Newt Gingrich on uniting a divided Republican Party; Rep. Jim Jordan seeks big changes on Capitol Hill

Former speaker of the House on 'Fox News Sunday'


This is a rush transcript from "Fox News Sunday," October 11, 2015. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


The House in turmoil, as the GOP searches for a leader to unite a divided party.  


REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY, R-CALIF.:  Trying to work together.  I know a lot of speculation about who should run and others.

REP. JASON CHAFFETZ, R-UTAH:  We need to find somebody that our whole body can unite behind.  

WALLACE:  We'll speak with Congressman Jim Jordan, chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, that’s demanding big changes on the Capitol Hill.  And former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who says he’d consider returning to the post he left in 1999.  

Then, as Russia escalates its offensive in Syria, the U.S. ends its program to train the rebels.

We'll talk about Ambassador Dennis Ross, former Mideast negotiator under four presidents, and Bush national security adviser Stephen Hadley, about the superpower face-off in the world's most dangerous neighborhoods.  

Plus, ahead of the first Democratic debate, our Sunday panel weighs in on Hillary Clinton's flip on trade and her continuing e-mail woes.  

And, our power player of the week.  

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Ola, what’s your name?  

WALLACE:  My name is Chris.  What’s yours?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Hi, Chris.  My name is Noelle (ph).

WALLACE:  A portal to the other side of the world.

All, right now, on "Fox News Sunday."


WALLACE:  Hello again from Fox News in Washington.

It's been quite a week here on Capitol Hill, with front-runner Kevin McCarthy suddenly dropping out of the race for speaker.  And now, intense pressure on Congressman Paul Ryan to take a job he clearly doesn't want.  

Today, we'll discuss the divisions rocking House Republicans with former Speaker Newt Gingrich, but first, Congressman Jim Jordan, head of the House Freedom Caucus, a group of hardliners that helped push John Boehner out and kept McCarthy from running.  

Congressman, welcome back to "Fox News Sunday."

REP. JIM JORDAN, R-OHIO, FREEDOM CAUCUS CHAIRMAN:  Good to be with you, Chris.  

WALLACE:  So, let me start with big question.  Would you and would most of the members of the Freedom Caucus support Paul Ryan for speaker?  

JORDAN:  We’ve endorsed Daniel Webster, but Paul Ryan is a good man.  He’s a great communicator, the kind of messenger I think our party needs.  And certainly, if he gets in the race, I think our group would look favorably on him.  

But we're much more concerned about reforming the institution.  This is not just about who the next speaker is, it’s about what's going to change the business as usual attitude around there, changing that is foremost on our minds.  And that's what we're focused on.  

WALLACE:  So, and to just kind of simplify it, one of the things you're talking about is control over who gets on what committee, also control over what bills come to the floor, and what amendments come up, a lot of is decentralization of power.  

JORDAN:  Totally.  

WALLACE:  Are you saying that Paul Ryan would have to agree to that before you would support him?  

JORDAN:  I think the next speaker has to be committed to that.  I think Paul would be.  I know Daniel Webster is.

But here's a great example, the Steering Committee, a committee most of your viewers never heard of, they decide who is on what committees, who chairs the committees, they have all the power and also dish out the punishment.  

Great example is Tim Huelskamp, a congressman from Kansas, a place where they have a bit of agriculture, was kicked off the Agriculture Committee, because he wouldn't do what the top people in the house told him to do.  

And here’s the interesting thing -- kicked off the Agriculture Committee, and he’s got a PhD in agriculture policy.  That’s the kind of stuff that has to stop, because when you have that kind of environment, I would argue it's not conducive to producing the results that we told the voters we were going to go when they gave us a chance to serve them.  

WALLACE:  But if Paul Ryan won't agree, and we're going to talk to Newt Gingrich in a moment, that considerable decentralization of power in the House, will you and other members of the caucus support him?  

JORDAN:  I think he will agree to that.  I think the next speaker has to agree to that because this place has got to change.  The American people, 60 percent of our voters, Chris, think we have betrayed them -- not disappointed, not slightly off-track, we've betrayed them.  We need a shake-up now.  This is exactly what the people are demanding.

So, I think the next speaker will want to make those kind of changes.  Think about that Steering Committee again for a second.  On the Steering Committee, the speaker gets to vote five times.  So, if Chris Wallace is a member of Congress and he is on the Steering Committee, you would get one vote, but the speaker gets to vote five times.  

Now, where in the world does that kind of format work?  We never see that anywhere else.  So, that's the kind of stuff that has to change.  

WALLACE:  Congressman, let me ask you about the issue, because some members of your caucus are already raising questions about Ryan even before he decides to run.  They talk about the fact he was working at one point to try to create a compromise on comprehensive immigration reform.  They say he’s like Boehner, in that he also would oppose measures that would end of leading to a government shutdown or a default on our national debt.  

How big a problem are those positions that Ryan has taken?  

JORDAN:  Look, as I said before, Paul Ryan is a friend.  I meet with him every single week.  We talk about policy.  I think he’d be a great messenger.  If he’ll come in front of our group and talk to us, I think our group would be favorable towards him.

But we're not there yet.  And our position right now is we know Daniel Webster.  We know he’s done this in Florida, where he took a model that was so controlled, top-down, centralized kind of power model, he defused that kind of power and empowered the members.  So, I think that’s the model we want.  I think whoever the next speaker is, Paul Ryan or anyone else, has to go to that kind of model, because that's the environment that's going to be most conducive to producing the results we told the voters we’re going to do, to fighting for those Republican principles that we were elected to fight for.  

