Rep. Mike McCaul rips Iran prisoner swap as 'bad deal'

On 'Hannity,' congressman lays out his concerns about the agreement


This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," January 18, 2016. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


SEAN HANNITY, HOST (voice-over): Tonight...

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: This is a good day.

HANNITY: Republicans slam President Obama's prisoner swap with Iran.

SEN. TED CRUZ, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This deal is a really problematic deal.

SEN. MARCO RUBIO, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's put a price on the head of every American abroad.


HANNITY: House Homeland Security chairman Mike McCaul and former defense secretary Robert Gates are here tonight with reaction.

Then, with two weeks to go until Iowa, Donald Trump and Senator Ted Cruz unleash attacks on each other.

DONALD TRUMP, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He's a nasty guy. Nobody likes him. Nobody in Congress likes him.

SEN. TED CRUZ, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: For whatever reason, Donald doesn't react when he's going down in the polls.

HANNITY: Our political panel weighs in.

And Hillary Clinton relentlessly defends President Obama's policies at last night's Democratic debate.

HILLARY CLINTON, DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We have the Affordable Care Act. That is one of the greatest accomplishments of President Obama.

HANNITY: "Hannity" starts right here, right now.


HANNITY: Welcome to "Hannity." And tonight, Iran continues to take advantage of President Obama at the negotiating table. Over the weekend, the White House announced the release of five Americans being held in Iran. Now, that included Pastor Saeed Abedini, former U.S. Marine Amir Hekmati and Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian. But in exchange, the administration agreed to release seven Iranians in U.S. custody and remove 14 others from an Interpol wanted list.

Now, while we're obviously happy to get our Americans back, Iran got the better end of the deal, and President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry -- well, they're giving themselves a big pat on the back. Watch this.


OBAMA: This is a good day because once again, we're seeing what's possible with strong American diplomacy.

I gave these families my word, I made a vow, that we would do everything in our power to win the release of their loved ones. And we have been tireless. On the sidelines of the nuclear negotiations, our diplomats at the highest level, including Secretary Kerry, used every meeting to push Iran to release our Americans. I did so myself in my conversation with President Rouhani.

SECRETARY OF STATE JOHN KERRY: We feel very comfortable that the United States of America held onto its principles, got its people home, kept faith with them. And so the question is, if you're going to get them out, there had to be some component of exchange. And what we gave up, we believe, were people who were about to get out anyway and people that we couldn't get our hands on. So I just don't agree. I think there is a rectitude in what we achieved.


HANNITY: Now, on top of all of that, as part of the Iran nuclear deal, the rogue regime in Tehran will be getting access of up to $150 billion in frozen assets. My next guest says this will just help Iran bankroll terrorism. Joining us now, the author of "Failures of Imagination," the House Homeland Security chairman, Congressman Mike McCaul.

Congressman, you said this will bankroll terrorism. I agree with you because during negotiations, the Iranians were burning our flag, burning the Israeli flag. They said the destruction of Israel is nonnegotiable, and their leaders were chanting "Death to America."

Why did the president make this deal? And what did we get out of it, if anything?

REP. MIKE MCCAUL, R-TEXAS: Well, the ayatollah said this will not change his policy towards the arrogant United States of America. I don't think we got a lot out of this deal. I'm glad the hostages came home, but the fact is, we released seven criminals in exchange for American hostages, and 14 at large, two of whom may have been responsible for the Jewish bombing down in Argentina many years ago. And as you mention $150 billion of frozen assets now freed up to go to the largest state sponsor of terror.

Sean, what I -- what worries me the most, $150 billion going into that country when we know they have active operations not only throughout the Middle East, where they've killed hundreds of American soldiers, but also in the Western hemisphere, which is one of the chapters of my book.

HANNITY: Yes. You know, they not only get the $150 billion, they still continue to spin their centrifuges. They've been able to partner now with Vladimir Putin for missile defense, if the Israelis or the Americans need to take out -- if we need to take out their nuclear sites, 24-days notice for inspections. They're not even American inspectors. And in some cases, I understand they get to pick some of the inspectors.

Do you think that one day, this has the potential, radical Islamic mullahs of Iran coupled with nuclear weapons -- am I wrong in saying one and one is two, that that could be a modern-day Holocaust?

MCCAUL: I think it's a real threat to the security of the United States of America. One of the chapters outlined in my book talks about the Iranian influence with Venezuela, these aero (ph) terror flights that go back and forth that we don't manifests on, and then nuclear material smuggled across our unsecure southwest border from Mexico into the United States.

