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Rep. Eric Swalwell Reacts To Trump's Decision To Not Brief Democrats On ISIS Raid

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

To the latest impeachment news now. And word from Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi that the House will vote on a resolution formalizing the impeachment inquiry - the vote is set for Thursday. To explain what Democrats are hoping to accomplish here, we are joined by one of them - democratic Congressman Eric Swalwell of California. He sits on the judiciary and intelligence committees.

Congressman, welcome back.

ERIC SWALWELL: Thanks for having me back.

KELLY: Why is this step needed?

SWALWELL: Well, we're in the process right now of doing depositions. But soon, we will have open hearings. And you know, this just will lay out, you know, what exactly will be open for the American people. But we have been doing an impeachment inquiry for the last, you know, several weeks here, and I think it demonstrates that a next - new phase is coming.

KELLY: Well, that gets to my next question, which is - what has changed? - because Nancy Pelosi had resisted wanting to do a formal vote on the impeachment inquiry. She'd resisted it for weeks. So what changed?

SWALWELL: We still (ph) believe that there's no, you know, requirement to have an impeachment vote. However, just because we're going to have open hearings in short order, when we finish the depositions, this will put forward for the American people to see, you know, what the process will be. It'll involve Republicans, just as the deposition portion has involved them, too.

Also, it will call, essentially, the president's bluff that the only reason he's not turning over witnesses and documents is because of a lack of this vote. Now, that's not to say anyone really expects the president to go along with that. I think he will continue to obstruct. But it will take away another, I think, process argument that they've been making.

KELLY: When you refer to calling their bluff, this is a reference to the letter from the White House counsel saying we're not going to cooperate in any way, shape or form because - in part, because the House had not formally voted to pursue an impeachment inquiry. But it sounds as though you're expecting the White House is not going to suddenly start bending over backwards to cooperate even if you do hold that vote and even if it passes.

SWALWELL: We don't. We see - we saw today an obstructive act of the White House telling a witness, you know, not to cooperate. And that witness did not come forward - Mr. Kupperman from the National Security Council, former deputy sec - deputy adviser there. And we view that, frankly, as not an invitation to go fight them in the courts but as obstruction of Congress, a consciousness of guilt and something for us to consider as we look at what articles of impeachment this president should be exposed to.

KELLY: Let me leave that there and change gears while I've got you. I want to ask about the death over the weekend of the founder and leader of ISIS, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. What does his death mean? What's the significance as you see it?

SWALWELL: Well, it was a good and just day for America and any country affected by ISIS. It also, I believe, you know, signals that the Kurds are valuable partners to us because, by their own admission, they played a assist - an assisting role in leading to his ultimate demise. What bothers me, though, is that this president chose not to inform Speaker Pelosi or the Democrats of this operation, as President Obama had done prior to the bin Laden raid. Instead, he told Russia first. And he went farther than that and said that he can't trust Speaker Pelosi or Chairman Schiff with these types of secrets despite his own leaking, in the past, to the Russians in the Oval Office. I think that is a grave mistake.

KELLY: Although in the moments we have left, let we press you on this. I mentioned you're on the intelligence committee. You get regular intelligence briefings. You knew U.S. intelligence and military forces were looking for Baghdadi and that when they found him they weren't going to sit and offer him a cup of tea. What is the harm if you don't know specific details about timing of a raid and so on?

SWALWELL: It affects Congress' ability to conduct oversight. It's been done in the past by both parties. And it just signals this president's lack of respect. And I think it shows where his loyalty really lies. He put Russia ahead of the speaker of the House of the United States. All roads lead to Putin, as the speaker has said.

KELLY: That is Congressman Eric Swalwell of California. Congressman, thanks again for your time.

SWALWELL: My pleasure. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.