A change of plans and a series of misunderstandings between U.S. Congressman Mo Brooks, Huntsville’s local Tea Party, and local constituents who signed up for tickets to a canceled town hall led to a minor kerfuffle last week that nevertheless yielded some interesting phone cam videos. We were fascinated to hear what Mo had to say about what Republicans in Washington are thinking.
At the Huntsville Tea Party meeting at Whitesburg Baptist Church on Pulaski Pike on Feb. 9, audience members Ashley Ultim and Brent Caron both recorded portions of Mo’s comments, sharing them on Facebook or YouTube. Later, Deborah Barros-Smith arrived with friends and made her own video, also shared on YouTube with a boost from Daily Kos. These are all rough, hand-held phone recordings, and we are grateful to Ashley, Brent and Deborah for providing them.
The clips maybe be hard to hear at times, but we think more constituents should hear what Mo Brooks thinks about Democrats, about the budget and about the dangers of serving in Congress. Therefore a small team of volunteers has transcribed these videos (thank you!) in order to share the words of Alabama Republican Congressman Mo Brooks with the broader public. Brooks speaks of the fears some Republican members of Congress are projecting onto Democratic constituents, and describes a strategy to starve certain programs of the funds needed to function.
AL-05 – Madison County, in particular – has quite a large federal work force. No doubt many of them will be concerned by Brook’s offhand comment about their jobs:
The best tool Donald Trump probably has to reduce the size of the bureaucracy if he wants to do it – and if I get a one on one conversation with him I’m going to mention that – is just say ‘I don’t have the money – sorry – I gotta lay all these people off – I don’t have the money – we have a 600 billion dollar deficit this year – we’re 20 trillion dollars in debt…
The first two videos are very short. Each is accompanied with transcript. Some of the words missing here are very clear and more complete on later videos.
Ashley Video 1:
Congressman MO BROOKS speaking:
“…..hit the President’s desk and he will sign it. So, in the House, it’s like deja vu all over again, where we’re pulling out bills we’ve already passed before, and we’re gonna send them over to the Senate, and hopefully with Donald Trump exercising some of his persuasive abilities, the Senate will be more responsive.
Now…if there are people here who expect that ‘oh, alright, flood gates are gonna open up for good legislation–‘ it is not going to happen UNLESS the Senate gets rid of the filibuster. “
[At this point it appears that someone new enters the meeting in the back.]
BROOKS: “You have a device called Budget Reconciliation that will pass through the Senate theoretically once per year and you can tag on some legislation with that device, but the Senate parliamentarian, at least as of today, hasn’t changed the law because there is a lot of opinion about what you can and cannot do with Budget Reconciliation. Right now you cannot use it as a vehicle, by way of example, to repeal the Affordable Care Act if you wanted to.
[Then there is a short gap with no audio]
“….that the Republicans would expand the Harry Reid rule…which is also known as the nuclear option, that’s Harry Reid’s rule, and we will expand it one notch to the Supreme Court.”
(something about “to include all the cabinet appointments.”)
:05 MO: “….we’re twenty trillion dollars in debt. I certainly want to keep all these employees on——-but I don’t have money, I can’t pay ’em. So that is a tool that he can use, in my opinion, to severely reduce the bureaucratic elements, agencies, departments, that he does now want, and I think he can do it constitutionally. You cannot compel the President, at least to my knowledge, to spend money that we as a country do not have.
45: So is there a chance of prosecuting people like Lois Lerner?
>>>there is a short glitch here, but the transcript for this segment is clear on Brent’s video # 1)<<
Transcript starts back at 2:35 with question from audience member.
2:35 QUESTION: “…..compared to Hitler and Naziism and so forth, but there’s one area that I think has some reality to it across the nation that we see building…and that’s the violence and the protests and the beating up of other candidates supporters and so forth. Are there any activities within Congress to investigate that, is that something that’s on the radar of the Justice Department under , um, our former Senator , is that a—have any evidence–
[INTERRUPTED by red vest Mike Parsons, TP guy, former teacher at Butler]
“I’m gonna go ahead shut you down…..”
