Rep. Ron DeSantis on Fighting The Swamp

Florida's freedom-fighter pinpoints the principles we have to rescue at Restoration Weekend.

Editor’s note: Below are the video and transcript of remarks given by Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-FL 6th District) at the David Horowitz Freedom Center’s 2017 Restoration Weekend. The event was held Nov. 16th-19th at the Breakers Hotel in Palm Beach, Florida.

Rep. Ron DeSantis: Thank you, guys.  Good morning.  Good Morning.  Thank you.  Please, please grab a seat.  Please grab a seat.  Great to be here.  What a good crowd.  I appreciate the invitation to come and speak.  I’m Catholic, and several years ago there was a member of Congress who’s also Catholic that passed away, and when he went up to heaven, he’s in line in the gates, and St. Peter comes out, and there’s a huge crowd of people waiting there, and he grabs the congressman and says, “Come on.  You get to come in.  God gets to see you.“  And there are popes, and bishops and all this stuff, and they’re like, “We’ve been doing this stuff our whole lives.  Why are you bringing in a congressman?“ And St. Peter said, “Well, we have a lot of popes up here.  This is the first U.S. Congressman we’ve ever seen, so.”  

My wife, my daughter – there she is back there – my wife Casey and our daughter.  So, Madison is going to be 1 next week.  Last year we were here right after the election, very happy time for everybody politically, and Madison was just a couple weeks away from being born.  So, this is kind of a good 1-year anniversary for her.  I think she’s a Republican because she watches a lot of Fox News, but she really only watches the commercials, so, Gold IRAs, whatever.  If she were only 60 years old or with disposable income, I think the Fox advertisers would make a killing off of her.  But, we’re happy to have her here. 

Look, I think that when you are serving in the Congress or in an administration or doing anything involving Washington politics, there’s a threshold question that you have to answer for yourself before you can even begin.  And that is this: is Washington a swamp that needs to be drained or is Washington a hot tub to enjoy?  And if you think it’s a swamp that needs to be drained, that’s obviously going to inform the way you view a lot of this.  But if you’re somebody that’s just kind of in politics to be in politics and have a good time, be somebody, you don’t necessarily care as much about the direction of the country, rather than what you can do – what this can do for you.  Well, then you make those different choices.  I think that obviously most of the Democrats are very happy with modern Washington, and the way it operates.  And, unfortunately, we have some Republicans who are very comfortable with that as well.  And so, the divide in the party amongst elected officials I think goes back to that initial question.  Are we here to drain the swamp or are we here to just kind of manage the wreckage a little bit better than the Democrats?  I think we need to be there to drain the swamp, and we obviously have an opportunity with President Trump.

I think there are several epicenters of the swamp, and one of them, unfortunately for us, is the U.S. Senate.  And, if you look at what happened over the summer when they were doing the Obamacare repeal and replace bill, it wasn’t even that it ended in futility, which it did.  It was a huge embarrassment, but you actually had them voting on the same piece of legislation that we passed in 2016 that Obama vetoed.  And, we went out to the voters, and we said, “Look, Obama vetoed this.  All you have to do is change the president.  We’ll do the exact same bill, and we’ll be able to defund Obamacare.”  And so you had six Republican senators who voted for it last Congress switch their votes and vote against it this Congress.  And so a lot of people talk about McCain at the end with that vote, and obviously that was not a good moment for the country or obviously for him who had campaigned on stopping Obamacare just 7 or 8 months previous to that.  But there were also other senators who ran on something and then voted the other way.  And so that, I think, makes it very difficult for voters to trust you when you’re going out saying that you want to do all those things.  And I think if the Republicans lose the Congress next year, I think that Senate debate will probably be the main reason why, because voters are so frustrated that you promised something for 7 years, and then you don’t do it.