WALLACE:  Here's the problem, congressman.  Republican establishment types call your group the hell-no caucus, or the suicide caucus, and they say they're more interested in ideological warfare than you are in governing.  

JORDAN:  No --  

WALLACE:  Well, if I may -- let me just finish the question.  The fact is you keep talking about the obstacles or the tests you're going to put up.  You're just 40 members of a 247-member Republican caucus at some point, don't you and your members have to bow to the will of the majority of Republicans?  

JORDAN:  Of course, we're willing to compromise, but what we need in the House, what I think the American people are demanding, what our voters are demanding is let's not forfeit for the White House before the ref blows the whistle.  Let's not forfeit before the game start.  Let's establish our position, come together, compromise, figure out what we can agree on and let 'go stand for that position, let's articulate that, let’s have the debate in a compelling way and take the case to the White House, take the case to the United States Senate.  That's what our voters expect.

It seems all too often, though, we say the president is demanding this, we have to give in before the game even starts.  That's what the next speaker has to do.  That's what we want to see in our next speaker.  That’s what we’re pushing for.  

Of course we understand we have to compromise.  But when we compromise to come up with a position, let's go fight for it.  

WALLACE:  Finally, Congressman, you are a member of the House Benghazi Committee.  And, of course, Hillary Clinton is going to testify before that committee on October 22nd.  She's already attacking your committee, taking advantage of Kevin McCarthy's remarks to indicate this is all about politics and trying to take down her poll numbers.  Here she is.  


HILLARY CLINTON, D-PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  This was set up to be a political partisan attack on me.  It's really sad to me that, whether it's women's health, or in this case, the death of four Americans serving our country, that the Republicans in Congress try to partisanize and exploit these events.  


WALLACE:  Congressman, a couple of questions.  First of all, how do you respond to Clinton?  And how do you respond to in charges of a former staff member of your committee, an Army reserve major who says that he quit the committee, because it had turned into a partisan attack on Hillary Clinton?  

JORDAN:  This committee has always been about getting to the truth.  The American taxpayers, the American people deserve the truth, and the families of the four individuals who gave their life for the country that night, Ambassador Stevens, Sean Smith, Glen Doherty, Tyrone Woods.  Those families want to know the truth.  That's what we're focused on.  

And I would say this, since the whole e-mail story broke back in March, we have interviewed 33 witnesses, only one of those witnesses dealt specifically with the e-mail issue.  That was the shortest interview of all, because that witness took the Fifth, Bryan Pagliano.  

So, we have been focused on our mission the entire time, 50,000 new documents we have received that none of the other committees got who looked into this issue -- 41 eyewitnesses we have interviewed that none of the other committees interviewed.  It's always been about the truth.  Chairman Gowdy has always focused on that.  And that's what we're going to continue to do.  

WALLACE:  And in 30 seconds, Congressman, what about -- I said Army -- Air Force reserve major, who says he was fired from the committee because it had turned into -- and he objected to the fact it had turned into a partisan attack?  

JORDAN:  That's the point I’m making.  When you interview 33 people since the whole e-mail scandal broke about Secretary Clinton and 32 of those have been about Benghazi, the only one about the e-mail scandal was the guy who took the Fifth Amendment and wouldn’t answer any questions, I think that shows we were focused on what the committee’s assignment was, what the objective was, and that is to simply get to the truth.  

WALLACE:  Congressman Jordan, thank you.  Thanks for talking with us.  

JORDAN:  Thank you.  

WALLACE:  Now, let's turn to former Speaker Newt Gingrich, who was instrumental in 1994, in leading Republicans to their first House majority in 40 years.

Mr. Speaker, welcome back to "Fox News Sunday."


WALLACE:  You know, as you listen to that, and all of the kind of conditions that Jim Jordan is putting up in terms of decentralization, in terms of how one would argue the steps that any potential speaker would have to make, do you think he could bring the House Republicans together?  Do you think he could get to the 217 votes that you need to effectively run the House as speaker?  

GINGRICH: Well, I think Congressman Jordan just was very candid in outlining for Paul Ryan, who clearly would be the first choice of most House Republicans, that there's a path for Ryan to unify everybody.  And that path has to involve significant internal reforms which don't seem obvious to the average voter, but that are very central to whether or not individual members have the ability to get things done.  

And I think we have gone through a period of centralization, where more and more power was residing in fewer and fewer people, and they tried to then deal with people by punishment.  In a free society, you know, we aren’t Russia, we don’t have the KGB.  A free society is very tricky to try to govern by punishment.  

And what it leads to is it leads to things like the Freedom Caucus.  

WALLACE:  So, do you think that Ryan should take this job?  

GINGRICH:  I think Paul should be very cautious.  He's the most prestigious member of the House on the Republican side.  He has the best future, he's still very young.  It's easy to get 218 on the first vote, and then you get to keeping the government open to a continuing resolution, then you get to the debt ceiling.  

And if you're not careful, by Christmas, you resemble John Boehner, because these things are hard.  And I have suggested that they actually go slower and actually have some day-long conferences and listen to each other.  All 247 members won an election.  All of them deserve to be heard.  And your point is exactly right, when it's done, how do you form of continuing ability to get 218 votes in the House so that you can in fact pass legislation that has to be passed.  

WALLACE:  I want to talk to you about this decentralization of power, because at various points, you have called Jim Jordan's caucus, the "I’m purer than you" caucus.  You have talked about they’re creating total chaos.  And the fact is and I think you would agree, that when you became speaker, you very much centralized power in the speaker's office and in the leadership.

