Attorney General Skrmetti on TikTok’s Refusal to Provide Documents: If a Company’s Behavior Is Sufficiently Egregious, State Law ‘Allows Me to Ask a Court to Ban That Company from Ever Doing Business in Tennessee Again’

Attorney General Skrmetti on TikTok’s Refusal to Provide Documents: If a Company’s Behavior Is Sufficiently Egregious, State Law ‘Allows Me to Ask a Court to Ban That Company from Ever Doing Business in Tennessee Again’

Live from Music Row, Tuesday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – host Leahy welcomed Tennessee Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti to the newsmaker line to discuss the amicus brief filed against Chinese-owned TikTok and the possibility of litigation that could outlaw its platform in the state.

Leahy: On the newsmaker line right now, our good friend and, I think the very best state attorney general in the country, Tennessee Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti. Good morning General Skrmetti.

Skrmetti: Good morning. How are you?

Gulbransen: Good morning.

Leahy: We’re glad to have you on, and I know you’re traveling and doing a lot of work around the state. Our lead story at The Tennessee Star. You are leading 46 states to demand that China-based TikTok comply with your multi-state investigation. You’ve asked for records, and they’re not providing them. Tell us about that.

Skrmetti: In any of these big multi-state investigations, we send out investigative requests using some legal tools we have, and in every other case, even when they don’t like it, companies send us the information to send us. In this case, TikTok has sent us almost nothing.

They have taken steps to ensure that evidence is being destroyed as far as we can tell. And what they have given us, they’ve provided it in a format you can’t understand. It looks like it was deliberately made to be unreadable. They have been abstracting in ways that I haven’t seen this from a legitimate business.

Leahy: They’re Chinese owned, and they also have confirmed that TikTok they have not disabled a feature on its internal communication platform that allows the automatic deletion of messages within seven days. According to your own office, why are they such scofflaws toward the duly authorized attorneys general in the United States?

Skrmetti: It’s incredible. When you have all the attorneys general working together as you have here, which is a pretty rare occurrence, that’s a serious signal to a corporation, that they’re under significant scrutiny and that this is a serious investigation.

And every other time that I’ve seen this, even where companies fought tooth and nail and disagreed vigorously with every theory we had about why they were liable, they still produced what they needed to produce, and they still preserved what they needed to preserve.

TikTok is an extreme outlier in my experience, and that’s why we went to the court. Ordinarily, you can resolve these with some conversations, and everybody understands that at the end of the day, they’re going to have to produce what they have to produce, and they grudgingly go along with it.

I think the fact that you have so many states signing onto a brief in a Tennessee state court, which is very unusual, is a strong signal here that this is not an everyday occurrence.

Leahy: Usually, when you see other attorneys general file an amicus brief, it’s usually in cases in federal court. And so you’ve gone to Tennessee state court, they’re joining with the amicus brief to get this information from Chinese-owned TikTok.

The issue here is that they’re collecting data on Americans and may not have the best of intentions for that. A very unusual situation. Where does this whole investigation go now that you’ve asked the court to tell them to produce these documents?

Skrmetti: The court will want them to produce the documents. We’re going to get the documents. Working hard on this for quite some time. Kids have been consulting birds looking at the impact of social media on kids, looking at what exactly it is the company does that’s causing problems.

What we need is transparency with respect to each specific company we’re looking at. And I expect we will likely file a lawsuit. The evidence we get is consistent with what we think we’ll get. And plus the company. Want to resolve this reasonably upfront; we are going to pursue this as far as necessary to protect our kids.

Leahy: This is my personal view, not your view, but my personal view is a TikTok is a tool of the Chinese Communist Party to obtain information about American citizens that they’re going to use in a way that harms our national security.

My personal feeling is that TikTok should be banned from the United States of America. Do you think that is an outcome that might result from some of your investigative work here and your litigation?

Skrmetti: I know we’re not the only ones looking at TikTok. I know that proposals at the federal level of various things. I also know that there’s a provision of Tennessee law that if a company’s behavior is sufficiently egregious, it allows me to ask a court to ban that company from ever doing business in Tennessee again.