And, I think the frustration with the Senate is, they don’t do anything.  They work 2 days a week.  When they failed on Obamacare, they took a 5-week recess, didn’t try to figure out a way forward.  They have a lot of opportunities to do stuff with oversight.  They do very little.  I mean, the most oversight they’re doing is investigating Trump.  They’re doing very little on anything else.  I mean, Senator Grassley, I think’s been an exception.  And, he’s been working with, alongside the House, on some of the investigations that I’ll talk about in a minute.  But we’ve passed, in the House – and look, there’s a lot of things I would want the House to do if I were in charge.  We could be more aggressive.  There’s no doubt, and we could list off ten things.  But the House has passed a bill to repeal and replace Obamacare.  The House has passed a bill defunding sanctuary cities.  The House has passed a bill for Kate’s law.  The House has repealed and replaced Dodd-Frank, and then this week, we did a tax reform bill.

Now, not all those were perfect.  There were things I’d like to see.  But the Senate, they don’t even vote on a lot of this stuff.  They’ve never voted on sanctuary cities.  They’ve never voted on Kate’s Law.  They’ve never voted on border security or any of that stuff.  And that I think is just unsustainable because voters are not going to continue to support them if they’re not willing to do anything.  And, I would just buckle up because over the next couple months, you very well could see – this will be driven by the Senate – you could very well see busting the budget caps, over $100 billion more in welfare spending.  You could see a bail out of Obamacare and the insurance cartel, and you can see an immigration amnesty.  I mean, that’s possible.  I’m not saying it’s going to happen.  I hope it doesn’t, but just imagine if you have a unified Republican government in the Congress and the White House, and you’re generating that product.  Heck, Obama wouldn’t have been able to do that with a Republican Congress, and so a lot of this is being driven by the Senate, and it’s not good.

I think having watched the Senate, it’s just reaffirmed for me that you really want to drain the congressional swamp.  You need term limits for members of Congress.  These guys that have been there for it, they’re just not going to change.  And, having watched them now, I think they are going to really go on a big spending spree.  I think the only way we save our country from bankruptcy is a balanced budget amendment for the Constitution.  They’re never going to behave over the long haul.

You know, we hear a lot in Washington – official Washington, hates Trump.  They still haven’t gotten over the election, and they’re like, “Oh, this guy couldn’t win,” and then when he won, they just couldn’t believe it.  And they kind of all just say, “Oh, well, he’s just such a disaster for the Constitution and all.  He doesn’t know all that,” and they try to do whatever they can to criticize him.  But it’s interesting, if you think about the Constitution.  Really, I think the problems with the Constitution since he’s been elected has been the opposition to Trump and how they have behaved themselves.  A case in point, if you look at the federal courts.  When he did the travel ban – it was really a limited ban – he was acting squarely pursuant to a congressional statute.  He obviously has Article 2 power as Commander in Chief.  But you have these Obama-appointed judges issuing these rulings that were flimsy, that were not grounded in facts or law.  And basically, what was underlying all that is they were just like, “We’ve just got to stop this guy, do whatever we can to stop him.”  And it was essentially a Never Trump form of jurisprudence.  Now, the danger of that is you’re taking courts – and we’ve had problems with the courts anyway – but they’re really stepping outside the bounds of being neutral arbiters to really being part of the Trump Resistance.  And whether it’s a district judge in Hawaii, some of the ones in Washington state, San Francisco, it’s a type of opposition that goes beyond the normal checks and balances, and I think it’s very, very troubling to see that.

Another form of, I would say, extra-Constitutional opposition, has been the response of the permanent bureaucracy to Trump’s election.  Actually, I told them the other day, I was like, “Did you read that article about the State Department bureaucrats in Kabul on election night? They had a Trump piñata that they were going to bust open when you lost.  And then you ended up winning, and so they all went home, and they were all dejected and sad.”  I mean, these are people who are supposed to be kind of neutral public servants, and yet that’s what you see.  So, what happened was, he gets in there – and remember, all the leaking that you saw for months and months.  I’m not saying a leak in and of itself is new.  But the rapidity of them, and the fact that so many of them were politically motivated, designed to hurt the administration both as president-elect and then as president, that is a different in kind. 

