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Fox News Sunday

Rep. Devine Nunes weighs in on National Security; Ted Cruz talks increasingly personal fight with Donald Trump

This is a rush transcript from "Fox News Sunday," March 27, 2016. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

SHANNON BREAM, FOX NEWS ANCHOR:  I’m Shannon Bream, in for Chris Wallace.

An American couple confirmed dead and more arrests in the Brussels terror attacks.  What are we doing to keep the homeland safe?  

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BREAM:  Today, the top lawmaker in the House Intelligence Committee reacts.  

REP. DEVIN NUNES, R-CALI., CHAIR, INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE:  I’m worried that this was, indeed, some type of attack on Americans.

BREAM:  Congressman Devin Nunes on why he thinks Americans were the target, only on FOX NEWS SUNDAY.

And is the criticism President Obama faced for doing the wave and dancing the tango amid the terror threats fair?  

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  I’ve got a lot of things on my plate.  But my top priority is to defeat ISIS.  

BREAM:  We'll ask our Sunday panel about the president's optics problem.  

And our exclusive with Senator Ted Cruz on his controversial call to police Muslim neighborhoods.  

SEN. TED CRUZ, R-TEXAS, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  We need to be going after where the threat comes from.  And the threat comes from radicalization.  

BREAM:  Plus, the war of the wives.  The feud between Cruz and Trump takes a nasty turn.  

CRUZ:  This "National Enquirer" story is garbage and it is a smear that has come from Donald Trump and his henchmen.  

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

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BREAM:  And hello again from Fox News in Washington.  

We begin with the latest on the investigation into those deadly Belgium terror attacks.

Belgian police have now charged another suspect who is being investigated as the possible third airport attacker, the one in the hat on the right side of your screen.  Today, we'll get exclusive reaction from House Intelligence Chair Devin Nunes and Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz.  

But first, to Fox News senior foreign affairs correspondent Greg Palkot live from Brussels -- Greg.  

GREG PALKOT, FOX NEWS SENIOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT:  Hello, Shannon.  

It is an emotional Easter Sunday here in Brussels.  The crowd is gathering in front of a makeshift memorial to the victims of the terror attacks this week.  The crowd is growing in size and in noise, amid news of a break in the investigation into those attacks.  You're right, Shannon, police now think they could have the other airport bomber, that man seen in the surveillance picture in a hat and jacket, with two other suicide bombers.  

His bomb didn't go off.  He fled the scene.  Police say it is believed that the man is Faycal Cheffou and is claimed to be independent journalist but really what he’s been doing on YouTube is just pushing radical Islamic causes.  He is charged with terrorist murder.  

Meanwhile, sadly, it has been confirmed that two more Americans were killed in the attacks this week.  They're 30-year-old Justin Shults and 29-year-old Stephanie, his wife.  They're originally from Tennessee and Kentucky respectively.  

They both worked for companies here the past couple years.  They both loved exploring Europe.  They were at the airport dropping off their mother after a visit.  She was safely through security when the bombing happened.  She is safe.  

Along with two unidentified Americans who we learned on Friday were also killed, that brings to at least four Americans dead in these attacks.  By the way, the officials now say that death toll that they've been putting out, 31, includes the bombers.  So, the actual number of victims is 28.  

The injured toll, even higher today, 340, including 12 Americans, many of them suffering severe burns.  Many of them had their eardrums blown out by the blast, especially in the metro.  It was literally deafening.  

Finally, there was, in fact, going to be a march against fear today here in Brussels.  That in response to the terror attacks.  Organizers had to call it off on the request of officials.  Police saying they have their handful of probing the attacks and also dealing with security.

And, again, what we apparently have been watching here behind us is a bunch of right-wing individuals, far right, who are saying things against immigrants in this city, in this country, and saying that has to do with the terrorists that we've been seeing.  They're clashing verbally a bit with the mourners here who have been peacefully marking the terror attacks.  

But again, an emotional and a sad Sunday, Easter Sunday here in Brussels.  Back to you, Shannon.  

BREAM:  Greg Palkot, reporting from Brussels -- Greg, thank you.  

Senator Ted Cruz called for law enforcement to conduct surveillance in Muslim communities.  We spoke exclusively with senator Cruz this weekend and I asked him what that proposal looks like.  

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CRUZ:  What that looks like is proactive law enforcement.  What that looks like is addressing the problem and engaging the problem, using every tool, law enforcement, national security, intelligence, military abroad to defeat the enemy.  

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BREAM:  We'll hear more from Senator Cruz in just a moment.  But, first, let's get reaction from House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes.  

Chairman, welcome to "Fox News Sunday."

NUNES:  Thanks, Shannon.  

BREAM:  I want to start by asking you about reports citing international intelligence officials saying that ISIS has trained some, at least 400 fighters, and has deployed them across Europe to carry out more attacks.  

What is your understanding of the imminent threat to Europe right now?  

NUNES:  Well, what I always advise people is, these numbers you're hearing are only the numbers the intelligence community knows about.  Think what’s more concerning is that the spectrum of threats continues to grow because we know the people that we know about, but we don't know the people that have went to Syria and Iraq and come back.  

Altogether, that's probably in the thousands.  And then they're training locals.  So, they're going to these refugee populations, training people, bringing people into the fold, going to the mosques and you look at places like Belgium, France, Germany, Turkey, other parts -- those are -- those are areas that I think with high populations that have to be concerned about more attacks in the future.  

