OTR Interviews

Should Obama clean house of 'sycophants' over Paris rally snub? Or is the real problem with the president himself?

Or is the problem not with his advisers, but with the persident himself? Karl Rove sounds off. #ParisMarch #ParisSnub


This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," January 14, 2015. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Well, you have seen the outrage. President Obama, Vice President Biden, Attorney General Eric Holder, all no-shows at the Paris unity rally. That was a really bad decision. Even the White House now finally admitting it.


ED HENRY, FOX NEWS CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Is the president upset with his decision that involved all these other world leaders that it just never reached his desk?


COL. RALPH PETERS, FOX NEWS MILITARY ANALYST: What I find inexplicable are President Obama and his cabinet's refusal not to go to participate.

HENRY: Who made the decision that it should go to the president, that he should not go?

EARNEST: It was a decision that was made here at the White House.

JOHN BOLTON, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE U.N.: This is where the United States needs to exercise leadership, not just at the law enforcement level but at the broader strategic level.

PETERS: Obama's actions or inactions, I cannot even explain.


VAN SUSTEREN: Karl Rove joins us.

Nice to see you, Karl.

KARL ROVE, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Good to see you, Greta.

VAN SUSTEREN: Karl, if I were president of the United States, and that question never got to me, whether to go to Paris or not, I would clean house. I mean, because it seems like such a -- I mean, first of all, I would expect that my advisors say go. Secondly, you know, if they are going to say no, at least let me decide.

ROVE: Yeah, look, this is a failure of the decision-making apparatus inside the White House. We don't know whether it was the fault of Dennis McDonough, the chief of staff; Susan Rice, the national security advisor; the deputy national security advisor, Ben Rhodes, whose background is in P.R. and campaign press; or Valerie Jarrett, who apparently ranges widely through all of these things.

But, yes, the White House decision-making process failed at its most fundamental responsibility, and that is bringing big issues to the president to make a decision.

But, you know what? It's not just the fault of those four people. It's the fault of the president. The President of the United States has not created a White House that challenges him, that properly advises him, that provides the kind of support and direction and decision-making that the president of the United States has to have.

VAN SUSTEREN: Do we even know whether or not -- maybe, you know, it's -- I'm just guessing, I mean, I'm just throwing it out there, actually, that maybe the president did know about it. Maybe he was told and maybe they are covering for him because it's such profoundly stupid decision not to go. Maybe they are protecting him. And frankly, that would probably be a good idea. Because I would like it think that my president didn't know about it rather than that he made a decision that flies in the face of what most people think should have happened.

ROVE: Yeah, well, look, I agree. I would rather that he was kept out of the loop rather than he making a really bad decision. But, on the other hand, look, I don't think they are lying. I just -- you know, this -- you can't contain that entirely. And if somebody was aware that they did talk to the president, there will be a piece of paper, there will be some memoranda, there will be some notes some place that will eventually come out in the archives. No, I don't think they are lying to us. I think they are, for once, telling, straightforward, we didn't think this rose to the level of a presidential decision.

Now, again, my point is that this happens because the president of the United States has created an environment inside the White House in which people get away with that kind of stupid thinking. If he really was not told, and he really is upset about it, then at least one head out to roll. But, again, McDonough, Susan Rice, you know, Valerie Jarrett, Ben Rhodes, we have seen this cast of characters make all kinds of mistakes for a long period of time. And they are all ultimately responsibility of the president of the United States' for lack of vision, lack of understanding, wrong-headed philosophy and very bad decisions on the international scene.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, but, you know, I don't know if I -- you accuse the president of creating that environment. I mean, if a president hires some aides and says, you make decisions when the really important ones come along, you wring them to me. You can't sit and police them day in and day out. He makes the expectation that they will exercise good judgment. How you can say he created the environment?

ROVE: Go back and read the two books by secretary of defense, both Leon Panetta, before him, his predecessor appointed by President Bush. Both of them had -- were very emphatic, the White House staff is basically a bunch of sycophants, people who do not challenge the president, do not bring him bad news and the president is a bad decision-maker.

Look, Ben Rhodes -- I hate to pick on this guy. I have never met him. I don't have anything against him personally. But he came out of a campaign experience and he is the deputy national security advisor with no foreign policy background, and he was the guy who negotiated the deal with Cuba in which we basically gave Cuba a lifeline in return for virtually nothing. And this is how this president operates.

You know, it's his ideas. It's his vision. It's his lack of understanding. It's his philosophy that permeates all that he does. Ultimately, he is responsible, yes, for setting the tone and surrounding himself with these kinds of people. Why is Susan Rice there? Susan Rice is there because she was the loyal person who fell on her sword after Benghazi. She was the woman who went on television and said, you know, full transparency, you know, this was all because of video. They gave her a job so that it didn't require confirmation so she would never get pulled before Congress and asked the vital question of, who told you to go out and lie to the American people. Who on Saturday night said, Sunday morning, tell them something that we know is not true? And this permeates the entire apparatus inside the White House.

VAN SUSTEREN: Karl, thank you. Always nice to see you.

ROVE: Great to see you, Greta.