Can you run the House if you basically say, well, the members are going to decide who is on the committees, and the members can decide what legislation is brought up and the members decide?  I mean, it sounds good, but it's like -- I don't have to tell you, it's like herding cats.  You need some control.

GINGRICH:  Well, look, it’s really hard and John Boehner made it harder, because as an idealist, he eliminated earmarks.  And so, you can no longer say to a member, I'll give you three projects for your district.  

So, all the things that speakers like Tip O’Neill had used and I used candidly and Denny Hastert, a lot of those tools are gone.  

But you've also got to confront the example he use with Huelskamp.  Members have to have some sense if they win an election back home, they can bring the views of their voters and they have an honest opportunity to offer an amendment.  They may lose the amendment.  

And I’ll tell you, committee chairmen hate this idea, because committee chairmen like to bring bills to the floor that nobody gets to amend, and that maximizes the chairman’s power for what it does in the long run is it builds real resentment among the members who actually think they won an election, too.  

WALLACE:  You're one of big thinkers in the GOP.


WALLACE:  No, I think you are.  And I want to talk about this from maybe 30,000 feet instead of from ten.  We see this anti-establishment, grassroots frustration not only in this fight in Congress about who is going to control things or whether there should be as much control, but also we see it playing out in the presidential race, with the rise of Trump and Fiorina and Carson and the office holders, and their political experience almost being held as something against them.  What's going on with your party?  

GINGRICH:  I don't think it's my party.  I think it's the country.  Seventy-five percent of the Gallup poll recently, 75 percent of the American people said there is widespread corruption in the United States, in the government.  The school superintendent in Chicago, for example, is now under investigation for taking bribes.  

You have George Will, obviously a pretty solid guy, an establishment figure, saying we should impeach the Internal Revenue Service commissioner.  

I mean, there’s this general broad sense among three out of four Americans that the system is sick, yet 60 percent of the Republican voters say they dislike the leadership in Congress, 2 percent said they strong will you approve.  Two percent is a statistical error.  

I mean -- so you're living in a world where I would argue that the House actually -- the turmoil in the House is closer to where the country is and that's why you have -- if you take Trump, Carson, Fiorina and Cruz -- and Cruz is essentially an outsider -- those for are 60 percent of the current Republican primary vote.  

WALLACE:  But I think you would agree this is happening more, whether it's in the presidential race or in the Congress on the Republican side --  


WALLACE:  -- and the Democratic side --

GINGRICH:  The Democrats currently are winning.  The Democrats have courts that agree with them.  The Democrats have bureaucracy that agree with them.  The Democrats are in a position where they have a president who’s doing what they want.  It's natural for the Democrats to be relatively comfortable.  

If you are a Republican conservative, you wake up every morning furious at what you see happening and you want to know why your party is not doing a better job.  

WALLACE:  But could we end up -- and I’m not saying this is right or wrong -- could we end up with the kind of ideological and organizational bloodletting, for instance, the Democrats went through with George McGovern in 1972, where you have a split within the party that the flank wins, and you end up in this case with the Republicans losing 49 states?  

GINGRICH:  I doubt it, but you might.  I mean, the reason I doubt it is I think that, in fact -- first of all, I think Clinton is likely to be in enormous trouble and therefore you're not in a Lyndon Johnson environment, or even Nixon prior to Watergate.  But secondly, you know, it may be, and this seems to bother Washington a lot.  It may be that Trump and Carson in particular represent a phenomenon that none of us understand.  

You tell me -- I can explain Trump, because he's really noisy in an age where noise matters, but how then do you explain Carson?  And both of them are doing astonishingly well.  And what if the country just says, you know, if the entire establishment is against you, that actually means I like you more.  It should be a Reagan experience rather than a Goldwater experience.  

WALLACE:  All right.  Thirty seconds left, I have to ask you about comments you made this week in which you seemed to leave the door open that you would be willing to return as speaker of the House, and we have all learned this week you don't actually have to be a member of Congress to be speaker.  Are you serious?  

GINGRICH:  Our mutual friend Sean Hannity asked the question in a way that was impossible to say no.  If 218 members approached you and they said they were collectively were for you, are you going to say no?

Well, no citizen is going to say "I would turn that down".  But the odds against that happening are enormous. It’s totally implausible, and Callista and I are making no plans to return to Capitol Hill.  

WALLACE:  I was going to ask you.  How did Callista feel when you told --

GINGRICH:  She broke up laughing and said that Sean had mouse-trapped me.  


WALLACE:  Speaker Gingrich, thank you.

GINGRICH:  Thank you.  

WALLACE:  Thanks for coming in.  

GINGRICH:  Great to be here.

WALLACE:  Always good to talk with you.  Welcome back, and we’ll, obviously, stay on top of this story.  


WALLACE:  Up next, we'll bring in our Sunday group to discuss the split among Republicans both in Congress and the race for president.  

Plus, and what would you like to ask the panel about who should be the next speaker of the House?  Just go to Facebook or Twitter @FoxNewsSunday, and we may use your question on the air.  



DONALD TRUMP, R-PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  It's bedlam in Washington right now, bedlam.  It's a mess.  I’ve never seen anything like it.  

REP. NANCY PELOSI, D-CALIF., HOUSE MINORITY LEADER:  Republicans need to set aside their calendar of chaos, instead join us in a timetable for progress.  


WALLACE:  Donald Trump celebrating the turmoil in Washington and House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi trying to capitalize on it.  