[But Mo seems to want the new arrivals to HEAR THIS.]
BROOKS: “Let me just finish that one –when we get threats of violence, and members of Congress get them on a periodic basis, even on a regular basis…..”
[Red vest guy interrupts “see who that guy is” referring to Patrick from WAFF]
BROOKS: “[garbled] capital police, and they, you know, I had –I don’t think anybody’s ever offered more than $30,000 to kill me…..other Congressman were worth more.”
Then the video skips to people leaving- –
The people arriving in the back and trying to ask a question in Ashley’s videos are the group with Deborah Barros Smith, the last video linked in this series.
Brent Caron made two short streams on Facebook Live then switched to recordings which he placed on YouTube later, a total of four clips.
First, Brent’s Facebook videos:
FAIR TAX https://www.facebook.com/brent.caron.98/videos/1363216503698528/
Mo: I am for a fair tax and I have cosponsored the bill in the past. And my staff knows to cosponsor it this year, so I assume I’ve already cosponsored it this year with Bob Woodall, a congressman from GA, I think that would be a great boon for the economy and certainly allow domestic production to have a much better competitive posture versus manufactured goods in other countries.
So that we are producing more here and consuming more of our Made in America stuff here because of the pricing advantages we have by going to the fair tax.
On all the Flat tax on 4 is a secondary position because it makes the IRS code simpler and eliminates some of the more egregious special interest favors that have been paid for by lobbyists over the decades and there are a lot of them. But when you start talking about tax reform. I have heard so many different versions of tax reform that I have decided I’m not going to pay attention to them til they’re actually introduced and get out of the ways and means committee and I might actually vote on them because they’re all over the map. OK?
Seems like every time you turn around someone’s floating another tax reform bill and in my experience it’s very unusual to actually get to vote on one. So why waste all that mental energy on that issue when you could be focusing that mental energy on bills that you’re fairly confident that you’re gonna be voting on. Now, [if a] tax bill comes up, you’ve got to go there and focus your mental energy on trying to figure out what’s in it so that you can cast what you think is the best vote.
But I wouldn’t pay too much attention right now to all these trial balloons that are being floated about all these different tax changes. Once a bill gets out of the ways and means committee, that’s when I’d start paying attention to it and if you want amendments to it, that’s the time when you start pushing those on the house floor.
Paul: Yes sir, thank you for coming tonight. We’ve heard a lot of complaints…
Mo: I’ll be back. I wasn’t planning to stay this long for Q&A, I was going to be relatively short but I’m happy to continue.
Paul: Thank you.
Mo: I am a Duke fan though, it’s Duke / Carolina night. I have recorded it.
Red vest: We will let Paul be the last one.
Mo: No, it, seriously, it can go on. It’s OK.
Paul: We’ve heard a lot of comparisons about some of our politicians being compared to Hitler and Nazism, but there’s one area that I think there’s some reality to it across the nation that we see building across the nation here and that’s the violence and the protests and the beating up of other candidates’ supporters and so forth. Are there any activities within congress to investigate that? Is that something that’s on the radar of the justice department under the former senator? Is that a concern that that type of violence, in my mind it’s in like with kind of brown shirts activities people are…
MO: Well the Democrats are in shock and they’re still dealing with how to deal with that shock. Um, some of them, um, some of the Democrat activists and particularly the more anarchist element of the Democratic party, perhaps the more criminal element in the Democratic party, um, they are resorting to criminal activity. That’s some small number, but it’s still a number. Have no idea how big it is. But we do know…
Paul: (interrupting) Do you know if there’s a conspiracy going on here with funding…
Mo: But we do know that it’s resulted in violence and arson in Cal Berkeley and in Washington. At least one car has been burned to the ground, a limousine in downtown Washington. We’ve had vandalism of buildings by these Democrat activists and anarchists. And we’ve had a number of people who have in fact conservative values and the values that made our country great, assaulted and left unconscious that’s how badly beaten and battered they were. I’m hopeful that that will diminish over time but it seems that the Democrats…..