And, so you have a situation where we’re supposed to be a government of, by and for the people.  We elect the president under the Constitutional processes, and then that president gets ready to take office and then does take office, and the permanent bureaucracy is rebelling.  And they are effectively rebelling against the American people when they do that, because we have elections for a reason.  So, I think the – and I warned people about this, because we were saying how Republicans controlled everything in the government.  Yes, you have a majority in the House.  Yes, you have a majority in the Senate.  Yes, you have the White House, which allows you to populate the upper echelons of the agencies with the political appointees.  But you go one step below that in the administrate state, and the permanent bureaucracy, that is not something that is a Republican-controlled part of the government at all.  It’s supposed be apolitical, but in fact, as we’ve seen from people like Lois Lerner, a lot of times these folks behave very politically.  So you end up having a lot of continuation of Obama’s policies when the American people voted for something different.  So that’s a big, big problem.

And I think you see that even more acutely with the appointment of Mueller to be a special counsel.  First of all, Sessions recuses himself, so Rod Rosenstein makes this decision.  And he issues this appointing order to investigate – there was no crime identified and what he was supposed to investigate.  Oh, show links between Trump’s campaign and Russia.  Well, that could mean anybody who’s done anything, and you just try to investigate him.  So, that’s why you see the Manafort stuff.  He may be guilty of all that.  It has nothing to do with the campaign.  Papadopoulos is a process crime where he said that he had talked to this professor 2 weeks before he joined the campaign.  Turns out, it was 2 weeks after, so now he’s pleading guilty to false statements.  And maybe he deserves to do that, but I would just ask you, if he’s pleading guilty to false statements, what about Hillary who testified in front of the Benghazi committee under oath.  She said she turned over all her work-related emails.  False.  She said her attorneys went through every single email individually to determine whether they were work related.  False.  She said there were no classified markings on any of her emails, and that’s false.  And so those are statements that are false, and you don’t have a special counsel grinding her into the ground.  And so I think this thing – there’s no focus.  There’s no limit, and so it’s effectively an invitation to just do a fishing expedition, find whatever you can find.  And I think the special counsel is really the baby for the swamp.  They have all their hopes and dreams in this special counsel, and they are guarding it zealously, and they really want this special counsel to scorch the earth.

It was all based off that initial Rosenstein order though.  I mean, people talk about Mueller – I don’t necessarily think he’s a saint like some people in Washington do, but you take anyone from the swamp and you put them in that position, with that broad of discretion, and they’re going to do the exact same thing that Mueller’s doing.

And then, the opposition to Trump has been even worse than just judicial activism, worse than an out-of-control bureaucracy.  It’s actually descended into violence.  When I was out at the Alexandria baseball field, I guess it was June 13, June 12.  We were getting ready to play in a charity baseball game the next day.  I’m literally throwing balls to Steve Scalise 5 minutes before he ended up getting shot.  Jeff Duncan and I were actually closer to where the shooter was eventually going to stage.  We walked off the field, probably 5 minutes before the shooting because we wanted to beat traffic back.  This guy came up to us.  We obviously didn’t know that he was going to be a shooter.  He wanted to make sure that the people on the field were Republicans.  And Jeff and I, when he asked us that, Jeff said, “Yeah, it’s the Republican team.”  We pulled away, and by the time we got back to Capitol Hill, when news had spread that there was a shooting there, Jeff and I immediately contacted each other and said, “That guy – we’ve got to report this guy,” because it was odd the way he did it.  And as they looked at his social media, as they looked at his online history, this was a very left-wing Democrat, a Bernie Sanders supporter.  He hated Trump.  He was part of a group called “Terminate the Republican Party,” and that is how he expressed his opposition, his rage – by rage, trying to shoot as many Republican congressmen as possible.  And the only way you didn’t have 10 or 15 killed that day is because Scalise is in the leadership, and so he travels with a security detail, and they were able to engage the shooter after our members came under fire.  But, we were very close to having a major massacre that day.

