SUNDAY: Chris will sit down for an exclusive interview with OMB Director Mick Mulvaney.
Gowdy, Schiff on Hillary Clinton email controversy; Barrasso, Cardin on tug-of-war between White House, Congress
Written by Chris Wallace / Published March 15, 2015 / Fox News Sunday
Special Guests: Rep. Trey Gowdy, Rep. Adam Schiff, Sen. John Barrasso, Sen. Ben Cardin
This is a rush transcript from "Fox News Sunday," March 15, 2015. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
CHRIS WALLACE, ANCHOR: I'm Chris Wallace.
Hillary Clinton finally talks about her private e-mails. But the controversy over that arrangement only intensifies.
HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: I opted for convenience to use my personal e-mail account. I thought it would be easier to carry just one device for my work and for my personal e-mails.
REP. TREY GOWDY, R-S.C., CHAIRMAN OF SELECT COMMITTEE ON BENGHAZI: If she wants somebody to show her how to put two e-mail accounts on one phone, I'm happy to do it.
WALLACE: We'll talk with a man spearheading efforts to get all of Clinton's e-mails. Chair of the House Benghazi Committee, Trey Gowdy.
Is this just a personal smear? We'll have a Democrat on the committee, Adam Schiff.
Then, a fierce backlash after 47 GOP senators send e-mails to Iran's leaders questioning a nuclear deal.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think it's somewhat ironic to see some members of Congress wanting to make common cause with the hard liners in Iran.
WALLACE: We'll discuss the tug of war between the White House and Congress with two members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, John Barrasso and Ben Cardin.
Plus, two Ferguson, Missouri, police officers are ambushed, reigniting racial tensions.
ERIC HOLDER, ATTORNEY GENERAL: This was not someone trying to bring healing to Ferguson. This was a damn punk, a punk.
WALLACE: Our Sunday group weighs in.
And our Power Player of the Week, Afghanistan's first lady, Rula Ghani, on taking a stand for women's rights.
RULA GHANI, AFGHANISTAN'S FIRST LADY: It's true, it's unchartered water. Because they are unchartered, I can try a lot of things.
WALLACE: All, right now, on "Fox News Sunday."
WALLACE: And hello again from Fox News in Washington.
It began as an investigation into Benghazi, but now Hillary Clinton is being forced to answer for her handling of e-mails while she was secretary of state. The House Benghazi Committee has issued a subpoena for Clinton's e-mails and called for an independent review of her private server.
Joining us now, the chairman of that committee, South Carolina Republican, Trey Gowdy.
Chairman, the State Department has turned over 300 of Clinton's e- mails on Benghazi, some 900 pages last month to the Benghazi Committee that you're the chair of. Based on what you've seen, did she do anything wrong? And how can you be sure that those aren't all of her e-mails on this subject?
GOWDY: Well, I'm not sure what you mean by doing anything wrong. I mean, we haven't seen obviously any evidence of a crime and if we do get some level of assurance that we have all of the e-mails and we don't have any level of assurance because of the arrangement she had with herself, then I'll let your viewers decide whether or not there were any mistakes made, but I have no guarantee that we have everything that we're entitled to, to be able to do our jobs.
WALLACE: Why do you have doubts about that, sir?
GOWDY: Well, there are huge gaps. Chris, if you think back to that iconic photograph of her on the C-17 with her BlackBerry in her hand, she's on her way to Libya, and there are know mails for weeks and weeks on either side of that trip, including the trip itself.
Now, it may be that there's a plausible explanation for that, but we're going to have to ask her before we will know that.
WALLACE: In her conference, Secretary Clinton said that she basically turned over 30,000 e-mails to the State department after a routine request to her and to all of the secretaries of state. Here she is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLINTON: After I left office, the State Department asked former secretaries of state for our assistance in providing copies of work-related e-mails from our personal accounts. I responded right away.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: In fact, Chairman, what role did your committee play in bringing about the State Department, asking her to turn over e-mails that she hadn't turned over for the two years since she left office?
GOWDY: Well, Chris, I won't be able to answer that question definitively. Only the State Department knows the impetus behind that letter. I find the timing incredibly curious and I think the State Department had to correct its testimony so to speak on multiple occasions. We asked for those e-mails as early as August of 2014 and we got eight of them. So we ratcheted up the conversations and then we got 300 in February.
Why they decided to write four former secretaries of state under a routine records maintenance program, it just doesn't pass the smile test, but you're going to have to ask the State Department that question.
WALLACE: All right. The only way to see -- she said in her news conference she turned over 30,000 e-mails, she deleted 30,000 e-mails. The only way to see those 30,000 that she says were personal, would be to look at her private server, but Clinton made it very clear in her news conference the answer to that is no. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLINTON: The server contains personal communications from my husband and me and I believe I have met all of my responsibilities and the server will remain private.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: Now, you say your committee can't subpoena personal property. They can documents, papers, but not personal properties like a server. On the other hand, the House of Representatives, the full House, can. Should they?
GOWDY: Well, we shouldn't have to. I hope it doesn't get to that point. It's an open legal question and any time you litigate something you're talking about years and years. I think an imminently reasonable alternative is for her to turn over that server to an independent, neutral third party.
She says she deleted personal e-mails. Chris, I have zero interest in looking at her personal e-mails. I don't care about her yoga practice. I don't care about bridesmaids dresses. I don't want to see that.