And depending on the severity of the conduct in a given case, that may be appropriate. So we’re considering all options. I have a great team working on this nationally. We have a great team working on this from all the different states teaming up. We’re bringing our big guns to this fight.

Leahy: It seems to me then, if we were working towards a path where you as the attorney general of Tennessee could, in essence, bring litigation that would ban TikTok from operating in the state of Tennessee what would happen in the other states? In the United States, if that were the outcome that this ends up having?

Skrmetti: Each state has its own law, its own remedies, and its own lawsuits. And I don’t know whether other states have that capability or not. I suspect many of them do. I’ve never seen that invoked against a significant business interest. Usually, it’s reserved for your little fly-by-night scammers.

So I really don’t know what that world would look like. We’re so early. It’s really hard to predict exactly how that will play out. I just know that we have seen significant harm to kids. It’s all been nationally reported.

If you look at the mental health statistics, we are going to use every tool at our disposal, and I’m gonna use every tool at my disposal to protect our kids. So if that includes pulling out that, that hasn’t really been used we’ll do that. Good thing.

Leahy: Now, personally, this is me talking, not you personally. I’m all in favor of that. You said that this is something in Tennessee that’s been used to stop fly-by-night scammers.

My view on TikTok is that they have used this entertainment angle to become an international, fly-by-night scammer harming the national security of the United States and the welfare of children in America.

Listen to today’s show highlights, including this interview:

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Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to The Tennessee Star Reporwith Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.














Simon and Leahy: The Race for the 2024 GOP Presidential Nomination Is Now Donald Trump, Ron DeSantis, Dark Horse Vivek, and the Munchkins

Simon and Leahy: The Race for the 2024 GOP Presidential Nomination Is Now Donald Trump, Ron DeSantis, Dark Horse Vivek, and the Munchkins

Live from Music Row Thursday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – host Leahy welcomed all-star panelist Roger Simon in studio to discuss the 2024 GOP presidential nomination race.

Leahy: Roger Simon is in the studio with us. Roger is our all-star panelist. Roger, I recently turned 68 years old.

Simon: A kid!

Leahy: A kid! A real spring chicken. I have never in my life been more concerned that we are on the brink of World War III…

Simon: With good reason.

Leahy: Than I am today. My take on this is we have as our leader, our legal but not legitimate commander in chief, perhaps the worst foreign policy decision-maker ever.

Simon: I’ll tell you when it started.

Leahy: When did this start?

Simon: There’s an absolutely easy way to say it. On day one of the Biden administration, when he put the brakes on the Keystone Two pipeline, Vladimir Putin went, yay! Because that changed the whole global picture of energy.

The United States, which formally could have been giving all the energy that Europe needed to provide it in a war against Putin, was over. And Putin said to himself, oh, boy, we got an idiot in the White House and I’m on the move. And that’s when it happened.

Leahy: When you put it that way, Roger, I think you’re probably right. That was the beginning of it.

Simon: And during the Trump administration, the media was complaining, oh, Trump loves Putin, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. But Putin didn’t do anything. All of sudden day one, it’s all over.

Leahy: And let’s come back a little bit back to the 2020 election. The reason that Trump and so many others fought so hard against the way the election irregularities went through the process, the reason that they fought so hard against that is because they knew that Biden’s weakness would lead to a decline in American interest in a big way.

Simon: His weakness plus greed. Anybody with IQ over 100 should be able to tell that the Biden family was totally corrupt with not only Russia but China. Now we have Xi making an alliance with Putin. Nothing could be worse than that.

Leahy: I agree completely. I had the opportunity to talk to somebody over the weekend who is a Navy pilot, and I’d ask him, what happens if there’s a war with China? And he had a three-word answer to that. We all die.

Simon: What else could it be?

Leahy: That’s not good. I don’t want to die.

Simon: It might be good for space aliens to come and take over the planet or something, but that’s about the only person they could be for whatever they’re called.

