GLENN: When we were looking at all the people we could have on the air today to talk about this -- and, you know, everybody -- all the talking heads are out. All the politicians are out on both sides. We thought, let's see, who doesn't switch sides all the time? Who is not doing the calculus in their head of, "Okay. Wait a minute. How am I supposed to answer this week?" The name, of course, Mike Lee comes to mind immediately. A guy who just plays it straight the whole time. Mike, welcome to the program. How are you?
MIKE: Doing great, thank you very much, Glenn.
GLENN: Senator from Utah.
So tell me, Mike, what the hell is going -- what happened?
MIKE: You know, it was a surprise to all of us. It was certainly a surprise to me. I learned about it through the news yesterday afternoon. No prior warning.
In short, I think part of what happened at least was that Jim Comey had become the issue. And even he, I think, would acknowledge that that isn't good, for the FBI director himself to become the issue. And so I think that's what happened. I don't know of the timing for the announcement. I don't know whether that was right.
And I don't know where this goes from here. But I think, once he was the issue, I think it became much more likely that they would end up making a change at the Department of Justice.
GLENN: Okay. So I agree with that, that we can't have a celebrity -- we can't have somebody who is polarizing in that position. We just want a no-name just to make the calls, like an umpire. You know, just -- I just want somebody in that position, who is wearing the black-and-white stripes, and not because they're in prison. But because they're an ump.
GLENN: And there's no celebrities in Ump Town.
GLENN: Here's the thing that the Democrats are using -- and I'd like to get your view on this. They are in the middle of apparently some investigation of the people in his administration. Is -- did that play a role? Was this appropriate for him to fire him? I mean, he made it very clear, Trump did, in the firing letter. You told me three times that I -- you know, I'm -- I'm a good guy. And I'm not part of an investigation. He made that very clear that this had nothing to do with that investigation.
But does it -- I mean, do you know what's happening with the investigation and the grand jury possibly being called?
MIKE: I don't. I have absolutely no idea. From my standing point, that has not only unknown, but unknowable at this point. It's one of the reasons why this has gotten a lot of attention though is that people see an investigation going on as to Russia's involvement with last year's election, and people see the possibility where the suspicion that this might have been connected with that. Now, the publicly stated reason indicated that it was not that. That it had to do with management reasons.
GLENN: Is there any reason, Senator Mike Lee, that this came up out of the blue yesterday and had to be -- he had to be fired in the middle of giving a speech? I mean, why -- why the sudden, we got to get him out of here? Any idea?
MIKE: I do not know. Some have speculated that, you know, we have a new deputy attorney general, Rod Rosenstein. And he's very well respected. And he's been in place for only a couple of weeks, just barely having been confirmed by the US Senate, overwhelmingly. He did make a recommendation on this. And that recommendation involves Mr. Comey's dismissal. And the fact that he's been in office only a short period of time perhaps explain some of the timing. I really don't know.
But, again, this wasn't run by us in advance. We had no advance notice. Nor do I have any inside information as to what they had in mind. There are -- there are rumors circulating suggesting that there was a lack of trust, generally between the White House and Mr. Comey. One can understand that a lack of trust generally -- lack of trust as to his willingness to be impartial, as to his ability to treat things with confidentiality, during the pendency of an investigation would be of concern. But I have no idea whether any of those things --
GLENN: Well, I think that would have been the same if Hillary Clinton were in office. There would have been a lack of trust.
Can you tell me anything about McCarthy? Andrew McCarthy, the guy that's coming in, isn't he an Obama guy?
MIKE: Yeah, I don't -- I'm not a good witness on that at this point. I wish I could give you information on that, and I just can't.
GLENN: Is there -- is there talk in the hallways today -- we see Schumer out. Is there real talk in the hallways today, like there was last night. "We're in a constitutional crisis. This is Nixon. This is Watergate. We demand hearings." Is there a real push on the Hill for that, and will anything come about from that, Mike?
MIKE: There's definitely a push to try to create the appearance of a crisis. I think that's a mistake. I think it's short-sighted at this point. If people have information demonstrating impropriety that's one thing. But any time you suggest a constitutional crisis, you got to be prepared to back it up with actual arguments, with actual facts that tie into actual constitutional arguments.
GLENN: No, that doesn't --
MIKE: We haven't seen those yet.
STU: Mike, the idea that he had become -- Comey had become the sort of center of attention and maybe a personality in a role where you don't want personality -- and part of that is his own doing, I think -- but outside of that, who is he? Is he a good guy? Did he do a good job? Taking out sort of the way the press has handled this, do you stand by Comey and the job that he did?
MIKE: Look, I personally really like the guy, and I've known him for more than -- I don't know what it's been -- 12 or 13 years. He was our high-ranking Department of Justice official, the deputy attorney general at the time I was a federal prosecutor in Salt Lake City. He came and visited our office. Shook hands with each of us. Got to know each of us. Gave us a pep talk. He was a prosecutor's prosecutor. I mean, he told us these great stories. And he explained to us, you know, if you woke me up in the middle of the night and asked me, "who are you," I would tell you I'm an assistant United States attorney. This guy knew how to motivate federal prosecutors, knew how to relate to us, knew how to explain to us that he had empathy with us, that he understood we had to see things as federal prosecutors that no one should have to see.
He is a very likable human being. So, yeah, personally, I love the guy.