But who gets to decide what's personal and what's public? And if it's a mixed-use e-mail and lots of e-mails we get in life are both personal and some work, I just can't trust her lawyers to make the determination that the public is getting everything they're entitled to.
WALLACE: But she said in that news conference, because she was specifically asked about this idea, have an independent person, somebody neutrally agreeable come in and look at the server, and that's when she said it will remain private.
GOWDY: Well, there are lots of ways to motivate people in life, Chris. One is public pressure. If it becomes an issue for her, if the public believes it is reasonable for her to turn over that server which contains public information to a neutral, detached arbiter, not Congress but a retired judge or an archivist or an inspector general, then she'll be forced to do so. Otherwise, the House as an institution, may be forced to go to court to try to get access to that.
But again, the house has no business looking at purely personal e- mails, but by the same token, she doesn't get to decide what is purely personal and what is public.
WALLACE: Now, in her news conference, Clinton said she has complied with every rule, every law during the time that she was secretary of state.
As a former federal prosecutor, do you believe that to be true, sir?
GOWDY: Chris, I was a very mediocre prosecutor and I did no federal records cases. I'm going to have to let smart lawyers decide whether or not she complied with the law or not.
I know this, I have been asked to find out what happened before, during and after Benghazi and I need her records to do that. And I cannot take her lawyer's word that he went through and used all the right search terms. I mean, that's one question she didn't answer is -- how did you search for public records? How did you reconcile personal versus -- versus public?
So, there are a lot more questions and we have to go to her to get the answers to them. I don't want to have a second conversation with her. And two weeks ago, we weren't planning on having a second conversation with her, but she had an arrangement with herself as it relates to public records, and that's why you and I are having this conversation.
WALLACE: I want to ask you about this document. This is the separation statement that every member of the State Department must sign. It's called OF Form 109. Every, as I say, every employee of the State Department must sign it before they leave, and they must certify, "I have surrendered to responsible officials all unclassified documents and papers relating to the official business of the government acquired by me while in the employ of the department."
Two questions, Chairman, do you know if Secretary Clinton signed that form before she left the State Department? And secondly, whether she met that pledge, which is to be enforced as a felony by either prison time or a disqualification from public office?
GOWDY: No, I do not know if she signed that. And it would be irresponsible to -- for me to guess. The responsible thing to do is to ask her and ask the State Department to produce a copy of it. And if she did not sign it, ask her why she did not sign it. And if she did sign it, we'll go over the document with her.
But when you don't have evidence one way or another, I'm not in the business of speculating. So, I would have to ask her and the State Department that.
WALLACE: Finally, we're about to talk to Congressman Adam Schiff, a Democrat on your committee. He says that you are turning this investigation and this committee into an arm of the Republican National Committee aimed at hurting Hillary Clinton.
GOWDY: Well, first of all, Chris, I like Adam very much and he's a very good attorney. If you look back at the three hearings we have had so far, I have mentioned Hillary Clinton's name a whopping zero times.
We would never be having this conversation and Adam would not be on your set right now had she not had an arrangement with herself to decide what is public record and what is personal. So, if he is frustrated with the last two weeks, he needs to talk to Secretary Clinton. We were interviewing witnesses that have nothing to do with Secretary Clinton when this story broke.
So, to the extent Democrats are frustrated, they should talk to Secretary Clinton, not me. I didn't tell her to get a personal server. I didn't tell her to hire her attorney to go through these 60,000 records, and, Lord knows I didn't tell her to delete 30,000 of them.
So, he should probably direct that frustration towards her and not to the House.
WALLACE: Chairman Gowdy, thank you. Thanks for joining us today.
And now, let's bring in that member of the Benghazi committee, Democrat Congressman Adam Schiff of California.
What do you think about his response -- whatever happened here is all on Hillary Clinton?
REP. ADAM SCHIFF, D-CALIF., SELECT COMMITTEE ON BENGHAZI: Chris, we would be exactly where we are regardless of what Secretary Clinton did with her e-mails. The reality is that we haven't been talking about Secretary Clinton in the committee because they wanted to put off her testimony as far into the presidential cycle as possible. And this is only the most recent justification for that.
We have been asking for her to come in. She has volunteered to come in and testify. So, I think this is really unfortunately just an effort to push this far into that campaign as possible.
WALLACE: But wait a minute here. I mean, doesn't it bother you that Clinton and her lawyer by themselves decided which of those 60,000 e-mails were public and government and turned over and which were private, which she deleted. Is that your idea of transparency?
SCHIFF: Chris, let's say she did it the way we like. She had a separate e-mail account for her government emails and for her private. We would be in the same place, people would be saying, well, how can we trust that she only used the official e-mail account --
WALLACE: Well, forgive me, I'm not sure it wouldn't be exactly the same, to the extent that it would have been a contemporaneous record, because she would have been sending these -- you know, there's a different vantage point in 2015 than there might have been in 2009, '10 and '11, as she was sending these on a government account which she didn't have.
SCHIFF: Chris, I think you're giving our committee too much credit. We would be exactly where we are, because the whole purpose of this committee is really Secretary Clinton. It has long since been about anything else.
So, we would be in the same place. My chairman, who I respect a great deal, would be saying the same thing. We can't let Secretary Clinton grade her own papers, whatever that means. We can't let her decide which to put on the official e-mail and which to use for her private e-mail. So, we need that server any way.
