This Week: Chris sits down for an exclusive interview with White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus.
Dick and Lynne Cheney talk Ukraine, Benghazi and Hillary
Written by Chris Wallace / Published May 18, 2014 / Fox News Sunday
Special Guests: Dick & Lynne Cheney, Karl Rove, Ryan Galucci, Dr. Sam Foote, Scott Reed
This is a rush transcript from "Fox News Sunday," May 18, 2014. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
CHRIS WALLACE, HOST: I'm Chris Wallace.
Former Vice President Dick Cheney and his wife, Lynne, in their first joint interview since leaving the White House.
DICK CHENEY, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT: There has developed over the years of the Obama administration, I think, a sense on the part of others that we have a weak government.
WALLACE: We discussed Ukraine, Benghazi and Hillary Clinton.
Mrs. Cheney, why on earth do you think they would want to see Lewinsky back in the public eye?
Dick and Lynne Cheney only "Fox News Sunday."
Then, Karl Rove sparks a controversy over Hillary Clinton's health.
KARL ROVE, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Do I think she has brain damage? No. I think she had a traumatic brain episode.
BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT: She's strong. She's doing great. As far as I can tell, she's in better shape than I am.
WALLACE: Rove joins our Sunday panel to explain his comments.
Plus, growing allegations that veterans die, waiting for treatment at V.A. hospitals across the country.
SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL, D-CONN.: Isn't there evidence here of criminal wrongdoing, that is falsifying records, false statements to the federal government? That's a crime.
ERIC SHINSEKI, V.A. SECRETARY: It should be, yes.
WALLACE: Outrage over a secret waiting list. But how widespread are the problems? And who knew about them?
We'll ask the leading whistleblower, Dr. Sam Foote, and Ryan Gallucci of the VFW.
And our power player of the week, political strategist Scott Reed on the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's multimillion dollar stake in the 2011 election.
SCOTT REED, POLITICAL STRATEGIST: If you say something stupid, we're not going to support you, because if it crosses the line and is disrespectful, we're out.
WALLACE: All, right now, on "Fox News Sunday."
WALLACE: And hello again from Fox News in Washington.
This week, we were fascinated to learn that former Vice President Cheney and his wife, Lynne, have embarked on a road show, where he interviews her about her new critically acclaimed biography, "James Madison: A Life Revealed."
Well, we invited them to sit down with us to discuss a wide range of topics, in their first joint interview since leaving office.
WALLACE: Vice President Cheney, Mrs. Cheney, welcome back to "Fox News Sunday."
LYNNE CHENEY, AUTHOR, "JAMES MADISON: A LIFE REVEALED": Thanks, Chris.
D. CHENEY: Good to see you, Chris.
WALLACE: Hillary Clinton is in the news this week. Karl Rove talked about her having sustained a traumatic brain injury. The Clinton camp fired back, this shows just how desperate the Republicans are this year.
Mr. Vice President, do you think that Hillary Clinton's health and age are fair game?
D. CHENEY: Well, I think any presidential candidate or vice presidential candidate is going to have to answer questions about their health. I wouldn't want to prejudge Mrs. Clinton's health. I don't know anything about it. Certainly, I felt responsible to -- to be open about my health when I was vice president and a candidate. And I think that's going to be expected of anybody who runs for president or vice president.
WALLACE: What do you think about Benghazi? Do you think that she did anything wrong and should she be held responsible for the events surrounding that attack?
D. CHENEY: She was secretary of State at the time that it happened. She was one of the first in Washington to know about it. I think she clearly bears responsibility for whatever the State Department did or didn't do with respect to that -- that crisis.
I do think it's a major issue. I don't think we've heard the last of it yet. And I would expect that she will be held accountable during the course of the campaign.
WALLACE: Mrs. Cheney, you said recently that you thought the Clintons must be pleased that "Vanity Fair" magazine ran an article written by Monica Lewinsky.
Why on earth do you think they'd want to see Lewinsky back in the public eye? And do you think that the Lewinsky scandal is a legitimate issue for Hillary Clinton in 2016? L. CHENEY: Well, I was really paying the Clintons a larger compliment. I was saying how clever they are politically, and that it seems to me, if you had something that might come up during the campaign that would be damaging, it was very smart to get it out of the way early.
So, that's my -- that's my case, Chris, and I'm staying with it.
Mr. Vice President, let's turn to the stand-off in Ukraine.
How do you think President Obama has handled Russian President Putin both before and now during this crisis?
D. CHENEY: Well, I -- I think you've got to look beyond just that most immediate crisis. Obviously, we've got to deal with that. But there has developed over the years of the Obama administration, I think, a sense on the part of others that we have a weak government.
We saw, for example, at the mere request from Putin, President Obama withdrew the plans for a missile defense program based in Poland and the Czech Republic. He's demonstrated repeatedly, I think, that he, in fact, can be pushed around, if you will, by a -- by the Putins. And I don't think by -- Mr. Putin has any hesitation at all, from the standpoint of the American president, of changing his course of action.
I think he's taken advantage of this opportunity when he thinks we have a weak president to try to restore some of the old Soviet Union.
L. CHENEY: I'd like to point out that James Madison was one of the first to observe that the appearance of weakness invites evildoing on the part of our adversaries. It was also the case in Madison's time, and to go back to the Lewinskys, if that's OK, the Lewinsky scandal, you know, this -- these kinds of scandals have gone on forever. And, they are damaging.