GLENN: Was he -- was he a guy -- do you believe that -- because we've heard from both sides as both sides loved him and hated him, that the FBI -- the agents didn't like him because he was, you know, flying off the handle and there was no trust between him and the system, not above, but below. Is that true, do you think?
MIKE: I have heard of that. I suspect some of it is exaggerated. But, again, we have to remember the culture of the FBI. This is a place that has deliberately, since the days of J. Edgar Hoover, eschewed anything that looks like open, bold, partisan activity. There was a special agent in charge, I believe in Louisiana a few years ago who was fired before lunch after he did an interview one morning in which he acknowledged that some day, he might possibly consider running for public office. They had fired him from Washington, DC, before lunch the day that happened. So that shows the culture within the FBI. They really like to eschew anything that looks political. And so this guy, having waded into the political thicket, whether wittingly or otherwise avoidably or not, definitely ran afoul of some of that culture.
GLENN: Is this -- is there any reason, Mike, to be concerned -- you know, again, people are talking about, you know, a dictatorship. And I have to tell you, if President Obama did this, I would be very concerned. President Trump has done this. I'm very concerned. But most people are picking partisan sides.
Is there anything lasting to this that we should worry about? Is there anything that was done that kind of is sending a message to us that we should be hearing?
MIKE: Well, look, this is another one of those instances where only time will tell. The White House stated plausibly legitimate, valid reasons for making a change. If, in fact, the federal Bureau of Investigation is in disarray, if, in fact, it's not working the way it should and there's been an erosion of trust there among and between agents within the Department of Justice, then -- then that's a problem.
And time will tell -- will prove out those facts if indeed those are the facts. If, in fact, the reason was something different than that, then people will have cause to be concerned. I have no way of knowing what that will be. I normally start when somebody gives a facially valid explanation by assuming that that's true until proven otherwise.
GLENN: So the Senate hearing that was happening -- the subcommittee hearing that was happening on Russia and everything else, Mike, is a giant circus. I mean, there was nothing useful that is coming out of that at all. You know, we're not talking about who actually leaked the information from the federal government and the White House. We think we know who it is. But nobody seems interested in going after that.
And, quite honestly, it doesn't seem like anybody was really interested in going after -- I mean, a foreign government tried to influence the elections. And I don't care who it is. If it was -- if it was Hillary Clinton, if it was Barack Obama, if it was Ted Cruz, if it was Jesus, I'd want to know what exactly happened. And I don't get the impression that anybody in Washington is really that interested in finding out either one of those questions.
Am I reading it wrong?
MIKE: I don't think -- yeah, I think so. In this instance, I think you are. You're right most of the time, Glenn. In this instance, I think you're wrong. There are a lot of people who care very passionately about that, including me. But by no means limited to me. People of both parties are concerned about that. Some of those investigations -- some of the details behind those investigations are still classified, and so they can't be discussed. That might be one of the reasons why you're not hearing as much on that. But, look, this is a big deal.
GLENN: Have you been read into those classified?
MIKE: Some of them, yes.
MIKE: I'm not on the intelligence committee. And so I don't have the highest level of access some of my colleagues have. But this is disturbing on many levels, not just because what may have happened by virtue of the actions of other governments, namely that of Russia on our own, but also what happened within our own government. And it's also concerning, given what we see with Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, is potentially very distressing. The fact that they can record conversations of US citizens, and as long as they talk to someone who is himself or herself a target of a foreign intelligence investigation, they can record that call, store it in a database, and search that database with the US citizen being the target, without a warrant. That's distressing.
GLENN: You -- you -- I know you testified -- Comey did, in front of your committee last week, and was saying, we need to have a statutory rule that says we can go into anybody's browser and search it at any time without a warrant. That's terrifying stuff.
MIKE: It's very terrifying, the fact that he was saying that, the fact that we've got a whole lot of members of the US Senate, and a whole lot of members of the House of Representatives who think that's just fine. I mean, they're pushing this thing -- this proposal to give the federal government warrantless access to your browsing history. To your electronic transaction records. Your search records. What you've read on the internet. That's the functional equivalent to allowing the government warrantless access to your entire library, to the books you've read, that you have on your shelf at home.
GLENN: But that's going to happen, Mike. There was a new survey that just came out for millennials. And like 54 percent, I think it was, of millennials -- of conservative millennials say, "Yes, the freedom -- freedom of speech and the First Amendment is absolutely vital, but the government needs to outline what speech is okay and what's not okay." I mean, it's -- it's an upside down world.
MIKE: Well, it is. And that's why we've got to turn it back right-side up. We've got to right people of the fact that governments are necessary. Governments can protect us. But they have to be managed. They have to be constrained. Because people who are interested (breaking up) -- those who have power, inevitably want more. We've got to protect ourselves. And to protect ourselves, we have to understand our rights, and we have to understand the risks and the dangers associated with government.
GLENN: Mike, I appreciate your time. I've got a book that's on my desk right in front of me because I just had this guy on, Yuval Harari. He wrote a book called Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow.
You're -- you're an intellectual enough to really get your arms around this. I'm going to send this book to you. You have to read it. It is what all the elites around the world is reading. And it is the future of tomorrow. And we have to start having deeper conversations that, you know, the kind of conversations that most people are having. Because the world is fundamentally about to change, and so are the world's governments. And this kind of goes into that.
Mike, thank you so much. Appreciate it.
MIKE: Hey, thank you, Glenn.