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EXCLUSIVE — Sen. Lankford on David Grusch: “Can't go into much on it”

EXCLUSIVE — Sen. Lankford on David Grusch: “Can't go into much on it”

Ep. 29 — Sen. James Lankford has “a lot of unanswered questions” on the UFO whistleblower and Chinese spy balloons (7-11-2023)
Congressional staffers and reporters wait outside of the Senate SCIF on Tuesday, July 11, 2023. Photo: Matt Laslo

Sen. James Lankford (R-OK) knows more about UFO whistleblower David Grusch than he’ll discuss publicly.

Ask a Pol caught up with Lankford — a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee — on Tuesday, July 11 as he was leaving a rare all-Senators classified briefing held underground in the Senate SCIF (sensitive compartmented information facility).

In fact, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer says it was the first-ever classified Senators Only confab focused on artificial intelligence. 

US Capitol. Photo: Matt Laslo

Lankford passes dozens of reporters and is heading up some stairs on his way to the Senate floor as Ask a Pol’s Matt Laslo appears at his side. They initially discuss Chinese spy balloons and then briefly move on to UFO whistleblower David Grusch.

“There's just a lot of unanswered questions there still. Honestly,” Lankford says. “So can't go into much on it.” 

As you’ll hear, Lankford was comfortable talking with Laslo and even invites him on a Senators Only elevator to keep discussing AI with him (a conversation that makes a cameo in Laslo’s latest WIRED magazine feature)

Lankford was in no rush and seemed to enjoy the heady, if brief, AI chat with Laslo, which makes his silence on Grusch all the more curious. 

Your questions, your lawmakers, your Capitol, our mics.

Below find a rough transcript of Ask a Pol’s interview with Sen. James Lankford (R-OK), slightly edited for clarity.

RAW AUDIO: Sen. Lankford and Laslo (7-11-2023)


Matt Laslo: “Hey, how are you sir?”

James Lankford: “Good, how are you?” 

ML: “One day at a time.” 

JL: “Always.”

ML: “I’m curious, have you guys gotten any updates on the spy balloon stuff?”

JL: “On the what?” 

ML: “The spy balloon—the Chinese balloons at the start of the year.” 

JL: “What about em?” 

ML: “Have you guys gotten satisfactory answers? Like they still haven’t….” 

JL: “Lord no. Still a lot of unanswered questions that are still out there. Yeah.”  

ML: “Are you all pushing them on it or…?”

JL: “Yes. About as far as I can go on it, yeah.” 

Staff entering the SCIF underneath the US Senate on Tuesday, July 11, 2023. Photo: Matt Laslo

ML: “Have you seen that UAP or UFO whistleblower, David Grusch?”

JL: “Yeah.” 

ML: “What do you make of his claims?” 

JL: “There's just a lot of unanswered questions there still. Honestly. So can't go into much on it.” 

ML: “Do you want hearings on it? Gillibrand says…”

Senator Lankford smirks at Laslo, signaling he respects our effort but he’s a stickler for not discussing Intel. matters with the press. 

ML: “I see that smile!” 

JL: “Actually, I can’t talk much on it. So...” 

ML: “Yeah?” 

JL: “????”

[Ask a Pol subscriber question: What do you hear Lankford say there? We hear something but aren’t 100% on it. Would love a community assist! Then will update]

ML: “We can go to AI—what’d you make of the AI briefing?” 

JL: “Helpful, honestly. There’s a lot of issues’ you’ve got to be able to think through. The legislative boundaries, you can’t—yeah you can ride on…”  

Lankford waves Laslo onto the Senators Only elevator. 

JL: “You can’t stop AI, nor would you want to…”

Lankford and Laslo then discuss AI on their ride up to the second floor of the Capitol so he could vote in the Senate chamber. Part of their AI chat made it in Laslo’s latest WIRED magazine feature, which just dropped Friday, The Ghost of Privacy Past Haunts the Senate’s AI Future.

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Matt Laslo is a veteran congressional correspondent and founder of Ask a Pol—your lawmakers, your questions, your Capitol. Find him on most social media @MattLaslo

We’re @Ask_a_Pol or @askpols on Insta.

Take typos up with Congress (and ping us, please! Our apologies in advance).

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You watch the skies, we watch lawmakers. Veteran Washington correspondent Matt Laslo takes you inside the US Capitol as he pesters politicians with your questions! Ship them in to Laslo at