WALLACE: So, you think this was adequate transparency on her part?
SCHIFF: I think we need to handle the situation exactly as we did in a very similar situation in the last administration, and that is when we learned that the president's chief of staff under George W. Bush and about 80 other mini senior officials were using the Republican National Committee e-mail server for official business, we didn't go and say we demand to have that server. We need to get the Republican server to an independent arbiter. No, we said we're going to have people certify that they've given us the documents. We'll talk with them about how they did the searches.
WALLACE: I was going to ask you about that.
SCHIFF: That's what we should be doing here.
WALLACE: That isn't quite what happened. I actually looked back. This was during the whole question of the firing of U.S. attorneys during the George W. Bush administration and you were one of the people leading the charge, saying this was outrageous that they were using, you know, one set of accounts, government accounts and then doing other business on RNC accounts.
You were objecting to that.
SCHIFF: I was objecting to politicizing the hires and firing of U.S. attorneys, absolutely. But I was never saying we need the Republican National Committee server. I never made that claim.
WALLACE: But you were upset about the fact that they had two separate accounts.
SCHIFF: Committee Chairman Henry Waxman. So, the question is, why are we handling this different? Is this because Secretary Clinton is running for president? And I think the answer is absolutely that's why we're handling this different.
I think that the reason we're so reluctant to talk about Jeb Bush's use of his server has everything to do with the presidential race. Why isn't that fair topic of conversation here? He used a private e-mail server for official business? Are we letting Jeb Bush be his own judge and jury? Are we letting him grade his own homework?
WALLACE: First of all, he turned over hundreds of thousands of e- mails in addition to which I think you agree the security implications of the governor of Florida and secretary of state are different. But let me ask you --
SCHIFF: But this too, Chris, in fairness, it's taken him 7 1/2 years. People are criticizing Secretary Clinton for doing this last year, two years out. It's taken him 7 1/2 years and we're still getting documents from Governor Bush.
WALLACE: I want to ask you about this Form 109, the separation statement. It's awfully clear and basically every employee of the State Department has to sign and swear that they have turned over all of their papers, all -- classified and unclassified -- that they had when they were in the Office in the State Department. And if they don't, if they sign it and they have broken that pledge, it's a felony, they could go to prison. They could be disqualified from public office.
One, do you know if she signed it? And, two, did she live up to this pledge?
SCHIFF: Well, I don't know if she signed it. I assume we'll find out. I hope we'll find out about whether all prior secretaries have signed it.
WALLACE: But let's talk about her.
SCHIFF: But let's also talk about Benghazi, Chris.
WALLACE: No, no, I'm asking you -- forgive me, I'm asking about this.
WALLACE: She clearly didn't live up to this pledge, you would agree?
SCHIFF: I don't know what the terms of that require. I haven't had - -
WALLACE: I'll hand it to you. It says what I said. I have turned everything over.
SCHIFF: That I acquired. Now, I don't know what that means exactly and we would have to study it.
But let's be fair about this, we are talking about investigation on Benghazi, right? What does this have to do with Benghazi? And the answer is absolutely nothing.
This committee has long since departed from being a committee about Benghazi. It's now a special investigation of Secretary State Hillary Clinton. Otherwise what possible relevance does that have on Benghazi?
WALLACE: So, if Trey Gowdy is acting as an arm of the RNC to go after Clinton. Aren't you in effect acting as an arm of the DNC to protect her?
SCHIFF: No, I'm acting as a steward of the House to keep a tax-payer funded investigation on track doing what it's supposed to be doing.
Look, I have great respect for Trey. I like him very much and I think he has resisted the pressure to turn this into an arm of the RNC, but we knew about this private e-mail server, private e-mails last August. It's only when this became public "The New York Times" that I think the pressure became too great on the chairman and the committee to politicize this and reluctantly I think that's where we've gone.
WALLACE: I've got 30 seconds left. I know you want to talk about this letter that 47 Republicans sent the leaders of the Iran over the talks of a nuclear deal.
SCHIFF: I think it's appalling to interfere in a negotiation like this that the commander-in-chief has engaged. I think that Democrats and Republicans House and Senate members ought to keep their powder dry. Let's see whether there is a deal. Let's see what the terms of that deal are, but I am shocked and I think it's a terrible thing for the institution.
WALLACE: We're going to have more on that later.
Congressman Schiff, thank you. Thanks for coming in today.
SCHIFF: Thanks, Chris.
WALLACE: And we'll follow where your committee goes next.
So, did Hillary's explanation of how she handled her e-mails help her or raise more questions? Our Sunday group joins the conversation.
Plus, what would you like to ask the panel about the e-mail controversy? Just go to Facebook or Twitter @FoxNewsSunday, and we may use your question on the air.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLINTON: I'd be happy if somebody talk to you about the rules. I fully complied with every rule that I was governed by.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: Hillary Clinton saying she did nothing wrong in the way she handled her e-mails as secretary of state. But how persuasive was she?
Time to bring in our Sunday group: The Weekly Standard's Steve Hayes, USA Today columnist Kirsten Powers, GOP strategist Karl Rove, and Fox News political analyst, Juan Williams.
So, Karl, we were talking with Congressman Schiff. You were one of the people taking heat. You had one White House account. You also had a separate political account. In fact, you had to because you couldn't do government business or political business on the government account.
How big a deal do you think this Hillary Clinton thing is? And how big a role will it play in her campaign?