And I wish that were the only thing, but you look at Rand Paul – was just assaulted by a very left-wing neighbor.  Now, they’re trying to say it’s over yard waste.  Everything I’m hearing from credible sources is that this guy was really unhinged politically.  I mean, we’ll figure out.  You have another Republican Congressman named David Kustoff in Tennessee who was driven off the road by an enraged anti-Trump activist.  So, this is where this stuff is going, and it’s very, very dangerous when you see that type of activity happening.   But I think it’s really being fueled by just an unabated hatred of the president, and that’s how people are responding.

Now, I think – the one thing that I am proud that we’re finally doing, and it’s just me and a couple other members who are really interested in doing this, is finally getting the facts about the behavior of the Obama-Clinton machine during that administration, starting with Uranium One.  Now, when the Clinton cash book came out in 2015, to me, that cried out for a really, really thorough congressional investigation.  And, for whatever reason, we were not allowed by the leadership to investigate the Clinton cash transactions, and really, I think, didn’t do a service to the American people.  So I thought that was the number one thing that should have been investigated last Congress.  We were basically given a red light on that.  Those of us who were on the investigative committees.  But what happened this year, is when this confidential informant came forward with information, there was no way we could say we’re just not going to consider that.  So I immediately start investigating with Nunes and other people, and we go on TV, and guess what.  The American people responded when they saw us finally taking a stand on this.  And so it really put, I think, the leadership in a position where they were going to support it because they knew our voters supported it.  So there’s a lot that’s going to need to be uncovered as we bring in the informant, as we get all the documents, the recordings.  We’ve got to make sure we’re doing this right and subpoenaing people, doing depositions, using our powers to get truth to the American people.  I don’t know what Sessions is going to do.  I don’t know what the DOJ is going to do, but if we’re doing our job and uncovering the facts, it’s going to make it much more likely that people are held accountable if they violated laws or even if they deserve to be held accountable for other reasons.

So what you notice on Uranium One, whether it’s Shepard Smith, whether it’s some of these print journalists – they’re starting to try to say, “Oh, this has been debunked.”  There’s nothing here.  They shouldn’t be doing this.  And the question you have to ask yourself is: why would they be saying that?  I mean, why do they care if we bring in an informant or whatnot.  What’s it to them?  And I think it’s a sign that folks are worried about where this investigation would go.  The fact of the matter is, not only has it not been debunked, it’s never been investigated.  Congress never investigated it.  We have conflicting reports about DOJ.  Either DOJ did nothing, or DOJ, or FBI was trying to do it, and they got shut down by the Holder-Lynch Justice Department.  I don’t know, but the bottom line is it has not been investigated.  So, we have an opportunity to get the facts here.  When you have millions of dollars going to the foundation at the same time that this Uranium One deal is pending before the investment board, of which Secretary Clinton was a member, the idea that that is just normal activity – you know, by the way, she didn’t disclose a lot of that money like she was supposed to, because she had an agreement with Obama. If it’s no big deal, why would you not have disclosed it? So, there’s all kinds of questions, and we’re not going to be deterred by the media telling us not to investigate, by the Democrats telling us not to investigate. 

But it also requires us to look very hard at what happened in this most recent election, and the media narrative, and the Democrats’ is that, there was Trump-Russian collusion.  This had been going on for a year and a half, and there’s not been any evidence of that.  But I think what there has been evidence of is massive amount of money going from the Democratic Party and Hilary Clinton through Perkins Cole Law Firm to Fusion GPS, which then hired Christopher Steele to gather information against candidate Trump by colluding with the Russians to get opposition research.  So we know that the Democrats paid for this.  We know the dossier was generated at their request by Christopher Steele.  We obviously know the dossier has basically false information in it.  What we need to know is how the FBI got ahold of this dossier.  Did they pay Christopher Steele for using the dossier?  We think they paid him for something.  The question is, is this what they paid him for, and did they use the dossier when they were trying to get warrants, surveillance warrants, for Trump associates, and if they did that, then that is a major, major issue because you have one political party doing partisan research to try to kneecap an opposition party candidate. 

