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Former GOP Congresswoman Barbara Comstock wants fellow Republicans to "stop fearing" Donald Trump

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In an op-ed in The New York Times, former Virginia Congresswoman Barbara Comstock calls on fellow Republicans to stop worrying about former President Trump and approve a commission to investigate the January 6 attack on the Capitol. Comstock spoke with Anne-Marie Green and Vladimir Duthiers on CBSN about her push for the riot investigation, and the direction she thinks the Republican Party is headed.

Video Transcript

- A former Virginia Congresswoman is pushing her fellow Republicans to quote, stop fearing former President Trump, a man who she refers to as the patron Saint of sore losers. In an op-ed for the "New York Times" Barbara Comstock also outlines why she thinks the commission to investigate the January 6th assault on the Capitol is necessary. Barbara Comstock represented Virginia's 10th district from 2015 to 2019 and she's with us now. So Congresswoman, what was it that compelled you to write this article, especially when so few Republicans are willing to publicly oppose former President Trump?

Barbara Comstock represented Virginia's 10th district from 2015 to 2019, and she's with us now. So let me ask you Congressman, what was it that compelled you to write this article, especially when there are so few Republicans willing to publicly oppose former President Trump? And of course I know that you are out of office, it strikes me that most of the ones that are afraid of President Trump are the ones who are still in office.

But you know we should point out that you know the Congresswoman was very critical of President Trump while he was in office as well.

- I mean currently.

- You weren't holding your tongue then either.

- No, I understand. But I'm talking about people in an office today in the Republican Party. Not the president.

BARBARA COMSTOCK: Sure. Well I wanted to support the 35 house Republicans that did support this commission. I also wanted to support the seven Republicans in the Senate that want to support this commission. And also, when I was in Congress I represented many Capitol Hill Police. And worked on the House Administration Committee that oversaw Capitol Police. So I know Capitol Police the D.C. Police really feel left behind.

And I went with them and the family of Officer Sicknick to really plead for this commission. Because we need to know everything that happened on January 6th. And it's particularly important, because Donald Trump is not letting go of November 3rd.

They've started this whole movement now. Steve Bannon and Mike Flynn, they're calling it the November 3rd movement, claiming if you don't subscribe to that this was a stolen election and all of these conspiracy theories, QAnon type of things, that you're going to be wiped out of the party. This is very dangerous. And I'm very concerned that if we don't do this extensive investigation, something like January 6th could happen again.

- And you point out, Congresswoman, in your opinion piece in "New York Times" that maybe politicians know better, but it's having a direct impact on what the American public believes. And you quote from a couple of polls, one in particular that shows that a quarter of Republicans believe in a QAnon conspiracy theory that the government and the media are run by a group of Satan worshipping pedophiles. Not just Republicans though, even Americans, 15% of Americans believe that as well.

And another poll from this week found that 10% of people believe that it's very likely that President Trump will be in fact reinstated as President this year. The Republican Party is really divided right now partly because of these issues. How do you think we got here? What does the future of the Republican Party look like?

BARBARA COMSTOCK: Well I don't think Donald Trump is the future. Listen, he's old, he's kind of spent, he's just hitting the golf course these days and I don't believe he will run again. But I think there's a whole grifter group of people around him who want to indulge him and pretend he's going to run so that they can make money right now.

These are the people who are going to try and be involved in primaries where they support these weak candidates. And in fact you had this week Josh Kraushaar I believe did an article saying how many Republicans, of course they're unnamed, are concerned about the weak candidates that Trump is now endorsing. People like Ted Bud in North Carolina, who I can tell you will not be as strong statewide candidate. I mean, he is not somebody who had done much in Congress at all.

But Mark Meadows, he's still working with the President from North Carolina, wanted to sort of hand-pick somebody that he wanted to have to kind of show his power. So this is not the future of the party, but those numbers, the QAnon and the conspiracy things, are actually what drives sort of this cult following that Trump enjoys. And that he is now going to go out with Bill O'Reilly for pay at various rallies. I mean that's kind of pathetic.