KARL ROVE, GOP STRATEGIST: It will be big in that it reaffirms a vision, a narrative that people have about the Clinton that they are governed by a different set of rules, and that we're going to have throughout the entire course of the campaign, whether it's foreign contributions to their foundation, or Huma Abedin getting a salary from a private company selling intelligence to foreign entities on American politics, at the same time she's getting a salary at the State Department.
We'll have a whole series of these things that are the Clinton's operating in a sense of entitlement.
I have to admit, I was amused at Congressman Schiff. You're right. RNC accounts were there for political activity at the Republican -- at the White House. Because of the Hatch Act, we had to have a separate account, but we were told these are presidential records. They were periodically swept and added into the White House archives.
In fact, there was a kerfuffle when they were thought to be missing and Congressman Schiff was one of the people going the loudest and strongest with Secretary Clinton who at that point was running for president, also accusing the White House of secret e-mail accounts.
WALLACE: She said it shredded the Constitution.
ROVE: Shredded the Constitution.
Of course, they found those 22 million e-mails in the White House archives, and they went before the committee. It was a complete circus. One of big charges had to do with Don Siegelman, the governor of --
WALLACE: Let's not re-litigate 2007.
ROVE: Bottom line is I was laughing listening to him trying to defend something after listening to him so piously screaming and shouting about secret e-mail accounts in 2007 and 2008.
WALLACE: We ask you for questions for the panel and we got this on Facebook from Paul Indre who writes, "How will this affect her, Hillary's big-time donors? Do they continue to invest in her or do they start shopping for another candidate to support?"
Kirsten, how do you answer Paul? I mean, from your soundings, how upset are Democrats? How worried are they? And are they beginning to look around?
KIRSTEN POWERS, USA TODAY COLUMNIST: Well, I think they are worried about it. But I also think there's nobody else that is even in her league. So, the idea that there's anyone to shop around for, the feeling is she's the best candidate. She's -- there's nobody who has come close to her.
So, I think that one of the concerns is what Karl raised is that it feeds into a narrative. You know, that the Clinton's are secretive, that she seemed very defensive. She -- the way she handled that press conference was concerning to people, that this doesn't seem like somebody who is ready for primetime, which is strange to say for somebody who has been in primetime for such a long time.
So, the flip side of it is she's very good at turning things around into where she's the victim and so, I can see as you start to see Republicans piling on. I think she's going to probably be able to turn this around a little bit and say, oh, see, here they come again. You know, Clinton derangement syndrome, they're coming after me -- and it will make people rally around her a little bit.
WALLACE: Steve, our colleague Charles Krauthammer had a column on Friday and the lead line was Clinton burn the tapes. And in effect, what he was saying was, if Richard Nixon had handled Watergate the way Hillary Clinton has handled this, that he would have survived in his presidency, not to compare the crimes of Watergate and Nixon White House to what we know so far here.
But doesn't he have a point that she has, you know, she's deleted 30,000 e-mails, we don't know if she destroyed her hard drive, but to a certain degree, she's rendered a lot of this discussion mute?
STEVE HAYES, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: Yes, I think it's a huge problem for her for the reasons that both Kirsten and Karl suggest. But, look, even if you believe the Clinton and the way they described their process, they did these keyword searches, went through and deleted e-mails that were not from dotgov e-mail addresses. That doesn't address the problem, that doesn't solve the problem.
And to go to your point, the questions that you were asking Adam Schiff, there's not just Form OF-109. There's another form, 1904, where a State Department official has to certify that the person who's removed this material has gotten permission to remove the material.
Where is that form? Was that ever signed? Was it requested? There's all this documentation that she hasn't provided in addition to her server, in addition to these missing e-mails. And I think -- you know, until she does, these are questions that are going to follow her around.
WALLACE: I think we can agree, Juan, there were a lot of good things about the Clinton years. We had relative peace and prosperity. We had balanced budgets. We had welfare reforms. Some would say Newt Gingrich forced that on the president.
On the other hand, there were a lot of things that we all didn't like, scandals, the parsing of words, the playing by different set of rules. Does this -- this is something I think Karl and Kirsten were talking about, does this feed into that in a sense remind people of the bad parts of the Clinton years?
JUAN WILLIAMS, FOX NEWS POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think it does. I don't -- you know, I mean, just to pick up by the way on something my friends here are talking about which I think is from a historical point of view, you want the historical record from a journalist point of view, that's why A.P. is suing. You should have some transparency.
Now on to the political part, Chris, I don't think that -- you know, when people look back on file-gate, Whitewater and all the rest, what did James Carville, the old Clintonista, say this week, he said, you look back on it, it all amounts to a bunch of nothing. And I think that's largely the response from the Democratic community.
Initially concerned that, you know what, we're setting a precedent here through Hillary Clinton's behavior that others can subsequently can follow. Republicans can say, yes, I'm going to keep my e-mails secret now, too.
But I think there has been such a feeding frenzy on the right over this issue that people think it's way out of line, and it's to the point where it's almost like a poker player turn over the table and saying, we're out of here with a big bluff because they got nothing when it comes to actually winning the 2016 campaign. Hillary Clinton is seven to eight points, according to Real Clear Politics, ahead of any Republican candidate at this point and you see these Republicans. Oh, yes, e-mail, e-mail, e- mail.
