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tv   Interview with Representative David Kustoff  CSPAN  February 8, 2017 6:17pm-6:30pm EST

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serve, but i felt at that time in my life that if i didn't s f serve i would look back with regret for the rest of my life. both of my grandfathers developed a tradition in our family of serving and i wanted to honor that tradition myself and do what i could to serve my country. i was in college during 9/11 and remember vividly that day and what occurred, how it shook the very foundation of this country and i wanted to be part of a generation of those, that post-9/11 generation of those machine a men and women who stepped up to serve and do that myself so i could tell my daughters i did what i could. >> congressman jim banks, thank you for your time. >> thank you very much. congressman david kustoff, what did you do before you came to congress? >> i have been a practicing lawyer and was honored to serve as the united states attorney for the western district of
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tennessee for a few years, couple of years during president bush's tenure. and i have enjoyed the practice of law. i enjoyed representing the people of west tennessee as the united states attorney, as the chief law enforcement officer for the district. >> tell our viewers what was operation tennessee waltz and your role in it. >> there was, in the early 2000s and the mid 2000s in the tennessee legislature there was a level of corruption among state legislators so the u.s. attorney's office and the fbi before i became united states attorney developed an undercover operation, tennessee waltz, where a fictional company was created that would quote, unquote, lobby members of the
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tennessee legislature. of course, they were bribing those members who had been engaged in other activity that they should not have been engaged in. so i prosecuted those cases after they were indicted and it resulted in the conviction of 12 members of the legislature, some that were outside of the tennessee legislature, but the main thing is, it sent a signal to elected officials, public servants cross the state of tennessee, that you just can't engage in that type of behavior. you know, nobody is above the law, no matter what your title is. and you know, one thing that i told the members of my community during that investigation is i believed it then, i believe it
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today, that the majority of people who are involved in public service are good, honest people. politically you may not agree with them all the time, but they try to do the right things for the right reasons. but for those people who were engaged in illegal activity, who thought about it, it sent a very strong signal that law enforcement across the state is watching you and don't do it again. >> some well-known names caught up in that. john ford, the brother of former congressman harold ford senior, and aung wiuncle of harold ford what did that teach you, do you think, about you coming here and being a member of congress yourself? >> first thing is, it does show that clearly, nobody's above the law because there were state
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senators who were convicted in that and as you said, john ford being among the most prominent of those elected officials. there were people in our community who said there's no way that somebody named ford is ever going to be convicted by a jury of his peers. and you know, the one thing about the criminal justice system is it's not perfect. but if you look around the world, it is the best system that exists. what it taught me is it doesn't matter whether you're white, whether you're black, whether you're hispanic, nobody wants to see their elected official on the take. so it did send a strong signal that no matter what your name is, no matter what your position or your power of influence, you need to do the right things for the right reasons and again, the
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majority of those in public service do that. >> why did you decide to run for office? >> you know, i'm very concerned and have been very concerned about the way our country is going. for the last eight years, where i am in west tennessee, economically there are parts of west tennessee that clearly have not recovered since the 2008 recession. but the other thing is national security and terrorism. as united states attorney, the other united states attorneys who served under president bush, the one thing that president bush and the attorney general asked was make anti-terrorism, make national security, your number one priority. you structure your office however you want to after that, but make that your number one priority, so as we looked around and we see acts of terrorism
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committed around the world and this country, i felt like that somebody with my background, my law enforcement background, needed to step up and lead. frankly, as we know, anybody can come vote yes or no but to come up and be able to lead on issues of national security and the economy and health care, which to me are the most pressing issues as we face today, to come up and lead. >> have you thought about some outlining of legislation that you would like to work on first? >> well, i have and i'm not ready to talk about that yet, but yes, i have, and i'm looking forward to working with my other colleagues to make sure that we can get things passed. >> what about your family? will they be moving to washington or will they stay back in tennessee? >> they are going to stay in tennessee. i'm going to be back in the
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district in west tennessee whenever i'm not in washington voting. i think it's important, that's important for our family stability, my wife who has been a true partner and very supportive of what we're trying to do, and it was frankly, our campaign was a joint decision and it was a partnership with she and i. my two children maggie and jake, who worked really hard on the campaign but our life is in west tennessee and that's where we're going to continue to live. >> have you found a place to live out here and are you bunking with any fellow freshmen? >> you know, i think that i found a place, i'm going to be by myself and that way, as you know, we are always working. something is always going on. so the only thing i'm going to do there is sleep.
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>> what else would you like to accomplish in these next two years? >> several things. one is, as it relates to the economy, i talked about the economy in west tennessee and in parts of rural west tennessee. we have got to work on improving the economic environment. i think one clear way that that can be done at the federal level is tax relief. i look forward to working with president-elect trump to accomplish that. very concerned about health care. you know the stories. i have heard from real people all throughout west tennessee during this congressional campaign and afterwards that they simply can't afford health care, that their premiums have doubled and tripled going back to last several years that they're working, going to need
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to work two and three jobs. not only the premiums but the deductibles and the fact that they were promised by president obama that they could keep their doctors and their doctors are not available on their health insurance plans, so it's clear to me that obamacare needs to be repealed and that's something i'm looking forward to doing very early on in this term. then again, national security and terrorism. i'm really excited to work with president-elect trump and other members of the house and the senate to make our country safer. but it also extends down to the local and state and of course, the federal level because if you're in law enforcement today, i don't care whether you're a police officer, a sheriff's deputy, an agent, the morale among law enforcement in this
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country over the last several years has been demoralized. they feel like they do not have the support from federal officials. i'm going to be a strong advocate for law enforcement because i worked with those men and women and i know and i think we all realize that each and every day they clock into work, they are putting their lives on the line. they don't know whether they're coming home at night. i will be a strong friend to law enforcement in congress. >> congressman, what kind of groups and/or individuals supported you in your race? >> i was honored to have support from mayors in west tennessee, from business leaders in west tennessee but more importantly, just people. as you know, to win a congressional race is very difficult and you have got to put together especially in a district like the eighth
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congressional district which is 15 counties, it's a large geographic footprint. there's a lot of area. to have the support that we had is really humbling and this is not just something that you say, but you remember that when you're walking the halls of congress, that you're here for the people. you want to do what's best for the country but you remember the stories that people have told me and continue to tell me when i'm back traveling my district and that's what i take as support. >> congressman, thank you very much for your time. >> thank you for having me today. sunday night on q & a -- >> in all these years, i have never seen a case where the snowden case where so uncritically journalists have
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accepted information from a single source, edward snowden, who is in moscow under the control of the russian government. >> investigative journalist edward j. epstein on his book, "how america lost its secrets, edward snowden, the man and the theft." >> he did enormous damage. i don't even know if his supporters say that he did no damage. they say he did enormous good. that's their view. maybe he did some good because he started a national conversation and he opened up a subject of interest. but i think where trump is certainly right is that this man has not faced justice and he deserves to face justice, whatever we decide it is. >> sunday night at 8:00 eastern on c-span's q & a. officials from the justice department and the office of special counsel a

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