And you have the FBI effectively adopting that dossier, and then using that as surveillance against the people associated with Trump’s campaign.  And then James Comey – remember after Trump wins, he briefs president-elect Trump January 6 about the dossier.  So, why did he decide to do that, and then how did that get leaked to CNN that that happened?  And then, what did CNN do?  Then they published the dossier.  The media actually had the dossier during the campaign, but even they knew, as anti-Trump as they were, that they just couldn’t publish it.  I mean it would open them up.  But the fact that the meeting took place, that gave them the hook to say, “Oh yeah, there was a meeting about this dossier.  We’re not saying it’s true, but this is what the meeting was about.”  Those leaks, I believe, came from the very highest levels of the Obama administration intelligence.  I think what you’re seen – so, think about the whole Russia collusion narrative, if in fact it really goes back to this dossier, if it really goes back to some of the surveillance that was justified using the dossier, if that’s in fact what happened – the FBI won’t give us those documents by the way.  We’re asking for them – you got to wonder why.  And then, the fruits of that surveillance was the basis for a lot of the anonymous sources that were fueling a lot of the contact stories between Trump and Russia, all this stuff.  I mean, you really have something that is a collusion, a political party with some government agencies, throw in some Russians to create this narrative that was effectively a false narrative.

So, we’re going to figure that out.  We’re going to get Fusion GPS.  They’ve already brought in Glenn Simpson.  You know, they fought everything tooth and nail, their bank records, and there’s a reason why they’re doing that.  So, we’ll get the truth on that.  It’s not going to be easy, but I think it will be very enlightening, and I think it will really shed light on this whole Trump-Russia issue.

And the final – well, not the final; I think the third biggest prong of this – Uranium One, Fusion GPS – the third one is Jim Comey and how he handled the Clinton investigation with the email.  You have an FBI director that is writing an exoneration letter 2 months before even interviewing the subject.  When they interview the subject, Comey doesn’t even show up – not under oath, no transcription, no recording.  You have other potential witnesses in the room, like Cheryl Mills.  And then when Comey does the exoneration press conference, which he was not supposed to do, his initial statement said that Hilary was grossly negligent in handling classified information, which is exactly what the statute says is a criminal offense. And that was edited out to be extremely careless, rather than grossly negligent.  So, the question is, who precipitated those edits?  Why did they want to edit it?  But I think that if you look at everything we already know and probably things we will know, and you compare the zealousness with which – say the Mueller investigation is trying to get anyone they can on anything, barging into Manafort’s house in the middle of the night, pulling guns on him for a white-collar crime, Papadopoulos, all this other stuff, the FBI and DOJ with Hillary.  They were very, very zealous, but the zealousness was in the opposite direction.  They were zealous in not making a case against her and doing everything they could to kind of make this thing go away.  And that’s a problem.  And it’s not even about Hillary, because quite frankly, I don’t care about the Clintons anymore, but I want to have a country in which these levers of power are not just simply manipulated based on who may be the target.  And if you happen to be somebody that doesn’t have the right connections, then the full weight of the government will come down on you.  But if you’re somebody who is different than that and may have the connections, well, then they’ll find a way to let you go.  That’s wrong, and Comey’s conduct is obviously at the center of that, as is Loretta Lynch.  And we’re going to have to get those answers.

Now, we are waiting on a report that the IG has been doing for almost a year now, and they need to produce that so that we can go forward.  But just getting the Comey memos, getting everything he was involved with, I think is going to be very important.  And we’ll do it, and we need to do it, and our voters want us to do it.  I think it’s so important, that as we’re trying to drain the swamp, as we’re trying to clear out the underbrush that has developed over many, many years, that we also take time to appreciate some of the good things that are happening now with the new administration.  And one of those is a much tougher and more effective fight against radical Islamic terrorism.