When Karl was in trouble back in '07, no press conference. Just about zero press coverage of this.
WALLACE: I don't think that's the right --
ROVE: That's not the right line.
ROVE: No, hold on.
WALLACE: Wait a minute. So, you're saying that basically the press was protecting George W. Bush and after Hillary? Is that your point?
WALLACE: Wait, wait, let Karl.
WILLIAMS: I went back and looked. There was one "Washington Post" editorial and basically said you guys didn't get good guidance.
ROVE: No, no, Juan, there may have been one editorial. I remember a lot more op-eds than one.
But, look, here's the point, if you're trying to say, oh, they were not tough on Rove, but they're being too tough on Clinton -- well, maybe that's because she was the secretary of state and I was a White House aide and she is violating the rules that were lay down by -- they fired an ambassador -- Clinton on her watch, she fired --
WILLIAMS: But, Karl, you fired a bunch of U.S. attorneys.
ROVE: -- she fired an ambassador for having a private e-mail account while she has a private e-mail account.
WILLIAMS: Karl, you were -- Karl, let me affirm, you're a powerful man in Bush White House. And you were firing U.S. attorneys. And it was - -
ROVE: No, no, no. I hate to have to continue to correct you.
WILLIAMS: And 95 percent of your e-mails were RNC --
ROVE: I'm sorry to have to continue to correct you.
WALLACE: No, you like correcting him. Come on, admit it.
ROVE: Even the Obama Justice Department did two investigations and found there was no improper White House interference.
ROVE: So, I appreciate the drive-by, but get your facts straight.
WALLACE: All right. No, no, no. Wait, wait.
WILLIAMS: Jeb Bush has a private e-mail. You had private e-mail.
ROVE: I had no private e-mail. I was told --
WILLIAMS: What was the RNC e-mail, Karl?
ROVE: I was told right from the beginning that it was treated as a presidential record and was periodically swept and dumped into the White House archives, which is exactly what happened.
HAYES: One thing about private e-mails, one thing about private e- mails, one thing we learned this week is that both Cheryl Mills and Human Abedin were using private e-mails to communicate at the State Department.
WALLACE: Chief of staff and Huma Abedin --
HAYES: And somebody who is instrumentally involved in putting down --
WALLACE: Which also puts -- it contradicts the idea that if she's sending e-mails to them, that they were being saved --
ROVE: Huma Abedin, courtesy of somebody inside Bill Clinton's office, we know Huma Abedin is the person who requested the private e-mail be established for Hillary Clinton.
WALLACE: Oh, OK, that's interesting. Well, there you go. Glad we settled this.
All right. We have to take a break and we'll see you all later. Boy, I don't know -- stay off the caffeinated coffee.
ROVE: I don't want to sit next to Juan.
WALLACE: Up next, the deadline -- guys -- up next, the deadline is now just two weeks away from the Iran's nuclear program and the White House just warned Congress to stop interfering after 47 Republican senators sent a letter to Iran's leader. We'll talk with two key members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
And what do you think? Did that letter to the ayatollahs cross the line? Let me know on Facebook or Twitter @FoxNewsSunday, and use #fns.
WALLACE: Secretary of State Kerry is set to resume talks tonight on Iran's nuclear program ahead of this month's deadline to strike a deal. But those talks were complicated when 47 Republican senators sent this letter to Iran's leaders. They wrote, "The next president could revoke such an executive agreement with the stroke of a pen. And future congresses could modify the terms of the agreement at any time." The White House responded last night warning Congress to stop interfering in the negotiations. Joining us now, two members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Republican John Barrasso of Wyoming who signed that Iran letter. And Democrat Ben Cardin of Maryland who says it was a partisan effort to weaken the president at a critical time. Senators, welcome back to "Fox News Sunday."
SEN. JOHN BARRASSO, R-WY., FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE: Thanks for having us.
SEN. BEN CARDIN, D-MD., FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE: Good to be here.
WALLACE: Senator Barrasso, here is how Secretary Kerry described your letter to Iran's leaders this weekend. Here he is. --
All right. Any way he was very unhappy with it. And he said (INAUDIBLE), you know, he has never been better. And said this was a terrible negotiation and interfering with the effort to make a peace deal. And White House chief of staff -- and let's put this up, I hope we have got this. Denis McDonough sent a warning last night that legislation that is being proposed suggesting that Congress must approve a deal would likely have a profoundly negative impact on the ongoing negotiation. Senator Barrasso, is it unreasonable for the White House to say, wait until we see what the deal is, if there's a deal, before you start weighing in.
BARRASSO: The president has said only after they signed the deal will Congress get a chance to weigh in. And this letter last night from the White House was to both parties because this is bipartisan legislation. The letter last night said that the president wants to go first to the Security Council of the United Nations before going to the Congress of the United States. And you have to ask, why is that? Why is he saying both to Republicans and Democrats, sit down and be quiet. And I think it's because it's a bad deal that the president is so eager and desperate because of his legacy to get any deal that he's going to sign a bad one.
WALLACE: Senator Cardin, as Senator Barrasso points out, there's a bipartisan group of senators that had been proposing legislation to say -- look, once you get a deal, we want to be able to weigh in on it. It was very close to a veto-approved majority. What do you think of the demand and you can see it in this letter that Congress must not interfere with the White House and that you have got to stay out of it?
