Transcript: Rep. Michael McCaul on "Face the Nation"

The following is a transcript of an interview with GOP Rep. Michael McCaul of Texas that aired Sunday, Feb. 12, 2023, on "Face the Nation."

MARGARET BRENNAN: We go now to Congressman Michael McCaul. He is the Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Good morning to you.

REP. MICHAEL MCCAUL: Morning, Margaret. Thanks for having me.

MARGARET BRENNAN: I want to start on this unusual activity, three takedowns in eight days. In the case of the spy balloon, this was Chinese surveillance, according to the administration. On Friday, they put restrictions on six Chinese companies that allegedly helped China's military build that balloon. Is this the right move to just try to make it harder for them to get U.S. technology? Or does Congress need to do something that's more broad?

REP. MCCAUL: Well, it's certainly the right move. It will be one of my number one priorities as the Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee in this Congress, to stop the export of technology to China that then goes into their most advanced weapons systems. In this case, a sophisticated spy balloon that went across three nuclear sites, I think it's important to say, in plain view of the American people. You know, in Montana, the triad site, air, land, and sea nuclear weapons, in Omaha, the spy balloon went over our Strategic Command, which is our most sensitive nuclear site. It was so sensitive that President Bush was taken there after 9/11. And then finally, Missouri, the B-2 bomber, that's where they are placed. It did a lot of damage.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Is that what U.S. intelligence told you? They have been saying they mitigated the impact.

REP. MCCAUL: They say they mitigated it but my assessment, and- and I can't get into the detail the intelligence document, is that if it was still transmitting going over these three very sensitive nuclear sites, I think- I think if you look at the flight pattern of the balloon, it tells a story as to what the Chinese were up to as they controlled this aircraft throughout the United States. Going over those sites, in my judgment, would cause great damage. Remember, a balloon could see a lot more on the ground than a satellite.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So, you said you want to try to stop the export of technology that can be used by China's military. As a conservative though, how much- this has to make you a little uncomfortable to have government try to control private business investment. How do you do that?

REP. MCCAUL: Well, we have what's called an entity's list, the Department of Commerce had jurisdiction over the office within their- the Department of Defense has one. We need to harmonize those, make it more security focused. You know, capital flows is one issue, but technology exports into China that they use to turn- that maybe eventually turn against us. We have to stop doing that. And I think we can do it by sectors, they do by companies now. Obviously, they identified the six. I think shockingly, when the balloon was recovered, it had American-made component parts in there with English on that. It was made- you know, parts made in America, that were put on a spy balloon from China. I don't think the American people accept that.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Do you believe that this was a strategic choice by Xi Jinping's government in Beijing, or do you believe that it was just the left and right hand not knowing what was going on?

REP. MCCAUL: When I saw the sites that it was flying over, it was very clear to me this was an intentional act. It was done with provocation to gather intelligence data, and collect intelligence on our three major nuclear sites in this country. Why? Because they're looking at what- what is our capability in the event of a possible future conflict in Taiwan. They're really assessing what we have in this country. I find it extraordinary the timing of this flight as well, you know, right before the State of the Union speech, and also, you know, right before Secretary Blinken was scheduled to meet with Chairman Xi. I think it was very much an act of belligerence on their part and perhaps they don't care what- what the American people think about that.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Before I let you go, I want to ask you, you voted in the last Congress to provide a lot of assistance to Ukraine, but this past week, at least 10 of your members Republican members introduced a bill called the Ukraine Fatigue Resolution to try to cut off aid. How hard is it going to be to have a Republican-led house continue to help Ukraine?

REP. MCCAUL: I still believe Margaret, there are many on both sides of the aisle, a majority of the majorities, in support of this. We have- we have factions on the left and right, that do not support Ukraine--

MARGARET BRENNAN: This is a Republican bill.

REP. MCCAUL: --and that will probably continue. Right, and I do think, for me, particularly, it's- we have to educate, where has the money gone. You know, the audits that are in place right now, there are four of them on Ukraine funding. And we have to explain why is Ukraine so important. You know, what happens in Ukraine impacts Taiwan and Chairman Xi, that China's aligned with Russia, Iran and North Korea, against freedom, democracy in the West. And, you know, I think that's a debate we'll have, but I still feel very confident that we will give them the assistance they need. I'd like to see it faster, so they can win this faster.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So you- you think Matt Gaetz, Marjorie Taylor Greene, others who signed this, need to be educated?

REP. MCCAUL: You know, look, we took Marjorie Taylor Greene into a briefing. She was satisfied, I thought, with what- the controls that have been put in place on the spending, but I don't think that they will be- ever be persuaded that this cause is something that they would support. I think they have this false dichotomy that somehow we can't help Ukraine, you know, beat back the Russians who invaded their country, and- and secure the border. We can do both. We're a great nation. And the fact of the matter is, unfortunately, this administration has chosen not to secure the border. He can't even control and secure our airspace now, it looks like.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Congressman McCaul, thank you for your time today.

REP. MCCAUL: Thanks, Margaret. Thanks for having me.

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