Leahy: I don’t want to die. I don’t want to die. Our children don’t want to die.

Simon: No. Who does? But if there’s a single Democrat out there listening to this, I would review how you make your decisions. I really would seriously do that. I used to be a Democrat.

Leahy: I was, too, until 1984.

Simon: You are a victim of hypnosis now of the worst sort, and because this is so clear and so evident that it’s almost tragic. And I don’t even know how these people do it. Have you all had a lobotomy? What’s going on?

Leahy: Well, there’s some of that. I do think, though, that combination of the worst possible commander-in-chief for this moment in history, because he has a combination of greed, arrogance…

Simon: Stupidity.

Leahy: Unwarranted stupidity, and unwarranted aggressiveness. And you put them all together, and you are moving toward World War III.

Simon: Now, let’s hope it won’t happen.

Leahy: No, I agree.

Simon: Let’s hope and pray, but also pay real attention at the ballot box because this ain’t going away.

Leahy: So here’s the thing. We are now in February of 2023.

Simon: You had to check your phone for that?

Leahy: Yes. February 2023. And, Roger, the next president will not be inaugurated until January 2025.

Simon: This is a long while.

Leahy: This is a year and 10 months. What I am concerned about is, first, it is going to be a huge battle and an uphill battle, I believe, for whoever the Republican nominee is to win the Electoral College and become president. It’s going to be a huge battle. It’s winnable.

Simon: Yes. But it will be a huge battle. It is winnable. And I think they really have to concentrate on what has gone wrong and really explain it to people in very clear teams. We need a really articulate person. Watching Hannity last night, I don’t believe any of the ones.

So far, there are only three people who I think are articulate enough to explain it. One is Trump. He’s very good at that. And the other is DeSantis. And the third one is Vivek. Vivek. I think the rest of them forget it. They shouldn’t even be there.

Leahy: You would then agree with me, and my new characterization of the 2024 race for the GOP nomination is Donald Trump, Ron DeSantis, dark horse Vivek, and the Munchkins.

Simon: Absolutely agree.

Leahy: I think that’s a good way to describe it.

Simon: Also elevates Vivek, which will elevate the discussion. The best part about his running, I think he is a dark horse and is unlikely to win, although anything is possible. But on the debate stage, he is going to make this thing much more interesting.

Leahy: And he will advance an agenda that needs to be discussed.

Simon: Exactly.

Leahy: And that is going to be very important.

Simon: The rest of them are just cliche-ridden. Same old, same old.

Leahy: I listened to Pence the other night, and I thought, which cliche are we going to throw out now?

Simon: (Chuckles) It’s quite amazing.

Leahy: What a snore fest he is.

Simon: They don’t realize it. And even Haley’s very old-fashioned. And listening to Tim Scott last night on the Hannity show, my eyes were rolling backward. What is that guy doing? Nothing of importance.

Leahy: So let’s talk about this. Let’s assume that we are able to win the presidency back for Republicans and how we’re going to make it through the next year and 10 months. I’m very worried about that.

Simon: Prayer helps.

Leahy: Yes, that’s good. Is there anything that can be done given the current structure of our military decision-making and the woke military? It seems like a very bad formula.

Simon: People like us have a big contribution to make, which is to point it out.

Leahy: Keep talking.

Simon: Writing and talking and getting the information out there. One of the real problems and I hope the listeners can help with this, is that we are preaching to the choir most of the time.

Leahy: And we got to get it out to the other folks.

Listen to today’s show highlights, including this interview:

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Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to The Tennessee Star Reporwith Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.
Photo “Vivek Ramaswamy” by Vivek Ramaswamy. 














National Security Expert Bill Gertz: Biden’s Weak Response to China Spy Balloon Yet Another Example of America’s Current ‘Woefully Inadequate’ Leadership

National Security Expert Bill Gertz: Biden’s Weak Response to China Spy Balloon Yet Another Example of America’s Current ‘Woefully Inadequate’ Leadership

Live from Music Row, Friday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – host Leahy welcomed Washington Times reporter and national security expert Bill Gertz to the newsmaker line to comment on the Chinese spy balloon and the intentions of current U.S. leadership.