Alexander Hamilton had to admit he was having an affair. There were rumors about Dolly Madison.
So I hear people saying sometimes that it's worse now than it's ever been. Actually, not so. It's about the same.
WALLACE: Mrs. Cheney, a very clever way to get to the book, I promise we're going to get to the Madison book in just a moment.
I do want to pick up, though, on this Ukraine issue, Vice President Cheney, because --
L. CHENEY: Promises, promises.
WALLACE: -- because the fact is that when you were in the White House, Russia invaded the former Soviet republic of Georgia and took over two provinces. So --
D. CHENEY: Right.
WALLACE: -- Putin felt he could take you guys on, too.
D. CHENEY: Well, he -- he obviously did at the time. These were two breakaway provinces that did not any longer want to be part of Georgia. What we did at the time was, I think, a more robust response. We flew in a brigade of Georgian soldiers that had been involved supporting our efforts in Iraq, flew them back into Georgia. We tried to provide some support there, as well as sent U.S. ships into the Black Sea and provided various kinds of supplies.
So, the situation, though, is reminiscent in the sense that in Putin, you've got somebody who described the backup of the Soviet Union, the Warsaw Pact as a -- as a disaster that befell the world. And, of course, it wasn't, it was the end of the Cold War and it was a great benefit. And now he's trying to reverse some of those basic developments.
WALLACE: Mrs. Cheney, I promise we're going to get to the book in a moment. But I want to ask one last current events question to the vice president.
And that is the situation in Syria, which continues to get worse. The U.N.'s mediator has just quit. The rebels have been forced to leave one of their strongholds. And France's foreign minister said this week that he believes that the Assad regime has used chemical weapons more than a dozen times since the signing of the treaty after President Obama, back in -- last year, decided not to attack the Assad regime in Syria.
And the question I have is what is the impact of all this, do you think, both in Syria and for the -- the U.S. overall foreign policy?
D. CHENEY: Well, I just, in March, Chris, traveled through the area. I didn't go to Syria, obviously, but I covered a lot of the places in the area where I have long-term relationships back from the days when we were doing Desert Storm.
And to a -- a man, everybody I talked to out there is very concerned with U.S. policy and they hold up the Syrian situation as a classic example the U.S. can't be trusted, that the president gave a lot of bold talk, drew a red line, said he was going to act and then, in the end, didn't act and left them high and dry.
So the Syrian situation has significantly undermined our credibility in the region. I think it's also the kind of thing that leads Putin and others to believe this is a time for adventurism on their part.
WALLACE: Mrs. Cheney, The New York Times, of all newspapers, said in a review of your book, it was one of the best biographies of James Madison that's ever been written.
You say that Madison has been underappreciated for a long time as one of the main authors of the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and for starting our first political party.
L. CHENEY: Well, that's all true. If you just pay attention to Madison, as I do, you'll find when people begin to list the Founders, that he may get tacked onto the end, but he's often not mentioned, which is really too bad, since he was the primary architect of the Constitution. That was probably his finest achievement.
His mind, you know, is still present in our world today. When the Supreme Court has a decision to make about whether a -- whether the police stopping you for a traffic violation can search your cell phone, they will recur to the Fourth Amendment, which Madison drafted. The Fourth Amendment deals with citizens not being exposed to unreasonable search and seizure.
So his ideas are very much part of our lives today and I think that for that reason alone, he merits further -- further study.
WALLACE: On a more personal level, you say that one of the reasons that you were drawn to writing about James Madison was because of all of his health problems, it -- epilepsy-like seizures.
Would you say, in a sense, paralleled your husband's health problems with heart attacks and the eventual heart transplant?
L. CHENEY: Well, I didn't -- I don't think I said it paralleled Dick's problems. But I suppose on some level, the fact that I -- I lived for many years with a politician who -- who did have to overcome health challenges may, on some level, have attracted me to write about Madison, who did have to deal with what was probably a mild form of epilepsy.
WALLACE: Mr. Vice President, we always wonder how is your health and -- and as someone who was a central player in governing for eight years in the White House, as you look back and as you've read your wife's book, what do you see as the central parts of his legacy that endure today?
D. CHENEY: Well, I -- first of all, my health is great. I just did the two year checkup and the transplant has been absolutely flawless. It's been perfect and I'm in great shape.
In terms of Madison's impact, Lynne touched on it a bit. But, clearly, when we get into -- to major debates over constitutional prerogatives, the executive and the legislative and so forth, we are dealing with -- with the Madison legacy. And so much of the -- of what we're trying to do now in -- in the recent administrations, or in this one, especially, say, for example, we get into the War Powers Act, Madison played a major role when he changed the draft of the Constitution from Congress having the authority to make war, the Congress having the authority to declare war. That was enormous. That basically transferred the authority to conduct war, to be the commander-in-chief, to the executive and to the president.
And fortunately, that happened. We've lived with that ever since. But I think that's far preferable than what was originally intended in the first draft.
L. CHENEY: Madison had, in fact, watched the Congress try to direct war during the Revolution. And it was a complete mess, with the Congress, you know, authorizing troops to march here and march there. Sometimes, depending upon how near they were to where Congress was meeting in Philadelphia, it was a disaster without proper money raised. And I think that was the reason he leapt in at the Constitutional Convention, to make the president the commander-in- chief.