So that very much concerns me. Also, as you mention, the ability to verify or inspect these facilities in Iran is very much up in the air.

Look, this is a bad deal. And they're already firing missiles in defiance of the international law.

HANNITY: And of course, they took Americans prisoner for...


HANNITY: ... 24 hours., American sailors, and had their hands behind their back. Congressman, keep up the good work. Thank you.

Now, 2016 Republican presidential candidates were very quick to point out that this so-called prisoner swap with Iran was not a good deal, and of course, could have very dangerous consequences. Take a look.


TRUMP: They should have come back as part of the deal three years ago, when they started talking about the deal, not now. Not now.


CRUZ: It reflects a pattern we've seen in the Obama administration over and over again of negotiating with terrorists and making deals and trades that endanger U.S. safety and security.

CHRISTIE: I don't know how many more times these folks had to kick him before he realizes he's being kicked. The Iranians have treated him with such enormous disrespect.

SEN. MARCO RUBIO, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He's put a price on the head of every American abroad. Our enemies now know that if you can capture an American, you can get something meaningful in exchange for it!


HANNITY: Here with reaction is the distinguished chair of military theory at Marine Corps University. Dr. Sebastian Gorka is with us. Doctor, good to see you. Let's go to Marco Rubio's comment. Did we now send a message to the world, take an Americans hostage and you're going to get what you want?

SEBASTIAN GORKA, MARINE CORPS UNIVERSITY: Absolutely, Sean. We gave away the farm for a Starbucks gift card. We sent a very clear message that this nation, which is the greatest state sponsor of terrorism for the last 30 years, has carte blanche. We've removed the red warning, the Interpol red warning, on 14 people who are probably guilty of one of the biggest terror attacks in recent years.

Think about the fact that we had hundreds of Marines that were killed in Beirut by an organization trained by the IRGC. In Iraq, our servicemen were maimed, were killed by IEDs that were empowered by Quds Force, Republican Guard assistance to the local militias. We've sent a message -- Iran, you can get away with murder, literally, Sean.

HANNITY: You know, it's really frightening. Now, I'm happy that Pastor Abedini -- I know that Jay Sekulow with the American Center for Law and Justice for many years has worked for the release of this pastor. I've interviewed the pastor's wife and family. So I'm happy about that. But as a result, are we going to have more hostages taken?

GORKA: Look, this -- this -- the math of this is not just what this is all about. So we're doing the figures, four for seven, seven for 21. All this math is beside the point. This isn't like a spy swap on a bridge somewhere in East Berlin during the cold war. We're exchanging people who were arrested and put in prison for their beliefs, like the pastor, for individuals who are terrorists or spies.

That's not a straight deal. That is empowering the message of the theocratic regime of the mullahs, and they will draw the right conclusions that we are no longer a leader and we're giving into their message of terror.

HANNITY: Dr. Gorka, I agree with you, sadly. Thank you for being with us.

Also here with reaction, author of the brand-new book "A Passion for Leadership: Lessons on Change and Reform From 50 Years of Public Service," former secretary of defense Robert Gates is with us.

Mr. Secretary, it's an honor to have you. How are you? Good to see you again.


HANNITY: You said the U.S. got out-negotiated on the Iran deal originally. You seemed to back off it, though, in a recent interview.

GATES: Well, I think that -- I think they did get out-negotiated. For example, we -- the administration said as late as April, last April, that they had to have anywhere, anytime inspections, and yet that was given up. We insisted for a long time on getting the history of the Iranian nuclear weaponization research program, and we didn't get that. So I think that there were some -- I think it's clear that we wanted the agreement more than the Iranians.

HANNITY: That's never a good position to negotiate.

GATES: And that's never a good position to negotiate in.

But I think, as you think about the conversations you've been having, the real issue, it seems to me, as the Iranians get $150 billion, is the absence of a strategy of pushback from the administration to parallel this nuclear deal. Where is the strategy on how we're going to invest money, how the weapons we are prepared to provide to our allies and friends in the region, what are we prepared to do in terms of military presence, covert action, diplomacy and so on, to push back consistently against the Iranians' use of this money to interfere elsewhere in the region?

HANNITY: You know -- yes, you know, the first chapter in your book is "Why bureaucrats so often fail us."


HANNITY: And to me, it ought to be a prerequisite that if you're negotiating with a country and they're simultaneously during negotiations burning your flag, burning your closest ally's flag, chanting death to your country and threatening to wipe your ally's country off the face of the earth that maybe that's not -- maybe that ought to be a prerequisite to negotiations. But it wasn't. Why?