[END OF BRENT’S CLIP]
[Statement continues on Barros-Smith video] “…but it seems that the Democrats are inciting them to a greater and greater degree. Particularly at some of our universities. Like at Cal Berkeley. And then they use venomous language, demonizing people by calling them racists, um, and things like that. That is to incite more violence. And so we will have to see, uh, how that, uh, plays out.”
MO BROOKS: I don’t think anyone’s ever offered more than $30,000 to kill me. I think that’s the most, or in that ballpark. Other congressmen are worth more.
Mo: But that’s what happens. The capital police get involved very quickly, and they intervene.
Red vest: OK, We’d like to thank Congressman Brooks for showing up.
Mo: And I’ll be back
Red Vest: also Hopkins, NRA, 2nd Amendment kind of guy
[Assistant announces the snacks.]
[Voice in the back] : Congressman Brooks. Congressman Brooks. Can I ask a question? Why am I being ignored?
Red Vest: Sorry.
[More of this is on the Barros-Smith video.]
Brent’s Mo Brooks video 1:
Mo: … five or ten years ago , but somehow or another Donald Trump figured out better than anybody else, and so that’s what can be done. Communicating with people. I’m going to come under attack and a lot of it is going to be lies and some of it is going to be true. OK? And the hard part is figuring out what the truth is. Someone has a legitimate disagreement with me on a public policy issue, they attack me and they may be 100% accurate in what they say, and that’s fine. That’s how it’s supposed to work in a republic.
On the other hand, and you’ve seen this probably for more public figures than you can count, particularly when it emanates from the mainstream news media, they just make up stuff. I’ve never seen, when I first got into politics in 1980s when I was elected in 1982, there was some degree of professionalism in the news media and pride. And while they were biased politically one way or the other, they tried to suppress that and be good journalists. That is all gone now. That breed, there may still be some of them, but there are not very many of them.
So you have to, if you can help out just by communicating with people and trying to persuade them with what you believe is the correct public policy and if I’m on board with you on that then kind of mention my name as you defend your position, that would help out quite a bit.
1:28 Audience Member 1: Is it OK if I get a (?next week?) broadcast?
Blue Shirt: I think he has to hold off on that.
Mo: It’s whatever y’all want to do.
Red Vest: Right here for the next question.
1:34 Audience member 2: (Difficult to hear) Yeah, mine is kind of a two-part question. I, uh, I’m concerned about the disabled veterans in Alabama. I’m originally from Georgia and they for a while had a pretty good setup there to work with disabled veterans there but now liberals have been with it now. But now I’m about get an Alabamian.
But I want to know what the, uh, state is going to do to help the veterans because I’ve asked (names?) and a few people to help the veterans in like the VA hospital and things like that, and then the second part of that question is that I support the police department because we also have to get people in there who’s going to be willing to invest those investigate some of those who are not following the law like they should, I’m all for the police department and supporting our local police. But there’s some out there that’s not actually following the law and you can go…..
Red Vest: (interrupting) What’s your question?
2:40 Audience member 2: Question is, is there going to be something coming out so that the fair cops can get their what-they-need, and the Not Fair can get what they need or they deserve? And the veterans, are they going to get their support?
2:56 Mo: Well, you mention, “What are the states going to do,” and I’m the wrong person to ask that because I’m not a state senator. So, that would be the governor, lieutenant governor, and your legislators. They can call and ask. Most of the VA is federal. Ok?
Um, the thing that is hamstringing us federally is we have this huge deficit and debt. Quite frankly, just be ready for it.
Our country is going to go into insolvency and bankruptcy. The question is just when, but it’s a high high high probability that it’s going to happen, and there are some of us who are trying to be financially responsible but we are in a very small minority in Washington where it’s easier to say yes to everybody, spend money you don’t have, and then you get elected again. OK?