If you remember, Obama comes in – when I was serving in Iraq, we got Al Qaeda in Iraq out of Iraq, pushed them out, and there’s a lot of problems with the Iraq campaign, but at least we got Al Qaeda in Iraq out.  He came in, removed the small number of troops we had there, and ISIS, who is basically the same thing but a reincarnation of Al Qaeda in Iraq, had been staged in Syria.  They spread into Iraq, and they create a pretty big caliphate in a relatively short amount of time.  I mean, it was really, really scary.  Not only because of the damage they can do in the Middle East, but because of the propaganda network that flows from that.  That was inspiring people in the United States and Europe to commit acts of terrorism, even with no formal connection to ISIS.  And obviously ISIS was training terrorists as well.  And so, you had Obama basically saying it was the JV team, and then he was forced to engage, fighting with one hand tied behind our back.  Very restrictive rules of engagement.  And while there may have been some small successes overall, when Trump took office, ISIS was still a major threat.  What the president has done, a number of things, but I think the biggest thing is, taking the gloves off.  We’re not going to fight with one hand tied behind our back.  We’re going to empower the military to defeat the enemy.  And so, it’s been a massive roll back of ISIS. 

And I think that that’s important, and if you deny them a caliphate, that undercuts the value of their propaganda.  But I would say, and the administration hasn’t fully embraced this, you can kill the terrorists, and we should kill the terrorists, but unless you attack the underlying ideology that fuels terrorism, there will be new terrorists that will come forward.  And so, I think the administration has to, after being in office and studying it for 10 months, designate the Muslim Brotherhood as a foreign terrorist organization.  Those, like the Obama administration, that think the Brotherhood is part of the solution in the Middle East, are simply deluding themselves.  All you’ll be doing is fueling more of the foundation for terrorism in the future. 

And thankfully, we have a lot of allies in the Middle East who understand the dangers of the Brotherhood better than the United States does.  Al Sisi in Egypt is tougher on the Brotherhood than our State Department is.  UAE is tougher on the Brotherhood than our State Department is, and what people like Al Sisi understand is, ultimately, if you have an ideology that is telling you, you have to wage war against people who don’t submit to your world view, that’s really a recipe for unending conflict.  And Al Sisi is – he’s a devout Muslim, but he says look, that is not acceptable.  And he’s said that in front of clerics, probably at a risk of his life.  So, we have an opportunity to work with people like AlSisi, and I think the president’s done a good job of creating a pretty good and strong coalition so that the choice is not between Shiite in Baghdad and Iran or Sunni Arab terrorists, which you could actually have Sunni Arab societies that are not fueled by militant Islam.  I mean, that ultimately is where you need to go. 

And look, I’m a big critic of a lot of what Saudi Arabia has done over the years and how that society’s governed themselves, but there’s some good signs even happening there now if you look at what’s going on.  So I think the specter of Iran – what Obama did with Iran was obviously disastrous.  But it may now be having a beneficial effect in the sense that it is causing the people who view Iran as a threat to really come together. And I think if we can successfully put Iran back in the box, that will be a huge win for us.  But I think one of the upshots is we are in a much better position to fight militant Islam, not only in the Middle East but throughout the world.  In the Middle East though, I would say a lot of the terrorist groups that I think are going to be more significant going forward, very well may be Shiite terrorist groups, fueled by Iran, funded by Iran, based off the windfall they got from the nuclear deal.  I think in the United States and in Europe, a lot of the homegrown Jihad that you see will be Sunni Islamic Jihad, but I think in the Middle East, dealing with Hezbollah, dealing with the Shiite militias who are trying to attack the Kurds now and roll the Kurds back.  I think it’s a huge mistake for us not to stand by the Kurds.  They’ve been a very strong ally of ours.  We need to do that.  If you let the Kurds get rolled back and Iran continues to gather strength, you’ll have Iranian influence from Iran all the way to Israel’s doorstep into Syria.  I think that would be disastrous for the Middle East.

So, we’re getting much closer in terms of understanding the roots of terrorism.  I think the administration has got to pull the trigger on the Brotherhood designation, and then I think we’d be in a very good spot at that point.