GATES: What we have to do is to be able to walk and chew gum at the same time. We negotiated with the Soviet Union under President Reagan, but at the same time, we were undergoing a major military buildup. And we were resisting them around the world in a variety of places, all of the meddling and interference they were trying to do.

So you have to signal -- if you want to limit nuclear weapons, that's one thing. But you also have to show that you're prepared to deal with their actions outside of the nuclear arena wherever they occur.

HANNITY: And this president did not do that. You know, you have a very unique perspective because you served under George W. Bush and Barack Obama. Tell me the difference. I'm obviously a very strong critic of this president. I think he projects weakness. I think that without America's leadership on the world stage, I think you see the world in more chaos and decline. I think the world needs America's strength.

He seems to look at American strength as somewhat of a negative. Tell me the difference between the two. Bring me into the mind of the Barack Obama you knew.

GATES: Well, I think that, first of all, my -- I have two concerns, have two concerns that I've written about. One is that he seems to be unwilling to trust subordinates to execute his policies, and so he's centralized operational activities in the White House.

So under previous administrations that I worked for, there might be 40 or 50 professionals on the National Security Counsel staff, there are now hundreds. And I once asked the national security adviser, How many people do you have working on Iraq and Afghanistan? He said 25. That was half the size of the Scowcroft NSC, half the size of George W. Bush's, or about less than -- a fraction of -- I mean, it's many times the size of the NSC under George W. Bush. So this micromanagement out of the White House was one concern.

The other concern is execution, of being able to make a decision and/or articulate a vision and then execute it in policy. And a perfect example is the Cairo speech that he gave early in the administration, about, Here's what we're going to do in the Middle East, and so on, led to a lot of euphoria, and then nothing. There was no strategy. There was no implementation. The result was bitterness in the Middle East because it was just seen as hollow rhetoric.

HANNITY: Well, and later, he was also supporting Mohamed Morsi, the head of the Muslim Brotherhood, a guy that once referred to the Israelis as the descendants of apes and pigs.

Let me -- let me ask you this question. I am livid that after Vietnam, we pull out. 58,000 Americans died there. We've lost nearly 5,000 lives in Iraq and Afghanistan. And then this president pulls out early, and Mosul and Tikrit and Fallujah and Ramadi end up in the hands of ISIS.

It seems to me if we are going to ask American men and women to risk their lives and shed their blood and lose their limbs, that we ought to define victory. We keep allowing politics to be seen through the -- we keep allowing war to be seen through the prism of politics. And if I'm the mother or father of a kid that lost their lives in one of those cities, I'm saying, Why?

Do we need to change how we approach war in this country?

GATES: I think we do. I think we need to, first of all, be -- be much more careful about when we use military force and then use it overwhelmingly. We've really only won one war since World War II, and that was the first Gulf war.


GATES: And that was because President Bush...

HANNITY: Overwhelming force.

GATES: President Bush, Sr., articulated specific objectives, accomplished those objectives and quit.

HANNITY: Can we -- do we -- are we close to the time where technology -- where we're not going to have to send young men door to door, like we did in Iraq, that we can fight and win wars with technology and not send these guys on the ground, like we had to in Iraq?

GATES: No, I don't think we are.

HANNITY: Don't think we're going to get there.

GATES: No. We will have tools that they can use, but this is why presidents have to be so careful about going to war because it always, at the end of the day -- General Stillwell in World War II once said that no matter how a war starts, it always ends up in mud.

HANNITY: Will we see more...

GATES: And that means foot soldiers.

HANNITY: Will we see more hostages as a result of this deal?

GATES: Well, I don't know. It's certainly a risk.

HANNITY: All right. Mr. Secretary, good to see you. Thank you for your service for all these years.

GATES: Thank you.

HANNITY: Appreciate it.

GATES: Thank you.

HANNITY: And coming up next tonight right here on "Hannity"...


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If you look what's going on throughout the world, you look at Syria, where there -- if you're Christian, they're chopping off heads. You look at the different places, and Christianity -- it's under siege!


HANNITY: Donald Trump speaking at Liberty University earlier today. Well, Jerry Falwell, Jr., will join us.

And then later tonight...


TRUMP: He's a nasty guy. Nobody likes him. Nobody in Congress likes him. Nobody likes him anywhere once they get to know him.

CRUZ: We need a leader who is prepared to do what is ever needed to keep this country safe, and that typically doesn't include spending your time on Twitter.


