Rep. Rick Crawford, R-Jonesboro, said he was surprised when FBI director James Comey revealed to the House Intelligence Committee that an investigation of Trump ties to Russia had been underway since July.
The First District Congressman also advocates a return to private hearings and he’s concerned that diplomatic and economic efforts have not deterred North Korean aggression.
In a Talk Business & Politics interview, which also included Crawford’s explanation for his opposition to the Trump-Ryan healthcare plan, Crawford said he thinks the public setting for conducting House oversight is too limited.
“While I think it’s important that the American people know that we’re engaged in this ongoing investigation in the House Intelligence Committee, as is the Senate, the FBI Director came out and he was authorized by the DOJ [Department of Justice] to acknowledge that they in fact were also conducting an investigation. I think that’s as far as we need to go in a public setting. Beyond that, I think we probably are not doing ourselves any favors in regard to how we pursue the facts,” he said. “Some of that stuff just needs to continue to be behind closed doors until such time as we arrive at a conclusion and we can disclose that at that point and time.”
When asked if the FBI disclosure should have been made prior to the November election – as the Clinton email investigation was – Crawford said that was a Justice Department call.
“I’m not sure that’s necessarily the best context there. I think if we’re talking about strictly Russian active measures in the election, that’s something that the DOJ had to make a legal determination on whether or not that could be disclosed,” Crawford said. “It wasn’t until that hearing on Monday when Director Comey came forward with that. I was quite frankly a little bit surprised that he was authorized by DOJ at that point and time to make that release and make that public, but he did.”
Crawford is advocating for fewer public hearings at this time while the House Intelligence Committee conducts its work. He said Director Comey’s answers were largely “no comment” due to the public nature of the hearing.
“That’s what happens in an open setting. We’re kind of limited to what we can share in an open forum. So I think we need to go back to that classified, secure platform then maybe we can get a little further along and create a little better dialogue and maybe expedite the investigation,” he said.
Later in the week after the TB&P interview was conducted, Crawford released a statement about House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif., who has come under fire for discussing sensitive information with the White House involving the investigation. Crawford said Nunes’ moves “have not compromised the independence or bipartisan nature of the committee.”
As a member of the House Intel panel, Crawford serves on the Emerging Threats subcommittee. When asked about potential concerns involving North Korean weapons and nuclear aggression, Crawford said “all options” should be examined.
“I think certainly you have to make sure that our adversaries understand that all options are on the table at this point. North Korea’s a bad actor. I don’t want to characterize the entire North Korean population, but I do think it’s safe to say that the Kim Jong Un regime is very unhinged. I’m not sure that it’s in our interest to take military action off the table,” he said.
“Secretary Tillerson is engaging in this, using whatever diplomatic means he can. But they don’t seem to really respond to diplomatic measures. They don’t seem to respond to sanctions. So we’ll see. It’s not my place to speculate, but I am highly concerned about what’s taking place in North Korea and how long Kim Jong Un can continue to subject his people to this kind of treatment and how, look even China is concerned about this and they consider China their ally. He’s really a threat to the region in more ways than one,” he continued.
Watch Crawford’s full interview below.