By Camila Aponte and Noah Kolenda*
Below find a rough transcript of Ask a Pol’s interview on July 18, 2023 with Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-MT) — United States Secretary of the Interior (2017-2019) — slightly edited for clarity.
*hire them; The LCB’s (Laslo Congressional Bureau) summer interns extraordinaire.
Matt Laslo: “Have you gotten satisfactory answers from the Pentagon, and all them, on the Chinese spy balloon that kinda kicked off this year?”
Ryan Zinke: “No.”
RZ: “What I do know is they misled...”
RZ: “...on three points. When they said they took immediate action. They did not. When they said that it would be less risk to down it in the ocean than it would across Montana. I mean, that's an outrageous overreach.
“The probability of hitting something off the coast of Myrtle Beach is much greater — with all the boat traffic, right? — then it is to down it in Montana where the population of Petroleum County is less than members of Congress, alright?”
RZ: “The recovery ability on land far is greater. And last they said, ‘Well, it didn’t surveil.’ How do we know?”
RZ: “So I think it was misleading. There was gaps in — but they did gain a lot of intelligence about how we react to, in this case, from the routine to a crisis to, you know, public, right? How did we — what did our decision matrix look like? I’m not satisfied, because I think they were misleading.”
ML: “And then after it, they shot down three other objects, but we don’t quite know what they are.”
RZ: “And more than likely they were weather balloons, but I can guarantee though the one that was in the news was not a weather balloon.”
RZ: “It had sophisticated surveillance and the recovery was not complete of what was there, and so we were misled. Look, if we can’t handle a balloon, how are we going to handle bears over the pole? As an example, right?”
ML: “Have you heard of this new UFO/UAP whistleblower David Grusch?”
RZ: “You know, I’ve always been intrigued about UFOs.”
ML: “You’re Montana.”
RZ: “I’m from Montana.”
ML: “Big sky.”
RZ: “I have friends that swear up and down — swear up and down; good, legitimate people — that they've seen a UFO. Something they can't explain. I don't know. You know, I think we should know. And so I'm glad the administration is disclosing more. I think it's of interest.”
ML: “Yeah. I’m watching. I’m curious. ‘Preciate ya!”
RZ: “If I hear anything, I’ll let you know.”
ML: “Thank you! Have a good one sir.”
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