HANNITY: All right, the gloves are off. Donald Trump, Ted Cruz are in an all-out war of words as they now battle for the top spot in Iowa. We'll discuss the growing feud, the latest poll numbers and much more tonight on this busy news night on "Hannity."




DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We're going to protect Christianity. And I can say that. I don't have to be politically correct or -- we're going to protect it.


TRUMP: If you look what's going on throughout the world, you look at Syria, where there -- if you're Christian, they're chopping off heads. You look at the different places, and Christianity -- it's under siege.


HANNITY: All right, that was Donald Trump speaking to students at Liberty University in Lynchberg earlier today. Now, Trump vowed to set aside political correctness and protect Christianity around the globe.

Here with reaction, the president of Liberty University, Jerry Falwell, Jr. It wasn't quite an endorsement, but many people took it as almost one when you said -- you know, you introduced him as one of the greatest visionaries of our time and you've remained in close contact with him.

Does your position prevent you from endorsing? That kind of sounded like an endorsement.

JERRY FALWELL, JR., LIBERTY UNIVERSITY PRESIDENT: Well, Liberty University is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) university. So of course, Liberty cannot endorse candidates, and we invite all the candidates to come speak.

But I got to know Donald Trump after he spoke here in 2012. And I learned so much about him that the public never hears, and I wanted to share that with our audience. Right after he visited here last time, he -- I called him about a large Christian ministry in another state that needed some help. I learned within a day or two he had donated $100,000 of his own money. He learned about Clyde Frasier (ph), Jr., who ran the Harlem Hoops tournament in the inner city and was killed in the 9/11 attacks, and he searched down the family and he donated the money to keep that tournament going.

Example after example like that of just generosity that never made it into the public's eye. He got -- his limousine broke down one time, a couple stopped and helped him. He paid off their mortgage a few days later. These are all things that you never hear about Donald Trump because he comes across as sort of a tough businessman.

And it just reminded me so much of my father because my father would say -- make politically incorrect statements all those years, and in real life and his personal relationships with people he gave away so many scholarships to students at Liberty, he almost bankrupted the school here. He -- he was always...


FALWELL: He was always...

HANNITY: Yes, scholarships, scholarships, scholarships. And I know that's true. Here's one thing people didn't know about your dad -- the limousine story is interesting. So a couple stopped to help him, and he paid off their mortgage. That's pretty impressive. And people would say, OK, well, he has the money to do it, but there are a lot of wealthy people that don't do things like that. But I knew something about your dad...

FALWELL: And he -- no, I was going to say, on "60 Minutes," Trump was watching a report about a Maytag plant that moved out of Iowa into Mexico, and the three companies in that report, he actually searched them out. They were about to go out of business because Maytag had left, and he found ways to buy products from those companies through his hotels to keep them in business.

He gave the money to the local Domino's pizza restaurants so they could buy cheese and bread and keep their business in business. And those are just things I thought the world needed to know about Donald Trump because the Bible says, By their fruits you shall know them.

And he may not be a theological expert and he might say "2 Corinthians instead of "second Corinthians," but when you look at the fruits of his life and all the people he's provided jobs, I think that's the true test of a somebody's Christianity, not whether or not they use the right theological terms.

HANNITY: You know...

FALWELL: But I'm sorry. Go ahead, Sean.

HANNITY: You told me on my radio show a while back, and you mentioned this today -- and by the way, those pictures of convocation. I've had the honor to speak there. And that is an experience like no other. It's amazing.

But you see a lot of your dad in Donald Trump. That, I think, surprised a lot of people. Explain.

FALWELL: Well, my father was criticized for supporting Ronald Reagan over Jimmy Carter because Ronald Reagan was a Hollywood actor who had been divorced and remarried. Jimmy Carter was a Sunday school teacher.

And my father said -- he said proudly that Jesus said, Render unto Caesar, and that means be good citizens, be voting citizens. And he said, When I go in the voting booth, I'm not electing a Sunday school teacher or a theologian or somebody who agrees with my theological views, I'm voting for the person who is most qualified to be the president of the United States. And the qualities that are required to be the president are not always the same ones that make a good Sunday school teacher.

Prime example of that is Jimmy Carter. He was a great Sunday school teacher, but look what he did to our country as president.

HANNITY: All right...

FALWELL: And so those are the kind of things that remind me of my father and Trump. And I think -- I think just the personal generosity -- I noticed at the debate in Charleston the other night, he was the only candidate who came down off the stage and greeted the crowd personally, posed for pictures. Everybody else was too important, too busy, too tired.