BREAM:  With that in mind, I want to play a little bit of the president's weekly address in which he talked about taking on ISIL and thought is part of the puzzle.  Here's what he said.  

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA:  As we move forward in this fight, we have to wield another weapon alongside our airstrikes, our military and our counterterrorism work and our diplomacy.  And that's the power of our example -- our openness to refugees fleeing ISIL’s violence.  

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BREAM:  We know that several of the suspects linked to a number of these terror attacks across Europe were posing as Syrian refugees.  Are you confident that the U.S. screening and vetting process is foolproof enough that we can move forward with what the president is suggesting?  

NUNES:  No, I’m not.  And that's why the House of Representatives last year asked for a pause in the refugee program.  

And I want to be clear that I do believe that we need to accept refugees from around the globe, especially from places that are war-torn, that have dictatorships.  We need to be the beacon of light around the globe.  But at this point, the Congress has spoken clearly that we need to pause on this program when you look at refugees that are coming from potential ISIS or al Qaeda infested areas including Iraq and Syria.  

However, the Senate will not vote on it.  So, the Senate Democrats have killed the opportunity to vote on a pause on this refugee program.  The longer this refugee program goes unchecked, the longer that we don't take care of ISIS and al Qaeda, the more that this threat will grow day by day.  

BREAM:  We have seen here in the U.S., ISIS sympathizers, some who have carried out attacks, some who have been charged with supporting the organization or hoping to get involved with the organization or support it.  

With that in mind, do you think that there are operable cells or lone wolves who’ve been trained or inspired by ISIS here in the U.S. today?  

NUNES:  Yes.  So, I think it's really important to always refer to this as ISIS and al Qaeda, because a lot of people forget that al Qaeda actually carried out a very similar attack in Europe just last year in Paris.  ISIS and al Qaeda are kind of a strange cousin.  They're competing.  But at the same time, they have the same goal, which is to attack our allies in the West and ourselves.  

So, when you look forward, going forward, it's not just about the people who went to Iraq and Syria and come back.  It's not just about the people we don't know about.  It's also the capability that ISIS and al Qaeda are using over the Internet in encrypted chat rooms that we cannot get into that are radicalizing people here in the United States, what we call self-radicalization.  

BREAM:  After the attacks in Brussels this week, earlier, you said, "From my vantage point, it does looks like an target an attack on Americans, it looks like it was targeted toward Americans to some degree."

We know there are four Americans among the dead from a number of different countries.  Is that still your opinion that Americans were the target?  

NUNES:  Well, I think we start out with the fact that we know that Americans and our allies on the West are always a target.  What I was talking about -- referring to is that as the facts come together, as the Belgian police and investigators begin to put this together, if it does end up that the American Airlines were targeted and perhaps the metro station close to the U.S. embassy was targeted, if those -- if that ends up being a fact, then, yes, I think that you have to say that Americans were at least part of the target.  Just like when they attacked -- the attack in Paris which appeared to be targeted towards an American rock band.  

And so, you know, furthermore on this point, what I think people forget also is that when you have people who were born in Europe who hold Western passports that travel over to Iraq and Syria and get trained by either ISIS or al Qaeda types or get radicalized in Europe by ISIS or al Qaeda types, they hold Western passports so they can then transit into the United States.  

And that's what we remain concerned about.  It's why the FBI director said that there are investigations going on in 50 states.  

BREAM:  President Obama this week took some criticism for continuing with trips that were long planned, attending a baseball game with Raul Castro in Cuba, tangoing in Argentina.  But he stuck with what seems to be a philosophy of his and it’s not just him.  I mean, there are lawmakers on both sides of the aisle that have suggested, if you stop your routines, if you part with your life and your schedules, that essentially terrorists end up winning.  

Here's a bit of what he had to say along those lines in Argentina.  

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA:  It is very important for us to not respond with fear.  We defeat them in part by saying, you are not strong.  You are weak.  

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BREAM:  True?  

NUNES:  So what needs to happen here is that the Obama administration submitted their strategy to the United States Congress which was a seven page strategy on defeating what they call extremism.  

First of all, you have to define the problem.  And so, look, I think it's fair whether people say, what is your strategy?  Well, look, the president of the United States should not be hanging out in Cuba with a known financier of terrorism.  

What the president of the United States should be doing is calling together all our allies in a coalition of the willing, including those in the Middle East that want to sit down together as leaders at a neutral location, put all the intelligence on the table so that we can find out where all the pockets of ISIS and al Qaeda are.  Because remember, we have colonies now that have spread from Western Africa, all the way to Southeast Asia and now it looks like they have a command and control structure in parts of Europe.  

So, what the president should be doing is sitting down with these leaders, identifying the problem, and then coming up with a plan and asking all the countries to participate more than they ever have in what is really going to be a long war, a generational war against radical Islamic extremism.  

BREAM:  Mr. Chairman, we're just about out of time.  But I want to ask you quickly, so much of the operations, the alleged training camps are supposed to be centered in Syria.  We know there's been easy travel back and forth for the suspects there.  

Does the U.S. bear any responsibility for the continuing ongoing chaotic situation over the last five years in Syria?  

NUNES:  Well, look, there's never really been a plan.  So when you look at what needs to be done in Iraq and Syria, that is a containment strategy.  That is not a strategy ultimately to defeat ISIS, because ISIS has spread over to North Africa.  So, a lot of the fighters and weapons and money, et cetera, have been coming from North Africa into Syria and Iraq.  

