Mike Lee Reacts to Comey Firing: 'It Was a Surprise to All of Us'

Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) talked with Glenn Wednesday on radio following the news that James Comey had been fired as director of the FBI.

"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?" Glenn asked sarcastically.

The name that immediately popped into mind was Senator Lee.

"A guy who just plays it straight the whole time," Glenn said.

Senator Lee shared his thoughts on the crazy world of politics and why, in his opinion, James Comey got in his own way.

Listen to this segment from The Glenn Beck Program:

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.

MIKE: Yeah.

GLENN: And there's no celebrities in Ump Town.

MIKE: Yes.

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.

GLENN: Okay.

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.

From the moment the 33-year-old Thomas Jefferson arrived at the Continental Congress in Philadelphia in 1776, he was on the radical side. That caused John Adams to like him immediately. Then the Congress stuck Jefferson and Adams together on the five-man committee to write a formal statement justifying a break with Great Britain, and their mutual admiration society began.

Jefferson thought Adams should write the Declaration. But Adams protested, saying, “It can't come from me because I'm obnoxious and disliked." Adams reasoned that Jefferson was not obnoxious or disliked, therefore he should write it. Plus, he flattered Jefferson, by telling him he was a great writer. It was a master class in passing the buck.

So, over the next 17 days, Jefferson holed up in his room, applying his lawyer skills to the ideas of the Enlightenment. He borrowed freely from existing documents like the Virginia Declaration of Rights. He later wrote that “he was not striving for originality of principle or sentiment." Instead, he hoped his words served as “an expression of the American mind."

It's safe to say he achieved his goal.

The five-man committee changed about 25 percent of Jefferson's first draft of the Declaration before submitting it to Congress. Then, Congress altered about one-fifth of that draft. But most of the final Declaration's words are Jefferson's, including the most famous passage — the Preamble — which Congress left intact. The result is nothing less than America's mission statement, the words that ultimately bind the nation together. And words that we desperately need to rediscover because of our boiling partisan rage.

The Declaration is brilliant in structure and purpose. It was designed for multiple audiences: the King of Great Britain, the colonists, and the world. And it was designed for multiple purposes: rallying the troops, gaining foreign allies, and announcing the creation of a new country.

The Declaration is structured in five sections: the Introduction, Preamble, the Body composed of two parts, and the Conclusion. It's basically the most genius breakup letter ever written.

In the Introduction, step 1 is the notificationI think we need to break up. And to be fair, I feel I owe you an explanation...

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another…

The Continental Congress felt they were entitled by “the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God" to “dissolve the political bands," but they needed to prove the legitimacy of their cause. They were defying the world's most powerful nation and needed to motivate foreign allies to join the effort. So, they set their struggle within the entire “Course of human events." They're saying, this is no petty political spat — this is a major event in world history.

Step 2 is declaring what you believe in, your standardsHere's what I'm looking for in a healthy relationship...

This is the most famous part of the Declaration; the part school children recite — the Preamble:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

That's as much as many Americans know of the Declaration. But the Preamble is the DNA of our nation, and it really needs to be taken as a whole:

That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

The Preamble takes us through a logical progression: All men are created equal; God gives all humans certain inherent rights that cannot be denied; these include the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; to protect those rights, we have governments set up; but when a government fails to protect our inherent rights, people have the right to change or replace it.

Government is only there to protect the rights of mankind. They don't have any power unless we give it to them. That was an extraordinarily radical concept then and we're drifting away from it now.

The Preamble is the justification for revolution. But note how they don't mention Great Britain yet. And again, note how they frame it within a universal context. These are fundamental principles, not just squabbling between neighbors. These are the principles that make the Declaration just as relevant today. It's not just a dusty parchment that applied in 1776.

Step 3 is laying out your caseHere's why things didn't work out between us. It's not me, it's you...

This is Part 1 of the Body of the Declaration. It's the section where Jefferson gets to flex his lawyer muscles by listing 27 grievances against the British crown. This is the specific proof of their right to rebellion:

He has obstructed the administration of justice...

For imposing taxes on us without our consent...

For suspending our own legislatures...

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us...

Again, Congress presented these “causes which impel them to separation" in universal terms to appeal to an international audience. It's like they were saying, by joining our fight you'll be joining mankind's overall fight against tyranny.

Step 4 is demonstrating the actions you took I really tried to make this relationship work, and here's how...

This is Part 2 of the Body. It explains how the colonists attempted to plead their case directly to the British people, only to have the door slammed in their face:

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury...