And that's the kind of thing that -- you know, we've been promised as evangelicals and conservatives -- so many promises have been made to us by career politicians over the last few decades. You know, I told the crowd this morning the polls seem to indicate -- the founding fathers believed that this country should be governed by citizen legislators, and I think the polls are starting to indicate that the American public want to see somebody who has succeeded in real life...


FALWELL: ... not career politicians. And I think that's why he's surging.

HANNITY: Does that mean he got a bigger crowd than I did at convocation? Is that what you're telling me, an overflow crowd?

FALWELL: Well, he -- well, not too much bigger, but yes, bigger. It was a little bigger, and we had...


FALWELL: ... walking around campus...

HANNITY: It was full. There wasn't an empty seat over there.

FALWELL: But they all loved -- but they loved -- they loved you, too, Sean. Place was full both times.

HANNITY: All right, Jerry Falwell, Jr., thank you for being with us. Appreciate it.

And coming up next tonight right here on this busy "Hannity"...


TRUMP: He's a nasty guy. Nobody likes him. Nobody in Congress likes him. Nobody likes him anywhere once they get to know him.

CRUZ: We need a leader who is prepared to do what is ever needed to keep this country safe. And that typically doesn't include spending your time on Twitter.


HANNITY: All right, the Iowa caucus is only two weeks away. The rhetoric is now heating up between Donald Trump and Ted Cruz. Our panel will weigh in next.

And later tonight...


HILLARY CLINTON (D-NY), FMR. SEC. OF STATE, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The fact is we have the Affordable Care Act. That is one of the greatest accomplishments of President Obama, of the Democratic Party and of our country!



HANNITY: All right, the fourth boring Democratic debate is now in the books, and Hillary Clinton spent most of the night defending the president and his terrible policies. This will be what, another third Obama term? We'll play that next straight ahead.


HANNITY: And welcome back to "Hannity." Now, with the Iowa caucuses just two weeks away, the candidates -- well, they're starting to feel the pressure and a feud now is brewing between the top two Republican candidates, Donald Trump and Senator Ted Cruz.

Over the weekend, Trump said this about his GOP rival.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Look, the truth is he's a nasty guy. He was so nice to me -- I mean, I knew it. I was watching. I kept saying, Come on, Ted. Let's go, Ted.

But he's a nasty guy. Nobody likes him. Nobody in Congress likes him. Nobody likes him anywhere once they get to know him. He's a very -- he's got an edge that's not good. You can't make deals with people like that. And it's not a good thing. It's not a good thing for the country. Very nasty guy. Then he got caught the other day in a tape when he was raising funds at a law office, talking about things that are priorities and not priorities (INAUDIBLE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you think he's a hypocrite?

TRUMP: Oh, he's a total hypocrite.

HANNITY: And Senator Cruz -- he's not letting Trump's attacks slide. He fired back with this earlier today.


SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Donald did an interview where he described that he thinks he's bigger than Ronald Reagan. You know, I think the American people will make that determination.

You know, I would note that Ronald Reagan spent decades as a principled conservative, spent decades traveling the country sharing his conservative free market views, defending the Constitution. Ronald Reagan did not spend the first 60 years of his life supporting Democratic politicians, advocating for big government politics.

We need a leader who is prepared to do what is ever needed to keep this country safe, and that typically doesn't include spending your time on Twitter.


HANNITY: All right, here now with reaction, from The National Review, Jonah Goldberg, and FOX News senior correspondent Geraldo Rivera, and from The Washington Times, FOX news contributor Monica Crowley.

You know, I wish this didn't happen every election, but if we're going to be real, go back to 2000 and George Bush and John McCain in South Carolina. It was brutal.

I don't like it. Conservatives are getting angry at Trump because they like Ted Cruz. It's different than, quote, "an establishment candidate." How -- what do you think of this back-and-forth?

MONICA CROWLEY, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Well, you've got two alpha males who are going at it like two scorpions in a bottle. I always thought that it would behoove both of them to keep their bit of an alliance going for as long as possible because they could have helped each other.

HANNITY: It's 14 days, 14 days, Monica, and it's over.

CROWLEY: Ted Cruz could have helped deliver evangelicals to Trump, Trump could have gotten more conservative, traditional conservatives from Cruz. But they are in a competition and only one can win. And whereas Ted Cruz needs to win Iowa, Donald Trump wants to win Iowa. And so I expect that from here on out it's only going to get more intense.