So, it's a containment strategy that's not working.  We know it's not working because the threat that was identified by the intelligence community several years ago was that worst thing that could happen is allowing people to go from the West into Iraq and Syria and then back out.  So, there's just a failed strategy here that's getting worse.  You have the secretary of state just on Friday saying that we're winning against Syria -- against ISIS in Syria and Iraq.  

This seems to me to be just delusional, while at the same time, you’ve got the president of the United States dancing down in Argentina when he should be meeting with the leaders of Europe and other allies to try to take the fight to the enemy.  

BREAM:  Chairman Nunes, thank you so much for joining us today.  

NUNES:  My pleasure.  

BREAM:  Time now for our Sunday group -- syndicated columnist George Will, "USA Today" columnist Kirsten Powers, Jason Riley of The Wall Street Journal, and Fox News political analyst Juan Williams.  

Welcome you to all.  

George, I’ll start quickly with you.  Your reaction to the latest out of Brussels and how this administration is strategizing with regard to ISIS.  

GEORGE WILL, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST:  Well, the administration trapped on its own good news.  It was very good news that administration killed a high level operative.  In a way, it indicated astonishingly good intelligence capabilities on the part of our armed forces.  

I think these attacks have now raised a question that reframes the debate about ISIL, that is how important is the existence of the caliphate so-called, the existence of the territory they hold important to them, A, because it gives ISIL charisma that helps them recruit, and, B, because perhaps the logistics help conduct operations like this.  

To the extent that we conclude that the existence of that territorial control is crucial, it frames the mission and the mission is to take back the territory.  And the Europeans, because they're the targets of this, ought to bear a considerable military responsibility.  

BREAM:  Jason, you're chomping at the bit there.  

JASON RILEY, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL:  I think George is right.  We have been making some progress militarily.  High ranking ISIS officials are being taken out.  A territory that was gained by the territories in Iraq and Syria are being retaken.  But at the same time, ISIS is able to carry out major attacks on European cities, seemingly at will.  They're winning the PR campaign, and when it comes to recruitment, perception is what matters most.  

I think the chairman got right to the point, which is that this administration continues to have a policy of containing ISIS, not eliminating it.  It's not that we don't have the capability to do this, we lack the political will to do it.  

BREAM:  Kirsten, the president took heat over perception, as Jason was talking about another context, but about his trip and what he was doing this week.  But he has long stood by this, as others in the Republican camp have as well, that you move on with your life or they win.  

KIRSTEN POWERS, USA TODAY:  Right.  And I also think, you heard the congressman saying he was hanging out in Cuba.  This characterizing a state visit as some sort of, like, you know, boondoggle or something.  The president had a planned visit to go there.  He’s trying to reestablish --

BREAM:  A very controversial one.  

POWERS:  Controversial, but still his prerogative to do.  And it's not something you cancel at the last minute and the president does believe that you do go on with your life.  In terms of dancing, you know, as you even said on Friday, he tried to not dance with her repeatedly.  

I mean, it's not as though he's like, oh, I’m going to go to Cuba and I’m going to tango.  That wasn't exactly the plan.  I think the golfing thing also, I’ve long said, the president should be allowed to golf.  If it's how he blows off steam or, you know, enjoys it -- good for him.  He works all the time.  

BREAM:  One final word on this to you.  

JUAN WILLIAMS, FOX NEWS POLITICAL ANALYST:  Well, I think, you know, on the optics, optics are politics and they don't look good for President Obama.  If you put it together, I think that it's largely coming from Republicans who want to portray him as weak and fighting the war on terror.  

The one power point is I think tariff dozen want to goad us into an overreaction and the overreaction is to draw into another long term effort in the Middle East.  And I think that would be very difficult to do.  We are fighting a guerrilla war.  In terms of what Jason said, it's hard to stop these isolated cells.  

BREAM:  They certainly have an apocalyptic mission and they do, when (INAUDIBLE) in there.

All right.  Thanks, panel.  

We’ve got to break here on this, because when we come back, the attacks get personal between Ted Cruz and Donald Trump.  

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BREAM:  First, it was a fight over their wives.  Now, Cruz is blaming Trump's, quote, "henchmen" for a tabloid story in the National Enquirer.

CRUZ:  It is complete and utter lies.  It is a tabloid smear.  

BREAM:  Trump says he had absolutely nothing to do with it.  Senator Cruz joins us exclusively, next.  

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BREAM:  The Republican race for the White House reaching new lows this week as accusations flew between Donald Trump and Ted Cruz.  

Earlier, I spoke with Senator Cruz about the increasingly bitter battle, but we began with the terror threat in the wake of the Brussels attacks.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BREAM:  Senator, in the wake of the Brussels bombings, you issued a statement that said this in part, "We need to immediately halt the flow of refugees from countries with a significant al Qaeda or ISIS presence.  We need to empower law enforcement to patrol and secure Muslim neighborhoods before they become radicalized."  What exactly were you or are you proposing?  

CRUZ:  Well, Shannon, good morning.  It's good to be with you.  Happy Easter today.  

You know, this past week, all of us mourned this terrible terrorist attack in Brussels.  And we have seen these attacks occurring over and over again.  

This attack was not a lone wolf.  It wasn't an isolated incident.  This was part of a global jihad being waged by radical Islamic terrorism and it’s a jihad being waged on Europe, begin waged on Israel, and being waged on the United States of America.  