WALLACE: Finally, we're going to be electing a new president in 2016, Mr. Vice President -- and you've done this with me before -- I want to play a -- a lightning round, quick questions, quick answers on some of the potential candidates.
Senator Rand Paul. Senator Paul said last month that he thought you might have a potential conflict of interest during the invasion of the -- of Iraq during 2003, because you had worked for Halliburton and the defense industry.
How do you respond to that?
D. CHENEY: Well, before I ever took the job as vice president, I totally severed all my ties with Halliburton, at considerable financial cost. I had no relationship at all with the company throughout the time I was vice president. I didn't even talk to them. We kept a totally arm's length relationship.
So he obviously is not familiar with the facts.
WALLACE: Any thoughts about Jeb Bush?
D. CHENEY: Jeb is a great guy. He's been a good governor. I think he's seriously considering it. And that's certainly another one that -- that ought to be on the list of prospective candidates.
WALLACE: Finally, Chris Christie, your thoughts about him, both of you.
D. CHENEY: I'm -- I -- I've met Chris. I like him. Again, I don't know what he's going to do. He hasn't made himself clear. I have not committed to anybody and don't plan to for some time.
WALLACE: Mrs. Cheney?
L. CHENEY: Ditto.
WALLACE: Well, I see I'm not going to get much out of this.
Listen, I want to thank you both so much for talking with us.
And Mrs. Cheney, good luck with the book.
L. CHENEY: Thank you, Chris.
WALLACE: Coming up, Karl Rove stirs up quite a controversy when he questions Hillary Clinton's health. Karl joins our Sunday group.
Plus, what would you like to ask the panel about Clinton in 2016? Just go to Facebook or Twitter @FoxNewsSunday, and we may use your question on the air.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL CLINTON: First, they said she faked her concussion. Now they say she's auditioning for a part on "The Walking Dead." I mean, you know, whatever it takes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: Former President Clinton saying his wife is just fine after Karl Rove questioned the after-effects of the concussion that Secretary Clinton suffered back in 2012.
And it's time now for our Sunday group: Brit Hume, Fox News senior political analyst, USA Today columnist, Kirsten Powers, the aforementioned GOP strategist Karl Rove, and FOX News political analyst, Juan Williams.
Well, Karl, you've got the media and even President Clinton talking about Hillary Clinton's health. Mission accomplished?
ROVE: Look, let's put this into context. I was asked, is she running? My brain says yes. My gut says this is a more complicated decision and I cited this 30 days of dealing with a very serious health issue.
She comes home from the Czech Republic. She stops in Belfast on the afternoon of the 7th of December, 2012. She is seen in public. And the next time we see her in public is back at work, the 7th of January. We see her briefly on the night of January 2nd when she's leaving the hospital, but during that period of time, she has a virus, she has a concussion.
They announce on the 15th of December, she's fallen and hit her head and has suffered a concussion. We're not going to tell you what day or even where it was. They, finally, say that -- admit it was at her home. On the 30th of December, Sunday, the 30th of December, she goes in for a routine follow up and they announce she's got a blood clot, and they won't say for 24 hours when and where it is. Then they issue a 119-word statement that takes about a minute to readout loud that says it was between --
WALLACE: Let me ask you a question. Do you really have doubts about her physical capability to run for president?
ROVE: No, no, no, I don't, I don't. But it would not be human if you were sitting there to say, I had a serious brain injury and I had a -- I had a -- her husband the other day told us something we didn't know. Took her six months, he said, to get back.
WALLACE: I'm going to pick up on that in a minute, but I just want to say this, because I remember John McCain's opponents raising the issue as whether or not he had gone a little bit nuts when he was in that Vietnam prison.
I remember in 1988, there were questions about Michael Dukakis' mental health and Ronald Reagan famously said he wasn't going to pick on an invalid.
Is this just hardball politics?
ROVE: Look, I'm not questioning her health. What I'm questioning is, is whether or not it's a done deal that she's running? And she would not be human if she were not -- if she did not take this into consideration. She'll be 69 at the time of the 2016 election. If she gets elected two terms, she'll be 77.
Now, look, I loved President Clinton's comments the other day. Let's remember, this is a guy who ran for re-election by savaging Bob Dole. He ran television ad that said, the old ways don't work. Put up (INAUDIBLE). Bob Dole looked like Methuselah in the Clinton TV ads.
Then we had --
WALLACE: Well, then, you're saying it's politics.
ROVE: His White House counsel goes out and calls him, tired, old, worn out. His deputy campaign manager refers to Dole by saying, he is disconnected and dysfunctional.
So, I love being lectured by Bill Clinton as to, oh, this is off limits. You can't talk about her health. You can't talk about her age. He savaged -- now, also --
WALLACE: No, no, wait, wait, wait. I've got to bring the others into this. You've got to play well with others.
WALLACE: Wait, wait. As Karl mentioned, President Clinton, while he was defending his wife, also talked about the fact that he had a serious health issue.
Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL CLINTON: They went to all this trouble to say that she had staged what was a terrible concussion that required six months of very serious work to get over.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: Terrible concussion, six months of serious work -- given what Clinton said about his wife, was Karl over the line?
POWERS: Well, I think if it really is just about whether or not she would run, that's not over the line. Because I think anybody would say that. People who know her, are close to her would say that's a consideration in whether she runs or not.