Leahy: On the newsmaker line, our very good friend, the great national security correspondent with The Washington Times, Bill Gertz. Good morning, Bill.

Gertz: Good morning.

Leahy: I’m reminded of this Babylon Bee headline. I don’t know if you saw this. Chinese spy balloon shot down after it’s completed all the spying. You’ve written just recently that balloons serve multiple roles in Chinese warfare. Chinese military confirms snub of U.S. Defense Secretary Austin’s call over balloon. What do you make of this Chinese spy balloon?

Gertz: It’s really a sputnik moment going back to the days of the space race. I think it was a real wake-up call for most Americans to see that China is not some far-away threat, that it’s a here-and-now threat to the United States, albeit an intelligence threat. But let’s not forget that the Pentagon has identified electromagnetic pulse weapons as a threat.

And so they could have flown a nuclear warhead on a balloon and dropped it and detonated it over one of the large cities which would have blacked out all of the electronics over there. So I think the key takeaway from this whole incident is that China can reach out and touch us. And I think that’s really an important wake-up call for most Americans.

Leahy: To me, it seems ingenious that they use balloons for this purpose not just to gather intelligence, but they could use it for military purposes. Our leadership, from Joe Biden to Joint Chief of Staff Chair Milley to Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, I’m going to use a word, they seem feckless to me. Your thoughts?

Gertz: I kind of agree with you. Clearly, the mishandling of this was evident in the fact that the Biden administration is launching what I would call a neo-appeasement approach. That means they’re getting ready to revert to the older policies where we look the other way for Chinese human rights abuses and nuclear arms proliferation in order to somehow avoid a future conflict with China.

It’s the opposite of the policy of Ronald Reagan, which was peace through strength. Instead, they’ve adopted what I call a war avoidance policy. And this is really dangerous. I think that we really need to stand up to the Chinese. They’ve made it clear that they want to dominate the world, and the main obstacle to dominating the world is the United States.

So they’re working very covertly through things like fentanyl shipments and undermining our system here and promoting communist ideology to try and undermine and ultimately destroy the U.S.

Carmichael: Bill, this is Crom Carmichael. My question is there are lots of folks in the media who are supportive, in fact, most people in the media are supportive of the Biden administration and his worldview. What would it take to wake them up, or is it even possible for them to be awakened? Are they kind of part of the communist plot?

Gertz: A lot of the mainstream liberal media just signed on to the Democratic Party. And the Democratic Party has kind of been taken over by a lot of radical leftists and I think that’s really the main issue. So you have this reflection in the mainstream media that, oh, China is not really a threat.

In fact, I think the far-left in the U.S. looks at China as the ideological future. This is a communist system that they think works. Unlike the Soviet Union, which collapsed back in 1991, the Chinese have tried to find ways of forcing their economy to work.

Although right now, their economy is in trouble, which is one reason they’re trying to revert back to some of the more COVID policies of pretending to be a capitalist system, when in fact, they’re really a nuclear-armed communist dictatorship.

Leahy: Yes. And I look at this, and I think of what former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said about Joe Biden. They asked him, has Joe Biden ever been right on any foreign policy issue? And Secretary Gates said I can’t think of one time he’s been right. He’s been wrong; it seems to me. And he’s brought in dunderheads underneath him, Mark Milley and Lloyd Austin, who make the wrong decisions to advance the cause of our enemy; it seems to me almost as if they are covertly cooperating. Now that’s a little bit out there, but what are your thoughts when I say something like that?

Gertz: First, Lloyd Austin reached out to his counterpart in China immediately after we shot down the balloon last week, and the Chinese said no thanks. And yet the Pentagon issued a statement saying, well, we think it’s so important to talk with the Chinese. The Pentagon has had this military-to-military exchange program with China for decades, and the whole point is to try and “build trust.”