They too have been deaf to the voice of justice... We must, therefore... hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

This basically wrapped up America's argument for independence — we haven't been treated justly, we tried to talk to you about it, but since you refuse to listen and things are only getting worse, we're done here.

Step 5 is stating your intent — So, I think it's best if we go our separate ways. And my decision is final...

This is the powerful Conclusion. If people know any part of the Declaration besides the Preamble, this is it:

...that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved...

They left no room for doubt. The relationship was over, and America was going to reboot, on its own, with all the rights of an independent nation.

And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

The message was clear — this was no pitchfork mob. These were serious men who had carefully thought through the issues before taking action. They were putting everything on the line for this cause.

The Declaration of Independence is a landmark in the history of democracy because it was the first formal statement of a people announcing their right to choose their own government. That seems so obvious to us now, but in 1776 it was radical and unprecedented.

In 1825, Jefferson wrote that the purpose of the Declaration was “not to find out new principles, or new arguments, never before thought of… but to place before mankind the common sense of the subject, in terms so plain and firm… to justify ourselves in the independent stand we are compelled to take."

You're not going to do better than the Declaration of Independence. Sure, it worked as a means of breaking away from Great Britain, but its genius is that its principles of equality, inherent rights, and self-government work for all time — as long as we actually know and pursue those principles.

On June 7, 1776, the Second Continental Congress met in Philadelphia at the Pennsylvania State House, better known today as Independence Hall. Virginia delegate Richard Henry Lee introduced a motion calling for the colonies' independence. The “Lee Resolution" was short and sweet:

Resolved, That these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States, that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved.

Intense debate followed, and the Congress voted 7 to 5 (with New York abstaining) to postpone a vote on Lee's Resolution. They called a recess for three weeks. In the meantime, the delegates felt they needed to explain what they were doing in writing. So, before the recess, they appointed a five-man committee to come up with a formal statement justifying a break with Great Britain. They appointed two men from New England — Roger Sherman and John Adams; two from the middle colonies — Robert Livingston and Benjamin Franklin; and one Southerner — Thomas Jefferson. The responsibility for writing what would become the Declaration of Independence fell to Jefferson.

In the rotunda of the National Archives building in Washington, D.C., there are three original documents on permanent display: the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the Declaration of Independence. These are the three pillars of the United States, yet America barely seems to know them anymore. We need to get reacquainted — quickly.

In a letter to his friend John Adams in 1816, Jefferson wrote: “I like the dreams of the future, better than the history of the past."

America used to be a forward-looking nation of dreamers. We still are in spots, but the national attitude that we hear broadcast loudest across media is not looking toward the future with optimism and hope. In late 2017, a national poll found 59% of Americans think we are currently at the “lowest point in our nation's history that they can remember."

America spends far too much time looking to the past for blame and excuse. And let's be honest, even the Right is often more concerned with “owning the left" than helping point anyone toward the practical principles of the Declaration of Independence. America has clearly lost touch with who we are as a nation. We have a national identity crisis.

The Declaration of Independence is America's thesis statement, and without it America doesn't exist.

It is urgent that we get reacquainted with the Declaration of Independence because postmodernism would have us believe that we've evolved beyond the America of our founding documents, and thus they're irrelevant to the present and the future. But the Declaration of Independence is America's thesis statement, and without it America doesn't exist.

Today, much of the nation is so addicted to partisan indignation that "day-to-day" indignation isn't enough to feed the addiction. So, we're reaching into America's past to help us get our fix. In 2016, Democrats in the Louisiana state legislature tabled a bill that would have required fourth through sixth graders to recite the opening lines of the Declaration. They didn't table it because they thought it would be too difficult or too patriotic. They tabled it because the requirement would include the phrase “all men are created equal" and the progressives in the Louisiana legislature didn't want the children to have to recite a lie. Representative Barbara Norton said, “One thing that I do know is, all men are not created equal. When I think back in 1776, July the fourth, African Americans were slaves. And for you to bring a bill to request that our children will recite the Declaration, I think it's a little bit unfair to us. To ask our children to recite something that's not the truth. And for you to ask those children to repeat the Declaration stating that all men's are free. I think that's unfair."

Remarkable — an elected representative saying it wouldn't be fair for students to have to recite the Declaration because “all men are not created equal." Another Louisiana Democrat explained that the government born out of the Declaration “was used against races of people." I guess they missed that part in school where they might have learned that the same government later made slavery illegal and amended the Constitution to guarantee all men equal protection under the law. The 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments were an admission of guilt by the nation regarding slavery, and an effort to right the wrongs.