I think the way, at least, it was reported is it seemed that her brain -- you know, her faculties were being questioned which is really, I think, unfair to question that. I don't think there's anything to suggest that you can't have the type of health issue that she had and go on to be perfectly functioning. We have no reason to believe there's anything wrong with her brain. I mean, I haven't seen anything that suggests there's anything wrong with her brain. And if she can run a campaign, she certainly is fit enough, I think, to be president.
WALLACE: We asked you questions for the panel and got this on Facebook from Dale K. Robinson. "If Republicans want to win against Hillary, they need to leave her health and Monica Lewinsky out of the debate. Attacking her there just makes her the victim and gains votes for her."
Brit, is Dale right?
BRIT HUME, FOX NEWS SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: I don't know if that's true or not. I do think that the effect that Karl said that he wasn't questioning her health, but the effect of his remarks was to raise the issue, whereupon her husband comes out and says what he says and -- the first part of what you played of Bill Clinton was reported everywhere. The part where he said that she underwent what I guess was six months of physical therapy to recover from the concussion --
WALLACE: A terrible concussion.
HUME: A terrible concussion was new news. Of course, it was widely overlooked. So, I think that that, even more than what Karl said, places her health as an issue and a legitimate issue.
If someone goes -- has a terrible concussion and undergoes six months of treatment and there's a blood clot near the brain, the whole thing needs to be laid out and explained. She may be just fine. But it is a legitimate issue to raise about her.
WALLACE: We saw plenty of outrage from both the left and the right over Karl's statements. Let's put up some of it.
Clinton's spokesman Nick Merrill said, "Karl Rove has deceived the country for years, but there are no words for this level of line."
And former Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich said, "I am totally opposed and deeply offended by Karl Rove's comments about Secretary Clinton."
Juan, do you share their outrage?
JUAN WILLIAMS, FOX NEWS POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, I think this was a harsh attack by Karl, and I don't think there's any way to get away from it. He said he's not bringing up Mrs. Clinton's health but you are bringing up --
ROVE: -- not brought up her health.
WILLIAMS: You are talking about her health.
ROVE: I did not say she had brain damage, which is what the headline writers said.
WILLIAMS: Karl, I hate to break this to you, but what you said and what the people heard may be different, because what everybody in America heard us --
HUME: You're a journalist. You don't react to what he said, I presumed.
WILLIAMS: nbsp; I agree with but I'm telling you, it wasn't a matter of parsing Karl's words. The impact was, Hillary Clinton may have suffered brain damage --
POWERS: -- what was said. I think that's fair.
HUME: Suppose Karl had said she had a terrible concussion.
WILLIAMS: That would have been fair.
ROVE: I said she had a traumatic brain injury.
WILLIAMS: First of all --
ROVE: I didn't say it.
WILLIAMS: Also, she wasn't in the hospital for 30 days.
ROVE: You're right.
WILLIAMS: OK, I mean, there were mistakes here, Karl. And I think part of it is -- this is what Newt Gingrich was getting at, is that Newt Gingrich says, it was a personal attack. It wasn't about ideas. It wasn't even a --
ROVE: No, no, look --
WILLIAMS: It was a personal attack. The GOP at this moment is apoplectic over Hillary Clinton. Hillary Clinton is to blame for Benghazi. Hillary Clinton is to blame for Nigeria. Hillary Clinton is to blame for Monica Lewinsky.
ROVE: Glad you admit it.
WILLIAMS: Hillary Clinton was a terrible secretary of state.
ROVE: Glad you admit it.
WILLIAMS: You guys are going crazy and this now is like --
ROVE: Look, look, look --
WILLIAMS: You're beating about the head and generating sympathy for her.
ROVE: Be careful about your analogies.
Look, let's be clear. She is going to have to cough up these medical records and (INAUDIBLE). This was a serious -- look, the Center for Disease Control says a concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury.
POWERS: You're doing it --
ROVE: No, no, look. Look. This was my point. We had Dick Cheney on earlier. When he had a heart defibrillator in, what happened? He put out his three doctors to talk endless about what it was going to happen, what had happened, how is recovery going to be, and she would have been better served having done that.
Look, I agree, she suffered no long-term damage from this. Newt Gingrich had an interesting point, I thought, which was, he said, the 2016 election is going to be fought -- the Republican candidate better have big ideas and make this about the big agenda, and I agree. It's good advice. I wish he had followed it in 2012 rather than talking about a lunar base and bashing Romney over Bain. But I think he has absolutely on --
WILLIAMS: Karl, Karl, doesn't this remind everybody that you, your past as a very effective political operative, have gone after people with swift boating of John Kerry, going after people --
ROVE: Which was entirely legitimate.
WILLIAMS: Oh, well, I'm just telling you, it comes across in that way. I'm saying as someone who has known you for a long time, you're effective political operator --
ROVE: Yes, yes.
WILLIAMS: -- but you may be helping Hillary Clinton.
ROVE: Yes, but, look, here is the deal -- I've been saying this for six months. This was an off-the-record event.
WILLIAMS: Tell Mitt Romney.
ROVE: That somebody then leaked to New York Post gossip page. And I'm not the person who said brain damage. I said --
WALLACE: Wait, wait, wait. I've got two things I just want to say because we got to get out of this segment. One, did you say that she was wearing glasses that people need who have suffered traumatic brain injury?