And for seven years, President Obama and Hillary Clinton and this administration have been so bound up by political correctness, they refused to acknowledge what it is we're fighting.  They refused even to name it after every one of these attacks, the president does a national TV conference, where he refuses to sat words "radical Islamic terrorism".  Instead, he lectures Americans on Islamophobia.  

Well, enough is enough.  We need a commander-in-chief who will keep this country safe.  One of the consequences of the political correctness of this administration is they embrace policies that make no sense.  Obama and Hillary Clinton both support bringing tens of thousands of Syrian Muslim refugees to America despite the fact that ISIS tells us they intend to infiltrate those refugees with jihadists coming here to kill us.  

And despite the fact that the FBI tells us they cannot vet those refugees to make sure they're not terrorists.  We need a commander in chief who is focused on defeating radical Islamic terrorism and utterly destroying ISIS and on keeping America safe.  

BREAM:  OK.  But how would that play out with patrols in Muslim neighborhoods?  What are the practicalities of what that looks like?  

CRUZ:  Well, sure.  What that looks like is proactive law enforcement.  What that looks like is addressing the problem and engaging the problem, using every tool, law enforcement, national security, intelligence, using the military abroad to defeat the enemy.  

You know, there was a successful program in New York City that was started under Mayor Michael Bloomberg.  It did exactly this.  It engaged cooperatively with the Muslim community but it got involved to prevent radicalization, to prevent radical Islamic terror cells from performing and prevent any acts of terror before they're carried out.  

Now, unfortunately, liberal Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio, when he got elected, one of the first things he did in a nod to political correctness is he did disband that unit.  That doesn't make any sense.  We need to be going after where the threat comes from and the threat comes from radicalization.  

You know, you look at Europe, much of the cause of these terror attacks is the failed immigration policies in Europe over the decades where they’ve allowed vast numbers of Islamic terrorists to come into Europe.  They live in isolated locations where law enforcement often doesn't engage at all and they're hot beds for radicalization that leads to these sorts after attacks.  

We can't become Europe.  We can't follow their same mistakes and we need our law enforcement to engage and to fight this enemy which is Islamism.  It's different from Islam.  Islamism is a political and theocratic policy that commands its adherence to engage in jihad, to murder or violently convert infidels -- which they mean anybody else, all of us -- and to force us to live under Sharia law.  

And we got to fight Islamism at every level.  This administration is not doing that, and that is why we're seeing the rise of radical Islamic terrorism all over the globe.  

BREAM:  Well, Senator, you know the president responded to your idea by invoking your father.  Here's a bit of what he said.  

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  I just left a country that engages in that kind of neighborhood surveillance -- which, by the way, the father of Senator Cruz escaped for America, the land of the free.  

(END VIDO CLIP)

BREAM:  Also this week former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton referenced your comments with respect to carpet bombing.  Here is her take.  

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HILLARY CLINTON, D-PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Proposing that doesn't make you sound tough.  It makes you sound like you're in over your head.  

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BREAM:  Earlier this month, CNN had a poll asking who’s best equipped to handle the issues of foreign policy, former Secretary Clinton was atop the list, you came in fourth, behind Trump and Sanders as well.  

So, as a first term senator, as the secretary suggested, are you in over your head on foreign policy?  

CRUZ:  Listen, I'll tell who you is in over their head and it's Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton and John Kerry and the entire Obama administration.  The Obama-Clinton foreign policy is a manifest disaster.  Every single region on earth, Shannon, has gotten worse.  

Our friend and allies, we've abandoned them.  This has been the most anti-Israel administration we have ever seen.  And we have shown weakness and appeasement to our enemies.

You know, it's rich saying Obama attacking me when he just got back from going to a baseball game with the Castros, celebrating and toasting a communist dictator who tortures and murders his citizens, who oppresses them and who is rabidly anti-American and who spreads terrorism throughout Latin America.  

As the president noted, yes, my father was in prison and tortured in Cuba.  So was my aunt.  She was imprisoned and tortured by Castro's goons in Cuba.  

And yet, what President Obama has done, what Hillary Clinton has done, what John Kerry has done is sent billions of dollars to the enemies of America, billions of dollars to the Castros, that they will use to increase repression, increase spreading terrorism throughout Latin America, and over $100 billion to the Ayatollah Khamenei in Iran.  That money will be used to fund Islamic terrorists that are coming to murder Americans, murder Europeans, to murder Israelis.  And it will be used to fund their nuclear program and their ICBM program, which is designed to murder millions of Americans.  

This policy of weakness and appeasement doesn't work.  And I think the American people are tired of it.  They're tired of the moralizing and lecturing.  You notice Obama and Hillary seemed more mad at me than they are at ISIS, than they are the terrorists who are murdering.  We know of at least two Americans who were murdered Brussels.  There may be many more.  There are still people missing.  

Our prayers are with them.  But we need a president who will bring the full force and fury of the United States of America to defeating ISIS.  

Shannon, I’ll tell you, if I’m president, we will utterly and completely destroy ISIS.  We will carpet bomb them into oblivion, using overwhelming airpower.  We will arm the Kurds on the ground.  We will use our forces to defeat them and we won't put our forces in combat with the rules of engagement that Obama is so fond of that tie their arms behind their back that make it impossible for them to fight and win.  That is wrong and that is immoral.  

If and when we use military force, we will use it to win, to defeat our enemies with overwhelming force and then we’ll get the heck out.  We won't engage in nation-building, but rather, we'll keep America safe.  