So there aren’t a whole lot of people who are driven by the threat of debilitating solvency and bankruptcy. I mention that because Donald Trump says that he’s going to make our veterans a high priority and congress has been trying to do the same, but in order to do so in a financially responsible manner, you have to divert monies from elsewhere which gets people mad.
4:05 And I’m more than happy to divert money from foreign aid, direct and indirect aid is about 50 million dollars a year. I’m more than happy to divert money from 87 welfare programs that cost about $800 billion dollars a year, and $800 billion is more than we spend on national defense, just to put it in perspective. And that is not counting Medicare or Social Security. Those are a separate part from the 87 welfare programs and I distinguish Medicare and Social Security because those are earned benefits that you pay taxes on to be able to get.
8:18 Now on the law enforcement side, whether our law enforcement officers are going to be treated fairly, that is 90+% a local issue controlled by your police chiefs and sheriff’s department and the commission. The 10% that is federal is trying to make sure that the Justice Department is not unfairly targeting law enforcement officers who are doing a good job inspecting and stuff and they get falsely accused of things all the time. During the last administration, you probably saw a good number of instances where good law enforcement officers at a minimum were publicly abused, uh, verbally abused by this administration. In fairness, (inaudible) (To red vest) How about you choose who’s next.
Red Vest (Mike Parsons): Yeah, I’m gonna go right back here
5:37 Audience Member 3: Earlier on you mentioned the democrats strategy. What is congress’s anti-strategy and is it being implemented right now to expedite the appointment of the president’s nominees?
5:56 Mo: Well the president is going to get all of his nominees confirmed in the Senate, short of the supreme court justice, and I can say that close to 100% certainty but there will be delay. The only way to speed it up is for Mitch McConnell and the 52 republican senators to decide to speed it up. And to date, they have given the Democratic senators great discretion and leeway to kind of run out the clock.
In the House, we have no vote on the cabinet members or the supreme court nominees or any judicial nominees and we are rocking right along and we are passing a bunch of legislation as we’ve done every year that I’ve been in congress with the hope, maybe less forlorn than it has been in the past, but with the hope that the Senate will actually bring them up and pass them, and it will get to the president’s desk and he will sign it.
8:19 So, in the House, it’s dejavu all over again. We’re pulling out bills to a certain degree that we’ve already passed before and we’re going to send them over to the Senate, and hopefully with Donald Trump exercising some of his persuasive abilities, the Senate will be more responsive. Now here’s, if there are people here who expect, “Oh right, the flood gates are gonna open up on good legislation,” it is not going to happen unless the Senate gets rid of the filibuster rule, ok?
7:33 You have a device called Budget Reconciliation that can pass through the Senate theoretically once per year and you can tag along some legislation with that device but the Senate parliamentarian at least as of today and that could change tomorrow because there’s a lot of opinion as to what you can and cannot do with budget reconciliation.
8:02 Right now you cannot use that as a vehicle by way of example to repeal the Affordable Care Act if you wanted to. And you can only use it once per year, maybe I should say once per fiscal year. Now this year, we are actually going to get 2 because we never did pass….(end)
Brent’s Mo Brooks video #2
:03 And on a positive note I think there’s a reasonable chance if the Democrats filibuster Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee – that – the Republicans will expand the Harry Reid rule(inaudible) … what you all want to call it (…) which is also known as the nuclear option … it’s really Harry Reid’s rule – that we will expand it one notch to the Supreme Court… Harry Reid expanded it to include all the cabinet appointments so now the Democrats right now are getting hammered ‘cause that rule’s being used against them
:38 and the lower court justices. So the court of appeals judges and the trial court judges – now are no longer subject to filibuster (inaudible) Harry Reid… moderator: Larry?
:50 (Larry, off camera) Is there any chance that we can clean out the bureaucracies of these Leftists that are doing things in there (Brooks looks down at the floor) – like the Lois Lerners – she may have been an appointee at some point and others like her I don’t know… and also is there a possibility of paring back drastically some of these unconstitutional bureaucracies like the EPA?