ROVE: Yes, well --
WALLACE: I'm not saying that's wrong. But did you say that?
ROVE: Yes, because, look, a concussion is, by definition, a traumatic brain injury, and so is a blood clot in the brain.
WALLACE: And, finally, any regrets?
ROVE: No, no. Look, my point is this. She's a human being. She's -- you would not be human and not have a serious brain injury like this was and take it into consideration if you're thinking about going and doing what she might do.
WALLACE: So, this was concern for her?
ROVE: Yes, look, I think --
WILLIAMS: That's right.
WILLIAMS: No, no, no. Yes, I'm concerned as one human being to another. But I'm more concerned because people say, you know, she's in. This is a done deal.
I'm not so certain. I think my brain says she's running. My gut says, you know what? This is going to be far more serious deal.
WALLACE: But we don't know what kind of shape your brain is in. All right. We have to take a break and we'll see you all a little later.
What do you think about the controversy over Hillary Clinton's health? Join the conversation on Facebook with other FNS viewers.
Up next, allegations some of our veterans died because of long waiting times and cover-ups at V.A. hospitals. We'll talk with the doctor who blew the whistle, plus, an advocate for veterans who's demanding the Obama administration, fix the system.
WALLACE: Outrage is snowballing this week over revelations about health care for our nation's veterans. There are now reports VA workers in several states covered up delays in treatment that may have led to the death of dozens of veterans. Amid calls for VA Secretary Shinseki to step down, the Obama administration announced a top official was forced to resign. Joining us now from Phoenix, the leading whistleblower, Dr. Sam Foote and here in studio, Ryan Galucci, deputy director of the VFW's National Veterans Service.
On Friday, Dr. Robert Petzel, the undersecretary of health for the VA was forced out. But critics note that Petzel announced last September he planned to retire. Mr. Galucci, do you see this as real accountability or an empty gesture?
RYAN GALUCCI, VFW'S NATIONAL VETERANS SERVICE: Well, I'm glad you asked that. Because one of the issues that we brought up during the hearing was accountability from top to bottom all across the VA. Secretary Shinseki answered that about 3,000 employees had been reprimanded over the last two years on issues like wait list, gaming the system, scheduling problems. The problem was when he was pressed on this issue he said, well, you know, a lot of employees retired or were moved or were put into different positions or demoted. When pressed he was not very clear on whether or not these employees were fired.
WALLACE: So, what about Petzel?
GALUCCI: You know, it's a difficult scenario. I definitely think that the scrutiny that came under his department over the last couple of weeks really may have forced their hand. I don't know if he was planning to retire within the next few weeks or what the larger plan was. But I certainly think of what's happened over the last month, forced his resignation a lot sooner than we would have seen it.
WALLACE: Meanwhile VA Secretary Eric Shinseki says that he intends to stay on to try to fix the problem. Here he was in the hearings.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ERIC SHINSEKI, SECRETARY OF VETERANS AFFAIRS: Any allegations, any adverse incident like this makes me as -- makes me mad as hell.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: Mr. Galucci, do you still have confidence that Secretary Shinseki is part of the solution and not part of the problem?
GALUCCI: We hope he is for now, but we demand swift accountability. The families who have been affected by these allegations need justice and they need it quickly.
WALLACE: Dr. Foote, your thoughts about Shinseki staying on and Petzel leaving.
DR. SAM FOOTE, FIRST VA HOSPITAL WHISTLEBLOWER: Petzel should have been forced out after the debacle with the legionella in Pittsburgh. It's a great first step to finally get rid of him because he's been felt to be the chief cover of (INAUDIBLE) VA for a very long time. In terms of Secretary Shinseki, this is a guy who certainly -- at some point of his career knew how to take names, knew how to kick butt when he needed to and hold people accountable. And that's the guy we need in there, not the guy who has kind of set back and let Dr. Petzel run everything. It was obvious from the hearings that he was blindsided multiple times on multiple issues. I can only imagine what the discussion must have been like after that meeting between him and Dr. Petzel. But I think for right now, if we switched the secretaries, then the focus will get away from fixing the problem to who is the new secretary going to be? And then you will have a three, or six, or a nine-month grace period because he's the new guy. I think our best bet at this point is to keep the secretary on board. But I think the president needs to keep him on a pretty short leash and be sure that he's doing his job.
WALLACE: Dr. Foote, you retired in December after 24 years in the Phoenix VA system, in large part so that you could do what you've done, which is blow the whistle on the secret waitlist and the fact you alleged that up to 40 veterans may have died because they were just sitting there, waiting for care. Is it possible that all this was going on in Phoenix and now we find out in other VA facilities around the country and that Washington didn't know about it?
FOOTE: No. They've been cheating about this -- the cheating has gone on for a long time. There was a memo in 2010 for Washington -- where they showed all the various different cheating schemes and they told everybody not to do this anymore. So, they knew this was a big problem. But here is the thing. If the numbers in Phoenix look good, then the numbers for Ms. Powers (ph) and Vision 18, Veterans Innovative Service Network 18 look good and then when Congress asks the VA for their national numbers, they all look good. So, there's no real incentive on the part of the upper management in Washington to get accurate numbers.