It's like these former acts that go to Branson, Missouri, who can't really get booked in the big places anymore. He is diminished. And 66% of Americans don't want him to run again, which means there's not a path for him to win. Now I get calls, nasty calls from Trump people leaving these nasty messages. Interestingly this little family values crowd always uses that ugly C word against women. I get that a lot from these calls. But they say Trump's going to be the nominee.

Well, you know if Republicans want to lose again, then by all means nominate Donald Trump. But this sore loser does not have a path to win, because even the 47% who voted for him among them, there is already 10%, 20%, I think up to 30% who would abandon him even if he was the nominee. So why invest in a another loser?

We need to turn the page. But the important part of turning the page isn't a partisan reason, it's a public safety, it's a national security, and history deserves to know all of the involvement of all of the Trump White House. We don't have a single document from the Trump White House that I'm aware of about what went on in January 6th. We have stories, we have things that have leaked out and will continue. But we need to get that whole documentary record.

All the texts, all the phone records, that show what was going on in those weeks leading up to January 6th. Reports indicate there were meetings with people like Marjorie Greene, who talked about she was working with the White House on what to do on January 6th. And now we know there would be texts from that day of people going back and forth saying please get the President to go out and stop this mob. Obviously a tweet was not enough.

- Yeah, so it's so interesting Congresswoman. I mean you write in the article that investigating what led up to the insurrection on January 6th is essential. And we're talking about why so many Republicans, especially in the Senate, are resisting. But why is it important for you that we do this? I mean, we did it after 9/11, we did it after Benghazi, and I note that you know some may have seen the investigation into Benghazi as partisan.

But you've always, I mean you are suggesting that we have this investigation now much in the same way I suspect that you supported the Benghazi investigation, and perhaps the investigation into what happened on 9/11. And when I hear people, like you who have experience in this, saying that they're worried that something like this could happen again. My speculation is that it could happen again if we don't actually get to the root causes of why it happened on January 6th.

BARBARA COMSTOCK: Well exactly. And certainly we're seeing in all of these criminal cases, one by one, a lot of the influence of QAnon and conspiracy theories. But we need to have a collective review of that. And I did support the 9/11 commission. Actually my predecessor was very prominent in doing that. And I had also worked for him when I was a staffer. I also supported the Benghazi commission. And back in the 90s I was Chief Counsel on a committee where we did investigate things like the campaign finance problems that the Clinton administration had.

So I know the truth will come out and the facts will come out. Frankly, I am baffled as to why the Democrats didn't starting on January 7th start sending out subpoenas just from the standing committees while they were waiting for some type of independent commission to be stood up. There's nothing preventing them, for example, subpoenaing all the records of those who organized that rally on January 6th, subpoenaing phone records and text records from Donald Trump, from Trump Junior, from Ivanka, from Meadows, from people who were very engaged and involved that day in that event.

That can be done today, should have been done weeks ago. So that's a failure on frankly, on the part of Nancy Pelosi that she hasn't. And that the leadership in the House hasn't gone forward with that. So I think the importance is to get to the truth, and the facts, and the documents. And when those records are subpoenaed, will tell the truth regardless of what type of investigative body does it.

I think for the public trust it's better that it's an outside, independent commission, with former high ranking officials. But if not, the standing committees can get on it right now so that the American public in history have those records preserved. I lost a dear friend on 9/11. And I know when the 9/11 report came out, that was the first time we could see an integrated timeline from that day of everything that happened. Of what happened to my friend, Barbara Olson, word by word. She happened to be the person who had warned us about the box cutters, because she got on a phone and called her husband. And so you saw all those kind of things in real time.

And that's what we don't have, that tick tock timeline of January 6th. Of all those weeks leading up that a true investigation would reveal. And then again, the recommendations of how to prevent it in the future.

- Congresswoman Barbara Comstock, thank you so much for spending some time with us.

BARBARA COMSTOCK: Thank you.