BREAM:  Senator, it was a bit like combat on the campaign trail this week.  It took a very nasty personal turn.

I want to start first with the Facebook and Instagram ad from an anti-Trump super PAC called Make America Awesome.  They published a picture that essentially was a nearly nude photo of Melania Trump.  Mr. Trump has said that you were lying about knowing about it or having anything to do with it.  He threatened to, quote, "spill the beans" on your wife Heidi.  

Did anyone within your campaign, you, anyone else connected you to coordinate in any way or have communications with that group?  Did you know anything about the ad?  

CRUZ:  Not remotely.  It was a group -- I don't know the person who’s involved.  As far as I know, I’ve never met them.  I’ve never spoken to them.  They're completely disconnected from our campaign.  

The ad they put out was deplorable.  And as soon as I saw it, I denounced it and said it was wrong.  But it wasn't us.  You know what?  There are a whole lot of people in America who disagree with Donald Trump.  

And he used that as an excuse, the fact that someone else who I don't know and have no involvement with used a deplorable ad -- he used that as an excuse to go after my wife Heidi, to go after my family, to attack her directly.  And not only did he threaten her directly, but then the next day, he sent a really nasty tweet juxtaposing a bad picture of Heidi with a good picture of his wife, and I guess bragging that his wife is so attractive.  

Listen, I have never once said any negative word about Melania or any member of his family.  I don’t intend to.  Melania is a lovely woman.  Everything I’ve seen, she seems to be a terrific mother.  

Attacking spouses and children is off-limits.  It has no place in politics.  

And sadly, what Donald has done, when he gets scared -- listen, particularly on foreign policy, Donald is out of his depth, he doesn't know.  He doesn't understand these issues.  One of the reasons he was so scared this week is this past week, Donald called publicly for effectively withdrawing America from NATO.  Now that is a catastrophically foolish proposition. Abandoning Europe, withdrawing from the most successful military alliance of modern times makes no sense at all. If Donald were president, he actually did what he said he would do, withdraw from NATO, it would hand a massive victory to Putin, a massive victory to ISIS. ISIS would be dancing in the street at the weakness and isolationism of Donald Trump.

Now the day after he calls for withdrawing from NATO, this Brussels terror attack occurs. Brussels, is, of course, where NATO is headquartered. And so his lack of understanding on foreign policy, his lack of ability and readiness to protect his country was evident. And so Donald did what he always does, he tried to find a way to change the subject. He hasn't campaigned for a week. He's been hiding in Trump Tower. But late at night he sends tweets attacking my wife, attacking Heidi. It is inappropriate. It is wrong. It is, frankly, disgusting to see a candidate attacking the spouse of another. And it is a sign of just how scared Donald is right now because he doesn't want to discuss the substance.

In fact, Shannon, that's why he's afraid to debate, why he refuses to debate because when he debates, his lack of understanding of the challenge facing America becomes evident for everyone to see.

BREAM: All right, let's move on to the National Enquirer. This is what they say --

CRUZ: Yes.

BREAM: Alleging, quote, "private investigators are digging into at least five affairs Ted Cruz supposedly had." All right, you and I are both lawyers. I have read this article in full. They use the word "supposedly" a lot, "may have," "allegedly," "apparently." I don't see any concrete allegations.

CRUZ: Yes. No.

BREAM: But would you like to respond?

CRUZ: Yes. Look, this story is garbage. It is tabloid smear. And it came from Donald Trump and his henchmen. You know the only person quoted on the record there is Roger Stone, the chief political adviser to Donald Trump. And this is the kind of lies and sleaze --

BREAM: They did have a parting of ways. They did have a parting of ways, so we don't -- we don’t know exactly what the relationship is. But, yes, he has been linked with Mr. Trump.

CRUZ: But -- but -- but, Shannon, they haven't had a parting of ways. Not -- Roger Stone remains the henchmen, the hatchet man, the enforcer for Donald Trump. He's pushing these attacks. And, by the way, he's been pushing them for many, many months online. These are complete made up lies. They're garbage. But, you know, it's indicative of just how low Donald Trump will go. He makes up lies and attacks --

BREAM: OK, but I want to make sure that we include what his response was on whether he’s linked to this or not. In a Facebook posting on Friday he said, "I have no idea whether or not the cover story about Ted Cruz in this week's issue of the National Enquirer is true or not, but I had absolutely nothing to do with it, did not know about it and have not as yet read it."

CRUZ: Well, look, that’s very convenient to say except the article quotes Roger Stone, who organized and planned Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. And I'll note, David Pecker, the CEO of National Enquirer, is a close friend of Donald Trump. The National Enquirer has endorsed Donald Trump for president. And -- and this entire campaign they've done two things, one, they’ve praised Donald Trump at every turn. And, two, they spread lies and smears and attacks on every -- every one of his opponents. And -- and -- and this is garbage.

Look, we've got real problems in America. There -- there are right now people -- people are hurting. Their wages are stagnant. I mean people are out of work. They want to see jobs. And what does Donald Trump want to do? He doesn't want to talk about these issues. He doesn’t -- he has no answers for how to bring jobs back to America. Donald Trump has no idea how to do that. He has no answers for how to keep America safe from radical Islamic terrorism. So instead, he attacks my wife, he attacks my family he goes to garbage and sleaze and lies.

It's categorically false and it has no business in politics. This is why people are disgusted in politics. And -- and we need a -- a leader who is prepared to address the real challenges facing this country. You know, I spent the last several days campaigning in Wisconsin. You know what the people there are interested in? How do we bring back our jobs? How do we see wages rising again?