WALLACE: You allege that up to 40 veterans in Phoenix died while they were waiting for care. But on Friday, the VA's acting inspector general testified about his review of some of these cases before Congress. Let's take a look at what he had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICHARD GRIFFIN, VA ACTING INSPECTOR GENERAL: I know 17. We didn't conclude so far that the delay caused the death. It's one thing to be on a waiting list and it's another thing to conclude that as a result of being on a waiting list, that's the cause of death.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: Dr. Foote, while under any circumstances delays to being able to see a doctor of more than a year are inexcusable. Is it possible that these veterans did not die because of these wait times?
FOOTE: The original allegation was 40 people died while waiting for care. And they were advertising waiting times of 30 to 55 days when, in fact, they were more like six to seven months. And we had no way of reviewing these charts because it would have been a HIPPA violation to go in and there is other -- some technical reasons. So, we never said that they died because of this. We just made the point that at least 40 veterans, we felt, had died while waiting for care and these needed to be reviewed because they were staying hidden by the Phoenix VA.
WALLACE: Mr. Galucci, at your VFW Convention in 2009, new President Obama promised to fix the system. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: We're going to find the best ideas and put them in action. All with a simple mission: cut those backlogs, slash those wait times, deliver your benefits sooner. I know you've heard this for years, but the leadership and resources we're providing this time means that we're going to be able to do it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: But since this scandal broke -- and look at this map -- there have been stories of secret wait lists and veterans unable to get treatment in at least ten states around the country. Question, didn't the administration, didn't members of Congress have to know this was going on?
GALUCCI: Well, this is one of the problems that we were talking about in the hearing on Thursday, is resourcing for VA. We've seen record increases in the budget. But are the resources going where we need them?
WALLACE: Please answer my direct question. Didn't the people in Washington in the VA and the administration, and members of Congress, who I'm sure were hearing from some of their constituents, didn't they have to know this was going on?
GALUCCI: I think it's naive to think that they didn't know that it was going on. The VFW, our partner organizations have been screaming about this for years, about wait times. That's why we've seen I.G. investigations, government accountability reports. We hope that the attention that's really come to this over the last couple of weeks will finally inspire significant change.
WALLACE: You know, I want to pick up on this question of resources, Dr. Foote. Because part of the problem is a matter of simple supply and demand. As Mr. Galucci mentioned, the VA budget has actually continued to go up over the years, but the number of primary care visits rose 50 percent over the last three years while the number of doctors, primary care doctors rose only nine percent. You have had an interesting suggestion, which is to give a special card to vets so that if they can't get care, can't see a doctor at a VA hospital, they can go anywhere else.
FOOTE: Well, in Arizona, spaces are vast. If you live in Winslow and you have chest pain, your best bet is to quickly get on I- 40 and head to Flagstaff. It would take five or six hours to get to Tucson, which is the only VA in Arizona that does interventional heart work. And so, a veteran care card for emergent and -- or urgent E.R treatment hospitalization, I think, is very important. But in terms of the data, I have a plan to get to the data and seeing VISN employees out to audit the different VISN when they have very little scheduling experience isn't going to yield any useful data. What would be very good is if Deborah Draper and the General Accountability Office could work with the private company like, say, Survey Monkey and survey the primary care providers, nurses, doctors and the clerks at various VA hospitals and collect the data on what they think the real waiting times are and then give a one-week amnesty period to the directors to report their real waiting times. And if they find a significant mismatch between what the directors' report and what the staff is reporting, they need to go out there and audit them. And if they're fudging the books at that point, just fire them and prosecute them to the maximum extent allowed by the law.
WALLACE: So, you're suggesting that this three-week audit that Secretary Shinseki is talking about is not going to turn up the right information?
FOOTE: Complete waste of time and money. Much better with the -- an independent survey by the G.A. ought to be done. This is a computer age. Survey Monkey is -- you know, type stuff, can multiple choice questions that are completely anonymous going to the GAO so there wouldn't be any fear of retaliation.
And they can get the actual data. I mean I know how long it is, because I ask every patient how long have you been waiting? And they said three, six, nine, 12 months. I have a pretty good -- I knew pretty much at the time it was six to nine months when the administration was saying two. So, if you survey all the employees in primary care who deal with this, they could give you an accurate answer and then you could then tell the administration, they have a week to give you the real numbers. And if they don't give you the real numbers, and they don't match, the GAO would see that in a second and then the I.G. could go out and audit them. And that's one way of getting to the real data.
WALLACE: Dr. Foote, Mr. Galucci, I want to thank you both so much for coming in today. We promise we'll stay on top of this story. Thank you, gentlemen.
GALUCCI: Thank you.
WALLACE: When we come back, ""the New York Times" fires its top editor, Jill Abramson. With questions about sexism and equal pay, our panel discusses whether the "Times" is waging its own war on women.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The point is she is doing the exact same job he was doing. So, she should be paid roughly the same amount.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The point I was just making, though. Why then would her successor in her old job make more money than she did? That doesn't make sense to me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: Well, people were talking this week on the new Fox News show "Outnumbered" about the sudden firing of the New York Times top reporter, top editor, rather, Jill Abramson. And we're back now with the panel. This controversy has grown so much that New York Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. was forced to put out a new statement on Saturday. Let's put this up on the screen. "I decided that Jill could no longer remain as executive editor for reasons having nothing to do with pay or gender." Sulzberger continues, "I heard repeatedly from her newsroom colleagues, women and men, about a serious of issues, including arbitrary decision making, a failure to consult and bring colleagues with her, inadequate communication and the public mistreatment of colleagues." Kirsten, are you persuaded?