And they misunderstand the nature of the Chinese military. It’s not a national army like our U.S. Army. It’s a party army. His main job is to defend the Communist Party of China. On General Milley, we had the case where back during the Trump administration, he actually called his Chinese military counterpart and said, oh, we think you’ve misunderstood us, we think you’re going to attack us, and we’re going to attack you.

But we’re not. And if we do, I would warn you in advance. A lot of Republicans on Capitol Hill thought that was treasonous, but he defended it, saying there was some kind of intelligence. Yet I spoke with top officials of the Trump administration, and they said there was never any intelligence that China thought the U.S. was going to attack them. So these are the two top defense leaders that have really shown themselves to be woefully inadequate.

Leahy: I think you’re kind to just call them woefully inadequate. I look at their actions, Bill, and I got to tell you, and I don’t want to get you in trouble on this, right, but I look at it, and I think their actions are treasonous. Both of them. Both Milley and Lloyd Austin. And I think that a patriotic American president would fire them immediately. Your thoughts?

Gertz: Republicans have recently just taken over the House of Representatives, and they have formed a special commission on China. So, hopefully, I think these two issues, the actions of Lloyd Austin and General Milley should be part of that investigation.

They should do a thorough investigation, bring them before this committee, and have them testify on explaining what they’re doing and whether or not what they’re doing is wrong.

Leahy: Is that the special committee headed up by Mike Gallagher, the congressman from Wisconsin?

Gertz: Yes. I have great hopes.

Leahy: He’s a very sharp guy. I have confidence in him.

Gertz: Yes.

Leahy: You’ve been doing this at a high level of excellence for, what, three decades now? Maybe more than that.

Gertz: It’s been a good run. (Chuckles)

Leahy: You’re a great American and a great reporter, and we are honored to have you on The Tennessee Star Report. Thank you so much for joining us today.

Gertz: Thank you for having me on.

Listen to today’s show highlights, including this interview:

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Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to The Tennessee Star Reporwith Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.
Photo “Bill Gertz” by Bill Gertz. Background Photo “U.S. Capitol” by Wendy Maxwell.


All Star Panelist Clint Brewer on China: ‘We Have Not Economically and Politically Drawn a Line in the Sand with Them’

All Star Panelist Clint Brewer on China: ‘We Have Not Economically and Politically Drawn a Line in the Sand with Them’


Live from Music Row Thursday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. –  host Leahy welcomed all-star panelist Clint Brewer in studio to weigh in on the new book by Peter Schweizer, Red Handed and how many of politicans on both sides of the isle are connected monetarily with the Chinese state.

Leahy: You know, Clint, every time you’re on, I get a lot of texts and people like the interaction.

Brewer: Good.

Leahy: Some don’t agree with you, though.

Brewer: That’s okay. I probably don’t agree with them.

Leahy: But this is the reason you’re here, because we unlike, I don’t know, CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS, like the free and fair exchange of ideas.

Brewer: The delta, the difference between how we view things is like a 20, 30 percent.

Leahy: 10 percent maybe, but depends on the issue.

Brewer: It depends on the topic.

Leahy: Yeah. But they like it when we disagree. Okay.

Brewer: Let’s find some stuff to disagree about before the hour is up.

Leahy: (Chuckles) Alright, Clint Brewer. Now this is something I don’t know if we’ll disagree on this, but let us present the information. You know, at The Star News Network, The Tennessee Star and all of our 10 state outlets, soon to be 15, then to be 25 by the end of the year, if all goes well.

We are moving towards not just radio, but we are a multimedia operation doing video. And we have brought on board two nationally recognized journalists.

Neil W. McCabe, who was my colleague at Breitbart. We worked with Pat Cadell, by the way on doing some of the polling in 2016.

And then Dr. Susan Berry, an education expert, has joined us. But Neil spent three years at One America News. And so we are taking him and he is going out and talking to the newsmakers in all our states and getting exclusive stories.

Now, the big, big story out there right now has to do with the expose that the journalist Peter Schweizer put together on his new book. I think it was number one at Amazon. Red Handed. How American and Elites Get Rich Helping China Win.

