organization living in a country, actively attacking America? Would we be going after that country to help us? That’s exactly what’s happening. Cyberterrorism is emanating from Russia and we’re not doing a damn thing about it and that needs to change.

On President Biden and Vladimir Putin

Greta Van Susteren

June 16th may be an opportunity to have that discussion. President Biden meets in Switzerland with President Putin. What topics do you want him to bring up with president Putin and what do you think he will discuss with him?

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC)

I think this should be one of the topics, what to do in Syria, what to do in Libya, how to control the Iran nuclear program. There’s so many things that we should have common interest on, but the main thing about the meeting for me is I want Putin to walk away respecting Biden and being somewhat afraid of him.

Greta Van Susteren

Will he walk away? Do you expect that?

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC)

I don’t know. Right now, he’s publicly humiliated President Biden. When Biden called him a killer, I think Putin said, “Well, the next time we talk, it’ll be on live TV toe to toe,” indicating he didn’t think Biden was up to the job. So the meeting is going to go forward, which is fine with me. I don’t mind meeting with our adversaries, but my big fear is that Biden will not talk about the right things in the right way. When Trump met Putin in Finland, I thought it was a disaster for Trump and I hope the same thing doesn’t happen with Biden.

On infrastructure legislation

Greta Van Susteren

Look into your crystal ball: Will there be an infrastructure bill passed by the end of the summer or not?

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC)

There should be and if Biden can’t pull this off, he’s not trying because there’s a bunch of Republicans like me that would do an infrastructure bill around a trillion dollars. This is a layup if he wants it. So if we don’t have one by the end of the summer, it’s because President Biden gave in to the left who wants to do more without any Republican involvement through reconciliation. I hope President Biden will pull this off and we’ll have a deal by the end of the summer. It’s there for the taking if he wants it.

Greta Van Susteren

You’ve worked with him. Can you call him up and talk to him?

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC)

Yeah, I’ve always liked Joe Biden. He’s had a reputation for being a dealmaker. I don’t know where that guy’s at. I haven’t talked to him since he’s been president. That’s fine. The bottom line is, if we don’t have an infrastructure bill, it will be because he chose not to have one. Three political parties willing to work with him on this and I think the same thing for police reform.

Sen. Debbie Stabenow Highlights

On cyberterrorism

Greta Van Susteren

Do you feel nervous about the ransomware, these hackers, these attacks on our infrastructure or on these companies?

Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.)

No question about it. And it also shows us the weaknesses, for instance, in our food supply chain. JBS is the largest meatpacking processing plant in the United States. And one of the things that says to me as the chair of the Agriculture Nutrition and Forestry Committee is that we need to be supporting small and medium-sized meatpacking operations so we have more resiliency in the supply chain. But I know this is something President Biden is laser-focused on. He’s going to be bringing this up with Putin later in the month, and we need to be dead serious about this.

Greta Van Susteren

When he meets with President Putin on June 16th in Switzerland, what do you want him to say to Putin and what do you expect Putin to say?

Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.)

Well, I think the most important thing is what President Biden should say and I know will say, which is America’s back. We’re not going to be bamboozled by Russia. We’re very serious in pushing back to protect our national security interests, to protect our people and to deal with these cyber attacks.

Greta Van Susteren

I imagine, though, he’s going to sort of loop back and say, “Look, the hackers may live in Russia, but this is not state-sponsored. This is not Russia that’s actually doing this.” And is there anything we truly can do to protect ourselves?

Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.)

Well, this is about working with our own businesses on communications and accountability, and really ramping up what we do on our end in terms of security. And then it’s also about doing everything we can, pushing back on Russia or anyone else.

On Dr. Fauci emails and coronavirus origin

Greta Van Susteren

There’s been some headlines recently about Dr. Fauci and his emails and the origin of the coronavirus, whether it came from the wet market, whether it came from the Wuhan lab. And if it came from the lab, was it accidental? Was it intentional? Was it negligence? Should we have a deeper investigation into this and what’s your thought about Dr. Fauci’s emails?

Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.)

Well, first of all, I’m so grateful for Dr. Fauci and that even when it was when it was very, very difficult for him that he hung in there on behalf of all of us to be able to work hard to keep us all safe. We do need a deeper dive. He certainly said that, others have said that. I think it’s really important that we are finding out exactly what happened.

Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.)

I will also tell you that we also need to find out what was behind January 6th and the attack on the Capitol and the insurrection and the attack on our democracy. So when it comes to doing a deeper dive, I’d certainly think we shouldn’t be afraid of finding out the facts.