POWERS: No, I'm not persuaded. And I think it's interesting that they -- The New York Times keep saying that -- they keep referring to her pay package in her last year was 10 percent higher than her predecessor. So, they're looking at the last year and they also keep saying package instead of actually talking about what's important, which is what her salary was and Ken Auletta reported was substantially less than her predecessor. I also think that she was complaining about a pattern of discrimination, if Ken Auletta's reporting at "The New Yorker" has been correct, that she was paid less in multiple jobs, including having a deputy managing editor making more than she was making when she was managing editor, including having another managing editor making more than she was when she was managing editor. And so, when you put it all together, it makes sense that she would have gotten a lawyer which "The New York Times" told Ken Auletta was a contributing factor to her firing. Now, they tried to get a correction to that, that he maintained that's -- what they said. I think that's very problematic. We're always hearing, particularly from conservatives that we don't need to have any laws to protect women in terms of paycheck fairness, because you can just get a lawyer and just fix the problem and I think most women know that that's not really true and this is what happens to you when you get a lawyer.
WALLACE: The editor of Politico magazine Susan Glasser has this story on its website this weekend alongside a photo of Abramson in boxing gloves, the title is "Editing While Female, Field Notes from One of Journalism's Most Dangerous Jobs" and Glasser writes of her, "dismay over the last year as any legitimate questions about her, Abramson's tenure, were subordinated to tiresome, trite, and utterly sexist debates over her, quote, "temperament." Brit, do Jill Abramson and her supporters have a legitimate beef?
HUME: Possibly. But we don't really know what happened. Sulzberger's latest statement is a little vague. I mean if there are, indeed, a number of people who have complained about her management style and if, indeed, she -- he felt that he could not trust her because, for example, she tried to hire a co-managing editor without properly informing or consulting her colleagues, these are all legitimate concerns that senior management would have about any employee in any job. These are reasonable things. And despite the fact that comments about a female employee's temperament can be sexist, it doesn't mean they are sexist. Temperament matters for any manager, and if you're a senior person, the executive editor for "The New York Times" and your temperament doesn't well equip you to do the job and manage all the different egos and all the people you have to deal with, then that's a defect, and a problem for senior management to deal with. So, what I would say is we don't really know. Kirsten may well be right. It's all may have been, you know, a former sexism that fed into this. But it may not be as well. Legitimate question, it seems to me. Although too generally put, have been raised.
WALLACE: One of the points -- the critics of the firing of her, supporters of Abramson raises the fact that Abe Rosenthal was the top editor at "The New York Times" in the late '70s and '80s and was something of a tyrant in the newsroom and one -- no one fired him because of his rough management style.
WILLIAMS: No, but he was extremely effective. I don't think anybody ...
WALLACE: Wait, wait, wait. Jill Abramson, eight Pulitzer prizes during the less than three years she was there.
WILLIAMS: Different standards and I can't tell you -- I don't know the exact number, but I think Abe Rosenthal's Pulitzer tally would more than dwarf what you ...
WALLACE: He was there a lot longer. I mean ...
WALLACE: I mean it was hardly like she was a flop as editor of the paper.
WILLIAMS: No. What I'm saying, though, is when you look at the bottom line it has got to be are you able to manage this team, keep it on line, achieve the goal of what the newspaper has set? And what we heard in the statement from Arthur Sulzberger Jr. was she had lost confidence of her fellow managers, the people on the masthead of the newspaper and especially, I think, in regard to the transition the newspaper was making to digital. And, of course, you know, all newspapers these days are in dire financial situations. And the question is how do you transform your newspaper from a purely print entity into one that goes online and gets all these new eyeballs? And she was slow to it. They just had a new report done by the son of Arthur Sulzberger Jr. saying that there was ...
WALLACE: Join the meritocracy and ...
WILLIAMS: Whatever. Yeah, I mean -- obviously, it's just like affirmative action, you know, if nepotism is OK, affirmative action is not. But anyway, another subject another day. But what the son's report said was, listen, she is so concerned about relations between the newsroom and the business side that she's slowing down this transition that needs to be made if "The Times" is to remain financially viable.
WALLACE: You know, we talk about the fact that The Times won eight Pulitzer prizes under Jill Abramson's tenure. One of the issues that people -- and we're going to talk about this. Is the fact that the way that she was fired. Sulzberger fired here in the middle of the week so suddenly she was gone before the announcement, not allowed to make some kind of a closing statement, her reading glasses reportedly still on her desk after she left and it turns out that Sulzberger also fired Janet Robinson, while Abramson was the first female editor, she was the first woman CEO of The Times company. Karl, The Times writes a lot about equal pay and the GOP war on women, are they living in a glass house?
ROVE: Well, look, I'm with Brit on this. We don't know the details of it. I do know this. This seems to be a dysfunctional institution. It's a publicly traded company. But in essence, "The New York Times" is controlled by the Sulzberger family, we are now in, I guess, the third generation. And it strikes me that you have a publisher who has management problems complaining about a -- his chief person in the newsroom who has, he claims, management problems. There's a tension inside news organizations between the business ads, that Pinch (ph) represents and the news side that Jill represents. And the ...
WALLACE: We probably should point out that Sulzberger's father was known as Punch Sulzberger and ...