The final thing I’ll say is, when we’re in these time of political conflict, there’s always political conflict and that’s fine.  But, we’re not really just arguing about should we tax consumption or should we tax imports, or the kind of traditional policy debates.  I think now the debate are just deeper.  It goes to kind of the core of who we are.  And I’m reminded of one of the Founding Fathers, Gouverneur Morris who, after the Constitution was ratified and the ship of state was launched, was asked about his reflections about what do you want to see with this new country.  And basically, he said what he wanted to see is a day in which no matter where you were on the face of the earth, that it would be enough to command respect simply to say I am an American.  And I think what he meant by that, it wasn’t necessarily that we were going to be the most powerful nation in the world, although I think they wanted us to be powerful.  It wasn’t necessarily that we’d be the wealthiest nation in the world, although I think they wanted us to be wealthy.  I think the respect came because saying I’m an American immediately transmitted to people what you stand for – the values that you hold.  Constitutional government, God-given liberty, the rule of law.  And, I wish this weren’t the case, but a lot of our debates now in politics are over the very first principles.  Do we actually believe in a Constitutional structure that the founders endorsed and created, or do we basically want to have a government run by a permanent bureaucracy with a lot of self-anointed elites who can run our lives better for us than we can do ourselves, and do we believe in the core tenants of Western civilization or not?  And that, unfortunately, is – these are live questions right now.  So, when we’re debating Obamacare repeal/replacement.  We’re debating judges.  When we’re debating all these things, terrorism, I think underlying that is what does mean to be an American.  And I’m proud to stand with the founding principles of our country.  Principles that have made us great, and I think principles that absolutely need to be rescued, saved and preserved.

So, it’s an honor to be here.  Thank you, guys.  God bless.

Moderator: Thank you, Congressman.  We have time for just one quick question, so make it a good one.  Does anybody have a question?  Right here to your left, sir.

Audience Member: In one of his recent commentaries, Dick Morris pointed out a law that was passed by Congress in 1995 which effectively shields members of Congress and their senior staff from any litigation awards resulting from sexual harassment.  Is that something that you think should be overturned now?

Rep. Ron DeSantis: So this is this ‘95 law that the media is reporting.  So I’ve basically told my staff, tell me what I can do to make it public and kind of uproot this.  To me, it seems like it’s part of the swamp.  However, I will tell you that as they’ve researched that, there’s like a list of this-many-million dollars that have been paid out, the vast, vast majority of that has not been harassment, it’s been age-discrimination, Americans with Disabilities, and it’s not just limited to the Congress.  It’s people that are affiliated with the legislative branch, so look, Congress is a swamp.  Congress will always try to exempt itself and protect itself.  That’s one of the reasons that I’ve introduced to propose a 28th Amendment that says, Congress shall make no law applying to the citizens of America that doesn’t apply to Congress.

But I don’t think that our initial research has suggested that the way that’s been characterized in the press has been misleading – that it actually has not been dealt with in terms of the sexual harassment stuff.  Now that may be part of it, so I think we need to get some more facts.  But, bottom line is – and actually that ‘95 law was passed because Congress had been exempt from a lot of the laws like ADA, Civil Rights, all that stuff, and so the intent of it was to make Congress actually have to live by those laws, as well as other agencies that may have been exempt from it.  So, we’ll look at it for sure, and my view is, is that this idea that you need all this crazy training, like the training I give my staff is very simple.  Don’t touch anyone that doesn’t want to be touched, and don’t say anything that you shouldn’t say.  I mean, really, that’s what you should do in terms of how you conduct yourself.  And, I’m not saying there’s not a problem with this, but the idea that people are doing this bad stuff because they’re not trained properly – no, a lot of these guys know it’s wrong, and they do it anyways, because they feel being in Washington, that they’re entitled to treat people disrespectfully.  And, you’re not entitled to do that.  So, you can do the training courses, but it’s the sense of entitlement that leads to a lot of the negative behavior.

Thank you, guys.  Appreciate it.