And it's time now for our Sunday group: syndicated columnist George Will, Susan Page of "USA Today", GOP strategist Karl Rove, and Fox News political analyst, Juan Williams.

So, Karl, what’s going on with House Republicans?  Should Paul Ryan take the job as speaker?  Will he take the job of speaker?  


Well, in the immortal words of Marty Huggins from "The Campaign", it's a mess.  


ROVE:  Ad it is a mess.  

Now, there's an internecine fight, the Freedom Caucus, which you pointed out in your conversation with Jim Jordan, represents roughly 1 out of every 6 House Republicans, wants to run the House caucus.  And the only way they can have influence is in the election of the speaker, because a speaker requires 218 votes.  You elect the rest by a majority of the Republican caucus, but in order to get 218 votes, assuming Democrats vote against you, you can't afford to lose 40 Republicans.  

So, will Paul Ryan take it?  I don't know.  

I think there are three big considerations in his mind and the most important is the last one.  I think one consideration is, would he be more effective as a Ways and Means Committee chairman?  I don't think so.  I think you can do a lot more as speaker.  But he really likes and loves the job of Ways and Means.  

Could he function as speaker?  Is he House caucus so dysfunctional that you wouldn't wish this job on your worst enemy?  But the most important consideration I think is his family.  He’s lost his father in an early age, his family is very important to him, and being speaker particularly over the next year and a half is going to be a time -- he ain’t going to be back in Janesville, Wisconsin, on the weekends.  

But I think at the end of the day, there will be a lot of pressure for him to do so.  He is the indispensable man on my opinion.  He’s the one person who can unite the disparate wings and move the caucus forward with a conservative optimistic agenda.  He’s done so.  A lot of these people who are today critics of the leadership who are soiling themselves when this guy was saying let's do something about entitlements.  Let’s do something about the fiscal crisis, let’s do something about spending.  

WALLACE:  We asked you for questions for the panel, and we got this on Twitter from Female Barbarian.  That’s right, Female Barbarian.

She writes, "By the time Republicans are done with their circular firing squad, there would be no capable candidates."

Susan, how do you answer her?  

SUSAN PAGE, USA TODAY:  I think Paul Ryan, you called him the indispensable man.   I think he’s the one person in the world who could be the speaker of this particular group of House Republicans.  

You know, I just finished a book about Jack Kemp that was written by Morton Kondracke and Fred Barnes, friends of this show.  He was, of course, a mentor to Paul Ryan.  Paul Ryan worked for Jack Kemp.

What would Jack Kemp have said?  He would say, impossible job, count me in, send me in coach.

And so, I believe that at the end of the day, Paul Ryan is going to do this, but he's in a position of such strengths to negotiate some deals going in, that will make the job more doable than it is right now.  

WALLACE:  You know, that's the question, George.  Is he -- is he in a position of strength or not?  Because as you heard Jim Jordan say, the Freedom Caucus isn't just going to bow down and say, oh, Paul Ryan, come on in.  They're going to make demands about decentralization of power as speaker.

You know, and I think Karl put his finger on it, which is yes, you get 218 now, but when you get to the debt limit, or you get to the budget, or you get to another issue, are you going to have the votes to push your agenda?  

GEORGE WILL, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST:  A, I don't think so.  B, I don't think that's the most consideration.  

Rarely is this country so fortune to have exactly the right person in exactly the right place at exactly the right time.  This Paul Ryan chairmanship at Ways and Means.  The biggest problem confronting the company is economic stagnation, which is a product of unreformed entitlements and unreformed tax codes.  

The only person in the government who can take the lead on that in there, and Paul Ryan at Ways and Means.  Now, it's as though we have an orchestra, and I say we have this great lead violinist, let's make him conductor.  Babe Ruth is our best player, let's make him manager of the team.  

That's just the wrong skill set.  There are half a dozen good men and women on the House.  I’m not saying they're all fungible, but they could do the job of conducting the business of the House.  

Leaving aside -- and it's not our job to speak about his family -- he has three children.  They soon would be three teenagers.  John Boehner, I was told by a leading House Republican, was on the road 200 days a year raising money.  

ROVE:  Two hundred and twenty.  

WILL:  Two hundred and twenty.


WALLACE:  But, George, let me -- before I bring Juan in -- let me ask this question: yes, it's nice to be chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, but in Republicans lose their majority in 2017, he's the ranking Republican on that committee.  So, I mean, isn't it important to bring some water in so you can go the to the country and say somebody knows how to run -- to play this game, to use Casey Stengel's line.  

WILL:  The Democrats had the bad judgment to lose a wave election in 2010, a census year.  The way the districts are drawn, it's really hard for the Democrats to take control of the House in this decade.  So, he would be chairman for a while.  

WALLACE:  Juan, I mean, I just teed up for you.  What do you make of all of this?  

JUAN WILLIAMS, FOX NEWS POLITICAL ANALYST:  Well, I mean, just in response to what George said, next year is a tough year for Republicans in terms of Senate races.  And what you’ve got right now is even among -- let’s just be generous -- even among people who are the most loyal Republicans are real questions.  If this party can't govern itself, why should I trust them to govern the nation?  

I think right now you have this kind of, you know, mainstream Republicans who may say, you know what?  I’m sick of all of you guys.  I’m just going to stay home.  

That's a danger for the Republican Party.  That’s harming the Republican brand.  It harms them with independents who are now a larger share of the electoral and certain harms them with conservative Democrats, Reagan Democrats, who might say, you know what?  I can't just feel comfortable putting my faith in Republicans, even as disgusted as I may be with Democrats.

