NBC News anchor Chuck Todd grilled Vivek Ramaswamy on Sunday over the Republican presidential candidate’s proposal to dismantle the Federal Bureau of Investigation and replace it with a “new institution built from scratch.”
“So, you’re going to replace the FBI with a new FBI?,” Todd wondered at one point.
An “anti-woke” biotech investor and hedge fund manager, Ramaswamy has significantly raised his profile in recent years by embracing the conservative movement’s culture wars, largely through frequent appearances on Fox News. This also includes pushing for the abolishment of the FBI, which many on the right have accused of being part of a “Deep State” plot to take down former President Donald Trump. (Ex-Fox News star Tucker Carlson, for instance, has long suggested that the bureau orchestrated the Jan. 6 Capitol riots.)
During Sunday’s broadcast of NBC’s Meet the Press, Todd confronted the presidential hopeful over his stance on the FBI, and immediately noted that it comes across as confusing.
“One of your big applause lines, that is a bit of a head-scratcher for me, is defund the FBI,” the Meet the Press moderator said.
“Yeah. So, I didn’t say defund the FBI, I said shut down the FBI and replace it with something new,” Ramaswamy clarified, prompting Todd to ask what he’d replace the bureau with.
“I think it’s a new apparatus built from scratch that actually respects the law instead of making it up,” the Republican candidate replied.
“You think that the FBI constantly is making up the law? That is a huge charge,” Todd shot back, noting the agency has recently made large fentanyl busts. “There’s a lot of work the FBI does other than responding to complaints from elected officials who don’t like investigations.”
Ramaswamy defended his remarks by pointing to J. Edgar Hoover’s surveillance of Martin Luther King Jr., claiming that it’s “still the J. Edgar Hoover FBI” and that it would be his duty as president to “turn it over” because the bureau’s culture had become “so ossified.”
“And I think that, yes, we need federal law enforcement, but that institution has, in a bipartisan way, become so, I think ossified in its own norms, in its own corruption, that we need to rebuild it from scratch and have something new take its place,” he added.
Interrupting his guest, the NBC host asked if this just meant that the candidate was merely “going to replace the FBI with a new FBI.” Ramaswamy, meanwhile, stuck to his talking points.
“Well with a new institution built from scratch to carry out for the law enforcement because the existing FBI, the people who work there, have worked there for so long that actually they’re going to be getting in their own way,” the conservative entrepreneur proclaimed.
“Alright, it does sound like you’re just replacing the FBI with the FBI,” Todd pressed again.
“Well, the problem is there are people who have worked there for decades,” Ramaswamy concluded. “And so, what I say is if I’m the U.S. president, and I can’t work for the federal government for more than eight years, which I think is a good thing, then none of those bureaucrats reporting to me should be able to either. That’s the point I’m making.”