GERALDO RIVERA, FOX NEWS SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: It seems to me that they're trying to label the other guy the hypocrite. He's saying, you know, look at Ted Cruz, he's not even an American. He's born in Canada. Not only that, he says he's going to regulate banks or take on banks and he takes money from Goldman Sachs.

HANNITY: He didn't take money. He borrowed money.

RIVERA: Borrowed money. But I really think Ted Cruz does have a nasty streak. Maybe because I'm inherently sympathetic to Donald Trump. But Ted Cruz, why is it that nobody likes him in the United States Senate?

HANNITY: I'll tell you why. I'll give you the answer, because he's the one guy who stood up and took on his own party.

RIVERA: Closing down the government?

CROWLEY: He didn't close down the government.

HANNITY: No, he was going to fulfill a campaign promise, Geraldo.

Let me go to Jonah. I actually tweeted out earlier, Jonah. I don't apologize for supporting insurgent candidates. And the truth that's not talked about is that the establishment Republicans in many ways created this insurgency. Isn't that true?

JONAH GOLDBERG, SENIOR EDITOR, "NATIONAL REVIEW": I think there's truth to that. The whole chaos that we're going through right now is largely the function of the failures, lots of failures, years of failures structurally among the establishment or whatever you want to call it, and I think that's absolutely true.

At the same time, look, almost all of these criticisms that Donald Trump is making of Ted Cruz are hypocritical of him to make. The idea that Donald Trump plays well with others is kind of undermined by the last six months that we've seen him in these races. He always goes for the cheap low blow. He compared Ben Carson to a pedophile or something. The idea that somehow now Donald Trump is saying that Ted Cruz has a nasty streak?

HANNITY: Here's the flipside of it, Monica. If you get in a general election with Hillary, do you want the guy that's going to fight her hard? And he's already shown he is willing to take her on and the Clintons on in a way that nobody else will.

CROWLEY: You want somebody who has been deep in the competition, who has absorbed punches from their own side so that they're more prepared to take punches from the other side, because whether the Democratic candidate is Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, or somebody else, you want a candidate who is prepared, who knows how to dish it and to take it and how to dish it out and take it. Both Ted Cruz and Donald Trump are in that position now.

I'm with you. We don't like to see conservatives or Republican candidates beating each other up, but this is presidential politics. And I'd rather see it now --

GOLDBERG: You were fine with it when Donald Trump was doing it to everybody else. Let's just be straight about this. The idea that all of a sudden you don't like these guys attacking each other --

RIVERA: They can take care of themselves.

HANNITY: But I think the difference is, Jonah, is that I think conservatives are like Ted Cruz more than they do some of these establishment guys.

GOLDBERG: No, I think that's true, sure. That's absolutely fine. And the people who are lining up behind Trump were also ling up behind Ted Cruz for a very long time. And now all of a sudden, and I understand Geraldo's enjoying this because this is sort of like the Iran-Iraq war.

HANNITY: Come on, Jonah, geez.

RIVERA: That's when Henry Kissinger said he hopes they both lose. But I think Trump has the only chance really against the demographic headwinds that the Republican candidate faces of getting --


RIVERA: I think that African-Americans might if Trump stays on this crazy immigration thing, see in his policies some kind of salvation in terms of - -

HANNITY: But does he put New Jersey and Pennsylvania in play?

RIVERA: I think he puts in play a lot of people, a lot of Reagan Democrats. I absolutely think that.

HANNITY: Can Cruz do that?

RIVERA: Chris Christie did it. Why couldn't Donald Trump?

CROWLEY: I think Cruz can, too. It comes down to Trump and Cruz. Then you have a different dynamic going into what we --

HANNITY: You're right.

CROWLEY: -- would have to choose from in the general.

HANNITY: We've got to roll. Guys, good to see you.

RIVERA: I was there when Ted Cruz was begging for money right here in Manhattan.

HANNITY: And coming up next right here on HANNITY --


HILLARY CLINTON, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The fact is we have the Affordable Care Act. That is one of the greatest accomplishments of President Obama, of the Democratic Party, and of our country.


HANNITY: Her highness, Hillary Clinton, did her best to defend President Obama's disastrous policies at last night's Democratic debate. In case you didn't see it, we'll play you the tape.

Also, remember back in 2001 when President Clinton pardon the billionaire Marc Rich? Clinton Cash author Peter Schweizer is here and says that pardon, quote, "continues to pay big time for Bill and Hillary." That investigation straight ahead.


HANNITY: Welcome back to HANNITY. So last night 2016 Democratic presidential candidates faced off in South Carolina at their fourth -- well, boring debate. Frontrunner Hillary Clinton spent a lot of time defending President Obama and his awful policies. Watch this.