So, it raises questions, George, not just in terms of the House of Representatives, but the larger pictures, the Senate, the presidency, even potentially now, you have people saying, maybe this Freedom Caucus, and these renegades, should just break off and have their own party and let’s have the mainstream Republican Party back, because, you know, we believe we need another voice.  

WALLACE:  That's a formula for Democrats winning the majority, if you have a split party.  


WILL:  There are 69 more Republicans in the House today than there were when Barack Obama was inaugurated, and we're supposed to say it was the Republicans who were in crisis?  I don't think so.  

The House is supposed to be turbulent.  The Founding Fathers designed it that way.  It’s supposed to be most responsive to the gusts and eddies of public opinion.  This is what you’re looking at.

WILLIAMS:  Not dysfunction.

WALLACE:  Karl, I want to end on this exit question, which is that I’m told, that, you know, for all the talk of what the Freedom Caucus is demanding, Ryan knows numbers, and secondly, there's a lot of pressure being put on by the establishment and business groups, saying that some of those Freedom Caucus members, if you're not going to play ball and you’re not going to get involved, you're going to get a primary opponent.  

ROVE:  Well, first of all, let me gently agree and gently disagree with George.  I think George is absolutely right that Paul Ryan has the skill set necessarily to lead the fight on Ways and Means to reform the tax code and then reform entitlements.  And I also agree with you that there are four, five or six other members of the House Republican Caucus who could be speaker.

The question is, could they get elected speaker?  And Ryan has that unique ability to bridge -- he has respect of the caucus.  I’m not certain who else is there.  

Now, there is discussion about this.  Part of the discussion, we may end up with John Boehner, who is elected through January of 2017.  Michael McCaul is a name that's bubbled up here in the last 24 hours.  There are others.  

I do think it will take time to make that discussion, but ultimately, it’s going to have to be somebody who can walk in there and has the ability to draw respect from the all elements of the party in order to function as leader.

WALLACE:  And that they’re going to have to agree to the terms that Jim Jordan talk about?

ROVE:  Well, I think -- I think there's wisdom in what former Speaker Gingrich said.  They have to undo some of the things that he put in place as speaker, and give more power.

But let’s be careful about how far we go in this.  For example, some Freedom Caucus members say, we want the ability to have unlimited amendments brought forward on the floor of the House.  Well, that's like the Senate, and that also guarantees that you turn control over of the House to the Democrats.  

The rules are meant to keep the majority's strength together.  And one of the problems is we have some members, Huelskamp, for example, who Jim Jordan talked about, he said he was tossed off the Agriculture Committee.  Why?  Because he was on the Budget Committee.  No Democrat will ever vote for Republican budget resolution.  Huelskamp is on the Budget Committee, had input on the measure and voted against the Republican position on the floor of the House with Nancy Pelosi.  

So, the desire -- you know, you cannot have in that kind of a structure say, oh, yes, everybody can do everything they want to do, even it means most of the time, you're voting with Nancy Pelosi.  

WALLACE:  All right.  Well, I’m glad we’ve settled all of this.


WALLACE:  We have to take a break here.  We'll see you all a little later.  

Up next, the Obama administration gives up on its plan to train Syrian rebels while Russia continues to expand its military role there.

Plus, what do you think?  How should the U.S. respond to Russia's escalation?  Let me know on Facebook or Twitter @FoxNewsSunday and use #fns.


WALLACE:  Coming up, as Democrats take the stage this week for their first presidential debate, Hillary Clinton fences off more charges over her private e-mail, and she flips on a specific trade deal she pushed.  

Plus we'll discuss a new movie that says Dan Rather was a hero.  A panel talks (INAUDIBLE) of all that when "Fox News Sunday" continues.


WALLACE:  The situation in Syria went from bad to worse this week.  President Obama gave up on his program to train a new rebel army to take on the Assad regime.  Russia escalated its offensive against the Assad opposition, including launching cruise missiles from almost 1,000 miles away, and ISIS moved to fill the vacuum created by the Russian attack on the rival insurgents.

Joining us now to discuss the growing conflicts, Stephen Hadley, former national security adviser to President George W. Bush, and Ambassador Dennis Ross, who served as media's negotiator under four U.S. presidents.  He's out with a new book "Doomed to Succeed: the U.S.-Israel Relationship from Truman to Obama."  And gentlemen, welcome back to "Fox News Sunday."  

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Nice to be with you.  

WALLACE:  President Obama is on TV this week.  And he pushes back on the argument that Vladimir Putin is challenging his leadership with his new offensive in Russia, rather in Syria.  Here's a clip.  



STEVE CROFT:  He's challenging your leadership.  

PRES. BARACK OBAMA, D-UNITED STATES OF AMERICA:  Steve, I've got to tell you, if you think that running your economy into the ground and having to send troops in in order to prop up your only ally is leadership, then we've got a different definition of leadership.  


WALLACE:  Ambassador Ross, you wrote an article for "The Washington Post" this week, in which you say that Putin is filling a vacuum in Syria that we created.  When you hear President Obama, is he in denial?

AMBASSADOR DENNIS ROSS, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR:  Well, I don't think he is recognizing what's the effect of what Putin is doing in the Middle East.  And I also don't think he's fully appreciating that when we act as if every setback is actually not a setback, it sends a message to Putin.  In a lot of ways we've created an impression that we self-deterred.  And we don't provide lethal assistance in Ukraine and he sees that because we are afraid that he will escalate.  We are not prepared to do certain things in Syria in response to what he's doing.  Because we are not going to make it a proxy war.  Here again, it suggests that we're afraid of an escalation.  The more he sees that, the more he takes advantage of it.  And those in the region read it that way and have to make their own judgments.  Do they accommodate Putin? Do they have to go off and do - take actions of their own?  You look at the way the Saudis are operating within Yemen, some of that is driven by a sense they can count on us, and therefore they take their own path.