CARDIN: Well, look, our objective is to get an agreement with Iran where they give up their nuclear weapon of breakout capacity. That's our objective. We want this president to have the strength of the United States behind this negotiation. The letters signed by the 47 senators weakened the president's negotiating ability. That was wrong. There's no agreement yet. We have to give the president the opportunity to negotiate an agreement because that is the best option for the United States.
WALLACE: But you were in favor of the corker legislation, correct?
CARDIN: The Congress is going to have to be engaged here. We imposed the sanctions.
WALLACE: So, what do you think of the president saying stay out of it?
CARDIN: The president's letter said he doesn't want to see any action before the March 24th deadline. And I agree with that.
WALLACE: I think he was saying until there's any deal signed period.
CARDIN: No, if you read the letter, he said during these negotiations there will be plenty of time afterwards. He also said that Congress is going to have to take action in regards to the sanctions. I do think Congress has a role to play. And there's a bipartisan effort for how Congress should review any agreement reached by the president in regards to the Iran sanctions because we impose the sanctions, the congress of the United States.
WALLACE: But wait a minute on that. Because if there's a deal the White House says it won't be a treaty. It will be something called an executive agreement. And this weekend, Secretary Kerry and, boy I hope that we see this one, was very clear about what that will mean.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN KERRY, SECRETARY OF STATE: As far as we are concerned, the Congress has no ability to change an executive agreement.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: So he's saying, you know, once that's signed, you guys are out of it. And I want to get back to Senator Barrasso's point. Because at the same time the White House is saying and Dennis McDonough does in the letter, we're going to take this to the U.N. and ask them if we get a deal to lift sanctions. So what do you think about this idea, yeah, we're going to put it to a vote at the U.N., but Congress, per Secretary Kerry is going to have to stay out?
CARDIN: The president has certain powers as president of the United States, the Congress has powers as the legislative branch. We respect both branches. The president has every right to enter into agreements. Every president has done that and major policy agreements with other countries and multi-national agreements. He has every right to do that. Ultimately the Congress is the policy arm of government. We have the right to pass legislation. We can counter what the president has done. We can support what the president has done. In regards to Iran, we have a common objective. And that objective is to prevent Iran from having the capacity for a nuclear weapon.
WALLACE: So, when John Kerry says, Congress has no ability to change an executive agreement, you say ...
CARDIN: I don't think that's exactly what the secretary said.
WALLACE: No, it is. I have got the quote right here.
CARDIN: But he was in context to an agreement entered in to be with the president in all the countries. The president has the right to do that. The Congress can pass laws. And if those laws become effective, those laws control.
WALLACE: Senator Barrasso for all the GOP outrage about this arrangement and an executive agreement, the fact is, it isn't so unusual. Let's put up some history on the screen. The 2012 strategic partnership that President Obama worked up with Afghanistan was an executive agreement and so was the 2009 status of forces agreement that President Bush negotiated with Iraq. So what's the difference?
BARRASSO: Well, when Barack Obama was in the Senate and Joe Biden was in the Senate, they sponsored -- cosponsored legislation that said the Bush arrangements with Iraq had to come to Congress.
This is my concern, a world where Iran has a nuclear weapon is less safe, less secure and the concern is that this is going to be a bad agreement. We were supposed to actually dismantle Iran's capacity for a nuclear weapon and now the president has gotten to a point where, no, it's just about delaying. It's not about stopping. It's about managing. So, those are the concerns that I see a bad agreement coming. I think that we are seeing Iran taking more and more power and across the whole Middle East they have this arc of dominance that is including not just Iran, but Iraq as well as Syria, all the way to the Mediterranean.
WALLACE: Let me if I can talking about Iran, here is the letter. The letter that you and 46 other Republicans signed, sent to the leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran and, in fact, you got an answer from the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, who says that the GOP letter shows, and let's put this up on the screen, Washington is disintegrating and is a, quote, sign of a decline in political ethics in the U.S. Senator Barrasso, if there's no deal, haven't you in effect given Iran a weapon that they can say if these talks break down, hey, look, you have half of the Senate saying, you know, whatever the deal is, we're not going to abide by it. Haven't you given them a weapon to blame it on the U.S. and isn't it going to make it harder for an international coalition of us with our allies to maintain sanctions against Iraq?
BARRASSO: I think it's very important with regard to Iran to make sure that no deal is better than a bad deal. And I'm very concerned about a bad deal.
WALLACE: But that's not -- that's not my point, sir. What I'm saying is, by sending this letter, you could have sent it to the president, you could have sent it to the American people, by sending it to the leader of Iran, haven't you given them an excuse and the hard liners an excuse to drop out saying hey 47 Republican senators say this is worthless.
BARRASSO: I think by sending that letter, we focused the attention where it should be on the debate about the deal. The president hasn't wanted to talk about it for six years. Iran with a nuclear weapon. Now the focus is on what it means if Iran gets a nuclear weapon to use themselves, to give to terrorists who can use it against us. And this is all about Iran and sanctions. They want the money. Iran wants the money so they can then spend it in other ways for terrorism.
WALLACE: I've got a minute left and I want to ask Senator Cardin about something else. Doesn't President Obama bear some responsibility for this? He has taken executive action, he has ignored Congress, whether it comes to immigration or climate change or Cuba and isn't this a response to the fact that the president has ignored the separation of powers under the Constitution?
CARDIN: No, I think the president's actions is where Congress didn't act. Congress would have passed immigration before ...