So Neil McCabe went down, we flew him down to Tallahassee, Florida, where Schweizer has his offices. And we got a 90 minutes exclusive interview. And we have a series of clips that you can go to The Tennessee Star and watch.

And the stories are there, the one that we found most interesting and the one we’re going to talk about right now and you’ll hear this is a long clip.

It’s about two minutes, but we’re going to play it and we’ll like to get your reaction to it. The headline: Mitch McConnell Linked to Chinese Communist Party Through Wife’s Family.

(McCabe clip plays)

In his new book Red Handed investigative journalist Peter Schweizer documents how the Senate’s top Republican, Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell, is tied through his wife to the top leadership of the Chinese Communist Party.

He also told The Star News Network that his wife, Elaine Chao, as Transportation Secretary, used her official position to help the shipping business of her father, James Chao.

(Schweizer clip plays)

So when Mitch McConnell married Elaine Chao, he married into a family that had very substantial connections on mainland China with the Chinese Communist Party. James Chao, who was Elaine’s father. That would be Senator Mitch McConnell’s father in law grew up with Zhang Zi min, who was the Premier of China in the 1990s.

(McCabe clip plays)

Schweizer said McConnell, in addition to receiving millions of dollars in political contributions from members of the Chao family, also received a massive gift from his billionaire father in law.

(Schweizer clip plays)

When it comes to Mitch McConnell, it’s pretty clear his financial fortunes are fused with those of the Chao family. In fact, James Chao gave him a gift more than a decade ago of between $5 and $25 million. And that basically quadrupled his net worth overnight.

And when Elaine Chao became the Transportation Secretary, when she took official delegations as Transportation Secretary to China, she planned to and wanted to bring her sister and her father along on those trips. So you have this fusing of the Chao family and Mitch McConnell to the Chinese state.

And it creates a circumstance where if Mitch McConnell were to do something that Beijing did not like, they could literally destroy the business overnight.

(McCabe clip plays)

Peter Schweizer’s research into the McConnell Chao family business and their relationship with the Chinese Communist Party begged the question that if McConnell has to choose between the fortunes of the American people or the billions at stake in his own family fortune, who would he choose? Reporting for The Star News Network this is Neil W. McCabe.

Leahy: That’s original reporting from our own Neil W. McCabe, our national political editor for The Tennessee Star and The Star News Network. Clint, what’s your reaction to that?

Brewer: These aren’t allegations. They are largely fact. It’s been out there about McConnell and his wife since about 2017, and it’s evolved. Here’s what I’d say, a couple of things. One, I’ve said it on the show many times.

America’s single biggest overriding issue pervading all aspects of the economy, politics, society is our ongoing, I call it, relationship with China.

I don’t think we have had a requisite amount of accountability for COVID-19 from China. I think that up until the Trump administration, our trade policy was massively imbalanced with China.

I think that we have not economically and politically drawn a line in the sand with them. And I think books like this kind of create a compendium of information for readers that can allow them to see the big picture.

If you look at the cover of the book, President Biden is on the cover of the book. But I think it’s important to note that leaders on both sides of the aisle have business relationships with China through their families.

I think it’s important to note that America’s business elite have business relationships with China. They have investments there. General Motors, which has a plant in Tennessee, also has a plant in China.

So we are very cross-pollinated economically with China as country. And I think information like this is something that’s vital for the American people to have.

Listen to the full interview:


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Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to the Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.
















– – –

Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to the Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio














U.S. Senator Bill Hagerty Explains China Regulation Behaviors, Biden Family, and Reconciliation

U.S. Senator Bill Hagerty Explains China Regulation Behaviors, Biden Family, and Reconciliation


Live from Music Row Wednesday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. –  host Leahy welcomed U.S. Senator Bill Hagerty (R-TN) to the newsmaker line to discuss China’s illicit global behavior, SEC regulations, the Biden family, and reconciliation.

Leahy: We are joined on our newsmaker line by our friend, the United States junior senator from Tennessee, Bill Hagerty. Good morning, Senator Hagerty.