I spent a lot of time talking about my positive economic program to repeal every word of Obamacare, to pass a simple flat tax and abolish the IRS, to lift back the EPA and the federal regulations that are killing small businesses, to stop amnesty and illegal immigration and end sanctuary cities and end welfare benefits for those here illegally. And, Shannon, we do all of that, we will see millions and millions of high paying jobs, new jobs, manufacturing jobs coming back from China, coming back from Mexico. We'll see wages going up. We'll see young people coming out of school with two, three, four, five job opportunities. That's what Americans are interested in is a leader who knows how to solve these problems, who has a real and positive agenda. Donald doesn't have that.

BREAM: Senator, we’ve got to leave it there. Thank you for joining us on "Fox News Sunday." Happy Easter to you and your family as well. We'll see you on the campaign trail.

CRUZ: Happy Easter and God bless.

BREAM: Up next, we'll bring back our Sunday group to discuss that Trump-Cruz battle.

Plus, what would you like to ask the panel about bringing political spouses into the campaign feud? Will it alienate Republican women this November? Just go to FaceBook or Twitter @foxnewssunday. We may use your questions on the air.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. PAUL RYAN, R-WIS., HOUSE SPEAKER: Our political discourse, both the kind that we see on TV, and the kind that we experience among each other, it did not used to be this bad and it does not have to be this way.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BREAM: House Speaker Paul Ryan criticizing the ugliness of 2016 politics. A veiled rebuke there, maybe, of Donald Trump, maybe others.

We're back now with our panel.

And, Kirsten, I'll start with you because Donald Trump has made 100 percent denial that he had anything to do with The Enquirer story. You have some other potential theories.

POWERS: Well, it's possible that he had something to do with it, but I can tell you that -- that people -- well, first of all, I’ll say The Daily Beast reported that -- that it was shopped (ph) (INAUDIBLE) at least to a lot of reporters by people -- by somebody who was a pro-Rubio person. I also happen to know that one of the people that was shopping this story around very aggressively is somebody who’s completely anti-Trump. Now, he’s anti-Cruz also, but it’s, you know, it’s an anti-Trump, anti-Cruz. So it's not -- not a person who is in any way supportive of Donald Trump. So this hasn’t been something that's been repeated, but we don’t really know who was responsible for it getting to "The Enquirer." But the story’s been out there for -- for months, I mean, among reporters.

BREAM: Well, and, again, there’s nothing equivocal. I mean everything in the article uses the word supposed, rumor, alleged. So -- and two of the women who had their faces blurred out have come forward to publically say, absolutely not.

POWERS: Right.

BREAM: So, we’ll watch for more on that.

Meanwhile, a lot of folks are feeling the Bern out there because last night he won three states, Alaska, Hawaii, and Washington state, resoundingly. I mean they weren't even close, Juan.

WILLIAMS: Well, actually, I think this is the beginning of the end for Bernie Sanders. I think this may be the -- the high --

BREAM: The three wins are the beginning of the end?

WILLIAMS: Yes.

BREAM:  Oh, OK.

WILLIAMS: Look, he's nowhere near -- he didn't actually make any great strides in terms of closing the gap.

BREAM: He picked up delegates.

WILLIAMS: Not -- but not substantially in a way that you would say, oh, now he's a threat to win the Democratic Party nomination. He is hoping for a debate in New York State and saying that he's going to ratchet up his critique of Hillary Clinton going into New York state, where she’s heavily favored, having been the senator from New York.

But you see Democratic senators calling for him to get out. President Obama, in a closed session with donors, is reported to have said it’s time to bring the party together.

I think the Democrats understand they need to play nice with Bernie though. I think it's a third of voters in a Wall Street Journal poll in -- a third of Bernie Sanders supporters in a "Wall Street Journal" poll said they would not support Hillary Clinton. They just want Bernie Sanders. They want that strong left wing populous voice. So they're going to have it find out.

Obviously, he gets a speaking slot at the convention. Does he become vice president? No, I don't think so. I think, boy, Republican ad makers would be in heaven with ads against the socialist Bernie Sanders.

BREAM: Self-admitted, self-described.

WILLIAMS: Right. So I think that what you get here is a situation where they're going to have to -- the Democratic Party is going to have to buy into Bernie Sanders in order to get him to buy into Hillary to bring those voters that Hillary’s going to need, because she is not setting the campaign trail on fire. He's the one doing it for the Democrats. And they need that energy going into November.

BREAM: Well, and, Jason, last night he made this very impassioned plea with the cheering thousands there with him saying, he sees a path forward. That he’s got momentum if nothing else. And the gap is really --

RILEY: Right.

BREAM: We're not talking hundreds and hundreds of -- I -- I mean, it's -- but we’ve got the issue of the super delegates as well.

RILEY: Right.

BREAM: But he -- he says he’s not going away.

RILEY: She has a significant lead among the delegates. That's the bottom line. In fact, her -- her lead among the delegates is much larger than Obama’s lead --

WILLIAMS: Right.

RILEY: With her it was back on ’08. It -- it is quite significant. So Bernie Sanders spends a significant amount of his time these days trying to justify continuing in the race. And Hillary Clinton, meanwhile, wants to pivot to a general election campaign. You see her trying to move on, rarely even mentioning him in her speeches these days. So, there’s some tension there. But I don't see -- I don’t see a path forward for -- for Bernie, other than making some demands at the convention.