WALLACE: I understand, but under the Constitution Congress has to act, the president doesn't get to ...
CARDIN: But it hasn't. But Congress has not acted. And these issues ...
WALLACE: I know. But then there's no action.
CARDIN: The president has inherent powers. He can use those powers. If Congress takes action, Congress will speak. And that's -- we can always have the last word, but we have to pass action.
WALLACE: Senator Barrasso, to what degree did the president's executive actions play into this?
BARRASSO: Well, I think it played into it a lot. The American public is very concerned about this president. And I mean the sad truth is, he does a very bad job on foreign relations. He's done it with the Syria and the red line. He's done it with ISIS in terms of underestimating, calling them a jayvee team. Yemen, he called a success story right until the Iranians took over Yemen. So, I think that the president needs input from Congress. He would benefit from input from Congress.
WALLACE: Senator Barrasso, Senator Cardin. I want to thank you both so much for coming in today. We'll stay on top of these talks.
BARRASSO: And Wyoming is going to the (INAUDIBLE) 64 of the NCAA. They won the Mountain West tournament last night.
WALLACE: So is Harvard.
WALLACE: So is Maryland, there you go.
Up next, we're very happy here. Up next, racial tensions reignited in Ferguson, Missouri, this week after two police officers are shot during a protest. But who is to blame? We'll bring back the panel.
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(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SHERIFF DAVID CLARKE, MILWAUKEE COUNTY: It was my biggest fear when President Obama and Eric Holder, along with Bill de Blasio, trashed the reputation of an entire profession.
RUDY GIULIANI: The wrong impression was created by the president, making such a big deal out of this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke and former New York City Mayor, Rudy Giuliani, part of a chorus of critics who say that President Obama and Attorney General Holder bear some responsibility for the shooting of two policemen in Ferguson, Missouri this week. And we're back now with the panel. Karl, you heard this from a lot of conservatives this week, the president and attorney general piled on the white police officer who has now been cleared in the shooting of Michael Brown. Then they went after the Ferguson police department. Do you think that they played any role in the climate that led to the shooting of these two police officers?
KARL ROVE, FORMER BUSH WHITE HOUSE ADVISER: I want to divorce these things. They led to the climate, but I'm not certain the climate created the act. The act was created by an individual who took those shots and tried to kill police officers. I am worried about the president's language. When the president goes on Jimmy Kimmel and says, quote, "whoever fired those shots shouldn't detract from the issue." That's sort of weird. It's like, you know, it's like his condemnation of the shooter is that he was detracting from the bigger, more important issue which was the conduct of the police department.
WALLACE: Let me -- it's interesting because I was going to bring that up. Let's play that tape.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I think that what had been happening in Ferguson was oppressive and objectionable, and was worthy of protest, but there was no excuse for criminal acts. And whoever fired those shots shouldn't detract from the issue.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: Go ahead, Karl.
ROVE: Well, Attorney General Holder, in his 24-minute long news conference said "searing account of unconstitutional practices." The police department routinely violated the Fourth Amendment. The use of tazers was not merely unconstitutional, but abusive and dangerous. And I bet you a dime to a dollar, there's not a specific indictment of a specific officer over any of these practices.
I think they hyped this. Yeah, there were bad things going on. But if there were unconstitutional practices, they have got to be putting people in front of the bar ...
ROVE: And hold them accountable. Well, because look -- they went back before and, you know, they raised the expectations, I think, that there was going to be an indictment of the officer and there wasn't. That there was going to be an indictment of the department, there wasn't. And, you know, if there is actionable grounds, do something about it, don't go out there and say these kind of things, particularly the president's weird comment.
WALLACE: Yeah, I wanted to ask you, Juan, about that, because it seemed to me it was very off kilter. I mean he -- these are two policemen who had been shot and suddenly we're saying I hope that won't detract from the issue as if that's somehow a distraction from what was going on in Ferguson.
JUAN WILLIAMS, FOX NEWS POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, look, I think the shooting of the police officer is a horrific act, it's a tragedy, it should be prosecuted. I hope they find these guys as soon as possible and convict them and in Missouri they may get the death penalty.
But that's not ...
WALLACE: But that's more than just a distraction, which is how the president played it.
WILLIAMS: Let me just come -- let me speak to this. I think that there's a long history of racial resentment. I think that there's a long history of high levels of criminal behavior and I think that in urban America, you also have to deal with it.
WALLACE: You're talking about Ferguson?
WILLIAMS: I'm talking about urban America, especially poor, black people concentrated and dealing with the police and the police dealing with them and this is an ongoing issue that we as an American family need to deal with. And it's not to say that we should stop dealing with it because you had this horrific act, this shooting of the two officers. So, to describe it as something that is separate, picking up on Karl's use of that term, separate, is exactly right. You should separate this out and say, this is a terrible act, a criminal act. But that is not to say that in any way fostered the shooting by the president or the attorney general's language and certainly that it shouldn't stop us from dealing with the real issue on the table.
WALLACE: But Steve, I mean I think that this is where we get to the balance here. I mean, clearly if you believe the Justice Department report, there were some bad things going on --
STEVE HAYES, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: Very bad things.
WALLACE: In Ferguson.
WALLACE: If you're an African-American, you were more likely to get arrested. You were more likely to be the victim of excessive force. On the other hand, as the Milwaukee County sheriff said, you don't want to trash a profession, you don't want to trash policemen and you don't want to help incite, if not the shooting, the sense of aggrievement (ph).