Hagerty: Good morning. Great to be back with you.

Leahy: Senator Hagerty, China is on my mind this morning, and I’m thinking it’s on your mind as well. What’s going on with China? You’ve been making some news in that area of late.

Hagerty: China persists in its malign behavior all around the world. And if you think about what we’re dealing with now in any aspect of the news, whether it’s the coronavirus pandemic that they unquestionably unleashed on the planet, their reluctance to do anything, to cooperate, to help us deal with that.

Their actions in the Taiwan Strait, which threaten yet another free nation and one of our allies, where we are spending a great deal of time and effort right now. Certainly in my office contemplating our approach and our push back on that.

To what they’re doing in the realm of military diplomacy and every other aspect of global life to try to undercut and project themselves and very often at the expense of America.

Leahy: You were quoted in a story yesterday at CNBC. This is an area of great interest to me, and I learned something about your position in the Senate, where you are influential. You are a member of the Banking Committee, which is a very influential committee.

Here’s the headline of the story. SEC Officials Says US Listed Chinese Companies Must Disclose Government Interference Risk. And your quote on that topic was, I think on point. You said, “U.S. regulators must ensure that American investors and workers are protected from the sort of non-market behavior that is leaving American investors.” That’s what you said.

Hagerty: Yes.

Leahy: You said it on the Senate banking committee. How are the Chinese companies that are listed on American stock exchanges engaging in nonmarket behavior?

Hagerty: Several days ago, I made those remarks because I witnessed what happened with the listing of the major ride-hailing company. It’s a copycat of Uber here in America. It’s called DiDi. And they came and use the New York Stock Exchange to list their company.

I’ve spent a lot of time and a big portion of my life in the financial markets – a servant on the board of directors of New York Stock Exchange-listed companies. I know the rules. DiDi lists here in America raise billions of dollars.

And just a couple of days later, the Chinese Communist Party basically pulled down their data, pulls their app offline, and destroys the business model. This is after they’ve collected again billions of dollars of American investors’ hard-earned money.

Leahy: Where did that money go?

Hagerty: It’s in the hands of a Chinese company and perhaps in the hands of the Chinese Communist Party.

Leahy: How do we let that happen?

Hagerty: We allowed them to list. And again, I put a lot of pressure on the SEC. You cannot allow these Chinese companies to list and not follow precisely the same set of rules. The companies that I’ve worked with, that I’ve sat on the boards on, and that I’ve invested in – that you invest in, American companies have followed the rules.

If we had an American company that didn’t list a major risk like this, they would be delisted.

Instead, we had this happen with the Chinese company and we’ve got to step up. No more looking the other way. The Biden administration seems too often willing to appease and not step up and stand up for the rights of Americans.

Leahy: What sort of concrete, specific actions can be undertaken by the United States government to make sure that these kinds of market irregularities, this disruption, this perversion of our American financial markets by the Chinese, to their benefit, don’t occur again?

Hagerty: We need to make certain that they fully comply with all of the accounting standards that American companies have to comply with.

I think it’s a shock to many American investors to learn that Chinese companies have been given waivers on the American stock exchanges when they don’t comply with the same sort of accounting requirements, the same accounting standards that we do. That’s got to come to an end.

Leahy: But didn’t the Biden administration just double down on granting those waivers? Or do I have that wrong?

Hagerty: They have got to come back and look at the law and enforce it as written. And they’re not doing this time and time again. They’re looking the other way. They’re not enforcing the laws that are on the books against companies that don’t and countries –

And certainly, the Chinese Communist Party doesn’t have our best interests at heart. Yet they’re willing to double down on American companies all day long. We are the enemy. The economy here in America is under attack on a daily basis by the Biden administration.

Yet, if you look at their appeasement around the world and it’s not just China, they’re trying to appease Iran. They killed the Keystone XL pipeline. What a gift to China and Iran. They are collapsing our southern border. That’s a gift to the cartels down in Mexico.