WALLACE:  Mr. Hadley, though, I go back to that "60 Minutes" clip where he says no, I don't think Putin is challenging my leadership.  

Your former colleague, Condi Rice, former secretary of state under George Bush and Bob Gates, who was the secretary of Defense under both Bush and Obama had a very tough piece in "The Washington Post" this week, where they say this - "Putin's move into Syria is old-fashioned great power politics.  Yes, people do that in the 21st century."  Is President Obama as out of touch with the reality of the current situation in Syria as Rice and Gates seem to suggest?

STEPHEN HADLEY, FMR. NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR:  I think Condi and Bob are absolutely right.  Putin has gone in to defend Assad and defend the Syrian regime.  He is dealing himself into whatever outcome that comes out of the Middle East, and he's pursuing the agenda he's had for some time, to return Russia to the kind of role in the world that the Soviet Union had during the Cold War period.  That's what he's about and that's what he's done in Ukraine and that is what he is doing in Syria.  

WALLACE:  And President Obama is what?

HADLEY:  You know, the United States has been AWOL.  It's interesting.  The Republicans and Democrats beginning in 2011, who all said if we don't attend to Syria, more people will die, it will be more sectarian, it will destabilize the neighborhood and it will open the door for al Qaeda.  And that's exactly what has happened.  So, the first step to remedying this situation is for the United States to get engaged in a humanitarian situation in the fight against ISIS and in the diplomacy in the region.  

WALLACE:  And we are going to get to the specifics in a moment.  I want to get first to the specifics, though, of what the Russians about Ambassador Ross.  You say that the Russians are creating facts on the ground with their intervention in Syria, their support of Assad at the expense of the anti-Assad rebels.  You say in effect that the anti-Assad rebels have discontinued, they are going to be routed, and then we then are going to be faced, the world then is going to be faced with a choice, Assad, as unpleasant and distasteful as he is, or ISIS.  Is that what's going on here?

ROSS:  Well, that's what Putin wants to create.  Actually, that's what Assad has wanted to create since 2011.  Assad is the one who basically declared war on his own people.  And he tried to turn it into it's me or the terrorists.  It wasn't credible, because in fact the majority of his people in fact were fighting him, because he imposed a war on them.  The more you turn it into it's either Assad or ISIS, the more it looks like he's the one who prevents -the Islamic State from taking over Syria.  Putin wants to create that reality.  And in fact, part of what Putin is doing right now is engaging in an effort to further de - in a sense, depopulate Syria.  What Putin is doing is going to make the refugee crisis dramatically worse, and the Europeans then will also be looking at how do we cope with this, a problem that Putin is creating.  

WALLACE:  But Mr. Hadley, the president and the White House keep saying that Putin is acting out of weakness that Russia is going to get involved in a quagmire in Syria like they did in Afghanistan.  Are you as confident as they are that this is a loser for Putin?

HADLEY:  Not at all.  Does it look weak to you, what Putin is doing in Syria? And look at the situation for those opposition forces that we have been supporting.  Putin says he's coming in to fight ISIS, in fact what he's doing is bombing those opposition members we have supported.  At the same time they are being attacked by ISIS.  So they're fighting a two-front war.  And what is our policy?  Our policy is to limit the amount of military assistance we provide to them and tell them they cannot attack Assad.  This is lunacy.  It makes no sense.  

WALLACE:  So now let's talk about - about solutions, because Ambassador Ross, in your article you say the answer is that we should get together with Turkey, with the Europeans, with the Arabs -- look at this map here -- and create a safe haven, basically in that shaded area up there along the Syrian-Turkish border for opposition forces and civilians, but that's almost precisely where Russia is striking.  If you create a safe haven there, aren't you getting into direct conflict with the Russians?

ROSS:  There's no pathway at this point that is risk-free.  And the reality is if we continue on the past we are on now, the situation will only become worse.  You will create the situation that Putin wants.  You will also make a situation worse from one other standpoint.  If we ratchet of what we are doing vis-à-vis the Islamic State while he's going after the non-Islamic state opposition, the reality is we will be in league with the Russians fighting, or be perceived as fighting the Sunnis.  If you want to defeat the Islamic State, you need the Sunnis to help discredit, Sunni tribes, Sunni states, discredit ISIS.  If we're in league with the Russians, we won't be able to do that?

WALLACE:  But are you prepared to say to Putin, if you were the president, would you be prepared to say to Putin, this is a no-fly zone, this is a safe haven, and we are going to enforce it?  Not only against Assad and his, the Syrian air force, but also against the Russians?

ROSS:  Yes, we cannot any longer be self-deterred.  The more we are self-deterred, we see the situation continue to get worse, and it presents us with the worst set of options.  The path we are seeing is one that will continue unless we begin to play by rules that Putin in fact understands.  

WALLACE:  Mr. Hadley, you keep talking about the U.S. must get engaged and must start leading.  Would you be willing to go as far as Dennis Ross and enforce a no-fly zone and say to Putin, stay out?  

HADLEY:  I would do that, but I would do two other things as well.  One, the United States has a real opportunity to lead the international community, try to provide humanitarian assistance to those countries that are sheltering Syrian refugees.  Jordan, Turkey, Lebanon.  We need to do that.  Secondly, on the other end, having gotten more engaged, I think we also need to try to build an international conference that will talk about the humanitarian process, deconflict the forces, and also try to begin a dialogue about how to get a settlement that will end the civil war in Syria.  So I would do all three of those things.