On the Jan 6th Commission

Greta Van Susteren

Well, in terms of the January 6th commission, answer this one, because I don’t understand this. I mean, the Democrats and Republicans say they want a bipartisan committee, and there may be some sort of differences in terms of who’s on the committee, who’s not on the committee. But we already have so many committees. You could have the House Judiciary Committee which has the incredible job of whether to impeach presidents or not. Why can’t they do the investigation? We’re already paying for them. They can get subpoena power, they’re bipartisan. And the Democrats are calling for the investigation. They are the majority. So why not do it that way?

Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.)

We do know with the 9/11 commission, what happened was stepping back, and a separate commission by the way that everyone supported. And when you say that Republicans are saying they want a bipartisan commission, that’s actually not what I’m hearing at all. I mean, Senator McConnell has basically said, “We’ve studied enough. We know what happened and that’s enough.” And I don’t think when you’ve had an attack on our country-

Greta Van Susteren

But … we have the Department of Justice looking into whether there’s criminal activity. We’ve already had a lot of arrests. We’ve had indictments. I mean, there is... And it’s the Biden Justice Department that’s doing the investigation. So these are being thoroughly investigated. So it’s not as though this is just being swept under a rug.

Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.)

No. I mean, I agree. Although I really do think that Senator McConnell would love it swept under the rug. But no, it’s not being swept under the rug. But the reality is that with something this serious, you’re talking about this kind of an attack on the Capitol hasn’t happened in over 100 years. This was an attack to stop the Democratic election in the United States of America. And we had seven deaths plus others now since then.

Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.)

I mean, finding out information that will help us going forward about extremists in our country that want to do harm to police officers or elected officials or citizens in their communities is something that’s our responsibility to do.

On infrastructure legislation

Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.)

Of course, it’s roads and bridges and dams. It’s also replacing all of the lead water pipes across the country which is absolutely critical. And everybody would agree it’s high-speed internet. I mean, look what happened. And we’ve got a million households in Michigan that don’t have access

Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.)

I really appreciate the president as well, understanding that we need to focus on a family’s infrastructure. Whether it’s home care, community care. Or if you’re a working mom and dad, and I’ll just speak as a working mom, childcare is part of your infrastructure, your personal infrastructure. And so addressing not only those hard assets, but the things that allow families to be successful, particularly coming out of COVID I think is really important to do.

On Vice President Harris’ trip to Central America

Greta Van Susteren

Vice President Harris is beginning a trip to Central America. She’s going to go to Guatemala for instance, and speak to the president there. What would you expect her to be able to reasonably achieve with this? And what do you want her to tell these countries?

Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.)

Well, first of all, we need to, as she will do and as a former President Obama did in setting up the capacity for people to be able to get support back in their own country, asking for a refugee status rather than coming all the way to our borders or the other efforts to support increasing quality of life and better conditions, stopping violence. We know there’s a whole range of things that are happening right now.

Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.)

I’m sure the vice president will be talking to them about what they should be doing, what we can do to support them to be able to create a better quality of life for their people in their own countries to stop the violence, to do the other things that are necessary for people to be in a situation where they don’t feel that they have to flee to protect their children.

On the Make It in America Act

Greta Van Susteren

I know that you have a new bill, Make It in America Act. And it’s related to, for instance, some of our problems, like we have a semiconductor shortage in this country. How did we get to the point where we have that shortage? How do we become so vulnerable?

Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.)

Right now, we saw under COVID when our auto plants had to shut down that the supply chain broke in terms of what we call semiconductors. All of these electronic chips that connect all the electronics in our vehicle. And we were overly dependent, particularly on one company in Taiwan. And so on the floor of the United States Senate is an effort to put investments into R and D and building these fabrication facilities in the United States and making sure that manufacturing is part of that. And also my Make It in America, built to strengthen Americans so that when we are doing these things and investing in American supply chain and products, then the federal government is using our tax dollars to buy those products.

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About Greta Van Susteren:

Greta Van Susteren is the Chief Political Analyst for Gray Media and host of Full Court Press. Ms. Van Susteren is a veteran of Fox News Channel, MSNBC, and CNN. Her prime-time Fox News Channel Show, “On the Record,” was number 1 in its time slot for 14 1⁄2 years. Before joining Fox News, she hosted CNN’s prime-time news and analysis program, “The Point with Greta Van Susteren,” and co-hosted the network’s daily legal analysis show, “Burden of Proof.” Her legal analysis for CNN’s coverage of Election 2000 earned her the American Bar Association’s Presidential Award for Excellence in Journalism. She continues to host the weekly 30-minute program “Plugged In with Greta Van Susteren” on Voice of America, which broadcasts exclusively outside of the United States.

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