CLINTON: The fact is we have the Affordable Care Act. That is one of the greatest accomplishments of President Obama, of the Democratic Party, and of our country.


CLINTON: The Republicans just voted last week to repeal the Affordable Care Act, and thank goodness President Obama vetoed it and saved Obamacare for the American people.


CLINTON: Well, I'm very proud of the Iran nuclear agreement. I was very pleased to be part of what the president put into action when he took office.

I'm going to defend Dodd-Frank and I'm going to defend President Obama for taking on Wall Street, taking on the financial industry, and getting results.



HANNITY: Oh, boy. Here with reaction, FOX News contributor Democratic pollster Doug Schoen, and Republican strategist Lisa Boothe Hillary was asked, and I'm raising this for a question, is she sucking up to Obama because she wants a third Obama term or maybe she wants some help with the FBI. She was asked that question yesterday, has she spoken with the FBI?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In terms of the status of the FBI investigation into your private email server, have you been interviewed by the FBI yet?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You haven't. All right, Secretary Clinton, thanks so much. Really appreciate your time. Good luck with the debate tonight.


HANNITY: OK. And then the most Googled question on Hillary Clinton during the debate was this -- will Hillary get prosecuted? It's a big deal. Is that why she's embracing Obama, or does she really want a third Obama term?

LISA BOOTHE, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: It could be. We also know that the FBI has expanded the scope of the investigation into public corruption charges, looking at the intersection between the Clinton Foundation and her time as secretary of state. But let's think about it for a moment of what she's defending here. Under President Obama, we've seen a record number of food stamps, a record number of Americans that are either unemployed or underemployed.

HANNITY: In poverty.

BOOTHE: In poverty. And more businesses than ever that are going under. And so that's exactly what she's defending here. And let's look also at what has happened on President Obama's watch. Democrats as a result of their policies like Obama care have lost 13 Senate seats, 69 House seats.

HANNITY: And 900.

BOOTHE: And 900 legislative seats.

DOUG SCHOEN, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Can I offer a different explanation? Hillary is deeply worried about losing Iowa and New Hampshire. Her firewall are African-Americans particularly in South Carolina. Hence the defense of Obama to solidify the black vote which she will need if she loses both those primaries.

HANNITY: OK. But as she wraps herself around the Obama persona, that's going to kill her in the general election.

SCHOEN: She was his secretary of state, Sean. She doesn't have much choice.

HANNITY: I know. But I would think at this point she probably wants some distance from him.

SCHOEN: Not when she needs his constituency to get nominated in an increasingly tight Democratic primary.

HANNITY: What do you think?

BOOTHE: What we're seeing is Hillary Clinton is flat-lining. If you actually look at the trend lines of polling comparatively speaking to 2008, she's in worse shape heading into Iowa and New Hampshire and nationally than she was there.

SCHOEN: So you're agreeing with me.

BOOTHE: I am agreeing with you. I think she's in trouble. The majority of Americans do not trust her.

HANNITY: I don't like Bernie Sanders. Bernie Sanders is an angry old socialist curmudgeon from New Jersey -- from Vermont. I could never see this guy as president.

SCHOEN: That's what's happened to the Democratic Party and why people like me who are capitalists and moderates really don't have a in a left wing Democratic Party.

HANNITY: So you're voting for Trump or Cruz?

SCHOEN: I'm increasingly moving to the center. I would probably vote for Hillary against Trump or Cruz, but I like Donald Trump. I think Cruz made a bad mistake -- I think Cruz made a bad mistake dividing on so-called New York values. That hurt me. It was wrong.

HANNITY: It may help him in Iowa.

SCHOEN: It may help him in Iowa, but he'll do the same thing you say Hillary's doing. It's going to hurt him overall.

BOOTHE: Hillary Clinton can't even separate the Democratic Party from socialists.

HANNITY: She doesn't know what the difference is.

BOOTHE: She doesn't know what the difference is because is there a difference right now.

SCHOEN: She does know. The problem the Democratic Party has moved closer to socialism.

HANNITY: All right, I got to roll. Good to see you. Thank you.

SCHOEN: Thank you.

BOOTH: Thank you.

HANNITY: And coming up, back in 2001 then president Bill Clinton pardoned a guy by the name of Marc Rich. You remember that? Up next, the author of "Clinton Cash" Peter Schweizer explains why he says that this move, quote, "continues to pay big time for the Clintons." Do you really want another Clinton in the White House? That's next.