WALLACE:  Mr. Hadley, Ambassador Ross, thank you both.  Thanks for coming in today.  Obviously we'll keep covering this story.  

Next up, the Democrats are finally ready to hold their first debate.  Will the other candidates go after Hillary Clinton?  

And a new movie portrays Dan Rather as a hero for a report he did on President Bush, a report he later had to apologize for.  The panel turns into film critics, when we come right back.  



CLINTON:  The so-called TPP will lower barriers, raise standards, and drive long-term growth across the region.  

What I know about it, as of today, I am not in favor of what I have learned about it.  I don't believe it's going to meet the high bar I have set.  


WALLACE:  Hillary Clinton this week as a candidate saying she opposes President Obama's Pacific trade agreement, a deal she pushed when she was secretary of state.  That flip coming just before the first Democratic debate on Tuesday.  And we're back now with the panel.

George, Clinton goes into this debate, distancing herself from President Obama not only on trade, but also on immigration, also on Syria, also on a key part of Obamacare.  Is her apparent move to shore up her left flank against Bernie Sanders, before the debate, is that smart?  

WILL:  Probably, at this point, because the question is how much is this going to hurt her down the road.  Old political joke, a man takes a forthright position in front of a large crowd on all the burning issues of the day, and at the end of his speech, he said those are my positions, and if you don't like them, I'll change them.  That's what she's doing, essentially.  

But this -- we may be today a 48/48 nation, that both parties have 48 percent of the vote, and there is a very little change in the so-called swing vote, and therefore shoring up that 48 percent maybe what she does right now.  The problem is the Trump phenomenon, the Carson phenomenon, people are looking for what they consider authenticity, and she looks day by day more synthetic.  

WALLACE:  The Democratic Party has taken hits for scheduling so few debates.  The Republicans have already held two, the Democrats will now hold their first one, and the argument has been from some Democrats that the DNC is trying to protect Hillary Clinton.  Susan, what do you expect from this debate on Tuesday?  Will Clinton ignore the other candidates?  Will the other candidates go after her?

PAGE:  I think the other candidates will probably go after her, but I think her task has nothing to do with the other candidates on the stage.  Her debate is with herself.  You know, she's been -- her message has been drowned out by the controversies over emails and other things.  She's been on the defensive.  Can she articulate why I want to be president?  Here is what I would do for you?  I think that's really her task at the debate.  You know, I do not expect her to go after Bernie Sanders in particular, because at the end of the day she needs those Bernie Sanders supporters to be willing to support her.  I think we're going to hear Hillary Clinton talk about Hillary Clinton.  

WALLACE:  What does she do if Sanders or one of the others says, hey, look, I've been against this kind of trade deal for years, you've been against it for three days?  

PAGE:  She's going to say, you know, I listened to what you said, I listened to the arguments, you were very persuasive, thank you so much.



WALLACE:  I want to take a sharp turn here, because I want to talk about a new movie that is out next Friday.  It's called "Truth," and it's about a CBS news report in 2004, just before the presidential election in 2004, which claimed that President Push had gone AWOL from his Air National Guard unit.  CBS News report, Dan Rather.  Here is a clip from the movie.  


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Our story was about whether the president fulfilled his service.  Nobody wants to talk about that.  They want to talk about fonts and forgeries, and they hope to God the truth gets lost in the scrum.  


WALLACE:  Karl, the movie portrays Dan Rather and that woman who was his producer in this story, Mary Mapes, almost as if they were Woodward and Bernstein during Watergate.  

ROVE:  Look, this was an ugly episode in American journalism.  We had a producer who had an agenda.  

WALLACE:  Mary Mapes.  

KARL:  Mary Mapes.  And she worked with her principal, Dan Rather, to produce a smear on President Bush.  This movie's named "Truth."  It ought to be "The Anatomy of a Smear." Falsified documents from a source who changed his story, the documents that were not verified by CBS' own experts.  I mean, it is a devastating example of journalism run amok.  I would recommend before anybody go to see the movie, that they google CBS, this is on CBS' web site.  Their independent review panel on this incident, and read 30 pages, the 30-page summary of this report.  It is devastating about the lack of journalistic integrity by these two individuals.

WALLACE:  Briefly explain who the main source on the story was.  

KARL:  The main source is a left-wing former National Guard officer named Burkett, Bill Burkett, who gave Mary Mapes documents that he alleged came from somebody else.  They could not get a hold of that somebody else.  He later changed his story.

WALLACE:  What was the significance of the documents?  

ROVE:  The documents said that George W. Bush had gone AWOL, that he had refused to take a flying exam and he had not shown up for National Guard duty.  And it turned out that the documents were typed in a font that was not available on a typewriter in the 1960s when they were supposedly done, and were forgeries.  They had the wrong abbreviations, they were set up wrong, they had signatures in the wrong place, and the author, the supposed author of these, supposedly typed them himself when his widow said he never typed.  He didn't type.

WALLACE:  Didn't Burkett, I am trying to remember, but didn't Burkett have some kind of a grievance against President Bush?  

ROVE:  Oh, sure.  He was both -- he had both grievances about his treatment at the National Guard that occurred before Bush was president and before Bush was governor, and he was also a left winger who had a bias against Bush and was trying to ingratiate himself with the Kerry campaign.  It was a tissue of lies from start to finish.  The 30-page summary in a CBS report is devastating.  In fact, CBS, which ran this as part of "60 Minutes," issued a statement about the movie.  It's worth reading.  