Yet, the progressive logic goes something like this: many of the men who signed the Declaration of Independence, including Thomas Jefferson who wrote it, owned slaves; slavery is evil; therefore, the Declaration of Independence is not valid because it was created by evil slave owners.

It's a sad reality that the left has a very hard time appreciating the universal merits of the Declaration of Independence because they're so hung up on the long-dead issue of slavery. And just to be clear — because people love to take things out of context — of course slavery was horrible. Yes, it is a total stain on our history. But defending the Declaration of Independence is not an effort to excuse any aspect of slavery.

Okay then, people might say, how could the Founders approve the phrase “All men are created equal," when many of them owned slaves? How did they miss that?

They didn't miss it. In fact, Thomas Jefferson included an anti-slavery passage in his first draft of the Declaration. The paragraph blasted King George for condoning slavery and preventing the American Colonies from passing legislation to ban slavery:

He has waged cruel war against human nature itself, violating its most sacred rights to life and liberty in the persons of a distant people who never offended him, captivating and carrying them into slavery in another hemisphere... Determined to keep open a market where men should be bought and sold, he has prostituted his negative for suppressing every legislative attempt to prohibit or to restrain this execrable commerce.

We don't say “execrable" that much anymore. It means, utterly detestable, abominable, abhorrent — basically very bad.

Jefferson was upset when Georgia and North Carolina threw up the biggest resistance to that paragraph. Ultimately, those two states twisted Congress' arm to delete the paragraph.

Still, how could a man calling the slave trade “execrable" be a slaveowner himself? No doubt about it, Jefferson was a flawed human being. He even had slaves from his estate in Virginia attending him while he was in Philadelphia, in the very apartment where he was writing the Declaration.

Many of the Southern Founders deeply believed in the principles of the Declaration yet couldn't bring themselves to upend the basis of their livelihood. By 1806, Virginia law made it more difficult for slave owners to free their slaves, especially if the owner had significant debts as Jefferson did.

At the same time, the Founders were not idiots. They understood the ramifications of signing on to the principles described so eloquently in the Declaration. They understood that logically, slavery would eventually have to be abolished in America because it was unjust, and the words they were committing to paper said as much. Remember, John Adams was on the committee of five that worked on the Declaration and he later said that the Revolution would never be complete until the slaves were free.

Also, the same generation that signed the Declaration started the process of abolition by banning the importation of slaves in 1807. Jefferson was President at the time and he urged Congress to pass the law.

America has an obvious road map that, as a nation, we're not consulting often enough.

The Declaration took a major step toward crippling the institution of slavery. It made the argument for the first time about the fundamental rights of all humans which completely undermined slavery. Planting the seeds to end slavery is not nearly commendable enough for leftist critics, but you can't discount the fact that the seeds were planted. It's like they started an expiration clock for slavery by approving the Declaration. Everything that happened almost a century later to end slavery, and then a century after that with the Civil Rights movement, flowed from the principles voiced in the Declaration.

Ironically for a movement that calls itself progressive, it is obsessed with retrying and judging the past over and over. Progressives consider this a better use of time than actually putting past abuses in the rearview and striving not to be defined by ancestral failures.

It can be very constructive to look to the past, but not when it's used to flog each other in the present. Examining history is useful in providing a road map for the future. And America has an obvious road map that, as a nation, we're not consulting often enough. But it's right there, the original, under glass. The ink is fading, but the words won't die — as long as we continue to discuss them.

'Good Morning Texas' gives exclusive preview of Mercury One museum

Screen shot from Good Morning Texas

Mercury One is holding a special exhibition over the 4th of July weekend, using hundreds of artifacts, documents and augmented reality experiences to showcase the history of slavery — including slavery today — and a path forward. Good Morning Texas reporter Paige McCoy Smith went through the exhibit for an exclusive preview with Mercury One's chief operating officer Michael Little on Tuesday.

Watch the video below to see the full preview.

Click here to purchase tickets to the museum (running from July 4 - 7).

Over the weekend, journalist Andy Ngo and several other apparent right-leaning people were brutally beaten by masked-gangs of Antifa protesters in Portland, Oregon. Short for "antifascist," Antifa claims to be fighting for social justice and tolerance — by forcibly and violently silencing anyone with opposing opinions. Ngo, who was kicked, punched, and sprayed with an unknown substance, is currently still in the hospital with a "brain bleed" as a result of the savage attack. Watch the video to get the details from Glenn.