WILLIAMS: Right.

BREAM: All right, and, George, obviously, we still have very much a battle on the GOP side. Highly possible that nobody gets to the convention with a 1,237. Somebody may. But in the meantime, we have some new polling out that shows when you look at the three remaining contenders head-to-head against either Hillary or Bernie, this is what you get. John Kasich at the top of the list, when you put him head-to-head with Hillary Clinton, he'd ahead of her by 11 points, Cruz up by three points and Clinton bests Trump by one point. Same thing with Sanders. Kasich is the only GOP contender that comes out ahead in that one. Cruz and Trump both losing to Sanders at this point. What does it say to you about the overall race?

WILL: First of all, we know that John Kasich cannot get to the convention with a majority of the delegates. Cruz has to win something like 87 percent, which will not happen. Donald Trump has to win 50-some percent. That probably won’t happen. So we're looking at a -- at a convention in which Mr. Cruz will be heavily dependent on, dare I say it, the Washington cartel, to try and rescue themselves and the party from Donald Trump.

So the question is, who's preparing best for the convention right now? And I think at this point it would have to say it's -- it’s Cruz. Football coach Paul "Bear" Bryant of Alabama said, "what matters isn't the will to win, what really matters is the will to prepare to win." And it's who's preparing for a contested convention now that matters most. And that clearly, it seems to me, it's the Cruz campaign.

BREAM: Well, does John Kasich have a third or fourth ballot argument here when he's the one who, head-to-head against these nominees on the Democratic side, that's going to be his argument.

WILL: That will be his argument. But others will make it. That is Ryan and others who -- who -- names of people not even in this race. Governor Walker of Wisconsin has suggested that in a contested convention you could go to someone who didn't enter the list at all and it's particularly the case with John Kasich because he's run hard and he's run unsuccessfully almost everywhere except Ohio.

BREAM: But -- and we have in Wisconsin, there’s not a lot of polling there. It's tough, but it looks like Kasich has a significant double digit portion of what we're seeing in the polling there.

Jason, how tough is that for Cruz?

RILEY: I -- Kasich, I -- I don't see a path. I mean he’s giving a lot of --

BREAM: But -- but Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, places where he’s polling well.

RILEY: He -- he -- he -- he could -- that's his -- that’s where he does well. That's the Midwestern states, the rust belt, that's where Kasich has done well. He just doesn't have the time or the -- or the -- or the amount of delegates left in the remaining contest to get there. And I -- I -- even with a contested convention, George, it's hard for me to see the justification for going with someone other than Trump who is running, who goes to the convention with fewer delegates than Trump had. I mean why turn to a Cruz, a Kasich, anyone who had less support than Donald Trump going into the convention --

WILLIAMS: Well, let me -- let me answer --

RILEY: Versus an outsider, like a --

WILLIAMS: Let me answer that.

RILEY: Like a Paul Ryan or someone else.

WILLIAMS: Let me answer that question. I will say that, you know, for the Republican Party, there is great need to preserve their majority in the Senate. A concern about preserving even a narrowing lead of the majority in the House. And I think Donald Trump would be catastrophic for that.

Kasich, by the way, doing better in Pennsylvania and these states, but nowhere near what he needs. And, finally, Reince Priebus at the RNC getting ready for that convention but Trump saying he's trying to undermine him and Priebus saying, I’m just trying to make sure we know the rules of the road as we go towards a likely convention -- open convention.

BREAM: You know --

POWERS: But there are a lot of people that think the voters actually choose the candidate still. So (INAUDIBLE) have a problem with that.

BREAM: Oh, no (ph), in America. The conventions are going to be so much fun. You know that's true.

All right, panel, we’ve got to take a break here, but when we come back, the standoff over President Obama's Supreme Court nominee. Some Senate Republicans now calling for a hearing. We'll discuss that.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE BIDEN, D-VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The president has fully discharged his constitutional obligation. So it’s a really simple proposition in my view. Now it's up to the Senate to do the same. As I might add, the polling data shows the American people expect him to do.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BREAM: Vice President Biden calling on the Republican-led Senate to consider Judge Merrick Garland’s Supreme Court nomination and give him an up or down vote. We're now back with the panel.

All right, so I want to play a little bit of what Joe Biden said about this similar situation, about these circumstances, back in 1992 on the Senate floor. Just listen and decide for yourself.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BIDEN (1992): President Bush should consider following the practice of a majority of his predecessors and not -- and not name a nominee until after the November election is completed.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BREAM: All right, George, this week he spoke about this. He said there is no such thing as a Biden rule, but the reference back to those remarks is a bit tough for him and the administration.

WILL: There wasn't a Biden rule until Republican leaders decided to take his pronouncement as ex-cathedral somehow and suddenly to worship Biden's theories on this stuff. Consider the case today -- this week of Jerry Moran. Very conservative senator from the conservative state of Kansas. He said we ought perhaps to have hearings. I won’t vote for him. We’ve got 50-some 54 senators who can vote him down, but have the hearing, discuss the place of the Supreme Court and the American regime’s role supervising democracy and all the rest, and then vote on it. And he's now being denounce as a rhino, a Republican (INAUDIBLE).

BREAM: Let -- let me talk you through a little bit of that, so people know exactly what he said. He said earlier this week, "I'd rather have you complaining to me," apparently talking to constituents, "that I voted wrong on nominating somebody than saying I'm not doing my job." The response then from the Tea Party patriots was, quote, "if this kind of outrageous behavior that leads Tea Party patriots citizens fund activists and supporters to think seriously about encouraging a primary opponent to run against Senator Moran in the August GOP primary."