WALLACE:  Wait, wait.  I'm going to read the statement, because one of the things you got to understand -- you may be wondering what this is all about, but this is going to be a big movie.  Robert Redford, Cate Blanchett, it comes out on Friday.  At the time, Dan Rather, who first apologized on the air, and later left CBS, then he sued CBS and said CBS' corporate interests had forced them to go against the movie and to go against him.  He sued, the case was thrown out summarily by a judge.  CBS now says this about its own report and its own reporters and the movie -- "the film tries to turn gross errors of journalism and judgment into acts of heroism and martyrdom."  

I guess I have to ask you, Juan, how could Robert Redford and Cate Blanchett and the movie makers here think they're going to get away with this?  

WILLIAMS:  I don't know that they think they are going to get away with it, Chris.  I think they're glorifying, they are creating heroes, and they're doing it at a time when American trust in journalism is abysmally low.  People just don't trust journalism right now.  And part of it is I think this sense is that journalism is done for corporate reasons, for ratings, or to appeal to one bias or one slant or another, and they just don't trust journalists in the way we used to, the way people once trusted your dad.  So what you get is, though, a situation where Karl and I don't agree on much, but let's go to the facts, and the facts are that the documents proved to be fraudulent.  The fact is that Dan Rather had to apologize --

ROVE:  And his career was ended.  

WILLIAMS:  But people would argue, Karl, that is the corporation protecting its corporate interests in Washington.  They were fearful that Viacom had interests on the table, and that George Bush and the Republicans would punish them.  That's where I think it gets crazy.  

ROVE:  Baloney.  Baloney.  


WALLACE:  You brought up my dad.  I will tell you that my father ended up confronting Dan Rather at one point about this, because the executive producer of CBS too had been fired, so had Mary Mapes, and my father said to Rather, you know what, if your team gets fired, you should quit, too.  

WILLIAMS:  Well, that is the judgment.  

ROVE:  You left out the best quote from CBS.  

WALLACE:  Real quick.

ROVE:  "It's astounding how little truth there is in 'Truth,' says CBS.  There are in fact too many distortions and baseless conspiracy theories to enumerate them all."  

WALLACE:  Should be renamed 'Revisionism.'  

Thank you, panel.  See you next Sunday.  Strong note to follow.  

Up next our power player of the week, creating a global community center one conversation at a time.


WALLACE:  We live in an interconnected world, where social media allow us to share our views with strangers in real time, but what about having an actual face-to-face conversation with someone you've never met who is thousands of miles away?  Here is our power player of the week.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Just today (inaudible) was born.  

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Oh, congratulations.

WALLACE:  Two young men sharing the most basic of human exchanges, except Marat (ph) was just outside Washington, while Amir was in Tehran.  And they were talking from two shipping containers, connected by cameras and computers.  This is the portals project, the brainchild of artist/journalist Amar Bakshi.  

AMAR BAKSHI, FOUNDER, SHARED STUDIOS:  Conversations with strangers can be liberating and more moving than conversations with people you know, because they're not performing, they are not going to tell your mom what you say, and so you're able to say things you couldn't anywhere else.  

WALLACE:  Bakshi launched the idea in December of 2014, with one gold-painted container in New York City and one in Iran.  In a world of social media, he wanted to create a global community center.  

BAKSHI:  By having so many vehicles to connect, we actually lose the desire to connect.  This tries to make a moment.  That is the aesthetic piece.  

WALLACE:  Do you think this would lead to world peace or it's just an entertaining 20 minutes between two individuals?  

BAKSHI:  Neither.  I hope that it's a unique moment in the lives of participants, something they feel I wish I had more of this.  

WALLACE:  They now have 11 portals, from San Francisco to Cuba to Afghanistan.  People sign up to spend 20 minutes with a stranger on the other side of the world, and so far 3,500 people have connected.  

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  What kind of music are you into?  

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I like -- my favorites are pop --

WALLACE:  By now I was eager to enter the portal.  All I knew is I would be speaking to someone in Mexico City.  

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Hola, what's your name?  

WALLACE:  My name is Chris.  What is yours?  

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Hi, Chris.  My name is Noelle.  

WALLACE:  We used one of their conversation starters.  

What makes a good day for you?  

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  It's been raining a lot lately, so maybe just have a little sun today, with no water.  

WALLACE:  I'm married, I have got kids and grandkids.  So if everybody in the family is happy, I'm happy.  

Bakshi says two artists are collaborating on music.  Two tech entrepreneurs are working on mobile apps.  

Has there been a portal romance yet?  

BAKSHI:  No, but when there is, we're going to make sure it's officiated through a portal.

WALLACE:  In the meantime, he's setting up a portal at the United Nations and another at a Syrian refugee camp in Jordan.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  We just came back from having our 14th anniversary dinner.  

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Happy anniversary.  

BAKSHI:  The idea resonates so broadly, that in Afghanistan or in Mexico, people basically get what we're trying to do and want to get behind it.  What is satisfying to me is seeing that community grow and seeing it take on a life of its own.  The goal is that we shouldn't be able to stop this if we tried.  


WALLACE:  Bakshi says his goal is to have portals around the world, with one for every one million people on earth.  

And that's it for today, have a great week, and we'll see you next "Fox News Sunday."

Content and Programming Copyright 2015 Fox News Network, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Copyright 2015 CQ-Roll Call, Inc. All materials herein are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of CQ-Roll Call. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content.