FAIRBANKS, Alaska - US Senator Dan Sullivan is in town this week for the Christmas holiday.
He stopped by the station and sat down with news director,Tom Hewitt, to talk about what's going on in Washington, DC, and what he expects in the coming year.
Tom Hewitt; News Director>>"It's been a long year, it's been a hard year, but it's been a productive year, so - your thoughts?"
Sen. Dan Sullivan; (R) Alaska>>"Yeah well, it's good to see you Tom, and Merry Christmas to you and all your viewers. My wife Julie and I and our daughters are all here in Fairbanks for the holidays, so it's been great. But no - you know, we ended on a strong note, and I would say one of the messages I've been bringing back home is one of optimism. Optimism, optimism, optimism. I think there's a lot of things in D.C. that are going to help us. We still have challenges in our great state, you know, we're in a recession, I think it's going on year two now, we have the highest unemployment rate in the country. We have challenges like the addiction crisis, opioid crisis - I'm going to be actually going to the opioid working group tomorrow at the City Council chambers. But to me, there's a lot - a lot of things really looking up with regard to what's going on in Washington. The big one, you know, we passed tax reform, which I think's going to be very important for middle-class tax breaks, clearly that's aimed at the middle class. Small, Main Street businesses are going to get a reduction on their tax burden. But, as you know, importantly, that also included a provision to open ANWR for responsible resource development, something we've been trying to get done in Alaska for almost 40 years. And we were able to do that with a lot of help from hundreds if not thousands of Alaskans over the years. It was an exciting victory and it bodes well for us in the future."
Tom Hewitt; News Director>>"Threre's been some level of controversy about specifically the Russia probe, but also the intelligence services in general, with some sowing doubt about how well they're doing their jobs - including and up to the president himself making statements that maybe things aren't going as well as they could be with those agencies. I guess how do you feel about that - specifically about the Russia probe but also our intelligence services in general?"
Sen. Dan Sullivan; (R) Alaska>>"Well look, I think we've got to get to the bottom of what happened during this last election - the issue of Russia's involvement, which to me was very clear what they were trying to do, which was undermine our democracy. We can't let any nation do that. But there are other aspects. I think all the aspects of that probe should be on the table. The intelligence committees, the special prosecutor, the judiciary committees, both the House and in the Senate, are looking at that. I'm not on the intel committee in the Senate or the Judiciary Committee in the Senate, so I'm kind of watching it. I know we have a strong bipartisan effort of senators who are working on it. So I trust the work that they're doing.
You know, you raise an important question with regard to our intelligence agencies, the FBI. Look, the men and women who serve in the FBI, the men and women who serve in the CIA and other intelligence agencies, I know a lot of them. I've worked with a number of them, particularly in my military career, and have utilized these agencies, particularly the intelligence agencies, as part of my responsibilities on the Armed Services Committee in the Senate. These are patriots, they're patriotic Americans who serve on the front lines.
But I think in terms of oversight, it's always proper for Congress to get involved with regard to oversight. Let's face it, the Department of Justice and the FBI did not cover themselves in glory in Alaska with regard to what happened to Ted Stevens. Okay? There was clear wrongdoing by Department of Justice prosecutors, by FBI agents, with regard to the Stevens probe. We know that, in Alaska, that the men and women who we typically believe wear the white hats are the good guys, they're not always the good guys. So taking a look at making sure these agencies are run at the highest levels, without political bias, without vendettas against any politician, clearly that happened against the late great Senator Ted Stevens. That's always an appropriate role for Congress to make sure that happens.
But by and large, I have confidence and faith in these agencies, and they are populated by very patriotic young men and women who serve their country well."
Tom Hewitt; News Director>>"Great. Well, thank you for taking the time."
Sen. Dan Sullivan; (R) Alaska>>"Okay, absolutely. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Thank you."