He then put out a subsequent statement saying this, "I am opposed to President Obama's Supreme Court nominee and this administration attempt to put another liberal judge on the Supreme Court. As I have said since the vacancy was created, I believe I have a duty to ask tough questions and demand answers."

Kirsten, he's not the only Republican cracking a door open to at least a meeting.

POWERS: Right. Right.

BREAM: Some of them, a hearing.

POWERS: Well -- yes. And, look, John Roberts has -- has said, you know, the Supreme Court chief justice has said that he's concerned about the process of how we are now selecting our Supreme Court nominees, that they’re now --

BREAM: But I do believe he said that before this whole Garland thing came up, just to clarify.

POWERS: Right, before this. I’m sorry, he’s not -- not talking about this, but he was talking about the fact that they’ve become, on both sides, it's become very much a party line vote where it didn't used to be that and he said we're not -- it suggests that we're not looking at their qualification. And I think that that's what's going on here. It’s just the idea that you would let this person come up, you would assess their qualifications and then decide whether to vote them -- vote for them or not is now considered out of bounds.

RILEY: But I think what conservatives are upset about is that there shouldn't be a different set of rules for Republicans and a different set of rules for Democrats. And that's what's going on here.

For dozens of -- of Republican judicial nominees have been denied hearings by Democrats during election years. We have Biden's comments before, Chuck Schumer of the Senate, the senator from New York has said something similarly. More recently. President Obama himself wanted to filibuster Justice Alito’s nomination. So I think the -- I don’t have a problem with holding hearings either. Hold them and -- and -- and vote "no" if you don't want him as the next Supreme Court justice. But, at the same time, let's make sure the rules apply equally to both sides.

WILLIAMS: But -- but-- but I don't understand, if you look back to Kennedy with -- under the Reagan years, it was a Democratic majority, they approved it (ph). I think Alito, I think Justice Roberts. I could go on. These Democratic majority in the Senate --

BREAM: Those weren’t election year --

WILLIAMS: No, but I'm saying a Democratic majority gave a Republican president his nominee. And I think that going into this situation you have people saying somehow that the presidency has already ended prematurely. I don't know where that is in the Constitution. That seems to me to be in direct contradiction to people who say we want to play by the rules, by the Constitution. This president is obligated to nominate somebody. And you can reject, but it seems to me the Senate is obligated to consider. Refusing to have a courtesy meeting, I think it’s rude.

POWERS: Listen, Joe Biden -- Joe Biden considered every nominee that came before him, and --

BREAM: Well, but -- he did, but -- but there are --

POWERS: It’s just not -- it's being mischaracterized. He actually went on in that -- to say, if the president sends someone up, we will consider this person. I mean so he -- this idea that there’s this Biden rule where you don't, during an election year --

BREAM: But he said the president shouldn’t even nominate someone.

POWERS: Well, he was -- that was -- but --

BREAM: I mean he’s taking it back a step.

POWERS: But he said, but if he does, that he would consider it. So he wasn't -- that's very different than saying, we will not consider anybody that comes up. He -- he was saying that he doesn't think that's what you should do, fine. But if you do, we'll consider it.

RILEY: I think the far more interesting question is whether Republicans are making a mistake here if Hillary wins the election and nominates someone much further to the left than Judge Garland.

BREAM: I think that’s very much a possibility.

WILL: Republicans are making a mistake prior to the election. Public opinion is clearly against them on this. Ayotte, incumbent senators, Republican senators, Ayotte in New Hampshire, Toomey in Pennsylvania, Portman in Ohio, Johnson in Wisconsin, all in for tough races it looks like. Could this be the margin of -- of the difference if one or more of them loses? The answer is yes.

BREAM: I’ve got to say, this week the Little Sisters of the Poor case was argued over the HHS contraceptive mandate as relates to non-profit religious groups and it will likely end in a 4-4 split is our best guess at this point. There’s no way to really tell. But this is one of those case that illustrates how critical that fifth vote or this next seat is going to be in deciding someone on the bench. And it seems like both parties are taking a bit of a gamble with this.

WILLIAMS: Well, I think that's right now. And that’s -- that's a very interesting case because the Little Sisters say they object even to this conscious clause that allows people who object to that kind of contraception to be part of a health care system. But it ultimately comes down to people arguing that an employer can't dictate an employee's sex life. I don't know how it gets settled, but it seems to me it's not --

BREAM: Well --

WILLIAMS: You know, it's a -- it’s a fight against Obamacare. And I think this court with Roberts even --

BREAM: Well, I will --

WILLIAMS: Has affirmed that.

BREAM: I will say that the nuns have said they want nothing to do with dismantling the overall law. They don't want to sign what they see is a permission slip for their health care plan to be used for things that --

WILLIAMS: Right.

BREAM: Object to the very tenants of their faith.

All right, thank you very much, panel. We’ll see you next Sunday.

Up next, a final note on this Easter weekend.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BREAM: A look now at some of Belgium’s famous chocolates as they prepared for Easter, despite a somber mood in Brussels after Tuesday’s attacks.

That is it for us today. Have a great week. Happy Easter to those of you celebrating.

We'll leave you with a look at the beautiful cherry blossom trees in full bloom around the title basin here in Washington.

And we'll see you next "Fox News Sunday."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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