HANNITY: Welcome back to HANNITY. So another one of Bill Clinton's scandals from his troubled presidency is coming back to haunt Hillary Clinton's run for the White House. In an article for the "New York Post" author Peter Schweizer exposes how the Clintons have benefitted from Bill's infamous presidential pardon of international fugitive Marc Rich. This was back in 2001.

Now, Schweizer writes, quote, "But while the pardon was a political mistake it certainly was not a financial one. In the years following the scandal the flow of funds from those connected to Marc Rich or the pardoned scandal have continued to help the Clinton. And Rich died in 2013, but his business partners, lawyers, advisers and friends have showered millions of dollars on the Clintons in the decade and a half following the scandal."

Here with reaction, author of "Clinton Cash," the president of the Government Accountability Institute, Breitbart senior editor at large Peter Schweizer is back. And this never ends. You talked a lot about the money coming in from countries that have atrocious human rights records and women's rights records. And you have the pardon of Marc Rich, they've benefited big time financially. Explain this.

PETER SCHWEIZER, AUTHOR, "CLINTON CASH": Yes, that's right, Sean. If you remember the Marc Rich scandal, Marc Rich was on the FBI's 10 most wanted list. Bill Clinton on his last day in office pardons him. A lot of people were shocked and surprised, including his political allies. And what an investigation found up after the fact was that in a run-up to that pardon. Denise Rich, Marc Rich's ex-wife, had written large checks to the Clinton Foundation and to the Democratic Party.

What we found in researching the donations since that pardon is that the flow of cash of people connected to Marc Rich has continued. As you pointed out, Bill Clinton has said this was a political mistake. It certainly has not been a financial one. They have reaped a lot of financial rewards because of what they did for Marc Rich.

HANNITY: This is a guy, by the way, who traded illegally with America's enemies, including the Ayatollah Khomeini in Iran. And he brought about $200 million worth of oil while revolutionaries allied with Khomeini had American hostages. This is not a good guy. This is a guy that was apparently a lot of his wealth selling oil to the apartheid regime in South Africa. We reached out to the Clinton Foundation. Interestingly, Peter, they didn't respond to us. Why?


SCHWEIZER: Yes, big surprise. You're exactly right. Marc Rich was a bad, bad dude. And by the way, all of the things that you mentioned bout him trading with the Ayatollah Khomeini, with North Korea, with the apartheid regime in South Africa, even after the 2001 pardon, it came out after that fact that he was continuing in his bad ways. He was implicated in the oil for food scandal involving the Iraqi government and Saddam Hussein. So it's not like this is a guy who was repentant for what he had done.

And yet the Clintons have taken a $1 billion pledge from Marc Rich's long time business partner. They've taken money from his lawyers. They've taken money from all sorts of people directly connected to Marc Rich. And it just indicates they're pretty much willing to take money from anybody.

HANNITY: How much money are we talking about?

SCHWEIZER: It's hard to say because they reveal the contributions in ranges. But it is certainly more than $10 million. There is a $1 billion with a "b" pledge that Gilbert Chagoury, Marc Rich's long time business partner, has made. We don't know how much of that has been honored, but it's a large sum of money.

And by the way, Sean, as I point out in the piece, there are still more than 1,000 contributors to the Clinton Foundation that have never been disclosed. Those are people basically from the natural resources industry which is commodities and mining. That was Marc Rich's industry, so the possibility that there is more is certainly out there.

HANNITY: Is it fair to say that countries with atrocious human rights records like Saudi Arabia and all these others that donated to the Clinton Foundation bought Hillary's silence, and that in this case there was sort of like a wink and a nod, a quid pro quo, you get your pardon, we expect your help later?

SCHWEIZER: Yes, it's a good question. I get asked this a lot. How does the Clinton business model work? And I basically think there are two ways. One is basically payment for services rendered, right? A pardon takes place, we're going to take care of you. I think the other arrangement the Clinton's have is kind of a retainer arrangement, right? We'll continue to provide you with funds. We may not need you to do something right now. We may need you to do something later on. So both of those are definitely in play and involve some really, really bad people.

HANNITY: All right, thanks so much, appreciate it, Peter.

When we come back, we need your help, our "Question of the Day."


HANNITY: All right, time for our "Question of the Day." So what do you think of the Iran hostage prisoner swap? Just go to Facebook.com/SeanHannity, @SeanHannity on Twitter, let us know what you think.

That is all the time we have left this evening. Thanks for being with us. We'll see you back here tomorrow night.

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