ROVE: He is known as Pinch.
WALLACE: Yes. OK.
ROVE: But look, what's amazing to me, is that here we have a news organization that has now become an -- I mean it's like the entire news business is working out all of its angst about the challenges the news business faces and about the tensions between the business and the news side by -- through the prism of the difficulties of the New York Times. And I hope to God the rest of the news world is not as apparently mismanaged by a family run -- as a family-run enterprise as this one appears to be.
WALLACE: You know, I want to get to the question that Brit raised with you, Kirsten. Because look -- she was the first woman editor of the New York Times. Big deal. On the other hand if she's going to be raised to that position as the first woman that also means maybe she could get fired.
POWERS: Of course. She could absolutely get fired. But I think you raise an important point, the way she was treated and I'm far more concerned about the pay discrimination. And look ...
WALLACE: What about the management issue?
POWERS: If it's not ...
WALLACE: Some people say, well, look, she was brusque (ph), and she was difficult, but, you know, there have been plenty of male editors who are brusque and difficult.
POWERS: I think a lot of people -- well, that's the point. Is that I don't believe that the same qualities in a man are necessarily seen the same way, as long as they're performing. And they have not yet really shown how she wasn't performing. They're complaining about the fact that, you know, some people referred to her on background with no names attached as being pushy. Things that you just don't hear being said about men. I also think you have to bear in mind that a lot of women of her generation who have come up and made it to that -- made it that far are going to probably be a little harsher than other people. And she has a lot to be pissed off about if she really has been underpaid this entire time. You know, and I think the fact that she has been so blatantly -- I mean she's probably lost over a period of working there, a million dollars.
HUME: She got fired maybe she wasn't underpaid.
POWERS: Why did she get promoted? She kept getting promoted up the chain. I'm sorry, you don't -- you her successor at the Washington bureau chief making $100,000 more than her when she's being promoted? I mean come on. This is outrageous.
WALLACE: Guys, I'm glad we settled that. Thank you, panel. See you next week.
WALLACE: I'm going to move on. Our "Power Player of the Week," the man behind the effort by the nation's largest pro-business lobbying group to elect what they think are the right kind of Republicans.
WALLACE: After big Tea Party victories in the last two election cycles, this year might be called the establishment strikes back. And one group has been leading the way and trying to ensure the candidate who wins the GOP primary can get elected in November. Here is our power player of the week.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SCOTT REED, U.S. CHAMBER OF COMMERCE: When we see candidates out there talking about we want to come to Washington and shut the place down, that's kind of a threshold issue for us at the chamber. And we're going to go in and try to stop that.
WALLACE: Scott Reed is senior political strategist for the Chamber of Commerce. And this year he is leading a multi-million dollar effort to make sure the right kind of Republicans win GOP primaries.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Support Stewart Mills, a job creator for Kansas.
WALLACE: In North Carolina, they supported State Speaker Tom Tillis against Tea Party challengers. So he could avoid a runoff and go after Democratic incumbent Kay Hagan.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Kay Hagan went to Washington and well -- went Washington. Tom Tillis, a bold conservative who balanced our budget and reduced regulations.
WALLACE: In Mississippi, the chamber is backing GOP Senator Ted Cochran against his Tea Party challenger.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Meet the real Chris McDaniel, a personal injury class action trial lawyer using the courts to seek an enormous payday.
WALLACE (on camera): Some people see this as a battle between the establishment, on the one hand, chamber part of that establishment, versus the Tea Party in the other.
REED: Well, I would say the Tea Party and the Chamber of Commerce actually have a lot in common. We believe it's when a handful of bad actors take over the Tea Party that things get a little out of hand.
WALLACE (voice over): And Reed doesn't shy away from naming names.
REED: Senate Conservative Fund that goes out and raises money to try to defeat the Senate Majority Leader. This would be unheard of 20 years ago if anybody did that. They would be run out of town.
WALLACE: And the Club for Growth.
REED: It's now morphed into a very dangerous operation that goes out and recruits trial lawyers to run against members of Congress that have an over 90 percent record with the business community. I mean it's absurd.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Create good jobs.
WALLACE: Scott Reed was executive director of the GOP in 1994 when it won control of both the House and Senate for the first time in 40 years. In 1996, he ran Bob Dole's presidential campaign. Now a political consultant, he decided to get aggressively involved in primaries so the party won't end up with nominees who can't win in November.
REED: If you say something stupid, we're not going to support you. Because if it crosses the line and it's disrespectful, we're out.
WALLACE: This week, the chamber's president, Tom Donohue, took another controversial stand, saying the GOP must pass immigration reform.
TOM DONOHUE, PRESIDENT, U.S. CHAMBER OF COMMERCE: If the Republicans don't do it, they shouldn't bother to run a candidate in 2016.
WALLACE (on camera): The argument is that splits the party.
REED: We're in the solution business at the chamber. That's what makes the world go round economically.
WALLACE (voice over): It's one more sign the chamber and Reed intend to turn the debate inside the GOP their way.
REED: This is the fundamental fault liner right now, and, you know, in this business, somebody wins and somebody loses. And we're focused on trying to win this year.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: But it's not just about Republicans. The chamber prides itself on being nonpartisan and Reed says they'll also back some pro-business Democrats this election. And that's it for today. Have a great week, and we'll see you next "Fox News Sunday."
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