JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - Friday things got "political" at the Hilton Garden Inn in Jonesboro.
The NEA Political Animals held a luncheon with U.S. Senator Tom Cotton as the speaker.
Cotton spoke to attendees about the intelligence community, both at home and abroad.
Audience members also got to voice their concerns to Cotton about a variety of issues in a question and answer session.
Senator Cotton said he believed Jeff Sessions had no intention to be misleading when asked about speaking to the Russian Ambassador.
"A question was asked, in context, of the election and in context between Trump surrogates," Cotton said. "I think Jeff Sessions answered in that context. It's also possible he just didn't remember meeting with an ambassador four months ago. We all meet with lots and lots of people, including ambassadors all the time. But I don't think Jeff Sessions had any intention to mislead. He's taking the advice of the ethics council and the Department of Justice, though, and recused himself from the matter. And if that's what he thinks is the right decision, then I support that decision."
Is Cotton concerned over accusations directed toward the Trump administration about Russian contacts?
"I think a lot of these contacts have been overblown and exaggerated," Cotton said. "Just this week, for instance, it was reported that the President's Special Advisor and his former National Security Advisor met with the Russian Ambassador during the transition. That's, again, the most normal thing in the world. I can tell you I had multiple ambassadors and foreign ministers coming through my doors during the transition. Specifically asking how they should approach Donald Trump and with whom they should meet to try to establish new personal ties to maintain good relations between our nations. One of the two meetings that Jeff Sections was reported to have had with the Russian Ambassador was at a speech at the Republican National Convention, that was sponsored by the Obama Department of State. Again, it's very common to be meeting with ambassadors and foreign ministers and other leaders from foreign countries. I think that's part of the job Arkansans expect me do and voters in other states expect their senators to do."
Cotton said all leaks should be investigated thoroughly due to the potential damage.
"A lot of these leaks are very serious," Cotton said. "They're damaging to our national security because they have the potential to reveal to our adversaries what we know and what we don't know, or our capabilities of knowing those things. The FBI, as our counter-intelligence service, is responsible for investigating those leaks. I believe the FBI is going to pursue them, just as they should be pursuing any leaks of classified information. Especially, when it comes to potential sources and methods. Regardless of the content of what's been leaked, anytime these things are leaked, it's a very serious breach of our national security laws and the regulations governing classified information."
He said he considered all leaks to be a serious matter.
"No matter who is in the White House," Cotton said. "No matter who is in charge of the Congress. And they should always be investigated thoroughly."
Cotton said he feels we need to enforce our immigration laws.
"I think we have to take a step back and look at immigration," Cotton said. "Not just from the context of illegal immigration, but immigration more broadly. We're a nation of immigrants, but also a nation of laws. And if we want to reform our immigration system more broadly, we need to focus on enforcing those laws. And that's what Donald Trump and John Kelly and the Secretary of Homeland Security said we are going to do. We're going to enforce our laws. That will give the American people the confidence we need to change our immigration laws to reflect modern economic conditions."
However, Cotton said he does not agree with a tax on imported goods.
"I think the idea of having an import tax, which the House of Representatives has proposed, is not going to be good for Arkansans," Cotton said. "I think that we can update NAFTA. I think it's open to renegotiation. We might even expand it to the United Kingdom now that they've voted to leave the European Union. But I recognize that Arkansans depend on trade. Especially trade with Mexico. And ultimately, it's in both of our interests to have good trade deals. That bring goods into this country. That provide us opportunities to create jobs that export and that helps Mexico grow and become more prosperous and stable."
Cotton also answered questions concerning our country's security, health care, and the environment.
Around two hundred people attended the luncheon to hear Cotton speak.
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