1:10 (Brooks) Um… well… keep in mind what I just said about needing votes… that’s going to be a big limitation  with respect to the bureaucracy – generally there are some number of thousands – it’s less than ten thousand, probably less than five thousand – political appointees
1:30 and yeah – those under Obama – clean sweep … all or almost all are gonna be gone … and there’ll be a new set coming in under Donald Trump… similarly when Donald Trump is out of office in 4 or 8 years – new president – clean sweep – new batch comes in, okay… they’re the ones who are supposed to be establishing the policy within each of the departments
1:53 the best tool Donald Trump probably has to reduce the size of the bureaucracy if he wants to do it – and if I get a one on one conversation with him I’m going to mention that – is just say ‘I don’t have the money – sorry – I gotta lay all these people off – I don’t have the money – we have a 600 billion dollar deficit this year – we’re 20 trillion dollars in debt – um, I certainly will keep all these people on if Congress will pass the revenue [unclear] necessary to give me the money, but I don’t have the money – I can’t pay them…
2:28 (Larry) is there a chan…
2:28 (Brooks) …so that is a tool that he could use – in my opinion – to severely reduce the bureaucratic elements – agencies, departments – that he does not want – and yeah – I think he can do it constitutionally – um, you cannot compel a president – at least to my knowledge – to spend money that we as a country do not have
2:52 (Larry) so is there a chance of prosecuting people like Lois Lerners – other people – I know Lois Lerners has kind– that one’s done – but go after some of these people that…
2:58 (Brooks) that – that is now up to Attorney General Jeff Sessions within the confines of the statute of limitations… By way of example, I am convinced that there is a compelling – beyond reasonable doubt case – against Hillary Clinton – okay?
3:20 (Larry) yes
3:21 (Brooks) um – I am somewhat familiar with – the need to protect – classified documents – and the extraordinary lengths we go to in the House and the Senate when we have classified briefings to protect that information – heck, I can’t take a cell phone in there – I can’t take my iPad in there – they’ll give me pieces of paper that I can look at – which are collected before I leave – okay – and, and Hillary Clinton was a senator – she went through that same process – she knew what the rules were
3:55 (side comment from moderator) and she was [unclear] … classified
3:58 (Brooks) and she intentionally put those documents at risk – um – using a system that was insecure – and under the law, I think, she could be prosecuted – I don’t know if Donald Trump and Jeff Sessions would do that – as a matter of political [unclear] – in order to not further split America – they might not prosecute her for the things she’s guilty of ….
4:30 and then there’s another one that, in my opinion needs to be investigated, is the hundreds of millions of dollars relating to the Clinton Foundation and what the quid pro quos were in terms of governmental access – and that also is dangerous – and that is also a criminal offense if in fact there is a quid pro quo – but there ought to be an investigation of that, too – um, but I don’t know what Jeff Sessions is going to do as attorney general – that – uh – that’s just a couple of things that came to mind… he’s going to have… (end)
We have not transcribed Deborah Barros-Smith’s 20-minute long video other than using it to fill in missing quotes above, but note what happens as the meeting ends. At 4:15 we hear “Congressman Brooks, may I ask a question?” At 4:30 Mike Parsons) says it is private property. In the parking lot, another constituent shows that she had tickets and around 6:50 plays a voice mail from the office of Mo Brooks.
Two days before these videos were made, Politico reported “House Republicans during a closed-door meeting Tuesday discussed how to protect themselves and their staffs from protesters storming town halls and offices in opposition to repealing Obamacare.” This links Mo’s reluctance to hold a public town hall with a larger pattern nationally. In recent days we have seen even more examples in the news of Republicans stoking fears of their constituents.
Continue to speak out and express your views to your representatives in Congress with phone calls, post cards, meetings, marches and public events, but try not to scare them so badly that they can’t get the message, because fear shuts down rational thought.