May 13, 2021

Co-Chair of the America First Policy Institute’s Center for American Security, Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Keith Kellogg joined “Kudlow” to discuss the crisis engulfing the Middle East.  Full transcript can be found below.

Larry Kudlow: Just want to put this up, no free pass for Russia regarding the colonial pipeline ransom and the bombing of Israel. Joining us now General Keith Kellogg, great, great friend. Head of national security for the America First Institute and Former National Security Advisor to Vice President Pence and of course to President Trump. Keith, wonderful to see you. You know I just want to make the point and get your reaction, Russia is behind the ransomware hold up of colonial. There is no question about that. They get no free pass on that because these guys are all, you know, former KGB or GRU, whatever, and secondly Russia is the ultimate backstop for Iran. So all these missiles from Hamas and Hezbollah raining down on Israel, which is breaking up the whole Middle East, that’s a Russian thing too. Keith, my question is, Biden says he will not retaliate for any of this stuff. What is our policy? How can we let Russia keep getting away with this stuff? 

Gen. Kellogg: Yeah, let me put a bow around everything you said today, it’s a great program. Cause really when you look at it there’s two issues that are going on right now. One is a leadership issue and one’s a policy issue. With the leadership issue, I think what the Administration is doing is whistling past the graveyard. They hope that people will just ignore what’s going on and it will go away and well it’s not. And the policies are all inter-related and people need to understand that. Let’s start at the very top, cause you mentioned earlier with the good senator, with colonial pipeline. Look that’s a pipeline, huge pipeline 13 states, 267 pumping stations. Last night I was driving around Alexandria, Virginia, lines of 3 or 40 cars, some stations are out of gas. And they hit that basically dark side, mafia type group that came out of Russia and it’s a Russia sanctioned organization, not Russian supported. It’s not, came out of the federal organization but it’s in that country out there. And they hit it with ransomware and it cost so much money to get the decryption key to open it up. You’re paying ransom. It’s sort of like hostage recovery and we shouldn’t have done that. And what the President should have done is picked up the phone and called Putin and said look, this is emanating from Russia, we know it’s coming out of Russia, we don’t know exactly where, and you need to react to this. Sending your GRU unit, the FSB unit, whatever you got there and tell them to knock it off and go there.

Larry Kudlow: You’re so right, Keith, and Biden said publicly that he has no intention to retaliate. Now you start with that position, you have no leverage at all. 

Gen. Kellogg: That’s exactly, well that’s exactly right. Here is the problem you have got, it was mentioned earlier. This is going to keep going. This is a very lucrative business. It’s a 6 trillion-dollar business globally on ransomware and using these type of cyberattacks. And we should respond very, in a positive manner, meaning, you attack us, we’re going to attack you, and go back with it. The same thing that’s happening in Israel right now. With what’s going on with Israel is they look what is going on. Hamas reads the newspapers too. Biden didn’t even pick up the phone and talk to Netanyahu for a month before he said, hey, what’s going on, how can I help you out.  So they’re ignoring what’s happening with our work with Netanyahu. And by the way it goes to the border as well. They’re ignoring the border issue. You know what Larry, I remember when we were down in Ecuador with Vice President Pence and the President picked up the phone we were having some issues in 2018 and he called the Vice President and we ended up the next day flying into El Salvador, we met with the President of El Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua, and said you need to stop illegal immigration. It all depends on the leader in the White House. 

Larry Kudlow: I love you Keith. We have to do much more. Thank you for coming on.