HAYES: Well, look, I read the entire report on Ferguson from the Justice Department. And I was surprised, I found it deeply troubling. And I think everybody should be troubled, blacks, whites, Republicans, Democrats. What was in that report was sort of a picture of an aggressive police department that made decisions in many cases based on race, not just because of (INAUDIBLE) impact, but there is sort of context to back that up. Having said that, I think the comments from the president were reprehensible. This isn't a side issue. This is the issue. And if you look at the way that the White House and Eric Holder in particular treated the original shooting of Michael Brown, which was to hype it, to give it a ton of attention, when, in fact, the other Justice Department report completely exonerates Darren Wilson. And then there is sort of a shrug of the shoulders about the shooting of these two cops. I think it's disgusting.
KIRSTEN POWERS, USA TODAY COLUMNIST: I don't think -- they didn't -- first of all, they didn't hype anything. The reason that the president responded -- he was responding to the fact that you had demonstrations going on. It wasn't like the president came out and was -- informed us about this. This was something ...
WALLACE: But it turned out the demonstrations were wrong.
POWERS: No, the demonstrations weren't wrong. Because the demonstrators were there to protest exactly what Steve was talking about.
POWERS: No. Hey, hold on. You know, I listened to you guys talk this whole time. So, just let me say. They were there about police department that is completely out of control. And you're wrong, Karl, there are specific instances. There was a man who was wrongly arrested and beaten and then charged for the blood -- his own blood on the police officer's uniform. There has been a ton of abuse that has been chronicled not just by the hands of the justice report.
WALLACE: Hands up, don't shoot ...
POWERS: But that's not the only reason they were there. They were there about this police department that has been treating these black residents badly.
WALLACE: Last word, Karl. You have 15 seconds.
POWERS: Disproportionately targeting them.
ROVE: I never saw in those protests signs saying, we object to these other things. I read the report, too. And it is disgusting. But my point is if there are bad things, go after the bad actors. Don't use the kind of language that leaves a sense of this is all bad, but we're not going to do anything.
WALLACE: All right. Thank you, panel.
POWERS: That's not what he said.
WALLACE: See you next Sunday. To be continued.
Up next, our power player of the week. How the first lady of Afghanistan is working to improve the situation for women in her country.
WALLACE: He says she was tired of waiting for her husband to come back from his big job each night. And so quietly, carefully she carved out an important and sensitive role for herself. Here is our power player of the week.
RULA GHANI, FIRST LADY OF AFGHANISTAN: It's no longer a place you can say, oh, what a pity this girl was born in Afghanistan. Afghanistan is starting to be a good place for a woman to be.
WALLACE: If that's true, Rula Ghani is part of the reason. She's the wife of Afghan president, Ashraf Ghani.
RULA GHANI: There are a lot of very strong women.
WALLACE: And the country's first visibly public first lady in almost a century.
(on camera): How challenging a role is that?
RULA GHANI: Yes, it's true. It's uncharted waters. But because they are uncharted, I can try a lot of things.
WALLACE (voice over): We met Ghani last month when she visited the U.S. on her own. At one stop, she introduced Laura Bush, a champion of women's rights in Afghanistan. She could have been describing herself.
RULA GHANI: She's resourceful. She gets things done.
WALLACE: Ghani has her own office and the staff of six in the presidential palace. She meets delegations, mostly of women, and says she's a facilitator, working within what she calls existing structures to help women carve out better lives.
RULA GHANI: I dress properly. I talk properly. I don't make ...
WALLACE: Ghani met her husband in the early '70s at the American University in Beirut. They moved to New York, but between the Soviet invasion and then the Taliban, they couldn't return to Afghanistan for more than 20 years.
RULA GHANI: You take what's thrown at you and you make a life out of it.
WALLACE: During last year's bitter presidential campaign, she became an issue. Attacked for being a Lebanese Christian with U.S. citizenship.
(on camera): Is that painful for you when critics of your husband use you to try to hurt him?
RULA GHANI: It was sad that I didn't know the language. I spoke it in front of them for an hour. It was sad that I didn't know anything about Afghanistan. And I spoke about Afghan issues.
ASHRAF GHANI: [speaking in foreign language]
WALLACE (voice over): In his inaugural address, her husband made news singling out his partner for helping Afghan women.
RULA GHANI: It was very moving. He almost choked when he said this. And I felt like choking, too.
WALLACE: Life for women in Afghanistan is improving. They can travel without a man from their family. There are more opportunities for education and work. They make up 28 percent of the parliament.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: [speaking in foreign language]
WALLACE: But, there is a threat.
(on camera): What will happen to women in Afghanistan if the Taliban were to regain power?
RULA GHANI: I don't think it's in the cards. I don't think the Taliban are coming back.
WALLACE: And so, she will do what she can as first lady.
RULA GHANI: I don't think I have magical powers. I will be very happy if at the end of the five-year mandate women are better appreciated and more respected for what they are.
WALLACE: Ghani says when she first came to Afghanistan in the '70s, women there had a good deal of freedom and opportunity. She's just trying to help them get it back. And that's it for today. Have a great week and we'll see you next "Fox News Sunday."
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This week: We'll have an exclusive interview with Sen James Lankford (R-OK), member of the Appropriations, Homeland Security and Intelligence Committees.