And Vladimir Putin is laughing all the way to the bank now that they granted him a license to go ahead and complete Nord Stream too. Again, great for the old business over there in Russia while they’re trying to kill the old gas business here in America.

Leahy: There’s a principle of philosophy called Ockham’s razor and that is basically the most likely explanation for an occurrence – is probably the correct one. So I look at this, Senator Hagerty and I look at the Biden Justice Department refusing to prosecute a couple of Chinese spies and military members who lied about their resumes to get influential jobs with American universities.

They’ve decided they’re not going to prosecute them. To me that says this is an example of how compromised Joe Biden and the Biden administration are on the issue of China. What have I got wrong there?

Hagerty: I think you’ve got it right. And if you think about the close financial ties that the Biden family has with China. We don’t have to go back very far to remember who the big guy is and Hunter’s activities in China bringing – what was it?

A billion and a half dollars back from a trip that Hunter took when his father was the vice president. There is obviously something going on here, and we’ve got to continue to press to get to the bottom of it.

Leahy: What are the odds that an anonymous Chinese Communist Party member is going to spend half a million dollars to buy the supposed artwork of Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden? (Chuckles)

Hagerty: This is yet another example of the Biden regime and the Biden family operation cashing in on the father’s position. And this is wholly un-American and something I think the world should be very concerned about.

I should say America should be very concerned about it. The world is looking at this and perhaps a low-cost entry point to influence here in America. And it’s un-American as it can be.

Leahy: You’ve got a very busy schedule yourself, and we really appreciate you coming to the program to tell us what you’re up to. What are your priorities for the next week? What are some of the most important things you’ll be doing?

Hagerty: We are trying to make it clear to the public the inflationary implications of what Biden and the Democrats are talking about with this massive spending spree that they have in the tank. They’re saying it’s a $3.5 trillion package to go alongside this  “bipartisan” infrastructure deal.

All the projections that I’ve seen say that the $3.5 trillion partisan package, and again, they’re planning to pass this on a 50 vote margin in the Senate. We have a 50/50 Senate and the only way they can break the ties is by bringing the vice president to do it.

That’s their plan. The $3.5 trillion actually maps out to be more than $5 trillion. This is at a time when inflation has taken off. If you look at the numbers between May and June of this year and you annualize the inflation just between those last two months, it annualizes to a 12 percent annual inflation rate. The target for the Fed is two percent.

They’ve talked about maybe slightly overshooting that. This isn’t a slight overshoot. This is a massive overshoot. And we’ve got to step back and say, do we want to introduce this type of inflation throughout the economy?

Those of us that are old enough to remember the Jimmy Carter years know where this will lead. And we are pushing back as hard as we possibly can on this.

Leahy: Here’s a question for you. The Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer asked for advice from the parliamentarian on the capability of using reconciliation to jam through all sorts of bills – illegal immigration, et cetera – under the guise of reconciliation.

The parliamentarian said, well, maybe once you can do it, maybe twice. Do you think the parliamentarian is going to rule on these attempts that will constrain the use of reconciliation? Or will it be a free for all?

Hagerty: We’ll see what they put in. But my guess is that even though Chuck Schumer may know things will not pass the test to be included in this reconciliation bill. And again, I want to clarify the word reconciliation.

What you would think and what I would think is reconciliation is some sort of coming together, some meeting of minds to address or fix something. This is not reconciliation. This is a 100-percent partisan, reckless spending spree that they’re on. Will they use this process to message, will they put things in that won’t fit and rely on the parliamentarian to take them out? I wouldn’t put it past them at all.

They’ll probably use anything that the parliamentarian takes out yet again as their argument to do away with the filibuster and turn this Senate process that over the years has been historically a bipartisan organization into something that is completely partisan again. And if they destroy the filibuster they’ll be able to fulfill the rest of their socialist wishlist.

Leahy: Senator Bill Hagerty, thanks so much for taking the time out of your busy schedule to talk to our listeners here. I really appreciate it. I hope you have a great week. Thanks for joining us.

Hagerty: Thank you. Good to be with you.

Listen to the second hour here:

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Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to the Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.